Sunday, June 13, 2010

Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs under the Turkish Yoke

Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs under the Turkish Yoke - Commemorated on the Third Sunday after Pentecost (http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/neomartyres-ceb7-cebfcebccebfcebbcebfceb3ceb9ceb1-cf84cf89cebd-cebdceb5cebfcebcceb1cf81cf84cf85cf81cf89cebd-1.jpg)
  
St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, the author of the New Martyrologion (the primary Greek anthology of the lives of Orthodox New Martyrs who suffered for Christ under the Turkish yoke), composed a service in praise of all Neomartyrs to be commemorated on the Third Sunday following Pentecost. The following are two quotes from a sermon of St. Nikodemos in praise of the Neomartyrs (Note: the following two quotes and the hymns below are all amateur translations):

“How can one not feel the need to thank God, seeing that under their heavy yoke and slavery were kept so many champions? To preserve the freedom and the people of our Christian faith, they refused riches, glory, pleasures and every bodily repose, and delivered themselves first of all to death. How is it not worthy to glorify God, seeing the fear of the coming judgment compel so many brave Martyrs? The desire for the good things of heaven to conquer them? The faith to strengthen their souls so greatly? Hope to captivate their minds? And the fire of divine love to be lit within their hearts so greatly? How did these blessed ones run towards martyrdom, as sheep to the slaughter? And how they counted their tortures as a phantasy, and their prisons as palaces, and their bonds as golden adornments, and their indignities as precious, their turmoils as rest, the flame of fire as dew and repose, swords as toys, and ultimately, the most difficult death through life eternal...”

"Some behold this and ask, for what reason was God pleased to bring about new Martyrs in these times? We note the following five things: A. that there be a renewal of the whole Orthodox faith. B. that those of other faiths be without defense on the Day of Judgment. C. that they might be the glory and the boast of the Church of the East, and the reproach and despised by the heterodox. D. that they might be an example of patience to all Orthodox Christians that are tyrannized under the heavy yoke of slavery. E. and finally, that they bravely compel through the martyrical work until death all Christians who at some point are called to martyrdom, especially those who had formerly denied the Orthodox faith."

These New Martyrs came from all walks of life, all ages, and all professions. Some were clergy and monastics, others were lay men and women. Some were faithful Christians, others had denied Christ but returned to Him, and still others had converted to Orthodoxy from islam and proceeded to suffer for Christ. Many of the most-beloved Orthodox Saints help comprise this glorious band of Neomartyrs (e.g. St. Kosmas Aitolos, Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, St. George of Ioannina, St. Constantine of Hydra, St. Polydoros, St. Theodore the Byzantine, Sts. Euthemios, Akakios and Ignatios, St. Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Philothei of Athens, St. Seraphim Archbishop of Phanarion, St. Chryse the New of Meglin, St. Argyre, and many, many more).

For an excellent book of the lives of many Neomartyrs under the Turkish yoke, see: Witnesses for Christ by Vaporis.
  
May we all imitate their struggle till death for Christ, and may they intercede for us all!

   
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
The New Martyrs trampled upon the ancient error, and lifted up the faith of the Orthodox, and struggled valiantly. The faith of the lawless they despised, and they proclaimed Christ with boldness as perfect God. And they ever intercede unceasingly that great mercy be granted to us.

Kontakion in the First Tone
Rejoice mystically, O Church of Christ, seeing your sons, the Neomartyrs, surrounding your table and altar as olive trees, arrayed as newly-illumined stars, and to the Creator cry out: You are the strength of the Martyrs, O Christ.

Oikos
We ever, O bretheren, have need to remember and wonder at the inscrutable judgments of the providence of our man-loving God, Who even during the long period of tyrannical slavery of our people, worked a multitude of good things for our tyrannized souls. And especially, through this and from this, the glorious boasts, the friends of Christ, and the heavenly treasuries grew forth bearing fruit, Newly-revealed Martyrs. They are now worthy to be praised, for these who were brave in soul, and arrayed with the power of Christ as a breastplate, counted all things of life as refuse, and did not at all spare their flesh, and struggled bravely in the stadium, and were triumphant against the impiety of the Hagarenes, and proclaimed the faith of Christ with boldness, and because of this, suffered many forms of tortures bravely, and struggled until the end, and were granted the crown of martyrdom. To the Bestower-of-crowns let us cry out: You are the strength of the Martyrs, O Christ.

(amateur translation of the Greek service of the Synaxis of the Holy Neomartyrs (written by St. Nikodemos) available here: http://agioreitika.blogspot.com/2007/06/ako.html)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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