Today we celebrate the forty martyrs of Sebaste, witnesses to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
In the year 320, 40 young men (likely around 20 years old) were executed for refusing to sacrifice to idols and to obey the Emperor’s command. These young men had been conscripted to serve in the army in present day Armenia. When it came time for them to sacrifice to idols, they refused. According to one version, there were originally 39 Christians who refused to obey this order, and upon seeing their bravery, a fortieth man, who was a pagan, threw down his weapons and his military belt (a capital offense, for its disrespect to the profession) and declared that he was to die with the Christians. They were martyred by being thrown naked in a lake.
The Troparion for the feast day
Together let us honor the holy company united by faith,
Those noble warriors of the Master of all.
They were divinely enlisted for Christ,
And passed through fire and water.
Then they entered into refreshment praying for those who cry:
Glory to him who has strengthened you!
Glory to him who has crowned you!
Glory to him who has made you wonderful, O holy Forty Martyrs!
A blessed new year to all of you! Christ is born! Happy 2019!!!
On January 1, in addition to Circumcision of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, we remember one of the great Fathers of the Church, St. Basil the Great. He is known as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs; Basil’s life and writings inspire the work we do in the Church. Pray for the Parish through the intercession of St. Basil, that God may bless our work in 2019.
From a biography by St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid:
St Basil was born in the reign of the Emperor Constantine, in about 330. While still unbaptised, he spent fifteen years in Athens studying philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and other contemporary secular disciplines. Among his fellow-students were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. When already of mature years, he was in the Jordan together with his former tutor Ebulios. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for nearly ten years, and died at the age of fifty.
A great champion of Orthodoxy, a great torch of moral purity and zeal for the Faith, a great theological mind, a great builder and pillar of the Church of God, Basil fully deserved his title “the Great”. In the Office for his Feast, he is referred to as a bee of the Church of Christ, bringing honey to the faithful but stinging those in heresy. Many of the writings of this Father of the Church have survived – theological, apologetic, on asceticism and on the Canons. There is also the Liturgy that bears his name. This Liturgy is celebrated ten times in the year: on January lst, on the Eves of Christmas and the Theophany, on every Sunday in the Great Fast with the exception of Palm Sunday, and on the Thursday and Saturday in Great Week.
St Basil departed this life peacefully on January l, 379, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ.