Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


17 Entries

10. If any man receive not Baptism, he hath not salvation; except only Martyrs, who even without the water receive the kingdom. For when the Saviour, in redeeming the world by His Cross, was pierced in the side, He shed forth blood and water; that men, living in times of peace, might be baptized in water, and, in times of persecution, in their own blood. For martyrdom also the Saviour is wont to call a baptism, saying, Can ye drink rite cup which I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with[1]? And the Martyrs confess, by being made a spectacle unto the world, and to Angels, and to men[2] Catechetical Lectures Of Our Holy Father, Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem - Lecture 3. On Baptism

Blessed is God! In our time as well martyrs have come forth, and we have been made worthy to see people sacrificed for the Lord Christ, people who shed their holy blood to irrigate the entire Church. We have been made worthy to see people, advocates of piety, who are victorious, who are crowned......and we now have these crowned ones among us. St John Chrysostom

Bring on the fire and the cross. Bring on the packs of wild beasts. Let there be the breaking and dislocating of my bones and the severing of my limbs. Bring on the mutilation of my whole body. In fact, bring on all the diabolical tortures of Satan. Only let me attain to Jesus Christ! ... I would rather die for Jesus Christ than to reign over the ends of the entire earth. Ignatius the God-bearer(50-100 AD) Letter to the Romans chap. 5

Grant us Thy patience, Lord,
in these our woeful days,
The mob's wrath to endure,
The torturer's ire;
Thy unction to forgive
Our neighbors' persecution
And mild, like Thee, to bear
A bloodstained Cross.
And when the mob prevails,
And foes come to despoil us,
To suffer humbly shame,
O Saviour aid us!
And when the hour comes
To pass the last dread gate,
Breathe strength in us to pray,
Father forgive them! Tsarevna Martyr Olga Nikolaevna, 1918

If it were possible to describe all the different tortures which were devised for their affliction, everything that the enemy, the devil, has inflicted upon the martyrs and ascetics who loved God, it would be seen how much they endured and how they have wrestled, triumphing over the weakness of the flesh by the courage of the soul. They attained to those good things for which they hoped by counting them more worthy than the trials of this earthly life. This provides a demonstration of the solid quality of their faith in two way. On the one hand, that having endured a little, they now enjoy great benefits in eternity. On the other hand, that they so cheerfully endured the physical torments with which the adversary the devil afflicted them. If therefore we endure affliction and persevere, with the help of God. we shall be found to be friends of God indeed. And God will be with us, fighting shoulder to shoulder with us in the battle, greatly alleviating that which we must endure. Abba Palladios in The Spiritual Meadow of John Moschos

On the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia

O holy martyrs, you were not frightened By the supple sword because you took courage In the fire of divinity, which you had put on. Because you had met with frost and cold And endured lightning flashes from on high, You gained crowns.

Casting aside all the armor of the flesh, You advanced, naked, into the midst of the lake. Tortured by cold, yet warmed by faith, You passed through fire and water, Worthily victorious; in the sight of God You gained crowns.

Holy ones who did not fear the supple sword, When you were willingly cast into the icy lake, You were nobly patient under the whips of the tyrants. Now the powers of Heaven rejoice, And the race of men is happy and delighted because You gained crowns. The Kontakia of Romanos, V. II

The more you cut us down, the more in number we grow. The blood of Christians is seed.... For after thinking about it, who among you is not eager to find out what is really at the bottom of it all? And after inquiring, who does not end up embracing our teachings? And when he has embraced them, who does not also willingly suffer so that he may partake fully of God's grace? Tertullian (140-230 AD) First Apology chap. 50)

They have assembled from every city, and they have become our compatriots. They have come home from the whole world, and they join with us in inviting the world As participants of a high festival. Creation below rejoices with that above, For the angels cry out with us: "Truly Thou art wonderful among Thy saints, O All-Merciful." St Romanos the Melodist - Vol. II, On All Martyrs

When people see that men are lacerated by various kinds of tortures yet remain unsubdued even when their very torturers are worn out, they come to believe that the agreement of so many and the unyielding faith of the dying is not without meaning. [They realize] that human perseverance alone could not endure such tortures without the aid of God. Even robbers and men of robust frame are unable to endure tortures of this kind.... But among us, boys and delicate women-not to speak of men-silently overcome their torturers. Even the fire is unable to extort a groan from them.... These persons-the young and the weaker sex-do not endure mutilation and burning of their whole bodies because they have no other choice. They could easily avoid this punishment if they wished to [by denying Christ]. But they endure it willingly because they put their trust in God. Lactantius (260-330 AD) Institutes bk. 5. chara. 13)

I say that martyrs of that time excel all martyrs,for martyrs hitherto have wrestled with men only ,but in the time of antichrist they shall battle with satan in his own person. St Cyril of Jerusalem

I say that martyrs of that time excel all martyrs,for martyrs hitherto have wrestled with men only ,but in the time of antichrist they shall battle with satan in his own person. St Cyril of Jerusalem

Since the faith had initially not been spread through the whole world alike, many areas of the earth were without martyrs. This I think is why Christ has both inspired princes (in the first place when Constantine was Caesar) and acquainted His servants with His most generous decision to summon martyrs from their earlier homes and translate them to fresh lodging on earth. So, for example, we know of the recent action of the holy Bishop Ambrose, relying on this gift, he translated and set in a different church saints who were earlier unknown but whom he later identified on the information of Christ. [Sts. Gervasius and Protasius]. The Poems of St. Paulinus of Nola.

"At the Lord's table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps" St. Augustine of Hippo, Homilies on John 84 [A.D. 416]

"There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for the dead who are remembered. For it is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended" St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermons 159:1 [A.D. 411]

"It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them, and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers. But we build altars not to any martyr, but to the God of martyrs, although it is to the memory of the martyrs. No one officiating at the altar in the saint's burying place ever says, we bring an offering to thee O Peter!, or O Paul!, or O Cyprian! The offering is made to God, who gave the crown of martyrdom, while it is in memory of those thus crowned." St. Augustine of Hippo, Reply to Faustus the Manichaen bk. 20 ch. 21, NPNF I 4:262

"Those who behold them embrace, as it were, a living body in full flower: they bring eye, mouth, ear, all the senses into play, and then, shedding tears of reverence and passion, they address to the martyr their prayers of intercession as though he were present." St. Gregory of Nyssa, Enconium on St. Theodore, PG 46:740B, quoted in: "The Cult of the Saints", Page 11, Peter Brown, Chicago University Press)

In the baptism of water is received the remission of sins, in the baptism of blood the crown of virtues. St. Cyprian of Carthage, Exhortation to Martyrdom, A.D. 252 or 257

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