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April 21

1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR JANUARIUS AND OTHERS WITH HIM

This saint was the bishop of Benevento in Italy. At the time of persecution under Maximian, Januarius was brought before the court and tortured in various ways, which he blamelessly and patiently endured. When they cast him into the fire, the fire was cooled by an invisible dew and the martyr stood unharmed amidst the flames and sang praises to God. Then they scrapped his body with iron brushes until the bones shown white, which the martyr innocently and patiently endured. His Deacon Festus and Lector Desiderius witnessed the suffering of the martyr and wept for their spiritual father. Then they bound both of them and together with Bishop Januarius brought them to the city of Puteoli [near Naples] and cast them into prison. In this same prison for the sake of Christ, were Sussos, Deacon of Miseno and Proculus, Deacon of Puzzuoli and two Christian laymen Euticius and Acutius. The next day all seven of them were thrown before the wild beasts. The wild beasts did not touch them. They were all beheaded and the Christians of the city of Naples secretly carried away to their city the body of St. Januarius and buried it honorably in church. To the present day numerous miracles have occurred at the grave of this saint. Among the many miracles one is particularly remembered i.e., a poor widow whose only son had died removed the icon of St. Januarius from the church and placed it on the body of her dead son, sobbing and praying to the saint. Her son became alive. St. Januarius honorably suffered in the year 305 A.D.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR THEODORE AND OTHERS WITH HIM

Theodore suffered for the Faith of Christ in Perga of Pamphylia during the reign of Antonius. Theodore was young and of handsome countenance. When the governor of that province chose him, along with other young men, who were to be sent to the imperial court for service, Theodore objected and declared that he is a Christian. Because of that, he underwent many kinds of tortures and was then tossed into the fire. But, water bubbled out of the ground and quenched the fire. The governor attributed this to some magic of Theodore. But, the martyr said: "This is not the work of my power but Christ my God. If you want to know the power of your gods, light another fire and toss in one of your soldiers and then I hope you will see their power and the Almighty power of my God." Indeed, the governor wanted to cast one of his soldiers into the fire but they, out of fear, implored him to throw in their place Dioscorus, the pagan priest. The pagan priest Dioscorus then begged the governor to throw in the idol of Zeus and the other idols and, if they are gods, they will easily save themselves. Dioscorus said this because he had turned to Christ in his heart since he saw the miracle that took place with St. Theodore. Learning of this, the governor sentenced Dioscorus to death by burning; also delivered over to death by the governor were Theodore and the two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius and Theodore's mother, Philippa. Theodore was crucified on a cross on which he expired on the third day. Socrates and Dionysius were pierced with a spear and Philippa was beheaded. All were crowned with the wreaths of glory in the Kingdom of Christ.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT THEODORE THE MARTYR

I serve one King and another I cannot,

I serve the Living Christ, Lord and God!

Thus said Theodore to the Roman governor,

The governor looked upon him as upon a beautiful picture,

And, at first, began to dissuade him quietly

But all dissuasions remained to no avail

In a fiery furnace, with companions two,

Theodore's mouth, all filled with Psalms.

God, with a cold dew, over the terrible fire, poured

In the midst of the fire, Theodore, to his Lord prays,

That, before his death, his mother once more to see.

According to Your mercy O God, do this for me!

And the mother [Philippa] in the furnace, appeared to her son,

To one another said what had to be said.

Philippa, the aged mother the governor summons,

The aged one obediently responded to him

I called you, said he, to counsel your son

To openly deny the Nazarene,

And to acknowledge the gods of the Roman Empire

If you wish that your son not die.

And Philippa said: before I gave birth to him

I prayed to God: Lord, have mercy!

And a reply I received, that I will live

To see my son crucified for Christ.

And now, that is why toward death I am indifferent

For the death of the both of us, to God I am grateful.

REFLECTION

"Guard your heart!" These words were spoken in the past by experienced ascetics. Father John of Kronstadt says the same thing in our days: "The heart is refined, spiritual and heavenly by nature; guard it. Do not overburden it, do not make it earthly; be temperate to the utmost in food and drink and, in general, in bodily pleasures. The heart is the temple of God. `If anyone destroys God's temple, God willdestroy that person' (1 Corinthians 3:17)." Spiritual experience in ancient times and spiritual experience in our time is identical, under the condition that the confession of faith is identical. Heavenly knowledge, to which the ascetics of old arrived, does not differ from the heavenly knowledge to which the ascetics of today arrive. For as Christ is the same today and tomorrow so it is the same with human nature. What is important: the human heart is the same; his thirst, and his hunger, is the same; and nothing is able to satisfy him but the glory, power and riches of God.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How when He appears to the apostles, He appears to all of us;

2. How His resurrection is the proof of eternal life and announcement of eternal life to all of mankind.

HOMILY

About Christ in the hearts of the faithful

"And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:17).

That person does not have Christ who only has Him on his tongue. Neither does that person have Christ who has Him only on paper. Neither does that person have Christ who has Him only on the wall. Neither does that person have Christ that has Him in the museum of the past. That person, in truth, has Christ who has Him in his heart. For Christ is Love and the throne of love is the heart.

If Christ is in your heart then, for you, He is God. If He is only on your tongue, or on paper or on a wall, or in the museum of the past and even though you call Him God, for you, He is but a toy. Beware then, O man, for no one can play around with God without punishment.

The heart apparently is a narrow organ, but God can dwell in it. When God dwells in it, then it is filled and overly filled and nothing else can position itself in it. If, however, the whole world were to settle in it, it remains empty without God.

Brethren, let Christ, the resurrected and living Lord, pour faith into your hearts and your hearts will be filled and overly filled. He cannot enter and dwell into your hearts except through your faith. If you do not possess faith, Christ will remain only on your tongue or on your paper or on your wall or in the museum of the past. What kind of benefit do you have from that? What kind of benefit do you have to hold life on your tongue and death in your heart? For, if you hold the world in your heart and Christ on your tongue, you hold death in your heart and life on your tongue. Water on the tongue of the thirsty does not help. Lower the living Christ into your heart and you will be permeated with the truth and you will sense unspeakable sweetness.

O resurrected Lord, cleanse our hearts from the deadly guests who dwell in it and You Yourself take up dwelling in it, that we may live and glorify You.
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