1. SAINT EPIPHANIUS, BISHOP OF CYPRUS
Epiphanius was a Jew by birth and, witnessing the Faith of Christ, was baptized with his sister Callithrope. At age twenty-six, he was tonsured a monk in the monastery of St. Hilarion. Later, he established a separate monastery where he became famous throughout all of Palestine and Egypt because of his asceticism, spiritual wisdom and miracle-working. Fleeing from the glory of men, Epiphanius withdrew to Egypt. Enroute, he met up with the great Paphnutius who predicted that he would become bishop on the island of Cyprus. Indeed, after many years, by the Divine Providence of God, Epiphanius arrived at Cyprus where he, unexpectedly was chosen as bishop. At the age of sixty, he became the bishop of Salamis and, as such, governed the Church of God for fifty-five years. He lived a total of one-hundred fifteen years on this earth and rested from this life so as to live eternally in the kingdom of Christ. Before his death, he was summoned to Constantinople by Emperor Arcadius and his wife Eudoxia to an assembly of bishops which, according to the wish of the emperor and the empress, should have condemned St. John Chrysostom. Arriving in Constantinople, Epiphanius went directly to the palace of the emperor where the emperor and empress detained him for a long while trying to persuade him to declare himself against Chrysostom. The citizens and Chrysostom heard that Epiphanius agreed with the emperor against Chrysostom. That is why Chrysostom wrote him a letter: "Brother Epiphanius, I heard that you advised the emperor that I be exiled; know ye, that you will never see your throne again." To that Epiphanius replied to him: "O suffering John, withstand insults; know ye, that you will never reach the place to which you are exiled." And both prophecies of these saints were quickly fulfilled. Not wanting to agree in anyway with the emperor to the exile of Chrysostom, Epiphanius secretly boarded a boat and departed for Cyprus, but he died on the boat. The emperor banished Chrysostom into exile to Armenia. But, this saint died enroute. St. Epiphanius rested in the year 403 A.D. Among the many works of St. Epiphanius, the most famous is the Medicine Chest [Panarium] in which eighty heresies are listed and refuted.
2. SAINT HERMAN, THE PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Herman was the son of the head imperial senator who was killed by Emperor Constantine Pogonatus. This same evil emperor castrated the senator's son, Herman, and forcibly banished him to a monastery. As a monk, Herman shone like a star by his life and good works. Because of that, he was chosen as the first bishop of Cyzicus and, when Anastatius II was crowned emperor, Herman was elected as patriarch of Constantinople. As patriarch he baptized the ill-reputed Copronymos who, during the time of his baptism, soiled the water with his uncleanliness. Then the patriarch prophesied that this child, when he becomes emperor, will introduce into the Holy Church some impure heresy. And this happened. When Copronymos became emperor, he restored the heresy of the iconoclasts. Leo Isaurian, the father of Copronymos, initiated the persecution of icons and when Patriarch Herman protested, the arrogant Leo cried out: "I am emperor and priest!" He removed Herman from the patriarchal throne and banished him to a monastery where this saint lived for ten more years until the Lord called him to Himself and to the heavenly kingdom in the year 740 A.D.
3. THE HOLY MARTYR PANCRAS
Pancras came to Rome from Phrygia where, as a fourteen-year-old boy, he was tortured and killed for Christ in the year 304 A.D. This saint is greatly revered in the west. In Rome, there exists a church dedicated to him and, in this church, his holy relics repose.
Epiphanius, follower of Christ
By bread is fed and water drinks,
By the power of Christ, miracles he performs,
As a thunderer, heresies he destroys,
Soldier of Truth, pillar of Orthodoxy.
At death, such a testament, he leaves:
Vile thirst for money, you extinguish,
The rich man, do not ever envy,
Do not hate and do not slander,
And every heresy you avoid,
All foul thoughts, as serpents, drive away
They, from believers, make unbelievers.
A sober mind you keep, tied to God,
Booty of the devil, a sober man is not.
For me a sinner, you pray to God,
With your whole life, glorify God!
Saint Clement of Alexandria tells of a horrible custom among the barbarians. He says that when they capture their enemy, they tie him alive to the corpse of a dead man, and leave them both alone that the living and dead decay together. If only it could be said: "Thank God, that this barbarian custom is past!" In essence, it has not passed, rather, it reigns today in full force. Everyone who ties their living spirit to the flesh deadened by barbarian passions is the same as the one who ties a living man to a corpse and leaves them both to decay.
To contemplate the action of the Holy Spirit on the apostles:
1. How from fishers of fish, He makes them fishermen of men for the kingdom of God;
2. How from shepherds of the irrational flock, He makes them shepherds of the rational flock.
About how men, in prosperity do not listen to the law of God
"I spoke to you in your prosperity; but you said: `I will not hear' " (Jeremiah 22:21).
The Lord of Hosts raised this complaint against Jehoiakim, the king of Judah and against the people of Judea. Are not these words in effect even today when they are spoken in the face of our people and almost, with few exceptions, to every one of us individually? When we feel ourselves prosperous, we leave God in the shadows and we render His words to oblivion; but as soon as misfortune encompasses us with its dark wings, we turn to God and cry out to Him for help. In misfortune, the commandments of God seem to us as sweet as honey but in prosperity, they seem as bitter as medicine. Is not then misfortune better than prosperity? Is not misfortune more salvific in which we seek God, than prosperity in which we forget God?
"O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!" (Jeremiah 22:29), cries out the true prophet of God. Man is the earth; the word of the Lord is life planted into that earth. Will the earth prefer to remain without the living crops and be cursed or will it nurse the crops entrusted to it and be blessed? O how ugly is the bare ravine and the barren field and how beautiful is the cultivated field covered with rich crops! O man, you are the one and the other field. Choose: death or life! Not one-householder values the field at all if it does not bear any kind of crop on it. Will God then be less intelligent than an ordinary householder and give some value to the field that fails to bear fruit from every seed that is sown on it?
What will become of man who, in his prosperity, does not listen to the words of God? "And he shall be buried with the burial of an ass" (Jeremiah 22:19). Thus spoke the prophet to King Jehoiakim and his word was realized. When the Chaldeans captured Jerusalem, they killed Jehoiakim. They dragged his body beyond the gates of the city and left it to the dogs. And that which happens to the asses, so it was with the unheeding king. O man, O earth! Hear in time the word of the Lord that the anger of the Householder does not pour out on you as on a barren field and that your end not be as the end of an ass.
O Long-suffering Lord, save us from the stoniness of heart and darkness of mind; from those two bitter diseases, the miserable consequences of those hours of life which men call prosperous. Save and have mercy on us, the Lord of Hosts!
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.