Sunday of the Holy Fathers of Fourth Ecumenical Council
Hieromartyr Athenogenes, bishop of Herakleopolis, and his ten disciples;
the 15,000 martyrs of Pisidia who believed in Christ through St Marina
July 16, 2017
Troparion of the Resurrection – Tone 5
Let us believers praise and worship the Word; coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation. For, He took pleasure in ascending the Cross in the flesh to suffer death; and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.
Troparion of the Holy Fathers – Tone 8
Thou, O Christ, art our God of exceeding praise Who didst establish our Holy Fathers as luminous stars upon earth, and through them didst guide us unto the true Faith, O most merciful One, glory to Thee.
Troparion of St Joseph – Tone 2
Proclaim, O Joseph to David, the ancestor of God, the amazing wonder, for by the angel they were revealed unto thee. For thou hast seen a Virgin great with child, and thou gave glory with the shepherds and didst worship with the Magi. Wherefore, plead with Christ God to save our souls.
Kontakion for Ordinary Sundays – Tone 2
O undisputed intercessor of Christians, the mediatrix who is unrejected by the Creator, turn not away from the voice of our petitions, though we be sinners. Come to us with aid in time, who cry unto thee in faith, for thou art good. Hasten to us with intercessions O Theotokos, who dost ever intercede for those who honor thee.
Epistle – Titus 3:8-15
Titus, my son, the saying is sure. I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men. But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned. When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful. All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
Gospel – Matthew 5:14-19
The Lord said to His Disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Hieromartyr Athenogenes the Bishop of Heracleopolis – July 16th
Hieromartyr Athenogenes and his Ten Disciples suffered for Christ during the persecution of Christians in the city of Sebastea in Cappadocia. The governor Philomachos arranged a large festival in honor of the pagan gods and called upon the citizens of Sebastea to offer sacrifice to the idols. Most of the inhabitants of Sebastea were Christians, and refused to participate in the impious celebration. Soldiers were ordered to kill those who resisted, and many Christians received a martyr’s crown.
It came to the governor’s attention that Christianity was spreading because of the grace-filled preaching of Bishop Athenogenes. Soldiers were ordered to find the Elder and arrest him. Bishop Athenogenes and ten of his disciples lived in a small monastery not far from the city. The soldiers did not find the bishop there, so they arrested his disciples. The governor ordered that they be bound with chains and thrown into prison.
Saint Athenogenes was arrested when he came to Sebastea to inform the judge that those who had been jailed were innocent. While in prison, Saint Athenogenes encouraged his spiritual children for their impending struggle. Led forth to trial, all the holy martyrs confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols.
After undergoing fierce tortures, the disciples of the holy bishop were beheaded. After the execution of the disciples, the executioners were ordered to torture the bishop. Strengthened by the Lord, Saint Athenogenes underwent the tortures with dignity. His only request was that he be executed in the monastery.
Taken to his own monastery, the saint gave thanks to God, and he rejoiced in the sufferings that he had undergone for Him. Saint Athenogenes asked that the Lord would forgive the sins of all those who would remember both him and his disciples.
The Lord granted the saint to hear His Voice before death, announcing the promise given to the penitent thief: “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” The hieromartyr willingly bent his neck beneath the sword.