Holy Martyr Neophytos
Neophytos came from Nicaea in Bithynia and was the son of Christian parents, who were called Theodore and Florence. He lived during the reign of Decius and Diocletian in 290. From the beginning of his life he was full of God's grace. When he was still nine years old and was studying together with other children, he used to pray and miraculously feed the children. Moreover, a dove came to his bed and was protecting him. Because the dove spoke with a human voice, his mother was scared but the saint assurred her through his prayer. Then he left for Mount Olympus. The dove guided him and pointed out a cave for him to enter. He did so and sent away the wild beast which was in the cave, thus, making it his dwelling place where he was fed by a divine Angel.
When he was elever years old, guided by divine revelation, he descended from the mountain and went to his parents. He greeted them, gave their possessions to the poor and returned to Mount Olympus. When he was fifteen years old, he was guided by a divine Angel and presented himself to king Dacius. Because the saint spoke out his faith, he was martyred.
Commemoration of the Miracle of Cana of Galilee
On this day, the Church celebrates the commemoration of the miracle of our Lord Jesus at Cana of Galilee, the first miracle our the Lord performed after His baptism.
"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!" This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him" (John 2:1-11).
To Him be glory with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Departure of St. Theophilus the Monk
On this day also, we commemorate the departure of St. Theophilus the monk. He was the only son of the king of one of the Roman islands.
He was brought up in Christian faith and knowledge. When he was twelve years old he read in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, "You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail" (Hebrews 1:10-12; Psalm 102:25-27).
Then he read in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment-- and I think I also have the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 7:1, 2, 7, 40).
He also read the words of Jesus in the Holy Bible, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21).
Theophilus left his father's house in disguise. He went from one monastery to another until he arrived in Alexandria. From there, he went to the "Glass Monastery." When St. Boctor, the Abbot of the monastery, saw him and knew that he was a descendant of kings, he received him well and blessed him and asked him about his story.
St. Boctor was greatly surprised, glorified God and accepted him in the monastery. When he saw his virtues he clothed him in a monk's tunic.
Ten years later, some soldiers sent by his father came and took him by force. When he appeared in front of his father, his father could not recognise him, for his ascetic life changed him.
The saint revealed his identity to his father who rejoiced greatly. The saint started to preach to his father about life, death and eternal judgement. His father removed the crown from his head and abdicated; relinquishing his throne to his brother.
He went with his wife and St. Theophilus his son to the "Glass monastery," where he became a monk and stayed with his son. His wife became a nun. They all lived an ascetic life in worship and in virtue until the end of their lives. When they completed their course, they departed in peace.
Martyrdom of St. Dimiana
On this day also, we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Dimiana the only daughter of "Mark," the Governor of El-Brollos and El-Zaafaran.
When she was one year old, her father took her to the church which was in the monastery of El-Maima. He offered alms, lit candles and oblations so that God might bless her and keep her in His care.
When she was fifteen years old her father wanted her to get married, but she refused and told him that she had consecrated herself to Christ. When she felt that her father was pleased with her intention, she asked him to build for her a place where she could worship God with her virgin friends; he built her the house that the wanted. She lived in that house with forty other virgins. They spent their time reading the holy scriptures and in worship.
After a while, Emperor Diocletian sent for her father and asked him to worship the idols. He refused at first, but later he accepted and worshipped the idols. When he returned back, his daughter Dimiana knew what had transpired and she rushed to meet him.
She did not greet him, but said, "What is it that I heard?" I would have preferred to hear about your death rather than to hear that you have renounced your faith and left the God Who created you. Take note that if you do not return to your first faith and renounce the worship of idols, you are not my father and I am not your daughter," and she left him.
Her father was greatly moved by the words of his daughter, and he wept bitterly. In haste, he went to Diocletian and confessed the Lord Jesus. When the Emperor could not convince him by threats nor by promises, he ordered him beheaded.
When Diocletian knew that St. Dimiana was the cause for her father renouncing the idols, he sent her a prince who tried gently to convince her to worship the idols. Then he threatened that if she did not heed his orders, she would be beheaded.
The prince went to her with two hundred soldiers and some instruments of torture. He said to her, "I am a messenger sent by Emperor Diocletian, commanding you by his order to worship his gods, so that he can grant you all that you want. The saint shouted in his face saying, "May God denounce the messenger and the one who sent him. Are you not ashamed to call stones and wood gods, which are inhabited by devils? There is no god in heaven or on earth except God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Eternal Creator, the Everlasting, who knows all the secrets and who can throw you in hell where there is everlasting pain. As for me, I am a maidservant of my Master and my Savior Jesus Christ to Him I confess and upon Him I depend, and with His Name I die, and by Him I live forever.
The prince hecame exceedingly angry and ordered her to be placed in the torturing press, until her blood poured out of her body, while the virgins her companions were watching and weeping. When they put her in prison the angel of the Lold appeared to her and touched her body and she was healed of all her wounds.
The prince used all his evil imagination to torture her, once by cutting her flesh and another time by putting her in boiling fat and oil. Through it all the Lord was with her. When the prince saw that his torture was in vain, he ordered her and all the other virgins with her to be beheaded. They were granted the crowns of martyrdom.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.