March 29 (old calendar) / April 11 (new)
Hieromartyr Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, Martyr Cyril the Deacon, of Heliopolis, and others who suffered under Julian the Apostate (ca. 364). Ven. John, Anchorite, of Egypt (4th c.). St. Eustathius the Confessor, Bishop of Bithynia (9th c.). Saint Niketas of the Roslavl Forests (Russia—1793).
SAINT MARK BISHOP OF ARETHUSA
Hieromartyr Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, suffered for his faith in Christ under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). By order of the emperor Constantine (May 21), Saint Mark had once destroyed a pagan temple and built a Christian church.
When Julian came to the throne, he persecuted Christians and tried to restore paganism. Some citizens of Arethusa renounced Christianity and became pagans. Then Saint Mark’s enemies decided to take revenge on him. The old bishop hid himself from the persecutors at first, but then gave himself up when he learned that the pagans had tortured many people in their search for him.
The holy Elder was led through the city and given over to torture. They tore out his hair, slashed his body, dragged him along the street, dumped him in a swamp, tied him up, and cut him with knives.
The pagans demanded that the holy bishop pay them a large sum of money to rebuild the pagan temple, and he refused to do so. The persecutors invented several new torments: they squeezed the Elder in a foot-press, and they cut off his ears with linen cords. Finally, they smeared the holy martyr’s body with honey and grease, then hung him up in a basket in the hot mid-day sun to be eaten by bees, wasps, and hornets. Saint Mark did not seem to notice the pain, and this irritated the tormentor all the more.
The pagans kept lowering the price he had to pay for their temple, but Saint Mark refused to give them a single coin. Admiring him for his courage and endurance, the pagans stopped asking him for money and set him free. Many of them returned to Christ after hearing his talks.
Saint Gregory the Theologian (January 25) describes the sufferings of Saint Mark in his First Oration against Julian. Theodoritus of Cyrrhus also mentions him in his CHURCH HISTORY (Book 3, Ch. 6)
Troparion of the saint, tone 3
In preparation for the contest, you anointed an assembly of martyrs / and bolstered them by your steadfastness, O glorious Mark. / You finished your course together with them / and all of you were found worthy of the joy of heaven. / Righteous father, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy. /
(Kontakion not provided in Typikon)
Isaiah 42:5-16 (6th Hour)
- Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it:
- “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles,
- to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
- I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.
- Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
- Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you coastlands and you inhabitants of them!
- Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits. Let the inhabitants of Sela sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.
- Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands.
- The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies.
- “I have held My peace a long time, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once.
- I will lay waste the mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation; I will make the rivers coastlands, and I will dry up the pools.
- I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.
Genesis 18:20-33 (Vespers, 1st reading)
- And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,
- “I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
- Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord.
- And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
- “Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?
- “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
- So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”
- Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:
- “Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?” So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”
- And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?” So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”
- Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
- And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”
- Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”
- So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Proverbs 16:17-17:17 (Vespers, 2nd reading)
- The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he who keeps his way preserves his soul.
- Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
- Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
- He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
- The wise in heart will be called prudent, and sweetness of the lips increases learning.
- Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly.
- The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.
- Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
- There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
- The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on.
- An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire.
- A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.
- A violent man entices his neighbor, and leads him in a way that is not good.
- He winks his eye to devise perverse things; he purses his lips and brings about evil.
- The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.
- He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
- The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
- Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.
- A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame, and will share an inheritance among the brothers.
- The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.
- An evildoer gives heed to false lips; a liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
- He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
- Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.
- Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool, much less lying lips to a prince.
- A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor; wherever he turns, he prospers.
- He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.
- Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool.
- An evil man seeks only rebellion; Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
- Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.
- Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.
- The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
- He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.
- Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?
- A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.