December 23, 2020

Encomium to the Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete (St. Andrew of Crete) - 1 of 3

Encomium to the Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete

(Commemorated on December 23rd)

By St. Andrew, Archbishop of Crete

To the Holy and Victorious Ten Martyrs, when in a time of a violent winter he returned from a sea voyage and planned this discourse.

1. Did you, my friends and brethren and children, long for my return? I felt some pray to see me again in this kathedra and to be with you on this glorious day of the feast, that of the Martyrs and that of Christ, the great and unique and first leader of all, which predominates on this day of bright garments, while others asked to learn something and to basically say: "Where is our father? Where is our shepherd? Where is he who makes our feasts brighter and with his presence makes the memories of the Saints shine and who especially nourishes us with his words, expounding the Holy Scriptures, and where he basically cries out, 'My children, it is the final hour, and we must approach God with awareness, and even more so to come near Him, as we see the day approaching,' just as the divine trumpet, Paul the discourser of God, cries out. Where is he, therefore, who explains to us the divine and sacred writings, and intensifies the tone of our longing by his own example? Maybe, perhaps, having gone far from his homeland, he got lost? Maybe some desire reminded him of the tender love he has for his flock, and this desire conquered the difficulties of the road and reminded him to return? Or, finally, some divine power brought him back once again and even for the day of the Saints, whom he honors with much care and fervent desire? And behold, now with more zeal from that which his strength allows, he hastened to attend to this spiritual festival. And very reasonably, because he happens to have with him the sacred larnax of their revered relics, which he brings everywhere he goes, because it makes his paths very easy and having them as fellow-travelers he journeys with security." I think many contemplated these things, when I was absent, because this is how grateful children behave towards their loving father, and this is their desire, to see me with their very eyes that I am physically present, and to hear my voice teaching them. This, therefore, is what you now see happening. I myself, hence, am to be found among you with the living word, embracing this sacred gathering here, and as a gift for my absence I offer this discourse to you and to the Martyrs of Christ. Receive him as if he had not come from a long journey, and accept with meekness that which I will offer to please the Martyrs, that you may joyfully depart the feast, adorned with flowers and having reaped from here rich fruits.

2. Today has arrived for us the feast and festival of the Saints, courteously calling the entire congregation delivered to us from our fathers, and may all the people of Crete who love martyrs be found among us, spiritually rejoicing with the Ten Martyrs and offering this feast as a preamble to the Nativity of Christ, as if they were precious gifts offered to Christ, who was born, and higher in content than that of the Magi, in as much as those at that time were material, while these current are spiritual and worthy of the greatness of Jesus. May the gifts be apparent: correct faith and active hope for the promised good things that await the worthy, as well as the loud and fiery love of genuine intimacy with God and of ascent, to which gold and myrrh and frankincense make no contribution to those who see things with their senses. Do you see with what gifts we commemorate the festival of the birth of the Savior? Do you see what great a height we have been raised to by the encomium of the Martyrs? Moreover, did you not accept with a warm disposition all that was said and did you not feel very much great gratitude towards the Athletes, who with their festival prepare us for the Nativity of Christ, as if they opened to us with their all-bright presence the entry door to the Royal feast? Therefore let us make today's feast predominant over the other feasts of the martyrs, since it is a preamble to the Theophany of the Master, although not according to the chronological order of events, but according to the month of the ecclesiastical year, in which we annually celebrate the fame of the Martyrs before the Nativity of Christ.

3. But it is time to repay our debt to the Martyrs and to show clearly by word of mouth who they were and where they came from and what call they received and from what part of the area they came from and how they came to gather in the same place. Whoever, therefore, wants can take in their hands the writings that have been written about them and learn in detail from them their names and their lives, their positions and their homelands and their families and everything that presents the excellent origin of the Men, and the reverence they had, as well as their steadfast and immovable faith. I do not think I should add to the encomiums, because my speech has not been written to tell the story of their lives. The two writings are well known, where they exist and where, in a somewhat more detailed way, they mention everything. So, what is now reasonable to say, these things will be said.