January 21, 2023 - Toba 13, 1739
Commemoration of the Miracle at Cana of Galilee
On this day, the church celebrates the commemoration of the miracle that our Lord Jesus Christ performed at Cana of Galilee. It was the first miracle that our Lord Jesus performed after His baptism. He was invited to the wedding with His virgin mother, St. Mary, and also some of His disciples. 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. There were set there six water pots of stone. Jesus said to them. Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, Draw some out now and take it to the master of the feast. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, he said to the bridegroom, Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine and when the guests have well drunk, then that which is inferior; but you have kept the good wine until now. This was the beginning of the signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him. (John 2:1-11) To Him is the Glory with His Good Father and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.
Departure of St. Theophilus, the Monk
On this day also, St. Theophilus the Monk, departed. He was the only son of a king of one of the Roman islands. He brought him up well in the Christian faith and knowledge. When he was 12 years old, he read in the epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, And you, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works 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) 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... and I think I also have the spirit of God. (I Corinthians 7:1,2,7,40) He also read in the holy gospel the words of the Lord, 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 and all that was his, and went out 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 by the spirit that he was a descendant of kings, he received him well and blessed him. He asked him about his story. St. Boctor was greatly surprised and glorified God and accepted him in the monastery. When he saw his successful, virtuous, and active spiritual life, he clothed him in the holy Eskeem. Ten years later, some soldiers sent by Theophilus' father came and took him by force. When he came before his father, he could not recognize him, for asceticism had changed his appearance. The saint revealed his identity to his father, who rejoiced greatly. The saint started to preach to his father telling him about life, death and judgement. His words left a mark in the heart of his father. His father took the crown off his head, relinquishing his throne to his brother. He went with his wife and St. Theophilus, their son to the Glass monastery, where the king became a monk and stayed with his son. St. Theophilus' mother became a nun in a convent. They all lived an ascetic life in worship and in virtue until the end of their days. When they completed their strife, they departed in peace. May Their prayers be with us. Amen.
Martyrdom of St. Demiana
On this day also, St. Demiana was martyred. This chaste and fighter virgin, was the daughter of Mark, Governor of El-Borollus, El-Zaafran, and Wadi Al-Saysaban in the Northern delta of the valley of the Nile. She was the only daughter to her parents. When she was one year old, her father took her to the church of the monastery of Al-Maymah. He offered alms, 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 be wed. She refused, and told him that she had vowed herself a bride to the Lord Christ. When she saw that her father was pleased with her intention, she asked him to build her a place where she could worship God in seclusion with her virgin friends. He fulfilled her wish and built her the house that she wanted. She lived in it with forty other virgins. They spent their time reading the holy scripture and in worship.
Shortly after, Emperor Diocletian sent for Mark, St. Demiana's father, and ordered him to worship the idols. He refused at first, but after the Emperor appeased him he obeyed his order and worshipped the idols and forsook the Creator of the Universe. When Mark returned to his official seat, and St. Demiana knew what had transpired, she rushed to meet him. She did not greet him, but said, What is it that I heard about you? I would have preferred to hear about your death rather than to hear that you have renounced your faith and forsaken the God Who created you from non-existence into being, to worship gods made by hands. Take note that if you do not return to your first faith and renounce the worship of stones, 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 Christ. When the Emperor could not convince him with threats and promises, he ordered him beheaded.
When Diocletian knew that the one who turned Mark from worshipping the idols was St. Demiana, his daughter. He sent her a prince to try first gently to convince her to worship idols, and if she disobeyed him to behead her. The prince went to her with two hundred soldiers and the instruments of torture. When he arrived at her palace, he said to her, I am a messenger sent from Emperor Diocletian. I came to call upon you according to the Emperor's orders, 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 by whom he was sent. Don't you have any shame at all to call stones and wood gods which are inhabited by devils? There is no god in heaven or on earth except one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Eternal Creator, the Everlasting, Who is everywhere, Who knows all the secrets, and Who can throw you in hell where is the everlasting torment. As for me, I am the maidservant of my Master and my Savior Jesus Christ, and His Good Father and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, Him I confess and upon Him I depend, and in His Name I die, and by Him I live forever.
The prince became exceedingly angry and ordered her to be placed in the Hinbazeen (the squeezing press), until her blood poured out of her body on the ground. The virgins were standing weeping over her. When they put her in prison, the angel of the Lord appeared to her, touched her body with his illumined wings, and she was healed of all her wounds. The prince used all his evil imagination to torture St. Demiana, once by tearing her flesh and another time by placing her in boiling oil. Through it all the Lord raised her up safely. When the prince saw that all his attempts were in vain, before the steadfastness of this pure virgin he ordered her beheaded, and all the other virgins with her. Thus, they all received the crowns of martyrdom. May Their prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.