These five courageous men shone as five shining stars in the dark days of the Christ-persecuting Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. St. Eustratius was a Roman commander in the city of Satalionus, Eugenius was his companion in the army and Orestes, likewise, was a distinguished soldier, Auxentius, was a priest and Mardarius, an ordinary citizen and compatriot of Eustratius both from the town of Arabrak. The imperial deputies Lysias and Agricolus first tortured Auxentius as he was a priest. Seeing the innocent suffering of Christians, Eustratius himself appeared to Lysias and declared that he also was a Christian. While Eustratius was being tortured, Eugenius appeared before the judge and cried out: "Lysias, I, too, am a Christian." When Eustratius was led through the town of Arabrak with the other martyrs, Mardarius saw them from the roof of his house, took leave of his wife and two young children and rushed after them shouting into the faces of the tormentors: "I, too, am a Christian as is my lord Eustratius." When he was target practicing in the presence of Lysias, the cross he was wearing fell from his chest and Lysias realized that he was a Christian after which Orestes openly confessed his faith. Orestes was a young and handsome soldier and by his stature towered above all the other soldiers. Auxentius was beheaded, Eugenius and Madarius died while being tortured, Orestes expired on a red-hot iron grid and Eustratius died in a fiery furnace. St. Blaise [February 11] administered Holy Communion to St. Eustratius in prison before his death. Their relics were later taken to Constantinople and buried in the church dedicated to them จร The Holy Five Companions. They were seen alive in that church and St. Orestes appeared to St. Dimitri of Rostov (October 28). A beautiful prayer by St. Eustratius is extant which is read at the Midnight Service on Saturday: "I magnify You, I magnify You, O Lord!"
With her mother, Lucy visited the grave of St. Agatha in Catania, where St. Agatha appeared to her. Her mother who had dropsy was then miraculously healed in the church. Lucy distributed all her goods to the poor, which embittered her betrothed, who accused her of being a Christian before Paschasius the judge. The wicked judge ordered that she be taken to a brothel in order to defile her. However, by the power of God, she remained immovable as if rooted to the earth and not even a multitude of people were able to move her from that spot. Then, an enraged pagan pierced her with a sword in the throat and she gave up her soul to God and took up habitation in the Kingdom of eternity. Lucy suffered in the year 304 A.D.
During the terrible period of Turkish rule over Serbia, this great hierarch traveled to Russia where he participated in the Moscow Assembly [Synod] in 1655 A.D. Upon returning, he was accused of being a high traitor. In addition to that, certain evil Jews leveled still another accusation against him, because he had converted several Jews to the Christian Faith. In their accusation, the Jews cited that he was working on converting the Turks, that by this they would even more enrage the Turkish authorities. Brought before the tribunal, he was condemned and sentence to embrace the faith of Islam. Since Gabriel would not even hear of this, he was, after imprisonment sentenced to death and hanged in Prusa in the year 1659 A.D. Thus, he departed for his beloved Christ to receive from Him a two-fold wreath, both as a hierarch and a martyr.
THE HOLY MARTYRS EUSTRATIUS, AUXENTIUS, EUGENIUS, MARDARIUS AND ORESTES
The Companions Five, soldiers of Christ,
Fearless heroes, honorable martyrs,
Ridicules and tortures, fire and scaffolds,
For all of you, this was as child's play.
In the wantonness of Rome, not one agreed,
With a joyful heart, for Christ you suffered.
Eustratius wonderful, heroic commander
Imperial mercy and this weeping world, despised
With him as with a living fire, that burns leaves,
Went to tortures, the other companions.
Auxentius the priest, faithful servant of Christ,
Numerous mockeries, for Christ, endured;
Eugenius the soldier and Orestes wondrous
Conscious of the Resurrection, ridiculed death,
Mardarius, his wife and children, left he,
That, both them and himself, forever glorified.
O, heroic clan, children of grace,
Such men, only the Church can give,
Such hearts, only the Spirit of God creates,
He that transforms the dark abyss into flame!
Glorious martyrs, remember us also,
By your prayers, strengthen the Church.
To perform almsgiving from that which is necessary to man, that is true almsgiving. Not to sin when a man is most exposed to sinning, that has value before God. When St. Lucy saw her sick mother miraculously healed, she suggested to her that she use her possessions as alms for the needy. To this, her mother replied that she did not want to part from her possessions until her death, but agreed that after her death, her possessions be used for the good that Lucy wished. "First, cover my eyes with the earth," her mother said, "and then that which is pleasing to you, do whatever you wish with the possession." Lucy said: "It is not very pleasing to God for a person to give to Him that which he cannot take with him to the grave nor which he himself does not need, but if you want to do a god-pleasing deed give to Him that which you yourself need. After death, however, you need nothing and then you offer Him that which you cannot take with you. But, while you are still alive and healthy give to Christ of what you possess and allof that which you intended for me begin immediately to give to Him." The good mother of the wise daughter agreed to this. When the torturer Paschasius was forcing this holy virgin to carnal sin, Lucy did not, even in thought, agree to this. And when the torturer threatened that his men would defile her by force, saying with a smirk: "When you become defiled, the Holy Spirit will flee from you." Lucy full of grace, replied: "The body cannot be defiled without the consent of the mind," and St. Lucy went to her death having distributed all her goods beforehand and not defiling her young and pure body.
To contemplate the fulfillment of Noah's words upon his descendants (Genesis 9):
"And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said: 'I am the God of your father Abraham; fear not, for I am with you. I will bless you' " (Genesis 26:24).
Brethren, from time immemorial the path upon which the righteous walk is always difficult. From time immemorial, they have been hard pressed either by those who do not believe in God or by those who falsely believe. Abel was hard pressed by his brother Cain. Noah and Lot by a completely corrupt generation and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the pagans. However, God does not forsake the righteous on the difficult path alone. This we also see with Isaac: "I am the God of your father Abraham; fear not." Isaac understood these very meaningful words. By these words, God encouraged and reminded him. He wanted to say: "Because of Abraham I will bless you also; and, as I protected Abraham among the pagans so, in a like manner, will I protect you," and more: "Be faithful to Me as was Abraham your father." Isaac followed the example of his father and did not turn away from God throughout his whole life. Isaac was a plowman and a cattle-breeder as was his father, he was righteous and meek, avoiding strife with men and doing good for people. "We saw certainly that the Lord was with you" (Genesis 26:28) as his haters and persecutors finally had to admit. And Isaac was made worthy that God be called His God, just as He was called the God of Abraham so later He was also called the God of Isaac.
O, Lord, wonderful in Your saints, remember our names also along with the names of Your righteous and saints in Your Kingdom.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.