Varied are the paths upon which God leads those who desire to please Him and to fulfill His Law. There lived in Rome at the time of Emperor Honorius a high-ranking dignitary, Euphemian, who was highly respected and extremely wealthy. He and his wife, Algae, led a God-pleasing life. Even though he was wealthy, Euphemian sat at the table once a day, only after the setting of the sun. He had an only son, Alexis, who, when he had reached the age of maturity, was compelled to marry. But on that same night, he left not only his wife but the home of his father as well. Alexis boarded a boat and arrived at the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia, where there was a renown image of our Lord, sent there by our Lord Himself to Emperor Abgar. Having venerated this image, Alexis clothed himself in the dress of a beggar and, as such, lived in the city for seventeen years, continually praying to God in the vestibule of the Church of the Holy Mother of God. When it became public that he was a man of God, he became frightened of the praise of men, departed Edessa and boarded a boat and traveled to Laodicea. According to God's Providence, the boat was carried away and sailed all the way to Rome. Considering this to be the finger of God, Alexis decided to go to the house of his father and there, as an unknown, continued his life of self-denial. His father did not recognize him but out of charity allowed him to live in his courtyard in a hut. Alexis remained here for seventeen years living only on bread and water. Mistreated by the servants in various ways, he endured all to the end. When his end approached, he wrote a letter, clenched it in his hand, laid down and died on March 17, 411 A.D. At the same time there was a revelation in the Church of the Twelve Apostles, and in the presence of the emperor and the patriarch, a voice was heard which said, "Seek out the Man of God." Shortly after that, it was revealed that this Man of God resided at the house of Euphemian. The emperor along with the pope and an entire retinue arrived at the home of Euphemian and after a lengthy discussion learned that the beggar was that "Man of God." When they entered his hut, they found Alexis dead but his face shown as the sun. From that letter his parents learned that it was their son Alexis. Also, his bride, who for 34 years lived without him, learned that he was her husband. All were overcome with immense grief and pain. Later, they were comforted after seeing how God glorified His chosen one. By touching his body, many of the sick were healed, and from his body flowed a sweet-smelling oil [Chrism]. His body was buried in a sarcophagus of marble and jasper. His head reposes in the Church of St. Laurus in the Peloponnese.
Marinus was a soldier. Not only did he not want to offer sacrifices to the idols, but if others made sacrifices, he scattered and trampled them under his feet. As a result of this, Marinus was tortured and beheaded in the third century. A certain Senator, Astyrius, clothed in a priceless white garment witnessed the suffering of St. Marinus. Astyrius was so overcome with enthusiasm for the Faith of Christ, Who gives to His followers so much courage, that he placed the martyred body on his shoulders, removed it and buried it with honors. Upon seeing this, the pagans murdered him also as a Christian.
SAINT ALEXIS, THE MAN OF GOD
Alexis abandoned all that the world deems glorious,
And to God, he embarked on the narrow, but true path.
First, decided he, to become impoverished for the sake of Christ,
After that, he hurriedly left the opulence of his parents.
And when he departed to a distant land and when he returned
Neither in splendor nor in poverty did he stumble into sin.
The mind raised to God, -- as a lighted candle he held,
With a strong faith and prayer that moves mountains.
Sorrowful mother, inconsolable, mother Algae,
Euphemian, aged father, sorrows and sobs,
And the bride, at one time young, faded because of grief.
One day, the servants at the beggar screamed,
And who this withered beggar is, no one even suspects.
The heir of that household, that is he! But about that, he remains silent.
Inheritance he disowned while in early bloom
In order to be a co-heir in the heavenly world.
But the saint was unable to hide, the Lord makes known the saint,
Who by his life glorifies God, God glorifies him.
Alexis glorifies God, that is why glorious he became,
In truth, he was and remained the Man of God.
Why are we here on earth? To show our love for God. To learn to love God more than sin. That by our inconsequential love, we may respond to the greater love of God. Only God's love is a great love and our love is always inconsequential. God abundantly showed and shows His love for man both in Paradise and on earth. This brief earthly life is given to us as a school and as an examination to question ourselves as to whether we will respond with love to the great love of God. "Every day and every hour, proof of our love for God is required of us," says St. Isaac the Syrian. God shows His love for us every day and every hour. Every day and every moment we stand positioned between God and sin. We have either to give our love to God and elevate ourselves among the angels or to choose sin and fall into the gloom of Hades. Alexis, the Man of God, loved God more than he loved his parents, his wife and riches. He spent seventeen years as a beggar far away from the home of his parents, and another seventeen years Alexis spent as an unknown and scorned in the house of his parents. He did this, all for the sake of the love of God. The merciful God responded love for love for these thirty-four years of suffering. He gave Alexis eternal life and joy among His angels in the heavens and glory on earth.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus on Golgotha:
About the second coming of Christ
"For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man" (St. Matthew 24:27).
The second advent of our Lord Jesus will be a coming in glory. Our Lord repeated this many times. Here He tells us in more detail as to what this, His coming, will resemble. He says it will resemble lightning. Through this He reveals the five characteristics of His glorious advent.
First: His second coming will be unexpected, like lightning. That is why He reminded us, "Therefore, stay awake! For you know neither the day nor the hour" (St. Matthew 25:13).
Second: His second coming will be as bright as lightning. The sun and the stars will be darkened. The entire universe will lose the glow of its face when He shines. He, who sins, will have less light and brightness. How much darker will the sinner be under this heavenly flame. That is why He reminded us to hold the lamps of our souls filled with oil and readiness. O my brethren, let us not find ourselves in the darkness in that terrible hour!
Third: His advent will be as powerful as lightning. For He, alone, spoke to others saying that He will come "with great power and glory" (St. Mark 13:26).
Fourth: His coming will be all encompassing and public to everyone and all, from east to west. That is, He will not appear as the first time to be seen only by His disciples or only one people or one nation or one country or one state but He will appear like lightning which all nations and all peoples on earth will see at once.
Fifth: Just as the lightning precedes rain and hail, so shall His second coming precede the dreadful judgment which will be for the righteous and faithful like the desired rain; and for the unrighteous and unfaithful, like hail.
Let us make preparation, my brethren, for the clouds are gathering and the divine lightning may descend from them at any time.
O Lord, Great and Awesome, give oil to the lamps of our souls so that we will not find ourselves in eternal darkness when Your eternal light appears.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.