Martyrdom of St Peter & St Paul the Apostles
The Apostles Fast is a beautiful tradition in the church and one that has a joyful touch. Without a doubt our hearts are all attuned to the hymn of Asomen, as we joyfully recall in this time of fasting our Lord's glorious Ascension and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit upon the holy Apostles.
Lord, we thank You for You have taught us not to fear the enemy but have bestowed upon us a greater gift and grace - the power of Your Holy Spirit. The same Spirit which descended upon the Apostles now works within each one of us. What is the greatness of this gift and how can it be so, Lord? For those blessed men preached the Word to all nations even unto death, the death of martyrdom. Let our souls now be kindled by the fire of the Holy Spirit, and let our lives be guided by Him who is called 'the Treasure of Goodness and Giver of Life.'
The disciples did not fear death because as St Anthony the Great said, 'Let Christ be your life's breath, and place your confidence in Him.' Our fathers the apostles truly were 'breathing Christ', the words which they uttered were guided by the Holy Spirit, and by grace they were able to save the souls of many.
'And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.' - Acts 2:47
Lord, look down from heaven and visit this vine, that is Your church, which Your right hand has planted. Send us the Spirit of Comfort and Salvation so that the struggling church here on earth may be exalted with the saints of the Triumphant Church in heaven.
As we conclude this fast, let us contemplate the unity of the Apostles who were filled with 'true evangelic love.' As St James warns us in his epistle, ‘Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!’ (James 5:9) Who can hear these words and not tremble? Now O my soul, upon hearing these fearful words, offer repentance to your Saviour who has washed your feet in the Upper Room and poured His Spirit upon you. For God is truly merciful and compassionate and those who desire to follow Him must also be forgiving, in the likeness of their Redeemer.
‘Come listen to the precious and expensive pearl, the caller of righteousness, Luke the Evangelist. He speaks with the glory and the honour, of my masters the fathers the Apostles, and their exalted manner, and rank that was granted to them.’ - Hymn of the Apostles
Lord, make me as the least of one of Your disciples. For I am not worthy to serve You, yet through Your tender mercies You have granted me the gift of service.