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[orthodox-synod] Saint Asterios comm. 30 October

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  • emrys
    Somebody was asking for information on Saint Asterios? Saint Asterius, Bishop of Amasea ... Died c. 400-410. Bishop Asterius of Amasea in Pontus, Asia Minor,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 1999
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      Somebody was asking for information on Saint Asterios?

      Saint Asterius, Bishop of Amasea
      Died c. 400-410. Bishop Asterius of Amasea in Pontus, Asia Minor,
      was renowned as a preacher: 21 of his sermons are still extant.
      From his writings we know that he studied rhetoric and law in his
      youth. Although he practised as a barrister for a time, he could
      not long ignore his calling to the priesthood, which eventually led
      to his elevation to the see of Amasea. Saint Gregory the Great
      (f.d. September 3) describes this good pastor as overflowing with
      the Holy Spirit.

      His sermons highly recommend charity to the poor, revealing his own
      favourite virtue. His place in time is known because of the
      references he makes in his sermons to Julian the Apostate and the
      Consul Eutropius. They also show that the Church already kept the
      feasts of Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, and martyrs. His
      reflections are just and solid; the expression natural, elegant,
      and animated. They abound with lively images and descriptions both
      of persons and things.

      In his homily on Saints Peter and Paul (f.d. June 29), Saint
      Asterius repeatedly teaches the pre-eminent jurisdiction Saint
      Peter received over all Christians. His panegyric to Saint Phocas
      (f.d. September 22) encourages the invocation of saints, the
      veneration of their relics, and pilgrimages to pray before them.

      The following passage is from his sermon, "On the Holy Martyrs":

      "We keep through every age their bodies decently
      enshrined, as most precious pledges; vessels of
      benediction, the organs of their blessed souls, the
      tabernacles of their holy minds. We put ourselves under
      their protection. The martyrs defend the church, as
      soldiers guard a citadel. The people flock in crowds from
      all quarters, and keep great festivals to honour their

      "All who labour under the heavy load of afflictions fly to
      them for refuge. We employ them as intercessors in our
      prayers and suffrages. In these refuges the hardships of
      poverty are eased, diseases cured, the threats of princes
      appeased. A parent, taking a sick child in his arms,
      postpones physicians, and runs to one of the martyrs,
      offering by him his prayer to the Lord, and addressing
      him whom he employs for his mediator in such word as

      "'You who have suffered for Christ, intercede
      for one who suffers by sickness. By that great
      power and confidence you have, offer a prayer
      on behalf of fellow-servants. Though you are
      now removed from us, you know what men on
      earth feel in their sufferings and diseases.
      You formerly prayed to martyrs, before you
      were yourself a martyr. You then obtained your
      request by asking; now you are possessed of
      what you asked, in your turn assist me. By
      your crown ask what may be our advancement.
      If another is going to be married, he begins
      his undertaking by soliciting the prayers of
      the martyrs. Who, putting to sea, weighs
      anchor before he has invoked the Lord of the
      sea by the martyrs?'"

      The saint describes with what magnificence and concourse of people
      the feasts of martyrs were celebrated over the whole world. He
      says, the Gentiles and the Eunomian heretics, whom he calls New
      Jews, condemned the honours paid to martyrs, and their relics; to
      whom he answers:

      "We by no means adore the martyrs, but we honour them as
      the true adorers of God. We lay their bodies in rich
      shrines and sepulchres, and erect stately tabernacles of
      their repose, that we may be stirred up to an emulation
      of their honours. Nor is our devotion to them without its
      recompense; for we enjoy their patronage with God."

      He says the New Jews, or Eunomians, do not honour the martyrs,
      because they blaspheme the King of martyrs, making Christ unequal
      to his Father. He tells them that they ought at least to respect
      the voice of the devils, who are forced to confess the power of the

      "Those whom we have seen bark like dogs, and who were
      seized with frenzy, and are now come to their senses,
      prove by their cure how effectual the intercession of
      martyrs is."

      He closes this sermon with a devout and confident address to the

      Attwater, D. (1983). The penguin dictionary of saints, NY:
      Penguin Books.

      Benedictine Monks of Saint Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The
      book of saints: A dictionary of servants of God canonized by
      the Catholic Church extracted from the Roman and other
      martyrologies. NY: Macmillan.

      Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
      lives of the fathers, martyrs, and other principal saints.
      London: Virtue & Co.
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