From the editor: August 1, 2013

Mother of Maccabees
Mother of Maccabees (detail) by Gustave Doré

Today's War Against the Saints

Today, August 1 in the St. James Calendar of Christian Year we note the commemoration in East and West of the Seven Maccabees: Abimus, Antoninus, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonas, Alimus, and Marcellus, along with their Mother Solomone and their Teacher, the Scribe Eleazar. These martyrs "lived during the time of the Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid dynasty (175-164 B.C.), who, having reduced the Jewish nation to slavery, sought to constrain the Children of Israel to renounce the customs and institutions handed down by their fathers and adopt the ways of the pagans. To this end, he decreed that everyone must eat pork, an unclean animal forbidden by the law (Lev. 11:7-8)"(Orthodox Synaxarion)

The authorities tried to compel Eleazar to eat, forcing the pork into his mouth, which he spat out. They tried to persuade him to feign submission in order to save his life. "At our age, it is not fitting to feign, for fear that many young people, seeing that Eleazar has, at age ninety, adopted foreign ways, might do the same thing because of me and my dissimulation; and that for a brief span of life. I would thus bring on my old age defilement and dishonor; and, were I to escape the temporal punishment of men, I would not, living or dead, escape the hand of the Almighty."

The seven brothers were arrested and shown the instruments of torture, to which the eldest son replied: "We are ready to die, rather than to transgress the laws of our fathers." Solomone bravely exhorted her sons: "I know not how you were formed in my womb: for I neither gave you breath, nor soul, nor life, neither did I frame the limbs of every one of you. But the Creator of the world, that formed the nativity of man, and that found out the origin of all, he will restore to you again in his mercy, both breath and life, as now you despise yourselves for the sake of his laws." (2 Macc. 7:22-23)

Her seven sons were tortured and killed one by one before Solomone was killed. Gregory the Theologian said of them: "In fact, although their witness had been before the coming of Christ, these holy martyrs are in no way less than those who followed the Lord, imitating His life-giving Passion; for it is faith in Christ, who, already living in them through the hope of the resurrection, made them triumph over all that held them to the earth."

We should be careful to note that a divine law is still in effect for Christians, even if Jewish dietary laws are not. And today much of this divine law contradicts the ascendant "new morality." Young boys (and girls) in many schools are being taught that sex is no longer just for marriage. Isn't this an ongoing program to have Christian students "renounce the customs and institutions handed down by their fathers and adopt the ways of the pagans"? Isn't this state-sponsored encouragement of apostasy?

Resistance to this is obedience to God rather than men and will not go unrewarded, even if it ends up being punished by men. While we do not see martyrs in our land, yet, we must all stand as witnesses, martrys, come what may. So, remember the Maccabees!

—James M. Kushiner