Prologue of Ohrid

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January 3

1. THE PROPHET MALACHI

Malachi was the last of the prophets in time. He was born after the return of the Hebrews from the Babylonian Captivity in 538 B.C. He was unusually handsome in countenance. According to legend, the people called him an angel, perhaps because of his external beauty or because of his spiritual purity, or even, perhaps because of his association with an angel of God. On many occasions he spoke face to face with an angel. When this occurred, others heard the voice of an angel; but they were not worthy to see the face of the angel. That which the angel proclaimed, the young Malachi prophesied. He cried out against ungrateful Israel and against the lawless priests. Five hundred years before Christ, Malachi clearly prophesied the coming and the mission of John the Baptist: "Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me" (Malachi 3:7). Mainly, he is the prophet of the day of the Dreadful Judgment. "Before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day" (Malachi 3: 23-24). He presented himself to the Lord while still young. Following him, there were no more prophets in Israel until John the Baptist.

2. THE PRIEST-MARTYR GORDIUS

Gordius was born in Caesarea of Cappadocia. He was an officer in the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Licinius. When a terrible persecution of the Christians broke out, Gordius left the army and his rank and withdrew to the wilderness of Sinai. Alone on Mount Horeb, Gordius spent his time in prayer and contemplation on the mysteries of heaven and earth. He especially contemplated on vanity and the worthlessness of all over which men strive and fight for on earth, and, finally, he wished to die and to be translated into the eternal and incorruptible life. With this desire he descended into the town at the time of certain pagan races and games. Gordius presented himself to the mayor of that town, declaring that he was a Christian. In vain did the mayor of the town try, through flatteries and threats, to dissuade him from the Faith. Gordius remained unwavering and firm as a diamond, saying: "Is it not sheer folly to purchase with this short-lived life, a life of eternal torment and spiritual death." Being condemned to death, he joyfully hurried to the scaffold and along the way spoke to the executioners about the glorious and sweet teachings of Christ. With the name of Christ on his lips Gordius offered his young body to the sword and his righteous soul to God in the year 320 A.D.

3. SAINT GENEVIEVE

Genevieve is the Patroness of the city of Paris. Through fasting, prayer and almsgiving she was made worthy of the Kingdom of God and died on January 3, 512 A.D., in the eighty-ninth year of her life.


HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY PROPHET MALACHI

Malachi proclaims what the angel tells him:

The day, the day, O the day is coming! The day which like an oven is blazing.

Who will endure it? Who will survive it?

Who, with their justice, before the Judge will stand?

All non-believers as a dry stubble will be

Food for the hungry fire. Weeping, sighing and shrieking!

The fire overflows and as a river flows,

Here what can the tongue of a sinner say?

O, my priests, you, who do not render Me praise,

Why do not your tongues the glory of the Lord sing?

Everywhere, among the people, you have become despised,

For My judgment, law and miracles you scorn.

I, the Lord am speaking, the Lord of hosts,

O, of those odious sorcerers, the judgment severe!

The fire when it charges, the smoke and the dreadful rumble it chases

Then, the hand of the Lord does not caress anymore.

Repent, O people, while days you have left,

Return to Me and I will return to you.

I the Lord am speaking, the Lord of hosts,

Return to Me and I will return to you.

Malachi proclaims what the angel tells him:

The day, the day, O the day is coming! The day which like an oven is blazing.


REFLECTION

God permits humiliation and ruin to befall a proud man when he thinks that his strength is secured forever. When the pernicious Roman Eparch [Governor] Tarquinius beheaded Blessed Timothy, he summoned St. Sylvester and threatened him with death if he did not reveal Timothy's inheritance and in addition immediately offer sacrifice to the idols. Without fear and trembling, this discerning saint responded to the eparch with the Evangelical words: "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you" (St. Luke 12:20), "and that with which you boast that you will bring to me (i.e. death) will occur to you." The proud eparch shackled Sylvester in chains and threw him into a dungeon intending to kill him shortly. Having done this, the eparch sat down to eat lunch, but a fish bone caught in his throat. From noon to midnight, the physicians struggled to save his life but all was in vain. At midnight, Tarquinius gave up his proud soul in greatest torments. And so the prophecy of St. Sylvester was fulfilled, as also were the Biblical words: "Pride goes before disaster" (Proverbs 16:18).


CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Guardian Angel:

1. How he stands at my right side upholding me in everything until I depart from the law of God;

2. How I have offended him on numerous occasions and how I drove him away from me transgressing the law of God.


HOMILY

About how the Kingdom of God is gained with the heart and not with the tongue

"Not everyone who says, `Lord, Lord'will enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (St. Matthew 7:21).

Brethren, one does not gain the Kingdom of God with the tongue, but with the heart. The heart is the treasury of those riches by which the kingdom is purchased; the heart and not the tongue! If the treasury is full with the riches of God, i.e., a strong faith, good hope, vivid love and good deeds, then the messenger of those riches, the tongue, is faithful and pleasant. If the treasury is void of all those riches, then its messenger [the tongue] is false and impudent. The kind of heart, the kind of words. The kind of heart, the kind of deeds. All, all depends on the heart.

Hypocrisy is helpless before men, and is even more helpless before God. "If then I am a father," says the Lord through the Prophet Malachi, "If then I am a father where is the honor due to me?" And If I am a master, where is the reverence due to me?" (Malachi 1:6). That is, I hear you call me father, but I do not see you honoring me with your heart. I hear you call me master, but I do not see fear of me in your hearts.

Our prayer: "Lord! Lord!" is beautiful and beneficial only when it emerges from a prayerful heart. The Lord Himself commanded that we pray unceasingly, but not only with the tongue to be heard by men, but rather enclosed in the cell of the heart so that the Lord could hear and see us.

Lord, majestic and wonderful, deliver us from hypocrisy and pour Your fear into our hearts so that our hearts could stand continually upright in prayer before You.

 

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