Prologue of Ohrid

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April 7

1. SAINT GEORGE THE CONFESSOR

Because of his great virtues, which he attained through a long and difficult ortification, George was chosen and invested as Metropolitan of Mitylene. This saint governed his spiritual flock prudently and zealously to a ripe old age. When a persecution began under Leo V, the Armenian, who, in destroying holy icons, summoned this saintly elder to Constantinople to an assembly of bishops convened by him and, whose intention it was to discontinue the veneration of icons, George not only refused to carry out the wish of the wicked emperor but with other courageous bishops stood up in defense of holy icons. Not only was he ridiculed for that but he was also banished into exile by the emperor to the region of Cherson. Here he endured all sorts of physical afflictions and deprivations for the remaining years of his life. He died and was translated to eternal life about the year 816 A.D. Because of his great sanctity and love for the Lord Jesus, George was a great miracle-worker, both during his life and after his death.

2. THE VENERABLE NIL SORSKY

Nil is one of the great Fathers of the Russian Church. He was the founder of the Scete way of monastic life in Russia. He died peacefully in the year 1508 A.D. His relics repose in the Sorsky Monastery. His "Rule of Life" for the "Scete" way of monastic living represents a first-class work on the spiritual and practical life of a monk.

3. THE HOLY MARTYR CALLIOPIUS

Calliopius was an only son granted by God to a senator from Perga in Pamphylia after the senator had shed many tears in prayer. From his early youth his devout mother, Theoclea, taught him to respect God and to live a chaste life. Calliopius was still a youngster when a terrible persecution began during the reign of Emperor Maximian. To spare him from death, his mother placed him in a boat, gave him an ample amount of money and saw him off to the city of Pompeiopolis. However, God in His Divine Providence, planned it otherwise. Landing in Pompeiopolis he fell into the midst of a tumultuous polytheistic celebration. When Calliopius refused to participate in this ridiculous feast, at the insistence of the crazed mob, he was pushed toward Maximus the commander, before whom Calliopius confessed that he was a Christian. The commander ordered that Calliopius be beaten with lead canes and burned by fire. Wounded throughout, they cast him into prison. Learning about the tortures of her son, Theoclea distributed her entire estate to the poor and needy and with a paltry sum of money hurried to her son in prison. Upon entering the prison, Theoclea bowed down before her son and dressed his wounds. Finally, the commander pronounced the ultimate sentence. Calliopius was to be crucified on a cross. Joy and pain intermingled in the heart of his mother. When they brought her son to the place of execution, she slipped five pieces of gold to the executioners to have her son crucified, not as the Lord was, but rather upside down. Theoclea did this out of humility before the Lord. Calliopius was crucified upside down on Holy Thursday. His mother stood beneath the cross-giving praise to God. On the second day when they removed his lifeless body from the cross, she fell upon her son and she, herself, died. Thus, these two went before the Throne of the King of Glory together. They honorably suffered in the year 304 A.D.

4. THE VENERABLE DANIEL OF PEREYASLAVL

Daniel had, as a unique form of mortification, that of caring for the dead. Whenever he heard that someone was found frozen to death or that had died in some other manner, Daniel would hasten to bury him decently and to offer prayers to God for him. He died peacefully in the year 1540 A.D. His relics remain intact.

5. THE VENERABLE GREGORY SINAITES

A great saint and ascetic of Mt. Sinai and Mt. Athos [August 8].

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
THE HOLY MARTYR CALLIOPIUS

Calliopius, Calliopius,

Depart there! Where there is no death!

His mother speaks to him and bids him her last farewell,

About the fate of her only son, she dreams.

Calliopius, the youth most handsome

To the commander, his faith he explained:

Christ is my life, the way, the truth,

Christ is my desire: my only desire!

To crucifixion, Calliopius, they lead,

Behind him, throngs of people walk.

He, pale and peaceful, rigidly bound,

Walking quietly, bitterly tortured,

His mother to him whispers: Calliopius!

I am traveling O mother where there is no death!

Martyr of Christ, martyr glorious,

The Cross received, heavy and head first.

Over the dead body, the mother is bending:

With tears, Calliopius she bathes

And whispering quietly: Calliopius!

Here I am mother, where there is no death!

RELFECTION

"Spiritual directors should distinguish themselves from their subordinates as much as a shepherd distinguishes himself from his sheep." Thus speaks St. Isidorus of Pelusium in interpreting the First Epistle of St. Timothy. The life of a priest always serves as an example, be it good or be it bad. By an exemplary life, a priest confirms the Gospel and, by a wicked life, he denies the Gospel. No one in this world is in such a position to confirm the truth of the Gospel or to deny it in such a manner by his life, as is a priest. A good priest is distinguished from a wicked priest by his works no less than a shepherd is distinguished from a wolf. That is why a goodly portion of good priests will be with the sons of God and a goodly portion of wicked priests will be with the wild beasts of darkness. The good shepherds of the Church, even in the last moments of their lives, were concerned about their flocks which they were leaving behind. Upon his death bed, St. Joseph the Hymnographer prayed to God: "Preserve your flock, O Son of God, created by Your right hand and protect them to the end of time. Be of assistance to the beloved sons of Your Church. Grant to Your Bride [Holy Church] eternal peace and a stormless calm." St. Antipas, burning in a blazing ox, cast out of copper, prayed to God in this manner: "Not only me, but those also who would come after me, make them partakers of Your mercy."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus:

1. How the myrrh-bearing women approached the tomb to anoint Him with myrrh and aloes. To anoint the One Who is the sweet-smelling savor of heaven and earth;

2. How the angel announces the resurrection of our Lord to them with the words: "Why do you seek the living One among the dead?" (St. Luke 24:5).

HOMILY

About seeking the living among the dead

"Why do you seek the living One among the dead?" (St. Luke 24:5).

The angel of God asks the Myrrh-bearing women as though in astonishment: "Why do you seek the living One among the dead?" As though the perceiver of the mystery of God and God's power wanted to say: "How could you have thought for a moment that He is the hostage of death? Do you not know that He is the principal source of life? Do you not know that all life is through Him and that not one living thing can borrow not even a drop of life from any other source? Did He not fully reveal to you His authority over life and death on earth? Who gave life to the lifeless Lazarus? Who took away the life of the barren fig tree?"

O my brethren, let us also cease to look for the living among the dead. If there are some of us who are still seeking Christ among the dead, let them desist from this soul-destroying effort. This is the vain effort of the Jews, pagans and non-Christians. We know that the Lord and Giver of life is not in the tomb but on the Throne of Glory in the heavens. The spirit, not darkened by sin, looks up into heaven and does not see the tomb; and the spirit, darkened by sin, looks into the tomb and does not see heaven. Sin and virtue govern the spiritual vision of man and reveals to each man its own world at cross purposes with one another. Sin overthrows the vision of the spirit to the earth and reveals to it the corruption of the world. Virtue uplifts the spirit to heaven and reveals to it the eternal world and the resurrected Christ as the King in that world.

O my brethren, let us not seek life among creation, but from the Creator. Let us not commit an even graver sin, i.e., let us not seek the Creator in the tomb of creation nor the Illuminating, Immortal One in the darkness of death.

O Lord Jesus, Victor over death, we cry out to You: resurrect us also into life eternal from the corruption and darkness of death.
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