Prologue of Ohrid


April 9


Eupsychius was of noble birth and was well instructed in pious beliefs. During the reign of Julian the Apostate, and when St. Basil the Great governed the Church of God in Caesarea, Eupsychius entered into marriage with a prominent maiden. However, it was not given to him to live even one day in marriage. At the time of his wedding, it so happened that there was a pagan feast with sacrificial offerings to the idol Fortune. Eupsychius, with his companions, entered the temple, smashed all the idols and even demolished the temple itself. Hearing of this, Julian became greatly enraged and ordered that the culprits be beheaded, that many Christians be inducted into the army, that an enormous tribute be imposed upon all Christians, that the temple of Fortune be rebuilt at the expense of the Christians, and that the city be deprived of its honorary name "Caesarea," given it by Caesar Claudius, and be called by its former name, Maza.  Eupsychius was first tied to a tree and brutally tortured, and was later beheaded, in the year 362 A.D. Shortly after this, the wicked Emperor Julian visited this city on his way to Persia, against which he was waging war. St. Basil the Great went out to meet him, carrying three loaves of barley bread as a sign of respect and hospitality. The emperor ordered that a handful of hay be given to the saint as a reciprocal gift. St. Basil said to the emperor: "You make jest of us, O Emperor. We offer you bread by which we feed ourselves, and you, in turn, give us food for livestock, which you, by your authority, cannot change into food for men." To this the emperor replied: "Know that I will feed you this hay when I return from Persia." However, the wicked apostate did not return from Persia, for he died a deserved and unnatural death.


During the reign of the Persian King Sapor, Vadim, the abbot of a certain monastery and a man famous for his generosity, was cast into prison with seven of his disciples. With them in prison was a certain Prince Nirsan, who was also a Christian. They were taken out daily and beaten. Prince Nirsan became terrified; he promised to deny the Faith and worship the sun. This pleased Sapor, who promised to give Nirsan, among other things, the entire estate of Vadim's monastery if he would behead Vadim by his own hand. Nirsan agreed to this. With a quivering hand, and cowed [frightened] by the majestic countenance of St. Vadim, he struck this holy man with the sword many times on the neck until he finally beheaded him. Shortly after that, Nirsan succumbed to despair, stabbed himself with the sword and received, at his own hand, the due punishment for the murder of the righteous one. St. Vadim suffered in the year 376 A.D.



The courageous Vadim looks death in the eyes

And pities Nirsan, since misery has befallen him.

With a bare sword Nisan stands before Vadim;

He is not afraid of God, but of the saint.

He brandishes the sword, brandishes it and lowers it!

Before the knight of God--in truth, a sheer coward!

"Nirsan, Nirsan!" Vadim says to him.

"On the road to eternity, Vadim speaks to you:

Christ you denied; falsehood you embraced.

By yourself alone, you destroyed your soul.

I eagerly await death at each of God's hours,

That He may open unto me the gate of the Eternal Kingdom.

But I am sorry to die by your hand,

And never more to see you, O Prince.

Eternal darkness will cover a traitor of Christ

And, twice as black, one who slays Christians."

This the saint uttered and became silent,

And Nirsan slew him with a quivering hand.

Thus a lion died from a frightened rabbit!

But who did Nirsan slay--himself or the saint?

Eternal justice speaks: the thief judged himself,

And to the saint of God there came no harm.


It is said about Pericles that he was a man of almost perfect human beauty except that his head was oblong and resembled a gourd [squash], so that he was subject to ridicule when he appeared bareheaded in public. In order to conceal the defect of this great man of his people, Greek sculptors always portrayed him with a helmet on his head. When some of the pagans knew how to conceal the defects of their friends, how much more, therefore, are we Christians obligated to do the same? Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10), commands the Apostle to those who cling to Christ. How can we say that we adhere to the meek and All-pure Christ, if we daily poison the air with tales about the sins and shortcomings of others? To conceal your own virtue and the shortcomings of others--in this is preeminent spiritual wisdom.


Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the Garden and, at first glance, Mary did not recognize Him;

2. How He tenderheartedly addressed Mary, and how Mary then recognized Him and rejoiced in Him, and imparted her joy to the disciples.


on the need to die in order to bring forth much fruit

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).

Why does the sower cast wheat upon the ground? Does he do this so that the wheat will die and rot? No, he does this so that it will live and bear fruit. In sowing the seed, the sower does not think about the death and decay of the seed, but rather about its life and yield. Indeed, with joy does the sower sow his seed, not thinking about the death of the seed, but rather about life and fruitfulness.

The Sower is Christ the Lord and men are His wheat. He was pleased to call us wheat. There are many other types of seed on earth, but nothing is more precious than wheat. Why did the Lord sow us throughout the world? So that we should die and decay? No, rather that we should live and bring forth fruit. He alludes to our death incidently. He alludes to death only as a condition for life and multiple yield. The goal of sowing is not death but life. The seed must first die and decay, and He mentions this only in passing because He knows we are fully aware of it. He only reminds us incidently of this, as His Gospel is primarily a narrative of life--about life and about bringing forth good fruit. He speaks to us a great deal about the latter because He knows we are not aware of it and that we are suffocating from ignorance and doubt. Not only does He speak to us abundantly about life, but He also shows us life. By His Resurrection, He demonstrates to us, more clearly than the sun, life and the multitude of fruit. The entire history of His Church is a clear map of life.

O invincible Lord of Life, save us from a sinful death. Deliver us from spiritual death.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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