Prologue of Ohrid

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April 11

1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR ANTIPAS, BISHOP OF PERGAMUM IN ASIA MINOR

Antipas is mentioned in the Book of Revelation as, "Antipas, my faithful witness, who was martyred among you, where Satan lives" (Revelation 2:13), i.e., in the city of Pergamum. The inhabitants of this city lived in the darkness of idolatry and in extreme impurity. They were slaves to passions. They were slanderers, tyrants and they were incestuous. In other words, they were the servants of Satan. Here among them lived Antipas, "As a light in the midst of darkness, as a rose among thorns and as gold in mud." He, who captured and killed a Christian, would be deemed as good and just. The totality of pagan belief consisted of soothsaying, interpretation of dreams, serving demons and extreme perversion. Being frightened of Antipas as from fire, the demons appeared to the soothsayers in a dream and confessed how afraid they were of Antipas and how, because of him, they must depart from this city. The pagan priests summoned a large number of people against Antipas and began to interrogate and to force him to deny Christ and to worship idols. Antipas said to them: "When your so-called gods, lords of the universe are frightened of me, a mortal man, and must flee from this city, do you not recognize that, by this, your faith is an aberration?" The saint also spoke to them further about the Faith of Christ as being the only One, True Saving Faith. They became enraged as wild beats and dragged the aged Antipas to the temple of Artemis before which stood an ox cast in bronze. They heated the bronzed ox and hurled the servant of God into the red-hot molten ox. From within the molten ox, St. Antipas glorified God with thanksgiving, as once did Jonah in the belly of the whale or the Three Youths in the fiery furnace. Antipas prayed for his flock and for the entire world until his soul parted from his weakened body and ascended among the angels into the Kingdom of Christ. He died suffering and was crowned with unfading glory in the year 92 A.D.

2. THE HOLY MARTYRS PROCESSUS AND MARTINIAN

Processus and Martinian were jailers in the Roman prison where the Apostles Peter and Paul were imprisoned. Hearing the words and witnessing the miracles of the apostles, they were baptized and released the apostles from prison. The apostles left Rome but the Lord, on His way to Rome, appeared to Peter who asked Him: "Lord where are you going?" [(Wither goest Thou?--Domine Quo Vadis?)] and the Lord answered: "I go to Rome to be crucified a second time." Ashamed, the apostles returned to Rome where they were apprehended and slain. Also slain with the apostles were these two brave martyrs, Processus and Martinian.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT ANTIPAS
 
In a fiery ox as in a luminous temple

Antipas, the Christian, does not suffer loneliness:

In his pure heart, the Lord abides

Neither the fire burns him neither is he in horror of it

The saint for Christ patiently endures all,

And prayers to Christ from the fire, ascend,

Oh, All-Powerful Christ, King of all ages,

For these sufferings, a hundred-fold thanks be to You!

All in me that is sinful, let burn with fire,

That I be more precious according to heavenly worth.

Oh Savior, I pray to You; my flock protect

In this town, in awful dung!

May my blood strengthen them in the Faith,

And their hearts to You be fixed.

And for the heathen, also, O Blessed One I pray to You

Seize them, once and for all, from demonic lies;

And for all sinners, who ridicule Your law,

Direct them to You, the only One to serve.

Behold, all is within the authority of Your Holy Will,

And finally, to You I pray: may it be better for the Church!

REFLECTION

"There can be no rest for those on earth who desire to be saved," says St. Ephrem the Syrian. The struggle is unceasing be it either external or internal. The adversary acts visibly at times through men and other things and at other times, invisibly through thoughts. At times, the adversary appears openly and behaves brutally and cruelly like an enemy and, at other times, under the guise of a flattering friend, he seduces by shrewdness. That which occurs in battle between two opposing armies also occurs to every man individually in battle with the passions of this world. Truly, "There can be no rest for those on earth who desire to be saved." When salvation comes, rest also comes.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How Simon Peter and the other disciple ran quickly to the tomb to confirm the news of the Resurrection;

2. How one after the other entered the tomb and saw the cloths and napkin;

3. How they both saw and believed and, after that, they witnessed and for their witness they died.

HOMILY

About the two Adams; the Death-creating and the Life-giving

"For just as in Adam all die, so too, in Christ, shall all be brought to life" (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Following Adam's example, life is sown in shame, and following Christ's example, life is raised in glory. Sin is from Adam and justice is from Christ. Weakness and death come from Adam and strength and life come from Christ. Accordingly, in Adam we all die. Accordingly, in Christ, we shall all be brought to life.

That one is the earthly man [Adam], this one is the heavenly man [Christ]. That is the bodily man [Adam] and this is the spiritual man [Christ].

Christ did not resurrect for His sake but for our sake just as He did not die for His sake but for our sake. If His resurrection does not signify our resurrection, then His resurrection is bitterness and not sweetness. Where, then, would the love of God be? Where, then, would the meaning of our miserable earthy experience be? What, then, would be the purpose of Christ's coming to earth?

There, where Adam ends, Christ begins. Adam ends up in the grave and Christ begins with the resurrection from the grave. Adam's generation, i.e., the seed underground that rots and decays, does not see the sun, does not believe that it can emerge from beneath the earth to blossom into a green plant with leaves, flowers and fruit. Christ's generation is a green field upon which wheat grows, turns green, becomes covered with leaves, blossoms and bears much fruit.

"In Adam" does not only mean that we will die one day, rather it means that we are already dead; dead to the last one. "In Christ" does not only mean that we will revive one day, but rather that we are already alive, i.e., that the seed in the ground has already begun to germinate and to break through to the light of the sun. The complete expression of death is in the grave, but the complete expression of eternal life is in the kingdom of God.

The mind of the sons of Adam are in accordance with death, reconciled with being decayed and sink even deeper into the ground. The mind of the sons of Christ rebel against death and decay and exert all the more, to burgeon a man toward the light, which the Grace of God helps. O resurrected Lord sober the minds of all the sons of man that they would flee from darkness and destruction and reach out toward the light and life eternal which is in You.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen..
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