Prologue of Ohrid


April 17


During the reign of the wicked Emperor Sapor [Savori], Simeon was tortured for Christ along with his two presbyters, Audel and Ananias. The emperor's eunuch, Ustazan--who had earlier denied Christ and afterward, touched by the rebuke of St. Simeon, had again confessed the true Faith before the emperor--was executed before them. A thousand other Christians were also led to the place of execution with Simeon. Simeon intentionally moved out of the way in order to be the last one to be beheaded.  He did this to encourage the other Christians to the end, so that not one of them would waver because of their fear of death. When the presbyter Ananias placed his head on the chopping block, his entire body quivered. The emperor's court clerk, Fusik, who secretly was a Christian, began to encourage Ananias saying: "Do not be afraid, old man, close your eyes and be brave, so that you may see the Divine Light." As soon as Fusik said this, he was recognized as a Christian and was accused before the emperor. The emperor exhausted him through great torture, as well as his daughter, the maiden Askitria. After St. Simeon saw his flock depart to the other world, he was finally beheaded. The following year on Great Friday (Good Friday), Azat [Ustazan], the beloved eunuch of the emperor, was also slain for Christ and with him a thousand other faithful. Then the emperor mourned for his eunuch and suspended the further killing of Christians. They all suffered honorably for Christ the King and Lord in the year 341 or 344 A.D.


Acacius lived the ascetical life in the place where he was born, i.e., in Melitene, Armenia. Blessed Otreius, the bishop of that city, who participated at the Second Ecumenical Council [Constantinople 381 A.D.], ordained him a presbyter. Following the death of Otreius, Acacius became a bishop. He participated in the Third Ecumenical Council [Ephesus 431 A.D.], which condemned the evil blasphemy of Nestorius against the Mother of God. Here, together with St. Cyril of Alexandria, Acacius zealously fought for the purity of the Orthodox Faith. St. Acacius possessed much grace from God and worked many miracles. After long and zealous service to God, Acacius died peacefully in the year 435 A.D.


Agapitus was sent to the Emperor Justinian in Constantinople by Theodotus, King of the Goths, to dissuade him from his campaign against the Goths. En route, he healed a mute and blind person. In Constantinople, Agapitus assisted in confirming Orthodoxy, and died in the year 536 A.D.


Sabatius and Zosimus were the co-founders of the ascetic [monastic] community on the Solovetz (Solovki) Island in the White Sea. Many great saints were glorified in the Solovetz Monastery. St. Sabatius died in 1435 A.D., and Zosimus died in 1478 A.D.



On an desert isle amidst the stormy sea,

Beyond the vanity of the world and beyond conversation,

Zosimus, his soul nourishes with prayers

And defends it from demons with the Name of God.

Vicious demons become embittered against him,

And all of their power, against him, direct.

To them, Zosimus speaks: "In vain is your effort

As long as the mighty hand of God protects me.

To slay me, is it the will of God?

Then strike quickly, and time do not waste!

Why do you change yourselves into beasts and serpents,

Into angry wolves, tigers and scorpions,

When you do not have the strength of shadows

In order to do me any harm?

You are dreadful only to the sons of sin

And to the lovers of pleasure and laughter.

But to the lovers of Christ's yoke,

The Mother of God, and pure asceticism,

You are like the fog, which the wind carries,

Which one moment is blown in and the next moment blown away.

If the fog, a rock, is able to uproot,

Then me, a sinner, you are able to sway!

Leave me alone; I give not myself over to you.

I am the servant of Christ; I look to Christ."


After the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] the heretical Emperor Anastasius banished the Orthodox Patriarchs Elias of Jerusalem and Flavian of Antioch into exile. One day, simultaneously, both saints discerned the death of the heretical emperor and sent each other the news of this, saying: "Anastasius is dead! Let us also go to stand judgment with him before God." The emperor died, and two days later both patriarchs died. What zeal for the True Faith! What a humble hope before God's judgment! For these saints, it was not a matter of living longer on earth but the matter of God's truth. Neither did they say: "We judged him," but, "May God judge him!" Our stay on earth is not for the sake of sojourning, but for a personal choice for good or for evil, for truth or for falsehood. Blessed are we if, in everything, we trust God's will and hope in God's judgment. For in all things, one must have a strong faith. These Orthodox archpastors had strong faith. St. Acacius also had strong faith. Once, during a great drought, when the people were despairing, this wonderful Acacius led a procession of the people through the town and to its outskirts. He ordered that the Divine Liturgy be celebrated outside the town before the Church of St. Eustace. After consecrating the Holy Gifts, Acacius did not want to pour water into the wine, but prayed to God that He, the Most-High, would send down water into the chalice from the clouds. God heard the prayer of His faithful servant and sent abundant rain onto the dry fields as well as into the honorable chalice.


To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How for forty days after the Resurrection He remained on earth, showing Himself to the faithful and strengthening them in the Faith;

2. How by His forty-day manifestation, He demonstrated that He did not resurrect for His sake, but for the sake of mankind.


About the wonderful promise of Christ

"I will give the victor the right to sit with Me on My throne" (Revelation 3:21).

This, brethren, is the promise of Christ, the Victor over the devil, sin and death.

But the devil, sin and death are stronger than man. Who can overcome them? No one, except Christ and those who stand firm with Christ and with His weapons enter into battle.

The devil is as old as the world, and even older than the world. How can a man, whose life-span is measured by a pendulum, defeat him who, for many thousands of years, has learned to wage battle against man? How can a mortal overpower all the temptation of the devil, whose number equals the number of sins on earth? By no means, if he does not know that the Lord Jesus conquered the three main types of diabolical temptations on the high mountain. By no means, if a man does not remain firm and steadfast alongside Christ, Who is older than time and mightier than all the angels, both evil and good.

Sin is as old as the devil. How can man, whose life-span is measured by a pendulum, avoid sin, which, as a contagious disease and evil odor, has been passed from generation to generation, from man to man, since man has existed on this earth? By no means, if he does not know that there exists one Man, the One and Only, Who did not commit sin, either in birth or after birth; the God-Man Jesus Christ, Who, through the humbleness of His humanity and the fire of His Divinity, crushed sin on the Cross. By no means, if a man does not stand firm with Christ, Who is older than sin and Who is mightier than all of the sowers and carriers of sin.

Death is as old as man expelled from Paradise. How can a man, whose life span is measured by a pendulum, conquer death in this worldly grave? By no means, if he does not acknowledge the power of the Cross, the suffering of Christ, and the truth of His Resurrection from the grave. By no means, if he does not stand firm with Christ, the Almighty Victor over death.

Oh, what a glorious reward for those who achieve victory! They will be seated and crowned with wreaths of glory on the throne of the greatest Victor on earth and in heaven!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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