Prologue of Ohrid


April 19


John lived a life of asceticism in the so-called Ancient Caves or Lavra of Chariton the Great, in Palestine. Having loved Christ the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind, John, at an early age, began to travel to the holy places, listening to the instructions and counsels of the holy men. Finally, he settled in the Caves of Chariton. There he gave himself to rigorous asceticism, spending days and years in fasting, prayer and vigils, continuously meditating on death, and teaching himself humility. As a well-ripened fruit, he was plucked by death and took up his habitation in Paradise. He lived and died in the eighth century.


Christopher, Theonas and Antonius were young officers serving under Emperor Diocletian. When St. George the Great Martyr was being tortured, they witnessed his sufferings as well as the miracles that occurred at that time. Seeing all of this, they came before the emperor, laid down their arms, removed their military belts and bravely confessed the name of the Lord Jesus. For that, they were subjected to great torture and were finally thrown into the fire. Their bodies were consumed, while their souls went to God and entered into eternal joy. They honorably suffered in Nicomedia in the year 303 A.D.


The Emperor Romanus, who reigned over Byzantium at the beginning of the tenth century, had a son, Theophylactus, who was sixteen years old when Patriarch Stephen died. The emperor wanted his son to be elevated to the patriarchal throne, for he had promised him this spiritual calling from his youth. Yet, because his son was a minor, the emperor was ashamed to do this. The patriarchal throne was assumed by Tryphon, a simple but chaste and pious old man. Tryphon remained on the throne for three years. When the son of the emperor reached his twentieth year, the emperor thought to remove Tryphon at any cost and install his son as patriarch. The saint of God, Tryphon, did not want to relinquish his throne voluntarily, for no other reason than because he considered it to be a great scandal for such a young man be elevated to such a responsible and burdensome position as that of patriarch. Through the intrigue of a iniquitous bishop, the signature of the innocent Tryphon was obtained by guile on a blank sheet of paper. Later on, in the imperial court, the alleged resignation of the patriarch was written above that signature, and was announced by the emperor. As a result of this, there arose a great confusion in the Church, for the laity and the clergy stood by Tryphon, the godly man. The emperor then forcibly removed the aged patriarch, sending him to a monastery, while his son Theophylactus was consecrated as patriarch. St. Tryphon lived as an ascetic in this monastery for two years and five months, and went to the Lord in the year 933 A.D.


Agathangelus was from Thrace. His secular name was Athanasius. Serving the Turks, he was forcibly converted to Islam in Smyrna. As a penitent, he was tonsured a monk on the Holy Mountain [Athos] in the Monastery of Esphigmenou. Still tormented by his conscience, he desired to wash away his sin with his own blood. He departed for Smyrna, where he showed the Turks a cross and an icon of the Resurrection of Christ. He was beheaded on April 19, 1819, in his nineteenth year. Following his death, he appeared alive to Germanus, his spiritual father.


Simeon lived a life of asceticism on the Holy Mountain, and for a short while he was the abbot of the Monastery of Philotheou. He strengthened Christians in the Faith in many areas of the Balkans and was famous for his miracle-working. He walked barefoot, for which he is called "the Barefoot" (the Discalced). He reposed in Constantinople.



Innocent Tryphon, gray-haired shepherd,

Through innocence obtained an unfading wreath.

The emperor, out of empty vanity, desired wrongly,

Not fearing God or God's punishment.

To be patriarch is an honor before men

But a burden before God and before angels.

A lad can tend an irrational flock,

But where is his wisdom for a rational one?

Kindhearted Tryphon guarded the righteousness of God;

"That can never be, O Emperor," said he.

"Give the patriarchal throne to a mature man, one wiser than me,

Who will steer the Ship of God through the rocks,

And not to a child, even though he b e your son,

Who would smash the Ship of God against the rocks!"

Emperor Romanus did as he himself wished,

And saddened St. Tryphon and the people.

But the eye of God roams throughout the world,

Seeking where to bestow a wreath and where vengeance.


An elder and spiritual father said: "Arising in the morning, say to yourself: Body, work in order to feed yourself; soul, be vigilant in order to save yourself and inherit the Kingdom!" These are not empty words, but this has been the rule of many thousands of monks throughout the centuries--their daily rule of life. By labors they fed themselves; through prayer they remained vigilant. Why only for monks? Cannot this be the rule of every follower of Christ? Did not Christ Himself give us a clear example of this--an example of physical effort and constant vigilance in prayer?


Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How He, in His glorified body, is close to His disciples; close to them who are seeking Him (Mary Magdalene in the Garden); close to those who are in fear (the disciples in a closed room); close to those who are hungry (those on the shore of the lake);

2. How He is close, even now, to every one of us who seek Him, who is in fear, and who is hungry.


on being cautious toward all that is not according to Christ

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

Brethren, let us not be enslaved by philosophy, which by conjecture says that there is no eternal life or resurrection from the dead. For we do not arrive at the truth through man's conjecture, but by God's revelation. That which we know about the truth we know from Truth Itself, which was revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ and which was communicated to us through the faithful and wise witnesses of this Truth: the apostles and the saints. If we, because of our sins, reject these witnesses and accept the conjecture of humans, we will fall into dark and bitter slavery to nature, to the body, to sin and to death.

Brethren, let us not be deceived by the empty myths of men, created by men and according to men, that say that another world does not exist, or, if another world does exist, that we do not know anything about it. Behold, we know with confidence that another world does exist. We know this not from conjecturers or deceivers but from the Lord Jesus Himself Who appeared to His disciples on Mount Tabor with Moses and Elias (who had long before departed this world), and Who Himself appeared to many of His followers after His death. We also know this from the apostles, saints and numerous seers to whom, because of their chastity and sanctity, God revealed the ultimate truth about the other world. If, because of our sins, we do not believe these holy and truthful witnesses, we will then have to believe those unholy and false men, and we will be slaves to darkness, sin and death.

Brethren, let us not be led astray by worldly teaching, which examines animals, plants and stones and says that it has not found God among these things, and thus arrogantly asserts that there is no God. Behold, we know that the Creator cannot be as a thing among things; rather He is above all things and different from all things. We know this as much by spiritual understanding and conscience as by the clear revelation of the Lord Jesus Himself, Who appeared in the body of a man as the Lord of all created things--as well as by the testimony of the apostles and many other holy and discerning men. Rather, let us glorify the Lord Jesus resurrected from the dead.

O resurrected Lord, to Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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