Prologue of Ohrid


April 20


Theodore was a citizen of Constantinople and the son of wealthy parents. As a young man he left his parents' home and riches and entered a hermetical monastery in Thrace. Here he imposed upon himself a most rigorous life of asceticism. He slept on stones in order to sleep less. He traveled everywhere bareheaded and clothed himself in one garment made of "goat's hair," for which he was called Trichinas [Greek] Kostret [Serbian] for goat's hair. Because of his great ascetical labors for the sake of the salvation of his soul, God bestowed upon him the great gift of miracle-working, both during his lifetime and after death. He died peacefully about the year 400 A.D. His body was seen to be flowing with myrrh [Chrism].


Anastasius was the abbot of Mt. Sinai. In the beginning he was a monk for an extended period of time under the glorious Abbot John of the Ladder (Climacus). After John's death, he then became abbot. Besides being a great ascetic, Anastasius was an eloquent author of the lives of the saints as well as instructional writings. He led a bitter struggle against the heretics, the so-called Acephalites [Akefalita - Headless Ones], who denied the decisions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.]. He died in old age in the year 685 A.D. and took up habitation with the Lord Whom he had faithfully served.


While a monk on Mt. Sinai, Anastasius was elected Patriarch of Antioch, during the reign of Emperor Justinian. He was elevated to this rank by virtue of his charity, chaste life, great spiritual learning and staunch faith. Then, Emperor Justinian fell into the heresy of Docetism [this heresy taught that Christ's sufferings were only apparent and not physically real], which Eutychius the Patriarch of Constantinople, and this Blessed Anastasius sharply rebelled against. The emperor banished Eutychius and also wanted to banish Anastasius, but he was unable to find anything to reproach in his life. However, when Justinian died, having repented beforehand and having reinstated Eutychius to the throne, his successor Justin, succeeded in banishing Anastasius on the basis of some spurious calumnies. Anastasius remained in exile for twenty-three years but was reinstated to the throne of Antioch during the reign of Emperor Maurice. He governed the Church of God for six more years and ended his earthly sojourn in the year 599 A.D.


Gregory was an Armenian by birth. He was abbot of the Pharanite Monastery, below Mt. Sinai. When Blessed Anastasius was banished from his throne, Gregory, against his will, was installed as Patriarch of Antioch. Blessed Patriarch Sophronius [and St. John Moschus] also write very favorably about him in his Spiritual Meadow. Gregory was especially distinguished by his very great compassion, especially toward sinners. He died in the Lord in the year 593 A.D.


At first, Zacchaeus was a tax collector and a sinner. When our Lord saw him in Jericho in a tree and entered his home, Zacchaeus was brought to repentance: He (Jesus) came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed the sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, Who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him: "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house." And he came down quickly and received Him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost" (St. Luke 19: 1-10). Later on, Zacchaeus followed the Apostle Peter, who appointed him Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, where he faithfully served the Gospel and died peacefully.


Athanasius was born in 1310 A.D. He lived the ascetical life on Athos, the Holy Mountain. He founded the famous Meteora Monastery in Thessaly. He possessed the great "gift of discernment" and miracle-working.(*)

(*) Archbishop Philaret of Chernigov mentions Gabriel the Child in his Lives of the Saints, whom a certain Jew, Schutko, lured to an isolated place and there crucified him. Gabriel was born in the village Zvjerka near the town of Zabludov [in eastern Poland]. He was only six years old. His parents, Peter and Anastasia Gavdjev, were absent from home that day. After thirty years, Gabriel's body was discovered incorrupt. He suffered in the year 1684 A.D.



Anastasius, the God-bearing father,

Upon himself assumed the labor of prayer and fasting.

Asceticism he maintained, long and persistent,

Until with the spirit he learned the mysteries.

Then, his honeyed mouth he opened:

"Christ is," said he, "the rock of salvation.

Do not insanely say: 'He lived a long time ago.

Where is He now that He might speak to me?'

The Good News (Gospel), His Covenant Holy--

Who is able to resist it?

It speaks to you in place of Christ Himself;

It is His All-Pure Mouth!

Again you say: 'I desire to see Him!'

Look with your whole mind and heart

At Holy Communion. From wine and bread,

There, in the flesh, is He--what else do you need?

Repent, O brother, repent of your sins.

A thousand deaths surround you!

To your spiritual father, your sins confess,

Then drink His Blood and eat His Body.

Only repent. If you begin with repentance,

You will live with justice and with shining hope.

Repent, O brother, repent of your sins.

A thousand deaths, around you stand!"


St. Anastasius of Sinai teaches: "Every Christian is given an angel [Guardian Angel] from God to guard him all his life (unless, through evil deeds, he drives him away). But as smoke drives away bees and an evil smell drives away doves, so is the guardian angel of our life driven away by our sins: drunkenness, adultery, anger and so forth. The angel of every faithful man leads him to every good deed, while the demons labor to scandalize the faithful ones and deprive them of the Kingdom of Heaven." The angels are close to men and that they take care of men, the whole of Holy Scripture attests to this, but especially the New Testament. Besides this, there exists in the Orthodox Church numerous testimonies of saintly men and women who witness to that which St. Athanasius confirms, that is, that each one of us in this world is accompanied by a gentle and mighty [herald] messenger of God, a soldier of the King of Heaven, an angel of light. Who, except an insane person, drives a good friend away from himself? In truth, only the insane and the extremely ignorant drive away their best friends, their guardian angels, by their sins.


To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How He, as the Almighty Victor over death, does not seek revenge on His enemies who tortured and crucified Him, but, leaving them to themselves, He sustains His frightened friends;

2. How even today, as in all times, in His innocence and meekness He does not hurry to seek revenge on the unfaithful, but hurries to the aid of the faithful.


About the one and only foundation of salvation

"For no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).

The Jews say: "The foundation is Moses." The Muslims say, "The foundation is Mohammed." The short-sighted naturalists say, "The foundation is nature." We ask: Did Moses resurrect from the dead? Did Mohammed ascend into heaven? Does nature bestow the Holy Spirit, the Comforter? Moses did not resurrect. Mohammed did not ascend into heaven. Nature not only does not bestow the Holy Spirit the Comforter upon men, but breathes hatred against man and growls at him and bares its claws.

The foundation of the world cannot be one who was conceived in sin; who himself sinned; who wandered and sought counsel in women; who, by someone else's power, performed certain works; who crumbled in the grave; and whose name leads to confusion in regard to the way, the truth and the life. Mohammed and Moses were conceived in sin and they committed sins; they sought counsel from women; with the power of others they performed deeds; in the grave they lay decomposed; their names lead men to confusion about the way, the truth and the life.

That is why, brethren, we have nowhere to turn in history to seek another such foundation except the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was conceived without sin; Who did not commit any sin; Who did not wander and Who did not seek counsel from anyone; Who by His own power performed mighty deeds; Who did not decay in the grave; and Whose Name does not lead men into confusion regarding the way, the truth and the life.

The Apostle does not say that Christ laid down some foundation but that He Himself is that established foundation. He is All-justice; that is why He is the foundation of every justice. He is All-truth; that is why He is the foundation of every truth. He is All-wisdom; that is why He is the foundation of every wisdom. He is All-power; that is why He is the foundation of every power. He is All-good; that is why He is the foundation of every good. He is All-life; that is why He is the foundation of life in both worlds, in this and in the next.

O resurrected Lord, You are the foundation of our salvation and eternal life.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
Switch mode views: