Prologue of Ohrid

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April 20

1. THE VENERABLE THEODORE TRIHINOS

Theodore was a citizen of Constantinople and the son of wealthy parents. As a young man he left his parent's home and riches and entered a hermetical monastery in Thrace. Here, he imposed upon himself a most rigorous life of mortification. 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 Trihinos [Greek] Kostret [Serbian] for goat's hair. Because of his great self-mortification 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 shown to be flowing with oil [Chrism].

2. THE VENERABLE ANASTASIUS OF MOUNT SINAI

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. 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 an old age in the year 685 A.D. and took up habitation with the Lord Whom he faithfully served.

3. BLESSED ANASTASIUS SINAITES, PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH

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 a staunch faith. The Emperor Justinian fell into the heresy of Docetism [this heresy taught that Christ's sufferings were apparent and not 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 any reproach in his life. However, when Justinian died, repenting beforehand and re-instating Eutychius to the throne, then his successor Justin succeeded in banishing Anastasius on the basis of some spurious calumnies. Anastasius remained in exile for twenty-three years and was re-instated to the throne of Antioch during the reign of Maurice. He governed the Church of God for six years and ended his earthly sojourn in the year 599 A.D.

4. BLESSED GREGORY, PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH

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 also writes 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.

5. THE HOLY APOSTLE ZACCHAEUS

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.(*)

6. THE VENERABLE ATHANASIUS OF METEORA

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.

(*) Philaret mentions Gabriel the Child in his Lives of the Saints, which 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. 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.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT ANASTASIUS

Anastasius, the God-bearing father,

Upon himself assumed prayerful labor and fasting,

Mortification he maintained, long and persistent,

Until, with the spirit, he learned the mysteries.

Then, his honey-mouth he opened:

Christ is, says he, the rock of salvation.

Do not insanely say: He was a long time ago,

Where is He now in order to speak to me?

The Good News, his Covenant Holy,

Who is able to resist it?

It speaks to you in place of Christ Himself,

That is His All-Pure Mouth!

Again, you speak: 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 around you stand!

To your spiritual father, your sins confess,

After that, drink His Blood and eat His Body.

Only repent. If you begin with repentance

You will live with justice and shining hope.

Repent, O brother, repent of your sins,

A thousand deaths, around you stand!

REFLECTION

St. Anastasius of Sinai teaches: "To every Christian is given an angel [Guardian Angel] from God to guard him all his life unless someone through evil deeds drives him away. But as the snake drives away bees and evil smell drives away pigeons, thus our sins drive away the guardian angel of our life: drunkenness, adultery, anger and so forth. The angel of every faithful man leads him to every good deed, while the demons exert to scandalize the faithful ones and to 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 traditions of saintly men and women, who witness to that which St. Athanasius confirms, i.e. 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, the 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 friend, their guardian angel by their sins.

CONTEMPLATION

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 He even today as in all times, innocent and meek, does not hurry to seek revenge on the unfaithful but hurries to the aid of the faithful.

HOMILY

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 to men, but breathes hatred against man and growls at him and bares its talons.

One cannot be the foundation of the world who is 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 no where to turn in history and 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.
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