Prologue of Ohrid


April 27


Simeon was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was the son of Cleopas who was the brother of Joseph, the betrothed of the All-Holy Mother of God. Seeing the miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Simeon believed, and was numbered among the Seventy Apostles. He preached the Gospel of Christ with great zeal and courage throughout Judea. When the iniquitous Jews killed James, the brother of our Lord and the first bishop of the Church of Jerusalem, by hurling him from the heights of the Temple and beating him over the head with a club, then this Simeon, a cousin of James, was appointed Bishop of Jerusalem. And Simeon, as the second bishop of the Holy City, governed the Church of God with wisdom and strength unto a ripe old age. He was over one hundred years old when he suffered. His suffering was in this manner: During the reign of Emperor Trajan, a two-fold persecution began in Palestine--against the descendants of David and against the Christians. Wicked men accused Simeon of being both. St. Simeon endured harsh torture and was finally crucified on a cross, as was his Lord, Whom he had faithfully served on earth.


Stephen was a disciple of St. Theodosius of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. For a while, Stephen was Abbot of the Monastery of the Caves, and he labored much in the regulation and organization of the monastic life and in the adornment of churches. Then the devil incited malice among the monks against Stephen; not only did they remove him as abbot, but they banished him from the monastery. But God, Who does not abandon the righteous for long under the humiliation of the unrighteous, directed the life of the Venerable Stephen so that he was elected as Bishop of Vladimir. As a hierarch of God, Stephen governed the Church until old age and died peacefully in the Lord in the year 1094 A.D.


The body of St. Sava was buried in Mileševo Monastery. During the time of the Turkish tyranny, the Serbian people gathered around the relics of their saint to seek comfort and healing. Fearing that an insurrection might arise from that place against the Turks, Sinan Pasha of Belgrade ordered that the relics of St. Sava be translated to Belgrade and there to be burned on Vracar hill, April 27, 1594 A.D. But with the burning of the relics of this saint, the demon-ridden Pasha did not burn the saint, who remains alive before the Throne of God in the heavens and in the hearts of his people on earth.


John was the Abbott of the Cathares Monastery. This monastery was established near Nicaea during the reign of Justin in the sixth century. Because of his veneration of icons and his defense for the veneration of icons, John suffered much at the hands of the Emperors Leo and Theophilus and died in exile, around the year 832 A.D.



Simeon, radiant with youth and strength,

When he, to the gracious Teacher, drew near,

Saw not a relative known to him according to the flesh

But the unknown God in bodily form.

And by this great light the entire world became dark to him.

When he came to himself, with the world he parted,

And as a powerful eagle in lofty flight,

Toward heaven and the heavenly world he raised his spirit.

He, through Christ, recognized the goodness of God,

Immortal life, immortal beauty.

Through Christ, True Man he further recognized.

That is why he scorned the glory and the honor of this age,

As a honeybee he gave himself to labor,

Not grieving over his youth, not grieving over his body,

But, unto the end, fulfilling the Law of Christ,

Becoming worthy of Paradise divine.

And, crucified upon a Cross, the elder centenarian

Did not feel the sting of death,

For, in spirit, long ago he had resurrected;

Now he waits in the body to resurrect in glory.

The True Faith must be persecuted in this world. The Savior Himself said this clearly and openly to His apostles. St. Apollinarius of Hierapolis, in writing against the Montanist heretics, says: "Let them tell us before God: who, out of all their prophets, beginning with Montanus and his wives, was persecuted by the Jews and killed by the ungodly? No one. Who from among them was taken away for the Name of Christ and was crucified on the cross? Again, no one. Have any of the women ever been flogged or stoned in the Jewish synagogues? Never and nowhere." The Orthodox saint is saying that the True Faith, on the other hand, must be persecuted in this world. Heresies are generally closer to the worldly and demonic spirit, which is why the world and the demons do not persecute their own. To be constantly persecuted--with brief intervals in between--is a characteristic of the Faith and the Orthodox Church. This persecution has existed throughout all of history, either from without or within--externally from unbelievers and internally from heretics.


To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How He commanded that repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached in His Name;

2. How He commanded His disciples to await the Father's promise of the power of the Holy Spirit from on high.


About the persecution of the pious

"It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts of the Apostles 14:22).

"In fact, all who want to live religiously (godly) in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12).

The Lord Jesus prophesied this and proved it true by His own example. The apostles also said this and by their example they proved it. All the God-bearing Fathers of the Church, the confessors and the martyrs also said this and proved it by their example. Therefore, is there any need to doubt that it is through a narrow door that one enters the Kingdom of God? Should we hesitate for a moment that it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God? No, there is no basis or justification for doubt. Can sheep live among the wolves and not be attacked by them? Can a candle burn in the midst of crosswinds and not sway back and forth? Can a fruitful tree grow alongside the road and not be disturbed by passersby? Thus, the Church of pious souls cannot but be persecuted again and again--by heathens, by idolaters, by heretics, by apostates, by passions and vices, by sin and transgressions, by the world, and by demons. So it is that not one devout soul can remain without persecution, be it external or internal, until it is separated from the body and the world. Someone may take issue with this and try to prove it otherwise, according to his own calculation and logic. But, in this case, neither the mind nor the logic of one man is of any avail. Thousands who were crucified speak otherwise, thousands who were burned alive cry out otherwise, thousands who were beheaded prove otherwise, and thousands who were drowned witness otherwise. O my brethren, the Christian Faith is mighty not only when it agrees with sensual reasoning and sensual logic, but when (and especially when) it contradicts sensual reasoning and sensual logic.

Those who want to live a godly-life will be persecuted. This the Apostle prophesied at the beginning of the Christian era, and twenty Christian centuries render a many-voiced echo to confirm the truth of the prophecy.

O resurrected Lord, grant us light, that we may be pious to the end, and give us the strength to endure persecution to the end.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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