Prologue of Ohrid


April 29


Basil was born in Popova, a village in Hercegovina, of simple and God-fearing parents. From his youth, he was filled with love for the Church of God, and when he reached maturity, he entered the Monastery of the Dormition (Assumption) of the Birth-giver of God in Trebinje and there received the monastic tonsure. As a monk, he quickly became renowned for his assiduous and rare ascetical life. Saint Basil took upon himself ascetic labor upon ascetic labor, each one heavier and more difficult than the last. Later, against his will, he was elected and consecrated bishop of Zahumlje and Skenderia. As a hierarch, he first lived in the Monastery Tvrdoš and from there, as a good shepherd, strengthened his flock in the Orthodox Faith, protecting them from the cruelty of the Turks and the cunning ways of the Latins. When Basil was exceedingly pressed by his enemies, and when Tvrdoš was destroyed by the Turks, he moved to Ostrog, where he lived an austere ascetical life, protecting his flock by his ceaseless and fervent prayer.(*) He died peacefully in the Lord in the sixteenth century, leaving behind his incorrupt and healing relics; incorrupt and miracle-working to the present day. The miracles at the grave of St. Basil are without number. Christians and Muslims alike come before his relics and find healing of their most grave illnesses and afflictions. A great national assembly (pilgrimage) occurs there annually on the Feast of Pentecost.

(*) A new church, upon the ruins of the old Tvrdoš Monastery has been built in our day by Nikola Runjevac from the village of Poljica near Trebinje. It is a wonderful, glorious monument in the sight of God and His people.


These nine brave martyrs, inflamed with love for Christ, refused to offer sacrifices to the idols or to deny Christ the Lord, for which they were brutally tortured and finally beheaded. During the reign of Emperor Constantine, a church was built in Cyzicus in honor of these martyrs, and their incorrupt relics were placed. Countless healings have taken place over their relics. Their names were: THEOGONIUS, RUFUS, ANTIPATER, THEOCTIST, ARTEMAS, MAGNUS, THEODOTUS, THAUMASILUS AND PHILEMON. All of them despised everything temporal for the eternal, the corruptible for the incorruptible. That is why the Lord led them to His eternal home and crowned them with unfading crowns of glory. They suffered honorably and were glorified in the third century.


From his youth Memnon dedicated himself to fasting and prayer, and he purified himself to such a degree that he became a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. He healed incurable diseases and worked many other miracles. He appeared in storms at sea and rescued ships from disaster. He died peacefully in the Lord in the second century and took up his habitation in the heavenly courts of the Lord.



Saint Basil, God-pleaser

And, of every affliction, wondrous healer:

With the power of your Christ,

Whom you greatly loved,

The gravest of illnesses you were able to heal.

Even now, all who honor you, are you able to heal,

And who firmly believe in the Living God.

O glory of the Serbian people, do not cease to help;

For the sinful, do not cease to pray to the Lord.

In heavenly glory, you are a saint of God,

And saints are men with a full, healthy spirit.

In you [Basil] we see a true man,

Free from sin and filled to overflowing with healing,

In whom the fire of the Holy Spirit burns,

In whom the love of the resurrected Christ abides.

To the All-powerful God and to you, we are grateful,

That through you God pours out abundant mercy;

Through you, His saint, wondrous and of angelic face--

Basil the Serbian, the God pleaser!


Nothing can be kept secret from the Omniscient God. At every moment, to Him is known all that is being done in the world, both in the external world as well as in the internal, spiritual world. Not one intention, not one desire, not one thought can a man conceal from God. How can you hide from God that which you cannot hide from men, from holy men? One day, Tsar Ivan the Terrible came to church to pray to God. In the church, Blessed Basil, "the Fool for Christ," stood for prayer. It is true the Tsar was in church physically, but his thoughts were on the Hill of the Sparrow, a short distance from Moscow, upon which he had begun to construct a palace. Throughout the liturgical services the Tsar thought about how he could extend and complete his palace on that hill. After the services the Tsar noticed Basil and asked him: "Where have you been?" Basil replied: "In church." Basil then immediately asked the Tsar: "O Tsar, and where were you?" "I also was in church," answered the Tsar. To that the discerning saint replied: "You are not speaking the truth, Ivanushka, for I perceived how, in your thoughts, you were pacing about on the Hill of the Sparrow and building a palace."


To contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:

1. How the Lord, blessing His disciples, was raised above the earth and borne to Heaven;

2. How the disciples watched Him as He ascended until a cloud hid Him from their sight.


About the incomparable love of Christ

"And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19).

The love of Christ that surpasses knowledge! Surpasses, not the knowledge of God, but surpasses the knowledge of man, darkened and embittered by sin. God's knowledge is equal to God's love and neither surpasses the other. But man's knowledge, alienated from God, does not comprehend God's love at all, shown through the Lord Jesus Christ. God understands man, but man does not understand God. God attempted, with reason, to enable man to understand through nature and through the Old Revelation, through the Law and the prophets, but man did not want to submit to that knowledge. Then, God attempted to overcome men through love, and through this love, to draw them to Himself. Hence the Incarnation of the Son of God, His sacrifice and His suffering to the death. Such inexpressible love on the part of God, beyond words and knowledge, has captured and returned many to God, i.e., made them to understand and given them a new knowledge, pure and bright. But it has confused many of them as well, for it did not agree with their darkened and embittered understanding.

And to know, says the Apostle. How can we, brethren, know that which is beyond knowing and beyond understanding? In no other way than by a change of mind, an awakening and sharpening of the mind, an illumination and elevation of the mind: in brief, by the acquiring of a new mind, which has the capability of understanding the love of Christ, which is beyond the present sinful mind of men.

O the depth of God's wisdom and knowledge! Whoever comes even a little closer to you feels that you are, at the same time, the depth of the love of God.

O Lord, ascended into heaven, illumine our minds with Your understanding, that we may more easily adopt Your unfathomable love toward mankind and weep--weep from sorrow because of our hardened hearts and because of our darkened and malicious minds, and weep for joy because of Your love toward us, who are darkened and embittered.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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