Prologue of Ohrid

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March 2

1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR THEODOTUS, BISHOP OF KYRENIA ON THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS

Because of his wisdom and kindness, Theodotus was elected to the episcopacy and governed the Church of God with love and zeal. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of the wicked Emperor Licinius, this godly man was brought to trial and put through many tortures. When the torturer Sabinus advised him to deny Christ and to bow down before pagan idols and to worship them, Theodotus replied, "If you knew the goodness of my God in Whom I hope, that because of these temporary sufferings, will make me worthy of eternal life, you also would wish to suffer in the same manner as I." The torturers began to strike his body with nails, and he prayed to God with gratitude. Thinking his end was near, Theodotus counseled and taught the Christians who were assembled around him. By the Providence of God, the Emperor Constantine at that time proclaimed freedom to Christians and ordered that all who were sentenced be released for the sake of Christ. And so, this saint was freed and returned to his prior position in Kyrenia. Astortured as he was, Theodotus lived for several more years. After that, he found repose in the Lord, Whom he faithfully served and for Whom he suffered. In the year 302 A.D. his earthly life ended and was translated to the mansions of our Lord.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR TROADIUS

As a young man he suffered for Christ. Gregory of Neo-Caesarea saw in a vision how bravely Troadius withstood his tortures for Christ until the time he was killed. He saw his soul, which was separated from the body, joyfully hurrying toward heaven. St. Troadius suffered and was glorified in the third century.

3. THE FOUR-HUNDRED AND FORTY MARTYRS

They were killed by the Lombards in Italy about the year 579 A.D. St. Gregory Dialogues writes about them. In one place, forty of them were beheaded. At another place, four-hundred of them were also beheaded, all because they refused to eat of the sacrifices of the idols. Additionally, these four-hundred refused to dance around the heads of the goats offered to the demons as a sacrifice by the pagans, as was the custom of the Lombards.

4. THE VENERABLE AGATHON

Agathon was a great Egyptian ascetic who practiced extreme asceticism in the fifth century. He was a contemporary of St. Macarius and a disciple of St. Lot [Egyptian Ascetic]. He labored and tried to fulfill all the commandments of our Lord. One of the brethren complimented him on a small knife with which he used to cut brushwood used for making baskets. Upon hearing this compliment, the saint joyfully handed over the knife to that brother as a gift. St. Agathon also said, "It would be very satisfying for me if I could assume unto myself the body of a leper and give him mine." Is this not perfect love? (*)

(*) In the Greek Synaxarion, he is commemorated on January 8.

5. THE MARTYR EUTHALIA

This holy Euthalia was a virgin from Sicily. She had a mother of the same name and a brother named Sermilianus. All were unbaptized pagans. Her mother Euthalia suffered from an issue of blood. The holy martyrs, Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyrinus (May 10), appeared to her in a dream and told her that she would be healed only if she became baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Euthalia professed her faith in Christ, was baptized, and indeed recovered. Upon seeing this miracle, evenEuthalia's daughter was baptized. After that, Sermilianus began to mock and ridicule his mother and sister because of their faith in Christ. He threatened them. The mother became frightened and fled her home. Then the brother began to persecute his sister. His sister was not frightened, for Christ was more dear to her than her brother. She said to Sermilianus, "I am a Christian and I am not afraid of death." The wicked brother then sent a servant to defile her. When the servant attacked St. Euthalia, he lost his eyesight. The evil brother saw this miracle but still remained hard of heart. Just as Cain pursued Abel, Sermilianus pursued his sister, caught her and beheaded her. Thus, the holy virgin Euthalia was wedded with the wreath of eternal glory. By this example, the words of the Lord Christ were fulfilled: that He brought a sword among men, which causes variances between relations in blood, but not between relations in faith. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (St. Matthew 10:34,35).

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT AGATHON

Untalkative Agathon, for three years studies

With a pebble under his tongue to remain quiet and silent,

That by his tongue, sin, not to serve,

Only to speak words of solace to men

And to glorify God Who created him.

Once, when the saint began to speak

About anger, he said: The one over whom anger takes control

Does not please God, neither now nor never,

We have the power to resurrect the dead,

From the angered one, God does not accept any sacrifices.

And when death hung over Agathon,

The brethren gathered to see him frail,

Prayers he whispered with great fear,

Sigh upon sighs poured from his chest.

The brethren asked him: Are you also afraid,

O, all-good father, when before God you stand?

You were completely good to everyone, to all it is known,

Among the stones of men, you glistened as gold!

Then the elder said with countenance more radiant,

My children now, before the judgment of God I stand.

The judgment of man is one thing and another is the judgment of God--

And a more powerful sigh seized the elder!

REFLECTION

If someone loses his faith in God, he is recompensed with stupidity. Of all stupidities, it is difficult to say whether there is a greater one than this: that someone who calls himself a Christian and then proceeds to gather pathetic proofs for God and eternal life from other beliefs and philosophies. He who does not find gold among the wealthy; how will he find it among the poor? The revelation of eternal life, of facts, of proofs, of signs, and of actual visions of the spiritual world - all of these not only constitute the foundation of the Christian Faith, but constitute its walls, floors, ornaments, all the furnishings, the roof and the domes of the majestic building of the Christian Faith. A single ray from the spiritual world glistens through every word of the Gospels, not to mention the miraculous events, both in Evangelical and Post-Evangelical times as well as throughout the entire history of the Church for two-thousand years. Christianity has thrown open wide the gates of that world in so great a measure, that it should not be necessary to call it a religion, in order not to confuse it with other faiths and religions. It is a revelation! God's revelation!

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystical Supper:

1. How he had told His disciples that one of them would betray Him;

2. How after all that He did for Judas and after the washing of his feet and after indicating that He knew his betraying intention, Judas remained obstinate in his thoughts of selling his Teacher and his soul for silver;

3. How our Lord was saddened at the destruction and downfall of Judas as with the destruction and downfall of His other traitors and traitors of His Church throughout all ages till the end, all of which He foresaw with His All-Seeing Spirit.

HOMLIY

About the Father and the Son

"And whoever sees me, sees the one who sent me" (St. John 12:45).

He who sees the light also sees the sun beyond it. For could anyone see the sun and not the light? If the sun did not emit its light, none of us would know about the sun. All of our knowledge about the sun, we received with the help of the rays of light which came from the sun. No one has ever seen the sun with the help of some other light, other than that which comes from the sun itself. So it is with our knowing the Father with the help of the Son. He who does not know about the Son cannot know about the Father. He who knows the Son, knows the Father. He who sees the Son, sees also the Father. God cannot be known without His Light Who came among men. The Light of the Father is the Son. "I am the Light" (St. John 8:2), said Christ. The Light shines in the darkness! The physical world would be completely in darkness if it were not for the light from the sun. The spiritual and moral world and all the life of mankind would be in darkness if it were not for the Light which is from the Father. That Light is Christ the Lord. Truly, brethren, there is no true light which illuminates the Being of God as does the light of Christ the Lord. He who sees Him sees God. He who does not see Him is in darkness. O Lord, Son of God, always help our souls to see You, and through You, Your Heavenly Father and the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Trinity, one in essence and undivided.
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