Prologue of Ohrid

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March 3

1. THE HOLY MARTYRS, EUTROPIUS, CLEONICUS AND BASILLISCUS

They were companions of St. Theodore Tiro. When the righteous Theodore gloriously died, they remained behind in prison, and for a long time they were not sentenced due to a change in the emperor's deputy in the city of Amasea. When the new governor arrived, more inhuman than his predecessor, he ordered that these three be brought before him. All three were youths. Eutropius and Cleonicus wereblood brothers, and Basilliscus was a kinsman of St. Theodore. All three were like blood brothers in brotherly love. As such, they said before the governor, "As the Holy Trinity is undivided, so also are we by our faith undivided and in love inseparable." In vain was all the flattery on the part of the governor and in vain were his attempts to bribe Eutropius. First of all, the deputy invited Eutropius to dine with him. Eutropius refused, quoting from the Psalms, "Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked" (Psalm 1:1). After that, the deputy offered him a large amount of money, one hundred-fifty litres of silver, which Eutropius also refused and reminded the governor that because of silver, Judas lost his soul. After all attempts at interrogation and torture, the first two were sentenced to be crucified, and Basilliscus was sentenced to be beheaded. And so it was, two brothers crucified on two crosses for which they gave thanks to Christ that He made them worthy of the same death by which He Himself died. The third, Basilliscus, was beheaded. They all entered the Kingdom of Joy where St. Theodore, their commander, awaited them and who before them was glorified by Christ the Lord and Victor. They suffered honorably in the year 308 A.D.

2. SAINT PIAMA THE EGYPTIAN

For the sake of Christ, Piama did not wish to marry; she dedicated herself to a life of asceticism in the home of her mother. She ate very little food, and that, every other day. She spent most of her time in prayer and contemplation. Piama possessed the "Gift of Discernment." She died peacefully, wedding her soul to the Lord about the year 377 A.D.

3. THE UNKNOWN MAIDEN

Coming from a wealthy home in Alexandria, she had a good father who suffered much and came to an evil end, and an evil mother who lived well, died peacefully and was buried with honors. Perplexed as to whether she should live according to the example of her father or her mother, this maiden had a vision which revealed to her the conditions of her mother and her father in the other world. She saw her father in the Kingdom of God and her mother in darkness and in torment. This vision helped themaiden to decide that she would dedicate her whole life to God and, like her father, would adhere to the commandments of God, without considering all the adversities and the misfortunes which she would have to endure. She was faithful to the will of God to the end and, with the help of God, was made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven where she was reunited with her God-loving father.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINTS EUTROPIUS, CLEONICUS AND BASILLISCUS

The mind composed and uplifted to God the Most High,

The heart enflamed with love toward Him,

Does not care about pains nor about the body, worry,

Over such as these, only the Lord rules.

The mind fixed on Christ, that is most important.

This, during his torments, Saint Eutropius recognized

And Cleonicus his brother and beloved Basilliscus,

All three in the fire as though in the morning dew, were.

A mind fixed on Christ, about tortures does not care,

If pain persists, so also does prayer persist,

About pain, it does not think, but prayer, it weaves;

He who fears God does not fear pain.

Two blood brothers raised on the Cross:

Their bodies convulse, but the spirit does not stir,

Both glorify God Who glorified them;

Such an honorable death, to them, He gave.

The garment of the flesh is rent and removed

And the spirit races toward heaven; the spirit, than the body, is stronger;

Receive O God, they cry out, our spirit in the heights,

To You be enteral glory, O Son of God!

REFLECTION

Humanly speaking, Christ, by His obedience, elevated Himself to primacy in the Church, in the world and in the history of mankind. No one can be a good leader who has not completed the school of obedience. Adam forfeited the authority and dominion over the living creatures and the elements of nature at the very moment when he showed himself disobedient to God. The Abba Moses said, "Obedience begats obedience; if someone listens to God, God also listens to him." It is obvious then, that God listens to man more than man listens to God, especially when one takes into consideration how often and in how many ways man sins daily against the commandments of God. It is a fact that the Eternal God listens to us, corruptible as we are, more than we listen to Him. This should fill all of us with shame who still have a conscience. When St. Eutropius was being tortured, along with his two companions, he prayed to God, "Come to us in assistance as You came to Your servant Theodore Tiro." Suddenly, the ground shook and the obedient Lord appeared with His angels along with St. Theodore. The Lord said to the sufferers, "During the time of your torture, I stood before your faces and observed your patience. I will write your names in the Book of Life."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus at the Mystical Supper:

1. How He chose bread and wine, two ordinary elements of nourishment, and through them instituted His visible and invisible bond with the Church until the end;

2. How the Mystical Supper was preserved until today and how it will be preserved until the end of time as the Mystery of Communion;

3. How everyday, and almost every hour, somewhere in the world, a priest, consecrates the bread and wine and receives it as the Body and Blood of Christ. What a wonderful vision that is! [The Consecration of the bread and wine and receiving it as the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ]

HOMILY

About love for your neighbor

"Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessaryfor your benefit" (Philippians 1:24).

Inflamed with the love of God, the Apostle Paul acknowledged, in his Epistle to the Philippians, that for him death is a gain because his life is Christ's. Paul's love for Christ draws him toward death so that he may stand by Christ as soon as possible,and his love for the faithful again compels him to remain in the flesh. However, there are not two loves which attract the apostle and pulls him in two directions, but one and the same love which opens before him two treasures of wealth. One treasure is the blessed world in heaven, and the other treasure is the souls of the faithful on earth. That heavenly treasure is increased by this wealth from earth; this treasure overflows into the other. To go to heaven, the apostle is drawn by love and reward; to remain on earth, he is drawn by love and duty. When mortal man, my brethren, discovers that it is more important to remain in the flesh out of love for his brethren, what kind of miracle is it then that the eternal God knew, before the apostle, that it was more important to be in the flesh for the salvation of mankind than out of the flesh in the spiritual kingdom? Does not this confession of Paul before the Philippians explain to us with complete clarity the reasons for the Incarnation of the Son of God? There, in the heavens, is the true Kingdom of Christ and the true life of Christ without the mingling of sin and death. But the love of the Son of God toward men deemed it necessary to remain in the flesh on earth among men. Truly, we need to be thankful to the Apostle Paul that he, in explaining himself to us, explained the mystery of Christ's coming and His dwelling in the flesh.

O Lord, wonderful are You in Your saints.
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