Prologue of Ohrid

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March 19

1. THE HOLY MARTYRS CHRYSANTHUS AND DARIA AND THE OTHERS WITH THEM

Chrysanthus was the only son of Polemius, a distinguished patrician, who settled in Rome from Alexandria. As the son of wealthy parents, Chrysanthus studied all the secular subjects, having the most learned men for instructors. But secular wisdom confused him and left him in uncertainty as to what is truth. As a result of this, he grieved. But God, who plans all and everything, alleviated his grief. A written copy of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles came into the hands of the young Chrysanthus. Having read them, Chrysanthus was enlightened with the truth, and he desired a teacher and found one in the person of a certain priest, Carpophorus, who taught and baptized him. This did not please his father, who attempted everything in order to dissuade him from believing in Christ. Not succeeding, the wicked father at first tried to corrupt him by placing him alone with an immoral woman. In this, Chrysanthus was victorious over himself and persevered in chastity. His father then coerced him into marring Daria, a pagan girl. Chrysanthus counseled Daria to embrace the Faith in Christ and to live together as brother and sister, although pretending to be married. When his father died, Chrysanthus began to confess Christ openly and to live as a Christian, both he and his entire household. During the reign of Emperor Numerian, he and Daria were cruelly tortured for their faith. Even the torturer Claudius, witnessing the forbearance of these honorable martyrs and the miracles which were manifested during their agony, embraced the Faith of Christ along with his entire household. For this, Claudius was drowned. Both of his sons were beheaded. His wife, after having recited her prayers, died on the gallows. Daria was so steadfast in her agony that the pagans cried out, "Daria is a goddess!" Finally, it was decreed that Chrysanthus and Daria be buried in a deep pit and covered with stones. Later, a church was erected on this site. There was a cave near this pit where some Christians assembled for prayer and Communion in memory of the Saints Chrysanthus and Daria. Hearing of this, the pagans attacked and sealed off this cave. By such a death, the pagans drove these Christians from this world to a better world where Christ reigns eternally. These glorious martyrs, Chrysanthus and Daria and the others with them, among whom were Diodorus the priest and Marianus the deacon, suffered for Christ in Rome in the year 284 A.D.,

2. THE HOLY MARTYR PANCHARIUS

Pancharius was born in Villach, Germany [present day Austria]. He was a high-ranking officer at the court of Diocletian and Maximian. At first, he denied Christ but, being counseled by his mother and sister, he returned to the Faith of Christ and died for it in the year 302 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY MARTYRS CHRYSANTHUS AND DARIA

Saint Chrysanthus counsels Daria,

O virgin, forsake the lie

And do not venerate the idols as gods;

Neither seek, you, truth from the world.

The truth is in the One God,

The One Triune God

Who created the heavenly armies

Of angels and heavenly powers;

Who created the whole universe,

And of the universe, man, the crown.

The only One, immortal and living,

He, out of the earth, creates wrappings

And the clothing of spiritual wealth.

Our soul is spiritual wealth

Wrapped up in the dust of the body.

The soul should be tenderly nurtured

As a bride to make ready for Christ.

Forsake, O virgin, the bodily,

It leads to suffering and sorrow.

God does not look into the vessel of the flesh

But at the flower which grows in it.

O virgin, clothed in death

Today, tomorrow consumed by death:

Adorn your soul with the flower of virtues,

Sow the flower with faith in the Lord,

Enclose it with hope and love,

Water it with the Life-creating Spirit,

Weed it of the weeds of sins,

Let grow the flower of virtues,

Let grow the flower of piety,

Let grow the flower of charity,

Let grow the flower of repentance,

Let grow the flower of patience,

Let grow the flower of abstinence,

Let grow the flower of obedience.

As a hymn of Paradise, your soul is,

Let it smell like a garden in May.

And may God to dwell therein,

For which He created it.

Daria listened to Chrysanthus,

Her soul to Christ she wedded,

Her body to torture she submitted

With Chrysanthus, her spiritual brother.

And God transplanted them to Paradise,

With them, adorned the garden of Paradise.

REFLECTION

"That mercy [of God] that resurrects us and against which we sin later on is even greater then that mercy that He bestowed upon us before He gave us being; when we did not exist. Glory O Lord to Your immeasurable mercy!" Thus speaks St. Isaac the Syrian. He wants to say that greater is the mercy that God showed toward us when, through Christ, He saved us from the corruption of sin and death than when He created us out of nothing. Truly, it is so. Even our earthly parents show greater mercy to the perverted and fallen son when they embrace him again, forgive him all, make him civilized, cleanse him, heal him and again make him their heir then, when they gave him birth.

When the young Pancharius, surrounded by royal honors, denied Christ, his mother wrote him a letter full of pain and sorrow. "Do not be afraid of men," wrote his mother, "but it is essential to fear God's judgment. You should have confessed your faith in Christ before emperors and lords and not to have denied Him. Remember His words: `But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before My heavenly Father' " (St. Matthew 10:33). Being ashamed of himself, the son accepts the advice of his mother, confessed his faith in Christ before the emperor, and died a martyr's death for Christ in order to live with Him eternally. And so the blessed mother of Pancharius brought about a new birth for her son, a spiritual birth more important than the first, physical birth.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus on the cross:

1. How He suffered in agony on the cross;

2. How He was given vinegar and gall to drink when He said He was thirsty;

3. How those men beneath the cross, insensitive because of selfishness, did not think about Him but were vying for his garments.

HOMILY

About the sign of the Son of Man

"And then the sign of the Son of Manwill appear in the heavens"(St. Matthew 24:30).

What kind of sign will the sign of the Son of Man be, which once had been shown briefly? That is the cross, more brighter than the sun, which manifested itself over Jerusalem before the coming of an earlier personification of the Antichrist by the name of Julian the Apostate. And in lieu of every homily concerning this miraculous sign, it is worthwhile to quote here the letter of St. Cyril of Jerusalem written to Emperor Constatius, the son of Constantine the Great and predecessor of Julian the Apostate. A portion of his letter reads, "For in these very days of the holy feast of Pentecost on the Nones of May, about the third hour, a gigantic cross formed of light appeared in the sky above holy Golgotha stretching out as far as the holy Mount of Olives. It was not seen by just one or two but was most clearly displayed before the whole population of the city. Nor did it, as one might have supposed, pass away quickly like something imagined but was visible to sight above the earth for some hours, while it sparkled with a light above the sun's rays. Of a surety, it would have been overcome and hidden by them, had it not exhibited to those who saw it a brilliance more powerful than the sun, so that the whole population of the city made a sudden concerted rush into the Martyry, [the church] seized by a fear that mingled with joy at the heavenly vision. They poured in, young and old, men and women of every age, not only Christiansbut pagans from elsewhere sojourning in Jerusalem, all of them as with one mouth raised a hymn of praise to the worker of wonders, Christ Jesus our Lord, the Only-begotten Son of God and indeed attested to through experience, came to discern that the honorable [pious] Christian teaching is to be found not only in "persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power" (I Corinthians 2:4), and not only preached by man but, witnessed by Godfrom Heaven. "Announced originally through the Lord, it was confirmed for us by those who had heard. God added His testimony by signs, wonders, and variousacts of power" (Hebrews 2:3-4). We consider it our obligation not to remain silent about this Heavenly vision, but through this letter, hasten to inform Your God-glorified and Pious One." O my brethren, everything is possible with God: both, to reveal the created to man and to create the uncreated. But most importantly for us is that He wants to redeem our souls from sin and death and to give us life eternal. Let us pray to Him for this day and night.

O Lord Almighty, To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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