Prologue of Ohrid


March 24


Artemon was born and educated in Seleucia. When the Apostle Paul came to that city, he met Artemon, further strengthened him in the Christian Faith, and appointed him bishop of that city. Artemon governed his entrusted flock with love and zeal. He was a physician of the souls as well as the bodies of men. He entered into eternity in ripe old age.


James suffered while defending icons under Emperor Leo the Armenian. He was a monk and a member of the brotherhood of the Studite Monastery. When the great Theodore the Studite was in exile, James was subjected to severe tortures so as to persuade him to renounce the veneration of icons. To the end he remained steadfast and faithful to Orthodoxy. Beaten and tortured, he was finally sent back to the monastery after the wicked Emperor Leo came to a wretched end. As a result of his severe injuries, he died in the monastery and took up his habitation among the citizens of heaven.


Parthenius was born on the Island of Mytilene. He was the bishop of Chios for a long time. Later he was elected patriarch of Constantinople. Because of false rumors that he worked against the state, the Turks initially attempted to force him to become a Moslem. When he adamantly refused, they hanged him in the year 1657 A.D.


Two companions, John and Sergius, swore an oath of brotherhood before an icon of the Holy Mother of God in this monastery. John was a wealthy man, and had a five-year-old son Zacharias. John became very ill. Before his death, John commended his son to the care of Sergius and bequeathed a large amount of gold and silver to him for safekeeping, to be given to his son when he reached maturity. When Zacharias reached maturity, Sergius denied that he had received anything from the deceased John. Then Zacharias said: "Let him swear before that very icon of the All-holy Theotokos, before whom he entered into a blood-brother relationship with my deceased father. If he swears that he did not receive anything from my father, John, then I will not seek anything from him." Sergius agreed. When Sergius swore this, he tried to venerate the icon, but a force held him back and would not allow it. Sergius then began to cry out in a crazed manner to the Holy Fathers Anthony and Theodosius: "Do not allow this merciless angel to destroy me!" This was the demon that attacked him by God's permission. After that, Sergius showed them all the money that John had entrusted to him. When they opened the chest, they discovered that the amount had doubled by God's providence. After receiving the money, Zacharias gave it to the monastery and was then tonsured a monk. Zacharias lived for a long time and was made worthy of God's great gifts, and entered peacefully into eternity.


Zacharias was the son of Carion the Egyptian. Carion left his wife and children and became a monk. He took Zacharias with him because the child's mother was unable to care for him. Even though Zacharias was younger than most of the elders in Scetis, he was favored with greater gifts of grace than many others. He felt that his whole being was on fire with the grace of God. To the question of St. Macarius, "Who is the ideal monk?" Zacharias replied, "He who continually compels himself to fulfill the commandments of God." To the question of Abba Moses, "What does it mean to be a monk?" Zacharias removed his kamilavka [hat] and trampled it underfoot, saying, "If a man is not broken like this, he cannot be a monk." He was a great light among the monks of the wilderness and, while still young, reposed in the Lord.



What is the worth of man, Thou didst ask, O Lord,

That he acquires the whole vast world as his property,

When today or tomorrow he must die,

And the accumulated wealth will outlive him?

What worth is it that he sets a crown upon his head,

When he must leave it behind him?

What good to him is gold and a pile of silver,

When grass grows through his withered ribs?

What good are silk, pearls and food,

When the sun does not gaze upon him living?

Of what help is the world, if he loses his soul?

Without the soul, the body is lowered into the grave.

His body and soul--both have died,

And to the grave each of them hurries.

Then men bury the two lifeless ones;

For neither of them do men bitterly mourn.

Let him who has understanding guard his soul.

Thou gavest to all a clear reminder:

The soul is the only thing that can be saved;

All else in the world, and even the world itself, will perish.

We know Thy counsel, O dear Lord,

Yet we need Thy power and help.

Help our sinful souls, O Good One,

That the smoke of vanity not suffocate them.


Abba Daniel and Abba Ammoe were traveling. Abba Ammoe said: "Father, when will we arrive at the cell?" (that is, so that they could pray to God). Abba Daniel replied: "And who is taking God away from us now? The same God is in the cell and outside the cell..." By this we are taught unceasing prayer, contemplation of God, and meditation on God's works in us and around us. The church building facilitates prayer and strengthens it, as also withdrawal and solitude in their way facilitate and strengthen it. He who does not want to pray will not be bound to pray either by a church or a cell. Neither will he who has felt the sweetness of prayer be able to separate his nature or his journeyings from prayer.


Contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the Cross:

1. Counting the drops of His All-holy Blood and counting my sins;

2. Counting His painful sighs, and counting the mindless days of my laughter.


on faithfulness in suffering and the crown of life

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer... Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

By His suffering our Lord eased our suffering. He endured the greatest of pain and emerged as the Victor. That is why He can encourage us in our lesser sufferings. He suffered and endured in righteousness while we suffer and endure in expiating our own sins. This is why He can doubly remind us to endure to the end as He, the Sinless One, endured. Not one of us helped or alleviated His pains and endurance, yet He stands beside each one of us when we suffer and He alleviates our pains and misfortunes. That is why He has the right to tell each one who suffers for His name's sake: "Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer, for I alone have endured all sufferings and am familiar with them. I was not frightened by a single suffering. I received them upon Myself, and in the end I overcame them all. I did not overcome them by dismissing them or fleeing from them but by receiving them all upon Myself voluntarily and enduring them all to the end. And so you also should accept voluntary suffering, for I see and know how much and how long you can endure.

"If your suffering should continue until death itself and if it should be the cause of your death, nevertheless, do not be afraid: I will give thee the crown of life. I will crown you with immortal life, in which I reign eternally with the Father and the Life-giving Spirit."

God did not send you to earth to live comfortably, but rather to prepare you for eternal life. It would be a great tragedy if your Creator were unable to give you a better, longer, and brighter life than that which is on earth, which reeks of decay and death and is shorter than the life of a raven.

O my brethren, let us listen to the words of the Lord and all of our sufferings will be alleviated. If the blows of the world seem as hard as stones, they will become as the foam of the sea when we obey the Lord.

O Victorious Lord, teach us more about Thy long-suffering. And when we become exhausted, extend Thy hand and sustain us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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