Prologue of Ohrid

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March 25

1. THE ANNUNCIATION

When the All-Holy Virgin completed the fourteenth year after her birth and was entering her fifteenth year, after having spent eleven years of living and serving in the Temple of Jerusalem, the priests informed her that, according to the Law, she could not remain in the Temple but was required to be betrothed and enter into marriage. What a great surprise to the priests was the answer of the All-Holy Virgin that she had dedicated her life to God and that she desired to remain a Virgin until death, not wanting to enter into marriage with anyone! Then, according to Divine Providence, Zacharias, the high priest and father of the Forerunner, under the inspiration of God, and in agreement with the other priests, gathered twelve unwed men from the Tribe of David to betroth the Virgin Mary to one of them to preserve her virginity and to care for her. She was betrothed to Joseph of Nazareth who was her kinsman. In the house of Joseph, the All-Holy Virgin continued to live as she did in the Temple of Solomon, occupying her time in the reading of Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in Godly-thoughts, in fasting and in handiwork. She rarely went anywhere outside the house nor was she interested in worldly things and events. She spoke very little to anyone, if at all, and never without special need. More frequently she communicated with both of Joseph's daughters. When the fullness of time had come, as prophesied by Daniel the Prophet, and when God was pleased to fulfill His promise to the banished Adam and to the Prophets, the great Archangel Gabriel appeared in the chamber of the All-Holy Virgin and, as some priestly writers wrote, precisely at that same moment when she held open the book of the Prophet Isaiah and was contemplating his great prophecy: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son!"(Isaiah 7:13). Gabriel appeared in all of his angelic brightness and saluted her: "Rejoice, highly favored one! The Lord is with you" (St. Luke 1:28), and the rest in order as it is written in the Gospel of the saintly Luke. With this angelic annunciation and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin, the salvation of mankind and restoration of all creation began. The history of the New Testament was opened by the words of the Archangel Gabriel: "Rejoice, highly favored one" This is to imply that the New Testament was to signify joy to mankind and to all created things. It is from this that the Annunciation is considered not only a great feast, but a joyful feast as well.

2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYRS PELAGIA, THEODOSIA AND DULA

These three holy women suffered for the Lord. After imprisonment and sufferings both Pelagia and Theodosia were beheaded. St. Dula, who was a servant girl, suffered alone in the city of Nicomedia. These three white roses, watered by the blood of the martyrs, were transplanted by God into His heavenly garden.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD

(The Theotokos)





O WHAT WONDERFUL NEWS: REJOICE, ALL-PURE ONE,

FOR US, YOU GAVE BIRTH TO

CHRIST!

O JOYFUL NEWS: REJOICE O VIRGIN,

RADIANT DOVE!

REJOICE O MARY, REJOICE, O ONE FULL OF GRACE,

YOU, THE GOLDEN GATE!

O BURNING BUSH, UNCONSUMED,

THE DAWN OF NEW SPLENDOR!

GABRIEL COMPOSES THE WORDS, AND HE HIMSELF REJOICES,

THE ANNUNCIATION HE PROCLAIMS!

PROCLAIMS THE ANNUNCIATION, ALL OF HEAVEN LISTENS,

YOUR SOUL TREMBLES!

IN THE TEMPLE YOU SERVED, TO GOD YOU CONSECRATED YOURSELF,

YOU BECAME THE TEMPLE!

REJOICE, O PURE ONE, HEAVENLY BRIDE,

YOU ARE THE ROYAL THRONE!

REJOICE, O HUMBLE ONE, TO THE HUMBLE ONE, YOU

WILL GIVE BIRTH,

AND REGENERATE THE WORLD!

REJOICE, O OBEDIENT ONE, GOD HEARD YOU

AND CROWNED YOU WITH GLORY!

REJOICE, O TEARFUL ONE, BY TEARS SOFTENED,

BY THE SPIRIT GLISTENING!

REJOICE, O POOR ONE, BUT THE WEALTHIEST ONE

AND BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN!

FOR US, PLEAD JOY, FROM CHRIST YOUR SON,

O VIRGIN, ALL-PURE ONE!

REFLECTION

Abba Athanasius was asked by some: "How is it that the Son is equal to the Father?" He answered, "Just as there are two eyes but one sight." The response is admirable. To this we can add: just as there are two ears but one hearing. The same is with all three Divine Hypostases: just as there are three candles but one and the same light.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the All-Holy Virgin Mary:

1. How she served God for eleven years in the Temple humbly, obediently and devotedly;

2. How she served God in her chamber in Nazareth, humbly, obediently and devotedly;

3. How humbly, obediently and devotedly she received the Divine Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel.

HOMILY

About the omnipotent Word of God

"For nothing will be impossiblefor God" (St. Luke 1:37). "Then God said, Let there be light, and there was light" (Genesis 1:3). Until

God spoke, there was no light. Nor was there anyone who could know what light was, until God spoke, and light came into being. In the same manner, when God spoke, then water and the dry land came into existence, the firmament of the heavens, vegetation, animals and finally man. Until God spoke, none of this existed nor was there anyone, except God, Who could know that all of this could exist. By the power of His word, God created all that is created on earth and in the heavens. Whatever God wanted to exist and spoke that it be, must be and it cannot but be, for the word of God is irresistible and creative. The creation of the world is a great miracle of the word of God.

Having created all things, God again, by His word, established the order of creation and the manner of behavior and relationship of creatures one with another. This order and manner which God established is a great miracle of God's word. There exists an order and manner among created things, visible and comprehensible for us people; and there also exists an order and manner, invisible and incomprehensible. According to that invisible and incomprehensible order and manner, which is a mystery in the Holy Trinity, there have occurred and are occurring those manifestations which people call miracles. One such manifestation is the conception of the Lord Jesus Christ in the womb of the All-Holy Virgin Mary without a husband [The Virgin Birth]. This appears like an interruption in the visible and comprehensible order and manner but it is never an interruption for the invisible and incomprehensible order and manner. This birth, truly, is a great miracle; perhaps the greatest miracle that was ever revealed to us mortals. But the entire created world is a miracle, and all the visible and comprehensible order and manner is a miracle, and altogether these miracles came about by the word of God; therefore, much in the same way the Lord was conceived in the Virgin's womb. Both one and the other was all brought about by the power and word of God. That is why the wonderful Gabriel replied to the question of the All-Pure One which is the question of all generations: "How can this be?" (St. Luke 1:34), and he answered her: "For nothing will be impossible for God" (St. Luke 1:37).

O Lord God, our Creator, Immortal and Existing Miracle-Worker, enlighten our minds that we no longer doubt, but believe and enlighten our tongue that it not question You, but praise You.
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