Prologue of Ohrid

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March 26

1. THE HOLY ARCHANGEL GABRIEL

Gabriel is the announcer of the Incarnation of the Son of God. He is one of the seven archangels who stand before the Throne of God. He appeared to Zacharias about the birth of the Forerunner. Gabriel said of himself, "I am Gabriel, who stand before God" (St. Luke 1:19). His name Gabriel means "Man - God." The Holy Fathers, in speaking about the Annunciation, interpret that an archangel with such a name was sent to signify who and what He would be like, who must be born of the All-Pure One. Therefore, He will be Man-God, mighty and powerful God. Some of the Fathers understood that this same Gabriel appeared to Joachim and Anna concerning the birth of the Virgin Mary and that Gabriel instructed Moses in the wilderness to write the Book of Genesis. The Holy Fathers think that Gabriel has pre-eminence in the first and greatest order of heavenly powers, that is, the Seraphic Order, since the Seraphims stand closest to God. He is, therefore, one of the seven Seraphims, closest to God. The names of the seven are MICHAEL, GABRIEL, RAPHAEL, URIEL, SALATHIEL, JEGUDIEL, BARACHIEL. To this number some even add JEREMIEL. Each one has their own particular service and all are equal in honor. Why did God not send Michael? Because Michael's service is to suppress the enemies of the Faith of God while Gabriel's is the mission of announcing the salvation of mankind.

2. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR IRENAEUS OF SREM

It is thought that Irenaeus was a Slav. He was married and had children prior to becoming a bishop. He suffered for Christ during the reign of Maximian. At the time of horrible sufferings, his relatives stood around him crying and begged him to spare himself and them [that is, to deny Christ]. But this wonderful priestly-martyr loved the wounds of Christ more than all the riches of this world. At the same time Seren, a certain gardener in Srem, also suffered at the hands of Prince Probus, as did Afrius suffer in Regia. Because Irenaeus did not want to deny his faith, Prince Probus ordered that he be hurled from a bridge into the Sava river, where this shepherd of Christ's flock died and took up habitation among the citizens of heaven. He honorably suffered in the year 304 A.D.

3. THE VENERABLE MALCHUS

Malchus was a farmer from the vicinity of Antioch, and from his youth his entire soul was directed toward God. The Arabs enslaved him and while in slavery forced him to take a black woman for a wife. He converted her to the Faith of Christ and they lived together as brother and sister. Conspiring with each other, they escaped from bondage. The Arabs almost overtook them. They found shelter in a cave in which they saw a lioness with her pups, and they became frightened. But God protected them. The lioness did not harm them but killed an Arab who wanted to enter the cave to apprehend the runaways. Arriving at their destination, his wife entered a convent and Malchus entered a monastery. He lived many years, mortifying himself, and took up habitation among the citizens of heaven in the fourth century.

4. VENERABLE BASIL, THE NEW

At first Basil lived in the forest without shelter or hearth. When he was captured, they questioned him saying," Who are you?" He replied, "One of the living on earth." They suspected him and thinking that he was a spy, tortured him. In the end, he lived for many years in freedom in Constantinople. He discerned all the human mysteries of man, perceived the future and worked great miracles. His maid was the elder woman Theodora who, when she died, appeared to Gregory, Basil's novice, and described to him the twenty levels of judgment [Mitarstvo] through which every soul must pass. On March 25, 944 A.D., St. Basil peacefully died and took up habitation in the wonderful heavenly family. After his death he was seen in great glory by a citizen of Constantinople.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE ARCHANGELS



Seven golden-headed of angelic rank,

Seven archangels, the highest spirits:

Michael, the sword for adversaries, is the first;

By the sword, he renders payment to those who wage war against God.

Gabriel, the herald of God's incarnation

And all wondrous recorder of human salvation.

Raphael, as a sun, is the servant of the Trinity;

Of vast human afflictions, he is the physician.

Uriel is the radiant light of God,

Of human souls, the enlightener.

Selathiel, the intercessor, prayers he presents,

And prayers of the people before God, he brings.

Jegudiel, glorifier of God the Almighty,

He, the willing man, to glory encourages,

Barachiel, dispenser of the blessing of heaven,

From God, he gives what men need.

REFLECTION

When a miracle occurs, do not be confused by it, rather, rejoice. God has placed His finger there, either to reward or to punish or to encourage His faithful or to lead the sinners on the path of salvation. People frequently compare this world to a fiery chariot. When you see a locomotive or another steam engine, you know that an engineer is hidden from view. That does not surprise you, does it? If the engineer puts his head out of the cab, waves his hand, extends a rod, waves a handkerchief, or tosses out a letter, or makes some other sign, you know that this does not interfere with the travel of the locomotive and does not damage one pin in it. Why, then, do the faithless say that God with His miracles interferes with the movement of these earthly chariots? Why? Because the faithless are unreasonable. The faithful rejoice at God's signs. A child is frightened before a fiery chariot but rejoices when a man, resembling himself, appears from the chariot. O, how dear it is to us when, from this mute universe which hurls around us, someone appears resembling us and that someone is one who recognizes and loves us! When a miracle occurs, know that He Who resembles us greets us and says, "Do not be afraid, I am beyond all of this." St. Basil the New worked many miracles. Through prayer he healed the sick and discerned the fate of people like an open book. Through His chosen ones, God, as always, demonstrated His love and power to men in order to firmly establish the faithful in the Faith and to shame the unfaithful and to return them to the Faith.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the cross:

1. How He used the last breath of life and saves a thief on the cross;

2. How He commends His soul into the hands of the Father "Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit" (St. Luke 23:46).

HOMILY

About the impending advent of the Lord

"Behold, I am coming soon"(Revelation 22:7).

The unfaithful and the slayers of the spirit will say, "Nearly two thousand years ago He promised that He will come and He has not come yet!" This is how they, who ridiculed Him, will lament in eternal torment. But we who are prepared for happiness in His Kingdom know that He will come in power and glory just as He promised. We know that He has already come countless times and showed Himself to His faithful ones. Did He not come to John the Divine [the one who saw God] to whom He spoke these words, "Behold, I am coming soon?" John saw Him in power and glory and felt His hand on him when he was frightened and fell before His feet as dead, "And He touched me with His right hand" (Revelation 1:17). Did He not come to Saul when in the beginning he breathed hatred against the Christians and when on the road to Damascus fell on the ground, seeing the Lord and hearing His voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts of the Apostles 9:4). And again, did He not enter into the heart of the Apostle Paul when he recognized that "Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me!" (Galatians 2:20). Did He not come to the countless martyrs, both male and female, who suffered for His Name, to encourage them, to heal them, and to have mercy on them? Did He not come to Anthony the Great, Theodore Stratelates, St. Haralambos, St. Marina, St. Sylvester and many, many more? What are we saying? Did He not return from the Kingdom of Death on the third day and appeared before the apostles? Did He not come to the aid of the Church many, many times and, as out of the dead, resurrected it whenever her enemies rejoiced, thinking that they had given His Church over to death forever? Did He not appear in His power in the Church at the time of Nero as well as at the time of Constantine; at the time of Julian, as well as at the time of Justinian; at the time of Arab tyranny, as well as at the time of the Turkish and Mongolian oppression over Christians?

O, my faithful brethren, do not submit to deception. He came countless times and comes even today. He comes to every soul to whom He can, regardless of impurity. However, we are all waiting for Him to come for the last time in power and glory. We know that His coming is certain. O Lord Most Gracious, before You come, make us worthy to recognize Your face and to be ashamed of our faces, darkened by sin.
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