Prologue of Ohrid

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February 1

1. THE HOLY MARTYR TRYPHON

Tryphon was born of poor parents in the village of Lampsacus in Phrygia. In his childhood he tended geese. Also from his childhood he was able to cure illnesses that afflicted people and livestock and was able to expel evil spirits. The Roman Empire at that time was ruled by Emperor Gordian whose daughter Gordiana went insane and this caused her father great sorrow. All the physicians were unable to help Gordiana. The evil spirit spoke through Gordiana and said that no one can cast him out except Tryphon. After many who were named Tryphon in the empire were summoned, by Divine Providence, young Tryphon was also summoned. He was brought to Rome and he healed the emperor's daughter. The emperor lavished upon him many gifts all of which Tryphon, upon his return, distributed to the poor. In his village this holy youngster continued to tend geese and to pray to God. When Decius, the Christ-persecutor, was crowned emperor, Saint Tryphon was tortured and cruelly tormented for Christ. He endured all tortures with great joy saying: "Oh! If only I could be made worthy to die by fire and pain for the Name of the Lord and God, Jesus Christ!" All sufferings did him no harm and finally the tormentors sentenced him to be beheaded. Before his death Tryphon prayed to God and gave up his soul to his Creator in the year 250 A.D.

2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYRS PERPETUA AND FELICITAS; THE HOLY MARTYR SATYRUS AND OTHERS WITH THEM

As Christians, they were all cast into prison during the reign of Emperor Septimus Severus. Saint Perpetua, who was of noble birth, encouraged all the other prisoners not to be afraid to suffer for Christ. In a dream, Perpetua saw a ladder imbedded with sharp knives, swords, spears, fishhooks, nails and other death-bearing instruments extending from heaven to earth. At the bottom of the ladder there lay a loathsome serpent. She saw how Satyrus ran up to the top of the ladder first, unharmed, and from the top cried out to Perpetua: "Perpetua, I am waiting for you; come, but be careful of the serpent!" Encouraged by this, Perpetua stood on the head of the serpent as on the first rung of the ladder and, step by step, quickly raced to the top. When she reached the top, Perpetua entered into heaven and saw the most beautiful mansions of heaven and was very ecstatic. When she related her dream, all the prisoners interpreted that imminent death soon faced them, the first of them being Satyrus, which shortly came true. Satyrus was slain first, then Perpetua and all others one by one. As lambs slain for Christ the Lamb of God, they received from Christ, the eternal reward in the kingdom of Light. They all suffered for Christ between the years 202-203 A.D.

3. VENERABLE PETER OF GALATERA

At age seven Peter left the home of his parents for the sake of Christ and retreated into the wilderness. Here, by fasting and prayer, Peter attained such a state of perfection that he worked many miracles by the Spirit of God. In his ninety-ninth year, he took up habitation in the eternal Kingdom of Christ about the year 429 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

CHRIST - THE GOLDEN TREE

A golden-branched tree grew

With three golden branches,

On it, there are white birds,

White; as white as snow.

And the birds fell

Down deep,

The glowing golden tree remained,

The tall tree.

In the depths, death and darkness,

Dark and becoming darker,

Malice and hunger; sorrow and grief,

Insanity, delirium.

The birds in the blackness of pitch all were immersed;

Never again able

To soar to the heights.

The golden tree took pity on the unfortunate birds,

And a secret conversation began among the branches.

Then one branch bent over to the terrible abyss,

And raised the nest of the birds to the top of the mountain.

Thus, Christ the golden-branch bent toward the earth

And raised fallen man to the glory of the Trinity.

And now, the golden tree grows with three golden branches,

On it are white birds; white, white as snow.

REFLECTION

The Prayer of Saint Tryphon before his death: "O Lord, God of gods and King of kings, the most holy of all holies, I thank You that You made me worthy to complete my mortification without faltering. And now, I pray to You that the hand of the invisible demon does not touch me; that the demon not drag me into the abyss of destruction. Rather, let Your holy angels lead me into Your beautiful dwelling place and make me an heir of Your desired kingdom. Receive my soul and harken to the prayer of all those who would offer sacrifices to You in my remembrance. Gaze upon them from Your holy dwelling place and grant them abundant and incorruptible gifts. For You are the only good and merciful Gift-giver unto the ages of ages. Amen." Since Tryphon suffered in Nicaea and since many miracles occurred over his lifeless body, the citizens of Nicaea wanted to bury Tryphon in their cemetery. But, the saint appeared in a vision and expressed his desire that he be translated to his village of Lampsacus where he once tended geese and to be buried there.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the fresh and healthy air of the soul:

1. As the fresh and healthy air by which the soul breathes and is saved from corruption;

2. As the fresh and healthy air which the prophets, apostles and saints inhaled and were healthy in soul;

3. As the fresh and healthy air of my soul which drives out the stench of sin in me and makes me fresh and healthy in soul.

HOMILY

About the Word of God which purifies as a fire

" You are already clean through the word which I have spoken to you" (St. John 15:3).

By His word the Lord created the world; by His word He renewed the world; by His word He forgave sins; by His word He healed diseases; by His word He drove out evil spirits; by His word He calmed the storms and the winds. By His holy word He cleanses men, even now, that they, cleansed, may bring forth-abundant fruit. As are the vines, when they are pruned and cleansed, the word of the Lord is powerful for it comes forth from the All-powerful. "By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made" (Psalm 33:6). The word of the Lord is as bright as the sun but, when necessary, it is as fiery as the sun and then burns out everything that goes against the Lord. The word of the Lord is as sweet as honey; but, when necessary, it is as bitter as medicine. The word of the Lord is as welcome as a friend who knocks at the door when he is most needed; but, when necessary, the word of the Lord is as a judge who finds us in sin and who judges us without allowing us any excuse. The word of the Lord is true, just, wise and merciful which is why it is so All-powerful. No one and nothing, either in heaven or on earth, is able to go against it. The human word is also powerful when it is true, just, wise and merciful. But just as illness is able to exhaust and so weaken a giant that he becomes more powerless than a child; so falsehoods, injustice, insanity and lack of mercy so weakens the word of a human that it becomes nothing; a chattering fox against the moon. He who spares words forges them of pure silver. And whoever unmercifully squanders them must mix earth with silver. Your word, O Lord, is life and truth. Cleanse us by Your All-powerful word as You cleansed Your apostles to bear much fruit and to be made worthy of Your kingdom.
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