Prologue of Ohrid

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February 14

1. THE VENERABLE AUXENTIUS

Auxentius was a very prominent aristocrat among the noblemen and courtiers at the court of Emperor Theodosius the Younger in Constantinople. Enflamed with love for Christ, Auxentius was tonsured a monk and remained for a short time in Constantinople. When men began to praise him, he fled from their praise and settled on a mountain called Skopa near Chalcedon, which later was referred to as Auxentius' Mountain. His desire to remain there permanently, hidden from men, was not realized for some shepherds discovered him and make his whereabouts known. They began to bring the sick to him for healing. He healed many. He restored sight to the blind; cleansed lepers anointing them with oil; he also raised the palsied and freed many who were demon possessed. All of this was reason for amazement, but his humbleness was cause for even greater amazement. Whenever he was implored to heal someone he defended himself with the words: "I, also, am a sinful man!" Compelled by many requests, he approached healing in the following manner: he either invited all present to pray to God together with him for the sick person; or he first strengthened the faith in the people and then he told them that God will give to them according to their faith; or he prayed over the head of the sick person: "The Lord Jesus Christ heals you!" He did this so that the act of working miracles would not be attributed to him but rather to God Almighty. He participated at the Fourth Ecumenical Council

[Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] and strongly defended Orthodoxy against the Eutychian and Nestorian heresies. In the year 470 A.D., the Lord took his youthful soul in his old age and his aged body remained in the earth from which it was created.

2. THE VENERABLE ISSAC, RECLUSE OF THE MONASTERY OF THE CAVES IN KIEV

Issac lived during the time of Saints Anthony and Theodosius. He came to the monastery as a wealthy merchant. He left all and distributed everything to the poor and dedicated himself to the most strict form of asceticism in an enclosed cell. St. Anthony himself passed one prosfora(*) through an opening every other day. Deluded by demons who appeared to him in angelic light he bowed down to them and, after that, he bowed down before Satan himself believing that he was Christ. Because of that he became ill, and remained ill for two years after which he regained his health and became a more cautious and a more experienced ascetic. Because of this, before his death, God bestowed upon him abundant Grace. He died in the year 1090 A.D.]

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT AUXENTIUS' VISION OF SAINT SIMEON STYLITE

Auxentius, the adornment of Orthodoxy,

One night in mute silence

With tears, prayed to God,

Was lifting himself up in spirit to heaven,

With flaming wings, as a cherubim.

While the saint turned his gaze

To the swarm of stars in the heavenly firmament;

The elder looked and began to weep.

The priest-monks (hieromonks) asked him,

To tell them, what he saw,

And why did the elder begin to weep?

My children, priest-monks (hieromonks),

The soul of Saint Simeon, I saw,

The great Stylite, Simeon,

A pillar of Orthodoxy, a pillar of faith,

This night, the Stylite died,

His soul is being ascended to heaven,

Brighter than the stars, a glowing flame,

By us, his soul visited,

Me, a sinner, he graciously greeted.

Many nights have passed, since that night,

Until the news arrived about the death of the Stylite,

The truth of the vision, all recognized

That which Saint Auxentius beheld.

REFLECTION

Why do men leave one place and settle in another place? Primarily because they hope that they will be more fortunate in the other place. And in truth, from the worldly point of view of life and contentment, places can be different; better or worse. He, who does not hope in a better life after death, seeks a better sensual pasture in this life. But if we listen to the hearts of those men, who were able and capable to live in the so-called best places on the globe of the earth, we will detect dissatisfaction, sorrow and despair. They did not find that which they were seeking. They ate to over satisfaction in every place, and finally, still hungry, they gaze death in the eyes.

But look at the Christian saints! They sought places with the least earthly pastures; places that were "arid, impassible and devoid of water" isolated places and terrible places that attracted the least attention and for which no one competes. They considered every place on earth equally worthless, but they chose those places solely because they wanted to draw nearer in the spirit and mind to their eternal homeland. And, if one were to listen to their hearts, they would sense joy and contentment.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Parent who weeps for His children in the wilderness calling to them and gathering them:

1. At that time, the children of the nation of Israel;

2. The children of all peoples on earth;

3. The children of all times from creation until the end.

HOMILY

About the reversed values in the Kingdom of God

"But many who are first will be last, and the lastwill be first" (St. Matthew 19:30).

"For behold, some are last who will be first andsome are first who will be last" (St. Luke 13:30).

How All-wise is He Who spoke these words! He did not say that all the first will be last and all the last will be first, "but many." There is not one error in the Gospel and nowhere in the Gospel is there any exaggeration.

Why did the Lord put a limit and did not say "all" but rather "many." Experience teaches us that some of those who were first in honor on earth remained first in honor with God. There were emperors who, from their thrones, pleased God and, there were men who were without authority until their death, angered God. There were wealthy men, who by their charity and faith, were saved, and there were the indigent who, because of their evil and unbelief, received condemnation. There were learned men who kept the faith and did good deeds and there were unlearned men who rejected both faith and good deeds. And so, there were some who were first here on earth who remained first there in heaven also and there were some who were last here [on earth] and remained last there [in heaven] also.

But alas, "many" first here became last there. And, O the joy, O the justice of God; how "many" who were last here have become "first" there!

The Lord did not emphasize neither praised one class, or one occupation over all others, but He recruited and even today He recruits an army of light from all classes, from all occupations and professions. For Him the criteria of man is not a crown nor a beggar's pouch, but rather faith - faith and good deeds.

O All-wise Lord, remember us also in Your Kingdom.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

(*) The Prosfora is the bread offered for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy from which the Lamb [Agnec-Amnos] is removed and later consecrated and
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