Prologue of Ohrid

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February 16

1. THE TWELVE HOLY MARTYRS WHO SUFFERED DURING THE REIGN OF EMPEROR DIOCLETIAN

Pamphilus, the first of the martyrs, was a presbyter of the church at Caesarea in Palestine. He was a learned and devout man who corrected the text of the New Testament from the errors of the various copiers. He alone, recopied this salvific book and gave it to those who desired it. The second was theDeacon Valentine, old in years and grey in wisdom. He was an excellent authority of Holy Scripture and knew them completely by heart. The third was Paul, an honorable and distinguished man who, during a previous persecution, was cast into the fire for Christ. Besides them, there were five brothers, according to the flesh and spirit, who were born in Egypt and were returning to their homeland after being forced to work in the mines of Cilicia. At the gates of Caesarea they declared that they were Christians for which they were brought to court. To the question: "What are your names?" They responded: "The pagan names which our mother gave to us, we discarded and we call ourselves: Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah,Samuel and Daniel." To the question: "Where are you from?" They responded: "From Jerusalem on High." All of them were beheaded and with them a young man Porphyrius who sought the bodies of the martyrs in order to bury them. Porphyrius they burned alive as well as Seleucus, formerly an officer who had approached and kissed the martyrs before the sword fell on their heads. Also the aged Theodulus, a servant of a Roman judge, who, during the funeral kissed one of the martyrs. Finally Julian, who reverenced and praised the lifeless bodies of the martyrs. And so they gave little for much, the inexpensive for the precious and mortality for immortality and took up habitation with the Lord in the year 308 A.D.

2. SAINT MARUTHAS

Maruthas was Bishop of Tagrith in Mesopotamia. He was known for his faith and goodness. Maruthas mitigated the anger of the Persian Emperor Yezdegeherd toward Christians, begged from him the relics of the four-hundred martyrs in Persia and founded a town called Martyropolis, where he reposed these holy relics. He ended his earthly course and took up habitation with the Lord in the year 422 A.D.

3. THE HOLY VENERABLE MARTYR ROMAN

Roman was a simple and illiterate peasant from Carpenesion. Learning of the heroism and glory of the martyrs of Christ, the young Roman desired martyrdom for himself. He went to Thessalonica were he began to praise the Faith of Christ on the streets and referred Islam as a fable. The Turks tortured him horribly and then sold him to a galley captain. Christians ransomed him from the captain and sent him to the Holy Mountain [Athos] where he was tonsured a monk by the illustrious Elder Acacius. But Roman further desired martyrdom for Christ. With the blessing of the Elder Acacius, Roman traveled to Constantinople pretending insanity and began to lead a dog along the Turkish streets. To the question: "What are you doing?" Roman responded that he is feeding the dog as Christians feed the Turks. The Turks threw him into a dry well, where he remained without bread for forty days. They then removed him from the well and beheaded him. A light emanated from his body for three days. An Englishman removed his body and took it to England. A certain monk dipped a towel in the blood of the martyr. This towel is preserved, even today, in the Dochiariu Monastery [Mt. Athos]. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered in the year 1694 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

TO THE HOLY MARTYRS

Martyrs of Christ, flowers bountiful,

Which will never and forever not fade away.

Martyrs of Christ, an evergreen living in the winter,

You who stretched toward heaven stained with blood,

Martyrs of Christ, aromas of incense,

And the votive light of oil, illumined by God.

You ran the race for the beauty of Christ

In Paradise, met with Christ forever.

The world will be and then cease to be and you will always be

With the Lord in Paradise, to rejoice eternally.

REFLECTION

The most important thing in a meadow is grass. In a field, it is wheat. In a garden, it is vegetables. No one boasts about the enclosure of the meadow more than they do the hay in the meadow. Nor does anyone boast more about the shed in the field than they do the wheat in the field. Neither does anyone boast of the ditches more than they do the vegetables in the garden. Why do people boast about their countries; the roads throughout the country; the demarcations and boundaries of a country and cities throughout the country and everything else that is not more important from the enclosures of the meadows, neither the shed in the field, neither the ditches in the garden when it is compared to the main crop, i.e., with man? Men do not exist for the sake of the country but the country exists for the sake of men. Christ did not come to save countries, but men. A country receives its value from good citizens. And what do evil people receive from a great country? Thorns in a spacious field.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus how in the dark nights, alone in the mountains, He prays for my salvation, your salvation and for the salvation of all men:

1. How He lifts His hands up toward heaven; how He bends to the ground; how He kneels in prayer many nights; in prayer for my salvation, your salvation and for the salvation of all men;

2. How He sweats at prayer and weeps for my salvation, your salvation and for the salvation of all men;

3. How He kept watch and kept vigil in prayer and torments His body without sleep and rest for my salvation, for your salvation and for the salvation of all men.

HOMILY

About that awesome stone

"Everyone who falls onthat stone will be [dashed]smashed to pieces" (St. Luke 20:18).

The Lord Christ is the corner stone. Judas fell on that stone and was smashed. Herod fell on that stone and he was smashed. Julian the Apostate fell on that stone and he was smashed. Arius fell on that stone and he was smashed. The deniers and scoffers of Christ fell on that stone and were smashed as clay pots of a potter.

This stone fell on Sodom and Gomorrah and Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. This stone fell onEgypt and Egypt was destroyed. This stone fell on Jerusalem and Jerusalem was destroyed. This stone fell on the Jewish people and the Jewish people were scattered into pieces. This stone fell on manysinful generations and empires and those sinful generations and empires fell apart into dust and ashes.

The Lord forgave sinners seventy times seven but beyond that if sinners remain sinners, will the Lord save them against their will? He will not, for that is not the principle for the salvation of men. The principle of salvation is that men voluntarily consent to salvation on the part of God. If men seventy times seven and more do not desire to be saved by God, then God will not save them. Then men will be smashed against that stone around which they cannot pass and are destroyed by that stone, which they have raised to cast far away from themselves. Can it be said that God is unmerciful Who saved the penitent thief on the cross? Can it be said that He is unjust when He handed over the thief to destruction who mocked Him even in the last hour of death?

O Lord Almighty, save us!
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