Prologue of Ohrid

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May 13

1. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR GLYCERIA

Glyceria was the daughter of a Roman governor. Becoming impoverished after her father's death, Glyceria settled in Trajanopolis in Thrace. During the reign of the nefarious Emperor Antoninus, Glyceria was taken to offer sacrifices to the idol of Jupiter [Zeus]. She traced the sign of the cross on her forehead and when the Prefect Sabinus questioned her concerning her lamp, (for all of them carried lamps in their hands), Glyceria pointed to the cross on her forehead and said: "This is my lamp." As a result of her prayer lightning struck the idol and smashed it to pieces. The prefect became angry and ordered her flogged and thrown into prison. The prefect sealed the doors to the prison, determined to starve the virgin to death. However, an angel of God appeared to Glyceria and administered heavenly food to her. After a period of time, when the prefect thought that the virgin must have died from hunger, he opened the doors of the prison and was astonished when he saw her healthy, radiant and joyful. Witnessing this miracle, Laodicius, the jailer confessed Christ the Lord and was immediately beheaded. After that Glyceria was thrown into a fiery furnace but remained unharmed by the fire. Standing in the midst of the fire, and remembering the miracle of the three youths in the Babylonian furnace, Glyceria praised the Lord. Finally, she was thrown to the lions and, praying to God, this holy virgin gave up her soul to the Lord for Whom she bravely endured many tortures. She suffered honorably in the year 177 A.D. A healing oil [myrrh] emitted from her relics which healed the sick of the gravest diseases.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR ALEXANDER

Alexander was a Slav. As an eighteen year old soldier in the army of Emperor Maximilian, he refused the order of the emperor to give honor to the Roman idols and for that which he was handed over to Captain Tiberian, to either counsel Alexander to deny Christ or else torture and kill him. Since all the counseling was in vain, Tiberian took Alexander with him across Macedonia to Constantinople where he traveled for duty. In every town along the way, the young Alexander was cruelly tortured but, in every town, Christians came out before him and begged him for a blessing and they encouraged him in his mortification. Pimenia, his mother, followed after him. During the course of this travel, an angel of God appeared many times to Alexander soothing his pains and encouraging him. In one place, Carasura, the martyr performed a miracle through prayer: when thirst overcame him and the soldiers who escorted him, he brought forth a well of cold water from an arid place. On the shore of the Ergina river, Tiberian ordered the executioner to behead Alexander and to toss his body into the water. When the executioner swung at the martyr's head, he saw radiant angels of God around Alexander and became frightened and his hand dropped. Alexander asked him why his hand dropped and the executioner replied that he sees some radiant young men around him. Yearning death and union with the Lord, Alexander prayed to God to withdraw the angels from him so that the executioner would not be frightened. And thus, the executioner carried out his work in the year 298 A.D. Pimenia removed the body of her son and honorably buried him. Many healings occurred at the grave of the martyr. After death, the martyr appeared to his mother and informed her of her imminent translation to the other world.

3. THE VENERABLES JOHN, EUTHYMIUS, GEORGE AND GABRIEL OF THE MONASTERY IVIRON [MT. ATHOS]

All four venerables were the founders of the famous Iberian [Georgian] monastery on the Holy Mt. Athos. At first, St. John lived a life of asceticism in the Lavra [Monastery] of Athanasius and, after that, founded his monastery, Iviron. John died in the year 998 A.D. Euthymius and George translated the Holy Scripture into the Georgian language. Euthymius died in the year 1029 A.D. and George died in 1066 A.D. Gabriel was found worthy to receive the miracle-performing Icon of the Mother of God which arrived at the monastery by way of the sea.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT GLYCERIA

Glyceria: sacrifice to the gods!

Orders the mindless judge,

Or into the fire, to be consumed you must -

Glyceria ridicules the judge

God is one; "the gods" are demons

Who confuse your mind.

What kind of sacrifice, O mindless man?
One sacrifice, was it not on Golgotha,

Awesome sacrifice, divine and bloody,

That abolished all bloody sacrifices?

One sacrifice, after that sacrifice,

One sacrifice, the Lord seeks from us:

A pure heart; a prayerful altar,

Clean hands; works of mercy,

Faith, hope and charity [love], devout

Such a sacrifice, I endeavor to offer

To the Living God, my Creator;

God, All-holy such a sacrifice desires,

Not a corpse, bloody and dead.

REFLECTION

Concerning the power of death and the power of the Cross of Christ, St. Athanasius writes: "Whose death ever drove out demons? And whose death have the demons been afraid of as the death of Christ? Where the Name of Christ is only invoked, there, every demon is driven out. Who in such a measure tamed spiritual passions in men that the prostitutes live a chaste life and murderers do not use the sword anymore and the fearful become courageous? If not the Faith of Christ? If not the sign of the Cross? And who else has so convinced men in immortality as the Cross of Christ and the resurrection of the Body of Christ? The death of the Sinless One and the Cross of the Lover of men have brought a greater and more lasting victory than all the earthly kings with many multi-millions of armies. Which army was able to defeat a single demon? Meanwhile, only the mention of the Name of the Crucified One on the Cross peels to flight the army of demons. O, if all Christians would know what treasure they have in the Name of Christ, and what kind of weapon they have in the Cross of Christ!

CONTEMPLATION
 
To contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:

1. How the apostles, led by the Holy Spirit, travel throughout the whole world without means and without friends;

2. How they converted the rich and the poor to the Faith of Christ by their word, life and miracles alone.

HOMILY
 
About how God uses the unbelievers in order to punish the believers

"Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant" (Jeremiah 25:9).

Is not this a difficult saying? Who can be fed by it? The pagan king, the idolatrous king, the Lord called him His servant. If the servant of God is one who knows the True God and who adheres to the law of God, how then can one be a servant of God who does not know the True God and who does not adhere to the law of God? Truly, the true servant of God is he who knows the True God and who keeps the law of God but when he, to whom God has given the knowledge about Himself and His law, perverts knowing into unknowing and law into lawlessness, then God takes as His servant that ignorant one so as to punish the apostates. For, an apostate from God is worse than a pagan and an apostate from the law of God is lower than an idolater by birth.

Therefore, when Israel, as the ancient Church of God, alienated itself from God and the law of God, God chose Nebuchadnezzar for His servant to punish Israel, the Apostate.

Therefore, when the Christian peoples in Asia and Africa through numerous heresies alienated themselves from God, God took as His servant the Arabs to punish Christians in order to bring them to their senses.

And when the Christian peoples in the Balkans alienated themselves from God and God's law, God invited the Turks as His servants to punish the apostates that by punishment to bring them to their senses.

Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the faithful consciously and willingly turn away from God, so the unbelievers unconsciously and unwillingly become servants of God; the whip of God.

But God takes the unbelievers only temporarily in His service against the believers. For the land of Nebuchadnezzar, the same Lord says, He will visit it for its lawlessness and "make it perpetual desolations" (Jeremiah 25:12), then will a servant against a servant be found? For God did not take the Babylonians for a servant because of their goodness and faith, rather because of Israel's wickedness and unbelief.

O Righteous Lord, help us by Your Spirit Most-high, to always adhere to You, the One, True God and Your acon saving law.
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