Prologue of Ohrid

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May 15

1. THE VENERABLE PACHOMIUS THE GREAT

Pachomius was born in Egypt and, in his youth, was a pagan. As a soldier, he fought in battle with Emperor Constantine against Maxentius. Following that, he learned of the One God from Christians and witnessing their devout life, Pachomius became baptized and withdrew to the Tabennisi wilderness, to the famous ascetic Palamon with whom he studied the ascetical life for ten years. Then, an angel appeared to him in the habit of a Schema [The Great Angelic Habit of a Monk] over the place called Tabennisiot and gave him a board upon which was written the Monastic Rule [Constitution] for the Cenobitic Life, ordering him to establish such a monastery in that place, prophesying to him that in this monastery many monks will come for the sake of salvation of souls. Heeding the angel of God, Pachomius began to build many cells even though at that place there was not anyone except his brother John and himself. When his brother reproached him for building unnecessary cells, Pachomius simply said to him that he is following the command of God without regard as to who will come to live there and when. But soon, many men gathered at that place moved by the Spirit of God, and began to live a life of asceticism according to the Rule of Pachomius, which he received from the angel. When the number of monks increased, Pachomius gradually established six more monasteries. The number of his disciples amounted to about seven thousand. St. Anthony is considered to be the founder of the hermitical life but St. Pachomius as founder of the monastic cenobitic way of life. The humility, love of labor and abstinence of this holy father was and remains a rare example for the imitation of the vast number of monks. St. Pachomius worked numerous miracles but endured numerous temptations from demons as well as men. He served men as a father or a brother. He inspired many to follow the path to salvation and directed many on the path to truth. He was and remains a great light of the Church and a great witness to the truth and justice of Christ. He died peacefully in the year 348 A.D. in the seventy-fourth year of his earthly life. The Church has included many of his disciples in the ranks of the saints, such as: Theodore, Job, Paphnutius, Pecusius, Athenodorus, Eponymus, Sorus, Psoi, Dionysius, Psentaesis and others.

2. SAINT ACHILLEUS, BISHOP OF LARISSA

Achilleus, this great hierarch and miracle-worker, was born in Cappadocia. He participated in the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325 A.D.] at which he shamed the heretics and, by his learning as well as by his sanctity, he commanded great astonishment. Taking a rock, St. Achilleus shouted to the Arians: "If Christ is a creation of God, as you say, then say: `let oil flow from this rock.' " The heretics remained silent and were amazed at such a request from St. Achilleus. Then, again the saint said: "And if the Son of God is equal to the Father, as we believe, let oil flow from this rock." And, indeed oil did flow to the amazement of all. St. Achilleus died peacefully in Larissa in the year 330 A.D. When the Macedonian King Samuel conquered Thessaly he translated the relics of Achilleus to Prespa to an island in a lake which was called and even today is still called Achilleus or Ailus.

3. THE VENERABLE SILVANUS

At first, Silvanus was a comedian; impersonating all and everyone. After that,inflamed with the love of Christ, he became a disciple of St. Pachomius. "I am ready to give my life," St. Silvanus would say "only to receive forgiveness of my sins."

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
VENERABLE PACHOMIUS THE GREAT

With the Spirit of God, Pachomius burns,

With the angels, Pachomius speaks.

Around him, the monks swarm

All like candles, they stand before God.

One day, the knocker sounded,

The sister of the Abba, the Abba to see

Many years she saw him not,

Let him appear; why does he from her, hide himself?

The doorman to Abba, the message brings.

Abba, to him: greetings, take to her

I, my sister, every good fortune wish you

But to come to see you, I will not,

I, to the world, did bid farewell once

And, in the world, everything I renounced.

My sister, you renounce also,

Hurry sister, yourself, dedicate to God,

Except the grave, what can the world to you give?

With life, Christ will wed you.

Illusionary dreams, worldly pleasures are

Asleep with these dreams, one becomes obese.

But awakened, hungry he feels

And by a long dream, adversarily stolen,

As a hungry lion, he then roars for food,

For true bread, cry out and shout.

Christ hears all who call upon Him

And living bread, to the hungry, He gives.

That is real - the others are daydreams,

Outside Christ, there is no hoping.

The sister heard and began to weep,

The brother's counsel, she quickly obeyed.

REFLECTION

When a tyrant commits violence against the righteous out of greed, then the violence brings about one benefit and one detriment, i.e., a detriment to the tyrant and a benefit to the one who violently suffered. Boris Godunov murdered Dimitri, the eight-year old crown prince, in order to gain control of the throne without competition. The imperial days of Boris ended quickly and the tyrant was given over to decay and accursedness and Dimitri was proclaimed a saint. After fifteen years of lying in the grave, the body of Dimitri was exhumed and found to be uncorrupt and miracle-working. There were forty-five miraculous healings which occurred over his body. Whose, therefore, is the detriment and whose is the benefit from tyranny? If the tyrant knew, that by his tyranny, he would help his opponent to be included among the saints and that he would prepare defeat and damnation for himself, he would desist from planned violence. But a crooked-thought is the forerunner and companion of tyranny.

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

1. How, by the Holy Spirit, the apostles receive the mystical visions of the other world;

2. How, by the Holy Spirit, the apostles perceive the mysteries in the hearts of men.

HOMILY
 
About the prophesied and actual destruction of the idols of Egypt

"And the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall burn with fire" (Jeremiah 43:13).

Who will burn them? Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon my servant, said the Lord. This prophecy came true. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt and he destroyed the houses of the false gods by fire; the idols of the Egyptians. He burned them but he did not destroy them forever. For after that came the destruction of Babylon, again according to the prophecy of the holy Prophet Jeremiah and Babylon became and, even until today, remains "heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant" (Jeremiah 51:37). But, in a tradition which was recorded by St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, there remained the other prophecy of Jeremiah about the final destruction of the idols of Egypt: "All the idols will fall," says this prophecy, "and all that is made by hand will be destroyed at the time when the Virgin Mother comes here with the young Child born in a cave and placed in a manger." And this prophecy was preserved by the pagan priests themselves who, from the time of Jeremiah, introduced the custom of depicting the Virgin as she reclines on a bed and her young Child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

Nebuchadnezzar, the servant by God's permission, could only have mowed evil but not pluck it out by the roots. But mowed evil, like mowed grass, grows again. When the Lord came to earth, He plucked out evil by the roots. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, burned the temples and the idols but the temples were also rebuilt and new idols were made for they were not plucked out from the souls of men. When the Lord came and began His reign in the souls of the Egyptians, the temples and idols fell forever. So it is the same with the disobedient Jews who waged battle against God. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, had taken them into bondage for seventy years and the offended Lord scattered them throughout the entire world where many of them find themselves in dispersion today even after two-thousand years. This scattering of the Jewish people throughout the entire world was clearly prophesied by Jeremiah. And so, time justified the prophet of God in all his words.

O All-seeing Lord, grant us that we adhere to the words of Your true prophet.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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