Prologue of Ohrid

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May 19

1. THE HOLY PRIESTLY-MARTYR PATRICK [PATRICIOS], BISHOP OF BRUSSA ALONG WITH THREE PRESBYTERS: ACACIUS, MENANDER AND POLYENUS

They suffered for the Faith of Christ during the reign of Julian the Apostate in Asian Brussa. Junius, the imperial deputy, brought these saints to a hot spring and asked Patrick: "Who created these curative waters if not our gods Aesculapius and others whom we worship?" St. Patrick replied: "Your gods are demons and these waters, as everything else, were created by Christ the Lord, our God." Then the deputy asked: "And will your Christ save you if I toss you into this boiling water?" The saint replied: "If He wants. He is able to preserve me whole and unharmed, even though I desire that in these waters I become separated from this temporary life to live with Christ eternally; but let His Holy will be done on me, without which not even a hair does not fall from the head of men!" Hearing this, the deputy ordered that Patrick be tossed into the boiling water. Drops of boiling water splashed on all sides and bitterly scalded many of those present but the saint of God, on whose lips were continually in prayer, remained unharmed as though he were standing in cold water. Seeing this, the deputy became enraged out of embarrassment and ordered Patrick and his remaining three presbyters be beheaded with an ax. Then the innocent followers of Christ recited their prayers and placed their heads under the ax of the executioner. When they were beheaded, their joyful souls ascended into the illuminating kingdom of Christ to reign forever.

2. SAINT JOHN, BISHOP OF THE GOTHS

John was a bishop in Georgia but when the Kahn of the Tartars in Georgia began to torture Christians, he left for four years to live among the Goths in Bessarabia. The diocese of the Goths was established during the reign of Constantine the Great. Learning of the death of the Kahn, John returned to his duties in Georgia and guided his flock zealously and devoutly. Before his death, he said: "In about forty days, I go to be judged with the Kahn," i.e., through death, John goes to the throne of God. And so it happened, on the fortieth day he died and went to the Lord. He died peacefully in the eighth century.

3. THE HOLY PRINCE JOHN [IVAN] VOLOGDA

John was a miracle-worker, God-fearing and virtuous from his youth. He was cast into prison by his uncle, Prince John [Ivan] Vasilevitch, along with his brother Dimitri where they remained for thirty-two years. Before his death, John was tonsured a monk and received the name Ignatius.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE SAINTLY PRINCES IVAN [JOHN] AND DIMITRI OF VOLOGDA

In the dark dungeon, Prince Ivan languishes

With his brother Dimitri, and his brother he counsels:

O brother, sorrow not; with sorrow, yourself do not weary,

A dungeon is to the faithful, what a royal court is,

Nor, about our uncle, speak ill,

That, without fault, into dungeon he cast us.

Without God's will, is it possible that it could be

In the darkness to enslave two of God's creatures?

If only about himself, our uncle cares,

About us, to save our souls, God cares.

The unreasonable, only his benefit seeks,

Even the despised, God eases with gifts.

Of the dungeon, the merciful God is not afraid -

Prefers to be with captives, than with the proud to stand.

Do not be angry my brother, uncle, do not reproach,

Between us, only God the truth knows.

The uncle by one path, and us with another path saves.

Worship God, to God be glory!

REFLECTION

The great hierarchs, the pillars of the Orthodox Church, knew how to blend meekness and resoluteness into their character. Meekness toward the righteous and penitents and resoluteness toward the unrepentant criminals. One Sunday, following the Divine Liturgy, the Tsar Ivan the Terrible approached Metropolitan Philip to receive the metropolitan's blessing. The metropolitan pretended not to see the Tsar and gazed at the icon of the Savior. The Tsar's adjutant approached the metropolitan and said to him: "Your Eminence, the Ruler is before you, bless him." The metropolitan looked at the Tsar and said: "O Tsar, fear the judgment of God. Here, we offer up the Unbloody Sacrifice to God and outside the sanctuary, the blood of Christians is being spilled. How many innocent suffer? You are lofty on the throne but, nevertheless, you are a man." The enraged Tsar reminded the metropolitan to keep silent, but the metropolitan said to him: "Where is my faith, if I remain silent?" When the Tsar began to threaten the metropolitan he quietly replied: "I am a visitor and guest on earth and am ready to suffer for the truth!" After a period of time, the evil Tsar strangled the metropolitan but did not strangle the saint.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate God the Holy Spirit as the Inspirer of wisdom and truth:

1. How He inspired with wisdom and truth the prophets, evangelists and apostles who wrote the Holy Scriptures by His inspiration and guidance;

2. How He inspired with wisdom and truth the Holy Fathers who interpreted Holy Scriptures by His inspiration and guidance.

HOMILY

About the holy men of God

"Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).

This is witnessed by the Apostle Peter who himself was a holy man of God, a rock of faith and a knight of the Cross. As a holy man of God he, by his own personal experience, explains how the holy men of God spoke and what they said and he says: "They spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." However, they did not speak according to their own reasoning, nor according to their own memory, nor according to their own speculation, nor according to their own eloquence, but rather they spoke from the Spirit and according to the Holy Spirit. The wisdom of God flowed through them and the truth of God was revealed through them. Holy Scripture was not written with "the false pen of the scribes" (Jeremiah 8:8), but was written by the servants and the chosen ones of the Holy Spirit of God. Neither was Holy Scripture written by men whose writing was a vocation, but rather it was written by the saints of God, directed and compelled by the Spirit of God. Often, not even wanting and, at times even protesting, they had to write as the Holy Prophet Jeremiah witnesses saying: "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His Name. But His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9).

O my brethren, Sacred Scripture is not of men but of God; it is not of the earth but rather from heaven; neither is it from the body but from the Spirit; yes, from the Holy Spirit of God. Inspired by the wisdom and truth of the Holy Spirit, these holy men of God wrote: Prophets, Evangelists, Apostles, Fathers, Teachers, Hierarchs and Shepherds.

O God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Truth, inspire us by Your Life-creating breath, that we may recognize Wisdom and Truth and by Your help to fulfill them.

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