Prologue of Ohrid


May 28


In his youth, he renounced the world and withdrew to a life of monastic asceticism. Shining like the sun with virtues, he was noticed by the elders of the Church and was elevated to the episcopal throne of Chalcedon. As a bishop, he was especially merciful toward the less fortunate, and he greatly concerned himself with the welfare of orphans, widows and the poor. When the evil Leo the Armenian rose up against the icons, Nicetas courageously stood up in their defense, denouncing the emperor and explaining their meaning. Consequently, he endured great humiliation, calumny and imprisonment. He was finally banished into exile for his confession of Faith, and in labors and sufferings presented himself to the Lord to receive a wreath of glory in the Kingdom of God.


Heliconis was born in Thessalonica and was educated in Christian piety. During the reign of Gordian and Philip, she moved to Corinth where she openly denounced all those who offered sacrifices to the idols. When Perinus the mayor urged her to offer a sacrifice to the idol Aesculapius, this martyr of Christ said to him: "Hear me, I am a handmaiden of Christ, and I do not know who Aesculapius is. Do with me what you will." For this, she was brought to trial and endured terrible tortures. She was cast into fire, but a great quantity of blood poured from her body, extinguishing the fire, and she remained alive. She was thrown to lions, but the lions did not touch her, fawning around her instead. Admitted into the temple allegedly to offer sacrifices to the idols, she destroyed the idols, and by this she embittered the torturer even more. As she lay wounded in prison, the Lord Himself appeared to her with the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Lord healed her wounds, comforting and strengthening her. Afterward she was led to the scaffold to be beheaded. Before her beheading, Heliconis raised her arms high and prayed that God receive her and unite her with His lambs in the heavenly sheepfold. When she completed her prayer, a voice was heard from heaven: "Come daughter, a crown and a throne are prepared for you!" Finally, she was beheaded and received the wreath of glory from the Lord, for Whom, out of love, she sacrificed herself as an innocent and pure lamb.


As a hierarch, he governed the flock of Christ for twenty-six years with great love and compassion. When he died and as his body was being placed in church, some of those who were present witnessed him rise from the coffin into the air above the church and bless the people and the town from the heights. Then his body returned to his coffin. Many other miracles occurred at his grave. He presented himself to the Lord on May 28, 1288 A.D.


Heliconis, the courageous martyr,

Pure of soul, most beautiful of countenance,

In Corinth, the city of idols

Proclaimed the word about the only God:

"Corinthians, by darkness deceived,

In demonic bonds, tied,

You worship all things

But not the One God Most High!

God is One, the idols are many;

God is One, the devils are many.

The One God is the Creator, the Omnipotent;

Of all creation, He is the good Provider.

He created all, He sustains all;

To every living thing He gave the breath of life.

He moves everything with power and wisdom;

He caresses all with divine mercy.

He is the Lord of earth and heaven;

Him only should we worship.

Corinthians, wealthy and glorious,

Why, in faith, are you so lacking?"


Only a proud man is always prepared to equate Christ with other great men. However, it is obvious at first glance that great men are one thing and the Lord Christ another, just as creation is one thing and the Creator is another. Christ is not only great but He is the Creator and Source and Inspirer of everything truly great in the history of mankind. While in exile and misery on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon, a man of transient greatness, uttered these words: "Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal, Louis XIV, with all their genius, are nothing. They have conquered the world and were unable to gain one friend. And behold, Christ calls and instantly entire generations are united in a bond closer and stronger than the bond of blood. Christ ignites the fire of love which consumes all egoism and surpasses any kind of love whatever."


To contemplate the grace of God the Holy Spirit in the Mystery [Sacrament] of Holy Matrimony:

1. How grace, during marriage, lawfully sanctifies the physical bond of two human beings for the sake of the procreation of children;

2. How it unites, illumines and strengthens, through love, the union of two souls: husband and wife.


About the power of the Mystery [Sacrament] of Matrimony

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cling to his wife and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

It is God's will that the human race multiply. The means by which this is accomplished have been devised by God's artistry. It is God's mystery how man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife. To leave your parents does not mean to abandon your parents but rather to become parents yourself. When children become parents, they are no longer only children, they are also companions of their parents. When wedded sons learn of the mystery and pain of childbirth, they then respect their parents even more. The marital union can never free a man from having respect and obedience toward his parents. The original commandment of God to honor one's parents must be fulfilled. But, according to the natural cycle of things, a man leaves his parents and becomes a parent himself; he becomes a founder of a new future while his parents depart, having completed their role in the world. However, the "leaving" of one's parents does not consist in this alone. By a certain incomprehensible mystery, man clings to his wife and detaches himself from his parents. St. Theodoretus writes: "Christ Himself left his Father on high and united Himself to the Church."

My brethren, matrimony is a great and miraculous mystery, one of the greatest mysteries of God's plan. A pure and honorable marriage overflows with sublimity. A pure and honorable marriage, in the fear of God, is a vessel of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Whoever disdains marriage disdains the Spirit of God. Whoever defiles marriage with impurity blasphemes against the Spirit of God. Whoever abstains from marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of God must, in a different manner, prepare himself as a vessel of the Holy Spirit and must make himself fruitful in the spiritual realm in order not to be cut down as the barren fig tree.

O God, Holy Spirit Almighty, assist those who are married, that in purity, fear and mutual love they may be as the Church of God, in which You joyfully abide and govern all things for good.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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