Prologue of Ohrid


June 10


Because of Timothy's great spiritual purity, God granted him the gift of working miracles, and he cured all diseases and afflictions of the people. During the reign of the wicked Emperor Julian, who denied Christ, Saint Timothy was cast into prison. Even in prison the faithful visited him in order to listen to the wise instruction of their arch-pastor. Learning of this, Julian ordered the executioner to behead Timothy in prison, in the year 362 A.D. His soul departed into Paradise, while his relics have remained miracle-working, to help the people and to manifest the power of God.


Both Alexander and Antonina were from Alexandria. Antonina was an honorable virgin and Alexander, an imperial soldier. They were both Christians. Antonina was first brought to trial and tortured. When they cast her into prison, Alexander, by the command of an angel of God, went to the prison (even though until then he had not know Antonina), covered her with his military mantel and told her to lower her head and so pass through the guards in front of the gates. And so the virgin escaped, and the soldier Alexander remained in prison. Then they brought Alexander before the judge and tortured him for the name of Christ. Hearing of this, Antonina herself appeared before the judge, who subjected both of them to various tortures. He severed their hands, flogged their naked bodies, burned their wounds with candles, and finally threw them into a fire which was burning in a pit, and then covered them with earth. They suffered honorably for the sake of the love of Christ and took up their habitation in the mansions of the Heavenly King on May 3, 313 A.D. Festus, the evil judge, became dumb at the moment of the death of the martyrs, and an evil spirit seized him, tormented him for seven days, and finally killed him.


Bassian was born a pagan in Syracuse of prominent and wealthy pagan parents. He was educated in philosophy in Rome. By his earnest desire, he was baptized by the pious Elder Gordianus. This offended his parents; in order to escape their wrath, and in accordance with the command of Saint John the Theologian, who had appeared to him, Bassian traveled to Ravenna and visited Bishop Ursus, his kinsman. At the advice of the bishop, Bassian took up residence in the Church of the Holy Martyr Apollinarius outside the city. There he struggled long in labor, fasting and prayer. When the bishop of the city of Lodi in Liguria died, Bassian was elected, according to a revelation in a dream, even though he did not desire it. He was consecrated bishop by Ambrose of Milan and Ursus of Ravenna. Bassian possessed a great gift of healing and could also resurrect the dead. Bassian was present at St. Ambrose's final moments and heard from his mouth how he saw the Lord Jesus Christ. Bassian lived in labor and asceticism to an old age, and in the ninetieth year of his life he died and was translated into the Kingdom of God in about the year 409 A.D. Bassian's holy relics remained miracle-working, to witness to the power of God and the greatness of God's saints.



Holy Bassian loved the Lord;

Holy Bassian to the Lord prayed.

Upon him, the merciful Lord bestowed grace:

What all men do, Bassian perceived,

How the demons dance an evil dance,

And how, men to evil, they incite.

Once Bassian through the town walked

And saw a merchant as he falsely weighed.

On the scale stood a devil black,

Wrongly weighing and falsely counting.

The merchant was happy to cheat everyone

And with a few goods to make great profit!

Holy Bassian to the market walked

And to the merchant cried out: "Open your eyes!

In easy gain, do not rejoice!

Open your eyes! Behold your partner!"

With that the merchant's eyes were opened;

He saw the devil and fell backward,

Filled with fear, filled with trembling.

All gain he saw for him was cursed,

And began to sob bitterly as he before the saint knelt.

To Bassian he said: "Pray for me."

"Repent, Repent!" Bassian instructed him,

"That your soul eternally not suffer."

From his accomplice, the devil, money he had received,

But the devil his soul had sought in return.


It is not the same to eat your meal with a blessing and to eat it without a blessing. Every meal is God's table, which God Himself has set for us. This is why it is necessary to thank God as our Host and beg His blessings. Food that has been blessed is more tasty and more satisfying, while unblessed food is unpalatable, unsatisfying and unhealthy. On one occasion, Emperor Theodosius the Younger went for a walk in the surroundings of Constantinople and, seeing the hut of a monk, stopped and visited. The elder asked the emperor whether he would like something to eat? "I would," answered the emperor. The elder brought bread, oil, salt and water before the emperor. The emperor ate and drank and then asked the monk: "Do you know who I am?" "God knows who you are," replied the monk. "I am Emperor Theodosius." The monk bowed down before the emperor silently. The emperor said to him: "I am an emperor and the son of an emperor, but, believe me, never in my life have I eaten such tasty food as I have today with you." "And do you know why?" asked the elder. "Because," he continued, "we monks always prepare our food with prayer and blessing, and therefore bitter food is transformed for us into tasty food.  With you, however, food is prepared with much labor, but you do not seek a blessing (from God), and because of that even tasty food becomes tasteless."


To contemplate the miraculous healing of the man with a withered hand: A man with a withered hand happened to be there and they put this question to Jesus, hoping to bring an accusation against him: "Is it lawful to work a cure on the Sabbath?" (St. Matthew 12:10):

1. How the Lord said to the man with the withered hand: Stretch forth your hand! And he stretched it forth;

2. How my hands are also withered when I do not give charity. The Lord continually speaks to me: Stretch forth your hand!


About how that of which he is afraid befalls the sinner

"The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him; but the desire of the righteous shall be granted" (Proverbs 10:24).

The wicked one fears imminent death, the thief fears the burglar, the murderer fears the sword, the proud one fears shame, the abductor fears hunger, the glutton fears sickness, and the slanderer fears the judgment of truth. That which the wicked one fears is what will befall him.

The righteous one desires a pure conscience, good thoughts, peace, charity, love, truth, justice and meekness. God gives these to him even while he is here on earth. The righteous one desires the Kingdom of God, Paradise, the company of the angels and saints, and to reflect upon the face of God in life eternal. God gives all these to him when He calls him to Himself.

Oh, how just is the Lord toward the wicked one and how beneficent He is toward the righteous one! That which the wicked one fears, the Lord permits to befall him; and that which the righteous one fears, the Lord removes from him. Of what is the righteous one afraid? Only sin. God removes sin from the righteous one and directs his feet on the path to virtue; and God protects the righteous one from evil spirits, the sowers of sin, and, by His grace, waters the seeds of virtues in his heart.

O All-seeing Lord, protect us from the paths of the wicked, from the gain of the wicked, and from the fear of the wicked! Help our wavering hearts to become steadfast in the desire only for that which is pleasing to You. For that which is pleasing to You will, in the end, conquer and reign, and everything else will be given over to decay and forgetfulness.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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