Prologue of Ohrid


June 11


Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Great Apostles. In all probability, it appears that Bartholomew and Nathaniel are one and the same person. Together with the Apostle Philip and Philip's sister, the virgin Mariamna--and for a time with St. John the Theologian--Bartholomew preached the Gospel first throughout Asia, then in India and finally in Armenia, where he died a martyr's death. In Hierapolis, these holy apostles, by prayer, caused the death of a large serpent that the heathens kept in their temple and worshipped. In this same city, by prayer, they restored sight to Stachius, who had been blind for forty years. It was here that a mob rose up against them and crucified Philip and Bartholomew. (Bartholomew was crucified upside down). At this time, there occurred an earthquake in which the evil judges and many people perished. Feeling that this was a punishment from God, many ran to remove the apostles from the crosses, but Philip was already dead, although Bartholomew was still alive. After this, Bartholomew went to India, where he preached and translated the Gospel of St. Matthew into the Indian language. Then he entered Armenia, where he cured the king's daughter of insanity. But the envious brother of King Astyages seized God's apostle, crucified him on a cross, skinned him, and finally beheaded him in Armenian Albanopolis [Derbend]. Christians honorably buried his body in a lead coffin. Because many miracles occurred over his relics, the pagans took the coffin and cast it into the sea. But the water carried the coffin to the Island of Lipara, where Bishop Agathon, through a revelation in a dream, met it and buried it in the church. St. Bartholomew, attired in a white garment, appeared in church to the Venerable Joseph the Hymnographer and blessed him with the Gospel, that he might be able to sing spiritual hymns, saying: "Let heavenly waters of wisdom flow from your tongue!" He also appeared to Emperor Anastasius (491-518 A.D.) and told him that he would protect the newly established town of Dara. Later, the relics of this great apostle were translated to Benevento and then to Rome. Great and awesome miracles have occurred over these relics.


Barnabas was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was born in Cyprus of wealthy parents from the tribe of Levi, and studied together with Saul under Gamaliel. At first he was called Joseph, but the apostles called him Barnabas, "son of consolation," because he was exceptionally capable of comforting the souls of the people. After Saul's conversion, Barnabas was the first to introduce Saul to the apostles; Barnabas later preached the Gospel with Paul [Saul] and Mark in Antioch and in other places. In all probability, he was the first to preach in Rome and Milan. He suffered on the island of Cyprus at the hands of the Jews, and he was buried by Mark beyond the western gate of the town of Salamis. On his chest there was placed a copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew which he had copied with his own hand. His grave remained unknown for several hundred years, but since many received healing from sickness at this place, it was called: "the place of healing." In the time of Emperor Zeno and the Chalcedon Council [451 A.D.], the apostle appeared in a dream to Archbishop Anthemius of Cyprus on three successive nights and revealed to him the location of Barnabas' grave. This appearance of the apostle occurred exactly at the time when Peter, the power-hungry Patriarch of Antioch, was seeking to bring the Church in Cyprus under the jurisdiction of the throne of Antioch. After the appearance and discovery of the miraculous relics of the Holy Apostle Barnabas, it was established that the Church in Cyprus, as an Apostolic Church, should always be independent. Thus the autocephaly of the Church in Cyprus was established.


The miracle consists of this: One night a monk was reading the Canon to the Mother of God and was singing "More honorable than the Cherubim" in his cell in the Monastery of the Pantocrator, now called "Axion Estin" after the icon. His elder had gone to Karyes. Suddenly a man appeared in church and began to sing: "It is truly Meet." Until then that hymn had been unknown in the Church. Upon hearing this hymn, the monk became enraptured, as much by its contents as by the beautiful heavenly singing. "Among us, we sing it in this manner," said the stranger to the monk. The monk wanted to have this hymn written down, and brought a stone tablet on which the stranger wrote down the hymn with his finger as though upon wax. Suddenly he vanished. This stranger was the Archangel Gabriel. The tablet was taken to Constantinople, and the hymn has endured in the Church even to this day.



A monk at night, alone in church

With fervent prayer dispelled the darkness from his soul

All at once another monk arrived--about him, nothing unusual--

And, like an experienced chanter, began to sing.

Then the first monk began: "More Honorable ..."

Glorifying the Mother of God, the Mother most glorious.

To him, the miraculous guest spoke about this hymn of praise:

"Among us," said he: "this hymn we sing differently.

We do not begin as you do,

But rather with 'It is truly Meet,' venerable father!"

And the entire hymn "It Is Truly Meet" he recited.

The first monk tried not to miss a word.

"Now I breathe easier, O my virtuous brother.

Your hymn, allow me to copy!"

But no paper or even a pencil had he:

The church is a place for prayer not for writing!

Then the midnight guest over the church made the sign of the Cross,

And on a stone with his finger he began to write.

As on soft wax, on the stone he wrote;

At this man the monk was amazed.

To the unusual guest, the monk asked: "Who are you?"

"My name is Gabriel. For you that should be enough."

And straightway he disappeared. With great fear the monk

Recognized the Archangel under the monastic robe.

That which he wrote no one erased.

With heavenly fragrance the church was filled.


A true friend prays to God for his friend. A true friend is concerned for the salvation of the soul of his friend. To dissuade a friend from false paths and to direct him on the path of truth--that is precious friendship. The saints of God are the greatest friends of mankind. Two youths, Barnabas and Paul, were friends while they were together attending the school of Gamaliel. When Barnabas became a Christian, he persistently and tearfully prayed to God that He would also enlighten Paul's mind  and turn his heart in order that he might become a Christian. Barnabas often spoke to Paul about Christ the Lord, but Paul ridiculed him and considered him as one led astray. However, the Good Lord did not leave the prayers of Barnabas without fruit. The Good Lord appeared to Paul and turned him from the path of falsehood to the path of truth. The converted Paul then fell before the feet of his friend and cried out: "O Barnabas, teacher of truth, I am now convinced that everything you said to me about Christ is the truth!" Barnabas wept with joy and embraced his friend. The friend saved the soul of his friend by his fervent prayer. If Barnabas had succeeded in establishing Paul as emperor of Rome, he would have done less for him than he did in bringing him to the truth by prayer.


To contemplate the miraculous healing of the blind and dumb man: Then was brought to Him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb: and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw (St. Matthew 12:22):

1. How the Lord healed the man who was blind and dumb;

2. How the Lord can instantly heal even my soul, blind and dumb because of my remoteness from Christ, only if I bring my soul to Him.


About the master and the slave

"He who spares his rod hates his son but he who loves him takes care to chastise him" (Proverbs 13:24).

God's love for men transcends the love of men for men as the heaven transcends the earth, and yet the man-loving God chastises men. God chastises men, not in order to destroy them, but to correct and save them. O blessed chastisement which emanates from love! For whom the Lord loves, He chastises; and He scourges every son whom He receives (Hebrews 12:6). With what does God chastise? With a rod! What kind of rod? The rod of sickness, the rod of misfortune, the rod of loss, the rod of hunger, the rod of crop failure, the rod of drought, the rod of floods, the rod of the death of relatives and friends, the rod of evil demons when He permits them authority over man. These are the rods of God by which God chastises His children in order that He may correct them, bring them back to their senses, enlighten them, and save them.

Why should the parent not chastise his children if he truly loves them? The rod is a tool of great love and concern. If a child is not sensitive to spiritual chastisement, he is sensitive to the rod. The more insensitive a child is to the spirit and conscience, the more sensitive he is to the body. The body was not given to man in order that it have meaning by itself; rather, the body is to be a servant of the spirit, to help the spirit and to benefit the spirit. If corporal punishment awakens the spirit in man, and the spirit awakens the conscience, then the body has completely fulfilled its duty toward the spirit, its master. If the master [spirit] is asleep, then the servants are struck in order to arouse the master [the spirit]. If the servants awaken their master in the hour of danger, they will not lament the blows that they have received, for they have saved their master. And the awakened and saved master will know how to repay his servants. Hence, in truth, He who spares his rod hates his son. Whosoever spares the servant, betrays the master.

O All-wise Lord, open the hearts of parents that they may receive this holy instruction of Yours.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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