Prologue of Ohrid

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June 13

1. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR AQUILINA

Aquilina was born in the Palestinian town of Byblus of honorable Christian parents. At age seven, little Aquilina was already completely versed in the true Christian life and at age ten she was so filled with divine understanding and the grace of the Holy Spirit that she, with great power and zealousness, preached Christ to her female companions. When Diocletian's persecution began, someone accused Aquilina before Volusian, the imperial deputy, who was more like a beast than a man. At first, Volusian ordered that Aquilina be flogged and after that, a red hot rod be pierced through her ears and brain. Until the last moment, the virgin Aquilina freely and openly confessed Christ the Lord and when her brain and blood began to flow from her head, she fell as though dead. The deputy, thinking Aquilina was indeed dead, ordered her body to be carried outside the city and thrown upon a dung heap for the dogs to consume. But, an angel of God appeared to her at night and said to her: "Arise, and be whole!" And the virgin arose and was whole and for a long time she offered up praise of thanksgiving to God imploring Him not to deprive her to fulfill her martyr's mortification. A voice from heaven was heard: "Go, it will be to you as you pray," and Aquilina set out for the town. The gates of the town opened on their own accord before her and she entered like a spirit into the palace of the deputy and appeared before his bed. The deputy was seized with unspeakable fear, seeing the virgin alive whom he thought was dead. The following day, according to his command, the executioners led Aquilina out to behead her. Before her beheading, the virgin Aquilina prayed to God on her knees and gave up her soul. The executioner beheaded her lifeless head. Her relics gave healing to many of the sick. Aquilina was twelve years old when she suffered for the Lord: suffered and crowned with the martyr's wreath in the year 293 A.D.

2. SAINT TRIPHYLLIUS, BISHOP OF LEUCOSIA [NICOSIA] IN CYPRUS

Triphyllius was a disciple of St. Spiridon and later his worker on the island of Cyprus. He was a merciful man, pure in thought and chaste throughout his life, "a living fountain of tears" and a great ascetic. He governed Christ's flock well and dying, received the wreath among the great hierarchs in the heavens. He died peacefully in the year 370 A.D.

3. SAINT ANNA AND HER SON JOHN

Taken as an orphan into the home of a nobleman and cared for as an adopted daughter, Anna was raised and educated in that home. As a worthy maiden, this nobleman wed her to his son. When the elder nobleman died, the relatives pressed his son to release his wife because of her lowly birth and to marry another whom, according to origin and wealth, would be more suitable for him. The nobleman's son feared God and did not want to do this. Seeing her husband in conflict with his relatives, Anna secretly left him and fled to a distant island where there was not a living soul. Arriving at this island pregnant and soon to bear a child, Anna lived a life of asceticism for thirty years in fasting and prayer. Then, according to God's Providence, a hieromonk landed on this island, baptized her son and gave him the name of John. This holy soul Anna lived a life of asceticism in the fifth century and died peacefully.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT TRIPHYLLIUS
 
Saint Triphyllius while yet a deacon was he,
 
The Psalter and the Gospels he read;
 
And with a sweet voice, to the people he humbly read,
 
And Spiridon holy, attentively listened.
 
Once when in church, crowded with people
 
The chapter on the Paralytic he beautifully read,
 
How the gentle Lord, the sick one saw,
 
"Take up your pallet," said He and the sick one departed.
 
Triphyllius, the word pallet, with the word "lair" substituted,
 
Then, said Spiridon: "My son, come to me!"
 
How, my dear deacon, do you change words,
 
The word which our gentle Savior uttered?
 
The word pallet from His mouth came
 
And "lair" you said, His word you omitted!
 
My son, this is a Book from on High inspired,
 
Therefore, everything as it is written in it, let us read.
 
Full of power, the Gospel words are
 
And weak and decayed human words are.
 
The pallet of man is not the same as a "beastly lair,"
 
Therefore, my son, say God forgive me!
 
Triphyllius the deacon, his error realized,
 
Bitterly repented and was much ashamed.
 
Triphyllius blessed, because of his spiritual father
 
Saint Spiridon, glorious miracle-worker.
 
REFLECTION

Meekness and kindness adorned our saints and it gave them strength and understanding not to return evil for evil. When Emperor Constantius, the son of the Emperor Constantine the Great, became ill in Antioch he summoned St. Spiridon to offer prayers for him. St. Spiridon, in the company of Triphyllius his deacon, departed Cyprus and arrived at Antioch before the imperial palace. Spiridon was clad in poor clothing. He wore a simple woven cap on his head, in his hand a staff from a palm tree and draped over his chest he bore an earthen vessel which contained oil that was taken from in front of the Honorable Cross (which at that time was the custom of Christians in Jerusalem to carry). So dressed and in addition to that, exhausted by fasting and prayer and the long journey, in no way did the saint reflect his rank and dignity. When he wished to step foot into the imperial palace, one of the emperor's servants, thinking him to be an ordinary beggar, struck him with his fist on the cheek. The meek and kind saint turned the other cheek to him. When, with great difficulty, he succeeded to reach the emperor, Spiridon touched the head of the emperor and the emperor recovered.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous walking of the Lord on water as on dry land:

"And when the apostles saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying: 'It is a spirit and they cried out in fear' " (St. Matthew 14:25):

1. How the boat with the disciples was in trouble on the waves of the sea at night and how the Lord, seeing this, hastened to their help;

2. How even I am often in trouble from the darkness and the waves of passions and how the Merciful Lord hastens to help me in walking over passions as over a solid road.

HOMILY

About the path of life and the path of death

"Sometimes a way seems right to a man but the end of it leads to death!" (Proverbs 14:12).

It sometimes appears to man that the path of the godless is right for he sees that the godless obtains riches and succeeds. O, if it where only given to him to see the end of that path! He would be horrified and would never tread on that path.

If the end of a path terminates in destruction, can it be the right path? Therefore, O man, do not say that one path is right if you do not see its end. You ask: "How could I, a weak and shortsighted man, perceive the end of a long path?" In two ways: by reading Holy Scripture through the experience of the Orthodox Church and by observing the end of the path of life of those around you and those who die before you. However, the first path is the more reliable path and if you adhere to it, know that you will not stumble into the night of eternal death.

Only that path is right which is shown by God as right. All other paths that appear as right to your mind and do not coincide with the path of God are wrong and are deadly. Behold, even the beasts have their paths, but would you travel those paths if they seemed right to you? Do not go, for in the end you will fall into the hungry jaws of the beasts. And the path shown by God, even if it appears wrong to you, is right - therefore travel by it. Because of our sins, the path of God occasionally seems wrong to us. If we were without sin and if our mind was not distorted by sin it would not be possible for us, even for a moment, to conceive that another path would be right except God's path. To a distorted mind many wrong paths seem right and the only right path as being wrong.

O All-seeing Lord, our Guide, correct our mind so as not to be detained on the wrong paths. Jesus, You are the only Path, Truth and Life and that which we fantasize apart from You is the wrong way, a lie and death.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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