Prologue of Ohrid

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June 18

1. THE HOLY MARTYR LEONTIUS

Leontius was a Roman commander in Tripoli in Phoenicia during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. He was born in Hellas [Greece] "of great physical stature, powerful, strong and brave in battles." Hadrian, the imperial deputy, sent a military detachment to arrest Leontius, for Hadrian was a fierce adversary and persecutor of Christians. Hypatius, the senior officer of this detachment, became ill enroute with a bitter fever because of which the detachment had to slow down their march. One night an angel of God appeared to Hypatius and said to him: "If you want to be well, cry out three times toward heaven with all your soldiers: 'O God of Leontius help me!' "

Hypatius informed his companions of his vision and all in unison cried out as the angel instructed and immediately Hypatius became well. This miracle astonished all but especially Theodulus. Hypatius and Theodulus then went ahead of the other soldiers to seek Commander Leontius. Leontius received them graciously and served them. When he expounded his faith in Christ to them, their hearts burned with love for Christ and, at that moment, a bright cloud descended upon Hypatius and Theodulus and dew from a cloud descended upon them. That was the Holy Spirit of God Himself baptizing these converted souls and St. Leontius, at that moment, spoke these words: "In the name of the All-holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit." The evil Hadrian, learning that Hypatius and Theodulus became Christians, ordered that they be scourged without mercy and following that to be beheaded with an axe. And so, these two spiritual children of Leontius died.

Then Hadrian prescribed cruel tortures for Leontius but Leontius remained unwavering in his holy faith. His entire body was covered with wounds but he diligently prayed to God not to abandon him. In the midst of the cruelest torments, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, encouraged and comforted him. Finally, they knocked the martyr Leontius to the ground and beat him until he gave up his soul to God. The sufferings of St. Leontius was personally witnessed by Kir Notarius who recorded all that he saw on lead tablets and placed them in the martyr's grave. St. Leontius suffered honorably in the year 73 A.D.

2. THE VENERABLE LEONTIUS, THE DISCERNER

Leontius was of Greek descent from the Peloponnese. He lived a life of asceticism sixty years in the monastery Dionysiou [Mt. Athos] and entered into rest in the year 1605 A.D. being eighty-five years of age.  It is said that this saint entered the monastery only once and only once did he leave the monastery in sixty full years. That is: he entered when he first went to Dionysiou and departed when they carried him out to bury him. He possessed the miraculous gift of discernment and prophecy and following his death myrrh flowed from his relics.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT LEONTIUS
 
Leontius, the heart of a lion,
 
A lion's heart and name,
 
Of his God, he was not ashamed
 
But, before all, confessed Christ,
 
The Savior of the world, Christ the God.
 
Youth, strength and commandership scorned
 
For the sake of the truth of the Crucified Christ
 
And [Who] from death, resurrected gloriously.
 
Flattered, hosted, glorified and favored with gifts,
 
He, his God did not deny,
 
Flogged, spat upon, scraped and crucified,
 
He, his God, did not deny,
 
But, the greater the torment and ridicule
 
The flame of faith greater and brighter.
 
The Roman Empire and all the powers of Hades
 
Against him had turned,
 
But he knew that alone, he was not.
 
For, beside him, stood Christ.
 
A pillar of stone, amidst the angry reeds,
 
A pillar of fire among the slaves of darkness.
 
By his faith, he amazed the people,
 
To live eternally, his life he gave.
 
REFLECTION

A scientist examines natural phenomenon with great attention and we, with greater attention, should examine the phenomenons and the actions of the grace of God. Behold, what one of the great spiritual fathers witnesses about the act of Holy Communion. Father John of Kronstadt writes: "I am amazed at the greatness and the life-giving power of divine Communion. An elderly woman, who was spitting blood and was so completely exhausted from not being able to eat anything, began to recover the day that she received Communion from me. A young girl close to death began to recover, eat, drink and speak after Communion, whereas, before that, she was unconscious, in convulsions and did not eat or drink anything." O, if every priest, with the attention of a scientist and with the love of a prayerful man, did observe and follow the actions of the Grace of Holy Communion similar to Father John!

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous healing of the young man whom the devil tormented, at times throwing him into the fire and, at times, into the water: "Lord, have pity on my son: for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; for often times he falls into the fire and often times into the water" (St. Matthew 17:14):

1. How the Lord rebuked the devil and the young man was made whole;

2. How even the evil spirit casts me at times into the fire of passions and at times into the water of carnality;

3. How even the Lord can save me from falling into the fire and into the water if only I pray to Him.

HOMILY

About God's indebtedness

"He who has compassion on the poor lends to God and He will repay Him for his good deed" (Proverbs 19:17).

The poor man who begs and the rich man who gives both are indebting the Lord, but only under the condition that the poor man begs in the name of the Lord with humility and that the rich man gives in the name of the Lord with compassion. Everyone who receives should know that he receives that which belongs to God and everyone who gives should know that he gives that which belongs to God. Such giving has a price and such receiving has a price. All of us enter this world naked and naked shall we leave this world. All of us are beggars before the Lord for we possess nothing that we have not received from the Lord. Therefore, give to the poor man as God has given to you. You take what is another's and you give to your own when you perform charity. The poor man is closer to you than all of your goods even as God, the Creator of men, every man is incomparably more precious than all of his goods. If you have been given riches, it was given to you for temptation: that your heart be tempted! That God and all the heavenly hosts see whether you understood from whom are all your riches and why they were given to you. Blessed are you if you know that your goods are from God and belong to God! Blessed are you if you consider the poor as your companions, among your family members and share with them from that which God has entrusted to you!

O how immeasurable is God's love for mankind! Behold, all that you have belongs to God but, nevertheless, God considers Himself your debtor if you take from Him and give to the poor and He will repay you for your good. What kind of mercy can be compared to this!

O Man-loving Lord, open our minds to understand the mystery of Your mercy and soften our hearts as wax, that as wax they burn and shine with the reflection of Your inexpressible mercy!

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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