Prologue of Ohrid

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June 20

1. THE HOLY MARTYR METHODIUS, BISHOP OF PATARA

From his youth, Methodius dedicated himself to asceticism and, as a city on a hill, was seen and summoned to the episcopacy in the city of Patara in Lycia. As a learned and eloquent hierarch, Methodius wrote against the heresy of Origen. His "God-inspired words shown throughout the entire world as lightning." The pagans rose up against him, tortured him and beheaded him in Chalcis in Syria in the year 311 A.D.

2. THE HOLY MARTYRS ARISTOCLES, DIMITRIANUS AND ATHANASIUS

Aristocles was a priest of the cathedral church in the town of Tamasus on Cyprus and lived a God-pleasing life. Because of his great zeal for the Faith, Aristocles was made worthy of a voice from heaven instructing him to go to Salamis in Cyprus and to receive the wreath of martyrdom. Dimitrianus the deacon and Athanasius the reader accompanied him. Arriving at Salamis, these men of God began to preach Christ. The pagans seized them and after torturing them, Aristocles was beheaded and Dimitrianus and Athanasius were burned alive in the year 306 A.D.

3. THE VENERABLE NAHUM OF OHRID

Nahum's principle feast is celebrated on December 23 and June 20 is his summer feast (Life of St. Nahum December 23). During the summer feast there is a great assembly of people at the monastery of St. Nahum. Many sick people come or are brought to beseech healing through faith and prayer over the relics of the saint. Not only Orthodox people but also those from other faiths come to seek favor from St. Nahum. In 1926, a Muslim from Resna brought and donated a bell to the monastery out of thanksgiving because St. Nahum healed his brother from his deathbed and restored him to life. The donor was Jemail Zizo and his brother, who was healed, was called Suleiman Zizo. Both were prominent citizens of Resna.

4. SAINT KALLISTOS I, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

As a disciple of Gregory Sinaite, Kallistos lived a life of asceticism for twenty-eight years on Mt. Athos in the Scete of Magoula at the monastery Philotheou. He later founded the monastery of St. Mamas. He was elected patriarch of Constantinople in the year 1350 A.D. After four years he withdrew from the patriarchal throne and again returned to Mt. Athos. During the reign of John Paleologus, he was again returned to the throne where, as patriarch, he remained until his death. He died in the year 1368 A.D. enroute to Serres where he traveled to meet the Servian Empress Helena who came to seek help against the Turks. In the company of Ignatius, he compiled a beautiful guide [manual] for ascetics. In addition to this, he wrote the hagiography of St. Gregory Sinaite and St. Theodosius of Trnovo as well as numerous homilies. It is interesting to note how St. Maximus of Kapsokalyvia prophesied the death of Patriarch Kallistos. On his way to Serbia, Kallistos traveled through the Holy Mountain. Seeing him, St. Maximus said: "This elder will never see his flock again for behind him is heard the funeral chant: "Blessed are the undefiled in the way' " (Psalm 119:1).

5. SAINT LEUCIUS, BISHOP OF THE CITY OF BRINDISI [ITALY]

Leucius was born in Alexandria and, at the early age, entered a monastery. He was made worthy of great revelations and powerful grace so that he resurrected the dead and drove out demons from men. At first, he was a bishop of Alexandria and, by command from heaven, Leucius crossed over to Italy to the pagan town of Brindisi, which he completely baptized and built a church to the Mother of God. After many and successful labors he took up habitation in eternity during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II, in the fifth century.

6. BLESSED STUDIOS

Studios was a prominent patrician and consul in Constantinople. He founded the church of St. John the Forerunner near the Golden Gates and a monastery named Studion after him. This monastery became famous for the many glorious men, spiritual fathers, ascetics and many who suffered for the Faith [martyrs], the most famous of which was St. Theodore the Studite. The Latin Crusaders destroyed this monastery in 1204 A.D. but Emperor Constantine Paleologue Porphyrogenitus rebuilt it in the year 1293 A.D. A Turkish mosque stands on that place today.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT LEUCIUS
 
Leucius, Leucius, heart whitened.
 
In the Book of Life, of blessed name,
 
Memory of you in the heavens will eternally be
 
And on earth the Church will glorify you!
 
Such a voice, Leucius from the heavens heard
 
And a sweet-smelling peace, his voiced calmed.
 
Against Leucius the holy, the black devil arose
 
But Leucius against him [Devil], with the cross rose up,
 
Of demonic arrows, he was not wounded
 
But by the power of God, all the power of the devil he destroyed.
 
To the good shepherd, God gave him the power,
 
By that, preserved the flock in sinful Egypt.
 
And yet, he founded the Church in Brindisi
 
And instructed the people to protect the will of God
 
Many people he baptized and noblemen glorious,
 
And, with the torch of the Orthodox Faith, and enlightened all,
 
By his miracles, astonished the whole world,
 
And then to the Lord departed, the wreath of glory to receive.
 
REFLECTION

Saint Cyprian writes about immortality: "Whenever a famous man promises you something, you would believe his promise and would not even dare to think that he who was always faithful to his word would deceive you. But behold, O treacherous one, God Himself speaks to you and you are wavering with doubt. God promised you immortality after your departure from this world and you impudently doubt that promise? This means: you do not recognize God at all: it means that by your unbelieving you insult Christ the Lord and Teacher." O how powerful is the faith of the saints of God! How obvious and understandable and well explained it is with simple and powerful examples! The unholy do not doubt because they are supposedly more rational but because they are unholy. The holier man is always more rational for in the clear mirror of his heart, he sees the truth.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous withering of the unfruitful fig tree: "And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he came up to it and found nothing on it but leaves; and He said to it, 'May no fruit ever come from you henceforth forever!' And immediately the fig tree withered up" (St. Matthew 21:19):

1. How the Lord cursed the fig tree with many leaves but without fruit and the fig tree withered up;

2. How even my life with many leaves - bodily cares, desires and thoughts - and without spiritual fruit, can come under the same curse if I do not amend my ways.

HOMILY

About how our salvation is in the hands of God

"The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but salvation is in the Lord" (Proverbs 21:31).

We are obligated to prepare ourselves but our success depends on God. All of our preparation is only a proposal to God but the proposal does not decide, but God decides. That is why people wisely say according to their experience: man proposes and God disposes. O Soldier of Christ, prepare your mind as a good horse, arm your heart with virtues, temper your will with mortifications, but know - that "salvation is in the Lord." O Merchant of Christ, practice good trade every day, exchanging the material for the spiritual, the earthly for the heavenly and mortality for immortality, but know - that "salvation is in the Lord." O Plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soul, sow the good evangelical seed on it every day, weed out the field of your soul from weeds, watch over it, but know that "salvation is in the Lord." A horse did not help the pharaoh in the Red Sea. Neither did the riches of Babylon help in the day of reckoning with God. A person can prepare all but, nevertheless, in that decisive moment can lose everything. For salvation is not in preparation, but in the Lord. That is why the saints, even though most prepared for the Kingdom of God and, in their hour of death, sighed not knowing whether they will be received into the Kingdom. O how well they remember the words of the Lord: "When you have done everything that was commanded you, say: 'We are unprofitable servants!' " (St. Luke 17:10). Brethren, let us be prepared for the day of temptation, well girded and armed but let us not hope in our own preparation, but in the Lord.

O Lord our Savior, help us and save us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen
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