Prologue of Ohrid

JANUARY
 
 
 
 
FEBRUARY
 
 
 
 
 
 
MARCH
 
 
 
 
APRIL
 
 
 
 
 
MAY
 
 
 
 
JUNE
 
 
 
 
 
JULY
 
 
 
 
AUGUST
 
 
 
 
SEPTEMBER
 
 
 
 
 
OCTOBER
 
 
 
 
NOVEMBER
 
 
 
 
 
DECEMBER
 
 
 
 

June 25

1. THE VENERABLE FEMALE-MARTYR FEBRONIA [FEVRONIA]

Febronia was the daughter of Prosphorus, a senator from Rome. In order to avoid marriage with a mortal man, Febronia betrothed herself to Christ and was tonsured a nun in the east, in the country of Assyria, in a convent where her aunt Bryaena was abbess. Lysimachus, the son of a nobleman, desired to wed Febronia but since Emperor Diocletian suspected him to be a secret Christian, he sent Lysimachus to the east with his uncle Silenus to apprehend and kill Christians. Silenus was as cruel as a beast and exterminated Christians everywhere without mercy. Lysimachus, on the contrary, spared the Christians wherever he could and hid them from his beast-like uncle. Making Palmyra a wasteland of Christians, Silenus came to the town of Nisibis close to which was a convent with fifty ascetics among whom was Febronia. Even though she was only twenty years old, Febronia was respected in the convent and in the town because of her great meekness, wisdom and restraint. In this convent the rule of the former abbess Blessed Platonida was adhered to in that every Friday be spent only in prayer and the reading of the sacred books without any other type of work. Bryaena had designated Febronia to read the sacred books to the sisters hidden behind a curtain so that no one would be distracted and captivated by the beauty of her face. Hearing about Febronia, Silenus ordered that Febronia be brought to him. But, when the holy virgin refused to deny Christ and to agree to enter into marriage with a mortal man, Silenus ordered her to be whipped, and after that to knock out her teeth, cut off her hands, breasts then legs and finally to slay her with a sword. However, a horrible punishment from God befell the torturer the same day. A rage entered into him and he was overcome by a deadly horror. In this horror he struck his head against a marble pillar and fell dead. Lysimachus ordered that Febronia's body be gathered and brought to the convent where it was honorably buried and he, with many other soldiers, were baptized. Many healings have occurred from the relics of St. Febronia and she appeared on the day of her feast and stood in her usual place among the sisters and all the sisters looked upon her with fear and rejoicing. St. Febronia suffered and took up habitation in eternal blessedness in the year 310 A.D. In the year 363 A.D., her relics were translated to Constantinople.

2. VENERABLE DIONYSIUS

Dionysius was the founder of the monastery of St. John (Dionysiat) on Mt. Athos. He was born in Koritza in Albania. His older brother Theodosius withdrew to Mt. Athos where, in time, he became the abbot of the monastery Philotheou. When St. Dionysius had matured he went to his brother in Philotheou and his brother tonsured him a monk. By divine providence, while in Constantinople on a work assignment for the monastery, Theodosius was chosen and consecrated as metropolitan of Trebizond. A wondrous light began to appear every night to Dionysius on the spot where he later built the monastery of St. John the Forerunner. Explaining the appearance of this light as a sign from heaven that he should build a monastery there, Dionysius traveled to Trebizond to seek help from his brother Theodosius and Emperor Alexius Comnenis. The emperor gave him both money and a royal charter, which is still preserved in the monastery. Dionysius founded the monastery of St. John the Forerunner in the year 1380 A.D. At one time, when pirates plundered the monastery, Dionysius again traveled to Trebizond and died there at the age of seventy-two. The monastery of Dionysiat still continues and flourishes even today. There is an icon of the All-holy Birth-giver of God in that monastery called "The Praise" which Emperor Alexius Comnenis donated to Dionysius. According to tradition, the Akathist to the Theotokos [Birth-giver of God] composed by Patriarch Sergius was read for the first time.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT FEBRONIA
 
The virgin Febronia, confesses Christ
 
Before judgment standing, bloody and pale.
 
As a palm branch, the young Febronia.
 
From beautiful fruit, a branch became heavy,
 
And to Silenus she speaks: "A Bridegroom, have I,
 
And no type of honor, from you do I accept,
 
Christ is my glory, Christ is my pride,
 
O yes, the beautiful countenance of my Bridegroom!
 
Cut off, cut off my feet - paths they have traveled!
 
Cut off, cut off my hands - work they have completed!
 
Cut out, cut out my tongue - with my heart I will pray!
 
Smash, smash my mouth - with my heart, I will speak!
 
Whip, crush the body - why do I need the body?

Among many holy ones, in the heavens above,
 
Among the angels, in sweet Paradise.
 
Do not think Silenus, that when I depart,
 
That the fury of your life will die.
 
But hear me and remember: behold the same day
 
Before the Living God, together we will go:
 
You as a torturer and I, tortured by you,
 
Each, his deeds, will bring with him.
 
REFLECTION

St. Mark the ascetic said: "Whoever desires to eliminate future tribulations must bear the present tribulations with joy." Men consider slander as a great tribulation and there are few men who bear this tribulation without grumbling. O beautiful is the fruit of kindly endured tribulation! Tribulation is given to us for good spiritual commerce and we are missing the opportunity thus remaining empty-handed at the market place. Behold, even Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom, Macarius, Sisoes and thousands of other followers of the Most-slandered One were themselves slandered. But God, Who orders all things for our salvation, had so ordered that on the thorn of slander would sprout fragrant roses of glory for all those who are slandered for His Name. Had Stephen not been slandered would he have seen the heavens opened and seen the glory of God in the heavens? And the slander against Joseph the Chaste One, did it not serve to his greater glory?

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous fishing in the deep: "But when He had ceased speaking, He said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch' " (St. Luke 5:4):

1. How the apostles went out into the deep and, with the blessing of the Lord, caught an abundance of fish;

2. How I am empty and hungry while I stand in the shallow [physical] senses and here fish for power and wisdom;

3. How I should enter into the spiritual depths, with the blessing of the Lord, and there to catch a good catch.

HOMILY

About today's day and tomorrow's day

"Boast not of tomorrow, for you know not what any day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).

Brethren, let us not boast of that which is not in our power. The Lord has placed the times and the years under His power and He disposes of them. Only God Himself alone knows whether tomorrow's day will number us among the living or the dead. Some have died on the eve of their marriage; again, others have descended into the grave on the eve of their coronation with a royal diadem. Therefore, let no one say that tomorrow will be for me the happiest day of my life; tomorrow, I enter into marriage! Or, tomorrow I will be crowned with a royal diadem! Or, tomorrow I am going to a great feast! Or, tomorrow a great gain is coming to me! O, let no one speak of the happiness of tomorrow's day. Behold, yet this night your soul may depart your body and tomorrow you will find yourself surrounded by black demons in the tollhouses [Mitarstvo]! And yet, even this night, a man can be separated from his relatives and friends, from wealth and honor, from the sun and the stars and find himself in a totally unknown company, in an unseen place and at an unexpected judgment.

Instead of boasting of tomorrow's day, it would be better to pray to God to "Give us this day our daily bread." Perhaps today's day may be our last day on earth. That is why it is better to spend this day in repentance for all our past days on earth rather than vainly fantasizing about tomorrow's day, about the day which perhaps will not dawn for us. Vain fantasizing about tomorrow's day cannot bring us any good, but repentance for one day with tears can save us from eternal fire.

O righteous Lord, burn up the insane vanity that is in us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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