Prologue of Ohrid


June 27


Sampson was born of wealthy and eminent parents in ancient Rome, where he studied all the secular sciences of that time, dedicating himself particularly to the science of medicine. Sampson was a compassionate and unmercenary physician and administered cures to the sick, both for the body and the soul, counseling everyone to fulfill the requirements of the Christian Faith. He later moved to Constantinople, where he lived in a small house, from which, as the sun disperses its rays of light, he spread forth upon the whole land alms, comfort, counsel, hope, medicine and, in general, help to the helpless, both spiritually and physically. The patriarch heard of the great virtues of this man and ordained him a priest. At that time, Emperor Justinian the Great became ill and all his physicians were convinced that the illness was incurable. Then the emperor prayed to God with great fervency, and God revealed to him in a dream that Sampson would heal him. And indeed, when the emperor learned of Sampson, he invited him to his court, and as soon as the elder placed his hand on the ailing spot the emperor recovered. When the emperor offered him enormous wealth for this, Sampson thanked him but did not want to accept anything, saying to him: "O Emperor, I had gold and silver and other goods, but I left all for the sake of Christ, in order to gain eternal, heavenly wealth." When the emperor insisted on doing something for him, holy Sampson implored the emperor to build him a home [hospice] for the poor. There Sampson served the poor as a parent serves his children. Mercy toward the poor and helpless was natural to him. Finally, this saintly man, completely filled with heavenly power and goodness, reposed peacefully on June 27, 530 A.D., and was interred in the Church of his relative, the Holy Martyr Mocius. After his death, Sampson appeared many times to those who called upon him for assistance.


Severus lived in central Italy and was a man of extraordinary sanctity. Once he was summoned to hear the confession of a man who was dying and to give him Holy Communion, but he was late because he had been working in his vineyard. There the news reached him that the sick man had died. In great fear, as though he had killed the man, Severus began to weep bitterly over the deceased, and by his fervent prayer God restored the dead man to life. Then Severus heard his confession, gave him Holy Communion and prepared him for a Christian departure from this world. On the eighth day the man again died.


Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward: Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward (St. Luke 8:3). When Herod beheaded John the Baptist, he disposed of his head in an unclean place. Joanna removed the head of the Baptist and buried it honorably on the Mount of Olives, on Herod's estate. Later, during the reign of Constantine the Great, the head of John the Baptist was discovered. St. Joanna is also remembered as having been present at both the passion and the Resurrection of the Lord. She died peacefully.



When a dead man came to life, men asked him:

"Tell us, where were you, and who awakened you?"

"In a place of fear and horror, I was;

In the company of black ones, wolves and dogs;

In the depths, full of every uncleanness;

In the bottomless pit of darkness, without a single ray.

And when my soul despair overcame,

By the hand, a radiant young man took me.

Then, from the depths, a cool current blew,

And black ones with heads of dogs charged me:

'This one--he is ours, he is ours, where are you taking him now?

As a citizen of hades, do you not recognize him?'

To this the angel said: 'Severus, for him, is praying!

And by the will of God I am taking him;

In the body, once more, he must appear;

Behold, to confess him, Severus is seeking!

To confess him and, Holy Communion, to give him.

Armies of evil and recalcitrants, stay away!'

Thus the angel spoke, and with me flew away

Throughout cold hades, through the bottomless darkness,

Until at holiness I arrived, and returned to my body.

That is the history of me, the deceased.

Oh, to be confessed, what a treasure it is

And, as a communicant, enter into the world of eternity!"


There is no one so stupid as he who cannot see his own sins and cannot see the virtues of others. There is no one so enlightened as he who can see and recognize his own sins and the virtues of others. St. John Chrysostom equates those who see only the faults of others, and criticize them, to flies that fall on the wounds of others, not in order to heal them but to gnaw at them and poison them more. "God has sent us here for penance [Epitimija]," said Blessed Theophilus of Kiev (+1853). He who knows and feels that he is here for penance immerses himself in silence and contemplation of his own sin, which has brought him to do penance. The same blessed one further said: "Weep also over the sins of your fellow man; without this, not one created human being will be saved." To weep over or to proclaim--how is it written, my son? With Blessed Theophilus, it is to weep over, but with Satan, to proclaim. And about himself, Blessed Theophilus at the point of death left this testament to his brethren: "Remember stinking Theophilus!" This is the testament of the holiest human being in Kiev in the year 1853 A.D.


To contemplate the miraculous healing of the man ill with dropsy: And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy (St. Luke 14:2):

1. How the Lord touched the man with dropsy, and he was healed and went home;

2. How my soul--being under the burden of love for the body--is under the burden of dropsy;

3. How the Lord with one touch can heal the dropsy of my soul and free it from the excessive burden of the dankness of the passions.


About shelter from on high

"He who trusts in the Lord is safe" (Proverbs 29:25).

The righteous man is under the shelter of the Lord, under the shelter from on high. The water will not reach him nor will the flood drown him. Indeed, the flood did not drown Noah, for the Lord was a shelter from on high for him.

However, brethren, there is a flood worse than a flood of water, that is, the flood of the passions. When the passions begin to burn, when they begin to smoke and turn black, when they emit their stench and spread it all around--where will a man flee, and who will save him? Only under the hand of the Lord, only under His shelter, the shelter from on high. The flood of passions pursued David, but he fled and found shelter under the hand of the Lord; he saved himself from the fire, the smoke and the stench of the pursuing passions under the shelter from on high.

A man cannot save himself from the flood--only God can save him. God is the Master of the clouds and the Tamer of the passions. Indeed, He is the Shelter from on high. We flee to Him and hide ourselves under the hem of His garment. A dog appears like a lion to a beggar but like an empty sack before the feet of his master.

O Lord Most-high, Who sits upon the throne on high, You are our Shelter from on high. Be merciful to us, O our Creator, and extend Your hand to raise us up to Your shelter. Save us from the turbulent waters [passions] which rush to drown us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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