Prologue of Ohrid


July 1


Cosmas and Damian were unmercenary physicians and miracle-workers. These two saints were brothers, born in Rome.  As children, they were baptized and brought up in the Christian spirit. They possessed abundant grace from God to heal men and livestock from every disease and suffering, usually by the laying on of hands. They sought no reward for their efforts, only requiring the infirm to believe in Christ the Lord. They compassionately distributed their inheritance of a large estate to the poor and those in need. At that time the Emperor Galerius reigned in Rome. Before Galerius, persecutors of Christianity brought these two holy brothers bound in chains. After prolonged interrogation, Galerius ordered them to deny Christ and offer sacrifices to the idols. Cosmas and Damian not only refused to obey the emperor but also counseled him to abandon the lifeless idols and recognize the One True God. "Our God is not created, but rather He is the Creator of all. Your gods are the inventions of men and the work of the hands of mere craftsmen. If you did not have craftsmen to make your gods, you would have no one to worship." After Cosmas and Damian had worked a miracle upon the emperor himself--they miraculously cured him from a grave infirmity--the emperor proclaimed his faith in Christ and released the holy brothers in peace. Cosmas and Damian continued to glorify God and heal the sick, and they were themselves glorified by the people on all sides. Envious of their glory, a certain doctor, a former teacher of theirs, led them into the mountains, under the pretext of gathering healing herbs, and stoned them to death. They suffered honorably for the Faith of Christ in the year 284 A.D. Their memory remains eternal in the Church on earth, and their souls took up their habitation in the Kingdom of the Lord, to live eternally in glory and in joy.


This saint was a nobleman from Constantinople and a commander during the reign of Emperor Nicephorus (802-811 A.D.). In a war with the Bulgarians, Emperor Nicephorus was slain, and Peter, with fifty Greek commanders and princes, was captured and cast into prison. St. John the Theologian miraculously freed Peter from prison. Despising all earthly glory, Peter then left his wife and son and withdrew to Mount Olympia, where--as a monk and as a disciple of St. Joannicius the Great--he lived an ascetic life for thirty-four years. Following the death of his wife and son, he settled in Constantinople, where he spent eight more years in fasting and prayer. He then fell asleep in the Lord in the year 865 A.D. in the seventy-seventh year of his life.


A thirteen-year-old child in Sardinia, Potitus endured much suffering for Christ--both from his father and from the civil persecutors of Christianity. Potitus was beheaded during the reign of Emperor Antoninus (138-161 A.D.), after having healed and baptized Agnes, the daughter of the emperor.



The young Potitus, his father asked:

"If your Faith is so true,

Would you for it give your life?"

Potitus replied: "The Savior promised

To gird all of His faithful with such strength

That for Him one could easily suffer.

In that also I hope, and I greatly believe

That I could suffer for my Christ.

Father, my God is great and glorious,

Miraculous and mighty, living and life-giving.

He, the young David, helped in battle,

So that he claimed the head of the terrible Goliath.

With me, on the path of suffering, He will be,

So that, dark and bitter death, I can endure."

When Gilas, the father, heard his son's answer,

He felt he had, of wisdom, unearthly wine, drunk,

And cried out: "Where are my years?

Behold, from a child truth I have learned!"

He was baptized and numbered among the faithful--

And, in blood, Potitus was baptized a martyr.


Through their prayers and almsgiving for the deceased, Christians show forth the relationship between this world and the world to come. The Church in this world and the Church in the other world are one and the same--one body, one being--as the root of a tree beneath the earth comprise one organism with the trunk and the branches of the tree above the earth. It is clear from this how we, who comprise the Church on earth, can receive help from the saints and the righteous ones in the Heavenly Church, as the deceased sinners in the other world can receive help from us on earth. St. Athanasius says: "As it happens with wine inside a barrel--that when the vineyard blooms in the field, the wine somehow senses it, and blossoms in fragrance itself--so it is with the souls of sinners. They receive some relief from the Bloodless Sacrifice offered for them in charity," performed for their repose. St. Ephraim the Syrian cites that same example with wine and the vineyard and concludes: "And so, when there exists such mutual sensitivity even among plants, are not prayer and sacrifice felt even more so by the departed ones?"


To contemplate the miraculous changing of water into wine (St. John 2:1-11):

1. How the Lord, at the marriage at Cana, changed the water into wine;

2. How even my soul, if it is wedded to the Living God, transforms its earthly wateriness into a divine beverage.


About how we should rejoice in Christ

"In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials" (1 Peter 1:6).

Thus speaks St. Peter the Apostle, whose life was filled with many temptations and frequent sorrows. Thus speaks the man who left his home and family and followed Christ; who for the sake of Christ endured many difficulties--from hunger, from thirst, from the Jews, from the Romans, from false prophets, from cruel heathens--and who in the end was crucified on a cross, all for the sake of Christ the Lord. He who in this life was mercilessly scourged with great sorrows and great temptations counsels us to rejoice in Christ, so that this joy may swallow up all our comparatively lesser sorrows and temptations.

But why, brethren, should we rejoice in Christ? Because He revealed and showed us the reality of the greatest and most beautiful hopes and dreams of mankind.

He revealed to us the One Living, Omnipotent, All-wise, and All-merciful God, Who gave us the privilege of calling ourselves His sons.

He revealed and showed us the immortal and eternal life: life incomparably better than this life on earth.

He revealed to us the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of angels and the righteous, the kingdom of all good, of the light of truth and of justice.

He revealed and showed to us the goal of our existence here on earth, and the purpose of all our efforts and sufferings in this transient life.

He revealed to us the ocean of heavenly joy, before which all of our present sorrows and temptations are like drops of muddy water, which are unable to muddy that ocean.

O brethren, what joy awaits us! O brethren, how small a price does our Lord ask of us to purchase this joy, in which the angels bathe and in which the righteous swim! All that is required from us is simply to fulfill a few of His short commandments!

O Lord Jesus, all-miraculous Source of joy, our boast and our pleasure, our glory and our thanks, place Your finger on our mouths and do not let a single drop of muddy sorrow and temptation poison us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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