Prologue of Ohrid

JANUARY
 
 
 
 
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MARCH
 
 
 
 
APRIL
 
 
 
 
 
MAY
 
 
 
 
JUNE
 
 
 
 
 
JULY
 
 
 
 
AUGUST
 
 
 
 
SEPTEMBER
 
 
 
 
 
OCTOBER
 
 
 
 
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July 3

1. THE HOLY MARTYR HYACINTHUS

Hyacinthus was a young man and a courtier at the court of Emperor Trajan. Secretly, he was a Christian. At one time when Emperor Trajan and his entire court solemnly offered sacrifices to the idols, Hyacinthus refrained from this abominable solemnity. For that he was accused and brought before the emperor to be judged. The emperor counseled him to deny Christ and to offer sacrifices to the idols. Hyacinthus remained as firm as a diamond and said to the emperor: "I am a Christian and I honor Christ. Him I worship and to Him alone do I offer myself as a living sacrifice." Beaten, spat upon and scraped, this holy martyr was thrown into prison. By order of the emperor, he was given nothing to eat except the sacrifices offered before the idols. Hyacinthus refused to partake of them and after eight days died in prison. The prison guards saw two radiant angels in the prison: one angel covering the body of the martyred Hyacinthus with his radiant vesture and the other angel placing a glorious wreath on his head. The entire prison was illuminated and aromatic. The youthful Hyacinthus honorably suffered and was crowned with eternal glory in the year 108 A.D.

2. SAINT ANATOLIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

At first, Anatolius was a presbyter in the Church at Alexandria and following the death of Patriarch Flavian, he was elevated to the patriarchal throne of Constantinople in the year 449 A.D. During his reign, the throne of Constantinople was recognized as equal to the throne of Rome by the Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon in 451 A.D. He struggled greatly for the purity of the Orthodox Faith, suffered much at the hands of the heretics and finally was slain by them in the year 458 A.D. during the reign of Pope Leo the Great. Anatolius governed the church for nearly nine years and took up his habitation among the holy hierarchs in the Kingdom of God.

3. THE VENERABLE ALEXANDER [AKIMETES]

Alexander was born in Asia, educated in Constantinople and after the completion of his schooling he devoted himself to military service and attained the rank of an officer. Reading Holy Scripture, he came across the words of the Savior: "If you seek perfection, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor. You will then have treasure in heaven. Afterward come back and follow me" (St. Matthew 19:21). These words had such an effect on Alexander that he immediately sold and distributed all that he had and withdrew into the wilderness. After many mortifications and labors in purifying himself, he established a monastery of the Sleepless Ones with a special constitution according to this rule: the divine services [offices] were carried on night and day without interruption in his community. The brotherhood was divided into twenty-four relays [cursus]. Each relay knew their hour of the day and night and went to church to continue the reading and singing of the preceding relay. Carrying nothing with him, Alexander traveled much throughout the eastern regions enlightening men with the Faith of Christ. Alexander disputed with heretics, worked miracles by the Grace of God, grew old serving the Lord and finally ended his earthly life in Constantinople in the year 430 A.D. where his relics manifested miraculous power and glory through which God glorifies His holy servants.

4. VENERABLE ISAIAH, THE RECLUSE [ANCHORITE]

Isaiah lived a life of asceticism in the Egyptian Scete during the fifth and sixth centuries. He is mentioned in the book of Saints Barsanuphius and John (Reply 249 and others) as a man possessing exceptional sanctity. He wrote many instructions for monks and anchorites. Of his works, very little remains and much was destroyed by the Muslims. St. Isaiah said: "The mind, before it awakens from the sleep of slothfulness, resides with the demons." "The crown of all good works consists in this: that a man place all his hope in God; that he finds recourse in Him once and for all with his heart and strength; that he be filled with compassion for all and weep before God, imploring His help and mercy." What is the sign to man that a certain sin is forgiven? "The sign that a sin is forgiven is that the sin does not generate any activity in your heart and that you have forgotten it to such a degree that in conversation about a similar sin you do not feel any inclination toward that sin but rather consider it something totally foreign to you. That is the sign that you are completely pardoned." In vain are prayer and mortification to a man who conceals within himself malice toward his neighbor and the desire for revenge. "Watch with all your strength that you do not speak one thing with your mouth and have something else in your heart." "The crown of good works is love; the crown of passions is the justification of one's sins."

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT ALEXANDER [AKIMETES]
 
Venerable Alexander, saint of God,
 
Established the temple of the "Sleepless Ones"; holy monastery,
 
That in it, the Lord be glorified, hymned and magnified;
 
Concerning this holy monastery, the story is still related.
 
But brethren, even our heart the community of heaven is,
 
It is necessary in your heart to glorify the Living God,
 
In the heart, let sleepless prayer be counted,
 
As a flame, let unquenchable love stand,
 
With Grace let the Holy Spirit warm our hearts,
 
Let Christ, His words throughout our heart sow,
 
Let the angels in that temple keep vigil day and night
 
Farther from us, farther from them, the furious ones let them hide.
 
Let the Holy Virgin emit with myrrh in that temple,
 
Together with Her, let the apostles and all of the saints throughout,
 
And all the chosen ones of God; glorious martyrs,
 
And all the virgins for the sake of Christ and all the hermits.
 
In the hearts, let the Liturgy be celebrated thusly
 
And sleeplessly magnify the wisdom of God.
 
REFLECTION

Love is all-powerful. It can, among other things, ease the judgment of the souls of deceased sinners. The Orthodox Church confirms this resolutely and continues to offer prayers and performs corporal works of mercy for the deceased. Abundantly rich in every spiritual experience, the Church knows that prayers and works of mercy for the deceased helps those in the other world. Before her death, St. Athanasia the Abbess (April 12) made the sisterhood promise that for forty days after her death they would prepare a table for the poor and needy. The sisterhood carried out her command for only ten days and then ceased. The saint then appeared in the company of two angels and said to the sisters: "Why have you transgressed my commandment? Know, that through works of mercy and the prayers of the priest for the souls of the deceased in the course of forty days, invokes God's mercy. If the souls of the departed are sinful they, through this, receive forgiveness of sins from God and if they are not sinful then the corporal works of mercy performed for them serve to the salvation of the benefactor himself." Naturally, works of mercy and prayer are thought of here in connection with great love toward the departed souls. Such works of mercy and prayer, in truth, do help.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous transformation of the rod into a serpent and, again, the serpent into the rod (Exodus 4):

1. How the Lord Who created the serpent and the rod from dust, by His own power and for the sake of higher goals, can transform the dead into the living and the living into the dead;

2. How the Lord can, according to my faith and prayer, return my soul, withered and deadened by sin, to life.

HOMILY

About the joy of faith in Christ

"Although you have never seen Him, you love Him, and without seeing you now believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory" (1 Peter 1:8).

These are the words of the Holy Apostle Peter. He saw the Lord and loved Him. He looked at the Lord and believed in Him. Precisely because of that, he praises the love of those who have not seen the Lord and the faith of those who have not seen Him with their eyes. Our Lord Himself said: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (St. John 20:29). Blessed are they who have not seen the Lord as the apostle saw Him, but, nevertheless, they love Him with apostolic love. Blessed are they who have not seen the Lord as the apostle saw Him but, nevertheless, they believe in Him with apostolic faith!

O my brethren, even if we do not see the Lord, we see His works which have enlightened the entire history of mankind from one end to the other and have illumined every created thing under the heavens with a spiritual significance. Even if we do not see the Lord, we see His Holy Church built upon His All-holy and Pure Blood, from countless saints, righteous ones and numerous souls baptized in His Name throughout the ages of ages. Even if we do not see the Lord face to face as the apostles saw Him, we believe that He is among us in the Body and Blood by which we, according to His commandment, communicate and, in communicating, we rejoice with unspeakable joy.

Brethren, the Lord is alive and the Lord is near! That is our unwavering faith and that is the spark of fire which stirs our hearts in a flame of love for the Lord, living and near.

To know that our Lord the Creator, out of love, descended into the earth and appeared as a man for our sake and further know that He was dead and that He appeared alive what stronger foundation does our faith need and what stronger justification for our love?

Brethren, the Lord is alive and near. And even in our day, He is appearing to many righteous souls who serve Him with patience.

O Living Lord, You were dead and are alive; enliven in us faith and love until our last breath on earth, that with faith and love, we may be worthy to see You face to face as did Your holy apostles.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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