Prologue of Ohrid

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July 12

1. THE HOLY MARTYRS PROCLUS AND HILARIUS

These holy martyrs were born in Kallippi in Asia and Proclus was the uncle of Hilarius. They were martyred during the reign of Trajan. "What is your lineage?" the judge inquired of Proclus. Proclus answered: "My lineage is Christ and my hope is my God." When the judge threatened him with tortures, Proclus said: "When you are afraid to transgress the orders of the emperor in order not to fall into temporal sufferings, how much more are we Christians afraid to transgress the commandment of God so that we may not fall into eternal sufferings!" While they were torturing Proclus, Hilarius came before the judge and said: "I also am a Christian!" After much suffering, they were both sentenced to death: Proclus was crucified on a cross and Hilarius was beheaded. Both entered into the joy of their Lord.

2. THE VENERABLE MICHAEL OF MALEINOS

Michael was a wealthy man of noble birth. Rejecting earthly goods in his youth, he withdrew to Mt. Malea, near Mt. Athos, where he lived a life of asceticism, purifying his heart through fasting and prayer. Later on, he had many disciples, of which the most prominent was St. Athanasius the Athonite. Michael died peacefully about the year 940 A.D.

3. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR GOLINDUC [MARY]

Golinduc was a Persian by birth. She entered into marriage with a Persian sage and lived three years in the marital state. She then had a vision of angels who showed her the other world: the torments of sinners and the unbelievers and the joy of the righteous. After this, she left her husband and was baptized. At baptism, she received the name of Mary. Persecuted by her husband, she was sentenced to prison for life. She was imprisoned for eighteen years and remained steadfast in her faith. After this, she was thrown into a pit with a terrible snake but God saved her and the snake did not harm her. When evil young men were sent to defile her, God made her invisible to their eyes. Astonished at her sufferings, many Persians embraced the Faith of Christ. She visited Jerusalem where she denounced the Severian heresy, which taught that the divine nature in Christ suffered for which they read the Trisagion [TrisvjatojeThe ThriceHoly Hymn] in the following form: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal crucified for us, have mercy on us." Finally, after preaching the True Faith, she peacefully died near the city of Nisibus in the year 587 A.D.

4. SAINT VERONICA

Veronica is the woman with the issue of blood whom the Lord healed. "And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment" (St. Matthew 9:20). Out of gratitude to the Lord her Healer, Veronica ordered a statue of the Lord Jesus be made for her before which she prayed to God. According to tradition, this statue was preserved until the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate who altered the statue into an idol of Zeus. This is one of the rarest instances that statues of saints were used in the Eastern Church. As is known, the latter became a common practice in the Western Church. Saint Veronica remained faithful to the Faith of Christ until death and died peacefully.

5. THE HOLY MARTYRS THEODORE AND JOHN

Theodore and John were father and son, and by descent Varangians (Vikings) who were baptized and then settled in the pagan city of Kiev. The enraged pagans destroyed their home with them in it and, thus, both suffered for Christ. Their relics repose in the monastery of the Caves of Anthony in Kiev. Those without children and those who miscarry invoke their intercession.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR GOLINDUC
 
Golinduc of Persian origin,
 
The heavens saw and a Christian became,
 
Began to tread the narrow path
 
Blows to receive from all sides,
 
As an iron flint strikes,
 
From the strike, a glowing fire creates,
 
Thus, pain a human heart strikes.
 
Until the flame ignites what in the heart is concealed
 
And the dark paths of men illuminates,
 
The soul saves from passions sinful.
 
Golinduc, full of the Spirit of God,
 
Roof nor bread, did not have
 
In the world, any friends did not have;
 
The world, a camp of sufferers to her was
 
All she had, all for Christ she gave
 
Because of suffering, as gold she became,
 
As gold, by fire tempered
 
Her entire being thus became.
 
One by one, the torturers died out
 
Of their wealth, nothing did they take
 
Except misdeeds and the name of the Evil One.
 
Golinduc, before God came
 
As a beautiful fruitful olive tree,
 
Pure soul, a kin to the angels.
 
REFLECTION

A strand of justice is thinner than a strand of silk but it is more durable and unbreakable and encompasses both worlds. While a strand of injustice and violence is thick and easily breaks. During the reign of Prince Vladimir of Kiev, only one Christian family lived there, Theodore the Varangian and his son John. At the time of an impure pagan feast, the pagan Kievans, directed by the demon himself, decided to offer John the son of Theodore as a sacrifice to the idols. When some of them came to Theodore and sought his son John in the name of their "gods", Theodore said: "If your gods are alive, let them come themselves and take my son." The enraged pagans rushed into Theodore's house, destroyed it and in the ruins left the dead bodies of both the God-fearing and saintly man Theodore and his son John. Thus far extends the strand of violence. The strand of justice continues. Shortly afterward, Prince Vladimir was baptized and consequently baptized his people on the same spot where the house and the grave of the first Russian martyrs, Theodore and John, stood. A church was erected and dedicated to the All-Holy Birth-giver of God.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous punishment and healing of Miriam [Mary], the sister of Moses (Numbers 12):

1. How Miriam spoke against Moses: "Now the man Moses was very meek above all the men on the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3);

2. How suddenly God punished her with the disease of leprosy and how God healed her through the prayer of Moses;

3. How those who cry out at the men of God today, the punishment of God reaches out to them.

HOMILY

About God's attitude toward the proud and toward the humble

"For God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).

Brethren, before whom and before what can a man be proud? Is it before angels? Behold, the angels are immortal and man is mortal. Or before men? Behold, he is dependent on many men and is mortal, as are all men. Or before animals? How could he live without the service of animals? Or before the sun and stars? For without their light he would stagger in darkness and in a few days he would cease to be. Or before vegetation? For vegetation is his main food. Or before the black earth? For from the earth, his body was created. Or before the dead? Without them, he could not enter into life. Or before the living? But among the living there are many of the same, so that among them, he is as a single thread in a rug. Before God? If it were not for the will of God, he would not be either among the living or among the dead. Before whom and before what brethren, can man be proud?

To the lowly and humble God gives grace. That is, He gives them all that they need, all of that for which they pray to Him in their lowliness and in their humility. Who are they, the lowly and humble? They are those who feel their weakness and their complete dependence on the Creator of all. They are as full as the sea and as dependent as the sea. What water is there that is fuller than the sea and what is more dependent on the rains and tributaries? The proud one is as an enclosed well, closed off from heaven and earth and is self-sufficient as long as it is full. When closed off and cut off, it must quickly become emptied.

The wise Solomon prudently speaks about God: "Surely He scorns the scorners: but He gives grace to the lowly" (Proverbs 3:34). But God's scorn is not as evil as is man's scorn, rather it is pity and anger. Nor is God's mercy limited as is man's mercy, for it is a royal mercy which startles by its glow, beauty and infinity.

O Lord God, our Creator, humble our heart when it is puffed up by pride and humble our mind when it is puffed up by haughtiness, and help us in the hours of our prideful nothingness to remember the Cross on Golgotha and Your Only-begotten Son, in blood and agony for us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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