Prologue of Ohrid


July 12


These holy martyrs were born in Kallippi in Asia, and Proclus was the uncle of Hilary. They suffered 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, Hilary 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 Hilary was beheaded, and they entered into the joy of their Lord.


Michael was a wealthy man of noble birth. Rejecting earthly goods in his youth, he withdrew to Mt. Malea, near the Holy Mountain [Mt. Athos], where he lived a life of asceticism, purifying his heart through fasting and prayer. He later had many disciples, of whom the most renowned is St. Athanasius the Athonite. Michael died peacefully in about the year 940 A.D.


Golinduc was a Persian by birth. She entered into marriage with a Persian noble and lived for three years in the marital state. She then had a vision of an angel who showed her the other world: the torments of sinners and unbelievers, and the joy of the righteous. After this, she left her husband and was baptized, receiving the name Mary. Persecuted by her husband, she was sentenced to prison for life, and spent eighteen years in prison, without wavering in her faith. Then 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 [Trisvjatoje, The Thrice-Holy Hymn] thus: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, crucified for us, have mercy on us." Continuing to preach the true Faith, she died peacefully near the city of Nisibus in the year 587 A.D.


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 so that it becme an idol of Zeus. This is one of the rare instances in which statues of saints have been used in the Eastern Church. As is known, the latter became a common practice of the Western churches. Saint Veronica remained devoted to the Faith of Christ until her peaceful repose.


Theodore and John were father and son of Varangian descent (Vikings). After being baptized, they settled in the pagan city of Kiev. The enraged pagans pulled their house down upon them, and both of them suffered for the sake of Christ. Their relics repose in the Monastery of the Caves of Anthony in Kiev. Their intercession is especially invoked by those without children and those who are prone to miscarriage.



Golinduc, by race a Persian,

The heavens saw and a Christian became,

And began to walk the narrow path,

Receiving blows from all sides.

As an iron strikes flint,

And from the strike fire leaps,

So pain the heart of some strikes,

Igniting the hidden fuel of the heart,

The dark path for men illuminating--

The soul saving from passions shameful.

Golinduc, full of the Spirit of God,

Roof nor bread, did not have;

In all the world, a friend she had not.

The earth, a torturer's camp, to her was.

All she had, for Christ she gave

And through suffering, gold she became,

And as gold, by the fire tempered

She was refined throughout.

One by one, the torturers died off;

Of their wealth, nothing did they take--

Except their crimes and an evil name.

Golinduc, before God, came,

Like a wondrously fruitful olive tree,

Pure in soul, akin to angels.


The fabric of justice is thinner than silk, but it is more durable and less easily torn, and encompasses both worlds, while the fabric of injustice and violence is thick and easily breaks. During the reign of Prince Vladimir of Kiev, only one Christian family lived in Kiev: Theodore the Varangian and his son John. During a foul idolatrous feast, the pagan Kievans, directed by a demon, decided to offer Theodore's son John as a sacrifice to the idols. When they 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 left the bodies of the God-pleasing Theodore and his son John in the ruins. Thus far did the fabric of violence extend. But the fabric of justice went further: Prince Vladimir was baptized shortly thereafter, and he baptized his people as well.  Then, on the very spot where the house (and grave) of the first Russian martyrs--Theodore and John--had stood, a church was erected and dedicated to the All-Holy Birth-giver of God.


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

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

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

3. How God's punishment strikes those who cry out against the men of God even today.


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? Before angels? Behold, the angels are immortal and man is mortal. Before men? Behold, he is dependent on many men and he is mortal, as are all men. Before the animals? But how could he live without the service of animals? Before the sun and stars? But, without their light, he would stagger in the darkness, and in a few days he would cease to be. Before vegetation? But vegetation is his main food. Before the black earth? But his body was created from the earth. Before the dead? But he could not have entered into life without them. Before the living? But the living are so numberous that, among them, he is as a single fiber in a rug. Before God? But 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?

God gives grace to the lowly and humble. That is, He gives them all that they need, all that for which they pray to Him in their lowliness and 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 the rivers? But the proud man is like an enclosed well, closed off from heaven and earth and self-sufficient as long as it is full. But, being closed off and cut off, it soon becomes empty.

The wise Solomon speaks wisely about God: Surely He scorns the scorners: but He gives grace to the lowly (Proverbs 3:34). But God's scorn does not gloat over another's misforturne as does human scorn, but rather it is pity and wrath. Nor is God's mercy limited as is man's mercy, for it is a royal mercy, which startles by its radiance, beauty and limitlessness.

O Lord God, our Creator, humble our hearts when they are puffed up by pride, and humble our minds when they are puffed up by haughtiness. Help us in the hour of our prideful nothingness to remember the Cross on Golgotha and Your Only-begotten Son, bleeding and suffering for our sake.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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