Prologue of Ohrid

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July 26

1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR HERMOLAUS

Hermolaus was a priest in Nicomedia during the reign of Emperor Maximian. He was among the two thousand martyrs whom the emperor condemned to be burned together with the church (December 28). Somehow Hermolaus, on that occasion, escaped death with two other priests, Hermippas and Thermocrates. Hermolaus baptized Saint Pantaleon with whom he was brought to trial, tortured and finally beheaded. Hermippas and Thermocrates suffered with them and all were crowned with the wreaths of victory and glory in the Kingdom of Christ. They honorably suffered about the year 304 A.D.

2. THE VENERABLE FEMALE MARTYR PARASCEVA [PARASCEVE]

Parasceva was born in Rome of Christian parents and from her youth was instructed in the Faith of Christ. With great fervence, St. Parasceva endeavored to fulfill all the commandments of God in her life. Believing strongly and living according to her faith, Parasceva directed others on the path [of salvation] with the help of the True Faith and pious living. When her parents died Parasceva distributed all of her property to the poor and was tonsured a nun. As a nun she preached the Faith of Christ with an even greater zeal, not hiding from anyone, even though at that time the Roman authorities bloodily persecuted the Faith of Christ. First the pernicious Jews accused St. Parasceva of preaching the prohibited Faith. She was brought to trial before Emperor Antoninus. All the flatteries of the emperor did not help in the least to cause her to waver in the Faith. They then subjected her to fiery torments and placed a red-hot helmet on her head. The Lord miraculously saved her and Parasceva was delivered and left Rome. She again traveled from city to city to convert the pagan people there to the True Faith. In two more cities she was brought before princes and judges and was tortured for her Lord, at the same time working great miracles and by the power of God quickly recuperated from her pains and wounds. The pagans, as always, ascribed her miracles to magic and her power of recovery to the mercy of their gods. St. Parasceva once said to the prince who tortured her: "It is not your gods, O prince, who healed me but my Christ the True God." Finally Prince Tarasius beheaded her. Thus this saint gloriously ended her fruitful life. Her relics were later translated to Constantinople. She suffered honorably for Christ in the second century.

3. THE VENERABLE MOSES OF URGIN

He was at the court of the young Russian Prince Boris. When the godless Svyatopolk murdered Boris, Moses escaped and fled to Kiev. A little later he was taken to Poland as a slave by the Polish King Boleslav and there was sold for a thousand gold coins to a young and depraved widow, the wife of one of Boleslav's commanders who was slain. This wicked woman tempted Moses to commit adultery but Moses would not be tempted for he vowed to live chastely before the Lord. She then suggested marriage to him but he rejected that also. Moses secretly received the monastic tonsure from an Athonite monk and he appeared before the lady in the monastic habit. She bound him, ordered that he be flogged and to have his private organ severed. This unsuccessful seduction by this shameful woman lasted for five years - five years of pain and torture! However, King Boleslav was slain unexpectedly in an uprising during which this woman was also killed. Then Moses was free to go to Kiev where, at the monastery of St. Anthony, he devoted his life to prayer and silence. Completely conquering the shameful vice in himself, Moses assisted many to also be saved from it. His holy relics helped many (St. John, the much suffering July 8). After ten years of silence in the Monastery of the Caves, St. Moses found rest on July 26, 1043 A.D. and took up habitation in the eternal virginal Kingdom of Christ.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT MOSES OF UGRIN
 
Purity before God, Moses vowed,
 
Free in the spirit, inspite of being shackled,
 
Replied to the rich and loathsome woman,
 
Shackled by passion, slave to debauchery:
 
What man until now, listening to a woman
 
Saved his soul conquered by passions?
 
Because of a woman, Adam had been expelled from Paradise
 
Because of Delilah, Samson was destroyed without splendor,
 
Solomon the all-wise, by a woman was seduced,
 
To idolatrous stupidity was lowered
 
Herod's head, by a woman was charmed,
 
The honorable head of the Forerunner John, beheaded.
 
God's servant I am O woman, leave me alone,
 
And for yourself, seek a companion throughout the world.
 
To your will, I will not submit,
 
With you in a bond, I see no happiness.
 
To be pure in body, this is a necessity O woman,
 
Before the Lord, that is my holy obligation.
 
Neither flattery, nor gold, nor your authority all
 
Neither mind nor body will lead me astray.
 
The Lord is Almighty, help me, He will
 
That my vows I will be able to honorably keep:
 
God is the God of purity, pure He created us
 
He wants us to be pure and, as pure, He saves us,
 
To a Christian O woman, purity is glory.
 
REFLECTION

Not one passion is conquered without a great struggle. The Holy Fathers have referred to adulterous passion as death. When the adulterer is saved from an adulterous passion it is as though he resurrected from the dead. For those who live in the world the passion of adultery is inflamed principally by seeing and for those who live a life of asceticism in the wilderness that passion is inflamed by thoughts and by imagination. Saint Sarah, a great female ascetic, was tortured by the insane passion of adultery for thirty years. She always defeated it by prayer and drove it away from her. At one time, the foul insanity of adultery came to her in bodily form and said to her: "Sarah, you have defeated me!" Sarah humbly answered: "I have not defeated you but the Lord Christ has defeated you." From that time on, the thought of adultery left her forever. When Saint Pimen was asked how can a man struggle against the adulterous insanity, he replied: "If man surpresses his stomach and tongue then he will be able to rule over himself." St. Anthony said that there exists three kinds of movements in the body: "First, the natural movement, second, unrestrained in food, and third, from the demons." Again, others have said that the vice of adultery is strengthened by anger and pride. However, all agree that along with man's sobriety and effort the help of God is necessary in order that this repulsive passion be uprooted completely. And that it is possible for man to preserve himself in purity, witness, among many others, St. Moses of Urgin, who lived fifty years in the world and ten years in the monastery, altogether a total of sixty years in completely virginal purity.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous victory over the Amorites (Joshua 24):

1. How God sent hornets against the Amorites and they all became confused and were defeated by the Israelites;

2. How mighty is the Lord God and how, with the help of little things, He destroys the prideful unjust ones.

HOMILY

About the misfortune of those who come to Christ and then apostatize from Him

"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2 Peter 2:20).

Brethren, bright is the sun but brighter still are the words of the apostle. Brethren, the sun illumines bodies but it cannot illumine souls, while the apostolic words illumine the souls. The apostle clearly sees the heights and depths of a soul and he illumines it for us out of fervent love, in order to lead us on the pure path of salvation. In a few words, he gives us two great instructions. The first instruction: one cannot flee from the impurity of this world in any other way except through the knowledge of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. First of all, without knowledge of the Lord Jesus one is unable to see or to know the impurity of this world; and second, man is unable to be cleansed from this impurity without the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The second instruction: when man flees from the impurity of this world by knowing the Lord Jesus and, again, becomes entangled in it, then for him "the latter end is worse than the beginning." For knowing the light, he again returns into the darkness and the darkness becomes even darker, and, recognizing justice, he again sinks into injustice and his punishment is more severe; and recognizing holiness he again falls into beastliness and the animal is still more furious. The holy apostle does not hesitate to equate this turning back with a dog who returns to his own vomit and with the sow, who having been washed returns to wallow in the mire.

Whoever recognized the Lord Jesus Christ also recognized all that is needed for his salvation; he received a binocular to see the impurity, lies and injustice and received the power to flee from all of that. Therefore let him not turn back so that eternal death does not swallow him up. Let him not tempt God countless times. For if God was quick to save him the first time He will be slower the second time, and even slower the third time. My brethren, illuminating are the apostolic words.

O Lord Jesus, Savior, Almighty and All-Good, do not depart from us in the hours of our weaknesses and deliver us when the impurities of this world again draw us to themselves.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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