Prologue of Ohrid

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July 27

1. THE HOLY GREAT MARTYR PANTALEON [PANTELEIMON]

Panteleimon was born in Nicomedia of a Christian mother and a pagan father. His mother was named Eubula and his father Eustorgius. As a young man, he studied the science of medicine. The priest Hermolaus befriended him, and taught him the Christian Faith and baptized him. Panteleimon miraculously cured a blind man whom other doctors had treated in vain; he healed him by the name of Christ and baptized him. The doctors, full of envy, accused Panteleimon of being a Christian, and he went before the Emperor Maximian to stand trial. "He stood before the earthly king in body but in mind he stood before the heavenly King." He freely declared to the emperor that he was a Christian, and in his presence healed a paralytic of his long-standing illness. This miracle drew many pagans to the Christian Faith. The emperor subjected Panteleimon to torture, but the Lord appeared to him on several occasions, and delivered him whole and unharmed. Then Saint Hermolaus, along with Hermippas and Hermocrates suffered. Sentenced to death, Saint Panteleimon knelt in prayer. At that moment, the executioner struck him on the neck with a sword, but i broke as though it were made of wax. The executioner was unable to execute Penteleimon until the saint completed his prayer and gave him permission to do so. His relics possess the ability to heal. Panteleimon was executed under an olive tree which was thereafter adorned with much fruit. "Panteleimon" means "all-merciful," or "all compassionate." The All-merciful God received his righteous soul and glorified him among His great saints. This wonderful martyr suffered honorably for Christ in his youth, on July 27, 304 A.D. Saint Panteleimon is invoked during prayers of the Blessing of Waters and in the Sacrament of Holy Unction, together with Saint Hermolaus and the other unmercenary and wonder-working saints. A most beautiful church dedicated to this saint is located on Holy Mount Athos.

2. SAINT CLEMENT, ARCHBISHOP OF OHRID

Clement was a disciple of Saints Methodius and Cyril. After the death of St. Methodius, Clement, under pressure from the Germans, traveled southward from Moravia. Clement and his companions--Gorazd, Nahum, Sava, and Angelarius (together, they were called "The Five")--crossed the Danube River, where they were guests of Emperor Boris Michael. Following this they came to the region of Ohrid. They first founded a monastery in Belica [Velitsa], where Clement's first episcopal see was located. Afterward, he moved to Ohrid, and from there developed his great arch-pastoral and illuminating activity for the entire region. In Ohrid St. Clement erected a church to Saint Panteleimon. He had many disciples, who copied books in the Slavonic script for the Slavic peoples. Saint Nahum especially assisted him in this work. He worked miracles during his life, and his relics manifest a healing power to the present day. Following great labors and faithful service to God, he reposed peacefully in Ohrid, in the year 916 A.D. His wonder-working relics repose in a church formerly dedicated to the Holy Birth-giver of God (The Theotokos), which was re-dedicated to St. Clement.

3. BLESSED NICHOLAS, THE FOOL-FOR-CHRIST

Nicholas was from Novogrod, and was the son of wealthy parents. He left his wealth, and ran through the streets as a fool-for-Christ, instructing men through his foolishness. His companion in the same ascesis was Blessed Theodore. Once, in the presence of witnesses, they both ran across a river on the surface of the water. Nicholas reposed in the Lord in the year 1392 A.D.

4. THE VENERABLE FEMALE ANTHUSA

After a long solitary ascetic life Anthusa founded a convent of ninety sisters. During the Iconoclastic controversy under Emperor Constantine Copronymos, all ninety nuns were slain, after which the Venerable Anthusa herself died, in the year 759 A.D.

5. THE ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE MARTYRS

They were drowned in the sea of Thrace.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE FIVE (SAINTS CLEMENT,  NAHUM, ANGELARIUS, SAVA, AND GORAZD)

The Five God-pleasers,

Diligent bearers of the honey of the Gospel,

Spread the Faith throughout the wide world,

Until, on the blue lake, they settled--

But with greater effort from there they labored

With the Lord, to sweeten the bitter life of men.

Clement the hierarch, a true servant of God,

Who, much pain and mockery, endured,

At Ohrid, became Christ's banner.

And with him, Saints Nahum, Angelarius, and Sava,

And blessed Gorazd, five in number;

All were men of God, His laborers.

In heaven, for a thousand years, they have lived;

For a thousand years, mankind have they amazed.

In baptizing the people, no labor did they spare,

With glory they were crowned, for God they loved.

The glory of the Five, Ohrid preserves,

As the boast and glory of the Slavs.

REFLECTION

If you give alms to the poor, know that inasmuch as you do good works for your neighbor, so much and more do you do for yourself. St. Anthony says: "Both life and death come to us from our neighbor." St. Peter Damascene writes: "As the poor should give thanks to God and love the rich who do them good, even more should the rich give thanks to God and love the poor; for they are saved by the providence of God, both now and in the future age, because of their alms. For without the poor, they not only cannot attain the salvation of their souls, but they also cannot avoid the temptations of wealth." Alms which are given out of vanity or with disdain are of no benefit. In earlier times, the wealthy would bring gold to the hermits and beg them to accept it. It was a rare occurrence for the hermits to accept alms gladly, and when they did, it was out of compassion for the rich. The most destitute of men received alms out of compassion!

CONTEMPLATION


To contemplate the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Sisera and his forces (Judges 4):

1. How the Lord showed mercy on the enslaved Israelites, hearing their cries, and granted them victory over Sisera;

2. How the prophetess Deborah sent a small force to Mt. Tabor against Sisera, who had nine-hundred chariots of iron and an enormous army;

3. How the forces of Sisera were scattered, and Sisera himself perished.

HOMILY


About the prophesied scoffers of holy things

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts" (2 Peter 3:3).

Does the mirror change and warp when a scoffer stands before it, laughing and scoffing at it? No, the mirror does not change and warp, but remains the same as it was. Brethren, neither does God change or warp when scoffers laugh and scoff at Him. The unchanging and All-pure God knows that the scoffer scoffs at himself. By his scoffing at the holy things of God, the scoffer warps and deforms himself, while the holy things of God remain intact.

Oh, how many scoffers there already are in our own time! Many--too many--but their multitudes are weaker than the One and Only. What is a mass of dust to a strong wind? You have only to wait, armed with patience, until a strong wind blows.

Far too many scoffers have come, who scoff at God's word. They offer their own words in place of God's word; they offer the unholy in place of the holy, the putrid in place of the healthy and the death-dealing in place of the life-creating. The word of God is like a strong wind, and their words are like dust.

The scoffers are already here--far too many--that scoff at God's works, and still many more will arrive. They praise their works above God's works, and say that the works of their hands are better and wiser than the works of God. Their works are thievery; for everything good that they have built, they have built from God's materials, and according to the likeness of God's creations. All the evil that they have built, they have built from the devil's materials, and according to the likeness of the devil's creations. Therefore, of what will the dust boast? In what will the scoffers boast today or tomorrow, when wild asses will trample over their graves with their hooves?

O All-pure Lord, Your words are Holy and Powerful as a strong wind, and Your works are holy, and they are numberless and measureless. O All-pure Lord, save our tongues from scoffing, and save our lives from the scoffers.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

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