Prologue of Ohrid

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August 3

1. THE VENERABLES ISAAC [ISAACIUS,] DALMATUS [DALMATIUS] AND FAUST [FAUSTUS]

Venerable Isaac is celebrated again separately on May 30. At first, St. Dalmatus was an officer during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great whom the emperor held in great esteem. When the spirit awakened in him, he despised all earthly things, resigned his rank and took his only son Faust and, with him, went to the community of St. Isaac in the outskirts of Constantinople where they both were tonsured as monks. Dalmatus was completely devoted to a god-pleasing life for which the elder Isaac rejoiced. When Isaac approached the hour of death, he appointed Dalmatus as abbot in his place. Later, this community was named after him - the so-called Dalmatus. Dalmatus devoted himself to fasting, at times for forty days. By fasting he conquered the invisible demonic power. He participated in the Third Ecumenical Council [Ephesus 431 A.D.] and fought against the Nestorian heresy. Pleasing God, he died peacefully in the fifth century. His son Faust supported his father in everything and, after a God-pleasing life, died peacefully in this Dalmatus community.

2. VENERABLE COSMAS, THE EUNUCH

Cosmas was a monk from the Pharan Lavra. He was well versed in Holy Scripture. So much did he value the words of St. Athanasius the Great that he said to his disciples: "Whenever you hear any word from the books of St. Athanasius and, if you have no paper, write it down on your handkerchief." In his old age, Cosmas came to Antioch to Patriarch Gregory (+584 A.D.) and there ended his life. The patriarch ordered that the body of Cosmas be buried in the monastery of the partiarchate. A man frequently came to the grave of Cosmas, honoring the saint and prayed to God there. Asked why he did this, he revealed that he lay paralyzed for twelve years and that St. Cosmas had healed him.

3. VENERABLE ANTHONY, THE ROMAN

Anthony was born in Rome in 1086 A.D. of devout and wealthy parents. At that time, the Roman Church separated from the Eastern Church and all who remained faithful to the Eastern Church were persecuted by the Roman clergy. Among the persecuted was Anthony. He distributed all of his inherited wealth and was tonsured a monk. Anthony lived a life of mortification by standing on a rock in the sea for fourteen months. Meanwhile, the rock separated from its base and by miraculous providence sailed the waters to Novgorod. In Novgorod, Archbishop Nicetas received him kindly and helped him build a church to the Holy Birth-giver of God, later to become a monastery. Anthony lived a long time as the abbot of this monastery and manifested the great power of grace through many miracles. He died peacefully in the year 1146 A.D. and took up habitation in the mansions of the Lord.

4. SAINT SALOME, THE MYRRH-BEARER

Salome was the mother of the Apostles James and John, the wife of Zebedee and the daughter of Joseph, the betrothed of the All-Holy Birth-giver of God. She served the Lord during His earthly life and was deemed worthy to be among the first to proclaim His resurrection.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE VENERABLE ANTHONY OF NOVGOROD

A lifeless rock and a man on the rock,

The turbulent sea, around it foams

Anthony, in God, engrossed

His mind, to God, ceaselessly raised

And prayers, with the heart, ascended.

The rock moved and Anthony remains silent,

Completely in God, about evil, does not suspect,

Frightened are all evils, before a hero

But mostly, before a true monk.

Man, by Providence, is directed

And, through the saints, God glorifies Himself.

Through Anthony, God is glorified,

Anthony, as a star, shown

In the great city of Novgorod,

Where, to the people, a miracle was proclaimed.

Anthony nourished humility,

His mind to God, ceaselessly raised,

Humble soul, to God a sweet sacrifice,

And prayer the incense of true sacrifice,

Anthony, both incense and sacrifice

A dead saint, God never saw

As the discerning saint neither saw God [as dead].

REFLECTION

Holy souls read Holy Scripture with great diligence concentrating on every word and placing themselves before the mirror of the Word of God as before the Dread Judgment. Their diligence was so great in this that some of the ascetics undertook distant journeys in order to come to a spiritual sage who would interpret for them a word or a saying from Holy Scripture. Whenever it was possible, this was accomplished through correspondence. It is from this that a complete collection of the letters of the saints remained [survived] such as those of Saints Basil, Gregory, Chrysostom, Isidore of Pelusium, Nilus of Sinai and many others. One day St. Cosmas pondered on the words of the Lord Christ when He, in the Garden of Gethsemane, asked His disciples whether they had a sword. When His disciples said to Him: "Lord, behold, here are two swords. And He said to them, it is enough" (St. Luke 22:38). Being unable to explain these words himself, St. Cosmas decided to cross over the wilderness to the distant Lavra called Pirga to the illustrious Abba Theophilus to inquire of him. With great difficulty did St. Cosmas succeed to reach his goal. Theophilus explained to him: "The two swords signify the two-fold order of a god-pleasing life: deeds and visions, i.e., labor and awakening of the mind to godly thoughts and prayer. Whoever has both of these, he is perfect."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the ingratitude of the Jews toward God the Deliver and on God's punishment (Judges 13):

1. How the sons of Israel again did that which is wicked before the Lord;

2. How the Lord handed them over into the hands of the Philistines for forty years;

3. How the ungratefulness of a liberated people toward God the Deliver, even today, is punished by bondage under foreigners.

HOMILY

About human ingratitude unseen even among the animals

"The ox knoweth hisowner and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider" (Isaiah 1:3).

The ingratitude of man is most strongly exposed by the gratitude of animals. When the irrational ox knows who his master is and when the ass knows from whose crib it is fed, how then can rational man not know about God, His Creator and Nourisher? The word Israel means "one who sees God." And every rational man should by his rationality be "one who sees God", to know God, to feel the presence of God and to serve God as once did the meek and wonderful Jacob. But when rational man, whose entire dignity is in the knowledge of God, does not know God, i.e., when the "one who sees God" becomes blind toward God, then the dignity of the ox and the ass is raised in dignity above such a man. For an ox, without exception, recognizes his master and the ass, without exception, recognizes the one who feeds him while among men there exists exceptions, i.e., there exist men and, very often leaders of men, who do not recognize their Lord nor their Nourisher. In all of created nature, godlessness is a disease only among men for godliness is the condition of normality and health only for men and not for animals. Thus, godlessness is not the disease of animals but of men; alas, only of men, only they who are destined to be "ones who see God" and who, when they lose their godliness, become poorer than the ox and the ass.

This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the Prophet of God.

O God of meek Jacob, of Israel, enlightened one "who sees God", help us to maintain our human dignity, the dignity of one "who sees God" and that in every day and every hour, we may know and recognize You with gratitude, as our Lord and Nourisher.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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