Prologue of Ohrid


August 7


Dometius was born in Persia as a pagan during the reign of Emperor Constantine. He became acquainted with the Christian Faith as a young man, abandoned paganism, and was baptized. So much did Dometius love the True Faith that he left every worldly thing and was tonsured a monk in a monastery near the town of Nisibis. He lived for some time among the brethren, and then withdrew to a life of silence with the elder, Archmandrite Urbel (who is said to have not eaten only cooked food for sixty years). Elder Urbel ordained Dometius a deacon, and when he wanted to compel him to receive the rank of a priest, Dometius withdrew to an isolated mountain and settled in a cave. He attained such a high degree of perfection through fasting, prayer, all night vigils and godly-thoughts that he miraculously cured the sick. When Julian the Apostate came to those regions, he heard of Dometius and sent men to seal him up alive in a cave, with two of his disciples. Thus, this saint of God died and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of God in the year 363 A.D.


Or attained great perfection through the greatest asceticism. When he firmly established himself and attained holiness in solitude, he gradually established several monasteries, and was a superb spiritual leader and teacher of many monks. Rufinus, who visited him, describes Or in the following way: "In appearance, he resembled an angel of God--a ninety-year old elder with a long beard, as white as snow. His outward aspect was wonderful. His gaze shone with superhuman radiance." Often he saw the angels of God. He especially endeavored never to speak an untruth. He had great temptations from the demons but overpowered them all, soberly and courageously. He received Holy Communion daily. On one occasion, one of his disciples reminded him that the Feast of the Resurrection had come, and that it should be celebrated. Hearing this, Or came out, raised his hands to heaven and spent three days in prayer without rest. He explained to his disciple: "For the monk, this is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ: to elevate his mind and to unite it with God." He rested in deep old age in about the year 390 A.D.


Marinus was a soldier and Asterius was a Roman senator. At the time of Emperor Gallienus, St. Marinus served as a soldier in Caesarea in Palestine. Marinus was beheaded for the sake of the Christian Faith. Asterius, the senator, also a Christian, was present at his martyrdom. He removed his toga [dolman] and wrapped the body of the martyr in it. He then carried the body on his shoulders and honorably buried it. Seeing this, the pagans beheaded him also. They both died honorably for Christ in about the year 260 A.D.


Since his youth, Poemen was both sickly and desirous of the monastic life. Brought to the Lavra of the Caves in Kiev for healing, he remained there until his death. Poemen prayed to God more for sickness than for health. At night, angels appeared to him and tonsured him a monk. They also informed him that he would be ill until his death and that just before his death he would become healthy. And so it was. Poemen was bedridden for twenty years. He worked miracles during his lifetime, and possessed a rare gift of clairvoyance. Just prior to his death, he rose from the bed completely whole, and immediately prepared a grave for himself. He rested in the Lord in the year 1110 A.D.


Narcissus was beheaded at the time of Antoninus, in the year 213 A.D., being one hundred sixteen years of age.



To the honor and glory of monks,

Chief among monks, Or, the all-wise Abba,

With great labor and many sighs

Of a true monk, reached the perfection.

Give us a word, they once begged him!

"Never tell a lie, speak the truth.

I know a man who never swore,

Never lied, never wished evil to another."

Having replied, the elder was silent.

Then holy Sisoes asked Or:

"Give me, Father, some instruction."

"Live," Or said to him, "as you see me live!"

"Tell me more clearly, how should I see you?

Does every man, a secret in himself, hide?"

Or spoke again: "Behold, to you I speak:

Of all God's creations, myself I consider the worst."

Paul, his disciple, Or taught in this way:

"From every sin you will easily flee,

If only from evil conversation you will flee,

For, from this evil, every other sin sprouts.

To the soul of man, evil conversation is death;

Every good seed in the heart, it smothers.

One more thing will I say, and let it be enough:

All vain thoughts, repel; iniquitous desires, repel;

From material cares, distance yourself,

And, my son, the immaterial you will attain."


Neither concern yourself about the righteous nor envy the sinner. Always remember that the Lord Jesus Christ, by His Resurrection, triumphed over a shameful death--and that Herod, Judas, Nero, Julian the Apostate, Valerian, Leo the Armenian, and other opponents of Christ destroyed their own successes and victories forever, by their shameful deaths. Envious ones slandered St. Narcissus the patriarch, spreading rumors that he had lost his chastity. The innocent Narcissus withdrew into the wilderness. He spent many years in silence and patiently waited for God to do His will. Three patriarchs succeeded him before witnesses came forward to clearly prove his innocence. Then everyone forced him to return from the wilderness to the patriarchal throne. Thus, God justifies the righteous. The bloody Emperor Valerian, with satanic passion, murdered Christians throughout the entire civilized world [Roman Empire]. How did he end his days? He was defeated in battle and enslaved by the Persian king, Sapor. Sapor did not desire to kill him immediately, but used him as a mounting block whenever he mounted a horse. Every day, King Sapor's servants brought Valerian along with the horses, and Sapor enjoyed placing his foot on the neck of the Roman emperor in order to make it easier for him to mount the horse. He who sows evil seed reaps an evil harvest.


To contemplate the mercy of God toward the barren Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1 [also known as 1 Kings 1]):

1. How Hannah was barren, and in her sorrow implored God that she be enabled to bear a son, promising to dedicate him to God;

2. How God heard the prayers of Hannah, and she gave bore a son, and named him Samuel (bidden of God);

3. How Hannah brought Samuel to the Temple and dedicated him to God.


About the new Law from Zion

"For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

The prophet speaks of a new Law and of a new Word. The old Law was given on Sinai; the new Law would come from Zion. The old Law was given through Moses; the new Law would be brought by the Lord Christ Himself. The former was intended in the beginning only for the Jews, and the latter would be for all people--all of mankind. Even though these words of the prophet are clear to us, the Jews could not understand them; nor do they understand them today. The meaning of these words is closed to them because of their stony hearts. To whom do they [the Jews] apply these words? To no one. How do they interpret these words? They do not. They pass by these words as a blind man passes by an open door. If they were able to comprehend these words, would they have acted in the manner they did with the prophet and the prophesied One [Christ]? Would they have sawn Isaiah asunder, and crucified Christ on the Cross?

The Jews considered the Law of Moses to be the one, final Law of God. That is why they were unable to comprehend the prophecy of the new Law from Zion, from the House of David, for David glorified Zion. But if the Jews did not know that the new Law would be revealed through the old Law, we Christians know that we comprehend the old Law through the new. The Jews had a tree without fruit, but we have the tree and the fruit. They had an image without reality, but we have both image and reality. They adhered only to promises (and those they understood incorrectly), but we have the promises and their fulfillment.

O most wealthy Lord, Who has enriched us with Your spiritual Law and Your life-giving Word, You only do we worship, and to You only do we pray. Grant us wisdom and power to live according to Your Law and to uphold Your holy Word, so that we may not become poor before You, Who has made us rich!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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