Prologue of Ohrid

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August 8

1. SAINT EMILIAN THE CONFESSOR, BISHOP OF CYZICUS

Emilian served as bishop in Cyzicus during the reign of the nefarious Emperor Leo the Armenian, the iconoclast. Since he did not want to submit to the decrees of the emperor concerning the removal of icons from the churches, Emilian and other Orthodox bishops were banished into exile. He spent five years in exile, enduring much pain and humiliation for the sake of Christ. Emilian died in they year 820 A.D. and took up habitation among the citizens of heaven.

2. SAINT MYRON, MIRACLE-WORKER AND BISHOP OF CRETE

At first, Myron was married and engaged in farming. Myron, gladly and abundantly distributed the fruits of his land to needy people. At one time, he encountered unknown thieves stealing wheat from his threshing floor. Not telling them who he was, St. Myron helped the thieves fill the sacks, lift them on their backs and to escape. Because of his exceptional virtues, Myron was ordained a presbyter and after that consecrated a bishop. He was a great miracle-worker and performed many good and mighty works in the name of the Lord Jesus. Myron died about the year 350 A.D. in the hundredth year of his life.

3. THE VENERABLE GREGORY SINAITE

Gregory is called Sinaite because he received the monastic tonsure on Mount Sinai. During the reign of Emperor Andronicus Palaeologus, about the year 1330 A.D., he arrived at Mt. Athos to visit the monasteries and to inquire about the practice of mental prayer and contemplation. However, these two forms of spiritual works [exercises], at that time, were almost unknown among the holy Athonites. The only one who knew this and practiced it to perfection was St. Maximus of Kapsokalyvia. Gregory spread his teaching about mental prayer throughout all the cells and monasteries on Mt. Athos. His distinguished disciple was Kallistos, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who wrote the biography of St. Gregory. After that, Gregory crossed over to Macedonia and to the other regions of the Balkans and established communities in which the monks practiced mental prayer. Thus, he assisted many to be immersed in prayer and to be saved. His writings about mental prayer and asceticism can be found in the book "Dobrotoljublja: The Philokalia." Among other things, he wrote the refrains to the Holy Trinity, "It is meet and right," which is sung at the Midnight Service of the Resurrection. Gregory ranks among the most eminent ascetics and spiritual teachers of the Balkans. He died peacefully after a long and laborious life and took up habitation in the Kingdom of God.

4. THE HOLY NEO-MARTYRS TRIANDAPHYLLOS AND SPASO

Triandaphyllos was born in Zagora and Spaso was born in Radoviste in the Diocese of Strumica. They were both Slavs. Both were young and simple men. But their love for Christ was more precious to them than this world or this life. They gave their lives and did not betray Christ. They suffered at the hands of the Turks for the Faith of Christ: Triandaphyllos in Constantinople in the year 1680 A.D. and Spaso in Thessalonica in the year 1794 A.D.

5. THE HOLY MARTYR GORMIZDAS

Gormizdas was a nobleman at the court of the Persian Emperor Yezdegeherd. Since he chose not to deny Christ, the emperor saddened Gormizdas by confiscating his rank and property and sent him to tend livestock. The emperor hoped that Gormizdas would quickly long for his rank and property and that he would worship the idols. However, the king was fooled. Gormizdas peacefully tended the livestock and kept his faith. For that, the emperor subjected him to cruel tortures, which only succeeded to exhaust the body of Christ's martyr but was unable to alter his spirit. Finally, Gormizdas was slain in the year 418 A.D. immediately after the martyrdom of St. Abdus the bishop (March 31). Gormizdas was martyred on earth and glorified in heaven.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT GREGORY SINAITE
 
Sinaite, the all-wise one, taught the monks,
 
And, by his example, confirmed his teachings:
 
Passionlessness, that is the Promised Land,
 
By the Spirit, the passionless soul illumined.
 
Without any thoughts, man then becomes
 
When, with prayer, his mind rests in the heart.
 
Of all passions, thoughts are sinful forerunners,
 
Which, in the demonic authority, keeps the soul.
 
Sick people are we; for us, the physician medicine prepared,
 
To be healed, to be healthy.
 
The Name of Jesus, in your heart, speaks,
 
It will, as a fire, consume passions,
 
Let that powerful name, with heavenly radiance
 
In your heart move, with breathing.
 
If, in your heart, you do not have Jesus the Lord
 
All other mortifications, remain as water.
 
Only Jesus inside me is able
 
The water of my being, into wine to convert.
 
As in a nest, your whole mind, in the heart place,
 
And then glorify Jesus, by ceaseless prayer.
 
O, Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner!
 
Let the prayer be slow; not hurried -
 
Until the heart, from prayer, bursts into flame -
 
Then, the mind, heaven sees and on earth, remains not.
 
REFLECTION

Moses spoke to the sons of Israel: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose lifeā€¦that you may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19). There are some decisive moments in the life of men when, indeed, it is left up to man to choose between life or death. Judas, in a decisive moment, was corrupted by silver and he chose death, i.e., the sin of avarice [greed]. When the general wanted to elevate Marinus the soldier (August 7) to the rank of an officer (centurion), envious men accused him of being a Christian. The general permitted him only three hours to contemplate and to choose between life or death, i.e., either to deny Christ or to die. Marinus, hearing the words of his superior, went to the local bishop, Theotechnus, and asked him for advice. The bishop led Marinus into the church, stood him before the Gospel and, pointing his hand, at first to the Gospel and after that to the sword which hung from Marinus' waist, said to him: "Choose courageous man, one of these two; either to wear the sword and serve the earthly king temporarily and, after death, be lost eternally, or to become a soldier of the Heavenly King and lay down your life for His Holy Name which is written in this Book and to reign with Him in eternal life." Marinus immediately decided, kissed the Book of the Holy Gospel and departed through death into life eternal.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous appearance of God to the child Samuel (1 Samuel 3 [1 Kings 3]):

1. How one night when Samuel was lying down, the Lord called him three times by name;

2. How the Lord related to Samuel the threat to the House of Eli [Heli] because of the corruptness of the sons of Eli and a threat to all of Israel;

3. How the Lord did not want to appear either to Eli, the high priest or to his sons but rather to Samuel, an innocent child.

HOMILY

About the peace-making of Christ

"And they [the people] shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).

How clearly the prophet sees Christ the Peacemaker! One by one, the prophet points out the dignity of the Savior. First of all, the prophet pointed Him out as the Lawgiver of the new law, a law for all the peoples on earth. After that the prophet pointed out His exaltedness above all heights, earthly and historical. And now, the prophet points Him out as the Peacemaker whose power and love will forge [beat] swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Has this great prophecy about peace been fulfilled? Yes it has, in spite of the fact that wars still exist. Behold, wars among Christian peoples are not the same as wars among pagans. Pagans fought with pride while Christians fight with shame. Pagan faiths inhabited their heaven only with warriors and the Christian Faith promises heaven to the saints. As Christians, by their weakness, repeat certain other pagan sins, so they repeat the sin of waging war. However, God examines the heart and knows with what disposition the pagans sin and with what disposition the Christians sin. The Pharisees denied Christ, Peter also denied Him. But the Pharisees denied Him with unrepentant malice and Peter denied Him in shame and again, confessed Him with repentance.

However, brethren, what can we say concerning the swords and spears of passions by which we kill our souls and the souls of our fellow men? O, when we would beat those swords into plowshares that deeply plow the souls and sow the noble seed of Christ in ourselves! And when we would beat the spears into pruning hooks to harvest the tares in our souls and to burn them! Then the peace of Christ would take up abode in the souls of all of us, just as it abided in the souls of the saints. Who then would even think about war against his neighbors and against neighboring peoples?

O how wondrous is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God!

O Lord, beat the weapons of war in us into instruments of peace by the fire of Your word.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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