Prologue of Ohrid

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August 10

1. THE HOLY MARTYRS LAWRENCE AND SIXTUS, POPE OF ROME, AND OTHERS WITH THEM

When Pope Stephen was slain (August 2), then St. Sixtus, who was an Athenian by birth, was appointed in his place. At first, Sixtus was a philosopher and, after that, a Christian. At that time, the Bishops of Rome were slain one after the other, so that, to become Bishop of Rome meant to be taken out to death. Emperor Decius was determined to destroy Christianity and Pope Sixtus was quickly brought to trial with two of his deacons, Felicicius and Agapitus. As they were led to prison, Lawrence said to the pope: "Where are you going Father, without your son? Where, O bishop, without your Archdeacon?" The pope consoled him, prophesying to Lawrence that he will undergo even greater tortures for Christ and that he [Lawrence] will shortly follow him [Sixtus]. And indeed, as soon as they had beheaded Sixtus and his two deacons, Lawrence was apprehended. Beforehand, Lawrence had placed all of his affairs and the affairs of the church in order. As treasurer and Oikonomos [steward] of the church, he removed all of the church's valuables to the home of the widower, Cyriacus. On that occasion, he healed Cyriacus of a terrible head pain by the touch of his hand and restored the sight of a blind man, Crescention. Thrown into prison, even there Lawrence healed Lucillus, a prisoner of many years, of blindness and after that baptized him. Witnessing this, Hippolytus, the jailer, was also baptized, and later suffered for Christ (August 13). Since Lawrence did not want to deny Christ but, on the contrary, advised Emperor Decius to reject his false gods, he was beaten on the face with stones and beaten on his entire body with a scorpion [a whip, curved at the end like the tail of a scorpion], i.e., by a chain with sharp teeth. Romanus, a soldier present at the torture, believed in Christ and was immediately beheaded. Finally, they placed Lawrence naked on a gridiron and lighted a fire. Roasting in the fire, St. Lawrence thanked God and mocked the emperor for his paganism. After Lawrence gave up his pure and heroic soul to God, his body was removed at night by Hippolytus and taken, at first, to the home of Cyriacus and afterwards to a cave where Hippolytus honorably buried him. St. Lawrence, with the others, suffered in the year 258 A.D.

2. SAINT HIRON

Hiron was a Christian philosopher. He is mentioned by St. Gregory the Theologian in his books. He died peacefully and took up habitation with the Lord.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
THE HOLY MARTYR, SAINT LAWRENCE
 
Lawrence, the evil emperor asks:
 
"Where are you from? What is your rank?
 
Lawrence, to the emperor replies:
 
"From Spain, educated in Rome,
 
And of the One God, a servant, I am."
 
"Of the Church's treasure, are you the guardian?"
 
"Of that good treasure, I am, O emperor."
 
Give us the treasure and your life, save!
 
The treasure of the Church, in heaven, is,
 
In the Lord Jesus, believe ye also,
 
And, of that treasure, an heir, you will be."
 
Lawrence, deny Christ!
 
"You, O Emperor, deny the idols!"
 
And the Emperor became infuriated and to the servants motioned,
 
Lawrence, they beat and crushed,
 
And on a fiery gridiron, they placed him.
 
This fire to me, it is cool,
 
And [the fire] for you in the midst of Hades is prepared!
 
Lawrence, deny Christ!
 
Are you not sorry, to die young?
 
Christ, on the Cross, suffered for me,
 
For me, He died; I, for Him, die
 
One side of the body, entirely burned,
 
Lawrence, to the executioners, speaks:
 
Half of the body is roasted,
 
Turn it over, behold food for you,
 
Turn it over, let the other side roast!
 
This said, he flew away
 
Into the sweet heavenly mansions.
 
REFLECTION

How can we overcome the enmity of our enemies? By renunciation, meekness and prayer. Renunciation in everything, except in faith and purity of life, meekness and prayer, always and always. St. Ambrose writes: "This is the weapon of the righteous ones that in retreating they conquer, just as the skillful archers have the custom that by fleeing, they shoot those stronger than themselves." A brother was offended by his friend but, nevertheless, desiring peace with him, went to him to be reconciled. However, his friend did not even want to open the door for him and scolding him from within, chased him away from his house. The brother then complained to a spiritual father who said to him: "Going to your friend to be reconciled, all along the way, you condemned him in your thoughts and justified yourself. I counsel you, even though your friend sinned against you, establish the thought in yourself that you have sinned against him and, in this manner, go to him and in your thoughts justify him and condemn yourself." Thus, the brother proceeded. And what happened? Just as the brother approached the house of his friend, he opened wide the door, ran up to him and embraced the offended brother and made peace with him.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the misery, which overcame the Philistines because of the captured Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 5:6 [1 Kings 5:6]):

1. How the people were afflicted with emerods [hemorrhoids] and mice in the crops wherever the Philistines set down the Ark of the Covenant;

2. How the frightened Philistines themselves returned the Ark of the Covenant to the land of Israel;

3. How the sacred thing of God punishes those who keep it [the Ark] in an unclean land of idols or in a heart, unclean by passions.

HOMILY

About the weakness of sinful ones

"As for my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them" (Isaiah 3:12).

All that is of God is most beautiful and most wise. Everything created by God travels obediently along the path for which God has ordained it. The stars move, animals live and the atmospheric currents conform - all according to the order established by God. Only man, the most intelligent creature, frequently falls into ignorance and leaving the path of God, invents new paths according to his thinking. Because of that, it could happen that instead of the elders, children become leaders and instead of the husbands, wives begin to rule. When children rule, oppression reigns, and when women rule, disorder usually reigns. When this is permitted by God, because this does not occur without the sin of a people and without the permission of God, then the people find themselves under punishment for their sins, in the same way as when war comes and the enemy subdues the land, for all oppression is war and every disorder is a punishment for sin.

Just as oppression and disorder are able to reign in a nation so, in the same way, they are able to reign in the soul of man. Immature and impious thoughts represent children, and physical sensual theorizing represent women. When immature and impious thoughts prevail, then they oppress man and drag him from evil to evil as when children judge; and when physical theorizing prevails over the spiritual, masculine wisdom, which is from God, then they rule over man as an evil woman. Under "women," the prophet understands not only females, but also men with women's weaknesses.

So that children's ignorance and women's whims do not overtake man, or a nation, it is necessary to strictly adhere to the law of God, prescribed by God for men as all created things adhere to the law of God, prescribed for them by God.

O Lord, Creator and our Lawgiver, illumine us and strengthen us. Illumine us with the grace of the Spirit that we may always know Your law and strengthen us with the power of the Spirit to always adhere to Your law.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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