Prologue of Ohrid

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August 17

1. THE HOLY MARTYR MYRON, THE PRESBYTER

Myron was a priest in the town of Achaia of wealthy and prominent origin and by nature was kind and meek, both a lover of God and of man. During the reign of Emperor Decius and, on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, pagans charged into the church, dragged Myron out from the service and subjected him to torture. During the time of torture in the fire, an angel appeared to him and encouraged him. After that, they began to cut his skin in strips from his head to his feet. The martyr grabbed one such strip of his skin and, with it, struck the torturer - the judge - on the face. The judge Antipater, as though possessed, took a sword and killed himself. Finally, they took Myron to the city of Cyzicus and there slew him with the sword in the year 250 A.D.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR PATROCLUS

Patroclus was a citizen of the city of Trychasia, present day Troyes in France [Gaul]. He inherited great wealth from his parents and, from this, as a true Christian, performed daily acts of mercy for the less fortunate while he himself lived a life of mortification taking food only once a day, after the setting of the sun. Because of his sanctity of life, the Lord granted Patroclus the power of healing and he was known throughout as a miracle-worker. Emperor Aurelian, arriving in Gaul, ordered that Patroclus be brought before him. St. Patroclus proclaimed his faith in Christ before the emperor and did not conceal anything. "O Emperor, if you desire something of my wealth, I will give it to you, for I see you as poor," said St. Patroclus to the emperor. To that, the emperor replied: "How is it that you call me, the emperor, poor who has countless riches? St. Patroclus then said: "You have only transient earthly treasures but you are poor for you are not in possession of yourself nor do you possess the Faith of Christ in your heart." He was condemned to death and handed over to the soldiers to be taken to a bog near a river to be slain there and to leave his body in the mud. But the saint of God prayed to God that his body not remain in the mud and by the power of God he suddenly became invisible to the soldiers and was translated to the other side of the river. After a long search, the soldiers found him and slew him on a dry spot. Two beggars, to whom Patroclus often gave alms, came along this road, recognized the body of their benefactor and buried it with honors.

3. THE VENERABLE ELIJAH OF CALABRIA [ITALY]

Elijah was a Greek by descent and the abbot of the monastery Mellicia in Calabria in southern Italy. During the time of iconoclasm in the east, many eastern monks fled to Calabria with icons. In time, the monastic life was spread widely throughout Calabria. The Calabrian monks were distinguished by their great learning and austerity of life. At one time, there were so many Orthodox monasteries and monks in Calabria that Calabria was compared with Egypt of old. Later, through the centuries, Orthodox Calabria fell under the authority of the Archbishopric of Ohrid. Venerable Elijah died in Thessalonica in the year 903 A.D.

4. THE VENERABLE OLYMPIUS, THE ICONOGRAPHER OF THE MONASTERY OF THE CAVES IN KIEV

Portraying the images [faces] of the saints on wood, Olympius imitated even their good works in his own soul. He healed a man of leprosy, saw an angel of God and, in his old age, died peacefully in the Lord in the year 1114 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
THE HOLY MARTYR PATROCLUS
 
Patroclus, before the emperor stood erect,
 
Christ the God, without fear, glorified;
 
The emperor asked him and Patroclus says:
 
The wealthy, to the poor should give,
 
I am wealthy and you O emperor, are poor,
 
Wealth I possess, only you ask,
 
Am I poor, who rules the world,
 
And wealthy are you, with that cursed Faith?
 
Wealthy I am, Patroclus repeats,
 
In the fire, my wealth does not burn,
 
From ages to ages, my wealth is,
 
In heaven, my wealth awaits me.
 
What kind of wealth! You are in my hands!
 
The emperor cried out: To torture will I hand you over,
 
Hand me over, O emperor, Patroclus replied,
 
God will reward me my sufferings.
 
Torture the body; the body is for torture,
 
Into the hands of the Lord, the spirit I give.
 
In the Christian, the spirit is free
 
As in every Christian soldier;
 
For me, glory and victory awaits
 
And you O emperor, shame and misfortune,
 
Upon me, quickly heap tortures
 
So that my wreath does not fade, O emperor.
 
REFLECTION

The Lord does not allow His faithful servants to be shamed. It often happened that the martyrs of Christ, ridiculed and mocked before the courts, unexpectedly performed a miracle, which instilled fear in the unbelievers. Either the idols fell or thunder destroyed the temples of the heathen or an unexpected downpour of rain extinguished the fire prepared for their burning or the torturers beat themselves with stones and rods and so forth. Thus, Antipater, the torturer of St. Myron, during the suffering of this man of God suddenly went insane and killed himself. St. Olympius, the icongrapher, was already at the end of his life when he received an order from a man to paint [write] the icon of the Dormition [the Falling Asleep The Assumption] of the Most-holy Theotokos. As the feast was approaching, this man came several times to see whether the icon was completed. But the icon was not even begun, not even on the eve of the Feast of the Dormition itself when the icon was supposed to have been placed in the church. When this man returned home completely saddened, at once there appeared a young man in Olympius' cell who immediately sat down and began to write the icon. He worked very quickly and very expertly. When the icon was completed, it shone like the sun. Showing the icon to the astonished Olympius, the young man took the icon and brought it to the church for which it had been ordered. The next day, that man who had ordered the icon went to the church and, to his great surprise, saw the icon in its place. Then that man came to the monastery and, with the abbot, entered Olympius' cell. "How and who wrote the icon of this man?" asked the abbot. The ailing Olympius replied: "An angel wrote it, and he is now standing here to take me away." And with that, he gave up the spirit.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the punishment of God upon Saul because of his disobedience (1 Samuel 15 [1 Kings 15]):

1. How God commanded Saul not to spare the Amalekites nor to take any of their livestock;

2. How Saul spared Agag, the Amalekite King, and allowed the best of the enemies livestock to be taken;

3. How Samuel informed Saul that God rejected him because of his disobedience and because of his arbitrary offering of the sacrifice to God without a priest.

HOMILY

About the Spirit-bearing divine Child

"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2).

The Holy Spirit of God does not separate from the Father nor does it separate from the Son either, nor does the Father separate from the Son and the Spirit, nor does the Son separate from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit prophesied about the Son through the prophets, the Holy Spirit overshadowed the All-holy Virgin and prepared her for the birth of the Son of God, the Holy Spirit inseparably stood over the Son during the entire time of His visit to the world in the body. The Spirit of Wisdom the Spirit is the vision of heavenly mysteries; The Spirit of Understanding the Spirit is the comprehending of the ties of the visible and invisible world; The Spirit of Counsel the Spirit is the separation of good from evil; The Spirit of Power [Might] the Spirit is the authority over created nature; The Spirit of Knowledge the Spirit is the knowledge of the essence of created beings; The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord the Spirit is the recognizing of the divine power over both worlds and submission to the will of God. Whoever among men had unto himself this fullness of riches of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? No one, ever. Only the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts and gives them to men, some to this one and some to another. But, the whole of the undivided fullness of His gifts shines in the Son of God.

Why did the Lord Jesus need to have the fear of God when He Himself is God? As God, He did not have the fear of God but as a man had the fear of God for the sake of an example to us. Just as He fasted, watched and labored as a man for the sake of teaching men, so He feared God as a man for the sake of teaching men. What is more curable for men infected with sin than the fear of God? He, as one Who was healthy had to take unto Himself the medicine for sin so that He could encourage us who are sick to take those medicines. Does not a parent do the same thing with sick children who are afraid to take the prescribed medicine?

O Triune and Eternal God before Whom all the heavenly hosts bow down singing the wondrous hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth receive our worship also and save us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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