Prologue of Ohrid


August 20


Samuel was the fifteenth and last judge of Israel. He lived eleven hundred years before Christ. Samuel was born of the tribe of Levi, of the parents Elkanah and Hannah, in a place called Ramatha (or Arimathea), where noble Joseph would later be born [Joseph of Arimathea]. Through weeping, the barren Hannah besought from God the child Samuel and dedicated him to God when he was three years of age. Living in Shiloh, near the Ark of the Covenant, Samuel had a true revelation from God in his twelfth year, concerning the punishments that were pending for the house of the high priest Eli because of the immorality of his sons Hophni and Phineas. That revelation soon materialized: the Philistines defeated the Israelites, slew both of Eli's sons, and captured the Ark of the Covenant. When the messenger informed Eli of this tragedy, Eli fell to the ground dead, in the ninety-eighth year of his life. The same thing occurred to his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas. For twenty years, the Israelites were the slaves of the Philistines. After that, God sent Samuel to the people to preach repentance--if they desired salvation from their enemies. The people repented, rejected the pagan idols that they served, and recognized Samuel as a prophet, priest and judge. Samuel then set out with an army against the Philistines. With God's help he confused and defeated them, and liberated Israel. After that, Samuel peacefully judged his people until old age. Considering his old age, the people asked him to install a king for them in his place. In vain, Samuel tried to dissuade them from this, saying to them that God was their only true King, but the people stubbornly insisted. Even though this was not pleasing to God, He commanded Samuel to annoint Saul, the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin, as their king. Saul reigned for a short time only, before God rejected Saul because of his impudence and disobedience. God then commanded Samuel to annoint Jesse's son, David, as king in Saul's place. Before his death, Samuel gathered the entire people and bid them farewell. When Samuel died, all of Israel mourned for him, and they buried him honorably in his house at Ramatha.


It seem certain that they were Slavs. They served God in Thrace, and there they were first given over to tortures for Christ. When the pagans rushed to set fire to a Christian church, the brave Philip said to their leaders: "Do you think that God is enclosed within these walls? He lives in our hearts." The church was destroyed, all the books burned, and these clergy were taken to Jedrene where, after imprisonment and tortures, they were thrown half-burnt into the Maritsa River. Thirty-eight other Christians also died with them as martyrs. It is thought that they suffered and died during the reign of Diocletian.



Samuel the Righteous, servant of the Living God,

Of his people, beloved judge:

He revered God--God above all!

The will of God, for him, was a commandment.

By the will of God, the will of the people he corrected,

And, for the people's sins, before Him repented.

Priest and prophet and righteous judge:

In three ways, Samuel glorified God.

With his every word, with his every deed,

In labor and prayer and sacrifice and food,

With his entire being, God he served.

To the rulers of the world, an example he offered:

"For his people, no one can do good,

Who, from the law of God, departs,

Who, to himself and the people listens, but not to God.

To the depth of the bottomless abyss, such a man will lead them,

Just as Saul fell, and others with him--

All fellow partakers of the sin of the people.

A slave to God alone should a ruler be

To benefit his people eternally."

This Samuel taught in deeds and in words,

And throughout the ages, this truth resounds.


Repent before death closes the door of your life and opens the door of judgement. Repent before death, and, because you do not know the hour of death, repent today, even now, and cease to repeat your sin. Thus, St. Ephraim the Syrian prays:

Before the wheel of time stops in my life, have mercy on me;

Before the wind of death blows--and diseases, the heralds of death, appear in my body--have mercy on me;

Before the majestic sun in the heights becomes darkened for me, have mercy on me; and may Your light shine for me from on high, and disperse the dreadful darkness of my mind;

Before the earth returns to earth and decays, and before the destruction of all the features of its beauty, have mercy;

Before my sins deceive me at the Judgment, and shame me before the Judge, have mercy, O Lord, full of gentleness;

Before the hosts come forth, preceding the Son of the King--to assemble our miserable race before the throne of the Judge--have mercy;

Before the voice of the trumpet sounds before Your coming--spare Your servants and have mercy, O our Lord Jesus;

Before You lock Your door before me, O Son of God, and before I become food for the unquenchable fires of Gehenna, have mercy on me.


To contemplate the wondrous victory of David over Goliath (1 Samuel 17 [also known as 1 Kings 17]):

1. How Goliath, fearsome in body, armor and weapons, defied the entire army of Israel;

2. How David, with hope in God, came with a slingshot and stones, and slew Goliath;

3. How David was victorious--for he believed that the battle is the Lord's (1 Samuel 17:47 [1 Kings 17:47]), a battle of believers against unbelievers.


About Egypt's conversion to the Lord

"And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yes, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord and perform it" (Isaiah 19:21).

Oh, how changeable is the heart of man! But of all of his changes, one is the most shameful--and that is when a believer becomes an unbeliever. Then again, of all his changes, one is the most glorious--and that is when the unbeliever converts and becomes a believer. For example, the former occurred with the Israelites who killed Christ; and the latter occurred with the Egyptians who believed in Christ. Egypt was once the greatest persecutor of those who believed in the One Living God, for the Egyptians of that time had many lifeless gods, idols and strange things that they worshipped; and fables and soothsayers by which they were deceived. But behold what the prophet fortells! What a wonderful vision! The Egyptians would recognize the One Living Lord at the time of the Lord's Incarnation among mankind! Idols would be destroyed, the temples of demons and animals would be overthrown, and the altar of oblation to the One Living God would be established and raised up. The Bloodless Sacrifice would be offered in place of the bloody sacrifice, and the rational in place of the irrational. Hundreds and thousands of monks would take upon themselves the vows of poverty, obedience, fasting and prayer out of love for the Lord. The greatest ascetics would appear in this once-darkened Egypt, as would the bravest martyrs for Christ the Lord, and the most enlightened minds, the most clairvoyant miracle-workers. Oh, what a wonderful vision! And how wonderful is the realization of that vision! St. John Chrysostom writes: "The sun, with its multitude of stars, is not as brilliant as the wilderness of Egypt with all of its monks." In truth, all that was foreseen and foretold by Isaiah, the son of Amos, the discerning and true prophet, has been realized.

O compassionate Lord, Who showed mercy on Egypt--the one-time persecutor of Your faithful--and illumined it with the light of truth; illumine us also, and strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit, and by the example of the great Christians of Egypt.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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