Prologue of Ohrid

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August 20

1. THE HOLY PROPHET SAMUEL

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 the noble Joseph was born [Joseph of Arimathea]. The barren Hannah besought Samuel from God through weeping and dedicated him to God when he was three years of age. Living in Shiloh near the Ark of the Covenant, Samuel, in his twelfth year, had a true revelation from God concerning the punishments which were pending before 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, he fell dead to the ground and expired in the ninety-eighth year of his life. The same thing occurred to his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas. From then on and for twenty years the Israelites were the slaves of the Philistines. After this period of time, God sent Samuel to the people to preach repentance if they wished to be saved from their enemies. The people repented and rejected the foreign idols that they served and recognized Samuel as a prophet, priest and judge. Then Samuel set out with an army against the Philistines and with God's help confused and defeated them and liberated the land and the people. After that, Samuel peacefully judged his people until old age. Seeing him in old age, the people asked him to install a king for them in his place. In vain Samuel tried to turn the people away from this, saying to them that God is their only King but the people stood by their demands. Even though this demand was not pleasing to God, God commanded Samuel to annoint Saul, the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin, as their king. Saul reigned for a short time only and God rejected Saul because of his impudence and disobedience and 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.

2. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR PHILIP, BISHOP OF HERAKLION, WITH SEVERUS, THE PRESBYTER, AND HERMES, THE DEACON

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

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY PROPHET SAMUEL

Samuel the righteous, servant of the Living God,

Of his people, beloved judge,

He respected 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 God repented.

Priest and prophet and a righteous judge,

In three ways, Samuel glorified God.

With his every word, with his every deed,

Through labor and prayer and sacrifices and food

With his entire being, God he served,

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

For his people, no one is going to do good,

One who from the law of God departs

Who, to himself and to the people listen and not God,

Into the depth of the bottomless abyss will fall.

As Saul fell and others with him

All accomplices of the sin of the people.

Only a slave of God can a ruler be

And benefit his people eternally

This Samuel teaches in deeds and in words,

Throughout the many centuries, this teaching echoes.

REFLECTION

Repent before death closes the door of your life and opens the door of judgement. Repent before death and since you do not know the hour of death, repent today, even now, and cease to repeat your sin. Thus, St. Ephrem 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 on 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 becomes decay 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, filled with 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 Lord our 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."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the wondrous victory of David over Goliath (1 Samuel 17 1 Kings 17):

1. How Goliath, frightful in body, armor and weapon 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 "the battle is the Lord's" (1 Samuel 17:47 1 Kings 17:47), a battle of believers against unbelievers.

HOMILY

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).

O how changeable is the heart of man! But, of all of his changes, one is more shameful than the most shameful and that is: when a believer becomes an unbeliever. Of all his changes, one is more glorious than the most glorious and that is: when the unbeliever converts and becomes a believer. The first change occurred with the Israelites who killed Christ and the other occurred with the Egyptians who believed in Christ. At one time, Egypt was the greatest persecutor of those who believed in the one, living God, for at one time, the Egyptians had many lifeless gods, idols and things that they worshipped, fables and soothsayers by which they were deceived. But behold what the prophet fortells! What a wonderful vision! The Egyptians will recognize the one and the living Lord at the time when the Lord appears in the flesh among mankind. Idols will be destroyed, the temples of the demons and animals will be overthrown and the altar of oblation of the Living and one God will be established and raised up. The Bloodless Sacrifice will be offered in place of the bloody sacrifice and the rational in place of the irrational. Hundreds and thousands of monks will take upon themselves the vows of poverty, obedience, fasting, and prayer out of love for the Lord. The greatest ascetics will appear in this once darkened Egypt; the bravest martyrs for Christ the Lord; the most enlightened minds; the most discerning miracle-workers. O, what a wonderful vision! And how wonderful is the realization of that vision! St. Chrysostom writes: "Neither the sun, with its multitude of stars, is not as glowing as much as the wilderness of Egypt with all of its monks." All was realized in truth, that was foreseen and foretold by Isaiah, the son of Amos, the discerning and true prophet.

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 You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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