Prologue of Ohrid

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August 24

1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR EUTYCHES

Eutyches was one of the lesser apostles and was born in Sebastopol. He was a disciple and imitator of the Apostle John the Theologian and the Apostle Paul. Even though he is not numbered among the seventy apostles, nevertheless, he is called an apostle because he was a disciple of the great apostles and, because in his evangelical service, he displayed true apostolic zeal. Consecrated a missionary bishop, St. Eutyches traveled much, having, an angel as his companion. In prison, he received heavenly bread from an angel. When his body was scrapped with a serrated iron rod, blood flowed from him with unusual fragrant myrrh. He was thrown into a fire and before wild beasts and finally beheaded with a sword in Sebastopol.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR TATION

By descent, Tation was from Mantinaeas near Claudioupolis in Bithnyia. He suffered at the time of Diocletian. After great tortures he was buried alive and thus gave up his holy soul to God.

3. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR SYRA

Syra was a kinswoman of St. Mary Golinduc (July 12). She was a Persian from the town of Hirhaselevkosa and the daughter of a eminent fire-worshipping pagan priest. Reared in paganism, the virgin Syra learned of Christ from poor Christian women and her heart became inflamed with love for the Lord. During an illness and while she was yet unbaptized, Syra sought dust from the church of a Christian priest but the priest refused for she was yet unbaptized. Then, with great faith, she touched the vestments of the priest and was healed. That miraculous healing confirmed her even more in the Faith of Christ. But her soul-less father handed her over to harsh tortures during which she received courage and comfort from heavenly visions. She was strangled with a rope by force and then drowned in the year 558 A.D. during the time of the Persian Emperor Chozroesi I at the age of eighteen. And so this holy virgin gloriously finished her earthly journey and took up habitation in the heavenly angelic habitation.

4. VENERABLE ARSENIUS OF KOMEL

Arsenius was born in Moscow of noble birth. As a youth he received monasticism in the monastery of St. Sergius of Radonez. As an exemplary monk, Arsenius was elected abbot but he yearned for prayerful solitude and withdrew to the forest of Komel where, he lived a life of asceticism until his death, struggling bravely with great temptations of the demons. He rested in the Lord in the year 1550 A.D.

5. SAINT GREGORY LIMNIOTES (OF THE LAKE)

Gregory was a confessor and a great ascetic of Olympus. He died at the age of ninety-five at the time of the Iconoclasts, 716 A.D. *

* In the great Greek Synaxarion, St. Dionysius, the Archbishop of Aegina who died in 1624 A.D. is also mentioned and from whose relics numerous miracles were manifested.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR SYRA

As young as the dew but, in wisdom, old

Rich in faith, hope and meekness,

Syra the Persian, a model Christian,

To God prayed, at night before dawn;

By prayers, Syra, her soul rejoiced,

By prayers she, her soul enriched,

At the father's hearth, in darkness and sorrow,

In grief and blood of a combatant field,

By prayers, Syra her heart rejoiced.

Of the peace of Christ, joyful and full.

Against Syra, kingdom and pagan priests were,

And for Syra, Christ and the honorably clergy.

In the dungeon dark, at prayer vigilant,

In a wondrous light, Syra glowed.

That is the light of Paradise, darkened by sin.

And returned to the faithful, by the Cross of Christ.

Whoever the Cross takes upon himself, that light receives,

From the light of the soul, the face also glows:

Syra, as a true star shown,

And through death, to the bosom of Christ hurried.

REFLECTION

If you were to ask many people why they do not go to Church to pray, they will generally answer you: I have no time, I have to work! Just look at those people who only work and do not go to Church, placing their trust only in their work and compare them with those who divide their time between work and prayer and you will quickly be convinced that the latter are more well off and, what is more important, they are more satisfied. It is said about two neighboring tailors how unequal they were according to their work and prayer and according to their wealth and satisfaction. One of them had a large family and the other was a bachelor. The first had the habit of going to church every morning for prayer and the bachelor never went to church. Not only did the first work less but was even less a skillful master than the other. He had enough of everything and the other lacked everything. The first one asked the other how is it that he has everything although he works less? The one who prays to God [Bogomoljac a devout person] responded that he attends church every day and, along the way, finds lost gold and he invited his neighbor, the bachelor, to go with him to prayer and they will share the discovered gold. Both neighbors began to attend church regularly and soon both became equal in abundance as well as in satisfaction. Naturally, they found no gold along the way but the blessing of God multiplies the abundance of true devout men. Those who: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" (St. Matthew 6:31), God adds and multiplies all that is necessary for their physical life.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the providence of God which protected David from falling into the hands of Saul (1 Samuel 23 1 Kings 23):

1. How Saul came to besiege the city of Keliah [Celia] where David was but God revealed this to David and David fled beforehand;

2. How Saul almost captured David in Maon but word came to Saul that the Philistines had attacked the land;

3. How the Lord always watches over the righteous and how He confounds the plans of the unrighteous.

HOMILY

About the character of Christ as foretold Isaiah

"He shall not cry nor lift up nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth" (Isaiah 42:2-3).

Who had more right than the Lord, the Son of God, to raise His voice at the lawless ones in His vineyard on earth? Who had a greater right to reprimand sinners who scorn God and God's law? O sweet meekness, unseen among men! O pure mountain water which flows down from the heights and silently washes the impurity of the habitations of men! Many pagans think that they would believe in Christ if they could hear from Him, not kind words, but thundering words. But let the pagans say which is better, thunderous words with shouting and roaring which pass without effect as smoke is chased by the wind or kind words which have the effect of thunder? Can a legion of thunders expel a legion of demons from a man possessed? But a legion of thunders struck above Gadara but the legion of demons in the man possessed did not even feel that. Neither did our Lord Jesus shout at the demons but rather quietly told them to come out and they obediently came forth. Brethren, it is not a matter of shouting or criticizing but rather of power.

"A bruised reed shall He not break and the smoking flax shall He not quench." This refers to the Old Testament whose spirit the Pharisees had completely bruised and overloaded with their Sabbatical formalities and which only smoked but did not give any light to men because of their blunted understanding and the stony hearts of men. The Lord will not break the bruised reed neither will He completely quench the almost extinguished fire of that law which He gave. Still, this pertains to sinful men. Men subdued by sin He will not put an end to nor sinners in whom the divine light has turned into smoke will He quench but He will straighten the reed and rekindle the divine fire in men. For because of sinners, He came into the world. He will proclaim judgment softly and gently but with the power which truth itself alone conveys. He will behave gently and humbly and with compassion and with mercy similar to a physician - but far more sublimely and cordially than a physician when He enters a house of a madman.

O gentle and serene Lord, fill us with Your All-wondrous meekness and serenity.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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