Prologue of Ohrid

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August 27

1. VENERABLE PIMEN [POEMEN] THE GREAT

Pimen was an Egyptian by birth and a great ascetic of Egypt. As a boy, he visited the most renowned spiritual men and, from them, gathered tangible knowledge as a bee gathers honey from flowers. Pimen once begged the elder Paul to take him to St. Paisius. Seeing Pimen, Paisius said to Paul: "This child will save many; the hand of God is with him." In time, Pimen was tonsured a monk and attracted two of his brothers to the monastic life as well. Once his mother came to see her sons but Pimen did not permit her to enter but through the door asked her: "Do you desire more to see us here or there in eternity?" The mother withdrew with joy saying: "Since I will surely see you there, then I do not desire to see you here." In the monastery of these three brothers, governed by Abba Anubis, Pimen's eldest brother, this was their Rule [Typikon]: at night, they spent four hours of working with their hands, four hours of sleep and four hours of reading the Psalter. During the day, from morning until noon, they spent in alternating work and prayer; from noon until Vespers they spent reading and, in the afternoon, they prepared supper for themselves, the only meal in twenty-four hours, and that usually consisted of some vegetables. Concerning their life, Pimen himself speaks: "We ate that which was given to us. No one ever said: 'Give me something else or I do not want that.' In this manner, we spent our entire life in silence and peace." Pimen lived a life of mortification as an ascetic in the fifth century and died peacefully at an old age.

2. VENERABLE PIMEN [POEMEN] OF PALESTINE

Pimen lived a life of asceticism in Rouba, in the wilderness of Palestine during the time of Emperor Maurice (582-602 A.D.). In his youth, he was a shepherd. Once his dogs attacked a man and tore him to pieces and he, out of mischievousness, did not defend the man. As a result of that, it was revealed to him that he, in the end, would die from wild beasts. And thus it happened. He was devoured by wild beasts and gave up his soul to his Lord.

3. SAINT HOSIUS BISHOP OF CORDOVA

As the Bishop of Cordova, Hosius governed the Church in Spain for over sixty years. He prominently participated at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea [325 A.D.] and presided at the local Council in Sardica in 347 A.D. So zealous was he for Orthodoxy that, before his death, he again issued an anathema against the Arian heresy.

4. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR KUKSHA AND PIMEN [POEMEN] THE FASTER

Kuksha and Pimen were both monks in the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. Kuksha, with success, preached the Gospel to the Wallachians and baptized them. One day, pagans attacked him and slew him along with his disciple. At that moment, Pimen the Faster was standing during the church service in the Monastery of the Caves and, seeing in the spirit the death of Kuksha his disciple and companion, cried out: "Today, our brother Kuksha was slain for the Holy Gospel." Saying this, he himself gave up the spirit in the year 1113 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
VENERABLE PIMEN [POEMEN] THE GREAT OF PALESTINE
 
Venerable Pimen, depth of wisdom,
 
And a great torch of Christ's light,
 
From the time when he put the world of vanity behind him
 
No one does he reprimand, no one does he reproach
 
Once, before Pimen, the brethren quarreled
 
But Pimen remained silent. Some reprimanded him:
 
How do you listen to the quarreling and, to you, everything is the same?
 
Pimen replied: I have died a long time ago. -
 
How can I be saved someone asked of him
 
That my mind, after devilish slander, does not wander?
 
Upon boiling water, flies do not land -
 
And, from a warm soul, the devils flee. -
 
Someone else said: What is more certain:
 
The speech of your brethren or silence?
 
By one and the other, God is glorified,
 
For the sake of the glory of God choose one for yourself.
 
How can one defend himself from evil?
 
Evil does not permit itself to be defeated by evil
 
To one who is evil, strive to do something good,
 
That will inflame even his heart.
 
One does not build his home by destroying someone else's home.
 
There, the third one benefits, and the third one is the devil.
 
Two wicked passions, poison our souls,
 
Freedom we do not have while they suffocate us:
 
Pleasures of the flesh and worldly vanity,
 
Free from them is only the holy soul.
 
REFLECTION

One who crawls up a steep mountain and scrapes with both hands and feet to take one step forward, not thinking to look back, such were the great Orthodox ascetics in the difficult climb to the Kingdom of God. Their labor and their detachment is indeed for amazement. St. Pimen did not want to see his mother when she came to visit him. A prince wanted to see Pimen but he refused. Then the prince thought of a cunning way, to force the elder to meet with him; he arrested the son of Pimen's sister and said to her that he would release her son only if Pimen himself comes to speak with him. The sister went into the wilderness and, knocking at the door, begged her brother to come out and save her son. But Pimen did not come out. Then the sister began to scold and curse him. Hearing of this, the prince ordered that a letter be written to Pimen saying that if he, Pimen, would at least put in writing, (since he did not do so orally) implore the prince to release his nephew, the prince would do so. Pimen replied: "O mighty prince, command to probe well the guilt of the young man and if the guilt is such that he deserves death, let him die, so that by temporal punishment, he will escape the torments in eternity; but if the guilt does not merit the penalty of death then castigate him according to the law and then release him." Reading this just and impartial judgment, the prince was greatly astonished, released the youth and his respect for Pimen increased two-fold.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate Saul's total apostasy from the one God (1 Samuel 28-31 [1 Kings 28-31]):

1. How he [Saul] frightened by the Philistines, turned to a pagan sorceress [the witch of Endor] to prognosticate for him;

2. How the sorceress, through prognostication, evoked a spirit who called himself Samuel and who prophesied Saul's death;

3. How Saul with his sons perished at the hands of the Philistines.

HOMILY

About the Day of Christ and how Isaiah prophesied it

"Therefore My people shall know in that day that I am He that does speak: behold, it is I" (Isaiah 52:6).

Brethren, our God is the God of Truth. Even on the sun there are spots of darkness but on our God, there is not a spot of untruth. Every word spoken by God through the prophets came true. When the Word [Logos] of God became incarnate in Jesus Christ our Lord, then all the prophecies which referred to Him and which, for the Jews until then were dark enigmas, were revealed as clear as the sun. In the Holy Gospel it is said: "And the Word was made flesh" (St. John 1:14), the Pre-eternal Word of God, the eternal Wisdom of God and the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh, every word of prophesy is revealed in bodily form. Until the Lord Christ came in the flesh to visit mankind, the scribes and readers of Holy Scripture could think of many words of the prophets, long and long unfulfilled, that those are only the words of the prophets as men and not words from God. But God did not permit anyone to think lowly of His prophets, that is why He said that men shall know "…in that day that I am He that does speak." Therefore, God wanted to give importance to every word of the prophets and wanted to teach men patience, to patiently await "that day," that wondrous day when the manifestation of the Lord on earth in the flesh will clearly cry out in every ear: "Behold, it is I!" He who recognized the Lord Jesus as God in the flesh, that one recognized in Him, simultaneously, that one Who spoke through the prophets.

"Behold, it is I!" thus speaks Christ today. "I am He" Who speaks through all the created universe. "I am He" Who spoke through the prophets. "I am He" Who, through the lips of the body, spoke the words of eternal salvation. "I am He" Who spoke through the apostles, saints and teachers. "I am He" Who speaks and Who will continue to speak through My Holy Church until the end of time. "I am He" Who speaks and "I am He" about Whom it is spoken.

O Lord, to You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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