Prologue of Ohrid

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August 30

1. THE ASSEMBLY OF THE HOLY SERBIAN ENLIGHTENERS AND TEACHERS

On this day are commemorated, not all the Serbian saints in general, but rather only a few archbishops and patriarchs: Saint Sava, the first Archbishop of the Serbs called "Equal to the Apostles"; Arsenius, the successor to St. Sava, a great hierarch and miracle worker; Saint Sava II, son of the First-crowned, King Stephen who lived in Jerusalem for a long time and is called: "similar to Moses in meekness" [refer to the Srbljak, the Service Book of the Serbian Saints]; Nicodemus, who lived a life of asceticism on the Holy Mountain [Athos] and was abbot of Hilendar and following that was Archbishop "of all the Serbian and Coastal lands"; Joannicius, at first an archbishop and then patriarch from 1346 A.D. and died in 1349 A.D.; Ephrem, an ascetic who was elected patriarch against his will at the time of Prince Lazar in 1376 A.D. and crowned Lazar. After that he resigned the patriarchal throne and retreated into solitude; Spiridon, the successor to Ephrem and who died in the year 1388 A.D.; Macarius, who renovated many ancient monasteries [Zaduzbine], printed many ecclesiastical books in Skadar, Venice, Belgrade and other places. He built the famous refectory in the monastery at Pec and labored much to advance the Church with the assistance of his brother Mehmed Sokolovich, the Grand Vezir. Macarius died in the year 1574 A.D; Gabriel, by birth a nobleman of the Rajich family. He participated in the Moscow [church] council under Patriarch Nikon for which he was tortured by the Turks for treason and hanged in the year 1656 A.D. Along with these are also mentioned; Eustace, Jacob, Daniel, Gregory, John, Sava III, Gregory, John, Maksim and Nikon. Many of them lived a life of asceticism on the Holy Mountain [Athos] and all were "meek and faithful servants in the vineyard of the Lord."

2. SAINTS ALEXANDER, JOHN AND PAUL, PATRIARCHS OF CONSTANTINOPLE

Alexander participated in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea [325 A.D.] in place of the aged Patriarch Metrophanes. Afterward, he succeeded Metrophanes. When certain philosophers wanted to debate with him concerning faith, he said to one of them: "In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to be silent!" and the philosopher became mute that very moment. By his prayer, he even shortened the life of Arius. Alexander died at age ninety-eight in the year 340 A.D. St. John the Faster governed the Church during the reign of the wicked Emperor Anastasius the Acephalite heretic. He died in the year 595 A.D. St. Paul IV governed the Church for five years and eight months and then resigned the throne and secretly received the Angelic Habit in order to repent for his sins because he had earlier agreed with the iconoclasts. He was the predecessor of the great Tarasius and died at the time of Irene and Constantine in the year 784 A.D.

3. THE VENERABLE CHRISTOPHER

Christopher was an ascetic of the sixth century in the community of St. Theodosius. In a vision he saw the votive lamps of the diligent monks burning and the votive lamps of the slothful monks not burning.

4. SAINT EULALIUS, BISHOP OF CAESAREA IN CAPPADOCIA

Eulalius was one of the predecessors of St. Basil. He defrocked his son of his priestly rank for wearing clothing unbecoming his spiritual vows.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE ASSEMBLY OF THE HOLY SERBIAN ENLIGHTENERS AND TEACHERS

Chosen ones of God, Serbian saints,

Teachers wise and enlighteners,

Princes spiritual, glorious heroes.

Of the flock of Christ, most good shepherds,

God you served, denied themselves

And beacons you were to your people:

Of divine characteristics, God-bearing men,

From the Holy Trinity, the light you received,

Generously you received and everywhere dispersed it,

And from your labors, miracles sprouted.

In the footprints of Sava, all walked straight

Throughout the Serbian land, holiness you raised,

Faith in the Word of God, you confirmed,

In the new garment, you clothed the souls,

With beautiful churches, you adorned the land,

O men of God, "equal to the angels!"

Of the Serbian people, you were angels,

To glorify God, you taught the Serbs,

To worship the Savior, the living Christ,

And faithfully served the Holy Gospel.

In heaven, that is why the Lord glorified you

And, as candles before the Serbian people, placed you

That living in heaven you shine on earth

To lead your people to truth and justice.

As long as the Serbian people, your example admire

By your prayers until then, the people will live.

REFLECTION

With clamor and disgrace the noisy heretics died. And their deaths alone show God's wrath upon them because of the lies that they spread and the disturbances that they caused the Church of God. Arius, after he was condemned in Nicaea, came to Emperor Constantine one day and begged him to be received into the Church again. The emperor asked Arius if he believes in the Nicaean Symbol of Faith [the Creed] and he, the cunning one, kept a paper in his bosom with his heretically evil confession of faith and striking himself with his hand across his bosom said to the emperor: " Thus, I believe." The emperor thought that Arius had repented and sent him to Patriarch Alexander to receive him into the Church. Under no circumstances was Alexander willing to receive Arius knowing that he lies. However, the emperor designated one day, a Sunday, that Arius had to be received in the Great Church [Hagia Sophia]. On the eve of that day, the holy patriarch prayed to God to receive his soul before the God-mocking heretic is received into the Church. When the Sunday of the appointed day dawned, the patriarch was at service in the church and Arius, with the emperor's men and his "like-minded ones" set out for the church. When they arrived at the Square of Constantine, suddenly a pain, both in body and soul overcame Arius and he looked at a place for bodily need. There on the square was such a public place and he went there. His escort waited a long time and became impatient from waiting. When some of them went to see what was the matter with Arius, they found him dead in that foul place with his entire intestine spilled on the outside in uncleanness and in blood.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the victories of David over the Philistines (2 Samuel 5 2 Kings 5):

1. How the Philistines attacked the lands of David and David prayed to God and set out and defeated the Philistines;

2. How the Philistines again attacked and David again prayed to God and defeated the Philistines.

HOMILY

About the mysterious ancestry [generation] of Christ

"…And who shall declare His generation?" (Isaiah 53:8).

As a hidden source of a great river, thus for the Jews the ancestry of the Lord Jesus was hidden. They read and knew that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, and He was born in Bethlehem but they did not recognize Him. They knew that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David and He was born of the lineage of David through His Most-holy Mother, but they did not recognize or acknowledge Him. They read that He will be born of a Virgin, that He will flee to Egypt and that He will be called out of Egypt and that His forerunner will appear before Him, "Crying in the wilderness" (St. Mark 1:3), and that He will shine as a great light in the darkness and in the shadow of the deadly land of Zebulon and Naphthali and all the rest that the prophets foretold and wrote as a sign of His coming. Still, they did not recognize or acknowledge Him, but rather they crucified the King of Glory as a criminal.

If He were an ordinary man, would the prophet inquire about His ancestry and origin? Whose ancestry and origin in the history of the people of Israel is not known? His ancestry is hidden as the ancestry of Melchisedek. It was hidden for the Jews and is always hidden for unbelievers but for us believers it is not hidden anymore. We know that He is "Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten not made" (The Nicaean Creed]. That is He in eternity. We know that "He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" [The Nicaean Creed] and that He appeared in the world as man, as God-man. That is He, in time; wondrous, mysterious, glorious and majestic is His ancestry. When we say everything what was revealed to us about Him, nevertheless, we can still ask ourselves: "Who shall declare His generation [ancestry]?" Not because His ancestry is unknown but rather because His ancestry is unreachable, incomprehensible, beyond sensual and above nature.

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, enlighten us by Your divine mind and raise us up to You by Your man-loving power.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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