Prologue of Ohrid

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FEBRUARY
 
 
 
 
 
 
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APRIL
 
 
 
 
 
MAY
 
 
 
 
JUNE
 
 
 
 
 
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AUGUST
 
 
 
 
SEPTEMBER
 
 
 
 
 
OCTOBER
 
 
 
 
NOVEMBER
 
 
 
 
 
DECEMBER
 
 
 
 

October 10

1. The Holy Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia
They were brother and sister from Nicomedia. During one of the terrible persecutions of Christians by Maximian some of the faithful fled Nicomedia and hid. The young Eulampius was sent into the city to buy bread. There he saw the imperial edict decreeing the persecution of Christians posted on a wall. He laughed at it, removed it, and tore it up. He was arrested and immediately brought before the judge. When the judge advised him to deny Christ, Eulampius counseled the judge to reject the false idols and to acknowledge Christ as the One Living God. The judge ordered that he be flogged for a long time until his blood flowed, and that he be tormented with other cruel tortures. Hearing of her brother's suffering, the virgin Eulampia came running, and she, together with her brother, suffered for Christ. She was flogged until blood flowed from her nose and mouth. After that, they were thrown into boiling pitch, and then into a red-hot furnace, but by the power of the sign of the Cross and the name of Christ, they rendered the fire harmless. Finally Eulampius was beheaded, but Eulampia died before being beheaded. Two hundred other Christians were also slain, who had come to believe in Christ upon witnessing the power and miracles of St. Eulampius and his sister. All were crowned with martyrs' wreaths, and passed over into their eternal heavenly homeland.


2. The Holy Martyrs of Zographou


When Emperor Michael Palaeologus contracted the infamous Union of Lyons with the pope, in order to obtain help from the West against the Bulgarians and Serbs, the monks of the Holy Mountain sent a protest to the emperor against this Union, imploring him to reject it and return to Orthodoxy. The pope dispatched an army to help the emperor. The Latin army entered the Holy Mountain and committed such barbarism as the Turks had never committed in five hundred years. Having hanged the Protaton, and having killed many monks in Vatopedi, Iveron and other monasteries, the Latins attacked Zographou. The blessed Abbot Thomas warned the brethren that whoever wished to be spared from the Latins should flee from the monastery, and that whoever desired a martyr's death should remain. And so, twenty-six men remained: the abbot, twenty-one monks, and four laymen who served as laborers for the monastery. They all closed themselves in the monastery's tower. When the Latins arrived, they set fire to the tower and these twenty-six heroes of Christ found a martyr's death in the fire. While the tower was burning, they chanted the Psalms and the Akathist to the Most-holy Mother of God. They gave their holy souls to God on October 10, 1283. In December of the same year, the dishonorable Emperor Michael died in poverty, when the Serbian King Milutin rose up against him in defense of Orthodoxy.


3. The Venerable Theophilus the Confessor


Theophilus was a Macedonian Slav from somewhere near Strumica. He was tonsured a monk when still young, and founded his own monastery. He suffered much for the icons during the reign of Leo the Isaurian, and would have been slain on one occasion, had he not succeeded in convincing Governor Hypaticus, his judge, of the principle and need for the veneration of icons. The governor freed him. Theophilus returned to his monastery, where he reposed peacefully in the year 716, and entered into the joy of his Lord.


4. The Holy Martyr Theotecnus


He was a Roman officer in Antioch during the reign of Emperor Maximian. When the emperor urged him to sacrifice to the idols, he replied: ``I believe in Christ God, and to Him will I offer myself as a sacrifice-a living sacrifice.'' After cruel tortures, he was drowned by being thrown into the sea with a stone around his neck. He suffered honorably for Christ and was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom.


5. The Venerable Bassian


During the reign of the right-believing Emperor Marcian, this saint came to Constantinople from Anatolia in the year 450. Great was his asceticism, and great was the wonderworking power that God bestowed upon him. Bassian had about three hundred disciples. Among them was St. Matrona. Emperor Marcian built a church in Bassian's name, which still exists today.


HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyrs of Zographou


Heroes of Zographou, knights of truth,
Sacrificed themselves for the Orthodox Faith,
And shamed the proud, shameless Latins,
As their souls rose up to the Kingdom of God.
The tower's flames mounted up to heaven,
As the monks in the fire sent up praise to God!
Heaven with its angels beheld that spectacle,
As the criminals crawled about like worms below the tower.
In the flames, Abbot Thomas, a true parent,
Encouraged his brethren, and began the Psalms:
He who glorifies the Lord does not fear death,
And he who dies for God will not perish.
The sacrifice is offered, and the altar of oblation remains:
The bodies were burned, the souls flew off,
And by that sacrifice, Zographou increased in glory
With magnificence eternal and true.
St. George the knight, cherishes his knights
As the Mother of God cherishes all heavenly citizens.
In these knights of righteousness, the Church rejoices:
They are her children, her fruitful branches.


REFLECTION


By God's providence, the greatest number of miracles and heavenly manifestations occur during the martyrdom of His servants. On the day that the Latins set out for the Monastery of Zographou, an old monk had an obedience in a vineyard half an hour's distance from the monastery. At the prescribed time, he read the Akathist before the icon of the Mother of God. However, when he began to pronounce the word ``Rejoice!'' a voice came to him from the icon: ``Do thou also rejoice, O elder! Flee from here now, or misfortune will befall thee; go and tell the brethren of the monastery to lock themselves in, for the God-opposing Latins have attacked this, my chosen Mountain, and are already near.'' The frightened elder fell to his knees and cried out in fear: ``How can I leave thee here, my Queen and Intercessor?'' At this he again heard the voice: ``Do not worry about me, but go quickly!'' The elder went to the monastery immediately. But when he reached the monastery gates he beheld that same icon of the Mother of God. In a miraculous manner, the icon had preceded him to the monastery. The amazed elder related all that had been revealed to him to the abbot and the brethren. At that, all of them glorified God and the Mother of God. 
Once, during the celebration of the Feast of the twenty-six martyrs of Zographou, on October 10, 1873, there was a great all-night vigil. It was a moonless night. In the middle of the night, while the monks were chanting and reading the lives of the holy martyrs in the church, a noise was suddenly heard, and over the church a fiery pillar appeared, extending from earth to heaven. It was so bright that things at a distance could be seen as though it were midday. This wondrous manifestation lasted for about a quarter of an hour and then disappeared.


CONTEMPLATION


Contemplate God's miraculous appearance to the Prophet Elias (I Kings 19):
1. How Elias, fatigued by the unrighteousness of the people, prayed to God to grant him death;
2. How God comforted Elias by His appearing on Horeb;
3. How there was a strong wind, then an earthquake, then fire, and finally a still, small voice-the voice of God.


HOMILY
on the sufferings of David and the prophecy of the sufferings of Christ


For many dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet (Psalm 22:16).
This is the mystical experience of the penitent David, and, at the same time, a clear prophecy of Christ's sufferings. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12), says the Apostle Paul. When King David sinned, the devils did not appear to him nor did they disturb him; but when he began to repent and to direct his life on the path of God, then the devils surrounded him and tormented him. The words here are not about men but about demons, who sometimes attack the penitent directly, or torment him through other men. David would not have called God's people, the crown of God's creation, ``dogs.'' Rather, he called the demons ``dogs,'' who are perceived by righteous men as dogs, snakes, black men, lions, or in some other form. That he here means ``dogs'' as evil spirits can be proven by the written lives of the great ascetics, to whom the demons appeared in the form of dogs and other animals, to frighten them. We can also be convinced of this from the words of the Lord our Savior, that He spoke from the Cross: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). This means that the Jews were not doing their own will but rather someone else's: the demons' will. For many dogs and the congregation of the wicked gathered to destroy Christ the Lord. When the devil-the tempter-could not defeat the Lord on the Mount of Temptation by his false promises, he began with all his might to destroy Him through men by a dishonorable death on the Cross. Brethren, see how clear the prophecy is! They pierced My hands and My feet. These words could not have pertained to anyone else, in the entire history of the world, but the crucified Savior. This prophecy continues in great detail: They divided My garments among them and for My vesture they cast lots (Psalm 22:18). Everything happened as it was prophesied-everything! But the devil was deluded in his reckoning. He thought he could destroy the One mightier than death, by condemning Him to death. He thought to dishonor Him Who alone gives honor to all creation. By his glorious Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ conquered and shamed the devil and his entire pack of dogs, and gave man power and authority over them. The whole pagan world was unable to exorcize even one single demon; but we, by the name of Christ and by the power of His Cross, are able to disperse legions of demons like smoke-for, after Christ's victory, the demons became like whipped and frightened dogs. 
O Lord, Conqueror and Savior, to Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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