Prologue of Ohrid

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October 30

1. THE HIEROMARTYR ZENOBIUS AND HIS SISTER ZENOBIA

They were from the town of Aegea in Cilicia. They inherited the true Faith and great material wealth from their parents. Working zealously for the Faith and with great love, they distributed all their wealth to the poor. Because their hands were so generous, the hand of God shielded them from every evil intent of men and demons. The generous hands of Zenobius, which gave to the poor, were endowed by God with the gift of miracle-working, and Zenobius healed the sick of every kind of infirmity merely by touching them. Zenobius was appointed Bishop of Aegea. During a persecution, the Prefect Lysias arrested him and said: "I offer you two choices: life or death; life if you worship the gods, or death if you do not.'' St. Zenobius replied: "Life without Christ is not life but death, whereas death for the sake of Christ is not death but life.'' When Zenobius was subjected to cruel tortures, Zenobia came to the judge and said: "I also want to drink from this cup of suffering, and be crowned with that wreath.'' After being tortured in fire and in boiling pitch, both were beheaded with the sword in about the year 285. Thus this brother and sister took up their habitation in the Kingdom of the Immortal Christ the King.

2. THE HOLY APOSTLES CLEOPAS, TERTIUS, MARK, JUSTUS AND ARTEMAS

They were all numbered among the Seventy. The risen Lord appeared to Cleopas on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-33). Tertius wrote down the Epistle to the Romans for Paul (Romans 16:22), and died a martyr as Bishop of Iconium after the Apostle Sosipater (November 10). St. Mark (or John) was the son of the devout Mary (whose home was a refuge for the apostles and the first Christians), and a kinsman of Barnabas (Acts 12:12). He became the bishop of the Samaritan town of Apollonia. Justus was a son of Joseph the Betrothed. Together with Matthias, he was one of those selected as a possible replacement for Judas the traitor, but he was not chosen. He suffered for the Gospel as a bishop in Eleutheropolis. St. Artemas was Bishop of Lystra in Lycaonia, and reposed peacefully.

3. THE HOLY KING MILUTIN

Milutin was the son of Uroš I and Queen Helena and brother of Dragutin. He fought many battles defending his Faith and his people. He fought against Emperor Michael Palaeologus because Palaeologus accepted union with Rome and tried to force the Balkan peoples and the monks of Athos to recognize the pope. He fought against Shishman, King of Bulgaria, and Nogai, King of the Tartars, in order to defend his lands. All his wars were successful, for he constantly prayed to God and hoped in God. He built more than forty churches: beside those that he built in his own land-Treskavac, Gračanica, St. George in Nagorič, the Church of the Holy Theotokos in Skoplje, Banjska and so forth-he also built churches outside of his land, in Thessalonica, Sofia, Constantinople, Jerusalem and the Holy Mountain. He entered into rest in the Lord on October 29, 1320. His body was soon shown to be incorrupt and miracle-working; and as such, it reposes even today in the Church of the Holy King in Sofia, Bulgaria.*

     (* Milutin was married twice and not four times as his detractors wrote.  The first time he was married to Elizabeth, a Hungarian princess, and the second time to Simonida, A Byzantine princess.)

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY KING MILUTIN

The saint of God, Milutin the gallant,

Had a great and difficult task:

To defend the Faith against evil schismatics,

And the people against many cruel tyrants.

He was a scourge to Palaeologus, and a scourge to the Latins-

Milutin triumphed over all the unbelievers.

The Orthodox Faith was his great treasure,

As it was Justinian's crown of pearls!

And, like Justinian, he built many churches,

And raised up glory to the glorious Christ throughout the world.

Royally he attended to matters imperial,

But his mind was not parted from Christ God.

Thus, pure and innocent in heart was he,

A venerable mind in the whirlpool of the world.

God, Who looks at the heart and judges accordingly,

Granted King Milutin immortality-

Immortality of soul, and an incorrupt body.

And lo, our holy king, even now, is intact!

As you fear no man, O wondrous King,

Be our defender before the Living God,

That he forgive our sinful monstrosities,

And vouchsafe us, with you, the Heavenly Kingdom.

REFLECTION

A great son of the Orthodox Church, King Milutin saved the Balkans from Uniatism. At that time in history when the Byzantine emperor's conscience was weakened, this noble and God-bearing Slavic king rose up decisively and, with God's help, saved Orthodoxy-not only in his own land, but also in all the lands of the Balkans. He who closely examines the life of the holy King Milutin will understand why God gave him success after success in all his works throughout his life. When Milutin ascended the throne, he immediately vowed to God that he would build a church for each year that he would reign. He reigned forty-two years and built forty-two churches. Next to some of the churches-for example, in Thessalonica and Constantinople-he also built hospitals for the indigent, where the poor would receive everything free of charge. Beyond that, he especially loved to give alms to the needy from his own enormous wealth. Oftentimes, this powerful and wealthy king dressed in the clothes of a poor man and, with two or three of his servants, walked among the people at night and asked about their misfortunes, and gave to them abundantly.  He lived a very simple, familial life, even in the midst of his great wealth-though he never seemed that way to foreigners.  He had become accustomed to a simple life while still at the home of his father; King Uroš I.  It is told how Emperor Michael Palaeologus sent his daughter Anna with a retinue to the court of King Uroš, an offering to Milutin, in order to lure the Serbian king into union with Rome.  But King Uroš, seeing the foolish extravagance of the princess and her retinue, said: "What is this, and what is it for? We are not used to such a life.'' And pointing to a Serbian princess with a distaff in her hand, he said: "Behold, this is the kind of clothing we expect our daughter-in-law to wear.''

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous healing of the crippled man (Acts 14):

1. How there was a man in Lystra who had never stood on his feet;

2. How he beheld Paul and believed in the Gospel;

3. How Paul, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, healed the man-who leaped and walked.

HOMILY

on the desire for God-the only desire of the righteous

Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee (Psalm 73:25).

In heaven and on earth, there is one supreme good for the soul of an awakened man. That good is God. There is countless good in heaven, but the King of heaven is the greatest good. There is countless good on earth, but the Creator of all of this good is incomparable. That is why the soul of the awakened man asks: "What could I have or what could I desire, either in heaven or on earth, beside Thee?'' Is the river necessary to the one who is brought to drink at its source? Does one who sits at the king's table desire the shepherd's dinner? God alone is sufficient in Himself to satisfy all of men's hunger and thirst. The heavens are God's, the earth is God's. The Lord of all good is the greatest good; the Creator of all sweetness is the greatest sweetness; the Bearer of all wisdom is the greatest wisdom; the Source of all power and mercy is the greatest power and mercy; the Creator of every kind of beauty in heaven and on earth is the greatest beauty. No kind of good can enter the heart of man-whether openly or in a dream-that is not already in God to the highest degree.

Therefore, my brethren, let us ask God that we may receive all; let us seek God that we may find all; let us become rich in God that we may be rich in all.

O Lord our God, come near us when our souls seek Thee.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.



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