Prologue of Ohrid

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October 31

1. The Holy Apostles Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles and Aristobulus
They were all of the Seventy. Stachys was an assistant to St. Andrew the First-called. St. Andrew appointed him Bishop of Byzantium. He established the church in Argyropolis and governed his flock faithfully and zealously. After sixteen years as bishop, he entered peacefully into rest in the Lord. Amplias and Urban worked likewise with St. Andrew, and were ordained bishops by him-Amplias in Lydda of Odyssopolis in Judea, and Urban in Macedonia. Both died as martyrs for Christ the Lord. Narcissus was appointed Bishop of Athens by the Apostle Philip. St. Apelles was Bishop of Heraclea in Trachis. Aristobulus, brother of the Apostle Barnabas, preached the Christian Faith in Britain and reposed peacefully there. 


2. The Holy Martyr Epimachus


He was born in Egypt and labored there in asceticism, ending his earthly life as a martyr. Imitating St. John the Baptist, he withdrew to the wilderness while still a youth. Because of his great love for God, the Spirit of God led him to every truth and, with no other teacher, taught him how to live a life of asceticism. Then, Epimachus learned that the unbelievers were torturing and killing Christians in Alexandria for the sake of Christ. All aflame with zeal for the Faith, he went to the city and smashed the idols. When the pagans tortured him for this, he cried out: ``Smite me, spit on me, put a crown of thorns on my head, put a reed in my hand, give me gall to drink, crucify me on a cross, and pierce me with a spear! This is what my Lord endured, and I too want to endure it.'' In the crowd of people who witnessed the torturing of St. Epimachus, there was a woman who was blind in one eye. She wept bitterly, watching the heartless torture of this God-pleaser. When the tormentors scraped the body of the holy martyr of Christ, blood spurted from him, and one drop of blood touched the blind eye of that woman. Suddenly, her blind eye regained vision, and was as whole as the other. Then she cried out: ``Great is the God in whom this sufferer believes!'' After this they beheaded St. Epimachus and his soul took up habitation in eternal joy, in about the year 250.


3. The Holy Martyr Nicholas of Chios


Nicholas was a pious youth and a great zealot for the Christian Faith. He was born in the village of Karyes on the island of Chios, where he was tortured and beheaded by the Turks in the year 1754, and gave his righteous soul to God.


4. The Venerable Spyridon and Nicodemus


They were monks and prosphora-bakers in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. Though illiterate, Spyridon knew the entire Psalter by heart and worked many miracles during his lifetime. He entered into rest in the year 1148.


HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyr Epimachus


Epimachus, the saint of God,
Felt no fear in his heart,
Either of men or of devils,
And even less of dead idols.
Epimachus rejoiced in his torture;
With his smile he whipped the judge.
His body in torment, his mind in heaven,
Epimachus was adorned with wounds.
He wanted to suffer like Christ,
To stand as a martyr before Christ-
And what he desired, God gave him,
And endowed him with wondrous power
To heal the infirmities of the people, 
And to gladden men with grace.
A knight of Christ with the sign of the Cross,
A precious stone among precious stones,
Epimachus shines like a star-
A soul such as only Christ can raise.
O Epimachus, wondrous martyr
And glorious prisoner of the true Faith:
Defend us from evil by your prayers,
And protect the Church of God unto the end.


REFLECTION


And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me, said the Lord (Matthew 10:38). The holy and venerable Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou (October 29) was at first a married man and had two daughters. Later, as a monk, he decided to suffer for the sake of Christ. Already prepared for the path of suffering, he begged the abbot for a blessing to stop by his village of Kessana to say farewell to his daughters. The abbot would not allow him to do that out of fear that a meeting with his two daughters would soften him, and turn him away from martyrdom for the Faith. But Kessana lay on the road to Propontis, where Timothy was headed. When he got to his village, he met a former neighbor, conversed with him and gave him a farewell message for his daughters. In vain, the neighbor begged him to stay and see his daughters, and rest. Timothy went hurriedly on his way. The daughters heard about their father from the neighbor and ran to see him. And now was seen a rare and majestic sight. The daughters raced to overtake and embrace their father, while the father fled from his daughters, so as not to transgress the command of his abbot. The daughters ran quickly but their father ran even faster. The daughters hurried to embrace their father, and Timothy, fleeing from them, hurried to embrace death. The daughters became weary and turned back in despair, and their father disappeared. Before his death Timothy begged his spiritual father, Germanus, to stop by his village and inform his daughters of his end by martyrdom. The Turks then beheaded Timothy and threw his body into a river. Germanus succeeded in retrieving just one garment from the martyr. He brought it to Kessana, found Timothy's daughters and related their father's heroic death to them, and showed them his garment.


CONTEMPLATION


Contemplate the miraculous guidance of the apostles by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16):
1. How Paul and Silas wanted to go from Mysia to Bithynia;
2. How the Spirit would not allow it;
3. How, in a vision at midnight, a Macedonian man appeared to Paul and summoned him to come to Macedonia.


HOMILY
on the certainty of the righteous one that he shall not die


I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (Psalm 117:17).
Who can say: I shall not die? He who cleaves to the Living Lord. Who can confirm with confidence: but [I shall] live? He who sees the Living Lord before him. Enoch and Elias did not die, but were taken into eternal life. The Lord took them in His mercy, and as proof to mankind of immortal life. Jesus Christ the Lord died and resurrected in accordance with His power, and as proof to mankind of the resurrection from the dead. The apostles and saints were slain, but many of them appeared from the other world in their love for mankind, and as proof to mankind of eternal life. Thus, those who were taken up to heaven in the flesh and those whose bodies reposed, live with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ in the Immortal Kingdom. I shall not die, but live, said King David with great certainty, even though he lived on earth before the Resurrection of the Lord, and before the announcement of the General Resurrection of the righteous. With still more certainty, each of us Christians must speak this too: I shall not die, but live, for the resurrected Lord is the foundation of our Faith, and our eyes have seen and our ears have heard more-much more-than the eyes and ears of King David. After the Cross of Christ, the devil became as smoke; and after His Resurrection, death became like a mere fog through which one passes to the sunlit field of immortality. Blessed is he, brethren, who becomes worthy to live, and declare the works of the Lord.
O Living Lord, enliven us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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