Prologue of Ohrid

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November 4

1. The Venerable Ioannicius the Great


The great spiritual light Ioannicius was born in the village of Marycata in the province of Bithynia, of his father Myritricius and his mother Anastasia. As a youth, he was a shepherd. While tending his sheep, he would often retreat into solitude and remain in prayer the whole day, encircling his flock with the sign of the Cross so that the flock would not stray and scatter. Later, he was taken into the army and displayed marvelous courage, particularly in the wars with the Bulgarians. Following his military service, Ioannicius withdrew to Mount Olympus in Asia Minor, where he was tonsured a monk and dedicated himself completely to asceticism until his repose in great old age. He lived in asceticism for over fifty years in various places, and received from God a truly abundant gift of wonderworking. He healed all sicknesses and pains, drove out demons, and tamed wild beasts. He especially had power over snakes, could cross over water as on dry land, could be invisible to men when he so desired, and could foretell future events. He was distinguished by overwhelming humility and meekness. His outward appearance was that of a giant-massive and powerful. He took an active part in the destiny of God's Church. During the iconoclast controversy, he was deceived at first, but later tore himself away from the iconoclast viewpoint and became an ardent champion of the veneration of icons. He had a great friendship with Patriarch Methodius of Constantinople. Ioannicius lived for ninety-four years and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 846. He was a great miracle-worker both during his life and after his death.


2. The Hieromartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermas the Presbyter


Nicander and Hermas were both ordained by Apostle Titus. They were both distinguished by their great zeal for the Faith and their great labors in winning pagans for Christ the Lord. Because of this, they were accused before a certain judge, Libanus, who subjected them to bitter tortures. They were stoned and dragged over stones; they were imprisoned, suffered hunger and endured many other tortures that no mortal man could endure without God's special help. The Lord appeared to them in various ways, and when they were thrown into a fiery furnace, the Lord sent His angel to cool the flames for them. Finally, they were buried alive by their cruel torturers. But in vain do men kill those whom the Lord gives life, and in vain do men dishonor those whom the Lord glorifies.


HYMN OF PRAISE
The Venerable Ioannicius the Great


Ioannicius served the people,
The people and the prince, with great zeal,
And then withdrew from all and everything
To serve the glory of the Heavenly King.

Ioannicius was a great soldier
For the holy Faith and for pure justice;
With tears and labors for half a century
He prayed and prayed to Christ.

Glorious Ioannicius was a rich man,
Rich and more than abundant with the power of heaven,
Leading the struggle, and chanting Psalms,
Against every dark and deceitful power.

The wondrous saint, Ioannicius,
Worked many wonderful miracles
In the name of Christ and by the power of the Cross,
Mightily destroying the demons' schemes.

O Saint of God, Ioannicius,
You found mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Beg mercy also for us sinners,
And from the Holy Spirit, holy grace.


REFLECTION


Mercy is the fruit of faith. Where there is true faith, there also is true mercy. St. Ioannicius was walking past a monastery one day. Among the many nuns, there were a mother and daughter. Evil spirits continually assaulted the young daughter with bodily temptations, and inflamed the passion of lust in her to such a degree that she wanted to leave the convent to marry. In vain did her mother counsel her to stay. Her daughter would not even hear of it. When the mother saw St. Ioannicius, she begged him to counsel her daughter to remain in the monastery and not expose her soul to perdition in the world. Ioannicius summoned the maiden and said: ``Daughter, place your hand on my shoulder!'' She did so. Then the compassionate saint prayed to God with a fervent heart that He deliver her from temptation, and that her bodily lust be transferred to him. Thus, it happened. The maiden was completely calmed and remained in the monastery, and the saint of God went on his way. But as he went, the passion of lust was inflamed in him, and his blood began to boil as though on fire. He desired to die rather than to give the passion its way and, seeing a large poisonous snake, ran to it so as to be bitten and to die. But the snake would not bite him. He provoked it to make it bite him, but as soon as he touched it the snake died. At that moment the flame of lust disappeared from Ioannicius.


CONTEMPLATION


Contemplate the Lord's coming to Paul in a vision at night (Acts 18):
1. How the Lord came to Paul at Corinth, in a nighttime vision;
2. How He told him to fear not and to preach, for He said: I have much people in this city;
3. How Paul obeyed and remained there for a year and a half.


HOMILY
on the heirs of the Kingdom through Christ the Lord


In whom also we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11).
All is from the Lord Jesus Christ, all is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and all is of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him, we have no proper ties or normal relationships with God, with men or with other created beings. He is our head and our mind, and through Him we have obtained an inheritance. What do we inherit? The Kingdom of God. Why are Christians often called heirs in the New Testament? Inheritance is always associated with someone's passing from this earth. One must die for his heir to inherit. Christians even become heirs while still in this life, for the old man in them dies and the new man comes in his place as heir. The one who outlives the other is the one who inherits. When the body dies, the soul outlives it; the soul therefore inherits all that a man has gathered while in the body, be it good works for salvation or evil works for condemnation. Through the Lord Jesus Christ the inheritance that the Lord Himself rejoiced in is opened to us: the Immortal Kingdom of God. We inherit that Kingdom when we leave the earthly kingdom-when we die to this earth, we will inherit heaven; when we break off the alliance with Satan, we will become fellow heirs in Christ. O my brethren, just think what a rich inheritance awaits us! But let us not sell it cheaply, as Esau sold his birthright!
O Lord Jesus Christ, our God and our Savior, have mercy on us to the end, and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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