Prologue of Ohrid

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November 20

1. The Venerable Gregory of Decapolis

Gregory was born in Isaurian Decapolis of prominent and devout parents, Sergius and Mary. After he had completed his schooling, his parents desired that he marry, but he fled to the wilderness and was tonsured a monk. He lived in various places: Byzantium, Rome and on Mount Olympus. Wherever he was, he amazed men by his asceticism and miracles. At times a heavenly light illumined him and angels of God appeared to him. He gazed upon the beauty of the angels and listened to their sweet chanting. He lived a long and God-pleasing life and died peacefully in the ninth century in Constantinople, his soul taking up its abode in the joy of his Lord.


2. Saint Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople


Proclus was a disciple of St. John Chrysostom. In the year 426 he was consecrated Bishop of Cyzicus, and in 435 was chosen Patriarch of Constantinople. He governed the Church of God as a prudent hierarch. During his tenure, two significant events occurred. The first was the translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom from Comana to Constantinople, at the desire of both the emperor and the patriarch. Emperor Theodosius the Younger was then reigning with his sister, Pulcheria. The second event was the great earthquake in Constantinople and the surrounding countryside. Many of the largest and most beautiful buildings were destroyed by this terrible earthquake. Then the patriarch, with the emperor, many of the clergy, nobles and people, came out in a procession of supplication. As they were praying to God, a child was miraculously lifted high in the air, until he was out of sight. Then he returned and was lowered gently to the ground. Asked where he had been, the child replied that he had been lifted up to heaven among the angels and that he had heard the angels sing: ``Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!'' Upon hearing this, all the people in the procession began to sing it and the earthquake ceased immediately. From that time on, this beautiful hymn was adopted by the Church. The child soon reposed, and was interred in the Church of St. Irene. In all, St. Proclus served as a hierarch for twenty years and reposed peacefully in the Lord in the year 446.


3. The Holy Martyrs Eustathius, Thespesius and Anatolius


Eustathius, Thespesius and Anatolius were blood brothers from Nicomedia. Their parents, Philotheus and Eusebia, were pagans who received the true Faith from St. Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedia, as did their sons. Philotheus was ordained a presbyter. When he and his wife reposed, a terrible persecution of Christians was perpetrated under the evil Emperor Maximian, and Philotheus's three sons were brought to trial. Accused, interrogated and tortured in various ways, they were finally condemned to death. Angels appeared to them many times in prison and gave them manna to eat, filling their young hearts with strength, courage and endurance. When they were led to the place of execution, two friends, Palladius and Acacius, approached them and spoke with them. While they were still speaking, the holy martyrs gave up their souls to God. The soldiers then severed their lifeless heads and took them to show to the judge. They suffered for Christ the Lord in about the year 313, and took up their habitation in the Immortal Kingdom of Christ.


4. Saint Isaac, Archbishop of Armenia


Isaac was born in Constantinople when his father was an envoy of the Armenian king to the Byzantine court. Isaac was the tenth Archbishop of Armenia, and in that calling, governed the Church for fifty years. His episcopacy was distinguished, among other things, by the translation of the Holy Scriptures into the Armenian language. He was told in a vision that the Armenians would eventually fall away from the pure Faith of Orthodoxy. This eminent hierarch entered peacefully into rest in the year 440 and reposed in the Lord.


5. The Three Holy Virgins


All three were Persians. At the time of King Sapor, these three virgins were persecuted as Christians, and were finally cut to pieces with knives. Three fig trees grew out of their graves that healed all manner of pains and illnesses.


HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople


Glorious disciple of a glorious teacher,
O most-wise Proclus, servant of the Savior,
You strengthened the Faith and destroyed heresy,
For which the Holy Church praises you,
And the Church magnifies its giant,
Who, by glorifying God, glorified himself.
As a skilled helmsman, you guided the Church,
Beheld miracles and glorified God.
Clairvoyant of spirit, with a mind filled with grace,
You resonated with the Spirit like a finely tuned string.
Taught by the Spirit, you instructed the emperor
To transport the relics of the golden-mouthed Patriarch,
And with the emperor and the people you openly beheld
Glorious miracles manifest from the relics.
Now, in Paradise eternal, pray for us,
That the faithful endure in the Faith to the end!


REFLECTION


No mortal has interpreted the Epistles of the Apostle Paul with greater love and depth than St. John Chrysostom. Had St. Paul himself interpreted them, he could not have interpreted them better. Behold, history tells us that it was Paul himself who interpreted them through the mind and the pen of Chrysostom. When St. Proclus was a novice under Chrysostom, during the time that he was patriarch, it was his duty to announce visitors. A certain nobleman was slandered before Emperor Arcadius and the emperor had expelled him from the court. This nobleman came to implore Chrysostom to intercede with the emperor on his behalf. Proclus went to announce him to the patriarch but, looking through the partly opened door, saw a man bent over the patriarch, whispering something in his ear while the patriarch wrote. This continued until dawn. Meanwhile, Proclus told the nobleman to come back the next evening, while he himself remained in amazement, wondering who the man with the patriarch was, and how he managed to enter the patriarch's chamber unannounced. The second night the same thing happened again, and Proclus was in still greater amazement. The third night the same thing happened again, and Proclus was in the greatest amazement. When Chrysostom asked him if the nobleman had come by, he replied that he had already been waiting for three nights, but that he couldn't announce him because of the elderly, balding stranger who had been whispering in the patriarch's ear for three nights. The astonished Chrysostom said that he did not remember anyone entering to see him during the previous three nights. He asked his novice what the stranger looked like, and Proclus pointed to the icon of the Holy Apostle Paul, saying that the man was like him. Therefore, it was the Apostle Paul himself who was directing the mind and pen of his greatest interpreter.


CONTEMPLATION


Contemplate the wondrous creation of the world (Genesis 1):
1. How the Holy Trinity took counsel together about the creation of man;
2. How God created man in His own image.


HOMILY
on behavior in accordance with one's calling


… that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering (Ephesians 4:1-2).
Be not proud, be not angry, be not faint-hearted; for these are unworthy of a Christian calling. This calling is so elevated and wonderful that it is difficult for a man to safeguard himself from pride; yet it is difficult to keep oneself above faint-heartedness when dangers and losses occur. Against these three unhealthy states, the Apostle emphasizes three healthy states: against pride, lowliness; against anger, meekness; against faint-heartedness, longsuffering. It must be said that these three virtues-lowliness, meekness and longsuffering-do not express in full measure the loftiness of the Christian calling. But then, nothing in this world can fully express the height of the Christian calling. The preciousness and richness of this calling cannot be seen here on earth: it is like a closed chest that a man carries through this world, but only opens it and avails himself of its riches in the other world. Only someone who could raise himself to the highest heavens and see Christ the Lord in glory with the angels and the saints could assess the loftiness of the Christian calling; for there is the victorious assembly of all God's chosen ones from earth who were made worthy of this exceedingly high honor.
O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Thy name is the name most dear to us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.



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