Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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October 211. The Venerable Hilarion the Great
Like a rose growing among thorns, this great saint was born of pagan parents in the village of Tabatha near Gaza in Palestine. His parents sent him to study in Alexandria, where the gifted youngster quickly assimilated both secular learning and spiritual wisdom. Coming to know the Lord Christ, he was baptized, and desired to dedicate himself completely to the service of the Lord. With this desire in his heart, Hilarion visited St. Anthony in the desert and became his disciple. Then he returned to his homeland and lived a life of asceticism near Maiuma, at Gaza. Demons tried to terrify him in various ways, but by prayer to God and the sign of the Cross he always overcame them and drove them away. Many lovers of the spiritual life gathered around him. Hilarion became for Palestine what St. Anthony was for Egypt. A divine teacher, a strict ascetic and a wonderful miracle-worker, Hilarion was revered not only by Christians but also by pagans. However, fearing the praise of men and tearfully lamenting, ``Woe is me, I have received my reward on earth!'' he fled from place to place, to hide from men and remain alone with his soul and with God. Thus, he traveled and lived in Egypt, Sicily, Dalmatia and finally in Cyprus, where his life of great labor came to an end in about the year 372, at the age of eighty. The miracle-working relics of St. Hilarion were translated to Palestine by his disciple Hesychius, and were placed in the monastery founded by him.
2. Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin
He was born of eminent and devout parents. His childless mother had long prayed to God that He grant her a child, and in accordance with her prayer, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared to her and comforted her with the words: ``Do not grieve, you will give birth to a son and he will turn many to the light of truth.'' When Hilarion was three years old, the hymn, ``Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!'' was constantly on his lips. He was well-educated, was tonsured a monk at age eighteen, and founded a monastery based on the Rule of St. Pachomius. In 1134, he was consecrated Bishop of Meglin by Eustathius, Archbishop of Trnovo. St. Hilarion led a great, nearly lifelong struggle against the Bogomils and the Armenian heretics. However, by his spiritual learning and unequaled sanctity he put them all to shame, and drew many of them to Orthodoxy. He reposed peacefully, and took up his abode in the Kingdom of His Lord in the year 1164.
3. The Venerable Philotheus
He was born in Crysopolis in Macedonia. The Turks took him from his mother, a widow, and threw him and one of his brothers into prison. The Most-holy Theotokos miraculously saved them from prison and brought them to a monastery at Neapolis in Asia Minor. Later, their mother found both of her sons as monks, and she herself was tonsured a nun. Philotheus went to Mount Athos, where he lived a life of asceticism in the Monastery of Dionysiou, and later in the desert. He was a wondrous ascetic and a great conqueror of demonic powers. He reposed peacefully at the age of eighty-four. He willed that he not be buried, but that his body be thrown into the forest for the birds and wild beasts. Later, a fisherman saw a great light in the forest on a cold night and went to warm himself, thinking it was a fire. However, the light was not from a fire, but was emanating from the wonderworking relics of St. Philotheus.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Holy Hilarion, like a brilliant comet,
The All-seeing eye of God watches over all men and, in a wondrous manner, guides the faithful to salvation. That which seems to the faithful a great loss can show itself over time to be a great gain. The case of St. Philotheus and his brother, who were lost to their mother, is similar to the case of St. Xenophont (January 26), and the case of St. Eustathius and his wife and sons (September 20). When St. Philotheus and his brother were sitting in a Turkish prison in Macedonia, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared to them in the form of their mother and said, ``Arise, my dear children, and follow me!'' and suddenly the young men found themselves in a monastery in the town of Neapolis in Asia Minor. When the young men related to the abbot what had happened to them, he understood that this was from God, and he received the young men and tonsured them. A long time passed after this. Their mother grieved for them but overcame her loss. Finally, she decided to enter a convent and dedicate herself to God. God's providence brought her near the monastery where her sons were. Once, during the patronal celebration of this monastery she came with the other nuns for the celebration. She saw her sons in church but did not recognize them. Just then, one of the brothers called the other by his secular name. The mother's heart was touched by that name, which was dear to her, and she looked carefully into their faces. Then she recognized them and they recognized her. Their joy was exceedingly great, and they gave heartfelt thanks to God. Believing Christians should not despair over even the greatest loss.
Contemplate the wondrous healing of the blind Saul by Ananias (Acts 9):
My heart will pour forth good words; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1).
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