Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. SAINT LEO I, POPE OF ROME
Leo was born in Italy of devout parents. At first, he served as archdeacon under Pope Sixtus III and following the death of Sixtus was elevated against his will to the throne of the Pope of Rome. When Attila, with his Huns, drew near to Rome was prepared to destroy and to set fire to the city, Leo came out before him in his episcopal vestments mitigated the wrath of the leader of the Huns and averted the destruction of Rome. As much as Attila allowed himself to be counseled by this holy man so also had he to be afraid of the vision of the Apostles Peter and Paul who stood along side Leo and with flaming swords threatened him. Not only did St. Leo save Rome, but he also contributed much to save Orthodoxy from the heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus. This heresy consisted in the merging of the divine and human natures of Christ into one and following this, in the denial of the two wills in the person of the Lord Savior. Because of this, the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon 451 A.D.] was convened at which time the Epistle of St. Leo was read. St. Leo had written this epistle and placed it on the tomb of St. Peter, who corrected it. Before his death, Leo spent forty days in fasting and prayer at the tomb of St. Peter, beseeching him to tell him whether his sins are forgiven. The Apostle Peter appeared to him and said that all of his sins are forgiven except the sins of ordaining priests when it is evident how grave a sin it is to ordain one who is unworthy. The saint again fell into prayer until he was told that even those sins were forgiven. He peacefully gave up his soul to the Lord. St. Leo died in the year 461 A.D
2. SAINT FLAVIAN
Flavian became patriarch of Constantinople following St. Proclus. He was a contemporary of St. Leo the Pope. He fought resolutely against Eutyches and
Dioscorus, but did not live to see the Triumph of Orthodoxy at the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon 451 A.D.), for prior to that at a heretical council [Ephesus, 431 A.D.] he was mercilessly beaten trampled upon and died there. Flavian was a faithful soldier of Christ, courageous defender and confessor of the Orthodox Faith. He died in the year 449 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
"When pride comes, then comes shame."(*)
That is the word of God, the lesson of life.
Heretics, who are they? The children of pride,
What did they want? Shame, to bring,
That is why they had to endure shame.
Eutyches hoped in the help of the eunuch,]
Flavian, in the help of the Spirit of God,
Pride always precedes the fall:
Eutyches perished and Flavian conquered.
Dioscorus, his hope was his fist
That is why all generations despise him.
Flavian beaten and trodden underfoot
Now on earth is glorified and blessed in Heaven.
The truth stands and he was not afraid of anything.
Leo the Roman extended him the assistance of a lion
In defense of the radiant face of Christ.
These two hierarchs and Eulogious the third one
Guided the Church to victory and fortune.
Without such spirits what would the Church be?
A wounded bird with broken wings.
With great difficulty and with even greater effort and sacrifice, the tares of heresy were sifted from the wheat of the truth of Orthodoxy. The heretics have always made use of lower means and mediocre persons in undermining Orthodoxy. Archmandrite Eutyches of Constantinople and Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who spread the heretical teaching, that there were not two natures in Christ, Divine and Human, rather one nature, had as their ally in the imperial court the mediocre eunuch Chrysaphius. Empress Eudoxia was secretly aligned with them. Patriarch Flavian, as a lion, fearlessly defended Orthodoxy in which he was assisted by Plucheria, the sister of the emperor. The eunuch Chrysaphius presented to Emperor Theodosius the most disgusting slanders against Flavian in order that the emperor would remove him from the throne and bring in the heretic Eutyches as patriarch. When this and all else did not succeed, the heretics plotted to kill Flavian. At the Robber Council in Ephesus [431 A.D.] they beat him so badly and trampled upon him that St. Flavian, on the third day, gave up his soul to God. What happened in the end? At the Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon 451 A.D.], Eutyches and Dioscorus were anathematized. The eunuch was ousted from the court and shamefully ended his life. The Empress Eudoxia was banished from Constantinople to Palestine. Flavian and Plucheria were proclaimed as saints and the Orthodox Faith victoriously confirmed.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus among the Pharisees and Scribes:
1. How He made every effort to uplift the Pharisees and Scribes and to save them, and how they made every effort to overthrow and kill Him;
2. How He wished to correct their every thought and word, and how they wished to twist His every thought and word;
3. How He was saddened, that He could not enliven them and how they were saddened that they were unable to kill Him.
About the struggle of the weak with the Almighty
"And the chief priests plottedto kill Lazarus too" (St. John 12:10).
They agreed among themselves to first kill the Maker and then His work. For Lazarus was the work of Christ. What is the use, they nefariously thought, to kill the Miracle-worker and to leave a living witness of His greatest miracle? For then, the people would be inflamed at them as evil doers! But, nevertheless, it happened that they killed Christ and missed Lazarus. And then? And then, they and their think alikes - killed scores of His apostles and missed hundreds. Then they killed thousands and missed hundreds of thousands. Then, they killed hundreds of thousands and missed millions. Finally it became clear that behind their backs, even the slain were resurrected to life as mown grass and those designated to be killed before the faces of the murderers, grew as sown grass. In vain did the wise Gamaliel say: "But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them" (Acts of the Apostles 5:39). Those who wage war against God throughout the centuries in vain did they hone their own helplessness to mow down the crop of God. The more they cut down, the more the crops of God grew luxuriantly.
O unreasonable combatants against Christ, those of that time and the present! Your mace rebounds from the city of Christ and strikes your own shed and destroys it into dust and ashes. Throughout the ages, you have had enough allies: besides the devil, with you were heretics, idolaters, fanatics, soothsayers, divinators depraved princes and the wealthy, tyrants and all insensitive sinners. Up to now you have been defeated and without any doubt all of your allies together with you will be defeated to the end of time.
For that let it be to You O Almighty and irresistible Lord glory and thanks always. Amen.
(*) Proverbs 16:18
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