Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. SAINT ZACHARIAS PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM
During the reign of the Greek Emperor Heraclius, the Persian Emperor Chozroes attacked Jerusalem in the year 614 A.D. Chozroes pillaged the city, removed the Honorable Cross [of Christ] to Persia and took an enormous number of Christians into bondage, among them was Patriarch Zacharias. The Jews assisted Chozroes in committing evil against the Christians. Among the other Jewish wickedness, this one is mentioned: the Jews purchased from Chozroes 90,000 Christians as their slaves and slew them all. The aged patriarch Zacharias remained in bondage for fourteen years. Many miracles occurred in Persia as a result of the Honorable Cross, so even the Persians said: "The Christian God came to Persia." Later on, Heraclius forced the Persian emperor to return the Honorable Cross to Jerusalem along with the patriarch and the remaining captives. Emperor Heraclius himself bore the Cross on his shoulders into the Holy City. St. Zacharias spent his remaining days in peace and took up habitation with the Lord in the year 631 A.D. He was succeeded on the throne by Patriarch Modestus and followed by St. Sophronius (March 11).
2. THE VENERABLE TIMOTHY
Timothy was a recluse in a place called Symbola on the Asiatic side of Mount
Olympus. In his youth, Timothy entered a monastery, was tonsured a monk and until old age spent his earthly time in fasting, prayer, vigils and ceaseless labor. He remained pure and chaste throughout his entire life. To the pure and chaste God gives authority over evil spirits and He gave this to Timothy. Though his labors for the salvation of his soul, St. Timothy succeeded to build in himself a beautiful home for the Holy Spirit. This holy man died in the year 795 A.D.
3. SAINT EUSTATHIUS THE ARCHBISHOP OF ANTIOCH
Eustathius was a great zealot and protector of Orthodoxy. As such, he was especially prominent at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea 325 A.D.], where he intellectually and systematically refuted the teaching of Arius. With the other Holy Fathers, Eustathius confessed correctly that Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit according to divine Hypostasis [natures]. Following the death of Emperor Constantine, the Arians somehow again gained prevalence and began to bitterly persecute Orthodoxy. St. Eustathius was ousted from his throne and exiled, at first to Thrace and after that to Macedonia. Eustathius suffered much and long until, in the end, he gave up his holy soul to God in the year 345 A.D.
4. SAINT JOHN III SCHOLASTICUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE
As an advocate, John was ordained a priest and after that became patriarch in the year 565 A.D. He complied canons, which were included in the Nomo-Canon. During
his time, the divine hymn, The Cherubic Hymn, as well as the prayer before Holy Communion of Thy Mystical Supper were included in the Holy and Divine Liturgy.
The Cherubic Hymn
[Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim,
and who sing the trice-holy hymn to the life-
creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly cares.
That we may receive the King of All, who
comes invisible upborne by the angelic hosts.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!]
Prayer Before Holy Communion
[I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art
truly the Christ, the Son of the living God,
who came into the world to save sinners, of
whom I am first. I believe also that this is
truly Thine own pure Body, and that
this is truly Thine own precious Blood. There-
fore, I pray Thee: have mercy upon me and
forgive my transgressions both voluntary and
involuntary, of word and of deed, committed
knowingly and unknowingly, of knowledge and
of ignorance. And make me worthy to partake
without condemnation of Thy most pure
Mysteries, for the remission of my sins,
and unto life everlasting. Amen.
Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God,
accept me today as a communicant; for I will
not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies,
neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but
like the thief will I confess Thee: Remember
me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.
May the communion of Thy holy Mysteries be
neither to my judgment, nor to my condemnation,
O Lord, but to the healing of soul and body].
John died peacefully and gave up his soul to God in the year 577 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HONORABLE CROSS
Covered with blood, the saving Cross,
As though in a grave, for a long time, covered with darkness!
For three days in darkness, from you [the Cross] a Hero [Christ] dwelled,
And you [the Cross], three hundred years, under the ground lay.
When, from Hades the forefathers He liberated, the Lord arose,
And, when freedom for the Church reigned, You [the Cross] arose.
After that, the Lord, for a little while, remained on earth
And to the faithful, you [the Cross] for sometime, still shown,
Until you [the Cross] adequately helped them to strengthen the Faith,
Until with the sign of the Cross, everyone learned to sign themselves,
Until, by their conscience, the baptized recognized the power of the Cross -
With this, you [the Cross] completed your service with honor,
A thousand seasons if they come and pass, but still,
Your image, your power will not perish.
The faithful, before the Honorable Cross, pray to Christ the God,
Heal all difficulties, heal all pains by the Honorable Cross.
What is fortune telling? There are three kinds of belief, which have their origin in fortune telling: belief in blind chance, belief in things and belief in the almighty power of the spirits of darkness. Through fortune telling, events are prophesied, the power of things differentiated and an oath is sworn to the spirits of darkness. Not any faith so decisively condemned and rejected fortune telling as did the Christian Faith. Not any faith, except Christianity is free and pure of fortune telling. Other faiths are, more or less, fortune telling and some consist only of fortune telling. Fortune telling means to subject man to lower things and beings lower than man. From this, one can say that fortune telling can be called a belief in darkness. That is why the Apostle Paul speaks: "Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion" (1 Timothy 4:7). Christianity is a Faith of light in two senses: First because it elevates man above chance, above all things and above the spirits of darkness; and Second that it subordinates man only to the authority of the Living, Wise and Almighty God. The All-seeing God exists that is why blind chance does not exist. In spiritual union with this All-seeing and Living God, man can be more exalted than all things and more powerful than all the spirits of darkness.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus in conversation with the rich young man: "An official asked him this question, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments, `You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother.' And he replied, "All of these I have observed from my youth." When Jesus heard this he said to him, " There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich" (St. Luke 18:18-23).
1. How the rich man sought counsel and was not prepared to sacrifice;
2. How our Lord pointed out to him the way to sacrifice which is necessary for the purchase of eternal life;
3. How the rich man left sorrowfully for he could not part with his riches.
About fasting and prayer
"This kind can come outby nothing, but prayerand fasting" (St. Mark 9:29).
This is the saving prescription of the greatest Physician of human souls. This is the remedy tried and proved. Another remedy for lunacy, there is not. What kind of sickness is that? That is the presence and dominance of an evil spirit in a man, a dangerous evil spirit who labors to eventually destroy the body and soul of man. The boy whom our Lord freed from an evil spirit; this evil spirit that had hurled him at times in the fire, at times in the water just in order to destroy him.
As long as a man only philosophizes about God he is weak and completely helpless against the evil spirit. The evil spirit ridicules the feeble sophistry of the world. But, as soon as a man begins to fast and to pray to God, the evil spirit becomes filled with indescribable fear. In no way can the evil spirit tolerate the aroma of prayer and fasting. The sweet-smelling aroma chokes him and weakens him to utter exhaustion. In a man who only philosophizes about faith, there is spacious room in him for the demons. But in a man who sincerely begins to pray to God and to fast with patience and hope, for the demon it becomes narrow and constricted and he must flee from such a man. Against certain bodily ills there exists only one remedy. Against the greatest ill of the soul, demonism, there exists two remedies, which must be utilized at one and the same time: fasting and prayer. The apostles and saints fasted and prayed to God. That is why they were so powerful against evil spirits.
O gracious Jesus, our Physician and Helper in all miseries, strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit that we may be able to adhere to Your saving precepts concerning fasting and prayer for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of our fellow men.
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