Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. THE HOLY APOSTLES PROCHORUS, NICANOR, TIMON AND PARAMENAS
All four were numbered among the Seven Deacons and the Seventy Apostles. The remaining deacons were Stephen, Philip and Nicholas. Stephen, the first martyr, is commemorated separately on December 27 and Philip on October 11. Because of his heresy, Nicholas did not enter into the ranks of the saints. The first four do not have a separate day of celebration but are commemorated on this one day, July 28. Saint Prochorus was ordained by the Apostle Peter to be the bishop of Nicomedia. For a time he was in the service of St. John the Evangelist and, on the Island of Patmos, copied the Book of Revelation which he heard from the mouth of St. John. After that he returned to Nicomedia where he exerted much effort and labor to convert the people to the Faith. He died a martyr's death in Antioch where he was slain by unbelievers. Saint Nicanor suffered in Jerusalem the same day as St. Stephen the Arch-deacon and, soon after him, two thousand other Christians were slain by the wicked Jews. Saint Timon was a bishop in Arabia and suffered on the cross for Christ. Saint Paramenas died before the eyes of the apostles and was mourned and buried by them.
2. THE HOLY MARTYR JULIAN
During the reign of Emperor Antoninus, St. Julian crossed over from Dalmatia into Campania in Italy. He was a handsome young man and with his soul was completely devoted to the Lord. Enroute he met the soldiers of the emperor who were going out to arrest Christians. "Brethren, peace be to you!" Julian addressed them. By such a greeting and by the gentleness of the young man's countenance, the soldiers concluded that he was a Christian. To their question, Julian answered them: "I am a Christian born in Dalmatia." In addition, Julian openly admitted before them that he was traveling with the goal of converting idolaters to the One Living God. The soldiers beat him mercilessly and finally threw him into a pit where he remained for seven days without any human sustenance. An angel of God, who appeared to him, gave him heavenly food. Being brought to trial, Julian remained firm in the Faith as a diamond. Witnessing his courage and steadfastness in the Faith, thirty men converted to Christ the Lord. Sentenced to death, Saint Julian knelt and lifted up prayer to God, giving thanks to God for his martyr's mortification and begged Him to have mercy on all those who would honor his memory. He was beheaded and gave up his soul to God.
3. VENERABLE PAUL OF THE MONASTERY OF XEROPOTAMOU
Paul was the son of Emperor Michael Cyropalates. With an excellent education, with rare wisdom and at the same time combined with meekness, Procopius (as he was earlier called) was in his youthful years a subject of astonishment to all of Constantinople. In one of his charters, Emperor Roman the Elder, calls him "the greatest of all the philosophers." Being afraid that his soul would become proud, and that it not perish because of human glory, this handsome youth one day dressed in the rags of a beggar and came to Holy Mount Athos where he received the monastic tonsure from the illustrious Saint Cosmas. After enduring mortification of solitude, he restored the Monastery Xeropotamou and shortly after that build a new monastery of Saint Paul where he died in old age. When this monastery was consecrated, Emperor Roman sent a large portion of the Holy and Venerable Cross as a gift, which is preserved there even today. It is said of this saint, that he preached the Holy Gospel in Macedonia and in Serbia. He endured much torment from the wicked Emperor Leo the Armenian, the Iconoclast, and reposed in the year 820 A.D. Before his death, St. Paul said to the brethren: "Behold the hour comes which my soul has always desired and which my body has always feared."
4. THE HOLY MARTYR EUSTATHIUS [EUSTACE]
This martyr for Christ was a soldier in Ancyra. Brought to trial, he was not afraid of any tortures, but freely praised the name of the Lord Christ. Commander Cornelius ordered his feet to be drilled through and threaded with a rope and they dragged this man of God to a river and threw him into the river. Being saved by the power of God and healed of his wounds, Eustace appeared before the commander completely whole. When the commander saw him alive, he was so frightened that he took out his sword and stabbed himself. Eustace still lived for a while longer and died in the Lord in the year 316 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT PAUL OF XEROPOTAMOU
The young Paul, the world highly glorified,
Therefore, the young crown-prince abandoned royalty
And royal glow, wealth and power,
And decaying opulence and intrigues of the city,
Fled from everyone, fled from everything,
Into the wilderness, where the saints hide
And their souls to save through austere mortification,
Day and night of praise, God, they glorify,
A place, Paul found on Mt. Athos
That from his soul creates he, a new dough,
That as in a child, his soul becomes,
And the essence of himself and the world to discover.
What Paul desired, that he accomplished,
On the laborious path, God helped him
His soul saved from passions destructive,
From the power of the demons, his soul saved;
With the Cross of Christ's Crucifixion, he baptized all
Both body and soul. And as a candle pure
Beautifully lighted from the love of God,
To the heavens he was lifted by the angels of God.
The young Paul because he abandoned the kingdom, God,
Greatly glorified him in the heavenly kingdom.
Concerning kindness, St. Nilus of Mt. Sinai writes: "My son, always strive to be simple and kind. Do not have one thing in your heart and another thing on your tongue for this is a ruse and a lie. Be truthful and not false for falsehood is of the evil one. Do not return evil for evil but if someone does you evil, forgive him so that God may also forgive you. If you are tormented by the remembrance of evil thoughts, pray to God for that brother [the evil doer] with your entire soul and the remembrance of evil thoughts will flee from you." It is told how a young man decided to serve a very eccentric old man so that God would forgive him of his sins. He endured twelve years in this most difficult service and presented himself to God. A great spiritual man saw the soul of the young man in Paradise as he was praying to God for the evil old man: "Lord, as You had mercy on me because of him, have mercy on him according to Your great goodness and because of me Your servant." After forty days this eccentric old man died and, again, that spiritual man saw the soul of that old man reposing in the Kingdom of Heaven. What a most beautiful and miraculous kindness of this patient youth in truth, miraculous!
To contemplate the miraculous burning of the sacrifice on the stone (Judges 6):
1. How an angel appeared to Gideon and Gideon ran to bring bread and meat to offer hospitality to the angel;
2. How the angel touched the bread and meat with the top of the staff and a fire arose and burned the sacrifice.
About the irrational questions of the irrational ones
"Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Peter 3:4).
Thus ask the scoffers of the holy things of God. They who scoff at the words and works of God scoff at the promises of God. We the faithful say that the Lord will come and they scoff and say when will He come since He has not yet come? We say that the Lord promised to come and they scoff and say: "Where is the promise of His coming?" They say our fathers lived and died waiting for His coming and He did not come. Will we then still wait for Him, they say? Yes brethren, we wait for Him and we will wait for Him. He promised to come and He will come. The Holy apostle confirms the promise of the Lord; behold, he heard it from the lips of the Lord Himself, from the lips from which only truth proceeds. "With the Lord, a thousand years is as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). With these words the apostle seals the mouths of the scoffers and teaches us patience. Soon it will be two thousand years since the Son of God gave His promise that He will return again "in Power and in Glory" to save the faithful and to punish the unfaithful but He still has not yet come, so speak the scoffers. O ignorant scoffers, is two thousand years as long for God as it is for you? For do you not think that for Him two thousand years are as two days? Does He have to fulfill all of His promises in the course of two days? He, the Immortal One, is not in a hurry as you mortal ones are in a hurry. You are in a hurry for you will shortly die but He is Immortal and is not afraid of death. When He comes, He will find you in your graves. The trump of the angels will awaken you and you will rise, only to see that He is truthful and you will then be lowered into the dark kingdom of the slanderers, for you slander the Lord of Truth and drove Him into a lie. Brethren, the Lord does not want that we be inquisitive with regard to the day and the hour when He will come; He only wants that we believe that He will come. When He comes, be we dead or alive, we will see His coming. Is this not enough?
O Lord God, Our Savior, teach us patience and strengthen us in the Faith. You will come, we know.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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