Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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October 221. Saint Abercius, Equal to the Apostles
During the reigns of Emperor Antoninus and his son, Marcus Aurelius, St. Abercius was the bishop of the city of Hierapolis in Phrygia. The great majority in this city were pagans, and St. Abercius governed his sparse flock, sorrowing in his heart because of the great number of pagans and idolaters, and diligently praying to God that He would bring them to the light of truth. During a boisterous idolatrous festival, Abercius became inflamed with God's zeal and entered the idolatrous temple, smashing all the idols. When the enraged pagans sought to kill him, three young madmen, foaming at the mouth and howling, fell down before this man of God, and he drove the demons from them. The young men became sane and calm. This turned the pagans' anger into amazement at the wonderworker of Christ, and five hundred of them immediately desired baptism. Little by little, all of Hierapolis came to believe in Christ and were baptized. The proconsul of the province, Publius, had a mother who was blind. Abercius restored her sight by prayer, and Publius, his mother and many others believed in Christ. In old age, Abercius was summoned to Rome, where he healed the emperor's daughter of insanity. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared several times to His faithful follower. People from near and far came to him for miraculous help when they suffered from incurable illnesses. The demons not only feared him, but also served him at his command. At the guidance of the Lord Himself, Abercius preached the Gospel throughout Syria and Mesopotamia. In great old age, St. Abercius presented himself to his beloved Lord in Hierapolis, at the end of the second century.
2. The Venerable Lot
Lot was a great Egyptian ascetic and a contemporary of St. Arsenius the Great and St. Agathon. He lived a life of asceticism in his monastery near a lake at the town of Arsinoe, and directed many brethren on the path to salvation. His close friend and advisor was Abba Joseph. Lot once said to Joseph: ``Abba, I fast as much as I can, hold fast to prayer, keep silence and contemplate, and also, through abstinence, guard myself from impure thoughts. Therefore, what else can I do?'' The elder stood up, raised his hands to heaven, and his ten fingers shone like ten flaming candles. He then replied: ``If you desire, you can be all aflame!'' Having pleased God and set many on the path to salvation, St. Lot entered peacefully into rest in the fifth century.
3. Commemoration of the Miraculous Deliverance of Moscow from the Lithuanians with the help of the Most-holy Theotokos
During the reign of Prince Basil Ivanovich, the Lithuanians occupied Moscow and the Russians were in great despair. Then St. Sergius of Radonezh appeared in a vision to the captured Bishop Arsenius, and promised him that Moscow would be cleansed of the Lithuanians the very next day, by the power and prayer of the Holy Most-pure One. Indeed, the Lithuanians fled the city, and the Russian army re-entered Moscow. The entire populace glorified God and the Most-holy Theotokos with tears of joy.
HYMN OF PRAISE
St. Abercius, a model of meekness,
As much as the strictness of holy men toward themselves is a cause for amazement, so also is their compassion toward others. They have disinterest for themselves, and concern for others. St. Hilarion the Great, unable to pay his fare to Sicily, offered the owner of the ship his Gospel (which he, in his youth, had copied with his own hands). When he had cured a certain prince of an unclean spirit, the prince wanted to present him with ten liters of gold. The saint would not accept the gold, but showed him barley bread and said: ``Those who feed on this kind of bread look upon gold as mud!'' When men begged him to pray to God for rain, or to save them from floods or poisonous snakes, St. Hilarion helped them by his prayer. This is how St. Abercius acted as well. Seeing many people in pain and sickness, he knelt in a certain place and prayed to God that He would open up a spring of warm, healing water there, that the infirm might be healed and glorify God. God then opened a spring of warm water on that spot. When Abercius healed the emperor's daughter of insanity, the emperor offered him gold, silver and other gifts, but St. Abercius said: ``Riches are not needed for one who considers bread and water a royal meal.'' Not seeking anything for himself, Abercius nevertheless begged the emperor to do two favors for his flock in Hierapolis: to build a bath over those healing waters, and to give sufficient wheat each year to the poor of Hierapolis. The emperor agreed and did according to the saint's request.
Contemplate the miraculous healing of Aeneas of Lydda (Acts 9):
Thou art fairer than the sons of men (Psalm 45:2).
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