Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. The Consecration of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ
When the holy Empress Helena found the Cross of our Lord in Jerusalem, she stayed awhile in the Holy City, and built churches in Gethsemane and Bethlehem, and on the Mount of Olives, as well as other places prominent in the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. On Golgotha, where she found the Honorable Cross, she began the building of an enormous church. The church was designed to encompass the Place of the Skull, where the Lord was crucified, as well as the place where He was buried. The saintly empress wanted to include the place of His suffering and the place of His glory under the same roof. However, Helena reposed in the Lord before this majestic church was completed. By the time it was completed, Constantine was celebrating the thirtieth year of his reign. Thus, the consecration of the church and the emperor's jubilee were celebrated on the same day, September 13, 335. A local council of bishops was being held in Tyre at that time. These bishops, and many others, came to Jerusalem for the solemn consecration of the Church of the Resurrection of the Lord. It was then established that this day-a day of victory and triumph for the Church of Christ-be solemnly commemorated every year.
2. The Holy Hieromartyr Cornelius the Centurion
Cornelius was a Roman and an officer in Caesarea of Palestine. As the result of a heavenly revelation, the Apostle Peter baptized him (Acts 10:1). He was the first among the pagans to enter God's Church. Until then, some thought that the Church was only for the Jews and those who received the circumcision of the Jews. Having been baptized, Cornelius left everything and followed the apostle. Later, Peter consecrated him a bishop and sent him to the pagan town of Skep, where St. Cornelius endured much humiliation and torture for the sake of Christ. Even so, he destroyed the temple of Apollo there by the power of God, and baptized Prince Demetrius with 277 other pagans. Being forewarned by God of the day of his death, Cornelius summoned all the Christians together, counseled them, prayed to God for them, and peacefully presented himself to the Lord in honorable old age. In time, his grave site was neglected and forgotten, but the saint appeared to Silvanus the Bishop of Troas and revealed it to him, commanding that a church be built there. The bishop carried this out with the help of Eugenius, a wealthy citizen. Many miracles have been worked by the relics of St. Cornelius.
3. The Holy Martyrs Macrobius and Gordian
They were from Paphlagonia. They began as imperial attendants, but when they declared themselves Christians, the emperor banished them to Scythia. There, they were thrown into a fire at a place called New Danube, in the year 320.
4. The Holy Martyr Ketevan
Ketevan was Queen of Kakheti [in Georgia]. She suffered as a Christian under Shah Abbas I, in the year 1624. By order of the Shah, a red-hot kettle was placed over her head. Her son Teimuraz, the King of Georgia, placed her relics beneath the altar of the church at Alaverdi in Georgia.
5. The Venerable Hierotheus
Hierotheus was born in the Peloponnese in the village of Kalamata. He labored in asceticism in the Monastery of Iveron on the Holy Mountain. He was distinguished by great secular learning and by strict monastic asceticism. He strove to fulfill this rule of St. Arsenius: ``In the course of twenty-four hours, one hour of sleep is sufficient for a monk.'' Hierotheus entered into rest on the island of Varos in the year 1745. His relics are miracle-working. Of these relics, his head is preserved in the Monastery of Iveron. Upon touching his holy relics in Constantinople, a blind woman received her sight.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Wondrous Cornelius, pious in feeling
What happens to the persecutors of Christ's Church? Ask Saul, the persecutor of the Church, what happened to him. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks (Acts 9:5), the Lord said to Saul; and Saul was baptized and became Paul. What happened to Herod, the first persecutor of Christians? What happened to Julian the Apostate? They died evil deaths and their efforts against Christ dispersed into nothing, like smoke. And so it was throughout all of history: some persecutors converted to Christianity and others died evil deaths; but always, the efforts of one or the other against Christianity are dispersed into nothing, like smoke. When he attacked Jerusalem, Emperor Hadrian sought revenge against the Jews and against the Christians, for he did not distinguish Christians from Jews. He dispersed the Jews throughout the world, and built an idolatrous temple on the spot where the Temple of Solomon had stood. He also renamed Jerusalem ``Aelia,'' after his own name [Aelius], and forbade that this city be called Jerusalem by anyone. He built a temple on Golgotha to the foul Venus, a temple to Zeus over the tomb of the Lord, and a temple to Adonis in Bethlehem. How sorrowful the Christians of that time must have felt, seeing their holy shrines mocked in such a manner. But what happened in the end? Emperor Hadrian died an evil death and, in the time of Empress Helena and Emperor Constantine, the pagan temples were torn down, and in their places beautiful Christian churches were built-and these are still standing, even today. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Oh, how desperate and hopeless is every struggle against Christ!
Contemplate the vanity of men's efforts in opposition to the will of God (I Kings 12):
The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth (John 7:7).
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