Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. The Holy Martyr Sozon
Sozon was born in Lyconia. He was a shepherd and kept all of God's laws, instructing his peers and friends in his pious Faith. In a vision he was shown that he would suffer martyrdom for Christ. This was in the time of Maximian, magistrate of Cilicia, who perpetrated a terrible persecution of Christians in the nearby city of Pompeiopolis. In that city there was a certain golden idol which the pagans worshiped. Sozon left his flock, went to the city, entered the pagan temple and broke the arm off the golden idol. He crumbled it into bits and distributed it to the poor. There was a great uproar because of this, and the pagans sought out the guilty one. So that no one else would suffer for his deed, Sozon went to the magistrate and declared himself to be a Christian and the perpetrator of that act. His torturers first beat him, then suspended him from a tree and scraped his body with iron combs. When he was nearly dead, they cast him into a fire, where St. Sozon gave up his holy soul to God. He suffered in about the year 304. St. Sozon's relics were miracle-working, and a church in his name was built over them.
2. The Holy Apostles Euodus and Onesiphorus
Euodus and Onesiphorus were apostles of the Seventy. St Ignatius the God-bearer mentions Euodus with great praise in his Epistle to the Antiochians. Euodus was a disciple of the Apostle Peter, and his successor as Bishop of Antioch. The Apostle Peter himself consecrated him. Euodus wrote a work on the Holy Theotokos, in which he related how the Holy Virgin Mary was brought to the Temple at the age of three, and remained in the Temple for eleven years; how, on entering her fifteenth year, she was entrusted to St. Joseph for protection; and how, at age fifteen, she gave birth to the Lord. Euodus also wrote another work entitled ``The Beacon.'' However, both of these works were destroyed during the persecution of Christians. He was slain for Christ during Emperor Vespasian's persecutions in Antioch. The Apostle Paul mentions St. Onesiphorus as his sincere friend and helper (II Timothy 1:16-18). St. Onesiphorus suffered for Christ in Colophon, where he was bishop. It is said that he was tied to wild horses and pulled apart. Thus, these faithful soldiers of Christ honorably served on earth, and entered into the joy of their Lord.
3. The Holy Martyr Eupsychius
Eupsychius was the son of Dionysius, a senator. He was severely tortured for Christ, being beaten and scraped, and was thrown half-dead into prison, where an angel of God came to him and healed him. Released from prison, he distributed all of his possessions-some to the poor and some to his slanderers. He was arrested again, and his body was scraped until he gave up his soul to God. Instead of blood, milk and water flowed from his wounds. He suffered in the time of Emperor Hadrian.
4. Saint John, Archbishop of Novgorod
John was a priest who was ordained Bishop of Novgorod in 1163. He built seven churches during his lifetime. He had a vision of the Holy Theotokos, and had unusual power over demons, whom he even forced to serve him. He miraculously saved Novgorod from an attack by seventy-two princes. He suffered from diabolical temptations, but by the power of the Cross and much prayer he overcame them all. In old age, he withdrew to a monastery and received the great schema. He reposed peacefully in the Lord on September 7, 1185.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The young Sozon, a right-believing hero,
Victory over anger is one of the greatest victories of a soldier of Christ. We generally become angry either at those we wish to turn back from sin, or at those who slander us. However, in doing so we forget that anger is a mortal sin, and in desiring the salvation of others we lose our own, according to the words of St. Macarius. Anger against our enemies is usually tied to another evil impulse, the desire for revenge. St. Eupsychius so overcame the passion of anger in himself, that before his death, he gave one portion of his great estate to the poor and another portion to his slanderers, because of whom he was being tortured and slain. He considered his slanderers as his benefactors. St. John Chrysostom writes: ``Let us clip the wings of anger, and evil will not rise high. Anger is an evil sickness that can destroy our souls…. Anger is a terrible fire which devours everything…. If an angry man could see himself at the moment of his anger, he would need no other counsel not to become angry-because there is nothing more unpleasant than an angry face.'' Abba Ammon confessed of himself: ``I spent fourteen years in Scetis, praying to God day and night, to give me victory over anger.''
Contemplate Solomon's honoring of his mother (I Kings 2):
My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me (John 4:34).
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