Prologue of Ohrid


April 21


This saint was the Bishop of Benevento in Italy. At the time of the persecution under Maximian, Januarius was brought before the court and tortured in various ways, which he blamelessly and patiently endured. When they cast him into the fire, the fire was cooled by an invisible dew, and the martyr stood unharmed amidst the flames, singing praises to God. Then they scrapped his body with iron brushes until the bones showed white, which the martyr innocently and patiently endured. His deacon, Festus, and his reader, Desiderius, witnessed the suffering of the martyr and wept for their spiritual father. Then they too were bound and, together with Bishop Januarius, were brought to the city of Puteoli [near Naples] and cast into prison. In this same prison, for the sake of Christ, were Sussos, Deacon of Miseno, and Proculus, Deacon of Puzzuoli and two Christian laymen Euticius and Acutius. The next day all seven of them were thrown to the wild beasts, but the wild beasts did not touch them. They were all beheaded, and the Christians of the city of Naples secretly carried away to their city the body of St. Januarius and buried it honorably in church. To the present day numerous miracles have occurred at the grave of this saint. Among the many miracles one is particularly remembered: A poor widow, whose only son had died, removed the icon of St. Januarius from the church and placed it on the body of her dead son, sobbing and praying to the saint, and her son returned to life. St. Januarius honorably suffered in the year 305 A.D.


Theodore suffered for the Faith of Christ in Perga of Pamphylia, during the reign of Emperor Antoninus. Theodore was young and of handsome countenance. When the governor of that province chose him, along with other young men, who were to be sent to the imperial court for service, Theodore objected and declared that he was a Christian. Because of this, he underwent many kinds of tortures and was then thrown into the fire. But water bubbled out of the ground and quenched the fire. The governor attributed this to some magic on Theodore's part, but the martyr said: "This is not the work of my power but of Christ my God. If you want to know the power of your gods, light another fire and throw in one of your soldiers. Then I hope you will see the power of your gods, and the almighty power of my God." Indeed, the governor wanted to cast one of his soldiers into the fire, but they, out of fear, implored him to throw in Dioscorus, the pagan priest, instead. The pagan priest Dioscorus then begged the governor to throw in the idol of Zeus and the other idols, for if they were gods, they will easily save themselves. Dioscorus said this because he had turned to Christ in his heart, having seen the miracle that took place with St. Theodore. Learning of this, the governor sentenced Dioscorus to death by burning. Also delivered over to death by the governor were Theodore and the two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, as well as Theodore's mother, Philippa. Theodore was crucified on a cross, on which he expired on the third day. Socrates and Dionysius were pierced with a spear, and Philippa was beheaded. All were crowned with the wreaths of glory in the Kingdom of Christ.



"I serve one King, and another I cannot serve;

I serve the Living Christ, the Lord and God!"

Thus said Theodore to the Roman governor.

The governor looked upon him as upon a beautiful picture,

And, at first, began to dissuade him quietly,

But all dissuasion remained to no avail.

In a fiery furnace, with companions two,

Theodore filled his mouth with Psalms.

God, over the terrible fire, a cold dew poured,

In the midst of the fire, Theodore to his Lord prayed,

That, before his death, his mother once more to see:

"According to Your mercy, O God, do this for me!"

And the mother [Philippa], in the furnace, appeared before her son;

To one another they said what had to be said.

Philippa, the aged mother, the governor summoned;

The aged one obediently responded to him.

"I called you," said he, "to counsel your son

To openly deny the Nazarene,

And to acknowledge the gods of the Roman Empire--

If you wish that your son not die."

And Philippa said: "Before I gave birth to him,

I prayed to God: 'Lord, have mercy!'

And I received the reply that I would live

To see my son crucified for Christ.

And now, that is why toward death I am indifferent;

For the death of both of us, to God I am grateful."


"Guard your heart!" These words were spoken in the past by experienced ascetics. Father John of Kronstadt says the same thing in our days: "The heart is refined, spiritual and heavenly by nature. Guard it. Do not overburden it; do not make it earthly; be temperate to the utmost in food and drink, and, in general, in bodily pleasures. The heart is the temple of God. If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person (1 Corinthians 3:17)." Spiritual experience in ancient times and spiritual experience in our time is identical, under the condition that the confession of faith is identical. The heavenly knowledge to which the ascetics of old attained does not differ from the heavenly knowledge to which the ascetics of today attain. For, as Christ is the same today and tomorrow, so it is the same with human nature. The main thing is: the human heart is the same; its thirst and its hunger are the same; and nothing is able to satisfy it but the glory, power and riches of God.


To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How when He appeared to the apostles, He appeared to all of us;

2. How His Resurrection is the proof of eternal life and the announcement of eternal life to all of mankind.


About Christ in the hearts of the faithful

"And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:17).

A person does not have Christ who has Him only on his tongue. Neither does a person have Christ who has Him only on paper. Neither does a person have Christ who has Him only on the wall. Neither does a person have Christ who has Him only in a museum of the past. A person, in truth, has Christ who has Him in his heart. For Christ is Love and the throne of Love is the heart.

If Christ is in your heart, then, for you, He is God. If He is only on your tongue, or on paper, or on a wall, or in a museum of the past--and even if you call Him God--for you, He is but a toy. Beware then, O man, for no one can play around with God without punishment.

The heart is a seemingly narrow organ, but God can dwell in it. When God dwells in it, then it is filled, and filled to overflowing, and nothing else can stand in it. If, however, the whole world were to settle in it, it would remain empty without God.

Brethren, let Christ, the resurrected and living Lord, pour faith into your hearts, and your hearts will be filled, and filled to overflowing. He cannot enter and dwell in your hearts except through your faith. If you do not possess faith, Christ will remain only on your tongue, or on paper, or on the wall, or in a museum of the past. What kind of benefit do you have from that? What kind of benefit do you have to hold life on your tongue and death in your heart? For, if you hold the world in your heart and Christ on your tongue, you hold death in your heart and life on your tongue. Water on the tongue of the thirsty does not help. Let the living Christ into your heart, and you will be permeated with the truth and you will sense unspeakable sweetness.

O resurrected Lord, cleanse our heart from the deadly guests who dwell in it, and You Yourself take up dwelling in it, that we may live and glorify You.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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