Prologue of Ohrid


March 16


Born in Cyprus, Aristobulus was the brother of the Apostle Barnabas. He followed the Apostle Paul, who mentions him in his Epistle to the Romans: Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus (Romans 16:10). When the great Apostle appointed many bishops throughout the various parts of the world, he appointed Aristobulus as bishop for the British, that is, for England. In Britain the people were savage, heathen and wicked. Aristobulus endured many indescribable tortures, misfortunes and evils among them. They struck and beat him mercilessly, dragged him through the streets, ridiculed, and mocked him. Finally this holy man succeeded, by the power of the grace of God. He enlightened the people, baptized them in the name of Christ the Lord, built churches, ordained priests and deacons, and in the end died there peacefully and entered into the Kingdom of the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served.


Sabinus was a Syrian from the city of Hermopolis and an official of that city. At the time of a persecution against the Christians, he withdrew to a mountain with a large number of other Christians and closed himself off in a hut. There he spent his time in fasting and prayer. A certain beggar, who brought him food and for whom Sabinus had done much good, reported him. As Judas did to Christ, so also this unfortunate one betrayed his benefactor for two pieces of gold. Sabinus, along with six others, was apprehended, bound by the soldiers and brought to stand trial. After severe torments, he was cast into the River Nile, where he gave up his soul to God in the year 287.A.D.


They were born in Syria and were brothers by birth. They openly and freely preached Christ and denounced the folly of the Hellenes [Greeks] and Romans. The enraged pagans decided to stone them to death. However, when they began hurling stones at these two holy brothers, the stones turned back and struck the assailants, and the brothers remained unharmed. Afterward they were both crucified. From their crosses the brothers taught and encouraged those Christians who stood sorrowfully around. After much agony they presented their souls to the Lord, to Whom they had remained faithful to the end. They suffered honorably in the year 300 A.D. in the city of Bofor.*)
*) In the Greek Synaxarion the Venerable Christodulos is also mentioned on this day. He lived a life of asceticism on the island of Patmos, where he build a monastery dedicated to John the Theologian. He died in the year 1111 A.D. Many miracles have occurred over his relics.



Two blood-brothers imbued by the Spirit,

Illumined and regenerated by faith.

These two brothers, on the cross crucified,

Counseled the masses of right-believing people:

"O brethren, why do you gaze upon us from below?

Do not bitterly weep because of our difficult sufferings!

Christ our Savior, Doer of heroic deeds,

Became the Redeemer because of such sufferings,

The Redeemer of the whole human race.

Listening to Him, we are being saved.

He obeyed the Father, and to the earth descended;

He suffered and resurrected, and into heaven ascended.

To Him we hearken, and we endure sufferings;

Through sufferings we walk into His Kingdom.

Fear not, brethren, either fire or the sword;

The justice of Christ is stronger than the whole world.

Fear not brethren; neither feel sorrow for yourselves.

Deny yourselves for the sake of eternal salvation.

All sufferings are small, trivial and bearable

Compared to the rewards of Paradise, eternal and sublime.

The world, a false mask, is an insane illusion.

Eternity: that is our true homeland.

Give the world to those who love the lie of the world;

Because of lies, they forfeit life and truth.

But you--seize the pearl above the mud of the world."

Harken, brethren, to Trophimus and Thallus!


If we fulfill the Law of God in our thoughts, how much easier will it be for us to fulfill it in our deeds? That is, if we do not transgress the Law of God in our thoughts, how much easier will it be not to transgress it in our deeds? Furthermore, if our hearts are with God, then our tongues, hands and feet--our entire body--cannot be against God. Your heart! Your heart!  Prepare your heart for God. Consecrate it to God and worship Him, fulfill the Law of God in it, unite it with God, and all the rest will follow and will be governed by the heart. It is not he who holds a spoke of the wheel that steers the wheel, but he who holds its axis. The heart is the axis of our being. Speaking about the commandments of God, the Venerable Hesychius says: "If you compel yourself to fulfill them in your thoughts, then you will rarely have the need to strain yourself to fulfill them in deed." That is, if you set your heart on God, as on an axis, then the wheels will easily and comfortably follow the axis. In other words, the entire man will follow after his own heart. Thy law is within my heart (Psalm 40:9), says the all-wise David.


Contemplate the Lord Jesus, how He carried the Cross to Golgotha:

1. How He quietly and patiently carried His Cross;

2. How they took the Cross from Him and gave it to Simon of Cyrene; how Simon carried the Cross, walking after Christ;

3. How He looked upon the women of Jerusalem, who were weeping, and said to them: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children (Luke 23:28), declaring by this His victory and the defeat of His murderers.


on Christ's humiliation as wealth

"By faith Moses ... esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, ... had respect unto the recompense of the reward" (Hebrews 11: 24-26).

Moses did not want to remain in the palace of Pharaoh nor to be called his adopted son. Desiring more, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25). How different was Moses from his descendants, who for reasons similar to Pharaoh's condemned the King of Glory to death! All of them would have rather lived one more year in the decaying court of Pharaoh than to travel with God for forty years in the wilderness. Moses left all honors, riches and vanities, which only the wealth of Egypt could provide. At the command of God, Moses started out through the foodless and waterless wilderness with faith that beyond it lay the Promised Land. All of this also means to hold Christ's humiliation above all the wealth of Egypt.

Christ's humiliation is what worldly men, who exude a powerful stench of the earth, are ashamed of in Christ. That is Christ's poverty on earth: His fasting, His vigil, His prayer, His wandering without a roof over His head, His condemnation, His humiliation, and His shameful death. Christ's humiliation was valued by the apostles, and after them by countless saints, who thought this to be greater wealth than all the riches in the entire world. Following these indignities, the Lord resurrected, opened the gates of heaven and revealed the Promised Land of Paradise, into which He led mankind along the path of His humiliation and through the wilderness of His suffering.

O Lord, glorified and resurrected, help us that we may hold unwaveringly every drop of Thy sweat and Thy blood as a treasure greater than all worldly riches.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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