Prologue of Ohrid

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February 12

1. SAINT MELETIUS, ARCHBISHOP OF ANTIOCH

Meletius, this great and holy man, was an exceptional interpreter and defender of Orthodoxy.  His entire life was dedicated to a struggle against the Arian heresy, which did not recognize the Son of God as God and blasphemed the Holy Trinity.  On three occasions, Meletius was banished and exiled from his archiepiscopal throne to Armenia.  The struggle between the Orthodox and the heretics was waged so bitterly that, on one occasion, when St. Meletius was preaching to the people in church concerning the Holy Trinity in unity, his own deacon, a heretic, ran over to him and covered his mouth with his hand.  Not being able to speak with his mouth covered, Meletius spoke in signs.  He raised his clenched hand in the air, opening at first his three fingers and showing them to the people.  After that, he closed his hand and raised up one finger.  He participated in the Second Ecumenical Council [Constantinople, 381 A.D.], where Emperor Theodosius showed him special honor.  At this Council, God revealed a miracle through His hierarch.  When Meletius was propounding the dogma of the Holy Trinity to Arius, at first he only raised three fingers, separately one by one, and after that folded them into one.  At that moment, before all those present, a light shone like lightning from his hand.  At this Council, Meletius confirmed Gregory the Theologian on the patriarchal throne in Constantinople.  Earlier Meletius had ordained Basil the Great to the diaconate and baptized John Chrysostom.  After the close of the Council, St. Meletius completed his earthly life in Constantinople.  His relics were translated to Antioch.

2. SAINT ALEXIS, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW

Alexis was a great hierarch of the Russian Church during the burdensome bondage of the Russian people under the Tartars.  Once, as a child, while he was hunting birds, he fell asleep.  In a dream he heard a voice: "Alexis, why do you labor in vain?  I will make you a fisher of men."  At age twenty he was tonsured a monk and in time became Metropolitan of Moscow.  Twice he went among the "Golden Horde" of the Tartars: the first time to mitigate the wrath of Khan Verdevir against the Russian people, and the second time, at the invitation of Khan Amurat, to heal the khan's wife of blindness.  She had been blind for three years, but her sight was restored when Alexis prayed over her and anointed her with holy water.  Following great labors and a fruitful life, Alexis died in the year 1378, at the age of eighty-five, and took up his habitation in the courts of the Lord.

3. THE VENERABLE MARIA

Maria was a young woman with indomitable courage.  After the death of her mother, her father desired the monastic tonsure.  Maria did not wish to be separated from her father, and they both agreed to journey to a men's monastery.  Maria, with cropped hair and in masculine attire, looked like a young man.  Her father died, and Maria was tonsured a monk, receiving the name Marius.  In the proximity of the monastery there was an inn.  The daughter of the innkeeper was attracted to Marius, the supposed monk.  After unsuccessfully pursuing Marius, the innkeeper's daughter accused Marius of illicit carnal relations with her, for she had become pregnant by someone else and had give birth to a son.  Maria did not defend herself and was banished from the monastery with ridicule.  With someone else's child in her arms, Maria lived for three years in a grove belonging to the monastery, enduring hunger, frost and every difficulty and deprivation.  Meanwhile, the innkeeper's daughter went insane.  Soon after, Maria died.  Only after her death was it discovered that the "monk Marius" was a woman.  The deranged daughter of the innkeeper was healed as soon as she touched the body of St. Maria, and after that she acknowledged her terrible sin.  St. Maria took up her habitation in eternal joy in the year 508.


4. SAINT ANTHONY, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

Anthony was at first a great ascetic of exceptional charity, and later he became Patriarch during the reign of emperor Leo the Wise (889-912 A.D.).  He tonsured his father a monk and founded a monastery over the relics of St. Callia.

5. SAINT CALLIA

Callia was generous toward the poor out of pure Christian charity, both as a maiden and later as a married woman.  Callia's husband was a wealthy but miserly man.  Once, when he returned from a business trip, he saw that his wife had distributed his wealth to the poor, so he killed her.  But God glorified this charitable soul in this manner: many who were ill were healed by her relics.  Convinced by this, the holy Patriarch Anthony built a monastery over her relics.

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY TRINITY
THE DIVINE AND HUMAN NATURES OF CHRIST

Oneness and Threeness, One and Three,

Christ: He is God and He is Man, One and Two.

Great and most wonderful are these two mysteries--

The key of life and being is concealed in them.

Holy Threeness and Oneness, the eternal flame.

Flame eternal: Three torches but One flame.

Oneness and Threeness, One and Three.

Christ: He is God and He is Man, One and Two.


REFLECTION

St. John Chrysostom cites the following example from the life of St. Meletius, which demonstrates the immense nobility of this great hierarch:  "It would be unjust to omit that which occurred during the banishment of Meletius from Antioch.  When the governor sat down in the coach and seated the saint beside him, he began to drive with great speed through the square.  From all sides, the citizens hurled stones that fell like hail on the head of the governor, for they could not be parted from their hierarch easily and were prepared to part with life rather than part with this saint.  But what did this blessed man do?  Seeing the stones flying, he covered the head of the governor with his cloak.  Thus, he shamed his adversaries by his tremendous meekness, and he taught a lesson to his followers as to what kind of forgiveness we ought to show toward those who offend us.  He showed them that it is not enough to refrain from doing them evil, but that rather, with all our power, we must remove any danger that threatens them."  Concerning the external appearance of Meletius, Chrysostom further says: "In truth, it was the greatest delight to see his holy face.  Not only when he taught or preached, but when men simply looked at him, he instilled every virtue into the souls of those who beheld him."

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus as an ascetic:

1. How He fasted, not to subdue His All-pure Body, but in order to give us an example;

2. How He fasted for my sake;

3. How I need to fast for the sake of my salvation and for the sake of His love.

HOMILY

About the wondrous visit of the Son of God

"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (St. John 16:28).

Brethren, these words are of crucial importance for us.  For of all things in this world, this is the most important to know: Is there a God and is there life after death?  These words are more precious than all the pearls in the world, more precious than the sun and more precious than the stars, for these words were spoken by Him Who is the most reliable and the most truthful Witness.  In truth, these words are the source of the greatest joy for us who are plunged into despair and, after despair, face death.  These words witness that there is a God and that there is life after death.  I came forth from the Father--before all else, this means that there is a God, from Whom the Lord Jesus came.  Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father--this means that God is the Father to Whom the Son of God returns.  At the same time, both of these quotations mean that eternal life exists and that death does not mean our annihilation.  The Lord spoke these words just before His death.

O sweet and wonderful tidings!  That which the hearts of all men and nations throughout all ages dimly envisioned, the Lord witnessed as fact, as truth.

And further, these words confirm the unity of the Father and the Son, as well as the divinity of our Lord and Savior.  My brethren, God visited us, the Most-high God Himself: the Holy, Mighty and Immortal God.  This is the culmination of our comfort and our joy.

O Lord Jesus, Son of God, the True Witness of all that is good and for which our hearts yearn day and night, sanctify us, strengthen us and make us immortal.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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