Prologue of Ohrid


February 19


Archippus was one of the Seventy Apostles. The Apostle Paul mentions him in his Epistle to the Colossians: And tell Archippus, 'See that you fulfill the ministry that you received in the Lord' (Colossians 4:17), as well as in his letter to Philemon, calling him our fellow soldier (Philemon 1:2). The center of Christianity in the town of Colossae was in the home of Philemon. Here Christians gathered for prayer. In writing to Philemon, the Apostle Paul called this the church in thy house (Philemon 1:2). At that time the apostles consecrated their disciples to the bishopric, some of them in permanent dioceses and others as missionaries traveling to various places. Philemon was one of the latter. Apphia, Philemon's wife, hosted and served in the domestic church. At the time of a pagan feast to the goddess Artemis, all the faithful in Colossae, according to their custom, gathered in the home of Philemon for prayer. Learning of this gathering, the pagans rushed in and apprehended all the Christians.  As the leaders, Philemon, Apphia and Archippus were first whipped and afterward buried up to their waists and stoned. Thus, they slew Philemon and Apphia. Archippus they removed from the pit barely alive and left him to the amusement of the children. The children stabbed him all over with knives. In such a manner did this "fellow soldier" in battle finish well the course of his earthly path.


Dositheus was a disciple of the glorious Abba Dorotheus, who lived in the cenobitic monastic community of the Venerable Seridus, John and Barsanuphius the Great. Dositheus was the kinsman of a general, and he came to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Shrines. Once, while he was gazing upon an icon of the Dread Judgment in a church, a woman clothed in purple attire approached him and began explaining the icon to him. Before parting, she said that if he desired to be saved, he should fast, abstain from meat and pray to God often. This was the All-holy Virgin Theotokos. The heart of the young Dositheus became inflamed, and he desired the life of a monk. Dorotheus received him as his novice [Iskusenik] and ordered him to completely abandon his will and obey his spiritual father. For a few days, he gave him as much as he wanted to eat. After a period of time, Dorotheus cut down his rations by a quarter, and after another period of time again by a quarter, until Dositheus became accustomed to subsisting on the least amount of food. Dorotheus constantly repeated to Dositheus: "Eating is a habit, and as much as a person is accustomed to eat, that much he will eat." Dositheus was saved and glorified by total obedience. He has remained forever an example of monastic obedience and dedication to one's spiritual father. This young saint lived in the sixth century.



Obedience without murmuring, salvation complete:

Among the spiritual this is the first pearl, the most precious stone.

This pearl, from Eve's necklace, slipped,

And after it followed all the goods, by God, bestowed.

The devil says both then and now: "To God, do not listen,

But live only according to the thoughts of your mind!"

Thus says the devil, who from time immemorial has detested the light.

Thus saying, the disobedient with his noose, he fitted.

Christ came, and to the people He cried out; the obedient He summoned.

To every call, the disobedient did not respond.

The scene of Paradise, from Christ's time until now, has repeated itself:

The obedient, to Paradise, are raised; the disobedient fall.

To his spiritual father, the true monk is obedient;

His father, to the Church; the Church, to Christ, her Lord.

Obedience, the reliable path toward salvation,

Is the first light, the first pearl of the spiritual necklace.


St. Anthony teaches: "Just as a man comes forth naked from his mother's womb, so the soul comes forth naked from the body. One soul is pure and bright, a second is soiled by sin, and a third is blackened by many sins.  If a body comes forth from a mother's womb unhealthy, it cannot live. Likewise, a soul, if it does not attain the knowledge of God through good behavior, cannot be saved, neither can it be in communion with God. The organ of bodily sight is the eye; the organ of spiritual sight is the mind. Just as the body is blind without eyes, so the soul is blind without a correct mind and a correct life."


Contemplate the Lord Jesus in the midst of the common people:

1. How with love He taught the people as a parent teaches his children;

2. How the common people received His words, were astonished by His works, and glorifed God;

3. How even today, the common people, free from corruption, receive His words with joy and thanksgiving.


on testing

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.... If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:10,12).

This is how the Householder of both the material and spiritual world speaks. Material wealth He calls "least" and the spiritual wealth He calls "much." If material wealth is given to a person and he proves himself to be selfish, hardhearted, arrogant, unmerciful and godless, then spiritual wealth cannot be given to him. For if he is unfaithful in small things, he will be unfaithful in great things. When he is unfaithful in the physical, he will be unfaithful in the spiritual.

Man undergoes a test in a foreign world, and if he passes the test he will gain his own world.  If, however, he fails the test, who will give him his world? Man's true world, his homeland, is the heavenly, sublime, divine world. The earthly world, however, is the world of coarseness and corruption: a foreign world for man. But man is sent into this foreign world to complete a test for the sake of his true world, his heavenly homeland.

Thes two statements of the Savior are similar in meaning. Oh, how profound and true is their meaning! Just as light disperses darkness, so do these words of the Savior disperse our confusion in relation to these questions: Why are we sent into this life? And what should we do? To whomever is able to read with a pure understanding, everything is said in these two sentences.

Therefore, let us know that God will not bestow the spiritual gifts--the gifts of understanding, faith, love, purity, prophecy, miracle-working, power over demons, discernment, or the vision of the heavenly world--on him who has gambled and used for evil, like the Prodigal Son, the gifts of bodily health, earthly riches, glory and position among men, or knowledge of the material world.

O Lord most gentle, sustain our fidelity toward Thee in that which Thou hast entrusted to us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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