Prologue of Ohrid

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January 23

1. THE HIEROMARTYR [PRIESTLY-MARTYR] CLEMENT, BISHOP OF ANCYRA

Clement was born in the year 258 A.D. in the city of Ancyra of a pagan father and a Christian mother. His devout mother, Euphrosyne, prophesised that her son would die a martyr's death; then she herself departed this world when Clement was twelve years old. Her friend Sophia took Clement into her home as a son, and assisted in rearing him with a Christian spirit. Clement was so famous for his virtuous living that he was elected Bishop of Ancyra at the age of twenty. In his youth he attained the wisdom of a mature adult, and by great abstinence he tamed and conquered his body. Clement fed on bread and vegetables only, and did not eat anything butchered or bloody. During the reign of Emperor Diocletian, he was tortured horribly, "as no one had ever been, since the beginning of the world." He spent twenty-eight years in torments and in dungeons. Eleven different torturers tormented and tortured him. At one time, when they struck him in the face, spat upon him and broke his teeth, he cried out to Domentian, his torturer: "You are doing me great honor, O Domentian, and you are not torturing me, for the mouth of my Lord Jesus Christ was also beaten and struck in like manner--and behold: I, the unworthy one, have now been made worthy of this!" When Clement was brought to Rome before Diocletian, the emperor placed various weapons of torture on one side, and on the other side such gifts as medals, clothing, money and all that the emperor could bestow. Then he told Clement to choose. The martyr of Christ glanced with scorn at all the emperor's gifts and chose the instruments of torture. Clement was indescribably tortured: piece by piece they removed the flesh from his body, so that the white bones showed beneath the flesh. Healed of these wounds, he was beheaded by a soldier in the church in Ancyra, while he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy as bishop, in the year 312 A.D. The miracles of St. Clement are without number.

2. THE SIXTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL

The first session was held in Constantinople during the years 680-681 A.D. This Council condemned the Monothelite heresy, which erroneously taught that in Christ there was only one divine will and not a human will. The Council also passed several canons concerning the order and discipline of the clergy.

3. SAINT PAULINUS THE MERCIFUL

At first, Paulinus was a Roman senator, and afterward a bishop in Nola. He followed the example of his friend, St. Ambrose, and received baptism. Following his baptism, Paulinus withdrew to the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain, where he lived a life of asceticism. But as no lighted lamp can be hidden, so also was St. Paulinus discovered and elected Bishop of Nola. He was a good and merciful shepherd. He reposed peacefully in the year 431 A.D. His relics repose in the Church of St. Bartholomew in Rome.

HYMN OF PRAISE

TO THE CREATOR

O Infinite Creator, in soul I bow before Thee.

When I speak Thy Name I belittle Thee;

With my every thought I belittle Thee.

What is the mind able to think before the open sea of Thy spaciousness?

What can the tongue say when it must remain silent

Before Thine awesome mountains and chasms?

Before Thine immeasurable height and width,

Before Thy plains, slopes, depths and distance--

And nearness, O God, oh yes, even nearness!

And still more miraculous, Thy humble lowliness!

Thou, as a man, didst lower Thyself to our lowliness,

Didst lower and constrain Thyself into a mortal valley,

That Thou mightest raise the valley to the heavenly firmament,

And make worn-out creation new.

Of all Thy qualities, Thy lowliness

Halts my thought. Thou bindest my lips!

What can I think, what can I say

About the hungry, thirsty and crucified God?

What can I say to Thee, O Thou Most-rich,

Who, because of me, becamest the poorest One?

Let the tongue keep silent, let tears speak:

Save, in Thy mercy, what Thy thought has created.

REFLECTION

Compassion has always been a characteristic of a true shepherd of Christ's flock. In his glorious homilies, St. John Chrysostom did not emphasize or praise anything more strongly than compassion. St. John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, lamented every day wherein the opportunity was not given him to show compassion to someone. St. Paulinus deserved to be called the Merciful, for he was truly compassionate in the full Christian sense of the word. Once, when the Vandals looted Nola, they took many men into slavery. The Vandal Prince Rig took a certain widow's only son as a slave. The widow came weeping to her bishop and sought money from him to pay the ransom for her son. Not possessing anything, Bishop Paulinus dressed in the clothes of a simple man and asked the widow to take him before the prince and exchange him for her son. The prince released the widow's son and took Paulinus with him to Africa--where Paulinus served as the prince's gardener until, by God's Providence, he was freed and returned to Nola with the other slaves.

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus as Healer:

1. As a Healer of bodily infirmities;

2. As an Exorcist of evil spirits from the insane;

3. As a Healer of the human spirit and mind, by the light of His divine teaching;

4. As my own Healer of all pains and evils.


HOMILY

on the angelic state of the saints

"But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world... Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels (Luke 20:35-36).

Thus speaks He Who knows, He Who has seen, and He Who cannot be deceived. Brethren, what have we to doubt anymore? This testimony is clearer than a summer's noon, harder than diamonds and more precious that all the riches of this world; and this is the testimony: Those who are accounted worthy of that world and resurrection can no longer die, but are immortal like the angels of God.

What are the angels like? Those same angels who appeared at the time of Abraham and came to the aid of men are the same ones who today appear and aid men. They are not dead but alive; they have not grown old but are young. They are the same ones who beheld Adam in Paradise and who will behold the Final Resurrection and the Judgment, and the Kingdom of the saints.

The righteous are similar to angels. The apostles, prophets, saints and martyrs live even today, and will live always and can no longer die. Hundreds and thousands of years pass, but they can neither die nor age anymore; rather they are equal unto the angels.

The Lord testified to us in the above words that the righteous will be crowned with immortality, and He demonstrated this by His own Resurrection, and affirmed it through His glorified saints.

O my brethren, let us awaken and labor--to become worthy to obtain that blessed world!

O resurrected and immortal Lord, help us to become worthy of Thine immortal Kingdom, in which Thou reignest with Thine angels and Thy saints throughout the ages of ages!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

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