Prologue of Ohrid


May 10


Simon was one of the Twelve Great Apostles. He was born in Cana of Galilee. The Lord Jesus, with His Mother and His disciples, came to his marriage feast. When the wine ran out, the Lord changed water into wine (John 2:1-11). Witnessing this miracle, Simon the groom left his home, parents and bride and followed after Christ. Simon was called the Zealot because of his great and fiery zeal for the Savior and His Gospel. After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, Simon went to preach the Gospel in Mauritania in Africa. Because he succeeded in converting many to the Christian Faith, Simon was tortured and finally crucified, as had been his Lord, Who prepared for him a wreath of glory in the Immortal Kingdom.


The three were brothers and the sons of Prince Vitalis in southern Italy. They were men of nobility and strong in faith. Condemned for their faith in Christ, they were led from one judge to another, from one torturer to another. They were taken to Sicily and slain there during the reign of Emperor Licinius. Alphaeus's tongue was severed and, having shed much blood, he died. Philadelphus was burned on an iron grate, and Cyprinus in a fire. Their incorrupt relics were discovered in 1517 A.D. The three brothers appeared to St. Euthalia (March 2).


Isidora lived in the fourth century and was a nun in a convent in Tabennisi. She pretended insanity to conceal her virtues and her asceticism. Isidora performed the most menial tasks, ate leftovers from plates, served all and everyone, and was despised by all and everyone. At that time, an angel of God revealed Isidora's secret to the great ascetic Pitirim. Pitirim came to the convent, and when he saw Isidora he bowed down to the ground before her, and she did the same before him. Then the sisters informed Pitirim that she was insane. "All of you are insane," replied Pitirim, "and this one is greater before the Lord than I and all of you; I only pray that God will render to me that which is intended for her at the Dreadful Judgment!" Then the sisters became ashamed and begged both Pitirim and Isidora for forgiveness. From that time everyone began to show respect for Isidora. And she, to escape this honor, fled the convent to a place unknown, and reposed in about the year 365 A.D.


Thais was a wealthy Christian maiden in Egypt. She decided not to enter into marriage and instead distributed her property to the monks of the desert. After she gave away all of her possessions, she began to live a life of debauchery. Learning of this, the hermits begged Abba John the Dwarf to go to Alexandria. This he did and began to weep before Thais. When she heard that the elder was crying because of her sins, she repented immediately, left home and everything she owned, and withdrew into the wilderness with the saint. One night while Thais was sleeping and John stood at prayer, he saw angels descend in a great light and take the soul of Thais. John learned that her instantaneous but warm repentance was more pleasing to God than the long years of external repentance of many hermits.



In the desert, the ascetic Pitirim

Prayed to God and asked himself:

"In the world, is there anyone equal to me?"

Then appeared an angel of God,

Who gently reproached Pitirim:

"You magnify yourself in your thoughts, O Elder,

As though in the world there is no one better than you!

Come, follow me, O Elder Pitirim,

Come, follow me to see an aged woman.

Isidora made herself a fool-for-Christ:

See her, and be amazed.

She does not separate her heart from God,

And all her thoughts she binds to God;

Not like you, who in the body are here,

But in your thoughts are at the ends of the world!

Then you shall see all of her ascetic labors,

That to your shame, you might be put to shame by a woman!

And that you might glorify the wisdom of God,

That, in the midst of weeds, grows roses!"


In one of his prayers, St. Ephraim the Syrian turns to God with these words: "Lord, in that awesome and dreadful day Thou wilt say to us sinners: 'You men know very well what I have endured for you. What have you endured for me?' How will I, the wretched, cunning, sinful and foul one, respond to that? The martyrs will then point to their wounds of torture, the severed parts of their bodies and their endurance to the end. The ascetics will point to their ascetic labors, extended fasts, long vigils, almsgiving (philanthropies) and tears, and their endurance to the end. And I, the slothful, sinful, and lawless one, to what will I point? Spare me, O Lord! Spare me, O Merciful One! Spare me, O Lover of mankind!"


Contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:

1. How the small are made great by God the Holy Spirit;

2. How the fearful are made fearless by Him.


on how the righteous endure ridicule because of the words of the Lord

"The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day" (Jeremiah 20:8).

Who are they who reproach the prophet of God, the bearer of God's word, and the bearer of the power and wisdom of God? His people reproach him and say to him: "You preach to us a steep path. Even if it is from God, we cannot walk upon it because it is too steep for us.

Who are they who reproach the trumpeter of the Lord's voice when he sounds the alarm because a fire smokes in the distance and draws near to the city? The elders of the people reproach him and say to him: "Why don't you keep your mouth shut? It would be better for you and happier for us. That which seems to you to be a fire is not; it is rather a mist from the mountain dew!"

Who are they who still deride the man of God when he comes from God and proclaims the will of God? He is reproached by his wife and is derided by his brethren. They say to him: "You abandon your own work, which feeds you, and you go off to someone else's work, which humiliates you."

The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day. Thus the prophet was able to say; and so could the apostles, the martyrs, and every zealot of the word of the Lord and of the Law of the Lord. Not one of them was frightened by reproach or derision, nor was he turned away from witnessing nor led from the road to wayward paths. The entire outside world reproached them and derided them. But the Lord strengthened them and made them inwardly joyful. The Lord overcame the world, and the saints of God overcame those who reproached and derided them.

O All-good Lord, strengthen our inner hearts so that reproaches will not disturb us and derision will not hinder us for the sake of Thy Name.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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