Prologue of Ohrid


May 27


Therapontus converted many Hellenes [Greeks] to the Faith of Christ, and for that he was cruelly tortured by the pagans through starvation, imprisonment and flogging. They stretched him naked on the ground, tied him to four dry stumps, and whipped him mercilessly until his flesh was ripped from his bones. But the martyr remained alive and those four stumps turned green and grew into tall trees, from which many who were ill received healing. Finally, St. Therapontus was slaughtered like a lamb, and his soul took up habitation in the Kingdom to behold the glory of God in eternity. He suffered honorably during the time of Valerian, in about the year 259 A.D.


During the reign of the iniquitous Emperor Maximilian there lived in Alexandria a virgin, Theodora, of noble descent and upbringing. As a Christian, Theodora was brought to trial before the pagans. After subjecting her to a prolonged period of torture for the Faith of Christ, the prince-torturer ordered that she be brought to a place of ill repute and that the soldiers be permitted to approach her for the satisfaction of their carnal passions. St. Theodora fervently prayed to God to save her from defilement, and while she was praying a soldier by the name of Didymus came to her and told her that he too was a servant of Christ. He dressed her in his military attire and himself in her female attire. Then he let her out while he remained in the house of ill repute. Later he was arrested and brought to trial. He admitted that he was a Christian, that he had saved Theodora, and that he was ready to die for Christ. Didymus was sentenced to death and led to the scaffold. Theodora ran up to him and cried out: "Even though you saved my honor, I did not ask you to save me from death. Yield to me the martyr's death!" St. Didymus said to her: "My beloved sister, do not prevent me from dying for Christ and from washing away my sins by my blood!" Hearing this discussion, the pagans sentenced them both to death, and both were beheaded and their bodies burned. They honorably suffered and both obtained the wreath of eternal glory in the year 304 A.D., in Alexandria.


David is one of the thirteen fathers of Georgia commemorated on May 7. He was called "of Garesja" because of the wilderness near Tbilisi where he lived the ascetic life [from the Georgian gare, 'outside' and jdoma, 'to sit']. In his old age, David decided to visit the Holy Land with a few of his disciples. He entrusted the care of the monastery to the Elders Lucian and Dodo, and began his journey. When they arrived at a hill from which Jerusalem was visible, David began to weep and said: "How can I be so bold as to walk in the footsteps of the God-man with my sinful feet?" David then told his disciples that they, being more worthy, should go to worship at the holy places, and he took three stones and began to return. But the Lord would not allow such humility to be hidden from the world, and an angel appeared to Elias the Patriarch of Jerusalem and said to him: "Immediately send for the elder who is returning to Syria. In his possession are three stones. He took with him all the grace of the Holy Land: for him one stone is sufficient for a blessing, and the other two should be returned to Jerusalem. That elder is Abba David of Garesja." The patriarch immediately sent men who caught up with the Elder David, took the two stones and released him. That third stone remains, even today, on his tomb and possesses the miraculous power of healing.



Didymus, beautiful, to his death went
And joyfully chanted psalms.

When the young Theodora, this heard,
From the city, she hurried after Didymus.

With Didymus she debated,

Concerning death, with him vying:

"O Didymus, O my benefactor;

Let them first kill me!

You, my virgin's honor saved,

But from me took the martyr's wreath.

O Didymus, yours are the honor and glory,

But this death, let it be mine!

Remove yourself, let me the sword behead!"

Didymus replied to Theodora:

"Theodora, virgin, sister of mine,

Here is the fortune of which I have always dreamed!

Here the opportunity to die for Christ.

For you it is enough that a virgin pure you are;

You serve the Lord in purity.

Allow Didymus, God to repay!"

His counsel, Theodora did not accept;

Before Didymus, she hurried ahead toward death.

"A head for beheading, have I,

And a soul in need of salvation!"

Oh, most beautiful was this debate!

Oh, such a blessed competition over death!

But one sword can cut off two heads:

I flashed twice, and beheaded both

With the heavenly hosts, they are now numbered,

And by their prayers, help us.


Bodily health is undoubtedly a gift from God. But bodily health is by no means the greatest good of this world, as many people say and write about. For whatever kind of bodily health it is, it is transitory; and that which is transitory cannot be called the greatest blessing for man. Unchanging values are more precious than transitory values, as eternity is more precious than time. Unchanging values enter into the framework of the health of the soul. Father John of Kronstadt writes: "Oh, I myself feel that, when I am completely healthy and when I do not exhaust myself by labor, then I am dying in the spirit; then the Kingdom of God is not within me; then my body controls me, and with my body, the devil."


To contemplate the Grace of God the Holy Spirit in the Mystery [Sacrament] of Holy Communion:

1. How grace makes the consecrated bread and wine the living sacrifice of Christ;

2. How it acts within the bread and wine in the same way as it acted within the body of the All-pure One [The Theotokos] at the time of the Incarnation of the Lord.


About the grace of God revealed throughout the ages

"That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace" (Ephesians 2:7).

With his prophetic gift, the Apostle Paul prophesied about the riches of grace which, throughout the ages, would be poured out on the generations of mankind. We who live nearly twenty centuries after the time of the Apostle can attest to that which the Apostle prophesied in ages past. Just as beehives are filled with valuable and honey-bearing bees, so all the centuries from Christ until today are filled with grace-filled men, virgins and women.

Oh, how abundantly the richness of the grace of God manifested itself on countless souls who at first were sinful and later became holy!

Oh, how abundantly the richness of the grace of God manifested itself on men and women who were at first weak and fearful and then heroically confessed Christ the Lord and joyfully suffered for Him!

Oh, how abundantly the richness of the grace of God manifested itself through the centuries on the simple and illiterate who became true wise men and spiritual generals of the faithful armies of Christ!

Brethren, just think how much more hidden holiness, unrevealed sacrifices, unrecorded heroism, unsung virtues lay hidden in the depths of twenty centuries of Christianity! When all of that is made known, everything from past centuries and those yet to come until the end of time, then angels and men will be astonished before the unspeakable riches of the grace of God. Then the Apostle Paul himself will have to cry out: "Even though I was an apostle, nevertheless, my word was too weak to express all the immeasurable richness of the grace of God which, out of love for man, has appeared in the world."

O Most-Holy Trinity, our mankind-loving God, lift up our hearts that we continually glorify and praise the exceeding great richness of Your grace.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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