Prologue of Ohrid

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June 13

1. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR AQUILINA

Aquilina was born in the Palestinian town of Byblos of honorable Christian parents. At age seven little Aquilina was already completely versed in the true Christian life, and at age ten she was so filled with divine understanding and the grace of the Holy Spirit that she preached Christ to her female companions with great power and zeal. When Diocletian's persecution began, someone accused Aquilina before Volusian, the imperial deputy, who was more like a beast than a man. Volusian first ordered that Aquilina be flogged and then that a red-hot rod be passed through her ears and brain. To the last moment, the virgin Aquilina freely and openly confessed Christ the Lord, but when her brains and blood began to flow from her head, she fell as though dead. The deputy, thinking Aquilina was indeed dead, ordered her body to be carried outside the city and thrown upon a dung heap for the dogs to consume. But an angel of God appeared to her at night and said to her: "Arise, and be whole!" The virgin arose and was whole, and for a long time she offered up praise of thanksgiving to God, imploring Him not to deprive her of fulfilling the ascetic feat of martyrdom. A voice from heaven was heard: "Go; it shall be unto you as you ask!" And Aquilina set out for the town. The gates of the town opened of their own accord before her, and she entered the palace of the deputy like a spirit and appeared before his bed. The deputy was seized with unspeakable fear, seeing the virgin alive whom he thought was dead. The following day, at his command, the executioners led Aquilina out to behead her. Before her beheading, the virgin Aquilina prayed to God on her knees and gave up her soul. The executioner cut off her lifeless head. Her relics gave healing to many of the sick. Aquilina was twelve years old when she suffered for the Lord. She suffered and was crowned with a martyr's wreath in the year 293 A.D.

2. SAINT TRIPHYLLIUS, BISHOP OF LEUCOSIA [NICOSIA] IN CYPRUS

Triphyllius was a disciple of St. Spyridon and later his fellow worker on the island of Cyprus. He was a merciful man, pure in thought and chaste throughout his life, "a living fountain of tears," and a great ascetic. He governed Christ's flock well, and when he reposed he received a wreath among the great hierarchs in the heavens. He died peacefully in the year 370 A.D.

3. SAINT ANNA AND HER SON JOHN

Taken as an orphan into the home of a nobleman and cared for as an adopted daughter, Anna was raised and educated in that home. As a worthy maiden, she was wed by this nobleman to his son. When the elder nobleman died, the relatives pressed his son to release his wife because of her lowly birth and to marry another who, according to origin and wealth, would be more suitable for him. The nobleman's son feared God and did not want to do this. Seeing her husband in conflict with his relatives, Anna secretly left him and fled to a distant island, where there was not a living soul. But she arrived at the island pregnant and soon bore a son. There she lived in asceticism for thirty years in fasting and prayer. Then, according to God's providence, a hieromonk landed on this island, baptized her son, and gave him the name of John. This holy soul, Anna, lived in asceticism in the fifth century and died peacefully.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT TRIPHYLLIUS

While Saint Triphyllius was yet a deacon,

The Psalter and the Gospels he read.

Humbly and with a sweet voice to the people he read,

And the holy Spyridon attentively listened.

Once in a church crowded with people,

The chapter on the Paralytic he beautifully read,

How the gentle Lord the sick one saw.

"Take up your bedding," said He, and the sick one departed.

Triphyllius substituted the word "bedding" for "bed."(*)

Then said Spyridon: "My son, come to me!

How, my dear deacon, do you change the words,

The words which our gentle Savior uttered?

The word 'bed' from His mouth came

But 'bedding' you said, and His word you omitted!

My son, this is a book from on high inspired;

Therefore, everything as it is written in it, let us read.

Full of power, the Gospel words are,

And weak and decayed human words are.

The bed of a man is not the same as an animal's bedding;

Therefore, my son, say: 'God forgive me!'"

Triphyllius, the deacon, his error realized,

Bitterly repented and was much ashamed.

Triphyllius was blessed because of his spiritual father,

Saint Spyridon the glorious miracle-worker.

[(*) The distinction between these two words cannot be made in English. 
The word Tryphillius substituted can mean the type of "bed" used by animals. --Ed.]

REFLECTION

Meekness and kindness adorned our saints and gave them strength and understanding not to return evil for evil. When Emperor Constantius, the son of the Emperor Constantine the Great, became ill in Antioch, he summoned St. Spyridon to offer prayers for him. St. Spyridon, in the company of Triphyllius, his deacon, departed Cyprus and arrived in Antioch before the imperial palace. Spyridon was clad in poor clothing. He wore a simple woven cap on his head, in his hand was a staff from a palm tree, and on his breast he bore an earthen vessel containing oil from the lamp that burned before the Precious Cross (which at that time was the custom of Christians in Jerusalem to wear). Dressed in this way and, in addition, exhausted by fasting, prayer, and the long journey, in no way did the saint betray his rank and dignity. When he wished to set foot in the imperial palace, one of the emperor's servants, thinking him to be an ordinary beggar, struck him with his fist on the cheek. The meek and kind saint turned the other cheek to him. When, with great difficulty, he succeeded in reaching the emperor, Spiridon touched the head of the emperor and the emperor recovered.

CONTEMPLATION


To contemplate the Lord's miraculous walking on water as on dry land: And when the apostles saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying: 'It is a spirit and they cried out in fear' (St. Matthew 14:25):

1. How the boat with the disciples was in danger on the waves of the sea at night, and how the Lord, seeing this, hastened to their help;

2. How I too am often in trouble from the darkness and the waves of passions and how the merciful Lord hastens to help me in walking over passions as over a solid road.

HOMILY


About the path of life and the path of death

"Sometimes a way seems right to a man but the end of it leads to death!" (Proverbs 14:12).

It sometimes appears to man that the path of the godless is right, for he sees that the godless man obtains riches and succeeds. Oh, if it were only given to him to see the end of that path! He would be horrified and would never tread on that path.

If the end of a path is destruction, can it be the right way? Therefore, O man, do not say that a way is right if you do not see its end. You ask: "How can I, a weak and shortsighted man, perceive the end of a long path?" In two ways: by reading Holy Scripture within the experience of the Orthodox Church, and by observing the end of the path of life of those around you and who die before you. However, the first way is the more reliable one, and if you adhere to it, know that you will not stumble into the night of eternal death.

Only that path is right which is shown by God as right. All other ways that appear right to your mind, but which do not coincide with the way of God, are wrong and are deadly. Behold, even the beasts have their paths, but would you travel those paths if they seemed right to you? Do not go, for in the end you will fall into the hungry jaws of the beasts. And the path shown by God, even if it appears wrong to you, is right--therefore travel by it. Because of our sins, the path of God occasionally seems wrong to us. If we were without sin and if our minds were not distorted by sin, it would not be possible for us, even for a moment, to conceive that another path is right except God's path. To a distorted mind, many wrong paths seem right, and the only right path seems wrong.

O All-seeing Lord, our Guide, correct our minds, that we not be detained on false paths. O Jesus, You are the only Way, Truth and Life, and what we invent apart from You is the wrong way, a lie and death.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

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