Prologue of Ohrid


June 22


Eusebius was a great denouncer of Arianism. When the throne of Antioch became vacant, Meletius was elected patriarch at the insistence of Eusebius. Meletius was a great beacon of the Church, who, after his death, was found worthy of great praise by St. John Chrysostom. However, the Arians quickly banished Meletius from Antioch. When Constantine's pernicious son Constantius died, another much worse than he was crowned--Julian the Apostate. During Julian's persecution of Christians, St. Eusebius removed his clerical attire, donned a soldier's uniform and, under the guise of a soldier, visited the persecuted Church throughout Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, strengthening the Orthodox Faith everywhere and ordaining the necessary priests, deacons and other clergy and, in some places, bishops. Following the turbulent death of Julian, St. Eusebius counseled Meletius to convene a council in Antioch in 361 A.D., at which twenty-seven hierarchs were present. The Arian heresy was condemned once more and the Faith of Orthodoxy was proclaimed in the same manner as it had been expressed at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicea 325 A.D]. Along with Meletius and Eusebius, St. Pelagius of Laodicea, a well known, chaste and ascetic man, made a great impact at the Council of Antioch. This council was held during the reign of the pious Emperor Jovian. However, Emperor Jovian soon died and the wicked Valens was crowned, and a persecution of Orthodoxy again ensued. St. Meletius was exiled to Armenia, Eusebius exiled to Thrace, and Pelagius exiled to Arabia. After Valens, Gratian was crowned emperor, and he granted freedom to the Church and recalled the exiled hierarchs to their former sees. Thus they returned: Meletius to Antioch, Eusebius to Samosata, and Pelagius to Laodicea. At that time many dioceses and parishes were vacant, and Eusebius zealously hastened to find canonical shepherds for the people. When he came to the town of Doliche to enthrone the newly elected bishop, Marinus, and to denounce the heresy of Arius (which was strong in that town), a fanatical heretic hurled a ceramic tile at Eusebius' head and mortally wounded him. Thus this great zealot, saint and martyr of Orthodoxy died, to live eternally in the blessedness of Paradise. He suffered in the year 379 A.D.


Zeno was a Roman officer in the Arabian town of Philadelphia, and Zenas was his servant. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Emperor Maximian, St. Zeno boldly appeared before the commander Maximus, confessed his faith in the One Living God, and counseled Maximus to renounce lifeless idols and embrace the only true Faith. The commander became enraged and cast Zeno into prison. When the faithful Zenas visited his master in prison, he also was seized and arrested. Both of them were tortured for Christ and finally thrown into a fire into which the pagans had poured oil. Their souls were crowned with wreaths in the Kingdom of Christ, and their bodily remains were interred in the Church of St. George at a place called Cyparisson.



The Church is never without shepherds,

Nor without suffering, nor without heroes.

When the sharp sword flashed in Goliath-like manner,

Resistance offered, the Shepherd of Samosata.

Eusebius, and Meletius with him,

Like two stars--and the third, Pelagius--

Zealots of Holy Orthodoxy,

Glorious saints of God's Church.

Suffering for Christians there was at that time,

From both sides, bitter sufferings.

On one side, the wild heretics;

On the other side, the insane emperors.

To preserve one's soul, it was difficult,

And the truth of God to uphold

Against lies and against violence.

Amidst the tares, a little sweet basil there was,

A little immortelle, a little feather grass.

Three hierarchs--three fragrant flowers:

Enough honey for all the poison of the world.

Eusebius as a zealot began

And as a martyr his life ended.

O Eusebius, thou high priest,

O God-pleaser, bless us!


Why does the good Lord permit assaults and trials to fall on the true Faith, while He permits the pleasure of tranquility to heresies and paganism? "Why?" St. John Chrysostom asks and immediately replies: "So that you might recognize their weakness (i.e, of heresies and paganism)--when you see that they disintegrate on their own without any disturbance--and also be convinced of the power of the Faith that endures misfortunes and even multiplies through its adversaries." ... "Therefore, if we quarrel with the pagans or with the slanderous Jews, it is sufficient to emphasize, as evidence of divine power, that the Faith (Christianity), which was subjected to countless struggles, maintained victory," even when the entire world stood against her [the Church]. St. Isaac the Syrian says: "The wondrous love of God toward man is recognized when man is in misfortunes that are destroying his hope. Here God manifests His power for his [man's] salvation. For man never recognizes the power of God in tranquility and freedom."


To contemplate the miraculous dumbness of Zacharias the High Priest: And behold, you shall be dumb and unable to speak until the day when these things come to pass, because you have not believed my words which will be fulfilled in their proper time (St. Luke 1:20):

1. How Zacharias did not believe the angel of God that the aged womb of his wife [Elizabeth] could conceive and give birth, and how he was struck dumb because of this, in accordance with the words of the angel;

2. How I too am as though struck dumb when I cannot sufficiently speak about God's miracles because my faith is small.


About how the slothful man excuses himself

"The slothful man says: A lion is outside; in the streets I might be slain!" (Proverbs 22:13).

In order to justify his slothfulness, the slothful man emphasizes the difficulties and obstacles of a certain task and magnifies them beyond measure. If a man annoys him, he will say that the entire village annoys him; if the leaves rustle, he will claim that he is unable to go to work because of a storm; if a rabbit is in front of his house, he will say it is a lion! He says this in order to avoid leaving his house, and to delay his work.

Slothfulness is completely contrary to the nature of man. The nature of man is activity; the nature of man seeks to be occupied, to work and to build. Slothfulness is a sure sign of the distortion of nature in a man. That slothfulness is a terrible vice is clear in that the active man is never envious of the slothful man, while the slothful man is envious of the active man; in the same manner, the sober man is not envious of the drunkard, while the drunkard is envious of the sober man.

O Lord, ever-active Creator, save us from the dull and sinful slothfulness by which we distance ourselves from our primordial [first-created] nature, from Your image and likeness, O Master of all things! Inspire us with Your Holy Spirit, ever active and joy-creating.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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