Prologue of Ohrid

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June 26

1. THE VENERABLE DAVID

David was born in Thessalonica. At first he lived in asceticism near Thessalonica in a hut built beneath an almond tree. Later he continued his asceticism in Thessaly. So much did he purify himself by fasting, prayer and all-night vigils that he was made worthy to receive great grace from God. Once he took live coals in his hand, placed incense on the coals and censed the emperor without any injury to his hand. Seeing this, the emperor bowed down to the ground before him. The people were amazed by his numerous miracles. He died peacefully and took up his habitation in eternal blessedness in the year 540 A.D.

2. THE FEAST OF THE TIKHVIN [TICHVINE] ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD

This icon of the Holy Birth-giver of God [the Theotokos] was first in Constantinople, but in 1383 A.D., seventy years before the fall of Constantinople [in 1453 A.D.], it suddenly appeared in the sky near the town of Tikhvin in northern Russia. On the spot where it came down to the ground, a church and monastery were established. The icon is named for the town of Tikhvin. Countless miracles have been wrought from this miraculous icon; many of the sick, especially, have received healing from it.

3. THE FEAST OF THE HOLY ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, THE GUIDE [HODIGITRIA]

This icon was painted [written] on wood by the Evangelist Luke himself, and the All-holy Birth-giver of God saw this icon and blessed it. St. Luke gave this icon as a gift to the state official Theophilus, for whom he wrote the Acts of the Apostles. This icon was later brought from Antioch to Jerusalem; from Jerusalem Empress Eudocia took it and sent it to Constantinople as a gift to the emperor's sister, the pious Pulcheria. Pulcheria placed the icon in the church of Blachernae, a church she herself founded. The All-holy Birth-giver of God once appeared to two blind men and led them into the Church of Blachernae, before her icon, and there restored their sight. Because of this, this icon received the name Hodigitria--the Guide. When the armies of the Persian King Chozroes and the Scythian King Kagan attacked Constantinople, Patriarch Sergius brought this icon out and processed with it around the ramparts of the city. Then the All-holy Birth-giver of God saved the Christians from the non-Christians. The armies of the adversaries became confused, the sea became agitated, their boats sank, and the enemies who remained alive fled. Since then, this miracle of the All-holy Birth-giver of God has been commemorated on the Saturday of the Fifth Week of the Honorable Fast Season [Lent] with the chanting of the Akathist. During the time of iconoclasm, this icon was brought to the Monastery of the Pantocrator, and there it was sealed in a wall and a votive light [lampada] was left burning in front of it. It was later found just as it was when it had been sealed.

1. THE FEAST OF THE ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LYDDA OR ROME

[See "Hymn of Praise" below]

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD [THEOTOKOS] OF LYDDA OR OF ROME

The Lydda icon of the Mother of God

Was sent by Patriarch Germanus, a prisoner for the Faith,

From Constantinople to the pope

When the East suffered for the icons.

The icon upon the water set out,

Faster than the boats that sail the sea,

Lighter than water and the zephyr;

Atop the waves, the water it touched not.

For a long time, the icon in Rome remained

For much time, many years,

Until the iconoclastic emperors

From their battle with Christ ceased from fatigue.

And when golden peace the East gilded

The icon of Lydda returned home,

Lighter than water and the zephyr;

Atop the waves, the water it touched not.

Two capital cities [Constantinople and Rome], two martyrs,

The power of the Birth-giver of God, recognized,

The power of the most wonderful icon of Lydda,

That raises the dead and heals the sick.

REFLECTION

Ceaseless repentance is necessary for a Christian until his last breath. St. Mark the Ascetic says: "Think and you will see that the mystery of devotion in the saints of God was realized through repentance." Repentance, even at the hour of death! The following incident occurred: An old ascetic and renowned spiritual father was dying, and he called for a priest to give him Holy Communion. Along the way a robber joined the priest and desired to see for himself how a holy man dies. The holy elder peacefully received Holy Communion and peacefully talked with the priest. The robber then wept and said: "Blessed are you! Alas, what kind of death will I be worthy of?" The holy elder suddenly became proud and responded to him: "Be as I am, and it will be for you as it is to me!" The robber returned along the road weeping all the time and lamenting over himself and, at that moment, fell dead. Then the people saw a "fool for Christ" weeping over the holy elder but dancing and singing over the robber. When he was asked the reason for this, he replied: "By pride that one [the elder] lost all merits; by repentance this one [the robber] reaped all the fruits!"

CONTEMPLATION


To contemplate the miraculous healing of the deformed woman: And behold, there was a woman who for eighteen years had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent over and utterly unable to look upwards (St. Luke 13:11):

1. How the Lord placed His hands on the deformed woman and the woman straightened up;

2. How my soul is deformed like the woman and is bent over to the ground;

3. How the Lord can place His hand, i.e., His Holy Spirit, upon my soul and the deformity will immediately be set aright.

HOMILY


About the fear of the wicked man

"The wicked man flees although no one pursues him; but the just man, like a lion, feels sure of himself"(Proverbs 28:1).

Wicked [Impious] men are even afraid of shadows; to them the shadows of trees seem like an army. Wherever something rustles, the wicked man thinks: the avenger is coming! He hears the trembling of leaves as the sound of chains; he takes the voices of birds as the shouts of hunters who give chase after game; he sees grass as sping on his evil deed, the water as a witness against him, the sun as a judge, and the stars as those who taunt him. Oh, my brethren, how many lies are born out of fear? For fear is of sin, sin is of the devil, and the devil is the father of all lies.

Fear is the first fruit of sin. When Adam sinned, he hid from the face of God. And when God cried out to him, Adam said: I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid (Genesis 3:10). Adam did not know about fear before he sinned, nor did he hide from the face of God but, on the contrary, always hastened to encounter God. But as soon as he sinned he was afraid.

But the just man, like a lion feels sure of himself. Without sin--without fear. Without sin--without weakness. The sinless ones are powerful, very powerful, and brave, very brave. The righteous ones are strong and fearless. Such are the righteous ones, only the righteous ones.

O sinless Lord, save us from empty fear, but before that, preserve us from sin, the parent of fear.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

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