Prologue of Ohrid


July 9


This saint was born in Antioch, during the time when the Lord Jesus Christ walked as a man among men on earth. Hearing about the miracles of Christ, the parents of Pancratius desired to see the Lord, the Miracle-worker. Together with Pancratius, they traveled to Jerusalem, where they saw Jesus, heard His words, and witnessed His miracles. There Pancratius became acquainted with the Apostle Peter. After the Ascension of the Lord, both the parents and the son were baptized in Antioch. Pancratius withdrew to a cave in Pontus, where the Apostle Peter found him. In agreement with the Apostle Paul, he appointed Pancratius as the Bishop of Taormina in Sicily. In Taormina, St. Pancratius worked many miracles, destroyed the idols, baptized the unbaptized, strengthened the baptized, and righteously governed the Church of God. A heathen commander by the name of Aquilinus heard that the entire city of Taormina had become Christian, and set out with an army in order to destroy the city. St. Pancratius calmed the fears of the faithful, and he himself went out from the city with the clergy, carrying in his hands the invincible weapon, the Honorable Cross. When the army approached the city, a darkness fell upon them and the soldiers were overcome with great fear. They were seized with great confusion, and turned against one another, stabbing and slaughtering each other with their swords. Thus the God-pleaser Pancratius saved the city and his flock by the power of his prayer before the Lord. Finally, Pancratius was stoned to death by envious and evil heathens, and found his rest in the Lord. His holy relics lie in Rome.


As an eighty-four year old man, Cyril suffered for Christ during the reign of Decius. He was thrown into fire, but was saved by the providence of God. Then the pagan judge issued the following sentence: "Just judgment cannot tolerate that Cyril, who ws delivered from the fire, remain among the living. Therefore, I am ordering him to be slain by the sword." The holy elder joyfully placed his head under the sword and was beheaded, to live eternally in the Kingdom of Christ.


The Egyptian Christians Patermuthius and Copres were tortured by the Emperor Julian the Apostate. Patermuthius was seventy-five years old and Copres was forty-five. The emperor succeeded in turning Copres away from the Faith of Christ, and persuaded him to embrace the idols. The apostate Copres cried out: "I am Julian's, not Christ's." But when the aged Patermuthius rebuked him, reminding him of eternal torments, Copres came to his senses and cried out before the emperor: "I am Christ's and not Julian's." Both were beheaded with the sword. Alexander, one of the emperor's soldiers, also suffered with them. Having witnessed their bravery in suffering, he had himself become a Christian. They honorably suffered for Christ, and went to Christ in the year 361 A.D.


Even though they bear the same names, these two are different from those mentioned above. Initially, this Patermuthius was the leader of a band of robbers, but after a miraculous vision, he converted to the true Faith and was tonsured a monk. This is what happened: He had climbed upon the roof of the home of a godly woman, in order to enter the house and pillage it. But sleep overcame him and he saw in a dream someone who warned him not to commit evil and to repent. Not only was Patermuthius baptized, but he was also tonsured a monk. Both Patermuthius and Copres were great miracle-workers. By the grace of God, they healed people from every pain and affliction, guided sinners on the true path, and discerned the future. A sinner lying on his deathbed implored Patermuthius that his life be prolonged, in order that he might repent. After praying, the saint told him that God had prolonged his life for three years. The sinner repented, and died exactly three years later. Patermuthius and Copres reposed in the Lord toward the end of the fourth century, at a very old age.


Theodore was tonsured a monk at the age of twenty, and spent thirty-six years as a monk. Then, during the reign of Emperor Michael and Empress Theodora, Theodore was elected Bishop of Edessa. He died in the year 848 A.D. Also commemorated with him are his teacher, St. Theodosius the Stylite of Syria; his brother, St. John the Hermit; and St. Ader, a wealthy nobleman who left his wife and was tonsured a monk.



Pancratius holy, during his childhood,

Warmed himself in the sun of the face of Christ.

Summer after summer flew fast away,

But in his mind that face remained,

Day and night, luminous before him.

All that darkened that image, he resisted,

And his possessions and the home of his parents he left,

And left every deceptive desire,

And the pleasures of the world that please men.

Alone, he went into the wilderness,

And to the last day of his earthly course

He was infused with the sweetness of the divine countenance.

A radiant lamp is not easily hid--

Pancratius in his own way, and the Lord in His.

Sicily, a pagan land was,

That needed the light of St. Pancratius,

That needed his witness of Christ's face,

That needed the blood of the martyr!

All that was needed, Pancratius gave.

As a martyr he fell, as an immortal one he remained.

Above Sicily, he remained as a light--

A guide to that face that would forever warm it.


Many ask themselves why God takes young men, maidens and children from this life--why does He not let them grow old, and then take them through death to the other world? This is God's economy, this is the holy will of His providence. But there are some examples, in the enormous experience of the Church, in which God sometimes acts in this way according to the wishes and prayers of his saints in the other world, or of relatives. St. Ader (in monasticism Athanasius) appeared to his wife, whom he had suddenly left with three children when he entered a monastery, where he died. When the wife reached a state of despair--out of her concern for her helpless children and also for her husband, for she did not know where he was--he appeared to her in a dream from the other world. His face was glowing and he was wearing a radiant white garment. He said to her: "Cease crying and railing against me. Behold, I will take two of the children from you to myself; and you, if you want to, can devote yourself to the salvation of your soul." At the same time and in the same manner, he also appeared to St. Theodosius the Stylite and said to him: "In three days, an old hermitess, who lives near the monastery, will go to the Lord. In that cell, put my wife, so that she may live an ascetical life as a nun. Let the youngest child remain with her until he grows up. He will walk in my footsteps and will inherit the apostolic throne in Jerusalem." And in truth, all this occurred as was foretold. On the third day the old hermitess died, and so also did Ader's two older children. His wife then took over the cell of the old hermitess with the youngest son, who--when he grew up--became the Patriarch of Jerusalem.


To contemplate the miraculous victory over Amalek (Exodus 17):

1. How the people prevailed against Amalek as long as Moses prayed to God with upraised hands;

2. How Moses, with upraised hands in prayer, prefigured the victorious Crucifixion of Christ;

3. How, through the power of the Cross and prayer, I too can conquer the dark passions that Amalek represents.


About the judgment of God on the righteous

"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that do not obey the Gospel of the Son of God?" (1 Peter 4:17).

When the judgment of God comes upon the house of the righteous man, the unrighteous one should not maliciously rejoice, but should tremble with fear. If the righteous man and the unrighteous one are neighbors, and if the hand of God falls on the righteous one, it has fallen on them both--on the former to temper and on the second to warn. When bitter suffering befalls the righteous one, it does not befall him without the will of God. Let not the unrighteous one rejoice, for this suffering is more for his sake than for the sake of the righteous one--that is, that he may see the wrath of God, and hasten to change his spirit and correct his works. Let him also ask himself: when such is the wrath of God against the righteous one, what will it be against me?

Therefore know, brethren, that justice is strength and injustice is weakness. Which can endure more and not break under the strain: might or weakness? Without a doubt, might. It is for this reason that a heavy yoke (burden) is placed on the righteous man. Let not the unrighteous one jeer (ridicule) when he sees the righteous one under a heavy yoke, and let him not say: My unrighteousness is better than his righteousness! Let him look upon the yoke of the righteous one with fear and trembling, and let him sincerely say to himself: That is my yoke, but I am entirely too weak to bear it. That is why it was thrown on his back, on the back of the righteous one, that I may see it and repent of my ways, and through repentance become strengthened for the burden that awaits me. Judgment must begin at the house of God--that is God's immeasurable mercy toward sinners, toward the weak ones who have become weakened by sin. Let them open their eyes and read the wrath of God that has been recorded. Judgment must begin at the house of God, for the house of God is strong, and the house of God is the righteous man, in which the Spirit of God abides. When the wind rocks the tower of stone, then let the hut dwellers fortify their huts.

O my brethren, how fateful and awesome are those apostolic words for sinners!

O Lord Jesus, just and merciful, have mercy on us and save us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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