Prologue of Ohrid


July 17


Marina was born in Pisidian, Antioch of pagan parents. At the age of twelve, Marina learned about the Lord Jesus Christ: how He became incarnate of the All-Pure Virgin and how He worked many miracles, suffered death on the Cross and gloriously resurrected. Her young heart became inflamed with love for the Lord and she vowed that she would never marry, and in her soul she further desired to suffer for Christ and be baptized in the blood of martyrdom. Her father hated her for her faith and did not consider her as his daughter. The imperial deputy, Olymbrius, learning from Marina that she was a Christian, at first desired that she would become his wife. When Marina refused, he ordered her to bow down before the idols. St. Marina replied: "I will neither bow down nor offer sacrifice to the breathless and dead idols, who do not recognize themselves and do not know that we honor or dishonor them. I will not give them the honor that belongs only to my Creator." Then Olymbrius subjected Marina to harsh torture, and threw her into prison, completely covered with wounds and blood. In the prison Marina prayed to God. After her prayer, the devil appeared to her in the guise of a horrible serpent that entwined itself around her head. When she made the sign of the cross, the serpent burst apart and vanished. Then she was engulfed with a heavenly light, and it seemed to her that the walls and roof of the prison vanished, and a radiant, towering cross appeared. A white dove perched atop the cross, issuing forth a voice which said: "Rejoice Marina, rational [discerning] dove of Christ, daughter of Zion in the highest, for your day of rejoicing draws near." Then, Marina was healed of all her wounds and pains by the power of God. The demented judge tortured her the following day, both in fire and in water, but Marina endured all, as though she were in another body. Finally, he condemned her to be beheaded. Before her death, the Lord Jesus appeared to her, accompanied by angels. She was beheaded during the reign of Diocletian; but in soul and power, she has remained alive in the heavens and on earth. A hand of St. Marina reposes in the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mt. Athos. There is also a monastery dedicated to St. Marina with a portion of her miracle-working relics, located atop Mount Langa in Albania, overlooking Lake Ohrid. Countless miracles have occurred and still occur in this monastery, witnessed not only by Christians, but by many Muslims as well. So much respect did the Turks have for this holy place, that they never dared disturb either the monastery or its property. At one time a Turk was the guardian of the monastery.


From his youth, this Russian saint lived a spiritual life of asceticism in several monasteries: in Solovki, Mirozh and elsewhere. He then founded his own monastery along the Luza River, in the province of Vologda. He lived a strict life of asceticism, such that his soul was filled with the light of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. A spiritual beacon, Leonid attracted many to the ascetic life. He is called of "Ustnedumsk," because once, when he was bitten by a poisonous serpent, he neither thought nor spoke about it, and he remained alive. Having pleased God, Leonid died peacefully on July 17, 1653 A.D. His relics repose in his monastery.



Saint Marina, to the Lord, prayed,

And with warm tears she strengthened her prayers;

"Lord Jesus, my God and Savior,

All who in You hope, You help.

Be near me, near to my soul,

When the unbelievers begin to destroy my body.

Be near me, O Strength of martyrs,

That, without fear and cries, I endure the torment.

Before the hungry wolves, like a sheep I stand,

As a lonely bird before many hunters,

As a poor fish snared by the net--

But, O Lord of salvation, to You I look!

My body, like a cheap sack, let them tear,

O Christ, You will I not deny;

To all corruptible pleasures, I prefer sufferings with You,

Only to Your authority, O Savior, I bow down

Conqueror of death, the devil and hades,

Your victories now, through me, repeat!

Praise be to You, my Lord and Savior,

That You help all who hope in You."


Until Christ becomes all for the soul--all that has permanent and unchanging value--man cannot enter into suffering for Christ. How could St. Marina, a fifteen-year-old girl, enter into suffering for Christ? Because Christ was all to her, absolutely all! How could Saint Julitta have rejoiced on seeing her three-year-old son Cyricus dead for the Faith of Christ? Again Christ was all to her, absolutely all. Behold, how St. Tikhon of Zadonsk speaks exhaustively--in the form of a conversation between Christ and man--about how Christ can be all to man:

"Do you desire good for yourself?

Every good is in Me.

Do you desire blessedness?

Every blessedness is in Me.

Do you desire beauty?

What is more beautiful than Me?

Do you desire nobility?

What is more noble than the Son of God and the Holy Virgin?

Do you desire height?

What is higher than the Kingdom of Heaven?

Do you desire riches?

In Me are all riches.

Do you desire wisdom?

I am the Wisdom of God.

Do you desire friendship?

Who is a more loving Friend than I, Who laid down My life for all?

Do you desire help?

Who can help except Me?

Do you seek joy?

Who will rejoice without Me?

Do you seek comfort in misfortune?

Who will comfort you other than Me?

Do you seek peace?

I am the Peace of the soul.

Do you seek life?

In Me is the source of life.

Do you seek light?

I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12).


To contemplate the miraculous bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21):

1. How all the people would have died from the bite of the serpents, until Moses raised the bronze serpent on a pole;

2. How all who were bitten by a serpent were made whole as soon as they gazed upon the bronze serpent;

3. How the bronze serpent prefigures Christ on the Cross.


About the need to repeat and repeat

"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and be established in the present truth" (2 Peter 1:12).

A plower ploughs a field. Does not the plower repeat the same task every moment? How would he plow the field, if not by plowing from morning to dusk, making furrow after furrow?

A traveler walks down a road. Does not the traveler repeat the same task every second with the same effort? How else would he travel the road and reach his destination?

The carpenter prepares the boards in his workshop. Does not the carpenter repeat the same task with every board, with the same labor? How else would he be able to prepare the required number of boards?

Brethren, are not all of our beneficial works comprised of strands and strands of repetition? Therefore, let not the preacher of the truth become slothful, and let him not say: "I've told them, and I will not repeat it!" Let not the hearer of the truth become proud, and let him not say: "I have heard it once, and I do not need to hear it again!"

O preacher of the truth, do not be afraid to repeat and repeat: to teach repeatedly, and to remind repeatedly. Without repetition, the field is not plowed, nor the path traveled, nor the framework of the house prepared. And it is your task to plow, to lead and to prepare.

O hearer of the truth, do not become proud and say that you heard the truth once. Truth is food for the soul. You have eaten bread today, yesterday, and the day before yesterday, and for months before, and years past. And you will eat it again, so that your body will be healthy. Nourish your soul as well. Nourish it with the truth--the same truth, yesterday, today, tomorrow and until death--so that your soul may be healthy, strong and radiant.

O Lord Jesus, nourish us every day and every hour with Your truth, which is Yourself, O Jesus, sweet nourishment!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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