Prologue of Ohrid


July 23


They all suffered in Lycia, during the reign of Emperor Dioceletian. Because they would in no way deny Christ or offer sacrifices to the idols, they were subjected to various tortures. They were stoned, scraped with sharp irons, and their knees were broken. By then they were more dead than alive, and were thrown into the fire. The power of God preserved them, and they remained unharmed by the flames. They were then brought out of the fire and beheaded. The Lord glorified them both on earth and in His heavenly kingdom. They suffered honorably in Lycia in the year 308 A.D.


Apollinarius was a disciple of the Apostle Peter. He was born in the city of Antioch. St. Peter took Apollinarius with him from Antioch to Rome, where he consecrated him bishop of Ravenna. In Ravenna Apollinarius entered the home of the soldier Ireneaus, whose son he healed of blindness. By this miracle, he converted the entire household to the Faith of Christ. He likewise cured the wife of the military commander of Ravenna of a terrible malady and baptized their entire household. Apollinarius remained with this household at the military commander's request. He formed a small house church there and remained with them for twelve years, preaching the Good News and baptizing unbelievers. On many occasions he was cruelly tortured by the pagan elders, but the all-powerful right hand of the Lord sustained and saved him. He was finally sentenced to exile in Illyria, in the Balkans. The boat in which Apollinarius was being transported was broken up in a storm and sank, and only St. Apollinarius, three of his clerics, and two soldiers were saved. The soldiers, having been saved miraculously, believed in the power of Apollinarius's God and were baptized. Apollinarius then went to preach the Holy Gospel throughout the Balkans, descending as far as the Danube River. After this, he set out for Thrace where, against much opposition, he also spread the Gospel of the Lord. After three years of labor in the Balkans, he was banished back to Italy. He returned to Ravenna, where the faithful rejoiced exceedingly at his return. Hearing of this, a pagan elder wrote to Emperor Vespasian about Apollinarius, accusing the saint of being a magician. He also asked the emperor if they should kill Apollinarius as an enemy of their gods. The emperor replied that they should not kill him, but require him to offer sacrifice to the gods or banish him from the city. The emperor declared: "It is not dignified to seek revenge against anyone for the gods, for they can avenge themselves against their own enemies if they are angered." In spite of this imperial decree, the pagans attacked Apollinarius and stabbed him with knives. This servant of God died of his severe wounds and was received into the Kingdom of God. The relics of St. Apollinarius repose in the church dedicated to him in Ravenna, Italy.



For the sake of Christ God,

Apollinarius endured sufferings, many and great

Without anger, without astonishment,

For he knew that there is no salvation without suffering;

He knew that the Lord's way was suffering,

And saw Peter's pierced hands.

He knew of many, slaughtered like lambs--

By a sword, into the Kingdom of God, sent.

And with his soul set right, for that he was prepared:

For the Living Christ, to endure public shame,

And all that the powers of hades

Had prepared for the torture of the faithful.

The saint endured, and with faith bore it all,

And he grew steadily older under cruel torture.

Even in his old age, torment did not pass him by.

Under brutal tortures, for Christ he died,

And with his heroism, many generations he astonished;

And did not die, but departed--to eternal life.


The great teachers of the Church endeavored to teach men great truths, not only by words but by obvious examples as well. Thus, in order to teach the monks, Abba Isaiah said that no one would receive a reward from God who did not labor for God in this life. He brought his disciples to a threshing floor, where a farm laborer was gathering the winnowed wheat. He said, "Give me some wheat!" The laborer replied: "Did you reap, Father?" "I did not", replied the elder. "How do you expect to get wheat, when you did not reap?" To this, the elder replied: "Then he who did not reap does not receive wheat?" "He does not," replied the laborer. Hearing such an answer, the elder silently turned away. When the disciples begged him to explain his action, the elder said: "I did this with the intention of showing you that he who has not lived a life of asceticism will not receive a reward from God."


To contemplate the suffering of the entire people because of the sin of one man (Joshua 7):

1. How the Israelites were prohibited by God from taking any of the possessions belonging to the conquered people of Jericho;

2. How one man took something of the spoil, and because of this the Israelites were defeated by the Ai;

3. How, even today, many suffer because of one man's transgression of the law of God.


About waterless wells

"These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever" (2 Peter 2:17).

The apostle calls impure men wells without water--those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities... But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not (2 Peter 2:10, 12). O waterless wells, adorned on all sides but nonetheless waterless, why are you called "wells," when nothing comes out of you but thirst? O you mere clouds and mist, why do you proudly inflate yourselves as though you would flood the entire world, when there is not even one drop of water in you--and when a breath of the Spirit of God will destroy and disperse you into nothing in one terrible moment? You care nothing for purity, and so you roll around in fleshly impurity; neither do you care about order, and so you detest authority; neither do you care about honor, and so you are shameless; neither do you care about God's will, and so you are self-willed; neither do you care about the knowledge of truth, and so you criticize that which you have never labored to understand. The mist of darkness is reserved forever for you. That is not God's will, but your own will. God did not ordain that road for you; you yourself chose it. God is just and will not be sinned against, but will render unto all according to their sins, and according to their unrepentant hearts.

What, brethren, are the fleshly desires of those who are wells without water and dry clouds and mist? What fruit comes from them but thistles and thorns that need no rain? Men with fleshly desires are no better than their desires, and they are blind because of them, and will be judged according to them.

O Lord, Creator of our souls and bodies, give us the grace of Your Holy Spirit, that we may preserve our bodies and souls in purity, and that in the Day of Judgment we may present both in purity to You, our Creator.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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