Prologue of Ohrid


August 8


Emilian served as bishop in Cyzicus, during the reign of the nefarious Emperor Leo the Armenian, the iconoclast. Since he did not want to submit to the decrees of the emperor,which demanded the removal of icons from the churches, Emilian and other Orthodox bishops were sent into exile. He spent five years in exile, enduring much pain and humiliation for the sake of Christ. Emilian died in the year 820 A.D. and took up his habitation among the citizens of heaven.


Myron, a married farmer, joyfully and abundantly distributed the fruits of his land to needy people. Once he encountered strangers and thieves stealing wheat from his threshing floor. Not telling them who he was, St. Myron helped the thieves fill the sacks, lift them on their backs, and escape. Because of his exceptional virtue, Myron was ordained a presbyter and afterward consecrated a bishop. He was a great miracle-worker and performed many good and mighty works in the name of the Lord Jesus. Myron died sometime close to the year 350 A.D., in the hundredth year of his life.


Gregory is called "the Sinaite" because he received the monastic tonsure on Mount Sinai. During the reign of Emperor Andronicus Palaeologus (about the year 1330 A.D.), he arrived at Mt. Athos to visit the monasteries and to learn more, if possible, about the practice of mental prayer and contemplation. At that time, however, these two forms of spiritual practice were almost unknown among the holy Athonites. The only one who knew them--and practiced them to perfection--was St. Maximus of Kapsokalyvia. Gregory spread his understanding about mental prayer through all the cells and monasteries on Mt. Athos. His most distinguished disciple there was Kallistos, Patriarch of Constantinople, who would later write the biography of St. Gregory. After this, Gregory crossed over to Macedonia and to other Balkan regions, and established communities in which the monks practiced mental prayer. Thus he assisted many in the deepening of their prayer, to their salvation. His writings about mental prayer and asceticism can be found in the book "Dobrotoljublja: The Philokalia." Among other things, he wrote the hymn to the Holy Trinity "It is meet and right," which is sung at the Sunday Midnight Service. Gregory was one of the most eminent ascetics and spiritual teachers of the Balkans. He died peacefully after a long and laborious life, and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of God.


Triandaphyllos was born in Zagora, and Spaso was born in Radoviste, in the Diocese of Strumica. They were both Slavs, and both were young, simple men--but their love for Christ was more precious to them than this world or this life. They gave their lives and did not betray Christ. They suffered at the hands of the Turks for the Christian Faith: Triandaphyllos, in Constantinople, in the year 1680 A.D.; and Spaso, in Thessalonica, in the year 1794 A.D.


Gormizdas was a nobleman at the court of the Persian Emperor Yezdegeherd. The emperor confiscated his rank and property, and sent him to tend livestock, because he would not deny his Christian Faith. The emperor hoped that Gormizdas would pine so badly for his rank and property that he would soon worship the idols. However, Gormizdas peacefully tended the livestock and kept his faith. For that, the emperor subjected him to cruel tortures that exhausted the body of Christ's martyr but could not alter his spirit. Finally, Gormizdas was slain, in the year 418 A.D., immediately after the martyrdom of St. Abdus the bishop (March 31). Gormizdas was martyred on earth, and glorified in heaven.



The wise Sinaite taught the monks,

And, by his own example, confirmed his teachings:

"Passionlessness is the Promised Land,

And, by the Spirit, the passionless soul is illumined.

A man will be devoid of thoughts

When, through prayer, his mind rests in the heart.

Of all passions, sinful thoughts are the forerunners

Which, in the power of demons, hold the soul.

We are all sick, and the Physician's medicine is ready,

For our healing, and our health.

The name of Jesus, in your heart, speak,

And it will, like fire, consume the passions!

Let that powerful name, with heavenly brightness,

Move in your heart with every breath.

If, in your heart, you do not have the Lord Jesus,

All other ascesis remains like water.

Only Jesus, within me, is able

To turn the water of my being into true wine.

As in a nest, rest your whole mind in your heart,

And glorify Jesus by ceaseless prayer.

'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner!'

Let the prayer be slow, not hurried,

Until the heart, from prayer, bursts into flame;

Then the mind will gaze upon heaven, and forget about the earth."


Moses spoke to the sons of Israel: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life…that you may live (Deuteronomy 30:19). There are some decisive moments in the life of men when indeed it is left to man to choose between life or death. Judas, in a decisive moment, was corrupted by greed for silver, and he chose death--the sin of avarice. When the general wanted to elevate Marinus the soldier (August 7) to the rank of an officer [centurion], envious men denounced him as a Christian. The general permitted him only three hours to contemplate, and to choose between life or death: either to deny Christ or to die. Marinus, hearing the words of his superior, went to the local bishop, Theotechnus, and asked him for advice. The bishop led Marinus into the church, stood him before the Gospel, and pointed--at first to the Gospel, then to the sword that hung from Marinus's waist--and said to him: "Choose, courageous man, one of these two. Either wear the sword and serve the earthly king temporarily and, after death, be lost eternally; or become a soldier of the Heavenly King, and lay down your life for His Holy name, written in this Book, and reign with Him in eternal life." Marinus immediately decided, kissed the Holy Gospel and departed, through death, into life eternal.


To contemplate the miraculous appearance of God to the child Samuel (1 Samuel 3 [also known as 1 Kings 3]):

1. How one night, when Samuel was lying down, the Lord called him three times by name;

2. How the Lord told Samuel of the condemnation of the House of Eli [Heli] (because of the corruption of the sons of Eli) and of the condemnation of all of Israel;

3. How the Lord did not want to appear either to Eli the high priest, or to his sons, but rather to Samuel, an innocent child.


About the peace-making of Christ

"And they [the people] shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).

How clearly the prophet saw Christ the Peacemaker! The prophet elucidated, one by one, the merits of the Savior. First, the prophet revealed Him as the Lawgiver of the new Law, a law for all the peoples on earth. Then the prophet illustrated His exaltedness above all heights, earthly and historical. In the passage we see above, the prophet shows Him to be the Peacemaker, whose power and love will beat swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks. Has this great prophecy of peace been fulfilled? Yes, it has, in spite of the fact that wars still exist. Behold, wars among Christian peoples are not the same as wars among pagans. Pagans fight with pride, while Christians fight with shame. Pagan faiths give only warriors access to their heavens, while the Christian Faith promises heaven to the saints. As Christians sometimes commit other pagan sins by their weakness, so they also commit the sin of waging war. However, God examines the heart and knows with what disposition the pagans sin, and with what disposition the Christians sin. The Pharisees denied Christ, and Peter also denied Him. But the Pharisees denied Him with unrepentant malice, while Peter denied Him with shame, only to repent and confess Him anew.

Brethren, what can we say concerning the swords and spears of passions, by which we kill our souls and the souls of our fellow men? Oh, when will we beat those swords into plowshares that deeply plow the souls, and sow the noble seed of Christ in ourselves! And when will we beat the spears into pruning hooks, to harvest the tares in our souls and burn them! Only then will the peace of Christ take up abode in our souls, just as it abode in the souls of the saints. Who, then, would even think about war against his neighbors or against neighboring peoples?

Oh, how wondrous is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God!

O Lord, beat the weapons of war within us into instruments of peace by the fire of Your word.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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