Prologue of Ohrid


August 19


Andrew was an officer, a tribune, in the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Maximian. He was a Syrian by birth, and served in Syria. When the Persians menaced the Roman Empire with their military, Andrew was entrusted to command the imperial army in defense against the enemy. Therefore, Andrew was promoted to the rank of general--"Stratelates." Secretly a Christian, even though he was not baptized, Andrew trusted in the Living God and chose only the best of the many soldiers to enter into battle. Before the battle, he told his soldiers that if they would call upon the help of the one, true God--Christ the Lord--their enemies would scatter as dust before them. Truly, all the soldiers were filled with zeal for Andrew and his faith, and invoked Christ for assistance; then they made the assault. The Persian army was utterly destroyed. When the victorious Andrew returned to Antioch, envious men accused Andrew of being a Christian, and the imperial deputy summoned him to court. Andrew openly confessed his unwavering faith in Christ. After bitterly torturing him, the deputy threw Andrew into prison and wrote to the emperor in Rome. Knowing the respect in which the people and the army held Andrew, the emperor ordered the deputy to free Andrew, and to seek another opportunity and reason to kill him. Through God's revelation, Andrew learned of the emperor's command, and, taking with him his faithful soldiers, 2,593 in number, he departed to Tarsus in Cilicia, where all were baptized by Bishop Peter. Persecuted even there by the imperial authorities, Andrew and his detachment withdrew further into the Armenian Mount Taurus. The Roman army caught up with them there while they were at prayer in a ravine, and all of them were beheaded. None of them tried to defend themselves, but all were desirous of a martyr's death for Christ. On this spot, where the stream of the martyr's blood flowed, a spring of healing water burst forth, which cured many people of every disease. Bishop Peter secretly brought his people and honorably buried the bodies of the martyrs where they had been slain. Dying honorably, they were all crowned with the wreath of glory and took up their habitation in the Kingdom of Christ our Lord.


Theophanes was born in Ioannia. As a young man, he left all and went to Mt. Athos, where he was tonsured a monk in the community of Dochiariou. He was an example to all the monks in fasting, prayer, all-night vigils, and depriving himself of all that was unnecessary. Because of this, he was eventually elected abbot. Later, because of a disagreement with the monks, he and his nephew left Mt. Athos for Berea [Beroea] in Macedonia, where he established a monastery in honor of the All-holy Theotokos. When this monastery blossomed with spiritual life, Theophanes entrusted its governance to his nephew. He then went to Naousa, where he established another monastery in honor of the Holy Archangels. Theophanes died peacefully in the fifteenth century. His miracle-working relics repose in Naousa, and even now manifest the great power of God.


All three were martyred for Christ during the reign of the wicked Emperor Diocletian. Timothy was burned alive, and Agapius and Thecla were thrown to wild beasts.



Nature sang on Mount Taurus,

But resounded without an audible human response,

Until one day the mountains shook,

And a new sound reverberated thorughout it.

Then the mountain, its age-old echo, stilled,

To hear something new, which it had not in ages heard.

There, Andrew's brave detachment met their end;

There, the wolves slew the innocent lambs.

Andrew, from the Persians, the Roman Empire saved,

And now, against Andrew, the Roman army thundered.

With his two-thousand companions, Andrew on the earth knelt;

To his friends, good counsel he gave:

"Now is the favorable hour, now is the day of salvation--

Our separation from earthly life.

In humility, before God, let us kneel,

And for so much good, let us warmly thank Him,

And especially, brethren, for a martyr's death,

Without anger or railing against the executioner's hand."

So Andrew spoke, and to their knees they fell,

And the two thousand men began to pray.

The cruel persecutors, their swords brandished,

On the mountaintop, choirs of angels shone,

And the gates of Paradise, in Heaven opened,

For Holy Andrew, the glorious Stratelates,

And his army, who defeated the enemy

And for Christ, shed their honorable blood.


When an unexpected misfortune happens to us who are innocent, we should not immediately grieve, but rather we should try to see God's providence in the situation. Through that misfortune, God is preparing something new and beneficial for us. One day, unexpected news came to Blessed Theophanes, the Abbot of Dochiariou, that the Turks had seized his sister's son, had forced him to embrace Islam and had taken him to Constantinople. Theophanes went immediately to Constantinople, and with the help of God he succeeded in finding his nephew. He conveyed him out of Constantinople in great secrecy and brought him to his monastery on Mt. Athos. There he received his nephew into the Christian Faith again, then tonsured him a monk. However, the brethren began to complain against their abbot and his nephew for fear of the Turks, for they were afraid that the Turks would find out and destroy the monastery. Not knowing what to do, St. Theophanes took his nephew away--not only from Dochiariou, but also from the Holy Mountain itself, and came to Berea. The later activities of Theophanes in Berea (and later, in Naousa) proved how much that misfortune was beneficial to the Church. That which Theophanes could never achieve on the Holy Mountain, he achieved in these other places to which he had fled because of that misfortune: he founded two new monasteries, where, in time, many monks were saved, and where countless men found comfort for themselves. Also, his holy relics became a source of healing for the strengthening of faith among many unbelievers and those of little faith. Thus, God wisely directs the destiny of men through unexpected misfortunes which, in the moment, may only seem to be the end of everything.


To contemplate the wondrous providence of God in the life of David (1 Samuel 16 [also known as 1 Kings 16]):

1. How the Spirit of God withdrew from Saul because of Saul's sin;

2. How an evil spirit assaulted Saul, so that he sought a harpist in order to comfort him;

3. How the servants of the king found David, and brought him to the king, to calm him with the harp.


About the power of the Lord and the weakness of idols

"Behold, the Lord rideth upon a light cloud and shall come into Egypt: And the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence" (Isaiah 19:1).

Fleeing from King Herod, the "Pharaoh" of Jerusalem, the Lord came to Egypt. The true Israel is not reckoned according to the place, but according to the spirit and deeds. At the time of the birth of the Lord, greater evil [Herod] reigned in Jerusalem than had ever reigned in the Egypt of the Pharaohs--as it often happens when believers fall away from the Faith: they become worse than the unbelievers who never knew the true Faith. Such is the case in our days, with the rulers in Russia who apostatized from Christ. [This was written in 1928 --Ed.] At that time, Egypt was a kinder and more hospitable place for the Savior of the world than was Jerusalem. Compare the words of the prophet with the words of the angel in Righteous Joseph's dream: Arise, and take the young Child and His mother and flee into Egypt (Matthew 2:13), and immediately you will be convinced that the words of Isaiah do not refer to anyone other than Christ the Lord. You will be convinced of this even more when you hear the words of the other prophet who says: Out of Egypt I called My son (Hosea 11: 1).

What does "a light cloud," on which He [the Lord] will come to Egypt, signify? This signifies the body of the Lord, in which He clothed His divinity, for the body of man is as a dense cloud in which the soul resides. Therefore, this is the prophetic vision of the Incarnate Lord. Some interpreters also think that "a light cloud" signifies the Most-pure Mother of God who, by long fasting and prayer and other ascesis, made her body as light as a cloud. The body of the Theotokos was "light as a cloud" especially becuase of her overcoming ot the passions that weigh down the human body.

O All-merciful Lord, Who desires salvation for all mankind, and does not look to see who is a Jew and who is an Egyptian: save and have mercy on us, for we continuously hope in Your Name.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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