Prologue of Ohrid


August 23


The holy man Lupus was a servant of Great-martyr Demetrius, the military commander of Thessalonica. When Emperor Maximian beheaded St. Demetrius, Lupus dipped the hem of his garment, together with his ring, in the blood of the martyr. Lupus worked many miracles in Thessalonica with this ring and this garment, healing people of every pain and infirmity. Emperor Maximian (then still residing in Thessalonica) discovered this and ordered that Lupus be tortured and killed. However, the soldiers who took up weapons against Lupus turned against one another and severely wounded each other. As he was an unbaptized Christian, Lupus prayed that God would somehow bring about his baptism before his death. At that moment, rain fell upon this holy martyr, and thus he received baptism from on high. After great sufferings, Lupus was beheaded, and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.


Pothinus was sent by St. Polycarp from Asia Minor to preach in Gaul [France]. He became the first Bishop of Lyons and converted many pagans to Christianity. During the persecution of Christians in 177 A.D., Pothinus was brought to trial--more accurately, he was carried, [in the arms of others] for he was ninety years old. The proconsul asked him: "Who is the Christian God?" The aged Pothinus replied: "You will find out if you become worthy." The pagans attacked him with canes and stones, and beat him without mercy. Thrown into prison, St. Pothinus died from the beatings two days later, and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.


In his youth, Ireneaus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostles, who sent him to preach in Gaul. Following the martyrdom of St. Pothinus, Ireneaus was installed as bishop. In his countless writings, Ireneaus defined the Orthodox Faith and also defended it from heretics. Ireneaus was martyred for Christ in the time of Emperor Severus in the year 202 A.D., as were also nineteen thousand of his fellow Christians.


Saint Victor suffered and died in Marseilles [France] in the third century. After prolonged and bitter tortures, he was cast into prison, where he converted the guards to the Christian Faith. He died by crucifixion.


Alban was an English nobleman. In a time of persecution, he concealed a Christian priest in his home and was learned the Christian Faith from him. Alban gave his clothing to the priest, then dressed himself as the priest and gave himself up to the torturers. Sentenced to death, he converted his executioner to the Christian Faith.



Most beautiful is a vine with fruitful branches,

With fragrant fruit, noble fruit;

In his offspring, a parent is wonderful;

Of physical wedlock, sons are the glory.

But more beautiful than the vine and a fruitful marriage

Are the spiritual children of the Holy Spirit.

Polycarp, most-glorious, had two sons--

Saint Ireneaus and Saint Pothinus.

His spiritual, not fleshly, sons were they,

Crowned with eternal glory that never fades.

By the Spirit of God, Polycarp bore them spiritually;

They were dearer to him than if he had sired them physically.

He raised them both up, with wisdom nourished them,

And, to preach in Gaul, he prepared them both.

Two pleasing sacrifices, two pure lambs--

He gave to the slaughter, for the Crucified Christ.

Of the New Zion, two wise heralds,

Of baptized Lyons, two courageous bishops--

Ireneaus and Pothinus glorified God

And Polycarp, their spiritual father.

Heroically they stood, and as martyrs they fell,

And, before the benevolent Christ, they stood again, crowned.


The power of the Cross is mysterious: no matter how unexplainable, it is true and indisputable. Yet St. John Chrysostom speaks of a custom in his time, in which the sign of the Cross is attached "on the emperor's diadem, on the accouterments of the soldiers, and it is traced on parts of the body--the head, the breast [chest] and the heart--and also on the table of oblation and over beds.... If we need to to expel demons, we use the Cross; it also helps to heal the sick." St. Benedict made the sign of the Cross over a glass of poison, and the glass burst as though it were struck by a stone. St. Julian made the sign of the Cross over a glass of poison that was brought to him and drank the poison, and he suffered no harm. The Holy Female Martyr Basilissa of Nicomedia protected herself with the sign of the Cross, stood amidst the flames and remained unharmed. The Holy Martyrs Audon and Senis crossed themselves when wild beasts were released on them, and the beasts became docile and meek as lambs. The sign of the Cross has been the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the demons, from the time of the ancient ascetics to the present day. The most horrible of the devil's devisings vanish into nothing, like smoke, when man traces the sign of the Cross over himself. Thus, it is a sign of the Lord Jesus Christ's love for mankind that the Cross--at one time a sign of criminality and shame--became, through His Crucifixion and Resurrection, the repository of all victorious power and might.


To contemplate the rapid advance of evil in the soul of Saul from the moment he turned away from God (1 Samuel 22 [also known as 1 Kings 22]):

1. How he hurled a spear at David;

2. How he hurled a spear at his son Jonathan;

3. How he slew eighty-five priests in one day, suspecting that they were aligned with David;

4. How, in every age, and with every single unrepented sin against God, many other sins are also drawn in.


About John the Forerunner, and on how Isaiah prophesied concerning him

"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (Isaiah 40:3).

When a king wants to visit a certain place, he sends a herald to announce his coming. An unusual herald is appropriate for an unusual king. In the wilderness, Moses was the herald of Christ the King; in Jerusalem, the Prophets; in Nazareth, the Archangel; in Bethlehem, the Magi of the East; at the Jordan, John the Baptist. Not one king in the history of mankind has had such heralds. St. John the Baptist--as unusual and special as were the other heralds of Christ--was the voice crying in the two-fold wilderness: in the wilderness of Jordan and in the human wilderness. Just as the wilderness of Jordan was fruitless and dry, so the wilderness of the human spirit was unfruitful and dry. John was not able to make the human wilderness green and fruitful, but he cleared and plowed it. He was preparing the earth for the great Sower, Who, by His coming, brought with Him seed and rain--the seed of knowledge, and the rain of grace from on high--to make it green and fruitful. By repentance, John prepared the way, and by baptism in water he made the path straight. The way and the paths--these are the souls of men. By repentance, the souls of men are prepared to receive the seed of Christ; and by baptism in water, the seed is implanted deep in the earth of human hearts. When they are immersed in the baptismal water, the proud and the lowly are all as one--equal in their nothingness before the majesty of the All-glorious Christ the Savior. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low (Isaiah 40:4). These words are not about earthly valleys and hills, but about lowly and proud men. As all corpses in the grave are the same before the eyes of a living man, so all sinners--the lowly and the proud, the slaves and the masters--are equal before the Living God.

Such a wondrous vision was seen by Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of the One, True, Living God.

O Lord, Heavenly King, Whom the heavenly hosts worship day and night, look down once again upon our nothingness--and by Your humiliation and suffering for us, save us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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