Prologue of Ohrid


August 30


Today we do not commemorate all the Serbian saints in general, but only several archbishops and patriarchs:

     Saint Sava, the first Archbishop of the Serbs and Equal to the Apostles;
     Arsenije (Arsenius), the successor to St. Sava, a great hierarch and miracle worker;
     Saint Sava II, son of the First-crowned, King Stefan, who lived in Jerusalem for a long time and is called "like unto Moses in meekness" [refer to the Srbljak, the Service Book of the Serbian Saints];
     Nikodim (Nicodemus), who lived a life of asceticism on the Holy Mountain [Athos], was abbot of Hilandar, and following that was Archbishop of all the Serbian and Coastal lands;
     Joanikije (Joannicius), at first an archbishop, and then patriarch from 1346 A.D. to his repose in 1349 A.D.;
     Ephraim, an ascetic who was elected patriarch against his will in the time of Prince Lazar in 1376 A.D., and who crowned Lazar king. After that, he resigned the patriarchal throne and retreated into solitude;
     Spyridon, who was the successor to Ephraim, and who reposed in the year 1388 A.D.;
     Makarije (Macarius), who renovated many ancient monasteries [Zaduzbine] and printed many ecclesiastical books in Skadar, Venice, Belgrade and other places. He also built the famous refectory in the monastery at Peć and labored much to advance the Church with the assistance of his brother Mehmed Sokolović, the Grand Vizier. Makarije died in the year 1574 A.D;
     Gabriel, by birth a nobleman of the Rajić family, who participated in the Moscow Church council under Patriarch Nikon, for which he was tortured for treason by the Turks, and hanged in the year 1656 A.D.
     With these we also commemorate Jevstatije (Eustace), Jakov, Danilo, Grigorije, Jovan, Sava III, Maxim and Nikon. Many of them lived a life of asceticism on the Holy Mountain [Athos], and all were meek and faithful servants in the vineyard of the Lord.


Alexander participated in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea [325 A.D.], in place of the aged Patriarch Metrophanes. Afterward, he succeeded Metrophanes as patriarch. When certain philosophers wanted to debate with him about faith, he said to one: "In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to be silent!" and the philosopher immediately became mute. By his prayers, also, Arius's life was shortened (see "Reflection" below). Alexander died at age ninety-eight in the year 340 A.D.

St. John the Faster governed the Church during the reign of the wicked Emperor Anastasius the acephalite heretic. He died in the year 595 A.D.

St. Paul IV governed the Church for five years and eight months, then resigned the throne and secretly received the Angelic Habit in order to repent for his sins, because he had earlier agreed with the iconoclasts. He was the predecessor of the great Tarasius, and died in the reign of Irene and Constantine in the year 784 A.D.


Christopher was an ascetic of the sixth century in the community of St. Theodosius. In a vision he saw the lampadas (votive lamps) of diligent monks alight, and the lampadas of the slothful monks unlit.


Eulalius was one of the predecessors of St. Basil. He defrocked his son of his priestly rank for wearing clothing unbecoming to his spiritual calling.



Men of God, Serbian saints,
Teachers wise and enlighteners,
Princes spiritual, glorious heroes,
Of the flock of Christ, most good shepherds,
God you served, and denied yourselves,
And beacons you were to your people;
You had divinity within you,
O God-bearing men,
From the Holy Trinity, receiving light.
Generously you received it and everywhere dispersed it.
Your labors bore miracles fruit.
In the footprints of Sava, you walked straight,
Throughout the Serbian land, spreading holiness,
Confirming faith in the Word of God.
In new raiment, you clothed souls,
And with beautiful churches, adorned the land.
O men of God, equal to the angels!
You were the angels of the Serbian people;
To glorify God, you taught them,
To worship the Savior, the Living Christ;
And you faithfully served the Holy Gospel.
In heaven, that is why the Lord glorified you,
And, as candles, before the Serbian people, set you:
That, living in heaven, you shine on earth
And lead your people in truth and justice.
As long as Serbia, your example, upholds,
By your prayers the Serbs, as a people, will live.

With clamor and disgrace the noisy heretics died. And their deaths themselves show God's wrath against them for their lies and for the disturbances they caused the Church of God. After he was condemned in Nicaea, Arius came to Emperor Constantine one day and begged him to be received into the Church again. The emperor asked Arius if he believed in the Nicaean Creed [Symbol of Faith]. Arius, the cunning one, kept the written form of his heretical confesion of faith in his bosom. Striking himself with his hand across his bosom, he said to the emperor: "Thus do I believe." The emperor thought that Arius had repented, and sent him to Patriarch Alexander to be received into the Church again. Patriarch Alexander was unwilling to receive Arius, knowing that he was a liar. Even so, the emperor designated a Sunday on which Arius was to be received back into communion, in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia. On the eve of that day, the holy patriarch prayed to God to receive his soul before the blaspheming heretic was received into the Church. When the Sunday of the appointed day dawned, the patriarch was at service in the church and Arius, with the emperor's men and his fellow heretics, set out for the church. When they arrived at the Square of Constantine, a pain--both bodily and spiritual--overcame Arius, and he looked for a place to relieve himself.  There, in the square, was such a public place, and he went in. His escort waited a long time, and became impatient from waiting. When some of them went to see what was wrong with Arius, they found him dead in that foul place, with his intestines extruded outside his body in filth and blood.


To contemplate the victories of David over the Philistines (2 Samuel 5 [also known as 2 Kings 5]):

1. How the Philistines invaded David's land, and David prayed to God, and defeated the Philistines;

2. How the Philistines invaded again, and David prayed to God, and defeated the Philistines again.


About the mysterious ancestry [generation] of Christ

"…And who shall declare His generation?" (Isaiah 53:8).

For the Jews, the ancestry of the Lord Jesus was hidden, like the hidden spring of a great river. They read and knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and yet when He was born in Bethlehem they did not recognize Him. They knew that the Messiah would come from the lineage of David, and He was born of the lineage of David through His Most-holy Mother, but they did not recognize or acknowledge Him. They read that He would be born of a Virgin; that He would flee into Egypt; that He would be called out of Egypt; that His forerunner would appear before Him, crying in the wilderness (Mark 1:3); that He would shine as a great light in the darkness and shadow of the deadly lands of Zebulon and Naphthali--and all the rest that the prophets foretold and wrote as signs of His coming. Still, the Jews did not recognize or acknowledge Him, but crucified the King of Glory like a criminal.

If He were an ordinary man, would the prophet have delved into His ancestry and origin? Who else in the history of Israel had a hidden ancestry? Melchisedek! Such lineage was hidden from the Jews, and is always hidden from unbelievers; but from believers it is not hidden anymore. We know that Christ is "Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten not made" [The Nicaean Creed]. That is Him in eternity. We know that "He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" [The Nicaean Creed], and that He appeared in the world as true God and true man. That is Him in time. His ancestry is wondrous, mysterious, glorious and majestic. When we say everything that was revealed to us about Him, nevertheless, we can still ask ourselves: Who shall declare His generation? Not because His ancestry is unknown, but rather because His ancestry is unreachable, incomprehensible, beyond our understanding, and above nature.

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, enlighten us by Your divine understanding, and raise us up to You by Your mankind-loving power.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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