Prologue of Ohrid

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September 18

1. SAINT EUMENIUS, BISHOP OF GORTYNA ON CRETE

From his youth, Eumenius wholeheartedly followed Christ, freeing himself of two heavy burdens: the burden of wealth and the burden of the flesh. He freed himself of the first burden by distributing his entire estate to the poor and needy, and the second burden by strict fasting. In this way he first healed himself, and then began to heal others. Passionless and filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Eumenius shone with a light that could not be hidden. As it is written, A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14), so the holy Eumenius could not be hidden from the world. Witnessing his goodness, the people chose him as Bishop of Gortyna, and he governed the flock of Christ as a good shepherd. He was a father to the poor, wealth to the needy, consolation to the sorrowful, a healer of the sick and a most wonderful miracle-worker. By his prayers, he worked many miracles: he subdued a poisonous serpent, cast out demons and healed many of the sick-and he did this not only in his own town, but also in Rome and in the Thebaid. In a time of drought in the Thebaid, he obtained rain from God by prayer. There, in the Thebaid, his earthly life ended, and he took up his habitation in the eternal home of his Lord. He lived and labored in the seventh century.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR ARIADNA

In the Phrygian town of Promisea, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, there lived a pagan nobleman named Tertullus. The maiden Ariadna was his slave and a Christian. On the day of his son's birth, Tertullus prepared a great sacrificial offering to the idols, but the pious Ariadna did not attend, remaining at home to pray to the true God. Her master was enraged at this and tried to coerce her to deny Christ and to worship idols. When Ariadna refused, he tormented her with beatings and other cruel tortures and cast her into prison. When he released her from prison, he drove her away from the house. Soon afterward he regretted having released her, and sent servants to seize her and return her to him. By then, Ariadna was already a great distance from the town. She was passing by a huge rock when she saw her pursuers, and she prayed to God and the rock opened and hid her. The servants became confused by this and began to quarrel and fight among themselves, and killed each other.

3. THE HOLY MARTYR BIDZINI, PRINCE OF GEORGIA

Bidzini, and his kinsmen Elizbar and Shalva, died for the Christian Faith under Shah Abbas II, in the year 1661.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
THE HOLY MARTYR ARIADNA
 
The fair maiden Ariadna,
 
Served her master honorably,
 
But served God more than man.
 
A slave in body but not in soul,
 
She did not desire spiritual slavery
 
And would not worship idols.
 
She would bow before God the Creator,
 
She would bow before Christ the Savior,
 
But she would not bow before the idols.
 
She was tortured for her Lord,
 
And accepted torture with great joy,
 
With joy and thanksgiving.
 
Merciful God, with His All-seeing eye,
 
Saw St. Ariadna's holy suffering,
 
And commanded the lifeless rock
 
To hide His suffering virgin, 
 
As had once happened with Thecla and John.
 
Ariadna, all-blessed virgin,
 
Help us by your prayers
 
Before the throne of the merciful God;
 
And, in the company of the Holy Mother of God,
 
Help us by your prayers.
 
REFLECTION


The Lord said: Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:40). Similar things happen in almsgiving and in Holy Communion. In Holy Communion we receive the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of bread and wine; in almsgiving we give to the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of the poor and needy. A certain man in Constantinople was unusually merciful. Walking along the streets of the city, he would press his gift into the hands of the poor and hurry onward, so he would not hear their gratitude or be recognized. When a friend of his asked how he had become so merciful, he replied: "Once in church I heard a priest say that whoever gives to the poor, gives into the hands of Christ Himself. I didn't believe it, for I thought, 'How can this be, when Christ is in heaven?' However, I was on my way home one day and I saw a poor man begging, and the face of Christ shone above his head! Just then a passerby gave the beggar a piece of bread, and I saw the Lord extend His hand, take the bread, and bless the donor. From then on, I have always seen Christ's face shining above the beggars. Therefore, with great fear I perform as much charity as I can.''

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the righteousness of King Asa, and God's reward (I Kings 15):

1. How Asa did that which is good in the sight of God, and cleansed the land of idols;

2. How God granted him the victory over the Ethiopians, and blessed him and the people with every good.

HOMILY

on the resurrected and Living Lord,
Who is the Resurrection and the Life

I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke these holy words. Not only did He speak them, but also proved them by His actions. By raising Jairus's daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, and His friend Lazarus, He proved that He is the Resurrection and the life, the Resurrector and Life-giver. Even so, He proved this best by His own Resurrection from the dead. For, to be alive and then to help the dead-this is something that has been heard of. But to be dead and buried, and lie in the grave for three days and to give yourself life-that was unheard of until Christ's Resurrection. It is the miracle of miracles, and the proof of a power above every other power. This miracle was performed by our Lord. Our Lord manifested this power. Therefore, true are His words, I am the Resurrection and the life,-true and holy, and comforting to all of us who are traveling toward the inescapable death of the body, and who hope to live beyond the grave and see our Living Lord in glory.

However, our Lord is not only the Resurrector of the body, but also the Resurrector of the soul. During His life on earth, He resurrected only a few human bodies, but countless souls-to demonstrate that the resurrection of the soul is much more important than the resurrection of the body. Almost all human souls were dead when He came into the world, and He resurrected countless souls by His power, and imbued them with His life. Both the Jews and the pagans were dead in soul, and He enlivened the one and the other. My brethren, let us lay aside all concern for the resurrection of our bodies, and let us strive, while we still have time, for the resurrection of our souls. For if our souls do not resurrect, and are not enlivened by Christ while still on earth, let us not expect any joy from the resurrection of our bodies on the Day of Judgment, the Day of Wrath. For then the bodies of our dead souls would rise, not unto life, but unto eternal torment.

O Lord Jesus Christ, our only Resurrection and life, help us by Thy power and Thy mercy, that we may be resurrected and enlivened by Thee, unto salvation and eternal life.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. 

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