Prologue of Ohrid

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September 28

1. THE VENERABLE CHARITON THE CONFESSOR

Chariton was a distinguished and devout citizen of the city of Iconium. Imbued with the spirit of his compatriot, St. Thecla, Chariton openly confessed the name of Christ. When a bitter persecution of Christians began during the reign of Emperor Aurelian, Chariton was immediately brought to trial before the eparch. The judge ordered him to worship the gods, but Chariton replied: "All your gods are demons, and were cast from the heavens into the nethermost hell.'' Chariton clearly proclaimed his faith in the One Living God, the Creator of all, and the Lord Jesus, the Savior of mankind. The eparch ordered that he be tortured and beaten, until his whole body was like one great wound. When Aurelian's evil deeds caught up with him and he died an evil death, Chariton was freed from torture and prison. He then set out for Jerusalem. On the way he was seized by robbers, but escaped from them by God's providence. Chariton, not wanting to return to Iconium again, withdrew to the wilderness of Pharan, where he founded a monastery and gathered monks. He established a rule for the monastery and then, to avoid the praise of men, withdrew to another wilderness near Jericho. There he founded another monastery called the Monastery of Chariton. Finally, he founded a third monastery, Souka, which the Greeks called the Old Lavra. Chariton died at a great old age, and took up his abode in the glory of his Lord on September 28, 350. His relics repose in his first monastery. The composition of the rite of monastic tonsure is attributed to St. Chariton.

2. THE HOLY PROPHET BARUCH

He was a disciple and faithful friend of the great prophet Jeremiah. He prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, the destruction of Babylon, and the coming of the Son of God to earth. It is held that he was slain by the Jews in Egypt, as was the Prophet Jeremiah, in the seventh century before Christ.

3. THE HOLY MARTYR MARK THE SHEPHERD

At the time of Diocletian, Magnus, the magistrate of Antioch, went hunting with his soldiers. Pursuing a wild beast, the soldiers saw that it fled to the shepherd Mark, who was tending his flock there. The beast fawned around Mark, a man of God. Seeing this, thirty soldiers listened to Mark's explanation of the Faith, and believed in Christ. They were soon beheaded. The magistrate then bound Mark, took him to town and summoned three brothers, Alexander, Alphaeus and Zosimas, who were blacksmiths. He ordered them to make instruments of torture with which to torment Mark. All three of them, after conversing with St. Mark, confessed the Christian Faith, and ignored the magistrate's order. The magistrate sentenced them to death, and ordered that molten lead be poured into their mouths. After this, the saintly Mark was beheaded, and his head was mockingly placed in the temple of Artemis. Because of this, that temple was destroyed by the power of God.

4. THE HOLY MARTYR VATSLAV [WENCESLAUS], KING OF THE CZECHS

Vatslav was the grandson of St. Ludmilla. As king, he labored in the Faith like the great ascetics, and strengthened the Orthodox Faith among his people. He was strict in ensuring that no innocent person suffer in the courts. In his zeal for the Christian Faith and in his love for his fellow man, St. Vatslav purchased pagan children who were being sold as slaves, and immediately baptized them and raised them as Christians. He translated the Gospel of St. John into the Czech language, and transported the relics of St. Vitus and St. Ludmilla to Prague. His brother Boleslav invited him to be his guest, and then killed him in his court. Immediately after this, Boleslav brought in German priests and had the services celebrated in Latin. St. Vatslav suffered in the year 935 and his relics repose in Prague.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
THE HOLY MARTYR VATSLAV, KING OF THE CZECHS
 
From a wicked mother, good fruit was born:
 
St. Vatslav, who pleased God.
 
His wicked mother gave him only a body,
 
But his grandmother-light and faith and hope.
 
The glorious grandmother, pious Ludmilla,
 
Nurtured Vatslav's soul.
 
As a white lily, Vatslav grew,
 
And adorned himself with innocence.
 
As the king reigned, the people rejoiced,
 
And with their king they honored God.
 
Yet the adversary of man never sleeps or dozes,
 
Laying sinful snares for every soul,
 
And he incited Boleslav against Vatslav.
 
"For what, my brother, do you want my head?''
 
Vatslav asked, but was still beheaded!
 
But the evildoer did not escape God.
 
The soul of St. Vatslav went
 
Before the Most-high God, the Just,
 
The One he had always adored,
 
And with Ludmilla, Vatslav now prays
 
For his people, that they be strengthened in faith.
 
St. Vatslav, beautiful as an angel!
 
REFLECTION

In guiding the dispensation of this world, and especially of His Holy Church, God often makes unexpected moves, and changes the evil destiny of His servants to the good. This occurred many times in the life of St. Chariton. Following cruel tortures, Chariton was thrown into prison and was promised certain death. Then, Emperor Aurelian died unexpectedly, and the new emperor freed the Christian captives. Thus, Chariton escaped death. Then, when he was traveling to Jerusalem, robbers seized him and took him to their cave. They left him there, and went off to rob and plunder, with the intention of killing him when they came back. In this cave there was a wine cask into which a poisonous snake had crawled, drunk of the wine, and vomited its venom into the cask. When the robbers returned, tired and thirsty from the heat, they drank the venomous wine and, one by one, fell dead. And thus, St. Chariton was saved from death by yet another unexpected event. The Lord heaped misfortunes upon His servant, in order that by these misfortunes He would temper and purify him as gold is tempered and purified by fire, and that He might bind him even more securely to Himself. He delivered him from death, because Chariton had yet to establish several monasteries where, by his ascetic example, he would direct many human souls on the path of salvation.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate King Uzziah's turning to evil (II Chronicles 26):

1. How Uzziah became proud and corrupt when, with God's help, he became strong;

2. How he violated the Law, took the censer, and strove to serve in the Temple against the protests of the priests.

HOMILY

on Christ's last prayer for the faithful

Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am (John 17:24).

Behold the recompense of God's laborers! Behold the glorious reward of the followers of Christ! That which the Son of God desires, the Father desires and the Holy Spirit also desires. And that which the Holy Trinity desires, comes to pass. What does the Lord, the Son of God, desire? He desires that His disciples be together with Him in the Heavenly Kingdom-and not only His twelve disciples, but also all those which shall believe on Me through their word (John 17:20). My brethren, we who are baptized and who have received the Faith of the apostles and have kept it, are also numbered among these-but only under the condition that we ourselves do not disown that great treasure by our misdeeds, by apostasy from the Faith, by the impurity of sin, or by blasphemous words and thoughts. The Lord further says: Father I will … that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me (John 17:24). No one should conclude from these words that the Son is less than the Father. For the Lord Himself said to His Father: I have glorified Thee (John 17:4). Do you see the equality of the Father and the Son, and the boundlessness of Their mutual love? I have glorified Thee … and now, O Father, glorify Thou Me (John 17:4, 5). But the fact that Christ's glory did not begin on earth or in time is shown by these words of the Lord Christ: the glory which I had with Thee before the world was (John 17:5). Therefore, this is not an earthly or temporal glory: it is not worldly and human glory, but rather a heavenly, eternal, lasting and inexpressible glory. How does the Son of God want the Father to glorify Him? In such a way that He will show the heavenly and eternal glory to all those who have obeyed His Son, and who have followed after Him, and who have fulfilled His commandments. The man-loving Lord wills that, not only the apostles, but all of us who are called by His name, participate in this glory. Oh what mercy! Oh what love for mankind! Brethren, the dogma of our immortality, eternal life and eternal glory is not of men, but of our Lord and Savior Himself. May bodily cares, slothfulness at prayer, and mutual strife not separate us from this glory of Christ, from eternal life!

O gracious and merciful Lord, forgive us our sins, and grant us Thine Eternal Kingdom.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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