Prologue of Ohrid

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October 2

1. SAINT ANDREW THE FOOL-FOR-CHRIST

Andrew was a Slav by birth. As a young man, he was enslaved; and was bought by Theognostus, a wealthy man in Constantinople, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian). Andrew was handsome in body and soul. Theognostus took a liking to Andrew, and allowed him to become literate. Andrew fervently prayed to God, and with love attended church services. Obeying a heavenly revelation, he adopted the ascesis of foolishness for Christ. Once, when he went to the well for water, he tore off his clothes, and slashed them with a knife, feigning insanity. Saddened by this, his master Theognostus bound him in chains and brought him to the Church of St. Anastasia the Deliverer from Bonds, so that prayers would be read for him. But Andrew did not improve, and his master freed him as mentally ill. Andrew pretended insanity by day, but prayed to God all night long. He lived without shelter of any kind. He even spent the nights outside, walked around half-naked in a single tattered garment, and ate only a little bread when good men would give it to him. He shared all that he received with the beggars, and would mock them-to avoid being thanked by them-for holy Andrew wanted all his reward to come from God. Therefore, the great grace of God entered into him and he was able to discern the secrets of men, perceive angels and demons, exorcize demons from men, and correct men from their sins. Andrew had a most beautiful vision of Paradise and the exalted powers of heaven. He also saw the Lord Christ on His throne of glory; and he, with his disciple Epiphanius, saw the Most-holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae as she covered the Christian people with her omophorion. This occurence is celebrated as the Feast of the Protection of the Most-holy Theotokos (October1). In a vision he also heard ineffable, heavenly words that he dared not repeat to men. After a life of almost unparalleled harshness of ascesis, Andrew entered into rest in the eternal glory of his Lord in 911.

2. THE HIEROMARTYR CYPRIAN AND JUSTINA THE VIRGIN

Cyprian moved from Carthage to Antioch, where Justina lived with her parents, Edesius and Cleodonia. Edesius was a pagan priest, and his entire household was pagan. But when Justina visited a Christian church and learned the true Faith, she converted both her father and mother to the Christian Faith. All three received baptism by Optatus the bishop. Cyprian, however, was a magician, who consorted with impure spirits and practiced sorcery. A certain dissolute pagan youth named Aglaidas was willing to pay any price to charm Justina, for she was beautiful. The holy virgin Justina rejected him adamantly, and he sought help from Cyprian. Cyprian invoked one evil spirit after another, to inflame Justina with impure passion for Aglaidas, but did not succeed. By the sign of the Cross and prayer to God, she drove the evil spirits away. After this futile effort, Cyprian recognized the power of the Cross and was baptized. Eventually, he was made a presbyter, then a bishop. Embittered pagans denounced him and Justina; both were tried in Damascus, tortured, and then beheaded in Nicomedia. They entered into rest at the end of the third century.

3. THE HOLY MARTYRS DAVID AND CONSTANTINE

David and Constantine were Christian princes from Argveti (Georgia). They were condemned to death by Caliph Emil-el Mumenim, and were drowned in a river in Imereti in the year 730. Before their death, they prayed to God that He forgive the sins of all who would invoke them in prayer for help. After their prayers were completed, lightning struck, and a voice from heaven said that their prayers had been heard. The saints' relics repose at the Monastery of Motsameta in Georgia. 

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT ANDREW THE FOOL-FOR-CHRIST

Fool-for-Christ Andrew stood at night

Under the starry firmament, praying:

"O Most-high God, three Persons in one Essence,

Salvation and Revival of souls that slumber!

O sweet Jesus, sweeter than life,

Treasury of joy and eternal beauty,

Cleanse the shepherds, enlighten the kings,

Console the troubled and sanctify the whole world.

Do not separate even me, the sinner, Andrew the Fool-for-Christ,

From Thy holy people, O Lord!''

O Saint Andrew, full of God's wisdom,

You who taught the world by words of foolishness-

With the language of the world you spoke to the world,

And by feigned foolishness you glorified Christ.

Men despised you for your foolishness,

And their dogs rose up from their lairs and chased you!

You were God's altar on the rubbish heap of the world.

You censed the world with your prayers-

And the world is not worthy of this marvel.

Glory to you, Andrew, holy Fool-for-Christ!''

REFLECTION

A vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: A monk in Constantinople was distinguished as an ascetic and spiritual father, and many people came to him for prayers. But this monk had the secret vice of avarice. He collected money and gave it to no one. St. Andrew met him on the street one day, and saw a terrible snake coiled around his neck. St. Andrew took pity on him, approached him, and began to counsel him: "Brother, why have you lost your soul? Why have you bound yourself with the demon of avarice? Why have you given him a resting place within yourself? Why are you amassing gold as though it will go to the grave with you, and not into the hands of others? Why are you strangling yourself by stinginess? While others hunger and thirst and perish from cold, you rejoice looking at your heap of gold! Is this the path of repentance? Is this the monastic rank? Do you see your demon?'' At that, the spiritual eyes of the monk were opened, and he saw the dark demon and was greatly horrified. The demon dropped away from the monk and fled, driven by Andrew's power. Then a most radiant angel of God appeared to the monk, for his heart was changed for the good. Immediately, he went about distributing his hoarded gold to the poor and needy. From then on, he pleased God in everything and was more greatly glorified than before.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the righteousness of Hezekiah, and God's reward to him (II Chronicles 30, 31):

1. How Hezekiah did that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God (II Chronicles 31:20); 

2. How he restored holiness to the Temple of the Lord, and rooted out idols and idol-worshiping among the people;

3. How God had mercy on him, and he was prosperous in everything.

HOMILY

on the will of the righteous in the will of God

But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on His Law doth he mediate day and night (Psalm 1:2).

Brethren, blessed is that man-thrice blessed is he-whose will is submitted to the will of God; whose mind thinks of nothing contrary to the counsel of God; and whose heart desires nothing contrary to the will of God. The mind is the rudder of both the will and the heart. If the mind is permanently directed toward God, then it will eagerly meditate day and night on the Law of God, and will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1) but will seek the truth and the revelation of all that is in God's Law. If the mind is so directed to God, then, swiftly, the heart and will of man will also be directed toward God. Then the will, as the implementing organ of the inner man, will carry out only what is in accordance with the will of God and what is written in the Law of God. Then man will not stand in the way of the sinners (Psalm 1:1), and will not sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1); he will not commit sin, nor will he draw other men to sin. At the beginning of this Psalm, the Prophet David praises the man who does not commit three specific evils, and now he continues to praise him when he does two good things. The three evils are: to seek wisdom of a sinner, to live the life of a sinner and to corrupt others by one's evil example. The two good things are: to conform one's will completely to the Law of God; and to direct one's mind to meditate day and night on God's Law.

O my brethren, how lamentably shallow are the minds of all those who do not know the Law of God! The depth of man's mind is measured by the depth of his knowledge of God's law. The mind of him who meditates on the mysteries of God's law is deep, wide and exalted; and the mind is the rudder of the heart and will. O my brethren, how shallow, unstable and dissolute is the will of him who does not subordinate his will to the will of God! Indeed, it is lamentably shallow, unstable and dissolute. What is the Law of God, brethren? It is the expression of God's will. Where is that expression to be found? In Holy Scripture and in the Tradition of the saints of the Church of God. Blessed is he who knows the will of God and fulfills it.

O Lord God, great and powerful, merciful and just; enlighten our minds by Thy holy law, so that we may conform our wills to Thy man-loving and saving will.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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