Prologue of Ohrid

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October 5

1. THE HOLY MARTYR CHARITINA

Having been orphaned in infancy, Charitina was adopted by an eminent Christian man named Claudius, who raised her as his own daughter. Charitina was meek, humble, obedient and quiet. She studied the Law of God day and night, and vowed to live her life in chastity, as a true bride of Christ. Since Charitina also brought others to the Christian Faith, Dometius, Emperor Diocletian's eparch, heard of her, sent soldiers to take her from her foster father, and brought her to trial. The judge questioned her: "Is it true, young maiden, that you are a Christian, and that you deceive others, leading them to this profane Faith?'' Charitina courageously replied: "It is true that I am a Christian, but it is a lie that I deceive others; rather, I lead those in error to the true path, by leading them to my Christ.'' The evil judge condemned her. Her hair was shorn and hot coals were poured onto her head. Even so, she was saved by the power of God. They threw her into the sea, but God delivered her again. They tied her to a wheel and began to turn it, but an angel of God stopped the wheel, and Charitina remained unharmed. Then the depraved judge sent some dissolute young men to defile her. Fearing this dishonor, St. Charitina prayed to God to receive her soul before those degenerates could defile her virginal body. While she knelt, praying to God, her soul departed from her and was translated to the Immortal Kingdom of Christ.

2. THE HIEROMARTYR DIONYSIUS, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA

Dionysius was born in Alexandria of eminent pagan parents. He was educated in Greek philosophy, and then studied with Origen. As a young man, he read the epistles of the Apostle Paul, came to believe in Christ and was baptized by Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria. In the year 247, Dionysius became Bishop of Alexandria, and served God and God's people as a true shepherd under very difficult circumstances. Externally, the Church was persecuted by pagans, while from within it was rent by heretics. In addition, a plague decimated the population for several years. Dionysius lived, hidden by the faithful, outside Alexandria for three years so as not to be slain before his time. During those three years, he wrote many epistles and other compositions to his flock, instructing and encouraging them to uphold Orthodoxy. Among his writings are several canons that the Church adopted. His epistle against Novatian is also considered a canonical writing. He governed the Church for seventeen years, and reposed in the year 265.

3. THE VENERABLE EUDOCIMUS OF VATOPEDI

In the year 1841, when the ossuary at Vatopedi was being restored, the workmen found the relics of a man in a kneeling posture. He had an icon of the Most-holy Theotokos in his hands, resting on his bosom. A wondrous fragrance exuded from these relics. Not knowing who this holy man was or when he lived, the monks gave him the name Eudocimus, and transferred his relics into the church, where they remain today. Many miracles of healing have occurred over these relics. Even now, one can read these words, carved on his silver coffin: "This coffin was made for the honorable head of St. Eudocimus by the monk Gabriel, whom this saint healed from a grave illness.''

4. THE VENERABLE DAMIAN, JEREMIAH AND MATTHEW

They were clairvoyants and miracle-workers of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. They all lived in the eleventh century. 

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY MARTYR CHARITINA

Tortured Charitina, covered with blood,

Prayed on her knees to the Most-high God:

"O Most High, All Merciful-my Creator-

Among Thy martyrs, number me also!

Sweet Christ, Thou didst suffer on the Cross for me,

And now for Thee I desire to suffer.

Be near to Thy virgin, O Savior,

And protect me, lest the evil ones defile me.

Better that they burn my body with cruel fire,

Better that they drown it in the azure sea,

Than that they profane it by a shameful deed,

Before the heavenly angels and the righteous saints.''

The Lord did according to Charitina's prayer,

And immediately received her soul into Paradise. 

REFLECTION

Whenever men exert great effort in seeking the truth, and prefer nothing else to the truth, God comes to meet them in His gentle way. This is shown to us in the life of St. Dionysius of Alexandria. Even as a young man and a pagan, Dionysius read all the Greek literature, seeking the truth. When he was not satisfied with this, he read everything that came into his hands. And, in accord with God's providence, he met a poor woman who offered to sell him several hand-copied epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul. Dionysius gladly purchased and read them. They so overcame him that he sought out this woman and asked her if there were more such writings to be had. The woman directed him to a Christian priest who gave him all of Paul's epistles. Having read all carefully, Dionysius came to believe in Christ, and was baptized without any hesitation. 

Here is another incident: In the town of Arsinoe, the Millenarian heresy had spread. This heresy taught that Christ would soon come, and He would establish an earthly kingdom on earth for a thousand years. At the head of this heresy was a certain Korakion. St. Dionysius went to Arsinoe to change the minds of the millenarians and to prevent the spread of this heresy. At a large gathering of millenarians and true Orthodox, Dionysius debated with Korakion and other leaders of the millenarians. This debate lasted for three whole days. (Such zeal did the ancient Christians show in the examination of the truth!) God blessed their labor and zeal, through the prayers of St. Dionysius. At the end of the debate, Korakion and all the other millenarians rejected their false teaching and accepted the Orthodox teaching of St. Dionysius. 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the repentance of King Manasseh and God's forgiveness of him (II Chronicles 33):

1. How Manasseh, living as a slave in a foreign land, recognized his sin, repented, and prayed to God for forgiveness;

2. How God forgave him, and freed him from bondage;

3. How, after that, Manasseh did that which is good in the sight of the Lord unto the day of his death, and reigned peacefully.

HOMILY

on the good that is shown

There be many who say, Who will show us any good? (Psalm 4:6).

My brethren, great is God's goodness. What words can express that goodness? Great is the goodness of the Heavenly Kingdom with its fiery angels, wonderful saints, and the sweetness of Paradise. Who can describe this goodness? Immortal life, close to God and the angels of God, in the company of the saints and the righteous, is a great good. Another great good will be our meeting with our kinsmen and friends in the heavenly world; with our parents, our children, and our most beloved ones, who by their departure left us in sadness and grief. Who will show us all that good? Many asked this in King David's time, and many ask even today. Who will show it to us, so that we may believe and hope?

That good is shown to us Christians, and we wait for nothing higher, for no one but the Lord Christ-the true Witness to all this good, the true Witness and Lord, brethren, of all this good. The compassionate Lord showed this good to His chosen prophets even before His coming to earth. That is why David says to God: Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us (Psalms 4:6).

This is the reply to those who ask: Who will show us any good? God Himself showed us that good. The light of the Lord's countenance is marked upon us, inscribed and etched in our hearts, and in that light we recognize that good which only heaven can give. Brethren, is there a cure for those who have heard about the coming of Christ on earth, but nevertheless asked: Who will show us any good? If Christ had not shown and revealed all that is good by His glorious birth, His glorious miracles, His glorious Resurrection, and His Holy Church, the dark earth would not show it, for it cannot; men would not show it, for they do not know. However, there is a cure for everyone-even for the most incorrigible unbelievers-up to the moment of death. This cure is in repentance of one's evil, in the cleansing of one's heart, and in the fulfilling of Christ's commandments. The healthy can see the light of the countenance of the Lord; but not the sick in soul, the impure in heart or the wrong-minded.

O our Lord God, light of angels and men; help us that we not darken the light that Thou hast given us-and by which we see the heavenly good-by the darkness of our sin. Do not deprive us of these good things, O Most-merciful One. 

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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