Prologue of Ohrid

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October 15

1. THE VENERABLE MARTYR LUCIAN, PRESBYTER OF ANTIOCH

Lucian was born of noble parents in the Syrian city of Samosata. In his youth, he acquired a very broad education, both secular and spiritual. He was a man distinguished in learning, as well as in the austerity of his ascetic life. Having distributed his goods to the poor, Lucian supported himself by compiling instructive works, and thus fed himself by the work of his hands. He performed a great service to the Church in that he corrected many Hebrew texts in Holy Scripture (that heretics, in accordance with their own false teaching, had distorted). Because of his learning and spirituality, he was ordained a presbyter in Antioch. During Maximian's persecution, when St. Anthimus of Nicomedia and St. Peter of Alexandria were tortured, St. Lucian was on the list of those the emperor wanted to kill. Lucian fled the city and hid, but an envious heretical priest, Pancratius, reported him. The persecution was horrible and not even young children were spared. Two boys who did not want to eat food sacrificed to idols were thrown into a boiling bath, where in torments they gave up their holy souls to God. A disciple of Lucian named Pelagia (October 8) preserved her virginal purity from dissolute attackers by praying to God on her roof-top: she gave up her soul to Him, and her body fell from the roof. Lucian was brought to Nicomedia before the emperor. Along the way, his counsels converted forty soldiers to the Christian Faith, and all died a martyr's death. Following interrogation and flogging, St. Lucian was cast into prison where he suffered starvation. St. John Chrysostom writes of St. Lucian: "He scorned hunger: let us also scorn luxury and destroy the power of the stomach that we may, when the time that requires such courage comes for us, be prepared in advance by the help of a lesser ascesis, to show ourselves glorious at the time of battle.'' He received Holy Communion in prison on the Feast of Theophany, and on the following day rendered his soul to God. St. Lucian suffered on January 7, 311.

2. THE VENERABLE EUTHYMIUS THE NEW

Euthymius was born in Ancyra in 824 of righteous parents, Epiphanius and Anna. He served in the army, married and had one daughter, Anastasia. He lived a strict and long ascetic life in monasteries on Mount Olympus and Mount Athos. For a time he also lived as a stylite near Thessalonica. He founded a monastery for men and a convent for women, near Thessalonica. He entered into rest on an island near the Holy Mountain toward the end of the ninth century. His holy and miracle-working relics repose in Thessalonica.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE VENERABLE MARTYR LUCIAN

Lucian the most wise ascetic and scribe

Boldly walked on the path of Christ.

Against heretics and idolatrous darkness

Lucian the victor waged a bitter struggle.

Planted firmly on the foundation of the Most-holy Trinity-

The Father without beginning, with the Spirit and the Son-

Lucian glorified God in word and deed,

And he confirmed this by his innocent blood.

Savage Rome collapsed, the heresies died;

Works immoral and shameful perished;

The Church raised martyrs up to heaven;

And the Church, great and glorious, outlived all.

This is the Kingdom of saints, the Kingdom without end

That Daniel foretold and Christ founded-

O desired Kingdom, of earthly origin,

With golden domes atop the heavenly roofs!

And holy Lucian, a builder of that Kingdom,

Labored much, and gave all for it.

He now gloriously reigns beside his Jesus,

Borne by God to the angelic flock. 

REFLECTION

The saints of God place great importance on receiving Holy Communion before their death. Even though they were sacrificing their lives for Christ the Lord and washing away all their sins by the blood of martyrdom, the martyrs longingly received the Holy Mysteries whenever it was possible. St. Lucian was in prison with several of his disciples and other Christians. On the eve of Theophany, Lucian longed, on such a great Christian feast, to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, for he knew that his death was imminent. Seeing the sincere desire of His sufferer, God Almighty arranged that some Christians pass bread and wine into the prison. When the Feast of Theophany dawned, Lucian called all the Christian prisoners to stand in a circle around him and said to them: "Surround me and be the Church.'' He had no table, chair, stone or wood in the prison upon which to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. "Holy Father, where shall we place the bread and wine?'' they asked Lucian. He lay down in their midst and said: "Place them on my chest, let it be a living altar for the Living God!'' And thus the Liturgy was celebrated correctly and prayerfully on the chest of the martyr, and all received Holy Communion. The next day, the emperor sent soldiers to bring Lucian out for torture. When the soldiers opened the door of the prison, St. Lucian cried out three times: "I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Christian!'' and with that, he gave up his soul to his God.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous freeing of the apostles from prison (Acts 5):

1. How the elders of the Jews cast the apostles into prison;

2. How an angel of God appeared at night, opened the prison, led the apostles out and ordered them to enter the temple and preach the Gospel.

HOMILY
on how the Lord watches over the bones of the righteous

He watches over all his bones; not one of them shall be broken (Psalm 34:20).

Let not the righteous be afraid. The All-seeing God watches over them. Can the All-seeing lose or forget something? On the Day of Resurrection, He shall gather all their bodily parts and gloriously resurrect them. The persecutors hurled the bodies of the martyrs into the sea, buried them in deep pits, or left them in fields for the birds to devour. But the Lord, by His divine providence, so guided events that these holy relics came into the hands of the faithful. They were laid honorably in costly reliquaries, churches were built over them, and wonderworking power emanated from them. God wanted to show the faithful by this that He watches over the bones of the righteous, and that He has glorified them in the Heavenly Kingdom. And the Church on earth has affirmed this through the miraculous power of their glorified bodies. Wonderworking relics are like forerunners of the general and glorious resurrection of the righteous. But what if some of the bones of the righteous are burned or ground up-could that be an obstacle to the almighty power of God? Can He not, in the Day of Resurrection, reassemble and enliven them from the scattered ashes? There shall not an hair of your head perish (Luke 21:18), assures the Lord. Nevertheless, if you want to understand "bones'' as "works,'' know then that the works of the unrighteous are as smoke, and the works of the righteous are powerful and as lasting as hard bones. Not even one righteous deed will fade away or disappear in the course of time. God knows them and God watches over them, so that He may reveal them like precious pearls before the assembly of angels and men on that Day.

O All-seeing Lord, Master and Protector of the righteous, multiply our righteous deeds by Thy Holy Spirit, without whom nothing good can be done; and save us by Thy mercy, not according to our deeds. 

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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