Prologue of Ohrid

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October 27

1. THE HOLY MARTYR NESTOR

In the time of the suffering of St. Demetrius the Myrrh-gusher, there was a young man of Thessalonica, Nestor, who learned the Christian Faith from St. Demetrius himself. At that time Christ's enemy, Emperor Maximian, organized various games and amusements for the people. The emperor's favorite in these games was a Vandal by the name of Lyaeus, a man of Goliath-like size and strength. As the emperor's gladiator, Lyaeus challenged men every day to single combat and slew them. Thus, the bloodthirsty Lyaeus amused the bloodthirsty, idolatrous Maximian. The emperor built a special stage for Lyaeus's battles, similar to a threshing floor on pillars. Spears, points upward, were planted beneath this platform. When Lyaeus defeated someone in wrestling, he would throw him from the platform onto the forest of spears. The emperor and his pagan subjects cheered as some poor wretch writhed in torment on the spears until he died. Among Lyaeus's innocent victims were many Christians: when no one volunteered to duel with Lyaeus, by the emperor's orders Christians were arrested and forced to duel with him. Seeing this horrifying amusement of the pagan world, Nestor's heart was torn with pain, and he decided to come forward for a duel with the gigantic Lyaeus. But first, he went to prison to see St. Demetrius and sought a blessing from him to do this. St. Demetrius blessed him, signed him with the sign of the Cross on the forehead and on the chest and prophesied to him: "You will defeat Lyaeus, but you will suffer for Christ.'' Thus, young Nestor went to duel with Lyaeus. Maximian was present with a multitude of people; everyone felt pity for the young Nestor, who would surely die, and tried to dissuade him from dueling with Lyaeus. Nestor crossed himself and said: "O God of Demetrius, help me!'' and with God's help, he overcame Lyaeus, knocked him down, and threw him onto the sharp spears, where the heavy giant soon found death. Then all the people cried out: "Great is the God of Demetrius!'' But the emperor, shamed before the people and sorrowing for his favorite Lyaeus, was greatly angered at Nestor and Demetrius, and commanded that Nestor be beheaded and Demetrius run through with lances. Thus, the Christian hero Nestor ended his earthly life and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of his Lord in the year 306.

2. THE VENERABLE NESTOR THE CHRONICLER

At the age of seventeen, Nestor entered the Monastery of the Kiev Caves while St. Theodosius was still abbot. He wrote the first history of the Russian people, in which he intertwined the history of Russian asceticism. He was distinguished by unusual humility and meekness. In his literary work, he often referred to himself as unworthy, coarse, ignorant and full of every kind of sin. But God, Who knows the hearts of men, glorified this wonderful saint of His. When Nestor entered into rest on October 27, 1114, his relics performed many miracles.

3. SAINT ANDREW, PRINCE OF SMOLENSK

Out of love for Christ, Andrew abandoned the glory and honor of the world, hid himself in a monastery and there, disguised and unknown, served as a sacristan for thirty years. He peacefully entered into rest in the Lord in 1390; his miracle-working relics were found in 1540.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY MARTYR NESTOR

St. Nestor was outraged at evil

And was zealous for the Christian Faith.

The young disciple of St. Demetrius

Seemed young and weak against the terrible Lyaeus,

But he traced the sign of the Cross on himself

And impaled the powerful Lyaeus on a spear.

He had been given power from above,

Like David against Goliath.

"You will conquer, but you will be tortured,

And will lay down your life for Christ.''

Thus Demetrius prophesied to him,

And as he said, so it came to pass.

Nestor jubilantly went to torture,

And wonderfully magnified the wondrous Christ

With sweet words and sweet hymns,

And fervent prayers for the Church.

Great in spirit, small in years,

He did not grieve over his young life;

His blood strengthened the Church,

And Nestor was eternally glorified.

REFLECTION

A miracle of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica: That the saints of God live, clothed in great glory and might in the heavens, Orthodox Christians know, not by their own reasoning, but by the true help and visitations of the saints. At times the saints appear so that men may see and hear them; at times, only to be either seen or heard; at times, though unseen and unheard, they influence our thoughts, our dispositions and our actions. Among the many miracles of St. Demetrius in Thessalonica the following is recorded: A young man named Onesiphorus was appointed to the service of sacristan in the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica. His primary task was to keep an account of the candles and lampadas. This young man began to steal candles, take them home, and then resell them. St. Demetrius appeared to him and said: "Brother Onesiphorus, your action is not pleasing to me, for you are stealing candles. By this, you bring harm to others and especially to yourself. Cease doing this and repent!'' Onesiphorus was frightened and ashamed and, for a time, stopped stealing candles. But he eventually forgot himself, and again began to steal candles. One morning, a distinguished man brought some large candles to the tomb of the saint, lit them, prayed and left. Onesiphorus approached the candles and stretched forth his hand with the intention of taking them, but at that moment a voice like thunder roared: "Are you doing that again?!'' As though struck by lightning, Onesiphorus fell to the ground, unconscious. When someone came into the church he found him and lifted him up off the floor; he gradually came to himself and related all that had happened. Everyone was astonished, and glorified God.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate Peter's wondrous journey with the angel of God (Acts 12):

1. How the angel led Peter out of prison and brought him to the city;

2. How they invisibly passed by the first and second guards;

3. How the locked gates of the city opened to them of their own accord.

HOMILY

on zeal for the house of God

For the zeal of Thy house has eaten me up and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me (Psalm 69:9).

The heavens are the house of God. The Church of God is the house of God. The bodies of believing people are the house of God. Wherever God is, there is the house of God; and where the house of God is, there is holiness. Men dishonor the holiness of God's house, and the royal prophet is provoked and burns with zeal. He takes upon himself all the offenses against the holy things of God, and they fall upon him like a fire that enkindles him with even more zeal. Men desecrate the heavens when they do not believe that which God Himself revealed to mankind for the sake of their salvation. When men oppose or pervert the truth, as do the heretics, or when, of their own free will, they conceive of Christ according to their corporeal understanding, or when they have doubts about angels and saints, the Judgment, and the Eternal Kingdom of Christ, and refuse to consider the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners-in all this and more, men attack the house of God and desecrate its holiness like savage animals. This causes zeal against the opponents and the blasphemers of God to rise in the hearts of the righteous. In the same manner, men attack the house of God's holiness when they behave unworthily toward the Church of God, when they are negligent concerning the Church's ordinances, when they are slothful toward ecclesiastical commandments and malicious toward the servants of the Church. Again, zeal for the holiness of the house of God is inflamed in the hearts of the righteous and the devout. Finally, the corrupting of the human body, the surrendering to passions, the service of sin, abduction, murder, brutality, drunkenness and other wicked actions, are all attacks on the holiness of God's house. It is all blasphemy against God and against man. Again, the fervor of the zealots of holiness rises up and shines as a heavenly flame before men. O my brethren, let us look at Christ's zeal for the holiness of God's house, and the zeal of the apostles and the Holy Fathers of our Orthodox Church. Let us have more zeal for our salvation than the devil has, day and night, for our destruction.

O Lord Jesus Christ, the Model of our zeal for holiness, grant us a spark of Thy zeal that we may be like Thee in zeal, and be saved by Thee.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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