Prologue from Ochrid - April 6 [April 19]
1. St Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople.
Born in Phrygia of devout parents, he was the son of an officer. Once, Eutychius was playing with some other children of his own age, their game being to write their names on a wall and put beside them the rank that they reckoned they would have in life. When Eutychius' turn came, he wrote: 'Eutychius - Patriarch!' He became abbot of a monastery in Amasea at the age of thirty, and ten years later the Metropolitan of Amasea sent him to the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553 as his representative. At the Council, he shone like a bright star among the Church fathers, both for his learning and his devotion. When a quarrel arose about whether heretics could be anathernatised after their deaths or not, he supported his belief that they could by citing III Kings (A.V. I Kings) 13:1-8, and IV Kings (AN. II Kings) 23:16. He became greatly liked by both Emperor Justinian and Patriarch Menas. The Emperor very frequently turned to him for advice, and Menas (at that time very rich) designated him his heir and asked the Emperor to ensure that this happened. And so it came to pass. Eutychius governed the Church in peace for twelve years. But then the devil raised a storm against him. This storm reached the Emperor Justinian himself. The Emperor was deluded and fell into the Monophysite heresy of Aphthartodocetism, which taught the falsehood that the Lord Jesus, before the Resurrection, had a divine and uncorrupting body, not feeling hunger or thirst or pain. Eutychius stood firmly against this heresy, for which the Emperor sent him into exile to his first monastery. There Eutychius lived for twelve years and eight months, being shown to be a great wonder-worker, healing people of various diseases by his prayers and by anointing with holy oil. Justinian repented and died, and his successor, Justin 11, called Eutychius back to the patriarchal throne, on which this saint remained till his death, governing the Church of God in peace. In 582. at the age of seventy, he went to the Kingdom of Christ the Lord; the Lord whom he had served so faithfully and courageously all his life.
2. The 120 Holy Martyrs in Persia.
When the Persian King Sapor plundered the Byzantine lands, he took 120 Christians into slavery. He put pressure on them to deny Christ and worship fire, but in vain. He then threw them into the fire and burned them alive. Among these martyrs were nine virgins, consecrated to God. They all suffered with honour between 344 and 347, and went to the courts of Christ the King.
It is said about an ancient orator that he labored day and night to perfect himself in the art of oratory. Someone said to him: "Demosthenes does not want you to be the chief orator." To which he immediately retorted: "Neither will I allow him to be the only one." If you cannot be a first-class saint like St. Anthony, do not lower your hands and do not say: " Nothing can come of me!" Increase your effort and double your talent. "In my Father's house, there are many dwelling places" said the Lord (St. John 14:2). If you merit to settle in the least of these dwelling places, you will be more glorious and more fortunate than all of the rulers who have ever existed on earth. Everyone, according to his own talent. Neither will you be a St. Anthony nor will St. Anthony, alone, occupy the Kingdom of God.
To contemplate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus:
- How the stone on the tomb did not split, neither was the seal on it broken;
- How the All-powerful and meek Lord did not damage the tomb during His resurrection, as the Virgin's womb was not damaged at the time of His birth.
About the victory over the last enemy
"The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26).
Man's first enemy is the devil, the second is sin and the third is death. The Lord Jesus conquered all three of these enemies of the human race. By His humility, He conquered the proud devil. By His death, He conquered sin and by His resurrection , He conquered death. In conquering all of our enemies, He invites us to be partakers in His glorious victory. Not only that we conquer but that we attach ourselves next to the Victor. Only His power conquers, only His weapons mow down. We are without power and weapons but our enemies are fearful. With Him and along side Him, we are conquering those mightier than ourselves. What is the price that He offers to us for His victory? A meager price, my brethren; for a very paltry price He offers us the most precious victory. To humble ourselves and to submit ourselves to the will of God, that is the price He seeks in order to conquer the devil for us. To die unto ourselves, to die to fleshly desires and passions, that is the price which He seeks in order to conquer for us. To live for Him and not for ourselves, to receive Him into our hearts, that is the price He seeks in order to conquer death for us. He conquered all enemies openly and completely. This is the price for which He offers His victory to each of us. The Apostle Paul speaks: "But thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).
O resurrected Lord, enlighten, strengthen and heal us by Your victory.
We who are grateful, lift up to You glory and thanks always. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK