Prologue from Ochrid - August 17 [August 30]
1. The Holy Martyr Myron the Priest.
He was a priest in Achaia, of rich and eminent parents, by nature kind and meek, and loving towards God and man. In the time of the Emperor Decius, on the Feast of the Nativity itself, pagans rushed into the church, dragged Myron away from the service and put him to torture. While he was being tortured by fire, an angel appeared to him and strengthened him. They then cut off his skin in strips from head to foot. The martyr took one of these strips and, with it, struck the torturer on the face. The torturer, as though possessed, took a sword and killed himself. Myron was finally taken to the town of Cyzicus and there killed with the sword, in 250.
2. The Holy Martyr Patroclus.
A citizen of the city of Trychasia, the present-day Troyes in Gaul, he inherited great wealth from his parents and, as a true Christian, used it for daily alms to the poor. He himself lived as an ascetic, taking food only once a day after sunset. For his holiness of life, the Lord gave him healing power, and he became known everywhere as a wonderworking healer. The Emperor Aurelian, coming to Gaul, commanded that Patroclus be brought before him. Holy Patroclus confessed his faith in Christ, concealing nothing. 'If, O King, you desire some of my goods, I will give them to you, for I can see your wretchedness', St Patroclus said to the Emperor. To this, the Emperor replied: 'How do you call me, the Emperor, wretched, having immeasurable wealth?' St Patroclus said: 'You have earthly, transitory riches, but you are wretched, for you are not only not in possession of yourself; you have no faith in Christ in your heart.' He was condemned to death and handed over to the soldiers, with orders that he be taken to a swampy spot and beheaded, his body being left in the mud. But the saint prayed to God that his body should not be left thus in the mud, and, by God's power, he suddenly became invisible to the soldiers and taken across to the other side of the river. After seeking him at some length, the soldiers found him and beheaded him in that dry place. Two beggars, to whom Patroclus had often given alms, came along this way and, recognising the body of their benefactor, buried it. He died at the end of the third century.
3. Our Holy Father Elias of Calabria.
A Greek by birth, he was superior of the monastery of Mellicia in southern Italy. At the time of the iconoclast controversy in the East, many eastern monks fled with their icons to Calabria. In time, the monastic life spread very widely there. The Calabrian monks were distinguished for their learning and the strictness of their lives. At one time, there were so many Orthodox monasteries and monks there that Calabria was likened to Egypt in former times. Orthodox Calabria was later put under the administration of the Archbishop of Ochrid. Our holy father Elias entered into rest in Salonica in the year 903.
4. Our Holy Father Olympius the Iconographer of the Kiev Caves.
Making copies of the faces of the saints on wood, he copied their virtues in his own soul. He healed a man of leprosy, saw an angel of God and died peacefully in the Lord in old age, in 1114.
The Lord does not allow His faithful servants to be shamed. It often happened that the martyrs of Christ, ridiculed and mocked before the courts, unexpectedly performed a miracle, which instilled fear in the unbelievers. Either the idols fell or thunder destroyed the temples of the heathen or an unexpected downpour of rain extinguished the fire prepared for their burning or the torturers beat themselves with stones and rods and so forth. Thus, Antipater, the torturer of St. Myron, during the suffering of this man of God suddenly went insane and killed himself. St. Olympius, the icongrapher, was already at the end of his life when he received an order from a man to paint [write] the icon of the Dormition [the Falling Asleep The Assumption] of the Most-holy Theotokos. As the feast was approaching, this man came several times to see whether the icon was completed. But the icon was not even begun, not even on the eve of the Feast of the Dormition itself when the icon was supposed to have been placed in the church. When this man returned home completely saddened, at once there appeared a young man in Olympius' cell who immediately sat down and began to write the icon. He worked very quickly and very expertly. When the icon was completed, it shone like the sun. Showing the icon to the astonished Olympius, the young man took the icon and brought it to the church for which it had been ordered. The next day, that man who had ordered the icon went to the church and, to his great surprise, saw the icon in its place. Then that man came to the monastery and, with the abbot, entered Olympius' cell. "How and who wrote the icon of this man?" asked the abbot. The ailing Olympius replied: "An angel wrote it, and he is now standing here to take me away." And with that, he gave up the spirit.
To contemplate the punishment of God upon Saul because of his disobedience (1 Samuel 15 1 Kings 15):
- How God commanded Saul not to spare the Amalekites nor to take any of their livestock;
- How Saul spared Agag, the Amalekite King, and allowed the best of the enemies livestock to be taken;
- How Samuel informed Saul that God rejected him because of his disobedience and because of his arbitrary offering of the sacrifice to God without a priest.
About the Spirit-bearing divine Child
"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2).
The Holy Spirit of God does not separate from the Father nor does it separate from the Son either, nor does the Father separate from the Son and the Spirit, nor does the Son separate from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit prophesied about the Son through the prophets, the Holy Spirit overshadowed the All-holy Virgin and prepared her for the birth of the Son of God, the Holy Spirit inseparably stood over the Son during the entire time of His visit to the world in the body. The Spirit of Wisdom the Spirit is the vision of heavenly mysteries; The Spirit of Understanding the Spirit is the comprehending of the ties of the visible and invisible world; The Spirit of Counsel the Spirit is the separation of good from evil; The Spirit of Power [Might] the Spirit is the authority over created nature; The Spirit of Knowledge the Spirit is the knowledge of the essence of created beings; The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord the Spirit is the recognizing of the divine power over both worlds and submission to the will of God. Whoever among men had unto himself this fullness of riches of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? No one, ever. Only the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts and gives them to men, some to this one and some to another. But, the whole of the undivided fullness of His gifts shines in the Son of God.
Why did the Lord Jesus need to have the fear of God when He Himself is God? As God, He did not have the fear of God but as a man had the fear of God for the sake of an example to us. Just as He fasted, watched and labored as a man for the sake of teaching men, so He feared God as a man for the sake of teaching men. What is more curable for men infected with sin than the fear of God? He, as one Who was healthy had to take unto Himself the medicine for sin so that He could encourage us who are sick to take those medicines. Does not a parent do the same thing with sick children who are afraid to take the prescribed medicine?
O Triune and Eternal God before Whom all the heavenly hosts bow down singing the wondrous hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth receive our worship also and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK