Prologue from Ochrid - January 29 [February 11]
The Holy Priestly-Martyr Ignatius The God-Bearer, [Theophorus]
The principal feast of St. Ignatius is celebrated in winter on December 20. On this date is commemorated the translation of his relics from Rome, where he suffered martyrdom, to Antioch where earlier he was a bishop. When St. Ignatius was summoned to Rome before Emperor Trajan to account for his faith, he was accompanied on this long journey by several citizens from Antioch who were motivated in this by a great love toward their wonderful Arch-shepherd. Since he would never deny his faith in Christ, this saint of God who abhorred all adulation and promises of Emperor Trajan, was condemned to death and was thrown into the Circus Maximus before wild beasts. The wild beasts tore him apart, and he gave up his soul to God. His companions then gathered his exposed bones and took them to Antioch and honorably buried them. But when the Persians captured Antioch in the sixth century, the relics of St. Ignatius were again translated from Antioch to Rome.
The Holy Martyrs Romanus, James, Philotheus, Hyperechius, Abibus, Julian And Paragorius
They all suffered martyrdom for the Lord Jesus Christ in Samosata during the reign of Emperor Maximilian in the year 297 A.D. Philotheus and Hyperechius were aristocrats and the others were young men of noble birth. The pagans inflicted a terrible death upon them, hammering nails into the heads of each of them,. They suffered martyrdom honorably and entered into eternal joy.
Venerable Lawrence Of The Caves In Kiev
Lawrence voluntarily chose the life of a recluse following the examples of earlier recluses Isaac and Nicetas. However, he guarded against diabolical temptations which, in the beginning, befell the other two. With great restraint, prayer and godly-thoughts, Lawrence attained a high state of perfection. He learned from a terrified demon that of one-hundred eighteen monks in the Monastery of the Caves, thirty of them were given by God the authority over evil spirits. Lawrence presented himself to the Lord in the year 1194 A.D.
The more a man advances in spiritual knowledge and in purification of the heart, the more it appears to him that the depth in which he finds himself is even lower and that the height to which he strives is even higher. When one spiritual giant on his death bed heard that his companions were praising him because of his great asceticism, he began to weep and said, "My children, I have not even begun my spiritual life." When St. Ignatius, that God-bearer, lay chained in the dungeon, he wrote to the Ephesians: "I do not command you as though I stand for something. Even though I am in chains for the Name of Jesus Christ; nevertheless, I still have not perfected myself in Him. Now I am beginning to be His disciple, and I speak to you as a collegium of my teachers."
To contemplate the Lord Jesus on the simplicity of His behavior:
- How He behaved simply with fishermen as well as with the scribes and princes;
- How He responds to everyone and enters into the home of everyone who invites Him;
- How His royal dignity clearly radiates through all the simplicity of His behavior.
About perfection through the fulfilling of the will of God
"Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of the One Who sent Me and to finish His work' " (St. John 4:34).
Here is a saving example given to us by our Savior! He Who had such power, authority and wisdom says that He came into the world, not to do His will but the will of the Father and not to do His work but the work of His Father; but we, even though we are as weak as a cobweb, continuously emphasize our will and some, our work! Although the Son is equal to the Father as He says in another place: "The Father and I are one" (St. John 10:30); nevertheless, the Lord Jesus says that He came into the world to do His Father's will and to accomplish His Father's will. He is saying this not in order show the smallness of His being before the Father's being, for their being is one, but rather to show the greatness of His love toward the Father, and in order to motivate us, out of love toward God, to totally adopt His will.
All of our misery in this life comes from the fact that we do not implement the will of Him Who sent us into this world. And we do not implement His will because we do not have love toward Him. For, whoever loves someone, he does so according to his will. The Lord Himself said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (St. John 14:15). By what could the Lord be able to proclaim His love toward the Father, if not by fulfilling the will of the Father? And, by what means can we proclaim our love toward the Lord Jesus crucified for us on the Cross, if not by fulfilling His will?
Our will, O my brethren, is as deceitful as a shadow. Let us not follow it so that we do not perish. But let us follow the will of the Lover of Mankind, the Lord, Who alone knows what is best for us.
O Humble and Man-loving Lord, teach us to do Your will.
To You be glory and thanks always, Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK