Prologue from Ochrid - February 1 [February 14]
The Holy Martyr Tryphon.
Born in the village of Lampsacus in Phrygia of poor parents, he kept geese as a child. He also had from childhood great grace from God, healing both people and animals and driving out evil spirits. At that time the Emperor Gordian (238-44) came to the throne in Rome. He had a mad daughter, the source of great distress to her father. Doctors could do nothing to help her. But the evil spirit in the girl broke silence and said that no-one but Tryphon could cast it out. After many other Tryphons in the Empire had failed, this young Tryphon was sent for, by the providence of God. He was taken to Rome, where he healed the Emperor's daughter. The Emperor heaped gifts on him, which Tryphon gave away to the poor before returning home. This holy youth remained in his village. tending the geese and praying to God.
When Decius, who was violently opposed to the Christian faith, became Emperor, Tryphon was interrogated and cruelly tortured for Christ. But he endured all his sufferings with great joy, saying: 'Oh, when shall I become worthy, through fire and torture, to make an end for the Name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and God?' No torture was able to harm him, and the torturers finally condemned him to be beheaded. At the moment of his death, Tryphon commended his soul to his Creator, in the year 250.
The Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicitas and Satyrus, and others with them.
They were all thrown into prison for their Christian faith in the time of the Emperor Septimus Severus. St Perpetua was of a noble family, and she encouraged all the other captives in the prison to be fearless in their suffering for Christ. Perpetua saw in a dream a ladder stretching from earth to heaven, all thickly set with sharp knives, swords, stakes, hooks, nails and other deadly implements. A terrible serpent lay at its foot. She saw Satyrus run first up the ladder to the top without injury, and call thence to her: 'Perpetua! I'm waiting for you. Come on, but mind the serpent!' Encouraged by this, Perpetua stood on the serpent's head, as if on the first rung, then in her turn hastened to the top. When she reached it, she saw the beautiful court of heaven and rejoiced with great joy. When she recounted her dream to the other captives, they all interpreted it as meaning that death would soon come to them, and to Satyrus the first - which quickly came about. Satyrus was killed first, then Perpetua, then the rest in order. As lambs butchered for Christ the Lamb of God, they received from Christ the eternal reward in the Kingdom of light. They all suffered for Christ between 202 and 203.
Our Holy Father Peter of Galateia.
He left his parents' home for the sake of Christ at the age of seven, and hid himself in the desert. There he became so perfect through fasting and prayer that he was able to perform many miracles by the power of the Spirit of God. He entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ in about 429 at the age of 99.
The Prayer of Saint Tryphon before his death: "O Lord, God of gods and King of kings, the most holy of all holies, I thank You that You made me worthy to complete my mortification without faltering. And now, I pray to You that the hand of the invisible demon does not touch me; that the demon not drag me into the abyss of destruction. Rather, let Your holy angels lead me into Your beautiful dwelling place and make me an heir of Your desired kingdom. Receive my soul and harken to the prayer of all those who would offer sacrifices to You in my remembrance. Gaze upon them from Your holy dwelling place and grant them abundant and incorruptible gifts. For You are the only good and merciful Gift-giver unto the ages of ages. Amen." Since Tryphon suffered in Nicaea and since many miracles occurred over his lifeless body, the citizens of Nicaea wanted to bury Tryphon in their cemetery. But, the saint appeared in a vision and expressed his desire that he be translated to his village of Lampsacus where he once tended geese and to be buried there.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the fresh and healthy air of the soul:
- As the fresh and healthy air by which the soul breathes and is saved from corruption;
- As the fresh and healthy air which the prophets, apostles and saints inhaled and were healthy in soul;
- As the fresh and healthy air of my soul which drives out the stench of sin in me and makes me fresh and healthy in soul.
About the Word of God which purifies as a fire
"You are already clean through the word which I have spoken to you" (St. John 15:3).
By His word the Lord created the world; by His word He renewed the world; by His word He forgave sins; by His word He healed diseases; by His word He drove out evil spirits; by His word He calmed the storms and the winds. By His holy word He cleanses men, even now, that they, cleansed, may bring forth-abundant fruit. As are the vines, when they are pruned and cleansed, the word of the Lord is powerful for it comes forth from the All-powerful. "By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made" (Psalm (32)33:6). The word of the Lord is as bright as the sun but, when necessary, it is as fiery as the sun and then burns out everything that goes against the Lord. The word of the Lord is as sweet as honey; but, when necessary, it is as bitter as medicine. The word of the Lord is as welcome as a friend who knocks at the door when he is most needed; but, when necessary, the word of the Lord is as a judge who finds us in sin and who judges us without allowing us any excuse. The word of the Lord is true, just, wise and merciful which is why it is so All-powerful. No one and nothing, either in heaven or on earth, is able to go against it. The human word is also powerful when it is true, just, wise and merciful. But just as illness is able to exhaust and so weaken a giant that he becomes more powerless than a child; so falsehoods, injustice, insanity and lack of mercy so weakens the word of a human that it becomes nothing; a chattering fox against the moon. He who spares words forges them of pure silver. And whoever unmercifully squanders them must mix earth with silver. Your word, O Lord, is life and truth. Cleanse us by Your All-powerful word as You cleansed Your apostles to bear much fruit and to be made worthy of Your kingdom.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK