Prologue from Ochrid - June 28 [July 11]
1. The Holy Martyrs Cyrus and John.
These holy martyrs are commemorated on January 31st, and their lives and sufferings are described under that date. Today we commemorate the translation of their relics from Canopus to Menuthis, and the numerous miracles associated with them. St Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria, prayed fervently for the extermination of the abominable idolatrous practices at Menuthis. where there was a temple and where the demonic powers held sway. An angel of God appeared to the Patriarch and told him that Menuthis would be cleansed of its impurity if he brought the relics of Ss Cyrus and John to the town. The Patriarch did this at once. He brought the relics of the holy martyrs to Menuthis and had a church built there in their honour. Ammonius, the son of the governor of Alexandria, Julian, was healed of scrofula through the martyrs' relics. and a certain Theodore was healed of blindness. Isidore of Maium was healed of a wasting disease of the liver, Theodore's wife of the effects of poison, a certain Eugenia of dropsy and a great many others of various diseases and torments. All this took place in the year 412.
2. Our Holy Father Sennuphius the Standard-Bearer.
A great ascetic and wonderworker of the Egyptian desert, he was a contemporary of Patriarch Theophilus and the Emperor Theodosius the Great. He is called 'the Standard-Bearer' because he once helped the Emperor Theodosius to gain a victory over enemy forces by his prayers. When the Emperor summoned him to Constantinople, he replied that he was unable to go, but sent his torn and patched monastic habit and his staff. Going out to battle, the Emperor put on Sennuphius's habit and carried his staff in his hand, and returned victorious from the battle.
3. Our Holy Father Paul the Physician.
He was born in Corinth. After completing his studies, he went to a monastery and became a monk. He had a very difficult struggle with the spirit of fornication and, when he had driven it from himself by the power of the Cross, a malicious spirit was angered at his victory and sent a harlot to say that she had borne a child to Paul. Then some heretics came and took him from the monastery, thrust the child into his arms and drove him around the city for the people to spit upon. The child was only a few days old. St Paul prayed fervently to God, and said to the people: 'Here, let the child tell you who its father is!' The child pulled its hand out from the swaddling clothes and pointed to a certain blacksmith, saying: 'That man is my father, not Paul the monk!' Paul's opponents were shamed, and repented. God gave to Paul great power of healing, so that he had merely to place his hands on the sick for them to recover. He entered peacefully into rest in great old age, having been pleasing to God in his life on earth. He lived in the seventh century.
Protestants have rejected the miracles of God through material things. By doing this they thought to despiritualize the Christian Faith however, in doing this, they have impoverished and deformed Christianity. They have rejected the action of God's power through icons, through the relics of the saints, through the Cross and, finally, some of them even through the power of Holy Communion. If they were to follow this erroneous path, they would have to reject even the miracles which have occurred from the living body of the Lord Jesus, for His body was material; the same with the miracles by the touch of the apostles' hands and the hands of the saints, for these hands are also material and not even to mention the rod of Moses, or the vesture of the All-holy Birth-giver of God, of the handkerchief of the Apostle Paul and so forth. In their rejection, Protestants stand in contradiction to the entire ancient Church. Here is one out of thousands and thousands of proofs that God acts through things, especially when He wants to glorify His saints: there was a tall pillar erected in Alexandria bearing the statue of Emperor Theodosius dressed in monastic habit and with a monastic staff in his hand. This pillar served as a memorial of the emperor's victory which he, clad in the monastic habit of St. Sennuphius and with Sennuphius' staff in his hands, carried against his adversaries. When God wills, then even one garment of a saint conquers the powerful armies of unbelievers. Who would dare to limit the actions or the methods of action of the power of the Almighty God?
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the ten lepers: "And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers which stood afar off" (St. Luke 17:12):
- How the Lord by the power of His word healed the ten lepers who prayed to Him;
- How, even I, spiritually and morally leprous, the Lord can heal if I cry out to Him.
"But as the One who called you is holy, be you also holy in all your behavior" (1 Peter 1:15).
Brethren, holiness is a virtue which encompasses all other virtues. Hence brethren, a saint is a man adorned with all virtues. But if a man is prayerful and is not compassionate, he cannot be called holy. Or, if a man endures but without faith and hope he cannot be numbered among the saints. Or, if a man is very compassionate but without faith in God in truth, such a man cannot be numbered among the saints. A saint is a perfect man such as Adam was in Paradise; or even better, such as the New Adam was, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Saint above the saints. This is the Sower of holiness on earth and the Nurturer of the saints in history. He called us to the dignity of the saints. He showed us the example of a true saint. He is the prototype of the saints as He is the arch-type of man. A true man, my brethren, does not mean anything else but a saint. A saint and a man, that is one and the same. He showed us what it means to be a man and what it means to be a saint. The Apostle Peter commands us: "Be you also holy in all your [living] behavior!" A saint is not a saint in one aspect of his life but rather in every aspect of his entire life. We must be holy in every work and aspect of our life in order to be numbered among the saints, i.e., among men according to the prototype of the saints and the arch-type of man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
O All-holy Lord, To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK