Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Father Gerasim.

This well-known saint first learned asceticism in the Egyptian Thebaid, but then went to the Jordan and there founded a community of about seventy monks which remains to this day. He formulated a particular rule for his monastery: the monks spent five days a week in their cells weaving baskets and mats; they were allowed no heat in their cells; five days they ate only a little dry bread and a few dates; the monks had to leave their cells open, even when they went out, so that anyone could, if he wanted something, take it from another's cell. On Saturdays and Sundays they gathered in the monastery church, ate together boiled vegetables, and took a little wine in God's praise. Then each monk brought and placed before the feet of the abbot the work he had done in the preceeding five days. Each monk had only one garment. St Gerasim was an example to all. In the Great Fast he ate nothing but what he received in Holy Communion. He once saw a lion which was roaring with pain, having a thorn in its paw. Gerasim came near to it, crossed himself and pulled the thorn out. The lion was so tame that it followed the elder to the monastery and remained there until the latter's death. When the elder died, the lion also succumbed to illness after him and died. St Gerasim was present at the 4th Council in Chalcedon in 451, in the time of Marcian and Pulcheria, and though he at first inclined a little towards the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus, he was at that Council a great champion of Orthodoxy, having been turned from heresy by St Euthymius. Of Gerasim's disciples, the best-known is St Cyriac the Solitary. St Gerasim entered into rest and into the eternal joy of his Lord in 475.

2. The Holy Martyrs Paul and Juliana.

Brother and sister from Ptolemais in Phoenicia, they were cruelly tortured for Christ under the Emperor Aurelian and were finally beheaded. Many marvels attended their martyrdom and many of the pagans, seeing them, were brought to the Faith. Several of them were beheaded in 273 and received martyrs' wreaths.

3. St James the Faster.

He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in godliness that he was able to heal the gravest illnesses by his prayers. But the enemy of the human race brought a heavy temptation on him. There was once sent to him a woman who had been corrupted by some mockers. She pretended to weep before him, but enticed him to sin. Seeing that he would fall into sin, James put his left hand into the fire and held it there until it was completely burned . Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and horror, repented and reformed her life. But on a second occasion he did not resist and fell with a young girl whom her parents had brought to him to be healed of her madness. He indeed healed her, but then sinned with her and, in order to conceal the sin, killed her and threw her into a river. As always, the path from lust to murder was not very long. James spent ten years after that as a penitent, living in a grave. He learned after that that God had forgiven him, because, when he at one time prayed for rain in a time of great drought from which both men and cattle were suffering, it fell. Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how wicked the evil demon is; how, by the permission of God, the greatest spiritual giants can topple, and how again, by sincere repentance, God in His compassion will forgive the greatest sins and does not punish those who punish themselves.


From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK