Prologue from Ochrid - May 17 [May 30]
1. The Holy Apostle Andronicus.
One of the Seventy, he was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul, as Paul wrote (Rom. 16:17), remembering also St Junia, Andronicus's helper. Andronicus was made Bishop of Pannonia, and did not stay in one place, but preached the Gospel throughout the whole of Pannonia. With St Junia, he was successful in bringing many to Christ and in demolishing many temples of idolatry. Both of them had the grace of wonder-working, by which they drove out demons and healed every sort of sickness and disease. They both suffered for Christ, and thus received a twofold crown: of apostleship and of martyrdom. Their holy relics were found in the excavations in Eugenius (see Feb. 2nd).
2. The Holy Martyr Solochon.
He was an Egyptian by birth, and a Roman soldier under the commander Campanus, in the reign of the wicked Emperor Maximian. When the imperial command that all soldiers offer sacrifice to idols arrived, Solochon revealed that he was a Christian. Two of his friends, Pamphamir and Pamphylon, also did the same. The commander ordered that they be beaten and tortured with great harshness, under which St Pamphamir and St Pamphylon breathed their last. Solochon remained alive, and was put to new torture: the commander ordered the soldiers to force his teeth open with a sword and stuff his mouth with food sacrificed to idols. The martyr broke the iron with his teeth and did not receive the foul, idolatrous sacrifice. Finally, they stabbed him with a quill through both ears and left him thus to die. Christians took the martyr and -carried him to the home of a widow, where he gained a little strength with food and drink, and continued to give counsel to the faithful to be steadfast in their faith and in torture for it. After this, he breathed a thanksgiving to God, finished his earthly course and went to the Kingdom of heaven, to the Lord whom he had served so faithfully, in the year 298.
3. St Stephen, Patriarch of Constantinople.
The son of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian and brother of Leo the Wise, he came to the patriarchal throne after Photius, and governed the Church of God from 886 to 893. He died peacefully, and went to the Lord whom he had greatly loved.
Following a terrible earthquake in Antioch, St. John Chrysostom spoke to the people: "Great are the fruits of an earthquake. Behold the Man-loving Lord Who quakes the city and strengthens the soul, Who sways the foundation and strengthens the thoughts, Who shows the weakness of the city and makes the will of the people powerful! Turn your attention to His love for mankind: He sways for a while - and strengthens forever; earthquake - for two days, but the devotion should remain for all times; you were sorrowful for a short time - but strengthened forever. A mother, wanting to wean her child from of the habit of frequent crying, strongly rocks its little crib not in order to harm it, but to frighten it. Precisely, thus the Lord of all, Who holds the universe in His hands shakes it, not in order to destroy it, but rather to bring back those men to salvation who live lawlessly." Behold this is how the Holy Fathers, the pillars of the Universal Church, knew how to explain God's love for man, both assaults in the same way as good works, and misfortune the same way as fortune. Let us who are slow to give thanks to God be ashamed when He gives and quick in our murmuring toward him when He takes away.
To contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the holy martyrs for the Faith:
- How the Holy Spirit gives them wisdom to speak before judges;
- How the Holy Spirit gives them courage to die on the scaffold.
About the Holy Spirit the Comforter
"But the Comforter the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you" (St. John 14:26).
What practical meaning do these words have, if not that it is necessary that we pray daily that the Holy Spirit be sent to us just as we pray every day for our daily bread? God is willing to send us the Holy Spirit every day but He seeks that we pray daily for the Holy Spirit. For as, in regard to bread which is, at one time abundant and at another time scarce, so it is also in regard to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to us and departs from us, according to our zealousness and our slothfulness in prayer, according to our good deeds and our patience. That is the reason why the Church established that morning services begin with an invocation of the Holy Spirit: "O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Come!", and after that comes the prayer: "give us our daily bread!" Why? Because, without the Holy Spirit, we do not even know how to use bread as it should be used for our salvation.
"He shall teach you all things." That is: every day and every night, according to the conditions and circumstances in which you will find yourself in, He will direct you, counsel you, teach you what you should think, what you should say and what you should do. For that reason, implore from God only the Holy Spirit and all else He Himself will bring with Him all that you will need at that particular moment. When the Holy Spirit shall descend upon you, you will know all, understand all and you will be capable of all that is necessary.
"And bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said to you." That is: do not be afraid that you will forget my teaching and my words. The Holy Spirit also knows all that I know so when He will be present in you all My teaching will be present in you, together with Him.
O Lord, Holy Spirit deign to descend upon us not according to our merits but according to the merits of the Lord Jesus and according to Your infinite goodness.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK