Prologue from Ochrid - October 2 [October 15]
1. St Andrew the Fool for Christ.
By birth a Slav, he was bought as a slave by Theognostus, a rich man in Constantinople, in the time of the Emperor Leo the Wise, son of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian. Andrew was a handsome young man, both in body and soul. Theognostus took a fancy to him and allowed him to learn to read and write. Andrew prayed fervently to God and attended church services with great devotion, and, in obedience to a heavenly revelation, resolved on the ascesis of folly for Christ's sake. Once, when he went to the well for water, he cast off his clothes and cut them to pieces, feigning madness. Saddened by this, his owner Theognostus put him in chains and took him to the church of St Anastasia the Deliverer from Bonds, that prayers be read for him. But, as Andrew did not recover as far as his owner could see, he was freed as being sick in mind. Holy Andrew feigned madness all day and spent the nights in prayer. He lived without a roof over his head, spending the nights in the open and going about half-naked in a single, tattered garment and eating a little bread when kindly people shared theirs with him. Whatever he received, he gave away to beggars, and when he gave it to them he would mock them to avoid their thanks, for holy Andrew looked only for the reward from God. Therefore great grace from God abode in him, and he was able to discern men's secrets, see angels and demons, drive demons from men and turn men from sin. He had a most wonderful vision of Paradise and the exalted powers of heaven; he saw the Lord Christ on His throne of glory; he, with his disciple Epiphanius, saw the most holy Mother of God in the Blachemae church, sheltering the Christian people with her veil (see Oct. 1st); he heard in heaven unspeakable words, which he dared not recount to men. After unprecedentedly harsh asceticism, he entered into rest and the eternal glory of his Lord in 911.
2. The Hieromartyr Cyprian and the Virgin Justina.
Cyprian moved from Carthage to Antioch, where Justina lived with her parents, Edesius and Cleodonia. Edesius was an idolatrous priest and his whole household was pagan, but when Justina, going round the Christian churches, came to know the true Faith, she brought both her father and mother to Christ the Lord and all three were baptised by the bishop, Optatus. Cyprian was a magician, and had links with unclean spirits and powers of divination. A dissolute youth Aglaidas, a pagan, tried to lead Justina astray, being enraptured by her beauty, and, when the holy maiden firmly rejected him, sought Cyprian's help. Cyprian invoked evil spirits, one after the other, on Justina, to set alight in her the passion of impurity towards Aglaidas, but they were totally unsuccessful in this, for St Justina, with the sign of the Cross and prayer to God, drove out the evil spirits. Then Cyprian came to know the power of the Cross, and was himself baptised, in time becoming priest and bishop. The wicked pagans seized both him and Justina, and they were sent for trial to Damascus, and then tortured and beheaded in Nicomedia at the end of the third century.
3. The Holy Martyrs David and Constantine.
Christian princes of Argueti, they were condemned to death for Christ in Imereti by Caliph Emil-el-Mumenim and drowned in a river in 730. At the time of their death, they prayed to God that He would forgive the sins of all who invoked them in prayer for help. After their prayer was finished, a thunderbolt fell and a voice came from heaven, saying that their prayer was heard. Their relics are preserved in Georgia, in the monastery of Modzameta.
A vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: A monk in Constantinople was distinguished as an ascetic and spiritual father, and many people came to him for prayers. But this monk had the secret vice of avarice. He collected money and gave it to no one. St. Andrew met him on the street one day, and saw a terrible snake coiled around his neck. St. Andrew took pity on him, approached him, and began to counsel him: "Brother, why have you lost your soul? Why have you bound yourself with the demon of avarice? Why have you given him a resting place within yourself? Why are you amassing gold as though it will go to the grave with you, and not into the hands of others? Why are you strangling yourself by stinginess? While others hunger and thirst and perish from cold, you rejoice looking at your heap of gold! Is this the path of repentance? Is this the monastic rank? Do you see your demon?" At that, the spiritual eyes of the monk were opened, and he saw the dark demon and was greatly horrified. The demon dropped away from the monk and fled, driven by Andrew's power. Then a most radiant angel of God appeared to the monk, for his heart was changed for the good. Immediately, he went about distributing his hoarded gold to the poor and needy. From then on, he pleased God in everything and was more greatly glorified than before.
Contemplate the righteousness of Hezekiah, and God's reward to him (II Chronicles 30, 31):
- How Hezekiah did that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God (II Chronicles 31:20);
- How he restored holiness to the Temple of the Lord, and rooted out idols and idol-worshiping among the people;
- How God had mercy on him, and he was prosperous in everything.
On the will of the righteous in the will of God
But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on His Law doth he mediate day and night (Psalm 1:2).
Brethren, blessed is that man-thrice blessed is he-whose will is submitted to the will of God; whose mind thinks of nothing contrary to the counsel of God; and whose heart desires nothing contrary to the will of God. The mind is the rudder of both the will and the heart. If the mind is permanently directed toward God, then it will eagerly meditate day and night on the Law of God, and will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly(Psalm 1:1) but will seek the truth and the revelation of all that is in God's Law. If the mind is so directed to God, then, swiftly, the heart and will of man will also be directed toward God. Then the will, as the implementing organ of the inner man, will carry out only what is in accordance with the will of God and what is written in the Law of God. Then man will not stand in the way of the sinners (Psalm 1:1), and will not sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1); he will not commit sin, nor will he draw other men to sin. At the beginning of this Psalm, the Prophet David praises the man who does not commit three specific evils, and now he continues to praise him when he does two good things. The three evils are: to seek wisdom of a sinner, to live the life of a sinner and to corrupt others by one's evil example. The two good things are: to conform one's will completely to the Law of God; and to direct one's mind to meditate day and night on God's Law.
O my brethren, how lamentably shallow are the minds of all those who do not know the Law of God! The depth of man's mind is measured by the depth of his knowledge of God's law. The mind of him who meditates on the mysteries of God's law is deep, wide and exalted; and the mind is the rudder of the heart and will. O my brethren, how shallow, unstable and dissolute is the will of him who does not subordinate his will to the will of God! Indeed, it is lamentably shallow, unstable and dissolute. What is the Law of God, brethren? It is the expression of God's will. Where is that expression to be found? In Holy Scripture and in the Tradition of the saints of the Church of God. Blessed is he who knows the will of God and fulfills it.
O Lord God, great and powerful, merciful and just; enlighten our minds by Thy holy law, so that we may conform our wills to Thy man-loving and saving will.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK