Prologue from Ochrid - August 30 [September 12]
1. The Assembly of the Enlighteners and Teachers of Serbia.
On this day are commemorated, not all the saints of Serbia in general, but several archbishops and patriarchs:
St Sava, the first Archbishop of Serbia, called equal to the apostles.
Arsenius, St Sava's successor, a great hierarch and wonderworker.
Sava II, son of King Stephen the First-Crowned, who lived a long time in Jerusalem and was called 'like to Moses in meekness'.
Nicodemus, who lived in asceticism on the Holy Mountain, and was abbot of Hilandar and archbishop of 'all the Serbian and maritime lands'.
Joannicius, archbishop and then, from 1346, patriarch, who died in 1349.
Ephraim, an ascetic, chosen against his will as patriarch in the time of Prince Lazar, in 1376. He crowned Lazar and then renounced the patriarchal throne and withdrew into solitude.
Spiridon, Ephraim's successor, who died in 1388.
Macarius, who restored many old foundations, printed Church books in Skadar, Venice, Belgrade and other places, built the famous refectory in the monastery at Pec, did much for the advancement of the Church with the help of his brother, Mehmed Sokolovic, and entered into rest in 1574.
Gabriel, by birth a nobleman of the Rajic family, who took part in the Moscow Council under Patriarch Nikhon, because of which he was tortured by the Turks for treason and hanged in 1656.
As well as these, there are also commemorated Eustace, Jacob, Danilo, Sava III, Gregory, John, Maxim and Nikhon. Many of them lived the ascetic life on the Holy Mountain, and all were 'gentle and faithful servants, good labourers in the Lord's vineyard'.
2. Ss Alexander, John and Paul, Patriarchs of Constantinople.
Alexander took part in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, in place of the aged Patriarch Metrophanes, whom he then succeeded. When certain philosophers tried to dispute with him about faith, he said to one of them: 'In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to remain silent!', and the philosopher became dumb from that moment. By his prayers, also, Arius's life was shortened. Alexander died at the age of ninety-eight, in the year 340.
St John the Faster governed the Church in the days of the wicked Emperor Anastasius, an Acephalite heretic. He entered into rest in 595.
St Paul IV governed the Church for five years and eight months and renounced the throne to receive the Great Habit secretly, to repent of his sins when he first supported the iconoclasts. He was the predecessor of the great Tarasius, and entered into rest in the time of Irene and Constantine, in 784.
3. Our Holy Father Christopher.
An ascetic of the sixth century in the community of St Theodosius, he saw in a vision that the lamp of the monk who laboured was burning, and the lamp of the lazy monk was not.
4. St Eulalius, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.
One of St Basil's predecessors, he deprived his son of his priesthood for wearing clothing unsuited to his spiritual calling.
With clamor and disgrace the noisy heretics died. And their deaths alone show God's wrath upon them because of the lies that they spread and the disturbances that they caused the Church of God. Arius, after he was condemned in Nicaea, came to Emperor Constantine one day and begged him to be received into the Church again. The emperor asked Arius if he believes in the Nicaean Symbol of Faith [the Creed] and he, the cunning one, kept a paper in his bosom with his heretically evil confession of faith and striking himself with his hand across his bosom said to the emperor: " Thus, I believe." The emperor thought that Arius had repented and sent him to Patriarch Alexander to receive him into the Church. Under no circumstances was Alexander willing to receive Arius knowing that he lies. However, the emperor designated one day, a Sunday, that Arius had to be received in the Great Church [Hagia Sophia]. On the eve of that day, the holy patriarch prayed to God to receive his soul before the God-mocking heretic is received into the Church. When the Sunday of the appointed day dawned, the patriarch was at service in the church and Arius, with the emperor's men and his "like-minded ones" set out for the church. When they arrived at the Square of Constantine, suddenly a pain, both in body and soul overcame Arius and he looked at a place for bodily need. There on the square was such a public place and he went there. His escort waited a long time and became impatient from waiting. When some of them went to see what was the matter with Arius, they found him dead in that foul place with his entire intestine spilled on the outside in uncleanness and in blood.
To contemplate the victories of David over the Philistines (2 Samuel 5 2 Kings 5):
- How the Philistines attacked the lands of David and David prayed to God and set out and defeated the Philistines;
- How the Philistines again attacked and David again prayed to God and defeated the Philistines.
About the mysterious ancestry [generation] of Christ
" And who shall declare His generation?" (Isaiah 53:8).
As a hidden source of a great river, thus for the Jews the ancestry of the Lord Jesus was hidden. They read and knew that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, and He was born in Bethlehem but they did not recognize Him. They knew that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David and He was born of the lineage of David through His Most-holy Mother, but they did not recognize or acknowledge Him. They read that He will be born of a Virgin, that He will flee to Egypt and that He will be called out of Egypt and that His forerunner will appear before Him, "Crying in the wilderness" (St. Mark 1:3), and that He will shine as a great light in the darkness and in the shadow of the deadly land of Zebulon and Naphthali and all the rest that the prophets foretold and wrote as a sign of His coming. Still, they did not recognize or acknowledge Him, but rather they crucified the King of Glory as a criminal.
If He were an ordinary man, would the prophet inquire about His ancestry and origin? Whose ancestry and origin in the history of the people of Israel is not known? His ancestry is hidden as the ancestry of Melchisedek. It was hidden for the Jews and is always hidden for unbelievers but for us believers it is not hidden anymore. We know that He is "Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten not made" (The Nicaean Creed]. That is He in eternity. We know that "He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" [The Nicaean Creed] and that He appeared in the world as man, as God-man. That is He, in time; wondrous, mysterious, glorious and majestic is His ancestry. When we say everything what was revealed to us about Him, nevertheless, we can still ask ourselves: "Who shall declare His generation [ancestry]?" Not because His ancestry is unknown but rather because His ancestry is unreachable, incomprehensible, beyond sensual and above nature.
O Lord Jesus Christ our God, enlighten us by Your divine mind and raise us up to You by Your man-loving power.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK