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Prologue from Ochrid - July 30 [August 12]

1. The Holy Apostles Silas, Silvanus, Crescens, Epaenetus and Andronicus.

These are all among the Seventy. St Silas was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch with Paul and Bamabas, to settle a quarrel among the faithful concerning circumcision: namely, whether or not it was necessary to circumcise pagans who had embraced Christianity (Acts 15:22). After that, Silas travelled with Paul around Asia and Macedonia, and was installed as Bishop of Corinth, where he died peacefully. Silvanus helped the two greatest apostles (I Pet. 5:12; II Cor. 1:19). As bishop in Salonica, he laboured much and suffered much, until he exchanged the earthly life for the heavenly. Crescens was a fellow-worker with the Apostle Paul (II Tim. 4: 10), and then bishop in Galatia and a missionary in Gaul, where he died a martyr for Christ under Trajan. St Epaenetus is mentioned by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 16:5), and became Bishop of Carthage. Andronicus (Rom. 16:7), Bishop of Pannonia, is also commemorated separately on May 17th.

2. The Hieromartyr Valentine.

He was bishop in the Italian town of Interamna. He healed the brother of the Roman tribune Frontanus of an illness. When Cherimon, the son of the eminent philosopher Craton, fell ill, Craton, at Frontanus's advice, asked Bishop Valentine to come to Rome. Cherimon was all cramped-up, so that his head was caught between his knees. Valentine shut himself in the room with the sick boy and spent the whole night in prayer. 'Me following day, he brought Cherimon out in full health, and gave him to his father. Then Craton was baptised, with his whole household and those of his pupils. Cherimon left his father's house and went with Valentine. Then Abundius, son of the Roman Eparch, was baptised. Infuriated by this, the Eparch took Valentine and, after torturing him, had him beheaded. Three pupils of Craton: Proclus, Abibus and Apollonius, were beheaded at the same time. Abundius took their bodies and buried them. They all suffered in 273, and became citizens of the heavenly Kingdom.

3. The Hieromartyr Polychronius, Bishop of Babylon.

When the Emperor Decius conquered Babylon, he arrested Polychronius, together with three priests, two deacons and two baptised princes, Eudin and Senis. Polychronius would make no reply before the Emperor, but kept silent, while St Parmenius, one of the priests, spoke for them all. The Emperor took the bishop and priests to Persia, to the city of Kordoba, and had them beheaded with an axe, but he took the princes with him to Rome, threw them first to the wild beasts and then had them slain with the sword. They all suffered with honour in 251.

4. St John the Soldier.

He was a secret Christian. Sent by Julian the Apostate to slaughter Christians, he did not kill them but helped them to hide. Julian had him thrown into prison in Constantinople. When the wicked Emperor perished, John gave himself to the ascetic life, living in purity and holiness. He entered peacefully into rest in old age. After his death, he appeared to various people who needed his help. His prayers are of aid in the tracking-down of thieves.

5. Our Holy Mother Angelina.

Wife of a Serbian despot, her relics lie in the monastery of Krusedol (see her life on December 12th).

Reflection

One needs to distinguish a sinner from a penitent. If you have taken upon yourself the role to rebuke the sinner, guard yourself well, that you do not rebuke the penitent also. How dear the repentant sinner is to God, call to mind the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Therefore, let it be very dear for you, he who has become dear to God. At one time it happened that a monk succumbed to sin for which he was banished from the monastery. This monk went to St. Anthony, confessed his sin, repented and remained with Anthony for a period of time. Then Anthony sent him back again to the monastery but they did not receive him and, again, they banished him. Again, the penitent came to Anthony. Again, Anthony sent him back to the monastery with a message to the fathers of the monastery: "One boat experienced shipwreck and lost its cargo; with great difficulty did that boat arrive in the harbor and you wish to drown even that which was saved from drowning!" Hearing this wise message, the fathers received with joy the penitent brother into the monastery.

Contemplation

To contemplate the miraculous victory of Gideon over the Midianites (Judges 7):

  1. How Gideon gathered thirty-two thousand soldiers and set out against the Midianites;
  2. How God commanded him to reduce the number, so that the Israelites would not brag about themselves and say that they defeated [the Midianites] and not God;
  3. How Gideon selected only three hundred soldiers and defeated the Midianites who were numerous "as grasshoppers" (Judges 7:12).

Homily

About the coming of the Dreadful Day of the Lord

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).

Dreadful is the day of the Lord, O how inexpressibly dreadful! Dreadful because of its inexorable justice and also because of its unexpectancy. The Lord Himself commanded: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour" (St. Matthew 25:13), and the apostle who, with his own ears, heard these words only repeats them. He who is afraid of thieves watches every night, so that the thief would not surprise him. He, who is afraid of the Day of the Lord, watches every day and every hour in order that that day and that hour would not unexpectedly catch him in sin. We are so accustomed to the correct rotation of the course of time, and on the correct passage of day and night, that we do not suspect the approaching noise of that day which will overshadow all days and hold back the wheel of time and smash its tiny spokes. So also will it be when the sun places its fiery face over millions of wax candles and blots out their glow and melts their wax. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful is the Day of the Lord! When that day places its fiery face over the candles of today's day, these will be snuffed out and darkened, "the heavens shall pass away with great noise," the heavens, by which the present average days are counted, "and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" the material elements, the earth, water, air and fire will disintegrate. They will cease to be. Everything will be new. Our earthly homeland and all works on it will be burned up. They will cease to be. Everything will be new. All our works will burn up; when God does not have pity on His works, would He then pity our works? God will not seek works but workers. All workers will appear before Him for judgment and their works He will burn up. And all will be new. Who will be judged, will be judged; who will be rewarded, will be rewarded, for all eternity. Brethren, dreadful, truly dreadful is the Day of the Lord! Dreadful because of its unexpectancy and dreadful because of the inexorable justice of God.

O Just Lord, make us sober and vigilant! Command Your holy angels to keep us in sobriety and vigilance, so that sin does not inebriate us and cause us to sleep.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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