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Prologue from Ochrid - August 14 [August 27]

1. The Holy Prophet Micah the Second.

Of the tribe of Judah and from the village of Morasth, from which he took the name 'the Morasthite', he was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea, and the Judean kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. He denounced the vices of his people and denounced also the prophets who prophesied 'of wine and strong drink'. He foretold the fall of Samaria, which would come about because the city's elders take a bribe and the priests teach for hire, and prophets divine for money. 'Therefore shall Sion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps'. But, of all his prophecies, the most important are those of the Messiah, and especially of the place of His birth. He named Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah, 'whose goings-forth have been from of old, from everlasting' (5:2). It is not known certainly whether this prophet was killed by the Jews or died peacefully (see Jeremiah 26:18-19), but it is known that he was buried in his village, and that his relics were found, together with the relics of the Prophet Habakkuk, in the time of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, by some mysterious revelation received by the Bishop of Eleutheropolis.

2. The Hieromartyr Marcellus, Bishop of Apamea.

Born in Cyprus of rich and eminent parents, he was well-educated, and married and had children. When his wife died, he withdrew to follow the monastic life in Syria, leaving his child to Providence. He became known for his compassion, meekness and spiritual learning, because of which the people of Apamea chose him as their bishop. As a bishop, he laboured with zeal to bring pagans to the Christian faith. When an idolatrous temple was burned down, the idolaters seized Marcellus and, on the pretext of his having caused it, threw him into the fire, in about 389. We find in St Marcellus's `Life' that the blessing of water is mentioned, and its use.

Reflection

Beware of a parent's curse for a parental curse is a dreadful thing. Appreciate and seek a parental blessing for it will accompany you throughout your entire life. The all-wise Sirach speaks: "For the blessing of the father establishes the houses of children but curse of the mother rooteth out foundations" (Sirach 3:9 Ecclesiasticus 3:9). The curse by which Noah cursed the descendants of Ham still follows the unfortunate Hamites today. However, to the sons of Jacob, it was the same as their father blessed them in their life. St. Sergius, as a young man, begged his parents for their blessing in order for him to become a monk. But, the aged parents begged their son to wait awhile and to labor around them until their death and after that to become tonsured a monk. Sergius obeyed his parents and was blessed until his death. Bishop Hermogenes relates an incident how a son mistreated his wife. When his mother, with tears, began to scold him because of this, the son attacked his mother, beat her and smashed her head against a wall. The sorrowful mother cried out: "Lord, may my son be cursed and may he not have my blessing nor Your blessing." That same day, the son began to tremble throughout his entire body and for thirteen years he lived in this state of trembling not even able to raise a spoon to his mouth. After thirteen years, he made his confession and received the Sacrament of Holy Communion which made it somewhat easier for him and soon after that he died.

Contemplation

To contemplate the wondrous assistance of God to Saul in battle with the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11 1 Kings 11):

  1. How the powerful Nahash [Naas], the leader of the Ammonites, threatened to pluck out the right eye of all the Israelites;
  2. How the people of Israel wept before the Lord;
  3. How Saul and Samuel, with God's help, destroyed the Ammonites for the Spirit of God was upon Saul and Samuel.

Homily

About the prophesied light in darkness

"The people that walked in the darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (Isaiah 9:2).

There where it is the darkest, the prophet fortells there will appear the light-bearing Messiah. The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali were considered as the darkest lands. There, the pagans were intermingled with the Jews; the yoke of external and internal slavery is the most difficult; the darkness of the pagans and the darkness of the Pharisees covered the people with the shadow of death. The Light of Heaven shown first in Bethlehem Christ the Lord was born there. That Light was seen from afar by eastern Magi and, in the vicinity, by the shepherds of Bethlehem. But that Light was driven out of Bethlehem by the bloody sword of Herod and the Light withdrew to Egypt. After that, the Light shown in full radiance in this land of darkness and the shadow of death, in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this land, alongside the lake, there lived fishermen whom our Lord chose for His disciples. In this land is the Mount of the Beatitudes from which the Lord proclaimed His first great sermon about the blessed. There, also, is Cana of Galilee where the Lord worked His first miracle. There, He began His work for the salvation of mankind by His powerful word and by His powerful deeds. Men saw this great Light and were astonished. Many were scandalized at the Lord and many mocked Him. But these men of darkness did not kill Him. There was another darker spot in the land of the Jews, which raised its hand against the Creator and killed Him. That is the same spot from which Herod, thirty-three years earlier, raised his bloody sword, to extinguish this great Light by blood, i.e., Jerusalem. Of all the darkness, the darkness of Jerusalem was the darkest. Perhaps the darkest because she [Jerusalem] named herself as the light.

O Lord, our Great and All-great Light, encompass us by Your light in this short period of time and receive us after death into Your Light, glorious and immortal.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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