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Prologue from Ochrid - February 7 [February 20]

St Parthenius, Bishop of Lampsacus.

He was the son of a deacon from the city of Melitopolis. He knew the words of the Gospel by heart from his early youth, and strove to fulfill them. Settling beside a lake, he caught fish, sold them and shared the proceeds with the poor. By God's providence, he was chosen as bishop of Lampsacus. He cleansed the city of paganism, closed the temples dedicated to idol-worship, built many churches and strengthened the faithful. He healed all manner of sickness through prayer, and was especially powerful over spirits. At one time when he was about to drive the evil spirit out of a madman, the evil spirit begged him not to. 'I will give you another man, into whom you can enter and in whom you can dwell', Parthenius told him. 'And who is that man?" I am he', replied the saint, 'come and make your abode in me'. Hearing this, the evil spirit fled as though burned by fire, crying out: 'How can I enter into the house of God?' St Parthenius lived long and showed in his deeds the greatness of his love for God and man. He entered into the eternal peace of Christ in the 4th century.

Our Holy Father Luke of Hellas.

Luke was born in Castorius. Even as a child, he had no desire to taste meat, and spent the whole of his life in purity and prayer. One day he went to sow his field with wheat. On the way, he gave the greater part of the wheat to a poor man and the lesser part, which remained to him, he sowed. God provided that, from this small amount of seed, there came a greater harvest than had previously come from the whole amount. After that, Luke ran away from his mother and entered a monastery. His widowed mother prayed ardently to God to reveal to her where her son was to be found. And God heard her prayer. The abbot of that monastery dreamed three times in succession that a woman was vehemently accusing him of having taken her only son. The abbot then ordered Luke to return at once to his mother. Luke went and saw his mother, but once again left her, this time for good. He atoned for this sin on a mountain called 'John's Mountain'. He prayed at night and worked in the gardens and fields by day, not for himself but for the poor and the visitors, himself living only on barley bread. He was endowed by God with wonder-working gifts, and entered peacefully into rest in the year 94From time to time, myrrh flowed from his relics.

Our Holy Mother Mastridia.

She lived a life of great asceticism in Jerusalem. A young man who saw her began to pester her, so to save them both from sin she took some soaked beans in a basket and went off into the desert. There she spent seventeen years, during which time, by the power of God, the beans did not come to an end nor her clothing wear out. She entered peacefully into rest in about 580.

The Thousand and Three Martyrs of Nicomedia

They suffered in the reign of Diocletian.

Reflection

St. Isidore of Pelusium interprets certain words of Holy Scripture in this manner: "Two [women] will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left" (St. Matthew 24:41). This means that many are dedicating themselves to the spiritual life, but with different intentions; some sincerely and steadfastly and others negligently and vainly. The first will be taken into the kingdom of God and the others will be left behind. What does the prayer of the Cup mean? And why did the Lord pray that this cup of Suffering pass from Him? "O My Father, if this Cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done!" (St. Matthew 26:42). This means that no one should seek out adversity but when adversity does come, a Christian should accept it and courageously endure it. Concerning the Five Foolish Virgins (St. Matthew, Chapter 25), St. Isidore says: "Indeed, all of them had retained their virginity, but they did not possess the other virtues, especially charity. Virginity alone is not sufficient to enter the kingdom of God. Virginity does not help at all, if the virgin is proud and selfish.

Contemplation

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Sower:

  1. As a Sower whose seed grows slowly and surely;
  2. As a Sower of the new teaching, new power and new order;
  3. As a Sower of the new spiritual food by which mankind will be fed until the end of time.

Homily

About the narrow-minded, to whom crime is closer than the love of God

"But you seek to kill Me because My word has no place in you" (St. John 8:37).

Why was the word of Christ unable to prevail among the Jewish elders? Because they were so filled with malice that there was no room in them for the divine seed; for the divine good news. All that grew in their souls was the sowing of Satan, the Antichrist. That is why they sought to kill Christ. Through the Blessed Psalmist, the Lord speaks: "Empty yourselves, [desist] and know that I am God" (Psalm 45:11/46:10). Therefore, it is necessary to empty oneself of everything that is opposed to God, i.e., of everything in us that hinders the light of knowledge of God from dwelling in us. When man empties himself of that, then and only then, can he understand that God is God. As long as the soul of man is filled with anti-godly thoughts, anti-godly feelings and anti-godly desires, until then, the soul of man is totally unable to listen or to receive the word of God. Whoever does not have God within him, that one acts by some infernal impulse to uproot God from the soul of him who possesses Him [God]. "You seek to kill Me." Why? Because not one divine word of Christ was able to find shelter nor acceptance in their godless hearts. Having nothing in common with Christ the Lord, the Jewish elders, from the beginning, were unable to have any kind of friendly relations with Him.

O Lord Jesus, our Blessed Savior, help us to empty ourselves of all sinful seeds in us, that Your holy word may be able to enter into us and to enlighten, strengthen and resurrect us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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