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Prologue from Ochrid - February 13 [February 26]

Our Holy Father Simeon the Outpourer of Myrrh.

Stevan Nemanja, the great ruler of the Serbian people, unifier of the Serbian lands, creator of an independent Serbian government, defender of Orthodoxy, driver-out of heresy, was first baptised in the Latin Church, but later became a member of the Orthodox Church. In its Organisation, it was at first dependent on Greece, but later shook off this dependence and became completely autonomous. When he had strengthened the state and the Orthodox Church within the state he then, following the example of his son Sava, received the monastic habit at the monastery of Studenica in 1195, being given the name Simeon. His wife Anna also received the monastic habit and the name Anastasia, and retired to a women's monastery. After two years' monasticism at Studenica, Simeon went to the Holy Mountain. There he stayed at first in the monastery of Vatopedi, together with Sava. Father and son spent days and nights in prayer. They built there six chapels: to the Saviour, the Unmercenaries, St George, St Theodore, the Forerunner and St Nicolas. They bought the ruins of Hilandar and built a beautiful monastery, in which Simeon lived only eight months before his death. When he was at his last breath, Sava, according to his wish, placed him on a simple rush mat. With his eyes fixed on the icon of the Mother of God with the Saviour, the blessed elder pronounced these words: 'Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.' And he went to the Lord, on February 13th, 1200.

Our Holy Father Martinian.

The life of this saint is wonderful beyond measure and is worth reading in full. What did he not endure to fulfill the Law of God? At the age of eighteen, he went off into a mountain in Cappadocia called the Ark and there spent 25 years in fasting, vigils and prayer, and struggling with manifold temptations. When a woman came to tempt him and he saw that he would fall into sin with her, he leapt barefoot into the fire and stood in it until the pain brought forth tears from his eyes and he had killed all lust within himself. When other temptations arose, he fled to a lonely rock in the sea and lived there. When, though, in a shipwreck, a woman swam to the rock, he leapt into the sea intending to drown himself. But a dolphin took him upon its back and brought him, by God's providence, to the shore. He then decided to make nowhere his permanent home but to travel i

Reflection

The great Stefan Nemanja, whose authorative words everyone unconditionally heeded to and at whom people and emperors trembled, became a monk and served the monks of the Holy Mountain [Athos] as an ideal example of meekness, humility, goodness and piety. Even his death was the death of a truly godly-man and spiritual director. He became bedridden on February 7. He summoned St. Sava, placed his hands on him and blessed him saying: "My beloved child, the light of my eyes, comfort and protector in my old age! Behold the time of our separation has arrived. Behold the Lord is releasing me in peace. But you, my child, do not mourn because of our separation. For parting is the common cup of all and everyone; here we part from one another but we will meet there where there is no separation." On February 12, St. Simeon asked Sava to clothe him in a burial cassock, to spread a mat on the ground, lay him there and place a stone under his head. He then summoned all the monks and asked their forgiveness. At dawn, on February 13, while the monks were chanting the Office of Matins in church and the voices were reaching the cell of the dying one, St. Simeon, once more his face radiated and he gave up his soul to his God.

Contemplation

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God:

  1. As a Lamb born in the dwelling place of lambs;
  2. As a Lamb persecuted by men of lupine temper such as Herod and others;
  3. As the Sacrificial Lamb Who patiently endured pain and death;
  4. As the Victorious Lamb of God on the Heavenly Throne.

Homily

About love above every other love

" Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me" (St. Matthew 10:37).

The entire Gospel teaches that we should leave the lesser for the sake of the greater; the transient for the intransient; the worst for the sake of the best; the less valuable for the sake of the more valuable. If the Good News [Gospel] would not promise greater value, who would leave the lesser? If the Gospel would not reveal the glow of the precious goods, who would leave the less valuable goods? Who would leave honey and milk if he did not find something sweeter? Who would leave father and mother if he did not find someone closer in kinship? Who would leave children and friends if he did not recognize someone more dear? Who would willingly give up his life to suffering and death if he did not perceive immortal life? The Lord Christ is sweeter than honey and milk; He is a closer kin to us than our father and mother; more dear to us than our own children and friends; more precious than all visible treasures; more costly than this life for He gives life eternal. Everything in the world compared to Him [Christ] is inferior, trivial, bitter, weak, less valuable and transitory. Whoever receives Him [Christ] it is easier for him to leave everything; everything, because he has received the best and Him Who is the very best.

O Lord Jesus, the Treasury of all eternal riches, help us to unbind ourselves from everything and to cling to You, our Good and our Life.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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