Prologue from Ochrid - January 23 [February 5]
The Priestly-Martyr Clement, Bishop Of Ancyra
Clement was born in the year 258 A.D. in the city of Ancyra of a pagan father and a Christian mother. His devout mother Euphrosyne prophesised that her son would die a martyr's death and then she departed this world when Clement was twelve years old. Her friend Sophia took Clement to her home as a son and assisted in rearing him in the Christian spirit. Clement was so famous because of his virtuous living that he was elected bishop of Ancyra at the age of twenty. In his young years, he attained the wisdom of a mature adult, and by great restraint he tamed and conquered his body. Clement fed on bread and vegetables only and did not eat anything butchered or bloody. During the reign of Diocletian, he was tortured so horribly "as no one ever, since the beginning of the world." He spent twenty-eight years in difficulties and in dungeons. Eleven different torturers tormented and tortured him. At one time, when they struck him in the face, spat upon him and broke his teeth, he cried out to Domentian, his torturer: "You do me great honor, O Domentian, for you are not torturing me, because even the mouth of my Lord Jesus Christ was also beaten and struck in the face and behold, I , the unworthy, now became worthy of that!" When Clement was brought to Rome before Emperor Diocletian, the emperor placed various weapons on one side for torture and on the other side gifts, such as decorations [medals], clothing and money; all that the emperor could bestow, and then he told Clement to choose. The martyr of Christ glanced with scorn at all the emperor's gifts and chose the instruments of torture. Clement was indescribably tortured: piece by piece they removed the flesh from his body so that the white bones showed beneath the flesh. Finally, he was beheaded by a soldier in Ancyra while, as bishop, he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy in church in the year 312 A.D. The miracles of St. Clement are without number.
The Sixth Ecumenical Council [Constantinople, 680 A.D.]
The first session was held in Constantinople in the first half of the year 681 A.D., and the second session was held in the second half of the year 691 A.D. This Council condemned the Monothelite heresy, which erroneously taught that in Christ there was only one divine will and not a human will. Along with this, the Council passed several canons concerning the order and discipline of the clergy.
Saint Paulinus The Merciful
At first, Paulinus was a Roman senator and afterwards, a bishop in Nola. He followed the example of his friend St. Ambrose and received baptism. Following his baptism, Paulinus withdrew to Spain and into the Pyrenees mountains where he lived a life of asceticism. But as no lighted lamp can be hidden, so also St. Paulinus was discovered and elected as Bishop of Nola. He was a good and merciful shepherd. He died peacefully in the year 431 A.D. His relics repose in the Church of St. Bartholomew in Rome.
Compassion has always been a characteristic of a true shepherd of Christ's flock. St. John Chrysostom in his glorious homilies did not emphasize or underscore anything more strongly than compassion. St. John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, wept every day when the opportunity was not given to him to show compassion to someone. St. Paulinus deserved to be called the Merciful, for in truth, he was compassionate in the full Christian sense of that word. Once, when the Vandals looted Nola, they seized many men into slavery. A certain widow whose only son the Vandal Prince Rig had taken into slavery, came to her bishop and, weeping, sought money from him to pay the ransom for her son. Not possessing anything, Bishop Paulinus dressed in the clothes of a simple man and asked the widow to take him before the prince and to exchange him for her son. The prince released the widow's son and took Paulinus with him to Africa where Paulinus served as the prince's gardener until, by God's Providence, he was freed and returned to Nola with the other slaves.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as Healer:
- As a Healer of bodily infirmities;
- As an Exorcist of evil spirits from the insane;
- As a Healer of the human spirit and mind by the light of divine teaching;
- As my own Healer of all pains and evils.
About the angelic state of the saints
"But those who are deemed worthy to attain the comingage - they can no longer die, for they are like angels" (St. Luke 20:35-36).
Thus speaks He Who knows, He Who saw and He Who cannot be deceived. Brethren, what have we to doubt anymore? This testimony is clearer than a summer's noon, harder than diamonds and more precious that all the riches of this world; and this is the testimony: Those who are "deemed worthy" of that world and resurrection "can no longer die" but are immortal as angels of God.
What are the angels like? Those same angels who appeared at the time of Abraham and assisted men are the same ones [angels] who, today, appear and assist men. They are not dead but alive; they have not grown old, but they are young. They are the same ones [angels] who beheld Adam in Paradise and who will behold the Final Resurrection and the Judgment and the Kingdom of the Saints.
The righteous are similar to angels. The apostles, prophets, saints and martyrs live even today and will live always and "no longer can they die." Hundreds and thousands of years pass but they cannot die nor age anymore, rather "they are like angels."
That the righteous will be crowned with immortality, that the Lord testified to us in the above words and showed this by His own resurrection and proved through His glorified saints.
O, my brethren, let us awaken and labor to become worthy to obtain that blessed world!
O, resurrected and immortal Lord, help us to become worthy of Your immortal kingdom in which You reign with Your angels and Your saints throughout the ages of ages!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK