Prologue from Ochrid - January 2 [January 15]
1. St Sylvester, Bishop of Rome.
Born in Rome, he was skilled from his early years in secular learning and in Christian doctrine, and his life was always governed by the precepts of the Gospel. He made good use of the tuition of a priest, Timothy, whose death for the Faith he witnessed, and, seeing the example of his teacher's self-sacrifice, nourished himself in that same spirit for the rest of his life.
He became Bishop of Rome at the age of thirty, and reformed certain Christian customs; abolishing, for example, the Saturday fast that had up to that time been the rule among some Christians, and decreeing that only Great Saturday and those Saturdays that fall within fasting seasons should be so observed.
By his prayers and miracles, he was instrumental in the conversion and baptism of the Emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena, and assisted Queen Helena in the finding of the Holy Cross. He governed the Church for twenty years, and, finishing with honor his earthly life, entered into the heavenly Kingdom in the year 335.
2. Our Holy Father Seraphim of Sarov.
He was one of the greatest Russian ascetics and wonderworkers, with profound spiritual discernment. Born in 1759, he departed this life in 1833. He was distinguished by a great humility. When being praised by all the world, he referred to himself as "the poor wretch Seraphim".
3. St Theodota.
The mother of the holy brothers Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers. She lived a life pleasing to God, and brought up her sons to do the same.
4. Our Holy Father Ammon of Tabennisi.
He was a great ascetic of the fifth century and had charge of the Tabennisiot monastery in Upper Egypt, about 3,000 monks living in asceticism under his direction. He had the blessed gifts of wonderworking and spiritual discernment. When one of his monks asked him for counsel, he said to him in reply: 'Be as a transgressor in prison and ask repeatedly, as he would: "When will the Judge appear?" So thou also, ask thou this with fear.'
How do you respond to those who say that Christ the Miracle-worker cannot fit in our logic? Simply reply: You fit into His logic. In His logic, all eternity fits and all the nobleness of time and, then, if you wish, a place will be found even for you. If a barrel cannot fit into a thimble, you can fit a thimble into a barrel. Blessed Clement of Alexandria says; "Philosophers are children until they become men though Christ. For truth is never thinking only." Christ came to correct man and, therefore, men's logic. He is our Logos and our Logic. That is why we must direct our reason toward Him and not Him toward our reason. He is the corrector of our reason. The sun is not regulated according to our clock, but our clock is regulated according to the sun.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Divine Word [The Logos]:
- How the Triune God created everything by His Word, i.e., by Christ the Lord;
- How senseless is every man, who distances himself from Christ, the Word of God, and in whom there is no Christ.
"Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).
Of all that exists on the four corners of the earth, what, O mortal man, can make us proud except stupidities and demonic illusions. Did we not enter into the world naked and wretched and are we not going to depart this world in the same manner? Everything that we have, did we not borrow it; and by our death, are we not going to return everything? Oh, how many times has this been said and overheard? The wise apostle says, "For we have brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it " (I Timothy 6:7). And, when we offer sacrifice to God of ordinary bread and wine, we say, "Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee" (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). For nothing that we have in this world is ours: not even a crumb of bread nor a drop of wine; nothing that is not of God. In truth, pride is the daughter of stupidity, the daughter of a darkened mind, born of evil ties with the demons.
Pride is a broad window through which all of our merits and good works evaporate. Nothing makes us so empty before men and so unworthy before God as does pride. When the Lord is not proud, why should we be proud? Who has more reason to be proud than the Lord, Who created the world and Who sustains it by His power? And behold, He humbles himself as a servant, a servant to the whole world: a servant even to the death, to the death on the Cross!
O humble Lord, burn up within our hearts the devil's sowing of pride with the fire of Your Holy Spirit, and plant within it the noble sowing of humility and meekness.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK