Prologue from Ochrid - June 21 [July 4]
1. The Holy Martyr Julian of Tarsus.
Of a noble senatorial family, he lived in Tarsus in Cilicia and suffered in the reign of Diocletian. Although only eighteen years old when he was taken for trial for the Faith, St Julian was already both educated and resolute in Christian faith and devotion. The imperial governor took him from city to city for a whole year, torturing him all the while and attempting to persuade him to renounce Christ. Julian's mother followed her son at a distance. When the governor seized her and sent her to urge her son to renounce Christ, she spent three days in the prison with him, giving him precisely the opposite advice, teaching him and giving him the strength not to lose heart but to go to his death with courage and gratitude to God. His torturers then sewed Julian into a sack of sand with scorpions and snakes and threw him into the sea, and his mother also died under torture. The waves carried his body onto the shore, and the faithful took it to Alexandria, where they buried it in 290. His relics were later taken to Antioch. St John Chrysostom himself gave an eulogy for the holy martyr Julian: 'A holy voice comes forth from the lips of the martyr, and with this voice is poured out a light brighter than the rays of the sun.' He said further: 'Take whomsoever you will, be he a madman or one possessed, and lead him to the grave of this saint, to the martyr's relics, and you will see the demon immediately jump out and flee as from blazing fire.' It is evident from this speech that many wonders must have been wrought at St Julian's grave.
2. Our Holy Fathers Julius and Julian.
Greek-born brothers, they were brought up from their youth in the Christian faith, and vowed to live in perpetual virginity and the service of the Church. Julius was a priest and Julian a deacon. They received an imperial decree from the Emperor Theodosius the Younger to destroy the idols throughout the whole Empire and build Christian churches. Like two apostles, these two brothers turned pagans into Christians in the East and the West, and built a hundred churches during their lifetime. They entered peacefully into the Lord's rest near Milan, the inhabitants of which city invoke St Julius's help against wolves.
3. The Holy Martyr Archil II, King of Georgia.
He was the son of King Stephen and grandson of the great Georgian King Wachtang. An outstanding Christian and defender of Christianity, King Archil was tortured by the Moslems and beheaded for Christ on March 20th, 744. He was eighty years old when he suffered for the Lord and entered into eternal blessedness.
4. The Holy Martyr Luarsab II, Prince of Kartli.
A prince of Georgia, he was the son of George X, who suffered for the Faith and was poisoned by the King of Persia. Luarsab was then thrown into prison near Shiraz, where he languished for seven years. Then he and his two servants were hanged in the prison yard on the orders of Shah Abbas I, on June 21st 1662. A heavenly light was seen over his grave.
When a man begins to train himself in keeping silent, silence to him seems to be lesser than speech; but when he is trained in silence then he knows that speech is lesser than silence. A monk said to St. Sisoes: "I would like to preserve my heart but I cannot," to which the elder responded: "How can we preserve the heart when the gate to our heart the tongue stands open?" Charillos, the nephew of Lycurgus, was once asked why his uncle issued so few laws. He replied: "For those who speak little, many laws are not needed."
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the blind Bartimeus: "And they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a very great crowd, Bartimeus, a blind man the son of Timeus, was sitting by the wayside begging" (St. Mark 10:46):
- How Bartimeus cried out to the Lord with faith for healing and the Lord healed him;
- How, even I, blinded in the soul sit by the road which the Lord passes by and, if I cry out to Him, He will heal me.
About sowing and reaping
"He who sows iniquity reaps calamity [suffering]" (Proverbs 22:8).
If you commit an iniquity, perhaps suffering [calamity] may pass you by the very day when you commit the iniquity but suffering [calamity] has heard the voice of iniquity and unavoidably will come in its day.
Some sowing is sweet and some sowing is bitter. Some sowing resembles life but the fruit and reaping of that sowing is death.
Pay attention and learn from Holy Scripture: Eve sowed iniquity through disobedience and pain in childbirth befell her.
Cain sowed iniquity through fratricide and pain and sleepless wandering throughout the earth befell him.
Sodom and Gomorrah sowed iniquity and reaped the pain of a horrible death.
The sons of Eli the High Priest sowed iniquity for they committed a desecration along side the Ark of the Covenant and they reaped suffering for they bitterly lost their lives in battle.
Call to mind Saul, his iniquity and his sufferings. Then again, call to mind Ahab and Jezebel. And again, call to mind Herod and Judas. Then again, call to mind today and yesterday and the days before yesterday and every other day gone by and listen to the words of every day: "He who sows iniquity reaps calamity [suffering]!" Is there a village in the world in which this teaching is not put before its eyes? Is there a roof which, beneath it, does not conceal such a teaching? Is there any living man who has not witnessed this teaching in the living examples around him?
O All-wise Lord, if we did not know Your will we would be less responsible.
But since You gave us to know Your will, O All-merciful One, grant us the strength to fulfill it throughout all the days of our lives. uo
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK