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Prologue from Ochrid - June 5 [June 18]

1. The Hieromartyr Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre.

He was Bishop of Tyre from the time of Diocletian right up to the time of Julian the Apostate, under whom he was tortured and suffered for the Orthodox faith. He lived on earth to the age of 107, and, being pleasing to God, entered into eternal life in 361. He was a great scholar and wrote many learned books both in Greek and Latin.

2. Our Holy Father Theodore the Hermit, the Wonderworker.

He purified his heart by long asceticism in the Jordan wilderness and received from God the gift of wonderworking. When he was at one time travelling by ship from Constantinople, his ship went off course and there was no drinking water left in her. When all the travellers were close to death from thirst, Theodore raised his arms to heaven, prayed to God and made the sign of the Cross over the sea. He then told the sailors to draw water from the sea and drink it; and, when they did so, they found the water fresh. They all began to pay homage to Theodore, but he begged them to thank, not him, but the Lord God, who had performed that wonder out of His love for mankind. He died peacefully in 583.

3. Our Holy Father Anoub.

One of the great Egyptian monks, he suffered greatly for the true Faith. When, at the time of his death, three old hermits visited him, he, gifted with discernment, revealed to them all the secrets of their hearts. He died peacefully some time in the second half of the 5th century.

4. Blessed Igor, Prince of Chernigov and Kiev.

Persecuted by his kinsfolk, he left the world and became a monk. The citizens of Kiev, disgusted with the Olgovitch dynasty, determined to exterminate it. They hurried to the monastery, seized the young and innocent schema-monk and killed him. For this evil-doing, much misfortune fell on the inhabitants of Kiev, but candles were several times seen to light of themselves on the grave of this blessed monk, and a fiery column appeared over the church were he was buried. This was in 1147.

5. Our Holy Father Peter of Korisa.

He was born in the village of Korisa, in sight of the monastery of St Mark near Prizren (others suggest a village near Pec). As a young man, he ploughed with a one-eyed ox. He was unusually meek and mild of temper. With his sister Helena, he early began ascetic practices, and lived long in strict asceticism. He showed himself the victor in difficult struggles with diabolical temptations. Many monks gathered round him, and he was guide to them all. Fleeing the praise of men, he hid for a time by the Black River, where St Janik of Devic later lived in asceticism. He entered into rest in old age in his cave at Korisa. The night of his death, the light of many candles was seen in his cave, and an angelic choir was heard. King Dugan built a church over his wonderworking relics, which became a dependency of Hilandar. In more recent times, St Peter's relics were taken to the Black River, where they are preserved to this day.

6. Blessed Constantine, Metropolitan of Kiev.

In the days of the blessed Prince Igor, when there was great unrest and intrigue among the princes of Russia, there was also disorder in the Church and frequent changes of hierarch. Thus, after the death of Metropolitan Michael of Kiev, Prince Izyaslav took a learned monk, Klim, as Metropolitan, not seeking the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople as had been the custom from the earliest times. The Patriarch sent this Metropolitan Constantine to investigate the matter, and Constantine deposed Klim and exiled all the priests whom he had ordained. This led to a division among the people, some upholding Klim and some Constantine. Then, at the request of the princes, the Patriarch sent a third, Theodore, and both Klim and Constantine were removed. When Constantine died, in 1159, his will was opened. In it he had written that he was not to be buried, but cast out for the dogs to eat, for he saw himself as guilty of having sown discord in the Church. Not daring to go against his wishes, but with great fear notwithstanding, they took his body and threw it outside, where it lay for three days. During these three days, there was terrible thunder over Kiev; lightning flashed, thunderbolts dropped and there were earth tremors. Eight people were killed by lightning, and three fiery columns were seen above Constantine's body. Seeing all this, the Prince of Kiev ordered that his body be taken and buried in the church in which Igor's tomb was situated, and the natural world immediately became calm. Thus God justified His humble servant.

Reflection

Do not ever violate the fast on Wednesday and Friday. This fast is commanded by the Church and is well explained. If you have ever in your life violated this fast, pray to God that He forgives you and sin no more. The holy and pious men do not consider themselves dispensed from this fast either during a journey, much less even in sickness. St. Pachomius met some men carrying a corpse and he saw two angels in the funeral procession. He prayed to God to reveal to him the mystery of the presence of the angels at the burial of this man. What good did this man do that the holy angels of God accompanied him in procession to the grave? According to God's Providence, both angels approached Pachomius and, in this manner, explained to him: "One of the angels is the angel of Wednesday and the other is the angel of Friday. Seeing how this man always, even until death, fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays so we are honorably accompanying his body. As he, until death, kept the fast, so we are glorifying him."

Contemplation

To contemplate the miraculous healing of the paralytic: "And, behold they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy: ' Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you' " (St. Matthew 9:2):

  1. How the good Lord restored health to the paralytic saying to him: "Arise and walk!" (St. Matthew 9:6);
  2. How the Church brings my palsied [paralytic] soul before the Lord, that the Lord may restore it to health if only I desire it.

Homily

About the justification of almsgiving

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it" (Proverbs 3:27).

The Lord does not deny you that which you need, neither should you deny the man whom the Lord has sent to encounter you in order to test your heart. If a beggar extends his hand to you for help once in your life, give to him and do not refuse. Remember how many years there are in your life and how many are the hours in a day and how many are the minutes in an hour-every minute of so many, many thousands of days you extend your hand to the Lord and the Lord gives and does not refuse. Remember the mercy of God and your lack of mercy will burn you as a live coal and it will never give you any peace until you repent and soften your heart.

Do not ever say: "These beggars annoy me!" So many millions of men live on earth and all are beggars before the Lord; emperors as well as laborers, the wealthy as well as servants, all are beggars before the Lord and the Lord never said: "These beggars annoy me!" O man, give thanksgiving to God that someone seeks something good from you, be it material, or spiritual! This means that you are a man of God's trust: God has entrusted some of His goods to you because all goods belong to God. Show yourself worthy of this trust, show yourself worthy in lesser things so that you may be entrusted with greater things.

O Lord, most rich, soften our hearts and enlighten our understanding that we may be merciful in the goods which You, the All-merciful, have entrusted to us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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