Prologue from Ochrid - March 10 [March 23]
1. The Holy Martyr Codratus of Corinth, and others with him.
In a time of persecution of Christians, many of the faithful fled to the mountains and caves. The mother of this Codratus did so. She was pregnant just at that time, and gave birth to Codratus in a forest, dying almost at once. He was kept safe and fed by the providence of God and his guardian angel. Codratus grew up in solitude with nature. He who gave manna from heaven to the Israelites in the wilderness released a sweet dew from a cloud onto the mouth of the child Codratus. When he was twelve years old, he went down to the town, and there some good people took a fancy to him and educated him. He studied medicine and then began to heal the sick, using both natural medicines and, more importantly, the spiritual power and prayer which had been with him from childhood. When a new persecution arose under Decius, Codratus was taken for trial and thrown into prison. Five of his friends stood beside him and confessed the name of Christ. They were: Cyprian, Dionysius, Anectus, Paul and Crescens. They were all dragged through the streets and struck with sticks and stones by the unbelievers, especially by the children, until they arrived at the scaffold. Here the martyrs prayed to God and were beheaded with the sword. A spring of water gushed out onto the earth at the spot, which to this day is called by Codratus's name and commemorates the heroic death for Christ of the holy six. They suffered with honour for the truth in Corinth in the year 250, in the time of the Emperor Decius and his governor Jason.
2. The Holy Martyr Codratus of Nicomedia.
He was a rich nobleman and also a convinced and baptised Christian. In a time of persecution, when Valerian shut up many Christians in jail, Codratus bribed the warder and went into the prison to bring the captives food and uphold them in their faith. When they were brought before the judge and questioned about their names, place of origin and status, they were silent. Then Codratus appeared behind them and shouted at the top of his voice: 'By name, we are Christians; servants of Jesus Christ the Lord by office and birth, and our city and place of origin is heaven.' After this declaration he was brought to trial, and after long and harsh torture was beheaded along with the others.
3. Our Holy Mother Anastasia.
A patrician, she was a lady-in-waiting at the court of the Emperor Justinian. When she was widowed, and saw that the Empress Theodora could not abide her, she suddenly disappeared from Constantinople and took herself off to the Egyptian desert. A famous spiritual guide, Abba Daniel, tonsured her and presented her as the castrated monk Anastasius, by her wish, so that she might, as a woman under a man's name, more easily evade the imperial searchers. Anastasia shut herself in a narrow cell, where she spent 28 years and where she entered into rest in the year 563. Before her death, the elder Daniel saw her face shining like the sun.
When the forty-two Greek commanders from Ammoria were in Agaha's prison [refer to March 6], certain Muslim sages came to counsel them to embrace the faith of Mohammed and thereby receive their freedom. These sages stressed to these Christian commanders the two advantages of Islam over Christianity: First: Mohammed is a more recent prophet than Christ and, Second: the Muslims were victorious on all sides over Christianity by which God clearly points out the truth of their religion. To the first point, the commanders replied, "If two men are debating over a field, and one has many witnesses that the field is his and the other does not have any witnesses except his own personal statement, what do you think? Whose field is it?" To this the Agha's men replied, "By all means, the field is his who had many witnesses." To that, the commanders replied, "By yourselves you have judged in favor of Christ and against Mohammed for Christ had with Him the witnesses of all the Prophets and Apostles, but Mohammed alone witnesses to himself." To the second point, the commanders replied, "If you would gauge the truth of a faith by victories in wars, then this would mean that all the idolatrous nations, who from time to time have conquered the world, such as the Persians, Greeks, Romans and others, possessed the true faith. This, even you Muslims would never acknowledge. And because you have been victorious over the Christians now, this does not mean that your faith is better; rather, that our sins are greater and because of this, God punishes us, through you."
To contemplate the Lord Jesus at judgment before Caiaphas:
- How the elders of the Jews searched everywhere for false witnesses;
- How the witnesses testified to the contrary;
- How our Lord listened to all the slanders and remained silent and without anger.
About revealed secrets
"Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed nor secret that will not be made known" (St. Matthew 10:26).
There is one eye, brethren, which never sleeps. That is the eye of God. There are more eyes in the heavens, brethren, than there are stars in the firmament of heaven. They are the eyes of the angels. No veil nor any wall nor darkness can conceal any kind of secret on earth from these eyes. Everything is revealed and open before the All-Seeing God and His Holy Angels. The man who believes that all the works of man can be hidden becomes a criminal. Thus thought the elders of the Jews who arranged and plotted in secrecy their evil plot against Christ the Lord. Secretly they persecuted Him; secretly they judged Him in the darkness of night; and secretly they bribed and paid false witnesses. And, as did Judas, they secretly condemned Him. Where are their secrets today? All have become revealed and open before the entire world. It is easier for man to hide from the air than from the sight of God. All the secrets of mankind, both, the good and evil, are revealed before God. A countless number of those secrets God reveals to the entire world according to His Providence. Those who can understand this truth, that God sees all and knows all, carefully guard themselves from evil thoughts in the secret of their hearts and especially from evil deeds. Whenever your heart entices you to do evil, O man, call to mind these words which are not of man but of God, "Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed nor secret that will not be made known." And you, whatever good you do in secret, do not become faint-hearted. All of your good is written in the heavens and will be revealed in its time.
O, All-Seeing Lord, help us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK