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Prologue from Ochrid - May 13 [May 26]

1. The Holy Martyr Glykeria.

The daughter of a governor of Rome, she became poor after her father's death and went to live in Trajanopolis in Thrace. In the time of the wicked Emperor Antoninus, Glykeria was brought to offer sacrifice to the idol of Zeus. She traced the Cross on her forehead and, when the governor asked her where was her lamp (for they all carried lamps in their hands), Glykeria indicated the Cross on her forehead and said: 'This is my lamp!' At her prayers, the idol was struck by lightning and broken into pieces. The governor was furious with her and commanded that she be thrown into prison. He sealed the door of the prison, intending to starve the maiden to death, but an angel of God appeared to Glykeria and gave her heavenly food. After a certain time, when the governor reckoned that the maiden must have died of hunger, he opened the prison and was astounded to see her in good health, bright and merry. The warder, Laodicius, seeing this marvel, himself confessed Christ the Lord and was at once beheaded. After that Glykeria was thrown into a burning furnace, but she remained untouched by the flames. Standing in the midst of the fire, she praised the Lord, commemorating the wonder with the Three Children in the burning fiery furnace in Babylon. Finally, she was thrown to the lions and, praying to God, this holy maiden gave her soul into the hands of the Lord for whom she had heroically suffered much torture. She suffered with honour in the year 141. A healing myrrh flowed from her relics, which healed the sick of the gravest illnesses.

2. The Holy Martyr Alexander.

He was a Slav, an eighteen-year-old soldier in the army of the Emperor Maximian. He refused to obey the imperial order to offer sacrifice to the Roman idols, because of which it fell to Captain Tiberian to tell him either to deny Christ or be tortured and killed. As all this advice was in vain, Tiberian arrested him and took him through Macedonia to Constantinople, whither he himself had an errand. In every place, the young Alexander was harshly tortured, but in every place also, Christians came out to him, begging his blessing and encouraging him in his sufferings. His mother, Pimenia, followed him. In the course of this journey, Alexander was many times visited by an angel of God, who eased his pains and encouraged him. In one place called Carasura, the martyr worked a miracle by his prayers: when the soldiers who were escorting him were tormented by thirst, he made a spring of cold water come out of a dry place. On the bank of the river Ergina, Tiberian ordered that the executioner behead Alexander and throw his body into the river. When the executioner swung his axe above Alexander's head, he saw angels of God around him, resplendent with light, and was afraid and stayed his hand. Alexander asked him why he had done this, and he said that he had seen some young men in a nimbus of light surrounding him. Desiring to die and so be united with the Lord, Alexander prayed to God to take the angels away, so that the executioner would not be afraid. And so the executioner completed his work, in 298. Pimenia retrieved the body of her son and gave it burial. There were many hearings at the martyr's grave. After his death, he appeared to his mother and gave her tidings of her own imminent departure to the other world.

3. Our Holy Fathers John, Euthymius, George and Gabriel of Iviron.

They were the founders of the famous Iviron (Georgian) monastery on the Holy Mountain. St John lived in asceticism first in the Lavra of Athanasius, and then founded his own monastery, Iviron. He entered into rest in 998. Euthymius and George translated the Holy

Reflection

Concerning the power of death and the power of the Cross of Christ, St. Athanasius writes: "Whose death ever drove out demons? And whose death have the demons been afraid of as the death of Christ? Where the Name of Christ is only invoked, there, every demon is driven out. Who in such a measure tamed spiritual passions in men that the prostitutes live a chaste life and murderers do not use the sword anymore and the fearful become courageous? If not the Faith of Christ? If not the sign of the Cross? And who else has so convinced men in immortality as the Cross of Christ and the resurrection of the Body of Christ? The death of the Sinless One and the Cross of the Lover of men have brought a greater and more lasting victory than all the earthly kings with many multi-millions of armies. Which army was able to defeat a single demon? Meanwhile, only the mention of the Name of the Crucified One on the Cross peels to flight the army of demons. O, if all Christians would know what treasure they have in the Name of Christ, and what kind of weapon they have in the Cross of Christ!

Contemplation

To contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:

  1. How the apostles, led by the Holy Spirit, travel throughout the whole world without means and without friends;
  2. How they converted the rich and the poor to the Faith of Christ by their word, life and miracles alone.

Homily

About how God uses the unbelievers in order to punish the believers

"Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant" (Jeremiah 25:9).

Is not this a difficult saying? Who can be fed by it? The pagan king, the idolatrous king, the Lord call him His servant. If the servant of God is one who knows the True God and who adheres to the law of God, how then can one be a servant of God who does not know the True God and who does not adhere to the law of God? Truly, the true servant of God is he who knows the True God and who keeps the law of God but when he, to whom God has given the knowledge about Himself and His law, perverts knowing into unknowing and law into lawlessness, then God takes as His servant that ignorant one so as to punish the apostates. For, an apostate from god is worse than a pagan and an apostate from the law of God is lower than an idolater by birth.

Therefore, when Israel, as the ancient Church of God, alienated itself from God and the law of God, God chose Nebuchadrezzar for His servant to punish Israel, the Apostate.

Therefore, when the Christian peoples in Asia and Africa through numerous heresies alienated themselves from God, God took as His servant the Arabs to punish Christians in order to bring them to their senses.

And when the Christian peoples in the Balkans alienated themselves from God and God's law, God invited the Turks as His servants to punish the apostates that by punishment to bring them to their senses.

Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the faithful consciously and willingly turn away from God, so the unbelievers unconsciously and unwillingly become servants of God; the whip of God.

But God takes the unbelievers only temporarily in His service against the believers. For the land of Nebuchadrezzar, the same Lord says, He will visit it for its lawlessness and "make it perpetual desolations" (Jeremiah 25:12), then will a servant against a servant be found? For God did not take the Babylonians for a servant because of their goodness and faith, rather because of Israel's wickedness and unbelief.

O Righteous Lord, help us by Your Spirit Most-high, to always adhere to You, the One, True God and Your acon saving law.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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