Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. THE HOLY MARTYRS AGATHONICUS, ZOTICUS AND OTHERS WITH THEM
St. Agathonicus was a citizen of Nicomedia and a Christian by faith. With great zeal he converted the Hellenes from idolatry and instructed them in the true Faith. By order of Emperor Maximian, the emperor's deputy cruelly persecuted the Christians. During the persecution, the deputy captured St. Zoticus in a place called Carpe, crucified his disciples and brought Zoticus to Nicomedia where he also captured and bound St. Agathonicus, Princeps, Theoprepius, (Bogoljepa), Acindynus, Severianus, Zeno and many others. Securely bound, they were all taken to Byzantium. However, along the way, Saints Zoticus, Theoprepius and Acindynus died of their many wounds and exhaustion. They killed Severianus near Chalcedon and, Agathonicus with the others were taken to Thrace to the town of Silybria where, after torture before the emperor himself, they were beheaded and entered into eternal life and into the joy of their Lord.
2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR EULALIA
During the time of a terrible persecution against Christians in Spain, there lived a virgin Eulalia, born of Christian parents in the town of Barcelona. Completely dedicated to Christ as her Bridegroom, completely immersed in Holy Scripture, Eulalia ceaselessly disciplined herself in voluntary mortification of the body and spirit. When the torturer Dacian who mercilessly killed the Christians throughout Spain and then came to Barcelona, Eulalia slipped away from her parents at night, came before the torturer and in the presence of many people rebuked him for slaughtering innocent people, along with this ridiculing the lifeless idols and openly confessing her faith in Christ the living Lord. The enraged Dacian ordered that Eulalia be disrobed and beaten with rods. But the holy virgin expressed that she did not feel the pains of the tortures for her Christ. The torturer then bound her to a piece of wood in the form of a cross and ordered that her body be burned with torches. Then the torturer asked her: "Where is your Christ now to save you?" Eulalia answered: "He is here with me but you are unable to see Him because of your impurity." In great pain did Eulalia give up her soul to God. When she died, the people saw a white dove emerge from her mouth. At that moment, snow unexpectedly fell and covered the naked body of the martyr as a white garment. The third day, St. Felix came and sadly wept before Eulalia's hanging body and on the lifeless face of the saint there appeared a smile. Her parents came and, together with other Christians, honorably buried the body of this holy virgin. Eulalia suffered and died for her Lord and entered into eternal joy at the beginning of the fourth century.
3. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR ANTHUSA AND OTHERS WITH HER
Anthusa was the daughter of wealthy but pagan parents from Seleucia in Syria. Learning about Christ, Anthusa believed in Him with all her heart and secretly went to Bishop Athanasius who baptized her. At the time of her baptism, angels of God appeared to her. After that, Anthusa set out for the wilderness to live a life of asceticism for she was afraid to return to her parents. Anthusa lived a life of asceticism in the wilderness for twenty-three years. While praying to God, she gave up her soul kneeling on a stone under which, according to her last testament, she wished to be buried. Bishop Athanasius and two of Anthusa's servants, Charismus and Neophytus, were slain after that because of their faith in Christ at the time of Emperor Valerian about the year 257 A.D. They all died honorably and were crowned with wreaths.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR EULALIA
God's white dove,
And martyr of Christ,
Eulalia, torture desires,
That by torture, to whiten the spirit.
What is the body? A potter's weak clay,
When, from it, the soul breaks forth,
To its own dust, dust returns,
The soul, to the angelic world.
Eulalia bears Christ.
Without sighing, tortures she endures,
Tortures endures, prays to God,
The torturer, to withstand.
And, the dove withstood,
And the martyr conquered.
Her body wounded,
By white snow is covered,
The soul a dove from within her, flies,
To her Creator, it flies,
On her lifeless face,
By white snow covered,
Behold, the smile of the victor,
Behold, the smile of the avenger!
With a smile, she found
And a new life proclaimed.
By the prayers of Eulalia
That God also have mercy on us!
When a man once truly repents, he need not think any more about the sins he committed so that he will not sin again. St. Anthony counsels: "Be careful that your mind not be defiled with the remembrance of former sins and that the remembrance of those sins not be renewed in you." Again, in another place, St. Anthony says: "Do not establish your previously committed sins in your soul by thinking about them so that they not be repeated in you. Be assured that they are forgiven you from the time that you gave yourself to God and repentance. In that, do not doubt." It is said of St. Ammon that he attained such perfection that from much goodness he was not aware that evil exists anymore. When they asked him what is that "narrow and difficult [sorrowful] path" (St. Matthew 7:14), he replied: "That it is the restraining of one's thoughts and severing of one's desires in order to fulfill the will of God." Whoever restrains sinful thoughts, does not think of his own sins or the sins of others neither of anything corruptible nor of anything earthly. The mind of such a man is continually in heaven where there is no evil. Thus, in him, sin gradually ceases to be, even in his thoughts.
To contemplate the wondrous help of God to David (1 Samuel 19 1 Kings 19):
1. How David played the harp before Saul;
2. How an evil spirit attacked Saul and Saul hurled a spear at David in order to kill him;
3. How Saul, even from the closest distance, did not hit David.
About the prophecy of the miracles of Christ
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isaiah 35: 5-6).
Come, brethren, let us be amazed at the power of our living God Who opened the eyes of mortal men to see in the greatest distance of time that which will come to pass. And still to see in the minutest details as though this prophet [Isaiah] himself was an apostle of Christ, walked with the Lord, witnessed the miracles of miracles, how he gives sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the lame to walk and to the dumb, voice and speech. When John the Baptist in prison sent his disciples to ask Christ: "Are You He who is to come or do we look for another?" (St. Matthew 11:3), the Lord Christ answered them in the words of His prophet Isaiah: "Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up "
(St. Matthew 11: 4-5). Look and see how wonderful the Lord planned our salvation! That which was prophesied about Him through His Prophet Isaiah, that is what He fulfilled. At one time, the Prophet Isaiah spoke His words inspired by the Holy Spirit and now He [Jesus Christ] speaks the words of His prophet. At one time, the prophet quoted Him and now He [Jesus Christ] quotes the prophet. To show by this that when He speaks His words or when He speaks the words of the prophet, He always speaks only His words. To show that even then it was He who spoke and not the prophet and that it is now He who speaks and not anyone else and to justify His prophet as His faithful servant so that no one would be able to say that the prophet spoke falsely. Thus, the prophets served to the glory of Christ the Lord and Christ the Lord glorified His prophets, His true servants.
O Lord Jesus, glorified by Your servants and the Glorifier of Your servants, help us also so that by word, deed and thoughts we may be able to serve the majestic glory of Your Name.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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