Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. The Venerable Euphrosyne
Euphrosyne was the daughter of Paphnutius, a wealthy and distinguished man of Alexandria. Her childless parents had besought God with prayer for the birth of a child, and they were given her. Her devout parents raised their daughter in the Christian Faith. Not wanting to enter into marriage, the young Euphrosyne hid from her father, changed into men's clothing, and presented herself to the abbot of a monastery as a eunuch of Emperor Theodosius, giving the name Smaragdus. The abbot received her, and turned her over to the spiritual father Agapitus for guidance. By her fasting and prayerful asceticism, Smaragdus quickly surpassed all the monks in that monastery. When she had completed thirty-eight years of strict asceticism, her father Paphnutius visited that monastery, and the abbot directed him to Smaragdus for prayer and counsel. Smaragdus recognized Paphnutius, but Paphnutius did not recognize Smaragdus. When the father confessed his grief for his lost daughter, Smaragdus told him not to lose hope, for he would see his daughter again in this life, and besought him to come again within three days. When Paphnutius came again, Smaragdus was on her deathbed. The dying one said to Paphnutius: ``I am Euphrosyne, your daughter; you are my father!'' For a long time, the father was unable to come to himself due to his severe shock. Then, the Blessed Euphrosyne breathed her last, and her father wept over her. After burying her, Paphnutius himself entered the monastery, and settled in the cell of his holy, reposed daughter. After ten years of asceticism, Paphnutius also entered into rest in the Lord.
2. The Venerable Sergius of Radonezh
Sergius was a great ascetic and light of the Russian Church. He was born in 1313, in Rostov, of devout parents, Cyril and Maria. After his parents' deaths, Bartholomew-for that was his baptismal name-became a monk, and founded the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the forests of Radonezh. As a quiet and gentle servant of God, he knew only labor and prayer. Because of the purity of his heart he was made worthy of the gift of miracle-working, even resurrecting the dead in the name of Christ. The Holy Theotokos appeared to him many times. Princes and bishops came to him for advice. He blessed Prince Dimitri Donskoy, and foretold his victory in the battle for the liberation of Russia from the Tartars. He saw into the hearts of men as well as future events. His monastery was full of monks, even during his lifetime and, century after century, has been one of the most important centers of spiritual life and God's miracles. St. Sergius entered into rest in the year 1392. Following his repose, he appeared many times to various people.
3. The Venerable Euphrosyne of Suzdal
Euphrosyne's baptismal name was Theodula. She was the daughter of Michael Vsevolodovich, and the betrothed of Menas, the Prince of Suzdal. She did not at all desire to marry, and prayed to God to preserve her as a virgin until death. When they took her to Suzdal to be married, her betrothed, Menas, suddenly died. Euphrosyne did not return to the home of her parents but entered a convent, where she labored in asceticism until her repose. God endowed her with the gift of working miracles. She entered into rest in the year 1250.
HYMN OF PRAISE
An example of prayerful meekness
A saint does not shine outwardly. All of his riches are within, in his soul. A peasant came from afar to the monastery to see St. Sergius. When he asked the monks for the abbot, they told him he was working in the garden. The peasant went to the garden, and there saw a man in poor, ragged clothes, digging like any other peasant on a farm. The peasant returned to the monastery dissatisfied, thinking that the monks had made fun of him. So, to make things clear, he asked again for the glorious holy father, Sergius. Just then, Sergius returned to the monastery, and welcomed the peasant, serving him at the table. The saint saw into the heart of his guest, and knew the low opinion he had of his appearance. He consoled him by promising that he would see Sergius in a little while. A prince and his boyars then arrived at the monastery, and they all bowed low to St. Sergius, and asked his blessing. The monks then removed the peasant from the room in order to make room for the new guests. In amazement the peasant looked on from a distance, to see that the one he had sought had been nearby all the time. The peasant rebuked himself for his ignorance, and was greatly ashamed. When the prince departed, the peasant quickly approached the saint, fell at his feet and began to beg his forgiveness. The great saint embraced him and said to him: ``Do not grieve, my son, for you are the only one who knew the truth about me, considering me to be nothing-while others were deluded, taking me for something great.''
Contemplate the righteousness and sin of King Joash, and God's reward and punishment (II Chronicles 24):
All things that the Father hath are Mine (John 16:15).
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