The following are the daily readings of The Prologue from Ohrid - a literary work compiled by St. Nikolai of Zica (Velimirovic). Bishop Nikolai is often called the "Serbian Chrysostom" for his theological wisdom and articulateness. His work is a compilation of lives of saints, hymns, reflections, and homilies. It was originally written in Serbian. The Prologue in Serbian (Srpski/Српски) - Daily Prologue (Пролог)
1. SAINT PARTHENIUS, BISHOP OF LAMPSACUS
Parthenius was the son of a deacon from the town of Melitopolis. As a child he remembered well the words of the Gospel and endeavored to fulfill them. He settled in the area of a lake where he fished. He then sold the fish and distributed the money to the poor. By God's Providence he was chosen as bishop of Lampsacus. He cleansed the town of paganism, closed the idolatrous temples, built many churches and strengthened the faithful in the Faith. Through prayer, he healed every manner of illness and he was particularly powerful over evil spirits. On one occasion when he wanted to cast out an evil spirit from an insane man, the evil spirit begged him not to do so. Parthenius said to him: "I will give you another man into whom you can enter and in him, you can dwell." The evil spirit asked him: "Who is this man?" "I am that man," replied the saint, "enter and dwell in me!" Upon hearing this, the evil spirit fled as though burned by fire crying out: "How can I enter into the house of God!" St. Parthenius lived a long time and through his work manifested an abundant love for God and man. Parthenius entered into the eternal rest of Christ in the fourth century.
2. THE VENERABLE LUKE OF HELLAS
Luke was born in Castoria. Even as a child, he never desired to taste meat and always conducted his life in chastity and in prayer. At one time, Luke entered a field to sow grains of wheat, but along the way he distributed a greater portion of the grains of wheat to the poor and the lesser portion which was left over, he planted. From that lesser amount of seeds of wheat, God gave him a greater harvest than had previously come from the entire amount. After that, Luke left his widowed mother and entered a monastery. The grieving mother prayed earnestly to God to reveal to her the secret where her son could be found. God heard the prayers of the mother. The abbot of that monastery, where Luke had fled, dreamed on three consecutive nights that a certain woman sharply rebuked him because he took away her only son. The abbot then ordered Luke to immediately return to his mother. Luke went, visited with his mother and once again, parted from her without returning. He atoned on "Mount Johannitsa," near Corinth. At night he prayed to God and during the day he worked in the garden and in the field, not for his sake but for the sake of the indigent and the visitors. However, Luke fed only on bread made of barley. God bestowed upon him the gift of working miracles. Luke died peacefully in the year 946 A.D. From time to time, Chrism [oil] flowed from his relics.
3. THE VENERABLE MASTRIDIA
Mastridia lived in Jerusalem where she led an austere life of asceticism. A certain young man fell in love with her and began to annoy her. In order to save herself and this young man from sin, Mastridia took a small basket of moistened berries and retreated into the wilderness. She spent seventeen years in the wilderness and during the entire time, by the power of God, neither did she lace berries, which she brought, nor did her clothing wear out. Mastridia died peacefully about the year 580 A.D.
4. THE ONE-THOUSAND THREE MARTYRS AT NICOMEDIA
They all suffered from Christ during the reign of Emperor Diocletian.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY MARTYRS AT NICOMEDIA
The city of Nicomedia, as a star, shines,
As Venus, the star; the eastern throne.
But, one day, by the will of Duclianus,
Four courtiers were beheaded,
Eusebius, Vasa, Eutychius, Courageous
And wonderful Basilides, by glory unfaded,
For the Name of Christ, were beheaded
And by this, Nicomedia was darkened.
Those four heads, the end of the horror were not
But only the first blossoms of the mown grass:
A thousand slaves; servants, obedient ones,
The four martyrs, that faithfully served,
A thousand as one and, three more,
Created a clamor, as though they drank wine.
No, not wine did they drink, but the truth intoxicated them,
And the Blood and the victory of the Son of God.
O emperor ungodly; we, also, are Christians,
We also are Christians, do whatever you will!
And to go there, we desire
Where our Blessed Master went
O wonderful daring! O wonderful fidelity!
But, the emperor's cruelty, this did not abate,
And a thousand souls departed the earth,
To them opened wide the Gates of Paradise.
St. Isidore of Pelusium interprets certain words of Holy Scripture in this manner: "Two [women] will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left" (St. Matthew 24:4). This means that many are dedicating themselves to the spiritual life, but with different intentions; some sincerely and steadfastly and others negligently and vainly. The first will be taken into the kingdom of God and the others will be left behind. What does the prayer of the Cup mean? And why did the Lord pray that this cup of Suffering pass from Him? "O My Father, if this Cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done!" (St. Matthew 26:42). This means that no one should seek out adversity but when adversity does come, a Christian should accept it and courageously endure it. Concerning the Five Foolish Virgins (St. Matthew, Chapter 25), St. Isidore says: "Indeed, all of them had retained their virginity, but they did not possess the other virtues, especially charity. Virginity alone is not sufficient to enter the kingdom of God. Virginity does not help at all, if the virgin is proud and selfish.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Sower:
1. As a Sower whose seed grows slowly and surely;
2. As a Sower of the new teaching, new power and new order;
3. As a Sower of the new spiritual food by which mankind will be fed until the end of time.
About the narrow-minded, to whom crime is closer than the love of God
"But you seek to kill Me because My word has no place in you" (St. John 8:37).
Why was the word of Christ unable to prevail among the Jewish elders? Because they were so filled with malice that there was no room in them for the divine seed; for the divine good news. All that grew in their souls was the sowing of Satan, the Antichrist. That is why they sought to kill Christ. Through the Blessed Psalmist, the Lord speaks: "Empty yourselves, [desist] and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Therefore, it is necessary to empty oneself of everything that is opposed to God, i.e., of everything in us that hinders the light of knowledge of God from dwelling in us. When man empties himself of that, then and only then, can he understand that God is God. As long as the soul of man is filled with anti-godly thoughts, anti-godly feelings and anti-godly desires, until then, the soul of man is totally unable to listen or to receive the word of God. Whoever does not have God within him, that one acts by some infernal impulse to uproot God from the soul of him who possesses Him [God]. "You seek to kill Me." Why? Because not one divine word of Christ was able to find shelter nor acceptance in their godless hearts. Having nothing in common with Christ the Lord, the Jewish elders, from the beginning, were unable to have any kind of friendly relations with Him.
O Lord Jesus, our Blessed Savior, help us to empty ourselves of all sinful seeds in us, that Your holy word may be able to enter into us and to enlighten, strengthen and resurrect us.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.