The Prologue from Ohrid: June 22
1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR EUSEBIUS, BISHOP OF
Eusebius was a great exposer of Arianism. When the throne of Antioch became
vacant, Meletius was elected patriarch at the insistence of Eusebius. Meletius
was a great beacon of the Church who, after his death, was found worthy of great
praise by St. John Chrysostom. However, the Arians quickly banished Meletius
from Antioch. When Constantine's pernicious son Constantius died another much
worse than he was crowned, Julian the Apostate. During the time of Julian's
persecution of Christians, St. Eusebius removed his clerical attire and donned a
soldier's uniform so that, under the guise of a soldier, he visited the
persecuted Church throughout Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine strengthening the
Orthodox Faith everywhere and installing the necessary priests and deacons and
other clergy and, in some places, bishops. Following the stormy death of
Julian, St. Eusebius counseled Meletius to convene a Council in Antioch in 361
A.D. at which twenty-seven hierarchs were present and the Arian heresy was
condemned once more and the Faith of Orthodoxy was proclaimed in the same manner
as it was expressed at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicea 325 A.D]. Along with
Meletius and Eusebius, St. Pelagius of Laodicea the famous ascetic and chaste
one, made a great impact at the Council of Antioch. This Council was held
during the reign of the pious Emperor Jovian. However, Emperor Jovian soon died
and the wicked Valens was crowned and again the persecution of Orthodoxy ensued.
St. Meletius was exiled to Armenia, Eusebius exiled to Thrace and Pelagius
exiled to Arabia. After Valens, Gratian was crowned emperor and it was he who
granted freedom to the Church and recalled the exiled hierarchs to their former
sees. Thus, they returned: Meletius to Antioch, Eusebius to Samosata and
Pelagius to Laodicea. At this time, many dioceses and many parishes were
widowed and Eusebius zealously hurried to find and to give to the people
canonical shepherds. When he came to the town of Doliche to enthrone the newly
elected bishop Marinus and to denounce the heresy of Arius, which was strong in
this town, a fanatical heretic hurled a ceramic tile at Eusebius' head and
mortally wounded him. This great zealot, saint and martyr of Orthodoxy died to
live eternally in the blessedness of Paradise. He suffered in the year 379 A.D.
2. THE HOLY MARTYRS ZENO AND ZENAS
Zeno was a Roman officer in the Arabian town of Philadelphia and Zenas was
his servant. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of
Emperor Maximian, St. Zeno boldly appeared before Commander Maximus, confessed
his faith in the One Living God and counseled Maximus that, he too, renounce
lifeless idols and embrace the only True Faith. The commander became enraged
and cast Zeno into prison. When the faithful Zenas visited his master in
prison, he also was seized and arrested. Both of them were tortured for Christ
and finally thrown into the fire that the pagans had doused with oil. Their
souls were crowned with wreaths in the Kingdom of Christ and their bodily
remains were interred in the Church of St. George at the place called
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT EUSEBIUS SAINT MELETIUS SAINT PELAGIUS
The Church is never without shepherds,
Neither without suffering nor without heroes.
When the sharp sword flashes in a Goliath manner,
Resistance offered, the Shepherd of Samosata,
Eusebius and Meletius with him,
As two stars the third: Pelagius.
Zealots of Holy Orthodoxy,
Glorious saints of God's Church.
Suffering for Christians, there was at that time,
On both sides, bitter sufferings,
On one side, the wild heretics
On the other side, the insane emperors.
To preserve the soul, it was difficult
And the truth of God, to withstand,
Against lies and against violence,
Amidst the tares, very little sweet basil there was,
A little, a little immortelle and feather grass!
Three hierarchs three fragrant flowers:
Enough honey for all the poison of the world.
Eusebius as a zealot began
And his life as a martyr ended.
Eusebius, as a high priest,
God's chosen one, bless us!
Why does the good Lord permit assaults and sufferings on the True Faith
while He permits the pleasure of tranquility to heresies and paganism? Why?
Even St. John Chrysostom asks and immediately replies: "So that you would
recognize their weakness (the weakness of the heresies and paganism) when you
see that they disintegrate on their own without any disturbance and also to be
convinced in the power of faith which endures misfortunes and even multiplies
through its adversaries." "Therefore, if we quarrel with the pagans
or with the wretched Jews, it is sufficient to emphasize as evidence of divine
power that the Faith (Christianity) which was subjected to countless struggles
maintained victory" even when the entire world stood against her [the
Church]. St. Isaac the Syrian says: "The wondrous love of God toward man
is recognized when man is in misfortunes that are destroying his hope. Here,
God manifests His power for his [man's] salvation. For man never recognizes the
power of God in tranquility and freedom."
To contemplate the miraculous dumbness of Zacharias the high-priest: "And
behold, you shall be dumb and unable to speak until the day when these things
come to pass, because you have not believed my words which will be fulfilled in
their proper time" (St. Luke 1:20):
1. How Zacharias did not believe the angel of God that the old womb of his
wife [Elizabeth] could conceive and give birth and how, because of that he was
struck dumb according to the words of the angel;
2. How, even I am, as though struck dumb when I cannot sufficiently speak
about God's miracles because my faith is small.
About how the slothful man excuses himself
"The slothful man says: A lion is outside; in the streets I
might be slain!" (Proverbs 22:13).
In order to justify his slothfulness, the slothful man emphasizes the
difficulties and obstacles of a certain task and magnifies them beyond measure.
If a man annoys him, he will say that the entire village annoys him; if the
leaves rustle, he will justify that he is unable to go to work because of a
storm; if a rabbit is in front of his house, he will say it is a lion! He says
this in order not to leave the house and to delay his work.
Slothfulness is completely contrary to the nature of man. The nature of man
is activity; the nature of man seeks to be occupied, to work and to build.
Slothfulness is the sure sign of a distortion of the nature of man. That
slothfulness is a terrible vice is clear in that an active man is never envious
of the slothful man, while the slothful man is envious of the active man; in the
same manner a sober man is not envious of the drunk, while the drunk is envious
of the sober man.
O Lord, ever-active Creator, save us from the dull and sinful slothfulness
by which we distance ourselves from our primordial nature [created] from Your
image and likeness, Master of all things! Inspire us, with Your Holy Spirit,
all-compassionate and joy-creating.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.