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The Prologue From Ohrid



Dometius was bom in Persia as a pagan during the reign of Emperor Constantine. He became acquainted with the Faith of Christ as a young man, abandoned paganism and was baptized. So much did Dometius love the True Faith that he left everything worldly and was tonsured a monk in a monastery near the town of Nisibis. He lived for some time among the brethren and then withdrew to a life of silence to be with an a certain elder Archmandrite Urbel, about whom it is said that he did not eat anything cooked for sixty years. The elder Urbel ordained Dometius a deacon and when he wanted to compel him to receive the rank of a priest, Dometius withdrew to an isolated mountain and settled in a cave. He attained such a high degree of perfection through fasting, prayer, all night vigils and godly-thoughts that he cured the sick. When Julian the Apostate came to those regions, he heard of Dometius and sent men, who sealed him alive in the cave along with two of his disciples. Thus, this saint of God died and took up habitation in the Kingdom of God in the year 363 A.D.


Or attained great perfection through the greatest mortification. When he firmly established himself and attained holiness in solitude, he then gradually established several monasteries and was a superb spiritual leader and teacher of many monks. Rufinus, who visited him describes Or in the following way: “In his dress [habit], he resembled an angel of God; a ninety-year old elder with a long beard, as white as snow; externally was very pleasant. His gaze shone with something super human.” Often times, he saw the angels of God. He especially endeavored never to speak an untruth. He had great temptations from the demons but overpowered them all soberly and courageously. He received Holy Communion daily. On one occasion, one of his disciples reminded him that the Feast of the Resurrection had come and that it should be celebrated. Hearing this, Or came out, raised his hands to heaven and spent three days in prayer without rest. He explained to his disciple: “For the monk, this is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ: to elevate his mind and to unite it with God.” He rested in deep old age about the year 390 A.D.


Marinus was a soldier and Asterius was a Roman senator. At the time of Emperor Gallienus, St. Marinus served as a soldier in Caesarea in Palestine. Marinus was beheaded for the sake of the Faith of Christ. Asterius, the senator, also a Christian, was present at his martyrdom. He removed his dolman and, with it, wrapped the body of the martyr, placed it on his shoulders, took it and honorably buried it. Seeing this, the pagans beheaded him also. They both died honorably for Christ about the year 260 A.D.


Pimen was sickly from his youth and from his youth desired the monastic life. Brought to the Lavra of the Caves in Kiev for healing, he remained there until his death. Pimen prayed to God, more for sickness, than for health. At night, angels appeared to him and tonsured him a monk. On that occasion, the angels informed him that he will be ill until his death and, just before his death, will become healthy. And so, it was. Pimen was bedridden for twenty years. He worked miracles during his lifetime and was unusually discerning. Just prior to his death, he rose from the bed completely whole and immediately prepared a grave for himself. He rested in the Lord in the year 1110 A.D.


Narcissus was beheaded at the time of Antoninus in the year 213 A.D. being one hundred sixteen years of age.



To the monks, honor; to the monk’s glory,
Head of the monks. Or, the all-wise Abba,
With great labor, with many sighs,
Of a true monk, reached perfection.
Teach us a lesson, they once pleaded to him!
Never tell a lie, speak the truth.
I know a man, who never swore,
Never lied, never wished evil to another.
Then the elder after his reply, remained silent.
Then holy Sisoes asked of Or:
Tell me father some instruction.
“Live,” Or said to him, “as you see me!”
Tell me more clearly, how should I see you.
Everyman, a secret within himself conceals?
Again Or said to him: Behold, to you I am speaking:
Of all God’s things, myself I consider the worse.
Paul, the disciple, Or taught thusly:
For from every sin you will easily flee
But only from evil conversation, if you flee,
For from this evil, every other sin sprouts
To the soul of a man, evil conversation is death,
Every good seed in the heart, it smothers.
One more thing will I say and let it be enough,
The thoughts of vanity, drive away; insane desires, drive away,
From that which is material, distance yourself,
And son, the spiritual you will attain.


Neither concern yourself about the righteous nor envy the sinner. Remember always that the Lord Christ, by His resurrection, conquered a shameful death and that Herod, Judas, Nero, Julian the Apostate, Valerian, Leo the Armenian and other opponents of Christ, by a shameful death mortalized forever their temporary successes and victories. Envious ones slandered St. Narcissus the Patriarch for violating his chastity. The innocent Narcissus withdrew into the wilderness and spent many years in silence and patiently waited for God to do His will. Three patriarchs followed him [on the patriarchal throne] and only then did men come forward and clearly prove his innocence. Then everyone forced him to return from the wilderness to his throne. Thus, God justifies the righteous. The bloody Emperor Valerian, with satanic passion, murdered Christians throughout the entire world [Roman Empire]. How did he end up? In battle with the Persians, he was defeated and enslaved by King Sapor. Sapor did not desire to kill him immediately but used him as a mounting block whenever he wanted to mount a horse. Every day, King Sapor’s servants brought Valerian along with a horse and Sapor enjoyed placing his foot on the neck of the Roman Emperor in order to make it easier for him to mount the horse. He who sows an evil seed reaps an evil harvest.


To contemplate the mercy of God toward the barren Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1 1 Kings 1):
1. How Hannah was barren and in her sorrow implored God that she give birth to a son, promising to dedicate him to God;
2. How God heard the prayers of Hannah and she gave birth to a son and called him Samuel (besought from God);
3. How Hannah brought Samuel to the Temple and dedicated him to God.


-About the new law from Zion-

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).

The prophet speaks of a new law and of a new word. The old law was given on Sinai and the new law will come from Zion. The old law was given through Moses and the new law, the Lord Christ Himself will bring. That [the old law] was intended in the beginning only for the Jews, and this one [the new law], will be directed to all peoples and all of mankind. Even though these words of the prophet are clear, however, the Jews could not understand them nor do they understand them today. The meaning of these words is closed to them because of their stony hearts. To whom do they [the Jews] apply these words? To no one. How do they [the Jews] interpret these words? They do not. They pass by these words as a blind man passes by an open door. If they were able to comprehend these words, would they have then acted in such a manner as they acted with the prophet and the prophesied One [Christ]? Would they have sawn Isaiah and crucified Christ on the Cross?

The Jews considered the law of Moses to be the only and final law of God. That is why they were unable to comprehend the meaning of the prophecy of the new law from Zion, i.e., from the House of David, for David glorified Zion. But if the Jews did not know to comprehend the new law through the old law, we Christians know that through the new law we comprehend the old law. The Jews only had a tree without fruit but we have the tree and the fruit. They only had an image without reality, but we have both reality and the image. They adhered only to promises and that, incorrectly understood, but we have the promises and the fulfillment.

O All-rich Lord, Who has enriched us with Your spiritual law and Your life-giving words, You only do we worship and to You only do we pray; grant us wisdom and power to live according to Your law and to uphold Your holy word, so that we may not become poor before You, Who has made us rich!

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.