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The Prologue From Ohrid



This great archangel of God is celebrated on March 26. On this day however, he is celebrated and honored for his appearances and miracles throughout the entire history of man’s salvation. It is believed that this celebration was first established on Mt. Athos in the ninth century, during the reign of Emperor Basil and the Empress Constantina Porphyrogenitus and Patriarch Nicholas Chrysoverges, on the occasion of the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel in a cell near Karyes where he wrote on a stone tablet with his finger, the hymn to the Birth-giver of God, “Worthy It is meet,” [Dostojno Jest Axion Estin]. As a result of this, even today, this cell is called the cell of “Axion Estin.” In connection with this, other appearances of the Archangel Gabriel are also commemorated: the appearance to Moses while he was tending the flock of Jethro and, at which time, he related to this great one called of God, how the world was created and all the rest which Moses recorded in his Book of Creation (Genesis); his appearance to the Prophet Daniel and revealing to him the mystery of future kingdoms and of the coming of the Savior; his appearance to St. Ann and the promise that she will give birth to a daughter, the All-blessed and All-pure Holy Virgin Mary; the very brief appearance to the Holy Virgin while she lived in the Temple in Jerusalem; the appearance to Zacharias the High Priest and the tidings concerning the birth of John the Forerunner and the severe punishment of Zacharias with dumbness because he did not believe his words; again, the appearance to the Holy Virgin in Nazareth and informing Her of the good news of the conception and the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ; the appearance to the righteous Joseph; the appearance to the shepherds near Bethlehem; the appearance to the Lord Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane when he strengthened our Lord as a man prior to His passion; the appearance to the myrrh-bearing women and so forth.


Some think that this saint is none other than Simon the Leper, who was cured by the Lord. The Apostle Peter consecrated him a bishop and sent him to pagan Gaul, where St. Julian endured great miseries but succeeded to convert many people to the Faith of Christ. When he baptized Prince Defenson, many subjects of this prince turned to the True Faith. By the grace of God, he worked great miracles: he healed the sick, cast out demons and resurrected the dead. He ended his life peacefully and, at the time of his death, appeared to Prince Defenson in the middle of the day while he was at lunch.


Stephen was a first cousin to St. John Damascene. He lived a life of asceticism in the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified for which he was surnamed Sabas. He was a great imitator of the life of St. Sabas and a shining star among the monks in Palestine. He reposed in the Lord in the year 794 A.D., in his sixty-ninth year.


As a young maiden, Sarah withdrew to live a life of austere mortification and for sixty years lived a life of asceticism on the shores of the Nile river not far from Alexandria. By her example she attracted many women to the monastic life. She found rest in the Lord in the year 370 A.D.



When St. Julian passed away,
Wonderful shepherd of Christ’s flock,
His spiritual child, Prince Defenson,
With the noblemen was at lunch,
At lunch in the middle of the day.
All at once, the prince stared,
An apparition unusual, he saw:
In the middle of the room, Julian stood.
In vesture, gilded with gold
As a bishop in the temple of God,
In an unusual light;
With a smile, looked at the prince.
Beside him, three deacons radiant,
With tapers in white hands
That apparition shown and disappeared,
Frightened, the prince leaped to his feet,
To his noblemen spoke:
“Behold, I saw Father Julian,
The saint, our baptizer
Could be that he, from his soul, departed
Into the Heavenly Kingdom moved.”
And on the road the prince set out,
Until, in the home of Julian he arrived,
And as he arrived, so he learned,
His soul to God, Julian presented.


A man adorns simple clothing and ornate clothing adorns a man. Simple clothing calls attention to the man, but ornate clothing calls attention to itself. The passion for ornate clothing simply drains and withers the soul of man. This is the real reason why the Church from time immemorial stood against opulence in dress and recommended the simple and plain. Among the countless Christian saints there is no mention of one for whom ornate clothing helped to attain sanctity. Many great and wise kings, not only Christians but also heathens, loved simplicity in dress. Thus, it is said that the Emperor Augustus Octavius, during whose reign the Lord Christ was born wore only simple clothing which was woven for him by his wife, sister or daughter. Of King Charles V, it is said, that he wore such simple clothing that even ordinary citizens, his subjects, were better dressed than he. A man once invited the glorious Greek military general Philopomenes to dinner in whose home he had never previously entered. Philopomenes arrived at the home of his host a little early. The host had not yet arrived and, the hostess not knowing Philopomenes personally and seeing him attired in simple clothing, thought that he was a servant of Philopomenes who was sent in advance to inform her husband of the coming of the military general. Because of this, she ordered him to chop wood. Philopomenes willing acceded to her command and began to chop wood. When the host came and saw what this honored guest was doing, he was horrified and asked him: “Who dared to give this type of work to Philopomenes?” Quietly, the military general answered: “My clothing.”


To contemplate the great patience of God toward the unbelieving Jewish generation and their deserved punishment (Numbers 14):
1. How God worked a multitude of miracles before the eyes of the Israelites and how they remain stubborn in their unbelief and murmured against Moses;
2. How God punished them, making them wander for forty years in the wilderness and all of them perished except Joshua and Caleb;
3. How even some of us perish in the wilderness of sensuality and do not enter into the land of spiritual honey and milk in the Kingdom of Christ.


-About the indispensability of sobriety in battle against the devil-

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Orthodox monks have elevated sobriety and vigilance to the status of mortification. The spirit must be sober in order to sense danger and vigilant in order to recognize from which side the danger is coming and from whom.

My child, be vigilant that you do not tread on a serpent, that you do not fall into a pit, that you do not encounter a wolf, that you do not step out into deep water, that you do not stray from the path and get lost in the forest! Thus a mother counsels her child, fearing for his body. With no less love does the Church counsel a man, fearing for his soul. Therefore children, “be sober, be vigilant.” Your old adversary the devil does not rest nor sleep but, similar to a hungry lion, stalks and seeks whomsoever he can devour. “Be sober, be vigilant,” for you are as sheep and he is as a lion. When sheep sense the foul odor of the wolf, they flee to their shepherd. Therefore, “be vigilant” all of you and sense the foulness of the devil when he approaches you and flee immediately under the wings and protection of your shepherd, Christ the Lord. And You will sense the odious smell of the devil through your thoughts, through your feelings, through your intentions and through your passions of the flesh. All that you would have thought, imaged, felt, intended and desired contrary to Christ and the Law of Christ, know that that is the snare of the devil, the foulness of the devil know that and flee to your Shepherd directing your entire mind and all your heart and all your soul and body to Him.

O Lord Jesus, our Sober and Vigilant Shepherd, make us “sober and vigilant” at every moment so that our enemy will not surprise us and devour us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.