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The Prologue From Ohrid



Philip was bom in Palestinian Caesarea. He was married and had four daughters. All four were endowed by God with the gift of prophecy, and all four were vowed virgins for the sake of Christ. When the holy apostles chose deacons, Philip was chosen with Stephen and the others. He served the needy and widows with great diligence. When the persecution of Christians began in Jerusalem, Apostle Philip found refuge in Samaria, and there preached the Gospel and gave witness by many miracles: driving out demons, healing the sick, and so forth. Seeing the miracles of the holy apostle, Simon the Magician was baptized. St. Philip also baptized the eunuch of Queen Candace. After that, an angel of God suddenly and invisibly translated him to Azotus, where he taught, preached and converted many to Christ. Philip was appointed Bishop of Tralles. He reposed peacefully in deep old age, and took up his habitation in the joy of his Lord.


The Seventh Ecumenical Council was held in 787 at Nicaea during the reign of the devout Empress Irene and her son, Constantine, in the time of Patriarch Tarasius. This Council finally confirmed the veneration of icons, justifying it by Holy Scripture, by the witness of the Holy Fathers, and by the undeniable example of miracles manifested through the holy icons. Adding to examples of miracles previously cited. Bishop Constantine of Cyprus recounted this: One day, a certain shepherd from the town of Constantia drove his flock to pasture, and there saw an icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, all decorated with flowers by the faithful. “Why render so much honor to a rock?” said the shepherd, who had obviously been brought up in iconoclasm. He struck the icon with his iron shepherd’s cane, and damaged the right eye of the image of the Mother of God. As soon as he turned away, he stumbled over that same cane and gouged out his own right eye. Thus injured, he returned to the city, crying out tearfully that the punishment of the Theotokos had befallen him. This Council also decreed that the holy relics of a martyr be placed, without fail, in the Antimension. Three hundred and sixty-seven Fathers participated in this Council. May the Lord also have mercy on us and save us by their prayers.


Theophanes was a confessor and writer of canons. He was born in Arabia of wealthy and pious parents. With his brother Theodore (December 27), he was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified. As they were very educated monks. Patriarch Thomas of Jerusalem sent them to Emperor Leo the Armenian, to justify and defend the veneration of icons. The iniquitous emperor harshly tortured these holy brothers and cast them into prison. Later, the iconoclastic Emperor Theophilus resumed their torture and commanded that words of mockery be branded on their faces, to expose them to the ridicule of the world. When the iconoclastic controversy was resolved, Theophanes was freed, and shortly thereafter was consecrated a bishop. He died peacefully in the year 847, having suffered for the holy icons for a total of twenty-five years. He wrote 145 Canons. He entered into the eternal joy of his Lord.


As a layman and a high-ranking court official, Nectarius was unanimously chosen as patriarch in 381, succeeding St. Gregory the Theologian. He was distinguished by profound understanding, tact and zeal for the Church. He reposed peacefully in the year 397.


Zinaida and Philonilla were sisters by birth, and were born in Tarsus. They are called the kinswomen of St. Paul the Apostle. Remaining virgins, they renounced the world for the sake of Christ, and, withdrawing to a cave, lived the ascetic life. They were knowledgeable in medicine and healed many of the sick. Because of her great fasting, Philonilla especially was vouchsafed the gift of miracle-working. Certain unbelievers attacked them one night and stoned them to death.



Theophanes of St. Sava’s, a great ascetic,
Profound theologian and glorious hymnographer,
A sufferer for Christ, a confessor of the Faith,
An adornment of the Church, a Father of Orthodoxy:
He left his cell for the sake of obedience,
And from his silence, stepped out into the world once again,
To persuade the evil emperor of the truth;
And he witnessed that truth to the emperor.
St. Theophanes traded a quarter century for true happiness,
Though he passed this time in suffering most dire,
And in the dank prison
Wore the brand of suffering on his face.
But, inspired by the Spirit, this saint of God
Also infused these years with chants sublime,
Glorifying the Lord and the saints of God
With fervent hope, love and faith.


Just as, by God’s providence, the power of miraculous healing is given to blessed water or sanctified oil, so this same power is also given to icons. St. Athanasius the Great cites one wonderful example of the miraculous power of holy icons: In the town of Beirut, there lived a Christian in a rented house. In moving out of the house, he forgot an icon of the Savior. Then a Jew moved into that house. There were many Jews in that town who were particularly embittered against the Christian Faith. Consequently, when the icon was found in the house, the Jews carried it to their gathering place and mocked it, as their ancestors had once mocked the living Savior. The Jews also did to the icon what their ancestors had done to the Savior: they pierced the hands and feet with nails, wiped vinegar on the lips of the image on the icon, and mocked the image of the Savior in every way possible. Finally, one of them took a spear and struck the divine image under the rib. But oh, the wonder-blood and water flowed from the image’s wound as they had from the living body of the crucified Lord. The Jews’ terror cannot be described. However, they brought a vessel to catch the blood, and brought many of the sick, blind, deaf, lame and insane to the icon. As soon as the Jews anointed the ailing with this blood, they were healed. The whole town gathered to see this miracle and all glorified Jesus Christ, the true God; and all the Jews in that town came to believe in the living and life-giving Lord Jesus Christ.


Contemplate the numerous unrighteous acts of the people of Israel, and the numerous punishments that God visited upon them (II Kings 24):
1. How the princes of the people often turned away from God, and did that which is evil in the sight of God;
2. How God punished the people in order to correct them;
3. How finally, under the evil King Jehoiachin, the Israelites were taken into the Babylonian captivity.


-on the voice of the Lord upon the waters-

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters (Psalm 29:3).

The voice of the Lord was heard over Jordan, when St. John baptized the Savior. On the Sea of Galilee, when there were storms and winds, the voice of the Lord was heard, and the tempest was calmed and the winds ceased. The voice of the Lord was heard at the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee, and the water was changed into wine. The voice of the Lord was heard at the Red Sea, and the sea parted and a path was opened for the people of God. The voice of the Lord was heard in the wilderness, and water flowed from a dry rock. Given all this, what does the voice of the Lord is upon the waters mean? It means that the element, water, is the work of God; and through it, God works miracles when He wills, and how He wills. No less are the other elements the work of God: fire, air and earth. And God is Lord over them all, and through them He works miracles when He wills, and how He wills.

God the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of fire at Pentecost. In the furnace at Babylon, the flames lost their power at the sound of the voice of the Lord, and did not harm the blessed children. Fire was sent down from heaven to consume the sacrifice of Gideon (Judges 6). Elias brought down fire from the heavens (II Kings 1:10). The bush burned and was not consumed (Exodus 3). Fire from heaven came down and consumed Elias’s sacrifice to God (I Kings 18:38). A fiery pillar went before the Israelites (Exodus 13, 14). All of this was according to the word of the Lord.

The earth opened up and swallowed the unrighteous Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16:32). The earth opened and hid Elizabeth and the infant child John from the sword of Herod. The earth quaked when the Lord breathed His last on the Cross, and the graves opened up (Matthew 27:51-52).

The Lord ascended into the heavens through the air (Luke 24:51). The holy apostles were carried through the air to Jerusalem, from various parts of the world. An angel took the Prophet Habakkuk to Babylon through the air in an instant (Bel and the Dragon 1:35). And all of this was in accord with the voice of the Lord: by the Lord’s command. When will men be as obedient to the voice of the Lord as the irrational elements of nature are? Then again, “the waters” is to be interpreted as meaning “men”-men who are obedient to the voice of the Lord-the apostles and the saints. Like water, they covered the earth with the preaching of Christ our God. Like water, they assuaged the thirsty world with the effusion of the fountain of eternal life, and the world was restored and blossomed. Upon them, just as upon ordinary water, numerous miracles were manifested; for they were submissive to the will of God, obedient to the voice of God, just like water.

O Lord Jesus Christ, help us to be obedient to Thy voice. Help us to be ashamed before lifeless elements that obey Thee better than we do.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.