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The Prologue From Ohrid



She was bom in the city of Iconium of wealthy and Christ-loving parents. After the death of her parents, the maiden Parasceva began to distribute her possessions to the poor and the less fortunate, all in the name of Christ the Lord. When a persecution began under Diocletian, Parasceva was brought to trial before the governor of that land. When the governor asked her for her name, she replied that she was called a Christian. The governor rebuked her because she did not give her usual name and Parasceva said to him: “First, 1 had to tell you my name in eternal life, and then my name in this temporal life.” After flogging her, the governor cast Parasceva into prison where an angel of God appeared to her, healed her of her wounds, and comforted her. By prayer, Parasceva destroyed all the idols in the pagan temple. After prolonged and harsh tortures, Parasceva was beheaded with the sword and took up her abode in eternal life.


Arsenije was a great hierarch of the Serbian Church and the successor of St. Sava. Arsenije was born in Srem. While still in his youth, he was tonsured a monk and devoted himself sincerely and whole-heartedly to asceticism for the salvation of his soul. Hearing of the wonderful person and work of St. Sava, Arsenije went to him in Zhicha, where St. Sava received him cordially and included him among the brotherhood of Zhicha. Seeing the rare virtues in Arsenije, Sava soon appointed him abbot of the Zhicha monastery. When the Hungarians attacked the Serbian lands, Sava sent Arsenije to the south to look for a place more secluded than Zhicha for the archiepiscopal see. Arsenije chose Pech, and built a monastery there and a church dedicated to the Holy Apostles (which was later renamed the Church of the Ascension of the Lord). Before his second departure for Jerusalem, Sava designated Arsenije as his successor to the archiepiscopal throne, and when Sava reposed in Trnovo on his way back from Jerusalem, Arsenije urged King Vladislav to translate the body of St. Sava to the Serbian land. He governed the Church prudently for thirty years and reposed in the Lord on October 28, 1266. On the wall of the altar in the church of Pech is written: “O Lord our God, hearken: visit and bless this church … and remember also me, the sinful Arsenije.” Arsenije is buried in the church at Pech.


He was from Syria and suffered for the Christian Faith with his wife Neonilla and their seven children. After many tortures, during which the power of God was manifested, they were all beheaded with the sword.


He was the composer of many beautiful canons. He lived the ascetic life in the community of St. Sava the Sanctified. He was later ordained a bishop and peacefully entered into rest in the year 807.


He was an opponent of union with Rome, in contrast to his predecessor John Beccus (1275-1282). He was an ascetic and a prayerful person from his childhood. Beloved by his people, Athanasius provoked the displeasure of certain priests by his moral strictness. He withdrew to his monastery on Mount Ganos, where he labored even more austerely than before. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him and scolded him gently for leaving his flock to the wolves. When he foretold the day of the earthquake in Constantinople, Emperor Andronicus reinstated him to the patriarchal throne against his will. After that, he again secretly withdrew to the ascetic life. He entered into rest at the age of one hundred. He was clairvoyant and a miracle-worker.


Dimitri was a great hierarch, preacher, author and ascetic. He was born near Kiev in the year 1651, and reposed in the year 1709. Among his many glorious works of instruction, he was known especially for his translation and publication of The Lives of the Saints. He foresaw his own death three days in advance, and died while at prayer. Dimitri was a great light of the Russian Church and of Orthodoxy in general. He had heavenly visions during his life. He served the Lord zealously and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.



The wise hierarch St. Arsenije
Does not hide his wondrous power, even today.
He hastens to God with gentle prayers,
And helps the faithful servants of Christ;
He has close access to God Most-high,
For he was made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.
When cruel Shishman, ruler of the Bulgarians,
Sought to plunder the Monastery of Pech,
His soldiers encamped near there,
But that black night he had no peace.
From the heavens, a fiery pillar appeared,
And Shishman’s army was overcome by fear,
And fled, without a backward glance,
From the shrine of Pech, where the saint reposes.
God gave a wreath of power and glory
To the wonderful successor of St. Sava.
He continued the work of his glorious predecessor,
And thus, with St. Sava, became the pride of his people.
To St. Arsenije we now pray
That his grace might shine forth upon us.


St. Dimitri of Rostov was a saint in the ancient and true model of the early Fathers. Not only did he write beautiful and instructive books, but also shone forth as an example to his flock. He was a great ascetic and man of prayer. So humble was he that he even begged the seminarians in his seminary to pray to God for him. Whenever the clock struck the hour, he stood for prayer and recited: “O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice!” When he was ill-which, for him, was often-he begged each of the seminarians to recite “Our Father” five times on his behalf while meditating on the five wounds of the Lord Jesus Christ. On one occasion, St. Barbara appeared to him with a smile and said, “Why do you pray in the Latin manner?”-meaning, why do you pray to God with such brief prayers? At this reproach, even though it was gentle, he became despondent, but she encouraged him, saying: “Do not be afraid!” On another occasion, St. Orestes the Martyr (November 10) appeared to him, just as St. Dimitri had finished writing the saint’s life, and said: “1 endured greater tortures for Christ than those you have written.” He then showed him his left side and said: “This was pierced with a red-hot iron.” He then showed him his left hand and said: “There I was slashed.” Finally, he showed him his leg above the knee and said: “And this was cut off by a scythe.” When St. Dimitri wondered if this Orestes visiting him was one of the Five Companions (December 13), the saint discerned his thought and said: “I am not the one of the Five Companions but rather the one whose life you have just written.”


Contemplate God’s terrible punishment of Herod (Acts 12):
1. How, in his pride, Herod elevated himself, and the people glorified him as a god;
2. How an angel of God struck him at once, because he gave not God the glory;
3. How he was consumed by worms and died.


-on prayer to God to save a soul from the dust-

Deliver me out of the dust that I sink not (Psalm 69:14).

Brethren, our souls are clothed in dust, and our bodies of dust are given us for the service of our soul. May our souls not drown in dust! May our souls not be enslaved by dust! May the living spark not be extinguished in the grave of dust! Very spacious is the field of earthly dust that draws us to itself; but even more spacious is the immeasurable Kingdom of the Spirit that calls our soul its kin. Truly, we are related to the earth through physical dust; but we are related to heaven through the soul. We are dwellers in temporary huts and soldiers in temporary tents. O Lord, Deliver me out of the dust! Thus prayed the repentant king who initially had given himself over to dust, until he saw how dust pulls us into the abyss of destruction. Dust is the body of man with its fantasies; dust is also all wicked men who wage war against the righteous; dust is the demons with their terrors. May the Lord save us from all this dust, for He alone is able to do that. We should strive first of all to see the enemy within ourselves-the enemy who attracts other enemies. Hence, the greatest misfortune of the sinner is that he, unconsciously and unwillingly, is an ally of his own enemies! However, the righteous man has strengthened his soul in God and in the Kingdom of God, and is not afraid. He is not afraid of himself, and therefore is not afraid of his other enemies. He is not afraid, because he is neither an ally nor an accomplice of the enemies of his soul. Hence, neither men nor demons can do him any harm. God is his ally and the angels of God are his protectors-what can man do to him? What can demons do to him? What can dust do to him?

O Lord our God, Three Persons and One Being, Who breathed living souls into the dust of our bodies, save us according to Thy mercy that we sink not.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.