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The Prologue From Ohrid



Near Hierapolis, in Phrygia, there was a place called Chonae (“plunging”), and in that place there was a spring of miraculous water. When Apostle John the Theologian, accompanied by Philip, preached the Gospel in Hierapolis, he looked upon that place and prophesied that a spring of miraculous water would open up there, from which many would receive healing, and that the great Archangel of God Michael would visit that place. Soon afterward, this prophecy was fulfilled: a spring of water burst forth and became widely known for its miraculous power. A pagan in Laodicea had a daughter who was mute, which caused him great sorrow. Archangel Michael appeared to him in a dream, and told him to take his daughter to the spring, where she would be cured. The father immediately obeyed, brought his daughter to the spring, and found many people there seeking deliverance from various infirmities. These people were all Christians. The man asked how he should seek healing, and the Christians told him: “You must pray to the Archangel Michael, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The man prayed in this way, gave his daughter a drink of this water, and the girl began to speak. The pagan, his daughter and his whole household were baptized. He also built a church over the spring dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

Later, a young man named Archippus settled there and lived a life of austerity, in fasting and prayer. The pagans did many malicious things to Archippus, for they did not like the fact that this Christian holy place emanated such spiritual power and attracted so many people to it. The pagans, in their wickedness, rerouted the nearest river in order to flood the church and the spring. By the prayers of Archippus, the holy Archangel Michael opened a fissure in the rock beside the church, and the river’s water plunged into it. This is how that place was saved and why it was called Chonae, or “of the plunging,” for the river’s water that plunged into the open fissure. St. Archippus labored in asceticism there until the age of seventy, and peacefully reposed in the Lord.


While Emperor Trajan waged war in the East, he once commanded that the Christians in his army be counted. It was found that there were 11,000 Christians in the imperial army. The emperor then ordered that they all be dismissed from the army and sent to Armenia. St. Romulus was the overseer of the imperial household. He went before the emperor and reprimanded him for this action, declaring himself a Christian. The emperor gave order that Romulus be beheaded. Of those banished soldiers, the emperor had 10,000 of them crucified. The others were slain by various tortures.


Eudoxius was a commander in the Roman army. He suffered for Christ during the reign of Diocletian. He was tried and tortured by the governor of Melitene in Armenia. His friends Zeno and Macarius also suffered with him, as well as 1104 other soldiers who had been converted to Christianity by Eudoxius. After his death Eudoxius appeared to his wife Basilissa, who remained faithful to Christ to the time of her peaceful repose.


He was the leader of a band of robbers near Hermopolis, in Egypt. He came to his senses only in his later years, when he repented and was tonsured a monk. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to David and granted him miraculous power. After many difficult ascetic practices, David became worthy of the Kingdom of God and reposed peacefully in the sixth century.



Archangel of God
Michael the Commander,
The sword-bearing servant
Of the Lord Most-high.

He stands before the Lord
With the heavenly hosts,
With the mighty angels
And the holy souls.

The greatest commander
Of the Greatest King,
Wherever he goes, he conquers
And works miracles.

He is the one whom
Satan Fears like flame,
For the commander of God
Stands for truth.

He stands for truth,
And upholds justice;
Fast as sight
He can be anywhere swiftly.

The commander of light,
He drives the impure away,
And with his wings
Protects the faithful.


Christianity has uprooted many barbaric customs from the society of man. But some of those customs-praiseworthy from the pagan point of view, but shameful from the Christian point of view-are, even to the present day, like hidden corruption oozing from a supposedly healed wound. One of these customs is the unlawful kidnapping of maidens. St. Basil wrote powerfully to one of his priests, after one such incident: “Do all in your power to find and rescue this maiden. Then, return her to her parents and excommunicate the perpetrator. Also suspend those who abetted him-including their entire households-from participation in services for three years. Likewise, suspend everyone in the village to which the maiden was taken, where she was hidden or perhaps kept by force-so that all will know that a kidnapper should be driven away from them like a serpent or some other wild beast or common enemy, and that the abused should be protected.”


Contemplate the example of David’s self-restraint (II Samuel 23):
1. How, during battle against the Philistines, David became thirsty, and asked who would bring him water from the well in Bethlehem, which was held by the Philistines;
2. How three heroes slipped through the enemy lines, and brought water back to their king;
3. How David did not want to drink, but rather poured the water on the ground, saying: Is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?


-on the two births-

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).

Brethren, these words are not the words of a prophet or an apostle, but are the words of the Lord Himself, uttered with His most pure mouth. As there is power and salvation in every one of the Lord’s words, so is there power and salvation in these. That is why it is necessary to study these words with fear and great care and apply them in our lives. By these words the Lord emphasizes the precedence of the spirit over the flesh. And, as the flesh is born of the body, so the spirit must be born of the Spirit. The birth of our spirit is of the Spirit of God, according to the grace of God and not according to nature. It is the new birth that the Lord described to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus did not understand these words of Christ, just as, even today, he whose flesh is stronger than his spirit does not understand them. Men whose flesh has overcome their spirit think and judge everything according to the body. Men whose spirit has overcome their body think and judge everything according to the spirit. All those who think and judge according to the body make their spirits fleshly, while all who think and judge spiritually make their bodies spiritual. Just like someone exchanging gold for paper money, the former convert that which is immortal into that which is mortal. The latter are like someone exchanging paper money for pure gold-for they do not destroy that which is immortal, but convert that which is mortal into that which is immortal. The Jews interpreted the Law and the Prophets according to the flesh, and that is why they did not understand the Lord Jesus, but crucified the Lord of Glory. Those who were enlightened by the grace of the Spirit of God interpreted both the Law and the Prophets spiritually, and understood our Lord Jesus Christ. And through Him, they understood not only the Law and the Prophets, but all of created nature as well, and all of their life on earth. Brethren, although the body is necessarily born of the flesh, it would be unnatural for the spirit also to be born of the flesh. Let our spirit be born of the Spirit of God and then we will be natural, both in body and in spirit. This is that higher and sinless nature that Adam had in Paradise before he sinned. It is not possible or necessary for our body to be born again of the flesh. It is possible and necessary, and never too late, for our spirit to be born again of the Spirit of God.

O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God-help us, that before death we may become reborn of the Spirit of God, and that our spirits, in truth, be born of the Spirit.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.