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St. Clement of Ohrid
Sunday, July 2nd - 10:00 am Divine Liturgy
Monday, July 3rd - 10:00 am St. Naum of Ohrid Liturgy
Friday, July 7th - 10:00 am Nativity St. John Liturgy
Sunday, July 9th - 10:00 am Divine Liturgy
Wednesday, July 12th - 10:00 am St. Petar & Paul Liturgy
Sunday, July 16th - 10:00 am Divine Liturgy
Sunday, July 23th - 10:00 am Divine Liturgy
Sunday, July 30th - 10:00 am Divine Liturgy

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

As we have heard, today's Gospel concerns the healing of the servant of the centurion. In the Roman Army the rank of centurion was given to a soldier who was at the head of one hundred soldiers. There are two particularly striking things about this centurion.

First of all he was clearly a man of virtue for he cared for the health of his servant. He was not one of those who considered human life expendable. He did not say to himself: 'My servant is ill, I'll let him die and tomorrow I will buy a slave at the market to replace him'. He must therefore have taken very seriously his responsibilities towards the one hundred soldiers under his command.

Secondly, his attitude towards other human-beings is confirmed by the fact that this centurion had implicit faith in Christ, the Creator of all human-beings, and in His power to heal. 'Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed'. This faith was far greater than that of the Jews. Despite their Old Testament heritage, all that they could do was criticise, find fault and destroy. The centurion, on the other hand, had complete faith in the power of Christ.

In return for these qualities Our Lord granted the centurion, and so all the faithful human race whom the centurion represents, two things.

Firstly, Christ grants the Kingdom of Heaven to the centurion and to all faithful humanity. The Kingdom is no longer for the Jews only, but it is opened up to all. 'Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven'. In other words it is no longer race that gives salvation, but faith. The Jews took it for granted in a racist way, that they would be saved and not the rest of humanity. But today it is revealed that we shall be judged according to our faith, not according to some external sign of nationality or facial features or skin-colour. Faith is now, in the words of Christ, the one quality that opens up the Kingdom of God. No artificial human boundaries and standards serve any purpose any longer, it is faith in the grace and power of God that saves.

Secondly and following on from this, this Gospel reveals to us that it is faith that determines not only our future in the Kingdom of God, but it also determines our present. 'As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee'. In the context of the centurion, of the man of faith, these words are comforting and healing. But these words are terrible for those without faith. They say that as we believe, so shall it be done unto us. If we believe in virtue, so we shall receive virtue. But if we believe in vice, so we shall receive vice. Those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. If we love our neighbour, they will mostly love us. If we hate our neighbour, they will mostly hate us. Our lives are determined by the faith in them. Our lives are determined by our beliefs. Without faith, our lives are empty. With faith, our lives are full.

This understanding of this Gospel proves that our only chance of happiness in this world or the next is to believe in, and so base our lives on, the highest virtues. If we do this, then our lives will be transformed, not only in the here and now but also in the life to come. And what is the highest virtue? All mankind will agree that it is Love. And this is the Christian Revelation, in the words of St John the Evangelist, that God is Love.

From this day forth let us therefore shape our lives around the virtue of Love in the firm assurance and knowledge that all else will come aright as a result. For as we believe, so shall it be done unto us. Therefore let us live and believe with love for others. Amin


He was the disciple of the Saints Cyril and Methodius and one of their disciples who most zealously cooperated with these Apostles of the Slavs. Saint Nahum went to Rome where he became renowned for his great erudition and his gift of working miracles. He had an excellent command of several languages. With the support of King Boris Michael they settled on the shore of Lake Ohrid when they returned from Rome. While Saint Clement acted as Bishop of Ohrid, Saint Nahum founded a monastery on the south coast of the lake. This monastery ornaments the lake coast as the name of Saint Nahum ornaments the history of Slav Christianity and represents a source of miracle-working power and shelter for the sick and infirm. Numerous monks from all parts of the Balkan gathered around Saint Nahum. He was a wise teacher, unique guide of the monks, resolute ascetics, wonderworker and spiritual father. He relentlessly struggled in the translation of the Holy Scriptures and other church books from Greek into Slavonic. He worked miracles during his life on earth and after he had departed. His miracle-working relics overwhelm by the great many miracles, especially healing of severe illnesses, above all mental illnesses. He fell asleep in the Lord at the first half of the X century.


The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messiah's birth His Forerunner would appear, and would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messiah also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner. In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest St Zachariah and his wife St Elizabeth, zealously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple, however, had a misfortune: they remained childless in their old age, and they prayed unceasingly to God to grant them a child. Once, when St Zachariah took his turn as priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went into the Sanctuary to offer incense. Going behind the veil of the Sanctuary, he beheld an angel of God standing at the right side of the altar of incense. St Zachariah was astonished and halted in fear, but the angel said to him, "Fear not, Zachariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." But Zachariah did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the angel said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you the good news. Behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words...." Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and they were astonished that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not do so because he had been struck speechless. When Zachariah explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision. The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, and gave birth to John, the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord.

On this day are celebrated God's mercy, His wondrous act and His wisdom: His mercy towards the devout and righteous parents of St John, the aged Zacharias and Elisabeth, who had all their lives begged a child of God; the wonder of the conception of John in Elisabeth's more-than-aged womb; and the wisdom of the dispensation of man's salvation. For John, God had a specially great plan: that he should be a prophet and the forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. Through His angels, God revealed the birth of Isaac to the childless Sarah, and of Samson to the childless Manoah and his wife, and of John the Baptist to the childless Zacharias and Elisabeth. Through His angels, God revealed the birth of those for whom He had a special plan. How could children be born of aged parents? If someone is curious to find out, let him not ask men, for men do not know, nor does natural law (it being beyond natural law), but let him turn his gaze to the power of almighty God, who made the whole world from nothing and who, for the creation of Adam, the first man, used no parents, either young or old. Instead of being curious, let us thank God that He often reveals to us His power and mercy and wisdom beyond the natural law, by which we would otherwise be fettered and, without these special wonders of God, would fall into despair and forgetfulness of Him.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Today's Gospel concerns the casting out of demons from two possessed men, their entry into a herd of swine and the suicide of those swine. There are several things that we can learn from this Gospel.

Firstly, we should note that the Gergesenes who owned the swine were disobeying the Jewish Law. The Jews did not and do not eat pork. The Jews who lived in this region were therefore disobeying their own Law. That is why the swineherd 'besought' Christ to leave their area, virtually chasing the Son of God away. We cannot help thinking that the disobedience of these people explains why two of them at least had become possessed.

Therefore we learn that disobedience of God leads to misfortune.

Secondly, it is clear from the Gospel that devils exist and that they can possess men. All too often we meet naive people who call themselves Christians but have been so hoodwinked by the Devil that they maintain that devils do not exist and that they most certainly cannot enter into men. Such people have clearly not read the Gospel with understanding and have little experience of life. In this context we may ask ourselves about the meaning of the word 'possession'. The Fathers of the Church, many of whom we commemorate today, tell us that that we cannot simply become possessed overnight. Possession is the ultimate stage in a process. The first stage of that process is when we begin to surrender our free will and we 'entertain' demons and demonic thoughts in a habitual manner. The second stage is when demons come to obsess us; we are almost unable to fight against demonic influence over us. Demonic thoughts stalk us, becoming an obsession. The third stage is possession, when demons actually come to live inside us, to own or possess us as their property. This is when we have totally surrendered our free will to resist.

Therefore we learn that the Devil and demonic possession are realities.

Thirdly, in today's Gospel we should notice three characteristics of the devils. First of all, they dwell in tombs. They live in tombs because the devils are spiritually dead. Also the devils are violent, alien to the spirit of peace, 'exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way'. Finally, the devils are also believers. This should not surprise us. For the devils are bodiless, spiritual beings, fallen angels. Here we should remember that there are many sorts of spirituality, one of which is the spirituality of the demons. Unlike men, who are made foolish because they are deluded by bodily, material things, the devils see reality as it is, they see the spiritual basis of all things. Thus they confess Christ as He really is: as the 'Son of God'. They have no illusions that Christ may only be some man, albeit a prophet, or a mere man though of great intelligence or giftedness. No, He is the Son of God and that is clear to them. The devils know spiritual reality. According to one Father of the Church, St Simeon the New Theologian, the devils lack only one thing: Love. Indeed, according to him: 'theology without love is the theology of the demons'.

Therefore we learn that Love is the abiding characteristic of God.

Lastly, we see from today's Gospel that animals may sometimes behave better than men. For what do the two men possessed by devils do? They survive, living among tombs. On the other hand, the entry of devils inside animals is enough to make them commit suicide. They cannot bear the presence of evil within them. Yet very often we hear that some people have 'behaved like animals'. This is often untrue and unjust. Animals, for example, do not kill their own species. Animals are sensitive to the presence of evil and fear the presence of supernatural demons, running away from them. This is because animals, who have no eternal, immortal souls, belong to the natural world and fear the supernatural. Men, on the other hand, belong partly to that natural, material, bodily world, but partly to the spiritual world. They are therefore subject to the influence of spirits, whether the spirits of God from the angelic world, or else to the spirits of Evil, from Satan.

Therefore we learn that we are all subject to spiritual influences, to the spirit of evil or to the spirit of good.

What are we to do? Let us flee the spirit of evil. Otherwise we too will finish by living in the tombs of the spiritually dead. Otherwise we too will be owned by devils and none will pass our way. Otherwise we too will run 'violently down a steep place into the sea and perish in the waters'.

And let us instead of all this cleave to the Spirit of God, which we know from the Gospels, from the Apostles, from the Fathers and from the Saints of the Church of God. Amin


The son of Jonah and brother of Andrew the First-Called, of the tribe of Simeon and the town of Bethsaida, he was a fisherman and was at first called Simon, but the Lord was pleased to call him Cephas, or Peter (Jn 1:42). He was the first of the disciples to give clear expression to his faith in the Lord Jesus, saying: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Mt 16:16). His love for the Lord was very strong, and his faith in Him went from strength to strength.

When the Lord was put on trial, Peter denied him three times, but it needed only one look into the face of the Lord, and Peter's soul was filled with shame and repentance. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter became a fearless and powerful preacher of the Gospel. After his first sermon in Jerusalem, about 3,000 souls were converted to the Faith. He preached the Gospel throughout Palestine and Asia Minor, in Italy and Illyria. He performed many wonders, healing the sick and raising the dead, and even his shadow had the power of healing the sick. He had a major struggle with Simon the Magician, who declared himself to be from God but was actually a servant of the devil. He finally put him to shame and overcame him.

Peter was condemned to death on the order of the wicked Emperor Nero, a friend of Simon's. After installing Linus as Bishop of Rome and exhorting and encouraging the flock of Christ there, Peter went to his death with joy. When he saw the cross before him, he asked the executioner to crucify him upside-down, because he felt himself unworthy to die in the same way as his Lord. And so this great servant of the greatest Master went to his rest and received a crown of eternal glory.


Born in Tarsus and of the tribe of Benjamin, he was formerly called Saul and studied under Gamaliel. He was a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians. He was wondrously converted to the Christian faith by the Lord Himself, who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. He was baptized by the Apostle Ananias, named Paul and enrolled in the work of the Great Apostles.

He preached the Gospel everywhere with burning zeal, from the borders of Arabia to the land of Spain, among both the Jews and the heathen, and receiving the title of "The Apostle to the Gentiles." His fearful sufferings were matched only by his superhuman endurance. Through all the years of his preaching, he hung from day to day like a thread between life and death.

Filling his days and nights with toil and sufferings for Christ, organizing the Church in many places and receiving a high level of perfection, he was able to say: "I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). He was beheaded in Rome in the reign of Nero, at the same time as St. Peter.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

From the first chapters of the Book of Genesis with the story of Creation and the Fall of mankind, we know that the source of all illness is sin, the disobedience of God.

Mainly, of course, our illnesses are not the consequence of our personal sins, but rather the consequences of unconscious sin, the sin that is all around us in the world and to which we are subject. Modern science, for example, tells us that many illnesses are the result of bacteria coming from the world and attacking a weakness in our organisms. Such a weakness may be inherited through what we now call genes. Or perhaps that weakness has developed in old age when our organisms have begun to fail as they wear out. Sometimes in such cases the use of medicine or even surgical operations can bring us relief.

On the other hand some weaknesses may be the result of overeating or an unhealthy diet, or the use of alcohol or other drugs, or a lack of physical activity. Or such a weakness may also be the result of a state of mind. For instance, it is well-known how one person gets well more quickly than another. This is the result of willpower, the feeling that we still have something to do, that there is still something to live for, we still have a purpose in life. 'I can't be ill now, I have no time'. It is well-known that our mental state controls our physical state and we all know of cases of hypochondria.

In today's Gospel from Matthew Chapter 9, the cause of the illness of the man who was sick is clearly not bacteria, old age or a poor mental state, but unforgiven sins. Our Lord says to the man: 'Thy sins be forgiven thee', and the man is healed.

It must be said that the cause of many illnesses, both physical and mental, in modern society is exactly the same as in this case - unforgiven personal sins, since unforgiven sins are extremely common. And they are unforgiven because they are unconfessed, never said at confession and therefore never asked forgiveness for.

Indeed we can consider that the sacrament of confession is like a spiritual barometer which tells us of the state of any society. Among Protestants confession does not exist, although there are Protestants who do ask forgiveness of God and of one another. In Roman Catholic societies confession has all but fallen into disuse, even though it has been given various fashionable names such as 'the sacrament of reconciliation'. And we as Orthodox have nothing to boast of, since many Orthodox too never go to confession, or go once a year, and as a result hardly ever go to communion.

The sacrament of confession is a spiritual barometer because for confession to take place, we need humility, the humility to go before God in front of a witness and confess to God our sins. But if we do not go to confession, we must not expect the divine healing that is necessary in our lives. If we are true believers, then it is for us to go to Christ and be healed by Him through the sacraments that He has given us in His Body, His Church. May it be so! Amin


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Today's Gospel from Chapter 9 of St Matthew concerns the healing carried out by Christ through the expulsion of a demon. What can we learn from this Gospel?

First of all, we should note that the healing performed by Christ in the Gospel is permanent, it is for good and salvation, it is for repentance and thanksgiving. Here we should be cautious. There are many who claim today that they have been healed by all manner of 'spiritual healers' and 'therapists'. However, there is a great difference between the healing given by Christ and the 'healings' of such individuals who will often charge huge sums of money for their alleged healings. Although some such healings may be genuine, the results of a natural psychic ability, others are undoubtedly demonic. For since demonic influence is the cause of all illness, demons are also able to withdraw temporarily from their victim's soul, mind and body, thus giving the illusion of 'healing', in order to increase their hold on their victims. Such 'healings' are always temporary, for the demons always return, unable to resist the soft target of a weak and infected person. Such 'healings' are always destructive, for they are not for the good and salvation and repentance of their victim, but for their further subjection and submission to the powers of the Evil One.

Secondly, today's Gospel informs us of the reality of demons. In recent times, at least since the Second World War, which followed the First World War because there was no repentance after it, when Satan received an almost unheard of power in the world, demons have been appearing more and more often to mankind. The most remarkable thing is that people have been so hoodwinked by the Devil that they have not recognized the demons for what they are.

For instance, both Stalin and Hitler were clearly puppets whose strings were pulled by legions of demons, and yet tens of millions of people blindly followed their monstrous evils and handed over their empty souls to their ideologies, believing in what they preached. But today, if you tell a historian or a journalist that Hitler and Stalin were puppets of the Devil and that all that they did was planned by demons, they will laugh at you. And if you tell them that every subsequent and previous war and act of violence from the killing of Abel to the crashing of jets into the Twin Towers and the screams of three thousand creatures of God burnt alive in kerosene, had the same demonic cause, they will mock you.

At the same time during the Second World War, large numbers of people began to see lights in the skies ('great signs from heaven', as the Gospel of St Luke calls them). Many began to call these lights 'unidentified flying objects'. Others said that they had seen and met 'aliens'. Of course, in one sense, they were right: the lights that they saw were indeed the lights of 'aliens', the Satanic beings, devils who are the face of Death, which is alien to mankind, who was created immortal by God. Again, people are not able to 'identify' the faces of demons, even when eyewitnesses draw pictures which clearly show demons: they are indeed 'unidentified flying objects' to all those outside Church consciousness. Worse still, in the foolishness that is born in the human soul when it denies God, men began to worship these devils, declaring them to be from 'a higher civilization' and more 'intelligent than we are'. And they are indeed more intelligent than non-believers, for the demons 'believe and they tremble'.

Again in recent times, the face of the Devil has been revealed in all sorts of 'magical' tricks, in levitations and much-publicised spiritual frauds, in slavery to drugs, such as the mass-killers of alcohol and tobacco, banes of the last century. Or else in slavery to sex, which for example today has tens of thousands of young girls and boys from Eastern Europe selling their bodies for bread on the streets of Western Europe to depraved men who deny Christ and the Gospel. And the same is going on in every Sodom and Gomorrah on every Continent of the world. The result of this is the worldwide epidemic of AIDS which has already claimed tens of millions of victims and which will undoubtedly be the Black Death of the Twenty-First Century.

And we can also hear the delighted cackling of demons in the face of the terrible so-called 'natural' disasters of flood and drought, earthquake and hurricane, volcano and forest fire, which mankind has recently brought on itself through the abuse of the resources of God's creation.

What are we to do? How are we to protect ourselves against this ever-rising tide of demonism, before the face of naked evil?

The world, unfortunately, can do nothing, since it denies the primal cause of all this, it is frightened to take responsibility for its own actions and consequently return to the Enduring Faith of the Church of Christ. That would be asking for humility, asking Western 'civilization' to admit that it was wrong all along and that the true measure of all things is not man who wallows in the excrement of his depravity, but Christ, the Perfect Man, the God-Man.

We, however, who know the cause of all this evil, can protect ourselves by asking for the protection of God, Who is the Lord of all and can stop the demons in their tracks and contain them in the confines of hell, if only we ask Him to do this by refusing to let the demons occupy our souls and minds and bodies. In other words we must ask for healing, that selfsame healing that Christ gave in today's Gospel. And this we do through the source of all healing, which is in the Resurrected Body of Christ, the Church. The Church is not a social club, not coffee-time, the Church is not a show for religious dilettantes and hobby makers, the Church is not a welfare-State, the Church is the place where we bare our souls to Christ and receive healing from sin and death through the sacraments and fasts and prayers which we accept by making our will conform to that of Christ.Where are we going? Towards the floods of the demons or towards the healing of Christ? It is our choice. Let us decide today.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Life on this earth is filled with challenges. One challenge that we all are familiar with is that of learning how to accept that every aspect of life is a mixture of good and evil, of pure and impure. Take for example, the natural seasons of the earth -- Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall -- and the beauty, comfort and gifts for life which each brings. Yet, within the earth and within the same seasons are forces which may wreak such havoc, destruction and death as to eliminate entire populations or affect their lives for generations.

Take human institutions, for another example. Be they governments, commercial, religious, public or private. Generally, they have been created for the protection and common good of society. Yet, because of the mixed motives of the people involved, these very institutions often become the source of much human degradation, suffering and death.

Actually, we don't have to go outside of ourselves to find an example. Our own purest motives get contaminated by motives that are not so pure, and we experience the conflict between good and evil in our personal actions in relation to self and others. As St. Paul puts it in the letter to the Romans, "...when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand." (7:21).

If only there were some "surgical procedure" by which to lance these evil defects from human life. But, there is not. In this life, the good and the evil are inextricably linked. "You have to take the bad with the good," is a saying I've heard all of my life.

In the gospel reading for today, Jesus illustrates this point with one of his parables of the Reign of God, the Parable of the Weeds. Someone sows good wheat seed in his field, but while everybody is asleep, an enemy comes and sows weeds among the wheat. As the plants come up bearing wheat, the weeds appear as well. The field hands offer to pull up the weeds, but the owner shows them that in pulling the weeds they uproot the wheat as well. He tells them that at harvest time the reapers will sort out the wheat from the weeds, which will be bundled and burned.

The parables of Jesus are remarkable in their manner of employing natural and human experiences with which his hearers would be very familiar, as windows onto deeply profound spiritual realities.

In this case they knew the weed to be the bearded darnel. In its early stages of growth it is almost impossible to distinguish from wheat or barley. Also, very commonly, the roots of the two become so intertwined that it would be impossible to separate them without plucking out both.

In explaining the parable to his disciples, Jesus equates the sower of the seed with the "Son of Man." The field is the world, the good seed are the children of God's reign, and the weeds the children of the evil one. The enemy sowing them is the Devil; the reapers at harvest are the angels, and the harvest is the end of the age.

Most commentators view this passage in Matthew to be intended as a message to the Church, about Christ's forbearance in the face of the evil which exists in the Church side by side with the good. It warns church leaders against trying to purge the Church by excommunicating all heretics and sinners, and reminds them that at the end of the age, the good will be separated from the bad.

As a parable of the Reign of God, we also have a description of what it is like in the new order of things which Christ came to establish. Good is always being sown. Evil, often masquerading as good, also is being sown. In the final analysis, only that which is good will have life. Ultimately, evil in all of its forms, will be destroyed.

This is a comforting thought. Unfortunately, after all, the Church at the human level is just like all other institutions. It may have a glorious mission to and for the world and a lofty sounding mission statement; but at that level are human beings possessed of all of our mixed motives, drives for survival and power, confusion, fear, greed and other threats to the Church's mission. This probably includes everybody. If we really took seriously the task of purging the church of sinners, who would be left?

There is a story about a congregation that experienced the infinite regression of purging out its "sinners" from one hundred families down to the last couple. "Only John and I are left," said Alice, "and I don't know about him."

Just imagine the impact of bringing a heresy trial against everyone with a different perspective or belief than our own on matters of significance in church and society.

None of this is to suggest that we ignore issues that we feel passionate about. Or that we ignore behavior for which appropriate discipline by the Church is required. What it does suggest is that we have the blessed assurance that in the midst of all of our own struggle, confusion and sin Christ's mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other is being accomplished now -- albeit only partially -- in and through the Church. Moreover, we are assured that ultimately Christ's mission will be fulfilled completely. As today's psalm puts it: "All nations you have made will come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your Name." (86:9).

In the final analysis, today's message to us is about trusting God to be God. Trusting God's love that while we were yet sinners, God was -- and is -- in Christ reconciling us to God and to each other. Trusting that nothing under the sun or in the Church may separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Savior.

Archbishop †Stefan
Archbishop †Stefan

Mitropolit †Metodij
Mitropolit †Metodij


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Orthodox Icon Gallery


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