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THE CANONIZATION OF STS. SEBASTIAN AND MARDARIJE 

Save the Date!  SEPTEMBER 4, 5, 6, 2015!  Labor Day Weekend!
19th Annual Diocesan Days Gathering

HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH IRINEJ
HAS BEEN INVITED AND WILL ATTEND

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LETTER OF INVITATION FROM HIS GRACE BISHOP MAXIM


WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, July 12, 2015

6th Sunday after Pentecost:
The Holy, Glorious, and All-praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FIVE: Let us, the faithful, praise and worship the Word, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit; born for our salvation from the Virgin.  For He willed to be lifted up on the Cross in the flesh, to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

TROPARION TO SAINTS PETER AND PAUL - TONE FOUR: First-enthroned of the apostles, teachers of the universe: Entreat the Master of all to grant peace to the world, and to our souls great mercy!

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE FIVE: You descended into hell, O my Savior, shattering its gates as Almighty; resurrecting the dead as Creator, and destroying the sting of death.  You have delivered Adam from the curse, O Lover of Mankind, and we all cry to You: O Lord, save us!

KONTAKION TO SAINTS PETER ADN PAUL - TONE TWO: O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest and to the enjoyment of Your blessings the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles, for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

ANOTHER KONTAKION TO SAINTS PETER ADN PAUL - TONE TWO: Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor the rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles, together with Paul and the company of the twelve, whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith, giving glory to the One who gave glory to them!

HYMN TO THE MOTHER OF GOD - TONE SIX:  Steadfast Protectress of Christians and constant advocate before the Creator, do not despise the cry of us sinners; but in your goodness come speedily to help us who call on you in faith.  Hasten to hear our petition and to intercede for us, O Theotokos, for you always protect those who honor you!

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 5th Tone: You, O Lord, shall protect us and preserve us from this generation forever!

6th after Pentecost: Romans 12: 6-14
Brethren, having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:  if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil.  Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Saints Peter and Paul: 2 Corinthians 11: 21 – 12: 9
Brethren, to our shame I say that we were too weak for that!  But in whatever anyone is bold - I speak foolishly - I am bold also.  Are they Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  Are they the seed of Abraham?  So am I.  Are they ministers of Christ?  I speak as a fool - I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak?  Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?  If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.  In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.  It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast.  I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.  For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth.  But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The Alleluia Verses:
I will sing of Thy mercies, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Thy truth from generation to generation. Thou hast said: Mercy will be established forever, and My truth will be prepared in the heavens.

GOSPEL READING

6th after Pentecost: Matthew 9: 1-8
At that time, Jesus got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.  Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” - then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”  And he arose and departed to his house.  Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Saints Peter and Paul: Matthew 16: 13-19
At that time, when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”  So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for June 29/July 12 by
St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Apostle Peter
Peter was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew the First-called. He was of the tribe of Simeon, from 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 (John 1:42). He was the first of the disciples to clearly express faith in the Lord Jesus, saying: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). His love for the Lord was great, and his faith in the Lord became gradually stronger. When the Lord was brought to trial, Peter denied Him three times; but after only one glance into the face of the Lord, Peter’s soul was filled with shame and repentance. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter showed himself to be a fearless and powerful preacher of the Gospel. Following one of his sermons in Jerusalem, three thousand souls were converted to the Faith. He preached the Gospel in Palestine, Asia Minor, Illyria and Italy. Peter worked many powerful miracles: he healed the sick and resurrected the dead, and the sick were healed even from his shadow. He had a great struggle with Simon the Magician, who proclaimed himself to be a god, but who was in reality a servant of Satan. Peter finally shamed and defeated him. By order of Simon’s friend, the evil Emperor Nero, Peter was condemned to death. Having consecrated Linus Bishop of Rome, and having counseled and comforted the flock of Christ, Peter proceeded joyfully to his death. Seeing the cross before him, he begged his executioners to crucify him upside down, for he considered himself unworthy to die as had his Lord. Thus, this great servant of the Great Lord reposed and received a wreath of eternal glory.

The Holy Apostle Paul
Paul was born in Tarsus and was of the tribe of Benjamin. At first he was called Saul. He studied under Gamaliel, and was a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christianity. He was miraculously 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 numbered in the service of the Great Apostles. With fiery zeal Paul preached the Gospel everywhere, from the borders of Arabia to Spain, among the Jews and among the Gentiles, and received the title “the Apostle to the Gentiles.” As horrible as his sufferings were, so much greater was his superhuman patience. Throughout all the years of his preaching, Paul hung from day to day as on a weak thread between life and death. Having filled all his days and nights with labor and suffering for Christ, having organized the Church in many places, and having attained such a degree of perfection, he was able to say: not I, but Christ liveth in me (Galatians 2:20). Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero, at the same time as the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saints Peter and Paul
Unlearned and learned, but equal in spirit,
And as strong as angels in the love of God,
Peter a simple man, Paul educated,
Both were illumined by the grace of the Spirit.

Two flaming candles, unquenchable candles,
Towering and beautiful, two brilliant stars.

They traversed the earth and spread the light.

Nothing did they take, but to men they gave all;
They were utterly poor, but enriched the world;
They were prisoners and servants, but conquered the whole world.

With the teaching of Christ they enriched the world;
With new weapons they conquered the whole world:
With humility and peace and blessed meekness,
With prayer and fasting and powerful mercy.

When their stormy day passed into stormy night,
Bloodthirsty Nero cut short their lives.

But when Nero, the ruler of the world, issued a command,
Giving Peter and Paul over to suffering,
The world was theirs and no longer Nero’s;
By death the apostles gained the Kingdom.

REFLECTION
Simon Peter and Simon the Magician. The enemies of Christianity frequently like to cite examples of great miracle-workers among the pagans in order to deceive the gullible, denigrate the Christian Faith and exalt paganism, sorcery, soothsaying, satanism and every other charlatanism. There is no doubt that Satan through his servants also attempts to perform miracles, but none the miracles of his servants proceed from love for man, compassion, mercy or faith in God, but rather from pride, selfishness, vanity and hatred for mankind. A Christian should learn from the story of the apostles to differentiate divine miracles from satanic deceits and fantasies. Only let him recall the Apostle Peter and Simon the Magician. Let him compare the miracles of Peter with the so-called miracles of Simon. The apostle converted the stony hearts of men into noble hearts, he cured the sick, and he raised the dead—and all of this by prayer and faith in the Living God. However, Simon the Magician amazed the people with diabolical illusions. The Apostle Peter was a friend of God, and Simon the Magician was a friend and protégé of the perverted Emperor Nero, who ended his life by suicide. The miracles of the pagan fakirs belong to the same category as the illusions and deceits of Simon the Magician. Just as from a distance hot sand resembles water, so also the “miracles” of the fakirs resemble the life-creating miracles of Christianity.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous healing of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46):
1. How Bartimaeus begged the Lord: “Have mercy on me!”
2. How the Lord said, “See!” and he saw;
3. How, if I pray, the word of the Lord can also give sight to my blinded soul.

HOMILY on the fear of God
Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear  (I Peter 1:17).
These are the words of the great Apostle Peter, words that have a dual foundation: heavenly inspiration and personal experience. By divine inspiration, the simple fisherman Peter became a teacher of the people, a pillar of the Faith and a powerful miracle-worker. Through his own experience, he learned that all of his wisdom and power was of God and that one should thus possess the fear of God: no other fear but the fear of God.
The fool becomes frightened only when lightning flashes and thunder cracks, but the wise man fears God every day and every hour. The Creator of lightning and thunder is more awesome than both of them, and He does not appear before you from time to time as do lightning and thunder, but He is continually before you and does not leave you. That is why it is not enough to have fear of God from time to time, but one must breathe the fear of God. The fear of God is the fresh ozone in the suffocating atmosphere of our soul. This ozone brings purity, lightness, sweet fragrance and health. Until he had become strengthened in the fear of God, Peter was only Peter and not an apostle, a hero, a teacher of the people, and a miracle-worker.
O my brethren, let us not rejoice before the harvest. This life of ours is not the harvest, but a time of sowing and labor and sweat and fear. The sower lives in fear until he has gathered the fruits from the field. Let us also delay our rejoicing until the day of harvest, for now is the time for labor and fear. Will I be saved? This question should torment every one of us in the same way that the sower is tormented by the question: Will I reap the fruit of my labor in the field? The sower labors and fears every day. Let us also labor and fear “all the time of our sojourning” on earth.
O awesome and powerful Lord, sustain us in Thy fear.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Sts Sebastian and Mardarije 3

Holy Missionaries SEBASTIAN of San Francisco and Jackson, and MARDARIJE of Chicago and Libertyville, Newly Proclaimed Saints of the Orthodox Church 

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 STS. MARARDIJE AND SEBASTIAN
Celebrating Two New American Saints


Dear Reverend Fathers and Council Members,


With this letter I want to share with you the most God-pleasing and most important news of the establishment of new feast days in the Calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session on May 29, 2015, added the names of Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville, and Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovich) of San Francisco and Jackson, clergymen and preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries, to the Dyptich of Saints (Calendar of Saints) of the Orthodox Church. Glory to God! Once again, through the lives of these two saints, we see our Orthodox Church as a faith that produces holy persons, “enriches the world with saints” and insists on an ethos of holiness.

This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world. When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries. The feast of Holy Hierarch Mardarije will be celebrated on November 29/December 12, while that of the Venerable Sebastian will be celebrated on November 17/30.

The Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America plans to celebrate their public and liturgical glorification at St Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, California, on September 5, 2015.

The Serbian Patriarch, His Holiness Irinej, HAS BEEN INVITED AND WILL ATTEND. His Holiness will lead the liturgical festivities, accompanied by the ruling hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in the USA, along with many civil dignitaries and special invited guests.

The program for the festivities can be found here: http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/canonization

With this official invitation we ask you for your presence at a most unique event celebrating these new Serbian American Saints, commemorating the lives of Holy Enlighteners and Apostles of the Church in America.

Please put this date in your calendar in order to be with us on this solemn and important day.

Please let us know if there is anything you need to announce this joyous news to your Community.

With love and esteem in Christ,

Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Western American Diocese

 

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