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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015


Third Sunday of Pascha: The Myrrh-bearing Women and Righteous Joseph of Arimathea; The Holy Hieromartyr Artemon of Laodicea


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE TWO: When You descended to death, O Life Immortal, You slayed hell with the splendor of Your Godhead! And when from the depths You raised the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of Life! Christ our God! Glory to You!

TROPARION TO JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA - TONE TWO: The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Your most pure Body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.  But You rose on the third day, O Lord, granting the world great mercy.

Troparion TO THE MYRRH-BEARING WOMEN - TONE TWO: The Angel came to the Myrrh-bearing Women at the tomb and said: ‘Myrrh is fitting for the dead; but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption!  So proclaim: ‘The Lord is risen, granting the world great mercy.’’

KONTAKION TO THE MYRRH-BEARING WOMEN - TONE TWO: 
You commanded the myrrh-bearers to rejoice, and stopped the lamentation of Eve, the first mother, by Your resurrection O Christ God, instructing them to preach to Your Apostles: ‘The Savior is risen from the tomb!’

PASCHAL KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT: You descended into the tomb, O Immortal; You destroyed the power of death. In victory You arose, O Christ God, proclaiming “Rejoice” to the myrrh-bearing women, granting peace to Your disciples, and bestowing resurrection on the fallen.

INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET…”: The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!  Again I say: Rejoice!  Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb!  With Himself He has raised all the dead!  Rejoice, all ye people!  Shine!  Shine!  O New Jerusalem!  The glory of the Lord has shone on you!  Exult now and be glad, O Zion!  Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!

INSTEAD OF “WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUE LIGHT…”: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (once)


EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 6th Tone:
O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance.

Third Sunday of Pascha: Acts 6: 1-7
In those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.  Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.  Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  And the saying pleased the whole multitude.  And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.  Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

The Alleluia Verses:
Lord, You were favorable to Your land; You did restore the fortune of Jacob.  Mercy and truth have met; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

GOSPEL READING

Third Sunday of Pascha: Mark 15: 43 – 16: 8  
At that time, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.  So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.  Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen.  And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid. Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.  Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.  And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away - for it was very large.  And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He is risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell His disciples - and Peter - that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”  So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed.  And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for April 13/26 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic

The Hieromartyr Artemon
Artemon was a priest in Laodicea during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Before the tormentor-judge, he spoke of himself: “I am called Artemon, a slave of Christ, my God. For sixteen years I was a reader and read books in the church of my God. For twenty-eight years I was a deacon and read the Holy Gospel. With the help of Christ, I have fulfilled thirty-three years as a presbyter, teaching men and setting them on the path of salvation.” The judge brought him to the temple of Aesculapius, where the soothsayers kept large serpents dedicated to this “god.” They all assumed that the snakes would bite Artemon. Artemon crossed himself and, by the power of the Cross, fixed all the snakes to the ground, rendering them immovable. Then he brought them all out into the courtyard and breathed upon them, and all of them died instantly. All the soothsayers were in great fear. Upon seeing this miracle, Vitalis, the chief soothsayer of this temple, fell to his knees before Artemon and cried out: “Great is the Christian God!” The martyr then baptized him, along with several of his friends. The malicious judge remained persistent in his malice and tortured the aged Artemon in various ways. At one point, he was ready to throw him into a vat of boiling pitch, but the judge himself was thrown off his horse into the pitch, and was killed. Two eagles were seen to swoop down upon the judge, lift him from his horse and drop him into the pitch. St. Artemon remained free for a period of time. He traveled about, always accompanied by his two beloved deer, and instructed the people. He was captured again and beheaded in the year 303; his soul took up habitation in the Kingdom of Christ our God, Whom he had faithfully served.

The Holy Martyr Crescens
Crescens was from the city of Myra in Lycia. He was an honored and well-known citizen. He openly confessed his faith in Christ and mocked the dead idols. For this, he was burned to death by the pagans.

The Holy Martyr Thomais
Thomais was born in Alexandria of honorable parents. She was taught piety from her youth. At the age of fifteen, she was married to an honorable man. Her father-in-law was a vile old man and, in the absence of his son, he attacked his daughter-in-law, desiring to seduce her. Becoming terrified, Thomais reminded her father-in-law of the Law of God and slipped out of his hands. After a prolonged struggle, the father-in-law drew a knife and murdered his daughter-in-law, then cut her in half. At that moment the punishment of God fell upon him. He was instantly blinded and was unable to find the door from which to leave. In that very room he was apprehended in the act and turned over to the court, which sentenced him to death. Thus Thomais suffered for the sake of God’s commandment regarding marital fidelity and chastity. After that, many who were tempted by adulterous passions directed their prayers to St. Thomais and received strong assistance from her. The great ascetic Daniel translated her relics to Scetis and buried them in the cemetery of the hieromonks. St. Thomais suffered in the year 476.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Thomais

Whoever suffers because of his evil deeds,
Does not have a share with the angels.

Whoever suffers for the will of God,
And endures misfortunes for the sake of Christ,
Either from the faithful or from the unfaithful,
Such a one will gaze upon the face of God.

Thomais, handmaiden of God,
Was in her heart truly devout.

But, for the sake of God’s law, she suffered
From her arrogant father-in-law.

“Leave, O Father-in-law, my poor body alone!

Are you not afraid of the Most-high God?

The human body—even though it is plain mud—
Is given to us by God for the sake of the soul.

If we defile the body with sin,
We are breaking the wings of our soul;

We are separating it from the Living God,
And giving it as booty to the unclean one.”

Blinded by passion, the father-in-law cut her to pieces;
“May God forgive!” the righteous one said.

But blindness befell the murderer—
And the doubly blind man crawls through hell.

REFLECTION
When they brought the martyr Crescens (a nobleman of Myra in Lycia) to court, the judge counseled him for a long time, trying to persuade him to worship idols. When he did not succeed, he finally said to Crescens: “Bow down only in body, but in spirit bow down before your God!” To this the honorable Crescens replied: “The body cannot do anything independently of the soul, which is its driving force and leader.” For that Crescens was killed—an obvious lesson that a Christian cannot be duplicitous. Still another lesson: A Christian has an obligation to serve his Creator not only with the soul but also with the body. This refutes the false position of certain Christians, who live physically as pagans, while praising themselves that they believe in God and love God with their souls. They divide themselves in two, placing themselves in the service of two masters, even though the holiest lips proclaimed that to be an impossibility.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:
1. How, because of Thomas, who was momentarily the only unbelieving one among the disciples, He appeared again in His glorified body;
2. How Thomas placed his finger into the wounds of the all-pure body of the Lord and believed.

HOMILY on Thomas’s test

My Lord and my God (John 20:28).
When the Apostle Thomas felt the wounds of the Lord Jesus, he cried out: My Lord and my God!
When Mary Magdalene heard the voice of the Resurrected One in her soul, she cried out: My Lord and my God!
When Saul saw the light and heard the words of the Resurrected One, he acknowledged: My Lord and my God!
When the pagans, in amazement, observed how countless numbers of martyrs joyfully underwent pains and asked them Who this Christ was, all of them replied: My Lord and my God!
When the scoffers ridiculed the army of ascetics and asked them Who He was for Whom they took upon themselves the awesome burden of asceticism, they all had one answer: My Lord and my God!
When the scorners derided the virgins who had vowed their virginity and asked them Who He was for Whom they had renounced marriage, they all had one answer: My Lord and my God!
When the avaricious, in astonishment, asked the wealthy for Whose sake they had distributed their wealth and become beggars, all of them had the same reply: My Lord and my God!
Some have seen Him and have said: My Lord and my God! Some have only heard Him and said: My Lord and my God! Some have only felt Him and said: My Lord and my God! Some have only observed Him in the fabric of events and in the destinies of peoples and said: My Lord and my God! Some have felt His presence in their lives and cried out: My Lord and my God! Some have recognized Him by some sign, to themselves or to others, and cried out: My Lord and my God! Still some have only heard about Him from others and believed and cried out: My Lord and my God! Truly, these last ones are the most blessed!
Let us also exclaim, with all our hearts, regardless of how we have come to recognize Him or learn about Him: My Lord and my God!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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