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 WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2017

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: AFTERFEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS; SUNDAY BEFORE THE EXALTATION OF THE LIFE-GIVING CROSS; VENERABLE MOTHER THEODORA OF ALEXANDRIA; VENERABLE SERGIUS AND HERMAN OF VALAAM

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SEVEN: By Thy Cross, Thou didst destroy death! To the thief, Thou didst open Paradise! For the myrrh bearers, Thou didst change weeping into joy! And Thou didst command Thy disciples, O Christ God, to proclaim that Thou art risen, granting the world great mercy!

THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS TROPARION - TONE FOUR: Thy nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from thee, O Mother of God!  By annulling the curse He has bestowed a blessing; by destroying death He has granted us eternal life.

TROPARION TO VENERABLE MOTHER THEODORA – TONE FOUR: You offered your life as a holy gift, O righteous Theodora, for resplendent with the light of repentance, you illumined mankind.  Now pray to Christ who has magnified you to grant us his great mercy!

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE SEVEN:  The dominion of death can no longer hold man captive, for Christ descended, shattering and destroying its powers!  Hell is bound, while the prophets rejoice and cry: ‘The Savior has come to those in faith!  Enter you faithful into the Resurrection!’

KONTAKION TO VENERABLE MOTHER THEODORA – TONE TWO: You depleted your bodily strength by fasting, vigil, and prayers, entreating the Creator to grant forgiveness of your sin; having received it, you showed us the way of repentance, venerable Mother Theodora.

THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS KONTAKION - TONE FOUR:  By thy nativity, O Most-pure Virgin, Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness, and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. And we, thy people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to thee: ‘The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the Nourisher of our life!’

HYMN TO THE THEOTOKOS (REPLACES "IT IS TRULY MEET"): Magnify, O my soul, the Virgin Mary, born of a barren womb.  Virginity is foreign to mothers; childbearing is strange for virgins. But in you, O Theotokos, both were accomplished!  For this, all the earthly nations unceasingly magnify you!

EPISTLE READINGS

THE PROKEIMENON IN TONE SIX: O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.

SUNDAY BEFORE THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS: GALATIANS 6: 11-18:  Brethren, see with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: 2 CORINTHIANS 6: 1-10:  Brethren, we then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For He says, “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.”  Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.  But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

THE ALLELUIA VERSES: I have raised up one chosen out of My people; with My holy oil have I anointed him.  For My hand shall be unto him an ally, and Mine arm shall strengthen him.

GOSPEL READINGS

SUNDAY BEFORE THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS: JOHN 3: 13-17Jesus said, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: MATTHEW 25: 14-30:  Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.’  Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.  Look, there you have what is yours.’  But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

FROM THE PROLOGUE:
SEPTEMBER 11/24, BY SAINT NIKOLAI VELIMIROVIC:

The Venerable Theodora
Theodora was from Alexandria and the wife of a young man. Persuaded by a fortune-teller, she committed adultery with another man and immediately felt the bitter pangs of conscience. She cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothing and entered the Monastery of Octodecatos, under the male name of Theodore. Her labor, fasting, vigilance, humbleness and tearful repentance amazed the entire brotherhood. When a promiscuous young woman slandered her, saying that Theodore had made her pregnant, Theodora did not want to justify herself, but considered this slander as a punishment from God for her earlier sin. Banished from the monastery, she spent seven years living in the forest and wilderness and, in addition, caring for the child of that promiscuous girl. She overcame all diabolical temptations: she refused to worship Satan, refused to accept food from the hands of a soldier, and refused to heed the pleas of her husband to return to him—for all of this was only a diabolical illusion, and as soon as Theodora made the sign of the Cross everything vanished as smoke. After seven years, the abbot received her back into the monastery, where she lived for two more years, and reposed in the Lord. Only then did the monks learn that she was a woman; an angel appeared to the abbot and explained everything to him. Her husband came to the burial, and then remained in the cell of his former wife until his repose. St. Theodora possessed much grace from God: she tamed wild beasts, healed infirmities, and brought forth water from a dry well. Thus, God glorified a true penitent, who with heroic patience repented nine years for just one sin. She reposed in the year 490.

Saint Paphnutius the Confessor
Paphnutius was the Bishop of Taiski in the Egyptian Thebaid. He suffered greatly for the Orthodox Faith. The heretics gouged out one of his eyes and broke his left leg. He participated in the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325], refuting the heresy of Arius with great vigor. Emperor Constantine greatly respected him, and often kissed him on his missing eye, gouged out for the truth of Orthodoxy. He stood decisively against the western representatives at the Council who proposed that secular priests be completely forbidden marriage. Paphnutius was chaste his entire life.

The Venerable Euphrosynus the Cook
Euphrosynus was a simple man, but a man of God. He served as the cook in an Amorean monastery in the ninth century. One night, the spiritual father of this monastery saw himself in Paradise, and saw Euphrosynus there as well. Euphrosynus picked and gave him three apples from Paradise. When the spiritual father awoke, he saw three unusually beautiful and fragrant apples by his pillow. He quickly found Euphrosynus and asked him: “Where were you last night, brother?” “I was where you were, father,” the blessed God-pleaser replied. The spiritual father then revealed the entire incident to the monks, and all recognized the sanctity and godliness of Euphrosynus. But Euphrosynus, fearing the praise of men, immediately fled the monastery and hid in the wilderness, where he spent the remainder of his life.

The Holy Martyr Ia
Ia was denounced by idolatrous priests and suffered for the Lord in Persia during the reign of Sapor II, in 363. According to tradition, the sun became dark at the time of her death, and all the air was filled with a wondrous fragrance. She is glorified by the Lord forever.

Holy Martyrs Diodorus, Didymus and Diomedes
They were flogged for the sake of Christ in Laodicea, and gave their souls into the hands of their Lord.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Theodora
Wretched Theodora was tangled in sin;
Glorious Theodora was forgiven her sin.
One sin she ransomed with a hundred virtues
And the eternal mercy of the Son of God.
She thrust from herself diabolical suggestions,
And meekly endured the slanders of men.
Her mind immersed in her Lord,
Her thoughts were freed from earthly dust.
To the end, she submitted to God’s will,
And thus was worthy of God’s Paradise.
St. Theodora, citizen of Paradise,
Now help us, O God-pleaser!
That we sinners also be delivered from sin
And live with you as inhabitants of Paradise.
You were given power, before and after death,
To destroy all the snares of the enemy.
Because of your love, God gave you power,
And even the demons fear your power.
Now you worship Christ with all the saints,
And protect us from bitter attacks.

REFLECTION
One must not hinder anyone on the path of perfect devotion and service to God. Many saintly women who wanted to flee from marriage and devote themselves to God were pursued and hindered in this by their husbands. These women were usually victorious in the end, remaining steadfast in their intention, and often awakened the consciences of their husbands by their example, and directed them on the path of salvation. St. Theodora, dressed in men’s clothing, had to carefully hide from her husband, and she retreated to a men’s monastery. However, there were prudent husbands who approved their wives’ intentions, permitting their withdrawal from the world to devote their lives completely to God. King Frederick was betrothed to a Czech maiden, Agnes. But she never agreed to enter into marriage, and broke her betrothal, fleeing to a monastery. Then the prudent king said: “Had she left me for a mortal man, I would have sought revenge; but I must not find myself insulted that she chose the Heavenly King in place of me.”

HOMILY on Christ as the Bread of life

I am the Bread of life (John 6:35).
Who can give life, my brethren, other than the One who created it? Who, in truth, can the Bread of life be, other than our Creator? He created, He sustains, He nourishes and He gives life. If wheat nourishes the body, Christ nourishes the soul. If our body is sustained by earthly bread, our soul is nourished and lives by Christ. If our souls are nourished by some other food, and not by Christ, our souls decay and die, and do not live. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life (John 6:27). So says the Lord in a previous statement. First, He examines the hunger of men and then offers bread to satisfy it. Indeed, He offers the hunger, and then bread, for men are confused with regard to hunger. They are hungry for something but do not know what. Even when satisfied with earthly food and even when overfilled, they feel a certain insatiable hunger. Although they see that the whole earth, and all the bread on earth, cannot satisfy this mysterious hunger, they rush after earthly food; they vie for the earth and only for the earth. The true hunger of men is the hunger for heaven, for eternal life, for God. The Lord Jesus first emphasizes that hunger, and then prepares the meal for its satisfaction. He Himself is that meal: I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger (John 6:35). They shall be satisfied, they shall rejoice, they shall be enlivened, they shall know God, and they shall know themselves. O my brethren, He will raise them from the dead! For constant feeding on the food which perishes, without immortal, spiritual food, gradually dulls the soul and finally renders it completely dead. Dead of what? Of hunger. The body is of the earth and is satisfied with earthly food, but the soul is of the breath of the Source of life Himself, and seeks food and drink from its one and only Source.

 O Lord Jesus, Bread of eternal life, of true and imperishable life, sweetest Bread—nourish us with Thyself.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. 


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