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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost:
Holy Great-martyr Euphemia the All-praised;
Blessed Olga, Princess of Russia

When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Your Resurrection, they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the apostles: Death is overthrown!  Christ God is risen, granting the world great mercy!

You brought joy to the Orthodox and shame to the defenders of heresy, for you confirmed what the Fathers of the Fourth Council had correctly taught.  Glorious martyr Euphemia, fair virgin of Christ, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.

My Savior and Redeemer as God rose from the tomb and delivered the earthborn from their chains.  He has shattered the gates of hell, and as Master, He has risen on the third day!

For the sake of Christ your Bridegroom you underwent struggles in both martyrdom and faith.  Now intercede with the Mother of God that heresies and the insolent enemies of the Orthodox be placed underfoot.  You received and guarded that which was defined by the six hundred and thirty God-bearing Fathers, all-praised Euphemia.

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!


The Prokimenon in the 4th Tone:
O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Romans 10: 1-10
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.  For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”  But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “’Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  But what does it say?  “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The Alleluia Verses:
Go forth and prosper and reign, because of truth and meekness and righteousness.  You love righteousness and hate iniquity.


Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Matthew 8: 28 – 9: 1
At that time, when Jesus had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.  And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God?  Have You come here to torment us before the time?”  Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.  So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”  And He said to them, “Go.”  So when they had come out they went into the herd of swine.  And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.  And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.  So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.

For July 11/24 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:
The Holy Great-martyr Euphemia
St. Euphemia is commemorated on September 16, the day on which she suffered. On this day is commemorated the miracle-working power of her honorable relics, which was manifested at the time of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon. This Council was convened during the reign of Emperor Marcian and Empress Pulcheria in the year 451, after the death of Emperor Theodosius the Younger. The reason for summoning this Council was the heresy of Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and Eutyches, an archimandrite from Constantinople who had spread the false teaching that in Christ the Lord there are not two natures, divine and human, but only a Divine Nature. At this Council, the most prominent roles were played by Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Because a decision could not be reached through debates and testimonies from both sides, Patriarch Anatolius proposed that the Orthodox and the heretics each write down their confession of faith, and that they then be placed into the coffin where the relics of St. Euphemia lay. They all agreed to this. Therefore, the two confessions of faith were written and placed on the bosom of the great-martyr. The coffin was closed and sealed with the emperor’s seal, and soldiers were commanded to watch over it. All the members of the Council then spent three days in prayer and fasting. When they opened the coffin on the fourth day, they found the Orthodox Confession of Faith in the right hand of the saint and the heretical one under her feet. Thus, by the power of God, the dispute was decided in favor of Orthodoxy. During the reign of Emperor Heraclius, the relics of St. Euphemia were translated from Chalcedon to Constantinople, to the church dedicated to her near the Hippodrome. The iconoclastic Emperor Leo the Isaurian ordered that these relics be thrown into the sea, but the coffin was miraculously transported to the island of Lemnos and was placed in the Church of the Holy Martyr Glyceria. Then, during the reign of the Empress Irene, the coffin with the relics of St. Euphemia was returned to Constantinople, to its former place. From time to time, blood has flowed from St. Euphemia’s relics, to the help those who are ill or in misery.

Saint Helena [Olga]
Helena was a great Russian princess, the wife of Prince Igor, whose name before baptism was Olga. She was baptized by Patriarch Polyeuctus in Constantinople and was very zealous for the Orthodox Faith in Russia. She entered into eternal rest in the year 969.

The Venerable Martyr Nicodemus
Nicodemus was born in Elbasan [in Albania] and was married and had children. Deceived by the Turks, he embraced Islam and forced his children to do likewise, with the exception of one son who fled to Mount Athos, where he was tonsured a monk. Nicodemus traveled to Mount Athos to retrieve his son, but the Holy Mountain made such an impression on him that he repented and returned to the Christian Faith, and was tonsured a monk. For three years he mourned over his apostasy, then he finally decided to return to Albania to atone for his sin in the place where he had committed it. Thus he returned and declared openly that he was a Christian, and the Turks beheaded him on July 11, 1722. His wonderworking relics lie, even today, intact and incorrupt.

The Venerable Martyr Nectarius
Nectarius was born in Vryoulla, in Asia Minor. At age seventeen he was forced to embrace Islam. His fate was similar to that of St. Nicodemus. When he appeared before his mother as a Moslem, she cried out: “Depart from me! I know you not. I bore you as a Christian, not as a Moslem.” He repented bitterly and went to the Holy Mountain. There, in the Skete of St. Anna, he was tonsured a monk. Deciding to suffer for Christ—and thereby to wash away his sin—he returned to Vryoulla, where he suffered martyrdom. He was beheaded for Christ by the Turks in his place of birth, on July 11, 1820, at the age of twenty-one.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Olga, Saint Nicodemus, and Saint Nectarius

God loves penitents:
He suffered for them.

Even now, He beckons sinners
To repentance.

Olga was a penitent,
Born to true life by baptism,
And she liberated the Russian people
From darkness, by the Cross.

And Nicodemus from Elbasan
Turned away from Christ,
But repented and returned—
And paid for sin with blood.

From Asia, Nectarius,
A flower not yet ripened,
In ignorance turned to Islam
And saddened the angels.

But then, repenting and in sorrow,
Gushed forth with streams of tears,
And loved death more than life,
Even a painful death, he loved.

He removed the Moslem turban,
And set it before the terrible judge.

St. Nectarius’s head was taken
For the Honorable Cross.

Christ loves penitents
And will always love them.

Who is so dear to Christ
As a repentant man?

A change of fortune strikes the hardest when it strikes unexpectedly. But to him who anticipates the blow and guards himself against it beforehand, can it be unexpected? The Emperor Charlemagne ordered his sons to learn a trade and his daughters to learn to spin wool, so that they would be able to earn a living, should their fortunes change. The famous and renowned Belisarius, a great general and a great conqueror, was slandered before the king by envious men, and on the basis of these slanders he was blinded and his estate was taken away from him. The blind Belisarius sat before the gates of Rome and begged for alms, saying to passers-by: “Give alms to Belisarius, whom fortune raised on high but envy struck down, depriving him of his sight!” The righteous Job said: Is not a man’s life on earth a trial? Are not his days as those of a hireling? (Job 7:1). Therefore, one must be as a watchful guard and be prepared for all that may happen. What is there that cannot happen to a man? Yet in every suffering one must have hope in God. Covered with festering sores and seated in his humiliation upon a dunghill, the righteous Job cried out: Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him! (Job 13:15).

Contemplate the miraculous illumination of the face of Moses (Exodus 34):
1. How, after his conversation with God on Mount Sinai, the face of Moses shone with brilliant light;
2. How the people saw, and dared not approach Moses, and he placed a veil over his face;
3. How, through sincere prayer and communication with God, the face of a God-pleaser is illuminated.

HOMILY on obedience and humility

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility (I Peter 5:5).
Here is the principle of the true conciliarity (sobornost) of Orthodoxy! It is based on the unconditional obedience of the younger toward the older, on reciprocal obedience of equals among themselves, and on the humility of both the older and the younger. “Lowliness” is a good word, but better is the word “humility,” and the best is “humility of wisdom.” Humility of wisdom corresponds exactly to the Greek word which the apostle used in his epistle. Humility of wisdom signifies thinking of oneself as lowly and of God as exalted, constantly acknowledging one’s helplessness, ignorance, wickedness and unworthiness, and constantly acknowledging the power, wisdom, mercy and dignity of God.
God is the only King of mankind. That is why He opposed the wishes of the Israelites that a king be appointed for them from among the people. God rules, and the people serve God. Those who are in authority and those who submit are equally the servants of God. When it is known and recognized that God is King and that all men are servants of God, then the foundation of conciliarity is established—the foundation of the angelic society. Upon this foundation, then, the house of God, the angelic society, is built, with the help of the obedience of the younger toward the elder, the reciprocal obedience of peers among themselves, and the humility of wisdom of all. In this manner, two terrible evils in the world are avoided: tyranny, wherein one rules many by force, and anarchy or mob rule.
The principle of conciliarity is an organic principle, a living principle. It is the principle of mutual service, mutual help, and mutual love. Brethren, may God endow us with wisdom to avail ourselves of this saving principle.
O Lord Jesus, obedient and humble Lover of mankind, plant and confirm in us obedience to Thy law, mutual obedience out of love, and humility of wisdom before Thine unutterable power and wisdom.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


in Conjunction with the 
Annual Diocesan Assembly

Celebrating the 1st Anniversary of the Canonization of
Sts. Mardarije & Sebastian


September 2-4, 2016
St. Sava Mission
Jackson, CA




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Covek zajednice u Hristu

Човек заједнице у Христу
"Participation in God" in the Theological Anthropology of St Gregory Nazianzen and St Maximus the Confessor
by His Grace Bishop Maxim Vasiljevic


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The Ministry of the Circle of Serbian Sisters




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