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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2015

Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent: Saint John Climacus;
The Holy Forty Martyred Youths of Sebaste;
The Holy Forty-two Martyrs of Momishich 

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE EIGHT:
You descended from on high, O Merciful One! You accepted the three day burial to free us from our sufferings! O Lord, our Life and Resurrection: Glory to You!

TROPARION TO ST. JOHN CLIMACUS - TONE ONE:
O dweller of the desert and angel in the body, you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing father John.  You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil and prayer: healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith.  Glory to Him who gave you strength!  Glory to Him who granted you a crown!  Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!

TROPARION OF THE FORTY HOLY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE - TONE ONE: Together let us honor the holy company united by faith, those noble warriors of the Master of all.  They were divinely enlisted for Christ, and passed through fire and water.  Then they entered into refreshment praying for those who cry: ‘Glory to Him who has strengthened you!  Glory to Him who has crowned you!  Glory to Him who has made you wonderful, O holy forty martyrs!’

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT:
By rising from the tomb You raised the dead and resurrected Adam.  Eve exults in Your Resurrection, and the world celebrates Your rising from the dead, O greatly Merciful One!

KONTAKION TO ST. JOHN CLIMACUS - TONE FOUR:
The Lord truly set you on the heights of abstinence, to be a guiding star, showing the way to the universe, O our father and teacher John.

KONTAKION OF THE FORTY HOLY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE - TONE ONE:to the forty holy martyrs of sebaste – tone six: You abandoned all earthly armies, cleaving to the heavenly Master, O forty martyrs of the Lord.  Having passed through fire and water, O blessed ones, you have fittingly received heavenly glory and many crowns.


KONTAKION OF THE FIVE SUNDAYS OF GREAT LENT
To thee, the Champion Leader, do I offer thanks of victory, O Theotokos, thou who hast delivered me from terror; but as thou that hast that power invincible, O Theotokos, thou alone can set me free: from all forms of danger free me and deliver me, that I may cry unto thee: ‘Rejoice, O Bride without Bridegroom!’

HYMN TO THE THEOTOKOS (INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET”): All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace; the assembly of angels and the race of men.  O sanctified temple and spiritual paradise, the glory of virgins, from whom God was incarnate and became a Child, our God before the ages.  He made your body into a throne, and your womb He made more spacious than the heavens.  All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace.  Glory to you!

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 7th Tone:
The Lord shall give strength to His people!  The Lord shall bless His people with peace!

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Hebrews 6: 13-20
Brethren, for when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.  For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.  Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

St. John Climacus: Ephesians 5: 8-19
Brethren, you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.  Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.  

The Alleluia Verses:
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High!  To declare Your mercy in the morning and Your truth by night!

GOSPEL READING

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Mark 9: 17-31
At that time, one of the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.  And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.  So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”  He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?  Bring him to Me.”  Then they brought him to Him.  And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.  So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”  And he said, “From childhood.  And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.  But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!”  When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”  Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him.  And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.”  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.  And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”  So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it.  For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him.  And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”

St. John Climacus: Matthew 4: 25 – 5: 12
At that time, great multitudes followed Jesus – from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.  And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.  Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for March 9/22 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
All of them were soldiers in the Roman army and steadfastly believed in the Lord Jesus. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Licinius, they were brought to trial before the commander. When he threatened to strip them of their honors as soldiers, one of them, St. Candidus, responded: “Take away from us not only the honor of being soldiers but also our bodies, for nothing is more dear or honorable to us than Christ our God.” After that, the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. While the servants were hurling stones at the Christians, the stones turned and fell back on the servants, forcefully striking them. One of the stones struck the commander’s face and knocked out his teeth. The torturers, angry as wild beasts, bound all of the holy martyrs and threw them into a lake. They then stationed a guard around the lake to prevent any of them from escaping. There was a terrible frost, and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. To increase their pain and suffering, and to persuade even one of them to deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome, the torturers heated and illumined a bath by the side of the lake in sight of the frozen martyrs. Indeed, one of them was persuaded. He came out of the water and entered the bath. And behold, from heaven there appeared an extraordinary light, which warmed the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs. With that light, thirty-nine wreaths descended from heaven over their heads. Upon seeing this, a guard on the shore removed all his clothes, confessed the name of the Lord Jesus and entered the lake so that he could become worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the betrayer. Indeed, the last wreath descended upon him. The next day the entire town was astonished when they saw that the martyrs were still alive. Then the wicked judges ordered that the lower part of their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water so that the Christians could not recover them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to Peter, the local bishop, and summoned him to gather their relics and remove them from the water. The bishop with his clergy went out in the dark of night and beheld the relics of the martyrs shining brightly in the water. Every bone that was separated from their bodies floated to the top and glowed like a candle. Bishop Peter gathered and honorably buried them. The souls of these martyrs went to the Lord Jesus, Who suffered for all of us and resurrected with glory. They suffered honorably and were crowned with unfading glory in the year 320.

The Venerable Philoromus
He lived and mortified himself in Galatia in the fourth century. It is said about him that he was so perfected in all the virtues that he resembled an angel rather than a man. He was especially glorified because of his patience. He was persecuted by the Emperor Julian the Apostate and suffered much for Christ. After the death of Julian the wicked persecutor of Christ, St. Philoromus lived peacefully, benefitting many. He reposed in his eightieth year.

Saint Caesarius
St. Caesarius (†369), the brother of Gregory the Theologian, was also a theological writer. Among other things he attempted to answer the question: How long a time did Adam and Eve spend in Paradise before their expulsion? Some have determined the time to be six hours; others, twenty-four hours; and still others, three days. St. Caesarius was of the mind that the length of time was forty days. “Because,” he says, “our Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness and during that time He was tempted by the devil. Since the old Adam could not resist the temptation of the devil in the abundance of Paradise, the new Adam resisted the devil valiantly in the hungry and thirsty wilderness.”

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Forty Martyrs

Martyrs in the lake, shackled by frost,
Strongly adhering to the Holy Faith, illumined by hope,
Cried out to their beloved God: “Thou, Who didst astonish the world
By Thine awesome sacrifice and Resurrection—Oh, do Thou enliven us!

The firmament of heaven and all created things glorify Thee;
Behold, the abyss, fire, hail, snow, ice and heat glorify Thee!

Thou didst help the great Moses, Thy servant,
And Joshua Son of Nun, and after that Elisha,
By commanding nature to calm and divide the waters.

Now help Thy faithful as Thou hast until now.

Do not allow the frost to be stronger than man,
That we, Forty Martyrs, not become the subject of scorn.

Oh, Thou canst, if Thou willest, for Thou rulest over all;
Thou, when Thou wantest, canst change ice into heat and heat into ice.

For Thy name, the frost consumes us as an angry beast—
Oh, help us that the name of the Almighty may be praised!”

Martyrs in the lake, shackled by frost,
Were warmed from heaven by God’s light.

Gloriously they fell and remained Forty Martyrs
To the fear, horror and shame of the darkened unbelievers.

REFLECTION

Conceal your spiritual treasures and do not reveal them unnecessarily. Behold how men conceal and hide their material wealth, and how, when forced to reveal how much they have, they always conceal the greater amount and only reveal the lesser. Very few are they who wish to reveal all that they possess, and fewer still are those who would declare that they have more than they actually possess (and these the world considers frivolous and mindless). This clearly shows you how you need to conceal your spiritual wealth, that is, your virtues, good works, fasting, vigils and prayers. Why do not the wise children of this world reveal their material wealth? For two reasons: So that neither would thieves hear of it, nor would evil men be provoked to envy. There also exist envious men and jealous thieves in regard to spiritual treasure. They are the spirits of malice. As soon as you reveal your spiritual treasure, they will endeavor to belittle it and to squander it. Just as soon as you reveal it without need—let us say, out of vanity, so as to be praised—they seize it and disparage it. And you, O rich man of spiritual treasure, will imperceptibly and suddenly become a poor man. Many who were spiritually rich, the saints, made themselves out to be fools before the world so that, by appearing foolish, they would conceal their great wisdom and strength within themselves. Abba Isaiah writes: “Those good works that are performed in secret are more pleasing to God.” St. Nilus of Sinai says: “The covered skin of the body is white, but the uncovered skin is parched and black.” So it is with our concealed and our revealed good works.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus in the hands of God’s enemies gathered together in the home of Caiaphas:

1. How all of them hurriedly sought false witnesses, for they wanted by any means to kill Christ;

2. How they spat in His face and struck Him on the face;

3. How our Lord endured all with unspeakable dignity and without anger.

HOMILY on enduring to the end

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matthew 24:13).

O Lord most wonderful, Thou hast endured all—everything to the end. That is why Thou becamest not only blessed but also the source of blessings for all men who desire good for themselves throughout the ages. The apostles endured all to the end and entered into blessed eternity. The saints willingly endured difficulties and sufferings to the end and were glorified in heaven and on earth. The martyrs willingly endured all pains to the end and became the adopted fellow heirs of the Kingdom of Christ. Every founder of a new organization recruits followers for himself with the promise of good fruits and many pleasures, but deliberately remains silent about the hardships and labors that lead to those fruits and pleasures. Our Lord Jesus is the only one Who spoke the whole truth to His followers—both the bitter and the sweet side of the truth. He did not promise fruits without service, glory without suffering, ultimate rest without the thorny path, victory without struggle, pleasure without bitterness, or the Kingdom without tears and self-denial. Although our Lord enumerated the many difficulties that would befall His followers, in the end He does not abandon them without consolation. He gives meaning to their sufferings and does not leave them in darkness. He says: He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And what that blessing is which awaits those who endure to the end, He Himself has sufficiently revealed. This blessing has been witnessed to even until today and continues to be witnessed to by many saints, who have either appeared in glory to the faithful from the other world or who, while yet in the flesh, were raised in the spirit to a vision of that glory and blessedness which await those who are faithful, elect and persevering. O Lord, Thou art our strength. Help us to endure to the end in the faith that Thou art beside us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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