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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meat-fare); Saint Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna; Saint Photius,
Patriarch of Constantinople

When Thou didst descend to death, O Life Immortal, Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead! And when from the depths Thou didst raise the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of Life! Christ our God! Glory to Thee!

You shone with the rays of virtue received from him who leaned on the Master’s breast.  Resplendent, God-inspired hierarch, you led your flock to the pastures of truth.  Entreat Christ our God for those who honor you, father Bucolus.

Follower of the Apostles’ way and teacher of mankind: intercede, O Photius, with the Lord of all, to grant peace to the world, and to our souls great mercy.

Hell became afraid, O Almighty Savior, seeing the miracle of Thy Resurrection from the tomb!  The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with Thee! And the world, O my Savior, praises Thee forever.

He who was beloved of Christ saw the purity of your life; he made you a shepherd of the Church and a radiant lamp of godliness.  Holy father Bucolus, you truly emulated his virtues.

SUNDAY OF THE LAST JUDGMENT KONTAKION - TONE ONE:  When Thou, O God, shall come to earth with glory, all things shall tremble and the river of fire shall flow before Thy judgment seat; the books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed.  Deliver me then from the unquenchable fire and make me worthy to stand at Thy right hand, O Righteous Judge.


The Prokimenon in the 3rd Tone:
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

Sunday of the Last Judgment: 1 Corinthians 8:8–9:2 
Brethren, food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.  But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.  For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?  And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?  But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.  Am I not an apostle?  Am I not free?  Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?  Are you not my work in the Lord?  If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you.  For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

The Alleluia Verses:
Come let us rejoice in the Lord!  Let us make a joyful noise to God our Savior!  Let us come before His face with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with psalms!


Sunday of the Last Judgment: Matthew 25: 31-46
Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’.  Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me’.  Then they will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’.  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

From The Prologue
February 6/19 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Saint Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna
Bucolus was a disciple of St. John the Theologian, who consecrated him Bishop of Smyrna. In Smyrna there were few that were baptized. In the darkness of paganism, St. Bucolus shone as a bright candle. He distinguished himself with every virtue, especially meekness and humility. Before his death, Bucolus consecrated the glorious Polycarp as his successor to the episcopacy. He died peacefully and took up his habitation with the Lord.

The Holy Martyr Fausta
Fausta was martyred for Christ during the reign of Emperor Maximian (305–311). By her heroism, Fausta astonished her persecutors and succeeded in converting two of them to Christianity: the eighty-year-old pagan priest Evilasius and the Eparch Maximus. When the judge threatened Fausta with more severe tortures, she asked him to make her a picture depicting all those tortures with which he threatened her. When the picture was completed, it was shown to her. St. Fausta said: “As this picture feels no pain, so my body feels no pain from your punishments, for my soul is secure in the Lord.” The judge then threw her into a vat of boiling hot water, where this thirteen-year-old girl died with prayer on her lips, and her soul entered Paradise.

The Holy Martyr Dorothea
Dorothea was a prominent and beautiful maiden from Caesarea in Cappadocia. Sapricius, the administrator of the province, turned Dorothea over to the two pagan sisters, Christina and Kallista, in order to turn her from Christ. But the opposite occurred: Dorothea succeeded in converting both sisters to the Christian Faith. Enraged, Sapricius ordered that the two sisters be bound back to back, thrown into a vat of pitch and set on fire. He then sentenced Dorothea to death. She joyfully heard the sentence and cried out: “I give thanks to Thee, O Christ, Lover of souls, that Thou art leading me into Thine all-holy mansions!” Theophilus, a certain nobleman who was present, laughed at these words and cried out to Dorothea: “Listen, O bride of Christ—send me apples and flowers from the pomegranate tree in your bridegroom’s Paradise.” “Indeed, I will do that,” replied the martyr. When Dorothea was at the place of execution, suddenly a beautiful young man appeared with three beautiful apples and three red flowers from the pomegranate. This was an angel of God, and it was winter. Dorothea asked the angel to take them to Theophilus and tell him: “Behold, this is what you desired!” When Theophilus received the message and saw the gift, he was thoroughly frightened. Everything turned upside down for him, and he, a confirmed pagan, became a Christian. He was tortured and slain for Christ, and his soul entered the Paradise of the Lord Jesus soon after that of St. Dorothea.

Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople
Photius was a great beacon of the Church. He was a relative of the emperor and a grandson of the glorious Patriarch Tarasius. He vigorously protected the Church from papal love of power and other Roman distortions of the Faith. In six days he went through all the ecclesiastical ranks, rising from a layman to patriarch. He was consecrated Patriarch on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ in the year 857, and he reposed in the Lord in the year 891.

The Venerable Saints Barsanuphius and John
Both Barsanuphius and John were great ascetics, clairvoyants and miracle-workers from Gaza. They left a famous work entitled The Book of Answers, which deals with many questions about the spiritual life. They lived in the sixth century.

The Holy Martyrs Martha and Mary, and their brother Lycarion

All three were crucified for Christ and then pierced and slain with a lance.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saints Martha, Mary and Lycarion

Saints Martha and Mary are sisters by birth,
And Lycarion is their small brother, of little strength.

Their aged mother, a sweet soul, teaches them well:
“Love Christ, my children, for He suffered for us.”

Here the commander comes, awesome and powerful.

A violent man, he slays those faithful to Christ.

The sisters open the door to their home;
They have no fear of the belligerent man.

“Hearken, O commander of the Emperor, we are Christians;
We are not like you, whom the demon sold to the devil.”

The malicious commander raised them on a cross;
At that moment the young Lycarion drew near:
“I too, I too am a Christian! Crucify me also!”

The pains on the cross are unbearable; their mother trembles.

She kisses the feet of each of her children—
Their broken feet that hang down, bloodied, from the cross.

With tormented voices from their crosses, the daughters console her:
“Do not be broken with sorrow for us, dearest Mother.
You taught us love for Christ.
The torment is brief, Sweetness will be sweet in Paradise.
In the radiance of Paradise we will await you, Mother—
Your glorious son Lycarion and your two daughters—
Oh, rejoice in such fruits of your womb!”

Like a fiery pillar, the mother’s countenance begins to beam:
“Blessed are you, my dear children—oh, blessed am I!”

St. Barsanuphius, who for fifty years lived secluded in a cell and did not allow himself to be seen by any living person, attained exceptional purity and perceptiveness through divine contemplation and prayer. Here are a few thoughts from his Book of Answers: “Every thought which is not preceded by the silence of humility does not proceed from God. All that is from the devil occurs with confusion and disturbance.” “When you pray and God delays fulfilling your request, He does this for your benefit, in order to teach you forbearance.” “Visible thieves are servants of invisible, noetic thieves.” “The Lord Jesus Christ endured all things and finally ascended the Cross, which signifies the deadening of the body and the passions and a holy and perfect rest.” “Our Lord wants you to honor every man more than yourself.” When they asked the elder whether they should hire an advocate regarding a dispute between the monastery and certain men, the elder replied: “If you purchase the defense of men, then God will not defend you.”


Contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Laborer:
1. As a physical Laborer through many long years;
2. As a spiritual Laborer, Who constantly taught man, comforted man and healed man, giving the new covenant to the world;
3. As a tireless Laborer, Who left the commandment: Walk while ye have the light (John 12:35).

on the mutual knowledge of the Father and the Son

I know Him: for I am from Him, and He hath sent Me (John 7:29).

No one has ever dared say that he knows God. Many have merely said that they believe in God. Only our Lord Jesus Christ spoke the words I know Him. And immediately He explained from where He knows Him, saying: For I am from Him, and He hath sent Me. The first reason, I am from Him, testifies to the eternal being of the Son; and the second reason, and He hath sent Me, testifies to the manifestation of the Son in time, in the physical world, as an emissary of the Holy Trinity.

For us who are Christ-believing, it is not given to know the Father as His Only-begotten Son knows Him. To us it is given and commanded that we believe. Our merit is in believing and not in knowing. If all of us knew God by seeing, no one would have any merit. For what kind of merit is there in seeing and recognizing? However, not to see and yet to believe—in this there is merit, in this there is virtue, in this is our salvation. We are not worthy to see God and by seeing Him to know Him, for we are weakened by sin and alienated from God. But the mercy of God gives us faith while in this life, which is able to bring us closer to God and lead us into the Eternal Kingdom of seeing and knowing in the life to come. O my brethren, let us believe in Christ the Lord, for He knows. He does not speak by faith but by knowing.

O Merciful Lord, strengthen our faith. Extend the hem of Thy garment that we may hold onto it to the end of our lives.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


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