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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, January 22, 2017 

Thirty-first Sunday after Pentecost; Sunday after Theophany; The Holy Martyr Polyeuctus; The Holy Hieromartyr Phillip, Metropolitan of Moscow

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SIX: The angelic powers were at Thy tomb; and the guards became as dead men; and Mary stood by Thy grave, seeking Thy most pure Body. Thou didst capture hell, not being tempted by it. Thou didst come to the Virgin, granting life. O Lord who rose from the dead: Glory to Thee!

THEOPHANY TROPARION - TONE ONE: When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest!  For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, and called Thee His beloved Son; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word.  O Christ our God, who has revealed Thyself and has enlightened the world, glory to Thee!

TROPARION TO THE HOLY MARTYR POLYEUCTUC - TONE FOUR: Your holy martyr Polyeuctus, O Lord, through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.  For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries, and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.  Through his intercessions, save our souls.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE SIX: When Christ God, the Giver of Life, raised all of the dead from the valleys of misery with His mighty hand, He bestowed resurrection on the human race. He is the Savior of all, the Resurrection, the Life, and God of all.

KONTAKION TO THE HOLY MARTYR POLYEUCTUC - TONE FOUR: When the Savior bowed His head in the Jordan, the heads of the dragons were crushed; when Polyeuctus was beheaded, the deceiver was put to shame.

THEOPHANY KONTAKION - TONE FOUR: Today Thou hast appeared to the universe and Thy light, O Lord, has shone on us, who with understanding praise Thee: Thou hast come and revealed Thyself, O Light Unapproachable!

INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET…”: Magnify, O my soul, the most pure Virgin Mother of God, more honorable than the heavenly hosts!  No tongue is capable of praising you worthily; the angelic mind is overawed in exalting you, O Mother of God!  But accept our faith, since you are gracious and know our divine love.  You are the protectress of Christians, and we praise you!

EPISTLE READING

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

Sunday after Theophany: Ephesians 4: 7-13    
Brethren, to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”  Now this, “He ascended” - what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The Alleluia Verses:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the heavenly God.  He will say to the Lord: My Protector and my Refuge; my God in whom I trust. 

GOSPEL READING

Sunday after Theophany: Matthew 4: 12-17   
At that time when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.  And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”  From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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

The Holy Martyr Polyeuctus
The Armenian city of Melitene was drenched with the blood of Christians, as was the entire country of Armenia. The first blood shed for Christ in this city was that of St. Polyeuctus in the year 259, during the reign of Valerian. In Melitene were two friends: Nearchus and Polyeuctus. Both were officers—Nearchus was baptized and Polyeuctus was unbaptized. When the command of the emperor was sent out concerning the persecution of the Christians, Nearchus prepared for death; but he was in great sorrow because he had not succeeded in converting his friend Polyeuctus to the true Faith. When Polyeuctus learned of the reason for Nearchus’s sorrow, he promised to embrace the Faith. The following day Polyeuctus related this dream to Nearchus: the Lord Himself had appeared to him in light, removed Polyeuctus’s old clothes from him and dressed him in radiant new clothes and sat him in the saddle of a winged horse. After this, Polyeuctus went to town, shredded the emperor’s decree concerning the torturing of Christians, and destroyed many statues of idols. He was tortured and condemned to death. When he was brought to the place of execution, he looked at Nearchus in the throng of people and joyfully cried out to him: “Save yourself, my dear friend! Remember the vow of love confirmed between the two of us!” Later, St. Nearchus died by fire as a martyr for Christ. St. Nearchus is commemorated on April 22.

The Venerable Eustratius
Eustratius was a native of Tarsus. He was a great ascetic and a man of prayer. During the seventy-five years he spent in the monastery, Eustratius never lay down to sleep on his left side but always on his right. Throughout the divine services, from the beginning to the end, he repeated to himself: “Lord, have mercy!” He reposed in his ninety-fifth year.

Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow
Philip was born on February 11, 1507. Once, while standing in church as a young boy, he heard the priest read from the Gospel: No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). He became very frightened by these words, as though they had been spoken to him alone, and at that same moment he became enlightened by them. He then withdrew to the Solovki Monastery, where, after a long and difficult novitiate, he was tonsured a monk. In time, Philip became the abbot and shone as the sun, and the whole of Russia heard of him. Hence, Tsar Ivan the Terrible summoned Philip to fill the vacant see of the Metropolitan of Moscow in the year 1566. However, this holy man could not endure with indifference the atrocities of the terrible tsar, and therefore he counseled and rebuked him without fear. The tsar found some false witnesses against Philip, ousted him from office, ordered that he be dressed in a simple and tattered monastic cassock and imprisoned him in Tver on December 23, 1569. Malyuta Skuratov, one of the tsar’s confidants, came to Philip’s cell and suffocated him with a pillow. Shortly afterward, all those who were opposed to Philip died evil deaths. After several years, the body of the saint, which was discovered whole, incorrupt and fragrant, was translated to the Monastery of Solovki.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saints Nearchus and Polyeuctus

Nearchus and Polyeuctus, soldiers of Caesar,
Became soldiers of the Heavenly King.

One was baptized with water, the other with his own blood;
The second surpassed the other and became the first.

Oh, blessed is this competition,
This heroic rushing to Christ’s Kingdom!

Polyeuctus rejected all the spoils of this world—
All things, which come and go like the wind—
And for brief sufferings he purchased the everlasting Kingdom.

This trade, for him, turned out to be a brilliant one.

For the sake of eternal life, let the grass be cut down!

In exchange for transitory suffering, glory which passes not away!

Pray for us, O soldier of Christ,
That not one of our souls perish!

REFLECTION
The Orthodox Church, in teaching men about perfect love, at the same time also teaches them perfect obedience—from which emanates order and harmony among the faithful. Bishops owe their obedience to the Lord. Priests owe their obedience to the bishops. The faithful owe their obedience to both the one and the other. St. Ignatius of Antioch writes about this: “You are required to obey without hypocrisy; he who would deceive his visible bishop would also scorn the Invisible One…. I pray you, endeavor to fulfill everything in godly unanimity—under the presidency of the bishops, who occupy the place of Christ, and of the presbyters, who constitute the assembly of the apostles—not thinking that whatever you do alone and apart would be correct.”

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate all the virtues in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ:

1. How every virtue is complete and perfect in Him as in no other in the history of the world;

2. How all the virtues wonderfully complement each other, how the one penetrates the other, and the one working in the other is made radiant.

HOMILY
on concern for the salvation of our neighbors

Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth (I Corinthians 10:24).

This is the principle of the saints of God, both now and in the past, always and forever. This is the principle on which society is built. Upon this principle can be established the most perfect, most God-pleasing and most prosperous human society. This is the saving principle for every type of difficulty, against which contemporary men struggle without victory and without hope. The holy soul is concerned with where the homeless will spend the night, how the hungry will be fed, how the naked will be clothed. The holy soul is concerned, and prays to God that his neighbors be saved; that their hearts be filled with love toward God; that their minds be directed toward God; that the wicked turn from the path of wickedness; that those wavering in the Faith be strengthened; that those who are strengthened be sustained; that those who have died see the face of God; and that the living be written in the Book of Life in the Kingdom of Light.

But beware, brethren, and see how the destructive and antisocial principle of the devil can be phrased in like manner, word for word. This principle of the devil says: No one should look to his own body to preserve it in purity from sin, but rather everyone should look to the bodies of others in order to ruin and destroy them. No one should look to his own soul to see how to save it; rather everyone should look to the soul of someone else in order to blacken it, to curse it, to impoverish it and to destroy it. Let no one look at his house in order to build it and renew it; rather, let everyone look at the home of another in order to burn it and demolish it. No one should look at his granaries in order to fill them; rather, one should look at the granaries of others in order to steal from them and empty them.

Behold, brethren, how this principle can be a principle either of good or of evil; it is a sharp two-edged sword, an angel or Satan. See how this principle in the satanic spirit and form has gained momentum on all sides today!

O Lord, Holy Spirit, Who, through the tongue of the apostle of God, has released these holy words in the world, as bright rays of the sun to illuminate and not to burn us, help us now to fulfill them in the proper heavenly sense—to the glory of the Triune God and for the salvation of our souls.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 


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