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  Exceptional new book on Serbian Christian Heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, its heartland in medieval times and through Ottoman domination, is intended to introduce to a wide reading public the oldest and richest treasury of Serbian medieval history and culture.  


Sunday, November 22, 2015


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE EIGHT: Thou didst descend from on high, O Merciful One! Thou didst accept the three day burial to free us from our sufferings! O Lord, our Life and Resurrection: Glory to Thee! 

TROPARION TO THE MARTYRS ONESIPHORUS AND PORPHYRIUS – TONE FOUR: Your holy martyrs, Onesiphorus and Porphyrius, O Lord, through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.  For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries, and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.  Through their intercessions, save our souls! 

TROPARION TO SAINT NECTARIOS – TONE ONE: O faithful, let us honor Nectarios the divine servant of Christ, offspring of Silyvria and guardian of Aegina, who appeared in these last times as a true friend of virtue, pouring forth all manner of healing upon those who reverently cry: ‘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!’

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 THE MARTYRS ONESIPHORUS AND PORPHYRIUS – TONE TWO: The pair of glorious martyrs, Onesiphorus and Porphyrius, endured their suffering with strength, dashing down to the earth the arrogance of the enemy, and shining with the grace of the uncreated Trinity; together with the angels, they unceasingly pray for us all. 

KONTAKION TO SAINT NECTARIOS – TONE EIGHT: Let us sing praises with gladness of heart to the newly-shining star of Orthodoxy, the newly-built rampart of the Church.  Being glorified by the power of the Spirit, he pours forth the abundant grace of healings upon those who cry: ‘Rejoice, Father Nectarios.’ 

HYMN TO THE MOTHER OF GOD - TONE SIX: 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 8TH TONE: Pray and make your vows before the Lord our God. 

Brethren, I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 

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! 


At that time, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  He said to him, “What is written in the law?  What is your reading of it?”  So he answered and said, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’, and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”  And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”  But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Then Jesus answered and said, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road.  And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.  And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” 


The Holy Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius
These two wonderful men were martyred for the name of Christ during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. They were severely beaten, then burned on an iron grid, then tied to horses’ tails and dragged over rocks and thorns. They were thus torn to pieces and gave up their holy souls to God. Their relics are buried in Pentapolis.

The Venerable John the Dwarf [Kolobos]
John is numbered among the greatest of the Egyptian ascetics. “Kolobos” means “dwarf,” for he was of little stature. He came to Scetis with his brother Daniel and, with the greatest zeal, devoted himself to such asceticism that Daniel had to urge him to moderation. John was a disciple of St. Pambo, and was later the teacher of St. Arsenius the Great. His fellow disciple under St. Pambo was St. Paisius the Great. Once, when he and Paisius were discussing what kind of asceticism to undertake, an angel of God appeared to them and commanded John to stay where he was and instruct others, and Paisius to enter the wilderness and live as a hermit. In order to test John’s obedience, St. Pambo ordered him to water a dry stick planted in the ground until it turned green. Without hesitation or doubt, John watered this stick daily for three whole years until by the power of God, it grew green sprouts and brought forth fruit. Pambo then gathered the fruit from this tree, brought it to church and distributed it among the brethren saying: “Draw near and taste of the fruit of obedience!” John the Dwarf had many disciples. Some of his wise sayings have been preserved. He entered into rest peacefully and took up his habitation in the joy of his Lord.

The Venerable Matrona of Constantinople
Matrona was from Perga in Pamphylia. Matrona’s marriage to Dometian, a nobleman of Constantinople, soon became unbearable to her. Disguised in men’s clothing, she fled and adopted the name Babylas, then entered the Monastery of St. Bassian in Constantinople. Because her husband searched for her constantly, she was forced to move repeatedly. Altogether, she moved to Emesa, Sinai, Jerusalem and Beirut, and finally returned to Constantinople. Matrona was tonsured a nun at age twenty-five, and lived the ascetic life for seventy-five years. In all she lived a hundred years, and died peacefully in the year 492 as abbess of a monastery in Constantinople, taking up her abode in the joy of her Lord. 

The Venerable Euthymius of Dochiariou and his disciple Neophytus
Euthymius and Neophytus were Serbs by birth and kinsmen of high-ranking aristocrats in Byzantium. Euthymius was a companion of St. Athanasius and the steward of his Lavra, after which he founded the Monastery of Dochiariou. He entered peacefully into rest in the year 990. His nephew Neophytus succeeded him as abbot of Dochiariou, increased the brotherhood and built a large church. He entered into rest at the beginning of the eleventh century. 

Saint Simeon Metaphrastes [the Translator]
Simeon was a gifted Constantinopolitan. He had both a secular and spiritual education. He attained the rank of imperial logothete [chancellor] and was first among the nobles at the imperial court, yet he lived a pure and blameless life as a true ascetic. He distinguished himself by great military bravery and statesmanly wisdom. For these qualities, Emperor Leo the Wise greatly respected him and sent him to Crete to negotiate a peace with the Arabs who then occupied the island. Successfully completing his mission, he returned to Constantinople and soon thereafter withdrew from the world and worldly affairs. He wrote many lives of saints, compiling 122 new biographies and correcting 539 biographies. He entered into rest in about the year 960, and a fragrant and healing myrrh flowed from his relics. 

The Venerable Theoctista of Paros
Theoctista was born on the island of Lesbos and was tonsured a nun at the age of seventeen. The savage Saracens attacked the island and enslaved all who fell into their hands, including Theoctista and her sister. When the Saracens brought the slaves to the marketplace on the island of Paros, Theoctista escaped from the crowd and hid in an abandoned church in the middle of the island, where she lived a life of asceticism for thirty-five years. She entered into rest in the year 881. 

Saint Nectarios, Metropolitan of Pentapolis (from
Saint Nectarios was born in Selyvria of Thrace on October 1, 1846.  After putting himself through school in Constantinople with much hard labor, he became a monk on Chios in 1876, receiving the monastic name of Lazarus; because of his virtue, a year later he was ordained deacon, receiving the new name of Nectarios.  Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, Nectarios went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronius ordained him priest on March 23, 1886 in the Cathedral of Saint Sabbas, and in August of the same year, in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, made him Archimandrite.  Archimandrite Nectarios showed much zeal both for preaching the word of God, and for the beauty of God's house.  He greatly beautified the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, and years later, when Nectarios was in Athens, Saint Nicholas appeared to him in a dream, embracing him and telling him he was going to exalt him very highly.  On January 15, 1889, in the same Church of Saint Nicholas, Nectarios was consecrated Metropolitan of the Pentapolis in eastern Libya, which was under the jurisdiction of Alexandria.  Although Nectarios’ swift ascent through the degrees of ecclesiastical office did not affect his modesty and childlike innocence, it aroused the envy of lesser men, who convinced the elderly Sophronius that Nectarios had it in his heart to become Patriarch.  Since the people loved Nectarios, the Patriarch was troubled by the slanders.  On May 3, 1890, Sophronius relieved Metropolitan Nectarios of his duties; in July of the same year, he commanded Nectarios to leave Egypt.  Without seeking to avenge or even to defend himself, the innocent Metropolitan left for Athens, where he found that accusations of immorality had arrived before him.  Because his good name had been soiled, he was unable to find a position worthy of a bishop, and in February of 1891 accepted the position of provincial preacher in Euboia; then, in 1894, he was appointed dean of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens.  Through his eloquent sermons his unwearying labors to educate fitting men for the priesthood, his generous alms deeds despite his own poverty, and the holiness, meekness, and fatherly love that were manifest in him, he became a shining light and a spiritual guide to many.  At the request of certain pious women, in 1904 he began the building of his convent of the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina while yet dean of the Rizarios School; finding later that his presence there was needed, he took up his residence on Aegina in 1908, where he spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the direction of his convent and to very intense prayer; he was sometimes seen lifted above the ground while rapt in prayer.  He became the protector of all Aegina, through his prayers delivering the island from drought, healing the sick, and casting out demons.  Here also he endured wicked slanders with singular patience, forgiving his false accusers and not seeking to avenge himself.  Although he had already worked wonders in life, an innumerable multitude of miracles have been wrought after his repose in 1920 through his holy relics, which for many years remained incorrupt.  There is hardly a malady that has not been cured through his prayers; but Saint Nectarios is especially renowned for his healings of cancer for sufferers in all parts of the world. 

HYMN OF PRAISE:Saint Simeon Metaphrastes
St. Simeon was called Metaphrastes—
He dedicated his God-given talent to the Church.

He loved the saints, the friends of God,
And wondrously described their struggles:

Struggles in spirit, struggles in the flesh,
Struggles in thought, and struggles in deeds.

He was a true friend to the friends of God,
Who are dearest to God of all the men in the world.

He loved those whom God loves,
And through them he deepened his love for God.

Simeon shone with love for God,
And wrote his Lives like a brilliant tapestry,
For new generations in the four corners of the world,
To nourish their souls with true spiritual integrity,
By having vivid examples of saintly nobility,
By which to follow in the footsteps of patristic teachings.

Wondrous is our God in His saints;
Wondrous is the Lord, the Creator of angels. 

After a long separation from his companion Paisius, John the Dwarf visited him. Each asked the other what virtue he had attained in the time they were apart. Paisius said: “The sun has never seen me eat.” John the Dwarf said: “And it has never seen me angry.” Instructing the brethren in Scetis, John used this story of a repentant human soul: “In one town there lived a beautiful woman, a harlot who had many lovers. A certain prince told her that he would take her as his wife if she promised that she would live honorably and faithfully in marriage. She promised this and the prince took her to his court and married her. However, her former lovers decided to turn her back to her former ways, and reclaim her for themselves. They dared not face the prince, so they went around the back of the palace and began to whistle. The woman heard the whistling, recognized it, and quickly stopped her ears. She hid in an inner chamber of the palace and locked the door behind her. Thus, she was delivered from new temptations.” St. John explained this story in the following manner: “The harlot is the soul; her lovers are the passions; the prince is Christ; the inner chamber is the heavenly habitation; and the lovers who whistle and entice are the demons. If the soul would constantly turn from its passions and flee to God, then the passions and the demons would be frightened and flee from it.” 

Contemplate the appearance to Paul of an angel in a tempest at night (Acts 27):
1. How an angel of God appeared to Paul by night and told him to fear not, for he would be saved, and all those with him;
2. How Paul related this to the men on the boat, greatly encouraging them. 

HOMILY on saving grace
By grace ye are saved (Ephesians 2:5, 8). 

Who can comprehend and acknowledge that we are saved by grace—that we are saved by God’s grace, and not by our merits and works? Who can comprehend and acknowledge that? Only he who has comprehended and seen the bottomless pit of death and corruption in which man is engulfed by sin, and has also comprehended and seen the height of honor and glory to which man is raised in the Heavenly Kingdom, in the realm of immortality, in the house of the Living God—only such a one can comprehend and acknowledge that we are saved by grace. A child was traveling by night. He stumbled and fell into hole after hole and pit after pit, until he finally fell into a very deep pit from which he could in no way escape by his own power. When the child gave himself over to the hands of fate and thought his end was near, there was suddenly someone standing over the pit, lowering a rope to him and telling him to grab the rope and hold firmly to it. This was the king’s son, who then took the child home, bathed him, clothed him and brought him to his court and set him beside himself. Was this child saved by his own deed? By no means. All he did was to grab the end of the rope, and hold on. By what, then, was the child saved? By the mercy of the king’s son. In God’s relationship with men, this mercy is called grace. By grace ye are saved. The Apostle Paul repeats these words twice in a short span, that the faithful might recognize and remember them. Brethren, let us comprehend and remember that we are saved through grace by the Lord Jesus Christ. We were in the jaws of death, but have been given life in the courts of our God. O Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, by Thee are we saved. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. 

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