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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN 

Sunday, March 19, 2017
Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

Third Sunday of Great Lent: The Veneration of the Life-giving Cross; The Holy Forty-two Martyrs of Ammoria

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!

TROPARION TO THE LIFE-GIVING CROSS - TONE ONE:
O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries; and by the virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

TROPARION TO THE FORTY-TWO MARTYRS OF AMMORIA - TONE FOUR: Your forty-two holy martyrs, 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!

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 LIFE-GIVING CROSS - TONE SEVEN:
Now the flaming sword no longer guards the gates of Eden; it has been mysteriously quenched by the wood of the Cross!  The sting of death and the victory of hell have been vanquished; for You, O my Savior, have come and cried to those in hell: ‘Enter again into paradise!’

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!’

INSTEAD OF “HOLY GOD…”:
Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship, O Master; and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify.

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 6th Tone:
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.

Third Sunday of Lent: Hebrews 4: 14 – 5: 6
Brethren, seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin.  He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.  And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.  So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”  As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”                

The Alleluia Verses:
Remember Your congregation, which You have acquired from old.  God is our King before the ages; He has worked salvation in the midst of the earth.

GOSPEL READING

Third Sunday of Lent: Mark 8: 34 – 9: 1
At that time, when Jesus had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”


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

The Holy Forty-two Martyrs from Ammoria
They were all commanders of the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus. When the Emperor Theophilus lost the battle against the Saracens at the city of Ammoria, the Saracens captured the city and enslaved many Christians. Among them were these commanders. The remaining Christians were either killed or sold into slavery. The commanders were thrown into prison, where they remained for seven years. Many times the Moslem leaders came to them. They counseled and advised the commanders to embrace the Islamic faith, but the commanders refused to listen. When the Saracens spoke to the commanders, saying, “Mohammed is the true prophet and not Christ,” the commanders asked them: “If there were two men debating about a field and the one said, ‘This field is mine,’ and the other, ‘It is not, it is mine,’ and one of them had many witnesses nearby saying it is his field, and the other had no witnesses, but only himself—whose field would you say it was?” The Saracens answered: “Indeed, it is his who had many witnesses!” “You have judged correctly,” the commanders answered. “That is the way it is with Christ and Mohammed. Christ has many witnesses: the Prophets of old, from Moses to John the Forerunner, whom you also recognize and who witness to and about Him, whereas Mohammed witnesses to himself that he is a prophet and hasn’t a single witness.” The Saracens were ashamed and again they tried to defend their faith in this manner: “Our faith is better than the Christian Faith, as is proved by this: God gave us the victory over you and gave us the best land in the world and a kingdom much greater than Christianity.” To this the commanders replied: “If that were so, then the idolatry of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Hellenes, Romans, and the fire-worship of the Persians would be the true faith, for at one time all of these people conquered the others and ruled over them. It is evident that your victory, power and wealth do not prove the truth of your faith. We know that God, at times, gives victory to Christians and, at other times, allows torture and suffering so as to correct them and bring them to repentance and purification of their sins.” After seven years they were beheaded, in the year 845. Their bodies were then thrown into the Euphrates River, but they floated to the other shore, where they were gathered and honorably buried by Christians.

The Blessed Job
Job was born in Moscow in the year 1635. Church singing and liturgical services drew him to the Church. He became the spiritual father of Emperor Peter the Great, but because of intrigue he withdrew to the Solovki Monastery, where he underwent a life of strict asceticism. In the year 1720, in his eighty-fifth year, he reposed in the Lord. Before his death he cried out: “Blessed is the God of our Fathers! And, as He is thus, I am not afraid, but I leave this world with joy.”

The Holy Martyrs Conon the Father and Conon the Son
When the father was already an old man, the son was a youth of seventeen. During the reign of Dometian, they were sawn in half for their faith in Christ and were glorified and honored in the Church on earth and in heaven. They honorably suffered in the year 275.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Conon

The emperor counsels the youthful Conon:
“From old age your father is deranged.
You, young man, do not hearken to his words,
But deny and forget Christ.
Offer sacrifice to the Roman gods,
And then remain with me in honor.”

The youthful Conon courageously replied:
“It is written, O Emperor-torturer,
That the son does what he sees his father do,
And he is not ashamed of his father’s deeds.

My father teaches me the true Faith,
The true Faith and the knowledge of God,
That I know the One God,
My Merciful Creator;
That I know Christ the Savior,
My Redeemer from death.

Whatever you do with the body of my father,
That also do with mine.

But over the soul you have no authority;
Our souls are our possessions
And the possessions of the Son of God.”

REFLECTION
As long as you are on earth, consider yourself a guest in the household of Christ. If you are at table, it is He who honors you. If you breathe air, it is His air you breathe. If you bathe, it is in His water you bathe. If you travel, it is over His land that you travel. If you amass goods, it is His goods you amass. If you squander them, it is His goods that you squander. If you are powerful, it is because He allows you to be strong. If you are in the company of men, you and the others are His guests. If you are out in nature, you are in His garden. If you are alone, He is present. If you set out somewhere, He sees you. If you do anything, He remembers it. He is the most considerate Householder Who ever hosted you. Be considerate then toward Him. In a good household, the guest is required to behave. These are all simple words, but they convey to you a great truth. All the saints knew this truth, and they governed their lives by it. That is why the Eternal Householder rewarded them with eternal life in heaven and with glory on earth.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Mystery of Communion as a life-giving cure for the soul and body:

1. As a cure that heals and cleanses the soul from sinful maladies, and restores it to life;

2. As a cure that heals and purifies the body from lust and vice, and restores it to life;

3. As a cure that enlivens a man and makes him a healthy member of the immortal Body of Christ. But if a man will remain a corrupt member to the end, eventually he will be cut off and cast aside.

HOMILY
on the heir and the slave

Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant (Galatians 4:1).

As long as the heir apparent is in the cradle, what would make him better than the son of a slave? His body is not better, nor are his thoughts more elevated, nor are his wishes or desires more pure. Such is the son of a king, the son of a slave and the son of a beggar. For a few years the son of the king does not differ from the son of the slave. However, at some point the king’s son reaches maturity and, fully conscious of his dignity, receives authority over the kingdom. Likewise the slave’s son reaches maturity and, with full consciousness, succumbs to the yoke of slavery. Then the enormous difference is seen. Then it is clearly manifest that the heir and the slave are not equal. The slave must serve, and the king must rule.

The apostle means to say that it is the same with Christians and with those who are not Christians. The non-Christian is a slave to nature, but the Christian rules over nature. The pre-Christian era of the history of mankind shows us how man was a slave to the elements of nature, to the flesh, to idols, and to creatures. The Christian era of the history of mankind shows us how man was master and owner, a nobleman of a royal race, and heir to all.

Even those who knew about the One True God, as did the Israelites, did not stand before God like children or as heirs before their Father, but were as slaves and servants before their Lord and Judge. But when the fullness of time was come (Galatians 4:4), the Only-Begotten Son of God came to earth. He made it possible that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:5), and by the Spirit of God to address God: Abba, Father! (Galatians 4:6).

Brethren, why did Christ come to earth? He did so to make us better than slaves and to give us the right of sonship and the duty of the master. The right of sonship is such that in the name of Christ we can call God “Father.” The duty of the master is to rule over ourselves, our flesh, our thoughts, our desires, and all of nature around us. O Only-begotten Son of God, by Thy mercy and sacrifice we have received the adoption of sons. Oh, help us that with Thine aid we may persevere to the end in purity and in truth.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 


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