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S.K.S.S.
Annual Lenten Women's Retreat

“Contemporary Women in an Uncontemporary Church: 
A Mother, a Life,
and a Mission” 

GUEST SPEAKER: 
Very Reverend Professor 
Archimandrite Irenei

Archimandrite of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside Russia.
BA, M.St., D.Phil


mary sm

Friday, March 27th - 
Saturday, March 28th, 2015
St. John the Baptist Cathedral
San Francisco, CA

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SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2015

Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare);
The Holy Martyr Nicephorus of Antioch


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FOUR:
When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Your Resurrection; they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the apostles: Death is overthrown! Christ God is Risen, granting the world great mercy.

TROPARION TO MARTYR NICEPHORUS - TONE FOUR:
Your holy martyr Nicephorus, 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 FOUR:
My Savior and my Redeemer as God rose from the tomb and delivered the earthborn from their chains. And He has shattered the gates of hell, and as Master, He has risen on the third day!

KONTAKION TO MARTYR NICEPHORUS - TONE ONE: 
Bound with chains of love, O Nicephorus, you demolished the malice of hatred.  And when beheaded, you became a holy martyr for the Incarnate Savior.  Pray to Him for us who praise your glorious memory in song.

THE SUNDAY OF FORGIVENESS KONTAKION - TONE SIX: 
Teacher of wisdom, Bestower of reason, Instructor of the foolish and Protector of the poor; strengthen and enlighten my heart, O Master.  You have given me words, O Word of the Father, and behold, I will not restrain my lips from crying to You: ‘O Merciful One, have mercy on me who am fallen.’

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 8th Tone:       

Pray and make your vows before the Lord our God.

Sunday of Forgiveness: Romans 13: 11 – 14: 4
Brethren, do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand.  Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.  Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.  For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.  Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.  Who are you to judge another’s servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

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 faithfulness by night.

GOSPEL READING

Sunday of Forgiveness: Matthew 6: 14-21
Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance.  For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.  Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Spiritual Articles

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

The Holy Martyr Nicephorus

The biography of this martyr clearly demonstrates how God rejects pride and crowns humility and love with glory. There lived in Antioch two close friends, the learned priest Sapricius and the simple layman Nicephorus. Somehow their friendship turned into a terrible hatred for each other. The God-fearing Nicephorus attempted on many occasions to make peace with the priest. However, at no time did Sapricius desire to be reconciled. When the persecution of Christians began, the presbyter Sapricius was condemned to death and brought to the place of execution. The sorrowful Nicephorus followed after Sapricius, beseeching him along the way to forgive him before his death, that they might depart in peace.

“I beseech you, O martyr of Christ,” said Nicephorus, “forgive me if I have sinned against you!” Sapricius did not even want to look at his opponent, but quietly and arrogantly walked toward his death. Upon seeing the hardness of the priest’s heart, God did not want to accept the sacrifice of his martyrdom and crown him with a wreath, and instead He mysteriously withheld His grace. At the last moment, Sapricius denied Christ and declared before the executioners that he would bow down before the idols. So it is with blind hatred! Nicephorus implored Sapricius not to deny Christ, saying: “O my beloved brother, do not do that; do not deny our Lord Jesus Christ; do not forfeit the heavenly wreath!” But all was in vain. Sapricius remained adamant. Then Nicephorus cried out to the executioners: “I too am a Christian; behead me in place of Sapricius!” The executioners informed the judge of this, and the judge ordered the release of Sapricius and beheaded Nicephorus in his place. Nicephorus joyfully lowered his head on the block and was beheaded. Thus, he was made worthy of the Kingdom and was crowned with the immortal wreath of glory. This occurred in the year 260, during the reign of Gallienus.

The Hieromartyr Peter Damascene
Some think that Peter Damascene lived in the eighth century and others think he lived in the twelfth century. This difference of thought comes from the fact that there were two Peter Damascenes. The one about whom we are now speaking was a great ascetic. He was unselfish beyond measure. Peter Damascene did not even possess a single book, but rather borrowed books and read them. He read assiduously, gathering wisdom as a bee gathers honey. For a while he was a bishop in Damascus, but when he spoke out against Islam and the Manichean heresy, the Arabs severed his tongue and banished him into exile deep in Arabia. However, God granted him the power of speech, so that, even in exile, he preached the Gospel and converted many to the Christian Faith. He compiled and bequeathed to posterity a precious book about the spiritual life. He died as a confessor and martyr and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Peter Damascene

Damascene numbers eight types of knowledge
For spiritual and godly men.

First: the knowledge of sorrow and all temptations.

Second: the knowledge of the sum of one’s transgressions,
One’s transgressions and God’s forgiveness.

Third: the knowledge of horror, pain and fear,
Before death, in death and after separation from the body,
When before the righteous judgment the soul stands alone.

Fourth: the knowledge of Christ the Savior,
His life and that of all the saints,
Of the saints—their deeds, patience and words,
Which, like a silver bell, resound throughout the ages.

Fifth: the knowledge of natural attributes,
Of physical phenomena, variation and change.

Sixth: the knowledge of forms and things,
All sensory beings and natural phantoms.

Seventh: the knowledge of the world, rational and spiritual,
The angelic world and the world of hades—of both good and evil.

Eighth: the knowledge of God,
The One, Holy, Mighty and Immortal.

This knowledge is called Theology:
To it, few are elevated.

A theologian needs the greatest purity,

For the impure heart does not reach heaven.

Damascene appropriated the seven elementary types of knowledge,
And to the eighth, the knowledge of God, he was raised.

The eighth is given and bestowed by God:
It is neither learned nor earned.

REFLECTION
St. Peter Damascene writes thus about the general and particular gifts of God: “The general gifts consist of the four elements and all that results from them, all the wonderful and awesome works of God outlined in Holy Scripture. The particular gifts are those gifts which God bestows upon every man individually, whether it be riches for the sake of charity, or poverty for the sake of patience with humility; whether it be authority for the sake of justice and the strengthening of virtues, or subjugation and slavery for the sake of the expeditious salvation of the soul; be it health for the sake of helping the infirm, or illness for the sake of the wreath of patience; be it understanding and skill in gaining wealth for the sake of virtue, or weakness and lack of skill for the sake of submissive humility. Even though they appear contrary to one another, all these are very good according to their purpose.” In conclusion, St. Peter Damascene says that we are obligated to give thanks to God for all gifts, and that with patience and hope we are to endure all tribulations and evil circumstances. For all that God gives us, or permits to befall us, benefits our salvation.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Source of joy:

1. In the tribulations of life, which only He is able to replace with joy;

2. In the bondage of passions, which only He can replace with the joy of freedom;

3. In death, from which He alone can resurrect us.

HOMILY
on the word of God, which is mightier than death

If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death (John 8:52).

As long as a candle burns in a room there will not be darkness, for the candle emits light. If food is seasoned with salt, it will be preserved from spoiling. If someone keeps the word of Christ in his soul, that one keeps salt and light in his soul, and life will abide in him. Such a soul will not become dark in this life, neither will it taste the decay of death.

Whoever keeps the word of Christ in himself, the word of Christ sustains him from within and feeds, enlightens and enlivens him. Whether he is in the body or outside the body, he feels equally alive by means of the word of Christ. Death can separate his soul from his body, but not from Christ, i.e., from immortal and eternal life. The death of his body will only give his life-bearing soul a freer flight in embracing the beloved Christ the Life-giver.

But what does it mean, brethren, to keep the word of Christ within ourselves? It means, first, to keep the word of Christ in our minds, thinking about it; second, to keep the word of Christ in our hearts, loving it; third, to keep the word of Christ in our wills, fulfilling it in deeds; and fourth, to keep the word of Christ on our tongues, openly confessing it when necessary. Thus, to keep the word of Christ means to fill ourselves with it and to fulfill it. Whoever keeps the word of Christ in this manner, truly, will never taste of death.

O our Lord, Mighty Lord, mightier than death, give us strength and understanding to keep Thy holy word to the end—that we not taste of death and that death not taste of us, and that decay not touch our souls. O All-merciful Lord, be merciful to us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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SUNDAY OF FORGIVENESS
FEBRUARY 22, 2015
A SPECIAL BOOK
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BISHOP ATANASIJE

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The Spiritual, Historical, and Aesthetic Heart of the
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S.K.S.S.
Annual Lenten Women's Retreat

"OPENING THE DOOR OF OUR HEART TO THE THEOTOKOS: MEETING HER AND LETTING HER INTO OUR HEARTS"
Guest Speaker 
Protinica Victoria
Trbuhovich

mary sm

Friday, March 27th - 
Saturday, March 28th, 2015
St. John the Baptist Cathedral
San Francisco, CA

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Call 626-289-9061 to Register or Print and Mail Registration portion of the Flyer! 


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