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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

Second Sunday of Great Lent: Saint Gregory Palamas; The Venerable Procopius of Decapolis;
The Venerable Talaleus

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FIVE:
Let us, the faithful, praise and worship the Word, coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born for our salvation from the Virgin; for He willed to be lifted upon the Cross in the flesh, to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection. 

TROPARION TO ST. GREGORY PALAMAS - TONE EIGHT:
O light of Orthodoxy, teacher of the Church, its confirmation, O ideal of monks and invincible champion of theologians, O wonder-working Gregory, glory of Thessalonica and preacher of grace, always intercede before the Lord that our souls may be saved!

TROPARION TO SAINT PROCOPIUS - TONE EIGHT:
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, and your longing for God brought forth fruit in abundance.  By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!  Our father Procopius, pray to Christ God to save our souls!

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE FIVE:
You descended into hell, O my Savior, shattering its gates as Almighty; resurrecting the dead as Creator, and destroying the sting of death.  You have delivered Adam from the curse, O Lover of Man, and we all cry to You: O Lord, save us!

KONTAKION TO ST. GREGORY PALAMAS - TONE EIGHT:
Holy and divine instrument of wisdom, joyful trumpet of theology, together we sing your praises, O God-inspired Gregory.  Since you now stand before the Original Mind, guide our minds to Him, O father, so that we may sing to you: ‘Rejoice, O preacher of grace.’

KONTAKION FROM THE LENTEN TRIODION - TONE FOUR:
Now is the time for action!  Judgment is at the doors!  So let us rise and fast, offering alms with tears of compunction and crying: ‘Our sins are more in number than the sands of the sea; but forgive us, O Master of all, so that we may receive the incorruptible crowns.’

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!’

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 5th Tone:
Thou, O Lord, shall protect us and preserve us from this generation forever.

Second Sunday of Lent: Hebrews 1: 10 – 2: 3
Brethren: “You, Lord in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.  They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”  But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?  Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?  Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him?                

Saint Gregory Palamas: Hebrews 7: 26 – 8: 2
Brethren, such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.  For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.  Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: we have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

The Alleluia Verses:
The Lord answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!  Save the king, O Lord, and hear us on the day we call!

GOSPEL READING

Second Sunday of Lent: Mark 2: 1-12
At that time, Jesus entered Capernaum and it was heard that He was in the house.  Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door.  And He preached the word to them.  Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.  And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was.  So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this?  Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” - He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house.”  Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Saint Gregory Palamas: John 10: 9-16
Jesus said, “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.  But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.  I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

From The Prologue
February 27/March 12 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Venerable Procopius of Decapolis
This saint was from Decapolis by the Sea of Galilee, for which reason he was called the Decapolite. In his youth he devoted himself to a life of asceticism and accomplished all the prescribed labors by which the heart is purified and the spirit is elevated to God. When the wicked Leo the Isaurian began his persecution of the icons and their venerators, Procopius rose up in their defense. He showed that the veneration of icons is not idolatry, for Christians know that by bowing down before icons they are bowing down not to lifeless matter, but to living saints who are depicted in the icons. Because of this, Procopius was arrested, brutally tortured, flogged and scraped with an iron brush. When the wicked Emperor Leo was slain in the body—for he had lost his soul earlier—icons were restored in the churches, and Procopius returned to his monastery, where he spent the remainder of his days in peace. In his old age he was translated to the Kingdom of God. There he gazes with joy upon the living angels and saints, whose images on icons he honored on earth. He died peacefully in the ninth century.

The Venerable Thalelaeus
Thalelaeus was a Syrian ascetic. At first he resided in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem, but later he settled in a pagan cemetery known for appearances of evil spirits and monsters. In order to conquer fear within himself through faith in God, Thalelaeus settled in this cemetery, where he lived for many years, enduring many assaults from evil spirits both day and night. Because of his great faith and love for God, God endowed him with the gift of working miracles, through which he did much good for sick and suffering people. He reposed in about the year 460.

The Venerable Titus of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves
Titus was a priest and had a sincere love for Deacon Evagrius, as brother for brother. But as great as their love was in the beginning, it later became a mutual hostility and hatred sown by the devil. They hated each other so much that, when one would be censing in the church, the other would turn and walk out of the church. Titus attempted many times to reconcile with his antagonist, but in vain. Titus became ill and everyone thought that he was going to die. He begged them to bring Evagrius to him, that he might forgive him. Forcefully they dragged Evagrius to the bedside of Titus, but Evagrius broke free and fled, saying that he would not forgive Titus in this world or the other world. As soon as he said this, he fell to the ground and died. Titus arose from his bed healthy and related how the demons had been hovering around him until he had forgiven Evagrius. When he forgave, the demons fled and attacked Evagrius, and angels of God surrounded Titus. Titus reposed in the year 1190.

The Venerable Stephen
At first Stephen was a palace official of Emperor Maurice. Later he left the palace service and, driven by love for Christ, built a charitable hospice for the aged in Constantinople. He reposed peacefully in the year 614.

The Holy Martyr Julian
Julian suffered so severely from gout that he was able neither to stand nor walk. Because of his faith in Christ, he was brought on a pallet before the judge. He was burned alive at the stake along with his disciple Chronion, in Alexandria during the reign of Emperor Decius.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Forgiveness

That God may forgive us, let us forgive men.

We are all on this earth as temporary guests.

Prolonged fasting and prayer is in vain
Without forgiveness and true mercy.

God is the true Physician; sins are leprosy.

Whomever God cleanses, God also glorifies.

Every merciful act of men, God rewards with mercy.

He who returns sin with sin perishes without mercy.

Pus is not cleansed by pus from infected wounds,
Neither is the darkness of the dungeon dispelled by darkness,
But pure balm heals the festering wound,
And light disperses the darkness of the dungeon.

To the seriously wounded, mercy is like a balm;
As a torch, everyone rejoices in mercy.

The madman says: “I have no need of mercy!”

But, when he is overcome by misery, he cries out for mercy!

Men bathe in the mercy of God,
And that mercy of God wakens us to life!

That God may forgive us, let us forgive men,
We are all on this earth as temporary guests.

REFLECTION
Whenever we are outside the grace of God, we are outside of ourselves. Compared with our grace-filled nature, we find ourselves in no better condition than an insane man compared with a healthy man. Only a blessed man is a natural man, i.e., a man of higher and unspoiled nature, in which the grace of God rules and governs. St. Simeon the New Theologian says: “A lamp, even if it is filled with oil and possesses a wick, remains totally dark if it is not lit. So it is with a soul that appears to be adorned with all the virtues: if it does not have the light and the grace of the Holy Spirit, it is extinguished and dark” (Homily, Number 59). As the great Apostle also says: By the grace of God I am what I am (I Corinthians 15:10). However, to be without grace means to be alienated from God and alienated from the reality of our own individual being. Our being, our personality, confirms our reality and receives its fullness only in nearness to God. That is why we must look at sinners as we look upon the sick: as weak shadows, without reality and without a mind.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Vine: I am the true Vine (John 15:1):
1. As the Vine from which have sprouted numerous fruitful branches in the persons of the saints;
2. As the Vine Who with His sap, that is, His Blood, waters and feeds all the branches with Himself;
3. As the Vine from Whom the Divine Church has branched out on earth and in the heavens;
4. As the Vine from Whom I too should not separate the branch of my life.

HOMILY 
on the power of Him Who resurrects the body


Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19).

Here the Lord speaks about the temple of His body. Destroy this body, and in three days I will raise it up! Thus speaks One Who knows His might and Who, according to His might, fulfilled His words. For His body was destroyed, broken, pierced, buried and covered with darkness for three days. And on the third day He raised it: raised it not only from the grave on earth but raised it up to the heavens. And so He spoke the word and His word came to pass.

The Lord gave a sign to the Jews, for they sought a sign from Him. And when He gave them a sign, such as no one else before Him had been able to give, they did not believe Him. Instead, confused and frightened, they bribed the guards from Golgotha to swear falsely and to proclaim the lie that this miraculous sign had not occurred, and that His disciples had stolen His body from the tomb!

No sign whatsoever helps those who do not want to believe. With their own eyes, he Jews witnessed the many of Christ’s miracles; but nevertheless they did not want to believe. They justified their unbelief, saying that He performed these miracles through the prince of the devils (Matthew 9:34). Whoever does not want to believe in good, all the signs that heaven can give will not help him. A heart filled with evil is harder than granite. A mind darkened by sin cannot be illuminated by all the light of heaven, whose light is greater than a thousand suns.

When man expels evil from his heart and delivers his mind from the darkness of sin, then he sees the numerous signs that God gives to those who want to believe—who see and believe.

O my brethren, let us not sin against the mercy of God and let us not succumb to the evil of the Jews. O my brethren, all the signs have already been given, and they all glitter as the stars in the heavenly firmament upon all who have a good heart and a right-thinking mind.

O Wonderworking Lord, to Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


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