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 WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost:
The Holy Martyr Hieron & Thirty-three Martyrs in Melitene;
The Venerable Lazarus of Mt. Galesius


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 THE HOLY MARTYRS OF MELITENE – TONE FOUR: Your thirty-three 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 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 THE HOLY MARTYRS OF MELINTENE - TONE TWO: The radiant choir of martyrs, the light-bearing company, spiritually descends to us, enlightening the Church with brilliant rays.  Therefore as we celebrate their honored memory, we ask You, our Savior: through their prayers deliver us from misfortunes so that we may sing to You, ‘Alleluia.’

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! 

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 5th Tone:
You, O Lord, shall protect us and preserve us from this generation forever.
Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost: Galatians 6: 11-18
Brethren, see with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!  As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.  For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.  But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.  From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.  Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.

The Alleluia Verses:
I will sing of Your mercies, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Your truth from generation to generation.  You have said: Mercy will be established forever, and My truth will be prepared in the heavens.

GOSPEL READING

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 16: 19-31
The Lord told this parable: “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.  Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’  Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

From The Prologue
November 7/20 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:
The Holy Martyr Hieron and his companions

Hieron was born in Tyana in Cappadocia of a good and devout mother, Stratonika, who was blind. Hieron was a very zealous Christian and served his blind mother with great filial love. For two reasons he did not wish to join the army, and he resisted and drove off those who had been sent to take him. Hieron was loath to leave his helpless mother, and it was grievous for him even to consider that, as a soldier, he would be compelled to offer sacrifices to idols. Finally, Hieron was arrested along with other Christians, and they were all taken before the eparch of the town of Melitene. While they were still on the road, a man clad in a brilliant white garment appeared to Hieron one night and said: “Behold, Hieron, I proclaim salvation to you: you shall not wage war for an earthly king, but for the Heavenly King you will complete your struggle, and you shall soon come to Him to receive honor and glory.” At this, Hieron’s heart was filled with inexpressible joy. In Melitene they were all thrown into prison and Hieron, with great zeal, strengthened all the prisoners in the Faith, urging that not even one of them fall away, but that all willingly offer their bodies to torture and death for Christ. All but one confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The exception was Hieron’s kinsman Victor, who fell away from the Faith. The tormentors cut one of Hieron’s hands off, then flogged and tortured him in various ways until they beheaded him and the others. Going to the place of execution, these thirty-three martyrs chanted the Psalm: Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord (Psalms 118:1). Here we will name the honorable martyrs whose names are written with his in the Book of Life: Hesychius, Nicander, Athanasius, Mamas, Barachius, Callinicus, Theogenes, Nikon, Longinus, Theodore, Valerius, Xanthius, Theodulus, Callimachus, Eugenius, Theodochus, Ostrichius, Epiphanius, Maximian, Ducitius, Claudian, Theophilus, Gigantius, Dorotheus, Theodotus, Castrichius, Anicletus, Themilius, Eutychius, Hilarion, Diodotus and Amonitus. A man named Chrysanthus purchased Hieron’s severed head and honorably buried it, later building a church over it in the saint’s name. The martyr’s severed hand was brought to his blind mother. St. Hieron, with his companions, suffered in the year 298 and entered the glory of Christ.

The Holy Martyr Thessalonica with Auctus and Taurion
This maiden was the daughter of a pagan priest, Cleon, a rich and arrogant man. Because of her faith in Christ, her father drove her from the house and city. Two honorable citizens, Auctus and Taurion, reproached Cleon for his inhuman treatment of his daughter, and he in turn denounced them as Christians. They were bitterly tortured and beheaded for Christ. Thessalonica was then tortured and slain as well. They suffered in the Macedonian city of Amphipolis near present day Kavala. Thus, these martyrs were made worthy of the Immortal Kingdom by their honorable suffering.

The Venerable Lazarus of Galesius
A pillar of light appeared above the house where he was born. Lazarus left his village of Magnesia and went to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to the holy places. There, he was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified. After ten years, he settled on Mount Galesius and lived a life of asceticism on a pillar as a stylite. Lazarus was a miracle-worker both during his life and after death. Emperor Constantine Monomachus had great respect for him. Attaining old age, St. Lazarus entered into eternity toward the end of the eleventh century.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Martyr Hieron and his companions
Prisons are peculiar palaces!
In prison, St. Hieron spoke:
“O my brethren, thirty companions,
Hold to God’s word,
To God’s word and His law.

Behold, from time immemorial, the serpent has risen up,
Seeking to ensnare you with a glance,
So that, one by one, you would follow it to hell.

Do not succumb, brethren, true believers,
Oh, hearken to humble Hieron!

Whatever the serpent promises you
Is as fleeting as the green grass.

Courageously endure your sufferings:
Do not trade the eternal for the temporal;
Today or tomorrow, death will arrive,
Then all must go to the judgment of God.

Blessed is he who is not ashamed
When he sees his Judge before him.

Even more so is he who can show the Judge
The blood he has shed for Him,
And the wounds he bears for His name.

Such a one will reign eternally with Him.”

REFLECTION

There are decisive moments in life upon which a man’s eternal life or eternal death depend. We do not know when this decisive moment will come for us—perhaps today—and because of this we must be unceasingly vigilant. Victor, a kinsman of St. Hieron, was arrested with him. On the day before their torture, Victor, in terror of the impending tortures, went to the prison warden and begged him to take his name off the list of the condemned and release him, promising to give him his land. The warden removed his name and released him. However, upon returning home, Victor died of natural causes in the same moment that St. Hieron and his companions died in torments for Christ. Thus Victor vainly missed the decisive moment: he lost his land, his friends and both his earthly and heavenly life. In that same decisive moment, Hieron gained all. No one vied for Victor’s body, while many vied for Hieron’s body. When Christians sought the head of Hieron from the eparch, he asked as much gold for it as it weighed. Chrysanthus, a wealthy and devout man, paid that much gold for the martyr’s honorable head. Anthony and Matronian hid one of St. Hieron’s severed hands and brought it to Hieron’s mother, the blind Stratonika. She took her son’s hand and wept bitterly: “O my beloved son, I gave birth to you whole, and now I have only one part of you!”

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the malignant power of an evil spirit over those who serve him (Acts 19):

1. How seven Jews tried to imitate Paul in driving out spirits from possessed people, attempting this for their own gain;

2. How the evil spirit answered them, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

3. How the man with the evil spirit leaped on them and overwhelmed them.

HOMILY
on the dark paths of mankind before and apart from Christ

… in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).

This is all one and the same path—the path to destruction. According to the course of this world means inclination toward sinfulness; according to the prince of the power of the air means according to the will of those chiefs of the demons who inhabit the air; in the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience means that in the same way that the opponents and adversaries of God now live, all men lived before the advent of Christ, including those to whom the Apostle writes the epistle. What is this power of the air, brethren? This is the order of evil spirits who exist in constant movement in the air. They make the air lethal and they impede the souls of the departed as they make their way to heaven. They deceive the spirit of man to work every evil; they tempt it with every sin. Yet, they do not command the spirit to sin, for they lack the power to do that; they can only tempt and corrupt. They acted more strongly and directly on the pagans than on the Israelites. They fell upon the pagans as a swarm of flies on a carcass, but the Israelites they watched from a distance, corrupting and tempting them more subtlely. They stood at a distance from Israel because of the name of God, which was preserved and spoken among the Israelites. The Lord Jesus Christ scattered them all and plucked out their poisonous stings, so that they remained only as empty phantoms, as miserable, inconstant shadows that vanish instantly at the mention of the name of Christ or at the tracing of the sign of Christ’s Cross.

O Lord Jesus, our Commander and Deliverer, help us to live in Thy freedom.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


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