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Save the Date!  SEPTEMBER 4, 5, 6, 2015!  LABOR DAY WEEKEND 



Sunday, June 21, 2015

3rd Sunday after Pentecost:
The Holy Great-Martyr Theodore Stratelates   

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE TWO: When Thou didst descend to death, O Life Immortal, Thou did slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead! And when from the depths Thou didst raise the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of Life! Christ our God! Glory to Thee!

TROPARION TO THE HOLY GREAT-MARTYR THEODORE STRATELATES - TONE FOUR: Truly enlisted with the King of Heaven, you became an outstanding general for Him, passion-bearer Theodore; you armed yourself wisely with the weapons of faith and conquered hordes of demons, revealing yourself as a victorious athlete.  Therefore, in faith we always call you blessed.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE TWO: Hell became afraid, O Almighty Savior, seeing the miracle of Thy Resurrection from the tomb!  The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with Thee! And the world, O my Savior, praises Thee forever.

KONTAKION TO THE HOLY GREAT-MARTYR STRATELATES - TONE TWO: With the word of God as a spear in your hand, in courage of soul and armed with faith, you vanquished the enemy, O Theodore, glory of martyrs; with them you unceasingly pray to Christ God for us all. 

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 2nd Tone: The Lord is my strength and my song.  He has become my salvation.

3rd after Pentecost: Romans 5: 1-10:  Brethren, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
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!


3rd after Pentecost: Matthew 6: 22-33: At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “The lamp of the body is the eye.  If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for June 8/21 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Saint Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch
During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius, Ephraim was governor of the eastern regions. He was known to all for his great piety and charity, and because of this he was greatly respected. When it was necessary to rebuild Antioch, which had been destroyed by earthquake and fire, the emperor assigned the governor Ephraim to direct this task. Ephraim fulfilled his duty with diligence and love. Among the ordinary stonecutters was a bishop, who for unknown reasons had left his episcopal see and was working as a common laborer, and no one knew that he was a bishop. One day he lay down to rest from the exhausting work with the other laborers, and fell asleep. The governor Ephraim glanced at him and saw a fiery pillar rising from this man to the heavens. Amazed and frightened, Ephraim summoned this man and made him swear to tell him who he was. The man hesitated, but finally acknowledged that he was a bishop and prophesied to Ephraim that he would shortly be consecrated Patriarch of Antioch. (The throne of the patriarchal see was vacant because the aged Patriarch Euphrasius had perished in the earthquake.) Indeed, Ephraim was elected and consecrated patriarch. Because of his goodness, purity and zeal for Orthodoxy, God gave him the great gift of working miracles. One time, in order to convince a heretic that Orthodoxy is true, he placed his pallium in the fire and prayed to God. His pallium stayed in the fire for three hours and remained intact. Seeing this, the heretic was astonished and rejected his heresy. St. Ephraim reposed in peace in the year 546 and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of God.

The Venerable Zosimas of Phoenicia
St. Zosimas was born in the village of Synda, in the proximity of the town of Tyre. There he lived a life of asceticism in his monastery. Not having any cloud on his conscience, he perceived things at a distance with his spirit and knew what was happening in the world. Thus, he foretold and saw the destruction of Antioch by an earthquake and, weeping bitterly, prostrated himself on the ground and prayed to God that this city not be completely destroyed. Once it happened that a lion on the road killed and ate his donkey. The saint commanded the lion to serve him in place of the donkey and to carry his load. The lion showed himself meek as a lamb before the saint and accepted the load and bore it to the gate of Caesarea, where Zosimas released him and let him go. St. Zosimas died peacefully in the sixth century.

The Holy Great-martyr Theodore Stratelates
This saint is commemorated on February 8, and on that date his life is recounted. However, June 8 commemorates the translation of his relics from Heraklion to Euchaita. Before his martyrdom, St. Theodore left the following instructions in his will to Varus, his servant: “Bury my body in Euchaita on the estate of my ancestors.” St. Anastasius of Sinai wrote about a miracle of the icon of St. Theodore: In the town of Karsat, near Damascus, there was a church dedicated to St. Theodore Stratelates. When the Saracens conquered Damascus, a group of Saracens took up residence in this church with their wives and children. There was a fresco of the image of St. Theodore on the wall. One of the Saracens shot an arrow and struck the image of the saint in the face. At once blood flowed from the image. Soon after that, the entire group of Saracens perished in the church. St. Anastasius said that he personally was in that church and saw the image of the saint on the wall and traces of congealed blood.

Saint Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch

St. Ephraim, brimming with piety,
Was a soldier against evildoers,
Against heresies sinful and foolish.

He was a soldier of the Church—
The Church that Christ purchased and eternally glorified
By His precious Blood shed on the Cross.

Ephraim guarded the flock from wolves
And destroyed the nests of spiders.

Holy Ephraim, chosen one of God,
Was a light in Antioch.

Through his mouth the Church shone
As at the time of the glorious Chrysostom.

By miraculous healing power,
God glorified him who glorified God.

Ephraim, star of the glorious past,
Ephraim, glory of the Orthodox Church.

Fear in suffering and fear of not suffering—this is one and the same fear, and it signifies the fear of a spiritual man as to whether God has distanced Himself from him. When St. Catherine suffered many difficult tortures, the Lord appeared to her and she asked Him: “Where wast Thou until now, O Lord, to comfort me in so many sufferings?” The Lord answered her: “I was here in thy heart.” But as great a fear can come upon a spiritual man when sufferings do not come his way for a long time. A monk once entered a church in Alexandria and saw a woman kneeling before the icon of the Savior, shedding tears and crying out to the Lord: “Thou hast abandoned me, O Lord. O Merciful One, have mercy on me!” Following the prayer the monk asked her: “Who has wronged you that you so bitterly complain to God?” The woman replied: “Up to now no one has wronged me—that is why I am weeping—because God has abandoned me and for three years has not visited me with any sufferings. During this time, neither have I been sick, nor my son, nor have any of my household livestock perished.”

Contemplate the miraculous healing of the two blind men (Matthew 9:27):
1. How the blind men cried out to the Lord to open their eyes;
2. How the Lord touched their eyes and did unto them according to their faith, and they saw;
3. How the Lord can touch my blind soul also and restore my spiritual sight if I cry out to Him in faith.

HOMILY on the King of kings
By Me kings reign and princes decree justice. By Me princes rule and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love Me (Proverbs 8:15-17).

Let not a king think that he rules by his wisdom and power, for he will be mocked by the weak and the foolish. Let not a ruler think that he establishes justice among the people by his own intelligence and will, for this would be foolishness, absurd even to children. Let not princes, rulers and judges think that they rule according to someone else’s will and mercy, contrary to God’s will and mercy, for all those who forget God will be fatally injured on the ice upon which they are sliding.

I love them that love Me, says the Lord. The Lord speaks this, first of all, to the kings, princes and judges of mankind. For if they love the Lord, they are very dear to the Lord. If they love the Lord, the people whom they rule and judge will love Him also. And if the people love the Lord, they will love their kings, princes and judges.

Inasmuch as a man is elevated by power and authority over people, so much closer to God should he be than the people over whom he is elevated.

O my brethren, the Lord was crucified on the Cross for us, and by this He showed His love for us. He Who was crucified for us truly loves us more than he who merely rejoices with us at table. And yet when we have such love for our friends who make merry with us at table, how then should we not love Him Who, out of love for us, was crucified on the Cross?

O Blessed Lord, open for us our spiritual sight, that we may see the entire immeasurable depth of Thy love and that we may be inflamed with love toward Thee!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Sts Sebastian and Mardarije 3

Holy Missionaries MARDARIJE of Libertyville and SEBASTIAN of Jackson, Newly Proclaimed Saints of the Orthodox Church 



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Celebrating Two New American Saints

Dear Reverend Fathers and Council Members,

With this letter I want to share with you the most God-pleasing and most important news of the establishment of new feast days in the Calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session on May 29, 2015, added the names of Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville, and Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovich) of San Francisco and Jackson, clergymen and preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries, to the Dyptich of Saints (Calendar of Saints) of the Orthodox Church. Glory to God! Once again, through the lives of these two saints, we see our Orthodox Church as a faith that produces holy persons, “enriches the world with saints” and insists on an ethos of holiness.

This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world. When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries. The feast of Holy Hierarch Mardarije will be celebrated on November 29/December 12, while that of the Venerable Sebastian will be celebrated on November 17/30.

The Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America plans to celebrate their public and liturgical glorification at St Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, California, on September 5, 2015.

The Serbian Patriarch, His Holiness Irinej, is invited to lead the liturgical festivities, accompanied by the ruling hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in the USA, along with many civil dignitaries and special invited guests.

The program for the festivities can be found here: http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/canonization

With this official invitation we ask you for your presence at a most unique event celebrating these new Serbian American Saints, commemorating the lives of Holy Enlighteners and Apostles of the Church in America.

Please put this date in your calendar in order to be with us on this solemn and important day.

Please let us know if there is anything you need to announce this joyous news to your Community.

With love and esteem in Christ,

Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Western American Diocese


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