Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, April 26, 2015

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015


Third Sunday of Pascha: The Myrrh-bearing Women and Righteous Joseph of Arimathea; The Holy Hieromartyr Artemon of Laodicea


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE TWO: When You descended to death, O Life Immortal, You slayed hell with the splendor of Your Godhead! And when from the depths You raised the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of Life! Christ our God! Glory to You!

TROPARION TO JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA - TONE TWO: The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Your most pure Body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.  But You rose on the third day, O Lord, granting the world great mercy.

Troparion TO THE MYRRH-BEARING WOMEN - TONE TWO: The Angel came to the Myrrh-bearing Women at the tomb and said: ‘Myrrh is fitting for the dead; but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption!  So proclaim: ‘The Lord is risen, granting the world great mercy.’’

KONTAKION TO THE MYRRH-BEARING WOMEN - TONE TWO: 
You commanded the myrrh-bearers to rejoice, and stopped the lamentation of Eve, the first mother, by Your resurrection O Christ God, instructing them to preach to Your Apostles: ‘The Savior is risen from the tomb!’

PASCHAL KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT: You descended into the tomb, O Immortal; You destroyed the power of death. In victory You arose, O Christ God, proclaiming “Rejoice” to the myrrh-bearing women, granting peace to Your disciples, and bestowing resurrection on the fallen.

INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET…”: The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!  Again I say: Rejoice!  Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb!  With Himself He has raised all the dead!  Rejoice, all ye people!  Shine!  Shine!  O New Jerusalem!  The glory of the Lord has shone on you!  Exult now and be glad, O Zion!  Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!

INSTEAD OF “WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUE LIGHT…”: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (once)


EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 6th Tone:
O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance.

Third Sunday of Pascha: Acts 6: 1-7
In those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.  Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.  Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  And the saying pleased the whole multitude.  And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.  Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

The Alleluia Verses:
Lord, You were favorable to Your land; You did restore the fortune of Jacob.  Mercy and truth have met; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

GOSPEL READING

Third Sunday of Pascha: Mark 15: 43 – 16: 8  
At that time, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.  So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.  Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen.  And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid. Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.  Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.  And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away - for it was very large.  And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He is risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell His disciples - and Peter - that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”  So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed.  And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for April 13/26 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic

The Hieromartyr Artemon
Artemon was a priest in Laodicea during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Before the tormentor-judge, he spoke of himself: “I am called Artemon, a slave of Christ, my God. For sixteen years I was a reader and read books in the church of my God. For twenty-eight years I was a deacon and read the Holy Gospel. With the help of Christ, I have fulfilled thirty-three years as a presbyter, teaching men and setting them on the path of salvation.” The judge brought him to the temple of Aesculapius, where the soothsayers kept large serpents dedicated to this “god.” They all assumed that the snakes would bite Artemon. Artemon crossed himself and, by the power of the Cross, fixed all the snakes to the ground, rendering them immovable. Then he brought them all out into the courtyard and breathed upon them, and all of them died instantly. All the soothsayers were in great fear. Upon seeing this miracle, Vitalis, the chief soothsayer of this temple, fell to his knees before Artemon and cried out: “Great is the Christian God!” The martyr then baptized him, along with several of his friends. The malicious judge remained persistent in his malice and tortured the aged Artemon in various ways. At one point, he was ready to throw him into a vat of boiling pitch, but the judge himself was thrown off his horse into the pitch, and was killed. Two eagles were seen to swoop down upon the judge, lift him from his horse and drop him into the pitch. St. Artemon remained free for a period of time. He traveled about, always accompanied by his two beloved deer, and instructed the people. He was captured again and beheaded in the year 303; his soul took up habitation in the Kingdom of Christ our God, Whom he had faithfully served.

The Holy Martyr Crescens
Crescens was from the city of Myra in Lycia. He was an honored and well-known citizen. He openly confessed his faith in Christ and mocked the dead idols. For this, he was burned to death by the pagans.

The Holy Martyr Thomais
Thomais was born in Alexandria of honorable parents. She was taught piety from her youth. At the age of fifteen, she was married to an honorable man. Her father-in-law was a vile old man and, in the absence of his son, he attacked his daughter-in-law, desiring to seduce her. Becoming terrified, Thomais reminded her father-in-law of the Law of God and slipped out of his hands. After a prolonged struggle, the father-in-law drew a knife and murdered his daughter-in-law, then cut her in half. At that moment the punishment of God fell upon him. He was instantly blinded and was unable to find the door from which to leave. In that very room he was apprehended in the act and turned over to the court, which sentenced him to death. Thus Thomais suffered for the sake of God’s commandment regarding marital fidelity and chastity. After that, many who were tempted by adulterous passions directed their prayers to St. Thomais and received strong assistance from her. The great ascetic Daniel translated her relics to Scetis and buried them in the cemetery of the hieromonks. St. Thomais suffered in the year 476.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Thomais

Whoever suffers because of his evil deeds,
Does not have a share with the angels.

Whoever suffers for the will of God,
And endures misfortunes for the sake of Christ,
Either from the faithful or from the unfaithful,
Such a one will gaze upon the face of God.

Thomais, handmaiden of God,
Was in her heart truly devout.

But, for the sake of God’s law, she suffered
From her arrogant father-in-law.

“Leave, O Father-in-law, my poor body alone!

Are you not afraid of the Most-high God?

The human body—even though it is plain mud—
Is given to us by God for the sake of the soul.

If we defile the body with sin,
We are breaking the wings of our soul;

We are separating it from the Living God,
And giving it as booty to the unclean one.”

Blinded by passion, the father-in-law cut her to pieces;
“May God forgive!” the righteous one said.

But blindness befell the murderer—
And the doubly blind man crawls through hell.

REFLECTION
When they brought the martyr Crescens (a nobleman of Myra in Lycia) to court, the judge counseled him for a long time, trying to persuade him to worship idols. When he did not succeed, he finally said to Crescens: “Bow down only in body, but in spirit bow down before your God!” To this the honorable Crescens replied: “The body cannot do anything independently of the soul, which is its driving force and leader.” For that Crescens was killed—an obvious lesson that a Christian cannot be duplicitous. Still another lesson: A Christian has an obligation to serve his Creator not only with the soul but also with the body. This refutes the false position of certain Christians, who live physically as pagans, while praising themselves that they believe in God and love God with their souls. They divide themselves in two, placing themselves in the service of two masters, even though the holiest lips proclaimed that to be an impossibility.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:
1. How, because of Thomas, who was momentarily the only unbelieving one among the disciples, He appeared again in His glorified body;
2. How Thomas placed his finger into the wounds of the all-pure body of the Lord and believed.

HOMILY on Thomas’s test

My Lord and my God (John 20:28).
When the Apostle Thomas felt the wounds of the Lord Jesus, he cried out: My Lord and my God!
When Mary Magdalene heard the voice of the Resurrected One in her soul, she cried out: My Lord and my God!
When Saul saw the light and heard the words of the Resurrected One, he acknowledged: My Lord and my God!
When the pagans, in amazement, observed how countless numbers of martyrs joyfully underwent pains and asked them Who this Christ was, all of them replied: My Lord and my God!
When the scoffers ridiculed the army of ascetics and asked them Who He was for Whom they took upon themselves the awesome burden of asceticism, they all had one answer: My Lord and my God!
When the scorners derided the virgins who had vowed their virginity and asked them Who He was for Whom they had renounced marriage, they all had one answer: My Lord and my God!
When the avaricious, in astonishment, asked the wealthy for Whose sake they had distributed their wealth and become beggars, all of them had the same reply: My Lord and my God!
Some have seen Him and have said: My Lord and my God! Some have only heard Him and said: My Lord and my God! Some have only felt Him and said: My Lord and my God! Some have only observed Him in the fabric of events and in the destinies of peoples and said: My Lord and my God! Some have felt His presence in their lives and cried out: My Lord and my God! Some have recognized Him by some sign, to themselves or to others, and cried out: My Lord and my God! Still some have only heard about Him from others and believed and cried out: My Lord and my God! Truly, these last ones are the most blessed!
Let us also exclaim, with all our hearts, regardless of how we have come to recognize Him or learn about Him: My Lord and my God!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, April 19, 2015

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2015

Second Sunday of Pascha: The Holy Apostle Thomas; Saint Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople


PASCHAL TROPARION – TONE ONE: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

THOMAS SUNDAY TROPARION - TONE SEVEN: From the sealed tomb, You shone forth, O Life!  Through closed doors You came to Your disciples, O Christ God!  Renew in us, through them, an upright spirit, by the greatness of Your mercy, O Resurrection of all!

THOMAS SUNDAY KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT: Thomas touched Your life-giving side with an eager hand, O Christ God; for when You came to Your apostles through closed doors, he cried out with them all: “You are my Lord and my God!”

PASCHAL KONTAKION – TONE EIGHT: You descended into the tomb, O Immortal; You destroyed the power of death.  In victory You arose, O Christ God, proclaiming ‘Rejoice’ to the myrrh-bearing women, granting peace to Your disciples, and bestowing resurrection on the fallen.

INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET…”: The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!  Again I say: Rejoice!  Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb!  With Himself He has raised all the dead!  Rejoice, all ye people!  Shine!  Shine!  O New Jerusalem!  The glory of the Lord has shone on you!  Exult now and be glad, O Zion!  Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!

INSTEAD OF “WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUE LIGHT…”: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (once)


EPISTLE READING


The Prokimenon in the 3rd Tone: Great is our Lord and abundant in power.  His understanding is beyond measure.

Thomas Sunday: Acts 5: 12-20
In those days, through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people.  And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.  Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.  And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.  Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.  Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.  But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

The Alleluia Verses: Come, let us rejoice in the Lord!  Let us make a joyful noise to God our Savior!  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all the earth!

GOSPEL READING

Thomas Sunday: John 20: 19-31
At that time, the same day at evening being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you!  As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  And when He said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  And after eight days His disciples were again inside and Thomas with them.  Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here and put it into My side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.


Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for April 6/19 by
St. Nikolai Velimirovic:


Saint Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople
Eutychius was born in Phrygia of pious and devout parents. His father was an officer. Once, as a child, when Eutychius was playing with his playmates, their game was that each of them would write his name on a wall and, beside his name, would guess what rank he would attain in life. When it was Eutychius’s turn he wrote: Eutychius—Patriarch! In his thirtieth year he became abbot of a monastery in Amasea. At age forty, he was sent by the Metropolitan of Amasea to represent him at the Fifth Ecumenical Council [Constantinople, 553]. At the Council, he glowed like a shining star among the Fathers of the Church, both by his learning and by his zeal. When the debate began as to whether heretics could be anathematized after their deaths, he supported the opinion that they could be, by calling upon the Third Book of Kings 13:1–8 and the Fourth Book of Kings 23:16. Eutychius endeared himself greatly to Emperor Justinian and Patriarch Menas. The emperor sought his advice on many occasions, and Patriarch Menas (who at that time was very rich) designated Eutychius as his successor, imploring the emperor to carry this out in deed. And so it happened! St. Eutychius governed the Church in peace for twelve years. Then the devil raised up a tempest against him. This tempest reached Justinian himself. The emperor became deluded and succumbed to the Monophysite heresy, which falsely taught that the Lord Jesus, before His Resurrection, had a divine and incorruptible body, not feeling hunger, thirst or pain. Eutychius adamantly opposed this heresy, for which the emperor exiled him to his original monastery. Eutychius remained there for twelve years and eight months. He proved himself to be a great miracle-worker, healing people of various illnesses through prayer, and by anointing them with holy oil. Justinian repented and died, and was succeeded by Justin, who restored Eutychius to the patriarchal throne, where this saint remained, governing the Church of God in peace until his death. In 582, in his seventieth year, he took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ the Lord, Whom he had faithfully and courageously served throughout his entire life.

The Holy 120 Martyrs who suffered in Persia
When the Persian King Sapor plundered the lands of Byzantium, he enslaved 120 Christians. Since his attempts to persuade them to deny Christ and worship fire proved to be in vain, the king threw them into the fire and burned them alive. Among those martyrs were nine virgins dedicated to God. They all suffered honorably between the years 344 and 347, and took up their habitation in the mansions of Christ the King.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Eutychius

Eutychius witnessed Christ to the emperor:
“Christ,” said he, “had a feeble body,
A body susceptible to hunger and pain,
Similar to, but not the same as, the body on the throne.

The King of Glory bore on earth the air of a servant,
But He raised glorified flesh into heaven.

Where would be the tears in an illusory body?
Where the bloody sweat, O Emperor—on an illusory brow?
‘I hunger! I thirst!’ spoke the Truth.

Why do you make the Son of God a liar?
When He witnesses His hunger to the world,
You say to Him, ‘Thou art satiated!’ Do you say that to His face?

Thirsting, He cries out while hanging on the Cross,
And you respond to Him, ‘Thou art not thirsty, Thou art not!’
O great Emperor, do not speak impurity.

Behind your words the demon himself hides.

In vain do you build churches, when you destroy the Faith;
And vain are your votive offerings, when you extinguish their flames.

Christ’s sufferings are greater than all other sufferings.

The whole of history revolves around the Cross.

The Cross is thus honorable, awesome, and capable of healing,
Because it is the source of pain, brimming over and abundant.

On the Cross is Christ—a man nailed,
Blood, sweat and moaning—and not a dream that is dreamed.”

REFLECTION
It is said about an ancient orator that he labored day and night to perfect himself in the art of oratory. Someone said to him: “Demosthenes does not want you to be the chief orator.” To which he immediately retorted: “Neither will I allow him to be the only one.” If you cannot be a first-class saint like St. Anthony, do not shrug your shoulders and say: “Nothing can come of me!” Increase your efforts and double your talent. In My Father’s house are many mansions, said the Lord (John 14:2). If you merit to settle in the least of these dwelling places, you will be more glorious and more fortunate than all of the rulers who have ever existed on earth. To each according to his own talent. You will not be a St. Anthony, but neither will St. Anthony, alone, occupy the Kingdom of God.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus:
1. How the stone on the tomb did not split, neither was the seal on it broken;
2. How the All-powerful and meek Lord did not damage the tomb during His Resurrection, as the Virgin’s womb was not harmed in His birth.

HOMILY on victory over the last enemy

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (I Corinthians 15:26).
Man’s first enemy is the devil, the second is sin, and the third is death. The Lord Jesus conquered all three of these enemies of the human race. By His humiliation He conquered the proud devil; by His death He conquered sin; and by His Resurrection He conquered death. In conquering all of our enemies, He invites us to be partakers in His glorious victory. It is not that we ourselves conquer, but that we are joined to the Victor. Only His power conquers, only His weapons vanquish. We are without power and weapons, but our enemies are frightful. With Him and alongside Him, we conquer those mightier than ourselves. What is the price He offers to us for His victory? A meager price, my brethren; for a very paltry price He offers us the most precious victory. To humble ourselves and to submit ourselves to the will of God—that is the price He seeks to conquer the devil for us. To die unto ourselves, to die to fleshly desires and passions—that is the price He seeks to conquer sin for us. To live for Him and not for ourselves, to receive Him into our hearts—that is the price He seeks to conquer death for us. He conquered all the enemies openly and completely, but this is the price for which He offers His victory to each of us. The Apostle Paul says: Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:57).

O resurrected Lord, enlighten, strengthen and heal us by Thy victory.
We who are grateful raise up to Thee glory and praise forever. Amen.


In some translations called the First Book of Kings.—Trans.
In some translations called the Second Book of Kings.—Trans.

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