Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, October 19, 2014


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost; The Holy Apostle Thomas; The Glorification of Saint Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, Enlightener of the Aleuts, Apostle to America

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 THE APOSTLE THOMAS - TONE TWO:
You were a disciple of Christ, and a member of the divine college of Apostles.  Having been weak in faith you doubted the resurrection of Christ, but by feeling the wounds you believed in His all-pure passion: pray now to Him, O all-praised Thomas, to grant us peace and great mercy.

TROPARION TO ST. INNOCENT - TONE FOUR:
O holy father Innocent, in obedience to the will of God you accepted dangers and tribulations, bringing many peoples to the knowledge of truth; you showed us the way.  And now, by your prayers, help lead us into the kingdom of heaven.

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

KONTAKION TO THE APOSTLE THOMAS - TONE FOUR:
Thomas, the faithful servant and disciple of Christ, filled with divine grace, cried out from the depth of his love: ‘You are my Lord and my God!’  

KONTAKION TO ST. INNOCENT - TONE TWO:
Your life, O holy father Innocent, Apostle to our land, proclaims the dispensation and grace of God!  For laboring in dangers and hardships for the Gospel of Christ, you were kept unharmed and exalted in humility.  Pray that He may guide our steps in the way we should go.

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 2nd Tone:    

The Lord is my strength and my song.  He has become my salvation.

19th Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Corinthians
11: 31–12: 9   


Brethren, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.  In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.  It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast.  I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body, I do not know, God knows - such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.  For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth.  But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 

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

19th Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 6: 31-36
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.  But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.  For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

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

The Holy Apostle Thomas
Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles. Through his doubt in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord, a new proof was given of that wonderful and saving event. The resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples a second time, in order to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas replied: My Lord and my God (John 20:27–28). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the apostles cast lots to see where they would each go to preach, the lot fell to Thomas to go to India. He was a little saddened that he had to go so far away, but the Lord appeared to him and encouraged him. In India, St. Thomas converted many, both aristocrats and poor, to the Christian Faith, and established the Church there, appointing priests and bishops. Among others, Thomas converted two sisters to the Faith—Tertiana and Migdonia—both wives of Indian princes. Because of their faith, both sisters were ill-treated by their husbands, with whom they no longer wanted to live after their baptism. Eventually, they were allowed to go. Being freed of marriage, they lived God-pleasing lives until their repose. Dionysius and Pelagia were betrothed, but when they heard the apostolic preaching they did not marry, but devoted themselves to the ascetic life. Pelagia ended her life as a martyr for the Faith, and Dionysius was ordained a bishop by the apostle. Prince Mazdai, Tertiana’s husband, whose son, Azan, was also baptized by Thomas, condemned the apostle to death. Mazdai sent five soldiers to kill Thomas. They ran him through with their five spears, and thus the Holy Apostle Thomas rendered his soul into the hands of Christ. Before his death, he and the other apostles were miraculously brought to Jerusalem for the burial of the Most-holy Theotokos. Arriving too late, he wept bitterly, and the tomb of the Holy Most-pure One was opened at his request. The Theotokos’ body was not found in the tomb: the Lord had taken His Mother to His heavenly habitation. Thus, in his tardiness St. Thomas revealed to us the wondrous glorification of the Mother of God, just as he had once confirmed faith in the Resurrection of the Lord by his unbelief.

The Venerable New Martyr Macarius
Macarius was born in the town of Kios, in Bithynia. His parents, Peter and Anthusa, were Christians, and he was baptized with the name of Manuel. In his youth, he was sent to learn tailoring as a trade. In the meantime, his father embraced Islam and moved to Brussa. There came a time when Manuel came to Brussa on business, and his father found him and exerted great pressure on him to become a Moslem. Manuel resisted in vain: the Turks circumcised him by force. Manuel then fled to the Holy Mountain and was tonsured a monk in the Skete of St. Anna. His monastic name was Macarius. For twelve years he was an excellent monk, but he never had peace of soul. Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven (Matthew 10:33)—Christ’s words continually echoed in Macarius’s mind. Finally, with the blessing of his elder, he went to Brussa and openly confessed his Faith in Christ before the Turks, calling Mohammed a false prophet. After being flogged for 130 days and enduring other harsh tortures, he was beheaded there, on October 6, 1590. A part of his miracle-working relics is preserved in the Skete of St. Anna on Mount Athos.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Apostle ThomasThe Apostle Thomas, by his unbelief,
Strengthened his faith: the Lord appeared to him.

Thomas witnessed Him and rejoiced,
And joyfully glorified Christ.

India became Thomas’s vineyard,
And he cultivated that land with the Cross:

Preaching Christ to the mighty and the lowly,
Preaching His wisdom and His works.

O wise sons of India,
Your wisdom is but a snake in the grass.

Lo, true Wisdom has descended from heaven for you—
The Wisdom of God has appeared in the flesh!

Thomas spoke and worked miracles,
And a multitude of people followed him,
In hearing his wisdom, and beholding the wonders
That Thomas worked in the name of the Lord.

Thomas endured great torments,
But shattered the gates of the darkness of idolatry,
And suffered, like Christ, five cruel wounds,
Which he received in his body for the sake of the truth.

Five bitter wounds, for the number of the senses—
Which is a lesson in mystical wisdom:
He who subdues not all his senses
Will taste of no spiritual sweetness.

REFLECTION
We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (II Corinthians 5:1), says the discerning Apostle Paul. All our efforts for God on earth have this purpose: to merit, according to our power, this eternal house in the heavens not made by hands. The Indian King Gundafor decided to build himself a magnificent palace, unlike any other on earth. When Abban, his envoy, sought a skilled craftsman to build the king’s palace, he met the Apostle Thomas by God’s providence. St. Thomas told him that he was a craftsman, and that no one else could build what the king wanted. Thomas therefore received much gold from the king for the building of this palace. As soon as he departed from the king, he distributed all the gold to the poor. The palace site was some distance from the king’s capital, and after two years the king sent servants to ask Thomas if the palace was completed. Thomas replied: “Everything is ready except the roof,” and he sought more money from the king; and the king gave it to him. Again, Thomas distributed it all to the poor, and went throughout the kingdom doing his work, preaching the Gospel. The king, learning that Thomas had not even begun to build the palace, seized him and threw him into prison. That night, the king’s brother died, and the king fell into great sorrow. An angel took the soul of the deceased and, leading him through Paradise, showed him a magnificent palace, such as the mind of man could not imagine. The soul of the deceased wished to enter that palace, but the angel told him that he could not, for it was his brother’s palace, which the Apostle Thomas had built with his alms. Then the angel returned the brother’s soul to his body. When he came to himself, he said to the king: “Swear to me that you will give me anything I ask.” And the king swore. Then the brother said: “Give me the palace that you have in the heavens.” The king was amazed that he had a palace in the heavens. When the brother described everything in detail, the king believed and immediately released Thomas from prison. Then, when he heard the apostle’s preaching of salvation and eternal life, the king and his brother were baptized. King Gundafor undertook new works of charity, and built an even more magnificent palace in the heavens for himself.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the injustice of King Amon and God’s punishment of him (II Chronicles 33):

1. How Amon, the son of Manasseh, turned from God and did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord;

2. How he reigned for only two years, and was slain by his servants.

HOMILY
on the king’s repentance
I am weary with my groaning; all night I wash my bed; I water my couch with my tears (Psalms 6:6).

Day replaces night, and night replaces day. Let our daily repentance be succeeded by nightly repentance, and our nightly repentance by daily repentance. Daily repentance is shown primarily in good works; and nightly repentance in prayer, sighing and weeping. Thus, we repay our debt both day and night, by filling them with that which is most worthwhile before the Lord, and that which will go with us to the Judgment of God. Look at King David and behold an example of true repentance. It is not enough to confess one’s sin before a priest and consider it forgiven. Behold, even David acknowledged his sin before the Prophet Nathan, saying: I have sinned against the Lord (II Samuel 12:13). However, the great king did not consider this enough, but continually sighed in prayer before God, and washed away his sin every night with tears of repentance. Even lying in bed did not serve as rest for him, but as exhaustion from tearful repentance and tearful sighing. Do not say: “David committed murder and adultery, and therefore he had much to repent for.” Do you not kill men by your hatred, and commit adultery by your impure thoughts and desires? Brethren, this life is not to justify ourselves but to condemn ourselves. Blessed is he whom God will justify at the Dread Judgment.

Repentance is not a matter for one hour or for one day. Repentance should be our inner occupation to the end of life. All night I water my couch, said King David. That does not mean that there is no need for repentance during the day, but that the outpouring of spiritual repentance is more suited to the night than the day. In the stillness of the night, both our sins and God’s judgment come more clearly into focus. Doesn’t the night remind us more clearly of death than the day? Doesn’t the bed remind us of the nearness of the grave?

O Lord, just and wonderful, truly we cannot repent without Thy help. Help us, O All-good One, that we might see our sinful wounds, and smell the stench from them, and weep over ourselves—before our kinsmen begin to weep over our dead bodies, and before our guardian angels begin to weep over the carrion of our souls, when they are cast into the unquenchable fire. Help us and save us, O our God.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

THE CHRISTIAN HERITAGE OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, October 12, 2014

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost;Venerable Father Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE ONE:

When the stone had been sealed by the Jews; while the soldiers were guarding Your most pure Body; You did rise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of heaven therefore cried to You, O Giver of Life: Glory to Your Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Your Kingdom! Glory to Your dispensation, O You who loves mankind.

TROPARION TO VENERABLE CYRIACUS - TONE ONE:

O dweller of the desert and angel in the body, you were shown to be a wonderworker, our God-bearing Father Cyriacus.  You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer: healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith.  Glory to Him who gave you strength!  Glory to Him who granted you a crown!  Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE ONE:

As God, You did arise from the tomb in glory, raising the world with Yourself. Human nature praises You as God, for death has vanished.  Adam exults, O Master!  Eve rejoices, for she is freed from bondage, and cries to You: You are the giver of resurrection to all, O Christ!

KONTAKION TO VENERABLE CYRIACUS - TONE EIGHT:

The sacred lavra honors you as a mighty champion and helper, and yearly celebrates your memory.  As you have boldness before the Lord, preserve us from our enemies, so that we may sing: ‘Rejoice, thrice-blessed Father Cyriacus!’

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 1st Tone:       

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have set our hope on You.

18th Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Corinthians 9: 6-11   

Brethren, this I say to you: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.  As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad; He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”  Now may he who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 

The Alleluia Verses:

God gives vengeance to me, and subdues people under me.  He magnifies the salvation of the King, and deals mercifully with His Christ, with David and his seed forever.

GOSPEL READING

18th Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 5: 1-11     

At that time, as the multitude pressed about Jesus to hear the word of God, He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.  Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land.  And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.  When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.  When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man,    O Lord!”  For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men.”  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

SPIRITUAL ARTICLES

From The Prologue for September 29/October 12 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Venerable Cyriacus the Recluse

Cyriacus was born in Corinth, to John and Eudoxia. His father John was a presbyter and Peter, Bishop of Corinth, was his kinsman. In his early youth, the bishop ordained Cyriacus a reader in the cathedral church. Reading the Holy Scripture, the young Cyriacus marveled at God’s providence: how God glorified all His true servants and how He arranged the salvation of the human race. At age eighteen, Cyriacus’s desire for the spiritual life led him to Jerusalem. There, he entered the monastery of a godly man Eustorgius, who gave him his first instruction in the monastic life. After that, he went to St. Euthymius, who foresaw that he would be a great spiritual father. He clothed him in the schema and sent him to St. Gerasimus at the Jordan, where Cyriacus spent nine years. Following the death of Gerasimus, he returned to the Monastery of St. Euthymius, where he remained in stillness for ten years. Then, fleeing the praise of men, he moved from place to place. He finally lived a life of asceticism in the community of St. Chariton, where he ended his earthly sojourn of 109 years. A celebrated ascetic and miracle-worker, St. Cyriacus was massive and strong in body, and remained such in deep old age, despite strict fasts and vigils. In the wilderness, he sometimes ate only raw greens for years. He was very zealous for the Orthodox Faith, denouncing all heresies, especially that of Origen. He said of himself that, since he became a monk, the sun had neither seen him eat nor become angry with anyone. According to the Rule of St. Chariton, the monks ate only once a day, after the setting of the sun. Cyriacus was a great light, a pillar of Orthodoxy, the adornment of monks, a mighty healer of the sick, and a gentle comforter of the sorrowful. Having lived long for the benefit of many, he took up his habitation in the eternal joy of his Lord in the year 557.

The Holy Martyrs Dada and Gabdelas

Dada was a great Persian nobleman and a kinsman of King Sapor, and Gabdelas was Sapor’s son. When St. Dada openly confessed his faith in Christ, King Sapor ordered that he be cruelly tortured. During these tortures, Dada worked great miracles in the name of Christ, and these so strongly influenced Gabdelas that he also believed in Christ. The pagan King did not even spare his own son, but subjected him also to harsh tortures. Both Dada and Gabdelas glorified God with their patient endurance and many miracles, and gave up their souls to God under torture. They suffered in the fourth century. Gabdelas’s sister Casdoa, and Gargal the chief pagan priest, suffered with them—for they, too, had come to believe in Christ.

Saint Theophanes the Merciful

Theophanes was a wealthy citizen from Gaza. He was so merciful that, in distributing his possessions to the poor, he impoverished himself. Toward the end of his life, he was afflicted with dropsy and died from that illness. Thereafter a healing myrrh flowed from his body, by which the sick were healed.

Saint Mary of Palestine

At first, Mary was a reader of the Psalter in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. Because she was of beautiful countenance, many who gazaed upon her were tempted by lustful thoughts. So that she would no longer be a cause of temptation for men, Mary withdrew into the wilderness of Souka with a basket of beans and an earthenware jug of water. St. Mary lived in the wilderness for eighteen years. By God’s power, neither the beans nor the water ran out. The disciples of St. Cyriacus found her during her lifetime, and later buried her.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Mary of Palestine

The beautiful Mary was born beautiful,
And, faithful to Christ, she prayed to Him:
“Help me, my Lord, a helpless woman,
Show me, the lowly one, the path to salvation.
With Thy help, I struggle not to sin,
But my face is a temptation to the weakness of others.”
Mary bowed with tears to the Living God,
And hid in the wilderness from the eyes of men.
Mary conversed with God, and that was her reward.
Her soul shone brighter than pure gold.
Her body withered with the passing years,
And an angel raised the heavenly woman up to Paradise.
She now rejoices, radiant among the angels,
And Saint Mary prays to God for us.

REFLECTION

In ignorance, many people labor more to avoid suffering in old age and terminal illness than to avoid the torments of hell in the life after old age and death. Such was the case of an unmarried and avaricious man who, from year to year, and with ever greater passion, amassed for himself unnecessary wealth. When asked why he strove so much to pile up excess wealth he replied: “I am gathering it for my old age. This wealth will heal and feed me in old age and sickness.” And indeed, his foreboding came true. In old age, a grave and long-lasting illness befell him. He distributed his accumulated wealth to physicians so they would heal him, and to servants so they would care for him and feed him. His wealth was soon spent, and the illness continued. The physicians and servants abandoned him, and he fell into despair. His neighbors brought him bread until his death, and he was buried at the expense of the community. He had used his wealth for that which he had intended it. God had even done for him according to the man’s will. God had sent him the illness that he had, in a sense, desired, and for which he had prepared great wealth. Nevertheless, all his wealth was unable to alleviate his sufferings in this world—so with what would he be able to alleviate his sufferings in the other world? Nothing, if he took with him neither faith, nor hope, nor charitable deeds, nor prayers, nor repentance! Someone saw a departed man in the great glory of Paradise, and asked him how he had become worthy of that glory. The man replied: “In my earthly life I was the hireling of an evil-doer who never paid me. But I endured all and served him to the end, with hope in God.” Then the onlooker saw another man in even greater glory, and when he asked him, that one replied: “I was a leper, and to the very end I offered gratitude to God for that.” But no one saw in the glory of Paradise the man who had amassed money for illness in old age.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the punishment with which God punished King Uzziah (II Chronicles 26):

1. How, in his conceit, Uzziah unlawfully approached the sanctuary of God;

2. How leprosy suddenly appeared on his forehead.

HOMILY
on knowing the Father through the Son

O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee (John 17:25).

An equal knows his equal best. The lower does not know the higher, or the mortal the immortal. The Old Testament prophets and some of the wise men of ancient times knew God as the Creator and the Provider, but no one knew Him as the Father of the Son. Those who knew Him in ancient times knew Him through creation, and not through birth. Through creation they knew something of the righteousness, wisdom and power of God; but they did not know His love, for love is known through birth. A father knows the mystery of the one born, and the one born knows the love of the parent. It could be put this way: “The world hath not known Thee, for the world looked at Thee as Lord and itself as a slave; But I have known Thee, for I see Thee as Father and feel Thine inexpressible love. The world looks at Thee through the veil of Thy works; but I look at Thee face to face, in the eternal beauty of Thy love.” The Lord brought this illuminating flame of eternal filial and paternal love among men, so that men could see God in this flame, in this new and hitherto unknown light. The Lord passed this new knowledge of God’s love to His apostles, and through them to us.  Oh, may this flame of divine eternal love burn in us! May we thus know God as our Father, and ourselves as His children, adopted through the sacrifice of the Only-begotten Son of God. O God of Triune Flame, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: illumine us also, darkened as we are by sin, with the eternal glory of Thy love. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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