Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, March 5, 2017



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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

First Sunday of Great Lent: The Triumph of Orthodoxy; Saint Leo, Bishop of Catania

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FOUR:
When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Thy Resurrection; they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the apostles: Death is overthrown! Christ God is Risen, granting the world great mercy.

THE TRIUMPH OF ORTHODOXY TROPARION - TONE TWO:
We venerate Your most pure image, O Good One, and ask forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ God.  Of Your own will, You were pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh to deliver Your creatures from bondage to the enemy.  Therefore with thanksgiving we cry aloud to You: ‘You have filled all things with joy, O our Savior, by coming to save the world.’

TROPARION TO SAINT LEO - TONE ONE: 
You were shown forth as a resplendent priest, a teacher of godliness and a wonderworker, blessed hierarch Leo; by the light of heavenly virtue you were enriched with the power of the Spirit, and heal the souls and bodies of those who hasten to you.  Glory to Christ who has glorified you!  Glory to Him who has crowned you!  Glory to Him who through you works healing for all!

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE FOUR:
My Savior and my Redeemer as God rose from the tomb and delivered the earthborn from their chains. And He has shattered the gates of hell, and as Master, He has risen on the third day!

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!’

THE TRIUMPH OF ORTHODOXY KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT: The indescribable Word of the Father accepted to be described when He took flesh from you, O Theotokos, restoring the fallen image to its former state and filling it with divine beauty; and confessing this our salvation, we depict it in word and deed.

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 4th Tone:
Blessed are You, O Lord God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is Your name forever!

First Sunday of Lent: Hebrews 11: 24-26; 32 – 12: 2
Brethren, by faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.  And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  Women received their dead raised to life again.  Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.  Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented - of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Alleluia Verses:
Moses and Aaron were among His priests; Samuel also was among those who called on His Name. They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.

GOSPEL READING

First Sunday of Lent: John 1: 43-51
At that time, Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Philip said to him, “Come and see.”  Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit.” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”  Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree’ do you believe?  You will see greater things than these.”  And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

From The Prologue
February 20/March 5 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Saint Leo, Bishop of Catania
In the town of Catania, below the volcanic Mount Etna, lived St. Leo, a good shepherd and compassionate teacher of the people. He had great concern for the sick and the poor. His zeal for the Faith was as great as his charity toward the less fortunate. A magician named Heliodorus appeared in Catania and deluded the people with various illusions, greatly demoralizing the youth of the town. At one time during the divine services, Heliodorus entered the church of God and began his obscenities. St. Leo approached him, tied him to one end of his pallium, and led him to the marketplace of the city. Here Leo ordered that a large fire be built. When it was raging, he stood in the middle of the blaze and pulled Heliodorus into the fire. Heliodorus was completely consumed, but Leo remained alive and unscathed. All who had been bewitched by Heliodorus and who had looked upon him as someone divine, were ashamed. The compassionate and zealous Leo was proclaimed throughout the entire kingdom as a great miracle-worker, who helped men by his shining miracles. When Leo ended his course, he took up his habitation with the Lord, and from his relics there flowed healing myrrh. He reposed in the eighth century.

The Holy Hieromartyr Sadok
Sadok was bishop in Persia after St. Simeon. Once St. Simeon appeared to him in a dream and said: “Yesterday, me—today, you!” Sadok interpreted these words to his flock as meaning: Last year I [St. Simeon] suffered, this year you [Sadok] will suffer. Indeed, that year King Sapor arrested him with many of the clergy and people and brought them to trial. Sapor first ordered them to worship fire and the sun as divinities. Sadok replied: “We are eagerly prepared to die for our God, but we can worship neither the sun nor fire.” After that, they were tortured and sentenced to death by beheading. Before being beheaded, Sadok sent up a prayer to God: “Wash us from our sins, O Lord, in our blood!” Sadok and his priests and faithful gloriously gave up their bodies to death and their souls to the Immortal God. They suffered in the year 342 or 344.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Sadok

What is the sun? The eye that does not see.

What is fire? A servant without reason.

King Sapor spoke to Sadok:
“Worship the sun and the flame,
The gods which rule the world,
According to the teaching of Zoroaster the wise.”

Sadok gently replied to the emperor:
“To you, O Emperor, be health and joy,
But where does the sensible bow down before the senseless?

Where does the rational bow down before the irrational?

The sun—beautiful as a thing of God,
The flame—wonderful as a servant of men;

But can the created replace the Creator?

Can the dead be a replacement for the living?

Is the painting better than the artist?

Is the plow more precious than the plower?

In the heavens, O Emperor, there is only one God,
Omnipotent, intelligent, beautiful and good,
The Creator of the visible and invisible world,
The Designer of everything created.

He is the Giver of all good gifts,
A Lover of mankind and the Almighty.

The Only-begotten Son revealed Him.

He saved us from the Persian errors,
He taught us to stand on top of nature,
And to turn our face toward the Creator
To lift up our entire soul to heaven—

There, where our homeland is,
The homeland of angels and men.”

Thus spoke Sadok—and Sapor beheaded him.

REFLECTION
Water is finer than earth; fire is finer than water; air is finer than fire; electricity is finer than air. Nevertheless, air and electricity are dense elements in comparison to the spiritual world.

Electricity is very fine, but the voice is finer than electricity; the thought finer than the voice; the spirit finer than thought.

Air is fine and it carries the voice over a great distance. Electricity is fine and it carries light over a great distance. Nevertheless, how much more so is every deed, word and thought of yours carried to all the ends of the spiritual world. Oh, how dreadful it is to commit sinful deeds and to speak sinful words and to think insane thoughts! To what immeasurable distances are waves amassed from this on the spiritual sea! But do not peer into the details of the unknown world. The main thing is that you know and measure how all your deeds, words and thoughts unavoidably create an impression on all four sides: on God and the spiritual world, on nature, on men, and on your soul. If you train yourself in this knowledge, you will attain a high level of saving vigilance.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus in conversation with Nicodemus (John, Chapter 3):

1. How Nicodemus, though a teacher in Israel, did not perfectly comprehend spiritual things;

2. How our Lord intentionally began the conversation with the question of spiritual birth—a question most inaccessible to the mind of Nicodemus—so as by this to bring Nicodemus to meekness and then to further cultivate him as a good field;

3. How in the beginning Nicodemus approached Christ with hesitation and shyness (as even today most of our scholars do), but afterward more boldly.

HOMILY on judgment and condemnation

He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already (John 3:18).

He who believes in Christ the Lord is not condemned, for he judges himself, and directs his footsteps toward the light that goes before him. As a man in profound darkness adjusts his footsteps according to the candle in his hand, so does the one who believes in Christ—he has embarked after Christ as after a light in the darkness of life.

He who does not believe is condemned already. That is, he who does not have a guide on the unknown path loses his way and strays as soon as he takes the first step. He who does not believe in Christ is condemned to ignorance, weakness, anger, staggering along crooked and winding roads, vice, despair and perhaps even suicide. He is condemned in two worlds: in this world to a senseless, physical and delusory existence, and in the other world to eternal damnation! Oh, how dark is the path of the children of unbelief, and how deep is the abyss between their first and third steps!

O All-merciful Lord, in truth, besides Thee we have no one and nothing to believe in. Thou art our Savior from darkness, sin and death.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


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