Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, June 25, 2017

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SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2017


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 SAINTS ONUPHRIUS AND PETER – TONE ONE: In the flesh you lived the life of the angels, you were citizens of the desert and treasuries of grace, O Onuphrius, adornment of Egypt, and Peter the light of Athos.  Therefore we honor your struggles as we sing to you: Glory to Him who has strengthened you!  Glory to Him who granted you a crown!  Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all.

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 SAINT ONUPHRIUS THE GREAT – TONE TWO: You appeared as a bright star to the hermits of the desert, a light shining in the darkness of solitude, O holy Father Onuphrius.  Therefore, ceaselessly intercede for us all.

KONTAKION TO SAINT PETER OF MOUNT ATHOS – TONE EIGHT: Planting the spiritual principles within your heart, O holy Peter, you were made a vessel holy to the indivisible Trinity.  You obtained the grace of miracles and gave glory to God, singing, ‘Alleluia!’

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

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 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!


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.”


The Venerable Onuphrius the Great
This saintly hermit had been living in the desert for sixty full years when the monk Paphnutius visited him. His hair and beard reached to the ground and his body, due to a long period of nakedness, was covered with long hair. All his hair was white as snow and his entire appearance was brilliant, sublime and awesome. Seeing Paphnutius, Onuphrius called him by name and recounted to him his [Onuphrius’s] life in the wilderness. His guardian angel had appeared to him and brought him to this place in the wilderness. For a long time he had eaten only vegetables, which could rarely be found in the wilderness. After he had endured violent combat with the temptations of the demons, and his heart had been completely strengthened in the love of God, an angel of God brought him bread for nourishment. Besides that, by the good providence of God, there grew up next to his cell a palm tree that brought forth dates abundantly, and a spring of living water began to flow there. “However,” Onuphrius said, “I mostly nourish myself and quench my thirst with the sweet words of God.” To Paphnutius’s question as to how he received Holy Communion, the hermit answered that an angel of God brought him Holy Communion every Saturday. The next day the elder told Paphnutius that it was the day of his departure from this world; he knelt down, prayed to God and gave up his spirit unto God. At that moment Paphnutius saw a heavenly light illuminating the body of the reposed saint and heard the singing of angelic hosts. Having honorably buried the body of Onuphrius, Paphnutius returned to his monastery, that as a living witness he might narrate to others, for their benefit, the wondrous life of this man and the greatness of God’s providence toward those who have completely given themselves over to the service of God. Onuphrius reposed in the year 400.

The Venerable Peter the Athonite
Peter was a Greek by birth and a soldier by profession. Once, in battle against the Arabs, Peter was captured, bound in chains, and cast into prison. Peter remained imprisoned a long time in the town of Samara on the Euphrates River, and he constantly prayed that God would free him from prison and take him to a wilderness, where he would dedicate himself completely to a life of prayerful asceticism. St. Simeon the God-receiver, together with St. Nicholas, appeared to him in prison and touched his iron chains with his staff; they melted like wax and Peter suddenly found himself in a field outside the town. He immediately set out for Rome, where he was tonsured a monk by the pope himself at the tomb of St. Peter. After this he again took ship for the East. The All-holy Theotokos, along with St. Nicholas, appeared to him in a dream, and the Theotokos told St. Nicholas that she had designated Mount Athos for Peter to live on in asceticism. Up to this time Peter had never heard of Mount Athos. Disembarking therefore on the Holy Mountain, Peter settled in a cave, where he remained for fifty-three years in difficult ascetic labors, in a struggle with hunger and thirst, with heat and cold, and especially with demonic powers, until he had overcome all with the help of God. After he had endured the first temptations and had successfully passed the first difficult tests before God, an angel of God began to bring him bread every forty days. On several occasions, the tempter—the devil—appeared to him under the guise of an angel of light, but Peter repelled him with the sign of the Cross and the name of the All-holy Theotokos. About a year before his death he was discovered by a hunter who was hunting deer around Athos, and from the mouth of the saint the hunter heard his life’s story. He reposed in the year 734. His relics were translated to Macedonia.

The Venerable Timothy the Egyptian Hermit
Timothy first lived a life of asceticism in the Thebaid and then withdrew into the wilderness, where he lived for thirty years. Having pleased God, he reposed peacefully.

The Venerable Bassian and Jonah
Bassian and Jonah were monks of the Solovki Monastery. They drowned and were washed ashore in the year 1651. Over their graves a sign appeared, and because of this a church was built. The Pertominsk Monastery was subsequently established there. Once, when Tsar Peter the Great was saved from a tempest, he remained there for three days, made a cross, and erected it on the shore.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Peter the Athonite

St. Peter in the fearful wilderness
Was deprived of all earthly riches,
But through tearful prayer he overcame
All the rich illusions of the devil.

He bridled his heart and raised it to God;
He set his mind upright and lifted it up to heaven.

Immobile as a rock among the cliffs,
Wearied by hunger and all-night vigils,
He directed himself toward every good,
As a fleshless one in earthly flesh.

For half a century on Mount Athos,
He spoke only with God in prayer.

From age he turned as white as snow;
He saw no man, nor did he desire to.

God revealed to him the window of heaven;
He saw countless miracles,
The Mother of God and God’s angels,
And the all-wondrous saints of God.

The Lord sent an angel to him
Who gave him Holy Communion from heaven,
Until Peter made himself a spiritual giant,
A city on a high mountain,
To be a teacher throughout the ages,
A wondrous example to holy monks.

Great and wonderful is the Mystery of Holy Communion. Even anchorites and hermits craved for nothing so much as to be given the possibility to receive Holy Communion. St. Mary of Egypt begged St. Zosimas to bring her the Holy Mysteries by the Jordan and commune her. Returning from visiting St. Onuphrius, the Venerable Paphnutius found a humble community of four young ascetics in the desert. When Paphnutius asked them whether and how they received Holy Communion, they replied that an angel of God visited them every Saturday and Sunday and gave them Holy Communion. Paphnutius remained until the following Saturday and was personally convinced. When Saturday dawned the entire community was filled with an indescribable, wonderful fragrance, and while they were at prayer, an angel of God in the form of a handsome young man, as bright as lightning, appeared with the All-pure Mysteries. Paphnutius became frightened and fell to the ground in fear. But they raised him up and brought him to the angel, so that he, along with them, received Communion from the hand of the angel. According to his own testimony, St. Onuphrius received Holy Communion from the hand of an angel, as did many other anchorites and hermits. Therefore, it is completely erroneous to think that solitaries and hermits did not receive Holy Communion. God, Who provided for their bodily nourishment, did not leave them without the life-giving nourishment of the Body and Blood of Christ the Lord.

Contemplate the miraculous multiplying of the bread in the wilderness (Matthew 14:15):
1. How the Lord fed five thousand people with the five blessed loaves;
2. How He is that Living Bread Who alone can miraculously feed my hungry soul, which all the rest of the world together cannot feed.

on the palace and the hut

The house of the wicked shall be overthrown but the hut of the righteous shall flourish (Proverbs 14:11).

The palace of Herod lies in ruins, but the cave of the Child of Bethlehem remains. The crowns of the caesars have been lost, but the bones of the martyrs have been preserved. The palaces of the pagan kings have been transformed into piles of stone and dust, but the caves of the ascetics have grown into most beautiful churches. The golden idols have been scattered into nothing, but the chains of the Apostle Peter are preserved as a holy relic. The powerful Roman Empire is now only a tale of the dead, while the hut of Christianity, the Holy Church, is today the most powerful realm in the world. Where are the Jews, the murderers of God? They are dispersed throughout the world. Where are the powerful Romans? In the grave. Where is the power of bloody Nero? Where is the power of the evil Diocletian and the depraved Maximian? Where is the success of Julian the Apostate? Where are those high towers? They are where the Tower of Babel is—beneath dust and ashes, beneath shame and damnation.

Go about your own city and inquire how many homes of the godless are excavated. How many huts of the righteous have grown into beautiful houses? Brethren, heaven and earth are founded on justice, on God’s steadfast justice. That is why all the pagan creations are like arrogant bubbles, which burst and are trampled on by passers-by. The palaces of the pharaohs and the Babylonians are like trampled bubbles, while the tent of the righteous Abraham flourishes and blossoms in eternity. O my brethren, how all-powerful and long lasting is justice, and how noisy and transient is injustice, like a storm on a summer’s day!

O Righteous Lord, how magnificent and consistent Thou art in the exercise of Thy justice!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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