Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, October 22, 2017

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 WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017

TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: HOLY FATHERS OF THE SEVENTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL; HOLY APOSTLE JAMES, SON OF ALPHAEUS; SAINT STEPHEN THE BLIND, DESPOT OF SERBIA

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE THREE: Let the heavens rejoice!  Let the earth be glad!  For the Lord has shown strength with His arm!  He has trampled down death by death!  He has become the first-born of the dead!  He has delivered us from the depths of hell, and has granted the world great mercy!

TROPARION TO THE FATHERS OF THE ECUMENICAL COUNCILS - TONE EIGHT: You are most glorious, O Christ our God.  You have established the Holy Fathers as lights on the earth.  Through them You have guided us to the true faith.  O greatly Compassionate One, glory to You!

TROPARION TO THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES ALPHAEUS – TONE THREE: O Holy Apostle James, entreat the merciful God to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

TROPARION TO ST. STEPHEN THE BLIND OF SERBIA – TONE FOUR: The memory of Stephen the Later is a spring of mercy; it is in full blossom as we glorify the One who has glorified him.  All who honor this feast are invited to offer gratitude to God, who has preserved the saint’s body uncorrupted in the tomb, inspiring with awe through numerous miracles.  As he loves his country the saint prays to God for his people and intercedes for all those who honor his memory.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE THREE: On this day Thou didst arise from the tomb, O Merciful One, leading us from the gates of death.  On this day Adam exults as Eve rejoices; with the prophets and the patriarchs they unceasingly praise the divine majesty of Thy power!

KONTAKION TO THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES ALPHAEUS – TONE TWO: Let us bless James, praising him as the messenger of God, for he filled the souls of the pious with wise dogmas.  Standing at the throne of glory before the Master, he rejoices with all the angels unceasingly praying for us all.

KONTAKION TO THE FATHERS OF THE ECUMENICAL COUNCILS - TONE EIGHT: The apostles’ preaching and the fathers’ doctrines have established one faith for the Church.  Adorned with the robe of truth, woven from heavenly theology, it defines and glorifies the great mystery of piety.

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 READINGS

THE PROKEIMENON IN TONE FOUR:
Blessed are You, O Lord God of our Fathers and praised and glorified is Your Name forever.

TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: GALATIANS 1: 11-19:  Brethren, I make known to you that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.  For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.  And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and remained with him fifteen days.  But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.

FATHERS OF THE SEVENTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL – HEBREWS 13:7-16:  Brethren, remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.  For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.  We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 

THE ALLELUIA VERSES:
The God of gods, the Lord, has spoken and He has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Gather together unto Him His holy ones who have established His covenant upon sacrifices.

GOSPEL READINGS

TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: LUKE 7: 11-16:  At that time, Jesus went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.  And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow.  And a large crowd from the city was with her.  When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still.  And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”  So he who was dead sat up and began to speak.  And He presented him to his mother.  Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us” and, “God has visited His people.”

FATHERS OF THE SEVENTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL – JOHN 17: 1-13:  At that time, Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I have glorified You on the earth.  I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had before the world was.  I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.  They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.  Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.  For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.  I pray for them.  I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.  And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.  Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You.  Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name.  Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”    

FROM THE PROLOGUE:
OCTOBER 9/22, BY SAINT NIKOLAI VELIMIROVIC:

The Holy Apostle James
James, the son of Alphaeus, was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was the blood-brother of the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. He was a witness of the true words and miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and a witness of His suffering, Resurrection and Ascension. After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the lot fell to James to preach the Gospel of Christ in Eleutheropolis and the surrounding areas, and then in Egypt, where he suffered for his Savior. With great power in word and in deed, James disseminated the saving news of the incarnate Word of God, destroying idolatry, driving demons out of men, and healing every infirmity and disease in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. His labor and zeal were crowned with great success. Many pagans came to believe in Christ, churches were built and organized, and priests and bishops were ordained. James suffered in the Egyptian town of Ostracina, being crucified by the pagans. Thus, this great and wonderful apostle of Christ took up his abode in the Heavenly Kingdom, to reign eternally with the King of Glory.

The Venerable Andronicus and his wife Athanasia
Andronicus was a citizen of Antioch during the reign of Theodosius the Great. Andronicus was a goldsmith by trade. He and his wife were very devout, continually striving to follow the way of the Lord. He gave a third of his income to the poor, another third to the church, and supported his family with the last third. After two children were born to them, they agreed to live as brother and sister. However, according to God’s unfathomable providence, both of their children died on the same day, and they were in great sorrow. Then the holy martyr Julian appeared to Athanasia at the children’s grave, and comforted her with the tidings that her children were in the Kingdom of God, and were better off there than with their parents on earth. Andronicus and Athanasia left everything and went to Egypt and received the monastic tonsure—St. Andronicus with the elder Daniel at Scetis; and Athanasia in the convent in Tabennisi. Pleasing God by their long years of asceticism, they at last went to the Eternal Kingdom of Christ. St. Athanasia reposed first, and eight days later, St. Andronicus.

The Righteous Abraham and Lot
Their lives can be read in the Book of Genesis.

Saint Demetrius, Patriarch of Alexandria
Demetrius was the eleventh Bishop of Alexandria after St. Mark the Evangelist. He governed his flock long and wisely, from 189 to 231. During this time, he received a request from India and sent St. Pantaenus, the director of the famous catechetical school in Alexandria, to India to preach the Gospel. It was in India that Pantaenus found the Gospel written by St. Matthew in Aramaic.

Saint Stefan, Despot of Serbia
Stefan was the son of the Despot George and Queen Irene. He and his sister Mara lived at the court of Sultan Murat II for a time. He was blinded at Jedrene together with his brother Grgur. He received authority as Despot over Serbia in 1458. Soon after that, he had to flee his country to Albania where he married Angelina, the daughter of Skenderbeg. Blind and unfortunate but always devoted to God, Stefan entered into rest in Italy in the year 1468. His relics repose in the Monastery of Krušedol, founded by his son St. Maxim.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Apostle James
Sent by the Lord, and obedient to Him,
The all-glorious Apostle James labored,
Sowing the Gospel seed everywhere,
So that from it would arise men faithful to Christ.
Throughout Syria and Egypt
He diligently poured forth the heavenly honey,
The sweet, healing words of Christ,
And fed hungry men with this wondrous golden food.
Wherever James traveled, he left a wonder:
Spiritual vessels full and overflowing with honey,
Inexhaustible, life-creating honey:
Holy churches, full of pure, sweet richness.
In them the eternal Creator is endlessly praised,
As are the wondrous works of the Son of God.
Christ is that honey given to the faithful,
A life-creating manna of bread and wine.
James completed his journey with a mark of red—
His martyric blood, which poured down from the cross—
And he gained a wreath from Christ, in heaven,
As have the other of God’s apostles.

REFLECTION
How God both punishes and shows mercy is clearly shown to us from the lives of the last of the Serbian Despots during the Turkish conquest of the Serbian lands. The Turks did not come to the Balkans by their own power to enslave Christian peoples (Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs) but by God’s permission, in the same way that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took the Hebrews into slavery, not by his own power but rather by God’s permission. Because of the sins of their princes and nobles, the Serbian people suffered bitterly; and the princes and nobles themselves suffered even more bitterly. Despot George died as an exile; two of his sons, Grgur and Stefan, were blinded by the Turks; his daughter was forced to become the wife of a sultan; his middle son rose up against his own mother, Irene, and brother Grgur, and seized the shaky throne of Smederevo by force, only to die soon thereafter. As soon as he became despot, the blind Stefan had to flee to Albania, then to Italy where, as an exile and an unfortunate, he reposed. All of this is God’s punishment. Yet where is His mercy? God glorified both Stefan and his wife Angelina and their children Maxim and John. After eight years of lying in the grave, Stefan’s body was exhumed and found to be intact, and exuded a sweet, heavenly fragrance. Many miracles were manifested from his holy relics. God graced his wife and his children in the same manner, glorifying and sanctifying them.

HOMILY
on how only the foolish deny God

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt. They have done abominable works (Psalm 14:1).

The mind is the rudder of man’s entire being. It counsels, persuades and guides. Both the soul and the body act according to the mind. If the mind is upright before God, then the whole man is upright. If the mind is iniquitous before God, the whole man is iniquitous. Even if someone merely thinks, “There is no God,” the thought immediately manifests itself in his deeds. Evil thoughts come first and evil deeds inevitably follow. Do you see how well the inspired prophet knows the nature of man? First, he underlines the cause, then he cites the consequences. Evil deeds necessarily proceed from evil thoughts. That is why, brethren, you should not believe those who say: “I do not believe in God, but I do good deeds.” First of all, he who does not believe in God does not know what good is, nor can he differentiate good from evil. By his disbelief, a man cuts himself off from the greatest Good and the Source of every good! Furthermore, let us carefully study this: you will see that all the deeds of the ungodly are corrupt and hateful. They are corrupt because they are evil, worthless and transitory; they are hateful, because they are contrary to the will of the Living God. The godless cannot distinguish good from evil, for only in the light of God’s law can one determine precisely what is good and what is evil. However, it can also be that those who merely say they believe in God do corrupt and hateful deeds, acknowledging God with their lips but denying Him in deeds. It is good to confess God with your lips, but that is a long way from being enough! One must also acknowledge Him with the heart, and confirm one’s faith by good deeds. Even so, it does happen that a man believes in his heart, and confesses with his lips, and still sins. This happens either from the weakness of the will or from the devil’s arrows. Let such a one repent, and he will be forgiven immediately. Repentance is salvific even for the godless; how much more so for a believer? As long as a man is on earth, he has a chance for repentance. But who can be certain that his time will extend beyond this night? Hence, delaying repentance is utter foolishness.

O most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; help us to repent as Thou dost help us to breathe.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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