Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, July 12, 2015

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THE CANONIZATION OF STS. SEBASTIAN AND MARDARIJE 

Save the Date!  SEPTEMBER 4, 5, 6, 2015!  Labor Day Weekend!
19th Annual Diocesan Days Gathering

HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH IRINEJ
HAS BEEN INVITED AND WILL ATTEND

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LETTER OF INVITATION FROM HIS GRACE BISHOP MAXIM


WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, July 12, 2015

6th Sunday after Pentecost:
The Holy, Glorious, and All-praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FIVE: Let us, the faithful, praise and worship the Word, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit; born for our salvation from the Virgin.  For He willed to be lifted up on the Cross in the flesh, to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

TROPARION TO SAINTS PETER AND PAUL - TONE FOUR: First-enthroned of the apostles, teachers of the universe: Entreat the Master of all to grant peace to the world, and to our souls great mercy!

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE FIVE: You descended into hell, O my Savior, shattering its gates as Almighty; resurrecting the dead as Creator, and destroying the sting of death.  You have delivered Adam from the curse, O Lover of Mankind, and we all cry to You: O Lord, save us!

KONTAKION TO SAINTS PETER ADN PAUL - TONE TWO: O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest and to the enjoyment of Your blessings the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles, for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

ANOTHER KONTAKION TO SAINTS PETER ADN PAUL - TONE TWO: Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor the rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles, together with Paul and the company of the twelve, whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith, giving glory to the One who gave glory to them!

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 5th Tone: You, O Lord, shall protect us and preserve us from this generation forever!

6th after Pentecost: Romans 12: 6-14
Brethren, having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:  if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil.  Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Saints Peter and Paul: 2 Corinthians 11: 21 – 12: 9
Brethren, to our shame I say that we were too weak for that!  But in whatever anyone is bold - I speak foolishly - I am bold also.  Are they Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  Are they the seed of Abraham?  So am I.  Are they ministers of Christ?  I speak as a fool - I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak?  Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?  If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.  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:
I will sing of Thy mercies, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Thy truth from generation to generation. Thou hast said: Mercy will be established forever, and My truth will be prepared in the heavens.

GOSPEL READING

6th after Pentecost: Matthew 9: 1-8
At that time, Jesus got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.  Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” - then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”  And he arose and departed to his house.  Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Saints Peter and Paul: Matthew 16: 13-19
At that time, when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”  So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for June 29/July 12 by
St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Apostle Peter
Peter was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew the First-called. He was of the tribe of Simeon, from the town of Bethsaida. He was a fisherman and was at first called Simon, but the Lord was pleased to call him Cephas, or Peter (John 1:42). He was the first of the disciples to clearly express faith in the Lord Jesus, saying: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). His love for the Lord was great, and his faith in the Lord became gradually stronger. When the Lord was brought to trial, Peter denied Him three times; but after only one glance into the face of the Lord, Peter’s soul was filled with shame and repentance. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter showed himself to be a fearless and powerful preacher of the Gospel. Following one of his sermons in Jerusalem, three thousand souls were converted to the Faith. He preached the Gospel in Palestine, Asia Minor, Illyria and Italy. Peter worked many powerful miracles: he healed the sick and resurrected the dead, and the sick were healed even from his shadow. He had a great struggle with Simon the Magician, who proclaimed himself to be a god, but who was in reality a servant of Satan. Peter finally shamed and defeated him. By order of Simon’s friend, the evil Emperor Nero, Peter was condemned to death. Having consecrated Linus Bishop of Rome, and having counseled and comforted the flock of Christ, Peter proceeded joyfully to his death. Seeing the cross before him, he begged his executioners to crucify him upside down, for he considered himself unworthy to die as had his Lord. Thus, this great servant of the Great Lord reposed and received a wreath of eternal glory.

The Holy Apostle Paul
Paul was born in Tarsus and was of the tribe of Benjamin. At first he was called Saul. He studied under Gamaliel, and was a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christianity. He was miraculously converted to the Christian Faith by the Lord Himself, Who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. He was baptized by the Apostle Ananias, named Paul and numbered in the service of the Great Apostles. With fiery zeal Paul preached the Gospel everywhere, from the borders of Arabia to Spain, among the Jews and among the Gentiles, and received the title “the Apostle to the Gentiles.” As horrible as his sufferings were, so much greater was his superhuman patience. Throughout all the years of his preaching, Paul hung from day to day as on a weak thread between life and death. Having filled all his days and nights with labor and suffering for Christ, having organized the Church in many places, and having attained such a degree of perfection, he was able to say: not I, but Christ liveth in me (Galatians 2:20). Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero, at the same time as the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saints Peter and Paul
Unlearned and learned, but equal in spirit,
And as strong as angels in the love of God,
Peter a simple man, Paul educated,
Both were illumined by the grace of the Spirit.

Two flaming candles, unquenchable candles,
Towering and beautiful, two brilliant stars.

They traversed the earth and spread the light.

Nothing did they take, but to men they gave all;
They were utterly poor, but enriched the world;
They were prisoners and servants, but conquered the whole world.

With the teaching of Christ they enriched the world;
With new weapons they conquered the whole world:
With humility and peace and blessed meekness,
With prayer and fasting and powerful mercy.

When their stormy day passed into stormy night,
Bloodthirsty Nero cut short their lives.

But when Nero, the ruler of the world, issued a command,
Giving Peter and Paul over to suffering,
The world was theirs and no longer Nero’s;
By death the apostles gained the Kingdom.

REFLECTION
Simon Peter and Simon the Magician. The enemies of Christianity frequently like to cite examples of great miracle-workers among the pagans in order to deceive the gullible, denigrate the Christian Faith and exalt paganism, sorcery, soothsaying, satanism and every other charlatanism. There is no doubt that Satan through his servants also attempts to perform miracles, but none the miracles of his servants proceed from love for man, compassion, mercy or faith in God, but rather from pride, selfishness, vanity and hatred for mankind. A Christian should learn from the story of the apostles to differentiate divine miracles from satanic deceits and fantasies. Only let him recall the Apostle Peter and Simon the Magician. Let him compare the miracles of Peter with the so-called miracles of Simon. The apostle converted the stony hearts of men into noble hearts, he cured the sick, and he raised the dead—and all of this by prayer and faith in the Living God. However, Simon the Magician amazed the people with diabolical illusions. The Apostle Peter was a friend of God, and Simon the Magician was a friend and protégé of the perverted Emperor Nero, who ended his life by suicide. The miracles of the pagan fakirs belong to the same category as the illusions and deceits of Simon the Magician. Just as from a distance hot sand resembles water, so also the “miracles” of the fakirs resemble the life-creating miracles of Christianity.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous healing of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46):
1. How Bartimaeus begged the Lord: “Have mercy on me!”
2. How the Lord said, “See!” and he saw;
3. How, if I pray, the word of the Lord can also give sight to my blinded soul.

HOMILY on the fear of God
Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear  (I Peter 1:17).
These are the words of the great Apostle Peter, words that have a dual foundation: heavenly inspiration and personal experience. By divine inspiration, the simple fisherman Peter became a teacher of the people, a pillar of the Faith and a powerful miracle-worker. Through his own experience, he learned that all of his wisdom and power was of God and that one should thus possess the fear of God: no other fear but the fear of God.
The fool becomes frightened only when lightning flashes and thunder cracks, but the wise man fears God every day and every hour. The Creator of lightning and thunder is more awesome than both of them, and He does not appear before you from time to time as do lightning and thunder, but He is continually before you and does not leave you. That is why it is not enough to have fear of God from time to time, but one must breathe the fear of God. The fear of God is the fresh ozone in the suffocating atmosphere of our soul. This ozone brings purity, lightness, sweet fragrance and health. Until he had become strengthened in the fear of God, Peter was only Peter and not an apostle, a hero, a teacher of the people, and a miracle-worker.
O my brethren, let us not rejoice before the harvest. This life of ours is not the harvest, but a time of sowing and labor and sweat and fear. The sower lives in fear until he has gathered the fruits from the field. Let us also delay our rejoicing until the day of harvest, for now is the time for labor and fear. Will I be saved? This question should torment every one of us in the same way that the sower is tormented by the question: Will I reap the fruit of my labor in the field? The sower labors and fears every day. Let us also labor and fear “all the time of our sojourning” on earth.
O awesome and powerful Lord, sustain us in Thy fear.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Sts Sebastian and Mardarije 3

Holy Missionaries SEBASTIAN of San Francisco and Jackson, and MARDARIJE of Chicago and Libertyville, Newly Proclaimed Saints of the Orthodox Church 

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 STS. MARARDIJE AND SEBASTIAN
Celebrating Two New American Saints


Dear Reverend Fathers and Council Members,


With this letter I want to share with you the most God-pleasing and most important news of the establishment of new feast days in the Calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session on May 29, 2015, added the names of Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville, and Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovich) of San Francisco and Jackson, clergymen and preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries, to the Dyptich of Saints (Calendar of Saints) of the Orthodox Church. Glory to God! Once again, through the lives of these two saints, we see our Orthodox Church as a faith that produces holy persons, “enriches the world with saints” and insists on an ethos of holiness.

This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world. When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries. The feast of Holy Hierarch Mardarije will be celebrated on November 29/December 12, while that of the Venerable Sebastian will be celebrated on November 17/30.

The Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America plans to celebrate their public and liturgical glorification at St Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, California, on September 5, 2015.

The Serbian Patriarch, His Holiness Irinej, HAS BEEN INVITED AND WILL ATTEND. His Holiness will lead the liturgical festivities, accompanied by the ruling hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in the USA, along with many civil dignitaries and special invited guests.

The program for the festivities can be found here: http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/canonization

With this official invitation we ask you for your presence at a most unique event celebrating these new Serbian American Saints, commemorating the lives of Holy Enlighteners and Apostles of the Church in America.

Please put this date in your calendar in order to be with us on this solemn and important day.

Please let us know if there is anything you need to announce this joyous news to your Community.

With love and esteem in Christ,

Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Western American Diocese

 

 

Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, July 5, 2015

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THE CANONIZATION OF STS. MARDARIJE AND SEBASTIAN  

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, July 5, 2015
Apostles’ Fast

5th Sunday after Pentecost: The Holy Hieromartyr Eusebius; Venerable Anastasia of Serbia

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

TROPARION TO THE HIEROMARTYR EUSEBIUS - TONE FOUR:  By sharing in the ways of the Apostles, you became a successor to their throne.  Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, O inspired one of God; by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith, even to the shedding of your blood.  Hieromartyr Eusebius, entreat Christ God to save our souls. 

TROPARION TO VENERABLE ANASTASIA OF SERBIA – TONE FOUR: Rich with virtues, adorned with humility and piety, you shined with the purity of your life.  Therefore, God bestowed upon you a blessing in your giving birth to the Enlightener of your people.  Hence, we proclaim unto you: Rejoice, O Venerable Mother Anastasia.

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

KONTAKION TO THE HIEROMARTYR HIEROMARTYR EUSEBIUS - TONE FOUR: You lived piously as a bishop, and trod the path of martyrdom.  You extinguished idolatrous burnt offerings, Hierarch Eusebius.  Since you have boldness before Christ God, entreat Him that our souls may be saved!

KONTAKION TO VENERABLE ANASTASIA OF SERBIA – TONE FOUR: Having lived in honorable marriage, you have preserved purity, teaching your children with meekness that they should love Christ above all; standing now before Him and praying, remember also us who are calling to you: Rejoice, O Venerable Mother Anastasia.

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 4th Tone: O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.  

5th after Pentecost: Romans 10: 1-10 
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.  For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”  But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “’Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  But what does it say?  “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The Alleluia Verses: 
Go forth and prosper and reign, because of truth and meekness and righteousness.  You love righteousness and hate iniquity.

GOSPEL READING

5th after Pentecost: Matthew 8: 28 – 9: 1
At that time, when Jesus had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.  And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God?  Have You come here to torment us before the time?”  Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.  So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”  And He said to them, “Go.”  So when they had come out they went into the herd of swine.  And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.  And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.  So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.

SPIRITUAL ARTICLES

From The Prologue for June 22/July 5 by
St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Hieromartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata
Eusebius was a great denouncer of Arianism. When the throne of Antioch became vacant, Meletius was elected patriarch at the insistence of Eusebius. Meletius was a great beacon of the Church, who, after his death, was found worthy of great praise by St. John Chrysostom. However, the Arians quickly banished Meletius from Antioch. When Constantine’s pernicious son Constantius died, another much worse than he was crowned—Julian the Apostate. During Julian’s persecution of Christians, St. Eusebius removed his clerical attire, donned a soldier’s uniform and, under the guise of a soldier, visited the persecuted Church throughout Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, strengthening the Orthodox Faith everywhere and ordaining the necessary priests, deacons and other clergy and, in some places, bishops. Following the turbulent death of Julian, St. Eusebius counseled Meletius to convene a council in Antioch in 361, at which twenty-seven hierarchs were present. The Arian heresy was condemned once more and the Faith of Orthodoxy was proclaimed in the same manner as it had been expressed at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325]. Along with Meletius and Eusebius, St. Pelagius of Laodicea, a well known, chaste and ascetic man, made a great impact at the Council of Antioch. This council was held during the reign of the pious Emperor Jovian. However, Emperor Jovian soon died and the wicked Valens was crowned, and a persecution of Orthodoxy again ensued. St. Meletius was exiled to Armenia, Eusebius to Thrace, and Pelagius to Arabia. After Valens, Gratian was crowned emperor, and he granted freedom to the Church and recalled the exiled hierarchs to their sees. Thus they returned: Meletius to Antioch, Eusebius to Samosata, and Pelagius to Laodicea. At that time many dioceses and parishes were vacant, and Eusebius zealously hastened to find canonical shepherds for the people. When he came to the town of Doliche to enthrone the newly elected bishop, Marinus, and to denounce the Arian heresy (which was strong in that town), a fanatical heretic hurled a ceramic tile at Eusebius’s head and mortally wounded him. Thus this great zealot, saint and martyr of Orthodoxy reposed, to live eternally in the blessedness of Paradise. He suffered in the year 379.

The Holy Martyrs Zeno and Zenas
Zeno was a Roman officer in the Arabian town of Philadelphia, and Zenas was his servant. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Emperor Maximian, St. Zeno boldly appeared before the commander Maximus, confessed his faith in the One Living God, and counseled Maximus to renounce lifeless idols and embrace the only true Faith. The commander became enraged and cast Zeno into prison. When the faithful Zenas visited his master in prison, he was also seized and arrested. Both of them were tortured for Christ and finally thrown into a fire into which the pagans had poured oil. Their souls were crowned with wreaths in the Kingdom of Christ, and their bodily remains were interred in the Church of St. George at a place called Cyparisson.

HYMN OF PRAISE:
Saints Eusebius, Meletius and Pelagius

The Church is never without shepherds,
Nor without suffering, nor without heroes.

When the sharp sword flashed in Goliath-like manner,
The shepherd of Samosata offered resistance.

Eusebius and with him Meletius,
Like two stars—and the third, Pelagius—
Zealots of Holy Orthodoxy,
Glorious saints of God’s Church.

At that time there was suffering for Christians, 
Bitter suffering from both sides.

On one side, the wild heretics;
On the other side, the insane emperors.

It was difficult to preserve one’s soul,
And to uphold the truth of God
Against lies and against violence.

Amidst the tares was a little sweet basil,
A little immortelle, a little feather grass.

Three hierarchs—three fragrant flowers:
Enough honey for all the poison of the world.

Eusebius began as a zealot
And ended his life as a martyr.

O Eusebius, thou high priest,
Bless us, O God-pleaser!

REFLECTION
Why does the good Lord permit assaults and trials to fall on the true Faith, while He permits the pleasure of tranquility to heresies and paganism? “Why?” St. John Chrysostom asks and immediately replies: “So that you might recognize their weakness (i.e., of heresies and paganism)—when you see that they disintegrate on their own without any disturbance—and also be convinced of the power of the Faith that endures misfortunes and even multiplies through its adversaries.” … “Therefore, if we quarrel with the pagans or with the slanderous Jews, it is sufficient to emphasize, as evidence of divine power, that the Faith (Christianity), which was subjected to countless struggles, maintained victory,” even when the entire world stood against her. St. Isaac the Syrian says: “The wondrous love of God toward man is recognized when man is in misfortunes that are destroying his hope. Here God manifests His power for man’s salvation. For man never recognizes the power of God in tranquility and freedom.”


CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the miraculous dumbness of Zacharias the High Priest (Luke 1:20):
1. How Zacharias did not believe the angel of God that the aged womb of his wife could conceive and give birth, and how he was struck dumb because of this, in accordance with the words of the angel;
2. How I too am as though struck dumb when I cannot sufficiently speak about God’s miracles because my faith is small.

HOMILY on how the slothful man excuses himself
The slothful man says: A lion is outside (Proverbs 22:13).
In order to justify his slothfulness, the slothful man emphasizes the difficulties and obstacles of a certain task and magnifies them beyond measure. If a man annoys him, he will say that the entire village annoys him; if the leaves rustle, he will claim that he is unable to go to work because of a storm; if a rabbit is in front of his house, he will say it is a lion! He says this in order to avoid leaving his house, and to delay his work.

Slothfulness is completely contrary to the nature of man. The nature of man is activity; the nature of man seeks to be occupied, to work and to build. Slothfulness is a sure sign of the distortion of nature in a man. That slothfulness is a terrible vice is clear in that the active man is never envious of the slothful man, while the slothful man is envious of the active man; in the same manner, the sober man is not envious of the drunkard, while the drunkard is envious of the sober man.

O Lord, ever-active Creator, save us from the dull and sinful slothfulness by which we distance ourselves from our first-created nature, from Thine image and likeness, O Master of all things! Inspire us with Thy Holy Spirit, ever active and joy-creating.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

From the Synaxarion
The daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV (1168-91), St. Anna was given in marriage to the Great Zhupan of Serbia St. Stefan Nemanja (commemorated February 13), by whom she had three sons: Vukan, Stefan and Rastko—the future St. Sava (commemorated January 14). When her husband became a monk under the name of Symeon, she took the veil in a monastery that she had founded on the right bank of the river Toplitsa, and received the name: Anastasia. Having lived there in devotion and holiness, she entered into rest in peace on the 21st of June, 1200. Her relics are venerated in the Monastery of Studenica. – Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra.

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Holy Missionaries MARDARIJE of Libertyville and SEBASTIAN of Jackson, Newly Proclaimed Saints of the Orthodox Church 

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 STS. MARARDIJE AND SEBASTIAN
Celebrating Two New American Saints


Dear Reverend Fathers and Council Members,


With this letter I want to share with you the most God-pleasing and most important news of the establishment of new feast days in the Calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session on May 29, 2015, added the names of Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville, and Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovich) of San Francisco and Jackson, clergymen and preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries, to the Dyptich of Saints (Calendar of Saints) of the Orthodox Church. Glory to God! Once again, through the lives of these two saints, we see our Orthodox Church as a faith that produces holy persons, “enriches the world with saints” and insists on an ethos of holiness.

This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world. When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries. The feast of Holy Hierarch Mardarije will be celebrated on November 29/December 12, while that of the Venerable Sebastian will be celebrated on November 17/30.

The Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America plans to celebrate their public and liturgical glorification at St Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, California, on September 5, 2015.

The Serbian Patriarch, His Holiness Irinej, is invited to lead the liturgical festivities, accompanied by the ruling hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in the USA, along with many civil dignitaries and special invited guests.

The program for the festivities can be found here: http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/canonization

With this official invitation we ask you for your presence at a most unique event celebrating these new Serbian American Saints, commemorating the lives of Holy Enlighteners and Apostles of the Church in America.

Please put this date in your calendar in order to be with us on this solemn and important day.

Please let us know if there is anything you need to announce this joyous news to your Community.

With love and esteem in Christ,

Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Western American Diocese

 

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