Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, September 21, 2014

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN


September 21, 2014

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Sunday before the Exaltation of the Life-giving Cross; The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SIX:

The angelic powers were at Thy tomb; the guards became as dead men.  Mary stood by Thy grave, seeking Thy most pure Body.  Thou didst capture hell, not being tempted by it.  Thou didst come to the Virgin, granting life.  O Lord who rose from the dead: Glory to Thee!

THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS TROPARION - TONE FOUR:

Your nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from you, O Mother of God! By annulling the curse He has bestowed a blessing; by destroying death He has granted us eternal life.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE SIX:

When Christ God, the Giver of Life, raised all of the dead from the valleys of misery with His mighty hand, He bestowed resurrection on the human race. He is the Savior of all, the Resurrection, the Life, and God of all.

THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS KONTAKION - TONE FOUR:

By your nativity, O Most-pure Virgin, Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness, and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you: The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the Nourisher of our life!

HYMN TO THE THEOTOKOS  (REPLACES “IT IS TRULY MEET”):

Magnify, O my soul, the Virgin Mary, born of a barren womb.  Virginity is foreign to mothers; childbearing is strange for virgins. But in you, O Theotokos, both were accomplished! For this, all the earthly nations unceasingly magnify you!


EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 6th Tone:       

O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance.

Sunday before the Cross: Galatians 6: 11-18 

Brethren, see with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

15th Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Corinthians 4: 6-15  

Brethren, for it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So then death is working in us, but life in you.  And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.  For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

The Nativity of the Theotokos: Philippians 2: 5-11

Brethren, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Alleluia Verses: 

I have raised up one chosen out of My people; with My holy oil have I anointed him.  For My hand shall be unto him an ally, and Mine arm shall strengthen him.


GOSPEL READING

Sunday before the Cross: John 3: 13-17  

Jesus said, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." 

15th Sunday after Pentecost: Matthew 22: 35-46     

At that time, a certain lawyer asked Jesus a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is He?”  They said to Him, “The Son of David.”  He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’  If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”  And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on, did anyone dare question Him anymore. 

The Nativity of the Theotokos:
Luke 10: 38-42; 11: 27-28


At that time, it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”   And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”  But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for September 8/21 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Nativity of the Most-holy Theotokos

 The Holy Virgin Mary was born of aged parents, Joachim and Anna. Her father was of the lineage of David, and her mother of the lineage of Aaron. Thus, she was of royal birth by her father, and of priestly birth by her mother. In this, she foreshadowed Him Who would be born of her as King and High Priest. Her parents were quite old and had no children. Because of this they were ashamed before men and humble before God. In their humility they prayed to God with tears, to bring them joy in their old age by giving them a child, as He had once given joy to the aged Abraham and his wife Sarah by giving them Isaac. The Almighty and All-seeing God rewarded them with a joy that surpassed all their expectations and all their most beautiful dreams. For He gave them not just a daughter, but the Mother of God. He illumined them not only with temporal joy, but with eternal joy as well. God gave them just one daughter, and she would later give them just one grandson—but what a daughter and what a Grandson! Mary, Full of grace, Blessed among women, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Altar of the Living God, the Table of the Heavenly Bread, the Ark of God’s Holiness, the Tree of the Sweetest Fruit, the Glory of the race of man, the Praise of womanhood, the Fount of virginity and purity—this was the daughter given by God to Joachim and Anna. She was born in Nazareth, and at the age of three, was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem. In her young womanhood she returned again to Nazareth, and shortly thereafter heard the Annunciation of the Holy Archangel Gabriel concerning the birth of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, from her most-pure virgin body.

The Feast of the Holy Theotokos of Kališto

 In the Monastery of the Holy Theotokos near the village of Kališto, west of Struga in Macedonia, the Holy Mother of God manifested her power and mercy through numerous miracles. Many of the sick were miraculously healed, and thieves who thought to plunder or desecrate the monastery were severely punished by an invisible power. There is a miracle-working icon of the Holy Theotokos in the church there; nearby, there are two springs of healing water: that of St. Peter and that of St. Ananias. The Chapel of St. Athanasius is located in a cave not far from the main church.

The Feast of the Icon of the Holy Theotokos of Pochaev

In the province of Volhynia there is a famous Monastery of the Holy Theotokos, in Pochaev. The Holy Mother of God first appeared in about 1340 to one of two monks who were laboring in asceticism in a cave there. From that time on, the place has been an inexhaustible font of numerous miracles.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Nativity of the Most-holy Mother of God

O greatly desired and long awaited one,
O Virgin, thou hast been obtained from the Lord with tears!

A bodily temple of the Most-holy Spirit shalt thou become,
And shalt be called Mother of the Eternal Word.

The Burning Bush they called thee,
For thou wilt receive within thyself the divine fire:

Ablaze with fire but not consumed,
Thou shalt bear the Golden Fruit and offer it to the world.

Thou shalt be the Bearer of Him Who bears the heavens,
To Whom all of heaven offers up praise!

The Miracle of miracles shall come to pass within thee,
For thou shalt bear heaven, thou who art “more spacious than the heavens!”

Thou art more precious to us, O Virgin, than precious stones,
For thou art the source of salvation for mankind.

For this, may the entire universe glorify thee,
O Most-holy Virgin, O white Turtledove!

The King of Heaven shall desire to enter the world,
And shall pass through thee, O Beautiful Gate!

O Virgin, when thou dost become woman thou shalt bear Christ for us;
From thy body, the Sun shall blaze forth.

REFLECTION

 St. Dionysius the Areopagite writes of the immeasurable joy, the outer and inner radiance, and the indescribable fragrance that he sensed in the presence of the Holy Theotokos when he visited her in Jerusalem. In his zeal, he says that if he had not known the One True God, he would have recognized her, the Holy Virgin Mary, as God. The Holy Virgin made such a powerful and unique impression on men during her earthly life—and she received an incomparably greater power and glory after her physical death when, by the will of God, she was exalted above the heavenly hosts. Her power comes from her ceaseless prayer for the faithful, for all those who turn to her for help. When St. John of Novgorod and his people prayed to her for help against a hostile army, he understood that she was simultaneously praying to the Lord with tears in their behalf, and Novgorod was miraculously saved. As she was compassionate toward her crucified Son, so the Holy Most-pure One is also compassionate toward all those in need, and who turn to her for help. It could be said that the entire earth is covered by the miracles of her mercy. Even today, there lives in Belgrade a café owner (C. J.), who was born in the village of Labunište (Macedonia) outside Struga. His mother brought him blind to the Monastery of Kališto, where, after the priest prayed over him before the icon of the Holy Theotokos, he received his sight. The first monk at Pochaev saw a fiery pillar extending from earth to heaven, and in that flaming pillar he saw the Holy Theotokos. She was standing on a rock. On the spot where she stood, a spring of healing water sprang forth: even today, it heals many of the sick.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate God’s wonderful gift to Solomon (I Kings 3):

1. How the Lord appeared to Solomon in Gibeon, and asked him his desire;

2. How Solomon asked for an understanding heart, in order to judge the people and recognize good and evil;

3. How God gave him that which he sought, as well as that which he did not seek.

HOMILY
on the equality of the Son and the Father

The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do (John 5:19).

 Brethren, how are we to understand these words? In the same way as some heretics understood them—that is, that the Son is lesser and weaker than the Father? In no way. The mouths that interpreted these words of the Lord this way spoke blasphemy. We must understand these words as our Holy Fathers understood them—that the Son is equal to the Father in all things; and that, because of their equality of will, love, and wisdom, the Son can do nothing contrary to the Father’s will, or contrary to the love of the Father, or contrary to the wisdom of the Father. Thus, the Father cannot do anything contrary to the Son, and the Holy Spirit cannot do anything contrary to the Father or the Son. Everything that the Father wills and loves and thinks, is also willed, loved and thought by the Son and the Holy Spirit. Harmony unequaled; unity undivided; being inexpressible! Therefore, it is obvious that the Son can and will do nothing of Himself—nothing of His own accord, nothing without harmony and unity with the power of the Father and the will of the Father. The Lord Himself further witnesses that this interpretation is true by His words: For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will (John 5:21). Do you see the equality of will and power? That which the Father wills, the Son wills also; that which the Father can do, the Son can also do. Therefore, let no one separate Their Divinity, and thus bring down a curse upon himself. God cannot be divided, and one who tries to divide Divinity—and to lessen one Person and to exalt the other Person—cannot be saved. O Most-holy Trinity our God, Three in Persons, and One in Essence— Life, Light and Love—look down upon us, and have mercy on us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, August 24, 2014

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost; Dormition Fast; Afterfeast of the Transfiguration; Holy Martyr and Archdeacon Euplus


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!

THE TRANSFIGURATION TROPARION - TONE SEVEN:  

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. Let Your everlasting light also shine upon us sinners, through the prayers of the Theotokos.  O Giver of Light, glory to You!

TROPARION TO THE HOLY MARTYR EUPLUS - TONE FOUR:  

Your holy martyr Euplus, O Lord, through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.  For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.  Through his intercessions save our souls.

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 HOLY MARTYR EUPLUS - TONE ONE:

With the love of Christ as your only defense, you stood in the midst of your fight and said: ‘I endure this struggle willingly and with confidence.’  You rejoiced, O Euplus, to offer your head to the sword and so you completed your course.   

THE TRANSFIGURATION KONTAKION - TONE SEVEN:

On the mountain You were transfigured, O Christ God, and Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it; so that when they would behold You crucified, they would understand that Your suffering was voluntary, and would proclaim to the world that You are truly the Radiance of the  Father!

INSTEAD OF "IT IS TRULY MEET...":

Magnify, O my soul, the Lord who was transfigured on Mount Tabor! Your birthgiving was incorruptible! God came from your body and appeared on earth in flesh, dwelling among men. Therefore, we magnify you, O Theotokos!

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 2nd Tone:       

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

11th after Pentecost: 1 Corinthians 9: 2-12  

Brethren, if I am not an apostle to others yet doubtless I am to you.  For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.  My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink?  Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?  Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?  Who ever goes to war at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit?  Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?  Do I say these things as a mere man?  Or does not the law say the same also?  For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.”  Is it oxen God is concerned about?  Or does He say it altogether for our sakes?  For our sakes, no doubt, this is written that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.  If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?  If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?  Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.

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

11th after Pentecost: Matthew 18: 23-35     

At that time Jesus said, “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for August 11/24 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Martyr Euplus

Euplus was a deacon in Catania, Sicily. Emperor Diocletian dispatched the Roman commander, Pentagurus, to Sicily to exterminate any Christians he found there. Pentagurus did not find a single Christian, for the few that were there hid from the persecutor and did not reveal themselves. Even so, someone accused Euplus of taking a book to secret Christians and reading to them. This book was the Holy Gospel. They soon brought him to court, hung that book around his neck, and led him to prison. After seven days of imprisonment and hunger, Euplus was given over to torture. While they were beating him with iron rods, Euplus mockingly said to the torturing judge: “O ignorant one, do you not see that, by God’s grace, these tortures are like a cobweb to me? If you can, find other, harsher tortures, for all of these are as toys.” After more of the same, they led the martyr of Christ to the scaffold. There St. Euplus opened the Holy Gospel and read from it to the people for a long time. Many converted to the Christian Faith. St. Euplus was beheaded in the year 304, and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven. His miracle-working relics repose in a village near Naples, called Vico della Batonia.

The Holy Martyr Susanna the Virgin, and others with her

Susanna was the daughter of the Roman presbyter Gabinus, and the niece of Pope Gaius. Gaius and Gabinus were of royal lineage, and kinsmen to the then-ruling Emperor Diocletian. Emperor Diocletian had an adopted son, Maximian Galerius, whom he wanted to marry Susanna. Susanna, completely dedicated to Christ the Lord, did not even want to consider marriage, and particularly not marriage with an unbaptized man. The aristocrats Claudius and Maximus had been pressuring her to marry the emperor’s son, but Susanna converted them and their entire household to the Christian Faith. Enraged by this, the emperor ordered that the executioners take Claudius, Maximus and their household to Ostia—where they burned them alive and threw their ashes into the sea. Susanna was beheaded in the home of her father Gabinus. The emperor’s wife, Serena, secretly a Christian, removed Susanna’s martyred body under cover of night, and honorably buried it. Pope Gaius converted Gabinus’s house into a church and celebrated services there, since this was the place where the young martyr Susanna was slain. Shortly following the suffering of this bride of Christ, her father Presbyter Gabinus and her uncle Pope Gaius also suffered. Susanna, her father and her uncle suffered honorably for the Lord and received their wreaths of glory, in the years 295 and 296.

Saint Niphon, Patriarch of Constantinople

Niphon was born in Greece. He was tonsured a monk in his youth and lived a life of asceticism, eventually making his way to Mount Athos. He practiced asceticism in various monasteries, remaining the longest in Vatopedi and Dionysiou. He was loved by all the holy Athonite fathers, as much for his rare wisdom as for his unusual meekness. He was consecrated Bishop of Thessalonica against his will, and then, two years later, he journeyed to Constantinople on business, where he was elected to the vacant patriarchal throne. Eventually the Sultan banished him to Jedrene, where he lived in exile. The Wallachian Prince Radul besought him from the Sultan, and made Niphon the archbishop of the Wallachian people. Then, because of Radul’s transgressions, Niphon departed Wallachia and returned to Mount Athos, to the Monastery of Dionysiou. There he lived a life of asceticism until his ninetieth year, when he took up his habitation in the Kingdom of God. He reposed in the year 1460. He composed the “Prayer of Absolution” read at the Burial Service.

The Venerable Basil and Theodore of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves

Both Basil and Theodore died by violence at the hands of the avaricious Prince Istislav, in the year 1098. The hagiography of St. Theodore is especially instructive for the avaricious. Theodore was very wealthy, but distributed all of his wealth to the poor and was tonsured a monk. After that, he repented of his charity and grieved for his wealth, being greatly tempted by the evil spirit of avarice—from which St. Basil freed him.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Susanna the Virgin

A paradisal branch was planted,
And raised on earth.
The branch grew and matured;
Her heart was infused with heaven.
The black earth did not darken her;
The evil of the world did not bend her.
Susanna, who was this paradisal branch,
Was illumined by God’s Spirit.
A bride of Christ God,
She disdained the son of the emperor.
The emperor was angered, and made threats
That he would soon take bitter revenge.
Susanna did not even listen,
Contemplating instead the mind of God.
Her heart was illumined,
And betrothed to Christ.
Her kinsmen were amazed,
And were all baptized in Christ,
And became martyrs.
The emperor raised his bloody hand,
And inflicted suffering on Susanna.
But all suffering is as nothing,
When the soul is strong in faith.
Susanna’s head fell from her,
And her soul arose in Paradise.
In Paradise, Susanna’s pure soul stood before her Christ.

REFLECTION

If a man sets off on the path of righteousness, he should walk only on the path of righteousness, keeping both feet on the path: he should not set one foot on the righteous path and the other on the unrighteous path. For, through the prophet, God spoke thus about the righteous who commit unrighteousness: All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed and in his sins that he has sinned, in them shall he die (Ezekiel 18:24). The Wallachian Prince Radul was a just man, and performed many good deeds. He brought St. Niphon out of his bondage in Jedrene, and made him the Archbishop of Bucharest. Unexpectedly, Radul committed a dreadful transgression: he gave his sister to be the wife of the corrupt Prince Bogdan of Moldavia—while Bogdan’s wife was still living. Radul did not heed the protests of Niphon. Niphon prophesied an evil end for Radul and publicly excommunicated him from the Church; then he departed from Wallachia. Shortly thereafter, there was a drought and a great famine in Wallachia, and Radul fell into an incurable illness, whereby his entire body was covered with sores; and because of his putrefying stench, no one could bear to approach him. When Radul was buried, his grave shook for three days, as once did the grave of Empress Eudoxia, the persecutor of St. John Chrysostom.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the self-will of the Jewish people (I Samuel 8):

1. How the Jews besought Samuel to appoint a king for them;

2. How Samuel protested this in the name of the Lord, Who proclaimed that He is the only King;

3. How the people remained stubborn, rejecting the will of God and the counsel of Samuel.

HOMILY on how ugliness comes with sin

Instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a cincture a rent; and instead of well-set hair baldness … and burning instead of beauty (Isaiah 3:24).

These are words about extravagant and wayward women, about the daughters of Zion who have become haughty and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go and making a tinkling with their feet (Isaiah 3:16). What was it that made the Hebrew women proud? Was it virtue? Virtue never made anyone proud, for virtue is in fact a cure against pride. Was it the strength of a people and the stability of the state? No—on the contrary, the prophet precisely foretells the imminent bondage of the people, and the destruction of the state. And the prophet cites vain extravagance, spiritual vanity, and wayward women as the main causes of slavery and destruction. What, therefore, made them so proud and haughty? Ornaments and embroideries; strung beads and necklaces; trinkets and hairpins; garters and cinctures; perfumes and rings; seductive flutterings and mirrors. Behold, this is what made them proud and haughty! It is all an expression of their ignorant pride, but the true cause of their pride is spiritual perversity. From spiritual vanity comes pride—and that external melange of colors that women drape over their bodies is only an obvious manifestation of their ignorant pride. What will become of all this in the end? Stench, disintegration, baldness and burning. This will occur when the people fall into bondage. As it usually happens, the spirit is enslaved by the body, then the body is enslaved by an external enemy. Thus will be the case when the inescapable conqueror of our bodies, death, comes to us. Sweet smells will not help in the grave—the kingdom of stench. Neither will the naked spine of a skeleton have need of a girdle; nor will braided hair save the skull from baldness; nor will beauty save the black remains from burning. This is the inescapable fate of even the most beautiful, the most healthy, the most wealthy, and the most extravagant women. But this is not the greatest misfortune. The greatest misfortune is that the souls of these women—with their stench, disheveledness, baldness and burning—will come before God and the heavenly hosts of the most beautiful of God’s angels and righteous ones. Here, the stench of the body denotes the stench that depravity and vice leaves in the soul; a disheveled body denotes the insatiability of the soul for bodily pleasures; physical baldness denotes the nakedness of a soul devoid of good works and pure thoughts; and the burning of the body denotes the burning of a tortured conscience and an inflamed mind. Oh, how dreadful is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz. It was dreadful then, and it is dreadful even today—dreadful, because it is true. O Holy and Most-pure Lord, help the women who make the sign of Thy Cross, that they may remember their souls, and cleanse their souls before Thy Righteous Judgment; so that their souls, together with their bodies, do not become eternal stench. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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