Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, December 14, 2014

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday December 14, 2014

Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost; 
The Holy Prophet Nahum; 
Saint Philaret the Merciful
  


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 Thee!

TROPARION TO THE HOLY PROPHET NAHUM - TONE TWO:
We celebrate the memory of Your prophet Nahum, O Lord.  Through him we beseech You: 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 PROPHET NAHUM - TONE FOUR:
Illumined by the Spirit, your heart was a vessel of illustrious prophecy, seeing far off things as though they were present.  Therefore, we venerate you, O glorious prophet Nahum.

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 2nd Tone:
The Lord is my strength and my song.  He has become my salvation.

27th Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 6: 10-17
Brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

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

27th Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 13: 10-17 
At that time Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.  But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her: “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”  And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.  But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd: “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”  The Lord then answered him and said: “Hypocrite!  Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?  So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound - think of it - for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”  And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

SPIRITUAL ARTICLES

From The Prologue for December 1/14 by
St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Prophet Nahum

Nahum was born of the tribe of Simeon in a place called Elkosh on the far side of the Jordan. He lived about seven hundred years before Christ and prophesied the destruction of Nineveh about two hundred years after the Prophet Jonah. Because of Jonah’s preaching, the Ninevites had repented, and God had spared them and not destroyed them. In time, however, they forgot God’s mercy and again became corrupt. The Prophet Nahum prophesied their destruction, and since there was no repentance, God did not spare them. The entire city was destroyed by earthquake, flood and fire, so that its location is no longer known. St. Nahum lived for forty-five years and entered into rest in the Lord, leaving us a small book of his true prophecies.

Saint Philaret the Almsgiver
Philaret was from the village of Amnia in Paphlagonia. Early in life, Philaret was a very wealthy man, but by distributing abundant alms to the poor he himself became extremely poor. However, he was not afraid of poverty, and, not heeding the complaints of his wife and children, he continued his charitable works with hope in God, Who said: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7). Once, while he was plowing in the field, a man came to him and complained that one of his oxen had died in the harness and that he was unable to plow with only one ox. Philaret then unharnessed one of his oxen and gave it to him. He even gave his remaining horse to a man who was summoned to go to war. He gave away the calf of his last cow, and when he saw how the cow pined for her missing calf, and the calf for the cow, he called the man and gave him the cow too. And thus the aged Philaret was left without food in an empty house. But he prayed to God and placed his hope in Him. And God did not abandon the righteous one to be put to shame in his hope. At that time the Empress Irene reigned with her young son, Constantine. According to the custom of that time, the empress sent men throughout the whole empire to seek the best and most distinguished maiden to whom she could wed her son, the emperor. By God’s providence, these men happened to stay overnight in Philaret’s house, and they saw his most beautiful and modest granddaughter Maria, the daughter of his daughter Hypatia, and took her to Constantinople. The emperor was well pleased with her, married her, and moved Philaret and all his family to the capital, giving him great honors and riches. Philaret did not become proud as a result of this unexpected good fortune, but, thankful to God, he continued to perform good works even more than he had before, and thus he continued until his death. At the age of ninety he summoned his children, blessed them, and instructed them to cleave to God and to God’s law, and with his clairvoyant spirit he prophesied to all of them how they would live out this life, as once had Jacob. After that he went to the Rodolfia Monastery and gave up his soul to God. At his death his face shone like the sun, and after his death an unusual, sweet fragrance came forth from his body and miracles took place at his relics. This righteous man entered into rest in the year 797. His wife, Theosevia, and all his children and grandchildren lived a God-pleasing life and reposed in the Lord.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Philaret the Almsgiver
To the merciful one, God shows mercy;

He never ceases to show mercy.
He hears the prayers of the merciful;
He gives gifts a hundredfold.
Philaret the Merciful
Placed himself wholly in God’s hands.
By his compassion, he amazed the world;
He was faithful to God, even in suffering.
Philaret did not compete
For honor or precedence.
We use this age to purchase
The Eternal Kingdom and blessedness.
The Lord spoke a wondrous word:
“Trade until I return!
When the time is right,
I will repay you with great riches.”
When Philaret became impoverished
Because of almsgiving beyond measure,
Because of truth and goodness—
God visited him from on high:
Visited him and bestowed mercy,
Bestowed mercy and rewarded him,
Just as once upon the faithful Job,
He bestowed mercy and a reward.

REFLECTION
Virtue is like a thirst. When a man begins to drink of it, he becomes more thirsty and seeks to drink of it all the more. He who begins to exercise the virtue of compassion knows no measure and acknowledges no limit. St. Philaret was no less generous when he was impoverished than when he was wealthy. When his granddaughter became empress, he became a rich man once again, but no less generous. One day, he told his wife and children to prepare the best feast that they could and said: “Let us invite our King and Lord, with all His noblemen, to come to the feast.” Everyone thought that the old man was thinking of inviting to dinner his son-in-law, the emperor, and they all worked as hard as they could and prepared the feast. Meanwhile, Philaret went around the streets and gathered all the needy, the beggars, the blind, the outcasts, the lame and the infirm, and brought them to the feast. Placing them at the table, he ordered his wife and sons to serve at the table. After the feast was completed, he put a gold coin in the hand of each guest and dismissed them. Then everyone understood that by “the King” he meant the Lord Christ Himself, and by “the noblemen” he meant beggars and those in need. He also said that one need not look at the money that one gives to beggars, but rather one should mix up the money in one’s pocket and give only what the hand removes from the pocket. The hand will draw out whatever God’s providence ordains.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the sinful fall of Adam and Eve 
(Genesis 3):


1. How Eve, when she sinned, did not repent but hurried to make her husband a participant in her sin;

2. How Adam, when he sinned, did not repent but justified himself, blaming his wife before God;

3. How, even today, many sinners seek fellow participants in their sin and justify themselves by blaming others.

HOMILY on the creation of the world
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Brethren, this is God’s answer through the mouth of the prophet, the answer to the question that we all thirst to know: “Whence comes this world?” God hears our question, spoken or unspoken; He hears and gives an answer. Just as He gives rain to the dry earth, just as He gives health to a sick person, just as He gives bread and clothing to the body, so also does He give an answer to our spirit. He gives an answer to the question that has caused it hunger and thirst, pain and nakedness, until it (the spirit) is nourished and quenched, restored to health, and is clothed with the true answer. This is the question: “Whence, therefore, comes this world?” This is the answer: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. This world is not of itself, just as nothing in this world is of itself, neither is this world of an evil power, neither is this world of many creators, good and evil, but rather it is of the one gracious God. This answer evokes joy in the heart of every man and incites him to good works. And by this we know, among other things, that this is the only correct and true answer. Every other answer, in contradiction to this, evokes sorrow and fear in us and incites us to evil works, and therefore we know, among other things, that such answers are false. Brethren, the world is from God—let us rejoice and be glad! The world is of divine origin, and consequently its end will also be in God. The world is of a good root, and consequently it will bring forth good fruit. It proceeded from the chamber of light, and it will end in light. When we know that the beginning is good, then we know that it tends toward good and that the end will be good. Behold, in these words about the beginning, the prophecy about the end is already hidden. As was the beginning, so also will be the end. He from Whom the beginning came, in Him also is the end. Therefore, let us hold fast to this saving truth, that we may have shining hope and be strengthened in love toward the One Who, out of love, created us. O Lord God, our Almighty Creator, One God, One Creator, the good Source of goodness, Thee do we worship, to Thee do we pray; direct us to the good end by Thy Holy Spirit, through the Lord Jesus Christ. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

THE CHRISTIAN
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OF KOSOVO AND
METOHIJA

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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, December 7, 2014

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost; After-feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple; The Holy Great-martyr Catherine of Alexandria


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE ONE:

When the stone had been sealed by the Jews; while the soldiers were guarding Your most pure Body; You arose on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of heaven therefore cried to You, O Giver of Life: Glory to Your Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Your Kingdom! Glory to Your dispensation, O You who loves mankind.

TROPARION TO THE ENTRANCE OF THE THEOTOKOS - TONE FOUR:

Today is the prelude of the good will of God and the announcement of the salvation of mankind.  The Virgin appears in the temple of God, in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.  Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice, O divine fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!

TROPARION TO THE GREAT-MARTYR CATHERINE - TONE FOUR:

By your virtues as by rays of the sun you enlightened the unbelieving philosophers, and like the most-bright moon you drove away the darkness of disbelief from those walking in the night; you convinced the queen and also chastised the tyrant, O God-summoned bride, blessed Catherine.  You hastened with desire to the heavenly bridal chamber of the fairest Bridegroom Christ, and you were crowned by Him with a royal crown; standing before Him with the angels, pray for us who keep your most sacred memory.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE ONE:

As God, You arose from the tomb in glory, raising the world with Yourself. Human nature praises You as God, for death has vanished.  Adam exults, O Master!  Eve rejoices, for she is freed from bondage, and cries to You: You are the giver of resurrection to all, O Christ!

KONTAKION TO THE GREAT-MARTYR CATHERINE - TONE TWO:

Let all of us who love to honor the martyrs form a great choir in praise of the most-wise Catherine, for she preached Christ and trampled the serpent, despising the knowledge of the orators!

KONTAKION TO THE ENTRANCE OF THE THEOTOKOS - TONE FOUR:

The most pure temple of the Savior, His most precious chamber and Virgin; the sacred treasure of the glory of God, is presented today to the house of the Lord.  She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, the one whom the angels of God do praise: Truly this woman is the heavenly tabernacle!

HYMN TO THE MOTHER OF GOD (REPLACES “IT IS TRULY MEET…”):

The angels beheld the entrance of the Pure One and were amazed!  How has the Virgin entered into the Holy of Holies?  As you are a living Temple of God let no impure hand touch you, O Mother of God!  But let the lips of all believers sing, constantly magnifying you in joy with the angelic salutation: Truly you are above all creatures, O Pure One!

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 1st Tone:       

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us as we have set our hope on You.

26th Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 5: 8-19    

Brethren, you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.  Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

The Alleluia Verses:

God gives vengeance to me and subdues people under me; He magnifies the salvation of the king, and deals mercifully with His Christ, with David and his seed forever. 

GOSPEL READING

26th Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 12: 16-21      

The Lord told this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.  And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’  So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul: ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’  So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for November 24/December 7 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Great-martyr Catherine

Catherine was the daughter of King Constus. After the death of her father, she lived with her mother in Alexandria. Her mother was secretly a Christian who, through her spiritual father, brought Catherine to the Christian Faith. In a vision, St. Catherine received a ring from the Lord Jesus Himself as a sign of her betrothal to Him. This ring remains on her finger even today. Catherine was greatly gifted by God and was well educated in Greek philosophy, medicine, rhetoric and logic. In addition to that, she was of unusual physical beauty. When the iniquitous Emperor Maxentius offered sacrifices to the idols and ordered others to do the same, Catherine boldly confronted the emperor and denounced his idolatrous errors. The emperor, seeing that she was greater than he in wisdom and knowledge, summoned fifty of his wisest men to debate with her on matters of faith and to put her to shame. Catherine outwitted and shamed them. In a rage, the emperor ordered all fifty of those men burned. By St. Catherine’s prayers, all fifty confessed the name of Christ and declared themselves Christians before their execution. After Catherine had been put in prison, she converted the emperor’s commander, Porphyrius, and two hundred soldiers to the true Faith, as well as Empress Augusta-Vasilissa herself. They all suffered for Christ. During the torture of St. Catherine, an angel of God came to her and destroyed the wheel on which the holy virgin was being tortured. Afterward, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to her and comforted her. After many tortures, Catherine was beheaded at the age of eighteen, on November 24, 310. Milk, instead of blood, flowed from her body. Her miracle-working relics repose on Mount Sinai.

The Holy Great-martyr Mercurius

When Emperor Decius once waged war against the barbarians, there was in his army the commander of an Armenian regiment called the Martenesians. This commander was named Mercurius. In battle, an angel of the Lord appeared to Mercurius, placed a sword in his hand, and assured him of victory over his enemies. Indeed, Mercurius displayed wonderful courage, mowing down the enemy like grass. Following this glorious victory Emperor Decius made him chief commander of his army, but envious men reported Mercurius to the emperor for being a Christian, a fact which he did not hide but openly acknowledged before the emperor. Mercurius was tortured harshly and at length; he was cut into strips with knives and burned with fire. An angel of God appeared to him in prison and healed him. Finally, the emperor proclaimed that General Mercurius be beheaded in Cappadocia. When they beheaded him, his body became as white as snow and emitted a most wonderful incense-like fragrance. His miracle-working relics healed many of the sick. This most wonderful soldier of Christ suffered for the Faith sometime between the years 251 and 259 and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of his King and God.

The Holy Virgin Mastridia

Mastridia lived in Alexandria and led a solitary life of prayer and handiwork. A young man, burning with bodily passion toward her, constantly harassed her. Not wanting to sin before God, and since she could not easily be rid of this unrestrained youth, St. Mastridia once asked him what attracted him most to her. He replied: “Your eyes!” Mastridia then took the needle with which she was sewing and put out her eyes. Thus, Mastridia preserved her peace and the young man’s soul. The young man repented deeply, and became a monk.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Great-martyr Catherine
The wise Catherine, an earthly princess,
Became a martyr for Christ the Savior.

Foolish Maxentius offered her life:
If she would consent to become his wife!

The holy Catherine, pure as gold,
Replied to the emperor thus:
“My betrothed is the Risen Christ,
And I desire not the love of a corrupt man.

You seek my body: the rotten seeks corruption,
Even as the incorrupt spirit seeks immortality.
The physical covering must wither away,
The true man takes care for his immortal soul.
Do what you wish, and torture me—
Burn me in the fire, turn me on a wheel;
I cannot renounce my own soul,
Nor worship any but Christ as God.

Remember, O Emperor, soon you will die,
And worms will erupt from your corpse—
Worms will glorify you, worms will eat you,
A curse will accompany you, and a curse will meet you:
For you dare wage war against Christ, Who is mightier than death.

You stand under the Rock, and He will crush you.”

Holy Catherine, Christ’s virgin,
You despised the throne for eternal truth’s sake;
And thus now reign in the Kingdom without end,
And sing with the angels, in the midst of sweet Paradise.

REFLECTION

A tale of Elder Barlaam to Ioasaph: The citizens in a certain town had a custom of choosing as king a stranger who did not know their laws and customs. After they had crowned him king, they clothed him in beautiful robes, fed him abundantly and surrounded him with every luxury. However, as soon as one year had elapsed, they deposed their king, stripped him of all his goods and his clothes, and drove him completely naked to a distant island, where he had neither bread nor roof nor companions, and where he would die in misery and humiliation. The citizens of this town would then choose another king, also a stranger and also for one year; then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth and so forth. But it once happened that they chose a very wise and cautious man. He learned from his servants what had happened to the kings of this town after their year. Therefore, over the course of the whole year he zealously gathered food and goods and daily sent them to that island. When the year had run out and when he was stripped of his clothing and cast onto the island, he found himself amidst an enormous quantity of food, silver, gold and precious stones, and continued to live there even better than he lived as king in that town. The interpretation is this: The town represents the world; the citizens represent the evil spirits; the kings are men, either foolish or wise. The foolish men think only of the pleasures of this life, as if it were eternal; but in the end, death cuts everything off and they, naked of all good works, go to hell. The wise, however, perform many good works, and send these good works ahead of them to the other world. At their repose, the wise kings—the good men—depart to that world where their accumulated riches await them, and where they reign in greater eternal glory and beauty than they reigned here on earth.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous creation of the world (Genesis 2):

1. How God brought all animals, birds and beasts before Adam, to see how he would name them;

2. How Adam gave a name to every animal and every bird and every beast.

HOMILY on Him Who descended and ascended

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things (Ephesians 4:10).

In His love for man, the Lord Jesus Christ lowered Himself so low that He could go no lower; and then raised Himself so high that, in truth, He could go no higher. He descended into the lower parts of the earth (Ephesians 4:9): into hades itself, where He freed the forefathers, prophets and righteous ones, and led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. Completing His work both on earth and in hades, He ascended far above all heavens. The same One Who ascended is the very same One Who descended without any change, except that He descended without a body, and ascended with a body. Therefore, there are not both a Son of God and a Son of Man as heretics have said, but Christ is both the Son of God and the Son of Man—one and the same Person—one and the same God-man, our Savior Jesus Christ. As He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, so He is the same in the depths and in the heights: on earth, in hades, and in the heavens. He abased Himself lower than all men, and raised Himself above all the angelic powers, to show by example the truthfulness of His words: And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:12). If we are not humbled by virtues, then sin will humble us. Virtue leads to voluntary and temporary abasement, but sin leads to irreversible and eternal abasement. O Lord Jesus, Who fills all by Thy power, fill us with the spirit of true humility. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


This Mastridia apparently is not the same as the one who is commemorated on February 7. That Mastridia was from Jerusalem, while this one is from Alexandria. The former fled from scandal to the wilderness, while the latter put out her eyes.

DIOCESAN NEWS

All-NIGHT VIGIL ON THE EVE OF THE FEAST OF THE ENTRY INTO THE TEMPLE OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS

VIEW PHOTOS

On Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at
9 p.m. at the Christ the Savior Serbian Orthodox Church in Arcadia, California, His Grace, Bishop Grigorije of Zahum-Hercegovina, His Grace, Bishop Maxim of the Western American Diocese, Hieromonk Sava, 
Abbott of the Tvrdos Monastery, local clergy, and many faithful prayerfully gathered for an All-Night Vigil (Feast Day Vigil and Divine Liturgy) for the Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. 

All who attended symbolically participated in the Vigil of the Hilandar Monastery, where the monastics celebrate this Feast as their Slava.
 

THE CHRISTIAN HERITAGE OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
The Spiritual, Historical, and Aesthetic Heart of the
Serbian People

View a PDF of the 
First Introductory pages 
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View Introductory Video 


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