Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, May 31, 2015

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pentecost Sunday:
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
 


FIRST ANTIPHON: 

VERSE: The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.

REFRAIN: Through the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us.

VERSE: Their proclamation has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the universe.

REFRAIN: Through the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us.

VERSE: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen.

REFRAIN: Through the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us.

SECOND ANTIPHON:

VERSE: The Lord answer you in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

REFRAIN: Gracious Comforter, save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia! 

VERSE: May He send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion! 

REFRAIN: Gracious Comforter, save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia!

VERSE: May He remember all your offerings, and fulfill all your plans.

REFRAIN: Gracious Comforter, save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia!

VERSE: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen.  Only-begotten Son and Immortal Word of God...


THIRD ANTIPHON:

VERSE: In Your strength the King rejoices, O Lord, and exults greatly in Your salvation.

PENTECOST TROPARION - TONE EIGHT: Blessed are You, O Christ our God; You have revealed the fishermen as most wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit; through them You drew the world into Your net.  O Lover of Mankind, Glory to You!

Introit of the Little Entrance:
Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength!  We will sing and praise Your power!  

PENTECOST KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT:
When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, He divided the nations; but when He   distributed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity.  Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the   All-holy Spirit!

INSTEAD OF “HOLY GOD…”:
As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.  Alleluia!

INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET...”:
Rejoice, O Queen! Glory of mothers and virgins! No mouth, however sweet or fluent, is eloquent enough to praise you worthily! Every mind is overawed by your childbearing. Therefore with one voice we glorify you!


EPISTLE READING


The Prokimenon in the 8th Tone: Their proclamation has gone out into all the earth; and their words to the ends of the universe.

Pentecost Sunday: Acts 2: 1-11
In those days, when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.  Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?  Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

The Alleluia Verses: By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made; and all their host by the Spirit of His mouth.  The Lord looked down from heaven, and saw all the sons of men.

GOSPEL READING

Pentecost Sunday: John 7: 37-52; 8: 12
At that time, on the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”  Others said, “This is the Christ.”  But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee?  Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”  So there was a division among the people because of Him.  Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.  Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”  The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”  Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived?  Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”  Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”  They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee?  Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for May 18/31 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:
The Holy Martyr Theodotus and the Seven Maiden Martyrs: Thecusa, Alexandra, Claudia, Falina, Euphrasia, Matrona and Julia

Theodotus was an innkeeper in Ancyra during the reign of Diocletian. Although married, he lived according to the word of the Apostle: They that have wives be as though they had none (I Corinthians 7:29). He maintained the inn in order to help Christians without attracting suspicion. His inn was a shelter for the persecuted faithful. Theodotus secretly sent help to those Christians who fled to the mountains and he secretly gathered the bodies of those who died, and buried them. At that time, seven maidens were brought to trial, tortured for Christ, ridiculed and finally drowned in a lake. One of them, St. Thecusa, appeared in a dream to Theodotus and told him to remove their bodies from the lake and bury them. In the dark of night Theodotus went out with a companion to fulfill the wish of the martyr. Led by an angel of God, he succeeded in locating all seven bodies and burying them. But this companion betrayed Theodotus to the judge, and the judge subjected him to cruel tortures. Theodotus endured all the sufferings as though he were in someone else’s body, keeping his whole mind immersed in the Lord. After the torturer had transformed Theodotus’s body into wounds and knocked out his teeth with a stone, he ordered that the martyr be beheaded. When he was led to the scaffold, many Christians wept for him, but St. Theodotus said to them: “Brethren, do not weep for me, but glorify our Lord Jesus Christ, Who helped me to finish my course and overcome my enemy.” Having said this, he placed his head on the block under the sword and was beheaded in the year 303. A priest honorably buried this martyr’s body on a hill outside the town. Later a church dedicated to St. Theodotus was built on this spot.

The Holy Martyrs Peter, Dionysius, Andrew, Paul and Christina: Peter, a handsome young man; Dionysius, a distinguished man; Andrew and Paul, soldiers; and Christina, a sixteen-year-old virgin: they all courageously confessed Christ the Lord and endured sufferings and death for His name. Nicomachus, who was tortured with them, denied Christ in the midst of his tortures and instantly lost his mind. As a madman, he bit his body and vomited foam from his mouth until he died. This occurred in the year 250.

The Holy Martyrs Heraclius, Paulinus and Benedimus
All three were Athenians. They suffered for the Faith during the reign of Decius. They were burned in a fiery furnace for the name of Christ.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Theodotus
Near Ancyra, on a green hill,
A group of persecuted Christians
With a blessing ate their meal.

What the sun is among the shining stars,
So was Theodotus among this group;
And next to him sat the presbyter Fronto.

To Fronto Theodotus said:
“This spot is suitable for a church,
Over the relics of honorable martyrs!”

Fronto replied to Theodotus
“Endeavor, most wonderful man,
To obtain relics of the martyrs for us,
And we will easily build a church
With which to adorn this place.”

Theodotus the all-wonderful smiled.

From his right hand he removed a ring,
Gave it to the honorable Fronto,
And spoke to him these words:
“I give you my word of honor and the ring as a pledge:
I will soon procure relics
And place them on this spot!”

Theodotus said this as a prophecy:
He was prophesying his own suffering
And his martyrdom for Christ.

As he said, so it happened.

His relics were placed on that spot,
And over them a church was built,
As a wonderful memorial of an immortal victory,
Near Ancyra, on a green hill.

REFLECTION
To conceal one’s virtues and ascetic labors has been the custom of ascetics, both female and male, not only in the earliest times of Christianity but throughout all ages to the present time. Eudocia, wife of the glorious Prince Dimitri Donskoy, the liberator of Russia from the Tartars, was left a widow in 1389, while still fairly young. Imbued with devotion, this princess built many churches, distributed alms, and secretly weakened her body by fasting and long vigils. She wore an iron chain around her body. Meanwhile, she always appeared happy before the public, clothed in opulence and adorned with pearls. The public said many things about her, and they began to spread rumors that she was leading an immoral life. Her sons also heard about this and, insulted and embittered, openly informed their mother of what was being said about her. Their mother opened her luxurious robe and her sons, with great horror, saw her body, completely withered, dried up and bound with iron chains.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the martyrs:
1. How the Holy Spirit provided them with comfort in their sufferings;
2. How occasionally, according to His will, He made their bodies immune to the effects of fire.

HOMILY on the testimony of the Spirit of God

The Spirit of Truth, Who proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me (John 15:26).

God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit into the world to testify of Him until the end of time. He shall testify of Me. How will God the Spirit testify of God the Son? God the Spirit will testify in many ways:

By attracting men’s souls to Christ’s Church;

By revealing to them the meaning of the Holy Scriptures;

By leading their minds to the commandments of Christ;

By giving warmth, freshness, power and gentleness to the words of Christ;

By converting repentant sinners to righteousness;

By fulfilling all the promises and prophecies of Christ to men, to nations, and to God’s Church;

By strengthening the Church of Christ and holding it firm against all the tempests of time and all the evils of hades and men throughout the ages.

The Spirit Who works in these and many other similar ways is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, gracious, life-creating and all-powerful.

Not one of Christ’s words goes against the Spirit of God, nor does the Spirit of God go against a single word of Christ. That is why, when the Spirit of God is pleased to enter into the heart of man, such a man is enlivened and becomes a true witness to all that Christ said and did. Then, that man believes joyfully and unwaveringly. For how could he not believe the greatest and the most enduring Eyewitness of and Participator in all the words, miracles and works of Christ?

Thus, brethren, let us pray before all and above all, that this Eyewitness and Participator, the Holy and All-powerful Spirit, will settle in our hearts, so that our faith may become alive, unwavering and joyous. O God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, come and abide in us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 THE CHRISTIAN
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AND METOHIJA

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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, May 24, 2015

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Seventh Sunday of Pascha: The Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council; Saints Cyril & Methodius, Enlighteners of the Slavs


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SIX: The angelic powers were at Your tomb; the guards became as dead men.  Mary stood by Your grave, seeking Your most pure Body.  You did capture hell, not being tempted by it.  You did come to the Virgin, granting life.  O Lord who rose from the dead:  Glory to You!

ASCENSION TROPARION - TONE FOUR: You have ascended in glory, O Christ our God, granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.  Through the blessing they were assured that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world!

TROPARION TO THE HOLY FATHERS - 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 SAINTS CYRIL & METHODIUS - TONE FOUR: Divinely-wise Cyril and Methodius, equals to the Apostles and teachers of the Slavs, entreat the Master of all to strengthen all nations in Orthodoxy and unity of mind, to grant peace to the world and to save our souls.

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.

KONTAKION TO THE HOLY FATHERS - 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.

KONTAKION TO SAINTS CYRIL & METHODIUS - TONE THREE: Let us honor the sacred pair, who translated divine Scripture, pouring forth a fountain of divine knowledge from which we still draw today.  Now as you stand before the throne of the Most-high, we call you blessed O Cyril and Methodius, as you fervently pray for our souls.

ASCENSION KONTAKION - TONE SIX: When You fulfilled the dispensation for our sake, and unite earth to heaven:  You ascended in glory, O Christ our God, not being parted from those who love You, but remaining with them and crying:  I am with you and no one will be against you!

INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET…”: Magnify, O my soul, Christ the Giver of Life, who has ascended from earth to heaven!  We magnify you, the Mother of God, who beyond reason and understanding gave birth in time to the Timeless One!

INSTEAD OF “WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUE LIGHT…”

ASCENSION TROPARION - TONE FOUR: You have ascended in glory, O Christ our God, granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.  Through the blessing they were assured that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world!


EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 4th Tone: Blessed are You, O Lord God of our Fathers, and praised and glorified is Your name forever!

Seventh Sunday of Pascha: Acts 20: 16-18, 28-36
In those days, it happened that Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost. From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.  And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you; therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.  For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.  Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.  So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.  Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.  I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.  And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

For Saints Cyril & Methodius, Hebrews 7: 26 - 8: 2
Brethren, such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.  For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.  Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: we have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

The Alleluia VersesThe Lord, the God of gods, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting! Gather to me my venerable ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

GOSPEL READING

Seventh Sunday of Pascha: 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 with You 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.”

For Saints Cyril & Methodius, Matthew 5: 14-19 
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for May 11/24 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Saints Cyril and Methodius, Equals to the Apostles
Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers from Thessalonica, of distinguished and wealthy parents, Leo and Maria. The elder brother Methodius spent ten years as an officer among the Macedonian Slavs and thus learned the Slavic language. After that, Methodius withdrew to Mount Olympus and dedicated himself to monastic asceticism. It was here that Cyril (Constantine) later joined him. When the king of the Khazars, Kagan, requested preachers of the Christian Faith from Emperor Michael III, these two brothers were found and sent among the Khazars by command of the emperor. Converting King Kagan to the Christian Faith, they baptized him along with a great number of his chief assistants and an even greater number of the people. After some time they returned to Constantinople, where they compiled the Slavonic alphabet consisting of thirty-eight letters. They then proceeded to translate ecclesiastical books from Greek into Slavonic. At the request of Prince Rastislav, they traveled to Moravia, where they spread and confirmed the sacred Faith and made more copies of the books, distributing them to the priests to teach the youth. At the request of the pope, Cyril traveled to Rome. There he became ill and died, on February 14, 867. Then Methodius returned to Moravia and labored to strengthen the Christian Faith among the Slavs until his death. Following his death (he reposed in the Lord on April 6, 885) his disciples, the Five Followers, with St. Clement the bishop at their head, crossed the Danube River and traveled south into Macedonia. There, from Ohrid, they continued their labor among the Slavs, which Cyril and Methodius had begun in the north.

The Hieromartyr Mocius
Mocius was Roman by birth and a presbyter in Amphipolis, a town in Macedonia. He suffered during the reign of Diocletian. By prayer he destroyed the statue of the god Dionysius. This embittered certain pagans against him, but others he converted to the Faith. He was beheaded for Christ in the year 295.


Saint Nicodemus, Archbishop of Peæ
This great hierarch was a Serb by birth. He lived in asceticism on the Holy Mountain and was abbot of Hilandar Monastery. Following the death of Sava III, he was elected archbishop of “all the Serbian and coastal lands” in the year 1317. Nicodemus crowned King Milutin in the year 1321. He translated the Jerusalem Typicon into Serbian. In the introduction of this book, Nicodemus writes: “Almighty God, Who knows our weaknesses, will give us spiritual strength, but only if we first display effort.” He sincerely loved the ascetic life and labored to strengthen it throughout the Serbian land. He labored relentlessly to uproot the Bogomil heresy and to strengthen the Orthodox Faith. He reposed in the Lord in the year 1325. His miracle-working relics rest in the monastery at Peæ.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Cyril
The Moslem leaders asked Cyril:
“How can there be three persons in God?

If God is one, from where are there three persons?

Our God is one, yours is three!”

Cyril replied: “It is not that way, it is not,
But it is as the shining sun which warms at noon,
Which has its own light, warmth, and circle.

But that is a pale picture of the Divine Triad,
Three Divine Persons, but One in Essence.

Through Christ, this truth is revealed.

Never will mortal man comprehend this;
God Himself revealed this; this the Church teaches.”

REFLECTION
In the Saracen encampment they asked St. Cyril: “How can Christians wage war and at the same time keep Christ’s commandment to pray to God for their enemies?” To this, St. Cyril replied: “If two commandments were written in one law and given to men for fulfilling, which man would be a better follower of the law: the one who fulfilled one commandment or the one who fulfilled both?” The Saracens replied: “Undoubtedly, he who fulfills both commandments.” St. Cyril continued: “Christ our God commands us to pray to God for those who persecute us and even to do good to them, but He also said to us, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). That is why we bear the insults that our enemies cast at us individually and why we pray to God for them. However, as a society, we defend one another and lay down our lives, so that you would not enslave our brethren, would not enslave their souls with their bodies, and would not destroy them in both body and soul.”

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:
1. How He makes the simple wise;
2. How He makes the inarticulate eloquent.

HOMILY on the irresistible will of God
I say to myself, I will not mention Him, I will speak in His name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it (Jeremiah 20:9).

If anyone still doubts that God spoke through the prophets, let him read this confession of the great prophet Jeremiah, and let him doubt no more. The prophet confesses that he had decided not to speak anymore in the name of the Lord. Why? Because so few paid attention to his word. If anyone heeded his word, the prophet endured reproach and derision daily (Jeremiah 20:8). But when he decided to remain silent, did he in fact remain silent? No, he could not: I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it! He was pressed by the irresistible power of the Spirit of God to speak, and he had to speak. Therefore, it is not the affair of the prophet whether he is going to speak or not: that is the affair of the All-powerful Spirit of God. The prophet is merely the chosen vessel of the All-powerful Spirit of God. All of Holy Scripture is written thus: not according to the will of man but according to the will of God, and not according to the mind of man but according to the mind of God.

How is the word of God felt when it enters the prophet from the Spirit of God? This the great Jeremiah explains from his personal experience:It becomes like fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. That is, it is an inspiration from the All-powerful Spirit of God. Under such irresistible internal pressure—like the pressure of fire shut up in the bones—holy men of God did their writing. And many of them cried out: I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it anymore. Who will oppose the Spirit of God without punishment and destruction? Who will withstand Him when He wills to say or do something?

O my brethren, the action of God the Holy Spirit is irresistible!

O All-powerful Spirit of God, direct us irresistibly on the path of salvation.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 THE CHRISTIAN
HERITAGE OF KOSOVO
AND METOHIJA

The Historical and Spiritual Heartland of the Serbian People

the chrisitan heritage of kosovo and metohija 250

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First Introductory pages 
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