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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost;
Dedication of the Church of the Great-martyr George in Lydia

The angelic powers were at Your tomb; and the guards became as dead men; and 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 did rise from the dead: Glory to You!

O liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, trophy-bearer, great-martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls may be saved.

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.

As we the faithful flee to you for refuge and seek your protection and speedy help, we entreat you, O champion of Christ, that we who sing your praises may be delivered from the snares of the enemy and from every peril and adversary, that we may cry: ‘Rejoice, O martyr George!’

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!


The Prokimenon in the 6th Tone:
O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance.

23rd Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 2: 4-10 
Brethren, God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

The Alleluia Verses:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the heavenly God.  He will say to the Lord: My Protector and my Refuge; my God, in whom I trust.


23rd Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 8: 26-39
At that time, Jesus and His disciples sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee.  And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time.  And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.  When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg You, do not torment me!”  For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.  For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.  Jesus asked him saying, “What is your name?”  And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.  And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.  Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain.  So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them.  And He permitted them.  Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.  When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.  Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.  And they were afraid.  They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.  And He got into the boat and returned.  Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him.  But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.”  And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. 

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for November 3/16 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Hieromartyr Acepsimas, Bishop of Naeson, and others with him
The eighty-year-old Acepsimas, filled with every Christian virtue, was sitting one day in his home with guests. Just then a child, filled with the Spirit of God, ran up to the aged bishop, kissed him on the head and said: “Blessed is this head, for it will receive suffering for Christ.” This prophecy was soon fulfilled. King Sapor raised a bitter persecution of Christians throughout Persia, and St. Acepsimas was apprehended. He was brought before a prince who was also a pagan priest. As the bishop was arrested and bound, a member of his household asked him what should be done with his home if he were martyred. The saint replied: “It is no longer my home. I am going to a home on high and will not return.” After prolonged interrogation he was thrown into prison. The following day Joseph, a seventy-year-old presbyter, and Aithalas, a deacon, were also imprisoned. After three years of imprisonment and many tortures, Acepsimas was beheaded. Joseph and Aithalas were buried up to their waists in the ground, and the soulless pagans forced Christians to stone them. That night, by God’s providence, Joseph’s body disappeared, and a myrtle tree grew over Aithalas’s body that healed every kind of disease and pain of men. This tree stood for five years before the wicked and envious pagans cut it down. These soldiers of Christ suffered in Persia in the fourth century, during the time of the pagan King Sapor.

The Holy Great-martyr George
On this day we commemorate the translation of the relics of St. George, from Nicomedia, where he suffered at the time of Emperor Diocletian, to the city of Lydda in Palestine. The suffering of this wonderful saint is described on April 23. Anticipating his martyrdom, St. George begged his servant to take his relics to Palestine, where his mother had been born, and where he had distributed his large estate to the poor. The servant did so. During the reign of Emperor Constantine, pious Christians built a beautiful church to St. George in Lydda and, upon the consecration of that church, the relics of the saint were interred there. Innumerable miracles have occurred from these miracle-working relics of St. George, the great-martyr of Christ.

The Venerable Elias the Egyptian

Elias labored in asceticism near Antinoe, the principle city of the Thebaid. For seventy years, he lived among the arid and inaccessible rocks of the desert. He ate only bread and dates and, in his youth, fasted for weeks at a time. He healed all manner of pains and ailments of the people. He eventually became very shaky in his old age, and entered into the joy of his Lord at the age of 110. Elias said: “Guard your mind from evil thoughts concerning your neighbors, knowing that the demons put them there, aiming to blind you to your own sins and prevent you from directing yourself toward God.”

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Great-martyr George
O George the martyr,
O George the victor:
Through suffering, you conquered,
And through death you have been glorified.

You held all things to be of less value
Than truth, O George.

You gave up earthly power and honor,
And stood beside the Living Christ.

O George the martyr,
O George the victor:
Pierced and broken with horrible tortures,
You were sustained by God’s hand.

All your pains were as nothing—
By the power of God’s mighty hand.

We all bow down before you
And glorify your name.

O Martyr George,
O Victor George:
Have mercy on us now,
By your prayers, protect us
Before the throne of Christ God,
Our Almighty Savior;
And pray that we not fear torture,
And that, by patience, we conquer!


Among the countless miracles of St. George, this one is recorded: On the island of Mytilene there was a church dedicated to St. George the Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer. All the inhabitants of the island would come to this church on the annual feast of their patron saint. Knowing of this, the Saracens of Crete once attacked this island on its feast day, pillaged the island, and enslaved its inhabitants, taking many of them back to Crete. Among the enslaved was a handsome young man, whom the pirates gave to their prince. The prince made him his servant. The young man’s parents were overwhelmed with great sorrow for their son. After a year had passed and St. George’s day came again, the grieving parents, following the ancient custom, prepared a table and entertained many guests. Remembering her son, the poor mother went to the icon of the saint, fell to the ground and began to pray that he somehow deliver her son from slavery. The mother then returned to her guests at the table. The host raised a glass and drank a toast to the honor of St. George. Just then their son appeared among them, holding a decanter of wine in his hand. In amazement and fear, they asked him how he had managed to come to them. He replied that as he was about to serve his master wine in Crete, a knight on horseback appeared before him, pulled him up onto the horse and carried him instantly to his parents’ home. All were amazed, and glorified God and His wonderful saint, George the Commander and Victory-bearer.


Contemplate the wondrous deliverance of Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16):

1. How these holy apostles were cast into the inner prison and their feet were placed in stocks;

2. How they were at prayer, praising God at midnight;

3. How the earth quaked, the chains fell off those who were bound, and the doors of the prison were opened.

HOMILY on Christ as the Head of all the saints

That … He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth (Ephesians 1:10).

Sin causes panic and confusion. A man drowning in sin and vice is like a chicken with its head cut off which, dying, thrashes about convulsively and rushes to and fro. Before Christ’s Incarnation, the whole pagan world was a confused, headless body, dying in convulsions. Christ joined the severed head with the benighted trunk and brought the body of the human race back to life. He is the Head of the heavenly host, and He has always been. And, as the Creating Word of God, He was from the beginning the Head of everything created in the visible world, especially the human race. But sin, like a sword, separated the sinful trunk of Adam from his Head. However, the Lord reconciled heaven and earth in His Incarnation, bringing heaven to earth, and raising earth to heaven, and establishing all of it under His mind, under His headship. Through Christ we are reconciled with the Holy Trinity and the angels of God, with one another, and with the created nature around us. The lost Head has been found and all has been harmoniously arranged beneath it. The Apostle says: We have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16). As the head is to the physical man, so the mind is to the spiritual inner man. Therefore, if we are Christ’s, we must think and judge in all things according to our Head, Jesus Christ, and Him alone. Thinking and judging by Him, we will perceive ourselves as organs of one body that includes other men and the angels: one body, whose Head is Christ. Hence, our love for God is enkindled, and our faith strengthened, and our hope enlightened. Only a sleeping body feels no link with its head. Let us awaken, my brethren, let us awaken while we have time. O Lord Jesus Christ, our All-wise Head, unite us with Thyself. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

The Spiritual, Historical, and Aesthetic Heart of the
Serbian People

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