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MAY 15, 2015





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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!


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!


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.


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.

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.”

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.”

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 Historical and Spiritual Heartland of the Serbian People

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