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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, April 10, 2016
Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Saint John Climacus):
The Venerable Hilarion the New


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FOUR:
When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Thy Resurrection; they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the apostles: Death is overthrown! Christ God is Risen, granting the world great mercy.

TROPARION TO ST. JOHN CLIMACUS - TONE ONE:
O dweller of the desert and angel in the body, you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing father John. You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil and prayer: healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith. Glory to Him who gave you strength! Glory to Him who granted you a crown! Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!

TROPARION TO VENERABLE HILARION THE NEW - TONE FIVE: Adorned with gladness of soul, as a pure vessel of the wisdom of Christ, you were a reflection of the life in God. Therefore you are resplendent with the light of virtues, O Father Hilarion, and you guide us unerringly to the salvation of our souls.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE FOUR:
My Savior and my Redeemer as God rose from the tomb and delivered the earthborn from their chains. And He has shattered the gates of hell, and as Master, He has risen on the third day!

KONTAKION TO ST. JOHN CLIMACUS - TONE FOUR:
The Lord truly set you on the heights of abstinence, to be a guiding star, showing the way to the universe, O our father and teacher John.

KONTAKION OF THE FIVE SUNDAYS OF GREAT LENT
To thee, the Champion Leader, do I offer thanks of victory, O Theotokos, thou who hast delivered me from terror; but as thou that hast that power invincible, O Theotokos, thou alone can set me free: from all forms of danger free me and deliver me, that I may cry unto thee: ‘Rejoice, O Bride without Bridegroom!’

HYMN TO THE THEOTOKOS (INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET”): All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace; the assembly of angels and the race of men. O sanctified temple and spiritual paradise, the glory of virgins, from whom God was incarnate and became a Child, our God before the ages. He made your body into a throne, and your womb He made more spacious than the heavens. All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace. Glory to you!

EPSITLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 7th Tone:
The Lord shall give strength to His people! The Lord shall bless His people with peace!

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Hebrews 6: 13-20
Brethren, for when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

For St. John Climacus: 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:
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High! To declare Your mercy in the morning and Your truth by night!

GOSPEL READING

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Mark 9: 17-31
At that time, one of the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”

For St. John Climacus: Matthew 4: 25 – 5: 12
At that time, great multitudes followed Jesus – from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

From The Prologue
For March 28/April 10 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Venerable Martyr Eustratius of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves
Eustratius was very wealthy, but being moved by love for Christ he distributed his entire estate for the sake of Christ, entered the Monastery of the Caves, and was tonsured a monk. When the Polovtsians waged war against Kiev in 1097, they plundered the monastery and slew many Christians, including monks. Eustratius and some of the faithful were sold as slaves to a Jew in the city of Cherson. This Jew ridiculed the Christian Faith and tried to coerce the Christians into embracing the Jewish religion. Seeing that they had no other alternative, they all agreed to starve themselves to death rather than deny the true Faith. Eustratius encouraged the Christians to follow that decision. They all died of hunger—some after three days, some after four, and some after seven. Being accustomed to fasting, Eustratius was the only one to remain alive—enduring fourteen days without food. The Jew, angered because he had lost the money he had used to purchase the slaves, took out his revenge on Eustratius by nailing him to a cross. Eustratius praised God from the cross and prophesied a severe and imminent death for the Jew. Wild with rage, the Jew pierced him with a spear. The saint of God gave up his soul to his Savior. His body was thrown into the sea, but it floated to the surface. Great miracles occurred over this martyr’s body. Shortly after the death of Eustratius, the Byzantine emperor decreed that the Jews of the city of Cherson be punished for their wickedness toward Christians. This tormentor of Christians was hanged on a tree and received the reward of Judas.

The Venerable Hilarion the New Confessor
Hilarion was the abbot of the Monastery of Pelekete, near the Helles¬pont. He shone like the sun with the spirit of God, healed people and expelled evil spirits. This man of God suffered at the time when Leo the Armenian began the iconoclastic persecution. With forty of his monks, Hilarion was sent into exile near Ephesus and died there in prison. He took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ in 754.

The Venerable Hesychius of Jerusalem
A presbyter and profound theologian, Hesychius was a disciple of St. Gregory the Theologian and a contemporary of St. Euthymius the Great. One should read his well-known work, “On Sobriety and Prayer.” He reposed peacefully in the year 434.

The Holy Martyr Boyan, Bulgarian Prince
Boyan was the son of Krutogan and the nephew of Grubash. Boyan confessed his faith in Christ; however, his brother Milomir was a pagan. By decree of his brother, Boyan was beheaded for the true Faith in the year 827.

The Miraculous Experience of Taxiotis
Taxiotis was a soldier from Carthage. He spent his whole life in grievous sins but finally repented, left the military service and lived a God-pleasing life. While with his wife on his estate near the city, he committed adultery with the wife of his farm worker. Immediately afterward, he was bitten by a snake and died. Taxiotis was dead for six hours, after which he arose. On the fourth day, he finally spoke and related how he had passed through all of the toll-houses until he came to the toll-house for adultery. There he fell into the dark abode of demons, but was led out by an angel who vouched for him. He was then sent back to his body to repent for his latest sin. He repented for forty days, going from church to church, beating his head against the doors and thresholds, crying and telling of the terrible sufferings which sinners undergo in the other world. He implored men to cease from sin and to repent for those sins already committed. On the fortieth day, with rejoicing, Taxiotis took up his habitation in the Kingdom of the Merciful God.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Taxiotis the Soldier
Throughout all of Carthage, Taxiotis sobbed,
Recounting to everyone the horrors he had seen:
“Oh, the horrors my soul saw, my brethren!
Oh, the malodorous abyss to which my soul descended!
Oh, the terrible monsters, and mire and shrieks!
Oh, the weeping without tears, wailing and screaming!
Not six hours, but a hundred years
Did I think that I was an inhabitant in the world of hades!
Until a radiant angel offered a pledge for me.
He raised me up and lowered me near Carthage,
That I, clothed again in the body (he said),
Might repent for my latest misdeed.
When I gazed upon my body, a stinking corpse,
My strength left me and my joy perished:
Oh, how can I enter this stinking corpse?
How can I be clothed in this loathsome carrion?
Oh how, until now, could I have remained therein,
To lose my soul for the sake of pleasure, that dung?
O radiant angel, spare me the pain,
Force me not back into that foetid shame!
At my cry the angel became angry:
He who sins in the body must repent in the body!
This he said sternly, and added:
Will you enter your body, or will you enter hades again?
When he made mention of hades, I fell painfully silent,
I rapidly approached my body and into it crawled.
Forty days for repentance have I,
And a lesson to all, and a warning.
Repent, O brethren, quickly repent;
Do not stumble with your sins into hades.
Repent quickly—only repent.
Repentance will not be allowed you there.
Taxiotis is relating to you what he himself saw—
Oh, the foetid abyss into which my soul has descended!”

REFLECTION
In speaking about a handsome twenty-year-old youth named George—who, despite his beauty, youth and life among the conceited of the world, recognized the path of salvation and was enlightened by spiritual wisdom—St. Simeon the New Theologian concludes with these words: “Do you understand how youth does not hinder nor does old age help a man, if he does not have reason and the fear of God?” What prevented the young Apostle John from believing in Christ the Lord? What were the benefits of age to the Jewish elders when they were blinded in mind and in their blindness sentenced the Son of God to death? Youth in absolutely no way prevents the young, even in our time, from giving their faith and love to Christ, who created them out of love. Age does not benefit the aged in our time if their souls are poisoned with maliciousness toward Christ. Young and old bodies are nothing more than new and old garments of the soul. Either of these garments can conceal a healthy or a sick soul. Our goal is a healthy and clean soul.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the Lord Jesus in death:
1. How all of nature trembled when He gave up the spirit, as though to protest against this criminal act of the race of men;
2. How the earth quaked, the sun was darkened, the rocks were split, the veil of the temple was rent, and the graves were opened.

HOMILY
on the horror of nature at the death of Christ
The earth did quake, and the rocks rent (Matthew 27:51).
Oh, what a terrible reproach against mankind! Even dead nature recognized Him Whom men were unable to recognize. All mute things trembled and began to protest, each in its own way and in its own language. The mute earth quakes—that is its language. The stones are split apart—that is their language. The sun withholds its light—that is its language. All of creation protests in its own way. All of creation is submissive to Him as it was to Adam at one time in Paradise, because all of creation recognizes Him as it did Adam in Paradise. How it is that irrational creation knew Him and was obedient to Him, we do not know. It is some kind of inner instinct of irrational creation, which came to it from the Word of God, by Whom it was created. That instinct of irrational creation is more valuable than the mind of man when the latter is darkened by sin. Of all the things that are in existence, nothing is more blind than the mind of man when darkened by sin. Not only does man fail to see that which was created to be seen, but also he sees that which is contrary to being, contrary to God, and contrary to the truth. These are the degrees of blindness beyond blindness; these are numbers below zero. This is man lower than creation. For when the priests of God in Jerusalem did not recognize their God, the storms and winds recognized Him; plants and animals recognized Him; the seas, the rivers, the earth, the stones, the stars, the sun and even the demons recognized Him. Oh, what shame this is for mankind! The earth quaked, the rocks split and the sun hid its rays, as much in anger as in sorrow. All creation grieved over the pain of the Son of God, over Whose pain the priests in Jerusalem rejoiced. Protest, sorrow—and fear! The whole of creation was frightened at the death of Him Who had cried to it: “Arise from nothing and rejoice in your existence,” as though it wanted to say: “With whom do we remain, and who will now uphold us, now that the Almighty has given up the spirit?” O brethren, let us be ashamed of this protest, these sorrows and this fear of the mute creation! With repentance let us cry out to the Lord, the Victor: “Forgive us, O Compassionate Lord, for indeed, whenever we sin and offend Thee, we do not know what we are doing.” To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


Lenten Prayer of
St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen. 


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