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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Twenty-Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; The Holy Forefathers; The Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherius; The Venerable Paul of Latros; 
Serbian Mother’s Day  

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FOUR:
When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Your 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 THE HOLY FOREFATHERS - TONE TWO:
Through faith You justified the Forefathers, betrothing through them the Church of the gentiles.  These saints exult in glory, for from their seed came forth a glorious fruit: she who bore You  without seed.  So by their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us!

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 THE HOLY FOREFATHERS - TONE SIX:
You did not worship the graven image, O thrice-blessed ones, but armed with the immaterial essence of God, you were glorified in a trial by fire.  From the midst of unbearable flames you called on God, crying out: ‘Hasten, O compassionate One!  Speedily come to our aid for You are merciful and able to do as You will!’

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.

29th Sunday after Pentecost: Colossians 3: 4-11    
Brethren, when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.  But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

The Alleluia Verses:
Moses and Aaron are among His priests, and Samuel is among those who call upon His name. They called upon the Lord, and He hearkened unto them.

GOSPEL READING

29th Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 14: 16-24
The Lord spoke this parable: “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’  But they all with one accord began to make excuses.  The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it; I ask you to have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them; I ask you to have me excused.’  Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’  And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded and still there is room.’  Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I say to you, that none of these men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”

Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for December 15/28 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherius
From a good tree comes good fruit. This wonderful saint had noble and greatly eminent parents. Eleutherius was born in Rome, where his father was an imperial proconsul. His mother Anthia heard the Gospel from the great Apostle Paul and was baptized by him. Having been left a widow early, she entrusted her only son for study and service to Anicetus the Bishop of Rome. Seeing how Eleutherius was gifted by God and illumined by the grace of God, the bishop ordained him a deacon at the age of fifteen, a priest at the age of eighteen, and a bishop at the age of twenty. Eleutherius’s God-given wisdom made up for what he lacked in years, and this chosen one of God was appointed Bishop of Illyria with his seat in Valona (Avlona), Albania. The good shepherd guarded his flock well and increased their number day by day. Emperor Hadrian, a persecutor of Christians, sent the commander Felix with soldiers to seize Eleutherius and bring him to Rome. When the raging Felix arrived in Valona and entered the church, he saw and heard the holy hierarch of God; suddenly his heart changed, and he became a Christian. Eleutherius baptized Felix and departed for Rome with him, returning joyfully as if he were going to a feast and not to trial and torture. The emperor subjected the noble Eleutherius to harsh torture: flogging, roasting on an iron bed, boiling in pitch, and burning in a fiery furnace. But Eleutherius was delivered from all these deadly tortures by God’s power. Seeing all this, Caribus the Roman eparch declared that he also was a Christian. Caribus was tortured and then beheaded, and so was Blessed Felix. Finally, the imperial executioners cut off the honorable head of St. Eleutherius. When his mother, the holy Anthia, came and stood over the dead body of her son, she also was beheaded. Their bodies were translated to Valona, where even today St. Eleutherius glorifies the name of Christ by his many miracles. He suffered during the reign of Hadrian in the year 120.

Saint Stephen the Confessor of Sourozh
Stephen was born in Cappadocia and educated in Constantinople under the Patriarch, St. Germanus. He withdrew into solitude and lived hidden from the world. An angel appeared to St. Germanus and ordered him to appoint Stephen bishop of the town of Sourozh (now Sudak in the Crimea), and the patriarch did so. The zealous Stephen converted many to Christianity. He suffered bitterly under Emperor Leo the Isaurian for the sake of icons. He prophesied to the emperor his impending death. Following this wicked emperor’s evil death, Stephen was returned to his diocese, where he fed his God-pleasing flock and died peacefully at the end of the eighth century.

The Venerable Paul of Latros
Paul was born in Pergamum. He lived a life of asceticism on a mountain called Latros in Asia Minor. Glorified because of his asceticism and many miracles, he entered peacefully into rest in old age and took up his habitation with the Lord in the year 950.

The Venerable Pardus the Hermit
In his youth Pardus was a cart-driver, but because of an unintentional sin, he left the world and withdrew to the desert to live in asceticism. He lived in Palestine in the sixth century.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherius
Eleutherius, saint of God,
You did not conceal God’s truth from men,
But with God’s truth you enlightened men
And offered salvation to each and all.

Let the Church of God rejoice;
Let all of Illyria rejoice.

Behold, God sent to her a wonderful man:
Eleutherius, a true saint.

His very name means “freedom”:
Eleutherius bears freedom,
True freedom from the slavery of sin.

True freedom does not exist without Christ.

Let the town of Valona also rejoice.

In her the relics of the saint repose:
Miraculous relics that heal the sick,
A flame from which the demons flee.

Blessed is the mother who gives birth to a saint.

St. Anthia, thrice blessed,
Now is comforted in the garden of Paradise,
And gazes upon her son, Eleutherius.

O Eleutherius, pray for us,
That the gracious God may have mercy on us also.

REFLECTION
For unintentional murder, the earthly court frees the murderer. The Church, however, imposes a penance on someone who commits murder unintentionally: a penance much lighter than that for a voluntary murder, but does not leave him without a penance. If a priest kills unintentionally, the Church places him under a lifelong suspension of priestly functions. Christians with sensitive souls and keen consciences impose upon themselves a more difficult penance than the Church would impose. St. Pardus once came to Jericho as a cart-driver. Leaving his mules in front of an inn, he entered it. At that moment, a child fell under the mule, and the mule trampled the child with its hooves and killed it. When Pardus saw the bloody and dead child killed by his mule, he was so crushed in heart that he felt himself intentionally responsible for the child’s death. And this man of conscience imposed the harshest penance upon himself. He abandoned his trade, left the world and, even though he was relatively young, withdrew to the harsh wilderness, where he undertook a life of difficult asceticism consisting of physical and spiritual labor and repentance. With many tears, he offered repentance to God for the murder of the child. He desired to pay for the life of the child with his own life, and he prayed to God that He would somehow make this possible. He teased a lion so that the lion would tear him apart, but the lion fled from him. He lay on the narrow path on which the lion walked so that he would be killed by the beast, but the lion leapt over him and would not touch him. Seeing, therefore, that it was God’s will for him to live and not perish, he was at peace with himself but remained a contrite penitent until his death. Is not this a sensitive, man-loving and God-fearing soul? Is not this the refined and sharpened conscience of a true Christian?

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the powerful faith of Abraham (Genesis 15):
1. How God promised the childless and aged Abraham many descendants;
2. How God promised him as many descendants as the stars in the heavens;
3. How Abraham believed God, despite everything, and how God counted this for righteousness.

HOMILY on Joseph
And Joseph left his garment in her hand, and fled outdoors (Genesis 39:12).
The innocent and chaste Joseph endured two great and difficult temptations and overcame them: the temptation of wicked envy on the part of his blood brothers, and the temptation of adulterous passion from the Egyptian temptress. Jealousy sold him as a slave, and the passion of adultery drove the innocent one to prison. In both cases he returned good for evil: he gave food to his hungry brothers and preserved the life, throne and people of frightened Pharaoh. His brothers thought to slay him, but God saved him; the adulterous woman thought to destroy him, but God saved him. Out of slavery and imprisonment, God crowned him with glory and unlimited authority. And him whom his evil brothers could have killed with one stroke and whom Potiphar’s powerful wife could have crushed in an instant, God made the unlimited master over the lives of millions of people and the only nourisher of his starving brothers. Such is the wondrous mercy of God toward the righteous. Thus does the Lord know how to save and glorify the innocent and the chaste. In the greatness of the destiny of Joseph, we see the greatness of God’s mercy. There is one eye that never sleeps, my brethren. Let us cling to God and not fear anyone. Let us be innocent and chaste and not fear evil, or slander, or prison, or ridicule, or misfortune. On the contrary, let us rejoice when all of this befalls us because of our innocence and chastity; let us rejoice and await with faith the revelation of God’s wonders toward us. Let us, in every storm, await the thunder of God’s justice—and afterward the calm.

O mysterious Lord, Who secretly but vigilantly accompanies the righteous in slavery and in prison, and manifests Thy mercy in Thine own time, help us to be innocent and chaste.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. 

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