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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost:
The Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils;
The Holy Martyrs Emilian and Hyacinth

Let us, the faithful, praise and worship the Word, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit; born for our salvation from the Virgin.  For He willed to be lifted up on the Cross in the flesh, to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

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!

You descended into hell, O my Savior, shattering its gates as Almighty; resurrecting the dead as Creator, and destroying the sting of death.  You have delivered Adam from the curse, O Lover of Mankind, and we all cry to You: O Lord, save us!

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.

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 4th Tone:
Blessed are You, O Lord God of our Fathers and praised and glorified is Your Name forever.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: Romans 12: 6-14 
Brethren, having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:  if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil.  Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

For the Fathers of the Councils: Hebrews 13:7-16
Brethren, remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.  For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.  We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 

The Alleluia Verses:
The God of gods, the Lord, has spoken and He has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Gather together unto Him His holy ones who have established His covenant upon sacrifices.


Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: Matthew 9: 1-8
At that time, Jesus got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.  Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” - then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”  And he arose and departed to his house.  Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

For the Fathers of the Councils: 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 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."   

From The Prologue
For July 18/31 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Martyr Emilian
During the reign of Julian the Apostate, in the Thracian town of Dorostolon, there lived a young man, Emilian, a servant of the local eparch. When the apostate emperor attempted to destroy Christianity throughout the Roman Empire by fire and sword, his representative came to Dorostolon to kill the Christians, but he did not find a single one. Rejoicing at this, he sponsored a great banquet for the citizens of Dorostolon, and ordered sacrifices to be offered to the idols. The pagan revelry ensued, day and night, throughout the town. That night, St. Emilian roamed the pagan temples, markets and streets of the town, and smashed all of the idols with a sledgehammer. The next day there was great fear in the city. Everyone sought the destroyer of their gods. A peasant passing by the temple that morning was seized. Emilian, seeing that an innocent man would suffer, said to himself: “If I conceal my works, what benefit would I receive from that which I did? Would I not be found before God to be the murderer of that innocent man?” Therefore, he appeared before the emperor’s legate and admitted all. The enraged legate questioned Emilian, asking who had prompted him to do what he had done. The martyr of Christ replied: “God and my soul ordered me to destroy those lifeless pillars that you call gods.” The judge then ordered that Emilian be flogged—and, after flogging and other tortures, ordered him to be burned with fire. Thus ended the earthly life of St. Emilian. He was received into the heavenly life on July 18, 362.

The Venerable Pambo
Pambo was an Egyptian and an ascetic on Mount Nitria. He was a contemporary of St. Anthony the Great, and was himself great in monastic asceticism. He was known particularly for two characteristics: through long training he sealed his lips so that he did not speak one unnecessary word; and he never ate bread except that which he earned with his own hands by weaving reeds. He was like an angel of God and, in later years, his face shone like the face of Moses once did—so much so that the monks were unable to look him in the face. He never gave a quick reply, even to a simple question, without first praying about it and contemplating it in his heart. Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria once visited the monks in Nitria. The monks begged Pambo, saying: “Give the patriarch an edifying word, which would be of benefit to him.” The quiet Pambo replied: “If he does not benefit by my silence, he will not benefit by my word.” Once, St. Pambo traveled throughout Egypt with his monks. They came upon a group of men who remained seated as the monks passed by. St. Pambo addressed them and said: “Arise and greet the monks, that you may receive a blessing from them; for they continually converse with God and their lips are holy.” This glorious saint was able to clearly discern the destiny of both the living and the dead. He reposed in the Lord in the year 386.

The Venerable Paisius and Isaiah
Paisius and Isaiah were brothers of a wealthy family, and were both monks. One became a saint because of his asceticism in the wilderness, and the other because of his works of mercy toward men. St. Pambo saw them both in Paradise. This settled a dispute among the monks concerning the question: Which is better—asceticism and a life of rigorous self-denial, or corporal works of mercy? Both of them lead to Paradise, when performed in the name of Christ.

The Venerable John the Much-suffering
John was a recluse in St. Anthony’s Monastery of the Kiev Caves. For thirty years he was tormented by lustful passions, which he ceaselessly struggled against—until finally he conquered them with God’s help, through touching the relics of St. Moses the Ugrian (July 26). Having conquered impure passion, St. John was infused with an inward heavenly light by which he could see at night as though it were day.

The monks asked Pambo the Blessed:
“Is it good, Father, to praise your neighbor?”
Pambo was silent, then to the brethren replied:
“It is good to praise but it is better to remain silent.”
And again they asked Pambo: “And who is perfect?”
“One who denies his own will, for the sake of God’s will.”
The monks were silent, until one spoke:
“Do not deny us one more reply:
What kind of garment should a monk have?”
“The kind you throw away and no one takes—”
Thus spoke the saint, then closed his mouth;
He guarded his tongue so as not to speak needlessly.
Pambo, all radiant at the hour of his death,
When asked about his life, uttered this:
“I never ate bread I did not earn,
Nor has my soul repented of a single word.”

Which is more pleasing to God: a life of asceticism in the wilderness, or works of mercy? Men of prayer in the wilderness think that a man, living among men, will find it difficult to safeguard the purity of the heart and to direct his mind toward God—no matter how many good works he performs. Yet those who do good works among men say that the man in the wilderness is totally occupied with his own salvation, and does not help in the salvation of others. Two Egyptian brothers, Paisius and Isaiah, inherited a great estate from their parents. They sold the estate, and each took his share of the money. One of them immediately distributed his money to the poor, became a monk, and withdrew into the desert to lead a life of strict asceticism—that through patience, fasting, prayer and purifying his mind from all evil thoughts, he might save his soul. The other brother also became a monk, but did not go to the desert. Instead, he built a small monastery near the town, with a hospital for the sick, a public refectory for the needy and a resting place for the sorrowful. He dedicated himself entirely to the service of his fellow men. When both brothers died, a dispute ensued among the monks of Egypt: which of the two fulfilled the Law of Christ? Unable to agree among themselves, they came to St. Pambo and questioned him about this. St. Pambo replied: “Both are perfect before God: the hospitable one is like the hospitable Abraham, and the ascetic is like Elias the Prophet—both of whom were equally pleasing to God.” Yet not all the monks were satisfied with this response. Then St. Pambo prayed to God to reveal the truth to him. After praying for several days, he said to the monks: “Before God I tell you that I saw both brothers, Paisius and Isaiah, together in Paradise.” With this, the dispute was settled and all were satisfied.

Contemplate the miraculous experience of Balaam (Numbers 22):

1. How Balaam came to prophesy to Balak, the prince of the Moabites;
2. How an angel appeared on the road with a sword and prevented Balaam from advancing;
3. How the ass saw the angel before Balaam did, and spoke to his master.

HOMILY on the remembrance of the imminent putting off of the body
Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me (II Peter 1:13–14).
Here is a good reminder to lovers of the body who, because of their bodies, forget their souls. The body must be cast off from us. No matter how dear we hold it to be, no matter how many precious adornments we hang upon it, no matter how much we caress and pamper it, we must cast it off one day. Oh, how powerful and truthful are the words “cast it off!” When the soul is separated from the body, the soul casts the body off as something no longer necessary. When shipwrecked men reach the shore on a board, they step onto the shore and cast away the board. When spring blossoms, the serpent sheds its skin and casts it off. When a butterfly wings its way out of the cocoon, the cocoon is cast off. In the same manner, the body is cast off when the soul departs from it. No longer of use and without benefit, and even harmful to other men, it is cast out of the house, cast out of the city, cast from the sight of the sun, and is buried deep in the ground. Think about this, you who live in luxury and adorn your bodies; you who are haughty and gluttonous!
As long as the soul is in the body, it should utilize the body for its salvation, submitting to the Law of God and performing the works of God. Do you see how the apostolic soul is a lover of labor? As long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up. This task was given to him by God. He wants to conscientiously complete it to the end before he must put off his body. Brethren, let us labor—first to embrace the apostolic warning; and second, to remind others, all others whom we wish well. We are rapidly approaching the shore of the other world; and the hour swiftly approaches when we must cast off our bodies and, with a naked soul, appear before the Judgment of God. What will we say at the Dread Judgment Seat of God? For what goals will we have used that thing of the earth, the body?
O Lord Jesus, Righteous Judge, direct our minds to think of death and judgment.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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