Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, March 29, 2015

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2015

Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent: Saint Mary of Egypt; Holy Apostle Aristobulos; Holy Martyr Sabinas 

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE ONE:
When the stone had been sealed by the Jews; while the soldiers were guarding Your most pure Body; You arose on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of heaven therefore cried to You, O Giver of Life: Glory to Your Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Your Kingdom! Glory to Your dispensation, O You who loves mankind.

TROPARION TO ST. MARY OF EGYPT - TONE EIGHT:
The image of God was truly preserved in you, O mother, for you took up the Cross and followed Christ.  By so doing you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away; but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.  Therefore your spirit,       O holy mother Mary, rejoices with the angels.

TROPARION TO THE HOLY MARTYR SABINAS - TONE ONE: With godliness you preached to the ungodly that the Creator of all took flesh without undergoing change.  You excelled in your holy contest, for by meeting death in the river you attained to the Source of incorruption.  Therefore, we praise you, blessed Sabinas.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE ONE:
As God, You arose from the tomb in glory, raising the world with Yourself. Human nature praises You as God, for death has vanished.  Adam exults, O Master!  Eve rejoices, for she is freed from bondage, and cries to You: You are the giver of resurrection to all, O Christ!

KONTAKION TO ST. MARY OF EGYPT - TONE THREE:
Once you were filled with every impurity, but today you have become a bride of Christ through repentance.  Desiring the angelic life, you defeated the demons with the weapon of the Cross!  Therefore, O most glorious Mary, you were made a bride of the Kingdom!

KONTAKION TO THE HOLY MARTYR SABINAS - TONE TWO:  God-bearing Sabinas, you are a divine root, an unfading blossom, a branch heavily-laden with fruit.  Fill with gladness those who honor your memory, and unceasingly pray for us all.


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!

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 8th Tone:
Pray and make your vows before the Lord our God! 

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Hebrews 9: 11-14
Brethren, Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

St. Mary of Egypt: Galatians 3: 23-29
Brethren, before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.  Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The Alleluia Verses:
Come let us rejoice in the Lord!  Let us make a joyful noise to God our Savior!  Let us come before His face with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with psalms! 

GOSPEL READING

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Mark 10: 32-45
At that time, they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them, and they were amazed.  And as they followed they were afraid.  Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him.  And the third day He will rise again.”  Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”  And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other one on Your left, in Your glory.”  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They said to Him, “We are able.”  So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”  And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John.  But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

St. Mary of Egypt: Luke 7: 36-50
At that time, one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him.  And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.  And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”  So he said, “Teacher, say it.”  “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors.  One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.  Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”  And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”  Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.  Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.  But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”  Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”  Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.” 


Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for March 16/29 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Apostle Aristobulus, one of the Seventy Apostles
Born in Cyprus, Aristobulus was the brother of the Apostle Barnabas. He followed the Apostle Paul, who mentions him in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:10). When the great Apostle appointed many bishops throughout the various parts of the world, he appointed Aristobulus as bishop for the British, that is, for England. In Britain the people were savage, heathen and wicked. Aristobulus endured many indescribable tortures, misfortunes and evils among them. They struck and beat him mercilessly, dragged him through the streets, ridiculed, and mocked him. Finally this holy man succeeded, by the power of the grace of God. He enlightened the people, baptized them in the name of Christ the Lord, built churches, ordained priests and deacons, and in the end died there peacefully and entered into the Kingdom of the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served.

The Holy Martyr Sabinus
Sabinus was a Syrian from the city of Hermopolis and an official of that city. At the time of a persecution against the Christians, he withdrew to a mountain with a large number of other Christians and closed himself off in a hut. There he spent his time in fasting and prayer. A certain beggar, who brought him food and for whom Sabinus had done much good, reported him. As Judas did to Christ, so also this unfortunate one betrayed his benefactor for two pieces of gold. Sabinus, along with six others, was apprehended, bound by the soldiers and brought to stand trial. After severe torments, he was cast into the River Nile, where he gave up his soul to God in the year 287.

The Hieromartyrs Trophimus and Thallus
They were born in Syria and were brothers by birth. They openly and freely preached Christ and denounced the folly of the Hellenes and Romans. The enraged pagans decided to stone them to death. However, when they began hurling stones at these two holy brothers, the stones turned back and struck the assailants, and the brothers remained unharmed. Afterward they were both crucified. From their crosses the brothers taught and encouraged those Christians who stood sorrowfully around. After much agony they presented their souls to the Lord, to Whom they had remained faithful to the end. They suffered honorably in the year 300 in the city of Bofor.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saints Trophimus and Thallus

Two blood-brothers imbued by the Spirit,
Illumined and regenerated by faith.

These two brothers, on the cross crucified,
Counseled the masses of right-believing people:

“O brethren, why do you gaze upon us from below?

Do not bitterly weep because of our difficult sufferings!

Christ our Savior, Doer of heroic deeds,
Became the Redeemer because of such sufferings,
The Redeemer of the whole human race.

Listening to Him, we are being saved.

He obeyed the Father, and to the earth descended;
He suffered and resurrected, and into heaven ascended.

To Him we hearken, and we endure sufferings;
Through sufferings we walk into His Kingdom.

Fear not, brethren, either fire or the sword;
The justice of Christ is stronger than the whole world.

Fear not, brethren; neither feel sorrow for yourselves.

Deny yourselves for the sake of eternal salvation.

All sufferings are small, trivial and bearable
Compared to the rewards of Paradise, eternal and sublime.

The world, a false mask, is an insane illusion.

Eternity: that is our true homeland.

Give the world to those who love the lie of the world;
Because of lies, they forfeit life and truth.

But you—seize the pearl above the mud of the world.”

Harken, brethren, to Trophimus and Thallus!


REFLECTION
If we fulfill the Law of God in our thoughts, how much easier will it be for us to fulfill it in our deeds? That is, if we do not transgress the Law of God in our thoughts, how much easier will it be not to transgress it in our deeds? Furthermore, if our hearts are with God, then our tongues, hands, feet—our entire body—cannot be against God. Your heart! Your heart! Prepare your heart for God. Consecrate it to God and worship Him, fulfill the Law of God in it, unite it with God, and all the rest will follow and will be governed by the heart. It is not he who holds a spoke of the wheel that steers the wheel, but he who holds its axis. The heart is the axis of our being. Speaking about the commandments of God, the Venerable Hesychius says: “If you compel yourself to fulfill them in your thoughts, then you will rarely have the need to strain yourself to fulfill them in deed.” That is, if you set your heart on God, as on an axis, then the wheels will easily and comfortably follow the axis. In other words, the entire man will follow after his own heart. Thy law is within my heart (Psalm 40:9), says the all-wise David.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus, how He carried the Cross to Golgotha:

1. How He quietly and patiently carried His Cross;
2. How they took the Cross from Him and gave it to Simon of Cyrene; how Simon carried the Cross, walking after Christ;
3. How He looked upon the women of Jerusalem, who were weeping, and said to them: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children (Luke 23:28), declaring by this His victory and the defeat of His murderers.


HOMILY On Christ’s humiliation as wealth

By faith Moses … esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt … had respect unto the recompense of the reward (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Moses did not want to remain in the palace of Pharaoh nor to be called his adopted son. Desiring more, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25). How different was Moses from his descendants, who for reasons similar to Pharaoh’s condemned the King of Glory to death! All of them would have rather lived one more year in the decaying court of Pharaoh than to travel with God for forty years in the wilderness. Moses left all honors, riches and vanities, which only the wealth of Egypt could provide. At the command of God, Moses started out through the foodless and waterless wilderness with faith that beyond it lay the Promised Land. All of this also means to hold Christ’s humiliation above all the wealth of Egypt.

Christ’s humiliation is what worldly men, who exude a powerful stench of the earth, are ashamed of in Christ. That is Christ’s poverty on earth: His fasting, His vigil, His prayer, His wandering without a roof over His head, His condemnation, His humiliation, and His shameful death. Christ’s humiliation was valued by the apostles, and after them by countless saints, who thought this to be greater wealth than all the riches in the entire world. Following these indignities, the Lord resurrected, opened the gates of heaven and revealed the Promised Land of Paradise, into which He led mankind along the path of His humiliation and through the wilderness of His suffering.

O Lord, glorified and resurrected, help us that we may hold unwaveringly every drop of Thy sweat and Thy blood as a treasure greater than all worldly riches.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.



In the Greek Synaxarion the Venerable Christodulos is also mentioned on this day. He lived a life of asceticism on the island of Patmos, where he built a monastery dedicated to John the Theologian. He died in the year 1111. Many miracles have occurred over his relics.

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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, March 22,2015

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2015

Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent: Saint John Climacus;
The Holy Forty Martyred Youths of Sebaste;
The Holy Forty-two Martyrs of Momishich 

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE EIGHT:
You descended from on high, O Merciful One! You accepted the three day burial to free us from our sufferings! O Lord, our Life and Resurrection: Glory to You!

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 OF THE FORTY HOLY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE - TONE ONE: Together let us honor the holy company united by faith, those noble warriors of the Master of all.  They were divinely enlisted for Christ, and passed through fire and water.  Then they entered into refreshment praying for those who cry: ‘Glory to Him who has strengthened you!  Glory to Him who has crowned you!  Glory to Him who has made you wonderful, O holy forty martyrs!’

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT:
By rising from the tomb You raised the dead and resurrected Adam.  Eve exults in Your Resurrection, and the world celebrates Your rising from the dead, O greatly Merciful One!

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 FORTY HOLY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE - TONE ONE:to the forty holy martyrs of sebaste – tone six: You abandoned all earthly armies, cleaving to the heavenly Master, O forty martyrs of the Lord.  Having passed through fire and water, O blessed ones, you have fittingly received heavenly glory and many crowns.


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!

EPISTLE 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.

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.”

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.”  

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for March 9/22 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
All of them were soldiers in the Roman army and steadfastly believed in the Lord Jesus. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Licinius, they were brought to trial before the commander. When he threatened to strip them of their honors as soldiers, one of them, St. Candidus, responded: “Take away from us not only the honor of being soldiers but also our bodies, for nothing is more dear or honorable to us than Christ our God.” After that, the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. While the servants were hurling stones at the Christians, the stones turned and fell back on the servants, forcefully striking them. One of the stones struck the commander’s face and knocked out his teeth. The torturers, angry as wild beasts, bound all of the holy martyrs and threw them into a lake. They then stationed a guard around the lake to prevent any of them from escaping. There was a terrible frost, and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. To increase their pain and suffering, and to persuade even one of them to deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome, the torturers heated and illumined a bath by the side of the lake in sight of the frozen martyrs. Indeed, one of them was persuaded. He came out of the water and entered the bath. And behold, from heaven there appeared an extraordinary light, which warmed the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs. With that light, thirty-nine wreaths descended from heaven over their heads. Upon seeing this, a guard on the shore removed all his clothes, confessed the name of the Lord Jesus and entered the lake so that he could become worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the betrayer. Indeed, the last wreath descended upon him. The next day the entire town was astonished when they saw that the martyrs were still alive. Then the wicked judges ordered that the lower part of their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water so that the Christians could not recover them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to Peter, the local bishop, and summoned him to gather their relics and remove them from the water. The bishop with his clergy went out in the dark of night and beheld the relics of the martyrs shining brightly in the water. Every bone that was separated from their bodies floated to the top and glowed like a candle. Bishop Peter gathered and honorably buried them. The souls of these martyrs went to the Lord Jesus, Who suffered for all of us and resurrected with glory. They suffered honorably and were crowned with unfading glory in the year 320.

The Venerable Philoromus
He lived and mortified himself in Galatia in the fourth century. It is said about him that he was so perfected in all the virtues that he resembled an angel rather than a man. He was especially glorified because of his patience. He was persecuted by the Emperor Julian the Apostate and suffered much for Christ. After the death of Julian the wicked persecutor of Christ, St. Philoromus lived peacefully, benefitting many. He reposed in his eightieth year.

Saint Caesarius
St. Caesarius (†369), the brother of Gregory the Theologian, was also a theological writer. Among other things he attempted to answer the question: How long a time did Adam and Eve spend in Paradise before their expulsion? Some have determined the time to be six hours; others, twenty-four hours; and still others, three days. St. Caesarius was of the mind that the length of time was forty days. “Because,” he says, “our Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness and during that time He was tempted by the devil. Since the old Adam could not resist the temptation of the devil in the abundance of Paradise, the new Adam resisted the devil valiantly in the hungry and thirsty wilderness.”

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Forty Martyrs

Martyrs in the lake, shackled by frost,
Strongly adhering to the Holy Faith, illumined by hope,
Cried out to their beloved God: “Thou, Who didst astonish the world
By Thine awesome sacrifice and Resurrection—Oh, do Thou enliven us!

The firmament of heaven and all created things glorify Thee;
Behold, the abyss, fire, hail, snow, ice and heat glorify Thee!

Thou didst help the great Moses, Thy servant,
And Joshua Son of Nun, and after that Elisha,
By commanding nature to calm and divide the waters.

Now help Thy faithful as Thou hast until now.

Do not allow the frost to be stronger than man,
That we, Forty Martyrs, not become the subject of scorn.

Oh, Thou canst, if Thou willest, for Thou rulest over all;
Thou, when Thou wantest, canst change ice into heat and heat into ice.

For Thy name, the frost consumes us as an angry beast—
Oh, help us that the name of the Almighty may be praised!”

Martyrs in the lake, shackled by frost,
Were warmed from heaven by God’s light.

Gloriously they fell and remained Forty Martyrs
To the fear, horror and shame of the darkened unbelievers.

REFLECTION

Conceal your spiritual treasures and do not reveal them unnecessarily. Behold how men conceal and hide their material wealth, and how, when forced to reveal how much they have, they always conceal the greater amount and only reveal the lesser. Very few are they who wish to reveal all that they possess, and fewer still are those who would declare that they have more than they actually possess (and these the world considers frivolous and mindless). This clearly shows you how you need to conceal your spiritual wealth, that is, your virtues, good works, fasting, vigils and prayers. Why do not the wise children of this world reveal their material wealth? For two reasons: So that neither would thieves hear of it, nor would evil men be provoked to envy. There also exist envious men and jealous thieves in regard to spiritual treasure. They are the spirits of malice. As soon as you reveal your spiritual treasure, they will endeavor to belittle it and to squander it. Just as soon as you reveal it without need—let us say, out of vanity, so as to be praised—they seize it and disparage it. And you, O rich man of spiritual treasure, will imperceptibly and suddenly become a poor man. Many who were spiritually rich, the saints, made themselves out to be fools before the world so that, by appearing foolish, they would conceal their great wisdom and strength within themselves. Abba Isaiah writes: “Those good works that are performed in secret are more pleasing to God.” St. Nilus of Sinai says: “The covered skin of the body is white, but the uncovered skin is parched and black.” So it is with our concealed and our revealed good works.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus in the hands of God’s enemies gathered together in the home of Caiaphas:

1. How all of them hurriedly sought false witnesses, for they wanted by any means to kill Christ;

2. How they spat in His face and struck Him on the face;

3. How our Lord endured all with unspeakable dignity and without anger.

HOMILY on enduring to the end

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matthew 24:13).

O Lord most wonderful, Thou hast endured all—everything to the end. That is why Thou becamest not only blessed but also the source of blessings for all men who desire good for themselves throughout the ages. The apostles endured all to the end and entered into blessed eternity. The saints willingly endured difficulties and sufferings to the end and were glorified in heaven and on earth. The martyrs willingly endured all pains to the end and became the adopted fellow heirs of the Kingdom of Christ. Every founder of a new organization recruits followers for himself with the promise of good fruits and many pleasures, but deliberately remains silent about the hardships and labors that lead to those fruits and pleasures. Our Lord Jesus is the only one Who spoke the whole truth to His followers—both the bitter and the sweet side of the truth. He did not promise fruits without service, glory without suffering, ultimate rest without the thorny path, victory without struggle, pleasure without bitterness, or the Kingdom without tears and self-denial. Although our Lord enumerated the many difficulties that would befall His followers, in the end He does not abandon them without consolation. He gives meaning to their sufferings and does not leave them in darkness. He says: He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And what that blessing is which awaits those who endure to the end, He Himself has sufficiently revealed. This blessing has been witnessed to even until today and continues to be witnessed to by many saints, who have either appeared in glory to the faithful from the other world or who, while yet in the flesh, were raised in the spirit to a vision of that glory and blessedness which await those who are faithful, elect and persevering. O Lord, Thou art our strength. Help us to endure to the end in the faith that Thou art beside us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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