Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, April 10, 2016 (2)


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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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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, April 3, 2016


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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, April 3, 2016
Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT (VENERATION OF THE LIFE-GIVING CROSS): SAINT JAMES THE CONFESSOR


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE THREE:
Let the heavens rejoice! Let the earth be glad! For the Lord has shown strength with His arm! He has trampled down death by death! He has become the firstborn of the dead! He has delivered us from the depths of hell, and has granted to the world great mercy!

TROPARION TO THE LIFE-GIVING CROSS - TONE ONE:
O Lord, save Your people, and bless Your inheritance. Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries; and by the virtue of Your Cross, preserve Your habitation.

TROPARION TO SAINT JAMES THE CONFESSOR – TONE FIVE: Shining forth in holy abstinence, you rightly divide the inspired word of truth as a hierarch and minister of God the Word. By your virtuous struggle you revealed and confirmed the grace granted to you, O James, instructing all to venerate the image of the Savior, to whom you pray for us all.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE THREE:
On this day You rose from the tomb, O Merciful One, leading us from the gates of death. On this day Adam exults as Eve rejoices; with the prophets and the patriarchs they unceasingly praise the divine majesty of Your power!

KONTAKION TO THE LIFE-GIVING CROSS - TONE SEVEN:
Now the flaming sword no longer guards the gates of Eden; it has been mysteriously quenched by the wood of the Cross! The sting of death and the victory of hell have been vanquished; for You, O my Savior, have come and cried to those in hell: ‘Enter again into paradise!’

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!’

INSTEAD OF “HOLY GOD…”:
Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship, O Master; and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify.

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 6TH TONE:
O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance.

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT: HEBREWS 4: 14 – 5: 6
Brethren, seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

THE ALLELUIA VERSES:
Remember Your congregation, which You have acquired from old. God is our King before the ages; He has worked salvation in the midst of the earth.

GOSPEL READING

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT: MARK 8: 34 – 9: 1
At that time, when Jesus had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

FROM THE PROLOGUE 
FOR MARCH 21/APRIL 3 BY ST. NIKOLAI VELIMIROVIC:

Saint James, Bishop and Confessor
Neither the place of his birth nor the place where James served as bishop are known. Only this is known: he fulfilled the Law of Christ and spent much time laboring ascetically in strict fasting and prayer. During the reign of Copronymus, James endured great hardships and suffering, such as hunger, imprisonment and ridicule of all sorts at the hands of the iconoclasts. Finally, he gave up his soul to God, Whom he had faithfully served in this life. He lived and suffered in the eighth century.

The Venerable Cyril, Bishop of Catania in Sicily
Born in Antioch, Cyril was a disciple of St. Peter. He governed the flock of Christ well. With the aid of prayer, he had the gift of working many miracles. Once in a place that during the summer had only bitter water, which was unfit to drink, he changed it into sweet, drinkable water through prayer. He reposed peacefully.

Saint Thomas, Patriarch of Constantinople
Thomas lived during the reigns of the Emperors Maurice and Phocas and Patriarchs St. John the Faster and Cyriacus. Because of his great piety and zeal, Thomas attracted the attention of St. John and was advanced to the rank of patriarchal deputy by that saint. Following the death of Cyriacus, Thomas was elected patriarch. At this time, an extraordinary event occurred. Once, when there was a procession with crosses, the crosses began to sway on their own and began to strike one another. All the people were amazed at this. When Patriarch Thomas learned of this, he summoned Theodore the Sykeote, a renowned hermit who possessed the gift of clairvoyance. The patriarch implored Theodore to explain to him what this incident foretold. Theodore prayed to God and revealed to the patriarch that this occurrence portended great misfortunes, both for the Church and for the Greek Empire. These would transpire as a result of internal religious and political dissensions; Christians would fight and annihilate each other. All of this was shortly fulfilled. Thomas implored Theodore to pray for him that God would take him before these tragedies began. “Do you command that I come to you, or shall we meet in the other world before God?” This is how Theodore replied to the patriarch, indicating that the patriarch would die soon. That very same day the patriarch became ill and died. Shortly after him, St. Theodore also reposed. St. Thomas died and took up his habitation with the Lord in 610.

The Venerable Serapion
Serapion was a companion of St. Anthony the Great. He was the abbot of the Monastery of Arsina in the Nitrian wilderness, where there were over eleven thousand monks. Palladius and Sozomenes called him “the Great.” He reposed in about the year 366. St. Serapion wrote: “Do not think that sickness is grievous; only sin is grievous. Sickness accompanies us only to the grave, but sin follows the sinner even after the grave.”

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Serapion
Serapion wanted to save a sinner,
And so took the appearance of a sinner upon himself.
He entered the room of the sinner as if to commit sin,
But before sinning he spoke to her in this manner:
“You wait for a while—we have the entire night—
Until I complete my prayer; then we will proceed to the misdeed!”
Serapion began to read the prayers,
Raising his mind toward God, that it not wander anywhere.
And prayer after prayer he began to recite,
Sigh after sigh he raised to the Most High.
He read the entire Psalter and other prayers,
And began lengthy prayers for the sinner.
He interrupted his prayers with sobbing and sighing,
Until even the sinful woman began to moan,
To groan and sob as never before in her life.
She realized that the saint had not come to commit sin,
But rather to save her from her perversion,
To raise her to God and to cleanse her from filth.
Then the woman exclaimed: “What should I do?
Behold, I am ashamed and repulsed with myself!”
Serapion then gave her instructions
And committed her to the care of wise sisters.
Then he took his path to the wilderness,
Joyful, because a sinful soul had been saved.

REFLECTION
You will hear this kind of justification from many who pursue riches: “When I become rich, I will be able to perform good works!” Do not believe them, for they deceive both you and themselves. St. John Climacus knew in depth the most secret motives of men’s souls when he said: “The beginning of love of money is the pretext of almsgiving and the end of it is hatred of the poor” (Step 16). This is confirmed by all lovers of money, both the very rich and the less rich. The average man says: “If only I had money, I would carry out this and that good work!” Do not believe him. Let him not believe himself. Let him look, as in a mirror, at those who have money and who are not willing to do this or that good work. That is how he would be if he acquired some money. Again, the wise John says: “Do not say that you must collect money for the poor, that through this assistance you might gain the Kingdom. Remember, for two mites the Kingdom was purchased” (Step 16) (cf. Luke 21:2). Truly, the widow in the Gospel purchased it for two mites, and the rich man, before whose gates Lazarus lay, could not purchase it for all of his countless riches. If you have nothing to give to the poor, pray to God that He will give to them, and by this you have performed almsgiving and purchased the Heavenly Kingdom. When St. Basil the New prophesied to the empress, the wife of Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, that she would first give birth to a daughter and then to a son, the empress offered him much gold. The saint refused it. The empress implored him in the name of the Holy Trinity that he take the gold. Then St. Basil took only three pieces of gold and gave it to his needy servant, Theodora, saying: “We do not need too much of these thorns, for they prick much.”

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the Cross:
1. His head, sorely wounded by the thorny wreath;
2. His eyes, closed from pain;
3. His mouth, dry from thirst.

HOMILY on the First and Last Who lives
Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore (Revelation 1:17–18).
Thus says the Lord Jesus to His beloved disciple John in a vision on the island of Patmos. Do not be afraid of what? Do not be afraid of the pagan persecution of the Church. Do not be afraid of the tormentors who persecute My faithful on all sides. Do not be afraid of emperors who raise up persecutions against the Christians. Do not be afraid of this world’s powerful tyrants, who mock and ridicule My humility in My death. Do not be afraid of demons, who blind men with passions so that they cannot see the truth which I brought to the world. Do not be afraid of anything!
How can I not be afraid, O Lord? Why then should we not be afraid when the entire world is armed to the teeth and assembled against us, who are small in number and unarmed?
Do not be afraid, for I am the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega. All of those forces armed against you are nothing but a whirlwind of the dead. I am before time and I am after time; before the beginning of all and after the end of all things that were created, I Am! They are all locked in one span of time, which I measured out to every created thing; and outside of this span of time they cannot extend.
Do not be afraid, for “I was dead; and behold, I am alive.” Do not be afraid, not even of death. I am before death and after death. Death is My servant, and I permit My servant to serve Me in the world. I gave Myself up to My servant for three days and ordered him to release Me, and now I am alive. I am the Master of death as well as of life. I am the Master of time as well as of eternity. Do not be afraid! I am alive forever and ever. And you will be alive with Me. All they who remain faithful to Me and are not afraid will live with Me. Do not be afraid; I am Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:11).
O Lord, eternal and immortal, allow these holy words of Thine to ring always in the souls of Thy faithful whenever a persecution is raised up against Thy Holy Church, so that, holding on to Thy right hand, we may not be afraid.
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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