Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, August 2, 2015

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LETTER OF INVITATION FROM HIS GRACE BISHOP MAXIM


WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, August 2, 2015


9th Sunday after Pentecost:
The Holy Prophet Elijah;
Saint Elijah of Georgia


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 the holy prophet elijah – tone four: An angel in the flesh and the cornerstone of the prophets, the second forerunner of the coming of Christ, glorious Elijah sent grace from on high to Elisha, to dispel diseases and to cleanse lepers.  Therefore, he pours forth healings on those who honor him.

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 THE HOLY PROPHET ELIJAH - TONE ONE: Prophet Elijah of great renown, seer of the mighty works of God, by your command you held back the rain!  Pray for us to the only Lover of mankind!

HYMN TO THE MOTHER OF GOD - TONE SIX:  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!

EPISTLE READINGS

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

9th after Pentecost: 1 Corinthians 3: 9-17
Brethren, for we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.  But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.  For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Holy Prophet Elijah: James 5: 10-20
My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.  Indeed we count them blessed who endure.  You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.  But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath.  But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.  Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing psalms.  Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.  Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

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 READINGS

9th after Pentecost: Matthew 14: 22-34
At that time, Jesus immediately made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  Now when evening came, He was alone there.  But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were   troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!”  And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!  It is I; do not be afraid.”  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.”  And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out saying, “Lord, save me.”  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God.”  When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret.

Holy Prophet Elijah: Luke 4: 22-30
At that time, all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.  And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”  He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself!  Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’”  Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.  But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”  So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.  Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

Spiritual Articles
From The Prologue for July 20/August 2 by
St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Prophet Elias
Prophet Elias—the God-seer, miracle-worker and zealot for faith in God—was born of the tribe of Aaron in the town of Tishba, for which he was called the Tishbite. When Elias was born, his father Sabbas saw angels of God hovering around the child, wrapping the child in fire and feeding him flames. That was a foreshadowing of Elias’s fiery character and his God-given fiery power. He spent his entire youth in divine contemplation and prayer, withdrawing frequently into the wilderness to contemplate and pray in tranquility. At that time the Jewish kingdom was divided into two unequal parts: the kingdom of Judah consisting of only two tribes—the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with their capital in Jerusalem; and the kingdom of Israel consisting of the remaining ten tribes, with their capital in Samaria. The former was governed by the descendants of Solomon, and the latter was governed by the descendants of Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon. The greatest confrontation that the prophet Elias had was with the Israelite King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel for they worshiped idols and were turning the people away from serving the One Living God. In addition Jezebel, a Syrian, persuaded her husband to erect a temple to the Syrian god Baal and appointed many priests to the service of this false god. Through great miracles Elias displayed the power and authority of God. He closed up the heavens, so that there was no rain for three years and six months; he called fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice to God, which the pagan priests were unable to do for the false god, Baal; he brought rain by his prayer; he miraculously multiplied flour and oil in the home of the widow at Zarephath, and resurrected her son; he prophesied to Ahab that the dogs would lick up his blood, and to Jezebel that the dogs would consume her flesh—all of which came to pass; and he performed many other miracles, and prophesied other events as well. He spoke with God, and heard the voice of God in the calm after the wind, earthquake and fire on Mount Horeb. Before his death, he designated Elisha as his successor in the prophetic calling; and, with his mantle, he divided the waters of the Jordan. Finally, he was taken up into the heavens in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses. On Mount Tabor he appeared together with Moses beside our Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of the world, Elias will appear again, to put an end to the power of Antichrist (Revelation 11).

Saint Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Saint Flavius, Patriarch of Antioch.
St. Elias and St. Flavius were great zealots for the Faith and defenders of Orthodoxy. They were driven into exile by the heretical Emperor Anastasius, and there they both died. They precisely foresaw the death of Emperor Anastasius, as well as their own passing. They wrote to each other at the same time from places quite far apart: “Anastasius the emperor died today, let us both go before the judgment of God with him.” Two days later, both saints reposed, in the year 518.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Elias the Prophet
O fiery man, Prophet Elias,
You shone on earth with heavenly radiance
And pleased the Lord by your prayers:
You closed the heavens, and from heaven, brought down fire
All with the help of God’s mighty right hand.
You rebuked men for their lack of faith;
And were greatly zealous for the Living God,
And the Church celebrates you as its prophet.
The king did not frighten you and the queen, even less,
For the Lord God was your king and all your wealth:
Food and drink were not your concern.
You were wholly dedicated to God’s providence,
And fearing none, you were fearful to all—
As a powerful lion is to little mice.
You were greatly zealous for the Living God,
And the Church celebrates you as its prophet.
The Lord glorified you as few else,
For you glorified the Living God!
He sent you fire to consume the sacrifice;
He gave you power to raise the dead—
Your mighty works amazed all the world:
All your prophecies were fulfilled.
You were alive and whole in body and soul,
Wherefore death had no part in you.
O prophet of God in both soul and body:
Glory! we exclaim to you with joyful souls.

REFLECTION
Writing about the life of his sister St. Macrina, St. Gregory of Nyssa hesitates to enumerate her miracles, saying: “… that I may not be responsible for the sin of unbelief among weak men.” His term for those who do not believe is “weak.” Truly, there is nothing weaker than a man without faith. The man without faith believes in the power of dead things and dead elements of nature, but does not believe in the power of God or of men of God. This is spiritual dullness, and this dullness is equivalent to spiritual death. Thus, living souls believe and dead souls do not believe. Living souls believe in the powerful miracles of the Prophet Elias. These miracles give them courage and joy, for they know that they are a manifestation of God’s might. When God manifests His might through lifeless things and elements of nature, why would He not manifest it through living and holy men? The Prophet Elias’s appearance on Mount Tabor at the time of the Transfiguration of the Lord in particular gives the faithful the greatest joy. During his life on earth, this great prophet gave proof of the existence of the One and Living God and, by his appearance on Mount Tabor hundreds of years after his departure from the earth, he gave mankind visible proof of life after death.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate God’s miraculous aid to the Israelites in battle (Deuteronomy 2–3):
1. How Moses defeated the pagan kings, Sihon of the Amorites and Og of Basan, for it was God’s will that they perish;
2. How Moses was unable to take the land of Moab, for God did not want this, for the sake of the descendants of the righteous Lot;
3. How victory and defeat in wars do not occur without God’s permission.

HOMILY on the apostle’s personal testimony

This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount (II Peter 1:17–18).

Let us hear the testimony of the true and faithful one who was crucified on a cross because of his testimony. Let us hear the Apostle Peter, who proved what he was unable to prove by his words, by his bloody death on the cross, being crucified upside down by the pagans. He testifies that he was on the holy Mount Tabor when our Lord was transfigured, and Moses with Elias appeared. He testifies that a voice was heard from heaven, saying: This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased (II Peter 1:17). In this text, the apostle does not speak of what he and his companions saw on the holy mountain, which is narrated in the Gospel, but repeats only that which they heard. That which they heard is just as important as that which they saw. Therefore, let mankind hear that the apostles saw the Lord Jesus transfigured in a wondrous, heavenly light, and let them know that He is the Son of God. Let mankind also hear that the apostles saw Moses and Elias alive, and let them know that life after death is real, as is the judgment of God. Let them also hear the Lord Jesus called the Son of God—by God the Father Himself, and not by mere men. Those who speak these words to mankind and relate to them what their eyes saw and what their ears heard, are faithful and true witnesses. He who does not believe the apostles, believes Judas, Caiaphas, Herod and Nero—the persecutors of the apostles and traitors to the truth. He who does not believe in the righteous ones has no alternative but to believe in the unrighteous ones. He who does not believe in the pure ones, must believe in the impure ones. He who does not believe in those who suffer for the truth, must believe in the torturers and libertines. Day does not dawn for any other reason than that mankind may take sides with one or the other.

O Lord, our Savior and Enlightener, enlighten our souls by Thy holy words, for which Thine apostles suffered.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


in the Greek Synaxarion the following miracle of the holy Prophet Elias is recorded: “A certain Paisius, Abbot of the Monastery of the holy Prophet Elias in Jerusalem, came to Costantinople, and from Constantinople went to Belgrade, at the time that Patriarch Paisius was there. At that time there lived in Belgrade an Orthodox Christian who had a Roman Catholic wife. On St. Elias’s day his wife was going to knead bread, but her husband said to her, ‘Today is the Feast of the Prophet Elias, and you shouldn’t work.’ His wife replied that this feast had passed ten days earlier (according to the papal calendar). And so a quarrel arose between them. The stubborn woman kneaded the dough, but lo the wonder! The dough turned to stone in her hands. All the neighbors gathered to see the miracle and each one took a piece of the stone. Paisius also happened to be there, and he likewise took a piece of the stone as evidence of the miracle of God and took it with him to Jerusalem. Paisius placed the stone before an icon of the holy Prophet Elias in his monastery.” 

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 STS. MARARDIJE AND SEBASTIAN
Celebrating Two New American Saints


Dear Reverend Fathers and Council Members,


With this letter I want to share with you the most God-pleasing and most important news of the establishment of new feast days in the Calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session on May 29, 2015, added the names of Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville, and Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovich) of San Francisco and Jackson, clergymen and preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries, to the Dyptich of Saints (Calendar of Saints) of the Orthodox Church. Glory to God! Once again, through the lives of these two saints, we see our Orthodox Church as a faith that produces holy persons, “enriches the world with saints” and insists on an ethos of holiness.

This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world. When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries. The feast of Holy Hierarch Mardarije will be celebrated on November 29/December 12, while that of the Venerable Sebastian will be celebrated on November 17/30.

The Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America plans to celebrate their public and liturgical glorification at St Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, California, on September 5, 2015.

The Serbian Patriarch, His Holiness Irinej, HAS BEEN INVITED AND WILL ATTEND. His Holiness will lead the liturgical festivities, accompanied by the ruling hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in the USA, along with many civil dignitaries and special invited guests.

The program for the festivities can be found here: http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/canonization

With this official invitation we ask you for your presence at a most unique event celebrating these new Serbian American Saints, commemorating the lives of Holy Enlighteners and Apostles of the Church in America.

Please put this date in your calendar in order to be with us on this solemn and important day.

Please let us know if there is anything you need to announce this joyous news to your Community.

With love and esteem in Christ,

Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Western American Diocese

 

 

Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, July 5, 2015

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WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN

Sunday, July 5, 2015
Apostles’ Fast

5th Sunday after Pentecost: The Holy Hieromartyr Eusebius; Venerable Anastasia of Serbia

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 HIEROMARTYR EUSEBIUS - TONE FOUR:  By sharing in the ways of the Apostles, you became a successor to their throne.  Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, O inspired one of God; by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith, even to the shedding of your blood.  Hieromartyr Eusebius, entreat Christ God to save our souls. 

TROPARION TO VENERABLE ANASTASIA OF SERBIA – TONE FOUR: Rich with virtues, adorned with humility and piety, you shined with the purity of your life.  Therefore, God bestowed upon you a blessing in your giving birth to the Enlightener of your people.  Hence, we proclaim unto you: Rejoice, O Venerable Mother Anastasia.

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

KONTAKION TO THE HIEROMARTYR HIEROMARTYR EUSEBIUS - TONE FOUR: You lived piously as a bishop, and trod the path of martyrdom.  You extinguished idolatrous burnt offerings, Hierarch Eusebius.  Since you have boldness before Christ God, entreat Him that our souls may be saved!

KONTAKION TO VENERABLE ANASTASIA OF SERBIA – TONE FOUR: Having lived in honorable marriage, you have preserved purity, teaching your children with meekness that they should love Christ above all; standing now before Him and praying, remember also us who are calling to you: Rejoice, O Venerable Mother Anastasia.

HYMN TO THE MOTHER OF GOD - TONE SIX:
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!

EPISTLE READING

The Prokimenon in the 4th Tone: O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.  

5th after Pentecost: Romans 10: 1-10 
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.  For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”  But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “’Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  But what does it say?  “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The Alleluia Verses: 
Go forth and prosper and reign, because of truth and meekness and righteousness.  You love righteousness and hate iniquity.

GOSPEL READING

5th after Pentecost: Matthew 8: 28 – 9: 1
At that time, when Jesus had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.  And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God?  Have You come here to torment us before the time?”  Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.  So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”  And He said to them, “Go.”  So when they had come out they went into the herd of swine.  And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.  And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.  So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.

SPIRITUAL ARTICLES

From The Prologue for June 22/July 5 by
St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Hieromartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata
Eusebius was a great denouncer of Arianism. When the throne of Antioch became vacant, Meletius was elected patriarch at the insistence of Eusebius. Meletius was a great beacon of the Church, who, after his death, was found worthy of great praise by St. John Chrysostom. However, the Arians quickly banished Meletius from Antioch. When Constantine’s pernicious son Constantius died, another much worse than he was crowned—Julian the Apostate. During Julian’s persecution of Christians, St. Eusebius removed his clerical attire, donned a soldier’s uniform and, under the guise of a soldier, visited the persecuted Church throughout Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, strengthening the Orthodox Faith everywhere and ordaining the necessary priests, deacons and other clergy and, in some places, bishops. Following the turbulent death of Julian, St. Eusebius counseled Meletius to convene a council in Antioch in 361, at which twenty-seven hierarchs were present. The Arian heresy was condemned once more and the Faith of Orthodoxy was proclaimed in the same manner as it had been expressed at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325]. Along with Meletius and Eusebius, St. Pelagius of Laodicea, a well known, chaste and ascetic man, made a great impact at the Council of Antioch. This council was held during the reign of the pious Emperor Jovian. However, Emperor Jovian soon died and the wicked Valens was crowned, and a persecution of Orthodoxy again ensued. St. Meletius was exiled to Armenia, Eusebius to Thrace, and Pelagius to Arabia. After Valens, Gratian was crowned emperor, and he granted freedom to the Church and recalled the exiled hierarchs to their sees. Thus they returned: Meletius to Antioch, Eusebius to Samosata, and Pelagius to Laodicea. At that time many dioceses and parishes were vacant, and Eusebius zealously hastened to find canonical shepherds for the people. When he came to the town of Doliche to enthrone the newly elected bishop, Marinus, and to denounce the Arian heresy (which was strong in that town), a fanatical heretic hurled a ceramic tile at Eusebius’s head and mortally wounded him. Thus this great zealot, saint and martyr of Orthodoxy reposed, to live eternally in the blessedness of Paradise. He suffered in the year 379.

The Holy Martyrs Zeno and Zenas
Zeno was a Roman officer in the Arabian town of Philadelphia, and Zenas was his servant. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Emperor Maximian, St. Zeno boldly appeared before the commander Maximus, confessed his faith in the One Living God, and counseled Maximus to renounce lifeless idols and embrace the only true Faith. The commander became enraged and cast Zeno into prison. When the faithful Zenas visited his master in prison, he was also seized and arrested. Both of them were tortured for Christ and finally thrown into a fire into which the pagans had poured oil. Their souls were crowned with wreaths in the Kingdom of Christ, and their bodily remains were interred in the Church of St. George at a place called Cyparisson.

HYMN OF PRAISE:
Saints Eusebius, Meletius and Pelagius

The Church is never without shepherds,
Nor without suffering, nor without heroes.

When the sharp sword flashed in Goliath-like manner,
The shepherd of Samosata offered resistance.

Eusebius and with him Meletius,
Like two stars—and the third, Pelagius—
Zealots of Holy Orthodoxy,
Glorious saints of God’s Church.

At that time there was suffering for Christians, 
Bitter suffering from both sides.

On one side, the wild heretics;
On the other side, the insane emperors.

It was difficult to preserve one’s soul,
And to uphold the truth of God
Against lies and against violence.

Amidst the tares was a little sweet basil,
A little immortelle, a little feather grass.

Three hierarchs—three fragrant flowers:
Enough honey for all the poison of the world.

Eusebius began as a zealot
And ended his life as a martyr.

O Eusebius, thou high priest,
Bless us, O God-pleaser!

REFLECTION
Why does the good Lord permit assaults and trials to fall on the true Faith, while He permits the pleasure of tranquility to heresies and paganism? “Why?” St. John Chrysostom asks and immediately replies: “So that you might recognize their weakness (i.e., of heresies and paganism)—when you see that they disintegrate on their own without any disturbance—and also be convinced of the power of the Faith that endures misfortunes and even multiplies through its adversaries.” … “Therefore, if we quarrel with the pagans or with the slanderous Jews, it is sufficient to emphasize, as evidence of divine power, that the Faith (Christianity), which was subjected to countless struggles, maintained victory,” even when the entire world stood against her. St. Isaac the Syrian says: “The wondrous love of God toward man is recognized when man is in misfortunes that are destroying his hope. Here God manifests His power for man’s salvation. For man never recognizes the power of God in tranquility and freedom.”


CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the miraculous dumbness of Zacharias the High Priest (Luke 1:20):
1. How Zacharias did not believe the angel of God that the aged womb of his wife could conceive and give birth, and how he was struck dumb because of this, in accordance with the words of the angel;
2. How I too am as though struck dumb when I cannot sufficiently speak about God’s miracles because my faith is small.

HOMILY on how the slothful man excuses himself
The slothful man says: A lion is outside (Proverbs 22:13).
In order to justify his slothfulness, the slothful man emphasizes the difficulties and obstacles of a certain task and magnifies them beyond measure. If a man annoys him, he will say that the entire village annoys him; if the leaves rustle, he will claim that he is unable to go to work because of a storm; if a rabbit is in front of his house, he will say it is a lion! He says this in order to avoid leaving his house, and to delay his work.

Slothfulness is completely contrary to the nature of man. The nature of man is activity; the nature of man seeks to be occupied, to work and to build. Slothfulness is a sure sign of the distortion of nature in a man. That slothfulness is a terrible vice is clear in that the active man is never envious of the slothful man, while the slothful man is envious of the active man; in the same manner, the sober man is not envious of the drunkard, while the drunkard is envious of the sober man.

O Lord, ever-active Creator, save us from the dull and sinful slothfulness by which we distance ourselves from our first-created nature, from Thine image and likeness, O Master of all things! Inspire us with Thy Holy Spirit, ever active and joy-creating.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

From the Synaxarion
The daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV (1168-91), St. Anna was given in marriage to the Great Zhupan of Serbia St. Stefan Nemanja (commemorated February 13), by whom she had three sons: Vukan, Stefan and Rastko—the future St. Sava (commemorated January 14). When her husband became a monk under the name of Symeon, she took the veil in a monastery that she had founded on the right bank of the river Toplitsa, and received the name: Anastasia. Having lived there in devotion and holiness, she entered into rest in peace on the 21st of June, 1200. Her relics are venerated in the Monastery of Studenica. – Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra.

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Holy Missionaries MARDARIJE of Libertyville and SEBASTIAN of Jackson, Newly Proclaimed Saints of the Orthodox Church 

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 STS. MARARDIJE AND SEBASTIAN
Celebrating Two New American Saints


Dear Reverend Fathers and Council Members,


With this letter I want to share with you the most God-pleasing and most important news of the establishment of new feast days in the Calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session on May 29, 2015, added the names of Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville, and Archimandrite Sebastian (Dabovich) of San Francisco and Jackson, clergymen and preachers of the Gospel, God-pleasing servants of holy life, and inspirers of many missionaries, to the Dyptich of Saints (Calendar of Saints) of the Orthodox Church. Glory to God! Once again, through the lives of these two saints, we see our Orthodox Church as a faith that produces holy persons, “enriches the world with saints” and insists on an ethos of holiness.

This is a wonderful blessing for all of us Orthodox Christians in America, and for the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world. When one thinks of the tremendous sacrifices that these two holy apostles made, and the many sorrows that they endured, one is especially gratified that they are now universally recognized as being among the Church’s luminaries. The feast of Holy Hierarch Mardarije will be celebrated on November 29/December 12, while that of the Venerable Sebastian will be celebrated on November 17/30.

The Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America plans to celebrate their public and liturgical glorification at St Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, California, on September 5, 2015.

The Serbian Patriarch, His Holiness Irinej, is invited to lead the liturgical festivities, accompanied by the ruling hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in the USA, along with many civil dignitaries and special invited guests.

The program for the festivities can be found here: http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/canonization

With this official invitation we ask you for your presence at a most unique event celebrating these new Serbian American Saints, commemorating the lives of Holy Enlighteners and Apostles of the Church in America.

Please put this date in your calendar in order to be with us on this solemn and important day.

Please let us know if there is anything you need to announce this joyous news to your Community.

With love and esteem in Christ,

Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Western American Diocese

 

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