Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, November 16, 2014

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost;
Dedication of the Church of the Great-martyr George in Lydia


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SIX:
The angelic powers were at Your tomb; and the guards became as dead men; and Mary stood by Your grave, seeking Your most pure Body. You did capture hell, not being tempted by it. You did come to the Virgin, granting life. O Lord who did rise from the dead: Glory to You!

TROPARION TO ST. GEORGE – TONE FOUR:
O liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, trophy-bearer, great-martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls may be saved.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE SIX:
When Christ God, the Giver of Life, raised all of the dead from the valleys of misery with His mighty hand, He bestowed resurrection on the human race. He is the Savior of all, the Resurrection, the Life, and God of all.

KONTAKION TO ST. GEORGE – TONE EIGHT:
As we the faithful flee to you for refuge and seek your protection and speedy help, we entreat you, O champion of Christ, that we who sing your praises may be delivered from the snares of the enemy and from every peril and adversary, that we may cry: ‘Rejoice, O martyr George!’

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 6th Tone:
O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance.


23rd Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 2: 4-10 
Brethren, God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

The Alleluia Verses:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the heavenly God.  He will say to the Lord: My Protector and my Refuge; my God, in whom I trust.

GOSPEL READING

23rd Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 8: 26-39
At that time, Jesus and His disciples sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee.  And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time.  And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.  When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg You, do not torment me!”  For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.  For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.  Jesus asked him saying, “What is your name?”  And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.  And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.  Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain.  So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them.  And He permitted them.  Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.  When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.  Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.  And they were afraid.  They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.  And He got into the boat and returned.  Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him.  But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.”  And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. 

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for November 3/16 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:


The Hieromartyr Acepsimas, Bishop of Naeson, and others with him
The eighty-year-old Acepsimas, filled with every Christian virtue, was sitting one day in his home with guests. Just then a child, filled with the Spirit of God, ran up to the aged bishop, kissed him on the head and said: “Blessed is this head, for it will receive suffering for Christ.” This prophecy was soon fulfilled. King Sapor raised a bitter persecution of Christians throughout Persia, and St. Acepsimas was apprehended. He was brought before a prince who was also a pagan priest. As the bishop was arrested and bound, a member of his household asked him what should be done with his home if he were martyred. The saint replied: “It is no longer my home. I am going to a home on high and will not return.” After prolonged interrogation he was thrown into prison. The following day Joseph, a seventy-year-old presbyter, and Aithalas, a deacon, were also imprisoned. After three years of imprisonment and many tortures, Acepsimas was beheaded. Joseph and Aithalas were buried up to their waists in the ground, and the soulless pagans forced Christians to stone them. That night, by God’s providence, Joseph’s body disappeared, and a myrtle tree grew over Aithalas’s body that healed every kind of disease and pain of men. This tree stood for five years before the wicked and envious pagans cut it down. These soldiers of Christ suffered in Persia in the fourth century, during the time of the pagan King Sapor.

The Holy Great-martyr George
On this day we commemorate the translation of the relics of St. George, from Nicomedia, where he suffered at the time of Emperor Diocletian, to the city of Lydda in Palestine. The suffering of this wonderful saint is described on April 23. Anticipating his martyrdom, St. George begged his servant to take his relics to Palestine, where his mother had been born, and where he had distributed his large estate to the poor. The servant did so. During the reign of Emperor Constantine, pious Christians built a beautiful church to St. George in Lydda and, upon the consecration of that church, the relics of the saint were interred there. Innumerable miracles have occurred from these miracle-working relics of St. George, the great-martyr of Christ.

The Venerable Elias the Egyptian

Elias labored in asceticism near Antinoe, the principle city of the Thebaid. For seventy years, he lived among the arid and inaccessible rocks of the desert. He ate only bread and dates and, in his youth, fasted for weeks at a time. He healed all manner of pains and ailments of the people. He eventually became very shaky in his old age, and entered into the joy of his Lord at the age of 110. Elias said: “Guard your mind from evil thoughts concerning your neighbors, knowing that the demons put them there, aiming to blind you to your own sins and prevent you from directing yourself toward God.”

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Great-martyr George
O George the martyr,
O George the victor:
Through suffering, you conquered,
And through death you have been glorified.

You held all things to be of less value
Than truth, O George.

You gave up earthly power and honor,
And stood beside the Living Christ.

O George the martyr,
O George the victor:
Pierced and broken with horrible tortures,
You were sustained by God’s hand.

All your pains were as nothing—
By the power of God’s mighty hand.

We all bow down before you
And glorify your name.

O Martyr George,
O Victor George:
Have mercy on us now,
By your prayers, protect us
Before the throne of Christ God,
Our Almighty Savior;
And pray that we not fear torture,
And that, by patience, we conquer!

REFLECTION

Among the countless miracles of St. George, this one is recorded: On the island of Mytilene there was a church dedicated to St. George the Great-martyr and Trophy-bearer. All the inhabitants of the island would come to this church on the annual feast of their patron saint. Knowing of this, the Saracens of Crete once attacked this island on its feast day, pillaged the island, and enslaved its inhabitants, taking many of them back to Crete. Among the enslaved was a handsome young man, whom the pirates gave to their prince. The prince made him his servant. The young man’s parents were overwhelmed with great sorrow for their son. After a year had passed and St. George’s day came again, the grieving parents, following the ancient custom, prepared a table and entertained many guests. Remembering her son, the poor mother went to the icon of the saint, fell to the ground and began to pray that he somehow deliver her son from slavery. The mother then returned to her guests at the table. The host raised a glass and drank a toast to the honor of St. George. Just then their son appeared among them, holding a decanter of wine in his hand. In amazement and fear, they asked him how he had managed to come to them. He replied that as he was about to serve his master wine in Crete, a knight on horseback appeared before him, pulled him up onto the horse and carried him instantly to his parents’ home. All were amazed, and glorified God and His wonderful saint, George the Commander and Victory-bearer.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous deliverance of Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16):

1. How these holy apostles were cast into the inner prison and their feet were placed in stocks;

2. How they were at prayer, praising God at midnight;

3. How the earth quaked, the chains fell off those who were bound, and the doors of the prison were opened.

HOMILY on Christ as the Head of all the saints

That … He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth (Ephesians 1:10).

Sin causes panic and confusion. A man drowning in sin and vice is like a chicken with its head cut off which, dying, thrashes about convulsively and rushes to and fro. Before Christ’s Incarnation, the whole pagan world was a confused, headless body, dying in convulsions. Christ joined the severed head with the benighted trunk and brought the body of the human race back to life. He is the Head of the heavenly host, and He has always been. And, as the Creating Word of God, He was from the beginning the Head of everything created in the visible world, especially the human race. But sin, like a sword, separated the sinful trunk of Adam from his Head. However, the Lord reconciled heaven and earth in His Incarnation, bringing heaven to earth, and raising earth to heaven, and establishing all of it under His mind, under His headship. Through Christ we are reconciled with the Holy Trinity and the angels of God, with one another, and with the created nature around us. The lost Head has been found and all has been harmoniously arranged beneath it. The Apostle says: We have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16). As the head is to the physical man, so the mind is to the spiritual inner man. Therefore, if we are Christ’s, we must think and judge in all things according to our Head, Jesus Christ, and Him alone. Thinking and judging by Him, we will perceive ourselves as organs of one body that includes other men and the angels: one body, whose Head is Christ. Hence, our love for God is enkindled, and our faith strengthened, and our hope enlightened. Only a sleeping body feels no link with its head. Let us awaken, my brethren, let us awaken while we have time. O Lord Jesus Christ, our All-wise Head, unite us with Thyself. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

THE CHRISTIAN HERITAGE OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
The Spiritual, Historical, and Aesthetic Heart of the
Serbian People

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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, November 9, 2014

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost;
The Holy Martyr Nestor

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FIVE:
Let us, the faithful, praise and worship the Word, coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born for our salvation from the Virgin; for He willed to be lifted upon the Cross in the Flesh, to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

TROPARION TO THE HOLY MARTYR NESTOR - TONE FOUR:
Your holy martyr Nestor, O Lord, through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.  For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.  Through his intercessions save our souls.

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

KONTAKION TO THE HOLY MARTYR NESTOR - TONE TWO:
Having fought the good fight, you won immortal glory, O Nestor: you became a perfect soldier for the Master through the prayers of the martyr Demetrius.  Together with him, you pray unceasingly to Christ God for us all.

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 5th Tone:
You, O Lord, shall protect us and preserve us from this generation forever.

22nd Sunday after Pentecost: Galatians 6: 11-18
Brethren, see with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!  As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.  For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.  But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.  From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.  Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.

The Alleluia Verses:
I will sing of Your mercies, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Your truth from generation to generation.  You have said: Mercy will be established forever, and My truth will be prepared in the heavens.

GOSPEL READING

22nd Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 16: 19-31
The Lord told this parable: “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.  Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’  Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” 

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for October 27/November 9 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Martyr Nestor
In the time of the suffering of St. Demetrius the Myrrh-gusher, there was a young man of Thessalonica, Nestor, who learned the Christian Faith from St. Demetrius himself. At that time Christ’s enemy, Emperor Maximian, organized various games and amusements for the people. The emperor’s favorite in these games was a Vandal by the name of Lyaeus, a man of Goliath-like size and strength. As the emperor’s gladiator, Lyaeus challenged men every day to single combat and slew them. Thus, the bloodthirsty Lyaeus amused the bloodthirsty, idolatrous Maximian. The emperor built a special stage for Lyaeus’s battles, similar to a threshing floor on pillars. Spears, points upward, were planted beneath this platform. When Lyaeus defeated someone in wrestling, he would throw him from the platform onto the forest of spears. The emperor and his pagan subjects cheered as some poor wretch writhed in torment on the spears until he died. Among Lyaeus’s innocent victims were many Christians: when no one volunteered to duel with Lyaeus, by the emperor’s orders Christians were arrested and forced to duel with him. Seeing this horrifying amusement of the pagan world, Nestor’s heart was torn with pain, and he decided to come forward for a duel with the gigantic Lyaeus. But first, he went to prison to see St. Demetrius and sought a blessing from him to do this. St. Demetrius blessed him, signed him with the sign of the Cross on the forehead and on the chest and prophesied to him: “You will defeat Lyaeus, but you will suffer for Christ.” Thus, young Nestor went to duel with Lyaeus. Maximian was present with a multitude of people; everyone felt pity for the young Nestor, who would surely die, and tried to dissuade him from dueling with Lyaeus. Nestor crossed himself and said: “O God of Demetrius, help me!” and with God’s help, he overcame Lyaeus, knocked him down, and threw him onto the sharp spears, where the heavy giant soon found death. Then all the people cried out: “Great is the God of Demetrius!” But the emperor, shamed before the people and sorrowing for his favorite Lyaeus, was greatly angered at Nestor and Demetrius, and commanded that Nestor be beheaded and Demetrius run through with lances. Thus, the Christian hero Nestor ended his earthly life and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of his Lord in the year 306.

The Venerable Nestor the Chronicler
At the age of seventeen, Nestor entered the Monastery of the Kiev Caves while St. Theodosius was still abbot. He wrote the first history of the Russian people, in which he intertwined the history of Russian asceticism. He was distinguished by unusual humility and meekness. In his literary work, he often referred to himself as unworthy, coarse, ignorant and full of every kind of sin. But God, Who knows the hearts of men, glorified this wonderful saint of His. When Nestor entered into rest on October 27, 1114, his relics performed many miracles.

Saint Andrew, Prince of Smolensk
Out of love for Christ, Andrew abandoned the glory and honor of the world, hid himself in a monastery and there, disguised and unknown, served as a sacristan for thirty years. He peacefully entered into rest in the Lord in 1390; his miracle-working relics were found in 1540.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Martyr Nestor
St. Nestor was outraged at evil
And was zealous for the Christian Faith.

The young disciple of St. Demetrius
Seemed young and weak against the terrible Lyaeus,
But he traced the sign of the Cross on himself
And impaled the powerful Lyaeus on a spear.

He had been given power from above,
Like David against Goliath.
“You will conquer, but you will be tortured,
And will lay down your life for Christ.”

Thus Demetrius prophesied to him,
And as he said, so it came to pass.

Nestor jubilantly went to torture,
And wonderfully magnified the wondrous Christ
With sweet words and sweet hymns,
And fervent prayers for the Church.

Great in spirit, small in years,
He did not grieve over his young life;
His blood strengthened the Church,
And Nestor was eternally glorified.

REFLECTION
A miracle of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica: That the saints of God live, clothed in great glory and might in the heavens, Orthodox Christians know, not by their own reasoning, but by the true help and visitations of the saints. At times the saints appear so that men may see and hear them; at times, only to be either seen or heard; at times, though unseen and unheard, they influence our thoughts, our dispositions and our actions. Among the many miracles of St. Demetrius in Thessalonica the following is recorded: A young man named Onesiphorus was appointed to the service of sacristan in the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica. His primary task was to keep an account of the candles and lampadas. This young man began to steal candles, take them home, and then resell them. St. Demetrius appeared to him and said: “Brother Onesiphorus, your action is not pleasing to me, for you are stealing candles. By this, you bring harm to others and especially to yourself. Cease doing this and repent!” Onesiphorus was frightened and ashamed and, for a time, stopped stealing candles. But he eventually forgot himself, and again began to steal candles. One morning, a distinguished man brought some large candles to the tomb of the saint, lit them, prayed and left. Onesiphorus approached the candles and stretched forth his hand with the intention of taking them, but at that moment a voice like thunder roared: “Are you doing that again?!” As though struck by lightning, Onesiphorus fell to the ground, unconscious. When someone came into the church he found him and lifted him up off the floor; he gradually came to himself and related all that had happened. Everyone was astonished, and glorified God.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate Peter’s wondrous journey with the angel of God (Acts 12):

1. How the angel led Peter out of prison and brought him to the city;

2. How they invisibly passed by the first and second guards;

3. How the locked gates of the city opened to them of their own accord.

HOMILY on zeal for the house of God

For the zeal of Thy house has eaten me up and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me (Psalm 69:9).

The heavens are the house of God. The Church of God is the house of God. The bodies of believing people are the house of God. Wherever God is, there is the house of God; and where the house of God is, there is holiness. Men dishonor the holiness of God’s house, and the royal prophet is provoked and burns with zeal. He takes upon himself all the offenses against the holy things of God, and they fall upon him like a fire that enkindles him with even more zeal. Men desecrate the heavens when they do not believe that which God Himself revealed to mankind for the sake of their salvation. When men oppose or pervert the truth, as do the heretics, or when, of their own free will, they conceive of Christ according to their corporeal understanding, or when they have doubts about angels and saints, the Judgment, and the Eternal Kingdom of Christ, and refuse to consider the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners—in all this and more, men attack the house of God and desecrate its holiness like savage animals. This causes zeal against the opponents and the blasphemers of God to rise in the hearts of the righteous. In the same manner, men attack the house of God’s holiness when they behave unworthily toward the Church of God, when they are negligent concerning the Church’s ordinances, when they are slothful toward ecclesiastical commandments and malicious toward the servants of the Church. Again, zeal for the holiness of the house of God is inflamed in the hearts of the righteous and the devout. Finally, the corrupting of the human body, the surrendering to passions, the service of sin, abduction, murder, brutality, drunkenness and other wicked actions, are all attacks on the holiness of God’s house. It is all blasphemy against God and against man. Again, the fervor of the zealots of holiness rises up and shines as a heavenly flame before men. O my brethren, let us look at Christ’s zeal for the holiness of God’s house, and the zeal of the apostles and the Holy Fathers of our Orthodox Church. Let us have more zeal for our salvation than the devil has, day and night, for our destruction.O Lord Jesus Christ, the Model of our zeal for holiness, grant us a spark of Thy zeal that we may be like Thee in zeal, and be saved by Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Commemorated also on this day in the Greek Synaxarion is St. Procla Claudia, Pilate’s wife to whom the Lord appeared in a dream during His trial. Because of this, she tried to persuade her husband not to shed innocent blood, but in vain (cf. Matthew 17:19). She later became a disciple of Christ and was baptized. She suffered much for the name of Christ, but finally reposed peacefully.
THE CHRISTIAN HERITAGE OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
The Spiritual, Historical, and Aesthetic Heart of the
Serbian People

View a PDF of the 
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View Introductory Video 

 

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