Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, December 7, 2014


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost; After-feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple; The Holy Great-martyr Catherine of Alexandria


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.


Today is the prelude of the good will of God and the announcement of the salvation of mankind.  The Virgin appears in the temple of God, in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.  Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice, O divine fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!


By your virtues as by rays of the sun you enlightened the unbelieving philosophers, and like the most-bright moon you drove away the darkness of disbelief from those walking in the night; you convinced the queen and also chastised the tyrant, O God-summoned bride, blessed Catherine.  You hastened with desire to the heavenly bridal chamber of the fairest Bridegroom Christ, and you were crowned by Him with a royal crown; standing before Him with the angels, pray for us who keep your most sacred memory. 


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!


Let all of us who love to honor the martyrs form a great choir in praise of the most-wise Catherine, for she preached Christ and trampled the serpent, despising the knowledge of the orators!


The most pure temple of the Savior, His most precious chamber and Virgin; the sacred treasure of the glory of God, is presented today to the house of the Lord.  She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, the one whom the angels of God do praise: Truly this woman is the heavenly tabernacle!


The angels beheld the entrance of the Pure One and were amazed!  How has the Virgin entered into the Holy of Holies?  As you are a living Temple of God let no impure hand touch you, O Mother of God!  But let the lips of all believers sing, constantly magnifying you in joy with the angelic salutation: Truly you are above all creatures, O Pure One!


The Prokimenon in the 1st Tone:       

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us as we have set our hope on You.

26th Sunday after Pentecost: 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: 

God gives vengeance to me and subdues people under me; He magnifies the salvation of the king, and deals mercifully with His Christ, with David and his seed forever. 


26th Sunday after Pentecost: Luke 12: 16-21      

The Lord told this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.  And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’  So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul: ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’  So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” 

Spiritual Articles

From The Prologue for November 24/December 7 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Great-martyr Catherine

Catherine was the daughter of King Constus. After the death of her father, she lived with her mother in Alexandria. Her mother was secretly a Christian who, through her spiritual father, brought Catherine to the Christian Faith. In a vision, St. Catherine received a ring from the Lord Jesus Himself as a sign of her betrothal to Him. This ring remains on her finger even today. Catherine was greatly gifted by God and was well educated in Greek philosophy, medicine, rhetoric and logic. In addition to that, she was of unusual physical beauty. When the iniquitous Emperor Maxentius offered sacrifices to the idols and ordered others to do the same, Catherine boldly confronted the emperor and denounced his idolatrous errors. The emperor, seeing that she was greater than he in wisdom and knowledge, summoned fifty of his wisest men to debate with her on matters of faith and to put her to shame. Catherine outwitted and shamed them. In a rage, the emperor ordered all fifty of those men burned. By St. Catherine’s prayers, all fifty confessed the name of Christ and declared themselves Christians before their execution. After Catherine had been put in prison, she converted the emperor’s commander, Porphyrius, and two hundred soldiers to the true Faith, as well as Empress Augusta-Vasilissa herself. They all suffered for Christ. During the torture of St. Catherine, an angel of God came to her and destroyed the wheel on which the holy virgin was being tortured. Afterward, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to her and comforted her. After many tortures, Catherine was beheaded at the age of eighteen, on November 24, 310. Milk, instead of blood, flowed from her body. Her miracle-working relics repose on Mount Sinai.

The Holy Great-martyr Mercurius

When Emperor Decius once waged war against the barbarians, there was in his army the commander of an Armenian regiment called the Martenesians. This commander was named Mercurius. In battle, an angel of the Lord appeared to Mercurius, placed a sword in his hand, and assured him of victory over his enemies. Indeed, Mercurius displayed wonderful courage, mowing down the enemy like grass. Following this glorious victory Emperor Decius made him chief commander of his army, but envious men reported Mercurius to the emperor for being a Christian, a fact which he did not hide but openly acknowledged before the emperor. Mercurius was tortured harshly and at length; he was cut into strips with knives and burned with fire. An angel of God appeared to him in prison and healed him. Finally, the emperor proclaimed that General Mercurius be beheaded in Cappadocia. When they beheaded him, his body became as white as snow and emitted a most wonderful incense-like fragrance. His miracle-working relics healed many of the sick. This most wonderful soldier of Christ suffered for the Faith sometime between the years 251 and 259 and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of his King and God.

The Holy Virgin Mastridia

Mastridia lived in Alexandria and led a solitary life of prayer and handiwork. A young man, burning with bodily passion toward her, constantly harassed her. Not wanting to sin before God, and since she could not easily be rid of this unrestrained youth, St. Mastridia once asked him what attracted him most to her. He replied: “Your eyes!” Mastridia then took the needle with which she was sewing and put out her eyes. Thus, Mastridia preserved her peace and the young man’s soul. The young man repented deeply, and became a monk.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Great-martyr Catherine
The wise Catherine, an earthly princess,
Became a martyr for Christ the Savior.

Foolish Maxentius offered her life:
If she would consent to become his wife!

The holy Catherine, pure as gold,
Replied to the emperor thus:
“My betrothed is the Risen Christ,
And I desire not the love of a corrupt man.

You seek my body: the rotten seeks corruption,
Even as the incorrupt spirit seeks immortality.
The physical covering must wither away,
The true man takes care for his immortal soul.
Do what you wish, and torture me—
Burn me in the fire, turn me on a wheel;
I cannot renounce my own soul,
Nor worship any but Christ as God.

Remember, O Emperor, soon you will die,
And worms will erupt from your corpse—
Worms will glorify you, worms will eat you,
A curse will accompany you, and a curse will meet you:
For you dare wage war against Christ, Who is mightier than death.

You stand under the Rock, and He will crush you.”

Holy Catherine, Christ’s virgin,
You despised the throne for eternal truth’s sake;
And thus now reign in the Kingdom without end,
And sing with the angels, in the midst of sweet Paradise.


A tale of Elder Barlaam to Ioasaph: The citizens in a certain town had a custom of choosing as king a stranger who did not know their laws and customs. After they had crowned him king, they clothed him in beautiful robes, fed him abundantly and surrounded him with every luxury. However, as soon as one year had elapsed, they deposed their king, stripped him of all his goods and his clothes, and drove him completely naked to a distant island, where he had neither bread nor roof nor companions, and where he would die in misery and humiliation. The citizens of this town would then choose another king, also a stranger and also for one year; then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth and so forth. But it once happened that they chose a very wise and cautious man. He learned from his servants what had happened to the kings of this town after their year. Therefore, over the course of the whole year he zealously gathered food and goods and daily sent them to that island. When the year had run out and when he was stripped of his clothing and cast onto the island, he found himself amidst an enormous quantity of food, silver, gold and precious stones, and continued to live there even better than he lived as king in that town. The interpretation is this: The town represents the world; the citizens represent the evil spirits; the kings are men, either foolish or wise. The foolish men think only of the pleasures of this life, as if it were eternal; but in the end, death cuts everything off and they, naked of all good works, go to hell. The wise, however, perform many good works, and send these good works ahead of them to the other world. At their repose, the wise kings—the good men—depart to that world where their accumulated riches await them, and where they reign in greater eternal glory and beauty than they reigned here on earth. 


Contemplate the wondrous creation of the world (Genesis 2):

1. How God brought all animals, birds and beasts before Adam, to see how he would name them;

2. How Adam gave a name to every animal and every bird and every beast.

HOMILY on Him Who descended and ascended

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things (Ephesians 4:10).

In His love for man, the Lord Jesus Christ lowered Himself so low that He could go no lower; and then raised Himself so high that, in truth, He could go no higher. He descended into the lower parts of the earth (Ephesians 4:9): into hades itself, where He freed the forefathers, prophets and righteous ones, and led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. Completing His work both on earth and in hades, He ascended far above all heavens. The same One Who ascended is the very same One Who descended without any change, except that He descended without a body, and ascended with a body. Therefore, there are not both a Son of God and a Son of Man as heretics have said, but Christ is both the Son of God and the Son of Man—one and the same Person—one and the same God-man, our Savior Jesus Christ. As He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, so He is the same in the depths and in the heights: on earth, in hades, and in the heavens. He abased Himself lower than all men, and raised Himself above all the angelic powers, to show by example the truthfulness of His words: And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:12). If we are not humbled by virtues, then sin will humble us. Virtue leads to voluntary and temporary abasement, but sin leads to irreversible and eternal abasement. O Lord Jesus, Who fills all by Thy power, fill us with the spirit of true humility. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

This Mastridia apparently is not the same as the one who is commemorated on February 7. That Mastridia was from Jerusalem, while this one is from Alexandria. The former fled from scandal to the wilderness, while the latter put out her eyes.

Source: Western American Diocese