Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thirtieth Sunday after Pentecost; 
Sunday before Theophany; Venerable Seraphim of Sarov; 
 Saint Sylvester, Bishop of Rome

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. 

THE PREFEAST OF THEOPHANY TROPARION – TONE FOUR: Prepare, O Zebulon!  Make ready, O Nephtali!  Stop your flow, O River Jordan!  Receive with joy the Master who comes to be baptized!  Rejoice with Eve, O Adam!  Do not hide as of old in Paradise!  For He who beheld you naked there has now appeared to clothe you anew!  Christ has come, desiring to renew all creation! 

You loved Christ from your youth, O blessed one, and longing to work for Him alone you struggled in the wilderness in constant prayer and labor.  With penitent heart and great love for Christ you were favored by the Mother of God.  Therefore we cry to you: ‘Save us by your prayers, venerable Seraphim, our father.’ 

You appeared to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence.  Because of your lowliness Heaven was opened to you; because of your poverty, riches were granted to you.  O holy Father Sylvester, pray to Christ our God to save our souls! 

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! 

Forsaking the beauty as well as the corruption of this world, you settled in the monastery of Sarov, O Saint.  There you lived an angelic life, becoming for many the way to salvation.  Therefore, Christ has glorified you, Father Seraphim, enriching you with abundant healing and miracles.  So we cry to you: ‘Save us by your prayers, venerable Seraphim, our father.’ 

The Trinity delights in you, O holy bishop Sylvester!  You are divine thunder, a spiritual trumpet, a planter of the Faith, and destroyer of heresies.  As you ever stand with the angels, entreat Christ without ceasing for us all. 

THE PREFEAST OF THEOPHANY KONTAKION - TONE FOUR: Today the Lord appears in the Jordan and cries to John: “Do not be afraid to baptize Me!  I have come to save Adam, the first-formed man!” 


The Prokimenon in the 6th Tone: 
O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance. 

Sunday before Theophany: 2 Timothy 4: 5-8  
My son Timothy, you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 

The Alleluia Verses:
May God be gracious to us and bless us, and make His face to shine upon us. 


Sunday before Theophany: Mark 1: 1-8
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’”  John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And he preached, saying: “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.  I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

From The Prologue 
January 2/15 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic: 

Saint Sylvester, Bishop of Rome.

Sylvester was born in Rome, and from his early youth was learned in worldly wisdom and in the Faith of Christ. He always conducted his life according to the Gospel commandments. He benefitted much from the instruction of Timothy the priest, whose death for the Faith Sylvester himself witnessed. Observing the example of the heroic sacrifice of his teacher, he was imbued with just such a spirit throughout his entire life. Becoming Bishop of Rome at age thirty, he reformed certain Christian customs. For example, he dispensed with the fast on Saturdays, which had been practiced by many Christians up to that time, and ordered that fasting be observed only on Holy and Great Saturday, as well as on those Saturdays that fall within the fasting seasons. By his prayers and miracles, Sylvester assisted in bringing Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena to the true Faith and baptism. With the Empress Helena he took part in finding the Honorable Cross. He governed the Church of God for twenty years. His earthly life ended honorably and he entered into the Heavenly Kingdom. 

The Venerable Seraphim of Sarov
Seraphim was one of the greatest Russian ascetics, clairvoyant elders and wonderworkers. He was born in 1759 and he reposed in 1833. Seraphim was distinguished by great humility. While the whole world praised him, he referred to himself as “the wretched Seraphim.” 

Saint Theodota
Theodota was the mother of the brothers Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries and Miracle-workers. Theodota lived a God-pleasing life and in such a life she instructed her sons. 

The Venerable Ammon
Ammon was a great ascetic of the fifth century. He was the abbot of the Tabennisiot Monastery in Upper Egypt. Three thousand monks lived the ascetic life under his direction. He possessed the grace-filled gifts of miracle-working and clairvoyance. When a monk once asked him for advice, he said to him: “Be like a convict in prison, as he continually asks, ‘When will the judge come?’ So also should you ask with trembling.” 

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Sylvester

O Lord, most wonderful, Thou art wondrous in Thy saints;
Through Thy saints Thou dost appear mighty and merciful.

Thou shinest through Thy saints like the sun through the stars.

Thou givest strength unto the humble, and dost raise them up to Paradise.

Thou makest the simple wise, and through them dost shame the wise.

Thou comfortest the unfortunate with kindness, and with heaven dost nourish the hungry.

Thou hast saints of every kind;
Thou receivest saints of all ages and from all races,
Without caste, without distinction, the last and the first,
Pure of sin, fruitful in goodness,
Noble souls, kindred to Thy Christ—
These Thou callest saints.

Thou callest everyone to be a saint,
And Thou dost cleanse those who respond,
Washing away their sins, making them white as wool.

In such as these, all heaven rejoices with Thee.

Sylvester was such a one: in him Thou dost rejoice,
And because of him Thou impartest Thy blessing to us. 

How do you respond to those who say that Christ the Miracle-worker cannot fit into our logic? Simply reply: Fit yourself into His logic. In His logic, all eternity fits and all the nobleness of time—and so, if you wish, a place will be found even for you. If a barrel cannot fit into a thimble, you can fit a thimble into a barrel. Blessed Clement of Alexandria says: “Philosophers are children until they become men through Christ. For truth is never merely thinking.” Christ came to correct man and, therefore, man’s logic. He is our Logos and our Logic. That is why we must direct our reason toward Him and not Him toward our reason. He is the One Who corrects our reason. The sun is not regulated according to our clock, but our clock is regulated according to the sun. 


Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Divine Word:

1. How the Triune God created everything by His Word, i.e., by Christ the Lord;

2. How senseless is every man who distances himself from Christ, the Word of God, and in such a man there is no Christ. 

HOMILY on pride

Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

Of all that exists at the four corners of the earth, what, O mortal man, can make us proud except stupidities and demonic illusions? Did we not enter into the world naked and wretched, and are we not going to depart this world in the same manner? Everything that we have, did we not borrow it? And at our death, are we not going to return everything? Oh, how many times has this been said and ignored? The wise Apostle says: For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (I Timothy 6:7). And when we offer the sacrifice to God of ordinary bread and wine, we say: “Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee” (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). For nothing that we have in this world is ours, not even a crumb of bread or a drop of wine—there is nothing that is not of God. In truth, pride is the daughter of stupidity, the daughter of a darkened mind, born of evil ties with the demons.

Pride is a broad window through which all of our merits and good works evaporate. Nothing makes us so empty before men and so unworthy before God as does pride. If the Lord is not proud, why should we be proud? Who has more reason to be proud than the Lord, Who created the world and Who sustains it by His power? And behold, He humbles Himself as a servant, a servant to the whole world—a servant even to death, to death on the Cross!

O humble Lord, burn up within our hearts the devil’s sowing of pride with the fire of Thy Holy Spirit, and plant within it the noble sowing of humility and meekness.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Source: Western American Diocese