Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, November 1, 2015

22nd Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Prophet Joel; 
Venerable Prochorus of Pchinja; Venerable John of Rila

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 PROPHET JOEL - TONE TWO: We celebrate the memory of Your prophet Joel, O Lord; through him we beseech You: save our souls.

TROPARION TO SAINT JOHN OF RILA - TONE ONE: Your life was a foundation of repentance and a model of compunction, an image of consolation and spiritual perfection, equal to the angels, O venerable one.  You persevered in prayer, fasting and tears, O Father John; intercede with Christ God for 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 PROPHET JOEL - TONE FOUR: Illumined by the Spirit, your heart was a vessel of illustrious prophecy, seeing far-off things as though they were present.  Therefore, we venerate you, glorious prophet Joel.

KONTAKION TO SAINT JOHN OF RILA - TONE EIGHT: Imitating the life of the angels and forsaking all earthly things, you fled to Christ, O venerable one.  Protecting yourself with His commandments, you were shown to be an unshakable pillar against the attacks of the enemy.  Therefore, we cry to you: ‘Rejoice, O Father John, most brilliant light!

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!


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

22nd 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.


22nd 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.’”

From The Prologue
For October 19/November 1 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Prophet Joel
Joel is second in the line of the minor prophets. St. Joel was the son of Phanuel, from the tribe of Reuben. He lived eight hundred years before Christ. Joel prophesied the misfortunes of the people of Israel, and the Babylonian Captivity because of the sins they had committed in the sight of God. He called the people to fasting and the priests to tearful penitential prayer, that God would have mercy on them: Sanctify ye a fast … and cry unto the Lord (Joel 1:14); Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar (Joel 2:17). Joel also foretold the Descent of the Spirit of God upon the apostles and the pouring out of the grace of the Spirit of God upon all Christians: Then afterward I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). He prophesied and described the Dread Judgment of God, and also prophesied the glory of God’s Holy Church.

The Holy Martyr Varus
Varus was a Roman officer in Egypt and also secretly a Christian. When seven Christian teachers were cast into prison, Varus visited them, supplying them with necessities and ministering to them zealously. He was amazed at these martyrs and grieved that because of his fear he could not become a martyr for Christ. The men of God encouraged him, and Varus decided that he would go with them to be tortured. One of these men of God died in prison, so that when the wicked eparch had the martyrs brought before him, there were only six remaining. He inquired as to the seventh. Varus said to him: “I am the seventh.” The enraged governor tortured Varus first. He commanded that he be flogged with dry rods naked, and after that had him tied to a tree and sliced apart piece by piece until the saint gave his holy soul to God. His body was thrown on a dung heap. A Palestinian woman named Cleopatra, the widow of an officer, was there with her son John. She secretly took Varus’s holy relics from the dung heap and buried them in her house. Then she begged permission from the eparch to take the body of her deceased husband from Egypt to Palestine. As she was the wife of an officer, the eparch immediately gave his permission. However, the blessed Christian Cleopatra did not take the body of her husband but the relics of the Holy Martyr Varus instead. Thus, she brought the martyr’s relics to Edras (the village of her birth) near Mount Tabor, and buried them with honor there. Afterward, she built a church to St. Varus and he often appeared to her from the other world, resplendent as an angel of God.

The Venerable Prochorus of Pchinja
St. Prochorus was a contemporary and friend of Saints John of Rila and Gabriel of Lesnov. According to his prayer, God showed him the place where he would live a life of asceticism. This place was a wooded area near the River Pchinja. Here Prochorus labored in asceticism to his old age and repose. Only the One All-seeing God knows the extent of Prochorus’s labors and the temptations he endured in the course of his asceticism. But one can judge by his myrrh-gushing relics and his numberless miraculous healings—which have continued up to today—the greatness of his asceticism and the greatness of God’s grace which was given to him because of his great labors. St. Prochorus entered into rest and took up his abode in the Kingdom of God in the eleventh century.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Prochorus of Pchinja
From his early youth, holy Father Prochorus
Hid from the world and from vanity,
Diligently working with fasting and sweat,
Until his soul was raised up and bound to God.

His companions were beasts of the forest;
Resplendent angels were his protection;
The saints of God were astonished at him,
For St. Prochorus attained all that they had attained.

God gave him abundant grace:
Great and powerful authority over demons,
Power over infirmity and varied sufferings,
Help for the sorrowing by his prayers.

By labors, Prochorus seized heaven,
And of the Heavenly Kingdom he became worthy.

He made himself worthy, and helps others
Who seek to enter into the Kingdom.

The temporal he cast off; the eternal he embraced;
And he paid a small price for the precious treasure.

The wonderworker Prochorus is in Paradise—
In heavenly splendor, now entirely aglow.

And he helps those who pray to him,
Those who believe in and love Christ our God.

An appearance of the Holy Martyr Varus: When the devout widow Cleopatra built a church to him, she summoned the bishop and priests to consecrate it. A large number of Christians gathered for this celebration, for the entire countryside venerated St. Varus as a great healer and miracle-worker. Following the divine services, this pious benefactress went before the relics of St. Varus and prayed: “I beseech you—you who endured much suffering for Christ—implore God for that which is pleasing to Him; and for me and my only son, ask that which is beneficial.” Cleopatra’s son John was ready for the army. Just as she left the church, John became ill. He was seized with a burning fever that grew steadily worse until, around midnight, John died. The grief-stricken, furious mother came before the tomb of St. Varus and spoke sharply: “O saint of God! Is this the way you help me?” and she said much more in her bitter lamentation until, utterly exhausted, she fell into a light sleep. St. Varus appeared to her with her son John. Both were radiant as the sun in garments whiter than snow, bound with golden girdles, and had magnificent wreaths on their heads. God’s saint said to her: “Did you not pray to me to implore God for whatever was pleasing to Him, and beneficial to you and your son? I prayed to God and He, in His unspeakable goodness, took your son into His heavenly army. If you so desire, here he is: take him and place him in the army of the earthly king.” Hearing this, the young John embraced St. Varus and said: “No, my Lord, do not listen to my mother and do not send me back into the world—full of unrighteousness and iniquity—from which you have delivered me.” Awakening from the dream, Cleopatra felt great joy in her heart and left the church. She lived near the church for seven years, and St. Varus often appeared to her with John. 

Contemplate Saul’s wondrous conversion to the Christian Faith (Acts 9):
1. How Saul set out to persecute Christians in Damascus;
2. How a light shone down from heaven and He heard the voice of Christ.

HOMILY on the soul’s thirst for God

My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God: When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2).

When only a spark of love for God shines in the heart of man, he should not extinguish it but let it burn, and he will see a miracle. That spark will flare up into a torch of unseen radiance, and the light and its warmth will be very great. In the light of his love for God, a man will feel his life in this world to be as darkness; and from the warmth of his love for God, he will feel an unquenchable thirst for God, a thirst to be closer to God, a thirst for seeing God. David, the lover of God, compares this thirst to the thirst of a deer who races to springs of water. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God. Is not everything around us infirm? Does not everything around us quickly decay? We grab at shadows, we embrace corpses. We pay today for tomorrow’s stench—we pay with gold and silver, sometimes with our honor and conscience, and at times even with our life—for the stench of tomorrow’s decay! This is not love but animal lust. A great soul seeks a subject worthy of love, seeks a subject not susceptible to destruction, decay, decomposition and the filth of transient bodies. That is why King David, the lover of God, emphasizes the Living God. For who, in truth, is mighty and alive save God? God endowed His angels and saints with strength and life: yet all of it is His, and from Him. When shall I come and appear before God? Here is the irresistible yearning of true love for God. Shame on all who say that they believe in God, and love God, while the very thought of death—of leaving this world—drives them wild with fear. O Lord our God, holy, mighty and living—the Source of holiness, the Source of strength, the Source of life—illumine us and warm us with love for Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Source: Western American Diocese