20th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 3. Hieromartyr Zenobios and his sister Zenobia, of Aegæ in Cilicia (285). Apostles Tertius, Mark, Justus, and Artemas, of the Seventy (1st c.).
Tone 3 Troparion (Resurrection)
Let the heavens rejoice! Let the earth be glad! For the Lord has shown strength with His arm. He has trampled down death by death. He has become the first born of the dead. He has delivered us from the depths of hell, and has granted to the world//great mercy.
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Nicholas)
The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of meekness and a teacher of self-control; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you.// O Father Bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Tone 4 Troparion (Martyrs)
As brother and sister united in godliness together you struggled in contest Zenóbius and Zenobía. You received incorruptible crowns and unending glory// and shine forth with the grace of healing upon those in the world.
Tone 3 Kontakion (Resurrection)
On this day You rose from the tomb, O Merciful One, leading us from the gates of death. On this day Adam exults as Eve rejoices; with the Prophets and Patriarchs// they unceasingly praise the divine majesty of Your power.
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for your people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 8 Kontakion (Martyrs)
Let us honor with inspired hymns the two martyrs for truth: the preachers of true devotion, Zenóbius and Zenobía; as brother and sister they lived and suffered together// and through martyrdom received their incorruptible crowns.
Tone 6 Kontakion (Steadfast Protectress)
Steadfast Protectress of Christians, Constant Advocate before the Creator; Do not despise the cries 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!
Tone 3 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
Sing praises to our God, sing praises! / Sing praises to our King, sing praises! (Ps. 46:6)
V. Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! (Ps. 46:1)
Galatians 1:11-19 (Epistle)
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. In You, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be put to shame! (Ps. 30:1a)
V. Be a God of protection for me, a house of refuge in order to save me! (Ps. 30:2b)
Luke 8:26-39 (Gospel)
Then they 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.
— Wherever you are, you should talk spontaneously to Christ, to Panaghia, to the Angels, to the Saints, and tell them whatever you want. Say, “My Christ, my Panaghia, You know my inclination. Help me!” Just so, simply and humbly, you should constantly speak to them about whatever concerns you and then afterwards, you should say the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
— When you pray, you should think about Who it is you are talking with. You are conversing with God! Is that a small thing? How very careful one is when he speaks to an official! He is careful not to say anything foolish; now and then, he is even tongue-tied, out of reticence. Well then, if one is so careful when he talks with another human being, how much more careful must he be when he talks to God? You see, even a small child will reservedly approach his father of some elderly person in order to talk with them. And if the child is going to speak to his teacher, whom he even fears a little, he will approach him even more reservedly. So how is ti that we cannot be aware of what we are doing when we speak to Christ Himself, to Panaghia, and to the Saints?
— Prayer is to place Christ within our heart, to love Him with all of our being. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they strength, and with all thy mind,” (Lk 10:27) as sacred scripture says. When one loves God and communicates with Him, no earthly things move him. He becomes like a madman. Offer a madman the best music; he is not moved by it. Show him the best works of art; he pays them no attention whatsoever. Offer him the best foods, the best clothing, the best fragrances; he shows no interest in them; he is in a world of his own. That is how it is with one who communicates with the heavenly world; he is glued to heaven and cannot be detached from there by any means. Just as a child cannot be wrested from his mother’s embrace, nor can one who has come to understand the meaning of prayer be wrested from it. What does the child feel within his mother’s embrace? Only one who senses the presence of God, and senses himself as a small child, can comprehend that.
I have known people who, when they pray, feel as small children do. And if one should hear these people when they are praying, he will say that they are small children. These people call upon God in the same simple and bold manner of a little child who runs to tug at this father’s sleeve and says, “I don’t know what you are going to do, but you will do what I am asking of you.”
God is an affectionate Father and He loves us. That is why we should yearn for the hour of prayer to arrive and never have our fill of conversing with Him.
— You should come to feel prayer as a need. Just as the body requires sustenance in order to live, so must the soul be fed, in order for it to live. If the soul is not given sustenance, it weakens, and spiritual death ensues.
— Question: “Elder, sometimes, when I beseech God for something to happen and it does not, I ask myself, ‘I wonder if God hears my prayer?’”
— Answer: The ”I wonder” means that you have doubts about the love of God, and you therefore rescind your petition at the very moment you register it, thereby also losing your place in the line of precedence.
— Question: “Elder, I fret when time has gone by and I have not received an answer.”
—Answer: When we ask for something in our prayer, we must wait patiently. There was one time when my eye had swollen and I was in pain. I went to the icon of Panaghia three times and beseeched her to heal my eye so that I could see to read the Psalms at night. I even took a little oil from her vigil oil-lamp and applied it to my eye, but it did not heal. In a few days, the condition began to worsen; the eye had become more painful and it continued to swell. Fifteen days went by. Then, I went again very reservedly to the icon of Panaghia and said, “Forgive me, my Panaghia, for troubling you again.” I again took a little oil from her vigil oil-lamp and as soon as I applied it to my eye, it was immediately healed. Was it possible that Panaghia could not have healed my eye on the first day? She, however, had seen something and allowed me to suffer. You, too, should beseech humbly and wait patiently. Prayer that is offered with faith, anguish, perseverance, and patience, as long as it is for our own good, is heard.
From the book On Prayer, volume 6 of the series “Spiritual Counsels” of St. Paisios the Athonite