Holy Pentecost 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Troparion — Tone 8
Blessed art Thou, O Christ Our God / Thou hast revealed the fishermen as most wise
/ By sending down upon them the Holy Spirit / Through them Thou didst draw the world
into Thy net / O Lover of Man, Glory to Thee!
Kontakion — Tone 8
When the most High came down and confused the tongues, / He divided the nations;
/ But when He distributed the tongues of fire / He called all to unity. / Therefore,
with one voice, we glorify the All-holy Spirit!
With these words we greet the Great and Holy Feast of Pentecost! We gather in our
temple, beautifully festooned with greenery, to recall the moment when the Holy Spirit
was poured out upon the Church and hear the Apostle and Evangelist Luke recount for
us what took place that day in Jerusalem:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly
from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the
entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among
them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy
Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts
And we hear how the Holy Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, fearlessly preaches
to the people, proclaiming to them the fullness of the Good News that is ours in
Jesus Christ and concluding his sermon with these words: “Therefore let the entire
house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah,
this Jesus whom you crucified.” (see Acts 2:14-36).
As we recall the wondrous events of the first Pentecost, we are compelled to recognize
that Pentecost is an event, a moment in the life of the Church that does not remain
in the past history of Christ’s Holy Church. Rather, Pentecost continues each and
every day- and it continues in and for each and every one of us. Gifted with the
Holy Spirit, the Heavenly King, Comforter, and Giver of Life, the Baptized and Chrismated
Christian is called, like Saint Peter and all the Holy Apostles, to proclaim that
Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior who came into the world for us and for
May this year’s Feast of Pentecost provide each one of us with the opportunity to
renew our commitment to the work of the Church which is, as seen on that day of the
first Pentecost, the work of proclaiming the Good News of all that God has done for
us in and through His Son, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ!
With love in the Lord,
Virginmartyr Febronia of Nisibis
Commemorated on June 25
The Virgin Martyr Febronia suffered during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). She
was raised at a monastery in the city of Sivapolis (Assyria). The head of the women’s
monastery was the abbess Bryaena, the aunt of Saint Febronia. Being concerned about
her niece’s salvation, she assigned her a stricter form of life than the other nuns.
According to their monastic rule, on Fridays the sisters put aside their other duties
and spent the whole day in prayer and the reading of Holy Scripture. The abbess usually
assigned the reading to Saint Febronia.
News of her pious life spread throughout the city. The illustrious young widow Hieria,
a pagan, began to visit her, and under the influence of her guidance and prayer she
accepted holy Baptism, bringing her parents and kinsfolk to the Christian Faith.
Diocletian sent a detachment of soldiers to Assyria under the command of Lysimachus,
Selinus and Primus for the destruction of Christians. Selenos, the uncle of Lysimachus,
was noted for his fierce attitude against Christians, but Lysimachus was of a different
frame of mind from him, since his mother had sought to inspire love for the Christian
faith in her son, and she had died a Christian. Lysimachus had discussed with his
kinsman Primus how it would be possible to deliver Christians from the hands of the
torturer. When the detachment of soldiers approached the convent, its inhabitants
hid. There remained only the abbess Bryaena, her helper Thomais and Saint Febronia,
who was seriously ill at the time.
It grieved the abbess terribly that her niece might fall into the hands of the torturers,
who might defile her. She prayed fervently that the Lord would preserve her and strengthen
her in the confession of Christ the Savior. Selinus gave orders to bring him all
the nuns of the convent. Primus with the detachment of soldiers found no one, except
the two old women and Saint Febronia. He regretted that they had not hidden, and
he suggested to the nuns that they flee. But the nuns decided not to leave the place
of their labors and they entrusted themselves to the will of the Lord.
Primus told Lysimachus about the particular beauty of Saint Febronia and advised
him to take her for himself. Lysimachus said that he would not seduce a virgin dedicated
to God, and he asked Primus to hide the other nuns somewhere so that they would not
fall into the hands of Selinus. One of the soldiers overheard the conversation and
told Selinus. They led Saint Febronia off to the military commander with her hands
bound and a chain around her neck. Selinus urged her to deny Christ, promising her
honors, rewards, and marriage with Lysimachus. The holy virgin firmly and fearlessly
answered that she had an Immortal Bridegroom, and she would not exchange Him for
any mortal man. Selinus subjected her to fierce torture. The saint prayed, “My Savior,
do not abandon me in this terrible hour!”
They beat the martyr for a long time, and blood flowed from her wounds. In order
to intensify the suffering of Saint Febronia, they tied her to a tree and set a fire
under it. The tortures were so inhuman, that the people began to demand an end to
the torture, since there was no confession of guilt by the girl. Selinus continued
to mock and jeer at the martyr, but Saint Febronia became silent. Because of weakness
she was unable to utter a word. In a rage Selinus gave orders to tear out her tongue,
smash her teeth, and finally, to cut off both hands and feet. The people were unable
to bear such a horrid spectacle and they left the scene of the torture, cursing Diocletian
and his gods.
Among the crowd was the nun Thomais, who afterwards recorded Saint Febronia’s martyrdom
in detail, and also her student Hieria. She came forth out of the crowd and in the
hearing of all reproached Selinus for his boundless cruelty. He gave orders to arrest
her, but learning that Hieria was of illustrious standing whom he could not readily
subject to torture, he said, “By your speech you have brought on Febronia even greater
torment.” Finally, they beheaded the holy Martyr Febronia.
Departing the place of execution, Lysimachus wept and withdrew to his quarters. Selinus
made ready to eat, but he was not able to take food, and went off to the quiet of
his own chambers. Suddenly, he became like one deranged. Looking up to the heavens,
he raved and bellowed like a bull, then fell down and struck his head on a marble
column and died. When Lysimachus learned of this, he said, “ Great is the God of
the Christians, Who has avenged Febronia’s blood, so unrighteously shed!” He prepared
a coffin, placed the martyr’s body in it, and took it to the convent.
Abbess Bryaena fell senseless, seeing the mutilated remains of Saint Febronia. Later,
she recovered her senses and gave orders to open the convent gates so that all would
be able to come and venerate the holy martyr and glorify God Who had given her such
endurance in suffering for Christ. Lysimachus and Primus renounced their idol worship
and accepted both Baptism and monasticism. Hieria gave her wealth to the convent
and petitioned Abbess Bryaena to accept her at the convent in place of Saint Febronia.
Every year, on the day of the martyric death of Saint Febronia, a solemn feast was
celebrated at the convent. During the time of the all-night Vigil the nuns always
saw Saint Febronia, at her usual place in church. From the relics of Saint Febronia
occurred numerous miracles and healings. The Life of Saint Febronia was recorded
by the nun Thomais, an eyewitness to her deeds.
In the year 363 the relics of Saint Febronia were transferred to Constantinople.
Soon after the death of Saint Febronia, Saint James the Bishop of Nisibis (January
13) built a church and transferred into it a portion of the of the holy martyr’s
Saints Peter and Paul Fast: The Church’s annual Fast in preparation for the Feast
of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul begins each year on the Monday following the
Sunday after Pentecost, this year it begins on Monday, June 12 and concludes after
the Divine Liturgy on Thursday, June 29.
Feast of Saints Peter and Paul: Our annual patronal feast will have the added blessing
of the presence of our Archpastor, His Eminence, Archbishop BENJAMIN. The Archbishop
will join us for Vespers on Wednesday, June 28, at 6:00 p.m. and will lead us in
the celebration of the Festal Divine Liturgy on Thursday, June 29, at 9:00 a.m. The
Festal Liturgy will be followed by a festal luncheon. Mark your calendars and plan
on being present. The patronal feast of a church is celebrated like a little Pascha.
Join us for this special feast!
Welcome Back: We welcome home the members of our parish community who recently traveled
to Project Mexico and Saint Innocent Orphanage. While there, they participated in
the building of two new houses for needy families on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico.
We look forward to hearing more about their experience and their good week on Sunday,
June 11, following the Divine Liturgy.
Fathers Day: There will be a special luncheon in honor of the Fathers of our parish
on Sunday, June 18, following the Divine Liturgy.