St. George Serbian Orthodox Church
Diocese of New Gracanica and Midwestern America
300 Stryker Avenue, Joliet, Illinois 60436
Holy, Glorious Demetrios Commemorated Oct. 6/Nov. 8
Apostle and Evangelist Matthew Nov. 16/29

Commemorated on November 16/29Services in St George church Monday, November 28 - Vespers / confession at 6 pmTuesday, November 29 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am

 

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, was also named Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27); he was one of the Twelve Apostles (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:45; Acts 1:13), and was brother of the Apostle James Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). He was a publican, or tax-collector for Rome, in a time when the Jews were under the rule of the Roman Empire. He lived in the Galilean city of Capernaum. When Matthew heard the voice of Jesus Christ: “Come, follow Me” (Mt. 9:9), he left everything and followed the Savior. Christ and His disciples did not refuse Matthew’s invitation and they visited his house, where they shared table with the publican’s friends and acquaintances. Like the host, they were also publicans and known sinners. This event disturbed the pharisees and scribes a great deal.

Publicans who collected taxes from their countrymen did this with great profit for themselves. Usually greedy and cruel people, the Jews considered them pernicious betrayers of their country and religion. The word “publican” for the Jews had the connotation of “public sinner” and “idol-worshipper.” To even speak with a tax-collector was considered a sin, and to associate with one was defilement. But the Jewish teachers were not able to comprehend that the Lord had “come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mt. 9:13).

Matthew, acknowledging his sinfulness, repaid fourfold anyone he had cheated, and he distributed his remaining possessions to the poor, and he followed after Christ with the other apostles. Saint Matthew was attentive to the instructions of the Divine Teacher, he beheld His innumerable miracles, he went together with the Twelve Apostles preaching to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 10:6). He was a witness to the suffering, death, and Resurrection of the Savior, and of His glorious Ascension into Heaven.

Having received the grace of the Holy Spirit, which descended upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, Saint Matthew preached in Palestine for several years. At the request of the Jewish converts at Jerusalem, the holy Apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel describing the earthly life of the Savior, before leaving to preach the Gospel in faraway lands.

In the order of the books of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew comes first. Palestine is said to be the place where the Gospel was written. Saint Matthew wrote in Aramaic, and then it was translated into Greek. The Aramaic text has not survived, but many of the linguistic and cultural-historical peculiarities of the Greek translation give indications of it.

The Apostle Matthew preached among people who were awaiting the Messiah. His Gospel manifests itself as a vivid proof that Jesus Christ is the Messiah foretold by the prophets, and that there would not be another (Mt. 11:3).

The preaching and deeds of the Savior are presented by the evangelist in three divisions, constituting three aspects of the service of the Messiah: as Prophet and Law-Giver (Ch. 5-7), Lord over the world both visible and invisible (Ch. 8-25), and finally as High Priest offered as Sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (Ch. 26-27).

The theological content of the Gospel, besides the Christological themes, includes also the teaching about the Kingdom of God and about the Church, which the Lord sets forth in parables about the inner preparation for entering into the Kingdom (Ch. 5-7), about the worthiness of servers of the Church in the world (Ch. 10-11), about the signs of the Kingdom and its growth in the souls of mankind (Ch. 13), about the humility and simplicity of the inheritors of the Kingdom (Mt. 18:1-35; 19 13-30; 20:1-16; 25-27; 23:1-28), and about the eschatological revelations of the Kingdom in the Second Coming of Christ within the daily spiritual life of the Church (Ch. 24-25).

The Kingdom of Heaven and the Church are closely interconnected in the spiritual experience of Christianity: the Church is the historical embodiment of the Kingdom of Heaven in the world, and the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church of Christ in its eschatological perfection (Mt. 16:18-19; 28:18-20).

The holy Apostle brought the Gospel of Christ to Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia, and finishing his preaching in Ethiopia with a martyr’s death. This land was inhabited by tribes of cannibals with primitive customs and beliefs. The holy Apostle Matthew converted some of the idol-worshippers to faith in Christ. He founded the Church and built a temple in the city of Mirmena, establishing there his companion Platon as bishop.

When the holy apostle was fervently entreating God for the conversion of the Ethiopians the Lord Himself appeared to him in the form of a youth. He gave him a staff, and commanded him to plant it at the doors of the church. The Lord said that a tree would grow from this staff and it would bear fruit, and from its roots would flow a stream of water. When the Ethiopians washed themselves in the water and ate the fruit, they lost their wild ways and became gentle and good.

When the holy apostle carried the staff towards the church, he was met by the wife and son of the ruler of the land, Fulvian, who were afflicted by unclean spirits. In the Name of Christ the holy apostle healed them. This miracle converted a number of the pagans to the Lord. But the ruler did not want his subjects to become Christians and cease worshiping the pagan gods. He accused the apostle of sorcery and gave orders to execute him.

They put Saint Matthew head downwards, piled up brushwood and ignited it. When the fire flared up, everyone then saw that the fire did not harm Saint Matthew. Then Fulvian gave orders to add more wood to the fire, and frenzied with boldness, he commanded to set up twelve idols around the fire. But the flames melted the idols and flared up toward Fulvian. The frightened Ethiopian turned to the saint with an entreaty for mercy, and by the prayer of the martyr the flame went out. The body of the holy apostle remained unharmed, and he departed to the Lord.

The ruler Fulvian deeply repented of his deed, but still he had doubts. By his command, they put the body of Saint Matthew into an iron coffin and threw it into the sea. In doing this Fulvian said that if the God of Matthew would preserve the body of the apostle in the water as He preserved him in the fire, then this would be proper reason to worship this One True God.

That night the Apostle Matthew appeared to Bishop Platon in a dream, and commanded him to go with clergy to the shore of the sea and to find his body there. The righteous Fulvian and his retinue went with the bishop to the shore of the sea. The coffin carried by the waves was taken to the church built by the apostle. Then Fulvian begged forgiveness of the holy Apostle Matthew, after which Bishop Platon baptized him, giving him the name Matthew in obedience to a command of God.

Soon Saint Fulvian-Matthew abdicated his rule and became a presbyter. Upon the death of Bishop Platon, the Apostle Matthew appeared to him and exhorted him to head the Ethiopian Church. Having become a bishop, Saint Fulvian-Matthew toiled at preaching the Word of God, continuing the work of his heavenly patron.

 

Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers

Commemorated on November 8/21November 21 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am

The Synaxis of the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts, Archangel Michael and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers: Archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jehudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel was established at the beginning of the fourth century at the Council of Laodicea, which met several years before the First Ecumenical Council. The 35th Canon of the Council of Laodicea condemned and denounced as heretical the worship of angels as gods and rulers of the world, but affirmed their proper veneration.

A Feastday was established in November, the ninth month after March (with which the year began in ancient times) since there are Nine Ranks of Angels. The eighth day of the month was chosen for the Synaxis of all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven since the Day of the Dread Last Judgment is called the Eighth Day by the holy Fathers. After the end of this age (characterized by its seven days of Creation) will come the Eighth Day, and then “the Son of Man shall come in His Glory and all the holy Angels with Him” (Mt. 25:31).

The Angelic Ranks are divided into three Hierarchies: highest, middle, and lowest.

The Highest Hierarchy includes: the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.

The six-winged SERAPHIM (Flaming, Fiery) (Is 6:2) stand closest of all to the Most Holy Trinity. They blaze with love for God and kindle such love in others.

The many-eyed CHERUBIM (outpouring of wisdom, enlightenment) (Gen 3:24) stand before the Lord after the Seraphim. They are radiant with the light of knowledge of God, and knowledge of the mysteries of God. Through them wisdom is poured forth, and people’s minds are enlightened so they may know God and behold His glory.

The THRONES (Col 1:16) stand after the Cherubim, mysteriously and incomprehensibly bearing God through the grace given them for their service. They are ministers of God’s justice, giving to tribunals, kings, etc. the capacity for righteous judgment.

The Middle Angelic Hierarchy consists of three Ranks: Dominions, Powers, and Authorities:

DOMINIONS (Col 1:16) hold dominion over the angels subject to them. They instruct the earthly authorities, established by God, to rule wisely, and to govern their lands well. The Dominions teach us to subdue sinful impulses, to subject the flesh to the spirit, to master our will, and to conquer temptation.

POWERS (1 Pet 3:22) fulfill the will of God without hesitation. They work great miracles and give the grace of wonderworking and clairvoyance to saints pleasing to God. The Powers assist people in fulfilling obediences. They also encourage them to be patient, and give them spiritual strength and fortitude.

AUTHORITIES (1 Pet 3:22, Col 1:16) have authority over the devil. They protect people from demonic temptations, and prevent demons from harming people as they would wish. They also uphold ascetics and guard them, helping people in the struggle with evil thoughts.

The Lowest Hierarchy includes the three Ranks: Principalities, Archangels, and Angels:

PRINCIPALITIES (Col 1:16) have command over the lower angels, instructing them in the fulfilling of God’s commands. They watch over the world and protect lands, nations and peoples. Principalities instruct people to render proper honor to those in authority, as befits their station. They teach those in authority to use their position, not for personal glory and gain, but to honor God, and to spread word of Him, for the benefit of those under them.

ARCHANGELS (1 Thess 4:16) are messengers of great and wondrous tidings. They reveal prophecies and the mysteries of the faith. They enlighten people to know and understand the will of God, they spread faith in God among the people, illuminating their minds with the light of the Holy Gospel.

ANGELS (1 Pet 3:22) are in the lowest rank of the heavenly hierarchy, and closest to people. They reveal the lesser mysteries of God and His intentions, guiding people to virtuous and holy life. They support those who remain steadfast, and they raise up the fallen. They never abandon us and they are always prepared to help us, if we desire it.

All the Ranks of the Heavenly Powers are called angels, although each has its own name and position by virtue of their service. The Lord reveals His will to the highest ranks of the angels, and they in turn inform the others.

Over all the Nine Ranks, the Lord appointed the Holy Archangel Michael (his name in Hebrew means “who is like unto God”), the faithful servitor of God, as Chief Commander. He cast down from Heaven the arrogantly proud Lucifer and the other fallen spirits when they rebelled against God. Michael summoned the ranks of angels and cried out, “Let us attend! Let us stand aright before our Creator and do not consider doing what is displeasing unto God!”

According to Church Tradition, and in the church services to the Archangel Michael, he participated in many other Old Testament events.

During the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt he went before them in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Through him the power of the Lord was made manifest, annihilating the Egyptians and Pharaoh who were in pursuit of the Israelites. The Archangel Michael defended Israel in all its misfortunes.

He appeared to Joshua Son of Navi and revealed the will of the Lord at the taking of Jericho (Josh 5:13-16). The power of the great Chief Commander of God was manifest in the annihilation of the 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib (4/2 Kings 19:35); also in the smiting of the impious leader Heliodorus (2 Macc. 3: 24-26); and in the protection of the Three Holy Youths: Ananias, Azarias and Misail, thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to worship an idol (Dan 3:22-25).

Through the will of God, the Chief Commander Michael transported the Prophet Habbakuk (December 2) from Judea to Babylon, to give food to Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan. 14:33-37).

The Archangel Michael disputed with the devil over the body of the holy Prophet Moses (Jude 1:9).

The holy Archangel Michael showed his power when he miraculously saved a young man, cast into the sea by robbers with a stone about his neck on the shores of Mt Athos. This story is found in the Athonite Paterikon, and in the Life of Saint Neophytus of Docheiariou (November 9).

We invoke Saint Michael for protection from invasion by enemies and from civil war, and for the defeat of adversaries on the field of battle. He conquers all spiritual enemies.

Holy Scripture and Tradition give us the names of the Archangels:

Gabriel: strength (power) of God, herald and servitor of Divine omnipotence (Dan 8:16, Luke 1:26). He announces the mysteries of God.

Raphael: the healing of God, the curer of human infirmities (Tobit 3:16, 12:15)

Uriel: the fire or light of God, enlightener (2 Esdras 5:20). We pray for him to enlighten those with darkened minds.

Selaphiel: the prayer of God, impelling to prayer (2 Esdras 5:15). He prays to God for mankind.

Jehudiel: the glorifying of God, encouraging exertion for the glory of the Lord and interceding for the reward of efforts.

Barachiel: distributor of the blessings of God for good deeds, entreats the mercy of God for people.

Jeremiel: the raising up to God (2 Esdras 4:36)

On icons the Archangels are depicted in according to the character of their service:

Michael tramples the devil underfoot, and in his left hand holds a green date-tree branch, and in his right hand a spear with a white banner on which is outlined a scarlet cross, or sometimes a fiery sword.

Gabriel with a branch from Paradise, presented by him to the Most Holy Virgin, or with a shining lantern in his right hand and with a mirror made of jasper in his left.

Raphael holds a vessel with healing medications in his left hand, and with his right hand leads Tobias, carrying a fish for healing (Tobit 5-8).

Uriel in his raised right hand holds a naked sword at the level of his chest, and in his lowered left hand “a fiery flame.”

Selaphiel in a prayerful posture, gazing downwards, hands folded on the chest.

Jehudiel holds a golden crown in his right hand, in his left, a whip of three red (or black) thongs.

Barachiel is shown with a white rose on his breast.

Jeremiel holds balance-scales in his hand.

Each person has a guardian angel (Matt 18:10), and every nation also receives its own guardian angel from God (Dan. 10:13). When a church is consecrated, it also receives a guardian angel (Palladius, Dial. Ch. 10).

 

 

Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers - Troparion & Kontakion

Troparion — Tone 4

Commanders of the heavenly hosts, / we who are unworthy beseech you, / by your prayers encompass us beneath the wings of your immaterial glory, / and faithfully preserve us who fall down and cry to you: / “Deliver us from all harm, for you are the commanders of the powers on high!”

Kontakion — Tone 2

Commanders of God’s armies and ministers of the divine glory, / princes of the bodiless angels and guides of mankind, / ask for what is good for us, and for great mercy, / supreme commanders of the Bodiless Hosts.

 

STs COMSAS and DAMIAN

Services in St George church                             

Commemorated November 1/14

Sunday, November 13 - vespers/confession at 5 pm

Monday, November 14 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am

      Saints Cosmas and Damian were natives of Asia Minor. Their father, a pagan, died while they were still quite small children. Their mother, Theodotia, raised the brothers in Christian piety. The example of their mother and the reading of holy books preserved them in chasteness of life in accord with the command of the Lord, and Cosmas and Damian grew up into righteous and virtuous men.
      Trained and having become skilled as physicians, they acquired a graced gift of the Holy Spirit – to heal by the power of prayer people's illnesses both of body and soul, and they treated even animals. With fervent love for both God and neighbour, the brothers went forth into social service. For the maladies which the brothers treated they never took payment, and they strictly observed the command of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Freely have ye received, freely in turn give" (Mt. 10: 8). The fame of Saints Cosmas and Damian spread throughout all the surrounding region, and people called them – unmercenaries.
      One time the saints were summoned to a grievously ill woman – whom all the doctors had refused to treat because of her seemingly hopeless condition. Through faith Palladia (thus was her name) and through the fervent prayer of the holy brothers, the Lord healed the deadly disease and she got up from her bed perfectly healthy and giving praise to God. In gratitude for being healed and wanting them to accept a small gift from her, Palladia went quietly to Damian. She presented him with three eggs and said: "Take this small gift in the Name of the Holy LifeCreating Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". Hearing the Name of the Holy Trinity, the unmercenary one did not dare to refuse.
      Cosmas, however, when he learned of what had happened, became very sad. He thought that his brother had broken their strict vow. And soon approached the time when Saint Cosmas was to expire to the Lord. Dying, he gave last instructions that his brother should not be buried alongside him. After a short while Saint Damian also died. All were greatly perplexed where Saint Damian's grave should be. But through the will of God a miracle occurred: there came to the people a camel, which the saints had treated for its wildness, and it spoke with an human voice saying – that they should not doubt to put Damian alongside Cosmas – because it was not for the reward that Damian accepted the gift from the woman, but on account of the Name of God. The venerable remains of the holy brothers were buried together at Theremanea (Mesopotamia).
      Many miracles were worked upon the death of the holy unmercenaries. There lived at Theremanea, nearby the church of Cosmas and Damian, a certain man by the name of Malchos. One day in setting off on a distant journey, and leaving behind his wife all alone for what would be a long time – he prayerfully entrusted her to the heavenly protection of the holy brothers. But the enemy of the race of mankind, having taken hold over one of Malchos' friends, planned to destroy the woman. A certain while went by, and this man went to her at home and said that Malchos had sent him, – to take her to him. The woman believed him and went along. He led her to a solitary place and wanted to molest and kill her. The woman – seeing that disaster threatened her – called upon God with deep faith. Two fiercesome men then appeared, and the cunning man let go of the woman, and took to flight: he fell off a cliff! The men led the woman home. At her own home, bowing to them deeply she asked: "What name do they call you? –my rescuers, to whom I shalt be grateful to the end of my days!" "We are the servants of Christ, Cosmas and Damian" – they answered and became invisible. The woman with trembling and with joy told everyone about what had happened with her, and glorifying God she went up with tears to the icon of the holy brothers and offered up prayers of thanks for her deliverance. And from that time the holy brothers were venerated as protectors of the holiness and inviolability of Christian marriage, and as givers of harmony to conjugal life. And from ancient times their veneration spread also to Russia.

 

Holy, Glorious Demetrios Commemorated Oct. 6/Nov. 8

Holy, Glorious Demetrios the Myrrh-gusher of Thessaloniki

The Great Martyr Demetrios (mḗtrios) the Myrrh-gusher of Thessaloniki was the son of Roman proconsul in Thessaloniki. Three centuries had elapsed and Roman paganism, spiritually shattered and defeated by the multitude of martyrs and confessors of the Savior, intensified its persecutions. The parents of Saint Demetrios were secret Christians, and he was baptized and raised in the Christian Faith in secret church in his father’home.

By the time Demetrios had reached maturity and his father had died, Emperor Galerius Maximian had ascended the throne (305). Maximian, confident in Demetrios's education as well as his administrative and military abilities, appointed him to his father’position as proconsul of the Thessaloniki district. The young commander's principal duties were to defend the city from barbarians and to eradicate Christianity. The Emperor's policy regarding Christians was expressed simply: “Put to death anyone who calls on the name of Christ.” The Emperor did not suspect that by appointing Demetrios he had provided him with the opportunity to bring many people to Christ.

Accepting the appointment, Demetrios returned to Thessaloniki and confessed and glorified our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of persecuting and executing Christians, he began to teach the Christian Faith openly to the inhabitants of the city and to overthrow pagan customs and the worship of idols. The compiler of his Life, Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), says that because of his teaching zeal he became “second Apostle Paul” for Thessaloniki, particularly since “the Apostle to the Gentiles” founded the first community of believers in the city (Thess. and Thess.).

The Lord also destined Saint Demetrios to follow Saint Paul on the path to martyrdom. When Maximian learned that the newly-appointed proconsul was Christian, and that he had converted many Roman subjects to Christianity, the Emperor's rage knew no bounds. Returning from campaign in the area of the Black Sea, the Emperor decided to lead his army through Thessaloniki, determined to massacre the Christians.

Learning of this, Saint Demetrios ordered his faithful servant Lupus to give his wealth to the poor saying, “Distribute my earthly riches among them, for we shall seek heavenly riches for ourselves.” He began to pray and fast, preparing himself for martyrdom.

When the Emperor came into the city, he summoned Demetrios, who boldly confessed himself Christian and denounced the falsehood and futility of Roman polytheism. Maximian ordered Demetrios to be thrown into prison. An Angel appeared to him, comforting and encouraging him.

Meanwhile the Emperor amused himself by staging games in the circus. His champion was German by the name of Lyaeos. He challenged Christians to wrestle with him on platform built over the upturned spears of the victorious soldiers. brave Christian named Nestor went to the prison to Saint Demetrios, his instructor in the Faith, asking for his blessing to fight the barbarian. With the blessing and prayers of Saint Demetrios, Nestor defeated the fierce German and hurled him from the platform onto the spears of the soldiers, just as the murderous pagan would have done with the Christian. The enraged commander ordered the execution of the holy Martyr Nestor (October 27) and sent guard to the prison to kill Saint Demetrios. At dawn on October 26, 306 soldiers appeared in the Saint's underground prison and ran him through with lances. His faithful servant, Saint Lupus, gathered up the blood-soaked garment of Saint Demetrios he took the imperial ring from his finger, symbol of his high status, and dipped it in the blood. With the ring and other holy things sanctified the blood of Saint Demetrios, Saint Lupus began to heal the infirm. The Emperor ordered his soldiers to arrest and kill him.

The body of the holy Great Martyr Demetrios was cast out for wild animals to devour, but the Christians took it and secretly buried it in the earth.

During the reign of Saint Constantine (306-337), church was built over the grave of Saint Demetrios. hundred years later, during the construction of majestic new church on the old spot, the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. Since the seventh century, miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh has been found beneath the crypt of the Great Martyr Demetrios, so he is called “the Myrrh-gusher.”

The Saint Demetrios Memorial Saturday was established for church-wide remembrance of the soldiers who fell in the Battle of Kulikovo. This memorial service was held for the first time at the Trinity-Saint Sergius monastery on October 20, 1380 by Saint Sergius of Radonezh, in the presence of Great Prince Demetrios of the Don. It is an annual remembrance of the heroes of the Battle of Kulikovo, among whom are the Schema-monks Alexander (Peresvet) and Andrew (Oslyab).

Saint Demetrios is regarded as protector of the young, and is also invoked by those struggling with lustful temptations.

https://stgocjil.orthodoxws.com/images/1026demetrios-greatmartyr.jpg?1667734385

 

 

American Serbian Social Club Upcoming Activities

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Venerable Paraskevḗ (Petka) of Serbia, Oct. 26-27

Services at St George church in Joliet: Wednesday, October 26 - Vigil / confession at 6 pmThursday, October 27 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am Inter Orthodox Bible Study in our church from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm Topic: Gospel of St Matthew. 

 

 

Saint Paraskevḗ the New was born into a pious family, living during the eleventh century in the village of Epivato, between Silistra and Constantinople. Her older brother Euthymius became a monk, and later he was consecrated as Bishop of Matidia. One day, while attending the divine services, the words of the Lord pierced her heart like an arrow, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself” (Mt. 16:24). From that time she began to distribute her clothing to the needy, for which reason she endured much grief from her family.

Upon the death of her parents, the saint was tonsured into monasticism at the age of fifteen. She withdrew to the Jordanian desert where she lived the ascetic life until she reached the age of twenty-five. An angel of the Lord ordered her to return to her homeland, so she stayed at Epivato for two years.

Saint Paraskevḗ departed to the Lord at the age of twenty-seven, and was buried near the sea. Because of the many miracles which took place at her grave, her relics were uncovered and found to be incorrupt. They were placed in the church of the Holy Apostles at Epivato, where they remained for about 175 years.

Saint Paraskevḗ’s relics were moved to Trnovo, Bulgaria in 1223 and placed in the cathedral. Patriarch Euthymius wrote her Life and established the day of her commemoration as October 14. The Turks occupied Bulgaria in 1391, and her relics were given to Mircea the Elder, Prince of the Romanian Land (one of the districts of Romania). In 1394 the relics were given to Princess Angelina of Serbia (July 30), who brought them to Belgrade. For 120 years Saint Paraskevḗ’s relics rested in Constantinople in the patriarchal cathedral.

On June 13, 1641, her incorrupt relics were transferred to the monastery of the Three Hierarchs at Jassy in Rumania, where many healings took place. On December 26, 1888, after being rescued from a fire, Saint Paraskevḗ’s relics were moved again. This time they were placed in the new cathedral at Jassy, where they remain until the present day.

Inter-Orthodox Bible Studay begins Oct. 13

Inter Orthodox Bible study will be held twice each month beginning Thursday, Oct. 14. CLICK HERE for details.

The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

Commemorated on September 14/27Services in St George church: Monday, September 26 - Vigil and procession of the holy cross at 6 pmTuesday, September 27 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am

The pagan Roman Emperors tried to obliterate the holy places where our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and rose from the dead, so that they would be forgotten. Emperor Hadrian (117-138) ordered that Golgotha and the Lord's Sepulchre be buried, and that a temple in honor of the pagan "goddess" Venus and a statue of Jupiter be placed there.

Pagans gathered at this place and offered sacrifice to idols. Eventually after 300 years, by Divine Providence, the Christian holy places, the Sepulchre of the Lord, and the Life-giving Cross, were discovered and opened for veneration. This took place under Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) after his victory over Maxentius (in 312), who ruled the Western part of the Roman Empire, and over Licinius, the ruler of its Eastern part. In the year 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire.

In 313 Saint Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, by which Christianity was legalized and persecutions against Christians in the Western half of the Empire were stopped. Although Licinius had signed the Edict of Milan in order to oblige Constantine, he continued his cruel persecutions against Christians. Only after his conclusive defeat did the Edict of Milan extend also to the Eastern part of the Empire. The Holy Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine, triumphing over his enemies in three wars, with God’s assistance, had seen the Sign of the Cross in the heavens. Written beneath were the words: “By this you shall conquer.”

Ardently desiring to find the Cross upon which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, Saint Constantine sent his mother, the pious Empress Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, providing her with a letter to Saint Makarios, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Saint Helen journeyed to the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior, building more than 80 churches, at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings, and where the Mother of God was buried after her Dormition.

Although the holy Empress Helen was no longer young, she set about completing the task with enthusiasm. In her search for the Life-giving Cross, she questioned both Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful. Finally, she was directed to a certain elderly Jew named Jude who stated that the Cross was buried beneath the temple of Venus. They demolished the pagan temple and, after praying, they began to excavate the ground. Soon the Lord's Tomb was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, and a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body (March 6).

In order to discover on which of the three crosses the Savior had been crucified, Patriarch Makarios alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched the dead man, he was restored to life. After witnessing the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-giving Cross had been found.

Christians came in a huge crowds to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching Saint Makarios to lift the Cross, so that those far off could see it. Then the Patriarch and other spiritual leaders lifted the Holy Cross, and the people prostrated themselves before the Honorable Wood, saying “Lord have mercy." This solemn event occurred in the year 326.

During the discovery of the Life-giving Cross another miracle took place: a woman who was close to death was healed by the shadow of the Holy Cross. The elderly Jude (October 28) and other Jews believed in Christ and were baptized. Jude was given the name Kyriakos, and later he was consecrated as the Bishop of Jerusalem. He suffered a martyr’s death for Christ during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363).

Saint Helen took part of the Life-giving Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. Saint Constantine ordered a majestic and spacious church to built at Jerusalem in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The church was built in ten years. Saint Helen did not survive until the dedication of the church, she reposed in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross was established.

Another event connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its return to Jerusalem from Persia after a fourteen year captivity. During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Phokas (602-610) the Persian king Khozróēs II attacked Constantinople defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem, capturing both the Life-giving Cross of the Lord and the Holy Patriarch Zachariah (609-633).

The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years, and only under Emperor Herakleios (610-641), who defeated Khozróēs and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Lord's Cross returned to the Christians.

With great solemnity the Life-giving Cross was transferred to Jerusalem. Emperor Herakleios, wearing a crown and his royal purple garments carried the Cross of Christ. The Emperor was accompanied by Patriarch Zachariah. At the gates by which they ascended Golgotha, the Emperor stopped suddenly and was unable to proceed. The holy Patriarch explained to the Emperor that an Angel of the Lord was blocking his way. Herakleios was told to remove his royal trappings and to walk barefoot, since He Who bore the Cross for the salvation of the world had made His way to Golgotha in all humility. Then Herakleios donned plain clothes, and without further hindrance, carried the Cross of Christ into the church.

In a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross, Saint Andrew of Crete (July 4) says: “The Cross is exalted, and everything true is gathered together, the Cross is exalted, and the city makes solemn, and the people celebrate the feast."

Holy Prophet Elias, July 20/ Aug. 2

THE HOLY PROPHET ELIAS (ILIAS) (ELIJAH)
Commemorated on July 20/August 2
Services at St George church:
August 1 - Vigil/confession at 6 pm
August 2 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am
The Holy Prophet Elias (Ilias) (Elijah) – one of the greatest of the prophets and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament – he was born in Galaadian Thesbia (Tishbe) into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God.
Sainted Epiphanios of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elias: "When Elias was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision, that handsome men greeted him, they swaddled him in fire and fed the fiery flame". The name Elias (the Lord's strength) given to the infant defined his whole life. From the years of his youth he dedicated himself to the One God, settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, Divine-meditation and prayer. Called to prophetic service afront the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of the true faith and piety. During this time the Israelite nation had fallen away from the faith of their fathers, they abandoned the One God and worshipped pagan idols, the worship of which was introduced by the impious king Jereboam. An especial advocate of idol-worship was the wife of king Ahab, the paganess Jezebel. The worship of the idol of Baal led the Israelites towards complete moral decay. Beholding the ruin of his nation, the Prophet Elias began to denounce king Ahab for impiety, and exhorting him to repent and turn to the True God. The king would not listen to him. The Prophet Elias then declared to him, that in punishment there would then be neither rain nor dew upon the ground, and the dryness would cease only through his prayer. And indeed, through the prayer of the prophet the heavens were closed, and there befell drought and famine throughout all the land. The nation suffered from the incessant heat and hunger. The Lord through His mercy, seeing the suffering of the people, was prepared to forgive all and send rain upon the earth, but did not want to annul the words of the Prophet Elias, sorrowed with the desire to turn about the hearts of the Israelites to repentance and return them to the true worship of God. Having saved the Prophet Elias from the hands of Jezebel, the Lord during this time of tribulation sent him into a secret place of the stream Horath. The Lord ordered rapacious ravens to bring food to the prophet, moving him to pity for the suffering nation. When the stream Horath dried up, the Lord sent the Prophet Elias to Sidonian Sarepta to a poor widow, who suffered together with her children in the expectation of death by starvation. At the request of the prophet she prepared him a bread with the last measure of flour and the remainder of the oil. Thereafter through the prayer of the Prophet Elias, flour and oil were not depleted in the home of the widow for all the duration of the famine. By the power of his prayer the prophet did another miracle – he resuscitated the dead son of the widow. After the end of three years of drought the Merciful Lord sent the prophet to king Ahab to bring an end to the misfortune. The Prophet Elias gave orders to gather upon Mount Carmel all Israel and the pagan-priests of Baal. When the nation had gathered, the Prophet Elias proposed the building of two sacrificial altars: one – for the pagan-priests of Baal, and the other – for the Prophet Elias in the service of the True God. "Upon whichever shalt come down upon it fire from the heavens, that one wilt be shewn to have the True God, – said the Prophet Elias, – and all shalt be obliged to worship Him, and if not invoking Him shalt be given over to death". The prophets of Baal rushed off first to offer sacrifice: they called out to the idol from morning till evening, but in vain – the heavens were silent. Towards evening the holy Prophet Elias built up his sacrificial altar from 12 stones – the number of the tribes of Israel; he placed the sacrifice upon the fire-wood, gave orders to dig a ditch around the altar and commanded that the sacrifice and the fire-wood be soaked with water. When the ditch had filled with water, the fiery prophet turned to God with a prayer and asked, that the Lord send down fire from the heavens to teach the wayward and obdurate Israelite people and turn their hearts to Himself. Through the prayer of the prophet there came down fire from the heavens and it fell upon the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and even the water. The people fell down to the ground, crying out: "In truth the Lord is the One God and there is no other besides Him!". Then the Prophet Elias had put to death all the pagan-priests of Baal and he began to pray for the sending down of rain. Through his prayer the heavens opened and there came down an abundant rain, watering the parched earth.

King Ahab acknowledged his error and repented his sins, but his wife Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet of God. The Prophet Elias fled into the kingdom of Judea and, grieving over his failure to eradicate idol-worship, he asked of God his death. An Angel of the Lord came before him, strengthened him with food and commanded him to go upon a long journey. The Prophet Elias went for forty days and nights and, having arrived at Mount Horeb, he settled in a cave. Here after a terrible storm, an earthquake and a burst of flame the Lord appeared "in a quiet wind" (3 Kings 19: 12) and revealed to the grieving prophet, that He preserved seven thousand faithful servants who were not worshippers of Baal. The Lord commanded the Prophet Elias to anoint Elisei (Elisha) unto prophetic service. Because of his fiery zeal for the Glory of God the Prophet Elias was taken up alive to Heaven on a fiery chariot. The Prophet Elisei (Elisha) began with the testimony of the ascent of the Prophet Elias to the heavens on a fiery chariot and received together with his fallen-down mantle (cloak) a gift of prophetic spirit twice as great, than the Prophet Elias had possessed.
According to the tradition of Holy Church, the Prophet Elias will be a Fore Runner of the Terrible Second Coming of Christ upon the earth and during the time of preaching will be a sign of bodily death.
The life of the holy Prophet Elias is recorded in the Old Testament books (3 Kings; 4 Kings; Sirach/Ecclesiastes 48: 1-15; 1 Maccabees 2: 58). At the time of the Transfiguration [Preobrazhenie] the Prophet Elias conversed with the Saviour upon Mount Thabor (Tabor) (Mt. 17: 3; Mk. 9: 4; Lk. 9: 30).
For the day of the fiery ascent to Heaven of the Prophet Elias his veneration in the Church of Christ was constant over the centuries. The Russian Orthodox Church venerates the Prophet Elias among the saints. The first church, built at Kiev under prince Igor, was in the name of the Prophet Elias. After Baptism the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles princess Ol'ga (Comm. 14 July) built a temple of the holy Prophet Elias in his native region, at the village of Vibuta.
The iconographic tradition portrays the Prophet Elias rising up on a chariot with fiery wheels, which are encircled on all sides with flames and harnessed to four winged horses.

The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul Commemorated on June 29/ July 12

The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul

Sermon of Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Today the Holy Church piously remembers the sufferings of the Holy Glorious and All-Praised Apostles Peter and Paul.

Saint Peter, the fervent follower of Jesus Christ, for the profound confession of His Divinity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” was deemed worthy by the Savior to hear in answer, “Blessed art thou, Simon ... tell thee, that thou art Peter [Petrus], and on this stone [petra] build My Church” (Mt.16:16-18). On “this stone” [petra], is on that which thou sayest: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” it is on this thy confession build My Church. Wherefore the “thou art Peter”: it is from the “stone” [petra] that Peter [Petrus] is, and not from Peter [Petrus] that the “stone” [petra] is, just as the Christian is from Christ, and not Christ from the Christian. Do you want to know, from what sort of “rock” [petra] the Apostle Peter [Petrus] was named? Hear the Apostle Paul: “Brethren, do not want ye to be ignorant,” says the Apostle of Christ, “how all our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (Cor.10: 1-4)....

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the final days of His earthly life, in the days of His mission to the race of man, chose from among the disciples His twelve Apostles to preach the Word of God. Among them, the Apostle Peter for his fiery ardor was vouchsafed to occupy the first place (Mt.10:2) and to be as it were the representative person for all the Church. Therefore it is said to him, preferentially, after the confession: “will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in the heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth: shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt.16: 19). Therefore it was not one man, but rather the One Universal Church, that received these “keys” and the right “to bind and loosen.” And that it was actually the Church that received this right, and not exclusively single person, turn your attention to another place of the Scriptures, where the same Lord says to all His Apostles, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit” and further after this, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whose soever sins ye retain, are retained” (John 20: 22-23); or: “whatsoever ye bind upon the earth, shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosened in heaven” (Mt.18:18). Thus, it is the Church that binds, the Church that loosens; the Church, built upon the foundational cornerstone, Jesus Christ Himself (Eph 2:20), doth bind and loosen. Let both the binding and the loosening be feared: the loosening, in order not to fall under this again; the binding, in order not to remain forever in this condition. Therefore “Iniquities ensnare man, and everyone is bound in the chains of his own sins,” says Wisdom (Prov 5:22); and except for Holy Church nowhere is it possible to receive the loosening.

After His Resurrection the Lord entrusted the Apostle Peter to shepherd His spiritual flock not because, that among the disciples only Peter alone was pre-deserved to shepherd the flock of Christ, but Christ addresses Himself chiefly to Peter because, that Peter was first among the Apostles and as such the representative of the Church; besides which, having turned in this instance to Peter alone, as to the top Apostle, Christ by this confirms the unity of the Church. “Simon of John” -- says the Lord to Peter -- “lovest thou Me?” -- and the Apostle answered: “Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that love Thee”; and second time it was thus asked, and second time he thus answered; being asked third time, seeing that as it were not believed, he was saddened. But how is it possible for him not to believe That One, Who knew his heart? And wherefore then Peter answered: “Lord, Thou knowest all; Thou knowest that love Thee.” “And sayeth Jesus to him” all three times “Feed My sheep” (John 20:15-17).

Besides this, the triple appealing of the Savior to Peter and the triple confession of Peter before the Lord had particular beneficial purpose for the Apostle. That one, to whom was given “the keys of the kingdom” and the right “to bind and to loose,” bound himself thrice by fear and cowardice (Mt.26:69-75), and the Lord thrice loosens him by His appeal and in turn by his confession of strong love. And to shepherd literally the flock of Christ was acquired by all the Apostles and their successors. “Take heed, therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock,” the Apostle Paul urges church presbyters, “over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28); and the Apostle Peter to the elders: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, but of ready mind: neither as being lords over God’heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when is appeared the Prince of pastors, ye will receive unfading crowns of glory” (Pet. 5:2-4).

It is remarkable that Christ, having said to Peter: “Feed My sheep,” did not say: “Feed thy sheep,” but rather to feed, good servant, the sheep of the Lord. “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (Cor.1:13). “Feed My sheep”. Wherefore “wolfish robbers, wolfish oppressors, deceitful teachers and mercenaries, not being concerned about the flock” (Mt.7:15; Acts 20:29; Pet 2:1; John 10:12), having plundered strange flock and making of the spoils as though it be of their own particular gain, they think that they feed their flock. Such are not good pastors, as pastors of the Lord. “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11), entrusted to Him by the chief Shepherd Himself (Pet 5:4). And the Apostle Peter, true to his calling, gave his soul for the very flock of Christ, having sealed his apostleship by martyr’death, is now glorified throughout all the world.

The Apostle Paul, formerly Saul, was changed from robbing wolf into meek lamb. Formerly he was an enemy of the Church, then is manifest as an Apostle. Formerly he stalked it, then preached it. Having received from the high priests the authority at large to throw all Christians in chains for execution, he was already on the way, he breathed out “threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1), he thirsted for blood, but “He that dwells in the Heavens shall laugh him to scorn” (Ps 2:4). When he, “having persecuted and vexed” in such manner “the Church of God” (1Cor.15:9; Acts 8:5), he came near Damascus, and the Lord from Heaven called to him: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” and am here, and am there, am everywhere: here is My head; there is My body. There becomes nothing of surprise in this; we ourselves are members of the Body of Christ. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me; it is hard for thee to kick against the goad” (Acts 9:4-5). Saul, however, “trembling and frightened”, cried out: “Who art Thou, Lord?” The Lord answered him, “am Jesus Whom thou persecutest.”

And Saul suddenly undergoes change: “What wantest Thou me to do?” -- he cries out. And suddenly for him there is the Voice: “Arise, and go to the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). Here the Lord sends Ananias: “Arise and go into the street” to man, “by the name of Saul,” and baptize him, “for this one is chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9: 11, 15, 18). This vessel must be filled with My Grace. “Ananias, however, answered: Lord, have heard from many about this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints in Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Thy Name” (Acts 9:13-14). But the Lord urgently commands Ananias: “Search for and fetch him, for this vessel is chosen by Me: for shall show him what great things he must suffer for My name’sake” (Acts 9:11, 15-16).

And actually the Lord did show the Apostle Paul what things he had to suffer for His Name. He instructed him the deeds; He did not stop at the chains, the fetters, the prisons and shipwrecks; He Himself felt for him in his sufferings, He Himself guided him towards this day. On single day the memory of the sufferings of both these Apostles is celebrated, though they suffered on separate days, but by the spirit and the closeness of their suffering they constitute one. Peter went first, and Paul followed soon after him. Formerly called Saul, and then Paul, having transformed his pride into humility. His very name (Paulus), meaning “small, little, less,” demonstrates this. What is the Apostle Paul after this? Ask him, and he himself gives answer to this: “am,” says he, “the least of the Apostles... but have labored more abundantly than all of them: yet not I, but the grace of God, which was with me” (Cor.15:9-10).

And so, brethren, celebrating now the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, remembering their venerable sufferings, we esteem their true faith and holy life, we esteem the innocence of their sufferings and pure confession. Loving in them the sublime quality and imitating them by great exploits, “in which to be likened to them” (Thess 3: 5-9), and we shall attain to that eternal bliss which is prepared for all the saints. The path of our life before was more grievous, thornier, harder, but “we also are compassed about with so great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12: 1), having passed by along it, made now for us easier, and lighter, and more readily passable. First there passed along it “the author and finisher of our faith,” our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Heb 12: 2); His daring Apostles followed after Him; then the martyrs, children, women, virgins and great multitude of witnesses. Who acted in them and helped them on this path? He Who said, “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 5).

 

Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John

The Nativity of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The Gospel (Luke. 1: 5) relates that the righteous parents of Saint John the Baptist, the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth (September 5), lived in the ancient city of Hebron. They reached old age without having children, since Elizabeth was barren. Once, Saint Zachariah was serving in the Temple at Jerusalem and saw the Archangel Gabriel, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. He predicted that Saint Zachariah would father son, who would announce the Savior, the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had doubts that in old age it was possible to have son, and he asked for sign. It was given to him, and it was also chastisement for his unbelief. Zachariah was struck speechless until the time of the fulfillment of the archangel’words.

Saint Elizabeth came to be with child, and fearing derision at being pregnant so late in life, she kept it secret for five months. Then her relative, the Virgin Mary, came to share with her Her own joy. Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” was the first to greet the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. Saint John leaped in his mother’womb at the visit of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and the Son of God incarnate within Her.

Soon Saint Elizabeth gave birth to son, and all the relatives and acquaintances rejoiced together with her. On the eighth day, in accordance with the Law of Moses, he was circumcised and was called John. Everyone was amazed, since no one in the family had this name. When they asked Saint Zachariah about this, he motioned for tablet and wrote on it: “His name is John.” Immediately his tongue was loosed, and Saint Zachariah glorified God. He also prophesied about the Coming into the world of the Messiah, and of his own son John, the Forerunner of the Lord (Luke. 1: 68-79).

After the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the worship of the shepherds and the Magi, wicked king Herod gave orders to kill all male infants. Hearing about this, Saint Elizabeth fled into the wilderness and hid in cave. Saint Zachariah was at Jerusalem and was doing his priestly service in the Temple. Herod sent soldiers to him to find out the abode of the infant John and his mother. Zachariah answered that their whereabouts were unknown to him, and he was killed right there in the Temple. Righteous Elizabeth continued to live in the wilderness with her son and she died there. The child John, protected by an angel, dwelt in the wilderness until the time when he came preaching repentance, and was accounted worthy to baptize the Lord.

Holy Pentecost, 50 days after Resurrection Commemorated on June 12

In the Church’annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is “the last and great day.” It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end—the achievement and fulfillment—of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the “birthday” of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.

This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the “day without evening” of God’eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to “appropriate” these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.

THE VIGIL OF PENTECOST

The all-night Vigil service begins with solemn invitation:

Let us celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit,
The appointed day of promise, and the fulfillment of hope,
The mystery which is as great as it is precious.”

In the coming of the Spirit, the very essence of the Church is revealed:

The Holy Spirit provides all,
Overflows with prophecy, fulfills the priesthood,
Has taught wisdom to illiterates, has revealed fishermen as theologians,
He brings together the whole council of the Church.”

In the three readings of the Old Testament (Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29; Joel 2:23-32; Ezekiel 36:24-28) we hear the prophecies concerning the Holy Spirit. We are taught that the entire history of mankind was directed towards the day on which God “would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.” This day has come! All hope, all promises, all expectations have been fulfilled. At the end of the Aposticha hymns, for the first time since Easter, we sing the hymn: “Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth...,” the one with which we inaugurate all our services, all prayers, which is, as it were, the life-breath of the Church, and whose coming to us, whose “descent” upon us in this festal Vigil, is indeed the very experience of the Holy Spirit “coming and abiding in us.”

Having reached its climax, the Vigil continues as an explosion of joy and light for “verily the light of the Comforter has come and illumined the world.” In the Gospel reading (John 20:19-23) the feast is interpreted to us as the feast of the Church, of her divine nature, power and authority. The Lord sends His disciples into the world, as He Himself was sent by His Father. Later, in the antiphons of the Liturgy, we proclaim the universality of the apostles’ preaching, the cosmical significance of the feast, the sanctification of the whole world, the true manifestation of God’Kingdom.

THE VESPERS OF PENTECOST

The liturgical peculiarity of Pentecost is very special Vespers of the day itself. Usually this service follows immediately the Divine Liturgy, is “added” to it as its own fulfillment. The service begins as solemn “summing up” of the entire celebration, as its liturgical synthesis. We hold flowers in our hands symbolizing the joy of the eternal spring, inaugurated by the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the festal Entrance, this joy reaches its climax in the singing of the Great Prokeimenon:

Who is so great God as our God?”

Then, having reached this climax, we are invited to kneel. This is our first kneeling since Easter. It signifies that after these fifty days of Paschal joy and fulness, of experiencing the Kingdom of God, the Church now is about to begin her pilgrimage through time and history. It is evening again, and the night approaches, during which temptations and failures await us, when, more than anything else, we need Divine help, that presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who has already revealed to us the joyful End, who now will help us in our effort towards fulfillment and salvation.

All this is revealed in the three prayers which the celebrant reads now as we all kneel and listen to him. In the first prayer, we bring to God our repentance, our increased appeal for forgiveness of sins, the first condition for entering into the Kingdom of God.

In the second prayer, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us, to teach us to pray and to follow the true path in the dark and difficult night of our earthly existence. Finally, in the third prayer, we remember all those who have achieved their earthly journey, but who are united with us in the eternal God of Love.

The joy of Easter has been completed and we again have to wait for the dawn of the Eternal Day. Yet, knowing our weakness, humbling ourselves by kneeling, we also know the joy and the power of the Holy Spirit who has come. We know that God is with us, that in Him is our victory.

Thus is completed the feast of Pentecost and we enter “the ordinary time” of the year. Yet, every Sunday now will be called “after Pentecost”—and this means that it is from the power and light of these fifty days that we shall receive our own power, the Divine help in our daily struggle. At Pentecost we decorate our churches with flowers and green branches—for the Church “never grows old, but is always young.” It is an evergreen, ever-living Tree of grace and life, of joy and comfort. For the Holy Spirit—“the Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life—comes and abides in us, and cleanses us from all impurity,” and fills our life with meaning, love, faith and hope.

Father Alexander Schmemann (1974)

 

 

The Ascension of our Lord Commemorated on June 2

"

AND ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN....”

V. Rev. George Florovsky, D.D.

ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God, and Your God” (John 20:17).

In these words the Risen Christ described to Mary Magdalene the mystery of His Resurrection. She had to carry this mysterious message to His disciples, “as they mourned and wept” (Mark 16:10). The disciples listened to these glad tidings with fear and amazement, with doubt and mistrust. It was not Thomas alone who doubted among the Eleven. On the contrary, it appears that only one of the Eleven did not doubt—Saint John, the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” He alone grasped the mystery of the empty tomb at once: “and he saw, and believed” (John 20:8). Even Peter left the sepulcher in amazement, “wondering at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:12).

The disciples did not expect the Resurrection. The women did not, either. They were quite certain that Jesus was dead and rested in the grave, and they went to the place “where He was laid,” with the spices they had prepared, “that they might come and anoint Him.” They had but one thought: “Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulcher for us?” (Mark 16:1-3; Luke 24:1). And therefore, on not finding the body, Mary Magdalene was sorrowful and complained: “They have taken away my Lord, and know not where they have laid Him” (John 20:13). On hearing the good news from the angel, the women fled from the sepulchre in fear and trembling: “Neither said they anything to any man, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). And when they spoke no one believed them, in the same way as no one had believed Mary, who saw the Lord, or the disciples as they walked on their way into the country, (Mark 16:13), and who recognized Him in the breaking of bread. “And afterward He appeared unto the Eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them who had seen Him after He was risen” (Mark 16:10-14).

From whence comes this “hardness of heart” and hesitation? Why were their eyes so “holden,” why were the disciples so much afraid of the news, and why did the Easter joy so slowly, and with such difficulty, enter the Apostles’ hearts? Did not they, who were with Him from the beginning, “from the baptism of John,” see all the signs of power which He performed before the face of the whole people? The lame walked, the blind saw, the dead were raised, and all infirmities were healed. Did they not behold, only week earlier, how He raised by His word Lazarus from the dead, who had already been in the grave for four days? Why then was it so strange to them that the Master had arisen Himself? How was it that they came to forget that which the Lord used to tell them on many occasions, that after suffering and death He would arise on the third day?

The mystery of the Apostles’ “unbelief” is partly disclosed in the narrative of the Gospel: “But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel,” with disillusionment and complaint said the two disciples to their mysterious Companion on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:21). They meant: He was betrayed, condemned to death and crucified. The news of the Resurrection brought by the women only “astonished” them. They still wait for an earthly triumph, for an exernal victory. The same temptation possesses their hearts, which first prevented them from accepting “the preaching of the Cross” and made them argue every time the Saviour tried to reveal His mystery to them. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). It was still difficult to understand this.

He had the power to arise, why did He allow what that had happened to take place at all? Why did He take upon Himself disgrace, blasphemy and wounds? In the eyes of all Jerusalem, amidst the vast crowds assembled for the Great Feast, He was condemned and suffered shameful death. And now He enters not into the Holy City, neither to the people which beheld His shame and death, nor to the High Priests and elders, nor to Pilate—so that He might make their crime obvious and smite their pride. Instead, He sends His disciples away to remote Galilee and appears to them there. Even much earlier the disciples wondered, “How is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22). Their wonder continues, and even on the day of His glorious Ascension the Apostles question the Lord, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They still did not comprehend the meaning of His Resurrection, they did not understand what it meant that He was “ascending” to the Father. Their eyes were opened but later, when “the promise of the Father” had been fulfilled.

In the Ascension resides the meaning and the fullness of Christ’Resurrection.

The Lord did not rise in order to return again to the fleshly order of life, so as to live again and commune with the disciples and the multitudes by means of preaching and miracles. Now he does not even stay with them, but only “appears” to them during the forty days, from time to time, and always in miraculous and mysterious manner. “He was not always with them now, as He was before the Resurrection,” comments Saint John Chrysostom. “He came and again disappeared, thus leading them on to higher conceptions. He no longer permitted them to continue in their former relationship toward Him, but took effectual measures to secure these two objects: That the fact of His Resurrection should be believed, and that He Himself should be ever after apprehended to be greater than man.” There was something new and unusual in His person (cf. John 21:1-14). As Saint John Chrysostom says, “It was not an open presence, but certain testimony of the fact that He was present.” That is why the disciples were confused and frightened. Christ arose not in the same way as those who were restored to life before Him. Theirs was resurrection for time, and they returned to life in the same body, which was subject to death and corruption—returned to the previous mode of life. But Christ arose for ever, unto eternity. He arose in body of glory, immortal and incorruptible. He arose, never to die, for “He clothed the mortal in the splendor of incorruption.” His glorified Body was already exempt from the fleshly order of existence. “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown natural body, it is raised spiritual body” (Cor. 15:42-44). This mysterious transformation of human bodies, of which Saint Paul was speaking in the case of our Lord, had been accomplished in three days. Christ’work on earth was accomplished. He had suffered, was dead and buried, and now rose to higher mode of existence. By His Resurrection He abolished and destroyed death, abolished the law of corruption, “and raised with Himself the whole race of Adam.” Christ has risen, and now “no dead are left in the grave” (cf. The Easter Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom). And now He ascends to the Father, yet He does not “go away,” but abides with the faithful for ever (cf. The Kontakion of Ascension). For He raises the very earth with Him to heaven, and even higher than any heaven. God’power, in the phrase of Saint John Chrysostom, “manifests itself not only in the Resurrection, but in something much stronger.” For “He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

And with Christ, man’nature ascends also.

 

 

Annual Cevap Luncheon Sunday, June 5

Click here for details.

Cyril and Methodius Commemorated on May 11/24

Equals of the Apostles and Teachers of the Slavs, Cyril and Methodius

Commemorated on May 11/24Services at St George church: Monday, May 23 - vigil / confession at 6 pm Tuesday, May 24 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am

 

Saints Cyril and Methodius, Equals of the Apostles, and Enlighteners of the Slavs came from an illustrious and pious family living in the Greek city of Thessalonica. Saint Methodius was the oldest of seven brothers, Saint Constantine [Cyril was his monastic name] was the youngest. At first Saint Methodius was in the military and was governor in one of the Slavic principalities dependent on the Byzantine Empire, probably Bulgaria, which made it possible for him to learn the Slavic language. After living there for about ten years, Saint Methodius later received monastic tonsure at one of the monasteries on Mount Olympus (Asia Minor).

Saint Constantine distinguished himself by his great aptitude, and he studied with the emperor Michael under the finest teachers in Constantinople, including Saint Photius, the future Patriarch of Constantinople (February 6).

Saint Constantine studied all the sciences of his time, and also knew several languages. He also studied the works of Saint Gregory the Theologian. Because of his keen mind and penetrating intellect, Saint Constantine was called “Philosopher” (wise). Upon the completion of his education, Saint Constantine was ordained to the holy priesthood and was appointed curator of the patriarchal library at the church of Hagia Sophia. He soon left the capital and went secretly to a monastery.

Discovered there, he returned to Constantinople, where he was appointed as instructor in philosophy. The young Constantine’s wisdom and faith were so great that he won a debate with Ananias, the leader of the heretical iconclasts. After this victory Constantine was sent by the emperor to discuss the Holy Trinity with the Saracens, and again he gained the victory. When he returned, Saint Constantine went to his brother Saint Methodius on Olympus, spending his time in unceasing prayer and reading the works of the holy Fathers.

The emperor soon summoned both of the holy brothers from the monastery and sent them to preach the Gospel to the Khazars. Along the way they stayed in the city of Korsun, making preparations for their missionary activity. There the holy brothers miraculously discovered the relics of the hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (November 25).

There in Korsun Saint Constantine found a Gospel and Psalter written in Russian letters [i.e. Slavonic], and a man speaking the Slavic tongue, and he learned from this man how to read and speak this language. After this, the holy brothers went to the Khazars, where they won a debate with Jews and Moslems by preaching the Gospel. On the way home, the brothers again visited Korsun and, taking up the relics of Saint Clement, they returned to Constantinople. Saint Constantine remained in the capital, but Saint Methodius was made igumen of the small Polychronion monastery near Mount Olympus, where he lived a life of asceticism as before.

Soon messengers came to the emperor from the Moravian prince Rostislav, who was under pressure from German bishops, with a request to send teachers to Moravia who would be able to preach in the Slavic tongue. The emperor summoned Saint Constantine and said to him, “You must go there, but it would be better if no one knows about this.”

Saint Constantine prepared for the new task with fasting and prayer. With the help of his brother Saint Methodius and the disciples Gorazd, Clement, Savva, Naum and Angelyar, he devised a Slavonic alphabet and translated the books which were necessary for the celebration of the divine services: the Gospel, Epistles, Psalter, and collected services, into the Slavic tongue. This occurred in the year 863.

After completing the translation, the holy brothers went to Moravia, where they were received with great honor, and they began to teach the services in the Slavic language. This aroused the malice of the German bishops, who celebrated divine services in the Moravian churches in Latin. They rose up against the holy brothers, convinced that divine services must be done in one of three languages: Hebrew, Greek or Latin.

Saint Constantine said, “You only recognize three languages in which God may be glorified. But David sang, ‘Praise the Lord, all nations, praise the Lord all peoples (Ps 116/117:1).’ And the Gospel of Saint Matthew (28:18) says, ‘Go and teach all nations....’” The German bishops were humiliated, but they became bitter and complained to Rome.

The holy brothers were summoned to Rome for a decision on this matter. Taking with them the relics of Saint Clement, Saints Constantine and Methodius set off to Rome. Knowing that the holy brothers were bringing these relics with them, Pope Adrian met them along the way with his clergy. The holy brothers were greeted with honor, the Pope gave permission to have divine services in the Slavonic language, and he ordered the books translated by the brothers to be placed in the Latin churches, and to serve the Liturgy in the Slavonic language.

At Rome Saint Constantine fell ill, and the Lord revealed to him his approaching death. He was tonsured into the monastic schema with the name of Cyril. On February 14, 869, fifty days after receiving the schema, Saint Cyril died at the age of forty-two.

Saint Cyril commanded his brother Saint Methodius to continue with their task of enlightening the Slavic peoples with the light of the true Faith. Saint Methodius entreated the Pope to send the body of his brother for burial in their native land, but the Pope ordered the relics of Saint Cyril to be placed in the church of Saint Clement, where miracles began to occur from them.

After the death of Saint Cyril, the Pope sent Saint Methodius to Pannonia, after consecrating him as Archbishop of Moravia and Pannonia, on the ancient throne of Saint Andronicus (July 30). In Pannonia Saint Methodius and his disciples continued to distribute services books written in the Slavonic language. This again aroused the wrath of the German bishops. They arrested and tried Saint Methodius, who was sent in chains to Swabia, where he endured many sufferings for two and a half years.

After being set free by order of Pope John VIII of Rome, and restored to his archdiocese, Saint Methodius continued to preach the Gospel among the Slavs. He baptized the Czech prince Borivoi and his wife Ludmilla (September 16), and also one of the Polish princes. The German bishops began to persecute the saint for a third time, because he did not accept the erroneous teaching about the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. Saint Methodius was summoned to Rome, but he justified himself before the Pope, and preserved the Orthodox teaching in its purity, and was sent again to the capital of Moravia, Velehrad.

Here in the remaining years of his life Saint Methodius, assisted by two of his former pupils, translated the entire Old Testament into Slavonic, except for the Book of Maccabbees, and even the Nomocanon (Rule of the Holy Fathers) and Paterikon (book of the Holy Fathers).

Sensing the nearness of death, Saint Methodius designated one of his students, Gorazd, as a worthy successor to himself. The holy bishop predicted the day of his death and died on April 6, 885 when he was about sixty years old. The saint’s burial service was chanted in three languages, Slavonic, Greek, and Latin. He was buried in the cathedral church of Velehrad.

Greatmartyr, Victory-bearer, and Wonderworker George Commemorated on April 23/May 6
Services at St George church:
Vigil / confession at 6 pm on May 5
Divine Liturgy at 9 am on May 6
Srecna Slava to all who celebrate St George - Djurdjevdan as their slava!
The Holy Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer, was a native of Cappadocia (a district in Asia Minor), and he grew up in a deeply believing Christian family. His father was martyred for Christ when George was still a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, moved there with her son and raised him in strict piety.
When he became a man, Saint George entered into the service of the Roman army. He was handsome, brave and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and joined the imperial guard with the rank of comites, or military commander.
The pagan emperor, who did much for the restoration of Roman might, was clearly concerned with the danger presented to pagan civilization by the triumph of the Crucified Savior, and intensified his persecution against the Christians in the final years of his reign. Following the advice of the Senate at Nicomedia, Diocletian gave all his governors full freedom in their court proceedings against Christians, and he promised them his full support.
Saint George, when he heard the decision of the emperor, distributed all his wealth to the poor, freed his servants, and then appeared in the Senate. The brave soldier of Christ spoke out openly against the emperor’s designs. He confessed himself a Christian, and appealed to all to acknowledge Christ: “I am a servant of Christ, my God, and trusting in Him, I have come among you voluntarily, to bear witness concerning the Truth.”
“What is Truth?” one of the dignitaries asked, echoing the question of Pontius Pilate. The saint replied, “Christ Himself, Whom you persecuted, is Truth.”
Stunned by the bold speech of the valiant warrior, the emperor, who had loved and promoted George, attempted to persuade him not to throw away his youth and glory and honors, but rather to offer sacrifice to the gods as was the Roman custom. The confessor replied, “Nothing in this inconstant life can weaken my resolve to serve God.”
Then by order of the enraged emperor the armed guards began to push Saint George out of the assembly hall with their spears, and they then led him off to prison. But the deadly steel became soft and it bent, just as the spears touched the saint’s body, and it caused him no harm. In prison they put the martyr’s feet in stocks and placed a heavy stone on his chest.
The next day at the interrogation, powerless but firm of spirit, Saint George again answered the emperor, “You will grow tired of tormenting me sooner than I will tire of being tormented by you.” Then Diocletian gave orders to subject Saint George to some very intense tortures. They tied the Great Martyr to a wheel, beneath which were boards pierced with sharp pieces of iron. As the wheel turned, the sharp edges slashed the saint’s naked body.
At first the sufferer loudly cried out to the Lord, but soon he quieted down, and did not utter even a single groan. Diocletian decided that the tortured one was already dead, and he gave orders to remove the battered body from the wheel, and then went to a pagan temple to offer thanks.
At this very moment it got dark, thunder boomed, and a voice was heard: “Fear not, George, for I am with you.” Then a wondrous light shone, and at the wheel an angel of the Lord appeared in the form of a radiant youth. He placed his hand upon the martyr, saying to him, “Rejoice!” Saint George stood up healed.
When the soldiers led him to the pagan temple where the emperor was, the emperor could not believe his own eyes and he thought that he saw before him some other man or even a ghost. In confusion and in terror the pagans looked Saint George over carefully, and they became convinced that a miracle had occurred. Many then came to believe in the Life-Creating God of the Christians.
Two illustrious officials, Saints Anatolius and Protoleon, who were secretly Christians, openly confessed Christ. Immediately, without a trial, they were beheaded with the sword by order of the emperor. Also present in the pagan temple was Empress Alexandra, the wife of Diocletian, and she also knew the truth. She was on the point of glorifying Christ, but one of the servants of the emperor took her and led her off to the palace.
The emperor became even more furious. He had not lost all hope of influencing Saint George, so he gave him over to new and fiercesome torments. After throwing him into a deep pit, they covered it over with lime. Three days later they dug him out, but found him cheerful and unharmed. They shod the saint in iron sandals with red-hot nails, and then drove him back to the prison with whips. In the morning, they led him back to the interrogation, cheerful and with healed feet, and the emperor asked if he liked his shoes. The saint said that the sandals had been just his size. Then they beat him with ox thongs until pieces of his flesh came off and his blood soaked the ground, but the brave sufferer, strengthened by the power of God, remained unyielding.
The emperor concluded that the saint was being helped by magic, so he summoned the sorcerer Athanasius to deprive the saint of his miraculous powers, or else poison him. The sorcerer gave Saint George two goblets containing drugs. One of them would have quieted him, and the other would kill him. The drugs had no effect, and the saint continued to denounce the pagan superstitions and glorify God as before.
When the emperor asked what sort of power was helping him, Saint George said, “Do not imagine that it is any human learning which keeps me from being harmed by these torments. I am saved only by calling upon Christ and His Power. Whoever believes in Him has no regard for tortures and is able to do the things that Christ did” (John 14:12). Diocletian asked what sort of things Christ had done. The Martyr replied, “He gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, healed the lame, gave hearing to the deaf, cast out demons, and raised the dead.”
Knowing that they had never been able to resurrect the dead through sorcery, nor by any of the gods known to him, and wanting to test the saint, the emperor commanded him to raise up a dead person before his eyes. The saint retorted, “You wish to tempt me, but my God will work this sign for the salvation of the people who shall see the power of Christ.”
When they led Saint George down to the graveyard, he cried out, “O Lord! Show to those here present, that You are the only God in all the world. Let them know You as the Almighty Lord.” Then the earth quaked, a grave opened, the dead one emerged from it alive. Having seen with their own eyes the Power of Christ, the people wept and glorified the true God.
The sorcerer Athanasius, falling down at the feet of Saint George, confessed Christ as the All-Powerful God and asked forgiveness for his sins, committed in ignorance. The obdurate emperor in his impiety thought otherwise. In a rage, he commanded both Athanasius and the man raised from the dead to be beheaded, and he had Saint George again locked up in prison.
The people, weighed down with their infirmities, began to visit the prison and they there received healing and help from the saint. A certain farmer named Glycerius, whose ox had collapsed, also visited him. The saint consoled him and assured him that God would restore his ox to life. When he saw the ox alive, the farmer began to glorify the God of the Christians throughout all the city. By order of the emperor, Saint Glycerius was arrested and beheaded.
The exploits and the miracles of the Great Martyr George had increased the number of the Christians, therefore Diocletian made a final attempt to compel the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. They set up a court at the pagan temple of Apollo. On the final night the holy martyr prayed fervently, and as he slept, he saw the Lord, Who raised him up with His hand, and embraced him. The Savior placed a crown on Saint George’s head and said, “Fear not, but have courage, and you will soon come to Me and receive what has been prepared for you.”
In the morning, the emperor offered to make Saint George his co-administrator, second only to himself. The holy martyr with a feigned willingness answered, “Caesar, you should have shown me this mercy from the very beginning, instead of torturing me. Let us go now to the temple and see the gods you worship.”
Diocletian believed that the martyr was accepting his offer, and he followed him to the pagan temple with his retinue and all the people. Everyone was certain that Saint George would offer sacrifice to the gods. The saint went up to the idol, made the Sign of the Cross and addressed it as if it were alive: “Are you the one who wants to receive from me sacrifice befitting God?”
The demon inhabiting the idol cried out, “I am not a god and none of those like me is a god, either. The only God is He Whom you preach. We are fallen angels, and we deceive people because we are jealous.”
Saint George cried out, “How dare you remain here, when I, the servant of the true God, have entered?” Then noises and wailing were heard from the idols, and they fell to the ground and were shattered.
There was general confusion. In a frenzy, pagan priests and many of the crowd seized the holy martyr, tied him up, and began to beat him. They also called for his immediate execution.
The holy empress Alexandra tried to reach him. Pushing her way through the crowd, she cried out, “O God of George, help me, for You Alone are All-Powerful.” At the feet of the Great Martyr the holy empress confessed Christ, Who had humiliated the idols and those who worshipped them.
Diocletian immediately pronounced the death sentence on the Great Martyr George and the holy Empress Alexandra, who followed Saint George to execution without resisting. Along the way she felt faint and slumped against a wall. There she surrendered her soul to God.
Saint George gave thanks to God and prayed that he would also end his life in a worthy manner. At the place of execution the saint prayed that the Lord would forgive the torturers who acted in ignorance, and that He would lead them to the knowledge of Truth. Calmly and bravely, the holy Great Martyr George bent his neck beneath the sword, receiving the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303.
The pagan era was coming to an end, and Christianity was about to triumph. Within ten years, Saint Constantine (May 21) would issue the Edict of Milan, granting religious freedom to Christians.
Of the many miracles worked by the holy Great Martyr George, the most famous are depicted in iconography. In the saint’s native city of Beirut were many idol-worshippers. Outside the city, near Mount Lebanon, was a large lake, inhabited by an enormous dragon-like serpent. Coming out of the lake, it devoured people, and there was nothing anyone could do, since the breath from its nostrils poisoned the very air.
On the advice of the demons inhabiting the idols, the local ruler came to a decision. Each day the people would draw lots to feed their own children to the serpent, and he promised to sacrifice his only daughter when his turn came. That time did come, and the ruler dressed her in her finest attire, then sent her off to the lake. The girl wept bitterly, awaiting her death. Unexpectedly for her, Saint George rode up on his horse with spear in hand. The girl implored him not to leave her, lest she perish.
The saint signed himself with the Sign of the Cross. He rushed at the serpent saying, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Saint George pierced the throat of the serpent with his spear and trampled it with his horse. Then he told the girl to bind the serpent with her sash, and lead it into the city like a dog on a leash.
The people fled in terror, but the saint halted them with the words: “Don’t be afraid, but trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in Him, since it is He Who sent me to save you.” Then the saint killed the serpent with a sword, and the people burned it outside the city. Twenty-five thousand men, not counting women and children, were then baptized. Later, a church was built and dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos and the Great Martyr George.
Saint George went on to become a talented officer and to amaze the world by his military exploits. He died before he was thirty years old. He is known as Victory Bearer, not only for his military achievements, but for successfully enduring martyrdom. As we know, the martyrs are commemorated in the dismissal at the end of Church services as “the holy, right victorious martyr....”
No photo description available.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Holy & Bright Week Services

Wednesday, April 20

Lenten Hours at 8 am, confession at 8:30 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am

 

Thursday, April 21

Confession at 8:30 am, Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil the Great at 9 am

Matins and reading of 12 gospel lessons

 

On Thursday of Holy Week four events are commemorated: the washing of the disciples' feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.

On Great and Holy Friday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. This is the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins. This commemoration begins on Thursday evening with the Matins of Holy Friday and concludes with a Vespers on Friday afternoon that observes the unnailing of Christ from the Cross and the placement of His body in the tomb.

 

Friday, April 22 – Good Friday / Veliki Petak

Royal Hours at 9 am

Vespers, unnailing of Christ Body from the Cross and the placement of His Body in the Tomb at 4 pm

Matins, Lamentation and Burial of Christ at 6 pm

 

On Great and Holy Saturday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the burial of Christ and His descent into Hades. It is the day between the Crucifixion of our Lord and His glorious Resurrection. The Matins of Holy Saturday is conducted on Friday evening, and while many elements of the service represent mourning at the death and burial of Christ, the service itself is one of watchful expectation

 

Saturday, April 23 – Holy and blessed Sabbath

Confession at 8:30 am, Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil the Great at 9 am

Resurrection Matins – Vaskrsno Jutrenje at 11 pm

 

Hristos Voskrese   Christ is Risen      Hristos Anesti

 

Sunday, April 24 – Holy Pascha / Vaskrsenje Hristovo / Bright Week

Divine Liturgy at 10 am

 

Monday, April 25

Divine Liturgy at 9 am

 

Tuesday, April 26

Divine Liturgy at 9 am

 

Church Slava Celebration this year will be on Thomas Sunday, May 1. Slava rite and traditional dinner in Social Center. Please mark your calendar!

 

Feast of St George the Great Martyr is on May 6. Vigil/ confession will be served on May 5 at 6 pm. Divine Liturgy on St George’s day at 9 am

 

 

HOLY PASCHA: The Resurrection of Our Lord Commemorated on April 24

Pascha (Easter)

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith; receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.
(Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom, read at Paschal Matins)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the center of the Christian faith. Saint Paul says that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then our preaching and faith are in vain (I Cor. 15:14). Indeed, without the resurrection there would be no Christian preaching or faith. The disciples of Christ would have remained the broken and hopeless band which the Gospel of John describes as being in hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. They went nowhere and preached nothing until they met the risen Christ, the doors being shut (John 20: 19). Then they touched the wounds of the nails and the spear; they ate and drank with Him. The resurrection became the basis of everything they said and did (Acts 2-4): “. . . for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).

The resurrection reveals Jesus of Nazareth as not only the expected Messiah of Israel, but as the King and Lord of a new Jerusalem: a new heaven and a new earth.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . the holy city, new Jerusalem. And I heard a great voice from the throne saying “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. . . He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:1-4).

In His death and resurrection, Christ defeats the last enemy, death, and thereby fulfills the mandate of His Father to subject all things under His feet (I Cor. 15:24-26).

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (Rev. 5: 12)

THE FEAST OF FEASTS

The Christian faith is celebrated in the liturgy of the Church. True celebration is always a living participation. It is not a mere attendance at services. It is communion in the power of the event being celebrated. It is God’s free gift of joy given to spiritual men as a reward for their self-denial. It is the fulfillment of spiritual and physical effort and preparation. The resurrection of Christ, being the center of the Christian faith, is the basis of the Church’s liturgical life and the true model for all celebration. This is the chosen and holy day, first of sabbaths, king and lord of days, the feast of feasts, holy day of holy days. On this day we bless Christ forevermore (Irmos 8, Paschal Canon).

PREPARATION

Twelve weeks of preparation precede the “feast of feasts.” A long journey which includes five prelenten Sundays, six weeks of Great Lent and finally Holy Week is made. The journey moves from the self-willed exile of the prodigal son to the grace-filled entrance into the new Jerusalem, coming down as a bride beautifully adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2) Repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study are the means by which this long journey is made.

Focusing on the veneration of the Cross at its midpoint, the lenten voyage itself reveals that the joy of the resurrection is achieved only through the Cross. “Through the cross joy has come into all the world,” we sing in one paschal hymn. And in the paschal troparion, we repeat again and again that Christ has trampled down death—by death! Saint Paul writes that the name of Jesus is exalted above every name because He first emptied Himself, taking on the lowly form of a servant and being obedient even to death on the Cross (Phil. 2:5-11). The road to the celebration of the resurrection is the self-emptying crucifixion of Lent. Pascha is the passover from death to life.

Yesterday I was buried with Thee, O Christ.
Today I arise with Thee in Thy resurrection.
Yesterday I was crucified with Thee:
Glorify me with Thee, O Savior, in Thy kingdom (Ode 3, Paschal Canon).

THE PROCESSION

The divine services of the night of Pascha commence near midnight of Holy Saturday. At the Ninth Ode of the Canon of Nocturn, the priest, already vested in his brightest robes, removes the Holy Shroud from the tomb and carries it to the altar table, where it remains until the leave-taking of Pascha. The faithful stand in darkness. Then, one by one, they light their candles from the candle held by the priest and form a great procession out of the church. Choir, servers, priest and people, led by the bearers of the cross, banners, icons and Gospel book, circle the church. The bells are rung incessantly and the angelic hymn of the resurrection is chanted.

The procession comes to a stop before the principal doors of the church. Before the closed doors the priest and the people sing the troparion of Pascha, “Christ is risen from the dead...”, many times. Even before entenng the church the priest and people exchange the paschal greeting: “Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!” This segment of the paschal services is extremely important. It preserves in the expenence of the Church the primitive accounts of the resurrection of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. The angel rolled away the stone from the tomb not to let a biologically revived but physically entrapped Christ walk out, but to reveal that “He is not here; for He has risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6).

In the paschal canon we sing:

Thou didst arise, O Christ, and yet the tomb remained sealed, as at Thy birth the Virgin’s womb remained unharmed; and Thou has opened for us the gates of paradise (Ode 6).

Finally, the procession of light and song in the darkness of night, and the thunderous proclamation that, indeed, Christ is risen, fulfill the words of the Evangelist John: “The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

The doors are opened and the faithful re-enter. The church is bathed in light and adorned with flowers. It is the heavenly bride and the symbol of the empty tomb:

Bearing life and more fruitful than paradise
Brighter than any royal chamber,
Thy tomb, O Christ, is the fountain or our resurrection (Paschal Hours).

MATINS

Matins commences immediately. The risen Christ is glorified in the singing of the beautiful canon of Saint John of Damascus. The paschal greeting is repeatedly exchanged. Near the end of Matins the paschal verses are sung. They relate the entire narrative of the Lord’s resurrection. They conclude with the words calling us to actualize among each other the forgiveness freely given to all by God:

This is the day of resurrection.
Let us be illumined by the feast.
Let us embrace each other.
Let us call “brothers” even those who hate us,
And forgive all by the resurrection. . .

The sermon of Saint John Chrysostom is then read by the celebrant. The sermon was originally composed as a baptismal instruction. It is retained by the Church in the paschal services because everything about the night of Pascha recalls the Sacrament of Baptism: the language and general terminology of the liturgical texts, the specific hymns, the vestment color, the use of candles and the great procession itself. Now the sermon invites us to a great reaffirmation of our baptism: to union with Christ in the receiving of Holy Communion.

If any man is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. . . the table is fully laden; feast you all sumptuously. . . the calf is fatted, let no one go hungry away. . .

THE DIVINE LITURGY

The sermon announces the imminent beginning of the Divine Liturgy. The altar table is fully laden with the divine food: the Body and Blood of the risen and glorified Christ. No one is to go away hungry. The service books are very specific in saying that only he who partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ eats the true Pascha. The Divine Liturgy, therefore, normally follows immediately after paschal Matins. Foods from which the faithful have been asked to abstain during the lenten journey are blessed and eaten only after the Divine Liturgy.

THE DAY WITHOUT EVENING

Pascha is the inauguration of a new age. It reveals the mystery of the eighth day. It is our taste, in this age, of the new and unending day of the Kingdom of God. Something of this new and unending day is conveyed to us in the length of the paschal services, in the repetition of the paschal order for all the services of Bright Week, and in the special paschal features retained in the services for the forty days until Ascension. Forty days are, as it were, treated as one day. Together they comprise the symbol of the new time in which the Church lives and toward which she ever draws the faithful, from one degree of glory to another.

O Christ, great and most holy Pascha.
O Wisdom, Word and Power of God,
grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee in the never-ending day of Thy kingdom
(Ninth Ode, Paschal Canon).

The V. Rev. Paul Lazor

Great and Holy Friday Commemorated on April 22

On Great and Holy Friday, Christ died on the Cross. He gave up His spirit with the words: “It is finished” (John 19:30). These words are better understood when rendered: “It is consummated.” He had accomplished the work for which His heavenly Father had sent Him into the world. He became a man in the fullest sense of the word. He accepted the baptism of repentance from John in the Jordan River. He assumed the whole human condition, experiencing all its alienation, agony, and suffering, concluding with the lowly death on the Cross. He perfectly fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

 

“Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

(Isaiah 53:12)

The Man of Sorrows

On the Cross Jesus thus became “the man of sorrows; acquainted with grief” whom the prophet Isaiah had foretold. He was “despised and forsaken by men” and “smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3-4). He became the one with “no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). His appearance was “marred beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14). All these Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus as he hung from the Cross.

As the end approached, He cried: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). This cry indicated His complete identification with the human condition. He had totally embraced the despised, forsaken and smitten condition of suffering and death—alienation from God. He was truly the man of sorrows.

Yet, it is important to note that Jesus’ cry of anguish from the Cross was not a sign of His loss of faith in His Father. The words which He exclaimed are the first verse of Psalm 22, a messianic Psalm. The first part of the Psalm foretells the anguish, suffering and death of the Messiah. The second part is a song of praise to God. It predicts the final victory of the Messiah.

The Formal Charges

The death of Christ had been sought by the religious leaders in Jerusalem from the earliest days of His public ministry. The formal charges made against Him usually fell into the following two categories:

1) violation of the Law of the Old Testament, e.g., breaking the Sabbath rest;
2) blasphemy: making Himself equal with God.

Matters were hastened (consummated) by the moment of truth which followed His entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He had the people behind Him. He spoke plainly. He said that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. He chastised the scribes and Pharisees for reducing religion to a purely external affair;

“You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27-28).

It was the second formal charge; however, that became the basis for His conviction.

The Religious Trial

Christ’s conviction and death sentence required two trials: religious and political. The religious trial was first and took place during the night immediately after His arrest. After considerable difficulty in finding witnesses for the prosecution who actually agreed in their testimony, Caiaphas, the high priest, asked Jesus the essential question: “Are you Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus, who had remained silent to this point, now responded directly:

“I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:61-62).

Jesus’ reply recalled the many other statements He had made beginning with the words, “I am.” “I am the bread of life . . . I am the light of the world. . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. . . before Abraham was, I am.” (John 6 through 15). The use of these words themselves was considered blasphemous by the religious leaders. The words were the Name of God. By using them as His own Name, Jesus positively identified Himself with God. From the burning bush the voice of God had disclosed these words to Moses as the Divine Name:

“Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-14).

Now Jesus, as He had done on many other occasions, used them as His own Name. The high priest immediately tore his mantle and “they all condemned Him as deserving death” (Mark 14:64). In their view He had violated the Law of the Old Testament:

“He who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16).

The Political Trial

The Jewish religious leaders lacked the actual authority to carry out the above law: to put a man to death. Such authority belonged to the Roman civil administration. Jesus had carefully kept His activity free of political implications. He refused the temptation of Satan to rule the kingdoms of the world by the sword (Luke 4: 1-12). He often charged His disciples and others to tell no one that He was , the Christ, because of the political overtones that this title carried for many (Matthew 16: 13-20). He rebuked Peter, calling him Satan, when the disciple hinted at His swerving from the true nature of His mission (Matthew 16:23). To Pilate, the spineless and indifferent Roman Governor, He said plainly: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus was not a political revolutionary who came to free the people from Roman control and establish a new kingdom based on worldly power.

Nevertheless, the religious leaders, acting in agreement with the masses, devised political charges against Him in order to get their way. They presented Christ to the Romans as a political , leader, the “King of the Jews” in a worldly sense, a threat to Roman rule and a challenge to Caesar. Pilate became fearful of his own position as he heard the charges and saw the seething mobs. Therefore, despite his avowed testimony to Jesus’ innocence, he passed formal sentence, “washed his hands” of the matter, and turned Jesus over to be crucified (John 19:16).

Crucifixion—The Triumph of Evil

Before succumbing to this cruel Roman method of executing political criminals, Jesus suffered still other injustices. He was stripped, mocked and beaten. He wore a “kingly” crown of thorns on His head. He carried His own cross. He was finally nailed to the cross between two thieves at a place called Golgotha (the place of the skull) outside Jerusalem. An inscription was placed above His head on the Cross to indicate the nature of His crime: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” He yielded up His spirit at about the ninth hour (3 p.m.), after hanging on the Cross for about six hours.

On Holy Friday evil triumphed. “It was night” (John 13:30) when Judas departed from the Last Supper to complete his act of betrayal, and “there was darkness over all the land” (Matthew 27:45) when Jesus was hanging on the Cross. The evil forces of this world had been massed against Christ. Unjust trials convicted Him. A criminal was released to the people instead of Him. Nails and a spear pierced His body. Bitter vinegar was given to Him to quench His thirst. Only one disciple remained faithful to Him. Finally, the tomb of another man became His place of repose after death.

The innocent Jesus was put to death on the basis of both religious and political charges. Both Jews and Gentile Romans participated in His death sentence.

“The rulers of the people have assembled against the Lord and His Christ.” (Psalm 2—the Prokeimenon of the Holy Thursday Vesperal Liturgy)

We, also, in many ways continue to participate in the death sentence given to Christ. The formal charges outlined above do not exhaust the reasons for the crucifixion. Behind the formal charges lay a host of injustices brought, on by hidden and personal motivations. Jesus openly spoke the truth about God and man. He thereby exposed the false character of the righteousness and smug security, both religious and material, claimed by many especially those in high places. The constantly occurring expositions of such smugness in our own day teach us the truly illusory nature of much so-called righteousness and security. In the deepest sense, the death of Christ was brought about by hardened, personal sin—the refusal of people to change themselves in the light of reality, which is Christ.

“He came to His very own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11).

Especially we, the Christian people, are Christ’s very own. He continues to come to us in His Church. Each time we attempt to make the Church into something other than the eternal coming of Christ into our midst, each time we refuse to repent for our wrongs; we, too, reject Christ and participate in His death sentence.

The Vespers

The Vespers, celebrated in the Church on Holy Friday afternoon, brings to mind all of the final events of the life of Christ as mentioned above: the trial, the sentence, the scourging and mocking, the crucifixion, the death, the taking down of His body from the Cross, and the burial. As the hymnography indicates, these events remain ever-present in the Church; they constitute the today of its life.

The service is replete with readings from Scripture: three from the Old Testament and two from the New. The first of the Old Testament readings, from Exodus, speaks of Moses beholding the “back” of the glory of God—for no man can see the glory of God face to face and live. The Church uses this reading to emphasize that now, in the crucifixion and death of Christ, God is making the ultimate condescension to reveal His glory to man—from within man himself.

The death of Christ was of a wholly voluntary character. He dies not because of some necessity in His being: as the Son of God He has life in Himself! Yet, He voluntarily gave up His life as the greatest sign of God’s love for man, as the ultimate revelation of the Divine glory:

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

The vesperal hymnography further develops the fact that God reveals His glory to us in this condescending love. The Crucifixion is the heart of such love, for the One being crucified is none other than He through whom all things have been created:

Today the Master of creation stands before Pilate. Today the Creator of all is condemned to die on the cross. . . The Redeemer of the world is slapped on the face. The Maker of all is mocked by His own servants. Glory to Thy condescension, 0 Lover of man! (Verse on “Lord I call”, and the Apostikha)

The verses also underscore the cosmic dimensions of the event taking place on the Cross. Just as God who revealed Himself to Moses is not a god, but the God of “heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible,” so the death of Jesus is not the culmination of a petty struggle in the domestic life of Palestine. Rather, it is the very center of the epic struggle between God and the Evil One, involving the whole universe:

All creation was changed by fear
when it saw Thee hanging on the cross, 0 Christ! The sun was darkened,
and the foundations of the earth were shaken.
All things suffered with the Creator of all.
0 Lord, who didst willingly endure this for us, glory to Thee!
(Verse I on “Lord, I Call”)

The second Reading from the Old Testament (Job 42:12 to the end) manifests Job as a prophetic figure of the Messiah Himself. The plight of Job is followed in the services throughout Holy Week, and is concluded with this reading. Job is the righteous servant who remains faithful to God despite trial, humiliation, and the loss of all his possessions and family. Because of his faithfulness, however, “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42: 12)

The third of the Old Testamental readings is by far the most substantial (Isaiah 52:13 to 54:1). It is a prototype of the Gospel itself. Read at this moment, it positively identifies Jesus of Nazareth as the Suffering Servant, the Man of Sorrows; the Messiah of Israel.

The Epistle Reading (I Corinthians 1:18 to 2:2) speaks of Jesus crucified, a folly for the world, as the real center of our Faith. The Gospel reading, a lengthy composite taken from Matthew, Luke and John, simply narrates all the events associated with the crucifixion and burial of Christ.

All the readings obviously focus on the theme of hope. As the Lord of Glory, the fulfillment of the righteous Job, and the Messiah Himself, humiliation and death will have no final hold over Jesus. Even the parental mourning of Mary is transformed in the light of this hope:

When she who bore Thee without seed
saw Thee suspended upon the Tree,
0 Christ, the Creator and God of all,
she cried bitterly: “Where is the beauty of Thy countenance, my Son?
I cannot bear to see Thee unjustly crucified. Hasten and arise,
that I too may see Thy resurrection from the dead on the third day!
(Verse IV on “Lord I call.”)

Near the end of the Vespers, the priest vests fully in dark vestments. At the appointed time he lifts the Holy Shroud, a large icon depicting Christ lying in the tomb, from the altar table. Together with selected laymen and servers, a procession is formed and the Holy Shroud is carried to a specially prepared tomb in the center of the church. As the procession moves, the troparion is sung:

The Noble Joseph, when he had taken down Thy most pure body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.

At this ultimate solemn moment of Vespers, the theme of hope once again occurs—this time more strongly and clearly than ever. As knees are bent and heads are bowed, and often tears are shed, another troparion is sung which penetrates through this triumph of evil, to the new day which is contained in its very midst:

The Angel came to the myrrh-bearing women at the tomb and said: “Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption.

A new Age is dawning. Our salvation is taking place. The One who died is the same One who will rise on the third day, to “trample down death by death,” and to free us from corruption.

Therefore, at the conclusion of Holy Friday Vespers, at the end of this long day of darkness, when all things are apparently ended, our eternal hope for salvation springs forth. For Christ is indeed a stranger to corruption:

“As by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (I Cor. 15:21-32)

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

- Father Paul Lazor

Schedule of Holy & Bright Week Services 2022

Click here for printable version.

Holy Week or Passion Week is the week before Pascha during which we commemorate the capture, suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Please attend all the services, fast, intensify your prayers and read the Gospel about the last days of our Lord before His death on the cross. Receiving holy communion during Holy Week on Holy Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and especially on Pascha is necessary. Pascha is the culmination of Holy Week and the celebration of the Feast of feasts and victory over sin with the death of our Savior and our resurrection with Him. 

Friday, April 15 – Eve of Lazarus Saturday / Navečerje Lazareve Subote

Vespers / confession at 6 pm

 

On Lazarus Saturday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the miracle of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when he raised Lazarus from the dead after he had lain in the grave four days. In triumph and joy the Church bears witness to the power of Christ over death and exalts Him as King before entering the most solemn week of the year, one that leads the faithful in remembrance of His suffering and death and concludes with the great and glorious Feast of Pascha.

 

Saturday, April 16 – Resurrection of Lazarus / Lazareva Subota / Holy Week

Confession at 8:30 am, Divine Liturgy at 9 am

Vigil / Confession at 5 pm

 

Sunday, April 17 – Entry into Jerusalem of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ / Palm Sunday

Hierarchal Liturgy at 10 am. Procession around the church. His Grace, Bishop Longin will be with us.

Deanery Lenten vespers at 6 pm. Homilist Fr Nikolaj Kostur, diner after the service in Social Center

 

Palm Sunday is the commemoration of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem following His glorious miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead.

 

Monday, April 18

Bridegroom Matins at 6 pm

 

Tuesday, April 19

Bridegroom Matins at 6 pm

 

Wednesday, April 20

Lenten Hours at 8 am, confession at 8:30 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am

 

Thursday, April 21

Confession at 8:30 am, Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil the Great at 9 am

Matins and reading of 12 gospel lessons

 

On Thursday of Holy Week four events are commemorated: the washing of the disciples' feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.

On Great and Holy Friday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. This is the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins. This commemoration begins on Thursday evening with the Matins of Holy Friday and concludes with a Vespers on Friday afternoon that observes the unnailing of Christ from the Cross and the placement of His body in the tomb.

 

Friday, April 22 – Good Friday / Veliki Petak

Royal Hours at 9 am

Vespers, unnailing of Christ Body from the Cross and the placement of His Body in the Tomb at 4 pm

Matins, Lamentation and Burial of Christ at 6 pm

 

On Great and Holy Saturday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the burial of Christ and His descent into Hades. It is the day between the Crucifixion of our Lord and His glorious Resurrection. The Matins of Holy Saturday is conducted on Friday evening, and while many elements of the service represent mourning at the death and burial of Christ, the service itself is one of watchful expectation

 

Saturday, April 23 – Holy and blessed Sabbath

Confession at 8:30 am, Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil the Great at 9 am

Resurrection Matins – Vaskrsno Jutrenje at 11 pm

 

Hristos Voskrese   Christ is Risen      Hristos Anesti

 

Sunday, April 24 – Holy Pascha / Vaskrsenje Hristovo / Bright Week

Divine Liturgy at 10 am

 

Monday, April 25

Divine Liturgy at 9 am

 

Tuesday, April 26

Divine Liturgy at 9 am

 

Church Slava Celebration this year will be on Thomas Sunday, May 1. Slava rite and traditional dinner in Social Center. Please mark your calendar!

 

Feast of St George the Great Martyr is on May 6. Vigil/ confession will be served on May 5 at 6 pm. Divine Liturgy on St George’s day at 9 am

 

The Annunciation of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

Commemorated on March 25/April 7
Services at St George:Vigil/confession on April 6 at 6 pm

Divine Liturgy on Annunciation at 9 am

The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the earliest Christian feasts, and was already being celebrated in the fourth century. There is a painting of the Annunciation in the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome dating from the second century. The Council of Toledo in 656 mentions the Feast, and the Council in Trullo in 692 says that the Annunciation was celebrated during Great Lent.

The Greek and Slavonic names for the Feast may be translated as “good tidings.” This, of course, refers to the Incarnation of the Son of God and the salvation He brings. The background of the Annunciation is found in the Gospel of Saint Luke (1:26-38). The troparion describes this as the “beginning of our salvation, and the revelation of the eternal mystery,” for on this day the Son of God became the Son of Man.

There are two main components to the Annunciation: the message itself, and the response of the Virgin. The message fulfills God’s promise to send a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15): “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel.” The Fathers of the Church understand “her seed” to refer to Christ. The prophets hinted at His coming, which they saw dimly, but the Archangel Gabriel now proclaims that the promise is about to be fulfilled.

We see this echoed in the Liturgy of Saint Basil, as well: “When man disobeyed Thee, the only true God who had created him, and was deceived by the guile of the serpent, becoming subject to death by his own transgressions, Thou, O God, in Thy righteous judgment, didst send him forth from Paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Thy Christ Himself.”

The Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth in Galilee. There he spoke to the undefiled Virgin who was betrothed to Saint Joseph: “Hail, thou who art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

In contrast to Eve, who was readily deceived by the serpent, the Virgin did not immediately accept the Angel’s message. In her humility, she did not think she was deserving of such words, but was actually troubled by them. The fact that she asked for an explanation reveals her sobriety and prudence. She did not disbelieve the words of the angel, but could not understand how they would be fulfilled, for they spoke of something which was beyond nature.

Then said Mary unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

“And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: therefore also that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1: 35-38)

In his Sermon 23 on the day of the Annunciation, Saint Philaret of Moscow boldly stated that “the word of the creature brought the Creator down into the world.” He explains that salvation is not merely an act of God’s will, but also involves the Virgin’s free will. She could have refused, but she accepted God’s will and chose to cooperate without complaint or further questions.

The icon of the Feast shows the Archangel with a staff in his left hand, indicating his role as a messenger. Sometimes one wing is upraised, as if to show his swift descent from heaven. His right hand is stretched toward the holy Virgin as he delivers his message.

The Virgin is depicted either standing or sitting, usually holding yarn in her left hand. Sometimes she is shown holding a scroll. Her right hand may be raised to indicate her surprise at the message she is hearing. Her head is bowed, showing her consent and obedience. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon her is depicted by a ray of light issuing from a small sphere at the top of the icon, which symbolizes heaven. In a famous icon from Sinai, a white dove is shown in the ray of light.

The Annunciation falls during Lent, but it is always celebrated with great joy. The Liturgy of Saint Basil or Saint John Chrysostom is served, even on the weekdays of Lent. It is one of the two days of Great Lent on which the fast is relaxed and fish is permitted (Palm Sunday is the other).

 

Lenten Fish Fry: March 2, and Fridays March 4 - April 15
Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple
The Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple
Commemorated on February 2/15
Services in St George church:
Monday, Feb 14 - vigil/confession at 6 pm
Tuesday, Feb 15 - The Meeting of our Lord - Sretenije, Divine Liturgy at 9 am; Vespers/confession at 6 pm
Wednesday, Feb 16 - St Simeon the God-receiver and Anna the prophetess; Divine Liturgy at 9 am
The Meeting of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is described in the third Gospel (Luke 2:22-40). Forty days after His birth the Divine Child was brought to the Temple at Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord. According to the Law of Moses (Lev. 12:2-8), a woman who gave birth to a male child was forbidden to enter the Temple for forty days. At the end of the time of her purification, the mother went to the Temple with the child, to offer a young lamb, two turtledoves, or pigeons to the Lord as a sacrifice. The Most Holy Virgin had no need of purification, since she had given birth to the Source of purity and sanctity. Out of humility, however, she fulfilled the requirements of the Law.
At this time the righteous Elder Simeon (February 3) was living in Jerusalem. It had been revealed to him that he would not die until he beheld the promised Messiah. By divine inspiration, Saint Simeon went to the Temple at the very moment when the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Joseph had brought the Child Jesus to fulfill the Law.
Saint Simeon received the divine Child in his arms,1 and giving thanks to God, he spoke the words repeated by the Church each evening at Vespers: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). Saint Simeon said to the Most Holy Virgin: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).
At the Temple was an 84-year-old widow, Saint Anna the Prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel (February 3), “who did not leave the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day." She arrived just when Saint Simeon met the Divine Child. She also gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who were looking for redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). In the icon of the Feast she holds a scroll which reads: “This Child has established Heaven and earth.”
Before Christ was born, the righteous men and women lived by faith in the promised Messiah, and awaited His coming. The Righteous Simeon and the Prophetess Anna, the last righteous persons of the Old Testament, were deemed worthy to meet Him in the Temple.
The Feast of the Meeting of the Lord is among the most ancient feasts of the Christian Church. We have sermons by the holy bishops Methodios of Patara (+ 312), Cyril of Jerusalem (+ 360), Gregory the Theologian (+ 389), Amphilokhios of Iconium (+ 394), Gregory of Nyssa (+ 400), and John Chrysostom (+ 407). Despite its early origin, this Feast was not celebrated so splendidly until the VI century.
In 528, during the reign of Justinian, an earthquake killed many people in Antioch. Other misfortunes followed this one. In 541 a terrible plague broke out in Constantinople, carrying off several thousand people each day. During this time of widespread suffering, a solemn prayer service (Litia) for deliverence from evils was celebrated on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, and the plague ceased. Giving thanks to God, the Church established a more solemn celebration of this Feast.
Church hymnographers have adorned this Feast with their hymns: Saint Andrew of Crete in the VII century; Saint Cosmas Bishop of Maium, Saint John of Damascus, and Saint Germanus Patriarch of Constantinople in the VIII century; and Saint Joseph, Archbishop of Thessaloniki in the IX century.
Today we also commemorate the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos known as “the Softening of Evil Hearts” or “Simeon’s Prophecy.” The Mother of God is depicted without her Child, and seven swords piercing her breast: three from the left side, three from the right, and one from below.
A similar Icon, “Of the Seven Swords” (August 13) shows three swords on the left side and four from the right. The "Softening of Evil Hearts” Is also commemorated on August 13.
The Icon “Simeon’s Prophecy” symbolizes the fulfillment of the prophecy of the righteous Elder Simeon: “a sword shall pierce through your own soul” (Luke 2:35).
In Constantinople, the Emperors would celebrate the Feast Day at the Blakhernae church during the All-Night Vigil. This custom continued until the Fall of the Byzantine Empire.
1 For this reason, he is known as the God-Receiver (Θεοδόχος).
Our Pascha journey - 2022

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee Beginning of the Lenten Triodion
Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee Beginning of the Lenten Triodion
The Sunday after the Sunday of Zacchaeus is devoted to the Publican and the Pharisee. At Vespers the night before, the Triodion (the liturgical book used in the services of Great Lent) begins.
 
Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who scrupulously observed the requirements of religion: he prayed, fasted, and contributed money to the Temple. These are very good things, and should be imitated by anyone who loves God. We who may not fulfill these requirements as well as the Pharisee did should not feel entitled to criticize him for being faithful. His sin was in looking down on the Publican and feeling justified because of his external religious observances.
 
The second man was a Publican, a tax-collector who was despised by the people. He, however, displayed humility, and this humility justified him before God (Luke 18:14).
 
The lesson to be learned is that we possess neither the Pharisee’s religious piety, nor the Publican’s repentance, through which we can be saved. We are called to see ourselves as we really are in the light of Christ’s teaching, asking Him to be merciful to us, deliver us from sin, and to lead us on the path of salvation.
 
Two weeks before the beginning of the Fast, as part of our preparation for Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha, the Church prescribes the reading of Saint Mark's Gospel. From Monday to Friday the focus is on the end times, and the Savior's death and burial.
 
Holy Three Hierarchs - February 12
St Basil the Great, St John Chrysostom and St Gregory Theologian
Services at St George:
Vespers/confession on the Eve at pm
Divine Liturgy on Saturday, Feb 12 at am
 
Blessed Holy Day!
 
Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Theophany is the Feast which reveals the Most Holy Trinity to the world through the Baptism of the Lord (Mt.3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). God the Father spoke from Heaven about the Son, the Son was baptized by Saint John the Forerunner, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of dove. From ancient times this Feast was called the Day of Illumination and the Feast of Lights, since God is Light and has appeared to illumine “those who sat in darkness,” and “in the region of the shadow of death” (Mt.4:16), and to save the fallen race of mankind by grace.

In the ancient Church it was the custom to baptize catechumens at the Vespers of Theophany, so that Baptism also is revealed as the spiritual illumination of mankind.

The origin of the Feast of Theophany goes back to Apostolic times, and it is mentioned in The Apostolic Constitutions (Book V:13). From the second century we have the testimony of Saint Clement of Alexandria concerning the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and the night vigil before this Feast.

There is third century dialogue about the services for Theophany between the holy martyr Hippolytus and Saint Gregory the Wonderworker. In the following centuries, from the fourth to ninth century, all the great Fathers of the Church: Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, John of Damascus, commented on the Feast of Theophany.

The monks Joseph the Studite, Theophanes and Byzantios composed much liturgical music for this Feast, which is sung at Orthodox services even today. Saint John of Damascus said that the Lord was baptized, not because He Himself had need for cleansing, but “to bury human sin by water,” to fulfill the Law, to reveal the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and finally, to sanctify “the nature of water” and to offer us the form and example of Baptism.

On the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, the Holy Church proclaims our faith in the most sublime mystery, incomprehensible to human intellect, of one God in three Persons. It teaches us to confess and glorify the Holy Trinity, one in Essence and Undivided. It exposes and overthrows the errors of ancient teachings which attempted to explain the Creator of the world by reason, and in human terms.

The Church shows the necessity of Baptism for believers in Christ, and it inspires us with sense of deep gratitude for the illumination and purification of our sinful nature. The Church teaches that our salvation and cleansing from sin is possible only by the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit, therefore it is necessary to preserve worthily these gifts of the grace of holy Baptism, keeping clean this priceless garb, for “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27).

On the day of Theophany, all foods are permitted, even if the Feast falls on Wednesday or Friday.

The Circumcision of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

On the eighth day after His Nativity, our Lord Jesus Christ was circumcised in accordance with the Old Testament Law. All male infants underwent circumcision as sign of God’Covenant with the holy Forefather Abraham and his descendants [Genesis 17:10-14, Leviticus 12:3].

After this ritual, the Divine Infant was given the name Jesus, as the Archangel Gabriel declared on the day of the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos [Luke 1:31-33, 2:21]. The Fathers of the Church explain that the Lord, the Creator of the Law, underwent circumcision in order to give people an example of how faithfully the divine ordinances ought to be fulfilled. The Lord was circumcised so that later no one would doubt that He had truly assumed human flesh, and that His Incarnation was not merely an illusion, as certain heretics had taught.

In the New Testament, the ritual of circumcision gave way to the Mystery of Baptism, which it prefigured [Colossians 2:11-12]. Accounts of the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord continue in the Eastern Church right up through the fourth century. The Canon of the Feast was written by Saint Stephen of the Saint Savva Monastery.

In addition to circumcision, which the Lord accepted as sign of God’Covenant with mankind, He also received the Name Jesus [Savior] on the eighth day after His Nativity as an indication of His service, the work of the salvation of the world [Matthew 1:21; Mark 9:38-39, 16:17; Luke 10:17; Acts 3:6, 16; Philippians 2:9-10]. These two events -- the Lord’Circumcision and Naming -- remind Christians that they have entered into New Covenant with God and “are circumcised with circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” [Colossians 2:11]. The very name “Christian” is sign of mankind’entrance into New Covenant with God.

Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia

Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, “belongs not to the Church of Caesarea alone, nor merely to his own time, nor was he of benefit only to his own kinsmen, but rather to all lands and cities worldwide, and to all people he brought and still brings benefit, and for Christians he always was and will be most salvific teacher.” Thus spoke Saint Basil’contemporary, Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.

Saint Basil was born in the year 330 at Caesarea, the administrative center of Cappadocia. He was of illustrious lineage, famed for its eminence and wealth, and zealous for the Christian Faith. The saint’grandfather and grandmother on his father’side had to hide in the forests of Pontus for seven years during the persecution under Diocletian.

Saint Basil’mother Saint Emilia was the daughter of martyr. On the Greek calendar, she is commemorated on May 30. Saint Basil’father was also named Basil. He was lawyer and renowned rhetorician, and lived at Caesarea.

Ten children were born to the elder Basil and Emilia: five sons and five daughters. Five of them were later numbered among the saints: Basil the Great; Macrina (July 19) was an exemplar of ascetic life, and exerted strong influence on the life and character of Saint Basil the Great; Gregory, afterwards Bishop of Nyssa (January 10); Peter, Bishop of Sebaste (January 9); and Theosebia, deaconess (January 10).

Saint Basil spent the first years of his life on an estate belonging to his parents at the River Iris, where he was raised under the supervision of his mother Emilia and grandmother Macrina. They were women of great refinement, who remembered an earlier bishop of Cappadocia, Saint Gregory the Wonderworker (November 17). Basil received his initial education under the supervision of his father, and then he studied under the finest teachers in Caesarea of Cappadocia, and it was here that he made the acquaintance of Saint Gregory the Theologian (January 25 and January 30). Later, Basil transferred to school at Constantinople, where he listened to eminent orators and philosophers. To complete his education Saint Basil went to Athens, the center of classical enlightenment.

After four or five year stay at Athens, Basil had mastered all the available disciplines. “He studied everything thoroughly, more than others are wont to study single subject. He studied each science in its very totality, as though he would study nothing else.” Philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, naturalist, possessing profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics and medicine, “he was ship fully laden with learning, to the extent permitted by human nature.”

At Athens close friendship developed between Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus), which continued throughout their life. In fact, they regarded themselves as one soul in two bodies. Later on, in his eulogy for Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian speaks with delight about this period: “Various hopes guided us, and indeed inevitably, in learning... Two paths opened up before us: the one to our sacred temples and the teachers therein; the other towards preceptors of disciplines beyond.”

About the year 357, Saint Basil returned to Caesarea, where for while he devoted himself to rhetoric. But soon, refusing offers from Caesarea’citizens who wanted to entrust him with the education of their offspring, Saint Basil entered upon the path of ascetic life.

After the death of her husband, Basil’mother, her eldest daughter Macrina, and several female servants withdrew to the family estate at Iris and there began to lead an ascetic life. Basil was baptized by Dianios, the Bishop of Caesarea, and was tonsured Reader (On the Holy Spirit, 29). He first read the Holy Scriptures to the people, then explained them.

Later on, “wishing to acquire guide to the knowledge of truth”, the saint undertook journey into Egypt, Syria and Palestine, to meet the great Christian ascetics dwelling there. On returning to Cappadocia, he decided to do as they did. He distributed his wealth to the needy, then settled on the opposite side of the river not far from his mother Emilia and sister Macrina, gathering around him monks living cenobitic life.

By his letters, Basil drew his good friend Gregory the Theologian to the monastery. Saints Basil and Gregory labored in strict abstinence in their dwelling place, which had no roof or fireplace, and the food was very humble. They themselves cleared away the stones, planted and watered the trees, and carried heavy loads. Their hands were constantly calloused from the hard work. For clothing Basil had only tunic and monastic mantle. He wore hairshirt, but only at night, so that it would not be obvious.

In their solitude, Saints Basil and Gregory occupied themselves in an intense study of Holy Scripture. They were guided by the writings of the Fathers and commentators of the past, especially the good writings of Origen. From all these works they compiled an anthology called Philokalia. Also at this time, at the request of the monks, Saint Basil wrote down collection of rules for virtuous life. By his preaching and by his example Saint Basil assisted in the spiritual perfection of Christians in Cappadocia and Pontus; and many indeed turned to him. Monasteries were organized for men and for women, in which places Basil sought to combine the cenobitic (koine bios, or common) lifestyle with that of the solitary hermit.

During the reign of Constantius (337-361) the heretical teachings of Arius were spreading, and the Church summoned both its saints into service. Saint Basil returned to Caesarea. In the year 362 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Meletius of Antioch. In 364 he was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea. “But seeing,” as Gregory the Theologian relates, “that everyone exceedingly praised and honored Basil for his wisdom and reverence, Eusebius, through human weakness, succumbed to jealousy of him, and began to show dislike for him.” The monks rose up in defense of Saint Basil. To avoid causing Church discord, Basil withdrew to his own monastery and concerned himself with the organization of monasteries.

With the coming to power of the emperor Valens (364-378), who was resolute adherent of Arianism, time of troubles began for Orthodoxy, the onset of great struggle. Saint Basil hastily returned to Caesarea at the request of Bishop Eusebius. In the words of Gregory the Theologian, he was for Bishop Eusebius “good advisor, righteous representative, an expounder of the Word of God, staff for the aged, faithful support in internal matters, and an activist in external matters.”

From this time church governance passed over to Basil, though he was subordinate to the hierarch. He preached daily, and often twice, in the morning and in the evening. During this time Saint Basil composed his Liturgy. He wrote work “On the Six Days of Creation” (Hexaemeron) and another on the Prophet Isaiah in sixteen chapters, yet another on the Psalms, and also second compilation of monastic rules. Saint Basil wrote also three books “Against Eunomius,” an Arian teacher who, with the help of Aristotelian concepts, had presented the Arian dogma in philosophic form, converting Christian teaching into logical scheme of rational concepts.

Saint Gregory the Theologian, speaking about the activity of Basil the Great during this period, points to “the caring for the destitute and the taking in of strangers, the supervision of virgins, written and unwritten monastic rules for monks, the arrangement of prayers [Liturgy], the felicitous arrangement of altars and other things.” Upon the death of Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea, Saint Basil was chosen to succeed him in the year 370. As Bishop of Caesarea, Saint Basil the Great was the newest of fifty bishops in eleven provinces. Saint Athanasius the Great (May 2), with joy and with thanks to God welcomed the appointment to Cappadocia of such bishop as Basil, famed for his reverence, deep knowledge of Holy Scripture, great learning, and his efforts for the welfare of Church peace and unity.

Under Valens, the external government belonged to the Arians, who held various opinions regarding the divinity of the Son of God, and were divided into several factions. These dogmatic disputes were concerned with questions about the Holy Spirit. In his books Against Eunomios, Saint Basil the Great taught the divinity of the Holy Spirit and His equality with the Father and the Son. Subsequently, in order to provide full explanation of Orthodox teaching on this question, Saint Basil wrote his book On the Holy Spirit at the request of Saint Amphilochius, the Bishop of Iconium.

Saint Basil’difficulties were made worse by various circumstances: Cappadocia was divided in two under the rearrangement of provincial districts. Then at Antioch schism occurred, occasioned by the consecration of second bishop. There was the negative and haughty attitude of Western bishops to the attempts to draw them into the struggle with the Arians. And there was also the departure of Eustathius of Sebaste over to the Arian side. Basil had been connected to him by ties of close friendship. Amidst the constant perils Saint Basil gave encouragement to the Orthodox, confirmed them in the Faith, summoning them to bravery and endurance. The holy bishop wrote numerous letters to the churches, to bishops, to clergy and to individuals. Overcoming the heretics “by the weapon of his mouth, and by the arrows of his letters,” as an untiring champion of Orthodoxy, Saint Basil challenged the hostility and intrigues of the Arian heretics all his life. He has been compared to bee, stinging the Church’enemies, yet nourishing his flock with the sweet honey of his teaching.

The emperor Valens, mercilessly sending into exile any bishop who displeased him, and having implanted Arianism into other Asia Minor provinces, suddenly appeared in Cappadocia for this same purpose. He sent the prefect Modestus to Saint Basil. He began to threaten the saint with the confiscation of his property, banishment, beatings, and even death.

Saint Basil said, “If you take away my possessions, you will not enrich yourself, nor will you make me pauper. You have no need of my old worn-out clothing, nor of my few books, of which the entirety of my wealth is comprised. Exile means nothing to me, since am bound to no particular place. This place in which now dwell is not mine, and any place you send me shall be mine. Better to say: every place is God’s. Where would be neither stranger and sojourner (Ps. 38/39:13)? Who can torture me? am so weak, that the very first blow would render me insensible. Death would be kindness to me, for it will bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom live and labor, and to Whom hasten.”

The official was stunned by his answer. “No one has ever spoken so audaciously to me,” he said.

Perhaps,” the saint remarked, “ that is because you’ve never spoken to bishop before. In all else we are meek, the most humble of all. But when it concerns God, and people rise up against Him, then we, counting everything else as naught, look to Him alone. Then fire, sword, wild beasts and iron rods that rend the body, serve to fill us with joy, rather than fear.”

Reporting to Valens that Saint Basil was not to be intimidated, Modestus said, “Emperor, we stand defeated by leader of the Church.” Basil the Great again showed firmness before the emperor and his retinue and made such strong impression on Valens that the emperor dared not give in to the Arians demanding Basil’exile. “On the day of Theophany, amidst an innumerable multitude of the people, Valens entered the church and mixed in with the throng, in order to give the appearance of being in unity with the Church. When the singing of Psalms began in the church, it was like thunder to his hearing. The emperor beheld sea of people, and in the altar and all around was splendor; in front of all was Basil, who acknowledged neither by gesture nor by glance, that anything else was going on in church.” Everything was focused only on God and the altar-table, and the clergy serving there in awe and reverence.

Saint Basil celebrated the church services almost every day. He was particularly concerned about the strict fulfilling of the Canons of the Church, and took care that only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy. He incessantly made the rounds of his own church, lest anywhere there be an infraction of Church discipline, and setting aright any unseemliness. At Caesarea, Saint Basil built two monasteries, men’and women’s, with church in honor of the Forty Martyrs (March 9) whose relics were buried there. Following the example of monks, the saint’clergy, even deacons and priests, lived in remarkable poverty, to toil and lead chaste and virtuous lives. For his clergy Saint Basil obtained an exemption from taxation. He used all his personal wealth and the income from his church for the benefit of the destitute; in every center of his diocese he built poor-house; and at Caesarea, home for wanderers and the homeless.

Sickly since youth, the toil of teaching, his life of abstinence, and the concerns and sorrows of pastoral service took their toll on him. Saint Basil died on January 1, 379 at age 49. Shortly before his death, the saint blessed Saint Gregory the Theologian to accept the See of Constantinople.

Upon the repose of Saint Basil, the Church immediately began to celebrate his memory. Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium (November 23), in his eulogy to Saint Basil the Great, said: “It is neither without reason nor by chance that holy Basil has taken leave from the body and had repose from the world unto God on the day of the Circumcision of Jesus, celebrated between the day of the Nativity and the day of the Baptism of Christ. Therefore, this most blessed one, preaching and praising the Nativity and Baptism of Christ, extolling spiritual circumcision, himself forsaking the flesh, now ascends to Christ on the sacred day of remembrance of the Circumcision of Christ. Therefore, let it also be established on this present day annually to honor the memory of Basil the Great festively and with solemnity.”

Saint Basil is also called “the revealer of heavenly mysteries” (Ouranophantor), a “renowned and bright star,” and “the glory and beauty of the Church.” His honorable head is in the Great Lavra on Mount Athos.

Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen

Commemorated on December 27/January 9

The Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen was the eldest of the seven deacons, appointed by the Apostles themselves, and therefore he is called “archdeacon.” He was the first Christian martyr, and he suffered for Christ when he was about thirty. In the words of Asterias, he was “the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed his blood for the Gospel.”

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Saint Stephen preached Christianity and defeated Jewish teachers of the Law in debate. The Jews maligned Saint Stephen, saying that he had uttered blasphemy against God and against Moses. Saint Stephen came before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest to answer these charges. He gave fiery speech, in which he recounted the history of the Jewish nation, and denounced the Jews for persecuting the prophets, and also for executing the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ (Acts ch. 7).

During his speech, Saint Stephen suddenly saw the heavens opened and Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God. The Jews shouted and covered their ears, and rushed at him. They dragged him out of the city and stoned him, but the holy martyr prayed for his murderers. Far off on the heights stood the Mother of God with the holy Apostle John the Theologian, and She prayed fervently for the martyr. Before his death Saint Stephen said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Then he joyfully gave up his pure soul to Christ.

The body of the holy Protomartyr Stephen, left to be eaten by beasts, was secretly taken up by the Jewish teacher Gamaliel and his son Habib, who buried Stephen on his estate. They both believed in Christ, and later received holy Baptism.

Saint Stephen is also commemorated on August 2/15 (Translation of his relics) and on September 15 (Uncovering of his relics in the year 415).

 

Srecno Badnje Vece Blessed Nativity Eve!
Services in Church:
Divine Liturgy of ST Basil at am
Compline and Matins at pm, the blessing of badnjak (Yule Log) and refreshments after the services in the Social Center
Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, Bishop of Antioch

The Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, was disciple of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, as was also Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (February 23). Saint Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch, and successor to Bishop Euodius, Apostle of the Seventy (September 7).

Tradition suggests that when Saint Ignatius was little boy, the Savior hugged him and said: “Unless you turn and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 18:3). The saint was called “God-Bearer” (Theophoros), because he bore God in his heart and prayed unceasingly to Him. He also had this name because he was held in the arms of Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

Saint Ignatius was disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian, together with Saint Polycarp of Smyrna. As Bishop of Antioch, Saint Ignatius was zealous and spared no effort to build up the church of Christ. To him is attributed the practice of antiphonal singing (by two choirs) during church services. He had seen vision of the angels in heaven alternately singing praises to God, and divided his church choir to follow this example. In the time of persecution he was source of strength to the souls of his flock, and was eager to suffer for Christ.

In the year 106 the emperor Trajan (98-117), after his victory over the Scythians, ordered everyone to give thanks to the pagan gods, and to put to death any Christians who refused to worship the idols. In the year 107, Trajan happened to pass through Antioch. Here they told him that Bishop Ignatius openly confessed Christ, and taught people to scorn riches, to lead virtuous life, and preserve their virginity. Saint Ignatius came voluntarily before the emperor, so as to avert persecution of the Christians in Antioch. Saint Ignatius rejected the persistent requests of the emperor Trajan to sacrifice to the idols. The emperor then decided to send him to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts. Saint Ignatius joyfully accepted the sentence imposed upon him. His readiness for martyrdom was attested to by eyewitnesses, who accompanied Saint Ignatius from Antioch to Rome.

On the way to Rome, the ship sailed from Seleucia stopped at Smyrna, where Saint Ignatius met with his friend Bishop Polycarp. Clergy and believers from other cities and towns thronged to see Saint Ignatius. He exhorted everyone not to fear death and not to grieve for him. In his Epistle to the Roman Christians, he asked them to assist him with their prayers, and to pray that God would strengthen him in his impending martyrdom for Christ: “seek Him Who died for us; desire Him Who rose for our salvation... In me, desire has been nailed to the cross, and no flame of material longing is left. Only the living water speaks within me, saying, ‘Hasten to the Father.’”

From Smyrna, Saint Ignatius went to Troas. Here he heard the happy news of the end of the persecution against Christians in Antioch. From Troas, Saint Ignatius sailed to Neapolis (in Macedonia) and then to Philippi.

On the way to Rome Saint Ignatius visited several churches, teaching and guiding the Christians there. He also wrote seven epistles: to the churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna. He also addressed letter to Saint Polycarp, who mentions collection of the letters of Saint Ignatius in his letter to the Philippians (Ch. 13). Saint Irenaeus of Lyons quotes from Saint Ignatius’letter to the Romans (AGAINST HERESIES 5:28:4). All these letters have survived to the present day.

The Roman Christians met Saint Ignatius with great joy and profound sorrow. Some of them hoped to prevent his execution, but Saint Ignatius implored them not to do this. Kneeling down, he prayed together with the believers for the Church, for love between the brethren, and for an end to the persecution against Christians.

On December 20, the day of pagan festival, they led Saint Ignatius into the arena, and he turned to the people: “Men of Rome, you know that am sentenced to death, not because of any crime, but because of my love for God, by Whose love am embraced. long to be with Him, and offer myself to him as pure loaf, made of fine wheat ground fine by the teeth of wild beasts.”

After this the lions were released and tore him to pieces, leaving only his heart and few bones. Tradition says that on his way to execution, Saint Ignatius unceasingly repeated the name of Jesus Christ. When they asked him why he was doing this, Saint Ignatius answered that this Name was written in his heart, and that he confessed with his lips Him Whom he always carried within. When the saint was devoured by the lions, his heart was not touched. When they cut open the heart, the pagans saw an inscription in gold letters: “Jesus Christ.” After his execution Saint Ignatius appeared to many of the faithful in their sleep to comfort them, and some saw him at prayer for the city of Rome.

Hearing of the saint’great courage, Trajan thought well of him and stopped the persecution against the Christians. The relics of Saint Ignatius were transferred to Antioch (January 29), and on February 1, 637 were returned to Rome and placed in the church of San Clemente.

 

2022 Nativity Services Schedule
SPECIAL SUNDAYS APPROACHING THE NATIVITY

In the church services for the Feast Day of the Lord's Nativity there are three special Sundays, two before and one after Christmas. These are the Sundays of the Forefathers, Holy Fathers and God-bearing Fathers. On the Sunday of the Forefathers (in Serbian known as "Materice" Mother's Day) we commemorate in the services all the ancestors of the People of God, from Adam to Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary.

We mention all the prophets also, who preached about Christ, from Samuel to John the Baptist. On the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (known among us as "Oci" Father's Day) we celebrate all of Christ's ancestors according to the flesh who are mentioned in the genealogy in the gospels according to Matthew and Luke. On the Sunday of the God-bearing Fathers, after the Nativity, we remember Righteous Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary and King David as the direct ancestor of Jesus.

Awaiting the most holiest feast of the Nativity on earth, the Serbian people and Serbian church on the three Sundays leading up to this Feast commemorate our earthly family, which is the little Church and an image of God's love in the Holy Trinity. Therefore, it is a typical Serbian celebration just as the Krsna Slava is a Serbian celebration.

In the book "Veronauka u kuci" from 1982 it states: "In preparating for this most joyous day, exclusively among our Serbian people, are the three last Sundays before Christmas, which our people have special names: Detinjci, Materice and Ocevi (Children's, Mother's and Father's Day), as well as the days before the feast: Tucindan and Badnjidan.

On these Sundays of preparation before Christmas the folk customs are mostly the same everywhere. First fathers and mothers, on the third Sunday before Christmas, Children's Day, tie up their children in the morning, sometimes even the ones in cribs, and children have to "untie" themselves. Since this is always the Sunday after St. Nicholas, usually it is said that "St. Nicholas brings presents to the chidlren in the morning".

On the second Sunday before Christmas, called Mother's Day, fathers and children "tie" their mothers and they have to "untie" themselves. On the Sunday before Christmas, called Father's Day, mothers and children "tie" their fathers and they have to "untie" themselves. This mutual "untiying" is the mutual giving of the gift of love, which creates the festal, solemn atmosphere in the family, Christian circles. Such a festal atmosphere was created by the Wise Men who came from the East to the Holy Family of the Christ Child prostrating themselves before Him at the cave in Bethlehem, with the gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold. The symbolism of this mutual "tying" and "untiying" of children and parents is clear: we are preparing ourselves in welcoming the most joyous Christian feast - Christmas, that reconciled man with God untiying him from the bonds of sin, and binding him with the new ties of love for God. In the desire, therefore, that we welcome His coming bound with the tightest ties of mutual love, since He too is Love, which is the "bond of perfection" and on Children's, Mother's and Father's Day we are mutually being "tied" and "untied". This tying and untiying goes beyond our family cirlce and goes to our relatives, friends and all of our acquiantances and thus the spontaneous tying and untiying of all Serbs, Orthodox Christians, before the Feast of the Nativity of our Savior, occurs, who unbound Adam and Eve of eternal death and gave them life eternal.  

And so, the Serbian people exclusively created this based on their own experience of our Christian-Orthodox calendar which is also our Serbian national calendar. Children's, Mother's and Father's Day are, therefore, our national holidays strung upon the forefeast of the Nativity of Christ, so that in the middle is Mother's Day, the day of mothers, since mothers are the tie according to which we say, "if there were no mothers, there would be no world".

Mother's Day is a holiday of the holy Serbian mothers, Children's Day is a day of the holy Serbian children and Father's Day is the day of the holy Serbian fathers, whose number is unknown.

Author: Very Rev. Petar Petrovic

Illustration: Milan Kecman

St Nicholas the Wonderworker December 6/19

Srecna Slava to all who celebrate this wonderful Saint!

More than 1,600 years ago, in the year 270 AD, St. Nicholas was born not far from Myra, in what is now modern-day Turkey. At that time, Orthodox Christians were persecuted for their faith. Many of them were tortured and executed because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

Nicholas was taught by his parents to love the Lord with his whole mind, heart, soul, and with all his strength. When they died he inherited their money. He used this to help the poor, the hungry, and the sick. Whenever he helped anyone he did it secretly, so that only God would know, He did not want praise from people; he wanted his reward to be only in Heaven.

After he gave away the money his parents had left him he decided to become a monk. He went to a monastery where he lived and worked and prayed, intending to spend the rest of his life repenting of his sins. But soon it became clear that God wanted him to be a priest, and so he began to study the Law of God.

St. Nicholas became the parish priest of a village church after his ordination. He worked very hard, instructing his flock and helping those in need. He also performed all the Divine Services and was a spiritual father to all.
He Becomes Archbishop

It came that the then Archbishop of Myra died. The other bishops, as well as the priests and people of the town, gathered to choose a successor. They couldn’t decide who should be their new archbishop. They kept a vigil and prayed all night long in the cathedral, begging God to guide them. God revealed to one of the bishops that the first priest to enter the church in the morning should be chosen as the new archbishop. At sunrise, a simple priest, Father Nicholas, came quietly into the cathedral to say his morning prayers. In this way, the Lord God revealed His choice for the archbishop.
A Church Council

In the year 325 a great Council of the Orthodox Church was held in the city of Nicea. 317 bishops from all over the world came. At this Council part of the Creed, we sing in every Divine Liturgy was written down and St. Nicholas had a wonderful opportunity to defend the teachings of the Church against Arius who denied that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh and was leading many people astray by his false teaching. Upon hearing the blasphemies that Arius brazenly uttered against the Son of God, Saint Nicholas struck him on the face.  Since the canons of the Church forbid the clergy to strike any man at all, his fellow bishops were in perplexity what disciplinary action was to be taken against this hierarch whom all revered.  In the night our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lady Theotokos appeared to certain bishops, informing them that no action was to be taken against him since he had acted not out of passion, but out of extreme love and piety.

A Wonderworker

St. Nicholas followed the words of our Lord, Lay up treasure for yourself in Heaven, by saying his prayers every day, by fasting, and by performing many good deeds. God was so pleased that He worked many miracles through him. Because he was able to calm storms on the sea he became known as the patron saint of sailors. Because he protected children (he even raised 3 children from the dead!), he is also a patron of young people. He was able to multiply food, just as our Saviour did with the fish and loaves, and in this way he once kept a whole city from starving. People began to call him a “wonderworker” (a person who works wonders or performs miracles). They were so inspired by his life of service to others that many of them, too, began to lead holy lives, filled with good deeds.

After a long life, God called his slave home to heaven on December 6, 343. He was buried in his cathedral, but in the year 1087 the remains of his holy body (relics) were taken to Italy to save them from the Turks who were persecuting Christians and destroying churches and holy objects, and they remain to this day in the city of Bari. The Orthodox Church celebrates this translation of his relics on May 9, St, Nicholas led a life so pleasing to God, that God glorified His saint even after his death, As a sign of God’s grace, a fragrant substance called “myrrh” comes from the relics of St. Nicholas and many sick people anoint themselves with it and receive healing. There is an Orthodox church in Bari whose priest frequently celebrates services before the relics, asking St. Nicholas to pray for us before the throne oI God.

People all over the world know and love St. Nicholas. For instance, he is the patron of Russia. Children in America, Germany, Holland, and many other countries know about him. Unfortunately very few know that he was a Bishop of the Orthodox Church. American children don’t know that Santa Claus is St. Nicholas (Santa comes from the Latin for “saint”; Claus is a nickname for “Nicholas”). They know most about his gift-giving to children; they don’t realize that he was so generous because he loved Christ more than anything else and wanted to serve Him by helping others.

Orthodox children are fortunate to know the whole story of St. Nicholas, and not just one small part of it. We should try to tell our non-Orthodox friends and neighbors the truth about “Santa Claus” so that they too, can realize how important and wonderful it is to follow Christ!

The Origin of the Christmas Stocking
One old man was so poor that he decided to send his three beautiful daughters into the streets to make a living. Finding out about this, St. Nicholas came secretly at night and threw some gold coins tied in a stocking through the window. In the morning they found the money and gave thanks to God for saving them from misfortune.

 

Great Martyr Barbara / Sv velikomucenica Varvara December 17

Greatmartyr Barbara and Martyr Juliana, at Heliopolis in Syria

The Holy Great Martyr Barbara lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Her father, the pagan Dioscorus, was a rich and illustrious man in the Syrian city of Heliopolis. After the death of his wife, he devoted himself to his only daughter.

Seeing Barbara’s extraordinary beauty, Dioscorus decided to hide her from the eyes of strangers. Therefore, he built a tower for Barbara, where only her pagan teachers were allowed to see her. From the tower there was a view of hills stretching into the distance. By day she was able to gaze upon the wooded hills, the swiftly flowing rivers, and the meadows covered with a mottled blanket of flowers; by night the harmonious and majestic vault of the heavens twinkled and provided a spectacle of inexpressible beauty. Soon the virgin began to ask herself questions about the First Cause and Creator of so harmonious and splendid a world.

Gradually, she became convinced that the soulless idols were merely the work of human hands. Although her father and teachers offered them worship, she realized that the idols could not have made the surrounding world. The desire to know the true God so consumed her soul that Barbara decided to devote all her life to this goal and to spend her life in virginity.

The fame of her beauty spread throughout the city, and many sought her hand in marriage. But despite the entreaties of her father, she refused all of them. Barbara warned her father that his persistence might end tragically and separate them forever. Dioscorus decided that the temperament of his daughter had been affected by her life of seclusion. He therefore permitted her to leave the tower and gave her full freedom in her choice of friends and acquaintances. Thus Barbara met young Christian maidens in the city, and they taught her about the Creator of the world, about the Trinity, and about the Divine Logos. Through the Providence of God, a priest arrived in Heliopolis from Alexandria disguised as a merchant. After instructing her in the mysteries of the Christian Faith, he baptized Barbara, then returned to his own country.

During this time a luxurious bathhouse was being built at the house of Dioscorus. By his orders the workers prepared to put two windows on the south side. But Barbara, taking advantage of her father’s absence, asked them to make a third window, thereby forming a Trinity of light. On one of the walls of the bath-house Barbara traced a cross with her finger. The cross was deeply etched into the marble, as if by an iron instrument. Later, her footprints were imprinted on the stone steps of the bathhouse. The water of the bathhouse had great healing power. Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9) compared the bathhouse to the stream of Jordan and the Pool of Siloam, because by God’s power, many miracles took place there.

When Dioscorus returned and expressed dissatisfaction about the change in his building plans, his daughter told him about how she had come to know the Triune God, about the saving power of the Son of God, and about the futility of worshipping idols. Dioscorus went into a rage, grabbed a sword and was on the point of striking her with it. The holy virgin fled from her father, and he rushed after her in pursuit. His way became blocked by a hill, which opened up and concealed the saint in a crevice. On the other side of the crevice was an entrance leading upwards. Saint Barbara managed then to conceal herself in a cave on the opposite slope of the hill.

After a long and fruitless search for his daughter, Dioscorus saw two shepherds on the hill. One of them showed him the cave where the saint had hidden. Dioscorus beat his daughter terribly, and then placed her under guard and tried to wear her down with hunger. Finally he handed her over to the prefect of the city, named Martianus. They beat Saint Barbara fiercely: they struck her with rawhide, and rubbed her wounds with a hair cloth to increase her pain. By night Saint Barbara prayed fervently to her Heavenly Bridegroom, and the Savior Himself appeared and healed her wounds. Then they subjected the saint to new, and even more frightful torments.

In the crowd where the martyr was tortured was the virtuous Christian woman Juliana, an inhabitant of Heliopolis. Her heart was filled with sympathy for the voluntary martyrdom of the beautiful and illustrious maiden. Juliana also wanted to suffer for Christ. She began to denounce the torturers in a loud voice, and they seized her.

Both martyrs were tortured for a long time. Their bodies were raked and wounded with hooks, and then they were led naked through the city amidst derision and jeers. Through the prayers of Saint Barbara, the Lord sent an angel who covered the nakedness of the holy martyrs with a splendid robe. Then the steadfast confessors of Christ, Saints Barbara, and Juliana, were beheaded. Dioscorus himself executed Saint Barbara. The wrath of God was not

The Holy Great Martyr Barbara lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Her father, the pagan Dioscorus, was a rich and illustrious man in the Syrian city of Heliopolis. After the death of his wife, he devoted himself to his only daughter.

Seeing Barbara’s extraordinary beauty, Dioscorus decided to hide her from the eyes of strangers. Therefore, he built a tower for Barbara, where only her pagan teachers were allowed to see her. From the tower there was a view of hills stretching into the distance. By day she was able to gaze upon the wooded hills, the swiftly flowing rivers, and the meadows covered with a mottled blanket of flowers; by night the harmonious and majestic vault of the heavens twinkled and provided a spectacle of inexpressible beauty. Soon the virgin began to ask herself questions about the First Cause and Creator of so harmonious and splendid a world.

Gradually, she became convinced that the soulless idols were merely the work of human hands. Although her father and teachers offered them worship, she realized that the idols could not have made the surrounding world. The desire to know the true God so consumed her soul that Barbara decided to devote all her life to this goal and to spend her life in virginity.

The fame of her beauty spread throughout the city, and many sought her hand in marriage. But despite the entreaties of her father, she refused all of them. Barbara warned her father that his persistence might end tragically and separate them forever. Dioscorus decided that the temperament of his daughter had been affected by her life of seclusion. He therefore permitted her to leave the tower and gave her full freedom in her choice of friends and acquaintances. Thus Barbara met young Christian maidens in the city, and they taught her about the Creator of the world, about the Trinity, and about the Divine Logos. Through the Providence of God, a priest arrived in Heliopolis from Alexandria disguised as a merchant. After instructing her in the mysteries of the Christian Faith, he baptized Barbara, then returned to his own country.

During this time a luxurious bathhouse was being built at the house of Dioscorus. By his orders the workers prepared to put two windows on the south side. But Barbara, taking advantage of her father’s absence, asked them to make a third window, thereby forming a Trinity of light. On one of the walls of the bath-house Barbara traced a cross with her finger. The cross was deeply etched into the marble, as if by an iron instrument. Later, her footprints were imprinted on the stone steps of the bathhouse. The water of the bathhouse had great healing power. Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9) compared the bathhouse to the stream of Jordan and the Pool of Siloam, because by God’s power, many miracles took place there.

When Dioscorus returned and expressed dissatisfaction about the change in his building plans, his daughter told him about how she had come to know the Triune God, about the saving power of the Son of God, and about the futility of worshipping idols. Dioscorus went into a rage, grabbed a sword and was on the point of striking her with it. The holy virgin fled from her father, and he rushed after her in pursuit. His way became blocked by a hill, which opened up and concealed the saint in a crevice. On the other side of the crevice was an entrance leading upwards. Saint Barbara managed then to conceal herself in a cave on the opposite slope of the hill.

After a long and fruitless search for his daughter, Dioscorus saw two shepherds on the hill. One of them showed him the cave where the saint had hidden. Dioscorus beat his daughter terribly, and then placed her under guard and tried to wear her down with hunger. Finally he handed her over to the prefect of the city, named Martianus. They beat Saint Barbara fiercely: they struck her with rawhide, and rubbed her wounds with a hair cloth to increase her pain. By night Saint Barbara prayed fervently to her Heavenly Bridegroom, and the Savior Himself appeared and healed her wounds. Then they subjected the saint to new, and even more frightful torments.

In the crowd where the martyr was tortured was the virtuous Christian woman Juliana, an inhabitant of Heliopolis. Her heart was filled with sympathy for the voluntary martyrdom of the beautiful and illustrious maiden. Juliana also wanted to suffer for Christ. She began to denounce the torturers in a loud voice, and they seized her.

Both martyrs were tortured for a long time. Their bodies were raked and wounded with hooks, and then they were led naked through the city amidst derision and jeers. Through the prayers of Saint Barbara, the Lord sent an angel who covered the nakedness of the holy martyrs with a splendid robe. Then the steadfast confessors of Christ, Saints Barbara, and Juliana, were beheaded. Dioscorus himself executed Saint Barbara. The wrath of God was not slow to punish both torturers, Martianus and Dioscorus. They were killed after being struck by lightning.

In the sixth century, the relics of the holy Great Martyr Barbara were transferred to Constantinople. Six hundred years later, they were transferred to Kiev (July 11) by Barbara, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenos, wife of the Russian prince Michael Izyaslavich. They rest even now at Kiev’s Saint Vladimir cathedral, where an Akathist to the saint is served each Tuesday.

Many pious Orthodox Christians are in the habit of chanting the Troparion of Saint Barbara each day, recalling the Savior’s promise to her that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from a sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

slow to punish both torturers, Martianus and Dioscorus. They were killed after being struck by lightning.

In the sixth century, the relics of the holy Great Martyr Barbara were transferred to Constantinople. Six hundred years later, they were transferred to Kiev (July 11) by Barbara, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenos, wife of the Russian prince Michael Izyaslavich. They rest even now at Kiev’s Saint Vladimir cathedral, where an Akathist to the saint is served each Tuesday.

Many pious Orthodox Christians are in the habit of chanting the Troparion of Saint Barbara each day, recalling the Savior’s promise to her that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from a sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

 

The life of St. Mardarije of Libertyville (1889-1935)

Born in village of Kornet, Ljesani County, in Montenegro, on November 2, 1889, to pious parents Petar and Jela Uskokovic, he was baptized in his village church dedicated to St. George and received his baptismal name Ivan. His mother was from the well-known Bozovic family. Both of his parents were well respected in their community holding the office of leadership and particularly his father was a captain of their clan.

Considering his parents’ status, young Ivan was sent to further his education, first in Rijeka Crnojevic, Cetinje, and then in Belgrade, Serbia. While in Belgrade, young Ivan advanced his childhood desire to serve God and the Church, and so from there he headed to monastery Studenica where after a short period of novice life he gets tonsured to monasticism having received the name Mardarije. With the decision of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, now young hierodeacon Mardarije is sent to Russia where he spent twelve years (1905-1917) furthering his theological education and growing in wisdom. From there, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church sent him to the United States of America to organize the Serbian Orthodox Church. On December 1, 1923, now archimandrite Mardarije is appointed as administrator of the Serbian American-Canadian diocese with the see in Chicago and that same year he purchased around ten acres of land in Libertyville, Illinois, where later St. Sava monastery was built. He was elected by the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church as the first bishop for the newly established diocese in America on December 7, 1925, and his consecration took place on Palm Sunday, the Feast of the Entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, on April 25, 1926.

From then on His Grace Bishop Mardarije, the first bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, labored tirelessly in building churches, St. Sava monastery in Libertyville, sowing Christian love, spread peace, preached and witnessed the Gospel of Christ throughout his diocese. In spite of inescapable wordly trends, he lived spontaneity of truth and a provision of grace, just because Life has dawned from the Tomb, and is dawning still. Having labored as bishop for a little over nine years he died peacefully on December 12, 1935, hospitalized in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while writing his last Nativity Encyclical to his beloved flock. His earthly remains were laid to rest at St. Sava monastery in Libertyville. The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church during its regular session held from May 14-29, 2015 brought forth a decision that his name be added to the Diptych of saints of the Holy Orthodox Church.

From the Holy Hierarch Mardarije, we see how the grace of God reaches the heart of our cities, bringing to the confusion of the world the breeze of the Spirit and the serenity of the Age to come.

Troparion of Sts. Mardarije and Sebastian:
O God of our Fathers,
Always act with kindness towards us;
Take not Your mercy from us,
But through the prayers of Saints Mardarije
and Sebastian
Guide our lives in peace.

Kontakion to St. Mardarije of Libertyville, Tone 8:
Tireless preacher of Christ the Lord,
Leader on the path of St. Sava for your people in diaspora,
Labor-loving practitioner and teacher of repentance,
Holy Mardarije of Libertyville and America,
Together with all the Enlighteners of the
American lands,
Entreat the only Lover of Mankind,
To grant all Orthodox Christians peace and unity!

Кондак Светоме Мардарију Либертивилском, глас 8:
Неуморни проповедниче Христа Господа,
Светосавски человођо народа свога у расејању,
трудољубиви зиждитељу и учитељу покајања,
Свети Мардарије Либертивилски и Амерички,
са свима Просветељима американске земље
моли јединога Човекољупца
да подари мир и слогу роду Православноме!

 

The Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple / Vavedenije

The Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple

According to Holy Tradition, the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple took place in the following manner. The parents of the Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim and Anna, praying for an end to their childlessness, vowed that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of God.

When the Most Holy Virgin reached the age of three, the holy parents decided to fulfill their vow. They gathered together their relatives and acquaintances, and dressed the All-Pure Virgin in Her finest clothes. Singing sacred songs and with lighted candles in their hands, virgins escorted Her to the Temple (Ps. 44/45:14-15). There the High Priest and several priests met the handmaiden of God. In the Temple, fifteen high steps led to the sanctuary, which only the priests and High Priest could enter. (Because they recited a Psalm on each step, Psalms 119/120-133/134 are called “Psalms of Ascent.”) The child Mary, so it seemed, could not make it up this stairway. But just as they placed Her on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, She quickly went up the remaining steps and ascended to the highest one. Then the High Priest, through inspiration from above, led the Most Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest entered once a year to offer a purifying sacrifice of blood. Therefore, all those present in the Temple were astonished at this most unusual occurrence.

After entrusting their child to the Heavenly Father, Joachim and Anna returned home. The All-Holy Virgin remained in the quarters for virgins near the Temple. According to the testimony of Holy Scripture (Exodus 38; 1 Kings 1: 28; Luke 2: 37), and also the historian Josephus Flavius, there were many living quarters around the Temple, in which those who were dedicated to the service of God dwelt.

The earthly life of the Most Holy Theotokos from Her infancy until She was taken up to Heaven is shrouded in deep mystery. Her life at the Jerusalem Temple was also a secret. “If anyone were to ask me,” said Saint Jerome, “how the Most Holy Virgin spent the time of Her youth, I would answer that that is known to God Himself and the Archangel Gabriel, Her constant guardian.”

But there are accounts in Church Tradition, that during the All-Pure Virgin’s stay at the Temple, She grew up in a community of pious virgins, diligently read the Holy Scripture, occupied Herself with handicrafts, prayed constantly, and grew in love for God. From ancient times, the Church has celebrated the Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Indications that the Feast was observed in the first centuries of Christianity are found in the traditions of Palestinian Christians, which say that the holy Empress Helen (May 21) built a church in honor of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa, in the fourth century, also mentions this Feast. In the eighth century Saints Germanus and Tarasius, Patriarchs of Constantinople, delivered sermons on the Feast of the Entry.

The Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple foretells God’s blessing for the human race, the preaching of salvation, the promise of the coming of Christ.

 

 

Saint Michael The Archangel services Nov. 20-21
Services in St George:
Saturday, November 20 - vigil / confession at 5 pm
Sunday, November 21 - Divine Liturgy at 10 am

All the Angels, according to the Apostle Paul, are ministering spirits, - sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation - (Heb. 1:14). God set them as overseers of every nation and people, and guides to that which is profitable (Deut. 32:8); and while one Angel is appointed to oversee each nation as a whole, one is also appointed to protect each Christian individually. He commands them to guard them that hope on Him, that nothing should harm them, neither should any evil draw nigh to their dwelling (Ps. 90:10-12). In the Heavens they always behold the face of God, sending up to Him the thrice-holy hymn and interceding with Him in our behalf, seeing they rejoice over one sinner that repents (Esaias 6:2-3; Matt. 18:10; Luke 15:7). In a word, they have served God in so many ways for our benefit, that the pages of Holy Scripture are filled with the histories thereof. It is for these reasons that the Orthodox Catholic Church, wisely honouring these divine ministers, our protectors and guardians, celebrates today the present Synaxis that is, our coming together in assembly for their common feast to chant their praises, especially for the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, who are mentioned in the Scriptures by name. The name Michael means "Who is like God?" and Gabriel means "God is mighty." The number of Angels is not defined in the divine Scriptures, where Daniel says that thousands of thousands ministered before Him, and ten thousands of ten thousands attended upon Him -(Dan. 7:10). But all of them are divided into nine orders which are called Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, Dominions, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.

TROPARION (TONE 6)
O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you, that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow before you crying: "Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the Powers on high!"

KONTAKION (TONE 2)
Chief Commanders of God; ministers of divine glory; guides for men and leadership of the Incorporeal; as Chief Commanders of the Incorporeal, plead for our welfare and for great mercy.

 
O Holy Mother Parasceva, pray to God for us!

3 KOLO Pasta Fest Oct. 24

3 KOLO fundraiser is Oct. 24

The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

The Elevation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross of the Lord: The pagan Roman Emperors tried to obliterate the holy places where our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and rose from the dead, so that they would be forgotten. Emperor Hadrian (117-138) ordered that Golgotha and the Lord's Sepulchre be buried, and that a temple in honor of the pagan "goddess" Venus and a statue of Jupiter be placed there.

Pagans gathered at this place and offered sacrifice to idols. Eventually after 300 years, by Divine Providence, the Christian holy places, the Sepulchre of the Lord, and the Life-giving Cross, were discovered and opened for veneration. This took place under Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) after his victory over Maxentius (in 312), who ruled the Western part of the Roman Empire, and over Licinius, the ruler of its Eastern part. In the year 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire.

In 313 Saint Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, by which Christianity was legalized and persecutions against Christians in the Western half of the Empire were stopped. Although Licinius had signed the Edict of Milan in order to oblige Constantine, he continued his cruel persecutions against Christians. Only after his conclusive defeat did the Edict of Milan extend also to the Eastern part of the Empire. The Holy Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine, triumphing over his enemies in three wars, with God’s assistance, had seen the Sign of the Cross in the heavens. Written beneath were the words: “By this you shall conquer.”

Ardently desiring to find the Cross upon which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, Saint Constantine sent his mother, the pious Empress Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, providing her with a letter to Saint Makarios, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Saint Helen journeyed to the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior, building more than 80 churches, at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings, and where the Mother of God was buried after her Dormition.

Although the holy Empress Helen was no longer young, she set about completing the task with enthusiasm. In her search for the Life-giving Cross, she questioned both Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful. Finally, she was directed to a certain elderly Jew named Jude who stated that the Cross was buried beneath the temple of Venus. They demolished the pagan temple and, after praying, they began to excavate the ground. Soon the Lord's Tomb was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, and a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body (March 6).

In order to discover on which of the three crosses the Savior had been crucified, Patriarch Makarios alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched the dead man, he was restored to life. After witnessing the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-giving Cross had been found.

Christians came in a huge crowds to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching Saint Makarios to lift the Cross, so that those far off could see it. Then the Patriarch and other spiritual leaders lifted the Holy Cross, and the people prostrated themselves before the Honorable Wood, saying “Lord have mercy." This solemn event occurred in the year 326.

During the discovery of the Life-giving Cross another miracle took place: a woman who was close to death was healed by the shadow of the Holy Cross. The elderly Jude (October 28) and other Jews believed in Christ and were baptized. Jude was given the name Kyriakos, and later he was consecrated as the Bishop of Jerusalem. He suffered a martyr’s death for Christ during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363).

Saint Helen took part of the Life-giving Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. Saint Constantine ordered a majestic and spacious church to built at Jerusalem in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The church was built in ten years. Saint Helen did not survive until the dedication of the church, she reposed in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross was established.

Another event connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its return to Jerusalem from Persia after a fourteen year captivity. During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Phokas (602-610) the Persian king Khozróēs II attacked Constantinople defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem, capturing both the Life-giving Cross of the Lord and the Holy Patriarch Zachariah (609-633).

The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years, and only under Emperor Herakleios (610-641), who defeated Khozróēs and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Lord's Cross returned to the Christians.

With great solemnity the Life-giving Cross was transferred to Jerusalem. Emperor Herakleios, wearing a crown and his royal purple garments carried the Cross of Christ. The Emperor was accompanied by Patriarch Zachariah. At the gates by which they ascended Golgotha, the Emperor stopped suddenly and was unable to proceed. The holy Patriarch explained to the Emperor that an Angel of the Lord was blocking his way. Herakleios was told to remove his royal trappings and to walk barefoot, since He Who bore the Cross for the salvation of the world had made His way to Golgotha in all humility. Then Herakleios donned plain clothes, and without further hindrance, carried the Cross of Christ into the church.

The Nativity of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary

Commemorated on September 8/21


Service in St George church:

Monday, September 20 - Vigil/confession at 6 pm

Tuesday, September 21 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am

 

The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary: The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born at a time when people had reached such a degree of moral decay that it seemed altogether impossible to restore them. People often said that God must come into the world to restore faith and not permit the ruin of mankind.

The Son of God chose to take on human nature for the salvation of mankind and chose as His Mother the All-Pure Virgin Mary, who alone was worthy to give birth to the Source of purity and holiness.

The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary is celebrated by the Church as a day of universal joy. Within the context of the Old and the New Testaments, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was born on this radiant day, having been chosen before the ages by Divine Providence to bring about the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. She is revealed as the Mother of the Savior of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born in the small city of Galilee, Nazareth. Her parents were Righteous Joachim of the tribe of the Prophet-King David, and Anna from the tribe of the First Priest Aaron. The couple was without child, since Saint Anna was barren.

Having reached old age, Joachim and Anna did not lose hope in God’s mercy. They had strong faith that for God everything is possible, and that He would be able to overcome the barrenness of Anna even in her old age, as He had once overcame the barrenness of Sarah, spouse of the Patriarch Abraham. Saints Joachim and Anna vowed to dedicate the child which the Lord might give them, to the service of God in the Temple.

Childlessness was considered among the Hebrew nation as a Divine punishment for sin, and therefore the righteous Saints Joachim and Anna had to endure abuse from their own countrymen. On one of the feastdays at the Temple in Jerusalem the elderly Joachim brought his sacrifice to offer to God, but the High Priest would not accept it, considering him to be unworthy since he was childless.

Saint Joachim in deep grief went into the wilderness, and there he prayed with tears to the Lord for a child. Saint Anna wept bitterly when she learned what had happened at the Jerusalem Temple. Never once did she complain against the Lord, but rather she prayed to ask God’s mercy on her family.

The Lord fulfilled her petitions when the pious couple had attained to extreme old age and prepared themselves by virtuous life for a sublime calling: to be the parents of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the future Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Archangel Gabriel brought Joachim and Anna the joyous message that their prayers were heard by God, and of them would be born a most blessed daughter Mary, through Whom would come the Salvation of all the World.

The Most Holy Virgin Mary surpassed in purity and virtue not only all mankind, but also the angels. She was manifest as the living Temple of God, so the Church sings in its festal hymns: “the East Gate... bringing Christ into the world for the salvation of our souls” (2nd Stikhera on “Lord, I Have Cried”, Tone 6).

The Nativity of the Theotokos marks the change of the times when the great and comforting promises of God for the salvation of the human race from slavery to the devil are about to be fulfilled. This event has brought to earth the grace of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of Truth, piety, virtue, and everlasting life. The Theotokos is revealed to all of us by grace as a merciful Intercessor and Mother, to Whom we have recourse with filial devotion.

 

Fall Family Fest is Sept. 18 at St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville

Serbfest Donor Thank You Luncheon This Sunday (Sept. 19)

Dear All,

As was mentioned in our Serbfest donation appeal letter last month, we invite all parishioners to celebrate the tremendous giving spirit that so many of you have displayed over the past two years by attending our thank you luncheon this Sunday, September 19 in the lower level of our hall following church services.  We will be having Italian beef and pulled pork sandwiches along with potato salad, cole slaw, fruit salad, brownies and lemon squares.  We will also have live music courtesy of Srdjan Djordjevic and his son as well as Ilija Trbojevic at the luncheon. 

Despite not being able to host an in-person Serbfest one year ago, our parishioners were still able to set a record for the event with $20,125 raised.  In 2021, we are nearing that same mark as donations continue to come in.  The church is most thankful for your tremendous generosity.

Haven’t donated yet?  There is still plenty of time to do so either by mail or feel free to bring your donations to the luncheon on Sunday.  We will have donation envelopes available on the table.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday after church.

With sincere gratitude,

Dave Laketa 
Joliet Serbfest Chair                                     

Bonnie Dauer 
President                  

Fr. Aleksandar Bugarin
Parish Priest 

Dormition of the Theotokos August 15/28
Services in St George church:
Friday, August 27 - confession at 4:30 pm; Vigil at 5 pm
Saturday, August 28 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am
 

Introduction

The Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15/28 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or "falling-asleep" of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

Biblical Story

The Holy Scriptures tell us that when our Lord was dying on the Cross, He saw His mother and His disciple John and said to the Virgin Mary, "Woman, behold your son!" and to John, "Behold your mother!" (John 19:25-27). From that hour, the Apostle took care of the Theotokos in his own home.
Along with the biblical reference in Acts 1:14 that confirms that the Virgin Mary was with the Holy Apostles on the day of Pentecost, the tradition of the Church holds that she remained in the home of the Apostle John in Jerusalem, continuing a ministry in word and deed.

At the time of her death, the disciples of our Lord who were preaching throughout the world returned to Jerusalem to see the Theotokos. Except for the Apostle Thomas, all of them including the Apostle Paul were gathered together at her bedside. At the moment of her death, Jesus Christ himself descended and carried her soul into heaven.

Following her repose, the body of the Theotokos was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When the Apostle Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was found to be empty. The bodily assumption of the Theotokos was confirmed by the message of an angel and by her appearance to the Apostles.

Icon of the Feast

The Icon of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos shows her on her deathbed surrounded by the Apostles. Christ is standing in the center (1.) looking at His mother. He is holding a small child clothed in white representing the soul of the Virgin Mary. With His golden garments, the angels above His head, and the mandorla surrounding Him, Christ is depicted in His divine glory.

 

1. Christ, appearing in His Glory, stands in the center of the icon cradling the soul of His Mother, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

The posture of the Apostles direct attention toward the Theotokos (2.). On the right Saint Peter censes the body of the Theotokos. On the left Saint Paul (3.) bows low in honor of her.

 

2. The Apostles bow their heads in reverence to the Theotokos as Saint Peter (right) censes her body (detail).

Together with the Apostles are several bishops (4.) and women. The bishops traditionally represented are James, the brother of the Lord, Timothy, Heirotheus, and Dionysius the Areopagite. They are shown wearing episcopal vestments. The women are members of the church in Jerusalem.

 

3. The Apostle Paul bows in honor of the Theotokos (detail).

4. Also in attendance to pray for the Theotokos were several Bishops (detail).

In front of the bed of the Theotokos is a candle (5.) that helps to form a central axis in the icon. Above the candle is the body of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. Standing over His mother is Christ holding her most pure soul. Above Christ the gates of heaven stand open, ready to receive the Mother of God.

 

5. The Theotokos lies in the center of the icon surrounded by the Apostles and a candle in front of her bed (detail).

This great Feast of the Church and the icon celebrates a fundamental teaching of our faith—the Resurrection of the body. In the case of the Theotokos, this has been accomplished by the divine will of God. Thus, this Feast is a feast of hope, hope in Resurrection and life eternal. Like those who gathered around the body of the Virgin Mary, we gather around our departed loved ones and commend their souls into the hands of Christ. As we remember those who have reposed in the faith before us and have passed on into the communion of the Saints, we prepare ourselves to one day be received into the new life of the age to come.

We also affirm through this Feast as we journey toward our heavenly abode that the Mother of God intercedes for us. Through Christ she has become the mother of all of the children of God, embracing us with divine love.

Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of the Dormition

The commemoration of the Dormition of the Theotokos and the preparation for the Feast begin on August 1/14 with a period of fasting. A strict fast is followed on most of the days (no meat, dairy, oil, or wine), with the exceptions of fish on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) and the day of the Dormition. Oil and Wine are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Feast of the Dormition is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the Feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers is conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast. Scripture readings for the Feast of the Dormition are the following: At Vespers: Genesis 28:10-17; Ezekiel 43:27-44:4; Proverbs 9:1-11. At the Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56. At the Divine Liturgy: Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28.

St. George Church hosting inter-Orthodox service on September 11
Serbian Patriarch + PORFIRIJE to visit Chicago cathedral Oct. 12

His Holiness the Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci, and Serbian Patriarch + PORFIRIJE, will be formally welcomed at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, with a Service of Doxology on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Aug. 6/19

The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (the Second “Feast of the Savior” in August)

Discourse on the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ of Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica

For an explanation of the present Feast and understanding of its truth, it is necessary for us to turn to the very start of today’s reading from the Gospel: “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up onto a high mountain by themselves” (Mt.17:1).

First of all we must ask, from whence does the Evangelist Matthew begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day is it? What does the preceding turn of speech indicate, where the Savior, in teaching His disciples, said to them: “For the Son of Man shall come with his angels in the glory of His Father,” and further: “Amen I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:27-28)? That is to say, it is the Light of His own forthcoming Transfiguration which He terms the Glory of His Father and of His Kingdom.

The Evangelist Luke points this out and reveals this more clearly saying: “Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that He took Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And as He prayed, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became a radiant white” (Luke 9:28-29). But how can the two be reconciled, when one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the other (says): “after six days?”

There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three, Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were six of them. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction regarding the eight. Similarly, there is no contradiction with the Evangelists when one says “after six days,” and the other says “eight days after these words.”

But these twofold sayings as it were present is a certain format set in mystery, and together with it that of those actually present upon the Mount. It stands to reason, and everyone rationally studying in accordance with Scripture knows that the Evangelists are in agreement one with another. Luke spoke of eight days without contradicting Matthew, who declared “after six days.” There is not another day added on to represent the day on which these sayings were uttered, nor is the day on which the Lord was transfigured added on (which a rational person might reasonably imagine to be added to the days of Matthew).

The Evangelist Luke does not say “after eight days” (like the Evangelist Matthew says “after six days”), but rather “it came to pass eight days after these words.” But where the Evangelists seem to contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say “after six days,” but the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the world created in six days.

About the power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom the Kingdom of God is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: “There are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit. That is why it is said: “come in power.” And this power is not manifest to simply ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement, since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. Certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind’s grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses, effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light.

Those not grasping this point have conjectured that the chosen from among the Apostles beheld the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord by a sensual and creaturely faculty, and through this they attempt to reduce to a creaturely level (i.e., as something “created”) not only this Light, the Kingdom and the Glory of God, but also the Power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom it is meet for Divine Mysteries to be revealed. In all likelihood, such persons have not heeded the words of the Apostle Paul: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him. But to us God has revealed them through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor.2:9-10).

So, with the onset of the Eighth Day, the Lord, taking Peter, James and John, went up on the Mount to pray. He always prayed alone, withdrawing from everyone, even from the Apostles themselves, as for example when with five loaves and two fish He fed the five thousand men, besides women and children (Mt.14:19-23). Or, taking with Him those who excelled others, as at the approach of His Saving Passion, when He said to the other disciples: “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Mt.26:36). Then He took with Him Peter, James and John. But in our instance right here and now, having taken only these same three, the Lord led them up onto a high mountain by themselves and was transfigured before them, that is to say, before their very eyes.

“What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?” asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostom). He answers this by saying: “It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him.” The Evangelist Luke says: “And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Luke 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: “And His face shone as the sun” (Mt.17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts.

That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the Lord) was praying. This shows that what brought forth this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance occured and was manifest by uniting the mind with God, and that it is granted to all who, with constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God. True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only with a purified mind. To gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of participation in it, as though some bright ray etches itself upon the face.

Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not effect this, but rather he underwent a transfiguration. However, our Lord Jesus Christ possessed that Light Himself. In this regard, actually, He did not need prayer for His flesh to radiate with the Divine Light; it was but to show from whence that Light descends upon the saints of God, and how to contemplate it. For it is written that even the saints “will shine forth like the sun” (Mt.13:43), which is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon Christ, divinely and inexpressibly shining forth His Radiance, issuing from His Divine Nature. On Mount Tabor it was manifest also in His Flesh, by reason of the Hypostatic Union (i.e., the union of the two perfect natures, divine and human, within the divine Person [Hypostasis] of Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity). The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon defined this Hypostatic union of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, as “without mingling, without change, without division, without separation.”

We believe that at the Transfiguration He manifested not some other sort of light, but only that which was concealed beneath His fleshly exterior. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such, it was Uncreated and Divine. So also, in the teachings of the Fathers, Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself something new nor being changed into something new, nor something which formerly He did not possess. Rather, it was to show His disciples that which He already was, opening their eyes and bringing them from blindness to sight. For do you not see that eyes that can perceive natural things would be blind to this Light?

Thus, this Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by the power of the Divine Spirit. They were transformed, and only in this way did they see the transformation taking place amidst the very assumption of our perishability, with the deification through union with the Word of God in place of this.

So also she who miraculously conceived and gave birth recognized that the One born of her is God Incarnate. So it was also for Simeon, who only received this Infant into his arms, and the aged Anna, coming out [from the Jerusalem Temple] for the Meeting, since the Divine Power illumined, as through a glass windowpane, giving light for those having pure eyes of heart.

And why did the Lord, before the beginning of the Transfiguration, choose the foremost of the Apostles and lead them up onto the Mount with Him? Certainly, it was to show them something great and mysterious. What is particularly great or mysterious in showing a sensory light, which not only the foremost, but all the other Apostles already abundantly possessed? Why would they need a transforming of their eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit for a contemplation of this Light, if it were merely sensory and created? How could the Glory and the Kingdom of the Father and the Holy Spirit project forth in some sort of sensory light? Indeed, in what sort of Glory and Kingdom would Christ the Lord come at the end of the ages, when there would not be necessary anything in the air, nor in expanse, nor anything similar, but when, in the words of the Apostle, “God will be all in all” (1 Cor.15: 28)? That is to say, will He alter everything for all? If so, then it follows that light is included.

Hence it is clear that the Light of Tabor was a Divine Light. And the Evangelist John, inspired by Divine Revelation, says clearly that the future eternal and enduring city “has no need of the sun or moon to shine upon it. For the Glory of God lights it up, and the Lamb will be its lamp” (Rev 21:23). Is it not clear, that he points out here that this [Lamb] is Jesus, Who is divinely transfigured now upon Tabor, and the flesh of Whom shines, is the lamp manifesting the Glory of divinity for those ascending the mountain with Him?

John the Theologian also says about the inhabitants of this city: “they will not need light from lamps, nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shed light upon them, and night shall be no more” (Rev 22:5). But how, we might ask, is there this other light, in which “there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas 1:17)? What light is there that is constant and unsetting, unless it be the Light of God? Moreover, could Moses and Elias (and particularly the former, who clearly was present only in spirit, and not in flesh [Elias having ascended bodily to Heaven on the fiery chariot]) be shining with any sort of sensory light, and be seen and known? Especially since it was written of them: “they appeared in glory, and spoke of his death, which he was about to fulfill at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31). And how otherwise could the Apostles recognize those whom they had never seen before, unless through the mysterious power of the Divine Light, opening their mental eyes?

But let us not tire our attention with the furthermost interpretations of the words of the Gospel. We shall believe thus, as those same ones have taught us, who themselves were enlightened by the Lord Himself, insofar as they alone know this well: the Mysteries of God, in the words of a prophet, are known to God alone and His perpetual proximity. Let us, considering the Mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in accord with their teaching, strive to be illumined by this Light ourselves and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying our spiritual eyes of worldly thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly passing delights and beauty which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of Gehenna and everlasting darkness. Let us be freed from these by the illumination and knowledge of the incorporeal and ever-existing Light of our Savior transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father from all eternity, and His Life-Creating Spirit, Whom are One Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

 
 
 
 
Holy, Glorious Prophet Elija commemorated July 20/Aug. 2

The Holy Prophet Elijah is one of the greatest of the prophets and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament. He was born in Tishba of Gilead into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God.

Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elijah: “When Elijah was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision angels of God around him. They swaddled him with fire and fed him with flames.” The name Elijah (the Lord’s strength) given to the infant defined his whole life. From the years of his youth he dedicated himself to the One God, settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, meditation and prayer. Called to prophetic service, which put him in conflict with the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of true faith and piety.

During this time the Israelite nation had fallen away from the faith of their Fathers, they abandoned the One God and worshipped pagan idols, the worship of which was introduced by the impious king Jereboam. Jezebel, the wife of king Ahab, was devoted to idol worship. She persuaded her husband to build a temple to the pagan god Baal, which led many Israelites away from the worship of the true God. Beholding the ruin of his nation, the Prophet Elijah began to denounce King Ahab for impiety, and exhorted him to repent and turn to the God of Israel. The king would not listen to him. The Prophet Elijah then declared to him, that as punishment there would be neither rain nor dew upon the ground, and the drought would cease only by his prayer. Indeed, the word of Elijah was a torch (Eccles. 48: 1). The heavens were closed for three and a half years, and there was drought and famine throughout all the land.

During this time of tribulation, the Lord sent him to a cave beyond the Jordan. There he was miraculously fed by ravens. When the stream Horath dried up, the Lord sent the Prophet Elijah to Sarephta to a poor widow, a Sidonian Gentile who suffered together with her children, awaiting death by starvation. At the request of the prophet, she prepared him a bread with the last measure of flour and the remainder of the oil. Through the prayer of the Prophet Elijah, flour and oil were not depleted in the home of the widow for the duration of the famine. By the power of his prayer the prophet also performed another miracle: he raised the dead son of the widow.

After the end of three years of drought the Merciful Lord sent the prophet to appear before King Ahab, and promised to send rain upon the earth. The Prophet Elijah told the king to order all of Israel to gather upon Mount Carmel, and also the priests of Baal. When the nation had gathered, the Prophet Elijah proposed that two sacrificial altars be built: one for the priests of Baal, and the other for the Prophet Elijah who served the True God.

The Prophet Elijah told them to call on their gods to consume the sacrificial animals with fire, and he would call on his. Whichever was first to send fire on the sacrifice would be acknowledged as the true God. The prophets of Baal called out to their idol from morning till evening, but the heavens were silent. Towards evening the holy Prophet Elijah built his sacrificial altar from twelve stones, the number of the tribes of Israel. He placed the sacrifice upon the wood, gave orders to dig a ditch around the altar and commanded that the sacrifice and the wood be soaked with water. When the ditch had filled with water, the prophet turned to God in prayer. Through the prayer of the prophet fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and even the water. The people fell down to the ground, crying out: “Truly, the Lord is God!” Then the Prophet Elijah had all the pagan-priests of Baal put to death, and he began to pray for rain. Through his prayer the heavens opened and an abundant rain fell, soaking the parched earth.

King Ahab acknowledged his error and repented of his sins, but his wife Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet of God. The Prophet Elijah fled into the Kingdom of Judea and, grieving over his failure to eradicate idol worship, he asked God to let him die. An angel of the Lord came before him, strengthened him with food and commanded him to go upon a long journey. The Prophet Elijah traveled for forty days and nights and, having arrived at Mount Horeb, he settled in a cave.

The Lord told him that the next day Elijah would stand in His presence.There was a strong wind that crushed the rocks of the mountain, then an earthquake, and a fire, but the Lord was not in them. The Lord was in “a gentle breeze” (3 Kings 19: 12). He revealed to the prophet, that He would preserve seven thousand faithful servants who had not worshipped Baal.

Later, the Lord commanded Elijah to anoint Elisha into prophetic service. Because of his fiery zeal for the Glory of God the Prophet Elijah was taken up alive into Heaven in a fiery chariot. The Prophet Elisha received Elijah’s mantle, and a double portion of his prophetic spirit.

According to the Tradition of Holy Church, the Prophet Elijah will be the Forerunner of the Dread Second Coming of Christ. He will proclaim the truth of Christ, urge all to repentance, and will be slain by the Antichrist. This will be a sign of the end of the world.

The life of the holy Prophet Elijah is recorded in the Old Testament books (3 Kings; 4 Kings; Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 48: 1-15; 1 Maccabees 2: 58). At the time of the Transfiguration, the Prophet Elijah conversed with the Savior upon Mount Tabor (Mt. 17: 3; Mark 9: 4; Luke. 9: 30).

Orthodox Christians of all times, and in all places, have venerated the Prophet Elijah for centuries. The first church in Russia, built at Kiev under Prince Igor, was named for the Prophet Elijah. After her Baptism Saint Olga (July 11) built a temple of the holy Prophet Elijah in her native region, at the village of Vibuta.

In iconography the Prophet Elijah is depicted ascending to Heaven in a fiery chariot, surrounded with flames, and harnessed to four winged horses. We pray to him for deliverance from drought, and to ask for seasonable weather.

Sts. Peter & Paul commemorated June 29/July 12
Sts. Peter & Paul commemorated June 29/July 12
 
The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul
Commemorated on June 29/July 12
Services in St George church
July 11 - Vigil/confession at 5 pm
July 12 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am
 
Sermon of Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo:
 
Today the Holy Church piously remembers the sufferings of the Holy Glorious and All-Praised Apostles Peter and Paul.
 
Saint Peter, the fervent follower of Jesus Christ, for the profound confession of His Divinity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” was deemed worthy by the Savior to hear in answer, “Blessed art thou, Simon ... I tell thee, that thou art Peter [Petrus], and on this stone [petra] I build My Church” (Mt.16:16-18). On “this stone” [petra], is on that which thou sayest: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” it is on this thy confession I build My Church. Wherefore the “thou art Peter”: it is from the “stone” [petra] that Peter [Petrus] is, and not from Peter [Petrus] that the “stone” [petra] is, just as the Christian is from Christ, and not Christ from the Christian. Do you want to know, from what sort of “rock” [petra] the Apostle Peter [Petrus] was named? Hear the Apostle Paul: “Brethren, I do not want ye to be ignorant,” says the Apostle of Christ, “how all our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor.10: 1-4)....
 
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the final days of His earthly life, in the days of His mission to the race of man, chose from among the disciples His twelve Apostles to preach the Word of God. Among them, the Apostle Peter for his fiery ardor was vouchsafed to occupy the first place (Mt.10:2) and to be as it were the representative person for all the Church. Therefore it is said to him, preferentially, after the confession: “I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in the heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth: shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt.16: 19). Therefore it was not one man, but rather the One Universal Church, that received these “keys” and the right “to bind and loosen.” And that it was actually the Church that received this right, and not exclusively a single person, turn your attention to another place of the Scriptures, where the same Lord says to all His Apostles, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit” and further after this, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whose soever sins ye retain, are retained” (John 20: 22-23); or: “whatsoever ye bind upon the earth, shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosened in heaven” (Mt.18:18). Thus, it is the Church that binds, the Church that loosens; the Church, built upon the foundational cornerstone, Jesus Christ Himself (Eph 2:20), doth bind and loosen. Let both the binding and the loosening be feared: the loosening, in order not to fall under this again; the binding, in order not to remain forever in this condition. Therefore “Iniquities ensnare a man, and everyone is bound in the chains of his own sins,” says Wisdom (Prov 5:22); and except for Holy Church nowhere is it possible to receive the loosening.
 
After His Resurrection the Lord entrusted the Apostle Peter to shepherd His spiritual flock not because, that among the disciples only Peter alone was pre-deserved to shepherd the flock of Christ, but Christ addresses Himself chiefly to Peter because, that Peter was first among the Apostles and as such the representative of the Church; besides which, having turned in this instance to Peter alone, as to the top Apostle, Christ by this confirms the unity of the Church. “Simon of John” -- says the Lord to Peter -- “lovest thou Me?” -- and the Apostle answered: “Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee”; and a second time it was thus asked, and a second time he thus answered; being asked a third time, seeing that as it were not believed, he was saddened. But how is it possible for him not to believe That One, Who knew his heart? And wherefore then Peter answered: “Lord, Thou knowest all; Thou knowest that I love Thee.” “And sayeth Jesus to him” all three times “Feed My sheep” (John 20:15-17).
 
Besides this, the triple appealing of the Savior to Peter and the triple confession of Peter before the Lord had a particular beneficial purpose for the Apostle. That one, to whom was given “the keys of the kingdom” and the right “to bind and to loose,” bound himself thrice by fear and cowardice (Mt.26:69-75), and the Lord thrice loosens him by His appeal and in turn by his confession of strong love. And to shepherd literally the flock of Christ was acquired by all the Apostles and their successors. “Take heed, therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock,” the Apostle Paul urges church presbyters, “over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28); and the Apostle Peter to the elders: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when is appeared the Prince of pastors, ye will receive unfading crowns of glory” (1 Pet. 5:2-4).
 
It is remarkable that Christ, having said to Peter: “Feed My sheep,” did not say: “Feed thy sheep,” but rather to feed, good servant, the sheep of the Lord. “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor.1:13). “Feed My sheep”. Wherefore “wolfish robbers, wolfish oppressors, deceitful teachers and mercenaries, not being concerned about the flock” (Mt.7:15; Acts 20:29; 2 Pet 2:1; John 10:12), having plundered a strange flock and making of the spoils as though it be of their own particular gain, they think that they feed their flock. Such are not good pastors, as pastors of the Lord. “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11), entrusted to Him by the chief Shepherd Himself (1 Pet 5:4). And the Apostle Peter, true to his calling, gave his soul for the very flock of Christ, having sealed his apostleship by a martyr’s death, is now glorified throughout all the world.
 
The Apostle Paul, formerly Saul, was changed from a robbing wolf into a meek lamb. Formerly he was an enemy of the Church, then is manifest as an Apostle. Formerly he stalked it, then preached it. Having received from the high priests the authority at large to throw all Christians in chains for execution, he was already on the way, he breathed out “threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1), he thirsted for blood, but “He that dwells in the Heavens shall laugh him to scorn” (Ps 2:4). When he, “having persecuted and vexed” in such manner “the Church of God” (1Cor.15:9; Acts 8:5), he came near Damascus, and the Lord from Heaven called to him: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” and I am here, and I am there, I am everywhere: here is My head; there is My body. There becomes nothing of a surprise in this; we ourselves are members of the Body of Christ. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me; it is hard for thee to kick against the goad” (Acts 9:4-5). Saul, however, “trembling and frightened”, cried out: “Who art Thou, Lord?” The Lord answered him, “I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest.”
 
And Saul suddenly undergoes a change: “What wantest Thou me to do?” -- he cries out. And suddenly for him there is the Voice: “Arise, and go to the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). Here the Lord sends Ananias: “Arise and go into the street” to a man, “by the name of Saul,” and baptize him, “for this one is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9: 11, 15, 18). This vessel must be filled with My Grace. “Ananias, however, answered: Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints in Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Thy Name” (Acts 9:13-14). But the Lord urgently commands Ananias: “Search for and fetch him, for this vessel is chosen by Me: for I shall show him what great things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:11, 15-16).
 
And actually the Lord did show the Apostle Paul what things he had to suffer for His Name. He instructed him the deeds; He did not stop at the chains, the fetters, the prisons and shipwrecks; He Himself felt for him in his sufferings, He Himself guided him towards this day. On a single day the memory of the sufferings of both these Apostles is celebrated, though they suffered on separate days, but by the spirit and the closeness of their suffering they constitute one. Peter went first, and Paul followed soon after him. Formerly called Saul, and then Paul, having transformed his pride into humility. His very name (Paulus), meaning “small, little, less,” demonstrates this. What is the Apostle Paul after this? Ask him, and he himself gives answer to this: “I am,” says he, “the least of the Apostles... but I have labored more abundantly than all of them: yet not I, but the grace of God, which was with me” (1 Cor.15:9-10).
 
And so, brethren, celebrating now the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, remembering their venerable sufferings, we esteem their true faith and holy life, we esteem the innocence of their sufferings and pure confession. Loving in them the sublime quality and imitating them by great exploits, “in which to be likened to them” (2 Thess 3: 5-9), and we shall attain to that eternal bliss which is prepared for all the saints. The path of our life before was more grievous, thornier, harder, but “we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12: 1), having passed by along it, made now for us easier, and lighter, and more readily passable. First there passed along it “the author and finisher of our faith,” our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Heb 12: 2); His daring Apostles followed after Him; then the martyrs, children, women, virgins and a great multitude of witnesses. Who acted in them and helped them on this path? He Who said, “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 5).
 
Nativity of St. John the Baptist, June 24 / July 7

Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John

The Nativity of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The Gospel (Luke. 1: 5) relates that the righteous parents of Saint John the Baptist, the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth (September 5), lived in the ancient city of Hebron. They reached old age without having children, since Elizabeth was barren. Once, Saint Zachariah was serving in the Temple at Jerusalem and saw the Archangel Gabriel, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. He predicted that Saint Zachariah would father a son, who would announce the Savior, the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had doubts that in old age it was possible to have a son, and he asked for a sign. It was given to him, and it was also a chastisement for his unbelief. Zachariah was struck speechless until the time of the fulfillment of the archangel’s words.

Saint Elizabeth came to be with child, and fearing derision at being pregnant so late in life, she kept it secret for five months. Then her relative, the Virgin Mary, came to share with her Her own joy. Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” was the first to greet the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. Saint John leaped in his mother’s womb at the visit of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and the Son of God incarnate within Her.

Soon Saint Elizabeth gave birth to a son, and all the relatives and acquaintances rejoiced together with her. On the eighth day, in accordance with the Law of Moses, he was circumcised and was called John. Everyone was amazed, since no one in the family had this name. When they asked Saint Zachariah about this, he motioned for a tablet and wrote on it: “His name is John.” Immediately his tongue was loosed, and Saint Zachariah glorified God. He also prophesied about the Coming into the world of the Messiah, and of his own son John, the Forerunner of the Lord (Luke. 1: 68-79).

After the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the worship of the shepherds and the Magi, wicked king Herod gave orders to kill all male infants. Hearing about this, Saint Elizabeth fled into the wilderness and hid in a cave. Saint Zachariah was at Jerusalem and was doing his priestly service in the Temple. Herod sent soldiers to him to find out the abode of the infant John and his mother. Zachariah answered that their whereabouts were unknown to him, and he was killed right there in the Temple. Righteous Elizabeth continued to live in the wilderness with her son and she died there. The child John, protected by an angel, dwelt in the wilderness until the time when he came preaching repentance, and was accounted worthy to baptize the Lord.

 
 
 
Pentecost: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

In the Old Testament Pentecost was the feast which occurred fifty days after Passover. As the passover feast celebrated the exodus of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, so Pentecost celebrated God’s gift of the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In the new covenant of the Messiah, the passover event takes on its new meaning as the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, the “exodus” of men from this sinful world to the Kingdom of God. And in the New Testament as well, the pentecostal feast is fulfilled and made new by the coming of the “new law,” the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ.

When the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed as resting upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . . (Acts 2.1–4).

The Holy Spirit that Christ had promised to his disciples came on the day of Pentecost (Jn 14.26, 15.26; Lk 24.49; Acts 1.5). The apostles received “the power from on high,” and they began to preach and bear witness to Jesus as the risen Christ, the King and the Lord. This moment has traditionally been called the birthday of the Church.

In the liturgical services of the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit is celebrated together with the full revelation of the divine Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The fullness of the Godhead is manifested with the Spirit’s coming to man, and the Church hymns celebrate this manifestation as the final act of God’s self-disclosure and self-donation to the world of His creation. For this reason Pentecost Sunday is also called Trinity Day in the Orthodox tradition. Often on this day the icon of the Holy Trinity—particularly that of the three angelic figures who appeared to Abraham, the forefather of the Christian faith—is placed in the center of the church. This icon is used with the traditional pentecostal icon which shows the tongues of fire hovering over Mary and the Twelve Apostles, the original prototype of the Church, who are themselves sitting in unity surrounding a symbolic image of “cosmos,” the world.

On Pentecost we have the final fulfillment of the mission of Jesus Christ and the first beginning of the messianic age of the Kingdom of God mystically present in this world in the Church of the Messiah. For this reason the fiftieth day stands as the beginning of the era which is beyond the limitations of this world, fifty being that number which stands for eternal and heavenly fulfillment in Jewish and Christian mystical piety: seven times seven, plus one.

Thus, Pentecost is called an apocalyptic day, which means the day of final revelation. It is also called an eschatological day, which means the day of the final and perfect end (in Greek eschaton means the end). For when the Messiah comes and the Lord’s Day is at hand, the “last days” are inaugurated in which “God declares: . . . I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.”; This is the ancient prophecy to which the Apostle Peter refers in the first sermon of the Christian Church which was preached on the first Sunday of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1 7; Joel 2: 28–32).

Once again it must be noted that the feast of Pentecost is not simply the celebration of an event which took place centuries ago. It is the celebration of what must happen and does happen to us in the Church today. We all have died and risen with the Messiah-King, and we all have received his Most Holy Spirit. We are the “temples of the Holy Spirit.” God’s Spirit dwells in us (Rom 8; 1 Cor 2–3, 12; 2 Cor 3; Gal 5; Eph 2–3). We, by our own membership in the Church, have received “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” in the sacrament of chrismation. Pentecost has happened to us.

The Divine Liturgy of Pentecost recalls our baptism into Christ with the verse from Galatians again replacing the Thrice-Holy Hymn. Special verses from the psalms also replace the usual antiphonal psalms of the liturgy. The epistle and gospel readings tell of the Spirit’s coming to men. The kontakion sings of the reversal of Babel as God unites the nations into the unity of his Spirit. The troparion proclaims the gathering of the whole universe into God’s net through the work of the inspired apostles. The hymns “O Heavenly King” and “We have seen the True Light” are sung for the first time since Easter, calling the Holy Spirit to “come and abide in us,” and proclaiming that “we have received the heavenly Spirit.” The church building is decorated with flowers and the green leaves of the summer to show that God’s divine Breath comes to renew all creation as the “life-creating Spirit.” In Hebrew the word for Spirit, breath and wind is the same word, ruah.

Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, who 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 (Troparion).

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! (Kontakion).

The Great Vespers of Pentecost evening features three long prayers at which the faithful kneel for the first time since Easter. The Monday after Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Church, and the Sunday after Pentecost is the feast of All Saints. This is the logical liturgical sequence since the coming of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled in men by their becoming saints, and this is the very purpose of the creation and salvation of the world. “Thus says the Lord: Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I your God am holy” (Lev 11.44–45, 1 Pet 1.15–16).

Ascension of our Lord

Services in our church:

  • Wednesday, June 9 - Vigil / Confession at 6 pm
  • Thursday, June 10 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am

Introduction

The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is celebrated each year on the fortieth day after the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha (Easter). Since the date of Pascha changes each year, the date of the Feast of the Ascension changes. The Feast is always celebrated on a Thursday.

The Feast itself commemorates when, on the fortieth day after His Resurrection, Jesus led His disciples to the Mount of Olives, and after blessing them and asking them to wait for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, He ascended into heaven.

Historical Background

The story of the Ascension of our Lord, celebrated as one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church, is found in the book of the Acts of the Apostles 1:3-11. It is also mentioned in the Gospels of Mark (16:19) and Luke (24:50-53). The moment of the Ascension is told in one sentence: "He was lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took Him from their sight" (Acts 1:9).

Christ made His last appearance on earth, forty days after His Resurrection from the dead. The Acts of the Apostles states that the disciples were in Jerusalem. Jesus appeared before them and commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the "Promise of the Father". He stated, "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5).

After Jesus gave these instructions, He led the disciples to the Mount of Olives. Here, He commissioned them to be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). It is also at this time that the disciples were directed by Christ to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Jesus also told them that He would be with them always, "even to the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).

As the disciples watched, Jesus lifted up His hands, blessed them, and then was taken up out of their sight (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). Two angels appeared to them and asked them why they were gazing into heaven. Then one of the angels said, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him going into heaven" (Acts 1:11).

Icon of the Feast

The icon of The Ascension of Our Lord is a joyous icon. It is painted with bright colors. Christ is shown ascending in His glory in a mandorla A mandorla is a design which is almond-shaped or round. Inside the mandorla is the figure of a holy person. Christ blesses the assembly with His right hand. In His left is a scroll. The scroll is a symbol of teaching. This icon shows that the Lord in heaven is the source of blessing. In addition, Jesus is the source of knowledge. The icon reminds us that Christ continues to be the source of the teaching and message of the Church, blessing and guiding those to whom He has entrusted his work.

The Theotokos occupies a very special place in this icon. She is in the center of the icon, immediately below the ascending Christ. The gesture of her hands is gesture of prayer. She is clearly outlined by the whiteness of the garments of the angels. The Theotokos is depicted in a very calm pose. This is quite different from the appearance of the Disciples. They are moving about, talking to one another and looking and pointing towards heaven. The entire group, the Theotokos and the disciples represent the Church.

The icon of the Ascension includes some who did not witness the Ascension. St. Paul is shown to the left of the Theotokos, but we know that he was not present at the Ascension. At that time, St. Paul did not yet believe in Jesus. But he became a Christian and one of the greatest Apostles and missionaries of Church.

The icon expresses the sovereignty of Christ over His Church; He is its Head, its guide, its source of inspiration and teaching; it receives its commission and ministry from Him, and fulfils it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of the Ascension

This Feast of our Lord is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, which is conducted on the day of the Feast and preceded by the Matins service. A Great Vespers is conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast. Scripture readings for the Feast are the following: At Vespers: Isaiah 2:2-3, 62:10-63:9; Zechariah 14:1,4,8-11. At the Orthros (Matins) Mark 16:9-20; At the Divine Liturgy: Acts 1:1-12Luke 24:36-53.

Hymns of the Feast

Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)  

O Christ our God, You ascended in Glory and gladdened Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Your blessing assured them that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.

Kontakion (Plagal of the Second Tone)  

O Christ our God, upon fulfilling Your dispensation for our sake, You ascended in Glory, uniting the earthly with the heavenly. You were never separate but remained inseparable, and cried out to those who love You, "I am with you and no one is against you."

Sts. Constantine and Helen, May 21 / June 3

Equal of the Apostles and Emperor Constantine with his Mother Helen

The Church calls Saint Constantine (306-337) “the Equal of the Apostles,” and historians call him “the Great.” He was the son of the Caesar Constantius Chlorus (305-306), who governed the lands of Gaul and Britain. His mother was Saint Helen, a Christian of humble birth.

At this time the immense Roman Empire was divided into Western and Eastern halves, governed by two independent emperors and their corulers called “Caesars.” Constantius Chlorus was Caesar in the Western Roman Empire. Saint Constantine was born in 274, possibly at Nish in Serbia. In 294, Constantius divorced Helen in order to further his political ambition by marrying a woman of noble rank. After he became emperor, Constantine showed his mother great honor and respect, granting her the imperial title “Augusta.”

Constantine, the future ruler of all the whole Roman Empire, was raised to respect Christianity. His father did not persecute Christians in the lands he governed. This was at a time when Christians were persecuted throughout the Roman Empire by the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and his corulers Maximian Galerius (305-311) in the East, and the emperor Maximian Hercules (284-305) in the West.

After the death of Constantius Chlorus in 306, Constantine was acclaimed by the army at York as emperor of Gaul and Britain. The first act of the new emperor was to grant the freedom to practice Christianity in the lands subject to him. The pagan Maximian Galerius in the East and the fierce tyrant Maxentius in the West hated Constantine and they plotted to overthrow and kill him, but Constantine bested them in a series of battles, defeating his opponents with the help of God. He prayed to God to give him a sign which would inspire his army to fight valiantly, and the Lord showed him a radiant Sign of the Cross in the heavens with the inscription “In this Sign, conquer.”

After Constantine became the sole ruler of the Western Roman Empire, he issued the Edict of Milan in 313 which guaranteed religious tolerance for Christians. Saint Helen, who was a Christian, may have influenced him in this decision. In 323, when he became the sole ruler of the entire Roman Empire, he extended the provisions of the Edict of Milan to the Eastern half of the Empire. After three hundred years of persecution, Christians could finally practice their faith without fear.

Renouncing paganism, the Emperor did not let his capital remain in ancient Rome, the former center of the pagan realm. He transferred his capital to the East, to the city of Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople, the city of Constantine (May 11). Constantine was deeply convinced that only Christianity could unify the immense Roman Empire with its diverse peoples. He supported the Church in every way. He recalled Christian confessors from banishment, he built churches, and he showed concern for the clergy.

The emperor deeply revered the victory-bearing Sign of the Cross of the Lord, and also wanted to find the actual Cross upon which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. For this purpose he sent his own mother, the holy Empress Helen, to Jerusalem, granting her both power and money. Patriarch Macarius of Jerusalem and Saint Helen began the search, and through the will of God, the Life-Creating Cross was miraculously discovered in 326. (The account of the finding of the Cross of the Lord is found under the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, September 14). The Orthodox Church commemorates the Uncovering of the Precious Cross and the Precious Nails by the Holy Empress Helen on March 6.

While in Palestine, the holy empress did much of benefit for the Church. She ordered that all places connected with the earthly life of the Lord and His All-Pure Mother, should be freed of all traces of paganism, and she commanded that churches should be built at these places.

The emperor Constantine ordered a magnificent church in honor of Christ’s Resurrection to be built over His tomb. Saint Helen gave the Life-Creating Cross to the Patriarch for safe-keeping, and took part of the Cross with her for the emperor. After distributing generous alms at Jerusalem and feeding the needy (at times she even served them herself), the holy Empress Helen returned to Constantinople, where she died in the year 327.

Because of her great services to the Church and her efforts in finding the Life-Creating Cross, the empress Helen is called “the Equal of the Apostles.”

The peaceful state of the Christian Church was disturbed by quarrels, dissensions and heresies which had appeared within the Church. Already at the beginning of Saint Constantine’s reign the heresies of the Donatists and the Novatians had arisen in the West. They demanded a second baptism for those who lapsed during the persecutions against Christians. These heresies, repudiated by two local Church councils, were finally condemned at the Council of Milan in 316.

Particularly ruinous for the Church was the rise of the Arian heresy in the East, which denied the Divine Nature of the Son of God, and taught that Jesus Christ was a mere creature. By order of the emperor, the First Ecumenical Council was convened in the city of Nicea in 325.

318 bishops attended this Council. Among its participants were confessor-bishops from the period of the persecutions and many other luminaries of the Church, among whom was Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. (The account about the Council is found under May 29). The emperor was present at the sessions of the Council. The heresy of Arius was condemned and a Symbol of Faith (Creed) composed, in which was included the term “consubstantial with the Father,” at the insistence of the Emperor, confirming the truth of the divinity of Jesus Christ, Who assumed human nature for the redemption of all the human race.

After the Council of Nicea, Saint Constantine continued with his active role in the welfare of the Church. He accepted holy Baptism on his deathbed, having prepared for it all his whole life. Saint Constantine died on the day of Pentecost in the year 337 and was buried in the church of the Holy Apostles, in a crypt he had prepared for himself.

 
 
HOLY WEEK: An explanation

During Holy Week, reflect on its meaning as we apporach Pascha: Holy Week: An Explanation

Schedule of services for Holy Week and Bright Week 2021

Holy and Bright Week schedule of services:

Friday, April 23 – Vespers / confession at 6 pm

Saturday, April 24 – Lazarus Saturday, Confession at 8:15 am, Divine Liturgy at 9 am

Vigil / confession at 5 pm. Please do your confession during the Holy Week on Pascha morning there is no confession 

Sunday, April 25 – Palm Sunday, Hierarchal Liturgy at 10 am. Procession around church. His Grace Bishop Longin will serve the liturgy.

Holy Monday, April 26 – Bridegroom Matins at 6 pm

Holy Tuesday, April 27 - Bridegroom Matins at 6 pm

Holy Wednesday, April 28 – Lenten Hours at 8 am; confession at 8:40 am, Presansctified liturgy at 9 am

Holy Thursday, April 29 – Confession at 8:30 am, Divine Liturgy of St Basil at 9 am

Matins and reading of 12 gospel lessons at 6 pm

Good and Holy Friday, April 30 – Royal Hours at 9 am

Vespers at 3 pm / Removal of the Body of Christ from the cross

Matins and Lamentation’s at 6 pm / Burial of the Body of Christ

Good and Holy Saturday, May 1, Confession at 8:15 am, Divine Liturgy of St Basil at 9 am

Confession at 10:15 pm, Resurrection Matins at 11 pm

Holy Pascha / Vaskrs/ May 2, Divine Liturgy at 10 am. Agape Vespers at 6 pm

Bright Monday, May 3 – St Nicholai of Zhicha, Divine liturgy at 9 am; Vespers at 6 pm

Bright Tuesday, May 4 – Divine Liturgy at 9 am 

Bright Wednesday, May 5, Vespers / confession at 6 pm

Bright Thursday, May 6 – Feast of St George, Divine Liturgy at 9 am, the blessing of slava kolaces after the liturgy 

Sunday, May 9 – Thomas Sunday, Divine Liturgy at 10 am

 

The Annunciation of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the earliest Christian feasts and was already being celebrated in the fourth century. There is a painting of the Annunciation in the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome dating from the second century. The Council of Toledo in 656 mentions the Feast, and the Council in Trullo in 692 says that the Annunciation was celebrated during Great Lent.

The Greek and Slavonic names for the Feast may be translated as “good tidings.” This, of course, refers to the Incarnation of the Son of God and the salvation He brings. The background of the Annunciation is found in the Gospel of Saint Luke (1:26-38). The troparion describes this as the “beginning of our salvation, and the revelation of the eternal mystery,” for on this day the Son of God became the Son of Man.

There are two main components to the Annunciation: the message itself, and the response of the Virgin. The message fulfills God’s promise to send a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15): “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel.” The Fathers of the Church understand “her seed” to refer to Christ. The prophets hinted at His coming, which they saw dimly, but the Archangel Gabriel now proclaims that the promise is about to be fulfilled.

We see this echoed in the Liturgy of Saint Basil, as well: “When man disobeyed Thee, the only true God who had created him, and was deceived by the guile of the serpent, becoming subject to death by his own transgressions, Thou, O God, in Thy righteous judgment, didst send him forth from Paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Thy Christ Himself.”

The Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth in Galilee. There he spoke to the undefiled Virgin who was betrothed to Saint Joseph: “Hail, thou who art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

In contrast to Eve, who was readily deceived by the serpent, the Virgin did not immediately accept the Angel’s message. In her humility, she did not think she was deserving of such words, but was actually troubled by them. The fact that she asked for an explanation reveals her sobriety and prudence. She did not disbelieve the words of the angel, but could not understand how they would be fulfilled, for they spoke of something which was beyond nature.

Then said Mary unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

“And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: therefore also that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1: 35-38)

In his Sermon 23 on the day of the Annunciation, Saint Philaret of Moscow boldly stated that “the word of the creature brought the Creator down into the world.” He explains that salvation is not merely an act of God’s will, but also involves the Virgin’s free will. She could have refused, but she accepted God’s will and chose to cooperate without complaint or further questions.

The icon of the Feast shows the Archangel with a staff in his left hand, indicating his role as a messenger. Sometimes one wing is upraised, as if to show his swift descent from heaven. His right hand is stretched toward the holy Virgin as he delivers his message.

The Virgin is depicted either standing or sitting, usually holding the yarn in her left hand. Sometimes she is shown holding a scroll. Her right hand may be raised to indicate her surprise at the message she is hearing. Her head is bowed, showing her consent and obedience. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon her is depicted by a ray of light issuing from a small sphere at the top of the icon, which symbolizes heaven. In a famous icon from Sinai, a white dove is shown in the ray of light.

The Annunciation falls during Lent, but it is always celebrated with great joy. The Liturgy of Saint Basil or Saint John Chrysostom is served, even on the weekdays of Lent. It is one of the two days of Great Lent on which the fast is relaxed and fish is permitted (Palm Sunday is the other).

 

Monday, March 15, 2021, beginning of Great Lent

Monday, March 15, 2021 - Beginning of Grea Lent or Fast. Wishing to all a blessed and Spiritually beneficial fast. 

Vespers and Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete at 6 pm. Discussion after the services.  
Please attend as many Lenten Services and Presanctified Liturgies as you can. Confess at least once and partake of holy communion often.
 
Schedule of Lenten Services 2021

Schedule of Lenten Services

St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, Joliet, IL

Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim of Syria:

O Lord and Master of my life!

Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.  Prostration

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Prostration

Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother;

For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen. Prostration

 

Sunday, March 14 – Forgiveness Sunday. After the liturgy will be forgiveness vespers. This Sunday reminds us of our need for God’s forgiveness and guides our hearts, minds, and spiritual efforts on returning to Him in repentance. As we ask for God’s forgiveness, we must forgive others. After the dismissal at Vespers, the priest stands beside the ikon in the middle of church, and the faithful come up one by one and venerate the icon, come before the priest, saying, "Forgive me, a sinner." The priest replies saying, "God forgives. Forgive me." The person responds, "God forgives," and receives a blessing from the priest.

Monday, March 15 – Beginning of Great Fast or Lent. This first week of Lent is also called “Čista sedmica” or Clean week because it is traditionally observed by strict fast. Vespers and Canon of St Andrew of Crete at 7 pm. Religious discussion, Q and A after.

Wednesday, March 17 – Lenten hours at 8 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am. Please see the sign-up sheet on the wardens table to sign up as a reader for Lenten services.  Faithful are encouraged to partake of Holy Mysteries as often as possible during Lent.

Saturday, March 20 - Vigil and Confession at 5 pm. Confession will be every Saturday evening and at least 30 minutes prior to a Liturgy. Confessions can also be made with appointment at any time. The best time for confession is on Saturday evening!

Sunday, March 21 – Sunday of Orthodoxy – Divine Liturgy at 10 am. Due to Pandemic, we will not have inter-Orthodox Vespers in Chicago area.

Wednesday, March 24 – Lenten hours at 5 pm, Presanctified Liturgy at 6 pm. Religious discussion, Q and A after.  If you are preparing to partake of Holy Communion at the evening Liturgy, please stop all food and drink at 12 noon unless you can keep total fast all day.

Saturday, March 27 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, March 28 – Divine Liturgy at 10 am.

Wednesday, March 31 – Lenten hours at 8 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am.

Saturday, April 3 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, April 4 – Sunday of Veneration of Holy Cross – Middle of Lent. Divine Liturgy at 10 am. The Holy Cross is called the Tree of Life; it is placed in the middle of the Fast as the ancient tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden of Eden. By this, our Holy Fathers wished to remind us of Adam’s gluttony as well as the fact that through this Tree has condemnation been abolished. Therefore, if we bind ourselves to the Holy Cross, we shall never encounter death but shall inherit life eternal. Faithful venerate decorated cross in churc 

Wednesday, April 7 – Feast of Annunciation Blagovesti – Vesperal Liturgy at 9 am.  Lenten hours at 5 pm, Presanctified Liturgy at 6 pm Religious discussion, Q and A after. 

Saturday, April 10 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, April 11 – Divine Liturgy at 10 am.

Wednesday, April 14 – Lenten hours at 8 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am. Great Canon of St Andrew/Life of St Mary of Egypt at 7 pm. In the Canon are collected and stated all the exhortations to fasting and repentance, and the Holy Church repeats it now in its fullness to inspire us new strength for the successful end to Lent.

Friday, April 16 – Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos at 7 pm, Religious discussion, Q and A after. The Akathist Hymn is a profound, devotional poem, which sings the praises of the Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is one of the most beloved services in the Orthodox Church. It was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, "the city of the Virgin," by St. Romanos the Melodist, who reposed in the year 556. The word "akathistos" means "not sitting," i.e., standing; normally all participants stand while it is being prayed. 

Saturday, April 17 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, April 18 – Divine Liturgy at 10 am.

Wednesday, April 21 – Lenten hours at 5 pm, Presanctified Liturgy at 6 pm. Religious discussion, Q and A after.

Saturday, April 24 – Lazarus Saturday – Beginning of Holy Week.

Please check the church bulletin, Facebook and Website since the services may change for unforeseen reason/s.If any of our parishioners feel uncomfortable coming to church during the services, they should call Fr. Aleksandar and schedule appointment to come to church at any time to pray, receive Mysteries and light their candles.

 

Schedule of Lenten Services 2021

Schedule of Lenten Services

St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, Joliet, IL

Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim of Syria:

O Lord and Master of my life!

Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.  Prostration

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Prostration

Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother;

For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen. Prostration

 

Sunday, March 14 – Forgiveness Sunday. After the liturgy will be forgiveness vespers. This Sunday reminds us of our need for God’s forgiveness and guides our hearts, minds, and spiritual efforts on returning to Him in repentance. As we ask for God’s forgiveness, we must forgive others. After the dismissal at Vespers, the priest stands beside the ikon in the middle of church, and the faithful come up one by one and venerate the icon, come before the priest, saying, "Forgive me, a sinner." The priest replies saying, "God forgives. Forgive me." The person responds, "God forgives," and receives a blessing from the priest.

Monday, March 15 – Beginning of Great Fast or Lent. This first week of Lent is also called “Čista sedmica” or Clean week because it is traditionally observed by strict fast. Vespers and Canon of St Andrew of Crete at 7 pm. Religious discussion, Q and A after.

Wednesday, March 17 – Lenten hours at 8 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am. Please see the sign-up sheet on the wardens table to sign up as a reader for Lenten services.  Faithful are encouraged to partake of Holy Mysteries as often as possible during Lent.

Saturday, March 20 - Vigil and Confession at 5 pm. Confession will be every Saturday evening and at least 30 minutes prior to a Liturgy. Confessions can also be made with appointment at any time. The best time for confession is on Saturday evening!

Sunday, March 21 – Sunday of Orthodoxy – Divine Liturgy at 10 am. Due to Pandemic, we will not have inter-Orthodox Vespers in Chicago area.

Wednesday, March 24 – Lenten hours at 5 pm, Presanctified Liturgy at 6 pm. Religious discussion, Q and A after.  If you are preparing to partake of Holy Communion at the evening Liturgy, please stop all food and drink at 12 noon unless you can keep total fast all day.

Saturday, March 27 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, March 28 – Divine Liturgy at 10 am.

Wednesday, March 31 – Lenten hours at 8 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am.

Saturday, April 3 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, April 4 – Sunday of Veneration of Holy Cross – Middle of Lent. Divine Liturgy at 10 am. The Holy Cross is called the Tree of Life; it is placed in the middle of the Fast as the ancient tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden of Eden. By this, our Holy Fathers wished to remind us of Adam’s gluttony as well as the fact that through this Tree has condemnation been abolished. Therefore, if we bind ourselves to the Holy Cross, we shall never encounter death but shall inherit life eternal. Faithful venerate decorated cross in churc 

Wednesday, April 7 – Feast of Annunciation Blagovesti – Vesperal Liturgy at 9 am.  Lenten hours at 5 pm, Presanctified Liturgy at 6 pm Religious discussion, Q and A after. 

Saturday, April 10 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, April 11 – Divine Liturgy at 10 am.

Wednesday, April 14 – Lenten hours at 8 am, Presanctified Liturgy at 9 am. Great Canon of St Andrew/Life of St Mary of Egypt at 7 pm. In the Canon are collected and stated all the exhortations to fasting and repentance, and the Holy Church repeats it now in its fullness to inspire us new strength for the successful end to Lent.

Friday, April 16 – Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos at 7 pm, Religious discussion, Q and A after. The Akathist Hymn is a profound, devotional poem, which sings the praises of the Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is one of the most beloved services in the Orthodox Church. It was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, "the city of the Virgin," by St. Romanos the Melodist, who reposed in the year 556. The word "akathistos" means "not sitting," i.e., standing; normally all participants stand while it is being prayed. 

Saturday, April 17 – Vigil and Confession at 5 pm.

Sunday, April 18 – Divine Liturgy at 10 am.

Wednesday, April 21 – Lenten hours at 5 pm, Presanctified Liturgy at 6 pm. Religious discussion, Q and A after.

Saturday, April 24 – Lazarus Saturday – Beginning of Holy Week.

Please check the church bulletin, Facebook and Website since the services may change for unforeseen reason/s.If any of our parishioners feel uncomfortable coming to church during the services, they should call Fr. Aleksandar and schedule appointment to come to church at any time to pray, receive Mysteries and light their candles.

 

The meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple, Feb. 15

The Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple

The Meeting of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is described in the third Gospel (Luke 2:22-40). Forty days after His birth the Divine Child was brought to the Temple at Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord. According to the Law of Moses (Lev. 12:2-8), a woman who gave birth to a male child was forbidden to enter the Temple for forty days. At the end of the time of her purification, the mother went to the Temple with the child, to offer a young lamb, two turtledoves, or pigeons to the Lord as a sacrifice. The Most Holy Virgin had no need of purification, since she had given birth to the Source of purity and sanctity. Out of humility, however, she fulfilled the requirements of the Law.

At this time the righteous Elder Simeon (February 3) was living in Jerusalem. It had been revealed to him that he would not die until he beheld the promised Messiah. By divine inspiration, Saint Simeon went to the Temple at the very moment when the Most Holy Theotokos and Saint Joseph had brought the Child Jesus to fulfill the Law.

Saint Simeon received the divine Child in his arms,1 and giving thanks to God, he spoke the words repeated by the Church each evening at Vespers: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). Saint Simeon said to the Most Holy Virgin: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

At the Temple was an 84-year-old widow, Saint Anna the Prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel (February 3), “who did not leave the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day." She arrived just when Saint Simeon met the Divine Child. She also gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who were looking for redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). In the icon of the Feast she holds a scroll which reads: “This Child has established Heaven and earth.”

Before Christ was born, the righteous men and women lived by faith in the promised Messiah, and awaited His coming. The Righteous Simeon and the Prophetess Anna, the last righteous persons of the Old Testament, were deemed worthy to meet Him in the Temple.

The Feast of the Meeting of the Lord is among the most ancient feasts of the Christian Church. We have sermons by the holy bishops Methodios of Patara (+ 312), Cyril of Jerusalem (+ 360), Gregory the Theologian (+ 389), Amphilokhios of Iconium (+ 394), Gregory of Nyssa (+ 400), and John Chrysostom (+ 407). Despite its early origin, this Feast was not celebrated so splendidly until the VI century.

In 528, during the reign of Justinian, an earthquake killed many people in Antioch. Other misfortunes followed this one. In 541 a terrible plague broke out in Constantinople, carrying off several thousand people each day. During this time of widespread suffering, a solemn prayer service (Litia) for deliverence from evils was celebrated on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, and the plague ceased. Giving thanks to God, the Church established a more solemn celebration of this Feast. 

 

 

 

 

St. Sava of Serbia, Jan. 14/27

Saint Sava I, first Archbishop of Serbia

Saint Sava, First Archbishop of Serbia, in the world Rostislav (Rastko), was a son of the Serbian king Stephen Nemanya and Anna, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus. From his early years he fervently attended church services and had a special love for icons.

At seventeen years of age, Rostislav met a monk from Mount Athos, secretly left his father’s house and set off for the Saint Panteleimon monastery. (By divine Providence in 1169, the year of the saint’s birth, the ancient monastery of the Great Martyr and healer Panteleimon was given to Russian monks.)

Knowing that his son was on Athos, his father mobilized his retainers headed by a faithful voevod and wrote to the governor of the district which included Athos, saying that if his son were not returned to him, he would go to war against the Greeks. When they arrived at the monastery, the voevod was ordered not to take his eyes off Rostislav. During the evening services, when the soldiers had fallen asleep under the influence of wine, Rostislav received monastic tonsure (in 1186) and sent to his parents his worldly clothes, his hair and a letter. Saint Sava sought to persuade his powerful parents to accept monasticism. The monk’s father (in monasticism Simeon, commemorated on February 13) and his son pursued asceticism at the Vatopedi monastery. On Athos they established the Serbian Hilandar monastery, and this monastery received its name by imperial grant. At Hilandar monastery, Saint Sava was ordained to the diaconate and then presbyter. His mother Anna became a nun with the name Anastasia (June 21).

For his holy life and virtuous deeds on Mount Athos, the monk was made an archimandrite at Thessalonica. At Nicea in the year 1219 on the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Ecumenical Patriarch Germanus consecrated Archimandrite Sava as Archbishop of Serbia. The saint petitioned the Byzantine Emperor to grant permission for Serbian bishops to elect their own Archbishop in future. This was a very important consideration in a time of frequent wars between the eastern and western powers.

Having returned to the Holy Mountain from Nicea, the saint visited all the monasteries for the last time. He made prostrations in all the churches and, calling to mind the blessed lives of the wilderness Fathers, he made his farewells to the ascetics with deep remorse, “leaving the Holy Mountain, as if from Paradise.”

Saddened by his separation from the Holy Mountain, the saint went along the path from Athos just barely moving. The Most Holy Theotokos spoke to the saint in a dream, “Having My Patronage, why do you remain sorrowful?” These words roused him from despondency, changing his sorrow into joy. In memory of this appearance, the saint commissioned large icons of the Savior and of the Mother of God at Thessalonica, and put them in a church.

In Serbia, the activity of the Hierarch in organizing the work of his native Church was accompanied by numerous signs and miracles. During the Liturgy and the all-night Vigil, when the saint came to cense the grave of his father the monk Simeon, the holy relics exuded fragrant myrrh.

Being in charge of negotiations with the Hungarian King Vladislav, who had declared war on Serbia, the holy bishop not only brought about the desired peace for his country, but he also brought the Hungarian monarch to Orthodoxy. Thus he facilitated the start of the historical existence of the autonomous Serbian Church. Saint Sava also contributed to strengthening the Serbian state. In order to insure the independence of the Serbian state, Archbishop Sava crowned his powerful brother Stephen as king. Upon the death of Stephen, his eldest son Radislav was crowned king, and Saint Sava set off to the Holy Land “to worship at the holy tomb of Christ and fearsome Golgotha.”

When he returned to his native land, the saint blessed and crowned Vladislav as king. To further strengthen the Serbian throne, he betrothed him to the daughter of the Bulgarian prince Asan. The holy hierarch visited churches all across Serbia, he reformed monastic rules on the model of Athos and Palestine, and he established and consecrated many churches, strengthening the Orthodox in their faith. Having finished his work in his native land, the saint appointed the hieromonk Arsenius as his successor, consecrating him bishop and giving his blessing to all.

He then set off on a journey of no return, desiring “to end his days as a wanderer in a foreign land.” He passed through Palestine, Syria and Persia, Babylon, Egypt and Anatolia, everywhere visiting the holy places, conversing with great ascetics, and collecting the holy relics of saints. The saint finished his wanderings at Trnovo in Bulgaria at the home of his kinsman Asan, where with spiritual joy he gave up his soul to the Lord (+ 1237).

At the time of transfer of the holy relics of Saint Sava to Serbia in 1237, there were so many healings that the Bulgarians began to complain about Asan, “because he had given up such a treasure.” In the saint’s own country, his venerable relics were placed in the Church of Mileshevo, bestowing healing on all who approached with faith. The inhabitants of Trnovo continued to receive healing from the remnants of the saint’s coffin, which Asan ordered to be gathered together and placed in a newly built sarcophagus.

The legacy of Saint Sava lives on in the Orthodox Church traditions of the Slavic nations. He is associated with the introduction of the Jerusalem Typikon as the basis for Slavic Monastic Rules. The Serbian Hilandar monastery on Mt. Athos lives by the Typikon of Saint Sava to this day. Editions of The Rudder (a collection of church canons) of Saint Sava, with commentary by Alexis Aristines, are the most widely disseminated in the Russian Church. In 1270 the first copy of The Rudder of Saint Sava was sent from Bulgaria to Metropolitan Cyril of Kiev. From this was copied one of the most ancient of the Russian Rudders, the Ryazan Rudder of 1284. It in turn was the source for a printed Rudder published in 1653, and since that time often reprinted by the Russian Church. Such was the legacy of Saint Sava to the canonical treasury of Orthodoxy.

Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
God is Revealed   
Indeed is Revealed!

Theophany is the Feast which reveals the Most Holy Trinity to the world through the Baptism of the Lord (Mt.3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). God the Father spoke from Heaven about the Son, the Son was baptized by Saint John the Forerunner, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of a dove. From ancient times this Feast was called the Day of Illumination and the Feast of Lights, since God is Light and has appeared to illumine “those who sat in darkness,” and “in the region of the shadow of death” (Mt.4:16), and to save the fallen race of mankind by grace.

In the ancient Church it was the custom to baptize catechumens at the Vespers of Theophany, so that Baptism also is revealed as the spiritual illumination of mankind.

The origin of the Feast of Theophany goes back to Apostolic times, and it is mentioned in The Apostolic Constitutions (Book V:13). From the second century we have the testimony of Saint Clement of Alexandria concerning the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and the night vigil before this Feast.

There is a third century dialogue about the services for Theophany between the holy martyr Hippolytus and Saint Gregory the Wonderworker. In the following centuries, from the fourth to ninth century, all the great Fathers of the Church: Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, John of Damascus, commented on the Feast of Theophany.

The monks Joseph the Studite, Theophanes and Byzantios composed much liturgical music for this Feast, which is sung at Orthodox services even today. Saint John of Damascus said that the Lord was baptized, not because He Himself had need for cleansing, but “to bury human sin by water,” to fulfill the Law, to reveal the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and finally, to sanctify “the nature of water” and to offer us the form and example of Baptism.

On the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, the Holy Church proclaims our faith in the most sublime mystery, incomprehensible to human intellect, of one God in three Persons. It teaches us to confess and glorify the Holy Trinity, one in Essence and Undivided. It exposes and overthrows the errors of ancient teachings which attempted to explain the Creator of the world by reason, and in human terms.

The Church shows the necessity of Baptism for believers in Christ, and it inspires us with a sense of deep gratitude for the illumination and purification of our sinful nature. The Church teaches that our salvation and cleansing from sin is possible only by the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit, therefore it is necessary to preserve worthily these gifts of the grace of holy Baptism, keeping clean this priceless garb, for “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27).

On the day of Theophany, all foods are permitted, even if the Feast falls on a Wednesday or Friday.

Happy and blessed Old Calendar New Year! Srecna Nova Godina!

Happy and blessed Old Calendar New Year! Srecna Nova Godina!

St Basil the Great  January 1/14

Basil was born during the reign of Emperor Constantine. While still unbaptized, he spent fifteen years in Athens, where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and all the other secular sciences of that time. His colleagues there were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. In his mature years he was baptized in the Jordan River along with Ebulios, his former teacher. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for almost ten years and completed his earthly life fifty years after his birth. He was a great defender of Orthodoxy, a great light of moral purity, a religious zealot, a great theological mind, and a great builder and pillar of the Church of God. Basil fully deserved the title “Great.” In liturgical services he is referred to as the “bee of the Church of Christ, which brings honey to the faithful and with its stinger pricks the heretics.” Numerous works of this Father of the Church are preserved; they include theological, apologetical, ascetical and canonical writings, as well as the Holy and Divine Liturgy named after him. This Divine Liturgy is celebrated ten times during the year: on the first of January, his feast day; on the eve of the Nativity of our Lord; on the eve of the Theophany of our Lord; on all Sundays of Great Lent except Palm Sunday; on Great and Holy Thursday; and on Great and Holy Saturday. St. Basil reposed peacefully on January 1, 379, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ.

Circumcision of our Lord

On the eighth day following His birth, the Divine Child was presented in the Temple and circumcised according to the Law existing in Israel since the time of Abraham. On this occasion, He was given the name Jesus, which the Archangel Gabriel had announced to the Most-Holy Virgin Mary. The Old Testament circumcision was the prefiguring of the New Testament baptism. The circumcision of our Lord shows that He truly received upon Himself the body of man and not just seemingly, as was later taught of Him by heretics. Our Lord was also circumcised because He wanted to fulfill the entire Law, which He Himself gave through the prophets and forefathers. In fulfilling the written Law, He replaced it with Baptism in His Holy Church as was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Galatians 6:15). (In the liturgical calendar of the Church, this Feast of the Lord's Circumcision has neither a forefeast nor an afterfeast).

The Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
Mir Boziji Hristos se rodi
Peace of God Christ is Born!!!

Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, Bishop of Antioch

Commemorated on December 20/January 2January 2 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am, confession at 8:30 am

 

The Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, was a disciple of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, as was also Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (February 23). Saint Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch, and successor to Bishop Euodius, Apostle of the Seventy (September 7).

Tradition suggests that when Saint Ignatius was a little boy, the Savior hugged him and said: “Unless you turn and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 18:3). The saint was called “God-Bearer” (Theophoros), because he bore God in his heart and prayed unceasingly to Him. He also had this name because he was held in the arms of Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

Saint Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian, together with Saint Polycarp of Smyrna. As Bishop of Antioch, Saint Ignatius was zealous and spared no effort to build up the church of Christ. To him is attributed the practice of antiphonal singing (by two choirs) during church services. He had seen a vision of the angels in heaven alternately singing praises to God, and divided his church choir to follow this example. In the time of persecution he was a source of strength to the souls of his flock and was eager to suffer for Christ.

In the year 106 the emperor Trajan (98-117), after his victory over the Scythians, ordered everyone to give thanks to the pagan gods, and to put to death any Christians who refused to worship the idols. In the year 107, Trajan happened to pass through Antioch. Here they told him that Bishop Ignatius openly confessed Christ, and taught people to scorn riches, to lead a virtuous life, and preserve their virginity. Saint Ignatius came voluntarily before the emperor, so as to avert persecution of the Christians in Antioch. Saint Ignatius rejected the persistent requests of the emperor Trajan to sacrifice to the idols. The emperor then decided to send him to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts. Saint Ignatius joyfully accepted the sentence imposed upon him. His readiness for martyrdom was attested to by eyewitnesses, who accompanied Saint Ignatius from Antioch to Rome.

On the way to Rome, the ship sailed from Seleucia stopped at Smyrna, where Saint Ignatius met with his friend Bishop Polycarp. Clergy and believers from other cities and towns thronged to see Saint Ignatius. He exhorted everyone not to fear death and not to grieve for him. In his Epistle to the Roman Christians, he asked them to assist him with their prayers, and to pray that God would strengthen him in his impending martyrdom for Christ: “I seek Him Who died for us; I desire Him Who rose for our salvation... In me, desire has been nailed to the cross, and no flame of material longing is left. Only the living water speaks within me, saying, ‘Hasten to the Father.’”

From Smyrna, Saint Ignatius went to Troas. Here he heard the happy news of the end of the persecution against Christians in Antioch. From Troas, Saint Ignatius sailed to Neapolis (in Macedonia) and then to Philippi.

On the way to Rome Saint Ignatius visited several churches, teaching and guiding the Christians there. He also wrote seven epistles: to the churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna. He also addressed a letter to Saint Polycarp, who mentions a collection of the letters of Saint Ignatius in his letter to the Philippians (Ch. 13). Saint Irenaeus of Lyons quotes from Saint Ignatius’s letter to the Romans (AGAINST HERESIES 5:28:4). All these letters have survived to the present day.

The Roman Christians met Saint Ignatius with great joy and profound sorrow. Some of them hoped to prevent his execution, but Saint Ignatius implored them not to do this. Kneeling down, he prayed together with the believers for the Church, for love between the brethren, and for an end to the persecution against Christians.

On December 20, the day of a pagan festival, they led Saint Ignatius into the arena, and he turned to the people: “Men of Rome, you know that I am sentenced to death, not because of any crime, but because of my love for God, by Whose love I am embraced. I long to be with Him, and offer myself to him as a pure loaf, made of fine wheat ground fine by the teeth of wild beasts.”

After this the lions were released and tore him to pieces, leaving only his heart and a few bones. Tradition says that on his way to execution, Saint Ignatius unceasingly repeated the name of Jesus Christ. When they asked him why he was doing this, Saint Ignatius answered that this Name was written in his heart, and that he confessed with his lips Him Whom he always carried within. When the saint was devoured by the lions, his heart was not touched. When they cut open the heart, the pagans saw an inscription in gold letters: “Jesus Christ.” After his execution Saint Ignatius appeared to many of the faithful in their sleep to comfort them, and some saw him at prayer for the city of Rome.

Hearing of the saint’s great courage, Trajan thought well of him and stopped the persecution against the Christians. The relics of Saint Ignatius were transferred to Antioch (January 29), and on February 1, 637 were returned to Rome and placed in the church of San Clemente.

 

Meza Platter Fundraiser - pre-order deadine is Sunday!

Christ is Born!!

Instead of assembling your own, pick up a charcuterie / meza platter from us!

Pre-Order a 14" Platter of a various meats for curbside pick up.

Orders will be taken by phone until 8pm Sunday, January 3rd.

Call or Text Danielle Serdar at (630) 709-7437
  Include your name, number of plates and pick up time

Pick Up between 10:30 -11:30am or 4:00-6:00 pm on  Wednesday, January 6th from the East side (upper level) of the Social Center.

Each 14" Platter contains slices of Cheese, Prosciutto, Suvi Vrat, Kobasica and Salama Bonus!! A small pogaca and container of kajmak included with every order!

$30 per Platter Cash or Check made payable to St. George Serbian Orthodox Church

Thank you & May God Bless You & Your Families this Božić

St. George Church-School Board

Serbian Mother’s Day is Dec. 27; Father’s Day Jan. 3

Two Sundays before Nativity is Serbian Mother’s Day - Materice, when children tie their mothers' and grandmothers' legs together, and in return they get symbolic presents. The same is done with fathers and grandfathers on the next Sunday. Tying the legs represents the bonds and love in the family before the Feast of the Birth of our Savior.

Serbian Nativity greeting; reminders

The traditional Serbian Orthodox greeting for the Nativity season is Christ is Born and the reply is Indeed He is Born or Truly He is Born. In Serbian it is Hristos se rodi and the reply is Voistinu se rodi. Many Slavic people such as Russians and Ukrainians say Christ is Born, Glorify Him! Either all together or One person would say Christ is Born and another Glorify Him. The Christmas greeting in Greek is Christ is Born, give glory! Again, either just one person or two with Christ is Born and reply Give glory.
The Christmas greeting is used from the day of the Nativity until the Apodosis or Leave-taking of the Feast which is January 13. 

Holy Mysteries never have been stopped in our church. Holy Communion is offered at every Divine Liturgy. Communicants should put their head back and open their mouth wide to receive communion so the spoon does not touch their lips. Confession is on Saturdays after the vigil or on Sunday and other Holy Days, 30 minutes before any Divine Liturgy. Confession and communion can also be taken at any other time in church or at a parishioner’s home. There is no reason to be without the saving Mysteries! Please let Fr Alex know which way you would like to receive confession and communion. To be a member in good standing of an Orthodox church, a faithful parishioner should be in good standing in his/her Sacramental/liturgical and financial obligations.

During the pandemic four of our parishioners continued to read 3rd and 6th hours before a Sunday Liturgy. Many thanks. If you would like to read the hours and feel safe and are healthy, please let the priest know.

A few months ago, we had instructions for making and baking the prosphoras - liturgical bread, in our kitchen. Some parishioners were not able to attend, but we will have another one in January. Please let Fr Aleksandar know which day of the week would work the best for you if you would like to participate.

Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
Commemorated on December 6/19
Services in St George:
Vespers/confession on Friday, Dec 18 at 6 pm
Divine Liturgy, Dec 19 at 9 am
Srecna slava to all who celebrate this glorious Saint as their Patron Saint!
Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God.
As the fruit of the prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness. The newborn infant, while still in the baptismal font, stood on his feet three hours, without support from anyone, thereby honoring the Most Holy Trinity. Saint Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays, he would not accept milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their evening prayers.
From his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Bishop Nicholas of Patara rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his nephew. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the priesthood, making him his assistant and entrusting him to instruct the flock.
In serving the Lord the youth was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency, with questions of faith he was like an Elder, who aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, in unceasing prayer, the priest Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards the afflicted who came to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor.
There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom Saint Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desperation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man’s poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. Saint Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, Saint Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.
The Bishop of Patara decided to go on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, and entrusted the guidance of his flock to Saint Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, Nicholas asked his blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the saint predicted a storm would arise and threaten the ship. Saint Nicholas saw the devil get on the ship, intending to sink it and kill all the passengers. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed the waves of the sea by his prayers. Through his prayer a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was mortally injured, was also restored to health.
When he reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and came to Golgotha, Saint Nicholas gave thanks to the Savior. He went to all the holy places, worshiping at each one. One night on Mount Sion, the closed doors of the church opened by themselves for the great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, Saint Nicholas decided to withdraw into the desert, but he was stopped by a divine voice urging him to return to his native country. He returned to Lycia, and yearning for a life of quietude, the saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle. But the Lord again indicated another path for him, “Nicholas, this is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for Me. Return to the world, and glorify My Name there.” So he left Patara and went to Myra in Lycia.
Upon the death of Archbishop John, Nicholas was chosen as Bishop of Myra after one of the bishops of the Council said that a new archbishop should be revealed by God, not chosen by men. One of the elder bishops had a vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who came to the church that night and was first to enter should be made archbishop. He would be named Nicholas. The bishop went to the church at night to await Nicholas. The saint, always the first to arrive at church, was stopped by the bishop. “What is your name, child?” he asked. God’s chosen one replied, “My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant.”
After his consecration as archbishop, Saint Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love for people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians for refusing to worship idols, sustained them and exhorted them to endure the fetters, punishment and torture. The Lord preserved him unharmed. Upon the accession of Saint Constantine (May 21) as emperor, Saint Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received their guide and intercessor.
Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, Saint Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.
In the year 325 Saint Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council. This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith, and he stood up against the heretic Arius with the likes of Saints Sylvester the Bishop of Rome (January 2), Alexander of Alexandria (May 29), Spyridon of Trimythontos (December 12) and other Fathers of the Council.
Saint Nicholas, fired with zeal for the Lord, assailed the heretic Arius with his words, and also struck him upon the face. For this reason, he was deprived of the emblems of his episcopal rank and placed under guard. But several of the holy Fathers had the same vision, seeing the Lord Himself and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and omophorion. The Fathers of the Council agreed that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored the saint to the office of bishop.
Having returned to his own diocese, the saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, uprooting heresy, nourishing his flock with sound doctrine, and also providing food for their bodies. The face of Saint Nicholas resembled that of an Angel, resplendent with divine grace. A brilliant ray shone from his face, like that which shone from the face of Moses (Exodus 34:29), so that those who looked at him were astonished. Whoever was oppressed by some affliction or passion of the soul had only to behold the Saint, and his sorrow was eased at once. As for those who conversed with him, they soon found themselves advancing on the path of virtue. Not only were the faithful moved to compassion, but unbelievers as well, and they directed their steps on the path of salvation when they heard him speak. The evil of unbelief which had been implanted in their hearts since childhood was uprooted, and in its place, the word of truth was sown.
Even during his life the saint worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the Governor, who had been bribed. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The Governor, denounced by Saint Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.
Witnessing this remarkable event were three military officers, who were sent to Phrygia by the emperor Constantine to put down a rebellion. They did not suspect that soon they would also be compelled to seek the intercession of Saint Nicholas. Evil men slandered them before the emperor, and the officers were sentenced to death. Appearing to Saint Constantine in a dream, Saint Nicholas called on him to overturn the unjust sentence of the military officers.
He worked many other miracles, and struggled many long years at his labor. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. He appeared to a certain Italian merchant and left him three gold pieces as a pledge of payment. He requested him to sail to Myra and deliver grain there. More than once, the saint saved those drowning in the sea, and provided release from captivity and imprisonment.
Having reached old age, Saint Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His venerable relics were preserved incorrupt in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087, his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (See May 9/22).
Saint Nicholas is the patron of travelers, and we pray to him for deliverance from floods, poverty, or any misfortunes. He has promised to help those who remember his parents, Theophanes and Nonna.
Saint Nicholas is also commemorated on May 9/22 (The transfer of his relics)
In Italy, the relics of Saint Nicholas are in the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Bari; and his left arm is in Saint Nicholas Roman Catholic Church of Rimini.
In Russia, relics of Saint Nicholas are to be found in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, and in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg.
The right hand of Saint Nicholas is in the church of Saint George the New in Bucharest, Romania.
In Greece, portions of the Saint's relics are in the Monasteries of Saint Nicholas Apo Bathia in Euboia, and Phaneromenē in Salaminos. A piece of the Saint's left arm is in the Metropolitan church of Volos. One of the Saint's teeth is at Kalabryta Monastery in the Peloponnēsos.
The Nativity Schedule of Services at St George Serbian Orthodox church:

Saturday, January 2 - St Ignatius the God-bearer / St John of Kronstadt / St Daniel II Archbishop of Serbia / The Forefeast of the Nativity

Confession at 8:30 am; Divine Liturgy at 9 am

Vigil/confession at 5 pm

Sunday, January 3- Sunday of the Holy Fathers / Martyr Juliana / Serbian Father's Day / Oчеви

Confession at 9:30 am; Divine Liturgy at 10 am and church school. Decoration of Badnjak in church.

Wednesday, January 6 - Nativity Eve / Badnji dan / strict fast / Rozdestvenski sochelnik 

Confession at 8:30 am; Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St Basil at 9 am

Blessing of Badnjak in the church at 4 pm. From this service until the Nativity Matins the church will be open for all who wants to come, say their prayers, light candles, and take a piece of badnjak (Yule Log) home. We are suggesting to our senior citizens and the parishioners of higher risk to attend these two services and leave the Nativity Matins at 6 pm for working - younger people. Please let Fr Alex know which service you would like to attend since we cannot have many in church! Masks and social distancing required!

Nativity Matins at 6 pm. Confessions after the Matins

Thursday, January 7 - The Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ / Божић

Confession at 9:30 am.  Divine Liturgy at 10 am. The church will be open from 5 pm to 7 pm for all who want to come.

Friday, January 8 - Synaxis of the Theotokos / Сабор Пресвете Богородице

Divine Liturgy at 9 am

Vespers/confessions at 6 pm

Saturday, January 9 - St Stephen the First Archdeacon and Martyr / Св Стефан Архиђакон

Divine Liturgy at 9 am

Vigil/confession at 5 pm

Sunday, January 10 - Sunday after Nativity / Недеља по Божићу

Divine Liturgy at 10 am, Church School

 

The Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple Commemorated on November 21/December 4

According to Holy Tradition, the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple took place in the following manner. The parents of the Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim and Anna, praying for an end to their childlessness, vowed that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of God.

When the Most Holy Virgin reached the age of three, the holy parents decided to fulfill their vow. They gathered together their relatives and acquaintances and dressed the All-Pure Virgin in Her finest clothes. Singing sacred songs and with lighted candles in their hands, virgins escorted Her to the Temple (Ps. 44/45:14-15). There the High Priest and several priests met the handmaiden of God. In the Temple, fifteen high steps led to the sanctuary, which only the priests and High Priest could enter. (Because they recited a Psalm on each step, Psalms 119/120-133/134 are called “Psalms of Ascent.”) The child Mary, so it seemed, could not make it up this stairway. But just as they placed Her on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, She quickly went up the remaining steps and ascended to the highest one. Then the High Priest, through inspiration from above, led the Most Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest entered once a year to offer a purifying sacrifice of blood. Therefore, all those present in the Temple were astonished at this most unusual occurrence.

After entrusting their child to the Heavenly Father, Joachim and Anna returned home. The All-Holy Virgin remained in the quarters for virgins near the Temple. According to the testimony of Holy Scripture (Exodus 38; 1 Kings 1: 28; Luke 2: 37), and also the historian Josephus Flavius, there were many living quarters around the Temple, in which those who were dedicated to the service of God dwelt.

The earthly life of the Most Holy Theotokos from Her infancy until She was taken up to Heaven is shrouded in deep mystery. Her life at the Jerusalem Temple was also a secret. “If anyone were to ask me,” said Saint Jerome, “how the Most Holy Virgin spent the time of Her youth, I would answer that that is known to God Himself and the Archangel Gabriel, Her constant guardian.”

But there are accounts in Church Tradition, that during the All-Pure Virgin’s stay at the Temple, She grew up in a community of pious virgins, diligently read the Holy Scripture, occupied Herself with handicrafts, prayed constantly, and grew in love for God. From ancient times, the Church has celebrated the Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Indications that the Feast was observed in the first centuries of Christianity are found in the traditions of Palestinian Christians, which say that the holy Empress Helen (May 21) built a church in honor of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa, in the fourth century, also mentions this Feast. In the eighth century Saints Germanus and Tarasius, Patriarchs of Constantinople, delivered sermons on the Feast of the Entry.

The Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple foretells God’s blessing for the human race, the preaching of salvation, the promise of the coming of Christ.

Serbian Patriarch Irinej reposed in the Lord

The Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch (Gavrilovic) reposed in the Lord in the Military Covid Hospital "Karaburma" in Belgrade, on Friday, November 20, 2020, at 7:07 AM. 

Read more details at http://www.spc.rs/eng

Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers Commemorated on November 8/21

Services in St George church:Nov 20 - Vespers/confession at 6 pm Nov 21 - Divine Liturgy at 9 am Blessed Krsna Slava to all who celebrate this Feast Day!
The Synaxis of the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts, Archangel Michael and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers: Archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jehudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel was established at the beginning of the fourth century at the Council of Laodicea, which met several years before the First Ecumenical Council. The 35th Canon of the Council of Laodicea condemned and denounced as heretical the worship of angels as gods and rulers of the world, but affirmed their proper veneration.

A Feastday was established in November, the ninth month after March (with which the year began in ancient times) since there are Nine Ranks of Angels. The eighth day of the month was chosen for the Synaxis of all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven since the Day of the Dread Last Judgment is called the Eighth Day by the holy Fathers. After the end of this age (characterized by its seven days of Creation) will come the Eighth Day, and then “the Son of Man shall come in His Glory and all the holy Angels with Him” (Mt. 25:31). 

The Angelic Ranks are divided into three Hierarchies: highest, middle, and lowest.

The Highest Hierarchy includes: the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.

The six-winged SERAPHIM (Flaming, Fiery) (Is 6:12) stand closest of all to the Most Holy Trinity. They blaze with love for God and kindle such love in others.

The many-eyed CHERUBIM (outpouring of wisdom, enlightenment) (Gen 3:24) stand before the Lord after the Seraphim. They are radiant with the light of knowledge of God, and knowledge of the mysteries of God. Through them wisdom is poured forth, and people’s minds are enlightened so they may know God and behold His glory.

The THRONES (Col 1:16) stand after the Cherubim, mysteriously and incomprehensibly bearing God through the grace given them for their service. They are ministers of God’s justice, giving to tribunals, kings, etc. the capacity for righteous judgment.

The Middle Angelic Hierarchy consists of three Ranks: Dominions, Powers, and Authorities. 

DOMINIONS (Col 1:16) hold dominion over the angels subject to them. They instruct the earthly authorities, established by God, to rule wisely, and to govern their lands well. The Dominions teach us to subdue sinful impulses, to subject the flesh to the spirit, to master our will, and to conquer temptation.

POWERS (1 Pet 3:22) fulfill the will of God without hesitation. They work great miracles and give the grace of wonderworking and clairvoyance to saints pleasing to God. The Powers assist people in fulfilling obediences. They also encourage them to be patient, and give them spiritual strength and fortitude.

AUTHORITIES (1 Pet 3:22, Col 1:16) have authority over the devil. They protect people from demonic temptations, and prevent demons from harming people as they would wish. They also uphold ascetics and guard them, helping people in the struggle with evil thoughts.

The Lowest Hierarchy includes the three Ranks: Principalities, Archangels, and Angels:

PRINCIPALITIES (Col 1:16) have command over the lower angels, instructing them in the fulfilling of God’s commands. They watch over the world and protect lands, nations and peoples. Principalities instruct people to render proper honor to those in authority, as befits their station. They teach those in authority to use their position, not for personal glory and gain, but to honor God, and to spread word of Him, for the benefit of those under them.

ARCHANGELS (1 Thess 4:16) are messengers of great and wondrous tidings. They reveal prophecies and the mysteries of the faith. They enlighten people to know and understand the will of God, they spread faith in God among the people, illuminating their minds with the light of the Holy Gospel.

ANGELS (1 Pet 3:22) are in the lowest rank of the heavenly hierarchy, and closest to people. They reveal the lesser mysteries of God and His intentions, guiding people to virtuous and holy life. They support those who remain steadfast, and they raise up the fallen. They never abandon us and they are always prepared to help us, if we desire it.

All the Ranks of the Heavenly Powers are called angels, although each has its own name and position by virtue of their service. The Lord reveals His will to the highest ranks of the angels, and they in turn inform the others.

Over all the Nine Ranks, the Lord appointed the Holy Archangel Michael (his name in Hebrew means “who is like unto God”), the faithful servitor of God, as Chief Commander. He cast down from Heaven the arrogantly proud Lucifer and the other fallen spirits when they rebelled against God. Michael summoned the ranks of angels and cried out, “Let us attend! Let us stand aright before our Creator and do not consider doing what is displeasing unto God!”

According to Church Tradition, and in the church services to the Archangel Michael, he participated in many other Old Testament events.

During the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt he went before them in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Through him the power of the Lord was made manifest, annihilating the Egyptians and Pharaoh who were in pursuit of the Israelites. The Archangel Michael defended Israel in all its misfortunes.

He appeared to Joshua Son of Navi and revealed the will of the Lord at the taking of Jericho (Josh 5:13-16). The power of the great Chief Commander of God was manifest in the annihilation of the 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib (4/2 Kings 19:35); also in the smiting of the impious leader Heliodorus (2 Macc. 3: 24-26); and in the protection of the Three Holy Youths: Ananias, Azarias and Misail, thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to worship an idol (Dan 3:22-25).

Through the will of God, the Chief Commander Michael transported the Prophet Habbakuk (December 2) from Judea to Babylon, to give food to Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan. 14:33-37).

The Archangel Michael disputed with the devil over the body of the holy Prophet Moses (Jude 1:9). 

The holy Archangel Michael showed his power when he miraculously saved a young man, cast into the sea by robbers with a stone about his neck on the shores of Mt Athos. This story is found in the Athonite Paterikon, and in the Life of Saint Neophytus of Docheiariou (November 9).

We invoke Saint Michael for protection from invasion by enemies and from civil war, and for the defeat of adversaries on the field of battle. He conquers all spiritual enemies.

Holy Scripture and Tradition give us the names of the Archangels:

Gabriel: strength (power) of God, herald and servitor of Divine omnipotence (Dan 8:16, Luke 1:26). He announces the mysteries of God.

Raphael: the healing of God, the curer of human infirmities (Tobit 3:16, 12:15)

Uriel: the fire or light of God, enlightener (3 Ezdras 5:20). We pray for him to enlighten those with darkened minds. 

Selaphiel: the prayer of God, impelling to prayer (3 Ezdras 5:16). He prays to God for mankind.

Jehudiel: the glorifying of God, encouraging exertion for the glory of the Lord and interceding for the reward of efforts.

Barachiel: distributor of the blessings of God for good deeds, entreats the mercy of God for people.

Jeremiel: the raising up to God (3 Ezdras 4:36)

On icons the Archangels are depicted in according to the character of their service:

Michael tramples the devil underfoot, and in his left hand holds a green date-tree branch, and in his right hand a spear with a white banner on which is outlined a scarlet cross, or sometimes a fiery sword.

Gabriel with a branch from Paradise, presented by him to the Most Holy Virgin, or with a shining lantern in his right hand and with a mirror made of jasper in his left.

Raphael holds a vessel with healing medications in his left hand, and with his right hand leads Tobias, carrying a fish for healing (Tobit 5-8). 

Uriel in his raised right hand holds a naked sword at the level of his chest, and in his lowered left hand “a fiery flame.”

Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian of Mesopotamia Commemorated on November 1/14

The Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian and their mother Saint Theodota were natives of Asia Minor (some sources say Mesopotamia). Their pagan father died while they were still quite small children. Their mother raised them in Christian piety. Through her own example, and by reading holy books to them, Saint Theodota preserved her children in purity of life according to the command of the Lord, and Cosmas and Damian grew up into righteous and virtuous men.

Trained and skilled as physicians, they received from the Holy Spirit the gift of healing people’s illnesses of body and soul by the power of prayer. They even treated animals. With fervent love for both God and neighbor, they never took payment for their services. They strictly observed the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Freely have you received, freely give.” (Mt. 10:8). The fame of Saints Cosmas and Damian spread throughout all the surrounding region, and people called them unmercenary physicians.

Once, the saints were summoned to a grievously ill woman named Palladia, whom all the doctors had refused to treat because of her seemingly hopeless condition. Through faith and through the fervent prayer of the holy brothers, the Lord healed the deadly disease and Palladia got up from her bed perfectly healthy and giving praise to God. In gratitude for being healed and wishing to give them a small gift, Palladia went quietly to Damian. She presented him with three eggs and said, “Take this small gift in the Name of the Holy Life-Creating Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Hearing the Name of the Holy Trinity, the unmercenary one did not dare to refuse.

When Saint Cosmas learned what had happened, became very sad, for he thought that his brother had broken their strict vow. On his deathbed he gave instructions that his brother should not be buried beside him. Saint Damian also died shortly afterward, and everyone wondered where Saint Damian’s grave should be. But through the will of God a miracle occurred. A camel, which the saints had treated for its wildness, spoke with a human voice saying that they should have no doubts about whether to place Damian beside Cosmas, because Damian did not accept the eggs from the woman as payment, but out of respect for the Name of God. The venerable relics of the holy brothers were buried together at Thereman (Mesopotamia).

Many miracles were worked after the death of the holy unmercenaries. There lived at Thereman, near the church of Cosmas and Damian, a certain man by the name of Malchus. One day he went on a journey, leaving his wife all alone for what would be a long time. He prayerfully entrusted her to the heavenly protection of the holy brothers. But the Enemy of the race of mankind took on the appearance of one of Malchus’ friends, and planned to kill the woman. A certain time went by, and this man went to her at home and said that Malchus had sent him to bring her to him. The woman believed him and went along. He led her to a solitary place intending to kill her. The woman, seeing that disaster threatened her, called upon God with deep faith.

Two fiercesome men then appeared, and the devil let go of the woman and fled, falling off a cliff. The two men led the woman home. At her own home, bowing to them deeply she asked, “My rescuers, to whom I shall be grateful to the end of my days, what are your names?”

They replied, “We are the servants of Christ, Cosmas and Damian,” and became invisible. The woman with trembling and with joy told everyone about what had happened to her. Glorifying God, she went up to the icon of the holy brothers and tearfully offered prayers of thanksgiving for her deliverance. And from that time the holy brothers were venerated as protectors of the holiness and inviolability of Christian marriage, and as givers of harmony to conjugal life. From ancient times, their veneration spread also to Russia.

The Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor should not be confused with the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome (July 1), or the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Arabia (October 17).

Holy, Glorious Dēmḗtrios the Myrrh-gusher of Thessaloniki

The Great Martyr Dēmḗtrios the Myrrh-gusher of Thessaloniki was the son of a Roman proconsul in Thessaloniki. Three centuries had elapsed and Roman paganism, spiritually shattered and defeated by the multitude of martyrs and confessors of the Savior, intensified its persecutions. The parents of Saint Dēmḗtrios were secret Christians, and he was baptized and raised in the Christian Faith in a secret church in his father’s home.

By the time Dēmḗtrios had reached maturity and his father had died, Emperor Galerius Maximian had ascended the throne (305). Maximian, confident in Dēmḗtrios's education as well as his administrative and military abilities, appointed him to his father’s position as proconsul of the Thessaloniki district. The young commander's principal duties were to defend the city from barbarians and to eradicate Christianity. The Emperor's policy regarding Christians was expressed simply: “Put to death anyone who calls on the name of Christ.” The Emperor did not suspect that by appointing Dēmḗtrios he had provided him with the opportunity to bring many people to Christ.

Accepting the appointment, Dēmḗtrios returned to Thessaloniki and confessed and glorified our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of persecuting and executing Christians, he began to teach the Christian Faith openly to the inhabitants of the city and to overthrow pagan customs and the worship of idols. The compiler of his Life, Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), says that because of his teaching zeal he became “a second Apostle Paul” for Thessaloniki, particularly since “the Apostle to the Gentiles” founded the first community of believers in the city (1 Thess. and 2 Thess.).

The Lord also destined Saint Dēmḗtrios to follow Saint Paul on the path to martyrdom. When Maximian learned that the newly-appointed proconsul was a Christian and that he had converted many Roman subjects to Christianity, the Emperor's rage knew no bounds. Returning from a campaign in the area of the Black Sea, the Emperor decided to lead his army through Thessaloniki, determined to massacre the Christians.

Learning of this, Saint Dēmḗtrios ordered his faithful servant Lupus to give his wealth to the poor saying, “Distribute my earthly riches among them, for we shall seek heavenly riches for ourselves.” He began to pray and fast, preparing himself for martyrdom.

When the Emperor came into the city, he summoned Dēmḗtrios, who boldly confessed himself a Christian and denounced the falsehood and futility of Roman polytheism. Maximian ordered Dēmḗtrios to be thrown into prison. An Angel appeared to him, comforting and encouraging him.

Meanwhile, the Emperor amused himself by staging games in the circus. His champion was a German by the name of Lyaeos. He challenged Christians to wrestle with him on a platform built over the upturned spears of the victorious soldiers. A brave Christian named Nestor went to the prison to Saint Dēmḗtrios, his instructor in the Faith, asking for his blessing to fight the barbarian. With the blessing and prayers of Saint Dēmḗtrios, Nestor defeated the fierce German and hurled him from the platform onto the spears of the soldiers, just as the murderous pagan would have done with the Christian. The enraged commander ordered the execution of the holy Martyr Nestor (October 27) and sent a guard to the prison to kill Saint Dēmḗtrios. At dawn on October 26, 306 soldiers appeared in the Saint's underground prison and ran him through with lances. His faithful servant, Saint Lupus, gathered up the blood-soaked garment of Saint Dēmḗtrios he took the imperial ring from his finger, a symbol of his high status, and dipped it in the blood. With the ring and other holy things sanctified the blood of Saint Dēmḗtrios, Saint Lupus began to heal the infirm. The Emperor ordered his soldiers to arrest and kill him.

The body of the holy Great Martyr Dēmḗtrios was cast out for wild animals to devour, but the Christians took it and secretly buried it in the earth.

During the reign of Saint Constantine (306-337), a church was built over the grave of Saint Dēmḗtrios. A hundred years later, during the construction of a majestic new church on the old spot, the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. Since the seventh century, a miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh has been found beneath the crypt of the Great Martyr Dēmḗtrios, so he is called “the Myrrh-gusher.”

Saint Dēmḗtrios is regarded as a protector of the young and is also invoked by those struggling with lustful temptations.

Fish fry fundraiser: Order by Friday, pickup Sunday, June 28!

We will have another curbside pickup fish fry dinner this Sunday!

Pre-order by Friday, June 26 at 9 p.m. Pickup will be Sunday, June 28 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. from the east side, main entrance of the social hall.

Orders will be taken by phone until Friday, June 26 at 9 p.m. Call or text Tana Petrich at 815-207-0737, and include your name and number of dinners.

Pick up between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm from the East side (main entrance) of the Social Center dinner includes:
-
Choice of baked or fried cod
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Choice of vegetable- corn or green beans and French fries
- Green salad, bread and home-made strudel

Cost: At-will donation. Cash or check only!

Remember to preorder by Friday, June 26 at 9 p.m.!

The Sunday of Holy Pentecost / Duhovi June 7, 2020

Saturday, June 6- vigil / confession at 5 p.m.
Sunday, Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. Immediately after the Liturgy, Pentecost vespers with kneeling prayers.
http://www.pravmir.com/why-do-we-decorate-churches-with-gr…/

PASCHA SERVICES

Our Church calls upon all of us to please follow the directions of medical and civil officials to stay at home. All services in church are being conducted by clergy and chanters. 

Because of the corona virus and our congregation not being allowed to attend the services, we will celebrate Paschal Liturgy immediately after the Resurrection Matins which will start at 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 18. On Pascha Sunday, April 19 at 10 a.m we will have the Paschal - Agape Vespers

Parishioners, friends, if you would like to light candles in church during the services for the health and salvation of your family and/or repose of souls of your beloved ones during Holy Week and Bright Week, please call or send a text or email to Fr. Aleksandar with their names and check made out to: St. George Church 300 Stryker Ave, Joliet, IL 60436. Father will gladly do it for you.

The Serb, our parish newsletter, will not be mailed anymore and future issues will be sent via email, please make sure Fr. Aleks has your correct email. Several hard copies of the Serb will be available in the church narthex for parishioners who do not have email.

Unless the stay at home ban is lifted, we will not celebrate St. George Church Slava on Sunday, May 3, but we will have services on May 6, St. George Feast Day, with clergy and chanters only. If St. George is your Krsna Slava, please talk to Fr. Aleks regarding your slava rites.

 

Complying with stay at home directive

Christ is in our midst!

We are following the order of our Governor of the State of Illinois to stay at home from Saturday, March 21 through April 7, 2020, to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. This airborne virus can be spread on from person to person, therefore we ask you to please stay home on Sundays and during other church services.

St George church in Joliet will have Divine Liturgy tomorrow, and other scheduled services, for up to 10 people in attendance, and maintaining social distancing from each other. If we have more faithful in attendance, no one will be turned away, but we have to understand the risk we are taking.

Please continue to pray and keep the fast at your homes during this time.

May God help us through the prayers and intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos and all saints in heaven!

+Milan Laketa

+Milan Laketa 90, entered into his rest on Saturday, March 7, 2020. Visitation will be on Sunday, March 15 at Markiewitz funeral home in Lamont, IL in the afternoon with pomen service at 7 p.m.

Funeral service - opelo on Monday, March 16 at 11 a.m. in St. George Church in Joliet. Visitation from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Burial in Abraham Lincoln National cemetery.

Our deepest condolences to the Laketa family. May Milan's memory be eternal. Vjecnaja pamjat.

Have a blessed and spiritually beneficial Great Lent! 

Troparion, Tone 8

Open to me the doors of repentance, O Life-giver.
For my spirit rises early to pray towards Thy holy temple,
bearing the temple of my body all defiled.
But in Thy compassion, purify me by the loving kindness of Thy mercy.

Lead me on the paths of salvation, O Mother of God,
For I have profaned my soul with shameful sins,
and have wasted my life in laziness.
But by your intercessions, deliver me from all impurity.

When I think of the many evil things I have done, wretch that I am,
I tremble at the fearful day of judgement.
But trusting in Thy living kindness, like David I cry to Thee:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.

The Prayer of St Ephraim of Syria supplicates God for those virtues especially necessary to the Christian life:

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk.  Prostration

But grant rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.  Prostration

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen. Prostration

The best way to experience Great Lent is to attend the services and try to change your everyday routine and modify it according to the Lenten practices.

+Paul Shimek

+Paul Shimek 73, entered into his rest on Saturday evening, February 15 - Feast of the Presentation of our Lord into temple. He was a longtime member and a great supporter of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Joliet, IL.

Visitation and pomen service will be at Tezak Funeral Home in Joliet, IL on Thursday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. Funeral service on Friday, February 21 at 10 a.m. at St. George Serb Orthodox Church. Interment will follow in Woodlawn cemetery in Joliet, IL.

Sincere condolences to his wife Gayle, daughter Stephanie and her husband Deacon Nenad, family and kumovi.

May Paul's memory be eternal! Vjecnaja Pamjat!

Ash Wednesday Fish Fry on Feb. 26 + Fish Fry Fridays throughout Lent

We're hosting Fish Fries beginning Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, and Fridays throughout Lent from Feb. 28 - April 10. Check out this flyer for the details. 

Join us for our parish Lenten retreat on Tuesday, March 10!

We are welcoming our guest speaker Fr. Milos Vesin who will discus Orthodox Worshiop and Spirituality. Get more details here

2020 Calendar of Events

Click here for a calendar of major dates and events throughout 2020.

Valentine Party is Saturday, Feb. 15

Click here to see our flyer for more details. 

Мир Божији Христос се роди!

Срећан Празник Рођења Христа Спаситеља и Нова 2020 година!

Peace of God  Christ is Born!

Blessed Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and a happy New Year!

See you in church for the Nativity services.

Join us for blessing of badnjak Jan. 6

On January 6 after the Vigil Service in church, we will have a blessing of the badnjak (Yule Log) in the social hall and refreshments for all who attend. Please encourage your family and friends to come even if they don't belong to our church. This is a chance for us to invite and bring a non-Orthodox to our church services and show them how we celebrate the Birth of our Savior.   The Culture Club and children will decorate the badnjak on Sunday, January 5 after the services. Fr. Alex and John Dauer cut the badnjak on John's property. Badnje Vece is a church event and we would appreciate if you can bring a posno snack, salad, or dessert to the hall to share for the evening celebration. Please bring your food in a disposable container or one you can take home with you.  This can be dropped off at the hall prior to the 6pm Vigil Service. We will also need help with setup and ask that EVERYONE help with cleanup after the event. Please see Sue Kljaich to offer your help.

Feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
December 6 /19 - Feast of St Nicholas the Wonderworker
 
Blessed Krsna slava to all who celebrate! Srecna Slava!
 
Services at St. George Church:
 
Wednesday, December 18 - Vespers and confession at 6 p.m.
 
Thursday, Decemebr 19 - Divine Liturgy at 9 a.m., blessing of slava kolac and koljivo after the liturgy.
 
 
Kolo Christmas luch is Dec. 29
Serbian Cooking Class POSTPONED

The Serbian Cooking Class previously scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 17 is POSTPONED: The Serbian cooking class that was schduled for Nov 17 will be postponed. We will plan a Lenten cooking class in December and schedule another cooking class in February. Dates and further information will be provided very soon. We apologize for  any inconvenience.

Please visit our bookstore

Please visit our bookstore in lower level of church to purchase your Orthodox Christmas and other occasions cards, books, ikons, incense and other Orthodox giftsPlease see Nancy Cora if you need help or have questions about the store.

Attention Amazon shoppers!

Attention Amazon shoppers - You can now shop at AmazonSmile to support St George SOC Joliet. The direct link is https://smile.amazon.com/ch/83-0599738, or just go to AmazonSmile and add St George as your charity. Support us every time you shop. Amazon will donate 0.05% of the purchase price on eligible products to St George SOC.

Reminder: The end of year is coming up

Reminder: The end of the year is coming up. Please make sure you are up to date with your financial obligations to St George Church. Please consider the extra expenses we had this year including painting the classrooms, new carpeting and leaks on church roof that had to be repaired as well as other expenses/bills that have to be paid. Orthodox Christian stewardship is a way of life which acknowledges accountability, reverence, and responsibility before God. A primary goal of Stewardship is to promote spiritual growth and strengthen faith. How much you are involved in Church life and donate - returning to God what He has blessed you with will be the sign of how spiritual and strong an Orthodox Christian you are.

+Sam (Sava) Konjevich

+Sam (Sava) Konjevich entered into his rest on October 16, 2019 in Rushville, IL. He was a lifelong and very active member of St. George Serbian Orthodox church in Joliet. May Sam's memory be eternal.

Services:

  • Tuesday, October 22, visitation will be at Tezak Funeral Home in Joliet, IL from 4 pm to 8 pm with pomen service at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 23, funeral service - opelo at 10 a.m. in St George Serbian Orthodox church in Joliet, IL, interment in Woodlawn cemetery in Joliet.

Our deepest condolences to +Sam's family, friends and kumovi. Vjecnaja Pamjat.

 

Join us for our Fall Party Sunday, Oct. 20

Our Fall Party is Sunday, Oct. 20, following Divine Liturgy. Join us at the St. George Hall, upper level – see this flyer for more info, hope to see you there!

Choir Concert and Zabava Nov. 2

Be there Saturday, Nov. 2 as we are joined by our honored guest choir S.S.S. St. George along with the St. George Folkore Group of Lenexa (Kansas City), Kansas at the lower level of the St. George Social Center , 310 Stryker Avenue, Joliet, IL 60436. Read more here

Upcoming St. George Cultural Club events this fall

The St. George Cultural Club is planniing a fall party for kids and all parishioners on Oct. 20, and a Serbian cooking class Nov. 17. Read more here

CHURCH SCHOOL BEGINS SEPT. 8

St. George Church School will begin on Sunday, Sept. 8.

After the liturgy there will be a service of the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the teachers and students followed by an introduction class in church.

Church school classes will be every Sunday, unless it is previously cancelled, after holy communion. Church school children should take holy communion regularly and confession monthly.

The classrooms are going to be painted and carpeted in late August and September therefore some classes will be held in the hall, lower level.

  • Register your child for our Church School Program.
  • Bring them to Church on time.
  • Stay and worship at the Divine Liturgy in the Church.
  • Be positive about Church.
  • Discuss with them what they learned each Sunday.
  • Teach your children Christian living through your own actions.
  • Emphasize regular repentance and Holy Communion.
  • Put Church before every other activity on Sunday.
  • Avoid criticism of others.
  • Let your love for Our Lord Jesus Christ radiate.

Plan to bring your child/children to the culture classes during the weekdays as this is an extension of our church school. Parents and parishioners are welcome to participate in the culture classes which consist of basic Serbian language, basic Serbian history and geography, songs and folklore. Please let Fr Alex know if you are willing to help / teach any of the mentioned activities.

Parents mark your calendar for Sunday, Sept,. 25 after the kolo sestara slava lunch or Sunday, Sept. 1 after the liturgy to have parents / priest meeting.

For more info, please talk or call Fr Alex or Gayle Shimek.

 

Kolo Sestara slava celebration Aug. 25

Please join us for the Kolo Sestara slava celebration the Dormition of the Theotokos on Sunday, August 25, 2019. The Divine Liturgy at 10 am and parastos for all reposed sisters after the liturgy.

Blessing of slava kolac in hall and dinner. Please bring your family and friends.

Svi ste pozvani na proslavu slave kola sestara Uspenije Presvete Bogorodice u nedelju 25 avgusta, 2019. Posle Svete Liturgije ce biti sluzen parastos za sve upokojene clanice kola sestara. Blagoslov slavskog kolaca I u nastavku rucak u sali. Pozovite vase prijetelje I familiju.

 

Time change for Divine Liturgy on July 21

Please remember the Divine Liturgy this coming Sunday, July 21 will start at 9 a.m. instead of the regular time at 10 a.m. The reason for starting the liturgy earlier is our Serb Fest which will be this Sunday at St. Joseph park in Joliet from 12 noon to 9 p.m.

Please offer your help if you have not so far. St. George Church need your help and support!

Invite your friends and neighbors to come and enjoy Serbian food and fellowship.

 

Join us for Serbfest July 21!

Serbfest 2019 will be on Sunday, July 21 at St. Joe’s Park, 700 Theodore Street,Joliet, Illinois Get all the details here

Lifeline Banquet is June 14
RSVP for June 14 Three Kolos Lifeline Banquet

The Three Kolos Lifeline Banguet is June 14. Please see this invitation and RSVP. 

Slava celebration is May 5
Join us for our Slava celebration Sunday, May 5!

On Sunday, May 5 we celebrate the feast of our patron saint, St. George. Get the details here.

Holy Week Services
Holy Week Services, 2019

Click here for our schedule of Holy Week services. 

Lenten Retreat
Lenten Retreat Tuesday, April 2

Join us for a Lenten Retreat on Tuesday, April 2. Vespers at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and presentation by Heiromok Alexii Altschul in the social hall at 7 p.m. Read more 

Schedule of Lenten Services

Be sure to attend as many services as you an during this Lenten season. Here is a printable Schedule of our Lenten services for 2019

Lenten Fish Fries
Lenten Fish Fries

Our Lenten Fish Fries begin Ash Wednesday, March 6, and continue every Friday through April 19. See the flyer for details

Prayer of repentance

On each of the three Sundays before Lent, the church brings before us a plea for repentance, set to sacred music. Here are the words of that prayer. From the Matins of Publican and Pharisee, Lenten Triodion:

Glory...,

The gates of repentance, do Thou open unto me, O Giver of Life,  for early in the morning my spirit seeketh Thy holy temple, bearing the temple of my body all defiled. But as One who art compassionate cleanse it by Thy loving-kindness and mercy.  

Both now...,

Guide me on the paths of salvation, O Theotokos, for I have polluted my soul with shameful deeds, and wasted all my life in slothfulness. But by thine intercessions do thou deliver me from all impurity.  

In Tone VI: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy great mercy:  and according to the multitude of Thy compassion  blot out my transgressions. 
As I the wretched one ponder the multitude of evil deeds I have done, I tremble for fear of the dread day of judgment. But trusting in Thy compassionate mercy, like David do I cry unto Thee: 'Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy great mercy'.

Wednesdays during Great Lent

Every Wednesday evening during Great Lent, we will have religious discussions in one of the classrooms beneath the church. If the liturgy is in the evening, the discussion will be after the liturgy at approximately 7 p.m. When the liturgy is in the morning, a religious discussion will start at 6:30 p.m. If you have any questions about the Bible, our practices, Orthodox faith, prayer, or other topics, please tell Fr. Aleksandar, and we will have it as a topic of our discussion. If you wish you may bring fruit, pastry and/or other posno snacks especially after evening Liturgy.

Fasting before Presanctified Liturgy

When the Presanctified Liturgy is served in the evening, those who will partake of Holy Communion should fast from 12 p.m. (noon) until receiving communion. For those who can physically endure an all-day total fast, please do so.

Bowling party and potluck meal Sunday, March 3

The Cultural Club is sponsoring a bowling party and potluck meal on Sunday, March 3. For students of the church school, admission and shoes will be paid by culture club. Parents, friends of culture club and parishioners are invited to join us. Sign up in lower level of the church.

Shop at St. George the Great Martyr Bookstore

Throughout the Western and Eastern Christmas Seasons, please shop at our St. George the Great Martyr Bookstore (located in the lower level of our church) for hostess gifts, stocking-stuffers, and other lovely and meaningful gifts. Proceeds from the bookstore benefit our Church School children with Orthodox and faith-based gifts at Christmas, Easter and other occasions, and help defray costs of activities.

Church Calendar vs. Julian Calendar

Occasionally, we see dates in religious books, bulletin or calendars like June 4 / 17 or September 1 /14 and we may get confused about why we have two dates. The first number is the church calendar date and the second is the date according to our old Julian calendar, which is always 13 days behind. The celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ is December 25 /January 7. This means the church calendar states the Nativity of Christ is December 25, which is true but for us who follow the Julian calendar December 25 is actually January 7, again because we are 13 days behind.


Today's Readings

St. George Serbian Orthodox Church