On November 12 4 new members were brought into our holy parish.
We also sang “Many Years!” to some of our veterans.
Congratulations to our new members and thank you for your service to our veterans!
On November 12 4 new members were brought into our holy parish.
We also sang “Many Years!” to some of our veterans.
Congratulations to our new members and thank you for your service to our veterans!
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
To the beloved Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America
God is wondrous in His Saints
November 8, 2023
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America has heard the petition of The Right Reverend ALEXEI, Bishop of Sitka and Alaska, expressed in his November 2, 2023 letter to His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, concerning the glorification of the Servant of God, the Righteous Matushka Olga.
In this letter, His Grace Bishop ALEXEI states: “I am writing to Your Beatitude with respect to the departed handmaiden of God and faithful Orthodox Christian, Matushka Olga Nicholai of Kwethluk, known by the pious peoples of the Kuskokwim as Arrsamquq. Her humility, her generosity, her piety, her patience, and her selfless love for God and neighbor were well-known in the Kuskokwim villages during her earthly life. Her care for comforting the suffering and the grieving has also been revealed after her life by grace-filled manifestations to the faithful throughout not only Alaska, but all of North America. The first peoples of Alaska are convinced of her sanctity and the great efficacy of her prayers. For this reason, after prayerful consideration, I, Alexei, Bishop of Sitka and Alaska, am hereby making the formal request to Your Beatitude as the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America to begin the process that, if it be in accord with God’s will, would lead to her glorification.”
The Holy Synod, having prayerfully reflected upon this petition and having observed and acknowledged the sincere devotion among the faithful of Alaska and beyond, has unanimously determined that the time for the glorification of Matushka Olga has arrived, fulfilling the hopes and prayers of pious Orthodox Christians throughout Alaska and the entire world.
THEREFORE, meeting in Solemn Assembly in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois, under the Presidency of The Most Blessed TIKHON, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada, We, the Members of The Holy Synod of The Orthodox Church in America, do hereby decide and decree that the ever-memorable Servant of God MATUSHKA OLGA be numbered among the saints. With one mind and one heart, we also resolve that her honorable remains be considered as holy relics; that a special service be composed in her honor; that her feast be celebrated on November 10 (October 28, old style) on the Feast of All Saints of North America, the Second Sunday after Pentecost; that holy icons be prepared to honor the newly-glorified saint in accordance with the Canons of the Sacred Ecumenical and Regional Councils; that her life be published for the edification of the Faithful, that the name of the new saint be communicated to the Primates of all Sister Churches for inclusion in their calendars; and that the date and location of the Rite of Glorification be communicated to the Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of our Church in due time.
FURTHER, we entrust to the Canonization Commission of The Orthodox Church in America, under the Chairmanship of The Most Reverend DANIEL, Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest, with the honorable task of assisting The Right Reverend ALEXEI, Bishop of Sitka and Alaska, in preparing for the celebration of the glorification by providing an authorized Life of Matushka Olga for the education and edification of the Faithful, with overseeing the painting of holy icons of her, in keeping with the canonical iconographical tradition of the Church, with the composition of liturgical texts to be sung at the Divine Services in which she will be commemorated, and with assisting in the uncovering and recognition of her holy relics, and in promoting her veneration among all the Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of our Church.
We call upon the faithful to remember Matushka Olga at Memorial Services or Litanies for the Departed when appropriate until the day of her glorification.
Through the prayers of Matushka Olga and of all the Saints who have shone forth in North America, may the Lord grant His mercies and blessings to all who seek her heavenly intercession with faith and love. Amen.
Holy Mother Olga, pray to God for us!
Given at Holy Trinity Cathedral, this 8th day of November, in the Year of Our Lord, 2023.
PROCLAMATION OF THE HOLY SYNOD OF BISHOPS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA ON THE GLORIFICATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS SERVANT OF GOD MATUSHKA OLGA
The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America.
Nativity Fast Begins
Sundays of Advent: Planting the Seeds for the New Covenant
Fr. Michael Massouh
Published in the 2020 November/December edition of The WORD Magazine
Unlike Great Lent, the Advent Season stands without additional weekday services or Sunday remembrances that would help us keep the fast for the forty days and help prepare us for Christ’s birth. I have always been disturbed that the Church has not responded to this lacuna, that is, until this year.
When I read Archimandrite Vassilios Papavasiliou’s Meditations for Advent: Preparing for Christ’s Birth, I began to see connections I had missed. He brings together readings from Scripture, including the Odes of the Old Testament, the seasonal troparia from the Compline Service and Vespers, writings from the Fathers, and other sources, to flesh out the Nativity Season. As I began to prepare Sunday Sermons, too, I discovered that the Epistle and Gospel readings focus on one of the reasons Christ came to dwell among us. We are all familiar with His coming to defeat death and the Devil, and to re-open the Gates of Paradise for us. He also came to inaugurate the New Covenant, and the readings of the Sundays of Advent make this quite clear.
In these readings, we are reminded that Christ publicly challenged the Jewish leadership’s focus on the Law – the Old Covenant. As He says at one point, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13). Throughout His public ministry, He purposefully performs acts that upset them to the point – as we know – that they ultimately seek His crucifixion.
The Epistle readings vary from year to year, but usually for the first Sunday of Advent it is from St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, in which he warns them that the Jewish leadership “would compel you to be circumcised,” even though “not even those who are circumcised keep the law” (Galatians 6:12-13). So, why keep the Law? Christ is preparing them and us for something new.
On the second Sunday, St Paul writes to the Ephesians “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the tyranny of men” (Ephesians 4:14). Rather, we should stand fast to Christ’s teachings. The men of tyranny to which Paul refers were the Jewish leaders who adhered strictly to the Law as they interpreted it.
The Gospel lessons for the first two Sundays of Advent appear to have no relation to the season. The first is the story of the Foolish Rich Man, who would tear down his barns and build bigger ones to house the windfall that came from God (Luke 12:16-21). The second deals with the Rich Young Man seeking eternal life (Luke 18:18-27). Christ calls the first one a “fool” and depicts God asking for his soul that very night. He tells the second one to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and then come and follow Him. Christ’s message to them and to us is to use one’s wealth to help others, and not to spend it exclusively for one’s own benefit. We are to do the same with the gifts God has given us, as did the early Christians. We learn in the Book of Acts that they pooled their resources and gave to others as they had need (Acts 2:42-47). Almsgiving is one of the things we do during a fast.
On the third Sunday of Advent we read again from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians that Christ came to break down “the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments [that is, the Torah], so as to create in Himself one new man from the two [Gentile and Jew], thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14). Clearly, Paul endorses Christ’s replacing the “law of commandments” which applied exclusively to the Jews, and the bestowal of God’s grace on all humanity. Further, he states that Christ came first to reconcile the estranged Jews to God and then to reconcile the Jews to the Gentiles, so that there is no longer Jew nor Greek, master nor slave, male nor female, because all are one under Jesus Christ, making clear that the New Covenant is for everyone (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11).
The fourth Sunday’s reading from Ephesians emphasizes the message of the New Covenant that “There is one body and one Spirit… one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” [Eph 4:4-6] In other words, we are all one in Jesus Christ. No one is superior to another, no one is shunted aside, no one is without God’s grace. This is a consequence of the New Covenant.
The theme of establishing a New Covenant continues throughout Advent. On the third Sunday we read in Luke’s gospel about Jesus healing on the Sabbath a woman bent over for eighteen years. Here is one example of Jesus confronting the leaders of a synagogue directly who myopically hold to the Old Testament Laws. Indeed, they are indignant that anyone should do “work” on the Sabbath, and proclaim that there are six days to do work; the Sabbath is a day of rest. Jesus answers them forcefully. “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound – think of it – for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” His reply put “all His adversaries to shame; and the multitude rejoiced.” [Luke 13:10-17]
Clearly, we are reminded during the Advent season that Jesus challenged the Old Covenant many times because He was laying the foundation for the New.
The fourth Sunday’s Gospel from Luke tells the story of Jesus at a home of a Pharisee who had invited Him to dine (14:16-24). Jesus tells a parable that cannot be misunderstood. A certain man gave a great supper and invited many. But one after the other made excuses for not attending: one bought a piece of land, one bought five yoke of oxen, another just got married. When the man’s servant reported these things to the master, the master became angry and told the servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.” When this was done there was still room for more. “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” In this parable, those invited were the Chosen People, but some of them refused to attend. Jesus reminded the Jewish leaders that the Chosen People had not lived up to their end of the covenant that God had made with them. Now God would find others to come into His Kingdom. In Matthew’s account of this parable Christ’s message was very clear to the Pharisees who had gathered to dine with Him: they then “went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk” (Matthew 22:1-15). (See also the Pharisee’s reaction when He dined with them at another time, in Luke 11:53-54.)
God’s attempt to reach His chosen people over the centuries, by sending prophets to admonish them and to remind them of God’s blessings, had not worked. By the time of the Prophet Jeremiah about the Seventh Century, B.C., God decided to establish a New Covenant, as He told Jeremiah:
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
God made it clear to Jeremiah that the New Covenant He would inaugurate would supersede the Old. The Old would be replaced and no longer apply. Paul stresses this point in Galatians: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But, after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25).
On the Sunday before the Nativity we read the human genealogy of Jesus Christ, to show that Jesus had an earthly ancestry. He did not appear out of nowhere. He came to fulfill the promise to Abraham, to David, and to others. “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (Hebrew 11:39-41). The promise was that we should see the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, the one we are preparing to meet at His Nativity.
Paul reminds us that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived before the Law was handed down to Moses. We can return to the time of the Patriarchs: Noah, Melchizedek, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The New Covenant ushered in a new world; one that we are struggling to experience.
The Scriptural readings for the Nativity season therefore do have a focus. They orient us to one of the reasons God gave His only begotten Son, that is, to establish a New Covenant between Himself and all those who would believe in His Son, from every tribe and nation. We will all know Him in our hearts if we allow Him to enter.
What a gift! What a beneficent God! What a joy to be connected to the Immortal One!
Sadly, there are as yet no weekday services during Advent. We do, however, possess these Scriptural readings that give us one of the reasons for Christ’s Nativity.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Here are the basic guidelines for the fast.
Please remember that the Fast of the Holy Nativity or the Advent Fast will commence on November 15 and continue until the Feast (December 25). This fasting period is ordained by the Holy Church in order to prepare for the Holy Nativity of Our Lord.
The particulars of the fast are as follows: During the first 28 days of the Fast, from November 15 to December 13 all meat products and dairy products are forbidden.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, of course, olive oil, wine, all alcoholic beverages and fish are also forbidden as on most Wednesdays and Fridays during the year.
Please remember to increase your prayer life, read more scripture and spiritual books, especially the lives of the saints. A little less television, no anger, no gossip, no laziness, and let’s try to avoid the pre-Christmas parties. If we prepare in this way, God will bless us, and we will find the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord to be far more spiritually rewarding than ever before.
Join us on Wednesday at 6 pm for Vespers for The Cross and on Thursday at 9 am
for the Divine Liturgy for this glorious feast.
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.”
Thursday 6 pm-Great Vespers for the Feast with Litia
Friday 9 am-Divine Liturgy for The Nativity of The Theotokos
Please join us!
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.