O God Almighty, LORD of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in Your ineffable goodness, look down upon us, Your people gathered in Your Holy Name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. You know our weakness. You hear our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O LORD who love mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the Corona Virus. Send Your angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians and preserve those who are healthy. Enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we may glorify Your most honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
What’s next? This is a question I’ve asked myself many times in the past week or so, and I know you all are asking it too.
When it comes to our day-to-day lives, I can’t add any more than what we hear from the CDC and government officials: closing schools and stores, “social distancing” and the rest. But what about our spiritual lives, especially now that our church is closed? In a very real sense, this is a much more difficult situation.
Under normal circumstances, church services are the center and foundation of our spiritual lives. For many of us, church is the place – sometimes the only place – we go to pray and that’s been taken away from us. And we don’t know when we’ll get it back! This year, we have to do it all ourselves. So here are a few recommendations.
Every morning, every evening and at meal times, say your prayers. Even if you’ve never done it before, do it now!
Say the Jesus Prayer occasionally throughout the day. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Read the Bible. The website of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA.org) provides a link to each day’s scripture readings on its home page.
Keep the Fast as best you can, again even if you’ve never done it before, do it now!
Listen to or watch Orthodox church services online. I’ve seen links to churches streaming their services all over Facebook and other places on the internet. Again, check OCA.org for possible links.
Reach out to your friends, fellow parishioners and neighbors, and ask if there’s anything you can do for them. This is especially important for those who might be isolated and alone.
Most important (and sometimes most difficult) don’t despair! With God’s help and the support we can give each other, we will make it through!
With love in Christ, Father Dennis
Message from Metropolitan Tikhon
Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops
The Diocese of The South
Great Lent begins Monday, March 2nd.We will have Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday nights on March 4th, 11th and 18th@ 7:00pm. Great Lent is the 40-day season of spiritual preparation that comes before the most important Feast of the Christian year, Holy Pascha (which means “Passover” and is commonly called “Easter”,). It is the central part of a larger time of preparation called the Triodion season.
Beginning of Great Lent 2020 Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
To the Venerable Clergy, Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
My beloved children in the Lord,
With an abundance of love, I greet you in the Name of the Lord as we begin the Holy Forty Days. We undertake this Lenten journey, not as some annual routine to look dour or lament the loss of foods or activities, but to renew our faith, refresh our lives, and become reoriented to our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.
Sundays of Lent.Each of the Sundays of Great Lent has its own special theme. The first Sunday is called the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. It is a historical feast commemorating the return of the icons to the churches in the year 843 after the heresy of iconoclasm was overcome. The spiritual theme of the day is first of all the victory of the True Faith. “This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5.4). Secondly, the icons of the saints bear witness that man, “created in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1.26), becomes holy and godlike through the purification of himself as God’s living image.
Lenten Fasting. A special word must be said about fasting during lent. Generally speaking, fasting is an essential element of the Christian life. Christ fasted and taught men to fast. Blessed fasting is done in secret, without ostentation or accusation of others (Mt 6.16; Rom 14). It has as its goal the purification of our lives, the liberation of our souls and bodies from sin, the strengthening of our human powers of love for God and man, the enlightening of our entire being for communion with the Blessed Trinity.
Presanctified Liturgy Wednesday evenings @ 7:00 pm followed by Lenten Potluck dinner.
Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
As we already have seen, the eucharistic Divine Liturgy is not celebrated in the Orthodox Church on lenten weekdays. In order for the faithful to sustain their lenten effort by participation in Holy Communion, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served. The service is an ancient one in the Orthodox Church. We officially hear about it in the canons of the seventh century, which obviously indicates its development at a much earlier date.
The feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary comes nine months before Christmas on the twenty-fifth of March. It is the celebration of the announcing of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Luke.
April 12th - Palm Sunday Divine Liturgy, - 10:00amThe week following the Sunday of Saint Mary of Egyptis called Palm or Branch Week. At the Tuesday services of this week the Church recalls that Jesus’ friend Lazarus has died and that the Lord is going to raise him from the dead (Jn 11). As the days continue toward Saturday, the Church, in its hymns and verses, continues to follow Christ towards Bethany to the tomb of Lazarus. On Friday evening, the eve of the celebration of the Resurrection of Lazarus, the “great and saving forty days” of Great Lent are formally brought to an end:
Having accomplished the forty days for the benefit of our souls, we pray to Thee, O Lover of Man, that we may see the holy week of Thy passion, that in it we may glorify Thy greatness and Thine unspeakable plan of salvation for our sake . . . (Vespers Hymn).
The mystery of holy unction provides both physical and spiritual healing with holy oil blessed by the Holy Spirit. It is most commonly celebrated during Holy Week on Holy Wednesday evening, but private services are also common. Everyone in the parish in good ecclesiastical standing may be anointed with the holy oil for the healing of spiritual and bodily ills. As this is one of the sacraments of the Orthodox Church, it may be administered only to Orthodox Christians.
Great and Holy Friday begins with reading of the Royal Hours leading up to Vespers of Friday afternoon, at which time the removal of the Body of Christ from the Cross is commemorated. The priest removes the Body of Christ, the Epitaphios, from the Cross, wraps it in a white cloth and carries it into the altar. In an evening service, called the Lamentations at the Tomb, the priest carries the Epitaphios, the painted or embroidered cloth representation of Christ, from the altar around the church before placing it in the Sepulcher, a bier symbolizing the Tomb of Christ. This procession, with the faithful carrying lighted candles, represents Christ's descent into Hades.
Saturday, April 18th - Liturgy - 10:00am
Pascha(Saturday evening), April 18th - Matins/Nocturne/Liturgy beginning at 11:30pm
Great and Holy Saturday Vespers and a Matins/Nocturne Divine Liturgy are served, marked with readings of Psalms and Resurrection hymns that tell of Christ's descent into Hades, celebrated as the "First Resurrection" of Adam and the conquering of Death. It is appointed by the typikon to be celebrated in the afternoon, though it is served in the morning in many places.
This service comes from the ancient liturgical tradition of the Church of Constantinople and was its primary Paschal service. The hymn "Arise O God" from the Psalms was the original primary Paschal hymn before "Christ is risen" came to take its place. Its place as the ancient Constantinopolitan Paschal celebration is what gives the service such a bright and resurrectional character.
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