“Keep thy mind in hell and despair not” St Silouan

Tuesday
Oct042011

Newsletter 7 – Sunday, 4th September 2011

Afterfeast of the Dormition

Troparion of the Sunday, Tone III
Let the heavens rejoice, / let the earth be glad! / For the Lord has shown might with His arm,/ He has trampled down death by death. / He has become the first-born of the dead. / He has delivered us from the depths of hell, / and has granted the world great mercy!

Troparion of the Dormition, Tone I
In giving birth, O Mother of God, thou hast kept thy virginity, / and in falling asleep thou hast not for-saken the world. /Thou, O Mother of Life,  /  hast passed over into life, // and by thy prayers thou dost save our souls from death.

Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone III
On this day Thou didst rise from the tomb, O Merciful One, / leading us from the gates of death. / On this day Adam exults as Eve rejoices; / with the prophets and patriarchs they unceasingly praise / the divine majesty of Thy power!

Kontakion of the Dormition, Tone II
Neither the tomb nor death  /  had power over the Mother of God,   /  who is ever watchful in her prayers and in whose intercessions lies unfailing hope.  /   For as the Mother of Life, she has been transported into life   //  by Him Who dwelt within her ever-virgin womb.

Epistle 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve.

After that, He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that,He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Gospel Matthew 19:16-26
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”. So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No-one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments”.

He said to Him, “Which ones?”. Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder’, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, ‘You shall not steal’, ‘You shall not bear false witness’, ‘Honour your father and your mother’, and, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’.”

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”. Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me”. 

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.

When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”. But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”.

Calendar for September
●     Thursday 8th September:
Meeting of the Vladimir icon of the Most Holy Mother of God (feast established to commemorate the deliverance of Moscow from invasion by Tamerlaine in 1395)●     Sunday 11th September: THE BEHEADING OF THE HOLY GLORIOUS PROPHET, FORERUNNER, JOHN, BAPTIST OF THE LORD
●     Wednesday 14th September:
BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH YEAR
●     Sunday 18th September:
Holy Prophet Zachariah and Righteous Elizabeth, parents of John the Forerunner●     Wednesday 21st September: THE NATIVITY OF OUR MOST HOLY LADY, THE MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN, MARY
●     Saturday 24th September: VENERABLE SILOUAN OF MOUNT ATHOS
(1938) (parish patronal feast to take place on Sunday 25th September)
●     Tuesday 27th September: THE UNIVERSAL EXALTATION OF THE PRECIOUS AND LIFEGIVING CROSS.
Repose of St John Chrysostom (407).

Times of the next Liturgies
●     PATRONAL FEAST DAY:  SUNDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER. Hours and confessions 10.30 Liturgy 11.00
●     Sunday 9th October
●     Sunday 6th November

Parish news
Many congratulations to Ben and Evelina Dee-Shapland who had their fourth child on Sunday 28th August. Welcome to Daniel Nicholas Arthur Dee-Shapland, a younger brother for Sofia, Catherine and Alexander. Mnogaya Leta!

The  Dormition of the Mother of God 
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. 

The  Feast  of the Dormition of the Mother of God - which combines two events:  Her death and Her resurrection in the body on the third day - has  been  for  centuries,  indeed,  from  the  very  beginning of the existence  of  the  Russian  Orthodox  Church  its Feast, its joy, its glory. 

The   Mother  of  God  has  not  been  a  passive  instrument  of  the Incarnation;  without  Her  'Amen'  the Incarnation would have been as impossible  as  without  the  will  of God. She is the response of the whole  creation  to  God's  love and to God's gift of self not only to mankind  but  to  the  whole  Cosmos  He  has  created. And in that we rejoice,  because  Her  word is our word. Her word was perfect, as Her trust was, Her faith was, Her gift of self was. Ours is imperfect, and yet  our  voices resound within Hers, weakly, hesitantly at times, but with faith and also with love.

She  is  the  glory of all Creation; the Mother of God: one might have expected  that  death could not touch Her; but if death and a death so cruel  could touch Her Divine Son, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, the  Son  of  God  and  the  Son of man - of course She had to pay the tribute of all the earth to the sin of man and also die. But according to  Orthodox  Tradition,  death  could  not keep Her prisoner. She had given Herself unreservedly and perfectly to God, and it was to God, no longer  to the earth that She belonged. And on the third day, when the Apostles  came  and  reopened  Her grave for one of them to be able to venerate  Her,  who  had  not been present at Her burial, it was found empty:  She  had  risen because the bonds of death could not hold Her, and  corruption  could not touch a body which had been the body of the Incarnation. What a wonderful joy to think that now, side by side with the risen and ascended Christ, one of us, of mankind, a woman of flesh and  blood is enthroned and in Her we can see the glory which will, we believe, be ours if we are faithful to God as She was. 

So,  let  us  rejoice,  and  not  only  here where our church has been dedicated  since the early eighteenth century to the Assumption of the Mother  of  God,  to Her Dormition, but with the whole Russian Church, and with all those who belong to it and are scattered over the face of the  world,  one  with  the Mother Church, one with the Mother of God, worshipping  the  Lord  with  all there is in us and seeing in Her the image of the whole Creation in adoration before the Living God. Amen.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh 

Sunday, 28th August 1986.

Sunday
Aug142011

Newsletter 6 – Sunday, 7 August 2011

8th Sunday after Pentecost

Troparion of the Sunday, Tone VII

By Thy Cross, Thou didst destroy death! / To the thief, Thou didst open Paradise! / For the myrrhbearers, Thou didst change weeping into joy! / And Thou didst command Thy disciples, O Christ God, / to proclaim that Thou art risen, / granting the world great mercy!

Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone VII
The dominion of death / can no longer hold men captive, / for Christ descended, shattering and destroying its powers! / Hell is bound, while the prophets rejoice and cry: /”The Savior has come to those in faith! / Enter, you faithful, into the Resurrection!

Epistle 1 Corinthians 1: 10-18

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement.
    For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.
    Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul” or “I am of Apollos” or “I am of Cephas” or “I am of Christ”. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptised in the name of Paul?
    I thank God that I baptised none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptised in my own name. Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptised any other.
    For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Gospel Matthew 14: 14-22
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
    When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food”.
    But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat”. And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish”. He said, “Bring them here to me”. Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.
    So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

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Calendar for August
Sunday 7th August:  Dormition of the Righteous Anna, Mother of the Most Holy Mother of God
Tuesday 9th August: Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon (305)
Wednesday 10th August: Smolensk icon of God “Hodigitria” (“She who Shows the Way”)
Sunday 14th August: Procession of the Precious Wood of the Lifegiving Cross of the Lord. Beginning of the Dormition Fast
Friday 19th August: THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD GOD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST
Sunday 28th August: THE DORMITION OF OUR MOST HOLY LADY, THE MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN, MARY
Monday 29th August: Translation of the Icon “Image not made with hands” of Our Lord Jesus Christ from Edessa to Constantinople (944)


Times of next Liturgies
Sunday 4th September
Sunday 25th September: PARISH PATRONAL FEAST OF ST SILOUAN OF MOUNT ATHOS


Parish News
I am happy to inform you that we are having a large icon of St Silouan painted at the Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex. Hopefully, it will be ready in time for our patronal feast in September.  We welcome donations towards the cost of the icon and will have a special collection fro this at the next two services.

Fr Joseph


Christ's miracles

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

We constantly read about Christ's miracles in the Holy Gospels, and we
ask  ourselves,  "why  is  it  that such things were possible in those
days,  and  yet  we see so few miracles in our own day?" I think there
are three possible answers.

The first is that we do not see the miracles that surround us, we take
everything for granted, as completely natural. We receive all the good
things  from  the  hand  of  God as though they were normal, and we no
longer  see  that life is a wonderful, joyful miracle, that God wanted
to  create  us, that He called us from non-being into being, laid open
before  us  the whole miracle of existence. Nor did He confine Himself
to  this.  He  called  us to be His friends for ever, everlastingly to
live the eternal, divine life. He revealed Himself to us; we know that
He is, we know Him in Christ as the God whose love did not falter even
in  the  face  of  His own death which was to save those He loves. And
what  about  those  miracles  that  are  even less obvious to us, like
health,  like  peace,  like  friendship,  like love? They are all pure
miracles  —  you  cannot buy them, you cannot force anyone to give you
his heart; and yet all around us there are so many hearts open to each
other,  so  much  friendship, so much love. And our physical existence
which we consider so natural — is not that a miracle?

That  is the first point that I wanted to make: that the whole of life
is  a  miracle.  I know, of course, that there is much, very much pain
and  horror  in  it,  but at the same time such a quiet yet unwavering
light  shines  in the darkness: if only we could believe in the light,
and so become children of light, as Christ says, the bearers of light?

There  are  two more remarks I should like to make. Today we read that
the people were in need, that the apostles noticed this need and spoke
to  the  Lord about it. And the Lord said: "It is up to you to relieve
this  need,  to  feed these hungry people". "How?" they said, "we have
only  two fishes and five loaves, can that possibly be enough for such
a  crowd?"  And  Christ blessed those fish and those loaves and it was
enough for the crowd.

So  what  is  expected  of  us  in  order  that God can freely, by His
sovereign  power,  perform  heavenly miracles on earth? First, that we
should  notice  someone else's need. So often we pass by it and do not
open  the  door  to  God to allow Him to enter and do that which it is
impossible  for  us  to  do.  Let us open our eyes in order to see the
needs  of  the  people around us — material, psychological, spiritual;
the loneliness and longing and countless other needs.

And  another  thing  that  the Lord urges upon His disciples is, "give
everything  that you have, and we shall be able to feed them all." The
disciples did not leave aside some fish and some bread for themselves,
they  gave  it  all to the Lord. And because they gave everything, the
Kingdom  of  God,  the  kingdom of love, the kingdom where God can act
freely  and untrammelled, was established and all were satisfied. This
call  is  addressed to us also: when we see want, let us give all, and
all will be well.

Now  a final remark: when the paralytic about whom we read a few weeks
ago was brought to Christ He saw the people's faith and cured the sick
man.  We  can  supply the faith that is lacking in those around us, we
can  carry  them  on  our  faith  as  on a stretcher. But faith is not
enough; in the case of the paralytic there was not only the faith that
the  Lord  could heal him, but there was caring love for the sick man.
If  only  there were such love amongst us the beginning of the Kingdom
of  God  would  already be established in our midst, and God could act
freely.

Let  us consider this, for every one of God's miracles was introduced,
and  so  to speak conditioned, by the participation of man. It depends
on  us  that  the  Kingdom  which  we  pray  and  long  for  should be
established  on  earth,  that  Kingdom which we are called on to build
together with God and in His name. Amen.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.

20 July 1980

Sunday
Jul312011

Newsletter 5 – Sunday, 3 July 2011

3rd Sunday after Pentecost:
Sunday of the Saints of these Isles

Troparion of the Sunday, Tone 2
When Thou didst descend to death, O Life immortal, / Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy godhead! / And when from the depths Thou didst raise the dead, / all the powers of heaven cried out: / O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory to Thee!

Troparion of the Sunday of the Saints of These Isles, Tone 4

Ye enlighteners and teachers of these Northern isles, who have shed the light of the Truth of God abroad in the land, pray for us unto Him, we beseech you, that He will have  mercy on us and teach us in singleness of heart to glorify Him.

Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone 2
Hell became afraid, O Almighty Savior, / seeing the miracle of Thy Resurrection from the tomb! / The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with Thee! / And the world, O my Savior, praises Thee forever.

Kontakion of the Saints of Britain and Ireland, Tone 3
Saints of God, ye Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins and Confessors, all ye who have illumined the land with the bright beams of the Truth of God/ Fearless in the face of death/ Spurning earthly kingdoms ad their glory for the love of Christ/ And witnessing to the Apostles’ tradition of faith/ May your prayers for us be heard on high/ That, following your example and upheld by the mercy of God/ We may praise and serve Him all the days of our life.

Magnification for the Saints of Britain and Ireland
We magnify, we magnify you, all ye saints glorified in these islands/ And we venerate your holy memory/ In that ye pray for us to Christ our God.

Epistle Romans 5:1-10

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perserverance; and perserverance, character; and character, hope.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one day die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than then, having now been justified by His Blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Gospel Matthew 6: 22-33

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No-one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lillies of the filed, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore, do not worry saying, “what shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”. For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Calendar for July and August

Thursday 7th July: NATIVITY OF THE HOLY AND GLORIOUS PROPHET AND FORERUNNER JOHN, BAPTIST OF THE LORD
Saturday 9th July: Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God (1383)
Tuesday 12th July: THE GLORIOUS AND ALL-PRAISED LEADERS OF THE APOSTLES, PETER AND PAUL (67)
Wednesday 13th July: Synaxis of the Glorious and All-Praised Twelve Apostles
Monday 18th July: Venerable Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara
Thursday 21st July: Appearance of the Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God at Kazan (1579)
Tuesday 26th July: Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel
Thursday 28th July: Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal-To-The-Apostles (1015)
Sunday 31st July: Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils
Tuesday 2nd August: Holy Prophet Elijah (9th century BC)
Thursday 4th August: Holy Myrrh-bearer Mary Magdalene, Equal-To-The-Apostles


Times of the Next Liturgies
Sunday 7th August
Sunday 4th September

Parish news

Parish Pilgrimage to Romsey Abbey
We are thinking of organising a pilgrimage to Romsey Abbey, probably on Saturday Aug. 6th. Please inform Paula if you would like to participate.


First celebration of All Saints of the British Isles - Sunday 9 July 1978

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.


From the first day of its existence the Church has reverenced, and loved and sung the praises of its saints, of those people who have been heralds of the love of God, and who have testified to their faithfulness, to the steadiness of their love not only by words, but by their whole life, and by their whole death. The first martyr, Stephen, and after him so many martyrs and witnesses, and all those who have lived and shone, and been on earth the resplendence of God, the shining of His love, the tenderness of His compassion, the purity of His message have been remembered with deep gratitude. Some of these saints are known, many names have fallen into oblivion, but all are remembered and all are in our midst, and it is their faith, their faithfulness, their message that has made it possible for us to belong to the Body of Christ, to enter onto that path which they have followed so gloriously. Some of these Saints are known throughout the world, some are venerated locally, either in one country or another, or simply in a limited district where they have shone; and where their memory is kept with veneration.


One of the first Saints of the West that called for the reverence of the Russian Orthodox emigres in Western Europe was Saint Genevieve of Paris, and when I say that she called us to pay her veneration, to remember her together with the many Orthodox Saints of the West, I am using the words advisedly. In one of our poorest and smallest communities in Paris a woman saw a dream that she was somewhere in the thickets near a wood, that she was impelled to look at what there was within it; she found a gate, walked further and was confronted with the statue of a woman, who was holding in her hands a book and a sheaf of wheat, and this woman looked at her in sorrow and said: How is it that the people of my city, who share my faith pay me no honour. The woman awoke, there was no name she could attach to the vision; she spoke of it, but she had no answer, until a few weeks later, going to a small place not far from Paris, called Sainte Genevieve des Bois, she recognised the place of her dream, the thicket; she entered it, found a gate and was confronted with the same statue, but this time an inscription revealed to her it was Sainte Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris together with Saint Denis. And she brought the news, and in our small community we began to pray to her, later we created a parish in her name, and this was the beginning of French Orthodoxy.


This opened our minds and our hearts to something which we had overlooked, because having lost our Country and all we loved we had a tendency to be immersed in our Russian life, remembering only our Russian ancestry, both spiritual and material, the country we loved, the people who were our kin, and the saints who were the glory of Russia. And now we suddenly became aware that we had come into the West, not in a part of the world that was strange and alien to us but in a part of the world which for nearly a thousand years had shared with us the same faith, the same plenitude of oneness, the same joy of belonging together with all the Christian world. We began then to pay attention to the saints of the West and in all countries now this awareness has grown, and when we come to a country of the Western world., we know that beyond a thousand years of separation we meat the memory, the prayers, the names and the presence of those Saints of Orthodoxy who are and were its glory, its resplendence before God, we come to our own people; and this is something which is so wonderful and for which we are so deeply grateful. We are no strangers in this land, thousands and thousands of men and women have shared our faith; we are strangers in no land because the oneness of the Church hundreds of years ago unbroken make us the kin of those who are their resplendence and their glory.


Later we wrote about it to one of the greatest men of the Russian Church, to Patriarch Sergius at the time when he was still 'Locum tenens' of the Seat of Moscow and. of all Russia; he encouraged. us, he called us to recreate, to call back into life the Orthodoxy of the West; he called us to translate the services, to celebrate in the language of the country, to make Orthodoxy alive and. available to those who had lost it and yet longed for its plenitude. And this we have done in all the countries in which Russian Orthodoxy has bean brought by the tragedy of the Russian Revolution and the subsequent years.


And now, for the first time we have celebrated here, after the Sunday of All Saints appointed of old to be kept after Pentecost, after the Sunday of All the Saints of Russia, that is celebrated as a consequence of a decision of the Council of I9I7-I9I8 at the moment when the revolution was breaking all that had been standing, we have kept now the Sunday of All the Saints of the British Isles. Today, unbeknown to the world, we have began a tradition which will not die, we have resurrected the memory of all those who are our brothers in the Faith, examples for us to follow in our lives, those people on whose prayers we can count, who are at one with us. Let us never forget this oneness of the Church of God, let us not forget the way in which the Saints of the West have addressed themselves to us, challenged our faithfulness in the person of Sainte Genevieve of Paris, let us never forget the loving wisdom of Patriarch Sergius, who called us to be like seed sown in the West which is bound to die, because our generations are growing thin, and those who were children are now among the old who came out to Russia. Let us remember faithfully, lovingly, and build on the foundation of the Saints, on the foundation of the faith once delivered to them, Christ being the cornerstone, a Church whose mark will be love, offering of self, readiness to die that others may live, full of joy, open, tender and true. Amen.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Monday
Jun202011

Newsletter 4 – Sunday, 12 June 2011

8th Sunday of Pascha: Day of the Holy Trinity: Pentecost

Troparion, tone 8:
Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who didst make the fishermen most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them didst draw the whole world into Thy net. O Thou who lovest mankind, glory to Thee.

Kontakion, tone 8:
When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, He divided the nations, but when He distributed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity. And with one accord we glorify the All-Holy Spirit.

Epistle: Acts 2:1-11
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Gospel:  John 7:37-52; 8:12
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. And every man went unto his own house.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life

Calendar for June and July

Monday 13th June: DAY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Pentecost week (fast free)
Sunday 19th June: Sunday of All Saints
Monday 20th June: BEGINNING OF THE APOSTLES’ FAST
Sunday 26th June: Sunday of all the Saints who shone forth in the Land of Russia
Saturday 2nd July: Holy Apostle Jude, brother of the Lord (circa AD 80)
Thursday 7th July: THE NATIVITY OF THE HOLY AND GLORIOUS PROPHET AND FORERUNNER JOHN, BAPTIST OF THE LORD
Saturday 9th July: Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God (1383)
Tuesday 12th July: THE GLORIOUS AND ALL-PRAISED LEADERS OF THE APOSTLES, PETER AND PAUL (AD 67)

 

Pentecost

The day of descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.
The birthday of the Church

The feast of the Holy Trinity (otherwise, Pentecost) is dedicated to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Christ. This event brought into existence the Church of Christ and gave rise to the Christian faith on earth. On the feast of Pentecost the Church brings its children to the doors of its spiritual life and appeals to them to renew and strengthen in themselves the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to them in Baptism. Spiritual life of an individual is impossible without God's grace, which possesses the mysterious power of rebirth and transforms the whole of the Christian's inward life. However lofty and valuable his desire might be, it will be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit. That is why the feast of Pentecost is always so joyfully celebrated by Orthodox Christians.

    Throughout all of history God gradually revealed himself to mankind. During Old Testament times people knew only about God the Father. Since the birth of the Savior they learned of his Only-begotten Son, and on the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit people learned of the existence of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Thus mankind was instructed to believe and praise God, one in essence and Threefold in Persons, that is, God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity one and indivisible.
The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost is described by the Evangelist Luke in the initial chapters of his book "Acts of the Holy Apostles." It was God's will to make this event a turning point in the world's history.

    Pentecost, celebrated on the fiftieth day after the Jewish Passover, was one of the three major holidays of the Old Testament. Pentecost marked the adoption of Sinai's legislation under the Prophet Moses when the Jewish people were liberated from Egypt and entered into alliance with God nearly fourteen hundred years before Christ's birth. At that time the Jews promised to be obedient to God and He, in turn, promised them His mercy and blessings. Because the feast of Pentecost coincided with the end of the harvest season, it was celebrated with great joy. Many Jews scattered over various parts of the vast Roman empire hurried to Jerusalem to participate in this feast. Having been born and having grown up in different countries, most of them could hardly understand their mother tongue. They made an effort, however, to observe their national and religious traditions and, at least from time to time, to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

    The descent of the Holy Spirit was not an unexpected event for the Apostles. As far back as a few centuries before the Savior's birth God began to prepare people for the day of their spiritual rebirth. He promised through his prophets: "It shall come to pass afterward, that I shall pour out My Spirit on all flesh ... With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation ... For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground ... A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and observe and carry out My judgements" (Joel 2: 28; Is. 12: 3, 44:3; Ezek. 11:19-20).

    When preparing to return to His heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ in His farewell talk informed the Apostles about the forthcoming descent of the Holy Spirit. He explained to the disciples that the Comforter, that is, the Holy Spirit, would come soon to them to fulfill the mission of salvation: "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth ... He will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I say unto you ... He, the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, will bear witness of Me" (John 14: 16-17, 26; 15: 26).

    After the events of the suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, which the Apostles took deeply to their hearts, they became quite different people. They grew stronger spiritually and matured to accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was then that God's mercy came to them in its fullness and they were the first to enjoy the spiritual fruits of the salutary feat of the God-Man.
Fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and ten days after His Ascension to Heaven, the disciples of Jesus, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, some of the pious women and other believers, 120 persons in all, gathered in Jerusalem in a so-called "Zion chamber." They were probably in the same room where the Lord, not long before His sufferings, performed the Last Supper. The Apostles were awaiting the fulfillment of the Savior's will to send them "the Father's Promise" and strengthen them with divine power, although they did not understand yet exactly what that meant.

    Then, at nine in the morning, when people usually came to the Temple for sacrifices and prayers, a noise came from heaven like a strong gust of wind. It filled the house, and at the same instant there appeared above the Apostle's heads what appeared to be tongues of flame which began descending on their heads. These tongues possessed a peculiar property to give light and not burn. But still more unusual were the special gifts they imparted. Everyone upon whom they descended became spiritually enriched and felt an ineffable joy and inspiration. They would begin to perceive themselves to be quite different people: pacific, full of life and a strong love for God. These innermost feelings before unknown were expressed by the Apostles through joyful exclamations and glorifications of God. It turned out that now they were not speaking their native Hebrew language but other tongues unknown to them. In that way the Apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire just as it was prophesied by John the Baptist.

Meanwhile, this sound, as if from a mighty wind, drew lots of people to the Apostles' house. Having seen people gathering from everywhere, the Apostles, rendering gratitude and praises to Almighty God in their prayers, appeared on the balcony of the house. On hearing the prayers, all those gathered around the house were amazed by the event, which was utterly incomprehensible to them. Christ's disciples, mostly Galilean in origin, had little education and were not expected to speak tongues other than their own. But now, after the miracle, they were speaking many foreign languages so that, however diverse the crowd of people might be (for they came to Jerusalem from different countries), they all heard their native tongues. There happened to be some cynics among the crowd who laughed at godly preachers and dared to say that the Apostles had become drunk from wine. But in reality the power of the Holy Spirit, besides other inner favorable changes, was being revealed by the extraordinary gift of tongues so that the Apostles would be able to propagate the Gospel more successfully among different nations without the need to learn foreign languages.

    Having seen the people's perplexity the Apostle Peter came forward to deliver his first sermon. He explained to them that in the wonderful event of the descent of the Holy Spirit there came true an ancient prophecy of Joel which spoke on behalf of God: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, said the Lord, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions. Even upon My menservants and maidservants of those days, I will pour out my Spirit; and wonders will be seen in heaven above and on the earth below ... " (Joel 2: 28-32). The Apostle Peter explained that through this very event there had been achieved the great feat of the salvation of mankind. It was for their sake that the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to them, underwent crucifixion and was resurrected. However short and simple this sermon was, it penetrated into the hearts of the listeners for it was the Holy Spirit who spoke by Peter's mouth.

    Most of the people who were listening to Saint Peter were touched deeply in their souls, and they asked him, "What shall we do now?" "Repent," was Peter's answer, "and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit." Many of them came to believe in Christ after the words of Peter, repented publicly their sins and were baptized. So by the evening of the same day the Christian Church increased from 120 to 3000 believers. This miraculous event gave rise to the existence of the Christian Church, the blessed community of believers summoned to save their souls. Jesus Christ promised that His Church would be invincible against the gates of Hell until the very end of the existence of the world.

    It did not occur by chance that two very important events took place on the same day: the descent of the Holy Spirit and the Jewish Pentecost. The traditional feast of Pentecost marked the alliance of the Jewish people with God. This alliance required the observation of the Ten Commandments and promised the reception of earthly blessings. The descent of the Holy Spirit implemented a completely novel and much deeper alliance, or Testament, between God and the New Israel - the Christian people. It is based on faith in the Savior and its goal is the spiritual renewal and inheritance of eternal life. The descent of the Holy Spirit has become the day on which the old theocracy, which ruled society through a rigorous law, became replaced by grace and sincere love for God. Now the Spirit of Truth became the guide of believers for their journey to Heaven, and the source of their spiritual freedom and inspiration.

    Since the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, everyone newly baptized is linked to the miracle of Pentecost through the sacrament of Chrismation. In this Sacrament, which usually is performed right after Baptism, the newly baptized is favored with the same gifts of the Holy Spirit which the Apostles received 2000 years ago. The power of this sacrament is so great and everlasting that it, like Baptism, is never repeated. Subsequent sacraments such as Confession and Eucharist, church services, private prayers, fasting, acts of mercy and a virtuous life are aimed at strengthening in a Christian the divine gift he has already received in Chrismation.

On the feast of Pentecost, to remind Christians of the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, the churches are decorated with greenery and flowers and the priests wear green vestments. In the feast's prayers, like the troparion and kontakion cited above, thanks is expressed to God for sending us the Holy Spirit. The main feature of worship on the day of Pentecost is the reading with genuflection of the special prayers of St. Basil the Great, which are read during the Vesper's service right after the Liturgy. This marks the end of the period between Easter and Pentecost during which the Church forbids kneeling and making prostrations to the ground, on account of the great joy of the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord.

Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

Thursday
May052011

Newsletter 3 – Sunday, 1st May 2011

2nd Sunday of Pascha: Thomas Sunday

Troparion, Tone VII
When the tomb was sealed, Thou, the Life, O Christ our God, didst rise up from the grave; and when the doors were closed, Thou, the Resurrection of all, didst stand among the disciples, and through them renew a right spirit in us, according to Thy mercy.

Kontakion, Tone VIII
With his inquisitive right hand, Thomas probed Thy life-giving side, O Christ our God. For when Thou didst enter, the doors being shut, with the rest of the Apostles he cried to Thee: Thou art my Lord and my God.

Epistle: Acts 5:12-20
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.

And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.

There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 

 

Gospel: John 20:19-31

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

 

Calendar for May and June

●      Wednesday 6th May: Great Martyr George the Victory-bearer (303)
●      Sunday 8th May: Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers
●      Wednesday 13th May: Holy Apostle James, the son of Zebedee (44)
●      Sunday 15th May: Sunday of the Paralysed Man
●      Monday 16th May: Venerable Theodosius, Abbot of the Monastery of the Caves of Kiev, Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia (1074)
●      Sunday 22nd May: Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
●      Tuesday 24th May: Sts Methodius (885) and Cyril (869), Equal-to-the-Apostles, First Teachers of the Slavs, Namesday of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia
●      Tuesday 31st May: Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils
●      Thursday 2nd June: ASCENSION OF THE LORD
●      Friday 3rd June: Vladimir icon of the Mother of God; feast which commemorates the deliverance of Moscow from invasion by the Crimean Khan, Makhmet-Girey (1521): Holy Emperor Constantine (337) and his mother Holy Empress Helena (327), Equal-to-the-Apostles
●      Saturday 5th June: Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council (325)

●      Saturday 11th June: Trinity Saturday of Ancestors: we keep the memorial of all departed Orthodox Christians throughout the ages, our fathers and brothers 


Times of next Liturgies

●     Sunday 12th June 2011: DAY OF THE HOLY TRINITY. PENTECOST:
Hours and confession 10.30 Liturgy 11.00

 

Parish news

We congratulate Peter O’Neill, the newest member of our parish, who was baptised into the Church by Fr Joseph yesterday afternoon. Many congratulations and Many Years to Peter! Mnogaya Leta!

Thoughts for Each Day of the Year by St. Theophan the Recluse

Thomas’ Sunday. [Acts 5:12–20; John 20:19–31]

My Lord and my God! (John 20:28) cried the holy apostle Thomas. Do you feel the strength with which he has grasped the Lord, and how tightly he is holding onto Him? A drowning man grasps the plank on which he hopes to be saved in the same way. We will add that whoever does not have the Lord like this for himself and does not keep himself this way in relation to the Lord, does not yet believe in the Lord as he should. We say: “Saviour and Lord,” meaning that He is the Saviour of all; but Thomas says: “my Saviour and Lord.” He who says: “my Saviour,” feels his own salvation proceeding from Him. The feeling of salvation lies adjacent to the feeling of perishing, out of which the Saviour pulls whomever He saves. The feeling of perishing, for a man who is life-loving by nature and who knows that he cannot save himself, forces him to seek the Saviour. When he finds Him and feels the power of salvation proceeding from Him, he grasps Him tightly and does not want to be torn from Him, though he be deprived for this of life itself. Such a nature of events in the spiritual life of a Christian are not only imagined in the mind, but are experienced in deed. Then, both his faith and his union with Christ become firm, like life and death. Only such a person can sincerely cry: Who shall separate me! (cf. Rom. 8:35).

 

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

EASTER SERMON  after reading St. John Chrysostom's Easter message

April 11th, 1999

If I may, I wish to add just a few words of my own. Christ is life and the victory of life. In the world in which He came, death was prevalent and seemed to be all-powerful over men; when He came, He defeated death by His resurrection. And nowadays we live in a world which is full of torment, of pain, of fear, of murder, of death, and we  may say, “But where is the victory?”.. The victory is in each of us, the victory is in all those of us who believe that death cannot separate us from God, that death is no longer a victory of evil over us, but a triumph of us through our faith, because death is no longer separation. Saint  Paul  says  that for him death is a meeting with Christ; as long as he lives in the flesh he is separated, partly, from God. But with his death he enters in full unity and communion with Him. This is our faith, but there is more to it in a sense, because life is triumphant in our midst. However frightening and dark the world is nowadays, we know that victory has already been won, that God has won and that we who believe in Him partake together with Him in His  victory. And therefore, let us bring, to all around us, this message of life and glory!

 

Christ is risen!

 

Diocesan Events

The Diocese’s annual conference, which will be held on Friday 3rd June- Sunday 5th June, has now put all available information about it online at www.sourozh-conference.org. The subject this year will be “Living the Liturgy”.

Conference 2010