Announcement

From Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the OCA:
I want to draw your attention to an event that will take place on Wednesday evening at 7p EST. At that time, Archpriest Thomas Soroka will interview His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon about the July 2022 All American Council. Concurrently, a formal announcement will be going up on our website announcing the council. The link is provided here:
https://www.oca.org/news/headline-news/join-metropolitan-tikhon-live-to-discuss-the-20th-all-american-council

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Announcements

Dear Parishioners:

Saturday evening Vespers/Matins  6:00 p.m.As we return slowly to our normal church life, Saturday evening services at 6:00 p.m. will be an important dimension.  While we can again celebrate services on Saturdays in preparation for the Sunday morning Liturgy, we need to leave room for flexibility.  In the past we customarily celebrated Vigil (Vespers and Matins combined as one service).   I have been advised that sometimes the lack of singers and readers puts too great a strain on our choir director’s voice.  On those occasions, we will need to accommodate reality by celebrating Great Vespers only, without adding Matins.
The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul  7:00 p.m.
In observance of the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul we will celebrate a Vesperal Liturgy at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29th.

Sunday Coffee Hours
It is our hope and intention to resume out traditional Sunday Coffee Hours. Thus, on Sunday, June 27th, you should plan to enjoy Coffee Hour and fellowship again after Liturgy. What we do not know yet is whether we have enough volunteers to sustain weeklyCoffee Hours. It may be that some Sunday Coffee Hours will have to be omitted.
As our nation and the world struggle to overcome the Covid threat, let us ask God to bring us safely through the long journey of the pandemic. Let us strive to uphold in prayer the millions who have died, and the many millions who grieve the deaths of family members.
With love in the Lord,Fr. Leonid

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ASCENSION OF JESUS CHRIST

Christ is Risen!
 
Dear Parishioners:
 
Forty days after the Resurrection of Christ we observe and celebrate the Ascension of Christ.  This year we are fortunate to witness our gradual emergence from the coronavirus pandemic.  Our increasing ability to hold the services of Great Lent and Holy Week and to enjoy some of our customary parish fellowship is a great blessing.
 
We will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord with Vesperal Liturgy on Wednesday, June 9th,  at 7 p.m.  The service will be followed by light refreshments in the Parish Hall.
 
With love in the Lord,
Fr. Leonid
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The Orthodox Faith – The Sacraments (2c)

The next part of the Baptismal service after the anointing is the tonsure, or the cutting of the hair. In the Old Testament hair is a symbol of strength. Perhaps we recall the story of Samson in the Old Testament. He was the last of the judges, the leader of the Jews. For example, in Judges 13:3-5.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore beware, and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:3-5)
Here God tells Manoah would bare child, who would defend the people of Israel from the enemy. Note that God says that a razor would never touch his head. And this child, Samson, did successfully fight against the enemy of the Jews. Unfortunately, Samson succumbs to temptation, to a prostitute named Delilah, in the pay of the Philistines. She learned that the source of Samsons strength is his hair. After he falls asleep, she has his head shaved and he loses his strength. He is blinded and put in chains.
“And she said to him, “How can you say, `I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me wherein your great strength lies.” And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his mind, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I be shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” When Deli’lah saw that he had told her all his mind, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up this once, for he has told me all his mind.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. She made him sleep upon her knees; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.” And he did not know that the Lord had left him. And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison. So we see that hair was sometimes considered to be a source of strength. By cutting the hair and offering it to God we are saying that our strength is in God’s hands. Taking the scissors, the priest cuts the hair of the newly-baptized person in the form of a cross and says “The servant of God (name) is tonsured in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” and the people respond “Amen.” (Judges 16:15-21)
Now the tonsure is just a matter of snipping off a few strands of hair. Tonsuring had been ore elaborate in the past. People are tonsured when they become readers, for example. Monks and Nuns are also tonsured when they enter the monastic life.
To complete the sacrament of Baptism and Chrismation, the baptized person then receives Holy Communion as soon as possible. Without Holy Communion, the Baptism and Chrismation are not complete.
In many Orthodox churches, Holy Communion is given immediately to the baptized person from the reserved sacrament.
Every year on Holy Thursday the priest prepares an additional Lamb (prosphora) to be consecrated at the Liturgy. The Lamb is not given in Holy Communion that day, but is dried, cut into pieces and placed in a special container which remains on the altar all year. These pieces are used to give Communion to those who, for on reason or another, are unable to come to church and receive in the normal manner. This practice shows the unity of the three sacraments. In other churches, the baptized person receives their first communion at the next Liturgy. If the Baptism takes place before the Liturgy this is quite easy. If the Baptism is not performed directly before the Liturgy the baptized person should come, or be brought, to the next Liturgy. In the case of babies or children, it’s important not to neglect this. To ignore the Liturgy and Communion is a serious error because as we have pointed out, Baptism, Chrismation and Communion belong together.

Fr. John

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The Orthodox Faith – The Sacraments (2b)

It should be noted here that this sacrament exists also in the Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches. There it is called Confirmation. Confirmation is separate from Baptism and is understood somewhat differently in other churches than in the Orthodox church. As we have seen, the ancient (and contemporary) Orthodox Church, the order of the sacraments are Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion, coming one after the other. In baptism we become partakers of Christ’s death and resurrection, in Chrismation we experience our own personal Pentecost and in Holy Communion we partake of the Body and Blood of the risen Christ. But when the Christian West separated the sacraments with Chrismation (Confirmation) reserved to the bishop a different understanding of the sacrament developed. Often the Baptism is administered to an infant or small child, Holy Communion is given when the child is seven years old and Confirmation being administered to an older child or teenager. Confirmation is understood as the person’s affirmation of his baptismal vows. In other words, in infant baptism, the God parents renounce Satan and express their belief in the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Obviously the child does not know what is going on. Therefore, at Confirmation the adolescent affirms that he or she believes in what the Godparents said in Baptism. It is a conscious choice to follow the way of Christ and the church.
However, because it’s so difficult for the bishop to get to each parish and perform these sacraments, the Orthodox Church uses the Chrism distributed by the bishop. In this way the bishop is participating in each baptism in his diocese.
In the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, Confirmation is done only by the bishop. And indeed, in the early church, baptism and chrismation was performed by the bishop. In a diocese of many parishes, obviously the bishop cannot confirm everyone at the same time. The Bishop will visit each parish once a year to Confirm. This quite clearly separates Baptism, Communion and Confirmation (Chrismation) even further from one another, distorting the ancient tradition.
However, in recent years Protestant and Catholic theologians are beginning to understand that the Orthodox way of doing Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion better represents the nature of these sacraments. Therefore, some Western churches are returning to the ancient Orthodox way of administering these sacraments.
What is Chrismation though? We can say that it is a personal Pentecost. We remember the fifty days after Christ’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples
“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 and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Of course, most Chrismations are not so dramatic, but we are filled with the Holy Spirit at Chrismation. Just as Easter and Pentecost, in a sense are one feast, for us there is no difference between the death and resurrection though Baptism, and this Baptism is fulfilled through Chrismation.

Fr. John

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