There are 23 services during the eight days between Lazarus Saturday and the afternoon of Pascha, and each of those services is designed to bring us as close as possible to the Most Holy Trinity, and the best way to take advantage of those opportunities is to figure out ahead of time which services we will be attending during those eight holy days.
If you have attended one of the Saturday of Souls, then you know that we are all being encouraged to prepare for our departure from this life. To assist with that work, this coming Sunday, April 7, during Fellowship Hour, we will have two presentations over in the parish house. A representative from Beck Funeral Home, Philip Gunter, will be with us to talk about funeral arrangements; Beck is one of the few independent funeral homes in the area, and they also administer the Cedar Park Cemetery just down the road from our parish. The other presentation will be made by our very own David Brown; David is an attorney who does lots and lots of work for our parish, and he will be providing us with information about wills. So, there will be two important presentations during Fellowship Hour this coming Sunday; please plan on joining us.
This coming Sunday, March 31, is not only the mid-point in the 40 days of Great Lent, it is also the Sunday of the Cross, and it is the fifth Sunday of the month—which, if your Fellowship Hour schedule runs on a four Sunday rotation, like ours, is a problem. But not to worry! We’ve got this: What we’re going to do is have a potluck. That’s right! This Sunday, we are all going to bring fasting food to share. If you have questions about how that’s going to work or exactly what to bring contact our hard-working Fellowship Hour Coordinator, Misty Wright and plan on joining us for our Fifth Sunday Potluck.
There are three Saturdays of Souls each year during the Triodion and Great Lent. We have already observed two of those Saturdays; however, the same services will also be offered for the last time during this season this coming Saturday, March 30th. On that day, we offer Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am, and we pray for our departed family members and friends. We should all be able to make the services on at least one of those days, and those of us with children and grandchildren and godchildren need to make sure that those folks are present with us so that they will know how to remember us when we have departed this life.
Saturday, March 23, is the second Saturday of Souls for the year. If you have not yet participated in one of those services, please remember that the departed need your prayers, and your friends and family need to learn how to pray for you after you have departed this life. So plan on joining us for Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am
This year for St. Patrick's Day we will be hosting the Celtic Games at St. John's in Cedar Park directly after the Liturgy! So come with your kilt or a pair of jeans and t-shirt to change into an get ready to throw heavy objects for sport. The games will include a modified "Caber Toss" (half the size of a normal Caber), "Stone Throw" (a combo of golf and hammer throw), Snake Toss (obviously with rubber snakes) and this year we will also be playing a new game Joe has named "King of the Maze" which involves friendly pushing, shoving, and pulling to take over your opponents territory before he/she does.
Great Lent will begin in just a week, on Monday, March 11, and on this coming Sunday, March 10, we will offer Forgiveness Vespers no later than 1pm. Forgiveness Vespers is one of the most important services of the year, and it’s the very best way to begin the Forty Day Fast.
The Triodion, the three week period of preparation leading up to Great Lent, will begin on Sunday, February 17. That means it’s time to start thinking about how we are going to fast, when we will make our confession, how often we will participate in the weekday Lenten services (most weeks, there are services on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings), and which of the Saturdays of Souls we will be attending.
Our 2019 Annual Community Meeting will be on Sunday, February 10, during Fellowship Hour. During that meeting, we will briefly review all the reports from the parish council, and we will elect two new members for the council. See the emailed The Happy Priest newsletter for all the reports which will be used at the meeting, and please read those ahead of time. If you have any questions, check with our parish council president, Chris Lewis. Remember, to vote in the council elections, you will need to have filled out a 2019 Commitment Card, so, if you overlooked that important item, check with Nick Crown, the head of our Finance Committee.
We will wrap up this lovely festal season with The Feast of the Presentation of our Lord and Master in the Temple at Jerusalem. The day before the feast, Friday, February 1, we will serve Great Vespers at 7pm, and, on Saturday, February 2, the morning of the feast, we will offer Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am. Plan on joining us as we finish up these forty days of feasting.
It's time to start planning for the 2019 Rally for Life. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, January 26. We will meet at the south gate of the state capitol building at 12:30pm, and we will sing hymns until all the marchers make it on to the grounds of the capitol. Our goal is to pray while others are shouting and to sing while others yelling and to enjoy being together on what is usually a lovely afternoon. However, if that sort of thing is beyond your physical endurance, or if you just don’t like being out in the public, this year, our mother parish, St Elias, will be offering the Service for the Victims of Abortion at 7pm on Friday evening, January 25. So, when it comes to the #1 most important cultural issue of our times, there are now opportunities for all of us to get involved.
Remember, the Feast of Nativity kicks off an entire festal season, and that season includes our major celebrations.
The next celebration of the season will be just five days later when we will observe the Great Feast of Theophany. We will follow the regular weekend schedule on Saturday, January 5, and Sunday, January 6, but, on that Sunday, Bishop Basil will be joining us. His Grace will serve a Hierarchial Divine Liturgy along with the Great Blessing of the Waters and the Ordination to the Holy Diaconate of Michael Coleman.
Remember, the Feast of Nativity kicks off an entire festal season, and that season includes our major celebrations.
After Nativity, the second feast of the season will fall on January 1; that’s when we will celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision. We will offer Great Vespers for the feast on Monday, December 31, at 7pm, and, on Tuesday, January 1, we will serve Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am.
Here is the schedule of services for The Feast of Nativity: On Monday, December 24th, Orthros will be served at 5am; the Royal Hours will be offered at 9am, and the First Liturgy for Nativity, the Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil the Great, will be served at Noon.
On the day of the feast, Orthros will be served at 8am and The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom will be offered at 10am (however, on that day there will be no Fellowship Hour). Please plan on joining us as often as you can as we begin this glorious festal season.
On Thursday, December 6, we will celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas. We will serve Great Vespers at 7pm on Wednesday, December 5, and, the following morning, we will offer Orthros at 4am and Divine Liturgy at 6am. St Nicholas is the patron and protector of all children, so all of us who are parents and grandparents and godparents need to be present at some point during those services.
On Wednesday, November 21, we will celebrate the Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple. On Tuesday, November 20, we will offer Great Vespers at 7pm; on the day of the feast, Orthros will be served at 4:30am and Divine Liturgy at 6am. Please join when you can for this lovely feast of the Theotokos.
The Nativity Fast begins on Thursday, November 15. That may seem like a ways off, but it will be here before we know it, so we need to start planning now in order to take full advantage of all that the season will offer. This Fast is divided into two periods: The first is November 15th through December 19th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine, and olive oil) is observed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a blessing for wine and olive oil (some also permit fish) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and for fish, wine, and olive oil on Saturdays and Sundays. The second is the period of the Forefeast, December 20th through 24th, when the traditional fasting discipline is observed Monday through Friday, with a blessing for wine and olive oil on Saturday and Sunday. If you need to modify the fast in any way, now is the time to make those arrangements with your spiritual father.
During the Nativity Fast, we will be offering the Nativity Paraclesis each Wednesday evening at 7pm. The service lasts about 45 minutes, so, by Orthodox standards, it’s really brief. Because of the way the Liturgical Calendar works out this year, we will only be offering the service four times during the fast, but there’s no reason why each of us cannot participate in at least one of those services before December 25. If we do, our celebration of Nativity and the Circumcision and the Presentation and Theophany will be that much more profound.
Our archdiocese expects that each of us will make our confession before December 25. That Holy Mystery is offered each Saturday evening following Great Vespers or by specific appointment at just about any other time. We don’t do ‘on-the-spot’ confessions, but we will do our very best to accommodate anyone who plans ahead.
On Saturday, November 3, we will celebrate the Feast of St Raphael of Brooklyn. St Raphael is the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in North America. He is also the Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America, so these services will be an excellent time to intercede on behalf of all those folks that we know who are not yet part of the Church or who have fallen away from the Church. We will offer Orthros at 7am and the Divine Liturgy at 9am
Back to School. St Thomas School, that is. If you started out with us back in the summer and have since become too busy—or if you haven’t yet tried out the school—this is a good time to get involved. We’re starting a new section in our current textbook.
On Friday, September 14, we will celebrate the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. We will offer Great Vespers at 7pm on Thursday, September 13, and then on Saturday, September 14, we will serve Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am.
The Fall Theological Seminar begins on Wednesday, September 12. This year, we will be reading a wonderful novel by Marilynne Robinson called Gilead. You can easily pick up an inexpensive copy at Christ the Lightgiver Bookstore. This year, groups will also be meeting in Georgetown (at the home of Mike and Linda Brown) and in Killeen (at the offices of Randy Hardin). So, where ever you may be in Central Texas this fall, on Wednesday evenings, plan on joining us at 7pm as we discuss this lovely book.
Creating Safe Environments for Children in Faith Communities: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention & Response
With the knowledge that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, it is vital to learn the types of situations in which child sexual abuse could occur and simple, effective strategies for protecting children.