Week of December 10

Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the Name of the Lord.

Have you made it to a Nativity Paraclesis yet? There are just two left. Have you made your confession yet? There are just two Saturdays before the Feast of Nativity. We will all derive more benefit from this upcoming festal season if we will do as much as we can by way of preparation.

Our Calendar

The Fast Continues

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. Many American Orthodox Christians break the fast on Thanksgiving Day, but you need get a blessing from your spiritual father for that (and you need to remember that it’s Thanksgiving Day and not Thanksgiving Very Long Weekend).

Daily Services

Monday, December 10-Friday, December 14

  • Orthros 5am

  • Vespers 5pm

(Please remember because life in our parish community can be pretty busy, sometimes the starting times for the daily services has to be shifted. So, if you know ahead of time that you will be attending a particular service, it’s always a good idea to send Father Aidan a note at fraidan@austin.rr.com to confirm when the service will actually begin.)

Wednesday, December 19

  • Nativity Paraclesis 7pm

Saturday, December 15

  • St Thomas School 4pm Michael Coleman will lead the discussion on Chapter 26 The Mother of God

  • Great Vespers 6pm

Sunday, December 16

Eleventh Sunday of St. Luke

  • Orthros 8am

  • Church School 8:15am

  • Divine Liturgy 10am

  • Fellowship Hour Noon

  • Monthly Parish Council Meeting Noon

This Week at St Thomas School

Chapter 26 The Theotokos

If you are ever wonder why we sing “Most Holy, Most pure, Most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary” every Sunday, come and explore this chapter with us.

Metropolitan Hilarion briefly introduces a group of topics on the Virgin Mary. After discussing this chapter, we will try to understand how the Theotokos fits perfectly in this section on the Church.

First, he looks at some New Testament references to Mary and her typology. Second, he discusses sources on her virginity and why we sing hymns to her with the term “ever-virgin.” Third, he touches on the use of the description Theotokos and also why we should call her Mother of God. From there he discusses her role as a free, willing, and quite central person involved in the plan of salvation (p.478). He mentions four important Marian feasts such her Nativity, Entry into the Temple, Annunciation, and Dormition.

With a few contrasts of Marian dogmas in Roman Catholicism, he puts these Marian prayers and dogmas in the context of the Divine Liturgy and the experience of the Church at prayer; Nativity hymns being one beautiful source.

Coming Up

As you work through your holiday shopping list, don’t forget about Christ The Lightgiver Bookstore. The bookstore has lots of great gift items in addition to a wide selection of books and icons. The store is open every Sunday during Fellowship Hour, but you can always get in touch with our hard-working manager, Stephanie Crown, and ask a question or place an order during the week.

The 2019 Parish Calendars are also available in the bookstore. Please just take one until everyone in the parish has had the opportunity to get one. Also, please be sure and thank the Hardins and the Bays who, once again, sponsored our calendar.

Normally, our Parish Council meets on the fourth Tuesday evening of the month, but since the fourth Tuesday of December is Christmas Day, the council is going to go ahead and hold it’s monthly meeting this coming Sunday, December 16th, during Fellowship Hour. Everyone is welcome to attend, but if you would like to address the council, you need to get in touch with the chair, Chris Lewis.

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, and 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.

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.

Time to Check the Lost and Found

Our hard-working kitchen supervisor, Misty Wright, reports that the Lost and Found Box is over-flowing with clothes, shoes, jewelry, icons, books, etc. Misty will be taking everything in the box to Goodwill after the Divine Services this coming Sunday, so please make sure that you don’t have anything in the box during Fellowship Hour.

Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy

Every week, our offering bowl is full of checks that adults place there--and we are grateful for each and every one of those checks. But the bowl should also be rattling with the change and overflowing with the bills that children and young people place there--because that's how we are going to teach them about generosity and stewardship. So, parents and grandparents, if you aren't already doing so, please provide your children and young people with money that they can place in the offering bowl; it's an important part of their participation in the Divine Liturgy, and it's how they are going to learn about the joys of giving.

I’m praying that we will all make the most of this next to the last week of the Fast.

An unworthy priest,