Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the Name of the Lord.
This week we are celebrating the Feast of St Nicholas. He is the patron and protector of all our children, so all of us parents and grandparents and godparents have lots of good reasons to participate in his services. We will offer Great Vespers at 7pm on Wednesday, December 5, and, on Thursday, December 6, we will offer Orthros at 4am and Divine Liturgy at 6am.
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).
Monday, December 3-Friday, December 7
(Don’t forget to check the calendar for festal services; also 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 email@example.com to confirm when the service will actually begin.)
Wednesday, December 5
Great Vespers for St Nicholas 7pm
Thursday, December 6
The Feast of St Nicholas
Divine Liturgy 6am
Saturday, December 8
St Thomas School 4pm Seth Hart will be leading the discussion on Chapter 25 The Veneration of the Saints
Great Vespers with The Jesus Prayer 6pm
Sunday, December 9
Conception of the Mother of God
Divine Liturgy 10am
Fellowship Hour Noon
This Week at St Thomas School
Chapter 25: The Veneration of the Saints
How do we become saints? Metropolitan Hilarion describes holiness as Christians becoming part of a golden chain that stretches from many generations of saints.
What happens to saints when they die? The Orthodox teach and believe that we “fall asleep” (we are not “dead”), and this golden chain doesn’t break after “death.” They live with the “Author of life.” That is manifest in miracles, healing, conversions, and when we become part of that holy, golden chain ourselves when we venerate, are helped, and inspired by the saints to live like them. Death cannot limit The Holy Trinity in outpouring “his presence, energy, and grace” on us.
When Metropolitan Hilarion puts “veneration” in that context, it is clear the we do not worship people or their image, but we seek the same relationship they had with The Holy Trinity. We will also learn about canonization, some particular saints of Russia, and important Greek terms such as: latreia, proskynesis, and martys. Come and join this golden chain this Saturday evening!
As you begin your holiday shopping, 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.
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.
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.
At the conclusion of the emailed newsletter, you’ll find the 2019 House Blessing Schedule. It may seem early, but if you will go ahead and write your assigned date on the calendar or enter it into your phone, we’ll have a much better chance of actually making it all happen. If you already know that your assigned date won’t work for you, send me an email right away at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can see about fitting you in at some other point in the schedule.
We ended October with a deficit of $4600, primarily because that is the month when we pay all of our annual diocesan dues. Those big, once a year expenses cut down our surplus on the year to $5700, so, as we pointed out last month, it’s important that we stay consistent and vigilant all the way through the end of the year. That means if you are behind in your giving, we ask that you do your best to catch up; if you are current, please consider doing a little more to help out those who have encountered unexpected difficulties. Thanks to each and every one of you for your generosity and faithfulness.
Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy
If you wish to receive communion during the Divine Liturgy, please remember that you must arrive no later than the gospel reading. Children who arrive late may come forward and receive the gifts; adults who arrive later than the gospel lesson must wait until the following week.
I’m praying that this third full week of the fast will be a blessing to us all.
An unworthy priest,