Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the Name of the Lord.
This coming Saturday, March 2, is the first Saturday of Souls. We will serve Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am. There are three Souls’ Saturdays during Great Lent, so all of us should be able to make at least one. When you decide which Saturday you will be participating, be sure and use the Memorial Book in the narthex and print (as legibly as possible) the names of the departed that you would like to have remembered on the day when you will be in attendance.
Wednesday, February 27, and Friday, March 1
Monday, February 25- Friday, March 1
(But don’t forget that since 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm when the service will actually begin.)
Saturday, February 23
Saturday of Souls
Divine Liturgy 9am
St Thomas School 4pm Dr Chris Speckhard will lead the discussion of Chapter 1 in Volume III
“Background: The Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple”
Great Vespes 6pm
Sunday, February 24
The Sunday of the Last Judgement
Church School 8:15am
Divine Liturgy 10am
Fellowship Hour Noon
This Week at St Thomas School
The first chapter of Volume III Orthodox Christianity begins with the tabernacle of the wilderness, “sacred places” where God appeared, and Solomon’s temple. Our temple worship comes from the ancient Hebrew forms of worship that are described in the early books of the Scriptures. There are many details about measurements, dimensions, materials, bloody sacrifices, symbols, prayers, rituals, and holy objects. From a kind of “tent-temple” the Hebrew people then made a permanent temple for worshiping God in Jerusalem. Aside from those very important developments and parallels to our own worship services, why did King David, not God himself, come up with the idea of creating a “political center” for state of Jerusalem with its temple built with stone?
Unless you are Roman Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, it may be difficult to understand why one particularly defined place in the world, like Rome, Jerusalem, or Mecca, deserves more political or spiritual attention for the center of worship than other places. This chapter will help us understand the difference between a synagogue and a temple, how Christians started to break from Jewish places of worship or study, and why Jesus was in the temple in Jerusalem so often during his earthly life. These are only a few questions that can be asked when discussing this rich chapter on how, “the history of the temple is inseparably linked to the history of the Hebrew people” and how Christ Jesus Himself is “One greater than the temple.”
Great Lent will begin on Monday, March 11, and on 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: Following the usual Sunday morning services, and as soon as we can get the nave cleaned up after a shorter-than-usual Fellowship Hour, we then offer Sunday evening vespers, and, at the end of the service, we exchange words of forgiveness with everyone in the parish. That makes for a long day, but it also makes for a healthy parish community, so please plan on joining us for this time of healing and reconciliation.
This coming Sunday, March 3, is the Sunday of the Last Judgement. During the week following this Sunday we abstain from meat, but all other foods (including fish) are permitted. On Monday, March 11, we begin the full fast. During the first week of the Fast (known as Pure Week) it is traditional to keep a total fast until after the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Wednesday, but those who intend to do a total fast should check first with their physician and their spiritual father. During the subsequent weeks of the Fast we abstain from meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine, and olive oil Monday through Friday, with katalysis (a blessing) for wine and olive oil on Saturday and Sunday. If you need to modify the fast in any way, please check with your spiritual father.
During Great Lent, we will also be reading a short book together in preparation for the Pascha Book Study; the book is called Laughing at the Devil; it’s by Laura Hall, and it is now on sale at Christ the Lightgiver Bookstore. The book is part memoir and part commentary on the very first book ever written in English by a woman about the spiritual life. That woman is Julian of Norwich, and Laura Hall, who is a Protestant does a very good job of connecting Julian’s insights with contemporary issues. As Orthodox Christians, we won’t agree with everything that Laura says, but we will learn a great deal both from her and from Julian, so go ahead and pick up the book and be looking for the schedule of readings in this newsletter.
On Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17, we will host our first Open House Weekend for 2019. Attached to this edition of The Happy Priest are a letter which explains the importance of this event and how it works, as well as a flyer that you can use to help us publicize the weekend (the flyer--, "-Web.jpg"—can be shared online / via email, and the "-Print.pdf" version can be used if people want to print; two of the images should fit on one 8.5" x 11 sheet).
There are three Saturdays of Souls each year during the Triodion and Great Lent. In addition to this coming Saturday, March 2, services will also be offered on March 23 and 30th. On those days, we serve 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.
Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy
On those Sundays when Church School is in session, let’s remember that this is an opportunity for all the parents to participate in Orthros or offer some private prayers or catch up on some spiritual reading. The common room in the parish house is available for those who prefer not to be in Orthros, but, when we are in that room, we need to be as quiet as possible with our personal devotions, and we need to remember that Fellowship Hour does not start until after the Divine Liturgy has ended.
I’m praying for each of you as we invite folks to our Open House, and I’m looking forward to serving the first Saturday of Souls with you.
An unworthy priest,