Week of March 4

Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the Name of the Lord.

This coming Sunday, March 10, is one of the most significant days of the year. It is Forgiveness Sunday, and, on that day, we serve Forgiveness Vespers right after a brief Fellowship Hour. You can read about just how important that service is in the Coming Up section of this newsletter.

Our Calendar

Fasting Days

During this week, we abstain from all meat (beef, poultry, pork) on each day. If you need to modify the fast in any way, please check with your spiritual father.

Daily Services

Monday, March 4-Friday, March 8

  • Orthros 8am

  • Vespers 5pm

(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 fraidan@austin.rr.com to confirm when the service will actually begin.)

Thursday, March 7

  • Choir Practice 7pm

Saturday, March 9

  • St Thomas School 4pm Father Deacon Michael Coleman will lead the discussion of Chapter 2 Churches and Church Building in the Byzantine Tradition

  • Great Vespers with the Jesus Prayer 6pm

Sunday, March 10

Forgiveness Sunday

  • Orthros 8am

  • Divine Liturgy 10am

  • Fellowship Hour Noon

  • Forgiveness Vespers No later than 1pm

Monday, March 11

Clean Monday

  • Great Compline with Canon of St Andrew 7pm

Tuesday, March 12

Clean Tuesday

  • Great Compline with Canon of St Andrew 7pm

Wednesday, March 13

  • Pre-Sanctified Liturgy 7pm

Thursday, March 14

  • Great Compline with Canon of St Andrew 7pm

Friday, March 15

  • Akathist to the Mother of God 7pm

Saturday, March 16 & Sunday, March 17

  • Open House Weekend

This Week at St Thomas School

Chapter 2 VIII

How did the Church go from worshiping at the Last Supper, gathering in upper rooms, meeting in homes to magnificent churches like Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople where we find a “united liturgical organism?” In this chapter we explore different regions of the world. We observe that Christians worshiped in different types of places and structures. For example, there are very early Roman subterranean catacombs, 4th c. basilicas in Georgia, an old pre-Byzantine Syrian church called Dura-Europas, rectangular and domed Roman basilicas, Russian basilicas, and Balkan basilicas that use a mix Western and Eastern styles of architecture.

After the Arian heresy was settled in council in 381 and during the reign of Emperor Theodosius, the basilica structure flourished everywhere: Italy, Gaul, Egypt, Syria, Middle East, Asia Minor, and the Aegean islands of modern-day Greece. Whether we look at a basilica’s orientation, rooms, proportions, shape or materials, there is a connection to Scripture, Christ, and mankind. Nothing, it seems, is designed randomly for Orthodox churches. Find out why the church basilica is likened to Noah’s ship. Why else should you join us this Saturday evening? Because this chapter gives us a great start to understanding our surroundings much better when we worship, and it helps make us all more aware of the structural meaning that encompasses us during the Liturgy.

Coming Up

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: 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 week before Great Lent begins is known as Meat Fare because we abstain from all meat (however, 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 or Clean 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 (additional copies will be arriving soon) and be looking for the schedule of readings that will soon be published 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). Also, Joe Wright has graciously agreed to host the Annual Celtic Games at our parish on March 17. Those festivities will take place during Fellowship Hour, and they will include events like Caber Tossing, Snake Hurling, and The Stone Throw. There is also a Facebook announcement about that portion of the weekend; please share it widely.

There are three Saturdays of Souls each year during the Triodion and Great Lent. We have already observed one of those Saturdays; however, the same services will also be offered on March 23 and 30th. On those days, 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.

The 2019 Parish Life Conference

This year, the conference is being held at The Westin Hotel at DFW Airport, June 19-22. That’s within easy driving distance, and the website for the 2019 DOWAMA PLC is now live.  You can go to www.dowamaplc.org to access registration for the PLC as well as secure hotel rooms.

Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy

After Fellowship Hour, please remember to return all your plates and coffee cups to the kitchen in the Long Hall. The folks who serve on our Fellowship Hour Teams will have a much easier day if they do not also have to try and round up each of the plates and cups that we leave out on the picnic tables or in all the different rooms of the parish house.

Check out the blog for a column that will appear in this week’s Hill Country News: Taxes, Again.

This is the time to talk to all the folks that we are going to invite to our Open House Weekend; please know that I’m praying for each of you as you go about that important work.

An unworthy priest,