Below are links to the Paschal Pastoral Letter from His Grace, Bishop Alexander. The first link is in English, the second is in Bulgarian and the third is in Romanian:
St. Elia will celebrate this Holy Day with Vesperal Divine Liturgy the evening of JAN 29 @ 6 PM.
Remember that if you wish to receive Holy Communion, fasting hours commence at noon.
SEE YOU IN CHURCH!
Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom: During the eleventh century, disputes raged in Constantinople about which of the three hierarchs was the greatest. Some preferred St Basil (January 1), others honored St Gregory the Theologian (January 25), while a third group exalted St John Chrysostom (November 13).
Dissension among Christians increased. Some called themselves Basilians, others referred to themselves as Gregorians, and others as Johnites.
By the will of God, the three hierarchs appeared to St John the Bishop of Euchaita (June 14) in the year 1084, and said that they were equal before God. “There are no divisions among us, and no opposition to one another.”
They ordered that the disputes should stop, and that their common commemoration should be celebrated on a single day. Bishop John chose January 30 for their joint Feast, thus ending the controversy and restoring peace.
Let us who love their words gather together / and honor with hymns the three great torch-bearers of the triune Godhead: / Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. / These men have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines. / They are sweetly-flowing rivers of wisdom / filling all creation with springs of heavenly knowledge. / Ceaselessly they intercede for us before the Holy Trinity!
O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest / and to the enjoyment of Your blessings / the divinely-inspired heralds, the greatest of Your teachers, / for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, / for You alone are glorified in Your saints!
*Some information posted has come from the official website of the OCA.
Join in the Fall festivities after we celebrate Divine Liturgy on Sunday, October 27!!!
Our Fall Luncheon will consist of Sloppy Joe sandwiches, chips/snacks, beverages, & desserts etc.
After eating, all are welcome to participate in our annual Trunk-or-Treat! Everyone is asked to please bring a treat to share. Non-scary costumes are welcome! We cannot wait to see the creativity of the children (and some adults) of our parish!
Commemorated on October 1
The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos: “Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, Since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!”
This miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-tenth century in Constantinople, in the Blachernae church where her robe, veil, and part of her belt were preserved after being transferred from Palestine in the fifth century.
On Sunday, October 1, during the All Night Vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ St Andrew (October 2), at the fourth hour, lifted up his eyes towards the heavens and beheld our most Holy Lady Theotokos coming through the air, resplendent with heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. St John the Baptist and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knees the Most Holy Virgin tearfully prayed for Christians for a long time. Then, coming near the Bishop’s Throne, she continued her prayer.
After completing her prayer she took her veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun.” St Andrew gazed trembling at the miraculous vision and he asked his disciple, the blessed Epiphanius standing beside him, “Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?” Epiphanius answered, “I do see, holy Father, and I am in awe.”
The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people calling on His Most Holy Name, and to respond speedily to her intercession, “O Heavenly King, accept all those who pray to You and call on my name for help. Do not let them not go away from my icon unheard.”
Sts Andrew and Epiphanius were worthy to see the Mother of God at prayer, and “for a long time observed the Protecting Veil spread over the people and shining with flashes of glory. As long as the Most Holy Theotokos was there, the Protecting Veil was also visible, but with her departure it also became invisible. After taking it with her, she left behind the grace of her visitation.”
At the Blachernae church, the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God was remembered. In the fourteenth century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Alexander, saw in the church an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos praying for the world, depicting St Andrew in contemplation of her.
The Primary Chronicle of St Nestor reflects that the protective intercession of the Mother of God was needed because an attack of a large pagan Russian fleet under the leadership of Askole and Dir. The feast celebrates the divine destruction of the fleet which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867 or according to the Russian historian Vasiliev, on June 18, 860. Ironically, this Feast is considered important by the Slavic Churches but not by the Greeks.
The Primary Chronicle of St Nestor also notes the miraculous deliverance followed an all-night Vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother of God into the waters of the sea at the Blachernae church, but does not mention Sts Andrew and Epiphanius and their vision of the Mother of God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the celebrating of the Feast of the Protection, seem to postdate St Nestor and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted under (October 2) dating St Andrew’s death to the year 936.
The year of death might not be quite reliable, or the assertion that he survived to a ripe old age after the vision of his youth, or that his vision involved some later pagan Russian raid which met with the same fate. The suggestion that St Andrew was a Slav (or a Scythian according to other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) is interesting, but not necessarily accurate. The extent of Slavic expansion and repopulation into Greece is the topic of scholarly disputes.
In the PROLOGUE, a Russian book of the twelfth century, a description of the establishment of the special Feast marking this event states, “For when we heard, we realized how wondrous and merciful was the vision… and it transpired that Your holy Protection should not remain without festal celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!”
Therefore, in the festal celebration of the Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church sings, “With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the Hieromartyrs and Hierarchs, pray for us sinners, glorifying the Feast of your Protection in the Russian Land.” Moreover, it would seem that St Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision was a Slav, was taken captive, and became the slave of the local inhabitant of Constantinople named Theognostus.
Churches in honor of the Protection of the Mother of God began to appear in Russia in the twelfth century. Widely known for its architectural merit is the temple of the Protection at Nerl, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky. The efforts of this holy prince also established in the Russian Church the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, about the year 1164.
At Novgorod in the twelfth century there was a monastery of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (the so-called Zverin monastery) In Moscow also under Tsar Ivan the Terrible the cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God was built at the church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of St Basil the Blessed).
On the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we implore the defense and assistance of the Queen of Heaven, “Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we not perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and venerating the Feast of your Protection, we magnify you.”
*All information submitted is from the oca.org website.
|This weekly bulletin insert complements the curriculum published by the Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America. This and many other Christian Education resources are available at http://dce.oca.org.|
|Two Scripture readings for October 4th tell us that we need to decide, as people called to follow Christ, what we will do when the time to follow actually comes.
The Gospel reading is Luke 7: 31-35. These are Jesus’ words, comparing the people who reject Him to two groups of children who refuse to agree on how to play together. Each group insists that the game they play must be the one they have chosen. They can’t adapt themselves to play the game chosen by the others.
The people of this generation, Christ goes on to say, are much like those children. When John the Baptist preached among them, they dismissed his self-discipline and fasting–“neither eating bread nor drinking wine,”–as too severe. So, they said, it must be the work of a demon.
But when they saw another kind of living practiced by the Son of Man, they didn’t like that either, for the opposite reason. Jesus “has come eating and drinking” and so they call Him a glutton and a drunkard. They add to this another charge that apparently strikes them as going right along with gluttony and drunkenness: He is a “friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
Jesus assures His listeners, though, that “wisdom is justified by all her children.” No matter what criticisms people may dream up to reject John and the Son of Man, they both are doing God’s work, and the fruits of that work will become evident. The faith will spread, the numbers of disciples will grow, and those who have made up their minds to follow Christ will know that He is the Truth.
An epistle reading for this day is Galatians 4: 8-21. Paul agonizes as he asks a question of the Galatians. Before they knew God, they were in “bondage to beings that by nature are no gods.” But “…now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
Paul makes a specific complaint: “You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years.” He is addressing Christians still young in the faith. They are being urged by certain teachers to go back to the Old Testament calendar, and to observe the Jewish laws that go with it. Paul wants them to remember, instead, how joyfully they responded when he preached the Gospel to them. They received him “as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.”
But now, cajoled by false teachers, they are hostile to him. “What has become of the satisfaction you felt?” he asks in bewilderment. What has become of the faithfulness to the Gospel they once made up their minds to live by?
Jesus wants His hearers not to manufacture reasons to reject the truth. Paul wants his hearers not to turn back from the faith he preached. It’s time for all of them, and all of us, to make up our minds and follow.
The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: The pagan Roman emperors tried to completely eradicate from human memory the holy places where our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was resurrected for mankind. The Emperor Hadrian (117-138) gave orders to cover over the ground of Golgotha and the Sepulchre of the Lord, and to build a temple of the pagan goddess Venus and a statue of Jupiter.
Pagans gathered at this place and offered sacrifice to idols there. Eventually after 300 years, by Divine Providence, the great Christian sacred remains, the Sepulchre of the Lord and the Life-Creating Cross were again discovered and opened for veneration. This took place under the Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) after his victory in the year 312 over Maxentius, ruler of the Western part of the Roman empire, and over Licinius, ruler of its Eastern part. In the year 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire.
In 313 he had issued the Edict of Milan, by which the Christian religion was legalized and the persecutions against Christians in the Western half of the empire were stopped. The ruler Licinius, although he had signed the Edict of Milan to oblige Constantine, still fanatically continued the persecutions against Christians. Only after his conclusive defeat did the 313 Edict of toleration extend also to the Eastern part of the empire. The Holy Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine, having gained victory over his enemies in three wars with God’s assistance, had seen in the heavens the Sign of the Cross, and written beneath: “By this you shall conquer.”
Ardently desiring to find the Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, St Constantine sent his mother, the pious Empress Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, providing her with a letter to St Macarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Although the holy empress Helen was already in her declining years, she set about completing the task with enthusiasm. The empress gave orders to destroy the pagan temple and the statues in Jerusalem. Searching for the Life-Creating Cross, she made inquiry of Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful.
Finally, they directed her to a certain elderly Hebrew by the name of Jude who stated that the Cross was buried where the temple of Venus stood. They demolished the pagan temple and, after praying, they began to excavate the ground. Soon the Tomb of the Lord was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body (March 6).
In order to discern on which of the three crosses the Savior was crucified, Patriarch Macarius alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched the dead one, he came to life. Having beheld the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-Creating Cross was found.
Christians came in a huge throng to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching St Macarius to elevate the Cross, so that even those far off might reverently contemplate it. Then the Patriarch and other spiritual leaders raised up the Holy Cross, and the people, saying “Lord have mercy,” reverently prostrated before the Venerable Wood. This solemn event occurred in the year 326.
During the discovery of the Life-Creating Cross another miracle took place: a grievously sick woman, beneath the shadow of the Holy Cross, was healed instantly. The elder Jude and other Jews there believed in Christ and accepted Holy Baptism. Jude received the name Cyriacus and afterwards was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem.
During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) he accepted a martyr’s death for Christ (see October 28). The holy empress Helen journeyed to the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior, building more than 80 churches, at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and where the Mother of God was buried after her death.
St Helen took part of the Life-Creating Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. The holy emperor Constantine gave orders to build at Jerusalem a majestic and spacious church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The temple was constructed in about ten years. St Helen did not survive until the dedication of the temple, she died in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross was established.
Another event connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its return to Jerusalem from Persia after a fourteen year captivity. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Phocas (602-610) the Persian emperor Khozroes II in a war against the Greeks defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem and captured both the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord and the Holy Patriarch Zachariah (609-633).
The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years and only under the emperor Heraclius (610-641), who with the help of God defeated Khozroes and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Cross of the Lord returned to the Christians.
With great solemnity the Life-creating Cross was transferred to Jerusalem. Emperor Heraclius in imperial crown and royal purple carried the Cross of Christ into the temple of the Resurrection. With the emperor went Patriarch Zacharios. At the gates by which they ascended Golgotha, the emperor suddenly stopped and was not able to proceed farther. The holy Patriarch explained to the emperor that an angel of the Lord was blocking his way. The emperor was told to remove his royal trappings and to walk barefoot, since He Who bore the Cross for the salvation of the world from sin had made His way to Golgotha in all humility. Then Heraclius donned plain garb, and without further hindrance, carried the Cross of Christ into the church.
In a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross, St Andrew of Crete (July 4) says: “The Cross is exalted, and everything true gathers together, the Cross is exalted, and the city makes solemn, and the people celebrate the feast”.
*All information submitted is from the oca.org website.
It’s almost that time again! This Lent, join the St. Elia Prayer Group as we once again unite to pray the Psalms together throughout the fast, which for Orthodox Christians begins this year on March 18. You do not need to be a member of St. Elia Akron to join. All you need is a Bible and a little bit of time to set aside each day.
The prayer group also offers the opportunity for us to pray for one another, for our parish, and for any special intentions any of us may have. To find out more details, visit the Lenten Prayer Group page.
To join the group, all you need to do is complete the online sign-up form by Sunday, March 17. An e-mail will be sent to you with all the details of which Psalms to pray each day, and the names of everyone else in the group so that you can include them in your prayers.
Please share this information with friends and relatives and invite them to join as well!
May God bless us as we pray the Psalms together, and may He draw us nearer to Himself and to one another during this Lent. Have a blessed 40 days!
Dearly Beloved in the Lord:
As we make our way into the civil New Year, we continue to grieve over the tragic loss of the innocent lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Those directly affected by this most recent act of violence, as well as those who have suffered through the many other examples of inhuman brutality during the past year, undoubtedly will require a long period during which they can find healing for their broken hearts and answers to their questions concerning the providence of God and the goodness of humanity.
Our society is increasingly weary of the sting of death and human sin and wary of the proclamations of hope and life coming from religious circles. Young people, unconvinced by shallow theology and hypocritical sermonizing, are increasingly identifying themselves as unbelievers, atheists, questioners or simply confused. People of all ages are losing faith or becoming critical of it, in part because they do not seem to find a satisfactory Christian response to tragedies such as the Newtown and Aurora massacres.
As Orthodox Christians, we too dwell under the shadow cast by every assault on the sanctity of human life, whether it be against the unborn, the infirm, the terminally ill, the condemned, or innocent school children. We, too, wrestle with the same questions with which society wrestles, since every one of us faces the same reality of death. But unlike those who have no hope, we know that, just when death seems to have gained the victory, life blossoms forth, as seen most clearly in Christ’s arising from the tomb on the third day.
The same paschal confirmation of death being swallowed up by life is revealed in our most recent celebration of the feasts of the Nativity and Theophany of Christ. The months of December and January are the richest in commemorations of some of the most venerable saints of the Church: Prophets and Ancestors who pave the way for the birth of the Savior and Hierarchs, Confessors and Monastics who shine with the glory that was revealed at His baptism. But no less proclaimers of His glory and His life are the martyrs, including those little ones who suffered incomprehensibly—the Holy Innocents.
We proclaim, as Orthodox Christians, that all life is a participation in and reflection of the One Who is Life Itself. And we do so, even in the midst of the insanity of this world, knowing that human passions and human sin may cause destruction in our communities. But Christ Himself, by His example of voluntary suffering, reminds us that we have our part to play in proclaiming life. If we are to transform the collective heart and mind of our society, we must begin by transforming our own hearts and minds.
Heeding the Gospel, let us remain faithful to the vision of human life as a sacred gift, recommitting ourselves to defending the lives “of all mankind,” as we pray at every Divine Liturgy. And let us commit ourselves to bearing witness to the life of Christ in all we do, say and think, so that even in small ways, we might proclaim the glory of the Kingdom not yet fully revealed, but already fully present in our midst.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
The St. Elia parish family celebrated the blessing of the waters at the Ohio-Erie Towpath Canal in Akron on Sunday, Jan. 6, for the feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. An ice cross was placed in the water during the singing of the troparion. A covered dish meal followed in the parish hall.
by St. Proclus of Constantinople
Our father among the saints, Proclus, was noted for his prayerful life and that he studied the Holy Scripture. He became a reader at an early age. He was a disciple of John Chrysostom and was ordained a deacon and priest by him. From the great saint, Proclus received a profound understanding of Holy Scripture and learned to present his thoughts in a polished form. In 429, he preached his famous sermon on Incarnation and defended the title of the “Theotokos” before Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, himself. This sermon was later made part of the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, at which Nestorius was deposed. It was during the time of Proclus that the Trisagion prayers came into use.
Christ appeared in the world, and, bringing beauty out of disarray, gave it luster and joy. He bore the world’s sins and crushed the world’s enemy. He sanctified the fountains of waters and enlightened the minds of men. Into the fabric of miracles he interwove ever greater miracles.
For on this day land and sea share between them the grace of the Savior, and the whole world is filled with joy.
Today’s feast of the Theophany manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas.
On the feast of the Savior’s birth, the earth rejoiced because it bore the Lord in a manger; but on today’s feast of the Epiphany it is the sea that is glad and leaps for joy; the sea is glad because it receives the blessing of holiness in the river Jordan.
At Christmas we saw a weak baby, giving proof of our weakness.
In today’s feast, we see a perfect man, hinting at the perfect Son who proceeds from the all-perfect Father.
At Christmas the King puts on the royal robe of his body; at Epiphany the very source enfolds and, as it were, clothes the river.
Come then and see new and astounding miracles: the Sun of righteousness washing in the Jordan, fire immersed in water, God sanctified by the ministry of man.
Today every creature shouts in resounding song:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Blessed is he who comes in every age, for this is not his first coming.
And who is he? Tell us more clearly, I beg you, blessed David:
The Lord is God and has shone upon us.
David is not alone in prophesying this; the apostle Paul adds his own witness, saying:
The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all men, and instructing us. Not for some men, but for all. To Jews and Greeks alike God bestows salvation through baptism, offering baptism as a common grace for all.
Come, consider this new and wonderful deluge, greater and more important than the flood of Noah’s day. Then the water of the flood destroyed the human race, but now the water of Baptism has recalled the dead to life by the power of the one who baptized.
In the days of the flood the dove with an olive branch in its beak foreshadowed the fragrance of the good odor of Christ the Lord; now the Holy Spirit, coming in the likeness of a dove reveals the Lord of mercy.
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