ALL SAINTS: NOTICES -- HOLY FATHERS OF THE SEVENTH OECUMENICAL COUNCIL, 2021
GREETINGS, IN CHRIST!
Today’s Holy Gospel (Luke 8:5-15) is one which we are so used to that we sometimes fail to see precisely the conditions necessary for successful spiritual germination and growth.
The conditions of the 'soil' represent the conditions which are necessary for true spiritual life. The 'thorns' are the distractions and temptations of this world. Sometimes these temptations might in themselves not appear to be dangerous (such things as sport, music, novels, food, television), but these will just as easily drive us far from God as any other more obviously reprehensible but no less selfish act or desire.
Those who think that they make up the good soil should note that success in the spiritual life comes only from continuous effort, co-operation with God, continuous regulation of appetite, patient effort, stability, and the daily medication of prayer and humility. In other words, as the Desert Fathers knew from first-hand experience, no success is possible in the spiritual life without asceticism. Without asceticism we will be unable ever to develop roots, let alone cultivate the soil of our soul or even begin to cut back the choking thorns.
ORTHODOXY 101: PARABLES
In today's Holy Gospel, Christ explains only to His disciples, and not to the crowd (the mob), that the parabolic idea of the seed represents the Word of God.
We exist in a state of what we might term 'expectant ignorance'. Being more firmly bound to worldliness than the saints, we are knowing / experiencing far, far less than the saints... We approach the Church, the clergy, and all holy things with fear and humility, leaving anger, judgment ,accusation and all self-indulgence at arm's length: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news' (Romans 10:15).
Christ our God understands our poverty, and in His limitless beneficence gives us EVERYTHING. Some, perhaps much, of our life will be a struggle. All Glory to God! Such struggles enable us to be purified so that within us is developed a deep and pure heart.
With purification of heart we move beyond the parables to the Truth, then will our faith move from theoretical to the experiential: 'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God' (Matthew 5:8).
The use by our Lord of parables is an action of love; by not making things transparent He does not imperil those who are not yet ready to hear. Thus He veils so that others ‘seeing might not see, and hearing might not hear’. This is not rejection and condemnation of others, of those to whom it is not given to ‘know the Kingdom of God’. On the contrary, it is so that those who are not yet ready may understand only in a outward, literal, way.
ORTHODOXY 101: THE SEVENTH OECUMENICAL COUNCIL
The Church has fought endless battles to protect and pass on the Truth.
It was at Nikaia in AD 787, at the Seventh Oecumenical Council, whose Fathers we commemorate today, that the Church anathematised those who defame and reject holy eikons.
Let it be made crystal clear-- the Holy Church has never worshipped eikons.
Holy eikons are venerated, and the veneration passed on through the material medium (ink, paint, wood, paper) to the holy person depicted.
In protecting the veneration of holy eikons, the Fathers protect the precious seed of Truth – the veracity of the Incarnation of our Lord, He who is both perfect man and perfect God, so that we – the soil - might be protected from pollution. And in so doing, that we might be a holy remnant, a precious gift, a shelter to others and to the world.
AN ENGLISH WRITER ON 'LIGHT'
How then does light return to the world after the eclipse of the sun? Miraculously. Frailly. In thin stripes. It hangs like a glass cage. It is a hoop to be fractured by a tiny jar. There is a spark there. Next moment a flush of dun. Then a vapour as if earth were breathing in and out, once, twice, for the first time. Then under the dullness someone walks with a green light. Then off twists a white wraith. The woods throb blue and green, and gradually the fields drink in red, gold, brown. Suddenly a river snatches a blue light. The earth absorbs colour like a sponge slowly drinking water. It puts on weight; rounds itself; hangs pendent; settles and swings beneath our feet.
- Virginia Woolf, The Waves (1931)
LES MOTS TROUVÉS - WORDS OF THREE JAPANESE WRITERS
Which do you suppose is the accident - when something hits you or when it misses?
- Abé Kōbō
The light they provided was small, but certainly it was there, shining deep in the city.
A light made visible by the dark.
If the darkness is deep enough, even the briefest light leaves a brilliant afterglow.
- Ōhara Mariko
The people of Hiroshima went to work at once to restore human society in the aftermath of the great atomic flood. They were concerned to salvage their own lives, but in the process they also salvaged the souls of the people who had brought the atomic bomb.
- Ōe Kenzaburō
ALL GLORY TO GOD!
Valeriya - unharmed after a bus crash
Dimitra - baked a prosforon
Presbytera Maria - for gifts to Father Jakob
Anamaria - for cake and drinks
Birthdays: James (6), Andrada (8), Andrei (35), Lucy (21) - happy birthday! Many Years!
YOUR HOLY PRAYERS
Ecaterina - (young child), her heart pacemaker is malfunctioning
Milena - terminal stages of cancer
Vasile - suffered a stroke
Marioara, Maria, Gheorghe, Constantin, Ioana, Lucica, Viorica - unwell
Elute - on his journey to becoming a catechumen. Also, he is moving home on Friday!
Imoye - unwell
Christos - back pain
Louis - undertaking essential work
Sir David Amess - a local Member of Parliament, who many of us knew personally or had met. A decent and reasonable man, a practicing Roman Catholic, he was murdered in a frenzied knife attack whilst he was serving the community with love and humility.
Constantinos (recently reposed) - memory eternal!
HOLY FATHERS OF THE SEVENTH OECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Prophet Hosea (820 BC)
Holy Martyrs and Unmercenary Physicians Kosmas and Damian, and their brothers, martyrs Leontios, Anthimos, and Eftropios, and 15 Holy Unmercenaries with them, in Kilikia (4th century)
Saints Antigonos, Loukianos, Terentios, Nikomedes and Theophanis
Saints Isidora and Neophytos
Martyr Queen Shushanik [Susanna] of Georgia (475)
Hieromartyr Andreas of Crete (767)
Saint Ignatios the God-bearer, Bishop of Antioch (107)
Saint Solina, martyred in Chartres (c. 290)
Saint Regulus, who brought the holy relics of Saint Andrew to Scotland (4th century)
Saint Florentius, Bishop of Orange in the south of France (c. 526)
Saint Victor, Bishop of Capua in Italy (554)
Saint Colmán of Kilroot, disciple of Saint Ailbe of Emly, Bishop of Kilroot near Carrickfergus in Ireland (6th century)
Saint Louthiern, born in Ireland, patron-saint of St Ludgran in Cornwall (6th century)
Martyrs Æthelred and Æthelberht, Princes of Kent, their holy relics were formerly venerated at Great Wakering near Southend in Essex (c. 640)
Saint Berarius, Bishop of Le Mans in France (c. 680)
Saint Anstrudis of Laon (688)
Saint Nothhelm, Archbishop of Canterbury (739)
Martyr Kozman [Kosmas], of Georgia
Venerable Anthony, founder of Leokhnov Monastery, Novgorod (1611)
Saint Ioseb [Jandierishvili] the Wonderworker, Katholicos of Georgia (1770)
New Hieromartyrs Neophyt [Lyubimov] and Anatoly [Ivanovsky], Priests (1918)
New Monk-martyrs Hyakinthos [Pitatelev] and Kallistos [Oparin], of the Saint Nikolai Monastery, Verkhoturye (1918)
New Hieromartyr Aleksandr [Shchukin], Archbishop of Semipalatinsk (1937)
(saints in bold = 'local to All Saints'- i.e., within a few hundred km)
With love and prayers, in Christ God,
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LOOKING AHEAD -- TWELVE GREAT FEASTS
To help you plan ahead, for those of you who are able to take time off work, etc., here are the dates of GREAT FEASTS for the year ahead.
These are dates upon which we should try to be in Church (sadly, many of us do not always have this choice).
These are days upon which the Divine Liturgy should be served at All Saints. Servers, singers, helpers- please do what you're able.
14th SEPTEMBER -- EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
21st NOVEMBER -- ENTRY OF THE THEOTOKOS INTO THE TEMPLE
25th DECEMBER -- NATIVITY OF CHRIST
6th JANUARY -- HOLY THEOPHANY
2nd FEBRUARY -- PRESENTATION OF OUR LORD IN THE TEMPLE
25th MARCH -- HOLY ANNUNCIATION
17th APRIL -- ENTRY OF OUR LORD INTO IERUSALM*
24th APRIL -- HOLY PASCHA*
2nd JUNE -- HOLY ASCENSION*
12th JUNE -- HOLY PENTEKOST*
6th AUGUST -- HOLY TRANSFIGURATION
15th AUGUST -- HOLY DORMITION
[ * The dates of these feasts vary from year to year. ]
ORTHODOXY 101 : ATTENDING THE DIVINE LITURGY
Christianity is experiential; it is not just 'read about', it must be lived. The Holy Eucharist is at the centre of our worship, at the centre of our Life in Christ.
We come to the Church, we remain in the Church in order that our souls be saved. That is all. It is our soul's salvation - there is nothing else.
The Holy Services are a store-house of spiritual treasures. To be saved, we need to gain knowledge of ourselves. We do this by discovering our sins and weaknesses, and by fighting against their pull. Our faith is war on personal pride. When our pride is wounded in the course of Church life, we should thank God!
We fight best when we are supported. For support we have the Holy Gospels; the Holy Fathers, their Lives and Teachings; we have God and we have each other.
The Church Community (both living and departed) is our Family in Christ. Our God is LOVE. And we are giving of our best, when we give love to God and to each other.
The Holy Eucharist is the body and Blood of Christ. It is life itself, it is Salvation. It is our treasure: "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also"(Matthew 6:21). We spend time with - we are attentive to - the people, the things we love the most.
Canon LXXX (Sixth Oecumenical Council) reads, "A cleric or layman shall not go three consecutive Sundays without attending church, unless some necessary business requires him to leave his town. The usual penalties apply: deposition for a cleric; excommunication for a layman".
It is not always possible to come to every holy service, but our good practice, and simple good manners, is to notify the priest of our absence, or if we have moved away. Notification demonstrates love and humility, and allows the priest and community to pray for us, for example - when we are sick.
We pray for those who are absent from the divine services for legitimate reasons. The others, who come infrequently or have not attended for long periods, have become prodigal sons, wanderers. They have distanced themselves from Christ and from their Christian family. Their love has become luke-warm. A full and proper return to Church requires a full and proper repentance, taking responsibility for our failings.
Church life is about responsibility. It is about stepping up and being adult. This is done by singing, standing throughout the holy services, fasting, making regular confession, reading in Church, serving, cleaning and tidying, cooking, reading the morning and evening prayers every day, preparing properly for confession and communion. Above all it is about praying.
To be blunt, Church (parish) life is about giving time and money to the glory of God. Church life is about commitment. Without commitment, we will never become deeply Orthodox or even remain Orthodox.
Love of God and love of neighbour are entwined. We cannot love God if we do not love our neighbours, especially our fellow Christians; and we cannot love our neighbours if we do not love God (1 John 4:20).
We spend time with God, we spend time with each other. We do so not because we feel 'obliged' or even because we 'want to' but simply because our heart draws us, and we follow Christ's new commandment (Luke 10:27): "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself".
AΓAΠH = CARITAS = CHARITY = LOVE
John 4:16: Ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη (koine Greek) = Deus caritas est (Latin) = God is Love (English)
GIVING TO OTHERS
All glory to God! Our small parish has been able in little ways to help the poor, offer love to the stranger, to help heal the wounded.
This past year we received £2,000 back from the UK government. Our parish trustees have authorised this and future monies raised through giftaid to be passed on to our poorer neighbours. If more of us donated by giftaid we could do even more to help the poor, the wounded, and the marginalised who are our neighbours.
'HOW CAN I HELP?'
Every penny helps! Donate to our parish via gift aid. If you pay tax in the UK you can use giftaid. It's free, it's easy, and as you can see above, it helps us to help others. The UK government pays us back for what you give to us via gftaid. This is the only official help that UK charities receive.
Our hope and ambition is that every penny given to us by you comes through giftaid.
LAZAROS, OUR NEIGHBOUR
The dying Lazaros is lying outside our door (Luke 16:20). We Christians have a duty of care (John 21:17), this is a constant in our life (Matthew 26:11), we must not ignore him (1 John 3:17). Let us do all that we are able to help to help our neighbour (John 15:12). May I ask you - please make a start, and donate to the parish by giftaid.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
In the Risen Lord,
Presbyter, All Saints North Benfleet
SERVICES DURING COVID-19:
*** THE HOLY TEMPLE IS OPEN FROM 9:00 FOR PRAYER ***
ORTHROS [Matins] Starts at 09:30.
DIVINE LITURGY [Holy Eucharist] Starts at 10:30.
We observe social-distancing; face coverings must be worn. Stewards (our trustees) might have to show you where to stand/sit. Households must stay together. Limited numbers admitted.
Welcome to the website of All Saints' Orthodox Church, Basildon, Essex.
Our congregation is diverse in terms of background and nationality and age; we are thoroughly multi-cultural, have many young families, and are a lively and friendly parish. We very much welcome visitors and all enquirers who are eager to learn about the Orthodox Christian faith. We look forward to meeting you soon!
Please use the links above to navigate the site.
Please see the services page for details of services.
IN NON-COVID TIMES:
*** THE HOLY TEMPLE IS OPEN FROM 09:00 FOR PRAYER ***
ORTHROS [Matins] Starts at 09:30.
DIVINE LITURGY [Holy Eucharist] Starts at 10:30.
Fellowship and refreshment follow the holy services.
*** THE HOLY TEMPLE IS OPEN FROM 09:30 FOR PRAYER ***
THIRD HOUR and SIXTH HOUR, or AKATHIST Starts at 10:30.
Followed by Catechesis, Confession and cleaning the Holy Temple.
SATURDAY (usually, last Saturday in the month):
*** THE HOLY TEMPLE IS OPEN IN THE AFTERNOON FOR PRAYER ***
ESPERINOS [Vespers] starts at 4:30pm.
SATURDAY (First in the month):
*** at Our Lady Star of the Sea, 96 Dock Road, Tilbury, Essex, RM18 7BT ***
DIVINE LITURGY [Holy Eucharist] Starts around 10:20.