Notices

ALL SAINTS --  EXTRA SERVICES THIS WEEK

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Tomorrow,  WEDNESDAY, 29th JUNE - - DIVINE LITURGY - - SAINT PETER AND SAINT PAUL 

EVENING SERVICE -- Starts 18:00
As this holy feast falls on a working day/ school day, and to allow the faithful opportunity to attend, we will serve the Divine Liturgy in the early evening.
Refrain from food from at least mid-day if you are intending to Partake of the Holy Mysteries.

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SATURDAY, 2nd JULY - - DIVINE LITURGY - - THE HONOURABLE ROBE OF THE MOTHER OF GOD

Starts 10:20
We are deeply indebted to the servers and singers who - through great personal sacrifice - make the holy services possible.
The additional services enable us extra opportunities for worshipping God; they are offered by the priest, and servers and singers who support them, on behalf of all the people of All Saints. Come, be with us, if you are able.

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ALL SAINTS:  NOTICES --  FEAST OF ALL SAINTS OF THE BRITISH ISLES AND IRELAND, 2022
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GREETINGS, IN CHRIST
Beloved Christians,  
Saints are blessed, they attain salvation, and all exemplify the qualities which we read today in The Beatitudes. The qualities of all true Christians- meekness, gentleness, mercy, peace, undergoing persecution and enduring the cross quietly and joyfully. These are not 'magical' qualities reserved only for the few; the 'fullness of Christ' [Ephesians 3:19] and 'abundance of life' [John 10:10] may be attained by every one of us if we desire it with our whole heart and with our whole soul.
Today’s holy Gospel (Matthew 4:25-5:12a) lays out very dramatically the immense benefits of sainthood, just as today’s Epistle (Hebrews 11:33-12:2a) very powerfully sets out the high price of that discipleship.  

Those who are trapped by sin, or who are immature in their faith, or are lacking in commitment to the Christian life should listen extremely carefully to these Readings.
The first steps of sainthood begin with Holy Baptism and Chrismation, but are continued in practise, in a life of self-sacrifice and love for God, made manifest in an all-consuming loving desire to be with God, to come to the holy temple to pray and to worship. Nominal faith saves no-one.  
Our desire for God must be our first love and our one true love if we are to be admitted by God into His ineffable presence. Parents and godparents have an even greater responsibility not just for themselves but for the encouragement and nurturing of a deeply committed Orthodox Christian faith in their children. It is the content of our heart, and how we have put Christ’s teachings into practice, that is our true witness. We must give God everything and have full trust in Him, we must make a total commitment to Him if we are ever to share with the Saints in God’s countless blessings; we must endure the Cross if we, too, are to sit at the right hand of the throne of God.                      
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DIVINE LITURGY - SAINT PETER AND SAINT PAUL -- THIS WEDNESDAY, 29th JUNE
EVENING SERVICE -- Starts 18:00
The feast falls on a 'working day', 'school day'. To allow more people an opportunity to attend we will serve the Divine liturgy in the evening. Refrain from food from at least mid-day if you are intending to Partake of the Holy Mysteries.

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A DEGRADED BRITAIN

For the past one thousand years most people in Britain have been in schism, outside the fold of the Holy Church. Here, in a post-Christian and increasingly anti-Christian Britain and Ireland, we see all too clearly the consequences of the fall. Britain is the place where secularism began, where the exploitation of people for profit was perfected and where science replaced religion.  Contemporary Britain is still paying a huge price for the abject failure of the secularist-protestant social experiment.
Britain is suffering, but God is merciful. And, so, it is no accident that into the spiritual desert of secularised Britain, the Orthodox Church has been miraculously re-planted, transplanted like a tender but vigorous life-giving vine.  We in Britain are now blessed with several cathedrals, monasteries (one, just a few miles away!), clergy and monastics and holy elders, hermits living lives of hesychasm, and hundreds of thousands of faithful in dozens of communities and parishes across the land.  Glory to God for all things!  It is truly providential that fresh waves of immigrants have arrived to invigorate and re-evangelise the people of these islands, to introduce Orthodox Christianity for a third time. Clearly God has not abandoned the peoples of Britain!       

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ALL SAINTS OF THE BRITISH ISLES
In his now famous words Saint Arsenios of Paros prophesied that "The Church in the British Isles will only begin to grow when she venerates her own Saints". 
We are blessed at All Saints every year to pray the entire Litany of All the Saints of Britain and Ireland, calling upon the hundreds of saints by name, beseeching them to aid our spiritual journey. Every Sunday we call upon the prayers of all the saints of the day, asking them by name to pray for us sinners.
Let us Orthodox Christians never be part of a cultural diaspora doomed to be absorbed and digested by mainstream, secular, society. Let our passionate love, let our deep commitment to God and to our local saints mark us out, so that we may be a living eikon to the children and to all our neighbours, leading them into the loving arms of our Lord and Saviour, so that they too may become Saints of Britain. 
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'SAINTS OF BRITAIN' ≠ 'BRITISH' SAINTS

Long ago, Britain was Christian; following the faith as delivered by Christ to the apostles, the Church here was Orthodox, in full-communion with Konstantinopolis.  The Britain of the first millennium was full of saints, and their lives were full of love and faith, mercy and spiritual endeavour, self-endured poverty, often ending in bloody martyric deaths. Countless miracle-workers, ascetics, monastics, holy confessors, and pious kings and queens lived and reposed here.  Church historians inform us that during the first millennium nowhere outside the deserts of Egypt and Syria and Palestine was the ascetic life taken more seriously and pursued with such determination as it was in Ireland and the British Isles.                         Quoting from a previous homily of mine delivered on this Feast:
“...let us remember that it is not ‘British-ness’ and certainly not some flag-waving, beer swilling “Eng-er-land”, that is being celebrated here today, not some coarse tribalism or shaven-skull patriotism.  Certainly not a repulsive politics of racism or exclusion.  Far from it, xenophobia is simply another form of hatred and division.  It is sainthood- the Saintliness of those who have shone forth in the British Isles and Ireland – which we are celebrating".  
The Saints of Britain are not necessary or exclusively - or perhaps in any real sense - ‘British’ saints. Yes, many of the saints were local men and women; but many of them were not even remotely British by birth or blood or heritage: Saint Theodor was Greek, from Tarsos; Saint Adrian was African; Saint Paulinus and Saint Augustin of Canterbury were from Italy; even our national patron-saint, Saint George, does not possess one single drop of English blood- he was from the hellenic world, from what is now Turkey.  

From wherever they came – and every one of us here is ultimately from somewhere else – the saints share the same final destination: not Britain but the Kingdom of Heaven.
We who are here now are charged with a holy mission to help the Church to grow at a local level, and to give back to Britain what is hers by right: her holy Orthodox heritage.                                                                                                                                                                                       
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ANTI-BEATITUDES

When we read The Beatitudes, we should understand that their opposites are not blessed. In fact, these opposites are rejected and damned because they are those things which exclude us from God:  wealth, pride, a lack of compassion and mercy, selfishness, impurity of heart, aggression, violence. Such things, our Lord tells us, will bring their own consequences.
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THE BEATITUDES IN ENGLISH

A very quick word about the translation of today’s Gospel. We should bear in mind that the common English translations of The Beatitudes do not capture the flavour or meaning of the original. For it is not so much ‘blessed are those’ as ‘happy are those’. Unfortunately, in English the word ‘happy’ lacks the spiritual nuance of 'beatific' or 'blissful'. And neither does makarios in Greek mean 'blessed' (which would be evlogitos or evlogomenos), but rather ‘happy’ or ‘fortunate’, ‘enlarged’, ‘blissful’, ‘something to be envied’. This is not a worldly happiness but a spiritual prosperity granted by God, filled with life and joy and satisfaction in God's favour and salvation, regardless of the believer’s outward condition. Why are the poor or the meek blissful or beatific? Because they are blessed; because their poverty and meekness is blessed they are happy – so it is an objective ‘happy’, not a subjective ‘blessed’.
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PARISH RETREAT DAY
Yesterday we held our first parish Retreat Day, Day of Prayer.
This was an opportunity to gather together in prayer, to explore forms (domestic, monastic, liturgical, and communal) of prayer, and to share our struggles.
Glory to God for those who came, who helped, who prayed! According to feedback received, it was a great success! We will be repeating the prayer day in the future. A Childrens' Day (for children & their parents) will hopefully take place soon.
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ALL GLORY TO GOD!
Archimandriti Philip thanked us for the recent donation to the monastery. He writes:  "Until just now I was wondering how on earth I was going to make it to the end of the month, and saying to the Lord, "Well only You know!" It appears that He did!"  He is grateful for names of people to pray for: "Thank you! We take great delight in praying for people, and will do so with joy!"
Yesterday's Parish Retreat, Day of Prayer.
For asking the prayers of All the known Saints of these Isles, by name.
Ignatios (Elute) - providing a lift home. If you too are able, please offer displaced Ukrainian families a lift to/from All Saints.
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OUR HOLY PRAYERS

For the people of Ukraine
Serhei - returning to the front-line tomorrow
Louis, Valentina, Renos (Irenaios) & Raphael- God give them strength!
Ana Maria, Andrei & Andreas - flying tomorrow
Lucian - new job tomorrow
Rian (catechumen) - unwell
For all who serve and sing in the holy temple

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TODAY'S SAINTS
ALL SAINTS OF THE CHANNEL ISLANDS, THE ISLE OF MAN, CORNWALL,  IRELAND, SCOTLAND, WALES AND ENGLAND
Venerable David of Thessaloniki (David Dendritis) (540)
Venerable John, Bishop of Gothia in the Crimea (c. 787)
Venerable Anthion, ascetic
Saints John and Paul, martyrs who suffered in Rome. (c. 361-363)
Saint Vigilius of Trent, a Roman noble who studied in Athens, he became Bishop of Trent in Italy and more or less succeeded in uprooting paganism (405)
Saint Maxentius, Higoumen at a monastery in Poitou, France (c. 515)
Saint Barbolenus, a monk at Luxeuil Abbey and afterwards first Higoumen of S. Peter's, later Ste. Maur-des-Fossés, in the north of France (c. 677)
Saint Perseveranda, a holy virgin from Spain (c. 726)
Saints Salvius and Superius (c. 768)
Saint Corbican, born in Ireland, he lived as a hermit in the Netherlands and helped simple people (8th century)
Martyr Pelagius of Córdoba, a young boy from Asturias in Spain left as a hostage with the Moors in Cordoba (925)
Saint Hermogius, founder of Labrugia Monastery in Spanish Galicia (c. 942)
Saint Dionysios, Archbishop of Suzdal, then Metropolitan of Kiev and all Rus' (1385)
New Martyr David of St. Anne’s Skete on Mount Athos, martyred in Thessaloniki (1813)
New Hieromartyr Georg Stepanyuk, Priest (1918)
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With love in the Lord,
Father Jakob
Presbyter, All Saints

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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. ]

 

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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".

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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.

GIFTAID

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,

Father Jakob

Presbyter, All Saints North Benfleet

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