THIS SUNDAY, 21st AUGUST
08:45 - Holy temple opens for prayer. Priest and helpers arrive.
09:40 - Reading of Holy Psalms.
10:00 - Holy Baptism and Chrismation. DIVINE LITURGY follows.
To those of you helping in any way with the holy services, it is most probably superfluous to remind you to arrive early / promptly.
We - all of us - enter the holy temple showing due reverence to God; we are most especially quiet if we are arriving late (i.e., after the holy services have already started). Here, is a short extract from A Guide to Church Etiquette: How to Show Proper Respect and Reverence in Church (published by the Antiochian Archdiocese in the USA):
The Orthodox Divine Liturgy begins when the priest intones, “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We need to arrive early enough to receive this blessing. Arriving later causes a distraction for others who are praying. If an occasional problem occurs and you have to come in late, enter the church reverently and quietly.
May God bless us to do all that we are able to the Glory of His holy name.
YOUR HOLY PRAYERS
Peace in Ukraine.
Rian - Holy Baptism on Sunday; and for Konstantinos - godfather-to-be.
ALL GLORY TO GOD!
Susannah - for baking prosfora.
With love and prayers, in Christ God,
Father Jakob (sinner and unworthy Presbyter)
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FALLING-ASLEEP OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, 2022
Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. The 'Dormition' – Falling-Asleep – is the final Great Feast of the Church year, the feast which crowns the Church Year.
Today is a Feast not only of Christ or His holy Mother, but of all human nature. In the Panagia human nature reaches its apogee, its height and absolute goal. It is no accident that today's Feast follows so soon after the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Tabor, for today is also a feast of a transfigured and deified humanity.
Our Lord’s flesh was entirely and solely that of His Holy Mother. She, it was, who suckled Him, fed Him, sheltered Him, nourished and raised Him. However, the greatness of the Holy Virgin resides ultimately not in Her personal will. That She was chosen to be the vessel of His Incarnation was no choice of Hers; it was in Her acceptance that she is uniquely blessed. In her hearing and accepting the Word of God. Yes, She is blessed because She carried our Saviour in her womb, but above all She is blessed because She was to a unique degree obedient and faithful. As Her Son says, in today’s Holy Gospel (Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28), when the woman points out that “Blessed is the womb that you and the breasts that fed you”, He replies, and it is to us He also speaks: “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” In her blessedness, the Holy Mother of God gains a special victory over death. She was in the same way as Her Son – perhaps not to the same degree - glorified in Her body. It is in this glorification in Her soul and body which constitutes the object of today’s Feast.
YOUR HOLY PRAYERS
For peace in Ukraine.
Anna, Christos, Thalis, Mixhailis, Thomas; Tom - unwell.
Efyenia, Aleksandr, Artemiy - travelling.
Simona, Lucian, Evelyn - travelling.
Daniel - travelling (tomorrow; away for three weeks).
Rian - Holy Baptism on Sunday, 21st Aug.; and for Konstantinos, godfather-to-be.
ALL GLORY TO GOD!
Father Jakob, Presbytera Susanna, Lucy - recovering from illness.
Katerine, Ignatios - many years!
Crina - for gift of a holy eikon
Penelopa - for eikon, charcoal, incense
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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 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 IERUSALEM*
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