When can we open our church?
Dear Ones in Christ,
We can expect to consider opening our churches in the Boston Deanery gradually, once the numbers of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths significantly decrease and remain at lowering levels. This is the almost unanimous consensus of Orthodox Church in America clergy in the Diocese of New England. Taking into account the current levels of these numbers in Massachusetts, the age make-up of our parish, the number of parishioners with pre-exisiting conditions, the number of small children, the tight space of our temple, and the complexities involving mitigation implementation, our Parish Council Members and I feel it is safer for us all to wait until the end of July before considering opening. If we act prematurely, we might easily find ourselves at the same place we were three months ago. Things will definately get better. This entire situation will one day be behind us. As for now, the safety and health of ourselves, of others and of our surrounding communities are most important for us. When the time does come for us to start opening, the prescribed measures of mitigation will not only make us feel safe but will actually keep us safe. When and how this opening can happen His Beatitude, Metropolitan TIKHON, is leaving to the discretion of each parish under the guidance of its pastor and parish council, but only after receiving his hierarchical blessing. We will review this question again at our June council meeting.
If you would like to know the detailed guidelines on the opening of our churches, please consult the OCA website at www.oca.org.
Catherine and Members of the Parish Council
Note: Please continue to visit this website for current updates regarding COVID-19 and opening St. Mark
In these times of uncertainty, is is well to remember that there is a time for everything and to everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8):
A time to give birth
And a time to die;
A time to plant
And a time to pluck what is planted.
A time to kill
And a time to heal;
A time to pull down
And a time to build up.
A time to weep
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn
And a time to dance.
A time to throw stones;
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace
And a time to refrain from embracing.
A time to seek
And a time to lose;
A time to keep
And a time to throw away.
A time to tear
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silent
And a time to speak.
A time to love
And a time to hate;
A time of war
And a time of peace.
"Fear not, for I am with you. Do not go astray, for I am your God who strenthens you; and I will help and secure you with my righteous hand." (Isaiah 41:10). Above all else, is it good to remember He is always in our midst.
A Message from Fr. John:
In our tradition, there is fasting before reception of the Eucharist, and fasting from the Eucharist. Everyone knows of fasting in preparation to approach the Holy Chalice: eating and drinking nothing from midnight, observing the weekly fasts of Wednesday and Friday, frequenting Confession, reciting the "Prayers of Preparation" and so on. Fasting from the Eucharist means not approaching the Chalice for any number of reasons, i.e., work responsiblities, illness, lack of prepartion, grave sin, not going to Confession and so on. We are now practicing "Fasting from the Eucharist" because of the suspension of Eucharistic celebrations. For all of us, it is a difficult condition. But, for whatever reason, it is an unusual discipline placed on us for an indeterminate period of time. But, I believe that because of our present obedience, we will be rewarded with great joy at the next opportunity to return to receiving the Holy Gifts from the Lord. In the meantime, we continue to pray, read parts of the Lenten services, study Holy Scripture, and continue to grow in our "cells" or "prayer closets." At this time, we learn patience. I am reminded of the faithful people of Alaska in the 19th century who had no Eucharistic celebrations for decades, yet, still continued private and public prayer; that is why in the Aleut tradition, the tonsured Reader was referred to as the "second priest" because he read Hours, Typica, Matins every Sunday. Due to the pandemic, it may be very difficult for many to sustain the restrictions of the Great Fast. Therefore, as parish Confessor, I am blessing you to do whatever is possible. I am not trying to undermine what you have already put into practice; however, there are shopping restrictions. And, if you cannot abstain from certain foods, double your time in Scripture reading, attend the "virtual" worship cycle on the internet, and keep faithful to your daily prayer rule.
Prayer in Time of Affliction
O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in thine ineffable goodness, look down upon us, they people gathered in thy Holy Name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. Thou knowest our weakness. Thou hearest our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the Corona Virus. Send thine angle to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians and preserve those who are healthy. Enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we may glorify thy most honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto agest of ages. Amen.
Sunday, June 7 - Holy Pentecost
In the Church's annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is "the last and great day." It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end - the achievement and fulfillment - of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the "birthday" of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.
This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7x7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the "day without evening" of God's eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to "appropriate" these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.
To read more about Holy Pentecost, please visit Lives of the Saints for June 7 on the OCA Website
Please remember in your prayers: ill & shut in: Ramon, Archpriest Marc, George, Gina, Paula & Jeff, Alban, Mat. Eleanor, Priest Antony, Kh. Diana, Eugenia, Lydia, Reader George, Mat. Irene, Gregory, Alexandra; the kidnapped Hierarchs Metropolitan Paul & Archbishop John; the suffering Christians of Egypt and Syria; those who suffer from terrorist attacks, fires, storms, floods, earthquakes, and pestilences; Catechumen: Daniel; newly-departed Annabel, newly-departed Reader John.