Lenten Calendar for March
Do you fast? Then feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, do not forget the imprisoned, have pity on the tortured, comfort those who grieve and who weep, be merciful, humble, kind, calm, patient, sympathetic, forgiving, reverent, truthful and pious, so that God might accept your fasting and might plentifully grant you the fruits of repentance. Fasting of the body is food for the soul. -St. John Chrysostom
Note: Bold purple print denotes St. Mark Services; Red lettering denotes feast days; Holy Week & Pascha Services TBA
Saturday, March 6, Memorial Saturday
Sunday, March 7, Sunday of the Last Judgement & Meatfare Sunday
Monday, March 8, Meat Fast Begins
Saturday, March 13, Departed Righteous Monastics
Sunday, March 14, Forgiveness Sunday (Cheesefare) Divine Liturgy & Forgiveness Vespers
Monday, March 15, Beginning of the Great Fast, Great Canon of St. Andrew
Tuesday, March 16, Great Canon of St. Andrew
Wednesday, March 17, Presanctified Liturgy at 5:30 PM (Great Canon of St. Andrew)
Thursday, March 18, Great Canon of St. Andrew
Saturday, March 20, St. Theodore Saturday (Wine & Oil)
Sunday, March 21, Sunday of Orthodoxy (Wine & Oil)
Wednesday, March 24, Forefeast Annunciation (Wine & Oil)
Thursday, March 25, Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos (Fish, Wine, Oil)
Friday, March 26, Leavetaking Annunciation (Wine & Oil)
Saturday, March 27, Memorial Saturday (Wine & Oil)
Sunday, March 28, St. Gregory Palamas, Divine Liturgy (Wine & Oil)
Wednesday, March 31, Presanctified Liturgy at 5:30 PM (Wine & Oil)
Sunday Services & Announcements
March 7, 2021 - Sunday of Meatfare of the Last Judgment
Today's Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Last Judgment. It reminds us that while trusting in Christ's love and mercy, we must not forget His righteous judgment when He comes again in glory. If our hearts remain hardened and unrepentant, we should not expect the Lord to overlook our transgressions simply because He is a good and loving God. Although He does not desire the death of a sinner, He also expects us to turn from our wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11). This same idea is expressed in the prayer read by the priest after the penitent has confessed his or her sins (Slavic practice).
The time for repentance and forgiveness is now, in the present life. At the Second Coming, Christ will appear as the righteous Judge, "Who will render to every man according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:6). Then the time for entreating God's mercy and forgiveness will have passed. As Father Alexander Schmemann reminds us in his book Great Lent (Ch. 1:4), sin is the absence of love, it is separation and isolation. When Christ comes to judge the world, His criterion for judgement will be love. Christian love entails seeing Christ in other people, our family, our friends, and everyone else we may encounter in our lives. We shall be judged on whether we have loved, or not loved, our neighbor. We show Christian love when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick or in prison. If we did such things for the least of Christ's brethren, then we also did them for Christ (Mt. 25:40). If we did not do such things for the least of the brethren, neither did we do them for Christ (Mt. 25:45).
Today is the last day for eating meat and meat products until Pascha, though eggs and dairy products are permitted every day during the coming week. This limited fasting prepares us gradually for the more intense fasting of Great Lent.
When you, O God, shall come to earth with glory, all things shall tremble and the river of fire shall flow before Your judgement seat; the books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed! Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire, and make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, Most Righteous Judge! -Kontakion, Tone 1
Scripture Readings: Luke 24:36-53, 1 Corinthians 8:8-9:2, Matthew 25:31-46
Commemorated feasts and Saints for March 7: The Holy Hieromartyrs of Cherson: Basil, Ephraim, Capito, Eugene, Aetherius, Elpidius, and Agathodorus (4th c.), Ven. Paul the Simple, Disciple of Ven. Anthony the Great (4th c.). St. Paul the Confessor, Bishop of Plousias in Bithynia (9th c.). St. Emilian of Rome. Icon of the Mother of God, "Surety of Sinners" in Odrina (Orlovsk - 1843) and Moscow (1848).
The next Divine Liturgy at St. Mark will be held on Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 10:00 AM; the reading of the third and sixth hours begins at 9:30 AM.
If you would like to attend Divine Liturgy at St. Mark, please email us and we will send you an attendance form to fill out prior to Sunday services. Masks are mandatory and if you are ill we ask that you stay home until you are well. You may email us at email@example.com
Confession: Father Kevin has begun hearing Confessions on the telephone; if you wish to sign up for confession, you will receive a Google document with dates and times prior to Divine Liturgy. Just follow the link and add your name next to the date and time you prefer.
Please remember in your prayers: James, Nancy, Sarah, Frances, Nicholas, Mat. Anastasia, Nancy, Alban Frank, Alexandra, Robert, Mat. Eleanor, Priest Antony, Reader George, Alexandra, Conor, Nicholas, Anthony, Cecelia, Peter, Nicholas, Gina; the kidnapped Hierarchs Metropolitan Paul (Boulos Yazigi) & Archbishop John (Yohanna Ibrahim); the suffering Christians of Egypt and Syria; Newly-departed Eugenia, Newly-departed Archpriest Joseph, Archpriest James Parnell
Please email prayer requests to Catherine.
Venerable Paul the Simple, disciple of Venerable Anthony the Great
Saint Paul the Simple of Egypt also lived in the fourth century and was called the Simple for his simplicity of heart and gentleness. He had been married, but when he discovered his wife's infidelity, he left her and went into the desert to Saint Anthony the Great (January 17). Paul was already 60 years old, and at first Saint Anthony would not accept Paul, saying that he was unfit for the harshness of the hermit's life. Paul stood outside the cell of the ascetic for three days, saying that he would sooner die than go from there. Then Saint Anthony took Paul into his cell, and tested his endurance and humility by hard work, severe fasting, with nightly vigils, constant singing of Psalms and prostrations. Finally, Saint Anthony decided to settle Paul into a separate cell.
During the many years of ascetic exploits the Lord granted Saint Paul both discernment, and the power to cast out demons. When they brought a possessed youth to Saint Anthony, he guided the afflicted one to Saint Paul saying, "I cannot help the boy, for I have not received power over the Prince of the demons. Paul the Simple, however, does have this gift." Saint Paul expelled the demon by his simplicity and humily.
After livng for many years, performing numberous miracles, he departed to the Lord. He is mentioned by Saint John, the Abbot of Sinai (Ladder 24:30): "The thrice-blessed paul the Simple was a clear example for us, for he was the rule and type of blessed simplicity..." Saint Paul is also commemorated on October 4.
Saturday, 3/6: Czestochowa Icon, Memorial Saturday
Sunday, 3/7: Sunday of the Last Judgment, Kursk Root Icon
Presanctified Liturgy will be held on at 5:30 pm on the following dates: 3/17, 3/31 and 4/14. Please visit the website often for Holy Week and Pascha updates.
Paschal Appeal Letters will be mailed to your homes soon. As a parish, we are able to use your God-given financial gifts to support our clergy, education, growth, outreach and building maintenance, which are so important to the spiritual health of our parish community. Therefore, please consider supporting St. Mark by giving a donation in honor of the Paschal season as a gift of gratitude to Christ and His Church. Thank you.
Sunday Attendants: If you are a door or candle attendant, please make sure you arrive at the church by 9:15 AM. The door attendant must bring the printed attendance list to church with him/her. If you are unable to attend a Sunday service, let Catherine know prior to services.
Holy water from Theophany was distributed in the church. If you did not receive any and would like to have some, please contact Catherine.
We are collecting items for distribution to those in need via a local food pantry. Please leave the items you wish to donate in the large blue bin located in the nave of the church. It is important that we continue to care for those in need, especially during these uncertain and difficult times.
The Parish Council will meet on Monday, March 8 at 6:30 pm via Zoom.
Volunteers Needed: If you would like to volunteer to be a church cleaner or Sunday attendant, please contact Catherine.
A New Message for Hope and Encouragement (For the week of March 1, 2021):
"Every day one should partake of just enough food to permit the body, being fortified, to be a friend and helper to the soul in performing the virtues. Otherwise, with the body exhausted, the soul may also weaken". - St. Seraphim of Sarov
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa
Attend to Almsgiving
St. Seraphim of Sarov put it this way: "Establish yourself in God and then you will be helpful to others." Practice almsgiving. Almsgiving is a form of love, and remember, this is what we are called to do - and to do it even more frequently when we are in an extended fasting period. God truly knows what is best for us. When we willingly help others, it somehow benefits our health. Throughout our lives, we will continually be dealing with strife and struggle. As we well know, this is a part of life that is never going away. But our approach to such issues can make all the difference. I once heard a story of a man who lived through Hurricane Katrina and lost everything. He was asked, "How are you dealing with the pain of losing everything?" He said whenever he started to get down about his situation, he would go and help another person, and it seemed to be a coping mechanism that worked for him.
An unfortunate yet helpful thing to recognize is that there is always someone worse off than we are. When our thoughts start to spin out into feelings of despair and hopelessness, it's important to turn to prayer and to lend a helping hand to one in need. We can help someone by simply calling them and giving them a word of support; or by sharing lunch with a co-worker who has no one to eat with; or by giving money to someone who is struggling financially; or by volunteering to build houses for the needy. These are quick suggestions that come to mind. There are many other ways to share in almsgiving. Here are a few more ideas:
*Volunteer at a nursing home, hospital, women's shelter, soup kitchen, etc.
*Make extra food and share it with a shut-in or a friend who is dealing with a lot that lacks the time to cook.
*Babysit for a family to give the parents a night out.
*Invite someone who lives alone to dinner. There is much to be said for sharing a meal with others.
*Call a widow or widower and take him or her out to lunch or to some other activity. Many times these people are suffering. Life has changed; they used to eat and/or cook with another, and now they have meals by themselves. They used to run errands with another, and now they do them by themselves. Many widows and widowers have a hard time reaching out, both because they are suffering emotionally and because they do not want to feel like they are being a bother. Take the initiative and extend an invitiation. Or invite yourself over to their house with a home-cooked meal in hand. Chances are they will gladly welcome the company.
*Take charge of organizing some almsgiving activitythat can take place on a regular basis through your church community. For example, take the lead on a semiannual food drive, or organize feeding the hungry on a weekly or monthly basis. Assess the needs in your community and perhaps lead a humanitarian committee in your parish. Others may want to serve but don't have the time to seek out options, so if we direct this endeavor, it could produce many fruits and an opportunity for others to serve.
From the book "Food, Faith and Fasting: A Sacred Journey to Better Health" by Rita Madden
Forgive, and You Will Be Forgiven (from "The Lenten Spring" by Fr. Thomas Hopko)
The Sunday before Lent begins, the day on which the Church liturgically remembers the fall of Adam and Eve, is called Cheesefare Sunday. This is because it is traditionally the last day of eating dairy products before the time of fasting. This day is also called Forgiveness Sunday since everyone must enter the lenten effort by forgiving and asking forgiveness of others. In many churches, schools and monasteries this is done through a special "rite of forgiveness" following the evening vespers at which the Church formally inaugurates the lenten season. The significance of the act of giving and receiving forgiveness is obvious. God does not forgive us if we do not forgive each other. It is that simple.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mt. 6:14-15)
The Christian life is called the "imitation of God" by the fathers of the Orthodox Church. This conviction comes from the Bible, from the Old Testament, where the Lord through Moses says to His people: "Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44) - a sentence quoted in the first letter of Peter in the New Testatment: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorence, but as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Pet. 1:14-16).
Imitating the holiness of God is the task for human beings set forth also by the apostle Paul. It is the specific task of Christians: Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let everyone speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another...let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Eph. 4:22-25, 31-5:1)
The greatest possible "imitation of God" is to be forgiving. God is the One who forgives. All of His love for man (philanthropia) is love for sinners, "since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23) - None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one. (Rom. 3:10-12, quoting Ps. 14:3)
All humans are sinners. Anyone who claims not to be sinful is a liar and makes God a liar as well: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says "I know Him" but disobeys His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not him; but whoever keeps His word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in Him: he who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. (1 Jn. 1:8-2:6)
Love between sinners is essentially expressed in forgiveness. There is no other way. It cannot be otherwise. Forgiveness is the singular expression of love in this fallen world. If, therefore, we desire to be loved and forgiven by God - and even more, if we know that as a matter of fact we are so loved and forgiven - then we must love and forgive each other. The lenten season exists for this purpose: to express the love of God for one another through mutual forgiveness. This is the teaching of Jesus Himself:
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mk. 11:25-26). Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Lk. 6:37-38).
In his novel The Brothers Karamzov the writer Fyodor Dostoevsky puts the following teaching into the mouth of his Elder Zossima: "Brothers, do not be afraid of men's sins. Love man even in his sins, for that is the semblance of divine love and is the highest love on earth." And later he adds, "At some ideas you stand perplexed, especially at the sight of men's sins, asking yourself whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide, "I will combat it by humble love." If you make up your mind about that once and for all, you may be able to conquer the whole world. Loving humility is an awesome force, the strongest of all, and there is nothing like it." It is this "awesome force" that we especially strive to harness during the lenten spring. It is first of all the force of forgiveness.
O Master and Teacher of wisdom, bestower of virtue, who teaches the thoughtless and protects the poor: strengthen me and enlighten my heart. O Word of the Father, let me not restrain my mouth from crying to You: "Have mercy on me, a transgressor, O merciful Lord,"*
*Kontakion of Forgiveness Sunday.
Yesterday the Gospel reading taught us persistence in prayer, and now it teaches humility, or the feeling that we have no right to be heard. Do not assume that you have the right to be heard, but approach prayer as one unworthy of any attention, allowing yourself only the boldness needed to open your mouth and raise up your prayer to God, knowing the Lord's boundless condescension toward us poor ones. Do not even allow the thought to come to your mind, "I did such and such - so give me such and such." Consider whatever you might have done as your obligation. If you had not done it you would have been subject to punshiment, and what you did deserves no reward; you did not do anything special. That Pharisee enumerated his rights to be heard and left the temple with nothing. The bad thing is not that he actually did as he said, for indeed he should have done it. The bad thing is that he presented it as something special; whereas, having done it he should have thought no more of it. Deliver us, O Lord, from this sin of the Pharisee! People rarely speak like the Pharisee in words, but in the feeling of their heart they are rarely unlike him. For why is it that people pray poorly? It is because they feel as though they are just fine in the sight of God, even without praying. -St. Theophan the Recluse
Three Psalms from An Ode of Ascents:
Had it not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say, had it not been that the Lord was with us, when men rose up against us, then had they swallowed us alive. When their wrath raged against us, then had the water overwhelmed us. Our soul hath passed through a torrent; then had our soul passed through the water that is irresistible. Blessed be the Lord Who hath not given us to be a prey to their teeth. Our soul like a sparrow was delivered out of the snare of the hunters. The snare is broken, and we are delivered. Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who hath made heaven and the earth. - Psalm 123
Except the Lord build the house, in vain do they labour that build it. Except the Lord guard the city, in vain doth he watch that gaurdeth her; it is vain for you to rise at dawn. Ye that eat the bread of sorrow, rouse yourselves after resting, when He hath given sleep to His beloved. Lo, sons are the heritage of the Lord, the reward of the fruit of the womb. Like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of them that were outcasts. Blessed is he that shall fulfill his desires with them; they shall not be put to shame when they speak to their enemies in the gates. - Psalm 126
Behold now, what is so good or so joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity? It is like the oil of myrrh upon the head, which runneth down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, which runneth down to the fringe of his raiment. It is like the dew of Aermon, which cometh down upon the mountains of Sion. For there the Lord commanded the blessing, life for evermore. -Psalm 132