Sunday, September 20 | Afterfeast of the Elevation of the Cross
From September 15 until the Leavetaking, we sing "O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ. O Son of God crucified in the flesh, save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia" at weekday Liturgies following the Little Entrance.
Scripture Readings: Luke 24:1-12, Galatians 2:16-20, Mark 8:34-9:1, 2 Corinthians 4:6-15, Matthew 22:35-46
Next Divine Liturgy at St. Mark: Sunday, September 27 at 10:00 AM
All are welcome to attend Divine Liturgy at St. Mark. If you wish to attend, you must sign up beforehand; please email us and we will send you an attendance form to fill out. Masks are mandatory and if you are ill we ask that you stay home until you are well. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Zoom Parish Council Meeting: Wednesday, September 23 at 6:30 PM
Please remember in your prayers: the ill and shut-in: Tony (Longinus Nikolai), Subdeacon Gregory, Marya "Cookie", Gina, Alban Frank, Mat. Eleanor, Priest Antony, Kh. Diana, Eugenia, Reader George, Alexandra, the kidnapped hierarchs Metropolitan Paul (Boulos Yazigi) & Archbishop John (Yohanna Ibrahim); the suffering Christians of Egypt/Syria; those who suffer from terrorist attacks, fires, storms, floods, earthquakes, pestilences and for an end of the present pandemic; Catechumen: Daniel; Maura, Edwin, Martha, Paul; Andrei, Katherine, Elizabeth, Kiril, Marina, Anastasia; Peter, Nicholas, Catherine, Norma, Nicholas, Alexandra, Peter; wedding anniversary: Nicholas and Sascha; Departed: Wayne, Martha, Katie; Anastasia, Sergei, Alexander, Vladimir, Igor; Lybov, Peter, Theo, Anna, Catherine, George, Mary, Bessie, Demetri, Sophia; Departed in September: Irini, John, Peter, Thomas, Camille, Doreen.
Special Petition: "Again we pray that the Lord our God, in His mercy and providential care for us, will call forth our Diocese of New England, a true shepherd of wisdom and strength, blessing us with an Archpastor to care for the well-being of our Diocese, and to unite His faithful people in a zealous confession of the Orthodox faith, in loving service to one another, and a bright witness to the glory of His Holy Name.
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, thy 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 repentence and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the coronavirus. Send thine angels 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 ages of ages. Amen.
A New Message for Hope and Encouragement:
"Our whole environment - our education from earliest childhood, the struggle for survival - teaches us self-respect. But if any of us can put himself in the place of the publican - and may God help us all to feel that way - let him rejoice, for he is the stray sheep, that lost piece of silver, for the sake of which Christ came; his salvation causes more joy in heaven than that of a hundred just souls." - From "The Diary of a Russian Priest" by Alexander Elchaninov
Psalm 137 - In our exile from God:
By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres. For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! Remember, O Lord, against the Edmomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, "Raze it, Raze it! Down to its foundations!" O daughter of Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall he be who requites you with what you have done to us! Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
(Note: in translation the "little ones" refers to the small temptations, the petty demons, the little sins, seemingly so innocent, insignificant and harmless, must be dashed upon the Rock of Christ. Otherwise they grow big and become strong and destroy the heedless and negligent with their lethal power. - Fr. Thomas Hopko "The Lenten Spring"
Remembering the night Christ came to the earth and what occured in the cosmos when he came - a memory for comfort in dark times: "Star Song" by Elizabeth B. Rooney (American, 1924-1999): There had been stars year after year, a cold light and a distant for stars are never near. Until the light that lighted all the world consented to be born. The night He came the stars swung low and sang as morning stars had sung Creations's morn. So sing we now. Star-crossed, we sing the bright and morning star shining among us, banishing our night.
If sometimes, then, in a serene night, you gaze up at the ineffable beauty of the stars, you can form an idea of the creator of the universe, who has embroidered the sky with these flowers, and how in what you see necessity takes the form of the delightful; again, during the day, if you consider the wonders of the day with sober thought, and from what you see form an idea of what is invisible, you will become a hearer, fit and made ready for the fullness of this solemn and blessed theatre. -Basil the Great (c. 330-79)
There is a wise saying that claims: "Into each life some rain must fall." We all realize that we are instruments of God. His plan for us includes birth, growth and maturity. God uses the Bible, the Church and other believers to help shape us. He also uses trials in our life to mold us. Why does Mankind face trials? It is because we live in a sinful world. It is written in Romans 3:10-23 that we are all part of a fallen race and fall short of the glory of God. Our world is filled with turmoil, crime and sickness. Our adversary is Satan. He tempts us to be unfaithful and to do evil. Our goal must be to strive to overcome this evil with good. But why are Christian trials different? We are aware that we do not suffer alone. There is a design to our difficulties. We look to Jesus, the One Who cares and understands. Through Him will come our glory. Let us examine how Christians should react to several tribulations: perhaps we have financial troubles, maybe not of our doing, these trials may teach us to care and show gratitude for the assistance the Lord gives. Sometimes, health problems get in our way; they teach us to sympathize, pray and lean on Jesus. Maybe we have family concerns, rejoice in the fact that you are part of a larger family of God and seek out help from Christian counselors. The question is this: How are you doing in God's School of Trials? Let's hope these trials are making you better and not bitter.
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:23-26)
A Pslam for today (Psalm 1): Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the pestilent. But his will is rather in the law of the Lord, and in His law will he mediate day and night. And he shall be like the tree which is planted by the streams of the waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in its season; and its leaf shall not fall, and all things whatsoever he may do shall prosper. Not so are the ungodly, not so; but rather they are like the chaff which the wind doth hurl away from the face of the earth. For this reason shall the ungodly not stand up in judgement, nor sinners in the council of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, and the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The weather shifts from cloudy to clear and then back to rain; thus it is with human nature. One must always expect clouds to hide the sun sometimes. Even the saints have had their dark hours, days and weeks. They say then that "God has left them" in order that they may know truly how utterly wretched they are of themselves, without His support. These times of darkness, when all seems meaningless, ridiculous and vain, when one is beset by doubt and temptations, are inevitable. But even these times can be harvested for good. (The Way of the Ascetic)
Some suffer much from poverty and sickness, but are not humbled, and so they suffer without profit. But one who is humbled will be happy in all circumstances, because the Lord is his riches and joy, and all people will wonder at the beauty of his soul. (St. Silouan the Athonite)
Faith: I implore you to live piously in order that you might preserve your Orthodox faith, in order that no one and nothing, no circumstances and no kind of sorrow can turn you away from it. For this you absolutely must pray, seeking God's help to keep your faith pure. (St. Nikon)
The rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." - Matthew 7:25
Phil. 4:6-8: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anthing praiseworthy-meditate on these things.
Do not despair! The Lord is near. Declare to Him all of our sorrows and confusion. When human means are insufficient for understanding, then God's help immediately grants beneficial thoughts, when we turn to Him as children to a father. (St. Moses)
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 About Fasting and the Eucharist:
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.