- Divine Liturgy - The ultimate service of celebration of the Word of God, Orthodox worship is based on the worship of God in the Book of Revelation, and is celebrated with full solemnity and splendor befitting the worship of the Creator of heaven and earth.
- Daily Vespers
- Great Vespers The service of Vespers is the sunset service, the preparation for Resurrectional Services on Sunday. Beginning with the Psalm of Creation and ending with the Song of Simeon it shows the Old Testament testimony of Jesus Christ.
It is that time of year again! If you would like father to come and bless your house please put your name and information on the list on the candle table in the narthex.
The “Pastoral Changes” for November and December 2016—the official announcements of ordinations, assignments, releases, etc. affecting the clergy of the Orthodox Church in America, as issued by the Office of the Chancellor, Archpriest John Jillions—are now available.
“The questions, which are keyed to the pages in the book from which they are taken, offer readers a way of reviewing and reinforcing what they have read,” said Matushka Valerie Zahirsky, DCE Chair. “A separate document provides answers, also taken from book.
“If the book is being used in a discussion group, the leader might give participants the questions for a chapter before they read it, and they can then find the answers as they go through the text,” Matushka Valerie suggested. “Those who read the book on their own, rather than as part of a group, will find the questions and answers helpful in the same way. Several answers also offer points for further reflection.”
The Spirituality volume deals with many intriguing topics and questions, including what is the noonday demon, how does the Orthodox Church define “spirituality,” is it ever appropriate to hate ourselves, what in God’s eyes is the most vile of all human evils, and is there a difference between being tolerant and being merciful.
“Great Lent would be an especially appropriate time to reflect on the elements of Christian spirituality presented in this book,” Matushka Valerie added. “But at any time, it offers an inspiring picture of what it means to ‘do all to the glory of God’ [1 Corinthians 10:31].”
Visit the DCE web site for a wealth of additional educational resources and study units on a variety of topics.
Metropolitan Tikhon with Archbishop Alejo at Mexico City’s Ascension Cathedral.
For decades, it has been customary for the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America to visit the Diocese of Mexico during the Theophany season. This year, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon made his second archpastoral visit to Mexico City January 13-16, 2017, where he was warmly greeted by His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo and the diocese’s clergy and faithful.
Metropolitan Tikhon was welcomed at Juarez International Airport by His Eminence Archbishop Alejo; Archpriest Antonio Perdomo of McAllen, TX, a member of the OCA Metropolitan Council; and local clergy and monastics. Accompanying the Metropolitan were Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak and Subdeacon Roman Ostash.
On Saturday, January 14, Metropolitan Tikhon visited Holy Cross parish in Ecatepec, a Mexico City suburb, where he was greeted by Priest Antonio Santiago Vera and the parish faithful, which included many children. After celebrating a Service of Thanksgiving, Metropolitan Tikhon offered words of encouragement to the clergy and faithful to continue in their fruitful missionary work in and outreach to their community and neighborhood. Since Father Antonio’s assignment to the parish four years ago, the parish has grown quickly. As with all parishes in the diocese, funding is very limited, and most of the work in constructing churches is accomplished by the faithful themselves.
Metropolitan was warmly greeted by faithful of a local parish.
From there, Metropolitan Tikhon visited Mexico City’s Holy Trinity parish, where was welcomed by Priest Jose Luis Serna-Estrada and met with area clergy and monastics. He spoke of the importance of the monastic witness and vocations, sharing his own experience of monasticism and encouraging the monastics in their vocations and ministries. After their meeting, Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop Alejo and the clergy and monastic celebrated the blessing of the cornerstone of a new monastic house that will be attached to the parish.
On Saturday evening, Metropolitan Tikhon attended Great Vespers at Mexico City’s Cathedral of the Ascension, where he was warmly welcomed. At the reception that followed, he delighted in fellowship shared with the faithful and clergy alike.
On Sunday, January 15, Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Alejo concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Ascension, during which Antonio Gonzalez, a member of Saint Benedict Mission, Leon, Guanajuato, was ordained to the order of Subdeacon. Metropolitan Tikhon delivered the homily in Spanish. An English translation of his homily appears in its entirety below.
The Great Blessing of Water followed the Divine Liturgy, after which the hierarchs, clergy and faithful processed to the playground across the street from the cathedral to bless the 15-foot cross that dominates the site. A festive dinner in Metropolitan Tikhon’s honor was enjoyed by the clergy and faithful alike after services.
Metropolitan Tikhon visits Holy Cross parish in Ecatepec, a Mexico City suburb.
Throughout the weekend, Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Alejo discussed short and long-range plans for expanding the diocese’s efforts. Archbishop Alejo announced that 2017 is being dedicated to the memory and example of Saint Herman of Alaska as a model of mission and evangelistic outreach.
Homily delivered by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
at the Cathedral of the Ascension, Mexico City, Mexico
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Your Eminence, Reverend Fathers, brothers and sisters in Christ,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
I am grateful to God to be with you again this year for the Feast of Theophany and to participate in the Great Blessing of Water as we rejoice in the revelation of the Holy Trinity: “The Trinity, our God, today has made Itself indivisibly manifest to us. For the Father in a loud voice bore clear witness to His Son; the Spirit in the form of a dove came down from the sky; while the Son bent His immaculate head before the Forerunner; and by receiving baptism He delivered us from bondage, in His love for mankind.”
Last year’s visit with you in January left a deep impression on me. I was inspired and humbled by what you have accomplished with the grace of God. There is a humility and energy in your community life that I wish all of our people in the United States and Canada could see.
The missionary team that came from the Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center last March felt the same inspiration. They visited the communities in San Esteban, Hidalgo and Pisaflores in Veracruz, where as a priest Archbishop Alejo did missionary work. They returned to the United States, as I did, having received much more from you than we gave. God is at work among you, and for that I am grateful and inspired.
This is an historic year for Christianity in Mexico. In 1917—one hundred years ago—all Church properties were nationalized, many churches were closed, monasteries were abolished and the communities dispersed, and clergymen were required to obtain licenses to function — measures not unlike those imposed at the same time as a result of the Russian Revolution. Your own Diocese of Mexico traces its roots to this earlier period of the 20th century and the emergence of a national Mexican Church. As you celebrate your 45th anniversary you have inherited a powerful sense of being both Mexican and Orthodox. I saw this very clearly last year. Your ongoing mission efforts and your relationship with the broader Mexican society is vivid testimony to this vision of truly offering yourselves as a church for all in Mexico.
Let me turn now to today’s Gospel, which is a challenge to all of us, whether or not we have more material possessions than others. There is no avoiding the sharp message of Jesus, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who have more than others enter the kingdom by divesting and sharing what they have. John the Baptist offered exactly the same message. When the crowds came to him for baptism and asked what they should do, he answered them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” [Luke 3:10-11].
This touches on how we ought to look at each other and treat each other as Christians. And this is expressed beautifully in Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians. It is short, so let me read it again. “As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” That last line echoes especially well here in this cathedral, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,” because your singing is so beautiful and is a glorious sign that you have made your own the words of Saint Paul.
This short message from Saint Paul can serve all of us as a daily reminder of how to live as Christians. Saint Paul understood through difficult experience that communities require constant effort to stay together. It takes constant vigilance to remain focused on Christ and not be distracted by irritations and complaints, to overlook offenses and lift each other up rather than easily point fingers and pull down. That must be true as much here in Mexico City as it is in Washington DC. We live in a world that is often harsh, cruel and unwelcoming. This is why at this particular point in history we as Christians need to pay special attention to being examples of Christ’s most basic human kindness. This was at the heart of my Christmas message this year. As Father Alexander Schmemann wrote, “A kind person is kind because he or she accepts people as they are, covers them with kindness. Kindness is beautiful, the most beautiful thing on this earth. Virtuous people are activists, obsessed with the desire to impose their principles and goodness and easily condemning, destroying, hating…. In this world there is a lot of virtue, and so little kindness.”
Your kindness was one of the impressions you left on my visit last year. You do not shut yourselves away from your neighbors. I noted at the Great Blessing of Water that neighbors of the cathedral were delighted that a cross was planted in the playground across the street from the cathedral. The cathedral faithful and area residents alike were blessed with holy water. And later, gifts of food were distributed to members of the local community.
So again, I thank you for your witness and encourage and exhort you to continue in your faith and efforts on behalf of Christ and His Church. You will always have big challenges in front of you, but as we heard from the Lord in today’s Gospel, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
May our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom the Father bears witness, and upon Whom the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, continue to bless all of us, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Sunday, January 22, 2017 will be observed as “Sanctity of Life Sunday” in parishes across the United States. The commemoration, which marks the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the US, serves as a prelude to the annual March for Life, to be held in the US Capital on Friday, January 27—one week later than usual due to the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump. See related story.
Updated information and resources related to the January 27 March will be posted on the OCA web site during the coming week.
Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
Sanctity of Life Sunday
January 22, 2017
To the honorable Clergy, venerable Monastics, and pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
My beloved brothers and children in Christ:
When Christ approached the River Jordan to go down into its waters, John the Baptist trembled. With spiritual vision, he recognized the Lord that day, for they had met years earlier, before either of them had yet emerged from their mothers’ wombs. Elizabeth felt John leaping within her upon hearing the voice of the Holy Virgin. John’s little heart already burned with joy at perceiving the presence of Him Who was to take away the sins of the world. John was to spend his entire life preparing for a future encounter with this same Lamb of God, but what happened that day at the river was unlike anything he could have foreseen.
Christ, who had no sins of His own, took the weight of our sins upon Himself. At the Jordan, He submitted to a ritual purification of sins, in order to cleanse us from the grime of the passions. He descended into the waters as into a grave, so that we might be given new and everlasting life.
These bright themes echo in our ears in early January each year with the Church’s celebration of the Feast of Theophany. The joy of sins forgiven, of hearts made clean, of spiritual eyes washed and illumined by the shining face of Christ: these are joys that “no one can take away from us” (cf. John 16:22).
It is only with such corrected vision, with such purified thoughts and hearts that, later in January each year, we can turn our attention, with sobriety and indeed with sorrow, to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and all that it entails.
And what, in fact, has legalized abortion led to? We need to ask this question and provide a frank, if only partial, answer, because in the nearly five decades since Roe, a deep cultural and moral cynicism has set in, and I fear that our ears, our minds and our hearts may have grown dull to the full horror of abortion. For many, this is but one among several political “issues”—stale, overemphasized, and divisive—while for others, it can bring long-hidden pain and grief to the surface. In either case, the Church, so it is sometimes suggested, is better off not speaking out.
The Lord, however, has endued His Church with a voice of mercy and truth, a voice of righteousness and peace (cf. Psalm 84:10). And as long as Rachel continues to weep for her children because they are no more, the Church’s voice cannot be silent (cf. Matthew 2:18).
Therefore, the Church cannot refrain from consoling women who, for whatever reason—whether pressured or abandoned by others or overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness or despair—have had recourse to abortion. Where there is grief, the Church must offer hope; where there is trauma, she must offer healing, and where there is repentance, she must offer forgiveness and reconciliation.
The Church also has a perennial duty to educate her younger members about the sanctity of marriage and sexuality which are inextricably bound to the holy gift of new life. Where the world eagerly teaches our youth to identify with and serve their passions, adult Christians, by their word and example, must form them in a life of ascetic restraint, without which the passions bring about turmoil and destruction.
And, perhaps more controversially but no less true, the Church must provide a prophetic witness and forthright correction to the powerful of this world, to the abortion industry and those who give it financial and legal support. By introducing lethal instruments into the sacred intimacy of a mother’s womb, the abortion industry has succeeded in commodifying human vulnerability and fragility. While deeming itself a provider of “reproductive health,” it leaves in its wake the wreckage of psychological and physical trauma, spiritual ruin, and a death toll of staggering proportions, all the while amassing its own profit and prestige. No Christian can “stand with” such evil. No Church can fail to denounce it.
Our words, of course, must be confirmed by our deeds. In the many grassroots efforts of the Pro-Life Movement, such as neighborhood crisis pregnancy centers, volunteer counseling hotlines, and campus student groups, we see the commandment to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” put into action (Galatians 6:2). The humility and selflessness exhibited in such good works gives the lie to the caricature of the Pro-Life Movement as fueled by Pharisaical rancor.
Indeed, the Pharisees laid heavy burdens on their neighbors’ shoulders (Matthew 23:4), but our Savior came to take away the heavy yoke of sin. He stood among sinners on the shores of the Jordan, not in order to support or condone sin, but that all the world’s sins should be laid on His shoulders.
As His disciples, we have a mandate to bring all nations to Christ the Giver of Life, by baptizing them and by teaching them to observe all that He has commanded (Matthew 28:20). In our society this will often involve us in voicing unpopular opinions that, however gently and lovingly expressed, may well lead others to marginalize or reject us. The Lord repeatedly warned His disciples of this likelihood. But if we are to take part in Christ’s saving work of lightening His people’s heavy load of sin, then we cannot neglect such faithful witness. In humility, but also with boldness, we must stand with Christ. And—though the evil one tells us otherwise—Christ’s commandments are not burdensome. His yoke is easy. His burden is light (1 John 5:3; Matthew 11:30).
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Ancient Faith Radio is pleased to make available a variety of other audio recordings of interest to the Orthodox community, and to those interested in learning about Orthodox Christianity. The growing number of programs made available through Ancient Faith Radio is made possible only through the faithful contributions of our listeners. Thanks for your support! (show less)