Our diocesan hierarch, the Rt. Rev. Alexander, will be visiting Los Angeles this coming Sunday. He will celebrate Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with diocesan clergy at St. Kliment of Ochrid parish, 5861 Virginia Avenue at the corner of Bronson, one block … Continue reading
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Our mother and grandmother, Floarea, passed away peacefully Sunday, June 30th – she had a heart attack that lasted a few seconds and she never felt it. We are grateful for her easy and painless passing and hope you will find … Continue reading
by Fr. Irenei Steenberg, from the latest newsletter of Holy assumption Monastery in Calistoga, CA Coming right after Pascha and Bright Week, Thomas Sunday, in a way, is the first day of the “regular” year. The Royal Doors are closed and … Continue reading
Orthodox bishop calls for unity but warns against nationalismDavid Yonke | Toledo Faith & Values | |
Bishop Alexander Golitzin, speaking on the Americanization of the Orthodox Church, said adapting to U.S. culture carries both positives and negatives, but the overriding danger is unbridled nationalism.
“You may notice that American politicians can’t stop singing the praises of this country,” Bishop Alexander said in a talk Monday evening (May 13) at St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Rossford. “We keep hearing how wonderful we are, and one wonders: If we are so wonderful, why do they have to keep saying it?” It is one thing to have pride in being American, the bishop said, but people should also be aware of their own heritage and history. The Rev. Paul Gassios, pastor of St. George, said he grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church and has seen the impact of Americanization on the church through the years. “Whether you’re Bulgarian or Greek or White Anglo-Saxon Protestant or German, everybody here is an American citizen. So the process of Americanization is going on, but is it a bad thing?” Gassios asked. “I will leave that open because it can go so many ways. The fact is there is a culture here in America that impacts our faith.”
The 5th Annual Ss. Cyril & Methodius Lecture on Growth and Evangelism is named for two 9th century missionary Byzantine brothers who spread Christianity to the Slavs. Bp. Alexander called nationalism a “great evil” that poses a threat to Americans both spiritually and physically, and said it was responsible for the deaths of “tens of millions” of people in the 20th century. “It is a murderous fate and it is a fake religion. We must resist it with all our strength,” saidAlexander, the Bishop of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America.
V. Rev. Paul Gassios, Dean of St. George Cathedral, Rossford, Ohio
The Toledo-based diocese has 16 parishes and 5,000 members in the United States and Canada, mostly in the Midwest but including parishes in Washington, D.C., and California. Among the positive influences of Americanization is that English is now spoken in all the Orthodox churches in the United States, Alexander said, uniting people of diverse backgrounds through a common language. “In the celebration of all the services in the local vernacular … we are following the Gospel and the Apostle Paul, who was the apostle to the gentiles,” he said. Bp. Alexander said the United States has been “invincibly Protestant” since its founding and remains “a Protestant country in its blood and bone.” American colonists “were full of suspicion of anything that had to do with Roman Catholics,” and “didn’t know about us [Orthodox Christians], of course, but if they had they wouldn’t have liked us.” Such bias remains part of American society today “in spite of our secularization,” the bishop said. But the Orthodox Church, as other faith groups, has benefited from the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. “The great good is there – to live unmolested, to live with an opportunity to better oneself,” he said. Alexander, 65, was born in Tarzana, Calif., and studied at the University of California at Berkeley. He earned a doctorate in Patristics (early church writers) from Oxford University, where he studied under renowned Orthodox scholar Kallistos Ware. He also spent a year at Simonos Petras Monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, and taught theology at Marquette University from 1989 until his consecration as bishop in May, 2012. Bp.Alexander’s uncle, Alexander Golitzen, was a renowned Hollywood art director who won three Academy Awards between 1943 and 1962.
In an interview after the lecture, Alexander said his transition from academia has been a smooth one. “I have very good priests and, on the whole, happy parishes,” he said. “I don’t have any great worries.” One of the major challenges facing the Orthodox Church in the United States is to “represent Christianity” and to make people aware that evangelicals do not speak for all Christians. “The evangelicals as it were have kind of claimed a monopoly on that word [Christianity] and we’re different,” Bp. Alexander said. The “popular notion” of Christianity gleaned from radio and TV talk shows is “a sort of stupid Christianity – stupid and without any social consciousness, as if it were just ‘me and Jesus’,” Alexander said. “It’s a Christianity without the Gospels and the prophets.” He said he would like people to know of “the continuity of the Orthodox life over the millennia,” which the bishop believes is “our strongest selling point.”
The church must do better in addressing social equity and justice issues, he said, lauding U.S. Catholic bishops for making them priorities. Another challenge to the church is the busyness of modern American life, he said, with children’s sports and other activities competing with worship and other church events. “It’s a matter of priorities,” the bishop said. “Does your kid go to hockey on Sunday morning, or does he go to liturgy?” He also believes the U.S. Orthodox Christian churches need to be united and not divided into ethnic dioceses such as Greek, Russian, Antiochian, and Bulgarian. “It’s a great evil and prevents our working together and pooling our resources,” Alexander said. “If this kind of thing continues, we’re doomed.”
Collaborating in Christ: our shared work
The success (or failure) of a parish is dependent upon the synergy among pastor and faithful. Successful parishes aren’t dependent upon any one person (this includes the priest!) for their success. In a successful parish the parishioners cooperate with each other, they fulfill their own obligations, and contribute what they can into the common treasury of deeds, wisdom and finances.
I used to work in a restaurant. It was a nice place with good food, a pleasant ambience, and class. We had many “regulars”
I’m sure you see where this is going. What would a “four-star parishioner” look like?
A Four Star Parishioner. . .
. . . prays. The whole point of being a member of the Church is to know God. Union with Christ is the goal of all Christian endeavour. We must therefore seek to always have God in our thoughts and on our lips. This is prayer. A four-star parishioner prays (privately or with their family) upon arising in the morning, before retiring in the evening, and before meals during the day. They might do more, but they won’t do less.
. . . worships God. If we know God we will worship Him. We are created to worship Him. He commands us to worship Him. Why? Worship creates unity and feeds us spiritually. Worship teaches us who we are and who God is. All human beings worship – either the one True God, or an idol, and every idol is fundamentally an image of ourselves. God, or me? Which will it be? A four-star parishioner attends the worship services of the Church. Unless it is impossible to do so they’re in Church every Sunday and Great Feast Day, and on as many lesser holy days as is feasible.
. . . partakes in the Holy Mysteries. Just because I must approach for Holy Confession and Communion once a year doesn’t mean that I should only approach for Holy Confession and Communion once a year. If Confession and Communion is a good thing, why not approach more often? The Church exists (among other things) in order to make the Holy Mysteries – Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Communion, Marriage, Ordination and the “Oil of Prayer” (anointing of the sick) available to the faithful. A four-star parishioner lives a sacramental life: approaches for Confession/Communio
. . . supports their parish generously. If the Church can’t pay the bills it can’t “stay open”. If it doesn’t have the money to do outreach work or educate the children it will die. A four-star parishioner treats their parish financial obligations with the same seriousness they treat their taxes. Don’t pay taxes, go to jail. Don’t support the parish, go to . . .
. . . helps the poor. At the Last Judgment Jesus is going to ask us “did you feed me? Did you clothe me? Did you visit me when I was sick?” etc. (Mt. 25:36) All our “religious&quo
. . . respects their leaders. The days are gone when men become priests because they’re seeking some type of “status” in the world. Neither do people join the parish council because they’re seeking fame, or riches. The least we can do is respect those who lead our communities. Even when we disagree with them, we should do so respectfully. They’re not perfect – but neither are we. A four-star parishioner always speaks respectfully to and about their parish and Church leaders. The words of Abraham Lincoln bear repeating: “No one should criticize unless they’re willing to help.”
. . . respects their fellow parishioners. I once heard this terrible riddle: “What happens when a member of the Church is wounded (either spiritually, emotionally, or personally)?
. . . fasts. There’s an old saying – “the spiritual life begins with the stomach”
. . . works for their parish. In order for a parish to function much needs to be done: singing in the choir; sitting on the parish council; teaching religion; visiting the sick; cooking; working with youth; preparing the bulletin; organizing social events; cutting the grass, painting the walls, preparing tax receipts, paying bills, etc., etc., etc. God has blessed every one of us with talents that can be utilized for the growth and benefit of our parish. A four-star parishioner offers their talents and abilities to the Lord, and to the parish.
. . . reads the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word to us. The only condition necessary to successfully read the Bible is that we must read God’s Word in order to put it into practice. Reading the Bible simply in order to discuss it, or even worse, discussing the Bible without having read it, will not help us draw near to God – in fact, the opposite will probably take place. A four-star parishioners reads the Bible every day: a passage from the Gospel, a passage from another New Testament book, and a reading from the Psalter as a minimum.
. . . takes responsibility for their children’
. . . never stops learning about their faith. The Ukrainian saying goes: “A man must spend his whole life learning so that he can die an ignoramus”
What’s stopping you from becoming a star a four-star parishioner?
Fr. Bohdan Hladio
Christ is Risen!
Hristos a Înviat!
WE SOLEMNLY CELEBRATE THE PASSION, DEATH AND RESURRECTION
OF OUR LORD, GOD & SAVIOR
PLEASE JOIN OUR ORTHODOX DIVINE WORSHIP THROUGHOUT THE REMAINDER OF GREAT LENT AND HOLY WEEK AT THE FOLLOWING TIMES:
Saturday, April 20
6 PM Great Vespers & Akathist to the Mother of God
Sunday, April 21
12 Noon Divine Liturgy of St. Basil
Saturday, April 27
6 PM Great Vespers of Palm Sunday: the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem; Blessing of Palms
Sunday, April 28 The Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem
12 Noon Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom – Palm Sunday
3 PM Vespers for Great & Holy Monday
Wednesday, May 1
7 PM Bridegroom Matins of Holy Thursday & Service of Unction
Thursday, May 2
7 PM Bridgroom Matins of Holy Friday : service of 12 Passion Gospels
Friday, May 3 The Crucifixion & Death of The Lord
4 PM Vespers with Deposition from the Cross
7 PM Matins of Holy Saturday with Lamentations & Procession of Epitaphion
Saturday, May 4 & Sunday, May 5
11:30 PM Paschal Nocturnes,
Midnight Procession, Festal Matins & Divine Liturgy of the GREAT & HOLY PASCHA, THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD – followed by Blessing of Baskets & Paschal Agape meal
Hierarchical Visit to our Parish by His Grace, Bishop Alexander Scheduled for Saturday & Sunday, February 9 & 10
Please join us in welcoming back our Diocesan Hierarch, His Grace Alexander of Toledo when he makes his first archpastoral visitation of the new calendar year to our Parish. His Grace sojourns in California twice yearly, winter and summer, in order to bolster the Orthodox life of our parishes here in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco Bay Area. He will worship with us during the services of Great Vespers at 5 PM on Saturday, February 9 and complete the celebration at Sunday’s Divine Liturgy the following day at noon.
His Grace comes to the Parish of St. John the Baptist as our Archpastor, a Father to our Parish Priest Fr. John, and ‘overseer’ (Gr. επίσκοπος, hence Eng. “Bishop”) to stand in our midst as the visible representative of our Head, Jesus Christ. Our Bishop serves the Divine Communion to the people to make Christ spiritually present to us in the Holy Gifts, the bread and wine made Flesh and Blood of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. Partaking in Holy Communion with our Bishop, we make real our Communion with the entire Church throughout the whole world. Through this sacramental link more than any other way, the Episcopal visit makes present and tangible the living bond Christ as formed with us in our own Parish, our Diocese, our Local (National) Church, and the commonwealth of all Orthodox Christian Churches worldwide. Our Bishop is more tan a figurehead or administrator, he is the ambassador of Christ and our earthly head and leader in His stead. We should heed our Bishop’s words as coming from Christ Himself.
Orthodox Christians who attend Liturgy should make every effort to prepare themselves to partake of Holy Communion at His Grace Alexander’s hand, especially in light of the spiritual significance ofHis Grace’s visit. His Grace will be available with Fr. John for consultation and sacramental confession-absolution on Saturday before and after Great Vespers. Communicants should prepare trough confession, prayer and abstinence in accordance with the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church. Lengthy periods of fasting are not requisite.
Please click on the seal of the OCA Bulgarian Diocese below to open a link to the Google Calendar of Bishop Alexander’s Schedule:
Theophany – the Baptism of Christ
Please join us in celebration of this Great Feast of the Lord!
Today the Forerunner, who prophecies the coming of the Christ, sees his ministry fulfilled in Jesus’ submission to Baptism at the hand of His cousin John.
The pre-eternal Son & Word of God is revealed to all as Jesus, the son of Mary. The only-begotten Son of the Most High God of Israel descends into the waters of Jordan. He condescends to be baptized for our salvation. All the waters of the earth are thereby cleansed of death and evil by the presence in them of His holy body. Upon The Son we see the Holy Spirit descend and dwell forever. John declares that Jesus is the one who will baptize with the same Holy Spirit for He is the Chosen One of God. The Father’s voice is heard by all saying, “You are my beloved Son; my favor rests upon You!”
We begin the celebration of this great mystery of salvation with the Festal Great Vespers of Theophany at
5 pm, Saturday January 5.
Immediately following the Vespers we continue with the Great Blessing of Waters. The following day we complete the feast with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St Basil followed immediately by the Lesser Blessing of Waters, beginning at
Noon on Sunday, January 6.
Please join us and participate noetically in the divine worship of the Holy Trinity – Sfânta Treime – Ὰγια Τριάδα – Сватая троица – წმიდა სამება. Prepare for Holy Communion by fasting, diligently reading the Rule of Preparatory Prayers and confessing your sins. Bring your own vessels in which to carry home fresh Theophany Water for your own use. Also be sure to schedule your own House Blessing by Fr. John.