Metropolitan will visit St Michael’s on March 25

The Most Reverend Metropolitan Joseph will preside at Lauds and Mass on Passion Sunday, March 25. His Eminence is the Metropolitan Archbishop for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and had been scheduled to visit last August but was detained by a meeting of the Patriarchal Synod in Damascus. Several times since then he has expressed his love and desire to come to St Michael’s as soon as his schedule permits.

The Metropolitan visited St Michael’s Church many times during his tenure as Bishop of Los Angeles and the West. But now, for the first time, he visits us as our Metropolitan Archbishop.

It has been nearly 27 years since St Michael’s Church was blessed with the visit of a Metropolitan Archbishop. That occurred on September 9, 1990, when Metropolitan Philip, of thrice-blessed memory, consecrated the altar and solemnly dedicated the church.

His Eminence will arrive at 9 a.m. on Sunday, March 25. During Lauds, he will ordain Reader Lazaro Mancilla to the rank of subdeacon.

Bishop John, the local bishop for Western Rite parishes, will also visit St Michael’s in March. On Saturday, March 10, His Grace will preside and give the meditations at the Lenten Retreat hosted by the Society of St Benedict. Bishop John will also preside at Lauds and Mass on Sunday, March 11. Following the Mass and dinner, His Grace will host an informal conversation with the young adults in the parish.

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Lenten Retreat on March 10

The Rt. Rev. John Abdalah, Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester and the Western Rite Vicariate, will present the annual Lenten Retreat at St Michael’s Church on March 10. His Grace’s three meditations on “Being Right with God” will draw attention to the Sacrament of Penance (Private Confession).

This retreat, hosted by the parish’s Society of St Benedict, will follow the Benedictine model of a “silent retreat.” Therefore, there will be ample quiet time for personal prayer, reflection, and meditation.

This event is intended to provide a break from the busyness of this world, to offer time to learn how to live the season of Lent, and to refresh and prepare the soul for the Lenten journey.

The retreat begins at 9 a.m. with prayer according to the rule of St Benedict, and concludes at 3 p.m. Lunch will be provided, and a free will donation is appreciated. Child care, unfortunately, will not be available.

For more information or to RSVP, please call or email the St Michael parish office.

St Michael Orthodox Church is located at 3333 Workman Mill Road, across the street from Rio Hondo College.

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Lessons & Carols at St Michael’s

A service of Christmas Lessons & Carols will be offered at St Michael on Saturday, 23 December, at 6 p.m. This year’s rendition will feature the Pacific Coast Quartet and Scott Rieker, Guest Conductor.

This service combines Scripture readings with familiar traditional Christmas hymns and carols. It is open to the community, in order to help foster the true spirit of the Lord’s Nativity.

Here are five reasons you may attend, and encourage others in your community to join us:

  1. You will hear the context, as well as the story, of Christ’s birth.
  2. You will sing familiar Christmas songs, and learn new ones.
  3. You will unite with Christians of all times and places as the readings and songs traverse centuries.
  4. You will unite with Christians in Whittier as you rejoice together.
  5. You will be reminded of what Christmas is truly about.

 

 

 

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Metropolitan to Visit, Bless Icons

The Most Reverend Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, will visit St Michael Orthodox Christian Church on Sunday, 27 August. In addition to presiding at the Liturgy, His Eminence will bless the newly installed icons, painted by Brother Lazarus (Joseph) Brown of Our Lady and St Laurence Monastery in Canon City, Colorado.

It has been nearly 27 years since St Michael’s Church was blessed with the visit of a Metropolitan Archbishop. That occurred on September 9, 1990, when Metropolitan Philip, of thrice-blessed memory, consecrated the altar and solemnly dedicated the church.

The Solemn Reception of the Metropolitan will begin at 9 a.m., followed by the Divine Office. The Divine Liturgy (or Mass) will begin at 10 a.m. Following the Divine Liturgy (Mass), the Antiochian Women of St Michael will sponsor a catered banquet. The Guest of Honor will be His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph. The dinner will feature homemade hummus and tabbouleh to compliment grilled tri-tip beef, grilled chicken and other side dishes. The cost is $17 per person, $50 per family.

St Michael’s Church was founded in 1977 and entered the Orthodox Church in 1981. It is a Western Rite parish in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese.

 

 

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Holy Week: What to Expect

PALM SUNDAY

Lauds: 9:15 a.m.

Mass: 10:00 a.m.

Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week, when we remember Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Immediately after Lauds, the blessing and distribution of the palms take place. Each person receives a palm, and the clergy lead the faithful in procession around the Church, while joyful chants are sung culminating in the hymn “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” After the worshipers go to their seats, the Mass continues. During the Mass, the faithful hear the First of the Passion Narratives, from the Gospel according to St. Matthew.

HOLY MONDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Vespers & Rosary: 6:00 p.m.

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

Each weekday in Holy Week, the Stations of the Cross are prayed. These stations recall Our Lord’s journey from condemnation to the tomb.

At the Mass, we will hear of Our Lord’s preparation for burial by the penitent woman who anoints him with fragrant oil.

HOLY TUESDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Vespers & Rosary: 6:00 p.m.

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

During the Mass, the Second of the Passion Narratives, from the Gospel according to St. Mark, is read.

HOLY WEDNESDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Vespers & Rosary: 6:00 p.m.

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

Tenebrae: 9:00 p.m.

During the Mass, the Third of the Passion Narratives, from the Gospel according to St. Luke, is read.

Following Vespers, the first of three Tenebrae services is prayed. Tenebrae is a service of prayer conducted in near-darkness. This service includes a candle ceremony, where candles are extinguished at the end of each psalm and the Benedictus. The central feature of this service is the Lamentation of Jeremiah as it applies to Our Lord’s Passion.

HOLY THURSDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

Vespers & Stripping of the Altar: 8:30 p.m.

Tenebrae: 9:00 p.m.

The Institution of the Mystical Supper is the focus for The Mass of the Last Supper. The Gloria in Excelsis is restored and the Readings recall the events when Our Lord gathered with His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion. After all have received Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament is processed to the Altar of Repose where it remains for adoration. After Mass, toward the end of Vespers, the Altar is stripped while Our Lord’s prayer on the cross (Psalm 22) is solemnly chanted. Following Vespers, the second Tenebrae service is prayed.

GOOD FRIDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Solemn Liturgy (Mass of the Pre-Sanctified): 7:00 p.m.

Tenebrae: 9:00 p.m.

Our Lord’s Death on the Cross is commemorated with the Solemn Liturgy for Good Friday. The service is moving in its starkness and consists of four parts: hearing the Lord’s Word, the Bidding Prayers, the Veneration of the Holy Cross, and the reception of Holy Communion from the Pre-Sanctified. During the first part, the faithful hear the fourth Passion Narrative from the Gospel according to St. John.

Following the Liturgy, the third Tenebrae service is prayed.

PASCHAL VIGIL

Blessing of Easter Baskets & Animals: Noon

Vigil Mass: 7:30 p.m.

The Western rite knows two celebrations of Our Lord’s Resurrection. The first and most ancient is the Great Vigil which, in the first seven centuries, was kept throughout the night and climaxed with the celebration of Holy Communion at dawn on Easter Day. In the past 13 centuries, the Great Vigil has been assigned to Holy Saturday afternoon or morning.

During the Paschal Vigil, worshipers gather quietly in the entrance for the blessing of fire. Then the Deacon leads the faithful into the Nave. While the worshipers are taking their places, the ancient Easter hymn of praise (Praeconium) is sung and the candles of the faithful and throughout the church are lit. Following this candlelight ceremony, Old Testament prophecies are read. This Service of Readings is followed by the blessing of the Baptismal font. The Litany of the Saints leads the faithful to a joy-filled celebration of Holy Mass. The service concludes with an abbreviated form of Vespers.

EASTER SUNDAY

Lauds: 9:15 a.m.

Mass: 10:00 a.m.

The Resurrexi Mass (“Mass of the Resurrection”) is the chief celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection. It commences with the blessing of the faithful with the holy water that was blessed at the Great Vigil. Then the Mass proceeds according to the usual order and is augmented with the beautiful Easter sequence (Victimae paschali laudes) as well as many familiar Easter Scripture readings and hymns.

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Lent at St Michael’s Church

Lent 2017

Lent begins on Wednesday, March 1. It is a season of instruction in the Christian Faith which centers primarily in the great mystery of Our Lord’s Suffering, Death and Resurrection and climaxes in the triduum sacrum (“holy three days”) of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.

Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Holy Lent, should be observed with worship in church. Mass will begin at 7 p.m., and will be preceded by “The Imposition Of Ashes.” As the ashes are applied, these words will be said: “Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” This ceremony reminds us both of the penalty of sin, and that we daily ought to put to death our sinful desires so that we might more fully embrace the newness of life given in Holy Baptism.

The Three Disciplines of Lent

Lent involves the practice of three disciplines as a preparation for the newness of life. This newness of life we celebrate with much joy at Easter, not only in the faithful remembrance of the Resurrection of Our Lord, but also in the spiritual resurrection of our lives from dead works to serve the living God. These three disciplines revolve around

  • Increased prayer (public and private),
  • unostentatious fasting or self-denial, and
  • the sacrificial giving of alms (charitable donations).

All three Lenten disciplines form a unit in order to aid the Christian in his observance of Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. For Christ’s advice in these matters, consult the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 6:1-21.

Increased Prayer

Extra public worship is a vital part of Lenten life, and our parishioners are given ample opportunity to cultivate this virtue. Mass will be celebrated every day in Lent. Each day has its own unique theme, which lead us to seem the several aspects of Our Lord’s passionate grace. The daily schedule is as follows:

    Sunday………………… 10 a.m.
    Monday……………….. 10 a.m.
    Tuesday…………………. 8 a.m.
    Wednesday…………….. 7 p.m.
    Thursday………………… 8 a.m.
    Friday………………….. 10 a.m.
    Saturday………………. 10 a.m.

In addition, the Stations of the Cross with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be celebrated every Friday at 7 p.m.

Increased private prayers and devotions at home should also be cultivated during this Season. These prayers and devotions should begin and be formed by reading from the Holy Scriptures. This year parishioners are especially encouraged to spend each day in Lent reading one or two chapters each day from the prophet Jeremiah.

Fasting & Abstention

In the Orthodox Church fasting is not an individual practice, but a communal habit. The purpose of this fast is to bring to our mind, each day, Our Lord’s Passion. Fasting also allows the entire body to participate in the penitence characteristic of this Holy Season.

As a community, on Mondays through Saturdays we abstain from all meat and meat products (except fish); and we fast by limiting the amount of food we eat by eating only one full meal, eating one smaller meal, and refraining from all snacks.

The Lenten Fast does not offer suggestions on what to “give up.” Rather, it prescribes the common rule the faithful are to follow as they fast together. Individuals may choose to “give up” additional items during Lent, but such choices should not replace the Lenten fast, and should be made in consolation with individ

ual’s spiritual father. Likewise, those who, for medical or other legitimate reasons, find it difficult to observe the Lenten Fast, should speak with their spiritual father concerning legitimate modifications in order to keep the spirit of the Fast.

Almsgiving

Extra Alms and charitable donations should be made during Lent, even for those of us who tithe. These alms can come from the money saved by eating less during Lent. By giving to those in need, we remind ourselves that Our Lord’s love knows no economic boundaries.

To assist your Lenten almsgiving, look especially for the Lenten coin boxes which are available in the Narthex. Money received from these folders will help the Archdiocese “Food for Hungry People” program.

You may also wish to designate a particular local charity for additional funds. Such charities may include the local FOCUS North America chapter, the IOCC, the OCMC, the Crisis Pregnancy Center, or any number of homeless shelters.

Laudable Lenten Customs

Lent is especially the time when Christians put the remembrance of Our Lord’s Passion above all other pursuits. In our modern and permissive age it is unpopular to point out suc

h things, but this very fact indicates how much such pointing-out is needed.

For this reason, Lent is a closed season of the Church Year. This means that the solemnities of this season should not be disturbed by wedding celebrations and activities that would encourage one away from the three Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and charitable giving.

In addition, the Liturgy itself during Holy Lent expresses the seasons’ penitential character. The Gloria in excelsis, the Alleluia, bells, and extra organ music are omitted. Somber violet covers both Altar and Celebrant, lightened on only two occasions: Laetare Sunday, with rose as the proper color; and Holy Thursday, when white is used for the Mass of the Institution of Our Lord’s Supper.

Passion Sunday falls on April 2 this year. At this time, the Lenten observance is heightened in anticipation of the greater nearness of the celebration of Our Lord’s Death. Passion Sunday is when violet veils are placed over crucifixes, icons and statutes in church and home.

Holy Week

Lent concludes with the Holy Week observances. Mass will be celebrated each day of Holy Week at 7 p.m., climaxing with the triduum sacrum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Pascha.

On Maundy Thursday evening (April 13) in a most splendid and dignified Sung Mass, the Institution of the Most Blessed Sacrament will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m. This Mass concludes with the solemn Procession and the Stripping of the Altar. Every communicant should make every effort to receive Holy Communion on this sacred evening.

The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ will be celebrated with the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy on Good Friday (April 14) beginning at 7 p.m. This Solemn Liturgy includes the Sacrament of Holy Communion and a sermon based on the Passion Narrative according to St. John. Every member should make an effort to attend the Good Friday Solemn Liturgy.

The Queen of Feasts will be celebrated with great joy at St Michael’s Church. The feast will commence with the Great Vigil of Easter, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Holy Saturday (April 15). Then, on Easter Sunday (April 16), we shall hear again the Gospel of Our Lord’s Resurrection at the Easter Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. How greatly our joy would be increased if every communicant member of our Parish would come to the Altar on the Queen of Feasts!

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2017 Lenten Retreat

The Society of St Benedict will host their annual Lenten Retreat on Saturday, March 4, at St Michael Orthodox Christian Church in Whittier.

“The Character of the Godly Heart” is the theme of the retreat. Rev. Dr. Calinic Berger, Assistant Pastor at St Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, will offer three meditations during the retreat. In addition to the meditations, this retreat follows the Benedictine model of a “silent retreat.” Therefore, there will be ample quiet time for personal prayer, reflection, and meditation.

This event is intended to provide a break from the busyness of this world, to offer time to learn how to live the season of Lent, and to refresh and prepare the soul for the Lenten journey.

The retreat begins at 9 a.m. with prayer according to the rule of St Benedict, and concludes at 3 p.m. Lunch will be provided, and a free will donation is appreciated. Child care, unfortunately, will not be available.

Fr. Calinic earned a PhD in Systematic theology from Catholic University of America in Washington DC. He has been a Visiting Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers NY, and has taught and published on Orthodox theology and spiritual life in a variety of venues.

For more information or to RSVP, please call or email the St Michael parish office.

St Michael Orthodox Church is located at 3333 Workman Mill Road, across the street from Rio Hondo College.

 

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Bless This Home

The blessiHouseBlessing3ng of a home is an ancient Christian practice that helps us remember that our Christian life of faith and love is lived not only in Church on Sundays but also in the home daily.

The Orthodox tradition (Western and Eastern) is to bless homes in the days and weeks after Epiphany. The connection to Epiphany is important.

At the first Epiphany, the Magi entered the home of the Holy Family to present their gifts. Blessing the home opens our eyes to see that Christ already lives in our home; and it acknowledges that our entire life—even the most mundane, routine, and intimate aspects—is a gift that we offer and ask Our Lord to bless.

Additionally, the Gospel reading for the first two Sundays after Epiphany center around the home. On the first Sunday, we hear of the Child Jesus in His Father’s home, doing His Father’s business. On the second Sunday, we hear of Christ blessing a wedding (and thereby, the establishment of a new home and family) with His presence. Blessing the home teaches us that we must also focus more on our heavenly Father’s business of prayer, fasting, faith and love; and less on seeking pleasure in this world. It also teaches us that the Lord’s marriage blessing extends beyond the wedding day, and is intended to enrich, strengthen, and encourage all aspects of family life.

The words of blessing ask the Lord defend and protect the home from discord and strife; to fortify and grant healing when we suffer any affliction at home; and to inspire the family to teach, model, and live Christian values. With these words, the blessing of the home hopes to bring calmness and serenity in the place where you live.

When the prayers are said, holy water is used together with incense. The incense indicates that the prayers and the Lord’s blessing pervade the entire house, and remind us that we are the fragrance of Christ (2 Cor. 2.15), called to live a holy life in every part of our home, with every member of our family.

The holy water is used to chase away all devilish thoughts and desires, to protect from harm, and to bring tranquility to the home. The prayer used in blessing the water says it this way: “Let this water serve thee, O God, in expelling demons and curing diseases. When it is sprinkled in the homes of the faithful, may they be cleansed and delivered from harm. Let these homes enjoy a spirit of goodness and an air of tranquility, freed from baneful and hidden snares.”

In addition to the prayers, the door is marked with chalk as a daily and annual witness (mostly to the inhabitants) that the home is also the Lord’s residence. Applied are both the numbers which indicate the year of blessing, and the letters C, M, B. These letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.”

The blessing of the home is not limited to the days after Epiphany. The blessing should also be used whenever Christians move into a new residence, or whenever there is external or internal strife in the home or family. Toward this end, there are also other rites for blessing the home which the priest may use as suggested by the particular situation.

Whether it is done annually or when there is a distressing time, the blessing of the home is another why of asking God’s grace to overcome the fallout of sin, even in our homes. It’s all part of living as God’s people and being sustained by His mercy.

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