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.

Read More

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.

 

 

 

Read More

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.

 

 

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

 

Read More

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.

Read More