Go Safe, Go Slow: Re-Opening the Parish

Dear Parishioners & Friends:

Christ is risen!

In the spirit of love, His Eminence has provided us with a modification to his previous Directive as a first phase to reopening our church in a measured way. This Directive gives us prudent path toward receiving the Sacraments beginning Sunday, May 17.

Since it is a first step, there are many details. These details are important to meet various regulations, but they can also seem a bit overwhelming.

I found it very helpful to join with His Eminence in a Zoom call yesterday with nearly 300 priests and deacons in the Archdiocese. He spoke about the details and answered our many questions. In the same way, I will be pleased to talk with you and answer any questions you have when we have our Zoom call this Sunday after Mass.

Before getting to the details, let me first summarize the spirit and tone of the Directive and today’s call.

His Eminence urges us to not be afraid, and at the same time to be prudent. None of us wants to do anything that will hurt others—either physically or, most importantly, spiritually. To paraphrase His Eminence, “When the life of humans is endangered, doctors use their tools and we [bishops and priests] use our tools: prayer, forgiveness of sins, material aid—all toward the goal of saving souls.”

That was the loving message from His Eminence. It is a message of hope and encouragement, and filled with pastoral wisdom.

In collaboration with our Diocesan Bishops, His Eminence has given us discretion in proceeding with caution in the upcoming weeks. By your continued prayers, they hope that this gradual increase in our sacramental life will not require any reversal of the positive trends that we have recently observed.

As you know, the situation in Los Angeles county is different than in other places. Therefore, with pastoral discretion, here is how we will implement His Eminence’s instructions at St Michael’s:

Liturgy Online

  • Saturday Vespers, Sunday Lauds, and Sunday Mass will continue to be live streamed as before. (Other services will not be live streamed except for Ascension Day.)

Receiving Holy Communion

  • Laity may receive communion in family groups after the Mass by registering in advance. To register, you must contact Fr John the day before, and he will assign your family group a time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (A “family group” consists of those who live in the same dwelling.)
  • All who attend must wear a face covering, except at the moment when Holy Communion is received. (“The celebrant should not wear a face covering while serving.”)
  • Holy Communion will be offered in the usual manner. For your safety, Fr John will clean his fingers and hands frequently when giving communion.
  • Before receiving Holy Communion, prepare yourself by saying at least Psalm 42 [41], 84 [83], and 122 [121]. For your convenience, these Psalms, with other prayers before Communion, are attached.
  • Those experiencing cold or flu symptoms (fever, coughing, fatigue, etc.), the elderly, and any at-risk persons should remain at home, and may contact Fr John for an individual appointment to receive Confession and Holy Communion.
  • Before your scheduled time, please remain in your car and maintain appropriate physical distancing, wearing a face covering, if you interact with anyone outside your family group.
  • After receiving communion, please depart in the prescribed pattern and in a timely manner so that the next family group may enter.

Private Confession

  • Given the inability to confess during Lent and the long absence from Communion, as well as anxiety, fear, despair, and other passions we have all felt during this pandemic, you are encouraged to come to the Sacrament of Penance (Private Confession) before receiving the Eucharist.
  • Confession will be available by appointment on weekdays and Saturdays.
  • Physical distancing between Fr John and the penitent will be observed; and the absolution will be spoken from a distance without placing a hand on the penitent’s head.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Before May 15, the entire facility will be professionally deep-cleaned and sanitized for your safety.
  • When you arrive, we ask that you refrain from touching the pews, door handles, or other items (except the top of the communion rail, which will be sanitized between each person).
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in the Narthex. Because supplies are short, we ask that you consider bringing your own for personal use.
  • Please observe all posted signs which encourage good hygiene practices.

Other Gatherings

  • The church and parish hall are closed for all non-liturgical functions. All Bible studies, Didache, catechetical instruction, organizational meetings, and various groups will continue to meet online (i.e., via Zoom).
  • Beginning May 18, by appointment only the church will be open during the week for private prayer and lighting candles. Fr John will be available during this time to lead a devotion or meet with you, following the safe procedures in effect in our county. If you come during these times, please limit your contact with furniture, pews, etc. and follow posted signs when you make use of this opportunity.
  • Mass will be celebrated daily (see schedule below) and family groups may register to receive communion after the Mass on any of those days. To register, you must contact Fr John the day before who will assign your family group a time.
    • Mondays: 7 p.m.
    • Tuesdays: 9 a.m.
    • Wednesdays: 9 a.m.
    • Thursdays: 9 a.m.
    • Fridays: 7 p.m.
    • Saturdays: 9 a.m.

Finally, His Eminence made it clear that our Archdiocese is partnering with other Orthodox bishops as well as Catholic bishops and Protestant leaders to petition our State Government and Governor to certify in clear terms that clergy as “essential workers” and worship as “essential.”

Your patience, understanding, care for others, and most especially prayers for our state and nation during this pandemic health crisis are appreciated and welcome. And, by the prayers of the Holy Archangel Michael, may our parish family be guarded and protected from all harm.

Your spiritual father in Christ,

Rev Msgr John W Fenton

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Watching Our Live-Stream Mass

Be assured of my prayers, and that each one of you is close to my heart while we adjust to our temporary living and work situation.

In his latest directive, Metropolitan Joseph has required all parishes in California (and other states like New York) to celebrate Mass (Divine Liturgy) on Sunday, together with Lauds (Orthros). However, only three persons may be present during these services: the priest, one server, and one chanter.

His Eminence also encourages all parishes to live-stream the liturgical services so that people may pray together, albeit imperfectly, in their homes while they follow the directives of the government.

We live-streamed last night’s prayers, and will do the same tomorrow morning from 9 a.m. until the end of Mass. (The Mass will begin at 10 a.m.).

Here is the link: https://stmichaelwhittier.org/parish-site/videos.

This link automatically takes you to our Facebook page. You don’t need a Facebook account to watch the services; however, you may need to expand the picture. We have learned that this will work much better on a computer than on a phone.

THIS NEXT PART IS IMPORTANT

It is really hard, and unreal, to participate in the Mass by watching it on a device in your home. It’s easy to get distracted, to get up and get something, or to do several things at once. I urge you to resist these temptations as you watch.

Here are practical tips to get the most out of the live-streamed Mass:

  • Before 9 a.m., place your device (phone, television, computer, tablet) on or near your icon corner; OR, surround your device with one or more icons.
  • Turn off all possible distractions (phone, notifications, oven, alarms, etc.)
  • Like you do before church, take care of all personal needs beforehand.
  • Dress like you would for a regular Sunday Mass. (Casual clothes may encourage a casual, non-prayerful attitude.)
  • Follow your regular pattern for maintaining the Eucharistic fast, refraining from food, coffee, etc. until after the Mass.
  • Print the attached service booklets and have them in hand.
  • Follow along during the services, and sing/speak along with us, in whatever way you normally would do during the Mass.
  • As you are able, stand, sit, and kneel as you normally would do during the Mass.
  • Finally, resist the urge to offer any comments online until after the Mass is over.

In short, I encourage you to make these few hours a time of sincere devotion and worship.

These are strange days, but they can be a blessing if we use them rightly:

  • By spending some of our “shelter time” in prayer and spiritual reading
  • By caring for each other and those in need in whatever way we can (even by simply making a phone call)
  • By entering more deeply into the fast itself

Again, please be assured of my prayers.

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Annual Lenten Retreat

To aid your Lenten Fast with prayer and meditation, the Society of St Benedict of St Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church will host the V Rev Patrick Cardine on Saturday, March 14, for a day-long Lenten Retreat.

Fr Patrick will present three meditations on the theme “Discovering Stability in Community.” Fr Patrick is the Pastor of St Patrick Orthodox Church in Bealeton VA.

His meditations will be will surrounded by prayer and Liturgy, silence for reflection and private prayer, and opportunities for confession.

The retreat begins with First Hour (Prime) prayers at 9 a.m. and concludes by 3 p.m. with Ninth Hour (None) prayers.

Fast friendly meals will be provided; however, child care is not offered. St Michael Church is located at 3333 Workman Mill Road, Whittier CA 90601.

Please RSVP by sending an email to St Michael Church (stmichaelwhittier@gmail.com) or by telephoning the parish office (562.692.6121).

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Advent Retreat

The Society of St Benedict will host the annual Advent Retreat on December 14 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Very Reverend Patrick Henry Reardon from All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago will offer three meditations during the retreat.

Fr Patrick is known for his podcasts and sermons on Ancient Faith Radio, and for his many books on the Saints, the Atonement, and the Scriptures. He is also known for his work with the Fellowship of St James.

In the pattern of a Benedictine retreat, Fr Patrick’s meditations will be surrounded by prayer and quiet meditation. The minor hours from the Monastic Breviary (prime, terce, sext, none) will be prayed and Mass (Divine Liturgy) will be celebrated. Generous time will also be allotted for quiet contemplation on the meditations.

This retreat is primarily for you—to help remove you, for at least a few hours, from the many distractions in December so that you can focus on the gift of Our Lord in our flesh.

The retreat begins with Prime at 9 a.m. and concludes by 3 p.m. with None and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Please RSVP by email (StMichaelWhittier@gmail.com) or telephone (562.692.6121).

There is no cost and meals are provided. Donations are gratefully accepted.

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Lessons & Carols

Christmas Lessons & Carols will be held on Saturday, 21 December beginning at 6 p.m. This service features 9 Scripture readings concerning Our Lord’s Nativity interspersed with special choral selections and congregational hymns.

A special choir of parishioners and friends of St Michael will be accompanied by a string quartet and conducted by Nathan Fratzke, a USC PhD choral conductor candidate, and Sbdn Ian Abodeely at the organ.

All are welcome to join us for this service of prayer and song, preparing us to celebrate with great joy Our Lord’s holy Birth.

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The Feast of Saint Michael

The celebration of the Patronal Feast will commence with Vespers on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 6 p.m. Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, September 29, 2019, at 10 a.m.

His Grace, Bishop JOHN, will preside at all of these
services, and will be our Guest of Honor at the Patronal Banquet.

Buy Patronal Feast Tickets




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Vice & Virtue: A Men’s Retreat

On Saturday, April 13, St Michael will host “Vice & Virtue: A Men’s Retreat.” Participants will be challenged to reflect on the examples of St David the King and St Joseph the Spouse of the Virgin Mary in their personal battle to be victorious against various vices.

The retreat begins at 9 a.m. with prayer and Mass (Divine Liturgy) and concludes with prayer at 4 p.m. In addition to the main presentations, time will be aloted for silent reflection, conversation, and confession.

The retreat will be led by David Paddison, Fr John Fenton, and Dn Nicholas Mamey. Various resources will also be available.

The cost to cover meals is $12.50 online, or $15 in person. Registration is not required, but is requested. See the link below.

For more information or details, contact Fr John Fenton at stmichaelwhittier@gmail.com

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Lenten Retreat March 16

To aid your Lenten Fast with prayer and meditation, the Society of St Benedict of St Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church will host the V Rev John Finley on Saturday, March 16, for a day-long Lenten Retreat.

Fr John will present three meditations on the theme “The Inner Heaven of Man” which will focus our attention on the healing of Mind, Heart, and Will.

Fr John is the chairman of the Department of Missions & Evangelism for the Antiochian Archdiocese. His meditations will be will surrounded by prayer and Liturgy, silence for reflection and private prayer, and opportunities for confession.

The retreat begins with First Hour (Prime) prayers at 9 a.m. and concludes by 3 p.m. with Ninth Hour (None) prayers. Fast friendly meals will be provided; however, child care is not offered.

St Michael Church is located at 3333 Workman Mill Road, Whittier CA 90601. Please RSVP by sending an email to Fr John Fenton (frjohnfenton@gmail.com) or by telephoning the parish office (562.692.6121).

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