Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Launch out into the deep...

We were delighted to worship with His Eminence, our Archbishop DMITRI, on Sunday at Christ the Saviour Church in McComb, Mississippi. At the beginning of the liturgy, two new subdeacons were tonsured to serve the mission there. In his sermon, Vladyka encouraged us to learn from Christ's words to the disciples in Luke 5: "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

We live in a culture that is blessed with great material abundance. And yet, in the midst of that abundance is a hunger for the Truth that is Christ. As Orthodox missionaries in the American South, we must risk bearing witness to the fullness of that Truth - going deeper into the seas around us that we might share the Gospel in all its challenging splendor. By God's grace, some will respond and seek to become a part of the Church.

His Eminence also noted that when we proclaim the Truth of Christ in its fullness, other Christian groups may come to take more seriously the entirety of the Great Tradition that is frequently distorted or neglected by so many. For whenever the Truth is embraced in its fullness, God is glorified.

After Liturgy, we shared a marvellous lunch in the parish hall and enjoyed good conversation about the magnificent things happening throughout the diocese.

Eis polla eti, Despota! Many years, Master!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Revised Schedule for this weekend, September 22-23:

We will sing Reader's Vespers on Saturday, September 22 at 5:00 PM.

On Sunday morning, September 23, we will meet at the church and assemble a car-pool to depart for Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in McComb, Mississippi, for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with His Eminence, our Archbishop Dmitri.

We plan to depart from the church parking lot at 8:30 AM.

No Sunday morning services will be held in Baton Rouge on September 23.

The Liturgy in McComb will begin at 10:00 AM with the vesting of the archbishop. A light lunch will follow in the parish house.

This is a great opportunity for our mission community to meet and worship with our beloved arch-pastor. Several years ago, His Eminence was profiled by Frederica Mathewes-Green in Christianity Today. The article is available here.

Please join us for the trip!

Call 225-241-2926 or email for more information.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 14:
Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

Two events in connection with the Honorable Cross of Christ are commemorated on this day: first, the finding of the Honorable Cross on Golgotha and second, the return of the Honorable Cross from Persia to Jerusalem. Visiting the Holy Land, the holy Empress Helena decided to find the Honorable Cross of Christ. An old Jewish man named Judah was the only one who knew where the Cross was located, and, constrained by the empress, he revealed that the Cross was buried under the temple of Venus that Emperor Hadrian had built on Golgotha. The empress ordered that this idolatrous temple be razed and, having dug deep below it, found three crosses. While the empress pondered on how to recognize which of these was the Cross of Christ, a funeral procession passed by. Patriarch Macarius told them to place the crosses, one by one, on the dead man. When they placed the first and second cross on the dead man, the dead man lay unchanged. When they placed the third cross on him, the dead man came back to life. By this they knew that this was the Precious and Life-giving Cross of Christ. They then placed the Cross on a sick woman, and she became well. The patriarch elevated the Cross for all the people to see, and the people sang with tears: "Lord, have mercy!''

Empress Helena had a silver case made and set the Honorable Cross in it. Later, the Persian Emperor Chozroes conquered Jerusalem, enslaved many people, and took the Lord's Cross to Persia. The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years. In the year 628 the Greek Emperor Heraclius defeated Chozroes and, with much ceremony, returned the Cross to Jerusalem. As he entered the city Emperor Heraclius carried the Cross on his back, but suddenly was unable to take another step. Patriarch Zacharias saw an angel preventing the emperor from bearing the Cross on the same path that the Lord had walked barefoot and humiliated. The patriarch communicated this vision to the emperor. The emperor removed his raiment and, in ragged attire and barefoot, took up the Cross, carried it to Golgotha, and placed it in the Church of the Resurrection, to the joy and consolation of the whole Christian world.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

September 8: Nativity of the Theotokos

The first great feast of the liturgical year commemorates the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. According to the Prologue of Ohrid:

"The Holy Virgin Mary was born of aged parents, Joachim and Anna. Her father was of the lineage of David, and her mother of the lineage of Aaron. Thus, she was of royal birth by her father, and of priestly birth by her mother. In this, she foreshadowed Him Who would be born of her as King and High Priest. Her parents were quite old and had no children. Because of this they were ashamed before men and humble before God. In their humility they prayed to God with tears, to bring them joy in their old age by giving them a child, as He had once given joy to the aged Abraham and his wife Sarah by giving them Isaac. The Almighty and All-seeing God rewarded them with a joy that surpassed all their expectations and all their most beautiful dreams. For He gave them not just a daughter, but the Mother of God. He illumined them not only with temporal joy, but with eternal joy as well. God gave them just one daughter, and she would later give them just one grandson-but what a daughter and what a Grandson! Mary, Full of grace, Blessed among women, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Altar of the Living God, the Table of the Heavenly Bread, the Ark of God's Holiness, the Tree of the Sweetest Fruit, the Glory of the race of man, the Praise of womanhood, the Fount of virginity and purity-this was the daughter given by God to Joachim and Anna. She was born in Nazareth, and at the age of three, was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem. In her young womanhood she returned again to Nazareth, and shortly thereafter heard the Annunciation of the Holy Archangel Gabriel concerning the birth of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, from her most-pure virgin body."

On the evening of Saturday, September 8, we will welcome Father Ted Pisarchuk to Baton Rouge. He will serve Great Vespers Saturday evening at 5:00 PM and Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, September 9 at 10:00 AM.

Father Ted is Rector of Saint Justin the Martyr Orthodox Church in Jacksonville, Florida. He also serves as Director of Missions and Evangelism for the Diocese of the South.

As always, our services are in English and visitors are always welcome - and encouraged! - to join us.

Troparion for the Nativity of the Theotokos - Tone 4

Your Nativity, O Virgin,
Has proclaimed joy to the whole universe!
The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God,
Has shone from You, O Theotokos!
By annulling the curse,
He bestowed a blessing.
By destroying death, He has granted us eternal Life.