Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holy Transfiguration Mission Participates at Annual Patronal Feast of ROCOR Synod Cathedral

Image Source: eadiocese.org
[Subdeacon Benjamin]: I was blessed to participate on Monday in the annual patronal celebration of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign, the seat of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.  Out of the 6-7 subdeacons serving I was asked to hold prayer book for the bishops during the antiphons and litanies, bear a fan for the small entrance, bear a fan for the great entrance (pictured above), and serve Archbishop Gabriel his zapivka (blessed bread and wine after Holy Communion). 

During the communion of the faithful I was also able to have a short conversation with Metropolitan Hilarion.  I introduced myself and Holy Transfiguration Mission, which we discussed briefly, and asked his prayers for us. 

Patronal Feast Day of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign

Source: eadiocese.org

December 11, 2012
New York City: ROCOR’s First Hierarch led the Patronal Feast Day of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign
On Monday, December 10, the patronal feast day of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign was celebrated in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. Divine services were led by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York. The First Hierarch was co-served by Archbishop Mark of Berlin & Germany, Archbishop Kyrill of Western America & San Francisco, Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop George of Mayfield, and a multitude of clergy from every corner of the Russian Diaspora. Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Jerome of Manhattan was also present at the service.

The Liturgy was held in the presence of the wonder-working Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora. The triumphal singing of the Synodal choir, under the direction of P.A. Fekula, facilitated the prayerful and festal mood of all of the clergy and worshipers present.

Upon completion of the Liturgy, the archpastors and clergy performed a short moleben before the wonder-working Icon of the Mother of God, after which the Primate of the Russian Church Abroad greeted concelebrating clergy and the faithful. For his dedicated labors on behalf of the Synodal Cathedral, warden Prince Vladimir K. Galitzine was awarded the Synodal Order of the Sign, 1st Class. The First Hierarch also awarded Synodal assistant Adam Krotov a Synodal gramota.
The sisterhood prepared a bountiful luncheon in the Synodal hall, during which festal speeches and congratulatory greetings were pronounced. During the luncheon, Metropolitan Hilarion was congratulated on the 28th anniversary of his hierarchal consecration. Below is a greeting to the Metropolitan from the vicar bishops and members of the Diocesan Council of the Eastern American Diocese:

Your Eminence,
Most Reverend Master, bless!

On behalf of the members of the Diocesan Council, and all of the clergy and faithful children of the Eastern American Diocese, accept our sincerest congratulations on the 28th anniversary of your elevttion to the episcopacy.

Over the past 28 years, you have labored tirelessly for the benefit of your flock, fervently praying for their salvation. First the faithful of the Eastern American Diocese, then of the Australian, and eventually of the entire Church Abroad have come to know you as a loving pastor and spiritual father. We are grateful to the Almighty for such a wise and humble Hierarch.

We wish, Your Eminence, that the Lord God fortify you spiritually and physically for your ongoing labor of service as First Hierarch in the vineyard of Christ.

Bishop Jerome was then greeted on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of his consecration to the episcopacy. Below is a greeting to His Grace from the First Hierarch:
Your Grace,
Dear Brother in the Lord,

On this joyous day for our Diocese, we send Your Grace our heartfelt congratulations on the fourth anniversary of your episcopal consecration. By the Mercy of God, you have faithfully carried out your archpastoral duties by selflessly giving yourself entirely over to the flock in service of Christ’s Holy Church. Your diligent service in the Synodal Cathedral of the Church Abroad and Archpastoral care of the many parishes you take the time and effort to visit have led the faithful to recognize you as a discerning and loving shepherd.

May the Lord grant you many years of health and renewed spiritual strength to continue carrying your weighty archpastoral cross.

Photos by George Konyev - Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Photo Report: Our First Divine Liturgy

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

On the blessed 25th Sunday after Pentecost, 2012, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission served our first Divine Liturgy.  With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Peter, Peoria native Archpriest David Moser celebrated with us and along with his parents and some of his extended family who traveled from Kentucky to be with us as well.  Our service was graciously hosted at the historic Zion Church in Brimfield, also with some of their parishioners in attendance.

Fr. David's homily expressed the all-importance of forgiveness in order to attain the humility that leads to purity in Christ.  The Orthodox faithful partook of the Holy Mysteries.  All 21 in attendance stayed after the services for refreshments and conversation.  

Many thanks to everyone who attended, to those who served, and to everyone who has prayed for us.  We are also thankful to our hosts, Zion Church of Brimfield and St. Andrews Church in Peoria.  God willing, this will have been the first of many liturgies to come in the Greater Peoria Area at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Word on Thanksgiving

Source: pravmir.com

Bishop Mitrophan (Znosko-Borovsky) of Boston (+2002)   Nov 22nd, 2012

Bishop Mitrophan (Znosko-Borovsky) of Boston
What is “thanksgiving”? Taking into consideration that everyone in America who is a believer, and everyone who recognizes God as Creator, today turns to God with hymns of praise, it follows that Thanksgiving Day has a religious character.

For us Orthodox Christians, thanksgiving is our testimony to God’s presence in the life of the world and of human beings.
Thanksgiving is the profoundly religious response of our hearts, testifying with reverent joy and trembling that the Lord participates in our personal lives through His majesty, glory, and love.

Thanksgiving is our response to God’s gift. It is our joyful recognition of the mercy and goodness that God has shown to us in our lives.

Finally, thanksgiving – a feeling of gratitude – is the foundation of our continuously renewed life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The great Apostle Paul teaches us: Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks [1 Thessalonians 5:17-18].

This feeling of thanksgiving to God is the primary, basic feeling in which a child should be brought up from the earliest age, in order to become an emotionally healthy person who is inclined towards, and capable of, spiritual development.

It is with these feelings and these wishes that we turn today to the Almighty with hymns of praise. Amen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Announcement - Our First Divine Liturgy is Scheduled

http://www.peoriacountyillinois.info/photos/brimfield_zionchurch1.jpgGlory be to Jesus Christ!

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Peter, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission will celebrate our first Divine Liturgy this Sunday, November 25, at 10AM.  This will be the first-ever Divine Liturgy served in the Peoria, Illinois area by the Mid-America Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The service will be held at at the historic Zion Church in Brimfield, Illinois. 

View Larger Map

The service is to be celebrated by Peoria native, Archpriest David Moser.  Fr. David was received into the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1970's while he was living in Indianapolis.  He was ordained into the priesthood by reigning Archbishop Alypy of Chicago and Mid-America and currently serves as rector of St. Seraphim Orthodox Church in Boise, Idaho.

Services will be in English, starting with the Hours then the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom according to the Russian Typikon with Old (Julian) Calendar commemorations: 25th Sunday after Pentecost, Holy Hierarch John the Merciful, and St. Nilus the Faster.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend this history-making event.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kyrill Starts Holy Land Visit

Cited from: pravmir.com
Original Source: brecorder.com

Nov 10th, 2012

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill arrived in Jerusalem on Friday on his first visit to the Holy Land since becoming head of the powerful church in 2009, an AFP correspondent said. As his motorcade arrived at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, he was welcomed by a choir of Russian women and leaders of the Greek Orthodox church, as well as members of the Coptic and Armenian churches.

Image Source: Mospat.ru

Accompanied by heavy Russian and Israeli security, Kirill was led to the home of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, who welcomed him and proceeded to accompany him to the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The short distance to the church was scented with incense burnt by shop owners in honour of the event. Hundreds of Russian pilgrims eagerly awaited the arrival of their patriarch at the church.

During his visit, Kirill will be meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan in a new sign of his importance as a global religious figure. His trip “is the most important (religious) visit (to Israel) since that of the Pope Benedict XVI” in 2009, Israel’s foreign ministry said.

Over the course of his six-day stay, Kirill, 65, is due to celebrate the liturgy with Theophilos and meet other local Christian leaders. He will travel to the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, and visit Russian churches in Ein Karem and on the Mount of Olives. Kirill will meet with Israel’s chief rabbis, and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. He will travel to Mount Tabor in northern Israel and visit Nazareth and Tiberius, as well as the nearby Church of the Twelve Apostles. He will then cross over to Jordan.

Spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church, Father Alexander Volkov, told AFP the “visit has not and cannot have a political aspect.” But Kirill’s presence could help sort out a local problem in favour of the church, involving the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located on the site where most Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. A dispute with an Israeli water company over unpaid bills has prompted the Greek Orthodox church, which is a joint custodian, to threaten to close it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Liturgy as a Way of Evangelisation

December, 12
Evangelisation is the proclamation of the good news of salvation. It is not merely teaching a system of beliefs or transmitting a moral code. In this article Professor Archimandrite Job Getcha highlights the connection between evangelisation and our encounter with the living God in the Orthodox Liturgy.
Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection Cathedral
Des Plaines, IL
Evangelisation is the proclamation of the good news of salvation. It is not merely teaching a system of beliefs or transmitting a moral code. Therefore, evangelisation should always be linked with a personal experience, and an encounter with the living God, and not only with a pedagogical method. For the Orthodox Church, mission and evangelisation have always been linked with the liturgical experience. Worship has always been the starting point of mission and the heart of evangelisation.

If we look in history, we can find several illustrations of this. One can recall the story of Cyril and Methodius. In the 9th century, when Rastislav, the chief of the people of Moravia, became irritated by the attitude of the Franc missionaries who were using Latin in the evangelisation process of his people, he asked the Byzantine emperor Michael III to send him missionaries who would know the Slavic language. Then the two learned brothers of Thessalonica, Cyril and Methodius, were sent to Moravia, and started their missionary work by translating the liturgical lectionary into the Slavic language as well as the liturgical books. It is said that Cyril translated the text of the four gospels to be read at worship, as well as the texts of the various liturgical services: matins, hours, vespers, compline and the Divine Liturgy. This is an important detail: the two famous missionaries did not start their evangelisation mission by translating a catechism, neither a handbook of doctrine, nor a compilation of sermons, but by bringing the liturgical texts to the language of the local people so that their mission could be done by the means of the liturgy.

Another great example is the conversion of Kievan Rus’ around 988. In the famous Russian Primary Chronicle, it is said that the decisive point in the Christianisation of the Russian people was the experience of Prince Vladimir’s legates attending worship at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople: “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere on earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among humans, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty”.

Indeed, this beauty, which is transmitted through the liturgical worship, is perceived in the Orthodox Church as an epiphany of Heaven on earth, as a way of uniting to the heavenly beauty, a bridge between the Kingdom of God and this world, a connecting point between time and eternity. Through worship, the Christian message does not remain merely a dead letter but becomes a living spirit, which vivifies and deifies.

This story shows us that one cannot reduce Christianity to a series of moral rules, neither to a philosophical or doctrinal system. Christianity is a way of life, where doctrine is inseparable from the glorification of God. According to Georges Florovsky, “Christianity is a liturgical religion. The Church is first of all a worshipping community. Worship comes first, doctrine and discipline second”[1]. Through worship, the true glorification becomes the expression of the true doctrine: “lex orandi” becomes “lex credendi”, since worship is the bearer and transmitter of faith. This is an important fact that one should have always in mind when addressing the question of Christian evangelisation and mission in today’s world.

Recalling his encounter with the Orthodox Church when he was a young student, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia writes:

“As I entered St. Philip’s – for that was the name of the [Russian Orthodox] church – at first I thought that it was entirely empty. Outside in the street there had been brilliant sunshine, but inside it was cool, cavernous and dark. As my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, the first thing that caught my attention was an absence. There were no pews, no chairs in neat rows; in front of me stretched a wide and vacant expanse of polished floor. Then I realized that the church was not altogether empty. Scattered in the nave and aisles there were a few worshipers, most of them elderly. Along the walls there were icons, with flickering lamps in front of them, and at the east end there were burning candles in front of the icon screen. Somewhere out of sight a choir was singing. After a while a deacon came out from the sanctuary and went round the church censing the icons and the people, and I noticed that his brocade vestment was old and slightly torn. My initial impression of an absence was now replaced, with a sudden rush, by an overwhelming sense of presence. I felt that the church, so far from being empty, was full – full of countless unseen worshipers, surrounding me on every side. Intuitively I realized that we, the visible congregation, were part of a much larger whole, and that as we prayed we were being taken into an action far greater than ourselves, into an undivided, all-embracing celebration that united time and eternity, things below and things above.


Continue reading at: http://www.bogoslov.ru/en/text/2302256.html


Monday, November 5, 2012

What Must We Do For Our Prayers to be Heard?

Subdeacon Benjamin: In the context of this sermon, which is translated from Russian, the word "heard" must be read loosely. The Patriarch is addressing those who pray sincerely and yet don't receive, and yes still trust in God and His wisdom but do not stop there. They want to grow through the experience, learn, and become better. This is where the Patriarch's sermon applies. How is it that I become someone who prays more according to God's will, and also even more like those who the Scriptures tell us moved God to either action or to stay His hand. This is what the Patriarch means by being "heard".

In this respect, we are often not "heard". We pray for people to live, yet they die. We pray for healing, yet we still suffer. We pray for lots of things, yet we are not like those in the Scriptures that moved God. Patriarch Kyrill offers a path to change that:

“How you want the Lord to treat you is how you should treat your neighbors.”

This is the means by which we better follow God and thus improve the quality of our prayers to Him. It's important to look at this principle NOT legalistically, but qualitatively. If I show contempt for that which my Father loves, then what kind of a son am I? Should I expect that my Father will "hear" me cheerfully and enthusiastically? No. He will "hear" that I need to be disciplined. I should instead repent and sensitively care for what He loves, other people, especially the poor. Then when I pray He will certainly "hear" me more eagerly because I love what He loves. 

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
Nov 5th, 2012

Vladimir Nikolaevich Kireev, “The Mirror” (2009). (Fragment)
His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, delivered the following sermon on November 6, 2011, in the Church of the Joy of All Who Sorrow on Bolshaya Ordynka Street in Moscow. In his sermon, His Holiness combines a consideration of the Sunday Gospel reading (Luke 16:19-31) with reflections on the feast day of the Icon of the Joy of All Who Sorrow, which that year fell on Sunday. This year the icon is commemorated on this coming Tuesday.

Your Eminences and Graces! Dear Vladyka Hilarion!

I would like to thank you cordially for your kind words, for the wonderful gift of the icon of St. Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow, and for the vestments that were sewn to match those depicted on this icon.

Indeed, the Church is called upon to preserve tradition for one simple reason: because it is in the Church that man overcomes time. We have various means of dipping into the past: we can, for instance, read books or watch historical films – but this only makes us spectators of the past. In the Church, however, man becomes not just a spectator but, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a participant in all that the Lord has done for our salvation and even in that which is to come: in His birth, life, preaching, suffering, death, Resurrection, Ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His glorious Second Coming.

It is in the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that we, who are limited and weak, can partake of eternity through the Holy Mysteries; we can partake of that which was, which is, and which will be. It is in the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the Kingdom of God is revealed to us. It is no accident that at the beginning of the Church’s primary Mystery, that of the Holy Eucharist, we loudly proclaim these great words: “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!” This is because it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of the Church’s faithful, and in the community of the faith that the Kingdom of God is revealed to us.

We can come into contact with the Kingdom, although only slightly, while still living in this sinful world; but we do not always live according to the Law of God, rather we often live according to the law of passion and sin. How often this fleeting contact with the Kingdom of God during the Divine Liturgy – which calls forth joy, peace, and rest in our hearts – quickly vanishes and dissipates. Then once again we are left face to face with sin, with the passions, with sorrows…

But the Lord grants us the great opportunity of constantly coming into contact with His eternal and heavenly Kingdom: this means of coming into contact with God is prayer. Prayer possesses great power, but there is one necessary condition for our prayer truly to unite us with the Lord; there is one condition that must be met for God to answer our prayers.

In today’s reading from the Gospel according to Luke we are offered the Savior’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). This is one of the few places in Holy Scripture that offers us a glimpse of the mystery of the afterlife. Most likely no human words, knowledge, or categories of thought can give visible expression to the world that exists after man’s physical death. The Lord therefore speaks about this world in a language understandable to his hearers. He tells the parable of the rich man who lived sumptuously and the unfortunate and hungry Lazarus, who lay at the rich man’s gate covered in sores. Following his death, the unfortunate Lazarus – who had been covered in sores, who had been humiliated and powerless – found himself in the bosom of Abraham, in the Heavenly Kingdom; but the rich and successful man found himself in hades.

Reflecting on the meaning of this parable, St. Cyprian of Carthage spoke words that St. Basil the Great later repeated. These words help us to understand the necessary condition for God to hear our prayers: “If we do not hear the entreaties of the poor, then we are undeserving to have our prayers heard by God.” What wonderful and astonishing words! They resonate with the foundational “golden” rule of life laid down in the Gospel: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them (Matthew 7:12).

These words can also be paraphrased so as to say: “How you want the Lord to treat you is how you should treat your neighbors,” because the Lord appears to us in the image of our neighbor. If we are indifferent to the sorrows of others, if our hearts are deaf and unresponsive to human sorrow and need, then we will pray and weep in vain – these will be crocodile tears, tears for ourselves, tears that are not pleasing to God. Our prayer must be accompanied by help and love for our neighbors. Then we will be with Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham, then the Lord will hear our sighs.

As St. Cyril put it so beautifully, the entire mystery of our spiritual lives depends on this. There can be no prayer without good deeds; there can be no hope of salvation without good deeds, for faith without works is dead (cf. James 2:17).

His Holiness venerating the Icon of the Joy of All Who Sorrow, November 6, 2011, Moscow

When we enter this church with all our sorrows, when we bow down before the Icon of the Joy of All Who Sorrow and ask the Queen of Heaven to help us in our sorrow, let us then recall: Have we always helped the sorrowful? Have we not coldly and heartlessly passed by those asking for help? Have we perhaps justified ourselves by saying: I will not help them, they are such-and-such; there is no need to waste strength of soul and time on them… Then why should the Mother of God help us? 

Only because we are weeping before the icon from the pain that life circumstances have inflicted upon our hearts? Is this enough? St. Cyprian teaches us: no, it is not enough.

This is why an Orthodox parish or community that celebrates the Holy Eucharist, which comes into contact with the Kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, should be a place of mercy, charity, and real love – perhaps first of all to needy parishioners, to those standing right next to us: those who might not eat today after the Divine Liturgy; those who might shiver from the cold because their clothing is poor; those who live in unknown circumstances. After all, it often happens that people who come to church are alone and do not have what others have, for which reason they are seeking our help here. The Lord can send such help only through us, through our hands. Then, having graciously responded to the pain and suffering of another person, we will be heard by God and His Most Pure Mother, receiving that for which we have prayed.

All of this is taught to us by today’s feast day of the Icon of the Joy of All Who Sorrow; the wonderful Gospel reading teaches us this as well, unlocking the mystery of the afterlife; and that great saint, Cyprian of Carthage, who upheld Orthodoxy during the difficult persecution of faith in the third century, also teaches us this. Let us listen to these words and to this call, recognizing the connection between salvation and good deeds! As we embark on the path of performing good deeds, may the Lord grant us the joy of feeling His real presence in our lives! And may this feeling strengthen in us the faith and determination to do good for the glory of His holy name! Amen.

Source: pravmir.com

Friday, October 19, 2012

Russian Priest Saves 2,000 Babies From Abortion

by Thaddeus Baklinski
Thu Oct 18, 2012 13:40 EST

VOLGOGRAD, Russia, October 18, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - An Orthodox priest in the Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) region of Russia has been commended by the Russian Ministry of Health for his work in reducing the number of abortions in his district. His personal efforts in counseling and helping women to keep their babies has reduced the abortion rate in the Volgograd region by 25 percent over the past five years.

Fr. Alexis Tarasov helps Russia's women find a better path iFather Alexis Tarasov began his life saving work in his own parish in the town of Voljsk, where he said he spent hours talking with women who were considering abortion. He expanded his pro-life work with visits to the local hospital. Then, he and other like-minded priests, established a crisis pregnancy center.

With the support of his diocese, he approached the local authorities for help to expand the project.

“The program was approved in 2002 by the administration of Voljsk,” said Father Alexis. “Then the idea developed to create a regional center, with the support of the administration of Volgograd.”

The result was the creation of the Center for the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood, under the supervision the Archangel Raphael Orthodox Medical Society.

According to the Department of Health, more than 2,000 Volgograd women have chosen to abandon their original intention to have an abortion since that time.

Father Alexis explained that the focus of his project is simple: to provide women with trained and sympathetic listeners who will hear their concerns, give them full information on the abortion procedure and its potential effects on their own health and well-being, and offer them the material help they need.

“Quite often, the only thing needed to dissuade a mother from this terrible decision is simply to talk to someone with an open heart,” Father Alexis said.


Continue reading at lifesitenews.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Russia: The Orthodox spring

88% of the population professes to believe in God, while the number of agnostics and atheists is constantly dropping: a study examines religion’s comeback in former kingdom of State atheism.

By Alessio Schiesari

The long slog is over. The exile of the Orthodox Church from Russian society began in ’17 with the October Revolution and the birth of “gosateizm”, or State atheism.  Ninety five years on, the Patriarchate in Moscow is reliving its youth all over again. A recent survey carried out by the Levada Centre has captured the religious sentiment within the Federation: 79% of Russians profess themselves to be Orthodox, 6% Muslim and 3% are Jews, Catholics and Protestants. Believers as a whole make up 88% of the Russian population. This figure is higher than what it was before the Bolshevik revolution. The number of agnostics is constantly falling (7%), while barely 5% call themselves atheists. Following the fall of the USSR, just 34% of the Russian population called themselves believers. If this figure is compared to today’s, we see that in the past twenty years more than one in two Russians has discovered the faith. The spiritual counter-revolution affects members of the Orthodox faith above all, those who suffered the forced policies of “atheization”. From its very birth, the regime tried to uproot the roots of the Orthodox faith from Russia’s social fabric. The figures help us to understand the extent of the phenomenon: in 1919 there 54 thousand popes (priests?) active in the USSR. Twenty years later, there were just 500 left. Before the accession of the Bolsheviks to power there were a thousand churches in the capital. After the fall of the wall, only 40 remained. Since the fall of the USSR this number has steadily risen and today there are about 500 churches.


Continue reading at the source: vaticaninsider.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Patronal Feast of the Diocesan Cathedral - POKROV


Many photos of the divine services of the feast of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God which also coincided with the 2012 Diocesan Assembly:


2102 Diocesan Assembly

October 12, 2012 - Des Plaines, IL.

On the evening of October 11th, clergy and delegates from parishes throughout the diocesan began arriving in Chicago at the Cabrini Retreat Center for the 2012 Diocesan Assembly.  Many arriving in Chicago stopped by the cathedral on the way to the conference center to hear vespers and matins.

The Assembly began with Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Peter and sung by the Moscow Sretensky Monastery choir who happened to be concertizing at the same time in Chicago.  Con-celebrating with Vladika was Bishop Longin of New Gracanica (Serbian Orthodox Church).  The many visiting clergy, delegates and visitors to the cathedral were treated to the impressive and vocally powerful male choir - widely considered one of the best in Russia - who sang at the service which opened the Diocesan Assembly.

Returning to the conference center following the Divine Liturgy, the Assembly officially convened with greeting and opening remarks by Bishop Peter, followed by presentations throughout the day on various aspects of diocesan life.

More photos available at source: chicagodiocese.org

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Announcement: Divine Liturgy in English at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, Des Plaines, IL

Those of us who are attending the diocesan clergy conference this weekend learned yesterday that Saturday morning, 10-13-2012 (civil calendar), Divine Services at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral will be served principally in English.

While services at Holy Transfiguration are always in English, services at the cathedral are almost always in Slavonic.  For anyone who has wished to attend a Russian service in the Chicago cathedral in English this is a good chance.  Also, in order to facilitate our conference schedule for the day Bishop Peter will not preside at this service (so it will be a bit shorter than usual).

It is an early service.  The Hours are scheduled to start at 7AM.

Service Schedule Update - Regular Wednesday Services

Greetings to all in Christ!

(Reminder: our calendar can be accessed by clicking the "Calendar" tab above.)

A brief update to our standard service schedule.  It turns out that some our visiting family are more able to attend on Wednesday evening than on Saturday, so we have added Great Vespers as a reader service to our standard schedule every other week, starting tomorrow, October 10th (civil calendar), at 5:30 PM.  These Wednesday services will be served so long as there is not another service scheduled for that particular week.

Our calendar has also been updated with the commemorations for our services for the next several weeks.  We have also added the full year of Great Feasts, where also future services will be scheduled. 

Please keep an eye on the calendar for any future updates.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Following – the Russians?

Subdeacon Benjamin:  This is not a bad article from a political point-of-view.  It is more than interesting that Roman Catholics are starting to give credit where credit is due.  Russian traditional values stem from the quality of their faith.  "Russia is far from perfect," the authors states in his final remark, but may I inform here that I have it on good authority that at least 1 in 20 Russians is a *faithful* Orthodox Christian who could minister to your soul.  And her Holy martyrs from the 20th century - widely known to be more numerous than all of the rest of the world combined in all of history - through their prayers Russia is strengthened and we are witnesses now to the grace of God  flowing today through them preserving us from the growing tide of godlessness.

Source: thecatholicthing.org
Friday, 05 October 2012
By Austin Ruse

The Russians have had enough. Last year at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, they initiated a process that was supposed to result in a resolution connecting human rights to traditional values. Almost immediately, they walked into a buzz saw of opposition from the usual quarters: the European Union, the United States, and their NGO supporters from “human rights” and homosexual groups.

The western powers are very good at derailing what they don't like. The original Russian draft resolution asserted that human rights have their roots in the moral force of traditional values. It included language supporting the right to life, the importance of the family in society, and the role of major religions, things that could easily have come from the pen of Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council. 

Left-leaning states charged that the Russian draft failed to consider the connection between traditional values and human rights abuses. Specifically the United States and some European countries said that the rights of women, homosexuals, and transsexuals were undermined by traditional values.

A new “study” was commissioned, which ended up removing all references to the right to life, family, and religion. More than that, the new draft targeted traditional values as undermining the rights of women and minorities.

As usually happens at the United Nations, the left was satisfied. But not the Russans and not many others either. The new study was supposed to be discussed in Geneva last week. And here the Russians struck with a conservative cultural confidence that can only send shivers down the spine of the Europeans and the LGBT claque in the U. S. Department of State.

The Russians simply ignored their opponents, demanded a vote and won. They were far from alone. The resolution was co-authored by over sixty other governments and ended up passing the Human Rights Council with a vote of 25 –15, with 7 countries abstaining.
The new document strikes a blow for traditional values in the understanding of human rights and makes clear that human rights are universal and not “evolving,” as the left asserts.

Within moments of the vote, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that my C-FAM colleague Stefano Genarrini described as “brimming with confidence.” As in this:  “The Russian Federation, together with the opinion allies, will continue promoting the idea of the inseparable connection of human rights and traditional moral values in the Human Rights Council.”

The statement went on to criticize the actions of the European Union and United States, specifically mentioning that the “negative position of these countries, their unwillingness to work at the text and fanciful arguments against the resolution draft cause regret.”

What we are witnessing at the United Nations is an awakening of the Russian social policy bear. Many governments have grown weary of the aggressiveness of the sexual left, now firmly ensconced in the U. N. bureaucracy and human rights machinery. 


Continue reading at: thecatholicthing.org

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Uncovering of the Honorable Relics of the Hierarch and Wonderworker John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco

Source:  http://www.saintjohnwonderworker.org/open.htm

The Lord keepeth all their bones, not one of them shall be broken (Ps.33).

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

In the year 1993 from the Nativity in the Flesh of God the Word, on the feast of St. Chariton the Confessor, September 29/October 11, the All- merciful Lord revealed to us sinners the greatest mercy through the uncovering of the holy and much-healing relics of the Hierarch and Wonderworker John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco who rests in the beautifully embellished and prayer-filled sepulchre, untouched for twenty-seven years after burial, under the Cathedral of the Most Holy Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow.

Monday was a strict fast day for all those who took part in this holy obedience to the Church. Many prepared by serving the Divine Liturgy and through Confession. In the evening, after Vespers was served at the altar of our Holy Father John of Kronstadt, Wonderworker of all Russia, in whose canonization the ever-memorable Vladyka John took part, a blessing was taken from the ruling Archbishop Anthony around eight o'clock in the evening by Priest George Kurtov, Priest Alexander Krassovsky, Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff, Deacon Alexei Kotar, and Reader Vladimir Krassovsky. After the blessing these participants entered the holy sepulchre in order to make the necessary preparations which earlier had been blessed by His Grace, the ruling Archbishop. In the sepulchre the caretaker, Boris Michailovich Troyan, was already working and waiting.

A long table was prepared on which was later placed the new, temporary, pine casket. Crowbars, hammers and other instruments were brought in. All candle stands, analoys, and flowers were placed aside to make more room for the work. Candles were burning on the candle stands and the entire sepulchre was fully illumined.

After the initial preparation work was completed, and after the exclamation "Blessed is our God," and the beginning prayers, they began to read the Gospel from St. John over the casket, In the beginning was the Word. Around nine o'clock in the evening during the reading of the Holy Gospel, the ruling bishop of Western America, Vladyka Archbishop Anthony, Archbishop Laurus of Syracuse and Holy Trinity, Bishop Kyrill of Seattle, Archpriest Stephan Pavlenko, Archpriest Peter Perekrestov, Priest Sergey Kotar, Hieromonk Peter (Loukianoff), Priest Paul Iwaszewicz and Hierodeacon Andronik (Taratuchin) arrived at the holy sepulchre. All together there were fifteen people: three hierarchs, seven priests, three deacons, one reader, and one layman.

All three bishops, as well as all the priests, read from the Holy Gospel. Around 9:07, after the Gospel readings, the bishops began to serve a full Pannykhida which was sung by the clergy. This ended around 9:45 P.M. Before the chanting of Memory Eternal the "Prayer Before the Beginning of Every Good Work" was read. Vladyka then turned to all those present with the following words, "Honored Vladykas, Fathers, and Brethren; the Lord has sent us in holy obedience to our Church in order to examine and report concerning the honorable remains of our good instructor, Archbishop and father, Vladyka John. Let us approach this holy work with love for one another... with one mouth and one heart." Vladyka Anthony then asked forgiveness of all present, then made a prostration, which was repeated by all with the words, "God forgive you and us. Pray for us, Holy Vladyka." The Protodeacon then intoned "Memory Eternal."

The new, temporary, pine casket was then brought in. The inside of the casket was lined with satin. On top of the casket was fixed a Cross. Inside the casket was placed a new, white sheet. The casket was blessed with a prayer.

All of the sacred objects and the brocade were taken off the holy sarcophagus. An explanation was made to all those present concerning the former investigation which had taken place during the night of September 17/30, the commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Faith, Hope, Love, and Wisdom. We then proceeded to remove the cement lid from the sarcophagus which weighed around four hundred pounds. This took place during the compunctionate singing by all of the troparion, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us." The lid was taken into the corridor outside of the sepulchre. All those who had not been present at the initial investigation now saw that the mantle which covered the casket was like new.

Taking into consideration that the initial examination had shown that the casket was severely rusted, all present proceeded to tie the casket in four places because it was not known what condition the bottom was in. During the singing of the ekos "Thou alone art immortal," the holy casket with the remains of Vladyka John was very carefully raised from out of the sarcophagus. It was initially raised higher in order to examine the underside. Then boards were placed underneath, and the casket was placed on the sarcophagus. During the examination of the casket, it was noticed that the casket had severely decomposed, and in many spots rust had eaten through. The casket which was a silver-gray color at the burial was now golden, due to the tarnished lacquer coloring. Vladyka Anthony then blessed Hieromonk Peter (Loukianoff) of Holy Trinity Monastery to open the casket. After the casket was closed at the burial, Fr. Peter had kept the key during these past years in memory of Vladyka John. After a few attempts had been made to open the lid of the casket, it became apparent that the lock had rusted through. In spite of all careful attempts the lock would not open. The lock was finally broken by the Protodeacon's earnest prying. It was necessary to use crowbars, screwdrivers, and pliers to separate the lid. The casket began to break up and fall apart in front of our very eyes. Calling to aid the Most Holy Mother of God, we sang "We have no other help, we have no other hope but thee, O Sovereign Lady..." Finally, after approximately ten minutes of work, the lid was separated from the casket. It is difficult to describe in words that trembling state which overcame all of us. Vladyka Anthony lifted the half lid at the upper end of the coffin during the singing of, "The door of compassion open to us, O blessed Theotokos," and the holy relics of Vladyka John were revealed to us. The most devout feeling of peace and quiet reigned. Those present clearly saw the outline of the reposed bishop's form vested in brocade Paschal vestments which, due to dampness and humidity, had turned a greenish color. On Vladyka's head was a white miter with hand-painted icons. Vladyka's face was covered with a white chalice cover embellished with painted Seraphims. Under his right hand there lay a wooden staff. The remains were sprinkled with a considerable amount of earth. The author of these lines who at the time of the burial served as a staff-bearer for the ever-memorable Savva, Bishop of Edmonton, recalls that before the closing of the casket His Grace, Vladyka Savva, sprinkled earth over Vladyka John out of a rather large container. At the same time another bishop, the ever-memorable Vladyka Leonty of Chile, poured oil from the Service of Unction on the body.

The dry, incorrupt hands of Vladyka John were raised slightly in the air since the lower part of the torso had sunk in. We could see skin and nails. The prayer rope on his left hand had decayed. The wooden cross from Jerusalem on which was glued a paper icon, as well as the "Prayer of Absolution" were still preserved in Vladyka's hands. His Cross and Panaghia also remained. A small gospel book from Kiev, bound in leather, was still intact despite the fact that the inner binding had disintegrated and fallen apart. There was another Cross in the casket by the left shoulder which fell apart when examined. A small icon of the Holy Archangel Michael (Vladyka's patron in the world) had almost entirely disintegrated. All of these holy objects were then taken out of the casket and put aside. It was known that at the burial the material lining the inside of the casket was a light blue; now, due to mold and dampness, it had turned green.

Vladyka Anthony crossed himself and while reading aloud the fiftieth psalm, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy..," very carefully raised the chalice cover from the face of the reposed Vladyka John. Now the most honorable face of Vladyka John was uncovered. All present felt deep devotion and total peace in their souls. No one acted surprised or expressed amazement, but with great compunction we gazed upon the incorrupt visage of the reposed Vladyka. The skin color was light, almost white. The hairs of the head and beard as well as the eyebrows were grey and preserved intact on the face. Even the eyelashes were preserved. Vladyka's mouth was slightly open and teeth were visible. The miter and inscription were preserved, though the icon of St. John the Baptist on the left side of the miter had fallen off and was lying on the pillow. A clean aer was brought to cover the face. We then commenced to uncover the lower half of the casket which was very rusted. It was necessary again to use crowbars and screwdrivers to separate it. When it was opened all present saw that the lower part of the vestments had been fully preserved. Leather sandals were visible on Vladyka's feet and it was noticed that on part of the left heel the bone was visible. As much of the feet as was visible were preserved, revealing darkly colored skin. It was decided that the relics could not remain in the old, disintegrating casket and that it would be necessary to place them in the newly prepared one. We began to sing the eirmosi of the Great Canon of Repentance of St. Andrew of Crete from the Service for the Burial of a Priest: "A helper and protector was He unto me for salvation...," "Attend, O heaven, and I will speak...," "Behold, behold, that I am God..." During the singing the holy relics were prepared for transfer to the new casket. The table with the new casket, which was next to the fresco of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, was moved closer to the head of the old casket. "On the immovable rock of Thy commandments, O Christ..." was sung while the holy relics were lifted in our hands and transferred. They were lowered into the new casket during the singing of the troparion, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us."

They were cleaned of the earth, dust and rust that had covered them. As all could see and feel, the holy relics were whole and did not fall apart. The tendons between the bones had been preserved. The relics were very light. All present saw that the vestments on the underside of the holy relics were also totally preserved. After cleaning off the dust the holy relics were placed in the new casket and wrapped in a clean sheet. During the singing of the kontakion, "My soul, my soul, arise, why steepest thou?", the old casket was taken out of the sepulchre and placed in the neighboring room. The odor of dampness and rust disappeared and all sensed that there was no odor of corruption whatsoever around the relics. During this time the Priest Yaroslav Belikow was waiting with his two year old son not far from the sepulchre. His son Vsvelod was suffering from an illness of the kidneys and was brought into the sepulchre in order to be placed on the incorrupt hands of Vladyka John. Then all commenced to clean out the cement sarcophagus in which much rust remained. During the singing of the ninth Eirmos of the Great Canon, "A seedless conception...," the casket with the relics was placed on the cement sarcophagus. The holy objects that were in the old casket were put in an envelope and put in the new casket. Then it was lowered into the sarcophagus and the lid was placed on the casket. Vladyka Archbishop Laurus tied a cord around the casket and Vladyka Anthony sealed it with the diocesan seal and the mantle was placed on top. During the singing of "A seedless conception" the cement lid was placed back and the sarcophagus was again covered with the brocade cover. All the other objects, the icons, ripidi, trikiri, dikiri were returned to their place. After this work a litiya for the dead was served and all were anointed with oil from the ever-burning lampada on the sarcophagus. Following the example of Patriarch Paul of Serbia, all of the clergy sang the troparion to a hierarch, "Teacher of Orthodoxy," which the Patriarch has sung last year when he visited the cathedral. Vladyka Anthony then expressed his gratitude to all for their labor and zeal. Around 11:15 P.M. all began to return to their homes in an exalted, prayerful state of trepidation, sending up gratitude to the Lord God for the mercy, comfort, and spiritual joy which He had sent. Amen.

Wondrous is God in His saints! Holy Father John pray to God for us!

Reader Vladimir

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Photos from Vespers - Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Glory, O Lord, to Thy precious Cross!

We had seven visitors this evening for Vespers.  Although we were not able to get a picture during the service, I did take a couple afterwards.

The excellent flower arrangement around the Cross was done by The Flower Box in Peoria Heights - on short notice as well.  It is a beautiful addition to the service.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary

The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born at a time, when people had reached such limits of decay of moral values, that it seemed altogether impossible to restore them. The best minds of this era were aware and often said openly, that God mustneeds come down into the world, so as to restore faith and not tolerate the ruination of the race of mankind.

The Son of God chose for the salvation of mankind to take on human nature, and the All-Pure Virgin Mary, – alone worthy to contain in Herself and to incarnate the Source of purity and holiness, – He chose as His Mother.

The Birth of Our Most Holy Lady Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary is celebrated by the Church as a day of universal joy. Within the context of the Old and the New Testaments, on this radiant day was born the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, – having been forechosen through the ages by Divine Providence to bring about the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God, and She is revealed as the Mother of the Saviour of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born in the small city of Galilee, Nazareth. Her parents were Righteous Joakim from the tribe of the King and Prophet David, and Anna from the tribe of the First-Priest Aaron. The couple was without child, since Saint Anna was barren. Having reached old age, Joakim and Anna did not lose hope on the mercy of God. They had strong faith that for God everything is possible, and that He would be able to solve the barrenness of Anna – even in her old age, as He had once solved the barrenness of Sarah, spouse of the Patriarch Abraham. Saints Joakim and Anna made a vow to dedicate the child which the Lord might bestow on them, into the service of God in the Temple. Childlessness was considered among the Hebrew nation as a Divine punishment for sin, and therefore the righteous Saints Joakim and Anna had to endure abuse from their own countrymen. On one of the feastdays at the Temple in Jerusalem the elderly Joakim brought his sacrifice in offering to God, but the High Priest would not accept it, – considering him to be unworthy since he was childless. Saint Joakim in deep grief went into the wilderness and there he prayed with tears to the Lord for the granting of a child. Saint Anna, having learned about what had happened at the Jerusalem Temple, wept bitterly; never once did she complain against the Lord, but rather she prayed, asking God's mercy on her family. The Lord fulfilled her petitions when the pious spouses had attained to extreme old age and prepared themselves by virtuous life for a sublime calling – to be the parents of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the future Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Archangel Gabriel brought Joakim and Anna the joyous message: their prayers were heard by God, and of them would be born a Most Blessed Daughter Mary, through Whom would come the Salvation of all the World. The Most Holy Virgin Mary of Herself in purity and virtue surpassed not only all mankind but also the Angels; – She was manifest as the Living Temple of God, such that the Church sings in its festal verses of song: "the Heavenly Gate, bringing Christ into the world for the salvation of our souls" (2nd Stikhera on "Lord, I have cried", Tone 6).

The Birth of the Mother of God marks the change of the times, wherein the great and comforting promises of God begin to be fulfilled about the salvation of the human race from slavery to the devil. This event has brought nigh to earth the grace of the Kingdom of God, – a Kingdom of Truth, piety, virtue and life immortal. Our Mother FirstBorn of All Creation is revealed to all of us by grace as a merciful Intercessor and Mother, to Whom we steadfastly recourse with filial devotion.

Source: holytrinityorthodox.com

Friday, September 14, 2012

Blessed New Year!

Today, September 1st (Julian calendar), the Orthodox Church has officially recognized as the beginning of the new year since the First Ecumenical Council in the 4th century.

Happy New Year!

The Beginning of the Church's Year - from holytrinityorthodox.com
On this day, when the Jews celebrated the new summer, the Savior, came to Nazareth where He was brought up and entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day as was His custom, and read these words of the Prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed Me ... to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4, 18:19). On the first of September 312 the Emperor Constantine the Great won a victory over Maxentius. After this Christians were granted complete freedom to confess their faith. In commemoration of these two events the fathers of the First Ecumenical Council decided to begin the New Year on the first of September (See January 1, March 1 and the Paschalia). In its hymns for this day the Holy Church prays "Creator and Fashioner of all things visible and invisible" "bless the crown of the year", "grant fruitful seasons and rains from heaven for those on earth", "bless our comings and goings, direct the works of our hands and grant us forgiveness of offences", "grant peace to Thy churches", "overthrow heresies", "protect our cities unbesieged, make glad our faithful Sovereigns by Thy power, giving them victories against enemies".

The Beginning of the Church Year, or the Beginning of the Indiction - from the Prologue
 The First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325] decreed that the Church year should begin on September 1. The month of September was, for the Hebrews, the beginning of the civil year (Exodus 23:16), the month of gathering the harvest and of the offering of thanks to God. It was on this feast that the Lord Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), opened the book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2). The month of September is also important in the history of Christianity, because Emperor Constantine the Great was victorious over Maxentius, the enemy of the Christian Faith, in September. Following this victory, Constantine granted freedom of confession to the Christian Faith throughout the Roman Empire. For a long time, the civil year in the Christian world followed the Church year, with its beginning on September 1. The civil year was later changed, and its beginning transferred to January 1. This occurred first in Western Europe, and later in Russia, under Peter the Great.

HOMILY - on the Word, the Son of God - also from the Prologue
In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1).
The Logos-the rational, intelligent Word-existed in the beginning. This pertains to the Divine Nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. Brethren, by saying, In the beginning, do we think that the Word of God has a beginning? Or that there was a certain date in time when the Son of God was born of God the Father? In no way! For the birth of the Son of God can have neither a date nor a beginning, since time is a condition of this transient world, and it does not affect the eternal God, and therefore does not affect anything at all that is of God. Can the sun remain the sun, if the sunlight is separated from it? Will a man remain a man, if his mind is taken away? Would honey still be honey, if its sweetness is separated from it? It cannot. Even less can one conceive of God as separate from His Logos, from His rational Word, from His Intelligence, from His Wisdom-the eternal Father separate from His co-eternal Son.

No, brethren, the words are not about the beginning of the Son of God from God the Father, but rather about the beginning of the history of the created world and the salvation of mankind. This beginning is in the Word of God, in the Son of God. He began both the creation of the world and the salvation of the world. Whoever would speak of the creation of the visible or invisible worlds, or of the salvation of mankind, must begin with the Beginning. And that Beginning is the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, the Son of God. For example, if someone were telling a story about boating on a lake, he might begin it like this: ``In the beginning there was a lake, and on it sailed a white boat….'' No reasonable person would interpret the words, ``In the beginning there was a lake…'' to mean that the lake came into existence on the same day that the boat sailed on it. Thus, no rational man could take the words of the Evangelist, In the beginning was the Word…, as though the Word of God came forth from God at the same moment that the world was created! Just as the lake existed for thousands of years before the boat sailed on it, so the Word of God existed for a whole eternity before the beginning of creation.

O Son of God, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, enlighten us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Photo Report: Celebration of the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist

Today the Orthodox Church celebrated the blessed Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Forerunner.  Holy Transfiguration Mission also celebrated this feast with our first morning Typika.  The chapel at St. Andrew's shone brightly with the joy of the feast, so I decided to take a few pictures after the service.  :-)

May we receive a full measure of joy in Christ through the prayers of our father among the saints, the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Services Continue at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

This past Saturday evening Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission celebrated our first Vespers as a reader service.  Robin, Lexi and I were joined by Robin's mother, Rachel.  The service proceeded smoothly and joyfully, and Lexi is turning out to be the best one-person choir we could ever hope for.  :-)

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_OLWzbHVuRPA/RtLy3tIQzSI/AAAAAAAAAPg/cFYrKxrKgkQ/07-Ioan+1.JPGEarlier on Saturday we had the privilege to welcome Vasiliki into the Orthodox Church who had just been received by Holy Chrismation by Father John Sardis at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria.  Many years to you, Vasiliki!

On Sunday, I was blessed to serve at Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission (OCA) in Normal, IL with Fr. John Brown and Subdeacon David and to receive the Holy Mysteries.  It was my first visit there, and I am glad to have been among this pleasant and diverse community.

We at Holy Transfiguration Mission will continue services this evening celebrating the blessed Feast of the Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John with readers Vespers at 5:30 and tomorrow morning with the Hours and Typika at 8:30.

We also have scheduled weekly Vespers celebrations of the Resurrection at 4:30, along with evening and morning services for the blessed Feasts of the Nativity of the Mother of God, and the Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross on the appropriate dates this month.

For the near future, on Sundays we plan to make pilgrimage to our sister communities in the area to serve, receive the Holy Mysteries, and enjoy the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  This next Sunday we plan to celebrate again with St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Peoria. 

Please keep an eye on the calendar at the bottom of our page.  If there are any significant schedule changes we will also post a special update.

Please pray for us!

Saint Moses the Black

Commemorated on August 28

The Monk Moses Murin the Black lived during the IV Century in Egypt. He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called "Murin" (meaning "like an Ethiopian"). In his youth he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined in with a band of robbers. Because of his mean streak and great physical strength they chose him as their leader. Moses with his band of brigands did many an evil deed – both murders and robberies, so much so that people were afraid even at the mere mention of his name. Moses the brigand spent several years leading suchlike a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, leaving his band of robbers and going off to one of the wilderness monasteries. And here for a long time he wept, beseeching that they admit him amidst the number of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance; but the former robber was not to be driven away nor silenced, in demanding that they should accept him. In the monastery the Monk Moses was completely obedient to the hegumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many a tear, bewailing his sinful life. After a certain while the Monk Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest of fasting in a very austere lifestyle. One time 4 of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of the Monk Moses and he, not having lost his great physical strength, he tied them all up and taking them over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked of the elders what to do with them. The elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, – they themselves followed his example: they repented and became monks. And later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about the repentance of the Monk Moses, then they too gave up their brigandage and became fervent monks.

The Monk Moses did not quickly become free from the passions. He went often to the monastery hegumen, Abba Isidor, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the elder taught him never to overeat of food, to be partly hungry whilst observing the strictest moderation. But the passions would not cease for the Monk Moses in his dreams. Then Abba Isidor taught him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, not being on bended knees so as not to drop off to sleep. From his prolonged struggles the Monk Moses fell into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidor instead strengthened the resolve of his student. In a vision he showed him many a demon in the west, prepared for battle, and in the East a still greater quantity of holy Angels, likewise readied for fighting. Abba Isidor explained to the Monk Moses, that the power of the Angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins.
 The Monk Moses undertook a new effort. Making the rounds by night of the wilderness cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the elders, who lived far off from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. One time, kneeling over the well, the Monk Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a whole year crippled up. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the hegumen, that he would continue to asceticise. But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba Isidor blessed his student and said to him, that the profligate passions had already gone from him. The elder commanded him to commune the Holy Mysteries and in peace to go to his own cell. And from that time the Monk Moses received from the Lord the power over demons.
Accounts about his exploits spread amongst the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. Having learned about this, the Monk Moses decided to hide away from any visitors and he departed his own cell. Along the way he met up with servants of the governor, who asked him, how to get to the cell of the wilderness-dweller Moses. The monk answered them: "Go on no further to this false and unworthy monk". The servants returned to the monastery, where the governor was waiting, and they conveyed to him the words of the elder they had chanced upon. The brethren, hearing a description of the elder's appearance, all as one acknowledged that they had come upon the Monk Moses himself.
Having spent many a year at monastic exploits, the Monk Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop attired him in white vesture and said: "Abba Moses is now entirely white". The saint answered: "Vladyka, what makes it purely white – the outer or the inner?" Through humility the saint reckoned himself unworthy to accept the dignity of deacon. One time the bishop decided to test him and he bid the clergy to drive him out of the altar, whilst reviling him for being an unworthy black-Ethiopian. With full humility the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained the monk to be presbyter. And in this dignity the Monk Moses asceticised for 15 years and gathered round himself 75 disciples.
When the monk reached age 75, he forewarned his monks, that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint blessed his monks to leave in good time, so as to avoid the violent death, His disciples began to beseech the monk to leave together with them, but he replied: "I many a year already have awaited the time, when upon me there should be fulfilled the words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, did speak: "All, who take up the sword, shalt perish by the sword" (Mt. 26: 52). After this seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of these hid not far off during the coming of the robbers, The robbers killed the Monk Moses and the six monks that remained with him. Their death occurred in about the year 400.