The week in review – 2007/2008 Dec 22 – Dec 29, church calendar // Jan 4-11, Civil Calendar
Dear Brothers and sisters:
This week we celebrated the Nativity of our Savior. We are not fasting until the day before Theophany, which occurs on Sat, this year (Jan 19 according to the “wall calendar”, Jan 5 according to the “church calendar”. Therefore, eat all the pizza, sausage and steak that is reasonable for you on all days until Nativity, until Friday, Jan 18 (wall calendar date), when we fast from all animal products and fish, but may have oil and wine. Please realize, that the canons INSIST that you have meat and/or cheese on the following dates: Wed, Jan 9/Dec 27, Fri Jan 11/Dec 29, Wed Jan 3/16. I admonish you to be obedient to the canons in this regard!
Theophany is fast approaching. I must confess that I have NEVER blessed ALL the houses of my parish after Theophany when I was working full time. I intend to visit ALL of your homes this year! You must help me to accomplish this. I need to bless as many homes as possible during the day on the week following Theophany, and as many homes as possible in the evenings that I do not visit during the day. If you can be home during the day, PLEASE contact me.
The days I hope to be very busy blessing houses are:
||THEOPHANY. Time for a few house blessings, from noon till 3 PM
||Sunday after Theophany. Blessing from 1 PM till about 6PM.
||From Noon till whenever
||After Liturgy, from Noon to whenever
During the day, until 2 PM
||All day, until 2 PM
||After Liturgy, from Noon to whenever
I think we will need more time then this, but I want to show you this schedule so you can make your plans.
What Happened? A short review of last week.
Wednesday Morning, at the bracing hour of 6 AM, we held our first Wednesday weekly liturgy. All those in our parish family were commemorated by name at the Fervent Ectenia. Since Nicholas and Priest Seraphim were there, God was with us, since “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mat 18:20) This is our earliest Wed liturgy, and it has distinct advantages for some of you: 1. you can get to work at the usual hour 2. the traffic on the way to church is really light! 3. You will not feel crowded!
This week, we are still in the midst of the Nativity period, and not fasting until Friday Jan 5/16 (when we can have wine and oil)
Sunday, Dec 31 / Jan 13 is the Sunday after Nativity; we commemorate “Holy Joseph the Betrothed, David the King, and James the Brother of the Lord.” This is David Ash’s namesday.
Tuesday Jan 2/Jan 15 we will have Vespers at 6:30 PM, followed by another talk about some aspect of the church’s prayer. I will always hear confessions this evening for those who wish to commune during the Wed Divine liturgy and feel the need to confess. My general rule, by the way, is, if you confessed the previous weekend, or recently according to our understanding with each other, you may use your discretion regarding confession.
Wednesday, Jan 3/Jan 16 (NO FASTING) we will have Divine Liturgy at 9 AM. Since Jelena will be the main reader, we will likely hear some Serbian melodies, which I am definitely looking forward to. The sung parts of the liturgy will be primarily in Slavonic.
Friday, Jan 5/Jan 18 is the EVE OF THEOPHANY. We begin fasting again on this day, but may have oil and wine. There are many services:
Friday morning 7 AM – Royal Hours, Typika, Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great, First Blessing of the Waters.
Friday evening 6:30 PM – Vigil for the Theophany.
Saturday, Jan 6/19 is THEOPHANY. We will have Divine liturgy, at the same time as on Sundays.
Saturday 9:40 AM Hours
Saturday 10:00 Divine Liturgy, followed by the Great blessing of the waters
After liturgy, I want to begin house blessings, timed so I can get back to church by 4 PM
Saturday 4:00 Confessions
Saturday 5:00 Vigil
Sunday Jan 7/20
Services as usual. House blessings right after liturgy.
I have been invited to serve the liturgy on Monday, Jan 21 for the patronal feast of St Maximus (the parish in Denton). This is according to the calendar they use – the New calendar. I plan to also attend the vigil, which is at 7:30, so I need to be done with house blessing by about 6:00 PM.
Why do we bless houses?
This world, this creation, is in captivity; it is enemy held territory. The evil one, having enslaved all of creation at the fall, has laid claim to every nook and cranny of this earth. And for a while it looked as though he might be able to hold onto it. But then he reached too far and attempted to enslave the Master of All and to bind Life with the chains of death and his power was broken. But creation is still fallen, it is still contested land in the spiritual battle.
We, as Christians, are engaged in this struggle to reclaim fallen nature for the Kingdom of God. We often talk about this in terms of our own salvation, but the Church, addressing all of creation in a wholistic manner, also reaches out and reclaims a bit here and a bit there of creation in general. We do this in order that we might restore the usefulness of creation for working out our own salvation. Hence we bless anything that might help us in our salvation – and by blessing it we reclaim it for the Kingdom of God.
There are few things more vital to our lives than our homes. In our homes we pray, we work, we talk to others, we order our lives, we work out our marriages, etc. What more important place to reclaim for the Kingdom of God – or is it better to continue living in a place which is occupied by the enemy. For the most effective working out of our salvation, we must drive the enemy out of our homes, and keep him at bay by our prayers, our righteous life, and the annual sprinkling by Holy Water at Theophany.
(From a Post to the Orthodox mailing list, dated April 30, 1996 by Priest David Moser, St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, 872 N 29th St, Boise ID
Used with permission ) Available at http://www.orthodox.net/articles/whybless.html
It is a long-standing tradition in Holy Orthodoxy that the homes of all the faithful be blessed yearly, after the blessed feast of Theophany. The power of water to sanctify and transform is amply demonstrated in baptism, and we believe that God chooses to bless us through holy objects and actions, such as the relics of those who have pleased God, holy icons, oil and water. The priest usually prays a short service of supplication and then blesses all living areas of the house with “Jordan water”, while singing the troparion for Theophany. In this way, the home of a Christian is “marked” and sanctified. “Jordan water” is the blessed water from the Great Blessing of the Waters, performed right after the Divine liturgy on the feast of Theophany.
When the priest arrives, the home should be very clean, and picked up. The doors to all rooms except the bathrooms should be open. It is good to have a small table set up, with a cloth on it, and a candle. If the family has an icon of the Theophany, it can be placed there, along with any other icons that are well loved in the family. The best place to put this table is before the family’s icon corner. A censer may be burning. The priest will start a short service, in which the principle action is to walk throughout the house and bless every room with the Holy Water. The family should accompany the priest, who follows the eldest of the family (or in our variation, one of the children), who holds a candle and walks throughout the house. Everyone should be singing the Troparion for Theophany during this blessing.
Theophany resources, including a sermon by St John Maximovitch and St John Chrysostom are at http://www.orthodox.net/theophany/index.html