This night across our Metropolis our communities are overflowing. We have put on our best attire and gathered as a parish to celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection. Everyone is excited and in good spirits, anticipating the announcement of the Good News. We greet one another with joy. All of this reminds me of the verse from the great Doxastikon of Pascha, “Let us be glorious in splendor for the festival, and let us embrace one another.” I too, join you in this celebration and greet you in the name of our Resurrected Lord.
Most of you have gathered this night to hold a lit candle, to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ, and to sing the joyous hymns of our Church. A candle was placed in your hands at your baptism when you first proclaimed your faith in Christ the King and Lord of your life and you were united with Him. You became a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God, who became one of us for our sakes. And, as Saint Paul writes to the Philippians , “Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:8-11). (more…)
Ascension Cathedral in conjunction with the Raphaelian Society invite you to celebrate the feast of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene with a Divine Liturgy on Bright Tuesday morning, with veneration of their relics to follow.
Part three of a video discussing the basics of our faith for those unfamiliar with Orthodox Christianity. Parts one and two may be found on our video resources page.
Have you ever wanted to just come by the church to light a candle & pray for someone? Feel like you don’t have time to come all the way to church to do this? Well now you can do it online! The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA has an online candle lighting program that anyway can use, at any time! Just click on the picture below! God Bless you and may Christ our Lord & Savior and all of the saints intercede for us!
Instructions: When you get to the website linked below, you will see a stand with candles on it, and candelabras with a lit candle. Please click on one of the candles on the stand, and then “light” it (place the head of the candle next to the lit candle), and then “place” your lit candle “into” the sand (the bottom of the lit candle must be touching the sand).
April 16, The Saturday of Lazarus
Matins 8:30 AM
Divine Liturgy 9:30 AM
Folding of Palms for Palm Sunday
Great Vespers 6:00 PM
April, 17 Palm Sunday
Please be reminded that the blessing of the palms will be before the Divine Liturgy
Matins 8:45 AM
Blessing of the Palms 9:45 AM
Divine Liturgy 10:00 AM
Nymphios Matins 7:00 PM
April 18, Holy Monday
Hours and Presanctified Liturgy 9:30 AM
Nymphios Matins 7:00 PM
April 19, Holy Tuesday
Hours and Presanctified Liturgy 9:30 AM
Nymphios Matins 7:00 PM (Hymn of Kassiane)
April 20, Holy Wednesday
Hours and Presanctified Liturgy 9:30 AM
Holy Unction 3:30 PM
Holy Unction and Matins 7:00 PM
April 21, Holy Thursday
Vesperal Liturgy 7:00 AM
Matins of the 12 Gospels 7:00 PM
April 22, Good Friday
The Royal Hours 10:00 AM
Apokatheilosis (Removal of Christ from the Cross) 3:00 PM
Epitafios 7:00 PM
April 23, Holy and Great Saturday
Vesperal Liturgy 10:00 AM
The Canon (pre Pascha) 11:00 PM
Anastasis Midnight: Matins followed by Divine Liturgy
April 24, Pascha Sunday
10:00 AM Agape Vespers
12:00 PM Pascha Picnic at Crow Canyon Park
A printable version of the schedule is available here.
Reminders for Holy Week and Pascha:
- The blessing and distribution of the Palms will take place at around 9:45am near the conclusion of the morning Matins. The reason for this is the Divine Liturgy is the actual presence of Christ; He is truly with us as we worship. Thus we should hold in our hands the symbols of His victory over death and that He is the Messiah. The people of Jerusalem held branches and palm fronds to honor our Lord as a Savior. We too will hold them in our hands symbolic of the fact that He is the Messiah and Savior of the world.
- We will be decorating the Church for Pascha with white Lilies this year. If you would like to help we ask for a $20.00 donation, we will order around 45. Thank you.
- Please bring 1-2 dozen hard-boiled & red dyed eggs to church for the Anastasis service! Please have the eggs brought to the church by April 23rd, Holy Saturday, so they will be ready for the midnight service.
- Kids…Help Decorate the Kavouklion!
The parish youth of all ages are needed to help decorate the Kavouklion with flowers in preparation for the Holy Friday night service of Lamentations. The decorating will begin at 8:00 am and will last until about 11:00 am. School absence excuse letters will be available in the narthex. For more information and to sign up, please contact Fr. Nebojsa at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him at (510) 531-3400.
- PASCHA ANNUAL MAGERETSA MEAL will take place immediately after the Anastasi (Pascha) service on Sunday, April 24th, immediately after the Divine Liturgy!
- Agape Vespers – The Morning of Pascha – Read the Gospel in a Foreign Language!
During the beautiful Agape Vespers that will be sung on the morning of Pascha, April 24th, those who can read a foreign language are invited to volunteer to read the Gospel. The service will begin at 10:00 am. For more information and to sign up,please contact Fr. Tom at email@example.com or Fr. Nebojsa at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact them at (510) 531-3400.
- From the Saturday of Lazarus until the Sunday of St. Thomas (the first Sunday after Pascha) no memorial services are conducted. This is a period of anticipation and fulfillment of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, thus the focus is on Him and His resurrection.
- Fr. Nebojsa has been selected to accompany Metropolitan GERASIMOS of San Francisco to Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey), as part of his responsibilities on the Synod of our Patriarchate. Fr. Nebojsa will be posting a daily update on his activities in Constantinople, on our website (Fr. Tom’s page). We are asking for donations to help offset Fr. Nebojsa’s costs of transportation, to and from the Patriarchate. Checks should be made out to Ascension Cathedral
OAKLAND GREEK FESTIVAL MAY 13, 14, 15, 2011!
Admission is $6. Children 12 and under are FREE!
Friday & Saturday from 10 am—11 pm.
Sunday from 11 am—9 pm.
COME HELP FOR THE FESTIVAL!
Tuesday, April 26th we are making Kourambiedes, and Wednesday, April 27th we are making Tsourekia! Cooking begins at 9am.
WE ALSO NEED HELP WITH the FOOD LINE and other coordinating areas. Contact Paul Fakaros or Sofokles Kyriakopedi (our new Co-Directors!) to help with any aspect of the Festival. Paul@costacosequip.com, email@example.com
The Annunciation is the beginning of all the feasts of the Lord. In the dismissal hymn of the feast we chant: “Today is the crown of our salvation, and the manifestation of that mystery which is from everlasting….” The content of the feast refers to the event in which the Archangel Gabriel—the angel with whom all the events related to the incarnation of Christ are connected—visited the Panagia at God’s command to inform her that the time had arrived for the incarnation of the Word of God, and that she would be His mother (see Luke 1.26-56).
The Greek word for the ‘annunciation’ (evangelismos) means literally ‘good news’. This refers to the information given by the archangel that the Word of God would be made man for man’s salvation. Essentially this is the fulfilment of God’s promise given after the fall of Adam and Eve (see Genesis 3.15) and is called the protoevangelion. Therefore the information about the incarnation of the Word of God is the greatest piece of news in history.
According to St Maximos the Confessor, God’s good news is His embassy and consolation to the people through the incarnation of His Son. Parallel with this is the reconciling of the people by the Father, Who repays those who obey CHrist with ungenerated deification. This deification is called ungenerated because it appears in the worthy without having been born in them. Thus the deification offered by the incarnate Christ is not a birth, but a manifestation through personal illumination in those who are worthy of this revelation.
The good events, the gospel, the annunciation is a correction of the events which took place at the beginning of the creation of man, in the sensible Paradise of Eden. There, it was from a woman that the fall and its consequences began, and here it was from a woman that all the good things began. Thus the Panagia is the new Eve. The sensory Paradise was there, here the Church. There Adam, here Christ. There Eve, here Mary. There the snake, here Gabriel. There the whispering of the serpent-snake to Eve, here the angel’s salutation to Mary (Joseph Vryenios). In this way the error of Adam and Eve was corrected.
The union of the divine with the human nature in the hypostasis of the Word within the womb of the Theotokos constitutes the immediate deification of the human nature. St John of Damaskos says characteristically: “No sooner flesh than flesh of the Word of God.” This means that no time intervened between the conception and the deification of the human addition, but it happened at the moment of conception.
A consequence and sequel to this event is that the Panagia must be called Theotokos since it was really God to Whom she gave birth, Whom she carried in her womb for nine months, and not a man who had the grace of God.
The human nature was united with the divine nature immutably, without confusion, undividedly, inseparably, directly from the moment of conception. This means that the Panagia was the first to taste the spiritual good things of the divine incarnation, the deification. That which the Disciples of Christ tasted at Pentecost, and we taste after Baptism and during the sacrament of the divine Eucharist when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, and what the saints will experience in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Panagia experienced from the first moment of the conception and pregnancy.
Therefore for nine whole months , day and night, Christ nourished the Panagia with His sanctified blood. This is a prefiguration of the unceasing divine communion and unceasing relationship and communion of the saints with Christ which there will be chiefly in the next life. This is why the Panagia is a prefiguration of the age to come. From this point of view she is Paradise.
St Nikodemos the Hagiorite, speaking of the Annunciation, also goes on to a personal and existential approach to this event. For it is not enough just to celebrate the events of this divine incarnation outwardly, but we need to approach them existentially and spiritually. For this reason he collected many passages from saints which speak of this existential approach.
The saying of the Prophet Isaiah is characteristic: “In fear of thee, Lord, we were with child, we suffered pain, we have given birth. We have brought forth a spirit of salvation upon the earth” (Isaiah 26.17-18). According to the interpretation of the holy Fathers, the word of God is a seed, the nous and the heart of man is a womb. Through faith the word of God is sown in the heart of man and impregnates it with the fear of God, the fear lest man remain far from God. With this fear the struggle to purify the heart and acquire virtues begins, which is like the labour and pains of childbirth. In this way the spirit of salvation is born, which is deification and sanctification.
The forming of Christ in us happens through spiritual labours. The Apostle Paul says: “My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4.19). The labours are the ascetic struggles, and the forming is the deification and sanctification.
According to the holy Fathers (St Gregory of Nyssa, St Maximos the Confessor, St Symeon the New Theologian, St Niketas Stethatos, etc), what happened physically in the Panagia happens spiritually in everyone whose soul is living in virginity, that is to say, is purified of passions. Christ, who was once born in the flesh, always wants to be born in the spirit in those who wish it, and so He becomes an infant, forming Himself in them through the virtues.
Spiritual conception and birth become perceptible by the fact that the rush of blood stops, that is to say there cease to be desires to commit sin, passions are inactive in the person, he despises sin and constantly wishes to do the will of God. This conception and birth is acquired through following God’s commandments, mainly through the return of the nous to the heart and the unceasing prayer of a single word. Then the person becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit.
The Annunciation to the Theotokos is an annunciation to the human race, information that the Son and Word of God has become incarnate. This universal feast should contribute to our personal feast, our personal annunciation. We must accept the preface to our salvation, which is the greatest piece of news in our life.
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, from The Feasts of the Lord
Dear Beloved in the Lord,
I pray that your Lent is going well and that it is helping in your personal growth in Christ. As I mentioned last week, it is a time of increased prayer, fasting and charity. It is also a time of reflection on some important events in the life of the Church. These events are commemorated on the Sundays of Lent. The first Sunday celebrated the restoration of the icons and is called the Triumph of Orthodoxy. At the end of the Liturgy we have a procession of icons to celebrate this historical event (it took place on February 19, 842, the first Sunday of Lent that year).
The restoration of icons was understood to be a “victory” because the truth of who Jesus Christ is was preserved. Christ is theoanthropos God-man, perfect man and perfect God, and thus we can depict Him in icons. The Triumph of Orthodoxy also preserves the holy tradition of depicting the Virgin Mary and saints in iconography as well. This event expresses a visible or outward sign of our faith. We can look to an icon and see our faith in Christ is color.
The upcoming Sunday, known as the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas is also a celebration of the triumph of Orthodoxy. St. Gregory defended our faith against foreign influence and false teaching about prayer and God’s grace. Through his own personal holiness, experience and depth of understanding, St. Gregory explained and preserved the “prayer of the heart” and that we experience in this life the uncreated energy (or grace) of God. He described God as the sun and explained that as we cannot touch or experience the sun itself, we do experience the energy—its light and warmth. So too with God, we cannot know God in His essence but we can and do experience and feel His grace, forgiveness, joy, holiness and love. The “prayer of the heart” is the Jesus Prayer; “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner”. This Second Sunday of Lent is a more inward triumph; the preservation of our spiritual tradition of inner prayer and holiness. As our Lord taught in Gospel of St. Luke, “…the Kingdom of heaven is within you” (17:21).
In his merciful love,
It is with great sadness that I inform you that our dear brother and friend Father John Asimacopoulos, pastor of Saint Nicholas parish in San Jose passed away this morning at 7:43 a.m. Arrangements for the services will be forth-coming. Αιωνια του η μνημη!
Fr. James Adams, Chancellor of the Metropolis of San Francisco
Services and events for the Upcoming Week
Sunday March 20
10:00am Divine Liturgy: St. Gregory Palamas
Monday March 21
6:30pm Great Compline
7:30pm Introduction to Orthodoxy
Tuesday March 22
10:00am Bible Study
7:00pm Choir Practice
Wednesday March 23
6:00pm Hours and Presanctified Liturgy
7:30pm Lenten Meal and speaker
Thursday March 24
7:00pm Great Vespers, at Annunciation in Modesto
Friday March 25
9:30am Divine Liturgy, at Ascension Cathedral
10:00am Divine Liturgy, at Annunciation Cathedral San Francisco
6:30pm Akathist Hymn
7:30pm Bible Study
Sunday March 27
10:00am Divine Liturgy: The Holy Cross
Please take note of our special services in addition to Sunday Divine Liturgy, continuing throughout the weeks of Lent this year:
- Each Sunday evening Vespers will be celebrated at 6:00 pm
- Monday evenings: Great Compline will be celebrated at 6:30 pm
- Wednesday evenings: Presanctified Liturgy will begin at 6:30 pm, followed by a Lenten meal and lecture
- Friday mornings Presanctified Liturgy begins at 9:30 am and
- Friday evening Salutations (Akathist Hymn) to the Virgin Mary will commence at 6:30 pm.
All services for Lent are currently listed in our online calendar, as well.
“Let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast,
and prepare ourselves for spiritual combat.
Let us purify our soul and cleanse our flesh;
and as we fast from food,
let us abstain also from every passion.
Rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit
may we persevere with love,
and so be counted worthy to see
the solemn Passion of Christ our God,
and with great spiritual gladness
to behold His holy Passover.”
Troparion from the Vespers of Forgiveness
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
Our holy Church calls us to be joyful and attentive as we enter the blessed season of Great Lent. In this spiritual journey we gather our thoughts to proceed towards the Feast of Feasts – Pascha.
During this holy season of fasting and prayer we exercise these disciplines of our precious Christian Orthodox Faith to “prepare ourselves for spiritual combat.” As Christians who acknowledge the presence of God, we must be concerned about our lifestyle every single day, but especially during Great Lent. We have examples from Holy Scripture that instruct us to fast and pray but is also required us to be attentive as to how we live our lives.
It is right to say that fasting is not limited to what we eat, but to how we act and treat others. This is why the hymnographer beautifully writes that we are to “set out with joy upon the season of the Fast.”
The value of Great Lent is not in certain foods, but in repentance and conformation for us to do whatever God and His Holy Church determine. When we commit ourselves to properly enter the journey of Great Lent, we realize that our first step is to reconcile ourselves with one another.
For this reason, I prayerfully invite you to join me on Sunday evening, March 6, at the Ascension Cathedral in Oakland. We will gather at 7:00 p.m. to pray the Vespers of Forgiveness. I wish to call upon all the clergy and laity of the Bay Area to join me as we enter this holy season as one Christian Orthodox family. Together, lifting our voices in prayer and reconciling ourselves to one another, we can “persevere with love”.
Praying that you have a spiritually uplifting journey through Great Lent, I remain,
With Love in Christ,
Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco
(Click here to download a PDF of this letter.)
His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos invites the Clergy and Faithful of the Northern California Vicariate to a special service of forgiveness Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension.
The evening of March 6 is a significant time for us as Orthodox Christians, to allow us to transition to a more prayerful and penitential way of life as we begin our most important journey through Great and Holy Lent. A light meal will be provided following the service.
(Click here to download a PDF of the invitation flyer.)
[Metropolitan Gerasimos and clergy from around the Bay Area will be celebrating the Vespers of Forgiveness at Ascension Cathedral in Oakland on March 6, 2011, starting at 7pm, following our Lenten Evening Retreat: Our Lenten Journey which starts at 5pm. A light dinner will be served after Vespers.]
The foregoing two Sundays’ parables—of the Publican and the Pharisee and especially that of the Prodigal Son—have presented to us God’s extreme goodness and love for man. But lest certain persons, putting their confidence in this alone, live carelessly, squandering upon sin the time given them to work out their salvation, and death suddenly snatch them away, the most divine Fathers have appointed this day’s feast commemorating Christ’s impartial Second Coming, through which we bring to mind that God is not only the Friend of man, but also the most righteous Judge, Who recompenses to each according to his deeds.
It is the aim of the holy Fathers, through bringing to mind that fearful day, to rouse us from the slumber of carelessness unto the work of virtue, and to move us to love and compassion for our brethren. Besides this, even as on the coming Sunday of Cheese-fare we commemorate Adam’s exile from the Paradise of delight—which exile is the beginning of life as we know it now—it is clear that today’s is reckoned the last of all feasts, because on the last day of Judgment, truly, everything of this world will come to an end.
From The Great Horologion (Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997)
When the thrones are set up and the books are opened, and God sits in judgment, O what fear there will be then! When the angels stand trembling in Thy presence and the river of fire flows before Thee, what shall we do then, guilty of many sins? When we hear Him call the blessed of His Father into the Kingdom, but send the sinners to their punishment, who shall endure His fearful condemnation? But, Saviour who alone lovest mankind, King of the ages, before the end comes turn me back through repentance and have mercy on me.
Knowing the commandments of the Lord, let this be our way of life: let us feed the hungry, let us give the thirsty drink, let us clothe the naked, let us welcome strangers, let us visit those in prison and the sick. Then the Judge of all the earth will say even to us: ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.’
Alas, black soul! How long wilt thou continue in evil? How long wilt thou lie in idleness? Why dost thou not think of the fearful hour of death? Why dost thou not tremble at the dread judgment-seat of the Saviour? What defence then wilt thou make, or what wilt thou answer? Thy works will be there to accuse thee; thine actions will reproach thee and condemn thee. O my soul, the time is near at hand; make haste before it is too late, and cry aloud in faith: I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Thee; but I know Thy love for man and Thy compassion. O good Shepherd, deprive me not of a place at Thy right hand in Thy great mercy.
From Vespers of Saturday evening for Judgment Sunday
The Holy Fathers placed this feast on Meatfare Sunday in order to check the indulgence and gluttony that usually occurs just before Lent by means of the fear this observance inspires and to urge us on to sympathy for our neighbor. We can also understand this another way: by indulging ourselves, we were expelled from Eden and came under judgment and the curse—hence the present feast was placed here. And on the next Sunday, in the person of Adam, we shall be removed from the delight of eating many foods, corresponding to the model of Eden, until Christ comes and brings us back to Paradise.
From Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Pentecostarion (HDM Press, 1999)
Through greed we underwent the first stripping, overcome by the bitter tasting of the fruit, and we became exiles from God. But let us turn back to repentance and, fasting from the food that gives us pleasure, let us cleanse our senses on which the enemy makes war. Let us strengthen our hearts with the hope of grace, and not with foods which brought no benefit to those who trusted in them. Our food shall be the Lamb of God, on the holy and radiant night of His Awakening: the Victim offered for us, given in communion to the disciples on the evening of the Mystery, who disperses the darkness of ignorance by the Light of His Resurrection.
From Vespers on Sunday Evening of Judgment Sunday
We will be forming 2 distinct Altar Groups this year! Each group will be comprised of acolytes of all ages, who will serve on a rotating basis, One groups at a time. We will eventually (hopefully) be growing to 4 distinct groups.
The groups will be named after the four great saints to whom our liturgies are attributed to.
For a complete list of groups and members please click here
To join a group please contact Fr. Nebojsa Pantic
* The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (5th century A.D.), used on most days of the year, and occasionally as a vesperal liturgy on the Annunciation.
* The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (4th century A.D.), used on the 5 Sundays of Great Lent, and on Saint Basil’s feast day (January 1). On the eves of the Nativity and Theophany, and on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, it is celebrated as a vesperal liturgy in most cases. In some traditions, Saint Basil’s Liturgy is also celebrated on the Exaltation of the Life-giving Cross on September 14. All together, St. Basil’s liturgy is celebrated 10 or 11 days out of the liturgical year.
* The Divine Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem (1st century A.D.), celebrated once a year in Jerusalem (and a few other churches) on the feast day of St. James, brother of the Lord. This Liturgy is traditionally attributed to St. James, the Brother of the Lord, and first bishop of Jerusalem. The Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great are related to this early Christian Liturgy.
Additionally, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (6th century A.D.), is used on Wednesdays and Fridays during Great Lent and on the first three days of Holy Week. It is essentially the office of vespers with a communion service added, the Holy Gifts having been consecrated and reserved the previous Sunday. It is traditionally attributed to St. Gregory the Dialogist. The Divine Liturgy of St. Mark was also observed in the Orthodox (Chalcedonian) Patriarchate of Alexandria on at least that Saint’s day until fairly recent times, while the Byzantine Royal Hours, which were once reserved to the Great Church (Agia Sophia), are much more akin to the Alexandrian divine office than they are to the standard Horologion.