Great and Holy Week Schedule 2019

Great Wednesday, 4/17
7:00 p.m. Divine Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts

Great Thursday, 4/18
7:00 p.m. Great Matins and the Proclamation of the Passion Gospels

Great Friday, 4/19 —a day of strict fast and abstinence –NO meat or dairy products
4:00 p.m. Great Vespers with the Laying Out and Veneration of the Holy Shroud

Great Saturday, 4/20
8:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy

4:00 p.m. Blessing of Easter Foods
6:00 p.m. Blessing of Easter Foods

7:00 p.m. Great Vespers and Prayers at the Tomb

Sunday, 4/21, Resurrection of Our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ
9:00 a.m. Procession and Pascal Matins
10:30 a.m. For the people of the parish

Blessing of Artos
Blessing of Easter Foods

5th Sunday of the Fast – St Mary of Egypt

This Sunday of the breathtaking life of Saint Mary of Egypt is commemorated and presented to us sinners as an example of heroic hope in the mercy of the Lord and the heights it can raise us to.

The boundlessly sinful woman who took all in lust now boundlessly gives herself to Love. Our unity with Christ is a wedding that gives life, rather than take away. She exemplifies the beauty of Catholic sexuality, and in that light sheds even greater light on the “no-no’s” of the Church that everyone in their worldly thinking sees as discrimination. We don’t look at the No’s as if they were the meaning of our life. We don’t look at what we must not do but what we should be doing and always in better ways! Fear of death is an imperfect way of avoiding sin (just as in Confession’s contrition). It is LOVE that must draw us to God, and naturally this means away from any disfigurement (sin) of His Image in us and the beauty of His works.

Saint Mary reflects the harrowing difference between a sterile taking away of someone else’s treasure for our pleasure (her previous life) vs. the fertile and life-giving love that draws us out of ourselves to give this self to another as the height of our Matrimonial unity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of Matrimony’s purpose as being two things: to get yourself and the other to Heaven, and participating in God’s creating act by making souls for Heaven. It doesn’t talk about “he’s handsome and I get butterflies” or “she’s pretty and I like her”. These are natural feelings and beautiful in the right place. However, to follow them as the primary source and goal of our sexual love is a blasphemy against the Sacrament of Matrimony and our Crowning as mutual martyrs for the sake of Love. It is like saying “I am not a Christian, I see the Eucharist, I don’t think about God but I receive Him because the Host tastes good.” What a blasphemy and a sorrowful misunderstanding of the treasure unfolding in the Sacrament!

Saint Mary of Egypt who had known the entirety of worldly pleasures and a sexuality given to lust, finally in one moment of Grace understood that the true Love everyone is called to have and experience is the One hanging on the Cross. She represents a soul that crucifies itself and all the worldliness within it to be raised in Christ from the tomb of sin. And the means for this is always the Cross. A soul that crucifies its plans and picture-perfect future to raise that “unplanned” life growing in her womb. A soul that crucifies its pride and false expectations of what it “deserves” in order to refrain from insulting but rather raising the other. A soul that crucifies its pleasure and rest to stick with its family and maintain a tiresome job to raise the kids. So on…

Presanctified Liturgy TONIGHT

Today, Friday, March 29, at 7:00 p.m. Father Iura will serve the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, in English and Ukrainian.

This is our weekly Lenten devotion. Join us in prayer and the reception of the Eucharist. Bring a friend.

On Fasting by St. John Chrysostom

The value of fasting consists not in abstinence only from food, but in a renouncing of sinful practices. Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him! If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all members of your bodies. Let the hands fast, by being free from greed. Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by observing modesty and disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. For it would be an instance of the highest ridiculousness to abstain from meats and unlawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to feed on what is forbidden. Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fish, and yet bite and devour our brothers?

St. John Chrysostom

At the final judgment

Read: Matthew 25:31-46
Reflection: When we consider the notion of the final judgement when we shall stand before God to account for our lives, we can easily think that what God will look at is the quality of our religious observance, our prayer and asceticism, how faithful we were attending church and the like. Such thinking is misguided.
We do well to keep in mind the words of St Maria of Paris: “At the Last Judgement I shall not be asked if I was successful in my ascetic exercises or how many prostrations I made in the course of my prayers. I shall be asked, did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and prisoners. That is all I shall be asked.” (NS)

Tuesday of the First Week of the Great Fast

What does it mean to be a Christian, a follower of Christ? The stichera today remind us of our life in Christ in the holy sacramental mysteries. We anoint ourselves, when chrismated with “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit,” but this means virtue. We are baptized, washed with the consecrated water, but it is the water of purity. We are partakers of the Lamb of God, we partake of the sacrifice, we partake of the resurrection, but this is “the brightness of virtue and the goodness of our deeds.” Yes! We need to fast, to deny ourselves, but the fasting itself is not the goal, but our transformation by God’s love into a people that is holy and pure and good.

Icon: Baptism of St. Paul

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

The beginning of the Great Fast (Lent)

The Church sets aside the next forty days as a period of prayer and penance as a preparation for the Great and Holy Week and the resurrection of our Lord. There are rules about fasting, which we must observe as faithful Christians. However, we must not mistake the true meaning of the Fast. The fast is, truly, a period of spiritual ascesis (struggle), as today’s Gospel tells, us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth … But store up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). However, it is not like school, where we keep all the class rules and earn gold stars for our obedience. Today’s epistle tells us that the Fast is not about “keeping rules:” “The one who eats must not despise the one who abstains, and the one who abstains must not pass judgment on the one who eats; for God has welcomed him” (Romans 14:3). Yes, we do keep the rules, but we must also transcend the rules.

The Great Fast is not a period of earning merit points, which leads to pride anyway, but it is a time for a spiritual revolution in our lives. We must turn the values of the world: love for power, love of money, love of pleasure, and self-serving upside down. In our baptism, we promised to renounce “Satan, and all his works, and all his angels and all his service, and all his pride,” and to commit ourselves to Christ. This is especially true in a world which polarizes us into self-righteousness and teaches us hatred for the other. Why, indeed, do we fast? It is to bring about this revolution, foretold by Mary, the Mother of God, “[God] has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty” Luke 1:52-53).

We must become the humble, the lowly, the hungry and reject the world’s lust for power. In the Great Fast, then, we live out the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” not our own plan for salvation, but God’s plan, God’s will, seen in love for the other, “Give us this day our daily bread,” for we fast from the delightful food of this world, to receive only Christ, who said, “I am the bread of life (John 6:48);” “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” in unconditional forgiveness, as today’s Gospel reveals, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions (Matthew 6:14-15), and finally, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” for if in the Fast we imitate Jesus, who fasted in the desert for forty days to overcome temptation, then we too will be delivered from evil, but not by our own proud struggles, but by the grace of God. In this fast, we must open ourselves to Christ, who said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

Lenten Regulations 2019

Lenten Regulations 2019 of the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of Stamford

By the threefold discipline of fasting, prayer and almsgiving the Church keeps the Great Fast/Lent from Monday, March 4 (March 11 – Julian Calendar), after the Cheesefare Sunday to the day before Easter, Holy Saturday, April 20 (April 27 – Julian Calendar).

The following regulations apply, in general, to all Ukrainian Catholics of the Stamford Eparchy between the ages 21-60:

~Abstinence from meat and dairy products on The First Day of the Great Fast, March 4 (March 11), and on Good Friday, April 19 (April 26).

The following regulations apply, in general, to all Ukrainian Catholics of the Stamford Eparchy between the ages 14-60:

~Abstinence from meat is to be observed on all Fridays and the Great Fast.

~Abstinence from meat is suggested and encouraged on all Wednesdays of the Great Fast.

Note: The following are exempt from abstinence: 1. the poor who live on alms; 2. the sick and frail; 3. Convalescents who are returning to their strength; 4. pregnant women and women who are nursing their children; and, 5. persons who perform hard labor.

Meat is to be understood as including not only the flesh, but also those parts of warm-blooded animals that cannot be rendered, i.e., melted down, e.g., the liver, lungs, etc. meat gravy or soup made from meat is included in this prohibition.

Dairy products are to be understood as comprising products derived from mammals and birds, but not regarded as meat, e.g., cheese, lard, butter, milk, eggs, etc.

Eucharistic Fast:

A fast of one hour from food (prior to service starting time) should be kept those receiving the Eucharist at the evening celebration of the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts, as well as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great.