Good Church Music Starts with Kids

Music is essential to life. Sacred music –that which is lived and performed in the Liturgy– is crucial important and integral to the worship of God. Yes, we live the text and the notes.

If you love music, if you love listening to music, if you love sharing the experience of listening to music with others, can you support church musicians –our church chanters, for both Divine Liturgies (in English and Ukrainian).

The “normal” parish does not spend enough time thinking about the sacred music program never mind spending money on it. (AND St. Michael’s is not the object of these moments.) Even a financially strapped parish could put $50.00 per week away for sacred music. More important to money is the understanding of pastor and laity have regarding the music and give personal, informed and reasonable interest to it and the people involved. The worship of God is paramount; the lifting of our soul is desired and beautiful and healing.

Read Orthodox Christian Benedict Sheehan’s blog post “Good Church Music Starts with Kids” which is spot-on and parishes, especially Catholic parishes, need to attend to what he Benedict proposes.

Benedict Sheehan regularly posts at The Music Stand –visit him there.

The Holy Beloved Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

On May 8, we celebrate one of the two feasts of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John, the brother of James. The other is on September 26, the day of his falling asleep. The fourth Gospel is attributed to John, and we can truly call it a “theo-logical,” for it witnesses most clearly to the mystery of the Incarnation, of the Word of God taking flesh in the womb of the Holy Theotokos for our salvation. It is the most sublime Gospel, and it gave John the title “Theologian.” The Byzantine Church gives this gospel a certain priority, and it is read in the most joyful and glorious time of the year, from Pascha to Pentecost. This Gospel is the very essence of the apostolic witness, through which we come to faith in Christ, as indeed John foretold, when the risen Jesus says to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” (John 20:29) because we have all heard of the divinity of the Lord through the witness of the apostles.

Some try to discredit Christian faith by pointing out that John’s Gospel was the last to be written, that the first Gospel, Mark, does not mention the divinity of Jesus, and that faith in the Incarnation is then a later Christian development. They do this by trying to fit the Gospels into a linear line, from the earliest to the latest, and it is easy to fall for this. However, the development of the Gospels in not linear, but they arise from different communities, and each has a vision of Christ. Indeed, does not St. Mathew’s Gospel proclaim the truth of the Trinity, where the risen Jesus proclaims, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

And – yes – there are many other witnesses to Jesus’ divinity in the epistles and apostolic writings. The letter to the Hebrews says, “[Jesus] is the refulgence of [the Father’s] glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word” (Hebrews 1:3). Rejoice, therefore, in this holy season in the glory of the risen Christ so beautifully proclaimed by John. It is John who tells us, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7). It is John who tells us, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). In every Liturgy we accept this apostolic witness when the deacon invites us, “Let us love one another, so that with one mind we may profess.”

The Holy, Just, and Long-suffering Job

The Prophet Job’s feast on the Byzantine calendar is May 6 and the Latin Church’s calendar on May 10.

Job is the archetype of the just man. According to the re­ligious and ethical thought of his time, which viewed material prosperity as evidence of an upright life, Job was expected to be wealthy, and yet he was afflicted with suffering. Modern scholars point out that Job was not a historical person, but an ‘epic character.’ While this is no doubt the case of the Job of the first of the Wisdom books, the author probably based his work on the Job of ancient tradition, who was believed to have lived during the patriarchal age on the borders of Arabia and Edom.

The Book of Job is cast in dialogue form between Job and three friends who come to commiserate with him over his misfortunes. They insist that his condition is a punishment from God for his sins, but Job maintains that he is innocent. Near despair, he demands a hearing from God, and this he is granted. God speaks from a thunderstorm to expose as futile all the solutions of Job and his friends since God cannot be judged and his ways are inscrutable.

The Church uses the book of Job during Holy Week, where Job’s suffering innocence serves as a prophetic re­flection of the innocent suffering of Christ.

Meditation by the New Skete Communities
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The Myrrh-bearers —Third Sunday of Pascha

This Sunday presents us with the proclamation of the resurrection according to St. Mark.

We are first confronted with the death of our Lord. Joseph of Arimathea goes to Pilate to reclaim the body. Pilate wonders that he died so quickly, while Joseph entombs his body with great care and love. As Christians we must confront the reality that Jesus died as a sign of his love. His glory was the Cross, making the Christian faith unique – love is found in sacrifice, life is found in death, power is found in service. And St. Paul’s words are read on Good Friday: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.’” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). Believing in the Resurrection, we are confronted with the Christian paradox that the world cannot understand.

The women go to the tomb on the third day, but Jesus is not there. The young man announces to them: “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6). The women are told to announce the resurrection, but they fail to do so, “They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). This too is a challenge to our faith. Where do we seek the Christ? Can we today complete the mission the women were entrusted with, can we proclaim the resurrection? Do we understand the gospel and commit ourselves to the Lord, “who trampled upon death by death.”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

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Divine Liturgy for the coming week

Christ is risen!

Sunday, 5/05, Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women —The Holy and Glorious Martyr Irene

10:30 a.m. For the people of the parish

Epistle: Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7
Gospel: Mark 15:43-16, Tone 2

Monday, 5/06, The Holy, Just, and Long-suffering Job
9:00 a.m. God’s blessing and health for Olga Pospolita, Irene Hladkyj, Orest Dubno requested by the Family

Tuesday, 5/07, Commemoration of the Appearance of the Sign of the Precious Cross; the Martyr Acacius
9:00 a.m. +Andrii Maruda requested by Chermak family

Wednesday, 5/08, The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the theologian
9:00 a.m. no specific intention for the Liturgy

Thursday, 5/09, Transfer of relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
9:00 a.m. no specific intention for the Liturgy

Friday, 5/10, The Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot
9:00 a.m. no specific intention for the Liturgy

Saturday, 5/11, The Holy Cyril and Methodius, Teachers of the Slavs and Equal to the Apostles
9:00 a.m. no specific intention for the Liturgy

Sunday, 5/12, Sunday of the Paralytic
8:30 a.m. Moleben to the Mother of God (for all mothers) requested by Sestretsi
9:00 a.m. For the people of the parish

Epistle: Acts of the Apostles 9:32-42
Gospel: John 5:1-15, Tone 3

Parish announcements this week

Christ is risen!

This week vigil light is offered to God’s glory by Margaret and Stuart Maybury in memory of Rudolph and Helen Brezicki.

The next Parish Council meeting will be held on TOMORROW, Monday, May 6, at 6:00 in the Holy Name Room.

The next Knights of Columbus meeting will be held on TOMORROW, Monday, May 6, at 7:00 in the Holy Name Room.

The Knights of Columbus will be sponsoring a Mother’s Day breakfast on Sunday, May 12, 2019 after the 9:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy. We extend an invitation to all mothers of our parish to stop in for breakfast, so that we may honor you.

The traditional Easter parish “SVIACHENE” will be held TODAY following the Divine Liturgy. We will celebrate only one (1) Divine Liturgy at 10:30 a.m. We will be running a raffle. If you would like to donate any items to be raffled, please bring them to our church hall on Sunday, May 5. Tickets are $25.00 for adults, $10.00 for youth from 12 to 18. Free for altar boys, and under 12. Also we ask you to donate healthy and homemade cakes for desert. We trust that all parishioners will join this parish gathering and through their presence attest to cherishing in our hearts a love for one another which builds our PARISH FAMILY.

Helping the poor – a work of charity: The Director of the St. Vincent DePaul Homeless Shelter in Waterbury wrote to us requesting assistance in collecting bath soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste, deodorant, Q-tips, men’s underwear, for the ministry to the homeless. We will have this collection for the poor through Pentecost (June 9). These items can be put in the basket at the entrance of the church in the marked box. Paul Zalonski (of our parish) will drive the donations to the Homeless Shelter in Waterbury.

The Knights of Columbus have available for sale a freshly cooked batch of 2 quarter-pound tasty recipe kovbasa and cabbage meals for $10.00 each or a 2 lb. vegetable only mix for just $6.00. These meals may be purchased in the church hall, please see Walter Ushchak.

Olga Iastrubchak will be offering private dance classes for children ages 3-18. Classes will be held on Saturdays at 1:00 pm the St Michael’s church hall. For more information please contact Olya at (203) 400-4467 or email: olgaiastrubchak@gmail.com

The world-renowned Kyiv Chamber Choir returns  to perform a Hartford concert at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 20, at St. John`s Episcopal Church, 679 Farmington Ave, West Hartford. Tickets are available at Ukrainian National Home (860-296-5702) or online at www.universe.com or you may call Platinum Concerts International, toll-free, at 1-877-232-9835 and at the door. For concert information, go to www.platinumconcerts.com. This is a are opportunity to hear one of the world’s great choirs share ‘hidden treasures, from 1,000 years of Ukrainian sacred and folk music.

The Virgin Mary in St Ephrem’s theology

The month of May is traditionally known on as the Month of Mary. The Church holds Mary in the highest esteem; she is venerated but not worshipped by Catholics and Orthodox. A Syrian Father, St Ephrem, –the Harp of the Holy Spirit– the fourth century hymnographer, theologian and deacon as something to offer about the Mother of God.

“As lightning illu­mi­na­tes what is hid­den, so also Christ puri­fies what is hid­den in the nature of things. He puri­fied the Vir­gin also and then was born, so as to show that where Christ is, there is mani­fest purity in all its power. He puri­fied the Vir­gin, having pre­pa­red Her by the Holy Spi­rit… having been born, He left Her vir­gin. I do not say that Mary became immor­tal, but that being illu­mi­na­ted by grace, She was not dis­tur­bed by sin­ful desi­res”

“Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity… alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body… my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment… flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate.”

“There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your mother.”

“You Jesus and your mother are the only ones who are beautiful in all aspects. Because in you, O Lord, there is no deformation, and in your mother, there is no stain.”

“The two women were pure and simple, Mary and Eve. One of them, however, became the cause of our death and the other, the cause of our life.”

St. Ephrem the Syrian

Easter Sviachene May 5, 2019

The traditional Easter parish “SVIACHENE” will be held on May 5, following the 10:30 Divine Liturgy. We will celebrate only one Divine Liturgy this Sunday.

We will be running a raffle. If you would like to donate any items to be raffled, please bring them to our church hall on Wednesday evening at setup or before “Sviachene” on Sunday, May 5.

Tickets are $25.00 for adults, $10.00 for youth from 12 to 18. Free for altar boys, and under 12.

Remember if you can donate homemade cakes for deserts, please do so. Fresh and healthy!

Thomas Sunday

Today is the eighth day of the celebration of the eighth day. Pascha! The Resurrection of our Lord! The Feast of Feasts!

It is a time of absence and presence.

Absence – when the risen Messiah comes to his apostles through locked doors, by divine providence, Thomas is not with them. May he come through the locked doors of our hearts!

Presence – when the risen Messiah comes to Thomas a week later, the doubting apostle gives the proclamation of faith that resounds through the ages: “My Lord and my God!

Absence – when the women come to the tomb, the body of Jesus is not there. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the angels ask.

Absence – the disciples on the road to Emmaus do not recognize the Lord.

Presence – they do recognize him in the breaking of the bread, “were our hearts not burning when he explained the Scriptures to us?”

Absence – we do not stand in the presence of the Lord in the same way as the apostles did.

Presence – the Lord is with us in Holy Communion, as he comes to us more intimately than we could imagine.

Absence – “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you” (John 16:7).

Presence – “Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Today the Gospel tells us – “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Our celebration of the Resurrection, therefore, is not simply a historical report or remembrance, it is the truth of God-with-us today, challenging us to live in Christ.

Are not our two Christian greetings exactly the same:

Christ is risen! Indeed, he is risen!
Christ is among us! He is and he will be!

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

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