Nicholas Losten asleep in the Lord

In Christian charity, your prayers are requested for Nicholas Losten who fell asleep in the Lord.

Nicholas E. Losten, 95, a brother of Most Rev. Basil H. Losten, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.

Mr. Losten was born on June 16, 1922 in Chesapeake City, MD, the son of the late John and Julia Losten. He worked on the family dairy farm, “Losten Dairy”, and was a milkman for the wholesale-retail milk business until its sale in 1968.  He then went to work for Pennsupreme Dairy until he started a second career in construction, working for Weaver Pole Line Construction and Danella Construction Company.

After his retirement from construction, he enjoyed working and maintaining the family farm.  He was an avid goose and deer hunter.  He was a leader of Future Farmers of America;  was a life member of the Chesapeake City Fire Department and a member of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church.  May his memory be eternal!

Carl Harvey and Myron Melnyk honored

At the conclusion of today’s 9:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy, we heard of the beautiful awards that two of our dear friends and fellow parishioners received recently. The following was heard:

This past week in Washington D.C., Mr. Carl Harvey and Mr. Myron Melnyk were awarded with medals from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense in recognition of the work they have done in support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This is for the work our Ukrainian American Veterans have done to help bring wounded Ukrainian soldiers here to the United States where they will be receiving medical treatment which is unavailable in Ukraine. Not only is this a high honor for Carl and Myron, it is also a recognition of the support and donations the we, as a parish, have given to our Ukrainian American Veterans Post here in New Haven. Congratulations, Carl and Myron!

Sunday of the Last Judgment

Today, the Church begins her preparations for the Great Fast ( aka, Great Lent).

In the coming weeks we will delve into what the Great Fast means for us.

Archpriest David Petras writes,

In our preparation for the Great Fast, we must notice a theme emerging. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Pharisee was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the tax collector. (“I thank you that I am not like this tax collector,” Luke 18:11). In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the older son was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the prodigal returned home. (“But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him,” Luke 15:20).

Today, in the final judgment, the Lord says to the condemned goats, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it (show charitable works of mercy) to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45). In the popular mind, Lent is a time for self-denial. Stop, that’s it. But why? Because if we do not deny ourselves, we cannot see the image of God in the other, in each and every other human being that he has created.

Possibly the Last Judgment was commemorated on this Sunday, because it is the conclusion of a “Church Year.” Next Sunday, Cheesefare Sunday, we begin again with the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall.

The Great Fast is our journey through the Old Testament, which is concluded with the New Covenant: the Mystical Supper, the Crucifixion and the Glorious and Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. We then see through the lens of the Resurrection how God’s plan is fulfilled in Christ in the Gospel of John the Theologian (until Pentecost), in the Gospel of Matthew (from Pentecost to the Exaltation of the Cross), and in the Gospel of Luke (from the Exaltation of the Cross until the Sunday of the Prodigal Son).

Then on this Sunday, we celebrate the last and final and eschatological mystery of the Final Judgment, in which God brings to completion and perfection the whole human story. That may be why, on the day before the Sunday of the Last Judgment, we remember the death of each human being, which is the completion and perfection of our own individual story and our inclusion in God’s ultimate divine plan. Interestingly, the Roman Church read the Gospel of the Final Judgment on the last Sunday before Advent, which began their liturgical year.

The Encounter of Simeon and Anna

Today’s feast is also as known the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple of the Purification of Mary (Lk 2:22-40). The Liturgy of the Church prays:

“The sacred Virgin offered the Sacred One in the Sacred Place to the Sacred Minister. Clasping Him in his arms, Simeon received Him with joy and cried out, ‘Now, Master, you release your servant, according to you word, in peace, O Lord.’ “ [From Vespers]

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it. See, he said, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”
(From Isaiah chapter 6, the second Reading at Vespers of the Feast of the Encounter)

“Simeon spoke to the Mother of God, saying: one of the Seraphim purified the lips of Isaiah with a burning ember. You fill me with light as you entrust to me, with your hands as with tongs, the one whom you hold, the Lord of the light that knows no evening, and the King of peace.”
(Troparion at Glory, Ode 5, Canon of the Feast of the Encounter)

Simeon holds God in his arms, the burning coal inaccessible to our human nature, yet made flesh and able to be embraced in love. God is often described as a spiritual fire. He appears to Moses as the bush which burned but was not consumed, which in turn became an image of the Virgin Mary who bore the fire of the Godhead in her womb. The holy John the Baptist protested, “Who has ever seen the sun, that is radiant in its essence, being purified? How then shall I cleanse in the waters the one who is the brightness of the glory, the Image of the everlasting Father? How shall I, who am like straw, touch the fire of your divinity with my hand? For you are Christ, the wisdom and power of God. The Spirit comes upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire.” (1st Troparion, Ode 4, Canon of Theophany)

The Spirit comes upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire. God is the light of knowledge and understanding and the fire of love. How can we dare to touch him and live? Simeon holds him and cries out, “Now you may dismiss your servant!” Yet we do, and Holy Communion is called the “coal” in some Eastern Christian traditions, the ember that purified the lips of Isaiah. God cleanses us from our sins and makes us worthy to receive him more intimately than Simeon, in our lips and in our body. We receive Communion “for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.” As we celebrate this feast, we can never comprehend this gift.

February prayer intention

For the month of February, the prayer intention of Pope Francis is:

That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.

Let’s ask for the grace to be steadfast to the Gospel and teaching of the Church.

Meatfare Week

As a preparation for Holy Week and Pascha, the Gospel of the passion of our Lord according to St. Mark is read. Today Jesus enters Jerusalem as the people exclaim, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Which we sing at every Liturgy in the Anaphora. These acclamations proved to be hollow, when the priests and elders seduced the mob to ask for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Here is a meditation of St. Gregory on the Passion:

So let us take our part in the Passover prescribed by the law, not in a literal way, but according to the teaching of the Gospel; not in an imperfect way, but perfectly; not only for a time, but eternally. Let us regard as our home the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly one; the city glorified by angels, not the one laid waste by armies. We are not required to sacrifice young bulls or rams, beasts with horns and hoofs that are more dead than alive and devoid of feeling; but instead, let us join the choirs of angels in offering God upon his heavenly altar a sacrifice of praise. We must now pass through the first veil and approach the second, turning our eyes toward the Holy of Holies. I will say more: we must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, accepting all that happens to us for the sake of the Word, imitating his passion by our sufferings, and honoring his blood by shedding our own. We must be ready to be crucified.  (St. Gregory the Theologian, Homily, 45)

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

The parable read today is usually called “the parable of the Prodigal Son,” who is at the center of the story. It might also be called “the parable of the Merciful Father,” who welcomes back his son, embracing him, restoring him to his position, declaring a joyous celebration without even seeming to hear or listen to his son’s confession or protestation. It might also be called “the parable of the Petulant Son,” who is grumpy and peeved at the father’s merciful loving kindness because he thinks that he himself is so much better than his brother. As we prepare for the Great Fast, do we see a pattern developing? The pharisee thought he was much better than the tax-collector, the older son thought he was so much better than his prodigal brother, but God overflows in love for all his creatures. Perhaps the real main purpose of the Great Fast is to turn from pride to humility, to begin to see others through the eyes of God, to overflow in love for others. Truly, what does it mean to be a Christian?

The return of the prodigal Son was marked by a great banquet given by the Merciful Father. We are all invited to that banquet, celebrated at every Divine Liturgy, where the food is not the “fattened calf” but the body and blood of our Lord, the only-begotten Son of the Father. How do we approach this banquet, in the humility of the son who acknowledges his unworthiness or in the pride of the older son, who objects to the presence of his weaker brother? The answer is what it means to be a Christian.

“Receive me now, Lord, as you once received the Prodigal. Open to me your fatherly arms, and in thanksgiving I will sing of your glory and goodness” (Sunday of the Prodigal Son Canon, Ode 1, troparion 3)

The parable of the Prodigal Son is also commemorated on the Second Sunday of the Great Fast, in the Canon of Matins, because the origin of the Triodion is from Palestine, where this Gospel was read on the Second Sunday.

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Divine Liturgy for the coming week

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Sunday, 1/28/18 Sunday of the Prodigal Son  —Our Venerable Father Ephrem the Syrian
9:00 a.m. For people of the parish
10:30 a.m. +Vasyl and Anna Lupsac

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Gospel: Luke 15:11-32, Tone 1

Monday, 1/29/18  The Transfer of the Relics of the Great-Martyr Ignatius the God-bearer (of Antioch)

Tuesday, 1/30/18 The Three Holy and Great Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom and the Holy Priest-Martyr Hippolytus
9:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy served for a Special Intention

Wednesday, 1/31/18 The Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cyrus and John

Thursday, 2/01/18 The Fore-Feast of the Encounter; the Holy Martyr Tryphon

Friday, 2/02/18 The Encounter of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
9:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy served for a Special Intention
       ~Blessing of Candles

Saturday, 2/03/18 The Holy and Just Simeon, Who Received God, and the Prophetess Anna
9:00 a.m. +Ivan and Halyna Lobay (Pan.) requested by Maria Lobay

Sunday, 2/03/18 Sunday of Meatfare —Our Venerable Father Isidore of Pelusium
9:00 a.m. +Luka Szymkiw requested Szymkiw and Alderidge families
10:00 a.m. SOROKOUSTY
10:30 a.m. For people of the parish

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 8:8-9:2
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46, Tone 2