Circumcision of the Lord

circumscion-of-the-lordToday, the Byzantine Church keeps two feasts: the Circumcision of the Lord, the 8th day since Christmas (new calendar) and Saint Basil (see the blog post below).

“I will keep my love for him always, with him my covenant will last” (Psalm 88:29)
Having taken the human nature in his birth, our Lord fulfills the covenant God made with his people by circumcision on the eighth day. The covenant between God and his people is therefore perfected by God himself becoming both God who initiates the covenant and man who submits to God’s will. This is confirmed in the second part of today’s Gospel: Jesus goes to the Temple to fulfill the will of the Father by his teaching. When Mary and Joseph find him, he fulfills the Law, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them. (Luke 2:51)”

Jesus taught, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17)” St. Paul teaches that he restored the spirit of the Law, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)”

For Christians, baptism replaces circumcision as the entry into the covenant. At baptism, we submit to the law of Christ: “Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his angels and all his service, and all his pride?” “I do renounce him.” “Do you commit yourself to Christ?” “Yes, I commit myself to Him.”

By his death on the Cross, our Lord established a new covenant, and fulfills the will of the Father, “Not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)” He tells us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven .. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The feast of Christmas and Circumcision celebrates the birth of the Lord according to the flesh and his birth among his people by circumcision. It foreshadows and sheds light on our birth according to the flesh and our rebirth in Christ in baptism.

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Praying with Pope Francis

pope-francisThe Pope’s intention for January 2017 is for Christian Unity.
That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.
Let us be united in prayer with the Holy Father in praying to the Most Holy Trinity for the intention of Christian unity.

St Basil the Great

basil-the-greatSt. Basil fell asleep in the Lord on January 1, 379, and the young age of 49. He is truly called “Great” for in his short life the light of Christ shone through him, revealing how a Christian should live – in faith, for he opposed the Arian heresy, and proclaimed the divinity of our Lord, in hope, for he established monasteries looking toward God in spirit, confessing Christ to be “our hope, the image of your (the Father’s) goodness, and the seal bearing your likeness.” (Anaphora of St. Basil) and in love, for he established hospitals and orphanages to house and feed the poor.

In the meantime, he also composed the bulk of the Divine Liturgy anaphora that bears his name, showing a profound understanding of Scripture. Here the incarnation of the Word of God is proclaimed, “Although he (the Father’s Son) is the reflection of your glory and the express image of your person, sustaining all things by his powerful word, he did not deem equality with you, God and Father, something to be grasped; rather, while remaining everlasting God, he appeared on earth and lived among men.” (Anaphora of St. Basil, quoting Hebrews 1:3; Philippians 2:6 and Baruch 3:38) His whole anaphora is a wondrous weaving together of texts from Scripture giving us a complete profession of God’s salvation story. Hearing this prayer, we must be led to become true Christians, imitating our Lord as much as possible according to our weakness. He was also the author of numerous theological discourses, where he wrote about the mystery of the Incarnation: “The actual, first birth of Christ, his actual birth from all eternity in the bosom of his Father, must be venerated in silence. We should never permit our mind to investigate this mystery. Since time and space did not exist, since no form of expressions had yet been created, since there is not a single eyewitness, nor anyone who can describe this eternal birth, how can reason form any concept for reflection?

How can the tongue give expression to thoughts that cannot be formulated? The Father was, and the Son was born! Do not say: “when?” but rather leave that question unasked. Do not ask “how?” for there is not answer! For the word “when” suggests time, and “how” suggests birth in the flesh…God is on earth, he is among men, not in the fire nor amid the sound of trumpets; not in the smoking mountain, or in the darkness, or in the terrible and roaring tempest giving the Law, but manifested in the flesh, the gentle and good One dwells with those he condescends to make his equals! God is in the flesh, not operating from a distance, as did the prophets, but through him human nature, one with ours, he seeks to bring back the whole human race to himself.” (St. Basil the Great “On the Incarnation” (From the Descent of the Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Church, South Deerfield, Massachusetts website)

Dates for Pierogi Saturdays in 2017

olenaThe Schedule for Pierogi Saturday for 2017:

January – vacation
February – vacation
March 18
April 8 (for Pascha)
May 20
June 17
July – vacation
August – vacation
September 16
October 21
November 18
December 16

The Pyrohy Project sells the varenyky in the church hall for $6.00 per dozen. Checks payable to “Pyrohy Project.”

More information is noted on the Pierogi page –see the link to the left.

Synaxis of the Theotokos

synaxis-of-the-theotokosToday, the day after the Christmas feast the Byzantine Church honors Mary, the Mother of God (Theotokos) with a special feast day of remembrance.

Our meditation is given by Father David Petras.

Many Byzantine feasts have a commemoration on the day after a great feast called a “synaxis,” that is, an “assembly” or “gathering” in honor of one who participated in the feast. No more honorable person could ever be found than the holy Lady, the Mother of God. This feast of her Synaxis was actually the most ancient, the first, celebration of her memory on the church calendar, because her giving birth to the Son of God was truly her greatest glory. It was by her free will, ““Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38),” that our God and Creator became one of us. It was certainly her joy that she gave birth to this child, but we commemorate on this day all the suffering she bore because of her choice, the near repudiation by Joseph, the persecution of her son by Herod, causing them to flee for their lives to Egypt, until, at the end, she had to endure seeing her beloved son crucified as a common criminal on the cross.

So, Simeon the prophet told her, “ “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, and you yourself a sword will pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Luke 2:34-35)” Truly, she became by her suffering an intercessor with her Son. We must ask if we are prepared, as St. Paul, who wrote “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body. (Colossians 1:24)” We also have the comfort of knowing, if we unite our will with that of Mary, that we, too, can become bearers of God through Communion in his Body and Blood by our own free will.


namesofjesus1Today we celebrate the Incarnation of the Word, the birth of our divine Lord, Savior and Good Shepherd, Jesus the Christ. The Holy Name Jesus (Yashua, or some variation) in Hebrew means “God saves”: his name truly reflects his profound identity!

Honor the Lord’s holy name by not using it vain.

Christ is born

nativityMeditation by Very Rev. Dr. David Petras

Christmas is a feast of unity. It is, first and foremost, unity between God and humanity. The Word of God takes the human nature so that the image and likeness of God in us might be restored. Walls are broken, and the first sticheron, the first words, of Christmas are, “Come, let us rejoice in the Lord; let us proclaim the present mystery by which the partition has been broken and the flaming sword withheld.” What God does vertically, he expects us to do horizontally, and so at his birth the poor (the shepherds) and the rich (the Magi) are called to adore. His own people (the shepherds, the Jews) and the outsiders (the Magi, the Gentiles) are called together. Just as God becomes one with us, we become one with God, and with each other, and the last words of Jesus to his disciples before his arrest are a prayer for the people, “the glory which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one: I in them, and you in me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23)” The result of this will be peace on earth, as proclaimed by the angels in heaven and foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall graze, together their young shall lie down; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the viper’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9, the Fourth Reading of the Vespers of Christmas)” This unity is needed in a world shaken by conflict, by hatred of the other, by racism. It is sad that Christians cannot be united among themselves.

Cardinal Koch, on his visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on November 30, 2015, said, “The world today has great need of reconciliation, particularly in light of so much blood which has been shed in recent terrorist attacks. May we accompany the victims with our prayers, and renew our commitment to lasting peace by promoting dialogue between religious traditions, for “indifference and mutual ignorance can only lead to mistrust and unfortunately even conflict” (Common Declaration, Jerusalem 2014).”

Christ comes among His own

communionMeditation by Very Rev. Dr. David Petras

“Behold, Christ comes among his own. We are made his through grace and holy virtues. (Troparion, Ode 6, Canon of December 22)” “You wishes to bear the robe of a slave in order to snatch me from slavery to evil, O Word coeternal to the Father. (Troparion, Ode 3, Canon of December 23)

St. Gregory the Theologian begins his homily for the Feast of Lights by saying, “Christ is on earth, let us welcome him.” His loving-kindness is to turn us from sin to virtue, but only through the power of his grace. Sin is a spiritual death, in Jesus, the living God, who comes into physical life today, frees us from sin and makes us God-like. His coming into human nature is compared to slavery, and we must welcome him as slaves. This is really what we are saying when we receive Holy Communion, when we welcome Christ into our bodies, making them temples of the Spirit: “The servant (that is, the slave) of God receives the Holy Body and Precious Blood.” We become God’s own, but it must be according to his will. Do we not pray, “Thy will be done, (now) on earth as it is in heaven.” How do we receive Christmas, however, is it on our terms or on God’s terms. It is clear what motive is life-bearing, but this is not done to keep us in slavery, for in his last discourse in the Gospel of John, he calls us friends (John 15:15), and so we are able to sing, if we are willing, “I sing of your love: glory to your work of salvation.” (Troparion, Ode 3, Canon of December 23)

Christmas Divine Liturgy

nativityDivine Liturgy on Sunday, December 25th, Christmas Day
The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
There is only 1 Divine Liturgy on Christmas Day at 10:30 a.m., in English and Ukrainian.
At 9:30 a. m. there is a “God with Us” service.