Ascension Thursday 2019

Thursday, 5/30, Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ it is a holy day

The Divine Liturgy will be offered:

9:00 a.m. +Vira Walnycky requested by Ksenia Kuzmycz (in Ukrainian)
7:00 p.m. For the people of the parish (in English)

St. Augustine of Hippo, one the Doctors of the Church, preached:

On this day therefore, that is, the fortieth after His Resurrection, the Lord ascended into heaven.  We have not seen, but we believe. They who beheld Him proclaimed what they saw, and they have filled the whole earth:

There are no speeches nor languages where their voices are not heard.  Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world (Ps. xviii. 4, 5).

And so they have reached even unto us, and awakened us from sleep. And lo! this death is celebrated throughout the world.

#ByzantineCatholicNewHaven
#stmichaelnewhaven

Sunday of the Man Born Blind

Hand of Jesus touching a blind man’s eye. Detail of “Two blind men cured.” Mosaic (6th century)

The story of the Man Born Blind is the third Sunday Gospel in Pascha about the mystery of baptism. This gospel is very clear, “Jesus spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his the blind man’s) eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see. (John 9:6-7)” The clay represents the anointing we receive at baptism, making us “Anointed Ones,” (Christs, or Christians) and the washing represents the washing in the water of baptism.

The blind man can then see, he is “enlightened,” the name the Church gives to baptism. Two observations: to be truly enlightened, we need humility. We need to know that only God can give us the vision we need. To do that, we cannot rely on our own “opinions,” we must hear his Word in the gospel, we must worship him with his people, we must be attentive to the voice of his shepherds in the teaching of the Church. If we believe only in ourselves, we risk condemnation, as Jesus told the Pharisees, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains” (John 9:41). True knowledge comes only from the Holy Spirit, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (1 John 2:20).

The second observation is that in these three weeks, our Lord calls to baptism the most unlikely people: a friendless man lying lame by a pool, a shameless woman with serial husbands, and a blind man about whom the disciples ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Jesus responds, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him (John 9:3), thus separating the wrath of God from the judgment of sin. God truly hates evil, which brings death and failure, but he loves the sinner with infinite divine love. If we suffer because of our sins, it is because that is the “wages” of sin (Romans 6:23). We see in these three Sundays that God is merciful and wishes the salvation of all. He calls us all to enlightenment in baptism, so that we can live in the Holy Spirit and profess with the formerly blind man, now enlightened, “I do believe, Lord!” (John 9:38).

Myrrh Bearing Women

SEEKING THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD
(Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers)

“The godly women hastened to You with myrrh, O Christ. The one whom they had sought with tears, as a dead man, they worshipped as the living God! And they proclaimed the mystical pascha to Your disciples.” (Paschal Canon, Troparion of Ode 7)

The women hastened to the Tomb that Sunday morning, looking for “a dead man.” But the One they found, the One revealed to them, was “the living God.” Hence the “mystical pascha” (i.e., “passover” or “transition”) that they proclaimed to the disciples was not only the Lord’s transition from death to life, but their own, the women’s, transition from merely-human dedication to “a dead man” to faith in “the living God.” Because their beloved Teacher was “more” than they had recognized. In His resurrection, Jesus Christ exceeded all their expectations.

Today let me not approach “the living God,” my risen Lord, as if He were “a dead man”; as one to whom I may pay my respects in some external way, but whose life-giving Presence in my world I don’t quite recognize, for all practical purposes. Let me embrace wholeheartedly the Great Fact that He is, indeed, risen, and is there for me, and alive to me, beyond my expectations. “Let God arise,” I say this morning with the Myrrh-Bearing Women, “and His enemies be scattered” from my heart. Today let me start anew, and embrace, once again, the new life in my ever-living, ever life-bringing Lord, by re-connecting with Him, rather than “seek the living among the dead,” – among the merely-human opinions and expectations that come from my own head or from God-less voices in my world. O Christ, our mystical Pascha, help us transition once again today, from the tombs of self-isolation and self-reliance, according to our oft-suffocating expectations of ourselves and others, to the freedom of communion with You, a Lord beyond all our expectations.

Meditation by Sr. Vassa

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

#ByzantineCatholicNewHaven
#stmichaelnewhaven

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

#ByzantineCatholicNewHaven
#StMichaelNewHaven

PASCHA – The Feast of Feasts

At the Resurrection Matins, there is a procession where the people walk around the church. This procession recalls the way the women went to the tomb. The people stop in front of the Church doors and listen to the priest announce “Christ is Risen!”

The church bells ring, and the priest and people sing, “Christ is Risen!”

The doors are opened, and the church is filled with light.

The Holy Shroud is on the Altar as a sign that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. The people walk into the church singing, “Christ is Risen!”

There are many changes in the church. The doors on the Icon Screen are open. They will remain open from Pascha until after Divine Liturgy on Bright Saturday. This is to remind us that He opened the gates of Heaven and granted us eternal life.

The priest blesses a special bread called the Artos. The Artos is Christ – the Bread of Life.

It will remain in the church all of Bright Week. It will be distributed on Thomas Sunday.

People greet each other with – “Christ is Risen!” And respond with – “Indeed He is Risen!”

Sunday of the Man Born Blind, Sixth Sunday of Easter

The story of the Man Born Blind is the third Sunday Gospel in Pascha about the mystery of baptism. This gospel is very clear, “Jesus spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his the blind man’s) eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see” (John 9:6-7). The clay represents the anointing we receive at baptism, making us “Anointed Ones,” (Christs, or Christians) and the washing represents the washing in the water of baptism. The blind man can then see, he is “enlightened,” the name the Church gives to baptism. Two observations: to be truly enlightened, we need humility. 

We need to know that only God can give us the vision we need. To do that, we cannot rely on our own “opinions,” we must hear his Word in the gospel, we must worship him with his people, we must be attentive to the voice of his shepherds in the teaching of the Church. If we believe only in ourselves, we risk condemnation, as Jesus told the Pharisees, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains” (John 9:41). True knowledge comes only from the Holy Spirit, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (1 John 2:20). The second observation is that in these three weeks, our Lord calls to baptism the most unlikely people: a friendless man lying lame by a pool, a shameless woman with serial husbands, and a blind man about whom the disciples ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).

Jesus responds, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:3). Thus separating the wrath of God from the judgment of sin. God truly hates evil, which brings death and failure, but he loves the sinner with infinite divine love. If we suffer because of our sins, it is because that is the “wages” of sin (Romans 6:23). We see in these three Sundays that God is merciful and wishes the salvation of all. He calls us all to enlightenment in baptism, so that we can live in the Holy Spirit.”

The Samaritan Woman

The theme of baptism continues in this Sunday’s Gospel, re-affirming that Pascha is a feast of resurrection and of baptism, being born into eternal life. The center of Jesus’ conversation with this unnamed woman (the Church later gave her the name Photine, the “enlightened woman”) is about water. They met at Jacob’s well, a place of great tradition, a sign and a promise of God’s love and mercy for his people. Jacob’s well provided the riches of water to a desert place, the sign that God would always provide for and bless his people. However, the encounter with the woman reveals something more: Jesus is the Messiah to come, he is greater than the Patriarch Jacob. The water of Jacob’s well is only for this world, Jesus would give “the water that would become a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). This clearly refers to our baptisms, as it comes immediately after the comparison of Jesus with John the Baptist, and the baptisms done by Jesus’ disciples. We renew our baptism every time we receive Communion, and they are for life, for eternal life, from God, the giver of life.

A couple of observations: as for Nathaniel, Jesus signs his ministry with intimate knowledge of the people he meets. He sees Nathaniel under the fig tree, and he tells the woman about her five husbands. In both cases, they become his disciple because of his knowledge of him. This is a theme of John’s Gospel, the shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him. Second, it should be to our wonder that Jesus always comes to the most underprivileged. To whom does he reveal the mystery of eternal life in baptism: to the paralytic who had no friends, to the woman who had led a shameful life, and came to the well at noon who no one else would be there, and to the blind man suspected of sin because of his blindness. And the disciples marvel that Jesus speaks to a woman! Not just any woman, but a heretical, decadent Samaritan woman! Are we humble enough to accept Jesus as our Messiah?

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Sunday of the Paralytic Man

There are six Sundays in the forty day celebration of the Resurrection (corresponding to the forty days until the Ascension as recorded in the Gospel of Luke). The first three Sundays have a gospel of the Resurrection and the second three a gospel with a baptismal theme. Sadly, in our day the baptismal theme of the Feast of Pascha has sometimes been eclipsed, But Paul’s Letter to the Romans makes that connection: “Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)” This Sunday, we see this is the story of the Paralytic Man. He was without friends, paralyzed for thirty-eight years and unable to get into the pool when the angel touched the waters. However, he finds a friend in our Lord, who asks, “Do you want to be well?” This gospel affirms the sacramental mystery of baptism: it is not the water touched by an angel that cures the man, but the ultimate power of healing comes from the Lord, in the waters of baptism touched by the Holy Spirit sent by the Lord.

The Gospel of John is truly a proclamation of the Son of God who sends the Spirit. It also affirms the meaning of baptism, which is the rejection of evil and the commitment to Christ. “Do you want to be well?” Jesus asks, and then the healed man proclaims Jesus as his Healer. Some of the liturgical meaning is lost in some modern Bibles who relegate verse 4 about the angel touching the water to a footnote, as a passage not found in the earliest versions.

“O Christ, cure my soul as you once cured the paralytic man, for it is under the influence of evil and sin. Guide me that I may walk in your paths.” (Ode 5, Matins)

“From time to time an angel of the Lord came to stir up the waters of the pool of the Sheepgate. One man recovered his health, but now an infinite number are saved by Christ through baptism.” (Ode 4, Matins)

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras