Wednesday, July 20, 2016

HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH - A Place for You!

Holy Cross Orthodox Church is a faithful, friendly, vibrant and welcoming church, and we have a place for you.

We are a Faithful church, firmly committed to “the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), without addition, subtraction or change. We believe the same things that Christians believed a century ago, a millennium ago, even 2,000 years ago; and in the Orthodox Church there are no voices calling for change, no theological conflicts and no problems with liberal-modernism. We have never had a “dark” age, a Reformation or Counter Reformation, and we have never had a “Vatican II.” The Orthodox Church is timeless and unchanging in Faith and Morals, and Orthodox Christians will believe just as we do now until our Lord returns. As St. Athanasius the Great said, “Know that we must serve, not the times, but God.”

We are a friendly Church. Everyone is always welcome at Holy Cross parish - Orthodox Christians and Christians of other traditions, churched and unchurched, believers searching for a church that takes discipleship seriously and seekers who may not even be sure what they are looking for. 

We are a vibrant church, with plenty of opportunities for involvement and service. We celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist (Divine Liturgy/Holy Mass) twice each week, have active parish organizations including a parish Sisterhood (Women’s group), a vested Choir, a Guild of woodworkers and craftsmen who beautify and maintain our church, a quality Sunday School program, — and we regularly support four area homeless shelters. 

We contribute large amounts of food to feed those most in need at the Open Door Mission and the Lydia House shelters, and every ounce is contributed by the members and friends of Holy Cross parish. Our latest delivery totaled 507 pounds of much needed food, and we have another delivery ready to go.

Every Friday and one Saturday of the month large amounts of donated gourmet bread is delivered to the Francis and Siena House shelters. Pickups are made the night before. Making these regular pick-ups and deliveries takes real commitment on the part of our parish volunteers, and they carry out this virtually unseen ministry week after week, month after month, and year after year. In 2015, Holy Cross volunteers picked up and delivered 15,311 packages of donated gourmet bread. Now that is a lot of badly needed food! 

Hardly a word has to be said about these ministries to keep them working and to keep our members giving of their time. They are simply the good fruit of Christians who are serious disciples of Christ. 

We are a Welcoming church. Holy Cross parish is a real church community, and we enjoy being together. We have fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall after the Liturgy on Sundays, with a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of the month. We have an annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, a parish outing to see the Omaha Storm Chasers Baseball Club on Faith and Family Night, a Summer Church Picnic, a Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck at Santa’s Woods, occasional Dinner and a Movie Nights in our parish hall, and more. 

We are white and black, blue collar and white collar, young, middle aged, and seasoned. We are a diverse church family united by our love for God, faith in Jesus Christ, and commitment to the Orthodox Christian Faith. You will never feel like a stranger at Holy Cross parish, and after a few weeks you will feel like you have known everyone for years. We currently have seven catechumens who are preparing to be received into full membership in the Orthodox Church. Everyone is welcome to join us, and we have a place for you too!

Holy Cross Orthodox Church is a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). We are Western in culture and worship, and English and Celtic in spiritual heritage and traditions, while being in full communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. 

Although we are a Western Rite parish, Eastern Rite Orthodox Christians are always welcome to worship with us, receive the Holy Sacraments (Mysteries) at our altar, and become members of our parish. Eastern or Western, we are all One Church, One family and united in One Faith.

As a Western Rite Orthodox parish in the English and Celtic tradition, we use the Liturgy of St. Tikhon rather than the Eastern Rite Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. St. Tikhon of Moscow was responsible for making the restoration of the English Usage of the Western Rite possible, and our Liturgy carries his name in honour of his work. St. Tikhon is one of two patron saints of the Western Rite. The other is St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, the 50th anniversary of whose repose in 1966, was just commemorated around the world. It was St. John of San Francisco who said, “Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox you must be Eastern. The West was fully Orthodox for a thousand years.”

What makes Holy Cross parish such an amazing church? We are a Eucharistic community, and the Holy Eucharist is the centre and summit of our spirituality. The life of our parish is centered in the Holy Eucharist.

We celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, commonly called the Divine Liturgy or Holy Mass, twice every week. On Sunday morning we celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist with Gregorian chant and the great hymns of the Church. We worship God in a spirit of holiness, administer the Sacraments with great reverence, and preach real sermons, teaching the fullness of the Apostolic Faith.

Our midweek celebration of the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist is held over the lunch hour so busy people can come and receive the Bread of Life. This is a quiet, prayerful and intimate Liturgy with smaller numbers in attendance. Attendance for this midweek Liturgy can vary. Last Wednesday we had eleven in attendance. Receiving Holy Communion in the midst of a busy week will  change your week. Making it a habit will change your life!

Holy Cross parish has a very nice leased facility that includes a traditional chapel, parish hall, and sacristy, classroom and office space, and we have already twice expanded the amount of space we lease. We also have a Building Committee and are ready to purchase a church building whenever a suitable building becomes available, and are currently serious considering a building that we may buy. 

As a Western Rite parish we have a special mission to rebuild the Western Church that fell away from the Orthodox Church in 1054, and shattered into splinters after the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, and to re-evangelized the secularized West. There are now Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and on the Continent of Europe, and our numbers are growing.

Holy Cross Orthodox Church is a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. We celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. Everyone is invited to attend, and visitors are always welcome. We hope to see you there!

Monday, July 11, 2016

ORTHODOX REVIVAL IN RUSSIA

Dear friends in Christ,

I am attaching for you a link to  a MUST SEE twelve minute video of the Revival of Orthodoxy in Russia Exhibition in Moscow. 

Millions of Orthodox Christians were martyred under communism including some 40,000 priests, but with the fall of communism a great revival has begun. The Russian Orthodox Church has opened three new churches a day, each and every day, for more than a quarter of a century now, as well as more than 800 monasteries. A new Pentecost has begun with missionaries proclaiming the Gospel all around the world.  

At Holy Cross Orthodox Church we are among the fruit of this great spiritual revival and resurgence. Do you want to be where the Holy Spirit is on the move and great things are happening? The Orthodox Church is what you are looking for. We love being Orthodox. Come and join us. Everyone is welcome!

Here is the link to the video: 

We celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist (Divine Liturgy/Holy Mass) every Sunday at 10:00 AM. We are a faithful and friendly parish, and we have a place for you. Come and see!

blessings,

Father+

Fr. Victor Novak
Rector
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
A Western Rite parish of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558 

Friday, June 17, 2016

PENTECOST - Sunday, June 19th

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday, June 19th, is the Feast of Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday in our tradition. Pentecost is a major Feast of the Church, and a very important day in our spiritual lives. The aim of the Christian life is nothing less than the acquisition of the Holy Spirit and union with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. None of this could happen had it not been for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. May we continue to seek an ever deeper filling by the Holy Spirit and to live more fully in the Holy Spirit.

Sunday Matins is at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall after the Liturgy. Everyone is always welcome at Holy Cross parish. We are a faithful and friendly congregation, and we have a place for you. Hope to see you on Whitsunday!

blessings,

Father+

Fr. Victor Novak
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
www.holycrossomaha.net
(402) 573-6558

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

CHURCH NEWS

Understand two thoughts, and fear them. One says, ‘You are a saint,’ the other, ‘You won't be saved.’ Both of these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. But think this way: I am a great sinner, but the Lord is merciful. He loves people very much, and He will forgive my sins.” -- St Silouan the Athonite  

ASCENSION THURSDAY

Thursday, June 9th, is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at Holy Cross parish on Thursday evening at 6:30 PM. The Ascension of Christ into heaven took place forty days after His resurrection from the dead, and as Orthodox Christians we continue to celebrate the event forty days after Holy Pascha. Please join us Thursday evening to celebrate our Lord's Ascension.

WESTERN RITE ORDINATIONS

Last week two more former Anglican clergymen were ordained as Orthodox priests and two more former Anglican congregations were received into the Orthodox Church as Western Rite churches. Fr. Jonathan Cook and Fr. William Bauer are the two newly ordained Orthodox priests. Axios!

Fr. Jonathan Cook and his congregation were received into the Orthodox Church from the Missionary Diocese of All Saints of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA); and Fr. William Bauer and his congregation were received into the Orthodox Church from the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), a continuing Anglican jurisdiction that evolved from the Missionary Diocese of the America's which left the Episcopal Church under the leadership of Bishop Donald Davies more than twenty years ago.

Fr. William Bauer and I both served under the late Bishop Donald Davies. Bishop Davies had once been the Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska and became the first bishop of Fort Worth, Texas. He later left the Episcopal Church and became a continuing Anglican bishop. 

Fr. Jonathan Cook and I both served under the late Archbishop Robert Morse. Archbishop Robert Morse was one of the four original continuing Anglican bishops consecrated back in 1978. Both of these men are good priests and will be real assets to the work of our Western Rite Communities. The restoration of Western Orthodoxy continues to advance as the Lord rebuilds the foundation stone by stone. 

Fr. Jonathan Cook is pastor of St. Tikhon Orthodox Church in the greater Richmond area of Virginia, and Fr. William Bauer is the pastor of St. Columba Orthodox Church in Fernley, Nevada. There are photos of Fathers Jonathan and William at their ordinations posted on our parish Facebook page. May God grant them many years!

COMING HOME

Our English and Celtic forefathers in the Faith were torn away from the Orthodox Church against their will by the Norman Invasion and Conquest of 1066, but the door is now wide open to return to the Orthodox Church. Today, Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and in the United States alone there are hundreds of former Anglicans who are now Orthodox priests serving in both the Eastern and Western rites. 

The Western Rite that had been lost to the Orthodox Church due to the Papal Schism in 1054, and the Norman Conquest of Orthodox England in 1066, has been restored and the number of Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities is growing. At Holy Cross we have just celebrated our fourth Pascha (Easter) as an Orthodox parish. As a Western Rite Orthodox parish we have preserved the fullness of our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. We were received with open arms, have been fully integrated into the Orthodox Church, and have no nostalgia for our Anglican past. We have lost nothing and gained much. After almost a millennium, we are home.

To my traditional Anglican friends, both clerical and lay, please know that the door is wide open, the lights are on, and the welcome mat is out. I am often asked, “Where have all of the traditional Anglicans gone?” And my answer is always the same: Home to the Orthodox Church, — the Church of our Fathers. You can come home again too. You will be welcomed with joy. Come and see!

If you live in Eastern Nebraska or Western Iowa, I hope to see you at church on Thursday evening, June 9th, at 6:30 PM for the celebration of the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist for the Feast of the Ascension; or on Sunday morning at 10:00 AM for the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. Visitors are always welcome. We are a faithful and friendly parish and we have a place for you.

If you live outside of the Omaha area, but are interested in coming home to the Orthodox Church, I would be happy to answer your questions and to help you come home too. You can reach me by phone at (402) 573-6558, or by email at venovak@hughes.net. 

Jesus Christ is the Truth Revealed. Orthodox Christianity is the Truth Lived. Let’s live it!

HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

MORE ON EASTER AND THE MIRACLE OF THE HOLY FIRE

Christ is Risen! Христосъ воскресе! Christus resurrexit est!
We had a glorious celebration of Holy Pascha at Holy Cross parish with shouts of "Christ is Risen!" "He is Risen Indeed!" echoing through the temple. The Paschal Hymn, "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death..." was sung repeatedly throughout the Liturgy. The Processional Hymn was, Jesus Christ is Risen Today! And the Recessional Hymn was, Hail Thee Festival Day! (6th century). One catechumen was received into the Church by chrismation and another person was received into the catechumenate and is preparing for baptism. Red Easter Eggs were distributed. A festive Potluck Luncheon followed the Paschal Liturgy with a wide variety of delicious food, three kinds of wine, baklava, hot cross buns, Easter cakes and more. It was a glorious celebration and a joyful Feast. Easter has an Octave in the Western Rite so the celebration continues through Bright Week with the Octave Day this Sunday.

This was our fourth Pascha as an Orthodox parish, if you include the year that we were in transition to Orthodoxy and were under the protection of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. God has been very good to us, and we are so happy to be Orthodox Christians!

While we love and value our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony, we are Orthodox Christians who happen to be Western Rite, not Western Christians who happen to belong to the Orthodox Church. Why? Because “this is the Faith of the Apostles, this is the Faith of the Fathers, this is the Faith of the Orthodox, this is the Faith which has established the Universe.”

Metropolitan Hilarion has encouraged us to draw on the spiritual riches of the Christian East as well as restore the Western Rite to the Orthodox Church. This year we adopted a beautiful Eastern Rite practice during Holy Week. For the first time we had a bier with an Epitaphios (Icon of the Burial of Christ) set up in the church and decorated with flowers. It was deeply moving to pray on Good Friday before the bier of our Lord while awaiting His resurrection on the third day.

I am attaching for you links to some important articles, beautiful photographs and inspiring videos that will bless and uplift you, and encourage you in your walk with our Lord. I hope that you will take the time to visit these links. Believe me, you will be blessed!

First, is a link to a six minute video of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill celebrating the Paschal Liturgy at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. This magnificent cathedral was blown up by the bolsheviks after the communist revolution in Russia, but was rebuilt, just as it had been, after the fall of communism. It is beautiful!


Here is a link to a twelve minute video of the Paschal Service and Agape Vespers on the Holy Mountain of Athos:


Here is a link to photographs of Orthodox Christians throughout the world celebrating Holy Pascha:


Are you familiar with the Miracle of the Holy Fire? This is a wondrous miracle of God that has been happening every year on Orthodox Pascha (Easter) since the first century. This great miracle takes place at the Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel.

Every year the tomb is sealed and all of the candles and lampadas are extinguished. Before the Patriarch of Jerusalem enters theTomb of Christ for the Paschal Services he is carefully searched so that it can be verified by the faithful that nothing that could start a fire is brought in with him. This has been done year after year for centuries. After a period of prayer, the Holy Fire miraculously descends from God into the Tomb of Christ. This fire is then used to light the candles of the thousands of faithful who gather in and around the Church to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. Often lampadas and candles in various parts of the church also spontaneously light. The Holy Fire is then taken to other Orthodox countries. Today, it is usually flown by jet planes, sometimes by military jets. In both the video from Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow and the video from Mount Athos you will see the Holy Fire arriving from Jerusalem.

The Holy Fire is miraculous. Initially, it is unlike any other fire. The faithful can bathe their hands and faces in the flame without being burnt in any way by it - as you will see in the photos and in the video from Jerusalem. But later, it burns like any other flame. This miracle only occurs on Orthodox Easter and only at the Paschal Services of Orthodox Christians. 

I am attaching for you some articles on the Miracle of the Holy Fire, some photographs, and a short video taken of it this year. 

Skeptical? There is no reason to be. This miracle has happened year after year since the first century and has been attested to by vast numbers of witnesses throughout the centuries. This year the Holy Fire was even subjected to a scientific test. Here is an article about it in the Roman Catholic media by a formerly skeptical Roman Catholic reporter:


Here is a link to a short Video of the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem 2016:


There is even a website dedicated to sharing the Miracle of the Holy Fire with those who have not heard of it. There you will read a description of the Miracle of the Holy Fire from the Patriarch of Jerusalem himself. Here is the link:


I am also attaching for you a link to a report written almost a thousand years ago, titled, How the Holy Light Descends Upon the Holy Sepulchre, from The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land AD 1106-1107:


As I was writing this Update, a friend of mine who is highly placed in the Roman Catholic media sent me this quote about the Miracle of the Holy Fire from Pope Urban of Rome in 1096:

“Of holy Jerusalem, ...This very city, in which, as you all know, Christ Himself suffered for us, because our sins demanded ...in that place ...He died for us; there He was buried. How precious would be the longed for, incomparable place of the Lord's burial, even if God failed there to perform the yearly miracle! For in the days of His Passion (Holy Week) all the lights in the Sepulchre and round about in the church, which have been extinguished, are relighted by divine command. Whose heart is so stony, brethren, that it is not touched by so great a miracle? Believe me, that man is ...senseless whose heart such divinely manifest grace does not move to faith!”

On Easter Sunday, May 1st, I posted some amazing photographs of the Miracle of the Holy Fire on the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page. You will want to see these seven photographs. Here is the link to the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page:


If you have not visited the Holy Cross Facebook page I encourage you to do so today. Please “Like” our Facebook page so we can more effectively share the Good News of Jesus Christ and the full deposit of the Orthodox Christian Faith with others. The Holy Cross Parish Facebook page is updated regularly with important information so you will want to follow it closely.

We are now in the midst of Bright Week, commonly called Easter Week. Bright Week is Fast free, so there is no Fast or Abstinence all week long. We will celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist tomorrow, Bright Wednesday, at 12:10 PM. Receiving the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion in the midst of the week will change your week. Making it a habit will change your life. I hope to see you on Bright Wednesday!

This coming Sunday, May 8th, is the Octave Day of the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Holy Pascha has an Octave in the Western Rite and so we will continue to celebrate Easter this Sunday with the glorious Paschal Hymn, “Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” Sunday is also Mothers Day and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the day than by being at the Liturgy to pray for our mothers and by bringing our mothers to church.

Faith is not a leap into the dark, but a step into the Light of Christ. The Holy Fire that illumines the Tomb of Christ year after year on Orthodox Pascha is a reminder from God that the Tomb is empty, Christ is Risen, and He remains with His people. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16). “We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true Faith by worshipping the undivided Trinity. This has saved us” (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).

Sunday School is at 8:45 AM, followed by Matins at 9:15 AM, and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Fellowship and refreshments in the parish hall will follow the Liturgy. Everyone is always welcome at Holy Cross Orthodox Church. Invite your family and friends. We are a faithful and friendly parish, and we have a place for you!

Christ is Risen! Христосъ воскресе! Christus resurrexit est!

blessings,

Father+

Fr. Victor Novak
Rector
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
A Western Rite Parish of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Saturday, April 30, 2016

THE MIRACLE OF THE HOLY FIRE, AND EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES AT HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH

Dear friends in Christ,

THE MIRACLE OF THE HOLY FIRE HAS OCCURRED IN JERUSALEM! 

A “MUST SEE” VIDEO OF THE MIRACLE!

The Miracle of the Holy Fire has just occurred in Jerusalem (Jerusalem is in another time zone). This is a wondrous miracle of God that has been happening every year on Orthodox Pascha (Easter) since the first century. This great miracle takes place at the Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel.

Every year the tomb is sealed and all of the candles and lampadas are extinguished. Before the Patriarch of Jerusalem enters theTomb of Christ for the Paschal Services he is carefully searched so that it can be verified by the faithful that nothing that could start a fire is brought in with him. This has been done year after year for centuries. After a period of prayer, the Holy Fire miraculously descends from God into the Tomb of Christ. This fire is then used to light the candles of the thousands of faithful who gather in the Church to witness the miracle. Often lampadas in various parts of the church also spontaneously light. The Holy Fire is then taken to other Orthodox countries. Today, it is usually flown by jet planes, sometimes by military jets.

The Holy Fire is miraculous. For thirty-three minutes, one minute for every year of our Lord’s life, it is unlike any other fire. The faithful can bathe their hands and faces in the flame without being burnt in any way by it. But after thirty-three minutes it burns like any other flame. This miracle only occurs on Orthodox Easter and only at the Paschal Services of Orthodox Christians. 

I am attaching for you three articles and a short video on the Miracle of the Holy Fire. Please be sure to at least view the video, and then send it on to family and friends.

The first article is a short piece reporting that the Holy Fire has just descended in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. 

After that, you will find a short VIDEO taken of the miracle that has just occurred. Please watch it carefully. You will see how the Holy Fire is passed from candle to candle among the Orthodox faithful; and then YOU WILL SEE how the faithful bathe their hands and necks and faces in the tall flames coming from the candles, but ARE NOT BURNT by the Holy Fire. In fact they are smiling and rejoicing as the flames of the Holy Fire bathes their flesh, but does not burn them. This too is a miracle of God!

The next link will take you to a website dedicated to spreading the word of this annual miracle that has been taking place on Orthodox Easter Sunday since the first century. There you will read a description of the Miracle of the Holy Fire from the Patriarch of Jerusalem himself.

The final link will take you a report on the Miracle of the Holy Fire from Abbot Daniel who was on pilgrimage in the Holy Land from AD 1106 to 1107, almost a thousand years ago.

God is good and is with His people! 

Here are the links: 

Report: HOLY FIRE HAS DESCENDED IN CHURCH OF HOLY SEPULCHRE IN JERUSALEM, 2016:


VIDEO - Miracle of the Holy Fire (Holy Light) in Jerusalem 2016:


Description of the Miracle of Holy Light (Holy Fire) that happens every year in Jerusalem:


HOW THE HOLY LIGHT DESCENDS UPON THE HOLY SEPULCHRE, From The Pilgrimage of the Russian Abbot Daniel in the Holy Land AD 1106-1107 :


EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES AT HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 1st, is Easter Sunday. A Solemn Paschal Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 10:00 AM. A festive Potluck Luncheon will follow in the parish hall. 

Please be sure to invite family and friends. Visitors are always welcome! Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing. There is always plenty of good food and warm fellowship.

HOLY CROSS PARISHIONERS

Members of our church family are asked to bring a main dish, OR a side dish and a desert for our Easter Sunday Potluck Luncheon. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing.

There will be no Sunday School or Matins on Easter Sunday. A Solemn Paschal Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 10:00 AM.

The church will be beautifully decorated for Holy Pascha, with new lampadas on the walls. Beautiful Paschal hymns will be sung, including the Paschal troparion: “Christ is Risen from the Dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” We will greet one another with the ancient Paschal greeting: “Christ is Risen!” With the response, “He is Risen indeed!” After Holy Mass red Easter Eggs will be distributed to the faithful in remembrance of Christ’s death upon the cross and his  Resurrection from the dead on the third day.

Holy Pascha, Easter Sunday, is the feast of feasts, the most holy day of the Christian year and the most important day in history. God is with us, and has demonstrated that He is with us by once again performing the Miracle of the Holy Fire at the Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. Every Christian should be in church on Holy Pascha to celebrate and give thanks for the Resurrection of Christ, for in dying he conquered death and in rising he restored our life. Christ is Risen!

Invite your family and friends. It may just change their lives! I’ll be looking forward to seeing you at church in the morning.

May God grant you every grace and blessing,

Father+

Fr. Victor Novak
Rector
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558 

Friday, April 22, 2016

HOLY WEEK AT HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH

Holy Week begins Sunday, April 24th, with Palm Sunday. Holy Pascha, commonly called Easter Sunday, is Sunday, May 1st.

PALM SUNDAY, April 24.

9:15 AM - Matins, followed at 10:00 AM by the Blessing and Distribution of Palms and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, with fellowship and refreshments in the parish hall after the Liturgy. 

There will be no Sunday School on Palm Sunday. Christian Education resumes on Sunday, May 8th. Our monthly Potluck Luncheon has been moved to Easter Sunday, so we can celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ with a joyous agape meal, but we will have fellowship and refreshments after the Liturgy on Palm Sunday as usual. There will be plenty of blessed palms to take home and to share with others so take all you need.

SPY WEDNESDAY, April 27.

11:00 to 11:45 AM - Confessions.

12:10 PM - The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. 

Wednesday of Holy Week is the day on which Judas made arrangements with the Temple authorities to betray Christ and thus became a spy within the band of the Apostles. Join us at church as Jesus begins his passion, and pray that we may all live in such a way that we never betray Christ in thought, word or deed.

MAUNDY THURSDAY, April 28.

11:00 AM to Noon - Confessions.

6:30 PM - The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, Vespers and the Stripping of the Altar. 

On this evening we commemorate the Last Supper (called the Mystical Supper in the East) and the institution of the Holy Eucharist by Christ, and receive Holy Communion with those in the Upper Room as from Christ’s own hand. Immediately after Holy Mass we  go with Christ into the Garden of Gethsemane and respond to His heartfelt request that we “watch and pray” (St. Matthew 26:40) with him, by praying Vespers. Upon the conclusion of Vespers the altar is stripped bare and the tabernacle left empty in remembrance that our Lord has been betrayed, arrested and taken away.

Maundy Thursday is the traditional English name for the Thursday before Easter. In the Roman Rite it is commonly called Holy Thursday. The word “Maundy” derives from the first antiphon of the ceremony of the washing of feet, “mandatum novum” - “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (St. John 13:34). 

In the English tradition the ancient ceremony of washing the feet of twelve (or more) poor men has been confined to bishops and other great ecclesiastical and secular personages. In modern times the adoption of the Roman Rite practice of the parish priest washing the feet of twelve men has been introduced and is becoming more common in English Use parishes. 

Sheer Thursday is another old name for Maundy Thursday, from “Sheer” (similar to Shrove), meaning “clean” and “free from guilt,” referencing the practice of going to confession and receiving absolution. Confessions are scheduled to be heard on Spy Wednesday from 11:00 at 11:45 AM, Maundy Thursday from 11:00 AM to Noon, Good Friday after The Way of the Cross, and by appointment.

GOOD FRIDAY, April 29.

10:00 AM - Matins and the Liturgy of the Word (Ante-Communion).

12:10 PM - The Way of the Cross.

12:30 PM - Confessions (Immediately after The Way of the Cross).

6:30 PM - Vespers and the Litany.

On Good Friday we commemorate the passion, crucifixion, and burial of Christ. At Matins we remember our Lord’s arrest and trial; and at the Liturgy of the Word, or Ante-Communion, his scourging and crucifixion.

In the Western Rite, Good Friday and Easter Even (or Holy Saturday) are the only days of the year that the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist cannot be celebrated. In the English tradition the Liturgy of the Word, often called the Ante-Communion, follows Matins, while in the Roman Rite a Liturgy of the Presanctified has become grafted onto it. Some English Use parishes have also adopted this practice.

At 12:10 PM we will follow our Lord Jesus Christ as he carries his cross from prison to Golgotha with a service of prayer and reflection called, The Way of the Cross. Confessions will again be heard after this Service.   

At 6:30 PM we will gather once again for Vespers and the Litany, keeping watch in anticipation of our Lord’s Resurrection. This year we will incorporate a beautiful Eastern Rite tradition into our evening Service. We will have an Epitaphion (“belonging to the burial”). The Epitaphion or Epitaphios is an icon of the burial of Christ that will lay on a bier in the centre of the church, decorated with flowers. Gathered around the tomb of Christ we will sing Vespers and the Litany.

I am sometimes asked why the Orthodox Christian Church observes Holy Week and celebrates Pascha, Easter Sunday, at a time that often is at variance with that of other Christians. The answer is simple. The Council of Nicea (AD 325) that has given us the Nicene Creed also established when Easter was to be celebrated. As Orthodox Christians we continue to recite the Nicene Creed as originally written, without the Filioque clause (that is both un-Scriptural and was added unilaterally and without Catholic consent), and we continue to celebrate Easter as directed by that Oecumenical Council. In an ever changing world the Orthodox Church has an unchanging message. Orthodox Christianity is a fixed star by which men and women can find their way home to our Father’s House.

Please arrange your schedule so you can attend as many Holy Week Services as possible. Try to attend them all as they are all different and through them you will be able to follow our Lord from his betrayal at the hands of a friend (Do we betray him through our sin, indifference and double mindedness?), his arrest, passion, crucifixion, death and burial, and his glorious resurrection on the third day. Holy Week is the holiest week of the year, and it can touch hearts and change lives.

Paschal (Easter) Service information will be posted next week, but for now let us focus our attention on being with our Lord on these last few days of his earthly life. We adore thee O Christ and we bless thee. Because by thy holy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.

Visitors are always welcome at Holy Cross parish. We are a faithful and friendly congregation, and we have a place for you! 

HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558