Friday, November 4, 2016

IMPORTANT NEWS FROM JERUSALEM

I am attaching for you a link to a “must read” article from Jerusalem titled, UNSEALING OF CHRIST'S REPUTED TOMB TURNS UP NEW REVELATIONS.

Researchers have continued their investigation into the site where the body of Jesus Christ had been buried by St. Joseph of Arimathea, and last week they unsealed the tomb. Their findings confirm that portions of the original tomb are still present today, having survived centuries of damage, destruction, and reconstruction of the surrounding Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.

You will want to read this important article, see the photographs and watch the amazing two and a half minute video. Then you will want to send it out to everyone you know.

The Holy Sepulchre has been under the care of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Mother Church of all Christendom, since the earliest times. 

Did you know that as an Orthodox Christian you can receive Holy Communion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest place on earth, the place of our Lord’s burial and Resurrection? Did you know that as an Orthodox Christian you can receive Holy Communion at St. Catherine’s Orthodox Monastery - the oldest functioning monastery in Christendom - on Mount Sinai where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments? Did you know that as an Orthodox Christian you belong to the indigenous Church of Jerusalem, the Holy Land and the Middle East with an unbroken existence dating back to our Lord and His apostles? 

Did you know that the Church did not originate in Rome, Augsburg, Geneva, Canterbury, or in the United States, but in Jerusalem and the Holy Land some 2,000 years ago? Did you know that as an Orthodox Christian you belong to the oldest Church in the world, the original Church founded by Christ Himself? You do. 

Is this important? What could be more important than to belong to the Church Christ Himself established, which is His Body of which He is Head, and which bears His Divine promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against and that He will return for as a Bridegroom coming for His bride? To my readers who are not yet Orthodox Christians let me say that you too can come home to this Church. The doors are wide open. The welcome mat is out. The Orthodox Catholic Church welcomes everyone. We have a place for you. What are you waiting for? Come and see!

Here is the link to this important article and video:


SUNDAY SERVICES

Sunday Christian Education 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 our parish hall follow the Liturgy. If you have never visited Holy Cross parish or haven’t worshipped with us lately, please accept my personal invitation to worship with us this Sunday. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish and we have a place for you. 

See you on Sunday!

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

THE ANGLICAN CONVERT MOVEMENT AND THE RESTORATION OF WESTERN RITE ORTHODOXY - A Fulfillment of Ancient Prophecy

The Anglican Convert Movement

Today Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church. They are everywhere, and are found among the laity and clergy in both the Eastern and Western Rites of the Church. Orthodox Archpriest Josiah Trenham, himself a former Anglican clergyman of the Reformed Episcopal Church writes, “It is my estimate that there is no heterodox body in America from which more Orthodox clergy have come than the Anglican Communion. The number of Orthodox priests in this country that were previously Episcopal clergy is certainly in the hundreds”(1). In the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) alone, we have many clergymen who are converts from Anglicanism, including two bishops: Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) and Bishop Jerome (Shaw), and the Dean of our Western Rite Communities, Fr. Mark Rowe, who is a former Anglican priest and Archdeacon. 

There are more former Anglicans in the Orthodox Church today than there are Continuing Anglicans. This is true in both North America and the United Kingdom, and the Anglican convert movement is not just an Anglo-Catholic phenomenon. In the United Kingdom the Pilgrimage to Orthodoxy movement that brought such a wave of Anglicans into the Orthodox Church was led by Fr. Michael Harper. Fr. Michael Harper was a Evangelical Anglican and served with the Rev. John Stott on the staff of All Souls parish, Langham Place. He had been a leader of the Evangelical movement and had been an Anglican priest for nearly forty years when he was received into the Orthodox Church. You can read all about Fr. Michael Harper and the Pilgrimage to Orthodoxy in his book,  “A Faith Fulfilled - Why Are Christians Across Great Britain Embracing Orthodoxy?”  When I am asked, “Where have all the traditional Anglicans gone?” My answer is always the same: To the Orthodox Church!

A New Pentecost

The Anglican convert movement is part of the New Pentecost that began in the Orthodox Church with the fall of Soviet Communism.

On October 11, 2016, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, spoke about religious faith in Russia, its history and revival in recent decades at a meeting with a group of professors and 250 students from Italy. 

Metropolitan Hilarion said, “The epoch which we call ‘the second Baptism of Russia’ begun in our Church in 1988. The mass baptism of our population started in Russia in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s,” 

“Today we have 35,000 churches. That means that we have opened 29,000 churches over twenty-eight years, opening more than 1,000 churches per year or three per day… Earlier we had three theological seminaries or academies, and today there are over fifty,” the metropolitan stressed.

He said, Russian history has “never witnessed such growth in religious faith as we have seen in the past twenty-eight years.”

“More than that, I know no other precedent of this kind anywhere throughout the history of mankind. We are aware that the epoch of St. Constantine the Great in the fourth century was a time when churches were built everywhere and mass baptisms took place. But there is no statistics for that period, while we do have statistics for the epoch we live in,” he added.

Noting that today many say that modern society lives in the post-Christian era, Metropolitan Hilarion said that this is not felt in Russia. “With our own eyes we have seen the power of Christianity which enables us to open three churches per day today. We have witnessed how Christianity transforms human lives, to what extent Christ and His teaching are still important nowadays.”

This New Pentecost has spread throughout the Orthodox world and into America. Today in the United States 23% of all Orthodox Christians - about one in four - are converts, as are 30% of the Orthodox clergy and 43% of Orthodox seminarians. These statistics are staggering! This is a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. 

The restoration of the Orthodox Western Rite which was essentially lost to the Orthodox Church on the continent of Europe in 1054, due to the Papal Schism, and in the British Isles in 1066, because of the Norman Invasion and Conquest, is part of this New Pentecost. But the restoration of English Orthodoxy in our day is also a fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

Ancient Prophecy Fulfilled

St. Edward the Confessor was the next to the last of the Orthodox Kings of England. He died on January 6, 1066, and William the Conqueror was crowned a year and a day later on January 7, 1067. The last Orthodox King of England, the Royal Passion-bearer King Harold Godwinson, had died in battle on October 14, 1066 defending Orthodox England from the Norman Invaders.

St. Edward the Confessor had been given a prophecy on his death bed. Much of the prophecy was fulfilled soon after his death, but the last part, the most important part, is only being fulfilled in our day.

In early January, 1066, the holy King of England, St. Edward the Confessor, was confined to his bed by his last illness in his royal palace at Westminster. St. Aelred, Abbott of Rievaulx, in Yorkshire, relates that a short time before his death, this holy king had a vision and was given a prophecy.

St. Edward the Confessor said, “Just now two monks stood before me, whom I had once known very well when I was a young man in Normandy, men of great sanctity, and for many years now relieved from earthly cares. And they addressed me with a message from God. ‘Since,’ they said, ‘those who have climbed to the highest offices in the Kingdom of England, the earls, the bishops and abbots, and all those in Holy Orders, are not what they seem to be, but on the contrary, are servants of the Devil, on a year and one day after the day of your death God has delivered all this kingdom, cursed by Him, into the hands of the enemy, and devils shall come through all this land with fire and sword and the havoc of war.’ Then I said to them, ‘I will show God’s design to the people, and the forgiveness of God shall have mercy upon the penitents. For He had mercy on the people of Nineveh, when they repented on hearing the Divine indignation.’ But they said, ‘These will not repent, nor will the forgiveness of God come to pass for them.’ ‘And what,’ I asked, ‘shall happen? And when can a remission of this great indignation be hoped for?’ ‘At that time,’ they answered, ‘when a green tree, if cut down in the middle of its trunk, and the part cut off carried the space of three furlongs from the stock, shall be joined again to the trunk, by itself and without the hand of man or any sort of stake, and begin once more to push leaves and bear fruit from the old love of its uniting sap, then first can a remission of these great ills be hoped for’” (2).

After having heard these prophetic words, King Edward opened his eyes, returned to his senses, and the vision vanished. He immediately related all he had seen and heard to his spouse, Edgitha, to Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, and to Harold Godwinson, his successor to the throne, who were in his chamber praying around his bed.

The Norman Conquest culminated at the pseudo-council of Westminster in 1070, when papal legates deposed the Orthodox Archbishop of Canterbury Stigand, who had refused to crown the usurper, William of Normandy as King of England. Archbishop Stigand was replaced on the throne of St. Augustine of Canterbury by Llanfranc, another Norman usurper. All but one of the English bishops had been imprisoned and replaced by the Norman invaders, and on October 15, 1072, the last surviving English Orthodox Bishop, Ethelric of Durham, died in prison after anathematizing pope. 

The interpretation of this vision is clear. St. Edward the Confessor died on January 6, 1066. Exactly one year and one day later, as foretold, on January 7, 1067, the Norman usurper, William of Normandy, was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey. The Normans, who had already inflicted a great deal of destruction on Saxon England during the invasion, unleashed a terrible campaign of pillage, terror and death upon the English people, their Church and its clergy. This part of the prophecy was fulfilled long ago, and the suffering of the English people at the hands of the Norman conquerors is a fact of history. The last part of this prophecy however, is only being fulfilled in our day.

The severance of the green tree from its trunk signifies the separation of the English Church from the rest of the Orthodox Church by the papal crusade known as the  Norman Conquest. This tree was to be separated from its life-giving trunk the distance of "three furlongs," Geographically, the English Church would be far separated from its Orthodox trunk. But, it “shall be joined again to the trunk, by itself and without the hand of man.” Despite the fact that there had been no organized outreach to them and no formal reunion discussions, traditional Anglicans are reuniting with the Orthodox Church as Western Rite Orthodox Christians, and this movement continues to grow and spread throughout what had been the Anglican world. This is a move of the Holy Spirit, not the work of man.

Having been restored, according to the prophecy, they shall “begin once more to push up leaves,” showing new life, “and bear fruit,” of sanctity and good works. How will this fruit bearing life be renewed? The prophecy is clear: “from the love of its uniting sap, then first can a remission of these greater ills be hoped for.” Its “uniting sap” is the Faith of the undivided Church, the Orthodox Catholic Faith, and the grace-bearing Holy Sacraments.

Western Rite Orthodox Christians hold the same Faith as Eastern Rite Orthodox Christians. There can never be any compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith. It is this deposit of Faith, this “uniting sap” that binds together Orthodox Christians  regardless of rite, jurisdiction or ethnicity. 

The English Liturgy, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Tikhon in honour of the Saint whose efforts made its authorization by the Orthodox Church possible, along with the Sarum Usage of the Western Rite, and the traditional Roman Rite have all been restored to the Orthodox Church and authorized for use. In fulfillment of the prophecy of St. Edward the Confessor, the English cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony has been restored in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. 

The restoration of Western Orthodoxy has been the culmination of a long journey home. The English Reformation which began in 1534, was very different from that on the Continent. In England the Reformation was carried out by the bishops themselves and no new Church was formed. The aim of the English Reformation was restoration - the restoration of the Faith of what is commonly called the undivided Church.

By 1534, the English Church had been separated from its Orthodox roots by almost five centuries; and England was geographically far removed from the Orthodox world, with hostile Roman Catholic powers in between. Reformation is never easy, and under these circumstances was very difficult. Mistakes and missteps were made, but much good was also accomplished.

The work of the English Reformation - really Restoration - was advanced in the 17th century by the Caroline Divines, and then in 18th century by the Non-Jurors. It continued to advance in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries with the Oxford Movement; and then in the latter half of the 20th and into the 21st centuries in the Continuing Anglican Movement. The St. Louis Church Congress of 1977, and the Continuing Anglican Movement that it gave birth to, brought the remnant of faithful Anglicans to the very door of the Orthodox Church, with large numbers of Anglicans stepping through that door and coming home. 

 You Can Come Home Again

The English patrimony has been re-grafted onto the Orthodox trunk. With the restoration of the Western Rite in general and the English Liturgy in particular, the fulness of the English cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony has been restored to the Orthodox Church - and it is growing and thriving, beginning “once more to push leaves and bear fruit from the old love of its uniting sap” as St. Edward the Confessor foretold.

When concerned Episcopalians left the Episcopal Church after the 1976 General Convention due to that body’s apostasy, they likened their Continuing Anglican Movement to Israel’s Exodus from bondage in Egypt. The St. Louis Church Congress in 1977, which gave birth to the Movement issued an historic declaration called, “The Affirmation of St. Louis.” In The Affirmation of St. Louis, acceptance of seven Sacraments, seven Oecumenical Councils, Holy Tradition, the Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins, and the Fathers and Doctors of the undivided Church was affirmed; and in two places in that Affirmation reunion with Christians who held the same Faith was called for. The Affirmation of St. Louis has been called the most Orthodox theological statement ever adopted by a non-Orthodox Church, and it is clear that the fathers of the Continuing Anglican Movement saw reunion with the Orthodox Church as their goal because only the Orthodox Church  professes seven Oecumenical Councils.

Continuing Anglicans left their Egypt a generation ago and have been wandering in the wilderness ever since. Like Israel of old though, there is a great danger of getting used to living in the wilderness and becoming comfortable there.   

Traditional Anglicans who have been praying and waiting for reunion with the Orthodox Church have had their prayers answered and need wait no longer. The Vision Glorious of the Oxford Movement and the goal of The Affirmation of St. Louis can now be fulfilled. You too can come home again with the fulness of your patrimony, and if you are a clergyman you can continue your ministry in the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Creeds. Many of us have already come home, and we have prepared a place for you.

The future of traditional Anglicans and of the English spiritual tradition is in full sacramental communion and visible unity with Orthodox Church from which our forbearers in the Faith were torn away against their will by the Norman Conquest. The Western Rite Communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are thriving and growing. With the fall of communism the world-wide Orthodox Church is experiencing a New Pentecost. You too can be a part of this tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. For more information please visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities: http://www.rocor-wr.org/ or contact me directly. You will be glad you did.


NOTES

  1. Rock and Sand, An Orthodox Appraisal of the Protestant Reformers and Their Theology, by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Newrome Press, c. 2015, p. 193.
  2. Vita Edwardi Regis, ca. 1065-1067, Nelson Medieval Texts, 1962; cited in Saints of England’s Golden Age, by Vladimir Moss, B.A. (Oxon.). Ph.D (Surrey), Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, c. 1997, p. 251.

Monday, October 17, 2016

PATRIARCH KIRILL’S VISIT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill is in the midst of a patriarchal visit to the United Kingdom. Sunday morning an estimated 1,000 people gathered in London’s Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God and All Saints to attend an historic Liturgy celebrated by the Patriarch.

The Service included the consecration of London’s largest Orthodox Christian Cathedral, which had undergone a major refurbishment, and the Divine Liturgy (Holy Mass), commemorating the 300th anniversary of the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church in the British Isles. During the Liturgy Patriarch Kirill commemorated “all the Saints who shone forth in the British land.”

Patriarch Kirill also commemorated the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) with the Moscow Patriarchate. The two reunited in 2007, after 80 years of canonical separation following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent communist persecution of the Church in Russia.

The Western Rite with its English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony which was lost to the Orthodox Church in 1066, due to the Norman Conquest, has been restored by the Russian Orthodox Church. The Western Rite of the Orthodox Church is thriving and growing. 

I am attaching for you a link to an informative article about Patriarch Kirill’s visit to the UK with some great photographs. There is also excellent video that I encourage you to see. Here is the link:


After a generation of doctrinal and moral confusion and declining influence of Christianity in the West it is such a blessing for us to be part of a worldwide Christian revival. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, and Russia alone saw the shedding of the blood of some 20 million Orthodox Christian martyrs under atheistic communism. With the fall of Soviet communism a new Pentecost began in Russia that is spreading around the world and we are part of it.

Here is a link to a great article on the Orthodox resurgence in Russia:


Let us give thanks for the New Springtime that has begun in Russia and Eastern Europe and pray for the conversion of America and Western Europe. Everyone is invited to participate in this move of the Holy Spirit and to have a part in this New Springtime. The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone. We have a place for you. Some and see!

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HOLY CROSS PARISH

Some of our readers have never visited Holy Cross parish while others haven’t worshipped with us for some time, so I would like to tell you a little about us. 

Holy Cross is a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). What does that mean? It means that we are a fully canonical parish of the Moscow Patriarchate, in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million member Orthodox Church, while preserving our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony.

The Gospel was brought to the British Isles in AD 37, by St. Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Christ in his own tomb after the crucifixion. At the time of the Great Schism in 1054, the Church in the British Isles remained Orthodox, leading to the Norman Invasion and Conquest in 1066. 

The Norman Invasion was promoted as a crusade to bring an "erring" (i.e. Orthodox) English Church under the authority of Rome. The Normans conquered England, killed the English King in battle, and imprisoned and replaced all but one of the English bishops with Normans. Members of the English Royal Family fled to Russia where they married into the Russian Royal Family.

The English Reformation which began in 1534, was very different from the Protestant Reformation on the Continent that began in 1517. The English Reformation was conducted by the English bishops themselves. No new Church was created, but the old one was reformed with the goal of restoring the Faith of what is commonly called the undivided Church. That goal was advanced by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century, the Oxford Movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the great St. Louis Church Congress and the Continuing Anglican Movement of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries, bringing many Anglicans to the very door of the Orthodox Church where they have received a warm welcome. Today Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and hundreds of former Anglicans are now serving as Orthodox priests in America alone.

OUR WORSHIP

In the Orthodox Church the Roman Rite, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great has been restored; as has the English Usage of the Roman Rite, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, named in honour of the Russian bishop who made its restoration possible. At Holy Cross parish we use the English Use, or Liturgy of St. Tikhon, which has long been described by English and Celtic Christians as “our incomparable liturgy.”

On Sunday morning we have sung Matins (Morning Prayer) at 9:15 AM, with the Psalms and Canticles sung according to the ancient Gregorian and Sarum chant tones, along with the ancient Office Hymn. The Divine Office is sung by the congregation, led by our Cantor and Schola Cantorum (Vested Choir), and it is a very beautiful and prayerful Service.

The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, also known as Holy Mass or the Divine Liturgy follows at 10:00 AM. At the Eucharistic Liturgy the great hymns of the Church are sung, the Propers (Introit, Gradual and Alleluia, Offertory Verse and Communion Verse) are chanted according to the ancient Gregorian chant tones, with Merbecke used for the Ordinary (Kyries, Gloria in excelsis, Sanctus and Benedictus, etc.). Real sermons are preached, exegeting the Holy Scriptures and applying them to everyday life. The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated ad orientem (with the priest facing the altar) and wearing the ancient Western vestments. It is a very beautiful and uplifting Liturgy that carries us to the very Throne of Grace.

PARISH LIFE

Fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall follows the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, with a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of the month. Community life is very important at Holy Cross parish and parishioners love being together. Holy Cross is a faithful and friendly parish and everyone is wanted and welcomed. Like the old hit television series Cheers, it is a place where everyone knows your name and everyone is glad that you came. After a few weeks new people feel like they have known everyone for years.

At Holy Cross we are a parish of converts and we are committed to reaching out to everyone with the treasures that we have found in the ancient Orthodox Church. Our Mission is  to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him, and the fullness of the Apostolic Faith to those who do. 

We want everyone to come to Christ, embrace the fullness of the Apostolic Faith, be united in the One Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself, and to have life now and that more abundantly, with eternal life with our Lord in his Kingdom. In 2015, we received four new communicant members into our parish: three from Anglicanism and one from Lutheranism. So far in 2016, we have received six new communicant members into our parish: one from Anglicanism, one from Evangelicalism, and four from Traditional Roman Catholicism. In addition, we currently have seven Catechumens who are preparing to be received as communicants: three adults who had been unchurched and are preparing for baptism, and four former Traditional Roman Catholics. We also have a steady stream of visitors and inquirers.

At Holy Cross parish we have a family that makes a six hour round trip to church twice a month. We also have one that makes nearly a four our round trip to church every week. We have two families who make a three hour round trip, and two who drive a ninety minute round trip to church. Why do they drive so far? Because they have found a church worth the drive! We also have members who live close enough to walk or who are only minutes from church by car. We have members in both Nebraska and Iowa, and who live in Omaha, the surrounding communities, and in rural areas. Our oldest member is in his 70s and our youngest is four months old. We are white and black, blue collar, white collar, elementary, high school and college students, self employed and retired. On Sunday you will find the congregation about half male and half female.

We actively support four area homeless shelters in Omaha, and have done so for years. Every year we provide large amounts of food to the Open Door Mission and Lydia House Shelters, with every ounce donated from within our parish. In addition, we make deliveries of donated gourmet bread to the Francis and Sina House Shelters every Friday and one Saturday of the month. In the last year alone we have delivered more than 15,000 packages of donated gourmet bread. We have also raised money to dig clean water wells in Africa and to support the work of Voice of the Martyrs. 

At Holy Cross parish we also enjoy special activities together. Every year we have a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, occasional Dinner and a Movie Nights in our parish hall, an annual outing to Werner Park on Faith and Family Night to see our local Triple A baseball club the Omaha, Storm Chasers play, an annual Summer Church Picnic and a Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck at Santa’s Woods. 

Our annual Summer Church Picnic was held at the Pavilion at Halleck Park in Papillion last Sunday after the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. We grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, which everyone enjoyed, along with other main dishes and a wide variety of delicious side dishes and deserts. Everyone had a wonderful time. 

This year our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck at Santa’s Woods will be held on Saturday evening, October 29th. The Hayrack Ride begins promptly at 6:00 PM, so please arrive early.

Santa’s Woods is located between Omaha and Blair on Blair High Road. There is a large sign that you cannot miss. Santa’s Woods is a working farm and a popular place to buy a Christmas trees. The hayrack ride will take us through newly harvested fields and then take us to a private setting where we will be welcomed by a roaring bonfire. There will be picnic tables with electrical outlets for coffee and crock pots; and hotdogs, marshmallows, and smores can be roasted in the fire.

This is not a parish fundraiser and the church will only be charging what Santa’s Woods charges the church. Ages thirteen and up are $9.00, five through twelve are $6.00, with children under five free. Our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck is always a highlight of our parish life and everyone always has a wonderful time, so mark your calendar and begin telling your family and friends about it. Everyone is invited!

AN INVITATION

The Orthodox Church is not a denomination. The Orthodox Church has an unbroken history dating back to Jesus Christ Himself. The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity and it is still the heartland of Orthodox Christianity. The Church in Jerusalem where it all began has always been and remains an Orthodox Church, as is the Church of Antioch, Syria where the disciples were first called Christians. The Orthodox Church is also known as the Eastern Orthodox Church because Christianity originated in the East, not in Rome, Augsburg, Geneva or Canterbury, much less in America; but the Orthodox Church is both Eastern and Western in culture and worship, and is made up of people from every race, ethnicity, nation and language on earth. The Orthodox Church is Catholic, Universal, and everyone is always welcome. We have never had a Reformation or a Counter Reformation, but have preserved in its fullness "the faith which was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). The Orthodox Church does not change in Faith and Morals. She is an unchanging Church with an unchanging Message to an ever changing world. 

Now that I have told you a little about Holy Cross parish I hope that you will “Come and See.” Everyone is always welcome at Holy Cross parish. Sunday Matins is at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with fellowship and refreshments after the Liturgy. For more information you can call the church office at (402) 573-6558 or email me at venovak@hughes.net. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. I hope to see you on Sunday!

Friday, September 23, 2016

HOLY CROSS UPDATE

Dear friends in Christ,

This Update is going out to the members and friends of Holy Cross parish. Please pass it on to anyone who may be interested in it. It is a bit of a long one, but it is filled with important in formation so please read it carefully.

SUMMER CHURCH PICNIC - Sunday, September 25

This coming Sunday is our annual Summer Church Picnic which will immediately follow the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. Once again we have reserved a covered pavilion at Halleck Park, 816 E. Halleck Street in Papillion. Halleck Park is a beautiful setting for our Summer Church Picnic and is only minutes from the church.

This Sunday only, Matins will be at 9:00 AM, followed by he Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 9:30 AM. These Services have been moved up to give us more time at Halleck Park as we could only reserve the pavilion until 2:00 PM. There will be no Christian Education this Sunday. Classes will resume next week.

The picnic is absolutely free, so be sure to invite family and friends. Our parish Women’s Group, the Sisters of Holy Cross, will be providing hamburgers and hotdogs that will be grilled at the picnic. 

Members of our church family are asked to bring a main dish, OR a side dish and a desert or drink. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing. 

FALL HAYRACK RIDE, BONFIRE AND POTLUCK - Saturday evening, October 29

Our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck at Santa’s Woods will be held on Saturday evening, October 29th. The Hayrack Ride begins promptly at 6:00 PM, so please arrive early.

Santa’s Woods is located between Omaha and Blair on Blair High Road. There is a large sign that you cannot miss. Santa’s Woods is a working farm and a popular place to buy a Christmas trees. The hayrack ride will take us through newly harvested fields and then take us to a private setting where we will be welcomed by a roaring bonfire. There will be picnic tables with electrical outlets for coffee and crock pots; and hotdogs, marshmallows, and smores can be roasted in the fire.

This is not a parish fundraiser and the church will only be charging what Santa’s Woods charges the church. I will get the the cost (which is nominal) out to you as soon as I have it. Our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck is always a highlight of our parish life and everyone always has a wonderful time, so begin telling your family and friends about it. Everyone is invited!

A NEW SPRINGTIME

The 21st century is proving to be a New Springtime for the Orthodox Church, with rapid growth being experienced everywhere. The revival and resurgence in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is unprecedented in Church history, and growth around the world is nothing short of amazing. In America alone, 23% (nearly one in four) of Orthodox Christians are converts, as are 30% of clergy and 43% of seminarians. At Holy Cross Orthodox Church we are a parish of converts, and we received five more into the Orthodox Church and into our parish on the Feast of Dormition (Assumption), and five into the Catechumenate last Sunday.

Converts to Orthodox Christianity come from every Christian tradition and from none; and from Christian backgrounds as diverse as Evangelical Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, with the largest single group of converts coming from Anglicanism. They come from everywhere and find their spiritual home in the Orthodox Church.

I am attaching for you a link to the testimony of Hal Freeman, another Southern Baptist who, with his family, has found his way home to the Orthodox Church. Hal and I are Facebook friends and I enjoy reading his blog. He is the son of a Southern Baptist minister who grew up in a devout Southern Baptist home, went to a Southern Baptist seminary and became a teacher in a Southern Baptist University. I think you will find his testimony a blessing. Here is the link:


PARISH FACEBOOK PAGE

Have you visited our parish Facebook page lately? This week I posted a video of Assyrian Orthodox Christians chanting the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic. Aramaic is the language that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Family, the twelve Apostles and the earliest Christians spoke. These Assyrian Orthodox Christians did not take a class to learn this ancient language. It is their native language, an ancient language still spoken by them!

The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in the world. It is the original Church. Aramaic and Greek are still the living languages of Orthodox Christians. You can go to the Holy Land and experience the Eucharistic Liturgy in Hebrew. The Middle East is still the heartland of Orthodox Christianity. The Orthodox Church is Catholic, universal, for all peoples of all races and nations, for all time. It is Eastern and Western in rites, it is Aramaic, Greek, Arabic, African, Slavonic, Latin, Celtic, and English (and more) in traditions, and it speaks every language known to man. An ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse Church with Christ alone as head, and united in an unchangeable Deposit of Faith.

The Orthodox Church is for everyone. The door is open and everyone is welcome. Don’t settle for anything less. Insist on the original. I hope that you will visit our parish Facebook page and hear the Lord’s Prayer sung in our Lord’s own language. If you haven’t yet “Liked” our Facebook page, please do so today. It will help us to spread our message. Check back often as the Facebook page is regularly updated. Here is the link:


IMPORTANT REMINDER

Remember, this week only, Sunday Matins will be at 9:00 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 9:30 AM, with our annual Summer Church Picnic at Halleck Park in Papillion immediately after the Liturgy. Next week we will return to our normal schedule.

Holy Cross is a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. Do be sure to invite your family and friends to church and to the Summer Church Picnic this Sunday. I hope to see you Sunday morning at 9:00 AM.

Wishing you every grace and blessing,

Father+

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

Thursday, September 8, 2016

HOLY CROSS UPDATE


Dear friends in Christ,

I am attaching for you a link to an article that I encourage you to read. It is titled, New Converts Flocking to Ancient Christian Church. It is about Fr. Richard Petranek who came to the Orthodox Church after 30 years as an Episcopal priest and his growing parish in west Houston, filled almost entirely with converts to the ancient faith. It is a wonderful story, very much like ours at Holy Cross parish, and is being repeated all across the country and around the world as Christians from traditions as different as the Amish to traditional Roman Catholicism, and everything in between, find their way home to the ancient and original Christian Church.

Today, 23% of all Orthodox Christians in America are converts, as are about a third of the clergy and 43% of the seminarians. They come from every Christian tradition, and from none. In our own Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) we have three bishops who are converts: one from Roman Catholicism and two from Anglicanism. Anglicans make up the single largest group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and there are hundreds of Orthodox priests are who are former Anglicans. This tremendous growth is being seen all around the world. 

In the Western Rite we have the fullness of the Apostolic Faith, while preserving our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church is Catholic, meaning that she is both Eastern and Western, and is the Church for all peoples of all races, nations and ethnic groups on earth. If you want to be where the Holy Spirit is at work and the Church is on the move, you need to be a part of the 2,000 year-old Orthodox Catholic Church. Everyone is always welcome, and we have a place for you. Come and see! 

Here is a link to the article:


SUMMER CHURCH PICNIC

Please mark your calendar for Sunday, September 25th, for our annual Summer Church Picnic at Halleck Park in Papillion. As in previous years we have reserved a covered pavilion and the picnic will begin immediately after the Sunday Liturgy. This is a free event so invite your family and friends. Everyone always has a wonderful time and there is always plenty of good food.  

CHRISTIAN ED RESUMES THIS SUNDAY

Christian Education classes for all ages will resume this coming Sunday morning at 8:45 AM. The adult class will be taught by Michael D. Michael is an excellent and very popular teacher at Holy Cross. He will be  teaching from the book, Welcome to the Orthodox Church - An Introduction to Eastern Christianity, by Frederica Mathewes-Green.

Welcome to the Orthodox Church - An Introduction to Eastern Christianity contains 24 chapters. Michael’s class will last for 24 weeks and he will be covering a chapter per week. No one is required to purchase the book, but I recommend that you do so if you can. If you own the book and read each chapter in the week leading up to the class you will get even more from the class, but whether or not you obtain a copy of the text book, please come to the class. You will learn a lot from it.

This is the class to bring your inquiring or questioning family members and friends to. I am really looking forward to it. I have read the book, so I know that you will enjoy reading it and will learn a lot from it, and Michael is an excellent teacher who always comes to class well prepared.

Philip Jenkins of Baylor University writes, “Plenty of books deal with Christian theology in weighty and abstruse ways, but few apply the theology so wholly to the everyday lived realities of life, and in such easily accessible prose, as does Welcome to the Orthodox Church. Take warning, though: if you do read this thoughtful, passionate book, you run the risk of having to take the claims of Orthodox Christianity very seriously indeed."

Patty Joanna Rebne writes, “In the beginning of the book, Frederica tells us what her husband, an Orthodox priest, writes on the whiteboard when he starts a catechism class:

‘What you will not learn in this class: Orthodoxy.
What you will learn in this class: About Orthodoxy.’
Frederica holds to this truth in her book. You will learn a lot about Orthodoxy in this book. But becoming Orthodox is experiential. Knowing Christ is experiential, relational. It’s not a head-game; it’s not about what you know. Without denigrating dogma, Frederica does the most important thing: she uses the words of Christ to call us to Christ – ‘Come and See.’
Come and read…you will be glad you did. But don’t stop there. Come and see.”

You can purchase Welcome to the Orthodox Church - An Introduction to Eastern Christianity, by Frederica Mathewes-Green, from Ancient Faith for $19.99. Here is the link:


Or you can purchase it from Amazon for $16.99. Here is the link:


Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 11th, and plan to attend. Believe me, you will be glad that you took this class!

REMEMBER THOSE MOST IN NEED

As always, please be sure to remember those most in need and bring a donation of food with you on Sunday for our parish food bins. The needs are great and the Open Door Mission and Lydia House need our help. Thank you!

SUNDAY SERVICES

Sunday Christian Education for all ages is at 8:45 AM, followed by Matins at 9:15 AM, with the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall follow the Liturgy.

Holy Cross Orthodox Church is a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish and we have a place for you. Everyone is always welcome so invite your family and friends. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

blessings,

Father+

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

950th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS AND THE DEATH OF THE ROYAL PASSION-BEARER KING HAROLD GODWINESSON AND THOSE WITH HIM


In a time when most Western Christians, including Anglicans and Roman Catholics, have forgotten their heritage, the Orthodox Church still remembers and venerates its ancient Western patrimony. 

On October 27th, a Pilgrimage to the village of Whatlington, near the town of Battle in East Sussex, England, will be held by the Russian Orthodox Church in honor of the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, in which the English King and thousands of soldiers perished defending Orthodox England from the Norman invaders. The Pilgrimage will take place at 11:00 AM at the church of the St. Mary Magdalene, about three miles north of the battlefield. Whatlington was a royal manor in which King Harold stopped to pray on his way to the battle. The Pilgrimage includes a memorial prayer service, a luncheon, and a short talk on the battle and its aftermath, with a meeting of the Guild of St. Eadmund to follow.

Here is a link to an article about the Pilgrimage from the Russian Orthodox News Site Pravoslavie:


In 1054, when the Roman Patriarchate fell away from the Orthodox Church the English Church remained Orthodox. The Norman Invasion was proclaimed as a crusade to bring an erring English Church back under Rome. Thousands died in the conquest, including the Royal Passion-bearer King Harold Godwinesson. William, the Duke of Normandy, usurped the English throne, and all but one of the English bishops were imprisoned by the Normans and replaced with Norman usurpers. The Church was forced into submission to Rome. Members of the English royal family actually fled to Russia and married into the Russian royal family.

The goal of the English Reformation which began in 1534, was to restore the Faith and Order of the “undivided” Church. That goal was advanced by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century, the Oxford Movement of the 19th century, and the St. Louis Church Congress and the continuing Anglican Movement of the 20th century, and has taken traditional Anglicans to the very door of the Orthodox Church.

When traditional Anglicans and other Western Christians step through that door and become Orthodox Christians they are not “joining a new Church” but instead are returning home to the Church from which their forbearers were torn away by the Roman Schism of 1054, and the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Today, Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church. In America alone there are hundreds of Orthodox priests who are former Anglicans. In our own Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia two of our bishops are former Anglicans. When I am asked, “Where have all of the traditional Anglicans gone?” My answer is always the same: To the Orthodox Church!

There are now Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and on the continent of Europe, and our numbers are growing. Our Dean, Fr. Mark Rowe, is a former Anglican priest and Archdeacon. 

As a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia we have preserved our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church firmly holds to the Faith and Order of the “undivided” Church because the Orthodox Catholic Church is the undivided Church. We love being Orthodox. Everyone is welcome. We have a place for you. Come and join us!

SUNDAY SCHEDULE

Christian Education 8:45 AM
Matins 9:15 AM
Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist 10:00 AM
Fellowship and Refreshments after the Liturgy

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