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.
This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent. Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas, and begins with the Sunday closest to St. Andrew’s Day.
Advent means “Coming” in Latin. There are two meanings of “coming” that Christians think about in Advent. The first, and most commonly thought of, happened some 2000 years ago when Jesus was born of Mary. The second and primary meaning is the coming that will take place in the future when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back to the world as King and Judge, to usher in the Kingdom of God in its fullness.
Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ as King and Judge. The liturgical colour is royal purple, the Advent Wreath is lit, in the English Liturgy the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) is added while the Gloria in Excelsis is omitted. Traditionally there are four themes in our preparation for the Return of the King: Death, Judgement, Hell and Heaven. Advent is a time for repentance (changing direction) and deeper conversion.
Advent is also the beginning of the Church Year in the Western Rite. That makes it a time for new beginnings. If you, a family member, or a friend, have not been attending church, have not been coming to church regularly, have not worshipped at Holy Cross parish for a while, or have never visited, there is no better time to make a new beginning than in Advent. I hope that you will accept my personal invitation to join us this Sunday and that you will invite your family and friends. The Christian life is the Good Life, and the Orthodox Catholic Church welcomes everyone!
CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS
A Midnight Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be held Friday night, January 6th, at Midnight. January 7th on the civil calendar is December 25th on the ancient Christian (Julian) Calendar that all Christians used until late in the 16th century and many millions of Christians continue to use. A Christmas party in the parish hall will follow the Liturgy. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us for this ancient Western Orthodox Christmas tradition. Invite your family and friends. They will be blessed. O Come all ye faithful!
SOCK, GLOVE AND MITTEN DRIVE
Our parish Women’s group, the Sisters of Holy Cross, is sponsoring a Sock, Glove and Mitten Drive during the first two weeks of Advent. This drive is to collect these much needed clothing items for the Salvation Army. Every night Salvation Army volunteers go out into the streets in an effort to help the homeless shivering in the cold. The Salvation Army provides them with food, a warm drink, and tries to help with clean socks, gloves and mittens.
This Sunday you will find a special box in our parish hall for donations of new socks, gloves and mittens. Matushka and I have already been shopping in support of this important cause. I hope that you will join us in providing those most in need with these basic items that we all take for granted. Let’s do all the good we can for all the people we can. Thank you!
PARISH FOOD BINS
Paul N. delivered our latest donation of food from our parish Food Bins to the Open Door Mission last week. Our latest donation totaled 273 pounds of much needed food. A big thank you to everyone who contributed!
With the coming of winter the need for food at the Open Door Mission always increases. We need to begin refilling our parish food bins right away so as to help meet this need. Please bring a donation of food with you on Sunday. Thank you!
Our weekly deliveries of donated gourmet bread to the Francis and Siena House Shelters continues. Each year Holy Cross parishioners delivery thousands of dollars worth of donated bread to these shelters. Pick ups are made every Thursday evening, with deliveries made on Friday. In addition, another delivery is made one Saturday per month. We have been making these deliveries for some years now and the dedicated parishioners who carry out this work week after week, month after month and year after year are the often unnoticed heros of our parish. Please join me in offering a big Thank You to Coordinator Paul N. and his dedicated team!
THE CONVERSION OF RUSSIA
Many Christians in the West are still praying for the Conversion of Russia, but they are way behind the times. Rather than praying for the Conversion of Russia, Western Christians should be offering thanksgiving for the Conversion of Russia and praying for the Conversion of post-Christian Western Europe and North America.
With the fall of Soviet Communism more than a quarter of a century ago a great spiritual revival began in Russia. Since the end of Soviet Communism the Orthodox Church in Russia has opened three churches per day, each and every day. When I am speaking of churches I do not mean a handful of people meeting in someones home, but real brick and mortar church buildings. In addition, some 800 monasteries have been opened, as have dozens of seminaries and theological schools, as well as large numbers of private church schools. Christian Education is even being taught in the public schools!
In just over a quarter of a century the Russian Orthodox Church has gone from a marginalized and persecuted minority with millions of martyrs, to a Church of more than 162 million members world-wide; and this revival has spread to all of the traditionally Orthodox countries of Eastern Europe that had suffered behind the Iron Curtain, and is spreading all around the globe to every continent on earth. Russia has indeed been converted and the Orthodox Church is experiencing a New Pentecost.
And Now a “Gigantic, Super-Ornate New Church Built By Monks To Open Soon Next To KGB in Moscow. An enormous new church has been built in record-breaking time in central Moscow a few blocks from the historic [former] KGB headquarters on Lyubanka Square. The church commemorates Christian victims of the revolution and subsequent persecution.” You can read all about it and see the incredible photographs here:
The kind of growth the Russian Orthodox Church is experiencing is unprecedented in history, and has never been equalled even in the era of the early Church. The Apostles turned the world up-side-down and with this New Pentecost it is happening again - and we are part of it!
Come and join this incredible move of the Holy Spirit, and us in our work of re-evangelizing the post-Christian West. The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone!
Are you following our parish Facebook page? You should be. It is updated every week and often two or three times per week. I encourage you to become a follower of our Facebook page. PLEASE go to the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page and “Like” the page (not just an individual article). Doing something as simple as this will help us to advance the Work of the Great Commission. Please do it now. Here is the link:
ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
This Sunday we will begin a series of adult Christian Education classes on the theme of Advent and Christmas. The classes will be taught by Ben J. Ben is a popular teacher at Holy Cross and with a Master’s in History he knows his material well. After all, properly understood, History is “His story” - the story of God’s work in the world. Class begins at 8:45 AM this coming Sunday and will run through Nativity. I hope that you will join me for this fun and informative class. You will be blessed!
Sunday Christian Education 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 is a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. Everyone is invited. I hope to see you on Sunday!
Fr. Victor Novak
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127