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.
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. I hope to see you on Sunday!