Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE HOLY FIRE - Arriving at Holy Cross Parish Tomorrow (Sunday, May 28)!


Dear friends in Christ,

WONDERFUL NEWS!!!

The miraculous Holy Fire from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem will arrive at Holy Cross parish tomorrow, Sunday, May 28!!!

You can bring a candle or candles will be available for you to take the Holy Fire home with you if you would like. You can use it to light the lampadas or votive candles before your icons at home.

THE HOLY FIRE - Arriving at Holy Cross Parish Tomorrow!

The Holy Fire will arrive at Holy Cross parish tomorrow morning. Invite family and friends to Matins and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. A festive Potluck Luncheon will follow in our parish hall. The Holy Fire can be taken home by everyone who would like to have this Holy Light burning in the lampadas or candles before their icons. Just bring a candle to church, or use a candle provided at church.

You have often heard me speak of the miracle of the Holy Fire that comes down from heaven every year at Pascha (Easter). This miracle has taken place year after year since the first century.

The Holy Fire descends from God into the Holy Sepulchre - the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem - where candles held by the Patriarch of Jerusalem spontaneously ignite. Lampadas in the church and candles held by some of the faithful often do likewise. The Patriarch leaves the tomb with the Holy Fire and passes it on to the masses of faithful gathered in and around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Initially the Holy Fire is cool to the touch and the faithful bathe their hands and faces in the flame. Every Pascha I post photos of the faithful in jerusalem bathing their hands and faces in the miraculous flame. Later the Holy Fire becomes hot like any other flame. For the first time in history the Holy Frire has been brought to the United States from Jerusalem at the initiative of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and it will arrive at our parish tomorrow. Tell you family and friends. Invite everyone!

Here are some articles on the Holy Fire:

HOLY FIRE HAS DESCENDED IN CHURCH OF HOLY SEPULCHRE 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


TEMPERATURE OF HOLY FIRE AROUND 40°C IN FIRST FEW MINUTES


UPDATED: HOLY FIRE TO BE DELIVERED TO AMERICA FOR FIRST TIME


POTLUCK LUNCHEON

Tomorrow, Sunday May 28th, is our monthly Potluck Luncheon. Members of our Church family are asked to bring a main dish, or a side dish and desert. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing. With the Holy fire arriving at our parish tomorrow we may have more visitors so members of our church family are asked to prepare extra food. Thank you!

SUNDAY SERVICES

Sunday Matins is at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with a festive Potluck Luncheon immediately after the Liturgy. The Holy Fire will be available for the faithful to take home.

Tomorrow will be a wonderful day in the life of our parish so please invite family and friends. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. Everyone is always welcome. 

See you in the morning!

blessings,

Father+

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

HOLY CROSS PARISH AND WESTERN RITE ORTHODOXY


HOLY CROSS PARISH 

Who We Are

Holy Cross Orthodox Church is a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). As a Western Rite parish we are in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church while preserving our Western cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony. Our bishop is Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and Ruling Bishop of the Western Rite Communities.

Holy Cross is a parish in the English and Celtic tradition. We use the English Liturgy, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Tikhon in honour of the Saint who made its use possible, and often affectionately described as “our incomparable English Liturgy.” 

We use Gregorian chant and sing the great hymns of the Church in our Services, and all of our music is sung a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) as it was in the ancient Church. Our clergy wear traditional Western vestments and our priest celebrates ad orientem (facing the altar). We are fully Orthodox in Faith, and Western in culture and worship. 

We celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, commonly called the Divine Liturgy or Holy Mass, every Sunday at 10:00 AM, with fellowship and refreshments after the Liturgy and a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of the month. Sunday Matins (Morning Prayer) is at 9:15 AM. Holy Day and week day Services are as announced. The Sacrament of Confession is available during the Psalms and Canticles at Sunday Matins, at other times as scheduled, and by appointment.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “Western Rite? Isn’t Orthodoxy Eastern? What do you mean by Western Rite?”

The Western Rite Within Orthodoxy

Throughout the first millennium of Christian history the Western rites existed within the Orthodox Church side by side with the Eastern rites. Even after the Great Schism of AD 1054, England remained Orthodox until the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Norman Invasion was seen as a crusade to restore the English Church to Rome. After conquering England, the Normans imprisoned and replaced all but one of the English bishops with Normans and forced the Church into submission to Rome.

Western Rite Christians also continued in full communion with the Orthodox Church in Constantinople and other Eastern cities until they were finally absorbed into the Eastern Rite sometime in the thirteenth century. A Benedictine monastery, Amalfion, existed on Mount Athos until 1287, surviving the Great Schism of 1054, the Roman Catholic conquest of Mount Athos in 1204, and the Roman Catholic retreat from Mount Athos in 1261. Not only was there a Western Rite monastery on the Holy Mountain, but Amalfion was one of the ruling monasteries there.

A vast number of Orthodox Saints, including many Holy Fathers of the Church, were spiritually nurtured by the Western rites. The Western Church produced such great spiritual luminaries as Saints Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Tours, Benedict of Nursia, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great (the Dialogist), Patrick of Ireland, Bede the Venerable, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo.

With the closing of Amalfion, the Benedictine monastery on Mount Athos in 1287 (getting vocations from the post-Schism West was very difficult), the use of the Western Rite, which had been celebrated on the Holy Mountain for more than 300 years, and in the Orthodox Church for nearly thirteen centuries, came to a temporary end, leaving the Church essentially Eastern.

The English Reformation

The English Reformation which began in 1534, was different from the Reformation on the continent of Europe. No new Church was formed. The Reformation in England was conducted by the bishops themselves with the goal of restoring the Faith and Order of the undivided Church. 

The work of reform and restoration in the English Church was continued by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century, the Non-Jurors of the 18th century, the Oxford Movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and finally by the Continuing Anglican Movement in the latter part of the 20th and early 21st centuries, until many traditional Anglicans found themselves at the very door of the Church from which their forbearers in the Faith had been torn away against their will by force of arms in 1066.

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) wrote, “This [Anglican] appeal to antiquity has led many Anglicans to look with sympathy and interest at the Orthodox Church, and equally it has led many Orthodox to look with interest and sympathy to Anglicanism... firm bonds of Anglo-Orthodox solidarity were established by the end of the nineteenth century” (The Orthodox Church, by Kallistos (Timothy) Ware, Penguin, c. 1993, p. 318). 

Western Orthodox Rebirth

With the declaration of Papal Infallibility by the First Vatican Council in 1870, many concerned Roman Catholics began to rethink their Faith and to call themselves Old Catholics, rejecting what they considered to be a new Faith introduced by the Council. Some of these Old Catholics turned their eyes to the East, to the unchanging Orthodox Catholic Church.

In the wake of the First Vatican Council, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church authorized the use of a corrected Roman Rite by Roman Catholics who were returning to the Orthodox Church. In the United States, the restoration of the Western Rite began in 1891, when Bishop Vladimir (Sokolovsky), the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Alaska, formally received a parish of Swiss Old Catholics at Dykesville, near Fon du Lac, Wisconsin. In 1898, a Western Rite Diocese of Moravia and Silesia was organized in Europe by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1904, Archbishop Tikhon (Belavin) and Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny), assisted by Fr. John Kochuroff - all three of whom would later be canonized as Saints - petitioned the Holy Synod of Russia to permit the adaptation of the Services of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer for use by Orthodox Christians in the West. In 1907, a Commission appointed by the Holy Synod of Russia reported in favor of a theologically corrected adaptation of the Book of Common Prayer for use by Western converts, and set out the criteria for adaptation. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted the report. 

A good beginning was made at restoring the Western Rite, but the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the brutal persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, along with the destruction and carnage of two World Wars, made the development of this work very difficult and it progressed very slowly. Yet, despite the difficulties, Western Rite congregations and monastic communities were established in both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

In 1958, the Patriarchate of Antioch adopted the provisions of the Russian Holy Synod and authorized the restoration of the Western Rite; and in 1961, the Western Rite Vicariate was erected with Archpriest Alexander Turner as Vicar General.

Beginning in the 1970s, a growing number of Orthodox-minded Anglicans began to see that due to the doctrinal and moral changes in their Church their dream of corporate reunion between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches was becoming impossible. Many Anglicans began to enter the Orthodox Church and there are now English Use Western Rite Orthodox parishes and monastic communities in addition to those using the Roman Rite. 

A New Pentecost

Today there are Western Rite congregations and monastic communities in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), as well as the Antiochian, Romanian and Serbian Churches, with the Western Rite of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia being the largest, most widespread and fastest growing. Anglicans now make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and there are hundreds of Orthodox clergy who are former Anglicans. Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants also make up large bodies of converts and have given the Church many clergy. 

The Orthodox Church is growing so rapidly that 23% of all Orthodox Christians — roughly one in four — in the United States are converts, as are 30% of the clergy and 43% of the seminarians. Converts are pouring into both the Eastern and Western rites of the Church. In the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia alone there are three bishops who are converts: two from Anglicanism and one from Roman Catholicism.

The fall of Soviet Communism and the freeing of the Orthodox Church in Russia and throughout Eastern Europe has led to an Orthodox renaissance and resurgence that can only be described as a New Pentecost giving birth to a New Springtime for the Church. Since the fall of Soviet Communism the Russian Orthodox Church has gone from a persecuted remnant to dynamic and rapidly growing Church. The blood of the millions of Holy New Martyrs of Russia has become the seed of the Church and their intercession the catalyst for a tremendous world-wide revival.

For more than a quarter of a century now the Russian Orthodox Church has opened three brick and mortar churches a day, each and every day in the former Soviet Union, and there is no slowdown in sight. In addition, more than eight hundred monasteries have been opened, along with universities, seminaries, satellite television networks, medical ministries, homeless shelters and orphanages, along with countless parochial schools and other ministries. One hundred and forty-million of the one hundred and sixty-four million members of the Russian Orthodox Church have been baptized or received into the Church in the last thirty years. History has never witnessed a revival like we are seeing today!

In his farewell address as Archbishop of North America, St. Tikhon of Moscow (1865-1925) said, “The light of Orthodoxy is not lit for a small circle of people. No, the Orthodox Faith is Catholic; it is a commandment of its founder, ‘Go into all the world...’ (Mark 16:15). It is our obligation, therefore to share our spiritual treasurer, our truth, our light, and our joy with those who do not have these gifts...”

The Book of Acts records that a great persecution broke out in Jerusalem, scattering the disciples who then began to carry the Gospel to the world. History (His story) repeated itself with the Bolshevik persecution of the Church in Holy Russia. St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai and San Francisco, himself an exile, has said: 

“God allowed the Russian Revolution to take place in order that the Russian Church might become purged and purified and that the Orthodox Church might be disseminated across the whole world.... The Church is one, but each nation has its own calling within that oneness.” 

The Orthodox Church continues to advance the Work of the great Commission which Christ gave to his Church at his Ascension, and which received power from on High to fulfill its mission ten days later on Pentecost. St. John of San Francisco said, “The Risen Christ sent the Apostles to preach to all nations. The Church of Christ was not founded for just one people, for any particular country; all nations are called to the Faith of the True God.”

And what of the Western Rite? Again, St. John of San Francisco says, “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...”

The worldwide Orthodox renaissance, revival and resurgence that began more than a quarter of a century ago with the fall of Soviet Communism continues to grow and spread. The Western Rite has been restored to the Orthodox Catholic Church, the post-Christian West is beginning to be re-evangelized and the Western Church rebuilt. Large numbers of Western Christians are returning home to the Church of their Fathers where they are receiving a warm welcome. This is a tremendous move of the move of the Holy Spirit. At Holy Cross parish we are part of it, and you can be too.

The Orthodox Church is the same as she was in the first millennium. Christian Truth does not change, and neither does the Church Christ founded. Our Lord promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, and that he would be with her until the end of the age, at which time he would return for her and usher in the Kingdom of God in its fullness. 

Jesus Christ is the Truth Revealed. Orthodox Christianity is the Truth Lived. We love being Orthodox. You will too. Come and see. Everyone is welcome. Holy Cross parish is a faithful, friendly, vibrant and growing church and we have a place for you!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

PASCHAL-TIDE NEWS


Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

PASCHAL JOY

I have posted a short video on our parish Facebook page recording the miraculous arrival of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Spepulchre this year. The Paschal joy in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem that you will experience in this video is inspiring and contagious. Orthodox Christianity is a religion of Faith, Hope and Joy!

Here is the link to the video on our parish Facebook page:


ISRAELI ARAB CHRISTIAN REPORTER EXPLAINS THE EASTER STORY TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE

I have also posted a video on the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page of an Israeli Arab Christian reporter for Israeli Public Television explaining the Easter story to the Jewish people in Hebrew. Her name is Lucy Ayoub. She is clear and concise, enthusiastic, engaging and evangelistic.

The video has had almost 200,000 views, over 1,000 shares and over 3,000 reactions so far. The majority of the reactions are “likes” with almost 200 “loves” and a few dozen “angry.”

I encourage you to share it with your Jewish friends and with all those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The video is in Hebrew, but with English subtitles. Lucy Ayoub does a great job! Her enthusiasm is contagious. We could all learn from her. 

Again, here is the link to our parish Facebook page:


If you are not already a follower of our Holy Cross Parish Facebook page, I hope that you will "Like" the page and begin following it today. Important, informative and inspiring material is posted there regularly.

WHAT DO WE BELIEVE?

What do we believe in as Orthodox Christians? It is more proper to ask: “In whom do we put our trust?” “Believe” is a very vague word. Often it means little more holding a personal opinion. But our Orthodox Catholic Faith is not an opinion, not one of many possible views. It is an affirmation of what, and really Who, ultimate reality is. The One we trust in is alive, dependable, trustworthy, and eternal, as is the One Church He founded. The tomb in Jerusalem is empty. That is a fact of history, not an opinion. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! And because He is Risen, our lives can make sense and can be full. We know where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going. God is good and He loves each of us as though there were only one of us. That is the Good News that we can build our lives on. Christ is Risen, our joy!

PASCHAL GREETINGS FROM ST. PETERSBURG

In this short (less than two minute) video, students from around the world at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia share Paschal greetings with us. You’ll see students from Russia, China, Laos, Cyprus, Sweden, America, and many more countries greeting us with “Christ is Risen!” in their own native languages:


CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Konrad and Jamie K. who were baptized into Christ at the Easter Vigil this week. Welcome to the family. May God grant the newly illumined Many Years!

BAPTISM

This coming Sunday, April 23rd, the Octave Day of Holy Pascha, the newborn son of parishioners Weston and Hannah F., will be baptized into Christ at Holy Cross parish. Come and share in the joy of this blessed event.

RECEPTION OF A CATECHUMEN

Jennifer J. will be received into the catechumenate on Sunday, April 23rd, and will begin her journey to full communion with the Orthodox Church. Jenny comes to us from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Welcome home Jenny!

ORDINATION

On Wednesday, April 26th, Reader Kevin and I will board a plane for Sarasota, Florida, where, God willing, he will be ordained to the diaconate at St. Joseph’s Orthodox Church by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) on the morning of Friday, April 28th.

Beginning Sunday, April 30th, we will be celebrating the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist with the assistance of a deacon, subdeacon and acolyte. With the ordination of a deacon, the ministry and work of Holy Cross parish will take another important step forward. 

A potluck luncheon will follow Holy Mass on Sunday, April 30th, in honour of the ordination of Reader Kevin to the diaconate. Do invite family and friends to attend this important event in the life of our parish. It is not every day that a parish gets a new deacon. To God be the glory!

WEDDING

On Friday, May 5th, Xanth W. and Laura E. will be joined in Holy Matrimony. The members and friends of Holy Cross parish are invited to the Wedding and the Reception that will follow. Details are posted on the bulletin board in the parish hall. 

SUNDAY SERVICES

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. Visitors are always welcome! 

Holy Cross is a Western Rite Orthodox parish in the English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual tradition, and is in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish and we have a place for you. 

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Jesus Christ is the Truth Revealed. Orthodox Christianity is the Truth Lived! Come and share the joy. Everyone is welcome. We love being Orthodox. Come and see why. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

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 8, 2017

HOLY WEEK SERVICE SCHEDULE

HOLY WEEK SERVICE SCHEDULE

Palm Sunday, April 9

Matins                                                                                                                  9:15 AM
Liturgy of the Palms and Holy Mass                                                              10:00 AM
Fellowship and Refreshments after the Liturgy

Maundy Thursday, April 13

Mass of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist                                                6:30 PM
Procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the Place of Repose 
Stripping and Washing of the Altar
Vespers

Good Friday, April 14

Matins and the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified  10:00 AM

The Way of the Cross Noon

Vespers (at the Bier) and the Litany                                                              6:30 PM

Holy Saturday/Easter Even, Saturday Night April 15

The Paschal Vigil with Baptisms 11:00 PM
Mass of the Resurrection Midnight
Distribution of Red Easter Eggs


Confessions

The Sacrament of Confession will be administered during the Psalms and Canticles at Matins on Palm Sunday; from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Maundy Thursday; and immediately after The Way of the Cross on Good Friday.

+ + +

Please try to clear your schedule so you can attend all or at least as many of these Holy Week Services as you can. Holy Week is the holiest week of the Church Year and Holy Pascha, Easter Sunday, is the Feast of Feasts. Do be sure to invite family and friends to join us for Holy Week and to celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you!

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

WESTERN ORTHODOXY

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” - St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco.

“SISTINE CHAPEL OF THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES” BURIED BY AN EARTHQUAKE FOR A MILLENNIUM REOPENS

A 1,500-year-old church in the city of Rome which was buried under debris from an earthquake for more than a millennium has reopened to the public after a painstaking restoration of some of the world’s earliest Christian art.

The sixth-century church of Santa Maria Antiqua is located in the ancient Roman Forum, at the bottom of the Palatine Hill, where Roman Emperors lived for centuries. It was buried under rubble by an earthquake in AD 847.

“This church is the Sistine Chapel of the early Middle Ages," Maria Andaloro, an art historian involved in the project, told Reuters. Being buried by the earthquake saved the church from being altered in later centuries, particularly during the Counter-Reformation, said Professor Andaloro.

The main frescoes, decorating the walls of the central nave and sanctuary, were painted under Pope Martin I, who was Bishop of Rome from AD 649 to 655. Further frescoes were ordered to be painted by Pope John VII (705 to 707).

The photos of the interior of this ancient Roman church are a MUST SEE. The interior of the church looks much like Holy Cross, only on a much, much grander scale. There are none of the paintings and statuary that we see in Roman Catholic churches (both  pre and post-Vatican II), because such artwork is not ancient at all, was never used in the “undivided” Church, and only dates back to the Renaissance and Counter Reformation. 

The iconography that you see on the walls of Holy Cross parish is not “Eastern,” but was used everywhere, both East and West, in the ancient Church, and remains unchanged in the Orthodox Church to this very day. You will see the same kind of iconography in this important ancient Roman church.

In the photos you will see a large icon of the Crucifixion over where the altar was. We too have an icon of the Crucifixion above our altar. In the photos of the church you will see icons of the Saints covering the walls, just as we have on our walls at Holy Cross parish, only the church of Santa Maria Antiqua has many, many more. 

This is what all Orthodox Catholic churches looked like. There were no life-like paintings and statuary like we see in the West today. Instead, the churches were adorned with iconography. Iconography is not “Eastern.” It is, Catholic, Universal. Iconography is not mere religious art. There is a big difference. Icons are “windows into heaven” through which we see the Saints as they are now, transfigured by the grace of God.

The sixth-century church of Santa Maria Antiqua located in the ancient Roman Forum in the city of Rome is an Orthodox church. Popes Martin I, and John VII, were Orthodox popes. The Patriarchate of Rome was an Orthodox Church until 1054, when it unilaterally changed the Nicene Creed and fell away into schism, setting the stage for the Protestant Revolution of the 16th century and what has been called “the French Revolution in the Church” in the wake of Vatican II. 

Today, the Western Rite has been restored in the Orthodox Catholic Church, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and it is again possible to be an Orthodox Catholic while preserving our Western cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony. We are the ancient, contemporary, and future Church. We are the unchanging Church established by Christ himself. “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.” The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone. Tell your friends!  

Here is the link to this eye-opening article about the sixth-century church of Santa Maria Antiqua from the London telegraph:


WHAT ABOUT ENGLAND?

At the time of the Papal schism in 1054, the Church in the British Isles (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) remained Orthodox. This led to the Norman Invasion and Conquest in 1066, which was launched to bring Orthodox England under papal authority.

The ancient churches in England looked like Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome. Lot’s of iconography like we have at Holy Cross parish, but no pictures or statuary. 

St. Mary’s Chapel in the palace of Westminster is a Royal Peculiar and is the chapel for the members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This chapel dates from the 13th century and, although it is post-Norman Conquest, it was built in the ancient style. I am attaching for you a link to a photograph of St. Mary’s Chapel, along with a short article about it.

This 13th century undercroft chapel is, in a word, ornate. From the patterned tile floor to the stained glass windows, and from the elaborately painted, vaulted ceilings and roof bosses to the polished, hanging lanterns, it is a visual feast. The first thing that will gain your attention is the row of beautiful icons on the wall behind the altar. Icons, but no paintings or statues. Painting and statuary are not ancient at all. They are Renaissance and Counter Reformation. You will also notice that there are no pews. Chairs now fill the nave, but anciently the naves of churches were open, with benches or chairs along the walls.

Like Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome, St. Mary’s Chapel in the palace of Westminster is much more like Holy Cross than it is like modern Roman Catholic (pre or post Vatican II), Episcopal or Protestant churches. I hope that you will view the picture of St. Mary’s Chapel. Here is the link:


ST. PATRICK’S DAY AND THE IRISH ORTHODOX CATHOLIC CHURCH

This week we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. “Didn’t we celebrate that day a couple of weeks ago?”, you may ask. St. Patrick lived his entire life on what is today commonly called the Old Calendar, as did all Christians everywhere until the late 16th century. Today, March 17th Old Style (March 30th on the New Calendar) is St. Patrick’s actual “heavenly birthday.”

In the secularized West where Santa has all but replaced the Christ-child, the Easter Bunny our Lord’s Resurrection, St. Valentine’s Day has lost all connection to the martyred priest St. Valentine, and St. Patrick’s Day is about green beer and leprechauns rather than the life and work of the Apostle to the Irish, we are truly blessed to be on the Old (actually the Original) Christian Calendar. We celebrate these holy days apart from the foolishness of the world.

All Christians everywhere used the same Calendar until the late 16th century when the pope of Rome made yet another change in the practice of his Church by imposing a New Calendar that further divided Christians. Great Britain and her American colonies continued to use the Old Calendar until the middle of the 18th century, and Anglicans were the last Western Christians to give it up.

For Orthodox Christians St.Patrick’s Day is a holy day, not a holiday. A day for thanksgiving, prayer and reflection. 

I am attaching for you a wonderful article about the early Irish Church. It is titled, "A Brief History of the Irish Orthodox Church." It will both enlighten your understanding and bless your soul. I hope you will read it. Here is the link:


Holy Cross parish is one of a rapidly growing number of Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities. As a Western Rite 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.

But the Orthodox Church does not limit itself to restoring the English and Celtic spiritual tradition alone. While we use the historic English Liturgy, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, there are also those who use the historic Roman Rite, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great, and some who use the ancient French (Gallican) Rite of St. Germanus of Paris.

The Western Rite Communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is already larger than some dioceses, and continues to grow and grow. There are also Western Rite communities in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and in Europe in the Serbian and Romanian Churches.

Everyone is invited to return to the Faith and Order of what is commonly called the “undivided” Church of the first millennium. The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone — clergy and laity, individuals, congregations and religious communities. The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and the post-Christian West is beginning to be re-evangelized. This is the dawn of a New Springtime for the Church, and there is a place for everyone.

For more information please visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities:


You can find Western Rite liturgical resources here:


And you can read the latest issue of The Wonderworker, the official publication of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities here:


At Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Omaha, Nebraska we pray Sunday Matins 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. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we love being Orthodox! Come and see why.

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

FORMER ANGLICAN BISHOP SAM SEAMANS ORDAINED ORTHODOX PRIEST

Former Anglican Bishop Samuel Seamans was ordained to the Orthodox priesthood last week by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch (primate) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), for service in the Western Rite Communities. Ordinations by Metropolitan Hilarion last week included three priests, two deacons, and a number of readers.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is part of the Patriarchate of Moscow. More than 160 million of the 300 million members of the Orthodox Church are under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Today there are Western Rite congregations and monastic communities in the Russian, Romanian, Serbian and Antiochian Churches.

Fr. Samuel Seamans had been a bishop in the Diocese of Mid-America, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He and his congregation, the parish of St. Thomas in Mountain Home, Arkansas had been received into the Orthodox Church together. Two deacons were ordained with Fr. Samuel for service at St. Thomas Orthodox Church. A third man is preparing for ordination to the diaconate. St. Thomas is a Western Rite Orthodox parish and is one of a rapidly growing number of Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities in America and the Western world.

Fr. Samuel Seamans is the second Anglican bishop that I have served with that has entered the Orthodox Church with his parish and is now serving as a Western Rite Orthodox priest. For more information on St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas you can visit their website:


Today Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church and are found in both the Eastern and Western rites. Archpriest Josiah Trenham, himself a former Anglican (REC) priest, 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” (Rock and Sand, An Orthodox Appraisal of the Protestant Reformers and Their Teachings, by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Newrome Press, c. 2015, p.193).

Some Christians have the erroneous idea that the Orthodox Church does not evangelize or is not welcoming, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The Orthodox Church is growing rapidly and expanding throughout the world. In America alone, 23% of all Orthodox Christians are converts, as are 30% of all Orthodox clergy and 43% of seminarians. The percentage of foreign born Orthodox Christians in the United States is no higher than the percentage of foreign born in America as a whole. In ROCOR, three of our bishops are converts: two from Anglicanism and one from Roman Catholicism. Converts and convert clergy are everywhere, and have risen to the highest levels of the Church.

The ROCOR Western Rite Communities function much like a diocese with Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch, as our bishop. Our Dean, Fr. Mark Rowe, is a former Anglican Archdeacon and is providing inspired leadership. I have seldom known such a hard worker or more dedicated leader. We have our own Western Rite Advisory Board, Spiritual Court, and Administrative Council. Western Rite clergy meet every year in a Western Rite Clergy Conference that brings together clergy from America and abroad. 

Clergy, laity, congregations both small and large, and monastic communities seeking entrance into the Orthodox Church are welcomed with love and dignity. The Orthodox Church wants everyone to come home, and welcomes everyone. If anyone has any doubts about the welcome they will receive or the dignity with which they will be treated during the reception process, they need only contact me or Fr. Samuel Seamans. We have both gone through the process and can put your mind at ease. The door to the Church is wide open, the welcome mat is out and the lights are on. You will be received with open arms.

For more information I encourage you to visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities:


As a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia we have preserved the fullness of our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony and heritage in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. We are treated no differently than an Eastern Rite congregation. At Holy Cross, we even had an Episcopal Visit from Metropolitan Hilarion  a man with world-wide responsibilities — in August of 2015.

Reunion with the Orthodox Church is no longer a dream or something to be worked toward. It is a reality. You can come home right now. To remain separate when unity is possible is to needlessly perpetuate schism and to set up altar against altar. As our Lord warned, “he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Luke 11:23). 

The one requirement is unity in the Faith. There is no comprehensiveness in Orthodoxy. The fullness of the Orthodox Catholic Faith must be accepted without addition or subtraction. As St. Mark of Ephesus has said, “There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.” For those who have been struggling against the assaults of liberal-modernism and the compromises of Western religious leaders this will be good news indeed!

The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and the post-Christian West re-evangelized. This is a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. Church history is being made, and you can have a part in it. The fields are ripe for the harvest, but the laborers are still too few. Come and join us. You will be glad you did!

Friday, February 24, 2017

QUINQUAGESIMA, SHROVE TUESDAY AND ASH WEDNESDAY AT HOLY CROSS PARISH


We have a number of important upcoming events at Holy Cross parish so please read this Update carefully and mark your calendars.

A TIME FOR NEW BEGINNINGS

Lent is a time for New Beginnings. You can make a new start in life, a new beginning in your walk with our Lord, a renewed commitment to Christ and to His Church, or a commitment to deeper conversion and more serious discipleship. Lent is indeed a blessed and holy season. All we need do is cooperate with the grace of God Who loves us and we will grow in the grace and knowledge of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Let us make good use of the Lenten season!

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26

This coming Sunday is Quinquagesima, the last Sunday in the three week Pre-Lenten Season. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Unction, will be administered during the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.

This Sunday is also our monthly Potluck Luncheon. As always, members of our church family are asked to bring a Main Dish, or a Side Dish and a Desert. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing. There is always plenty of good food and warm fellowship so please be sure to invite family and friends. The Christian Life is the Good Life at Holy Cross parish!

SHROVE TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28

This coming Tuesday, February 28th, is Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is the Day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the first day in Lent in the Western Rite. Shrove Tuesday comes from the word Shrive meaning Confess. 

Aelfric of Eynsham’s "Ecclesiastical Institutes" of about A.D. 1000 says: "In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do."

Thanks to the good work of our St. Joseph’s Guild, this year we will observe the Shrove Tuesday tradition of the ringing of the church bells (on this day, the toll is known as the Shriving Bell) to call the faithful to confession before the solemn season of Lent. The Shriving Bell will be rung at 11:00 AM on Shrove Tuesday, and  Confessions will be heard from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Our annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper will be held Tuesday evening at 6:30 PM. If you volunteered to work that evening please be sure to arrive early so the food can be ready to serve at 6:30 PM. Even if you have not volunteered to help out volunteers are always welcome!

The Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper will be the last big and hearty meal before the Great Fast begins on the morning of Ash Wednesday. We will be serving pancakes, eggs, sausage and apple sauce. Pancakes are commonly eaten on this day as they symbolize the "four pillars of the Christian faith--eggs for creation, flour as the mainstay of the human diet, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity” (Pancake Day 2015, Ross Philip, International Business Times, February 17, 2015).

This is not a fund raiser and there is no cost to come and enjoy this beautiful tradition and delicious meal. Free will offerings will be accepted and will go to support the work of our parish sisterhood - the Sisters of Holy Cross. Do be sure to invite family and friends.

ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 6:30 PM

The Holy Season of Lent begins on Wednesday, March 1st. Ash Wednesday Services consisting of the Blessing and Imposition of Ashes, Vespers and the Litany will begin at 6:30 PM. It is very important that we begin Lent properly with prayer and by receiving ashes on the forehead as a sobering reminder of our own mortality, so please mark your calendars and rearrange your schedule so you can attend this important Service. As always, reach out to family and friends and invite them to join us for prayer on Ash Wednesday.

CONFESSIONS

Confessions are heard every Sunday during the Psalms and Canticles at Matins, and as scheduled, and by appointment. 

Sunday Matins

To make your confession at Matins just come forward during the singing of the Psalms  or Canticles and stand before the altar between the two communion rails. The priest will come to meet you. Just open your heart to God and speak quietly. No one will hear you while the Psalms or Canticles are being chanted.

Tuesday, February 28th

The Shriving Bell will be rung on Shrove Tuesday at 11:00 AM, and Confessions will be heard from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Wednesday, March 1st

Confessions will be heard on Ash Wednesday from 11:30 to 12:30 PM, and during the Psalms and Canticles at Vespers.

Going to Confession is not like going to Court and standing before a Judge. If it were, it would be a Court where the only result is a decree of Pardon. Going to Confession is like going to see a caring Physician. Confession unburdens the mind, heart and soul, and brings freedom, healing and peace. Confession is a wonderful Sacrament. It sets us free!

THE PROPER OBSERVANCE OF LENT

This Sunday during Holy Mass I will be handing out a paper called The Great Fast of Lent, explaining Lenten Fasting and Abstinence according to Western Rite Orthodox Observance, as well as the Spiritual Meaning of Lent. You will find this handout helpful in getting the most out of this Holy Season. May we all have a spiritually profitable and fruitful Lent, and a blessed and joyous Pascha (Easter).

SUNDAY SERVICES

Sunday Matins is at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with our monthly Potluck Luncheon immediately after the Liturgy.

During the Potluck Luncheon on Sunday we plan to show a 32 minute film called, From the LITTLE MOUNTAIN - Reflections on Orthodox Christian Monasticism. This beautifully made film takes us through a year at Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia. Insights about the monastic life from one of the senior monks at the monastery are given as we are visually taken through the liturgical year and the changing seasons in the mountains of West Virginia. The imagery and principles set forth in this unique documentary will help us to make a profitable use of Lent and to grow closer to our Lord in our daily walk with him.

The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone! Holy Cross is a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish community, and we have a place for you. We love being Orthodox! Come and see why. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!