Tuesday, May 9, 2017



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!