ADVENT BEGINS THIS SUNDAY!
This Sunday, December 10th, is the First Sunday in Advent and the beginning of the Advent Season. The liturgical color is a royal purple as we prepare for the Coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Advent Wreath is up, and our processional hymn will be, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Advent and Christmastide are the most wonderful times of the year!
Advent season precedes the Feast of the Nativity and consists of four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest St. Andrew’s Day. Advent is a joyous season as we look forward to Christmas, but also a time for serious spiritual preparation. Like Lent, it is a time to purify both soul and body as we prepare to properly enter into, and partake of, the great spiritual reality of Christ's Coming. This spiritual preparation includes both fasting and abstinence, which expands and intensifies in Advent.
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
While Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Feast of the Nativity or Christmas, we actually celebrate the Feast of the Nativity for twelve days — the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas. Christmas means "Christ’s Mass,” and there can be no true celebration of the Nativity of Christ without participating in Christ’s Mass and receiving Him in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We will begin our Christmas celebration with a traditional Midnight Mass, followed by a Christmas party in our parish hall. The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days to hold Christmas parties, have celebrations, invite family and friends to our homes, and visit others. There are no days of Fast or Abstinence during the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is a time of joyous celebration!
MARY’S FIAT (Proclamation)
“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:38).
God woos us, He does not force us to do His will. Mary responded with faith to the words of the Archangel Gabriel, and nine months later Jesus (Salvation) was born in Bethlehem. St. Irenaeus of Lyon (Gaul/France) was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was himself a disciple of the Apostle John. In AD 175, St. Irenaeus wrote:
“Just as the former—that is, Eve—was seduced by the words of an [fallen] angel so that she turned away from God by disobeying his word, so the latter — Mary — received the good news from an angel's announcement in such a way as to give birth to God by obeying his word; and as the former was seduced so that she disobeyed God, the latter let herself be convinced to obey God, and so the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve. And as the human race was subjected to death by a virgin, it was liberated by a Virgin; a virgin's disobedience was thus counterbalanced by a Virgin's obedience...” — St. Irenaeus (AD 175).
As we can see from this quote from St. Irenaeus — a disciple of a disciple of the Apostle John — the Theotokos, the Mother of God, played an important part in our salvation according to the understanding of the early Church, and according to the understanding of the Church throughout the centuries.
Christ was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem, but unless He is conceived in our hearts by faith and born into our lives the events of Christmas will do us no good. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “House of Bread” and Jesus is the Bread of Life. He has given us His very Body and Blood as Bread from Heaven to partake of, and unless we eat His flesh and drink his Blood we have no life in us. The early Church called the Sacrament of Holy Communion “the medicine of immortality.” May each of us make a good and spiritually profitable use of this holy season of Advent, and may we each come humbly, reverently, and with great thanksgiving and joy to Christ’s Mass on the Feast of the Nativity to receive the Bread of Life.
HOLY CROSS PARISH FACEBOOK PAGE
I regularly post important news and videos on our Holy Cross Parish Facebook page. If you are not a follower of our parish Facebook page you are missing out on a lot of important and edifying information. Please go to the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page, “Like” it, and become a Follower it so you will be notified whenever something is posted. Here is the link:
OPEN DOOR MISSION
Our latest donation to the Open Door Mission totaled 254 pounds of food! Thank you to everyone who contributed and to Paul N. Who made the delivery. Our parish food bins are now empty, but the needs remain and will grow with the colder weather, so let’s begin refilling our parish food bins on Sunday. Thank you!
MITTEN AND GLOVE DRIVE
Once again this year we are working with the Salvation Army to provide the homeless with desperately needed mittens and gloves. There is a box in the parish hall where you can put donated mittens and gloves for adults and (sadly) children. Who among us can imagine what it must be like to be homeless, especially homeless in the winter, homeless at Christmas? The thought is heartbreaking, but we can help. Wendy W. Is coordinating our Mitten and Glove drive. If you have any questions see Wendy. Please give generously.
WOMEN’S GROUP CRAFT SALE
There are beautiful home-made crafts for sale in our parish hall. The crafts are made by members of our parish Women’s group, the Sisters of Holy Cross, and the Craft Sale is a fund-raiser for the group. I do not know what we would do without the Sisters of Holy Cross. They are a vital ministry of our parish and they need funds for their work. Please do some of your Christmas shopping at their Craft table, buy these beautiful crafts for yourself, and support this important and worthy cause. Thank you!
Every year we improve and beautify our parish temple for the glory of God. This year there are a lot of improvements in the works. Our St. Joseph’s Guild is building a platform that will raise the altar and the priest’s step above the floor; new icons and lampadas are on their way, as are three new icon stands, a beautifully adorned Gospel book, and other important liturgical books.
The sanctuary (altar area) will soon be opened up by removing the lectern and pulpit — we will use a portable pulpit instead — giving us more space; and the bishop’s platform and chair will be permanently installed rather than simply brought out when we have an episcopal visit. In addition, we may be replacing our carpeting — which is wearing — with vinyl planking, and putting linoleum in the bathroom off the chapel. This will not only improve the looks of our temple, but the acoustics as well — something that I know our Schola Cantorum and Cantor would appreciate and welcome!
Every year we undertake improvements to our church facility, and this year is no different, but such improvements cost money. I hope that you will support our improvements and the ongoing work of our church with a generous offering.
If you are a friend of our parish living far from the Omaha area, but have been blessed by our Work in behalf of the Gospel and the rebuilding of the Western Church, I hope that you will also support us by sending an offering. This is indeed a worthy cause and we could use your help. Thank you!
ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
We continue to work through a course of sixteen video classes given by Fr. Barnabas Powell called, Journey to Fullness. Everyone who is attending is receiving such a blessing from this class; and our class coordinator, Paul T., is offering some very helpful follow-up questions and leading the discussions. I hope that you will join us for this class at 8:45 AM on Sunday morning. You will be blessed.
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 follows the Liturgy.
The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in the world, the original Church, the Church founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself. It is unchanged and unchanging in Faith and Morals. These are indisputable facts of history. Insist on the original. Do not settle for a man-made substitute. The Church is for everyone, and everyone is always welcome. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. Come and see. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Fr. Victor Novak
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127