Thursday, March 31, 2016


At Holy Cross parish we have come full circle. The Gospel of Jesus Christ arrived in the British Isles in AD 37. It was brought there by St. Joseph of Arimathea directly from Jerusalem. The English Church (ecclesia anglicana) remained part of the Orthodox Church for more than 1,000 years. In the year 1054, when the Roman Patriarchate, having unilaterally changed the Nicene Creed by adding the so-called Filioque (“and the Son”) clause without Catholic consent, fell away from the Orthodox Catholic Church, the English Church remained Orthodox. This led to the Norman invasion in 1066. The Norman invasion was a promoted as a papal crusade to bring the English Church under Roman hegemony.

In October of 1066, King Harold, the last Orthodox king of England, died defending Orthodox England from the Norman invasion. With the Norman Conquest all but one of the English bishops were removed and imprisoned. They were replaced by Norman bishops, and the English Church was forced into submission to the papacy.

The English Reformation, which began in 1534, was very different from the Reformation on the Continent of Europe. No new Church was formed, and the reform was carried out by the bishops themselves. The annulment, not divorce, of King Henry VIII was the occasion, not the reason, for the English Reformation. Unfortunately, Henry VIII was a dissolute king who was more interested in the goods of the Church than the good of the Church. His reign is known as the Royal Tyranny. 

Upon the death of Henry VIII, the English Reformation began in earnest. The goal of the English Reformation was the restoration of the Faith and Order of what is commonly called the undivided Church. However, being five hundred years removed from the “undivided” Church, separated from the Orthodox Church in the East by hostile Roman Catholic powers, and being influenced by Continental Protestant thought, the goal of the English Reformation was hard to achieve. The English Reformation, or perhaps more accurately the English Restoration, was advanced by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century, the Oxford Movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and by the St. Louis Church Congress and the continuing Anglican Movement of the later 20th and early 21st centuries.

Today, large numbers of Anglicans have come full circle and returned to the Church from which their Fathers in the Faith were torn away by force of arms in 1066. Anglicans now make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and there are hundreds of former Anglican clergy now serving as Orthodox clergy in America alone. In our own Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) two of our bishops are former Anglicans. Former Anglicans have entered both the Eastern and Western Rites, and the English Usage of the Western Rite is in use in both the Patriarchates of Moscow and Antioch.

When I am asked, “Where have all the orthodox Anglicans gone?” My answer is always the same: “To the Orthodox Church!” When an Anglican enters the Orthodox Church he is not “joining a new Church,” but simply coming full circle and healing the breach that was caused by the Norman Conquest in 1066. There is no longer any legitimate reason for any traditional or continuing Anglican to remain separate from the Orthodox Church. The door is wide open for them. They can even preserve and pass on their English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony within the Orthodox Church just as their forefathers in the Faith did during the first millennium of Christianity.

What many people do not realize is that it seems that the British Royal Family may be coming full circle as well. A Roman Catholic publication in the United Kingdom has published an important article about Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. The article s titled, “Defender of the (Eastern) Faith.” The article reads in part:

“What is less well known and understood is the extent to which the Prince feels a deep spiritual connection to Orthodox Christianity. It is this, more than anything else, that explains why he is leading a passionate campaign to save the eastern faithful.

Such is his closeness to the faith that many Greek Orthodox believers think he has secretly converted. If that were true, it would pose a huge constitutional dilemma.

But it is undoubtedly the case that Orthodoxy looms large in Charles’s life and family history. His great-aunts Alexandra and Elizabeth converted to Orthodoxy and are considered martyrs, murdered by the Bolsheviks along with so many of the Prince’s blood relations in Russia.

Charles’s grandmother was an Orthodox nun. Princess Alice, who endured a number of difficulties in her life, including deafness, schizophrenia and the Nazi occupation of her Greek homeland, is considered a Righteous Among the Nations for her role in saving Jews during the War. A woman of noted holiness, she founded an order of nuns in 1949 after her husband Andrew’s death.

When Alice’s youngest child, Philip, married Princess Elizabeth of England, he was required to join the Church of England. But he has maintained links with the Greek Church and there have often been rumours of his return. His mother was given a small Orthodox chapel that she used until her death in 1969, when her remains were buried at a Russian Orthodox convent in Jerusalem, as she had wished.

Prince Charles has always been drawn to Orthodox Christianity’s rugged spirituality. He likes icons and reading the Greek mystics. There are Byzantine images in The Sanctuary, the simple chapel in the grounds of his home at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, where he goes to pray and meditate. At his marriage to Camilla, the Creed was recited in Old Church Slavonic.

Charles has also received regular visits at Highgrove from Ephraim, abbot of the ninth-century Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos. The Prince flew to Athos a few days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, a period of intense crisis for him, his children and the whole royal family. Alone with Ephraim in the chamber there, Charles is rumoured to have made a “spiritual commitment” to Orthodoxy. After one of his visits to Mount Athos, a monk was quoted in a newspaper saying Charles was ‘Orthodox in his heart’.”

You can read the full article here:

Recently Prince Charles was in Serbia where he was visiting Orthodox churches and monasteries. On March 23rd an article was published titled, Prince Charles visited Monastery of Holy Archangels in Kovilj, Serbia. You can read it here:

British law currently requires that the British monarch be a member of the Church of England, but the Church of England has lost its way doctrinally, morally and spiritually, and less than a million of its twenty-six million baptized members attend church. The Church of England will undoubtedly soon be disestablished by Parliament as it has little public support, leaving the Crown Prince free to either publicly admit his conversion to Orthodoxy if he has indeed already converted, or to finally come full circle and return to the Orthodox Church. 

The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in the world. It is the original Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ himself. This is an indisputable fact of history. The Orthodox Church is the “One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” of the Nicene Creed. The doors are wide open, the welcome mat is out, and everyone is welcome. Everyone! 

Not only Anglicans, but the forefathers of all Western Christians were Orthodox Christians before the Great Schism of 1054. Part of our mission is to invite all Western Christians - Anglicans, Protestants and Roman Catholics - clergy and laity alike, to reject the tragic divisions which they have inherited, heed the prayer of our Lord that his disciples may all be one (John 17), embrace the Faith of the "undivided" Church, and come full circle and return to the Church of their Fathers. They will be warmly welcomed with open arms, and with love and great joy, just as we have been. 

We'll leave the light on...

Friday, March 25, 2016


Dear N._____,
Thank you for your email. It is good to hear from you. I am glad to hear that you found my article on Fr. Novak’s Blog, EVANGELISM EXPLOSION - Orthodox Christianity: Winning the World for Christ! to be a blessing. 

The Western Rite of the Orthodox Church is ancient, and the restoration of it began about a century and a half ago. It is well established today with Western Rite congregations and monastic communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and on the Continent of Europe, and our numbers are growing. I have written about it  in an article titled, The Western Rite Within the Orthodox Church. It was posted on February 25, 2016, on my blog, Fr. Novak’s Blog. You can find Fr. Novak’s Blog here: Just scroll down to the February 25th posting to read the article.

Two great supporters of Western Rite Orthodoxy were St. John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco and St. Tikhon of America and Moscow. St. John of San Francisco said, "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."

Today there are Western Rite congregations and monastic communities in the Patriarchate of Antioch  ("Where they were first called Christians")  and in the Russian Orthodox Church (which is the largest autocephalous Orthodox Church and makes up more than half of all Orthodox Christians), as well as in the Romanian and Serbian Patriarchates (in Europe). In the Russian and Antiochian Orthodox Churches there are nine Western Rite monastic communities. 

I have been blessed by Metropolitan Hilarion to be bi-liturgical  — to serve both the Western and Eastern Rites. My parish is a Western Rite congregation. We are an active and thriving parish, and I am the full time rector.

You can learn more about Western Orthodoxy from my parish website:

My blog, Fr. Novak's Blog:

Our parish Facebook page:

The Russian Orthodox Western Rite Communities:

These sites will give you a lot of helpful information. The Western Rite isn't an experiment, it is a restoration of Western Orthodoxy that began a century and a half ago, and its restoration has been supported by hierarchs and Saints. It is a demonstration of the Catholicity of the Orthodox Church. The Church is not just Eastern, it is Catholic (Universal).  

Are you in the greater Omaha area? If so, I hope that you will visit our parish and worship with us. If not, I hope that you will take the opportunity to visit a Western Rite Orthodox church if there is one near you. Western Rite communities are thoroughly Orthodox in Faith, completely canonical, and in full visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church, while preserving their Western cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony. Thank you again for writing.

May God grant you every grace and blessing,

Fr. Victor+

Fr. Victor Novak
A Western Rite Parish of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Edited for publication.

Friday, March 18, 2016


At Holy Cross Orthodox Church we recently celebrated our third Christmas as an Orthodox parish, and we are now beginning our third Lent (or fourth if you count 2013, when we were in the process of being received into the Orthodox Church and were already under the protection of Bishop Jerome). God has been very good to us!

Shrove Tuesday was a wonderful day at Holy Cross parish. Confessions were heard from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and in the evening we enjoyed our annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. We had visitors, delicious food, and warm fellowship. Shrove Tuesday is an ancient English tradition and a wonderful preparation for Lent which, in the Western Rite, began the next day on Ash Wednesday.

On Ash Wednesday Confessions were again heard from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and in the evening we gathered for worship. The sung Litany was followed by the Blessing and Imposition of Ashes, and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.

With Ash Wednesday the Great Fast of Lent has begun, but Lent isn’t a morbid time of suffering in the Orthodox Church - far from it! Holy Lent is a wonderful opportunity for new beginnings in the Christian life; and a time for recommitment, getting our priorities right and focusing on the “the one thing needful.” What is “the one thing needful”? We know from the Gospel that our Lord Jesus Christ visited the home of Martha and Mary in Bethany. While He was there, Mary set aside her normal duties (which were good in themselves) to sit at His feet and listen to His word. Jesus explained that Mary had chosen the one thing needful - listening to the Word of God.

Lent is a time for us to set aside as many of the cares and activities of the world that we can and to focus on “the one thing needful.” Have you purchased a copy of the Orthodox Study Bible? If not, Lent is the perfect time to do so. Take some of the money that you will save on groceries due to the Fast and buy one. You can purchase the Orthodox Study Bible locally at Parable Christian Store, order it from Ancient Faith Publishing,, or buy it from Amazon. Why the Orthodox Study Bible? Because it is a complete Bible, not a readers digest version with missing books; the Old Testament is the authorized Septuagint version rather than the late Masoretic text; and the study notes are like having a Bible teacher with you in your own home. I encourage everyone to own and use the Orthodox Study Bible.

Already have the Orthodox Study Bible? Then as Blessed Augustine of Hippo was told, “Pick it up and read it.” Make your Lenten resolution be that  you are  going to choose “the one thing needful” - listening to the Word of God. Make time every day to pick up the Holy Bible and read it. 

In addition to the Holy Bible, I encourage you to read at least one good devotional book this Lenten season. I would like to recommend two books that I have read again and again with great profit.

The first is The Way of a Pilgrim and A Pilgrim Continues His Way. This book is a spiritual classic, written by an anonymous 19th century wandering Russian Pilgrim. I first read this book in the 1970s, and I return to it again and again. You can purchase it from Ancient Faith Publishing, from Light and Life Publishing,,  or from Amazon. Do you have a Prayer Rope? The Russians call it a Chotki and the Greeks call it a Comboschini. A Prayer Rope is a string of knots used for praying the Jesus Prayer. While reading The Way of a Pilgrim and A Pilgrim Continues His Way you will learn all about the Jesus Prayer and will find it such a blessing that you will want your own Prayer Rope. You can purchase a Prayer Rope from many sources, including Ancient Faith Publishing, Light and Life Publishing, various monasteries, and,, which sells Prayer Ropes and has a lot of helpful information on the Jesus Prayer and the Prayer Rope.

The other book that I would like to recommend for you to consider for your Lenten reading is The Confessions of St. Augustine. This book is some sixteen centuries old and is still in print. It is a spiritual classic. The Confessions is not a “tell all” like modern readers may expect, but a very insightful and spiritual autobiography. Through it the reader will see his own past follies, his own wrestling with doubts, mistaken ideas and false choices, and with his own search for Truth. 

The Confessions will help you to see God’s hand on your own life, will encourage you in your daily walk with our Lord and will give you great hope as you too pick up your cross and follow Christ. Fr. Seraphim (Rose) read this important book every Lent and recommended it to others. It is available from many sources, including Amazon, and locally at Gloria Deo Bookstore at 132nd & West Center Road.

The Lenten Fast can seem daunting to some, especially those raising young children, or concerned about working and having little time to plan special meals, or who have special dietary needs - but it doesn’t have to be. The Lenten Fast can be both very simple and spiritually very profitable. Fr. Theodore Liudogovsky, an Orthodox priest in Russia, has written a very helpful article. While written from an Eastern Rite perspective, it will be helpful to Orthodox Christians of whatever rite. The article is called, Simple Fasting, and I hope that you will read it. Here is the link:

This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent. It is also known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy we do not celebrate the triumph of the Orthodox Church over some other church or religion, but over heresy that had risen up within the Orthodox Church in ancient times - specifically the Iconoclast heresy. The Sunday of Orthodoxy is an annual reminder that Christ Himself built His Church, and that the gates of hell can never prevail against it. This is something that we can take great comfort in and should give us great hope.

Jesus Christ is the Truth Revealed, and Orthodox Christianity is the Truth Lived. Lent is here to help us to begin to live the Orthodox Christian Way of Life in its fullness. It’s our Faith, so let’s live it!

There will be no adult Christian Education class on Sunday, March 20, or Sunday, March 27. Christian Ed will resume on Sunday, April 3rd.

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. We are a faithful and friendly parish, and we have a place for you. I hope to see you on Sunday!

Friday, March 11, 2016


Great Lent is right around the corner. This Sunday, March 13th, is Quinquagesima, the last Sunday of the three week pre-Lenten season according to the Western Rite. Tuesday, March 15th is Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday comes from the old English word Shriven, which means confessed. The ancient English spiritual discipline is to go to Confession, to be shriven of our sins, before the beginning of Lent. I went to Confession this week, and will be hearing Confessions on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. What a blessing this Sacrament is! You feel unburdened, and spiritually fresh and clean. It’s like taking a spiritual shower.


Shrove Tuesday is the last day of the pre-Lenten season, with the Great Fast beginning on Ash Wednesday. Holy Cross parish will hold a traditional Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper on Tuesday, March 15th, at 6:00 PM. This is a beloved English tradition. Eggs, Sausage and Pancakes will be served. The public is invited. This is not a parish fundraiser and there is no cost for the Supper, however a free will offering will be taken. Be sure to invite family and friends to this wonderful annual event. They will have a great time. The Christian life is the Good Life at Holy Cross Orthodox Church!


Ash Wednesday, March 16th, is the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday Services will include the sung Litany and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes. Services begin at 6:30 PM. This is a very important day in our spiritual lives and I hope that everyone will make every effort to be there. Lent is a time for new beginnings. It is an opportunity to begin again in our walk with the Lord. Let us make use of this opportunity to begin again if we need to, or to deepen our commitment to faithful discipleship. 

There will be no mid-day celebration of the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist on Wednesday, March 16th. Our regular midweek Services will resume on Wednesday, March 23rd, at 12:10 PM. Please join us for Services on Ash Wednesday, March 16th, at 6:30 PM.


Confessions will be heard on Shrove Tuesday and on Ash Wednesday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and by appointment.


Why do we fast during Lent? We all have some understanding as to the reasons, but we may not have as yet really grasped it. Archpriest Michael Gillis has written a very helpful, short article titled, “Why Do We Fast In Lent?” I hope that you will read it. Here is the Link:


Former First Lady Nancy Reagan entered eternity this week and her funeral is being held today. The Reagans had an enormous impact on our nation and on the world, and their legacy lives on. I have posted a photograph of President Ronald and First Lady Nancy Reagan visiting an Orthodox monastery on our parish Facebook page. The Reagans are surrounded by Orthodox monks and Mrs. Reagan is holding a bouquet of flowers given her by the brotherhood. The Photograph was taken in 1988, when the Reagans were visiting Moscow. In 1988, Orthodox Christians were celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia.

Do you visit our parish Facebook page regularly? It is updated often. Please go to our Facebook page and assist us in our outreach by “Liking” it, and then follow our postings. Here is the Link:


Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday, March 13th, so be sure to change your clocks before going to bed on Saturday night. In order to help us adjust to the time change there will be no Christian Education this Sunday morning. Matins will be as usual at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Christian Education will resume on Sunday, March 20th. at 8:45 AM.


Sunday Matins (Morning Prayer) begins at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with fellowship and refreshments in the parish hall after the Liturgy. We are a faithful and friendly church, and we have a place for you. Everyone is always welcome. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you there!