The Resurrection of Christ 2015 The Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon on the Great and Holy Pascha 2015
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America: It is the day of Resurrection! Let us be illumined, O ye people! Pascha! The Pascha of the Lord from death to life and from earth to heaven has Christ our God led us, as we sing a song of victory. (Paschal Canon, Ode I) CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Today, on this radiant Feast of feasts, let us all rejoice as newly illumined souls, basking in the brightness and joy that is the Resurrection of our Lord! Christ’s triumph over corruption and death is a victory for all people; there is none vanquished but death and wickedness, for it is a victory that has made salvation possible to all. We offer our expressions of joy and exhilaration today; joining the countless Orthodox Christian faithful who, for more than two millennia throughout the world, have bore witness to the Pascha of Our Lord.
Today’s world is yearning for satisfaction, and hungry for love, truth and righteousness. We have a precious responsibility to proclaim Christ Jesus – the Risen One – of Whom Christians of the second century said, This is the Alpha and Omega! This is the beginning and the end, the ineffable beginning and the incomprehensible end. This is the Christ! This is the king! This is Jesus! This is the commander! This is the Lord! This is He Who rose from the dead! This is He Who sits at the right hand of the Father! He bears the Father and is borne by Him! To him be the glory and the might for ever. Amen! [On Pascha, Saint Melito of Sardis].
Christ’s victory over death and corruption is also our victory, for the divine Pascha of the Lord has brought us who are mortal and earthly “from death to life and from earth to heaven.” It is likewise He, the risen Lord, Who gave us the struggles of the Great Fast, that image of the “narrow path” of life, because indeed, our journey does not end with our Lord’s Pascha. Rather, today we are beginning that journey anew which ultimately leads to our own death, and resurrection at the glorious and awesome Second Coming of Christ. Today’s celebration prepares us for that journey to the eternal Kingdom.
The Resurrection opens for us a path of joyful repentance, so that like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our heart may burn within us as our Lord opens to us the Holy Scripture, so that truly there is no longer anything standing in our way of knowing Him as “the Resurrection and the Life.”
As we continue on our path to salvation, we are given the Resurrection as a motivation and strength to accomplish every good thing necessary to expand His earthly Kingdom, the Church. Each of us is worthy of our calling to strengthen our personal faith in the risen Lord - and, like the disciples after the Resurrection, to share it in love and joy with all who would accept it.
There are still those, either by choice or circumstance who continue to sit in darkness - hungry, naked, alone, imprisoned, and in desperate need of Christ’s love and compassion. As Saint Tikhon of Moscow wrote to his new flock in America, “It is our obligation to share our spiritual treasures, our truth, our light and our joy with those who do not have these gifts. And this duty lies not only on pastors and missionaries, but also on lay people, for the Church of Christ, in the wise comparison of Saint Paul is a body, and in the life of the body every member must take part.”
It is my prayer today on this Feast of feasts, that this Holy Day of holy days, this Triumph of triumphs will strengthen all of us to embrace, continue and expand the mission of our Lord. And that He will give us the courage and fortitude necessary to engage the world with Christ’s message of love and salvation, and proclaim to all:
Christ is Risen! With my archpastoral blessings and love in the Risen Lord, +TIKHON Archbishop of Washington Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Greetings in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ!
Welcome to the web pages of Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church! We are a vibrant and growing community in the Mohawk Valley, serving a wide area of Greater Central New York. We are committed to living a life in Jesus Christ, being nourished by our common worship in the Holy Eucharist and the other services of the Church, of personal prayer, and in striving to bring the light of Christ to our community. Whenever you are in the area, please come and worship with us, get to know us and be welcome to our warm hospitality.
We received this question: "My wife and I are considering visiting [your parish] sometime in the near future. We are not Orthodox Christians and have never been to a Sunday service in the Orthodox Church. Are there some things we should be aware of prior to our visit? Any helpful comments would be appreciated."
We can recommend "12 Things I Wish I'd known... First Visit to an Orthodox Church": http://www.frederica.com/12-things/
Please remember that you are welcome to come downstairs to the Coffee Hour, at the end of the service, where we can sit and get to know each other.
If you have any other questions - please don't hesitate to e-mail or phone the pastor: firstname.lastname@example.org and 315.866.3272.
Our Choir Director moved away and we are without anyone with musical training to lead the singing which we as a community offer to God. Our Church Services are all in English. We have a good number of singers, but without someone to lead them, the singing has lots of room for improvement. If you are interested, we will pay for your gasoline (travel expense) and a small honorarium for each service.
Local music students are welcome to try out for the position - we will teach you anything you need to know - resources are readily available.
Please contact the Rector, Father John, as soon as you can (315-866-3272). Thank you.
At the Request of the Holy Synod of Bishops, we add the following petition to the Augmented Litany and in our prayers:
Again we pray for those who are being persecuted for their faith, especially the Christian faithful of Egypt and across the Middle East, that the Lord God will send down upon them every spiritual weapon to endure their tribulations; and that He will grant that Peace which passes all understanding upon the region, and throughout the whole world, as a foretaste of His heavenly Kingdom.
AFTER PASCHA – how do we keep the intense feeling of Lent, after the Resurrection? Or - Living the life of an Apostle
Lent was so filled with beautiful dramatic services, wonderful prayers and hymns, and even the prayer and fasting we do at home. But after Pascha, some people feel let down. This shouldn’t be.
The women who came to the tomb to anoint the body of the dead Jesus were met by a blazingly bright angel who asked them, ‘Why do you seek the Living (One) among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,.. (Luke 24.5-8) "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you. (Matthew 28.)"
The women disciples of the Lord, having lived with Him and witnessed His death and resurrection, immediately were SENT by the angel to tell the Good News to the apostles and all the world.
In the Early Church, Lent was the time of preparing catechumens for entry into the Church. This aspect of Great Lent is so important for us as the reminder of our own catechumenate. The catechumens were very important in the life of the Church, not only because they were fresh and new, but also because they were so zealous and energetic about the faith and about being Christians. They rejuvenated the old-timers and encouraged those who were ‘weary in well-doing’ (2 Thessalonians 3:13) or tired from doing charity and good things for others (often a thankless work). They were like the addition of fresh leaven or yeast into the dough – remember that in those early times that meant sourdough and it was possible for your leaven to get old or weak…
One of the post-baptism instructions to the neophytes (Christian newbies) was heard in the Gospel lesson, "Just as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you" (John 20:21) – thus changing them from students into worker and doers, from servants to co-workers and children of God. But this is also “The Great Commission” which is addressed to ALL Christians, neophytes and elders alike. Great Lent may be the training ground for catechumens, but it’s also the ‘retreat’ for the older Christians. Great Lent is a time for us all to hone our skills as missionaries and workers in the vineyard of Christ – the kingdom of Heaven.
So, what do we ‘veterans’ need to remember about this Great Commission, this Great Command?
First, we need to remember that we are being SENT, and not just asked, or recommended. We are SENT, just as God the Father SENT God the Son. So we are under obedience, as soldiers are under obedience to their commanders. This is not a willy-nilly ‘sending’ but a part of the strategy in the war of good against evil. Not every soldier is on the front line, but every soldier is one who is prepared to face the fight when the need arises. Not every soldier is called to be a foot-soldier, but some are called to be leaders and officers. That means that everyone has a job to do, and no job is more or less important than another.
What else? This sending is not the happiest thing, from the point of view of the non-Christians. That’s because this sending is to labor and service – unpaid and often thankless, to struggle and overcome – unacknowledged, to be hated and despised because of Our Master and devotion to righteousness and goodness, to be unloved, mistreated, unknown, and unsought. It doesn’t appeal to you? It was part of Our Lord’s life – so if we accept the commission, we shouldn’t be surprised at this aspect of it. But none of this matters, because our food and our reward is to do the will of God. All our needs will be taken care of because as God clothes the fields with lilies, as he feeds the birds of the air, as he finds rest for those who have nowhere to lay their heads, so He cares for us. This reward from God is a more beautiful and wonderful and incredible blessing than any praise or reward from men.
Sounds like a tall order? Remember that God sent his only-begotten Son to teach us the most important things about life – to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and by visiting the sick and imprisoned. If we soldiers can do even part of that, we’ll be fed with the Bread of Heaven. But more than that, we are not sent alone – after being taught the basic training by our Lord Jesus Christ, God promised to send and continues to send us His Holy Spirit, to comfort us and to reward us, and to watch over us, to help us learn what’s right (because He is the Spirit of Truth), who is everywhere, and who gives life and blessings. He will come and stay with us, guide us and protect us.
SO, having taken up our cross, and having accepted the command to go and be his apostles and disciples and announce His Good Word to the world, let us rely on God’s Holy Spirit to show each of us the way we should go about accomplishing His great work.
O Lord our God, grant that we may glorify Thee in the manner of Thy Holy Apostles: by prudent reasoning illumined by Thy Holy Spirit, by submitting ourselves to one another in love, and by solicitude for the well-being of Thy Holy Church and for the world which we are given.
During Great Lent, we are called upon to fast, pray, confess our sins, and turn to doing good instead of evil. We do that by giving alms, or help to the poor.
We hear in the Divine Liturgy that “Every good gift and perfect gift comes down from Thee, the Father of Lights…” All of the things we ‘give’ to one another are patterned after the One True Gift – Our Lord’s giving Himself to the world, at His voluntary crucifixion. You may think that Christmas gifts, Birthday gifts, Baptism and Wedding gifts are personal gifts between yourself and the recipient, but in fact, if they are true, genuine and wholesome gifts, they’re patterned on the Lord’s self-sacrifice.
The Lord’s sacrifice is repeated in the Divine Liturgy. Offered on the altar is His body and His blood, which He gives to us continually. This gift is pure, holy, self-less, and eternal.
The gifts we give are often less than pure, as they’re given in an effort to bribe someone, to put our controls on them, to make them beholding to us. Those gifts are not given without the hope of getting something in return. Often, someone gives something to the Church, but puts their name on a plaque or inscribes the gift itself or requests that it be announced in the Bulletin. Those are gifts which people think they can control, they think they can demand them back when things don’t go their way.
Donations to the Church are always given to the Church, not to individuals. God loves a cheerful giver, but He also does not favor gifts which were not given freely, not given without strings attached, not given from the heart. The only true and valuable gifts are those things we have worked hard to earn. Gifts which we did nothing to earn are not genuine. For example, a real gift would be something which we make ourselves, as opposed to something we buy or pay for, or give from money earned by ‘money-changers’ or bankers – money earned from interest, and not from the sweat of our brow.
Remember the words of the Divine Liturgy, “We offer unto Thee Thine own of thine own on behalf of all and for all”? This is the key to understanding donations. We offer to God what is His, what we used, like those three men who received 10 and 5 and 1 talent when their Master went away on a journey? We use those talents to make more talents. We do NOT offer to God what we did not earn. The first servant earned 10 talents more, the second earned 5 talents more, but the third one simply buried the talent he was given in the earth and earned nothing. The master said, ‘Worthless and lazy servant! At the very worst you could have given the money to the bankers who would have returned interest on the talent – but you didn’t even do that.’ (Matthew 25:28). The Master didn’t recommend that the money be given to the bankers, but as a last resort, the servant could have at least done that much.
Isn’t it a more wonderful gift when we know it was made especially for us by loving hands and heart?
“The Lord loves a cheerful giver” “Each of us should give what we have decided in our hearts to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7). No gift which comes from trying to show someone up by giving a better or larger or richer gift is a worthy or meaningful gift.
Do not be afraid to give to someone you think may be a thief or charlatan because the Lord blesses your intention. And your gift may be the one which changes the black hearted man into an angel of good.
Brothers and sisters, Holy Scripture tells us: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. (Galatians 6:9) “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10) We must be tireless is struggling to live good and holy lives, and even more, to give ‘until it hurts’ to those who ask of us (aloud and silently) and are in obvious need.
News from our Parish of Saints Peter and Paul
Please remember in your prayers: The newly-departed:
Matushka Dorothy Timko
William (Bill) Homyk
Please remember in your prayers the ailing servants of God: Valentina Father Moses Berry Father Victor Alexis Archimandrite Pitirim (Stehnach) Fr. Rodion Luciuk Magdalen Beal Vera Morbey Reader James Weremedic Archimandrite Athanasy (Mastalsky) Archpriest Vincent Saverino Archpriest David Garretson Anna Kanerva Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky Matushka Laura Schmidt and Father Leonid Schmidt Olenka Zharsky Archimandrite Nektarios (Cottros) Archimandrite Roman (Braga) Protosyngellos Christopher (Grecu) Archpriest James (Ken) Stavrevsky Steven Kocuba Michael Brittain John Kowanski Stephanie Litwen Father Ernesto Rios Helen Dzugan Daniel Riley Nadine Staraitis Archpriest Stephen Siniairi Olga Prawlocki Archpriest John Bohush Archpriest Antonio and Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo For the latest Schedule of events, see the most recent Parish weekly Bulletin. To see the recent issues of the Parish weekly Bulletin and monthly Newsletter - click on the columns to the left, above.
CHURCH SCHOOL started up again in September. From September to June, church school is taught on Sundays, at 9:00 am. Thank you to Matushka Anastasia Richards for volunteering to teach our Church Schoolers. God bless all of the Church School students and their teacher in their studies. Donations for the needs of the Church School are always welcome.