The 3rd Sunday After Pentecost
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matt. 6:24)
After the Sunday of All Saints and that of the Romanian Saints which reminded us of the dedication of these saints to the service of God, the gospel section of this Sunday speaks also about the service to God as being totally incompatible with the service to the evil one. This incompatibility is verified in our life. The worldly pleasures attract us away from God and hinder us from presenting ourselves as Christians. The danger of this ultra-modern world is that of tempting us with the false possibility of serving two masters. The struggle between God and mammon is waged in everyone-s soul. This is a struggle for eternity in which the choosing is ours. It is God who strengthens us in our choosing to defeat the adversary.
The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
The apparition of the holy Archangel Gabriel to the priest Zacharias in the Temple, with the announcement of the birth to him and the righteous Elizabeth, of a son who would prepare the way for the Lord, the Savior of the world, and the subsequent fulfillment of this promise, are the first events related by the Evangelists. The announcement by the same Archangel Gabriel six months later in Nazareth to the Virgin Mary concerning the birth from Her of the Son of God, Who was to become incarnate, is a continuation of the revelation of the Pre-eternal Counsel concerning the salvation of the human race.
Three months after the Annunciation, St. John the Forerunner was born "in the city of Judah," and six months after his birth, Christ Himself was born in Bethlehem.
These events are closely related to each other. "The glorious conception of the Forerunner proclaimed beforehand the King Who is to be born of a Virgin". The announcement by the Archangel Gabriel in the Temple, told later to all living close to Zacharias in the magnificent hymn, which he sang after the birth of his son John and the restoration of his speech (Luke 1:67-79), is the prelude to the angelic hymn: "Glory to God in the highest," which was sung in Bethlehem by the angels when they announced to the shepherds the Nativity of Christ.
The Nativity of John the Baptist is the first joy sent down by God to the human race, the beginning of its deliverance from the power of devil, sin and eternal death. From the day of the Nativity of John the Forerunner, the preparation of the human race begins for encountering the Son of God on earth. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He has visited and redeemed His people . . . And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you woll go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways" (Luke 1:68, 76).
These God-inspired words of the priest Zacharias, after he had regained the gift of speech, were made known in all the land of Judea, causing disturbance to all the inhabitants who asked each other in astonishment: "What kind of child will this be?" (Luke 1:66).
Being born exactly half a year before Christ, John the Forerunner depicted, by the exact time of his birth, his mission of preparing the way of the Lord. He was born at the time of the year (June 24) when the day begins to grow shorter after the summer solstice, whereas the Nativity of Christ occurs (December 25) when the day begins to grow longer after the winter solstice. These facts are an embodiment of the words spoken later by the Forerunner, after the beginning of Christ's preaching: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
Just as the very event of the Nativity of John the Baptist was the antechamber of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so the feast of the Nativity of John the Forerunner is also the antechamber of the feast of the Nativity of Christ. "The star of stars, the Forerunner, is born on earth today, from a barren womb, John the beloved of God, and manifests the dawning of Christ, the Orient from on high" (Glory at Lauds of the Feast, June 24). "The whole creation rejoices at thy divine nativity: for thou was shown forth as an earthly angel, O Forerunner and a heavenly man, proclaiming to us, the God of heaven incarnate" (Canticle Five of the Canon). "O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, we who venerate thee with love, are in perplexity how worthily to praise thee; for the barrenness of her who bore thee and the dumbness of thy father are loosed by thy glorious and precious nativity, and the incarnation of the Son of God is preached to the world" (Troparion of the Feast).
Sunday, June 20 - Divine Liturgy at the Sts. Constantin and Helen Archdiocesan Cathedral, Chicago.
Thursday, June 24 - The Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral, Chicago.
Friday, June 25 - Holy Unction at the Archdiocesan Cathedral, Chicago.
Saturday, June 26 - Holy Unction at the St. George Cathedral, Windsor.
Sunday, June 27 - Divine Liturgy at the St. George Cathedral, Windsor.
Tuesday, June 29 - Divine Liturgy at the Archdiocesan Cathedral, Chicago.
Russian President meets with Patriarch and ROCOR Metropolitan
MOSCOW - On 27 May 2004 at the Novo-Ogarevo residence the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir V. Putin met with Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and with the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York.
President Putin greeted the guests and expressed his hope for successful completion of the process of conversations between the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Outside of Russia. Patriarch Alexy thanked President Putin for inviting Metropolitan Laurus to visit Russia. He called this official visit of the delegation of the Russian Church Outside of Russia with its First Hierarch at the head an historical event. His Holiness noted that this visit was the first done officially. Other previous visits were unofficial and 'incognito.- Metropolitan Laurus announced his intention to exert every effort to achieve peace and mutual understanding between the Russian Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate.
Churches of Constantinople and Greece Restore Communion
CONSTANTINOPLE - The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece in a special session on Friday May 28, called by Archbishop Christodoulos, voted overwhelmingly to put an end to a ten month dispute with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over the so-called Metropolises of the New Lands. The Synod voted to declare its respect to the Patriarchal Code of 1850 (Tomos) and the Praxis of 1928. The Tomos of 1850 regulates the granting of Autocephalous status to the Church of Greece and the 1928 Praxis deals with the 36 Metropolises of the New Lands, which belong spiritually to the Ecumenical Patriarchate but administratively to the Church of Greece. In a corresponding action, the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople decided to restore the ties that were cut with Archbishop Christodoulos. A statement issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate said that the Holy Synod "desires that the two churches now continue their religious and spiritual duties in peace and togetherness."
Saturday, May 29 - His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae was in Rochester participating at the Romanian Festival organized by the Holy Trinity parish. The mobilization of the parish members to receive the guests and to present themselves as a Romanian community was impressive. Professor Carlton from the University of Rochester, former doctoral student in Cluj, presented to the local official representatives, to the representatives of Romania to New York, to the reporters and to all the guests the museum with displays from the tradition of the Romanian people set up in the church hall. Romanian lessons were given to the children. The festival was a good opportunity to present ourselves and it was well organized. Congratulations to Fr. Daniel Ene and to all the members of the parish.
Sunday, May 30 - Pentecost - His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae visited Holy Trinity parish in Philadelphia for the parish-s name day. A Cross from Romania was erected in front of the Church through the efforts of Fr. Florin Salgau and the parishioners. The service for the blessing of the Cross was an occasion to remember the meanings of the Cross in the life of the believer.
His Eminence officiated the same service of blessing assisted by Fr. Ovidiu Sabau at St. Andrew parish in Reading, PA. His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae spoke to the faithful about the path to church that is now beautified with a Cross, the path between Christ-s passions and His resurrection.
Monday, May 31 - Holy Trinity - His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae has officiated the Holy Liturgy together with other 6 hierarchs at the church of St. Tikhon Monastery in Pennsylvania on the occasion of its feast day. The Monastery belongs to the OCA and is a well known place for pilgrimage.
June 4-6 - His Eminence was at the All Saints parish in Toronto for the first feast day of the parish celebrated in the new church. The liturgical schedule included the Sacrament of Holy Unction on Friday, Vespers followed by a pastoral conference on Saturday and Divine Liturgy on Sunday. During the three months since the first service, Fr. Ioan Pop together with his parishioners continued to decorate the new church in view of its consecration. May God help them to carry out this work!
Friday, June 11 - His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae chaired the first meeting of the Eastern USA Deanery that was held at St. Nicholas parish in New York. Even though only a few of the priests responded to Fr. Dean Nicholas Apostola-s invitation, the meeting was successful in that it gave everyone the opportunity to meet each other and present the respective parish with the problems and the accomplishments as well. The next meeting is proposed to be scheduled for October, 2004.
Sunday, June 13 - Sunday of the Romanian Saints - His Eminence Archbishop Nicoale was present at the Annunciation mission parish in New York to install the new priest, Fr. Ioan Zaha. His Eminence told Fr. Ioan of his responsibility in regards to his new mission as priest in New York and talked to the parishioners about their contribution in helping the parish priest in his difficult task that he has now officially received.