New Announcements 2017

Archive: 2016 Announcements
Archive: 2017 Announcements

PASCHA. RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD: APRIL 16, 2017

Troparion:
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling Death by death, and to those in the tomb, He hath granted Life.
Kontakion, Tone 8:
Though Thou didst descend into the grave, О Deathless One, yet Thou didst annihilate the power of Hell, and didst rise again as Conqueror, О Christ-God, announcing unto the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! and giving peace unto Thine Apostles, and bestowing Resurrection upon the fallen.
 
The word «Pascha» in Hebrew means «passing over, deliverance». The Hebrews, celebrating the Old-Testament Passover, commemorated the miraculous exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, when they crossed the parted Red Sea being led by their great Prophet, the God-beholder Moses. They left the land of slavery, Egypt, to enter into the Promised Land.
Christians, celebrating the New Testament Pascha, exult in the deliverance through Christ of all the people from slavery to the devil and in the granting of Life and everlasting bliss. As sung in the canons: «From death to Life and from the earth to the Heavens hath Christ God brought us».
Pascha is the essence of our faith: for Christ rose from the dead, and we will rise from the dead. Therefore Pascha is the Feast of feasts and the Triumph of triumphs, and therefore the services of this Feast are exceptionally magnificent and especially triumphant.
The Resurrection of Christ was attested to by the apostles and the blood of myriads of martyrs. The spiritual joy of Pascha is expressed in the victorious hymn: «Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life», and is felt by the heart of each believer.
On Friday in the ninth hour (by contemporary calculations about three in the afternoon) Christ Who was crucified on the Cross, gave up His Spirit to God the Father. Only His young disciple John, the Mother of God and several other women followers stood by the Cross weeping at His suffering - all the others ran away in fear a long while back.
Upon the death of Christ «when it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea arrived; his name was Joseph, and he was also was a disciple of Jesus. He went into the presence of Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate gave orders for the body to be given to Joseph. So Joseph took it, wrapped it in a new linen sheet, and placed it in his own grave, which he had just recently dug out of the rock. Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance to the grave and went away. On the next day - that is the day following Friday - the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and said: Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive he said«I will be raised to life after three days». Give orders, then, for the grave to be safely guarded until the third day, so that his disciples will not be able to go and steal him, and then tell the people «He was raised from death». This last lie would be even worse than the first one. «Take a guard» Pilate told them; «go and guard the grave as best you can». So they left, and made the grave secure by putting a seal on the stone and leaving the guard on watch. (Matt.27: 57-66).
After midnight from Saturday to the next day after it (now known as Sunday) the greatest and most joyous event in the whole world occurred: the guard was standing at the grave, the large stone with the seal was intact; suddenly the earth shook and our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of His Divinity resurrected from the dead and left the tomb. Soon after this an angel came down from Heaven and rolled away the stone from the entrance to the tomb and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightening and his clothes were white as snow. The soldiers guarding the grave fell to the ground in terror, but then got up and ran to tell the chief priests of what had
occurred. The chief priests gave the guards a large sum of money and said: «You are to say that his disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep. And if the Governor should hear of this, we will convince him and you will have nothing to worry about». The guards took the money and did what they were told to do. To this very day that is the report spread around by the Jews. (Matt. 28:13-15).
Meanwhile, in the early morning, while it was still dark, several pious women were hurrying to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ with aromatic myrrh. They were not aware of the great event that had taken place, nor even of the seal of the Sanhedrin or of the guards. Their worry was about who would roll away the heavy stone from the grave. Mary Magdalene, being ahead of the rest, reached the grave first and seeing the stone rolled away ran to Peter and John saying: «They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have put Him». Hearing this, Peter and John immediately ran to the grave with Mary Magdalene. The rest of the myrrh-bearing women came to the grave and saw that the stone had been rolled away. So they went in; but they did not find the body of the Ixird Jesus. They stood there uncertain about this, when suddenly two men in bright shining clothes stood by them: Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them: «Why are you looking among the dead for One Who is alive? He is not here; He has risen. Remember what He has said to you while He was in Galilee: the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, be nailed to the cross and be raised to life on the third day». Then the women remembered His words, returned from the grave, and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest. (Lk.24: 3-9)

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker: May 22
Anyone who has ever prayed to St. Nicholas for help knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he not only did exist, but still does exist, for our God is a God of the living (cf. Mt. 22:32).
St Nicholas was born (c. 270) in the the region of Lycia (southern Asia Minor), in the city of Patara. His parents, Theophanes and Nonna, were both pious Christians, and being childless until his arrival, consecrated Nicholas to God at his birth (the name Nicholas meaning 'Conqueror of nations').
Fr Nicholas made pilgrimage of the holy places in Jerusalem, especially Golgotha where Christ was crucified. Icons today continue to recount the miraculous nature of his voyage to Jerusalem there by ship, during which a great storm arose (Nicholas having earlier predicted that it would). Seeing in a vision the devil climbing aboard the ship, Nicholas warned the crew and prayed for the salvation of the craft and its occupants, and the sea shortly calmed.St Nicholas' title 'wonderworker' comes from the multitude of reports of miracles that issued forth at his intercession, both during his life and after. The renown of his miraculous acts was widespread in his own lifetime. As he had secretly delivered gold, many years before, to the father of three destitute daughters, so he secretly delivered gold to an Italian merchent (by some accounts, this gold was left miraculously by an apparition of the saint appearing to the merchant in Italy), convincing him to sail to Myra with a shipment of grain. And so by his prayers and deeds, his city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine.

Ascension of Our Lord: May 25, 2017

Troparion, Tone 4: 
Thou hast ascended in glory, О Christ our God, having made joyful Thy disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit, which was announced unto them in the blessing; for Thou art the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.
Kontakion, Tone 6: 
When Thou hast accomplished Thy dispensation concerning us, and united those on the earth with the heavenly, Thou didst ascend in glory, О Christ our God, yet in nowise separating Thyself from us, but abiding ever present and crying out unto those that love Thee: I am with you, and none shall prevail against you.
 
  This holy day is celebrated on the fortieth day after the Resurrection of Christ, on the Thursday of the sixth week of Pascha. The ascension of Christ into heaven is mentioned in the prophecies of the Scriptures. Christ Himself, upon His Resurrection, said to Mary Magdelene: «I go back up to My Father and your Father and to My God and your God».
  This great event with which Jesus" life on earth concludes is briefly mentioned in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. But in the Acts of the Apostles there is a fuller account: Gathering His disciples, Jesus commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to await what had been promised by the Father, that is, the descent of the Holy Spirit. «John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth. »
  Saying this, He went with His disciples to Bethany and stopped on the mount of Olives. Here He lifted up His hands and blessed them, and as He was blessing them, He was parted from them, and a cloud enveloped Him and He disappeared from their sight. And while they stood looking up into heaven as He was ascending, suddenly two men in white apparel appeared who said: «Ye men of Galilee, why do you stand and gaze up into heaven? This same Jesus Who is ascending up from you into heaven, shall come in the same manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.»
  Then the disciples returned to Jerusalem to where the Mother of God and the myrrh-bearing women were in prayer. In the Gospel  of Mark it is written that upon ascending to heaven, the Lord sat upon the right side of  God the Father, i.e., that the human soul and body of Jesus Christ took on the same glory  as His Divinity.
  Ascending to heaven, Jesus Christ promised to always be on earth invisibly among those who believe in Him.