Although the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist is not one of the twelves great feasts of the Orthodox Church, nevertheless it is considered a great feast, as the Baptist was called by the Lord the greatest of men who had every been born. The feast commemorates several things. First of all, it is a day of great sorrow, that the holiest of men was put to death, not due to any fault of his won, but due to lust and envy. Also it signifies the death of a man who connected the Old Testament with the New. He himself stated that he had to become smaller while Christ would become greater.
The feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos has always been celebrated with great solemnity in the monastery. Traditionally, it has been tied into our St. Job of Pochaev Pilgrimages on Labor Day weekend, and even if the afterfeast of the Dormition ended before Labor Day weekend, we would still keep blue vestments and sing hymns of the Dormition together with the Pochaev Icon and St. Job.
The Holy Trinity Monastery has renewed the practice of serving the Lamentations and Burial of the Most Holy Theotokos in our monastery. Forty years ago, the English language mission of the monastery, served by Hieromonk Ioannikiy and then later the late Archpriest Laurence Girard served this service in English at the conclusion of the regular All-Night Vigil in the cathedral of the monastery. After a few years, unfortunately, the practice stopped.
There are antecedents of the Orthodox feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the Old Testament feast of the harvest. For this reason, it is the tradition to bless the first fruits on this feast which comes towards the end of the summer, at least in the northern hemisphere. Such was the influence of Orthodoxy on the common people in old Russia, that pious Christians would not eat any fruit until it had been blessed on this feast. In our world of supermarkets and globalization, when fruit can be purchased at any time of year, this has lost meaning among most people.
The Church year has four fasting periods, or periods of time of abstention from dairy products and all other animal products. Occasionally fish or seafood is allowed, depending on the strictness of the fast.
The clergy and parishioners of the Church of the Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon in Hartford, CT recently celebrated their patronal feast day. Bishop Luke of Syracuse, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, came to share in the joy of the feast. Praying alongside the hierarch on Saturday, August 8, at All-Night Vigil and on Sunday, August 9, at Divine Liturgy were parish rector Dionysy Nalitov and Protodeacon Peter Markevich (cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, accompanying His Grace).
On July 28 (N.S.), the feast of Equal-to-the-Apostles, Grand Prince Vladimir, His Grace, Bishop Luke, our abbot, presided at the hierarchal liturgy. During the Liturgy, after the consecration of the Holy Gifts, Vladyka ordained to the deaconate, Subdeacon Paul Siewers, from the ROCOR mission of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Fr. Deacon Paul then remained in the monastery for two weeks to practice, serving every day with the monastery clergy.
Since its inception as a feast in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, after their canonization by the Church, the memory of the Royal Martyrs of Russia, has been solemnly kept by the monastery.
The Honourable Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
His Eminence Kyrill Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America
in light of the decree issued by the Governor of California
that forbids choral singing in churches.
I hereby express my protest against the recent prohibition of liturgical singing in houses of worship, which is an infringement of the rights and religious freedoms of the clergy and faithful of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Diaspora, the other Local Orthodox Churches, performing their ministry in this state, as well as other religious bodies.
On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, July 12 (N.S.), which also was a Sunday this year, the monastery brotherhood had the joy of the tonsure to the sub deaconate of one of our own, Monk Paisios. He was tonsured during the Hours by our abbot, His Grace, Bishop Luke.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today, God lies in the tomb, not as one dead, but as one resting from the completion of a great work. In the silence of this great and holy day, Our Lord keeps His Sabbath, having rendered a new creation by the work of His mighty hands.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Holy is the Lord our God!
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us!
These and many other prayers and sacred writings characterize God as holy and the source of holiness.
The salvific struggle of the Son of God is completed, “In the grave bodily, but in Hades with Thy soul as God; in Paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit wast Thou Who fillest all things, O Christ the Inexpressible.”
Time and place disappear in the Grace-filled experience of the Body of Christ, the Church and the life of Orthodox Christians. However, God choose to be born in the flesh and to truly suffer and die so that He could work out our salvation though things of this world, beginning with His flesh and Blood and continuing to sanctify us through everything the Church offers us. He beckons us to receive into our bodies, to venerate, to touch the shroud before us, the incense we breathe, holy water, blessed salt, sanctified palms and pussy willows, myrrh from a streaming icon, our personal prayers, the sign of the cross, the struggle for virtue, the battle with sin, the endless invisible and visible means by which our Lord desires to commune with us and make us holy.
Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, piety is Orthodoxy, holiness in life, in everyday life where we commune with the Holy Spirit, Who is the Giver of Life, not death. Beware lest we fall into a carnal purely natural worldly understanding of these mysteries, which God has ordained, for our salvation. Empty religious forms will not satisfy our spirit and we will then seek pleasure and satisfaction in the passions, in endless worldly distractions, neo-idol worship. Be careful not to shake the simple hearted faith of those little ones among us by disinfecting the sacred, the Lord warns us about this. Yes it requires unshakable faith to move mountains, but our Creator tells us it is indeed possible. As we continue to repent, to grow in Christ, let us pray earnestly to God to forgive us for our weak faith, that He ever increase our faith so that we might put away sin, triviality, carnal thinking of the natural man, and enter into that which we are called, a life in the Holy Spirit, a spiritual life, and exclaim with St. David, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me but give me the Joy of Thy salvation!”
Dear members of Holy Trinity Monastery Community!
Based on the inspiration of the Eldress Agatha below, considering the difficulty of gathering at this time and having consulted with the fathers, the following suggestion is offered for blessing of Paschal baskets.
The first week of Great Lent finally arrived, after a time of Holy Nativity and Theophany celebrations with the blessing of houses, combined with the preparatory weeks before Lent.
On Sunday, March 1st, at 3PM, the large bell toned very solemnly as the brethren, seminarians, and pilgrims greeted His Grace, Vladyka Luke, who was then vested solemnly before the beginning of 9th Hours, followed by Great Vespers, served together with the monastery clergy.
On Sunday, March 8, the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Holy Church commemorates the triumph of Orthodoxy when the veneration of the holy icons was confirmed by the 7th Ecumenical Council. In Russia, it has been traditional in cathedrals to include with the service the so-called Anathema service. This service consists of reiterating the traditional dogmas of the Orthodox faith concerning the Orthodox belief in the Holy Trinity and the dual nature of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The feast of the Three Hierarchs traditionally is the feast day of Orthodox theological seminaries, and so it is for our Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary. For this feast day, our seminary is often visited by other hierarchs of our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, as it was this year, which made the feast even more solemn.
The feast of Theophany or Baptism of the Lord comes at the end of the so-called “Sviatsi,” or “Holy Days.” Following the typicon the Royal Hours were served on Friday morning with no liturgy, since the feast fell on Sunday. Saturday morning, on the Eve of Theophany, His Grace Bishop Luke served the divine liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which was followed immediately by Great Vespers for the feast of Theophany. This itself was immediately followed by a Great Blessing of Water in the monastery bell tower chapel. As is the monastery custom, one meal, strictly Lenten, was served after all the monastery and seminary quarters had been blessed with holy water.
Glory to God, the feast of the Holy Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour was celebrated with the usual solemnity and joy. For this we must be thankful to God and the efforts of the brethren and seminarians, who with diligence carried out all the usual preparations for the feast, by singing and reading in kleros, the preparation of the meals, the thorough cleaning of all the monastery and seminary buildings, and the reception and care of our many pilgrims.