Sunday of the Last Judgement – Tone 1
Apostles Archippus and Philemon, with the Martyr Apphias (1st cent.)
Liturgy: 1 Corinthians 8:8-9:2; Matthew 25:31-46
CONGRATULATIONS AND MANY YEARS to the Newly-Illumined Servant of God George Straub, who was baptized yesterday, and to his family!
COFFEE HOUR FOR THIS SUNDAY will be a potluck in celebration of Meatfare Sunday. Please feel free to bring a favorite dish to celebrate this day.
THIS WEEK IS “CHEESE WEEK.” Fish, eggs and dairy products are permitted each day this week, including Wednesday and Friday, concluding with Cheesefare Sunday next Sunday.
SPECIAL LENTEN SERVICES – This year, God willing, we are hoping to have special weekday services for Lent. On Wednesday evenings, we will celebrate the Presanctified Liturgy at 7:00 p.m., followed by a fasting potluck supper. On Friday evenings we will have the service of Small Compline with a section of the Akathist Hymn (Salutations) to the Theotokos, also at 7:00 p.m. Please consider joining us for these services, which will begin on March 1.
SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM KEN NICKOLAS: In keeping with our dedication to St. Cyril, I am asking for volunteers to assist Arthur Hall with setting up the church. This is an easy but serious task. How our church looks is very important for us as a parish. It’s a statement on how we love God as well as a statement to our visitors and future members. This is open to all, female, male, as well as our youth. If you can give up an hour or so on a Friday night please see me or Arthur. We understand that you may not be able to volunteer every week, so what would be great is having a couple of teams that can set up maybe every other week. Also it would be great to know that there are a few parishioners that know how to set the church up in the event Arthur nor I can. Thank you.
LENTEN RETREAT – St. Joseph Orthodox Church is sponsoring a talk titled “Be Who You Are in the Body of Christ” by Mother Melania (Salem), the superior of Holy Annunciation Monastery in Calistoga, California, a monastery of the Orthodox Church in America. This will be held on Saturday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with lunch served an noon. Registration is $30 per person. See attached flyer for more details.
VISIT BY BISHOP ALEXANDER – Looking several months ahead, we are scheduled to receive a visit by our bishop, His Grace Bishop Alexander, on the weekend of November 11 and 12. Also, the chancellor of our diocese, Fr. Marcus Burch, is hoping to come for a visit with us on one of the weekends in May.
Prayers: Maia, Elena; George; Chris; Alexander and Helen; Presbytera Mary; Arthur Hall Sr.; Constantin Ardeleanu (in Indiana). Catechumens and Inquirers: Cathy, Gail, Nolan, Tharin.
Departed: Newly Departed Priest Ignatius; Michael and Maria; Alexis; Alexia.
SPECIAL DAYS – Let Fr. Benedict know if there are any additions.
Feb. 19 MEATFARE SUNDAY – last day for eating meat
Feb. 26 FORGIVENESS SUNDAY – last day before Great Lent
THE STORY OF GRUSHENKA’S ONION
It’s only a story, but it’s a nice story. I used to hear it when I was a child from Matryona, my cook, who is still with me. It’s like this. Once upon a time there was a peasant woman, and a very wicked woman she was. And she died and did not leave a single good deed behind. The devils caught her and plunged her into the lake of fire. So her guardian angel stood and wondered what good deed of hers he could remember to tell to God. “She once pulled up an onion in her garden,” said he, “and gave it to a beggar woman.” And God answered: “You take that onion then, hold it out to her in the lake, and let her take hold and be pulled out. And if you can pull her out of the lake, let her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.”
The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her. “Come,” said he, “catch hold and I’ll pull you out.” And he began cautiously pulling her out. He had just pulled her right out, when the other sinners in the lake, seeing how she was being drawn out, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But she was a very wicked woman and she began kicking them. “I’m to be pulled out, not you. It’s my onion, not yours.” As soon as she said that, the onion broke. And the woman fell into the lake and she is burning there to this day. So the angel wept and went away.
So that’s the story, Alyosha; I know it by heart, for I am that wicked woman myself. … I’ve done nothing but give away one onion all my life, that’s the only good deed I’ve done. — Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
The Lenten Fast – Comments by Fr. Thomas Hopko
A special word must be said about fasting during Lent. Generally speaking, fasting is an essential element of the Christian life. Christ fasted and taught men to fast. Blessed fasting is done in secret, without ostentation or accusation of others (Mt 6.16; Rom 14). It has as its goal the purification of our lives, the liberation of our souls and bodies from sin, the strengthening of our human powers of love for God and man, the enlightening of our entire being for communion with the Blessed Trinity.
The Orthodox rules for lenten fasting are the monastic rules. No meat is allowed after Meatfare Sunday, and no eggs or dairy products after Cheesefare Sunday. These rules exist not as a Pharisaic “burden too hard to bear” (Lk 11.46), but as an ideal to be striven for; not as an end in themselves, but as a means to spiritual perfection crowned in love. The lenten services themselves continually remind us of this:
Let us fast with a fast pleasing to the Lord. This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessation of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing. The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable (Monday Vespers of the First Week).
The lenten services also make the undeniable point that we should not pride ourselves with external fasting since the devil also never eats!
The ascetic fast of Great Lent continues from Meatfare Sunday to Pascha (Easter Sunday), and is broken only after the Paschal Divine Liturgy. Knowing the great effort to which they are called, Christians should make every effort to fast as well as they can, in secret, so that God would see and bless them openly with a holy life. Each person must do his best in the light of the given ideal.
In addition to the ascetic fasting of the lenten season, the Orthodox alone among Christians also practice what is known as eucharistic or liturgical fasting. This fasting does not refer to the normal abstinence in preparation for receiving the holy eucharist; it means fasting from the holy eucharist itself.
During the week days of Great Lent the regular eucharistic Divine Liturgy is not celebrated in Orthodox churches since the Divine Liturgy is always a paschal celebration of communion with the Risen Lord. Because the lenten season is one of preparation for the Lord’s Resurrection through the remembrance of sin and separation from God, the liturgical order of the Church eliminates the eucharistic service on the weekdays of Lent. Instead the non-eucharistic services are extended with additional scripture readings and hymnology of a lenten character. In order that the faithful would not be entirely deprived of Holy Communion on the lenten days, however, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated on Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Even during Great Lent, Saturday (the Sabbath Day) and Sunday (the Lord’s Day) remain eucharistic days, and the Divine Liturgy is celebrated. On Saturdays it is the normal Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, usually with prayers for the dead. On Sundays it is the longer Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.
The well-known teaching that Saturdays and Sundays are never days of fasting in the Orthodox Church, an issue emphasized centuries ago when controversy arose with the Latin Church, refers only to this eucharistic-liturgical fast. During Great Lent, even though the eucharistic fast is broken on Saturdays and Sundays, the ascetical fast continues through the weekends since this fasting is an extended effort made from Meatfare Sunday right to Pascha (Easter) itself.
A final exhortation to his flock before his death, from St. Sergius of Radonezh:
Promise me that you will be steadfast in Orthodoxy and to preserve oneness in mind with each other; keep pure in body and soul and to have un-hypocritical love; avoid all evil and carnal lusts; be moderate in food and drink; above all, be clothed with humility; not to forget love of strangers; avoid back-talk, and on no account to set value on honor and praise in this life, but rather to await reward from God in the joys of heaven and eternal blessings.
God does not punish someone in the future; rather, each person makes himself receptive to the partaking of God. And the partaking of God is bliss, while the non-partaking of Him is punishment (Hell)…” – St. John of Damascus
The sign of purity is: to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep; to be in pain with the sick and in anguish with the sinners; to rejoice with the repentant and to participate in the agony of those who suffer; to criticize no man and, in the purity of one’s own mind, to see all men as good and holy. – St. Justin Popovich
A brother asked one of the Fathers, “What shall I do? My thoughts are always turned to lust without allowing me an hour’s respite, and my soul is tormented by it.” He said to him, “Every time the demons suggest these thoughts to you, do not argue with them. For the activity of demons always is to suggest, and suggestions are not sins, for they cannot compel; but it rests with you to welcome them, or not to welcome them. Do you know what the Midianites did? They adorned their daughters and presented them to the Israelites. They did not compel anyone, but those who consented, sinned with them, while the others were enraged and put them to death. It is the same with thoughts.”
The brother answered the elder, “What shall I do, then, for I am weak and passion overcomes me?” He said to him, “Watch your thoughts, and every time they begin to say something to you, do not answer them but rise and pray; kneel down, saying, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.'”
Be full of goodness, free from envy, devout, self-restrained, gentle, as generous as possible, kindly, and peaceable. For to conform to God through such qualities, and not to judge anyone or to say that he is wicked and has sinned, is to render the soul inviolate. – St. Anthony the Great