August is a pivotal month in our calendar at Holy Transfiguration. For one thing, many of our members are home from summer vacations, and the new school year begins, which affects so many of our families.
August is also the last month of the Ecclesiastical Year, and is a rich spiritual time. The Dormition Fast begins on August 1 and continues until the feast day on the 15th. It is sometimes called “The Summer Pascha” and is stricter than the Advent Fast and the Apostles’ Fast, although it is fairly brief.
At Holy Transfiguration we will be celebrating two of the great Feasts of the Church during the first half of August. The Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration on August 6 is the Patronal Feast, or Name Day, of our parish. It falls on a Thursday this year, and we will celebrate it with the Divine Liturgy at 7 a.m. that day. The Feast of the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Mother of God is for Orthodox Christians one of the highlights of the liturgical year, and it falls on a Saturday this time, so we will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. Please plan to take part!
Please join us this Thursday at 7 pm for the Divine Liturgy as we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory, / Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. / Through the blessing they were assured / That You are the Son of God, / The Redeemer of the world!
Please join us this Wednesday evening as we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation. Divine Liturgy begins at 7 pm.
Today is the beginning of our salvation, The revelation of the eternal mystery! The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin. As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace. Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, The Lord is with You!
“Of all the Lenten rules, one is unique to Orthodoxy, and so gives us a key to its liturgical spirit: it forbids the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on weekdays in Lent, as incompatible with fasting, the sole exception being the Feast of the Annunciation. But so as not to deprive the faithful of “the food of immortality”, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is prescribed, that is, a “Eucharistic synaxis” without the Consecration. The festal nature of the Eucharist is thus reserved for Saturdays and Sundays in Lent, while on the days of total fasting, Wednesdays and Fridays, the people receive the Holy Gifts that were sanctified on the previous Sunday.
The Presanctified was from the start an evening service, Communion following Vespers, to be conducted after the Ninth Hour, i.e. three o’clock in the afternoon. The daylong fast was thus broken early in the evening, much as the total fast on Sunday is broken after Communion. It is likely that this service was not always confined to Lent, but was common to all of the Church’s fasting seasons. However, permeated as it is with the “bright sadness” of Lent, it has taken on a special beauty and solemnity. As we pray for the Catechumens, those being made ready for Holy Baptism on Easter Saturday, we sense a direct connection with the Christian Church of the early centuries, and understand the initial character of Lent as preparation for Baptism and for Easter.”
Please do not limit our Lenten journey together to only Sundays! Experience the fullness of the Lenten fast by joining with us on Wednesday evenings, beginning at 7 pm, for Presanctified Liturgy.
But it is the Prayers of the Faithful that really illuminate the Lenten road, giving us a fuller understanding of the meaning and purpose of the Lenten discipline:
“Liberate all our senses from killing passion, setting over them as benevolent sovereign our inner reason. Let the eye be averted from every evil sight, and the ear be deaf to idle talk. May the tongue be purged of unseemly speech. Purify these lips that praise You, Lord. Make our hands abstain from wicked deeds, doing only such things as are pleasing to You, thus sealing with Your grace all our members, and our mind.”
As we make our final preparations for Great Lent, please make plans to join with us this Sunday for Divine Liturgy. At the end of service, we will begin the Forgiveness Vespers. Here is a description of this beautiful service:
“After the dismissal at Vespers, the priest stands beside the analogion, or before the ambon, and the faithful come up one by one and venerate the icon, after which each makes a prostration before the priest, saying, “Forgive me, a sinner.” The priest also makes a prostration before each, saying, “God forgives. Forgive me.” The person responds, “God forgives,” and receives a blessing from the priest. Meanwhile the choir sings quietly the irmoi of the Paschal Canon, or else the Paschal Stichera. After receiving the priest’s blessing, the faithful also ask forgiveness of each other.”
Also note that next week we will begin the Lenten Pre-Sanctified Liturgies. They begin every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
O Master, Guide to wisdom, Giver of prudent counsel, Instructor of the foolish and Champion of the poor, make firm my heart and grant it understanding. O Word of the Father, give me words, for see, I shall not stop my lips from crying out to Thee: I am fallen, in Thy compassion have mercy on me.
Please join us this Sunday for Orthros and Divine Liturgy as we begin to prepare our hearts and minds for Great Lent. This week is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. Also, note that there will be no service on February 2nd, for the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.
Orthros: 9 a.m.
Divine Liturgy: 10 a.m.
Let us flee the proud speaking of the Pharisee and learn the humility of the Publican, and with groaning let us cry unto the Savior: Be merciful to us, for Thou alone art ready to forgive.