“With us everything should be secondary compared to our concern with children, and their upbringing in the instruction and teaching of the Lord.” – St. John Chrysostom
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
CChrist is risen! I find it such a blessing that our church has so many children. I recently ran across a project where the children, with the help of their parents, did research on their baptismal name saints. With father Iulian’s help, maybe we can help our children learn about their patron saints, and as a culmination of the project we can identify icons of those saint, to eventually donate them for the church. If you are interested, please contact me or father Iulian so we can discuss the details.
Your servant in God,
Article of the Day
Orthodox Practice – On Going to Church
Translated from Perviye Shagi v Pravoslavnom Khrame (First Steps in the Orthodox Church), Deacon Vladimir Sidorov, Moscow, 1991, as edited in Blagovestnik, San Francisco, CA, June 1993.
He who attends church only infrequently sorely deprives himself. Those parents who do not see to it that their children go to church commit a terrible sin. Remember the words of the Saviour: Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20).
Here on our sinful earth the holy church is a place where one can take refuge from the storms of life. The church is an image of heaven on earth, where the Master of heaven and earth Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, is mystically and inscrutably present. In church, as it says in one of the hymns, “the powers of heaven serve invisibly.”
A church may rightly be called a school of faith and piety. St. John of Kronstadt wrote in his diary, “In the church, in its design and its various parts, in the Divine services-with the reading of the Scriptures, the singing, the rituals-the entire Old and New Testament histories, the entire history of the Church, the whole economy of man’s salvation is vividly sketched out, as on a map, in its particulars and its general features.”
What does a Christian learn in church? Heavenly wisdom, which the Son of God, Jesus Christ, brought to earth. Here he will learn the details of the Saviour’s earthly life, he will become acquainted with the lives and teachings of the saints-those who pleased God; he will participate in the Church’s prayer. And the communal prayer of the faithful is a great power! How to Behave in Church
Enter the church with spiritual joy. Remember that the Saviour Himself promised to comfort you in your sorrows: Come to Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I shall give you rest (Matt. 11:28).
Always enter with humility and meekness that you might leave the church justified, like the humble publican of the Gospel.
When you enter the church and see the holy icons, reflect upon the fact that the Lord Himself and all the saints are looking at you; this should inspire in you a feeling of profound reverence and fear of God.
Upon entering the church make three bows (on weekdays, three prostrations) with the sign of the Cross, praying, “O God, cleanse me a sinner and have mercy on me.”
At the Divine Liturgy the faithful submit names of relatives and friends for commemoration, for the health of those living and, on a separate slip, for the repose of those departed (baptized Orthodox Christians only). The names should be written legibly and as they were given at holy baptism, i.e., no nicknames. Any number of names can be submitted, although a priest will tend to read a shorter list with greater attention-and more prayerfully. It is therefore preferable, when possible, to rotate shorter lists than to leave a long list to be commemorated each Sunday. Church candles should be treated reverently: they are a symbol of our burning prayer before the Lord, before His Mother and the saints. It is good if you have an accustomed place to stand in church. Take your place quietly. As you cross in front of the royal doors, pause and bow your head, making the sign of the cross. If your place is occupied, don’t make an issue of it and find another spot to stand this time. Come to church in time for the beginning of the service. If it happens that you are late, take care not to disturb those already at prayer. Should you come during the reading of the Six Psalms or the Gospel, or during the Eucharistic Canon (from “A mercy of peace…” through “We praise Thee…”), stand at the entrance doors until these important parts of the service are concluded.
During the service try not to walk about the church, even to put up a candle. One should likewise venerate icons before the beginning of the service or afterwards, or at designated times such as during the anointing at vigil services. All movement should be avoided during those parts of the service which call for special concentration in prayer, as for example at the Entrances, during the reading of the Gospel and the Cherubic Hymn, the bringing out of the chalice with the Holy Gifts, and, at the vigil service, during the Magnificat and the Great Doxo-logy.
In church, do not talk; pray. Don’t look around at others; direct all your thoughts to God and to the Divine Service. If someone greets you in church, acknowledge this with a silent bow of the head; don’t shake hands, even with a close acquaintance, and don’t enter into any conversation.
In the Orthodox Church the practice is to stand during services; only persons who are ill or feeble are permitted to sit down, although during especially important parts of the service-the reading of the Gospel, for example-they, too, should stand.
When the priest or deacon is censing the church, one should move out of the way and, as he passes by, bow the head (without making the sign of the cross). One should likewise bow when the priest says, “Peace unto all,” and when he blesses the faithful with the Gospel. At the consecration of the Holy Gifts (at the prayer “We praise Thee…”), after the hymn “It is meet…”, after the Lord’s Prayer, and at the bringing out of the chalice one should make a full prostration. On Sundays and feastdays of the Lord, when prostrations are not appointed (and should NOT be made), they are replaced at these times by bows from the waist.
In church pray as a participant in the services, and not simply as someone in attendance, in such a manner that the prayers and hymns which are read and sung come from your heart. Follow the service attentively, joining in the prayers of the Church. Make the sign of the cross and bow together with everyone else. It is proper to cross oneself at the doxology of the Holy Trinity and Jesus Christ, during the petitions-at every ‘Lord, have mercy” and “Grant this, O Lord;” and likewise at the beginning and end of every prayer. One should make the sign of the cross and bow as one enters the church, in venerating an icon or placing a candle, and as one leaves the church. The cross should be made consciously and deliberately, without haste, for in doing so we appeal to the Lord’s mercy and grace.
If you come to church with children, see to it that they behave themselves; accustom them to prayer and reverence. If children need to leave in the middle of the service, tell them to cross themselves and go out quietly, or take them out yourself. If a young child starts crying, take him outside or into the foyer. Never allow a child to eat in church, except for the antidoron (at Liturgy) and blessed bread (at vigil) distributed by the priest. The faithful should be condescending towards children, recalling how the Lord enjoined parents to bring their children to Him. Take care not to speak sharply to them or act unkindly lest you drive them away from church.
Do not judge the inadvertent mistakes of those who are serving or in attendance; it is more beneficial to attend to one’s own shortcomings and ask the Lord to forgive one’s sins. If you see something that bothers your concentration, don’t get upset, but if you find you cannot dismiss the temptation, it’s better to move quietly to another place.
Before coming into the church, have your money for candles and the collection plate already prepared.
Never leave the church before the end of the service unless it is absolutely necessary; this is a sin before God. If it does happen, repent of it in confession.
According to a long-established practice, men should stand at the right of the church, and women at the left. The center aisle from the main entrance to the Royal Doors should be unoccupied.
In coming to church one should dress appropriately: clothing should be clean and unobtrusive. Tight pants, short dresses and low cut bodices are not permitted. Women should have their heads covered. When venerating icons and receiving the Holy Mysteries, they should not wear lipstick.
Avoid standing bodily in church while wandering outside the church in mind, and standing bodily before God while wandering about in spirit in worldly affairs, lest that saying be applied to you: This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me (Matt. 15:8). – St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
Above all, parishioners should have mutual love among themselves, a striving for spiritual life and an understanding of the contents of the services. If we come to God’s temple with reverence, if we are humble in our relations with the clergy and with one another, and if, while standing in church, we recognize that we are in heaven, then the Lord will fulfill all our requests and we will come close to Him.
Readings for the week
|Sunday||May 22nd||Luke 24:1-12
|Monday||May 23rd||Acts 10:1-16
|Tuesday||May 24th||Acts 10:21-33
|Wednesday||May 25th||Composite 8 – Isaiah 40, 41, 45, 48, 54
Composite 9 – Malachi 3, 4
Composite 3 – Wisdom 4, 5
2 Corinthians 4:6-15
|Thursday||May 26th||Acts 10:34-43
|Friday||May 27th||Acts 10:44-11:10
|Saturday||May 28th||Acts 12:1-11
PSALM 42 (41)
As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng and led them in procession to the House of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God! My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember Thee from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of Thy cataracts; all Thy waves and billows have gone over me. By day the Lord commands His steadfast love; and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my rock: “Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound to my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God! Amen.
Questions for older students
- Who stands up and walks on Pascha?
- What does Jesus ask the sick man in this gospel?
- What does Jesus tell the man in this gospel to do?
- Could the man do this before Jesus’ command?
- Why do you think we read about Jesus telling a man to get up and walk three weeks after celebrating that Jesus got up and walked?
- What does this suggest about what Jesus has done and is doing for us?
- What does this suggest Jesus is asking us every day?
- What does this suggest Jesus is telling us to do every day? 9. What does this suggest we need to do every day?
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While all children at any time are welcome to participate, it would greatly help us to have the
forms filled out for accountability purposes. We also have Stuartship cards next to them.