Monday, July 27, 2009

Pascha in the Summer

Dear Parish Faithful,

"Pascha in the Summer" is how we can describe the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Feast itself is on August 15, but we are now fast approaching the Dormition Fast (August 1-14) that leads us to the "paschal joy" of the translation of the Mother of God to the Kingdom of Heaven. A great Feast is always prepared for by a designated season of fasting. This is our communal and personal response to the "dog days" of summer and the lack of spiritual vigilance that this time of year tempts us with. A wonderful opportunity that we do not want to squander of "getting back on track" in and through the grace-filled life of the Church. And in addition to Dormition, we celebrate the "Feast of Divine Beauty" - the Transfiguration of the Lord - as a festal interlude during the Fast on August 6.

The two weeks of August 1-14, will be quite filled with church services and other events that will hopefully bring this season alive for the entire parish. Here is the schedule that will unfold once we begin the Fast a week from this Saturday:

SAT. 1st Beginning of Dormition Fast
Great Vespers & Confessions at 6:00 p.m.

SUN. 2nd Divine Liturgy at 9:30 a.m.

MON. 3rd Adult Reading Group at 7:30 p.m. Parts V & VI of Crime and Punishment

WED. 5th Vesperal Liturgy & Blessing of Fruit for Transfiguration at 6:00 p.m.

SAT. 8th Great Vespers & Litiya at 6:00 p.m.

SUN. 9th St. Herman of Alaska - Divine Liturgy at 9:30 a.m.
High School Film Festival at 5:00 p.m. (Markvan home)

MON. 10th Adult Reading Group at 7:30 p.m. Epilogue and Film of Crime and Punishment (Leara home)

WED. 12th Service of Intercessory Prayer at 7:00 p.m.
Question & Answer Session to follow

FRI. 14th Vesperal Liturgy for Dormition at 6:00 p.m.

This should allow everyone some time to plan ahead. The main thing is to respect the Mother of God by respecting the Fast that is observed in Her honor. What is first in our lives: the Church or the surrounding culture? Here is a good starting point for evaluating that question.

Reading List for the Dormition Fast:

  • Mary, the Mother of God, Sermons by St. Gregory Palamas
  • Celebration of Faith vol. III: The Virgin Mary by Fr. Alexander Schemmann
  • The Orthodox Veneration of Mary, the Birthgiver of God, by St. John Maximovich
  • Mary - The Untrodden Portal of God by George Gabriel
  • On the Dormition of Mary - Various Patristic Homilies on the Feast, ed. by Daley
  • On the Mother of God by Jacob of Serug
  • Wider Than Heaven - Eighth Century Homilies on the Mother of God, ed. and translated by Mary Cunningham

These books are all readily available from various Orthodox bookstores. We have links to all these titles, plus numerous online articles, in a new section on our parish website, Resources for the Dormition Fast, that you may also want to look at.

In Christ,

Fr Steven

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