Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Preparing for the Entrance

Dear Parish Faithful,

This year, the third of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church year - The Entrance of the Theotokos Into the Temple - will fall on this coming Sunday, November 21. This gives us the opportunity to celebrate the Feast in a truly festal manner, with most of the parish present and participating. Yet this also means that the Great Vespers introducing the feast will be on this coming Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. The Great Vespers on the eve of a feast is even fuller, with the special hymnography and the blessing of the loaves and anointing with oil at the end. This liturgical cycle - though we don't serve the festal Matins - allows for a full expression of the Church's life as one "feast" that introduces us into the life of salvation, redemption and glorification. This is the gift of God's saving grace in Christ experienced in the Church.

I encourage everyone to make a point of experiencing our parish celebration of this Feast of the Mother of God in all of its fulness. Add to that fulness with your prayerful presence at Great Vespers. Come and receive the blessed bread and be anointed with the "oil of gladness." If it is simply a matter of other distractions or interests that may entice you away, put aside such temptation, and come to the church and worship with the angels and your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you are tired, recall the words of Christ: "Come to me, all who are tired and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (MATT. 11:28). As we just heard St. John Chrysostom preach: "The Church is the foundation of virtue and the school of spiritual life. Just cross its threshold at any time, and immediately you forget daily cares. Pass inside, and a spiritual ray will surround your soul."

Lately, we have had better attendance at the Saturday evening Great Vespers, so this feast can add to that momentum.

Fr. Steven

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