From the desk of Fr. Andrew

August 2018

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Wednesday, August 15th, the Church will celebrate the feast day of the Falling Asleep of the Holy Theotokos. The prescribed two-week fast that precedes the feast day will end and a celebration will begin; a celebration that marks a new beginning, a new γέννησις (birth). Like our birthday marks the beginning of our earthly existence in this world, death marks the beginning of our spiritual existence beyond the grave. Therefore, on the fifteenth of August, we will celebrate the Falling Asleep of the Holy Theotokos with a Divine Liturgy in her honor.

With her freewill consent, the Theotokos agreed to bring forth the Savior of the world. Remember, His birth was going to be an unusual one, a birth that would radically change things forever. From day one the Theotokos would be faced with difficult challenges. Knowing that Joseph would question this unusual conception and the question of how a single mom in those days could raise the child all by herself had to have crossed her mind? Given her situation the possibility existed that Mary would be "put out" from the Jewish community and in those days, that could have meant a very difficult existence and even death.

From Matthew chapter two we can read more about some of the trials and tribulations that the Theotokos experienced because of her commitment. As part of her obligation, the Theotokos left her friends and family, and in the isolation of a cave gave birth to the "King of kings." Shortly after giving birth the Theotokos with the Christ child in her arms mounted a camel and fled Bethlehem heading toward Egypt. We do not hear much more about the Theotokos until we find her at the foot of the cross with her Son. From the cradle to the grave the Theotokos was there, diligently fulfilling her commitment to God.

When we stop to ponder the commitment of the Theotokos we cannot ignore what an awesome commitment it was. She truly committed herself and her whole life to Christ our God and that is one major reason why the Church holds her in such high esteem and prays through her. She was told early on by Simeon that ...a sword will pierce through your soul also... (Luke 2:35). Simeon was waiting in the temple ...looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him... (Luke 2:25). From day one, as the angel made its announcement, Mary knew that something extra ordinary and even great was about to happen, but she was also being told (by Simeon) that a life of sacrifice would be required from her, sacrifice she was ready and willing to make. From the cradle to the grave the Theotokos was there, diligently fulfilling her commitment to God.

Specifically, during the prescribed two week fast that precedes the celebratory Divine Liturgy offered on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 the Church gives us the opportunity(ies) to pray for your health and wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of friends and family members. It is a custom of the Orthodox Church to chant and pray the Paraklesis Service beseeching the Theotokos throughout the two week fast (the Fifteen Days of August: Aug. 1-14) for health and wellbeing. The Paraklesis services will be offered both in the daytime (10:00am) and evening (6:30pm) hours:

DAYTIME - Friday, August 3rd and Friday, August 10th

EVENING - Wednesday, August 1st and Wednesday, August 8th

This is a wonderful opportunity to pray through the Theotokos, beseeching Christ our God, through her love and commitment, for the health and wellbeing for ourselves and our loved ones as well.

God's continued blessing, +Fr. Andrew