Monday, July 31, 2006

August 1: Procession of the Honorable Wood of the Life-Giving Cross

The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: In the Greek Horologion of 1897 the derivation of this Feast is explained: "Because of the illnesses that occur in August, it was customary, in former times, to carry the Venerable Wood of the Cross through the streets and squares of Constantinople for the sanctification of the city, and for relief from sickness. On the eve (July 31), it was taken out of the imperial treasury, and laid upon the altar of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia (the Wisdom of God). From this Feast until the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, they carried the Cross throughout the city in procession, offering it to the people to venerate. This also is the Procession of the Venerable Cross."

In the Russian Church this Feast is combined also with the remembrance of the Baptism of Rus, on August 1, 988. In the "Account of the Order of Services in the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Great Church of the Dormition," compiled in 1627 by order of Patriarch Philaret of Moscow and All Rus, there is the following explanation of the Feast: "On the day of the Procession of the Venerable Cross there is a church procession for the sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all the towns and places." Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus was preserved in the Chronicles of the sixteenth century: "The Baptism of the Great Prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus was on August 1." In the present practice of the Russian Church, the Lesser Sanctification of Water on August 1 is done either before or after Liturgy. Because of the Blessing of Water, this first Feast of the Savior in August is sometimes called 'Savior of the Water." There may also be a Blessing of New Honey today, which is why the Feast is also called "Savior of the Honey." From this day the newly gathered honey is blessed and tasted.

(From the website of the Orthodox Church in America)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hospitality in the Orthodox Church

Fr Chris Metropulos, an Orthodox priest and radio host of "Come Receive the Light," offers these observations in his weekly newsletter for July 28, 2006:

"Here are three aspects of this Orthodox Way that will help us both welcome others with traditional Orthodox hospitality and preserve that which is truly foundational to our faith.

"First, this Orthodox Way Reveals. Orthodoxy is the fullness of the Christian faith, period. It is the spiritual hospital where the full potency of the Christian Gospel is preserved. An authentic Orthodox faith reveals both the divinely inspired parts of a culture and its weaknesses. Orthodoxy serves a nation best when it honestly critiques the culture of a nation. That is the blessing the faith brings to this nation. But it just doesn’t criticize, it also baptizes. There are parts of our culture that can be transformed by the faith into a vehicle of Orthodox faith. The culture offers us an unprecedented amount of freedom to practice our faith, and unparalleled economic and educational opportunities that allow us to both educate our young people and be philanthropic like no other people in the world.

"Second, this Orthodox Way Restores. Orthodoxy changes people and nations. It always has. In fact, one of the marks of authentic Orthodox faith is the changed behavior of people and governments. Orthodoxy calls men and women to a serious and sober Christian faith that restores them to what they were created to be – the sons and daughters of God. Orthodoxy uniquely gives men and women a tried and true path to spiritual maturity. This faith challenges us to mimic the life of Jesus Christ in actions and attitudes. This faith produces saints! No wonder spiritually weary Americans are seeking out and finding the mature and stable theology of Orthodoxy. Our challenge as a Church is to help them find “home,” be ready to receive them, and to integrate them into our growing family.

"Finally, this Orthodox Way Relates. Orthodoxy is about relationships - Our family, our nation, and our faith in God. Orthodoxy does not build walls but bridges. We seek out the lost, just like our Lord sought us out so we could enjoy right relationship with Himself and His Father. Orthodoxy always actively seeks out ways to bring this salvific message to friends and neighbors wherever the Church finds Herself. And Orthodoxy is no different in America than it is in any other nation. An authentic Orthodoxy works to make the faith available to “whosoever wills” to enter the faith. That’s why Jesus described the Church as a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. Orthodoxy is meant to be found by anyone who longs for the fullness of the Christian faith, even people who might not have had the happy accident of being born in a traditional Orthodox country.

"Our Orthodox faith is drawing the spiritually seeking people of this nation. This is a trend that will only increase. It isn’t going away and it isn’t something we will be able to stop. Thank God! God loves all people and He is drawing men and women to Himself from every ethnic background, even average Americans who really don’t know their ethnic backgrounds. Orthodoxy is becoming part of the fabric of America, and we rejoice in this exciting time to be alive and serving His Church."

Monday, July 24, 2006

St Boris and St Gleb, Passion-Bearers

St Boris was one of the sons of St Vladimir, and was named Romanus at his Baptism. After their father's death the eldest son Sviatopolk planned to kill his brothers Boris, Gleb, and Yaroslav in order to seize power. He sent a message to Boris, pretending that he wished to live in peace with him, and to increase Boris's land holdings inherited from their father.

Some of Vladimir's advisers told Boris that he should take the army and establish himelf as ruler of Kiev. St Boris, however, said that he could never lift his hand against his own brother. Unfortunately, Sviatopolk was not so scrupulous. He came to the town of Vyshegorod to ask its leaders if they were loyal to him. They assured him that they were ready to die for him.

Sviatopolk sent assassins to the Alta to kill Boris, who already knew that his brother wanted him dead. When they arrived they heard him chanting psalms and praying before an icon of Christ. He asked the Lord to strengthen him for the suffering he was about to endure. He also prayed for Sviatopolk, asking God not to count this against him as sin.

Then he lay down upon his couch, and the assassins stabbed him with their lances, and also killed some of Boris's servants. Wrapping Boris in a cloth, they threw him onto a wagon and drove off with him. When Sviatopolk saw that he was still breathing, he sent some men to finish him off with swords. St Boris received the crown of martyrdom in 1015. He and his brother Gleb became known as Passion-Bearers, since they did not resist evil with violence.

(from the website of the Orthodox Church in America)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Saint of the Open Door

Today, the Church remembers St Maria Skobtsova, "the Saint of the Open Door," who died as a martyr in the Ravensbruck concentration camp in 1945.

An account of her remarkable life is available here.

"No amount of thought will ever result in any greater formulation than the three words, 'Love one another,' so long as it is love to the end and without exceptions."

- St. Maria Skobtsova

For more information about her life and witness, visit the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Meaning of History

A quotation from Fr Georges Florovsky:

The meaning of history consists in this — that the freedom of creation should respond by accepting the pre-temporal counsel of God, that it should respond both in word and in deed. In the promised double-naturedness of the Church the reality of created nature is affirmed at the outset. Creation is the other, another nature willed by God's good pleasure and brought forth from nothing by the Divine freedom for creation's own freedom's sake. It must conform itself freely to that creative standard by which it lives and moves and has its being. Creation is not this standard, and this standard is not creation. In some mysterious way, human freedom becomes a kind of "limitation" on the Divine omnipotence, because it pleased God to save creation not by compulsion, but by freedom alone. Creation is "other," and therefore the process of ascent to God must be accomplished by her own powers — with God's help, to be sure. Through the Church creaturely efforts are crowned and saved. And creation is restored to its fulness and reality. And the Church follows, or, rather, portrays the mystery and miracle of the two natures. As the Body of Christ, the Church is a kind of "plenitude" of Christ — as Theophan the Recluse says — "Just as the tree is the ‘plenitude’ of the seed." And the Church is united to Her Head. "Just as we do not ordinarily see iron when it is red-hot, because the iron's qualities are completely concealed by the fire," says Nicholas Cabasilas in his Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, "so, if you could see the Church of Christ in Her true form, as She is united to Christ and participates in His Flesh, then you would see Her as none other than the Lord's Body alone." In the Church creation is forever confirmed and established, unto all ages, in union with Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

(from "Creation and Creaturehood," in On Church and Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils

A Meditation on Hebrews 13:7-16

Today we remember the Fathers of the first six Ecumenical Councils, those pastor-bishops who met in various gatherings from the fourth to the seventh centuries to combat heresies and formulate canons, or rules, to guide the Church in holy living.

We honor these Fathers – indeed, we honor all the saints – because they are friends of Christ, because they show us Christ: Whom our lesson from Hebrews describes as the same yesterday, and today, and forever. The lesson also reminds us that it is all-too-easy to be swept away by diverse and strange teachings. I'm sure each of us could list more than a few strange teachings that we've encountered just in the last week!

The Fathers committed their lives, many of them as martyrs, to teaching clearly and faithfully the word of God. And so, we are called (again, in the words of our lesson from Hebrews) to consider carefully the outcome of their life and to imitate their faith. We are to follow their examples in never neglecting to do good and to share what we have, for such is the way of the fathers, the way of the saints, and such sacrifices are well-pleasing to God.
One of the reasons our churches are filled with icons is to aid us in this task. In worship we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, a tremendous company of those who teach us in word and deed the way of Christ.

Many of them were mistreated by the world. Like their Lord Christ, they met their end in dishonor, “dying outside the city,” far removed from fame or fortune. For here they had no lasting city, but rather they sought a city which is to come.

We remember them, we cling to their relics, we venerate their icons, because we know that they’re not simply dead and gone, buried and forgotten. We know that in Christ they live. Dwelling in the fullness of His presence, they are in a certain profound sense more alive than we are in our present struggles.

And so we ask their prayers, that our lives may become more deeply rooted in the life and love of Christ, just as theirs are. We remember them this day and every day. In the words of St. John of Damascus, who wrote in the eighth century:

“Let us carefully review the life of these men, and let us emulate their faith and love and hope and zeal and way of life, and endurance of sufferings and patience even to (the shedding of) blood, in order that we may be sharers with them in their crowns of glory.”


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Catechism of St Philaret of Moscow

A treasure of Orthodox teaching is the Cathechism of St Philaret of Moscow, who led the Russian Orthodox Church as Metropolitan in the early to mid-nineteenth century.

The great saint believed that it was his duty to educate and enlighten his flock about the Church's teachings and traditions. Therefore, he preached and wrote about how to live a Christian life, basing his words on the wisdom of the Holy Fathers. His 1823 CATECHISM has been an influential book in Russia and in other countries for nearly two hundred years.

It is available online through the generosity of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library of Calvin College by clicking here.

To navigate from page to page in the catechism, click the small page arrows that appear in the bars at the top or bottom of each page. The catechism includes over 600 questions on a variety topics essential to the Christian Faith.

Monday, July 10, 2006

AGAIN features Fr John Behr on Orthodox Unity

One of the great struggles facing Orthodoxy in America is the problem of jurisdictional unity. While the various canonical Orthodox groups share the One Faith and are in communion with one another and the Church through the ages, Orthodox Christians in North America are not organized in a way that reflects this unity.

The latest issue of AGAIN magazine, published by Conciliar Press, features a series of articles addressing various aspects of this situation. An article by Fr John Behr, professor of Patristics at St Vladimir's Seminary, is especially worthy of note:

ONE IN CHRIST: An Historical Look
By Fr John Behr

That we are to become one, as Christ is one with His Father, is our Lord’s own prayer (John 17:11). This movement towards unity applies to many areas of our lives as Christians: husband and wife are to become one flesh (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5), we are each to become one spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17), and, in the petition of the Great Litany, we pray for the welfare and unity of all the churches of God.

This unity, in a very real sense, is a gift and is already given: in the sacrament of marriage, the bride and the groom become one; in baptism we put on the identity of Christ, becoming His body; and in the Creed we confess our belief in “one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” Yet in the case of marriage and putting on Christ, we also have to work on ourselves—or more specifically die to ourselves—to receive the gift fully. Is this also the case with regard to the unity of the Church?

(Read it all by clicking here)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

St. Andrew Rublev Commemorated July 4

Saint Andrew Rublev, Russia's greatest iconographer, was born near Moscow sometime between 1360 and 1370. While still very young, he went to the Holy Trinity Monastery, and was profoundly impressed by St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25).

After the death of St Sergius in 1392, St Nikon (November 17) succeeded him as igumen. St Andrew became a novice in the monastery under St Nikon. Sometime before 1405 he moved to the Spaso-Andronikov Monastery founded by St Andronicus (June 13), with the blessing of St Nikon.There St Andrew received monastic tonsure and was taught iconography by Theophanes the Greek and the monk Daniel, St Andrew's friend and fellow-ascetic.

St Andrew is first mentioned in the Chronicles in 1405, when he, Theophanes, and Prochorus painted the cathedral of the Annunciation. His next important project, which he undertook with the monk Daniel, was to paint the frescoes in the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir in 1408. St Nikon of Radonezh asked St Andrew and Daniel to paint the new church in the reconstructed monastery of the Holy Trinity, which had been destroyed by the Tatars in 1408. At this time St Andrew painted his most famous icon: the Holy Trinity (actually, the Hospitality of Abraham). St Andrew fell asleep in the Lord between 1427-1430, and was buried in the Andronikov Monastery. He was over seventy years old at the time of his death. The monk Daniel, who died before St Andrew, appeared to his friend and urged him to join him in eternal blessedness.

(icon and text from the website of the Orthodox Church in America)

Service Schedule

Unless otherwise noted in a blog post,

Vespers will be served each month on the second and fourth Saturday evenings at 5:00 PM.

Catechism for adults at 9:00 AM on Sunday morning (except the first Sunday of the month).

The Hours (preparatory prayers) are read on Sunday morning at 9:45 AM.

Divine Liturgy is served on Sunday morning at 10:00 AM.

Please note: On the first Sunday of each month, we are beginning a children's Sunday School program at 9:00 AM. This will commence the first Sunday in October, 2009.

As of June 1, 2008, the Church is meeting at 8775 Jefferson Highway, Suite E, in Baton Rouge. This is in Country Club Shadows between Essen and Drusilla.

Click here for a map.

Look for our ad in the Saturday Advocate, and visit the Church's blog at

Saturday, July 01, 2006


... power!

After almost two weeks of coordinating faxes and inspections from plumbers and the Department of Public works, we've been granted a certificate of occupancy!

As of Friday afternoon, St. Matthew Orthodox Mission has electricity! Power! DYNAMIS!

Glory to God for all things!

Much of today, Saturday, will be spent doing heavy lifting, arranging tables and chairs, bookshelves, etc. We'll set out the first small installment of our inventory from St Vladimir's Seminary Press. More inventory from Conciliar Press will be arriving in the next week or so.

Around sundown today, we'll plan to say the Trisagion prayers rather than the fuller Vespers Service.

We will gather for Typika tomorrow, Sunday July 2, at 10 AM at 15959 Hewwood Avenue, Suite F, which is located in Wedgewood Village off O'Neal Lane just south of Interstate 12.

Click here for a map. Because we didn't have the certificate until Friday, we weren't able to get an ad in the newspaper. It will be small, but joyous.

Fr Justin Patterson will be visiting next weekend -- July 8-9 -- for full Vespers and Divine Liturgy. Look for the announcement in the Baton Rouge Advocate's Religion section next week.

Share the news! Browse the book and icon shop!

And please remember us in your prayers!