Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Sunday of Meatfare of the Last Judgment

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Bishop Daniel’s Message for February

Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,

The month of February, in addition to leading us into the Great Fast, is also marked by the Saint Valentine Day holiday, an annual observance which celebrates romantic love and which is observed with lovely hearts, flying cupids, and written sentiments in Valentine cards and which provides an increase in seasonal business for florists and confectioners.  However, in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke, the Lord exhorts us to practice a love that is not romantic, but to exercise a love that is committed and challenging.  Indeed, Luke 6:27-38 concerns a central point that characterizes Christian life: love for enemies. Jesus’ words here are clear: “I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (vv. 27-38). And this is not an option or a simple suggestion.  Rather, it is a command. It is not for everyone, but for the disciples, whom Jesus calls “you that hear.” He is well aware that loving enemies exceeds our possibilities, but this is why he became man: not to leave us as we are, but to transform us into men and women capable of a greater love, that of his Father and ours. This is the love that Jesus gives to those who “hear him.” Thus it becomes possible! With him, thanks to his love, to his Spirit, we are able to love even those who do not love us, even those who do us harm.

In this way, Jesus wants His love to triumph over hatred, bitterness, and malice in every heart. The logic of love, which culminates in Christ’s Cross, is a Christian’s identification badge and reminds us to meet everyone with the heart of brothers and sisters. But how is it possible to overcome human instinct which invites us to retaliation? Jesus provides the answer in the same Gospel passage: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). Those who hear Jesus, who make an effort to follow him even at a cost, become children of God, and begin to truly resemble the Father who is in heaven. We become capable of things we never thought we could say or do, and of which we would have been rather ashamed, but which now give us joy and peace instead. We no longer need to be violent, with words and gestures: we discover that we are capable of tenderness and goodness; and we sense that all of this comes not from ourselves but from him! And thus we do not brag about it but are grateful for it.

There is nothing greater and more fruitful than love: it bestows all dignity to the person, while, on the contrary, hatred and vengeance decrease it, marring the beauty of the creature made in God’s image.

This command, to respond to insult and wrongdoing with love, has created a new culture in the world: “a culture of mercy” — we need to learn this well! It is the Christian revolution, a revolution of love, in which the protagonists are the martyrs of all times. And Jesus assures us that our Christian life, inspired by love for those who do us harm, will not be in vain. He tells us: “forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you” (vv. 37-38). This is beautiful. God will give us something beautiful if we are generous, merciful. We must forgive because God has forgiven us and always forgives us. If we do not forgive completely, we cannot expect to be forgiven completely. However, if our hearts are open to mercy, if we seal forgiveness with a brotherly embrace and secure the bonds of communion, we proclaim to the world that it is possible to overcome evil with good. At times it is easier for us to remember the harm they have done to us and not the good things; to the point that there are people who have this habit and it becomes a sickness. They only remember the bad things done. And this is not a path we want to follow. We must do the opposite, Jesus says. Remember the good things, and when someone comes with some gossip, and speaks ill of another, say: “Yes, perhaps ... but he has this good quality...” Turn the discussion around. This is the revolution of mercy.

May the Holy Theotokos help us to let our heart be touched by this holy word of Jesus, burning like fire, that it may transform us and make us able to do good without reciprocation, doing good without reciprocation, witnessing everywhere to the victory of love.

Yours in the Lord,

+Bishop Daniel

Upcoming Calendar
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    Feb

    Saturday
    5:00 Great Vespers
  • 23

    Feb

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
  • 29

    Feb

    Saturday
    5:00 Great Vespers
    Fast: dairy, fish, wine, & oil
  • 1

    Mar

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
    Fast: dairy, fish, wine, & oil
  • 7

    Mar

    Saturday
    5:00 Great Vespers
    Fast: wine & oil
  • 8

    Mar

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
    Fast: wine & oil
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    Mar

    Saturday
    5:00 Great Vespers
    Fast: wine & oil
  • 15

    Mar

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
    Fast: wine & oil
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Saturday, March 14, 2020; 10am —3pm
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Holy Land Pilgrimage

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Oct. 26th - Nov. 3rd, 2020

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Pilgrimage to Alaska 2020

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Orthodox Church in America

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Visit of Metropolitam Tikhon - 11/03/2019

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On Sunday, August 4, 2019, His Grace Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa presided at the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in Moscow... Click here to view

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Parish News

February Newsletter

February Announcements
 
LENTEN RETREAT
This year we have the blessing of beginning Great Lent with a special retreat day on the first Saturday of Great Lent, March 7.  Our guest speaker will be Father Seraphim (Aldea), the founder of the Monastery of All Celtic Saints on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.  The day will begin with coffee and fellowship at 9:00 a.m.  Father Seraphim's first talk will begin at 10:00 a.m. The day will end at about 3:00 p.m.  Father Seraphim will also be the featured preacher at the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers to be hosted in our church the following day at 6:00 p.m.  His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin will preside at both the Divine Liturgy and Vespers on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

The Mission of The Orthodox Church in America, the local autocephalous Orthodox Christian Church, is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

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The Holy Scripture is a collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired by God to do so. It is the primary witness to the Orthodox Christian faith, within Holy Tradition and often described as its highest point. It was written by the prophets and apostles in human language, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and collected, edited, and canonized by the Church.

Daily Readings >

Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man's effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit.

Today's Saints >

Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Church
1614 E Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85006