Sunday, June 23, 2024

Holy Pentecost

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June 2024

Christ is Risen!

Indeed He is Risen!

As we begin the month of June, there are two very important feasts that are coming up in this month. First, the Feast of Ascension which is the 40th day after Pascha and the Pentecost which is 10 days later.

The Feast of Ascension brings the end of Christ’s preaching and teaching on the face of the earth. He was crucified and then 40 days later Ascended to heaven after He triumphed over death.

In this world, we probably have come to know that the outward triumph doesn’t carry as much weight as the most important and that is the inward triumph. The outward triumph will be given to Christ’s Church at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The example of spiritual, inner victory is the life of Christ Himself. Outwardly He was defeated, crucified like an evil-doer and thief. But He accomplished the main thing for which He came into the world—His triumph over death; and showed us the path that we are to take. The Lord’s path should be the path that we all wish to be on.

Before Christ ascends He promises to send the Comforter If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you… But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

And this brings us to Pentecost, the Birthday of Christ’s Church on earth. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the    Apostles in the form of fiery tongues. And when we are Baptized into the church we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we too become enlivened by the Holy Spirit, and take the love of Christ to the world.

Father Mikel

Some Things You Should Know While in Church  -- Church Etiquette

Standing vs. Sitting in Church

The traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Orthodox Church has been to stand. In the Orthodox "old countries", there are usually no pews in the churches. Chairs or benches on the side walls are usually reserved for the elderly and infirm. In North America, we have tended to build our churches with pews, and since we have them, we need to figure out when we may sit and when we should stand. First of all, it is fully acceptable (even preferable) to stand for the entire service. When should you definitely stand? Always at the beginning of the Liturgy (“Blessed is the Kingdom…”) when the deacon or priest is censing, during the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the Anaphora (i.e. from “Let us stand aright, let us stand with fear…”), when the Chalice is brought out for the distribution of Holy Communion, whenever the priest gives a blessing, and the Dismissal. When in doubt, stand.

Lighting Candles

Lighting candles is an important part of Orthodox worship. We light them as we pray, making an offering to accompany our prayers. Orthodox typically light candles when coming into the church - and that is usually the best time to light them, but there are times when candles should not be lit. It is not proper to light candles during the Epistle or Gospel readings, during the Little or Great Entrances, the sermon, and most of the times when the faithful are standing. If you find yourself arriving to church after the Liturgy has begun, a good rule of thumb to remember is - if everyone is standing, wait until they are sitting to light a candle (unless they are sitting for the sermon, of course).

Entering the Church (Late)

The time to arrive at church is before the service starts, but for some unknown reason, it has become a very bad habit for some to come to church late. If you arrive after the Divine Liturgy begins, try to enter the church quietly - and observe what is happening. If the Epistle or Gospel is being read or the Little or Great Entrance is taking place, wait until it is finished to quickly find a seat. If Father is giving the sermon, stay in the back until he has concluded. If in doubt, check with one of the ushers to see if it is a good time to seat yourself. Try not to interrupt the Liturgy by your tardiness. The best way to avoid this problem is to arrive on time - then you don't have to wonder if it's okay to come in or not.

Crossing your Legs?

In some Orthodox cultures, crossing one's legs is taboo and considered to be very disrespectful. In our North American culture, while there are no real taboos concerning crossing one's legs, we tend to cross our legs to get comfortable while sitting. Should we cross our legs in church? No. Not because it is "wrong" to ever cross legs, but rather because it is too casual - and too relaxed - for being in church. Just think about it, when you get settled in your favorite chair at home, you lean back, cross your legs, and then your mind can wander anywhere it wants to. Remember that sitting in church is a concession, not the normative way of prayer. You surely don't want to get too relaxed and let your mind wander off too much. In fact, when you do sit in church, you should sit attentively - and not too comfortably. When sitting in church, keep those feet on the floor, ready to stand at attention (which is what "Let us attend" means). Cross yourself with your fingers and hand - but don't cross your legs!

In and Out and Back in Again

On some Sundays, it almost seems like we have a revolving door in the back of the church - and it is used by both children and adults. Use the restroom before coming to church. You shouldn't need to get a drink of water during the service (especially if you are taking Communion!). Don't come to church to go to the fellowship hall - come to pray.

Taking restless little ones out is a different matter. If a child is overly fussy, take him/her quickly and quietly out of church, just long enough to settle him/her down, then return to Liturgy. Follow the rules for entering late: not during readings, sermons, or Entrances.

Blot that Lipstick!

Have you ever looked at an icon in just the right light and seen the lip prints all over it? Lipstick may look fine on lips, but it looks horrible on icons, crosses, the Communion spoon and the priest's or bishop's hand. Icons have been ruined by lipstick; and even though the cross can usually be cleaned after everyone venerates it, it just isn't considerate to others to impose your lipstick on them. What is the answer? If you wear lipstick to church, blot your lips well before venerating an icon, taking Communion, or kissing the cross or the priest's or bishop's hand.

Venerating Icons

When you enter the church, it is traditional to venerate the icons. When venerating (kissing) an icon, pay attention to where you kiss. It is not proper to kiss an icon in the face. You wouldn't go up and kiss the Lord or His mother on the lips, would you? You would kiss their hand, and only of they invited you would you even dare to kiss them on the cheek. Pay attention to what you are doing. When you approach and icon to venerate it, kiss the gospel, scroll, or hand cross in the hand of the person in the icon, or kiss the hand or foot of the person depicted. As you venerate and icon, show proper respect to the person depicted in the icon - the same respect you would show the person by venerating him or her in an appropriate place. And remember, blot off your lipstick before kissing.

Talking during Church

Isn't it great to come to church and see friends and family members? But wait until coffee hour to say "Hi" to them. It just isn't appropriate to greet people and have a conversation with them during the services. Besides being disrespectful towards God, it is rude towards the other people in the church who are trying to worship. Talk to God while in church through your prayers, hymns, and thanksgiving, and to your friends in the hall afterwards.

Greeting Clergy and Receiving a Blessing

The proper way to greet a priest or bishop is to ask his blessing and kiss his right hand.  How do you do this? Approach the priest or bishop with your right hand over your left hand and say "Father (or "Master" in the case of the bishop), bless." He will make the sign of the cross, and place his right hand over yours. This is much more appropriate (and traditional) than shaking their hands. When you kiss a priest’s or bishop’s hand, you show respect for their office - they are the ones who "bless and sanctify" and who offer the holy gifts on your behalf. So next time you greet your priest or bishop, don't shake his hand, ask for his blessing.

Sunday Dress

Remember the time when people put on their "Sunday best" to go to church? In fact, dress clothes were often referred to as Sunday clothes. In some parts of the country, this is not common today. In fact, all too often, dress in church has become too casual. In all areas of our lives, we should offer Christ our best. And the same is true of our dress. We should offer Christ our 'Sunday best", not our everyday or common wear. And we should dress modestly, not in a flashy way that would bring attention to ourselves. Our dress should always be becoming of a Christian - especially at church. Here are some specific guidelines we use in our parishes:

Children

Only young children (under 10) should wear shorts to church - and then only dress shorts. Athletic shorts, cut-offs, and spandex shorts are never appropriate church wear (for children or adults!). Shoes or sandals should be clean and tied. No one should wear T-shirts with any kind of writing on them.

Women

Dresses should be modest. No tank tops or dresses with only straps at the shoulders, no short skirts (mini-skirts), and no skin-tight dresses. Dresses should have backs and not be cut low in the front. If women wear pants to church, they should be dress pants (not jeans, leggings, etc.). Shorts of any type are not appropriate for church.

Men

Men should also dress modestly. While coat and tie are not mandatory, shirts should have collars and be buttoned to the collar (the actual collar button may be left undone, but two or three buttons undone is inappropriate). Slacks should be cleaned and pressed. Jeans (of any color) are usually too casual for church, especially ones with patches or holes. Again, shorts are not appropriate church wear.

If you're going somewhere after church where you need to dress casually, bring a change of clothing with you and change after coffee hour. Remember, use your best judgment and good taste when dressing for church. After all, you don't go to be seen by everyone else - you go to meet and worship God.

To Cross or Not To Cross

Anyone who has looked around on a Sunday morning will notice that different people cross themselves at different times (and sometimes in different ways). To a certain extent, when to cross oneself is according to personal piety and not an issue of dogma. But there are times when it is specifically proper to cross yourself, and times when you should not. Here is a brief list of when to cross and when not to cross:

To Cross

When you hear one of the variations of the phrase, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"; at the beginning and end of the liturgical service or your private prayers; entering or exiting the church, or when passing in front of the Holy Altar; before venerating in icon, the cross, or Gospel book.

Not to Cross

At the chalice before or after taking Communion (you might hit the chalice with your hand); when the priest or bishop blesses saying, "Peace be to all" - bow slightly and receive the blessing; when receiving a blessing from a bishop or a priest.

Snacks for Children

You can always tell where young children have been sitting in the church. The tell-tale signs are graham cracker crumbs, Cheerios, and animal crackers. Parents often bring snacks and a cup of fruit juice along for children during church. And for young children (0-2 years old), this is fine. But by the time children are 3-4 years old, they should be able to make it through Liturgy without eating anything, and by the time they reach seven (the age of their first confession), they should begin fasting on Sunday morning for Communion (or at least make an attempt at fasting by cutting back on the amount of breakfast and eating "fasting"-type foods - talk to your priest about this). For those children who get snacks, please don't feed them while in the line for Holy Communion. They need to come to Communion without food in their mouths. And one last note: try to keep the snack mess down to a minimum. The floor shouldn't be covered with Cheerios! Chewing gum during Liturgy is a No-No for everyone!

Handling the Blessed Bread (Antidoron)

After taking Holy Communion and at the end of the liturgy, it is traditional to eat a piece of holy bread or antidoron - the bread that was left over after Holy Communion was prepared. While antidoron is not Holy Communion, it is blessed bread and as such, should be eaten carefully so that crumbs don't fall all over the place. After taking Communion or kissing the cross at the end of the Divine Liturgy, take one piece of antidoron (you don't need four or five pieces) and when you return to your seat or get to a place where you can stop for a moment, eat the bread trying not to drop crumbs. If you want to give a piece to someone else, go ahead and take an extra piece - don't break yours in half (it produces too many crumbs) and there’s plenty for everyone.  And please monitor your children as they take the antidoron and teach them to eat it respectfully.

A Final Thought

North American society in the 21st century is rather casual in its approach to life. Don't allow this prevailing attitude to enter into your Orthodox Christian piety. There are surely a lot of other areas that could be covered here. Much of church etiquette is based on common sense and showing respect for God and others. Always remember that you are in church to worship God, the Holy Trinity. The priest says, "With the fear of God and faith and love, draw near." Let this be the way we approach all of worship.

Today's Saints >

 

Regular Services

Saturday: Vespers, 5:00 pm

Sunday: Divine Liturgy, 9:00 am

 

Address

1614 E. Monte Vista Rd.

Phoenix, Az 85006

 

Phone / Email

Fr. Mikel: 907-444-8545

Church: 602-253-9515

 

Directions To Saints Peter & Paul

 

Announcements
 

 

This Week...

June 15, 2024

There is Bible Study/Class this Weds June 19th. 

Next Sunday June 23rd is Pentecost, Hours and Liturgy will begin at 840, then Post Communion Prayers, and then Vespers with Kneeling prayers. 

The Patronal Feast day of our church, St Peter and Paul, will be Fri June 28th 6pm Vespers and Sat June 29 840am Hours and Divine Liturgy. There will be a potluck afterwards, if you wish to bring a dish, please see Mat. Heather.

The Backpack drive has begun for students returning to Whittier School.  You can sponsor a backpack for $30, or just donate any amount towards one.  There are flyers in the hall to fill out if you wish to help.

When parking please be courteous and do not block anyone in.  If the church lot is full you may park on the street or across the street at Bamboo Bakery.

During the summer months when you are traveling on vacation please don’t forget the church. Always remember to tithe, as this is very important,and an offering to God. The tithe goes into the operating budget to keep the church running, and in this way we are able to bring Christ to the community.    

The Lord has given the Holy Spirit upon the earth, and in whomsoever He dwells, that one feels paradise within himself. You might say: why hasn't this happened to me? Because you have not given yourself over to the will of God, but you live according to yourself. Look at the one who loves his own will. He never has peace in himself and is always displeased with something. But whoever has given himself over to God's will perfectly has pure prayer. His soul loves the Lord, and everything is acceptable and good to him. St. Silouan the Athonite

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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