25 March 2008

Patronal or Titular Feast?

Subdeacon Lucas asked if today, the Feast of the Annunciation, is the Patronal Feast for Holy Incarnation. Well, yes. Our Bishop has declared that the Feast of the Annunciation is the annual "Patronal Feast" for Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church.

But it seems more proper, both in the Western tradition and given the name of our parish, to call today our Titular Feast or Feast of Title. Why? A Patronal Feast is the Feast of the Saint who is the patron of the parish. For example, if a parish is named "St Boniface, Apostle to the Germans, Orthodox Church" (wouldn't that be nice!), then the Patronal Feast would be 5 June, the Commemoration of St Boniface. It would be not only the "name day" of the parish, but also understood that St Boniface prays for the parish and that the parish has a special devotion to St Boniface.

However, Holy Incarnation is named for a mystery, not a saint. And while our Patron Saint (as decreed by our Bishop) is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the particular mystery to which we are, by name, attached would be either the Feast of the Nativity or the Feast of the Annunciation. (Another possibility would be the Feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, should this feast be observed in our Vicariate.)

Regardless of which Feast the Bishop would have chosen, it would have seemed odd to term that day "Patronal Feast," since neither Christ Mass nor Annunciation are patrons. Hence, we have taken to call it by the name common in the West; namely, the Titular Feast.

At Holy Incarnation, we celebrated our Titular Feast last evening with First Vespers of the Annunciation followed by the Mass. The celebration was rather low-key on purpose for a number of reasons. We look forward to a grander celebration in the years to come.

All Quiet on the Southeastern (Michigan) Front?

Since I teach at a Catholic High School, I've been on Easter break. But I haven't written because I've been busy with contractors as well as doing inventory and moving items from storage, and then setting up our temporary liturgical space in the new building.

No pictures yet because (a) everything is not in place and (b) we're kind of slow about these things anyway.

15 March 2008

"Let us Exult over the Crafty Reptile"

Tomorrow, Orthodox Christians in the Western tradition will commemorate the First Sunday in Lent. As they do so, they will hear St Paul's exhortation: "That ye receive not the grace of God in vain." They will also hear the narrative of Our Lord fasting, and then being tempted by the devil in the wilderness.

The following words from St Cyril of Alexandria address the victory Our Lord achieved for mankind by His fasting and temptation.

[The Lord] arose and helped [us], having taken the form of a slave, and being made in the likeness of men: for so did He as one of us set Himself as an avenger in our stead, against that murderous and rebellious serpent, who had brought sin upon us, and thereby had caused corruption and death to reign over the dwellers upon earth, that we by His means, and in Him, might gain the victory, whereas of old we were vanquished, and fallen in Adam.

Come therefore and let us praise the Lord, and sing psalms unto God our Saviour: let us trample Satan under foot; let us raise the shout of victory over him now he is thrown and fallen: let us exult over the crafty reptile, caught in an inextricable snare: let us too say of him in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “How is the hammer of all the earth broken and beaten small! Thou art found and hast been taken, because thou stoodest against the Lord.” For of old, that is before the time of the advent of Christ the Saviour of all, the universal enemy had somewhat grand and terrible notions about himself: for he boastfully exulted over the infirmity of the inhabitants of the earth, saying, “I will hold the world in my hand as a nest, and as eggs that are left I will take it up: and no one shall escape from me or speak against me.” And in very truth there was no one of those upon earth who could rise up against his power; but the Son rose up against him, and contended with him, having been made like unto us. And therefore, as I said, human nature, as victorious in Him, wins the crown. And this in old time the Son Himself proclaimed, where by one of the holy prophets He thus addresses Satan; “Behold, I am against thee, O corrupting mountain, that corruptest the whole earth.”


09 March 2008

For Those Who Want to See Pictures...

While we don’t have any pictures of the inside of the new location for Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church, you can get a panoramic view of the outside by selecting this link. Be sure to select “Street View.”

You can also see a picture of the interior (before remodeling and set-up) by selecting this link.

Giving Up Something for Lent?

For Orthodox Christians, the Lenten Fast begins Monday (3/10) or Wednesday (3/12). Monday begins the Fast for Orthodox in the Byzantine tradition, and Wednesday begins the Fast for Orthodox in the Western tradition. (Both traditions fast for 40 days, but different calculations of fasting days result in different starting times.)

In the Orthodox Church, the Lenten Fast does not ask or require Orthodox Christians to “give up something” for Lent. The Fast is not an individual choice or personal practice, but a community discipline. Therefore, the Fast is not simply abstaining from food or disciplining your appetite. Rather, it prescribes the common rule the faithful are to follow as they fast together. Individuals may certainly choose to “give up” additional items during Lent, but such choices should not replace the Church's fast, and should be made in consolation with individual’s spiritual father.

The church fathers assume that the fast is a communal exercise. They also teach, quite consistently and vigorously, that the fast is more than eating less or abstaining from certain foods. One disciplines the body, they teach, so that one may better discipline the soul. One fasts from food so that one may learn to fast from sin. In the Western tradition, this "true fast" or "spiritual fast" is emphasized not only in the excerpts from the church fathers that are read during Matins, but also in many of the daily collects.

Those interested in the Orthodox Lenten Fast as it is maintained in the Western tradition are directed to this resource and this resource.