Recent News

March 17, 2013

Archbishop DMITRI, on the Great Fast

“In the not too distant past, a minister of one of the denominations was quoted as saying: “Almost no one in my Church observes Lent in the traditional way any longer. The people simply cannot find a place for fasting and self-denial in their current lifestyles. They are, however, attracted by the idea of a period of intensive sharing and helping others. This is what we are concentrating on in our Church nowadays. After all, isn’t that what Lent is all about?

It is unfortunately true that what this minister says reflects a very popular attitude. There is just no place for Lent in the contemporary way of life, so some Churches have seen fit to adapt themselves to the “realities of modern life,” skip the “empty ritual observances,” and “make the spring preparation for Easter more meaningful” to their people. These platitudes dominate many discussions of the purpose of Lent

Still more unfortunate is the acceptance (sometimes without realizing it) by not a few American Orthodox of these notions. Perhaps in a country like ours where certain religious and semi-religious ideas fill the air, it is natural for people who do not think things through to be carried along by the trends. This is especially true when what is offered is less demanding

No one will question the fact that the Orthodox Christian Lenten observance is difficult. What is prescribed requires almost a super-human effort – the dietary changes, the cessation of entertainments, the constant call to self-examination, the reminders of our need to turn away from this world and set our sight on God’s Kingdom, the injunction to forgive and love even our enemies. It has little appeal to a society in which self-indulgence is no longer a sinful departure from God’s will for man, but a philosophy of life. Orthodox people are inescapably members of such a society, and being Orthodox not just in name, but conscientiously, is really a deliberate rejection of most of what that society offers.

What is missing from so many discussions of Lent and what is of primary importance in the Orthodox concept, is the idea of repentance. In fact, the underlying idea of the Great Fast is exactly that, and the ritual observance is nothing more than a sign of it. By the way, the term Great Fastis still a better name for the period than Lent. We use the latter term, however, for ease of discussion, for fear that many of our own people would not know what we are talking about if we used the other one.

Actually, by rejecting traditional Lenten disciplines, what society and some of its obedient churches and churchmen are implicitly rejecting is the very idea of repentance, because repentance means a change of mind, of direction, of one’s way of life, of values. These changes which must come from the heart, arise from a conviction that one does not live as God would have him live. They would not appeal to a self-satisfied and basically self-righteous society. And a society which is convinced that it is good and has no sin to be sorry for is just that, self-righteous.

The radical change of diet that is called for, is a sign of a radical change of lifestyle to which the Christian Faith calls us, even if it means running the risk of being ‘odd’ to those we work and associate with. The increase in church attendance (during Lent) is an indication of the Christian’s longing to be with God, in His house, and with His people. The sharing with and the helping of others, an enormously important part of the observance, is not just a response to some humanitarian concerns, but a response to Christ’s new commandment to love one another. All of these characteristics of the Fast are intimately bound together and interdependent. A mere outward observance of these things without the change of heart that they signify, is useless.

The Church is calling her faithful people once again to the observance of the Great Fast. Nothing has changed. Even if someone, moved by a false feeling of compassion for the people, should try to ‘lighten the load’ and make it easier by reducing the requirements, he is fooling himself and those who follow him. The ideal is still the same – in this world in which we live – being in it, yet not of it, as the Lord has characterized His followers. We shall be invited to come back to God, overcome all obstacles so that the One we see is Jesus, to overcome self-righteousness, to repent of our sins against God and against our fellow man, and to make our lives models of self-giving, sharing, and forgiveness – in a word, of love – love of God and of our neighbor.”

Reposted from the website of the Diocese of the South, OCA

February 26, 2013

Up With Trees

This past Saturday we were blessed to receive over 50 trees from Up With Trees, a Tulsa based non-profit organization dedicated to re-foresting the greater Tulsa Area. We had a wonderful workday planting, staking, and mulching. May the Lord bless all who took part in beautifying His property!

Click here for tree planting photos!

January 18, 2013

4th Annual Tulsa March for Life

Tuesday, January 22nd at 7:00pm
Starting at 8th & Boulder, downtown Tulsa

We are approaching the 40th anniversary of the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court Decision. In the 40 years since, approximately 1 out of every 4 Children in America have been aborted. Just here in Tulsa, there are on average 8 children killed a day, 41 a week, 2,132 a year. On the 40th anniversary of so dreadful a decision, let us stand in solidarity, united in one voice, and pack the streets of Downtown Tulsa!

Please join us Tuesday, January 22nd, at 7:00 p.m. for the 4th annual Tulsa March for Life. The March begins at 8th and Boulder, and Dr. Alveda King will be speaking at the concluding rally. More information is available at www.tulsamarchforlife.org.

January 06, 2013

Holy Theophany

Click here for picture of the 2013 Holy Theophany celebration at Holy Apostles!

Theophany is the Feast which reveals the Most Holy Trinity to the world through the Baptism of the Lord (Mt.3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). God the Father spoke from Heaven about the Son, the Son was baptized by the St John the Forerunner, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of a dove. From ancient times this Feast was called the Day of Illumination and the Feast of Lights, since God is Light and has appeared to illumine “those who sat in darkness,” and “in the region of the shadow of death” (Mt.4:16), and to save the fallen race of mankind by grace.

In the ancient Church it was the custom to baptize catechumens at the Vespers of Theophany, so that Baptism also is revealed as the spiritual illumination of mankind.

The origin of the Feast of Theophany goes back to Apostolic times, and it is mentioned in The Apostolic Constitutions (Book V:13). From the second century we have the testimony of St Clement of Alexandria concerning the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and the night vigil before this Feast.

There is a third century dialogue about the services for Theophany between the holy martyr Hippolytus and St Gregory the Wonderworker. In the following centuries, from the fourth to ninth century, all the great Fathers of the Church: Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, John of Damascus, commented on the Feast of Theophany.

The monks Joseph the Studite, Theophanes and Byzantios composed much liturgical music for this Feast, which is sung at Orthodox services even today. St John of Damascus said that the Lord was baptized, not because He Himself had need for cleansing, but “to bury human sin by water,” to fulfill the Law, to reveal the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and finally, to sanctify “the nature of water” and to offer us the form and example of Baptism.

On the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, the Holy Church proclaims our faith in the most sublime mystery, incomprehensible to human intellect, of one God in three Persons. It teaches us to confess and glorify the Holy Trinity, one in Essence and Indivisible. It exposes and overthrows the errors of ancient teachings which attempted to explain the Creator of the world by reason, and in human terms.

The Church shows the necessity of Baptism for believers in Christ, and it inspires us with a sense of deep gratitude for the illumination and purification of our sinful nature. The Church teaches that our salvation and cleansing from sin is possible only by the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit, therefore it is necessary to preserve worthily these gifts of the grace of holy Baptism, keeping clean this priceless garb, for “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27).

On the day of Theophany, all foods are permitted, even if the Feast falls on a Wednesday or Friday.

Text and Holy Theophany icon from OCA.org

Click here for picture of Holy Theophany at Holy Apostles 2013!

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