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Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen! From the Paschal Message of St. John Chrysostom:

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in no wise be deprived there of. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a Body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

About the Author: St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople, was a notable Christian bishop and preacher from the fourth and fifth centuries in Syria and Constantinople. He is famous for eloquence in public speaking and his denunciation of abuse of authority in the Church and in the Roman Empire of the time. He had notable ascetic sensibilities. After his death he was named Chrysostom, which comes from the Greek Χρυσόστομος, “golden-mouthed.” The Orthodox Church honors him as a saint (feast day, November 13) and counts him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (feast day, January 30), together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. (from orthodoxwiki.org)

Overnight Parking Ban Lifted for Pascha

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 18.39.24At the request of Holy Trinity, the Borough of State College has lifted the 2 to 6 a.m. on-street parking ban on all the surface roads surrounding the church.

In addition to on-street parking on North and South Sparks Street, other suggested places to park include Patterson and Gill Streets, Nittany Beverage (139 N. Patterson St.) and the former Montessori School (300 S. Sparks St.). All the spaces in the Holy Trinity lot, including those accessible by Calder Way (numbered 10 through 18) are also available.

Tonight’s Divine Services for Great and Holy Pascha begin at 11:30 p.m. with the chanting of Nocturns. Following the rush procession, the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection continues with Matins, Hours, and the Divine Liturgy sung in quick succession. The blessing of baskets and a festal meal follow in the Parish Hall.

All are invited.

Family Pascha Guide

by Dn. Mark Oleynik

As we draw near to Pascha, our journey becomes more intense and our anticipation of the Great and Saving Night grows. The anticipation is particularly acute in children and parents should be prepared to take advantage of their curiosity. Below are some notes and tips to assist parents in guiding their children during the Paschal weekend (April 12-15).

Matins of Holy Friday (Thursday, 7 p.m.)
This service features the reading of the 12 Passion Gospels. The first gospel relates Christ’s discourse with His disciples at the Last Supper, the next ten gospels relate the Lord’s sufferings, and the last gospel describes His burial and the sealing of the tomb. These readings provide the narrative for the events that take place while the accompanying hymns sung throughout the service clarify and give deeper meaning to the text. Between the fifth and sixth gospels there is a solemn procession with the large wooden cross from the sanctuary into the center of the nave. We find additional clarity when visible actions are added to the gospels and hymns.

Parent Tips

  • This is a lengthy service so give your children advance notice (so you can limit the number of times the question of “how much longer?” is asked.)
  • Focus your children on how the text advances the events or provides additional detail in each subsequent lesson. If possible, read these gospels with your children prior to the service.
  • As always, everyone should stand or kneel during the gospel readings.
  • Explain to your children that although Matins is a morning service, this service is “anticipated” and is celebrated on Thursday evening.

Royal Hours (Friday, 10 a.m.)
There is no liturgy on Holy Friday since the Divine Liturgy is always a celebration of communion with the Risen Lord. We do however read the Royal Hours on Friday morning. This service takes its name from the fact that it used to be officially attended by the Emperor and his court in Constantinople.

Parent Tips

  • If you cannot attend, you can teach your children the significance of each of the hours: First—when Christ was led into the Praetorium (i.e., the palace of the governor) before Pilate (~7 a.m.). Third—when the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles on Pentecost and Christ was condemned by Pilate (~9 a.m.). Sixth—when Christ was released to the Jews, condemned, and nailed to the Cross (~12 noon). Ninth—when He died on the Cross (~3 p.m.).
  • This is the strictest fast day of the year. Help your child as much as possible to refrain from eating other than minimally.

Unnailing Vespers (Friday, 4 p.m.)
At Vespers on Holy Friday, the shroud (a large icon depicting Christ lying in the tomb) is lifted by the priest from the altar table and then carried in procession out of the altar to the specially prepared tomb in the middle of the church.

Parent Tips

  • The service’s structure is like Saturday Vespers so children should be able to recognize most parts.
  • The Gospel reading tells the story of the Christ dying on the cross. Don’t be afraid to discuss with your children (of all ages) that Christ really died and this is the story of how He died.
  • The most moving and solemn part is the carrying of the shroud to the special tomb. Children quickly understand this movement just as the children understood Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
  • You can show your child that the same words (“The Noble Joseph…“) sung during the carrying of the shroud are embroidered on the edge of shroud.
  • Ask your child what Joseph of Arimathea (i.e., the “Noble Joseph”) may have been thinking as he carried the lifeless Body of our Lord to the tomb.

Lamentations (Friday, 7 p.m.)
During Matins of Holy Saturday, the tone and theme gradually changes from lamentation to victory over death. We stand before the tomb—but it is revealed to us as the life-giving tomb. The shroud is carried in a procession around the church while all the people (including children) carry lighted candles and sing “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us…” Upon returning to the entrance of the church we walk under the shroud reminding us that we must pass through death to the Resurrection. While the church is softly illuminated with the faithful’s candles, we hear the Ezekiel’s dry bones prophecy and words of Pascha: “Let God arise…” As the day ends, we are left with a sense of anticipation.

Parent Tips

  • Children love processions and they like to hold candles—here they can do both. Tell them they are a very important part of the service.
  • Ask them (especially older children) to listen to the music for “changes” (tone, rhythm, etc.), what they were, when they happened, and what was being sung at the time. Teens and preteens listen to a lot of music with their iPods: get them “into” the music and how the Church uses it to help us.
  • As you drive home, discuss how we are dependent on light (car lights, street lights, etc.) and how we could not function without it. Use this as a transition to discussing the light of Christ.

Vesperal Divine Liturgy (Saturday, 10 a.m.)
Saturday is called the “Blessed Sabbath.” For the Jews, this was a day of rest, but for us it is when Christ worked and our sorrow is transformed into joy. During Vespers, there are 15 Old Testament readings! After these readings, and during “Arise, O Lord” (which is sung in place of the “Alleluia” verses), the dark (purple) clerical vestments are exchanged for bright (white) ones. The votives and coverings and are also changed at this time—this is an exciting moment for kids. The “light” of Resurrection is really made visible to us as the Liturgy of St. Basil continues in this joyful light.

Parent Tips

  • On your way to church talk with your child about what they have experienced in the Church during the past few days. Certainly, they will remind you how long the services have been but you may be surprised by other things they may have noticed.
  • Perhaps you can dress your child in white/light colored clothes and have them wear a dark sweater or jacket as a top layer. During the changing of the vestments, have them remove the top layer.
  • Tell your children that catechumens were originally baptized and received into the Church during the Old Testament readings. (Later in the day, some of our Holy Trinity catechumens will be received into the Church as well.)

Great and Holy Pascha (Sunday, 12 a.m.)
Finally, we arrive at the Paschal night: the most joyous celebration in the Orthodox Church. After the shroud is carried into the altar and placed on the altar table, the Church is dark. As midnight approaches, the clergy begin to sing, “Thy Resurrection, O Christ our Savior, the angels in heaven sing…” Suddenly, the priest exits the Sanctuary with a lighted candle and by this candle all the people light theirs—one by one. We go in procession around the church until we arrive at the closed doors of entrance to the church. It is now that we hear for the first time “Christ is Risen!” After the doors are opened, everyone enters into a fully lit church where there is no darkness and we celebrate Matins and the Divine Liturgy in the middle of the night.

Parent Tips

  • Although it may be difficult, try to get your child to rest or take a nap on Saturday. Every kid wants to stay up late…this is their big chance!
  • Dress your child warmly and perhaps bring a blanket to wrap them in to keep the chill away.
  • Younger children will probably fall asleep at some point—this is to be expected. They will still probably remember many things about the night.
  • “Gently” rouse your child for communion several minutes before they will receive the Body and Blood.
  • Teach your children the Paschal greeting (Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!) in different languages. They will like to respond out loud to these greetings—especially in church.

Although the services are somewhat longer than usual, you can/should bring your children and prepare them to participate. Please be considerate and aware of your children’s whereabouts, actions, movements, etc., at all times during the services so those around you can also fully experience the joy of the Feast.

If Christ Be Not Risen, Our Faith Is Vain

by Fr. John Reeves

Last year on Western Easter, Marianne Budde, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, DC, opined that if someone were to discover a tomb with Jesus’ remains in it, “the entire enterprise would not come crashing down.” (virtueonline.org) This isn’t a new notion. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe it as doctrine. But it’s been around a lot longer than that.

The belief that Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead is part of the Gnostic family of heresies, this one in particular being called “docetism”, (from Greek, δοχειν, to appear). In other words, Jesus would only have appeared as man. This would make Him a divine spirit masquerading in human form; His death was only an appearance, as well as his Resurrection. If that is the case, the Resurrection would be superfluous.

Such errant preaching and teaching led me from the Episcopal Church to Orthodoxy almost forty years ago. It is sad to see how the denials of the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Miracles, and oh yes, the Resurrection, have been multiplied over the past five decades.

Either Christ rose from the dead, or death is not conquered. If death is not conquered, we are still in our sins, to borrow from St. Athanasius (cf. On the Incarnation). Either Christ was and remains God in the flesh, before, during, and after his Passion and Resurrection, or all that we are about to celebrate is simply play-acting, a myth, a drama without much to compel it.

In writing to the Church in Corinth, this is St. Paul’s point: our faith, our life, and our eternal salvation are all based upon the Resurrection of Christ. If the Resurrection is not true, in what then do we place our hope? St. Paul says that his preaching, and our faith, would then be vain, pointless. He does not talk about the moral teaching of Jesus. He does not exhort the Corinthians merely to live ethical lives. He is blunt: Christ’s resurrection is our hope of resurrection. Without His victory over sin and death, we are all losers.

The story is told of a young man arrested during Soviet days for shouting “Christ is risen!” in front of Lenin’s tomb. Upon being interrogated, he was asked why he was “disturbing the peace.”

He asked his questioners simply, “Is there a body in Lenin’s tomb?”

“Of course, young man! Everyone knows that!” was the brusque reply.

“Christ’s tomb is empty! Christ is risen!”

On Pascha night, at Orthodox churches around the world, bishops, priests, deacons, and laymen will wait for the “Light of Christ” to pierce the darkness, in anticipation of the Resurrection. We know Christ’s tomb is empty. We fill the night skies with the cry which makes devils tremble: “Christ is risen!”

And we will say it, not merely because it is our tradition, but because it is the truth, a truth we believe down to the core of our being, down to the marrow in our bones. That in a nutshell is Orthodoxy: the Truth about God, the Truth about Man, and the Truth about Christ—God’s rising from the dead to save Man from sin and death. Otherwise, why bother?

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Cor. 15:14)

 

Youth Pascha Workshop This Saturday!

On Lazarus Saturday (April 4), our Church School is sponsoring a free Pascha preparation workshop for children of all ages. There will be a variety of activities, including baking, crafts, and egg-dying. Bring the whole family!

Great Lent: Rejoice in the Fast

by Dn. David Smith

Smith - Version 2This winter has given many of us “snow days”—days of grace and contemplation because of a winter storm, when life is “forced” providentially to slow down and our agendas com-pelled to yield to the greater work of God. It is an opportunity granted to us for refreshment if we but step into it and receive it with faith, hope, and love as God’s gift.

Such is Great Lent, the Great Fast. We have entered into this providential season of contemplation and of grace: of prayer and of fasting and of almsgiving. Like the other fasts, this one is afforded to us by the Church for our renewal through the personal and communal practice of intensified spiritual disciplines. It is the Great Fast, however, because of its more intense rigor, a rigor preceding and leading us into the Resurrection of Christ God, a rigor worthy of the Church’s participation and of the Great and Holy Pascha. It is a holy season and a divinely appointed opportunity for our spiritual renewal and reclamation (shades of Ebenezer Scrooge here).

But, the question is: Will we receive this holy season as a gift of utter grace for our salvation or will we bear it, begrudge it, put up with it, tolerate it, resent it, and not find joy in the salvation it offers us? May we not forget last month’s parable of the elder brother of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). It is the younger brother, the prodigal, who tends to get our attention and limelight. (Pesky younger siblings and troublemakers tend to!)

ProdigalSonA

Icon of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24), courtesy of oca.org.

However, this parable of our Lord is just as much about the older brother as it is about the younger. It is a sad commentary that the elder—and obviously, more responsible—sibling could not rejoice in the return of the family’s black sheep to the fold. Perhaps it takes the heart of a father to thoroughly bask in such a return or repentance.

But, at the same time, it certainly is not out of the question for such joy to be shared by all in the family, including the dutiful older brother. Sadly, despite never leaving the family estate and the preserve of his father, the dutiful elder son of the family could not tolerate such wasteful extravagance on someone who had obviously failed and proven his unworthiness!

Sadly, having served faithfully his father “these many years,” going about his father’s business each and every day without so much as a request, the elder son, loved dearly by his father, had lost the joy (I wonder, did he ever have it?) of being a part of the family, of celebrating the fact that he was the son of so loving and forgiving a father as his. It is so very easy to “neglect [the joy] of so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3) when we get focused solely on our fulfill-ing of “obligations” and start comparing ourselves to others who may not be living up to our standards. Insidiously, the old devil turns our attention from whence we have come and saps our hearts of the joy of being made sons and daughters of our heavenly Father by Whose utter grace “we live, and move, and have our [very] being” (Acts 17:28)

In these holy days of “obligation,” the Church invites us to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matt. 5:12) in the midst of the “duty” of our Lenten labors, basking in the sublime reality that we are profoundly loved by God our Father, though unworthy sinners that we are. Through the coming of our true elder Brother, Jesus Christ, in the flesh we have all been made children of the Most High to share in the joy of His Kingdom (Rom. 14:17-18).

Schedule Your Home Blessing Online

Every year, the month of January is set aside for home blessings for the entire parish. Several morning, afternoon, and evening shifts on varying days of the week have been reserved by location to allow Father John to bless homes expeditiously.

Related: Learn more about the Orthodox practice of blessing homes

In addition to using sign-up sheets located in the Narthex, this year you can request a house blessing online. Select a location below (ZIP Codes in parenthesis) to continue.

Eastern Centre County (16801, 16804, 16827, 16828, 16851) including Downtown State College, State College (S. Atherton), Boalsburg, Centre Hall, Houserville, Lemont, and Pine Grove Mills

Penn State Campus (16802)

Western Centre County (16803, 16868, 16870) including State College (N. Atherton), Park Forest, Pine Grove Mills, Port Matilda, and Stormstown

Northern Centre County (16823, 16853) including Bellefonte, Milesburg, and Zion

Snyder County (178xx)

All Other Locations

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Why Do Orthodox Christians Bless Homes?

by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

The Orthodox Church teaches that we do not have two separate lives—a secular one and a spiritual one–but one human life, and that all of it must be holy. We must not be Christians for just a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, spending the rest of our life godlessly that is to say, without God. The person who has united with Christ in the sacrament of baptism cannot be a part-time Christian, but must be faithful to Christ everywhere and at all times—in church, at work, at home, in relationships with other Christians, and in those with non-Christians. We must be faithful to Christ in the fullness of our life.

The Orthodox Church teaches us that a temple is not only a building in which we worship, but that we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16); that the Body of Christ is not only that of which we partake at the Divine Liturgy, but that we are the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). And just as the Gifts of the Eucharist are treated with reverence and kept in sanctified vessels in the altar, so should every Christian’s life be full of reverence and sanctity not only during a church service, but likewise outside the walls of the temple. A Christian’s home must become a small temple, a small Church.

The Church blesses the very foundation of a home in the same way that it blesses the foundation of a church; it blesses a new Christian home in the same way that it blesses a new temple; and yearly, after the blessing of a parish temple with the water of Theophany, the Church brings this holy water into the homes of the faithful. The prayers for the blessing of a temple are different from those for the blessing of a home, because the function of a home is different from that of a temple, but the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit is one. And just as in the baptism of our Lord all of creation is washed clean and sanctified, every year after the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (January 6), Christians sanctify themselves and their homes with the water of Theophany.

The Church teaches us to sanctify everything: dwellings, places of work, all our pursuits, and the fruits of our labor. And just as a temple and sacred vessels, once sanctified and set aside for sacred use, can no longer be used for anything profane, in the same way a Christian washed in the baptismal waters, and his home, and all his works can no longer be the dwelling of sin and the works of Satan, but only and always the temple of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of the will of our Heavenly Father. This is why the Church blesses everything that can be found in a Christian home; and if something is not worthy of being blessed, then there should not be a place for it in the home of a Christian.

 

Traditional Holy Supper to be Served Christmas Eve

Holy Trinity Parishioners enjoy a final Lenten meal together before the Feast of Christmas.

On Christmas Eve beginning at 4:30 p.m., the parish will sponsor a traditional Holy Supper and everyone is invited.

(The custom of the “holy supper” comes from central Europe and parts of Russia and provided the family a time to gather and share the last meal of the Fast prior to attending the evening liturgical services.)

There are traditionally twelve Lenten foods served (representing the twelve Apostles) such as barley, honey, stewed prunes, pierogi, sauerkraut, potatoes, garlic, Lenten bread, and mushroom soup.

Please consider preserving (or starting) this family tradition by attending and sharing with your parish family a favorite Lenten food.

Sign up in the Parish Hall or online so that we may have an accurate count. Also, please email Mka. Kelly Oleynik if you have any questions and/or would like to assist with this event.