Liturgy Archive

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“Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord” (Psalm 100:1)

It is a beautiful spring sunrise. The sun is just making it’s way over the horizon to the east. A gentle breeze quakes the new aspen leaves as the first sun’s rays begin to flicker and warm the dew on the apple blossoms. And then the singing begins . . . Meadowlarks and Robbins, Sparrows and Finches, Redbirds and Ravens, Falcons and Eagles welcome the day of creation, each with their own unique song of praise. It is as if they are calling friends and foes alike, those with wings, those with no legs, and those with four and those with two, to this new day. After all, they seem to be singing, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad
in it.” (Psalms 118:24)

We learn form God’s creatures on the one hand and yearn from our souls, on the other hand to offer our own songs of praise and worship. For me personally, these songs I have sung at times in my personal prayer time – perhaps in the country or the forest, at times in churches or holy spaces and often within the services of corporate worship. Sometimes the songs have been made up or perhaps just an original humming. Most often, they have been songs of another of praise and thanksgiving. There have been folk songs and hymns, sometimes from other Christian or religious traditions. And then there are the hymns of our own Byzantine Orthodox tradition. Some hymns – for example those from the Liturgy and from Holy Week – I recall from probably before I could walk. It’s not so much the words as the melodies. They serve to touch my heart and communicate to my so8ul the great love for me, my family, my friends, my enemies, indeed all of humankind and the entire universe, that our Great and merciful Lord possesses and offers. “God is with us, give ear all you nations and be humbled, for God is with us.” (Orthodox Hymn of Great Compline Service)

The month of February, my dear parishioners, we have chosen the theme of “Hymns of the Divine Liturgy” for our Religious Education theme. On Sunday, February 5, Church School children, teachers, parents and all St. Catherine parishioners are invited to meet in the Sanctuary at 9:00am for a presentation on “Hymns of the Divine Liturgy.” A packet will be distributed guiding personal and familial study for the month on this theme. Our hope is that we will better understand our tradition of prayers through the hymnology and hymnography of Orthodox Christianity. Our ultimate goal is that you and I will always love and worship in thanksgiving our Loving Lord and that we, as the birds of the air will “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” (Psalm 100:1)

In Christ, Fr. Lou

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A Divine Work of the People

Every Sunday and many weekdays during the course of the year, Orthodox faithful throughout the world gather for a “Divine work of the people”. We know it as a Divine Liturgy. Divine, of course refers to God and the word “liturgy” comes from two Greek words, “litos”, meaning “people” and “ergo”, meaning “work”. This Divine and human communion is the essence of life for Christians, referencing the relationship between God and humans. God gives to us all that we have and we gather to offer thanks to Him for His gifts of life, love and sustenance. The central act of this worship is the Eucharist or Holy Communion. The word “Eucharist” in fact is from the Greek word, “evharistia’, which literally means, “thanksgiving”. This giving and thanking is circular in nature providing for a constant flow of love in relationship between God and us. It is kind of like a liturgical dance between the Bridegroom (our Lord) and His bride (the Church).

This month of January, we will focus our Religious Education Ministry on the theme, “The Divine Liturgy”. On Sunday, January 8, we will invite students from Church School, their teachers, parents and other adults into the sanctuary at the regular time for Church School (9am). We will then have a presentation for all about the Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy that day will be a teaching Liturgy. This theme will be then focused on in Church School and Adult Discussion for the remainder of the month.

The essential characteristic of the “Divine work of the people” for us is worship, since it is through worship that we approach God. Sunday, the Lord’s Day (Kyriaki), is also the first day of the week. This worship provides for us the proper context for the beginning of our week with God. It then sets the tone for how we live our lives weekly, daily, even moment by moment. We live our lives in a constant flow of thanksgiving in relationship with God. EVERYTHING we do, EVERY moment we live, EVERY breath we take is with God in mind. That is how God has created us, to be in constant communion with Him.

As we begin this New Year of 2006, let us begin in worship and thanksgiving. The new year, the new month, the new day, the new minute, the new second are all about God. Be it therefore resolved that we live our total lives as a thanksgiving offering to Him — in worship, in school, in work and in play — let EVERYTHING in our lives be “A Divine work of the people”.

Services for Holy Theophany (Epiphany) will be held on January 5th and 6th, as are scheduled on the January calendar. If anyone would like to schedule a house or business blessing, please contact Fr. Evan or myself.

In Christ,

Fr. Lou

On behalf of Fr. Paul, Fr. Evan, our staff, our Parish Council, Philoptochos and Ministry Teams, may our Good and Loving Lord bless you and your loved ones with a most beautiful and Spirit-filled 2006. Kali Chronia!