We have now, more formally, started our preparations for the Great Fast. We read on Sunday how the tax-collector left justified when he prayed in the temple whereas the pharisee did not: this was because of the tax-collector’s humility. In this period leading up to the Great Fast the Church prepares us to enter it with joy, this year the fast starts on Monday 2nd March.
The place of worship
Last week I sent out a video on how one community in America started from humble origins to be a Church of God. Ours is, of course, different yet we can still learn from them: diversions may be needed but a road map is established.
As a direct quotation from Fr Theodore, “At the centre of St John the Baptist [the new community] from day one, we wanted to place the Eucharist, the sacramental life and the liturgical life at the very heart.”
Is this something we can do? Are we willing to place the liturgical life of the Church at the heart of our own lives? This would require hard work and sacrifice, it would require each of us placing the Church first in our lives. Many communities may be able to exist if we turn up or not yet for our community to become an established house of the Lord you need to be part of it.
Our plan at the moment is to meet two Saturdays a month for Vespers and fellowship yet this cannot be our long-term plan. We need to put in place the facilities, the resources, the talents but primarily and essentially the people — you and me! — that we can become the worshipping centre of our community, in Eastleigh and yet for the whole area: Eastleigh, Southampton, Winchester, Fareham, Test Valley and beyond.
- Are you willing to support this?
- Are you willing to offer your talents to the Lord?
- Are you willing to sacrifice yourself so that others may have the opportunity to worship the living God?
Please pray. We pray not because we are unable to do anything else but because we are unable to do anything until we pray — it is only by the power and blessing from God that we will be able to take on this great task of establishing a prayerful, worshipping Church of God.
Pray, too, for a patron of our community. It is Metropolitan Silouan’s decision but as a community we can make a proposal to him. Our patron(s) will be our heavenly intercessors before the Lord and we must ask his, her or their holy prayers for us.
We have yet to hear any more news on where we may be able to meet, we hope it will come soon. Lent would be an appropriate time for us to start a worshipping community — as we prepare for the Resurrection of Christ we prepare together to establish a new temple for his praise.
Truth in the Face of Heresy:
Spiritual Life in the Witness of St Irenaeus of Lyons
The Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist organises a study weekend around this time of year each year: this year it will be held at our mother parish in Poole Friday 21st – Saturday 22nd February. This year, we will consider St Irenaeus of Lyons.
St Irenaeus lived in the second century and was the disciple of St Polycarp of Smyrna who himself was a disciple of St John the Theologian — so, St Irenaeus was the “spiritual grandson” of the beloved disciple of the Lord to whom was entrusted the care of the Theotokos after Christ’s death and resurrection.
St Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons, in southern France, and wrote an important and much-quoted work, Against Heresies, where he justifies true Christian belief against the falsehood around him. This is something we have to do as a Church — stand up for the truth — and we can learn much from the work of this beloved saint.
Coming to lead us in learning about St Irenaeus will be Bishop Irenei of London, the bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) diocese covering Britain and Ireland as well as much of Western Europe. As well as being an expert on the saint, he is engaging and popular.
I strongly recommend you come, further details, including application form, are here.
There is a cost, but please do not let that put you off: please speak to me if you would like to come and we can arrange for it to happen.
Our Facebook Page, facebook.com/orthodoxeastleigh, too, has daily additions during the week as well as on feast days. Please do like and share our page and content so we may reach a wider group of people.
Do you receive the weekly (on Fridays) text message? If not, then let me know.
Saints and Feasts
Wednesday 12th February — St Meletius of Antioch
St Meletius was Archbishop of Antioch in the fourth century (this was before it became a “Patriarchate”). He was exiled three times by the Emperor for remaining faithful to the First Ecumenical Council. One of his last actions was to preside over the subsequent council held in Constantinople in 381. Click here for more.
Saturday 15th February — St Oswy of Northumbria
St Oswy was King of Northumbria (in the North of England) and presided over the Synod of Whitby (AD 664) wich overcame tensions in England between those who had different traditions within the Church — the Synod declared that his kingdom would follow the Roman practice. Click here for more.
Sunday 16th February — Sunday of the Prodigal Son
This coming Sunday we will read the Gospel reading of the parable of the Prodigal Son — Luke 15:11–32.
Monday 17th February — St Theodore the Recruit & St Finan of Lindisfarne
St Theodore (also called “the Tyro”) was a Christian who served in the Roman army at the time of the persecution under Emperor Maximian. He kept his faith in Christ secret — not because of fear but because he had not received a sign to become a martyr. Perhaps we should learn from this: we should always be preaching Christ but not necessarily by shouting on street corners, we do not deny Christ but it is not always necessary to shout about him either. Later, after receiving a sign from the Lord, St Theodore refused to offer sacrifices to the gods and was martyred, probably at the beginning of the fourth century.
St Theodore worked a great miracle after his falling asleep. Julian the Apostate was emperor in the 360s and tried to turn the empire back to paganism. In the first week of Lent, he ordered that all the food in the markets was to be sprinkled with the blood offered in sacrifices. St Theodore appeared to the Archbishop and all the people ate Kollyva — we still commemorate this on the first Saturday in the Great Fast (this year 7th March). Click here for more.
St Finan became the second bishop of Lindisfarne, after the great Aidan (commemorated 31st August). He established a cathedral on the island and played an important part in the conversion of the Saxons, bring King Sigbert of the East Saxons (Essex) to faith and ordaining, along with two others, St Cedd as bishop there. Click here for more.
Can I help you?
I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.
Can you help the mission?
Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.
I ask your prayers for me.
With love in Christ