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"You shall be My people." A Reflection on Pentecost - 05/28/15

by Father John Dresko

The Great and Holy Feast of Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Pascha. It was on that fiftieth day after the resurrection when Jesus poured out His Spirit on the apostles and the Church, His Body, began to flower and grow. The gift of the Holy Spirit is something that each and every Orthodox Christian receives through the Sacrament of Chrismation. This gift, the Holy Spirit, is our personal charism that enables us to say “Abba! Father!” and to live out the Christian life. On this Feast, we hear two of the most poetic and beautiful passages in Scripture, each related to the coming of the Spirit. The first passage is from the prophecy of Joel:

“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)

The Lord, through the prophet, tells His people that He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. He reminds Israel, His chosen ones, that despite their apostasy and infidelity, He will continue to breath life into them. And what is that life? Listen to the poetry: your sons and daughters shall prophesy. Old men will dream dreams and young men will see visions. Prophecy is not the foretelling of the future; it is the discernment of God’s Word. The children of God (us!) will discern His Word. The “old man” cannot dream because his days are done and he has little future. But the “new man” which replaces the old in baptism must dream in the renewed life given through Christ and the Spirit. Young men have little vision because of their youth and lack of experience, but the Spirit surpasses all understanding and that Breath of God enlivens and matures those who have died in baptism and been chrismated beyond their youth.

Poland Visit of His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin - 05/16/15

Archbishop Benjamin arrived at the Chopin International Airport in Warsaw in the early part of the evening of Monday, May 4 and was greeted by Archbishop AVEL of Lublin and Chelm and Archpriest Arkadiusz Mironko of the Diocese of the West. A native of Poland, Fr. Arkadiusz is attached to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles and is on the faculty of UC Riverside.

There are some significant connections between the Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Church of Poland. St. Patriarch Tikhon was the Bishop of Chelm before coming to North America. We also share a newmartyr, the Hieromartyr Bazyl Martysz who served both in Alaska and Pennsylvania and, after returning to Poland, became a military chaplain and was martyred for his faith. Our diocese has had several priests from Poland in addition to Fr. Arkadiusz. Archpriest Bazyl Kalinowski, and the departed Archpriests Gregory Szyrinski, and Anatoly Fedoruk.

A Paschal Meditation - 05/15/15

A Paschal Meditation: The Nature of Our Witness of Christ's Resurrection
by Father Lawrence Russell

What does it mean when we who are not eye-witnesses of Christ's Resurrection sing the word “beheld” in the Paschal Hymn “Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ” rather than singing “Having believed in the Resurrection of Christ?” Is it a matter of poetic license? Is it really only ocular vision that constitutes seeing? Is it only those who see with their physical eyes that can be counted as “real” witnesses?

I have always been intrigued by the fact that the Apostles and disciples did not immediately recognize the resurrected Christ at their first sight of Him. And it only added to my interest when I read the Evangelist Luke’s note that the eyes of the two disciples that the Resurrected Christ joined on their journey to Emmaus (Luke, himself, and Cleopas, according to Orthodox tradition) were “held that they should not know Him”. The risen Christ’s closest disciples mistook Him for a stranger (Lu. 24:18), a gardener (Jn. 20:15), and even a ghost (Lu. 24:37) upon first seeing Him. Even more mysterious are the words written by the Apostle John about the disciples' thoughts during the post-resurrection meal of fish and bread on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias: “And none of the disciples dared ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.” (Jn. 21:12).


Do you ever wish the Orthodox Church could be its own lender rather than relying on for-profit banks? This was a question asked for many years at Diocesan Council meetings. We now have a non-profit entity, blessed by Archbishop Benjamin and incorporated separately from the Diocese of the West, to create this new approach to Church financing within and beyond our Diocese. 

On May 8th, the Board of Directors of the Orthodox Church Capital Improvement Fund (OCCIF) met at St. Spiridon Cathedral in Seattle Washington, to finalize the plans for their first direct mailing campaign, developed to grow the lending base of this new and vital program. The campaign is set to be distributed in late June.

Ashland parish to build new church - 05/13/15

adapted from an article published in The Tidings by John Darling here.

Supporters of the first-ever full-scale and permanent Orthodox Church building south of Eugene in Southern Oregon on Thursday, May 7, burned down a decrepit old house near the Valley View freeway interchange just north of Ashland and have begun fundraising to build their church there in a “Byzantine style.”

The Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church has been meeting for 20 years at the Walsh Memorial Newman center just above the Southern Oregon University campus but, says Father Andreas Blom, priest of the church, the congregation has grown to exceed 150 members on the rolls, with 70-90 in attendance each Sunday, and has outgrown its current facility.

They’ve been holding services in recent weeks at the Shops at Exit 24 in Phoenix and will continue to do so, he said, until they raise enough money to break ground on the church. It will be roughly 45 feet high, with a spherical dome in the Byzantine/Balkan style, rather than the Russian style with onion domes.

The church owns seven acres in the 600 block of South Valley View Drive. The property is north of Interstate 5 and south of West Butler Lane, near the on-ramp heading north on I-5. They had a dramatic burn-to-learn exercise performed by Fire District 5 Thursday morning, clearing the land for the church.

Architects drawings of the 3,150-square-foot church are not yet available. Fundraising for $1.5 million is underway among the Orthodox Church at large and the Ashland-based church, he said.

Consecration of Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa - 01/25/15

Photograph galleries: Our gratitude to Aaron Brodeur for his photographs from the Friday Evening Nomination and Reception and the Saturday Divine Liturgy, Consecration, and Banquet. Photograps are also available from the OCA web site. Photographs from His Grace's first liturgy in Santa Rosa are also available.


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