Dual Lenten Retreats in Concord, CA - 03/16/19
St Michael Orthodox Church in Concord, CA will be hosting two retreats during this lenten season!
The first, on Saturday April 6th, will be for women only, with Mother Macrina Roeber as keynote speaker
The second, on Saturday April 13th, for men only, will be given by Rev Edward Henderson
LENTEN MESSAGE OF HIS EMINENCE, ARCHBISHOP BENJAMIN - 03/08/19
GREAT LENT 2019
To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Diocese of the West
Each year, we are given ample “warning” that Great Lent is approaching. The Church, for weeks, begins to move our minds to the effort to which we are called. And yet we constantly seem surprised that it is here! Great Lent is so easily understood as seven weeks of “following rules.” Which foods we can eat, how often to come to services, how often to come to confession, which books are better to read? The opposite temptation is to look at our Lenten effort as a bunch of “negatives.” Which foods are we not supposed to eat, what am I supposed to “give up” as my discipline?
But the warning lights that have been flashing in the Church for more than a month now teach us something different. We begin with Zacchaeus, hear about the Publican and Pharisee and the Prodigal Son, are warned about the Great Judgment at the end of time, then are finally reminded by the Lord that if “you cannot forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive yours.” The common lesson is that our faith is the faith of the Other. Zacchaeus sought out the Other, the publican couldn’t even look up to the Other, the Prodigal returned to the Other, the redeemed at the end of time are redeemed because they cared for the Other, and finally we bow down before the Other seeking forgiveness.
The Other, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ, and Great Lent is our journey towards His Passion, Death and Resurrection. But it is also obvious from the lessons the Church has given us that our faith is exercised by seeing the Other in each other. The rules of Great Lent mean nothing if they are not ultimately manifested in the way we treat each other as the Other. St. John Chrysostom asks “Why do you fast from fish and fowl when you devour each other?” Perhaps our greatest Lenten effort isn’t how much we fast, pray, come to church, confess our sins and give to the poor, but rather our greatest effort is to begin all those by seeking the Other, transfiguring our meager efforts into spiritual feats as great as the Saints because they are infused with the presence of Christ Himself and the power of the Holy Spirit.
I ask each of you, my spiritual children, to forgive me as we enter into the holy tithe of the year. I wish for all my faithful parishes and each and every one of you a most fruitful and joyous Fast. May we all rejoice in the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at the end of these most holy days.
With love in Christ,
Diocesan Pilgrimage to Spruce Island and Alaska - 02/25/19
Join your fellow Orthodox believers in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of St. Herman of Alaska’s gloriﬁcation and the 50th Anniversary of the OCA’s autocephaly in 2020. There will be weekly trips to Alaska over the summer of 2020 sponsored by each of the dioceses of the OCA. The Diocese of the West will sponsor their trip July 8-14, 2020. This will be a special trip for all Orthodox believers. Sign up early and reserve your space. Final cost to be determined.
Core package includes:
* 7 days/6 nights accommodation
* Round trip air fare to Kodiak from Anchorage
* Excursion to Spruce Island
* Touring and sightseeing as listed in itinerary
For terms and conditions, passports, visas, baggage fees, air, additional taxes and travel insurance information visit https://www.culturallycreativetravel.com/pilgrimage-to-alaska-2020/or email email@example.com 713-688-6793.
Download the flyer here.
Winter Feasts and Jubilees - 02/08/19
On December 19th (New Style), the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Parish celebrated Divine Liturgy for St Nicholas Day. This is, of course, always a much revered occasion for any Orthodox parish, but all the more so in our strong Slavic immigrant community. But this St Nicholas Day had an added jubilant atmosphere, as on that very day our longtime Sisterhood President, Tatiana Dimitrievna Diedovitch (known lovingly by all as ‘Tata’), turned 90 years young.
Tata, like so many ethnic Russians whose families fled the country after the Bolshevik revolution, came to America (by way of Brazil) from Harbin, China. She still taps into her Chinese background from time to time, speaking Mandarin with the Chinese inspector from the San Mateo County Environmental Health Services department who comes during our annual Christmas Bazaar to ensure health codes are being enforced (which of, course, they are, under Tata’s watchful eye).
Successful Bay Area Walk for Life - 02/03/19
Another year of praying for an end to abortion and another peaceful, prayerful and successful West Coast Walk for Life! It was a joy to see so many Orthodox Christian clergy, monastics and faithful of so many jurisdictions. Special thanks to Father Serge Kotar for leading the service to end abortion; to Father Josiah Trenham, with the assistance of Emily Wilkinson, for organizing attendance by Southern Californians; and to Father Aris Metrakos of Holy Trinity Church and the wonderful staff at the Christopher Center for hosting them. We hope all are inspired and energized to incorporate sanctity of life prayer, service and education throughout the coming year.
You can download the PDF for the text of the service to end abortion here. You can also download the Encyclical of Metropolitan Evangelos, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey, on the recent New York abortion law here. While this encyclical responds to a recent event, it is also a concise statement on the Church's teaching on abortion. Its issuance is timely and greatly appreciated.
Rocky Mountain Deanery Winter Activities - 01/28/19
Rocky Mountain Deanery Heads North for Meeting and to Honor Bozeman Church
It’s funny how business sometimes gets done in Orthodox churches, and the results are often unexpected. Like most deaneries, the clergy of the Rocky Mountain Deanery of the Diocese of the West like to support their sister church communities by attending one another’s Altar Feasts. Last November, these brother-priests found themselves talking business while enjoying a festive meal at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Pueblo, CO. The question at hand: where and when should they meet for their more official meeting in early 2019? “Let’s go up to Bozeman (Montana) for their St. Anthony parish feast day!”
St. Anthony the Great Church up the northern clime of Montana is a wonderful account of God blessing a small group of Orthodox Christians who persevere, often against the common wisdom of church planting experts and wisdom. Under the pastoral care of Fr. David Morrison, St. Anthony’s recently “graduated” from mission status to that of a parish. As such, this fledgling Orthodox church was transferred from the diocesan-wide Mission Deanery to the Rocky Mountain Deanery. One of the great challenges of Orthodox churches in areas like Montana is tremendous isolation. The closest Orthodox Church to Bozeman is a 2 hour drive. In fact, it has been an ordeal for the Montana clergy to participate in the Deanery’s meetings, requiring an expensive flight or arduous drive down to Colorado. The Colorado members of the Deanery decided it was time to change that pattern; it was their turn to make the effort.
American River Blessing on Theophany - 01/15/19
On Sunday, January 6th, the Theopany of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, as well as His baptism in the River Jordan by John the Forerunner, the Reverend Timothy Winegar and faithful of Elevation of the Holy Cross Parish in Sacramento gathered at the banks of the American River for the Great Blessing of Water. The American River is a 120 mile waterway that originates in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and is known as the site where gold was discovered in 1848 that started the California Gold Rush. It flows into Folsom Lake just outside of Sacramento, and eventually confluences with the Sacramento River. By this confluence, the waters of the American flow into the San Francisco Bay Watershed. By flowing into the Bay, these waters then eventually join the Pacific Ocean and through the Pacific, reach the rest of the world. Thus, by blessing the river off of this rainy, rocky bank, the Orthodox faithful seen in these pictures invoke God's blessing on the living waters on the whole of His creation! "Great art Thou O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works, and there is no word sufficient to hymn Thy wonders!"
(photos courtesy of Melissa Dubovik)