Be the Bee # 169 | Why We Venerate Icons (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Triumph of Orthodoxy)

“On this day, the first Sunday of Lent, we commemorate the restoration of the holy and venerable icons…” (Synaxarion for the Sunday of Orthodoxy) In this Episode:

00:00​ Sunday of Orthodoxy

1:34​ Connection to Great Lent

2:33​ Prophets & Promise

4:48​ Jacob’s Ladder

8:33​ Seeing the Lord’s Face

9:36​ Promise Fulfilled

12:15​ The Triumph of Orthodoxy

What this Episode is About: After weeks of learning about forgiveness and pride and judgment, we begin Great Lent with a Sunday dedicated to icons. Why? On one level, this is the anniversary of the triumph over Iconoclasm in 843 AD. But there’s more to this triumph than meets the eye. So we’ll take a deep dive into the theology of icons to learn that God made a promise to His saints. That He would unite heaven and earth. That we could look upon the face of the Lord and live. And this promise is fulfilled in us. We hold up icons as proof of this promise, the treasures we display in the Triumph of Orthodoxy. As always, we’ve prepared a FREE downloadable workbook to help you act on what you’ll learn. ***CLICK HERE***

COVID-19 Vaccines, Abortion & the Use of Fetal Cells

Later this afternoon, I will get vaccinated against COVID-19. I won’t know until I get to the county health department whether it will be the first of two or a single injection.

The manufacturers use of cells from aborted children has raised ethical reservation about the vaccine itself. As you may have seen in various media reports, several Catholic bishops have discouraged their faithful from receiving the various vaccines for this reason. This has lead some to question the morality of getting the vaccine even when doing so would likely mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and life of both the recipient and others.

On these points, a group of Catholic Pro-Life scholars have published a statement addressing the moral acceptability of all the different COVID-19 vaccines. The analysis is excellent. While too technical for general distribution, it address with clarity and charity, the manufacturers’ use of cells from an aborted child and the concerns this raises in the hearts of many.

Acknowledging this concern they statement goes on to say write that

While there is a technical causal linkage between each of the current vaccines and prior abortions of human persons, we are all agreed, that connection does not mean that vaccine use contributes to the evil of abortion or shows disrespect for the remains of unborn human beings. Accordingly, Catholics, and indeed, all persons of good will who embrace a culture of life for the whole human family, born and unborn, can use these vaccines without fear of moral culpability.

The authors go on to say that while there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated, those who don’t “must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent. In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable.” You can find the statement here.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Pastor’s Note for Sunday, 21 June 2020

Sunday June 21 (O.S., June 8), 2020
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
All Saints of America
Glory to Jesus Christ!

This past Monday (6/15), Dane County began Phase 2 of our re-opening (Forward Dane). Based on the size of our space, we can accommodate approximately 30-40 people As a practical matter, this means that everyone who wants to do so is now able to attend Liturgy.  You can attend either in the chapel or the fellowship room if you are more comfortable doing so.

The guidelines below about social distancing and face masks are not unique to our diocese but are standard for all parishes in the United States and reflect the recommendation of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in America (Assembly of Bishops Releases Guidelines and Considerations for Safer Orthodox Church Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic).

Social Distancing. I would ask you to comply with the request from Metropolitan ANTONY and Archbishop DANIEL to maintain as much as possible a distance of 6 feet. Again as a practical matter, this means maintaining social distance between households rather than individuals as such. To help with this, all the large chairs have been removed from the chapel. There are folding chairs along the walls for those who need them.

Face Masks. Please remember as well that for all adults (13+) and can do so, face masks are mandatory. There are disposable masks available on the table outside the chapel door. Please dispose of the masks in the trash can when you leave the building.

Coffee Hour. While a full coffee hours is not currently possible (i.e., no snacks) we will have coffee outside in the parking lot after Liturgy.

Liturgical Schedule. Great Vespers will again be celebrated starting the Saturday afternoon (6/20) at 5 pm. I’ll hear confessions both before (starting at 4pm) and after the service. Divine Liturgy will be celebrated Sunday at 9:30am with Hours & Pre-communion Prayers starting at 9:15am.

A Final Word. The last several weeks, months really, have been a trial for all of us. Not only have our daily lives been upended with safer-at-home orders with many of us were required to work from home when we weren’t faced with reduced hour or even unemployment. We have seen what are (for American’s anyway) uncharacteristically empty grocery store shelves. Added to this recent weeks have seen protests and riots not only around the country and the world but down the street.

And of course we have not been able to pray together and receive Holy Communion together under the same roof.

The temptation in all this is to forget that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We hear almost daily pundits and politicians who make the simplistic and unwarranted assumption that disagreements about practical matters about the pandemic or race relations are evidence of a wicked intention on the part of those with whom they disagree.

For months, we have all been subject to the overwhelming, unrelenting drum beat of dissension not so much as the meaning of citizenship but about how to foster the common good and to “secure the blessings of liberty” for all. Given this it is not unexpected that we would be tempted to think in similar ways about the life of the Church.

We must avoid the temptation to assume that disagreements about practical matters is evidence that our brothers and sisters in Christ are motivated by malice, stupidity or an absence of faith.

Succumbing to this temptation harms not only my own soul but my neighbor’s soul as well. Worse, it makes me an ally of the Enemy of Souls who lives only to divide us from God and each other.

Over the last few weeks and months, I have come to an ever deeper appreciation of the late Soviet dissident  Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s insight that The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.Whatever else it might require, our vocation as Orthodox Christians–our evangelical witness as much as our own spiritual life and life as a parish–begins and ends in our willingness to see and bless even the smallest expression of goodness that we encounter in our neighbor and society. It is only in doing this first that we prove ourselves faithful to the Scripture:He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:9-11).I am looking forward to seeing all of you this weekend. FINALLY!

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Sunday Sermons & Livestream Services

Christ is Risen!

Before the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine order here in Madison, I’ve been posting written versions of the Sunday homily. Since the ‘safer-at-home’ order here, we’ve been livestreaming the Liturgy. Rather than posting the sermon, I would invite you to attend Liturgy online via our parish Facebook page: Ss Cyril & Methodius Ukrainian Orthodox Mission.

Thank you for your continued participation and support. May God keep you and yours safe and healthy!

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Coronavirus Update

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Weekly Services:
Presanctified Liturgy & Great Vespers: CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Divine Liturgy, 9:30 AM Sunday

Because of the Corona Virus and out of concern both for the health of the faithful and the general public, the bishops have directed that the parishes NOT celebrate any of the divine services EXCEPT Sunday Liturgy:

We direct that ALL liturgical worship services in our parish communities, except for Sunday Divine Liturgy, must be suspended until further notice.We direct all our beloved and devoted clergy to celebrate Divine Liturgy every Sunday morning, without a choir, but with the participation of at least a reader or cantor.  The Eucharist MUST be offered “in behalf of all and for all” during this horrific crisis. We will not close the doors of our parish churches in the face of our faithful who wish to participate in the Liturgy but the restrictions of remaining at least six feet apart must be followed as per regulations set by federal, state and local governments and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You can read their letter on the matter here.

Therefore, beginning this week and for the foreseeable future, we will not celebrate either the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified or Great Vespers. I will be available BEFORE (8:30 on) and AFTER Liturgy if you want to go to confession.

The bishops asked that those over 65 years old, those with chronic health issues or any who might be ill to please not come to church for their own health and the health of others:

…we do direct that ALL our faithful over the age of 65 completely refrain from visiting their parish churches because they are the most vulnerable and susceptible to the pandemic virus.  Further, regarding all other faithful, we can no longer recommend that “those who exhibit no symptoms continue to gather for services”. THE RISK OF INDIVIDUAL “SELF-DETERMINATION” OF ILLNESS OR SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS, A FLU OR SIMPLY A COLD – INCLUDING YOUR OWN HIERARCHS – ARE SIMPLY NOT ACCURATE IN TOO MANY INSTANCES. We have canceled all our own scheduled parish visitations throughout this pandemic crisis, so that no obligation is perceived by the faithful to be present to welcome their hierarchs.

As your pastor, I would recommend that all of you, but especially those over 65 or with chronic health concerns, exercise great prudence in your fasting in the coming weeks. As the bishops point out, one can be infected while also not exhibiting symptoms. Fasting is meant to weaken the body to free the soul. In our current situation, it is important for us to remain healthy not only so we can meet our obligations to Christ, our family, friends and work but also so that we don’t inadvertently become a source of illness for those in the community. Therefore I would recommend that those who can, fast as strictly as they are able on Wednesday and Friday. Use your discretion for the other days of the week.

Some of you will not be at Liturgy on Sundays. This is perfectly fine. For those who wish to do so, I have sent a copy of the Typica service that can be said in place of attending Liturgy (here). If you have trouble opening or printing the pdf, please let me know and I’ll send the service directly to you.

Finally, it breaks my heart that we because of the pandemic, we will not seeing each other on a regular basis. Please pray for our bishops, Mtka Mary and I, even as we are all praying for each of you.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory