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Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

Registered Charity Number: 1175538

Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East

'... And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch'

Acts 11:26

Home » Archives for April 2016

Monthly Archives: April 2016

Christ is Risen! (from the Metropolitan)

pascha5Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

The whole of creation, the visible and the invisible together, celebrates the great feast of the Resurrection of the Lord; this is its goal, the purpose and fulfilment of Creation. Therefore, to participate in the Resurrection, man must participate in the life of Christ.

In the Resurrection Christ is victorious over death and Hell, transforming and enabling mankind to receive everlasting life. He transforms darkness into light. He transforms pain and suffering into joy.  He achieves the salvation of wretched man, condemned by sin. He then ascends as man into Heaven so that mankind can also ascend with Him. In this way, by His Resurrection, our Lord opens the road to eternal life for each one of us afflicted by the sinful condition of Adam, and this can happen to all of us if we accept the way of our Lord as our way. When this comes about in our lives we become the people of the Resurrection, receiving the grace bestowed on the saints, and we are glorified with Christ and all those who have laboured and struggled to be freed of their passions which cause sin and death.

“O Lord make us the children of Your Resurrection. Remove from our souls the yearning for pride, arrogance, enmity and hate. Raise us up; resurrect us by Your cross so that we can desire Your love, and, grace us through Your forgiveness with Your freedom.”

I rejoice and celebrate with you all and your parishes and families.
May you always be blessed!

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!
+ Silouan
Metropolitan of the British Isles and Ireland

God save the Queen! A Message from the Metropolitan

Beloved in Christ,

queen-90-2Today we celebrate with great joy the birthday of our beloved Queen and offer heartfelt thanks to God for Her long reign and life of selfless duty, service and Christian faith.

We are greatly blessed to have faithful monarchs whose wisdom and guidance are an example to us all.

I ask all parishes to pray for Her health and protection from all harm for Her and Her family, heirs and successors.

We hope and pray that God grants Her many years in health and strength guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit to do His will in all things for His glory and for our well-being and salvation.

In Christ
Metropolitan Silouan
Metropolitan Bishop of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

Palm Sunday (24th April)

entry-jerusalem3xPeople had gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover and were looking for Jesus, both because of His great works and teaching and because they had heard of the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus. When they heard that Christ was entering the city, they went out to meet Him with palm branches, laying their garments on the ground before Him, and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”

At the outset of His public ministry Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and announced that the powers of the age to come were already active in the present age (Luke 7:18-22). His words and mighty works were performed “to produce repentance as the response to His call, a call to an inward change of mind and heart which would result in concrete changes in one’s life, a call to follow Him and accept His messianic destiny. The triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is a messianic event, through which His divine authority was declared.

Palm Sunday summons us to behold our King: the Word of God made flesh. We are called to behold Him not simply as the One who came to us once riding on a colt, but as the One who is always present in His Church, coming ceaselessly to us in power and glory at every Eucharist, in every prayer and sacrament, and in every act of love, kindness and mercy. He comes to free us from all our fears and insecurities, “to take solemn possession of our soul, and to be enthroned in our heart,” as someone has said. He comes not only to deliver us from our deaths by His death and Resurrection, but also to make us capable of attaining the most perfect fellowship or union with Him. He is the King, who liberates us from the darkness of sin and the bondage of death. Palm Sunday summons us to behold our King: the vanquisher of death and the giver of life.

Palm Sunday summons us to accept both the rule and the kingdom of God as the goal and content of our Christian life. We draw our identity from Christ and His kingdom. The kingdom is Christ – His indescribable power, boundless mercy and incomprehensible abundance given freely to man. The kingdom does not lie at some point or place in the distant future. In the words of the Scripture, the kingdom of God is not only at hand (Matthew 3:2; 4:17), it is within us (Luke 17:21). The kingdom is a present reality as well as a future realization (Matthew 6:10). Theophan the Recluse wrote the following words about the inward rule of Christ the King:

“The Kingdom of God is within us when God reigns in us, when the soul in its depths confesses God as its Master, and is obedient to Him in all its powers. Then God acts within it as master ‘both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13). This reign begins as soon as we resolve to serve God in our Lord Jesus Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then the Christian hands over to God his consciousness and freedom, which comprises the essential substance of our human life, and God accepts the sacrifice; and in this way the alliance of man with God and God with man is achieved, and the covenant with God, which was severed by the Fall and continues to be severed by our willful sins, is re-established.”

The kingdom of God is the life of the Holy Trinity in the world. It is the kingdom of holiness, goodness, truth, beauty, love, peace and joy. These qualities are not works of the human spirit. They proceed from the life of God and reveal God. Christ Himself is the kingdom. He is the God-Man, Who brought God down to earth (John 1:1,14). “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world knew Him not. He came to His own home, and His own people received Him not” (John 1:10-11). He was reviled and hated.

Palm Sunday summons us to behold our king – the Suffering Servant. We cannot understand Jesus’ kingship apart from the Passion. Filled with infinite love for the Father and the Holy Spirit, and for creation, in His inexpressible humility Jesus accepted the infinite abasement of the Cross. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; He was wounded for our transgressions and made Himself an offering for sin (Isaiah 53). His glorification, which was accomplished by the resurrection and the ascension, was achieved through the Cross.

In the fleeting moments of exuberance that marked Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the world received its King, the king who was on His way to death. His Passion, however, was no morbid desire for martyrdom. Jesus’ purpose was to accomplish the mission for which the Father sent Him.

“The Son and Word of the Father, like Him without beginning and eternal, has come today to the city of Jerusalem, seated on a dumb beast, on a foal. From fear the cherubim dare not gaze upon Him; yet the children honor Him with palms and branches, and mystically they sing a hymn of praise: ‘Hosanna in the highest, Hosanna to the Son of David, who has come to save from error all mankind.’” (a hymn of the Light.)

“With our souls cleansed and in spirit carrying branches, with faith let us sing Christ’s praises like the children, crying with a loud voice to the Master: Blessed art Thou, O Savior, who hast come into the world to save Adam from the ancient curse; and in Thy love for mankind Thou hast been pleased to become spiritually the new Adam. O Word, who hast ordered all things for our good, glory to Thee.” (a sessional hymn of the Orthros)

 

Passion (Holy) Week and Pascha (Easter) in the Orthodox Church

christ_bridegroomThe Services of Holy Week and Easter are many and a rich source of salvation in our lives through the power and operation of the Holy Spirit.  Through them we become more closely conformed to Christ through whom we receive the death destroying life of Pascha from the Father.  Here follows a very short guide to the services of Passion Week (or Great and Holy Week) and Pascha (Easter) in the Orthodox Church.
On Great and Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we serve the Bridegroom Matins.  This puts our hearts in readiness to receive Christ the Bridegroom who will come perhaps when we least expect. We must always be prepared to greet him by watchfulness and prayer.  (Usually served the evening before, ie., Sunday, Monday and Tuesday).
The Divine Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts is also served on the mornings of these three days.
On Great and Holy Wednesday evening we serve the Unction Service of Healing. Hearing the 7 gospels and imploring the healing grace of Christ we are anointed and made whole.
On Great and Holy and Thursday at the Liturgy we celebrate our Lord’s Institution of the Eucharist in the Vesperal Liturgy.  This may include the Foot-Washing of the people.  (This Liturgy can be served on Thursday morning).
crucifixion_icon
On Great and Holy Friday at Matins we proclaim the 12 Passion Gospels.  In this service the holy and life giving cross is installed in the nave.  (This service is often served on Holy Thursday evening).  At Vespers on Holy Friday (mid-afternoon) we take down the image of our Lord from the Cross and place it in a white shroud in the altar.  Shortly afterwards, the burial epitaphion (shroud) is solemnly processed into the nave where the icon of the crucified Christ is venerated with great devotion.  At Matins later in the same evening we sing the solemn but joyful funeral chant for our Lord and process with his icon in the epitaphion outside the Church. The people walk under the epitaphion as they come into Church to signify that through the cross they have passed from death to life.  They then venerate the gospel book and receive a flower from the epitaphion (venerated at the end of the service).

On Great and Holy Saturday at the Vesperal Divine Liturgy we anticipate the resurrection victory of Christ our God and particularly see this as a fulfilment of the great promise of redemption in the Law and the Prophets proclaimed in the 15 Old Testament Readings.  During the Song of the Three Holy Children the Temple and the Vestments are all changed from purple to white/gold to signify this change.  Baptisms and chrismations often take place in this service; this will be the case this year.  The epitaphion is then brought into the Altar where it remains until the end of Pascha.  This Liturgy can take place on Saturday morning – alternatively in the late afternoon.

pascha5
In the evening of Holy Saturday in a darkened temple we read the Acts of the Apostles in its entirety.  Pascha marks the beginning of the new Israel of God, the Church. Afterwards we serve the Midnight Office or Nocturnes which prepare our hearts and minds to enter into the joy of Paschal victory.  We then process around the temple, enter and celebrate the resurrection with “Christ is Risen!” in many languages – concluding with the famous Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom.  There then follows Paschal Matins, the Paschal Liturgy and a Parish Agape Meal.  Later on the Sunday of Pascha, the Vespers of Love is served with the appearance to St. Thomas from St. John’s Gospel preached in as many languages as possible.