The mission of St. Michael's is to tend to the flock of our Lord Jesus Christ and to spread the Good News of Christ to those outside the flock. The mission is to be accomplished by:
- Living a full and liturgical and sacramental life
- Proclaiming the Orthodox Christian Faith to all people
- Providing effective charitable and social programs
- Establishing strong spiritual leadership and educational resources
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November 21, 2019
Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple is a spiritual foreshadowing of our entrance into the heavenly kingdom. This foreshadowing provides us with our own preparation for entrance into the heavenly realm. In addition, the feast provides us with an example of the necessary synergy between us and God in the spiritual struggle.
According to Holy Tradition, the most holy Child was placed on the first step. It seemed that the Child could not make it up this stairway. But just as She was placed on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, She quickly went up the remaining steps and ascended to the highest one. Her zeal and love for God compelled Her to climb the remaining fourteen steps in spite of Her tender age of three. When the Most Holy Theotokos entered the Holy of Holies, She remained there communing with the triune God and being ministered to by angels.
Saint John Maximovitch remarks that She was not immune from the frailty of human nature. "Despite the righteousness and the immaculateness of life which the Mother of God led, sin and eternal death manifested their presence in Her. They could not but be manifested: Such is the precise and faithful teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning the Mother of God with relation to original sin and death" (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, "Exposition of the Teaching of the Orthodox Church on the Mother of God"). "A stranger to any fall into sin" (St. Ambrose of Milan, Commentary on the 118th Psalm), She was not a stranger to sinful temptations. "God alone is without sin" (St. Ambrose, same source), while man will always have in himself something yet needing correction and perfection in order to fulfil the commandment of God; “Be ye holy as I the Lord your God am Holy.” (Leviticus 19:2) The more pure and perfect one is, the more he notices his imperfections and considers himself all the more unworthy.
She struggled ascetically for nine years in the Temple, communing with God, assisting the needy, and engaging in handcrafts. She grew in holiness and love for God and all mankind in direct relation to Her ascetical efforts.
We would do well to learn from the example of the Most Holy Theotokos. No spiritual growth can occur without our willingness to engage in the ascetical struggle. Let us heed Her example while there is still time.
A blessed feast to all! Most Holy Theotokos save us!
Yours in Christ,
+ Bishop Thomas
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic
“The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11: 26)
4407 Kanawha Ave. SE, Charleston, WV 25304-1734 (724) 787-9832 Phone
The Nativity Fast is one of the four
Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year.
This is a joyous fast in anticipation of the Nativity of Christ. That is the reason it is less strict than other fasting periods. The fast is divided into two periods. The 1st period is November 15th through December 19th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Similarly, fish, wine, and oil are permitted on Saturdays and Sundays. The 2nd period is December 20th through 24th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil only on Saturday and Sunday during this period. Here are the guidelines:
1) Throughout the Fast we are to abstain from all meat and dairy products.
2) Fish with a backbone may be eaten on Saturdays and Sundays before December 20.
3) Wine (alcohol) are permitted on Tuesdays, Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays before December 20.
4) Oil is permitted on Tuesdays, Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays before December 20.
Abstinence includes refraining from the food and drink mentioned above, as well as from smoking. The Eucharistic Fast means abstaining from at least the previous midnight for communing at a morning Liturgy.
The Purpose of Fasting
The purpose of fasting is to focus on the things that are above, the Kingdom of God. It is a means of putting on virtue in reality, here and now. Through it we are freed from dependence on worldly things. We fast faithfully and in secret, not judging others, and not holding ourselves up as an example.
Fasting in itself is not a means of pleasing God. Fasting is not a punishment for our sins. Nor is fasting a means of suffering and pain to be undertaken as some kind of atonement. Christ already redeemed us on His Cross. Salvation is a gift from God that is not bought by our hunger or thirst.
We fast to be delivered from carnal passions so that God’s gift of Salvation may bear fruit in us.
We fast and turn our eyes toward God in His Holy Church. Fasting and prayer go together.
Fasting is not irrelevant. Fasting is not obsolete, and it is not something for someone else. Fasting is from God, for us, right here and right now.
Most of all, we should not devour each other. We ask God to “set a watch and keep the door of our lips.”
Do NOT fast between December 25 and January 5 (even on Wednesdays and Fridays);
Our Annual General Parish Meeting
(with Parish Council Elections)
will be convened on
Sunday, December 1.