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
St. Michael's Holy Gospel
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St. Michael's Epistle Reading
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ANTIOCHAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN ARCHDIOCESE
OF NORTH AMERICA
Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday
Beloved Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy and Christ-loving Faithful of our Archdiocese:
Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you and your families are well as we progress in the Nativity Fast with anticipation of the birth of our Savior in the flesh.
Just four days ago we celebrated the feast of St. John O Damascus, one of the great musical composers of our Orthodox Faith. In his Troparion, we refer to him as “the nightingale” because of his beautiful compositions. His hymns, along with countless others going back to the earliest days of the Church, continue to be sung in our churches. As such, the role of music and choirs in our divine services is of the utmost importance. With that in mind, it is with great joy that we honor today in our parishes throught the archdiocese our choirs and chanters who sing praises to the Lord and beautify our divine services this their angelic voices.
While we set aside this day in December each year to give them special recognition, we strive throughout the year as an archdiocese to give them the resources and support they need by providing the proper liturgical texts with links to correct jusical settings and sponsoring sacred music institutes at both the Antiochian Village in the summer and a lovation in another part of the archdiocese each February, amd making available an ever growing librarty of sacread music in both four part and Byzantine settings on our archdiocese website.
It is our prayer that our parishes will partner with us in giving the same encouragement to our choir directors and members by supporting them locally and helping them to gain new and young members to continue this important and sacred ministry of the Church.
Recently, we welcomed our new archdiocesan chair of the Department of Sacred Music, Ms. Mareena Boosamra-Ball, whom you will get to know more and more in the coming months. Like so many of our leaders in this archdiocese, she has dedicated over 40 years of her loife to directing her local parich choir and over 30 years as the dioce3san coordinator for the Diocese of the West. Now she will chair the Department of Sacred Music, bringing her talents and experience to a wider audience. We look forward to her leadership as she begins her work.
Finally, we thank all of our choir directors, chanters and choir members throughout our archdiocese for their dedication and ministyry. Most of you serve on a volunteer basis or for very lille compensation for your work and we are grateful for your time and talents you give each and every week. May God bless you all and grant you strength to continue giving praise to God.
Wishing you and your families a blessed remainder of the Nativity Fast and a joyous Feast, I remain,
Yours in the service of Christ,
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America
Megalynarion Verses from the Nativity Paraklesis
to the Theotokos
(for your contemplation and singing)
1) Higher than the heavens above art thou,
And thou art much purer than the radiance of the sun;
For thou hast redeemed us out of the curse that held us.
O Mistress of Creation, with hymns we honor thee!
2) From the great abundance of all my sins,
Ill am I in body, ailing also am I in soul.
Thee have I as refuge; do thou, therefore, help me,
O Hope of all the hopeless, for thou art full of grace.
3) O Lady and Mother of Christ our God,
Receive supplication from us sinners who beg of thee
That thou make entreaty unto the One born from thee;
O Mistress of Creation, pray thou to God for us!
4) Now we chant with eagerness unto thee,
With this hymn most joyful, Theotokos, all lauded one;
Together with the Baptist and all the saints together,
Beseech, O Theotokos, that we find clemency.
5) Let us purge our bodies and souls of sin,
That with a pure conscience we may welcome in Bethlehem
Christ the King of Glory, who cometh to be born of
The Virgin, pure and sinless. Come, let us worship Him!
6) Thou, O lowly manger, prepare thyself.
Hasten, O ye shepherds, for the birth of Christ is at hand.
Hurry on, ye magi, and gather, all ye angels,
And shout, “To Thee be glory, Who for our sakes art born!”
7) “Glory be to God who is born today
Of the Virgin Mother in the city of Bethlehem.
Thus cry men and angels with voices joined in chorus
In worship of the Savior’s holy Nativity.
8) Thou are the Mystical Paradise,
O Theotokos, in which blossomed Christ;
Through Him the life-bearing Wood of the Cross was planted upon earth.
As we bow down before It, we magnify thee.
9) O all ye array of angelic hosts,
O ye Holy Baptist, and ye Holy Apostles,
All the saints together, as well as God’s Birth-Giver,
Pray make ye intercession for our deliverance.
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);