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
THE RULES OF FASTING IN THE GREAT LENT
from The Lenten Triodion
by Bishop Kallistos Ware and Mother Mary (pages 35-37)
Within this developed pattern of Lent, what precisely do the rules of fasting demand? Neither in ancient nor in modern times has there ever been exact uniformity, but most Orthodox authorities agree on the following rules:
(1) DONE — During the week between the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee and that of the Prodigal Son, there is a general dispensation from all fasting. Meat and animal products may be eaten even on Wednesday and Friday.
(2) JUST DONE — THIS WEEK, often termed the 'Week of Carnival', the usual fast is kept on Wednesday and Friday. Otherwise there is no special fasting.
(3) THIS WEEK — In the Week before Lent, meat is forbidden, but eggs, cheese and other dairy products may be eaten on all days, including Wednesday and Friday.
(4) On weekdays (Monday to Friday inclusive) during the seven weeks of Lent, there are restrictions both on the number of meals taken daily and on the types of food permitted; but when a meal is allowed, there is no fixed limitation on the quantity of food to be eaten.
It has always been held that these rules of fasting should be relaxed in the case of anyone elderly or in poor health. In present-day practice, even for those in good health, the full strictness of the fast is usually mitigated. Only a few Orthodox today attempt to keep a total fast on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in the first week, or on the first three days in Holy Week. On weekdays - except, perhaps, during the first week or Holy Week - it is now common to eat two cooked meals daily instead of one. From the second until the sixth week, many Orthodox use wine, and perhaps oil also, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and less commonly on Mondays as well. Permission is often given to eat fish in these weeks. Personal factors need to be taken into account, as for example the situation of an isolated Orthodox living in the same household as non-Orthodox, or obliged to take meals in a factory or school canteen. In cases of uncertainty each should seek the advice of his or her spiritual father. At all times it is essential to bear in mind that 'you are not under the law but under grace' (Rom. 6:14), and that 'the letter kills, but the spirit gives life' (2 Cor. 3:6). The rules of fasting, while they need to be taken seriously, are not to be interpreted with dour and pedantic legalism; 'for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom. 14:17).
PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Paths of Righteousness, the hiking group launched at St. Michael’s last year under the leadership of Pete Papas and Fr. Sam Smolcic, is eagerly planning their 2020 hiking season! The group will again embark on wilderness hikes of 5 to 7 miles in length on Saturdays on established trails in Westmoreland, Fayette, Somerset, Indiana and Cambria Counties.
Fr. Sam has extensive experience on these trails and will be choosing routes of easy to moderate difficulty. He has twenty-five different hikes in this region mapped out in in his repertoire, all of which inspire praise to our Lord, “whose Name is majestic in all the earth.” (Psalm 8:9)
Adult hikers of both genders are welcome, with the only requirement being that they be fit enough an able to do the hike. Also, hikers with First Aid experience will be enthusiastically welcomed to participate. Hikes will take place approximately once every 6 weeks from April throughy late September. A very preliminary schedule of the hikes is as follows:
1 — April 4 3 — June 27 5 — September 19
2 — May 16 4 — August 8
The first date is fairly certain; subsequent dates are frim, but may be changed subject to weather forecasts.
Contact Pete Papas in person, by phone (412-558-1246), or by email (email@example.com) if you are interested in becoming a part of this outdoor fellowship of those who are moved to “praise the Lord from the heavens” and “praise Him in the heights.” (Psalm 148:1) An orientation meeting will take place prior to the first hike.
St. Michael's Holy Gospel
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St. Michael's Epistle Reading
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The Beauty Of Our Icons
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Confessions will be heard
following each of the services
of the first week of Great Lent
Dear Parish Family
Blessed Feast! House Blessings have begun!
That means that I’d better get busy. But if we look a little deeper and in the spirit of “going to God,” the parish house blessings are all of our business because we are all part of the same family, one whose sole purpose is for all of its members to “go to God.”
In a manner of speaking, the priest visiting our homes is like us going to Confession because it is a seemingly private affair that reflects a very inclusive and communal activity. In antiquity, Confession was a public matter — right out there in front of everyone in the church family. (We recently had an opportunity to experience that.) Parishes used to be made up of tight-knit, interrelated families and neighborhood friends — community. Today, the only thing that might link the actual places where we live to each other, may be that the person we call ‘Father’ occasionally crosses the threshold of the family homes.
Just as the priest hearing your Confession does so in behalf of the whole community, likewise his visit and the blessing of your home is accomplished in behalf of the whole community. It is a link between all of us. Therefore, I need your cooperation in my being responsible for completing the house blessing work.
How can we do that? Discipline will be key to our connection in the house blessing this year. There are about eight weeks available for me to visit us, somewhere between 100 and 120 stops, before Great Lent arrives. This year my intention remains to be not just visiting, but continuing a parish conversation about what matters most — our soul’s going to Christ, the “working out of our salvation,” and the sharing of this “going” and “working” with others.
So here are some practical guidelines that I’m asking you to be aware of for this year’s visits:
1) One goal will be to make optimal use of about an hour in each home.
2) A second goal will be to have the conversation focus on things that matter most — your sharing your thoughts, observations, questions, about being a Christian here at Saint Michael’s; your personal and corporate concerns in life.
3) Dinner visits will not work if all of our homes are to be blessed before Great Lent. (Water, tea, coffee, will be thankfully sufficient).
4) Very importantly, please help with scheduling by not being too concerned with anything more than being sure to ‘book’ your visit as soon as possible. (Call Debbie.)
If you call Debbie and schedule your house blessing your basic work will be done. If you do not call to schedule before this Friday, you will receive a call from the church office phone from Chris Fekos, who made the mistake of asking me what he might do to repay the kindness he has experienced over the lasts three months since he joined our church. I told him it would be great if he could help me schedule appointments. So, beginning this Friday evening, Chris will begin making calls to expedite the scheduling effort.
So, please, call Debbie (724-834-1311) or Fr. John (724-244-1228) to schedule your house blessing or answer the phone when Chris calls.
Let’s make this house blessing season break-through miraculous!