Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church
Orthodox Church in America
Clifton, NJ
Check the Calendar!

Please keep an eye on upcoming events that can be found on the calendar page. It will be updated as soon as new information is obtained. Fr. Terry

Annual Parish Report March 2016
Caring for Creation by Recycling at Holy Assumption
Recycling ready to go!
Recycling ready to go!
Recycling ready to go!

Many of you would be familiar with the vestibule of our hall at Holy Assumption. I bet not many of you have seen it quite like this! For parishioners, perhaps garbage on a Tuesday but this is not garbage. The bags are full of reclyclable items! As an Orthodox Christian, I take our responsibility to care for God's creation by making sure we recycle used items. You can see there is a lot of it. I usually do it every few weeks, depending on how many functions we have had.

Why don't I just put the recycling out at the alloted times & let the town take it to sort out as it is done everywhere else? Clifton, as far as I am concerned, has a minimal program to look after its recycling. The city picks up every 3 weeks & if it isn't exactly they way they want it, they refuse to take it. It's also hard to remember the dates. At the city center, they have a recycling center where one can take the items to offload. It is well categorized but somewhat limited in the range of items they take. The city, of course, profits from what it receives from its people. I am sure that keeps some tax payers happy. As a theologian, however, I believe this task is a God given sacred responsibility & should not be regarded as a commodity to sell off.

This is but one aspect of trying to keep our parish "green." Believe it or not, all that will fit into my van!

Fr. Terence Baz

The Orthodox Christian Day of Prayers for the Environment
Patriarchal Message for the New Ecclesiastical Year and the Day for the Protection of the Natural Environment

 

Aug 26, 2015

Prot. No. 851

 

+ BARTHOLOMEW

By God’s Mercy

Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome

and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church Grace, Peace and Mercy

From the Creator, Sustainer and Governor of All Creation

Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

 

“All of creation is renewed by the Holy Spirit, returning to its original state.” (Anavathmoi, First Tone)

“Blessed are you, Lord, who alone daily renew the work of your hands.” (Basil the Great)

Brother concelebrants and blessed children in the Lord,

As everyone knows, September 1st of each year has been dedicated at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – and recently also by the Roman Catholic Church – as a day of prayer for the protection of the natural environment. On this day, we especially beseech the supreme God to gladden His creation so that human life therein may be joyful and fruitful. This prayer includes of course the petition that the inevitable natural climate changes may occur and be permitted within tolerable levels both for human survival and for the planet’s sustainability.

Nonetheless, we humans – whether as individual groups or collectively – behave contrary to this very request. For we suppress nature in such a manner that unforeseeable and undesirable changes occur to the climate and environment, which are negatively affected in their normal functions with consequent implications for life itself. The cumulative result of actions by particular individuals as well as by corporate and state activities with a view to reforming the natural environment so that it might produce more resources for those who take advantage of it only leads to the destruction of creation, which was created good by God and thus functions in a balanced way.

Those of us who appreciate the danger of climate change that is only increasing by day for our planet as a result of human actions raise our voice to highlight this crisis and invite everyone to explore what could be done “so that life is not lost for the sake of greed.” (United Nations Declaration)

Therefore, as Ecumenical Patriarch, we have expended years of efforts to inform the faithful of our Church and all people of good will about the grave risks deriving from growing (ab-)use of energy resources, which threatens increasing global warming and threatens the sustainability of the natural environment.

Orthodox Christians have learned from the Church Fathers to restrict and reduce our needs as far as possible. In response to the ethos of consumerism we propose the ethos of asceticism, namely an ethos of self-sufficiency to what is needed. This does not mean deprivation but rational and restrained consumption as well as the moral condemnation of waste. “So if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6.8), as the Lord’s Apostle urges us. And after the multiplication of the five loaves and the satisfaction of five thousand people, excluding women and children, Christ Himself ordered His disciples to collect the remainder “so that nothing would be lost.” (John 6.12) Unfortunately, contemporary societies have abandoned the application of this commandment, surrendering to wastefulness and irrational abuse to satisfy vain desires of prosperity. However, such conduct can be transformed for the sake of creating resources and energy by more appropriate means.

Brothers and sisters, children in our common Lord and Creator,

Human beings have destroyed creation through greed by focusing exclusively on this earth and its earthly benefits, which we endeavor to increase constantly, like the “rich fool” in the Gospel parable. (Luke 12. 13-21) We ignore the Holy Spirit, in whom we live and move and have our being. This signifies that the response to the ecological crisis can only be successfully realized in the Holy Spirit, through whose grace our human efforts are blessed and all creation is renewed, returning to its original state, as it was created and intended by God – namely, “very good.” This is why the responsibility of humanity, as God’s co-creator endowed with free will, is immense for any proper response to the ecological crisis.

This earth resembles “an immense pile of filth.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 2015) And impurity implies more than simply material things; it primarily includes spiritual things. There are the impurities that essentially stem from the passionate thoughts of humanity. With firm faith in the Pantokrator and Creator of all creation, we Orthodox Christians are called to carry out the work of an evangelist and missionary with regard to the protection of creation. That is to say, we are called to rekindle the joyful gospel message to the modern troubled world and awaken the sleeping spiritual nature of a humanity diversely and multifariously distressed in order to convey a message of hope, peace and true joy – the peace and joy of Christ.

This is what we believe and proclaim from the most holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne. And we invite everyone to soberness of life, purification of passionate thoughts and selfish motivations, so that we may dwell in harmony with our neighbors and with God’s creation. Finally, we pray with Basil the Great, “who extolled the nature of things”: “Blessed are you, Lord, who alone daily renew the work of your hands. Blessed are you, Lord, who created light and darkness, distinguishing between them from each other. Blessed are you, Lord, who created all things and constructed the shadow of death by blackening the day into night. Blessed are you, Lord, who created humankind in your image and likeness, who made the day for the work of light and the night for human nature to rest . . .” (Psalter and Prayer Book, Pantokrator Monastery, Mt. Athos, 2004)

This is our message, conviction and exhortation to you all: Let us stand well; let us stand in awe before God’s creation.

May the grace and boundless mercy of our Lord, the Creator of all creation, both visible and invisible, be with you all and with the whole world, now and to the endless ages. Amen.

September 1, 2015

+Bartholomew of Constantinople

Fervent supplicant of all before God

 

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ARCHPASTORAL MESSAGE OF HIS BEATITUDE
METROPOLITAN
TIKHON
Beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year &
The Day of Prayer for the Creation
September 1, 2015

  To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

On September 1, 1989, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I issued the first message from the Ecumenical Throne on the environment.  With his proclamation and the establishment of September 1, the first day of the Ecclesiastical New Year, as the Day of Prayer for the Creation, the Church again seeks to remind us, as Mary reminded Martha, of the one needful thing - life and unity with Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  In that statement Patriarch Demetrios I reminds us that the holy fathers of the Church teach that, "Man is the prince of creation, endowed with the privilege of freedom. Being partaker simultaneously of the material and the spiritual world, he was created in order to refer creation back to the Creator in order that the world may be saved from decay and death."

In St Ephrem the Syrian's work "Hymns on Paradise" we are given yet another guide to how we might come into that unity and life in Christ. St Ephrem tells us that God's two witnesses, or pointers, are, "Nature, through man's use of it, [and] Scripture, through his reading it."

As the summer draws to a close and children go back to, or away to school for the first time, and begin again a new academic year ecclesiastical year, let us, being reminded by the pointers to Christ as mentioned by St Ephrem, take a moment to turn to the one needful thing in praise, worship and thanksgiving for the creation and all the blessing bestowed upon us by our merciful Creator. 

It is my prayer that the parishes, Sunday Schools, Youth Groups and other organizations of the Orthodox Church in America will take up this time around September 1 to celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Creation. Our Department of Christian Education has prepared an excellent Study and Activity Guide for young people titled,
"The Earth is the Lord's", which can be found at www.oca.org.


With my archpastoral blessings and love
 

+Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

The Holy Dormition of our Most Pure Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary

The name of our Church is the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church and the link below outlines the description of this feast for your convenience.

 

http://pemptousia.com/2014/08/on-the-holy-dormition-of-our-most-pure-lady-the-mother-of-god-and-ever-virgin-mary/

Fr. Terence's Message for the Nativity of Christ 2015

Greetings in the name of Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ! Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

We come to that busy time of year, once again, when we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of Christ.

As Orthodox Christians, we may be tempted to envy all the glamor of this season: the pretty lights & displays, the air waves filled with carols, one movie after another trying to tell us to be jolly & nice and even in the local streets, the visual impact cannot be ignored! I would never want to begrudge seeing the resulting smiles on children’s faces but we must realize that the Orthodox Christian understanding of the Nativity goes much deeper. Further, in comparison to many of the commercial messages forced upon us ours is the very opposite!

The story of the Nativity from the scriptures & our liturgical services is clear: the Virgin Mary, with the protection of her husband, Joseph, search for an inn & settle for a cave with the shepherds, the angels & the wise men to witness the birth of the child Jesus. The beauty of the story embraces heaven & earth as well as all people of “good will” with a promise of great hope & salvation. Even so, this story has another side. There was no time to wait around & celebrate, because the participants had to break apart as quickly as they came together, when they were told in dreams about the hateful intentions of King Herod. He ultimately vented his apprehension of the news on the innocent children of the local district by slaughtering them.

Beyond this story, God’s revelation has given us a background & context to it that the Orthodox liturgical services strongly bring out showing that the event has immense implications. To show how this is the case, let us examine the beginning of the scriptures.

The story of creation in the Book of Genesis compares the state of Adam & Eve before and after they fell from grace by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Before the fall, God saw that creation was very good (Gen. 1:4, 11, 13, 18, 21, 24 & 32). God created Adam & Eve in his image & likeness (Gen. 1:27), and they were created to be more spiritual than flesh, for the Lord God blew into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). Our fore-parents were on close talking terms with God (Gen. 1:26-28). They were given responsibilities such as tilling the earth & caring for it (Gen. 3:7), naming creation and reporting to God about their work (Gen. 2:19), being caring stewards of the cosmos and having dominion or being custodians over it (Gen. 1:28).

After their fall from grace however, they saw their nakedness (Gen. 3:7), their bodies became flesh-like or denser (Gen. 3:7), they became subject to the ravages of nature (Gen. 3:17) and they were driven out of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:23-24). Thus, they lost their home and were separated from God. The Orthodox Church also believes that their very makeup was affected. In regard to their being in the image of God, they could still seek him and his goodness but it was much more difficult to be close to him. Worse still, their relationship to God as being in created in his likeness was damaged beyond repair. The effect of this change was that their appetites, such as eating and drinking, became insatiable passions, with greed often taking over (Gen. 4:1-16; Cain & Able). There was a tendency to seek created images instead of their Creator. Creation also fell because it was dependent on us (Gen. 3:17; Rom. 8:20), and it rebelled and was no longer benign & fruitful. We have to work hard for it to be fruitful (Gen. 3:17-19).

When we look at the birth of Jesus, we note that it is with the smelly shepherds & animals, in a manger, in a cave. In his life, Jesus is often seen in the context of his creation: going to the hills to pray, out on a lake where he calms the waters, going to the desert with the wild animals and the plants. In his teachings & parables, he spoke of himself as a shepherd (Mt. 25:32; 26:31; Mk. 6:34; 14:27; Jn. 10:1-16); he talked about the mustard seed full of nesting birds (Mk.4:31-32); rescuing an animal on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:11); him loving Jerusalem like the love that a hen has for her chickens (Mt. 23:37; Lk. 12:34); the sparrows are remembered by God (Lk. 12:6). At the end of his life, he used a donkey to enter Jerusalem and the earth shook & the rocks split (Mt. 27: 51-53). Thus, he was never far from his creation! Thus, there is a great deal to celebrate, not just for us but for the whole of creation!

For St. Paul, this creation & our salvation become one in Christ. Christ is the new Adam (Rom. 5:12-31; 1 Cor. 15:45), a new creation (Gal. 6:15; 2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 6:4) and a new man (Eph. 2:15; 4:24; Col. 3:10) and this was planned since the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) as a mystery hidden for ages in God (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:10). Thus, the second creation is the culmination of salvation history, restoring creation and bringing it to a higher plain. Thus, not only is creation good (1 Cor. 7:31; Phil. 3:20; Heb. 13:14; 1 Pet. 2:11; cf. also 1 Jn. 2:17) but something in which we can faithfully partake (1 Cor. 10:26; 1 Tim. 4:4; cf. Tit. 1:15; Rom. 14:14 & 20; 1 Cor. 3:21f.) through our life in Christ (Jn. 5:26; 6:48; 14:6; 1 Jn. 1:2; 1 Jn. 5:11).

This will be fully accomplished at the second coming of Christ but his nativity not only heralds all of the above implications but we are called in our own lives in Christ to strive to live in the way that God intended for Adam & Eve: caring for creation and offering it back to Christ through our baptism and priesthood. It is part of the reason we pray, fast and give alms in preparation prior to the celebration. Nor can we ignore the backdrop of those “elemental forces of this world” (Gal. 4:3) that war against it. It manifested itself in Herod’s hatred towards those innocents he slaughtered and we see many instances of hatred and destruction in these current times.

The same holds for those who because of greed, want to abuse and pollute this earth, causing chemical contamination in our food produce, health & water management issues for many societies, the destruction of forests & species, as well as the threatening melting polar ice caps that could cause sea levels to rise. We are called to respond by praying, interceding and doing all we can to make society respect and protect all aspects of God’s creation just as he called Adam & Eve to from the very beginning.

Thus, this season is much more than an interesting story with nice cultural trimmings. It profoundly affects our lives, all those whom we pray for, our whole community & nation, in fact, the whole universe!

CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!

Address of Metropolitan Tikhon on the Beginning of the Church Year

http://oca.org/media/video/address-of-metropolitan-tikhon-on-the-beginning-of-the-church-year

Address of Metropolitan Tikhon on the Beginning of the Church Year

In a newly produced video, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, greets the faithful and offers much food for thought on the beginning of the Church Year on September 1, 2015.

View video on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=958578364180800

In related news, read the recently posted Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon on The Beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year & The Day of Prayer for the Creation:

http://oca.org/holy-synod/statements/his-beatitude-metropolitan-tikhon/the-beginning-of-the-ecclesiastical-year-the-day-of-prayer-for-the-creation