As the great Feast of Our Saviour’s holy Nativity approaches, I began to recall the many great blessings and wonderful Feastdays that we have celebrated together over the past months at Saint Nicholas Cathedral. We were blessed to have a beautiful Concelebration of Hierarchs at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday June 2nd where Metropolitan Gregory of Boston, Metropolitan Ihnat of Seattle, Bishop Chrysostom of Lanham, Archimandrite Isaac, Father Bohdan, Father Andrew, Father Rodion, Father Sergey, and Father Deacons George and James participated, and our beloved Bishop Andrew was raised to be Metropolitan of Toronto. In July, our Vigil and Liturgy for Saints Peter and Paul were made extra special with a Parish luncheon where we recalled the great works of these two Chiefs of the Apostles. Many other joyous events followed: five of our parishioners travelled on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October, our dear brother Michael was baptized and received into our Holy Orthodox Church on November 2nd, and then with joy our Father Deacon George was elevated to ProtoDeacon on the Feast of Saint Nicholas with our Metropolitan Andrew presiding, and Metropolitan Gregory and Archimandrite Isaac in attendance. Axios Father Deacon George! Our Parish and Clergy truly appreciate your care and diligence in the sacred Services, your commitment to the Church, and we pray that Our Saviour bless you and your family for your labours.
On the Saturday and Sunday following the Feast of Saint Nicholas, through God’s mercy and grace, I received holy ordination to the Deaconate and then to the Priesthood. My dear and faithful Orthodox Christians, it was indeed overwhelming, and yet made so joyous by your prayers, encouragement and support, and I know everyone was so happy that our dear Father Bohdan and Presbytera Donna, together with Father George and Metropolitan Gregory had travelled to attend my ordination. Having been guided by many kind and pious people during my thirty-one years as a Reader, I ask again for your forgiveness and for your prayers, that Our Saviour may bless our work together for many years ahead. May God bless everyone who contributed, prepared meals, participated in the Services and helped in the celebrations.
With so many blessings, beloved Faithful, let us join together in thanksgiving to Our Saviour; let us ask for his continued mercy, for the forgiveness of our sins, and praise Him for his benefactions toward us. Let us also remember and pray in these days approaching Nativity for all pious Orthodox Christians and Clergy, remembering especially Father Bohdan and flock at Saints Peter and Paul Mission, Father Demjan and flock at Saint Andrew’s in Saskatoon, the parishioners of the Holy Mother of God of the Portal Church in Calgary, Father Sergey and Matushka Vera, and Father Deacon George and Deaconissa Tatiana and their family, and all those who pray for us at the Monastery and Convent in Boston.
In our Church Service there is a hymn for the Forefeast of Our Saviour’s Nativity that I would like to share.
“Behold, the time of our salvation is at hand. Prepare, O cave; the Virgin draweth nigh to give birth. Rejoice and be glad, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, for from thee our Lord is risen up as the sun. Hearken, ye mountains and ye hills, and ye lands round about Judea; for Christ cometh, that He might save man whom He fashioned, since He is the Friend of man.
Indeed, our salvation is at hand, as the celebration of the birth of Christ approaches. Let us all therefore rejoice, and ask that through the prayers of His holy Mother, He will enlighten us all.”
In closing, I want to share that our Metropolitan Andrew has arrived at the Mother of God Church in Calgary where he will celebrate Nativity Services with the faithful there. He extends his fatherly blessing to all of us, and prayers that we may all share in the joy of our Saviour’s holy Nativity.
Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, Toronto
The Schedule for Nativity is as follows:
Monday January 6 (Dec. 24 O.S.)
–Royal Hours with St. Basil Vesperal Liturgy – 7:30am
–Compline, Entreaty, Matins – 6:30pm
Tuesday January 7 (Dec. 25 O.S.)
–Divine Liturgy – 9am
Followed by Nativity Treats and Caroling in the Church Hall