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To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Diocese of the West:
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign for ever and ever.
The final image shared by St. John in the Book of Revelation is that of Paradise. After the revelation of the descent of the heavenly Jerusalem, John turns to the restoration of Paradise — the healing of Eden. The river of the water of life is the Holy Spirit. Light and water are the signs of the messianic kingdom. Christ is the Light (there is no night, no need for the lamp or sunlight), and the waters (the Holy Spirit) pour forth from the throne of God and the Lamb. The tree of life spanning the river is the fulfillment of the tree of life in Eden, a tree which was forbidden to Adam and Eve and was a tree then of disobedience. The tree of life in Paradise is also the fulfillment of the other tree of life — the Cross. That tree is a tree of obedience, but also of curse (“cursed is death on the cross”), but there is no more curse. Its leaves are completely healing and therapeutic, “unlike the effects of the fruit of the tree of disobedience.” (OSB) Finally, and most wonderfully, those in Paradise will see the face of the glorified Savior, and His name will be on their foreheads. “And they shall reign for ever and ever.”
This final vision of Paradise is, like the vision of the descent of the heavenly Jerusalem, an image of the Church triumphant. We experience a foretaste of Paradise in the Church, particularly in the liturgy. We are baptized in the river of the water of life, given the Holy Spirit in Chrismation, we worship in front of the Tree of Life (the Cross), we eat it’s healing fruit (the Body and Blood), we see the face of Christ in each other, in our icons, and in the Word alive in our midst, and lastly, we are illumined by the eternal Light which shines in the life of the Church. The perfect example and experience of this is, of course, Pascha. It is the Eighth Day, beyond creation, filled with the never-ending light of the Resurrection. It is the establishment of the Kingdom and the destruction of death and darkness. The fulness of Pascha is celebrated on that Day itself, but each and every liturgy is a “little Pascha,” with the death and resurrection of Christ celebrated. How sad it is that we have even Orthodox Christians who view the life of the Church as something ancillary to everyday life, to be embraced or ignored. The life of the Church IS life.
What a way to end the Church Year — the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem. And what a way to enter into the new Church Year — the glorious vision of Paradise. Both visions are given and tasted in the Divine Liturgy. How wonderful our God is to give us such a taste. My blessings and prayers for all of you, my beloved diocesan flock. Let us, together, once again begin the celebration of the saving acts of God’s Holy Church and taste Paradise.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of San Francisco
Message to Ecumenical Gathering on Peace in Ukraine
Saint Nicholas Cathedral
I greet you with joy as many of our churches continue to celebrate the bright and life-giving Resurrection of Christ.
But this joy is mingled with weary sadness as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drags toward a fourth month of fighting.
As primate of the Orthodox Church in America, I wish to state first of all that the Orthodox Church in America reiterates its unconditional condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Unjustified aggressive war is always a sin, but it is particularly scandalous when the conflict involves two nations that are, historically, bulwarks of Orthodox Christianity.
When a war involves not merely sister-peoples, but brethren in Christ, this should serve as a clarion-call to all Christians to reassess and reorder our priorities. We cannot put the world and the things of this world first; we must always begin with Jesus Christ.
At the same time, I would like to reaffirm the support of the Orthodox Church in America for His Beatitude, Onufriy, and canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. While we pray for all our Christian brethren in Ukraine, and especially for all Orthodox Christians, we know that Metropolitan Onufriy bears an especially difficult burden at this time.
It is our hope, for the sake of all Christians in Ukraine and Russia and all the people of both countries, that this war will come to a swift end, and that peace, justice, reconciliation, and religious freedom for people of all confessions will follow.
The stance of the Orthodox Church in America and its primate has been consistent: we have issued repeated calls for an end to the war, including appeals to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to do everything within his power to bring the conflict to an immediate conclusion.
But the Orthodox Church in America has also been active in providing humanitarian aid to the millions displaced by the Russian invasion. In collaboration with Eleos, the charitable organization of the Polish Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church in America raised and distributed over $700,000 in relief for Ukrainian refugees in a campaign that lasted until April 8th, 2022.
The Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, Archpriest Alexander Rentel, recently traveled to Poland to witness firsthand the impact of the generosity of our faithful. At that time, he also made a fraternal visit to the Romanian Orthodox Church, offering them a gift of $10,000 from our church for the cause of supporting Ukrainian refugees in Romania.
Since the end of our Ukrainian refugee appeal in coordination with Eleos, we have actively encouraged our faithful to continue to contribute to Ukrainian refugee relief through organizations like International Orthodox Christian Charities.
I have personally issued special petitions, to be said by the clergy of our Church at all divine services, praying for peace, repose for the departed, succor for the living, and healing for all. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America has urged all of our faithful to pray with fasting for an end to the hostilities.
In short, the Orthodox Church in America has used and continues to use all means at our disposal—prayer and fasting, almsgiving, and relationships with our sister Churches—to support the victims of this war and seek an end to the conflict.
May God Almighty continue to uphold His Beatitude Onufriy, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, all Christians and all the people of Ukraine during this trial. May he strengthen all Russians of goodwill who oppose this war, actively or in spirit. May he bring healing to the hurting and inspire repentance in the guilty. May mercy and truth meet together; may righteousness and peace kiss each other. May the destruction, terror, strife, and sins of this war come to end, and may all peoples, reconciled with each other and with the God who judges the earth, send up glory to him, unto ages of ages. Amen.
May the same Lord support the work of this ecumenical gathering today, so that we may all do our part in ending this war and supporting its victims.
Yours in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
From the desk of Fr.Nazari
Christ is Risen!
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
by God’s mercy we successfully ended our lenten journey and entered into the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. First of all I would like to thank everyone for your prayers and for your participation in the lenten and paschal services, and for your spiritual and material support of our parish. I want to thank the choir for preparing a beautiful repertoire for all the services, making them truly joyous and bringing heaven closer to us while bringing us closer to heaven.
I thank the flower ladies for decorating the temple and once again making our Church “Bearing life and more fruitful than Paradise, brighter than any royal chamber”. I want to thank the sisterhood for organizing the church cleaning, and all the clergy and the altar servers who came to pray with us during Great Lent, the sacrament of Holy Unction, Palm Sunday, and the Paschal services.
Now as we are entering into the summer season and our liturgical calendar will be somewhat lighter, I plan to dedicate a lot of my attention to our Centennial Project, the continuation of the iconographic decoration of our main temple, and St. Herman’s Chapel under the belltower. On
May 24th the Los Angeles City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing regarding the expansion of our church building. I specifically ask all of you to pray for the success of this hearing, so we can continue with our Centennial Project. This is a very important step which will allow us to move forward.
As for the iconographic development, just in time for the Archbishop’s visit on Palm Sunday, our beloved iconographer Marina Smetanina finished her work in the sanctuary. Everyone who was able to see these new additions (including His Eminence) was amazed by the beauty of our current altar, making it into a real Heaven on Earth. In the last issue of the Bulletin we included the schematics of future murals that we would like to put on the eastern wall over the iconostasis with the Holy Trinity in the middle, surrounded by clouds of the Holy Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament. This composition will serve as a visual extension of the iconostasis, completing the Theological revelation of the creation and salvation of humankind at the pre-eternal council of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit through Holy Patriarchs, prophets and all the way to the present when the Body and Blood of our Savor Jesus Christ is presented to us through the Heavenly Gates at every Divine Liturgy. The iconography of the temple is not only important from an esthetical point of view, but more importantly for our mystical experience of the sacramental life of the Holy Church through removal by icons and iconographic compositions, of the physical barriers of time and space, and introduction of us faithful to the mystical reality of the age to come. Please consider supporting us in this endeavor.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, again I want to draw your attention to the increasing number of new people in our Parish. Not all of them are familiar of our customs and ways, therefore once again I ask you to be patient and hospitable, making people welcome, assisting them if they don’t know how we are accustomed to doing things in our parish.
As I have said many times, strive to see the image of our Lord in every human being. Please lend your attention to the attached documents: one is about our code of conduct, and another is about church etiquette. Please listen to my announcements at the end of every Divine Liturgy for upcoming services. Check our bulletin boards for schedules and projects.
Last but not least, I want to thank Julia Hanzii and our Parochial School teachers and parents for their assistance for the Paschal celebration. I also want to thank Ekaterina Solovskaya and the Cathedral Children’s Choir for their additional beautification of our services, and the Little Sisterhood for their assistance with Church decoration and collections. I hope all of our parishioners – in fact I encourage you to do so – will also offer their thanks to our kids for their active participation in the spiritual life of our community. May God bless all of us!
Archpriest Nazari Polataiko