My Beloved in the Lord,
We are all graced with an abundance of gifts from God which are too manifold to enumerate and too precious to fathom. These gifts encompass each and every aspect of our lives and include every person we meet, every sight we behold, and every breath we breathe. Yet none of these can compare to one particular gift which God has given to humanity, and to humanity alone – freedom.
“Freedom” is an exceptionally substantial term and it is truly impossible to describe its vast meaning for us Orthodox Christians. In contemporary society it amounts to an individualistic expression of self-determination and autonomy. We often speak of a freedom from something. Yet, in Orthodoxy it has a deeper meaning since we envision it as a freedom towards something. Freedom in the Orthodox context does not entail doing whatever we desire, but in receiving this gift from God, it must then reflect the manner in which we received it. Thus, we must use our freedom in love. God gave us this gift not out of compulsion, but willingly out of His own love for us. So too are we called to exercise our freedom in love because we are a reflection of our Creator and, as such, our individuality is not entirely our own. Therefore, it is evident that this gift of freedom is not a freedom from another, but a freedom towards love especially as we hear in Scripture, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13).
It is with this understanding of freedom – Christian freedom – that we should reflect on its meaning as we celebrate our nation’s 242nd anniversary of its independence. We often hear countless politicians, media personalities, and fellow citizens who reference the word “freedom” as a rallying cry, sometimes as a means to remind us of the sacrifices that were made to “form a more perfect union.” Other times, however, it is lamentably used as an empty declaration the means of which are to further a particular point of view. This application of the term “freedom” often reduces it down to a mantra to be broadcast rather than elevating it as a principle to be upheld. Furthermore, it becomes far too easy to lose sight of the essence of this gift which God has made us beneficiaries.
In exercising our freedom in love, we are enabled to right wrongs when we see injustices, to heal pain when we encounter suffering, and to bring tranquility to a world in chaos. It encourages us to lift up the dejected, to comfort the marginalized, and to give voice to those too frail to be heard. It opens our eyes to the plight of our neighbor regardless of race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or nationality because every person bears the unmistakable and distinct image of Christ within them and is entitled to their God-given dignity of personhood. Freedom in love motivates us to advocate for those whose freedoms are oppressed such as our Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the nation of Cyprus, the Syrian and Armenian peoples, and countless others who have endured untold horrors and atrocities within the past century.
If, however, we choose to use our freedom in another way – in a manner that promotes exclusion, apathy, or that seeks to set a chasm between us and the other – then we create for ourselves an unbridgeable divide which not only separates us from our neighbor, but also eternally separates us from God. This would denigrate the very gift of freedom given by God and entrusted to us to safeguard. Squandering this gift would evoke the fear of one of our founding fathers, John Adams, when he said, “Oh posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”
Let the celebration of our nation’s independence inspire us to seek this freedom in love continually within our hearts and minds so that it may permeate our very being and so that we may be encouraged to become ambassadors of freedom everywhere and for every person seeking justice throughout the world. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).
With Paternal Love and Blessings,
Metropolitan of New Jersey
Encyclical on Independence Day 2020.pdf
To the Devout Orthodox Christians of the Parish Communities of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!
I pray this letter finds you all well and in good health as our Holy Orthodox Church, our Metropolis, our Ecclesiastical Communities, and our nation continue to confront the challenging effects of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
The past couple months have been particularly challenging for all people as the devastating effects of the Coronavirus have permeated all facets of society. Nevertheless, there have been noticeable improvements to the present situation which has made it possible for some states and communities to recommence in-person gatherings, albeit, in a limited capacity. As such, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey has been developing a Parish Reopening Strategy so that Parishes and parishioners alike may adequately prepare once the Parishes are permitted to once again open their doors to the devout faithful. A critical element of this strategy centers around the parishioners of each community complying with a series of requirements which conform to State and Local regulations, CDC guidance, and additional Metropolis of New Jersey directives/requirements. A list of these requirements are as follows:
These measures will help to ensure that all of our Clergy and devout faithful remain as safe as possible during these turbulent times as we start to reopen our Ecclesiastical Communities for the Divine Services. It is my sincerest prayer that as we move forward, we do so safely and with thoughtfulness for our own health and for the health and safety of those around us. Praying that our loving Lord, who is the Physician of our souls and bodies, continues to guard and guide each of you and your families, I remain,
With Paternal Love and Blessings in the Risen Lord,
Metropolitan of New Jersey
Encyclical To Faithful Regarding Reopening Requirements.pdf
Beloved Cathedral family and friends,
We know that at this time it can be difficult to pray from home and
not physically be in our church. One of the first things faithful do upon entering an Orthodox church is to light their candle and offer prayers for one?s personal needs or that of a family member or friend. We also light candles to pray for protection. During this period of time, when the world is stricken with COVID, we ask for our Lord to guide us in all things.
I know that a number of our faithful have either been laid-off, terminated, or living under serious financial constraints as a result of this virus. It is an unbelievable reality in which we are living. At this point, sadly, we know of a number of friends, family, or acquaintances that are living under a number of adverse conditions and we are constantly in prayer. If anyone is living under serious financial constraints as a result of this, kindly contact me and let us see what can be done to assist.
Even though parish services and events have been postponed for the safety of our parishioners, we can still participate in the life of the Church through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Online donations are available through our parish website, annunciationbaltimore.org. Click the Donate button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. We are grateful for your continued stewardship during these difficult times. Many of you typically make a stewardship donation when attending services, either writing a check or with cash. During these difficult times, I, along with the parish council, and staff, have enrolled in the online giving program through our website, and you are invited to do the same. It allows us to continue our commitment to stewardship and to make those weekly offerings.
It is typical that there are a number of faithful who light candles for various reasons. For those wishing to light a candle, the suggested donation for a multi-day votive candle is $10. Click on the Donate button in the upper right corner. You will see space for you to enter the amount, in the space next to that, simply type your names to be commemorated. A separate email if you wish to complete in google will be sent to you.
Faithful are also encourage you to make donations using your mobile devices by downloading the Give+ app. Type in “Annunciation Cathedral Baltimore” and follow the prompts.
As we pray the upcoming services, I ask you to have that time in your homes peaceful and focused in prayer. Listen carefully to the service and take that time for you to offer your prayers and petitions.
God is with us! May the Theotokos protect us!
Join us in prayer tomorrow, 8:00 AM, Orthros, 9:30 AM, Liturgy, www.annunciationbaltimore.org
Online coffee hour, 11:45 AM - https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/368622509
Sunday School, 12:15PM - https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/971089341
Good Afternoon Cathedral Community,
Tonight we will celebrate the service of Compline with the Great Canon at 6pm. Although this service is long, it is one of the most beautiful and introspective services during the Lenten season. You can follow along with us during the live stream using the text here. https://www.agesinitiatives.com/dcs/public/dcs/p/s/2020/04/01/co4/gr-en/index.html Tonight’s we will pray the service of Compline with a canon inserted into the middle.
Compline (ἀπόδειπνο) is a service done after dinner. ἀπό (after) + δείπνο (supper) = ἀπόδειπνο. The Compline service is typically done in monasteries— sometimes together in the church, and sometimes as private prayer in their cells. Many parishes do a form of Compline during Lent, and some people read parts or the whole Compline service as their evening prayer before bed. If you have “My Orthodox Prayer Book” by the Archdiocese Religious Education Department you can find a selection of prayers from Compline to use in your personal prayers.
The Compline service can have other liturgical parts inserted into it, such as canons or kontakia. In this way, Compline can serve as a shell for new material or new services. The Service of the Akathist Hymn on Friday evenings during Lent is simply Compline with a canon for the Theotokos inserted into the middle. Tonight’s service is simply Compline with a canon by St. Andrew of Crete inserted into the middle.
A canon is a long poem of odes typically found in the Orthros service (the morning prayer service). Canons introduce a melody and add hymns (called “troparia”) following the same melody, with refrain verses interspersed. Since many people are familiar with the Akathist Hymn, here is how that canon starts.
Tonight we will add the Great Canon, composed by St. Andrew of Crete, into the Compline Service. This canon is unique in that it is very long (250 troparia!), it contrasts many Biblical images of good and bad, and it is a dialogue between the person praying it and his/her own soul. Some people will cross themselves or do a prostration during each refrain. The canon starts like this.
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKinney, Texas has outlined some general themes that we can pay attention to while praying this canon.
I hope this outline and explanation of the service was helpful. Join us tonight at 6pm by going to our parish website: https://annunciationbaltimore.org/Live-Stream.
With Coronavirus that is crippling the world, it is a time for us to ask for our Lord’s guidance in everything. We have paused our lives and instead of always being on the go, our commute for some is from one room in our house to the other. For those in the medical field, hospitality, or others who need to be out in public, it is creating new ways in which we live. As a parish, it is allowing to use different and “high tech” methods to reach our faithful.
The live streaming of services is very popular with our faithful. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in making this possible. I am grateful for your patience while we try this new platform of attending and praying the liturgy online. This will eventually become something permanent, but in no means a replacement for attending services. It is being done, for as said in Liturgy today, “for those absent with good cause.” This has been something that I have wanted to have added to our ministries, and it is being developed quickly. I thank John Hall, Trevor Bullock, and all involved in these temporary measures. I again thank you for your patience and again, invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Plan on joining us in prayer for the Compline Service which begins at 6:30 PM. Log onto our website, www.annunciationbaltimore.org.
On Sundays, following Liturgy, we enjoy the fellowship in coffee hour. Today was our first “virtual coffee hour.” It sounded like we were in the hall with everyone at the same time either greeting one another, waving, offering a kind word, or – can you hear me? Needless to say, it was wonderful to see each other – we will continue this as long as needed.
Keeping our young people connected is important. We had Sunday School today and we are grateful to our director, Maria Durham, and our pastoral assistant, Trevor Bullock, leading in discussion. We will continue this next Sunday and also add other meetings for Young Adults and GOYA. Encourage those of this age group to participate. Even if they have never participated before, now is a good time to start – it is never too late.
The days that have passed have been difficult, and the days approaching, only God knows. God give us all strength – God give us all courage – God give us all patience!
You are intently in my prayers and know that you are sincerely missed.
May God bless you, always!
Dear Cathedral Community,
Here are the 5 tips for worship at home from today's sermon. I hope you find them useful during these difficult times. Go to our Live-Stream page to view the whole sermon.
“It is impossible to imagine an Orthodox church in which candles are not lit.” (Blessed Simeon of Thessalonica, 15th century)
“I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
We know that at this time it can be difficult to pray from home and not physically be in the church. One of the first things most people do upon entering an Orthodox church is to light their candle and offer prayers for one’s personal needs or that of a family member or friend. We also light candles to pray for protection.
Even though parish services and events have been postponed for the safety of our parishioners, we can still participate in the life of the Church through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Online donations are available through our parish website, annunciationbaltimore.org. Click the “Donate” button in the upper righthand corner. We are grateful for your continued stewardship during these difficult times. Many of you typically make a stewardship donation when attending services, either writing a check or with cash. During these difficult times, I, along with the parish council, and staff, have enrolled in the online giving program through our website, and I invite you to do the same.
Our Parish feastday begins tonight with Great Vespers at 6:30 p.m. and the Orthros and Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. This celebration will be a stark contrast. Instead of the pews being filled with faithful, we will be participating through our monitors. Instead of an overwhelming amount of artoclasia (sweet bread, blessed for the faithful), it will be a few. Instead of greeting one-another at a reception, we will be in our homes. We will celebrate together in prayer!
It is typical that there are a number of candles lit in front of the icon of the Theotokos. For those wishing to light a candle, the donation for a multi-day votive candle is $10. You may go directly to our website, annunciationbaltimore.org, and click the “Donate” button in the upper right corner. You will see space for you to enter the amount, in the space next to that, simply type your names to be commemorated. During these times we will prayerfully light the candles for you and read the names that have been submitted during the Divine Liturgy.
I also encourage you to make donations using your mobile devices by downloading the Give+ app. Type in “Annunciation Cathedral Baltimore” and follow the prompts.
God is with us! May the Theotokos protect us! A blessed feastday to all and our sacred community.
Greetings beloved parishioners,
Over the last week, as we are experiencing these extreme circumstances in remaining home, our Cathedral continues to have the cycle of prayers and services.
Tomorrow morning, I invite you to join us in prayer online at our Facebook page. Orthros begins at 8:00 AM, the procession of the Holy Cross, and the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great to follow.
It has been wonderful to know that since we have been live-streaming our services, Liturgy this past Sunday had well over 3,000 views, and services last night, nearly 2,000. It is reassuring to know the importance of worship in our lives. In Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans (16.5), he tells us the significance of our homes to be as church kat' oikon ekklesia. The designation of our homes being as church allow us the opportunity to continually be in prayer—and especially at this time, our prayers intensify.
Worship tomorrow will be different watching a church that has no one in the pews – but we have countless watching from our homes – homes as church. I invite you in your household to step away from what you are doing, pause for a few hours, and join together as a community in prayer. If you don’t have a liturgy book at home, you can go to this link - http://www.agesinitiatives.com/dcs/public/dcs/dcs.html. It will take you to a page where on the left side, you can view the Orthros Service, and the Divine Liturgy. On which you choose, click on GR-EN PDF/print.
Over the past week, I’ve invited you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. When we have at least 1,000 subscribers, we will be able to live-stream from there, which is much easier since many do not use Facebook. I also remind you, all of this is new, and every effort is being made to allow you to participate in the life of the church. The latest message on the third Sunday of lent can be viewed here – again click on SUBSCRIBE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDxa-3bxBuw
Good strength in all things!
My prayers and my humble blessings,Father Dean
Greetings in our Lord,
I pray this electronic communication finds you to be well.
Attached is a link for a message from me sent out on Facebook a few moments ago. It is a prayer that was offered, along with a reminder about services this evening. Click SUBSCRIBE on the YouTube site - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjwF4Et0EXk
I invite you to join us on Facebook. If you have not “liked” the page, go to Annunciation Cathedral Baltimore – you will find the site. Make sure that you click on LIKE. It will be live- streamed and respectfully remind you that, in accordance with regulations issued by the State of Maryland, remain in your homes. We will be joined together in person soon enough.
I have also included a link for the service text for this evening for you to follow in prayer. You may follow this link - http://www.agesinitiatives.com/dcs/public/dcs/p/s/2020/03/20/co2/gr-en/se.m03.d21.co2.pdf
Our parish has always offered assistance to those in need. If you know of someone who needs assistance in picking up groceries, medications, or running errands, do not hesitate to contact me. There are a number of volunteers that are ready to assist.
There is so much in which today we offer in prayer – and just simply as we end the service tonight, we say loudly, LORD, HAVE MERCY – LORD, HAVE MERCY – LORD, HAVE MERCY!
May God bless you and protect you!
With all my humble blessings and prayers,
Below is a revised directive from His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey.
Revised Patriarchal Directive.pdf
You will be notified of the format of the platform, either Facebook or YouTube. We are making every effort to have this available to you.
We will also be adjusting some of the times of the weekday services. Our first service held in this manner is the Salutations to the Theotokos on Friday, March 20th.
Although this does not take the place of worshiping in our church, it is being offered in this manner to allow you to participate with your church family. It is also being done for your health, and the health of others. I ask you to be respectful of this.
May God bless each of us!
24W Preston St, Baltimore, MD
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