Friday January 6 2017 – Бадње Дан – Eve of the Nativity of Christ
8:00AM Royal Hours
9:00AM Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
5:00 PM Christmas Eve Vigil, Blessing of Badnjak, Traditional Meal in Hall
St. Sava Libertyville
6:00 PM Christmas Eve Vigil, Blessing of Badnjak
Saturday, January 7 – Божић – The Nativity according to the Flesh of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
10:00AM Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
St. Sava Libertyville
4:00AM Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
Sunday, January 8 – Сабор Пресвете Богородице, Други дан Божића – Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos, Second Day of Christmas
10:00AM Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
Monday, January 9 – СВЕТИ АРХИЂАКОН СТЕФАН, ТРЕЋИ ДАН БОЖИЋА – Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen, Third Day of Christmas
9:00 AM Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
Blessing and Cutting of Slavski Kolach before and after Liturgy
The Commemoration of St. Mardarije (December 12), began on Sunday, 12/11/16, with Hierarchical Liturgy at Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Chicago celebrated by Metropolitan Amfilohije (Montenegro and Coastlands), Bishop Longin (New Gracanica-Midwest America), Bishop Maxim (Western America), Bishop Irinej (Eastern America) and Bishop Kirilo (of Diocletia, assistant administrator of South America) along with Cathedral clergy Fr. Darko Spasojevic, Fr. Radovan Jakovljevic, Protodeacons Milovan Gogic, Pavle Starcevic and deacons Nenad Jakovljevic and Jovan Anicic. The Liturgy was well attended and responses were sung by the Branko Radicevic choir. Metropolitan Amfilohije gave a moving homily wherein he spoke of Saint Mardarije stressing that our Serbian homeland gave to America the best gift — Holy Saints — St. Mardarije, St. Sebastian, St. Varnava and St. Nikolai who following in the steps of St. Sava worked tirelessly to evangelize the Serbian Orthodox. He also touched on American life and counseled against the sin of abortion. Following the liturgy a luncheon was held in the hall which included a program providing commentary regarding the Crete sabor by Metropolitan Amfilohije, Bishop Longin and Bishop Irinej who all attended the sabor.
On Monday, December 12, 2016, the actual feast date of St. Mardarije, Hierarchical Liturgy was served at St. Sava Monastery, Libertyville where Metropolitan Amfilohije, Bishop Longin, Bishop Sava (retired Bishop of Slavonija), Bishop Irinej and Bishop Kirilo concelebrated with more than 20 priests and 5 deacons of the Midwest and Eastern dioceses with faithful laity in attendance. Following the Liturgy, a beautiful Akatist was solemnly served at the grave of St. Mardarije located on the right side of the Church, followed by the cutting of the Slavski kolac.
As Metropolitan Amfilohije has emphasized, Libertyville Illinois has been given a great gift — the church of St. Sava, and its founder, our holy Saint Mardarije. Let us acknowledge this endowment by constantly venerating St. Mardarije and asking for his intercession before Christ our God as well as supporting the Libertyville renovation project to continue the work begun decades before us.
O tireless preacher of Christ the Lord, Saint-Sava like leader of your people in the Diaspora, diligent builder and teacher of repentance, whose rule of life was: Sowing Christian love, spreading peace, quieting passions, preaching good and turning people into brothers. O Saint Mardarije of Libertyville and America, with all the Enlighteners of the American land, Beseech the only Lover of mankind to grant peace and unity to the Orthodox people!
-Kondak to St. Mardarije
A pan-Orthodox celebration of St. Mardarije’s canonization is being planned for July 16, 2017 by Bishop Longin. Read more about St. Mardarije in an excellent Sebastian Press title “To the Glory of God the Father” The lives of Saint Mardarije and Saint Sebastian, 2015 (Editor: Bishop Maxim) and a beautiful Sveti Gora Press (2016) booklet entitled “St. Mardarije of Lesanj-Libertyville and All America, biography, service and Akatist.” (Editor: Metropolitan Amfilohije) both available in New Gracanica bookstore.
A book about St. Mardarije for children can be purchased at Potamitis Publishing.
With prayer and a special blessing, clergy and church members broke ground Saturday on a new cemetery at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Merrillville, which will serve Orthodox Church members of all ethnic groups.
A solemn procession led by His Grace Bishop Longin and priests from several Orthodox parishes in Indiana and Illinois brought church members from St. Sava church building north to the site where the cemetery will be built.
Ground was broken with gold-colored shovels, and the dirt blessed before it was placed around a cross marking the location of the first grave site.
“It’s a beautiful project. It keeps us all together,” said the Rev. Marko Matic, parish priest of St. Sava, which has about 380 members. “It will be an Orthodox cemetery, allowing our parishioners to be buried with all the Orthodox customs and traditions.”
Of special significance, he said, was that the ceremony took place on St. Varnava (Nastic) Day, marking the day the Gary native was consecrated a saint.
“He was the first child baptized at St. Sava when it was in Gary. Today is his day,” Matic said.
The Rev. Bogan Zjalic, assistant priest at St. Sava, said a committee began working on bringing an Orthodox cemetery to the site five years ago because so many parishioners requested one.
Previously, many church members traveled as far as Gurnee, Ill., or New Carlisle, Ind., to bury loved ones in an Orthodox cemetery, he said.
About 40 acres owned by St. Sava in the 9100 block of Mississippi Street have been earmarked for the cemetery, with another 80 acres available if needed.
The new cemetery has had support from Russian, Greek, Romanian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches in Illinois and Indiana, Zjalic said.
Church member Radmila Milivojevic said the cemetery is not only important for members of the Serbian church, but for all ethnicities of the Orthodox Church.
Three phases are planned, with 2,100 grave sites in the first phase, church president Danica Pejnovic said.
Planting grass and the remainder of the asphalt work needed for the first phase will be done in spring, officials said.
As Orthodox Christians we must carefully examine every aspect of our involvement in the world, its activities, holidays and festivals, to be certain whether or not these involvements are compatible with our Holy Orthodox Faith. For a while now everything in the outside world is reminding us that Halloween is near: at school our children are busy painting pumpkins, cutting and pasting bats, ghosts and witches and planning the ideal costume in which to go trick-or-treating.
Most of our schools, local community organizations and entertainment on television, radio and press will share in and capitalize upon the festival of Halloween. Many of us will participate in this festival by going to costume parties, or by taking our children trick-or-treating in our neighborhood after dark on October 31st. Most of us will take part in the Halloween festivities believing that it has no deeper meaning than fun and excitement for the children. Most of us do not know the historical background of the festival of Halloween and its customs.
The feast of Halloween began in pre-Christian times among the Celtic peoples of Britain, Ireland and Northern France. These pagan peoples believed that physical life was born from death. Therefore, they celebrated the beginning of the “new year” in the fall, on the eve of October 31st and into the day of November 1st, when, as they believed the season of cold, darkness, decay and death began. Instructed by their priests, the Druids, the people extinguished all hearth fires and lights and darkness prevailed.
According to pagan Celtic tradition, the souls of the dead had entered into the world of darkness, decay and death and made total communion with Samhain, the Lord of death, who could be appeased and cajoled by burnt offerings to allow the souls of the dead to return home for a festal visit on this day. The belief led to the ritual practice of wandering about in the dark dressed in costumes indicating witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons. The living entered into fellowship and communion with the dead by this ritual act of imitation, through costume and the wandering about in the darkness. They also believed that the souls of the dead bore the affliction of great hunger on this festal visit. This belief brought about the practice of begging as another ritual imitation of the activities of the souls of the dead on their festal visit. The implication was that any souls of the dead and their imitators who are not appeased with “treats”, i.e. offerings, will provoke the wrath of Samhain, whose angels and servants could retaliate through a system of “tricks”, or curses.
In the strictly Orthodox early Celtic Church, the Holy Fathers tried to counteract this pagan new year festival by establishing the feast of All Saints on that same day (in the East, this feast is celebrated on another day). The night before the feast (on “All Hallows Eve”), a vigil service was held and a morning celebration of the Eucharist. This custom created the term Halloween. But the remaining pagan and therefore anti-Christian people reacted to the Church’s attempt to supplant their festival by increased fervor on this evening, so that the night before the Christian feast of All Saints became a night of sorcery, witchcraft and other occult practices, many of which involved desecration and mockery of Christian practices and beliefs. Costumes of skeletons, for example, developed as a mockery of the Church’s reverence for holy relics. Holy things were stolen and used in sacrilegious rituals. The practice of begging became a system of persecution of Christians who refused to take part in these festivities. And so the Church’s attempt to counteract this unholy festival failed. This is just a brief explanation of the history and meaning of the festival of Halloween. It is clear that we, as Orthodox Christians, cannot participate in this event at any level (even if we only label it as “fun”), and that our involvement in it is an idolatrous betrayal of our God and our Holy Faith. For if we imitate the dead by dressing up or wandering about in the dark, or by begging with them, then we have willfully sought fellowship with the dead, whose Lord is not a Celtic Samhain, but Satan, the evil one, who stands against God. Further, if we submit to the dialogue of “trick or treat,” our offering does not go to innocent children, but rather to Satan himself.
Let us remember our ancestors, the Holy Christian Martyrs of the early Church, as well as our Serbian New Martyrs, who refused, despite painful penalties and horrendous persecution, to worship, venerate or pay obeisance in any way to idols who are angels of Satan. The foundation of our Holy Church is built upon their very blood. In today’s world of spiritual apathy and listlessness, which are the roots of atheism and turning away from God, one is urged to disregard the spiritual roots and origins of secular practices when their outward forms seem ordinary, entertaining and harmless. The dogma of atheism underlies many of these practices, denying the existence of both God and Satan.
Our Holy Church, through Jesus Christ, teaches that God alone stands in judgment over everything we do and believe and that our actions are either for God or against God. No one can serve two masters. Therefore, let us not, as the pagan Celts did, put out our hearth fires and wander about in the dark imitating dead souls. Let us light vigil lamps in front of our Slava icons, and together with our families, ask God to grant us faith and courage to preserve as Orthodox Christians in these very difficult times, and to deliver us from the Evil One.
-St. Nikolaj (Velimirovic)