Friday, September 18, 2009

Service Reminder: The archbishop is coming!

Just a quick reminder that our beloved Vladyka Seraphim is coming to celebrate Divine Liturgy and to eat and to talk with our little community this Saturday, September 19th! Saturday's Divine Liturgy will begin with the Hours at 9am, and will be followed by a meal with the archbishop. Some food will be provided, but please bring your favorite kind of cheese, fruit, dessert, and/or anything else you would like to share with the community if you are willing and able to do so.

While this will not be a full hierarchical liturgy (at least not this time...), Vladyka Seraphim will be presiding, and we will be further blessed with the presence of the newly ordained Deacon Gregory Wright from St. Herman's, who has kindly consented to serve his second liturgy ever (well, as a deacon, anyway) with us!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Important Service Time Change!

Just a brief reminder that, starting tomorrow, our mid-week Little Compline service will be held not at the heretofore usual "7:30pm on Thursday" time-slot, but will instead be held at 7:00pm on Wednesdays. Also, tomorrow after Compline we will begin our quick overview of the post-apostolic Church Fathers, starting with the First Epistle of Clement.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Vesperal Liturgy for St. Vladimir Cancelled

Unfortunately, a number of factors, not least of which is the upcoming meeting for all Lower Mainland St. Arseny camp workers, have combined to force the cancellation of the Vesperal Liturgy we were planning to hold for St. Vladimir on Tuesday, July 14th.

The meeting for St. Arseny camp workers is being held at St. Herman's in Langley on Tuesday, July 14th at 7:00pm - I would encourage all those travelling out from Vancouver to start making carpool arrangements! If no other arrangements can be made, I may be able to arrange for transportation to St. Herman's from Surrey Central Skytrain station, but I would prefer to start planning such arrangements sooner rather than later.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Joy of the Feast Be with You!

It's our summer patronal feast day! To celebrate, we will serve an Akathist to St. John of Shanghai in place of Little Compline tonight (Thursday, July 2nd), and, following the custom of the church in which he was glorified (ROCOR), we will celebrate his feast-day with a Divine Liturgy (at 9am) on the Saturday closest to the date of his repose (July 4th). Suggested topic for discussion after the service tonight: the life and significance of St. John of Shanghai. provides some links to relevant resources:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The fast is almost over... Let's feast!

Now that the Apostle's Fast is almost over, we actually have three opportunities for feasting coming up!
  1. The Feast of St. Peter and Paul, which we will celebrate as a community this Sunday (June 28th) after the liturgy, while still respecting the last day of the fast, by everyone bringing (I hope) lots of yummy fish to feast on!
  2. Not exactly an Orthodox holiday, but Dn. Kurt Jordan and his family are continuing theirCanada Day tradition of inviting all and sundry over to their home in Chilliwack for a grand, uncharacteristically patriotic celebration of the anniversary of the formation of our nation on July 1st, 1867. I would suggest (and Dn. Kurt has enthusiastically seconded the suggestion) that as many of us as are able to should all carpool our way out to Chilliwack to celebrate Canada Day with our brothers and sisters from St. Herman's. Details can be found on the collaborative Spruce Island blog here:
  3. Our summer Patronal Feast Day, the feast-day of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, which we will celebrate, according to the established custom, with a Divine Liturgy on the Saturday following his repose, followed by as much feasting and communal celebration as we can manage! The Americans in our midst will have a double reason for celebration, as the liturgy and feast for St. John will begin at 9am on Saturday, July 4th!
Looking forward to feasting and celebrating with you all!

Love in Christ,

Fr. Justin.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

To clarify...

You might have noticed that the date for our celebration of our Lord's Ascension with a Vesperal Liturgy has just jumped from Thursday, May 28th to Wednesday, May 27th. Just to clarify, this was not a mistake but rather a deliberate change of dates. I have figured out a way (or, rather, will figure out a way) to celebrate Vesperal Liturgy for Ascension on the proper day (namely, Wednesday). So...

Ascension will be celebrated with a Vesperal Liturgy at 7:30pm on Wednesday, May 27th in the secondary chapel in the monastic house. Please come fasting from about noon onwards if you are planning to receive communon.

On a more minor note, it has been brought to my attention that in the move to our new website, our contact information got buried. This has been rectified with a new Contact page at - and I've also started a gallery for pictures of our mission. Please send me any that you think would be appropriate for posting!

Love in Christ,

Fr. Justin.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Radontisa and the Panikhida this Saturday

Christ is risen!

In the Slavic tradition that we, in the OCA, have inherited from the Russian Mission to North America, a particularly important celebration is Radonitsa, "The Day of Rejoicing". This celebration is essentially the Christian "baptism" of the remembrance of the departed that is so fundamental to us as human beings and which, in Christianity, is transformed by the joy of the Resurrection. This joyful remembrance of the departed is traditionally clebrated (in a custom which may stretch as far back as the time of St. John Chrysostom) on the first day that commemorations of the dead are allowed after Bright Week - namely, the Tuesday of the week following Bright Week - and, in the Slavic tradition, is celebrated with a general Panikhida (memorial service), blessing of Paschal food, and a procession to bless the graves in the church cemetery.

We obviously missed the "official" day of Radonitsa (and have no church cemetary to bless, yet!), but, in honour of the day, we will celebrate a general Panikhida just before Vespers this Saturday at 5:30pm. It is perhaps fitting that, after Vespers this Saturday, many of us will also be celebrating the departure of our beloved not-yet-departed medical students, David and Jeff, who have survived their intensive studies and will soon be leaving us to undertake their two-year residency training in Montreal and Victoria. Death, in the Christian understanding, is rather like departure - "we sorrow," as the Apostle Paul says, "but not as those who have no hope." In the joy of the Resurrection, no parting is permanent!

Love in Christ,

Fr. Justin.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bright Saturday Liturgy

It seems that people keep wanting to celebrate this week, for some reason... Accordingly, for those who wish to rejoice in our Lord's Resurrection even more, we will be celebrating Divine Liturgy on Bright Saturday at 9am, followed by the distribution of the Artos - and, I imagine, a communal breakfast! My apologies for the late notice - this is a spur-of-the-moment response to the desire to celebrate the very festal Bright Saturday Divine Liturgy. Please feel free to come if you can!

Love in Christ,

Fr. Justin.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
Hristos vosskresse ; vo iss-ti-nou vosskresse.
Christos anesti ; aléthos anesti.
Le Christ est ressuscité ; en vérité, il est ressuscité.
Gaydolk folkwoot leew ; tchan tek, ta folkwoot leew.
Jidu fuhuo liao ; zhende, ta fuhuo liao.
Christus ist auferstanden ; er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden.
Khristus er oppstanden; Han er sanneleg oppstanden.
Harisutosu hukkatsu ; jitsu ni hukkatsu.
Hristos a-înviat ; adevărat a-înviat.
Tá Criost éirithe ; go deimhin tá sé éirithe.
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Vigil and All-Night Vigil

Tonight, at 9pm, we will begin the Vigil service - that is, the Vespers of Holy Friday immediately followed by the Matins of Holy Saturday - in which we are "buried with Christ". This lengthy Vigil service will be followed by the local custom of keeping watch over the tomb of Christ all night, watching and praying and chanting the Psalter - for those who are willing and able to do so. This literal all-night vigil begins (again, according to local custom) with a brief foot-washing ceremony.

I want to emphasize that the all-night vigil is a labour of love, undertaken only by those able to do so. No one should feel obligated to undertake it, nor should any who are not able to undertake it feel guilty that they are not able to do so. I myself will only be there for the beginning of the vigil, so that I will be able to serve the rest of the weekend's services, beginning with the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great at 9am on Saturday morning - and others have similarly important responsibilities. That being said, I have to say, I wish I could stay up all night for the all-night vigil! My experience of the all-night vigil at St. Herman's was one of the greatest spiritual highlights of the whole spiritually rich time I spent there...

Finally, on a spiritual note, it is never too late to begin to "watch and pray". This is one of the great blessings of the Christian life, that God, being rich in mercy, accepts us sinners and prodigals as we return to Him, whenever we return to Him. St. John Chrysostom emphasizes this in his Paschal homily as he makes reference to Jesus' parable of the landowner who paid everyone the same wage for working in his vineyard (Matthew 20):

"If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant and triumphal feast. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have waited even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his lateness; for the Lord, who is jealous of His honour, will accept the last even as the first; He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has laboured from the first hour. And He shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one He gives, and upon the other He bestows gifts. And He both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honours the acts, and praises the offering. Therefore, enter, all of you, into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first and likewise the second.

"You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honour the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast all of you, sumptuously! The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away. Enjoy, all of you, the feast of faith: receive, all of you, the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free!"

Come. Fast as you are able. Keep watch. Pray to Him who loves us and gave Himself for us. And, above all and in all, rejoice!

Fast and Pray

Just a quick reminder regarding fasting rules and guidelines for the last two days of Holy Week - from the OCA website:
On Great Friday those who have the strength follow the practice of the early Church and keep a total fast. Those unable to do this may eat bread, with a little water, tea or fruit-juice, but not until sunset, or at any rate not until after the veneration of the [Plashchanitsa] at Vespers. On Holy Saturday there is in principle no meal, since according to the ancient practice after the end of the Liturgy of St. Basil the faithful remained in church for the reading of the Acts of the Apostles, and for their sustenance were given a little bread and dried fruit, with a cup of wine. If, as usually happens now, they return home for a meal, they may use wine but not oil; for on this one Saturday, alone among Saturdays of the year, olive oil is not permitted.
These guidelines indicate that if a meal is eaten on Holy Saturday, it would be eaten shortly after the Liturgy of St. Basil; the rest of the day a strict fast would be kept in preparation for communion at the midnight Paschal Liturgy.

As always, remember that health considerations may mitigate the fasting rules (as can be seen in the phrase "those who have the strength", above), and that we are all called to keep the fast as well as we are able so that we can "watch and pray", preparing for the coming of our Lord's Pascha.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Week Service Times Are Up!

Just a brief update to draw everyone's attention to the fact that the Holy Week Service times are now up on the newly revamped St. John's and St. Nina's website. My apologies for the delay, especially as one of the casualties of the delay was the Lazarus Saturday morning service which was to be followed by the traditional pre-Holy Week cleaning party. While there will be no service Saturday morning and no official work-party, anyone who wants to help clean in any way is more than welcome to show up any time after 10am on Saturday - Matushka and I will be at St. John's house all day preparing for Holy Week and, between us, could probably find some way that any willing volunteers could help out around the house and chapel!

As always, please let me know of any errors or omissions on the site or on the church calendar - and please bear with the web-site as the kinks are worked out of the new system. My hope is that the site will soon become a lot more collaborative now that I've moved it to a new web-platform. Hopefully it looks a little better too!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vesperal Liturgy for the Annuciation

My apologies. Somehow I missed putting up the Vesperal Liturgy for Annunciation service time on our church calendar. The Vesperal Liturgy for Annuciation will be held tonight (Tuesday, March 24th) at 7:30pm at St. Mark's chapel out at UBC. Below is a map showing the location of St. Mark's College (the chapel is part of the college):

Please note that parking at the college is limited - they do allow us to park in the college parking lot despite the signs there, but there aren't all that many parking spots - so you might want to leave a few extra minutes to find parking. (The paid parking garage near the Chan Centre is a nearby alternative.) Also, since the vesperal liturgy begins the liturgical feast day of the Annunciation, feel free to bring fish for our communal meal afterwards - but do note that there are no facilities for cooking there, just a microwave oven for re-heating things.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The First Week of Lent

The first week of Lent is upon us, and, to make sure we are off to a good start, there's a church service for every day of the week!
  • Sunday: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers will be held immediately after our usual post-liturgy Agape meal (probably just after noon). This service includes the rite of mutual forgiveness, which is both a spritual and physical workout! The best possible way to begin Lent is to forgive one another, so I would strongly encourage everyone who possibly can to stay and participate in this very important service.
  • Monday to Thursday: The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete will be held at 7:30pm each night from Monday to Thursday. Note that Tuesday evening the Great Canon service will be held out at UBC in St. Mark's Chapel (5935 Iona Drive, Vancouver, BC) as part of our usual Tuesday-evening campus ministry. This service is a scriptural tour-de-force, inspiring in us a spirit of true repentance by taking us through the entire Old and New Testaments. The Great Canon services on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be held at St. John's and St. Nina's (1967 Napier Street).
  • Friday: Presanctified Liturgy will be held at 7:00pm in St. John's Monastic House. Come fasting from noon onwards if you intend to receive Holy Communion.
Services on Saturday and Sunday will be as per usual - the one difference being that, for the duration of Great Lent, the liturgy served on Sundays will be the (slightly longer) Liturgy of St. Basil.

Repentance is hard work! The first week of Great Lent gives us every possible opportunity to, by the renewing of our minds, "lay aside all earthly cares" and re-focus the whole of our being - body, soul, and spirit - on the One who is the author and source of our life: our Lord Jesus Christ. May God grant us the gift of true repentance this Lent!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Concerning Fasting

Just received a very good question from one of our catechumens: Are we allowed to eat eggs this week? The answer is yes!

For those interested learning all the ins and outs of our fasting regimen, an excellent resource can be found on the OCA website at

Saturday, February 14, 2009

BC Deanery Meeting

On Saturday, Feburary 21st, the BC Deanery meeting will be held at St. John's and St. Nina's, from noon to 2pm. All the parish clergy from across BC have been invited, and all members of the parishes in the deanery are welcome to attend. The deanery meeting is a great opportunity to find out what is going on in the BC Deanery, especially with St. Arseny Camp and the upcoming Archdiocesan Assembly to be held here in BC (Victoria) in 2010.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year! (and Theophany is coming...)

Happy New Year! 2008 was both a challenge and a blessing to us all, I think. And undoubtedly the lion's share of both challenge and blessing for many of us came from the merger of St. John's with St. Nina's. It has been a great blessing to me (as I have shared with many of you) to look out from the royal doors and see one family - and that has been the direct result of many individual decisions to get out of our comfort zones to listen, to learn, and to love. May God continue to bless us in this important work He has given us, to make us one as He is one, and to teach us to love Him whom we have not seen in the brothers and sisters that we see week in and week out at St. John's and St. Nina's, our spiritual home.

2009 is already bringing us fresh challenges. We already have the beginnings of a Building Committee to help us try to find the way forward as our family grows. Holy Cross Chaplaincy is committed to establishing itself as an independent entity (the better to minister to all Orthodox students at UBC) and to raising our profile on campus. And I have no doubt that the Lord will bring fresh challenges our way that we are not yet aware of - and, as we rise to the challenges, fresh blessings!

The next great blessing scheduled to come our way is the feast of Theophany. This is the second-greatest feast in the Church calendar, celebrating the manifestations of God (hence the name "Theophany" meaning the "appearance of God") culminating in the ultimate manifestation of the Trinity at the baptism of Christ. It is at this feast that we renew our supply of holy water - the Great Blessing of the Waters is an integral part of the service. We will be celebrating the feast of Theophany with a Vesperal Liturgy at St. John's and St. Nina's on the eve of the feast (i.e., at 7:30pm on Monday, January 5th, so come fasting from about noon on if you are planning to receive communion), at which we will have the Great Blessing of the Waters indoors (so bring your holy water containers!).

The outdoor service of the Great Blessing of the Waters we will reserve for the Sunday after Theophany (January 11th) so that as many of the community as possible can make it. The exact location of the Great Blessing of the Waters has yet to be determined, so I am open to suggestions at this point. We could bless the waters of Trout Lake again, but I am actually partial to the suggestion that we continue the St. Nina's tradition and bless the Pacific Ocean - which would give us rather a lot of scope in terms of location, so, please, let me know where you think would be best! I have also heard rumours that there are a few brave (and hopefully hardy) souls who are actually willing to jump into the water to retrieve the cross, so if you are one of those individuals, please let me know.

The period following Theophany is the time when Orthodox Christians traditionally make arrangements to have their priest over to bless their homes. As you know, I am generally in Vancouver from Thursday evening to Sunday, but I am willing to come in Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings by special appointment, which may be necessary at this special time of the year. Please contact me by e-mail or by phone to make an appointment to have your home blessed. Nothing is needed for a house-blessing other than a good supply of holy water (which you should have obtained at Theophany!), a candle, a few minutes to pray, and a willingness to listen to your priest attempt to sing the troparion for Theophany as you guide him through your home (note that you are welcome to join in as he does so)! You might also want to cover up anything that might be damaged by water-droplets before the blessing...

Finally, one other very important feast-day coming up is our winter patronal feast (as Peter the Medic has christened it) of St. Nina of Georgia, which we will be celebrating on the eve of St. Nina's feast-day with a Vesperal Liturgy at St. John's and St. Nina's at 7:30 pm, January 13th. I look forward to celebrating both of these highly significant upcoming feasts with all of you, united in one Body as one family by the grace and the love of our Lord!

Love in Christ,

Fr. Justin.