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Holy Week -  Celebrate with Us!

Holy Week - Matins Services Mon thru Weds at 7 pm - Divine Liturgy Thursday at 11 am - Complete Schedule HERE

In the Orthodox Church the last week of Christ’s life is officially called Passion Week. In popular terminology it is called Holy Week. Each day is designated in the service books as “great and holy.” There are special services every day of the week which are fulfilled in all churches. Earthly life ceases for the faithful as they “go up with the Lord to Jerusalem” (Matins of Great and Holy Monday).

Each day of Holy Week has its own particular theme. The theme of Monday is that of the sterile fig tree which yields no fruit and is condemned. Tuesday the accent is on the vigilance of    the wise virgins who, unlike their foolish sisters, were ready when the Lord came to them. Wednesday the focus is on the fallen woman who repents. Great emphasis is made in the liturgical services to compare the woman, a sinful harlot who is saved, to Judas, a chosen apostle who is lost. The one gives her wealth to Christ and kisses his feet; the other betrays Christ for money with a kiss.

On each of these three days the Gospel is read at the Hours, as well as at the Vespers when the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served. The Old Testamental readings are from Exodus, Job, and the Prophets. The Gospel is also read at the Matins services which are traditionally called the “Bridegroom” services because the general theme of each of these days is the end of the world and the judgment of Christ. It is the common practice to serve the Bridegroom services at night.

Behold, the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night and blessed is the servant whom he shall find watching, and unworthy the servant whom he shall find heedless. Take care then, O my soul, and be not weighed down by sleep that you will not be given over unto death and be excluded from the Kingdom. But rise up and call out: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou O God, by the Theotokos have mercy on us (Troparion of the First Three Days).

During the first three days of Holy Week, the Church prescribes that the entire Four Gospels be read at the Hours up to the point in each where the passion of Christ begins. Although this is not usually possible in parish churches, an attempt is sometimes made to read at least one complete Gospel, privately or in common, before Holy Thursday.

Read "The Praises" and Stikhera (hymns) sung at the Matins Services during Holy Week: HERE

What in the world is an Orthodox Christian?  

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The Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem

 

 

Father David's Sermon from the Fifth Sunday in Lent

 

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April 6, 2014   "Saint Mary of Egypt" 

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                   Who We Are 

 

     We are a family church of many cultures with intergenerational worship; we have a full liturgical life throughout the Church year, with many opportunities for joyful fellowship and enduring growth. Our vision is to “manifest the Kingdom of God by proclaiming and living the Orthodox Christian Faith.” Orthodox Christianity is for everyone — come and see!

 

     Located at the north end of California's San Joaquin Valley, St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church is dedicated to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to His promise of salvation to all mankind. The services of our mission-parish are located in the heart of Merced, in the beautiful Chapel at Mercy Medical Center's “Dominican Campus” on M Street, just south of Bear Creek. Committed to serving Christ and His Holy Church, the people of St. Mary Magdalene welcome and encourage all visitors to be our guests, especially those who are truly seeking the path of salvation. 

 

Directions & Location

 

     St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church holds services at the Chapel of Mercy Outpatient Center (also called "Dominican Campus") located at 2740 M Street, Merced, CA 95340, between 27th Street and Bear Creek Drive.  The entrance to the chapel is from the Bear Creek Side (north side). Go to the Driving Directions page for a map and detailed directions. Click HERE.

 

 

Schedule of Services

 

 

Sunday

8:00 AM -- Matins

 9:40 AM -- Office of the Hours (precedes the Divine Liturgy)

10:00 AM -- Divine Liturgy (the main Sunday service) 

After services we gather for brunch and fellowship.

 

Wednesdays During Lent

5:00 PM -- Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (More  Here)

 

Saturday

5:00 PM -- Office of Vespers, or Vigil

(worship preparing us for the Lord’s Day)

 

Services for Feast Days

     St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church keeps a full schedule of services for the major feast days of the Church Year. On the eve of the Feast Day, we serve Vespers or Vigil. On the day of the Feast, we serve the Divine Liturgy (Holy Eucharist). The schedule for Feast Days is found on the Calendars & Schedule pageClick HERE.

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Today We Celebrate
Great and Holy Thursday - 04/17/14

THURSDAY: The Last Supper

Two events shape the liturgy of Great and Holy Thursday: the Last Supper of Christ with His disciples, and the betrayal of Judas. The meaning of both is in love. The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. And the betrayal of Judas reveals that sin, death and self-destruction are also due to love, but to deviated and distorted love, love directed at that which does not deserve love. Here is the mystery of this unique day, and its liturgy, where light and darkness, joy and sorrow are so strangely mixed, challenges us with the choice on which depends the eternal destiny of each one of us. “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come... having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end...” (John 13:1). To understand the meaning of the Last Supper we must see it as the very end of the great movement of Divine Love which began with the creation of the world and is now to be consummated in the death and resurrection of Christ.

God is Love (1 John 4:8). And the first gift of Love was life. The meaning, the content of life was communion. To be alive man was to eat and to drink, to partake of the world. The world was thus Divine love made food, made Body of man. And being alive, i.e. partaking of the world, man was to be in communion with God, to have God as the meaning, the content and the end of his life. Communion with the God-given world was indeed communion with God. Man received his food from God and making it his body and his life, he offered the whole world to God, transformed it into life in God and with God. The love of God gave life to man, the love of man for God transformed this life into communion with God. This was paradise. Life in it was, indeed, eucharistic. Through man and his love for God the whole creation was to be sanctified and transformed into one all-embracing sacrament of Divine Presence and man was the priest of this sacrament.

But in sin man lost this eucharistic life. He lost it because he ceased to see the world as a means of Communion with God and his life as eucharist, as adoration and thanksgiving. . . He love himself and the world for their own sake; he made himself the content and the end of his life. He thought that his hunger and thirst, i.e. his dependence of his life on the world—can be satisfied by the world as such, by food as such. But world and food, once they are deprived of their initial sacramental meaning—as means of communion with God, once they are not received for God’s sake and filled with hunger and thirst for God, once, in other words, God is no longer, their real “content” can give no life, satisfy no hunger, for they have no life in themselves... And thus by putting his love in them, man deviated his love from the only object of all love, of all hunger, of all desires. And he died. For death is the inescapable “decomposition” of life cut from its only source and content. Man thought to find life in the world and in food, but he found death. His life became communion with death, for instead of transforming the world by faith, love, and adoration into communion with God, he submitted himself entirely to the world, he ceased to be its priest and became its slave. And by his sin the whole world was made a cemetery, where people condemned to death partook of death and “sat in the region and shadow of death” (Matt. 4:16).

But if man betrayed, God remained faithful to man. He did not “turn Himself away forever from His creature whom He had made, neither did He forget the works of His hands, but He visited him in diverse manners, through the tender compassion of His mercy” (Liturgy of St Basil). A new Divine work began, that of redemption and salvation. And it was fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God Who in order to restore man to his pristine beauty and to restore life as communion with God, became Man, took upon Himself our nature, with its thirst and hunger, with its desire for and love of, life. And in Him life was revealed, given, accepted and fulfilled as total and perfect Eucharist, as total and perfect communion with God. He rejected the basic human temptation: to live “by bread alone,” He revealed that God and His kingdom are the real food, the real life of man. And this perfect eucharistic Life, filled with God, and, therefore Divine and immortal, He gave to all those who would believe in Him, i,e. find in Him the meaning and the content of their lives. Such is the wonderful meaning of the Last Supper. He offered Himself as the true food of man, because the Life revealed in Him is the true Life. And thus the movement of Divine Love which began in paradise with a Divine “take, eat. ..” (for eating is life for man) comes now “unto the end” with the Divine “take, eat, this is My Body...” (for God is life of man). The Last Supper is the restoration of the paradise of bliss, of life as Eucharist and Communion.

But this hour of ultimate love is also that of the ultimate betrayal. Judas leaves the light of the Upper Room and goes into darkness. “And it was night” (John 13:30). Why does he leave? Because he loves, answers the Gospel, and his fateful love is stressed again and again in the hymns of Holy Thursday. It does not matter indeed, that he loves the “silver.” Money stands here for all the deviated and distorted love which leads man into betraying God. It is, indeed, love stolen from God and Judas, therefore, is the Thief. When he does not love God and in God, man still loves and desires, for he was created to love and love is his nature, but it is then a dark and self-destroying passion and death is at its end. And each year, as we immerse ourselves into the unfathomable light and depth of Holy Thursday, the same decisive question is addressed to each one of us: do I respond to Christ’s love and accept it as my life, do I follow Judas into the darkness of his night?

The liturgy of Holy Thursday includes: a) Matins, b) Vespers and, following Vespers, the Liturgy of St Basil the Great. In the Cathedral Churches the special service of the Washing of Feet takes place after the Liturgy; while the deacon reads the Gospel, the Bishop washes the feet of twelve priests, reminding us that Christ’s love is the foundation of life in the Church and shapes all relations within it. It is also on Holy Thursday that Holy Chrism is consecrated by the primates of autocephalous Churches, and this also means that the new love of Christ is the gift we receive from the Holy Spirit on the day of our entrance into the Church.

At Matins the Troparion sets the theme of the day: the opposition between the love of Christ and the “insatiable desire” of Judas.

“When the glorious disciples were illumined by washing at the Supper,
Then was the impious Judas darkened with the love of silver
And to the unjust judges does he betray Thee, the just Judge.
Consider, 0 Lover of money, him who hanged himself because of it.
Do not follow the insatiable desire which dared this against the Master,
0 Lord, good to all, glory to Thee.”

After the Gospel reading (Luke 12:1-40) we are given the contemplation, the mystical and eternal meaning of the Last Supper in the beautiful canon of St Cosmas. Its last “irmos,” (Ninth Ode) invites us to share in the hospitality of the Lord’s banquet:

“Come, 0 ye faithful
Let us enjoy the hospitality of the Lord and the banquet of immortality
In the upper chamber with minds uplifted....”

At Vespers, the stichira on “Lord, I have cried” stress the spiritual anticlimax of Holy Thursday, the betrayal of Judas:

“Judas the slave and Knave,
The disciple and traitor,
The friend and fiend,
Was proved by his deeds,
For, as he followed the Master,
Within himself he contemplated His betrayal....”

After the Entrance, three lessons from the Old Testament:

1) Exodus 19: 10-19. God’s descent from Mount Sinai to His people as the image of God’s coming in the Eucharist.

2) Job 38:1-23, 42:1-5, God’s conversation with Job and Job’s answer: “who will utter to me what I understand not? Things too great and wonderful for me, which I knew not...”—and these “great and wonderful things” are fulfilled in the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood.

3) Isaiah 50:4-11. The beginning of the prophecies on the suffering servant of God,

The Epistle reading is from I Corinthians 11:23-32: St Paul’s account of the Last Supper and the meaning of communion.

The Gospel reading (the longest of the year is taken from all four Gospels and is the full story of the Last Supper, the betrayal of Judas and Christ’s arrest in the garden.

The Cherubic hymn and the hymn of Communion are replaced by the words of the prayer before Communion:

“Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant,
For I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, 
Neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss;
But like the thief will I confess Thee:
Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.”

by The Very Rev. Alexander Schmemann, S.T.D.
Professor of Liturgical Theology, St Vladimir’s Seminary


 

The icon of St. Mary Magdalene at the top of each page used by permission of Maria Tsimboka, the iconographer,
and the K-W Gift Gallery, the North American distributor of this artist's work.





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