Needless to say, I have a personal interest in this because my husband (Archpriest John Tomasi) is the rector and together, with family and friends, we have been here since the beginning. We started with one other family in 1995, when we rented a house that had a one-car garage, which we converted into a chapel. Soon, we moved into a home with a 2-car garage and suddenly our church capacity doubled! In 1999, we found a 1200 sq. ft. storefront wherein we set up a chapel, Orthodox bookstore, and small activity room. One year later, we were officially accepted into the Orthodox Church in American (OCA) and have been in the OCA Diocese of the West ever since.
Now, 17 years later we are in our third location and at times can handle 100+ worshippers, even though several may be spilling out into the hallways, dining area, kitchen, children’s room, and bookstore.
So far, we have pledges of $1.5 million toward a purchase, yet everything we look at in our West Los Angeles region is $2.5 million and up (mostly up). Our faith in God and in the generosity of others drives us forward, and at this point we have two serious properties on the table for review. Within 3 months we will need to generate another $500,000 in donations, as we prepare for the loan we will be taking out as a church to make the final purchase.
Those who help to build a church are called “Church Founders,” and they are deeply revered in Orthodoxy. As upholders of the “chief corner stone” their generosity will allow for a church to stand on a firm foundation until the very Second Coming of Christ. And at every communion service throughout the ages, the church prays for its founders in the litanies.
Both in the Old and New Testaments, references are given to the chief corner stone. St. Paul explains this to the Ephesians in this way:
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are also being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” [Ephesians 2:19-22]
We know that the Lord blesses us in these times and forever. Thank you so very much for considering this request.
Dormition of the Theotokos
[Originally published here.]
The feast of the Dormition or Falling-asleep of the Theotokos is celebrated on the fifteenth of August, preceded by a two-week fast. This feast, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ’s mother. It proclaims that Mary has been “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.
As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.
The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary is without personal sins. In the Gospel of the feast, however, in the liturgical services and in the Dormition icon, the Church proclaims as well that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved from the trials, sufferings and death of this world; and that having truly died, she was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise which is prepared and promised to all who “hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk11.27–28).
In giving birth, you preserved your virginity. In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, and by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death (Troparion).
Neither the tomb, nor death, could hold the Theotokos, who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life, by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb (Kontakion).
The services of the feast repeat the main theme, that the Mother of Life has “passed over into the heavenly joy, into the divine gladness and unending delight” of the Kingdom of her Son (Vesperal hymn). The Old Testament readings, as well as the gospel readings for the Vigil and the Divine Liturgy, are exactly the same as those for the feast of the Virgin’s nativity and her entrance into the Temple. Thus, at the Vigil we again hear Mary say: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1.47). At the Divine Liturgy we hear the letter to the Philippians where Saint Paul speaks of the self-emptying of Christ who condescends to human servitude and ignoble death in order to be “highly exalted by God his Father” (Phil 2.5–11). And once again we hear in the Gospel that Mary’s blessedness belongs to all who “hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk 11.27–28).
Thus, the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is the celebration of the fact that all men are “highly exalted” in the blessedness of the victorious Christ, and that this high exaltation has already been accomplished in Mary the Theotokos. The feast of the Dormition is the sign, the guarantee, and the celebration that Mary’s fate is, the destiny of all those of “low estate” whose souls magnify the Lord, whose spirits rejoice in God the Saviour, whose lives are totally dedicated to hearing and keeping the Word of God which is given to men in Mary’s child, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world.
Finally it must be stressed that, in all of the feasts of the Virgin Mother of God in the Church, the Orthodox Christians celebrate facts of their own lives in Christ and the Holy Spirit. What happens to Mary happens to all who imitate her holy life of humility, obedience, and love. With her all people will be “blessed” to be “more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim” if they follow her example. All will have Christ born in them by the Holy Spirit. All will become temples of the living God. All will share in the eternal life of His Kingdom who live the life that Mary lived.
In this sense everything that is praised and glorified in Mary is a sign of what is offered to all persons in the life of the Church. It is for this reason that Mary, with the divine child Jesus within her, is called in the Orthodox Tradition the Image of the Church. For the assembly of the saved is those in whom Christ dwells.
It is the custom in some churches to bless flowers on the feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos.
- Vigil: 12:30 PM Sunday September 27th.
- Liturgy: 6:00 am Monday September 28th.
Third Annual Pan Orthodox Music Festival
Saturday, August 19th 2017
Concert: 4:00 pm – Reception: 5:30 pm – Vespers: 6:30 pm
St Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
1621 West Garvey Ave, Alhambra, CA 91803