Recent statistics indicate that about half of all pregnancies in America are “unintended,” and of those, four out of ten end in abortion. Perhaps most disturbingly, over 70% of women involved in an abortion report some sort of religious affiliation.
In the Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Great Feast of Annunciation on March 25. Without coincidence, this occurs nine months before the Great Feast of Nativity or Christmas. In the Annunciation, we celebrate not only the Incarnation, but the actualconception of Jesus Christ. As the Creed states, “who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.” We also remember the conception of Mary herself later in the year. And again, not merely their birth or the bare facts of their existence, but theirconception—what the Church has forever, and ever shall recognize as the beginning of life. This is without question, and has been universally attested since the apostles.
His Grace Bishop Maxim and his parents, Proto Lazar and Protinica Radmila Vasiljevic, celebrated their Krsna Slava, on Lazarus Saturday, April 4, 2015 at the Saint Steven's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Alhambra, California.
His Grace, Bishop Maxim officiated at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the clergy from Saint Steven's Cathedral and surrounding parishes, and many Orthodox faithful from around the Diocese. Following the Divine Liturgy, the festal Slava service was held in the main hall and was followed by a delicious luncheon prepared by the Diocesan Kolo Srpskih Sestara.
Following the Liturgical gathering at the Cathedral church, His Grace Bishop Lavrentije of Sabac performed a solemn rite of blessing the slava cake at the Patriarchal Court.
The solemn slava rite and reception, besides the host, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej and Their Graces Bishops Atanasije of Bihac-Petrovac and Arsenije of Toplica, was attended by President of the Republic of Serbia Mr. Tomislav Nikolic with his wife Dragica, President of the Government of the Republic of Serbia Mr. Aleksandar Vucic, President of Republic of Srpska Mr. Milorad Dodik, Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic and Princess Katherine, Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Ivica Dacic, Minister Velimir Ilic, Director of the Bureau for Cooperation with Traditional Churches and Religious Communities Dr. Mileta Radojevic, protomaster of Saint Sava Cathedral Professor Dr. Vojislav Milovanovic, Ambassador of the Russian Federation Mr. Aleksander Chepurin, Ambassador of Belarus Mr. Vladimir Chushev, Ambassador of Cyprus Mrs. Nasfika Krusti, as well as prominent representatives of the economic and cultural life of the Serbian capital.
His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch, officiated on April 4th, 2015, on Lazarus Saturday, the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the concelebration of Their Graces Bishop Lavrentije of Sabac, Atanasije of Bihac-Petrovac and Arsenije of Toplica at the Cathedral church in Belgrade.
The Eucharistic gathering was especially solemn, since St. Lazarus Saturday is Patron Saint-day of His Holiness. On this occasion many priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church concelebrated.
Great Lent and Holy Week are two separate fasts, and two separate celebrations. Great Lent ends on Friday of the fifth week (the day before Lazarus Saturday). Holy Week begins immediately thereafter. Let’s explore the meaning of each of the solemn days of Passion Week.
Lazarus Saturday: Lazarus Saturday is the day which begins Holy Week. It commemorates the raising of our Lord’s friend Lazarus, who had been in the tomb four days. This act confirmed the universal resurrection from the dead that all of us will experience at our Lord’s Second Coming. This miracle led many to faith, but it also led to the chief priest’s and Pharisees’ decision to kill Jesus (John 11:47-57).
Palm Sunday (The Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem): Our Lord enters Jerusalem and is proclaimed king – but in an earthly sense, as many people of His time were seeking a political Messiah. Our Lord is King, of course, but of a different type – the eternal King prophesied by Zechariah the Prophet. We use palms on this day to show that we too accept Jesus as the true King and Messiah of the Jews, Who we are willing to follow – even to the cross.
One of the most miraculous details of our Savior’s life was foreseen by the Prophet Zacharias through the dark glass of time, and described thus: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the King is coming to thee, just, and a Saviour; he is meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.(Zach. 9:9). The Apostle Luke, an eyewitness, describes this event: