(Lent begins March 11, 2019)

Vespers every Saturday at 5 p.m
Sunday Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m.

FORGIVENESS SUNDAY, March 10 at 10 a.m. Divine Liturgy.  Cheesefare Meal follows

LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED* (See History Below) – Every  Lenten Wednesday at 10.a.m., and Friday at 7 p.m. (Begins March 13)

Lenten Retreat Days at St. Michael’s, Concord

Women’s Retreat Day – Saturday, April 6, 2019
Mother Macrina Roeber(formerly, Sister Marguerite) will be offering a Retreat day for women here at St. Michael’s on Saturday, April 6th.
Mother Macrina has been a sister at Holy Assumption Monastery (OCA) in Calistoga, CA, since 2009. Her educational background includes a B.A. from Penn State University, an M.A. in Applied Orthodox Theology from Balamand University (Lebanon), and both an M.A and Th.M. from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Repentance with the Great Canon of St. Andrew” is the focus. Free to members of St. Michael’s. $15 for visitors. Lunch provided.
RSVP to Rector@stmichael.org or call (415) 496-9023.

9:30 Coffee and Greet
10-11:45 a.m. -First Session
Noon to 12:45 -Lunch
1-2:45 p.m. -Second Session
3:00 Closing Prayer

Men’s Retreat Day – Saturday, April 13, 2019
Rev. Edward Henderson was born February 11, 1978 and grew up in Fort Myers, Florida. Raised in the Episcopal Church, he was received into the Orthodox Church in 1996. He graduated from Florida State University in 2000 with a BA in Russian and then went on to pursue post-graduate studies in Moscow, Russia and London, England. He graduated from University College London in 2004 with an MA in Russian Studies and then taught English in Moscow. Returning to the United States in 2005, he then attended Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, graduating from there in 2009. Moving to the SF Bay Area in 2010, he was a teacher at Saint John’s Orthodox Academy from 2010-2013. In 2013, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, ordained Fr. Edward to the diaconate and priesthood. Since then, he has served as the rector of Saint John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church in Berkeley, CA.
The topics will be “Orthodox Spirituality 101” and “the Witness of St. Maximus the Confessor.” Free to Parish men and $15 for visitors. Lunch provided.
RSVP to Rector@stmichael.org or call
(415) 496-9023.

9:30 Coffee and Greet
10-11:45 a.m. -First Session
Noon to 12:45 -Lunch
1-2:45 p.m. -Second Session
3:00 Closing Prayer


*The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
The joyousness which accompanies the celebration of the Divine Liturgies of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom was regarded by the early Church as not suitable for the penitential season of the Great Fast. For this reason, the Synod in Laodicea (363 AD) forbade the celebration of the Divine Liturgies during the Great Lent. except on Saturday, Sunday, the Feast of the Annunciation, and Holy Thursday.

The Christians of that time were in the habit of receiving Holy Communion almost daily and now were deprived of the strength derived from Holy Communion for about a week. This greatly saddened them.

The Church, desiring Her children to continue their pious habit of receiving daily the Holy Eucharist, permitted its reception. but from Holy Gifts that had been consecrated in a preceding Liturgy. Thus the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts was formed, and was celebrated on evenings from Monday through Friday during Great Lent; there is no consecration of the Sacred Elements at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, but those who desire to communicate receive the Holy Gifts which have been consecrated at the previous Divine Liturgy.  At that time. Christians did not eat anything all day in preparation.

It received its present form from St. Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome in the sixth century. It became a Canon at the Quinisext Council in 692 AD. The Canon reads:

On all days of the holy fast of Great Lent, except on the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday), and the Lord’s Day (i.e. Sunday) and the holy day of the Annunciation, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is to be served (Canon 52, Quinisect Council, 692 AD).

As the years passed, however, Christians unfortunately lost their original zeal and ignored the benefits of Holy Communion, and so they did not receive it every day or even every Sunday. They received it at long intervals. Therefore the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts lost its original and main meaning for those celebrating it. Today, it is used only during the Great Fast, on Wednesdays and Fridays; on Thursday in the fifth week of Lent; and on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Passion (Holy) Week.

The Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts consists of Vespers, with special Prayers together with a portion of the Divine Liturgy, omitting its most important part, the consecration(Anaphora)of the Holy Gifts.  The Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours (with the Typical Psalms) are used in a particular manner at the beginning.

The Sacred Elements, consecrated at the Divine Liturgy on Saturdays and Sundays, are preserved on the holy Altar in the tabernacle. The priest places the Gifts on the diskos with prayer and incensing after the Great Litany, during the chanting of the psalms (kathisma). He carries them in solemn procession around the back of the Altar, and to the Table of Oblation.

The evening psalm, Lord I call upon You, is then sung with  special hymns for the day. This is followed with the evening entrance, the hymn Gladsome Light (Phos Hilaron), and two Biblical readings; from Genesis and from Proverbs. The Bible readings are punctuated by the Priest blessing the faithful with the censer and a lighted candle proclaiming “The Light of Christ illumines all!”. This blessing symbolises the light of Christ’s Resurrection, which illumines the Old Testament Scriptures and the entire life of mankind. This is the very Light with which Christians are illuminated in the life of the Church through Holy Baptism.

The Prayer of St. Ephraim is read after the singing of the evening psalm “Let my prayer rise in Your sight as incense. The augmented litany is chanted, and the Presanctified Gifts are brought solemnly and to the altar table. This is when the following special entrance hymn is chanted:

Now the powers of heaven do serve invisibly with us.
Lo, the King of Glory enters.
Lo, the mystical sacrifice is upborne, fulfilled.
Let us draw near in faith and love, and become communicants of life eternal.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Prayer of St. Ephraim is read again, accompanied with a litany and a special prayer before Holy Communion (Eucharist). “Our Father Who art in heaven …” is sung and the faithful receive Holy Communion to the singing of:

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Alleluia”

The communicants “depart in peace” with thanksgiving to God for His Coming. The special dismissal prayer asks God for a successful fulfillment of Lent and to worthily celebrate the Great Feast of Pascha – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

O Almighty Lord … Who has brought us to these all-holy days for the purification of the soul and body, for the controlling of carnal passions … and the hope of the resurrection … enable us to fight the good fight, to accomplish the course of the Fast, to preserve inviolate the Faith … to be accounted victors over sin … and uncondemned, to attain unto and to adore Thy Holy Resurrection…

The evening reception of Communion is fulfilled after a day of prayer and fasting, with the total abstinence from food and drink at least from noon of the day – not an easy task.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is one of the great masterpieces of Orthodox piety and liturgical creativity. It reveals the central Christian doctrine and experience in its form and content; namely that our life must be spent in prayer and fasting in order to be in communion with Christ who will come like ‘a thief in the night’. It tells us that all of our life, and not only on fast periods, is completed with the Presence of the Victorious Christ who is risen from the dead. It witnesses to the fact that Christ will come at the end of the ages to judge the living and the dead, and to establish God’s Kingdom “of which there will be no end”. It tells us that we must be ready for His arrival, and to be found watching and serving; in order to be worthy to “enter into the joy of the Lord”.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is one of the most beautiful and meaningful liturgies in the Orthodox Christian Church.

adapted from Fr Thomas Hopko’s Orthodox Church in America
and Fr Nicholas M. Elias’s Greek Orthodox Church, Athens

Welcome to St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church!
We are an Eastern Orthodox Christian Church located in Concord, California.

What is the Orthodox Church? It’s the original Christian Church founded by Jesus and continued by his Apostles. It is the same Church described in the Bible as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. Throughout its 2000-year history Orthodox Christianity has remained faithful to the teachings and practices passed on from the Apostles and early Church Fathers.

If you have questions about the Orthodox Church or our particular Parish,
please contact me at the numbers below.  
Fr. Peter Fermeglia, Pastor
(415) 496-9023