Schedule of Services: 1st Week of Great Lent

25 Feb

candle_lentThis is the acceptable time. This is the time for repentance. Let us offer our virtues to God as gifts, and set aside the works of darkness, by putting on the armor of light as the apostle Paul proclaims. As the Lord killed the enemy by fasting, so let us also come to destroy his arrows and spears, saying: get behind me, Satan! when he comes to tempt us.

Matins of Tuesday, 1st Week of Great Lent

 

 

 

Sunday, February 26   10:45 am

Forgiveness Vespers following  Divine Liturgy, with the Rite of Forgiveness

 

Monday, February 27   6:00 pm             

Canon of St Andrew of Crete

 

Tuesday, February 28   6:00 pm              

Canon of St Andrew of Crete

 

Wednesday, March 1             

Confessions   4:30 – 5:30 pm  *  9th Hour   5:40 pm  *  Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts    6:00 pm

 

Thursday, March 2   6:00pm                     

Canon of St Andrew of Crete           

 

Friday, March 3                    

Confessions   8:15 am – 8:40 am  *  9th Hour   8:40 am  *  Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified  Gifts   9:00 am

 

Saturday, March 4                    

Confessions   3:00 pm * Great Vespers   4:00 pm  *  Confessions following Vespers   4:45 pm

 

Sunday, March 5                    

Divine Liturgy   9:00 am * Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers, at our parish   4:00 pm, with Archpriest Chad Hatfield, president of St. Vladimir’s Seminary as Guest Homilist

                                  

 

Great Lent is about coming home…

15 Feb

prodigal-son_iconOftentimes we think  that the season of Great Lent is about “giving up” something we love (or, rather, are addicted to!): food, drink, entertainment—you name it.

But as we now approach Great Lent, we begin hearing in the church services hymns that invite us to “come home” to our heavenly Father.

Great Lent is not about “giving up” things!

It’s about giving ourselves over into the hands of our heavenly Father and spending more time with Him: in conversation (prayer), in getting to know Him (reading Scripture and listening to the words of the church services), and in close communion (receiving the Eucharist more often).

So, during this coming Great Lent, don’t give up things. Rather, give yourself—your time, your will, your body, your mind, and heart —over to your Father.

Come, let our heavenly Father embrace you! Here are two things to help you give yourself over to Him:

Soak in this wonderful hymn, titled, “The Father’s Embrace”:

Listen to or read my sermon about the Prodigal Son being welcomed back by his father:

 

“The Father’s Embrace”_Sunday of the Prodigal Son_February 12, 2017

Wishing you a  joyous “homecoming,” your pastor, Fr. Steven

Welcome! Community Dinner, Sunday, February 19, 2017

5 Feb

As we anticipate our Community Dinner on Sunday, February 19, 2017, following Divine Liturgy, the words of our Lord Jesus keep coming to my mind:

 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:15–17).

An essential part of being in community is being friends to one another—loving one another. And part of loving one another is gathering together just to enjoy each other’s company. That’s why I warmly welcome everyone to our Community Dinner!

Be sure to reserve your tickets by Sunday, February 12th, so our cooking crew knows how many to prepare for! Just contact Bobby Denhup or Mark Curran to purchase tickets (Click here to view our current Bulletin under the “Media” tab on our website.)

sunday-meal

Sanctity of Life Sunday, January 22, 2107

22 Jan

sanctityoflife-visitationDear Friends in Christ,

On January 13, 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating January 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. (January 22, 1973, was the day the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand in all 50 states.)

Churches around the United States still use the day to celebrate God’s gift of life, commemorate the many lives lost to abortion, and commit themselves to protecting human life at every stage. Churches continue to recognize the third Sunday in January as “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.”

My sermon for “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday 2017” focuses on how to approach the painful reality of women making the decision to obtain an abortion; we who call ourselves Christians need to approach such women—and all people, for that matter—with an attitude of pastoral concern and in the spirit of Christ’s love. We need to understand the complexity of their decision, and especially the fears that reportedly drive it. (Read or listen to my sermon here: “Pastoral Care & Sanctity of Life”_January 22, 2017).

I also want to draw your attention to the Archpastoral Message for “Sanctity of Life Sunday 2017” by His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America. (Read his message here: “Sanctity of Life 2017″_Metropolitan Tikhon.)

May this day be one of healing and hope. And, may we pray continually for our eyes and hearts to be open to the wonder of Life, granted to us by the Almighty God.

Your Pastor, Fr. Steven J. Belonick

 

Theophany: Light Shines Forth!

8 Jan

imgresI dislike winter: the chilling cold, the depressing darkness.

One thing that does cheer me are the twinkling lights that decorate rooftops and doorways during the holiday season. In my mind, they witness to the True Light that  enlivens our souls and brightens creation itself.

During this holy season of wonderful winter feasts—the Nativity of Our Lord and Holy Theophany—the church services continually offer us the theme of light penetrating the darkness and illuminating the shadows of despair that plague our earthly existence.

The hymns and scripture readings from both feasts remind us that Jesus Christ has come into the world as a great Light from God (John 8.12), a light bringing wisdom, understanding, and the fire of love into our very souls.

I want to share with you these resources from Ancient Faith Ministries that help us recognize this Light. (They are appropriate for various age groups.) Just click the links to enjoy:

May the Light of Jesus Christ illumine us all!

 

Your Pastor, Fr. Steven J. Belonick

Fairfield Glee Club Sparkles at Church Concert

13 Dec

fullsizerender2Sunday afternoon, December 11, 2016, the Fairfield University Glee Club presented a sparkling Christmas Concert here at Holy Ghost Orthodox Church—an event that was 2 years in the making.

What a gift! The Glee Club’s 130 young people took time out from their busy university schedules to bring great joy to our neighbors and friends here on East Main Street in Bridgeport.

I especially want to thank Father Charles Allen, Chaplain of Fairfield University, for originally arranging this concert with me. I also want to thank Carole Ann Maxwell, the Glee Club’s Director, for her generous spirit and gracious support all along the way.

Mostly, I thank God for putting all these stellar folks in our lives, and for arranging their paths to cross ours. They truly brought to us “glad tidings of great joy!” (Luke 2.10).

Listen again here, to their angelic voices: “Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

With much gratitude, Father Steven

[photo and video credit: Richard Kendall]

 

 

Free Christmas Concert by Fairfield Glee Club, Sunday, December 11, 2016

30 Oct

news_chorusgroup_12x4_2919

Mark your calendars now for Sunday, December 11, 2016, at 3 p.m.

The  130-member Fairfield University Glee Club will be spreading the joy of the Nativity Season by presenting a free and public concert in the upstairs nave of our church. We welcome neighbors and friends to an afternoon of inspiring Christmas music, and to a reception of light refreshments afterwards in our church undercroft.

Please spread the word!

Share in the light. Share in the love. Share in the Joy of the Christ Child.

Your Pastor, Father Steven Belonick

“God’s Good Creation”: Update!

17 Jul

Be sure to view our parish’s Facebook Page for a day-by-day report on Vacation Church School 2016! Look here!

Holy Ghost Church at the Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk

Holy Ghost Church at the Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk

One of my favorite times of the year is Vacation Church School during the month of August. That’s because I get to spend time with some marvelous human beings: the children of our parish.

My conversation and interaction with them during that week always brings to my mind the words of our Lord Jesus: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

I know why Jesus said that. It’s because children are without guile, innocent, curious, and always expecting something positive—always anticipating the best in a situation. They are also always willing to give the benefit of the doubt to someone, to forgive someone, and to express love to other people.

The theme of this year’s Vacation Church School—”God’s Good Creation”— and the activities our teaching team have planned are especially suited for curious, positive kids! From Monday, August 15 through Thursday, August 18, in the beautiful setting of Holy Ghost Park in Shelton, CT, we will explore highly interesting and significant animals and plants that are mentioned in the Holy Bible.

IMG_6701

Studying the “hyssop” plant mentioned in Psalm 50/51: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean”!

Supporting our studies will be two intriguing activities. We’ll visit The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT. And, we’ll have a special guest, “Gardener Dennis” from Pivot Ministries in Bridgeport, CT, teach us basic gardening techniques and the value of urban gardening. (“Gardener Dennis” is known throughout the Bridgeport school system for bringing student groups to the Pivot Greenhouse and involving them in learning to grow plants—from seedling, to flower, to fruit. What an experience for urban kids!)

I’m so looking forward to that week. If you know of anyone who would like to be part of our Vacation Church School, please contact me for a registration form: belonick@svots.edu or 914-274-1151.

Your Pastor, Father Steven

P.S. Oh, that we could ALL become like little children, as our Lord admonishes: “Unless you turn from your sins and become like a little child, you can by no means enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 18:3).

 

Good Neighbor BBQ Sunday, July 10, 2016

27 Jun

Our Holy Ghost Church has been blessed this past year with a special partnership with Pivot Ministries, a local faith-based non-profit that since 1970 has assisted men challenged by drug and alcohol abuse. (Click here to watch a new short film about Pivot Ministries.)

How do we partner with them?

Well, we allow four of Pivot’s graduates, some of

Great partnership!

whom now serve on Pivot’s staff, to live in one of the homes on our church campus. In return, these men take care of the seasonal landscaping and snowplowing on our church grounds.

So far, it’s been a “win-win”:  the church grounds look GREAT and Pivot staff members really enjoy having their own space and some breathing room away from their day-to-day duties at Pivot’s headquarters on Jane Street.

And, on Sunday, July 10th, our parish will be in for even a bigger perk in this partnership. Do you like a good cook-out? I hope so, because the Pivot staff is going to prepare and serve our parish community lunch on that Sunday after Divine Liturgy. It’s their way of saying “Thank You” for our hospitality to them.

And—even better—the Pivot choir will entertain us after Divine Liturgy (either in the church hall or outside, depending on the weather).

PIvot_Pembroke_OpenHouse_Choir_June2016

Pivot Ministries Choir (photo: Rich Kendall)

And—best of all—the whole Pivot Ministries group, both staff and clients, will be praying with us at Divine Liturgy that day, again, in appreciation for our willingness to support their ministry and mission. This is the first time many of them will have ever witnessed an Orthodox Christian liturgical service.

On that day, let’s offer our hospitality, as we receive theirs.

Your Pastor, Father Steven Belonick

PIvot_OpenHouse_Parishioners_2016

Our visit to Pivot Ministries Open House in June (photo: Rich Kendall)

P.S. Let me tell you about one more example of our partnership. Pivot Ministries recently was featured in the CT Post because of their new venture in hydroponics farming (read about it here). They held an Open House in early June to show off their hydroponics set-up in their greenhouse and to cut the ribbon on a new half-way house they had renovated and opened near their headquarters on Jane Street. Seven of us from Holy Ghost Church took time off mid-afternoon to attend the Open House (and yes, we ate the chili, hot dogs, hamburgers at their cook-out!). Just this week, I received from Pivot Ministries a donation to Holy Ghost for $1,000. What an awesome partnership, as we support each other’s mission and goals. May our Lord continue to bless it!

 

Save the Date! Parish Picnic Sunday, June 26, 2016

26 May

Save the date! Annual Parish Picnic, Sunday, June 26, 2016, noon–4 p.m.

Remember: Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at Holy Ghost Park, 10 a.m.

Family, friends, and foodies are welcome!

Get directions to the park!
Picnic_2016

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