Our parish is named and consecrated in honour of one of the major icons in most churches — “The Sign of the Theotokos” spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah (7:14) in the Old Covenant, and quoted by the Evangelist Matthew (1:23) in the New: “The Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us’.” (“Theotokos” in Greek means “birthgiver of God”). Our liturgical services are celebrated primarily in English (with some French, and a little Greek and Slavonic).
Our mission is to bear witness to the Kingdom of God as transmitted through Sacred Scripture, the Apostles, the Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of God; worship and glorify the Lord God in Holy Trinity according to the liturgical practices of the Orthodox Church … and to be a spiritual home for all those who choose to dwell therein.
SUNDAY OF THE CROSS – Midpoint of Great Lent
The third Sunday of Lent is called "The Veneration of the Cross." At the Vigil of that day, after the Great Doxology, the Cross is brought in a solemn procession to the center of the church and remains there for the entire week-- with a special rite of veneration following each service. It is noteworthy that the theme of the Cross, which dominates the hymnology of that Sunday, is developed in terms not of suffering but of victory and joy. The meaning of all this is clear.
The Cross is not a sign of humiliation, at least not for the Christian. For the Christian, the Cross is an emblem of victory, a weapon against worldly powers, most especially the principalities of darkness. It is no longer a symbol of death, but the giver of life. As Orthodox Christians, we have three feasts of the Cross (on Aug. 1, Sept. 14 and the Third Sunday of Lent), the sixth and ninth hours of prayer are dedicated to the events on Golgotha, Wednesday and Friday are consecrated to those same events. In short, the Cross is omnipresent in our daily prayers and hymns and theology.
So, why have the Third Sunday of Lent dedicated to the Cross? It is precisely because we need it. Most of us cannot attend the daily vigil nor pray the sixth and ninth hours on our own. Even the most devout Orthodox may have difficulties going to the extra prayer services which help bring before us the reality that we are enslaved to the desires of worldly powers through the fear of death and need the Cross.
We are in Mid-Lent. One the one hand, the physical and spiritual effort, if it is serious and consistent, begins to be felt, its burden becomes more burdensome, our fatigue more evident. We need help and encouragement. On the other hand, having endured this fatigue, having climbed the mountain up to this point, we begin to see the end of our pilgrimage, and the rays of Easter grow in their intensity. Lent is our self-crucifixion, our experience, limited as it is, of Christ's commandment heard in the Gospel lesson of that Sunday: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34). But we cannot take up our cross and follow Christ unless we have His Cross which He took up in order to save us. It is His Cross, not ours, that saves us. It is His Cross that gives not only meaning but also power to others.
Adapted from Fr. Alexander Scmemann’s “Great Lent”
On Christian Almsgiving …
Do you wish to honour the Body of the Saviour? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, “This is my body,” and made it so by his word, is the same that said, “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.” Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls. –Saint John Chrysostom
The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit. – St. Basil the Great