Feast of the Holy Spirit 2023

Today is the Feast of the Holy Spirit.

  • This is the day when the Holy Spirit wrote the 10 commandments on tables of stone after the children of Israel came to Mt Sinai.
  • This is the day when the Holy Spirit strengthened the spines of the Apostles so that they boldly and fearlessly proclaimed Christ—unafraid of jail, persecution, harassment, or death.
  • This is the day when the Holy Spirit reversed the Tower Babel—when He fused many different languages into one preaching, one faith, one baptism, one Gospel.
  • This is the day when the Holy Spirit burned away doubt and warmed the hearts of many.
  • This is the day when the Holy Spirit confirmed the faith of Christ in thousands from different races, ages and genders.
  • This is the day when the Spirit of God opened eyes to see Truth, to know Truth, to embrace Truth.

And this is the day when the Holy Spirit united 3000 different people into one Church; when the Holy Spirit made a home for the Father and the Son in each one of these 3000.

Think of that. 3000 baptized.

  • The same 3000 who cheered for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem 60 days before.
  • The same 3000 who quickly became disillusioned because Jesus was not the King Messiah they wanted.
  • The same 3000 who turned on Jesus and shouted for His crucifixion 6 days later.
  • The same 3000 who had heard rumors of Jesus’ resurrection but wouldn’t believe what they heard.

These 3000 were no different than you and me. They were

  • waiting for God to come through;
  • waiting to be rescued from own own self-serving passions;
  • waiting to see the world in a better, more real way;
  • waiting to be less anxious, less stressed, less afraid, less burdened

And the wait is worth it. Because when these women and men finished their 9 a.m. prayers,

  • They saw God in the tongues of fire,
  • They heard God from the mouth of the Apostles,
  • They felt God in the rushing mighty wind.

They saw, heard, and felt not just the idea of God, not the idea that there is a god. The 3000 felt, heard, and saw God Himself; His Spirit; His moving, active, life-giving, nurturing Person.

And the 3000 had, altogether, as one, the same response: How can that Spirit deliver God into me; so that I’m comforted, and supported, and made as fearless like those 12? How can I have that Love which is so alive in those Apostles? How can I get what they’ve got?

Peter’s reply: Be baptized. Then chrismated. And then follow us to the Eucharist, to the breaking of the bread.

Listen again to Peter’s reply, in different words: “Make your repentance real. Don’t just say you love God. Rub off your need to gratify yourself. Let self-love be replaced with the Love that God is. Love what the Lord says more than you love yourself.

“And so let the Holy Spirit graft and implant you in Christ Himself, in His flesh and in His bones. Partake of His Divine Nature so that He can transform you into an adopted child of God. Let the Spirit draw you more and more into Him, in the same way that He attracted you to experience and perceive the desire for Truth. Let God’s Spirit re-calibrate and realign your spirit, so that you now see clearly what is good, and beautiful, and true; and so that you live unafraid of anything.”

That reply is the foundation of the Church of the Apostles. Because it comes from the Apostles.

And the 3000 who believed it, who embraced it—they were the first “members” of this Apostolic Church, molded into one entity by the Spirit from folks of every different race, culture, and place.

That Church of the Apostles continues today. The gates of hell have not brought it down, or damaged it, or changed in into something else. That Church of the Apostles continues—because the basic reply of the Apostles remains: Be baptized; be confirmed in the faith of Jesus; and consume God’s own Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

Now, when we enter deeply into this common union; when we let go of our worries, doubts, and hangups; when we welcome the Promise not as a future hope but as a present reality; in other words, when we get out of the way of the Holy Spirit, and let Him carry us along in the Way which is Christ—then we begin to see that what matters most is the kindness, the compassion, and the love of Jesus that we get to live toward everyone, because the Spirit has given us the faith of Jesus. Not our faith; not faith in Jesus; not Jesus’ faith in us. The Holy Spirit gives us Jesus’ own faith, which displaces our hunches and supplants our vague notions.

Jesus’ own faith being what you actually believe—that is what the Holy Spirit gives and delivers.

And that faith of Jesus creates a boldness so that hope is not shaken, and charity does not grow cold. In turn,

our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a Truth whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high. This faith was increased by the Lord’s ascension and strengthened by the gift of the Spirit; it remains unshaken by chains and imprisonment, exile and hunger, fire and ravening beasts, and the most refined tortures ever devised by brutal persecutors. Throughout the world women no less than men, tender girls as well as boys, give their life’s blood in the struggle for this faith. It is a faith that drives out devils, heals the sick and raises the dead. (St Leo)

That’s the faith the 3000 saw and wanted; what they were looking for; and what they received when they were baptized. “Their lukewarm hearts were fired by the light of faith and began to burn within them.”

And we have received the same faith of Jesus.

For like the 3000, we have been given the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and fortitude, of knowledge and piety, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord—that is, we now have the awe-inspiring Spirit that lets us see how marvelous our Lord truly has been and continues to be; to whom, with the Father and His only-begotten Son, belongs all glory, honor, and worship: throughout all ages of ages.

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Christ Mass at Midnight 2022

This year’s midnight Mass begins at 11 p.m. Those who wish to join in the liturgy and hymns are encouraged to use a digital device (tablet, iPad, Kindle) since the lights will be turned very low. Candles to hold in the hand will also be provided.

Below are the liturgy and hymn selections for the midnight Mass.

Below are the liturgy and hymn selections for the midnight Mass.

  • SAH 55 – O Come, All Ye Faithful (procession)
  • SAH 59 – The First Nowell (offertory)
  • SAH 51 – Hark the Herald Angels Sing (communion)
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (communion)
  • Silent Night (exit)

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Celebrating the Ascension 2022

The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ will be celebrated at St Michael’s this Thursday, June 2, with Mass at 7 p.m. Rosary will precede the Mass at 6:30 p.m.

The Ascension is one of the four major feasts in the liturgical year, behind Easter, Christmas, and Epiphany. With this feast we celebrate not only the close of Christ’s earthly ministry, but also that with the Ascension God the Father has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2.6).

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Go Safe, Go Slow: Re-Opening the Parish

Dear Parishioners & Friends:

Christ is risen!

In the spirit of love, His Eminence has provided us with a modification to his previous Directive as a first phase to reopening our church in a measured way. This Directive gives us prudent path toward receiving the Sacraments beginning Sunday, May 17, 2020.

Since it is a first step, there are many details. These details are important to meet various regulations, but they can also seem a bit overwhelming.

I found it very helpful to join with His Eminence in a Zoom call yesterday with nearly 300 priests and deacons in the Archdiocese. He spoke about the details and answered our many questions. In the same way, I will be pleased to talk with you and answer any questions you have when we have our Zoom call this Sunday after Mass.

Before getting to the details, let me first summarize the spirit and tone of the Directive and today’s call.

His Eminence urges us to not be afraid, and at the same time to be prudent. None of us wants to do anything that will hurt others—either physically or, most importantly, spiritually. To paraphrase His Eminence, “When the life of humans is endangered, doctors use their tools and we [bishops and priests] use our tools: prayer, forgiveness of sins, material aid—all toward the goal of saving souls.”

That was the loving message from His Eminence. It is a message of hope and encouragement, and filled with pastoral wisdom.

In collaboration with our Diocesan Bishops, His Eminence has given us discretion in proceeding with caution in the upcoming weeks. By your continued prayers, they hope that this gradual increase in our sacramental life will not require any reversal of the positive trends that we have recently observed.

As you know, the situation in Los Angeles county is different than in other places. Therefore, with pastoral discretion, here is how we will implement His Eminence’s instructions at St Michael’s:

Liturgy Online

  • Saturday Vespers, Sunday Lauds, and Sunday Mass will continue to be live streamed as before. (Other services will not be live streamed except for Ascension Day.)

Receiving Holy Communion

  • Laity may receive communion in family groups after the Mass by registering in advance. To register, you must contact Fr John the day before, and he will assign your family group a time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (A “family group” consists of those who live in the same dwelling.)
  • All who attend must wear a face covering, except at the moment when Holy Communion is received. (“The celebrant should not wear a face covering while serving.”)
  • Holy Communion will be offered in the usual manner. For your safety, Fr John will clean his fingers and hands frequently when giving communion.
  • Before receiving Holy Communion, prepare yourself by saying at least Psalm 42 [41], 84 [83], and 122 [121]. For your convenience, these Psalms, with other prayers before Communion, are attached.
  • Those experiencing cold or flu symptoms (fever, coughing, fatigue, etc.), the elderly, and any at-risk persons should remain at home, and may contact Fr John for an individual appointment to receive Confession and Holy Communion.
  • Before your scheduled time, please remain in your car and maintain appropriate physical distancing, wearing a face covering, if you interact with anyone outside your family group.
  • After receiving communion, please depart in the prescribed pattern and in a timely manner so that the next family group may enter.

Private Confession

  • Given the inability to confess during Lent and the long absence from Communion, as well as anxiety, fear, despair, and other passions we have all felt during this pandemic, you are encouraged to come to the Sacrament of Penance (Private Confession) before receiving the Eucharist.
  • Confession will be available by appointment on weekdays and Saturdays.
  • Physical distancing between Fr John and the penitent will be observed; and the absolution will be spoken from a distance without placing a hand on the penitent’s head.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Before May 15, the entire facility will be professionally deep-cleaned and sanitized for your safety.
  • When you arrive, we ask that you refrain from touching the pews, door handles, or other items (except the top of the communion rail, which will be sanitized between each person).
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in the Narthex. Because supplies are short, we ask that you consider bringing your own for personal use.
  • Please observe all posted signs which encourage good hygiene practices.

Other Gatherings

  • The church and parish hall are closed for all non-liturgical functions. All Bible studies, Didache, catechetical instruction, organizational meetings, and various groups will continue to meet online (i.e., via Zoom).
  • Beginning May 18, by appointment only the church will be open during the week for private prayer and lighting candles. Fr John will be available during this time to lead a devotion or meet with you, following the safe procedures in effect in our county. If you come during these times, please limit your contact with furniture, pews, etc. and follow posted signs when you make use of this opportunity.
  • Mass will be celebrated daily (see schedule below) and family groups may register to receive communion after the Mass on any of those days. To register, you must contact Fr John the day before who will assign your family group a time.
    • Mondays: 7 p.m.
    • Tuesdays: 9 a.m.
    • Wednesdays: 9 a.m.
    • Thursdays: 9 a.m.
    • Fridays: 7 p.m.
    • Saturdays: 9 a.m.

Finally, His Eminence made it clear that our Archdiocese is partnering with other Orthodox bishops as well as Catholic bishops and Protestant leaders to petition our State Government and Governor to certify in clear terms that clergy as “essential workers” and worship as “essential.”

Your patience, understanding, care for others, and most especially prayers for our state and nation during this pandemic health crisis are appreciated and welcome. And, by the prayers of the Holy Archangel Michael, may our parish family be guarded and protected from all harm.

Your spiritual father in Christ,

Rev Msgr John W Fenton

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Watching Our Live-Stream Mass in 2020

Be assured of my prayers, and that each one of you is close to my heart while we adjust to our temporary living and work situation.

In his latest directive, Metropolitan Joseph has required all parishes in California (and other states like New York) to celebrate Mass (Divine Liturgy) on Sunday, together with Lauds (Orthros). However, only three persons may be present during these services: the priest, one server, and one chanter.

His Eminence also encourages all parishes to live-stream the liturgical services so that people may pray together, albeit imperfectly, in their homes while they follow the directives of the government.

We live-streamed last night’s prayers, and will do the same tomorrow morning from 9 a.m. until the end of Mass. (The Mass will begin at 10 a.m.).

Here is the link: https://stmichaelwhittier.org/parish-site/videos.

This link automatically takes you to our Facebook page. You don’t need a Facebook account to watch the services; however, you may need to expand the picture. We have learned that this will work much better on a computer than on a phone.


It is really hard, and unreal, to participate in the Mass by watching it on a device in your home. It’s easy to get distracted, to get up and get something, or to do several things at once. I urge you to resist these temptations as you watch.

Here are practical tips to get the most out of the live-streamed Mass:

  • Before 9 a.m., place your device (phone, television, computer, tablet) on or near your icon corner; OR, surround your device with one or more icons.
  • Turn off all possible distractions (phone, notifications, oven, alarms, etc.)
  • Like you do before church, take care of all personal needs beforehand.
  • Dress like you would for a regular Sunday Mass. (Casual clothes may encourage a casual, non-prayerful attitude.)
  • Follow your regular pattern for maintaining the Eucharistic fast, refraining from food, coffee, etc. until after the Mass.
  • Print the attached service booklets and have them in hand.
  • Follow along during the services, and sing/speak along with us, in whatever way you normally would do during the Mass.
  • As you are able, stand, sit, and kneel as you normally would do during the Mass.
  • Finally, resist the urge to offer any comments online until after the Mass is over.

In short, I encourage you to make these few hours a time of sincere devotion and worship.

These are strange days, but they can be a blessing if we use them rightly:

  • By spending some of our “shelter time” in prayer and spiritual reading
  • By caring for each other and those in need in whatever way we can (even by simply making a phone call)
  • By entering more deeply into the fast itself

Again, please be assured of my prayers.

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Annual Lenten Retreat 2020

To aid your Lenten Fast with prayer and meditation, the Society of St Benedict of St Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church will host the V Rev Patrick Cardine on Saturday, March 14, for a day-long Lenten Retreat.

Fr Patrick will present three meditations on the theme “Discovering Stability in Community.” Fr Patrick is the Pastor of St Patrick Orthodox Church in Bealeton VA.

His meditations will be will surrounded by prayer and Liturgy, silence for reflection and private prayer, and opportunities for confession.

The retreat begins with First Hour (Prime) prayers at 9 a.m. and concludes by 3 p.m. with Ninth Hour (None) prayers.

Fast friendly meals will be provided; however, child care is not offered. St Michael Church is located at 3333 Workman Mill Road, Whittier CA 90601.

Please RSVP by sending an email to St Michael Church (stmichaelwhittier@gmail.com) or by telephoning the parish office (562.692.6121).

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Advent Retreat 2019

The Society of St Benedict will host the annual Advent Retreat on December 14 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Very Reverend Patrick Henry Reardon from All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago will offer three meditations during the retreat.

Fr Patrick is known for his podcasts and sermons on Ancient Faith Radio, and for his many books on the Saints, the Atonement, and the Scriptures. He is also known for his work with the Fellowship of St James.

In the pattern of a Benedictine retreat, Fr Patrick’s meditations will be surrounded by prayer and quiet meditation. The minor hours from the Monastic Breviary (prime, terce, sext, none) will be prayed and Mass (Divine Liturgy) will be celebrated. Generous time will also be allotted for quiet contemplation on the meditations.

This retreat is primarily for you—to help remove you, for at least a few hours, from the many distractions in December so that you can focus on the gift of Our Lord in our flesh.

The retreat begins with Prime at 9 a.m. and concludes by 3 p.m. with None and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Please RSVP by email (StMichaelWhittier@gmail.com) or telephone (562.692.6121).

There is no cost and meals are provided. Donations are gratefully accepted.

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Lessons & Carols 2019

Christmas Lessons & Carols will be held on Saturday, 21 December beginning at 6 p.m. This service features 9 Scripture readings concerning Our Lord’s Nativity interspersed with special choral selections and congregational hymns.

A special choir of parishioners and friends of St Michael will be accompanied by a string quartet and conducted by Nathan Fratzke, a USC PhD choral conductor candidate, and Sbdn Ian Abodeely at the organ.

All are welcome to join us for this service of prayer and song, preparing us to celebrate with great joy Our Lord’s holy Birth.

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The Feast of Saint Michael 2019

The celebration of the Patronal Feast will commence with Vespers on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 6 p.m. Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, September 29, 2019, at 10 a.m.

His Grace, Bishop JOHN, will preside at all of these
services, and will be our Guest of Honor at the Patronal Banquet.

Buy Patronal Feast Tickets

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