Patron Saint Troparion
Saint John Orthodox Church

The memory of the righteous is celebrated with songs of praise, but the Lord's testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. Thou wast shown indeed to be the most honorable of the prophets, for in the waters thou didst baptize him who had been proclaimed. After suffering in behalf of the truth, thou didst proclaim even to those in Hades the God who appeared in the flesh, who takes away the sin of the world and grants us the Great Mercy.


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Pastor's Message

Welcome to the official website of St. John Orthodox Church of Levittown NY. We intend to make it an educational tool to all who seek to use it. This website can be used for information on our church. We are located on a spacious private property with our own parking lot on 80 Water Lane North in Levittown, NY. Our Sunday Divine Liturgy begins at 10:30 AM. All are welcome.

- Pastor


CHURCH SACRAMENTS


St John Church

Orthodox Catechism Manuals state that the Church recognizes Seven Mysteries, or Sacraments: Baptism, Chrismation, Communion, Confession, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Holy Unction (i.e. Anointing of the Sick). It should be noted, however, that neither the Priestly Liturgical Book (called Euchologion, i.e. Prayer Book) which contains the texts of the Sacraments, nor the Holy Tradition of the Church, do formally place a limit on the number of Sacraments; they do not clearly distinguish between the Sacraments, and Holy Services, such as: the Blessing of Water on Holy Theophany (January 6), or the Burial Service (Funeral) or the Tonsure Service for monastics. In fact, no Council recognized by the Orthodox Church ever defined the number of sacraments; it is only through the “Orthodox Confessions” of the 17th century, directed against the Reformation, that the number seven has been generally accepted. The underlying sacramental theology of the Orthodox Church is based, however, on the notion that the ecclesiastical community is the unique mystery in which the various Sacraments or other Holy Services are the normal expressions.

In the Latin West, since the Scholastic Period (i.e. the Middle Ages) and, especially, since the Catholic Reformation (16th century), much emphasis has been placed on the vicarious juridical power of the minister to administer the sacraments validly. The Orthodox East, however, interprets each Sacramental Service as a prayer of the entire ecclesiastical community, led by the Bishop or his representative (i.e. the Priest), and also as a response of God, based upon Christ's promise to send the Holy Spirit upon the Church. These two aspects of the Sacraments exclude both magic and legalism: They imply that the Holy Spirit is given to free men and call for their responses. In the Mystery of the Church, the participation of men in God is effected through their synergy (i.e. co-operation). The Sacraments are our means of experiencing salvation in this life and they grant us a taste of Eternal Life, the Life-to-Come.

BAPTISM
In the Great Commission, the Lord Jesus instructed His Apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Amen (Matthew 28:18-20). Baptism is the Sacrament by which those immersed into water in the Name of the Holy Trinity are reborn. By this, we are buried in the water and then rise out to put on a new life in Christ Himself. In Baptism, we are washed in Christ, received into a divine relationship and we promise to devote our lives to the service of God. Baptism is normally performed by triple immersion as a sign of the death and Resurrection of Christ. It is immediately followed by Chrismation (called Confirmation in the West), performed by the Priest who anoints the newly baptized Christian with “Holy Chrism” (oil) blessed by the Holy Synod to which the Church belongs. Baptized and Chrismated children are admitted to Holy Communion. By admitting children immediately after their Baptism to both Chrismation and Communion, the Eastern Christian tradition maintains the positive meaning of Baptism, which is, the beginning of a new life nourished by the Eucharist.

The following Guidelines are offered concerning the Sacrament of Baptism at St. John Orthodox Church:

1. Children presented for Baptism should be children of Orthodox parent(s) who practice the Orthodox Faith and are active in parish life.
2. At least one Orthodox Sponsor is required as a guarantor to the Church that the child will be brought up in the Orthodox Faith. The Godparent must be a practicing Orthodox Christian, in that no one can guarantee something that they do not possess.
3. Parents and sponsors should meet with the Priest prior to the celebration of the Sacrament in order to discuss the significance of this Sacrament in their lives and the life of their child.
4. Parents should discuss plans for the Baptism of their child with the Priest prior to making any commitments concerning choosing a sponsor, date and time.

CHRISMATION & Reception of Converts
Children who are baptized Orthodox, as previously explained, receive the Sacrament of Chrismation on the day of their Baptism. Adults who wish to be received into the communion of the Orthodox Church are provided a period of introduction and instruction. Under the guidance of the Priest and with the encouragement of the community, the candidate participates in the worship of the parish and learns the basic teaching of the Orthodox Faith. The candidate is formally received into the life of the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism or by Chrismation, depending: If previously baptized as a Christian in the name of the Holy Trinity and immersion of water, they receive Chrismation, if not, then Baptism.

Through Chrismation, the “Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” is administered with the Holy Chrism to confirm us in the Orthodox Faith. “But you have a Chrism from the Holy One, and you know everything… And as for you, the Chrism which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; but as the same Chrism teaches you concerning things, and is true, and is not a lie, and even as it has taught you, abide in Him” (I John 2:20 & 2:27). An Orthodox Sponsor is required for the reception of converts.

HOLY COMMUNION (The Eucharist)
“Words of Institution”: “This is my Body…,” & “This is my Blood…,” which are traditionally considered in the Latin West as the formula necessary for the validity of the sacrament. In the Orthodox East, however, the culminating point of the prayer is not in the remembrance of Christ's act but in the invocation of the Holy Spirit, which immediately follows: “Send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon the Gifts here spread forth, and make this Bread the precious Body of Thy Christ, amen, and that which is in this Cup the precious Blood of Thy Christ, amen, changing them by Thy Holy Spirit, amen, amen, amen.” Thus, the central mystery of Christianity is seen as being performed by the prayer of the Church and through an invocation of the Holy Spirit. The nature of the mystery that occurs in the bread and wine is signified by the term “change/changing.” The Western term transubstantiation occurs only in some confessions of faith after the 17th century.

The Lord Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:53-56). This is our Holy Communion with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are fed spiritually when we receive the true Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharist is the central mystery of the Church. When we receive the precious Body and Blood of Christ, we become filled with the saving presence of God the Son. The preparation and offering of Holy Communion in the Liturgy is the principal work of the parish.

Orthodox believers prepare for Holy Communion by Prayer and Fasting.

The Eucharistic Fast is observed as part of our preparation to receive Holy Communion. Fasting among Christians is rooted in the example of Christ and His disciples: If Holy Communion is to be received in the morning, then we fast from food and drink from the night before; if Holy Communion is to be received in the evening, then we fast from our noon meal on. Fasting regulations are relaxed for children, the infirm, and the elderly.

CONFESSION
The Sacrament of Confession in the Early Church was a solemn and public act of reconciliation, through which an excommunicated sinner was readmitted into Church membership. It eventually evolved into a private act through which every Christian’s membership in the Church is periodically renewed. In the Orthodox Church today there is a certain variety in both the Practice and the Rite of Confession: In the Churches of the Balkans and the Middle East, it fell into disuse during the four centuries of Turkish occupation but is gradually being restored today. In Greek-speaking Churches only certain Priests, especially appointed by the bishop, have the right to hear confessions. In Russia, confessions remained a standard practice that was generally required before communion.

The Rite of Confession in the Euchologion retains the form of a prayer, or invocation, said by the Priest for the remission of the penitent’s sins. Confession, in Orthodox practice, is generally viewed as a form of spiritual healing rather than as a tribunal. The relative lack of legalism reflects the Eastern Patristic approach to sin, which is, an internal passion and enslavement.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). The Sacrament of Confession allows us to be forgiven for those sins we commit after our Baptism. We cleanse our Baptismal garment through the tears of our repentance. We cannot grow spiritually unless we are aware and penitent of our sinfulness. Sin, in Greek, is translated as “missing the mark.” Therefore, by confessing our sins our aim becomes more direct. Consistent participation in this Sacrament is essential for all Orthodox.

Confession is administered by appointment.

HOLY MATRIMONY (Marriage)
Marriage is celebrated through a Rite of Crowning, performed with great solemnity and signifying an eternal union, leading into the Kingdom of God. Orthodox theology of marriage insists on its Sacramental Eternity rather than its legal indissolubility. Thus, second marriages, in cases of either widowhood or divorce, are celebrated through a subdued penitential rite, with the Dispensation of the Bishop, and men who have been married more than once are not admitted to the Priesthood. Remarriage after divorce is tolerated on the basis of the possibility that the Sacrament of Matrimony was not originally received with the consciousness and responsibility that would have made it fully effective; according to this view, remarriage can be a second chance.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Holy Matrimony is the Sacrament by which two Christians are united as ‘one body’ in the image of Christ’s union with His Holy Church. The Sacrament confirms that love which exists between a man and a woman, in God, by Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

The Sacrament is offered for those Orthodox Christians who actively participate in the life of the Church. All plans for the Wedding must be discussed with the Priest at least six months in advance of a proposed date and before a date is set. There are times during the Liturgical Year that marriage is prohibited. Upon consultation with the Priest, all of these restrictions and rules will be discussed.

HOLY ORDERS
The Orthodox Church recognizes Three Sacramental Orders: the Diaconate (Deacon), the Priesthood, and the Episcopate (bishop). In addition to the Sacramental Orders, there are as well as the Minor Orders of the Reader and the Subdeacon. All ordinations are performed by the Bishop, and, normally, during the Divine Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Consecration of a Bishop requires the participation of at least two or three Bishops, as well as an election and approval of the Canonical Synod.

HOLY UNCTION (Anointing of the Sick)
Anointing of the sick is a Sacrament of healing by prayer, administered to Orthodox Christians. It must be performed once a year, for which cause, it is performed annually in Church for the benefit of the entire congregation on the evening of Holy Wednesday. Ideally, the Euchologion prescribes the presence of Seven Priests to perform the Sacrament, each reading one of the Seven Prayers contained in the service. If this number is not present, one Priest can perform the Sacrament.

In addition to the “usual” administration of this Sacrament on Holy Week, it can be administered by request, due to the condition of physical and spiritual ailment. If so, it nevertheless requires the presence of the entire congregation. There are no “private” Sacraments in the Orthodox Church! Public acts of worship, within which the Sacraments are administered, ensure the presence and participation of the faithful who pray for one another.

HOLY CHURCH SERVICES

BLESSING OF WATER
The Blessing of Water, like the Sacrament of Holy Unction, must take place at least once a year. On the Feast of Holy Theophany (celebrated on January 6), which signifies the Manifestation of the Holy Trinity when the Lord Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Great Blessing of Water takes place in the Church. After the water is blessed, the faithful partake of the Holy Water “for the healing of soul and body.” Thereafter, the Priest visits the homes of the faithful, each year, in order to bless them with Holy Water.

In addition to the Great Blessing of Water on January 6, and at the request of the faithful, the Small Blessing of Water can take place anywhere, and not necessarily in Church: At homes as well as outdoors.

THE RITE OF BURIAL (Funeral)
The Rite of Burial, for the repose of the soul of the faithful departed this life, is administered in the Church (no exceptions) by the Priest and the community, for all Orthodox believers who have practiced the Faith and participated in the life of the Church.

Any person baptized in the Orthodox Church, who has fallen away from the Church by not practicing the Faith, may receive the (Lesser) Funeral Service (at the Discretion of the Priest) as a Christian act of mercy. In the event of someone’s death, the Priest should be notified immediately so that proper arrangements can be made.

 

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