June 2009 letter
On June 7 we will be celebrating the feast of Pentecost, the beginning of the church of the New Testament. As in Leviticus 23, we learn that this feast was a Jewish feast, let us look into its meaning and how it was a symbol of Pentecost:
v It is one of the spring feasts, celebrated 49 days after the feast of the first fruit (which symbolized the resurrection) and that’s why it was named the Pentecost in Greek. The number fifty means forgiveness as in the year of Jubilee. Also, it is called the “feast of weeks” as it comes after seven weeks of resurrection, and seven is perfection; seven times seven is perfection of the perfect.
v It was also called the “harvest feast” (Ex 25: 16) when wheat is harvested.
v The Jews used to present the first two loaves of bread of the new harvest to God where the high priest eats one and the priests share the other. This is called the rite of the two loaves.
v After the exodus, the Jews ate unleavened bread only as a sign of fleeing quickly fromEgypt, now it is leavened bread as a thanksgiving that they are living in a land that God gave them to eat of its wealth.
v The two loaves represent the Jews and gentiles. They have sinned but sin dies as yeast dies in the fire. From these two groups the Church is formed.
v This is a joyous feast unlike the Passover, and Unleavened Bread feast which symbolize the cross and Christ’s suffering.
v God ordered the people “and for the stranger” (Lev. 23: 22). The stranger can also rejoice in this feast, as the gentiles were accepted in the church of the New Testament.
Below are some important celebrations this coming period:
v Sunday, June 7: Pentecost and in the evening the prayer of descent of Holy Spirit.
v Monday, June 8: The start of the Apostle’s fast.
v Tuesday, June 9: Vesper of St. Abraam feast.
v Monday, June 15: Vesper of St. Mercurius’ feast 7:30-9:00 p.m.
v Tuesday, June 16: feast of bringing St. Mercurius’ relics to Egypt. Liturgy 10 a.m -12 p.m.
v Friday, June 19: Archangel Michael’s mass 10 a.m. -12 p.m.
Asking you to keep the church, its priest, servants and all services, in your prayers. May the blessing of Saint Mary, Saint Philopateer Mercurius, and these Holy days be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, May 30, 2009