Icon of St.Vladimir, Prince of Kiev

St.Vladimir Orthodox Church

3163 Purcell's Cove Road, Halifax, NS

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February 28, 2021

This is the 38th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 5, Sunday of the Prodigal Son

Saturday, February 27 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, February 28 at 10am - Liturgy

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Gospel: St. Luke 15:11-32

Reminders: During the Covid restrictions we are allowing Communions at the back door, which will be opened at Communion time. I'm assuming that those making use of this, will have read this Sunday's Epistle and Gospel (see above) ahead of time.

Don't be frightened by the word "Xerophagy" which is the word describing the fasting we do on Wednesdays and Fridays and all of the days in Great Lent, except for certain feast days. It means "Dry Eating". I'll share a download from the Internet with you: On weekdays (Monday thru Friday), beginning with Clean Monday, a strict fast is observed without wine and oil. Furthermore on Wednesdays and Fridays, according to one's strength, unprocessed foods are consumed, (such as fruit and nuts). This is called Xerophagy or "dry-eating". The first week of the Great Fast, Clean Week is kept as strictly as possible. On Saturdays and Sundays, the partaking of wine and oil is allowed. On the Feast Day of the Annunciation of the Theotokos (25th of March) fish is allowed. The week after Palm Sunday, Holy Week is kept as strictly as possible. Holy Friday especially, if possible, is kept with total abstinence from food until after the Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday when bread and wine are blessed for consumption in the church. As the Lord said to the Pharisees: "The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast" (Matt. 9:15) (Lenten Triodion in English pp. 611, 660). During all these days, an effort should be made to eat once a day in the evening, if possible. This is the ancient practice of the Holy fathers, if and when they ate at all during Great Lent or Holy Week.

I'll also point out an important condition in this statement "according to one's strength". People who are on medications and children may not fast. Remember, fasting is for us to come closer to God, it is not a torture. We observe what we are able and thank God for what we can achieve.

I was contacted by a Romanian priest in Scotland, Father Christopher. He asked to use a sermon from our website. We have continued to correspond from time to time and discovered many things we have in common, for example, his being at Durham University, as I was; his being a teacher as I was. I asked him to send photographs of him and his people, and he did. I thought I would share them with you so you could pray for this small community.

From Father Christopher's note: "We had Saint Columba's well just a few miles away which never ever froze or ran dry. Our church was dedicated to Saint Columba's abbott: Saint Finnan; who lived on an island in the loch near to our home." May God bless them.

Lenten Recipes are coming in. Thank you to everyone who has supplied simple and easy recipes for our use. There are some really interesting ones which will contrast my Baked Beans on Toast recipe which is simply Baked beans on Toast, and my bread with, for me Crunchy Peanut Butter (no additives) with Banana, both delicious and filling. At a push one could always put Hummus onto a plain or toasted Bagel. I think we should be careful not to be too searching about ingredients. I used to ask restaurants if their vegetable soup was made with chicken stock. I think that is going a little too far. I seldom look at ingredients now, unless it is for health reasons.

During this week, Father Alexander and I will meet and make a plan for the services we intend to serve during Lent and Pascha. The Military Padre, Peter who comes to Vespers from time to time, has suggested that we hold our Pascha night service in one of the military chapels. Subdeacon David and I went to view the church which would be ideal for us but way too far away for the comfort of our parishioner. That really is too bad. I could see us serving a wonderful Paschal Liturgy there; thank you Padre Peter for suggesting that chapel, and taking us to see it. I want to again make sure that the people who do things for the parish know that they are appreciated greatly. To that end I would like all the Parish Council members to please be at Liturgy this Sunday - we must have an induction ceremony which will take place before the blessing at the end of the Liturgy.

Following the Liturgy, Catechumens may remain behind and any question could be asked and hopefully answered. This is a continuation of sessions that became dislodged over the Christmas celebrations. The men's group will be meeting at my apartment after the Liturgy on March 7th; talk to Spyridon if you wish to be included. I expect they want to organize another meeting with a fire and hotdogs (vegetarian ones!). A Parish Council meeting, I believe, is on March 11th at 7pm, undisclosed venue but likely at my apartment.

Prosphora: I notice that the recipe on the St. Vladimir website contains sugar and I remember Archbishop Irйnйe explaining with some force, that we never put sugar in Prosphora. It will rise quite well without it. Flour, Salt, Yeast, and warm Water is all it takes; the flour itself contains enough sugar for the yeast to feed on.

May God bless us and protect us, and enfold us in His loving arms.
Love in Christ,

-- Father David

Civic Calendar with Service Schedule

Year 2021
 Mon  Tue  Wed  Thu  Fri  Sat  Sun 
Vespers 6:00pm
Hours, Liturgy 10:00am
Vespers 6:00pm
Hours, Liturgy 10:00am

Vespers, Litia 6:00pm
Meeting of the Lord
Vespers 6:00pm
Hours, Liturgy 10:00am
Vespers 6:00pm
Hours, Liturgy 10:00am

Sundays and major feasts are in red. Fast days are shaded.

February 21, 2021

This is the 37th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 4, Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

Saturday, February 20 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, February 21 at 10am - Liturgy

Epistle: 2 Timothy 3:10-15
Gospel: St. Luke 18:10-14

Reminders: During the Covid restrictions we are allowing Communions at the back door, which will be opened at Communion time. I'm assuming that those making use of this, will have read this Sunday's Epistle and Gospel (see above) ahead of time.

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. That means this coming week is the Fast Free Week. There is more to this than just being able to eat meat on Wednesday and Friday, it is a reminder that fasting from meat is just around the corner and that we should be looking through our freezers and refrigerators to discover all the meat we have stored away, consume it so we can start afresh for Pascha. If you look on your calendars, you will see that Meatfare Sunday is March 7th (after Meatfare we don't eat meat again until Pascha).

I have asked for simple recipes to help jus through the Lenten fast but have received only four so far. Please send your favorite Lenten Recipes. They will help all of us. I shall include them in the bulletin before the fast begins - all of them! I hope that will be a long bulletin.

You will have heard that there was a note from Mary Pemberton asking for prayers for her husband Will who was in intense pain. I have asked for updates so will include anything Mary sends, at the end of this bulletin. Please pray.

We are slowly switching all the light bulbs in the church to LEDs. This means that the use of electricity will go down significantly. Four new bulbs in a chandelier will use less electricity than one of the previous bulbs. All in all, we might be able to use the microwave and the kettle at the same time, and have light in the church.

The sign indicating where the driveway is on Purcell's Cove Road fell down or at least I found it leaning against the church door. I expect Richard our next door neighbour found it; he also put lots of sand on the driveway so we could get up that steep slope for Vespers and Liturgy; thank you Richard. We owe him sand and more, for example, without his kind permission, we would have no access to water; he and his family kindly allow to take water from their outside tap.

Spyridon has been cleaning the brass candle holders in the altar. That is a good piece of work. Thank you for noticing, and doing that fussy job. I think he has been cleaning the woodwork beneath the altar table as well.

Can you believe, it is going to snow again just in time to give us the problem of getting up the steep driveway for Saturday Vespers and Sunday Liturgy. I hope we have lots of sand.

May God bless us all and protect us,

Love in Christ,

-- Father David

PS Mary says that Will has to go for a scan, we look forward to hearing the results. May God bless all of our families, but especially the Pemberton family at this time.

PPS Don't forget the recipes.

PPPS This is a fast-free week!

February 14, 2021

This is the 36th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 3, Zaccheus Sunday

Saturday, February 13 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, February 14 at 10am - Liturgy
Sunday, February 14 at 6pm - Vespers and Litya - The Meeting of the Lord

Epistle: 1 Timothy 4:9-15
Gospel: St. Luke 19:1-10

Reminders: During the Covid restrictions we are allowing Communions at the back door, which will be opened at Communion time. I'm assuming that those making use of this, will have read this Sunday's Epistle and Gospel (see above) ahead of time.

The usual time for House Blessings is almost over. I am concerned that houses are not being blessed so please take some Holy Water and sprinkle throughout your home and say or sing the Troparion for Theophany: When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan the worship of the Trinity was made manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to You and called You His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ our God, You have revealed Yourself and have enlightened the world, glory to You.

As regards the Lenten recipes I suggested we collect, I did receive some from a friend of mine in Edmonton, Professor Hani Henein, who sent Egyptian recipes. They are in the folder for you to copy along with a recipe for Vegan African Peanut Stew. Thank you Hani. So far that is all. Never too late, please forward recipes to me, they help to inspire us to be Lenten but also healthy in our eating. Who knows we may all lose weight during Lent this year although that must never be the reason for adjusting our eating during fasting times. Fasting is to do with concentrating on spiritual matters and not the body.

There is a fast free week coming up. Look on your calendars and enjoy it before the increasing austerity of the weeks following that.

I went to the church on Tuesday. The driveway had been mostly cleared of snow but there was significant ice remaining. I got half way up and had to stop. My tyres, have the snowflake emblem on the sides, but did not have protection against slick ice. Fortunately Richard from next door came with some sand, and that provided enough traction. Help also came from a gentleman from across the street. I think we'll have to get sand to sprinkle over the driveway. I shall ask Colin to look in to that.

Please pray for Christina a person who contacted Father Maximus first, who suggested she contact me. She lives too far away to get to us, but she will eventually. Please also pray for the parish and the Catechumens: Jeff and Seamus, the Jefferson family, Cameron, Carol-Ann, and Victor.

If you would like to learn how to make and seal Prosphora, please let Heather Decaire know. We really are looking for help. It is not difficult - how do I know that? I occasionally have had to make it myself and have been quite successful. I usually make the five breads for Lityas (don't forget Sunday at 6pm) and for Soul Saturdays. I have ordered two extra Prosphora seals and will order more if necessary.

May God bless us all and protect us,

With thanks to the people who help and support the parish in so many ways, by their prayers and constancy Sunday by Sunday, and day by day.

Love in Christ,

-- Father David

PS Saint Valentinus was a real 4th Century saint who was martyred in Rome. The internet will furnish the details of his martyrdom and why he became associated with romance, hearts, and love on February 14th in the Western Church - Orthodox celebrate him on July 6th. Saint Valentinus pray to God for us.

February 6, 2021

This is the 35th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 2, Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia

Saturday, February 6 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, February 7 at 10am - Liturgy

Epistle: 1 Timothy 1:15-17
Gospel: St. Luke 18:35-43

Readings for the Saints
Epistle: Romans 8:28-39
Gospel: St. Luke 21:12-19

Reminders: During the Covid restrictions we are allowing Communions at the back door, which will be opened at Communion time. I'm assuming that those making use of this, will have read this Sunday's Epistle and Gospel (see above) ahead of time.

Next Sunday is Zaccheus Sunday and the start of our looking towards the beginning of Great Lent. Meat-fare is March 7th and Cheese-fare the following Sunday which is also Forgiveness Sunday, that's March 14th. Great Lent starts on March 15th. During Great Lent there are certain Saturdays which are designed for the Commemoration of the Departed. I would like us to observe these Saturdays with a Liturgy, if at all possible. Please use the forms provide on the candle stand to list your relatives and friends. For these celebrations, we can celebrate Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike so please complete the forms in preparation for this. "Be Prepared", as the Scout and Guide Motto went.

I have finally worked out how to change the format of photos on my mobile phone. Suddenly, probably as a result on an automatic upgrade, the photos on my phone became HEIC files instead of JPEG files. Searching the internet, I found a free conversion programme so I downloaded it and can again add photos to bulletins (makes bulletins much less boring).

Here is the photo of Kevin and Dorothea, formerly known as Jeff and Krystal.

Recently we have added a new altar boy. I don't know if you have noticed but Alexy, the son of Father Alexander and Matushka Ksenia has been learning the altar ropes from David, Spyridon, and Augustine; a very good addition to the altar.

While polishing my shoes and thinking about this bulletin, and slow cooking some Lamb Shanks for the weekend, I started thinking about Great Lent and that numbers of us have come into the Orthodox Church from other places where the type of fasting that is usual in the Orthodox tradition, is not familiar. We know that we stop eating meat, and then all dairy products, plus eggs, but sometimes we find that Lenten recipes are complicated and a bother to think about. Personally I usually fall back on two pieces of bread with peanut butter in between, sometimes with jam or banana squashed onto it. So, I thought I could start a file of really simple recipes for meals; things that you have found that at a push are easy and take little time or effort to make. Let's do this, and gather some easy recipes and ideas together, and make a file. There are Lenten recipe books available, I know, and the Internet has lots of vegan stuff on line, but some of it is complicated with unfamiliar ingredients. I am suggesting this way before the Great Lent begins so we have time to get it together. It will be a help to me, and I hope to others as well.

Why is it that on a photo of Vladimir reading his mouth is closed. A photo of me and my mouth would be open; I must close my mouth more.

May God bless you all
Love in Christ,

-- Father David

January 29, 2021

This is the 34th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 1

Saturday, January 30 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, January 31 at 10am - Liturgy

Epistle: Colossians 3:12-16
Gospel: St. Luke 18:18-27

Reminders: During the Covid restrictions we are allowing Communions at the back door, which will be opened at Communion time. I'm assuming that those making use of this, will have read this Sunday's Epistle and Gospel (see above) ahead of time.

This is not a long bulletin this week. We had a rather full week with Theophany and the blessing of the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike last year, this latter was accomplished with quite a crowd of us gathered to sing and witness the blessing. Let's hope that the fish, other creatures, and all who work on or in the water are blessed.

From now on, any official church group meeting must have the endorsement of one of the parish clergy. If you should meet in an informal manner, for example, a hike or around a bonfire etc., it must be clearly stated at that meeting that it is not an official church gathering and that the opinions stated are those of the individual, and not of the group, nor of the parish and not of any part of the Orthodox Church. Please do not ask me about this. I will not comment.

The baptism went well. It was sort of an experiment to see if we could bring warm water and baptize more than one person at a time. It worked. The water, I understand was lovely and warm and we baptized two people: Jeff who became Kevin, and Krystal who became Dorothea. The next scheduled baptism will be a wonderful time with the Jefferson family plus Cameron and Carol-Ann, plus Jeff and Seamus. This will be the day before Pascha, so May 1st since Pascha is May 2nd this year. I'm really looking forward to it. Father Alexander and I will be soaked to the skin as well, I think.

You have the prayers to help those with, or working to protect people with Covid, and you have the formula for donating to the Parish, thus the Church.

May God Bless us all,
May He encourage us to obey the distancing and Mask Rules,
May He encourage us to remind each other to distance, wear a mask, cleanse our hands, and sign in at the door,
May He protect us all as we go about our daily chores and work,
And may He Protect us,

Love in Christ,
-- Father David

January 23, 2021

This is the 33th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 8

Saturday, January 23 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, January 24 at 10am - Liturgy

Epistle: Ephesians 4:7-13
Gospel: St. Matthew 4:12-17

Reminders: During the Covid restrictions we are allowing Communions at the back door which will be opened at Communion time.

Saturday January 30th is the feast of St. Anthony the Great on our calendar. I did greet Father Maximos on the New Calendar feast day, when they observe their Patronal Festival.

This has already been a busy week. Monday evening the Eve of Theophany, we served Vespers followed by the Great Blessing of Water. A beautiful service thanks to Father Alexander and the choir, as usual led by Vladimir/Ryan. A wonderful crowd of parish faithful attended and of course Holy Water was sprinkled copiously and taken home for blessings.

I was asked to bless a home on Wednesday evening - such a simple and short service; it was lovely, Each room is sprinkled with Holy Water as the priest and family sing the Troparion printed in last week's bulletin. The priest really does not look at the state of your home. If you don't have time to tidy, it doesn't matter, the priest doesn't go telling everyone that this or that person's home was tidy or untidy. The blessing though is important. Please contact either Father Alexander or me to arrange times for House Blessings.

Sunday morning two special things will happen: the Baptism of Krystal and Jeff, and the blessing of the Atlantic Ocean. The Baptism will take place during the Liturgy. The blessings of the Baptismal Water will take place during the reading of the Hours. The entry of the Gospel will be extended to include the Font and the Baptism itself. May God bless all of the Catechumens.

May God bless us all
And keep us in His love.

-- Father David

January 15, 2021

This is the 32th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 7, Sunday before the Theophany; Synaxis of the Seventy Apostle

Saturday, January 16 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, January 17 at 10am - Liturgy

Epistle: 2 Timothy 4:5-8
Gospel: St. Mark 1:1-8

Reminders: During the Covid restrictions we are allowing Communions at the back door which will be opened at Communion time.

Tuesday January 19th is Theophany so Monday evening January 18th at 6:30pm Great Vespers with the Great Blessing of Water. Make sure you bring containers so you can take Holy Water home.

January 20th: Synaxis of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

Sunday January 24th: Holy Baptism and First Communion of Jeff and Krystal Frellick. Plus the blessing of the Atlantic Ocean after liturgy.

Calendars (English and English/Russian Version) are available at the candle stand and are valued at $12. This is a voluntary contribution towards the cost of the calendars. Please put the money in an envelope and mark it "Calendars".

There are several things I want to bring to your attention. The first is something that does not seem to happen in this parish and which should. I noticed last year that I was not asked to bless any homes. It is the custom within most Orthodox communities that the faithful have their homes blessed every year, and this takes place in association with the Theophany feast. I commend this practice to you and would like you to consider this in terms of your own home and having it blessed. We simply go around your home sprinkling it with Holy Water, which has been newly blessed at Theophany, and with lighted candles singing or saying the Theophany Troparion: When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan the worship of the Trinity was made manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to You and called You His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ our God, You have revealed Yourself and have enlightened the world, glory to You. Please take this to heart. It is important that where you live day by day be filled with the Holy Spirit and the love and light of Christ. We shall bless the Atlantic Ocean as well.

I noticed that there were members of the parish missing for the Christmas liturgy at St. Antonios Church and I am wondering why that would be so? It could be that people were working that evening so couldn't come; it could be that being on the Julian (old) Calendar and the next morning being a work day, people didn't feel they wanted to be tired that next day. I asked for the use of St. Antonios, after remembering the stream of our people and others coming for Communion a year ago. It is important that we receive Communion on the great feasts of the Church, so I ask you to make sure you are prepared, and come for that purpose. Almost all of the Catechumens were present at St. Antonios, including those who travelled from Antigonish and Goshen. May God bless them.

I presented Father Maximos with a bottle of Champagne Cognac as a token; thanking him for allowing us to use his church for our Christmas Liturgy. He is always gracious and generous towards us.

It reminds me, what shall we do this year for Pascha? We can't fit everybody into our church if the Covid restrictions are still in force, and we can't ask to use another church since all Orthodox serve Pascha at the same time. Speaking to Father Maximos about this, he may have to ask permission to serve two Paschal Liturgies as it is; I may have to make the same request. We can pray that the weather on May 1st and 2nd be sunny and warm so we can serve the night liturgy outside, it's not an unreasonable prayer request, but we should start praying now. (It's unlikely there will be sun during the night Liturgy . that would take an awful lot of prayer! but perhaps not impossible.)

My Dear Friends, May God give us the courage to do His will, and may He bless us all,

In the Love of Christ,

-- Father David

January 8, 2021

This is the 31th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 6, Sunday after the Nativity

Saturday, January 9 at 6pm - Vespers
Sunday, January 10 at 10am - Liturgy

Epistle: Galatians 1:11-19
Gospel: St. Matthew 2: 13-23


Here it is Friday morning, the bulletin not yet written when it is usually well under way at the beginning of the week. The nervous energy leading up to the liturgy at St. Antonios Church was quite draining and somehow the bulletin went right out of my head as did several other things. I thank God that we have Father Alexander who makes sure I have what I need. Thank you again Father Maximos for allowing us to use St. Antonios Church for what was a wonderful Christmas Liturgy; the choir sang and chanted beautifully; the three altar servers helped the service run smoothly, thank you to all. Thanks to Augustine who provided Jeff and Seamus with a place to stay so they didn't have to drive back to Antigonish after the service. Trevor and his family did travel back to Goshen after the liturgy and arrived home safely. It was good to see so many at the service. I know there are photographs because I saw Alina taking them. When I get them, I'll include some in the bulletin. Please pray for the parish and for the Catechumens most of whom were able to get to the Christmas Liturgy and receive a blessing - Glory to God.

May He who was Born in a Stable Bless each of us,

Love in Christ,

-- Father David

January 2, 2021

This is the 30th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 5, Nativity Fast

Saturday, January 2 at 6pm - Vespers (Lots of Confessions)
Sunday, January 3 at 10am - Liturgy (Lots of Confessions)
Wednesday, January 6 at 9pm - Matins followed by Liturgy at St.Antonios church (2480 Windsor Street, Halifax)


I have rethought the three Christmas Liturgies I mentioned. Now that we are able to have people back in church it is really important that we Gather Together so we shall all celebrate at one Liturgy at St. Antonios, at a great Christmas Night Liturgy (thank you Father Maximos). Please come - it is the parish, the people of God celebrating the Birth of Christ - TOGETHER.


  1. Nativity Fast Ends on Wednesday January 6th, then a Fast Free Week.
  2. This Saturday/Sunday, January 2nd/3rd is Confession time, Father Alexander will be available during Vespers 6pm and Liturgy 10am and I'll be available before or after Vespers. Please don't wait for the last minute.
  3. Confessions can also be made by appointment or over the telephone. I want us all to receive Communion.

How to e-transfer money to the church account. To send, follow these easy-to-use instructions:

  • Log into your online or mobile banking app
  • Find and select the option 'Send an Interac e-Transfer.'
  • On the next screen, select an option 'Interac e-Transfer Recipient.'
  • Insert the name and the email address halifaxorthodox@gmail.com
  • Insert donation amount

Prayer for protection against the Covid virus: please use it:

O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in thine ineffable goodness, look down upon thy people gathered in thy name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. Thou knowest our weakness. Thou hearest our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind deliver us from the impending threat of the Corona Virus. Send thine angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians, and preserve those who are healthy that we may continue to serve thee in peace and glorify thy most honourable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Боже Вседержителю, Господи небесе и земли, всея твари, видимыя же и невидимыя, по неизреченной благости Твоея призри на люди Твоя, к Тебе притекающия. Буди нам Помощник и Защититель в сей день скорби. Веси бо немощи наша, слышиши глас покаяния и умиления сердечнаго. Господи Человеколюбче, избави нас от напасти коронавируса на ны движимыя. Ниспосли ангела Твоего призирати на ны и избавити ны. Страждущим от болезни здравие и исцеление подаждь. Руки врачующих направи. Здравых в здравии сохрани, да в мире поработают Ти и да прославят пресвятое и великополепое имя Твое, Отца и Сына и Святаго Духа, ныне и присно, и во веки веков, аминь.

Last Saturday, Father Alexander served a Panikhida for Victoria, the mother of Leslee. Victoria was 100 years old when she fell asleep in Winnipeg. It is a blessing that Leslee was able to visit her in the autumn. We pray for Leslee and her family at this time. Just think what the world was like when Victoria was born in 1920, and all that happened during her lifetime.

Father David Remembers Christmas

I'm sitting here on December 25th, Christmas Day for most of the world and I am thinking back to the Christmases I knew as a boy. I was fortunate in that after the war, my father was posted to a military base in rural Dorset. We lived on the edge of moorland and a forest. We were about a kilometer and a half from where T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) lived and was killed. We were fortunate to live there because everything about Christmas was real; the fir trees were covered in Ivy and the Holly bushes had real red berries. Christmas trees were growing in the woods and were not given to the garbage collectors on Boxing Day. Real socks were hung at the end of the bed to be replaced by Father Christmas with a pillow case full of wonders. Christmas lights didn't work if one of the bulbs burned out and the tinsel was made of real metal. Postmen actually delivered cards and presents from distant relatives and the smell of the roasting goose or turkey prepared one for the sumptuous dinner that was to follow. While mother was preparing that, we boys went up the hill, through the woods to the church. On the way we played in the woods but arrived in time since we were part of the choir. Perhaps cutting it fine, one of the older girls, and I remember her well, scrambled to find each of us a cassock, ruff and surplice; then the procession around the wooden church to the main door of the nave for the procession, singing one of the beautiful Christmas Carols; probably Once in Royal David's City.

We ran home anticipating the feast, and we would not be disappointed. There might be chicken, or goose, or turkey with lots of gravy. There would always be Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Roast Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Swede; a feast indeed. But that was not all. There was the Christmas Pudding, the Mince Pies, the Custard. I remember all this because it was all homemade; it was real. There was nothing artificial about it at all. The meat came from the butcher shop, the vegetables from the greengrocers and the various fruits and fats from the grocers where you were served by someone wearing an apron. Stuff was weighed and wrapped in paper. We hadn't even heard of plastic bags in those days. Stuff was carried in shopping baskets made of woven branches or grasses, or cloth. It was real.

At tea time there was usually Bread and Butter, and Trifle and more mince pies. One had to eat the bread and butter before one was allowed to eat anything sweet. In those days children did not have a choice, you did what you were told, or else; some of us well remember those days and the "or elses."

Then there was the King's Christmas Message, later of course, the Queen's Message. The evening was quieter and children were sent early to bed on Christmas Day; not unreasonable since we had awakened early, anticipating the wonderful things left by Father Christmas.

Then Boxing Day. This was children's day; the only day we were allowed to stay up until we wanted to go to bed and there was no restriction on the number of sweets and goodies we could eat. That is where we learned to be careful with the amount of chocolate one should eat at one time. Well, some of us learned.

But you see, it was all real. I look around now and I see that the world has made Christmas plastic, artificial, and fake. Christmas Carols are used now to encourage us to buy stuff, animals are fed to make them fat, eggs are produced in goodness only knows what kind of conditions.

Can we have Christmases like that again? I don't know. It will be up to the children of today who will have to examine the world they will live in and ask themselves: "Is it satisfactory?" My answer at the moment would be a definite "No!" The world I live in at the moment is selfish and deceitful. The question again is: Will it continue to be? And for how long? How long before the Lord decides to wrap it all up?

I don't despair though, and I have hope. I look at the beautiful children who bless this parish of St. Vladimir Prince of Kiev in Halifax, and there are those of us who remember and who hold on to the Truths. Christmas is a marvelous feast. We shall each fill it with what it is meant to be, the Birth of the Son of God, Real not plastic or fake - His taking Flesh of the Most Holy Theotokos, becoming Man, just like us. He knows what we are about. Don't get tied up with "Season's Greetings," It's "Merry Christmas" - the Birth of Christ - "Christ is Born!" So Let us Glorify Him.

May God Bless each and every one of us. Merry Christmas!

From Father David, Father Alexander, the choir and Altar servers, and the Parish Council