St. Stephen Orthodox Church
Publish Date: 2019-03-10
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St. Stephen Orthodox Church

General Information

  • Phone:
  • (707)235-0316
  • Street Address:

  • 11055 Hirschfeld Way

  • Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

Contact Information

Services Schedule



Vespers: 4:00pm


Matins: 8:45am

Liturgy: 10:00am

Past Bulletins

Saints and Feasts

March 08

Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna

This apostolic and prophetic man, and model of faith and truth, was a disciple of John the Evangelist, successor of Bucolus (Feb. 6), and teacher of Irenaeus (Aug. 23). He was an old man and full of days when the fifth persecution was raised against the Christians under Marcus Aurelius. When his pursuers, sent by the ruler, found Polycarp, he commanded that they be given something to eat and drink, then asked them to give him an hour to pray; he stood and prayed, full of grace, for two hours, so that his captors repented that they had come against so venerable a man. He was brought by the Proconsul of Smyrna into the stadium and was commanded, "Swear by the fortune of Caesar; repent, and say, 'Away with the atheists.'" By atheists, the Proconsul meant the Christians. But Polycarp, gazing at the heathen in the stadium, waved his hand towards them and said, "Away with the atheists." When the Proconsul urged him to blaspheme against Christ, he said: "I have been serving Christ for eighty-six years, and He has wronged me in nothing; how can I blaspheme my King Who has saved me?" But the tyrant became enraged at these words and commanded that he be cast into the fire, and thus he gloriously expired about the year 163. As Eusebius says, "Polycarp everywhere taught what he had also learned from the Apostles, which also the Church has handed down; and this alone is true" (Eccl. Hist., Book IV, ch. 14,15).

March 09

First & Second Finding of the Venerable Head of John the Baptist

The first finding came to pass during the middle years of the fourth century, through a revelation of the holy Forerunner to two monks, who came to Jerusalem to worship our Saviour's Tomb. One of them took the venerable head in a clay jar to Emesa in Syria. After his death it went from the hands of one person to another, until it came into the possession of a certain priest-monk named Eustathius, an Arian. Because he ascribed to his own false belief the miracles wrought through the relic of the holy Baptist, he was driven from the cave in which he dwelt, and by dispensation forsook the holy head, which was again made known through a revelation of Saint John, and was found in a water jar, about the year 430, in the days of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger, when Uranius was Bishop of Emesa.

March 10

Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople

This Saint was the son of one of the foremost princes in Constantinople, and was originally a consul and first among the Emperor's private counselors. Then, in 784, he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople by the Sovereigns Irene and her son Constantine Porphyrogenitus. He convoked the Seventh Ecumenical Council that upheld the holy icons, and became the boast of the Church and a light to the clergy. He reposed in 806.

March 10

Forgiveness Sunday

The Holy Fathers have appointed the commemoration of Adam's exile from the Paradise of delight here, on the eve of the holy Forty-day Fast, demonstrating to us not by simple words, but by actual deeds, how beneficial fasting is for man, and how harmful and destructive are insatiety and the transgressing of the divine commandments. For the first commandment that God gave to man was that of fasting, which the first-fashioned received but did not keep; and not only did they not become gods, as they had imagined, but they lost even that blessed life which they had, and they fell into corruption and death, and transmitted these and innumerable other evils to all of mankind. The God-bearing Fathers set these things before us today, that by bringing to mind what we have fallen from, and what we have suffered because of the insatiety and disobedience of the first-fashioned, we might be diligent to return again to that ancient bliss and glory by means of fasting and obedience to all the divine commands. Taking occasion from today's Gospel (Matt. 6:14-21) to begin the Fast unencumbered by enmity, we also ask forgiveness this day, first from God, then from one another and all creation.


Gospel and Epistle Readings

Matins Gospel Reading

Eighth Orthros Gospel
The Reading is from John 20:11-18

At that time, Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that He had said these things to her.

Eighth Orthros Gospel
يوحنا 20: 11-18

11في ذلك الزمان َكَانَتْ مريم وَاقِفَةً عِنْدَ الْقَبْرِ خَارِجاً تَبْكِي. وَفِيمَا هِيَ تَبْكِي انْحَنَتْ إِلَى الْقَبْرِ، 12فَنَظَرَتْ مَلاَكَيْنِ بِثِيَابٍ بِيضٍ جَالِسَيْنِ وَاحِداً عِنْدَ الرَّأْسِ وَالآخَرَ عِنْدَ الرِّجْلَيْنِ، حَيْثُ كَانَ جَسَدُ يَسُوعَ مَوْضُوعاً. 13فَقَالاَ لَهَا: ((يَا امْرَأَةُ، لِمَاذَا تَبْكِينَ؟)) قَالَتْ لَهُمَا: ((إِنَّهُمْ أَخَذُوا سَيِّدِي، وَلَسْتُ أَعْلَمُ أَيْنَ وَضَعُوهُ!)). 14وَلَمَّا قَالَتْ هَذَا الْتَفَتَتْ إِلَى الْوَرَاءِ، فَنَظَرَتْ يَسُوعَ وَاقِفاً، وَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ يَسُوعُ. 15قَالَ لَهَا يَسُوعُ: ((يَا امْرَأَةُ، لِمَاذَا تَبْكِينَ؟ مَنْ تَطْلُبِينَ؟)) فَظَنَّتْ تِلْكَ أَنَّهُ الْبُسْتَانِيُّ، فَقَالَتْ لَهُ: ((يَا سَيِّدُ إِنْ كُنْتَ أَنْتَ قَدْ حَمَلْتَهُ فَقُلْ لِي أَيْنَ وَضَعْتَهُ، وَأَنَا آخُذُهُ)). 16قَالَ لَهَا يَسُوعُ: ((يَا مَرْيَمُ)) فَالْتَفَتَتْ تِلْكَ وَقَالَتْ لَهُ: ((رَبُّونِي!)) الَّذِي تَفْسِيرُهُ: يَا مُعَلِّمُ. 17قَالَ لَهَا يَسُوعُ: ((لاَ تَلْمِسِينِي لأَنِّي لَمْ أَصْعَدْ بَعْدُ إِلَى أَبِي. وَلَكِنِ اذْهَبِي إِلَى إِخْوَتِي وَقُولِي لَهُمْ: إِنِّي أَصْعَدُ إِلَى أَبِي وَأَبِيكُمْ وَإِلَهِي وَإِلَهِكُمْ)).18فَجَاءَتْ مَرْيَمُ الْمَجْدَلِيَّةُ وَأَخْبَرَتِ التَّلاَمِيذَ أَنَّهَا رَأَتِ الرَّبَّ، وَأَنَّهُ قَالَ لَهَا هَذَا. 



Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. 8th Tone. Psalm 75.11,1.
Make your vows to the Lord our God and perform them.
Verse: God is known in Judah; his name is great in Israel.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 13:11-14; 14:1-4.

Brethren, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for God is able to make him stand.

البروكيمنون. 8th Tone. مزمور 75: 11، 1.
أنذِروا وأوفُوا للرّبِّ إلهِكُم
الله معروف في يهوذا واسمه عظيم في إسرائيل

فصل من رسالة القديس بولس الرسول الى اهل رومية 13: 11-14 14: 1-4.

يَُّا إِخْوَة، إِنَّ خَلاَصَنَا الآنَ أَقْرَبُ مِمَّا كَانَ حِينَ آمَنَّا. قَدْ تَنَاهَى اللَّيْلُ وَتَقَارَبَ النَّهَارُ فَلْنَخْلَعْ أَعْمَالَ الظُّلْمَةِ وَنَلْبَسْ أَسْلِحَةَ النُّورِ. لِنَسْلُكْ بِلِيَاقَةٍ كَمَا فِي النَّهَارِ لاَ بِالْبَطَرِ وَالسُّكْرِ لاَ بِالْمَضَاجِعِ وَالْعَهَرِ لاَ بِالْخِصَامِ وَالْحَسَدِ. بَلِ الْبَسُوا الرَّبَّ يَسُوعَ الْمَسِيحَ وَلاَ تَصْنَعُوا تَدْبِيراً لِلْجَسَدِ لأَجْلِ الشَّهَوَاتِ. وَمَنْ هُوَ ضَعِيفٌ فِي الإِيمَانِ فَاقْبَلُوهُ لاَ لِمُحَاكَمَةِ الأَفْكَارِ. وَاحِدٌ يُؤْمِنُ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَأَمَّا الضَّعِيفُ فَيَأْكُلُ بُقُولاً. لاَ يَزْدَرِ مَنْ يَأْكُلُ بِمَنْ لاَ يَأْكُلُ وَلاَ يَدِنْ مَنْ لاَ يَأْكُلُ مَنْ يَأْكُلُ، لأَنَّ اللهَ قَبِلَهُ. مَنْ أَنْتَ الَّذِي تَدِينُ عَبْدَ غَيْرِكَ؟ هُوَ لِمَوْلاَهُ يَثْبُتُ أَوْ يَسْقُطُ. وَلَكِنَّهُ سَيُثَبَّتُ لأَنَّ اللهَ قَادِرٌ أَنْ يُثَبِّتَهُ.

Gospel Reading

Forgiveness Sunday
The Reading is from Matthew 6:14-21

The Lord said, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

"And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Forgiveness Sunday
متى 6: 14-21

14 قال الرب  إِنْ غَفَرْتُمْ لِلنَّاسِ زَلاتِهِمْ ، يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ أَيْضاً أَبُوكُمُ السَّمَاوِيُّ. 15وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرُوا لِلنَّاسِ زَلَّاتِهِمْ ، لاَ يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ أَبُوكُمْ أَيْضاً زَلَّاتِكُمْ. 16((وَمَتَى صُمْتُمْ فَلاَ تَكُونُوا عَابِسِينَ كَالْمُرَائِينَ ، فَإِنَّهُمْ يُغَيِّرُونَ وُجُوهَهُمْ لِكَيْ يَظْهَرُوا لِلنَّاسِ صَائِمِينَ. اَلْحَقَّ أَقُولُ لَكُمْ: إِنَّهُمْ قَدِ اسْتَوْفَوْا أَجْرَهُمْ. 17وَأَمَّا أَنْتَ فَمَتَى صُمْتَ فَادْهُنْ رَأْسَكَ وَاغْسِلْ وَجْهَكَ ،18لِكَيْ لاَ تَظْهَرَ لِلنَّاسِ صَائِماً، بَلْ لأَبِيكَ الَّذِي فِي الْخَفَاءِ. فَأَبُوكَ الَّذِي يَرَى فِي الْخَفَاءِ يُجَازِيكَ عَلاَنِيَةً. 19((لاَ تَكْنِزُوا لَكُمْ كُنُوزاً عَلَى الأَرْضِ حَيْثُ يُفْسِدُ السُّوسُ وَالصَّدَأُ ،وَحَيْثُ يَنْقُبُ السَّارِقُونَ وَيَسْرِقُونَ. 20بَلِ اكْنِزُوا لَكُمْ كُنُوزاً فِي السَّمَاءِ ، حَيْثُ لاَ يُفْسِدُ سُوسٌ وَلاَ صَدَأٌ ، وَحَيْثُ لاَ يَنْقُبُ سَارِقُونَ وَلاَ يَسْرِقُونَ ، 21لأَنَّهُ حَيْثُ يَكُونُ كَنْزُكَ هُنَاكَ يَكُونُ قَلْبُكَ أَيْضاً.






Hymns of the Day

Apolytikion of St Stephen in the 1st Tone

For the struggles you endured for Christ God, a royal diadem crowns your head, O First Champion of Martyrs. For you refuted the folly of the Jews and beheld your Savior on the right of the Father. Ever beseech Him, therefore, for our souls.

Apolytikion of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople in the Fourth Tone

A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Tarasius, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople in the Third Tone

Thou didst make the Church to shine with thy most Orthodox doctrines, teaching all to venerate and worship Christ's sacred image; so didst thou convict the godless and hateful doctrine of all them that fought against Christ's ven'rable icon; O Tarasius our Father most wise and blessed, to thee we all cry: Rejoice.

Wisdom of the Fathers

Here it were well to sigh aloud, and to wail bitterly: for not only do we imitate the hypocrites, but we have even surpassed them.
St. John Chrysostom
Homily 20 on Matthew 6, 4th Century

For I know, yea I know many, not merely fasting and making a display of it, but neglecting to fast, and yet wearing the masks of them that fast, and cloaking themselves with an excuse worse than their sin.
St. John Chrysostom
Homily 20 on Matthew 6, 4th Century


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Fasting Guidelines: Great Lent 2019

This year, our journey through the Lenten fast to Pascha begins at Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday, March 10. The Church, in her wisdom, begins preparing us for this most-holy time in the weeks that precede the fast. This post will provide you with the fasting guidelines for the pre-Lenten period of preparation, Great Lent, and Holy Week, according to the general practice of Saint Stephen Parish.

The guidelines in this post are general. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that should be practiced with the oversight and direction of your spiritual father. If you have any specific questions about how the fasting discipline applies to you, you should consult your spiritual father. In the case of Saints Stephen parishioners, your spiritual father is Fr. Romanos


WEEKS OF PREPARATION 2019 (February 17 – March 10)

  • Four Sundays of preparation precede Great Lent. The Church eases us into the fasting discipline during these weeks of preparation as follows:
  • February 17 is the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee and the week that follows (February 18 – 24) is fast-free. There is no Wednesday or Friday fast this week.
  • February 24 is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and the week that follows (February 25 – March 3) is a normal week. Wednesday and Friday of this week are fasting days.
  • March 3 is Meatfare Sunday (the Sunday of the Last Judgment) and on this day we say “farewell” to meat. During the week that follows (March 4 – 10) we fast from meat only. All dairy, cheese, eggs, wine, and oil are permitted during this week, even on Wednesday and Friday.
  • March 10 is Cheesefare Sunday (the Sunday of Forgiveness) and on this day we say “farewell” to cheese, dairy, eggs, wine, oil, etc. This begins the fast proper.


GREAT LENT AND HOLY WEEK 2019 (March 11 – April 27)
The Lenten fasting discipline commences after Forgiveness Vespers on March 10 and concludes with the breaking of the fast at Pascha on April 28. In general, the fasting rules during Great Lent and Holy Week are as follows:

WEEKDAYS (Monday – Friday) are observed as Strict Fast Days. On these days we abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones, fowl, alcoholic beverages, and oil.
WEEKENDS (Saturday and Sunday) are observed as Wine and Oil Days. On these days the fast is relaxed to permit alcoholic beverages and olive and other vegetable oils.
In addition, two special feastdays that fall during this period – Annunciation (March 25) and Palm Sunday (April 21, this year) – are kept as Fish, Wine, and Oil Days. On these days the fast is relaxed to permit fish with backbones, in addition to alcoholic beverages and oil.
There are certain days of the Holy Week cycle that have special fasting rules.

  • Great and Holy Thursday (April 25, this year) is observed as a Wine and Oil Day due to the commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist.
  • Great and Holy Saturday (April 27, this year) is observed as a Strict Fast Day – the only Saturday of the year kept as a strict fast; however, wine (but not oil) is permitted.

Additional Notes:

  • Meals for the fast should follow the dietary restrictions and be cooked simply. Portions should be smaller than usual.
  • Fasting on the weekdays of the first week of Great Lent is especially severe. The strictest observance would be to take only two meals during this week – one on Wednesday evening and one on Friday evening after the services scheduled for those nights – keeping Pure Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday as absolute fasts (no food whatsoever).
  • For many this is impracticable. A good starting place to work towards the strict observance is to keep the first day of Great Lent, Pure Monday, as an absolute fast and to limit meals on the other days.
  • It is a pious practice to observe Great and Holy Friday as an absolute fast. If one does not have the strength to do this, it is good to abstain from food until after venerating the epitaphios (winding sheet) during Vespers on this day.
  • If you have a medical condition that requires you to relax the fasting guidelines, then do so.
  • Before you attempt to strictly follow the fasting guidelines, consult with Fr. Romanos. It is very easy to lose sight of the fact that fasting is merely a means to an end (that is, our salvation) and not an end in itself.
  • Generally speaking, children and elderly people are allowed to relax the fast under the guidance of their spiritual Father.

May our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ give you the strength to do the best of your ability to follow the guidelines of the Church and your spiritual father and come to receive his blessing to see what you can do and what you cannot do for your Feasting period.

In Christ,

Father Romanos



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