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Resources for Pre-Partum and Post-Partum Pastoral Care

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Welcome to our resource page surrounding pregnancy and birth!

Prior to Birth

For those who desire to conceive

Couples will sometimes ask for prayers to be said. Such prayers may include asking the intercessions of the Mother of God, of St Irene Chrysovalantou, or of St Xenia of St Petersburg. These are best prayed in the church, though special circumstances may have these prayed in the home.

Please speak with Fr Andrew to arrange these prayers.

For Pregnancy

Congratulations! One of the natural responses to pregnancy is to thank God for the gift and responsibility that He has given to us. These can be prayed in the home or in the church. Please speak with Fr Andrew to arrange these thanksgiving prayers.

There are a wide variety of other responses as well – confusion, nervousness, fear, and others. If you would like to make an appointment with Fr Andrew to discuss these (and more), please speak with him directly.

In addition, there are some prayers that have been written that can be prayed by expectant mothers. You can find them by following this link here.

Expectant mothers are reminded that pregnancy is a dispensation from fasting. Please use this time in prayer for your family.

Miscarriages

Sometimes this tragedy happens. Just as we thank God in the good times, we ask for the consolation of Christ in the bad times. The prayers for miscarriage can be prayed in the home or in the church. Please speak with Fr Andrew to arrange.

Birth and Infancy

Among the things to prepare for during labour and birth (and ‘birthing bags’), many find that it is especially beneficial to ensure that an icon is brought with them, along with the contact details of their priest. Fr Andrew’s contact information is at the top of this page, and some potential problems are below under ‘Emergencies’.

  • Prayer for surgery (coming soon)

The Church has given us a number of prayers on set days after birth. Please contact Fr Andrew to arrange these.

On the First Day (that is, on the day of birth, or as soon as practicable), we have a short prayer. On request, the priest will come to where the mother & child are and will pray these prayers.

On the Eighth Day, we have the prayers of the naming of a child. These prayers happen on the eighth day of a child’s life (for example – if a child was born on Monday, then these prayers are said on the Monday after). This timing recalls when circumcision was done under the Old Covenant. On request, the priest will come to where the mother & child are and will pray these prayers. (Note: if it is pastorally beneficial, these can also be prayed at the same time as the First Day prayers).

For the first forty days of a child’s life, both mother and infant are released from the normal responsibility of an Orthodox Christian to attend church, and are instead advised to use this time to bond with their newborn. Fathers are asked to do everything possible to share the burden of parental responsibility (which may require absence from church). If you would appreciate pastoral guidance about this, please speak with Fr Andrew.

On the Fortieth Day, we have the prayers for the churching of mother and newborn. These prayers happen on the fortieth day of a child’s life (for example – if a child was born on a Monday, then these prayers are said, 5 weeks later, on the Friday). On this occasion (or on the subsequent weekend), mother and infant are brought to the church, where the priest will welcome the mother and infant back to the community.

The first sacrament a child will receive is called the Sacrament of Baptism. During this service, the child will also receive the Sacrament of Chrismation. Through these, they become full members of the Orthodox Church, and are able to commune from the next Liturgy. While a child can be baptised as soon as they have been born (one custom has the child being baptised on the Saturday after birth), another option is that the child is baptised soon after the fortieth day – thus combining the ‘churching’ prayers with the baptism itself, and allowing the mother to also be present.

Emergencies

Even with modern medicine, childbirth can be challenging.

If the infant’s life is in danger, call Fr Andrew immediately. If there is sufficient time, he will attend the hospital (or where the child has been born) to baptise the child; otherwise, the baptism can be done by any Orthodox Christian, and he will be able to step you through how this can be done – as well as visiting afterwards to provide pastoral care and to advise further details.

If the mother’s life is in danger, call Fr Andrew to attend for prayers or Sacraments.

Infancy

Parents are sometimes worried about the noise that is made by a child during services. As a general rule, a child that is fussing is not a disruption. However, it can be beneficial for a child that is wailing to be taken outside to settle before being brought back to worship.

When selecting a place to stand during Liturgy, parents are welcome to utilise the Confessional room, as this is an arched-off space that allows more movement of child and parent.

During services, nursing mothers are invited to breastfeed in the Bojko Room. Also, nursing mothers are reminded that for medical reasons, breastfeeding is a dispensation from fasting. Please resume fasting in consultation with your priest or confessor.

Some prayers include:

We wish you all of God’s blessings in this new stage of life!


Catechism

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Please wait while we redirect you to our latest Catechism Course.

If it doesn’t come up within 5 seconds, click this link.


Matrimony

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FAQ for the Couple

Where can I buy wedding icons?
These can be purchased from a variety of places. We recommend inquiring of the parish bookstores of any of the churches in Brisbane.

What do I do with the wedding candles?
These go on your icon corner, as a reminder of your commitment to one another and your journey towards heaven together.

Do I need to supply wedding crowns?
In our liturgical tradition, parishes typically have a set of crowns which are used for weddings. However, if you wish to provide your own, please discuss this with Fr Andrew.

Is there a dress code?
Each attendee is asked to wear modest clothing suitable for entering an Orthodox church – that is, with men wearing a collared shirt with pants, and women wearing attire covering from shoulders to clavicle and to the knees. The Bride is reminded that, as the wedding crowns go onto the head, to be mindful of this fact when arranging hair or veils.

Are there any other people involved in the ceremony?
There are two witnesses to an Orthodox wedding ceremony, at least one of whom must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing.

How long does the service go for?
The real answer to this question is ‘as long as it takes’, but based on past experience: somewhere between 45 minutes (with a soloist using simple melodies) to an hour (with a full choir).

When can we have our wedding?
There are a number of days in the year when it is not permitted to serve a wedding, to allow the faithful to participate fully in the Church’s liturgical life. For dates when this is the case, please view the page of St Nicholas’ church in Newcastle. For many practical reasons, we strongly recommend marriages on Sundays. NOTE: Please discuss potential wedding dates with Fr Andrew before booking any other venues.

What about a choir?
Our parish choir may be able to sing at your wedding. Generally, the choir have already selected the music that they will sing at the wedding. Please speak to Fr Andrew regarding such arrangements.

For Photographers and Videographers

The vast majority of the service happens in the centre line of the main body of the church.

Photos before, during and after the ceremony are not a problem.

We ask to avoid three things:

  • Please do not use flash photography.
  • Please do not cross between the priest and the couple, or the priest and the altar, during the service.
  • Please do not stand on the raised platform at the front of the church.

There are some key parts of the ceremony which photographers may wish to be mindful of. For your convenience, we’ve also suggested some placements for where to take these photos (remembering that the church faces East). These are, in order:

  1. The exchange of rings (perpendicular to priest & couple); 
  2. The procession from betrothal to crowning (Northeast or Southeast);
  3. The inquiries (perpendicular to priest & couple); 
  4. The crowning (many angles are good, starting with perpendicular to priest & couple); 
  5. The Common Cup (Northeast or Southeast);
  6. The ‘Dance of Isaiah’ (again, many angles are good, as the priest will lead the couple in a circle around the main icon three times);
  7. The removal of crowns (Northeast or Southeast);
  8. The greeting of the couple (at the end of the service).


Christmas & Theophany

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We celebrate the Birth of Christ on 7 January, and
the Baptism of Christ (‘Theophany’) on 19 January.

This page is a resource for this vital season in our church calendar.

In 2018-19, Christmas falls on a Monday.  Because of our rubrics, this has an impact on our schedule.

Christmas Eve
Service texts can be downloaded through this link.

4 January 2019: The Royal Hours (9am-10:30am).  These are preparatory services, meditating on themes of the Birth of Christ.

5 January 2019: Christmas Eve Vigil (6pm-8pm).  This combines Pre-Christmas themes with hymns on the Holy Fathers – how the Incarnation of Christ was brought about, and the people from the Old Testament who helped (however indirectly) to make it happen.

6 January 2019: Christmas Eve Liturgy (8:30am-10:30am).  This is our Communion service.
Then, Vespers of the 8 Prophecies (10:30am-11am), which is a service focused on Old Testament readings which prophesied about the Birth of the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

Christmas Day
Service texts can be downloaded through this link.

6 January 2019: Great Festal Vigil for Nativity (6pm-8:30pm).  This service focuses on the Birth of Jesus Christ, and what that means for our salvation.

7 January 2019: Christmas Day Liturgy (8:30am-10:45am).  This is our Communion service.

Theophany – The Baptism of our Lord
Service texts will be able to downloaded here.

18 January 2019: Great Festal Vigil for Theophany (6pm-8:30pm).  This service focuses on the Baptism of Jesus Christ, and what that means for our salvation.

19 January 2019: Theophany Liturgy (8:30am-10:30am).  This is our Communion service.
Then, the Great Blessing of the Waters (10:30am-11am), which commemorates the Baptism of Christ, in part through blessing water – a building block of human life.

Note: In 2019, on the evening of the 19th and the morning of the 20th, there will be no services at Holy Annunciation.  Parishioners are invited to attend the patronal feastday services for St John the Baptist Mission in Toowoomba.

We welcome you to worship Christ with us!


Visitors

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It is our great joy to welcome you to our humble parish. All people of good will are welcome to attend.

What’s On: Wednesday Evenings

On alternating weeks, at 6:30pm, we either serve Vespers (until approx. 7:30pm) or hold a Bible Study (until approx. 8pm).  Around 10 people are generally present at either.

Vespers is an evening service, one that is very contemplative and prayerful, including readings, psalms and traditional hymns.

Our Bible Study is led by Fr Andrew in the church office (best accessible via our back ramp).  Having studied Ephesians, Mark and Acts and Romans, the second half of 2019 will be occupied by studying the Gospel of John.

What’s On: Saturday Evenings

On Saturday evenings, we serve the Vigil service, starting at 6pm (until approx. 8pm).  Around 10-20 people are generally praying at this service.

The Vigil service is composed of Vespers, Matins and First Hour, with psalms and hymns making up most of the service, with a Gospel reading as a centrepoint.

During the Vigil service, Orthodox Christians are welcome to the Sacrament of Confession. If you wish to come to Confession, you are able to do this by holding an unlit candle while standing on the left hand side of the church (a queue should form under the archway).

What’s On: Sunday Mornings

On Sunday mornings, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, starting at 8:30am (until approx. 10:30am).  Around 30-40 people are generally praying at this service.

Partaking of Communion is done within the context of the Divine Liturgy. As such, people who are presenting themselves for Communion must be:

  • Orthodox Christians, who
  • Have read the appointed pre-Communion prayers, and
  • Have fasted (i.e. from midnight), and
  • Have recently been to Confession.

Visiting Orthodox Christians who wish to commune are asked to speak with Fr Andrew prior to the start of the service.

Other events:

We also celebrate services for major feastdays of the Christian Calendar.  We ask that you view our Parish Schedule for any additions or changes to our regular services.

Rules in Brief:

We ask our visitors to, in short, be respectful.  Most rules are covered by this simple injunction.  If you would like to sit down, please feel free to do so.

We also ask our visitors to dress modestly – covering from shoulders and clavicle down to the knees.  If you would like further details, we welcome you to view photo albums available on Facebook.

If in doubt, just ask – either by e-mail, by form (at the bottom of the page), or at the candle desk at church – and someone will be happy to help.

Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to welcoming you to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church!


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