Saint Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church
Proclaiming & Living the Holy Orthodox Faith
in the California Central Valley

The Sunday of Meatfare of the Last Judgement

Celebrated on February 23


     Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Last Judgment. It reminds us that while trusting in Christ’s love and mercy, we must not forget His righteous judgment when He comes again in glory. If our hearts remain hardened and unrepentant, we should not expect the Lord to overlook our transgressions simply because He is a good and loving God. Although He does not desire the death of a sinner, He also expects us to turn from our wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11). This same idea is expressed in the prayer read by the priest after the penitent has confessed his or her sins (Slavic practice).

     The time for repentance and forgiveness is now, in the present life. At the Second Coming, Christ will appear as the righteous Judge, Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). Then the time for entreating God’s mercy and forgiveness will have passed.

     As Father Alexander Schmemann reminds us in his book GREAT LENT (Ch. 1:4), sin is the absence of love, it is separation and isolation. When Christ comes to judge the world, His criterion for judgment will be love. Christian love entails seeing Christ in other people, our family, our friends, and everyone else we may encounter in our lives. We shall be judged on whether we have loved, or not loved, our neighbor. We show Christian love when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick or in prison. If we did such things for the least of Christ’s brethren, then we also did them for Christ (Mt.25:40). If we did not do such things for the least of the brethren, neither did we do them for Christ (Mt.25:45).

Troparion — Tone 1

When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory,

all things shall tremble and the river of fire

shall flow before Your judgment seat;

the books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed! 

Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire,

and make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, righteous Judge!


February 23 is the last day for eating meat and meat products until Pascha (April 19).  Eggs and dairy products are permitted every day during the week of February  24 - March 1.  This limited fasting prepares us gradually for the more intense fasting of Great Lent which begins on March 2.

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An Introduction to the

Orthodox Christian Church

Adapted from: John Meyendorff. The Orthodox Church

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Fr. Lawrence Gaudreau
Fr. Lawrence Gaudreau
Fr. Lawrence Gaudreau

About Our Church



     We are a family church of many cultures with intergenerational worship; we have a full liturgical life throughout the Church year, with many opportunities for joyful fellowship and enduring growth. Our vision is to “manifest the Kingdom of God by proclaiming and living the Orthodox Christian Faith.” Orthodox Christianity is for everyone — come and see!


     Located at the north end of California's San Joaquin Valley, St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church is dedicated to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to His promise of salvation to all mankind. The services of our mission-parish are located in Atwater.


     Committed to serving Christ and His Holy Church, the people of St. Mary Magdalene welcome and encourage all visitors to be our guests, especially those who are truly seeking the path of salvation.  

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