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

Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

Celebrated Oct 08

Today the Church remembers the 350 holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council under the holy Patriarch Tarasius (February 25).

The Synod of 787, the second to meet at Nicea, refuted the Iconoclast heresy during the reign of Empress Irene and her son Constantine VI.

The Council decreed that the veneration of icons was not idolatry (Exodus 20:4-5), because the honor shown to them is not directed to the wood or paint, but passes to the prototype (the person depicted). It also upheld the possibility of depicting Christ, Who became man and took flesh at His Incarnation. The Father, on the other hand, cannot be represented in His eternal nature, because “no man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).

Living the Golden Rule

Excerpts from artcle by


Let’s be the change we want to see in the world. What we want to see in others, let us start doing to others! Even if we don’t see a change in the world, we’ll see a change in ourselves!

Interestingly, the world’s religions agree on the Golden Rule, yet most of them approach it from the negative perspective – “DON’T do something bad to others, which you DON’T want them to do to you.”

Obviously, this would change our world if we didn’t do things to others which we don’t want them to do to us. Yet, our Lord Jesus emphasizes the Golden Rule in today’s Gospel reading from a positive perspective, precisely because He realizes that it’s not simply enough NOT to do something bad to someone else. The Christian goal isn’t simply to NOT do something, but we must go a step further and DO GOOD THINGS to others.

As follows of Jesus Christ, who is Love Incarnate, we understand that love isn’t the absence of bad, but it is the presence of good. We must consciously and actively display love to others; Christians live out the fulfillment of their faith by DOING GOOD ACTS for others, just as we want others to treat us well. Thus, Jesus calls His followers to take a proactive stance of love.

Read the whole article here: Living the Golden Rule

Venerable Pelagia the Penitent
Commemorated on October 8

Saint Pelagia the Penitent was converted to Christianity by Saint Nonnus, Bishop of Edessa (Saturday of Cheesefare Week). Before her acceptance of Christianity through Baptism, Pelagia was head of a dance troupe in Palestinian Antioch, living a life of frivolity and prostitution.

One day Pelagia, elegantly dressed, was making her way past a church where Saint Nonnus was preaching a sermon. Believers turned their faces away from the sinner, but the bishop glanced after her. Struck by the outer beauty of Pelagia and having foreseen the spiritual greatness within her, the saint prayed in his cell for a long time to the Lord for the sinner. He told his fellow bishops that the prostitute put them all to shame. He explained that she took great care to adorn her body in order to appear beautiful in the eyes of men. “We... take no thought for the adornment of our wretched souls,” he said.

Saint Pelagia with Saint Nonnus

On the following day, when Saint Nonnus was teaching in the church about the dread Last Judgment and its consequences, Pelagia came. The teaching made a tremendous impression upon her. With the fear of God and weeping tears of repentance, she asked the saint for Baptism. Seeing her sincere and full repentance, Bishop Nonnus baptized her.

By night the devil appeared to Pelagia, urging her to return to her former life. The saint prayed, signed herself with the Sign of the Cross, and the devil vanished.

Three days after her baptism, Saint Pelagia gathered up her valuables and took them to Bishop Nonnus. The bishop ordered that they be distributed among the poor saying, “Let this be wisely dispersed, so that these riches gained by sin may become a wealth of righteousness.” After this Saint Pelagia journeyed to Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives. She lived there in a cell, disguised as the monk Pelagius, living in ascetic seclusion, and attaining great spiritual gifts. When she died, she was buried in her cell.

What is Incense?

The ingredients given to Moses by God: 

Ex 30:34-38 - 34And the Lord said to Moses: “Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. 35You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. 36And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the Lord38Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”


(Wood) Resins: 

Resins are natural secretions which occur when the bark of the plant is damaged, which provides protection from pests. Frankincense, myrrh, copal, damar, and amber are common resins. Resin don’t give off much scent until they are burned; exposure to high heat causes resins to give off smoke and aroma. Benzoin is a very common fixative with an earthy “vanilla ice cream” scent.


Athonite incense, in the tradition of the Greek monasteries of Mount Athos, are made from pure frankincense tears ground into a powder and mixed with fragrant oils and aromatic wood resins.  The mixture is kneaded into a “dough-like” consistency; rolled and cut.  The pieces are coated with a very finely ground white clay to mitigate the stickiness to keep the rolled pellets from clumping together. The incense is finally cure for at least 30 days which results in a substance of complex fragrances.


Some popular types of Athonite incense include: Old Church - a woody blend of frankincense, cedar, fir needles, and vetiver.  Burning Bush – soft floral with cinnamon, clove, and honey.  Jerusalem – powerful rose with berry, and honey.  Bethlehem Rose – rose with vanilla.  Damascus Rose – intense rose fragrance with rich amber.  Byzantium – geranium, lily, wild berry, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla.  Evergreen and Embers - fir, spruce, balsam, cedarwood and moss with touches of cinnamon, cloves, and eucalyptus (great during Nativity season).  Nazareth – sandalwood, musk, florals, and cinnamon.  Iveron – white blossoms, rose, lily, and musk.  Certain varieties of incense are popular during particular Festal seasons - such as rose scented varieties for celebrations of the Theotokos. Other varieties (such as Nazareth) may be "low impact" for those persons with sensitivities to smoke or asthmatic.


Athonite style incense is burned using a charcoal tablet in a “burner” with is usually metal, stone, or other heat resistant container. 

(The types of charcoal and charcoal burners are covered in these articles  ---->>>>HERE)

Catechism classes 


Saturdays @ 3:30 - 4:30pm






An Introduction to the

Orthodox Christian Church

Adapted from: John Meyendorff. The Orthodox Church

Sesquicentennial Commemorative Logo

Brotherhood of St. John


Meetings 1st and 3rd Thursdays

6:00pm at Church Fellowship Hall

Open to all men of the church


What in the world is an Orthodox Christian?  

Click HERE for a brief explanation!

Click HERE for a more complete explanation!

Glossary of Orthodox Terms

Extensive and excellent guide to Orthodox

Christian vocabulary

by the Orthodox Church of the Mother of God 


An Invitation to Worship

Adult Education 

Open to all comers!

Wednesdays @ 6pm

We are currently reading

 Mere Christianity by CS Lewis


Church Office Hours  



(209) 812-6232

Use this time for private prayer

or volunteer your time to our parish   

Visitors Welcome!

What is confession? Why is it necessary?

Confession - Not a novel but a battle

"Always practice the "Golden Rule""

Oct 01, 2023

"As ministers of God have patience in tribulations, in needs, in distresses"

Sep 24, 2023


Archimandrite Andreas (Konanos)

Children in Church


“Suffer little children to come unto me,

for of such is the Kingdom of God.”

(Luke 18:16)

How We Should Conduct Ourselves in Church

JUNE 2020

O Lord, I Have Loved The Beauty of Thy House
Psalms 25:8 (LXX)

Why burn incense?

Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee



St. John (Maximovich)

of Shanghai and San Francisco

Evangelist Luke, painting an icon of the Theotokos. Photo: Wikipedia

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