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Beltsville, MD: First Commemoration of Saint Alfred, King of England, takes place at Holy Apostles Church

On Sunday, November 8, Holy Apostles Church in Beltsville, MD, became perhaps the first Orthodox parish in North America to celebrate the commemoration of Holy Right-Believing Alfred, King of England.

Concelebrating Divine Liturgy were the rector, Archpriest George Johnson, and assistant priest, Priest Christopher Johnson. The choir sang prayerfully under the direction of Reader Nicholas Baumann.

As an accommodation to current pandemic restrictions in Maryland, Divine Liturgy was celebrated outdoors, at the parish’s future church home, the historic St. Joseph’s Chapel in Beltsville. Sixty-nine people were present, including visitors from four Orthodox parishes in the Washington, DC area.

After Liturgy, a moleben was served to St. Alfred, at which a supplicatory prayer was read, which was composed by Fr. Christopher. That prayer is included at the end of this article.

St. Alfred (born 849) was King of Wessex from 886 until his death on October 26 899. He was the fifth son of his father, Æthelwulf, and never expected to become king. He loved learning and loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and most likely looked forward to a life of contemplation in the Church. Such was not to be his fate.

He was thrust into kingship at the age of 22, during a time of near-constant serious threat from the heathen Viking Danes. Through much hardship and wise preparation, he defeated Guthrum the Dane in a decisive battle, ending the Viking threat for many years. As a term of the surrender, Guthrum received Holy Baptism as Æthelstan, along with 30 of his jarls (Danish noblemen), with Alfred himself standing as godfather to Guthrum and his men. This is an example of the justice and mercy of the saint, as he showed care for the souls of not only his own people, but his former enemies.

When he was finally able to rule in peace, he began a program of education, requiring that all of his Thegns and Aldermen (nobility) learn to read and write, and that all freemen of England teach their sons the same. He personally translated Boethius’ "Consolation of Philosophy" and St. Gregory’s "On Pastoral Care," among many other books, and had them propagated throughout his land, spreading the light of holy knowledge to all his people.

His life is well worth learning more about.

Alfred has slept, and for many reasons of history his veneration has not been widespread. However, it is now growing, and perhaps God’s holy will has allowed him to sleep until now, when we in the English-speaking world need him most of all. The traditions of freedom and the rule of law which we cherish, and which allowed ROCOR to find a land amenable to our peace and safety, were begun under Alfred’s rule.

We hope that with our veneration of him we can begin to draw more Orthodox attention to this holy king, so that more and more of us can humbly ask his holy prayers before the Throne of the King of kings.

O Holy Right-Believing Alfred, King of England, pray to God for us!

The original prayer is in English below, followed by a Slavonic translation and, below that, a Serbian translation by Archimandrite Jeronim (Mitich).

A Prayer for the USA

O holy right-believing Alfred, great king of Wessex and father of the English nation, hear our supplication.

Thou hast shown us an indelible example of courage and faith in the marshes of Æthelney, when all England was suffering the depredation of the heathen Danes. Thou didst build up the defenses of thy kingdom as thou didst also strive to increase the Christian Faith in thy kingly heart, showing an example of true wisdom to friend and foe alike; enlightening thy people, showing mercy to thy vanquished foes, wisely preparing for war, but striving always for a holy peace.

Thou didst love learning and render into English many holy books, sending them out to all thy people, raising up their minds and hearts in the light of true knowledge. Thou didst renew the ancient laws of England, becoming a new Justinian, showing an example of the righteous judgement required by God of all who are in seats of power.

We, thy spiritual children in America, ask now thy strong intercession before the King of kings; help us in our time of trouble. Be like Elijah and grant us a double portion of thy spirit that thirsted after these virtues of courage, faith, steadfastness in the face of uncertainty and fear, the love of the Lord that bringeth holy wisdom, and righteous and merciful judgement in the fear of God.

O Alfred, wise king, do thou entreat Him to guide us steadily, as He guided thee, and to grant order, justice, peace, and tranquility to our native land.

In the name of the Father to Whom thou drawest nearer every day, the Son Whose love thou didst teach to all, and the Holy Spirit Who fillest thy heart, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Молитва о Соединенных Штатах Америки

О святы́й благове́рный Алфре́де, вели́кий царю́ Уе́ссекса и о́тче англи́йскаго наро́да, приими́ моле́ние на́ше.

Приме́р неотъе́млемый показа́л еси́ нам му́жества и ве́ры на бла́тех Етелне́я, егда́ страда́ла вся А́нглия от нападе́ний язы́чников да́нских. Ты ца́рство свое́ защити́л и стреми́лся еси́ укрепи́ти ве́ру христиа́нскую в ца́рском се́рдце свое́м, показу́ющий приме́р и́стинныя му́дрости и дру́гу, и врагу́, просвеща́я наро́д сво́й, проявля́я милосе́рдие къ побежде́нным враго́м, му́дро гото́вяся к войне́, но при́сно стремя́ся ко свято́му ми́ру.

Ты люби́л еси́ изуча́ти и переводи́ти на язы́к англи́йский свяще́нных книг мно́жество, разсыла́я я́ всему́ наро́ду своему́, просвеща́я их умы́ и сердца́ в све́те позна́ния и́стины. Ты обнови́л еси́ дре́вния законы А́нглии, но́вым Иустиниа́ном став, показа́вый приме́р пра́веднаго суда́, тре́буемаго Бо́гом от всех вла́сть иму́щих.

Мы, ча́да твоя́ духо́вная во Аме́рице, про́сим тве́рдаго засту́пничества твоего́ пред Царе́м царе́й; помози́ нам во дни сму́ты. Подо́бен бу́ди Илии́, да́руя нам двойну́ю до́лю ду́ха твоего́, жа́ждущаго доброде́телей му́жества, ве́ры, сто́йкости пред лице́м сомне́ний и стра́ха, любве́ Го́спода, несу́щия святу́ю му́дрость, и пра́веднаго и милосе́рдаго суда́ в стра́се Бо́жием.

О Алфре́де, му́дрый царю́, умоли́ Его́ неукло́нно вести́ нас, я́коже тя́ вел, и благоустро́йство и пра́вду, мир и поко́й дарова́ти земли́ на́шей.

Во и́мя Отца́, к Не́му же приближа́ешися ка́ждый день; Сы́на, любве́ Его́ же учи́л еси́ всех; и Свята́го Ду́ха, И́же наполня́ет се́рдце твое́, ны́не и при́сно и во ве́ки веко́в. Ами́нь.

Молитва за Сједињене Америчке Државе

О свети правоверни Алфреде, велики краљу Весекса и оче Енглеске нације, чуј нашу молбу.

Показао си нас као неизбрисив пример храбрости и вере у мочварама Етлијенским, када је цела Енглеска патила од напада паганских Дана. Изградио си одбране свог краљевства као што си такође стремио да умножиш Хришћанску веру у свом краљевском срцу, показујући се као пример праве мудрости исто и пријатељу и противнику; просвећивао свој народ, показивао милост према пораженим непријатељима, мудро спремао за рат, али увек стремио ка светом миру.

Волео си учење и превео на Енглески многе свете књиге, слао си их свему своме народу, подизао њихове умове и срца у светлости правог знања. Обновио си древне законе Енглеске, постајући нови Јустинијан, показујући пример праведног суда који Бог тражи од свих моћника.

Ми, твоја духовна деца у Америци, тражимо сада твоје моћно посредовање пред Царем царева; помози нам у време наше невоље. Буди као Илија, и даруј нам двоструки удео свог духа који је жудео за врлинама храбрости, вере, постојаности упркос несигурности и страху, љубав Господњу која доноси свету мудрост, и праведан и милостив суд у страху Божијем.

О Алфреде, мудри краљу, умилостиви Њега да нас води постојано, као што је водио тебе, и да дарује ред, правду, мир и спокој нашој родној земљи.

У име Оца коме се приближаваш сваки дан, Сина чијој си љубави учио све, и Светога Духа који је испунио твоје срце, сада и увек и у векове векова. Амин.


Beltsville, MD: First Commemoration of Saint Alfred, King of England, takes place at Holy Apostles Church - 11/08/20

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