Once again, I would like to take the opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude to all of you who have been making preparations to attend this Sunday's special event at the Holy Virgin Cathedral. Your willingness to make so many extraordinary efforts to attend services at the Cathedral, and then to come to "Celebrate Our Mother" open house following the Liturgy, as well to do so with a positive attitude, is an outstanding reminder of one of the many great reasons we send our children to St. John's Academy; because it is a one-of-kind community of adults and children who understand the spiritual benefit that is derived from going that "extra mile", i.e. sometimes performing those infrequent but all-important gestures of rising to the occasion when one is asked to do something above and beyond the call of duty.
It was not mentioned in the last letter that went out to you about Sunday's activities, but I did want to let you know that the dress code for students this Sunday is slightly different from the usual. St. John's students will not be required to wear their school uniforms to the Liturgy and celebrations at the school. However, we strongly urge everyone in the community - students, teachers and parents alike - to dress in modest, appropriate church attire, preferably in some shade of blue (in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Heavenly Queen). Dressing in blue on a feast day of the Mother of God is wonderful Orthodox tradition, and it is not only for those wearing clerical vestments. Everyone is asked to dress tastefully - and "celestially" - this Sunday to remind us of the love and mercy bestowed upon us by the Most Holy Virgin Mary.
Concerning the actual Feast Day of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, which will be on Tuesday, 04 December, I would like to inform you of the activities and plans for the day, as there has been a little confusion about that day. Traditionally, St. John's students have been required to attend the Divine Liturgy of this important Feast Day to the Mother of God, after which students were released from school to spend the day with their families. This year, however, we do realize that many parents find it difficult to take the time off from work, or to provide childcare, on a weekday. Therefore, the school will be open - as on a regular school day - on Tuesday, 04 December, immediately after the morning Liturgy. If you have already planned to spend time with your children on that day, or if you have prior commitments at your home parish, your children will be excused from attendance from the Holy Virgin Cathedral's Liturgy, as well as from the school day. For most families, though, we are requesting that you attend Liturgy at the Cathedral and that the students attend the school day, which will end for all students - Kindergarten through 12th grade - at 2:30 PM on Tuesday. For those who do come to school on Tuesday, the day's activities will include movies, games and singing; a general good time for all in celebration of the Most Holy Theotokos. For those who do not come to school (with the blessing of their parents), it will be considered an excused absence from school.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all about anything. I wish you all a blessed and spiritually profitable feast!
St. John of San Francisco Orthodox Academy