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June 2017 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2017 Newsletter

 

Liturgical Notes

The calendar month of Junes contains one of the twelve major Feast Days of the liturgical year. The Feast of Pentecost follows fifty days after the Feast of Pascha and is celebrated this year on Sunday, June 4.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me: O righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye shall see me no more: O judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself: but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:7-13).

At His Ascension, the Lord said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

Ten days after Christ's Ascension, His followers gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Old Testament Pentecost, which recalled God's giving of the Law to His people. The apostles had remained together in obedience to Christ's instructions to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”(Acts 2:1-4).

This gift of the Holy Spirit completes the revelation of the Holy Trinity to the world. This day is also considered the “Birthday” of the Church and it continues until this day and is eternal as it is the Body of Christ. The Feast of Pentecost is also followed by a fast-free week.

On June 18 we celebrate our parish feast day, the Sunday of All Saints of America. Please mark this on your calendar and plan to be here. On June 12 the Apostle's Fast begins and runs to Jul 12. The normal fasting rules apply.

 

Parish Notes

Congratulationsto Victoria Gawrieh and Theodore Morcan upon their graduation from high school. Victoria was selected to attend the national archery competition because of her skill and received a high score at the competition. Upon graduation she received a scholarship for her archery skills.

Our parish member, Andrew Sawyer, is visiting a friend in Ohio and plans to seek employment and perhaps stay in that area. May God bless his plans.

Subdeacon David Carder has been approved for ordination to the Diaconate. The ordination will take place at the Diocesan Cathedral in Chicago on July 2 by Archbishop Peter. Our parish will have a Deacon to con-celebrate the Divine Liturgy.

 

Several of our parish members and friends have special days this month:

 

Constantine Skoumbourdis June 3 Namesday

Elizaveta Shkurina June 4 Birthday

Anton Khudoley June 7 Birthday

Fr George June 9 Birthday

Valeriya Downs June20 Namesday

Yelisey Fitzgerald June 27 Namesday

Monica Olsen June 28 Namesday

 

May God grant them many years!

 

From the fathers

The highest gift that God bestowed upon man at his creation was the gift of freedom. Man was created free. It was within his will to choose one or another path in his life. It was within his will to obey God or not, to honor and love God as his Father, or to reject Him. It was this freedom of will that was the seal of the image and likeness of God in man. And it was this freedom of will that defined the high dignity of man—a dignity that raised him infinitely above every other creature.

Why did God create man with a free will? This is quite understandable: God's one and only motivation in creating man was His love. And love always desires the most good for its beloved. Furthermore, love desires a free response—love for love—that is in no way forced. Only this kind of love has any worth: love that flows freely from a loving heart, without any compulsion or coercion. The loving God the Father awaited just such love from the free man whom He had created. He desired that man, whom He created and upon whom He bestowed many good things, love Him and serve Him freely, without any coercion or compulsion, as a loving sone serves his beloved Father. This is the meaning of the gift of man' free will.

But, alas, man did not retain his high dignity,, did not live up to the expectations of God's love, did not preserve the lofty gift of God-like freedom. He misused his freedom and fell into the most abject slavery...

Having created man with a free will, God gave him a negligible, easily fulfilled commandment in order to exercise and strengthen this will towards good: the commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...However, the first man, enticed and tricked by the devil,ate.

Having refused to freely and lovingly obey God, man fell into the most bitter slavery to the devil. Before the Fall, people were completely free and moral, as though above the category of good and evil...After the Fall, the difference between good and evil became clear to them. Nevertheless, despite the fact that its calamitous effects upon men had become apparent, evil began tp attract them and to enslave their fee will so much that they were nearly completely deprived of their God-given freedom and found themselves sin slavery to the source of all evil, the devil...

The horror of man's predicament lies in the derangement that has afflicted his mind. It seems to him that he is doing everything himself, that he is acting completely independently, but in reality he is doing only the will of his lord, the devil. “This harassing on one another,” continues St Symeon, “this plunder, usurpation, and all iniquity are nothing but the consequences of this slavery. Those who have fallen into this slavery become inhuman, proud, and completely unfeeling. They do not feel any compassion towards others, nor do they perceive their own grievous condition of enslavement to the devil. Not perceiving their condition, they do not desire or seek to be delivered of it. All such people...because of their slavery to the devil, are parts of the devil, far removed from God and not able to be in His house for all eternity.” Excerpts from The Struggle for Virtue, Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society by Archbishop Averkey.

 

May 2017 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2017 Newsletter

 

Liturgical Notes

 

The month of May contains one of the major liturgical year feast days, the Ascension our our Lord Jesus Christ on May 25. “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, the he was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24: 50-53). For forty days, since His Resurrection, Christ had been appearing to His disciples. During that time He ate with them, taught them, and testified to the accomplishment of His Crucifixion and proved the reality of His Resurrection. Now they stand watching as the Son of God ascends, raising earth up to meet heaven. As they kept their eyes raised to heaven, two angels appeared to them to tell Christ would return in the same manner. The apostles were to follow His instructions and wait to receive the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem.

Our human nature through Christ's Ascension now is raised past the nine orders of angels to the throne of God, where he has always wanted us to be. This is why Jesus was lifted up on the Cross: to lift us into heaven. To enter into His glory, we too must rise above the ways of the world. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev 3:21).

During the forty days of celebrating our risen Christ, we sometimes slide back into the harmful habits that we fought against during Lent. As Saint Paul reminds us, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Col 3.1). The gates of heaven are open, and God prepared a place of honor for us. Let us not settle for anything less. Excerpts from Heaven meets Earth, Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts.

After the leave-taking of Pascha(May 24) we begin our prayers with the Troparion of Ascension rather than “Christ is risen...”as follows: Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God, having gladdened Thy disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit; and they were assured by the blessing that Thou art the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. This beginning is used until the leave-taking of Ascension on Jun 3.

 

Parish Notes

Congratulations to the newly illumined Thomas (Justin) Harp upon his baptism on Holy Saturday. Many thanks to those who helped during Holy Week and Pascha. To Ksenia Couch for her tireless cleaning of the church in preparation for Pascha and to Subdeacon David and Euphrosyne for taking time off from work to help with the services of Holy Week and Pascha and to all who attended the services. May God bless you all for the sacrifices that you made to help.

Some of our parish members and friends have special days this month:

Daria Zharskaya May 4 Birthday

Father George May 6 Namesday

Subdeacon George Gawrieh May 6 Namesday

George (Ian) Murphy May 6 Namesday

Monica Olsen May 17 Namesday

Monica Olsen May 30 Birthday

Denis Kalinin May 31 Birthday

Ksenia Fitzgerald May 31 Birthday

 

May God grant them many years!

 

from the Fathers

When swallows run short of food and the cold weather is coming, they set off to warm climes, where there is plenty of sun and food. One swallow flies ahead, testing the air and showing the way, and the rest of the flock follow after.

I am thinking of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Has He not aid of Himself that He is the Way? Did He not Himself say to His apostles: “I go to prepare a place for you..and will...receive you unto Myself” (John 14:2-3)? And did He not say to them before this: “ And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Me” (John 12:32)? This hat He Himself said began to be fulfilled a few weeks later, and has continued to be fulfilled right down to our own day, and shall be to he end of time. That is: being the beginning of the first creation of the world, he became also the beginning of the second creation, or the blessed renewing of the old. Sin clipped Adam's wings and those of all his descendants, and they all fell away from God, went off and were blinded with the dust from which their bodies were created. Christ, as the New Adam the first Man, the Firstborn among men, was the first to rise up to heaven on spiritual wings, to the throne of eternal glory and power, thus cleaving the way to heaven and opening all heaven's gates to His followers with their spiritual wings – as an eagle cleaves the way for its eaglets; as a swallow that goes ahead, slowing the flock the way and breaking the air's heavy resistance.

“O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away and be at rest” (Ps 54/55:6), the Psalmist cried in distress before Christ's coming. Why? He himself explains: “My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed e” (vv. 4-5). Such a terrible sense of deathly fear and horror of existence in the wastes of this life must, like a heavy nightmare, have weighed on the whole rational, honest world before Christ.

...You do not now have to sigh in fear, trembling and horror as King David did, nor to desire wings like a dove, for the Eagle has appeared, and has show and cloven a road through. You have only to nurture the spiritual wings that you were given at your baptism in His name, and to desire with all our strength to climb up there where He ascended. He has done ninety-nine percent of all that is needed for your salvation; will you not strive to do that one remaining percentage pint for your own salvation, and this when, for you, an entrance shall be ministered....abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 1:11)?

The Lord's Ascension from earth to heaven is as unexpected to men as His coming down from heaven to earth and His birth in the flesh was to the angels.

 

 

 

April 2017 Newsletter

 

 

 

April 2017 Newsletter

 

Liturgical Notes

The calendar month of April contains three major feast days of the liturgical year, Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, Palm Sunday, and Pascha. The Annunciation occurs this year on April 7 (OS Mar 25). The Church celebrates the revelation of the conception of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos. St. Luke records this event in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke.

Palm Sunday commemorates the Entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. Many people were in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. On the day before Palm Sunday the Lord had miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead and His fame had spread throughout the city so there were those who believed Him to be Messiah and those who wanted to make Him king. The Lord enters Jerusalem not in a royal chariot but humbly on a donkey fulling the sayings of the Prophets.

After Palm Sunday the church enters Holy Week following our Lord through His physical suffering in preparation for the Resurrection or Pascha. See the attached schedule for the Holy Week services. After Holy Wednesday we no longer say the prayer of St. Ephraim daily. Following Pascha there is a fast free 'Bright Week' where we continue the Paschal celebration. We enter the time where we do not make prostrations in the Church nor do we invoke the Holy Spirit when we begin our daily prayers. We do not say “O Heavenly King, Comforter...” but replace it with “Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life” saying this three times. This is done until Thomas Sunday, the first Sunday after Pascha. From thence we say only “Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death” in our prayers until the Feast of Ascension.

 

 

Parish Notes

Prior to Pascha we always try to clean up the Church inside and outside so all help is appreciated. Donations of flowers to decorate for Pascha is always helpful.

The Holy Week schedule is always a strain for the singers and chanters since we have so few and the services are long. Help with the reading and chanting of these services is very much appreciated. For those who need the Sacrament of Confession prior to Pascha please schedule with Fr. George prior to 8:00PM on Holy Saturday. After that time it is difficult for the priest to be available for confession due to necessary preparation for the upcoming Paschal service beginning at 11:30PM.

Several of our members and friends have special days this month:

 

Darya Zharskaya April 1 Namesday

Svetlana Weber April 2 Namesday

Constantine Skoumbourdis April 5 Birthday

Elizabeth Olsen April 10 Birthday

Maria Silva April 14 Namesday

Athanasia Vasakis April 25 Namesday

 

God grant them many years!

 

 

Proposed Holy Week Schedule

Palm Sunday Bridegroom Service 6:30PM

 

Holy Monday Bridegroom Service 6:30PM

 

Holy Tuesday Bridegroom Service 6:30PM

 

Holy Wednesday Holy Unction 7:00PM

 

Holy Thursday Vespers/Liturgy 9:00AM

Matins-Twelve Gospels 7:00PM

 

Holy Friday Royal Hours 8:00AM

Vespers 2:00PM

Lamentations 6:30PM

 

Holy Saturday Vespers/Liturgy 10:00AM

Midnight Office 11:30PM

 

Pascha Matins 12:00AM

Divine Liturgy Following Matins

Agape Vespers 1:30PM

 

 

from the Fathers

Dear Brothers and Sisters! The day of the Annunciation simultaneously reveals both the great dignity of the Ever-Virgin Mary and the Mother of God's secret life in God. Truly blessed among women is the only Most-Holy Virgin, who alone among all generations, was chosen to be the Mother of God and presented herself worthy to contain the mystery descended from the heavens. In the person of the Most -Holy Virgin, man freely gave his consent to the incarnation, the humanization, of the Son of God. The Lord loved the Most-Pure Virgin and exalted her, setting her higher than the cherubim and the seraphim, and giving her the name which is exalted above every name: the name of Mother of God.

 

May the good news brought to earth by the archangel incite our souls to love, gentleness of heart, and thanksgiving to God for having come to earth, bestowed upon us eternal salvation, and revealed the way to the highest good: eternal life and continual union with Him. And may a new flame of holy faith be ignited in us,and a thirst for eternal salvation, which the Lord alone can quench. Amen! Excerpts from a homily on Annunciation from A Beacon of Hope, The Teaching of Father Ilarion.

 

 

January 2017 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2017 Newsletter

 

Liturgical Notes

 

The calendar month of January contains two of the twelve major Feast Days of the liturgical year as well as one of the secondary Feast Days of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first of these days begins on Friday, Jan 6(Dec 24OS) with the Royal Hours of the Nativity of our Lord. The services of Nativity will be celebrated on the same day at vigil. Divine Liturgy for the celebration of the Incarnation of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, will be on Saturday, Jan 7(Dec 25OS) at 10:00 AM. This will allow several people who wish to celebrate Nativity on the old calendar to be with us. The Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is the culmination of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament between God and man. This is a Divine Condescension whereby God takes on the form of a man, a servant for mankind. It is a great mystery beyond comprehension in its majesty of the mercy and love of God for mankind.

 

The secondary Feast Day is celebrated on Jan 14(Jan 1OS). It is the Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Giver of the Mosaic Law condescends to submit Himself as a man to that Law. On the eighth day after His birth his mother, the Theotokos, and Joseph take the Christ Child to the temple to be circumcised according to the Law. In His submission Christ fulfills the Law as He said He would. This day is also the feast day of St. Basil the Great, one of the three holy hierarchs of the Church.

 

The third of these days is the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Feast Day commemorates the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan river by Saint John the Baptist. This occurs on January 19(Jan 6OS). After Pascha and Pentecost, this is the greatest Feast of the Orthodox Church, predating even the Nativity in importance. This is the first public manifestation of God the Word Incarnate to the world. The Creator enters into the basic element of life, water, and thereby sanctifies fallen creation. The Lord by submitting to baptism institutes the Sacrament of Holy Baptism for the Church. Through this Sacrament we mystically die to the world and are joined to the Body of Christ and reborn a new creature cleansed of our former sins. The Blessing of Water is performed during this festal period and the water is used to bless homes during this Holy Season. Following Divine Liturgy we will proceed to De Queen lake to bless the waters with a Cross made from Theophany blessed water.

 

Parish Notes

 

The Eve of the Nativity is always a strict fast day: food with oil, but without fish, is allowed after the Vespers service. Those who can observe this rule are encouraged to do so. There are exceptions from this fast for those who are normally excluded from the fasting rules due to sickness, etc. If there are questions, please ask Fr. George for the appropriate guidance.

 

During the weeks following Theophany, Jan 19, we will be doing the annual house blessings of the parish members. Please schedule this with Fr. George if you wish your home blessed during this season.

 

During the past several years we have witnessed the rise of terrorism in the world especially against Christians in the middle-eastern countries. Unfortunately this is not new in our world. For those who read the lives of the saints and the history of the Church know that these atrocities have occurred over the past 2000 years repeatedly. Archbishop Peter addressed the current events in a letter posted on the diocesan website, www.chicagodiocese.org. He also gave us a prayer to use in our private prayers to ask God's mercy upon the victims of the present terrorism. It is as follows:

 

Give rest O Lord to the souls of the victims of terrorism, grant comfort to the grieving families, touch the hearts of the evildoers and turn them to good. Lord have mercy.

 

Several of our members and friends have special days this month:

 

Carmen Maria Montero Jan 8 Birthday/Namesday

Subdeacon David Carder Jan 8 Namesday

Seraphim Fitzgerald Jan 15 Namesday

Tatiana Skoumbourdis Jan 25 Namesday

Tatiana Stone Jan 25 Namesday

George (Ian) Murphy Jan 27 Birthday

Athanasia Vasakis Jan 29 Birthday

Anton Khudoley Jan 30 Namesday

 

God grant them many years!

 

From the fathers

Around 700 B.C., the prophet Isaiah said that the land of Zebulun, the land of Naphtali, and the people who sat in darkness by Jordan saw a light, and upon all mortals, light has shone, upon them who sat in darkness and the shadow of the law. Here, according to the Gospel, after His baptism the Lord went from Nazareth to Capernaum and set out upon His service of preaching to the people after the heavens were opened and after He came out of the baptismal waters of the Jordan. John the Forerunner saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descending upon our Lord Jesus Christ and heard the voice, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17).

...Up to that point, up to that moment, no religion had known of the Trinity of the Divinity. Here, for the first time, the Divinity appears in three Persons, three Hypostases.

...Here, the mystery is revealed—the manifestation of the Holy Trinity. All three Persons take part in the redeeming feat of our salvation, sanctifying, enlivening, enlightening all mankind. Man finds himself between two worlds: the corporeal, material world and the spiritual. His is woven of the spiritual fabric from which the angelic race is woven and must bear in himself not only a material origin but primarily a spiritual one, a spiritual image. Baptism is a great sacrament, for through water (both that which has been sanctified and that into which we are submerged), a sacred rite is performed: man is spiritually renewed and becomes born again.

It is sad that we do not see the spiritual light with which we must be imbued, like Saint Seraphim of Sarov, like the Holy Hierarchs Theopan of Vyshensk and Ignatius (Brianchaninov), like the Holy and Righteous John of Kronstadt. Let us ask ourselves, is our soul filled with God's light?

If we have chanced to darken our souls and our lives, we must blame ourselves, our sinfulness, our inactivity, and our worldliness. Let us therefore remember that Christ is always with us, and that He offers us curative, regenerative remedies: the sacrament of repentance, the mystery of confession. Repent and be transfigured; leave sin, hate it, and hate everything that has tormented, coarsened, and plunged you into it abyss, into the abyss of passions and darkness. Excerpts from A Beacon of Hope, The Teaching of Father Ilarion.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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