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September 2017 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2017 Newsletter

 

Liturgical Notes

During the calendar month of September the church celebrates two more of the twelve major feast-days of the liturgical year and several other important dates. The liturgical year starts on Sept 14(OS Sept 1). This date is believed to be the date of the creation of the world. The church also remembers the execution of Saint John the Baptist on Sept 11(Aug 29) commemorating his beheading by the command of the wicked Herod. With the demise of St. John the Baptist the prophetic mission of the Old Testament/Covenant ceased and the fulfillment of the New Covenant began with the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. This day is remembered also with a strict fast from meat and dairy products.

 

On the calendar date of Sept 21(Sept 8 OS) the church celebrates the Nativity of the Theotokos. The Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, is the top of the mountain of the Old Testament. She is the pure vessel by which God would come into His creation. Her conception was miraculous as God answered the fervant prayers of her parents, Joachim and Anna. Anna was sixty plus years old and beyond child-bearing age for a woman. Yet they were a righteous couple in the eyes of God and He heard their prayers and gave them the precious vessel, the Theotokos. Note that the dismissal from most services in the Orthodox Church mentions “the righteous ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna”, the only Old Testament couple so remembered.

 

The second major feast-day is on Sept 27(Sept 14 OS). It is the feast-day of the Exaltation of the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. This day celebrates the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helen in Jerusalem during the early fourth century. The Holy Cross was well as the crosses of the two thieves had been discarded and covered by trash for centuries and later a pagan temple was built over the area. This was done to prevent the place from becoming a pilgrimage site for early Christians. After discovering the location, Queen Helen had the temple torn down and uncovered three crosses. Unable to determine which was the Holy Cross, the Patriarch of Jerusalem had the three crosses laid upon the corpse of a dead man. Upon being touched by the third cross the dead man arose to life again. The patriarch raised p the Cross for all to behold and they all cried out, “Lord have mercy!”. This day is also commemorated with fasting from meat and dairy products.

 

Parish Notes

Please continue to remember Lubov Harrison in your prayers. She has completed some medical procedures in Russia and will be returning to us in September. May God grand swift recovery and a safe journey.

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

 

Andrew Couch Sept 1 Namesday/Birthday

Elizabeth Johnson Sept 5 Birthday

Natalia Murphy Sept 8 Namesday

Dennis Stone Sept 8 Birthday

Kirill Silva Sept 19 Namesday/Birthday

Svetlana Weber Sept 27 Birthday

Natalia Murphy Sept 29 Birthday

Lubov Harrison Sept 30 Namesday

May God grant them many years!

 

From the fathers

We believing Christians, however, have a mighty weapon, a shield and rampart against the dark forces of hell: the image of the life-giving cross of the Lord, with which we sign ourselves and by which we are sanctified, bless ourselves, and live, driving away enemies visible and invisible. In the final moments of our earthly lives, having signed ourselves with the sign of the cross, we will depart into eternal life, trusting in it even after death.

As I have already said, the sign of the cross will be the first to appear in the sky before the second coming. Then, the powers of heaven and all the earth will tremble. Why is it the cross that will herald the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ? So that people may be reminded of what the Son of God had to endure for salvation, redemption, deliverance, and the birth of a new man. Gazing upon this instrument of our salvation, every man will have to give an account of whether his life justified Christ's feat of redemption, and the love with which God loved him in giving His only begotten Son over to death. Then, many, raising their eyes to the Lord's cross, will begin to wail and tremble with fear. It will be especially grievous for those who did not accept Christ, who rejected Him, giving Him up to a terrible and shameful execution. For them, this will be a terrible tragedy, since they will hear the final, decisive verdict on their existence for all eternity.

We, too, must think today on whether we are living properly, as Christ commanded, and whether we are on the right path. The Holy Hierarch Gregory of Nyssa reasons wonderfully on the redeeming sacrifice of God the Son. He says that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, but God did not permit him to do so, as he was only testing his willingness. Yet, God the Father offered the redeeming sacrifice, the blood of His only begotten Son, for even before the whole world was created, the Pre-eternal Counsel had determined that God would unite with man and offer Him in sacrifice. Humanity is very dear to the Most Holy Trinity, to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; hence, the Son of God had to suffer and die so that man could live. A few drops of the blood of the Son of Man sanctify the whole universe. Such, according to Saint Gregory of Nyssa, is the mystery of the salvific labor of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord says to us through the Gospel, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). In other words, the cross is given to us not only as a weapon against the devil but also against our passions and vices. In signing ourselves with the sign of the cross or wearing the cross on our breasts, we must remember that there is also an inner cross. The Holy Heirarch Theophan of Vyshensk said, “He who has no cross has not Christ.” Whoever does not bear the inner cross of sufferings and pain and does not follow the Lord cannot consider himself His disciple. We Christians must be true crusaders, or cross bearers, and walk the path which Christ walked, meaning the narrow path, for the wide one leads to destruction. Excerpts from a homily on the Exaltation of the Cross from A Beacon of Hope, The Teachings of Father Ilarion.

July 2017 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 2017 Newsletter

 

Liturgical Notes

The calendar month of July this year begins in the middle of the Apostles Fasting period. On July 1 we will celebrate the Feast Day of St. John of San Francisco, one of our Saints of America. On July 7 the Church celebrates the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, one of the three birthdays celebrated by the Church. The other two Nativities are for our Lord Jesus Christ and for His Mother, the Theotokos.

On July 12 we celebrate the Feast Day of the Apostles Peter and Paul. The Apostles Fasting period ends on this celebration but since it occurs on a Wednesday this year it is a fasting day with fish, wine, and oil allowed.

 

Parish Notes

Subdeacon David Carder will travel to Holy Protection Cathedral in Chicago on July 2 to be ordained to the diaconate by Archbishop Peter. Please keep him and his family in your prayers at this time.

Some of our members are traveling this month. Lubov Harrison, Andrew and Ksenia Couch are traveling in Russia now and Carmen Montero will be traveling in Germany and Spain this month. Valeriya Downs and her son, Nikolai are traveling in Ukraine. Please keep them in your prayers for a safe journey.

For those who know Father Seraphim Holland from St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKinney, TX, please keep him and his family in your prayers. His youngest son, Daniel, died accidentally in Germany on June 11. Fr. Seraphim has asked that all pray for his son's repose on the 40th day, July 20. There has been a Daniel Fund started in his memory to assist people with needs. For those who wish to contribute should contact Fr. George.

Some of our members and friends have special days this month.

 

Matrona Gaffney Jul 2 Birthday

Maximus Olsen Jul 5 Birthday

Victoria Gawrieh Jul 7 Birthday

Janet Gawrieh Jul10 Namesday

Elizaveta Shkurina Jul 18 Namesday

Elizabeth Olsen Jul 18 Namesday

Theofil Carder Jul 23 Birthday

Ksenia Couch Jul 24 Birthday

Marina deFligue Jul 30 Namesday

 

From the Fathers-continued from last month

The Lord, who had created an out of His ineffable love, of course could not, in the words of a wonderful prayer, “for the sake of the compassion of His mercy, see man's torment by the devil.” “But great power was necessary,” says St. Symeon, “in order to free man from the hands of the devil, who had enslaved them and who was holding them captive. And there is and can be no other power other than the One Christ the Lord, Who is the power of God the Father.”...By His sufferings on the Cross and glorious resurrection from the dead, He crushed the rule of the devil and then sent down upon His disciples and apostles, and through them to all believers, the grace of the Holy Spirit as the Power of God that heals all injuries from sin. He restored and strengthened man's natural powers given to him at creation, including his free will, delivering it from enslavement to the devil. From that time on, anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God come in the flesh and who accepts His teaching in order to realize it in his life will become free again. The Lord Himself speaks of this to the Jews who believed in Him: If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32).

From these words of the Lord Christ the Savior Himself, we clearly see that the purpose of His coming to Earth consisted in nothing other than to deliver man from his slavery to sin.

This joyful state of inner freedom from sin in no way depends upon man's external well-being nor is it in any way related to his external circumstances...A proud Roman patrician, having tasted and being satiated with all of life's pleasures and , disappointed with his empty, pointless life, lying on his luxurious bed of ivory embellished with gold, sighs wearily, “Oh, how unhappy I am!” At the same time, his slave, lying on a dirty bed of straw in the basement after an exhausting day of work, joyfully, yet with tender emotion, exclaims, “ Oh, how happy I am! I have come to know Christ!”

Thus, true freedom, which grants happiness, is freedom from sin. Is this how contemporary people understand freedom, and is this the freedom they seek?

Unfortunately, no. Modern man's conception of freedom is completely different. Therefore, chasing after illusory freedom, he has fallen into the most cruel slavery that can be imagined. We have already established that self-assertive pride is the guiding force in the life of modern man. This pride has rejected God and declared that man is god unto himself...No one may restrain the man-god in his freedom. “I want, I have the right,” became the slogan of modern man.

All of this stems from an incorrect understanding of freedom. Instead of freedom from sin, people began to strive for freedom to sin. True freedom, freedom of spirit, Christian freedom came to be considered “despotism,” “coercion,” the oppression of the Church, while the dissipation of one's sinful will, which leads to enslavement of the spirit, was made life's ideal. True freedom was exchanged for an illusory freedom that in fact leads to true despotism, to the agonizing tyranny of sin. Excerpts from The Struggle for Virtue, Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society by Archbishop Averky.

 

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.

 

 
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