November 2018 Newsletter
Although there are no major feast-days in this month, there are several important saints that we remember. On the calendar date of November 1 (OS Oct 19) the church celebrates the repose of Saint John of Kronstadt, one of Russia's most famous people of recent history. Saint John was born to humble parents and had a learning disability as a child. He prayed to God to help him overcome this disability and his prayers were answered. God also revealed to him that he would be a priest of His Church. He became to pre-revolutionary Russia what Saint John the Baptist was to Israel. Saint John saw what was coming upon Russia and pleaded with her people to repent and to return to Godly ways. The church where he served would be packed with so many people that an apple thrown above the crowd would not hit the floor so closely were they together. Because of his holiness, Saint John was given the gift of healing and was called to the bedside of the poor and royalty. The story of his life is available in the church library.
On November 8 (OS Oct 26) the church celebrates the feast-day of the Great Martyr Demetrios who, like the the Great Martyr George, was a Roman soldier who suffered because he would not worship the Roman idols. On November 26 (OS Nov 13) we celebrate the feast-day of Saint John Chrysostom who was one of the greatest preachers of the church. He was archbishop of Constantinople during the 4th century. Because of his God-given gift of speaking he was given the name of Chrysostom which means “golden tongue” in Greek.
Please remember that daylight savings time ends on November 4. Remember to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night and you can enjoy that extra hour of sleep that you had to give up this past spring! The Thanksgiving Holiday this year will be fast-free so that you can enjoy the traditional meals of the day. The Nativity fasting period begins on November 28 and continues until the feast-day of Nativity on January 7 (OS Dec 25).
Saint Tikhon while archbishop of the Orthodox Church in this country blessed a special Thanksgiving service for the American Holiday of Thanksgiving. We will be doing this service on Wednesday evening, November 21, at 6:30PM. Join us in remembering on this day the real Source of all that we are and have, and offering heartfelt thanks for such blessings.
Several of our parish members and friends have special days this month.
John Gawrieh Nov 1 Namesday
Matrona Gaffney Nov 2 Namesday
Matushka Euphrosyne Carder Nov 6 Namesday
Theofil Carder Nov 10 Namesday
Thomas Harp Nov 17 Birthday
Victoria Gawrien Nov 24 Namesday
May God them many years!
Special Notice from the Diocese
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have received instructions that a statement is to be published in the parish newsletter informing our parishioners of decisions of the Holy Synod (of the Russian Orthodox Church) “concerning the impossibility of further eucharistic cummunion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople due to their continuous anti-canonical actions”.
This decision was made due to the unlawful decisions of the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on 11 October 2018:
To affirm their intention to “offer autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church”; since our Church in Ukraine has not requested this autocephaly, they are planning to give it to schismatics;
To open in Kiev several “stavropegial churches” belonging to the Patriarchate of Constantinople;
To restore to hierarchal or priestly rank the leaders of the Ukrainian schism, among whom is Philaret Denisenko, who was defrocked by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1992 and anthematised in 2007, and also to supposedly restore their followers to the communion of the Church;
To nullify a Synodal Gramota of the Patriarchate of Constantinople which transferred the Metropolia of Kiev to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1686.
The decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church means that clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church may not concelebrate with clergy of the Constantinople Church, and likewise it is forbidden for clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church to receive communion or participate in any of the Mysteries in churches of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. (This includes in America the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Archdiocese, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America).
From the fathers
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil 4:6-8).
...in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thess 5:18).
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28).
As long as you are on earth, consider yourself a guest in the household of Christ. If you are at table, it is He who honors you. If you breathe air, it is His air you breathe. If you bathe, it is His water you bathe in. If you travel, it is over His land that you travel. If you amass goods, it is His goods you amass. If you squander them it is His goods that you squander. If you are powerful, it is because He allows you to be strong. If you are in the company of men, you and the others are His guests. If you are out in nature, you are in His garden. If you are alone, He is present. If you set out somewhere, He sees you. If you do anything, He remembers it. He is the most considerate Householder Who ever hosted you. Be considerate then toward Him. In a good household, the guest is required to behave. These are all simple words, but they convey to you a great truth. All the saints knew this truth, and they governed their lives by it. That is why the Eternal Householder rewarded them with eternal life in heaven and with glory on earth. Prologue of Ohrid. Reflection for March 6.
May the above words sink deeply into our hearts and may we offer our profound appreciation and thanksgiving for our great benefits that we receive freely from All-mighty God. May we not prove to be ungrateful guests! Our forefathers in this land set aside a special holiday that we might stop from our busy doings and remember to give thanks to our Benefactor!
A brother asked Abba Poemen (4th century), “How is it possible for a man to avoid speaking evilly to his neighbor”? The old man answered and said to him, “We and our brothers possess two images. Whenever a man condemns himself, his brother appears to him beautiful and excellent; but whenever a man appears beautiful to himself, his brother will be found to be, in his sight, hateful and abominable.”
October 2018 Newsletter
During the calendar month of October we celebrate the repose of the Apostle John the Theologian, the author of the Gospel of John, on October 9. He is also known as the Apostle of Love since he taught of the necessity of loving one another as Christ loves us.
A secondary feast of the Mother of God occurs on Oct 14. This feast-day is known as the Protection of the Theotokos. The feast commemorates an event that happened at Constantinople in the year 911 A.D. During the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, a large army of Saracens was preparing to attack the city to conquer it. The pious people of the city reacted to the threat by turning to prayer. They thronged to the Church of Blachernae wherein was preserved the Robe and Veil of the Mother of God. There they raised their voices to Christ the Lord, to His Mother, the all-Holy Theotokos, pleading for mercy and help against the foe. Among the believers present was St. Andrew, a Fool-for-Christ, and his disciple, St. Epiphanius. Suddenly they saw a vision of the Virgin Mary surrounded by a choir of angels, prophets and apostles. “Do you see, brother, the Queen of all praying for the peace of the world,” asked St. Andrew? “ Indeed I see, father,” answered the disciple. The Holy Virgin appeared with outstretched arms, holding a veil over the city as a sign of protection, and imploring God's mercy upon the people. The inhabitants of the city heard of this vision to the two men, and were filled with joy and hope that this was a sign of deliverance. All night they prayed in the Church, while outside The Christian army fought against the enemy. The defenders emerged with a decisive victory. Since that time the Feast of the Protection of the Most-Holy Theotokos has been celebrated in the Church.
We are still looking for furniture to put in St. George's Inn. We need sofas, chairs, end tables, beds, lamps, etc. Please donate clean, serviceable furniture that you may have stored away. Our parish is open to be used by other parishes as a small group retreat center so we need to get St. George's Inn functional.
Mother Andrea from Queen of All Skete will be visiting our parish on Oct 8 on her way back to Virginia. Father Daniel Bethancourt from St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Shreveport, Louisiana will be visiting on Oct 16-17.
Several members and friends have special days this month:
Kenny(Evgeny) Harrison Oct 8 Namesday
Kenny Harrison Oct 9 Birthday
Elias Gawrieh Oct 14 Birthday
Dennis Stone Oct 16 Namesday
Denis Kalinin Oct 16 Namesday
John Gawrieh Oct 21 Birthday
Margaret Carder Oct 21 Birthday
Tatiana Skoumbourdis Oct 22 Birthday
Matushka Paraskeva Oct 25 Birthday
Nikita Harrison Oct 26 Birthday
Matushka Paraskeva Oct 27 Namesday
May God grant them many years!
From the fathers
“Let all creation keep festival, bedewed with the mystical waters of incorruption from the virginal font, quenching with them their deadly thirst.” Just as it is impossible to count the waves of the sea, so one cannot possibly number the miracles and benefactions manifested to the human race since that time by the Most-Holy Mother of God. From hoary-headed antiquity to this day, we see the signs of Her mercy, we hear of Her manifestations for the salvation of sinners and those who are perishing, and we sense Her maternal care.
“The Mother of God is like an unbreakable wall between God's wrath and men,” the Holy and Righteous John of Kronstadt teaches us. “She diverts the majority of the thunderclaps of heavenly justice which are prepared to punish ungrateful sinners. Frequently this wall is all that protects us, at times when we think our safety is simply in the natural order of things.”
In the Most-Pure Mother of God, all sinful mankind has found an unsleeping intercessor, an abundantly loving advocate, a mighty helper. The Queen of Heaven, filial to us in Her humanity, has exceeded all the angelic hosts in glory and has been shown to be first in godliness and after God. She is even able to turn away the righteous anger of the omnipotent Creator from the pitiful sinner if the latter runs to the protection of his Lady. Beholding Her greatness, the Holy Hierarch Dimitri of Rostov says, “If any man were to ask me what was the strongest and mightiest of all things under heaven, I would answer: there is nothing so mighty and strong on earth or in heaven, after our Lord Jesus Christ, as our Most-Pure Lady Mother of God, the Ever-Virgin Mary.”
“Mother Protectress,” the Russian Orthodox people call the Mother of God. Truly inexhaustible is Her maternal love, all forgiving and all-saving. According to the Holy and Righteous John of Kronstadt, there is not one human heart capable of loving all people with the love whereby the Mother of God loves us. Only the purist of hearts can love all people, and no person has ever possessed a heart more pure than Hers. We sinners need only remember that She is most-holy and does not love iniquity. Those who call upon the help of the Most-Pure Virgin, the treasury of purity and angelic chastity, must take special care to preserve purity of heart and life.
Today, in Russian churches, monasteries, and the homes of laymen, icons of the Savior and the Queen of Heaven are beginning one after another to stream myrrh and even blood in abundance. I have witnessed many of these wondrous signs, which now number in the thousands throughout our vast Mother Russia and in the Holy Land. What is this—a sign of mercy or a final warning? The spiritual darkness that blankets the entire world today inclines one to think that our merciful Lady s trying to warn the people against final destruction if we should fail to bring the fruits of sincere repentance, if we do not wash away our sinfulness with bitter tears and return to the path of God's righteousness.
Only the prayers of the all-forgiving Mother Protectress to the Lord who loves mankind delay the end of this world and the meting of God' justice upon unrepentant mankind. Hence, let us pray to the Queen of Heaven that She entreat her Son to open to us the bowels of His goodness and love for man and, disdaining our countless transgressions, turn us back to repentance and present us as skilled doers of His commandments.
“Let us pray to her,” urges the Holy and Righteous John of Kronstadt, “that she always stand before us as one merciful and man-loving in this life, being our fervent Intercessor and Helper, driving away from us the attacks of the demons and guiding us to salvation;that at the time of our departure from this life she might preserve our souls and drive away from us the dark countenances of evil spirits; and that on the dread day she might deliver us from eternal torment and number us with the heirs of the ineffable glory of her Son and God, which all of us, God willing, shall receive through her intercession and mediation, and the grace, compassion, and love for mankind of her only begotten Son, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, to whom is due all glory. Amen. A Homily from A Beacon of Hope, The Teaching of Father Ilarion.
September 2018 Newsletter
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 fervent 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 as 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 up 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.
Thanks be to God for the safe return of Evgeny and Anna Harrison and their son, Nikita, from Ukraine.
The heating and air-conditioning system in the church building is being replaced with a larger unit. This should provide better heating and cooling for our services. The old system had developed leaks and was obsolete.
With the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on Sept 28 the time of extended fasts has ended until the start of the Nativity Fast on Nov 28. As mentioned above in the liturgical notes there are several special fasting days this month.
The bell fund total stands at $2045.00 with the target being $3710.00.
Several of the parish members and friends have special days this month:
Andrew Couch Sept 1 Namesday/Birthday
Elizabeth Johnson Sept 5 Birthday
Dennis Stone Sept 8 Birthday
Kirill Silva Sept 19 Namesday/Birthday
Svetlana Weber Sept 27 Birthday
Lubov Harrison Sept 30 Namesday
May God grant them many years!
From the fathers
This day is particularly joyous for us, Orthodox Christians, since it visibly shows us the power of God, which conquers the laws of human nature, when through profound faith and fervent prayer, the barrenness of the righteous Anna ceases, and the Most-Holy Virgin Mary, whose name has unceasingly been on the lips of Christians for the past two thousand years, appears to the world...
In the little Galilean city of Nazareth, to barren parents, a holy virgin was born so pure and spotless, of such immeasurably great moral worth, that she was shown capable of receiving into her womb the source of purity and sanctity—God Himself. She was born from whom the source of joy was to shine forth—the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God. She was born who was destined to renew all mankind and to regenerate our faith, to bring light and joy to our hope of salvation.
Through the Nativity of the Most-Holy Virgin Mary, all mankind obtained a constant comforter, their mediatress and sleepless intercessor. She does not cease to intercede for us as the Mother of all believers, to whom we turn with filial boldness in joy and in grief. Although through Christ's Cross, we have been given all things necessary for our salvation, we are so weak and infirm that we are not always capable of directly taking advantage of God's help. We need other mediators before the Lord, of whom the Most-Holy Virgin Mary, being “more honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,” is the greatest intercessor before God for the whole human race. She is kin to us by nature and knows all our infirmities and needs through Her own life, in which She walked the same thorny path as Her Son. Whoever calls upon Her with faith, love, and firm hope, praying to Her with filial boldness, receives all that he asks from the Lord by Her prayers. Who has run to Her and has not experienced Her mercy?
Let us give thanks, therefore, to the Most-Holy Mother of God for Her great mercies to us, and ask Her not to desert us sinners at this time of life which is so difficult for us who with faith venerate Her Son and God and rightly confess His name. Truly, “thy nativity, O Mother of God Virgin, hath proclaimed joy to all the world, for from thee hath shone forth the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God.” Amen.
Excerpts from a homily on the the Nativity of the Mother of God from A Beacon of Hope, The Teachings of Father Ilarion.
August 2018 Newsletter
The calendar month of August contains two of the twelve major Feast Days of the liturgical year. The first of these special days occurs on August 19 (Aug 6 OS). It is the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. “And He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). The event is a manifestation of God to man in that our Lord revealed His Divinity to Peter, James and John through a display of His uncreated, divine energy. During this event Moses and the Prophet Elijah appeared also. Christ revealed Himself as the Messiah and the Holy Trinity made an appearance through the voice of the Father saying, “This is My beloved Son' (Matt 17:5), the presence of the Son, and the revelation of the Holy Spirit in the form of a luminous cloud. Moses represents the Law and those who have died and Elijah represents the Prophets and—since he did not die—all those who are alive in Christ.
The Transfiguration also calls us to look forward to Christ's Second Coming, when all of nature's original beauty will be restored. The faithful brings grapes, apples, and other fruits to church to be blessed and shared as a sign of this final transfiguration of everything. Grapes are a perfect symbol, growing, and changing colors as they ripen in the light. Also, in a beautiful series of gift exchanges between God and His people, certain grapes are turned into wine and offered to Him; then this sine, along with the altar bread, is turned into His Body and Blood by the action of the Holy Spirit and offered back to us. In the Holy Mysteries, the fruits of nature have become God. The Gospel proclaims that this kind of transfiguration is our destiny as well: “The the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt 13:43).
The second of these special days is that of the Dormition of the Mother of God or her physical death in the world on Aug 28 (Aug 15OS). The Theotokos was fully human and therefore subject as we are to physical death. Her departure from this world was foretold to her by an angel and sh requested that she be able to see the Apostles before her repose as the Apostles were dispersed by this time. The Apostles were brought to her bedside as by clouds with the exception of Thomas.
“The Apostles said all these things to the holy Mother of God, why they had come, and in what way; and she stretched her hands to heaven and prayed, saying: I adore, and praise, and glorify Your much to be praised name, O Lord, because You have looked upon the lowliness of Your handmaiden, and because You that are mighty have done great things for me; and, behold, all generations shall count me blessed. And after the prayer she said to the apostles: Cast incense, and pray. And when they had prayed, there was thunder from heaven, and there came a fearful voice, as if of chariots; and, behold, a multitude of a host of angels and powers, and a voice, as if of the Son of man, was heard, and the seraphim in a circle round the house where the holy, spotless Mother of God and virgin was lying, so that all who were in Bethlehem beheld all the wonderful things, and came to Jerusalem and reported all the wonderful things that had come to pass. (From the Apocryphal Book of St. John the Theologian).
The Apostles buried her on the site where her parents had been buried. Three days later the Apostle Thomas appeared and in his sorrow requested to see her body. The grave was opened and her body was no longer there. Her soul and body had been taken by her Son to be with Him in heaven. From there she is a constant intercessor and helper when we call upon her. She is proof of the promised Resurrection.
The fasting period related to the Dormition of the Theotokos begins on Aug 14 and ends on Aug 28.
Anna Harrison and her son, Nikita, will be traveling to Ukraine this month so please keep them in your prayers for a safe journey.
As school will be starting this month for some of our members we will read the prayers for the beginning of the school year following Divine Liturgy on Aug 12.
The bell fund now has $1905.00.
Several of our members and friends have special days this month:
Elias Gawrieh Aug 2 Namesday
Fr David Carder Aug 11 Birthday
Marina deFligue Aug 15 Birthday
Subdeacon George Gawrieh Aug 21 Birthday
Matushka Euphrosyne Carder Aug 24 Birthday
Tatiana Stone Aug 25 Birthday
Maximus Olsen Aug 26 Birthday
from the Fathers
...Why did the Lord take only three disciples onto Tabor, and not all? Because Judas was not worthy to behold the divine glory of the Teacher, Whom he would betray; and the Lord did not want to leave him alone at the foot of the mountain, so that the betrayer would not, because of this, justify his betrayal. Why was our Lord transfigured on a mountain and not in a valley? So as to teach us two virtues: love of labor and godly thoughts—for climbing to the heights requires labor, and the heights themselves represent the elevation of our thoughts to the things of God. Why was our Lord transfigured at night? Because the night is more suitable than the day for prayer and godly thoughts; and the night, by its darkness, conceals all the beauty of the earth, and reveals the beauty of the starry heavens. Why did Moses and Elias appear? In order to destroy the Jewish fallacy that Christ was one of the prophets—Elias or Jeremiah or some other. That is why He appeared as a King, above the prophets, and that is why Moses and Elias appeared as His servants. Until then, our Lord had manifested His divine power many times to the disciples; but on Mount Tabor He manifested His Divine Nature. This vision of His Divinity, and the hearing of the heavenly witness to His being the Son of God, must have served the disciples in the days of the Lord's passion—in the strengthening of a steadfast faith in Him and in His final victory. Commentary on the Transfiguration from The Prologue of Ohrid by St. Nikolai Velimirovic.
July 2018 Newsletter
The calendar month of July begins in the in the middle of the Apostles' fasting period. On July 7 the Church celebrates the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. On July 12 we celebrate the Feast Day of the Apostles Peter and Paul. This Feast Day ends the Apostles' Fasting period and we resume the normal fast days of Wednesday and Friday. This will continue until August 14 when we begin the two week Dormition Fast.
Other important days this month include the feast day of the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia on July 17 and the feast day of Holy Great Prince Vladimir of Rus on July 28.
Congratulations To Reverend Father David Carder and Matushka Euphrosyne upon his ordination to the priesthood and June 10. Our parish was blessed to have Fr. David serve the Divine Liturgy here throughout the week following his ordination. He began serving priestly services at Seeker of the Lost Orthodox Mission in Little Rock on June 18. God grant them many years!
Luba Harrison is still abroad in Russia. Pray for her safe return soon.
Our Bell fund continues to grow. At present we have $1615.00 toward the $1855.00 we need to place the order. After the order is placed then there will be a six month completion period to receive the new bell.
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 Jul 10 Namesday
Elizaveta Shkurina Jul 18 Namesday
Elisabeth Olsen Jul 18 Namesday
Theofil Carder Jul 23 Birthday
Ksenia Couch Jul 24 Birthday
Marina deFligue Jul 30 Namesday
From the fathers
People were not created merely to live here on earth like animals that disappear after their death, but to live with God and in God, and to live not for a hundred or a thousand years, but to live eternally. But only Christians can live with God; that is to say, those who rightly believe in Jesus Christ.
Everyone, whoever he may be, desires and seeks prosperity and happiness. To desire what is good for oneself and to seek prosperity or happiness is part of man's nature, and therefore it is not a sin or vice. But we need to know that here on earth there has not been, and is not, and never will be true and perfect happiness and prosperity; for all our prosperity and happiness is only in God. No one will ever find true happiness and perfect prosperity without God or outside God.
Nothing in this world but God can fill our heart or fully satisfy our desires. A fire cannot be put out with brushwood and oil, because only water will put it out. In exactly the same way, the desires of the human heart cannot be satisfied with the goods of this world, because only the grace of God can quench the thirst of our desires.
Everything we desire pleases us only so long as we do not possess it; and when we get it, we soon get tired of it. Or only what we do not as yet have seems to us good and attractive; while all that we have, even though it is the very best, is either not enough for us or does not attract us. A good example of this is King Solomon who, as is well known, was so rich that all the household plate and furniture in his palaces was of pure gold; he was so wise that kings came to visit him; and he was so glorious that his foes were terrified of him. Being wiser and mightier than all his contemporaries, he was able to satisfy all his wishes and desires, so that there was hardly a thing in the world which he did not possess or could not obtain. But with all this he could not satisfy his heart, and the desires of his heart wearied and tormented him far more than an ordinary man; and in the end, having tried everything in the world, he said in his writings: Everything in this world is vanity, and nothing can satisfy our desires.
Truly not a single earthly pleasure can satisfy our heart. We are strangers on earth, pilgrims and travelers; our home and fatherland are there in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom; and there do not exist on earth things which could perfectly satisfy our desires. Let a man own the whole world and all that is in the world, yet all that will not interest him for more than a minute, so to speak, and it will never satisfy his heart; for the heart of man can be fully satisfied only by the love of God,/ and therefore God alone an fill the heart and soul of man and quench the thirst of his desires.
And so, do you wish to live with God there, in the Kingdom of Heaven? Be an Orthodox Christian. Do you want prosperity and happiness? Seek it in God. Do you want your heart to be full satisfied? Turn it to God from Whom you have been separated by your sins.
However, no one by himself, without Jesus Christ, can turn and draw near to God, because our sins, like a high wall, do not let us come to Him. And unless Jesus Christ in His mercy to us had come down to earth, and unless He had taken to Himself our human flesh and by His death destroyed the wall which separated us from God, everyone would have perished and not a single soul could have drawn near to God or lived with Him. For everyone is a sinner and is born in sin from his mother's womb; and even in an infant, though it knows nothing of the world and does nothing, there is already the seed of sin.
Therefore Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, Savior, Deliverer and Benefactor. Now everyone who wants to do son can return to God and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
But there is only one way into the Kingdom of Heaven, and that is the very way that Jesus Christ went when He lived on earth. There is no other way, and never was and never will be, for Jesus Christ said: I am the way, and if anyone wishes to follow Me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. Excerpts from Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven by Bishop Innocent of Kamchatka.
Note: For those who would like to continue reading this book it is available in the bookstore and the library.
June 2018 Newsletter
Because of the date of Pascha this year the calendar month of June is free of major liturgical feast days. It is, however, consumed in the Apostle's fasting period which begins on June 4 and lasts until July 11 this year. We also say goodbye to the season of the Pentecost on Saturday, June 2. With this leave taking we move into the summer months of Sundays identified by the sequence from Pentecost, i.e., the first Sunday after Pentecost, etc. This numbering of Sundays continues until Great Lent in 2019.
Our parish feast day, All Saints of America, occurs on Sunday, June 10. Please note this on your calendar. We also celebrate the feast day of St. John of San Francisco and Shanghai on Saturday, June 30.
As we celebrate our parish feast day here on June 10 Fr. Deacon David Carder will be in Chicago at the cathedral awaiting ordination to the priesthood to serve the new ROCOR mission in Little Rock. He will graduate from the diocesan Pastoral School on June 9 where he has performed admirably and will defend his thesis before a panel of school instructors and Archbishop Peter. Please keep him and his family in your prayers during this period. We will lose them as parish members but for a blessed reason!
Congratulations to Steven Johnson who was baptized on Saturday, May 26, before the Feast of Pentecost. May God grant him many years in the Community of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Please keep Lubov Harrison in your prayers for she is visiting Russia after some medical treatments last summer.
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 June 20 Namesday
Yelisey Fitzgerald June 27 Namesday
Monica Olsen June 28 Namesday
From the fathers
It is needful for everyone to prepare for sorrows. Without acknowledging oneself to be worthy of sorrows for one's fallen state it is impossible to come to know the Savior. There is the example of the two thieves. When someone gives himself over to God's will, the spiritual power of faith and spiritual consolation appear in his heart. A sorrowless life is a sign of the lack of God's favor. One ought not to envy those who live without sorrows, for the end of their lack of sorrows is lamentable. Temptations and sorrows disclose the state of a man's soul. Expressed in modern language, it is, as it as were, a kind of examination. Sorrows protect one from haughtiness. To give oneself over to God is to give oneself over to His will for us, to the Church and its teachings and Mysteries, and to the Gospel teachings. To give oneself over to sorrows through one's own will is audacity, pride, and foolishness. Accept what God sends. The fruit of sorrows is the purification of the soul and in a spiritual state that must be preserved. People are only instruments in our afflictions, but they have no power over us. And so, endure everything!
Elder Alexander of Gethsemane Skete said, “As much as a soul can endure sorrows, that is how much of God's grace it can hold.”
...If someone happens to stumble, to fall unintentionally, involuntarily, he can be healed by repentance, tears, and the consciousness of his own feebleness, if he does not refuse in advance to fight against himself, against sin that fights against us.
...St. Mark the Ascetic says: “Everyone receives what he deserves in accordance with his inner state. But only God understands the many different ways in which this happens.”...This refers to what the Lord allows a person to endure—or, to say it another way, to sorrows. If sorrows depend on our own state of soul, we have not one to complain against. Let us humble ourselves and endure....But confession before one's spiritual father is essential, to purify oneself from the filth of sin, to receive the remission of the sin committed, and as an interior work of the soul for the acquisition of a repentant state.
Bishop Theophan of Vysha, the Recluse, gives wonderful teaching about confession and says, among other things: “You must bring repentance of a sin or sins at Confession to such a level that your spiritual father definitely and precisely understands what has been done and forms a correct understanding about you, about what kind of person your are; so that you do not, by suing tricks in the Confession, present yourself to your spiritual father in a way that is not how you really are. You must especially not allow yourself to throw blame on others, while seeking excuses and justifications for yourself. Such a Confession does not give one peace in spiritual life. The soul comes to life through sincere repentance, which is foreign to cunning. A truly repentant person is ready to endure any penance from is spiritual father, as well as everything sorrowful and humbling that the Lord permits to befall him, if only he can receive forgiveness.”
A characteristic of true repentance is that it opens one's eyes to one' own sinfulness and to sin in general.
Sorrows expose our evil thoughts, and when we have revealed these thoughts to ourselves, we are humbled.
Our sorrows, in their outward appearance, are unlike our faults, but in a spiritual sense they justly correspond to them.
...Sorrows are allowed in order to disclose who really loves God. Without the endurance of sorrows even a thankful soul is not fit for the Kingdom of God. The steadfast endurance of sorrows is equal in honor to martyrdom. Sorrows mean nothing in comparison with spiritual blessings. Excerpts from The Spiritual Testament of St. Nikon of Optina: Notes from Prison. The Orthodox Word, Vol. 52, No. 5 (310.)
May 2018 Newsletter
The calendar month of May contains two of the twelve major liturgical feast days: the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ on May 17 and the Descent of the Holy Spirit/Pentecost on May 27.
“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, 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 them that Christ would return in the same manner. The apostles were to follow His instructions and wait to receive the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem.
The Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit/Pentecost follows fifty days after the Feast of the Resurrection and is celebrated on Sunday, May 27. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I no 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: Of righteousness, because I go to MY Father, and ye shall see Me no more: Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear 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, the shall He speak: And He will shew you things to come.” (John 16:7-13).
Ten days after Christ's Ascension, His followers gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Old Testament Feast of 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 week following Pentecost is fast-free.
Father Deacon David Carder is in his final semester of Pastoral School and will present his thesis in May for graduation in June. Support him with your prayers in this work. If all goes as planned he will be ordained to the priesthood to serve the new ROCOR mission in Little Rock upon graduation. May God bless him and his family for their future work in the Body of Christ. An appropriate building has be leased and construction on the new mission continues. Any financial assistance will be greatly appreciated. Talk with Fr. Dn. David concerning any questions about the new mission.
The bell fund authorized at our last parish business meeting now has $1285.00 toward the $1855.00 deposit to order the bell construction. Glory be to God and the generosity of our benefactors. There will be a six month time for construction after placing the order.
Several members and friends of our parish have special days this month:
Daria Zharskaya May 4 Birthday
Fr. George May 6 Namesday
Subdn. George Gawrieh 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
For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come (Heb. 13:140.
Brethren, where are the great cities of Babylon and Nineveh? Today, only lizards lie in the dust of their towers. Memphis and Thebes, were they not the pride of the pharaohs and princes of mankind? Today, it is difficult to find the exact place where these two cities had been located.
However, let us leave these cities of stone and brick. Let us look at the cities of blood, flesh and bones. Men fashion the cities of their bodies more slowly and more painstakingly than they fashion fortresses and cathedrals. Men spend about eighty to a hundred years in fashioning the cities of their bodies and, in the end, see that their efforts are in vain. That which took them decades to fashion, with care and constant fear, collapses into the dust of the grave in the twinkling of an eye. Whose bodily city is not toppled over and turned into dust? No one's.
But let us leave the cities of the body. Let us look at the cities of happiness, which men have built from generation to generation. The materials from which these cities are built are merriment, pleasure, property, authority, honor and glory. Where are these cities? Like a cobweb they are woven around man in an instant, and like a cobweb they break and vanish, making the fortunate more unfortunate than the unfortunate.
Truly, we have no city here that will remain. That is why we seek the city that is to come. This is the city built of spirit, life and truth. This is the city whose one and only Architect is the Lord Jesus Christ. This city is called the Kingdom of Heaven, eternal life, the dwelling place of the angels, the haven of saints and the refuge of martyrs. In this city there is no dualism of good and evil, but everlasting is a harmony of good. Everything that is built in this city is built to last forever. Every brick in this city will remain and endure without end; these bricks are living angels and men. In this city the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is enthroned and reigns.
O resurrected Lord, redeem us from beneath the ruins of time, and lead us mercifully into Thine eternal city of heaven.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
Homily on April 12th from The Prologue of Ohrid by St. Nikolai Velimirovic.
...Thou didst call us from nonbeing into being, and when we had fallen away, Thou didst raise us up again, and dist not cease to do all things until Thou hadst brought up up to heaven, and hadst bestowed upon us Thy kingdom which is to come. For all these things we give thanks unto Thee, to Thine Only-begotten Son, and to Thy Holy Spirit, for all the things whereof we know, and whereof we know not, for the benefits both manifest and hidden which have come upon us. Excerpts from a silent prayer said by the priest during Divine Liturgy.
April 2018 Newsletter
The calendar month of April contains three major feast days of the liturgical calendar, Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, Palm Sunday, and Pascha. Because of the early date of Pascha this year the Feast Day of Annunciation on April 7 occurs on Holy Saturday, an unusual event. The Annunciation 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 the Messiah and those who wanted to make Him king. His entry in to the city was greeted with jubilation by some and mistrust by others. He enters not as a king in a royal chariot but humbly on a donkey fulfilling the sayings of the prophets. Palm Sunday ends the season of Great Lent.
After Palm Sunday the Church enters Holy Week following our Lord through His physical suffering in preparation for the joyous Resurrection of Pascha. See the Holy Week schedule for services. Some things change during Holy Week. After Holy Wednesday we no longer say the prayer of St. Ephraim daily as we have throughout Great Lent. The liturgical color changes to black from the Lenten purple color. This somber black color remains until Vespers of Holy Saturday.
The Holy Unction service is scheduled for Holy Wednesday. Since this is a forgiveness service the Church says that confession should be made prior to receiving the anointing of the Holy Oil. Father George will be available to hear confessions before the service which begins at 7:00PM.
Following Pascha there is a fast-free “Bright Week” where we continue the Paschal celebration. We enter the time when we do not make prostrations in the Church nor do we invoke the Holy Spirit when we begin our daily prayers. Following the Resurrection of Christ the holy Apostles were awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit as Christ had promised them so the Church awaits with them. So we do not say “O Heavenly King, Comforter....” but replace the invocation with “Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death be 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 the Ascension on May 17.
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 are always welcome.
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
Constantin Skoumbourdis April 5 Birthday
Elizabeth Olsen April 10 Birthday
Maria Silva April 14 Namesday
Athanasia Vasakis April 25 Namesday
God grant them many years!
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
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
The Son of God assumed human nature, and in it He endured all that belongs to the human condition. This is a remedy for mankind of a power beyond our imagining. Could any pride be cured, if the humility of God's Son does not cure it? Could any greed be cured, if the poverty of God's Son does not cure it? Or any anger, if the patience of God's Son does not cure it? Or any coldness, if the love of God's Son does not cure it? Lastly, what fearfulness can be cured, if it is not cured by the resurrection of the body of Christ the Lord? Let mankind raise its hopes, and recognize its own nature: let it observe how high a place it has in the works of God. Do not despise yourselves, you man: the Son of God assumed manhood. Do not despise yourselves, you women: God's Son was born of a woman. But do not set your hearts on the satisfactions of the body, for in the Son of God we are 'neither male or female' (Gal. 3:28). Do not set your heart on temporal rewards: if it were good to do so, that human nature which God's Son assumed would have thus set its heart. Do not fear insults, crosses and death: for if they did man harm, the humanity which God' Son assumed would not have endured them.
Blessed Augustine of Hippo. On the Christian Struggle.
March 2018 Newsletter
The entire month of March is within the Great Lenten fast with several exceptional days when wine and oil are allowed. The restriction on oil applies to olive oil. With the later production of vegetable oils these oils are allowed during the fasting period. This is analogous to the restriction on butter versus margarine since the quality and taste of the two(olive oil and butter) cannot be compared to the imitation(vegetable oil and margarine).
During this month we celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great on Sundays. The music for this Liturgy is somewhat different from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the quiet prayers that the priest recites are longer. You might experience some quiet moments during these Lenten Liturgies. The weekly Liturgy is that of the Presanctified Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great. This Lenten Liturgy starts with Vespers and finishes with partaking of the Presanctified Host to give us strength during this fasting time. The Presanctified Liturgy is served at 6:30 PM. One should prepare themselves by the appropriated pre-Communion prayers and by abstaining from food and drink from noon of the day if they desire to partake of the Holy Mysteries.
On March 9 the Church celebrates the 1st and 2nd findings of the Head of St. John the Baptist. The Presanctified Liturgy for this feast will be on March 8 at 6:30PM. On March 21 we read the entire Great Canon of St. Andrew during the Matins service in the evening beginning at 6:30PM.
On March 28 our parish will host a visit of the Kurst-Root Wonderingworking Icon of the Mother of God. As of now we plan an afternoon moleban service at 1:00PM and an akathist service at 6:30PM. For the past years each visit by this Icon has been a great blessing for us as will this year be also. The Icon will depart from our parish on the morning of March 29.
Congratulations to the reelected officers of the parish from the Business meeting on Feb 25. The same officers will serve for another term. May God bless their service.
At the same meeting the parish decided to set up a 'Bell Fund'. One of the smaller has cracked and the supplier has offered to refund our money on a deposit on another bell. When we originally ordered the larger bells they came as a set of five but we only ordered four of the five due to the cost at the time. We can now complete the set of five by ordering the last bell which cost $3,700.00. Those wishing to donate to this bell fund should annotate their donations for the 'bell fund' These donations can be done in the memory of a loved one or friend.
On Feb 12 and 13 our dean, Fr. Martin Swanson, and the Diocesan secretary, Fr. Gregory Joyce, visited our parish to discuss future options for our facility. We discussed opening our facility for group retreats with plans beginning in the fall season of this year. More to come on this subject as plans develop.
As weather permits and funds are available the parish will be completing the installation of St. George's Inn with the addition of front and rear porches. A planning committee was appointed at the business meeting to design the porches.
Several members and friends have special days this month:
Ricky Harrison Mar 3 Birthday
Luba Harrison Mar 10 Birthday
Janet Gawrieh Mar 10 Birthday
Valeriya Downs Mar 14 Birthday
Maria Silva Mar 21 Birthday
Maria Silva Mar 25 Namesday (Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt)
God grant them many years!
From the Fathers
Thanks be to the Lord God for having vouchsafed us to celebrate so great and sacred a time as the Holy Forty-Day Fast...Today, we, too, begin to conquer our passions and vices, that we may be spiritualized. Of course, this is a difficult labor—it is not easy to fast for forty days...The holy fathers said—and we need to remember this well—that neither virtue, nor fasting, nor prostrations, nor sorrowing,nor our standing in prayer will save us by themselves. It is Christ alone who saves us. This is what we lay as the foundation of our fast: living in Christ, in faith. We must desire Christ more than the air we breathe. He comes through our spiritual activity, through union with Him. Do not look for Him millions of miles away: He is here; He is closer that the air, closer than the oxygen. Excerpted from a homily on the first Sunday of Great Lent from A Beacon of Hope, The Teaching of Father Ilarion.
'Let your loins be girded and your candles burning' (Luke 12:35). This is the commandment of Him who knows the weakness of our being, and who desires our good more than do our father and mother. It is the commandment of our Lord who loves mankind. When a man is ungirded, does not his whole body droop downwards? If he is belted and girded, does not his whole body stand straight like a candle? Like candles, so our souls must stand upright before God. How shall our souls stand upright before God if unrestrained bodily, earthly passions and lusts weigh them down? Lo, between the loins is the home of the greatest physical passions. To gird the loins means to brace oneself by restraint and not to let oneself go with willful passions. But by girding of the physical loins is not the goal but serves more easily to gird up our mind, heart and will. Physical restraint is the first lesson in the formation of our Christian character; after that come harder lessons, in which we learn the restraint of the mind, the restraint of the heart and the will. If we gird our mind, then we do not find in it a place for lustful thoughts. If we gird our heart, we do not find in it a place for lustful desires. If we gird our will, then we do not find in it a place for evil, bestial and demonic desires.
The narrow way, my brothers, leads to the Kingdom of God. Only in restraint of mind, heart and will can the candles of virtue be lit, the flames of which rise up before God. We must, under the image of burning candles, understand the Christian virtues. St. Nikolai Velimirovic. Prologue of Ohrid, 18 January.
February 2018 Newsletter
The calendar month of February contains one of the major twelve Feast Days of the liturgical year, The Meeting of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the temple. This day celebrates the forty-day dedication of the first-born child according to the Law given by Moses (Ex. 13:1-2, 14-15). And so Mary and Joseph came after forty days of purification to the Temple to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24).
Now there was a righteous and devout man named Simeon who had been guided to the Temple by the Holy Spirit. Simeon had been assigned to translate the Book of Isaiah from Hebrew to Greek in the year 270 B.C. When he came to the passage saying that a virgin should conceive and bear a son Simeon started to change the word virgin to young woman. An angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him not to do so and that Simeon would live to see this happen. Simeon's appearance in the temple was a fulfillment of this saying. (Note: Simeon must have been about 300 years old at this point).
St. Simeon, representing the Old Testament, took the Christ Child in his arms, and the Old and the New Testaments stood together: the Old, departing, held in its arms and blessed the New. Simeon was granted more than had been granted to any other man before him; he held the Almighty God in his arms and to him were revealed both the Glory and the Way of the Cross of his God: “for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:30).
As in ancient times today we bring our children at the fortieth day to be presented to the Lord and we bind them over to God. Baptized and sanctified by grace, our children, by being made members of the Church, take their first steps upon the way of grace and the way of the Cross that lies before those who would follow Christ.
On Sunday, Jan 28, we begin the first of the three preparatory Sundays leading up to Great Lent which begins on Feb 19. On Monday, Feb 12 we drop meat from our diet and enter Cheese-fare week where we consume the rest of any remaining dairy products finishing with Cheese-fare Sunday, Feb 18.
Congratulations to Kenny (Evgeny) and Anna Harrison on the blessing of their marriage on Sunday, Jan 28. God grant them many years of holy marriage. Please keep Ksenia Couch in your prayers as she is in Russian awaiting a medical procedure.
The annual parish business meeting is scheduled for Sunday, Feb 25, at 1:30PM. The parish reviews the previous year and set new goals for the coming year. Mark your calendars and plan to be there for the meeting.
Several of our members and friends have special days this month:
Maximus Olsen Feb 3 Namesday
Spyridon Murphy Feb 4 Birthday
Ksenia Couch Feb 6 Namesday
Ksenia Fitzgerald Feb 6 Namesday
Theodore Morcan Feb 21 Namesday
Theodora Morcan Feb 24 Namesday
Andrew Sawyer Feb 25 Birthday
Nikolai Gaffney Feb 27 Birthday
May God grant them many years!
from the Fathers
...Just as the children of Israel ate the 'bread of affliction' (Deut. 16:3) in preparation for the Passover so Christians prepare themselves for the celebration of the New Passover by observing a fast. But what is meant by this word 'fast'? Here the utmost care is needed, so as to preserve a proper balance between the outward and inward On the outward level fasting involves physical abstinence from food and drink, and without such exterior abstinence a full and true fast cannot be kept; yet the rules about eating and drinking must never be treated as an end in themselves, for ascetic fasting has always an inward and unseen purpose. Man is a unity of body and soul, 'a living creature fashioned from natures visible and invisible', in the words of the Triodion; and our ascetic fasting should therefore involve both natures at once. The tendency to over-emphasize external rules about food in a legalistic way, and the opposite tendency to scorn these rules as outdated and unnecessary, are both alike to be deplored as a betrayal of true Orthodoxy. In both cases the proper balance between the outward and the inward has been impaired.
...One reason for this decline in fasting is surely a heretical attitude towards human nature, a false 'spiritualism' which rejects or ignores the body, viewing man solely in terms of his reasoning brain. As a result, many contemporary Christians have lost a true vision of man as an integral unity of the visible and the invisible; they neglect the positive role played by the body in the spiritual life, forgetting St. Paul's affirmation: 'Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit...glorify God with your body' (I Cor 6:19-20). Another reason for the decline in fasting among Orthodox is the argument, commonly advanced in our times, that the traditional rules are no longer possible today. These rules presuppose, so it is urged, a closely organized, non-pluralistic Christian society, following an agricultural way of life that is now increasingly a thing of the past. There is a measure of truth in this. But is needs also to be said that fasting, has always been difficult and has always involved hardship....Why should the self-denial gladly accepted by previous generations of Orthodox prove such a intolerable burden to their successors today? Once St. Seraphim of Sarov was asked why the miracles of grace, so abundantly manifest in the past, were no longer apparent in his own day, and to this he replied: 'Only one thing is lacking—a firm resolve'.
The primary aim of fasting is to make us conscious of our dependence upon God. If practised seriously, the Lenten abstinence from food particularly in the opening days-involves a considerable measure of real hunger, and also a feeling of tiredness and physical exhaustion. The purpose of this is to lead us in turn to a sense of inward brokenness and contrition; to bring us, that is, to the point where we appreciate the full force of Christ's statement, 'Without Me you can do nothing' (Luke 18: 10-13). Excerpts from The Lenten Triodion.
During Great Lent we add additional prayers to our daily effort. The following prayer attributed to St. Ephraim the Syrian is added to our prayer rule and read three times a day during this period.
O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talk give me not.
Bur rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me, Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother, for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.
January 2018 Newsletter
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 5 with the Royal Hours of the Nativity of our Lord. The services of Nativity will be celebrated on the Saturday with vespers and vigil. Divine Liturgy for the Nativity will be celebrated on Sunday Jan 7, at 10:00AM. 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. 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 Orthodox Church.
The third of these days is the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ. This day commemorates the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan river by St. John the Baptist. This occurs on Jan 19. 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 Great Blessing of Water is performed during this 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.
The eve of 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.
Work on getting St. Georges Inn operational is still in progress. The electrical, water and sewage systems are in place but there is still a problem with the HVAC unit. Work is in progress on that system. The Inn will require entry steps and a deck for the front door. A queen size bed has been donated as well as a dining room table and chairs. Look around and see if you might have some appropriate furniture in good shape for the bed rooms. Any donations of money or labor toward completing this project will be gratefully appreciated.
Several of our members and friends have special days this month:
Carmen Maria Montero Jan 8 Birthday/Namesday
Fr. Deacon David Carder Jan 8 Namesday
Tatiana Skoumbourdis Jan 25 Namesday
Tatiana Stone Jan 25 Namesday
Anton Khudoley Jan 30 Namesday
God grant them many years!
From the fathers
...From the foundation of the world, no mortal man had risen to greater power than Caesar Augustus, who ruled without rival over the whole world;...In this time of external peace and internal despair, the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race and the Renewer of all creation, was born. Why was He not born as the son of the powerful Caesar; able, with one single edict, to impose a new religion, with not suffering or humiliation, without blood and a crown of thorns, without the Cross and the dark grave?
...In order that we should show up this folly for what it is,...we shall at once give the reminder that God created the first man out of the greatness of His love, and that man's being is based on two principles: on freedom and on humble obedience....Adam had to test his humble obedience on one, single commandment given by God, and on one, single thing in Paradise-on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil....But as soon as Eve and Adam drew near to the tree of testing, they sinned: their humility turned to pride, their faith to doubt and their obedience to disobedience.
God could have fenced the tree in Paradise about with fire of such intensity that Adam and Eve were unable to approach it. But where, then, would have been the freedom of this lovely being created by God, of man the little God? Where would have been the difference between him and all other creatures, who had not been given this freedom?
God could have had the Savior born in Rome, to be called Caesar's son and, by decree-by fire and the sword, as with Mahomet, impose the new Faith on mankind....God could have chosen a still quicker way....simply have sent a whole army of His holy angels to blow their trumpets....and men would have fallen to their knees in fear and trembling...where would have been the beauty of human freedom, and the beauty of humble obedience before the Creator?
The Lord Jesus had to show as clearly as the sun four things, that man, astray and with a darkened mind, had cast into oblivion: the humble, filial obedience of man towards God, God's fatherly love towards men, the lost, kingly freedom of man and, lastly, the imperial power of God.
The Lord Jesus showed humble, filial obedience in deciding to be born as a man in the flesh. For the humiliated body of man was, to Him, a cave even more humiliating that that of Bethlehem. Furthermore, He showed His humble obedience by being born in poverty, with none of the necessities of life: into a little-known nation, in an even less-known village and of a mother completely unknown to the world. The New Adam had to heal the old Adam of disobedience and pride. The medicine was obedience and humility. This is why the Lord did not appear to the world from proud Rome but from Bethlehem, and not from the self-proclaimed divine House of Augustus but from the repentant and humble House of David.
The fatherly love of God was revealed by the Lord Jesus in His suffering with and for mankind... Man's kingly freedom over nature, over his own bodily and emotional nature as over his physical nature in the round, were shown by the Lord Jesus in His long fasts, His fearlessness in the face of all the dangers and discomforts of life, and His divine miracles, by which His total power over nature was revealed....The Lord Jesus showed God's imperial power over life and death most clearly by His own glorious Resurrection from the tomb. Excerpts from a homily on Nativity by St. Nikolai Velimirovic.
December 2017 Newsletter
The calendar month of December is completely in the Nativity Fasting period. This is a period of forty days of preparation prior to the Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. In length like Great Lent prior to Pascha, this fast is not as strict wherefore fish is allowed on weekends and special feast-days during the week. However, like Great Lent, the Nativity fast is not optional for Orthodox Christians and must be observed to the best of one's ability. There are exceptions to the rule of fasting but these must be discussed with the priest.
December 4 (Nov 21 OS) is the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos. This one of the twelve major feast-days of the liturgical year and commemorates the taking of the three year old Virgin Mary to the temple by her parents. Since the Virgin Mary was a miraculous gift to the aged parents, they decided that she would be dedicated to God. She was taken to be raised with the other virgins in the temple in Jerusalem. The young Virgin ran up the steps of the temple and as she reached the top she was met by Zacharias, the future father of Saint John the Baptist. Zacharias was a priest and was serving in the temple at this time. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and carried the young Virgin into the temple and into the Holy of Holies, the sacred place where only the high priest entered once a year. The Virgin Mary was to be the Holy of Holies as she would contain god Incarnate within her womb and carry Him in her arms. The young Virgin would be raised in the temple dedicating her life to prayer, fasting, and perpetual virginity. The angels attended her as she grew.
On December 19 (Dec 6 OS) the Church celebrates the feast-day of Saint Nicholas who is revered throughout the world as a great intercessor before God. His life may be read in the The Prologue of Orhid which is available in the church library. December 25 (Dec 12 OS) is the feast-day of Saint Herman of Alaska, one of the patron saints of our parish. Saint Herman was one of the seven initial missionaries sent to Alaska in 1794 to teach the native Alaskans Christianity. He was a wonder-worker both during his earthly life and now in his eternal life.
We will welcome two new members into the parish this month. Margaret Elizabeth Carder will be baptized on Dec 2 at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Little Rock, AR and Nikita Daren Harrison will be baptized on Saturday, Dec 9, at 10:00AM here at All Saints. Glory be to God!
Commercialism can easily overtake the real meaning for the time of Christmas with all of the tinsel, glitter, advertising, and shopping associated with this time of year. Struggle to remember the glorious Incarnation of our Lord Jesus. We are blessed to be on the old calendar for our celebration takes us past the distraction of Western Christmas. Remember that it is also a time for sharing the wealth that God has given us with others who are less fortunate in the spirit of Saint Nicholas. This generosity can open our hearts more fully to God's greatest gift to us, His Son our Savior.
Our parish students will be enduring end of semester testing during December. May God give them strength and wisdom to do well on their tests.
There are members and friends of our parish who have special days this month:
Deacon Nicholas Olsen Dec 7 Birthday
Nicholas Gaffney Dec 7 Birthday
Andrew Sawyer Dec 13 Namesday
Deacon Nicholas Olsen Dec 19 Namesday
Nicholas Gaffney Dec 19 Namesday
Nikolai Gaffney Dec 19 Namesday
Deacon David Carder Dec 24 Namesday
Spyridon Murphy Dec 25 Namesday
God grant them many years!
From the fathers
Let there then be two ways of a most holy life, and let the one secure the goodness of him who practices it, but the other of his neighbor also...Hear ( from Paul) what his language is to one and to the other. “Let no man seek his own, but every man anther's wealth.) (I Cor. 10;24) ...Again, “Let every one of you please his neighbor for good to edification” ...”For even Christ did not please Himself” (Rom. 15:2.,3) ...Hear then Paul in this matter also saying, “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing” (I Cor 13:3).
St. John Chrysostom Homily 37 on Matthew 24.
You ask, “Must one do something?” Of course one must! And do whatever comes along-in your circle of friends and in your surroundings—and believe that this is and will be your real work. More will not be demanded of you. It is a great misconception to think, whether for the sake of heaven or, as the modernists put it, to “make one's mark on humanity,” that one must undertake great, reverberating tasks. Not at all. It is necessary only to do everything according to the commandments of God. Just what exactly? Nothing in particular-only those things which present themselves to everyone in the circumstances of life, those things which are required by every day happenings we all encounter. This is how God is. God arranges the fate of each man, and the whole course of one's life is also the work of His most gracious foreknowledge, as is , therefore, every minute and every encounter. Let's take an example: a beggar comes up to you; it is God who has brought him. What should you do? You must help him. God has brought the beggar, of course, desiring you to act toward this beggar in a manner pleasing to Him, and He watches to see what you will actually do ...If you do what is pleasing to God, you will be taking a step toward the ultimate goal, the inheritance of heaven. Generalize this occurrence, and you find that in every situation and at every encounter one must do what God wants him to do. And we know truly what He wants from the commandments He has given us. If someone seeks help, then help him. If someone has offended you, forgive him. If you yourself have offended someone, then hasten to ask forgiveness and to make peace. St. Theophan the Recluse. Letter to a Young Girl.