Academy Newsletters


July 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

The Holy Spirit
Annunciation and Pentecost
(From St. John of Damascus and the OSB Septuagint Old Testament)

In loving obedience, the Lord's messenger came to Mary, the Virgin of prophecy. Yet being of the disgraced House of David and from the womb of Anna, this seemed near impossible. However, with glad tidings, the grace of the Holy Spirit became known, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with thee." While pondering such words, the angel said to her, "Fear not, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You shall bring forth a Son, to be named Jesus." His name lets us know He will deliverer and save the faithful from their trespasses. Then she asks, "How can this be, since I know not a man?" The angel responds, "The Holy Spirit shall came upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore the Holy One, whom shall be born from thee, shall be called the Son of God." She offered in respond, "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me according to Your word." Such is the wonder of the Holy Spirit.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

June 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Pentecost and the Holy Spirit
A Promised First-Fruit of Our Father

After being baptized, Jesus emerges from the dark waters, with the heavens being opened unto Him. It was here He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, to rest upon Him. "Suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt 3:17) "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matt 4:1).

From John 7:39, we read, "But this He spoke, concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would be receiving. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was yet glorified. Then John 14:26 tells us, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all the things I said to you.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

May 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Metropolitan Philip
May His Memory Be Eternal!

So many memories flood my mind as I reflect on the passing of Metropolitan Philip. He was a great visionary for North America and the Orthodox faith. This surely included the St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, for it would be impossible to overstate his support, from day one, of our being Orthodox. As with all such visionary, he recognized the potential of this Academy and was supportive in every way. He acknowledging our achievements, supported it financially, while blessing us with his constant encouragement.

Some may not fully understand the integral role St. Athanasius Academy played in the "Evangelical Orthodox" becoming, canonically, Orthodox. It was here much of the research and preparation took place; where much of the teaching and learning occurred. He fully comprehended this. And though the role of the Academy changed greatly after becoming Orthodox, as it should have, his belief in us never altered in the years that followed.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

April 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Orthodox Study Bible: Old Testament Septuagint
Its Importance to You

It is helpful to keep in mind that like the earliest Christian community, the Orthodox Church continues using the 49 books of the Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (LXX). It was produced by seventy of the finest Jewish scholars, who were gathered together in Alexandria some three centuries before the birth of Jesus, our Christ. It became the universally accepted version of the Old Testament. These inspired Old Testament books tell the story of the God of all, and His working with ancient Israel.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

March 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Virtue Triumphs over Vice

Often we need a little extra encouragement in our daily efforts to grow in our faith. At times, it can be difficult in a world walking away from the One true faith in Jesus our Christ. A hope of the Academy is to be a source of this extra help. One way is to listen and learn from our fellow Christians who met this challenge and are deemed worthy of being imitated.

This letter is about living Christian virtue in the midst of stormy days of doubt, by first seeking the wisdom of St. John Chrysostom, our Father among the saints. "Commenting on the following text in Matthew, he speaks with a bold, guiding spirit, urging us to becoming more virtuous:

" . . . the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." (Give a moment to your Orthodox Study Bible and re-read Matthew chapters 5 to 8, especially Mt. 7:24-27).

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

February 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

TOBIT: PROPHET OF THE LORD

Recently I had the delight of discovering some uplifting notes of beloved former dean of this Academy, Fr. Jack Sparks of blessed memory, about Tobit of the Old Testament.

He reminds us of why the Book of Tobit is so loved by Orthodoxy. Sadly the Roman Catholic Church labeled it deuterocanonical (or "second canon"), while many Protestants labeled it "apocryphal" – implying it didn't even belong in the Bible. What a loss!

TOBIT AS A BOOK OF WISDOM

The Book of Tobit is an historical book as it references the deportation to Nineveh in 721 B.C. Yet more, it is a valuable book of wisdom, inspired by the pre-incarnate Word of God. Within its pages, we find many passages speaking to the wisdom of living a life of moral conduct with an enlightened spirit (Tobit 4:3-19, 21; 12:6-10; 14:7, 9).

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

January 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

OSB: THE ORTHODOX STUDY BIBLE
THE REMARKABLE BENEFITS OF HEARING AND READING THE SCRIPTURES

How time flies! It's been five years since The Orthodox Study Bible was first published, and unless new to these newsletters from the Academy, you are no doubt aware it was under the auspices of this Academy that the OSB Bible was prepared. It took a mammoth amount of work, thousands of dedicated hours, and over five years to complete the final translations. It includes the added benefit of very helpful study notes for Orthodox Christians. Three of the main contributors to the project, Fr. Jack Sparks, Fr. Richard Ballew, and Fr. Peter Gillquist have gone on to be with the Lord. May their memory be eternal!

Was all the effort worth it? Absolutely! So many have been touched by it. Many have been encouraged in their faith in God by reading this Bible while many others are coming to faith through the OSB.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

December 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Defending the Faith
The Nativity of the Word and His Incarnation

We know and confess the Word of God came forth from the virgin womb of Mary, being by nature both Child and Emmanuel. His name is Jesus, Who is the Christ and the Only-begotten Son of the Father. This birth was of the Father's will, was of the interactive energies of the Holy Spirit and the free-will of Mary. He entered Creation in the compassion of His grace, to heal our unbelief. In this, He reveals Himself as the Perfect One of two natures, clothed in flesh, His Incarnation.

COMMENTARY
The name Only-begotten Son emphasizes the unique relationship between the Father and His Son, its being eternal and perfect. How so? For the One perfect Father, begets the One perfect Son, the One able to reveal His eternal Father. Yet, whereas this relationship between Father and Son, is natural, our relationship to Him, is not. In contrast, our relationship to His Father, begins in the fullness of His Incarnation. For within this understanding, we find the promised gift of an eternal relationship with His Father.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

November 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Defending the Faith
Understanding the Term One God, and Its Meaning to Us

STATEMENT
We know and confess there is One God that is, one essence. We also know and confess this one essence is known and shared equally in three Divine Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

COMMENTARY
The name "One God", speaks best to one divine essence and energy. One God does not identify just one Person. The name "One God" speaks better to one divine nature in three Persons, each with His own property – the Unbegotten Father, Only-begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, by Procession. Therefore, when we hear the name One God, think not only of God the Father, but also of one divine essence shared equally and fully with three unique divine Persons - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

October 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Defending the Faith
Is God a Person or is this Person the Father, Who is God?

STATEMENT
Indeed we know and confess God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit –to be without beginning and without end. He is everlasting and eternal, uncreated, unchangeable, inalterable, uncompounded, incorporeal, invisible, untouchable, uncircumscribed, unlimited, incomprehensible, beyond understanding, good, just, maker of all created things, all-powerful, all-ruling, all-seeing, all-providing, sovereign and judge.

COMMENTARY
We know the Father to be a divine Person, one of the Godhead. We also know the Father to be the source of: His Son by begotteness, and the Holy Spirit by the property of procession. Thus each divine Person of the One Godhead – the Trinity – is a distinct, divine Who.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

September 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Defending the Faith
Seeking His Grace and Truth:

STATEMENT
The God of the Holy Trinity – never seen by man – is the Father. Only His Son and the Holy Spirit, see and know Him directly. These Three Divine Persons, sharing the same divine nature, are beyond descriptions and incomprehensible to men and angels. Yet they know one another perfectly, in will, power, and working.

COMMENTARY
The knowledge and existence of God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – was implanted within man's nature from the very beginning. Why significant? It means Adam and Even were aware of the Trinity and relationally knew the pre-Incarnate Word of God, before being enfleshed with the animal skin of this world. And though naive and spiritual immature, they demonstrate that not believing in the Trinity, is contrary to one's nature.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

August 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

From the Paraklesis service, we gain insight into the Promise of Renewed Life and Hope coming forth from Mary, a promise fulfilled through Him, shining brightly in her Dormition:

May she, who herself was born of promise, through whom Promise has entered the world, intercede with her Son to guide and comfort us, so He may bring to fulfillment, first-fruits of salvation, His compassionate promise of peace, within and for all.

Mary was born of promise to her faithful parents, Joachim and Anna. Yet Anna was barren and according to the laws of nature, unable to have children. Never losing faith in the Lord, laying aside public ridicule, and with the patience of Job, they beseeched the Lord for a child. As part of their petition, they promised to dedicate this child-of-promise, to the Lord's service. Reminds one of Hanna and the words of the High Priest Eli, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you the petition you have asked of him." (1 Kingdom 1:17, OSB).

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

July 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

"For he who loves another, fulfils the Law." Romans 13: 8 – 13

Book of Romans points to a new Law – the Law of love and Spirit of Grace. One not based on works of merit, nor obedience for the sake of obedience. Instead one of relational love – compassionate, forgiving, and gentle. It is core to our one true faith in Jesus and His being our Christ, the Son of the living God, His Father. It speaks to a far better way of loving our neighbor – even those who hate or despise us. It is a love that calls us to love one another as Jesus first loves us and the Father loves Him. St Paul brings this point home loud and clear. For even this greatest of commandments, to love God, will not become a reality in a church, unless we love our neighbor with the same intensity we love God.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

June 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Pentecost: Sending the Holy Spirit

- The Fulfillment of Promise First Revealed in His Baptism -

Matthew 3:16 - 4:1 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

John 7:39 But this He spoke, concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was yet glorified. John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

May 2013 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

His Cross - The Banquet Feast - Psalm 22:5

The Cross of His Resurrection and The Glorification of our Risen Lord, He Who has become our living offering to the Father, calling all to Him.

The Lord’s words from His Cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me” – Mt 27:46 – are difficult words. They bring a sense of one without hope or purpose, defeated by death. For certain, these words snared the devil in his own self-pride. He believed Jesus to be a mere man by nature, and a human person – another to be possessed in Hades. Yet Psalm 21, in its entirety, is not of defeat. Instead it is of transforming fears and doubts – by His Grace alone – into songs of thankfulness, praise, and hope. His words of love, should call all to the glory of His Resurrection, while preparing His faithful for a renewed beginning.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.