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Academy Newsletters

March 2015 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT OF THE LORD AND NEIGHBOR
Is it about fasting, for the sake of food?

Years ago a good man came to a parish during its most troubling and rebellious days. I knew him then as Bishop Joseph. Perhaps unknown to him, he taught me an important lesson about following the letter of the law, and about the harshness of fasting. I gained a better appreciation of Great Lent, of our remembrance of our loving Lord and His calling us to care about our neighbor-in-need. He showed this perspective to be more important than any individual act of self-discipline. For certain, we should not blame an immature Adam and Eve, nor use the legalisms of fasting as an excuse to measure and divide people, one from another – placing the law above loving kindness.

I remain appreciative of this special person who called me friend; who prayed for my healing while in the hospital ten years ago. Thank you His Eminence and our beloved Most Rev. Metropolitan Joseph. You are a good man who cares and walk with a healing spirit. May Jesus Who is our Christ, continue to guide you and all who sit at table in His name.

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

February 2015 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

HIS PEACE AND PROMISE WORKING IN OUR PRISONS FOR THOSE SEEKING HIM WITH A SINCERE HEART

BELOW IS A LETTER FROM A PRISONER STUDENT WHO THANKS THE LORD FOR HIS FORGIVENESS AND THE EFFORTS OF THE ACADEMY TO BRING HIS GRACE AND TRUTH TO HIS WANDERING CHILDREN.

It is written in the Book of Proverbs, "He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart" (11:29). So it has been with this sinner, who, because of great trouble in his own house, had to serve the wise in prison for twenty plus years. However, the Lord in His infinite mercy granted me to learn the meaning of St. Moses the Ethiopian's words, "Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything."

Having sat in a prison cell contemplating my lot, I saw clearly the veneer of lies that I had hid behind for so many years. "Who am I?", really, I wondered. Also, I remembered the many good Christians I had known who were still free and blessed of He Who is our One true God. Again I wondered, what do they know that I obviously don't know? I concluded, therefore that I needed to find the truth about myself and true faith. Thus, for the next two years I fully immersed myself in self-examination and a thorough re-study of the faith I had claimed, but not practiced, in the churches of Christ, Jesus.

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

January 2015 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

LIFE ANEW IN THE WATERS OF HIS BAPTISM
HIS NATIVITY - HIS BAPTISM – HIS CROSS

Founded upon the wealth of the Old Testament, the ancient Church provides a year-round liturgical opportunity to participate in the remembrance of our Lord and His boundless Grace. One of these is His Nativity, anticipated weeks in advance through fasting and prayerful preparation. Then after the celebration of His birth on December 25th, there are twelve days of special commemorations. This in turn, is followed by the commemoration and celebration of the ancient Feast of the Lord's Baptism. It is here the Word of God Incarnate, Jesus our Christ, is revealed to be the divine Son of the eternal Father and promised Messiah, clothed in flesh.

Sadly, the Feast of His Baptism is becoming more and more overlooked in the commercialized secular world of today. As a result, the ancient hymns of the Church often seem drowned out by the raucous blare of Madison Avenue and celebrations of the New Year. These worldly seductions can entice one to seek the glitter of this world first, participating in its vain folly. Let us be vigilant, not turning away from the Lord and His Covenant, favoring the empty cares of the world.

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

December 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

THE LORD'S NATIVITY:
BEGINNING TO ANSWERING THE DIVINE DILEMMA OF THE WORD OF GOD

When writing on the Incarnation, St. Athanasius comments on how the fear of death and man's decay in the grave, were gaining an ever firmer hold on them, even to how their relationship with their Creator, was increasingly bleak and hopeless.

What was the Word of God to do when those He created, had failed to acknowledge or even remember, their being in His image and of His likeness. To make things worse, they had even forfeited His marvelous gift of true reasoning, a reasoning which allowed them to reflect upon Him and hear His invitation to be in constant fellowship with Him. Instead, all mankind, both Jew and Gentile, was actually drifting farther and farther away from any sort of personal relationship with Him, even to serving two masters.

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

November 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Prisoners Celebrating the Lord through Our Prisoner Education Program

We have so many prisoners who are active students. For each of them, we try to meet them where they are; to help them grow and mature in knowing the Lord; to know through His truth the Spirit of grace, they are made by Him; to know they are in His image and of His likeness; that the goodness of His blessing shines forth in their love of the Lord and love of neighbor, even those with hate in their hearts. And why? So they too, may celebrate in the peace of Jesus our Christ and the promises of His Incarnation. For such is a gift of the Lord, attained through the repentance of the Thief, the Lord's forgiveness, and a heart willing to put Him first.

And Who is this Lord? He is the I AM, YHWH, known to Abraham, Moses, and Micah in the Old Testament, and confirmed in the Gospel of John. He is the Word of God Who became Incarnate through the womb of Mary, and came in the flesh to save, heal, and reconcile our relationship to Him and restore us to Paradise and Heavenly worship.

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

October 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Prophet Hosea: the One God Is Help
His Cross and Hope of the Resurrection
Book of Hosea, 6:1-3 - OSB Septuagint Old Testament

Hosea is often remembered for his deep suffering. Some 800 years before the Word of God became Incarnate, Hosea forewarned the Northern Kingdom of Israel of a coming period of great darkness, a darkness not seen since their days in Egypt. This time, it would be at the hands of the dreaded Assyrian warriors.

Amazing as it is to us, the Lord commanded Hosea to, "Go take a wife of fornication . . .", i.e., marry a woman who was essentially a prostitute and probably a worshiper of Baal. Yet as a courageous servant of his God, YHWH, his hope remained steadfast, and he loved his spouse, regardless of her adulteress ways. One might see a parallel here to the Lord's long-suffering relationship with His beloved Jews, a people soon to suffer a great chastisement for not keeping their covenant with their loving Lord.

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

September 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Celebrating the Holy Prophet Moses
Exodus 12:1 – 15:21, OSB Septuagint Old Testament

The birth of Moses was spectacular, as was his whole life. He was born during a time when infant sons of the Hebrew clan, were systematically murdered by the command of the Egyptian Pharaoh. And how did this defenseless child survive slaughter and the Nile? By the prayers of his mother, the caring heart of a watchful sister, Miriam, a floating baby crib, an Egyptian princess, and foremost, Divine Providence. At journey's end, this special baby was discovered by an Egyptian princess, who named him Moses – "the one who comes out of the water".

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

August 2014 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:


Celebrating the Prophet Micah
(Chapter 4 and 5, OSB Septuagint)

Chapter 4 of Micah, is a marvelous example of our lasting hope in the Lord, even when we're our own worst enemy. This prophecy of Micah concerns the Jews being both dispersed and exiled for their disobedience, while at the same time, Micah's words are of hope to the "remnant". Chapter 4 also confirms the Lord interacting with the most humble of His people, as Micah was known to be an everyday farmer, with no specific reputation. Yet those knowing Micah, listened intently, for his words were true and sincere. Interestingly, the name Micah means, one likened unto the One God, the I AM. He reminds one of St John the Baptist.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching, and to order The Fathers Speak.

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.