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Academy Newsletters

December 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

The birth of Jesus, He being our true Christ, begins the fulfillment of Isaiah (OSB-Is. 9:5). His nativity opens the door to us; to the restoration of our fallen relationships with our Lord, between men and women, and with all of His creation.

Let us marvel in a virgin giving birth to a son. Let us be amazed – this Child, the Word of God Incarnate. Let us be filled with awe, knowing that what Jesus assumed to Himself, is being healed, as we are being reconciled to Him. Let us rejoice in the significance of women being restored and healed, through this young virgin called Mary – the second Eve - who gave birth to God the Word in the flesh.

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

November 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

A Protestant friend steps into an Orthodox Church and carefully comments: “Quite beautiful, he said, but doesn't the Bible warn against graven images?"

His concern was sincere as his Old Testament law warns, "You shall have no graven images" (Ex. 20:4). So, do the icons portraying Jesus the Christ, His Mother, the saints, and biblical events, represent graven images? First, icons were not inventions of the apostate medieval Church. Instead, from the earliest, they proved a good tool for piety and instruction, with images of the cherubim being integral to the Jewish Temple.

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

October 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

"Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." – Luke 23:43

A good and dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy, Fr. Deacon Howard Shannon recently departed to the Lord. He was best of friends with the recently departed Fr. Richard Ballew, Fr. Jack Sparks, and Fr. Peter Gillquist. Together as a team, they were in constant pursuit of the Lord’s Grace and Truth. Dn. Howard will be remembered as a man with the spirit of true charity, opening his heart to the many in need of the Lord and His gentle-kindness.

+ UNIQUE AMONG MEN, MAY HIS MEMORY BE ETERNAL.

Deacon Howard loved the Academy, especially our prison ministry program. He appreciated our careful attentiveness to the special needs of people with troubled lives, living difficult, almost hopeless lives. He will be dearly missed as a good friend to our prisoner-students, yet we joy in his being in Paradise.

In remembrance of his caring love of people, we offer the following letter from a prisoner-student....

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

September 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

A question from the OCPM convocation in Minneapolis with our response.

Q: WHY DOES EACH HUMAN PERSON, EVEN THE MOTHER OF GOD, SIN AND MISS THE MARK?

First, let us establish and contrast the name “Jesus” and the term “the Christ”. Matt 16: 13-16 points to Jesus being the Divine Person and Son of the living God the Father. And through His Incarnation, we also know Jesus as “...the Christ”, being fully God AND fully man in His two distinct natures.

Even more, through Mary and in the Holy Spirit, Jesus is also known as Son of Man and Son of God. Thus, Jesus being the divine person while yet the Christ, via His two natures – He is the Lawgiver and Perfect One. He is the One Who sets the mark to which all compare, for His being Jesus our Christ, born of a woman – cannot sin, nor miss His own mark, for only He is in all things and knows all things.

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

August 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

The Academy offers the following:

Jesus, being the Christ, is the Truth by His Divine nature, the “I AM” of Ex. 3:14 and Jn 8:58. Said another way, I, Jesus, AM the Christ, Who is the Truth. And being our expression of Truth, through His Incarnation, He set us free from the fear of death, sins, and empty delusions of Satan. (Gal 5:1, 1 Jn 3:8.)

In summary: 1) Jesus is the Who and a unique Person, 2) Christ is “the What” or two natures of Jesus – human and divine, 3) the Quality of His two natures is being fully God, fully man; Son of Man and Son of God, and 4) by these essential Qualities – He, being the I AM, is our Way, Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6). And only through Him being the Way, Truth, and Life, can we come to know our Father.

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

July 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

St. Athanasius was called great for having no flaws in his doctrinal teachings, being key to defeating the Arian heresy at the First Ecumenical Council, with his teachings setting the tone for the next Six.

His ability to distinguish Jesus as the promised One, the enhypostatic Christ – fully God, full man; Son of God, Son of Man, is excellent. His detailed discussion of the Cross, and refutation of both Jews and Gentiles, proved his understanding the Old Testament Septuagint and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

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

June 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Recently I was asked about the Academy’s interactive approach to our studies and student lessons – both students and prisoner-students. With this in mind, here is an example of our approach, using the words, thoughts, and answers of the student, to further develop and challenge him to dig even deeper than the mere words on a page. The following example comes from our two-part course on the Apostolic Fathers. The answers relate to the Mandates and Similtudes from the Shepherd of Hermas.

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

May 2012 Newsletter + With the Eyes of Faith: Christ is Risen

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Through His death on the cross, the Lord makes known; 1) how reasonable it was, and 2) why our salvation could be accomplished only in this way. Even more, He invited all creation to witness this, His Banquet feast.

What was the fruit? His Apostles went forth into the world, joyfully taking the offensive, not fearing the cost of the One true faith that overcomes death and its fears. Thus, by entering into the fulness of His Baptism, death and Hades, is no longer feared, instead preferring death to denying our living faith in Him, – 1Pet. 1:7.

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

March 2012 Newsletter: Great Lent

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

A Challenge to Us, As Orthodox

One of our prisoner-students, taking the advanced Academy course – Orthodox Church Year, was reading Isaiah 58, from his Bible. He wondered if this reading reflected upon Great Lent and the purpose of fasting – what we fast from, and for what reason? Here is the text he sent to the Academy.

58: 1- 9 Shout the message! Don't hold back. Say to my people Israel: You've sinned! You've turned against the LORD. Day after day, you worship him and seem eager to learn his teachings. You act like a nation that wants to do right by obeying his laws. You ask him about justice, and say you enjoy worshiping the LORD. You wonder why the LORD pays no attention when you go without eating and act humble. But on those same days that you give up eating, you think only of yourselves and abuse your workers.

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

February 2012 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

My name is David, a graduate of the Academy and former prisoner. In the 60s, as a committed Evangelical Protestant Christian, I took a Gospel of John bible class as a college freshman in San Francisco. Who would know 50 years later I would be helping an Orthodox Academy build a brand new study course for prisoners on the Gospel of John. Glory be to God. This course is written from an Orthodox perspective, with research by St. Athanasius Academy, the home of the Orthodox Study Bible: Septuagint Old and New Testament. It is an in-depth, verse by verse, study of the Gospel of John, based upon the Apostles, Holy Scripture, and renown Fathers of the early Church – a true work of joy. Please help us make this available to prisoners.

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

January 2012 Newsletter: Nativity Icon

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

We received this letter from one of our prisoner-students. It arrived unexpectedly and speaks to a heart filled with the Joy of the Lord and His Nativity. We thank him and the many students who found the time to send us Christmas letters and cards. Our program is helping the Lord in finding many of the lost sheep seeking His Light. Please help us as we help each other in doing the Lord’s work. Your prayers and donations are being well served.

Dear Paul and Anastasia,

The top of the icon is of gold, reminding us of the eternal glory of the Lord’s Kingdom (Luke 2:9). We also see the darkness being overcome by the inspired Light of the star pointing to His birth (Num. 24:17; Matt. 2:2). The 3 rays of light radiating from the star, speak to the One Light of the Holy Trinity, bringing enlightenment to this fallen world (John 1:5, 9). To the left, are the three Magi who followed the star to the Child (Isaiah 60:5-7; Psalm 72:10,11; Matthew 2:1-11).

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

December 2011 Newsletter: Zossima

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

My name is Zossima, a former prisoner and graduate of Saint Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (SAAOT). I did my course work under the guidance of Father Jack N. Sparks (may his memory be eternal!) and later, Paul Goetz.

In my former life, I was a member of a very conservative fundamentalist denomination who loves nothing more than to hate on catholicism and what even appeared to be Catholic, including Orthodoxy.

Having been so busy condemning others, while finding spiritual satisfaction in it, I found the perfect lazy man's excuse not to see nor even tend to my own, more serious problems – problems eventually landing me in prison.

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

November 2011 Newsletter: Apostle Peter and Paul Prisoner Education Scholarship Program

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Before losing my personal freedom to the cold of prison, I was a Protestant pastor for nearly a quarter century, a child of dedicated missionary parents.

I witnessed most Protestant beliefs, coming to prison believing in Jesus alone. Half way through my time, I was introduced to orthodoxy and came to understand the Christ.

It was a conversion one might liken to St. Paul on the road to Damascus. I was knocked off my high horse, or in my case, jolted off the hard steel springs of my bed.

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

October 2011 Newsletter: Seeking Partners To Help Bring The Good News

As a friend of the Academy, we need your help.

Our ministry is to bring Apostolic teachings to prisoners through our interactive study. We have studied with 1,000's of prisoners since 1992. Our program is essay-based only and demands the prisoner-student do more than read and repeat. Here are three proofs this works.

First, they meet and exceed every challenge. Why? Because we care, and much more, there is a person, Jesus, who loves and gives them hope and promise.

Second, our prisoner-students do not return to prison.

Third, they give thanks to God for being in prison, realizing only in prison could they have found Jesus, the One Lord Who came for them – His lost sheep.

To expand our out-reach, we need many partners. Please consider a monthly gift of 5, 10, or 20 dollars.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full newsletter and to download a monthly pledge card.

September 2011 Newsletter: Apostle Peter and Paul Prisoner Education Scholarship Program

As a friend of the Academy, we need your help.

The Academy brings the depth and breath of Orthodox teachings to our prisoner-students through our inter-active education-program. It was started in 1991 by Fr. Duane Pederson and Fr. Jack Sparks of the Academy, as essential to his OCPM outreach ministry. They understood the importance of an education-based study program to bring the fulness of the faith to prisoners. We have continued this vision for twenty years.

Our program is not true/false or fill in the blank. They are essay and we demand the prisoners commitment to the study. They have accepted the challenge, and exceed every expectations. For them, we offer not just a grade or letter, but more – detailed comments and questions to further challenge and expand their thinking and love of the Lord.

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