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March 1, 2017 + That Faults Can Be Overcome in Three Ways

by St. John Cassian

Abbot Chæremon's statement that faults can be overcome in three ways. Then the blessed CHÆREMON: There are, said he, three things which enable men to control their faults; viz., either the fear of hell or of laws even now imposed; or the hope and desire of the kingdom of heaven; or a liking for goodness itself and the love of virtue. For then we read that the fear of evil loathes contamination: "The fear of the Lord hateth evil." Hope also shuts out the assaults of all faults: for "all who hope in Him shall not fail." Love also fears no destruction from sins, for "love never faileth;" and again: "love covers a multitude of sins." And therefore the blessed Apostle confines the whole sum of salvation in the attainment of those three virtues, saying "Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three." For faith is what makes us shun the stains of sin from fear of future judgment and punishment; hope is what withdraws our mind from present things, and despises all bodily pleasures from its expectation of heavenly rewards; love is what inflames us with keenness of heart for the love of Christ and the fruit of spiritual goodness, and makes us hate with a perfect hatred whatever is opposed to these.

February 22, 2017 + What Constitutes Our End and Perfect Bliss

by St. John Cassian

For then will be perfectly fulfilled in our case that prayer of our Saviour in which He prayed for His disciples to the Father saying "that the love wherewith Thou lovedst Me may be in them and they in us;" and again: "that they all may be one as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us," when that perfect love of God, wherewith "He first loved us" has passed into the feelings of our heart as well, by the fulfilment of this prayer of the Lord which we believe cannot possibly be ineffectual. And this will come to pass when God shall be all our love, and every desire and wish and effort, every thought of ours, and all our life and words and breath, and that unity which already exists between the Father and the Son, and the Son and the Father, has been shed abroad in our hearts and minds, so that as He loves us with a pure and unfeigned and indissoluble love, so we also may be joined to Him by a lasting and inseparable affection, since we are so united to Him that whatever we breathe or think, or speak is God, since, as I say, we attain to that end of which we spoke before, which the same Lord in His prayer hopes may be fulfilled in us: "that they all may be one as we are one, I in them and Thou in Me, that they also may be made perfect in one;" and again: "Father, those whom Thou hast given Me, I will that where I am, they may also be with Me."

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + February 15, 2017

I John 3:21-4:6
Mark 14:43-15:1

I John 3:21-4:6 (NKJV)
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

When I disobey in ignorance thy fatherly glory, I wasted in iniquities the riches that thou gavest me. Wherefore, I cry to thee with the voice of the prodigal son, saying, I have sinned before thee, O compassionate Father, receive me repentant, and make me as one of thy hired servants.

- Kontakion, Tone 3

I have been entrusted with a verdant and faultless region, but I planted evil in its soil and reaped its cares with the scythe of laziness. And I gathered my deeds into sheaves but placed them not on the threshing-floor of repentance. Wherefore, I ask thee, O divine Husbandman, to winnow the straw of my deeds with the breeze of thy compassionate love; and fill my soul with the wheat of forgiveness. Store me in thy heavenly garners and save me.

- from Vespers, Tone 1

February 8, 2017 + On Avoiding Church Services

St. Barsanuphius of Optina (1845-1913)

St. John Climacus was asked if there are reliable signs by which it's possible to know whether a soul is drawing near to God or moving away from Him. After all, regarding ordinary things there are clear signs as to whether they're good or not. When, for instance, cabbage, meat or fish begins to rot, it's easy to notice it, since the rotting object begins to give off a foul odor, the color and taste change, and its external appearance witnesses to its deterioration. Well, and what about the soul? After all, it's bodiless and can't give off a bad smell or change its appearance. To this question the Holy Father replies, "A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services."

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + February 8, 2017

2 Peter 3:1-18
Mark 13:24-31

2 Peter 3:1-18 (NKJV)
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

On Overcoming the Winter Blues

The beginning of February marks the middle of winter for the northern hemisphere. For many people, winter can a dreary and depressing time. Why is this the case? Are children also thus affected by winter, or is the sense of gloom limited to adults? Can anything be done to help those of us who feel discouraged during the winter months?

We did a little research into the above questions, and learned a few things which we will share with you. We learned that there are multiple reasons why winter can drag down our emotions, especially because of the reduced light and/or sunshine that people living in wintery climates experience. The combination of less daylight and colder outdoor temperatures also discourages people from getting fresh air and exercise (two other possible remedies for combating gloom). We learned that children are affected by these struggles in a similar way as adults are affected. We found many suggestions of things to do to combat the so-called "winter blues" including the idea of getting out of the house within 2 hours of waking up, and exercising (outside, if possible).

Gleanings from a Book: Parenting Toward the Kingdom by Dr. Philip Mamalakis

I was so excited when I learned that this book was in the works! Before reading it, I had great expectations: I anticipated that it would be filled with gentle nudges towards godliness based both on years of education and personal experience. I knew that the wisdom in this book would be presented in a practical way backed by the in-the- trenches research that life with 7 children offers to their parents. And once I received and read the book, I was not at all disappointed! My expectations for this book were the result of personal experience. Our family had the privilege of meeting the Mamalakis family at Family Camp at the Antiochian Village years ago when they were the featured presenters for the parent sessions. We learned so much from Dr. Mamalakis (and from his lovely wife, Georgia) while we were together. My husband and I could step out of the parent sessions and immediately apply the concepts we had just discussed. Our family is the better for having learned these principles, however imperfectly we have applied them. (An aside: We also benefitted from watching the Mamalakis parents apply the principles they had shared, as they interacted with their children over the course of the family camp sessions. It is a joy to watch these parents lovingly guide their children using the principles! There is an abundance of love in Mamalakis family, and these principles allow them to parent their children in the context of that great love. It is a joy to experience.)

But I digress. Let's get back to the book. "Parenting Toward the Kingdom" outlines the principles that the Mamalakis family has followed:

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

O Lord, Thou didst reproach the Pharisee when he justified himself, boasting of his deeds; and justified the Publican when he approached humbly, seeking forgiveness with sighs; for Thou dost not draw near to arrogant thoughts, nor turn away contrite hearts. Wherefore, we also kneel before Thee meekly, O Thou Who didst suffer for our sakes. Grant us forgiveness and the Great Mercy.

+ Doxasticon from Orthros, Tone 8

When the Pharisee went down with empty glory, and the publican bowed himself in repentance, they came to Thee alone, O Master. But the one through boasting lost his reward, and the other by his silence deserved gifts. Wherefore, by those sighs confirm me, O Christ God, since Thou art the Lover of mankind.

+ from the Praises at Orthros, Tone 1

February 2017 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Please remember our prisoner-students. Let them know we care. (Mat. 25:34-40)

As we begin preparations for Great Lent, let's be mindful of the One Who brings focus and purpose to its meaning. The One Who is the promised Christ of the Old Testament; the One Who became Incarnate and given the personal name Jesus, both the Child and the Immanuel.

Our focus is renewing our once lost relationship with Him, as both Lord and our Father; with the purpose of growing in our knowing of His Incarnational Wisdom and maturing in His love for us. Held in the loving arms of His Cross, we purpose to love Him in the relational intimacy of a father to his own children. In this, we become capable of learning to better love our neighbor.

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

February 1, 2017 + Beholding the Light before Eternity

from Vespers for the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple

He that rideth on the cherubim, Who is praised by the seraphim, today is offered according to the law in the divine Temple, lying in the arms of an old man, and receives from Joseph offerings becoming God, two pairs of turtle doves, the undefiled Church and the people chosen anew from the Gentiles, and two pairs of pigeons, since He is the head of the Old and New Covenants. But Simeon, having received the meaning of revelation which was made unto him, blessed the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, foretelling and pointing to the sufferings of Him Who was born of her, seeking deliverance from Him and crying, Now lettest thou me depart, O Master, as Thou didst go before and promise me; for I have beheld Thee, O Light before eternity, the Lord and Savior of the Christian people.

Our Departmental Lenten Resources and Links for Great Lent

Throughout the exploration of our page, we have discovered many valuable archived articles, resources, links, and activities that pertain to Great Lent. These may prove to be quite beneficial to you in the coming weeks and months. These offerings have been gathered and organized below, for you to explore, read and utilize.

Resources

Articles

Crafts and Activities

Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple + February 2

Adorn thy chamber, O Zion, and receive Christ the King. Welcome Mary the heavenly gate; for she hath appeared as a cherubic throne; she carrieth the King of glory. Verily, the Virgin is a cloud of light carrying in her body the Son Who is before the morning star, Whom Simeon carrying in his arms proclaimed to the nations as the Lord of life and death, and the Savior of our souls.
-Vespers of the Feast, Tone 7

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous old man, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.
-Apolytikion of the Feast, Tone 1

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + February 1, 2017

1 Peter 4:1-11
Mark 12:28-37

I Peter 4:1-11 (NKJV)
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + January 25, 2017

1 Corinthians 12:7-11
John 10:9-16

I Corinthians 12:7-11 (NKJV)
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Gleanings from a Book: Orthodox Christian Parenting Cultivating God's Creation

We recently discovered the book Orthodox Christian Parenting - Cultivating God's Creation by Marie L. Eliades, published by Zoe Press in 2012. This book is a compilation of quotes and writings about raising and educating Orthodox Christian children. The text is gathered both from Church fathers and contemporary Orthodox Christians, and is presented by theme. (An important note: the introduction to the book tells more about the project and encourages readers to discuss what they read with their spiritual father to see what is best for their own family.)

South Florida Clergy Celebrate Namesday and Birthday of Bishop Antoun

Fr. Elia Shalhoub writes:

For the 2017 Feast of St. Anthony, the patron saint of our beloved Bishop Antoun, a few of the clergy of the South Florida Deanery gathered at St. Mary Church in West Palm Beach to celebrate His Grace's namesday and birthday. May God Grant him many years!

 

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + January 18, 2017

James 1:1-18
Mark 10:11-16

James 1:1-18 (NKJV)
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Recent Ordinations and Elevations + January-February 2017

From the January-February 2017 issue of The Word:

Ordained

BEEKMAN, Photios, to the Holy Diaconate by Bishop Basil on November 13, 2016, at St. Anthony Church, Spring, Texas. He is assigned to that parish.

DANEVICIUS, Isaac (Brandon Solomon), to the Holy Diaconate by Bishop Nicholas on October 23, 2016, at St. George Church, Little Falls, New Jersey. He is assigned as a seminarian deacon to the parish.

GIRGIS, Paul, to the Holy Priesthood by Bishop Nicholas on Sunday, December 11, 2016, at St. Nicholas Church, Bridgeport, Connecticut. He remains a seminarian assigned to St. Mary's Church, Brooklyn, New York, for this year.

PHILLIPS, Jeremiah, to the Holy Diaconate by Bishop Nicholas on December 11, 2016, at St. Nicholas Church, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Dn. Jeremiah will continue his service at St. Stephen the Protomartyr Church, South Plainfield, New Jersey, as a seminarian deacon for this year.

HEFNER, James (Kurt), to the Holy Diaconate by Bishop Nicholas on December 18, 2016, at St. Ignatius Church, Twin Falls, Idaho. He is assigned to that parish.

KERR, Stephen, to the Holy Diaconate by His Grace, Bishop John on December 11, 2016, at St. John the Baptist Mission, Lewistown, Maryland. He is assigned to that parish.

VALADEZ, John (Edward), to the Holy Diaconate by Bishop Nicholas on November 13, 2016, at St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Church, Levittown, New York. He continues his service at St. John the Baptist Church, Levittown, New York, as a seminarian deacon.

Elevated

January Sale at Antiochian Village Bookstore

The Antiochian Village Bookstore has a January Sale to take the chill off the winter days! Icons is a new publication that not only presents 60 elegant images, but pairs each one with texts from scripture and other writers for thoughtful reading and reflection.  A new recording of Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil,” sung by a 77 voice Choir (centered around the world renown Gloriae Dei Cantores, and including Orthodox singers) and conducted by equally renown conductor Peter Jermihov, gloriously brings to us the beauty of prayer in song.  Coloring isn’t just for kids! It offers grownups a spiritually refreshing way to bring some stillness, and bit of time to listen to God. And  Celtic Blessings (A Coloring Book to bless and de-stress!) is a 64 page book, with a blessing and design to color paired on each set of pages. All of these items are 20% off!

January also features several Liturgical books on sale. The Liturgikon (3rd ed., 2010) and the Book of Epistles are also discounted up to 50%!  

Prices for the January Sale are good through February 10.  (Yes, that is a little longer than January 31! But it’s a long winter! So it’s the least we can do!)  Shop online at http://store.antiochianvillage.org/January-SALE/.  Or call 724-238-3677, ext 406.

January 11, 2017 + A Change in Our Ways Following Baptism

by St. Gregory of Nyssa

But do ye all, as many as are made glad, by the gift of regeneration, and make your boast of that saving renewal, show me, after the sacramental grace, the change in your ways that should follow it, and make known by the purity of your conversation the difference effected by your transformation for the better. For of those things which are before our eyes nothing is altered: the characteristics of the body remain unchanged, and the mould of the visible nature is nowise different. But there is certainly need of some manifest proof, by which we may recognize the new-born man, discerning by clear tokens the new from the old. And these I think are to be found in the intentional motions of the soul, whereby it separates itself from its old customary life, and enters on a newer way of conversation, and will clearly teach those acquainted with it that it has become something different from its former self, bearing in it no token by which the old self was recognized.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + January 11, 2017

Hebrews 10:1-18
Mark 8:30-34

Hebrews 10:1-18 (NKJV)
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God.'" Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

The Feast Day of Theophany

On the day of Theophany we learned that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We also learned that when Jesus stepped into the Jordan River, the water was made clean. On the feast day, January 6, we remember that one day all of nature will be made clean and new again. Here is how we celebrate the feast....

Click here to read more (PDF)!

See also Why Do We Have Our Homes Blessed by Phyllis Onest

2016 Creative Festivals Media Winner from the Diocese of Charleston

Winning entry in the Media category from the 2016 Diocese of Charleston Creative Arts Festivals, by Maria Zafaran from St. George Church in New Kensington, PA:

Theophany of Our Lord + January 6

O Jordan River, why wast thou astonished at beholding the Invisible naked? And he answereth, saying, I beheld Him and trembled; for how shall I not tremble and fear, when the angels trembled at sight of Him, heaven was astounded, earth was encompassed by trepidation, and the sea was bashful, with all things visible and invisible; for Christ hath appeared in the Jordan to bless the waters. (Tone 4)

He that encompasseth the heavens with clouds putteth on today the courses of the Jordan; and He that lifteth the sin of the world, cleanseth and purifieth me. Yea, the Spirit hath testified of Him from on high that He is the only Son of the Father on high. Let us, therefore, shout to Him, crying, O Thou Who didst appear and save us, glory to Thee. (Tone 1)

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