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On The Lord's Prayer: An Introduction

The Lord's Prayer is an integral part of an Orthodox Christian's life. Our Lord Himself taught us to pray this prayer, so we know that it is both important and right for us to pray in this way. We find this prayer in the Holy Scriptures in Luke 11:1-4 and also in Matthew 6:7-14. We pray this prayer daily at home. This prayer is also an important part of our church services. It is important that we teach our children how to pray the Lord's Prayer so that they can participate with the family at home and also with the church family during the Divine services.

But is it enough for the children to learn the words to the prayer? Is it not much more important for them to pray the words with cognizance of their meaning? How can we help our children to understand what they are saying when they pray this wonderful prayer? Over the next few weeks our blog posts will focus on the Lord's Prayer, looking at the prayer piece by piece, and delving into its meaning and importance. We will share quotes from Alexander Schmemann's book, "Our Father," and include ideas of ways to help our children to learn the prayer.

Our goal is to learn to better pray the Lord's Prayer, and to help our children to do so as well.

To learn more, follow our blog at orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.wordpress.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/orthodoxchristiansundaychurchschoolteachers.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + March 2, 2016

I John 3:21-4:11
Mark 14:43-15:1

I John 3:21-4:11 (NKJV)
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask wereceive 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.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

St. Emmelia Homeschooling Conference at Antiochian Village + April 7-10, 2016

Does your family homeschool? Are you considering homeschooling? If so, plan now to attend the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling Conference, scheduled for April 7-10, 2016 at the Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center outside Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

This year, keynote addresses will be delivered by Fr. Noah Bushelli, Pastor of St. Philip Orthodox Church in Souderton, PA, homeschooling dad, and Director of the Department of Homeschooling for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. Fr. Noah will present the topic of Homeschooling and the Marriage Relationship.

Costs are as follows:

Early Bird - Before March 15th
Single Adult/Married couple - $82
Each child 3 and over - $32

Regular Pricing - March 16 to 28
Single Adult/Married Couple - $92
Each child 3 and over - $37

Conference schedule
Registration

Rooms and meals are separate - click here for pricing.

The conference offers workshops for both experienced and beginning homeschoolers alike, with simultaneous activity sessions for children ages 3 and up.

Our weekend is both educational and retreat-like, with many opportunities for worship and fellowship with other Orthodox homeschooling families. Workshops cover topics of interest to inquiring, beginning, veteran homeschoolers and supporting spouses. If your entire family cannot attend, we welcome solo attendees, as well!

March 2016 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Please remember our prisoner-students. Let them know we care. They struggle with us, but we need your special donation to complete the task. (Mat. 25:34-40)

The Virgin of Amos 5 and 1 Peter 2

Last month, we spoke to the "Woes and Lamentations" in Chapter 5 of Amos. He makes clear the dire consequences of failing to repent and return home to the Lord. His dramatic warnings included their hypocritical and dualistic worship. Further, he focused on the open denial and rejection of the words spoken by the Lord's Prophets.

The fruit of this infidelity was not only the death of His prophets, but also a heartless disregard for those the Lord calls us to serve – the least of His. Yet in the midst of all this, the Prophets also spoke words of the Lord's love for them, plus the pronouncement that His Anointed One, found in Amos 4-13, was being promised to His remnant.

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

Winter 2016 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Winter 2016 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of New York, the Archdiocesan District and the Diocese of Charleston! The issue contains:

  • The Sanctification of Our Parish Life by His Grace Bishop Thomas
  • A message from St. Barbara's Monastery
  • Profiles of diocesan officers

...and more! Download (PDF) here.

Spiritual Nuggets + February 28, 2016

Prodigal Son Sunday

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, bless.

This coming Sunday we are reading and celebrating our Lord's parable of the Prodigal Son. St. Nicholai of South Canaan (Homilies I, pg 104) speaks of the perennial value of this clear look into human nature and God's love.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Lord Jesus has given us a picture of real, divine love, painted in such clear colours that it pulsates with life before our eyes, as this world does when, after the darkness of night, the sun shines forth. Two thousand years have not dulled the colours of this picture, and they will never be dulled as long as there are mend on earth, and God's love for them. On the contrary, the more sinful men become, the more vivid is this picture.
- St. Nicholai of South Canaan

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah


Readings and Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston Homepage

March 2, 2016 + From St. John of Kronstadt

from St. John of Kronstadt

"The Lord turned and looked upon Peter . . . and Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (Luke xxii. 61, 62). And even now, when the Lord looks upon us we weep bitterly over our sins. Yes, our tears during prayer mean that the Lord has looked upon us with His gaze, that gives life to everything and trieth the hearts and reins. Ah! the soul is sometimes entangled and ensnared by sins, like a bird in the net! We do not sometimes see any outlet from our sins, and they torment us; the heart sometimes feels terribly anxious and sorrowful on account of them; but "Jesus looks upon us, and streams of tears flow from our eyes, and with the tears all the tissue of evil in our soul vanishes; we weep and rejoice that such mercy has been suddenly and unexpectedly sent to us; what warmth we then feel in our heart, and what lightness, as though we could fly up to the Lord God Himself! I thank the Lord with all my heart for freely forgiving all my sin (cf. Psalm ciii. 3)!

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + February 24, 2016

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

II 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.

New Activity Book from OCA

Don't miss the brand new activity book from the OCA Department of Christian Education, "Saints and the Animals That Served Them." This is the fourth in an on-line series of DCE Activity Books. Others include Saints Commemorated in Litiya Prayers, Saints in Times of Trouble, and Saints of North America. Each installment contains concise, informative, easy to read histories of the saints; detailed maps of their lives and travels; respective troparia and kontakia; entertaining word games and puzzles, and more! This free downloadable pdf of all four Activity Books can be found here: http://dce.oca.org/page/activity-books/

February 24, 2016 + Prayer Before Receiving Holy Communion

from St. Basil the Great

O Lord, I know that I am unworthy to receive thy Holy Body and Precious Blood; I know that I am guilty, and that I eat and drink condemnation to myself, not discerning the Body and Blood of Christ my God. But trusting in thy loving-kindness I come unto thee who has said: He that eateth my Body and drinketh my Blood shall dwell in me and I in him. Therefore, O Lord, have compassion on me and make not an example of me, thy sinful servant. But do unto me according to thy great mercy, and grant that these Holy Gifts may be for me unto the healing, purification, enlightenment, protection, salvation and sanctification of my soul and body, and to the expulsion of every evil imagination, sinful deed or work of the Devil. May they move me to reliance on thee and to love thee always, to amend and keep firm my life; and be ever in me to the increase of virtue, to the keeping of thy Commandments, to the communion of the Holy Spirit, and as a good defense before thy dread Judgment Seat, and for Life Eternal. Amen.

Spiritual Nuggets + February 21, 2016

Publican and Pharisee

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, bless.

This Sunday we commemorate and read our Lord's Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14). St. Nicholai (Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, volume 1, tr. Mother Maria, Lazarica Press, Birmingham, England, 1996. p 95.) opens his wonderful homily on this pericope with this beautiful image/story:

A man went into the forest to choose a tree from which to make roof-beams. And he saw two trees, one beside the other. One was smooth and tall, but had rotted away inside, and the other was rough on the outside and ugly, but its core was healthy. The man sighed, and said to himself: "What use is this smooth, tall tree to me if it is rotten inside and useless for beams? The other one, even if it is rough and ugly, is at least healthy on the inside and so, if I put a bit more effort into it, I can use it for roof-beams for my house." And, without thinking any more about it, he chose that tree.
- St. Nicholai

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah


Readings and Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston Homepage

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + February 17, 2016

II Timothy 2:1-10
Luke 20:46-47, 21:1-4

II Timothy 2:1-10 (NKJV)
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

Bishop Thomas Visits Saint Andrew the Apostle in Lewes, DE

His Grace Bishop Thomas was welcomed to the mission community of Saint Andrew the Apostle in Lewes, Delaware by Fr. Boniface Black and enthusiastic parishioners on the beautiful fall weekend of October 17-18, 2015.

Saturday Vespers, Sunday Orthros and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy were well attended and the choir was outstanding. The Antiochian Women provided hospitality to parishioners and visitors after Vespers and again after the Sunday Divine Services. Among those visiting were Deacon Herman Acker and family from Saint Philip Church in Souderton, PA; and Subdeacon Jason Flowers and family from Saint John Chrysostom Church in York, PA. On Sunday morning, three new members were inducted into the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch.

On January 1, 2016, Saint Andrew the Apostle moved forward from its "mission status" to a fully recognized church in the Archdiocese. A building expansion program is currently under way to provide more worship and classroom space, and a new kitchen and fellowship hall.

Lest We Forget: The Legacy of Metropolitan Antony Bashir

by Fr. Antony Gabriel, first published in The Word Magazine, February 1998

"Orthodoxy is a freedom-loving, democratic faith it is at its best in our free America. Our people are part and parcel of America, gladly giving their treasure and the blood of their sons to safeguard its free institutions which are the reflection of the freedom they find in their faith. If the best of Byzantium has survived, it is in the United States, and if there is an Orthodox political ideal, it is enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

"Thus, while we must still minister to many who remember the ways and customs of another land, it is our policy to make our Church in the United States, an American Church. In my own archdiocese, under my administration, we have pioneered in the introduction of English in our Services and sermons. From the beginning of my ministry, I began the printing of English service books, and the training of English-speaking priests. We are tied to no sacred language; we recognize all tongues as the creation of God, and employ them in His worship. We have no desire to perpetuate anything but the Gospel of Christ, and that we can do as effectively in English as in any other tongue."

February 17, 2016 + On Church Attendance and Anxieties

by St. Macarius of Optina

Since your desire to attend church services is good, this overpowering anxiety about what may happen to your children while you are away from home can be nothing but a subtle temptation.

A father's presence in the home is naturally a great help to all; but since David the Prophet says, The Lord preserveth the simple (Ps. 116:6), can you think that your presence alone, without His help, is worth anything to them? On the other hand, surely His care is sufficient without your presence. And if God should allow some accident to befall one of them, could you prevent it, even if you were on the spot at the time? When you leave home to go to church, commit your children to the care of our Lady and their guardian angels. In church, pray for them. But do not put off going there because of unreasonable scruples, anxieties and fears. [203]

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + February 10, 2016

II Timothy 2:1-10
John 15:17-16:2

II Timothy 2:1-10 (NKJV)
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Scripture Journaling

In our last few blogs, we have looked at the importance of memorizing the Scriptures and helping our Sunday Church School students to do the same. This blog post will offer another way to meditate on (and even memorize) the Scriptures: Scripture journaling. As you maintain a Scripture journal, you meditate on and/or memorize the Scriptures by creating an artistic illustration of a different Scripture passage on each page of the journal. There are many ways to do so, and you do not need to be an artist to create a Scripture journal. If you can write or if you can doodle, you can create one of these journals. Even young students can make a Scripture journal! It is a fun, creative way to delve into the scriptures, and can add an artistic dimension to your Sunday Church School classes.

You will need a blank journal for each student. You will also need pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolors; whatever art supplies you wish to work with in the journals. (Note: remember that if you plan to use markers or watercolors in the journaling, you will want to provide each student with a journal with thick pages so that the colors do not bleed through to the next page. It is also important to place extra paper behind each page as you work, to absorb any possible bleed­through.)

Click here to read more (PDF)!

Gleanings from a Book: When God Made You

Jane G. Meyer's new book, When God Made You invites readers of all ages to look at each person in the world and consider what God was thinking when He made them. Every spread of this gleefully­worded book introduces a child from a different part of the world, and suggests what God had in mind when He created that child. Each "person recipe" in the book, just as in real life, is completely unique and brimming with the love and enthusiasm of our Creator.

When God Made You celebrates each person's extraordinary qualities, looks, talents, and interests, recognizing each facet as a gift that has been poured into that person's life by God Himself. The book also demonstrates to the reader that God does not just give those qualities to us to enjoy, but because He wants them to be used and shared. Every child in the book, upon being created, is issued a command: to plant, to sing, to paint, to lead... The book brings to life the reality that from the moment we are created, God has in His mind the work that He has set for us to do.

Click here to read more (PDF)!

Spiritual Nuggets + February 14, 2016

The Caananite Woman

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, bless.

I'd like to send the following from St. Nikolai (Homilies, vol. II, page 175) as he explains why Christ called the Canaanite woman a dog.

The Lord deliberately spoke like this, as all the Jews had spoken, in order that the disciples should reflect and themselves come to the conviction that the understanding held by their nation was mistaken, and that this understanding was as much mistaken as was their nation's degeneration, its apostasy from God and its rejection and despising of Christ the Lord.
- St. Nicholai of South Canaan

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah


Readings and Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston Homepage

February 10, 2016 + The Fathers of the Church Have Not Grown Old

from Elder Moses the Hagiorite

The great Fathers of the Church are her great theologians. They are the God-bearers, the God-inspired, the God-moved, the Enlightened, those who rightly administer the word of truth in their life, their teaching and their works. The strain of their theological ascent is what it is, not only because of their constant study of Holy Scripture, but also because of their experiences, since the Word of Scripture became the earnest acceptance of their heart. All the Fathers of the Church are characterized by the holiness of their lives and orthodox doctrine.

There is a great need today to return again to the sacred patristic sources, which are always inexhaustible and life-giving. Great Fathers are not only the ancient ones but also the newer ones, who continue on the path of those who have greater experience from the useful past of the Church. Contemporary theologians need to study faithfully the works of our holy Fathers. Distortion or ignorance of the sacred tradition and the creation of a new Theology, which bypasses the Fathers, who are considered obsolete, with a language which is culturally fashionable, more complex terminology, incomprehensible sometimes even to themselves, neotheological, anti-ascetical, uncut, unattested, easy-going, joyful and very happy, but also as shallow, lukewarm and perfunctory.

Spiritual Nuggets + February 7, 2016

The Parable of the Talents

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, bless.

St. Theohylact (Explanation of St. Matthew, pg 216) gives us a plain explanation of what the talents are and why some were initially entrusted with more and some with less.

Into the vessel I offer to God, He places His gift to me. If it is a small vessel, a small gift; if it is a large vessel, a larger gift. For whether a man be gifted in speech, wealth, the authority of kingship, or any other power or skill, if he desires to benefit not only himself but others as well, he doubles what has been given to him. But he who buries the talent is he who cares only for his own benefit and not for that others, and he is condemned.
- St. Theophylact

May God bless us in multiplying our talents for His glory!

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah


Readings and Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston Homepage

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + February 3, 2016

Hebrews 9:11-14
Luke 2:25-38

Hebrews 9:11-14 (NKJV)
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Register Now for 2016 West Coast Sacred Music Institute

SACRED MUSIC INSTITUTE

Registration form and schedule for the 2016 West Coast Sacred Music Institute is now available! Make your arrangements today!

February 25-28, 2016,
St. John the Evangelist, Orinda, CA
Download Flyer (PDF)
Download Registration Form (PDF)
Download Schedule (PDF)

February 2016 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Please remember our prisoner-students. Let them know we care. They struggle with us, but we need your special donation to complete the task. (Mat. 25:34-40)

THE BOOK OF AMOS
THE ANOINTED ONE – THE VIRGIN – SEEK HIM AND LIVE

Last month we quietly introduced the Book of Amos – St. Athanasius Academy OSB-Old Testament, p. 996. A relatively short Book in page count, often put off in favor of oneo of the major Prophets. As a result, it is easy to see why its importance maybe overlooked, grasped, or even studied. It is not read during the Liturgical year. As a result, one understands why its profound depth is often overlooked and lacks the appreciation it deserves.

In preparation for translating and editing the Greek Septuagint into English, we discovered a research book regarding Amos, of 1,000 pages. Wow! It offered a detail of explanations that literally caught us off guard. Imagine 7 pages of Scripture needing 1,000 pages to help us understand all that was being said and offered.

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

Recent Ordinations, Appointments, Retirements and Assignments + February 2016

From the February 2016 issue of The Word:

Ordained

KAVANAUGH, Deacon Peter, to the priesthood by Bishop John on January 3, 2016, at St. Patrick Church, Bealton, Virginia. He is assigned to the pastorate of St. Benedict of Nursia Church, Wichita Falls, Texas, effective January 15, 2016.

MAHFOUZ, Deacon John, to the priesthood by Metropolitan Joseph on December 13, 2015, at Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Retired

ROONEY, Archpriest James, from the Pastorate of St. Benedict of Nursia Church, Wichita Falls, Texas, effective January, 15, 2016.

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