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Spiritual Nuggets + November 22, 2015

9th Sunday of Luke

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, Bless!

Blessed Fast!

This Sunday we read Luke 12:16-21, Christ's parable of the Plentiful Harvest. St Theophylact of Ochrid (The Explanation of St. Luke, page 148, tr. Fr. Christopher Stade, Chrysostom Press, House Springs, MO, 1997, pg 148) explains the disturbing phrase that your soul will be required of you that we'll read this Sunday.

May God bless us as we draw near to God in the Nativity Fast and also in the joy of the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God.

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah

Notice the words 'they will require.' Like some stern imperial officers demanding tribute, the fearsome angels will ask for your soul, and your will not want to give it because you love this life and claim the things of this life as your own. But they do not demand the soul of a righteous man, because he himself commits his soul into the hands of the God and Father of spirits, and he does so with joy and gladness, not in the least bit grieved that he is handing over his soul to God.
- Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid

 


Readings and Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston Homepage

Spiritual Nuggets + November 15, 2015

8th Sunday of Luke - The Good Samaritan

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, Bless!

This Sunday we read the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. The following brief excerpt from St. Nicholai's homily this on (Homilies, Vol. 2, 266) reminds us of the simplicity of our life in Christ.

I hope this propels us into the coming Nativity Fast with zeal and joy in service and self-sacrifice.

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah

See how, by this parable, the Lord brings both commandments about love together in one, Loving Him as our closest Neighbor, we thus love both God and man, and so fulfill at one stroke both commandments on love.
- St. Nicholai of South Canaan

2016 Winter Camp St. Raphael

Fr. Nicholas BelcherFr. Nicholas BelcherThe Diocese of Wichita Winter Camp 2016 (WAMP) will take place at Camp St. Raphael in Wagoner, Oklahoma from January 15th-18th, 2016. The retreat speaker will be Fr. Nicholas Belcher from Hellenic College/Holy Cross. Teens in 7th-12th grade can register for the retreat at www.2016wintercamp.eventbee.com.

Questions? Contact DOWAMA Youth Director Erin Ghata at erin.ghat@gmail.com.

Young Orthodox Professionals Gather in Santa Fe, NM

Valerie Blomberg writes:

"As Orthodox young people gather, personal isolation ceases to influence the development of their Orthodox identity."

These are the words Archimandrite Gerasim, dean of St. Seraphim's Cathedral in Dallas and our keynote speaker, gave us before the start of the Orthodox Young Professionals Retreat held in Santa Fe, New Mexico from October 16-18, 2015. We felt his words to be true as a community of Orthodox young adults formed over the course of the three day retreat. Most of us were strangers to one another at the start, but soon became fast friends. Personal isolation fell away as we discovered a community of like-minded young adults who would support us in answering the call to "sanctify time and space" and to bring Christ into the midst of our everyday lives.

Have a Blessed Holy Nativity Fast

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

As I stared at my key board for over a month, I could not seem to write a word about the terrible conditions in Israel/Palestine. I am simply just shocked. It is September 28,2000 all over again when the 2nd uprising started. People are fed up and cannot tolerate occupation anymore. The non-violent action on the ground has gotten little attention so its seems violence grabs the media. I have my own personal problem of being denied a three month visa so I am forced to travel and try my luck in returning home next week.

I will offer a discussion following vespers at 6:30 pm, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at St. Mark Orthodox Church (7125 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20817, vesper service at 5:30 pm).

I will pray at our sister church of St. George in Bethesda for Sunday Liturgy and hope to have a wonderful fellowship with the Sunday School children. Let us all pray together for a miracle to have our world guided by the True Light of Christ. I feel we have gone back to the time of St. George and the early centuries in witnessing for Christ, the prince of Peace and the salvation of the world.

With sincere good wishes for a blessed Holy Nativity Fast as we prepare our soul for our Savior,
maria

 

2015 Nativity Greetings from Bishop Thomas

NATIVITY OF CHRIST 2015

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord, the destroyer of sin and death, finds none free from the charge, so He comes to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to being pardoned. Let the Gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on Him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered.
– St. Leo the Great, Sermon 21 on the Nativity of Christ

The universality of what is begun in Christ's coming to our earth should give us all hope. He did not come only as the Messiah of the Jews, but also as the Christ Who invites all of us to life. He did not come only to give salvation and victory to the saint but also pardon and gladness to the sinner, transforming him into a saint.

November 18, 2015 + Reflection on Giving Alms to the Poor

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The Lord said: Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:40).

Similar things happen in almsgiving and in Holy Communion. In Holy Communion we receive the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of bread and wine; in almsgiving we give to the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of the poor and needy. A certain man in Constantinople was unusually merciful. Walking along the streets of the city, he would press his gift into the hands of the poor and hurry onward, so he would not hear their gratitude or be recognized. When a friend of his asked how he had become so merciful, he replied: "Once in church I heard a priest say that whoever gives to the poor, gives into the hands of Christ Himself. I didn't believe it, for I thought, 'How can this be, when Christ is in heaven?' However, I was on my way home one day and I saw a poor man begging, and the face of Christ shone above his head! Just then a passerby gave the beggar a piece of bread, and I saw the Lord extend His hand, take the bread, and bless the donor. From then on, I have always seen Christ's face shining above the beggars. Therefore, with great fear I perform as much charity as I can."

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + November 11, 2015

I Thessalonians 4:1-12
Luke 12:48-59

I Thessalonians 4:1-12 (NKJV) 
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

Diocese of Charleston Holds Clergy Synaxis at Antiochian Village

Fr. Noah Bushelli writes:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 134:1)

The priests of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic enjoyed a few days of "Indian Summer" at Antiochian Village. This came at the perfect time for me, after the crown of Church's New Year and re-energizing the ministry programs after the summer.

I especially appreciated the time in discussion and fellowship with our beloved Bishop Thomas, and all our brother clergy. The Village is a perfect setting for this, with serene and scenic trails, comfortable gathering spaces, and the grounds hallowed by the relics of saints, the resting place of our beloved hierarchs, and prayers of campers. If all of this free exchange of ideas weren't enough, we "the shirts" came back to beat "the cassocks" in bocce on the back lawn!

The services were beautifully celebrated with hearty singing and punctuated with very profound sermons. I especially am grateful that in the sunset service we had in the cemetery a memorial for Metropolitan Philip and a supplication to St. Raphael.

We had our pastoral vision refocused by a presentation of Dn. Paul Abernathy about his ministry in inner city Pittsburgh's FOCUS Center. He related that all of Christian life, especially ministry, requires a step of faith. He told stories demonstrating how we must listen to people before we can help them. He reminded us that we can't be afraid to preach the truth, even in the face of our national crises, social ills, and the need to raise money.

Paul Abernathy Ordained to Holy Diaconate

His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:

Beloved in Christ, May God bless you always. May God grant many years to the newly ordained Deacon Paul Abernathy and his wife Kristina. Deacon Paul was ordained this morning at the church of Ss. Peter and Paul at the Antiochian Village. He is attached currently to St. George Church in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.

November 2015 DOWAMA Ordination and Elevations

Bishop Basil with the newly-elevated Archpriest James Shadid and Archdeacon Joseph Carter.Bishop Basil with the newly-elevated Archpriest James Shadid and Archdeacon Joseph Carter.His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! On Sunday, November 1st, Fr. James Shadid and Deacon Joseph Carter, both of St. George Church in Houston, Texas, were elevated to the rank and dignity of Archpriest and Archdeacon respectively.

WORTHY! On Sunday, November 8th, Subdeacon Paul Fuller, former youth director at St. George Church in Houston, Texas, now in his senior year at St. Vladimir's Seminary, was ordained to the holy diaconate.

Sacred Music Institute Fact Sheet

Theme:

  • Their Sound Has Gone Forth into All the Earth: Orthodox Music in North America

Date:

  • February 25-28, 2016
  • Begins Thursday Evening with Registration from 6:00-7:00 P.M.
  • Concludes with Sunday Divine Liturgy

Host:

  • St. John the Evangelist, Orinda, CA

Headliner:

  • Nazo Zakkak – Director, Composer, Orthodox Choir Director, Jazz Musician

Spiritual Nuggets + November 8, 2015

Holy Archangels

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, Bless!

As we celebrate the feast of the great Archangels Michael and Gabriel and the Heavenly Hosts this Lord's Day, I hope that you are edified by the following teaching from St. Maximos the Confessor.

There are three things that impel us towards what is holy: natural instincts, angelic powers and probity of intention. Natural instincts impel us when, for example, we do to others what we would wish them to do to us (cf. Luke 6:31), or when we see someone suffering deprivation or in need and naturally feel compassion. Angelic powers impel us when, being ourselves impelled to something worthwhile, we find we are providentially helped and guided. We are impelled by probity of intention when, discriminating between good and evil, we choose the good.
- St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 32)

May they not depart from us despite our stubbornness in sin!

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah

PS - I also encourage everyone to read the following treatises on the Angelic Hosts:

Writings of His Grace Bishop John

His Grace Bishop John Abdalah, of the Diocese of Worcester and New England, is the longtime editor of the Archdiocese's official news magazine, The Word. Over the years, he has written on a wide range of spiritual topics for the edification of the faithful, a selection of which are archived here.

Latest Article:

Meeting the Needs of Our Church School Children

The church school teachers of New England gathered in January of 2017 at the Chancery for a workshop sponsored by the Department of Christian Education. Our workshop leader was Dr. Iona Popa, an educator, psychiatrist and pious orthodox christian. The teachers were challenged to approach the church school class as a kind of liturgy, which parallels or continues the Divine Liturgy itself. The classroom is a place where the Mount Tabor experience is brought into the world: a holy place where our children will encounter God; a special place where we tap into the life of the Trinity made incarnate by Jesus Christ. As in the Divine Liturgy, in the classroom we use all of our senses.

Dr. Popa pointed out that children learn differently from each other. Some are auditory learners, others visual, and still others kinesthetic. By learning how our class and each of our children learn, we can be more successful in communicating the good news of Jesus Christ. To assess learning style, Iona suggested that we ask the children to give us directions to a place either in the church complex or to an area with which they are familiar. Those who are visual learners will describe landmarks. Those who are auditory learners may speak slowly to hear their own words or talk a lot as they process and conceptualize the journey. The kinesthetic learners will use their hands and maybe their feet in demonstrating how turns are made to get to the destination. Learning how they learn allows us to craft a more effective lesson.

November 11, 2015 + Akathist to the Mother of God: Nurturer of Children

Victorious Leader and Good Nurturer of the Christian race, we Thy servants, delivered from evil, sing out grateful thanks to Thee. But as Thou hast invincible might deliver my children from all dangers that with tears I may cry to Thee: Raise my children (names), to be made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven, and make them heirs of eternal blessings.

Ikos 1
Intercede with Thy Son and God, O most Holy One, that an angel from heaven be sent to my children, just as to Thee was sent a most mighty protector, the Archangel Gabriel; and vouchsafe me to cry to Thee thus:
Raise my children to be earthly angels.
Raise my children to be heavenly men.
Raise my children to be Thy servants.
Raise my children to cry out to Thee:
"Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord with Thee!"
Raise my children (names), O Lady, to be made
worthy of the Kingdom Of Heaven and make
them heirs of eternal blessings.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + November 4, 2015

I Thessalonians 2:1-8
Luke 11:42-46

I Thessalonians 2:1-8 (NKJV)
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

November 2015 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

IN PREPARATION FOR HIS NATIVITY: LUKE 19: 10

"I came to seek (those who sit in darkness), and to save that which was lost (our relationship with Him)."

He Who is the Image and Wisdom of the Father – the Word of God – became Incarnate to dwell in our midst. Why? Because His chosen people lost remembrance of Him as their Lord and Savior. They instead, choose to turn away from Him, even after being forewarned for generations.

As a result: 1) their path became one of self-destruction, and 2) their relationship with the promised One was being lost to a state of hopelessness. The outcome: The false and fearful teachings of death, Satan, and Hades, reigned over all made in His Image, of His likeness, and clothed in flesh.

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

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Hosts the First Metropolitan New York Pan-Orthodox Clergy Retreat

On Monday November 2, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph hosted the first pan-Orthodox clergy retreat for the clergy of metropolitan New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Little Falls, New Jersey. Other hierarchs in attendance were His Eminence Archbishop Michael (Dahulich) of the OCA diocese of New York and New Jersey and His Grace Bishop Nicholas of the Antiochian Archdiocese. The retreat was attended by more than 30 members of clergy and was led by Metropolitan Joseph. The theme for the retreat was "Holy Nation, Holy Diaconate, Holy Priesthood and Holy Episcopate."

His Eminence focused on the key attributes that must be present in every Orthodox Christian across the categories of layman, deacon, priest and bishop, emphasizing the need for holiness and decorum.

St. Mary's Church in Goshen, IN to Celebrate the Feast of St. Raphael with Mother Gabriella

On Saturday, Nov. 7, Mother Gabriella, abbess of Holy Dormition Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan, will join St. Mary Antiochian Church in Goshen, Indiana, for the feast day of our beloved St. Raphael Hawaweeney.

Divine Liturgy begins at 8:30 am, and then Mother Gabriella will give two talks on the subject "Being Human."

Spiritual Nuggets + November 1, 2015

5th Sunday of Luke

Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters, Bless!

This Sunday we are reading our Lord's Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. I'd like to share this true and terrible corollary from St. Ephrem the Syrian (Commentary of Tatian's Diatessarion 15:12-13) to help us broaden our Lord's teaching to encompass more than than just physical alms.

"We can not hope for pardon at the end unless the fruit of pardon can be seen in us."
- St. Ephrem the Syrian

In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah

November 4, 2015 + The Cross as a Means of Sanctification and Transformation of the World

by Protopresbyter Dumitru Staniloae

...The Cross is the cleansing force of the universe. And when we make the sign with faith and determination, for a pure life in the world, the power of the Spirit of Christ comes, of Him Who was pure in the world. And we avoid sin and await death. The Cross gives us this power of Christ because, bearing it in mind, we want to imitate its example and behave in the world without selfish passions, in a spirit of mature restraint, peace and concord with others.

"The Cross is a weapon against the devil," sings the Orthodox Church. It's a weapon against all those temptations and machinations of the devil, against the passions which cause altercations, against intractability. The Cross is a weapon against the devil insofar as it reinforces within us the spirit of sacrifice, of communion with God and each other.

Only the Cross, by taming our selfish passions and loosening our excessive attachment to the world, which is held to be the only reality, can bring lasting peace among people and nations.

Recent Ordinations, Appointments, Retirements and Assignments + November 2015

From the November 2015 issue of The Word:

Ordained

HENRE, Deacon Patrick, to the holy priesthood by Bishop Basil on September 13th, 2015, at the Church of St. Basil the Great, Kansas City, Kansas. He is assigned as proistamenos, effective October 1, 2015, at the Church of St. John the Theologian, Rapid City, South Dakota.

PHILLIPS, Schema-monk Theodore, to the diaconate by Bishop John on September 27, 2015, at St. Mary's Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hiero-deacon Theodore serves at the Monastery of Our Lady and St. Laurence, Canon City, Colorado.

TALIAFERRO, Kenneth, to the diaconate by Bishop John on September 13, 2015, at St. Peter Church, Fort Worth, Texas. He is assigned to that parish.

Elevated

MONTO, Priest John, to the dignity of Archpriest by Bishop Thomas at Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, Maryland. He is attached to that parish.

PALMER, Deacon George, to the dignity of Proto-deacon by Bishop John on September 13, 2015, at St. Peter Church, Fort Worth, Texas.

His Beatitude Patriarch John X in Good Condition after Fall

As you may know, our Father in Christ, His Beatitude Patriarch John X suffered a fall and some injuries to his eye and shoulder. The official statement of the Patriarchate has been published in Arabic and can be read here.

The statement reports that His Beatitude is in good condition and that he will need a period of hospitalization and convalescence.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph asks all of the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to join him in prayer for our Father in Christ Patriarch John X and to ask our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the only Physician of our souls and bodies, to bring healing to His Beatitude.

 

Orthodox Institute 2015

Educate the adults and you won't need church schools!"

In Christian education circles, we have spoken of the need to educate adults for years with phrases like, "Christian education doesn't end with church school," "Total Parish Education," and most notably the name of our yearly event, "The Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education in the Faith." Converts from fundamental churches are pleased to find that Orthodoxy offers a treasure chest of resources for growth in the faith, from the church mothers and fathers, to icons, to hymnography. Yet, in many churches the focus is on educating the children with perhaps only one class, taught by the priest, for adults.

October 28, 2015 + The Path to Salvation

by St. Ambrose of Optina

Our salvation, according to St. Peter Damascene, is located between fear and hope, so that we do not have self-confidence and do not despair, but with blessed hope in the mercy and help of God, we strive to conduct a life in fulfillment of the Divine commandments.

According to human reasoning, the path of salvation, it would seem, should be a smooth path, quiet and peaceful; but according to the words of the Gospel, this path is sorrowful, difficult, and narrow. The Lord said, I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword (Matt. 10:34).

What does a person need in order to learn the ways of the Lord? A person needs to be meek and humble, and then the Lord Himself will teach him how to walk the way of the Lord.

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