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July 2016 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

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

THE FAITHFUL BRIDE OF JESUS – QUEEN ESTHER - BOUNDLESS IN HIS GRACE
In honor of the many wonderful women living the gift of His boundless grace.

Summer is often a good time to read and again consider The Orthodox Study Bible - Septuagint Old Testament. May we offer the Book of Esther, (p. 596). The life of Esther is an inspiring reminder of the critical importance and absolute significance of the faithful women of Scripture. Without such magnificent women, and the healing gift of His grace, the faith – once held sacred by the Virgin Temple (Book of Amos) –may have been permanently lost to the folly of man.

Esther was a young girl among the many Jews exiled from Judah under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. She had been raised as a proper young Jewish lady by her uncle, Mordecai.

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

Bishop Anthony Celebrates Hierarchical Liturgy at Parish Life Conference

At the conclusion of a wonderful and successful Parish Life Conference, on Saturday, June 25, 2016, His Grace Bishop Anthony celebrated a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the priests and deacons of the Toledo Diocese.

See the photo album at the Facebook page of the host parish, St. Mary's Basilica in Livonia, Michigan.

Need for Charity after West Virginia Flooding

Fr. Christopher Eid, Dean of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, writes:

Your Eminence, Yours Graces, Reverend Clergy and Esteemed faithful,

Master bless,

Greetings to you all and your families in the name of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ; I pray you all had a blessed feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

The entire state of West Virginia has undergone, recently, heavy rain which caused a deadly and devastating flood. Most of the counties in the State of West Virginia were severely affected by this flood disaster. At least eight counties are eligible to receive federal assistance by FEMA. Roads, houses, farms, businesses, malls and schools were, if not destroyed, at least damaged by water, sewage or mud. Many of the infrastructure is no longer qualified to be reoccupied or repairs will cost more than clean up and rebuild. Many of these areas lost power and drinking water. In addition to that sad situation, it was reported that in some areas there were looting incidents. To say the least it is an extremely sad and difficult situation.

Some newscasts report that the state is back in business after the rain has seceded. That is far from the truth. Large numbers of lives have not gone back to anything close to normal and may never go back to what was normal. Roads are not passable. Houses are not on even ground anymore. Cars destroyed. Trees have been uprooted and electrical wires destroyed. Supermarkets are no more. Water is not available for drinking or washing.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + June 29, 2016

Romans 5:10-16
Matthew 8:23-27

Romans 5:10-16 (NKJV)
Brethren, if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

Feast of the Holy, Glorious Apostles Peter and Paul + June 29

Verily, the all-solemn Feast of the two Apostles hath arrived, bringing us salvation. Wherefore, let us mystically exult, crying unto them: Rejoice, O ye who have become luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the Sun! Rejoice, O Peter and Paul, adamant pillars of the divine doctrines, ye friends of Christ and two honored vessels! Be ye present among us in an invisible manner, and grant immaterial gifts to those who extol your feast with songs.

--Doxasticon of the Feast, Tone 6

Our prayers for all of the parishes and faithful who celebrate their namesday with this Feast, the Patronal Feast of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

Sheet music for this Feast is available here courtesy of the Department of Sacred Music. Download "The Akathist Hymn to the Holy Apostles" here.

June 29, 2016 + About How the Slothful Man Excuses Himself

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The slothful man says: A lion is outside; in the streets I might be slain! (Proverbs 22:13)

In order to justify his slothfulness, the slothful man emphasizes the difficulties and obstacles of a certain task and magnifies them beyond measure. If a man annoys him, he will say that the entire village annoys him; if the leaves rustle, he will justify that he is unable to go to work because of a storm; if a rabbit is in front of his house, he will say it is a lion! He says this in order not to leave the house and to delay his work.

Teacher Resources on Pinterest

Are you familiar with the popular content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and ideas to share on the world's catalog of ideas? It's called Pinterest! If you haven't visited yet, you definitely should! As a teacher, aren't you always looking for new ideas to share with your students and compliment the subject you are covering? The AODCE has made it simple! Visit our pinterest page at www.pinterest.com/aodce for lessons, crafts and resources for all of your lesson planning needs. You'll find information about Saints, Icons, and Feast Days, as well as suggestions for classroom displays, working with children with special needs, and Orthodox family life. If you are already a Pinterest user, follow our boards! If not, joining Pinterest will provide you with a valuable organized resource tool for teaching Orthodoxy to our students!

Dn. David Jacobs Ordained to Priesthood

On Sunday, June 26, 2016, His Grace Bishop Thomas ordained Deacon David Jacobs to the Holy Priesthood at St. Mary Church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

May God Grant him many years!

The Great Feast of Pentecost

The spring of the Spirit hath come to those on earth, dividing noetically into fire-bearing rivers, moistening the Apostles and illuminating them. The fire hath become to them a dewy cloud, lighting, and raining flames upon them, from whom we received grace by the fire and the water. Verily the fire of the Comforter hath come and lighted the world.
+ Orthros of the Feast  

Read Fr. Ayman Kfouf's reflection (PDF) on the significance of the Pentecost icon.

Read Fr. Andrew Damick's reflection, "Where is the Power of Pentecost?"

Children will enjoy listening to Chrissi Hart read from an Ancient Faith Publishing children's book about the Feast.

Resting in Christ While Savoring the Simple Joys This Summer

Happy summer!

It is the time of the year in North America that children (and, many times, their teachers, too!) anticipate for months. School lets out for a length of time, routines change, and life is different. It is a good and much-needed respite. But do we parents anticipate the summer as our children do? If not, why not? Should we?

Many of us eagerly await the additional time with our children while simultaneously feeling overwhelmed. How will we keep them busy all summer? What will they do? How can we keep them learning? How can we make sure they don’t lose any of their freshly-acquired skills that they have just learned this year in their studies? What can we do to encourage their growth, both physically and mentally? How can we multiply their positive social skills? How can we best help them to rest from the intensity of school? Considering all of these questions simultaneously is daunting, and aiming for perfection with each is nearly impossible.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + June 15, 2016

Acts 25:13-19
John 16:23-33

Acts 25:13-19 (NKJV)
And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying: "There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. To them I answered, 'It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.' Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

June 15, 2016 + On How the Holy Spirit Is Sent

by St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359

A short while ago, with the strong eyes of faith, we beheld Christ ascending, no less clearly than those accounted worthy to be His eye-witnesses. Nor are we less favored than they. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed", says the Lord (Jn. 20:29), referring to those who've found assurance through hearing, and see by faith. Recently we saw Christ lifted up from the ground bodily (Acts 1:9). Now, through the Holy Spirit sent by Him to His disciples, we see how far Christ ascended and to what dignity He carried up the nature He assumed from us. Clearly He went up as high as the place from which the Spirit sent by Him descended. He Who spoke through the prophet Joel showed us whence the Spirit comes, saying "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28), and to Him David addressed the words, "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit; they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth" (Ps. 104:30). It follows that at His ascension Christ went up to the Father on high, as far as His Fatherly bosom, from which comes the Spirit. Having been shown, even in His human form, to share the Father's glory, Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father and is sent by Him from Heaven. But when we hear that the Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son, this does not mean that the Spirit has no part in Their greatness, for He is not just sent, but also Himself sends and consents to be sent.

Memory Eternal! + Fr. Gregory Heers

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

Memory Eternal! Fr. Gregory Heers, retired in Simpsonville, South Carolina, fell asleep in Christ on June 12, 2016. May he be granted Paradise, and may you be granted long life.

Two Possible Ways to Teach Church School Students about Ascension

1. Take your students on a hike. Find the highest point of your church's property, and have your class there. (If you are unable to do so, ask your students about the highest place they've ever been. How far could they see? What did they see? Imagine that you have all hiked to that spot together.) When you arrive at that high space, talk about the Ascension. Pretend together that you are the disciples, reunited with your Lord after the difficult time of His death and the joy of His resurrection. How do you feel, having Him in your midst again? If He invited you to the top of the hill like this, would you go with Him? What if He stood in the middle of you and began to talk: would you listen? If He began to tell you He will be leaving, how would you feel? What would you think about? When He suddenly began to float up from the ground and keep rising into the sky, right in front of you, what would you think? (If you are outside, you could demonstrate this with a face "of Christ" drawn on a helium balloon attached a really long string - so you could eventually retrieve it - or with a small plastic toy "Christ" taped to a kite that flies as high as you can get it to go from your picnic spot.) And what if He got so high that He disappeared in the clouds? (If you've done the demonstration mentioned, you will need to retrieve the balloon or kite now, noting that we're not Christ, so we can't do what He did!) Even though we can't actually lift into the sky like that, we can imagine what it must have been like for the disciples left behind! What if, as you were talking about Christ leaving and disappearing in that way, suddenly there were two other men there with you, asking what you're looking for, and telling you that Jesus will come back again someday? How would you react? What would you think? What would you do next?

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + June 8, 2016

Acts 1:1-12
Luke 24:36-53

Acts 1:1-12 (NKJV)
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey.

Important Information Concerning Registration for the 2016 Summer Sacred Music Institute and Youth Music Ministry

We have had an extraordinary response for the Sacred Music Institute this year. Antiochian Village is nearing maximum capacity for lodging and is in the process of arranging off-property lodging (which will include shuttles to and from the Village).

Registration, as a result, has been put on hold. To be put on a waiting list please e-mail Paul Jabara at sacredmusic@antiochian.org. You will then be contacted via email once registration reopens. Thank you for your patience and understanding and please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.

To accommodate this inconvenience, the early bird deadline has been further extended to July 2.

Please rest assured that there will be enough rooms to accommodate everyone.

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

As the angels, O Savior, wondered at Thy strange elevation, and the Disciples were amazed at Thy dread rising, Thou didst ascend in glory, being God, and the gates were lifted up for Thee. Wherefore, the heavenly powers were surprised, shouting, Glory to Thy condescension, O Savior; glory to Thy reign; glory to Thine Ascension, O Thou Who alone art the Lover of mankind.

--Orthros of the Feast

On the fortieth day after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He was taken up into the heavens in a cloud. 

"The cloud which today envelopes Jesus and ascends with him to heaven represents the smoke of the sacrifice rising from the altar to God. The sacrifice is accepted, and the victim is admitted to God's presence where it will continue to be offered in an eternal and heavenly manner. The work of our salvation has been accomplished and is blessed."

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + June 1, 2016

Acts 14:20-27
John 9:39-10:9

Acts 14:20-27 (NKJV)
However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed. Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Fr. Meletios Marx Ordained to Holy Priesthood

Fr. Meletios MarxHis Grace Bishop Basil writes:

AXIOS! Fr. Meletios Marx of St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas was ordained to the holy priesthood at St. Joseph Church this past Sunday, May 29th, 2016, and is assigned second priest at that parish. He is currently serving his "Week of Liturgies" at St. Joseph Church.

June 2016 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

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

THE FAITHFUL BRIDE OF JESUS – THE ANOINTED SON OF HIS FATHER
In Honor and Blessed Memory of Mary Ellen Braun

THE INDISPENSABLE WOMAN
– Proverbs 31:10-11 –

"Who can find a virtuous woman? For such a woman is more valuable than precious
stones. Her husband's heart trusts in her; he does not need the spoils of war."

Yes, her husband can count on his faithful bride be his helpmate; to putting her talents to work on behalf of her family, as a first priority. Such a person is remarkable and true reflection of the divine Wisdom of the Great I AM. Yet when first read, this may seem rather simple. However, with the Light of His Transfiguration, the words reveal a deeper sense of our relational intimacy with our Lord and Father, and between husband and wife. It is here, when imitating and walking in His divine steps, we find our very best thinking and doing – a true crown of glory. Such a walk, was the walk of Mary Ellen, a walk of faith she continues in Paradise.

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

June 8, 2016 + "Condemned" to Be Immortal: Part 5

by St. Justin Popovich
(...continued from Part 4)

Indeed, if there is one fact with which one could summarize all of the events in the life of Christ and of the Apostles, and more generally in all of Christianity, that event would be the Resurrection of Christ. Moreover, if there is a reality which summarizes all of the realities of the New Testament, that reality would be the Resurrection of Christ. And finally, if there is one miracle in the Gospels which can be said to summarize all of the miracles reported in the New Testament, that miracle would be the Resurrection of Christ. For only within the light of the Resurrection are the person of Jesus Christ and His work made miraculously known. Only within the light of the Resurrection are the miracles of Christ, all of His truths, all of His words, and all of the events of the New Testament fully explained.

Up to the time of His Resurrection, the Lord taught about eternal life; but in the Resurrection, He shows us that He Himself is Eternal Life. Up to the time of His Resurrection, He taught about the Resurrection from the dead; but in the Resurrection, He showed that He Himself was indeed the resurrection of the dead. Up to the time of His Resurrection, He taught that belief in Him took one from death to life; but in His Resurrection, He showed that He Himself had conquered death and had thus assured those afflicted by death of passage from death to resurrection. Yes, O indeed, yes: the God-Man Jesus Christ, by His Resurrection, showed and demonstrated that He is the only true God, the only God-Man among all humankind.

June 1, 2016 + "Condemned" to Be Immortal: Part 4

by St. Justin Popovich
(...continued from Part 3)

In our mundane world, death is the greatest torment and the most hideously cruel thing. Freedom from this torment and cruelty is precisely what salvation is. Such salvation was given to the generation of man only by the Conqueror of Death, the Resurrected God-Man. Through His Resurrection, He revealed to us the whole mystery of our salvation. Salvation means to be guaranteed immortality and eternal life for the body and for the soul. But how do we succeed in this? Only in the life of the God-Man, in the life of the Resurrection, through the Resurrected Christ.

For us Christians, life on this earth is a school in which we learn how to secure for ourselves immortality and eternal life. For of what benefit is this life, if we cannot attain to eternity within it? But for a man to be resurrected with Christ, a man must first die with Him and live the life of Christ as his own. If he does this, then on the Day of Resurrection he may say, along with St. Gregory the Theologian: "Yesterday I was crucified with Christ, today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him, today I am given life with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him, today I rise with Him."

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

O almighty Savior, Who didst pour forth water for the Hebrews from a solid rock, Thou didst come to the land of Samaria, and addressed a woman, seeking of her water to drink, whom Thou didst attract to faith in Thee, and who hath now attained life in the heavens everlastingly.

--Exaposteilarion of the Feast, Tone 2

On this day, the fifth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the Samaritan Woman.              
When thou camest to obtain corruptible water, O woman,

Thou didst draw forth living water that washeth away the soul’s stains.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + May 25, 2016

Acts 10:34-43
John 8:12-20

Acts 10:34-43 (NKJV) 
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."

Congratulations to New DOWAMA Seminary Graduates

His Grace Bishop Basil writes:

MANY YEARS! Two sons of DOWAMA, Fr. Paul Fuller of St. George Church in Houston, TX and Samonas "Sam" Kim of St. Elias Church in Austin, TX, graduated from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY this past Saturday, May 21st, 2016 with the degree of Master of Divinity (M.Div.). They are pictured here with Fr. Chad Hatfield, another son of DOWAMA, who currently serves as Chancellor (CEO) of St. Vladimir's Seminary.

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