Dear Parish Faithful,
Out-of-Town for Funeral
Another reminder, that we will be leaving for Detroit later this afternoon for the funeral of Presvytera Deborah’s father on Saturday. I will be back for the Liturgy on Sunday morning.
Now Receiving Pledge Forms for 2012
In a recent Parish Council Meeting and a Steward Committee Meeting yesterday evening, it was disclosed by our treasurer that we have received 26 pledges thus far, following the early start of our 2012 pledge drive in October. We have around 88 total pledging units/households in the parish, so we have a ways to go before we reach our goal of 100% participation. Last year we received 56 pledges out of a possible 82; and we would certainly like to surpass that this year. It is the considered opinion of your parish Stewardship Committee, that we can increase parish participation in our pledge drive for 2012. Your pledge is as important as those of your fellow parishioners. To share with the “household of God” what each of us has been blessed with, is to act as a steward of the gifts we have received. It is your commitment to the well-being and stability of our parish, not only in the immediate future, but for the years to come. Please hand your pledge form into our treasurer, Steve Joachim.
To commemorate St. Nicholas
One of the most beloved saints of the Church is St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia (+4th c.) To commemorate St. Nicholas on the parish level, we will serve a Vesperal Liturgy on Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. This is to allow for more parishioners to prepare for and to receive the Eucharist on the feast day of this great saint of the Church.
An Akathist Hymn to St. Nicholas will be served on Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m.
New Day for Fall Adult Education Class
This week – and the next – we have shifted the meeting day of our last two sessions to Wednesday for our Fall Adult Education Class. We will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the education center. It has been a great class so far, and we anticipate two more lively sessions before we conclude our class. It is never too late to join us!
A New Birth
For those who may not have heard up to this point in time, Mike and Kara Fleisch are the proud parents of a baby boy born last Friday. Everyone is doing well. His name is Miles.
More New Faces at CTS
We continue to add new photos to our website of our new parish members. Please visit our web gallery to see our photo page and to “get acquainted” with our new parish members.
Stewardship & Pledging
Our Stewardship Committee made the decision to distribute pledge forms for 2012 as early as October this year. This would give everyone the opportunity to carefully and prayerfully deliberate over their pledge for the upcoming year. But it was also meant to allow the budget committee for 2012 more time to prepare the budget based on the received pledges. Please be attentive to our need to prepare next year’s budget in a timely, responsible and careful manner. As we are counting on your generous pledging for the financial well-being of the parish; we are also hoping that your pledge will be turned in in a timely fashion. Please see Steve Joachim once your pledge is prepared. Or you could give it me and I will see that Steve receives it soon thereafter.
New Members Through Baptism and Chrismation
Tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Natalia Listra, baby daughter of Joachim and Mia Listra, will be received into the Church through the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation.
On Sunday morning, one of our catechumens, Andrew Herbst, will enter the Church through the Sacraments of Chrismation and Communion. His confession of the Orthodox Faith and the seal of his confession will occur on Saturday evening following Great Vespers.
Celebration of Major Feast Day
The Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos Into the Temple will be celebrated with the services of the festal Great Vespers on Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m.; and the Divine Liturgy on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m.
Fall Adult Education Class – Session III
Our next class will be on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m.
*A further note to our class participants, as well as everyone who may be reading along at home: Ch. 3 is the longest in the book and one in which Met. Anthony writes on the topic he was most known for, and that is prayer. The writing here, in my estimation, is particularly insightful, challenging and deep. Therefore, it will be virtually impossible to cover the entire chapter in any kind of depth. In our class discussion, I will definitely concentrate on the long passage from Living Prayer, p. 98-101; Beginning to Pray, 46 p. 106-107; and perhaps some more. Since we want this to be a more-or-less open discussion, please mark the passages you find particularly interesting.
Offering Thanksgiving to God
As “Eucharistic beings” we offer thanksgiving to God for who we are and for what God has gifted us with. Our Orthodox version of the Thanksgiving holiday will include a Service of Thanksgiving on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. and culminate with the Eucharistic Liturgy on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.
Sunday’s Scriptural Readings:
Epistle: EPH. 2:4-10
Gospel: Lk. 12:16-21
Here is an article and a video of the recent Mission Trip to Project Mexico by a large number of Orthodox Christians, primarily of young people and primarily from our Midwest Diocese. The trip was organized in honor of the late Archbishop Job of blessed memory. One of the members of that team was our own Anastacia Taylor. I hope she appears in the video! We have a copy in the church, if anyone would like to borrow it.
Proceed to our Ministries page to read the article and watch the video...
November 20 (Sunday evening) at 6:00 p.m. – Great Vespers & Litiya for the Entrance of the Theotokos Into the Temple.
November 21 (Monday) at 9:30 a.m. – Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos Into the Temple.
November 23 (Wednesday) at 7:00 p.m. – Service of Thanksgiving.
November 24 (Thursday) – Thanksgiving Day Liturgy at 9:30 a.m.
This year’s Lazarus Basket collected an amazing $2,100.00! Clearly, the vast majority of our parish faithful get the point of the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. For three Sundays, while holding the Cross after the Liturgy, I watched as our basket kept filling up and overflowing. I will discuss the distribution of those funds to local people in need with the Parish Council at our next meeting on Saturday.
Reader's Service This Sunday at 9:30am
Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a substitute priest for this coming Sunday. As announced earlier in the week, I will be away in Detroit with presvytera, visiting her father whose health is declining quickly. Therefore, we will have a Reader’s Service beginning at 9:30 a.m. Church School will follow at around 10:00 a.m.
Upcoming in the Week:
Monday – Vespers at 7:00 p.m. Fall Adult Education Class – Session II at 7:45 p.m. We will read and discuss ch. 2 of Metropolitan Anthony’s writings.
Tuesday – Beginning of the Nativity Fast
It may sound surprising, but the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity is only six weeks away from this Sunday. That means that the forty-day Nativity Fast will begin on Tuesday, November 15. Our webservant has prepared and posted an excellent Nativity Fast Resource Page. This is a collection of essays, homilies and other meaningful material that will guide us through and into the mystery of our Lord’s nativity in the flesh.
We will postpone Andrew Herbst’s entrance into the Church until next weekend.
Sunday’s Scriptural readings:
Epistle: GAL. 6:11-18
Gospel: LK. 10:25-37 (Parable of the Good Samaritan)
On Sunday, Erin Tuttle and Robert Lockridge will be married in the Sacrament of Matrimony at 2:00 p.m.
Our Fall Adult Education Class will begin on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. Fliers with more information are available in the church.
I understand that we continue to post more photos of new parishioners on our webpage. Ellyn Gillette is our parish photographer, and these photos give everyone the opportunity to match a name and a face.
We would like to thank everyone who donated their time and energy last Saturday to a parish “clean-up.” The results outside are very visible.
Scriptural readings at this Sunday’s Liturgy:
Epistle: GAL. 2:16-20
Gospel: LK. 8:41-56
Tomorrow morning the baptisms of some of our new children and an adult will
begin at 9:00 a.m. Chrismations will follow on Sunday morning at the
A "tradition" that we have established for at least a few years now, is to
have a charity basket by the Cross on the Sunday of the Parable of Lazarus
and the Rich Man (Lk. 16:19-31). In fact, we actually call it the "Lazarus
basket." And that is coming up this Sunday, October 23. The point is to
re-actualize the parable, so that the basket represents Lazarus begging for
assistance; and each person approaching the Cross represents the rich man
who has the choice of noticing and responding to Lazarus - or of passing him
by with indifference. The content of our collection is then distributed
within our parish if need be; or within our neighborhood community. Since no
one is excited by the prospect of imitating the rich man - based upon his
fate in the parable! - these have been substantial baskets in the past which
has allowed us to help others in the name of Christ.
Parents, I am going to figure out a way by Sunday to also allow your
children to make a contribution to the Lazarus basket. (Perhaps the Church
School children can return to the church where the basket will be). Please
prepare your children by speaking to them about this, and have their
donation ready so that they too can practice almsgiving for those in need
according to the teaching of Christ.
From Presvytera Deborah:
Coffee Hour and Prosphora Ministries
It is that time of year to ask for new additions to the coffee hour and
church clean up list. This year it is most important as we lost two families
on the list (Gerasimchuk and Fleck). Please consider participating in this
important ministry and let me know by the end of November, as I hope to edit
and publish the new list in early December.
We are also looking for anyone interested in preparing Prosphora for the
Divine Liturgy. Please let me know if you would be interested in this very
important ministry by the end of November as well. You can contact me at:
Coffee Hour and Prosphora Ministries
On a lighter note...
CRIME AND PREJUDICE?!
I have very good students in my classes at XU. Most of these students enter
the class with no knowledge at all of the Orthodox Church, but leave having
written some excellent papers on challenging theological topics. I say that
by way of preface, because I am would like to share an odd and humorous
answer that just came in on a test, without making it seem as if I am
treating my students with condescension. Be that as it may, on a recent exam
one of the identifications was Fyodor Dostoevsky (we had been discussing the
religious culture of 19th c. Russia). One student wrote that he was the
author of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE! Not exactly Dostoevsky's style! What next:
Jane Austen as the author of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT?
Scriptural Readings at Sunday's Liturgy:
Epistle: II COR. 11:31-12:9
Gospel: LK. 16:19-31
Scroll down for more parish news...
On Sunday, October 16, we will celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage for Matthew Joyner and Ashley Ruckel at 2:00 p.m.
There are more new photos posted on our parish website. These are of new parishioners, and of those whose photos did not appear in the directory, etc. The point is to allow us to match up names and faces and to get acquainted with each other. We would like to thank our parish photographer, Ellyn Gillette, for her efforts.
Ralph has prepared a special feature on Science and Religion on our parish website. This is an extension of the excellent talk we heard the other evening delivered by Dr. Dan Buxhoeveden, our guest from the University of South Carolina. There are many excellent links to articles that explore this theme further from the writings and talks of Dr. Dan Buxhoeveden, together with some material from Fr. John Breck. There also videos of a talk on the “new atheism” and a wonderful interview with Fr. John Breck. And there are some photos from Tuesday evening’s event. Please take advantage of this stimulating material!
The Divine Liturgy begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. At what time do you arrive – and why?
Scriptural Readings for Sunday’s Liturgy:
Epistle: HEB. 13:7-16 (Fathers)
II COR. 9:6-11
Gospel: JN. 17:1-13 (Fathers)
Fall Adult Ed Class Begins Monday, Nov 7
For the upcoming Fall Adult Education Class, scheduled tentatively to begin on Monday, November 7, I have chosen the book Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh – Essential Writings. Metropolitan Anthony (1914 – 2003) - who was born in Switzerland to Russian émigré parents, lived in both France and Persia, and was ultimately a bishop with an Orthodox flock in England - left a considerable body of writing that has a distinctive “modern” feel in terms of style and his awareness of the surrounding world; but which also remains deeply rooted in the Church’s theological, spiritual and liturgical Tradition. His writing is very accessible and free of jargon; yet it remains deep, pastoral and inspiring. This fairly new book (published in 2010) contains a biography of his fascinating life, but is primarily a collection of carefully-chosen excerpts from his writings over the years.
The writings contained in this book are conveniently presented in six chapters, and since we always have six sessions for this class, we can read, study and discuss a chapter per session. As a man who moved from atheism to the fullness of the Orthodox Faith, there are no themes that Met. Anthony believes we should ignore out of fear of seeming weak or uncertain in and about the Faith. We will thus read his thoughts on “Creative Doubt,” “Death and Bereavement,” “The Absence of God,” “Despair and Prayer,” “Prayer Answered and Unanswered,” “Women in the Church,” etc. Those are just a few of the many themes that his writings take on in a creative and deeply pastoral manner. There is something for everyone here! Please plan on joining our class and discussions!
This book is available on amazon.com for only $13.00.
Attached is the Parish Life Calendar for September 2011 – August 2012.
A little behind schedule, admittedly, but hopefully a good resource for planning ahead in terms of church-related events (next year’s Great Lent and paschal cycle, for example). This calendar is far from exhaustive, and other events will be announced as they come up; but hopefully this provides a good over-all framework.
A reminder about our lecture event next Tuesday evening, October 11, at 7:30 p.m. Our guest, Dr. Dan Buxhoeveden, will deliver a talk entitled “Science and Christianity in Dialogue.” Guests have been invited, including the theology department at Xavier University. Even though it is a weekday evening, I am hoping that our parish will be well-represented so as to hear a timely talk on a key contemporary issue; to show our appreciation to Dr. Buxhoeveden who has added this lecture to his schedule of events while visiting Miami University; and to serve as hospitable and friendly hosts to any guests that we may have with us in the church.
Refreshments will be served following the talk and a Q & A session with Dr. Buxhoeveden.
Complete info here on our special page for the event.
We would like to thank Scott Kenworthy who has made the arrangements for this lecture.
Scripture Reading for Sunday’s Liturgy:
Epistle: II COR. 6:16-7:1
Gospel: LK. 7:11-16
Though I do not title my homilies(!), this Sunday’s could be called “A Tale of Two Widows,” which would also include LK. 21:1-4.
Marriage of Matthew Joyner and Ashley Ruckel on Sunday, October 16, at 2:00 p.m.
Baptism of Charlie Anderkin and his two sons, Oliver and Henry; together with the children of Matthew and Amanda Wheelock – Noah, Jonah and Ruby - on Saturday, October 22, at 9:30 a.m. Matthew and Amanda will be chrismated at the Liturgy the following day, October 23.
Chrismation of Lina Andersson and her two children, Annika and Spencer, on Sunday, October 30.
Our parishioner, Mia Lastra, gave birth to a baby girl early Saturday morning. Mother and child are doing well. The baby’s name is Natalia. Congratulations to Mia and her husband, Joachim!
That is “one down and four to go.” Our other expectant mothers remain Natalie Joachim, Kara Krueger, Kris Duke and Lina Andersson.
As I was preparing a list of our parish children yesterday for our prayer service, I discovered that in addition to the seventy children enrolled in our Church School, there are “around” twenty more that are still under-age for the school. So, from newborns to high school seniors, that is about ninety children/teens in our parish with – God willing – more to come!
Our webservant has informed me that there is a new announcement on our parish website: Orthodox Q & A Forum Returns. Once you click on the link, a form is provided through which you may ask your question. As you will read there, you may remain anonymous or not - that will be your decision. I would like to share the answers with the entire parish, so the answers will be posted on the website. I may use some of these questions for future post-Liturgy discussions. It may take some time in getting to any questions, or perhaps some research may need to be done. Please be patient for an answer. Again, questions should be related to issues within the over-all life of the Church; from the theological to the practical. No question is “too simple,” for any question leads us back to the Gospel and the worldview that we embrace as Orthodox Christians.
In preparing for my class at Xavier, I came across these words of a nineteenth c. Russian Orthodox bishop. This is Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow (+1867), who was eventually canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. In speaking of the importance of theological education, he said the following:
Commenting on the this approach of Met. Philaret, Fr. George Florovsky wrote the following:
Over the weekend, we received the first of our many catechumens into the Church. This was Matthew Joyner. Following his personal confession and a confession of Faith on Saturday evening, Matthew was chrismated yesterday and received Holy Communion for the first time as an Orthodox Christian. Everyone who was in church yesterday was able to both greet and meet Matthew following the Liturgy as he stood by the Cross. We wish Matthew many fruitful years within the life of the Church!
At left, you will find photos of some of our new members and catechumens. Over the next few weeks, this "photo gallery" will be expanded with other new members of the parish.
On Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. we will chant an Akathist Hymn to St. John the Evangelist and Theologian.
The Young Adult Group will meet at the home of the Taylors on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. If you would like further information, please contact Anne Taylor or Johnothon Sauer, our Young Adult Group leader.
Next Sunday, October 2, 4:00pm to 7:00pm, we will gather at the home of Paul and Kris Gansle in order to pray for our parish children. We will chant the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos - Nurturer of Children. We will have a talk following the Akathist and then a meal together. Paul and Kris will provide the meal, and ask that others bring a salad, dessert, and beverages. Please contact them ahead of time if you are planning on attending, so that they may plan accordingly: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have some international travelers in the parish:
Dinara Cox is already on her trip to Italy and Spain. Scott and Roberta Robedeau will be leaving for Paris and Germany on Tuesday. While in Germany they will visit the Gerasimchuks. Kyra Wesner’s husband, Dave, will be leaving for Singapore, I believe, early next week. Please keep them all in your prayers.
I spoke in some detail yesterday during our first post-Liturgy discussion of the upcoming Lecture Event in the parish on Tuesday, October 11, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture, again, is entitled: "Science and Christianity in Dialogue." We hope to see many parishioners present for this timely topic. Full info here.
We had a full day yesterday, both inside and outside of the church. The church was quite filled for the celebration of the Liturgy and the beginning of the Church School year. After receiving Holy Communion, our students went to their respective classes for first-day orientation. They will start on the curriculum next Sunday. And following the Liturgy we heard and saw Mother Gabriella’s presentation concerning the Dormition Monastery. We handed over a check to her for $1,500.00. However, with other donations made yesterday in the form of checks and money put in the basket, I am sure that our final contribution to the monastery will be near $2,000.00! I am sure that the monastic community will be quite grateful. May God bless all who contributed to the monastery in this collection! We will look forward to the completion and consecration of the new church on the monastery grounds.
Later in the afternoon, we had our annual picnic at Montgomery Park. This was pretty well-attended with many of our parish families and their children enjoying an afternoon of fellowship and sharing a meal together. We would like to thank all of our picnic organizers for again planning for a successful parish event.
A reminder of an upcoming event: The lecture “Science and Christianity in Dialogue” by Dr. Dan Buxhoeveden (Tuesday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m.). If you may know of any friends or acquaintances who would like to visit our church for this upcoming event, please make a copy of the flier I sent out on Monday and distribute them as you please. If you need me to re-send you the flier, please let me know.
Please visit the special page our webservant has set up devoted to the issue of Science and Religion, with a video lecture by Dr. Buxhoeveden together with an excellent essay of his. Further links will take you to the Science and the Orthodox Church in North America website, filled with interesting material. And an excellent and insightful video interview of Fr. John Breck talking about the ongoing dialogue between religion and science; theological assessment and reflection on the discoveries of contemporary science; and comments about the “evolution vs. creationism” debate that continues in North America. Many excellent resources there for our enlightenment!
Having to bid farewell to our parishioners: Dimitri and Juliet Haloulas with their children Eve and Isaac will be leaving the area to re-settle in San Francisco where Dimitri has accepted a new job offer with Safeway. As much as we regret having to part from them, we wish them the best when they actually make the move at the end of the month.
This past summer we had the largest Catechetical Class ever here in the parish. Most of our catechumens will now enter the Orthodox Church in the months ahead of us. There will be multiple baptisms and chrismations. A very exciting time in the life of the parish! The first will be Matthew Joyner, who will be chrismated on Sunday, September 25.
We had good attendance for the Feast of the Cross which we celebrated this week. Following Great Vespers on Tuesday and the Divine Liturgy on Wednesday morning, today we chanted the Akathist Hymn to the Spiritual Ladder, the Precious Cross at 7:00 a.m. with a few brave souls in the church. At Great Vespers and the Liturgy we had a few students present, and this morning we even had one of our parish teens present and praying before school started. We may continue to hope!
I just received this promotion from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery (where Mother Paula lives):
Second Printing of From the Monastery Kitchen. Our first printing of 450 cookbooks sold out quickly! This second printing has 487 recipes, 51 of which are Lenten main dishes, and 60 Lenten desserts. Dividers contain practical hints such as meat and egg substitutes and oil-free frying, as well as Orthodox teaching on eating from Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann and Rita Madden, a registered dietician. $11 each ($3 postage for first item, $1 for each additional item).
Send payments to:
Monastery Store, 321 Monastery Ln, Ellwood City, PA 16117
I am rather intrigued by the statement “Orthodox teaching on eating” by Fr. Schmemann and a dietician. An Orthodox worldview embraces all aspects of life.
Presvytera Deborah and I recently viewed a fascinating and intense film:
Bless You, Prison. This is a film made in Romania and directed by Nicolae Margineanu. Although the recipient of many international awards, this film is relatively unknown in the United States. This is unfortunate, because this is an excellent film that deserves a wider distribution due to its intrinsic value and the nature and presentation of its theme. The film is based on the autobiography of Nicole Valery-Grossu, a courageous woman who spent years in prison during the communist regime that suppressed all political dissent beginning in the late 40’s. Although a cinematic recreation of this woman’s life (played by the well-known Romanian actress, Maria Ploae), her harrowing story is told in a semi-documentary fashion with an unflinching realism. Nicole Valery-Grossu’s life became a nightmare almost instantaneously as prison conditions reduced her life to one of an unending series of interrogations, beatings and unrelieved deprivation. She sustained herself through faith in God (she was an Orthodox Christian), and by etching psalm verses that she had memorized as a child under her mother’s guidance, on the walls of her prison cell. She paid dearly for refusing to betray any other family members or friends. The inhumanity of her captors – from the highest prison officials to the lowest of guards – is a genuine glimpse into the “dark side”of human nature; while the perseverance and unbroken humanity of the film’s heroine and her unbroken commitment to such virtues as courage, honesty and truth, reveal the “bright side”of humanity illumined in her case, by faith, hope and love. Other prisoners were unable to sustain their own humanity on that level and many cursed the very idea of God in the process. Although the film chronicles a human being enlivened by faith in God, there is nothing “preachy,” didactic or sentimental in this portrayal. This is a hard-won faith that belongs to that mysterious realm of synergy: the grace of God and human freedom working in cooperation.
The title of the film is based on the words of the renowned Soviet dissident and novelist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who paradoxically developed a strong and mature Christian faith under the wretched conditions of life in a Soviet labor camp. Amazingly, Solzhenitsyn transformed his experience into a spiritual awakening for which he “blessed” his prison cell. Although not “graphic,” at least by the standards of some contemporary cinema, the torture scenes are not easy viewing, and would possibly be troubling for some.
Perhaps we can organize a group showing of this film in the future. I was hoping to eventually organize a film series that could meet in our education center. Here we could periodically view films of a “thoughtful nature” that combine excellence in both form and content and which could lead to some good discussions. Something of a complement or addition to our Reading Circle.