Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church
Archpriest Steven C. Kostoff
4285 Ashland Ave, Cincinnati OH 45212 - (513) 351-0907

The BAPTISM of CHRIST in the JORDAN - (Jan 6) - The Great Feast of Theophany is the first clear manfestation of the Holy Trinity within history. As the hymn for the Feast tells us, "When Thou O Lord wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His Beloved Son, and the Spirit in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word..."

Following close on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, the Feast of His Baptism heralds the restoration of all nature, and establishes for us the signifance of baptism, while revealing the Mystery hidden befoe the ages. House blessings begin following this feast also. Sign up in Church to have your home blessed, and explore this great and profound feast on our Theophany Resource Page.


FALL ADULT EDUCATION CLASS -  Join us for our Final Class Session on Thursday, January 9 at 7:30pm! We will be covering the heresy of Gnosticism which should provoke some lively discusson. Class notes for this session here. Full info and links to order the book on our Adult Education page.


Jan. 6, 2013

The BAPTISM of CHRIST in the JORDAN - (Jan 6) - The Great Feast of Theophany is the first clear manfestation of the Holy Trinity within history. As the hymn for the Feast tells us, "When Thou O Lord wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His Beloved Son, and the Spirit in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word..." House blessings begin following the Great Blessing of Waters at this feast also. Explore this great and profound feast on our Theophany Resource Page.


Jan. 21, 2014

MEETING OF THE LORD (Feb. 2) - This theologically rich feast falls on a Sunday this year. Plan now to join us for Great Vespers on Saturday, Feb. 1, when the hymnography of the Church presents the spiritual meanings gleaned by the Fathers from this event in the Lord's life. Explore our Festal Resource Page for special articles and features.


March 3, 2014

FR STEVEN TO LEAD LENTEN RETREAT - Fr Steven will be leading a retreat on Saturday, March 15, at St Athanasius Orthodox Church, Nicholasville KY. Full info and how to register here.

 

Parish Cleanup this Saturday at 9:00am! Many hands make light work!

April 1, 2014

 

Parish Pre-Paschal clean-up 

Saturday, April 5

Beginning at 9:00am

The more the merrier - and the quicker!

Dear Parish Faithful,

A full parish "clean-up" is scheduled for this Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.  This gives us the opportunity to prepare the church as a "bride" prepared to meet the Bridegroom as He emerges from death and the life-giving Tomb.  The more cleaners that we have, the sooner we can be done.  Parents, this is an excellent opportunity for your children to develop a sense of service and responsibility to the Church.

-- Fr Steven

Some people have already volunteered. Please contact Mickey Callender if you want to commit "up front," or simply "come as you are" to lend a hand. Both indoor and outdoor jobs are available for all levels of fitness. Youth are welcome! Young children should be accompanied by parents or an adult.

This is always a time of peaceful, but lively and happy fellowship, as we all pull together to prepare the church building, hall and grounds for Holy Week and the Lord's Pascha.

 

 

Fr Steven to lead Lenten Retreat, Sat. March 15

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

"Finishing the Race"

Attached is the flier announcing a Lenten retreat that I will lead on March 15, at St Athanasius Orthodox Church (OCA) in Nicholasville, KY, outside of Lexington:

- Fr Steven

 

 


GREAT LENT - Humility, charity, and our return to the house of the Father are some of the lessons of this holy season, and we are called by the Church to 'come to ourselves' through the path of repentance offered by Great Lent. Explore our extensive Great Lent Resource Section, and join us on the journey!


GREAT LENT RESOURCES - Lent is called the 'Springtime of the Soul', and is loved by Orthodox Christians for its 'joy-producing sorrow'. Immerse yourself in our selection of godly readings and special resources designed to lead us through the Journey of Lent and to the radiant light of the Lord's Pascha.


HOLY WEEK - Full schedule, with many helpful articles, videos and resources as we follow the Lord to the Cross...


March 23, 2014

MEMORY ETERNAL! FR ALEXANDER ATTY - The former pastor of St Michael's Orthodox Church in Louisville, and former dean at St Tikhon's Seminary, has fallen asleep in the Lord. Special message from Fr Steven, with links to podcasts by Fr Alexander Atty available on our special page here.


HOLY WEEK - Schedule and resources for Lazarus Saturday-Palm Sunday, and for all the many Holy Week services; many helpful articles, videos and more as we follow the Lord to the Cross...


Feb 20, 2014

GREAT LENT CALENDAR - In printable PDF format - With all services for Lent and Holy Week, fasting guidelines, special schedule notes, and more. Also available in church as an attractive trifold.


April 20, 2014

BRIGHT WEEK and the PASCHAL HOURS - 'Now all is filled with Light!'  This radiant week following Pascha is unlike any other. Find out why on our special page, and pray the Paschal Hours, which replace our daily Morning and Evening prayers thrugh Saturday of Bright (or Renewal) Week. This radiant, joyous and brief Paschal Rule of Prayer exults in the Resurrection of the Lord — Included in most Orthodox prayer books, and in PDF format here. Truly the Lord is Risen!

Coffee with Sister Vassa, Readers Needed, more

April 16, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Coffee With Sister Vassa

I would highly recommend this youtube video as we have entered Holy Week and look forward to Pascha. I am sure that you will not only learn a great deal but also enjoy Sister Vassa's down-to-earth style filled with good, practical advise for how children can participate in Holy Week and Pascha, both at home and in the church. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jWw-0T1Fy4

Sister Vassa's video podcasts are also featured on Ancient Faith Radio.

 

Readers Needed

On Great and Holy Friday, we have readers for the Third Royal Hour (10:00 a.m.) and the Sixth (11:00 a.m.); but still need readers for the First (9:00 a.m.) and Ninth (Noon). Please contact me if you would like to read one of those Royal Hours.

 

Candles for Children

The church has provided small votive candles in holders for the children to use during the holy week services and Paschal Liturgy.  These candles have proven safer than the traditional taper candles and the potential for wax dripping outside the holder is minimal.  These candles can be found on the table with the taper candles in the rear of the church.

If the holder becomes uncomfortable for your child to hold, simply blow it out and wait a few minutes for it to cool and then relight the candle.

Please return the candle holders to the table at the end of the service.  Candles left in the pews have the potential to be knocked over and the wax to spill.

 

 

The Lord\'s \'Voluntary Passion\', Vigil at the Tomb, much more

April 15, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 
 
The Lord's 'Voluntary Passion'
 
The final Dismissal at the Bridegroom Matins services begins with "May the Lord who is going to His voluntary passion..."  This powerful expression is very insightfully treated by the distinguished Orthodox theologian, Andrew Louth, in his new book An Introduction to Eastern Orthodox Theology:
 
 
"The verses that we sing during Holy Week in the Orthodox liturgy speak a great deal about Christ's 'voluntary passion.'  Every service between Palm Sunday evening and Holy Thursday ends with the priest's blessing which begins:  'May the Lord who is coming to his voluntary passion [to hekousion pathos] ... '  There is a kind of deliberate contradiction - or paradox - in that expression. For a pathos is essentially something that happens to us, that overwhelms us, that we suffer, whereas what is voluntary is something that we do.  We do not decide to die:  it is the ultimate pathos, something that happens to us.

"But not, we believe, in the case of Christ ... Christ does not succumb to death, but rather encounters death and overthrows it; he descends into the place of the dead, Hades or hell, and liberates those who had been held there since Adam, beginning with Adam and Eve, as we see in the icon of the resurrection, or the Anastasis...
 
"This belief that Christ did not succumb to death, but overcame death; something manifest in the resurrection, when he demonstrated that death has not taken him, but he has overthrown death - it is this that is the fundamental Christian belief."


 A wonderful reflection from Fr. Andrew Louth that anticipates the paschal mystery of the Lord 'trampling down death by death."  (It is this new book of his that we will read together in the Fall when our Adult Education Class begins).
 
 
 
The Final Bridegroom Matins
 
This evening at 7:00 p.m. we will serve the Bridegroom Matins of Holy Wednesday - 'in anticipation,' as we say.  This will be the final opportunity to participate in this profound service for this year.
 
 
Vigil at the Tomb of the Lord
 
There are many time slots remaining on the Vigil sign-up sheet for reading at the tomb of Christ, beginning after the Matins of Holy Saturday, served on Friday evening.  This would include reading from the Psalter until the Liturgy of St. Basil on Saturday morning; and then continuing with the Acts until the Paschal Nocturns Saturday evening.
 
 
The Light Shines in the Darkness
 
Feel free to use a candle for light if you are following the service in the appropriate Holy Week service book during one of the services. The interior of the church is darkened during Holy Week, but the candle that you hold and use for 'illumination' will signify the light of Christ that shines in the darkness.  But please remember to always use one of the circular wax-catchers with your candle!
 
 
Anointing With Oil
 
The Service of the Anointing of the Sick will be served on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.  This year we will not first serve the abbreviated Matins for Holy Thursday. We will serve the Anointing service exclusively in its full form.  This anointing is for the healing of both soul and body - for sickness exists within the body with physical ailments; and in the soul through sin.  It is preparation for the final days of Holy Week so that we enter those sacred days having confessed our sins and having been anointed with God's forgiving grace. 



 

Holy Week Services, Way Over Goal, What\'s His Name?, more

'Behold the Bridegroom Cometh at Midnight...'
'Behold the Bridegroom Cometh at Midnight...'
April 11, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 
 
Holy Week Services
 
If you still need a listing of the services for the upcoming Holy Week, there are still many copies left of our Lenten trifold.  They are available in the church.  Or, please check our schedule page.  For this weekend:
 
Friday - Vespers at 7:00 p.m.
 
Saturday - Divine Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday at 9:30am
                  Great Vespers with a portion of Matins with blessing and distribution of palms, at 6:00pm
 
Sunday - Divine Liturgy for Palm Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
                Bridegroom Matins at 7:00 p.m.

Monday & Tuesday - Bridegroom Matins at 7:00pm

Wednesday - Matins with Anointing at 7:00pm
 


 
Way Over Our Goal!
 
Last week, in a short article entitled "Will We Reach Our Goal?" in relation to our Lenten Charity Collection on behalf of the suffering children of Syria, I wrote that I envisioned a basket overflowing with generous donations on Sunday (April 6) that would help us easily reach and even surpass our goal of $2,000.00.  Not only did that happen, but perhaps to an even greater level than I had confidently hoped:  As of this communication to the parish, our collection is now $3,103.00!  We will soon send that in to the IOCC as a tangible sign of our deep concern and compassion for those families and children that are suffering hardships we cannot even fathom.  For those who offered a donation, may the Lord bless your offering  and maintain your heart in a spirit of compassion for those who suffer great injustice in this world.
 
 
 
What's His Name?
 
I recently experienced a "first" since I began teaching at XU twenty-five years ago:  A couple of the questions on a recent exam concerned the narrative about Adam and Eve in GEN. 2-3.  One of my students initially referred to the "first-formed" man and woman as Atom and Eve!  I thought that that was a humorous mistake or oversight.  However, throughout her entire answer it remained Atom and Eve!  I repeat, that is a real "first" in my teaching experience.  I am unaware of two more archetypal names in all of Western civilization, so this one caught me by surprise, I must say.  Basic knowledge of the Bible can no longer be taken for granted I continue to learn.  (I wrote the correction in the margin).
 
 
 
Scriptural Readings for Sunday's Liturgy
 
Epistle: 4:4-9
Gospel:  JN. 12:1-18
 

 

Great Canon & Life of St Mary of Egypt, Parish Cleanup, more

St Mary of Egypt - Life, Resources, Model of Repentance
St Mary of Egypt - Life, Resources, Model of Repentance
April 2, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

St. Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia

I recently wrote a meditation on the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. That Liturgy will be served on the upcoming - and last - Sunday of Great Lent; and then on Holy Thursday and Saturday. This meditation has been posted on the OCA website. If you have yet to read it and would like to, here is the link: http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-steven-kostoff/on-the-liturgy-of-saint-basil-the-great

 

Presanctified Liturgy

There are only two remaining Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts for this Great Lent - this evening (Wed. April 2) at 6:00 p.m. and next Wednesday. If you would like to experience this service, and have yet to do so, you are running out of opportunities. We will share a pot-luck Lenten meal following the service.

 

Looking for Readers

Tomorrow evening (Thurs. April 3), we will read aloud the incredible Life of St. Mary of Egypt, in the context of an edited chanting of the Canon of Repentance by St. Andrew of Crete (we will do Part IV). We still need two more readers to volunteer for the reading of St. Mary's Life. Please contact me if you are interested.

 

"O Champion Leader"

We will chant the beautiful Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. This particular Akathist remains the prototype of the many akathist hymns that have been written down through the centuries. This is not a popular service in our parish, but it remains one that all of the various Orthodox Churches, within their local traditions, continue to chant at its appointed place of the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent (usually done "in anticipation" on Friday evening). The service will begin at 7:00 p.m.

 

Preparing for Pascha

A full parish "clean-up" is scheduled for this Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. This gives us the opportunity to prepare the church as a "bride" prepared to meet the Bridegroom as He emerges from death and the life-giving Tomb. The more cleaners that we have, the sooner we can be done. Parents, this is an excellent opportunity for your children to develop a sense of service and responsibility to the Church.

 

 

Schedule, Parish Cleanup, Confessions, more

Icon of the Akathist Hymn
Icon of the Akathist Hymn
Icon of the Akathist Hymn
March 31, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Announcements

For those who were not at the Liturgy yesterday (Sunday) morning, the schedule of services for this upcoming week is as follows:

 

Confessions

As I said in church yesterday, I have no intention of hearing confessions during Holy Week. The forty days of Great Lent is long enough of a period for a practicing Orthodox Christian to make up his/her mind to "find the time" to come to Confession. Please contact me for a good time.

Visit our special page on Confession and the Sacrament of Repentance.

 

 

 

The Fourth Sunday, The Great Canon & St Mary of Egypt, more

March 28, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Approaching the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent

On the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent we commemorate the author of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and that is St. John Klimakos (of the Ladder). St. John was the abbot of St. Katherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai, and there he wrote his great classic in response to other monks seeking his counsel and wisdom. In monasteries, the Ladder is read to this day in the refectory while the monastics are taking their meals. Archbishop Kallistos Ware said that following the Bible and the liturgical services, it remains the most widely-read book in the Church.

 

Fifth Thursday of Great Lent - the Canon and St. Mary of Egypt

The entire Canon of Repentance by St. Andrew of Crete (about 276 troparia with accompanying bows!), together with the reading of the Life of St. Mary of Egypt, is prescribed for the Fifth Thursday evening of Great Lent. That is a bit much, so we turn to the fourth part of the Canon and divide it up so as to leave room for the reading of St. Mary's Life. We read the Life in three parts, and so we need three readers for the beautiful Life of St. Mary, one of the greatest pieces of Christian hagiography that we are blessed to possess. By the Fifth Thursday of Great Lent there is much interest/energy/desire left to come to the church for the Canon, and accordingly this service is poorly attended. But this is the original place for this service. The division of the Canon into four parts spread over the first four evenings of Great Lent is a much later development. In addition, to listen attentively and prayerfully to St. Mary of Egypt's Life in the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the church can be a powerful experience - different than reading the Life at one's own leisure at home. That is something that cannot be explained, but only experienced.

Be that as it may, I am hoping to have three volunteer readers for Thursday evening's service. Each section of the Life takes about ten minutes of reading. Please contact me if you would like to read one of the sections.

 

Scriptural Readings for Sunday's Liturgy

Epistle: HEB. 6:9-12

Gospel: MK. 9:17-31

 

Orthodoxy in Guatemala, Memorial Saturday, Lenten Film

Thousands of Mayans Embrace Orthodoxy in Guatemala
Thousands of Mayans Embrace Orthodoxy in Guatemala
March 27, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

The Orthodox Faith in Guatemala

Here is a link to an article outlining a fascinating development in Guatemala among the native Mayan population. There is the possibility that tens of thousands of Mayans may eventually become Orthodox Christians. Although not directly involved in the process at this point in time, our good friend Madre Ines of the Hogar was part of the earlier process when this movement was just beginning. Many of the North American catechists that are in Guatemala were introduced to Guatemalan culture through their earlier mission ties with the Hogar. If this proves to be successful, this "mass conversion" will be one of the great missionary efforts of the Church in centuries.

http://oca.org/news/headline-news/st.-vladimirs-seminary-to-present-mayan-orthodoxy-explosion-of-faith-may-18

 

Praying for the Departed

On Saturday we will serve this Great Lent's Liturgy for the Departed, often called Memorial Saturday, at 9:30 a.m. The second, third, and fourth Saturdays of Great Lent are so designated. We choose one of those Saturdays each year for this Liturgy. Following the Liturgy, we will serve a separate Memorial Service for the Departed.

 

Any Late Comers to the Film?

A final reminder that presvytera Deborah and I are hosting a showing of the film Of Gods and Men at our home Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. Please let us know if you will be joining us. (Seniors get a discount).

 

 

Funeral Service for an Orthodox Priest

March 26, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Funeral Service for an Orthodox Priest

Presvytera Deborah and I drove together with Wayne and Karen Krueger to Louisville yesterday evening for the funeral service of Fr. Alexander Atty at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church (the parish that Fr. Alexander served for many years). We met our good friend Ralph Sidway there, who made the long trip up from Alabama. It was all together an unforgettable experience. There were about thirty priests present together with three deacons under the guidance of Bishop Basil Essey (of Wichita, I believe, in the Antiochian Archdiocese.). The presence of so many priests, coming from many distant states, was a clear testimony of the love and respect which so many people have for Fr. Alexander.

 

This was itself a wonderful tribute to Fr. Alexander, for if we can say anything about him that is accurate, it is that he never sought to be "popular." Quite the contrary!

 

The large and beautiful church was filled to overflowing. Bp. Basil is a true shepherd and it was his prayerful presence and Christ-like leadership that created an atmosphere of warm and intense communal prayer that filled the church and which did not abate for a moment in the two-and-a-half our service. There was a huge choir that sang not only respectfully and reverently, but with great beauty and a depth of expression that clearly moved the entire gathered assembly. I am hard pressed to call to mind such an intensely moving experience in my entire priestly ministry as participating in this funeral service. Sorrowful and sad; but imbued with a faith in the Risen Lord that was almost palpable among everyone present.

 

I had a very similar experience at the funerals of Frs. Alexander Schmemann (1983) and John Meyendorff (1996), both my teachers and former deans of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary. It was a real privilege to be present and participating as a brother priest on behalf of Fr. Alexander. Presvytera and both Wayne and Karen had the same experience as we shared on the ride back home. Memory Eternal to Fr. Alexander!

 

Schedule, Memory Eternal, Prayer Requests, more

Feast of the Annunciation (March 25)
Feast of the Annunciation (March 25)
March 24, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 
Here are the announcements made in church following the Liturgy yesterday:
 
 
A Full Week
 
The services for the week are as follows:
 
Monday - Great Vespers at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday - FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION; Divine Liturgy at 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday - Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at 6:00 p.m.
Friday - Akathist Hymn Part IV at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday - Liturgy for the Departed at 9:30 a.m.
 
The Feast of the Annunciation is the one "festal interlude" that occurs at some point during Great Lent. If March 25 falls on a weekday, it is the only day on which the full Liturgy can be served during Great Lent.  Thinking that two vesperal Liturgies almost back-to-back would be a bit challenging, we will celebrate Great Vespers this evening and the Liturgy on Tuesday morning.  If you cannot come on Tuesday morning, then perhaps this evening remains a possibility.  This is the feast of the Incarnation, for the Word assumed "flesh" when He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Visit our Annunciation Resource Page.
 
Our diaconal class will meet on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.  If you would like to join us for a discussion of the Epistle of James, Jude and perhaps II Pet., please feel free to do so!
 
 
Fallen Asleep in the Lord
 
I recently announced that Fr. Alexander Atty was nearing the end of his earthly life, and we heard yesterday that Fr. Alexander died early Sunday morning. He will be buried at St. Tikhon's Seminary; yet funeral services for a priest will be held for him at his long-time parish of St. Michael's in Louisville.  I will be travelling to Louisville tomorrow evening with some of our other parishioners.  Memory eternal to Fr. Alexander!
 
 
Praying for Others
 
Ann Kormos remains in the hospital with double pneumonia, and at her age any such condition can be threatening.  So please keep her in your prayers.  Gary George is still recovering, and we hope to see him soon.  Please continue to keep Gary in your prayers.
 
 
Expanding List of Expectant Mothers
 
We continue to pray for Elva Hill and Mia Lastra and their preborn children.  We are glad to announce that an addition to that list is Nika Boyd.  Congratulations to Nika and John!  Please now add Nika to your list. Who will be next?
 
 
Coming to the Film?
 
Presvytera and I will be hosting a film at our home next Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m.  The film is "Of Gods and Men."  Please let us know if you plan on attending.



 

St Gregory Palamas, \'Before Thy Cross\', Lenten Cinema, more

March 21, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 
St. Gregory Palamas - the Preacher of Grace


We commemorated St. Gregory Palamas last Sunday, so we think on his great theological legacy throughout this Second Week of Great Lent.  Below are two fine articles written by Ralph Sidway that he sent me earlier in the week.  If you would like to further immerse yourself into this great Church Father, Ralph's two posts will take you far into that pursuit.
 
_____
 
Fr. Steven

I thought you might be interested in seeing my two posts on St Gregory Palamas, a brief one today in which I consider his abduction in 1354 in context with the recent abductions of the nuns and bishops in Syria, and a longer, more carefully developed article which I posted last June, which tries to present his theological discussions with his Muslim captors. St Gregory's year in captivity is such a fascinating and little known episode from his later years, with so much of instruction and inspiration for us today, that it seems quite providential.

http://facingislam.blogspot.com/2014/03/st-gregory-palamas-as-model-for.html
http://facingislam.blogspot.com/2013/06/st-gregory-palamas-confessor-and.html

_____



Friday Evening Service

We will chant the Third Part of the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos this evening.  I will do some "editing" concerning the service, so as to leave some time for a "spiritual reading" in the church which will last for 5-10 minutes.
 


 
"Before Thy Cross"

As the Third Sunday of Great Lent is the Sunday of the Cross, the decorated Cross will be brought into the midst of the church in procession tomorrow evening towards the end of Great Vespers.  Attendance at Great Vespers is never that good as it is, but perhaps this beautiful and meaningful rite of the Church will draw some more of the faithful to the church in preparation for the Lord's Day Liturgy on Sunday.
 
 
Lenten Cinema
 
Presvytera Deborah and I would like to invite any interested parishioners to our home on Sunday evening, March 30, at 6:30 p.m. for a film  that we believe is appropriate for the Lenten season.  And that would be Of Gods and Men, a 2010 production that won some "best foreign language film" awards (not the Oscar, which probably says something  good about the film).  It is about a group of Trappist monks in Algeria who have an excellent relationship with the local Muslim population, and who must face the menacing threat of a growing Muslim fundamentalism and the stark choice that that threat will leave them.  An excellent film that takes one to the limits of the Gospel injunction to "bear one's Cross."  Please let us know if you would like to join us, so that we can plan appropriately (no butter on the popcorn, of course).
 
 
Scriptural Readings for Sunday's Liturgy
 
Epistle:  HEB. 4:14-5:6
Gospel:  MK. 8:34-9:1
 
The homily will incorporate a discussion of the Suffering Servants Songs found in Isaiah 40-55 (IS. 40:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12)
 

 

A Good Friend, New Parishioners, Confessions, more

Fr Alexander Atty
Fr Alexander Atty
Fr Alexander Atty
March 20, 2014

Originally sent to the Parish email list on Wednesday, March 19.

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

A Good Friend is Gravely Ill

One of my good friends -and someone known to others in the parish - is Fr. Alexander Atty. Fr. Alexander was the priest of St. Michael's in Louisville for many years before becoming the dean of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary in South Canaan, PA, for a short time before his retirement from active pastoral ministry. Fr. Alexander has been bravely battling cancer for many years. But Fr. Alexander appears to be drawing near the close of his earthly life as he is now in the care of Hospice.

Please keep Fr. Alexander in your prayers as he approaches his end, but also approaches the "Gladsome Light" Whom he served faithfully for so many years.

 

SPECIAL PODCASTS featuring FR ALEXANDER ATTY:

Listen to a 17 minute podcast featuring Fr Alexander speaking candidly and very movingly of his illness, his ministry, his spiritual father on Mount Athos, and our life in Christ. Recorded in late October 2013.

Listen to Fr Alexander's talks on the Good and Faithful Orthodox Christian, from the 2009 St Vladimir's Seminary Lenten Retreat:

 

Greeting New Parishioners

Here is a link to our photo gallery on our parish website, with a new photo of Romain and Dona, who are now worshiping in our parish. http://christthesavioroca.org/gallery.html

 

Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

For the Third Week of Great Lent, we will serve the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gift this [Wednesday] evening, beginning at 6:00 p.m. This service was not that well-attended last week, and we certainly hope to see more of you here this evening. We will share a Lenten meal together following the service. So please bring something to share with others.

As a note: It is already the Third Week of Great Lent, and though it may seem at times that Lent moves at a glacial pace, the truth is that it is soon over and we are wondering at how it actually passed so quickly. Meaning: you may have made plans and commitments to attend at least some of the specifically Lenten services, but have not been able thus far. Then, before you know it, the season has ended and your plans and commitments did not come to fruition.

Great Lent is liturgical as well as personal. The two balance each other and support each other. To go through Great Lent without attending the Presanctified Liturgy is a huge omission, I believe. If you completely missed the Canon of Repentance in the first week, then that omission becomes even more glaring. Think of what you would not deprive yourselves of, if you had the opportunity, even if it meant doing something "inconvenient;" and then apply that same level of commitment - and desire - to the nourishment of both your soul and body in the "all-revered days" of the Great Fast. Allow your children to experience the Lenten atmosphere of the Church, so that they will grow up with it as a "natural" part of their lives.

 

Confessions Saturday Morning

I am hoping that more students and/or their parents - or anyone in the parish for that matter - will sign up for Confession during the Saturday sessions that I am offering. For this coming Saturday, March 22, the 10:00 - 11:00 hour is filled up; but that leaves 9:00 - 10:00 & 11:00 - Noon, still open.

Note: If you have not been to Confession for a long time - like last year's Great Lent - then you should not be approaching the Chalice until you do come to Confession. This should also apply to our older teens, who need to be aware of their own commitment to Christ in the Church at this point in their lives.

 

Repose of Metropolitan Philip

I just discovered that Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese "fell asleep in the Lord" yesterday.  Below is a link to the news as presented on the OCA website:

http://oca.org/news/headline-news/holy-synod-prays-for-newly-departed-metropolitan-philip

 

 

\'Presanctified\' Liturgy, Prophet Isaiah

March 12, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
 
To strengthen us as we pass over the "desert" of the Fast, we receive the Eucharist during the week days of Great Lent even though the full Liturgy and the consecration of the Holy Gifts is not allowed keeping with the spirit of the Fast.  So the "presanctified Gifts" - consecrated at the previous Sunday's Liturgy - are kept on the altar table to await reception at what is essentially an extended Vespers service culminating with the distribution of the Eucharist near the end.  This is like the Hebrews receiving the gift of heavenly Manna as they passed through the wilderness en route to the Holy Land.
 
The service will begin at 6:00 p.m.  A fellowship meal will  follow in the church hall.  Please bring either food or drink to share with others.
 
 
The Prophet Isaiah
 
The Book of the Prophet Isaiah is appointed to be read during the forty days of Great Lent.  This year I will draw material for the Sunday homilies from this book, at least on the Second and Third Sundays of Great Lent.  (Haven't thought through beyond those Sundays yet!).  In case, you may want to read ahead in preparation, for this coming Sunday I will summarize the prophet's "message" from ch. 1-12 but definitely concentrate on the great vision of Isaiah 6 and on how it permeates our liturgical and personal prayer.  Then for the Third Sunday there will be a great jump into ch. 40-55, yet concentrating on the four Suffering Servant hymns found in 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-6;52:13-53:12.  These will be linked to the Sunday of the Cross.

 

This Week\'s Schedule, more

March 10, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

Announcements from yesterday, for those who were not in church:

We celebrated a wonderful Sunday of Orthodoxy Liturgy that culminated in the traditional procession with icons by our Church School students.

For the Second Week of Great Lent the only service will for the week will be Wednesday evening's Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at 6:00 p.m. We will share a Lenten pot-luck meal following the service, so please bring something to share if you intend to stay for the meal.

As I will be going down to the Lexington area for a retreat, there will be No Great Vespers on Saturday evening. I will be back for the Liturgy on Sunday morning.

 

(Scroll down for more news, and info on the retreat in Nicholasville KY on Saturday, March 15.)

 

 

Sunday of Orthodoxy, Spring Forward, Anointing Service, much more

March 8, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

Icon Procession
 
Following the Liturgy on Sunday, the Church School students will process through the church carrying icons, a traditional practice as we commemorate the Sunday of Orthodoxy which, as an historical event, re-established the icon in the Church after a bitter dispute over the icon's legitimacy.
 
 
Spring Forward
 
Our clocks need to be set forward one hour this weekend before going to bed Saturday night with the change to Daylight Savings Time.  If you fail to set your clocks ahead, you will arrive one hour later than usual for Sunday's Liturgy.  For those who come late as it is, that will pretty much eliminate the Liturgy for you!
 
Speaking of the Liturgy, we will now serve St. Basil's Liturgy for the five Sundays of Great Lent. Booklets with the text of St. Basil's Liturgy will be available when you arrive in church on Sunday morning.
 
 
Sacrament of Anointing
 
We have been invited to St. George Russian Orthodox Church in Loveland to participate in the Sacrament of Anointing on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m.  As of now, I plan on participating.
 
 
What Are You Reading?
 
Hopefully, with the First Week of Lent almost behind us, you have already chosen the book(s) that you intend on reading for this year's Great Lent.  What book of the Bible have you chosen?  What book of Orthodox thought - theology, spirituality, etc.?  If you are having a difficult time deciding, I would be glad to make a recommendation or two that may serve your particular interests and needs.  Please feel free to contact me.  The bookstore still has copies of The Lenten Spring by Fr. Thomas Hopko; and Great Lent by Fr. Alexander Schmemann.
 
If you are looking for an Orthodox Prayer Book, we have three copies of an excellent edition published by St. Tikhon's Seminary Press simply entitled Orthodox Daily Prayer.  It is pretty comprehensive, and has the advantage of using the same translations that we use liturgically.  This is an excellent hardbound edition that only costs $15.00.  Every Orthodox Christian should have a Prayer Book on hand for personal use!
 
For those who would like to read  more about praying effectively, establishing a Prayer Rule, etc., our bookstore is carrying a couple of copies of the excellent book The Path of Prayer by St. Theophan the Recluse, one of the greatest teachers on prayer from 19th c. Russia.  In this book you will find four short sermons on prayer that are direct and accessible.  St. Theophan's goal is to assist all Orthodox Christians in establishing a personal Rule of Prayer, and to pray with more concentration and focus. This book is a little classic!
 
 
Scriptural Readings for Sunday's Liturgy
 
Epistle:  HEB. 11:24-26, 32-12:2
Gospel:  JN. 1:43-51

 

 

Schedule for the First Week of Lent, much more

March 3, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 

Great Lent — The First Week

Although I am not quite sure what happened in the greater Cincinnati area last night - and in your respective neighborhoods - the actual accumulation of snow here in Norwood is far below what had been predicted.  It was a good snow, but hardly a snowstorm.  There is no real difficulty of access to the church (the walkway will be shoveled clean by this evening) and parking should not pose any serious problems.  Therefore, we will proceed with our schedule of services for the first week of Great Lent as initially planned.  That schedule is as follows:
 
• The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete - 7:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday evenings.

• Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts - 6:00 p.m. on Friday (fellowship meal to follow in the church hall).

• Church School confessions (parents too) - 9:00 a.m.-Noon on Saturday.
 

As I have written before:
 
In Church we encounter God and not mammon.  We are losing the battle with cell phones, smart phones, I-pods and I-pads, twitters, TV sitcoms, "American idols" and the rest.  What passes for culture today basically promotes endless spending and entertaining; and a lack of silence and stillness because of a "go for it" attitude that slows down for no one or nothing - including God!  There are times when we must say NO to that and keep our focus on God.  Great Lent is that time.  As the Apostle Paul said: "Redeem the time, for the days are evil." (EPH. 5:16) 

The First Week of Great Lent is quite remarkable, especially in its unique liturgical services.  I strongly urge everyone to make it to at least one of the services for this week. I also urge parents to do the same with their children, at least those of school age and up. It is good for the impressionable souls of your children to experience the Lenten worship of the Church.  Holiness, virtue and basic decency are the fruits of your life in the Church.  We need to make the most of our opportunities as they arise.

 

 

Lenten Retreat, Forgiveness Vespers & Beginning of Lent, more

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
February 28, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

"Finishing the Race"

Attached is the flier announcing a Lenten retreat that I will lead on March 15, at St Athanasius Orthodox Church (OCA) in Nicholasville, KY, outside of Lexington:

 

 Forgiveness Vespers and the Beginning of Great Lent

 

This coming Sunday brings us to the very eve of this year's Great Lent, and actually we will liturgically enter into Great Lent with the service of Forgiveness Vespers following the Liturgy and a Sisterhood-sponsored meal in the hall (more on that below). Sunday itself is called "Forgiveness Sunday" based on the Gospel (MATT. 6:14-21). The only way that we can properly enter the Lenten season is to first forgive each other as our heavenly Father has forgiven us. This is the way of the Gospel. Never an easy thing to do, but with God all things (including forgiveness!) are possible. Please consider remaining for the Vespers and the rite of forgiveness with which the service culminates. To exchange the kiss of peace (I COR. 16:20), and to seek forgiveness from our neighbors as well as offer forgiveness when asked, takes a certain courage together with a firm commitment to follow and embody the precepts of Christ.

I also highly encourage everyone to make an honest effort to attend at least one of the first four evenings of Great Lent on which we chant the Canon of Repentance of St. Andrew of Crete (7:00 p.m.) - especially if you have never attended this service or only rarely. It is perhaps the Lenten service par excellence. Prayerfully listening to the Canon being chanted, making the bows of repentance with a certain rhythm, and enjoying the silence of the church, will convince everyone that Great Lent is something to be approached and practiced with seriousness. Make room in your busy schedules - even if it is inconvenient!

And, of course, in the first week of Great Lent we serve the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Friday (6:00 p.m.). A Lenten meal of fellowship will follow the service on Friday evening. Bring bring either food or drink to share.

 

Cheesefare Sunday Meal on Sunday

The final Sunday of before Great Lent is also called Cheesefare Sunday. The St. Katherine's Society will prepare a meal for us this coming Sunday as we are preparing to embark upon the Lenten journey in earnest. Donations are strongly encouraged, as the money collected will be designated for charitable purposes by the Sisterhood.

 

Confessing Our Sins

Another reminder, that on the first Saturday of Great Lent, March 8, I will be in the church from 9:00 a.m. - Noon to hopefully hear the confessions of at least some of our Church School students. So far, only one family has signed up (!), so please keep this in mind. I have also reserved the third Saturday of Lent, March 22, for the same purpose. It is virtually impossible to hear everyone's confession before or after Great Vespers on Saturday evenings during the Lenten season. That is why I have set aside these mornings. I am hoping that more parents and their children will reserve a time slot. Please let me know if you would like to reserve a particular time between those three hours.

 

 

The Meaning of the Great Fast

February 27, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ,

The link below is to a page on our parish website entitled "Resources for Great Lent." Ralph has posted what I believe is the single "best" article on the meaning of Great Lent that I have ever read and studied. It is Archbishop Kallistos Ware's "The Meaning of the Great Fast."

I think that everyone should read this article carefully and thoughtfully.

Right below the link to this article, you will find posted "Notes" by Mother Paula, which is an excellent "bullet point" summary of Archbishop Ware's article. Also an excellent resource.

Great Lent Resources

 

\'The Great Divide\', Annual Parish Meeting Wrapup

February 24, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

The Great Divide - Sheep to the Right and Goats to the Left

 

The link below is to the OCA's website and a meditation of mine on the Parable of the Last Judgment as found in MATT. 25:31-46. I will write further about this essential teaching as the week unfolds and as we prepare for the beginning of Great Lent next Monday, March 3.

http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-steven-kostoff/seeing-the-big-picture

 

We Met ... We Voted ... We Went Home

We held our Annual Parish Meeting yesterday (Feb 23) following the Liturgy. Members of the parish will soon be able to view a summary of the meeting, with related reports and documents, on a special, password-protected page.

 

 

Upcoming Events during Great Lent, Church School Confessions

Sunday of the Prodigal Son
Sunday of the Prodigal Son
February 14, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Upcoming Events During Great Lent

  • As of now, I know that St. Paul parish in Dayton will host a marriage seminar on Saturday, March 8; and a Choir Workshop on Saturday, March 15.
  • I will lead a retreat in Nicholasville, KY on Saturday, March 15. We are still working on the theme.
  • We have been invited to St. George Russian Orthodox Church on Monday evening, March 10, for a Holy Unction Service.

I will provide details for all of these events very soon.

 

Church School Confessions

Looking ahead once again to Great Lent, I will set aside two time-slots in the church in order to hear the confessions of our church school age children/young adults. These will be Saturday, March 8 & March 22, from 9:00 a.m. - Noon. Please think of "signing up" your child(ren) for one of these days so that they can confess their sins this coming Great Lent. Choose any time within that three-hour period on either day, and send me an email or give me a phone call.

 

Hearing the Parable, Annual Parish Meeting Postponed

February 10, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

'Two men went up into the temple to pray...'

"The demons that wage war on us through our shortcomings in virtue are those that teach unchastity, drunkenness, avarice and envy. Those that wage war on us through excessive zeal for virtue teach conceit, self-esteem and pride; they secretly pervert what is commendable into what is reprehensible."

— St. Maximus the Confessor

 

We heard the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (LK. 18:1014) at the Liturgy yesterday morning. I (strongly) suggested that we need to think over the meaning and implications of that pre-Lenten parable during the week; or else, we may not have actually "heard" the Gospel in church, at least in terms of what Christ meant by "hearing." I would further suggest thinking over how the text above from the great Church Father, St. Maximus the Confessor, can serve as an insightful commentary on this particular parable.

There is currently posted on the OCA website, a meditation of mine on this parable, in case you may also want to read that: www.oca.org

 

Meeting Postponed

At our Parish Council meeting held this last Saturday, it was decided to postpone our Annual Parish Meeting until Sunday, February 23. Our Audit Committee was unable to meet because of the bad weather, and we want to have that report available at the meeting. If you are able to submit a report as the head of a ministry, please do so as soon as possible. A few have been trickling in.

 

 

Resources for Lent, Annual Parish Meeting

The Calling of Zacchaeus
The Calling of Zacchaeus
February 6, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 
Resources for the Upcoming Lenten Season
 
If you turn to our parish website, you will find some excellent resources for Great Lent, coming up on March 3.  Search under "Quick Links" for these resources.  As an example, there are two insightful articles/sermons covering Zacchaeus Sunday, one of which examines the "passion" of vanity. Or explore by section, Pre-Lent, Great Lent...
 
 
Annual Parish Meeting
 
The date of this meeting is Sunday, February 16.  We will gather together in the nave of the church following the Liturgy and some refreshments. About, three weeks ago, I had sent out a request to all of those who are in charge of a parish ministry asking  that you provide me with a short paragraph on the "state" of your respective ministry; and on any accomplishments of the last year.  The response has been light.  Please consider turning in that short paragraph.
 
I also asked for any nominations for this year's parish council.  If you would like to nominate someone, please contact me with that name or names as soon as possible.
 
A "voting member" at this meeting is anyone over 18 years of age who participates in the sacramental life of the Church and who has made a pledge toward the parish's financial stability.



Zacchaeus Sunday and the Pre-Lent Period

February 3, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
Yesterday, I announced the date of this year's Orthodox Super Sunday - Pascha - and that will be Sunday, April 20.  Knowing that date well ahead of time, should help us in preparing our schedules and calendars for the upcoming months.
 
Yesteday was Zacchaeus Sunday, and that means that Great Lent is drawing near - four weeks away from today.  However, since yesterday was February 2, the date of the great feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, I concentrated on the feast during the homily.  Below is a link to the OCA's home page where a meditation of mine has been posted this morning centering on the Gospel narrative of Zacchaeus.  It is a previously-written meditation that has been updated, in case you would like to read it.

The Week of Zacchaeus: Embracing pre-lent by being pro-lent!


See also our Sunday of Zacchaeus page, and explore our Pre-Lent Section.

 

Annual Parish Meeting, Baptism Schedule, Blessing of Candles

Meeting of the Lord, Feb 2
Meeting of the Lord, Feb 2
January 24, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

It is cold out there - hope everyone is keeping warm!

 

Upcoming Annual Parish Meeting

Our annual Parish Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, February 16, following the Divine Liturgy. All members of the parish are encouraged to attend and thus be part of the process of assessing the over-all life of the parish as well as plan for the future. As stated in our parish by-laws, voting members at this meeting are those who are sacramentally active in the parish; and who have met their financial obligation to the parish in the form of a pledge. As usual, we will print up various parish reports in addition to the planned budget for 2014.

I would like to encourage anyone of you who is in charge of a particular parish ministry to write up a brief "update" as to what your ministry did through the course of 2013. This need only be a short paragraph. For your convenience, our list of parish ministries and the current chairperson of each ministry, as found on our parish website, is attached here so that you can remind yourself of the stated purpose of your ministry. Please send me these at your convenience, but hopefully within about a week or ten days time.

http://christthesavioroca.org/files/Church-Parish-Ministries-2013-2.pdf

At every annual meeting, we nominate and elect the members of the upcoming year's parish council. Most of our current parish council are willing to serve in 2014. However, if you have someone that you would like to nominate for the council, please pass that name along to me as soon as possible. If that person, once contacted, agrees to serve on the council then her or his name will be included on the ballot.

 

Change of Starting Time for this Saturday's Baptisms

The baptisms scheduled for Saturday will begin at 9:30 a.m. and not the originally scheduled time of 10:00 a.m. Once again, we will begin at 9:30 a.m. this coming Saturday morning.



Blessing of Candles on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord
 
In one of our liturgical books known as the Great Book of Needs, there is a prayer for The Blessing of Candles on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord. That feast, forty days after Nativity, will occur next Sunday, February 2.  So, we will add this prayer toward the end of the Liturgy next Sunday.  If you have any candles at home that you would like blessed, please bring them to church with you. I will remind you again next week.
 
 
Scriptural Readings for Sunday's Liturgy

Epistle:  I TIM. 1:15-17
Gospel:  MATT. 15:21-28
 
 
-- Fr Steven

 

Sanctity of Life Sunday, Baptisms & Chrismations, more

January 20, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 

Sanctity of Life Message from Metropolitan Tikhon

If you were not in church yesterday (Sunday), I read the following encyclical from Met. Tikhon to the parish as yesterday was "Sanctity of Life Sunday." Here is the link should you wish to (re)read it:

http://oca.org/holy-synod/statements/his-beatitude-metropolitan-tikhon/sanctity-of-life-sunday-2014

 

Announcements from Sunday's Liturgy
 
There are no services this week until the Baptism Saturday morning of Fiona and Fausta Fenner, and Elijah Boehne at 10:00 a.m.  These are not "private" baptisms, but an integral expression of the ongoing sacramental life of our parish, as we bring new members into the life of the Church.  The church is open, therefore, to everyone who would like to participate in greeting these new young members into our community.  I would highly encourage our parents to think about bringing your children to the baptisms.  Not only will they be intrigued by these baptisms which will be somewhat different to what we usually see in infant baptisms; but there very presence will be a sign of solidarity and greeting to their new Orthodox friends.  The various sponsors will be Mickey Callender, Dinara Archie, Stephen & Emma Wendland and Jennifer Haynes.
 
On Sunday morning, we will chrismate Lee Fenner and Jacob and Adalia Boehne.
 
 
Commemorating our Great Teachers
 
Yesterday, we commemorated St. Macarius the Great (+390), one of the more renowned of the Egyptian desert fathers, and a spiritual elder who was further renowned for his great sense of compassion toward sinners.  Here is a particularly memorable saying of his that expresses the great mercy of God:
 
A brother asked Abba Macarius, "My father, I have fallen into a transgression." Abba Macarius said to him, "It is written, my son, 'I do not desire the death of a sinner as much as his repentance and his life' (see I Tim. 2:4 and II Pet. 3:9). Repent, therefore, my son; you will see him who is gentle, our Lord Jesus Christ, his face full of joy toward you, like a nursing mother whose face is full of joy for her child when he raises his hands and his face up to her.  Even if he is full of all kinds of uncleanness, she does not turn away from that bad smell and excrement but takes pity on him and lifts up and presses him to her breast, her face full of joy, and everything about him is sweet to her.  If, then, this created person has pity for her child, how much greater is the love of the creator, our Lord Jesus Christ for us! The Virtues of St. Macarius of Egypt, 23
 
And here are a couple of more of his sayings:
 
Abba Paphnutius, the disciple of Abba Macarius, said, "I begged the old man, 'My father, tell me a word.' "He said to me, 'Do not do anything evil and do not judge anyone, and you will be saved'."
 
Abba Macarius said, "If you rebuke someone and do it with anger, you have allowed a passion to control you.  You have not saved anyone and have destroyed yourself."
 
-- Fr Steven

 

Rebuking the Tempter, House Blessings, Baptisms & Chrismations

Christ being Tempted by Satan following His Baptism in the Jordan
Christ being Tempted by Satan following His Baptism in the Jordan
Christ being Tempted by Satan following His Baptism in the Jordan
January 16, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

"Rebuking the Tempter and Following Jesus"

The link below is to the OCA website where you can find a meditation of mine concerning the Lord's temptation/testing in the wilderness. It is actually something that I wrote a few years ago, but which I have re-worked a bit for today's potential reader.

http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-steven-kostoff/rebuking-the-tempter-and-following-jesus

 

House Blessings

I have fallen behind in house blessings, but I should have a sign-up sheet available this weekend in the church hall with some specific days offered. For those who could have me come during the day, that would be appreciated.

 

The Church Continues to Grow

On the weekend of January 25-26, we will receive two families into the full communion of the Church. That would be Jacob and Adalia Boehne and their son, Elijah; and also Lee Fenner and his two daughters, Fausta and Fiona. The three children will be baptized on Saturday, January 25, at 10:00 a.m. and the adults will be chrismated at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, January 26. Please join us for the Baptism and greet our new members into the Church!

 

"The Students Are Coming! The Students Are Coming!"

I believe that some of my students will be coming to the Liturgy as early as this coming Sunday (I will believe it when I see them). No need to panic, though, since I believe that they have been well-behaved and respectful over the years.

From their perspective, my students always appreciate the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the parish. As a young woman wrote about her visit last semester: "The Eastern Orthodox Church was one of the most welcoming and warm communities of people I've ever met. I couldn't believe that everyone came up and introduced themselves, welcomed us to their church, and asked us questions about ourselves. They were so incredibly kind and welcoming." I share that not so that we can feel good about ourselves, but to remind everyone just how important a welcoming community is to visitors and how that can effect their future attitude to the Church, other Christians, etc.

However, I do want to remind everyone further, that as a pastoral directive, do not bring back some of the blessed bread following Communion to share with my students. (One or two described this in their paper also last semester). I let them know that they are welcome to approach the Cross at the end of the Liturgy to receive some of the prosphora. Please respect this directive.

 

- Fr. Steven

 

 

Theophany Continues, Reception of Catechumen

January 10, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 
Theophany Continues
 
 This coming Sunday is the Sunday After Theophany so we will continue to celebrate the Feast and we will sing all of the festal material as we were not able to do so last Monday.  I remind anyone that is interested that Holy Water is available if you would like to take some home.
 
 
Reception of Catechumen
 
This weekend, we will receive Chris Ramey into the full communion of the Church through the Sacraments of Confession, Chrismation and Communion.
 
 
Scriptural Readings for Sunday's Liturgy
 
Epistle:  EPH. 4:7-13 (Sunday After)
Gospel:  MATT. 4:12-17 (Sunday After)
 
The homily will concentrate on the Temptation/Testing of Christ in the Wilderness (MATT. 4:1-11)
 
 

Theophany, Fall Class Final Session

January 6, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

 

Announcements from Yesterday

As announced yesterday, the Liturgy for today's Feast of the Lord's Theophany was cancelled. The weather report was ominous indeed, though the winter snow storm never materialized. However, the sub-zero temperatures may have really limited any potential participants; so, together with the fact that we were able to celebrate the Blessing of Water yesterday, I thought it best to cancel today's scheduled Liturgy. I believe that we will include the festal material for Theophany at next Sunday's Liturgy. There is plenty of blessed water still available for anyone who wasn't present yesterday, but would like to take some home.

Please turn to our special page for many excellent resources concerning the Feast of Theophany - both its meaning and practice. St. Gregory the Theologian delivered two of his greatest homilies on this Feast. Here is the merest sampling of the richness of his unsurpassed homiletic skills in both form and content:

"Just as Christ, its giver, is called by many and diverse names, so also his gift. Either because of the great joy we experience in regard to it - for those who are very much in love with something also take pleasure in uniting themselves with its names - or because of its many forms of benefit, we have made for it many names as well. We call it gift, grace, baptism, illumination, anointing, robe of incorruption, bath of rebirth, seal, everything honorable. It is a gift because no offering is given for it beforehand; and grace, as given even to debtors; and baptism, as burying sin in the water; and anointing, as priestly and royal, (I PET. 3:9) since they were the ones anointed; and illumination, as most radiant; and robe, as entirely covering shame; and bath, as washing clean, and seal, as a safeguard and a sign of authority. In this the heavens rejoice together, this the angels glorify because it is akin to their great radiance. This is the image of the blessedness to come. We desire to sing forth its praises, but we were not able to do so worthily." — Oration 39, 4 On the Baptism of Christ

 

Our Fall Adult Education Class will meet on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. as scheduled. We will finish Prof. Kesich's book by discussing Ch. 11, "St. Irenaeus: The Church's Conflict With Gnosticism," and the book's "Conclusion." Two more fascinating chapters from an excellent book!

 

Resolutions Still Intact? Theophany, Fall Class, more

January 3, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 
Are Your Resolutions Still Intact?
 
I would like to offer a belated New Year's greeting to everyone.  The new year is something of a blank sheet on which we will write the contents of our lives as the year unfolds.  The cumulative effect of all that we "write" during our lifetimes is what we will bring before God as we will eventually stand before His judgment.  Having in mind the writings of St. Gregory the Theologian, whose festal homilies I am now reading, he would always exhort his flock to cultivate the virtues based upon the biblical prototypes and saints  that we encounter when reading the Scriptures or through the Church's festal celebrations.  Of course, there is Christ Himself who we attempt to imitate, and in whom the "whole circle of virtues" were perfectly and harmoniously commingled. The new year also offers an unknown future that only God knows.  Our vocation is to fulfill the will of God for our lives to the extent that we are able to discern that will through the study of the Scriptures, prayer, meditation, and virtuous action.  And, if any of your resolutions are still unbroken on this third day of the new year, I hope you can remain faithful to them!
 


 
Eve of Theophany and the Great Blessing of the Waters
 
To remind everyone again, this coming Sunday is January 5, and that is the Eve of Theophany.  The rubrics call for the Blessing of the Waters following the Liturgy, and that is what we will do here on Sunday. Therefore, all Church School classes are cancelled for Sunday so as to allow all of our students to participate in the special service.  Church School will resume next Sunday.  Everyone is free to take home some holy water in a container.  I would simply caution everyone to be aware of the quantity that you do take home with you.
 
The days between Nativity and January 4 are all "fast-free."  But the Eve of Theophany is a "strict fast day," regardless of what day of the week it falls on - and that would include Sunday.
 
Divine Liturgy is again scheduled for Monday morning, January 6, the day of Theophany itself.

Theophany Schedule and Resource Page.


 
Completing the Fall Adult Education Class
 
Due to my earlier illness, we did not fit in all six sessions of this year's Fall Adult Education Class.  So, we will meet for the sixth and final session on Thursday evening, January 9.  We will discuss the threat that Gnosticism posed to the Church in the early centuries.  The Gnostic heresy is very much alive today in various guises, so this should be quite an interesting discussion.


We will also discuss the contribution of the Church's first great biblical theologian, St. Irenaeus of Lyons and his response to the Gnostic threat.  We will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Education Center.


 
 
Church Calendars for 2014 Are Still Available
 
We have many more church calendars for 2014 that are available.  Every household should have such a calendar that keeps us aware of the various liturgical cycles of the year, together with the saints and Scriptural readings.
 


 
Scriptural Readings for Sunday's Liturgy
 
Epistle:  II TIM. 4:5-8 (Sunday Before Theophany)
Gospel:  MK. 1:1-8 (Sunday Before Theophany)
 
 
Acolytes:  Team 1
 
 
Refreshment/Coffee Hour:  Blendea



 

Fr Alexander Atty: Prayer request for a good friend

March 19, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 

A Good Friend is Gravely Ill

One of my good friends — and someone known to others in the parish — is Fr. Alexander Atty.

Fr. Alexander was the priest of St. Michael's in Louisville for many years before becoming the dean of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary in South Canaan, PA, for a short time before his retirement from active pastoral ministry. Fr. Alexander has been bravely battling cancer for many years. But Fr. Alexander appears to be drawing near the close of his earthly life as he is now in the care of Hospice.

Please keep Fr. Alexander in your prayers as he approaches his end, but also approaches the "Gladsome Light" Whom he served faithfully for so many years.

-- Fr Steven

 

Funeral Service for an Orthodox Priest

March 26, 2014

 

Dear Parish Faithful,
 
 

Funeral Service for an Orthodox Priest

 

Presvytera Deborah and I drove together with Wayne and Karen Krueger to Louisville yesterday evening for the funeral service of Fr. Alexander Atty at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church (the parish that Fr. Alexander served for many years). We met our good friend Ralph Sidway there, who made the long trip up from Alabama. It was all together an unforgettable experience. There were about thirty priests present together with three deacons under the guidance of Bishop Basil Essey (of Wichita, I believe, in the Antiochian Archdiocese.). The presence of so many priests, coming from many distant states, was a clear testimony of the love and respect which so many people have for Fr. Alexander.

 

This was itself a wonderful tribute to Fr. Alexander, for if we can say anything about him that is accurate, it is that he never sought to be "popular." Quite the contrary!

 

The large and beautiful church was filled to overflowing. Bp. Basil is a true shepherd and it was his prayerful presence and Christ-like leadership that created an atmosphere of warm and intense communal prayer that filled the church and which did not abate for a moment in the two-and-a-half our service. There was a huge choir that sang not only respectfully and reverently, but with great beauty and a depth of expression that clearly moved the entire gathered assembly. I am hard pressed to call to mind such an intensely moving experience in my entire priestly ministry as participating in this funeral service. Sorrowful and sad; but imbued with a faith in the Risen Lord that was almost palpable among everyone present.

 

I had a very similar experience at the funerals of Frs. Alexander Schmemann (1983) and John Meyendorff (1996), both my teachers and former deans of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary. It was a real privilege to be present and participating as a brother priest on behalf of Fr. Alexander. Presvytera and both Wayne and Karen had the same experience as we shared on the ride back home. Memory Eternal to Fr. Alexander!

 

 

Memory Eternal! Fr Alexander Atty

March 23, 2014

Memory Eternal! + Fr. Alexander Atty

via the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

As we continue to mourn the loss of Metropolitan Philip, your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God, the beloved Archpriest Alexander Atty. The V. Rev. Fr. Alexander, former Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary and before that priest at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY, fell asleep in the Lord early Sunday morning March 23. May his memory be eternal!

Services for Fr. Alexander are listed below.

March 25, Tuesday (Annunciation of the Theotokos)
10:30 am–7:00 pm: Viewing
7:00 pm: Funeral of a priest

March 26, Wednesday
11:00 am: Funeral Service for Fr. Alexander (following the 9:00 am Presanctified Liturgy)

Friday, March 28
Time TBD: Prayers/service at St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, 706 Hill Street, Mayfield, PA, and Interment at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Cemetery, South Canaan, PA 18459

Father Alexander held a B.S. in engineering from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. After earning his M.Div. at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 1979, he was ordained a priest on December 9, 1979 at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Brooklyn, NY. Father Alexander was elevated to the rank of archpriest in 1988, and later went on to study at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, earning his D.Min. in 2008.

Thank you to Ancient Faith Radio for recommending this recent interview with Fr. Alexander conducted by Dr. Al Rossi.

 


Fr Alexander Atty serving the Divine Liturgy at St Anne's Skete, Mount Athos, 1988.
Fr Alexander Atty serving the Divine Liturgy at St Anne's Skete, Mount Athos, 1988.
Fr Alexander Atty serving the Divine Liturgy at St Anne's Skete, Mount Athos, 1988.

 

 

Memorial Message from St Tikhon\'s Seminary

March 23, 2014

via St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary

Memory Eternal Archpriest Alexander Atty

 

It is with a profound sense of loss that the St. Tikhon’s Community marks the passing of its former Dean, the Archpriest Alexander Atty. Fr. Alexander received his rest in the Lord early this morning, the Sunday of the Holy Cross, March 23, 2014, finally receiving rest from his many-year struggle with cancer.

Fr. Alexander was Dean and Chief Operating Officer of St. Tikhon’s Seminary from the summer of 2010 to February of 2013. For several years before this he was a devoted member of the Board of Trustees and beloved benefactor of the institution.

In his 2 ½ all-too-short years as Dean, Fr. Alexander Atty would make a dramatic and indelible mark on the life of St. Tikhon’s. Under his direction many improvements were made to the physical property including: remodeling of the entire front of the the administration building, updating nearly every office space and classroom, and construction of a new dining hall. Also under his tenure, the school would enjoy advances in it’s networking and communications including a new phone system, upgrades to the website and student email communications system, the purchase of two new seminary vehicles, new heating systems for both the seminary building and for the monastery church.

He will be remembered not only for his strong emphasis on campus renewal but also for the love and care that he and his beloved wife, Matushka Olga, took to ensure a certain quality of life for the student body of St. Tikhon’s Seminary. During their time here, Fr. Alexander and Matushka Olga, dedicated much of their efforts to ensure the seminarians and their wives and families were included in every aspect of community life. They instituted a family lunch program where wives and children were invited every day to come and join the seminarians, faculty, administration, and staff to share together in a common meal with one another. Each of these accomplishments, and others not mentioned, were accomplished by Fr. Alexander in 2 ½ years while undergoing very aggressive cancer therapy that would have by itself ended lesser men.

He will be remembered by all as a dedicated churchman, a husband, a father, a friend, and a leader.

He will be remembered by those of us in the Community of St. Tikhon’s as a Dean with an uncompromising love of the beautiful and a steadfast desire to share that with each of us.

 

Fr Alexander Atty on Ancient Faith Radio

March 23, 2014


SPECIAL PODCASTS featuring

FR. ALEXANDER ATTY:

Listen to a 17 minute podcast featuring Fr Alexander speaking candidly and very movingly of his illness, his ministry, his spiritual father on Mount Athos, and our life in Christ. Recorded in late October 2013.

Listen to Fr Alexander's talks on the Good and Faithful Orthodox Christian, from the 2009 St Vladimir's Seminary Lenten Retreat:

• The Good and Faithful Parishioner
• The Good and Faithful Parish