Sunday Services: Orthros-8:45 a.m. Divine Liturgy-10:00 a.m. Sunday School after Distribution of Holy Communion. Holy Day Services As announced in weekly bulletins.
Sunday July 21st, 2019
Fifth Sunday of Matthew
Ushers: Frank Sturgon & Stamati Polles
Epistle Reader: Erynn Sturgon
Prosphoro -Sarah Kountouris
Coffee Hour -Betta Miller
Our Holy Trinity-St. John the Theologian Prayer List:
"Remember Lord, those whom each of us calls prayerfully to mind" Georgia Dennery, Chuck Odom, Nicholas & Maria Psaris, William Abihider, John Botes, Christ Castanis, George V. Pinchuk, Chris Grillis, Lambryne Angelo, Jane Kountouris, and Callie McDole, Malissa and Pat Zouboukos have asked that we pray for their friend Randy Nichols, Paula Fowler, Victoria Lepsa (Cristina Nica's mother in Romania), Bruce Billy (Presvitera Bonnie's brother in Allentown) and Tatianna Koufopoulos Quick of Phoenix Arizona, Despina Mangafakis, Presvitera Bonnie Koufopoulos, Connie Joe Hontzas (Tommy Hontzas's brother).
Our July Birthday Celebrations: John Polles-July 3rd, Gayland Cox-July 4th, Christo Burnham-July 5th, McKenna Fowler-July 7th, Presbytera Bonnie-July 8th, Nickolas Fowler-July 12th, Stamati Polles-July 13th, William Moxey-July 15th, Stephanos Manganfakis-July 15th, Jerry Kountouris-July 21st, Malissa Zouboukos-July 26th, Gebre Menfes Kidus-July 26th, Janet Ingram Grillis-July 28th, Emma Papadimitriou-July 28th, Alexis Ann Kountouris-July 29th, Michael Fowler-July 30th
August Birthday Celebrations: Sophia Efstratiou – August 4th Ellen Hontzas – August 9th Kimberly Thompson-August 10th Dianna Psaris-August 14th Lydia Laird-August 20th Pete Zouboukos-August 22nd Victoria Applewhite-August 23rd Lana Sturgon-August 29th
PLEASE LET FATHER ANDREW KNOW OF ANY ADDITIONS OR CORRECTIONS
Important Notice - in trying to keep our parishioners, as they say "in the loop", we ask the leaders of the various parish ministries - Sunday School, Philoptochos, Parish Council, Stewardship, etc. to submit any information about up coming events or other activities that they want included in the monthly and/or weekly Bulletin. Information should be submited from the middle of each month to the last Tuesday of the month.
A major expense: The heating and ac unit that heated the three church offices "give up the ghost" with a badly cracked fire wall, last September....after a long and "chilly" winter - it was replaced in early March at a cost $4,200...since this was an expens which was not covered by the budget and an unexpected one thw parish is asking, if anyone wants to donate to defray this expense any and all gifts would be appreciated. Please make our your checks to the Church and please mark it as Donation to heating/ac unit. Thank you.! We have collected A$2,200 to date.
Without your donations and constributions it becomes difficult to meet our budgeted expenses. Our monthly expenses include salaries, Gas, Electricity, Water, Archdiocese commitments, and from time to time extra expenses to repair items in the church proper. Please remember that your donations help us to meet these monthly expenses of $10k.
These Saints were from the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia and flourished during the reign of Justin the Younger (565-578). After a pilgrimage to Jerusalem they were moved with a desire to forsake the world; they were tonsured monks by the Abbot Nicon, and soon after left the monastery to struggle together in the wilderness near the Dead Sea. When they had passed a little more than thirty years together in silence and prayer, Symeon, having reached the heights of dispassion, departed for Emesa in Syria, where he passed the rest of his life playing the fool, saving many souls from sin while hiding his sanctity with seemingly senseless behavior. He reposed in 570; by the providence of God, John, who had remained in the wilderness, departed soon after.
Saint Mary was from Magdala in Galilee on the Sea of Tiberias, and for this was named Magdalene. When the Lord Jesus cast out seven demons from her, from which she had been suffering, she became His faithful and inseparable disciple, following Him and ministering unto Him even to the time of His crucifixion and burial. Then, returning to Jerusalem together with the rest of the Myrrh-bearers, she prepared the fragrant spices for anointing the body of the Lord. And on the Lord's day they came very early to the tomb, even before the Angels appeared declaring the Resurrection of the Lord. When Mary Magdalene saw the stone taken away from the tomb, she ran and proclaimed it to Peter and John. And returning immediately to the tomb and weeping outside, she was deemed worthy to be the first of the Myrrh-bearers to behold the Lord arisen from the dead, and when she fell at His feet, she heard Him say, "Touch Me not." After the Lord's Ascension, nothing certain is known concerning her. Some accounts say that she went to Rome and later returned to Jerusalem, and from there proceeded to Ephesus, where she ended her life, preaching Christ. Although it is sometimes said that Saint Mary Magdalene was the "sinful woman" of the Gospel, this is nowhere stated in the tradition of the Church, in the sacred hymnology, or in the Holy Gospels themselves, which say only that our Lord cast seven demons out of her, not that she was a fallen woman. "Madeleine" is a form of Magdalene.
Saint Markella was born in the 14th century on the island of Chios and was the daughter of the mayor of her town. She was raised in the Christian faith by pious parents, but lost her mother at a young age. This was especially difficult for her father who fell into depression. The young Markella was devoted to Christ and strove to preserve her virginity, fighting off numerous temptations from the Devil. Seeing he could make no progress with Markella, the Evil One turned his attention to her father, and enflamed within him an unnatural lust for his daughter.
One day he declared his desire for her at which she ran away in tears and fear. Arriving at the edge of the water and with nowhere to run, a rock opened up for Markella to enter so that her lower half could be enclosed within the rock. When her father arrived in pursuit of her, he was furious to have been deprived of his desire and beheaded his daughter there. The miraculous rock remains on Chios in the church dedicated to Saint Markella the Virgin-Martyr and is said to spring healing waters.
The Prophet Ezekiel ("God is strong") was the son of Buzi and a priest by rank. He was taken captive and brought to Babylon during the reign of Jechonias. In the fifth year of this captivity, about 594 or 593 B.C., he began to prophesy. Having prophesied for about twenty-eight years, he was murdered, it is said, by the tribe of Gad, because he reproached them for their idolatry. His book of prophecy, divided into forty-eight chapters, is ranked third among the greater Prophets. It is richly filled with mystical imagery and marvelous prophetic visions and allegories, of which the dread Chariot of Cherubim described in the first Chapter is the most famous; in the "gate that was shut," through which the Lord alone entered, he darkly foretold of the Word's Incarnation from the Virgin (44:1-3); through the "dry bones" that came to life again (37:1-14), he prophesied both of the restoration of captive Israel, and the general resurrection of our race.
The Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All That Sorrow" - As with so many other icons of the Theotokos, wonderworking copies of this icon have been found throughout Orthodox Russia, each with its own history and moving collection of miracles. In this icon, the most holy Mother of God is depicted standing full stature sometimes with, sometimes without the Divine Child in her arms; she is surrounded by all manner of the sick and the suffering, to whom Angels of the Lord bear gifts of mercy, consolation, and suitable aid from the most holy Theotokos. The icon "Joy of all that Sorrow" was inspired by the hymn of the same name; see page 222 in Great Compline. Through one copy of this icon, the sister of Patriarch Joachim was healed at the end of the seventeenth century in Moscow, from which time the feast was established. Another copy of the icon was found in Saint Petersburg; on July 23, 1888, during the severe thunderstorm, lightning struck a chapel at a glass factory, burning the interior walls of the church, but leaving the icon unsinged. From the violent disturbance of the air, the icon was knocked to the floor, the poor-box broke open, and twelve copper coins adhered to the icon in various places; afterwards many miracles were worked by the grace of the holy icon.
Saint Christina was from Tyre in Syria, the daughter of a pagan named Urban. Enlightened in her heart to believe in Christ, she broke her father's idols, made of gold and silver, and distributed the pieces to the poor. When her father learned this, he punished her ruthlessly, then cast her into prison. The rulers subjected her to imprisonments, hunger, torments, the cutting off of her breasts and tongue, and finally impalement, in the year 200, during the reign of the Emperor Septimius Severus.
Saint Paraskeve, who was from a certain village near Rome, was born to pious parents, Agatho and Politia. Since she was born on a Friday (in Greek, Paraskeve), she was given this name, which means "preparation" or "preparedness" (compare Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:31, where 'Friday' is called "the day of the preparation"). From childhood she was instructed in the sacred letters and devoted herself to the study of the divine Scriptures, while leading a monastic life and guiding many to the Faith of Christ. During the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, she was apprehended because she was a Christian and was urged to worship the idols, but she answered with the words of Jeremias: "Let the gods that have not made heaven and the earth perish from off the earth" (Jer. 10:11). Because of this she endured exceedingly painful torments, and was beheaded in the year 140. The faithful pray to her for the healing of eye ailments.
Hymn of Pentecost:
O blessed are You, O Christ our God. Who by sending down the Holy Spirit upon them, made the fishermen wise, and through them illumined the world. And unto You the universe was ever drawn. All glory to You O Lord.
Hymn of St. John the Theologian
O Apostle, beloved of Christ our God, hasten to deliver a defenseless people. He that allowed thee to recline in His breast, receiveth thee bowing in intersession. Implore Him, O Theologian, do dispel the persistent cloud of the heathen, and ask for us His peace and great mercy.
Fifth Orthros Gospel
The Reading is from Luke 24:13-35
At that time, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
5th Sunday of Matthew
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 10:1-10
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified. Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it. But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down) or "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.
5th Sunday of Matthew
The Reading is from Matthew 8:28-34; 9:1
At that time, when Jesus came to the country of the Gergesenes, two demoniacs met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one would pass that way. And behold, they cried out, "What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" Now a herd of many swine was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, "If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine." And he said to them, "Go." So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, and what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood. And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city.
The two men, the Gergesene demoniacs, are possessed by a whole legion of demons who torment them. We read, that the men are violent, “exceedingly fierce,” so that no one could “pass that way.” Appropriately, these men live among the tombs because they are truly among the living dead. They are enslaved by the demons and their God-given faculties, the beautiful nous (eye of the soul) that God placed in them has been darkened, obscured by the spiritual confusion and paralysis that surrounds them by this host of demons.
We don’t know how they came to be possessed. There are many sins and practices that can give the devil a foothold. All of us can come under demonic influence. Some people actually come to be possessed by the demons if they do not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them instead.
Likewise, certain sinful practices can make a foothold for demonic influence or possession as well: pornography, drugs, even video games when played to excess can altar one’s reality and become an entry point for demomic activity.
With regard to demonic possession, we have no reason to believe that it does not continue in our own day; in fact, we can be sure that it does. The same demons active in Christ’s day, are still active today and will be until the Second Coming of Christ.
And while medical science may treat the symptoms of demonic possession—some of which may be mistakenly labeled under the generic title of “mental illness,” it cannot cure that possession or influence with drugs. There is a mystery here: What we do know is that only the healing in Christ through the new life in Him, the exorcism of the demons, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and our continued “Yes” to God’s healing work in our lives, can drive them away.
Exorcism is the first part of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and a necessary precursor to putting on Christ. We expel the demons and their influence from the neophyte (the newly illumined) so that Christ may come and make His abode with him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Chrismation.
Christ came that we may be free of the demons, free of their control and influence, that we may not be enslaved by them. This freedom is given us by virtue of our choosing life with Him who is the Life over the living death that Satan and his minions give those whom they enslave. Christ came to equip us by the Holy Spirit to do battle against those spiritual forces of wickedness so that we may overcome our passions and their temptations that wage war against our life with God and so that those footholds of the demons may be healed by Christ God, the Great Physician of our souls and bodies.
As Orthodox, we’re not afraid of the demons: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (I Jn. 4:4), St. John assures us. At the same time, as Orthodox we don’t downplay the reality of the evil we are fighting against. Satan is described by Christ as the “murderer of man.” He and his demons are bent on our destruction. We certainly don’t pretend that witches and demons and ghosts are innocent fun or make them look ‘cute’, nor do we participate in activities that may make others think that this is what we believe as Orthodox Christians.
As for the Gergesene demoniacs, Christ cast out those demons and sent them into a herd of swine and they drowned at sea. The men went their way, freed of their demonic enslavement and proclaimed through the whole city what great things Jesus had done for them. The destruction of the herd of swine shows us the incomparable value of human life, whose salvation, as the Orthodox Study Bible puts it, “is worth every sacrifice.”
While those indwelt by the Holy Spirit may not be indwelt by the demons, their influence can still wreck havoc on our lives IF we let them. We must exercise great discipline and vigilance to fight against them through our “No!” to sin and our “Yes!” to God, which is manifested in the cross of our daily repentance and our humbling ourselves through sacramental confession. By keeping short accounts with God in His Church, we allow Christ God to step in to heal those places most susceptible to the influence of the prince of this world and enable us to gain the victory by God’s grace.
This is the good news inherent in today’s Gospel. There is nothing in this world or of this world that can destroy us if we avail ourselves of our God-given life in Him, struggling for healing from our passions and learning to recognize the dangers of those habits and practices so often accepted or even encouraged these days in our culture, but which lead us away from Him who is life and who calls us to holiness, being transformed into His likeness more and more. This is the journey of salvation from this world and the prince of this world that Christ God leads us on. Remember: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”