8:45 am Orthros
10:00 am Divine Liturgy
Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!
This Week at Saint Catherine
Saturday, January 12 ~ South Florida Epiphany Celebration
9:00 am Orthros Download the Orthros Service
10:00 am Hierarchial Liturgy
12:00 pm Blessing of the Waters and Diving for the Cross
12:30 pm Epiphany Luncheon
Sunday, January 13 ~ Sunday after Theophany
8:45 am Orthros
10:00 am Divine Liturgy
10:00 am Sunday School
Tuesday, January 15
10:30 am Board Meeting
12:00 pm Lunch Meeting
Speaker: Dr. Elisabeth McKeen
Wednesday, January 16
9:30 am Philoptochos Festival Baking (Koulourakia)
Join our Philoptochos in baking for the festival!!
Thursday, January 17
9:30 am-11:00 am Orthodoxy Today
7:00 pm Parish Council Meeting
Friday, January 18 ~ Saint Athanasios
9:00 am Orthros
10:00 am Divine Liturgy
Saturday, January 19
9:00 am-4:00 pm Journey of Marriage
HDF (Hellenic Dance Festival) in Orlando
Highlights of Upcoming Services and Events
Sunday, January 20 ~ 12th Sunday of Luke
benefits Saint Basil Academy
8:45 am Orthros
10:00 am Divine Liturgy
10:00 am Sunday School
Philoptochos Reception after the Cutting of the Vasilopita
Wednesday, January 23
9:30 am Philoptochos Festival Baking (Koulourakia)
Join our Philoptochos in baking for the festival!!
Thursday, January 24
9:30 am-11:00 am Orthodoxy Today
Many of our Divine Liturgies have been recorded and can be viewed at www.youtube.com. Subscribe to our YouTube channel: Saint.Catherine.Greek.Orthodox.Church
The Annual Celebration of our Lord's Epiphany at Saint Catherine with His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios. . . . . . . . . . Orthodox Parishes from South Florida together for the service, procession, blessing of the water and diving for the cross. The celebration concludes with a luncheon at our Hellenic Cultural Center
We read in the Gospel that “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light”: Christ! He brought forth light to the world in darkness, first through his ministry while he was on earth, then through the apostles, and now through us.
On Autocephaly in Ukraine
Join us Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17th for our annual festival!
Registration for HDF 2019 is underway! HDF will be held in Atlanta, GA on January 18-21 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
with Composer / Conductor Christopher Kypros February 22 – 24, 2019 Hosted by our choir here at Saint Catherine
All Things are Possible to the One Who Believes in Jesus Christ
Making education more accessible is just one way your gifts and prayers reach around the world.
Eleventh Orthros Gospel
The Reading is from John 21:14-25
At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, and he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."
Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" So, the word went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die; but Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.
Prokeimenon. First Tone. Psalm 32.22,1.
Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us.
Verse: Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous.
The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:7-13.
BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (in saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Sunday after Epiphany
The Reading is from Matthew 4:12-17
At that time, when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Saints Hermylus and Stratonicus contested for piety's sake during the reign of Licinius, in the year 314. Saint Hermylus was a deacon, and Stratonicus was his friend. For his confession of Christ, Hermylus was beaten so fiercely that his whole body was covered with wounds. Stratonicus, seeing him endure this and other torments that left him half dead, wept with grief for his friend. From this he was discovered to be a Christian, and when he had openly professed his Faith and had been beaten, he and Hermylus were cast into the Danube River, receiving the crown of martyrdom.
As for the holy Martyrs of Sinai and Raithu, those of Sinai contested during the reign of Diocletian, about the year 296; those of Raithu were slain about the middle of the fifth century. On both occasions, the perpetrators of these massacres were a barbarian tribe called Blemmyes, from the parts of Arabia and Egypt.
Because of the Apodosis of the Feast of Holy Theophany also on the 14th of January, the liturgical services to the Holy Fathers slain at Sinai and Raitho are transferred to January 13th.
The holy virgin Nina was from Cappadocia. According to some, her father Zabulon was a friend of the holy Great Martyr George, whose father was a Cappadocian. The conversion of Georgia by Saint Nina is reported in the Church histories of Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret: Rufinus, writing less than a hundred years after Saint Nina, said that he heard the history in Jerusalem from a Georgian Prince named Bacurius. Saint Nina was taken captive by the Georgians (whom the Greek accounts call Iberians), and while in captivity she lived a very devout life of sobriety and virtue, praying unceasingly night and day; this drew the attention of the Georgians, and to all who asked her about her way of life, she preached the dispensation of Christ. When she healed by her prayer a certain woman's sick child, whom no one else had been able to help, the report of her came to the ears of the Queen of Georgia, who was herself gravely afflicted with an incurable malady. She asked that the captive women be brought to her, but Saint Nina declined out of modesty, so the Queen commanded them to carry her to Nina. Saint Nina healed her immediately, and the Queen returned home in joy. When she extolled Nina and her faith to the king, he gave her no heed, although she mentioned it to him often. But while hunting in the forest, he was shrouded with an impenetrable darkness in which he lost his way, became separated from his men, and fell into despair; he made a vow that if Christ should deliver him, he would worship him alone. The light of day straightway shone again, and the king fulfilled his vow. He and the Queen were instructed in the Faith by Saint Nina, and they with the whole Georgian nation became Christ's. The King also sent an embassy to Saint Constantine the Great, informing him of their conversion, and requesting that priests be sent to Georgia. Saint Nina reposed in peace in about the year 335. The above-mentioned Church historians speak of her without calling her Nina. She is celebrated in the Roman Martyrology on December 15 under the name Christina.
Because of the Apodosis of the Feast of Holy Theophany also on the 14th of January, the liturgical services to Saint Nina are transferred to January 13th.
Saint Paul, first among hermits, was born about 227 in the Thebaid of Egypt. In 250 he fled into the wilderness because of the persecution raging at that time under Decius. Having lived a solitary life in a certain cave for ninety-one years, he reposed in 341, at the age of 114, and was buried by Anthony the Great, who had been directed thither by God several days before the Saint's repose.
Saint John, who was from Constantinople, was the son of illustrious parents -- Eutropius the Senator and Theodora. At twelve years of age he departed secretly from his home and went to the Monastery of the Unsleeping (see Dec. 29). Aflame with longing for his parents, he returned after six years to his father's home in the guise of a pauper and beggar. Living in a small hut at the gates of his parents' house (wherefrom he is called "hut-dweller"), he remained unknown therein for many years, and suffered mockery at the hands of those who had been his own servants. Foreknowing his death, he revealed himself to his parents, and within a few moments reposed, about the year 450.
Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great and king of the Jews, grew wroth against the Church of Christ, and slew James, the brother of John the Evangelist. Seeing that this pleased the Jews, he took Peter also into custody and locked him up in prison, intending to keep him there until after the feast of the Passover, so that he could win the favour of the people by presenting him to them as a victim. But the Apostle was saved when he was miraculously set free by an Angel (Acts 12:1-19). The chains wherewith the Apostle was bound received from his most sacred body the grace of sanctification and healing, which is bestowed upon the faithful who draw nigh with faith.
That such sacred treasures work wonders and many healings is witnessed by the divine Scripture, where it speaks concerning Paul, saying that the Christians in Ephesus had such reverence for him, that his handkerchiefs and aprons, taken up with much reverence, healed the sick of their maladies: "So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:12). But not only the Apostles' clothing (which certainly touched the bodies of the sick), but even their shadow alone performed healings. On beholding this, people put their sick on stretchers and beds and brought them out into the streets that, when Peter passed by, his shadow "might overshadow some of them"(Acts 5:15). From this the Orthodox Catholic Church has learned to show reverence and piety not only to the relics of their bodies, but also in the clothing of God's Saints.
Saint Anthony, the Father of monks, was born in Egypt in 251 of pious parents who departed this life while he was yet young. On hearing the words of the Gospel: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor" (Matt. 19:21), he immediately put it into action. Distributing to the poor all he had, and fleeing from all the turmoil of the world, he departed to the desert. The manifold temptations he endured continually for the span of twenty years are incredible. His ascetic struggles by day and by night, whereby he mortified the uprisings of the passions and attained to the height of dispassion, surpass the bounds of nature; and the report of his deeds of virtue drew such a multitude to follow him that the desert was transformed into a city, while he became, so to speak, the governor, lawgiver, and master-trainer of all the citizens of this newly-formed city.
The cities of the world also enjoyed the fruit of his virtue. When the Christians were being persecuted and put to death under Maximinus in 312, he hastened to their aid and consolation. When the Church was troubled by the Arians, he went with zeal to Alexandria in 335 and struggled against them in behalf of Orthodoxy. During this time, by the grace of his words, he also turned many unbelievers to Christ.
Saint Anthony began his ascetic life outside his village of Coma in Upper Egypt, studying the ways of the ascetics and holy men there, and perfecting himself in the virtues of each until he surpassed them all. Desiring to increase his labors, he departed into the desert, and finding an abandoned fortress in the mountain, he made his dwelling in it, training himself in extreme fasting, unceasing prayer, and fierce conflicts with the demons. Here he remained, as mentioned above, about twenty years. Saint Athanasius the Great, who knew him personally and wrote his life, says that he came forth from that fortress "initiated in the mysteries and filled with the Spirit of God." Afterwards, because of the press of the faithful, who deprived him of his solitude, he was enlightened by God to journey with certain Bedouins, until he came to a mountain in the desert near the Red Sea, where he passed the remaining part of his life.
Saint Athanasius says of him that "his countenance had a great and wonderful grace. This gift also he had from the Saviour. For if he were present in a great company of monks, and any one who did not know him previously wished to see him, immediately coming forward he passed by the rest, and hurried to Anthony, as though attracted by his appearance. Yet neither in height nor breadth was he conspicuous above others, but in the serenity of his manner and the purity of his soul." So Passing his life, and becoming an example of virtue and a rule for monastics, he reposed on January 17 in the year 356, having lived altogether some 105 years.
In the half-century after the First Ecumenical Council held in Nicea in 325, if there was one man whom the Arians feared and hated more intensely than any other, as being able to lay bare the whole error of their teaching, and to marshal, even from exile or hiding, the beleaguered forces of the Orthodox, it was Saint Athanasios the Great. This blazing lamp of Orthodoxy, which imperial power and heretics' plots could not quench when he shone upon the lampstand, nor find when he was hid by the people and monks of Egypt, was born in Alexandria about the year 296. He received an excellent training in Greek letters and especially in the sacred Scriptures, of which he shows an exceptional knowledge in his writings. Even as a young man he had a remarkable depth of theological understanding; he was only about twenty years old when he wrote his treatise "On the Incarnation." Saint Alexander, the Archbishop of Alexandria, brought him up in piety, ordained him his deacon, and after deposing Arius for his blasphemy against the Divinity of the Son of God, took Athanasios to the First Council in Nicea in 325. Saint Athanasios was to spend the remainder of his life laboring in defense of this Holy Council. In 326, before his death, Alexander appointed Athanasios his successor.
In 325, Arius had been condemned by the Council of Nicea; yet through his hypocritical confession of Orthodox belief, Saint Constantine the Great was persuaded by Arius's supporters that he should be received back into the communion of the Church. But Athanasios, knowing well the perverseness of his mind, and the disease of heresy lurking in his heart, refused communion with Arius. The heresiarch's followers then began framing false charges against Athanasios. Finally Saint Constantine the Great, misled by grave charges of the Saint's misconduct (which were completely false), had him exiled to Tiberius (Treves) in Gaul in 336. When Saint Constantine was succeeded by his three sons Constantine II, Constans, and Constantius, in 337, Saint Athanasios returned to Alexandria in triumph. But his enemies found an ally in Constantius, Emperor of the East, and he spent a second exile in Rome. It was ended when Constans prevailed with threats upon his brother Constantius to restore Athanasios (see also Nov. 6). For ten years Saint Athanasios strengthened Orthodoxy throughout Egypt, visiting the whole country and encouraging all: clergy, monastics, and lay folk, being loved by all as a father. After Constans's death in 350, Constantius became sole Emperor, and Athanasios was again in danger. On the evening of February 8, 356, General Syrianus with more than five thousand soldiers surrounded the church in which Athanasios was serving, and broke open the doors. Athanasios's clergy begged him to leave, but the good shepherd commanded that all the flock should withdraw first; and only when he was assured of their safety, he also, protected by divine grace, passed through the midst of the soldiers and disappeared into the deserts of Egypt, where for some six years he eluded the soldiers and spies sent after him.
When Julian the Apostate succeeded Constantius in 361, Athanasios returned again, but only for a few months. Because Athanasios had converted many pagans, and the priests of the idols in Egypt wrote to Julian that if Athanasios remained, idolatry would perish in Egypt, the heathen Emperor ordered not Athanasios's exile, but his death. Athanasios took a ship up the Nile. When he learned that his imperial pursuers were following him, he had his men turn back, and as his boat passed that of his pursuers, they asked him if he had seen Athanasios. "He is not far," he answered. After returning to Alexandria for a while, he fled again to the Thebaid until Julian's death in 363. Saint Athanasios suffered his fifth and last exile under Valens in 365, which only lasted four months because Valens, fearing a sedition among the Egyptians for their beloved Archbishop, revoked his edict in February, 366.
The great Athanasios passed the remaining seven years of his life in peace. Of his fifty-seven years as Patriarch, he had spent some seventeen in exiles. Shining from the height of his throne like a radiant evening star, and enlightening the Orthodox with the brilliance of his words for yet a little while, this much-suffering champion inclined toward the sunset of his life, and in the year 373 took his rest from his lengthy sufferings, but not before another luminary of the truth -- Basil the Great -- had risen in the East, being consecrated Archbishop of Caesarea in 370. Besides all of his other achievements, Saint Athanasios wrote the life of Saint Anthony the Great, with whom he spent time in his youth; ordained Saint Frumentius first Bishop of Ethiopia; and in his Paschal Encyclical for the year 367 set forth the books of the Old and New Testaments accepted by the Church as canonical. Saint Gregory the Theologian, in his "Oration On the Great Athanasios", said that he was "Angelic in appearance, more angelic in mind; ... rebuking with the tenderness of a father, praising with the dignity of a ruler ... Everything was harmonious, as an air upon a single lyre, and in the same key; his life, his teaching, his struggles, his dangers, his return, and his conduct after his return ... he treated so mildly and gently those who had injured him, that even they themselves, if I may say so, did not find his restoration distasteful."
Saint Cyril was also from Alexandria, born about the year 376. He was the nephew of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who also instructed the Saint in his youth. Having first spent much time with the monks in Nitria, he later became the successor to his uncle's throne in 412. In 429, when Cyril heard tidings of the teachings of the new Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, he began attempting through private letters to bring Nestorius to renounce his heretical teaching about the Incarnation. When the heresiarch did not repent, Saint Cyril, together with Pope Celestine of Rome, led the Orthodox opposition to his error. Saint Cyril presided over the Third Ecumenical Council of the 200 Holy Fathers in the year 431, who gathered in Ephesus under Saint Theodosius the Younger. At this Council, by his most wise words, he put to shame and convicted the impious doctrine of Nestorius, who, although he was in town, refused to appear before Cyril. Saint Cyril, besides overthrowing the error of Nestorius, has left to the Church full commentaries on the Gospels of Luke and John. Having shepherded the Church of Christ for thirty-two years, he reposed in 444.
The great teacher and invincible defender of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, Saint Mark, was the offspring and scion of the imperial city, Constantinople. Reared by most pious parents, and instructed in secular and spiritual wisdom, he became preeminent in both. Saint Mark lived as an ascetic on the Prince's Islands and later in the monastery of Saint George Magana in Constantinople. He passed through all the degrees of the priesthood, and was finally advanced to the dignity of Archbishop and the lofty throne of the Metropolis of Ephesus. At the insistence of Emperor John Paleologos, the Saint was sent to the council of the Latins in Florence, to unite the churches that had been divided for so many years. He astounded the papal teachers with the divine wisdom of his words, and was the only one who did not sign the blasphemous decree of that false council. Because of this, the Holy Church of Christ has ever honored this great man as a benefactor, teacher, sole defender, and invincible champion of the Apostolic Confession. He reposed in 1443.
Saint Macarius the Great was from the Thebaid of Egypt, a disciple, as some say, of Saint Anthony the Great. He was born about 331 and struggled in asceticism in the desert at Scete. Although young, he was called "the child elder" because of his great wisdom and austere manner of life. He was ordained presbyter and reposed in 391, at the age of sixty. There are fifty homilies ascribed to him.
It is said of Saint Macarius that he became as a God upon earth, for even as God protects the whole world, so did he cover the faults he saw as if he did not see them. Once he came back to his cell to find a thief taking his things and loading them on a camel. Macarius' non-possessiveness was so great that he helped the thief load the camel. When the camel refused to rise, Macarius returned to his cell and brought a small hoe, said that the camel wanted the hoe also, loaded it on, and kicked the camel telling it to get up. The camel obeyed Macarius' command, but soon lay down again, and would not move until everything had been returned to Macarius. His contemporary, Saint Macarius of Alexandria, was so called because he came from Alexandria and was therefore of that Greek-speaking colony; while Saint Macarius the Great is also called "of Egypt," that is, he belonged to the ancient race native to Egypt, the Copts.
Saint Arsenius, who had Palestine as his homeland, was born in 876, the son of devout parents. From childhood he was consecrated to God and assumed the monastic habit. He studied in Seleucia, where he also received the dignity of the priesthood. After he had moved from thence to Constantinople, he was appointed Metropolitan of Corfu. He adorned the throne there by his virtue and instruction. When advanced in age, he returned to Constantinople and appeased the unjust rage of Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus against the leaders of Corfu. Finally, during his journey back to his see, he fell ill at Corinth and reposed in the Lord about the middle of the tenth century.
Saint Macarius of Alexandria, was so called because he came from Alexandria and was therefore of that Greek-speaking colony; while Saint Macarius the Great is also called "of Egypt," that is, he belonged to the ancient race native to Egypt, the Copts. Whenever Saint Macarius of Alexandria heard of a virtue practiced by any man, he strove to practice it even more fully himself. When he was already old, he visited the community of Saint Pachomius in Tabennisi and, without revealing who he was, asked admittance. Saint Pachomius, on account of Macarius' age, was reluctant to receive him, but after-wards yielded to his entreaties. Shortly thereafter Great Lent began, and Macarius followed such a severe rule of fasting and prayer that many in the brotherhood complained to Pachomius asking if he had brought this old man to put them to shame. Learning Macarius' identity in a revelation, Saint Pachomius thanked him for breaking the pride of his monks and sent him away in peace.
Message from Metropolitan Alexios
My Beloved Ones,
I pray that all of you have experienced a healthy and productive beginning to this new year of 2019. This Sunday’s Gospel also looks ahead to the remainder of the liturgical year, acting as a bridge between the Nativity season, and Pascha.
On the first Sunday after Epiphany our Lord hears that John the Baptist has been arrested. Knowing that the great and final prophet’s ministry has ended, Christ leaves His home in Nazareth, journeying, as Matthew says to “…Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali…” (Matthew 4:13). This was done so “…that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’ (Matthew 4:13-16). The Messianic prophecies of Isaiah of course bring to our minds the feasts of the Nativity and Theophany that we have just experienced: the light which illumined the little town of Bethlehem has now begun its work, spreading across the land.
For all the peace and merrymaking that the holidays bring, there is a reason that the hymns we heard on the Feast of Theophany are like those of Good Friday: because when he entered the River Jordan, Christ took His first steps to the Cross. While it may seem strange to think on these mournful chants in the shadow of a Christmas tree, we should remember that that the work of the Incarnation is only complete when we contemplate the empty tomb. Christ’s own birth foreshadows His redemptive death: once again wrapped in cloth and lying in a cave, he will be presented once again with gifts of myrrh. But as the Troparion for the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers proclaims, “The angel came to the myrrhbearing women at the tomb and said: Myrrh is meet for the dead; but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption! Every feast ultimately points toward that Feast of Feasts: Pascha.
Matthew ends his Gospel, looking away from Isaiah, and towards the fulfillment of John’s work. The Evangelist stresses that in John’s absence Christ began to use a phrase that would have been familiar to all who encountered John or experienced his baptism: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). It seems appropriate that we are being called to begin walking with Christ on His ministry, just as the secular world begins its New Year. Each signals a time for fresh beginnings, working towards, not just earthly betterment, or even repentance, but Theosis.
My New Year’s wish is that we use the spiritual lessons we have gained this Nativity season—love, peace, forgiveness, and joy—to better our souls, as we approach the Greatest moment of our liturgical year, as well.
Metropolitan of Atlanta
From the Chancellor's Desk
Luke 1: 11Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord [Archangel Gabriel], standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.’” (Luke 1:11-16)
The birth of a baby brings us great joy. Our relatives and friends gather together and share the joy and excitement of this blessed event with the new parents. Like no other time, there is cause for great celebration and thanksgiving. In the verses above from St. Luke’s Gospel, we are reminded of this excitement when Zechariah learned that his wife, Elizabeth would give birth to St. John the Baptist (whom we remember on January 7th). His birth brought his parents great happiness and reason to rejoice.
However, the joy with St. John the Baptist’s birth was multiplied, and not just because his parents were given a baby as a surprise blessing late in their lives. St. John was given a crucial role to offer in the coming of God's promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Before Jesus was proclaimed by God as His Beloved Son at the River Jordan during His baptism (which we remembered during Holy Theophany services this past week), St. John reached out to many hearts that the Jewish religious leaders of his day could not touch. St. John’s life, beginning in his mother’s womb, was one that was dedicated to God's Messiah. He identified himself by his diet and his habits as one specially consecrated to the work of God. His mission in the region of the Jordan River was to bring the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
But unlike the ascetics of the desert who withdrew from sinful people, St. John spoke to them with the Holy Spirit of God. He proclaimed to his followers the message of the coming of the Messiah, and he made them ready through his baptism of forgiveness to meet Jesus Christ – through repentance and a call to holiness in their daily lives . . . for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand!
And what significance is this to us today? I believe with the birth of any child, we have the choice to pray that he or she will bring glory to God and bring many others to come to know “His Beloved Son, with Whom He was well-pleased!”
As we celebrate the Holy Feast of the Theophany of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ this Sunday, January 6th, let us ask our heavenly Father to look down upon all the babies being born within our church family and throughout the world and to do mighty things through them. May He guard their parents, may He nurture the youth during their upbringing in His truth, and may He bring spiritual experiences into their lives that will make them most useful to Him. Amen!
+Very Rev. Fr. George Tsahakis
Youth, Education & Hellenic Culture
The 44th Biennial Clergy Laity Congress unanimously passed the NEW Policies for the Safety of Youth and Children! There is a great article on page 12 of the July/August Orthodox Observer explaining the Next Steps in Youth Safety. Please take time to read the article and the new policies since they affect everyone involved in all youth programs.
The Strategic Plan
Want to learn the latest best practices on how to grow your parish?
How about learning to create a plan for the future of your parish?
How do I fund the essential ministries of my parish and become less dependent on fund raisers?
Have I covered all the significant risks to my parish and what risks go beyond insurance coverage?
Are my religious education programs covering all that they should and are they effective? Is leadership training important to my role in the parish?
If you and your fellow parishioners have ever discussed these topics and you want to learn more, then …
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR MARCH 9, 2019 FROM NOON TO 5PM AT ST. NEKTARIOS GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH IN CHARLOTTE, NC
MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Take a look at the online portal.
Vist www.atlstrategicplan.org/portal to view a list of the several goals completed in 2017.
Family Life Ministry
The Metropolis of Atlanta’s Family Life Ministry (www.familylifeministry.atlanta.goarch.org) strengthens individuals, families and church families through adaptable programs, blogs and educational materials as a means of fostering connection within our homes and our parishes.
Join Paula and Edna as they discuss the latest book from with FLM, “Woven: An Interactive Book for the Modern Teenage Girl on Orthodox Christianity” with Bobby Maddex from Ancient Faith Ministries.
For more information, or to order "Woven" please visit, woveninhislove.org
We also share with you helpful links from the OCN and the Family Life Ministry of the Metropolis of Atlanta.
Journey of Marriage (Pre-Marital Seminar)
All couples marrying in the Metropolis must attend a Metropolis-sponsored Journey of Marriage seminar prior to their wedding. The couple will present their certificate of completion to their parish priest after the seminar.
To see the full list of seminars in Florida and in our entire Metropolis as more seminars are scheduled please visit: http://www.familylifeministry.atlanta.goarch.org/upcoming-events-2/
Registration is online. Materials costs are included in the registration.
Shop with Amazon, donate to the DRC
Amazon Smile is a program that allows for 0.5% of your eligible Amazon purchase to be donated to the Diakonia Retreat Center (No Added Cost To You). To find our Amazon Smile page, visit https://smile.amazon.com/ch/91-2187047.