Message from Metropolitan Alexios
My Beloved Ones,
This Sunday, the Second Sunday of Great Lent represents a decisive point in our Triodion journey—that is, the period from the three weeks before Great Lent, all the way through Holy Week. In this week’s beautiful Gospel passage taken from Mark, we see how important trust is, in cultivating a relationship with our Creator.
Our Lord sought to connect Himself to the people in different ways: either through teaching and preaching God’s Will, or through enacting miracles for those in need. This Sunday’s event is a miracle; a miracle performed in the city of Capernaum, one of the four cities that are personally connected with our Lord (the other three being Bethlehem, the city of His Birth; Nazareth, the city in which He grew up with Mary, His Mother, and Joseph, His Protector; and Jerusalem, the city of His Passion and Resurrection). Capernaum is the city in which He performed a great many miracles, including this Sunday’s Healing of the Paralytic.
This Man had four dear friends whose love for him—and their Faith in God—was so great, that they went out of their way to assist their friend in visiting the house where Jesus was preaching to the townspeople. In fact, the house was so crowded, with people spilling outside, that the Paralytic’s friends faced the problem of how they could see the Lord face-to-face. So great was their desire, they enacted something that is unthinkable to many: they removed the roof of the person’s house. This they did, not out of an evil spirit, but because of a burning desire to assist their friend. They lowered him through the roof of the home, because they understood Jesus when He said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
Seeing the Paralytic lying before Him, Jesus did something very unusual for Him. Ordinarily, Christ would ask those coming before Him, “Do you wish to receive your sight?” “What do you want me to do for you?” He asks such questions out of respect for that most precious gift God gave to us: Free Will. In the case of the Paralytic, however, He does not ask the Paralytic. Instead, He says, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5). Naturally, this caused a scandal, for among the crowd were Pharisees and other keepers of the Law, who were critical of Jesus. They thought, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) Others in the crowd were afraid for a very different reason: hearing Jesus boldly forgive a man’s sins, they imagined the man’s paralysis was caused by his sins—and that the same could happen to them!
Christ of course, as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, knew the hardness of their hearts, and He replied, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins—he said to the paralytic— I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home. And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”” (Mark 2:9-12) This reading asks us to seriously consider our relationship with God—and not for His sake, but ours. A trusting relationship with God—such as that shown by the Paralytic and his friends—means that we can live a life of peace, relying on the help of our Father, who is in Heaven.
Consider this story of a ship in the Mediterranean, full of many passengers, including, the son of the Captain. One evening, there is a great storm, and ship is tossed back and forth on the waves. All the passengers are afraid: they are trying to understand what is happening, trying to protect themselves, or shouting at one another—all except the Captain’s Son.
Even more afraid of the boy’s calmness, one passenger says, “Don’t you see what is happening? Why are you not afraid?”
“Why should I be afraid?” the Boy says, “my father is not afraid.”
Such is the refuge we can each take in a trusting relationship with our loving Father. This trust can only be built when we continue to participate in the life of the Church, including the Divine Liturgy and the Sacraments. This is in fact the reason the Church exists. Just as we can view the Church as a Hospital for sinners like ourselves, it is also like a port where all can find comfort and peace, living in harmony and trust with all our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
Metropolitan of Atlanta
From the Chancellor's Desk
As we proceed through Great and Holy Lent, I invite you to reflect on how to make this period a spiritually fruitful time that will lead you to the ecstasy of a resurrected life. I thank Fr. Chris Foustoukos for sharing this beautiful reflection.
- Surrender your hands to Christ. Make them the hands of His Love. Write a letter this week to a friend long ignored. Tell that person how much you appreciate him/her.
- Surrender your tongue to Christ. Make it the tongue of His love. Telephone two or three people you have intended to phone but have not. Tell them what they mean to you or to say thank you or sorry.
- Surrender your deeds to Christ. Make them the deeds of His love. Take something you have made or bought to someone who means a great deal to you, but for whom you rarely express your love – a fresh loaf of bread – a small remembrance that has your love as a wrapping.
- Surrender your feet to Christ. Make them the feet of His love. Visit someone who is shut-in, lonely, or an absentee church member. Nothing can take the place of a personal visit in the home, nursing home or hospital. Don’t expect to be rewarded. Make it a gift.
- Surrender your heart to Christ. Make it the heart of His love. Make a list of at least 10 people – friends and enemies – for whom you will pray daily. Forgive them if they have wronged you. Ask for forgiveness if you have wronged them.
- Pray daily at home. Use a devotional aid such as Daily Lenten Meditations for Orthodox Christians by Presbytera Emily Harakas.
- Bring the proceeds of your Lenten fast (the money you saved by eating more simply and eating less) to church as your Lenten almsgiving or put it in your Orthodox Christian Mission Center Bank available in the Narthex for our use during Great Lent.
- Practice metanoia, repentance. Just as a clean engine always delivers power, so a life cleansed through repentance and forgiveness allows the power of God to flow through, enabling us to live truly resurrected lives.
- Watch less TV, or not at all, during Lent to devote more time to prayer and spiritual reading.
- Worship every Sunday. Attend special church services offered during weekdays.
- Lead your family in prayer and Scripture reading. Use the Lenten family practices recommended in the book Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home, by the Rev. Anthony Coniaris.
- Read through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Meditate on one verse each day.
It is by practicing the askesis or discipline of the above that you will be able to say with Saint Gregory the Theologian at Pascha: “Yesterday, I was crucified with Him; today, I am glorified with Him. Yesterday, I died with Him; today, I am alive with Him. Yesterday, I was buried with Him; today, I rise with Him.
+Fr. George Tsahakis
Youth, Education & Hellenic Culture
Camper Registration for St. Stephen’s Summer Camp 2019 opens Wednesday, March 20 at 12:00 p.m. EST
Summer 2019 Dates are:
Week 1: June 23 -June 29
Week 2: June 30 - July 6
Week 3: July 7 - July 13
Week 4: July 14 - July 20
Week 5: July 21 - July 27
Registration is open for "Make Them Ponder: Living a Life that Proclaims the Gospel" - The Southeast Region OCF Workdaze Retreat, at the Diakonia Retreat Center March 29, 2019 - March 31, 2019
For more news, activities, and upcoming events, please click this link!
Family Life Ministry
A growing branch of Family Life Ministry and generously powered by Leadership 100, Engage Orthodoxy is a place for anyone to find Orthodox Christian Content curated by a thoughtful and intentional administrative team.
“Engage Orthodoxy” is not only the name of this new site, but it is also the name of a movement away from division and towards unity. Engage Orthodoxy is a movement towards community, involvement, Orthodox friendships, and relationships. EO seeks to bring the the faithful, the curious, the lost, and the searching TOWARDS their faith and Christ and in turn, towards each other. Engage Orthodoxy is a movement forward into the future of the faith. Join us as we move toward Christ, toward each other, and toward the church.
For more information, or to order “Woven: An Interactive Book for the Modern Teenage Girl on Orthodox Christianity” 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.
- May 4, 2019 - St. Andrew - Kendall, FL
To see the full list of seminars in Florida and in our entire Metropolis please visit: http://www.familylifeministry.atlanta.goarch.org/upcoming-events-2/
Registration is online. Materials costs are included in the registration.
The Strategic Plan
Faith Forum (6/28/19)
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 …
PLAN TO PARTICIPATE AT THIS YEAR'S METROPOLIS CLERGY-LAITY ASSEMBLY, THURSDAY JUNE 27 and FRIDAY JUNE 28.
MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW - Click here for the online portal.
Visit Click here to view a list of the completed goals.
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.