With Church Schools beginning during the month of September, the study guide makes an ideal “beginning of the school year” resource that not only addresses stewardship of creation, but highlights the annual September 1 “Day of Prayer for Creation” observed among Orthodox Christians world-wide since the late 1980s. A poster highlighting the day is also available for downloading.
“On September 1, 1989, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I issued the first message from the Ecumenical Throne on the environment,” writes His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon in a letter being sent to all OCA parishes at the end of August 2015, in which he urges use of the study guide. “With his proclamation and the establishment of September 1, the first day of the Ecclesiastical New Year, as the Day of Prayer for the Creation, the Church again seeks to remind us, as Mary reminded Martha, of the one needful thing—life and unity with Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In that statement, Patriarch Demetrios I reminds us that the holy fathers of the Church teach that ‘man is the prince of creation, endowed with the privilege of freedom. Being partaker simultaneously of the material and the spiritual world, he was created in order to refer creation back to the Creator, in order that the world may be saved from decay and death.’”
Metropolitan Tikhon continues by stating that “in Saint Ephrem the Syrian’s work, ‘Hymns on Paradise,’ we are given yet another guide to how we might come into that unity and life in Christ. Saint Ephrem tells us that God’s two witnesses, or pointers, are, ‘nature, through man’s use of it, [and] Scripture, through his reading it.’
“As the summer draws to a close and children go back to or away to school for the first time and begin again a new academic year and ecclesiastical year, let us, being reminded by the pointers to Christ as mentioned by Saint Ephrem, take a moment to turn to the one needful thing in praise, worship and thanksgiving for the creation and all the blessings bestowed upon us by our merciful Creator,” Metropolitan Tikhon concludes. “It is my prayer that the parishes, Sunday Schools, Youth Groups and other organizations of the Orthodox Church in America will take up this time around September 1 to celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Creation.”
During the week of August 8-15, 2015, the Mexico Mission Team cosponsored by the Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center once again visited the Orthodox Christian Aztec community here.
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of Mexico, Archpriests Ted Pisarchuk, Jacksonville, FL, and Antonio Perdomo, Pharr TX, ministered alongside the region’s clergy, Hieromonk Serafin and Hierodeacon Silouan. Joining them were Rosa Perdomo and Helena Denise Cuellar, also from Pharr, TX, and Martin Esquivel, Fairfield, CA.
Recently installed iconostasis in Pisaflores.
“As in the past, our team was received with great enthusiasm,” said Father Ted. “Every year the children look forward to participating in our summer camp, while the adults enjoy short talks on the Orthodox Christian faith offered after services. And, as always, the villagers offered warm hospitality and delicious local foods.”
San Esteban is a remote subsistence village where “the residents grow their own corn, black beans and fruit,” Father Ted explained. “Most everyone raises chickens, and the food is truly organic and fresh! Homes are mostly built of concrete block with corrugated metal rooms. Many homes do not have indoor bathroom facilities, and where there is running water, it consists of one-quarter inch polybutylene pipes, akin to garden hoses, that run down the side of the road or are suspended from poles. Transportation is mostly by foot or horseback, while burros function as pickup trucks.”
In addition to their work in San Esteban—one of over 80 villages in Hidalgo on Mexico’s Gulf Coast—the team undertook a survey of the outlying Orthodox villages to see what assistance might be offered to enable indigenous clergy to more effectively serve their flocks.
Fr. Ted Pisarchuk blesses Pisaflores faithful.
“Local lore relates that this region of Mexico initially was evangelized by a Father Armin in the early 1920s,” said Father Ted. “Before his death in 1960, he had planted about 12 parishes, including those in San Esteban, Pisaflores, Benito Juarez, and elsewhere. Father Armin is buried in Pisaflores, where community members care for his grave and hold his memory in great esteem.”
After Father Armin’s death, Father Jesus Gutierrez arrived and served the people until his death in 1986.
“These men faithfully served their flocks and intervened with government officials to bring electricity and bridges to their towns,” Father Ted related. “After Father Jesus’ death, there was a lack of clergy to serve the local faithful until 2000, when Father Antonio—now Archbishop Alejo—moved to Pisaflores for one year, traveling by foot and horseback to serve area parishes. After he had been called back to Mexico City’s Ascension Cathedral in 2001, he continued to serve area parishes weekly for the next three years, traveling over nine hours each way by bus, boat, foot and horseback.”
Today, Hieromonk Serafin has taken up residence in the humble rectory in Pisaflores.
Fr. Antonio Perdomo prays with campers in San Estaban.
“A second, equally humble rectory, funded in large part by an OCA Church Planting Grant, is now is being built in San Esteban,” Father Ted said. “Father Serafin plans to use these two villages as a home base to serve the outlying villages.
“Because our churches have been underserved, evangelical Protestants have effectively proselytized many of the region’s Orthodox Christians,” Father Ted continued. “With a resident priest in the area, the last barrier to effective ministry—the ability to travel to these remote rural villages on a regular basis—can be overcome. Many villages are unmapped and are located along slow going stone roads.”
To visit these villages, Father Serafin depends on others, and he often must hire a driver.
“Instead of visiting parishes once every two months, as he does at present, Father Serafin could serve two or three parishes a week if he had a vehicle,” explained Father Ted. “To this end, the 2015 OCA-OCMC mission team members, with the blessing of Archbishop Alejo, are raising funds to purchase a used four-wheel drive vehicle for the sole purpose of serving these 12 parishes.” [Those interested in learning how they can help this effort may contact Father Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Fr. Serafin and Archbishop Alejo, seated, with 2015 mission team.
The team also is collecting mounted icons that can be sent to the villages. Established parishes or individuals with “extras” are invited to send them to Father Antonio Perdomo, 520 West Rosemary Ave, Pharr, TX 78577-0667, who will see to it that they are delivered.
“We hope that when the 2016 OCA-OCMC mission team returns to San Esteban, we will be able to deliver a reliable used vehicle and adorn the village churches with icons,” Father Ted concluded.
Those who would like to participate in next summer’s mission team may contact Father Ted at the e-mail address noted above or OCMC at 904-829-5132.
In the Warsaw Seminary chapel are [from left] Victor Lutes, Janine Alpaugh, John Shimchick, and Joseph Green.
Five young adults representing the Orthodox Church in America are among the forty-plus participants from around the world attending the international Orthodox youth festival, “Attaining Conciliarity,” at the Monastery of the Annunciation’s Academy here during the last week of August 2015.
In early 2015, each OCA diocese had been asked to select a young adult to participate in the festival. Representing the Archdiocese of Washington is Victor Lutes, while Janine Alpaugh, William Kopcha and Joseph Green are representing the Dioceses of New York and New Jersey, New England and the South respectively. Also representing the Diocese of New York and New Jersey is John Shimchick, who had visited the Church in Poland several years ago.
Archpriest Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, is the keynote festival speaker. His topic is “The Conciliar Model of the OCA: The Dream of Saint Tikhon.” Also slated to address the gathering is Archpriest Vladimir Misijuk of Bialystok, Poland, who will speak on “Attaining Conciliarity: The Task of our Daily Life.” Father Vladimir is an alumnus of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and former Syndesmos General Secretary.
“Since its establishment in Paris, France in 1953 as a way to connect Orthodox youth and young adults the world over, Syndesmos has worked closely with youth in North America, Western Europe and the traditional ‘Orthodox homelands,’” said Andrew Boyd, OCA Youth Director. “This was especially crucial in the late 20th century as the only means to connect Orthodox youth in eastern and central Europe with their counterparts elsewhere. While still a university student, the late Father John Meyendorff was among Syndesmos’ founders, while other Influential members of Syndesmos as young adults and beyond include the late Father Alexander Schmemann, the late Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch, Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, and countless others. The OCA has a strong tradition of supporting Syndesmos through its general secretariat, elected vice-presidency and board membership and by providing interns and staff members. In 2009, I had the honor of serving as a Syndesmos intern.”
Upon their arrival in Poland, the OCA representatives were hosted at the Warsaw Theological Seminary before leaving for Bialystok and Suprasl. As part of the festival program they will visit the Orthodox women’s monastery in Grabarka, one of the Orthodox Church of Poland’s holiest sites, and participate in celebrations marking the 35th anniversary of the Orthodox Youth Fellowship of Poland.
The Board of Trustees of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary here met on August 20-21, 2015. Board committees met on Thursday, while the entire board gathered on Friday.
“Board committees are comprised of board members, faculty, administrative team members, seminarians, and others,” said Archpriest Dr. Steven Voytovich, Dean. “These meetings form a multi-disciplinary platform bringing together many voices across the community, especially important now as Saint Tikhon’s Seminary is in the midst of a self-study in preparation for a re-accreditation review in 2016.”
The board gratefully accepted a proposal from Peter and Sarah Jubinski to form the Peter and Sarah B. Jubinski Library Endowment.
“With initial funding pledged by the couple, the endowment will be focused toward acquisitions for the Patriarch Saint Tikhon Library,” said Father Steven. “This is an especially meaningful gift, as it follows 40+ years of support and direct engagement in the library by Sarah Jubinski, who has served as librarian and ardent supporter. She also serves as Chair of the Seminary’s Century Association, representing those who offer annual financial stewardship gifts.”
For the first time, the board heard from seminary’s recently appointed Director of Mission Advancement, Seraphim Danckaert, and from the Alumni Association’s new President, Priest Patrick Burns, who was elected during the All-American Council. [See related story.] Board members participated in a presentation focusing on their development efforts by Dawn Miller of Zielinski Company. It was through her consulting efforts that Mr. Danckaert was added to the seminary staff.
The board also reviewed documentation indicating that the seminary ended the past year on a much stronger footing, Father Steven added.
The publishing house of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY—SVS Press—was amongst the “brightest stars” at the 17th International Conference on Patristic Studies here August 10–14, 2015. According to Press Marketing Director Deacon Gregory Hatrak and Production Manager Michael Soroka, SVS Press’s Popular Patristics Series was hailed as “one of the most useful, accessible, and sought after resources” among the nearly 1,000 scholars at the conference.
At the gathering, Deacon Gregory and Mr. Soroka manned the SVS Press section of the vendor booth run by publisher SPCK—the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge—the Press’s UK and European distributor. As they interacted with scholars, authors, and book buyers at the conference and informally, Deacon Gregory and Mr. Soroka came to realize the tremendous respect the Popular Patristics Series had garnered.
“Professor Paul Blowers, an internationally renowned expert on the writings of Saint Maximus the Confessor, said that he sends his best students to SVS Press,” noted Deacon Gregory, “and he assures them that if they are published in a PPS volume, their work will be used as course material at the undergraduate or graduate level.
“PPS volumes are regularly ordered for classroom use in such renowned institutions as Harvard, Fordham, and Notre Dame Universities and Wheaton College,” explained Deacon Gregory. “Additionally, when I saw our PPS books on a promotional stand in the famous Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford, I was struck by how highly respected these volumes are among academics and how highly accessible they are to the average lay reader. I saw similar displays in other public books shops and in religious book shops housed in local churches throughout the city.”
Seminary Dean, Archpriest Dr. John Behr, a renowned Patristics scholar, editor of the PPS, and seminary Dean, chaired a session at the conference and spoke at a special outdoor reception hosted by SPCK and SVS Press on the quad of Oxford’s Examination Schools. At the reception, Father John introduced and thanked SPCK’s Commercial Director Alexandra McDonald and Sales Director Alan Mordue. He also thanked the PPS contributors who were present, including Alistair Stewart, translator of the newly revised edition of On the Apostolic Tradition (PPS 54) and Luis Joshua Salés, translator of Two Hundred Chapters on Theology (PPS 53). Father John also enjoined the scholars to submit new translations and studies to the Press for consideration in order to expand the breadth of PPS titles.
In turn, PPS collaborators praised their working relationship with the SVS Press family and spoke about the ease of the publication process, the high caliber of the editorial staff, and the top level strategic marketing. Professor Stewart said, “I’ve worked with a lot of presses, but I especially appreciate the one-on-one attention afforded by SVS Press staff, along with their collegiality and, in particular, the eye of editor Father Benedict Churchill.”
Archimandrite Gerasim, Dean of Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX and Administrator of the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America, will be the keynote speaker at a pan-Orthodox retreat for young professionals here October 16-18, 2015.
Sponsored by Holy Trinity Antiochian Orthodox Church, Santa Fe, NM, the retreat will have as its theme “Sanctifying Time and Space: Privilege and Responsibility as an Orthodox Young Professional.”
“As Americans, as young professionals, and as Orthodox Christians, we are called to hold fast to our Faith against the oppositions of our culture and to do whatever good is within our calling and capacity,” reads a release posted on the web site of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. “To fulfill these roles, we need the support of genuine relationship and connection with fellow Christians. The influence of Orthodox Christianity on local, national, and global culture begins—as it always has—with mutual prayer and encouragement. Our hope is that we will return to our home parishes better prepared to redeem the time given to us.”
Matushka Constantina Palmer, author of The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Women’s Monastery and wife of Priest John Palmer of the OCA’s Holy Lady of Vladimir Mission Station, Saint John’s, Newfoundland, will deliver the welcome address.
“We’re delighted to see a grassroots effort emerge to bring our Orthodox young professionals together for education and fellowship,” said Andrew Boyd, who chairs the OCA’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry. “Hopefully they will in turn be strengthened in their witness to Christ’s Gospel in their communities and workplaces.
In addition to the presentations and breakout sessions, the retreat also will offer activities including a fall color hike in Santa Fe National Forest, a visit to historic downtown Santa Fe, evening activities and worship at Holy Trinity Church.
Wilmington, NC: Institutional Chaplain commissioned
Brett McKey with Frs. Timothy and Peter and fellow CPE residents.
At the close of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, August 9, 2015, the clergy and faithful of Saint Basil the Great Mission celebrated a special service commissioning Brett McKey, as an Institutional Chaplain. Priests Peter Robichau and Timothy Yates led the service, which was attended by Brett’s family and friends and fellow chaplain residents from the local hospital where he has been serving this past year.
“At the beginning of August, Brett completed a rigorous, 12-month training in hospital chaplaincy at Wilmington’s New Hanover Regional Medical Center,” said Father Timothy. “He now begins an upper-level chaplaincy program at Pacific Health Ministry, Honolulu, HI, where he will specialize in the pastoral care of patients with chronic, non-curable diseases in the branch of medicine known as Palliative Care.
Brett explained to the parish that CPE is a process of living out one’s theology by which Orthodox Christian chaplains bring the strength of the Church’s tradition to assist very diverse populations, seeing the image of God in each person they encounter.
“Orthodox Christian chaplains can share the light of Christ with others currently experiencing a period of darkness, or even hell,” he said. “As Christ descended into hell to break the bonds of hell and death and grant life, so too can Orthodox Christians enter into these spaces of darkness, death, and hell that others are experiencing, and bring light, life, and healing.”
Chaplaincy and CPE are not limited to ordained ministers. Brett shared that chaplaincy training “challenges spiritual caregivers to expand their own sense of compassion for others and can be very beneficial to both ordained clergy and laypersons alike.”
A North Carolina native, Brett received a Master of Divinity degree in 2009 from Duke Divinity School, where he worked for several years thereafter as a theological writing tutor, research assistant, and preceptor. While at Duke, he became acquainted with the Orthodox Church through the study of Church history and courses he had taken with Priest Edward Rommen, Adjunct Professor at Duke and Rector of the OCA’s Holy Transfiguration Church, Raleigh, NC. Brett was received into the Orthodox Church in 2009 and has led Bible studies and, during the past year has served choir director at Saint Basil’s.
“Brett has been a model of service in the name of Christ, in both the parish and hospital,” said Father Peter. “He ministers through music by directing our choir and he ministers to the sick and their families by listening and being a healing presence. Both ministries have the same goal of making Christ known and visible in a world that needs this desperately.”
“Just a few weeks ago, the 18th All-American Council focused our attention on expanding the mission our Lord has given to His Church,” added Father Timothy, “and one of the growing areas of ministry is chaplaincy, whether in the military or in hospitals and prisons. It provides a unique setting for meeting and supporting the spiritual needs of a very diverse group of people, most of whom are not Orthodox Christians, but all of whom may benefit from the pastoral care of well-trained chaplains. That’s a mission we definitely need to expand!”
Charlotte, NC: Parish pursues another “home mission” ministry!
The Carolinas’ “home missionaries” complete their work!
“When we think of mission and ministry we often think of traveling to Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, or some far flung destination,” said Archpriest William Mills of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church, Charlotte, NC. “The Church needs international missions, even as the Apostle Paul cared for the new Christian communities in far away Rome while tending the flock in Jerusalem. For us today things are not much different. There is plenty of ministry and missionary work right here, “at home!”
Father William’s words were “put into action” as seven members of his parish traveled to Columbia, SC to help the faithful of Holy Apostles Church renovate their parish hall.
“The hall—once a warehouse for the Swisher Company—is used all the time by such diverse groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and even a group of Irish dancers,” said Archpriest Thomas Moore, Holy Apostles’ Rector. “We plan to use the space for our coffee fellowship, but it needed a face lift—and with the help of the Nativity team, it got a complete overall!”
According to Father William, the Nativity team coordinated and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with several Holy Apostles parishioners. They began each work day at 7:00 a.m., working in 95 degree-plus heat until around 7:30 p.m. In addition to new duct work, a drop ceiling, two sets of double doors and a new walkway were installed, while a kitchen area also was framed. The work was done under the supervision of Sam Salloum, a contractor and a long-time member of Nativity.
“The project born two years ago when Nativity’s Saint Raphael Prayer Group made an intentional decision to take on this type of construction ministry,” Father William explained. “Our first trip was to Saint Nicholas Church, Kenosha, WI, where we designed and built a 100-foot ramp for the parish. The basic concept of our construction ministry is that our parish provides all of the labor, travel costs, and food to and from the work site, while the host parish donates all of the supplies. A generous grant from a Nativity parishioner has allowed us to engage in this type of ministry.”
In addition to delighting in the visible fruits of their labors, the Nativity team has discovered invisible yet equally blessed results of their ministry, including fellowship among team members, working with the parishioners from Holy Apostles, and the benefit of knowing that we helped make something which seemed impossible, possible.
“The other day someone asked me how our parish did all of this work,” said Father William. “I said, ‘Well, it’s actually easy. We have eight other ministries and this is our ninth—ministry gives birth to new ministry.”
Chicago, IL: OCCHY spearheads National Red Ribbon Week
Releasing balloons during last year’s National Red Ribbon Week.
Chicago’s Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth [OCCHY] recently announced that it will spearhead the National Red Ribbon Week youth campaign, aimed at raising awareness against the use of drugs and related substances, October 23-31, 2015.
“This year’s theme is ‘Respect Yourself,” said Gordana Trbuhovich, OCCHY’s Project Coordinator. “As in the past, OCCHY will supply Chicago-area parishes and schools with free resources to help them in recognizing this year’s campaign.”
In 2014, OCCHY distributed resources to 80 Orthodox Christian parishes throughout the greater Chicago region at a cost of over $3,500.00.
“This year, our grant allows us to spend $4,500.00,” Ms. Trubuhovich explained. “Unless otherwise requested, OCCHY will provide each parish with 50 balloons, 50 pencil sharpeners and 50 ribbons to mark the week-long campaign.”
OCCHY is a pan-Orthodox ministry that operates under a five-year Drug Free Community grant awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the federal government. OCCHY is the first Orthodox Christian faith-based organization to receive this federal grant.
“During this past year, Father David and Matushka Rozanne have been teaching classes, mentoring students, hosting informal gatherings, and offering pastoral care and counseling,” said His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska recently. “Through all of this, and through their personal example as joyful servants of Christ, they are helping to rekindle the Church’s missionary vision.
“Many helped bring the Ruckers as OCMC missionaries to the seminary,” Bishop David continued. “Their work is critical and vital to the future of the Diocese of Alaska, especially in light of the daunting challenges faced by our native Alaskan Church leaders as they minister to people dealing with family chaos, addictions, suicide, abuse, cultural disintegration and economic hardships. I would be most grateful for any financial support through monthly pledges to support their ministry of ‘making disciples of all nations.’”
The Ruckers have had years of experience in the mission field—from South America to China to Kentucky to Guatemala and, today, Alaska. While Father David completed doctoral studies in Missiology and served as OCMC’s Associate Director from 2006 until 2013, Matushka Rozanne holds a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Father David also was an instructor at the OCA’s first Mission School in Detroit, MI in the spring of 2015. The couple has spoken at many parishes and conferences across the USA.
Donations to support the Ruckers’ ongoing ministry at Saint Herman’s Seminary and beyond may be made on-line through OCMC or by mail to OCMC, 220 Mason Manatee Way, Saint Augustine, FL 32086.
Toccoa, GA: 50th wedding anniversary celebrated
Fr. Marcus, Matushka Sharon and Fr. Jacob, and Fr. Thomas at celebration.
Archpriest Jacob and Matushka Sharon Kulp were honored on Sunday, August 16, 2015, as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a Service of Thanksgiving at Saint Timothy Church, Toccoa, GA, where Father Jacob serves as Rector. Joining the parish’s faithful for the celebration were Archpriest Marcus C. Burch, Chancellor of the Diocese of the South, and Archpriest Thomas Moore, Dean of the Carolinas Deanery. All of the Kulps’ children and grandchildren were also present to wish them “many years!”
Predrag Matejic, Ph. D., Associate Professor at Ohio State University’s Center for Slavic and East European Studies and Curator of the Hilandar Research Library, will present the third annual Father John Meyendorff Memorial Lecture on Monday, September 14, 2015 at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary here. Speaking on the topic “Byzantium, the Slavs, and the Rise of the Russian Orthodox Church,” he will focus on three historical periods: the conversion of the Slavs, the 10th–11th centuries, and the Russian Orthodox Church after the fall of Constantinople, including the Councils of the 16th century.
“These three moments reflect the changing interaction and relationship between Byzantium and the Slavs (Russia),” says Professor Matejic, “from complete acceptance, to refinement—that is, rejection of Byzantium’s pagan philosophies—and finally, to the renaissance of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
Prior to the lecture, the seminary will honor His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America and His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The Board of Trustees and faculty will bestow Doctor of Divinity degrees, honoris causa, on both hierarchs at an Academic Convocation beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Metropolitan Tikhon serves as the seminary’s President and chairs its Board of Trustees, while Metropolitan Joseph serves as Vice Chair of the Board.
Archpriest Chad Hatfield, seminary Chancellor/CEO, noted the significance of the awards, saying, “Just the visual image of these two Metropolitans standing together should remind all of us of the important place that our seminary has had for generations in showing the visible unity of Orthodoxy in America. Now both of these great leaders will be alumni of Saint Vladimir’s.”
The Academic Convocation and lecture are open to the public and will be held in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building.
For two weeks, Archpriest Michael Boyle and the faithful of Saint Michael the Archangel Cathedral here have been praying for relief from the torrential rains that have pounded the region and flooded the historic structure’s basement.
“While the cathedral, which stands in the middle of the downtown district, has been spared from mudslides, it has been significantly affected by rain—especially over the past 48 hours during which at times up to an inch an hour fell,” said Father Michael on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. “For the hearty Sitka faithful, who live in the Tongass National Rain Forest, being wet is not just a part of life—it is life!
“We are thankful to God that none of the icons or artifacts that belonged to Saint Innocent, nor any other sacred items, have been damaged or affected by the water,” Father Michael added. “However, the cathedral’s main dome began to leak, so buckets and tarps now cover the floor.”
Sitka was placed on a State of Alaska emergency alert as Governor Bill Walker visited the city to examine the devastation this week.
Workmen take precautions against additional mudslides.
“We have had three major mudslides, one of which totally engulfed and buried a brand new house under tons of dirt and Sitka spruce trees,” Father Michael reported. “The house has not been found, and rescuers have neither heard from nor located the three painters who were inside the house at the time of the slide. Our faithful and the 9,000 inhabitants of our little town are in shock as the three workers are friends to a number of our parishioners and many of the town’s residents.”
While other families have been evacuated from their homes as a precaution against ongoing slides, the cathedral faithful’s main concern remains additional flooding.
“Over the past two weeks the cathedral basement has been closed off, and it’s been a challenge to keep the basement dry, free of water and most recently, free from the growth of mold,” said Father Michael. “With the severe storm raging these past two days, the basement has been hit hard with major water damage. Yesterday we pumped out 1,100 gallons of water, and we still have about 500 gallons still waiting to be removed. Our sump pumps are working, but our dilemma is the configuration of what we have come to call ‘the perfect storm.’
“Elements of this perfect storm,” according to Father Michael, “include the cathedral’s close proximity to the water table, combined with the torrential rains and the regularity of two high tides a day. All of this equals massive amounts of water in need of some place to go—and that’s our basement. While we will weather this storm, as we have many others, we now face the larger issue of sustainability.”
His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska, who is well aware of these most recent incidents and the cathedral’s needs, has called for an assessment of possible anomalies in the cathedral’s original structure that could be adding to its current problems. Constructed of spruce logs by skilled Finnish carpenters between 1844 and 1848, the landmark cathedral was designed by Saint Innocent, who also fabricated the clock that graced its bell tower. The present cathedral is a faithful reconstruction of the original building that burned to the ground on January 2, 1966. At the time, over 95% of the original icons and liturgical items—irreplaceable examples of 18th and 19th century Russian religious artwork, including the Sitka Icon of the Mother of God—were salvaged by 100 local residents who formed a human “chain” to rescue the burning cathedral’s contents.
“We remain assured of God’s help for us and His loving mercy for those who have lost their lives and their families and for those who have been displaced,” said a hopeful Father Michael. “We are blessed to live in a little town in which, when something like this happens, everyone pitches in to help their neighbors. We ask for everyone’s prayers, and we thank one and all for the support we have already received.”
The divine Baptist, the Prophet born of a Prophet, the seal of all the Prophets and beginning of the Apostles, the mediator between the Old and New Covenants, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, the God-sent Messenger of the incarnate Messiah, the forerunner of Christ's coming into the world (Esaias 40: 3; Mal. 3: 1); who by many miracles was both conceived and born; who was filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb; who came forth like another Elias the Zealot, whose life in the wilderness and divine zeal for God's Law he imitated: this divine Prophet, after he had preached the baptism of repentance according to God's command; had taught men of low rank and high how they must order their lives; had admonished those whom he baptized and had filled them with the fear of God, teaching them that no one is able to escape the wrath to come if he do not works worthy of repentance; had, through such preaching, prepared their hearts to receive the evangelical teachings of the Savior; and finally, after he had pointed out to the people the very Savior, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world" (Luke 3:2-18; John 1: 29-36), after all this, John sealed with his own blood the truth of his words and was made a sacred victim for the divine Law at the hands of a transgressor.
This was Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee, the son of Herod the Great. This man had a lawful wife, the daughter of Arethas (or Aretas), the King of Arabia (that is, Arabia Petraea, which had the famous Nabatean stone city of Petra as its capital. This is the Aretas mentioned by Saint Paul in II Cor. 11:32). Without any cause, and against every commandment of the Law, he put her away and took to himself Herodias, the wife of his deceased brother Philip, to whom Herodias had borne a daughter, Salome. He would not desist from this unlawful union even when John, the preacher of repentance, the bold and austere accuser of the lawless, censured him and told him, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6: 18). Thus Herod, besides his other unholy acts, added yet this, that he apprehended John and shut him in prison; and perhaps he would have killed him straightway, had he not feared the people, who had extreme reverence for John. Certainly, in the beginning, he himself had great reverence for this just and holy man. But finally, being pierced with the sting of a mad lust for the woman Herodias, he laid his defiled hands on the teacher of purity on the very day he was celebrating his birthday. When Salome, Herodias' daughter, had danced in order to please him and those who were supping with him, he promised her -- with an oath more foolish than any foolishness -- that he would give her anything she asked, even unto the half of his kingdom. And she, consulting with her mother, straightway asked for the head of John the Baptist in a charger. Hence this transgressor of the Law, preferring his lawless oath above the precepts of the Law, fulfilled this godless promise and filled his loathsome banquet with the blood of the Prophet. So it was that that all-venerable head, revered by the Angels, was given as a prize for an abominable dance, and became the plaything of the dissolute daughter of a debauched mother. As for the body of the divine Baptist, it was taken up by his disciples and placed in a tomb (Mark 6: 21 - 29). Concerning the finding of his holy head, see February 24 and May 25.Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
Saint Alexander was sent to the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea as the delegate of Saint Metrophanes, Bishop of Constantinople (see June 4), to whose throne he succeeded in the year 325. When Arius had deceitfully professed allegiance to the Council of Nicaea, Saint Alexander, knowing his guile, refused to receive him into communion; Arius' powerful partisans threatened that they would use force to bring Arius into the communion of the Church the following day. Saint Alexander prayed fervently that God might spare the Church; and as Arius was in a privy place relieving nature, his bowels gushed forth with an effusion of blood, and the arch-heresiarch died the death of Judas. Saint Alexander was Bishop from 325 until 337, when he was succeeded by Saint Paul the Confessor, who died a martyr's death at the hands of the Arians (see Nov. 6). The Saint John commemorated here appears to be the one who was Patriarch during the years 562-577, surnamed Scholasticus, who is also commemorated on February 21. He was from Antioch, where he had been a lawyer (scholasticus); he was made presbyter, then was sent to Constantinople as representative (apocrisiarius) of the Patriarch of Antioch, and was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople by the Emperor Justinian. Saint Paul was Bishop of Constantinople during the years 687 - 693, in the reign of Emperor Justinian II, and presided over the Quinisext Council in 692.
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For the maintenance of their armed forces, the Roman emperors decreed that their subjects in every district should be taxed every year. This same decree was reissued every fifteen years, since the Roman soldiers were obliged to serve for fifteen years. At the end of each fifteen-year period, an assessment was made of what economic changes had taken place, and a new tax was decreed, which was to be paid over the span of the fifteen years. This imperial decree, which was issued before the season of winter, was named Indictio, that is, Definiton, or Order. This name was adopted by the emperors in Constantinople also. At other times, the latter also used the term Epinemisis, that is, Distribution (Dianome). It is commonly held that Saint Constantine the Great introduced the Indiction decrees in A.D. 312, after he beheld the sign of the Cross in heaven and vanquished Maxentius and was proclaimed Emperor in the West. Some, however (and this seems more likely), ascribe the institution of the Indiction to Augustus Caesar, three years before the birth of Christ. Those who hold this view offer as proof the papal bull issued in A.D. 781 which is dated thus: Anno IV, Indictionis LIII -that is, the fourth year of the fifty-third Indiction. From this, we can deduce the aforementioned year (3 B.C.) by multiplying the fifty-two complete Indictions by the number of years in each (15), and adding the three years of the fifty-third Indiction. There are three types of Indictions: 1) That which was introduced in the West, and which is called Imperial, or Caesarean, or Constantinian, and which begins on the 24th of September; 2) The so-called Papal Indiction, which begins on the 1st of January; and 3) The Constantinopolitan, which was adopted by the Patriarchs of that city after the fall of the Eastern Empire in 1453. This Indiction is indicated in their own hand on the decrees they issue, without the numeration of the fifteen years. This Indiction begins on the 1st of September and is observed with special ceremony in the Church. Since the completion of each year takes place, as it were, with the harvest and gathering of the crops into storehouses, and we begin anew from henceforth the sowing of seed in the earth for the production of future crops, September is considered the beginning of the New Year. The Church also keeps festival this day, beseeching God for fair weather, seasonable rains, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth. The Holy Scriptures (Lev. 23:24-5 and Num. 29:1-2) also testify that the people of Israel celebrated the feast of the Blowing of the Trumpets on this day, offering hymns of thanksgiving. In addition to all the aforesaid, on this feast we also commemorate our Saviour's entry into the synagogue in Nazareth, where He was given the book of the Prophet Esaias to read, and He opened it and found the place where it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for which cause He hath anointed Me..." (Luke 4:16-30).
It should be noted that to the present day, the Church has always celebrated the beginning of the New Year on September 1. This was the custom in Constantinople until its fall in 1453 and in Russia until the reign of Peter I. September 1 is still festively celebrated as the New Year at the Patriarchate of Constantinople; among the Jews also the New Year, although reckoned according to a moveable calendar, usually falls in September. The service of the Menaion for January 1 is for our Lord's Circumcision and for the memorial of Saint Basil the Great, without any mention of its being the beginning of a new year.
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Jesus (Joshua) of Navi was born of the tribe of Ephraim in Egypt, in the seventeenth century before Christ. When he was eighty-five years of age, he became Moses' successor. He restrained the River Jordan's flow and allowed the Israelites to cross on foot. He caused the sun to stop in its course when he was waging war against the Amorites. He divided the Promised Land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel and governed them for twenty-five years. He wrote the Old Testament book that bears his name, and having lived 110 years in all, he reposed in the sixteenth century before Christ. His name means "God saves."
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Our righteous Father Symeon was born about the year 390 in a certain village named Sis, in the mountain region of Cilicia and Syria. Having first been a shepherd, he entered the monastic discipline at a young age. After trying various kinds of ascetical practices, both in the monastery and then in the wilderness, he began standing on pillars of progressively greater height, and heroically persevered in this for more than forty years; the greater part of this time he spent standing upright, even when one of his feet became gangrenous, and other parts of his body gave way under the strain. He did not adopt this strange way of life out of vainglory, a charge that some of his contemporaries made against him at the first: because he was already famous for his asceticism and holiness before ascending his first pillar (in Greek, style, whence he is called "Stylite"), many pious people came to him wishing to touch his garments, either for healing or for a blessing; to escape the continual vexation they caused, he made a pillar about ten feet high, and then higher and higher, until the fourth and last was about fifty feet high. The Church historian Theodoret of Cyrrhus, an eyewitness of his exploits who wrote of him while Symeon was yet alive, called him "the great wonder of the world." God gave him the grace to persevere in such an astonishing form of asceticism that multitudes came to see him from Persia, Armenia, South Arabia, Georgia, Thrace, Spain, Italy, Gaul, and the British Isles. Theodoret says that he became so famous in Rome that the Nomadic Arabs by the thousands believed in Christ and were baptized because of him; the King of Persia sent envoys to inquire into his way of life, and the Queen asked to be sent oil that he had blessed. He also was a great defender of sound doctrine, and confirmed the Orthodoxy of the Holy Council of Chalcedon for many who had been beguiled by the teachings of the Monophysites, including the Empress Eudocia, widow of Theodosius the Younger. After a life of unheard-of achievements and struggles, he reposed in peace at the age of sixty-nine, in the year 459.
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Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church