Week of February 11

Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the Name of the Lord.

Thanks to everyone who made our 2019 Annual Meeting such a success, but special thanks to the folks who were willing to run for the parish, Erica Wood and Vera Poe; they have both served on the council previously, and we appreciate their hard work and their faithfulness. Thanks, as well, to our new parish council members, Bessie Jacob, Jerry Juliano, and Demetry Zozulya.

Our Calendar

Fasting Days

Wednesday, February 13, and Friday, February 15

Daily Services

Monday, February 11-Friday, February 15

  • Orthros 5am

  • Vespers 5pm

(But don’t forget that since life in our parish community can be pretty busy, sometimes the starting times for the daily services has to be shifted. So, if you know ahead of time that you will be attending a particular service, it’s always a good idea to send Father Aidan a note at fraidan@austin.rr.com to confirm when the service will actually begin.)

Saturday, February 16

  • St Thomas School 4pm Father Deacon Andrew will be leading the discussion of Chapter 30 on Posthumous Retribution

  • Great Vespers 6pm

Sunday, February 17

The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

  • Orthros 8am

  • Church School Staff Workday (No classes) 8:15am

  • Divine Liturgy 10am

  • Fellowship Hour Noon

We Need Six More People and One More Leader

That’s how many folks we need to offer food and refreshment each week at Fellowship Hour. A month ago, the parish council decided that, due to a shortage of volunteers, we would only be able to offer a full Fellowship Hour every other week. We made an appeal for volunteers at the Annual Meeting, and we did pick up some people, but we still need six folks who are willing to serve on a team and one person who will head up a team. So, if you want a nice cup of coffee and some good food to eat each and every Sunday, please contact Misty Wright.

This Week at St Thomas School

Chapter 31 Posthumous Retribution

Christ came to Hades and destroyed it; we can pray for the dead to help save them; the universal resurrection proclaims that the bodies and souls of all people are reunited; at the last judgment we all experience God’s love. We have covered these sobering and hopeful teachings in previous chapters.

The word retribution may have a somewhat harsh-sounding tone to us. It literally means repayment in Latin from the root words to pay back, give back among tribes (re-tribuere, tribus=tribe). The verb tribuere alone has a range of meaning in classical times, in particular to grant something to a person or thing, and also meaning to attribute, distribute or even poetically to give as a gift, or a tribute. But retribuere simply means to give back, restore. What is Christ restoring or giving back to us?

Mark of Ephesus frames retribution in this way: our suffering comes from our separation from God and our inability to see him that we have assigned to ourselves. Our actions, whether big or small, add up to our final tribute in the next life so to say.

We will also cover another important Greek term that is found in the Acts of the Apostles, apokatasis (universal restoration). Origin took this idea of salvation to include even the fallen angels as well as all people whatever their wish may be. The Church has not gone that far. But there is a temptation nowadays to believe in a type of universalism. How do we balance extreme optimism and pessimism? Why is it important to believe in a retribution at all?

Join our discussion this Saturday evening at 4:00pm and learn more about these teachings on the afterlife and God’s unfathomable mysteries of love and human freedom.

Coming Up

The Triodion, the three week period of preparation leading up to Great Lent, will begin on Sunday, February 17. That means it’s time to start thinking about how we are going to fast, when we will make our confession, how often we will participate in the weekday Lenten services (most weeks, there are services on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings.

On Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17, we will host our first Open House Weekend for 2019. Attached to this edition of The Happy Priest are a letter which explains the importance of this event and how it works, as well as a flyer that you can use to help us publicize the weekend (the flyer--, "-Web.jpg"—can be shared online / via email, and the "-Print.pdf" version can be used if people want to print; two of the images should fit on one 8.5" x 11 sheet).

There are three Saturdays of Souls each year during the Triodion and Great Lent. This year, those Saturdays will be March 2, 23 and 30th. On those days, we serve Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am, and we pray for our departed family members and friends. We should all be able to make the services on at least one of those days, and those of us with children and grandchildren and godchildren need to make sure that those folks are present with us so that they will know how to remember us when we have departed this life.

During Great Lent, we will also be reading a short book together in preparation for the Pascha Book Study; the book is called Laughing at the Devil; it’s by Laura Hall, and it is now on sale at Christ the Lightgiver Bookstore. The book is part memoir and part commentary on the very first book ever written in English by a woman about the spiritual life. That woman is Julian of Norwich, and Laura Hall, who is a Protestant does a very good job of connecting Julian’s insights with contemporary issues. As Orthodox Christians, we won’t agree with everything that Laura says, but we will learn a great deal both from her and from Julian, so go ahead and pick up the book and be looking for the schedule of readings in this newsletter.

Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy

Let’s be sure and leave the chairs and the benches for folks who are older and for folks who have physical limitations. Children and young people should always sit on the floor or stand. We never know who is going to come through the door of the nave, so even if it appears that there are vacant chairs or benches, children and young people should remain sitting on the floor or standing.

At the Annual Meeting, we talked about the carving which will be installed on the front of our new altar later this year. A drawing of the carving is attached to this newsletter. If you would like to make a donation towards that piece in honor or in memory of someone you love, just talk to myself or Baker Galloway.

I’m looking forward to beginning the Triodion with all of you.

An unworthy priest,