Week of February 18

Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the Name of the Lord.

We have now started the Triodion, the countdown to Great Lent. Please read through this issue of The Happy Priest carefully because it contains a whole lot of good information about what you can do to take full advantage of this important time of preparation.

Our Calendar

Fasting Days

There is no fasting this week (Wha-Hoo!)

Daily Services

Monday, February 18-Friday, February 22

  • Orthros 8am

  • 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.)

Thursday, February 21

  • Choir Practice 7pm

Saturday, February 23

  • St Thomas School 4pm Hubert Bays will be leading the discussion on Chapter 32 “A New Heaven and A New Earth”

  • Great Vespers 6pm

Sunday, February 24

The Sunday of The Prodigal Son

  • Orthros 8am

  • Divine Liturgy 10am

  • Fellowship Hour Noon

  • Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children Noon

This Week at St Thomas School

Chapter 32 New Heaven and New Earth

“Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”

Our study of Volume II on the doctrine and teaching of the Orthodox Church will come to an end this Saturday evening.

In our study of Orthodox teaching and doctrine, we saw how we are all called to hold fast to sacred tradition and scripture as Metropolitan Hilarion explained in Chapter 1 when he quotes from the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians (15). Although the only substantial change that Orthodox Christians seem to be comfortable with is the final change, we do look forward to how, “the hierarchical structure of the universe will disappear in the future age” (576).

Metropolitan Hilarion’s short, multilayered chapter looks at the idea of how God is “all in all,” taken from I Corinthians 15. Although God will transfigure all of creation, it is not quite the same as apokatastasis that we read about in chapter 30. We also see that the final transformation of humankind and creation is multifaceted.

Metropolitan Hilarion reminded us in Chapter 2 that, “In Orthodox services the Gospel appears not just as a book for reading, but as an object of liturgical worship” (23). So join us to learn how this chapter serves as a foundation for understanding Volume III on the Orthodox Church’s architecture, art, icons and music because it shows us how God is “all in all” and how we can live the Orthodox mysteries and teachings.

Coming Up

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.

Great Lent will begin on Monday, March 11, and on Sunday, March 10, we will offer Forgiveness Vespers no later than 1pm. Forgiveness Vespers is one of the most important services of the year, and it’s the very best way to begin the Forty Day Fast: Following the usual Sunday morning services, and as soon as we can get the nave cleaned up after a shorter-than-usual Fellowship Hour, we then offer Sunday evening vespers, and, at the end of the service, we exchange words of forgiveness with everyone in the parish. That makes for a long day, but it also makes for a healthy parish community, so please plan on joining us for this time of healing and reconciliation.

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.

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).

Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy

If you wish to receive communion during the Divine Liturgy, please remember that you must arrive no later than the gospel reading. Children who arrive late may come forward and receive the gifts; adults who arrive later than the gospel lesson must wait until the following week.

I hope that you are making plans to invite some folks to join us for our next Open House Weekend on Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17. Please know that I’m praying for you as you go about that important work.

An unworthy priest,