Week of July 22

Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the Name of the Lord.

This coming Sunday, Jeffrey and  Caryn Macdonald will be with us during the Divine Services and            Jeffrey has been teaching at an Orthodox seminary in Albania. Many folks in our community keep up with them—and, of course, we pray for the Macdonalds at each Divine Liturgy—but, if you’ve never met them, then this will be a great time to learn about the work they are doing for the Church in Albania.

Our Calendar

Fasting Days

Wednesday, July 24, and Friday, July 26

Daily Services

Monday, July 22-Friday, July 26

  • Orthros 5am

  • Vespers 5pm

(But there will not be any daily vespers on Thursday, July 25. Also, also 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.)

Tuesday, July 22

  • Parish Council  Meeting 7pm
    Everyone is welcome to attend and listen in, but if you wish to speak/address the council, please contact our president, Chris Lewis, ahead of time

 Thursday, July 25

  • Choir Practice 7pm

Saturday, July 27

  • St Thomas School 4pm
    Father Deacon Michael Coleman will lead the discussion on Chapter 3 (pgs 101-129) on the Divine Liturgy

  • Great Vespers 6pm

Sunday, July 28

6th Sunday of St Matthew

  • Orthros 8am

  • Divine Liturgy 10am

  • Fellowship Hour Noon
    Catch up with the Macdonalds and learn about their work in Albania

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

This week the Long Hall will be cleaned by Team Tomato: Will Hampton, Hazem Zawaideh, and Elena Cabeza de Vaca; be sure and ask them how you can help out

This Week at St. Thomas School

Chapter 3: The Divine Liturgy 

Join us all, both laity and clergy, to participate in an ancient practice of the Church, catechetical instruction given specifically by our very own parishioners at 4:00 p.m., and come to see Vespers at 5:30. 

This chapter will end Part Two. There will be a handful of catechetical presenters in order: Dn. Michael Coleman, Rebekah Galloway, Michael Ruse, John Bell, Polly Thurston, and Seth Hart. We will break down the in-depth content of this chapter page by page. The first group of pages goes from pp.101-129. The major sections include: the Divine Liturgy (its order, form, and meaning), the Proskomedia or Offering and the Prosphora, the Beginning of the Liturgy of the Catechumens, the Little Entrance and the Thrice-Holy Hymn (the “hierarchical liturgy” is explained), and the Liturgy of the Word

The content and layout is incredibly useful for unchurched, catechumens, serious inquirers, as well as Orthodox Christians who grew up in the Church because it reliably outlines with the essential and sanctifying details of the different parts of the liturgy that will be sure to help guide our encounter with Christ in a fuller way at the divine liturgy. 

We will be able to recognize the essential prayers and what they signify, the roles of each participant (priest/bishop, deacon, the people/choir), and some symbolic understanding of what is happening, whether noticed or unnoticed. Metropolitan Hilarion mentions the danger of the liturgy becoming symbolic-reductionism or a dramatic reenactment. Although symbolism is important for understanding some aspects of the divine liturgy, it should recede as we focus more on the reality of the kingdom of heaven and peaceful prayer to God, the Father and Christ, our true celebrant of every divine liturgy. Several particular themes that stand out in relation to the Orthodox divine liturgy are: 1) the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this earth 2) remembering who we should remember, Christ and His life 3) peace because the word “peace” occurs in the liturgy many times, and St. John Chrysostom calls peace itself, “the mother of all good things.” 

An Opportunity to Offer The Jesus Prayer

Way back on the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, we announced that we would be putting together a sign-up calendar that will allow the women of our community to offer the Jesus Prayer at weekday vespers. Of course, we already do that on the second Saturday of each month at Great Vespers, but this will provide a lot more opportunities to participate in that offering. Polly Thurston has put together the calendar, and this is the link: https://signup.com/go/hxYQTdk. You’ll notice that not all week days are represented on the calendar; that’s because we don’t offer the Jesus Prayer at vespers during festal or fasting seasons. But all you have to do is pick a day that is available, bring your prayer rope, and show up and share in the silence by offering one hundred recitations of the Jesus Prayer following the Prayer at the Bowing of the Heads. We hope that many of you will take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Financial Update

We ended June with a deficit of $6,200, so that puts the surplus on the year at $3,000. Our expenses are right on budget, but, like most parishes, we typically post at least a couple of deficit months during the summer; part of that has to do with a couple of large annual bills that always come due during June and July; part of that has to do with the fact that folks aren’t at the services as often.

But the fall is a whole lot nicer if we’re not having to play catch-up, so let’s do what we can to maintain our giving through-out the summer months. Please watch out for your second quarter statement which should arrive via email this coming week. Check to make certain that you’re current on your commitment to the parish (Nick Crown can answer any questions you might have), and, if you are, please consider giving a little more to assist those folks who aren’t able to give as much as they anticipated.

Coming Up

The Dormition Fast begins on Thursday, August 1, and it will run through Wednesday, August 14. During this Fast we observe the traditional fasting discipline Monday through Friday, with a blessing for fish, wine and olive oil on Saturdays and Sundays. The Paraklesis to the Most Holy Theotokos is served each  week day evening during this Fast; that means there will be eight opportunities for us to participate in this beautiful service. The season winds up with the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on Thursday, August 15. We will offer Great Vespers with the Lamentations for the Mother of God on Wednesday, August 14, at 7pm, and then, on Thursday, we will serve Orthros at 5am and Divine Liturgy at 7am.

On Tuesday, August 6, the folks at our sister parish in Westlake, Transfiguration Greek Orthodox, will celebrate their feast day. Orthros will be served at 9am, and Divine Liturgy will be offered at 10am.

The book that we will be using for the Fall Theological Seminar is now available. It’s called The 21: A Journey into the Land of the Coptic Martyrs. It’s an international best-seller by a German journalist named Martin Mosbach, and it’s about the 21 Egyptians who were martyred in Libya in 2015 by Islamic State terrorists. The book is a nice, easy to read hardback, and it’s only $15.00 at Christ the Lightgiver Bookstore; if you purchase it on Amazon, you’ll pay over $17.00! So get your copy this week, start reading through it, and plan on joining us for the Fall Theological Seminar which will begin on Wednesday, September 11.

Our Moment of Grace and Courtesy

An important aspect of our stewardship is keeping our property looking as nice as possible. Parents and grandparents and godparents have a big role to play in that effort. For example, landscaping features often attract children, and we certainly want our children to enjoy their time at the parish, but when children play with the gravel and mulch and stones that are part of our landscaping, those children should also be taught the good stewardship of restoring those materials to their original appearance.

I’m looking forward to offering the Jesus Prayer at Daily Vespers with all the women of our parish.

An unworthy priest,