e-epistle for 12 August 2011

e-Epistle for Friday, August 12, 2011

This week’s issue includes the Synaxari of this week’s services plus news summaries from our local and world-wide orthodox church such as, what the future of our orthodox church would look like; a story of the orthodox renewal center of St. Symeon the new Theologian at Destin, FL; Renewed Albanian attacks on Serbian churches in Kosovo; Patriarch Bartholomeos remarks on Turkey’s Moslem Ramazan concerning fasting; Gov. Perry’ Declaration of August 6th as a Day of Prayer ; A proposal of the Russian Orthodox Church to fight abortions by giving money to women willing to give birth to their babies; How the Orthodox Church of Greece plans to help Greece through it’s financial crisis ; East-West Catholic Dialogue in D.C.; The Manhattan Document where traditional views in key areas of life, marriage and religious liberty are being assaulted from all sides; Where exactly Jesus was Baptized in the Jordan River and a story about Jerusalem from the Jewish press; Finally we conclude with a commentary from our Bible Studies concerning the current financial crises chaired by Fr. George and Dr. Psychogios on Wednesday evenings. If you can’t get access to the full-story from the hyperlink to each story, copy and paste it to your browser and access it from there.

The Sunday schedule includes matins at 9:00 a.m. followed by the divine liturgy at 10 a.m. and a fellowship hour in adjacent Hellenic Hall. Prayer books are available at the pews in both English and Greek.

On Monday, Aug. 15, Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of the Falling Asleep, or Dormition of the Virgin Mary, one of the most significant holy days of the church. In preparation, our parishioners of St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church will fast and pray for the period leading up to holy day.

To read about the Dormition of the Theotokos, and what our Church has received from ancient times from the tradition of the Fathers click at:


To see icons of the falling-asleep of our Virgin Mary (if you are on facebook) click at:


To hear a byzantine hymn of our Virgin Mary composed by St. Nectarios click at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiK8wHm4JGM&NR=1

What our Orthodox Church of Tomorrow be like? — In 2008, Fr. John Peck penned the essay “The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow,” a bold and somewhat audacious prediction of the future of the American Orthodox Church in the next decade and beyond. Response was swift, ranging from praise to reproof to outright condemnation. Clearly Fr. John had struck a nerve. Three years later it’s worth taking a second look to see if Fr. Peck was correct. Some of his predictions were: Vastly diminished parishes, both in size and number; Publicly renowned Orthodox media and apologetic ministries; More (and younger) bishops…. To read the full-text of Fr. Peck’s predictions click at: http://www.aoiusa.org/2008/09/the-orthodox-church-of-tomorrow/

Russian Church condemns attacks on Serbian churches in Kosovo — The Russian Orthodox Church is deeply concerned about attacks of ethnic Albanian extremists on Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo, though Kosovo is controlled by international peacekeepers, the Voice of Russia reports Friday…. Full story at: http://www.emg.rs/en/news/serbia/161485.html

Meetings between the Orthodox Patriarchs — On July 26-28 the heads of the Georgian, Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches met in Kiev . The most important of these encounters, however, was the meeting between the Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II with the Russian Patriarch Kirill. Both sides had issues to be raised during the meeting. More at: http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/2412_august_3_2011/2412_edit.html

A Greek Orthodox charismatic? – A good story about Fr. Eusebius Stephanou Orthodox Renewal ministries ; http://www.thedestinlog.com/articles/orthodox-18759-robes-black.html

Chief rabbi, Greek Orthodox patriarch join mufti for Ramadan fast-breaking – The event was Tuesday night’s iftar dinner hosted by Istanbul ’s Galata Mevlevihanesi Museum . At sunset daily during the month of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate a day of total fasting — no food, no water, not even chewing gum or breath mints are allowed during the day – with a big meal. … Patriarch Bartholomeos said that fasting fulfills its true meaning when supported with other virtues such as following a decent path, being fair and just, avoiding from misconduct and envy, helping the needy, protecting the weak, and sharing happiness and love… Read more at http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2011/08/chief-rabbi-greek-orthodox-patriarch-join-mufti-for-ramadan-fast-breaking.php

Gov. Perry Declares August 6th a Day of Prayer — During his remarks, Perry read three portions of Scripture and asked for prayers for President Obama, the nation and the men and women who serve our country. Coming on the heels of Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, an emotional Perry focused his comments on the nation’s economy. More at: http://www.christianpost.com/news/perry-prays-for-obama-nation-at-the-response-53501/

Church proposes to forward abortion money to women willing to give birth to their babies — Member of the Expert Council of the Synodal Youth Department and senior lecturer at the bioethics department of Russian State Medical University Hieromonk Dimitry (Pershin) urged the government to apply abortion money to raise the birth rate. “A woman must be paid at least two thousand roubles a month beginning from the third week of her pregnancy. The money will be available, if the government cancels the “abortion rent”: today, taxpayers contribute their own money to pay for “free” abortions which cost us several billion a year,” Father Dimitry said in an interview run in an August issue of Krestovsky Most, an Orthodox newspaper. http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8630

Precious Orthodox relic from Mount Athos to come to Russia in autumn — One of the most precious Orthodox treasures, the Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God, will be brought to Russia for the first time ever… The miracle-working Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God is at the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos . Cloths that are placed upon the Belt are believed to have miraculous qualities. Many women who wore them received healing from various ailments. More at: http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8614

Orthodox Church in talks to help Greece through crisis — Greece ‘s Orthodox Church is in talks with the government about releasing some of its wealth to help the country through its massive debt crisis, the government and church officials said Wednesday. The Church was ready to contribute to help the country … More at: http://news.ph.msn.com/business/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5017740

East-West Catholic Dialogue in D.C. — Orientale Lumen conference tussles over the role of the papacy. Greek Orthodox bishop suggests a Ratzingerian solution. WASHINGTON — “Many Orthodox view all bishops as successors to Peter,” Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate said recently, “but most would concede that the bishop of Rome is a successor of Peter in a special way.” What exactly is that special way? Like others at the Orientale Lumen conference in Washington at which he spoke, Metropolitan Kallistos acknowledged that the papacy is entitled to primacy in some form, but he stopped far short in his willingness to grant it the kind of jurisdictional role the papacy enjoys in the Catholic Church. Of course, that’s nothing… Full story at: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/east-west-catholic-dialogue-in-d.c/#ixzz1RNx99glT

A document for preserving values — From the earliest years of the New Testament, Christians have attempted to summarize their formal beliefs in creeds and confessions. The Apostles Creed, for example, dates back to the middle of the second century. It serves as an abiding reminder of the central faith tenets of Christians. Following that same tradition, over 100 Christian leaders from many denominations met in Manhattan , N.Y. , in October 2009. Their goal was to seek common ground without minimizing their differences. The outcome of their meeting was a 4,700-word document called the “Manhattan Declaration” (MD). To read the full-text click at: http://www.hutchnews.com/Columns/schinstock-column7-6

Jordan, Israel argue over location of Jesus’ baptism — Church leaders in Jordan on Wednesday… denied an Israeli claim that Jesus was baptized on the west bank of River Jordan at what had come to be called the Judith Church, which was recently renamed “Baptism Church” by the Israelis. Full story at: http://www.nctimes.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/article_5ea2070f-3ff3-5d6c-860d-b913ac20ef47.html

Jerusalem: A city of history and holiness — It is divided among the oldest Christian sects, each with its own space and rituals: Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic, Ethiopian and Syrian Orthodox. Built by the Roman Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity … for the full story click at: http://www.cumberlink.com/news/religion/article_48021e9c-a7fd-11e0-a6e4-001cc4c03286.html

Bible Study on Contemporary Issues: The current Financial Crisis.

(Pro 22:7-8) The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.

Last month was the bailout of Greece , and this week we read in the news, more financial troubles on us and other European and Asian countries with a terrible impact on the worldwide financial system, where politicians try their best to postpone, but not cancel. Unfortunately, not only our elected politicians but also many folks who try to live beyond their financial means, are real fools as they try to transfer their heavy loans to the rest of us.

It is stupid if the basic wisdom has been forgotten of three lines of Shakespeare, worth volumes written by professional “economists”:– “Neither a borrower nor a lender be / For loan oft loses both itself and friend / And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” In other words a habit of borrowing accustoms one to not “husbanding” or looking after the resources one has. For instance, at least to begin with, money borrowed comes too easily, thus undermining the sense of money’s value and the sense of reality, for instance how hard money can be to earn or eventually to pay back. As for lending, says Polonius (Hamlet, I, 3), not only are loans often not paid back, but also if I have lent to a friend who cannot pay back, he can be too afraid or ashamed to come near me again.

However, not all lenders are stupid. A number of them are criminal, because they know that by lending money at usurious rates of interest they can reduce individuals, families and nations to poverty and slavery – “The borrower is servant” (or slave) “to him that lendeth” (Prov. XXII, 7). Certain credit cards are now paying between 20 and 30% rates of interest, yet our Church has always severely condemned usury. Usurers are criminals who destroy the fabric of society by impoverishing and enslaving their fellow men, or whole nations.

In modern times usury takes different forms and this is why the whole world should now be waking up to the fact that it has let itself be enslaved by the cunning money-men, who use their money to master the media and politicians in particular, and thus buy control of an entire society giving itself over to Mammon. The question then arises, how can God have allowed such a state of affairs to come about, and how can he now be meaning to allow the immense suffering that will come with the imminent financial crash and/or World War, both of which will have been engineered by his enemies to give them, as they hope, total world power ?

The answer is that he has granted such power to his enemies because their cruelty and inhumanity serve him as a scourge to be laid across the back of a world that has turned away from him, and has preferred to take Mammon for its master – you cannot serve both God and Mammon, says Jesus (Mt. VI, 24). And God will allow a great deal more suffering in the near future, because “In suffering is learning” (Aeschylus), and in fact only heavy suffering will today be enough to enable any significant number of souls worldwide to learn that their materialism and worship of Mammon are treacherous enemies of their one true interest, the salvation of their eternal souls. Mother of God, obtain mercy for us poor sinners ! Kyrie eleison.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- “On holy and blessed prayer”

40. What is obtained by frequent and prolonged prayer is lasting.

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