1 GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE ANNUNCIATION YORK, PENNSYLVANIA THE LADDER APRIL 2015 MARY OF EGYPT APRIL 1ST & 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT When Mary was only twelve years old, she left her parents and departed to Alexandria, where she lived a depraved life for seventeen years. Then, moved by curiosity, she went with many pilgrims to Jerusalem, that she might see the Exaltation of the venerable Cross. Even in the Holy City she gave herself over to every kind of licentiousness and drew many into the depth of perdition. Desiring to go into the church on the day of the Exaltation of the Cross, time and again she perceived a certain invisible power preventing her entrance, whereas the multitude of people about her entered St. Mary of Egypt April 1st unhindered. Therefore, wounded in heart by this, she decided to change her way of life and reconcile herself to God by means of repentance. Invoking our Lady the Theotokos as her protectress, she asked her to open the way for her to worship the Cross, and vowed that she would renounce the world. And thus, returning once again to the church, she entered easily. When she had worshipped the precious Wood, she departed that same day from Jerusalem and passed over the Jordan. She went into the inner wilderness and for forty-seven years lived a most harsh manner of life, surpassing human strength; alone, she prayed to God alone. Toward the end of her life, she met a certain hermit named Zosimas, and she related to him her life from the beginning. She requested of him to bring her the immaculate Mysteries that she might partake of them. According to her request, he did this the following year on Holy and Great Thursday. One year after this, Zosimas again went thither and found her dead, laid upon the ground, and letters written in the sand near her which said: "Abba Zosimas, bury here the body of wretched Mary. I died on the very day I partook of the immaculate Mysteries. Pray for me." Her death is reckoned by some to have taken place in 378, by some, in 437, and by others, in 522. She is commemorated also on the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent. Her life was recorded by Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem. INSIDE THIS ISSUE: FROM THE DESK OF FR. ANDREW STEWARDSHIP UPDATE 3 21 PARISH COUNCIL 4, 22 PHILOPTOCHOS 4 YOUTH GROUPS 5 THE VOICE OF OUR FAITH CALENDAR Η Κλιμαξ 16 FOOD FESTIVAL 8-9 SPONSORS 23 Apolytikion of Mary of Egypt in the Plagial of the Fourth Tone The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Mother. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Mary, your soul rejoices with the angels.
2 GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE ANNUNCIATION 2500 Pine Grove Road, York, Pennsylvania Phone: Fax: Website: agocy.org Office Hours: Monday Friday, 9:00 AM 2:00 PM THE LADDER Monthly newsletter of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Submissions for consideration are due on the 10th of each month. Clergy Rev. Fr. Andrew N. Tsikitas, Parish Priest Rev. Deacon Robert Kuchta Parish Council Alex Daoularis President Nicholas Agapis Vice President Vicki Karandrikas Secretary Lola Lamnatos Treasurer Michael Hiras Eleftherios Hristofas George Karanicolas Dr. George Lapes Thomas Livaditis Chriss Papayannis Maria V. Skouras Church Staff Chantors Nick Karageorge Tom Rontiris Office Administrator.....Diane Shillott Custodian......Jason Beard Organist... Alissa Nicoara The Ladder Chriss Papayannis Sunday Bulletin....Fr. Andrew Tsikitas Schedule of Worship Hours Sunday Service 8:45 am Orthros 10:00 am Divine Liturgy Sunday Church School Begins immediately after Holy Communion. Weekday Services Saturday Vespers 6:00 pm Orthros/Divine Liturgy 9:00 am Schedule of Church Events Weekly Bible Study: Tuesday, 6:30 8:00 pm Pastoral Visitations: As needed or by request Home & Business Blessings: By request Contacts Choir Director.....Dr. George Lapes Choir Director, Emeritus...Dr. P Kirk Pandelidis Food Festival Committee...Tom Livaditis GOYA Coordinator Kathy Rodas GOYA Athletics Director....Chriss Papayannis Teacher Eleni Veron HOPE & JOY Coordinator...Kate Giovanis HOPE & JOY Advisor...Athena Kostarellos Oratorical Festival Coordinator...Chris Giovanis Philoptochos....Pauline Rosario Sunday School Coordinator..Kyriaka Tsoflias
3 APRIL 2015 PAGE 3 FR. ANDREW TSIKITAS MESSAGE From the Desk of Fr. Andrew My beloved brothers & sisters in Christ, We are almost at the end of our Lenten journey, and the anticipation of the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is building. Spring is here, and after a long and hard winter, we see the evidence of nature s resurrection also all around us. The snow has finally melted, the grass is starting to grow, flowers and buds are starting to make their appearance, and the temperature is slowly rising. This is truly a remarkable time of year, filled with promise and hope for the future at least, that is what is reflected in nature. What do our lives reflect? Is the celebration of our Lord s resurrection form the dead something that comes and goes, like July 4 th, or Thanksgiving, or is it something that resides in our hearts, that transforms us? Is it something that we just remember and celebrate once a year, or is it something that lives in our hearts always, and carries us through from year to year? Does the single most important event in human history have any impact on us, or is it just another bold date on a calendar? Like everything else about our faith, if we do not apply it to every aspect of our existence, if it is not something that identifies us, and that we identify with, then even this can become another empty, meaningless observance, a superficial remembrance of something that happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (Pardon the gratuitous Star Wars reference, I couldn t resist.) How can we make our faith real? How can we make it be more than just something we do to occupy a couple of hours on a Sunday morning (if it is even that for us)? We are all unique individuals, with our unique gifts and talents, but some things are the same across the board for all of us to apply, so that we can all grow in Christ. We can all pray more, we can all read the Holy Scriptures more, attend services more regularly, be on time and be attentive when we are there (remember, the Liturgy is the work of the people, not a play or movie we watch). We can all make an effort to be more generous in our giving, both to the church and to other philanthropic entities. We can fast to the best of our abilities (honestly), participate more regularly in the Sacramental life of the church, and expand our knowledge of the faith (we are all perpetual students). In the final analysis, being an Orthodox Christian is a full contact, not a spectator sport. Being an Orthodox Christian demands active participation, not just a skin -deep identification with the group. Orthodox Christian is a verb, not an adjective. It requires action, not just a description. It is my wish that we can all live our Orthodox Christian identities more fully in the weeks, months, and years to come. Andrew
4 PAGE 4 PARISH COUNCIL ANNOUNCEMENTS THE LADDER SPRING GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Sunday, April 19 Immediately following church service Discussion will include a Building Committee report on the expansion of the church campus. The Parish Council has scheduled this meeting for all members. Please mark your calendar. We need you to vote for the future of our church. WEBSITE UPDATED: agocy.org (Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church York) Please visit our church s update website agocy.org. Coming soon you will be able to make stewardship contributions, memorial contributions and any donations you wish through our new PAY PAL account. LANDSCAPING PARTY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: call Michael Hiras All interested, we are planning a Saturday morning to clean up the church grounds, mulch and do general landscaping work. Lunch will be served. Please bring your own rakes. Call Michael Hiras today for details PHILOPTOCHOS NEWS UPCOMING EVENTS April 4th Lazarus Saturday Volunteers Needed: OFFICERS Pauline Rosario, President Mary Henry, Vice-President Lazarus Saturday, April 4 th 2015 following the Saturday morning Liturgy, we will be making the Palm Crosses for Palm Sunday. Volunteers are needed. A light Lenten Luncheon will be provided following the making of the crosses. Vasiliki Agapis, Treasurer Sue Anstine, Secretary
5 PAGE 5 YOUTH NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS GOYA LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT... THE LADDER OFFICERS Marta Tsikitas, President Magdalini Drivas, Vice-President Luke Tsoflias, Treasurer Marianna Rodas & Sam Rodas, Secretaries Reflecting back on my experiences as a fellow GOYAn, I would say GOYA is like my spiritual family. Its amazing how connected I feel with my friends. Maybe its because we are Orthodox Christians and we strive to reach a similar goal. A goal to be better people and to join our Lord in paradise. Not only is GOYA a great way to connect with our brothers and sisters, but it is a great way to give back to the community. I remember UPCOMING EVENTS April 4: April 5: April 10: April 25-26: LAZARUS SATURDAY - GOYANs clean church & make palms LOUKOUMADES SALE HOLY FRIDAY going to the soup kitchen and realizing that I am blessed with all the things I have. However, materials should not be important. What's important is who we choose to be. People who lend a hand to those in need or people who walk away from those who need us. GOYA has taught me to be a better person and to be one with my friends as we climb the ladder towards paradise. Marta Tsikitas - Decorate church for the Anastasi Help with the Retreat Wrap Easter Eggs St Demetrios basketball tournament, Baltimore, MD Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. HOPE/JOY T he mission of HOPE and JOY is to strengthen the relationship of young Orthodox Christians with our Lord Jesus Christ. These programs work to educate and edify young members of the Church, encouraging them to become active sacramental participants in the life of the Body of Christ, the Church. These ministries offer them the opportunity to experience the Faith, ultimately leading them to Salvation. HOPE (Holy Orthodox Primary Education) HOPE ministers to Kindergarten through the 2nd Grade children. UPCOMING EVENTS JOY (Junior Orthodox Youth) JOY ministers to 3rd through 6th Grade children. The scope of these ministries is to incorporate the 4 principles of Worship, Witness, Service and Fellowship into the hearts of our children, so that they can use these tools as adults as well. We invite all children, and their parents as well, to become participants in these vital ministries of the Church. April 10: Holy Friday Retreat April 11(Holy Saturday): Pascha Egg Hunt More information will be posted on Fr. Andrew s office door. May 3: HOPE/JOY Craft Night 5-7pm Please RSVP to Kate Giovanis ) or sign up on Father Andrew's door so we can have enough craft supplies.
6 Glory instead of ashes Isaiah 61:3 The Saint Nicholas National Shrine Benefit Concert Sponsored by St. Xenia Philoptochos Society April 26, 2015, 3:00 pm featuring Maria Asteriadou, pianist Kurt Nikkanen, violinist $25 per person, $15 students under 18 Miller Center for the Arts, Reading, PA For tickets call or visit For more information about the cause or the concert, contact Des Denne ( ), Ann Kraras ( ),
7 APRIL 2015 PAGE 7 GOYA YOUTH PICTURES RESCUE MISSION VOLUNTEERS 3/15 YORK SUBURBAN MINI-THON 2/15 EASTER CARD 3/15 GOYANS from York Suburban High School helped raise over $45,000 for Four Diamonds, which helps children with cancer and their families, by staying awake and standing for over 24 hours. GOYA HOSTS COFFEE HOUR 2/15 GOYA MEETING 3/15
8 APRIL 2015 PAGE 8 FOOD FESTIVAL FEBRUARY 2015
9 APRIL 2015 P AGE 9 FOOD FESTIVAL FEBRUARY 2015
10 PAGE 10 THE LADDER JESUS, THE BREAD OF LIFE The Jews asked Jesus for a sign, saying, THE VOICE OF OUR FAITH DOES IT MATTER IF I MISS CHURCH? PT. 2 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him, Lord, give us this bread always. And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst... I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.... Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (John 6:31-35,48-51,53-57, italics added) The early Christians understood their relationship with their Lord Jesus Christ to be fulfilled at the Eucharistic Supper each week. This meeting with the Lord, which began on the Sabbath (Saturday evening), was fulfilled on Sunday, the first day of the week. This is the day the Church calls the eighth day, meaning the eternal day which transcends time. The worshipers left this world to enter the other world. They ascended in the spirit to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, together with the angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, and all the saints, so that they might descend back into this poor fallen creation as lights in this dark world. God only knows how many were martyred because they refused to stop assembling at the holy altar in the catacombs. In A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered the destruction of Christian places of worship throughout his empire and forbade any kind of Christian assembly. In fact, Diocletian was The early Christians understood their relationship with their Lord Jesus Christ to be fulfilled at the Eucharistic Supper each week.
11 APRIL 2015 PAGE 11 MISS CHURCH? From previous page, through pg 12 convinced, after ruling the Empire for nineteen years, that an extermination of Christians was the only way to restore internal order and pagan religious rites. During this time churches in Abilinitina, North Africa, continued to gather for worship, which resulted in the arrest of the entire church. The Roman officials asked the Christians, Why did you do this? And the Christians responded: Without the Sunday Eucharist we do not exist. Consequently, the entire congregation was given to martyrdom. Ironically, while the early Christians risked their very lives to assemble each week to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins, many Orthodox Christians today stay away from the Holy Eucharist because of their sins! Many receive the Body and Blood of the Lord only two or three times a year, believing themselves unworthy to partake more frequently. Some believe they cannot receive the Holy Eucharist weekly without weekly confession. While I will admit this teaching requires more preparation of the communicant, I do not believe it is ever a legitimate excuse for not partaking frequently. Confession is essential to the life of each Orthodox Christian. However, it is Christ, not confession, that makes us worthy to receive His Holy Body and Blood as we trust in Him. We are never completely without sin. Therefore, when we receive the Holy Eucharist, the priest says, The servant of God (your name) partakes of the precious and all-holy Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and for life everlasting. It is Christ s forgiveness towards us that makes us worthy. Therefore, we are not to stay away from the Holy Eucharist unless a priest tells us we need to. In other words, we do not excommunicate ourselves. This is something the Church does! So, if you believe you should not be receiving Communion, you should talk to a priest and receive his blessing to abstain. This will remove all subjectivity and false guilt if abstention is not required; or you may be placed under a discipline by the Church to abstain for proper reasons. None of us is sinless but we can sin less if we are receiving the grace of the Holy Sacraments, wherein our souls are nourished with the divine energies of Christ. COME TO THE FEAST! I have focused here on the most important reason for coming to church to partake of Christ in the Eucharist. But that is not the only reason. If you stay away from church, you are depriving yourself of the fellowship of other believers a very powerful encouragement in living the Christian life. Have you ever noticed how quickly a single coal dies out when it is removed from a bed of coals in the fireplace? So it is spiritually with the member who removes himself from the assembly of the Church. The fact is, Christians can only keep a saving faith alive through having consistent fellowship with other believers. If you miss church you also miss out on hearing the Scriptures read and interpreted in the hymnography of the Church and in the homilies. The entire doctrine of the Orthodox Faith is contained within her services, in one form or another; if you do not attend, how will you know what the Church believes? Reading on your own, of either Scriptures or theological works, is good, but it is no substitute for hearing the Truth proclaimed in the assembly. In addition, if you have children, you are sinfully neglecting a vitally important opportunity to set them
12 PAGE 12 THE LADDER an example of a truly pious life. Statistics have proven that children raised in homes where one or both parents attend church only sporadically are far more likely to be sporadic in church attendance when they become adults if they go to church at all. Even if you send your children to church without you, they will learn that church is not really important. If it were important, their parents would be there! Another point needs to be made here. If you are convinced that you need to come to church and partake of the Eucharist, do not give in to the temptation to come in late, take Communion, and leave immediately afterwards. This shows just as much disrespect for Christ and His Holy Mysteries as does not coming at all maybe even more. Imagine you are invited to a dinner party at a friend s home. Do you come in an hour late, just as everyone is sitting down, bolt down your meal, and rush off as soon as you are finished? Of course not! That would be unbelievably rude. To treat the Body and Blood of Christ this way is worse than rude it is failing to discern the Lord s Body. And according to Saint Paul, he who does this eats and drinks judgment to himself (1 Corinthians 12:29). The only way the life of the Church can truly become the path of salvation is for each of us to truly commit ourselves to get involved with our whole heart, mind, and soul. To be nominal, that is, to be a Christian in name only, is not only a great hypocrisy but an endangerment to our eternal soul. The Holy Scriptures record the angel writing to the Church at Laodicea saying, I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot... So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:15,16). I believe we can understand what this means having drunk at some time some lukewarm milk or soda pop. The faith only comes alive to the faithful, because God rewards those who seek after Him. So what do you do if you are one of those who have neglected or refused the Lord s invitation to dine with Him each Lord s Day, in His Kingdom? First, go to confession with an Orthodox priest, and repent. To repent means simply to turn around and go in a different direction. It may be turning from the love of the world to the love of God; from putting temporal things first to putting eternal things first. Whatever it may be that is taking you away from Christ and His Church you must turn from that to God. I have discovered that many Orthodox Christians were never taught properly they were never fully catechized. Therefore, the riches and deep meaning of the faith were never opened to them. Christians must know what they believe or they will not be able to survive and live for God. It is imperative that we all are catechized, no matter how old we are. It is never too late while we still have breath. Ask an Orthodox priest to teach you, or write to Conciliar Press for a list of materials to help you discover the Faith. It is not good enough to be born into an Orthodox home or nation. One does not automatically become a Christian by growing up in an Orthodox family or country, any more than a motorcycle can become a car by being parked in an automobile garage. You live the Christian life by personally committing yourself to Christ and His Church. You must dedicate yourself to the reality of your baptism, to the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Lord, and to walk in His life and commandments to be loyal to Christ with your entire life! That is the kind of dedication He seeks from His servants and the kind that will draw others to Christ and His Holy Church.
13 APRIL 2015 PAGE 13 ST. BASIL ON FASTING Taken from his 1st Homily on Fasting Do not, however, define the benefit that comes from fasting solely in terms of abstinence from foods. For true fasting consists in estrangement from vices. Loose every burden of iniquity. Forgive your neighbor the distress he causes you; forgive him his debts. Fast not for quarrels and strifes. You do not eat meat, but you devour your brother. You abstain from wine, but do not restrain yourself from insulting others. You wait until evening to eat, but waste your day in law courts. Woe to those who get drunk, but not from wine. Anger is inebriation of the soul, making it deranged, just as wine does. Grief is also a form of intoxication, one that submerges the intellect. Fear is another kind of drunkenness, when we have phobias regarding inappropriate objects; for Scripture says: Rescue my soul from fear of the enemy. And in general, every passion which causes mental derangement may justly be called drunkenness. Pray consider a man smitten with anger, how he is inebriated by this passion. He is not in control of himself, he does not know who he is, nor does he know those around him. He attacks everyone and collides with everyone just as in a night-battle; he speaks recklessly, cannot restrain himself, rails, pounds his fists, utters threats, swears, shouts, and becomes apoplectic. Avoid such inebriation as this, and do not accept the inebriation that comes from wine. Do not precede the season in which you drink only water by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. Let not drunkenness initiate you into the fast. For neither through greed do you attain to righteousness, nor through wantonness to temperance, nor, in short, through vice to virtue. The door to fasting is a different one. Inebriation leads to wantonness, frugality to fasting. An athlete trains before a contest; a faster practices abstinence before a fast. Do not indulge in drunkenness before the five days as if taking revenge for the days of fasting or attempting to outwit the Lawgiver. For you toil in vain if you afflict your body, but do not receive consolation for your privation. The receptacle is unreliable, you are drawing water with a perforated jar. For wine flows through your body, coursing along its own path, but sin remains in you. A servant runs away from a master who beats him; but you cleave to wine, which beats your head every day? Bodily need is the best criterion for the use of wine. If you exceed your limits, on the following day you will have headaches, you will be listless and dizzy, and you will reek of putrid wine. Everything will seem to you to be spinning around and unstable. For drunkenness not only brings on sleep, the brother of death, but also a wakefulness that resembles dreams.
14 PAGE 14 THE LADDER APRIL 2015 Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat 1 K&1 grade; 4:30-6 4&5 grade; Pre-Sanctified 6:30 pm 2 2&3 grade; 4: & high school; 3 OFFICE CLOSED 4 Saturday of Lazarus Orth./Div. Lit. 9 am Great Vespers 6:00 pm 5 Palm Sunday 8:30 am Orthros 10:00 am Div. Lit. Bridegroom Svc. 7:00 pm 6 Holy Monday Bridegroom Svc. 7:00 pm OFFICE CLOSED 7 Holy Tuesday Bridegroom Svc. 7:00 pm 8 Holy Wednesday Holy Unction 4:00 pm Bridegroom Svc. 7:00 pm 9 Holy Thursday Vesp. Liturgy 9:00 am Passion Service 7:00 pm 10 Holy Friday 8:30 am Royal Hours Apokathylosis 3:00 pm Lamentations 7:00 pm 11 Holy Saturday Vesp. Liturgy 9 am Resurrection Services Canon 11:00 pm Div. Lit. Midnight 12 Great and Holy Sunday of Pascha Agape Vespers 11:00 am 13 K&1 grade; 4:30-6 4&5 grade; 14 Parish Council 7:00 pm 2&3 grade; 4:30-6 6&high school; 15 K&1 grade; 4:30-6 4&5 grade; 16 2&3 grade; 4:30-6 6&high school; 17 The Life- Giving Fountain Orth./Div. Lit. 9 am Sunday of Thomas 8:45 am Orthros 10:00 am Div. Lit. 20 K&1 grade; 4:30-6 4&5 grade; 21 2&3 grade; 4:30-6 6&high school; 22 K&1 grade; 4:30-6 4&5 grade; 23 St. George Orth./Div. Lit. 9 am 2&3 grade; 4:30-6 6&high school; Sunday of the Myrrh Bearers 8:45 am Orthros 10:00 am Div. Lit. 27 K&1 grade; 4:30-6 4&5 grade; 28 2&3 grade; 4:30-6 6&high school; 29 K&1 grade; 4:30-6 4&5 grade; 30 2&3 grade; 4:30-6 6&high school;
16 PAGE 16 THE LADDER Η Κλίμαξ... Απο το Γραφείο του Πρ. Ανδρέα... Είμαστε σχεδόν στο τέλος της πορείας της Μεγάλης Τεσσαρακοστής, καθώς και ο ενθουσιασαμός του εορτασμού της Ανάστασης του Κυρίου μας Ιησού Χριστού εντείνεται. Η άνοιξη είναι εδώ, και μετά από ένα μακρύ και σκληρό χειμώνα, βλέπουμε την απόδειξη της ανάστασης της φύσης γύρω μας. Το χιόνι έχει λιώσει τελικά, το γρασίδι έχει αρχίσει να μεγαλώνει, τα άνθη και τα μπουμπούκια αρχίζουν να κάνουν την εμφάνισή τους, και η θερμοκρασία σιγά-σιγά αυξάνεται. Αυτό είναι πραγματικά ένα αξιοσημείωτο εποχή του χρόνου, το οποίο συμπληρώνεται με την υπόσχεση και την ελπίδα για το μέλλον... τουλάχιστον, αυτό είναι που αντανακλάται στη φύση. Τι αντανακλούν η ζωές μας; Είναι η γιορτή του Πάσχα κάτι που έρχεται και φεύγει, όπως η 4ης Ιουλίου ή την Ημέρα των Ευχαριστιών, ή είναι κάτι που βρίσκεται στις καρδιές μας, που μας μεταμορφώνει; Είναι κάτι το οποίο απλά να θυμόμαστε να γιορτάσουμε μία φορά το χρόνο, ή είναι κάτι που ζει στις καρδιές μας πάντα, και μας συντηρεί από έτος σε έτος; Έχει καμία επίδραση το πιο σημαντικό γεγονός στην ανθρώπινη ιστορία στην μας, ή είναι απλώς μία άλλη ημερομηνία σε ένα ημερολόγιο; Όπως και οτιδήποτε άλλο για την πίστη μας, αν εμείς δεν την εφαρμόζουμε σε κάθε πτυχή της ύπαρξής μας, αν δεν είναι κάτι που μας χαρακτηρίζει, και με το οποίο ταυτιζόμαστε, τότε ακόμα και αυτό μπορεί να γίνει άλλη μία άδεια τήρηση, χωρίς νόημα, μια επιφανειακή ανάμνηση για κάτι που συνέβη πριν από πολλά χρόνια, σε μία μακρινή χώρα. Πώς μπορούμε να κάνουμε την πίστη μας πραγματική; Πώς μπορούμε να την κάνουμε να είναι κάτι περισσότερο από κάτι που μας απασχολεί για μερικές ώρες την Κυριακή το πρωί (αν είναι και αυτό για εμάς); Είμαστε όλοι μοναδικά άτομα, με μοναδικά χαρίσματα και ταλέντα, αλλά μερικά πράγματα είναι τα ίδια για όλους μας να εφαρμόσουμε, έτσι ώστε να μπορούμε όλοι να αναπτυχθούμε στην σχέσει μας με τον Χριστό. Μπορούμε όλοι να προσευχόμαστε περισσότερο, μπορούμε όλοι να διαβάζουμε την Αγία Γραφή περισσότερο, να εκλησιαζόμαστε πιο τακτικά, να ερχόμαστε στην ώρα τους και να συμμετέχουμε στης τελετές (να θυμηθείτε, η Λειτουργία είναι το «έργο του λαού», όχι μία θεατρική παράσταση ή ταινία που βλέπουμε). Μπορούμε όλοι να κάνουμε μια προσπάθεια να είμαστε πιο γενναιόδωροι στην προσφορά μας, τόσο στην εκκλησία και σε άλλους φιλανθρωπικούς φορείς. Μπορούμε να νηστεύουμε στο καλύτερο των δυνατοτήτων μας (ειλικρινά), να συμμετέχουμε πιο τακτικά στα Άγια Μυστήρια της εκκλησίας, και να επεκτείνουν τις γνώσεις μας για την πίστη (είμαστε όλοι αέναη φοιτητές). Σε τελική ανάλυση, την ιδιότητα του Ορθόδοξου Χριστιανού είναι άθλημα «πλήρης επαφής,» δεν είναι για τους θεατές. Το να είσαι Ορθόδοξος Χριστιανός απαιτεί την ενεργό συμμετοχή, όχι απλώς επιφαννειακόις ταυτισμός με την ομάδα. «Ορθόδοξος Χριστιανός» είναι ένα ρήμα, όχι ένα επίθετο. Απαιτεί δράση, όχι μόνο μια περιγραφή. Αυτή είναι η ευχή μου ότι μπορούμε όλοι να ζήσουμε την Ορθόδοξη Χριστιανική ταυτότητά μας πληρέστερα στις εβδομάδες, μήνες και χρόνια που έρχονται. Ανδρέας
17 APRIL 2015 PAGE 17 Η Οσία Μαρία η Αιγύπτια 1 Απριλίου "Ου γαρ ήλθον καλέσαι δικαιους, αλλά αμαρτωλούς εις μετάνοιαν." Δεν ήλθα να καλέσω αυτούς πού νομίζουν τους εαυτούς τους δικαίους, αλλά ήλθα να καλέσω τους αμαρτωλούς, για να μετανοήσουν και να σωθούν. Ο λόγος αυτός του Κυρίου μας βρίσκει πλήρη εφαρμογή στη ζωή της Μαρίας της Αιγύπτιας, και να γιατί: η όσία Μαρία γεννήθηκε στην Αίγυπτο το 345. Από νωρίς αναπτύχθηκε η ωραιότητα του σώματος της, και παρά τις συμβουλές γονέων και Ιερέων, έπεσε στη διαφθορά της αμαρτωλής ζωής για 17 ολόκληρα χρόνια. Όμως, ο πολυεύσπλαγχνος Κύριος Όχι μόνο την ανέχθηκε όλα αυτά τα χρόνια της ασωτίας της, αλλά ενήργησε και το σχέδιο της σωτηρίας της. Οδήγησε τα βήματα της στους Άγιους Τόπους. Ή Μαρία προσπάθησε να μπει στην Εκκλησία, να προσκυνήσει τον Τίμιο Σταυρό. Μάταια, όμως. Είχε "καρφωθεί" στην είσοδο και δεν μπορούσε να κάνει βήμα μπροστά. Ή αλλαγή στα βάθη της ψυχής της ήδη είχε αρχίσει. Παρακάλεσε την Παναγία να της επιτρέψει να μπει να προσκυνήσει και η ζωή της από 'κει και εμπρός θα ήταν σύμφωνα με το θέλημα του Υιού της. Έτσι και έγινε. Ή Μαρία με πόνο ψυχής και δάκρυα στα μάτια μπήκε και προσκύνησε τον Τίμιο Σταυρό. Έπειτα, με θεία νεύση πήγε στην έρημο του Ιορδάνη, όπου εξομολογήθηκε, κοινώνησε το Σώμα του Κυρίου από τον ασκητή Ζωσιμά (4 Απριλίου) και ασκήτεψε εκεί 50 ολόκληρα χρόνια, με αυστηρή νηστεία και προσευχή. Έκαψε, έτσι, το αμαρτωλό παρελθόν της και συγχρόνως έγινε μεγάλο παράδειγμα μετανοίας. Μετά την συνάντηση πού είχε με τον ασκητή Ζωσιμά και υστέρα από ένα χρόνο, ο ίδιος ασκητής επανήλθε για να τη συναντήσει. Άλλα τη βρήκε πεθαμένη και την έθαψε εκεί, στα μέρη πού ασκήτευσε η Αγία. Απολυτίκιο. Ήχος πλ. α'. Φωτισθείσα ένθέως Σταυρού τη χάριτι, της μετανοίας έδείχθης φωτοφανής λαμπηδών, των παθών τον σκοτασμόν λιπούσα πάνσεμνε όθεν ως άγγελος Θεού, Ζωσιμά τω ίερώ, ώράθης εν τη έρήμω, Μαρία "Οσιε Μήτερ* μεθ' ου δυσώπει υπέρ πάντων ημών. Ο Εκκλησιασμός Αγ. Ιωάννου Χρυσοστόμου (Μέρος Β ) Η Προέλευσή μας στο Ναό Σᾶς παρακαλῶ, λοιπόν, καί σᾶς ἱκετεύω, ἄς προτιμᾶμε ἀπό ὁποιαδήποτε ἄλλη ἀσχολία καί φροντίδα τόν ἐκκλησιασμό. Ἄς τρέχουμε πρόθυμα, ὅπου κι ἄν βρισκόμαστε, στήν ἐκκλησία. Προσέξτε, ὅμως, κανείς νά μήν μπεῖ στόν ἱερό αὐτό χῶρο, ἔχοντας βιοτικές φροντίδες ἤ περισπασμούς ἤ φόβους. Ἀλλά ἀφοῦ τ ἀφήσουμε ὅλα τοῦτα ἔξω, στίς πύλες τοῦ ναοῦ, τότε ἄς περάσουμε μέσα. Γιατί ἐρχόμαστε στά ἀνάκτορα τῶν οὐρανῶν, πατᾶμε σέ τόπους πού ἀστράφτουν. Ἄς διώξουμε ἀπό τήν ψυχή μας πρῶτα-πρῶτα τή μνησικακία, γιά νά μήν κατακριθοῦμε, ὅταν παρουσιαστοῦμε μπροστά στό Θεό καί προσευχηθοῦμε λέγοντας: «Πάτερ ἡμῶν..., ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν». Διαφορετικά, πῶς θέλεις νά φανεῖ ὁ Δεσπότης Xριστός γλυκός καί πράος ἀπέναντί σου, ἀφοῦ ἐσύ γίνεσαι στό συνάνθρωπό σου σκληρός καί δέν τόν συγχωρεῖς; Πῶς θά μπορέσεις νά ὑψώσεις τά χέρια σου στόν οὐρανό; Πῶς θά κινήσεις τή γλώσσα σου σέ λόγια προσευχῆς; Πῶς θά ζητήσεις συγγνώμη; Ἀκόμα κι ἄν θέλει ὁ Θεός νά συγχωρήσει τίς ἁμαρτίες σου, δέν Tόν ἀφήνεις ἐσύ, ἐπειδή δέν συγχωρεῖς τόν πλησίον σου.
20 PAGE 20 THE LADDER Community Announcements/Κοινοτικές Ανακοινώσεις Attention!! Parents of ALL Graduating Seniors!! As we do every year, we would like to acknowledge and recognize the members of the Class of 2015 Please submit the names of your graduating seniors, along with the name of the school from which they are graduating, what their major will be (if entering college), or what degree they will be receiving (for college and graduate school students) Call or the Church Office as soon as possible, so we can congratulate them in early June Scholarship Committee Volunteers Needed The Annunciation Church Scholarship fund has been dormant for years. We are looking for volunteers to restart this important project for our youth. If you are interested, please contact us through The Ladder for details. Chriss Papayannis,
21 APRIL 2015 PAGE 21 Steward Update, 2015/Αναπροσαρμογή Οικονομων, 2015 (as of ) Dr. & Mrs. Nicholas Agapis Dr. & Mrs. Steven Agapis Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Anstine Mr. & Mrs. Vasilios Anstine Mr. & Mrs. Jesse Benefiel Mr. & Mrs. Mark Bittner Mr. & Mrs. Louis Chiadis Mr. & Mrs. Steven Delaveris Mr. & Mrs. Chris Demetriades Mr. & Mrs. Garrett Finke Mr. & Mrs. Emmanuel Frangeskos Ms. Mary Anne George Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Giovanis Maj. & Mrs. George Haritos Drs. George & Joan Hayes Mr. Charles Henry Mrs. Mary Henry Mrs. Hrisoula Hioutis Mr. & Mrs. William Hondos Mr. & Mrs. Athanasios Karanikas Mr. George Kotsopoulos Fr. Deacon & Mrs. Robert Kuchta Mr. Chris Lainas Mr. & Mrs. Eleftherios Lamnatos Mr. John Lamnatos Ms. Lola Lamnatos Ms. Alisa N. Livaditis Dr. & Mrs. Gus Livaditis Mr. John N. Livaditis Dr. & Mrs. Nicholas Livaditis Mr. & Mrs. Konstantine Mallas Mrs. Georgia Mavros Mr. Constantine Minetos Dr. & Mrs. Nicholas Pandelidis Mr. & Mrs. Athanasios Polychronis Mr. & Mrs. Socratis Rodas Mrs. Kelly (Skouras) Sheasley Mr. John Skeparnias Mr. & Mrs. Louis Skeparnias Mr. Nick Skeparnias Mrs. Voula Skeparnias Ms. Maria K. Skouras Ms. Andrea Sparks Mr. & Mrs. George Stavropoulos Mr. & Mrs. Demetrios Tsoukalis Mr. & Mrs. Theodore Valakis Mrs. Zoi Valakis Mr. & Mrs. Scott Wilson These are the people who have paid towards Stewardship for Thank you for you generosity and support of our community. Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. - Matthew 25:21
22 PAGE 22 THE LADDER Parish Council Meeting Minutes Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 Present: Father Andrew Tsikitas, Nick Agapis, George Lapes, Lefteris Hristofas, Tom Livaditis, Maria Skouras, Alex Daoularis, Lola Lamnatos, Vicki Karandrikas, Chriss Papayannis, George Karanicolas, Michael Hiras The meeting opened at 7:05 p.m. with a prayer by Father Andrew. The Minutes from the previous meeting were read by all Parish Council members prior to the meeting. Vicki Karandrikas motioned to accept the minutes, Lefteris Hristofas seconded the motion and the minutes were accepted. Election of Officers: Father Andrew opened the floor for nominations. President: George Lapes nominated Alex Daoularis, Vicki Karandrikas seconded, There were no other nominations so no vote took place. Vice President: Alex Daoularis nominated Nick Agapis, Chriss Papayannis seconded, there were no other nominations so no vote took place. Treasurer: Vicki Karandrikas nominated Lola Lamnatos, Alex Daoularis seconded, there were no other nominations so no vote took place. Secretary: Lola Lamnatos nominated Vicki Karandrikas, Lefteris Hristofas seconded, there were no other nominations so no vote took place. Treasurer s Report: The report was reviewed by Lola Lamnatos. She reports that the old account has been closed, and that $7,000 will be transferred to the operating account from the money market account. Also, the special project money is now in a CD, and the coffee hour money will be in a charitable fund account. Lola also brought up the fact that we have a safety deposit box through the bank, and inquired about who has access to it, and what is being kept in it. This matter will be looked into further as nobody present has knowledge of it. Lastly, it was recommended that we find someone to do an audit/review, possibly someone external. Correspondence was read by Alex, which included a thank you card from the Ronald McDonald House, along with a donation request. Tom Livaditis motioned to send $50.00, Chriss Papayannis seconded, and the motion passed. Father Deacon Bob also sent a thank you card for the Christmas donation he received, as did the National Forum of Greek Musicians. Committee Reports Building Committee Dr. Lapes reports that they are still waiting to hear from the Metropolis regarding at what point in the project we need their approval. Father Andrew will call and speak to Deacon Ryan about this. Stewardship Committee Has not met, but Nick Agapis reports that money is still coming in from 2014, and that although the goal of $100,000 wasn t met, money collected was up $4,000 to $5,000 from last year. Maintenance Committee Has not yet met. Festival Committee The next food festival is scheduled for February 20, 21 & 22. Tom Livaditis reported that Harry Margetas will be available to cut the gyro meat, but will need help with putting up the cones. Old Business Credit from Met-Ed for LED Lights The social hall, library and restrooms have all been converted to LED lighting. Vicki Karandrikas will check with Met-Ed on any available credits. Review rental contract for hall Vicki reports that she is working on revised contract, and will be discussed further at next meeting. New Business Ryan s Hope, March 28 th, 9 am to 2 pm, cost to use room This organization has asked to use the hall for a fundraiser, in which they will sell items. Will use the kitchen only to heat up food, and want to know what the cost would be for this. George Karanicolas motioned to charge $500 plus a $100 security deposit (of the $500, $250 will be required to reserve the room, and the balance will be due a week before the event). All voted in favor and the motion passed. February food festival Scheduled for February 20, 21, 22 Memorial Donations-which account? - Tom Livaditis motioned that money coming in from Memorial Donations be put into special projects (ex. Scholarship fund). Mike Hiras and Lola Lamnatos will look into establishing such a fund. Church Transportation Father Andrew suggested that we look into purchasing a 15 passenger van to transport parish members (seniors, GOYANS, and other groups) to different trips and activities. A question was raised as to how insurance would work, Lefteris Hristofas will look into this. Maria Skouras will try to contact some parish members about finding such a van. VIII. Comments and Closing Prayer by Father Andrew Kolymbithra Someone came to get dimensions for the kolymbithra and will be sending us a proposal. Anna Papayannis will take over this project from here. Need for Strategic Planning Alex Daoularis requested that we meet for a strategic planning session. A meeting was set for January 27 th at 7pm. Vacuum Cleaner The vacuum cleaner needs repaired/replaced. Chriss Papayannis motioned to purchase a Bissel, 7 voted in favor, and the motion passed. Try to keep one task per board member Alex Daoularis recommended that we don t over-task some board members, and that we all try to help with different tasks. GOYA uniforms Chris Papayannis reports that new uniforms were needed. Money was allocated and uniforms were ordered. More handicap parking It was requested that we add some handicap spaces this spring. Mike Hiras will work on a plan for this. New furniture for side rooms of Altar Father Andrew requested that we purchase some furniture because the existing furniture is in pretty bad shape. It was also suggested that the mom room gets cleaned & painted. The meeting ended at 9:05pm with a prayer by Father Andrew
23 From Our Families Dr. & Mrs. George Agapis Dr. & Mrs. Nicholas Agapis SPACE AVAILABLE Contact Chriss Papayannis Today
24 Dear Parishioner, We would like to take this opportunity to extend to you an invitation to share in making our Great Lent and Holy week a most beautiful and fulfilling journey. The following is a list of flowers and items which will be needed for the various services that will occur. In order to maintain uniformity and thus add to the beauty of our services, we ask that contributions be made to the Church. Father Andrew will make arrangements in purchasing the items and flowers. We need the following flowers and/or floral arrangements. Flowers for the Salutations to the Virgin Mary Feb. 27 March 6 March 13 March 20 Flowers for the Akathist Hymn on March 27 Flowers for the small Icon of the Annunciation and on the Iconostasion Daffodils/Jonquils for the Veneration of the Cross Flowers for Saturday of Lazarus Icon Flowers for Palm Sunday Palms for Palm Sunday Vayia for Holy Saturday morning Service Flowers for the Icon of the Bridegroom April 5 April 6 April 7 Flowers for the Icon of the Last Supper Flowers for the Icon of the Crucifixion Flowers for the Icon of the Apokathelosis Donation for the flowers for the Epitaphios Flowers for the Resurrection Banner Flowers for the Resurrection Icon Lily plants for Iconostasion and Altar Table Wreath for Crucifixion on Holy Thursday Epitaohio Candles for Good Friday Donations for Candles: Holy Week (Altar Table) Incense, Priest s Anastasi Candle Potted Flowers for Crucifixion Additional General Donations The above items can be donated by filling out this form and returning it to the Church office. There is no specific dollar amount for any of the above items whatever you wish to give. Name. Indicate the item you wish to donate the following: In Memory of For the Health of
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