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Study Group to Explore St. Paul’s Exhortative Epistle

High Priest in HeavenHoly Trinity’s Adult Study Group returns this Fall, moving to alternating Thursdays beginning September 18. Fr. John will lead an examination of The Epistle to the Hebrews, High Priest in Heaven by Fr. Lawrence R. Farley.

Meant to feed both the heart and the mind, the study will be both devotional and exegetical, drawing from several patristic sources. Working from a literal translation of the original Greek, the commentary examines St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews section by section, explaining its meaning in everyday language.

Intended for those already Orthodox but open to all adults, this bimonthly educational opportunity resumes on September 18 at 7 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Books will be available to purchase or to borrow.

Introducing Trinity House

Trinity House Logo

What’s in a Name?

When the parish authorized the purchase of 123 S. Sparks St., a new name became
necessary—we could not keep calling it the “American Cancer Society building” forever. Providentially at last night’s Council meeting, parish leadership endorsed a new vision for the building next door, and with this new vision, comes a new name.

Entitled Trinity House Parish and Campus Ministry CenterTrinity House for short—this new name provides a snapshot of the multiple uses envisioned on its three levels: Sunday School classes, administrative offices, meeting space, and a new home for Holy Trinity’s growing campus ministry. When completed in 2015, Trinity House will be only the second-known Orthodox campus ministry facility in the US.

Closing is expected around Thanksgiving. February is forecast as a possible opening date, allowing for needed refurbishing, painting, and new floor coverings.

Fr. John’s Monthly Keynote: See You in September!

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by Fr. John Reeves

Actually, it is September, the beginning of another Church year, and another school year. Things seem to get back to normal after summer, whatever normal is. Another cycle of life and worship starts anew; we settle back into routine.

Marking cycles of time has historically served two purposes for man: one, the obvious, immediate cycles of day and night, months, and seasons marked times for work and rest, the hunt and harvest—things needed for survival, day by day, week by week, month by month.

Yearly cycles began to mark something else, however, taking on deeper meaning, not merely the present and ongoing but the past as well, recalling ancestors and their stories, their triumphs and their tragedies. In other words, the yearly festivals became ways to celebrate who a people were.

In the Old Testament, we find examples of both—Sabbaths and New Moons and Harvests, as well as new years, (annual) days of atonement, Passover, and the Giving of the Law. By keeping them all, weekly and yearly, the Jewish people gave a meaning to life which set them apart from that of their (heathen) neighbors.

Holy Days in September

Vespers: Sunday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.
Liturgy: Sunday, Sept. 8, 8 a.m.

Vespers: Saturday, Sept. 13, 6 p.m.
Matins: Sunday, Sept. 14, 9 a.m.
Liturgy: Sunday, Sept. 14, 10 a.m.

God created Light and Darkness, labor and rest. As well, God continued to act in the midst of His people. The annual cycles and festivals tended to commemorate His ongoing actions, signs of hope for and His enduring presence with Israel. Time took on new meaning.

Church School Begins

Fr. John blesses students at a prayer service marking the beginning of Church School.

So it is with the Church. Weekly cycles combine with annual ones. God’s providence in our lives and His activity in our history gives us meaning, hope and purpose. We are not merely ambling through time, but God is moving and acting in our midst. This is precisely why we celebrate Holy Days: the Twelve Great Feasts, the other major Holy Days in the lives of Our Lord, His Mother, and the Forerunner, together with all the Saints’ days throughout the year. They are annual memorials of historical events: God has acted in our midst and is wondrous in His Saints.

The days of the Church calendar give meaning, hope and purpose to our lives as Orthodox Christians which the world does not know and cannot comprehend. That is, they give meaning, hope and purpose if we keep them. Otherwise, one day will be as the next and all that is portended by their observances will pass us by. Life dwindles away and time loses its potential for transformation, both of our lives and that of the cosmos.

So, see you in September: Nativity of the Theotokos, (September 7-8); and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, (September 13-14).

Parish Votes to Purchase Adjacent Building

123 S Sparks StAt a meeting of the parish today, members voted to approve a $340,000 offer to purchase the building adjacent to Holy Trinity (123 S. Sparks St.), which the American Cancer Society has owned for the past twenty years. The vote tally was 60 votes in favor, 7 votes against, with 2 abstentions.

Closing on the building is expected in November. In the meantime, the Parish Council will explore several options to maximize its sustainability and usability in order to meet our needs, the needs of our community (Penn State and State College), and the Church beyond our parish.

Direct a Portion of Your Purchases to Holy Trinity

At no cost to you, Amazon will donate a percentage (0.5%) of every purchase you make to Holy Trinity or another charitable organization of your choice. To get started, click on the link below.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church

Chapel’s Prayers for Conestoga Answered

by Alfred Kentigern Siewers

IMG_0736On a quiet summer day in rural central Pennsylvania it is hard to imagine that the small factory across from the lot where we are building our temple would have its fate decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC today.

Conestoga Wood Specialties, owned by a Mennonite family, along with better-known Hobby Lobby, was the focus of today’s final Supreme Court decision for this season.

The case centered on whether companies because of their owners’ religious beliefs could opt out of government-required abortifacient contraceptive insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or face crippling fines that would have forced Conestoga out of business.

Every week for months during Liturgy, around the corner from the plant, at the temporary house church where we meet, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit has prayed for those defending the sanctity of life through civil disobedience, keeping Conestoga in particular in prayer. The company has a reputation as a good neighbor and of treating its employees well, but because of the religious beliefs of its owners faced closure as a result of penalties for not adhering to the ACA provisions under dispute.

But the Court decision today not only helped keep Conestoga open, but provides a bit of legal breathing space in “post-Christian” American politics for traditionalists concerned with an emerging array of issues also of concern to Orthodox Christians, from abortion to marriage…

Today’s decision offers some partial relief for concerns about government action toward traditional faith communities in the U.S., but no salvation from an Orthodox perspective… Orthodox Christians aware of their own history would do well to do some summer reading in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago and the recently published English translation of Ivan Sokolov’s The Church of Constantinople in the Nineteenth Century, which both illustrate graphically the past sufferings of the Church in antagonistic cultures, and the salvific power of the witness of martyrs.

Thankfully we haven’t reached anywhere near that point in the U.S. yet, but despite today’s decision, the trajectory of our culture doesn’t offer grounds for optimism. The decision itself is a reflection of that trajectory, and the severe persecutions faced by many Orthodox Christians in the Middle East and Africa in particular require our prayers…

We should pray and work in support of the freedom of people like the Hahn family, owners of Conestoga, and for our own freedoms as Orthodox Americans to pass a living tradition across generations to our biological or spiritual children and grandchildren. But finally, we pray to the Lord to preserve His commonwealth…

[One] can be grateful of the liberties one enjoys, and use one’s franchise to advance the work of trustworthier politicians (and perhaps there are more of those than I have granted to this point), and pursue the discrete moral causes in which one believes. But it is good [not] to mistake the process for the proper end of political life, or to become frantically consumed by what should be only a small part of life, or to fail to see the limits and defects of our systems of government.

After all, one of the most crucial freedoms, upon which all other freedoms ultimately depend, is freedom from illusion.

Editor’s Note: Kentigern’s full article and future reflections can be found on Orthodox Christian Network’s website.

VBS 2014 Daily News: Friday

Narnia Kids Return—VBS Kids Ready for Battle!

VBS concludes with students outfitted with the armor of God

IMG_2812State College, PA — Today, Holy Trinity’s VBS concluded with the climatic finish of our themed story—The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  Through the use of symbols, the students realized that the plot and chronology of the story portrays the history, fall, and plan unfolding in the world as well.

As we left the story yesterday Lucy and Susan were watching what was happening at the Stone Table in absolute horror and sat crying. We picked up the story as the girls came out from behind the bushes after the Witch left and tried to untie the ropes that bound Aslan, but they could not. Suddenly hundreds of little mice came out from the tall grass and nibbled away at every single rope until they were all gone.  Still the great Aslan laid there.

When the dawn of early morning came the girls heard a huge cracking and they turned to see the Stone Table had cracked into two pieces and that Aslan himself was standing beside it … complete with a full mane!  Aslan quickly explained to the girls that the White Witch was right about the Deep Magic which said that she had the right to have a blood sacrifice for Edmund’s sin, but there was a deeper magic which she did not know. It says that if a willing victim who had committed no treachery was sacrificed instead of the traitor, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.

IMG_5445Aslan, flying along at the greatest speed with the girls on his back, reached the Witch’s castle and jumped right over the gates into the courtyard filled with stone statues and began breathing on each statue until each was restored to life again.  At the same time, in the valley just below the Stone Table, Peter and his faithful little army were fighting for their lives with Edmund bravely fighting along side his brother.  He knew if he could just get the wand out of the Witch’s hand she would be defenseless. Soon he had his opportunity and he destroyed her instrument of power with his sword. When Aslan arrived with his fresh troops, they quickly joined the battle and he killed the White Witch himself With the death of their leader, the wicked creatures who made up the Queen’s army were defeated.  Then  Lucy gave Edmund, who was badly wounded, a few drops of the special juice from the fire-flowers to revive him.

The next day at the castle of Cair Paravel,  Aslan crowned the four children as King Peter, QueenSusan, King Edmund and Queen Lucy.  They were then seated upon the thrones as prophecy was fulfilled.  These two Kings and two Queens governed Narnia well and long … and happy was their reign.

IMG_2745One day, the Kings and Queens decided to hunt for the White Stag when they  a lamp-post. As they continued down the path, they found themselves no longer making their way through tree branches, but through coats! Suddenly, they were coming out of the Wardrobe and they were just Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy.

And that would have been the very end of the story except for the Professor who was a very remarkable man.  He tells them they are not likely to get back to Narnia through the same route but they will, indeed, return someday for once a King or Queen in Narnia, you will always be one.

Meet the Characters

Lamp post  — is what shows Lucy, and all others that visit Narnia, the way.  It is the only light that greets a visitor in an otherwise grey and cloudy world. Under its light, things become clearer. In a sense, those who teach you how to study the Bible are providing you the light from which you can see the meaning of God’s Word more clearly.

Wardrobe — we all start out in an imaginary innocent world oblivious to the real picture of what is going on here, unless by faith, in Christ, who is the only Door  (the wardrobe) we enter into and are illuminated, revealing the kingdom of God.  It is the entry way to the spiritual kingdoms.

What’s in the Book

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 11:19

When at last she was free to come back to Edmund, she found him standing on his feet and not only healed of his wounds, but looking better than she had seen him look in-oh, ages;  in fact ever since his first term in that horrid school which was where he had begun to go wrong.  He had become his old self again and could look you in the face again.  And there on the field of battle Aslan made him a Knight. — p. 146-147


Many thanks to all of the teachers, cooks, mural painters, helpers, and extra hands.  It is through their stewardship that the VBS is able to be conducted.  Most especially,  thanks to the students for their enthusiasm and willingness to learn (and their parents who brought them).

Learn More

For more recaps and pictures, visit the 2014 Vacation Bible School homepage.


VBS 2014 Daily News: Thursday

Aslan is On the Move

IMG_2652State College, PA — The VBS students gathered on this rainy  then sunny day to continue following the exciting adventures of children in Narnia and seeing Aslan on the move.  Additionally, to bring some of the excitement to real life the students were able to create their own shield of faith.

The students picked up the story when the four children reunited in the presence of Aslan. But even though Edmund is rescued, he is not really safe from the White Witch. He was guilty of being a traitor and there were laws about what must be done about such a sin. If the laws were not followed, all of Narnia would be destroyed by fire and water. So, just when everyone was celebrating Edmund’s return, the White Witch stormed into Aslan’s camp to demand the life of Edmund. She reminded Aslan that Edmund’s sin must be punished by the shedding of his blood at her hand.

Everyone waited for a very long time while Aslan and the Witch went off to talk alone. At last Aslan returned and announced that the wicked Witch renounced the claim on Edmund’s life. He then ordered the moving of their camp to a new location. As they packed up the camp and moved it down the hill from the Stone Table, Aslan took Peter aside to instruct him on another upcoming battle with the Witch and her army. Peter was alarmed when

IMG_2621Aslan said he could not promise to be a part of this battle. He, as well as his two sisters, became concerned about Aslan because he seemed very sad.

After dinner everyone fell asleep except for Susan and Lucy. When they looked out of their tent, they saw Aslan leaving the camp so they decided to follow him. After a while he noticed the two sisters and, as he was very sad and lonely, he let them walk with him and comfort him by stroking his long beautiful mane. He made them promise they would leave him when he asked them to. He did this as they came to the edge of the place of the Stone Table. From their hiding place in the bushes, the girls watch Aslan walk into a great crowd of evil-looking ogres, wolves, and spirits of evil trees, poisonous plants and other indescribable creatures. And right in the middle, standing by the Table, stood the White Witch herself.

What’s in the Book

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.1After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. — Matthew 27:27‑31

“The fool!” she cried.  “The fool has come. Bind him fast.” Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find their courage, and for a few minutes the two girls could not even see him – so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him,hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him.  — p. 123ff

Learn More

For more recaps and pictures, visit the 2014 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2014 Daily News: Wednesday

SPRING ARRIVES IN NARNIA: Fr. Christmas and Aslan greeted; Peter fights first battle

IMG_2512State College, PA — The excitement in Narnia continued to build today as two prominent characters—Father Christmas and Aslan—made their first appearances.

After traveling by foot by moonlight across the backside of the dam (where the White Witch could not travel by sleigh) the Beaver’s and children fell asleep in a dry cave.  When the small group woke up, they were greeted by sleigh-bells and Father Christmas in a red robe bringing magnificent gifts! He also brought good news that the Queen’s evil magic was weakening as this was the first Christmas to happen in Narnia in a very long time.

Fr.  Christmas brought special gifts for each of the three children. To Peter he gave a shield engraved with a lion and a sword. Susan’s gift was a bow and arrows that would never miss and an ivory horn to summon help. To Lucy he gave a small bottle of juice from the fire-flowers to restore the life of a friend and a small dagger to defend herself.  Before departing, he shouts out, “Merry Christmas! Long live the true King!”

Meanwhile, Edmund is forced to get into the White Witch’s sled without even a coat to keep him warm. They are off to find his brother and sisters before they reach the Stone Table.  The Wicked Witch knew that not only was Spring here, but so was Aslan.

IMG_2552As they soon learned there was in the very middle of an open hilltop the Stone Table – a big grey slab on top of four big corner-stones. While they looked at this very old stone, they heard music and there was the great Lion, Aslan.

Aslan wanted to speak to Peter alone about the battle ahead against evil. He took him to the very top of the hilltop to look out over the Kingdom and to see the castle of Cair Paravel. It was here, Aslan said, that there were four and that the four children would sit on the thrones. As Aslan was talking with Peter, Susan’s horn sounded the call for help. The Battle had begun.

Meet the Characters

The Stone Table — the Narnian equivalent to the cross Jesus was crucified on, however it goes beyond this and resembles strongly the end of the “Law” also, or the stone tablets, and the breaking of the temple curtain at Christ’s death.

Lucy’s Healing Potion — Christ’s blood, which heals our infirmities

Helmet — Salvation

Shield — Faith

Sword — the Spirit within us

Susan’s horn prayer before God

What’s in the Book

Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful forever. Amen.  — 1 Peter 4:10-11

“Peter, Adam’s son,” said Father Christmas.  “Here, Sir,” said Peter.  “These are your presents” was the answer, “and they are tools, not toys.  The time to use them is perhaps near at hand.  Bear them well.” — pg. 87

FPO—For Parents Only

  • The VBS Daily News is prepared especially for YOU.  In each issue, you will read about the major topics and themes for the day. Take time to read it (particularly the scriptural references) and discuss it with your child.
  • FYI … There may be some water game on Friday.

Learn More

For more recaps and pictures, visit the 2014 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2014 Daily News: Tuesday

Truth or Consequences: Students learn truth is not what is seems but what it is

IMG_2496State College, PA — When it comes to tough choices, Holy Trinity VBS students learned that not everything comes easy and that we often find ourselves struggling and challenged to do what is right.

The students picked up the story as Edmund reluctantly returns to the wardrobe and the Old Professor’s house. Lucy was so happy to find someone who believed her story because he was there, but when they caught up with their older siblings, Edmund betrayed her and said the whole story was still a figment of her imagination.

Finally, a day came that would convince Peter and Susan once and for all who was telling the truth—Lucy or Edmund. It so happened that some visitors came to the old historic house for a tour and all four children were told to stay out of the way. They decided to play upstairs, and when they heard the visitors coming up, the children hid in the old wardrobe. Instantly they found themselves in the dark woods of Narnia. When Edmund directs them to the lamp-post, Peter and Susan realize that he had, in fact, been there before.

Once in Narnia, Lucy wanted to introduce everyone to her friend, Mr. Tumnus, but when they reached his small house he was gone. With no idea where to find the castle, they asked a beautiful, bright, red-breasted robin for guidance. She set out leading the way until eventually they met the Beavers. They were to be the chilren’s guide to a special place to meet Aslan. IMG_2440

At the mention of Aslan’s name, with no idea just exactly who Aslan was, each child had a curious reaction. Edmund felt terrified, Peter felt brave and adventurous, Susan felt as if some delicious smell or beautiful music had just floated by her, and Lucy got the feeling you have when it’s the beginning of a vacation or summer.

Meet the Characters

Aslan  (which means lion in Turkish) — Jesus Christ.  He is the creator of Narnia. He symbolizes Jesus Christ and the power of good. Queen Jadis, the White Witch (Lucifer) — who rules Narnia, represents the power of Satan or evil in the world.

What’s in the Book

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours. — Luke 4:5-7

“It is a lovely place, my house,” said the Queen. “I am sure you would like it. There are whole rooms full of Turkish Delight, and what’s more, I have no children of my own. I want a nice boy who I can bring up as prince and who would be King of Narnia when I am gone. While he was Prince he would wear a gold crown and eat Turkish Delight all day long; and you are much the cleverest and handsomest young man I’ve ever met. I think I would like to make you Prince-some day, when you bring the others to visit me.” — The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, p. 30

FPO—For Parents Only

  • Don’t forget that TOMMOROW (WEDNESDAY) there will be Vespers at 5:00 p.m.  Bring your kids early for worship (dinner will be served following).

Learn More

For more recaps and pictures, visit the 2014 Vacation Bible School homepage.