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From Pascha to Pentecost

by Mary Lanser

Hear my cry O God, listen to my prayer from the ends of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to a rock that is higher than I for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” (Psalm 60:1-3)

“Lead me to a rock that is higher than I”—What an odd little petition. To paraphrase: Get me out of here, O Lord! Lead me to a cave in the mountains so that I may stand on the ledge and listen for Your voice. Set me on a rock in the middle of a rushing river swollen by floodwaters tumbling fast and dangerous, or on a startling desert-stone formation to take my feet up away from burning sands. What are we to make of this?

Sometimes the images that we conjure when we call upon God to rescue us in a hurry are amusing. We are like a child with its arms raised begging to be picked up so to see what’s going on in a moment of confusion, or to be rescued from some overwhelming contact with the world at ground level, or simply to seek a restful moment on a strong shoulder. Sometimes we only need a moment to catch our breath. Other times we long for and seek something more enduring.

Luke opens the Book of Acts telling us about the post-Resurrection Christ on earth: “To them (the Apostles) He presented himself living, after His passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking of the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) The language of the Christ presenting Himself “living” to the Apostles after his Resurrection indicates that after His Passion our Lord was exercising the agency of His divinity here on earth, making manifest the Incarnation in a way that the world had never experienced before. This was indeed the same Christ who was presented to us by his holy virgin mother at his Nativity, and the same Christ presented to us in his robe of royal purple and crown of thorns by Pontius Pilate as he said to the crowd: “Behold the man!”

The Risen Christ was and remains the Son of the Living God, second person of the Holy Trinity, but there had been profound changes at the time of His Resurrection. Here in the time between the Resurrect-ion and Pentecost the Apostles met Jesus the Christ who had been raised in power and in glory and whose body was no longer subject in any way to the corrupt-ion, weakness, and mortality of fallen human nature. He was truly and fully the New Adam, and in this glorified and corporeal emblem of eternal life, He demonstrated to the Apostles, and to all of us, what we can also anticipate if we are, as the Son was, willing to accept gracefully the death that is granted to us by the Father, so that we may have life eternal.

Jesus not only speaks of the Kingdom, but He, “living,” presents it to us voluntarily and bodily. There is no separating the Kingdom from God, for they are one as the soul and body are one and we are made in the flesh to be seerers and partakers of the Kingdom which He presents to us in the flesh. During the time between the Resurrection and Pentecost, the time for His teaching us has passed, and has been replaced by the time for showing us how to be and become one with the Kingdom in body, mind and spirit. As the great apostle Paul says:

“Therefore my brethren you also have become dead to the law through the Body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the code of the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what held us captive, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”  (Romans 7:4-6)

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While we wait for the day of the Holy Spirit, we encounter a number of important liturgical moments.

Icon for Thomas Sunday (courtesy oca.org)

The first is the Sunday of Thomas where we are reminded again of Christ’s passion and death. Looking back now we realize that the Christ of our salvation is known to be true by the stripes and wounds of his passion and crucifixion. Christ Transfigured is truly Christ Crucified and Resurrected. The Risen Christ breathed the Holy Spirit into the Apostles on Thomas Sunday. This is a foretelling of what is to come and why it is necessary. Pentecost comes to present, to us individually and intimately, the living power and promise of the Cross.

The next is the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women. Though we read from the Gospel of Mark on that day, it is in the Gospel of John (chapter 20), where we read that “Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Why are you weeping?”

Icon for the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women (courtesy oca.org)

This is a striking image and message for it harkens back to the Mosaic covenant of which the Risen Christ is the fulfillment. In Exodus 25, we read: “And you shall put the mercy seat atop the ark and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the covenant, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.” And Christ presented himself, living, to the Apostles and spoke to them of the Kingdom of God.

The next three Sundays take us back to key moments in the life of Jesus, for us and for the season. The first Sunday in this grouping gives us the story of the miraculous healing of the paralytic, the next is the story of the Samaritan woman and the third is the Sunday of the story of the man born blind. The one element that draws all of these stories together into a resurrectional theme is water. The Sheep’s Pool for the Sunday of the Paralytic. Jacob’s Well for the Sunday of the Samaritan Women, and the Pool of Siloam for the Sunday of the Man Born Blind. As we wait for Pentecost these three Sundays remind us that through the Power of the Holy Spirit we all partake of the living water that comes down from heaven.

Icon for the Sunday of the Paralytic (courtesy oca.org)

The Sunday of the Paralytic signals Jesus’ resurrectional power over the body, over flesh. for the paralytic had been ill for decades and in all that time there was no one to help him in his disreputable state. Even such deep-seated and resolute weakness can be restored in faith. This story also draws our attention back to the mercy seat by making clear the relationship between sin and physical illness. Jesus says to the man, “See, you are well! Sin no more , that nothing worse befall you.” (John 5:14)

The story also demonstrates that some of us will be healed indirectly by the powers of heaven, and others will receive direct healing by the power of the risen Christ. Therefore we see that some are healed by the angel disturbing the water in the pool and others are healed by Christ directly so that when the power of the Holy Spirit comes into the world at Pentecost, we are strengthened in knowledge and in power to be one body in Christ. to love and heal one another in Christ, Jesus and know that his healing power is still active in this world.

Icon for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (courtesy oca.org)

Now before we advance to the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman there is another crucial moment in our waiting for Pentecost. As there is a Sunday of mid-Lent, with its focus on the Cross, there is also a mid-Pentecost, falling on Wednesday, which has as its focus the pouring out of the Holy Spirit as we experience the pouring out of the Living Water that is Christ, Jesus. The reading for that day comes again from the Gospel of John (7:10-24) and tells of Jesus when he went into the Temple to teach in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles is significant because it celebrates the forty years that Moses and the Hebrew people spent in the desert. The Feast of Booths/Tabernacles is directly associated with the Passover and Hebrew Pentecost which is the Feast of the Law and is celebrated, traditionally, fifty days after Passover and marks the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. There is also a direct reference in the reading to the fact that the Temple priests seek to kill Jesus for healing the paralytic on the Sabbath. Jesus reminds them that circumcision is a part of Mosaic law, and circumcisions are performed on the Sabbath. He asks then why it is that the law would allow the act of circumcision on the Sabbath, and yet punish an act of healing for the whole body on that same day. And so we are once again reminded of the suffering and sacrifice of the Cross to heal and restore the consequences of the disobedience and ingratitude of mankind. In addition to the reference to the Law in this feast, there is yet another liturgical connection made between the Sunday of the Paralytic and the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman by associating the water from the rock struck by Moses that is celebrated during the Feast of Tabernacles, and the living water that comes down from heaven and it is reflected in the Tropar and Kontak of the feast:

Having come to the middle of the Feast, refresh my thirsty soul with streams of piety; for Thou, O Saviour, didst cry to all: Let him who thirsts come to Me and drink. O Christ our God, Source of Life, glory to Thee.  — Troparion, Tone 8

When the Feast of the law was half over, O Lord and Creator of all, Thou didst say to the bystanders, O Christ our God: Come and draw the water of immortality. Therefore we fall down before Thee and cry with faith: Grant us Thy bounties, for Thou art the Source of our Life.  — Kontakion, Tone 4

The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman is noteworthy for a number of reasons. For example, Jesus was passing through Samaria on his way to Galilee, actually to avoid a confrontation with the Pharisees in Judea who were noticing that Jesus seemed to have more followers than John the Baptist. When we arrive at Jacob’s Well—tying the new covenant back to the old—Jesus asks a Samaritan woman to give him something to drink. This is not the only place where Jesus indicates that He wants us to offer Him small, mundane kindnesses as a gesture of our regard for Him and our love. Sometimes He requests material things and sometimes he asks that we give something of our internal or spiritual selves, even if it is only refraining from some small habit of sin. He asks this of us so that we may increase the room in our hearts for Him.

Then we have a most obvious reminder that Moses brought forth water from a rock, and it quenched a temporary thirst, but Jesus comes to offer us the Water of Life because so we will never thirst again. The water that He offers becomes a wellspring within us, which we can share with others, as long as we give to Him those bits of ourselves that make room in our hearts for Him. Pentecost brings with it the Power of the Holy Spirit that gives us the strength, the means, and the place—the Church—to be filled with the water coming down from heaven.

Icon for the Sunday of the Blind Man (courtesy oca.org)

The following Sunday is the Sunday of the Man Born Blind, and here we add Light to the thematic theological symbol of Water. We are brought face to face, once more, with the Risen Light of the World, fully alive, still teaching, and illuminating the Apostles concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. A kontakion from the canon, enforces this fact:  “With eyes that are spiritually blind I come to you, O Christ and like the man who was blind since birth, I cry out to you with repentance: You are a shining Light to those who are in darkness.” This vivid association between water and light cannot help but to remind us of the power of our Baptism in water and the Spirit.

Again during Matins of that Sunday we hear: “You gave sight to the blind man who met you O Christ and you ordered him to wash in the pool of Siloam that he might see and announce your divinity which has appeared in the flesh for the salvation of all.”

And this brings us to reflect on yet another common element found in each of the three Sundays: the Paralytic, the Samaritan Woman, and the Man Born Blind. These three stories each bear the element of witness to the divinity of Jesus:

“Behold the anointed Messiah has appeared on earth. The Samaritan woman proclaimed to the town: It was written in the Law of old that a great prophet would come both God and man. He knew all my deeds. He uncovered everything hidden in the depths of my heart. The whole town ran and saw the truth of her words. They marvelled confirmed in faith by the sight.”  — Wednesday Vespers of the Week of the Samaritan Woman

“Jesus went up to Jerusalem to the Sheep Pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda…The Lord saw there a man with a chronic illness and He asked Him: Do you want to be healed?…I have spent my money on physicians and received no help from any one. The Physician of soul and body said to him: Take up your pallet and walk; proclaim to the whole world the greatness of my mercy and my might deeds.” — Monday Matins of the Week of the Paralytic

On these three Sundays of great miracles, we are to witness the divinity of Jesus to the world and the promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit is to give to us, through the Church, the power to be and become disciples who will not hesitate to speak out in the assembly and give testimony to the glory of the Lord of Hosts.

Icon for Ascension (courtesy oca.org)

And finally we reach the penultimate feast, that of the Ascension and now we can return to Psalm 60 and the rock that is higher than I, as we take leave, liturgically, of the Paschal feast, and Jesus returns to the Father to be seated at the right hand. The Feast is full of references to mountain-tops.

“God who appeared on Mount Sinai and gave the Law to Moses the prophet is now raised up bodily from the Mount of Olives. Let us praise Him all together, for he is clothed in glory.” and then “O Christ, You raised up human nature which had been subjected to the corruption of the grave, and you exalted it by your Ascension into heaven where you glorify us with You.” — Matins of Ascension

So that the Rock that is higher than I is, in fact, Jesus, Lord, Redeemer, King.

It is also on the Feast of the Ascension during Matins that our attention is turned fully to what is to come: “O graciousness which surpasses understanding! O mystery which invokes wonder! The Master of the universe goes from earth to heaven and sends the Holy Spirit to his disciples to illumine their hearts and enkindle them with his grace. The Lord said to his disciples: Remain in Jerusalem and I will send you a Paraclete who is seated with the Father and with Me…”

Icon for the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council (oca.org)

Finally, the Sunday after the Ascension is called the Sunday of the Holy Fathers and commemorates the bishops who sat at the Council of Nicea. It is not the sanctity of individual bishops that is the focus of this feast but rather the fact that these bishops gave testament to the divinity of Christ. In this way the Sunday of The Holy Fathers carries forward the message of witnessing from the Sundays of the miracles and draws attention to the intimate relationships between and among Christ, ourselves, the Holy Spirit and the Church.

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The focus of the Feast’s readings from Acts is on Paul’s pastoral care of the flock and of the importance of teaching right doctrine and the importance of the Holy Spirit in securing the testimony of the Life of Christ and our lives in Christ: “…now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there…For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God, therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which He purchased by His own blood.” (Acts 20:22-28)

In this way, we are prepared to address the various themes presented to us at Pentecost. We begin to see the need for the illumination of the Holy Spirit so that we have the power to be and become what Christ has asked of us here, to be witnesses to the Truth, and to go and make disciples. We begin to see that for us to do these things the Holy Orthodox Faith and Orthodox Church has been bequeathed to us as the sure path to salvation for ourselves and for all whose lives we manage to reach out and touch. We come to realize that as the Body of Christ, the Church here on earth is indeed the Rock that is higher than I.

Blessed journey into the Feast!

Editor’s Note: Mary Lanser is the leader of Holy Trinity’s Women’s Ministry. You can reach her at women@holytrinity-oca.org.

Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen! From the Paschal Message of St. John Chrysostom:

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in no wise be deprived there of. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a Body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

About the Author: St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople, was a notable Christian bishop and preacher from the fourth and fifth centuries in Syria and Constantinople. He is famous for eloquence in public speaking and his denunciation of abuse of authority in the Church and in the Roman Empire of the time. He had notable ascetic sensibilities. After his death he was named Chrysostom, which comes from the Greek Χρυσόστομος, “golden-mouthed.” The Orthodox Church honors him as a saint (feast day, November 13) and counts him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (feast day, January 30), together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. (from orthodoxwiki.org)

Overnight Parking Ban Lifted for Pascha

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 18.39.24At the request of Holy Trinity, the Borough of State College has lifted the 2 to 6 a.m. on-street parking ban on all the surface roads surrounding the church.

In addition to on-street parking on North and South Sparks Street, other suggested places to park include Patterson and Gill Streets, Nittany Beverage (139 N. Patterson St.) and the former Montessori School (300 S. Sparks St.). All the spaces in the Holy Trinity lot, including those accessible by Calder Way (numbered 10 through 18) are also available.

Tonight’s Divine Services for Great and Holy Pascha begin at 11:30 p.m. with the chanting of Nocturns. Following the rush procession, the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection continues with Matins, Hours, and the Divine Liturgy sung in quick succession. The blessing of baskets and a festal meal follow in the Parish Hall.

All are invited.

Update: We received word last night that some people received parking tickets on Pascha night.
If you received one, simply turn in your ticket to the church office at Trinity House Ministry Center (123 S. Sparks St., open daily this week) and it will be rescinded.

Youth Pascha Workshop This Saturday!

On Lazarus Saturday (April 8), our Church School is sponsoring a free Pascha preparation workshop for children of all ages. There will be a variety of activities, including baking, crafts, and egg-dying. Bring the whole family!
 

Women’s Day Retreat to be Held this Saturday

The abbess of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Mother Christophora (Matychak) will lead women in a day retreat devoted to prayer, worship, fellowship, and mutual support from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Worship will bookend the retreat with the Memorial Divine Liturgy for the second Saturday of Lent in the morning (9 a.m.) and Great Vespers in the evening (6 p.m.). Services will take place at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, 119 S. Sparks Street, State College, with sessions and meals taking place next door at the Trinity House Ministry Center, 123 S. Sparks Street.

The retreat, entitled “Preparing for Christ,” will examine the life of Princess Ileana of Romania, who became Mother Alexandria and the founder of Transfiguration Monastery. Using the theme of prayer and watchfulness with the biblical book of Nehemiah and Holy Tuesday’s Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids as backdrops, Mother Christophora will offer two sessions of instruction with a group discussion after each one. A third session allowing participants an additional time for questions will conclude the day spent together. 

Mother Christophora will be joined by Mother Seraphima, née Sister Helene (Krenitsky), a Penn State graduate and former president of the Penn State Orthodox Christian Fellowship (Mechanical Engineering, ’05) who joined Transfiguration Monastery in 2009 and was recently tonsured to Little Schema by Archbishop Nathaniel, the monastery’s overseer, on December 31, 2016.

The schedule is as follows:

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  — Memorial Divine Liturgy
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. — Continental Breakfast/Fellowship
11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. — Session I
12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. — Lunch
2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. — Session II
3:15pm – 4:00 p.m. — Time for Q&A

The retreat is offered to all area women free of charge and is sponsored by Holy Trinity’s Women’s Ministry. Attendance at the ministry’s Tuesday night bible studies on Nehemiah this Spring will be a benefit to participants, but is not required; and all women are welcome to attend one or all of the sessions and meals. (Registration is required, however, so an appropriate amount of food can be prepared.) Please email women@holytrinity-oca.org or call 814-231-2855 to learn more or to RSVP.

 

Some Advice from our Parents Sessions

by Dn. Mark Oleynik

Advice: You can hardly go anywhere without getting it from someone or something, whether it be from the magazine rack at the checkout line, the millions of self-help books, the television shows that are on 24/7, or your co-workers, neighbors, and family. Just open the browser on your computer or phone and you could miss several meals getting immersed in trying to find the best way to get a fast start in the morning to how to get a good night’s rest—and everything in between. Even more, we are mostly being given advice without asking. (Good thing most of the time, it’s free.)

The right place to start looking for good advice is in your Bible since Paul tells Timothy that all scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). You can also look to your elders, clergy, and to people whom you respect and have something in common.

During one of our Parents Sessions, parents were asked to provide what advice they would give to other Orthodox Christian parents for raising a child. Here are some of their pearls of wisdom:

  • Pray more for them and with them every day.
  • Support your spouse.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know what you are doing.
  • Look for comfort and answers in the Bible.
  • Pause: you don’t need to answer every question immediately.
  • Stay in touch with the Church, your faith, and trust God.
  • Teach by example.
  • There will be many bumps in the road.  Think ahead.
  • Make the Church relevant and alive to them every day.  
  • Don’t worry about small things worry about eternal things.
  • Listen carefully to everything kids say and teach them to listen to others.
  • Go to church as much as possible and as often as possible.
  • When bad things do happen, assess if it will be important in ten minutes and/or in ten years.
  • Use the saints as examples of real heroes. 
  • Love regardless.
  • Trust your kids.
  • Make every opportunity an opportunity for kids to realize others needs before their own.
  • Simplify your life and enjoy your children.
  • Read Scripture at mealtime.
  • You create normal for your children. Icons, prayers, church aren’t weird or counter-cultural when your child is immersed in the life of the Church.
  • Let your children be themselves. 
  • God’s love is unending—make sure you child understands no matter what God will still love him or her—and so will you. 
Editor’s Note: Parents Sessions are held monthly after the Liturgy. Topics discussed focus on the challenges and joys of raising Orthodox Christian children in a secular world. All parents are invited (your child need not be enrolled in Sunday School.)

Parishioners Join a Half Million in Promoting Life

Year after year every January hundreds of thousands come to the nation’s capital to give a voice to those who do not have one—the unborn.

This year’s March for Life was historic, however, as for the first time ever, the sitting vice president appeared in-person. Quoting Philippians 4:5, Vice President Mike Pence shared his optimism for the pro-life cause, exhorting the crowd to “Let this movement be known for love, not anger; … compassion, not confrontation… [T]here is nothing stronger than gentleness.”

Following the rally, more than a dozen from Holy Trinity and the Chapel joined His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, head of the Orthodox Church in America, and several Orthodox hierarchs, clergy, and laity in praying for the victims of abortion, before making the two-mile trek from the White House to the Supreme Court. 

Holy Trinity’s support of life doesn’t end with this annual event. Throughout the year, our parish partners with the State College Pregnancy Resource Clinic to educate and encourage men and women to make informed life choices. 

View photographs of Holy Trinity’s and the Chapel’s participation in the March.
View a time lapse of the approximately 500,000 people to attend the March.

Updates on our Rector, Father John Reeves

January 29, 2017
Zacchaeus Sunday

It was announced today in the bulletin that Fr. John will return to his office in Trinity House on a limited schedule this coming week. Hours will vary (you can check this post on the website for updates). Earlier this week, on January 23, Father underwent a second PT scan. His results were clear, meaning no cancer has returned. He still receives adjuvant therapy three times per week as maintenance, which can unfortunately result in a range of adverse side effects. As such, he still needs your prayers. Thank you!

December 19, 2016
Forefeast of the Nativity of our Lord

During the Reader’s Vespers in preparation for the Nativity beginning December 19 and continuing daily through December 23, Fr. John heard Confessions off to the side. Although we will return the “new normal” after the Feast of Confessions being heard by Fr. David Smith on most Wednesdays and second and fourth Saturdays, we thank God for this important next step in Father’s healing process.

November 20, 2016
Forefeast of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos

Welcome Back, Fr. John! It was a joy to have Father back officiating at the Divine Liturgy today. While we are excited to have Father back serving each Sunday, we ask for your understanding and prayers this Nativity Fast as he is still unable to offer pastoral appointments of any kind.

Fr. John has given parishioners who regularly confess to him a blessing to seek other priests for Confessions during this time. Fr. David Smith is available for Confessions most Wednesdays and on the second and fourth Saturdays after Great Vespers. If these times don’t work for you, please contact the church office and we will make every effort to connect you with another priest.

14599749_10211009067807299_1116349840_oOctober 7, 2016
Martyr Sergius in Syria

After four weeks of intensive daily chemotherapy Fr. John rang the bell at the Shaner Cancer Pavilion indicating and celebrating that the most difficult part of his treatment is over. He gets the next two weeks off before beginning the in-home portion of his treatment.

While it’s still too early to know when Father will be up to returning to parish life, we give glory to God for bringing him this far! Thank you so much for praying for him and 14625564_10211009070167358_827649453_ohis family during this difficult time.

October 1, 2016
Protection of the Most-Holy Theotokos

Father John writes in his monthly article in the Trisagion newsletter:

Words do not suffice to express my gratitude for all the prayers and best wishes sent my way since my recent illness, not to mention the many gifts of food brought by the house… I appreciate everyone’s understanding why I am not up for visits during this first, intensive round of chemotherapy. It is a daily infusion of interferon as adjuvant therapy to stimulate my immune system to resist any future bouts of cancer. This phase lasts for a total of four weeks… Pray now for my continued healing.

September 8, 2016
Nativity of the Most-Holy Theotokos

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A day after being surrounded by the love and prayers of his beloved brother clergy and members of his parish family, Father John received test results from his oncologist and learned his prognosis.

All signs show the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit through your prayers—there is no evidence that the cancer has spread beyond his neck. This is the best possible news Father John could have received today. Since the cancer did not metastasize, Father John will begin a year of adjuvant (preventative) therapy using interferon to suppress the formation of any new tumors.

Father gives glory to God and thanks everyone who attended the unction service and who have been praying for him. He continues to covet your prayers for strength and healing as he recovers from the neck surgery and begins chemotherapy.

As communicated in prior announcements, the parish’s clergy and supply priests will maintain the liturgical schedule at both Holy Trinity and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Father will take this month to rest and monitor his response to treatment with the goal of serving and maintaining a limited schedule in October.

September 1, 2016
St. Simeon/Church New Year (Indiction)

Father John writes in his monthly article in the Trisagion newsletter:

[My] new ministry, as I see it, is to lead you, this parish, in the midst of my potentially life-threatening illness. While it is not one I that intended, or would have chosen, it is one that now I welcome. I welcome it because I believe that God has put this challenge before me, to be the ultimate confirmation of my calling and priesthood, to strengthen me and to strengthen you… This is where I find myself, called to confess existentially what I have professed intellectually and theologically over the years, and thereby to continue leading you to the Kingdom of God, as well.

August 29, 2016
Beheading of St. John the Forerunner

The entire parish is invited to attend the Mystery of Holy Unction for Fr. John on Wednesday, September 7 at 12:30 p.m. For those coming from work and other commitments, budget approximately 90 minutes for the service. This is an opportunity for many of us to pray alongside Father as we ask our Lord to heal Father’s body and soul.

Please keep the Archpriest John in your prayers this week as he undergoes tests to determine if the melanoma was fully removed by the surgeon or if it has spread beyond his neck. For those wishing to pray at home the Akathist to St. Nektarios of Pentapolis, Patron Saint of Cancer Sufferers, a link is provided here. The same akathist will be prayed corporately after each 5:30 p.m. Wednesday Vespers for those able to stay.

August 27, 2016

Diagnostic tests have been scheduled to take place Tuesday, August 30 and Wednesday, August 31 to determine if the melanoma was fully removed by the surgeon or if it has spread beyond his neck.

Fr. David Smith and supply clergy will celebrate the Sunday Divine Liturgy through the month of September to give Fr. John an opportunity to both heal from the surgery and begin whatever course of treatment is prescribed. Confessions will be heard at Holy Trinity on alternating Saturdays beginning today, August 27 and by appointment.

Please check or subscribe to the parish’s online calendar to see the latest service schedule (updated daily).

August 24, 2016

As you may of heard, Fr. John Reeves had neck surgery performed at Mount Nittany Medical Center last Friday. During the procedure a growth was discovered and removed. Diagnostic tests are still pending to determine the prognosis, but initial results have confirmed the presence of melanoma. Father and his family ask for your fervent prayers as he recovers from the surgery and awaits news of the disease’s extent and recommended course of treatment.

Holy Trinity’s TLC ministry is coordinating 30 days of meals to support Father’s family as they administer care. If you would like to participate, please click here or email tlc@holytrinity-oca.org for more information. Food may be delivered to the house (a drop off area has been established in the Reeves’ garage) but please do not ring the bell so Father can rest.

In the interim, pastoral emergencies will be handed by Fr. David Smith; Dn. Alexander Cadman will coordinate parish administration. Please send requests through the Parish Office (office@holytrinity-oca.org or 814-231-2855). Thank you.

August 21, 2016

Father John is recovering from minor neck surgery that was performed at Mount Nittany Medical Center on Friday, August 19. While he has agreed to receive meals, he has also requested that we respect his need for time to recover as he is quite fatigued and would prefer to limit visitations at this time. If you wish to participate, please select a date and indicate the type of meal you plan to bring, so we can coordinate our efforts.

Schedule Your Portrait Session for the ’17 Directory

Holy Trinity is updating its Parish Directory in time for Pascha 2017, and our goal is for all individuals and families in the parish to be included.

Unlike three years ago, photography will be professionally done through Lifetouch. All participants will get a free copy of the directory along with an 8” x 10” portrait. Photography will take place in the Parish Hall Thursday-Saturday February 9-11, 2017. Morning, afternoon, and evening sessions are available on a first come, first served basis. Appointments are required.

For your convenience, all photography and portrait viewing will take place in the Parish Hall with no sitting fee. You will have a variety of poses taken. One pose will be selected for the directory. In addition to your complimentary 8″ x 10″, you will have the opportunity to purchase additional portraits on the day of your portrait session.  Lifetouch’s portrait price lists are available in the church office for those would like them prior to photography.

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to be professionally photographed. To schedule a time for you or your family, click here. You may also sign up in the Narthex following each Sunday Divine Liturgy in January or call the church office at (814) 231-2855 for assistance.

Join Holy Trinity at the 2017 March for Life

Help fill our vans for the 44th annual March for Life!

Holy Trinity and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit are currently accepting reservations in the Narthex and by email for the annual one-day pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. in support of the unborn. Our vans will depart Friday, January 27 at 6:30 a.m., and return around 10 p.m. RSVPs are required by Tuesday, January 24 so appropriate transportation can be secured.

College students and youth (with their parents) are especially encouraged to attend. As in previous years, all transportation costs are fully sponsored by Holy Trinity.

January 22, 2017 marks the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States, and Orthodox Christians from across the US will be among those gathering in the US Capital on Friday, January 27 to participate in the annual March for Life. [Due to the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, this year’s March will be held one week later than usual. Sanctity of Life Sunday, however, will not be affected, and will be observed on January 15.]

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon will join other Orthodox Christian hierarchs, seminarians, and clergy and faithful from around the country in the annual March, which will conclude with the celebration of
Memorial Prayers for the victims of abortion near the US Capital.

The theme of this year’s March is “The Power of One.”

The March will begin at noon on the grounds of the Washington Monument. The delegation from Holy Trinity and the Chapel with gather with fellow Orthodox Christian participants at the “Orthodox
Christians for Life” banner, which will be prominently displayed to the right of the stage near Constitution Avenue, between 15th and 17th Streets North West. Metropolitan Tikhon and other hierarchs will be
present on the stage for the opening prayers and presentations prior to the March.

Metropolitan Tikhon also will offer the benediction at the annual Rose Banquet on the evening of the March. General information on the March and the banquet—including details on making reservations—is available on the March for Life web site. Information on Orthodox Christians for Life is also available.

Additional information will be posted on the OCA web site as it becomes available.