Archive | Features RSS feed for this section

Join us in Supporting the Chapel

CHS Choir

The Chapel’s choir completely fills the back of their current worship space making finding a new home more necessary.

There’s now even more good news about spreading the Good News in Snyder County!

Last month, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit made an offer on a half-acre parcel of land in Beavertown. It was everything we were looking for: central to our mission field, attractive, easily accessible, visible, with plenty of street parking. Our offer of $40,000 was accepted (the asking price was $56,000), and we now have 90 days to close.

Already about $24,000 has been saved since the Chapel first started earmarking funds in April of 2008, a few months after the community’s first reader’s service. Last month, Chapel members immediately gave another $9,200, leaving us only $7,000 shy of the total we will need (not including closing costs).

Here is how you can help: Prayerfully consider a one-time donation/pledge to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit Building Fund to help us raise the remaining funds.

The entire month of July is being dedicated as “Chapel of the Holy Spirit Month” at Holy Trinity. Each Sunday a special offering will be taken to receive your gifts toward this work. We would really hate for this deal to fall through. Can we count on your support?

Think about it: we can make this happen by God’s Grace if only:

  • one (1) donor gives $1,500,
  • two (2) donors give $1,000 each,
  • four (4) donors give $500 each,
  • eight (8) donors give $250 each,
  • ten (10) donors give $100 each, and
  • twenty (20) donors give $50 each.

This would give us more than enough to meet the sale price and the costs of closing. Of course, each person’s circumstances are different, and anything you can donate helps our cause. If need be, your offering may even be made in six installments, one per month through the year’s end.

We pray God’s blessings on you and earnestly hope that you will join us in spirit and in prayer in this undertaking. To give, simply detach the enclosed form in the July Trisagion Download now and return it (and your check, if possible). Specify “Chapel of the Holy Spirit Building Fund” in the memo line.

Thank you in advance!

– Fr. Basil and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit Community

* August 2, 2011 Update: We have reached our initial goal of $40,000 plus closing costs. Thank you for your generosity!

Vacation Bible School Gallery Posted

Be sure to check out the gallery of pictures from the 2011 Holy Trinity Vacation Bible School: “I’ve Got the (Fruit of the) Spirit in Me!” You can view a slideshow highlighting the many activities of the week, download pictures from current and past VBSes, and learn more about our annual summer learning program.

This year, 48 children embarked on an educational and fun journey learning about the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives through activities, songs, and crafts.

My First Report from the Field

by Maria Roeber

Farah na amani! (Joy and Peace!)

This is the traditional Christian greeting here in Tanzania, and it’s one of the first phrases I’ve learned since arriving here about a week ago! Greetings from Bukoba!

My journey here started in State College, Pennsylvania where I’d been staying with my parents for the month of May, having moved out of my apartment in the DC area. While Mom headed to California to visit my brother, Dad drove me down to Washington, where I boarded a plane for London. My next flight took me to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Next I flew to Mwanza, a smaller city on the Eastern side of Lake Victoria. My fellow OCMC Missionary, Michael Pagedas, welcomed me to town and we spent a couple of days resting there before taking an overnight ferry across Lake Victoria to Bukoba!

I’m living in a house belonging to the Orthodox Church, right next to Twelve Apostles Orthodox Church, quite a fitting name since my first Sunday Liturgy here fell on the Feast of Pentecost! Between Matins and Liturgy, Kneeling Vespers and the Churching of a mother and child, the service lasted about four hours! Quite a welcome! I now know a few more phrases in Kiswahili: “Bwana hurumia,” means “Lord, have mercy,” and “Amina” means “Amen!” I’ve also learned that “Karibu!” means, “Welcome!” and everyone here says it to me! “Asante” means, “Thank you!” and I say that word more than anything else!

The weather here is a balmy 75 degrees, with blue skies and sunshine all day, every day. We’re officially in the “dry season,” so I’m being diligent about sunscreen and hats, as we’re very close to the equator . Outside the house are palm trees and roses in the front garden, as well as an avocado tree in the back yard! We’ ve had guacamole for dinner a couple of times already!

Speaking of food, the diet here consists mostly of carbohydrate staples like beans and rice, and potatoes. We eat those every day for our main meal, and usually have some type of fried bread for breakfast. I’ve eaten pineapple and guava so far, and vegetables are usually green peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. Dairy is fairly non-existent, although you can buy eggs here. Meat is rare in our household diet. We do have access to bottled water, which I am drinking almost to the exclusion of anything else!

Each morning the church bells awaken us for Matins, which is served at 7 a.m., and every evening we hear Father ring the bell for Vespers at 6 p.m. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, we go to Liturgy. I’m blessed to have a copy of the Divine Liturgy with Kiswahili on one page and English on the next, so I am able to participate a little. I’ve been made most welcome in the congregation by many people, but especially by Simeon, our priest’s 16 month-old son. Simeon toddles up to me any time I enter church and either grabs my fingers to hold my hand or throws both of his arms around my knees until I pick him up. He’s been a delightful companion, as he’s in about the same language-development stage as I!

Photo credit: ocmc.orgI have so much more to tell you, but I’ll save it for another update. Overall, I am well and am almost adjusted to the time change, I’m making small journeys into town to learn my way around and accomplish chores and errands, and I am blessed to live with dear friends and missionaries from the United States, so I am well supported by people who’ve been here for nearly a year.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support over the past year! I wouldn’t be here without you, and I am so excited to begin my ministry as a nurse and more importantly as a loving witness for Christ! You are in my prayers and I ask for yours! Glory to God for all things!

In Christ,
Maria

Vacation Bible School: Got Fruit?

Theme: “I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me!”
Dates/Times: June 13-17, 2011 — 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.*
Location: Holy Trinity Orthodox Church — 119 S. Sparks St., State College, PA
* Monday’s VBS begins immediately after the 8 a.m. Holy Spirit Day Divine Liturgy.
(Registration closed)

Relationship building, teamwork, and fun are hallmarks of Holy Trinity's annual Vacation Bible School.

This month our Sunday School will host its annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Afterfeast of Pentecost (Trinity Week) our theme this year is “I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me.” The instruction will focus on the fruits of the Spirit as described by St. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians (5:22-23). Although VBS is for children, it also is a time of learning and sharing for parents (yes, parents, there may be homework for you.)

Throughout the Bible, there are references to many types of trees such as almond, apple, cedar, chestnut, fig, olive, palm, pine, and willow. In his letter, Paul presents the Spirit in the symbolism of a fruit tree. He does this so with the psalmist in mind where it is said that man is like a tree (Psalm 1) and also Jesus’ statement that men are like good trees and bad trees (Matt. 7:16-20). The illustration is used to help us understand the nature and function of the Holy Spirit.

Children of all ages will join together this June to learn about the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

In today’s world, we sometimes for purposes of décor place artificial plants, greens, etc., here and there for the best total effect. In the same way, when we survey our spiritual houses and discover something is lacking, we go out and fill the gaps by putting out our “artificial” trees, becoming which we are not or should not be. We do this hoping to improve our appearance and gratify our own longing to look better.

In other words, we try to substitute our own dry arrangements for the living fruit tree of the Holy Spirit! However, we do not have to play such a game of make-believe. When the tree of the Spirit thrives within us, we can point to both the tree and its fruit and say, “this is the real thing.”

The fruits that Paul speaks of are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentle-ness, and self-control. These are lovely and such fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit but trees can and do die. This is not to suggest that the life of the eternal Spirit is in danger. It is to remind us that the tree of the Spirit has enemies. So far as we are concerned, the diseases are jealousy, lack of forgiveness, indifference, worldliness, and a score of other sins which can make their attack so that the result is the same: the tree is not permitted to flourish and bear fruit.

VBS is offered free of charge as a service to the State College community. All children aged 4-14 are welcome. Register now!

It is no accident that the fifth chapter of Galatians begins, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1). Thus, there is the liberating fruit of the Spirit. Love begets freedom from hate. Joy brings freedom from gloom. Peace displaces conflict. Goodness triumphs over evil. Faith brings freedom from confusion. Gentleness delivers from arrogance. Self-control liberates us from excesses.

From a practical perspective, in order to harvest the right fruits, there must be the right roots. Parents must make sure the right tree is planted.  And to insure spiritual health, the tree must be given daily attention and nourishment to have a ready response to the Spirit. Remember the words of our Lord: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Let us all gladly let the tree of the Holy Spirit bear fruit through us.

 

Parishioners to Attend Architecture Seminar

On, Saturday, June 25, Andrew Gould, well-known for his design of several Orthodox churches, will present an overview of the history and development of church architecture at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. To further their own journey towards the construction of a new temple in Snyder County, Chapel of the Holy Sprit faithful will join Holy Trinity members in taking a weekend retreat to the seminary, attending the daylong seminar and worshipping on campus.

Participants will depart from Holy Trinity at 4 a.m. on Saturday, stopping in Beaverton at 5:15 a.m. before heading to New York. The group will then attend the two-part presentation focusing on traditional Byzantine architecture and its practicality in American culture today, examining church aesthetics, iconography, and furnishings. It culminates with a discussion geared to help attendees devise solutions for designing and decorating an Orthodox church today. The day will end with Vespers, dinner, and fellowship. Before arriving home late Sunday afternoon, the group will also attend the Divine Liturgy together at St. Vladimir’s.

This trip is open to everyone. Holy Trinity will sponsor transportation, registration, and overnight accommodations. Travellers will be responsible for meals, except Saturday lunch, which is included. Register by June 11 by contacting Dn. Alexander.

 

Enthusiasm Builds in Beavertown

by Fr. Basil Biberdorf

One of the oldest churches in America—and the world—has finally reached into rural Snyder County.

The Chapel of the Holy Spirit Choir sings the Divine Liturgy at their current location, 350 Old Orchard Road in Beavertown.

So began an article in Snyder County’s local newspaper, The Daily Item, last month. (Copies are posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall.) The reporter, having spoken with Reader David Smith, Michael and Beth Mitchell, Fr. John, and me, described the enthusiasm accompanying the establishment of an Orthodox Christian community in an area that has never (to our knowledge, anyway) had one before.

Indeed, the excitement is building, for, as the article explains, the faithful at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit hope to have a real Orthodox temple within a year. While several options are currently under consideration, the Chapel community, with the support of the Holy Trinity Parish Council, has decided to make an offer for a property in Beavertown near to where we currently hold services.

The parcel is about .55 acres in size, located in the borough of Beavertown (with municipal water and sewer), only one block off U.S. Hwy. 522 [with] large amounts of street parking in the immediate vicinity. With an all-cash offer, it is our hope that we could begin planning for construction immediately after closing the sale.

Is this “the one”? We don’t know; only God does. The seller must first accept our offer. If he does, then our hard work really begins…

The possibility that a permanent Orthodox presence would be realized in Snyder County this year is an exciting one. Even if this particular opportunity is not the one our gracious God has in mind for us, we know He has plans.

I ask each of you here at Holy Trinity to undertake the spiritual work of prayer in support of this outreach you yourselves planted. May God bless all of us as we devote ourselves to sharing the abundance of salvation in Christ with those who’ve not yet had the chance to hear about it in Snyder County.

Seven New Parishioners Welcomed at Pascha

On Holy Saturday, April 23, Holy Trinity officially welcomed into our community seven new parishioners through Holy Baptism and Chrismation. May God grant many years to the newly-illuminated servants of God, Benjamin, Dimitri, Joelle, Julia, Laura, Mary, and Virginia!

In the Orthodox tradition, baptism is the participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For this reason, baptisms are commonly held in connection with Pascha (Easter). Imitating their Lord and Savior, the baptized person dies to this world and is born again in the resurrection of Christ into eternal life. In the service that follows–Chrismation–the candidate receives “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 81 Cor. 62 Cor. 1:21-22). This is the “new birth by water and the Holy Spirit” into the Kingdom of God as described in the Gospel of St. John (3:5).

Church School Children Present Charity Fundraiser Proceeds to Housing Transitions

On Tuesday, April 19, a team of children met with Ron Quinn, Executive Director of Housing Transitions ministry news, a State College nonprofit corporation offering housing services to Centre County residents in need. The children, members of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church School, personally delivered funds they raised through their own charity community luncheon.

Their luncheon, aptly entitled “SOUPer Sunday,” was held March 27 and featured a variety of homemade soups prepared by the children. The Church school students were also responsible for serving and hosting the meal, at which a free-will offering was accepted. All proceeds from thefundraiser (which raised just shy of $700) were allotted to Housing Transitions and the Food Bank of the State College Area. Both recipient organizations were specifically selected by the children.

The church school students, aged 4-14, came up with the idea of serving our area charities after studying the Orthodox Christian observance of Great Lent. The 40-day period of preparation for Holy Week and Easter, which ended for Orthodox Christians last Friday, is a time for increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It begins with a reflection of Jesus Christ’s words recorded in the gospel of Matthew (chapter 25, verses 31-46) exhorting Christians to offer compassion and service to those in need:

“…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in…”

The Final Words of Christ

by Fr. Patrick Reardon

Evidently there were several “final words” of Jesus on the cross, some recorded in Matthew and Mark, others in Luke and John. Only Luke narrates the conversation with the thief. Luke alone, likewise, records the two times Jesus cries out to God as Father: Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” and “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:34, 46).

John, an eyewitness to the Savior’s death, tells how the dying Jesus committed to him the future care of his mother (John 19:26-27).

As for Matthew and Mark, they both testify that “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50; cf. Mark 15:37), but neither author relates what the “loud voice” said. One justly conjectures that Matthew and Mark are alluding to Jesus’ final words as they are recorded in Luke and/or John.

Let us begin, then, with the “second to last” sentence of Jesus, as transmitted by Matthew and Mark, who cite it in the Aramaic/Hebrew mixture that apparently preserves Jesus’ very words: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’” that is, “‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?’” (Matt. 17:46; cf. Mark 15:34).

This anguished cry of the Savior has frequently been misunderstood in recent years. In particular, there has arisen the notion that God the Father actually did forsake His Son hanging on the Cross.

In fact, Jesus’ factual abandonment by his Father is sometimes understood to be the very price of salvation. Let me say that this theory presents—to say the least—a rather nasty picture of God.

Against this recent theory, the biblical evidence supports the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. For those who follow the doctrinal guidance of those councils, it was not possible for God the Father to forsake His Son in any real—factual—sense, because the Father and the Son are of “one being” (homoousios). The godhead is indivisible.

The message of Jesus’ cry, therefore, in no way suggests God’s actual abandonment of him. This prayer conveys, not an objective, reified condition of Jesus, but, rather, his human experience of distance from God. The abandonment was psychological, not ontological. God never abandons His friends and loyal servants—much less His Son. Nonetheless, it often happens that they feel abandoned… When Jesus expressed this painful experience in prayer, the opening line of Psalm 22 arose to his lips—”My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”—He could hardly have prayed this unless He knew the Father was still “my God.”

In making this prayer his own, Jesus was not expressing a sentiment unique to himself. He was, rather, identifying himself with every human being who has ever felt himself to be at a great distance from God. Perhaps this prayer best expresses what we mean when we speak of “the days of his flesh” (Hebrews 5:7). It was in this deep sense of dereliction that we perceive that “the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” (John 1:14)…

[D]id Jesus go on to finish that psalm, silently? Christians have always suspected that this was the case. I wonder, however, if we should stop with Psalm 22. Indeed, why would we? Let us imagine, rather, that Jesus, as he was dying, continued praying the next several psalms after Psalm 22.

If he went on, quietly praying the subsequent psalms, Jesus’ next words were: “Adonai ro’i, lo’ ‘ehsar—”The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” It is not difficult to think of Jesus going on with the other psalms in this sequence:

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in…
Show me Your ways, O Lord
Teach me Your paths….
The Lord is my light and my salvation
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life
Of whom shall I be afraid?

If Jesus did pray this short sequence of psalms, it took only a few minutes for him to reach Psalms 31:5, which Luke identifies as his final words on the cross: “Into Your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Editor’s Note: Fr. Patrick Reardon is a well-known author and homilist. His article appears courtesy of the Preachers Institute (preachersinstitute.com).