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One Day at a Time This Year

by Dn. Mark Oleynik

Dn. Mark teaches Vacation Bible School participants about the Hours (1st, 3rd, 6th, and 9th) that can be prayed to sanctify the day.

Do you make a checklist of all the things you want accomplish each day? Have you ever noticed that by the end of the day the list seems to be longer than when you started? You’re not alone—overdoing is a social epidemic from which people of all ages can suffer. It seems to me that “do not overdo” may be a healthy commandment which could be added to deal with our modern lifestyle.

Because we want to do so many things so quickly, much of our worry is due to our mistaken view of things. We look too far ahead. The magnitude of life daunts us. We add tomorrow’s task to today’s and then of course the burden becomes too heavy. If we think about it, we truly never have anything to do on any given day but just the bit of God’s will for that day. But what part of daily lives do we dedicate to do God’s will? 

Related: Register online for Sunday School.

Starting with the understanding that we must take care of our families, perform the work that our employer expects, eat, take care of our home, and so forth, we are reminded that the “heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:32). These take up the abundance of the day and fill it with activity. But we also must consider the sin of omission in our daily lives. In Matthew 25, we read that at the Judgement Seat of Christ we will need to account for those things which we did not do. It is not the big things we may have done (and for which we have sought forgiveness) but rather the little things we did not do that leads to our peril.

These could be the calls or visits of help we did not make, the words of cheer we did not speak, the letters we did not write, or the hungry we did not feed—all lost opportunities to do His will due to our inactivity.

Why do we leave so many things undone in our lives? Partly through sheer thoughtlessness, no doubt. Many omit the good deed not through want of heart but through want of thought. And yet it is just that very thoughtlessness which God calls for us to account. However, even more critical may be the emphasis we put on this life. We magnify the insignificants, pour out our energy on things which perish, and ignore the realities that alone count in the eternal scale. We spend our days “working our list” but not working God’s will—the things which call for our most constant care and deepest thought. 

As we begin this ecclesiastical New Year, let’s make our resolution to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Put the emphasis in your daily life on His service and glory and leave nothing undone which the Lord commanded.

Happy New Year!

EXTRA SCOOPS

  • New School Year. Sunday School begins on September 10. We look forward to sharing the teachings and Tradition of the Church to build a firm foundation for our students to lead a life in God’s image. Sunday School supplements and reinforces the work of our parents in the Christian formation of their children. Many thanks to our staff of dedicated teachers for their ministry each week throughout the year. (NOTE: Registration will be conducted online this year. You are asked to enroll your child early for planning purposes.)
  • Sunday School Picnic. Our annual picnic is planned for September 17,
    4:30 p.m., at Circleville Park. All families are encouraged to join in fellowship (and s’mores!). 
  • “Youth Equipped to Serve” Mission Trip. For the middle/high school students, there is a YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) mission trip planned in Pittsburgh this September 29-October 1. Please mark your calendars, as the number of participants may be limited. More details will be provided via the bulletin and website once registration opens.

VBS 2017 Daily News: Friday

EXTRA! BREAKING NEWS! EXTRA!
We Can All Live in an Orthodox World!

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Today, the VBS students continued their exploration of what it means to live in an Orthodox world by focusing on the necessity of building a strong prayer life. This was emphasized with the introduction of the Hours services that are celebrated throughout each day.

Spokespersons for the VBS stated that each day throughout the week the students discussed and learned about what it means to live in an Orthodox world. The focus was not on the fact that the whole world is not Orthodox but rather that through the wisdom of the Church we have be given a discipline to conduct our lives as much as God has provided and made us capable of doing so.

To be sure, none of what started to happen this week can be accomplished overnight. There is no “instant” formula for teaching children about God. Patience and, above all, consistency are essential in attaining the desired results.

True Orthodoxy is reflected in a way of life which is practiced in the home on a regular basis. To have children live one way at home and then suddenly to expect them to act differently in the church is an unrealistic approach.

There is no reason to be afraid to set high standards for our children. When we have high expectations, children not only gain self-esteem by meeting those expectations, but they come to love and respect those who set them.

Just as we must breathe to live, and we breathe all the time, we should pray all the
time. Every time we breathe we can remember God. The Matins service says, “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.” Let it be so for us and our children.

To Be Like Mary

Today the students learned that we are strive to be like the Virgin Mary—the Theotokos —and ask her to pray for us. She “held heaven” in her body and in her soul. She loved God and kept His commandments. We can be like her if we put only good things into our hearts and souls. We should put all the good things of the Church into our “cup”, our minds and hearts. (Ask you favorite VBS kid about the today’s “cup” lesson.)

The Christian Difference

The Christian is dlfferent because he is “in Christ”. He walks with Christ every day. St. Peter wrote about the Christians saying,

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous life.”

FPO — For Parents Only

Many thanks to the parents who encouraged their children’s participation in this year’s VBS. Our prayer for you is that you may guide your children through prayer and lead them by your example each moment of your daily life. Special thanks to the teachers. kitchen helpers. teens, and all the helping hands. Have a great summer!

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2017 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2017 Daily News: Thursday

Every Hour and Every Day It’s Time to Pray!
Students Learn to Offer Prayers Unceasingly

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Today, the VBS students continued their exploration of what it means to live in an Orthodox world by focusing on the necessity of building a strong prayer life. This was emphasized with the introduction of the Hours services that are celebrated throughout each day.

The daily Hours services correspond to the Old Testament services beginning each of the four “watches” of the day. in New Testament times, these services have been enhanced through their association with various events in the life of our Savior and of the Church.

The First Hour commemorates the bringing of Christ before Pilate, which took place in the early morning hours. The Third Hour commemorates Pilates’s judgment of Christ and His mocking and scourging, and it is also the same hour when the Holy Spirit upon the disciples (Acts 2:3-15). The Sixth Hour remembers Christ’s voluntary Passion and His Crucifixion on Golgotha. Finally, the Ninth Hour commemorates Christ’s death on the Cross and its significance for our salvation.

The Hours all follow the same structure, but within this arrangement each contains different psalms and prayers which relate to the event commemorated in that Hour and which evoke correspondingly different feelings in the heart of the reader or listener.

Christians are to pray to God not just on Sunday mornings, but constantly, sanctifying time by offering prayer throughout the day.

On Having a Prayer Rule

“Yes, it is good to have a prayer rule on account of our weakness so that on the one hand we do not give in to laziness, and on the other hand we restrain our enthusiasm to its proper measure. The greatest practitioners of prayer kept a prayer rule. They would always begin with established prayers, and if during the course of these a prayer started on its own, they would put aside the others and pray that prayer. If this is what the great practitioners of prayer did, all the more reason for us to do so. Without established prayers, we would not know how to pray at all.”

— St. Theophan

What’s the Buzz?

This is not Buzzfeed, but it is still a buzz. Here are a few comments from this year’s VBS students:

  • “I’ve never been to Matins but now I want to go.”
  • “The food is terrific!”
  • “I Ieamed that Jesus is our light.”
  • “Fr. Arseny prayed for other people who did not like him.”

FPO — For Parents Only

  • Ask your child what time should we pray.
  • Tomorrow is our last day of VBS.

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2017 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2017 Daily News: Wednesday

Our Light at Night is Jesus
Students Attend Vespers to Start Their VBS Day

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Having come to the setting of the sun, the students reached the midpoint of VBS. Today the students continued their examination of what it means to live in an Orthodox world with the study of Jesus being our light in darkness. The focus was on the reality that through Christ the captivity of the soul has come to an end—the darkness is dispersed by the Light of Christ.

A highlight of the day was the attendance of the students at Vespers. In the Orthodox Church the liturgical day begins in the evening with the setting of the sun. This practice follows the Biblical account of
creation: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Gen. 1:5).

The Vespers service in the Church begins with the chanting of the evening psalm: “…the sun knows it’s time for setting, Thou makest darkness and it is night…” (Psalm 104:19-20). This psalm, which glorifies God’s creation of the world, is man’s very first act of worship, for man first of all meets God as Creator.

The service of Vespers takes us through creation, sin, and salvation in Christ. It leads us to the meditation of God’s word and the glorification of his love for men. It instructs us and allows us to praise God for the particular events or persons whose memory is celebrated and made present to us in the Church. It prepares us for the sleep of the night and the dawn of the new day to
come. On the evening before the Divine Liturgy, it begins our movement into the most perfect communion with God in the sacramental mysteries.

A True Hero—The Life of Fr. Arseny Recalled

A real hero for Christ, Fr. Arseny, lived not so long ago in Communist Russia. Today the students learned how prison guards called him names, hit him, and would not let him wear his priest’s clothing. But prison leaders could not stop him from praying and he prayed for those who held him captive because he knew that they were very sad because they did not have the light of Christ in them. However, through his witness he was able to lead others to Christ even in the most dire and dark circumstances. Truly, the Light of Christ has shown forth in Fr. Arseny.

It’s a Group Thing

This year’s VBS students have been grouped by some of the names of the liturgical services being studied throughout the week. Ask your favorite VBS student their group and when their service is celebrated.

FPO — For Parents Only

  • Our dinners are especially kid friendly. Please encourage them to eat all their fruits and vegetables!

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2017 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2017 Daily News: Tuesday

Rise and Shine!
Students Sing Early Morning Praises

STATE COLLEGE, PA — What a beautiful morning! The second day of Holy Trinity’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) was action packed with learning from the start. The students have really started to get in the groove of understanding how each part of the day has special meaning in the Church and to them.

Todays’ session was focused on the morning services of Matins. Learning points throughout the day emphasized what morning mean to them as Christians. They also discussed the early rising myrrhbearing women who went to the tomb of Jesus. Remembering and praying to God—what a great way to start the day!

Worship—A Full Body Experience

Being a part of the Orthodox Church means we worship not only with our minds
and hearts but also with our whole bodies. When we use our bodies to pray it helps us to “wake up” to God, just like getting out of bed helps us to wake up in the morning. When we use our bodies to pray, it reminds us that our bodies are made for God and that He made our bodies.

Today, the students learned the proper way to make the sign of the cross (see more info below), the different types of kneeling and prostrations, and other physical ways (such as smell and taste) we worship and experience God’s presence. Don’t forget to work with your child so they don’t forget these good habits.

The Sign of the Cross

The sign of the Cross is made with the right hand. The thumb and the next two fingers of the right hand are joined together at their tips to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The other two fingers are pressed down to the palm of the hand, signifying the two natures of Christ, both divine and human.

The movement involves touching the forehead, the upper abdomen, the right shoulder, and then the left shoulder, and praying: “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The act is accompanied by an inclination of the head and body.

We mark ourselves with the sign to indicate our acceptance and concurrence with words, prayers, or actions especially in worship. We can make the sign of the Cross whenever we wish, both when we are in Church and when we are elsewhere.

FPO — For Parents Only

  • Question for you to discuss with your child before VBS tomorrow:  Does your child cross himself/herself before lunch at school?
  • Vespers begins @ 5:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2017 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2017 Daily News: Monday

Holy Trinity’s VBS Opens for the Summer
Students Learn That Our Lives Are to Revolve Around Prayer

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Today during the opening session of the Vacation Bible School (VBS) being conducted at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, the students were introduced to the VBS theme of Living in an Orthodox World. This year’s VBS will utilize music to educate and instill a desire for prayer and the liturgical services of the Holy Orthodox Church. Various non-liturgical music will be taught which contain many prayers, hymns, and melodies from the services. This music is a “bridge” for the children to cross over from secular experience to the liturgical worship of the Church.

An essential part of the week will be the participation of the children in the liturgical services about which they will be learning. Some key objectives of the VBS include:

  • Communicate that the Church’s most important task is to worship God—the Holy Trinity.
  • Encourage an active role (of prayer) in the Church services.
  • Teach that our lives should revolve around the prayer life of the Church community.
  • Teach and encourage an Orthodox vision of structured personal prayer life.

Students Learn About the Great Litany

As an introduction to a personal prayer life the students learned how to pray not only for themselves but the whole world—God’s creation! This was accomplished by discussing each of the petitions of the Great Litany which is the opening litany for many of our Church services.

Lord, Have Mercy—Again and Again!

Why do we ask for mercy? St. Symeon of Thessalonica answers:

“This intercession is appropriate, since we should not ask for anything but mercy, as we have neither boldness nor access to offer anything as our own, nor to request anything as such So, as sinners and condemned through sin we cannot, nor dare, say anything to our loving Master, except ‘have mercy.'”

Likewise, Paul tells us,

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” — Hebrews 4:16

FPO — For Parents Only

  • Question for you to discuss with your child before VBS tomorrow: How is the Great Litany like a ladder?
  • On Wednesday, there will be Vespers at 5:00 p.m. Please try to bring your children early so that we can pray together. Dinner and VBS will follow immediately.
  • Please be prompt in picking up your child each day at 8:00 p.m. Don’t be late!

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2017 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2016 Daily News: Friday

VBS Friday 1VBS Kids Now Fully Staffed
“I Just Wanna be a Sheep” Now Latest Craze

STATE COLLEGE, PA — It was pizza day and as the VBS kids met for the last time this year, they gathered with our Archbishop Melchisedek to hear his words on being the shepherd of  a flock.  It was stated that his flock is different from flocks of sheep that the kids had the chance watch yesterday (see article below).

As part of their discussion, the students learned that just as a shepherd carries a staff to direct his flock for protection of his herd in case of danger a bishop carries a staff as a symbol of being our shepherd.  Additionally, the students found that the top of a bishop’s staff (crozier) is made to resemble two serpents’ heads, recalling the Saviors’ words: “Be ye wise as serpents”. As a serpent each year forces its way through thorny plants to shed its old skin, so also must the bishop lead others and follow himself along the thorny path which leads of the renewal of our souls.  (Ed. Note: Students made staffs this to help them remember Psalm 23.)

VBS Friday 2As the week began with the students uttering the first words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd” today the VBS concluded with the affirmation, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The sheep are content and “at home” with the shepherd—and want to stay with Him forever.

Sheep Farm Tour Shows VBS Kids Life as a Sheep

On Thursday, the Holy Trinity VBS took it first ever field trip to a sheep farm in Sunbury, PA.  After a 1.5 hour bus trip, the students were greeted by an array of farm animals but mostly by a whole lot of sheep.

VBS Friday 3During the tour the students were able to pet the sheep, walk through the pastures, and learn about a sheep’s necessities (water & salt) and some of the dangers (copper, falling over). It was particularly fun to see the shepherd Caroline and her dog gather the sheep and run them back and forth – and how well the  sheep followed the shepherds commands.

At the end of the tour each student was given a piece of wool from one of the sheep as a keepsake.  All the “sheep” returned home safely and happily.

FPO — For Parents Only

VBS Friday 4It was once again a great joy and pleasure to be with your children this week.  It was a bit hectic but it was fun and they are going to be amazing sheep.  As much as possible include Psalm 23 in your daily prayers and with your children.  Knowing the meaning behind the words will give them great comfort and peace.  Thanks!

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2016 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2016 Daily News: Thursday

Students Take a Trip to a Sheep Farm
VBS Kids See First-hand What Sheep Are Like!

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Today there was no issue of the VBS Daily News because our reporters were in the field—literally. Here are some pictures from the remote location.

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FPO — For Parents Only

  • On Friday, there will be Vespers at 5:00 p.m. Please try to bring your children early so that we can pray together. Dinner and VBS will follow immediately. Additionally, our bishop will be visiting and will share some “shepherding” stories with the kids.

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2016 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2016 Daily News: Wednesday

Students Take a Walk Through a Dark … 
VBS Kids say they had no fear of evil!

VBS Wed 2STATE COLLEGE, PA — Today the VBS students reached the midway point of their week long study adventure of Psalm 23.  To start the day the “sheep” attended vespers which was followed by another great day of learning, singing, games, and fun.

Today the students discussed how shepherds lead their sheep to different pastures depending on the time of year. To get to the mountaintops in the summer takes the sheep through the valleys.  The valleys can be a dangerous and dark place for sheep.

The students also spent class time learning about how God prepares and takes care of us. Before sheep head to the high country, the shepherd goes ahead—checking out the pastures, pulling out the poisonous weeds, removing any dangerous objects.  He brings salt and minerals to set out in the pasture.  Only after the table is prepared are the sheep brought in.

Just like the shepherd, we know that Christ goes before us in every situation.  Because of all Christ has done—he was tempted as we are, he suffered, he grieved, we are confident that he understands us through and through.  Christ has gone before and prepared a table for us—in plain view of our enemies.

VBS Wed 3What’s the Big Idea?

Today’s verses teach us that no matter what God is always with us, He has all the right tools to help us, and He is a just God.

Can You Repeat That Please?

Here are the verses studied today and the children are expected to memorize:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”

FPO — For Parents Only

  • VBS Wed 1On Thursday we will visit a sheep farm. Please arrive at the church by 4:15 so that we may leave promptly @ 4:30.
    • Please pack a dinner for your child.
    • The farm team is expecting a drizzle so you may want to pack a jacket.
    • Students are to wear shoes or boots (NO flip flops/open toes) as we will be in the fields and barns.
    • We should arrive back at the church ~9:30 p.m.
  • On Friday, there will be Vespers at 5:00 p.m..  Please try to bring your children early so that we can pray together.  Dinner and VBS will follow immediately.  Additionally, our bishop will be visiting and will share some “shepherding” stories with the kids.

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2016 Vacation Bible School homepage.

VBS 2016 Daily News: Tuesday

Students Step it Up!
The Path of Righteousness is Now to be Followed

VBS Tue 1STATE COLLEGE, PA — Today the VBS kids found that being a sheep can be a hard life.  Each day a sheep is faced with danger, hunger, and fear of the unknown.  The students learned that it a sheep’s life is not different from their own life in that respect.

Sheep are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible.  A shepherd cares for the sheep, providing safety, nourishment and love to his flock.  In Psalm 23 David describes God as the shepherd and we humans as His sheep. The prophets and New Testament writers continued with this imagery. Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.  To be called sheep was affirming our worth and importance to God.

The students also learned how sheep are creatures of habit.  Left alone, they would happily follow the same trails, quickly turning paths into deep ruts and ravines.  A wise shepherd keeps his sheep on the move, shifting from pasture to pasture and working out a pattern of grazing that allows the pastures to thrive.

VBS Tue 2We as humans also prefer to do our “own thing.”  We are creatures of habit as well, even self-destructive ones.  We don’t want to be led, we don’t want to follow – we want to do it our way!  But Christ calls us to follow Him, to be willing to deny ourselves and to put others first.

He calls us to be willing to go against the flow and to set aside our desire to be the boss.  He calls us to always have an attitude of gratitude and to be obedient to the Shepherd’s will for us.

Can You Repeat that Please?

VBS Tue 3Below are the verses we studied today and the children are to memorize: “He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.”

FPO — For Parents Only

  • Question for you to discuss with your child before VBS tomorrow: What is the difference between justice and revenge?
  • On Wednesday, there will be Vespers at 5:00 p.m.  Please try to bring your children early so that we can pray together.  Dinner and VBS will follow immediately.
  • VBS Tue 4On Thursday we will visit a sheep farm.  Please arrive at the church by 4:15 p.m. so that we may leave promptly.
    • Please pack a dinner for your child.
    • The farm team is expecting a drizzle so you may want to pack a jacket.
    • Students are to wear shoes or boots (NO flip flops/open toes) as we will be in the fields and barns.
    • We should arrive back at the church ~9:30 p.m.

Learn More

For more recaps, pictures, and information, visit the 2016 Vacation Bible School homepage.