To join the "Bell-ringer Team" pleasespeak to Lisa Tereshko
Palm Sunday April 9th 2017
September 14, The Feast Of the Holy Cross
Each year on September 14 (ending September 18) the Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of “The Elevation of the Honorable &and Life-giving Cross.” This is one of the great feasts of the Church year, and one which has an important historical background. Although one or two of the hymns for the day refer obliquely to the vision of the cross in the heavens, the actual commemoration is not that of Constantine’s vision before his battle with Maxentius on October 28, 312. On that occasion, while he was in doubt about the outcome of the impending battle for Italy, he saw in the heavens the arms of the cross stretching far and wide, and the words. “In This Conquer.” The battle won, he did begin to aid Christians, and ended by being baptized himself.
Nor does the feast as celebrated refer to the finding of the cross in Jerusalem by Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, about the year 326, according to the tradition. A great many stories sprang up about this event, but Constantine did erect a great church over the Holy Sepulchre, and in it the cross was enshrined in a reliquary. This church stood for three centuries before it was destroyed by the Persians, during their series of campaigns against the Empire. Whatever were the early feasts observed in Jerusalem in honor of the Finding of the Cross, they became overshadowed by the events of the reign of the Emperor Heraclius, which are what the Feast as it is today does commemorate.
When Heraclius was crowned Emperor on October 5, 610, after the overthrow of the unworthy Phocas, the provinces on all sides were overrun by the Persians, Avars, and Slavs. He started on a series of internal reforms, such as canceling the dole of grain, which enabled a great many able-bodied loafers in Constantinople to spend their time attending the circus and games instead of doing something useful, and in trying to improve the finances of the government. He embarked on a series of campaigns in due course of time to re-establish Byzantine rule in the neighboring parts of the Empire. The Persians had for some years been harassing Syria and Asia Minor, and in 613 they attacked the city of Damascus. The next year they took Jerusalem, and left a garrison in charge of the city. The population revolted as soon as the main body of the invading army left, and slaughtered the garrison. This brought back the conquerors, who are said to have killed 90,000 of the inhabitants, sparing only the Jews who aided them in the conquest. They took the Patriarch Zacharias and the case containing the relics of the cross back to Persia with them.
This event was regarded by all the Christians as the greatest possible disaster, since they regarded the sacred relics as the palladium of the city. Added to this was the insolence of Chosroes, King of the Persians, who taunted the Christians with their religion and their Lord, who so obviously had failed to deliver them. For the next eight years Heraclius was busy with the Avars, and was not able to go out against the Persians until 622. He waged six campaigns between 622 and 627, and finally defeated Chosroes and his generals decisively, but at great cost. The Empire was in great danger: in 626 the Persians were in Asia Minor right across the Bosporus from the City, while their barbarian allies were encamped on the north in Thrace. But Heraclius managed to fight them all off, and restore some control.
He brought back to Jerusalem the Patriarch and the relics of the cross, which had not been molested. The populace demanded to see and venerate the relics, and accordingly they were solemnly elevated for all to see and reverence. The Emperor took a part of the sacred wood back to Constantinople with him. From the time of the finding of the cross by the Empress Helena, small bits of the wood were sent all over the world as most sacred relics, and the part which remained, although large, was still portable.
The hard-won peace of 626 left both the Persian anti Byzantine empires exhausted. At this very time a new danger appeared on the horizon: both Chosroes and Heraclius received letters from the Arab Mohammed, who invited them to adopt Islam, his newly founded faith. They both declined, but their contacts with the Moslems were to be many and difficult. In 629 Arab attacks on the empires began, and in 635 Damascus was taken, and Jerusalem in 637. Heraclius went back to Jerusalem and removed the sacred relics to Constantinople for safe keeping, but the Patriarch remained behind to greet the new rulers.
The ceremony of Elevation as performed in Church is actually a patriotic one, with prayers for the Rulers and their people, for Church and State, and for their establishment and preservation. The key to the observance is to be found in the Hymn for the Feast, the Troparion, which runs as follows:
“O Lord, save thy people and bless thine inheritance: To our Rulers grant victories over the barbarians, And by thy Cross protect thine own Estate.”
To the Byzantines, their Empire was the civilized world, the Oikoumene, the habitation of law and order; outside the pale were the barbarians, the people who spoke some other language that no one could understand, and whose ways were violent and strange. The Christian religion was a part of this, the vehicle of salvation and civilization. This is the heritage that was transmitted down through the ages by the Byzantine Empire, the struggle for civilization against the power of the destroyers. When we celebrate the feast today, we should have this in mind; it is apt that the Feast of the Cross is always a Fast. This paradox is striking, but accentuates the understanding our ancestors had that victory comes hard, and that nothing good is achieved without sacrifice.
Our Parish Council Meeting Observed (Meeting of August 15, 2017; reported by Fr. John)
Our Parish Council gathered this past Tuesday evening, August 15, for our regular monthly meeting which, at least according to the clock, was rather irregular. First, I am thankful that we have leaders who we can trust to be attentively concerned for the good administration of our church. While long meetings are not an indication of effectiveness (in fact, the opposite is more often the case), they will sometimes occur, and last Tuesday was such a time. It was remarkable that the attendees equanimously maintained their focus for more than three hours of conversation and deliberation that covered the broad spectrum of our church life.
“Follow the money,” is a phrase that might apply, or perhaps more accurately, follow the lack of money, as our financial report revealed a shortfall to our budget. As may be noted in the Financial Summary below, there is a sizable difference between our income to date this year and that of last year’s income, or even to this year’s budgeted income. The good news is that at this point in time we have a reserve that will allow us to continue to pay our bills and maintain our facility in a timely and responsible manner until we can determine what action may be taken to reverse the trend of the Summary Report.
St. Michael’s Financial Summary Year to Date as of July 31, 2017
This Year Last Year Budget
Income $130,568.71 $150,285.75 $139,628.30
Expenses $153,488.24 $166,180.24 $168,128.45
Net Income/ (Loss) $(22,919.53) $(15,894.49) $(28,500.15)
(This report is a summary of our financial position through the month of July. Updated Monthly Financial Summary Reports will appear in the bulletin. Questions may be addressed to Treasurer Christian Sam or Assistant Treasurer Jeff Curry.)
Following the financial report, the meeting was cruising along rather nicely until we arrived at our facility maintenance report, the details of which required our extended time and attention. (Thank you to Gus Flizanes for leading this work.) While all aspects of the condition of our infrastructure are being addressed, how this fits into our financial planning will require our prayerful and wise attention. Here’s a brief, enumerated summary of Gus’ report:
1) All four of our facility electrical boxes were assessed as unsafe and in need of replacement at the cost of $1,100 per box. Two have been replaced to date.
2) Non-catastrophic termite damage has been discovered in the basement which will cost in the range of $3,000 to repair.
3) Our radon gas levels are higher than desirable (mostly in the basement which affects the rest of the building to a lesser degree). $1,500 has been spent for testing with resolution estimates forthcoming.
4) A less than alarming presence of mold has been discovered in the basement. Further testing will be done with recommendations forthcoming.
Recognizing that being alive means being challenged as to how best to live, let us thank God for His blessings, especially those that encourage us to grow in love for each other and trust in Him through Whom all things are possible.
Please do your best to keep your pledges up to date and, if possible, increase your generosity to God and His Church as we work together for His glory and our salvation.
(Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United for Service)
FOCUS Pittsburgh is collecting clothes (clean and in good condition, please) for the very, very needy people (many homeless) in the Hill District neighborhood of the city. Clothing including coats, jackets, sweaters, trousers, shirts, blouses and other tops, shoes, handbags, gloves, scarves, etc., are all gratefully received and appreciated.
There is a drop-off area at the top of the stairs at the main entrance for those who would contribute. The contact people for this project are Marilyn Elias and Miriam Yazge.
ABOUT BISHOP THOMAS
His Grace, the Right Reverend Thomas (Joseph) is a bishop of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, serving in the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic. READ MORE
Dinner with Bishop Thomas, Father John and Deacon James - 10/25/13
Print and Read September 17th 2017 Bulletin...CLICK HERE
Thank you to our new
“DOWN TO EARTH TEAM” Volunteers
Rock Zone—Jill & Anthony Crowe Bell Corner—Sara Armanious Hedge Wall— Main Entance Left—Christine Mansour, Carolyn Hill Main Entrance Right—Barli Ross “Cornerstone Sign Wall—Tom Sproch Holy Cross Wall—the Wetzel family Main Church Sign and Tree—Diana Lammert Fellowship Hall Entrance Left—Stephanie & Ted Zarras Fellowship Hall Entrance Right—Ted & Stephanie Zarras The Hedge Wall - Rick Shaheen Family
The next meeting of AMEN is Saturday, September 30th at Bean & Baguette, 250 W.Otterman Street, Greensburg, PA 15601 at 9:00am.
Church School Welcome / Open House / Registration will be held on Sunday, September 20.
If you would serve on the Church School Team as a teacher, substitute or assistant, sign on with Keira Sisley or Fotini Wetzel.
PANCAKE & SAUSAGE BREAKFAST to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)
Saturday, September 23 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM Adults: $5 Children: $3
See Michele Gajewski or Paulette Sproch for tickets.
SCHOOL KITS PROJECT
A special thank you to all who donated the school supplies for the orphans living in international refugee camps.
Special thanks to Connie Volchko for coordinating, collecting and mailing the tote bags. This year we collected 60 bags of school supplies for the I.nternational O.rthodox C.hristian C.harities outreach project.
Thanks for supporting this worthwhile projectof the Antiochian Women.
Those who attend our “Food on the Hill” luncheon are also the same people who make use of the generous donations made to “Caleb’s Cupboard,” (which is located at the front entrance of the church). If everyone brought in one item of canned food, or a paper or hygiene product, it would keep Caleb’s Cupboard full so that there is something for those who attend “Food on the Hill” each month. The participants are most grateful for the continuous generosity of food, fellowship and donations. Thank you to the parishioners who consistently give of their time, their culinary skills, their financial and material donations to make these ministries possible.
"Food On The Hill" WEATHER CANCELLATION POLICY - When weather causes Hempfield or Greensburg Salem School District to close for the day; "Food On The Hill" will NOT serve lunch that day! Please refer to TV & Radio Newscasts when in doubt. Thank You!
We are seeking new members who would be interested in learning how to prepare the Memorial Wheat. We have a group of women who currently fulfill this important function and are willing to teach anyone who may be interested in becoming part of this ministry team. For more information, contact Val Flizanes or call the church office.
The big chest you see as you come through the main entrance of our church, is a simple way to help our hungry neighbors. Just bring in a few cans of food or other unperishables when you come to church and you will making a difference for someone.
Please check that the goods you bring are “reasonably” close in time to the expiration date. (While we know the food lasts longer than that date, it is not always easy to tell how much longer.)
I.nternational O.rthodox C.hristian C.harities
It is unfortunate that IOCC is one among many charitable organizations that are never lacking for work. A glance around our globe supplies us with sufficient evidence of human beings who are suffering horrendously and are in dire need of help and aid in their affliction. IOCC has proven itself to be one of the most effective deliverers of that aid.
One statistical bit of evidence of IOCC’s efficiency is the fact that every $1 that is donated to IOCC in charitable contributions is leveraged and matched by $7 in funding from the governments, philanthropic foundations and other sources that support IOCC. That means your $1 becomes $8. Your $10 become $80. Your $100 become $800.
For information on IOCC and how to become part of the worthwhile work being done, visit www.iocc.org.
Please CLICK HERE for the form to provide us with your information. Or, see the form on the new back page of the weekly bulletin. We want to serve you better and we need your help. Please understand that we will protect yur privacy from the standpoint of the church. We will not show or distribute your email address!
CLICK HERE For Daily and Other Special Orthodox Prayers and More
CLICK HERE for phone and email information of your parish council members
You May Find the Text of the Divine Liturgy beginning on the bottom page 91 of the Service Book (gold embossed cross on the reddish brown cover) or in the green-spiral-bound book; sheet music can be found in the 8.5” x 11” large, spiral-bound booklet.
At the Kiss of Peace,our practice is for each of us to greet the person to our right and left with the bowing of our head, hands held in a prayerful clasp or crossed on the chest, while offering each other the Christian greeting, “Christ is in our midst!” and responding, “He is and shall be!”
Please remember that Holy Communionis reserved for those Chrismated Orthodox Christians who have appropriately prepared themselves through prayer, fasting and Confession to receive the Holy Mysteries of the Church. The bread (anti’doron, which means ’in place’ of the gifts) which we share after Communion and at the end of the Liturgy is for all.
Being mindful we are in church, let us always remember to…
...be quiet and attentive.Let us sing, pray, stand., sit, kneel and respond where responses are indicated. Let us not talk, look around, text message, play games, etc. Especially let us work at this in the Communion line and when in line to venerate the Cross and depart. If we cannot hear the post-Communion prayers being chanted during our departure, we are way too noisy.
...refrain from eating, drinking or chewing gum (most obviously and especially if you will be receiving Holy Communion).
...stay put. Except in rare cases, there are few of us who cannot stay in one location for two hours (usually less, for most of us).