The mission of St. Michael's is to tend to the flock of our Lord Jesus Christ and to spread the Good News of Christ to those outside the flock. The mission is to be accomplished by:
- Living a full and liturgical and sacramental life
- Proclaiming the Orthodox Christian Faith to all people
- Providing effective charitable and social programs
- Establishing strong spiritual leadership and educational resources
PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Paths of Righteousness, the hiking group launched at St. Michael’s last year under the leadership of Pete Papas and Fr. Sam Smolcic, is eagerly planning their 2020 hiking season! The group will again embark on wilderness hikes of 5 to 7 miles in length on Saturdays on established trails in Westmoreland, Fayette, Somerset, Indiana and Cambria Counties.
Fr. Sam has extensive experience on these trails and will be choosing routes of easy to moderate difficulty. He has twenty-five different hikes in this region mapped out in in his repertoire, all of which inspire praise to our Lord, “whose Name is majestic in all the earth.” (Psalm 8:9)
Adult hikers of both genders are welcome, with the only requirement being that they be fit enough an able to do the hike. Also, hikers with First Aid experience will be enthusiastically welcomed to participate. Hikes will take place approximately once every 6 weeks from April throughy late September. A very preliminary schedule of the hikes is as follows:
1 — April 4 3 — June 27 5 — September 19
2 — May 16 4 — August 8
The first date is fairly certain; subsequent dates are frim, but may be changed subject to weather forecasts.
Contact Pete Papas in person, by phone (412-558-1246), or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in becoming a part of this outdoor fellowship of those who are moved to “praise the Lord from the heavens” and “praise Him in the heights.” (Psalm 148:1) An orientation meeting will take place prior to the first hike.
* The Lenten Triodion is the service book of the Orthodox Church that provides the texts for the divine services for
1) the pre-Lenten weeks of preparation
2) Great Lent, and 3) Holy Week. Very generally speaking, the weeks of preparation, and especially the Sunday gospel readings, serve to exercise the mind, the fasting of Great Lent focuses on the body, and Holy Week’s services exercise the spirit.
The Triodion provides the prayers and directions for us to pray and fast that have been followed by Orthodox Christians, saints and sinners, for many centuries. These are the “what to do” and “how to do” of the pre-Paschal time of year.
Only you can provide the “want to do.” It is not too early to think about the approaching time of preparation for the April 19 celebration of Holy Pascha.
St. Michael's Holy Gospel
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St. Michael's Epistle Reading
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The Beauty Of Our Icons
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Beloved in Christ,
I greet you on the solemn and joyous feast of the Meeting of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ!
From the outset of His earthly life, the Lord Christ takes on the division between the thrice holy God and man in order to heal it. The Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One. The unapproachable One is born in a cave in order to be approached. The One Who requires obedience becomes obedient.
It was “revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Lk 2;26) and, inspired by the same Spirit, he came to the Temple where he met the new-born Messiah, took Him in his arms and said the words which are now chanted each evening at the end of the Orthodox Vespers Service:
“Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Thy people Israel.” (Lk 2:29-32)
At this time as well, Simeon predicted that Jesus would be the “sign which is spoken against” and that He would cause “the fall and the rising of many in Israel.” He also foretold Mary’s sufferings because of her son (Luke 22:34-35). Anna also was present and, giving thanks to God, “she spoke of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Lk 2:38)
Yet how did the elder Simeon and the prophetess Anna recognize the Christ Child? As proclaimed in the Gospel of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, they chose “another way.” That is the key to recognizing the presence of the Lord Christ. It is the noetic way. It is the way of purification and repentance. There is no other way. Simeon and Anna were able to recognize the Christ Child as the Savior because their hearts were pure. They had noetically prepared their hearts for this “meeting.”
In similar fashion, following “another way” is the only way in which we encounter Christ in our daily lives. It is not a matter of happenstance of luck. We encounter Christ in our daily lives when we are living the life He set out for us in the Gospels and our holy Church. This is not a matter of the intellect but a matter of the nous. When we encounter in ourselves deep repentance, we find Christ, the true treasure of our earthly existence. Once we encounter Him, nothing else matters. If we live in poverty, suffering, or poor regard by others, it doesn’t matter, because we have found the “pearl of great price,” Christ the Lord.
Seek Christ with every fiber of your being. Seek Christ with your heart. Forgoing all else, it will be worth the price of our temporary, earthly existence. May the Most Holy Theotokos protect you and the thrice holy God save you.
Yours in Christ,
+ Bishop Thomas
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Ausiliary Bishop, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic
Dear Parish Family
Blessed Feast! House Blessings have begun!
That means that I’d better get busy. But if we look a little deeper and in the spirit of “going to God,” the parish house blessings are all of our business because we are all part of the same family, one whose sole purpose is for all of its members to “go to God.”
In a manner of speaking, the priest visiting our homes is like us going to Confession because it is a seemingly private affair that reflects a very inclusive and communal activity. In antiquity, Confession was a public matter — right out there in front of everyone in the church family. (We recently had an opportunity to experience that.) Parishes used to be made up of tight-knit, interrelated families and neighborhood friends — community. Today, the only thing that might link the actual places where we live to each other, may be that the person we call ‘Father’ occasionally crosses the threshold of the family homes.
Just as the priest hearing your Confession does so in behalf of the whole community, likewise his visit and the blessing of your home is accomplished in behalf of the whole community. It is a link between all of us. Therefore, I need your cooperation in my being responsible for completing the house blessing work.
How can we do that? Discipline will be key to our connection in the house blessing this year. There are about eight weeks available for me to visit us, somewhere between 100 and 120 stops, before Great Lent arrives. This year my intention remains to be not just visiting, but continuing a parish conversation about what matters most — our soul’s going to Christ, the “working out of our salvation,” and the sharing of this “going” and “working” with others.
So here are some practical guidelines that I’m asking you to be aware of for this year’s visits:
1) One goal will be to make optimal use of about an hour in each home.
2) A second goal will be to have the conversation focus on things that matter most — your sharing your thoughts, observations, questions, about being a Christian here at Saint Michael’s; your personal and corporate concerns in life.
3) Dinner visits will not work if all of our homes are to be blessed before Great Lent. (Water, tea, coffee, will be thankfully sufficient).
4) Very importantly, please help with scheduling by not being too concerned with anything more than being sure to ‘book’ your visit as soon as possible. (Call Debbie.)
If you call Debbie and schedule your house blessing your basic work will be done. If you do not call to schedule before this Friday, you will receive a call from the church office phone from Chris Fekos, who made the mistake of asking me what he might do to repay the kindness he has experienced over the lasts three months since he joined our church. I told him it would be great if he could help me schedule appointments. So, beginning this Friday evening, Chris will begin making calls to expedite the scheduling effort.
So, please, call Debbie (724-834-1311) or Fr. John (724-244-1228) to schedule your house blessing or answer the phone when Chris calls.
Let’s make this house blessing season break-through miraculous!