The Vine May Rejoice, Vine bearing the unfading Bloom Xai=re, Blastou= a0mara/ntou klh=ma

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1 The Vine Rejoice, Vine bearing the unfading Bloom Xai=re, Blastou= a0mara/ntou klh=ma The Monthly Newsletter of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Scranton, pa XRISTOS ANESTH! CHRIST IS RISEN!! االمسيیح قامم حقا قامم Воскресе! Христосъ The glorious hymns of the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy and Great Saturday cry to us saying: Today Hades groans and cries aloud: My dominion has been swallowed up; the Shepherd has been crucified and He has raised Adam. I am deprived of those whom I once ruled; in my strength I devoured them, but now I have cast them forth. He who was crucified has emptied the tombs; the power of death has no more strength. Glory to Thy Cross, O Lord, and to Thy Resurrection. 2 Through this hymn we see how Christ, through death, trampled down the gates of sin and death, and pulled Adam, along with all of us, from the depths of Hades. St. Epiphanios of Cyprus says wonderfully that when Christ descended into Hades before His Resurrection, He carried with Him the Cross, not as a symbol of death, but as a symbol of victory. This is why the Cross of Christ has become a most precious thing to us Orthodox Christians. It is not, as it was once put to me by another Christian, that we worship a dead Savior. Never! It is that our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, through His crucifixion, destroyed that which He, as man, encountered as well death. Quoting from Psalm 23 and Psalm 67 (Septuagint), St. Epiphanios shows us how awesome of a moment is was when Christ entered into Hades and delivered from the chains of death those righteous who were held there: The blinding bolt of lightening from above darkened the countenances of the hostile powers of Hades and they heard thunder-like voices and the [angelic] host commanding, Lift up your gates, o ye princes! Do not merely open them, but lift them from the foundations, uproot 3 them, remove them so that they never again be closed Wherefore O princes, though till now ye have wickedly held sway over those fallen from the ages past, from henceforth ye shall not be their rulers, nor rulers of others, but only of your own selves, but not even of yourselves. For Christ the Heavenly Door is present. Prepare ye the way for Him that rideth upon the setting of Hades. Lord is His name and the pathways leading forth from the gates of death are those of the Lord s Lord. Through Christ s glorious Resurrection we are once again able to taste of the sweetest joys of Paradise. Adam, through the New Adam, was set free, along with all of us, if we will only choose to be free; to live a Christ-like life of crucifixion of our passions and the resurrection of the virtues which give us the Grace of the Holy Spirit, Who will guide us is all truth unto Eternal Life. St. Paul, speaking to the Ephesians, admonishes us saying: Now that He ascended, what is it except that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? The One Who descended is the same also Who ascended above all the heavens, in order that He might fill all things (Eph.4:9). May we, through our striving to live as true Christians, not merely by name, be filled with the Uncreated Light of Christ through His most awesome, glorious, life giving, and light giving Resurrection. Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Fr. Konstantine Eleftherakis

2 The Vine Vol. 2 Issue 4 Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church 505 North Washington Ave. Scranton, PA Tel: * Fax: Website: Parish Priest - Rev. Fr. Konstantine Eleftherakis Cell * 2011 Parish Council George Vaitsopoulos President Sophia Vaitsopoulos Treasurer Demetrios Vaitsopoulos Assistant Treasurer Andrew Witko Secretary Demetrios Scantzos John Moutsakis Juana Chappen Dr. Stelios Galanakis Office Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-3:00pm Please call to make an appointment. Normal Weekly Services Wednesdays Paraklesis to the 6:00pm unless otherwise noted. Saturdays Great 5:00pm Sundays 8:45am Divine 10:00am * Fr. s personal cell phone. Please call Church number first during office hours. May 2011 Liturgical Schedule Sundays May 1 st, 15 th, 22 nd, 29 th 8:45 followed by Divine 10:00am Please Note: On Sunday May 8 th, there will be no services at our parish due to Fr. Konstantine being away. Parishioners are asked to attend Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection Monastery or at another local Orthodox parish. Saturdays May 21 st, 28 th Great 5:00pm. Wednesdays May 18 th, 25 th Paraklesis to the 6:00pm Friday May 20 th Great 5:00pm Saturday May 21 st Sts. Konstantine & Helen 8:30am followed by Divine Liturgy Please see Weekly Bulletin for most up to date Liturgical Schedule 2

3 News, Recent, and Upcoming Events in the Life of our Community Interested in having your Business Advertised in our Monthly Bulletin or on our new Website?? Please consider sponsoring these two means of communication to offset the costs incurred. Please contact the Church Office for further information Stewardship Commitments Please be sure to fill out and send in your 2011 Stewardship Commitment Form. It is imperative that we receive a form from all parishioners of the community. When calculating the number of stewards, needs of the Church, etc. we will be using these forms as a guide. No matter how you are giving your stewardship (weekly, monthly, etc.) you are asked to fill out a form to be on the list of the current year s stewards. Please Note: There are still many parishioners who have not sent in a Stewardship Commitment Form. Please be aware that only those who send in a completed form will be considered stewards for the present year. A form is included below for your convenience. May God bless all our efforts in properly supporting our community! 2011 Current List of pledging members Please note: This list is not synonymous, nor does it indicate, members in good spiritual and/or financial standing with the parish. Jeremiah & Tera Andrews James & Hareklia Scantzos Total Pledged Amount: $20,860 Constantine & Emmanuelle Barry Ron Jaghab Average Pledge: $870 Elaine & Stan Blondek Stephen & Sarah Carellas George & Cassie Carros Juana Chappen Fr. Konstantine & Presbytera Maria Eleftherakis Sophia & Jerry Fives Steve, Vasiliki, & Maria Koroneos Alexander Lalos Lucille O Boyle Anastasios Rigalos & Maria Stakias Lisa Toole Sara Toole Nick Tsioles Demetrios & Eleni Vaitsopoulos George & Debbie Vaitsopoulos Gus Vlassis Andrew & Elizabeth Witko Edie Witko Sophie White Dimitri & Daphne Zacharopoulos 3

4 Adult Education PLEASE NOTE: Adult Education Classes will resume after Bright Week. Information will be forthcoming as to the start date and topic. Parish Bookstore We are in the process of beginning a parish bookstore. We should be up and running sometime before the festival. Anyone who would like make a donation to help further this ministry, please contact Fr. Konstantine at the Church Office. Festival Preparation The final leg of Festival Preparation will be underway after Bright Week. Dates and times, along with foods being prepared, will be announced in the weekly bulletin, noted after the Divine Liturgy, and placed on a sign-up sheet in the Social Hall. PLEASE support our Festival by offering your time and talents! In addition, a sign-up sheet for volunteering at the actual Festival is included in this month s bulletin for your convenience. Website Updates Our parish website is still in the process of being built and updated, but there is much that has been done. If you have not already done so, please go to for parish information, Orthodox Christian articles, videos, audio, etc. and a full calendar of events. In the near future we will have all 2011 Festival information online. If you have any suggestions or ideas regarding the website, or if you would like to make a donation to help offset the incurred cost, please contact Fr. Konstantine in the church office. Save the Date! Parish Paschal Pilgrimage to St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery in Roscoe N.Y. Thursday May 26 th 2011 Departure from Church at 8:00am SHARP. Because the Fathers have generously set the entire day aside for our community, all those interested are asked to RSVP by placing your name(s) on the sign-up sheet in the social hall and/or contacting Fr. Konstantine. More information will be provided regarding travel arrangements, etc. once we have a definite number of participants. Please note, that this is an official parish event and will not be made open to the general local Orthodox Christian community. 4

5 Come and See 2011 ANNUNCIATION GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH CONFIDENTIAL STEWARDSHIP COMMITMENT FORM Please mail this form back to the church Attention Stewardship Ministry Family Name: We ask ALL parishioners to please send in this form. Our list of stewards will be taken from these forms. Address: City: State Zip Home Telephone: In gratitude for God s blessings I/we make the following commitment to the ministries of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church: $10 weekly ($520) $15 weekly ($780) $20 weekly ($1040) $50 weekly ($2600) Other Come and See God work through your talents, skills and experience, as well as your financial support. Your offering to Christ and His Church can do as much as you empower it to do. We give to Christ and His Church not according to our means but according to our love for Him. Please note that the various expenses, and ministries of our parish costs approximately $9500 monthly. Please have this in mind when prayerfully reflecting on your stewardship commitment to your church. An annual Festival cannot (and should not) be the sole provider of the needs of a parish. CONFIDENTIAL: May not be Distributed or Reproduced / For Authorized Parish Personnel Only 5

6 Stewardship message: May Help Wanted With Pascha still fresh in our minds and hearts, I am sending a "help wanted" request for this monthly message. I am looking for one or two stewards to assist with some of the duties of the stewardship committee. The duties involved are mostly discussion and some interpersonal - making contacts with fellow parishioners and getting the message out as prescribed by our Archdiocese of what it means to become an active steward of the church. At this point, most ideas can be discussed during the fellowship/coffee hour after Divine Liturgy. It would be great to see one or more who have been away from a regular church life schedule come forward. We want you - we need you! As not too many "Help Wanted" ads would read... Pay: None. Benefits: Eternal. Apply within! There are other areas within the church looking for the giving of your time and talents. The time is here, now. Come and see. Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Ron Jaghab Become a good manager of those things given you by God. ~Saint John Chrysostom 6

7 Easter or Pascha? By Fr. Mark Munoz of Holy Anargyroi Greek Orthodox Church Rochester, MN With the Feast of feasts and Festival of festivals drawing near, it seems to be a good time to take a look at our terminology for the holiest season. Out of convenience and habit, we hear Orthodox Christians speak of an Orthodox versus a Western Easter ( Eastern Easter would sound difficult indeed!). We sometimes hear Greek versus American Easter. The emphasis in these expressions seems to be as if we were saying: Well, we are celebrating the same thing, we just do it in different ways and on (usually) different days. If this were true, we would be justified in our modern practice, but we ought to take a closer look at the word Easter. According to Webster s, the word Easter is the name of the old Teutonic goddess of spring! (1961 edition). Millions of English-speaking Christians extol the emancipation of humanity in Christ with the name of some pagan goddess. For we who are Orthodox (which means right-believing) Christians, this should be something of an issue. You may be saying to yourselves, Come on, Father, aren t we being too much? If you think so, let me give you the example of what Greek-speaking Christians have done in the past. The Greek word Pascha is not Greek at all! It comes from the Hebrew word Passover and is borrowed by means of transliteration. In the Greek language, the Jewish Passover is no longer described by the word Pascha; rather, they use the expression Nomikon Faska (literally, legal Passover or Passover of the Old Law). Notice how the Greek language has borrowed a Hebrew word, Pascha, deprived it of its old meaning and clothed it with a new one - the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. What s more, the Greek language has slightly altered the word (Pascha becomes Faska) in order that there be no confusion. And so the Feast of the Resurrection retains all of the symbolism of the Old Covenant with all the reality of the New. Compare this with Easter. The goddess of spring symbolizes the Resurrection of our Saviour?? We do not believe in myths, but in the revelation of God (and even if we did, shouldn t we call it Greek Persephone rather than Greek Easter?). Take a close look at the following symbols surrounding Easter, see if they correspond to the Orthodox Faith of Christ. Butterflies, bunnies, candy, balloons, flowers, sunrise services and day-glow colors; are these the symbols of the Church??? I do not list these to poke fun at them; there are those who take them very seriously, but I do think we should consider their content. For Orthodox Christians, symbols are not empty, rather they are full. Our faith is revealed in symbols, much as Christ revealed Himself and His Kingdom in parables. We need to take them seriously, probably more seriously than they were ever intended. The sappy, flowery, commercialized Easter of our modern world may describe the faith of many Christians today, but it in no way even caricatures the the Orthodox Christian Pascha. I use the word Pascha because it is our word, given from the Holy Scriptures themselves. I use the word Pascha much the same way I use Amen. Amen is not English, much less Greek; it is another example of a borrowed Hebrew word, which was transliterated into Greek, and means So be it. So there is plenty of precedent for using Pascha! With the word Pascha we retain our faith, we even preach it. For you will not find theologians and professors in the Orthodox Church (much less hierarchs) who deny the bodily Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will not find a cheap sentimentality about the Risen Lord in our Paschal Services, but you will find the deepest understanding of the Light that shineth on the darkness. To be frank, its fine with me if the world wants to celebrate Easter every year with shopping specials and gifts and business as usual (maybe better). Making money off the Passion of our Savior is nothing new. For we who are Orthodox, let the difference in days also be a difference in expression and in attitude. Let the slight inconvenience be counted as a blessing. Let us be thankful for the return of spring, but let us not celebrate it as did the pagans! Let us celebrate the Holy Pascha, ever thankful to our merciful Lord Who gave Himself up for the life of the world, once for all, and Who is risen from the dead in His glorious Resurrection! 7

8 ANNUNCIATION GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH 505 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, PA FESTIVAL SIGN-UP SHEET: Tuesday, June 7, Through Saturday, June 11 PLEASE COMPLETE AND GIVE TO ANY MEMBER OF THE PARISH COUNCIL. YOU MAY ALSO MAIL OR FAX THE SHEET DIRECTLY TO THE CHURCH. WE ARE KINDLY ASKING THAT YOU RETURN THE SIGN-UP SHEET AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE SO WE MAY BEGIN TO PREPARE STAFFING. Church Telephone #: (570) Church Fax #: (570) Name: Address:,, Zip-Code: Telephone: ( ) These are shifts that are available. Please check off those you can help. If the time you can offer differs from the shifts listed, please write in the times you can help. SHIFT: TUES. WED. THUR. FRI. SAT. 6:00 AM-10:00 AM 10:00 AM-2:00 PM 2:00 PM-6:00 PM 5:00 PM-9:00 PM We appreciate any help you may be able to offer the church this year. 8

9 Προτρεπτικοί λόγοι Γέροντας Ιωσήφ ο ησυχαστής Λοιπόν, όταν εσύ δεν αµαρτάνεις, δεν ψεύδεσαι, δεν κατακρίνεις, δεν πονηρεύεσαι κατά του πλησίον σου, τότε έχεις φόβο Θεού. Τότε είσαι σοφός και κατανοείς το Θεό, και για να µην Τον λυπήσεις δεν αµαρτάνεις. Και αυτή είναι η όραση του Θεού, και ο Θεός που βλέπει τα πάντα σε σκεπάζει από τις παγίδες του σατανά. Όλες τις θλίψεις, παιδί µου, αν τις υποµένουµε, βρίσκουµε Χάρη παρά Κυρίου. Γι αυτό µας αφήνει ο Κύριος να πειραζόµαστε, για να µας δοκιµάζει και να µας πλέξει στεφάνους. Παραιτήσου από το δικό σου θέληµα, για να βρεις ειρήνη ψυχής. Γιατί το θέληµα του ανθρώπου έχει γίνει χάλκινο τείχος και εµποδίζει το φωτισµό και την ειρήνη. Όντως µέγα είναι, στ αλήθεια, το µυστήριο της υπακοής! Αφού ο γλυκύς µας Ιησούς πρώτος χάραξε το δρόµο και έγινε παράδειγµα για µας, πόσο µάλλον εµείς είµαστε οφειλέτες να Τον µιµηθούµε. Ο µοναχός δεν αλλάζει τόπο κατοικίας, χρώµα ενδυµάτων και ιδίως νοηµάτων. Ο µοναχός και η µοναχή αλλάζουν νουν και καρδιά µαζί. Δε σκέφτονται όπως οι κοσµικοί. Όλη η δύναµη της ψυχής είναι η προσευχή. Και καθώς το σώµα δυναµώνει µε τις τροφές και τα διάφορα καρυκεύµατα που του προσφέρουµε, έτσι και η ψυχή µας θέλει ευχή, ανάγνωση, λόγο προφορικό, να βλέπει παράδειγµα και έτσι λίγο-λίγο ξυπνάει. Με πολλή απλότητα να πορεύεσαι, για να βρεις την καθαρότητα της ψυχής. Η απλότητα είναι µεγάλη ευτυχία για την ψυχή. Τους µεν κανόνες οι άνθρωποι τους κατάργησαν, αλλά δεν τους κατάργησε ο Θεός. Μένουν, όπως τους έθεσαν οι Πατέρες και οι θείοι Απόστολοι. Εποµένως να τους φυλάττουµε, αν θέλουµε να σώσουµε την ψυχή µας, για να µη βρούµε αντιµέτωπο το Θεό να υπερασπίζει τους νόµους των αγαπητών Του δούλων. Το στόµα σου αδιαλείπτως να µελετά την ευχή: Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ, Υιέ του Θεού, ελέησόν µε. Με την ευχή, θα καθαρίσει ο νους σου και θα την κατεβάσει στην καρδιά και θα γίνει διαδροµή, ένωση νου, λόγου και καρδιάς, και θα γίνει Παράδεισος µέσα σου. Από τη στιγµή που αρχίζουµε να διαπράττουµε την αµαρτία γινόµαστε δούλοι των δαιµόνων. Ο φιλάνθρωπος Θεός έκανε τον άνθρωπο αυτεξούσιο και µας δίδαξε να µη µετέχουµε σε πράξεις αισχρές και δε σκεπτόµαστε σοβαρά τα θεία και σωτήρια λόγια Του. Δεν υπάρχει άλλη θυσία τόσο ευώδης προς το Θεό, όσο η αγνότητα του σώµατος. Τίποτε άλλο δε µισεί τόσο ο Θεός, όσο την παράνοµη ηδονική ακαθαρσία του σώµατος. Σ? αυτή τη ζωή είναι αγώνας. Με τα ακάθαρτα πνεύµατα πολεµάς, που δε σου ρίχνουν γλυκά και λουκούµια, αλλά σφαίρες οξείες που θανατώνουν ψυχή, όχι σώµα 9

10 I. Monk Ephraim The Holy Hieromartyr Ephraim of Nea Makri (+1425) is commemorated January 3 & May 5 th He is known as a heavenly intercessor for, among other things, drug addicts, suicidals, and despairing youth. Overdose In the year of 1425 a monk was taken captive and tortured to death in his monastery in Greece for being an Orthodox Christian. He was slowly tortured to death over a period of a year. After each episode his wounds were allowed to heal, and then he was subjected to new and worse punishments. Finally they executed him. He was hung upside down from a tree in his monastery grounds and run through with a pole which had been sharpened to a point and set on fire. All traces of his life and martyrdom were forgotten until this century, when he appeared to the abbess of a convent and told her of his life and sufferings. He also revealed the spot where his bones, which had never decomposed, were buried. They dug up the bones for the glory of God. II. The Addict and the Saint Some years later an American teenager in the Midwest was grappling with his own life. He was heavily using drugs (cocaine and heroin) and was quickly sliding to destruction. He had neither a stable family life nor a religious upbringing, and though still young was in serious trouble. One night an ugly old man appeared to him and said, "I am your friend, I want to make an appointment with you to meet me." He directed him to get into his car and drive as quickly as he could down a certain road which had a hairpin turn at the end with a sheer cliff at the bend. The young man did as he was told, got into his car and drove as fast as he could down the road. Losing his nerve at the last minute he managed to slam on his brakes and barely made the turn. He arrived home shaken. Two nights later, the old man appeared again and said with anger and indignation, "I am very disappointed that you didn't meet me. Get into your car again and drive as fast as you can and this time don't put on the brakes." The young man felt strangely compelled to do this. Once again he got into his car, drove as fast as he could and this time didn't stop but drove at high speed off the cliff. The car was demolished but, surprisingly, he escaped with only cuts and bruises, and with a concussion continued on page

11 The Resurrection of Christ is the annihilation of Death By Protopresbyter George Metallinos Dean of the Athens University School of Theology The most significant event of History: The Resurrection of Christ is the most significant event to take place in History. It is the event that differentiates Christianity from every other religion. Other religions have mortal leaders, whereas the Head of the Church is the Resurrected Christ. Resurrection of Christ implies the deification and the resurrection of human nature, and the hope for deification and resurrection of our own hypostasis. Since the medicine has been discovered, then there is hope for life. Through Christ s Resurrection, both life and death take on a new meaning. Life now means communion with God; Death is no longer the end of this present lifetime, but the distancing of Man from Christ. The separation of the soul from the mortal body is no longer seen as death ; it is only a temporary slumber. It is Christ s Resurrection, which justifies His uniqueness and exclusiveness, as the Saviour Who is able to truly vitalize us and transfuse His Death-defeating Life into our perishable lives. Christ is one; the Resurrection is one; and the possibility for salvation-deification is also one. This is why our expectation to transcend all the impasses that muddle our lives is oriented towards Christ; to the Christ of the Saints; to the Christ of History. The distorted Christ found in heresies or the relativized Christ found in the religious syncretism of the New-Age pan-religion constitute a rejection of the real Christ, as well as the Salvation offered by Him. The Christ of our Saints is also the Christ of History, and He rules out every possibility of confusing Him with all the other redemptive substitutes invented for misleading the masses; because that is the only way deception can maintain something fraudulent: by facilitating the dominion of antichrist powers (which may quite easily have infiltrated even the Church); powers, which albeit spread Death in their path, nevertheless can appear as angels of light and deacons of justice. When studying the experience of our Saints, we become aware that there are no existences as tragic as those who have no hope hope for resurrection inasmuch as they regard biological death as destruction and the end. Unfortunately, science has also succumbed to this tragic state, by desperately seeking methods for prolonging Man s lifespan and by conveying the illusion of being able to overcome natural death. However, equally tragic are those even Christians who become entrapped in hermetically tight Chiliast visions of universal bliss and mundane eschatology (thus losing the true meaning of the Resurrection) and sacrificing the hyper-cosmic to the endo-cosmic; the eternal to the transient. The Resurrection of Christ as the resurrection of Man and all of Creation acquires a meaning only in the framework of Patristic soteriology; in other words, in the co-crucifixion and the co-resurrection with Christ. This is the way that Hellenism also preserved the Resurrection during its historical course. Forever faithful to the Resurrection of Christ, Orthodoxy has been characterized as Church of the Resurrection, because it is on the Resurrection that it structures its entire historical presence, grafting the resurrectional hope into the conscience of Peoples; a fact that is revealed in their cultural continuance. Among them, the Hellenic People also learnt to dispel - in the Light of the Resurrection the darkness that permeated their years of slavery (as was the Turkish occupation) during which, they would not hesitate, on wishing each other Christ is Risen! to add: and Hellas is risen! And they preserved this, for a full four hundred years It is within this notional framework that the hope-filled invitation of Come forth and receive Light! is contained. It is an invitation to the resurrectional, uncreated Light, which is bestowed only on those who have cleansed their heart of vices and passions. Without the catharsis of the heart in other words, repentance one cannot commune with the Light of the Resurrection. Repentance is the transcending of sin, the cause of our death. This is the fact that we are constantly reminded of, by the peculiar (to the uninitiated ear) monastic saying: If you die before you die, then you will not die when you die! Christ is Risen!! 11

12 Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church 505 N. Washington Ave. Scranton, PA A few weeks after he was out of the hospital, the ugly man appeared to him once again and said, "I am furious with you for not keeping our appointment. Tonight without fail you will meet me! Put a double dose of the drug in your needle." Again the boy felt compelled to do this, and after injecting himself went into a coma from the overdose. He was taken to the hospital where doctors told his family that he probably wouldn't live. And if by chance he did live he would only be semi-conscious - in a vegetative state. There was almost no chance of recovery. In two weeks, however, the young man did awake, fully conscious. He told those around him that he had seen a man, which looked like some sort of radiant monk. He came to him and said, "I have been praying for you... God has given you another chance. You will live, but you must correct your life. You are to go to Greece so as to visit the resting place of my bones, giving thanks to God for your salvation. My name is Ephraim. Through the prayers of the Great Martyr Ephraim of Nea-Makri, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! 12

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