Tenth Sunday After Pentecost
& Tenth Sunday of Matthew
Return of the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew; Holy Apostle Titus of the Seventy; Archbishops Menas, Epiphanios, Gennadios and John of Constantinople
August 25, 2019
“While the stone was sealed by the Jews, and the soldiers were guarding Thy most pure body, Thou didst arise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. For which cause the heavenly powers cried aloud unto Thee, O giver of life. Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ, glory to Thy kingdom, glory to Thy providence, O Thou Who alone art the lover of mankind.”
+Resurrectional Apolytikion in Tone 1
From the Synaxarion (What is that?)
On August 25 in the Holy Orthodox Church we commemorate the return of the holy relics of the holy glorious Apostle Bartholomew.
Bartholomew is found, though was hidden, that we the faithful might reap grace in abundance.
They found thy body on the twenty-fifth, O Bartholomew.
When Bartholomew was crucified in Albanopolis (Derbend) in Armenia, Christians removed his body and honorably buried it in a lead sarcophagus. When numerous miracles and healings occurred over the grave of the apostle—because of which the number of Christians increased— the pagans then took the sarcophagus containing the relics of Bartholomew and tossed it into the sea. They did the same to the sarcophagi of four other martyrs. However, by God’s providence, none of them sank and the current carried them to separate but safe shores. Agathon, bishop of the island of Lipara, mystically learned of Bartholomew’s approaching relics and, with the clergy and people, came to the shore to receive them with great joy. On that occasion, many healings of the sick occurred from the relics of the holy Bartholomew. On this day, we commemorate the holy Apostle Titus of the Seventy, bishop of Gortynia in Crete. Titus was born in Crete and educated in Greek philosophy and poetry. Following a dream, he began reading the Prophet Isaiah and doubted all the wisdom of the Hellenes. Hearing about Christ the Lord, Titus traveled to Jerusalem with other Cretans and personally heard the words of the Savior and witnessed His mighty works. His young heart completely adhered to Christ. Later, he was baptized by the Apostle Paul whom he served as a son to a father in evangelization. Titus was present at the suffering and death of Paul in Rome and honorably buried his body. After that, Titus returned to Crete where, with great success, he baptized the pagans and prudently governed the Church of God until his repose at age 94.
On this day, we also commemorate our Holy Fathers Menas, Epiphanios, Gennadios and John, archbishops of Constantinople.
By the intercessions of Thy Saints, O Christ God, have mercy upon us. Amen.
The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (4:9-16)
Brethren, God has exhibited us Apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill clad and buffeted and homeless; and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the off scouring of all things. I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (17:14-23)
At that time, a man came up to Jesus and kneeling before Him said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” Jesus said to them, “Because you have no faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. This kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.” As they were traveling together through Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will rise on the third day.”
St. Paul Church Iconography
Ever-increasing interest has been expressed towards this grace-filled project, for the glory of God and our spiritual edification.
Many are asking how to donate in order to participate – details regarding opportunities to do so are forthcoming.
“…Sanctify those who love the beauty of thy house…”
+Prayer Behind the Amvon at the Divine Liturgy
About one year ago, through the grace God, our parish received several donations towards a 100% Lime wood Bishop’s Throne and other items – a ceremonial table (for Artoklasia, Weddings, Baptisms), candle stand(s), censer holder, and more. This now affords our current Bishop’s chair the opportunity to serve its purpose in the holy altar.
God willing, we can expect the arrival of these donated items in the coming weeks as they continue their journey by ship from Piraeus, Greece to Miami, Florida and then to Naples.
Click the image below for schedule & registration info
Fr. Paul Leading Online Course
Click the image below to view the interview
The St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (www.saaot.edu), is now providing a beautiful opportunity for homeschool families to better supplement their children’s education through an Orthodox Christian framework.
Fr. Paul will lead two classes – middle and high school – on the “Virtues and Passions” (Course Description).
Join us immediately after the Divine Worship each Sunday for Fellowship Coffee Hour.
There is great joy in serving, offering hospitality, and “breaking bread” together, which are essential elements of the Christian life.
In order to avoid allowing this “labor of love” to fall upon the same few people week-after-week, please sign-up to sponsor the Fellowship Coffee Hour on any available Sunday.
“Great – what exactly am I signing up for?”
Simply bring 1 1/2 – 2 dozen Bagels sliced in half (or specialty breads, breakfast cake, etc.) to the kitchen, upon arrival to service Sunday morning. After service, set the food out and then clean up at the end – there is help so you’re not alone! We already have the toppers (peanut butter, jam, etc.), paper goods, and coffee at the parish!
“Can I support Fellowship Coffee Hour in a different way?”
No problem – make an offering that would donate towards the bagels and we will handle the rest!
Either way, keep it simple and give it a shot!
Don’t wait – send a note back to this email (email@example.com) or reach out to our Antiochain Women (AW) Chair, Anna Castley (firstname.lastname@example.org), to learn which Sunday is available.
We will be back!
Our Weekly Community Bible Study will break for August and resume Thursday, September 12 – God willing!
Why is Great Vespers important?
“The service leads to the meditation of God’s word and the glorification of his love for men. It instructs 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 eves of the Divine Liturgy, it begins the movement into the most perfect communion with God in the sacramental mysteries.”
Learn more about Great Vespers here
Tears of Repentance; True Experiences in a Greek Taxi Cab by Athanasios Katigas
Sample Excerpt (“My New Birthday”)
A few years ago, I was returning from Poligyros, Halkidiki, where I had taken some customers. On the way back, I passed through a village where construction crews were laying asphalt. I didn’t pay close attention to the detour signs, and the road I took brought me to a dead end and to the very last homes of the village before I realized that I had made a mistake. As I was backing out, an elderly man came out of his house, looked at me somewhat puzzled, and asked, “Where are you going, my lad? You can’t get out from here. It’s a dead end.”
“I see it, but I realized it a little too late.”
“One moment; are you going to Thessaloniki?”
“Yes, I am”.
“Can you take me along? I was just about ready to walk to the bus station to take the bus.”
“Very gladly; come on in.”
“How much will it cost me?”
“Get in, blessed one, and don’t worry. I will charge you the same amount you would have paid for the bus ticket.”
Once he entered the taxi, the conservation centered on the new asphalt and the workers who were completing the road. He introduced himself to me as the former president of the village, who was currently retired. I couldn’t help notice that every time I tried to start a conversation topic, the president would skillfully shift the discussion to political parties and their agendas. He was so well versed and confident in his political beliefs, as if politics were the only possible way to solve the problems of the world.
At some moment, I interrupted his monologue and said to him, “Mr. President, I have been listening to you for some time now. So I will ask you, in the spirit of democracy which you seem to espouse, that you also give me a few minutes of your time to offer you my humble opinion. After you hear it, you can reject it if you wish. It is your inalienable right; but for now, please listen to me, and try to overlook the fact that I may be thirty to forty years younger than you.
“In order for this country to go forward, it truly needs a radical change. This change will never come from the political arena and ideological party ranks because this same show has been on stage for decades now. We are sick and tired of being served the same reheated meal. Personally, I’m very sad when I see people so divided by political parties and fanatically attached to their political convictions. So, Mr. President, if we really want to see real change, each of us must personally seek it and cultivate it inside himself, first. First, we must change, Mr. President, before we expect others to do so. For this to happen, we will have to get our dusty New Testament down from the shelves or the iconostasis  in order to study it and hear the voice of the Lord that says, “Without me you are able to do nothing” (John 15:5). Unless we understand this, we will not accomplish anything worthwhile. When the Lord himself assures us that without His will nothing happens, then we cannot speak about any significant change, but only about some patchwork.”
“You are right, my lad, you really are right. I tend to agree with you because I also happen to be a religious individual. Saying that, I can also say that my family may not go to church every Sunday; but I have made it four times to the Holy Land and venerated Christ’s All-Holy Tomb. I was also baptized in the Jordan River.”
“Mr. President, can I ask you a personal question? with good intentions and out of love, of course.”
“Ask me whatever you want, my lad.”
“Do you take Holy Communion?”
“Why of course, I commune every Pascha,Christmas, and all the great feasts.”
“Have you ever gone to confession with sincere repentance?”
“No, I have never done this; it’s the only thing which I have not done, and I am very much afraid that I will never get to it.”
“Then, believe me, you have done absolutely nothing. Forgive me if I am upsetting you, but if you do not participate in the sacrament of confession, you don’t commune, and you don’t believe as you say. Not four, but even if you go fourteen times to the Holy Land, you will be ruining the soles of your shoes and wasting your money for nothing.”
“Hey! Why are you saying this now?”
“Because it is not a difficult matter for us to open our mouth to take Holy Communion, not to mention that it doesn’t cost us anything. But we have much difficulty in opening our heart to admit our faults and our sins so all the collected debris can come out; only then, with a clean conscience, and properly prepared, can we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ.
“People run today to various pilgrimages, and they do well, of course. They go to Jerusalem, to Panaghia of Tinos, to St. Raphael [Nicholas and Eirini], and many times we hear them saying, ‘At such-and-such pilgrimage a miraculous icon shed tears.’ Yes, some of our icons truly shed tears. However, did we shed even one tear for our sinfulness, Mr. President? We shed many tears in this life: we cry for our family, our children, our grandchildren, our finances, and our failures; life can be full of tears. Yet very rarely do we shed even one tear for our own sinfulness, and this is a result of our spiritual bankruptcy. That’s why today’s man toils in vain, and then he amputates himself by his bad choices, because he refuses to hear the voice of God: “Without me you are not able to do anything.’”
“You know, my dear Thanasi, I cannot truly express to you how much your words have touched my heart. For years now, I remember myself expounding political speeches from various podiums and from balconies of houses, attracting and convincing people that my party will bring a better tomorrow. Unfortunately, you are right. The promises for a better tomorrow have not materialized from any one of our political parties. I admit it, because I believe there is still some integrity left inside of me. The strange thing is that all my life I was doing the speaking, and others were listening. Today, however, I heard things that I have never heard before. Perhaps you can also answer this question that has been torturing me for many years now. Why does God allow some of his children, the faithful people who are members of the Church, to be tried so much?”
“You know, Mr. President, an apostle once asked the Lord the same question about the man born blind. He asked, ‘“Rabbi, who sinned for him to be born blind, he or his parents?” Jesus answered, “Neither did he sin, nor his parents but so that the works of God could be revealed in him”’ (John 9:2-3).
“We cannot, of course, give precise answers to the volitions and works of God, because the works of God cannot be judged by our human minds. The volitions of the Lord are untraceable. If we take a beautiful fragrant herb, such as basil, for example, and we rub its leaves in our hands, its fragrance is not only sensed by us but by all those around us, don’t you agree? Unless it is crumbled a bit, it does not release its fragrance. Likewise, God allows his faithful servants to be tested, like a refiner tests gold through fire, so that those around them can be spiritually benefited. If the farmer doesn’t trim the vineyard, it does not produce fruits. If the incense does not sit on the lit charcoal, it will not offer a sweet fragrance. Afflictions are the active presence of God’s love. These are some of the reasons why God allows these pedagogical disciplines in order for his faithful children to be tried, so that even the indifferent ones can take heed and profit spiritually. I will now share with you some things from my personal life experience, Mr. President.
“For years, I was living in indifference and sin. I frequented cafés for many years, as both a single and married man, wasting my time. A childhood quadriplegic friend of mine was a frequent patron at one cafe. Every Monday afternoon, he would plead with me to take him to some sermon to hear the Word of God. It was only five minutes away. Since I had a close relationship with him, I had no trouble telling him, ‘Why should I? Can’t you see I am in the middle of an important backgammon game? Get someone else to take you.’
Unfortunately, no one wanted to take him. The paralytic would humbly lower his head deeply saddened, missing many sermons for many years. However, he prayed for everyone there at the café and much more so for me, saying, “My dear Christ, please help my friend Thanasi to meet You, to believe You, to love You, because he does not know You, Lord.”
“It seems that his prayer was heard one winter afternoon in 1992. I decided to go ahead and take my quadriplegic friend to the sermon at the small chapel of Saint Theodore, with the understanding that I would simply drop him off and go. Upon entering the church, I saw people of all age groups piously observing the speaker who had just begun. I settled the paralytic in a corner. Then, I sat in the first row convincing myself to stay for only five minutes. I was curious to see why all these people chose to waste their time there. The sermon was about repentance. It was like a megaton bomb. The speaker’s words were dripping like honey, and like a double-edged sword, they pierced my heart. I began wiping my tears with both hands. I left the front row quickly and went to the back seats, but there, the same thing happened. Carefully listening to the speaker and thinking of all my sinfulness, I wanted to shout with all the strength of my soul inside that little church, “My Christ, you had his sermon for me on hold for so many years!’ Those five minutes in 1992, at that moment, added up to many years, and to this day, together with my paralytic friend, we observe the same speaker, who has become our most beloved teacher.
“Please, tell me, Mr. President, who was the real paralytic? Who helped whom? he who was pushing the wheelchair for five hundred yards, or the one praying for me for many years while in his wheelchair?”
I didn’t even manage to finish my last word, when a kind of earthquake occurred in the heart of the president. He stopped listening to me because he had placed his hand on his forehead and began crying with sobs and wailing so much, that for a moment I became afraid. It is not very common to see a 75-80-year-old white-haired man crying so much.
After he wiped and re-wiped his tears, giving me a thousand blessings and thanksgivings, I told him, “Now I think we can both see, Mr. President, the reason why the taxi entered your dead-end street?” I wish I hadn’t said that because he began crying again like a little infant, worse than the first time; he then fell into my embrace and told me, “Can I kiss you, my dear Thanasi?”
“Of course,” and now we began crying together, embracing each other for quite a while.
After he recovered from the great intoxication of tears, he told me, “Thanasi, I will celebrate this day every year, and I mean every year, because today is my realbirthday. I give you my word that as soon as get off, I will go to Holy Confession.” O dear Lord, what beautiful, heavenly words, came out of a contrite and humbled heart that had just decided to implement those things we spoke about!
Let’s reflect a bit to see how this taxi driver took a wrong turn and arrived at a dead end. Do you think he came across the last house of the village by chance? Was it a mere coincidence? Not so, because Christians don’t believe in coincidences, nor in luck, but only in the providence of God. Besides, the Lord himself assures us, “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Not even one will fall of them, without the will of my father” (Luke 12:7). Not even one hair or one leaf falls from the tree, if His love does not allow it.
So, I close this story and invite you to remember the final words of the president, that if God grants me, I will share with my grandchildren one day: “Thanasi, on this day I will celebrate every year-believe me every year-because today is my real birthday.” The question is, how many of us celebrate or even remember such spiritual birthdays?
 Prayer screen or icon stand.
 The Jewish Passover, was a foreshadowing of Christ’s Passover from Death to Life, His glorious Resurrection from the dead-the greatest Feast of the Church: Great and Holy Pascha.
 The teacher was the late lay theologian and preacher Panagiotis Panagiotides of Thessaloniki.
Original Post Here