Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bioethics Conference in HOUSTON, TX

Houston is playing host to a wonderful Bioethics Conference entitled "Health Care in a Secular Culture:  The Conscience of Physicians & Nurses at Risk" during Bright Weekend (Friday-Saturday, April 29-30) at Houston Baptist University.

Keynote Speakers include Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Dr. Grattan Brown, and Dr. C. Ben Mitchell

Those in any field of law, science, medicine, etc. are strongly encouraged to attend.  All student registrations are FREE!

For a detailed description of the Conference, its speakers and schedule of events, including Lectures, Commentators, Small Group Discussions, and Baquet information, please visit HERE.

Christ as the Great Physician
Image Source

In order to attend the Bioethics Conference, you must register (but its FREE for ALL students); go HERE to register.

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Who is the King of Glory? Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

On Paschal Night, during Matins after the Great Procession outside around the Church, the clergy and congregation arrives at the outside doors.  The following dialogue with the Door-Keeper takes place outside of the Church:

Priest: (Knocks 3 times with a cross) Lift up ye gates, O ye princes! And be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may enter!"

Door-Keeper: Who is the King of Glory?

Priest: The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, mighty in battle!
Priest: (Knocks 3 times with a cross) Lift up ye gates, O ye princes! And be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may enter!"
Door-Keeper: Who is the King of Glory?
Priest: (Knocks 3 times with a cross) Lift up ye gates, O ye princes! And be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may enter!"

The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory!

English: Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Arabic: Al Maseeh Qam! Haqan Qam!

Greek: Kristos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!

Albanian: Kristi Unjhal! Vertet Unjhal!

Romanian: Kristos A Inviat! Adeverat a Inviat!

Russian: Kristos Voskrese! Voyistino Voskrese!
We are a "People of the Resurrection;" let us live a life worthy of our Risen Lord!

Be sure to read the words of the Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom, recited at EVERY Paschal Liturgy in EVERY Orthodox Christian Church across the whole world, visit HERE.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life!

Wishing you and your families a blessed Paschal season!
- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It Always Starts With Desire - Holy Apostle Zacchaeus

Holy Apostle Zacchaeus, whose feastday is April 20th in the Life of the Church, is the same "short" man who desired to see Christ on the road through Jericho, thus climbing a sycamore tree.  After the Ascension of the Lord, St. Zacchaeus accompanied St. Peter on his travels. Tradition says he became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, where he died in peace.

Icon by the hand of Nicholas Papas
Image Source

The Gospel according to St. Luke (19:1-10) describing Zacchaeus' encounter with Christ is proclaimed on the Sunday before the TRIODION begins, and reads as follows:

"Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.  And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, 'Zaccheaus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.' So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.  But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, 'He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.'

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; abd uf I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.'  And Jesus said to him, 'Today, salvation has come to this house, becaose he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'"

In Fr. Alexander Schmemann's Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, he describes the importance of the initial step in our Lenten journey - that of, "desire for God and His righteousness, for the true life."  Fr. Alexander writes: "Zacchaeus desired the 'right thing;' he wanted to see and approach Christ.  He [Zacchaeus] is the first symbol of repentance, for repentance begins at the rediscovery of the deep nature of all desire:  the desire for God and His righteousness, for the true life.  Zaccheaus is 'short' -petty, sinful, and limited- yet his desire overcomes all this.  It 'forces' Christ's attention; it brings Christ to his home.  [Like Zacchaeus] if we desire deeply enough, strongly enough, Christ will respond."

During my Lenten journey, I make it a point to read this book.  It gives me a greater appreciation for the "wisdom of the Church."  My father used to joke that he couldn't understand why the same Gospel lessons were repeated every year on the same Sunday - stating that there is so much knowledge to be gained throughout the Bible, so why limit and repeat (thinking repetition as a negative thing) the same Gospel lessons.  However, when you learn the ultimate teaching behind each Gospel lesson chosen, you start to see how it fits into the greater "puzzle," especially during Great Lent.  I pray our desire, emulates that of Zacchaeus, during this Holy Week to see our Risen Lord as we celebrate Pascha!

O Holy Father Zacchaeus, pray unto God for us!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ten Tips for Holy Week & Pascha

As Holy Week approaches in the Orthodox Church, may we all strive to find reconcilation with our brethren, as we follows our Lord's steps towards His saving Crucifixion, Burial, and Glorious Resurrection.  The following article is stolen from Fr. Peter Preble’s blogsite

Resurrection of our Lord - Orthodox Paschal Icon
 Image Source

1. Make participation at the Services a priority. This is especially crucial for those families with children. They must experience as much of Holy Week and Pascha as possible with their parents.

2. In our homes we should strive to “keep out the world” and enter into the peace, solemnity, and theology of the events of the last days of our Lord.

3. Be sure to read the last chapters of the Holy Gospels that speak of the Passion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ.

4. If you are visiting another parish and wish to receive Communion, make sure that the priest knows who you are and that you are prepared. This should be done in advance by phone, email, or any other way.

5. Last year’s palms (and/or pussy willows) should be placed outside in an area to decay where they will not be disturbed. They are holy and should not be simply thrown out with the garbage.

6. Before venerating Holy Objects, such as the Cross, the Chalice, Icons, or the Winding-Sheet, make sure to wipe off your lipstick or chapstick. Reminder: we do not kiss the face of our Lord, His Mother, or the Saints; instead kiss the hands or feet.

7. If you haven’t yet made your Confession during Great Lent, try to make it before the end of Holy Week. Speak with your priest to arrange a time.

8. Make an attempt to make amends with those we may be upset with or those who are upset with us, so that on Pascha we can joyfully sing, “Let us call brothers, even those that hate us, and forgive all by the Resurrection!”

9. Stay after the “Midnight Service” on Pascha morning for the blessing of baskets and festive meal. Let us share in the joy of the Lord’s Resurrection with fellowship and love.

10. During Bright Week, sing or read the Paschal Hours instead of your “normal” morning and evening prayers. Let the joy of praising the Lord’s Resurrection accompany you throughout Bright Week, the Paschal season, and your whole life.

May your Lenten journey and Holy Week be blessed and fruitful!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Who Teaches Us How to Pray?

How do we teach our children how to pray?  This way my question in a conversation with our former associate pastor at St. George, Rev. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt (now pastor of St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston, TX) many moons ago.

I sat down in his office with the feeling of a heavy burden.  We were discussing the practice of prayer.  I was expressing my concern, being their Youth Director, on the importance of prayer.  So, I asked the blunt question:  How do I teach our children how to pray?

Looking for some words of wisdom, encouragement, and guidance, I had great anticipation in hearing his response to my question.  Fr. Joseph calmly said, "you don't."

An awkward silence fell upon the room.  I'm thinking to myself:  okay, thanks a lot!  You're no help!

But alas, his great lesson for me began: 
"One learns how to pray at home, and implements that prayer when he comes to Church."

This is a great warning for parents; certainly not to be taken lightly for its an awesome responsibility.  As a youth, our parents are our beacon for everything.  From our parents, we learn so much that help us throughout of lives.  They teach us right from wrong, basics of eating, talking, walking, etc. 

From our parents, we receive all knowledge, sustenance, and guidance.  Why should our ability and desire to pray to God be any different? 

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Friday, April 1, 2011

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" that St. Mary of Egypt Aint No Fool

It's April 1st...and ya'll know what that means, right???

It's April Fool's Day...so you may indeed play a practical joke on someone, but please make sure its practical!

Image Source

The great American singer-songwriter and musician, Marvin Gaye was killed on April 1st, 1984.  He created many great classic hits and has been crowned as the "Prince of Motown" or the "Prince of Soul."  One of my all-time favorite songs his Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

In the Orthodox Church, April 1st is also the day commemorated as the falling asleep in the Lord of Saint Mary of Egypt.  She became a great ascetic and desert-dweller near the Jordan River; her story is told by priest named Zosimas, whom he encountered as he spent his Great Lenten journey in the desert.

Image Source

As a teenager apart of Teen SOYO, we had a program called "Lives of the Saints" where teens from across North America would research a Saint in the Orthodox Church and write about his/her life adding a personal reflection and have them published on the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese website.  Feel free to enjoy my words (as a teenager, mind you) on the feastday of St. Mary of Egypt by clicking HERE.

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director