Friday, October 28, 2011

SOYO Advent Retreat in Houston


December 2-4, 2011      Houston, TX

St Nicholas: The Gift
of Giving

Hosted at St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in
Houston, TX by the St George Teen SOYO

Cost is $30 per Participant; Registration and Medical
Release Forms are Mandatory

+ + +

Contact Paul Fuller at 713.665.5252 or

Registration/Medical Release Form due by Monday, November 28; visit DOWAMA SOYO website (under the Retreats tab) to print out flyer and form.

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great-Martyr Demetrios, the Myrrh-Streamer

Saint Demetrios, whose feastday is celebrated on October 26 in the Life of the Church, suffered in Thessalonica during the reign of Galerius Maximian (c. 306). He belonged to one of the most distinguished families of the province of Macedonia and was widely admired not only because of his noble ancestry and grace of bearing, but also for virtue, wisdom and goodness of heart surpassing that of his elders.

St Demetrios, Great-Martyr
 Image Source

The military expertise of Saint Demetrios led Galerius, as Caesar of the Eastern Empire, to appoint him commander of the Roman forces in Thessaly and Proconsul for Hellas. But for all this, Demetrios remained ever aware of the underlying realities of life. Since faith in Christ had touched his heart, all the glory of this world meant nothing to him, and there was nothing he preferred to teaching and preaching the word of God.

Despite the persecution directed against Christians by the Emperor, Saint Demetrios brought a large number of pagans to the faith. His words convinced them because they saw in the righteousness, peace and brotherly love that marked his life an illustration of the truth of which he spoke.

The Emperor Maximian had just won a series of brilliant victories over the Scythians and was on his way back to Rome when he halted at Thessalonica to receive the acclamations of the populace and to offer sacrifices in thanksgiving to the idols. A number of pagans, envious of the success of the Saint, took advantage of the Emperor's presence in the city to denounce Demetrios as a Christian. Maximian's astonishment gave way to violent indignation when he was told that Demetrios' was making use of his official position to spread the faith. Demetrios was summoned and confined in a cell, located in the basement of nearby baths.

Maximian arranged for games and gladiatorial combats to take place in the amphitheater of the city. He had brought with him a man of gigantic stature and Herculean strength called Lyaios, a Vandal by origin. Such was this man's strength and skill in single combat that no one could withstand him. There was in the city a young Christian called Nestor, who observing the empty pride of the Emperor in the victories of his champion, made up his mind to show him that real power belongs to Christ alone. He ran to the baths where Demetrios was imprisoned and asked for the protection of his prayer in going to confront the giant. The Martyr made the sign of the Cross on the brow and the heart of the boy, and sent him like David before Goliath. He reached the amphitheater just as the heralds were crying out on all sides for any who would stand against Lyaios. Advancing towards the Emperor, Nestor threw his tunic to the ground and shouted, "God of Demetrios, help me!" In the first encounter, at the very moment the giant rushed upon him, Nestor slipped aside and stabbed him to the heart with his dagger. There was uproar and amazement at the marvel, and people asked themselves how a mere child, relying neither on strength nor weapons, could so suddenly have brought down the barbarian.

Rather than yield to the sign of the sovereign power of God, the Emperor flew into a rage and ordered the immediate arrest of Nestor and his beheading outside the city. He had heard Nestor calling upon the God of Demetrios and, supposing the Saint had used some kind of witchcraft, Maximian ordered his soldiers to go and thrust Demetrios through with their lances, without trial, in the depths of his prison cell. There were some Christians, including Demetrios' servant Lupus, present at his martyrdom, and when the soldiers had gone, they reverently buried the Saint's body.

Relics of St Demetrios in Thessaloniki
 Image Source

It was God's will that the grace with which He filled Saint Demetrios should remain active even after his death. This is why He caused to flow from his body a myron with a delightful scent, which had the property of healing all who took it as an unction, with faith in the intercession of the Saint. Time and again, during sixteen hundred years, Saint Demetrios has given proof of his benevolent care for the city of Thessalonica and its inhabitants. He has defended them from the attacks of barbarians, he has preserved them from plague and famine, healed the sick and comforted the afflicted.

Life of St Demetrios taken from Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

Friday, October 14, 2011

Greek Church & Port Authority Reach Deal to Rebuild

Deal Struck to Rebuild NY Church Destroyed on 9/11

Manhattan, NY (AP) - It took a decade, but a deal has finally been struck to rebuild a church destroyed on 9/11, the church and a public agency announced Friday.

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
minutes before the Towers fell on 9/11
Image Source

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said they have resolved their long dispute over how to rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a small, 85-year-old chapel that stood across the street from the World Trade Center and was destroyed when the towers fell.

The church and the public agency had been at odds over the details of a land swap that will move the church slightly down the street to make way for some of the giant construction projects now under way at ground zero.

The settlement, mediated by the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will end a lawsuit filed by the archdiocese earlier this year. Under the deal, the Port Authority will pay for site-work and below-ground infrastructure. The cost of that work is estimated to be about $25 million, according to the governor's office. The archdiocese will pay for the construction of the chapel.

The new church will be about 3½ times as large as the old one, and also house a nondenominational bereavement center.

The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Demetrios, said the church's continued presence at the trade center site will be "an affirmation of the significance of religious freedom and experience for all New Yorkers and all Americans."

"We will again light many candles in the new St. Nicholas Church and remember those who were lost to us, and those heroes who so nobly sacrificed their lives," he said.

ABC Article reposted from HERE

Governor Cuomo & Archbishop Demetrios
Official Signing of Agreement
Floor Plans for New Church Construction
Greek Hierarchs with NY Government Officials
Photos courtesy of the Governor's Office; more can be seen HERE

For more information regarding this deal to rebuild the Church, please visit the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese HERE.

- A Day in Life of the Youth Director

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Troy Polamalu Comes to Life

Some Requirements for being Orthodox:

1. Believe in the Trinity!
2. Attend church services regularly!
3. Be a HUGE fan of Troy Polamalu!

Okay, maybe that third requirement isn't real, but it should be, especially after watching the following video clip:

Video courtesy of YouTube

Lately, Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers has become the face (more properly, the hair) of Head & Shoulders Shampoo commercials. During a recent shoot, Polamalu showed his lighter side -as opposed to his hard-hitting tackling skills on the field.

- A Day in the Life of the Steelers Fan

Monday, October 3, 2011

Orthodox Prayer "at the Bowing of Heads"

During the Vespers service, we hear: "Let us bow our heads to the Lord."  We respond, "To Thee, O Lord."  And then the priest recites the following prayer:

"O Lord our God, who didst bow the heavens and come down for the salvation of mankind, look down upon thy servants and upon thine inheritance. Unto thee, the fearful Judge who lovest man, have thy servants bowed their heads and submissively inclined their necks, awaiting not help from man, but entreating Thy mercy and looking confidently for Thy salvation. Keep them at all times, both during this present evening and the approaching night, from every enemy, from every adverse power of the Devil, and from vain thoughts and evil imaginations."

This prayer offers a great deal of insight into our need for God and His divine help.  Although within the context of this prayer, it seems that we are helpless and have no control over our own lives, I can't help but be reminded of the biblical quote: "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

My strength lies within Christ; He alone gives me gifts and talents I possess. Through His grace and blessing, I can perservere through the struggles of my life. If I keep my focus on Him (living a Christ-centered life, and not live selfishly) I can look "confidently for Thy salvation."

Our constant need is Christ, the Anchor which sustains us through the stormy seas of life.

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director