St. Peter Newsletter April 12, 2016 — Fifth Sunday of Lent / St. Mary of Egypt

St. Mary of Egypt

St. Mary of Egypt

She began her life as a young woman who followed the passions of the body, running away from her parents at age twelve for Alexandria. There she lived as a harlot for seventeen years, refusing money from the men that she copulated with, instead living by begging and spinning flax.

One day, however, she met a group of young men heading toward the sea to sail to Jerusalem for the veneration of the Holy Cross. Mary went along for the ride, seducing the men as they traveled for the fun of it. But when the group reached Jerusalem and actually went towards the church, Mary was prohibited from entering by an unseen force. After three such attempts, she remained outside on the church patio, where she looked up and saw an icon of the Theotokos. She began to weep and prayed with all her might that the Theotokos might allow her to see the True Cross; afterwards, she promised, she would renounce her worldly desires and go wherever the Theotokos may lead her.

After this heart-felt conversion at the doors of the church, she fled into the desert to live as an ascetic. She survived for years on only three loaves of bread and thereafter on scarce herbs of the land. For another seventeen years, Mary was tormented by “wild beasts—mad desires and passions.” After these years of temptation, however, she overcame the passions and was led by the Theotokos in all things.

Following 47 years in solitude, she met the priest St. Zosima in the desert, who pleaded with her to tell him of her life. She recounted her story with great humility while also demonstrating her gift of clairvoyance; she knew who Zosima was and his life story despite never having met him before. Finally, she asked Zosima to meet her again the following year at sunset on Holy Thursday by the banks of the Jordan.

Zosima did exactly this, though he began to doubt his experience as the sun began to go that night. Then Mary appeared on the opposite side of the Jordan; crossing herself, she miraculously walked across the water and met Zosima. When he attempted to bow, she rebuked him, saying that as a priest he was far superior, and furthermore, he was holding the Holy Mysteries. Mary then received communion and walked back across the Jordan after giving Zosima instructions about his monastery and that he should return to where they first met exactly a year later. When he did so, he found Mary’s body with a message written on the sand asking him for burial and revealing that she had died immediately after receiving the Holy Mysteries the year before (and thus had been miraculously transported to the spot where she now lay).

So Zosima, amazed, began to dig, but soon tired; then a lion approached and began to help him, that is, after Zosima had recovered from his fear of the creature. Thus St. Mary of Egypt was buried. Zosima returned to the monastery, told all he had seen, and improved the faults of the monks and abbot there. He died at almost a hundred years old in the same monastery.

Later, the story of Mary’s life was written down by St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Read more on the Orthodoxwiki website.

Bp. Thomas Visits St. Peter’s This Wednesday (April 13)

Bp. Thomas

Bp. Thomas will join us for the Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday, April 13. His Grace serves the Diocese of Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic. Learn more about Bp. Thomas on the Antiochian Archdiocese website. His joining us during a visit to his parents who live in North Fort Myers.

Letter Parents: Bring Your Children to Lazarus Saturday (April 23)

The Raising of Lazarus

Elevation of the Precious and Life Giving Cross

Parents, take note of the letter on the website (which will be mailed to all parents) outlining a morning of events for your child start off Holy Week. We will begin with the Liturgy (where Fr. Hans will explain the importance of the day to the children), a pancake breakfast, making palm crosses to be distributed the next day at Palm Sunday and confession for the kids.

Get more information on the website.

Also consider bringing your children to the Taking Christ Down from the Cross service on Holy Friday afternoon. This is a short and highly visual service and children love it. Start setting the traditions early and it will stay with them their entire lives.

Palm Sunday Brunch (April 24)

Palm Sunday Brunch

As is our custom, St. Peter’s will hold a Palm Sunday Brunch following the Liturgy on Palm Sunday, April 24. This is a great time of fellowship for all. We need a count so please sign up at Church this Sunday or submit your names on the website.

A free will donation is requested.

Lenten Service Schedule

Extreme Humility

Sunday, April 17 Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt
Hours 9:00am Divine Liturgy 9:30am

Monday, April 18
Great Compline 6:30pm

Wednesday, April 20
Presanctified Liturgy 6:30pm

Friday, April 22
Great Compline 6:30pm

Saturday, April 23 Lazarus Saturday

Liturgy 9:30am / Making of crosses / Pancake breakfast / Children confessions

The St. Peter Lenten Service Schedule is available on the website.

St. Peter’s Raises $450 for Food for the Hungry

Food for Hungry People

Our collection on Sunday raised $450 to help the Orthodox Christian refugees in the war torn regions of the Middle East. As you know, the assault by ISIS on the Christians in the region is relentless (they are trying to drive all Christians out). Also, the current administration has effectively blocked almost all Christian immigration to the United States.

You can read more about Food for the Hungry on the Antiochian Archdiocese website.

Letter to Invite Friends to Church

Would you like to invite a friend to church but don’t know what to say? Try out the “Invitation to Worship” letter on the website. You can print and send the letter as is or take the language and make your own.

We hope you find it helpful.

See and print the letter on the St. Peter website.

Lenten Suppers Following Wednesday Presanctified Liturgies

Man giving thanks to God

On Wednesday evenings following Presanctified Liturgy we will share in a light Lenten supper of lentil soup, bread and fruit. This is a practice of many churches and provides rich fellowship and sharing.

Additions to Calendar

  • Confessions following weekday services or by appointment.
  • Lazarus Saturday — Pancake breakfast (great for the kids), making of Palm Sunday Crosses, confessions for children following breakfast.
  • Palm Sunday — Palm Sunday Brunch following Liturgy in Social Hall.
  • Holy Friday — Decorate tomb of Christ following Royal Hours (around 10:30am).
  • Agape Vespers — Paschal celebration and feast in Social Hall following vespers.

Changing the Way We Read Names During Liturgy

The parish is growing and the list of names read during the Great Entrance is getting larger. From now on Fr. Hans will continue to read all the submitted names in the Proskomedi (the prayers of the preparation of the gifts) but they will not be read during the Great Entrance.

The names that will be read out loud are those that are sick and the deceased. We will have a separate list just for the sick where you can include the names of the people who need prayers.

Confessions Follow Weekday Services

Fr. Hans will hear confessions after any weekday service or by appointment. Why confess? It heals the soul. Confession is a sacrament of healing, not judgment.

Flower Donations Requested

Can you help donate for Easter flowers? Please see Angela Long or a Parish Council member to make your donation.

Lenten Holy Week Books

Holy Week (Palm Sunday Evening through Agape Service)

Holy Week Service Book

This year we will be using the Holy Week Service Book of the Antiochian Archdiocese during Holy Week. If you would like one for private use please order it from Ancient Faith Publishing. The price is $35.00.

Includes the three Bridegroom services, the three Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts; the service of Holy Unction; the Vesperal Divine Liturgy and 12 Passion Gospels of Holy Thursday; the Royal Hours, Vespers, and Lamentations of Holy Friday; the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Holy Saturday morning; Great and Holy Pascha; and the Agape Vespers of Sunday afternoon.

Printing Services from Your Computer

Some of the services we use can be found on the internet. This page lists all the services that you can print out and use. Most of the services we use not found in books will be taken from here.

Orthodox Wisdom

There is no greater love than that a man lays down his life for his neighbor. When you hear someone complaining and you struggle with yourself and do not answer him back with complaints; when you are hurt and bear it patiently, not looking for revenge; then you are laying down your life for your neighbor.

—Abba Poemen

Just as a basic concern is to be careful of anything that might be harmful to our physical health, so our spiritual concern should watch out for anything that might harm our spiritual life and the work of faith and salvation. Therefore, carefully and attentively assess your inner impulses: are they from God or from the spirit of evil?

– St. John Maximovitch

Preserve in yourselves the feeling of need, and you will always have stimulation for prayer.

—St. Theophan the Recluse

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Remember in Your Prayers

Constandina James

Peter Wouralis

James Hord

Bob Smith

Tom and Jean, parents of Patty and Jerry.

How should we pray for the sick? Remember them daily. Say their names and ask God to bestow mercy and grace on them.

Sunday Readings

Search the Scriptures

Epistle

For the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

Make your vows to the Lord our God, and perform them.
God is known in Judah; His Name is great in Israel.

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews. (9:11-14)

Brethren, when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Gospel

For the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. (10:32-45)

At that time, Jesus took His twelve Disciples, and began to tell them what was to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit upon Him, and kill Him; and after three days He will rise.”

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Him, and said to Him, “Teacher, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire” And Jesus said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And they said to Him, “Grant us to sit, one at Thy right hand and one at Thy left, in Thy glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized. But to sit at My right hand or at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be servant of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.