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St. Peter Newsletter July 4, 2017 — Happy Independence Day! Fifth Sunday of Matthew, The Lord’s Prayer Explained, Interfaith Charities Needs Help…

St. Matthew

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Fifth Sunday of Matthew

St. Matthew the Apostle

St. Matthew the Apostle

Learning About the Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is the most important prayer we can pray. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray He answered, “Pray in this way…” and He taught them the Lord’s Prayer.

Below are some explanations of what each phrase in the prayer means.

Learning about the Lord's Prayer

Our Father…

In Old Testament times, no one would have dared to address God as Father. Through Christ, however, our broken relationship with our Father Creator is redeemed. Saint Maximos the Confessor writes: We have the grace of adoption and call him “Father,” not because He created us, but because he has given us rebirth and regeneration by the saving work of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Who art in heaven…

Acknowledging that God is in heaven (or, translated literally, “in the heavens”) indicates that God is omnipresent; just as the heavens surround us no matter where we are, God is also everywhere at all times. Saint John Chrysostom clarifies that this doesn’t mean God is confined to heaven; it means that the person praying, by acknowledging that his Father God is in the heavens, directs his own heart and thoughts toward heaven.

Hallowed be Thy name.

The Old Testament makes it clear that God’s name is holy and should never be taken in vain. The Jewish custom was to avoid even mentioning God’s holy name so it wouldn’t accidentally be defiled in speech. In the New Testament, however, our Lord Jesus Christ invites us to call upon God even as our Father. This petition in the prayer is meant to remind us that God’s name is to be reverenced and kept holy.

Thy kingdom come…

This petition means two things: 1) The Lord will come back, and 2) our souls need to be transformed.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa explains how this petition leads to spiritual transformation of our souls: If God’s Kingdom comes upon us, all those things which dominate us collapse into nothingness. Darkness cannot endure the presence of light. Sickness cannot exist when health returns. The evil passions are not active when freedom from passions takes hold. When life reigns in our midst and incorruption holds sway, gone is death and vanished is corruption.

Thy will be done…

We’re often inclined to pray for what we want—the things that would make life easier or more pleasant, but this is the opposite of how the Lord teaches us to pray. We pray, instead, Thy will be done. We’re asking that God’s will rather than our own be fulfilled.

On earth, as it is in heaven.

This earthly life is characterized by passions (desire to sin) that stand in the way of fulfilling God’s will. In heaven, there aren’t any such passions. Saint Philaret of Moscow writes: In heaven the holy angels and saints in bliss, all without exception, always, and in all things, do God’s will. What we pray here is for the same to take place, through God’s help, on earth.

Give us this day…

We know that the words “our daily bread” are to follow. Because the word “daily” implies that we’ll need this bread every day, why does the Lord not simply say, “Give us our daily bread”—why does He add the words “this day?”

According to Saint John Chrysostom, the reason is because we often get ahead of ourselves. Christ God adds the words “give us this day” as a reminder that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring: So that we may not, beyond this, wear ourselves out with the care of the following day. In other words, the Lord is telling us to be concerned with only one day at a time.

Our daily bread.

Here, bread has two meanings. In the more literal sense, bread is a metaphor for all our material needs. We pray only for bread.

However, we need more than simply food for our bodies, we also need food for our souls, which will sustain us throughout eternity. Christ God teaches us that He’s the bread of life and that whoever comes to Him will never hunger (John 6:35). We receive this bread of life through the mystery of Holy Communion, through the holy Church, and through a holy spiritual life.

And forgive us our trespasses…

Forgiveness is one of the most prominent themes of the New Testament. When Adam fell from grace, he passed along sinful tendencies to each of us; mankind has longed to be released from these tendencies since the fall. This release is possible only through the mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but we have to ask for it, and we have to ask for it continually.

The need for such continual prayers for forgiveness is often overlooked by many Christians, especially those who believe that salvation is achieved through a one-time acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. However, because Christ has taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray for forgiveness daily, He shows us that daily repentance and forgiveness of sins isn’t only possible but also necessary.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

Just as we desire forgiveness from God, God calls us to forgive as well. The New Testament clearly warns that God will have mercy upon those who are also genuinely—not superficially—merciful to others (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:35). This part of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us of our responsibility not only to ask forgiveness but also to practice it.

And lead us not into temptation…

God’s will is never for us to fall into sin; inclinations toward sin are from the devil. However, God allows us to struggle against these inclinations to make us spiritually stronger and, sometimes, as a means of “burning off” our sins now rather than in eternity.

God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (I Corinthians 10:13). For because He Himself has suffered and been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).10

But deliver us from the evil one.

The Lord Jesus isn’t being redundant here. As Saint Cyril of Jerusalem explains: If the words “Lead us not into temptation” mean never to be tempted, the Lord wouldn’t have added: “But deliver us from the evil one.” The evil one is the devil, the adversary, and we ask to be delivered from him.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

This final text, a doxology, is something that most Christians attach to the end of the Lord’s Prayer. Saint Philaret of Moscow points out, we’ve just asked God for many blessings and mercies; it is only appropriate to follow our requests with an expression of the honor that we owe Him.

Source: On the Lord’s Prayer


Vespers/Liturgy for St. Paisios on July 11, 2017

St. Paisios’ feast day falls on July 12. On Tuesday, July 11 we will celebrate Vespers and Divine Liturgy starting at 6:30pm.

St. Paisios has been very active in our parish, mostly through the healing of people. One of those healings contributed to his canonization as a Saint in 2015 by the Ecumenical Patriarch (see the story: A Miracle by Elder Paisios).

Our Lord works wonders (miracles) through His Saints. We are blessed to be witnesses to some of those miracles at St. Peter’s parish.

Learn more about St. Paisios on the OrthodoxWiki website.


Orthodox Nursing Home Opens in Clearwater, Florida

Orthodox Nursing Home Opens in Clearwater

From Most Holy Theotokos Rescuer of the Perishing:

Recently, a pan-Orthodox group banded together and started Most Holy Theotokos Rescuer of the Perishing. It is a house of prayer and repentance which ministers to the physical and spiritual needs of Orthodox elderly in the Tampa Bay area. We are located just south of downtown Clearwater and less than a quarter mile from the largest hospital in the area, Morton Plant.

The board of directors is pan-Orthodox representing every major Orthodox jurisdiction currently serving in the area. We have priests serving on the board from the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Moscow Patriarchate, the Serbian Diocese of North America, the OCA, and a layman from the Greek Archdiocese.

Presently, we have a collaborative agreement with the owner of Magnolia Manor (where Most Holy Theotokos Rescuer of the Perishing is located). Magnolia Manor will continue to look after the physical needs of the residents while we will minister to the spiritual needs of the Orthodox residents. We will hold services, including Divine Liturgies, at the residence and have a full schedule of daily services for the residents’ spiritual edification.

We are now accepting applications from prospective Orthodox residents who would like to join us. We are seeking those who desire to live a more intense spiritual life in an Orthodox atmosphere of love and community. While we are located in the Tampa Bay area, we are pleased to welcome Orthodox residents from other parts of the country.

Please visit our website to learn more.

Fr. Hans is the Antiochian representative of this endeavor.


Interfaith Charities Reaches Out to St. Peter’s

Interfaith Charities Reaches Out to St. Peter's

Interfaith Charities reached out to us last week to provide peanut butter, jelly, and Ramen noodles to feed hungry kids in our area this summer. When school gets out, the need gets greater.

Please bring these items to church and we will get them to Interfaith Charities. St. Peter’s is committed to meeting the needs of people locally and Interfaith Charities is one way we fulfill that commission.

Learn more about Interfaith Charities on their website.


Parish Portraits: Introducing George Chionis

George and Bea Chionis

George Chionis, a loved and valued parishioner, is a son of the Mid-West. The youngest of six children, George was born in Chicago in 1931. He is the offspring of Greek immigrants; his mother and father, seeking opportunities in America, migrated to the middle of the country. George’s hard working father began as a meat cutter in Chicago and soon opened his own grocery store.

George remembers that that the four boys in his family worked in the grocery store after school. No baseball or sports activities for them because they immediately went to work, helping their father at the store.

Read George’s full story on the St. Peter website.


Coming in September: Through the Bible in One Year

Read the bible in one year

Would you like to read the entire bible? Would you like to take on this challenge with friends for encouragement and support?

On September 1, the start of the new Church Year, St. Peter’s will start a program to read the bible in one year. Information will be posted on the website in August.

Start thinking about it now.


Calendar At A Glance

  • July 17-31, 2017 Fr. Hans on Vacation

Wisdom From The Elders

God never abandons those who fight in His armies, although at times He lets them suffer wounds.
Unseen Warfare

Pray carefully and constantly. Pray in fear and trembling before the greatness of the name of Jesus.
St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

To suffer less from passionate thoughts (temptations), it is necessary to remove oneself from occasions that arouse them.

Abba Poemen

God loves us very much; He has us in mind in each and every moment and He protects us. We should know this and not be afraid of anything.
Elder Porphyrios

Remember in Your Prayers

Eva W.
John Dusckas
James L.
Carol Ann
Baby Samuel
Baby Kyriake
Brad William
Robert Jarvis
Petronia (Wife of Phil Pappas)
Anna Marie Smith Baker
Iris Kuring (Bettina Zifiris' mother)
Constantine Houpis
Ron Chromulak
Beverly Chromulak
Loucine Kassis
Mary Kassis
Baby Maximus
Annette Star
Claire Livaditis
Eva Chandilles
Baby Dani
Scott Nedoff
Anthony Mourgis
John Hansen
James Hord
Bob Smith
Tom and Jean

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

Add or remove names and print this list for easy reference during your prayer time on the St. Peter website.


Sunday Readings

Search the Scriptures


For the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

How great are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. (10:1-10)

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that it may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified. Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it. But the righteousness based on faith says: Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into Heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.


For the Fifth Sunday of Matthew

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (8:28-9:1)

At that time, when Jesus came to the country of the Gergesenes, two demoniacs met Him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have we to do to Thee, O Son of God? Art Thou come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many swine was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged Him, “If Thou castest us out, send us away into the herd of swine.” And He said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, and what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their neighborhood. And getting into a boat He crossed over and came to His own city.