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Sunday of St. John Climacus,
Author of “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” 

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent
(April 7, 2019)

“The barren wilderness thou didst make fertile with the streams of thy tears; and by thy deep sighing thou hast given fruit through thy struggles a hundredfold. Accordingly, thou hast become a star for the universe, sparkling with miracles. Therefore, O righteous Father John Climacus, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.”

+Apolytikion of St. John Climacus in Tone Eight


The icon of the “Ladder of Divine Ascent” is connected with the well-known spiritual classic book entitled The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus, of the seventh century. His memory is celebrated on March 30 and on the Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent.


There are variety of iconographic depictions of the Ladder of Divine Ascent. In the above, a ladder stands on the earth and reaches to Heaven. Monks are seen trying to climb the ladder as winged demons are seen pulling them off. St. John Climacus leads the other monks up the ladder and in his right hand he holds a scroll on which is written: “Ascend the ladder of the virtues.” Over the top of the ladder is Christ, emerging from Heaven.   
 

From the Synaxarion
On April 7 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Martyr Kalliopios of Cilicia; Venerable George, bishop of Mitylene; and Tikhon, patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America. On this same day, the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent, we make remembrance of our godly father, John, the author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent (or Climacus).
Verses
John, dead in the flesh and also living,
Liveth eternally, even though appearing dead and without breath.
Leaving letters, a ladder for the journey upwards,
He showeth forth his pursuit of the journey upwards. The celebration of his feast on this day arose from the custom prevalent in the honorable monasteries of starting Great Lent with the reading of his lessons. John describes the method of elevating the soul to God as ascending a ladder. He teaches those who seek salvation how to lay a firm foundation for struggles, how to detect and fight every passion, how to avoid demonic snares, and how to rise from the rudimental virtues to the heights of Godlike love and humility. John of the Ladder came to Mount Sinai at age 16 and remained there, first as a novice under obedience, then as a recluse, and finally as abbot until his eightieth year. One time, his disciple, Moses, fell asleep under the shade of a large stone. John, in prayer in his cell, saw that his disciple was in danger and prayed to God for him. Later, when Moses returned, he fell on his knees and gave thanks to his spiritual father for saving him from certain death. He related how, in a dream, he heard John calling him and he jumped up and, at that moment, the stone tumbled. Had he not jumped, the stone would have crushed him. John Climacus died on March 30, 606.

Through his intercessions, O Christ God, have mercy upon us. Amen.

 
The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews. (6:13-20)
Brethren, when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Men indeed swear by one greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He interposed with an oath. So that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. (9:17-31)
At that time, a man came to Jesus, kneeling down and saying unto him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked Thy Disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And Jesus answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to Me.” And they brought the boy to Him; and when the spirit saw Jesus, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if Thou canst do anything, have pity on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when Jesus had entered the house, His Disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And Jesus said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And Jesus would not have anyone know it; for He was teaching His Disciples, saying to them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and after He is killed, He will rise on the third day.”
Source: antiochian.org

Learn more about the Ladder of Divine Ascent

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Veneration of the Precious Cross

“…Lo through the Cross joy has come into all the world…”
 

Iconography depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at St. Paul Church in Naples. The foot of the cross contains a relic of the True Precious Cross of Christ (Read about the “Pilgrim’s Token“), which the faithful venerated the third Sunday of Great Lent (Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross).


An extra Acolyte (Altar server)

“When children make noise in the Church we must forgive. The more we focus our attention on the prayer, the more the noise becomes for us a blessing. The Church is not only for us, but for the children. They are ‘The Tomorrow’ of the Church.”

+ His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph
Archbishop of New York and all North America
Antiochian Archdiocese


The extra Acolyte (altar server) venerating the Precious Cross of Christ 

 
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Wednesday – April 3
Presanctified Liturgy @ 6:00PM
 
Do not miss such a beautiful and unique service this Great Lent. Mid-week services are an invaluable gift for our busy lives. Plan to come and receive your strength and consolation as Sunday-to-Sunday was never the Christian model of life. 
 
You may consider bringing something simple and Lenten to share at the Potluck immediately following service

 
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts was first documented by St. Gregory the Dialogist (AD 540-604), who was the papal legate to Constantinople. At one time it was supposed that he had come up with the idea himself, but now it is generally supposed that he simply recorded what was otherwise being practiced at Constantinople. In the Presanctified Liturgy itself, he is still commemorated as its traditional author.

This Liturgy is also mentioned in the Canons of the seventh century Quinisext Council:
 

“On all days of the holy fast of Lent, except on the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day, and the holy day of the Annunciation, the Liturgy of the Presanctified is to be served.” (Canon 52)
Learn more about the Presanctified Liturgy.
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Saturday of the Souls 
 April 6, 2019
Divine Liturgy 9:30AM


An offering of boiled wheat (Kollyva) is blessed liturgically in connection with the Memorial Services in Church for the benefit of one’s departed, thereby making an offering unto God for the departed person, and in honor of the Sovereign Lord over life and death.
 

Please submit the names of your departed Christian family and friends to the parish in order to be remembered and prayed for at the Divine Liturgy on this “Soul Saturday”. Remember to label (“n/o”) those who are departed Heterodox (Non-Orthodox Christians) so Fr. Paul can also pray for them in the appropriate manner on this day. 
 
“The association between death and life, between that which is planted in the ground and that which emerges, is deeply embedded in the making and eating of Kollyva. The ritual food passed from paganism to early Christianity in Byzantium and later spread to the entire Orthodox world.” (Learn more here)
Anyone unable or unfamiliar with how to make Kollyva for the departed, please contact Juliana Agoritsas for instructions or to make an offering and request that she prepare it for you. 

Juliana Agoritsas:
julianna616@icloud.com
508.481.0746

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That star at the center of the Solar System venerates the icon of the Theotokos at St. Paul

Prior to Great Vespers last Saturday, a beam of sunlight pierced through one of the windows of the dome directly onto the icon of the Theotokos (unedited photos below):

“…To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever. The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever…” 
+Psalm 135 (7-8)  

The sun – created to give light and energy for life on earth – has bowed low to venerate the beautifully decorated icon of the Theotokos and the Son – the “Light of the world”. 

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2019 Great Lent & Holy Week 
Stewardship Opportunities

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.

Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

+ Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mt. 6:1-4)

New purple Acolyte Sticharions (Altar Server Tunics)
From Riza Orthodox Vestments of the Serbian Orthodox Church 


During the Lenten periods, the vestment colors are to be dark (dark blue, purple, dark green, dark red, and/or black). 


 

The Acolytes are in need of a new and refreshed light colored set of Sticharia (tunics) for the periods outside of Great Lent.
 
Thank you to those who have already quietly donated towards the new tunics for our altar boys. May God bless it.
Please contact Fr. Paul (frpaulgirgis@gmail.com; 239-348-0828) if you are interested in making an offering toward this goal or simply do so by “earmarking” your gift before placing it in the offering tray or candle box.

+++
 

2019 Great Lent & Holy Week Schedule 

+The “Spiritual Pilgrimage”+

Select the image below for the full schedule or view the parish calendar.

 
Brothers and sisters, journey through Great Lent with resolve to push a little more than you have in years past. It is not too late – start now. 

This is not a season of “deprivation” and “sadness” but rather an opportunity for transformation – your life can very well begin to change and grow into a deeper, more joyful, and peaceful communion with the Living God. Discover and realize the true purpose for your existence during this Lenten season.

Come to at least one additional service throughout the week – there are several opportunities.

Don’t lose-out on Great Lent, brothers and sisters.

This is a spiritual pilgrimage we make together. 

+++

[Reminder] Sundays of Great Lent:
 Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great 

On the Sundays of Great Lent we worship with the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great instead of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

What is the difference?

The Liturgy of St Basil is simply longer because the priests prayers are longer (approximately 10-15 minutes in total)

Learn more about the Divine Liturgy here.

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We thank the lovely Antiochian Women (AW) of St. Paul for their delicious work and wonderful effort in organizing such an enjoyable event.


Some of the St. Paul faithful enjoying the Mid-Lent Luncheon and Fellowship

 
About 80 faithful joyfully gathered in the pavilion for Fellowship and to support the parish at the 2019 Mid-Lent Luncheon.

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Fr. Paul and St. Paul faithful visit Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (Ft. Myers) on occasion of their “Patronal Feast”

The concelebration of Great Vespers & dinner afterwards was in commemoration of the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25).

Great Vespers with the Litia & Artoklasia was served according to ancient practice when celebrating Feasts of the Church.

 

Learn more about the Artoklasia

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Mark Your Calendar & Join Us!

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Click image below for more information

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Saturday Night Great Vespers
6:00PM

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.

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