Aristotle Qutami

President’s Message: Aristotle Qutami May 2016

Χριστός Ανέστη! Christ is Risen!

I pray the light of Christ's resurrection continues to guide us all in our works here at St. Demetrios and beyond. Thank you to all who attended Services during Holy Week, which culminated in a spectacular Easter celebration. I hope you found the services as fulfilling as I did.

Many parishioners dedicated a great deal of time and effort to prepare for Easter and I'd like to take the opportunity to recognize a few people (and I apologize in advance, if I missed anyone). I'd like to thank:

-Keith Valle and the entire team who completed the amazing Iconostasis in time for Holy Week.
-All who helped decorate the Epitaphio as well as those who coordinated and participated in the procession on Good Friday.
-All the children who attended the Good Friday retreat and the volunteers who made it happen.
-All who served as Lightbearers, Myhrrbearers and Acolytes and those who helped them prepare.
-Those who helped with clean up and set up.
-To those who prepared the Red Eggs and brought in the white rose petals.
-All who donated towards the items on the “Holy Week Needs” list.
-Our beautiful Choir under the direction of Sarah Gyurkovitz, as well as all of our Chanters and Readers.
-Tim Harmantzis and every volunteer who graciously contributed to the Agape Picnic.
-The entire Parish Council and all others who served as Ushers.

WE ARE BLESSED WITH VERY GENEROUS PARISHIONERS!

Last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank Fr. Gary, who did an amazing job during the multitude of services, which he tirelessly lead with passion and love.

We're lucky to have such an amazing Priest, who beyond our Parish has been recognized with special distinction in our Metropolis, Archdiocese, and even our Patriarchate. At the end of May, Fr. Gary will accompany our ecclesiastical Hierarchs on a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Additionally, from early July to early August, he will be serving in the Ionian Village ministry in Greece. It's an honor for Fr. Gary to have been selected to attend these events and a great testament to his contributions to the Church. Please join me in congratulating Fr. Gary and making sure he knows he has the full support of our Parish.

In Christ’s Service,

Ari Qutami

L

ast night, during the Bridegroom Service (Holy Tuesday) members of the St Demetrios Choir performed a special Hymn they had been working on since January. It was so beautifully done, we were lucky enough to record it.

The Hymn of Kassiani is done only once a year and is based on today's Gospel Reading for Holy Wednesday, Matthew 26:6-16 which speaks of a woman who anoints Jesus with expensive oil. ‪

Holy Wednesday
The Gospel according to Matthew 26:6-16
When Jesus was at Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor." But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.



Performed on Holy Tuesday 4/26/2016

Message from Fr Gary April 2016

An Oxymoron in Holy Week

I am fascinated by oxymorons. These hypocritical expressions really don't mean anything at all, do they? For example, what, when you REALLY think about it, is a "Jumbo Scrimp?" What does it mean to have an "original copy," or "freezer burn?" Have you ever gotten an "exact estimate" or "plastic glasses?" We all know what these terms refer to, but upon closer examination they really do seem quite odd and silly.

During Holy Week, specifically on Great and Holy Friday (which is an oxymoron in and of itself- seriously, we refer to the day that Christ is Crucified as "Great" and "Good."), we will read about the "Good Thief." How can a thief be good? If he were being punished by crucifixion, then he must have committed a horrific crime. Crucifixion was used for slaves, rebels, pirates and especially-despised enemies and criminals. Therefore crucifixion was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Our Lord was severely beaten and crucified for our sake, namely, forgiveness of our sins. This "Thief," the good one, was being punished for an appalling crime, he wasn't a good person. Through Christ's compassion he finds salvation.

This "Good Thief' is actually "The Ultimate Thief." He stole his way into the Kingdom of Heaven! We are told in the earlier chapters of the Gospels by our Lord that we can find salvation even at the 11th hour! The Ultimate Thief was able to get his foot into the Kingdom at the last minute of that 11th Hour! There are three lessons can we learn from this Thief's transformation and repentance. First, Christ is approachable, second, Christ wants us to be with Him, and lastly, Christ keeps His promises.

The first lesson we can take from this Thief is, "There is never a bad time to approach Christ." Our Lord was hanging on a cross, in a lot of pain, and feeling the anguish of the persecution, and yet this brave man endearingly asks the Lord for permission to be with Him in the Kingdom. Apparently, there are times when we go through life thinking that we can handle our difficulties on our own. Sure enough, the Thief was on the verge of death and knew that his end was near. In his desperation he knew to turn to Christ. It is imperative that we have the same desire to turn to our Lord in moments of pain.

Another lesson we learn from the "Ultimate Thief," is it doesn't matter what your past was like, it depends on your attitude at the present moment and your desire to change your ways. As mentioned previously, the Thief was on the verge of his death, and he knew that his past was checkered with wrong-doings, but his desire to be with Christ led him towards a contrite heart.

Let's not forget that a few hours earlier, this "Ultimate Thief' was ridiculing Christ with the other Robber on the cross. It is only after our Lord says, "Father forgive them," that the Thief has his change of heart. Notice that Christ doesn't say, "Please Father, forgive them," but emphatically says, "Father, forgive them." The Ultimate Thief realizes the authority possessed by Christ and comes to identify Him as Lord and Savior. We should never be ashamed of what transpired in our past, Christ cares about our desire to change, repent and live a new life in Him!

The final lesson we can learn from this Ultimate Thief is Christ keeps His promises. In our Church's great wisdom, through Her Tradition and prayers, this Ultimate Thief is remembered at every Divine Liturgy! Prior to approaching for Holy Communion, faithful Orthodox Christians pray, "I will not kiss you as did Judas, but hike the thief will I confess to you: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom." The fact that our Church uses the Thief's dying words to also express our desire to be in communion with Christ and to be with Him in the Kingdom additionally proves that the Thief was made a citizen of the Kingdom.

As we gather our thoughts and reflect upon the events that emerge because of Holy Week it further strengthens us to know that our Lord can take an oxymoron and turn him into a Citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. Far is it for us to decide who gets in and who stays out, that judgment is reserved for our Lord! What we should be concerned with is our, genuine, desire to be in the Kingdom with our Lord. When a conversation includes an oxymoron, or when any of life's circumstances offer you a chance to use an oxymoron, allow your mind to recall the Thief on the Cross, the GOOD Thief on the Cross and how he edged his way into an eternity with God. Maybe the next time you are stuck in "Rush Hour," told to "Act Naturally, or have a craving for "Junk Food" your mind might summon the actions of the GOOD THIEF.

In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary

Fr Gary

Message from Fr Gary

Fr Gary

Christ-Centered Parish


I learn a lot of interesting things at committee meetings. At one meeting, when discussing the newsletter of our parish, The Myrrh-Bearer, someone frankly said, “Nobody reads that.” That person is either right or wrong depending on how much further you go into this message. At our most recent Parish Council meeting, a parish council member, politely, combined the conversation about healthy church finances with the status of our relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t preaching, it was one of YOUR ELECTED OFFICERS, that was sharing this thought. I was mesmerized by his conviction; I looked around at the other members and they were too! The Holy Spirit was present. His inspiration moved us to take the conversation about Parish financial health to a new level.

“Every year we consider ways to raise money. What fundraisers can we hold? How will we meet our obligation to the Metropolis and Archdiocese? How can we motivate better giving? Instead,” he went on, “How can we serve Christ? How can we instill a deep love for Jesus, in every member, young and old, so that our Parish becomes financially healthy and shows greater concern for how Christ-Centered we are as a group?”

It was refreshing to hear a leader of our community express these thoughts. I have offered them in the past, but it is cliché for the priest to say it, because I’m supposed to. A group begins to reexamine the metric for success when a respected member of the Parish Council looks intently at his peers and says, “Are you concerned for your salvation?” If we look at our challenges through the lens of salvation, that is, how what we do will enhance our relationship with Christ, a new perspective is born.

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