Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
There’s more to Kodiak Island than its famous bears, fishing fleet, and our nation’s
largest Coast Guard Station… Each year in the first week of August, hundreds of
pilgrims from throughout Alaska, the United States and Canada, and even from abroad,
gather on Kodiak Island, Alaska, to honor the simple lay monk who was the first saint
glorified by the Orthodox Church in America, our Father Among the Saints, Herman,
the Wonderworker of Alaska and All America (+1856).
This solemn yet simple annual pilgrimage, held every year August 7-10 (August 9 commemorates
his canonization in 1977), is the source of many blessings for all who participate.
Most of the Divine Services and other services of prayer during the pilgrimage are
celebrated in Holy Resurrection Cathedral in the City of Kodiak, in the presence
of Saint Herman’s relics.
These services are definitely beautiful and inspiring. But for most, the highlight
of the pilgrimage is the day on which the pilgrims climb aboard fishing boats provided
by local fishermen and make the nine-mile journey across the open sea to Spruce Island
to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. It was to Spruce Island that Saint Herman made
his way late in life in order to find the silence and solitude that his monastic
heart so desired. But even there he did not forget his duty to his neighbor, as
he assisted the native Alaskans on Spruce Island in many ways. He showed special
care, concern, and love for the orphan children. To them, he was their beloved “Apa,”
or “grandfather,” and he ministered to them with the same zeal, dedication, and love
that had first moved him to accept the obedience of being among the first group of
Orthodox missionaries who traveled to “Russian Alaska” to preach the Gospel to the
native peoples in 1794.
While most of us are unable to participate in this annual pilgrimage, we are nonetheless
able to travel in spirit to Kodiak and Spruce Island—for no distance separates us
from Saint Herman for, like all the saints in heaven, he is present with us and for
us; and he intercedes with special love for all of us, Orthodox Christians, his North
American “orphans.” It is also wonderful to note, however, that Saint Herman is venerated
not only in North America, but throughout the world. He is not just “our American
saint,” but a saint of and for the entire Orthodox Church. I recall visiting an
orphanage in Chernivtsi Oblast in Western Ukraine. The orphanage, lovingly run by
a small community of nuns, has a beautiful chapel where the children participate
in the regular cycle of the Divine Services (it was particularly touching to hear
them sing). And there, on the chapel ceiling, as though looking over and blessing
and protecting the children, was a beautifully-painted icon of our own Saint Herman
of Alaska. Yes, this was a beautiful reminder of home, but it was also a reminder
of the universality and unity of the Church.
This year, as hundreds of pilgrims make their way to Alaska to honor Saint Herman’s
memory, to venerate his relics, and to pray in those places that he lived and ministered
and worked out his salvation, we also ask his prayers and intercession for our parish
community in Phoenix as well as for all of our loved ones, near and far. May our
venerable and God-bearing Father Herman of Alaska continue to intercede for the Church
in North America and for all those throughout the world who are inspired by his life
and seek his prayerful help and intercession.
With love in the Lord,
PRAYER TO SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA
O Holy Father and Patron of the Church in America: Be a physician to the weak in
faith; be a support to the fallen; be a defender to the defenseless; be a bulwark
of strength to the weary in spirit; be a guide to the travelers by sea, by land and
by air; be our heavenly intercessor.
O Blessed Father Herman of Alaska, together
with all the Saints and the Heavenly Hosts, pray to God that on each of us He will
bestow wisdom for our mind, strength for our will, light for our spirit, enabling
us to attain to the true peace of life which is from God alone. We praise with joyous
and grateful hearts, the Life-Creating Trinity: Father Almighty, Only-Begotten Son,
Comforter, Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
The Placing of the Cincture (Sash) of the Most Holy Mother of God
The Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos in a church of Constantinople’s
Chalcoprateia district took place during the reign of the emperor Theodosius the
Younger. Before this the holy relic, entrusted to the Apostle Thomas by the Mother
of God Herself, was kept by pious Christians at Jerusalem after Her Dormition. During
the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (886-911), his wife Zoe was afllicted with an unclean
spirit, and he prayed that God would heal her.
The empress had a vision that she would be healed of her infirmity if the Belt of
the Mother of God were placed upon her. The emperor then asked the Patriarch to open
the coffer. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the coffer in which the relic
was kept, and the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged
by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick empress, and immediately she was
freed from her infirmity. They sang hymns of thanksgiving to the Most Holy Theotokos,
then they placed the venerable Belt back into the coffer and resealed it.
In commemoration of the miraculous occurrence and the twofold Placing of the venerable
Belt, the Feast of the Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos was
established. Parts of the holy Belt are in the Vatopedi monastery on Mt. Athos, in
Trier monastery, and in Georgia.
NEW AIR CONDITIONER/FURNACE UNITS
As has already been noted on several occasions, we recently needed to replace one
of the two church air conditioning/heating units- the one on the east side of the
church. This unit was approximately fifteen years old and was barely functioning.
The other unit was also recently evaluated and it can be expected that it will also
need to be replaced in the near future. The benefit to replacing these units is that
new units will be much more efficient and, it is hoped, will significantly reduce
our monthly utility bill, particularly in the summer months.
The cost of the unit which was already replaced is $10,876.00. We can anticipate
the same cost for the unit that will most likely need replacement in the near future.
Thus, we need to raise approximately $22,000.00 to assure that our church is efficiently
and effectively air conditioned in the summer months and heated in the cooler months
of winter. Please note that this expense is not reflected in our annual budget.
Everyone in our parish community is asked to make a responsible decision concerning
what can be contributed to this endeavor. Pledge forms are available in the entrance
to the church. Please complete them and return them soon to Father Daniel or David
Homyak, Church Treasurer. Don’t let the fact that we have two air conditioners now
running and that the church is relatively comfortable during the services fool you!
We still need to pay for that comfort. Your commitment to our parish family is
deeply appreciated. Thank you.
UPDATE ON THE DIOCESAN ASSEMBLY OCTOBER 7-9, 2014
October 7-9 and the 2014 Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the West will soon be
here. An initial meeting of the planning committee took place on July 17th. Your
fellow parishioners will soon reach out to you to ask you to assist with various
aspects of planning this special event. The NEXT MEETING of the Assembly Planning
team will take place on Wednesday, August 27, at 6:00 p.m.
DIOCESAN ASSEMBLY DIVINE LITURGY - Mark your calendars now! Metropolitan TIKHON and
Archbishop BENJAMIN will preside at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Thursday,
October 9, at 8:00 a.m. October 9th is the day on which the Orthodox Church commemorates
the Glorification of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow. It is also Metropolitan
Tikhon’s nameday. Mark your calendars now and plan on attending. This is an historic
event for our community—plan on taking a few hours off of work or away from school
in order to participate in this special moment. You’ll be glad you made the effort
to participate in this memorable event.
GUESTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME!
You are always encouraged to bring guests to our services, whether Orthodox, Christians
of the various denominations, non-Christians, as well as those who hold no particular
belief. Indeed, bringing guests, especially those who are not part of any other
Christian community, is a part of our ongoing outreach and evangelization. However,
it is also encouraged to prepare them for their visit by letting them know what to
expect. You can help them feel comfortable by explaining to them the Orthodox practice
concerning the reception of Holy Communion. It’s very simple: The reception of
Holy Communion is reserved to those who are baptized and chrismated members of the
Orthodox Church who have prepared themselves by fasting, prayer, participation in
the divine services, and a timely Confession.
SAINT KATHERINE COLLEGE – A representative of Saint Katherine College, Encinitas,
CA, will join us for Liturgy on Sunday, August 10, and will make a short presentation
during coffee hour. Saint Katherine College is the only Orthodox institution of
higher education west of the Mississippi. Fliers providing information about the
academic programs offered at SKC are available in the vestibule.