Church History Archive


A Message From Fr. Lou – Divine Thanksgiving

Divine Thanksgiving


The only “American” religious holiday – Thanksgiving – is just around the corner. Or course we know the historical significance as the Native Americans broke bread with the visitors and explorers from Europe, thanking God for the fruits of the Fall harvest. That Thanksgiving was a “communion” of sorts where two distinct peoples, the Europeans and Native Americans had a common – union (communion) of gratitude towards God for His abundant blessings. That “Eucharist” (from the Greek “Efharistea” meaning thanksgiving) provides a powerful and lasting example for all generations. It is an example to always be thankful to God – to live a life of gratitude. It is an example of unity in diversity – of reaching out and welcoming in – of two very different people groups connecting to God and then to one another.

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving of 2014, let us be grateful for all of our Lord’s blessings and reach out and be open to people of all backgrounds in love and Thanksgiving to God.

With our Lord’s Blessings,

Fr. Lou



A Message from Fr. Lou – “I lift up my eyes to the hills…” Psalm 121:1

In 1999, Presbytera Marsha and I, had the incredible opportunity to accompany a group of St. Catherine parishioners, friends and family members, in a visit to the Holy Land and Mt. Sinai. There are so many amazing memories from this experience as we walked where Jesus, His Disciples and Prophets walked. For most of this trip, we had the good fortune to have as our guide, His Grace, Bishop Nikeforos of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. He took us to a number of Orthodox sites that most would not have the opportunity to visit and arranged, among many other events, a participation for us in a midnight Divine Liturgy in the Holy Sepulcher and the veneration of St. Catherine’s relics at the monastery bearing her name at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
There were a couple of days, however, that His Grace could not be with us so we had then, as our guide, a Jewish man called Shlomo, who was the friend of our Palestinian driver. That opportunity was special as well as we witnessed many Jewish sites introduced to us by Shlomo, as his Palestinian Arab friend drove us from one site to another. As I fondly recall these events a beautiful psalm in song comes to mind: “As the mountains are around Jerusalem, the Lord is all around His people.” (Psalm 125:2). Shlomo led all fifty of us in song as we drove in the countryside of Israel, observing the mountains near and around Jerusalem. We contemplated the thousands of years of love and faithful relationship between God and His people, Israelite and Gentile alike.
As we celebrate the 30th Anniversary this year of our St. Catherine Parish, one generation passes the torch to the next. In honoring the Founders of our Parish, we connect with them – those living here and those living on in that next realm with our Lord. We also connect through them with hundreds of generations of faithful stewards of God’s grace, family members, Saints, Disciples and Prophets, Gentile and Jew alike.
The second generation of our St. Catherine Parish now begins as one more generation of love in faithful relationship between God and His people.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills…” As you gaze to the beautiful Rockies in the West may your minds’ eye take you to the East – to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – “The Sun of Righteousness.” And remember “As the mountains are all around Jerusalem, The Lord is all around His people,” from this generation and forever more.
With our Lord’s blessings,
Fr. Lou








After well over 40 days of preparation, hopefully taking an introspective look at ourselves in relationship with God and one another, re-living the Week of Passion and the Crucifixion of our Lord and then celebrating His glorious and life giving Resurrection, where are we now? What is this time really about for you and me here, today?

In order to answer these questions, let’s re-examine the first centuries of our Christian Faith. The Lenten preparation for Pascha was initially about baptism. Adults, some of whom had prepared for as long as three years, went through their final days of preparation for illumination into the Faith in the 40 days prior to Holy Week. Their baptisms were then celebrated on Pascha Sunday in the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection. Can you imagine how they must have felt, when they heard for the first time, after such a preparation, the words of the deacon or priest, “In the fear of God, with faith and love draw near”, inviting them to receive Holy Communion with the faithful? Their months and years of preparation surely would have brought them to a fear or awe of God. After all, this God—above imagination, All-Powerful—submitted to become a simple and humble man, taking the sins of humans on His shoulders. He died for all and for each person, so that all and each person might live eternally. “What God is so great as our God…” they must have felt.  And surely they believed in Him. No god of the pagans was a god like God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No God became a man, died and resurrected like Jesus. No god of old was All-Powerful and yet All-Humble, with them yet separated from them, visible yet invisible.

And then, there was love. The fear or awe of God is most about recognition of God’s love for humankind and for each person. When the deacon or priest invited them to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord for the first time, he invited each of them personally, by their new Christian name, as the “servant of God”. The love of God, at that moment must have become for each of them, deeply intimate. Their time of preparation, of study, of commitment in faith, of prayer was realized as the warmth of “the cup of salvation” permeated their very being. The Bread and Wine transformed, now the Body and Blood entered and completed every member of their body so that they became a new member of the Body of Believers, the Body of Christ.

So, where are we now, centuries later? What is this time of Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha really about for you and me? We are invited to live anew, to renew our own baptism with fear and awe, with faith and commitment, and ultimately with love.  We are invited to accept once again, the eternal love for us of our Lord and God, allowing Him into our lives most intimately and personally so that He may be our Lord and Savior and we His servants. We are invited to allow His love for us to set us free to love Him, by loving one another. This IS what it is all about. “With the fear of God, in faith and in love draw near.”

On behalf of our clergy and Parish Council, I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s holy days and Pascha so beautiful and special – our choir, chanters, acolytes, Philoptochos and Ministry Teams, cookers, bakers, cleaners, decorators, philanthropists, volunteers and staff.  Glory to God for all you do.  May His Resurrection shine brightly in your hearts today and always.  Until next year . . . (Kai tou  chronou!)




With our Lord’s blessings, Fr. Lou


A Message From Fr. Lou – “Thanksgiving” …




With the beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year 2013-2014, we enter into the 30th year of the existence of our Saint Catherine Parish. Many who were baptized at Slaven’s Elementary School and some who were baptized after our Saint Catherine’s Temple was completed, have now baptized their own children under the protection of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr. The faithful of this Parish have accepted into the “communion of saints” faithful from various Orthodox backgrounds and pilgrims from a variety of Christian traditions and ancient faiths who have chosen to call Orthodoxy their home. We glorify our Lord for His Divine Presence, love and grace. We thank our Lady the Theotokos, and the Great Martyr Catherine for their intercessory prayers and protection. Finally, we thank our founding fathers and mothers and you the faithful who have accepted their leadership mantle to live eucharistically – in thanksgiving.

Evharisto – the root of Eucharist, which means “thank you”, is such a powerful word. Its core “charis” means “grace”. It’s prefix “Ev” means bless. When we therefore thank God – first and foremost – we “bless” our Loving Lord for the grace given to us. Now grace by definition is a free gift, undeserved, if you will. That free gift begins with our life itself and continues with everything that is in us and that we have. Of course, the Eucharist refers to Holy Communion as well. We therefore live in perpetual thanksgiving, in communion with God and one another. This state of being and the attitude of thanksgiving associated with it has at its core our healing from the fall of original sin – through God’s love and grace .

In this 30th Ecclesiastical year of our Saint Catherine Parish, we again offer ministry and participation opportunities for all our parishioners – young and old alike. These are outlined later in this publication. Please take a moment to see where there are ministries to serve your needs and areas where you might serve in thanksgiving to our Lord for the spiritual gifts you have received. If you have any questions about any ministry please refer them to the Ministry Leader, or Alina Buzdugan, our Ministry Teams Coordinator.

May we all have a most blessed and beautiful 2013-2014  Church Year celebrating 30 years of communion in Thanksgiving to our merciful and Loving Lord and God – Father Son and Holy Spirit.

This is the year of the Lord!

With His blessings, Fr. Lou




History of the Orthodox Church

by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

Christianity has always been unusually sensitive to the past; its enduring relevance has, in fact, never been in doubt. The basic reason for this sensibility is that Christian biblical revelation takes place in a historical context and is, quite simply, a revelation of historical data, of God’s activity in history. It is in time and human space that man’s salvation unfolds-God’s chosen way to redeem us. That Christian Scripture takes the form, more often than not, of a richly detailed historical narrative should come as no surprise. [Read More]



Pentecost: From Law to Grace

Christ is Risen!

The Feast of Pentecost occurs this year on Sunday, June 11, fifty days following Pascha. We know the Scriptural reference from Acts, Chapter Two, when on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostles were gathered in Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit descended upon them as “tongues of fire” and they began to speak in various tongues. Peter preached about Christ to a great crowd, each of whom heard him in their own native dialect. On that day some 3,000 people were baptized and thus, the Church began.

What we may not know is that Pentecost was not originally a Christian Feast. It was a Jewish Feast. It was celebrated 50 days following Pesach (Passover). Its Hebrew name was Shavu’ot or “Festival of Weeks”. It had an agricultural and religious significance. On the one hand, it was a harvest feast of first fruits (of wheat or corn) with a harvest thanksgiving offering brought to the Temple. Religiously, it commemorated the giving of the Torah or the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai following their release from bondage in Egypt. Jews from the entire region would gather in Jerusalem to offer their harvest first fruits and read all night from the Torah. Judaism still celebrates this Festival, counting daily from the second day of Pesach to the Eve of Shavu’ot, 49 days or seven full weeks, reminding them of the important connection between the two feasts. Passover freed them from physical bondage, but the giving of Torah redeemed them spiritually from bondage to idolatry and immorality. Pentecost is the Hellenized word for the Feast referring to 50 days. It was and is for Jews a thanksgiving harvest feast of first fruits and a celebration of the giving of Torah and the Law.

Is Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior? We of course believe that He is. Please note then, for those who believe He is, how the feasts of Pesach (Pascha or Passover) and Shavu’ot (Pentecost) are transformed or rather fulfilled in Christ. The Passover lamb sacrifice in Egypt of old, the marking of the doorposts of the Hebrew homes with the lamb’s blood and the Angel of Death passing over them allowed Jews freedom after 400 years of bondage. Christ, the Messiah, becomes the New Paschal Lamb. His Perfect blood sacrifice, death on the cross and His glorious three day resurrection allows His followers to be set free from eternal bondage to sin with a Passover to life eternal, following death.

The Feast of Shavu’ot (Pentecost), in Christ and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is transformed or rather fulfilled from a celebratory feast of the giving of Torah or the Law to a feast celebrating the receiving of the Grace of the Holy Spirit; from a harvest feast of thanksgiving, in offering the harvest’s first fruits, to a feast celebrating the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ – The Messiah – The Savior and in the Holy Spirit, the People of the Law are transformed or fulfilled to and in the People of Grace.

In the words of St. Paul, “…the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith, but after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:24-29).

May you and I, through the Love of God the Father and the Power of the Holy Spirit, put on Christ, become heirs according to the promise and live as People of Grace.

Christ is Risen!
Fr. Lou