Articles Tagged ‘Message from Fr Constantine’

Greetings From Fr Constantine

Dear Faithful Community of St. Demetrios,

Warm Greetings in our Lord!

My name is Fr. Constantine Trumpower. As you are likely aware, I have been assigned to your parish as your new pastor, effective February 1. I cannot tell you how joyful I am to receive this assignment from His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos. Your parish’s reputation precedes it, as a community of believers desiring to spread the Word of Christ’s Truth, to grow in His love, and to be transformed through worship, fellowship, and ministry to God, one another, and our neighbors of Ventura County. This, of course, being the fulfillment of the Great Commandment:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37b-40 ESV)

Certainly, the successes of your labors of over a decade and a half are due, by God’s Grace, to your own efforts, under the guidance, support and visionary leadership of Fr. Gary Kyriacou. Being Father Gary’s junior, it is a humbling task coming to serve you all, even while Fr. Gary will remain in Camarillo, to continue loving and serving in a different capacity. He has already assured me of his intent to assist me, to make sure our transition goes smoothly, and that I have every resource at my disposal, so that I might get up to speed quickly. You have been truly blessed with Fr. Gary!

As we move forward, I pray that we will meet together, face to face, very soon. I also pray that we will, all together, build on what has already been established here at St. Demetrios, and, by the prayers of the Saint, continue the life-long work or increasing our spiritual knowledge, purity, and heartfelt love and service to God and neighbor. I look forward to meeting you all soon! Please know that I will be making efforts to contact everyone individually, through the contact information in the parish directory. If you are not sure the office has the most up-to-date information, please call and confirm.

In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Constantine Trumpower

Reflections on the Life of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary: A Message From Fr. Constantine

Fr Constantine

Message from Fr Constantine, July - August 2021

Reflections on the Life of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary: Fr. Constantine's Message

When reflecting on the Life of Mary, the Mother of God, it is impossible to miss the abundant love and virtue she contained in her person. Her very birth was a miracle of God. “πάντα ὅσα ἠθέλησεν ὁ κύριος ἐποίησεν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐν τῇ γῇ/Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth” (Psalm 135:6, ESV). It pleased God to choose the aged Joachim and Anna to conceive Mary, the holiest person of all time, past, present and future. In Jesus’ ministry, He said “I tell you, among those born of women...[no man]...is greater than John [the Baptist]” (Luke 7:28, ESV). St. John the Baptist is the greatest man born from two human parents, but Mary is the greatest human being born from two human parents. Period! Mary and St. John were perfect in their obedience to the will of God, in so far as a human can be. They both truly deserve the title of “Christian”, for they are reflections, in virtue and conduct, of Christ Himself (despite the fact that Christ was born after them!).

Throughout her life, Mary’s purity and dignity were preserved. Holy Tradition teaches us that at age 3, Mary was dedicated to living in the Temple of God, in service to the temple, and being educated there. We see this in the hymns and celebration of the November 21st feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple:

“Today the Theotokos, the temple that contains God, is led into the Temple of God; and Zacharias welcomes her. Today the Holy of Holies is exultant, and the chorus of Angels mystically celebrates. Together with them let us also keep the feast today, and with Gabriel let us cry aloud: Rejoice, O Maiden full of grace, the Lord is with you; and He has the great mercy.”

Idiomelon after Psalm 50 - Feast Day Orthros. Fr. Seraphim Dedes Trans.

At age 13, it was customary for temple virgins to marry and raise a family. There was no concept of living “as a single” in Jewish antiquity, nor was there a well-established community of celibate ascetics to join, such as we have today in Orthodox monasticism. Yet, Mary went against the cultural grain, desiring to remain in perpetual virginity, to be wed to God alone, as it were, so that all her focus might remain in service of God. Holy Tradition and the scriptures teach us that the Venerable Joseph, a widower with adult children, was selected by God to watch over Mary and care for her. After the Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, in which she consented to bearing God incarnate, and Jesus’ birth and flight to Egypt, we know next to nothing about how Jesus grew to adulthood. Yet, knowing the sanctity of Mary, and this great responsibility she and Joseph had received in raising Jesus, you can be certain that they raised Him with much reverence and love, passing on to Him all that they knew.

The Holy Gospels do not contain much information about Mary - we know that she was among the followers of Jesus, and that, according to Holy Tradition, she encouraged many believers, and quietly taught others as well. She was faithful to her Son and our God, being present at the Crucifixion, burial and Resurrection of Christ, as well as the Ascension, as depicted in the feast day’s icon.

Toward the end of her pure life on earth, Mary was informed by the Archangel Gabriel that she would pass away. The hymns and icon of the Dormition, or Falling Asleep, of Mary, which we celebrate on August 15th, depicts the Apostles being gathered from around the known world, to the home of St. John the Theologian (St. John had been entrusted by Jesus to care for Mary (cf. John 19)). After her repose, she appeared to the apostles, encouraging them to persevere in the Christian life. She is a par excellάnce example to the church of what we can hope for - the resurrection of soul and body in the kingdom of heaven, where there is no pain, corruption or sorrow of any kind.

May we strive to study the Holy Scriptures regarding her, and our Holy Orthodox Tradition, through the hymns, icons and commentaries of the saints, about her. May we ask for the interceding prayers of Mary, the “Panagia” (most holy of all people), for God’s strength to imitate her virtuous way of life, which was continually directed toward God.


With Love, in Christ,

Fr. Constantine

Rejoice!: A Message From Fr. Constantine

Fr Constantine

Message from Fr Constantine, March - April 2021

Rejoice!: Fr. Constantine's Message

Dearly Beloved in the Lord,

Rejoice!

It is with deep joy that I write to you. Though we continue our isolation and separateness in the midst of the pandemic, I rejoice that we have such ample opportunity to call out to Christ for His Mercy and Love: "Through the cross, joy has come to the whole world" (Sunday Matins/Orthros). But how can anyone speak this way without sounding callous or inconsiderate? "What?!" How dare he say to rejoice! I've been home for nearly a year; lonely, depressed, and mentally stagnating. How can I possibly rejoice?"

Truly, the joy I refer to is not to be equated with "happiness": an emotional state which, although important, comes and goes. Rather, it is this deep, abiding joy that our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ speaks about in the Holy Gospels:

"Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”.

John 15 9b-11, ESV

As we well know, our Lord suffered immeasurably, voluntarily dying on the cross out of love for us. How then could he refer to joy in the midst of this sorrow? Herein lies the "secret" of Great and Holy Lent. Lent aids the Orthodox Christian in entering into the voluntary suffering AND Life Giving Resurrection of the God/Man, Jesus Christ.

I defer to the Work, "Great Lent: Journey to Pascha" (pp11-12) by the Famous Rev. Fr. Alexander Schmemann (+1983), who better explains:

When a man leaves on a journey, he must know where he is going. Thus with Lent. Above all, Lent is a spiritual journey and its destination is Easter, "the Feast of Feasts." It is the preparation for the "fulfillment of Pascha, the true Revelation." We must begin, therefore, by trying to understand this connection between Lent and Easter, for it reveals something very essential, very crucial about our Christian faith and life.

Is it necessary to explain that Easter is much more than one of the feasts, more than a yearly commemoration of a past event? Anyone who has...taken part in that night which is "brighter than the day," who has tasted of that unique joy, knows it. But what is that joy about? Why can we sing, as we do during the Paschal liturgy: "today are all things filled with light, heaven and earth and places under the earth"? In what sense do we celebrate, as we claim we do, "the death of Death, the annihilation of Hell, the beginning of a new and everlasting life..."? To all these questions, the answer is: the new life which almost two thousand years ago shone forth from the grave, has been given to us, to all those who believe in Christ.

And it was given to us on the day of our Baptism, in which, as St. Paul says, we "were buried with Christ . . . unto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead we also may walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Thus on Easter we celebrate Christ's Resurrection as something that happened and still happens to us. For each one of us received the gift of that new life and the power to accept it and to live by it. It is a gift which radically alters our attitude toward everything in this world, including death.

It makes it possible for us joyfully to affirm: "Death is no more!" Oh, death is still there, to be sure, and we still face it and someday it will come and take us. But it is our whole faith that by His own death Christ changed the very nature of death, made it a passage— "passover," a "Pascha"—into the Kingdom of God, transforming the tragedy of tragedies into the ultimate victory. "Trampling down death by death," He made us partakers of His Resurrection. This is why at the end of the Paschal Matins we say: "Christ is risen and life reigneth! Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the grave!"

May we make a good beginning this Lenten Season, asking God to bless our intentions and our efforts! May we endure the race of Lent, and receive a crown of victory at that midnight Paschal service, where we proclaim His victory over all death: His death, and our own!

If anyone would like guidance on how to prepare for Great Lent, to make it fruitful in your season of life, please contact me.


With Love in Christ,

Fr. Constantine Trumpower

The Joy: A Message From Fr. Constantine

Fr Constantine

Message from Fr Constantine, May - June 2021

The Joy: Fr. Constantine's Message

Christ is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη!
Truly He is Risen! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

I greet you with the joy of the Resurrection of Christ! This is the Feast of Feasts! This is the Festival of Festivals! Pascha is the reason for all our efforts, all our labors, and all our hardships in life. With the Resurrection as our sure bedrock and foundation of faith, we can then march through life enduring and overcoming any and all hardships. Conversely, without the Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, then we labor in vain. St. Paul posed this argument to parishioners in the church in Corinth, saying:

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

(1 COR 15:12-14)

Obviously, there was a major misunderstanding going on amongst some people in the Church at Corinth, if some Christians weren’t believing in the Resurrection! St. Paul continues his argument:

“We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

(1 COR 15:12-19, ESV)

Truly, how ridiculous we Christians look to the outside world - to those without faith and belief in our Almighty God - if we think, speak and act with the conviction that there is a God who became a human, and volunteered to save all humanity, past, present and future, by dying! This is the “stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1COR 1:23) which makes us appear so foolish to those without hope in Christ. However, “...the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 COR 1:25, ESV).

St. Paul then turns his argument in the other direction:

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”

(1 COR 15:20-27a)

Dear Brother and Sisters: Do we believe that all things have been put under the feet of Christ? Do we believe that He is the Victor over sin, death and all things that will pass away when He comes again forever? If we find ourselves doubting, then we must go deeper. We must not settle for half-truths, or blindly bury in our minds the arguments and misunderstandings of others about our Greek Orthodox Christian Faith. Let us reach out to our Risen Christ, beseeching Him to give us the thoughts, the words and the actions to live the reality of His Resurrection every day of our lives. Let us reach out to His Church, seeking the resources needed to become the warriors we are called to be. Let us take courage, so that we become the emissaries He desires us to be. Then we will not only believe His truth, but we will live His truth. May it be so for us, each and every day of our lives.


With Love in the Risen Lord,

Fr. Constantine Trumpower