Presvytera Alexandra Houck created The Children's Word bulletin so children will know they are not only welcome in church, but even more, an essential part of the Church family. She hopes the weekly bulletin will be just one more way we can make kids feel at home in church. Presvytera Alexandra is a graduate of Duke University and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Her husband, Fr. Jason Houck, is a priest at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN. Presvytera Alexandra and Fr. Jason have three small children: Lydia, Paul, and Silas. Presvytera Alexandra grew up attending Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Asheville, North Carolina with her nine siblings.
If you are in school, you might have gotten something called a “progress report.” Your teacher shows your parents how well you are doing in math or reading or spelling or even at getting along with others. Your teacher always wants you to “progress” or get better.
Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today we remember a Saint John who wrote a book about a ladder to heaven. It isn’t a real ladder, of course, but it is a way to see if we Christians are making progress, to see if we are growing closer to Christ in heaven.
We can ask ourselves if we are growing closer to Christ. Are we really trying to stop doing the wrong things, and start doing the right things? Or are we stuck with bad habits?
The funny thing is that all Christians can make progress. All Christians can move forward to Christ…not just kids, but also very, very old people. Not just school kids, but mothers and fathers, priests and bishops, and monks and nuns. We can all keep growing closer to Christ. We can all keep progressing!
Let’s always think about that. What would a progress report say about us?
THE STRONGEST FAITH Saint Martin, Bishop of Rome
When we come together for Liturgy each week, we say the Creed together, don’t we? We say out loud what we Orthodox Christians believe.
On Wednesday, we celebrate the nameday of somebody who said out loud what we believe…but he was hurt again and again for that. Sometimes, he was even so hungry and thirsty, but still Saint Martin wouldn’t stop saying the truth.
Saint Martin (who was the bishop of Rome, Italy) lived many years ago, and he died in the year 655. At that time, the emperor wanted all the Christians to believe something about Jesus Christ that just wasn’t true. In fact, it was a heresy (a heresy is a belief that goes against the truth)!
The emperor was so angry that he even sent somebody to kill this saint! But something kept the person from doing this awful thing, and he was even blinded on the way back home. Again and again, the emperor did such cruel things to Saint Martin. Finally, the emperor sent Martin to be a prisoner on a little island, and he gave him hardly any food or water. Saint Martin never gave up saying the truth about Christ. He is called a “Confessor” because he was hurt for believing in Christ. (A martyr is somebody who died for believing in Christ.) Always remember—God wants us to stick up for the truth, and Saint Martin did just that!
We celebrate the nameday of St. Martin on Wednesday, April 13th.
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