Tuesday, November 30, 2021

So good I am obliged to share!

(otelders) - In this video recording, Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisanion and Siatista (+2019) tells us a real story of an old woman who confessed to him and preferred rather to go to hell than to forgive her neighbor. The metropolitan then used a harsh method, which ultimately proved successful.

I went to a village to confess people. An old lady came. She also had these [short of] stupid disputes.

You will probably ask “how stupid can they really be?” I will give you an example.

Fifteen years ago, the chicken of the one entered the house of the other and this is the reason why they won’t talk to each other for 15 years now. “More stupid than the chicken themselves!”

I am telling her: “Grandma, those are not nice things, go make friends with another. You are relatives, those are stupid differences.”

“No” the grandma answers. “I am older than him!”

I am telling her: “Grandma, listen! First of all, you were the one who came here to confess. Had he been the one to come, I would have said the same to him. But now, you stand before me, and I am the confessor. And since you came, I am telling it to you. And you have to do it!”

The grandma refused to listen. Hoping “to wake her up”, I say: “Grandma, have you realized something?”

“What?” she says.

“Your one foot is already in the grave. Soon, your second will be there and your whole body too… If we put you in the grave and you have not forgiven the man, you are going to hell Do you get it now?”

What did the grandma answer me?

“Even if I am headed to hell, he is not even getting a single “good morning” from me!”

Do you know what I did? I send the grandma away in a really bad way… I almost kicked her out of the church… she had it coming… I am telling her: “Get out of here now!” The grandma lost it… “Did you hear what I said? Get out of here right now!”

Grandma did not expect such a behavior but I have to confess that my indignation was real! You see a man who prefers hell to forgiveness? He is a demon!

While leaving she told me: “But I am coming here, every single day, to light the candles [of the church]…”

“Worthless whatever it is!” I tell her

“I am doing every single day repentances …”

“Worthless, all of them!”

I send the grandma away. I did not regret it for one moment and you will see why this was the right way.

Three months later, I was back in the village to perform Liturgy, to give a homily and since there was a memorial service, as it is common in the villages, we went to the [so called] ‘table of forgiveness’. Opposite me a grandma is sitting and she tells me: “Father, do you remember me?”

I did not remember her, so I am saying: “To be honest, no.”

As soon as she started telling who she was… the one from before… honestly, it made my blood boil. Thankfully, she explained herself right away and told me:

“Father, I went and talked to him”.

“Well done! Did anything happen to you [because of it]?

“No, my father, be well!”

“Is it not better now, grandma?”

“Yes, my father, be well!”

And then I thought “sometimes I might have to get angry when I find a wall in front of me, built by the egoism and unrepentance of people.”

Who are the ones who deny forgiveness? Us, the Christians. An atheist does not go to confession. A man of faith does. And since the devil fights us hardly… Let me tell you something, an atheist might forgive. But it is horrifying that a Christian will not forgive.

As he has failed to realize that the devil has “grabbed him from the neck” and won’t let him. Thus, the question is “which is our spiritual life?” What is our relationship with God? What are we doing? We won’t examine ourselves. The grandma and the other guy, they would not see their mess, they were only examining the other. The Gospel says, Christ said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” [Matthew 7:4].

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Clergy Formation & Development in the Midwest

BURBANK, IL (OCA-DMW) – From October 25-27, six Diocesan priests participated in a pilot retreat for Clergy Formation and Development organized by Diocesan Chancellor, Archpriest Paul Jannakos. This is a new initiative of the Diocese developed as part of the strategic plan adopted by the Diocesan Council in 2020.

The retreat took place at Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction, MI and included representatives of the Chicago, Michigan, and Cleveland Deaneries. The goal of the retreat (and those which, God willing, will follow in its wake), was to rejuvenate the clergy through participating in extended communal prayer, forging deeper relationships with their fellow priests, and reflecting thoughtfully together on the task and meaning of the priesthood. This aligns broadly with the Formation and Development goals of encouraging clergy to form mentoring relationships, to grow in their mastery of pastoral skills, and to satisfy the OCA’s requirement for continuing education in a way that they find meaningful and worthwhile.

Participants in the retreat attended the daily services of the monastery, including Vigil and Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Holy Greatmartyr Demetrius. They shared fellowship over meals and free-time discussions, worked together in the monastery garden, and enjoyed an evening excursion to a local winery. They also read and held a seminar discussion on selections from St. John Chrysostom’s book On the Priesthood, which touched on many practical aspects of ministry.

On the final day, His Eminence Archbishop Paul, along with members of the Diocesan Council assigned to the Clergy Formation and Development task force, joined participants via Zoom for a discussion of the merits of the retreat as a model for continuing formation and development of Diocesan clergy. The participants were unanimous in their enthusiasm and gratitude for the retreat and shared ideas both for improving upon the experience and for replicating it in other locations throughout the Diocese.

It was decided that the next step will be to identify two or three other suitable retreat locations in other parts of the Diocese and organize pilots at each with different groups of clergy sometime after Pascha 2022.

Friday, November 19, 2021

St. Vlad's is pulling up tent stakes

My vote is the Republic of Texas.

 Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever! 

We wanted to share with you a major announcement regarding the future of St Vladimir's Seminary, included below. The Seminary's Board of Trustees came to this decision after many, many months of prayer, deliberation, and work with multiple professional consulting groups. This will be anything but easy, as much history, many blessings, and many fond memories are tied to the Yonkers campus St Vladimir's has called home since the 1960s. But the Board feels strongly this is the right course of action in order for St Vladimir's to carry out her mission for future generations.    

Please continue to keep the Seminary and all our seminarians in your prayers.

Yours Faithfully in Christ,

The Very Rev. Dr Chad Hatfield

President & Professor of Pastoral Theology

(SVS) To address the growing need for priests and other vocations in the Orthodox Church, the Board of Trustees of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) has voted to relocate SVOTS from its current location in Yonkers, NY. The new location and the timing of the move have yet to be determined, but the Board recognizes that the Seminary will not be able to expand and adapt to the needs of the twenty-first century Church if the campus remains in Yonkers.

Following eighteen months of extensive research and deliberation at five Board meetings, the Board reached the relocation decision on Friday, November 5, 2021. Board members and Seminary administration worked with three professional consulting groups during this process and concluded that SVOTS’ current location is untenable for numerous reasons, including the following:

  • The New York City area’s high and rising cost of living impacts seminarians, their families, and employees and makes it difficult for SVOTS to recruit faculty, staff, and students. 

  • The Yonkers campus is landlocked, leaving no room for expansion. Expansion is needed due to rising enrollment, increasing operational and staffing needs, ongoing and future initiatives (such as adding online educational programs to current residential offerings), and other infrastructure needs. 

  • The legal and regulatory environment in the New York area makes significant alterations to campus infrastructure or growth extremely difficult, even if expansion of the current campus were possible. 

  • Preliminary estimates from contractors have revealed it would take tens of millions of dollars to make necessary improvements to SVOTS’ aging and deteriorating campus in order to be a viable institution in the twenty-first century. Simply bringing the Yonkers campus to an adequate standard could easily cost as much or more than relocating and building a brand new campus to fit the Seminary’s needs for decades to come. 

“Much prayer and a long process of due diligence and discussion led to the Board’s unanimous decision to relocate the campus of St Vladimir’s Seminary,” said Dn Michael Hyatt, trustee and executive chair of SVOTS. “We considered doing nothing; we explored investing into the campus in Yonkers; but we believe without doubt the legacy and long-term future of SVOTS lies with relocation in order to expand and meet the demands of the twenty-first century.” 

“Over its more than eighty-year history, St Vladimir’s Seminary has relocated multiple times in order to fulfill its mission and purpose, including the move to Yonkers in the 1960s,” said Fr Chad Hatfield, president of SVOTS. “Now we find ourselves again at a critical juncture in the Seminary’s history, and we simply cannot afford to do nothing or to try staying in New York—there is risk no matter which avenue we decide to take.” 

“We have a duty to serve the Orthodox Church in the face of the current reality confronting theological seminaries in North America. Over the past decade, more than fifty seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) have either merged or closed their doors entirely,” added Fr Chad. “The time has come to make a bold move, not just to survive but to thrive and expand for the sake of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

Because of the Board’s decision, a relocation task force will evaluate various cities throughout the country, and Seminary administration will complete a comprehensive project plan, a detailed fundraising plan, and a five-year financial model. The Board will consider the location and timeline for relocation at its May 2022 meeting.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Important for this masked up period

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Thyranoixia at the Ground Zero church

Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center celebrated its Opening of the Doors Ceremony (Thyranoixia), presided over by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Orthodoxy meets the law on November 6th

(Antiochian) - This year, the fifth annual Orthodox Christian Attorney Network (OCAN) conference is a three-hour, virtual and free event. Even non-attorneys can register for the conference on Saturday, November 6 from noon to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Conference co-chair Matthew Namee writes: "Two exceptional speakers will share their insights on our roles as Orthodox Christian attorneys in today's society." Judge Gregory Katsas of the Washington, D.C. Circuit will talk about religious freedom, and offer a presentation on the Assembly of Bishops Committee for Legal Matters. Alida Kass, Vice President and Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Federalist Society, follows him.

For questions, contact the 2021 conference co-chairs: Matthew Namee at mfnamee@gmail.com or Joan Berg at joan.berg@sfbbg.com. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Learn more about the Armenian Church

 This video is part of a series available here. The below is on the topic "Church as Being: Church as Being: St. Gregory of Narek’s Vision of the Church."

Monday, October 25, 2021

Study Orthodoxy in Texas

Solid, worthwhile education: check. Reasonably priced: check. Accredited: check. Takes place in the Lone Star State: check. What more do you need?

(SCC) - The Bachelor of Arts in Orthodox Christian Studies apprentices students in Orthodox Classics of Theology, Philosophy, and Literature, as well as the Liturgical Languages and Arts of the Orthodox Church. Through rigorous discussion and individualized tutorials, the student who majors in Orthodox Christian Studies is prepared to pursue careers in Christian ministry and Christian education, as well as further graduate studies at an Orthodox Seminary.

At a Glance
  • 36 units of Great Texts discussions and tutorials, focusing on the Philosophical, Literary, and Theological roots of Orthodox Christianity. 
  • Up to 9 units of Special Topics in Orthodox Christianity, including Patristics and Russian Literature.
  • 6 units of Liturgical Languages: students choose from Arabic, Greek, and Russian.
  • 6 units of Liturgical Arts: students choose from Iconography, Chant, and more.
  • Capstone Senior Thesis Project in Orthodox Christian Studies. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Inside the Ethiopian Church

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Stories of Modern Martyrdom in an Ancient Christian Land

(AFM) - Introducing an upcoming new book release by Ancient Faith Publications, set for availability in November 2021. Syria Crucified: Stories of Modern Martyrdom in an Ancient Christian Land is written by Orthodox Christian authors Zachary Wingerd and Brad Hoff, and importantly is the first ever book to detail the plight of Syria’s Christians during the past ten years of tragic war. The urgency of their continued suffering even as the war has largely fallen out of media headlines and global consciousness drives the vision and message of this book. 

Syria Crucified is an engaging compilation of personal stories representing Orthodox Christian experiences, including eyewitness accounts of martyrdom, deepening prayer and closeness to Christ amid hardships, as well as lives of Syrians who are modern “living confessors” of the faith through their sufferings and patient endurance. 

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3:

“They Invaded as Wolves but Left as Little Lambs” 

During the spring and summer months prior to the war, Cherubim Monastery was known for hosting Christian youth camps and church schools in Saidnaya. As it began to come under more and more intense rocket and mortar fire, the Abbot of the St. George brotherhood, Archimandrite John Talli, told the monks at Cherubim they must take shelter at the more secure St. George Monastery in the village below. The townspeople testify that during that time Archimandrite John refused to leave. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Parishes of EP celebrating "Synaxis of the Holy Doctors"

(OMHKSEA) - On July 21, 2021, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which was presided over by His All-Holiness, discussed and commended the self-sacrificing and vital dedication of those that serve in the area of Medicine and Health, especially during the present Pandemic.

Because of this, the Holy Synod decided to institute the “Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Physicians”. The Feast will be celebrated every year on the Sunday that is nearest to that of the Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (October 17th) and that of St. Luke the Apostle, Evangelist and Doctor (October 18th). On the “Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Doctors”, the Church will honor the contribution made by Medical Science and those that have dedicated their lives to the health and healing of mankind.

Patriarchal Encyclical For The Feast of The Holy Physicians

From ancient Christianity to modern times, doctors, nurses, and specialist healers, as well as other simple and conscientious faithful Christians have served “those in illness and suffering” by tangibly expressing God’s love for mankind, after the example and in the image of Christ.

A number of these were distinguished for their holiness, which the Church has recognized by officially canonizing them and including them to its Calendar of Saints. Many of them were physicians, while several others founded hospitals and philanthropic institutions, ministering the sick with humble dedication and meekness. Not only did they have excellent medical knowledge and skills, but they were additionally imbued by the sacrificial love of the Crucified Savior and profoundly grounded in the reality of the Church as the Body of Christ. In this way, medicine and philanthropy were consonant with the medical science of their age, but at the same time consistently incorporated in the ecclesial event.

As bearers of divine grace and imitators of the God-man Christ, who sanctified and renewed all creation through His incarnation, the objective of their endeavors was to introduce the fallen nature of humankind to the new creation by jointly healing body and soul, thereby demonstrating the value of human existence as a psychosomatic unity, but also the mutual unity between God and humanity. As preachers of truth, these Holy Physicians and Philanthropists understood that, in order for every human being to be healed, all the created world must be restored and integrated. Their philanthropy comprised an expression of the divine hospitality of the Father, who gathers His children under His bosom, the Church, the Hostel of mercy and joy. For the consolation, support and welfare of their patients, they intercede to the Great Physician and Loving God for the healing of our souls and bodies.

In the anguish, fear, pain and sorrow that emerged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the eyes of the faithful are turned toward these Saints with their healing gifts. These Saints constitute the special anchor and example for doctors, nurses and all those serving in the medical field, who throughout the pandemic have offered extraordinary efforts in order to save lives and provide care, treatment and relief to their fellow human beings who were suffering.

The pandemic revealed the vulnerable dimension of human nature, the prevailing imbalance in the natural environment as a result of greed, the existing division and conflict within the wider society, as well as the tensions within the Church itself. It compelled us to reflect on the way we live out our faith before the tragic threat of death, the loss of our loved ones, and the loneliness created by illness and mourning. It directed us to seek the grace of our loving God through the assistance and intercession of the Saints. Moreover, the pandemic brought to the surface the authentic meaning of philanthropy, the need for collaboration and coordination of all social actors, as well as the mandatory cooperation between Church and medical science. Indeed, the pandemic highlighted eminent individuals in the field of medicine and health care, who, as the Saints, exercised their profession and afforded care and support to the sick, contributed their services with self-sacrifice and tenderness, surpassing human standards under difficult circumstances, in order to confront the multidimensional consequences of this health crisis.

Bearing all these things in mind, our Holy and Sacred Synod decided to establish the Sunday closest to October 17th and 18th each year (when we commemorate the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenary Healers and the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke the Doctor) as the day of the Synaxis of all the Holy Physicians as an appreciation for the essential contribution of the medical science and its ministers toward humanity. 

Beloved doctors and healers, we congratulate you for your invaluable service and thank you paternally, praying that the Lord God may support and strengthen you in your blessed work. We encourage you to show sincere love and compassion, to honor one another and cultivate earnest faith “serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, being patient in tribulation, remaining constant in prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, and practicing hospitality” (Rm 12.9-15) so that through you the Holy Trinity and Giver of all good things may be glorified.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A bishop for the Albanians

(OCA) - Bringing to a close an initial round of prayerful consideration, which began shortly after the repose of the ever-memorable Archbishop Nikon in 2019, the Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese has inaugurated a new period of reflection and recruitment in its search for a bishop. Proposed and endorsed by popular acclamation at the September annual assembly of the archdiocese, this renewed process invites all potential candidates to submit their names for consideration. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Archdiocesan Chancery for more information. Due by November 12, submissions will be reviewed and thereafter submitted to the Holy Synod. 
The faithful of the Albanian Archdiocese request the prayers of all their brothers and sisters in Christ, that His will may be done, and they kindly ask also that others aid them in this renewed endeavor, sharing this appeal broadly with any who may be interested and capable to serve

Apostasy: an Orthodox response to Joshua Schooping

Father John Whiteford and Craig Truglia discuss the high profile apostasy of former Orthodox priest, Joshua Schooping, to Protestantism and critique his reasons for doing so.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Pornography is not a victimless enterprise

I have no idea what people confessed before the advent of the Internet, but if you're a priest in the modern age you know with some certainty what you are going to hear about with regularity. Please note that this video is not G-rated and is tinged with some modern permissiveness; you can skip the last 90 seconds and avoid most of it.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Abp. Christophoros from Jordan on monasticism today