Wednesday, January 15, 2020

"Orthodox Parenting" virtual conference coming up

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New Armenian patriarch enthroned in Constantinople

History is an interesting thing. There was no Armenian patriarch in Constantinople until the Ottomans conquered it, relocated Armenians into the city, and placed a leader for them there. Armenians - being non-Chalcedonians - were not permitted to operate in the Orthodox city before the sacking. So to have the EP at the enthronement is a turn-around that reflects the effect a few hundred years can have on relations.

According to the narration often repeated and generally accepted regarding how and when the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate was established, the establishment coming with the conquest of Istanbul took place as follows: “When Mehmet the Conqueror was in Bursa before the conquest of Istanbul, he showed an intimacy and love for the Armenian people and Hovagim who was the spiritual leader of them there. When the Conqueror was talking with Hovagim one day, Hovagim prayed that “May God make your kingdom higher than the other kingdoms” and the Conqueror responded a promise which was “If I achieve to conquer Istanbul, I will take you and Armenian leaders to Istanbul and I will make you the leader of them.” The Conqueror who came to Bursa a few years after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453 remembered his promise and he brought many Armenian families and Episcopos Hovagim from Bursa to Istanbul. In this same period, he brought Armenian groups from other regions to Istanbul and placed them in the capital.

(Hurriyet) - Sahak Maşalyan (Mashalian), the 85th Patriarch of Turkey’s Armenians, was enthroned as Sahak II in a ceremony held at the Surp Asdvadzadzin Patriarchate Church in Istanbul on Jan 11.

Born in 1962 in Istanbul with the Turkish name Şahin Maşalı, he was ordained a priest in 1992, receiving the name Sahak.

On Dec. 11, Sahak II won the election held among Armenian Gregorian churches across the country after receiving 102 votes out of 119 against his rival Aram Ateşyan, who had served as acting patriarch during the absence of Mesrob II, the previous patriarch who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease from 2008 until his demise on March 8, 2019.

The congregation included Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, representatives of other Christian denominations in Turkey and foreign diplomatic missions in Istanbul.

Turkish Deputy Interior Minister Muhterem İnce and Chief Rabbi of Turkey Rav Isak Haleva also took part in the ceremony.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

HCHC on two-year probation with accrediting body

(Boston Globe) - Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline has been placed on probation following concerns about the school’s financial resources and planning, according to the school and an accreditor.

In a joint statement Thursday, the Greek Orthodox school and the New England Commission of Higher Education said the commission voted in November to place the college on probation for two years.

According to the statement, the “Commission found that Hellenic College, Inc. does not now meet the Commission’s standards on Institutional Resources and Planning and Evaluation. The Commission also issued a Notation to the College that it is in danger of not meeting the standards on Organization and Governance and The Academic Program.”

The commission will monitor conditions at the school during its probationary period, and the college will maintain its accreditation during that time, with continued “eligibility for federal funding, including student financial aid,” the statement said.

New Hellenic President George M. Cantonis said in the statement that things are improving at the school.

“We want to reassure our students, faculty, staff, donors and larger community that under our new leadership, Hellenic College Holy Cross is taking appropriate action to address NECHE’s recommendations,” Cantonis said. “We are implementing plans to increase giving and improve revenue streams, simplify and make effective our governance structure and focus our degree programs. Our financial situation is improving.”

Cantonis said the college “ended Fiscal Year 2019 with an excess of revenue over expenses from operations and we are currently operating a balanced budget. We look forward to working with NECHE to address the areas of probation and notation expeditiously and continue our tradition of developing the best clergy and lay leaders.”

The Globe reported in August that the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education noted last spring that the college had run an operating deficit for nearly eight years, borrowed money from its endowment, and suffered from declining enrollment and poor planning. Like many small colleges, Hellenic, which enrolls just over 154 students, relies heavily on tuition and suffers when enrollment declines.

Religious schools in the Northeast are among those that have seen the most precipitous drop in enrollment over the past decade.

Hellenic describes its mission on its website.

“Hellenic College’s curricula in the liberal arts and pre-professional studies stimulate students’ minds while preparing them for careers in which they can serve both society and the Church,” the site says. “Whether in education, human services, business, law, or ministry, our graduates embody their faith and enrich our world through their other-directed vocations.”

Isaiah to John to Jesus

A homily entitled "The Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness" by Archimandrite Jack (Khalil). Hat tip to a favorite blog (also essential reading as a gateway to the Arabic-speaking Church) Notes on Arab Orthodoxy.

The four evangelists agree that John the Baptist was the voice crying out prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah (40:3). According to the Apostles Matthew and John, the Baptist himself was the one who announced that Isaiah's prophecy was being fulfilled.

The prophecy appears in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 40, which announces the consolation of Jerusalem. Its context is very important for understanding the message that the Baptist wanted to deliver by declaring that the prophecy was being fulfilled. The Prophet Isaiah had previously informed the King Hezekiah that his people would be taken captive to Babel and enslaved there (39:6-7). After that, he announced God's visitation to Jerusalem and His pardon of its sins (40:2) and His coming there to save it (40:5, 9-10).

He told of the voice crying out in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord (40:3). The Baptist's indicating the fulfillment of this prophecy is in harmony with the main idea of the message that he brought, that he was at the forefront of God who had drawn near to "save His people from their sins." The Baptist's indicating the prophecy about the voice crying out in the desert bears his declaration to Jerusalem and to all the nations over the generations, that God has visited His people and stretched out His hand to point with His finger to show us Jesus, the Lord of Glory, saying "Behold your God" (40:9).

As for the main idea of the prophecy about the voice crying out, it must be pointed out that that the reading of the Masoretic text differs from the translation of the Septuagint, the reading on which the four evangelists relied. According to the Septuagint, the phrase "in the desert" grammatically modifies the word "voice", so the sentence is "a voice crying out in the desert," while in the Masoretic text the phrase belongs to the main clause. That is, "in the desert prepare the path of the Lord."

Whatever the case may be, it is established that what the Prophet Isaiah prophesied about the coming of our God to His people has been fulfilled. Wherever the term "wilderness" may be in the formulation of the phrase, its theological meaning remains undistorted, just as the Prophet Isaiah intended.

What, then, is the meaning of the "wilderness" emphasized by the Prophet Isaiah?

In order to answer this question, we must remember that it was in the desert that the covenant between God and His people was established. It became God's promise to them and they learned to live according to the covenant's law.

The life of the wilderness made its impression on the Jews' spiritual experience. For this reason, the desert transcended its geographical definition to take on a theological meaning. It is the way of life of the covenant between God and His people. It is the emptying in which man finds no help apart from God.

He ate from the provision that God gave him, drinking His water and warming himself from His heat. The experience of the wilderness is summarized in the Holy Bible by liberation from cares, abandonment of all human guarantees, absolute reliance on God and remaining in His presence.

When the Baptist said that he was the voice crying out in the wilderness, he was addressing to us the announcement that the fullness of time had come and that "He who sits above the circle of the earth and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in," (40:22), God the Word, who created everything, had become incarnate and come to dwell among us.

In the wilderness, John cried out to remind us that we attain knowledge of God when we rely on Him alone and nothing else and that we are made holy by His blessings when we are freed from earthly cares and live before Him according to His Gospel.

- Archimandrite Jack (Khalil)
Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology

EP issues response to Jerusalem's "fraternal gathering" idea

CONSTANTINOPLE (TNH) – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, January 5, at the Patriarchal Church of Saint George, said in his homily, that “the invitation from Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem “to preserve unity in Eucharistic communion” must be actually sent to the Patriarch of Moscow and not to all Orthodox Churches.”

Representatives from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, led by Metropolitan Makarios of Lviv, also participated in the Divine Liturgy on the first anniversary of the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly for the Church of Ukraine. The Ecumenical Patriarch added that the “non-canonical” initiative of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, “left a deep impression” on them.

His All Holiness, addressing the delegation from Ukraine, said, “we are delighted to welcome you to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to celebrate all together the first anniversary of the granting of the Tomos of the Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

In addition, he expressed satisfaction that things were working properly and he said that he was optimistic about the future of the new Church, and noted that, “the Ecumenical Throne has canonically the sacred responsibility for the unity and stability of Orthodox Churches and that is why it never remained idle. Every time an Orthodox Church was seeking a solution long-standing ecclesiastical problems, it requested support from the Ecumenical Throne.”

He also said that “we consider it completely unacceptable that some accuse the Ecumenical Patriarchate of exercising power and of being manipulated by secular rulers. They are not ashamed of accusing the Mother Church and the Ecumenical Patriarch of being bribed. They measure their corn by their own bushel.A common variant on "Non alios suo modulo metiri. (Do not judge others by your own measures.)" - it not being fair to make up your own measurements on behavior and then hold others to it.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Blessing of a new dome in Dix Hills, NY

(St. Andrew's) - The feast of Holy Apostle Andrew, the ‘first-called’ of Christ’s Apostles, and the patronal feast of our parish, was celebrated on the Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving Weekend in a truly beautiful and prayerful manner. His Eminence, Abp. Michael, led the clergy and faithful in the blessing and dedication of our parish’s newly-refurbished and installed cupola. Vladyka got into a personnel lift which hoisted him vertically 35 feet into the air, where he was able to see the cupola eye-to-eye and sanctify it with Holy Water.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sounds about right

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv - OCU a "success"

(RISU) - Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine said that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been a success, but there is still a lot of work to do. He told it to reporters on Monday, according to UNN.

"The first year of the institutional formation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is coming to an end, and today we can say that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, as such, has been a success. But we still have a lot of work to do so that all Orthodox Ukrainians to unite around Kyiv, so that all of us together in the one Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church serve God, serve the interests of our Ukrainian people and serve the interests of the Ukrainian state," the first Hierarch said.

He added that over the past year, about 600 parishes from the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine have joined the Orthodox Church of Ukraine."

"In recent months, there have been some problems related to re-registration, that is, de facto. Some parishes that have declared the transition, are processing their documents," added the Metropolitan.

Last year, on January 5, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signed the Tomos of autocephaly for the unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This document came into force immediately after the Patriarch affixed his signature.

On January 6, Patriarch Bartholomew solemnly presented the Tomos to Primate of the OCU, Metropolitan Epifaniy after the Liturgy in the walls of the Patriarchal Church of St. George on Phanar.

ROEA to ordain auxiliary bishop on February 1st

DETROIT/SOUTHFIELD, MI (OCA-ROEA) – Saint George Romanian Orthodox Cathedral will be the site of the Ordination to the Episcopacy of Archimandrite Andrei (Hoarște) on February 1, 2020. The weekend will begin with the celebration of Great Vespers with the Proclamation of Election and Calling of the Bishop-Elect on Friday, January 31 at 7:00pm, followed by a formal reception in the Cathedral Cultural Center. The Bishop-Elect will recite his Profession of Faith the next morning, Saturday, February 1 at 9:00am, immediately followed by the Divine Liturgy with the Ordination to the Episcopacy. A Grand Banquet will follow at the nearby St. John Armenian Church Cultural Center.

The following day, Sunday, February 2 at 9:30am, Bishop Andrei will serve his first Hierarchal Divine Liturgy at St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, followed by a banquet hosted by the parish in his honor.

At the request of Archbishop Nathaniel (Popp), Ruling Hierarch of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America (ROEA), the Church Congress of the ROEA in Special Electoral Session elected Fr. Dan Hoarște as a candidate for the office of Auxiliary Bishop on August 31, 2019. On October 13, 2019, he received the monastic tonsure and was given the name Andrei. Then, in its session on Tuesday, November 12 the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America canonically elected Fr. Andrei as Bishop of Cleveland, Auxiliary Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, and elevated him to the rank of Archimandrite.

Archimandrite Andrei was born in 1982 into an Orthodox Christian family in Făgăraș, Romania. At the age of 15, he moved with his family to the United States where they established their home in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, becoming members of Sts. Peter & Paul Romanian Orthodox Church. While completing his high school and undergraduate studies, he was active in the life of the parish and Episcopate, including serving as the 37th president of the American Romanian Orthodox Youth, the international youth auxiliary of the ROEA. In September 2004, with the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, he began pursuing theological studies at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, graduating in 2008 with a Master of Divinity Degree and working at the same time for the Master of Theology Degree. In October 2010, he commenced doctoral studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Italy, earning a Doctorate of Theology Degree in June 2019 in the field of dogmatic/liturgical studies. He was ordained into the Holy Diaconate in September 2012 and then the Holy Priesthood that December by Archbishop Nathaniel, who subsequently appointed him to lead the Episcopate’s Department of Youth & Young Adult Ministry in 2013 and then as Vicar of Canada in 2014 to assist with the administrative and pastoral responsibilities of the Episcopate.

"Christian Iconography Shows Us the Pattern of Reality"

Popular speaker and artist Jonathan Pageau was invited to speak to the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement at St-Tikhon's Seminary in November. As he stated, "I wanted to show them how the tradition of iconography exemplifies the pattern of Church itself as the body of Christ, but also the pattern of reality as it unfolds before us."

Cross hunting in Bulgaria

(RNS) - A drummer breaks ice prior to the Epiphany ritual, in Kalofer, Bulgaria, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers plunged into the icy waters of rivers and lakes across Bulgaria on Monday to retrieve crucifixes tossed by priests in ceremonies commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ. In the mountain city of Kalofer, in central Bulgaria, dozens of men dressed in white embroidered shirts waded into the frigid Tundzha River waving national flags and singing folk songs.

Ecumenical Patriarch reflects on children and technology

(Romanian Church) - During an event, which was held on Friday, January 3, at Zografeion Lyceum, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gave advice to the population of the Greek Diaspora, that is the youth and their parents, and then he blessed and cut the Vasilopita.

The Ecumenical Patriarch highlighted the profound impact that technological development has on society and drew the attention of parents and young people to the potential dangers of using new technologies: “Television, the Internet, and computers have brought radical changes in the identity of children and in society. Technology has a lot of influence on the child ‘s psyche, education and daily life. Experts talk about the ‘disappearance’ of childhood as well as of the loss of childhood ‘innocence’. If we consider the violations of children’s rights worldwide, children-victims of war conflicts, children-refugees, and deprivation, then we understand why children do not have the right environment for development and protection in modern society.”

He stressed that Mother Church has been treating children with affection in order to face all those challenges. He also added, “The new social and cultural realities make the education of the new generation more difficult and complicated. Television and the Internet are also sources of values, that is a ‘parallel school’. Orthodox Christians, who are parents, must raise and educate their children properly and instil in them proper Christian values.”

In addition, addressing young girls and boys, the Ecumenical Patriarch said, “On the occasion of today’s gathering, we give advice to you, the youth, on how to use technology properly. Computers, smartphones, and the Internet are indeed a technological miracle and that is why they fascinate you. However, you have to make the right use of them. Technological advancement requires freedom and responsibility.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The fine line between synaxis and fraternal gathering

(Orthodox Times) - In his letter in English in which he avoided using words such as “synaxis” or “synod,” something that would confront him with the holy canons of the Church, the Patriarch of Jerusalem invited Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the other primates of the Orthodox Churches in Jordan for a “fraternal gathering in love,” a term coined by him.

Following what he stated in Moscow after his meeting with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem proceeds with his initiative to “find peace among the Churches,” as he claimed, by sending an invitation to the Orthodox primates for this “fraternal gathering in love” to be held by the end of February.

In his letter brought to light today by, after having explained the prominent place of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the Holy Land and its historic interventions to maintain peace in the region, Patriarch Theophilos announced that he had decided to build a bridge among the Orthodox Sister Churches so that they can stand together against the trials of our times.

“As it had always played similar roles in the past, and during different tenures through the Church’s history, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, guardian of the Church of the Resurrection and the Tomb of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is laying a bridge for its sisters Orthodox Churches to walk and stand together in these most testing of times,” wrote in his letter Patriarch Theophilos.

While he bypassed de facto the Ecumenical Patriarchate by calling himself a synaxis of the Orthodox primates, the Patriarch of Jerusalem addressed the Ecumenical Patriarch saying, “Abiding by the Holy Canons of the Church, We respect and uphold the role, the position and status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the privilege of seniority of Your All Holiness, dear Brother in Christ.”

Friday, December 27, 2019

Serbian Holy Synod of Bishops on Montenegro situation

(SOC) - Communique of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

As regards the latest developments in Montenegro relating to the announced adoption of the draft Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Legal Status of Religious Communities, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church hereby expresses its support to the archbishops, clergy, monasticism and faithful people of the dioceses: Montenegro and the Littoral, Budimlje-Niksic, Mileseva and Zahumlje-Herzegovina, to continue defending their religious rights in Montenegro, encouraged by the power of the Holy Spirit and the prayerful representation of the saints of our own kin.

As already stated in the official statement of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, we now reiterate that we are against the draft Law by which representatives of the authorities in Montenegro want to forcibly take away churches and monasteries and the belonging properties from the Metropolitanate and Dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and whose provisions would abolish the inalienable right of every individual to freedom of religion and conscience.

Bearing in mind all the consequences of adopting such a Law, we appeal to the members of the Parliament of Montenegro to listen to the voice of the bishops and the faithful of our Holy Church which has been unequivocally and clearly expressed at two church-people's assemblies, and not to vote in favour of this draft Law.

At the same time, we support the initiative proposed by His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and sent to the Legislative Committee and the Parliament of Montenegro to withdraw the proposed Law from the parliamentary procedure, which would create conditions for the preparation of a new one that would be in accordance with the standards of modern democratic states and acceptable to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

More on the fallout in Africa and its effect on the world

It is one thing to break communion with an autocephalous body. It is another thing to found or break off existing parishes in the territory of the Church for yourself in response. This both further destabilizes the Church and extends the schism. Breaks in the body of the Church create more breaks, so expect to see further shattering at these events continue. It is a small step to move from this current stavropegial setup to overlapping bishops in Africa itself.

( - The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met in Moscow today under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

The hierarchs considered and responded to the decision of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics, expressing their deep sorrow at his decision that makes it impossible to maintain Eucharistic communion with him.

The Synod also came to decisions regarding the Alexandria representation church in Moscow and the Russian representation and parishes in Africa.

According to Vladimir Legoida, the Patriarchal Press Secretary, the Synod resolved:

1. To express deep sorrow in connection with the anti-canonical actions of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, who entered into communion with the schismatics.

2. To emphasize that Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics contradicts His Beatitude’s repeated statements in support of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its primate Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, including the statement made during his last visit to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from September 27 to October 1, 2018, three weeks after the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s invasion of Ukraine by appointing “exarchs” to Kiev.

3. To note that the decision to recognize the schismatic structure in Ukraine was not made at the session of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria held on October 7-9, that it was not put to a vote of its hierarchs, and, accordingly, it does not have a conciliar character, but was made by the primate of this Church unilaterally.

4. To confirm the impossibility of commemorating the name of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria in the diptychs, as well as prayerful and Eucharistic communion with him.

5. To maintain Church communion with the hierarchs of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church, except for those who have supported or will support the legalization of the Ukrainian schism in the future.

6. To suspend the activity of the representation (podvoriye) of the Alexandrian Patriarchate to the Moscow Patriarchal See.

7. To convert the representation of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to the Patriarch of Alexandria into a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church in Cairo.

8. To withdraw the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church located on the African continent from the jurisdiction of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, giving them a stavropegial status.

The decision to move the given parishes to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate is sure to draw serious criticism from the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and to increase inter-Church tensions in world Orthodoxy.

Earlier, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Chairman of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, stated: “I don’t want to predict how events will develop, but if the Patriarchate of Alexandria is on the side of the schism, then, of course, we will probably have to create parishes for our believers, because they will not be able to take communion in the churches of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.”

Met. Hilarion also noted that it was only in the 20th century that the Patriarchate of Alexandria expanded its jurisdiction beyond northern Africa, which it did with Russian support. In particular, when the Russian Church built parishes in Africa, it did so with the agreement of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and the churches were placed under the jurisdiction of Alexandria and the priests, who came from Russia, became clerics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria on a temporary basis.