Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Diocese of the Midwest to hold assembly for new bishop

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, OH (OCA-DMW) — The 53rd Assembly of the Diocese of the Midwest will be held at Archangel Michael Church here on Tuesday, October 7, 2014.

Immediately preceding the Assembly, a Special Diocesan Assembly will be held for the sole purpose of nominating a candidate for the vacant See of Chicago and the Midwest. The name of the nominee will be presented to the Holy Synod of Bishops for canonical election. This Special Assembly will be followed by the regular Assembly, during which the business of an annual Diocesan Assembly meeting will be addressed.

Regular, special Diocesan Assemblies to convene Tuesday, October 7, 2014It is suggested that delegates from outside the Cleveland area arrive on Monday evening, October 6. If possible, return flights should be scheduled no earlier than 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 7.

A block of rooms has been reserved at a group rate at a nearby hotel. Detailed information concerning hotels, the schedule and agenda, registration, and related matters will be posted on the diocesan web site in the coming weeks.

On Monday, October 6, the Bishop’s Council will meet at noon, while the Diocesan Council will hold a dinner meeting at 5:00 p.m. On Tuesday, October 7, the opening Service of Prayer will be celebrated at 9:00 a.m., followed immediately by the Special Assembly, as noted above.

Why you need a confessor

Monday, August 25, 2014

Salt Lake City divisiveness ends in... division

I've been following (and posting on) this story since it first hit the newspapers. I did not foresee the way forward for a parish that couldn't meet its current financial obligations would be to make another parish. To call it "church growth" is also a bit of a stretch. Maybe "church mitosis."

MURRAY (Deseret News) — A group labeling itself "progressive" voted Saturday to create an additional parish in the Salt Lake Valley.

A little more than 100 people gathered at Hillcrest Junior High, 156 E. 5600 South, to create the Greek Orthodox Mission Parish Saturday. The majority voted in the affirmative.

"This is your chance to do it right, to do what you've learned over the years and to do it with a fresh start," Father Luke Uhl, chancellor for Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, told those gathered.

If contentions arise, "Resolve them in love," he advised, possibly alluding to the strife that has cropped up in the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake in recent years.

The parish will function under the Metropolis of Denver, distinct from the current Salt Lake parish meeting at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, 279 S. 300 West, and Prophet Elias Church, 5335 S. Highland Drive.

“People of goodwill have come together and expressed themselves as faithful Christians and expressed themselves as people united in love, in harmony, in oneness of mind and heart. That can’t help but inspire all us,” he later told the Deseret News.

Eleven members of the new parish were called to serve on a parish council, six until December 2015 and five until the end of 2014. An interim priest or priests will fill in until a full-time priest can be appointed by Metropolitan Isaiah.

“We want to focus on the Orthodox faith and growing in our faith together. That’s our sole purpose. We’re not complaining. We’re not griping about anybody or anything. Sometimes you know, you have to be forced out of your comfort zone to go do something that becomes a good thing later,” said Charles Beck, newly elected parish council president.

How many loaves is too many or too few?

The number of loaves used in preparation of the Gifts is a debated topic that is often oversimplified. The blog Classical Christianity has presented the below in an article entitled "On Multiple Loaves for the Divine Liturgy." Even the shortest study of the topic will show that the number of loaves used, the organization of the particles, and the prayers said have gone through alterations in different times and in different places so that it is impossible to trace a single "pan-Orthodox" process that would be agreeable to all. "Five loaves is the ancient process" doesn't hold up under any scrutiny but neither does proclaiming a single loaf as the truest form while disdaining the use of five loaves show respect for natural changes that permeates Orthodoxy.

In our Russian Church, we use five Prosphora loaves for the Proskomide [the Service of Preparation, or Prothesis, also called Proskomedia, and despite the clear derivation from the Greek, ("proskomizo") or "to offer," Prokimidi and Proskimidia]. In other traditions, they use one with five seals on it. Also, some use two layers for the loaf, others one. Can you explain this?

The use of more than one Prosphoron (plural, ta Prosphora) (loaf) for the celebration of the Eucharist is not the very ancient practice of the Church and departs from the Scriptural symbolism of the “one bread” in St. Paul’s commentary on the Divine Eucharist (1 Cor. 10:16-17). Nonetheless, early on in the liturgical texts we find references to a number of Prosphora, as in the fourteenth-century Diataxis of Patriarch Philotheos. St. Symeon of Thessaloniki (+1430), the noted liturgical expert, also describes the Proskomide service in some detail, noting that “one” of the loaves on the Table of Preparation is used for the initial blessing service (St. Symeon, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, Ta Apanta, Thessaloniki, 1983, p. 110) — though there is no indication that more than one loaf was actually used for the Eucharist. Nonetheless, the use of a number of loaves is part of what some scholars call a clear development from about the tenth century on. (See, for example, Father Lawrence Barriger, “The Legacy of Constantinople in the Russian Liturgical Tradition” [Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Vol. 33 (4), pp. 387-416], whose curious view of such things as the “Litany of the Catechumens” may, however, impugn his general expertise in Orthodox liturgical matters.) Others see this trend as the result of a possible confusion among less-educated clergy of the Proskomide with the blessing of the Five Loaves, or Artoklasia. On Mt. Athos, the Eucharist is usually celebrated with two Prosphora, the triangle honoring the Theotokos and the particles for the Saints and other commemorations coming from the second loaf...

Complete article here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

When the baby is evidence... get rid of the evidence

An article by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig entitled "How Tennessee incentivizes abortions: We need legislation that protects pregnancy and mothers, not just unborn infants." This is an important trend that I fear will have implications for the unborn around the country.

(The Week) - August has witnessed a bombardment of bad news for America's most vulnerable mothers and babies.

First, lawyers for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a breakdown of the pregnancy discrimination cases they handled in 2013 — and the big finding was quite distressing. Women in low-income jobs — like food service, retail, and manufacturing — are the most likely to seek help dealing with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, they found. That's especially alarming when you consider that low-income workers tend to need their work the most, a reality made more grave by pregnancy.

Second, there's already been an arrest in Tennessee under a new law that turns newborns addicted to or harmed by drugs during pregnancy into evidence in their moms' prosecution for assault. Despite the fact that there is little evidence to support the idea that such a measure would dissuade drug use during pregnancies, the law passed with overwhelming support from the Tennessee legislature.

What these two scenarios — the absence of solid labor protections for pregnant workers and the Tennessee punitive legislation — have in common is that they both unintentionally form push factors that make abortion an attractive option.

If fair accommodations for pregnant workers are not legally guaranteed, then women have a great deal to lose from pushing employers to provide them. When a low-income pregnant worker loses her job, she very suddenly loses access to any number of supports, chief among them insurance and income. Faced with these repercussions, it is not hard to imagine how abortion begins to look better than carrying a child to term with no way to care for it.

The same abortion-incentivizing result can be found in Tennessee's law. The possibility of imprisonment for giving birth to a drug-addicted baby basically encourages women in dire straits to pursue abortion instead of carrying their babies to term. If ultrasounds are imagined to be a substantial enough nudge to put women off of abortion, then surely the prospect of jail time — or poverty and lost insurance — is substantial enough to do the opposite.

And that's the problem with current thinking about abortion: A culture of life — one that is truly hospitable not only to the birth of children, but to pregnancy, motherhood, and family life — must be outfitted with legislation that protects pregnancy and mothers as strenuously as it does infants.

Our policy regarding abortion cannot rest on punishment; each mother that is thrown in prison represents one child bereft of a natural parent, a circumstance antithetical to the purpose of a culture of life. Instead of threatening to imprison pregnant women who use drugs, it would be wiser to provide free and reliably accessible health care to treat addiction and the problems that give rise to it. Likewise, rather than presuming companies produce family-friendly cultures on their own, legislation protecting the rights of pregnant workers seems an intelligent investment in moms and their infants.

When Pope Francis remarks on abortion, he often speaks of a "throwaway culture" that "wastes" human life. I believe this to be an equally accurate assessment of the social circumstances that turn abortion into a grim but ordinary reality. It's not only infants whose lives are thrown away by cultures that provide insufficient support for pregnancy and childbearing, but mothers' and would-be mothers' lives as well. A culture of life that prevents the throwaway tendencies Pope Francis rightly condemns should recognize that the relationship between mother, infant, community, work, and care is a thick and irresolvable one. To support infants, we must support mothers in all their capacities, from healthcare to work to child-raising itself.

Friday, August 22, 2014

California *shock* persecuting Christians

(One News Now) - Romanian Christians are familiar with persecution in their home country but they didn't expect to encounter it in America.

The Holy Resurrection Romanian Orthodox Church struggled to find a place to worship in California. After finding a place in the Rio Linda area of Sacramento, church members discovered their biggest stumbling block is city government.

Brad Dacus, founder of Pacific Justice Institute, says one reason Sacramento gave for refusing permission was the location was near a bar, so the location might not be compatible with the neighborhood.

"Another reason given was that they said there were too many churches already," says Dacus, whose law firm is representing the church. "You know, it's not the business of government to dictate how many churches we need."

Church members were shocked at the city's attitude and observed that it reminded them of the hostilities they experienced in Romania, which had been ruled under Communism for almost 30 years during the Cold War.

The country's most infamous leader was Nicolae Ceausescu, whose reign of terror included spying on and imprisoning churchgoers.

Dacus explains: "They recognized clear similarities of the hostility that they had experienced in Romania, being persecuted as Christians, and they were having some of the same kind of resistance to be able to have a place to worship here in the United States."

The law firm reported in a press release that PJI attorney Kevin Snider spoke on the church's behalf at a planning commission meeting, where a 5-0 vote approved the church's plans.

Prayers, please.

This may be the second or third time I've asked for prayers in the seven years I've run this blog. I'll be short and sweet. I'm awaiting a final answer on a parish assignment and the money to make housing and such work isn't there right now. So, in your kindness, please remember my family and me as we go forward. Moving with school starting in three days is not ideal but I'm trusting in kairos over chronos here.

Antiochian Archdiocese adds missions

This might not be newsworthy if I were talking about ROCOR or the OCA, but the Antiochians and the Greeks take a very different approach to missions. I've looked at the Greek requirements for a mission and most Slavic parishes wouldn't qualify. Time will tell as to which model (OCA missions and mission stations or the high hurdles of Greeks) will prove most fruitful. I've been to Greek parishes in the rural South that have money but few people on a Sunday morning and OCA parishes that started with neither and are now thriving. I've also seen men out of seminary put into missions that couldn't support them, forcing young families to go on government assistance and putting them in dangerous situations where a rather pedestrian healthcare emergency bankrupts them. A few hundred years in and we're still feeling our way through how best to effect the Great Commission to the New World.

But, returning to the missions at hand, I'll be in both areas in the near future and hope to make a visit (and take a few pictures). If you, dear reader, visit these or any mission send me photos!

(Antiochian.org) - His Grace Bishop Thomas announces two new mission parishes being formed in the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic.

Beloved in Christ,

The Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, is pleased to announce that we are beginning to establish two new missions.

The first is a mission station in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For information about this mission endeavor, you should contact Paul Abernathy (p.abernathy12@gmail.com; 412-334-0917).

A second mission endeavor is being attempted in Talbot County, Maryland. An advertisement offers information (PDF) about our first meeting, which I plan to attend.

I would appreciate it very much if those of you who are on the East Coast would regularly remind your faithful about both these movements. Those of you who are not in this area, but know people who might live in or travel to this area, please pass this information on.

On triple immersion

Fr. John Whiteford's blog, a post entitled "Stump the Priest: Triple Immersion." The video added is my own.

Question: "I am not opposed to triune immersion, but I do want to question the idea that triune immersion is the ONLY way. Why isn't there a single mention of triune immersion in the New Testament? Other than the Didache, I see no explicit support for triune immersion from the writings from the first and second century. Tertullian speaks of thrice immersions as being "an ampler pledge" than what is found in Scripture. Ampler means greater. Therefore, he is saying that triune immersion is somewhat greater than what Jesus described in Matthew 28, and therefore something beyond what Christ commanded."

There is no explicit mention in the New Testament of either single or triple immersion, and so we have to look beyond the New Testament for answers here. You say "other than the Didache", as if the fact that the Didache does mention this is a small matter. The Didache is the earliest Christian writing that is not part of the New Testament, and was highly regarded in the early Church, as can be seen by its mention in St. Athanasius' famous Paschal Epistle of 367, in which he provides the earliest complete list of the New Testament canon, as the Church has received it. Most of the writings that we have from the second century are Apologetic writings, directed towards those outside of the Church. The internal teachings of the Church were still intentional left unwritten, until the time that the persecutions in the Roman Empire ceased...

Complete post here.

How the world should feel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Annual Chicago Synergy conference announced

CHICAGO, IL (OCA-MW) — Chicago’s Orthodox Christian Synergy will hold its annual Symposium at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 North Redwood Drive, Chicago on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

The theme of the annual gathering is “Operation Thy Kingdom Come: How Do We Live Our Faith in a Secular Age?” The theme will underscore how the Kingdom of God has power to take back His People from the secular world and fill the empty secular heart.

His Grace, Bishop Anthony of the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest will be the keynote speaker. Born and raised in Ironwood, MI, he attended the University of Michigan, where he received his BA in Literature, Science and the Arts, having a double major in History and English literature. He attended Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY.

Registration and payment prior to October 9 is only $35.00. (Husband and wife couples: $50.) From October 10 –18, the cost is $40.00 per person. High School and College Students will receive a discounted rate of $20.00. Registration includes coffee service and lunch.

For more information, please visit Synergy’s website or call 847-647-8880 or 630-230-0079. A flyer in PDF format may be downloaded here.

Orthodox Christian Synergy includes clergy and lay representative of Chicago-area Orthodox Christian parishes who seek to project awareness of Orthodox Christianity to the public at large. Synergy works together with its parent organization, the Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Greater Chicago, and with the blessings of the Chicago area Orthodox hierarchs.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Enthronement of Met. Onufry, primate of Ukrainian Church

Friday, August 15, 2014

Met. John of Pergamon on the regional assemblies of bishops

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How to spend the Dormition Fast

(Pravmir) - The Dormition Fast is preparation for the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Theotokos was immaculate, pure, and led a very temperate way of life. Tradition even tells us that she led a life-long fast. Thus, the meaning of this fast is to participate in the pure and immaculate abstinence of the Mother of God in preparation for the Feast of her Dormition.

According to the Typicon, this fast is considered strict. From Monday to Friday only xerophagy [literally, “dry-eating,” i.e., food prepared without oil] is allowed, and on weekends oil may be added to food (in our case, vegetable oil). Fish is permitted only on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. In terms of strictness, this fast is not inferior to Great Lent, the only difference being that the Dormition Fast is short: two weeks in all. Moreover, it is not spring, when all that is available is melted snow, but August, in which we rejoice in an abundance of vegetables and fruits.

During the Dormition Fast there are three feast days in honor of the Savior: in Russia they are called “Saviors.” On these days the blessing of the fruits of the earth take place. The “first Savior” is the feast in honor of Christ’s Cross, which takes place at the beginning of the fast, on August 14. On this feast there is a blessing of honey. The “second Savior” is the Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration (August 19), which includes the blessing of grapes (since Russia is not grape country, these fruits are replaced by our fruits and vegetables, such as apples). The “third Savior” is the feast of the translation of the Icon Made-Without-Hands from Edessa to Constantinople (August 29), which is celebrated on the day following the Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos. On this day bread of the new harvest is blessed.

The services that take place in churches during the Dormition, Apostles’, and Nativity Fasts, unfortunately, do not differ much from one another. Unfortunately, this external similarity leads to a spiritual devaluation of the fasts, with many people thinking of them only in terms of a limitation of food. Great Lent is, in this sense, a pleasant exception. Even children think of it not just as a time when one cannot eat certain things, but in terms of the new services that go on in church every week.

Strictly speaking, there are in fact some particularities in terms of the divine services, only they are not performed in the average parish, or even in monasteries. These particularities are common to all three fasts. For example, on certain days the Divine Liturgy is not served and one should read the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, “O Lord and Master of my life…” with full prostrations. However, in our minds this prayer is firmly connected with Great Lent, so it seems somehow unusual to perform it during other fasts.

In order that the external similarity of the divine services of these fasts be not devalued, the priest must disclose the uniqueness of each fast during his sermon. During the Apostles’ Fast, he can tell of the Apostolic preaching; during the Nativity Fast, he can create an atmosphere of expectation for the coming into the world of Christ, such as reigned during Old Testament times. And during the Dormition Fast, he can appeal to the purity, immaculateness chastity, and continence exemplified by the Virgin Mary.

The prosperity gospel meets real Christianity

From Syria even unto Rome I fight with beasts, both by land and sea, both by night and day, being bound to ten leopards, I mean a band of soldiers, who, even when they receive benefits, show themselves all the worse. But I am the more instructed by their injuries [to act as a disciple of Christ]; "yet am I not thereby justified." May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me; and I pray that they may be found eager to rush upon me, which also I will entice to devour me speedily, and not deal with me as with some, whom, out of fear, they have not touched. But if they be unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me [in this] I know what is for my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple, and have no desire after anything visible or invisible, that I may attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let breakings, tearings, and separations of bones; let cutting off of members; let bruising to pieces of the whole body; and let the very torment of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.

All the ends of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing. It is better for me to die for the sake of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth. "For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? "I long after the Lord, the Son of the true God and Father, even Jesus Christ. Him I seek, who died for us and rose again. Pardon me, brethren: do not hinder me in attaining to life; for Jesus is the life of believers. Do not wish to keep me in a state of death, for life without Christ is death. While I desire to belong to God, do not ye give me over to the world. Suffer me to obtain pure light: when I have gone thither, I shall indeed be a man of God. Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of Christ, my God. If any one has Him within himself, let him consider what I desire, and let him have sympathy with me, as knowing how I am straitened.

- St. Ignatius of Antioch
Letter to the Romans, Chapters 5 & 6