Saturday, June 12, 2021

His Ascension: Not abandonment but deification

(Pemptousia) - As we know, the feast of the Ascension seals the first coming of Christ to the world, in the flesh. It thus completes the plan of God’s divine dispensation in the incarnation of his Son and Word as a human being. The nativity, the teaching, the  miracles, the passion, the crucifixion and burial and the resurrection of Christ \re divine occurrences which are related to Christ’s presence in the world. With the Ascension, however, the healing of the human race through all these works and deeds is sealed, but also generalized to the whole of the human race, because the Lord didn’t merely ascend into the heavens in glory but, as we confess in article 6 of the Creed: ‘And he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the father’. In other words, deified human nature is now present at the throne of God, together with the divine. Therefore every being which shares human nature can also be deified by grace and so can be saved. Before the Ascension this was impossible. This makes us realize the blessing, the significance and the gravity of this feast.

With the Ascension, there is no abandonment of us on the part of Christ, nor any absence of his from the world, since he himself assured his disciples: ‘Behold, I am with you always until the end of the age. Amen’ (Matth. 28, 20). It follows that when we pray to the Lord, when we partake of the body and blood of Christ, when we cleanse our heart and enclose Christ therein, then we become Christ-bearers and God-bearers. What the Bridegroom of the Church and of the existence of every believer wants is for us to love him, to make him our priority, to keep his commandments and to seek him, directly or indirectly in his visible image, that is every other person.

Apart from the objective salvation of the human race and the opportunity for each of us to achieve this by growing from the image of God into his likeness, the feast of the Ascension also opens up two other perspectives. 

a) The first is also the last, in the sense that it belongs to the end times. It’s the expectation of his glorious second coming concerning which we know neither the hour or the moment, though we do know that it’ll happen, as we confess in the Creed: ‘And he shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; and of his kingdom there shall be no end’. So from this we know that everything we do, say and think will have its recompense, for good or bad, at the second coming, since the Lord will be there as Judge. Moreover, since we know neither the time nor the moment of the Second Coming, nor of our own biological death, we have to be aware of the vigilance and sobriety required for our departure from this earthly life. This shouldn’t engender pathological fear and anxiety in us, but neither should we descend into sloth and a false sense of security.

The second prospect is the opening of the way for the coming of the Comforter*, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, who is necessary if we’re to know anything at all about God and whose presence is essential on every occasion of the sacramental life and liturgical services of our Church.

*A difficult word. Originally it meant ‘someone who was summoned’ which makes theological sense in that we invoke the Holy Spirit at the sacraments. However, the word in Greek is also related to the verb ‘to console’ and when the liturgical texts were first translated, into Slavonic, the word used was Uteshitel’ (=‘Comforter’), so it is probably safe to assume that this was the meaning the word carried in the Church.

Screen time and Orthodoxy


 

Friday, June 11, 2021

GOA, OCA hierarchs - Divine Liturgy in Episcopal church

Lest you say "The EP is going to be the EP," there were representatives (episcopal and otherwise) of other Orthodox jurisdictions in attendance (OCA and others). I'm sure people have a variety of opinions about celebrating a Liturgy in an Episcopal church. Feel free to see their website here if you are curious where this church fits on the ACNA/ECUSA spectrum. And do read the words of Abp. Elpidophoros on ecumenism and of the role/greatness of the Ecumenical Patriarch. It makes very clear his opinions on both topics.


(GOA) - His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will preside over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy honoring Saint Bartholomew at the historic Saint Bartholomew Church in Midtown Manhattan on June 11, 2021.  Bishop Dean Wolfe, Rector of Saint Bartholomew’s Church, joyfully has extended his blessing to His Eminence for this joyous occasion to take place. 

St. Bartholomew's Church is a historic Episcopal parish founded in 1835, and located on the east side of Park Avenue between 50th and 51st Street , in New York City. The current church was constructed in 1917. It is known as Byzantine Revival and was designed by celebrated American architect Bertram Goodhue. On October 31, 2016, the St. Bartholomew's Church and Community House complex was designated a National Historic Landmark, for its significance as an outstanding example of early 20th-century ecclesiastical architecture.

The Divine Liturgy will take place on Friday, June 11, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. EST and will be live-streamed on the social media accounts of Archbishop Elpidophoros. Due to health and safety precautions, attendance in the church will be limited.

Words from Abp. Elpidophoros at the event:

Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Christ is in our midst!

Today, in an ecumenical gesture worthy of the occasion, I have the special honor to preside over the Divine Service for the Patronal Feast of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, and Spiritual Father of Orthodox Christianity. 

This magnificent church dedicated to Saint Bartholomew is truly a precious architectural gem and artistic jewel of both Manhattan and the entire country.

Surrogacy and the Russian Church

My expectation, backed by the experiences of women in the third world (chiefly India), is that there is a danger of a breeding underclass developing. Women of varying ability to make decisions about when and how often their wombs are used for people to order children off the shelf. And of course the dangers of "imperfect" aka "not what I ordered" children left in some bizarre undeclared limbo. It's all very Zardoz.


Moscow, June 11 (Interfax) - The Russian Orthodox Church has welcomed parliamentarians' initiative to ban foreigners from using the services of surrogate mothers in Russia, calling on the State Duma in its future convocation to support the bill.

"Such an initiative, aimed at saving children, cannot help but make us, Orthodox Christians, the entire family community, and citizens of Russia happy. We are sincerely thankful, and we fully support the authors, experts, the people who drafted this bill, all political and public figures who raised this issue, covered it in the media and on social networks, and who support the speedy introduction of a ban on taking children out of Russia under the guise of surrogate motherhood," priest Fyodor Lukyanov, the head of the patriarch's commission on family issues, said in a statement obtained by Interfax.

A bill on surrogate motherhood was submitted to the State Duma on Friday. The document provides that at least one of the future parents or a single woman using the surrogate program in the territory of Russia has to have Russian citizenship.

The head of the patriarch's commission called the new bill "a test for humanity" for Russian society and said its adoption will help stop "the disgraceful practice of selling children for export." The priest said he believes the deaths of children born to surrogate mothers and high-profile criminal cases have shown that surrogate motherhood in Russia has turned into "an immoral, inhumane, and sometimes bloody business, closely intertwined with trafficking in children."

Before the parliamentary elections, the Church representative invited politicians who care about Russia's future, regardless of their political views and differences on other issues, to clearly and publicly assume the obligation in their future work to protect and support families, parents' rights, traditional family and moral values, and protect the holy value of human life.

"We are asking the legislators of the future convocation of the State Duma to give special attention to issues related to taking care of people, protecting children's lives, including before birth, and support the submitted bill governing surrogate motherhood as a step toward saving people's lives," the head of the patriarch's commission said in a statement.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Antiochians hosting virtual convention in July


 

I enjoyed my Small Parish Forum experiences. Give it a try!

(OCA) - The Diocese of the Midwest, the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania and the Bulgarian Diocese announced today that the Parish Development Forum will be held online Friday July 16. Registration will begin in mid-June.

“While many regions are lifting COVID mandates it seems most effective to once again offer the Parish Development Forum as a one day online session,” said Joseph Kormos, Forum co-chairperson and Parish Development Ministry Leader for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh.

The theme of the 2021 Forum will be “Awakening to Opportunity”.  “While ‘getting back to normal’ sounds attractive, we are hopefully not returning to parish life as it used to be but rather building to something better,”  said Archpriest Stephen Frase co-chairperson of the Forum.  Parishioners return as different people to a parish that is different in many ways. Roles, jobs and ministries may have changed. Fears and concerns exist. Yet, we are offered unprecedented opportunities to reach out as more resilient, more forward looking and less insular parish communities.”

“The agenda will incorporate a blend of keynote and parallel breakout sessions in which attendees can choose from an array of skill building and dialogue sessions,” said Kormos. Topics will be organized into three important content tracks – ‘Personal Spiritual Resiliency’, ‘The Resilient Parish’ and ‘Becoming Fishers of Men’.  Each track will have three individual, synchronized topic sessions. Attendees can pursue a single track or move between tracks throughout the day.  In providing three tracks parishes will hopefully encourage participation by multiple parish leaders to participate and report back on the content in the different tracks.”

Archpriest Frase added, “For the past seven years this conference has attracted persons from virtually every OCA Diocese and many other Orthodox jurisdictions. The online venue makes this opportunity available to a broad group of potential attendees.”

Registration will be online only and will open in late-June. Sessions will begin at 10:00 AM Eastern time Friday July 16 and conclude at 5:30 PM that day.  The registration fee will be a free will donation that can be made via PayPal and credit card at the time of registration.  For more information contact Joseph Kormos at joekormos1@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Upcoming Conference: The Mother of God in our Lives

(Patristic Nectar) - Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present our 2021 Conference - The Mother of God in our Lives. We are making this conference available through live online streaming for those who would like to attend remotely.

Registration for this event is $40. All registrants will be able to watch the conference live, and in addition they will receive the complete set of conference lectures in their Patristic Nectar account library once they are published. To watch the conference and receive the audios, register below. You can also find the conference schedule and information about our speakers.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Let us remember those who have fallen...

...and pray for those who stand at the gates today.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Melkites, Ukrainians, Vatican II, Oh My!

I posted the promotional flyer to this a few weeks back. Here is the video of the event itself.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Vaccines and the Russian Church

(ROC-UKIE-) - On May 20, 2021, a round table "Vaccination: Ethical Issues in the light of the Orthodox faith" was held at the Sretenskaya Theological Academy.  At the end of the event, its participants approved the final document.

Participants of the round table "Vaccination: ethical aspects in the light of the Orthodox faith" - members of the Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church, experts in the field of medicine and biology and representatives of the Orthodox community - discussed emerging issues, including among the believers of the Orthodox Church, regarding vaccination against coronavirus infection COVID -19.

Scientists and doctors who are making significant efforts to overcome the consequences and prevent the further spread of the coronavirus infection COVID-19, which has claimed lives of many people and brought a significant disorder to the lives of peoples, deserve profound gratitude and respect. Today, as in the past, thanks to advances in medical science, including in the field of vaccine prevention, it has become possible to prevent and reduce the spread of many diseases, alleviate the suffering that they bring to people, reduce mortality and increase life expectancy.  Many epidemics known in the past have come to end, including after the use of vaccines against the corresponding diseases.

The historical experience of the Russian Orthodox Church knows examples of the active participation of clergy in the advance of the practice of vaccination as a medical procedure aimed at saving the life and health of people.  For example, in 1804, the decree of the Holy Governing Synod recommended bishops and priests to explain to the people the benefits of vaccination against smallpox.  At the same time, the basics of vaccination against this disease were included in the list of general education disciplines in the program of training the future clergy.  The advance of vaccination against smallpox was supported, for example, by the Holy Hierarch Innokenty of Moscow [1].

Friday, May 21, 2021

Kristusaq Unguirtuq! Illuumun unguirtuq! A bishop for AK

(OCA-AK) - Beloved Clergy and faithful Members of the Diocesan Council of the holy, God-protected Diocese of Sitka and Alaska,

Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen! Христос Воскресе! Во истину Воскресе! Kristusaq Unguirtuq! Illuumun unguirtuq!

I greet you with the joy of our Risen Lord and with the desire to share with you an important decision made by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, a decision that directly affects our diocese. At the 2021 Spring Session, the Holy Synod has requested that I now exercise my locum tenens obligation to convene a special Diocesan Assembly with the express purpose of nominating a candidate to be elected as the ruling hier- arch of the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska. With that mandate in mind, I hereby convene a special session of the Diocesan Assembly on Saturday, August 7, 2021 at Saint Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage. The Most-blessed TIKHON, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, will preside over this assembly in person.

We will necessarily have to modify the Saint Herman Pilgrimage schedule to accommodate this one-day assem- bly in Anchorage. The annual pilgrimage in Kodiak will begin on Sunday, August 8, 2021 at Holy Resurrection Cathedral and conclude on Spruce Island Monday August 9, 2021.

I humbly ask for your precious prayers that God’s will be done in this as in all things, for the good of the clergy and faithful of this great northern land.

With God’s blessings and paternal love in Christ,

+ALEXIS, Bishop of Bethesda

Locum Tenens for the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Govt. intervention in Eritrean Church

New York, NY (SCOOCH) – Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen!  At a meeting of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches occurring earlier this month, it was reported to the Standing Conference that the Synod of Eritrea – under pressure from the government of that country – has determined to install another patriarch contrary to the canon law while His Holiness Abune Antonios I is alive and has not been formally deposed after an ecclesiastical trial convicting him of any wrongdoing or heresy.

As representatives of their respective Mother Churches, the bishops of the Standing Conference stand unequivocally with His Holiness Abune Antonios I, and recognize him as the only legitimate Patriarch of Eritrea, praying that God might return him to his throne in peace.  In light of this conviction, the Standing Conference has decided to issue two letters: 

  • One to the Eritrean government, expressing the Conference’s strenuous objections to any actions which undermine the canon law common to all Orthodox Churches 

  • And another to the faithful people of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church who stand with His Holiness Abune Antonios I and the canons of the Church, encouraging them in their principled stand.

Let it further be noted that any assertions made to the effect that the Eritrean Church has been in communication with the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox Synods regarding their decision to flout the canon law and that the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox Synods “have accepted this decision” or “are in the process of working it out” are utter falsehoods.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches accept no other Patriarch for the Eritrean Church other than His Holiness Abune Antonios I and stand with him without reservation.  The Coptic Church in particular continues to pray for him by name in every Liturgy it prays.

As for any assertions made that each Sister Church is independent and free to choose their own Patriarch, it should be noted that each Sister Church must carry out such decisions in accordance with the canon law common to us all and not contrary to it.

May God return His Holiness to his throne in peace.  Lord, have mercy.

Arch. Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos heading to America

(GOARCH) - AXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS! V. Rev Archimandrite Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos Elected Bishop of Nazianzos

This morning, the Holy and Sacred Synod elected The V. Rev. Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos, Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod and Chaplain of the Holy Cross Theological School, as the Bishop of Nazianzos, assistant Bishop of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, who placed him at the disposal of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America in order that he may continue his current service in the Holy Archdiocese.

The full announcement is below.

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE

COMMUNIQUÉ

With thanksgiving it is announced that during its gathering today, the Holy and Sacred Synod, at the suggestion of His All-Holiness, elected unanimously:

1) His Grace Bishop Andreas of Krateia as the provincial Bishop of Toronto of the Ukrainian presence in Canada under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

2) The V. Rev. Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Ambrosios Koutsourides, Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Germany, as Bishop of Argyroupolis, serving in the future the very numerous expatriates in Bavaria as an assistant Bishop of the Metropolitan.

3) The V. Rev. Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos to the high title of Nazianzos, as assistant Bishop of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch who placed him at the disposal of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America in order that he may continue his current service as the Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod and in the Holy Cross Theological School of Boston.

Their Graces the Bishops-Elect of Argyroupolis and Nazianzos performed on the same day the Small and Great Minyma and received the congratulations of His All-Holiness, the Holy Hierarchs, and the members of the Patriarchal Court who wished them to have a faithful hierarchical diakonia.

At the Patriarchate, on the 19th of May 2021

From the Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod

Rejoice! A new bishop for the Diocese of the South!

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more kind and considerate man to help shepherd the good people of the Diocese of the South. A long-awaited Axios! to Bishop Gerasim.


(OCA) - On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting in their regular Spring 2021 Session under the presidency of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, canonically elected the Very Reverend Archimandrite Gerasim (Eliel) Bishop of Fort Worth, Auxiliary to His Eminence Archbishop Alexander and the Diocese of the South.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Holy Cross headed by new dean

(HCHC) - By a unanimous vote of HCHC’s Board of Trustees on May 10, 2021, Rev. Dr. George Parsenios has been appointed Dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and Professor of New Testament with tenure. In announcing the appointment, HCHC President George M. Cantonis said, “We are extraordinarily fortunate that a scholar of such renown, himself a Holy Cross alumnus, has accepted the deanship, which has always been of tremendous importance to the institution’s academic and spiritual vitality, but never more than at this time, as we intensify our efforts to make HCHC the very best it can be.”

Fr. Parsenios is an award-winning teacher and internationally recognized scholar of the New Testament, with expertise in the Gospels. He has held the rank of Full Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary since 2002. He has been an Adjunct Professor at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and at the St. Athanasius Theological College in the University of Melbourne (Australia). He also holds the position of Extraordinary Research Professor at North West University in South Africa. He is the author of three major books and numerous articles on New Testament themes, and was recently a member of the team that revised the translation of the New Testament for The New American Bible, under the auspices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. His publications focus on the interaction of early Christianity with the classical world and on the interpretation of Scripture in the early Church.

Fr. Parsenios earned his Master of Divinity degree from Holy Cross in 1996 after receiving degrees in Classics from the University of Cincinnati (BA) and Duke University (MA).  Following his studies at Holy Cross, he earned an MA, MPhil, and PhD at Yale University. He has been serving the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey part-time as a priest at the parish of St. Demetrios in Perth Amboy. He and Presvytera Maureen have three children.

Last fall, Fr. Parsenios taught the “Introduction to the New Testament” course at Holy Cross as a visiting professor, graciously volunteering his time and expertise to his beloved alma mater. 

Fr. Parsenios believes that few academic institutions provide the chance to teach and to study the Bible within the life of the Church the way Holy Cross does. It was while he was a student at Holy Cross that he first combined his calling to the priesthood with a devotion to the study of the New Testament.