Sunday, September 25, 2016

A new bishop enthroned for the Serbian Church in Canada

( - September 18, 2016 will go down in history at the beginning of a new chapter in the mission of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Canada.

In a packed-to-capacity church of All Serbian Saints in Mississauga, with the prayers of 8 bishops, 20 priests, and 2 protodeacons, His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Irinej, up to that moment the Administrator of the God-preserved Diocese of Canada, enthroned the new Bishop of Canada His Grace Right Reverend Dr. Mitrofan.

Hours before the Holy Liturgy commenced believers started to flow in so that at the start of the service the church was filled to capacity.

Children in traditional folklore dress preceded all of the priests of the Canadian Diocese, tens of guests from neighbouring Serbian dioceses, as well as representatives of other Orthodox jurisdictions in Canada, as they led the ceremonial procession of hierarchs into the church.

His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch celebrate the Divine Liturgy, along with Metropolitan Sotirions (Patriarchate of Constantinople), Archbishop Irinee (Orthodox Church in America), Bishop Andriy (Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada – Patriarchate of Constantinople), Bishop Christopher (Patriarchate of Constantinople), as well as Serbian bishops Vasilije of Srem, Longin of New Gracanica, Hrizostom of Zvornik-Tuzla, and Maksim of Western America.

The Holy Liturgy was prayerful and peaceful, especially because of the melodious responses sung by St. Sava Choir (John Lukich conductor), and the diocesan choir Kir Stefan the Serb (Jasmina Vucurovic conductor). The chanters for the Liturgy were Very Reverend Frs. Ljubo Rajic, Rajko Kosic, Dragan Veleusic, theologian Milorad Delic, and Aleksandar Markovic.

Several hundred youth and believers received Holy Communion.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Another great lecture in the Chicago area

I'm going to do something I never do. If you go to this talk and are the first person to say "Byzantine, Texas sent me," you'll get a $20 gift certificate to Starbucks. If you're in the area, go to this talk!

Praying for peace

(Reuters) - The head of the Roman Catholic Church closed a three-day meeting where about 500 representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and other faiths discussed how their members could better promote peace and reconciliation.

Syrian airbase gets a consecrated Orthodox chapel

Moscow, September 22 (Interfax) - St. George Chapel was consecrated with Patriarch Kirill's blessing at the Khmeimim Syrian airbase where Russian air forces are based, official website of the Russian Orthodox Church reports on Thursday. The chapel has been there a few months at least. They held services as far back as Christmas.

The Moscow Patriarchate's delegation has recently visited the group of the Russian troops in Syria. An icon with a particle of St. George relics was transferred to the chapel. Over 500 servicemen prayed at the Divine Liturgy, each of them received a small icon of St. George.

Two Divine Liturgies, 18 prayer services and a procession with cross and St. George icon around the airbase were held during the delegation visit to Syria. Eight servicemen were baptized. Five pastoral hours and twelve conversations in groups were carried out, about a thousand servicemen participated in them. There were meetings with the staff of the Black Sea Fleet warship Pytlivy and the Baltic Sea Fleet warship Yaroslav Mydry.

Patriarch Kirill: No bling on your posokhi!

Moscow, September 22, (Interfax) - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia criticized hegumens and abbesses for seeking luxury and comfort.

"I initiated that each father superior and each mother superior has a bishop's staff (a symbol of spiritual power). But I could not even imagine that hegumens and abbesses will turn these staffs in patriarchal ones, will richly decorate them, will put a cross on them. I did not bless such staffs. You should have an ordinary hegumen staff, without decorations, without jewelry trinkets," the patriarch said on Thursday at his meeting with heads of monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.

"When you come home, the first thing you should do is to order ordinary staffs similar to the one that was in Holy Metropolitan Peter's hands," he said.

According to the primate, fathers superior and mothers superior should think more about ascetic life, not about comfortable conditions.

"I do not think that the way of life of hegumens and abbesses of the old times who organized monasteries radically differed from lifestyle of ordinary monks and nuns. Everyone should clearly understand it. If there is no such understanding, you should better not become a mother superior or father superior," he said.

God protect us from these floods

Oh Master, Lord our God, who in ancient times, didst hear the prayer of thy zealous Prophet Elijah, and didst will to hold back the rain for a time: Oh thou Creator and merciful Lord who loves mankind, look down now upon the humble prayers of us, thine unworthy servants, and in the compassion overlook our iniquities, and, as we supplicate thee for thine own love for mankind, grant good weather unto thine inheritance, causing the sun to shine upon us who are requesting and entreating mercy from thee. Make glad the face of the earth for the sake of thy people, and of infants and cattle and all other living things, which do thou satisfy by thy good pleasure, granting them food in due season. Yea, Oh Lord our God, reject not our prayer as if in vain, neither put us to shame for our hope, but spare us according to thy mercies, and visit us with thy compassions, for our days pass in vanity, and our life grows weak with infirmities.

Destroy us not, therefore, who have attracted thy wrath and indignation toward us, on account of our transgressions, but deal with us according to thy gentleness and according to the multitude of thy mercy. For, behold, with broken soul and humble spirit we fall down before thee, and as unprofitable servants worthy of great punishment, in repentance we cry out to thee with compunction: we have sinned and transgressed; we have committed every iniquity; violating thy commandments, and because of this, all that thou bringest with true judgement. But do not give us over to corruption, famine, and utter destruction, neither let storms of water drown us. Rather, do thou remember mercy in thine anger, and, freely showing tender mercy for the sake of thy compassions, as thou art good, have mercy on thy creation and the work of thy hands, and quickly deliver us from every evil thing.

For thine it is to show mercy and to save, Oh our God, and unto thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Synodality & primacy during the 1st millennium and Uniatism

September 21, 2016 ( – The 14th Plenary Session of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church completed its work in Chieti, Italy.

After the necessary amendments and additions, the plenary session approved a common document on Synodality and Primacy during the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church.

The delegation of the Georgian Church made a statement expressing disagreement with particular paragraphs of the document. This statement was included in the communique adopted by the plenary session and will be present as a footnote in the common document to be published on behalf of the Commission in the nearest future.

The meeting considered a topic to be chosen as a follow-up of the dialogue. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church delegation, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations (DECR), put forward a proposal to devote the next stage of the dialogue to the theme of synodality and primacy in the Churches of East and West in the second millennium, stressing that in the framework of this theme the Commission should complete the discussion on Uniatism as a phenomenon which arose after the 1054 schism and which still constitutes a stumbling stone in the Orthodox-Catholic relations. I'd also like to see some discussion on the so-call "Western Rite" in the Orthodox Church. Partially because it is a phenomenon still foreign to many and partially because it is often cited as "reverse Uniatism."

Metropolitan Hilarion reminded the meeting that the Joint Commission was to discuss the issue of ecclesiological and canonical consequences of Uniatism at its plenary session in Baltimore, USA, as far back as the year 2000. It was to become a continuation of the work that began in the 1990th with the document condemning Uniatism adopted in Balamand, Lebanon, in 1993, followed by a document on the same issue drafted in Ariccia in 1998. However, the work in Baltimore was not completed because of disagreements that arose both between the Catholic and Orthodox sides of the dialogue and within each of the sides.

There's azyme and place for everything...

This is of course not actually happening anywhere... that I know of.

(EOTT) - Just in time for the start of Fall, local hipster priest Fr. Kale Adams announced this morning that he has consecrated his first batch of Pumpkin Spice Eucharist.

Although the seasonal pumpkin flavor of Jesus’ body has been condemned by the Vatican, Fr. Adams has told his parishioners that they’re not sheep, but rather, “free souls that can’t be contained by the man or the Vatican.”

“Pumpkin Spice Eucharist allows me to express myself and my love for JC in ways you wouldn’t believe,” Adams told EOTT as he sat down to finish knitting a cover for his iPad. “And listen, to all those establishment bishops in Rome, I was consecrating before it was cool. And that’s why my parishioners dig me and why so many of them have returned to the Church in the first place. You gotta give them what they want. And what they want is Jesus…Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, with a flawless blend of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger.”

At press time, Fr. Kale Adams is trying on his brand new hemp vestments.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in Wheaton, IL

Friday, September 16, 2016

Update on Greek Archdiocesan changes to the Liturgy

In August I posted some new regulations to be used in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for Greek churches in the US (see: "Changes a'coming to Greek parishes in the US"). I received a ton of email on the topic. In fact, I still am.

By way of update let me say that it looks like as least three metropolises have stated that these changes are not going to go into immediate effect and that the Greek Holy Eparchial Synod will meet and come out with new standards together which will be released to the parishes.

I hope for a robust line of communication between the parish clergy and the hierarchs as there are lots of good things about the proposed standards (both the new Liturgy book and the changes outlined for the laity in that message from the music federation) there is also a lot of clarification and editorial work to be done.

Should we be giving Catholics our relics?

Moscow, September 16 (Interfax) - The head of the Roman Catholic Church received a gift from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia - a part of the relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov in a shrine made in the form of an easter egg.

Head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk conveyed the gift on Thursday at the Apostolic Palace, in the Vatican, the DECR communication service reports.

Among the focuses of the talk was the tragic situation of the Christian population of the Middle East. Pope Francis and Metropolitan Hilarion pointed to the positive experience of cooperation in giving aid to Christians in the Middle East in pursuance of the decision made at the meeting in Cuba.

"The both sides stressed the need for further consolidated actions in the Middle East. The DECR chairman introduced the Pope to the Russian Church’s initiatives for bringing humanitarian aid to suffering people in Syria and thanked the Pontiff for his peacemaking efforts," the message reads.

The sides noted the fruitful cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in the field of culture. Thus, in the last year a project for exchanging academic trips by priests and theological students from the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate to Moscow and Rome respectively has proved to hold much promise as an opportunity for a deeper introduction to the traditions and today’s life of the two Churches.

Metropolitan Hilarion also met with the Vatican State Secretary Pietro Cardinal Parolin. They agreed that it was necessary to continue the peacemaking efforts aimed at overcoming the conflict, in compliance with the Joint Declaration signed in Havana inviting “Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony”.

Metropolitan Hilarion has arrived in Italy to the 14th plenary session of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. The session will be held from September 15 to 22 in Chieti.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Russians kill 70% of their unborn

Moscow, September 14 (Interfax) - Majority of pregnancies in Russia are consciously aborted, head of the movement Women for Life Natalya Moskvitina says.

"70% of pregnancies end in abortion. Three quarters of marriages ends in divorce during first four years of life together. Every three seconds a baby is killed in abortion clinics," Moskvitina said during a video bridge Moscow-Kazan on Wednesday.

She is a mother of four children and three times doctors persuaded her to make an abortion, saying that her next baby would have certain deviations.

"Three times they made a mistake, and three times I tried to prove that even if my baby is a disabled, I want to be the mother for my child," Moskvitina said.

According to her, first of all, "abortions are business" and those, who are involved in it, tell people that it is a "principle of freedom."

"It is legalized, and every woman faces this terrific choice. No one tells her that life is the norm, the norm is to struggle for your child," she said.

EP Bartholomew travels to remember “Croatia’s Auschwitz”

JASENOVAC, Croatia (Times of Israel) — Visiting ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered the spiritual head of Orthodox church leaders, on Saturday commemorated the victims of Croatia’s most notorious World War II death camp.

Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople based in Istanbul, in the first visit by the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church to the country, presided over a mass in the church at Jasenovac and visited the site of the camp known as “Croatia’s Auschwitz.”

The camp, whose site is now home to a memorial, was set up in mid-1941 by the pro-Nazi regime and dismantled in 1945. Croatia’s WWII pro-Nazi Ustasha regime persecuted and killed ethnic Serbs, who are mostly Orthodox Christians, Jews, Romas and anti-fascist Croatians.

The total number of people killed at Jasenovac, some 60 miles southeast of the capital Zagreb, remains disputed. It varies from tens of thousands to 700,000, according to Serbian figures.

Bartholomew, who arrived for a two-day visit to Croatia on Friday, was accompanied by Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac, as well as Orthodox church dignitaries from Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Croatia.
Pupovac earlier hailed the visit stressing the Patriarch was a “man who has been encouraging a dialogue also at a time where there was not much dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, notably in Croatia.”

Nearly 90 percent of Croatia’s population of 4.2 million are Roman Catholics. Orthodox ethnic Serbs are the country’s largest minority making up four percent of the population.

Ties with ethnic Serbs and Serbia remain strained since Croatia’s 1990s war of independence during which Belgrade backed rebel Serbs.

In recent months ties have sunk to their lowest level since the conflict. The two countries have been exchanging bitter accusations over their wartime past, with Belgrade accusing Zagreb of a “rebirth of Nazism” in reference to a far-right surge under conservative rulers.

Due to Croatia’s shift to the right ethnic Serbs, Jews and anti-fascists this year boycotted an official memorial ceremony at Jasenovac.

Orthodox, Catholics meet in Chieti to discuss primacy

(Vatican Radio) - Catholic and Orthodox theologians are meeting in the Italian town of Chieti for the 14th plenary session of their international dialogue commission. The meeting from September 15th to 22nd brings together two representatives from each of the fourteen Orthodox Churches, alongside 28 Catholic participants, under the shared presidency of Cardinal Kurt Koch from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and Archbishop Job of Telmessos from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The meeting will focus on discussion of a draft document, drawn up at the previous two sessions, entitled “Towards a common understanding of Synodality and Primacy in service to the Unity of the Church”. Participants will also share moments of prayer together with local Christian communities, including a Mass in the cathedral of San Giustino in Chieti on Saturday and a Divine Liturgy at the shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello on Sunday.

To find out more about the meeting, Philippa Hitchen spoke to Mgr Andrea Palmieri, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. He noted that the issue of synodality and primacy is “one of the most delicate questions” in the relationship between Catholics and Orthodox. He says participants hope to arrive at a consensus that will enable them to publish a new document since the last publication was the Ravenna document which followed the plenary session of 2007.

Commenting on the recent pan-Orthodox Council which took place in Crete, Mgr Palmieri noted that the ten Churches taking part in that encounter approved a document on Orthodox relations with other Christians. The consensus among those Orthodox Churches, he said, opens up new horizons and “demonstrates the will of Orthodox Church to continue the theological dialogue, not just with the Catholic Church but also with other Churches and Christian communities”.

Speaking of the encounter in Cuba last February between Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, Mgr Palmieri said all such meetings and exchanges between Church leaders provide a positive context within which theologians can advance their dialogue. He also pointed to the historic encounter last April between Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Athens Hieronymus on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The theological dialogues, he stressed, are not simply academic discussions, separated from the life of the Church but rather they are concerned with the very heart of the Church’s life. The themes of synodality and primacy, he said, are at the centre of attention right now for both Catholics and Orthodox, as they explore what it means to exercise one in relation to the other. Discussing these themes, he said, means thinking together about ways in which a reconciled Church can better serve the mission of the Church to bring the Gospel to all people.

100th anniversary of the Wrigley Field church

(Greek Reporter) - In Joliet the parishioners of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church are celebrating the church’s 100th anniversary.

The church offers services in both English and Greek on Sundays and is a gathering place for the third and fourth-generation descendants of its original Greek founders as well as people who have married and converted to Orthodoxy.

Maria Maintains, a member of the church and the chairwoman for the anniversary commented to that the church is a vital part of the Greek Orthodox community as it is “still a place to come together and celebrate.”

The church has made a year of celebrations in honoring the 100th year of All Saints from banquets and a Greek-centric version of Mardis Gras celebrations before Lent.

A Church Built with Steel Meant for Wrigley Field

The building of where the church stands today is not the original structure from 1916 as it was demolished in 1942.

In 1943 the cornerstone for the building that still stands today was laid and many parishioners wanted to build the church in steel.

Due to the war effort there was a shortage of steel, so several parishioners traveled to Washington DC to speak to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The story goes that Roosevelt said: “I can’t get you steel. We need it to save our troops.” So the church’s Rev. Stephen Bithos said “What if we save some souls?”

Following the meeting, Roosevelt diverted a shipment of steel — that was originally bound for the lights of Wrigley Field — to Joilet for the construction of the All Saints church.