Thursday, September 16, 2021

An odd situation in Canada

 Looking for anyone with some personal insights into what is going on here and any background on previous decisions Abp. Sotirios has been making in these coronal times.

(Orthodox Reflections) - On August 24th 2021 during the feast day of St. Kosmas the Aetolian, Archbishop Sotirios of Canada BANNED the laity from receiving Holy Communion at the monastery of St. Kosmas – established by the late Elder Ephraim of blessed memory just outside of Toronto in 1993.

The Archbishop announced during the service: “ONLY THE NUNS WILL COMMUNE – NO ONE ELSE!” After the sisters communed, the laity were NOT allowed to approach the Holy Chalice as can be seen in the video. Among the hundreds of faithful in attendance were also a very large number of children (of all ages) who remained “uncommuned”. As a result, the faithful respecting the mystery of Holy Communion taking place, waited patiently until after dismissal and began confronting the Archbishop with serious objections during the giving of antidoron, most of which can be heard in the recording.

The issue of Holy Communion in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada has been an ever-evolving subject since June of 2020, which interestingly – has not been a concern for most of the other Orthodox jurisdictions in the province of Ontario. Archbishop Sotirios is constantly applying immense pressure on the sisterhood to adopt the use of multiple spoons for the distribution of communion – we applaud the monastery’s uncompromising stance & stand by their side in defense of our Holy Tradition!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Liturgy of Preparation / Prothesis / Proskomedia in photos

I believe Fr. Timothy Hojnicki has done a "teaching Liturgy" before. In fact a number of clergy have been doing these annually or by request. Some have let people into the altar which I can't really abide, but moving the table of preparation out to the people (or elsewhere in more of a classroom environment) is great. I do an abbreviated explanation for catechumens, but if people were to ask I might do something like the below. I might even add a "all the things father has to do before he can go downstairs and bless the meal" so that people understand that it's not dawdling but good order to take the time after Liturgy to do all that is required before heading out the north door.

(OCA-DEPA) - Today at Divine Liturgy, Holy Apostles (Mechanicsburg) commenced the new Church School year with a "Teaching Liturgy," throughout which Fr. Timothy Hojnicki provided a detailed explanation of the main components of the Liturgy service. At the end of the service, a special blessing for a successful school year for our parish students -- youth and young adults -- and teachers was made and a group photo was taken. "Blessed is the Kingdom!"

Monday, September 13, 2021

Homo homini lupus est.

(SOC-AU) - An archpastoral reflection on the current situation in Australia.

 “But He answered and said to them, 

I tell you that if these should keep silent, 

the stones would immediately cry out!” (Luke 19:40)

To Whom It May Concern,


I am compelled by my conscience as Bishop of the faithful entrusted to me, to address by way of this open letter my deep concerns regarding the situation our Nation has spiraled into during this current health crisis, which we fear is becoming more of a crisis of humanity than that of health itself.

The Latin proverb Homo homini lupus est, "A man is a wolf to another man," has tragically found its new form and expression in today’s crisis as: Homo homini virus est! 

Man has become a virus to his fellow man in this ever-changing world and dystopian looking society. This is not hyperbole; it is happening right now around us. Just look at our workplaces, formerly places of collegiality and friendship, now rapidly digressing into segregation, suspicion, bullying and ridicule of those who have not yet received the green tick! 

A vivid example of this was presented to me by one of our faithful in possession of a medical exemption, who has been labelled a health risk by their colleagues and has ever since been treated with contempt and discrimination, as if they were a leper, a walking virus.

This type of behaviour would previously be deemed unacceptable, however in the ‘new normal’ of today’s dystopian society it is subtly encouraged through media hysteria which is fueling mass psychosis, in which fear and anxiety, mistrust and segregation have become the new Gospel! 

The policy of “no jab, no job”, has had and continues to have an impact on the well-being and mental health of many who feel that they have been pushed into a corner and forced to take the vaccine without the right to informed consent and right of conscience. This should not be happening anywhere in the world, especially in a democracy such as Australia.  People have a legitimate right to be concerned and to ask questions regarding these particular vaccines, as they are still dubbed to be in their clinical trial phase, as recently stated by the Australian Minister for Health.  

These measures, or workplace policies, have created many social and existential anxieties that have impacted the community. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Mar Awa Royel elected head of Assyrian Church

(Assyrian Church) - To all the sons and daughters of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East and fellow brothers and sisters in faith,

The Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East would like to inform all the faithful of the Church of the results on the Electoral Council held from the 6th to the 8th of September 2021, at St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Erbil, to choose the 122nd Catholicos Patriarch.

The Prelates of the Church gathered from all dioceses across of the world, except for His Beatitude Mar Aprem Metropolitan India and the UAE, whose health condition prevented him from attending the Holy Synod meeting. We pray to the Almighty God to grant him good health, and we hope to see him with us in the coming councils. With supplication to the Almighty God, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in the spirit of love and brotherhood, the Synodical meetings took place to elect a new Patriarch for the Church, to succeed His Holiness Mar Gewargis III Sliwa, who submitted his resignation last year for health reasons. We pray to the Almighty Lord to grant His Holiness Mar Gewargis III health and full recovery, and we extend our thanks and respect to him for his holy and glorious service, on the See of Seleucia Ctesiphon, for the past six years.

With the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are pleased on this day, the 8th September 2021, to announce that His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California has been elected as the 122nd Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, succeeding His Holiness Mar Gewargis III Sliwa.

The Ecclesiology of the Ukrainian situation

"The Ecclesial Crisis in Ukraine and its Solution According to the Sacred Canons" by Metropolitan of Kykkos and Tylliria Nikiforos is an interesting read. But first, who is the author:

His Eminence Nikiforos, Metropolitan of Kykkos and Tillyria, is a senior and widely respected Bishop of the Church of Cyprus and abbot of the ancient and renowned Kykkos monastery in the Troodos mountains. In 2001, the Municipality of Athens bestowed on him its highest distinction, the Golden Key to the City, in recognition of his ecclesiastical, social and cultural work. He has also been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Department of Pastoral and Social Theology of the Aristotle University Of Thessaloniki and the Department of Social Theology of the University of Athens.

And what is in the book. It's really one hierarch's answers to the following questions:

  • Ukraine belongs to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of which patriarchate?
  • Who has the Right to Grant Autocephaly and under What Conditions?
  • Does the Ecumenical Patriarchate Have the Canonical Right to Receive Appeals?
  • Who is the Head of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church?

Finally, what do I think: Many of the criticisms of what his All-Holiness did were actually pointed criticisms of the man himself or of supposed byzantine machinations going back decades. Sometimes people even throw in Freemasons for good measure. Though I have always found a rain of arrows to be a poor offensive technique compared to more targeted assaults. The issue of Ukraine is one of ecclesiology and not of any caricature one chooses to put together. In fact, whether the move to make an autocephalous church was a "good" idea is secondary to whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate could have done what it did within the bounds of canonical order or how we will "fix" the current impasse.

You may well be of the opinion that very little of what the EP is doing is laudable. You may think that the EP is an important check on the state-backed Russian Church and an essential voice against so-called "fundamentalism." You might think "I''m never going to Ukraine. I plan to ignore this issue entirely." All of these are very common opinions. But this book only covers Ukraine as a springboard to dive into the deeper waters of those questions listed above. Regardless of whether you care about Ukraine or not, I hope you do care about these more universal topics. I would invite you to buy this book and also get some material from those in favor of what was done in Ukraine or over the expanded role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in general; there was much that came out of the Crete meeting that asserts related positions that are worth reviewing, for example. Read them both and come to your own conclusions. This is not a long read nor is it weighed down with terminology that sets up any sort of undue barriers. I hope that any article or book that follows to contradict it is as readable and I look forward to read it as well.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

An Orthodox + Catholic + Anglican agreed statement

A Joint Message for the Protection of Creation 

(EP) - For more than a year, we have all experienced the devastating effects of a global pandemic—all of us, whether poor or wealthy, weak or strong. Some were more protected or vulnerable than others, but the rapidly-spreading infection meant that we have depended on each other in our efforts to stay safe. We realised that, in facing this worldwide calamity, no one is safe until everyone is safe, that our actions really do affect one another, and that what we do today affects what happens tomorrow.

These are not new lessons, but we have had to face them anew. May we not waste this moment. We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. God mandates: ‘Choose life, so that you and your children might live’ (Dt 30:19). We must choose to live differently; we must choose life.

September is celebrated by many Christians as the Season of Creation, an opportunity to pray and care for God’s creation. As world leaders prepare to meet in November at Glasgow to deliberate on the future of our planet, we pray for them and consider what the choices we must all make. Accordingly, as leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.

The Importance of Sustainability

In our common Christian tradition, the Scriptures and the Saints provide illuminating perspectives for comprehending both the realities of the present and the promise of something larger than what we see in the moment. The concept of stewardship—of individual and collective responsibility for our God-given endowment—presents a vital starting-point for social, economic and environmental sustainability. In the New Testament, we read of the rich and foolish man who stores great wealth of grain while forgetting about his finite end (Lk 12.13–21). We learn of the prodigal son who takes his inheritance early, only to squander it and end up hungry (Lk 15.11–32). We are cautioned against adopting short term and seemingly inexpensive options of building on sand, instead of building on rock for our common home to withstand storms (Mt 7.24–27). These stories invite us to adopt a broader outlook and recognise our place in the extended story of humanity.

But we have taken the opposite direction. We have maximised our own interest at the expense of future generations. By concentrating on our wealth, we find that long-term assets, including the bounty of nature, are depleted for short-term advantage. Technology has unfolded new possibilities for progress but also for accumulating unrestrained wealth, and many of us behave in ways which demonstrate little concern for other people or the limits of the planet. Nature is resilient, yet delicate. We are already witnessing the consequences of our refusal to protect and preserve it (Gn 2.15). Now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to repent, to turn around in resolve, to head in the opposite direction. We must pursue generosity and fairness in the ways that we live, work and use money, instead of selfish gain.

The Impact on People Living with Poverty

The current climate crisis speaks volumes about who we are and how we view and treat God’s creation. We stand before a harsh justice: biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and climate change are the inevitable consequences of our actions, since we have greedily consumed more of the earth’s resources than the planet can endure. But we also face a profound injustice: the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them. We serve a God of justice, who delights in creation and creates every person in God’s image, but also hears the cry of people who are poor. Accordingly, there is an innate call within us to respond with anguish when we see such devastating injustice.

Today, we are paying the price. The extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months reveal afresh to us with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival. Widespread floods, fires and droughts threaten entire continents. Sea levels rise, forcing whole communities to relocate; cyclones devastate entire regions, ruining lives and livelihoods. Water has become scarce and food supplies insecure, causing conflict and displacement for millions of people. We have already seen this in places where people rely on small scale agricultural holdings. Today we see it in more industrialised countries where even sophisticated infrastructure cannot completely prevent extraordinary destruction.

Blessed repose, Fr. Anastasy Richter! Memory Eternal!

(GoFundMe) - On Sunday morning, September 5, our beloved Fr. Stacey Richter, priest at St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church in Chesterton, IN, collapsed in the altar. He was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead a short time later. He was in good health, vibrant, and energized to build and grow the church for the glory of God. His family - Matushka Trudi and daughters Anika, Sarah, and Michal were stunned by his completely unexpected death. They now need our love and support and, frankly, donations to provide a buffer during this tremendously difficult time. Thanks for whatever you can do.

More on this good priests life available here

The GoFundMe for his family is available here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Republic of Texas leads the way again

TEXAS (LifeSiteNews) – UPDATE, September 1, 2021: Texas became the first state in the nation Wednesday to effectively ban abortions on babies with beating hearts, as the United States Supreme Court declined to act on the abortion lobby’s last-minute petition to block the Texas Heartbeat Act from taking effect. 

While it remains to be seen what the Court will do over the long term, for now the law has already begun to save lives. NBC News reported Tuesday evening that “all 11 of the Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas” have “stopped scheduling visits after Sept. 1 for abortions past six weeks of pregnancy,” and that Whole Woman’s Health claims that its “four clinics in Texas will also comply with the law and prohibit abortion at seven weeks or less depending on the ultrasound results and if cardiac activity is detected.”

The development was met with joy across the pro-life community.

“It’s September 1st. Know what that means?? Babies in Texas with a detectable heartbeat can’t be killed by abortion!!!” wrote Abby Johnson, leader of And Then There Were None, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people leave the abortion industry. “We are hearing that abortion facilities are cancelling appointments as we speak. We believe that at least 150 babies will be saved every single day from this legislation!! As a prolife Texan, I couldn’t be more excited!”

“A special thanks to Texas Values who championed this bill from the start,” Johnson added. “It has been a joy to work with them on this piece of legislation!”

Complete article here.

AGES Initiative now a GOA initiative

August 31, 2021 (GOARCH) - The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has acquired certain assets of the respected AGES Initiatives organization, which has provided digital music for Byzantine Chant utilizing both Byzantine and Western notations and translations of liturgical texts for Orthodox churches around the world since 2012. In that time, AGES Initiatives has developed a full suite of digital texts designed to facilitate the study of Byzantine chant in a variety of languages for those at church, at home, or in the classroom. 

The acquisition of the Digital Chant Stand, the most popular resource of the AGES Initiatives, will allow the Archdiocese to continue its mission to enhance the worship experience of the Orthodox faithful by supporting the liturgical arts and making them widely available with meaningful translations and modern technology. The Rev. Hieromonk Seraphim Dedes will join the Archdiocesan Staff as Digital Liturgical Content Manager, Liturgical Translator and Typikaris; Mr. Richard Barrett will join the Archdiocese in the Office of Liturgical Texts and Translations.

“It is with great joy that we are able to announce the inclusion of this wonderful resource within the music ministry and sacred worship of our Archdiocese,” commented His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. “Our aim has always been to supplement the ongoing needs of our Church musicians by providing them with the necessary resources and bilingual materials to properly fulfill their duties within the divine services. Therefore, with this new acquisition, we remain committed to supporting the efforts currently taking place across the Archdiocese to meet the contemporary musical and liturgical needs of our parishes.”

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, through the continued work of Fr. Seraphim, will maintain the Digital Chant Stand as an official Archdiocesan resource, compiling service texts and musical scores for the entire liturgical year in both Greek and English, and distributing them electronically via the Digital Chant Stand website and the new GOA Digital Chant Stand mobile app. 

The acquisition of the Digital Chant Stand is the first step towards a broader vision of liturgical revitalization in the Holy Archdiocese. In June of 2020, the Holy Eparchial Synod approved the formation of the Liturgical Arts Commission, which is led by His Grace Bishop Joachim of Amissos. The Commission serves as both a resource and an arbiter of texts and translations of worship and Scripture, musical adaptations, iconography, and architecture.

Throughout the course of the coming year in which the Archdiocese will celebrate its Centennial, the Liturgical Arts Commission will oversee the gathering of all relevant resources, in the aforementioned categories, into a single digital portal, enhancing these resources for the parishes and the faithful. The Digital Chant Stand has been made possible by the generous support of Leadership 100.

To visit the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Digital Chant Stand, please visit

Friday, August 20, 2021

Seminary/Mission Training Center rising in Guatemala

(Word from Guatemala) - Excitement is growing in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, as the Orthodox Church carries out the vision of Archbishop Athenagoras of Mexico to take the Gospel message into all of Central America and beyond. The thousands of Mayans who have already made Orthodoxy their spiritual home are looking to the future, so that the Church’s many pastoral and evangelical challenges can be met by trained clergy and dedicated missionaries and catechists. To help meet this great need, construction of a seminary/mission training center, with the support of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center and generous donors, has begun in the mountain village of Talmiche, perched high above the fast-growing city of Huehuetenango. 

Episcopal Assembly meeting in October

NEW YORK (EA) – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America announced that its 10th Annual Assembly of Bishops Meeting will be held October 2-5, 2021 in Washington D.C. The Assembly will also be hosting a charity networking event to hear the voices of the youth and young adults while assembling hygiene kits for those in need. The event will kick-off at 5:00 PM EDT on Sunday, October 3, 2021 and will be open to the public.


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

1st post-baccalaureate cert. in Eastern Christian catechetics

(Catholic Philly) - Following Pope Francis’ recent institution of the ministry of catechist, a local Catholic college has launched a one-of-a-kind program to “teach the teachers” of the faith.

Starting this fall, Manor College will offer the world’s first post-baccalaureate certificate in Eastern Christian catechetics. For those unfamiliar with Greek Catholic speak, "Eastern Christian" and "Byzantine" and other phrases often mean something like "not Roman" or "Orthodox" theology as Greek Catholics understand it. It's an inexact, umbrella term.

The 180-hour, fully online curriculum is designed for catechists or lay persons wishing to delve more deeply into Eastern Christian tradition.

Courses, which begin Sept. 7, are structured in seven-week segments, with each costing $1,125. Tuition for the certificate totals $4,500, and discounts are available when five students from the same diocese or eparchy enroll.

The program is anchored in the “Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church: Christ – Our Pascha,” released in 2016 in response to St. John Paul II’s call for “new and local catechisms” of the 23 additional churches that along with the Latin church comprise the entire Catholic Church. All are in full communion with Rome and recognize the pope as their visible head.

These churches, which originated in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, derive in turn from five major ritual groups: Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Byzantine and Chaldean.

Monday, August 16, 2021

On the Burial of the Birthgiver of God

(Eparchy of Newton) - An increasing number of Byzantine churches are observing the Feast of the Dormition by conducting the Burial Service of the Theotokos. This observance comes to us from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the traditional site of her death and burial. 

On the morning of August 14 a procession sets out from the Patriarchate, bearing the icon of the Dormition. They leave the Old City and cross the Kedron Valley, arriving at Gethsemane and the tomb of the Theotokos. There the people, passing beneath the icon, enter the church where the burial shroud of the Theotokos has been displayed for veneration. On the closing of the feast, August 23, another procession returns the icon and the shroud to the Patriarchate.

The Tomb of the Holy Virgin

We do not know when the site of the Virgin’s tomb in Gethsemane, at the foot of Mount Olivet, became a place of Christian devotion. Some say that the first church there had been built by St Helena in the fourth century. There was clearly a church there in the fifth century. It is well documented that the first Patriarch of Jerusalem, St Juvenal, had taken the veil of the Theotokos from this shrine and sent it to the Empress Pulcheria who had asked him for the Virgin’s “relics” after the Council of Chalcedon (451). The patriarch replied, “Three days after her repose, the body of the Holy Virgin was raised up to heaven and the Tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane bears only her Veil.” The patriarch then sent this relic to Constantinople where it was enshrined in the church of the Theotokos at Blachernae, a district of Constantinople. The placement of the robe is celebrated on July 2nd.

A church was built at the site of the virgin’s tomb in 582 by the Byzantine Emperor Maurice. Thus church was destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614 but rebuilt soon afterward. During the Crusades it was destroyed again, leaving only the crypt – the actual place of the tomb – and the steps descending to it. Today the crypt-church is served jointly by the Greek Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarchate. The church also contains chapels used by the Coptic and Syriac Orthodox.

The Burial Service

The first record of a burial service performed outside Jerusalem dates from the fifteenth century. In Russia rectors of churches dedicated to the Mother of God were encouraged to erect a tomb or bier on the solea in which the icon of the feast could be enshrined. Matins could then be served before this tomb. 

It was also in the fifteenth century that the lamentations on the burial of Christ were composed in Jerusalem. They are sung today in the Orthros of Holy Saturday, one of the more popular moments in the rites of the Holy Week in the Greek and Middle Eastern Churches. Due to the interaction of Greeks and Italians in this period we often see a burial of Christ service, including the Greek melodies of the Lamentations, used by Italian and Spanish Roman Catholics as well. 

Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Online course on Confession coming in September

(St. Athanasius College) - TH 113: Confession, the Secret Heart of Orthodoxy
This class aims at understanding the mystery of confession as vital to our life in Christ and His body, the Church. It has a biblical and canonical position in the Church and is spiritual oxygen. Confessing our sins humbles us, calls down the grace of God on us and enables us to grow in the knowledge and love of God. It is a sacramental opportunity to remove the cause of what ails the human person and brings healing. It is a sure aid in the continual struggle to draw near to God in Christ Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, and is important not only to the individual’s spiritual growth but also to the spiritual life of the larger faith community.
  • September 7: Questions/Expectations about the mystery of confession
  • September 14: What is the biblical and theological teaching on the place and practice of confession
  • September 21: How to prepare for and do confession
  • September 28: Revealing sin breaks its power and penance/absolution
  • Teacher: Fr. James Coles, Pastor of St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Mesa, AZ

Dates: September 7, 14, 21, 28
Length of course: 4 weeks
Time: Tuesdays at 8:00 PM Eastern 
Class length: ~60 minutes per class
Jurisdiction: Open to all jurisdictions.
Cost: $50