Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blessed repose, Fr. Matthew Baker! Memory Eternal!

From the blog Orthodox and Heterodoxy, the sad news that a family friend and good & faithful servant in the Lord's service has passed as the result of an automative incident.

We just learned the very sad and shocking news that Fr. Matthew Baker, a promising, brilliant scholar and priest who has contributed a number of articles to this site and is the close friend of a number of us, passed away in a tragic car accident this evening while traveling home from his parish assignment in Connecticut.
Complete post here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Orthodox seminary in Jerusalem torched and defaced

Jerusalem (CNN) - A day after flames scorched a West Bank mosque, a Jerusalem seminary belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church was torched and defaced Thursday -- an act police suspect is the work of radical right-wing Israelis.

Both buildings were defaced with anti-Arab and anti-Christian slurs, including graffiti maligning Jesus on the seminary, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri. And in each case, there was writing in Hebrew referring to the "redemption of Zion" and "revenge."

The acts drew strong condemnation.

"There is no room for such deplorable activity in Jerusalem," Mayor Nir Barkat said Thursday. "We must eradicate this behavior and bring those responsible to justice."

Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi called the acts "hate crimes (that) constitute a flagrant attack on all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian."

"These are not isolated incidents, but rather they fit a longstanding pattern of deliberate provocation, extremism and violence, and are a vicious assault on all Palestinians and their holy sites," Ashrawi said. "The recent events indicate that a holy war is already being waged against the Palestinian Muslim and Christian population."

The incident at the mosque may be a "price tag" attack -- a term used by radical Israeli settlers to denote reprisal attacks against Palestinians in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts -- according to officials. In fact, video from the West Bank shows two letters that translate to PT, for "price tag."

And authorities suspect a Jewish nationalist motive for what happened at the Greek Orthodox seminary.

Samri, the Israeli police spokeswoman, said that firefighters managed to douse the fire in that building's restroom and showers before anyone was injured.

But not much more is known than that.

Shortly after the incident, a Jerusalem district court issued a gag order that covered all details of the investigation and anything that identifies suspects.

Presanctified Liturgy at St. Catherine Church in Moscow

Does ecumenism have a future? - Russian Church responds

I am reposting this because Ancient Faith Radio has released the audio of this talk.

( - Lecture by the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Universities of Winchester (5 February 2015) and Cambridge (6 February 2015).

Dear members of the faculty, students and guests of the university!

I have been asked to give a lecture on the topic of interaction between Christians today. Does ecumenism have a future? This question has become ever more relevant and demands an all-round analysis.

When Jesus Christ founded his Church on earth, it was a single community of disciples bound together by faith in him as God and Saviour. At the Last Supper Jesus prayed to his Father that his disciples may preserve unity in the fashion of the unity that exists between the Father and the Son: ‘That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me’ (Jn. 17: 21). He then gave to his disciples his body and blood in the form of bread and wine and commanded them: ‘Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22: 1). After his death and resurrection it was the Eucharist – the re-enactment of the Last Supper with the prayer that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ – that became the most important unifying element of the Christian community.

From the time the first generation of Christians had appeared the community had begun to grow rapidly. The apostles’ preaching to the Jews was no less successful than that of Christ’s. Yet it was among the pagans that Christianity began to gain great popularity very quickly. St. Paul played an essential role in the expansion of the Church’s mission. It was he who, with characteristic passion and conviction, defended the idea of the universal nature of the Christian mission. It was he who also insisted that in the Church there is ‘neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all’ (Col. 3: 11). It is to St. Paul that we first find the comparison of the Church to a body: ‘So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another’ (Rom. 12: 5). The head of this universal body is Christ himself (Eph. 5: 23).

In being aware of herself as a single organism, the Church, from the very first days of her existence, knew the risks linked with the preservation of unity under earthly conditions. The Church was created as a projection of the eternal on the temporal, as ‘the kingdom of God coming with power’ (Mk. 9: 1). So the Church was perceived not simply as an association of people, as an earthly community like other communities and corporations. The Church was understood by Christians as that spiritual expanse in which they encounter God, in which they are united with God through the indissoluble bonds of love, at the same time being united with each other by the same bonds. The unity of Christians has a supernatural aspect, and therefore also requires special, supernatural endeavours for its preservation.

From the earliest centuries people and communities fell away from the Church through disagreement with certain aspects of her teaching. These people were declared by the Church to be heretics and she rejected them. Sometimes they would found their own parallel churches and communities. However, in the majority of cases heresy, as a branch cut off from the trunk, died fairly quickly and the community of followers of a particular false teacher would fall apart and disappear.

Already in the early Church heresies would be classified according to how dangerous or not they were for the Church. Moreover, the word ‘schism’ entered the ecclesiastical lexicon, meaning the separation of a particular group of people from the fullness of the Church. Schisms could arise for various reasons – from personal arguments between hierarchs, from a particular local church community claiming the right to land of another community, and from arguments of a terminological nature on particular aspects of church doctrine. And while schisms arising on the grounds of heresy were treated severely and without compromise, those arising for other reasons would often be healed thanks to the diplomatic efforts of church hierarchs, and in some instances with the help of the secular authorities. This is a nuance often lost in ecumenical discussions today. St. Basil is often (as he is referenced below) an adept guide for us on how to deal with schism and the travails of disunity. 

Church history knows of several great schisms that have divided the body of world Christianity into several ‘families of Churches’.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Please pray for Fr. Thomas Hopko

As has been reported in many place, Fr. Tom's health has not been good of late. Please pray for him. It is telling that even in his diminished state that he is still putting out important commentary on the topics of the day.

I remember when the Latin Church was debating the new translations for the mass in English. In defense of "difficult" words some Roman bishops looked East and said (in summary), "Look. The Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox use these words without trouble. Let's not be afraid of words like 'ineffable' shall we?"

Now again we have the Catholic Church looking to the orient for guidance on another topic. This time it's what to do with communing the divorced. Fr. Thomas' comments on the topic are thought provoking: Orthodox understanding of marriage and of the marriage ceremony is not apples to apples with Catholic understanding. As a result you can't import Orthodox canons on communing the divorced without also carefully importing the Orthodox understanding of marriage.

(AFR) - In light of the debate in the Roman Catholic Church about divorce and re-marriage, Fr. Tom offers the Orthodox view of this topic as well as an explanation of the fundamental difference in how marriage is viewed in Orthodoxy. We are so happy to have Fr.Tom back recording podcasts. Please continue to pray for him.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Russell Brand talks about the dangers of porn

Works of New Martyr Daniel Sysoyev available in English

My heart leaps with joy. The blog Facing Islam recently posted an update from Father Daniel's Mission Shop that the English text are available here.

Catholic Church gets Armenian "Doctor"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has declared Armenian poet and monk, Saint Gregory of Narek, a Doctor of the Universal Church. Meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints on Saturday ahead of his departure for Aricca on Lenten retreat, the Pope confirmed the proposal put forward by the Plenary Session of the Congregation to confer the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on the 10th century saint.

St. Gregory of Narek is widely revered as one of the greatest figures of medieval Armenian religious thought and literature. Born in the city of Narek in about 950 A.D., St. Gregory came from a line of scholars and churchmen.

St. Gregory received his education under the guidance of his father, Bishop Khosrov, author of the earliest commentary on the Divine Liturgy, and from Anania Vartabed, abbotof Narek Monastery. He and his two brothers entered monastic life at an early age, and St. Gregory soon began to excel in music, astronomy, geometry, mathematics, literature, and theology.

He became a priest at the age of 25 and dedicated himself to God. He lived most of his life in the monastery of Narek, where he taught at the monastic school. St. Gregory began his writings with a commentary on the “Song of Songs,” which was commissioned by an Armenian prince. Despite his reservations that he was too young for the task, the commentary became famous for its clarity of thought and language and its excellence of theological presentation.

He also wrote a number of famous letters, sharagans, treasures, odes, melodies, and discourses. Many of his prayers are included in the Divine Liturgy celebrated each Sunday in Armenian Churches around the world.

St. Gregory’s masterpiece is considered to be his Book of Lamentations. Also known as Narek, it is comprised of 95 prayers, each of which is titled “Conversation with God from the depth of the heart.” A central theme is man’s separation from God, and his quest to reunite with Him. St. Gregory described the work this way: “Its letters like my body, its message like my soul.” He called his book an “encyclopedia of prayer for all nations.” It was his hope that it would serve as a guide to prayer for people all over the world. After the advent of movable type, the book was published in Marseille in 1673, and has been translated into at least 30 languages.

St. Gregory of Narek is remembered by the Armenian Church in October of each year.

The artistry of Egor Zaitsev Nikolaevich

Good reminder for Lent

“Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others… but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God “sending us” to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud. ”

– C.S. Lewis, from his book The Great Divorce

Monday, February 23, 2015

American Ukrainian group (UOC-USA) on trip to Ukraine

(UOC-USA) - The current visit of our UOC of USA delegation to Ukraine as part of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops beyond the Borders of Ukraine (PCB) to the various ecclesiastical jurisdictions in Ukraine was an extremely busy one with very important discussions and prayerful homage to important Ukrainian memorials.

The first round of discussions took place in our hotel conference room with His Eminence Archbishop Ihor (Isichenko) head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Diocese of Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine. The Archbishop made the long journey to Kyiv to share the history and current status of his diocese with our American and Canadian Bishops: His Eminence Metropolitan Yurij, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and Their Graces Bishops Ilarion, Andrij and Daniel. Life in the Diocese is difficult for the clergy and faithful in the Kharkiv Region. In spite of the difficulties, the Church is still active and preaching Christ’s salvation to all.

In responding to questions from the members of the PCB and the Canadian and USA delegations, Archbishop Ihor expressed his firm conviction that unity will, indeed, come to the Church in Ukraine, although the path to that unity will be long and difficult and that it will take the cooperation of responsible and committed individuals from all of the present separate churches to build a firm foundation for strong and lasting unity. He is willing to be part of that effort, which will change the face of the Ukrainian nation.

Living in the Eastern regions of Ukraine with the separatist attacks and threats to local populations has caused much stress and apprehension amongst the population of those regions. It is not so profound as to disrupt normal life in the area, but the perceived threat seldom disappears from the conscientious thoughts of all the citizens.
Complete article here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Patriarch John X of Antioch with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow

The Orthodox Lenten Study now available

From the blog Adventures of an Orthodox Mom...
The Orthodox Lenten Study is now available for purchase! With the Advent Study, I had to manually email the file to everyone who purchased one which was really difficult, so hopefully this time the link will work and you will receive it when you complete your checkout.

It is a 128 page Study that includes a weekly themed devotional reading, a G.R.O.W. page–which is a daily Scripture verse and prompts for reflection, a couple Lenten recipes, a basic run down of Holy Week and also some basic guidelines for Bright Week. I’m really excited about the writings I was able to include this time around–they’re some of my favorites–and I hope you benefit from them.

It is very simple to use this study. Simply print it out and place the pages in a binder or folder. You can take it with you wherever you go! Grab your Bible and do your daily reading and responding with your morning coffee, in car line or while waiting in the doctor’s office, or at night after everyone else is fast asleep. It’s completely up to you!

I’ve made it as affordable as possible at only $6.00. The only thing I ask is that you please only print enough copies for those in your household or if you know someone who truly cannot afford to purchase one of their own. Please do not send copies of the file to those who have not purchased their own or reproduce it in any way without my written permission.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The New Martyrs of Libya added to the Coptic Synaxarium

(LA Copts) - His Holiness Pope Tawadros I announced the inclusion of the 21 Coptic New Martyrs of Libya in the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church today. Every year, they will be commemorated on 8 Amshir in the Coptic calendar, which corresponds to 15 February in the Gregorian calendar, the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple.

Axios, Axios, Axios!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pub Church