Friday, December 19, 2014

Muslims in London spitting/cursing at Middle East Christians

This does not surprise me at all. When last I was in London many areas were enclaves that just happened to be in London.

(The Tablet) - The west London Orthodox cathedral visited by the Prince of Wales on Wednesday is habitually treated with profound disrespect by local Sunni Muslims, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop for the UK has told The Tablet.

Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod said: “They come, they spit, they swear. When they pass the church, they cover their eyes or turn their faces away. They don’t like to see the cross.”

Women in his congregation had been harassed in the street, he said. “Muslim men hear them speaking in Arabic and call out to them ‘Why aren’t you wearing the hijab? Why are you unbelievers? You’ll go to hell.’”

Making his second visit to the cathedral, a purpose-built, £1 million building in Acton, Prince Charles was due to speak with Iraqi faithful who had fled persecution by Islamic State extremists in their homeland. Last week he spoke with Chaldean Catholics at a nearby church.

The archbishop added that his community enjoyed “respect” from local Shiite Muslims. He had discussed his concerns with the local Shiite imam, who reported facing a similar problem from Sunni Muslim youth.

Khalid Rashad, 62, co-founder of a Salafi mosque in Acton, the An-Noor Cultural and Community Centre, condemned the abusive behaviour as “unIslamic”. He said: “These people are quite silly.” Protecting young people from extremism was “a huge, huge job,” he added.

The archbishop said there are 4,000 mostly Iraqi Syriac Orthodox in Britain, of whom 3,000 were applying for asylum. He took issue with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plea at General Synod last month that the UK should not open its doors to Middle Eastern Christians fleeing violence but should press for the creation of safe havens in the region. “Who will protect them?” asked the Iraqi-born prelate.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Orthodox kids be like...

Praying for the victims of the massacre of children in Pakistan

(Indian Orthodox Herald) - Dear Friends, Please join me in Prayer for the Victims (150 plus innocent children of all ages and teachers and those many wounded) of the Deadly Terrorist Attack at the Military School, Peshawar, Pakistan

Heavenly Father our Benevolent Lord, Creator and Sustainer of us all, hear us, Your children, at this time of intolerable pain and incredulity from the inhumane act. We come to You because You are our Savior and Benefactor Who grants peace and solace to those who suffer. It is only You that can heal our wounds and relieve our pain, especially of those crying families of those lost their loved ones in this inhumane act. We here by pray that you comfort the citizens of Pakistan at this time of terrible tragedy of trial and crisis. Shield them and us under the shadow of Your Cross. Grant to us, especially those families and friends affected by this inhumane act, Your Peace, Your Comfort, Your Touch, Your Love and assistance. Bestow solace and strength to the families of the innocent victims of the barbaric act of violence. Christ our eternal King and God, You have destroyed death and the devil by Your Cross and have restored man to life by Your Resurrection; give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your children who have fallen asleep in this tragedy, in Your Kingdom. Touch and heal those surviving families and friends. Work through the doctors, nurses, and emergency crews helping those many injured and their families. We too pray for the emergency responders, the heroes of today, the local and national law enforcement personnel, and the government officials responded and assisting the Victims. Help us and people throughout the world to comprehend that we are all your children. We are all brothers and sisters created in your image and likeness. Guide us to exist in harmony with one another, respectful of each other’s human rights and human dignity. We ask this of you, for You are a sympathetic and loving God and to You do we ascribe glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen

– Fr Alexander J Kurien of the Indian Orthodox Church is the deputy administrator at the Government wide Policy (OGP) of United States government. The writer was blessed to visit this school twice.

Belarusians want more autonomy from Moscow

Minsk, December 18 (Interfax) - Belarusian bishops have come up with an initiative to seek greater autonomy for the Belarusian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Belarusian dioceses asked the head of the Belarusian Church, Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslavye, patriarchal exarch to Belarus, to apply to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and the Holy Synod, for "the status of a self-governed church to be granted to the Belarusian Orthodox Church within the system of the Moscow Patriarchate on the model of Latvia, Moldova and Estonia," the dioceses said in a resolution passed at a meeting.

The resolution also suggested setting up new dioceses in the Minsk region.

The Belarusian Orthodox Church has the status of an exarchate of the Russian Church. The exarch and top Belarusian bishops are elected by the Moscow synod. It is also the Russian synod that is authorized to set up and abolishing exarchates approval by a bishops' council of the Russian Church is necessary for any such decision.

The Moscow Patriarchate-governed Orthodox churches of Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, Ukraine, China and Japan enjoy more autonomy than the Belarusian Church.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Christmas Heresy

St. Vlad's cements ties with Antiochian Archdiocese

Not so long ago the Antiochian Archdiocese (under Metropolitan Philip) pulled all their incoming students from OCA seminaries and put them in Holy Cross. With this election of Met. Joseph to be Vice Chairman at St. Vlad's we see another sign of the healing of this lamentable politically precipitated rift.

( - At its annual meeting on November 13–14, 2014, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, NY elected His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph as Vice Chairman of the Board, to be effective immediately. His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) serves as the Board Chairman.

The Seminary's Dean, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, and Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, recognized Metropolitan Joseph's new position by presenting him with an icon of St. Vladimir during their visit to the Archdiocese Chancery in Englewood, NJ, on December 5. During that same meeting, the St. Vladimir's leaders also presented Patriarch John X with a check for $8000.00 designated for Syrian's suffering Christians. The gift was a tithe from the seminary's December 2 "Giving Tuesday" fund raising campaign.

Since its founding in 1938, St. Vladimir's has enjoyed a fruitful and reciprocal relationship with the Antiochian Archdiocese. About 16% of all of the seminary's alumni have gone on to serve in the Archdiocese, and most of today's North American Antiochian bishops are seminary alumns.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trisagion Films - A priest's preparation for the Divine Liturgy

The work these people are doing at Trisagion Films is quite professional and beautiful. Many of the videos you don't skim over uninfluenced or unaffected but instead sink into like your falling through the clouds.

Let me say, though, that sometimes Greek words are used without any explanation. For someone new to Orthodoxy or from another ethnic background, this might cause some confusion. Maybe some explanatory text boxes would prove helpful? Still, this is important work being done.

Kairos - On entering the temple

The vesting of a priest

Monday, December 15, 2014

The second dream of Joseph the Betrothed

(Daniel Mitsui) - This is an ink drawing on an 8" × 10" piece of Bristol board. I drew it using fine-tipped pens and calligraphers’ inks applied with brushes.

The original is available for sale.

It depicts, in a Japanese style, the second dream of St. Joseph, in which an angel (traditionally identified as St. Gabriel) warns him to flee into Egypt with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ Child. In this work, I especially imitated the style of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, a late ukiyo-e master. I referenced his series of woodblock prints 100 Aspects of the Moon for many parts of my drawing.

St. Gabriel holds a fan containing a vision of the Flight into Egypt and the Miracle of the Cherry Tree. I attempted to convey a sense of otherworldly urgency by having the angel’s robes and hair blown by a strong wind that affects nothing else in the picture. St. Joseph sleeps in the stable of Bethlehem, next to the gifts of the Magi (in antique Chinese vessels). The text is from Emile Raguet’s Classical Japanese New Testament translation of 1910, and says Gabriel and Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him.
Add caption

Pat. John the X, Met. Joseph, and Met. Tikhon concelebrate

(OCA) - His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East at Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Potomac, MD on Sunday, December 14, 2014.

Patriarch John arrived in the US on December 4 to preside at the Enthronement of Metropolitan Joseph, which took place at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Brooklyn, NY two days later. Metropolitan Joseph was selected by the Holy Synod of Antioch on July 3, 2014 to succeed His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, who fell asleep in the Lord on March 19. He formerly served as the Bishop of the Archdiocese’s Diocese of Los Angeles and the West.

Also concelebrating were His Eminence, Metropolitan Sabba and His Eminence, Metropolitan Vasileios.

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon presented an icon of Saint Nicholas, patron of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Brooklyn, NY Cathedral, to Patriarch John. He also presented an icon of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, patron of the Chapel at the Orthodox Church in America’s Chancery, to Metropolitan Joseph.

“I would like to express my gratitude to His Beatitude, Patriarch John X, for his invitation to concelebrate with him and with my newly-enthroned brother in Christ, Metropolitan Joseph, as well as their Eminences, Metropolitan Sabba and Metropolitan Vasileios,” Metropolitan Tikhon said in his greeting. “The Church in North America is well aware of the trials and tribulations that have afflicted the faithful of Syria and the Middle East and it is good, not only when brothers dwell together in unity, but when they pray together and bear one another’s burdens. The faithful of the Orthodox Church in America have been praying for Your Beatitude, for your brother, Metropolitan Paul, and Mar Gregorios Youhanna, who are held in captivity, and for all peoples within the territory of the ancient and venerable Patriarchate of Antioch.

“As an expression of the love and the prayers of the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, I would like to present Your Beatitude with this icon of Saint Nicholas, who is truly one of the universal saints of our Orthodox Church,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued. “May it be a reminder to you of our support for you and your flock and an aid for you in these difficult times.

“I also have great joy today in offering my congratulations to His Eminence, Sayedna Joseph, whom I have known and worked with for many years now as a brother in Christ and fellow-laborer in His vineyard,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded. “I know that his ministry as First Hierarch for the Antiochian Archdiocese will be blessed by our Lord and I look forward to continuing our common work together. Your Eminence, I would like to present you with this icon of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, the patron of my chapel at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, and ask that you remember me and our Church in your prayers and also accept it as a standing invitation to visit us at the Chancery.”

On Saturday evening, Metropolitan Tikhon attended a festive banquet in Patriarch John’s honor held at the parish.

Earlier on Saturday, Metropolitan Tikhon responded personally to the invitation to meet with the Armenian Ambassador to the US, His Excellency, Tigran Sargsyan. Ambassador Sargsyan, who prior to his appointment to his current position three months ago had served as Prime Minister of Armenia for six years, spoke about the situation of the Armenian Apostolic Church.. He noted that some 85 to 90 percent of the nation’s population identifies with the Church. He also spoke of the forthcoming celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, slated to be held in Etchmiadzin, in April 2015.

A photo gallery can be viewed on the OCA web site and Facebook page.

Met. Kallistos of Diokleia receives honorary doctorate

( - On 13 December 2014, a ceremony of awarding the Doctor Honoris Causa diploma to Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia was held at the Main Hall of Ss Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute for Post-Graduate Studies.

The decision to confer the degree on Metropolitan Kallistos was made by the Academic Council of the Theological Institute and was approved by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

Among those who attended the ceremony were Bishop Irinej of Bačka (Serbian Orthodox Church); Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio to Russia; Chaplain Clive Fairclough, rector of the Anglican parish in Moscow; Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, a Patriarchal vicar, chairman of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry; Bishop Tikhon of Podolsk, a Patriarchal vicar; hieromonk Ioann (Kopeykin), pro-rector of Ss Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute for Post-Graduate Studies; archpriest Vladimir Vorobyov, rector of St Tikhon’s Orthodox University; participants in the 2nd International Theological Patristic Conference ‘St. Simeon the New Theologian and His Spiritual Heritage’; members of the Academic Council of Ss Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute; faculty and students of the Theological Institute; and staff members of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, rector of Ss Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute for Post-Graduate Studies, greeted all those present, saying in particular:

“It is a great joy and privilege for us that, with the blessing of Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, doctor of theology honoris causa degree is awarded to one of the most notable Orthodox hierarchs of our times, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.

“At the very onset of his academic work, the Metropolitan chose to focus on patristic studies, and he has been faithful to this filed for many decades of his academic endeavours… Quite a few hundreds of academic papers that influenced the current development of the Orthodox theology were prepared and defended under his guidance.

“During his years at Oxford, Metropolitan Kallistos equipped many scholars of Orthodox theology and patristic heritage, and his graduates represent Orthodox Church around the globe, in the East, as well as in the West, from New York to Moscow. Among his disciples are hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches, renowned theologians working in the fields of patristic studies and church histories, and members of other Christian denominations.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

One take on ecumenical relations

Friday, December 12, 2014

The brick of St. Spyridon

During the Maximilian persecutions (295 AD) he was arrested and exiled. In 325 AD, St. Spyridon was present at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea where he astonished many with his simple explanations of the Orthodox Faith. He explained the unity and diversity of the Trinity by holding up a brick, then commonly thought to be a combination of the elements fire, earth and water; as he spoke, fire blazed from the top of the brick while water gushed out underneath.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OCA's Diocese of the South to nominate bishop

(OCA-DOS) - Dear Reverend Clergy, Pious Monastics, and Esteemed Laity of the Diocese of the South, Brothers and sisters in Christ,

The blessing of the Lord!

In accordance with my prerogatives as locum tenens, and in keeping with the diocesan bylaws, I am pleased formally to call a Special Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the South for the nomination of a new diocesan bishop to take place at 1:00 pm on Monday, February 16, 2015, in the context of the annual Pastoral Conference at the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Miami Lakes, Florida. All the information concerning the assembly and the pastoral conference is available on the diocesan website. I encourage all parishes, monasteries, and missions of the Diocese of the South to participate by sending their allowed number of clergy and lay delegates.

When the possibility of this assembly was discussed in the Diocesan Council meeting in Dallas in July earlier this year, this was deemed the most appropriate timing and place for this momentous occasion. Along with St Seraphim’s Orthodox Cathedral, Christ the Saviour has been one of the historical centers of the diocese, with Archbishop Dmitri spending half the year in residence in Miami in the early years of the Diocese of the South and much of the nascent missionary work being carried out by Fr George Gladky, longtime Rector of Christ the Saviour and the first chancellor of the diocese. Also, with 2015 being a year in which two important activities will take place in Dallas --- specifically the consecration and/or installation of the new bishop and the transfer of the Archbishop Dmitri’s remains to the memorial chapel at St Seraphim’s --- and with the All-American Council being held in Atlanta, Georgia in July during the usual time of our regular diocesan assembly, Christ the Saviour was the unanimous choice of the Diocesan Council for this special assembly (and, in conjunction with the pastoral conference).

The nomination will take place in accordance with Article I, Section 5 of the Diocese of the South’s Bylaws. At its November meeting, the Diocesan Council, with my blessing, recommended that the names of all the candidates vetted by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America be given to the Special Diocesan Assembly for possible nomination.

I look forward to being with all of you in February in Miami Lakes. I also wish you every joy of the coming feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Asking the Lord to give you strength, I remain,

With love in Christ,

Archbishop of Boston, New England and the Albanian Archdiocese
Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South

Met. John of Pergamon on Catholic-Orthodox relations

(Vatican Insider) - Pope Francis has publicly referred to him as the greatest Christian theologian around. But Joseph Ratzinger also held him in high regard when he was Pope. The Metropolitan of Pergamon, Ioannis Zizioulas, previously a member of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, attended the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of St. Andrews alongside Pope Francis and the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, on Sunday 30 November. Under the vaults of the Patriarchal Church of St. George in the Phanar on the Golden Horn, Metropolitan Ioannis – who co-chairs the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church – was also struck by the words the Bishop of Rome pronounced at the time. Particularly when the Pope said that in the context of the efforts being made to achieve full unity between Catholic and Orthodox Christians, the Catholic Church "does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith”.

Those were powerful words the Pope pronounced at the Phanar Your Eminence.
Coming from a Pope, those words are very powerful indeed and represent a big step forward, which the Orthodox will appreciate. Because for many centuries, the Orthodox believed that the Pope wanted to subjugate them. And now we see this is not in any way true. The emphasis he placed on professing and sharing the same faith is also important. Professing the same faith is the only basis of our unity. The question is recognising what that same faith is; we need to profess this faith together in order for us to be in full communion.

Which criterion should be followed?
For us members of the orthodox Church, the common faith that makes full communion possible is the one professed in the 7 Ecumenical Councils of the first millennium. We need to clarify, from a Catholic point of view, whether a common faith that allows for sacramental communion should also include certain doctrines and dogmatic definitions which were established unilaterally by the Catholic Church. This point needs to be clarified in order to determine what concrete consequences may derive from the Pope’s words at the Phanar.

G. R. Derzhavin: God

O Thou, who's infinite in space,
Alive in ever-moving matter,
Eternal in the flow of time,
God faceless, with a trinity of faces!
Soul unified and omnipresent,
Who needs no place or reason,
Whom none can ever comprehend,
Whose being permeates all things,
Encompassing, creating, guarding,
Thou, called by us God.

Although a great mind might contrive
To fix the ocean's depths,
To count the sands, the rays of stars,
Thou can't be summed or fixed!
Enlightened souls who have emerged
From your creative light
Cannot begin to grasp your ways:
Our thought alone aspires to thee,
But in your magnitude is lost,
A moment in eternity.

From depths eternal thou invoked
Primordial substances of chaos
Within thine very self thou birthed
Eternity before all time.
And before time from thine self alone
Thou shinest forth within thyself.
All light originates in thee.
Creating all with but a single word
And reaching forth in new creation,
Thou wast, thou art, and thou will ever be!

Thou incarnate the chain of life,
Thou nourish and sustain it.
Thou joinest starts with ends.
Thou bringest life to all through death.
New suns are born from thee
In flowing streams of sparks.
As on a clear and freezing day,
A hoarfrost dusting shines,
And floats, and churns and sparkles,
As do the stars beneath thy vault.

A multitude of shining spheres
Floats off into infinity.
They all fulfill thy laws,
And cast their vivifying rays.
But all these brilliant lanterns-
This mass of glowing crystal-
This roiling crowd of golden waves-
These burning elements-
Or all these gleaming worlds as one-
Compare to thee like night to day.

Compared to thee the earthly realm
Is like a droplet in the sea.
What is this universe I see?
And what am I, compared to thee?
If, in this airy sea, I wish
To multiply a million worlds
By other worlds a hundred times-
Then venture to compare the sum to thee,
All this would be a tiny speck;
So I, compared to thee, am naught.

I'm Naught! But thou shinest through me
With all the splendor of your virtue;
Thou showest yourself through me
Like sun inside a tiny water drop.
I'm Naught! But still I can feel life,
Like something hungering I fly,
I'm always soaring high above.
To be with you is my soul's wish,
It contemplates, reflects and thinks:
If I exist-thou art as well.

Thou art! As nature's order shows,
My heart affirms the same to me,
My reason's sure of it:
Tho art-And I'm no longer naught!
A fraction of the universe's whole,
It seems that I repose in nature's
Critical center where you started
With the creation of corporeal beasts,
And ended with the heav'nly spirits:
Through me, you fused the chain of life.

I am the link of all existing worlds,
I am the outer brink of matter,
I am the focal point of living things,
I am the starting place of the divine;
Although my flesh rots into ash,
My mind commands the thunderbolts,
I'm king-I'm slave - I'm worm-I'm God!
But though I am miraculous,
Whence did I come?-that no one knows.
I could not by myself have risen.

Creator, I am your invention!
I am a creature of your wisdom.
O, source of life, bestower of blessings,
My soul and king!
According to your iron laws
My self eternal must needs pass
Across the borne of death;
My spirit's clothed in mortal garb
And I return through death alone,-
To your eternity - O, father!-

Thou art inscrutable, transcendent!
I understand that all my soul's
Imaginings are powerless
Your shadow to describe;
But when thou must be glorified
To pay such tribute we frail men
One course alone can follow.
We venture upwards to thy realm,
To lose ourselves in thy vast otherness
And shed our tears of gratitude.

- Gavrila Derzhavin