Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Antiochian Archdiocese: Litany for suffering Christians

All good things here. Praying for Christians in need of ardent prayers, organized process of making these changes, and real deference given to local bishops.

To our Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Board of Trustees, Parish Councils, and Faithful of this Archdiocese:

Greetings and Blessings as we approach the Holy Fasting Season in preparation for the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos!

This season brings with it a very special spiritual experience in light of the fact that the Most Holy Theotokos holds a place of honor with us which is second only to her son, our Lord Jesus Christ. At all celebrations of the Paraklesis to the Most Holy Theotokos, the following must be included:

At the Ektenias, within the petition that begins “Again we pray for mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, visitation, pardon and remission of sins of the servants of God…” you should add “for the suffering Christians of Syria, Palestine, Iraq, all of the Middle East (any other country that may be locally appropriate)”.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THIS MOST IMPORTANT DIRECTIVE – From now on, all requests of any type which require any action from a hierarch must first be sent to the Local Bishop for consideration. Your Local Bishop will contact the Metropolitan, as needed, and discuss the matter, and reach a decision. When a decision is reached, either your Local Bishop or the Metropolitan will give you an answer, as appropriate. The Metropolitan will not consider any request which has not first been submitted to your Local Bishop. It is expected that this directive will be strictly followed.

May God Bless you all and keep you under His care.

Yours in Christ,

Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pandora's box - marriage as contract law

From the Daily Signal "How Ryan T. Anderson Responded to a Gay Man Who Wants to Redefine Marriage." More from this conference here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Changes in Moscow Patriarchal Parishes in US

(MOSPAT-USA) - On Friday, July 25, 2014, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, under the chairmanship of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia concluded in Moscow.

According to Journal № 66 of the Summer Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops:

Journal № 66

-His Eminence Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA is appointed the Ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Elista and Kalmykia (Russia).

-The Holy Synod expresses their gratitude to Archbishop Justinian for his Archpastoral Duties

-Hieromonk John (Roschin), cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City is appointed as the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, with the title of "Naro-Fominsk"

-The location and time of Hieromonk John's elevation to the Episcopacy, following his elevation to the rank of Archimandrite is at the discretion of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill

Detailed Information will be posted on this website once it is recieved.

Orthodoxy remembers World War I

(spc.rs) - Orthodoxy in Melbourne under the aegis of the Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in Oceania commemorated the beginning of the First World War in the "Axion Estin" ("It is Truly Meet") Greek Orthodox Monastery in Melbourne on Saturday, 19 July 2014 with the celebration of a Pan-Orthodox Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and Memorial Service.

St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church in Santa Rosa, CA


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Important monastic conference held at OCA chancery

(OCA) - On Monday, July 21, 2014, abbots and abbesses or their representatives from several of the Orthodox Church in America’s monasteries were welcomed to the Chancery in Syosset, NY by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon at the opening session of a conference for monastics. The day ended with the celebration of Small Compline in the Chancery’s Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel.

After the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Tuesday morning, the participants gathered for a day-long session. Among the topics discussed were major challenges facing the OCA’s monastic communities, selection of leaders, the special concerns of women’s and men’s monasteries, application and formation processes, the role of psychological testing, spiritual guidance and mentorship, finances, and the needs and demands of the surrounding community [dioceses, parishes and society in general]. Also to be considered during the gathering are ways the Orthodox Church in America can offer the monasteries its assistance and help.

The conference concludes on Wednesday, July 23.

Among those attending are Igumen Gabriel, Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA; Mother Gabriella, Dormition Monastery, Rives Junction, MI; Mother Christophora, Transfiguration Monastery, Ellwood City, PA; Brother Christopher and Sister Celia, Monks and Nuns of New Skete, Cambridge, NY; Mother Raphaela, Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego, NY; Hieromonk Innocent, Monastery of Saint John of Shanghai, Manton, CA; Mother Sergia, Presentation of the Virgin Monastery, Marshfiled, MO; and Igumen Gerasim, Hermitage of Prophet Elias, Dickie Bush, AB, Canada.

Orthodox Health Center Opens in Pittsburgh

(GOARCH) - Despite the best efforts of many policy experts and lawmakers to bring universal healthcare coverage to all Americans, 16% of the population – 45 million people – still do not have health insurance, a number that is higher in 2014 than it was in 2008, according to a recent Gallup poll. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has exacerbated many of the reasons that people do not have coverage and 2% of the American workforce, more than 3 million people, have lost their employer-sponsored coverage due to loopholes and other consequences of the Act, making the net benefit of the Act debatable.

But this blog post is not written to discuss why the ACA is, or is not, succeeding. Rather, it is written to show how Orthodox Christians are responding to a problem in the United States that has been pervasive for decades and will continue with no clear end in sight.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, FOCUS North America recently opened the first comprehensive Orthodox health care facility in America. The FOCUS Pittsburgh Free Health Center targets uninsured individuals and provides them with access to quality physical and mental health care as well as pharmaceutical and laboratory services. In addition, The FOCUS health center is a place where skilled Orthodox medical practitioners can put their talents to good use for the glory of God and in service to those in need right here in America.

FOCUS North America is an Orthodox Christian faith-based nonprofit organization that provides sustainable jobs and permanent housing solutions for the homeless and working poor families across America. FOCUS has operations and activities in 50 cities in the US and Canada.

Why did FOCUS extend its services into healthcare? Because it’s not much good to give someone a job or a place to live if they are not healthy enough to maintain them. It is very difficult to sustainably transition a person or a family from homelessness, poverty and dependency to a life of self-sufficiency without providing for their health. Offering free comprehensive healthcare and health-related services is a natural fit with FOCUS’ work to transform the lives of the homeless and working poor in America...
Complete article here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Diocese of the South takes important step towards a bishop

(OCA-DOS) - Over 100 Clergy and Lay Delegates and Observers gathered in St Seraphim of Sarov Cathedral for the First Plenary Session on the first full day of the 2014 Diocese of the South Assembly. The day began at 8:00am with Matins served by Priest John Mikita, then continued with a relaxed breakfast in the Cathedral's parish hall. At 10:00am, His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon addressed the Clergy Delegates on matters of mutual interest, while Archpriest Eric G Tosi, Secretary of the OCA, gave a talk on evangelism - the lifeblood of the Diocese of the South - to the Lay Delegates and Observers. At noon, Vladyka Nikon treated the Matushki to an Italian meal, while the clergy met with their respective Deaneries for lunch at area restaurants.

After lunch, the business began in earnest with the First Plenary Session beginning at 2:00pm with a Molieben to St Seraphim, then continued with the Report of our Locum Tenens, with the long-awaited news that a Special Episcopal Nomination Assembly will be called in conjunction with 2015 Pastoral Conference in February 2015. After the opening remarks from His Eminence, the minutes of the 2013 Diocesan Assembly were approved unanimously with two friendly amendments. Archpriest Marcus C Burch, Chancellor of the Diocese of the South, presented his report, and was followed by Mr Milos Konjevich, Treasurer of the Diocese of the South. By all accounts, the financial status of the Diocese was inspiring, and the Assembly unanimously passed a bold budget for 2015 that will continue to strengthen our ability to grow the Diocese through our missionary outreach, particularly on the local level. After Mr Rudy Ruebelhuber presented the Audit Committee Report, the Assembly adjourned until tomorrow morning.

At 5:00pm, Priest Mark Christian celebrated Vespers, which was followed by a delicious barbeque meal hosted by the parish. Following this time of food and fellowship, Dr Mark Cherry, Professor of Philosophy at St Edward's University in Austin, TX, presented an engaging talk, "Sustaining the Christian Family in a Post-Christian World: The Challenges and Temptations of Secular Morality." After a long question and answer session, everyone retired to their hotels for the evening.

The Church in the Philippines

(Orthodox Mission) - The Philippines are a group of coral-embroidered islands, which the Pacific Ocean stole from the land of South Asia and made its own. They form a sea carved archipelago of more than 7,000 islands with a population of 95 million people. Their people are characterized by politeness in speech and kindness. Their piety stems from as pure as crystal soul and the religious feeling permeates throughout their society.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Petition filed over jurisdictional violation of Catholicos

(Orthodox Herald) - A petition has been filed before the Ernakulam Munsiff Court by Jacobite Almaya Forum seeking to declare that the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church and Catholicos Baselios Thomas I have no right or authority to establish any diocese outside India, the territorial jurisdiction of the Church, and to depute priests or bishops for foreign dioceses.

The petition was filed by Mathachan Thukalan of Mulanthuruthy and Paul Varghese, president and secretary of the forum respectively.

It is alleged that Catholicos had gone to the extent of functioning as the Catholicos of the Universe, though his authority is limited to India. “The members of the Church in India and followers are part of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church under the supremacy and control of Patriarch of Antioch. The Catholicos is the regional head in India. He has no authority to function in any foreign country,” the petitioner said.

It is submitted that the exercise of authority by the Catholicos outside the territorial jurisdiction of India adversely affected the cordial relationship among the members of the church in foreign countries.”

The petitioners further pointed out that as per the constitution of the Church, the regional head of Jacobite Syrian Church should be the president of regional synod and his jurisdiction should be throughout India.

“But the Catholicos created many dioceses in foreign countries namely Dubai, Bahrain, Sharjah, Ireland, Europe, the United States and Australia and deputed metropolitan,” the petitioners said.

“All the churches and congregations of Jacobite Christians established outside India automatically come under the Patriarch of Antioch.

Any act on the part of the regional head related to declaring of dioceses in foreign countries and controlling them are nothing but challenging the authority of the Patriarch,” the petition said.

Moscow Patriarchate to murders: fess up

Moscow, July 22 (Interfax) - The Moscow Patriarchate has called on those who are involved in the crash of the Malaysian plane in Ukraine to tell the truth about the crash.

"It would be so right if the commanders of all missile systems that were in the crash area on July 17 told the whole truth about what they did and saw, if they said it to everyone, to God and people! The names of these people should, of course, be known to the leaders of both conflict sides," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.

The same applies to the crew of the plane which is said to have flown near the crashed plane, he said.

"If these people did nothing wrong, they should have nothing to hide. If a deadly sin, the killing of hundreds of innocent people, has occurred, it's better to speak about it than carry the heavy burden of this guilt in the soul," the priest said.

He said he believes the leading Western media are doing the right thing to speak about the crash victims "practically every hour."

"In the meantime, we should not forget about other victims, specifically, the people killed in Odessa on May 2, whom Western television channels only mentioned a couple of times. People can't be divided into 'right' and 'wrong,' 'useful' and 'useless' following the principle of national identify and political gain," Father Vsevolod said.

He believes the investigation into the Odessa tragedy "is getting too little attention." "Have people forgotten about it? I would like to hope tat people who were involved in it on both sides will also tell society the truth about what they did and saw," the priest said.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam (the Netherlands) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) crashed in the Donetsk region on July 17. The crash killed all 298 onboard.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Russian Patriarchal, ROCOR, & OCA hierarchs concelebrate

(MOSPAT-USA) - On Sunday, July 20, 2014, the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA prayerfully concluded its celebrations of the 700th Anniversary of St. Sergius of Radonezh at St. Nicholas Cathedral in NYC, presided by the His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Tikhon, Metropolitan of All America and Canada. His Beatitude was co-served by His Eminence Hilarion, Metrpolitan of Eastern America and NY, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad and His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.

The hierarchs were co-served by Patriarchal, ROCOR and OCA clergy. Present at the Divine Services was the Wonderworking Icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh.

Before the Communion of the Faithful, Abbot Nicodemus (Balyasnikov) delivered a sermon on the history of the Wonderwokring Icon.

At the conclusion of the service, the Archpastors sang the Magnification before the Holy Icon.

On behalf of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archbishop Justinian presented Metropolitans Tikhon and Hilarion with new silk material made for a Metropolitan's Mantle (Mantia). In return, Metropolitan Tikhon presented Metropolitan Hilarion and Archbishop Justinian with Icons of St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and a Commemorative Paschal Egg dedicated to St. Sergius of Radonezh.

Why must children suffer for the sins of their fathers?

(The Atlantic) - A Palestinian medic evacuates the body of a girl from Gaza's eastern Shejaiya district on July 20, 2014.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Orthodox canons / cannons at Fort Ross

(OCA-DOW) - His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, presided over the annual Fourth of July Pilgrimage to Fort Ross on the northern coast of California. Here find a small pictorial with some scenes from that day.

Islamists clear city of Mosul or Christians, destroy churches

(Patriarchate of Jerusalem) - The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is alarmed upon hearing the horrifying statement issued by the Islamic State group, telling Christian communities in the Iraqi city of Mosul that they must convert to Islam, pay a jiziya tax, or give up all their possessions and leave the city, otherwise face imminent execution.

The inhumane statement is contrary to the peaceful symbiosis of Christians and Muslims in Iraq and in the entire Middle East region throughout the centuries and completely goes against the principles and values of these monotheistic religions.

The “Mother Church” of Jerusalem strongly and unequivocally condemns the appalling statement of the Islamic State group and appeals with utmost urgency to the international community to immediately intervene in order to avoid such actions and to protect the Christian population of Iraq, which has been living for many centuries in peace with their Muslim compatriots.

His Beatitude
Patriarch of Jerusalem
(Al Arabiya) - Militants from the radical jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have set fire to a 1,800-year-old church in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, a photo released Saturday shows.

The burning of the church is the latest in a series of destruction of Christian property in Mosul, which was taken by the Islamist rebels last month, along with other swathes of Iraqi territory.

A video posted on YouTube July 9 shows a tomb being destroyed with a sledgehammer which government officials said was “almost certainly” the tomb of Biblical prophet Jonah.

Earlier, Mosul’s Christians fled the city en masse before a Saturday deadline issued by the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for them to either convert to Islam, pay tax, leave or be killed.

Al Arabiya correspondent in Iraq Majid Hamid said the deadline set by the jihadist group was 12 p.m. Iraqi time (10 a.m. GMT). Hamid reported that many Christians fled the city on Friday. It is not clear if any remained after the deadline.

Patriarch Louis Sako told AFP on Friday: “Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil,” in the neighboring autonomous region of Kurdistan. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” he said.

Witnesses said messages telling Christians to leave the city by Saturday were blared through loudspeakers from the city’s mosques Friday.

A statement dated from last week and purportedly issued by ISIS that took over the city and large swathes of Iraq during a sweeping offensive last month warned Mosul’s Christians they should convert, pay a special tax, leave or face death.

Iraq was home to an estimated 1 million Christians before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted former President Saddam Hussein. Since then, militants have frequently targeted Christians across the country, bombing their churches and killing clergymen. Under such pressures, many Christians have left the country. Church officials now put the community at around 450,000.