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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fire from Ashes: The Reality of Perpetual Conversion

Fire from Ashes: The Reality of Perpetual Conversion is a new book that has just been published by Ancient Faith Publishing (formerly Conciliar Press). Intriguingly, this book was penned by not one, but two very notable Orthodox personalities. The Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt is pastor of the burgeoning St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston, TX, a well-known podcaster and blogger, and an accomplished author of several books on the faith. Steve Robinson of Mesa, AZ is an insightful blogger and illustrator, podcaster, and author. They were kind enough to answer a few questions in the below interview.

What motivated y'all to begin this book? This is a pretty unique pairing of two well-known Orthodox authors in creating an equally unique book.
Steve: I’m old…
I don’t really remember how this came about. My recollection is, about a year and a half ago, I got an email from Fr. Joseph asking if I would be willing to illustrate a book he was thinking about writing on “perpetual conversion” and what happens when people “fall hard” after starting out zealously. We both read and followed each other’s blogs but had never met in person.

Fr Joseph: It’s true, Steve is old …
Back when I was updating the Orthodixie blog regularly I would check in daily with Pithless Thoughts. Steve writes subjectively, honestly. It wasn’t always my cup of tea, but it was always thought provoking. I laughed at Steve’s humor; I was often stung, alarmed, or amazed by his freedom to be real.

Was the idea to add Steve Robinson's pithy illustrations made early
in the formative process or did it come later?

Steve: Again, it was Fr. Joseph’s initial idea. He pitched the concept to me and it sounded interesting. I asked him for a basic outline and some sample chapters for the book to see if it was something I could illustrate and work with. I wasn’t REALLY jazzed about his initial proposal to be honest. It seemed kind of “light-weight” though the concept behind it and his intention was intriguing to me. Over a period of several months of emailing back and forth we decided we needed to meet in person to discuss the focus and content of the book and what parts would lend themselves to illustrations. At that point we were still thinking “ortho-graphs” serio-humorous kinds of things.

Fr Joseph: Originally, I thought it’d be great if Steve would allow some of his “Orthographs” to serve as illustrations. My idea was to write a humorous book coupled with Steve’s humorous illustrations. Sound sickening? We thought so. After emailing back and forth, it became obvious that we needed to meet and speak. After a very productive meeting in Phoenix, we decided Steve would just put all of his sins in the book (and my name on the cover for support).

The "market" is replete with books about conversion stories or translations from ancient patristic texts, but there's not a lot in the way of contemporary spiritual guidance. There certainly aren't many books out there with the humorous bent this book has rolled into it. How does the idea of "perpetual conversion" play a part in the lives of the faithful?

Steve: Fr. Joseph flew to Phoenix for a weekend and we spent two days discussing the nature and content of the book as he originally intended it. Part of the meeting for me was to see who Fr. Joseph really “is”. To be honest, I haven’t had the greatest experiences collaborating with clergy. I was ready to bail out of the project if I thought he was an egotistical control freak. My wife and I had dinner with him the first evening and we did some pretty up front “gut spilling”. Fr. Joseph was equally open and responded with a great deal of wisdom and compassion. We came away feeling he was “the real deal”, no pretenses, no egomania, and a “good old boy in a collar” with a lot of hard earned wisdom.

Fr Joseph: Aha. See that? My plan worked!
Honestly, Steve has a natural gift of disarmament – drawing people out from behind their walls, removing their mask. He doesn’t use them, why should you? Although this typifies accountability and true discipleship, I can understand why Steve might be perceived, by some (especially clergy) as a beautiful asset – or a threat – to parish life. Thanks God, we hit it off pretty well (and he lives in Phoenix).

Steve: Over the next two days we talked about our individual visions for the book. As we talked, his original outline and focus changed and sharpened. The thing that came to the forefront was, we wanted something that would bring an Orthodox perspective on the “dark side” of the spiritual life, falling…. But without hitting people over the head with an “Orthodox bat” and people wouldn’t need an “Orthodox lexicon” at the end notes to know what the heck we were talking about. For instance, there is a section about how to find and discern the qualifications of a good “spiritual advisor” that is solidly out of the Fathers, but speaks directly to the broad Christian culture that recognizes the need for a “spiritual director” or “accountability partner” kind of thing.

Fr Joseph: I warned John Maddex that the humorous book I’d initially pitched might evolve into something a little “darker” than Ancient Faith Publishing’s usual fare. He basically said, “Bring it.” When Steve and I met, we agreed that what was needed was a book that anyone struggling – really struggling, perhaps fallen and not really struggling – could utilize.

Steve: As we talked we decided that we should co-author rather than me just illustrate HIS text. We created an outline, divided up chapters and sections and began exchanging chapters for each other’s edits and suggestions. We wrote our respective parts, but we also critiqued and edited each other’s material all along the process. There was a LOT of give and take involved in the final product.

Fr Joseph: This is true. Co-authoring a book is a challenge. There is a natural sense of protection around one’s cherished words – whether they’re worthy or not! It was a good experience for me to have another pair of eyes, a sound theological perspective. It’s tempting and easy to be frustrated with an acquisition or copy editor. It’s humbling when you have to share credit/blame with another.

Steve: So, back to the book. Basically our vision was a book that ANYONE of any Christian background could benefit from without having a library of Orthodox dogmatic theology on their bookshelf, but yet still be faithful to the Orthodox patristic witness to the nature of the human being, sin and repentance. Anyone who has lived the Christian life seriously knows that we begin with zeal and then we fall. Often the fall is inversely proportional to the zeal of the start. We have to bring that “fall” into perspective, even though it is often vile, horrific and despairing, it is STILL within the context of our “Christian life” and we have to struggle with how to understand how to get up and head back home to the Father.

Fr Joseph: Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes – or the similar falls of others. Essentially, there is only one sin: rebellion of the will, disobedience. I think I can speak for both of us: This is something we know from experience. The stories in the book are true – they may not be, verbatim, my story, our story, or your story. But, they are true stories. All things can be redeemed in Christ.

Steve: The other thing we discussed was “being real”. The gospel is God reaching to the lowest depths of human depravity and being light in the darkest night of our souls. We wanted to reach those places. It was a delicate balance to interject an edge of humor into what was an edge of darkness. It was a “dance” to decide how “dark” to get without being too crude. Fr. Joseph actually balked at an illustration, but ultimately deferred because well, it was “real”, but just a little too real for him he admitted.

Fr Joseph: We’ve both experienced some dark moments – even years – in our Pilgrimage. Our life in Christ is a joy! Our life with self, sin and other Christians can be hell. We eventually agreed that there must be others, within or without the Church, who could benefit from a book geared toward keeping it real – all the while stumbling toward the Real.

How did the illustrations get put into the text? Did some images prompt more writing or did the images encapsulate the ideas found in the text after you had written it? Did they always fit right in or was there some debate on a few of them?

Steve: The illustrations were driven by the text. Some of them came pretty quickly, some of them I pondered the text for quite a while.

It was difficult to choose what to illustrate and I probably tossed a half dozen ideas in the recycle bin. Like most creative endeavors you always look back and think OH DANG, I SHOULDA.... but that goes for text too.

I tried to balance the illustrations between "serio-humor" and serious images. I think only a couple of them were knock offs of previously done "orthograph" stuff from my blog. I didn't want the book to just be a re-hash of stuff my blog readers had already seen. What's the fun in that?

The only illustration we disagreed on was the "Dog Vomit Menu Board". Fr. Joseph thought it was too disgusting, I thought it illustrated the text perfectly: a visual icon of exactly what the text was saying. We ultimately left it up to the editor to decide to include or not, and with the "footnote" from Fr. Joseph if it got included.

Fr. Joseph: Still: "YUCK!"

An Excerpt from the book:
Sinning is like dating our exes.

Temptation is my “Little Black Book”. It is a list of the phone numbers (OK… and email addresses and Facebook profiles) of old friends or lovers that I broke up with long ago but still hold a soft place in my heart. They are people I chose once and then chose to give up and throw out of my life. I know I ditched them for a reason; they were bad for me in some way. The problem is, I don’t know why I still hang on to their number and call them up when I need what they once gave me that I once enjoyed.

St. Peter, quoting the Proverbs, says going back to my old “friends” is like a dog that returns to its vomit. (2 Peter 2:22) That is probably one of the most unappetizing images in scripture. But it is exactly what I do when I go back and eat what I spit out and threw up in my “conversion”.

The problem with all of us is, if sin really looked and tasted like vomit, the choice would be easy.

Don't like the result? Ignore it and try again.

(NPR) - The Church of England voted Monday to ordain women as bishops.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the church's spiritual leader, said before the vote that the public would find it "almost incomprehensible" if the church's General Synod did not approve the change. Given all that they have said and done for the past many decades I can only agree. If you've let so much tradition and belief flow under the bridge why not let women rule?

A similar proposal was narrowly defeated in 2012. A revised proposal had been put to a vote and approved in 43 of the church's 44 dioceses, according to the BBC.

Under the revised plan, opponents can request male priests and bishops, but they are offered no guarantees. Read: Whinge to your heart's content, but we are required to only reluctantly lift up a single eyebrow and then wave our hand at you with the most feeble of recognitions before we laugh at you as you depart.

Outside of England, more than 20 women serve as Anglican bishops in countries such as the United States, India and New Zealand. The most recently ordained woman is Bishop Melissa Skelton, who took over the Canadian diocese that includes Vancouver in March.

David Banting, a lay member of the church, complained to The Telegraph newspaper that the decision could leave churchgoers confused about gender roles.

"We live in a world which wishes to remove or minimize or disregard gender," Banting said. "The government has done so in regards to marriage already, now the church appears to be doing so in regard to the orders of ministry."

But the change had widespread backing, including support from British Prime Minister David Cameron. It comes more than 20 years after the Church first allowed women to serve as priests. That is how a "church" unmoored from tradition is left to act. "Backing" and "support" trump all.

The proposal required two-thirds approval and passed in the House of Laity by a vote of 152 to 45, with five abstentions. The vote in the House of Bishops was nearly unanimous, with 37 in favor, two against and one abstaining.

On Psalm 8

From the Greek Archdiocesan "Discovering Orthodox Christianity" series, Abp. Demetrios speaks on Psalm 8. You can see that the seminary professor in him is still alive and well. In my own seminary not a class went by that we were not entreated to read and study the Psalms; it was a panacea for spiritual illness, theological instruction, and times of difficulty. That petition was it however and we were left to find our own books to study with. I'm quite fond of these titles, but welcome any other recommendations.
  • "Commentary on the Psalms of David," (1950), Apostolos Makrakis
  • "Praying the Psalms in the Byzantine Church," (2011), Jack Custer
  • “The Psalterion According to the Seventy,” (2010), Holy Apostles Convent
  • "Treatise on the Inscriptions of the Psalms," St. Gregory of Nyssa
I've added the translations below the video for reference. The Greek is not there just to be pedantic, but because Abp. Demetrios is quite liberal in his use of Greek whenever he teaches or when he delivers homilies.

Septuagint (English and Greek)

1 [For the end, concerning the wine-presses, a Psalm of David.] O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the earth! for thy magnificence is exalted above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise, because of thine enemies; that thou mightest put down the enemy and avenger.
3 For I will regard the heavens, the work of thy fingers; the moon and stars, which thou hast established.
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5 Thou madest him a little less than angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour;
6 and thou hast set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things under his feet:
7 sheep and all oxen, yea and the cattle of the field;
8 the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea, the [creatures] passing through the paths of the sea.
9 O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the earth!

1 Εἰς τὸ τέλος, ὑπὲρ τῶν ληνῶν· ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυΐδ. -
2 ΚΥΡΙΕ ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν, ὡς θαυμαστὸν τὸ ὄνομά σου ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ· ὅτι ἐπήρθη ἡ μεγαλοπρέπειά σου ὑπεράνω τῶν οὐρανῶν.
3 ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον ἕνεκα τῶν ἐχθρῶν σου τοῦ καταλῦσαι ἐχθρὸν καὶ ἐκδικητήν.
4 ὅτι ὄψομαι τοὺς οὐρανούς, ἔργα τῶν δακτύλων σου, σελήνην καὶ ἀστέρας, ἃ σὺ ἐθεμελίωσας·
5 τί ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος, ὅτι μιμνῄσκῃ αὐτοῦ; ἢ υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, ὅτι ἐπισκέπτῃ αὐτόν;
6 ἠλάττωσας αὐτὸν βραχύ τι παρ᾿ ἀγγέλους, δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν,
7 καὶ κατέστησας αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου· πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ,
8 πρόβατα, καὶ βόας ἁπάσας, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τὰ κτήνη τοῦ πεδίου,
9 τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας τῆς θαλάσσης, τὰ διαπορευόμενα τρίβους θαλασσῶν.
10 Κύριε ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν, ὡς θαυμαστὸν τὸ ὄνομά σου ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ!

NKJV (Masoretic with LXX influence)

1 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, (the Hebrew reads "God")
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

7 All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,

8 The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

Met. Volodymyr of Kyiv interred

( - On 7 July 2014, the feast day of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, the Divine Liturgy and the burial service for the deceased Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine were celebrated in the square before the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Laura of the Caves in Kiev. Numerous worshippers, who had paid their last respects to the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, were praying at the service.

Metropolitan Onufry of Chernovtsy and Bukovina, Locum Tenens of the Metropolitan See of Kiev, officiated. Concelebrating with him were Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, representative of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia; the assembly of hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church; and other hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate: Metropolitan Vladimir of Kishinev and All Moldova; Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia); Bishop Leonid of Turov and Mazyr, representative of the Byelorussian Exarchate; and Bishop Peter of Ungheni and Nisporeni.

Representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches came to Kiev to pay their last respects to His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine; among them – Archbishop Job of Telmessos and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton (Orthodox Church of Constantinople); Metropolitan Timotheos of Vostra (Orthodox Church of Jerusalem); Metropolitan Gerasim of Zugdidi and Tsaishi and Metropolitan Sergiy of Nekress (Georgian Orthodox Church); Bishop Antonije of Moravica (Serbian Orthodox Church); Archbishop Abel of Lublin and Chełm (Polish Orthodox Church); Bishop Alexander of Toledo and Archimandrite Alexander (Pihach) (Orthodox Church in America).

During the burial service, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk read out the message of condolences of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Also read out were condolences of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, Georgian Orthodox Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, Polish Orthodox Church, Orthodox Church in America, Orthodox Church of Moldova, and of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

After the burial service, the body of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine was carried in the procession with the cross to the Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the Far Caves of the Laura and was buried there, website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reports.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Metropolitan Joseph: "we have to build a monastic life"

I waited for AFR to supply the transcript before posting. You will see that many of His Eminence's opinions will take the Antiochian Archdiocese in a markedly new direction.

(AFR) - Archbishop Joseph delivers his inaugural comments at the Parish Life Conference for the Western Diocese of the Antiochian Archdiocese in San Francisco, California, after being named Metropolitan by Patriarch John X and the Holy Synod of Antioch.
Good evening. [Good evening.] In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: one God. [Amen.]

Beloved in Christ, glory be to God. [Glory to Him forever.]

I thank all of you for your love and for your sincere commitment in the faith. I thank God for my safety to here. I just arrived this afternoon from Lebanon, and I am bringing with me the love of our holy fathers, Patriarch John X and the holy synod and all the hierarchs. We met together over the past few days. It was not [an] easy journey. Nothing is done by accident, but, believe [it] or not, the Holy Spirit was working hard, whether I am the one who was elected or someone else.

You know, we have politics in the Church—ugly politics, I would say. We have differences, we have human… things, complications, but, before anything else, we have to think of the Holy Spirit who is leading the Church. I assure you that our patriarch, for a number of nights, he didn’t have any sleep. He was receiving bishops, even after midnight, most of the night. On Wednesday we finished the session of the holy synod during that time, and I left, and I drove one hour back to Beirut, and, thank God because it is Ramadan, so there is no traffic! [Laughter] So it took me just one hour. So I got into the hotel in Beirut, because I had some meetings there. I received a telephone call telling me to go back to Balamand again, the same. [Laughter] I tried not to go back. I tried to be negative. [Laughter] I tried to be smart and convincing, not to go back, but it didn’t work. So I got into the car and [went] back, the same.

All what happened [was] because of this Archdiocese. You know, there is no fight over the Archdiocese, but there is a big fight for the Archdiocese. This Archdiocese is like one of many, many archdioceses we have, but this Archdiocese is unique and is different in many ways. So now, the Holy Spirit brought us to this moment. Now, we don’t have to think of politics and what happened and all what I’m trying to share with you today, but the beginning has started right now. Thank you for your love, thank you for your patience, thank you for your endurance, thank you for your prayers and tears as well. But there is no reason to have any fear. Forget me; forget about me. The Holy Spirit, as I said, is leading this Archdiocese, is leading this Church. In Lebanon, in Syria, now war: to be or not to be. At any moment, many, many Christians getting killed every single moment. And you know now what’s happening in Iraq, and between Iraq and Syria, might… a new Islamic state might arise all of a sudden and rule that area: Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and wherever. So the Church is at stake. The Church is in serious danger. The whole Middle East is in danger. We don’t have to forget this.

Now we have to focus on our one thing. Of course, I have a list of priorities for you. Now I am in charge of all of you, how to lead you to the kingdom of heaven. So to lead, to lead you—and I’ve been working with you here for around 20 years—now I have to go back, like to cover many areas. I have to work with many clergy; I have to work with many organizations; and this week I have to leave back to New Jersey, and from New Jersey to the Antiochian Village for the Symposium, to meet more [of] our hierarchs, to meet more clergy and more people there. So it is not one person. All of us—clergy and laity, laity and clergy—so the Archdiocese is not the Metropolitan by himself. The Archdiocese is all of us, and we have to believe in this, and we have to have faith about that. So from this moment, from this Parish Life Conference…

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Orientale Lumen Conference XVIII talks available

(AFR) - The 2014 Orientale Lumen Conference, which took place in Washington D.C. from June 23rd through the 26th, focused on Ecumenical Dimensions of Marriage. The event was sponsored by the Society of St. John Chrysostom, the Orientale Lumen Foundation, and Eastern Christian Publications, and speakers included Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ, Archpriest Peter Galadza, Father Patrick Viscuso, Father John Beal, Sr. Vassa Larin, and Solon and Marianna Patterson. Click here to visit the Orientale Lumen Foundation store.
Talks available here.