Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Stories of Modern Martyrdom in an Ancient Christian Land

(AFM) - Introducing an upcoming new book release by Ancient Faith Publications, set for availability in November 2021. Syria Crucified: Stories of Modern Martyrdom in an Ancient Christian Land is written by Orthodox Christian authors Zachary Wingerd and Brad Hoff, and importantly is the first ever book to detail the plight of Syria’s Christians during the past ten years of tragic war. The urgency of their continued suffering even as the war has largely fallen out of media headlines and global consciousness drives the vision and message of this book. 

Syria Crucified is an engaging compilation of personal stories representing Orthodox Christian experiences, including eyewitness accounts of martyrdom, deepening prayer and closeness to Christ amid hardships, as well as lives of Syrians who are modern “living confessors” of the faith through their sufferings and patient endurance. 

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3:

“They Invaded as Wolves but Left as Little Lambs” 

During the spring and summer months prior to the war, Cherubim Monastery was known for hosting Christian youth camps and church schools in Saidnaya. As it began to come under more and more intense rocket and mortar fire, the Abbot of the St. George brotherhood, Archimandrite John Talli, told the monks at Cherubim they must take shelter at the more secure St. George Monastery in the village below. The townspeople testify that during that time Archimandrite John refused to leave. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Parishes of EP celebrating "Synaxis of the Holy Doctors"

(OMHKSEA) - On July 21, 2021, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which was presided over by His All-Holiness, discussed and commended the self-sacrificing and vital dedication of those that serve in the area of Medicine and Health, especially during the present Pandemic.

Because of this, the Holy Synod decided to institute the “Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Physicians”. The Feast will be celebrated every year on the Sunday that is nearest to that of the Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (October 17th) and that of St. Luke the Apostle, Evangelist and Doctor (October 18th). On the “Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Doctors”, the Church will honor the contribution made by Medical Science and those that have dedicated their lives to the health and healing of mankind.

Patriarchal Encyclical For The Feast of The Holy Physicians

From ancient Christianity to modern times, doctors, nurses, and specialist healers, as well as other simple and conscientious faithful Christians have served “those in illness and suffering” by tangibly expressing God’s love for mankind, after the example and in the image of Christ.

A number of these were distinguished for their holiness, which the Church has recognized by officially canonizing them and including them to its Calendar of Saints. Many of them were physicians, while several others founded hospitals and philanthropic institutions, ministering the sick with humble dedication and meekness. Not only did they have excellent medical knowledge and skills, but they were additionally imbued by the sacrificial love of the Crucified Savior and profoundly grounded in the reality of the Church as the Body of Christ. In this way, medicine and philanthropy were consonant with the medical science of their age, but at the same time consistently incorporated in the ecclesial event.

As bearers of divine grace and imitators of the God-man Christ, who sanctified and renewed all creation through His incarnation, the objective of their endeavors was to introduce the fallen nature of humankind to the new creation by jointly healing body and soul, thereby demonstrating the value of human existence as a psychosomatic unity, but also the mutual unity between God and humanity. As preachers of truth, these Holy Physicians and Philanthropists understood that, in order for every human being to be healed, all the created world must be restored and integrated. Their philanthropy comprised an expression of the divine hospitality of the Father, who gathers His children under His bosom, the Church, the Hostel of mercy and joy. For the consolation, support and welfare of their patients, they intercede to the Great Physician and Loving God for the healing of our souls and bodies.

In the anguish, fear, pain and sorrow that emerged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the eyes of the faithful are turned toward these Saints with their healing gifts. These Saints constitute the special anchor and example for doctors, nurses and all those serving in the medical field, who throughout the pandemic have offered extraordinary efforts in order to save lives and provide care, treatment and relief to their fellow human beings who were suffering.

The pandemic revealed the vulnerable dimension of human nature, the prevailing imbalance in the natural environment as a result of greed, the existing division and conflict within the wider society, as well as the tensions within the Church itself. It compelled us to reflect on the way we live out our faith before the tragic threat of death, the loss of our loved ones, and the loneliness created by illness and mourning. It directed us to seek the grace of our loving God through the assistance and intercession of the Saints. Moreover, the pandemic brought to the surface the authentic meaning of philanthropy, the need for collaboration and coordination of all social actors, as well as the mandatory cooperation between Church and medical science. Indeed, the pandemic highlighted eminent individuals in the field of medicine and health care, who, as the Saints, exercised their profession and afforded care and support to the sick, contributed their services with self-sacrifice and tenderness, surpassing human standards under difficult circumstances, in order to confront the multidimensional consequences of this health crisis.

Bearing all these things in mind, our Holy and Sacred Synod decided to establish the Sunday closest to October 17th and 18th each year (when we commemorate the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenary Healers and the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke the Doctor) as the day of the Synaxis of all the Holy Physicians as an appreciation for the essential contribution of the medical science and its ministers toward humanity. 

Beloved doctors and healers, we congratulate you for your invaluable service and thank you paternally, praying that the Lord God may support and strengthen you in your blessed work. We encourage you to show sincere love and compassion, to honor one another and cultivate earnest faith “serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, being patient in tribulation, remaining constant in prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, and practicing hospitality” (Rm 12.9-15) so that through you the Holy Trinity and Giver of all good things may be glorified.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A bishop for the Albanians

(OCA) - Bringing to a close an initial round of prayerful consideration, which began shortly after the repose of the ever-memorable Archbishop Nikon in 2019, the Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese has inaugurated a new period of reflection and recruitment in its search for a bishop. Proposed and endorsed by popular acclamation at the September annual assembly of the archdiocese, this renewed process invites all potential candidates to submit their names for consideration. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Archdiocesan Chancery for more information. Due by November 12, submissions will be reviewed and thereafter submitted to the Holy Synod. 
The faithful of the Albanian Archdiocese request the prayers of all their brothers and sisters in Christ, that His will may be done, and they kindly ask also that others aid them in this renewed endeavor, sharing this appeal broadly with any who may be interested and capable to serve

Apostasy: an Orthodox response to Joshua Schooping

Father John Whiteford and Craig Truglia discuss the high profile apostasy of former Orthodox priest, Joshua Schooping, to Protestantism and critique his reasons for doing so.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Pornography is not a victimless enterprise

I have no idea what people confessed before the advent of the Internet, but if you're a priest in the modern age you know with some certainty what you are going to hear about with regularity. Please note that this video is not G-rated and is tinged with some modern permissiveness; you can skip the last 90 seconds and avoid most of it.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Abp. Christophoros from Jordan on monasticism today

Gordon Ramsay meets nuns

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Discussing intercommunion of Syriac and Roman bodies

(Syriac Orthodox Church) - On Tuesday and Wednesday, September 28th and 29th, 2021, His Eminence Mor Dionysius John Kawak (the Co Chair of this dialogue) along with Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Chamoun, deacon George Kiraz and sub-deacon Imad Syryany, attended the Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Dialogue via ZOOM.On the first day, the discussion was on Eucharistic intercommunion, where Archbishop Kawak gave a short presentation about the common declaration signed by Rome and the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. On the second day Sub-Deacon Imad gave a presentation on the qualities of the priesthood as expressed in the ordination rite of our Holy Church.

Of unicorns and rhinoceroses

From one of my favorite blogs (authored by Roger Pearse), a post entitled 'Where does the Vulgate use the word “unicorn”?' You might also enjoy this post "Stump the Priest: Unicorns?

In the King James Version of the bible, the unicorn is mentioned in Numbers 23:22 and 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9,10, Psalms 22:21, 29:6 and 92:10, and in Isaiah 34:7.  As I understand it, in 1611, in current English, the words “unicorn” and “rhinoceros” referred to the same, vaguely known, animal.  The two go back to the Latin bible, the Vulgate, which uses both in these passages, to represent the two Greek words “monokeros” (“one-horn”) and “rhinokeros” (“nose horn”), again both referring to the same obscure animal.[1]  The KJV translators knew that a single Hebrew word, rē’em, lay behind both words, and (correctly) chose to use just one term.  Unfortunately they chose the “wrong” word, at least as viewed from our own days, because subsequent science instead standardised on “rhinoceros” for this odd animal.  At least, this is what I have read, although I could wish for more confirmation of this.

A correspondent asked me just which passages in the Vulgate used “unicorn”.  This was harder work to discover than I should have liked.

The standard critical edition of the Latin Vulgate is the Weber-Gryson 5th edition of the Biblia Sacra iuxta vulgata, versionem, which appeared in Stuttgart in 2007.  Thankfully a number of copies may be found at here.  It’s not the right version to use for general reading, if you want a Latin bible.  But it is certainly the right one to use for scholarly purposes...

Complete article here.

OCA synod on jurisdictional ties

(OCA) - The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting under the presidency of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon via teleconference, on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, issued the following communique:

At numerous points in recent years, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America has reiterated its commitment to the unity of Orthodox Christians in North America, in fulfillment of the charge given to the Orthodox Church in America in the Tomos of Autocephaly, the witness of the canonical tradition, and the command of the Lord Himself, who wills that His followers be united together in a bond of love as He and His Heavenly Father are.

This Sunday, October 3, prior to the meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops that will begin next week in Washington, DC, the Executive Committee of the Assembly will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington. With one accord, the Holy Synod rejoices that His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with the heads of the Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States and members of the Executive Committee: His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Christian Archdiocese of North America, His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas, and His Grace Bishop Saba of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church in North America; together with His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa, Secretary of the Assembly.

The Holy Synod also gives thanks to God and confirms the decision of His Beatitude to accept the invitation from the Moscow Patriarchate to travel with a delegation in November to Moscow, in order to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday jubilee of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. In doing so, the Holy Synod reaffirms the fundamental relationship between the Orthodox Church in America and the Russian Orthodox Church, and the warm ties that these two Churches share.

The Holy Synod states once again, unequivocally, that it desires and intends to maintain full communion with all the universally recognized autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Further, the Holy Synod exhorts the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America fervently to offer prayers that the unity and communion of Orthodox Christians throughout the world be restored, and that all schisms be resolved according to the canonical tradition and discipline of the Church.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Surprise! Most Orthodox in Americas speak Spanish.

Support the Manuel missionaries here!

(RNS) — When the clergy and seminarians of the St. Andrew’s Seminary in Aguacate, Guatemala, roll into town they have their work cut out for them. 

“On day one, we did the liturgy, 10 baptisms, and seven chrismations,” explained the Fr. Thomas Manuel, an Orthodox Christian priest. “Then the next day, we did another visit, we had nine confessions, the Divine Liturgy, four chrismations, three weddings and a baptism.”

The men’s workload is their own doing. Established only a decade ago in a country traditionally dominantly Roman Catholic, Guatemala’s Orthodox Christian community is so successful that its few clergy are in a constant state of being overwhelmed.

Guatemala’s border with Mexico is a region of volcanic mountains and fertile farmland. For centuries, this area has been largely occupied by the Indigenous Maya people, whose great pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilization once spanned from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to El Salvador’s Pacific coast. 

Like the rest of Latin America, since the arrival of the Spanish, for centuries religious expression in the region had mostly been dominated by the Roman Catholic Church.

That’s changing fast. Guatemala has been in a state of religious flux since in the mid-1990s and the end of the country’s decades long civil war. 

While in 1970 Guatemala was more than 90% Catholic, today less than 45% of Guatemalans identify that way. Another 42% identify as Protestants, according to a 2019 report by the U.S. State Department. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Church Growth and Decline in the COVID Crisis

This isn't a political discussion (have no fear), but rather a talk on what new struggles COVID has given us and what opportunities it has offered us.Also, longtime readers will know I am a big fan of Bishop Irenei of Great Britain and Western Europe, but I think this series transcends my bias.

Monday, September 27, 2021


Friday, September 24, 2021

Jordanville parishioners murdered under truly tragic circumstances

Warren, N.Y. (Syracuse) — After a Herkimer County man was charged with fatally stabbing his father and 12-year-old sister Sunday, the surviving members of his family are still trying to figure out why.

Michael Andreev Jr. was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder after police found the bodies of his father, Michael Andreev Sr., and his sister, Sofia Trusova, stabbed to death Sunday at their home in Jordanville, state police said.

Michael Andreev Jr., 22, was found in the front yard of the house with a cut to his neck, troopers said. He was immediately considered a suspect, they said.

Stefan Andreev said in a Facebook post Thursday that his older brother Michael “has exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia for a long time now.” He also said in the post that his biological mother, Elena Trusova, and his maternal grandmother both suffer from the chronic brain disorder.

“This senseless act of violence on our beloved is inexplicable,” Stefan Andreev wrote.

Michael J. Andreev Jr. is being held at the Herkimer County Correctional Facility without bail, troopers said.

Stefan Andreev, a 20-year-old student at American University in Bulgaria, returned home to help care for his 9-year-old brother, who state police say witnessed the attack.

Christian Andreev, 18, took emergency leave from his fifth week of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to come home, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Alexei Zaikoff. Stefan said Zaikoff is a long-time family friend.

Stefan Andreev described his father in the Facebook post as “a loving person who always put family first.”

Stefan Andreev said his father was born in Bulgaria and immigrated to the United States.

“Everything he had done was with purpose and in the name of his ideals,” Stefan Andreev wrote. “Most importantly, he loved all his children until the end.”

Stefan Andreev also wrote about his younger sister in the post. He called her “an outgoing young lady maturing into a bright life.”

“She was very intelligent and friendly with everyone.,” Stefan Andreev wrote. “Her peers and community enjoyed spending time with her. She was a great sister, but above all a good person with an enduring love for everything.”

Stefan Andreev said his family are members of the Russian Orthodox Community in Jordanville.

“My father and sister had their lives cut short due to preventable causes,” Stefan Andreev said in the post. “Let us not forget that my father and sister will forever live on in our memories, and be forever in our prayers. May God have mercy on their souls.”

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Orthodoxy in Tanzania

What a great photo. Details available here.