Saturday, May 15, 2021

Serbian Church schedules session, delays enthronement

(SOC) - The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, under the presidency of His Holiness Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch decided to start the regular session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the service of the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the Memorial Cathedral of Saint Sava in the Vracar district, on May 24, 2021, on the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius. The Holy Liturgy will be served by Serbian Patriarch Porfirije with the concelebration of the hierarchs.

The previously planned solemn act of enthronement of the primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Stauropegial Monastery of the Pec Patriarchate, the ancient seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has been postponed until further notice due to epidemiological measures in force in this southern Serbian province.

OCA Diocese of the West lifts mask mandate!

(OCA-DOW) - Updated Covid Guidelines from His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin (May 14th, 2021)

To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the West,

Christ is Risen!

It has been well over a year since we first became aware of the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative impact it was beginning to have on society as well as in our personal lives. Early in the pandemic, governments and governmental agencies began to implement guidelines, procedures, and protocols to protect the public health. The Church also participated in the effort to minimize the effects of the pandemic, including introducing some temporary procedures that affected our common life and worship. These protocols included the use of masks, social distancing, suspending of social gatherings, etc. The past months have been strange and even difficult for us all as we have navigated these unknown and sometimes frightening waters. And, without a doubt, our patience has been tried on many occasions. However, we held fast to our conviction that the Lord was leading us through something from which we could all learn to grow in faith and in trust of His mercy. 

As you may have heard, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its recommended protocols concerning the use of masks. Essentially, masks are no longer mandated for those persons who have been fully vaccinated. This means that those who have received their final covid vaccination (one or two, depending on the vaccine) no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, in large or small groups or gatherings, and without concern for social distancing. This would seem to include gatherings in church. However, if those who are fully vaccinated wish, they might also consider continuing to wear masks for their own comfort and out of respect for others. The CDC also recommended and advised that those who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear masks for the time being in order to protect themselves and others from potential exposure. 

Please refer to your state and local government regulations with regard to the implementation of these new protocols. In California, for example, it is my understanding the rules regarding the wearing of masks indoors remain in effect until June 15 in spite of the CDC recommendations. This is, however, not the case in other states in our diocese. 

I bless our parishes to implement the new CDC guidelines as outlined above, noting that these guidelines clearly recommend that those who have not been vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors. However, I also note that there are some grey areas within the CDC guidelines that raise concern. One of these is that there is no realistic way to monitor this new provision, i.e. to determine who has or hasn’t yet been vaccinated. Indeed, this is a matter of personal concern which many would not want to share. In the parish context, this puts our clergy in the unenviable and unfeasible position of monitoring something which is impossible to monitor. Because of this, I ask that individual parishioners and families, whether wearing masks or not, monitor themselves in this regard, always in a manner that is respectful of others in the parish community. 

As we begin to see an end to the pandemic and a return to a more normal way of life, I ask that all our clergy, monastics, and faithful continue to live in the spirit of mutual love, support, and cooperation and with the fidelity to Christ that you have all exhibited throughout these many months. 

Yours in the Risen Christ,


Archbishop of San Francisco and the West

Diocese of Alaska lifts mask mandate!


Truly good news from Antioch!

(Antiochian) - Good News from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH

May 14, 2021 

Christ is Risen! 

​I pray you and your parishes had a blessed Pascha and Bright Week. In light of the announcement by the CDC yesterday saying that people who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear masks and social distance, whether indoors or outdoors, and in light of the reality that most every adult who wants to be vaccinated has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, we are lifting all requirements to wear masks and social distance in our churches in the United States of America. Nevertheless, those who choose to continue wearing masks in the church should not be discouraged IN ANY WAY from doing so. The only thing we ask is that if you have any high risk people in your parishes who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons that you make every effort to accommodate them by having a small area of the church, where they can still social distance and wear masks, set aside in order for them to feel safe. 

Additionally, in light of the new CDC recommendations, choirs, church schools, coffee hours and social functions, hall rentals, meetings, etc. may also resume as each parish determines it is the appropriate time, but no later than the beginning of the new ecclesiastical year in September. For those parishes needing to move more slowly, we ask that you implement the changes in the sanctuary immediately, and then slowly transition with the other items mentioned above. Of course, our parishes in Canada continue to be restricted by the civil authorities and we pray we will have the same good news for them in the near future. 

Wishing you and all the faithful a blessed Paschal season, I remain, 

Your Father in the Risen Lord, 


Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America​

Friday, May 14, 2021

Why we say no to cremation - Records at 6PM Eastern today

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Finally a movie where dad isn't a bumbling fool

If only Netflix put out more of this and less of the other stuff, I'd still have a subscription.

This is going to be a good book. Guarantee it.

(Antiochian) - A new Ancient Faith book release, The Religion of the Apostles: Orthodox Christianity in the First Century, has been authored by The Rev. Dr. Stephen De Young, pastor of Archangel Gabriel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. The book is described as "Orthodox Christian Biblical theology in one volume​," in which Fr. Stephen traces the lineage of Orthodox Christianity back to the faith and witness of the apostles, rooted as it was in a first-century Jewish worldview. 

The Religion of the Apostles presents the Orthodox Christian Church of today as a continuation of that religious heritage, which was really a continuation of the life of the people of God since the beginning of creation. 

Father Stephen holds a PhD in Biblical Studies from Amridge University, is the host of The Whole Counsel of God​ ​podcast, and co-host of the Lord of Spirits podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. He is also the author of The Whole Counsel Blog on the Ancient Faith Ministries website. For years Fr. Stephen has been teaching the Bible by taking ideas current in biblical scholarship and explaining them to laypeople to make both those ideas and the Scriptures more accessible.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has endorsed the book, saying that "This book delves into contemporary scholarship on the religious beliefs of the Judaism of the Second Temple period. It sheds light on the ways that evangelists and the apostles understood the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ and how the authors of the New Testament framed their narratives to communicate the very same Faith expressed later in the history of the Church. While challenging at times, this work opens new ways to read and understand the Old and New Testaments as well as our liturgical worship. These new ways always point to the wider Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church. I welcome this work by Fr. Stephen and hope that readers will gain a fuller and deeper appreciation of the 'faith once and for all delivered to the saints.'"  

A structured reopening of Mount Athos

(Orthochristian) - After several months of lockdown restrictions, Mt. Athos is finally open to pilgrims again, starting today.

The decision to reopen the Holy Mountain was made by the Sacred Community—the governing body of Mt. Athos, consisting of one representative from each of the 20 ruling monasteries, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.

The number of pilgrims allowed on the Mountain at one time will be strictly limited: Each monastery may issue 10 diamontirions (a visa-like document needed to enter the Holy Mountain); some sketes may issue 5, and some 2, and cells and hesychasteria may issue 1 each.

The Sacred Community’s circular states that it is strictly forbidden to allow people to move between monasteries once they are on Mt. Athos.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Paschal services resource now available in Khmer

(ROC) - The Cambodian deanery of the diocese of Thailand, the Patriarchate Exarchate of South-East Asia, has published the Khmer version of the Paschal divine service including the Paschal matins, Hours and the Divine Liturgy. The translation was made with a blessing of the Patriarchal Exarch for South-East Asia, Metropolitan Sergiy of Singapore and South-East Asia and under the guidance of the secretary of the diocese of Thailand, Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin).

The project was coordinated by Hieromonk Paisius (Opate), rector of the St. George church in Phnom Penh. The rector of the St. Panteleimon church in Sihanoukville, Rev. Roman Postnikov, was responsible for the editing. The translation was drafted by D. Yu. Okhvat, the Khmer language and literature lecturer, Chair of the Philology of South-East Asia, Eastern faculty of St. Petersburg University.

It was decided to present copies of the book as a Paschal gift to all Khmer parishioners. The translation is also available in electronic version on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church’s parishes in Cambodia.

Holy Cross mandates vaccination for all

(HCHC) - George M. Cantonis, President of Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology has announced plans to reopen the HCHC campus for the Fall 2021 semester. With the increasing availability of vaccinations, resulting in an anticipated decline in COVID-19 transmission and infectivity, the reopening will mark a return to a more typical on-campus experience for HCHC’s students, with flexible accommodations. Inside and outside the classroom, they will once again be able to enjoy many of the distinctive elements of an HCHC education. 

The current plan is to hold classes in-person, with faculty teaching and students learning in the classroom. Fall 2021 classes will commence on September 7, 2021. The Spring 2022 semester will begin for all students on January 18, 2022. As during the 2020-2021 academic year, the institution will adhere to all state, federal, city, town, and HCHC guidelines to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. In addition, all students, faculty, and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by August 17, 2021. More planning information will be released in the coming months as the administration further monitors and assesses the health situation. I know some institutions have mandated students get vaccinated, but have not done so for faculty because of employment law. It's surprising to see an Orthodox institution mandating this for all.

In a letter to students, faculty, and staff, President Cantonis said, “I am proud of the fact that HCHC has kept its community and facilities safe. Our success is due to careful planning and the conscientious implementation of those plans. Importantly, I am proud of the way in which students have adhered to the guidelines and worked with the administration and faculty hand in hand. Without their cooperation, we would not be able to plan a return to campus next semester. Thanks to the efforts of so many, we are now preparing to bring students back in the fall to an engaged, flexible, and safe environment for everyone in our community.”

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Georgia a proxy war for Moscow and Constantinople

(Orthodox Times) - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gave a full-length interview to the Georgian channel TVFormula and journalist Giorgi Targamadze. The interview was broadcast on Easter Sunday, May 2, 2021.

As reported by, the Ecumenical Patriarch clarified that: “The churches of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are under the jurisdiction of the Georgian Orthodox Church. It is not right that the Russian Orthodox Church intervened.

The fact that the Moscow Patriarchate will recognize the autocephaly of Abkhazia if the Georgian Orthodox Church recognizes the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, it is blackmail with no basis.

Restoring Our Relationships: The Impact of the Pandemic and Technology on the Church and Our Society


(Antiochian) - Everyone is invited to join us for the 2021 Virtual Parish Life Conference.  This year we are spreading out the sessions over the month of June in order to make them more accessible to our summer schedules.  Please note the wonderful line up of topics and speakers, and invite everyone to join us!

Welcome to the all-virtual, all-new Parish Life Conference, brought to you by Holy Cross, Linthicum!

The PLC2021 will feature one Saturday of retreat & worship, followed by three Wednesday evening discussions, all focused on renewing our relationships with each other and Christ. Please pre-register at no charge to receive the Zoom link for each individual event.


Inaugural Saturday: June 12

9:00am - Opening Keynote: "Be the Salt" by Fr. John Parker, Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary
5:30pm - Diocesan Wide Vespers

Your parish is invited to celebrate Vespers at 5:30 PM this one Saturday, so that we may all lift our voices up in prayer at the same time, even if we can’t physically be together. Even if your parish celebrates Vespers at a different time, please plan to attend so that our prayers may be united in God’s eternal time. If you are unable to join your local parish, visit Holy Cross, the host parish, virtually, for the live-stream of this service.​

7:30pm - Closing Keynote: "The Gift of Identity: Finding Ourselves in Christ" by Steven Christoforou and Christian Gonzalez, Y2AM of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Based on the themes introduced in PCCH’s episode 99, Steve & Christian will focus on modern concepts of “the self”, how our true self differs from our curated self, and the gift of identity that we receive through Christ.​

Initial Wednesday: June 16

7:30pm - His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH and His Grace, Bishop THOMAS

Our Hierarchs will speak to our relationships with each other in the context of the Church and our relationship with Christ. Their words will be followed by a question and answer period.
Middle Wednesday: June 23

7:30pm - "Exalting the Valley of Accessibility" by Summer Kinard, Author of of Such is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability

“Disability is not a boundary to holiness, because God is with us.” Summer will expand on this thought and provide an interactive workshop focusing on how we can be a more inclusive community of God, incorporating people of all abilities and backgrounds in our worship and activities.

Final Wednesday: June 30

7:30pm - “Restoring Our Relationships: The Impact of the Pandemic and Technology on the Church and Our Society”

Panel Discussion with Erik Hadden, LCPC; Dn. Marek Simon, OCF Executive Director; Terry Mattingly, Syndicated Columnist & Senior Fellow for the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi

Friday, May 7, 2021

Orthodoxy Questions Answered series from Rochester parish

"How Greek can we make this intro?" "Hold my ouzo, Yorgos."

This is a fun series. Very conversational and flows well. Watch a video or two of theirs and tell me what you think. I think people enjoy this podcast-like format and hope to see more parishes doing it.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Romanians build world's largest icon screen

(Basilica) - The Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral, also known as the National Cathedral, an Orthodox cathedral under construction in Bucharest, Romania, to serve as the patriarchal cathedral of the Romanian Orthodox Church, has a giant Orthodox iconostasis (23.8 meters length and 17.1 meters height and an area of 407 square meters), which sets the new world record for the Largest Orthodox Iconostasis, according to the World Record Academy.

The National Cathedral’s iconostasis was realized in 2018 by artist and mosaicist Daniel Codrescu and his team with Orsoni Venezia 1888 enamels and golds.

The World’s Largest Orthodox Iconostasis is made entirely of mosaic and fresco in Byzantine style. The iconostasis has 45 icons placed on four registers. It will be covered with mosaic on both sides, having over 800 square metres of mosaics.

When completed, the cathedral will also have the largest mosaic collection (interior decoration) in the world (~25,000 sqm), the World Record Academy notes.

The dome of the altar includes the largest depiction of the Platytera Mother of God in Romania, having 16 metres from the base to the top of the halo.

The National Cathedral was consecrated 100 years after Romania’s Great Union and is dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord – Heroes’ Day and to Saint Andrew the Apostle, Protector of Romania.

In figures

The 120-meter-high cathedral will be equipped with 8 lifts. The bells of the cathedral have a total weight of 33 tons and are placed at a height of 60 meters.

The National Cathedral has 28 bronze doors with iconographic representations. These will be coordinated by a computerized system that will command the automatic opening of the doors in case of alarm. The Cathedral also has a total of 392 windows.

In the altar, at the foot of the Holy Table is placed a list with over 350,000 names of the known Romanian heroes, but also fragments of the relics of the Holy Brâncoveanu Martyrs and Niculițel Martyrs.

More than 110 million euros have been invested in part finished building. Currently, iconography works are being done inside, plastering and stone cladding on the outside. Work is being done at the basements and exterior spaces of the cathedral.

"A Protestant Visits an Antiochian Orthodox Church"

narthex när´thĕks [key], entrance feature peculiar to early Christian and Byzantine churches, although also found in some Romanesque churches, especially in France and Italy. Usually extending across the entire west front of the building, it was a vestibule for the penitents and catechumens who were not admitted to the church proper. The narthex was either enclosed within the building (often separated from the nave by a mere screen of columns) or consisted of an exterior colonnaded or arcaded portico. In the latter case it was sometimes merely a continuation of the atrium, as in a number of Italian basilical churches, including the original basilica (4th cent.) of St. Peter's Church, Rome. The inner narthex was particularly characteristic of the monastic churches, where admission was restricted. In churches having both types of narthex, as in Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (originally a Christian church), the outer one is termed exonarthex. With the growth of unrestricted entry into the churches, the narthex served no further ritual purpose after the 13th cent. The deeply recessed portals of Gothic cathedrals are derivatives of the narthex.
narthex (n.) "porch at the west end of early churches," the end furthest from the sanctuary (used by penitents not admitted to the body of the church), 1670s, from Late Greek narthex, in classical Greek "giant fennel," a word of unknown origin, perhaps Pre-Greek. The architectural feature allegedly was so called from the fancied resemblance of the porch to a hollow stem. The word also was used in Greek to mean "a small case for unguents, etc." According to Hesiod ("Theogeny"), Prometheus conveyed fire from Heaven to Earth in hollow fennel stalks. Related: Narthecal.