Sunday, January 29, 2023

Moscow accused of making imaginary parallel Orthodoxy

(GOA-AU) - His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia took part in a particularly interesting discussion, with the participation of distinguished speakers in which the subject of the Autocephalous regime of the Ukrainian Church and Russian war against Ukraine was discussed.

The discussion was held as part of the Round Table Evening entitled “Ukraine – Autocephaly and the war that changed the world”, which was organised on Tuesday, 24 January 2023, in Athens, by the Organisation for the Promotion of Greek and Orthodox Culture “AENAOS”.

During the Evening event, where the religious, theological, political and geopolitical implications of the above issue were discussed, whilst videotaped addresses of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa were also played.

His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, who was one of the keynote speakers at the First Round Table, emphasised in his address that “what is happening today are the consequences of an ill ecclesiological situation, which is not current”. “From 1433 until today, the Russians have tried to surround every illegality they commit and every Babylonian dream of expansion they have with spirituality and supposed canonicity. When in 1448 they seceded from the Patriarchate, electing from the local Synod the Metropolitan of Kyiv, they claimed that they did so because Isidore, who had been elected by Constantinople, was a unionist; He participated in the Council of Ferrara-Florence. This was just an easy excuse to cover their canonical misconduct. Because in 1433, and of course before the election of Isidore, they had elected Jonah as Metropolitan of Kiev, again schismatically and fragmentedly, without asking the Ecumenical Patriarchate”, he underlined.

“Now the Moscow Church,” His Eminence continued, “is blessing an expansive war, which is theologically and canonically impermissible. But they have found the justification again. They go into Ukraine to de-demonise it. They create war in order to drive out the devil and all the evil that comes from the West. And unfortunately, Patriarch Kirill in his sermons distorts both the Gospel and Orthodox Theology. He presented the example of God, who gave his Son to the world to be sacrificed. And addressing the Russians, he called on them to sacrifice themselves in the war against Ukraine. He promised them paradise and sainthood if they martyr for their homeland. Here, as you understand, we are talking about ecclesiastical perversion. The Church of Russia behaves like an ecclesiastical underworld. They try to enshrine everything spiritually and theologically, but this cannot be achieved.”

Furthermore, the Archbishop of Australia discerned that the current events in the territory of Ukraine are not the consequences of the granting of the Autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but the consequences of an ill thought, which should concern us. “Our Russian brethren live at the level of a parallel ecclesiastical reality. And what they have been doing for years, is having created a parallel Orthodoxy. You all should know that they will never keep up with the rest of the Orthodox world. Their plan is to dominate, with all that entails. I am a little disappointed on a personal level that some Churches are not responding. They tolerate the new theology of war, they tolerate the expansionist policy of Moscow and above all they accept the ecclesiastical distortion that is being created. Don’t the Churches see what is happening in ecclesiastical becoming? Moscow is trying to create a parallel Orthodox world, which has nothing to do with the real Orthodox world. And we tolerate all this and bless it with our silence”, he concluded.

In the discussions of the Evening Round Table, together with His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, were the former Vice-President of the Greek Government and Professor of Constitutional Law, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, Their Eminences Metropolitan Grigorios of Cameroon, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia, Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia and Metropolitan Ieronymos of Larissa, the Journalist and Publisher of the “Stepa” Periodical, Mr. Dimitris Triantafyllidis, the Journalist of ANTENNA TV, Mr. Nikolas Vafiadis, and the Journalist of the INSIDESTORY.GR website, Mr. Tasos Telloglou. The discussions were moderated by the Journalist Mr. Andreas Loudaros, the Journalist and President of  the Journalists’ Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers, Ms. Maria Antoniadou, and the Journalist of the OPEN TV television station, Ms. Adamantia Lioliou.

EP hierarchs in US meet in LA

(EP) - On Saturday, January 28, 2023, the First Synaxis of Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the USA convened in Los Angeles, California, under the presidency of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The hierarchs, twelve in all, represent the Orthodox ecclesiastical eparchies under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, namely the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, as well as the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox and Albanian Orthodox dioceses.  

“As leaders of our communities at every level, we have the responsibility and privilege to voice the concerns of the Ecumenical Throne, and to provide advocacy for Her interests,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said in his opening remarks. He called the Synaxis an additional opportunity for the hierarchs to engage with one another and share their ideas: 

“Most, if not all, of you have participated in the wonderful Synaxēs of the Ecumenical Throne at the Phanar. When His All-Holiness assembles us, it is a tremendous opportunity to exchange ideas and perspectives with our fellow brethren of Asia Minor, as well as the bishops of the worldwide Diaspora. We can learn so much from each other if we are open to fresh viewpoints. That is why, since we are meeting as the Assembly of Bishops, I thought it providential and prudent for us to gather in a Synaxis, as Hierarchs in the United States of the First Throne of Orthodoxy.”

Monday, January 23, 2023

Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) has reposed

(OCA) - His Grace Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald), retired bishop of the Diocese of the West, fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday, January 22, 2023.

Additional information will be posted as it is received.

May Bishop Tikhon’s memory be eternal!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

New "Wisdom on Wheels" video series launched

Friday, January 13, 2023

... and then there were THREE!

Also, a bit sad to see "deaconate" in the CVs.

( - Hundreds of clergy and laity from across the Antiochian Archdiocese gathered for the Special Convention on Jan. 13, 2023 in Dallas, Texas to nominate three candidates for the office of Metropolitan of New York and All North America.

His Eminence Metropolitan Antonios, Patriarchal Vicar, presided, conveying the love and blessings of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, praying that the Holy Spirit would guide the delegates in their discernment.

"You meet to send the names of three nominees as candidates to the care and wisdom of the Holy Synod," His Beatitude said in his statement read aloud at the convention. "The Synod is entrusted to ask the Great Shepherd of our souls to guide our Antiochian Church in choosing an Archbishop to shepherd the Archdiocese during the coming phase, which, as we all discern, shall be full of challenges in a turbulent world. For this, I ask with you the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos, Saints Peter and Paul the founders of the Church of Antioch, and Saint Raphael of Brooklyn to guide the works of your Special Convention."

"Beloved in Christ, I thank the Lord for giving me the chance to be with you and for that he endowed us with the blessings of being together and preparing with the board of trustees and the temporary committee this very important special convention," Sayidna Antonios said in his report.

Each voting delegate cast one ballot, choosing from among nine candidates. The nominees, listed in alphabetical order by first name, are:

His Eminence has submitted these names to His Beatitude who will share them with the Holy Synod of Antioch in consideration of their election of the next Metropolitan at a meeting in the future.

"His Beatitude sends you all his love, adding that we are one family and one church," Sayidna Antonios told the assembly. "He is very proud of you and this Special Convention. He is proud of the bishops, clergy and parishes of this great archdiocese. He was happy to know this Special Convention was a great manifestation of the love of the Lord, the Church, the Archdiocese and the Antiochian See."

Monday, January 9, 2023

The ever-revised Greek Archdiocesan Charter

(GOARCH) - His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is currently participating in the regularly scheduled session of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Holy and Sacred Synod for the month of January (10-12). Upon the conclusion of this synodal session — under the chairmanship of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew — the very first meeting of the Mixed Commission on the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (“Mixed Commission”) will take place at the Ecumenical Patriarchate on January 13th. 

As an Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been granted five Charters over the course of its century-long history in the United States (most recently in 2003). This process has always been conducted with the utmost care, concern, meticulousness, and prudence, to address the contemporary pastoral needs of the Church with each passing era. Except, of course, most recently when it was unilaterally suspended by the archbishop and then had to be put back into place by patriarchal dictate when a new one was never enacted. While celebrating the 2022 Centennial Year of the Sacred Archdiocese of America, and in conjunction with the July 2022 Clergy-Laity Congress in New York City, the voices of our faithful were heard at a Plenary Charter Session attended by all the delegates, clergy, and laity. It was recognized that a fresh vision must be implemented to preserve and perpetuate the ongoing spiritual development and well-being of the Archdiocese and its Christ-loving flock. Fresh vision has a lot to do with who holds the power and who loses it. Will the GOA become a single ruling hierarch with auxiliaries or will it bring in real synodality? If you see the word "Omogenia" over and over in the new documents, it is not so much an issue of "freshness," but of shoring up Hellenic identity.

To this end, the Ecumenical Patriarchate formed the Mixed Commission to review the Charter’s current text to help meet the present-day spiritual development and practical needs of an ever-evolving Greek Orthodox community in America. An esteemed body of highly distinguished hierarchs, clergy, and laity representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Sacred Archdiocese of America has been tasked with leading this effort. 

At their first meeting, the members of the Mixed Commission will begin their deliberations on how the future Charter can best meet the needs of the Greek Orthodox faithful in the United States as our Sacred Archdiocese embarks on its second century. 

On the treatment of the UOC

(UOC) - On 5 January 2023, Archbishop Theodosios of Sebastia, an hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, stated during a meeting with the delegation of the Polish Orthodox Church that Christians of the entire world ought to condemn the persecutions which the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was being subjected to. informs about it, the Information and Education Department of the UOC reports.

‘Where is the whole Orthodox world now to condemn the persecutions which the UOC is being subjected to? We still have not heard definite attitudes in spite of the calls and messages sent by her hierarchs’, pointed out Archbishop Theodosios.

The hierarch underlined that the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem did not recognise the ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’.

‘We do not recognise the uncanonical and illegitimate organisation created in Ukraine under political pressure, which we all know about, and we recognise only the canonical UOC headed by Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv’, he emphasised.

According to him, if the ‘church dilemma’ which has emerged in Ukraine is not resolved, it will affect the whole Orthodox world, the situation in which will become ‘ever worse and worse’.

The hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem added that the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem prayed God for the end of the war in Ukraine.

‘We pray for the resolution of the present crisis, so as to restore accord, unity and to heal the wound from which everyone is suffering’, summarised Archbishop Theodosios.

Friday, January 6, 2023

EP hosts intl. conference on First Council of Nicaea

(EP) - His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew opened with his extensive address on 1 December, 2022, the two-day International Conference entitled: “Πιστεύομεν. The Status Quaestionis and the Neglected Topics of Nicaea and its Creed”. The Congress held in view of the completion of 1700 years since the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in the year 2025, was placed under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and organized in collaboration with the Italian Foundation “Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose”. Hierarchs and distinguished researchers from various Christian Churches and Confessions participated and presented papers.

ADDRESS By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

At the International Conference on

“WE BELIEVE: The Status Quaestionis and the Neglected Topics of Nicaea and its Creed”

(Constantinople, December 2022)


Most honorable brother Hierarchs,  

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished scholars,

Beloved conference participants,

We welcome you with great joy to this conference on “We believe: The Status Quaestionis and the Neglected Topics of Nicaea and its Creed,” which inaugurates a series of scholarly events on the occasion of the forthcoming 1700th anniversary since the convocation of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. We greet you with particular honor and profound gratitude as you have assembled from overseas in the City of Constantine and the historical Center of Orthodoxy. It is here as well as nearby the Queen of Cities that six of the seven Ecumenical Councils were held and sealed the journey of all Christendom.

In accordance with the Synaxarion of the Feast for the 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, “that a Council convened after the City was already fully constructed, to which Constantine the Great invited all those saintly men. At the directive of the Emperor, they all gathered and prayed in recognition of what was appropriately called and confirmed the Queen of Cities dedicated to the Mother of the divine Word. And afterward, each of these Saints departed for their home“. So the Fathers of Nicaea arrived in the City of Constantine, the “City of the Theotokos,” thereby prophetically sealing through their visit here its central status in the history of Christianity.

New series from the Diocese of the Midwest (OCA)

(OCA-DMW) - Archpriest Paul Jannakos interviews His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of Chicago and the Midwest about his past, present, and future as the first of a series of interviews of the diocesan chancellor with people of the diocese.

Two worthwhile articles from St. Vladimir’s Theo. Quarterly

St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly (SVTQ)—in continuous publication for nearly seventy years—has a fresh new look and format and is now under new editorial leadership: Dr Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie, Academic Dean and Professor of Church History at St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Editor-in-Chief; the Rev. Dr Bogdan Bucur, Associate Professor of Patristics, and Dr Vitaly Permiakov, Assistant Professor of Liturgical Theology, Editors; and the Rev. Ignatius Green, Editor & Production Manager of SVS Press. 

You can read two articles from a recent edition. Both links will send you to PDFs of the content.

This is a sort of panegyric for peace itself and for properly orienting yourself as Christians above all other things. It is summed up a bit in the middle of the article where it says, "We value and pray for a peaceful coexistence with the civil authorities, and do our best to preach the Gospel and promote the good life in our communities. But these secondary, political, social means can never be confused with our primary means, much less our goal. Otherwise, we risk the sins of blasphemy, idolatry, and scandal." Some say that there is no culture war going on and those that see one do so out of an ignorant fundamentalism. Others say that the Church is sitting on its hands watching as secular and nefarious forces seek to feed us lies and demand we call them truths. This article speaks to both sides with clarity.
This article far more strident in its commentary on the actions of the Moscow patriarchate than I would have imagined.  It is actually quite pointed in its condemnation of hierarchs as having a "crisis of leadership" and allowing themselves to be coopted by secular power. As an example, "... in the many cases in which Orthodox hierarchs have accepted to make common cause with totalitarian and authoritarian regimes in the promotion of ethnic pride and the regulation of public morality, too often at the expense of the freedom and dignity inherent to all those created in God’s image." You can read this either as a stalwart defender of the Russian Church or as someone who finds fault in everything done in Moscow and have something to ponder.

Time for some new calendars

Every year for Christmas I order a number of calendars. A word-of-the-day calendar, a rare/archaic word-of-the-day calendar, a Far Side calendar, and a liturgical calendar. Every priest gets a calendar from his jurisdiction with all the "fiddly bits" that most people don't need to know, but every family also needs a good - and beautiful - church calendar to put somewhere everyone can see it in their homes.

Last year we got the Beauty First Films calendar and I must say it's quite good - and beautiful. So do consider them if you haven't purchased a calendar for your home yet. They do offer them in both Old and New Calendar versions. Easy to order from Etsy.

Full disclosure: I didn't get a free calendar or anything thing from the Beauty First Films people. I just really like their work. They also do Orthodox projects like documentaries. You can see those here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Midwives get prayers too

My last child was born with the assistance of two midwives. This got me interested in the prayers related to childbirth, those for newborn babies, and for mothers on returning to church. I consulted a few of my books of needs and related texts as well as sought out a few papers on the topic. Aleksandr Andreev of the The Orthodox Pastoral School wrote a great paper entitled "A New Source for Childbirth Prayers in the Byzantine Rite" which I enjoyed tremendously. 

A few things I found quite interesting (but do read the whole paper). First, can you imagine a mother on bedrest sending her midwife to church to get the baby prayed over? I visualize a newborn in a carseat being driven (in a suitably safe vehicle like a Subaru) with much wailing - in that special way newborns wail - all the way to the church. Certainly someone is recording this on an iPhone. And the priest quickly does the prayers before the baby is sped back to the mother with all due fleetness. That's apparently what we used to do (minus the Subaru).

Based on the description of the rites (ff. 2r–30r), we can judge that Christian initiation in this tradition took place in the following manner. After the birth of an infant, prayers were read over the accouchée in the house where the birth took place. Then, at some point soon thereafter, but before the purification of the mother was completed, the infant was brought to church, where prayers were read and a temporary name was given. Since the child’s mother was seen as ritually impure, at this rite the infant was held by a midwife. On the 40th day, the mother came to church together with the infant, and prayers were read for her purification and for the infant. The block of prayers for the naming of the infant and the second churching may have been done at that time as well. Some time thereafter, the child’s baptism would follow, though no specific chronology is given here other than the typical admonition that an unhealthy infant should be baptized without delay.

Second, did you know we had prayers for midwives?

O Lord, our God, the source of blessings, who protects the infants for the sake of those who receive them, look upon this, your handmaiden Name, and, as you blessed the midwife Salome to receive (you) bodily when you accomplished the mystery of your incarnation for our sake, so also now, Master, bless this, your handmaiden, because you have shown how they should receive the infants that are fashioned by you, the work of your hands; bless also your creation, (the infant), make him (her) grow, instruct him (her), and preserve him (her) in chastity. Have mercy also on your handmaiden according to your holy name and make her worthy to enter into your holy church, to be filled with your holy things, and, together with us, to send up glory to your Father without beginning and to your all- holy, and good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. 

O Lord, our God, king of glory, who was well-pleased to have your Only-begotten Son be received by the midwife Salome and to have the mystery of your (sic) most-pure mother, the Most-Holy Theotokos, examined by her, which was accomplished for the reshaping and salvation of humankind, now also redeem and deliver your handmaiden Name from all difficult circumstance, and by the sanctification of grace enlighten her heart and cleanse her from all filth and every sin of body and soul. For we have called upon you, our God; hear us in every place of your dominion, O Lord, the God of hosts, and have mercy on her, and grant her forgiveness of transgressions in order that she may be deemed worthy of your holy and immortal mysteries and that through her may be glorified your most- holy name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages <of ages>.

Lastly, "the earliest Byzantine Greek Euchologia contain only two prayers for the occasion of childbirth: a prayer for the naming of the child on the eighth day and a prayer for the churching of the child on the 40th day." The prayers for all the other things related to childbirth existed at different times and places (Slavonic and Greek manuscripts are outlined in the paper) show a great variety in Orthodox practice.

A little kolyadka (колядка) for our Christmas cheer

From a much larger article entitled "THE ENCHANTING CHRISTMAS CAROLS OF UKRAINE AND TRANSCARPATHIA–KOLYADKI: One of these Ukrainian Christmas Carols became a legend in America" available here. Do go read it, because it's enlightening and the music is great.

In the dark night (Sleep Jesus), V temnuyu nichku, В темную нічку (Спи, Ісусе,)

It is impossible to listen to this soulful carol and truly understand the words without crying. This carol describes the Birth of Jesus, with the Mother of God singing him a lullaby about his fate. She sings to him that he will grow up and go into the world, and with time, people across the entire world will believe in him. She tells him he will save the world from death, but not before He, her newly born Son, would himself die on Golgotha.

No one could ever truly understand the fate of the Mother of God, the highest being ever created. She gave birth without corruption to God in the flesh, containing, (by His own consent), in her womb both the Creator of the universe, and her own personal Creator, Whom the heavens themselves could not contain. He was of course, before becoming her Son, the Immortal Logos of God, as he remained, but now here is a juxtaposition to marvel that immortal Logos is an infant physically not unlike other babies, and He became her baby.

Monday, January 2, 2023

An Orthodox news podcast?

Let me hear from you. I am pondering doing an Orthodox news podcast with some combination of straight news and commentary. It would probably start as audio-only and then be done on YouTube (or Vimeo or Rumble) if visuals prove to be of any value. Do you see any merit? Thoughts appreciated.

Hagiotaphite Fathers remembered at Holy Sepulchre