Friday, July 23, 2021

No need to understand Romanian to understand this video

Spree of church burnings in Canada continues

(National Review) - Members of the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, British Columbia, were shocked to discover that the church burned to the ground on Monday morning, the latest in a rash of church burnings and vandalism across Canada in recent weeks. I am still surprised this isn't front page news everywhere. Also shocked a bit to see some people who should know better advocating for further destruction.

“It’s been an extremely tragic and difficult event for us to grasp and to wrap our heads around,” Steven Faltas, a board member for St. George, told National Review. “Somewhere between 300 and 400 families attended this church quite regularly, with nearly daily services and activities being offered. So for it to overnight not be there anymore has been extremely difficult for us to deal with and to absorb.”

Several churches have burned to the ground in Canada in recent weeks, with additional churches and a statue of St. John Paul vandalized. The incidents were perpetrated from British Columbia all the way to Nova Scotia.

The burnings and vandalism began after First Nation tribes discovered unmarked graves at the sites of former so-called Indian residential schools. These schools were established in the 1830s to assimilate indigenous children into Canadian society, and some continued to operate until the 1990s.

Results from Romanian Church's Synod

(Romanian Patriarchate) - The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church met for its working session under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel at “Patriarch Teoctist” Aula Magna of the Patriarchal Palace on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

The Holy Synod resolved the following:

  1. To include the name of Saint Nikephoros the Leper in the calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church on January 4 and to approve the Saint’s synaxarion, troparion, kontakion, service, Akathist and Supplicatory Canon.
  2. To approve the decision of the Standing National Church Council of March 4, 2021, regarding the incompatibility of the clerical service with public positions and/or dignities, in accordance with the decision of the Holy Synod no. 1676 of March 6, 2008, which states that “bishops, priests, deacons, monks and nuns of the Romanian Orthodox Church are prohibited from holding positions of an official / civil servant at the central or local level in the Romanian state or in other states.”
  3. The Holy Synod reminded that, according to the holy canons, the ordinations to the ranks of deacon and priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church can be performed by the diocesan bishop only for parishes and monasteries in the diocese he pastors according to the statutory provisions. The hierarch who will ordain a candidate belonging to another diocese than the one he pastors, without the consent of the hierarch from whom the candidate comes, will be sent to the trial of the first hierarchical Consistory, and the ordination will be declared invalid.
  4. To approve the establishment of two new parishes for the Romanian Orthodox communities in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Both parishes will be under the direct authority of the Romanian Patriarchate. Are Romanians doing this with local permission or separate from it?
  5. The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has noted with concern the recent attempts to implement “sex education” as mandatory in the Romanian education system, as well as the European Parliament resolution of June 24, 2021, on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and related rights in the EU in the frame of women’s health (Matić Report). The Romanian Patriarchate reaffirms its position on maintaining the optional nature of classes on “education for life” and warns against the risks of a “sex education” with an ideological content contrary to the values of the Christian family and inappropriate for the age of children.

"The Rising Tide of Religious Nationalism"

(EA) - Members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America participated in the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C. from July 13-15. Archbishop Elpidophoros, Chair of the Assembly, delivered remarks entitled “The Rising Tide of Religious Nationalism,” as a featured speaker of the summit (read the full text here and below).

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros

Address for the International Religious Freedom Summit, 2021

“The Rising Tide of Religious Nationalism”

July 15, 2021

It is a great privilege to be with you today, and I want to express the appreciation of the Greek Orthodox Church of America – a province of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Mother Church of Eastern Christianity – for the exceptional work of the International Religious Freedom Summits. The partner and supporting entities bear witness to the inclusive and the comprehensive nature of the vision for human liberty and freedom of conscience we seek to enhance around the globe.

I shall commence the subject of my remarks, with the following observation. “Religious Nationalism” is only one side of the coin. There is also “Nationalistic Religion.”

Much like the terms “Caesaropapism” and “Papocaesarism,” that described the tensions between political and ecclesial autocracies of centuries past, the interests of the State and those who desire some form of “theocracy” are seldom aligned.

The shoreline where these rising tides appear is a very long one, with diverse landscapes. Here in the United States, we have witnessed – especially in recent years – how independent religious bodies with charismatic leaders are using the public, political sphere to advance their own agendas. This is a clear case of “Nationalistic Religion,” where identity politics are incorporated into a religious entity in order to advance a religious agenda. Should such a tide rise to an undue influence – either in the legislative, judicial, or executive branches of government, it would challenge the very idea of the First Amendment, and the non-establishment clause concerning religion.

On the other hand, we could look at some aspects of modern Iran, and find a distinct brand of “Religious Nationalism,” a full-blown attempt at theocracy by a seeming majority. But to see a spiritual basis for the State is to create a stratification of society along religious lines, a spiritual apartheid, if you will. The result is a monolithic society unyielding to diversity.

When you elevate one religion above all others, it is as if you decide there is only one path leading to the top of the mountain. But the truth is you simply cannot see the myriads of paths that lead to the same destination, because you are surrounded by boulders of prejudice that obscure your view. What an odd thing to say as the voice of Orthodoxy in America. What an odd thing to say given the Constantinopolitan-Byzantine origins of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Are there other paths?

Finally, there is a hybrid of the two, as in the case of the Russian Federation and the post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church. The painful history of the Church under the communist regime came to a sudden and stunning halt with the fall of the Iron Curtain.

However, even as the Russian Federation morphed into its present form, the newly freed Russian Orthodox Church struggled to rebuild its place in society. Its cooperation and support of the State has been a way to regain its former glories. Yet, it is the state itself that has benefited from the “Religious Nationalism” created by the reborn Orthodox Church within its borders. Precisely because the Moscow Patriarchate maintains much of the contours of the old Soviet Union. The close relationship between the state Foreign Ministry and the Church Department of External Relations is well known. I mean, except for the sudden halting in killing thousands of clergy, turning churches into warehouses, and constantly claiming "there is no God." Otherwise, it's the same thing. Totally.

Through the networks of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Russian Federation is able to exert influence in the new nation-states that emerged after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Ukraine is a case in point, where a local Orthodox Church was established, legally and canonically, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, yet the Moscow Patriarchate continues to maintain its own entity. This is clearly in the interests of the Russian Federation which benefits as much, if not more, from its “Religious Nationalism” as the Church does from its “Nationalistic Religion.” Silly Russians. When the EP unilaterally sets up a new local Church 'legally and canonically," it's fine. When the Russian state funds pre-existing parishes and monasteries it's nationalism.

These few examples – painted in broad strokes – highlight the kinds of exigencies that we are facing. By promoting one religion above others, states create an oversized monolith in the public square that de facto (and sometimes de jure) excludes the citizenry who do not conform to that religious point of view.

For the religious entity, the material advantages of state-sponsorship should be far-outweighed by the cost to the ethical, moral, and spiritual core of the faith tradition – anyfaith tradition. To put it in specifically Christian terms: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Throughout history, every religious body has had to face the choice of ‘rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.’ Can this be read in any other way than to say that the Russian Church has imperiled its soul by... rebuilding the Church. The Church of Greece is financed by whom?

So how do we overcome these tides that seem to inexorably rise over time?

First, we must confess that such monoliths are not consistent with a modern, pluralistic, and emergent world. Democracy still finds a way in the imagination of peoples who yearn for liberty. That is why the cultivation of indigenous democratic forms of government – not the imposition from without – is an answer for both the state and the religious culture. Because even a homogenous religious culture is dependent on the individual’s freedom, in order for faith to be genuine and not coercive.

Second, we can accept that the historical journeys of any people possess complex and complicated markers that, if respected, create seawalls that hold back the troubling and troublesome tides. Allow me to close with a recent and very relevant example from the nation of my birth.

Last year, in this very month of July, the most iconic edifice of Orthodox Christianity – the Hagia Sophia in modern Istanbul, had its status withdrawn and was re-converted into a mosque. This Church was the largest Church in the world in the first millennium of Christianity. The end of the Roman Empire in 1453 changed its use, as has happened throughout history to many religious edifices.

But when the Turkish state emerged a century ago, it was deemed that such a unique and potent symbol should emanate an inclusive message, one that served the interests of all the citizens. Thus, the Hagia Sophia became a museum. For the Orthodox Christian world, this was not the best solution, but it was a vision for a future that included the incredible historical journey of Anatolia, not just one phase of that journey. We see in this re-conversion how the tide rose. And we see in those that called this crisis out, the effort to stem the tide.

My fellow laborers in the field of human freedom and inclusivity, I have outlined only some of the shores against which the tides of “Religious Nationalism” and “Nationalistic Religion” are crashing. Our best seawalls are going to be built out of cooperative efforts to instill democracy and freedom of conscience around the globe. This Summit is a most significant building block in that wall, and I thank you for your attention today and for your service to this mission.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Romanian Church martyrological factoids

(Basilica) - The Romanian Orthodox Church, by the decision of the Holy Synod in 1992, set aside the second Sunday after Pentecost as a special day for the commemoration of all Romanian Saints. “The known and the unknown, those who have been canonized and included in the church calendar and those who are not listed and who have suffered in communist prisons fighting for the preservation of the Orthodox faith,” Patriarch Daniel noted last year.

In the context of this holiday, we present some interesting aspects about the Romanians who are mentioned in the calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church...

Complete article here.

Russian church reiterates opposition to surrogacy

Moscow, July 12 (Interfax) - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia appealed to the Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin with a request to support the bill banning the services of surrogate mothers for foreign citizens.

The document was submitted to the State Duma deputies on June 11.

In his address to the head of the government, the patriarch notes that the practice of using Russian surrogate mothers by foreigners has caused a number of deaths of newborn children intended for foreign "customers".

"I do not think that the ban on surrogacy for foreigners, which is illegal in most developed and many developing countries, will in any way infringe on the right of foreign citizens to receive medical care on the territory of Russia. Such "assistance" is currently being provided contrary to the goal of saving the people of Russia, proclaimed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as "the highest national priority," the patriarch stressed in a letter published by the website of the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Patriarch Kirill, the adoption of the draft law "will contribute to improving the demographic situation in Russia, will put a limit on the exploitation of the reproductive potential of Russian women by foreign states in order to reproduce their population, and will also limit crimes in this area that have signs of child trafficking."

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Saint Tikhon’s Residency in Music announced

July 1, 2021 (STOTS) - Saint Tikhon’s Monastery is pleased to announce the fall 2021 launch of a new residential Music Program. The Saint Tikhon’s Residency in Music provides comprehensive training for Orthodox church music leaders amidst the rich and demanding liturgical life of America’s oldest Orthodox monastery. Residents receive both classroom training and on-the-job experience under the expert guidance of the members of St. Tikhon’s Monastery music staff as well as nationally renown guest faculty.

The Music Program is a combination of monthly topical weekend workshop intensives and residency training. The weekend intensives are open to the public, starting Friday evenings and ending Sunday afternoons. Non-resident participants may choose to attend one, several, or all of the weekend intensives. Techniques and skills are presented and briefly coached in the weekend intensives. Residents are then given the opportunity to implement the techniques and skills presented in the intensives as leaders-in-training of services and ensembles at St. Tikhon’s Monastery. 

Weekend Intensive topics include: Conducting Technique, Music Theory & Score Analysis, Vocal & Ensemble Technique, How to Train Beginner Musicians, Choral Literature & Church Music History, Composing & Arranging, Ensemble Administration, and the Memorial Day Pilgrimage Festival Choir. 

Residency training includes: the 8 Tones, Order of Service, Ear Training, Keyboard Skills,  Spirituality, Finale! software, Composition class, Vocal Performance class, Conducting class, Service & Rehearsal Prep coaching, Sacred Music Seminar, and Spirituality.

Residents will also have the opportunity to contribute to the many exciting musical projects happening at St. Tikhon’s including the Grammy-nominated Saint Tikhon Choir, the St. Tikhon’s Music Resource online music catalogue, the arrangement of new settings of hymnography, and the publication of new music collections.

The program begins in October 2021 with the first weekend intensive. Entrance exam, auditions, and admissions interviews will occur during weekend intensives. To be put on the mailing list and be kept up to date on program news and registration information email the directors at sttikhonsmusic@gmail.com.

Synod makes clear who is going to be Bishop of Alaska

(OCA-AK) - July 2, 2021 Protocol 07/004

The HOLY SYNOD

of the

ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA

The Very Reverend Innocent Dresdow, Chancellor Diocese of Alaska

7031 Howard Avenue

Anchorage, AK 99504-1899

Dear Father Innocent,

May the Lord God bless!

At its regular Spring 2021 Session, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America directed His Grace Bishop Alexis to call a Special Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of Alaska for the sole purpose of nominating a candidate as Diocesan Bishop. As you know, this Special Diocesan Assembly is scheduled for Saturday, August 7, 2021.

With this letter, I communicate to you the following, and I ask that you please make it known to every parish in the Diocese of Alaska: The only candidate who is fully vetted by the Holy Synod is His Grace Bishop Alexis, who has served the Diocese of Alaska first as Administrator while Archbishop David of blessed memory was alive, and now as Locum Tenens since the repose of His Eminence.

If you or other members of the Diocese have questions relating to this matter, please contact me. Devotedly yours in His service,

+Michael

Archbishop of New York and New Jersey Secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Ordination of Bishop Gerasim of Fort Worth

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Orthodox Patriarchal Military Divine Liturgy

Monday, June 28, 2021

ROCOR Studies: The Relationship of the OCA and ROCOR

I'd say the number one question I've been asked over the years is "When will there be Orthodox unity in America?" And my answer is always the same: "If ROCOR and MP and OCA can't be unified, how do you imagine the Antiochians, Greeks, and Russians could achieve unity?" I look forward to reading this paper.


(ROCOR Studies) - The Relationship of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and ROCOR from 1950 to the Present According to Documents in the OCA Archives by Alexis Liberovsky, (Archivist, Orthodox Church in America, Director – Office of History & Archives)

This paper will provide an overview of the main historical events in the relations of the North American Metropolia, which, after receiving autocephaly in 1970, became the Orthodox Church in America, with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) from 1950 to the present day, mainly on the basis of materials preserved in the Archives of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).  The OCA Archives is the official repository for inactive records transferred from the chancery of its Primate for permanent preservation and provides access to historians for scholarly research.  Through these official church administrative files, the evolution of relations between the Metropolia/OCA and ROCOR can be traced over this period, from conflicts and disagreements surrounding the granting of autocephaly to the OCA to the joyous and unifying restoration of Communion within the Russian Church in 2007 and the resulting renewal of fraternal ties between the OCA and ROCOR.  Among the historical documents concerning ROCOR in the OCA Archives there are well-known public statements, bilateral correspondence between the first hierarchs and their staffs on various issues, as well as internal documentation on various aspects of the relationship of the OCA with ROCOR.  The files on ROCOR in the OCA Archives also include numerous articles clipped from both ecclesiastical and secular periodicals and even whole journals and booklets that document ROCOR activity, its statements and inter-Church relations. In summation, this paper will endeavor to draw conclusions from the bilateral relations of the last 70 years and to contemplate their potential to contribute to the growth of the Holy Orthodox Church on the North American continent to the greater Glory of God.

A Syriac-Antiochian reunion?

(OCP) - Patriarch John X of Antioch has urged unity with the Syriac Orthodox Church. The Primate of the Antiochian Greek Orthodox Church was speaking at the consecration ceremony of the Syriac Orthodox Archbishops in Lebanon (25/6/21). Patriarch said he was hopeful in evading obstacles to achieve unity with the Syriac Church.

According to a report published by the official portal of the Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarch John X in his speech stated that “I assure Your Holiness that your celebration is ours. When I heard the Homologia, except for the part about the ecumenical councils, I felt as if I am declaring my faith as a Greek Orthodox.” “Allow me, Your Holiness, to consider with you this day as a decision to relaunch the Joint Committee between our two Churches to continue its serious work and to increase its efforts to remove all remaining obstacles in face of our unity.” Together, we may give common witness for our one Orthodox Faith to our Christian communities but also to the whole world.”

After the concentra
tion ceremony, Patriarch John presented the newly ordained Archbishops with staves and gifts.

Virtual Orthodox Arts Festival set for September

(OAJ) - Although the arts play an inextricable part in the embodiment of Orthodox faith and culture, it is rare, at least in the anglophone world, to find events that draw together artists from a variety of disciplines into a single international event in support of their work. Indeed, the effort and support necessary for the organization and realization of such an endeavor is immense. So we can only be grateful to those who have taking the initiative and given of themselves to collaborate in launching the Orthodox Arts Festival.

The fields represented by the festival include Iconography, Fine Arts, Architecture, Photography, Film, Church Music, and Literature. All of the works are based on Orthodox Christian ideas, culture, and values. According to the event’s mission statement:

“The Orthodox Arts Festival is an online event devoted to Orthodox Christian Artists that takes place every year. Our goal is straightforward. To provide possibilities for all active Orthodox Artists, as well as to share their combined creativity and inspiration with the rest of the world. Our Inspirational sparks are as different as our places of origin, yet we are bonded by our shared love of Orthodoxy and the arts…We aim, by the Grace of God, to inspire the souls of our fello
w human beings and deepen their relationship with the Orthodox Christian faith…”

The online event will run September 17-21, 2021. A major component of the event will consist of exhibitions of the accepted participants’ artworks on the most advanced virtual reality gallery platforms available today. Orthodox artists are invited to submit their entries through the event’s website. The online entry forms are available in the section “Taking Part” in their respective categories. Artists must submit their digital entry form by August 1, 2021, at the latest.

The artworks of accepted participants in the categories of Fine Art, Iconography, Church Music, and Literature will also be juried, and Awards of Excellence will be distributed to the winners. Recipients of Fine Art & Iconography Awards will be invited to showcase their works exclusively online, where Chanters, Authors, and Poets will receive free of charge promotion of their work online for a year.

The eminent Orthodox artists and professionals comprising the judging panel include: Ioannis Antoniadis, Andrew Gould, Aidan Hart, Jonathan Jackson, Nektaria Karantzi, Dr. Katerina Karoussos, Paul Kingsnorth, George Kordis, Annita Patsouraki, and Vasilis Tsabropoulos.

The Orthodox Arts Festival is blessed and supported by his Eminence Archbishop of Thyateira & Great Britain Nikitas and the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Mission Abroad. For more information please visit the event’s website.

Orthodox Arts Festival

Diocese of Alaska begins nomination process of new hierarch

Will it be Bishop Alexis or Gerasim? Thoughts?


(OCA-AK) - A Special Assembly of The Diocese of Sitka and Alaska will take place on August 7, 2021 at St. Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage.  Metropolitan TIKHON will preside over the one-day assembly during which the clergy and delegates will nominate a new reigning hierarch for the diocese.  Bp. DANIEL of the Diocese of the West will also be in attendance. The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America will then make the final decision as to who will fill the vacancy.

Sampson the Innkeeper

He was commemorated yesterday (NC) and decided I just had to do a bit of research based on the appellation alone. He is also called Sampson the Hospitable. And his name is also sometimes spelled Samson.


(Abba Moses) - He is counted as one of the Holy Unmercenary Physicians. "This saint was born of rich and eminent parents in ancient Rome, where he studied all the secular wisdom of that time, devoting himself in particular to the study of medicine. Sampson was a compassionate and liberal physician, and gave the sick medicine for both soul and body, counselling each man to fulfill the requirements of the Christian faith. He moved to Constantinople, where he lived in a tiny house from which he distributed alms, comfort, advice, hope, medicine and all possible aid to those suffering in spirit and in body. The Patriarch heard of Sampson's great virtue and ordained him priest.

At that time the Emperor Justinian the Great became ill with what his doctors believed to be an incurable disease. The Emperor prayed with great fervor, and God revealed to him in his sleep that Sampson would heal him. When the Emperor summoned Sampson to court, the old man had only to put his hand on the diseased place and the Emperor was healed. 

When Justinian offered him an immense sum of money, Sampson thanked him but would accept nothing, saying to the Emperor: 'O Emperor, I had silver and gold and other riches, but I left it all for the sake of Christ, that I might gain heavenly and eternal wealth.' When the Emperor insisted on doing something for him, Sampson asked him to build a house for the poor. In that home, Sampson cared for the poor as a father cares for his children. His compassion for the poor and weak was second nature to him.

This holy man, filled with heavenly power and goodness, entered peacefully into rest on June 27th, 530. He was buried in the Church of the Holy Martyr Mocius, his kinsman. After his death, Sampson appeared many times to those who called upon him for aid."

Another resource offers a little more...

Saint Samson was from Rome and flourished during the reign of Saint Justinian the Great. Being a physician, he came to Constantinople, where he so distinguished himself for his virtue and his love for the sick and the poor that Patriarch Menas ordained him priest. The Emperor Justinian was healed by him, and out of gratitude built him a large hospital, which was afterwards known as "The Hospice of Samson." Saint Samson is one of the Holy Unmercenaries.

Apolytikion of Samson the Hospitable - Plagal of the Fourth Tone

In thy patience thou hast won thy reward, O righteous Father. Thou didst persevere unceasingly in prayer; thou didst love the poor, and didst provide for them in all things. Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God, O blessed and godly-minded Samson, that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of Samson the Hospitable - Second Tone

We come together, praising thee with hymns and psalms, O righteous one, as an unrivalled physician and as an intercessor pleasing unto God; O divinely-wise Samson, ever having recourse to thy godly shrine for help, we glorify Christ Jesus, Who gave thee the grace to work thy cures.