Friday, October 29, 2010

Repair of Holy Nativity Church in Bethlehem

It seems that the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the Armenian Orthodox Church, and the Franciscans have finally agreed to a plan of action for the restoration of the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem! Of course, the Palestinian National Authority had to force them to do it, but who's surprised :-)? More here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

St. Maximus' Relics Found in Georgia

Apparently St. Maximus the Confessor's relics have just been found in Georgia! I hadn't realized they were missing :-), but I'm glad they've turned up! More here.

OXI Day Encyclical

Archbishop Demetrius of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has issued an encyclical for tomorrow's commemoration of OXI Day in Greece.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bishop Thomas "Locum Tenens" of Midwestern America

So Metropolitan Philip has formally removed Bishop Mark from his responsibilities as his auxiliary in the Midwestern region. There were two things notable about the memo he sent out. The first was Seyidna Philip's appointment of Bishop Thomas of Charleston as "locum tenens" of the Midwestern region. Since there is only one diocesan hierarch in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America there is absolutely no need for a locum tenens (fill-in diocesan hierarch) anywhere in the Archdiocese unless Metropolitan Philip himself dies, in which case his faux "Local Synod" will be overlooked completely by the Patriarchate of Antioch when it appoints the Archdiocese's locum tenens. Metropolitan Philip may like calling the regions/districts/whatever dioceses, but they are not distinct dioceses and as such have no need for a locum tenens when they don't have an auxiliary supervising them. The second was Metropolitan Philip's institution of the normative practice concerning the commemoration of auxiliary bishops in the Midwestern region (which is to not unless they are physically present). The Midwest is the only region that has been told to follow standard procedure - every other region/former diocese has been instructed to commemorate the metropolitan as well as the auxiliary bishop supervising their area.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Transfer of Bishop Mark of Toledo

It is a joyful sadness for me to hear that Bishop Mark (Maymon) of Toledo is to be transferred from the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America to the American Orthodox Church. I'm sure he'll be missed by his former diocese, but God knows he'll be freer in his service to the faithful of the OCA. God grant him many years!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Commemoration of Father Paisius (Olaru) of Sihastria

This is a little dated, but Patriarch Daniel of Bucharest together with a number of other hierarchs recently celebrated the anniversary of the repose of Fr. Paisius (Olaru) of Sihastria. Fr. Paisius was an ordained schemamonk and also spiritual father to many. More on the commemoration can be found here. Fr. Paisius reposed on 18 October in 1990.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Wide open spaces..."

In an effort to catch up on some sleep, avert an incoming cold, and make some important life decisions I'm spending my three-day weekend up at the family cabin in Washington's Cascade Mountains. It's been a wonderfully relaxing, calm, quiet weekend so far and I thank God for it, but the one thing that's missing is church. It's sad to me that in this day and age in North America there are still so many places without any sort of church presence at all - whether it's a parish, mission, monastic community, chapel, or whatever. I will be going to Sunday Liturgy at least, but it's going to be an hour and a half drive to get there and in the winter it would be a drive that would frequently be impossible to make because of the weather.

I'm so thankful for how far we've come and how much we've grown in Orthodoxy, but perhaps part of why we in North America aren't fully free of Old World interference in our life is that there are still so many places for our Orthodox to move, get lost spiritually, and simply disappear from the Church. The recent census has put us in our place (though I fear the numbers may still be inflated). And I hope it's not because we are so small - God knows we're still much bigger here on this continent than the Ecumenical Patriarchate is in Turkey or the Church of Jerusalem is in the Holy Lands. No, it puts us in our place because after over two hundred years of a presence here we still don't know how to reach our own people, much less the wider world around us. We need only to look at the huge numbers of Russians, Greeks, and Ethiopians in this country to know that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Holocaust Memorial Vandalized in Yerevan

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin of Echmiadzin of the Armenian Orthodox Church recently condemned the desecration of the Holocaust memorial in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, defending the rights of Armenia's ethnic minorities and also calling for solidarity between nations that have endured genocide at the hands of others.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Russian Orthodoxy in Ireland

The patriarchal Russian Orthodox diocese in Great Britain and Ireland has just erected four deaneries for its parishes and missions in Ireland. The deaneries appear more a missionary outreach than a response to pastoral needs as none have more than two communities apiece, but God willing they bode well for the future of Orthodoxy in Ireland!

Upcoming Meeting of the Metropolitan and Auxiliary Bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America

Please remember in your prayers Metropolitan Philip and auxiliary bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America this coming Friday as they gather for what I think is their first meeting since the bishops were reduced to auxiliaries and the Local Synod was (in effect) dissolved.

40th Anniversary of the OCA's Acronym Change

Apparently today marks the fortieth anniversary of the name change of the newly autocephalous Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America (ROGCCA) to being the "Orthodox Church in America." Am I embarrassed that I belong to the only Local Orthodox Church that prefers to be known by an acronym like some trendy 1970s club? Yes. Do I generally try to avoid using our sad acronym-name where possible? Yes. Am I thankful for autocephaly? Yes :-). Guess we're stuck with the acronym-name for the time being. Maybe I'll start calling myself an "OCAer Orthodox" or "OCAan Orthodox" instead of American Orthodox...

15th Anniversary of the Enthronement of Philaret (Denisenko) of Kiev

The schismatic Kiev Patriarchate is preparing to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the enthronement of its first hierarch, Patriarch Philaret (Denisenko) of Kiev and All the Ukraine, this Thursday. More here.

Patriarch Philaret was defrocked by the Russian Orthodox Church, within which he was a senior hierarch under the Soviet Yoke, for immorality and for leading part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into schism through union with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, a World War II-era creation supported by Germany, at the behest of the Ukrainian government.

Statement on the ROEA's Impending Union with the Bucharest Patriarchate

Vladica Nathaniel of the ROEA has just posted a statement on the impending absorption of his diocese into the Bucharest Patriarchate. I know of a couple of communities, one over half Romanian and the other hardly Romanian at all, that would prefer to remain part of the OCA should union occur and so one question I have in all of this is whether those communities of the ROEA that do not desire unity with the Bucharest Patriarchate will be released from the ROEA and allowed to remain in the American Orthodox Church, either as a separate non-territorial Romanian Orthodox diocese or as parts of the territorial dioceses, or forced to join the patriarchal Romanian Orthodox Church? It would be nice to see a statement on that on the ROEA's website at some point...

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) on Symphony

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk recently made some comments on church-state symphony at a consultation on Rhodes. The Moscow Patriarchate's press release can be found here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Russian Orthodoxy in Morocco

An interesting, albeit brief, overview of Russian Orthodox ecclesiastical life in Morocco has just been posted here. Enjoy!

Quote of the Day: St. Mark the Ascetic

“It is better to say a well-intentioned prayer for your neighbor than to accuse him in all types of sin.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

Elder Paisius on Thoughts

"We should keep in mind that God 'cannot' help us, even if He really wants to, unless we acquire a positive way of thinking. Concerning the spiritual progress of a disciple monk, it is more important for him to develop good thoughts than to be guided by a spiritual father who is considered a living saint..."

New Monastery in Thailand

This is a bit dated (from July), but if you're a male Orthodox Christian interested in missionary monasticism, then you may want to look into the plans for Holy Dormition Monastery in Ratchaburi province in Thailand. More here.

"A Letter to the Priest" by Fr. Thomas (Bitar)

A beautiful talk on the priesthood by Archimandrite Thomas (Bitar) of the Douma Monastery in Lebanon to the priests of the Metropolis of Tripoli can be found here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In Memoriam: Bishop Chrysostom of Sydney

I just found out that Bishop Chrysostom (Alemangos) of Sydney of the Greek Orthodox Church in Resistance reposed during a visit to Greece on 5 October. Bishop Chrysostom became a monk on Mount Athos at age fourteen and was eventually elevated to the rank of archimandrite by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for his service in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. In the 1970s Bishop Chrysostom joined the resistance against ecumenism within the Greek Orthodox Church, eventually in 1993 being elected Bishop of Sydney by the Holy Synod in Resistance. May God make his memory to be eternal!

Stolen Tabot at Westminster

The situation regarding Westminster Abbey and its stolen Ethiopian Orthodox tabot (ark) has been in the news for a while now, but I wanted to post a link to The Guardian's article on the situation for whoever hadn't heard about it. It's a complete travesty that the tabot was taken at all. Westminster's refusal to return it only compounds the outrageousness of the situation.

Metropolitan Jonah to Speak at Diocesan Assembly in Chicago

I never thought I would see the day when the first hierarch of the American Orthodox Church would address a diocesan assembly of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. And I still haven't! If all goes as planned, however, tomorrow I will have :-). More on that and the upcoming visit of the Hawai'i Icon of the Mother of God to New York here.

1,000th Anniversary of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia

Joyous feast! Today is the double feast of the Protection of the Mother of God and the Miracle of the Lord's Robe in Mtskheta in Georgia. It is also the thousandth-year anniversary of the reconstruction of the patriarchal cathedral in Mtskheta, which is dedicated to the Miracle of the Robe. The press release from the Georgian Orthodox Church about the anniversary celebrations can be found here.

Constantinopolitan Orthodox Metropolitan Sentenced to Five Years in Jail

Turkish authorities on the Princes' Islands just sentenced a metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to five years in jail for rebuilding a church they tore down in 2007 after they illegally appropriated the land around it from the Church of Constantinople. A fuller account can be found here. Some things never change...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Metropolitan Christopher of Libertyville: Forty-Day Memorial

It's hard to believe that it's already been over forty days since Metropolitan Christopher's repose :-(. God grant his memory to be eternal!

Some pictures from the forty-day memorial held by his grave at the Libertyville Monastery can be found here.

Fall Meeting of Oriental Orthodox Hierarchs in North America

I think that in the swirls of debate over the unification of the various Orthodox Christian Churches in the Americas we tend to forget the existence of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and their own cooperative work here in North America. Their organization, the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in America, just held its fall session. More can be found here.

Kursk-Root Icon to Visit Woodbury, Michigan

I don't know whether anyone in south-central Michigan reads this or not, but the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, will be visiting St. Herman of Alaska's Church in Woodbury, Michigan, next week. There'll be Vespers and an akathist on Thursday (21 October) at 6pm and, God willing, the Divine Liturgy will also be served on Friday (22 October) at 8am with the Hours preceding. More on the history of the Kursk-Root Icon can be found here.

Shepherd and Flock?

A large Ukrainian Orthodox parish in the Midwest just received its first hierarchical visit in twenty years. It's roughly five hours away from its diocesan see and is part of a diocese that comprises only twenty-five communities. It's also by no means the most geographically isolated of those communities - the local parish here in Portland, for example, definitely has it beat. And to be clear, we're talking about a visit from the diocesan bishop, not the First Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA or anything like that.

My question is this: Is this the average experience of Orthodox parishes in North America? Our parish was rather spoiled under Archbishop Job (Osacky) of thrice blessed memory as we got yearly visits from him, but I know he had a rotation set up to ensure that he visited all the communities in his diocese at least once every two (or three?) years. The Midwestern American Diocese currently consists of eighty-two communities, so that's quite a lot of travel considering that such visits usually last a couple of days. Was his emphasis on knowing his diocese an exception to the rule though? How sad if it was :-/.

40th Anniversary of the Autonomy of the Church of Japan

Many years to all the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Japanese Orthodox Church on this fortieth anniversary of its autonomy! A press release on the anniversary's celebration in Osaka is available here. A beautiful picture of the Nikolai-do, the Japanese Orthodox cathedral in Tokyo, can be found here.

The anniversary also coincides with the fortieth anniversary of the glorification of St. Nicholas the Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of Japan - may his prayers and blessings always be with us!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Serbian Orthodox Church Against Pride Parade in Belgrade

The recent statement of the Serbian Orthodox Church against the upcoming Pride Parade in Belgrade is a good example of how badly misrepresented the Church of Serbia has been in Western media. I don't think anyone's surprised to find out that the Patriarchate of Pech is against the normalization of homosexuality in Serbia (what a shock indeed! ;-) ), but the fact that in its statement on Pride the Serbian Orthodox Church also spoke out against those who would violently disrupt the parade in the name of Orthodoxy is both praiseworthy and more representative of the reality of the Serbian Orthodox Church today than the image of it that is common in the West. Whether the statement will actually have any effect on the parade's protesters remains to be seen unfortunately :-/.

New Hierarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church!

This is a bit dated, but many years to Bishop-elect Datev of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Romania! Axios! The full press release from the Patriarchate of Echmiadzin with Bishop-elect Datev's biography can be found here.

New Hierarchs of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church!

God grant many, many joyful years to Metropolitan-elect Nicephorus of Kinshasa and Central Africa and Bishop-elect John of Maputo and Mozambique! Axios! The full press release from the Patriarchate of Alexandria with pictures from the recent meeting of its full Holy Synod can be read here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The AFR Interview with Seyidna Philip and Autocephaly

As a follow-up to my last post on Ancient Faith Radio's interview with Metropolitan Philip, I must confess to find myself appalled that a hierarch of the Church of Christ could flippantly refer to having millions of dollars and to being the sole overseer of those millions. Discretionary accounts to take care of particular needs are one thing, but millions of dollars? Given to a hierarch for use in the Church? Somehow it seems like such sums should be in the Archdiocese's name, not the metropolitan's.

More and more I wonder how different Orthodoxy in the New World is from Orthodoxy in the East. Anyone who says we're not ready for autocephaly is just wrong. After all, we have all of the Old World's vices (wealthy hierarchs, the abuse of the canons, sexually abusive priests being transferred from place to place) AND also a conciliarity born of both the All-Russian Council of 1918 and the New World's democratic values. What's missing? Intercommunion with non-Orthodox? I know of at least one parish where the priest gives Communion to Episcopalians or Roman Catholics (one or the other - can't remember which) with the blessing of his bishop. So we're set! Whatever your take on everything, autocephaly is possible in our times. There's no need to wait...

AFR Interview with Seyidna Philip

It seems like everything in the Church of Antioch is about the wording. There's no concern over the reality behind the words; that can change at any moment! What's important is that everyone be happy with the wording and that the wording itself be vague enough to mean whatever every individual involved wants it to mean.

That aside, the only other generally significant thing I got out of Ancient Faith Radio's rather disappointing interview with Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) was that there is no self-rule or autonomy or whatever you want to call it for the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. There is no real local synod and the next Metropolitan of New York of the Church of Antioch will not only be confirmed by the Holy Synod, he will be elected by it too. Seyidna Philip tried to dodge the question by saying no autonomous Local Orthodox Church elects its own first hierarch, but this simply is not true - the Japanese, Ukrainian, and Finnish Orthodox Churches as well as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia are all examples of this. The choices of their local synods are subject to the ratification of their holy synods, but they do not send their holy synods lists of nominees - they send them the name of the man they have elected.

It's pretty rich that the metropolitan of one of North America's Orthodox Christian jurisdictions best known for playing fast and loose with the canons can claim that in his metropolis "we practice the canons of the Church perfectly." God help us all if that's the case! And people are surprised when clergy and laity from the Church of Antioch on this continent leave for other jurisdictions and even for schisms...anyways, the whole interview with Metropolitan Philip can be found here. Please pray for the Archdiocese, which is close to my heart (I became a catechumen in an Antiochian Orthodox parish in high school), and for Bishop Mark of Toledo, who has endured much persecution in recent years for his good conduct as a shepherd of the flock God has given him.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fourth Rome

I just realized that I've named my new blog after an inside joke and also failed to explain that joke in my first post! (It was my intention to do so - I forget things far too easily :-/.)

It's not much of a story I'm afraid! Years ago I remember reading some nut's blog about the United States being the world's "fourth Rome" in the tradition of Rome, Constantinople, and Moscow and claiming that the Orthodox Church in the USA should be first ranking within world Orthodoxy over the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, et cetera. Somehow that coupled with the yearly visits of Archbishop Job (Osacky) of thrice blessed memory to my parish in small town America grew into a parish joke about our town being the predestined seat of the patriarchate of our American "fourth Rome."

Since my posts are bound to be as kooky as the thought of our little town being the new Moscow (much less the newest Rome!) I thought I'd name this blog after our little Nova Roma :-). Short story long, that's the reasoning behind my blog's name! 'Nough said on that

Disclaimer: This blog is in no officially way representative of, affiliated with, or backed by my parish, the American Orthodox ("OCA") Diocese of Chicago and Midwestern America, or the American Orthodox Church.

Romanian Orthodoxy in North America

So it appears that the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America (ROEA) of the American Orthodox Church and the patriarchal Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Two Americas (ROAA) are ready to unite. I'm not entirely sure what convictions are guiding Archbishop Nathaniel of the ROEA in endorsing the standing proposal for union with the Bucharest Patriarchate, but if it's the dream that the new episcopal assemblies and the supposedly imminent "great and holy council" are months away from resolving the canonical issues in our existing ecclesiastical structures in the West, then I fear he's setting himself and the pro-unity clergy and faithful of his diocese up for great disappointment.

God grant me to be wrong! I do find it sad, however, that the ROEA is prepared to give away its self-governance as a part of the OCA for an autonomy under the Bucharest Patriarchate that can be rescinded at any time by its holy synod. It is by far the larger of the two Romanian Orthodox jurisdictions in North America and the original Romanian Orthodox diocese in the New World and it is ignoring both facts for a union with the diocese whose past hierarchs viciously attacked the ROEA in the press, in the courts, and in the Church at large.

God guide us all to unity...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I am very, very pleased in this second post to wish Bishop-elect Matthias (Moriak) of Chicago and Midwestern America many years! Axios! Glory to God for all things!

I wouldn't have been particularly displeased with any of the episcopal nominees being considered at the diocesan assembly, but I do think that I would have been faster to switch my loyalties over to the OCA's Western American Diocese had one of the other candidates been nominated for our diocesan cathedra :-).

A brief profile of Bishop-elect Matthias' life is available here.