Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Calls for a More Congregationalist Greek-American Church

The Greek-American newspaper The National Herald recently published an article calling for the adoption of a more Congregationalist and anti-clerical approach to parish administration and life in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The author's decidedly American Protestant views on the matter can be found here.

Perhaps with this approach implemented we could have more Greek Orthodox churches that look like the one pictured here (Holy Annunciation Church in Milwaukee, WI) in the United States? I can barely contain my excitement...

All Saints of Moscow Church in Bibirevo, Russia

It has been announced that the new church being built in the northern Moscow suburb of Bibirevo will be the largest church in Moscow and, therefore, in Russia, supplanting Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow. Size matters I guess ;-). More here.

Apostles' Relics for Veneration in Echmiadzin

On 4 December relics of the Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, the first enlighteners of the Armenian lands, will be placed in the Echmiadzin cathedral for the veneration of the faithful on their feast day. More here.

Ethiopian Monasticism Today

The CNEWA has posted an excellent article on monasticism in Ethiopia and the challenges that it has faced since the Revolution in 1974. More here.

Dalai Lama Wants to Visit Russia

The Dalai Lama wants to visit Russia, whose Kalmyks are Gelugpa/Lamaist Buddhists. More here.

Buyukada Orphanage Returned

The Turkish government has returned the deed for the Buyukada Orphanage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. More here.

A Mosque for Athens?

The controversy over the construction of a mosque in Athens, which has not had one since the expulsion of the Ottoman Turks in the 1800s, rages on. More here.

Russia Pledges $2 Million in Restoration Aid

Through an agreement with the UNESCO the Russian government has committed to providing $2 million in assistance for the rebuilding of desecrated Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches in the Albanian-controlled region of Kosovo. More here.

Pictured is what's left of the Devich Monastery in Kosovo, which was destroyed by Kosovar Albanians following the West's occupation of the region.

St. Hilda of Whitby

Joyous feast! St. Hilda is one of the great lights of the British Isles. More on her life can be found here.

May her blessings and prayers be with us all!

Quote of the Day: St. Ephraim of Syria

"If you, O man, do not forgive everyone who has sinned against you, then do not trouble yourself with fasting. If you do not forgive the debt of your brother...then you fast in vain. God will not accept you. Fasting will not help you, until you become accomplished in love and in the hope of faith. Whoever fasts and becomes angry, and harbors enmity in his heart, such a one hates God and salvation is far from him."


So for whatever reason I haven't been getting e-mails when visitors comment on posts and only now discovered a long list of comments awaiting reply. My apologies for that! I believe that I'm caught up and I'll do my best from here on out to regularly check for and reply to new comments.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mount Athos Questions Esphigmenou Visits

The Holy Community of Mount Athos has written the Ecumenical Patriarchate with concerns over recent visits of Constantinopolitan Orthodox metropolitans to the Esphigmenou Monastery, which ceased commemorating the ecumenical patriarch 38 years ago for his modernism and ecumenism and submitted to the jurisdiction of the Old Calendrist Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece (under Archbishop Kallinikos (Sarantopoulos)). The Ecumenical Patriarchate has affirmed its support for the Esphigmenou brotherhood it set up after the original brotherhood's break with Constantinople and claims it is simply exploring ways in which the schism could be healed. More on this here. More on the Esphigmenou Monastery's situation can be found here.

Kerala High Court Recommends Mediation

The Kerala High Court has asked the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church under the Antioch Patriarchate and the independent Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church under the Catholicosate of the East to resolve their differences through mediation instead of continuing their ongoing lawsuits in Kerala's courts. The High Court recommended that each jurisdiction nominate representatives to serve on a mediation committee to work towards resolving the 70 lawsuits currently in progress. More here.

Metropolitan Hilarion Comments on Estonian Situation

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has expressed his hope that as relations between the Constantinopolitan and Russian Orthodox Churches improve so too will the legal situation of the canonical Orthodox Church in Estonia, the self-governing Tallinn Eparchy of the Moscow Patriarchate. Whereas the estranged Estonian Apostolic Church under the Ecumenical Patriarchate has the right to ownership of the properties it uses for worship, the Eparchy of Tallinn can only rent its worship centers from national and local authorities. More on the situation in Estonia here.

Pictured is the Cathedral of St. Alexander of the Neva in Tallinn, EU, which serves as the seat of the Metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Quote of the Day: St. John Chrysostom

"The point is not only that we should come to church each day, that we should continually listen to one and the same thing, and that we should fast for the whole forty days. No! If If we, from continually coming here and listening to the teaching, do not acquire anything and do not derive any good for our soul from the time of the fast all this does not procure for us any benefit, but rather serves for our greater condemnation when despite such concern for us by the Church we remain...the same as before."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

St. Paisius of Moldavia

Joyous feast! A life of St. Paisius (Velichkovsky) can be found here. St. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina's thoughts on St. Paisius and his significance in modern Orthodoxy can be found here.

God help you with the start of the Prophets' Fast!

Pope Shenouda Votes for the Wafd

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of Alexandria has cast his vote for the opposition Wafd Party in the Egyptian parliamentary elections instead of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). The rift with the government comes after the latter's attempts to stop construction of a new church in Giza and riots by Copts that followed. More here.

Quote of the Day: St. Basil the Great

"By fasting it is possible both to be delivered from future evils and to enjoy the good things to come. We fell into disease through sin; let us receive healing through repentance, which is not fruitful without fasting."

Fasting Randomness

I love that the article I was just reading on fasting in the Armenian Orthodox Church cited St. Theodore the Studite and the third Council of Constantinople as authorities on the matter :-). Too funny...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holy Synod of the Church of the East Issues Statement on Ashur Soro

The Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East has issued a statement confirming its previous decisions concerning the suspension and deposition of Bishop Mar Bawai (Soro) of Modesto. Mar Bawai, now Ashur Soro, was suspended in 2005 for refusing to be removed from diocese because of his activity in advocating union between the new calendar Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church. In 2008 the Holy Synod deposed him from all episcopal and priestly rank and excommunicated him for his continued rebellion against its authority. In the meantime Ashur Soro, formerly Mar Bawai, was received into the Chaldean Catholic Church as a bishop and served for a time in the western USA before being deposed by the Chaldean Catholic Church as well. The Holy Synod of the Church of the East has issued its statement as the Holy Synod of the Chaldean Catholic Church prepares to meet in Rome to further the discuss the matter of Mr. Soro's reception into their church and the future of the ecumenical dialogue between the two churches. The statement from the Church of the East on the matter can be found here.

Antiochian Orthodox Priest Received into the Milan Synod

This has already been well reported elsewhere, but one of the priests recently dismissed by Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) of New York was received into the Milan Synod of the Western Orthodox Church, an Old Calendrist movement associated with Archbishop Auxentios (Pastras) of Athens of blessed memory (before his synod fell apart) and later with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (before its takeover by the ex-KGB hierarchs led by Patriarch Philaret (Denisenko) of Kiev), this past Wednesday. The priest in question will be serving a new Byzantine Rite mission of the Milan Synod in southern Pennsylvania. The Milan Synod's announcement can be found here.

Pictured are hierarchs of the Milan Synod and its sister synod in Greece concelebrating the Holy Liturgy together.

Chinese-Language Outreach Discussed in Moscow

The Moscow Theological Academy recently held a meeting on how to further Chinese-language outreach to Chinese immigrants in the countries of the former USSR. More here.

Russian Orthodox Church to Serve in Kazakh

Glory to God for all things! The Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan is preparing to publish official service books in the Kazakh language so that the services can be celebrated in either Slavonic or Kazakh. The country's theological seminary already mandated the study of Kazakh by future pastors and last year's patriarchal Paschal epistle was published in both Russian and Kazakh in the country, but by God's mercy soon churches with Kazakh Orthodox members will be able to pray in their members' native tongue. More here.

Sts. Philip the Apostle, Justinian and Theodora, Gregory Palamas, Alexander of the Neva, and Alberic of Utrecht (!)

It's the second most feared feast day of the ecclesiastical year - St. Philip! Poor St. Philip not only ushers in the Prophets' Fast (which is called Philip's Fast in Rus'), but also has to share his feast day with the energetic St. Gregory Palamas ;-), the rather formidable Sts. Justinian (the peasant soldier-turned-emperor) and Theodora (the prostitute-turned-empress), and that greatest of Russian military saints, Alexander of the Neva. We Dutch also celebrate St. Alberic of Utrecht today :-). So, a full day! I hope it is one full of joy for you! May the Saints blessings and prayers be with us all!

Quote of the Day: St. Seraphim of Sarov

"In spite of our sinfulness, in spite of the darkness surrounding our souls, the grace of the Holy Spirit, conferred by baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, still shines in our hearts with the inextinguishable light of Christ...and when the sinner turns to the way of repentance the light smooths away every trace of the sins committed, clothing the former sinner in the garments of incorruption, spun of the grace of the Holy Spirit."

Armenians Protest Turkish Premier's Visit to Lebanon

Armenians living in Lebanon protested the arrival today of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Lebanon's 150,000 Armenians are primarily descended from the survivors of the Armenian Genocide in eastern Anatolia organizedin 1915  by the Turks and Kurds. Armenian politicians in Lebanon were cautious in their comments on the Turkish leader's visit, but the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia spoke against it and the Turkish government's ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide. More here.

Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox Hierarchs of San Francisco Embark on Ecumenical Pilgrimage Together

Metropolitan Gerasimos (Michaleas) of San Francisco of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco have embarked on a joint pilgrimage to the centers of their respective churches in an effort to further movement towards Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic unity. Apparently there's mutual recognition of sacraments between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, but this recognition has not apparently been communicated to the other Local Orthodox Churches ;-). Regardless, more on the trip here.

Faux Cave of the Apocalypse in Alabama

Lest anyone should thank God that American Orthodoxy might escape the corrosive influences of the tackier aspects of US culture, I just found out that Holy Annunciation Church in Mobile, Alabama, has built a foam replica of the Cave of the Apocalypse on Patmos :-). I recommend all Orthodox going on pilgrimage to this 'New Patmos' first check out the life-size replica of the Temple Mount down in Florida before heading up to Mobile ;-). The full story here.

Eritrean Refugees Held in the Sinai

International human rights groups are calling for the release of Eritreans being held by people smugglers in the Sinai. As the political situation has deteriorated in Eritrea the government has cracked down on dissident political parties and religious organizations, including the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church. People leave the country by any way possible, paying smugglers to get them into Israel and other wealthy countries. More here.

Follow-Up on the Giza Riot

As a follow-up on the report of the riot in Giza that took place after the Egyptian government blocked Copts' access to a church construction site, the Egyptian police are not allowing lawyers to meet with the 156 people detained on suspicion of inciting the Giza riots. More here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vladyka Seraphim Charged

I don't like to post on scandals, especially ones that have yet to be proven true or untrue, but I do ask your prayers for Archbishop Seraphim (Storheim) of Ottawa of the American Orthodox Church's Diocese of Canada as the sexual assault charges against him prepare to go to court.

I don't know whether the allegations are true or false, but I do know that it's difficult to hear them against a man who is so widely loved and respected. On the other hand, if the allegations are true, then it must be so hard to be the poor men who've brought these charges against him so long after what they claim to have happened :-(. God be with Vladyka Seraphim and his accusers in all of this! Kyrie eleison...

St. John Chrysostom

There's no denying St. John wasn't the greatest guy ever, but his commitment to God is undeniable and his impact on theology and liturgics in the East is pretty huge, so a joyous feast to all :-)! More on his life can be found here.

Quote of the Day: St. Peter of Damascus

"Should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord's love. For if He so chooses, He can deal mercifully with our weakness. Only we should not cut ourselves off from Him or feel oppressed when constrained by His commandments, nor should we lose heart when we fall short of our goal...let us always be ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quote of the Day: Metropolitan Tryphon (Turkestanov)

"It is the Holy Spirit Who makes us find joy in each flower, the exquisite scent, the delicate colour, the beauty of the Most High in the tiniest of things. Glory and honour to the Spirit, the Giver of Life, Who covers the fields with their carpet of flowers, crowns the harvest with gold, and gives to us the joy of gazing at it with our eyes. Be joyful and sing to Him: Alleluia!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

American Thanksgiving

It's the eve of Thanksgiving here in the United States and because of some somewhat last minute family commitments I will be spending the holiday and the rest of the week on trains, buses, and highways up in Washington :-). Hopefully I'll learn whatever lesson God keeps trying to teach me with all of this traveling and when I come home Sunday I'll be done with it for a while ;-). I may post over the holidays, but don't hold your breath ;-). So, in the meantime, if you're in the United States or an American living abroad, then I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving wherever you are! Everyone else have a nice late fall week ;-). Glory to God for all things!

Interview with Fr. Andrew Phillips

One of the priests less than pleased with the state of worldwide Russian Orthodoxy today, Fr. Andrew Phillips, recently gave an interview in which he criticized the American Orthodox Church (OCA) as a bankrupt "Cold War relic" that would soon be asking to return to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate (an idea that I did not hear given any real support even when many American Orthodox were advocating the election of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) as First Hierarch of the OCA). More on that and other fascinating opinions on the state and future of Orthodoxy in the United Kingdom and the wider world here :-).

St. Martin the Merciful

I just went through today's calendar entry a little more thoroughly than I had time to earlier this morning and I realized that today is a doubly beautiful feast day as it is not only St. Menas' day, but also the feast of St. Martin the Merciful of Tours and therefore the nameday of two very dear friends of mine from that fiery Orthodox Christian beacon on a hill in a land of Evangelical Protestantism, the Commune :-). So, a doubly joyous feast to everyone! May the Saints' blessings and prayers be with us all! For more on St. Martin's life please check out Orthodox America's right up on his life here.

Former Bishop Artemije Not a Concern

Despite the declarations of former Bishop Artemije (Radosavljevic) of Raska and Prizren that he intends to form a separate Serbian Orthodox diocese in Kosovo the Serbian Orthodox hierarchy is no longer concerned that his activities will have a significant effect on the life of the Church of Serbia as a whole. The former bishop and a small group of monks loyal to him attempted to forcibly takeover several monasteries in northern Kosovo, but were stopped after the monasteries' abbots called the police. More here.

Copt Killed in Cairo Protests

A Copt has been killed in recent clashes between the Egyptian police and Orthodox Christians following the government's decision to stop the construction of a new church in Giza, a part of greater Cairo. Two more Copts were seriously injured and between twenty and a hundred people were detained by the police. The clash comes as tensions between Muslims and Orthodox rise in Egypt, which still maintains medieval Ottoman laws requiring the permission of the national government for the construction or repair (however major or minor) of churches. More here.

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Praises Metropolitan Volodymyr for Pro-Unity Work

There is still great hope amongst the various schismatic synods in the Ukraine that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will receive them into its jurisdiction and recognize the independence of their factions of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Nonetheless, at yesterday's celebrations in honor of the 75th birthday of Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), First Hierarch of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church was represented by its Metropolitan Jeremias (Calligiorgis) of Switzerland. In his congratulations to Metropolitan Volodymyr, Metropolitan Jeremias praised him for his work in preserving and strengthening the unity of the canonical Orthodox Church of the Ukraine, which remains by far the largest synod in the country. More here.

Pictured are Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev together with Patriarch Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine and hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

St. Menas the Great-Martyr

Joyous feast!!! St. Menas is one of the great saints and wonderworkers not only of the ancient world, but also of our times. In past times people came from throughout the known world to venerate his relics near Mareotis in Egypt (to the southwest of Alexandria). Gradually the pilgrimages ceased following the Muslim conquest of Egypt and the destruction of the saint's shrine, but following the enthronement of Pope St. Cyril VI of Alexandria (himself a great wonderworker), who loved St. Menas greatly, the monastery that used to stand at the place of the saint's relics was renewed and is now once more a place of pilgrimage because of the miracles worked by St. Menas.

St. Menas was born the only child of devout parents in 285 AD. His father was an administrator in the Roman government in Egypt and when he turned fifteen the saint served for some time in the Roman Army in what was then called Africa or Mauretania, but today is known as Algeria. Becoming dissatisfied with life in the world, St. Menas left the army and returned to Egypt to live as a hermit in the desert. After receiving a vision of his impending martyrdom St. Menas declared his faith before the Roman governor of Egypt and received his crown on 11/24 November 309. A full account of his life can be found here. Accounts of the miracles worked by both St. Menas and St. Cyril the Wonderworker, Pope of Alexandria, can be found here. The relics of both saints rest at Dayr Mar Mina Monastery in Maryut (ancient Mareotis) today.

May the blessings and prayers of the glorious Great-Martyr and Wonderworker Menas be with us all!

Pictured is the cathedral at the restored Coptic Orthodox Monastery of St. Menas, called Dayr Mar Mina today.

Quote of the Day: St. Hermes of the Seventy

"Remember never to fear the power of evil more than you trust in the power and love of God."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Resolutions of the Summer Session of the UAOC Holy Synod

God only knows how I missed this, but this past July a session of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), the second largest schismatic group active in the Ukraine, mandated that the First Hierarch of the UAOC commemorate Patriarch Bartholomew in all the services he celebrates to ensure the unity of the UAOC with worldwide Orthodoxy and show its desire for the full communion of a united, autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the Local Orthodox Churches.

The Holy Synod reaffirmed the absence of communion between the UAOC and the Kiev Patriarchate, the largest schism in the Ukraine, in the hope that this too would speed the establishment of an independent Local Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. The Holy Synod also agreed with the proposal of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church to establish a dialogue commission on the current issues dividing Orthodoxy in the Ukraine. Like I said, quite an eventful meeting and somehow I didn't manage to post anything about it until now! The Holy Synod's resolutions can be found in full here.

Pictured is the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle in Kiev, Ukraine, which serves as the cathedra of the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the UAOC. The church was built on the site where St. Andrew is said to have planted a cross during his brief visit to what today is the Ukraine. Somewhat ironically considering the strong anti-Russian nationalism found in much of the UAOC, modern St. Andrew's was built with monies provided by Empress Elizabeth I of Russia, who personally laid its foundation stone.

Metropolitan Hilarion on Monasticism

Some excellent thoughts on monasticism from Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk can be found here.

Metropolitan Yurij Meets with Ecumenical Patriarch, Enthroned as First Hierarch of the UOCC

Immediately prior to his enthronement in Winnipeg this past weekend Metropolitan Yurij (Kalistchuk) of Winnipeg, First Hierarch of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC), visited Constantinople to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew and the hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church, of which the UOCC is a part. During his time in Turkey Metropolitan Yurij was formally recognized as Metropolitan of Winnipeg and Canada by the Holy Synod. More on this trip here.

Metropolitan Yurij's enthronement in Winnipeg was celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Sotirios (Athanassoulas) of Toronto, who serves as the Ecumenical Patriarchate's exarch in Canada despite the larger size and longer history of the UOCC in the country. During the celebrations following the enthronement services the president of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress called on Metropolitan Yurij and the leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada present to lead a push to unite the Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches in both the Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora into "one Ukrainian Apostolic Church." More on that here.

Greek Orthodox Church Will Ensure Christianness of Citizenship Cards

I'm sure all the citizens of the Hellenic Republic will be reassured to hear that the Church of Greece is working closely with the Greek government to ensure that the citizenship cards coming out next year will in no way bear the mark of the beast :-). (Apparently citizenship cards issued by an officially Greek Orthodox government are more in danger of bearing that mark than national membership in the ardently secularist European Union is :-).) More here.

Russian Orthodox Church Still Okay with Condoms

The Moscow Patriarchate has issued a reminder following a recent Roman Catholic statement on condoms that the Russian Orthodox Church's current standards allow father confessors and spiritual fathers to bless the use of condoms and other non-abortive means of contraception by the Church's married faithful.

It's nice to know the Church is thinking about everything you do (lol). This isn't particularly relevant to me and my friends seem to keep having kids year after year, but perhaps it's relevant to someone out there ;-). The full story can be found here.

Metropolitan Volodymyr Celebrates Birthday

The celebration of the birthday of Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) in Kiev is ongoing. In his address to the First Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church yesterday Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) praised him for "sacrific[ing] himself for the good of his flock, for preservation of peace, and for overcoming of human differences." He went on to say that "we [can] see the real results of [Metropolitan Volodymyr's] bearing the cross of the Lord, namely, the unity of bishops, clergymen and laity uniting around you, and also love of the pious people of the entire Orthodox Rus'."

God grant Metropolitan Volodymyr many, many years! More on his birthday celebrations can be found here.

Quote of the Day: St. Tikhon of Voronezh

"We see the water of a river flowing uninterruptedly and passing away, and all that floats on its surface, rubbish or beams of trees, all pass by. Christian! So does our life...I was an infant, and that time has gone. I was an adolescent, and that too has passed. I was a young man, and that too is far behind me. The strong and mature man that I was is no more. My hair turns white, I succumb to age, but that too passes; I approach the end and will go the way of all flesh. I was born in order to die. I die that I may live. Remember me, O Lord, in Your Kingdom!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

St. Benen of Armagh

Joyous feast again! I'm of Irish descent, so I thought I would post a link to a life of another of today's saints, St. Benen of Armagh. May his blessings and prayers be with us all!

Meeting of the Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church in Resistance

In a regular meeting last month of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church in Resistance it was decided to leave the newly widowed Diocese of Sydney vacant until a suitable candidate could be found for election to the episcopacy. The church's increasingly close relationships with its sister Old Calendrist churches in the former USSR, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Russian Diaspora were also reviewed and plans were made for publishing a concrete statement on the position of the Greek Orthodox Church in Resistance, the Bulgarian Old Calendrist Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of Metropolitan Agathangel, and the Romanian Old Calendrist Orthodox Church vis-a-vis the world Local Orthodox Churches. More here.

Missionary Work in Moscow Continues

Disciples of the martyred Muscovite priest, Fr. Daniel Sysoyev, continue his outreach work amongst immigrants in Russia's capital and largest city as well as in Kazakhstan. Chinese, English, Tajik, Uzbek, and Vietnamese-language publications are already being printed by his former parish, St. Thomas the Apostle's Church, and Kirghiz-language materials are being prepared for publication. More here.

Church Attacked in Ingushetia

Minor damage has been done to a church in Orjonikidzevskaya, Ingushetia (a member state of the Russian Federation), following fire on the church with a grenade launcher. More here.

Russian Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism Allies?

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has claimed once again that the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches are natural allies in the ongoing 'culture wars' in the West, glossing over concerning liturgical, disciplinary, and ascetical (or lack thereof) trends that have grown in the Church of Rome since the Second Vatican Council. More here from Interfax.

John VI of Russia's Grave Found?

The remains of Tsar Ivan VI of Russia may have been found in northern Russia. More here. May his memory be eternal!

Remains of 5,000 Purge Victims Uncovered in Tatarstan

The Russian Orthodox Church's Diocese of Kazan' has called upon the government of the Republic of Tatarstan (a member state of the Russian Federation) to establish a memorial to victims of Stalin's purges at Holy Dormition Monastery in Sviyazhsk following the discovery there of the remains of some 5,000 people killed between the 1920s and the 1940s when the site was used as an NKVD (later KGB) camp. The victims' remains were found during work to restore the monastery, which prior to its return to the Church in 1997 had been used as a mental institution and boarding school for delinquent boys (as well as the above). More here.

Upcoming Patriarchal Visit to Georgia Postponed

Among other things, at its recent meeting the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian Orthodox Catholicosate of Echmiadzin decided to postpone the upcoming visit of Catholicos Karekin II (Nersessian) to Georgia due to the poor health of the country's Catholicos Ilia II (Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili). God willing, the visit to the Georgian Orthodox Church and the flock of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Georgia will be rescheduled shortly.

St. Nectarius of Pentapolis

Joyous feast! St. Nectarius is one of the great saints of the late 1800s and early 1900s. God called him to services in both the ancient Church of Alexandria and the younger Church of Greece and has worked many miracles and wonders through him both in his lifetime and since his repose in 1920. An account of his life can be found here.

If you love St. Nectarius and are ever in upstate New York, then I strongly recommend visiting the Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to him in Roscoe. If you don't speak Greek or are a woman and plan on staying overnight it might be a rough visit, but the services are beautiful and the frescoes of the Saint's life in the trapeza are well worth the asceticism of visiting ;-).

May St. Nectarius blessings and prayers be with us all!

Patriarch Cyril Begins Ukraine Visit

Patriarch Kirill of All Rus' has begin his visit to Kiev for the birthday celebrations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's first hierarch, Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev. More here.

Macedonian Archbishop Remains in Bulgaria

Despite pressure from the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bulgarian authorities continue to prepare the extradition of Archbishop Jovan (Vranishovski) of Ohrid to Macedonia. In the meantime Archbishop Jovan is under house arrest in a monastery near Sofia. More here.

Iraq's Christians Continue to Leave

Since the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein at least 300,000 of Iraq's then 800,000 Assyrians, Syriac and Antiochian Orthodox Christians, and Chaldean Catholics have fled the country for Jordan, Syria, and the West. Although despotic, the Baathist government protected the security and rights of the country's religious minorities, which both the United States and the post-Saddam Iraqi government have failed to do. More here.

Forgery by the AOANA

It appears that the leadership of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America (AOANA) continues to play fast and loose with its translations, having published an English-language text of the recent decision of the Holy Synod on the non-existence of ruling bishops (by that specific title) within the Church of Antioch that both distorts the original meaning (though not regarding the actual status of the North American bishops) and pretends to give the translation the authority of the Holy Synod by digitally attaching the signatures of the Holy Synod's members, who only approved and signed the Arabic-language original of the decision. More here.

Quote of the Day: Archbishop Anastasius of Tirana

"Always remember that at the Last Judgement we are judged for loving Him, or failing to love Him, in the least person."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quote of the Day: St. Ambrose of Milan

"You are a portrait, O man, a portrait painted by your Lord God. Yours is a good artist and painter. Do not deface the good picture, which reflects not deceit, but truth; which expresses not guile, but grace."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Enthronement of Metropolitan Yurij of Winnipeg

By way of a last last post before I finally leave for the weekend ;-), many years to Metropolitan Yurij (Kalistchuk) of Winnipeg tomorrow as his enthronement as First Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC) is celebrated! God grant him to guide the UOCC on the path of Orthodoxy and catholicity...

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) on the Exodus

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of New York has issued a statement on yesterday's anniversary of the 90th year since the Exodus from the Crimea of the White Army together with thirty Russian Orthodox hierarchs and many clergy and laity besides. May the refugees' memories be eternal!

Upcoming Feast

I'm going to be traveling over the weekend, so I want to wish you a joyous feast of the Archangels this Sunday! May their protection together with the blessings and prayers of Vladyka Philaret be with us all!

Bishop Artemije Defrocked

Bishop Artemije (Radosavljević), formerly the Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Raška and Prizren and responsible for the Orthodox Church in Kosovo, has been returned to being a monk by the Holy Synod of the Church of Serbia following Bishop Artemije's refusal to retire after being convicted of mishandling church funds. More here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Russian Law Regularizes Return of Church Properties

Russian Parliament, nearly twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, finally passed legislation today allowing religious organizations to reclaim property confiscated following the Bolshevik Revolution. Russia's Communist Party and national museum directors have been most vocal in their opposition to the bill as many present day museums occupy nationalized Russian Orthodox cathedrals, churches, and monasteries, among them the Memorial Church of the Savior 'on the Blood' built on the site of Emperor Alexander II's murder in St. Petersburg (pictured on the right). Prior to this individual properties have been returned to church use haphazardly and have not always been transferred to full church administration. More on the legislation here.

Iraqi Kurdistan Offers Christians in Central Iraq Assylum

President Barzani of Kurdistan, one of the federal regions in US-occupied Iraq, has invited the Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and Assyrians suffering persecution in the rest of the country to relocate to Kurdistan. Northeastern Mesopotamia, modern day Iraqi Kurdistan and far southeastern Turkey, was previously the center of the region's Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian Christian, and Chaldean Catholic populations, with the patriarchs of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church living in the region until the early twentieth century when the Kurds, with Turkish support, undertook the Assyrian and Armenian Genocides and either massacred most of the area's Christians or drove them south into present day central Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Baghdad has been the site of most of the recent anti-Christian violence, but Mosul, the main city in Iraqi Kurdistan, has been the site of several kidnappings and murders of Assyrians and Chaldean Catholics. The seriousness of the Kurdistani government's offer, how Iraq's Christians will respond, and whether the life of Kurdistan's existing Christian minorities will improve remains to be seen. CNN's story on President Barzani's offer can be found here.

Pictured is Dayro d'Mar Mattai, one of the oldest surviving monasteries in Mesopotamia near ancient Nineveh and modern-day Mosul, Iraq. For many centuries it was the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Church's Maphrians of the East, among them St. Gregory of Ebroyo, whose relics remain there to this day.

2010 Encyclical for American Thanksgiving

This year's Thanksgiving encyclical from Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis) of New York can be found here.

Orthodox History on St. Alexis (Toth)

Orthodox History has an interesting snippet on St. Alexis (Toth) of Minneapolis and his vision for the Ruthenians in the United States received into the Russian Orthodox Diocese of San Francisco (later New York) and North America from the Unia.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our Lady of Tikhvin Church in Moscow

A friend just shared a link with me about an amazing church in Moscow that reaches out to the city's deaf and blind. The article itself is interesting, but be sure to watch the video clip included.

Georgia Denies Registration to the Armenian Orthodox Church

Despite Georgia's place as a darling of the West, its government still refuses to protect the rights of its ethnic and religious minorities. Most recently the Armenian Orthodox Church, which has a large following in southeastern Georgia, was denied registration as a church by the Georgian government. The Georgian Orthodox Church remains the sole ecclesiastical organization in the country officially registered as such. More here.

Russian Orthodox Church Confirms Tolstoy's Excommunication

The Moscow Patriarchate has refused to rescind the Russian Orthodox Church's excommunication of Leo Tolstoy in honor of the upcoming centenary of his death, stating that the Holy Synod's excommunication recognized what he himself had already done in publicly separating himself from the Church. More here.

Copts Underrepresented in the Egyptian Government

As Egypt prepares for parliamentary elections the leaders of its large Coptic Orthodox minority are questioning how few Copts are running for seats from any party. The Egyptian government claims to provide adequate representation for the Copts, but in the last parliamentary elections only one Copt was elected to Parliament. The additional ten Copts appointed by the president left Parliament's lower house with only 2% of its membership being Coptic, a disproportionate percentage considering that Copts form somewhere between 10 and 20% of the total Egyptian population.

Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid Arrested

Bulgarian border police have arrested Archbishop Jovan VI (Vraniskovski) of Ohrid of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the basis of a warrant issued by a Macedonian court against him. Since talks between the Serbian Orthodox Church and its schismatic daughter, the Macedonian Orthodox Church, in 2002 failed to bring about reconciliation Archbishop Jovan, formerly Metropolitan of Veles in the Macedonian Orthodox Church, has led the autonomous Orthodox Church of Macedonia under the Pech Patriarchate. His decision to return to the communion of world Orthodoxy has led to harassment by the Macedonian authorities and repeated imprisonment on groundless charges. The Orthodox Word's article on the autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church and Archbishop Jovan can be found here.

Muslims Attacked, Persecuted in Greece

As the Greek economy worsens, so does the lot of its migrants, especially those who practice Islam. I hope we can learn to treat Muslims in the countries left to us better than they've treated us in our heartlands. A survey of the recent troubles in Greece can be found here.

Interview with Bishop Agapit on Australia

The Synod Abroad has just released an interview with Bishop Agapit (Gorachek) of Stuttgart on his recent visit to the Australian Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. He has interesting reflections on the differences between the Russian Orthodox Church in Germany and Australia and on the decline in the number of parishioners in Australia in recent years. He blames this on the loss of the Russian language, making the interesting claim that "the English language is not one that lends itself to theology" (?).

Vladyka's perspective is one I've heard from multiple perspectives, with Slavonic, Greek, Gi'iz, and Syriac alternately being the answer to the seeker who wants to be 'truly Orthodox' :-). It's sad that we're so often unwilling to do the work to enculturate Orthodoxy in other cultures, choosing instead to leave everything frozen in time, whether in 14th century Ethiopia or 17th century Muscovy or whenever. Where would Slavonic be if Sts. Cyril and Methodius and their disciples hadn't committed themselves to enculturating Orthodoxy amongst the Slavs? Or Gi'iz without the work of the nine Roman Saints? Just more dead pagan languages.

The full interview with Vladyka Agapit can be found here.

Bishop Mark Meets with Holy Synod

Today is the day Bishop Mark (Maymon) of Toledo is to meet with the Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) about his transfer from the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Please keep him and the Holy Synod in your prayers!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Session of the Synod of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church

On Monday the twenty-member Local Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church in India met under the leadership of Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I of the East to discuss the life of the autonomous Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church under Antioch. Among other things the Local Synod approved the erection of the Metropolis of Mangalore and appealed to the Patriarchate of Antioch to consecrate new metropolitans for the Malankara Orthodox metropolises of Angamaly and "Outside Kerala." A full account of the Local Synod's session can be found here.

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka on Iraq

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I of the Syriac Orthodox Church has expressed his condolences to the Syrian Catholic Church over the recent massacre in Baghdad and called on the Christians of Iraq to remain in their country to help preserve Christianity in the East. His letter can be read here.

Recent Travels of the Kursk-Root Icon

All the traveling the Kursk-Root Icon's been doing lately and is scheduled to do has me wondering whether the Synod Abroad is preparing to return it to the Kursk Hermitage in Russia. Has anyone heard anything to this effect?

Antiochian Orthodox Priest Dismissed

Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) of New York of the Antiochian Orthodox Church has removed a priest serving in North America for disobedience (in speaking his mind) and for having a parish council president 'not in good canonical standing.' Metropolitan Philip's own archdiocesan board of trustees includes at least one member with a criminal background who has made threats against a bishop in recent years, but that particular individual is, apparently, in 'good canonical standing.' More here.

Bulgarian Orthodox Church Calls for Religious Education in Schools

At the recent session of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church on 9 November Patriarch Maksim reported that his petition to the Bulgarian government to introduce the compulsory study of religion into public schools in the country had been favorably received by the President of Bulgaria.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hierarch of the ROCOR-A Hospitalized

Archbishop Andronik of Ottawa, a hierarch of the 2007 schism from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) led by Metropolitan Agathangel of Odessa, was hospitalized over the weekend. Please pray for his recovery and return to the Church.

Upcoming Patriarchal Visit to Lebanon

Patriarch Kiril of Moscow and All Rus' is planning a visit to Lebanon this coming year. The country is home to some five thousand Russian Orthodox Christians, among them many descendants of families prominent before the Bolshevik Revolution. More on the upcoming visit can be found here. The Prime Minister of Lebanon is currently on a state visit to the Russian Federation and has called on the Russian Orthodox Church to become more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Upcoming Patriarchal Baptisms in Tbilisi

As part of his ongoing initiative to encourage Georgians to have more children Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia of the Georgian Orthodox Church will be holding his fourteenth mass baptism of three hundred forty of these children in Tbilisi's Holy Trinity Cathedral on the feast of the Archangels (8/21 November). Since the beginning of the initiative Patriarch Ilia has baptized and chrismated some seven thousand children.

Violence in Upper Egypt

Ten houses were burned down in recent violence against Copts in the Upper Egyptian village of al-Nawahid. The incident was sparked by a rumor amongst the village's Muslim population that a Coptic Orthodox boy and a Muslim girl were dating. No one was killed in the conflict. The BBC's press release can be found here.

Upcoming Patriarchal Visit to Kiev

Patriarch Kiril of Moscow will be visiting the Ukraine around the time of American Thanksgiving to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday of Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev, the First Hierarch of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. More here.

Metropolitans' Meeting Kiev

Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev and All Ukraine and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk met today at the Kiev Caves Lavra as part of the latter's tour of eastern and central Ukraine to discuss ecclesiastical life in the country. The Moscow Patriarchate's press release on the event can be found here.

Commemoration of the White Army's Exodus from the Crimea

This past weekend the Moscow Patriarchate's blessed the holding of commemorative services for the ninetieth anniversary of the exodus of the White Army from the Crimea at the end of the Russian Civil War. The exodus, which gave further impetus to the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), was remembered with a memorial for the fallen officers and soldiers of the White Army, a Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Metropolitan of Simferopol' and the Crimea, and other services in Sevastopol', the site of the exodus.

Similar commemorative services are being celebrated in Paris, France, by Metropolitan Hilarion of the ROCOR. A press release on the services in the Crimea can be found here, whilst the Synod Abroad's press release on Metropolitan Hilarion's visit to Paris can be found here.

Holy Synod Elects Fr. Matthias (Moriak) Bishop of Chicago!

The nominee for the vacant cathedra of the American Orthodox Church's Midwestern Diocese, Hieromonk Matthias (Moriak), has just been elected Bishop of Chicago by the Holy Synod! Axios! An official biography can be found here. The Holy Synod's press release on his election can be found here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Prime Minister of Russia Meets with the Patriarch of Bulgaria

This past Sunday Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visited St. Alexander of the Neva's Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria, to venerate the relics of St. John there and to meet with Patriarch Maxim of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Moscow Patriarchate's press release on the visit can be found here.

Fourth Diocesan Sobor of the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of the OCA

Over the weekend the Bulgarian Orthodox diocese of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) held its fourth diocesan council (собор) at its cathedral in metro Toledo, Ohio, this past weekend. The council was supposed to nominate a candidate for election as Bishop of Toledo and the Bulgarians to succeed Archbishop Kyrill (Yonchev) of Pittsburgh and the Bulgarians, but after a presentation by the episcopal search committee the council gave it more time to enable the candidates under consideration to visit more of the diocese's widely scattered communities. The council was led by Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh, the locum tenens of the diocese, and included a presentation by Fr. Callinic (Berger), an hieromonk of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America (ROEA). The news release from the OCA can be found here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quote of the Day: St. Gregory the Great

"The Church of the elect will be fully day only when the darkness of sin is no longer mixed in with it. It will be fully day only when it shines with the perfect warmth of a light that comes from within. God shows that we are still going through this dawn when He says to Job, 'Have you ever sent the dawn to its posts?' Something that is being sent somewhere is being sent from one place or state to another. What is the destined place of the dawn if not the perfect brightness of the eternal vision?"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quote of the Day: St. Gregory of Ebro

"No one who is acquainted with the remembrance of death will easily sin."

New First Hierarch of the 'Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece'

Also under the heading of old news, the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece has a new first hierarch, Archbishop Callinicus of Athens. His enthronement was celebrated on 17 October in Athens' Church of St. Athanasius.

The Genuine Orthodox Church is a rigorist Old Calendrist schism and one of the larger Old Calendrist movements in Greece, deriving its hierarchy from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) and the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in Western Europe. Although the first Greek Orthodox Old Calendrist bishop in North America, Bishop Peter (Astyfides) of Astoria of the ROCOR, eventually joined this synod prior to his death, its presence in North America is rather limited numerically.

Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile

I don't know how I missed this last month, but the remnants of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, formed out of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) following retired Metropolitan Vitaly's departure from New York for Quebec, held a council of their remaining hierarchs in Kiev. Among other things they elected two new diocesan bishops for Western Europe and southern Russia and also decided to undertake a survey of the positions of the various Russian Orthodox schisms formed out of the ROCOR over the last couple of decades.

I had thought that the ROCIE completely fell apart following the death of Metropolitan Vitaly, so to find it not only alive, but with a functioning and apparently stable synod of bishops, is truly a surprise! God works in mysterious ways :-). Speaking of which, the ROCIE claims to have a myrrh-streaming icon at its parish in Montreal, Quebec - a copy of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God. The icon's story can be found here. A full account of the hierarchical council can be found here. And lastly, the hierarchs' epistle to their flock can be found here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Western Rites Communities to be Received into the ROCOR

Glory to God for all things! The former exarchate of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church in North America, a Western Orthodox movement following the Roman Rite, is being received into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad! Their hierarchs will be received as priests, but altogether the churches and missions of the movement will constitute the ROCOR's first Western Rites deanery in North America! (For the time being the Western Rites communities of the ROCOR are stavropeghial under the Metropolitan of New York.) Hat tip to Michael for the good news!

Upcoming Commemoration of the Holodomor

The hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of the USA (UOCUSA) and Canada (UOCC) of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church have issued a statement together with the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchs in North America concerning the commemoration of the seventy-seventh anniversary of the Holodomor, the artificial famine engineered by the Soviets that killed roughly four million people in the Ukraine and three million in southern Russia. Commemorative services and events for the Holodomor, which took place in 1932 and 1933, are usually held around the time of American Thanksgiving. The hierarchs' joint statement can be read here.

St. Eugene of Nizhniy Novgorod

Today is the commemoration of St. Eugene the New Martyr of Nizhniy Novgorod, who served as metropolitan of that city in the 1930s when it was called Gorkiy. I wish I had something about his life to post, but I've only had time to search English-language resources online - the Russian-language stuff will have to wait for later. Joyous feast! May his blessings and prayers be with us all!

Quote of the Day: St. Nerses the Gracious

"When you see the cross, know and believe that you are seeing Christ enthroned on it; when you pray before the cross, believe that you are doing so concerning Christ our God and not with inanimate matter. For it is Christ Who receives the veneration you offer before the cross; and it is He Who hears the supplications of your mouth and fulfills the desires of your heart, which you ask with faith. Whoever does not honor the cross, or insults it, insults Christ Himself."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old Believers in Modern Kazakhstan

An interesting article on Kazakhstan's Old Believers, one reflective of Russian Orthodoxy in general in Kazakhstan if I'm not mistaken, can be found here.

New Stylite in Georgia

The BBC just did a piece on Georgia's modern day stylite.

Independent Belarus or Soviet Belorussia?

Although it's been nearly twenty years since the collapse of the USSR the Belorussian government continues to harass religious groups and discourage Orthodox Christians' veneration of the New Martyrs of the Soviet Yoke. Unlike Russia, where churches remembering the New Martyrs have been built on multiple sites, in Belarus plans to build a memorial church on the site of a mass grave from Stalin's era have yet to be carried out. The KGB, which has retained its original name in the country, has also attempted to have icons of the New Martyrs removed from churches in Belarus. More on this and the treatment of other religious minorities can be found here.

Church Vandals in Kyrgyzstan Arrested

Kirghiz police have arrested suspects in the recent church vandalism. More here.

Update on St. Gabriel's Monastery in Tur Abdin, Turkey

I misspoke in my last posting - the Syriac Orthodox Church in Turkey is still in the courts over the ownership of the lands of St. Gabriel's Monastery in Tur Abdin, with six cases having been brought against the monastery by either the Turkish government or local Kurdish villages. This appears to be in response to a recent increase in the number of ethnic Syrians returning to the area, which used to have a substantial Syriac Orthodox minority (as well as large Armenian and Antiochian Orthodox minorities) and was the seat of the Syriac Orthodox patriarch from 1160 till 1932. A recent press release on the situation can be found here.

Ecumenical Patriarchate Wins Landmark Case in Turkey

The Ecumenical Patriarchate just won a landmark case against the Turkish government, thanks to the support of the Court of Human Rights in the EU, over the ownership and administration of its former orphanage on the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. Provided the Turkish government obeys its own court's ruling, the orphanage will be returned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which plans on turning it into a center for the study of interreligious (quelle surprise) and environmental issues (of course). The news release can be found here.

The ruling could pave the way for the return of over twenty monasteries in Turkey successfully appropriated from the administration of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the Turkish government. Similar actions against the Syriac Orthodox Church in recent times have also been rebuffed by the courts, giving hope to Turkey's religious and ethnic minorities that the twenty-first century might be a time of greater freedom for them than the last century has been.

Quote of the Day: St. Jacob of Serugh

"The Church in the world is like a scribe to men; and she teaches and makes them wise, and binds up the sores of all who come to her. And from her teaching the soul draws light, that she may overcome the darkness of death when it meets her. Come, enter, O foolish, that were stained with lusts, and adorn your lives with the doctrine of the daughter of lights."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"The Mystery of Sin and the Mystery of Salvation" by Fr. Thomas (Bitar)

Archimandrite Thomas (Bitar) of the Douma Monastery in Lebanon has a timely article on how the Lord can transform evil into good here.

St. Job of Pochaev

Joyous feast! An account of St. Job's life can be found here.

Quote of the Day: Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria

"He who is quick to condemn others demonstrates that he has never truly stood in the presence of the living God."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Metropolitan Theodosius on Palestinian Unity

Metropolitan Theodosius (Hanna) of Sebaste in Palestine, the only ethnically Arab hierarch of the Church of Jerusalem, has called for the unity of the Palestinian Arab resistance movements and for international invention in the State of Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. More here.

Serbs Attacked in Kosovo

Serb refugees returning to their parish cemetery in Kosovo to honor their dead this past weekend were shot at by local Albanians despite supposedly being under the protection of the EU occupying forces. More here.

Relics of St. John the Baptist in Sofia, EU

The newly discovered relics of St. John the Baptist from eastern Bulgaria are being translated to the patriarchal Cathedral of St. Alexander of the Neva in Sofia this week. They will remain in the cathedral for three days for the veneration of the faithful prior to the new style beginning of the Prophets' Fast. The full press release can be found here.

St. Procla

Today is the feast of St. Procla, the righteous wife of Pontius Pilate who warned him to have nothing to do with His trial and condemnation. Ancient Faith Radio's podcast on her life can be found here. Joyous feast!

New Mexican Orthodox Website

The Diocese of Mexico of the American Orthodox Church now has its own website! Enjoy!

Quote of the Day: St. Nectarius of Pentapolis

"God reveals Himself to the humble, who live in accordance with virtue. Those who take up the wings of the imgination attempt the flight of Icharus and have same end. Those who harbor fantasies do not pray; for he that prays lifts his mind and heart towrds God, whereas he that turns to fantasies diverts himself. Those who are addicted to the imagination have withdrawn from God's grace and from the realm of Divine revelation. They have abandoned the heart in which grace is revealed and have surrendered themselves to the imagination, which is devoid of all grace. It is only the heart that receives knowledge about things that are not apprehended by the senses, because God, Who dwells and moves within it, speaks within it and reveals to it the substance of things hoped for."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Metropolitan Mar Athanasius on Iraq

Metropolitan Mar Athanasius of London of the Syriac Orthodox Church in an interview today called on all Christians in Iraq, regardless of faith, to immigrate because of the failure of the US government to ensure their physical safety and protect their human rights since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. See here for more.

Church Vandalized in Bishkek

Apparently crimes against churches are becoming more common as Kyrgyzstan becomes increasingly destabilized. St. Vladimir's Church in the country's capital, Bishkek, was vandalized this past weekend. Other Orthodox churches in the country as well as a cemetery have been vandalized, in most cases in the process of being searched for money and valuables. Interfax's story on the Bishkek robbery can be found here.

St. Demetrius the Great-Martyr

Joyous feast! St. Demetrius is one of the great saints of our church, but one I didn't know much about before moving to southern Michigan and living near a church dedicated to him there. May his blessings and prayers be with that church and with us all! An account of his life can be found here.

Quote of the Day: St. Tekle Haimanot

"Long-suffering, humility, and reverence for God - these three will lead you to eternal life. Envy, presumption, and pride - these three will pull you down to the depths of eternal fire."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Upcoming Meeting of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia

Please remember in your prayers the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia as its hierarchs, clergy, and lay delegates will be meeting shortly at the seat of their catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon, to discuss the place and mission of their Local Orthodox Church in the twenty-first century. The Catholicosate's press release on the upcoming meeting can be found here.

St. Tabitha the Widow

Joyous feast! "At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord." (Acts 9:36-42)

Quote of the Day: Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria

"If you happen to fall into temptation, do not let the guilt of sin be an obstacle to prayer. If you cease praying till you repent, you will never repent, for prayer is the door to genuine repentance."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Quote of the Day: Fr. Matthew the Poor

Therefore, the sign at the wedding in Cana of Galilee was the first sign of the glory of their Master and the greatest of all in the lives of the first five disciples, especially that of John!!

How greatly in need were the disciples, and how greatly are we in need of this level of receptivity and keen perception so that we can trace whatever Jesus does in our lives and in our world. Every single day He transforms everything before us and everything in our lives, but what we stand badly in need of is the ear that can hear and the eye that can see!

Not only the burning bush of Moses—but every tree as well is ablaze with divine fire without being burnt. Only those who have their eyes open can see and take off their shoes!!

Every single day our water is transformed into wine which in turn develops into holiness and everlasting life—and only those who abide at close quarters in expectation can see and savor the Lord and rejoice!

Friday, November 5, 2010

On Clergy Attire

Some thoughts from Archbishop Christodoulus of Athens of blessed memory on clergy attire can be found here. Very different from the thoughts of Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Hopefully the latter's won't be widely enforced as I know a great many Antiochian Orthodox clergy who ignore them in day-to-day life...

Quote of the Day: St. Augustine of Hippo

"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others."

Upcoming Commemoration of Metropolitan Philaret of New York

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the repose of Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) of New York he will be remembered at the festal services for the Archangels by both the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, who will serve at his crypt in the Jordanville Monastery. Metropolitan Philaret is widely venerated as a confessor, both within the Russian Orthodox Church and in other Local Orthodox Churches. His relics were also found to be incorrupt when they were translated to their present resting place in 2008.

The announcement on the upcoming services can be found here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quote of the Day: St. Justin the Confessor of Chelije

"The Lives of the Saints are nothing else but the life of the Lord Christ, repeated in every saint to a greater or lesser degree in this or that form. More precisely it is the life of the Lord Christ continued through the saints, the life of the incarnate God the Word, the God-man Jesus Christ who became man. This was so that as man He could give and transmit to us His Divine life, so that as God by His life He could sanctify and make immortal and eternal our human life on earth."

Kazan' Icon of the Mother of God

Joyous feast to everyone celebrating the Kazan' Icon's deliverance of Russia from the Poles! I remember Poland fondly, but I'm still thankful for their route back in the day ;-) (1612?). God knows nothing would be the same if they hadn't been!

A Life of Archbishop Joasaph (Skorodumov) of Edmonton

A good overview of the life of Archbishop Joasaph (Skorodumov) of Edmonton and Buenos Aires of blessed memory, whose repose was recently commemorated by Russian and Canadian Orthodox hierarchs in Montreal, can be found here. May his blessings and prayers be with us all!

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) on a "Great and Holy" Council and Other Issues

In a recent interview on Rhodes Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk expressed the belief that a "great and holy" council would take place within two or three years. He also noted the presence of a large group of Russian Orthodox Christians in Turkey and the need of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to expand its pastoral focus past Turkey's Greek minority to also include Orthodox immigrants from the former USSR. The full interview can be found here.

Orthodox Churches Burned in Karachayevo-Cherkessia

On Monday two Orthodox churches were burned in the Muslim majority republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia in southern Russia. Russian Transcaucasia has been destabilized for years by the war in Chechnya, but few churches outside Chechnya had been targeted by Islamists until now. Local authorities in Karachayevo-Cherkessia have already committed to rebuilding the churches.

St. Vladimir's Relics Stolen...and Recovered

Apparently the relics of St. Vladimir currently visiting American and Canadian Orthodox communities was recently stolen and then quickly recovered. And thank God too! I had no idea so few of St. Vladimir's relics remained...

Muslim Brotherhood Defends Coptic Orthodox Church

Muslim religious leaders in Egypt have issued statements in support of the Coptic Orthodox Church following threats against the Copts from an Al Qaeda affiliate in US-occupied Iraq. The Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist movement in Egypt, said that it was "stressing to all, and primarily [to] Muslims, that the protection of holy places of all monotheistic religions is the mission of the majority of Muslims," whilst the leader of Egypt's famous al-Azhar University said that the threats undermined Egyptian national unity. The threats were issued after the wives of Coptic Orthodox priests kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam were rescued and returned to their families, with Al Qaeda claiming the rescues were against the women's wills. The full story here.

Graves Vandalized in Turkey

Apparently on 28 October seventy-eight Orthodox Christian graves were vandalized on the island of Imbros. Imbros and its neighboring island, Tenedos, was 99% Orthodox Christian and Greek-speaking. After the islands' inclusion into Turkey at the end of World War I, however, the Turkish government forced and pressured the islands' Greek population into immigrating until only two or three hundred remain today as a minority in their homeland. Among others, the current Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and the recently reposed Archbishop Iakovos of New York were natives of Imbros. More here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Statue of Abune P'awlos to be Removed

Since the 2005 elections in Ethiopia there has been growing tension within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church between Patriarch Abune P'awlos, who was appointed by the current Ethiopian government when it came to power in the 1990s, and the Holy Synod. On 30 October the Holy Synod, which removed Abune P'awlos' administrative authority within the Church of Ethiopia a while ago, ordered that a statue of the patriarch erected at the new patriarchal church in Addis Abeba (Bole Medhane Alem) be removed. The statue wasn't up when I was last in Addis, but apparently it provoked a great deal of controversy as many felt it inappropriate to put up a statue of a living hierarch of the Church.

New Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

I'm a bit behind the times, but on Monday the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India enthroned its new first hierarch, Catholicos Basil Mar Thomas Paul I ("Baselios Mar Thoma Poulose I") of the East. The new catholicos leads the larger part of the Orthodox Church in India, which is in schism from its mother the Syriac Orthodox Church (which also maintains a large following in Kerala), but remains on good terms with its sister Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nineteenth UOCUSA Council

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (UOCUSA), a jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has just finished its nineteenth council ("sobor"). Among other things the assembled hierarchs, clergy, and representatives of the laity heard a report from a hierarch of the schismatic Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) on the state of that jurisdiction in the Ukraine. The UOCUSA was part of the UAOC until the 1990s when it united with the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Diocese of America. Its cemetery at St. Andrew's Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, New Jersey, is the burial site of a number of hierarchs of the UAOC, among them Patriarch Mstyslav of Kiev, the former metropolitan of the UOCUSA who moved to the Ukraine after it gained independence to reestablish the UAOC there. In addition to the greetings from the UAOC the council also received the greetings of Patriarch Bartholomew, who was represented by his exarch in North America, Archbishop Demetrius of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

New Christmas Carol

And now I'm going to skip over Thanksgiving entirely and move on to another popular US holiday, Christmas, and post a link about a new carol written by Maia Aprahamian on the basis of one of the Byzantine Rite festal hymns for the eve of the Lord's Nativity.

On Halloween

A great article on Halloween by Fr. Mark Sietsema of Holy Trinity Church in Lansing, Michigan, can be found here. I'd add to what he's written by saying that Halloween as it's observed in North America is a cultural holiday, but is also the eve of All Saints' day for Orthodox Christians following the Roman or Anglican Rite and therefore a holy day in and of itself.