Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nativity of the Mother of God

Joyous feast! Today we celebrate the Nativity of the Mother of God. Like many of the saints, the Mother of God was born to barren parents, Sts. Joachim and Anna, and was dedicated by them to God and eventually sent to dwell with the virgins living at the Temple in Jerusalem (an event we commemorate on the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God).

More on today's feast can be found here. May the protection and intercession of the Mother of God be with us all!

Friday, September 16, 2011

In Memoriam: Metropolitan Nikodim of Kharkiv

Metropolitan Nikodim (Rusnak) of Kharkiv of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church has fallen asleep at the age of ninety-one. A brief biography can be found here. May his memory be eternal! Вечная память!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paris Cathedral Celebrates 150th Anniversary

The Cathedral of St. Alexander of the Neva in Paris has celebrated the 150th anniversary of its consecration this past Sunday. The celebratory services were led by Archbishop Gabriel (de Vylder) of Comana, ruling hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe, and concelebrated by four other ruling and auxiliary hierarchs of the Constantinopolitan, Antiochian, and American Orthodox Churches and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Four other hierarchs of the Constantinopolitan, Serbian, and Romanian Orthodox Churches were also present at the services.

The celebrations were well attended, and following the Sunday Liturgy the ruling metropolitan of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church in France, Metropolitan Emmanuel (Adamakis) of Paris, read a congratulatory message to the cathedral parish from Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis). More (in French) here.

Malankara Orthodox Catholicoses Begin Hunger Strikes

The heads of both the independent Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the autonomous Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church have begun indefinite hunger strikes in protest over the ongoing dispute between their churches over the ownership of Sts. Peter and Paul's Church in Kolenchery, Kerala. More here and here.

Ecclesiastical New Year

Happy New Year!

Your forgiveness for the low level of posting that's been going on! I've been "settled" in Michigan since the end of August, but life is still a whirlwind as I continue to look for part-time work and a place to live come the end of October.

All that aside, now that I'm adjusted to the general rhythms of my new life I'm working towards developing a weekly schedule that will allot time for classes, work, church, and possibly even sleep (!) while also leaving regular time to update this blog.

Your prayers are, as always, greatly appreciated, especially about the job and the place to live - I'm finding it difficult to schedule time for classwork without a place of my own to retreat to and do it. (Your editor's a remarkably settled, routine-oriented person for someone who grew up in five countries.)

God grant you every joy and blessing in the New Year!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Excerpts from an Appeal from Archbishop Mark of Berlin

On 11 September 2011 the world [marks] a sorrowful anniversary - 10 years since the terrorist act in New York, when multitudes of innocent people died. This terrorist act, along with those that followed, clearly showed that wickedness, lawlessness and hatred are becoming more brazen. It has demonstrated how defenseless man is in this world. Also clear is that behind today’s terrorist acts are the bold lust for power and cynical political calculation.

The events in Beslan...once again showed the world how man is becoming degraded when he sinks into fanaticism in the name of ideology - whether religious, nationalistic or political. People today often hide behind faith in their god, but in reality they have lost all piety and as a result have no respect for humanity.

A human being who severs his relationship with God is transformed into a hater of mankind. We belong to that One Church which was established by the Savior. This deprives us of the right to hate, to treat others with disdain or despise their beliefs.

Belonging to the true Church of Christ, Catholic and Apostolic, obliges us to live fully in accordance with the commandments of the Gospel and to serve as an example of true Christian life to others. The living truth of Christ reveals to us our own sins and failings. With a pure heart, we repent in the fact that we ourselves serve as a poor example to the world of life according to the Gospel. Through genuine repentance, by transforming our hearts, we can bring others to the truth of Christ, but we cannot do this through self-aggrandizement or condemnation.

In...Russia, militant Islam is developing, as well as other militant ideologies of different colorations, from fascist to pseudo-liberal. But in my opinion, indifference to our own faith and to the beliefs of others contains no less a danger than alien fanaticism or cynicism and corruption. We Orthodox must truly grow into our faith and our traditions, we must fill ourselves with Christ and His love, and not simply fulfill some external rituals which we barely even understand. We must all learn to listen to our own hearts, listen to God, to immerse ourselves in prayer, and heed the words and thoughts of our neighbors.

How often we dismiss the sorrows and joys of our neighbors. Meanwhile, we forget: He who cannot listen to one’s neighbor can hardly listen to himself, being unable to hear the call of his heart, and heed God in his heart, his conscience. He does not then understand what is happening in his own heart. This is the first thing that we must learn. Only then can we be suffused with love and respect for man as God’s creation and can hope that the Lord will also bring others to this view of life, His holy gift.

11 September falls on a Sunday this year, and moreover, this is a day of fasting, precisely because this day, St. John the Baptist, who fervently loved God, was unjustly slain. Through prayer and fasting, said the Savior, the devil goeth not out but by prayer and fasting...

The full 11 September appeal by Archbishop Mark (Arndt) can be found here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Paris Exarchate Rejects Attempts to Change Nice Parish Affiliation

The Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe has released a French-language response to the efforts of the Russian government to have of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Nice, France, transferred to the care of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox diocese in France, the Eparchy of Korsun. The response notes in part the long association of the parish in Nice with the Exarchate and rejects the right of the Russian government, which now owns the cathedral, to expel the Exarchate's parish association. The full release (in French) can be found here.

Interestingly enough, when the Exarchate was first organized by Patriarch Photius II of Constantinople it was established as a "provisional exarchate" to provide a "provisional canonical settlement" for the Russian Orthodox parishes in Western Europe led by Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris, with a reference at the close of its organizing tomos to Patriarch Photius' hope for an end to the disunity of the Russian Orthodox Church, presumably so that the provisional arrangements that had been made would be just that.

Quote of the Day: St. Moses the Black

To die to one’s neighbor is this: To bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else wondering whether they are good or bad. Do no harm to anyone, do not think anything bad in your heart towards anyone, do not scorn the man who does evil, do not put confidence in him who does wrong to his neighbor, do not rejoice with him who injures his neighbor. This is what dying to one’s neighbor means.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ukraine Considers Special Status for Ukrainian Catholic Church

A proposal has been made in the Ukrainian Parliament to designate the Ukrainian Catholic Church as a "politically repressed church" with special legal rights due to its persecution during the Soviet era. More here.

Patriarchal Visit to Syria Postponed by Russian Orthodox Church

The planned visit of Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of the Russian Orthodox Church to Syria and Lebanon is likely to be postponed due to the ongoing unrest in Syria. More here.

Coptic Orthodox Pope Returns to Cairo

Pope Sehnouda III (al-Suriani) of the Coptic Orthodox Church has returned to Cairo from his latest three-week visit to the United States for medical care. More here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Athens Mosque Plans Approved

The Greek Parliament has approved plans to build a mosque for the large Muslim minority in Athens, which until now has been without adequate spaces for their Friday prayers. More here.

Abkhaz Orthodox Faction Calls for Quick Autocephaly, Use of Abkhaz

Abkhazian Orthodox remain divided between two pro-autocephaly factions, one hoping for the help of the Moscow Patriarchate in negotiating autocephaly for the Church of Abkhazia from the Georgian Orthodox Church and the other pressing more strongly for immediate autocephaly and the wider use of the Abkhaz language in the divine services. More here.

Islamists Threaten to Destroy Upper Egyptian Church

Controversy has erupted in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Aswan over the reconstruction of St. George's Church in the village of Elmarinab. The originally church was built over a century ago and was recently renovated using plans approved by the local authorities and reopened in June only to face protests from Islamists from neighboring villages who claim that there was never a church on the site and that they will destroy the church and use its remains as a mosque if Elmarinab's Copts do not agree to remove the church's crosses and domes by tomorrow. More here.

Assyrian Patriarch Begins Australia Visit

Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV (Khananya) of Seleucia-Ctesiphon has begun a pastoral visit to the Assyrian Church of the East in Australia. More here.

Pochaev Privatization Proposal Provokes Protests

A bill in the Ukrainian Parliament proposing the privatization of the Pochaev Lavra, which is inhabited by monks belonging to the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, has, unsurprisingly, been met with protests from Ukrainian nationalists and members of the hierarchy of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Lavra, which has been a bastion of loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate in western Ukraine, is seen by the Kiev Patriarchate and others as a Ukrainian national shrine that should remain under the oversight of the Ukrainian government. More here.

Memorial Church, Mosque to be Built for Sunken Volga Ship

It has been announced that a memorial chapel and mosque will be built in the Tatarstani village of Syukeyevo in honor of the victims of the sinking of the Bulgaria, which sank near Syukeyevo on the Volga. The foundation stone for the chapel was laid at a ceremony yesterday by Archbishop Anastasiy of Kazan' in the presence of Tatarstani officials and local Tatar Muslim clergymen. More (in Russian) here.

New Bishop of Lipljan Consecrated in Pech

This past Sunday Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) and several other hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Jovan (Culibrk) as Bishop of Lipljan at the seat of the Patriarchate in Pech, Kosovo. More (in Serbian) here.

Russian, Armenian Orthodox Academic Institutions Sign Agreement

The St. Petersburg Theological Academy of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Gevorkian Theological Seminary of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Echmiadzin have signed an agreement to foster the development of joint efforts in the educational and publishing spheres. More here.

New Bishop of Kamensk Consecrated in Irkutsk

During his recent pastoral visit to the Irkutsk Region in central Siberia Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow celebrated the consecration of Archimandrite Seraphim (Kuz'minov) as Bishop of Kamensk and Alpayevsk in the catholicon of Irkutsk's Monastery of Our Lady of the Sign. The services were concelebrated in the presence of the relics of St. Innocent of Irkutsk by the patriarch and twelve other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The eparchy of the newly consecrated bishop is one of the newer dioceses established by the Church for the faithful living in the region of the Ural Mountains. More (in Russian) here.

Echmiadzin Catholicos Visits Artsakh

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has made a pastoral visit to the Republic of Artsakh, formerly the autonomous Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the republic's proclamation of independence. More here.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Consecrates Tyvan Cathedral, Meets with Kamby Lama

As part of his recent pastoral visit to Siberia Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow visited the Republic of Tyva, where he consecrated the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyzyl, the Tyvan capital, and received a copy of a translation of the Bible into the Tyvan language. During his time in the republic, the first by a head of the Russian Orthodox Church to Tyva, Patriarch Kirill also met with the leader of the Tyva's large Buddhist community, the Kamby Lama. More (in Russian) here and here.

New Bishop of Nakhodka Consecrated in Magadan

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and nine other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church have consecrated Archimandrite Nikolai (Dutki) as Bishop of Nakhodka and Preobrazhensk in Holy Trinity Cathedral in Magadan. Bishop Nikolai will be shepherding the recently created Eparchy of Nakhodka in the Russian Far East's Primorye Territory. More (in Russian) here.

In Memoriam: Metropolitan Emilianos of Kos

Retired Metropolitan Emilianos of Kos and Nisyros of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church in Greece fell asleep today at a nursing home in Athens. Metropolitan Emilianos was a graduate of the Halki Theological Seminary and in addition to a number of assignments served as the first Metropolitan of Brussels of the Church of Constantinople. More on his life can be found here. May Metropolitan Emilianos' memory be eternal!

Nice Cathedral Remains Independent of Moscow Patriarchate

Controversy continues to surround the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Nice, France, where the former parish association of the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe continues to refuse to transfer de facto control over the cathedral to its legal owner, the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Korsun, which has care of the cathedral, has already appointed new clergy to serve the Nice cathedral and ordered that the entrance fees previously charged on visitors to the cathedral be abolished. More here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Prayers Requested for Goldendale Monastery

Please remember the sisterhood of St. John's Monastery in Goldendale, Washington, in your prayers! A wildfire in southern Washington has reached the Monastery's grounds and the nuns and local residents have been evacuated while firemen seek to contain the fire.

Update (8/9/2011): Thank God, St. John's Monastery did not suffer any damage to its buildings during the wildfire, although nine homes in the area were destroyed. More here.

ROCOR Metropolitan Visits Holy Land

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, during his time there meeting with Patriarch Theophilos III (Giannopoulos) of Jerusalem and concelebrating the services with the heads and clergy of both the patriarchal and synodal Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Missions in Jerusalem. More here and here.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Russian Far East's Largest Cathedral Consecrated in Magadan

As part of his ongoing visit to Siberia and the Far East Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow has consecrated the Russian Far East's largest church, the Cathedral of the Trinity in Magadan. More here.

First Hierarchs of Ancient Orthodox Churches Gather in Constantinople

A synaxis of the ancient Local Orthodox Churches in the Middle East bringing together Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople, Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria, Patriarch Theophilos III (Giannopoulos) of Jerusalem, Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) of Nea Justiniana, and a representative of Patriarch Ignatios IV (Hazim) of Antioch, Bishop Isaac of Apamea, has been held at the patriarchal Church of St. George in Constantinople. During the meeting the assembled hierarchs discussed issues relating to the life of the Orthodox Church in the Middle East and Africa as well as the preparations for a general council of the Local Orthodox Churches. More (in Greek) here and here.

Pittsburgh Metropolitan Resigns

Metropolitan Maximos (Aghiorgoussis) of Pittsburgh of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has resigned due to health-related issues from oversight of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has accepted the resignation, whilst Metropolitan Nicholas (Pissare) of Detroit has been appointed locum tenens for the vacant metropolis. More here.