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"What is This Victory?" Metropolitan Joseph on the Sunday of Orthodoxy

On March 1, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of Orthodoxy at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, with host The Very Reverend Thomas Zain. Other hierarchs present were The Right Reverend Michael, bishop of New York and New Jersey (Orthodox Church in America); The Right Reverend Bishop Nicholas, auxiliary of Brooklyn and resident assistant to the Metropolitan; and His Grace John, bishop of Naro-Fominsk and administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.

For the evening's Vespers, Metropolitan Joseph joined Bishop Michael, Bishop Nicholas, area clergy, Antiochian seminarians, and the faithful who braved the snowy weather, at St. John the Baptist (OCA) in Passaic, NJ. He offered the following reflections on the significance of the day. (View the photo gallery on Facebook.)

Nurturing the Seeds of Orthodoxy: March is Antiochian Women's Month

March is Antiochian Women's Month across our Archdiocese. In the article that follows, you will find an important prepatory letter from Dianne O'Regan, Vice President/Project Coordinator for the North American Board of the Antiochian Women, who has outlined this year's observance, and the focus of the 2014-2015 Project.

In his letter attached below, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

"The Antiochian Women never tire of doing good works. And so for 2015, I have given them two new Projects—two new visions for the Antiochian Archdiocese: Monastic Communities and Regional Camping and Learning Centers."

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Today hath appeared, a day full of joy, because the splendor of true doctrine shineth forth brilliantly, and the Church of Christ now sparkleth, adorned by the elevation of the Icons of the saints and their illustrating pictures, and believers attain there a unity rewarded of God.

+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 4

On the first Sunday in Lent, we commemorate the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 A.D. upholding the use of holy icons in Orthodox worship. We also commemorate today the unity of Orthodox belief and the oneness of our Faith throughout our various jurisdictions, nations and languages and across the continents and the centuries.

Read more about the Orthodox theology of icons.

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Founder's Day with Florida Community

Photo: Naples Daily NewsPhoto: Naples Daily NewsSt. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Naples, Florida's celebration of its 18th annual Founder's Day over the weekend of February 21 and 22 included a dinner, group talks, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy graced by the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. The Metropolitan was joined by His Grace Bishop Antoun and their host, Archpriest Joseph Shaheen.

Several hundred people filled the church for Sunday's Liturgy, with dignitaries in attendance from around the United States. In his remarks to the Florida community, Metropolitan Joseph said Christians must refuse the path of violence, instead choosing the harder road of forgiveness.

"We will not be hostages, and we will not be puppets for anyone, and we stand for peace. ... We do not condone violence. We want open dialogue and peaceful resolution to any issues."

Anniversary of the Repose of Metropolitan Philip

Metropolitan Philip of Thrice-Blessed Memory Celebrates Pascha in 2013Metropolitan Philip of Thrice-Blessed Memory Celebrates Pascha in 2013His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings to you and your families as we begin our season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. I pray you are having a blessed beginning of the Fast.

March 19 will mark the one-year anniversary of the falling-asleep of our beloved Metropolitan PHILIP of thrice-blessed memory. It is hard to believe a whole year has already passed since our father and chief-shepherd of more than 48 years reposed. His life and legacy will continue to be with us and inspire us for many years to come. May God rest his soul with the saints and may his memory be eternal!

So that we might commemorate this anniversary in a unified way, I am directing all of our hierarchs and clergy to hold Trisagion Prayers of Mercy in their respective parishes throughout the entire archdiocese on Sunday, March 22 (the Fourth Sunday of the Fast) at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.

I will preside over the official memorial at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY on that Sunday along with several guest hierarchs from our sister jurisdictions.

Cheesefare Sunday (Forgiveness Sunday)

O Lord, we were estranged before from paradise, because of eating from the tree. Therefore, lead us into it again by Thy Cross and by Thy Passion, my Savior and my God. Fortify us therein that we may fulfill our fast with becoming purity, and worship Thy divine Resurrection and Passover of salvation, by the intercessions of Thy Mother.

-- from Orthros, Tone 2

For those observing the Lenten Fast, Cheese-Fare Sunday is the last day on which eggs and dairy are eaten before Pascha.

On Cheese-Fare Sunday, we also commemorate the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, entering into the Lenten fast in remembrance of mankind's separation from God through disobeying his commandment to fast from the fruit of the tree.

Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2015

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant. Yea O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages, Amen.
(Prayer of St. Ephraim The Syrian)

We greet you with anticipation as we draw near to the beginning of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The beautiful prayer above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we struggle to draw nearer to God.

Meatfare Sunday (Sunday of the Last Judgment)

The trumpets shall blow, and the graves shall be empty, and all mankind shall rise trembling. They who have done good shall rejoice with joy, expecting their reward; and those who have done evil shall tremble greatly, moaning and shaking, as they are sent to suffering, separated from the elect. Wherefore, O Lord of glory, be compassionate toward us, and make us worthy to be of those who love thee; for thou art good.

- from Vespers, Tone 6

For those observing the Lenten Fast, Meatfare Sunday is the last day on which meat and poultry are eaten before Pascha.

To learn more about the season of pre-Lenten preparation, please visit our Great Lent section.

Catechesis by St. Theodore the Studite on Meatfare Sunday

Read more about Meatfare Sunday, in an excerpt from Great Lent by Alexander Schmemann.

Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko's reflections on the Sunday of the Last Judgment on Ancient Faith Radio.

The Enthronement of Metropolitan Joseph: Celebrations of East and West

Imagine the spiritual renewal, excitement, festivities and joyful reunion of the clergy and laity at a Parish Life Conference or an Archdiocesan Convention – in the middle of winter.

Antiochian Orthodox Christians on this continent did not have to wait until summertime for such large gatherings. We had great cause for celebration before then – the enthronement of a new metropolitan, the first that the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America had celebrated in 48 years.

The Archdiocese came together twice this winter – first in Brooklyn, and then in Los Angeles – to celebrate the beginning of the leadership of its new father and chief shepherd: His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph. Inaugurating the first celebration was none other than his roommate in the late 1970s at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece, who is now the successor to the throne of the Apostles Peter and Paul: His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East. (View photo galleries, video, and press releases in Antiochian.org's special Enthronement section)

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

When I disobey in ignorance thy fatherly glory, I wasted in iniquities the riches that thou gavest me. Wherefore, I cry to thee with the voice of the prodigal son, saying, I have sinned before thee, O compassionate Father, receive me repentant, and make me as one of thy hired servants.

- Kontakion, Tone 3

I have been entrusted with a verdant and faultless region, but I planted evil in its soil and reaped its cares with the scythe of laziness. And I gathered my deeds into sheaves but placed them not on the threshing-floor of repentance. Wherefore, I ask thee, O divine Husbandman, to winnow the straw of my deeds with the breeze of thy compassionate love; and fill my soul with the wheat of forgiveness. Store me in thy heavenly garners and save me.

- from Vespers, Tone 1

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Milestones with Chicago Community

Metropolitan Joseph elevates Fr. MousaMetropolitan Joseph elevates Fr. MousaView the photos by Toni Milak and Sami Studio.

Between January 15– 18, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph made his first visit to Chicago as Metropolitan, to St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, IL, to join Fr. Mousa Haddad, Fr. Malek Rihani, and their parishioners. Throughout the weekend, His Eminence and the St. Mary community celebrated the tremendous growth the church has experienced since starting as a mission only eleven years ago, and looked forward in anticipation of the expansion and renovation of their recently purchased building.

On Thursday January 15 His Eminence, accompanied by His Grace Bishop Nicholas, were welcomed at Chicago's O'Hare airport by a large delegation led by Fr. Mousa and Mr. Luai Sweiss, the Chairman of St. Mary's Parish Council. This delegation included the Antiochian clergy of the Chicagoland area, local members of the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees, and parish community leaders. After the arrival of His Eminence, the group was treated to a wonderful lunch hosted by Board of Trustees member Constantin Kari.

Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple + February 2

Adorn thy chamber, O Zion, and receive Christ the King. Welcome Mary the heavenly gate; for she hath appeared as a cherubic throne; she carrieth the King of glory. Verily, the Virgin is a cloud of light carrying in her body the Son Who is before the morning star, Whom Simeon carrying in his arms proclaimed to the nations as the Lord of life and death, and the Savior of our souls.
-Vespers of the Feast, Tone 7

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous old man, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.
-Apolytikion of the Feast, Tone 1

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

O Lord, Thou didst reproach the Pharisee when he justified himself, boasting of his deeds; and justified the Publican when he approached humbly, seeking forgiveness with sighs; for Thou dost not draw near to arrogant thoughts, nor turn away contrite hearts. Wherefore, we also kneel before Thee meekly, O Thou Who didst suffer for our sakes. Grant us forgiveness and the Great Mercy.

+ Doxasticon from Orthros, Tone 8

When the Pharisee went down with empty glory, and the publican bowed himself in repentance, they came to Thee alone, O Master. But the one through boasting lost his reward, and the other by his silence deserved gifts. Wherefore, by those sighs confirm me, O Christ God, since Thou art the Lover of mankind.

+ from the Praises at Orthros, Tone 1

February Liturgical Texts are Now Available

St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral of Los Angeles, CA, celebrates the Ceremony of the Presentation of BoysSt. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral of Los Angeles, CA, celebrates the Ceremony of the Presentation of BoysThe liturgical texts for the month of February, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide. This month, the Orthodox Church finishes the forty-day celebration of Christmas right as it begins its journey into Great Lent.

February 2 marks the Great Feast of the Meeting (Presentation) of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ into the ancient Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-40). This was not some random meeting. This feast celebrates our forty-day-old incarnate Lord's first official encounter and manifestation with His people in the person of Simeon. In one of many acts of extreme humility, the divine Word thus lowers Himself and submits to the law in order to fulfill it and save mankind. In honor of this, churches offer the Ceremony of the Presentation of Boys, where our young men receive an extra blessing on this day.

Bishop Nicholas to Speak on St. Raphael at Schmemann Lecture

His Grace Nicholas (Ozone), auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and resident assistant to Metropolitan Joseph, will speak at the 32nd Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture, Friday, January 30, at 7 p.m., on "The Life and Ministry of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn." In 2015, the Antiochian Archdiocese will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of St. Raphael with many commemorations related to the Centennial Jubilee.

The free lecture will take place in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, 575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, NY 10707, and a public reception will follow. (Listen to an interview about the Lecture on Ancient Faith Radio.)

Share the Light Sunday Highlights the Ministry of OCN

From the Orthodox Christian Network website:

Do you benefit from Orthodox Christian Network's ministry? Do you believe in creating a powerful media outreach for Orthodox Christianity? Then please stand with us at OCN as we seek to share our timeless Orthodox Christian Faith with the world!

On January 18th, OCN begins its Share the Light Sunday Campaign for 2015. You and your parish can support OCN in a number of ways:

  • Read the 2015 Encyclical and pass a tray on a Sunday morning.
  • Share with everyone OCN's 10 cent a day campaign. With 100% of donations going to mission, not overhead, you can help us expand and bring comfort, inspiration, and information to Orthodox Christians and seekers worldwide.
  • Add OCN as a line item into your annual parish budget.

Jubilee Year of the Repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn

Letter regarding the Jubilee Year of the repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn, to be read from the pulpit, published in church bulletins and newsletters, and posted on parish websites:

January, 2015

Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Parish Councils, Department Chairs and Beloved Faithful:

Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you all enjoyed a blessed feast of Theophany.

2015 is an historic year in the life of our God-protected archdiocese. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the falling-asleep of St. Raphael of Brooklyn as well as the 120th anniversary of our Mother Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn and, therefore, our Antiochian presence on these blessed shores.

Our father in Christ, Patriarch JOHN X, inaugurated this jubilee year during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn on December 7th. Throughout 2015, we will mark this anniversary at various places and locations, including, but not limited to, the Antiochian Village, St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, the archdiocese convention in Boston and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. Likewise, the theme of our convention and parish life conferences, as well as the various festivals and contests is centered on, and will reflect on the life of this "good shepherd of the lost sheep in America."

2015 Archdiocese Mid-Winter Meetings

UPDATE JANUARY 8: REGISTRATION LINK BELOW HAS BEEN CORRECTED.

Register online here
Download the tentative schedule

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, the 2015 Archdiocese Mid-Winter Meetings will be held at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA, February 6-8, 2015. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO will gather for their annual Mid-Winter meetings to conduct the business of our Archdiocese organizations. Travel, lodging, and registration information is below. Please contact your NAC/NAB President if you have any questions.

Homily of Patriarch John X for the New Year

On January 1, 2015, His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, offered a homily at Maryamiyya Cathedral for the start of the new year. (Arabic original here.)

Brother hierarchs and beloved clergy,

"We are at the threshold of a new year. The newness does not lie in the year. The newness lies in our determination to transform time in favor of the truth, to give time a meaning other than the meaning that we know, for time to be an expression of the holiness of our life and our existence, for us to breathe into it the spirit of God's grace that is within us, so that its eternity will return to it and it will reach the shores of our holiness. The newness does not lie in the year, but in our resolve to shape our being anew... Shaping our being means opening our arms to the poor and the vulnerable in the world, for us to be a force for ending their weakness and liberating them from their humiliation. Shaping our being makes us cream to sate the hungry, a coat to clothe the naked, a right hand to take the lame and guide them to good pastures." —The Homily of Patriarch Elias IV for the New Year, 1971

"'For this the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' This is the beginning of the preaching career of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is His program and His plan... These words are two thousand years old. These words are ancient but they ring in our ears as though they were spoken today. Christ spoke them two thousand years ago, recalling the wretched, the poor and the broken-hearted." —The Homily of Patriarch Ignatius IV for the New Year, 1997

On this day the hearts of the faithful orient themselves to the Lord, the Creator, that He might grant peace to the world, the whole world.

Theophany of Our Lord + January 6

Tone 4

O Jordan River, why wast thou astonished at beholding the Invisible naked? And he answereth, saying, I beheld Him and trembled; for how shall I not tremble and fear, when the angels trembled at sight of Him, heaven was astounded, earth was encompassed by trepidation, and the sea was bashful, with all things visible and invisible; for Christ hath appeared in the Jordan to bless the waters.

Tone 1

He that encompasseth the heavens with clouds putteth on today the courses of the Jordan; and He that lifteth the sin of the world, cleanseth and purifieth me. Yea, the Spirit hath testified of Him from on high that He is the only Son of the Father on high. Let us, therefore, shout to Him, crying, O Thou Who didst appear and save us, glory to Thee.