Let all the trees of the wood, planted from the beginning of time, rejoice; for their nature hath been sanctified by the stretching of Christ on the Tree. Wherefore, now, we worship Him, lifted up, and magnify Him.
+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 8
By the mere planting of thy Cross, O Christ, the foundation of death did shake; for him whom Hades did swallow eagerly, it delivered up with trembling; for verily, thou didst reveal to us thy salvation, O holy One. Wherefore, do we glorify thee, O Son of God. Have mercy upon us.
+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 6
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. Two events connected to the Honorable Cross of our Lord are commemorated this day: first, the finding of the Cross by the Empress Helena in the Holy Land; and second, the return of the Cross from Persia to Jerusalem in the year 628.
Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) conducted an interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 10. OCN writes:
"OCN Executive Director Fr. Christopher Metropulos spoke with His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph in Washington, DC, where both are attending the IDC Summit calling attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. ... Members of Metropolitan Joseph’s family have been killed and wounded in this crisis, and he notes that nearly every family in his Archdiocese has been impacted in some way. 'We cannot accept the Middle East without Christians,' he says. 'That would be an unforgivable crime.' In this interview, Metropolitan Joseph shares his faith in the power of being a servant. Raised in a monastery, he feels deeply honored by the opportunity to serve that he has been given. His Eminence also describes his insights into the healing and blessing that comes when faith replaces fear, and we offer courageous and loving service to one another."
"We want our children first and foremost to be converted to Christ, to know repentance, to know what it meant to offer themselves and the whole world to God at the Divine Liturgy, to win the struggle with evil, and to be wise with the wisdom of the saints, and then, yes, to articulate their faith. Their spiritual strength is what will count in the end," observed Department of Christian Education Director Carole Buleza at the beginning of the 2014-2015 Church School year.
Several noteworthy resources are worth highlighting as Sunday School commences across the Archdiocese. New materials, guidelines, and submission information for the 2015 Creative Festivals have been posted to Antiochian.org. Themed "The 100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of St. Raphael," the Festivals include art, photography, poetry and creative writing.
Additionally, the Department of Youth organizes the Bible Bowl and the Oratorical Festivals, and has a variety of new resources available for preparation for those events. The Festivals are hosted by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine. Topics are always developed and printed by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry with the blessing of the Metropolitan.
Bishop John visited Metropolitan Joseph on July 26, 2014, to receive his blessings and a message for the readers of The Word. Metropolitan Joseph was hospitable, candid and loving. Here is what he had to say.
We thank God for all of His blessings, wisdom and guidance bestowed upon us. I thank our Father in Christ, Patriarch John X, for his leadership, love and constant prayers for this Archdiocese. We pray to almighty God that He will grant our Father, Patriarch John X, strength and perseverance during this critical time in the life of our Patriarchate, especially the challenges and danger facing the people and land of the Middle East. We thank my brother Metropolitans, the members of the Holy Synod of Antioch, for their confidence, their love and their support. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank my brother hierarchs of this Archdiocese for all of their hard work, godly ministry and efforts to maintain the unity and strength of our Archdiocese. We pray that the merciful God will remember our beloved Metropolitan Philip in His heavenly Kingdom and will reward him richly for all of the accomplishments realized during his half-century ministry. He left for us a big legacy to build upon.
Now we begin a new chapter in the life the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese is not one person, but the whole body; metropolitan, hierarchs, clergy, monastics and all the believers.
This is the day of the Lord; wherefore, rejoice ye nations; for behold the chamber of Light, the scroll of the Word of life hath come forth from the womb; the gate facing the east hath been born. Wherefore, she awaiteth the entrance of the High Priest. And she alone admitted Christ into the universe for salvation of our souls.
+ Doxastikon of the Feast, Tone 6
On August 14–17, 2014, the NAC Fellowship of St. John the Divine hosted the Orthodox Young Professionals Conference in San Diego, CA. This conference, the culmination of a year-long effort, was the first of its kind for any Orthodox jurisdiction.
Co-Chaired by Kyra Pelachik and Fadi George Madanat, the Orthodox Young Professionals Conference brought together 125 Orthodox young adults representing every major metropolitan area in the United States, as well as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ontario, Canada. The conference gave attendees an opportunity to network, listen to prominent speakers, engage in very meaningful and practical discussions about their faith, and learn about the interdependence between their personal lives and the life of the Church.
His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, in special attendance at the conference, shared his vision for Orthodoxy in North America.
Hotel Information and General Schedule Now Available for the Enthronement Weekend and Patriarchal Visit
Our block of hotel rooms at the Brooklyn Marriott is sold out for Friday and Saturday evening. You can try booking directly at marriott.com. You may continue to check the link below as rooms may pop up from time to time if people cancel. You can also check other hotels in the area including the Sheraton Brooklyn.
Archpriest Thomas Zain, Archdiocese Vicar-General, writes on September 2:
Greetings to you and your families as we begin a new ecclesiastical year. Preparations are underway for the visit of His Beatitude, Patriarch John X and the upcoming enthronement of our new Metropolitan. As we finalize the schedule for the weekend and work out details for the banquet, I wanted to share with you the link to make your hotel reservations at the Brooklyn Marriott. The rate is $299.00 a night plus tax. The deadline for reservations is November 7, 2014. Further detailed information regarding the weekend and the banquet will be forthcoming sometime in the near future.
The following is the general schedule. Times and banquet information will be added in later in the month and we will post them on the archdiocese website as they are confirmed.
"O Word of the Father from before the ages, Who, being in the form of God, broughtest creation into being out of nothing; Thou Who hast put the times and seasons in Thine own power: Bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness; give peace unto Thy churches, victory unto Thy faithful hierarchs, fruitfulness unto the earth, and Great Mercy unto us."
--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 3
Read Fr. Michael Harper's reflection, "The Orthodox New Year."
The memory of the righteous is celebrated with songs of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. Thou wast shown indeed to be the most honorable of the prophets, for in the waters thou didst baptize Him Who had been proclaimed. After suffering with joy in behalf of the truth, thou didst proclaim even to those in Hades the God Who appeared in the flesh, Who takest away the sin of the world, and granteth us the Great Mercy.
—Troparion of the Feast, Tone 2
Read the Patriarchate of Antioch's reflection, Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
The September 2014 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:
From Uncertainty to Confidence - Editorial
by Bishop John
Address by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph
The Road to Damascus: My Conversion
by Brett Heide
In a historic meeting on August 17, 2014, His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, hosted His Holiness Mar Ignatius Ephrem II, Patriarch of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, along with a distinguished delegation traveling with him. The meeting took place at the ancient St. George Antiochian Orthodox Monastery located in the "Valley of the Christians" in the town of Meshtaye in northwestern Syria. Before his election to the Patriarchate, His Holiness served as Archbishop of the Eastern United States for the Syriac Orthodox Church.
A complete English translation of the welcoming speech by Patriarch John X can be read at Notes on Arab Orthodoxy. Patriarch John X said in part:
It is a great pleasure for me to say to you, "How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together!"
The Psalmist once said this and today your sweet faces and the smiles of your children say this. The stone of this holy monastery say this. If they could speak, they would sing of their longing to see loved ones and would chant welcome to them all as living stones in the body of the Antiochian Church that first sang the name of Christ and spread it to the lips of all humankind. We welcome you most warmly. It is better for us to say: welcome to your home in the Monastery of Saint George. Our meeting today is a message to the world that the seeds of Christian unity will by watered first by us in Antioch, just as Jesus' disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
It is with great pleasure that we announce that the events related to the Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph will take place during the weekend of December 5 through 7, 2014, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. The actual enthronement will take place in conjunction with Vespers on Saturday, December 6.
We will be greatly blessed by the presence of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, who will preside during this weekend.
The details concerning the schedule for the weekend, the hotel accommodations, and the banquet information are still being finalized, and will be communicated to all of you as soon as they are confirmed.
By Christopher Holwey, Chair of the Department of Sacred Music
The Sacred Music Institute (SMI), held this year from July 23-27 at Antiochian Village, has been getting better each year. I'm not being biased simply in my role as the Department Chair. Rather, looking at the SMI's progression from year to year, I see the quality of our instructors, speakers, and program, improving on an academic and spiritual level.
More than ever, this year our speakers were educated and trained musically and theologically, coming from many of our Orthodox jurisdictions. They helped our participants grow in the same way, musically, technically, vocally, and theologically, in their understanding of Orthodoxy and the sacred music of our Church. We learned the hymns of our Church with regard to our theme, "Pascha," and then we presented this music in a concert, utilizing the talents of our Sacred Music Chorale and our newly formed Byzantine Choir.
--from The Lamentations at the Bier of the Mother of God, Tone 5
O thou most Holy Virgin, who knew not wedlock, the heavens rejoice in thy glorious falling asleep, the hosts of angels are glad, and the whole earth crieth out in joy, singing to thee the funeral song, O Mother of the Lord of all, thou who hast delivered human kind from its ancestral condemnation.
--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 4
The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos: an introduction by Archpriest Ayman Kfouf
A Description of the Theotokos by St. Maximus the Confessor
Tender Love and the Dormition: Frederica Mathewes-Green on Ancient Faith Radio
Mary, Our Cause of Rejoicing, by His Grace Bishop Basil
The 2015 Oratorical Conference theme for the Antiochian Archdiocese has been announced as the "100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of Saint Raphael." Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny), much beloved by the American Syrian community he served during the early years of Orthodoxy on the North American continent, reposed in 1915 and was canonized in 2000 as St. Raphael of Brooklyn. This year's Creative Arts, Bible Bowl, and Oratorical Festivals held across the U.S. and Canada will feature his life and legacy.
"Thou hast been transfigured, O Saviour, on Mount Tabor, indicating the transformation of mankind which shall take place at thy dreadful Second Coming. Moses and Elijah did converse with thee. But thy Disciples, whom thou didst call, when they beheld thy glory, O Master, were dazzled by thy brightness. Wherefore, O thou who didst at that time cause thy light to shine on them, lighten our souls."
+ First Kathisma of the Feast
"O thou holy One who hast sanctified the whole universe by thy light, thou hast been transfigured on a high mountain, and hast shown thy Disciples thy might and that thou shalt deliver the world from transgression. Wherefore, do we cry out to thee, O compassionate Lord, save our souls."
+ Idiomelon of the Feast
At the July 2014 Archdiocesan organizational meetings at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America (AOCWNA), represented by North American Board President Violet Robbat, and Vice President/Project Coordinator Dianne O'Regan, announced the total contributions received to date for the 2013-2014 Project: "Help the Orphans of War in Syria." On behalf of the Antiochian Women across North America, these women were honored to present a check to His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph for $283,055.55, the largest amount ever raised in a single year during the forty year history of the Antiochian Women!
Middle Eastern Violence and the Place of Christians in the Region Addressed in Patriarchal Statements
The Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has issued two statements regarding, first, the violence in Iraq, Syria, and Gaza, and second, the place of Christians throughout the region.
At a time when Syria's wounds have been bleeding for more than three years, amidst the wounds of Iraq, which has experienced conflict since the 1980's, amidst the unrest that is sweeping countries near and far, and amidst the world's indifference to Palestine's wounds, which have not healed in almost seventy years, these days in particular we are witnessing a multiplication of these wounds in the expulsion of Mosul's Christians and the all-out assault on Gaza amidst a disgraceful international silence.
The cycle of violence sweeping Iraq and Syria, expelling peaceful citizens has not let up, as recent events in Iraq and specifically in Mosul have completed the series of murder, religious prejudice, and terror.
We strongly condemn attacks on any segment of society in this Middle East and we especially condemn the attack on the Christians of Mosul and their being compelled by force of arms to change their religion under the penalty of paying the Jizya or abandoning their homes and having their property confiscated.
Knowing that she is eternally present at the throne of God interceding for mankind, we pray for her love, guidance, and protection. Every year the Orthodox Church sets aside the first fourteen days of August in honor of the Virgin Mary. This fast period is climaxed on August 15th, when the Church gathers to celebrate the Great Feast of the Dormition (Falling-Asleep) of the Theotokos.
On Sunday, July 27, 2014, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph visited St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY for the first time since his election. Saint Nicholas is the Mother Cathedral of the Archdiocese and the seat of the new metropolitan. Although many of the Cathedral faithful were out of town for summer vacations and travels to visit family overseas, a large crowd nevertheless came to greet Metropolitan Joseph.
During his homily, Sayidna Joseph told the congregation that while this was his first visit to the historic Cathedral as metropolitan, it would not by any means be his last. At the end of the Hierarchical Liturgy, Cathedral Dean and Vicar-General Archpriest Thomas Zain, and Vice-Chairman of the Cathedral Council Mr. Samir Khoury, presented His Eminence with an engolpion (an episcopal medallion) of the Theotokos, offered as a gift from all the Cathedral clergy and faithful. Many years to our new metropolitan!
Additional photographs follow below.