Syria! The name itself inspires awe and wonder. Archaeologists have proven that Syria was the cradle of civilization, and where agriculture and trade routes appeared for the first time. Its capital – Damascus – is widely considered to be the world's oldest city. Antioch was also part of early Syria and was invaded by the Roman armies in 64 B.C., making it the third-largest city in the Roman empire. Syria continued to grow and become a major center of trade and industry in the ancient world.
After the ministry, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ, it was in Syria where a young man named Saul (who later took the name Paul) was converted on his way to Damascus. It was in Antioch where St. Paul set off on many of his journeys to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Antioch, "the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:26).
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, the 2014 Mid-Winter Meetings will be hosted by St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, and will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 7-9, 2014. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, the Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO will gather to conduct the business of our Archdiocese organizations. Please contact each individual organization's president for specific questions.
Travel, lodging, and registration information:
- Group rate of $129.00/night at the Holiday Inn Express Scottsdale North
- Conveniently located just 4 miles (10 minute drive) from the church
February 14-17, 2014
With Fr. Demetrios Makoul, dean of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Cathedral of St. George in Pittsburgh and licensed professional counselor
- Enjoy time with each other during this special weekend designed to give healthy married couples assistance in becoming "one"
- Attend to your marriage away from the distractions and "busy-ness" of daily life
Desire, Scripture, and Change: Reading the Bible in the Orthodox Tradition, pg. 4
by Fr. John Oliver
Love Your Enemies, pg. 10
by Fr. Andrew Harmon
World Council of Churches Statement, pg. 14
Reflecting on Reflections, pg. 19
by Fr. Joseph Allen, Th.D.
Help the Orphans of War in Syria, pg. 24
by Dianne O'Regan
On Faith, pg. 34
by G. Philip Sayegh
From Thursday evening, February 20 through Sunday February 23, St. Luke Orthodox Church in Garden Grove, CA will host the 2014 West Coast Sacred Music Institute. Twice each year, the Department of Sacred Music offers the Institute for church musicians to learn new pieces, and to sharpen their skills. The theme of the 2014 Institute is "The Passion of Christ: A Journey Through Holy Week."
The Institute is for all Church Singers, adults & teens, choir and chanters! What can be gained?
• An greater understanding of the theology and hymnography of Great Lent
• Learn new music, sharpen technique & vocal quality
• Enjoy worship and fellowship with Orthodox church musicians from across North America, all sharing the most important common thread
• Attend spellbinding presentations and sessions
• Participate in a concert showcasing the music learned for Holy Week during the Institute
View the schedule or download the registration form. For more information, contact Chris Farha at (316) 807-3286.
Memory Eternal! Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God Dr. George J. Farha of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS, immediate past Vice Chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board of Trustees and the Antiochian Heritage Foundation's "Man of the Year" for 2013. Dr. Farha quietly fell asleep in Christ surrounded by his family at his home, shortly before nine o'clock on January 7, 2013.
Condolences may be sent to his wife Brenda and their daughters Gayle (Mrs. Douglas) Malone, Joan (Mrs. David) Farha, Laura Farha, and Julie Farha and their families at:
1517 North Foliage Court
Wichita, KS 67206
The schedule of divine services, all to be served at St. George Cathedral, is as follows:
- Friday, January 10th Trisagion Prayers of Mercy at 7:00PM
- Saturday, January 11th Trisagion Prayers of Mercy and Funeral at 10:00AM followed by Interment and Meal of Mercy
A seasoned teacher and scholar, Dr. James Taylor is a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Topeka, Kansas. As founder of the St. Raphael Orthodox Online School, he has created a program of classical studies for elementary, middle, and high school students. In his career Dr. Taylor has taught in a variety of parochial schools and preparatory academies, including St. Marys Academy in Kansas, Wichita Collegiate School, and Topeka Collegiate School. For five years he was assistant then associate professor of the Education Department at Hillsdale College, Michigan, and later he served at the University of Tulsa, also in the department of education where his specialties were philosophy of education in the graduate school, and Children's Literature classes for elementary and middle school future teachers. Antiochian.org asked Dr. Taylor about his new enterprise and his thoughts on education in the context of his Orthodox faith.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to start this school.
While still in high school, I was drawn to the poetry of the past and the culture that informed the art, philosophy, religion and music of these eras, including the modern era. Once out of high school, I realized quite soon that to maintain these interests there was hardly any other place for me to fit in than as a high school or college teacher.
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.
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.
In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.
-Apolytikion of St. Basil, Tone 1
When the Savior condescended for the sake of mankind, He was willing to be wrapped in swaddling clothes, and He Who was eight days old on the side of His Mother, and eternal on the side of His Father did not disdain the circumcision of the flesh. Wherefore, let us cry to Him, O believers, Thou art our God; have mercy upon us.
-Doxasticon of the Feast, Tone 8
With the mercy of God Almighty
Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
My brothers, pastors of the Holy Antiochian Church
And my sons and daughters wherever they are in the parts of this Apostolic See
“As Thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, Thou hast sent unto us Thine Angel of great counsel, granting us peace. So are we guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, and watching by night we glorify Thee, O Lover of mankind”
With these words, beloved, the hymnographer described the great event of Nativity. With these words, Kosmas the Melodist, son of this east, surpassed ages and times to tell about what he might chant and ask concerning the Nativity of the Lord Christ, messenger of love and spring of peace.
Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdest all creation in the hollow of His hand.
He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe.
The God Who from of old established the heavens lieth in a manger.
He Who showered the people with manna in the wilderness feedeth on milk from the breasts.
And the bridegroom of the Church calleth the Magi, and the Son of the Virgin accepteth gifts from them.
We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.
Show us also Thy divine Theophany!
The Antiochian Archdiocese wishes a holy and blessed Great Feast of the Nativity to all!
Archpriest Thomas Zain writes on December 23, 2013:
Beloved in Christ: It is with great joy that we present to you our updated online liturgics guide containing the Service Texts of the weekend services for parish use. The new order for publishing Great Vespers, Litia-Artoklasia, Orthros and Divine Liturgy Variables commences January 5, 2014. Like before, the Antiochian Archdiocese will offer word-for-word compilations of these services, as well as "abbreviated rubrics." The Service Texts will be posted in Rich Text Format (RTF) that can be used in any word-processing software for making booklets, as well as the traditional Portable Document Format (PDF).
Last spring, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip appointed me to chair a new Committee on Liturgics to bring together the various people in the archdiocese who were doing this work in their respective dioceses so that we might pool our talents in order to present a unified set of liturgical notes for our one archdiocese.
Like a living monument and an animate image, thy yearly feast is come, O God-bearing Ignatius, proclaiming thy mystic teachings and thy heroic exploits, thy resistance for the Faith even unto blood, and those blessed and celebrated words of thine, which said: I am the wheat of God, and in the teeth of beasts shall I be ground up. Wherefore, as an imitator of the Passion of Christ, intercede that our souls be saved.
-Orthros of the Feast, Tone 1
Fr. Andrew Damick presents a study of the letters of this second century martyr and the third bishop of Antioch, St. Ignatius, in the podcast, Voice From Antioch: Martyrdom.
In 1972, at the Archdiocese Convention in Los Angeles, California, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip stated, "We must realize once and for all that women have a definite ministry in the life of the Church. Very often we have the tendency to confine women's role to the kitchen. Both the Old and New Testaments testify beyond doubt to the important role which women played in the history of salvation. Time does not permit me to speak in detail about Ruth, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael, the Virgin Mary, the Ointment-Bearers, the Deaconesses and many others who ministered to the church and Christ. I propose, therefore, that a NATIONAL SISTERHOOD OF CHARITY be organized in the Archdiocese."
The month of December every year is designated as Order of St. Ignatius month, in conjunction with the feast day of St. Ignatius on December 20. The Order is the philanthropic arm of the Antiochian Archdiocese and one of its most vital lay ministries, under the guidance of Metropolitan Philip and the Archdiocese Board of Trustees. Currently, there are nearly 3,000 active members supporting approximately 38% of the Archdiocese's budget, as well as a host of other worthy causes including: camping and college conference scholarships, married seminarian assistance, Antiochian Village, Teen SOYO Special Olympics, theological and religious education, clergy retirement, Project Mexico, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), The Treehouse Family Ministry, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF).
Dr. Elias K. Hebeka, the North America Vice-Chair for the Order, wrote in December 2012's The Word magazine that the Order's Governing Council "is a group of volunteers, elected or appointed members of our Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, that has the responsibility to make many of the important decisions for the Order.
In an obscure corner of what is now Alaska, on an Aleutian island called Spruce, a monk labored from the late 1700’s until his repose in 1837. Braving subzero temperatures, plagues and storms, ill treatment from fellow Russians who resented and misunderstood him, St. Herman lived a life marked by astonishing ascetic labor that gave birth to a deep love and concern for all with whom he came in contact. Strangely, despite the miracles associated with him not only throughout his life but also, after his death, he was all but forgotten after he reposed.
"Thirty years will pass after my death, all those who live now on Spruce Island will be dead, you alone will remain alive, and you will be old and poor; then they will remember me," Father Herman said to his Aleut follower, Ignatius Aliaga. As with other prophecies of the saint, this one too was fulfilled, as in 1867, Bishop Peter of Alaska began a formal investigation into his life. It wasn’t until 1894 that his story became known to the outside world, and then his glorification waited another 76 years, until August 9, 1970.
December 7, 2013
The President and Mrs. Obama; The White House; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; Washington D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama,
Greetings and best wishes to you and to your two precious daughters in the spirit of this Holy Christmas season. I was honored to receive your invitation to attend a White House holiday reception on Friday, December 6th, 2013.
I remember fondly my attendance at the White House reception two years ago. The photograph which we took together on that auspicious occasion continues to adorn my office. Unfortunately Mr. President, I did not attend your holiday reception this year because while I do have the joy of Christmas, I do not have the peace of Christmas. This is the peace which the angels proclaimed on that Holy Night "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14). Although I am Lebanese by birth and a proud American citizen for the past fifty-seven years, I received my secondary education in the cities of Homs and Damascus, Syria.
The December 2013 issue includes the following articles:
St. Stephen's Course for the Residency Program, pg. 4
by Archdeacon Peter N. Boulukos
Antiochian Women Celebrate 40th Anniversary, pg. 8
by Violet K. Robbat, President
Bishop Anthony Addresses Priests at 9th Annual Synaxis, pg. 10
Metropolitan Philip Welcomes Seminarians to Dinner, pg. 12
The Missionary Character of Preaching in American Orthodoxy Today: An Interview with the Late Fr. Peter Gillquist, pg. 16
by Daniel Miles, Ph.D.
Special Olympics - Different Abilities, pg. 34
by Leilah A. Rodriguez-Anter
Anna besought the Lord in fervent prayer for a child. The voice of the angel proclaimed to her: God has granted you the desire of your prayer. Do not weep, for you shall be a fruitful vine, bearing the wondrous branch of the Virgin who will bring forth in the flesh the blossom Christ, Who grants great mercy to the world.
Today the great mystery of all eternity, whose depths angels and men cannot perceive, appears in the barren womb of Anna. Mary, the Maiden of God, is prepared to be the dwelling place of the eternal King Who will renew human nature. Let us entreat her with a pure heart and say: Intercede for us with your Son and God that our souls may be saved.
--Vespers of the Feast
His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, issued the following remarks on December 5, 2013 at a press conference in Balamand, Lebanon:
Amidst the calamities besetting Syria and the bloodshed afflicting our people and amidst the uncertainty that still surrounds the fate of our metropolitans Boulos and Youhanna in Aleppo, it is with deep pain that the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has received news of the abduction of her daughters, nuns and orphans of the Monastery of Saint Thekla in Maaloula on December 2, 2013 and their being transported to Yabroud. Because our initial attempts to obtain the release our abducted daughters did not achieve the desired outcome, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East calls upon the international community and all governments to intervene and make efforts to release them safely. She likewise calls upon the conscience of all humanity and upon the spark of living conscience that the Creator, may He be exalted, sowed in the souls of all those who worship God, including the kidnappers, to release our sisters the nuns and the girls of the orphanage.