As the faithful celebrate the high point of the Church year—Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha—the Department of Internet Ministry has launched a rebuilt section of resources and reading for the season. Great Lent Resources & Readings is a topical library of links and reflections that presents the meaning and practice of the forty days of prayer and worship in an engaging and accessible format. The goal is that this will be a useful tool for teaching about Lent, for both newcomers to the Orthodox Christian Faith as well as for those who are rediscovering the spiritual benefits of the Lenten journey.
Visitors to Great Lent Resources & Readings will find three distinct subsections, each with its own theme:
- All Revered Days: the Lenten Calendar is a library of information broken into the weeks of Lent from the Pre-Lenten Sundays through Holy Week,
- Bright Sadness: Entering into the Lenten Spring contains wise counsel about making the most of the forty days, and
- Holy Week: Journey to the Empty Tomb offers an overview of Holy Week as well as reflections on some of its specific days, such as Holy Friday.
Though they are too many to name, we'd like to extend thanks to all the various sources who have allowed us to repurpose their material, and we encourage those maintaining Orthodox websites of their own to link to this section.
The Holy Synod of Antioch has issued the attached statement in English and Arabic. It begins:
March 13, 2013
The Fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch held a meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. The meeting was chaired by His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X. The Fathers discussed the situation arising from the election of Archimandrite Makarios by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as the “Archbishop of Qatar”, on March 4, 2013. This election is against the Ecclesiastical Canons of the Orthodox Catholic Church. After deliberations and the approval of the Holy Synod Fathers in the Mother lands and abroad, the following statement was issued to be distributed to all the faithful and to all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
Read the full statement below (PDF format).
(Adapted from The Word, March 2013)
Last fall, the Antiochian parish of St. Mary in Chambersburg, PA, began its fourth year of service to the surrounding community through the St. Seraphim Orthodox Center (SS OC). Affiliated with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS), the ministry serves lunch to some 35 to 45 guests on Thursdays and Saturdays, complimenting the lunch schedule of the local Salvation Army.
During his August 2012 visit to St. Mary Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Thomas repeatedly stressed the importance of the parish’s work at the Center in the downtown area, and urged parishioners to continue and extend this ministry to the wider community.
His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, has prepared an extensive pastoral letter for his flock. It includes sections on Preaching, A Responsible Priesthood, Love and Pastoral Work, The Dialogue of Religions, and much more. The letter opens:
It is a pleasure to address you through this message, hoping that it conveys to you some of my concerns as to what our Church needs today and what is demanded of each of us. I would like to resort to these words:
"In grace we grow, in service we transcend, and in love the structure is strengthened", as a motto for my Patriarchate, as God has willed that I will be watching over the Antiochian Church and embracing its children with the help of my brothers the bishops. The Church is the Church of all of us. God has willed that we are in it as brethren, in order to work as one body.
The March 2013 issue includes the following articles:
I Am an Antiochian Woman, pg. 4
by Violet K. Robbat
Enthronement Speech of H.B. Patriarch John X, pg. 6
David DeJonge: Beyond the Image, pg. 11
The Funeral Service: Lecture 4, pg. 16
by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
So What's the Big Deal with Great Lent?, pg. 30
by Fr. Joseph Allen
The Hidden Garden: a story of the heart, by Antiochian children’s book author and editor Jane Meyer, is a parable that employs the imagery of the garden to teach children about the inner heart and the need to cultivate peace and beauty there. "I have long wanted to write a book for children that touches on the idea of the nous—that place within us that searches and longs for and knows God—where the heart and the mind are integrated and work as one with holy intentions and for holy purposes," explains Mrs. Meyer. "Children have an incredible capacity for touching and knowing God....But do they know that they can nurture and protect and tend that place within them where God resides?
Meditations for Great Lent is written by notable author Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou.
Report on Syrian Aid and Needs from Patriarchate of Antioch Dept. of Ecumenical Relations and Development
Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released the latest report on ongoing relief work in Syria, and asks for continued prayers for all Syrian people.
The full report is available in PDF format. The report opens:
"The humanitarian situation within Syria continues to deteriorate as the violence spreads and displacement continues. According to SARC estimates, some 2.5 – 3 million people are in need of support, of which children represent a substantial proportion. By the end of September, the Syrian Government officially reported that the number of displaced persons was then more than 3 million. In response to meet the increasing needs at different levels DERD continues its historic and strategic partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Through this tight partnership and direct assistance and support of IOCC, DERD has been able to assist thousands of displaced Syrians, as well as those affected by the crisis."
In time for the 2013-2014 academic year, the Scholarships page on Antiochian.org has been updated to include all archdiocesan forms and deadlines, as well as information from other institutions offering scholarships to Antiochian students at both the college or graduate school level.
Students can browse through various options, including a scholarship for a student in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, a scholarship from Antiochian Women, several scholarships from the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, scholarships available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and scholarships for former Scouts. By way of reminder, camp scholarships are also available through the Order of St. Ignatius.
We thank the Lord our God who allowed us, in the two previous months, to celebrate His appearance in the flesh as man and His manifestation as God coming to save us. After Jesus has fulfilled His plan of salvation by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, and after He ascended in the flesh to heaven from whence He had descended, sitting on the right hand of the Father, He prayed the Father to send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of each of us. Everyone who desires this and wants the Spirit to dwell in him does this so that Jesus may appear to him, and also that he might be reminded of the Lord’s sayings and teachings. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus Christ, at first in the Church, which is His Body and which He wanted to be “a glorious church, with neither stains, wrinkles, nor any such thing” (Eph. 5: 27). It also makes Him present in the Church through the word of His Gospel, in the Body and Blood of His Eucharist, in His meeting with His brothers who gathered in His Name, as well as in every human being - especially in the poor, the homeless and the broken hearted, in whom He accepted to dwell. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus wherever it dawns, making Him present yet veiled in all religions and all cultures.
Jesus, Emmanuel, is always present here and everywhere, present among us. He is always with us, ready to meet us. He rejoices in our joys, He revels in our holiness, and He weeps with us when we are troubled and sorrowed. He also cries when, as shepherds and flock, we neglect to live according to His teachings, and whenever our sins mar His bleeding, yet glorious face, and thus veil the world from seeing Him in His Church, and through us.
The West Coast Sacred Music Institute will be held from February 21-24, 2013, and will take place at St. Mark Orthodox Church in Irvine, California. The Theme will be "The Hymnography of Great Lent: A Path to Holiness" and will focus on Great Compline, Akathist, the Presanctified Liturgy, Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Click here for the Agenda (PDF) and Registration Form (Word). Once you open the Registration Form, you can fill it out electronically, save it and email that form to reserve your spot. Please mail your payment, with a copy of the form, to the Conference Administrator, Maryfaith Woods, using her contact info provided on the form. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Sacred Music.
The Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has brought online a special website dedicated to the enthronement of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, which will take place this Sunday, February 10. The site is available in English, Spanish and Arabic.
On June 1, 2012, a tornado traveled eight miles down Highway 711 through the townships of Ligonier and Bolivar in Western Pennsylvania. At 5:20 p.m., the tornado stuck the Antiochian Village with winds of 110 miles per hour. In a matter of seconds, the tornado damaged or destroyed 50 acres at the Village, including 22 buildings and hundreds of trees. Of these buildings, six were girls’ cabins which were completely destroyed. The remaining buildings have required varying degrees of repair – from new roofs to collapsed walls.
The appraisers have determined the monetary cost of the damage to the Antiochian Village at well over one million dollars. While insurance paid for a portion, the Archdiocese has been required to cover the remainder. There were also many areas that were not covered by insurance, including the removal of downed trees and replacement of these trees for privacy purposes that surround the girls’ cabins.
The February 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Message from Patriarch John X, pg. 4
Change of Mind Equals Change of Heart, pg. 9
by Amy Ansara
On the First Week of St. Stephen's Program, pg. 22
by Cindy George
Works of the Order in Action: Department of Missions and Evangelism, pg. 24
by V. Rev. John Finley
The Role of the Patriarch in the Orthodox Church, pg. 26
by Fr. Joseph Antypas
As part of a "Come Receive the Light" series on the family and the Church, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, recently joined Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) Executive Director Fr. Chris Metropulos for two discussions about helping Orthodox teens navigate today's complicated journey to adulthood. (Listen to Part I, "Moving Towards Salvation," and Part II, "Closer to Christ.)
Father Joseph outlined the top challenges, which he noted are as great as they've been at any time in history: busyness which can be senseless, stress, overscheduling, distractions, a sense of being overstimulated by technology, overexposure to sexual images, and the prevalence of substance abuse. He also explained that historically, parents had never been expected to raise their kids without outside support; the community as a whole felt a responsibility to help children grow up safely.
As reported in a series of recent press releases by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the partnership between the IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) continues to minister to people within Syria as well as those displaced by the conflict there. The strife has severely crippled the country's power plants as well as damaged major roads needed to transport heating fuel during the coldest time of year, while instability in the region has led to critical fuel shortages.
"The deteriorating security climate in Syria creates delays in receiving and distributing humanitarian relief items," said IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian. "An added challenge is finding adequate quantities and quality of supplies needed, but IOCC and GOPA are using their longstanding local and regional relationships to ensure uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid."
During the month of January, the youth of the Antiochian Archdiocese traditionally focus on two worthy SOYO programs: Sacred Gift of Life, and Purity, Virginity, Chastity. Local Teen SOYO chapters and high school Christian Education classes are encouraged to view and use the resources found on SOYO's website. Some of the materials include a case study on abortion and the sacred gift of life developed by Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt, leading Orthodox bioethicist; lesson plans with discussion questions about chastity; and essays about the Sacrament of Matrimony and the mystery of marriage.
The SOYO site explains that "while people may have failed to make good choices in the past on this most important issue of life, SOYO chooses to help educate a generation of teens to make good choices with how they use their body and how they treat life - given as a gift from God." With these resources, teens, under the leadership of their pastors and advisors, will have the material necessary to hold productive discussions which will hopefully further their belief and commitment to the sacred gift of life and to the virtues of purity and chastity.
The Office of the Secretariat for the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America recently released an encyclical regarding Share the Light Sunday, 2013. It reads:
“With Thy light that never sets, shine forth, O Christ, in the hearts of those who in faith sing Thy praises, and grant us Thy peace that passeth understanding: that so, running from the night of ignorance towards the day of Thy commandments, we may glorify Thee who lovest mankind.”
Beloved Clergy, Godly Monastics, and Blessed Faithful:
We greet you during this great and joyous Feast of Theophany. This feast marks the beginning of Christ’s salvific revelation, and it is therefore an appropriate time to remind the faithful of the ministry that Orthodox Christian Network is providing to the world.
“The night of ignorance,” as stated in the hymn above, bombards us daily through the radio, television, movies, billboards, magazines, and the internet. Orthodox Christian Network stands to help shine the light of Christ to combat the night of ignorance. On this Share the Light Sunday, we ask that you not only make an effort to listen to and watch the programing we offer through our website, but also share this ministry with your friends and family.
Summer camp registration: Summer Camp registration is open! Register online or by printing out registration forms. Please don't wait to register - camp fills up quickly. Please note that you are not registered until you have placed the $100 deposit and your receive a confirmation email that indicates you have completed the registration process. Also note that to take advantage of the early-bird discount you must have your camper tuition fees paid in full by March 1st. Register your child today!
The January 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Patriarch Ignatius IV: An Incarnational Theologian, pg. 3
by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
Letters of Condolence on the Passing of Patriarch Ignatius IV, pg. 10
A Farewell to Patriarch Ignatius IV: A Personal View, pg. 26
by Economos Antony Gabriel
Dying Well: Spiritual Essentials and Practical Advice for the Family, pg. 32
by Fr. Josiah Trenham
By Ernestine Ede and Justin Sayfie
On November 16-18, 2012, St. George Cathedral of Coral Gables, FL, began a year-long celebration of her Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary) with a weekend to remember.
The festivities began on Friday evening. Saint George Cathedral was adorned with long ribbons of red and white satin streaming from the center archway of the altar and the bells were joyously ringing in jubilation at the arrival of the Metropolitan’s motorcade at the front of the Cathedral. Our pastor Fr. Fouad Saba, the members of the parish council, and the faithful of St. George Cathedral had for several months eagerly awaited the arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, His Eminence Archbishop Joseph, His Grace Bishop Antoun and His Grace Bishop Nicholas. The Cathedral was also honored to have in attendance The Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, Fawaz El-Khoury, the vice chairman of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, and Mrs. Mary Winstanley O’Connor, the North American chair for the Order of St. Ignatius. In addition, a special honor was bestowed on the Cathedral with the arrival of Maronite Bishop Mounir Khairallah of Batroun, Lebanon.