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The Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

Behold a new and wondrous mystery.

My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God.

Memory Eternal + Right Reverend Protosyngellos Paul Doyle

May his memory be eternal! On December 17, 2016, the Right Reverend Protosyngellos Paul Doyle fell asleep in the Lord. Update: Funeral schedule is now available, please scroll down.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

"Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."

Beloved hierarchs, clergy and faithful laity of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

It is with a sorrowful heart, lightened only by confidence in the abundant mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I announce the passing of the Right Reverend Protosyngellos Paul Doyle. For almost 42 years, Fr. Paul has led an exemplary life as a priest of the Holy Orthodox Church, and, I dare say, one of the most profoundly humble men I have ever met.

Re-Gifting Christmas Gifts?

by His Grace Bishop John, from The Word Magazine, December 2016

My wife and I never seemed to be able to settle the question, Is it right to re-gift? My love would shop for days, seeking the perfect gift to express her love and care for the person for whom she was shopping. I was never much of a shopper, and re-gifting allowed me to recycle really nice items that I didn't need, or had no room to store. Surely one could make the case that, when it comes to money, and perhaps wine, everyone re-gifts. If we receive gifts of money, and we give gifts of money, we are sort of re-gifting. I could even make the case that things, like money, convey the transfer of value.

Christmas gifts are somehow related to remembering the gift from God of His Son, or rather, the gift of Christ of Himself. This gift is offered in full knowledge that, with it, come suffering, humiliation and death. This gift is offered so that we can be given real life, that is, the love and life of God within the life and love of the Holy Trinity.

St. Herman of Alaska + December 13

St. Herman of AlaskaIn 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.

The Conception of the Theotokos + December 9

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

Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Conception of Mary

Metropolitan Joseph's Message for Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday 2016

December 11, 2016
Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday

“I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” Psalm 104:33

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings to you and your families as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

As is the custom in our Archdiocese, the second Sunday of December is dedicated to our choirs and chanters who work so hard to make our divine services beautiful throughout the year. Our choirs in the Archdiocese resemble our families and parishes. Some are large and strong; some are small and need help. Some have many polished and professional singers; others depend on the goodwill of volunteers with little or no musical training. Some have weekly practices and others less often. The common thread is that they all do what they do out of a love for the divine services and a desire to praise the All-Holy Trinity.

St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra + December 6

The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of temperance. Therefore thou hast won the heights by humility, riches by poverty. Holy Father Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

+Troparion, Tone 4

Thou wast a faithful minister of God in Myra, O Saint Nicholas. For having fulfilled the Gospel of Christ, thou didst die for the people and save the innocent. Therefore thou wast sanctified as a great initiator of the grace of God.

+Kontakion, Tone 3

On December 6, we celebrate St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the fourth-century archbishop of Myra in Lycia (on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey). None of his writings is extant, but his examples of Christian generosity, virtue and love endure to this day. St. Nicholas is the living embodiment of the words "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). He is also the patron and protector of two cathedrals – Brooklyn and Los Angeles – in our Archdiocese.

Metropolitan Joseph Honored at NYC Ecumenical Gathering

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On November 29, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph was honored along with the recently appointed Syriac Archbishop John Kawak, in an ecumenical gathering at the St. Vartan Armenian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City. The gathering, hosted by His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), celebrated the occasion of the enthronements of Metropolitan Joseph and Archbishop John; due to scheduling issues, the event had been postponed several times.

Hierarchs and clergy from throughout the New York area were present, including: His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America; Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Papal Nuncio to the United Nations; Maronite Bishop Gregory Mansour, and many others from various Christian faith communities.

December Liturgical Texts Now Available

St. Barbara of Heliopolis in Syria (left), and St. John of DamascusSt. Barbara of Heliopolis in Syria (left), and St. John of DamascusTwo saints with a strong following and devotion in the Patriarchate of Antioch, as well as the prophets and ancestors of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ Himself, are celebrated in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Liturgical Texts for December, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

We celebrate two Syrian saints on December 4. Saint Barbara of Heliopolis left the protection of her father's tower and learned of the true Christian faith from pious women. Once St. Barabara accepted Christ, her father martyred her, but a lightning bolt struck his house and killed him.

We Give Thanks to Thee, O Christ Our God

Everlasting King, Thy will for our salvation is full of power. Thy right arm controls the whole course of human life. We give Thee thanks for all Thy mercies, seen and unseen. For eternal life, for the heavenly Joys of the Kingdom which is to be. Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise, both now and in the time to come. Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.

Akathist of Thanksgiving

What do American Orthodox do on Thanksgiving? We give thanks, to our Creator and Fashioner and God. The following links offer inspiration and assistance in celebrating this great American holiday in proper fashion, in full eucharistic thanksgiving "for all things of which we know and of which we know not, for blessings seen and unseen that have been bestowed upon us."

The Entrance of the Theotokos + November 21

Today is the prelude of God's goodwill and the prophecy of the salvation of men. The Virgin appears openly in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. So let us cry to her with loud voices: Rejoice, thou who art the fulfillment of the Creator's providence.

+Troparion of the Feast, Tone 4

Today in the Holy Orthodox Church we celebrate the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. Leading the procession into the Temple were virgins with lighted tapers in their hands, then the three-year-old Most-holy Virgin, led by her father and mother. The virgin was clad in vesture of royal magnificence and adornments as was befitting the “King’s daughter, the Bride of God” (Psalm 44:13-15).

Nativity Fast Begins on November 15

Tuesday, November 15, 2016, is the beginning of this year's Nativity Fast. The Nativity Fast is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year. This is a joyous fast in anticipation of the Nativity of Christ.

In the weeks between now and December 25, Orthodox Christians prepare themselves to celebrate the birth in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we begin the fast, we encourage both believing Orthodox and inquirers to review the reflections and resources in our special Nativity section.

For additional general resources on the Orthodox Christian tradition of feasting and fasting, visit the Feasts and Fasts section of Discover Orthodox Christianity.

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Presents Archdiocese with $25,000 for Syrian Relief

His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India) Diocese of Southwest America visited St. Nicholas Cathedral of Brooklyn on the afternoon of November 8, 2016, to present the proceeds of collections in their diocese for Syrian Relief. Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Archdiocese and Cathedral Dean, received the check on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, who was on an archpastoral tour.

Father Thomas welcomed Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius and thanked him on behalf of those who are suffering and displaced as a result of ongoing Syrian war. This generous gift of $25,000 will be used to help educate the children of those new immigrants who have arrived as a result of the war and have come with nothing or very little. Father Thomas then gave the Metropolitan a tour of the Cathedral and hosted him to lunch before the Metropolitan departed for the airport to return to his headquarters in Houston. The hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese are grateful to Metropolitan Alexios and the entire Malankara Diocese for their thoughtfulness and concern for the displaced people of Syria who have found their way to these blessed shores.

Synaxis of the Holy Archangels + November 8

Supreme Leaders of the Heavenly Hosts, we implore you that by your prayers you will encircle us, unworthy as we are, with the protection of the wings of your immaterial glory and guard us who fall down before you and fervently cry: deliver us from dangers, for you are the commanders of the powers above.

+Troparion of the Feast, Tone 4

O Archangel Michael whose countenance is like lightning, gleaming in an ineffable manner with the illuminations of the Trinity, of exceeding divine brilliancy, thou dost traverse the whole creation like lightning, fulfilling the divine command, watching over, preserving, and sheltering those who joyfully laud thee.

+Exaposteilarion of the Feast, Tone 2

November Liturgical Texts Available for Download

St. John Chrystostom Antiochian Orthodox Church, York, PASt. John Chrystostom Antiochian Orthodox Church, York, PAThe first bishop of the missionary church that would become the Antiochian Archdiocese, the archbishop who gave the Orthodox Church its primary liturgy, a Great Feast of the Theotokos, and a major American holiday fill the celebrations of the Orthodox Church in the month of November. The Liturgical Texts to guide us through services on these holy days, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

Community of St. George Cathedral Celebrates 50 Years in the Gables

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While Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Coral Gables, FL was actually first established on February 23, 1953 in the city of Miami, August 31, 1966 is no less significant a day, as it marks the signing of the contract to purchase Temple Judea, a Jewish synagogue, in the heart of nearby beautiful Coral Gables. This is where the community would build the Saint George Cathedral of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast as a beacon of faith for the Orthodox faithful and the local community. Fifty years later, hearts of the members of the Cathedral beat no less in celebrating this golden jubilee with love; love for their own Faith and their own Cathedral.

Archdiocesan Hierarchs, Lay Leaders Conclude Successful 2016 Fall Meetings

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The Hierarchs, Board of Trustees, Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and Antiochian Village Council, all met the weekend of October 28–30, 2016 in Wichita, KS for the annual Fall Meetings of the Antiochian Archdiocese. They gathered under the leadership of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and through the hospitality of His Grace Bishop Basil of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. They discussed many issues and topics related to the spiritual growth of the Archdiocese and the administration of the parishes in each diocese. All the hierarchs of the Archdiocese were present.

Simultaneously, the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch held meetings to plan new ways to foster growth; the Order is especially concerned about how to encourage new generations of members for the philanthropic work of the Archdiocese. They considered implementing new giving levels such as a junior level, and instituting a new category of a one-time life membership. The Governing Council also held lengthy discussions on the best way to communicate the various projects and charitable giving to both current and prospective members.

Prayers for Our Hierarchs and Board of Trustees at Fall Meetings

Photo credit: stgeorgecathedral.netPhoto credit: stgeorgecathedral.netYour prayers are requested for our Hierarchs and Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese who are gathering in Wichita, Kansas for their regular fall meetings from October 28–30, 2016. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph is presiding over the meetings, this year hosted by His Grace Bishop Basil of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.

The assembled hierarchs, clergy, board members and lay leaders will discuss various matters impacting the life of the Archdiocese. The weekend will conclude with a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy on Sunday at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas. May God bless all of their endeavors for His glory.

St. Demetrios the Myrrhbearer + October 26

Verily, the inhabited world found thee a great succor in tribulations and a vanquisher of nations, O fight-bearing one. Wherefore, as thou didst demolish the arrogance of Lahosh, and on the battle-field didst hearten Nestor, beseech, O Saint, Christ God to grant us the Great Mercy.

+Troparion, Tone 3

Verily, God, O Demetrius, who granted thee invincible power hath touched the Church with the live coal of thy blood streams, preserving the city unbreached; for it is established by thee.

+Kontakion, Tone 2

Read about the life of St. Demetrios.

Metropolitan Joseph Offers Encouragement, Solutions for Christians Struggling in Holy Land

Although a shadow of death constantly hovers over them as a religious minority in the Holy Land and the Middle East, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph shared a saying of Christians living there: "We live in a land that has already experienced resurrection, so we always have hope." During his recent visit to Washington, D.C., Sayidna Joseph accepted an award for the Antiochian Archdiocese and gave the keynote address to the 18th International Conference of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF).

On Friday night, October 14, 2016, His Eminence gratefully received the "Living Stones Solidarity Award" as HCEF honored the Archdiocese's long history of caring for Palestinian Christians seeking spiritual support in North America. "This award is not bestowed only upon me as a Metropolitan," Sayidna said, "but upon our Archdiocese, which encompasses faithful believers from all cultures, nationalities, and races."