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Memory Eternal! +Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou)

+Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou), 1924 – 2016

It was with great sadness that we learned of the falling asleep in our Lord Jesus Christ of His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou) on Sunday April 17th, 2016.  I was personally blessed to know Metropolitan Constantine during my time in Damascus, and I can certainly testify to his holiness, and prayerfulness.  It can truly be said that he was a man of God. 

Metropolitan Constantine was born in 1924 in Damascus, Syria where he was educated in the city's parochial schools. Desirous of entering upon an ecclesiastical career, His Eminence was blessed to study in Greece before he was ordained to the holy priesthood in 1951 by Patriarch Alexander III (Tahan) of Antioch.  He then served as a priest in Damascus and its vicinity for eighteen years. During the late 1950s he was appointed as the director of the Balamand Clerical School in north Lebanon, and in 1964 was assigned by Patriarch Theodosios VI (Abourjaily) VI as abbot of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of the Great-martyr George al-Humayra in the "Valley of the Christians" in Syria.

Fifth Sunday in Lent + St. Mary of Egypt

Thou didst sever with the sword of abstinence the snares of the soul and the passion of the body, O righteous one. And by the silence of asceticism thou didst choke the sins of thought. And by the stream of thy tears thou didst water the whole wilderness, bringing forth for us the fruits of repentance. Wherefore, we celebrate thy memory.

-Vespers of the Feast

On the fifth Sunday of Lent, we commemorate St. Mary of Egypt. By her example, we are reminded of the extraordinary power of repentance and God's mercy, by which even the greatest sinner may be transformed and sanctified.

Read about the life of St. Mary of Egypt
Read a reflection on St. Mary's life by Fr. Patrick Tutella
Visit our full section on Great Lent

Save the Date + Summer Sacred Music Institute and Youth Music Ministry

Sacred Music Institute Summer Sacred Music Institute and Youth Music Ministry
July 13-17, 2016
Antiochian Village
Theme: Liturgy – The Work of the People
Download Flyer (PDF)
Schedule Outline (PDF)
Registration Fact Sheet (PDF)

Sacred Music Institute Registration
Youth Music Ministry Application

Please book your rooms early, as the 2016 SMI is expected to sell out! The SMI begins Wednesday July 13th at 5PM and return flights on Sunday, July 17th should not depart before 4PM.

Join our Facebook page for up to date information.

Memory Eternal! + Rose Mousi Yazigi, Mother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His holy ones" (Psalm 116:5).

Memory Eternal! Rose Mousi Yazigi, the mother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, has reposed in the Lord. In a letter of condolence to His Beatitude, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph wrote: "It is with a sadness that we have learned of the falling asleep in Christ of your beloved mother, Rosa. On behalf of myself, my brother bishops, the clergy, the members of the Board of Trustees, the heads of the departments and organizations, and all of the faithful of this Archdiocese, we offer our prayers and condolences as you struggle with the departure of your beloved mother, especially at a time when so many events are weighing so heavily on your shoulders."

Service information will be published as it becomes available.

Read Metropolitan Joseph's Letter of Condolence

Letter of Condolence from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to His Beatitude Patriarch John X

April 8, 2016

His Beatitude John X
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Beloved Sayedna and Father in Christ:

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His holy ones” (Psalm 116:5)

It is with a sadness that we have learned of the falling asleep in Christ of your beloved mother, Rosa. On behalf of myself, my brother bishops, the clergy, the members of the Board of Trustees, the heads of the departments and organizations, and all of the faithful of this Archdiocese, we offer our prayers and condolences as you struggle with the departure of your beloved mother, especially at a time when so many events are weighing so heavily on your shoulders.

Update: New Archdiocese Website Project Moves Forward

Thursday, April 7
Douglas Cramer, Antiochian Archdiocese Director of Internet Ministry

As was announced in February, under the leadership of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, the Department of Internet Ministry has been at work for over a year on one of the biggest technology projects undertaken by the Archdiocese: the construction of an entirely new website at Antiochian.org.

The team at Antiochian.org is hard at work on this improved version, which we will launch this Spring. If you aren't experiencing the usual quick response time, this is why. Thank you for your patience, while we apply pedal to the metal to get the new site up and running! The Archdiocese website, serving an audience of over 100,000 monthly visitors, is being completely rebuilt using state-of-the-art Internet design software and principles, centered on deployment of the latest major version of the world's leading open source content management platform, Drupal. (Learn more about Drupal, including the wide range of organizations basing their Internet publishing strategies on its capabilities, here.)

Food For Hungry People Appeal

Great Fast, 2016

TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT AND PRINTED IN THE BULLETIN

Beloved in the Lord,

Greetings and blessings to you as we enter this most holy season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Through your generosity on the parish level, this drive has grown into a strong witness of our Holy Orthodox faith on this continent and throughout the world.It is with the greatest joy that I write to you today to inaugurate the 2016 Food for Hungry People campaign. This year marks the 42nd anniversary of this charitable drive. When reflecting on the past 42 years, I call to mind the countless charitable organizations and individuals that we have helped because of this fund. (Donate to Food for Hungry People online)

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Annunciation

Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Annunciation

March 25, 2016

"Today is the beginning of our salvation, and the manifestation of the mystery from the ages; for the Son of God becometh the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaimeth grace. Wherefore, do we shout with him to the Theotokos: Rejoice, O full of grace! The Lord is with thee". (Apolytikion of the Annunciation)

We greet you with love and joy on this Holy Feast of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Most Holy Theotokos.

The Apolytikion quoted above communicates to us the awesome nature of this holy feast, which is the action of a loving God which initiates the events by which humankind is redeemed from the sins of the past. The Archangel announces to the woman who will become the Most Holy Theotokos that she has been chosen to be the tabernacle which will hold the very Son of God.

Metropolitan Joseph Convenes Meeting of Archdiocese Department and Organization Leaders

Department and Organization Leaders Gather at Antiochian VillageDepartment and Organization Leaders Gather at Antiochian VillageMarch 22, 2016 - Antiochian Village

Beginning today, department and organization leaders from across the Archdiocese have gathered with His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to review their collective work, pray and fellowship together, and build greater collaborations across our collective efforts.

Also in attendance in their roles as hierarchical overseers of departments and organizations are their Graces Bishop Thomas, Bishop John, and Bishop Anthony, as well as leaders from the Archdiocese financial team and the Board of Trustees. His Grace Bishop Nicholas was unable to attend.

In his invitation to this meeting, Metropolitan Joseph wrote in part: "It is critical that we have departments and organizations of this Archdiocese whose work is dynamic, timely, efficient and impactful on the mission of this Archdiocese. ... It is so seldom that this important group meets. I want to make sure that we allocate in the agenda enough time for thoughtful and productive discussion about how we can all work together for the future of our beloved Archdiocese."

Metropolitan Joseph Hosts Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn

On March 20, 2016, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph hosted His Eminence Archbishop Michael of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Diocese of New York and New Jersey, and more than forty priests and deacons, at Brooklyn's St. Nicholas Cathedral. Numerous faithful representing various jurisdictions from throughout the greater New York area attended the Sunday evening service. (View more photos on Facebook.)

A Byzantine choir let by Protopsaltis Rassem El Massih and the "Spirit of Orthodoxy" pan-Orthodox choir, shared in the responses to the Vespers service. Earlier in the day His Eminence and Archbishop Michael concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church (OCA) in South River, NJ. Metropolitan Joseph preached at the Divine Liturgy and Archbishop Michael preached at Vespers service at our Cathedral. After the morning liturgy, Fr. Thomas Zain, Archdiocese Vicar General, assisted His Eminence in giving a talk on the situation of Syrian refugees and the ongoing war in Syria. The group of religious and civic leaders from the South River community was brought together for this occasion by the rector of Ss. Peter and Paul, Fr. David Garretson. It was a day of witness and unity for the entire Orthodox community of the Tri-State area.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2016

Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2016 

“Thy grace hath risen, O Lord and the illumination of our souls hath shown forth.  Lo, now is the acceptable time; the season of repentance hath come.  Let us cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light, that we may pass the great tempest of fasting and reach the summit of the third day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.”  (from the Aposticha of the Vesper Service for the Evening of Cheese Fare)

We greet you with anticipation as we embark on the Holy Season of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The beautiful verse above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we begin our journey to draw nearer to God so that we may worthily rejoice in His Resurrection.  We are called to “cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light”.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for Forgiveness Sunday

Pastoral Message for Forgiveness Sunday

March 13, 2016

“If you forgive other people few things, few of your own will be forgiven.  If you forgive many things, many of your own will be forgiven.  If you forgive them with sincerity and with your whole heart, God will forgive yours in the same manner.  If after forgiving you make your enemy into your friend, thus will God also be disposed towards you”.

(St. John Chrysostom on Genuine Forgiveness)

We greet you on this holy day of Forgiveness Sunday as we stand on the threshold of the Great Fast and ask one another for forgiveness of our sins.

The beautiful quote above from St. John Chrysostom is a powerful reminder of the importance of forgiveness which helps us to understand why we recite in the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

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.

Visit our full section on Great Lent.

March 2016 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The March 2016 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:

Vocations Are Gifts from God
by His Grace Bishop John

The Pursuit: Towards Christian Manhood

Staying in Balance in the Pastoral Life
by His Grace Bishop John

Seeing Christ in the Saints
by Fr. Joshua Burnett

The Holy Practice of Iconography: Why Start Young?
by Randi Maria Sider-Rose, M.Div.

He Is Love: Teamwork in Indonesia
by Presbytera Renee Ritsi

...and more!

Metropolitan Joseph Presides at Cathedral Liturgy and Institute Gathering

Above all else, prayer leads Orthodox Christians to repentance, forgiveness, piety, and every virtue inspired by Great Lent. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph preached this lesson at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Los Angeles on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the day that ushers in the Church's preparation for the Great Fast.

Sayidna Joseph said that the Pharisee, a religious leader perceived to be pious, offered a "judgmental prayer" to God by saying he was not like others, "extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector" (Luke 18:11). "This is not a prayer at all," His Eminence said. "But the Publican offers a holy prayer — 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' (Luke 18:13) — this is what God wants to hear from us.He is ready to visit us through this type of prayer because we are ready for Him."

His Eminence likened the Pharisee's prayer to superstition, thinking he could justify his faith by tithing and fasting twice a week (Luke 18:12). "This is just like thinking it's enough to light candles, socialize, and then fight one another in the Church," Sayidna said. He pointed the faithful to the prayerful humility of the Publican. "When we humble ourselves, we lose nothing but pride and anger and gain Christ. He moves closer to us and we move closer to Him."

March is Antiochian Women Month

The month of March, designated as Antiochian Women’s Month by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, is a time when the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America encourage their sisters in Christ to participate in the Liturgy and minister in their parishes and their communities. 

Learn more about Antiochian Women and download the resources below.

Mid-Winter Meetings to be held in Garden Grove, CA: March 4-6, 2016

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, the 2016 Mid-Winter Meetings will be hosted by St. Luke Orthodox Church in Garden Grove, CA, on March 4-6, 2016. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine/Young Adult Ministry, 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 with any questions.

Lest We Forget: The Legacy of Metropolitan Antony Bashir

by Fr. Antony Gabriel, first published in The Word Magazine, February 1998

"Orthodoxy is a freedom-loving, democratic faith it is at its best in our free America. Our people are part and parcel of America, gladly giving their treasure and the blood of their sons to safeguard its free institutions which are the reflection of the freedom they find in their faith. If the best of Byzantium has survived, it is in the United States, and if there is an Orthodox political ideal, it is enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

"Thus, while we must still minister to many who remember the ways and customs of another land, it is our policy to make our Church in the United States, an American Church. In my own archdiocese, under my administration, we have pioneered in the introduction of English in our Services and sermons. From the beginning of my ministry, I began the printing of English service books, and the training of English-speaking priests. We are tied to no sacred language; we recognize all tongues as the creation of God, and employ them in His worship. We have no desire to perpetuate anything but the Gospel of Christ, and that we can do as effectively in English as in any other tongue."

Remembering Metropolitan Antony Bashir on the 50th Anniversary of His Repose

By Peter Samore

As time passes, fewer and fewer people—even within the Antiochian Archdiocese—are still with us, who can vividly recall Metropolitan Antony Bashir, the man whom the late Fr. Alexander Schmemann called a “founding father of the American Church.” A half-century has passed since his repose on February 15, 1966, and now the Metropolitan endures mostly in black and white photographs and humorous anecdotes. Many of the clergy he ordained and many of the laity he inspired have already passed from this life, too.

Yet that does not diminish the legacy of Metropolitan Antony, who guided Antiochians in North America through the Great Depression, World War II, and so many other conflicts during his 30 years of leadership. The Antiochian Archdiocese owes much to his efforts, and is commemorating the 50th anniversary of his repose this weekend.

Fortunately, the Very Reverend Economos Constantine Nasr has served as Sayidna Antony’s biographer to ensure that his life was recorded for posterity. Since Fr. Constantine knew the metropolitan well in his later years, he has continued to aggregate the stories, historical documents, photos, and personal interviews All of Fr. Constantine's efforts culminated in the publication of a biography of the Metropolitan's life, Antony Bashir: Metropolitan and Missionary.

Becoming Truly Human: the Spirit of Orthodox Christian Evangelism

by Sdn. Adam Lowell Roberts

Many of you may be familiar with the new Antiochian Archdiocese program Becoming Truly Human. Becoming Truly Human is a new evangelism program available to every parish in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and the ministry has been blessed to be shared with other jurisdictions.

While some may be weary of programs, this program has proven to be different. More than several priests and lay people have admitted they were wrong about their initial concerns. Others recognized right away that this program captures and shares the spirit of Orthodox evangelism. They applauded the Archdiocese for having a program which is effective, loving, Orthodox in spirit and nature, and above all helping our North American churches reconnect with our history of evangelism. We even have some overseas churches wanting to run the program.