Christmas is an opportunity to revive our faith in the One who was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Jesus was born of a virgin to save the world from sin and to lead it towards salvation. God, in the Christmas message, sent His only Son to show us that human nature is neither evil nor transient. For, as God took on human nature, that nature has become noble, and we humans, the carriers of His image, became thereby noble, and touched by the holiness that comes from above.
Christmas means God came to us and for us. Accordingly, we should be ready to do God's will. On this day we beseech the Almighty to open our eyes to see our brethren, and appreciate that the God who created us is the God who created them; they have the right to exist as we do. Otherwise, our faith will be at fault. At Christmas we look at our world and ask God to have mercy on us and grant us His Grace. There are people who are dying here and there; there are millions who are displaced. May the Good Lord give them solace and peace.
I pray to the Child born in a cave in Bethlehem to forgive our sins and look upon you and upon us with His infInite love and boundless mercy.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
The Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies is pleased to announce publication of the latest addition to the Chrysostom Bible Series, "Philippians: A Commentary." In this volume, the author, Paul Nadim Tarazi, presents a reading of Philippians that uses the text "according to its own literary fabric," challenging the reader "to join the community of the Apostle's Philippians while listening to his letter...not to 'fathom' God's kingdom, but to inherit it."
This week on Special Moments in Orthodoxy, in an Orthodox Christian Network vaulted interview, Fr. Chris Metropulos interviews His Grace Bishop BASIL on the importance of the Nativity Season and Advent.
"As Orthodox Christians, we're used to our Fast periods being periods of repentance, and rather dark periods. And the period of Advent, the pre-Nativity Fast, is a very different kind of season ... It's more of a preparation, a preparation for a great Feast. And there's joy that permeates that entire Fast." + Bishop BASIL
The true meaning of Christmas is a celebration of God’s gift of love to us through Christ. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to give gifts that allow us to share God’s gifts to a world in need. IOCC’s new Christmas Gift Catalog offers distinctive ideas for gifts that will share the love of God throughout the year with people devastated by war, poverty and natural disasters. The Christmas Gift Catalog is available here online.
1. What was the genesis for this book?
I've had a love for St. Lucia ever since I moved to California in 1992 and was invited to participate in a St. Lucia festival hosted by my friends, Nektarios and Anna Burkett. When the Conciliar Press editorial board (on which I serve) decided they wanted more picture books about women saints, I knew I wanted to write one, and St. Lucia immediately came to mind.
2. Who are the children you had in mind, during the writing process?
Ancient Faith Radio announces “God is With Us!”, a special collection of podcasts reflecting on the Nativity Season
“God is with us! Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves, for God is with us!”
Ancient Faith Radio is collecting episodes from our large family of podcasts that will help make the Nativity season a truly joyful experience. This collection draws from both past and current series and will be updated until Theophany. In addition to this collection, we provide The Path with Fr. Tom Soroka, a wonderful daily resource that will enrich the Nativity season. His daily (M-F) podcast draws on the Epistles and the Gospel readings, both from the Orthodox Study Bible, and is supplemented by rich commentary from the Church Fathers.
*Ncense, a vocal group composed of young men from the Antiochian Archdiocese, has recently released a new CD. Titled "Rising from the East," the new recording contains hymns from the Divine Liturgy for the feast of St. Raphael of Brooklyn. Proceeds from sales of the CD will go to benefit Orthodox camping programs. The project was sponsored by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, and follows *Ncense's previous recording "Every Good and Perfect Gift."
On Sunday, December 6, 2009, St. Nicholas Day celebrations at St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania were featured in the York Daily Record. The article highlights the local tradition of the parish's children commemorating the feast day through charitable giving:
...at a local church, children swapped roles with the beloved saint Sunday, presenting him with gifts instead -- gifts that will ultimately be distributed to needy families by Access-York and the Victim Assistance Center.
"I can see you've been teaching the children to love others by giving to the poor," St. Nicholas told the Rev. Peter Pier, pastor of St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in Springettsbury Township...
A member of St. John Chrysostom church suggested the idea of children giving gifts to St. Nicholas years ago.
"It is definitely a good message to the children because they so often hear Christmas is about getting, getting getting," said parishioner Mike Buleza.
In time for Christmas gift giving, SVS Press has released Jane Meyer’s The Woman and the Wheat, the second book in a set that also includes The Man and the Vine. The books tell the story of the making of Eucharistic bread and wine, and are complimented by the artistic skills of illustrator Ned Gannon. To order, click here.
In an interview, author Meyer explained, “the book highlights that time in church when something temporal becomes something eternal.” Read interview here:
The Word magazine is a beloved ministry of our Archdiocese, founded in Arabic in 1905 by St. Raphael of Brooklyn and in 1957 made an English language publication by Metropolitan Antony Bashir. At The Best of The Word, you'll find thought-provoking articles that share the blessed work being done in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and the wisdom of her workers.
Some recently posted recommendations to get you started: Mother Alexandra's The Founding of the Convent of St. Thekla at Antiochian Village; Bishop THOMAS's Care at the End of Life: What Orthodox Christianity Has To Teach; and Roberta Royhab's The Children Are Not Afraid.
The December 2009 issue contains the following articles:
FOCUS North America, pg. 4
by Charles Ajalat
My Damascus Summer, pg. 8
by Daniel G. Khalil Jr.
Metropolitan PHILIP Hosts Annual Seminarian Dinner, pg. 12
Book Review: Meeting the Incarnate God, pg. 31
Book Review: Patience With God, Pg. 32
Beautiful fall weather greeted approximately 70 wives of clergy from many jurisdictions on the weekend of November 5-7 at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania for what was hopefully the 1st Annual Clergy Wives Weekend. Wives of priests, deacons and seminarians from 17 states and one Canadian province gathered to hear speakers and to share prayer and fellowship at a weekend event arranged in memory of Kh. Joanne Abdalah, who during her lifetime was an inspirational counselor and friend to many clergy, clergy wives, and countless other people. The idea for the Weekend grew from the desire of Kh. Joanne’s son Joe wanting to find a way to honor his mother’s memory, and a similar idea from clergy wives who knew and loved her, too. It proved a most fitting and successful tribute!
Friday night was a relaxed time to be together in the Lodge building at the Village camp, with dinner, snacks, and a log fire. On Saturday morning everyone gathered in the camp church for a Divine Liturgy on the feast of St. Raphael of Brooklyn, whose shrine could be seen out the church window.
Conciliar Press announces an outstanding sale on all available back issues of AGAIN Magazine and The Handmaiden Magazine. The publications are arranged in groups and are sold as Library Packs at 75% off the original cover price. Both magazines are a great and timeless resource of Orthodox spirituality, and contain content by some of the best Orthodox writers and editors over the last 25 years. It is the hope of Conciliar Press, that this sale will help get the magazines into the hands of all those who loved and enjoyed them over the years and will help to preserve the rich heritage and legacy of the publications.
The Antiochian Archdiocese’s Christian Education Director Carole Buleza, department web editor Timm Wenger, and the team at antiochian.org, have redesigned and significantly improved the department’s popular web pages this fall. At www.antiochian.org/christianeducation, browsers can find resources for parents, Sunday School teachers and directors, youth workers and homeschoolers. Curriculum is readily available, and a special section created for small church schools helps instructors in communities where resources are limited. The Department of Christian Education now has a Facebook presence as well, and teachers can log in by clicking the Facebook button for that purpose posted on the web page’s right-hand column.
Printed this month are the minutes and reports of the 49th Convention of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, convened at Desert Springs in Palm Desert, California, July 19–26, 2009. The Metropolitan’s Address to the Assembly was printed in the September Issue of The WORD and is available online at antiochian.org.
For families and teachers, Ancient Faith Radio is featuring several helpful posts about the Orthodox perspective on Halloween.
Fr. George Morelli, Orthodox priest and psychologist, gives frank talk on the origins of Halloween and speaks to how parents can approach the holiday and how the festival can be redeemed in his podcast, “Orthodoxy and Halloween.”
A book for children, titled Halloween Town, by Dennis Eugene Engleman, draws children in with an enchanting story line about the dangers that lie behind the Halloween spirit. Parents can buy the book at the Regina Press website. Children can also listen to a reading of the book on Ancient Faith Radio.
In another insightful reflection, Fr. Peter Bouteneff speaks of the cross and its relationship to Halloween, in his Oct. 19 podcast episode: “Halloween, Demons and the Cross.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip joined other American Orthodox Primates in an audience with His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Most of the Primates had also attended the Ninth Annual Orthodox Prayer Service for the United Nations Community the previous evening. Present at the audience were Archbishop Demetrios of America (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Philip (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Christopher (Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Nicholas (Carpatho- Russian Diocese); Archbishop Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox Church in America), Metropolitan Constantine (Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA); Bishop Ilia (Albanian Orthodox Diocese) and Archpriest Alexander Abramov (Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA). Archbishop Demetrios welcomed His All Holiness on behalf of the Primates.
The remarks of His All Holiness follow:
Ancient Faith Radio is proud to announce the launch of its new web site. The improved site features better organized content with a new top navigation, better search capability and a simplified site design. AFR hopes that users will find the new site easier to use and a daily resource for the very best in Orthodox Christian music, talk readings and teaching.
Additional new features include:
- Convenient updates showing recent podcasts and daily resources
- Podcasts and Specials displayed side by side, with convenient sliders for navigation
November 2, 2009 Update: Order of St. Ignatius photographer Judy Braun has made available online photo galleries from the Houston meetings. Click here for the gallery from the Board Luncheon and here for the gallery from the Board meetings.
October 21, 2009
Summary of the Decisions taken by the Archdiocesan Synod and Board of Trustees as a result of their meetings in Houston, TX – October 16-17, 2009
At their meeting on October 16th, the Bishops of the Archdiocesan Synod approved the following:
1. The appointment of a committee to review the current in-force Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities and to recommend changes that will increase the effectiveness of the Manual as a tool for clearly delineating the responsibilities of the Bishops and the Metropolitan. The goal will be to present the final draft of the Manual to the Archdiocesan Synod for approval at their regular meeting in the Fall of 2010. The members of the committee are as follows:
The Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies is pleased to announce the publication of "Land and Covenant," the latest in a series of books to be released this year by Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi. Personally commissioned by +Archbishop Philip Saliba, "Land and Covenant" addresses the root cause of Palestinian suffering—and Middle Eastern strife generally—through a stunningly comprehensive analysis of the Biblical story.
In his preface to Fr. Tarazi’s book, +Metropolitan Philip writes: "If you have lived in the Middle East since the inception of the state of Israel, or if you are a student of twentieth century Middle East history, you cannot help but take part in the debate which has produced many books on the ongoing conflict between Jews and Arabs, especially Palestinians...[Tarazi addresses this conflict] not from an historical point of view, but strictly biblical...Land and Covenant is a very scholarly and interesting biblical study, and I recommend it to all who seek the truth, objectively and without any prejudice."