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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.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

February 2, 2016

“Say, O Simeon, Whom carriest thou in the Temple in thine arms with rejoicing? Towards Whom dost thou cry, shouting, Now I have been let to depart; for I have beheld my Savior. This is He born of the Virgin. This is the Word, God of God, Who wast incarnate for our sakes, and saved man. Him let us worship.”

(From the Stichera of Great Vespers for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord)

We greet you with love and joy on this Holy Feast of the Presentation of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ into the Temple.  The verse from the Great Vespers of the holy feast which is quoted above transmits to us the essence of this holy feast.

February Liturgical Texts are Now Available

Metropolitan Joseph at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA, during the “Ceremony of the Presentation of the Boys” in 2015Metropolitan Joseph at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA, during the “Ceremony of the Presentation of the Boys” in 2015In February, the Orthodox Church finishes the forty-day celebration of Christmas and begins its journey into Great Lent. The liturgical texts for the month of February, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

February 2 marks the Great Feast of the Meeting (Presentation) of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ into the ancient Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-40). This was not some random meeting. This feast celebrates our forty-day-old incarnate Lord's first official encounter and manifestation with His people in the person of Simeon. In one of many acts of extreme humility, the divine Word thus lowers Himself and submits to the law in order to fulfill it and save mankind. In honor of this, churches offer the Ceremony of the Presentation of Boys, where our young men receive an extra blessing on this day.

Metropolitan Joseph Attends 50th Anniversary of the Episcopacy of Metropolitan Antonio

From January 14-19, 2016, Metropolitan Joseph visited the faithful in Mexico and participated in the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the episcopacy of Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan Antonio (Chedraoui) of Mexico, Central America and Venezuela. January 17 was Sayedna Antonio's 84th birthday and also, his namesday. The memorable Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was presided over by their Eminences the Archbishops and Bishops of the Patriarchate, and distinguished guests.

View a photo gallery of the visit
View photos on the Archdiocese of Mexico's website
Read about the consecration of the Antiochian Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul in 2011

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Hosts His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios

On Monday, January 11, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph hosted a visit by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, at the Antiochian Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey.

Also attending from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese were His Grace Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, and Rev. Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos.

Also attending from the Antiochian Archdiocese were His Grace Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England, Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Vicar General, and Very Rev. George Kevorkian, Hierarchical Assistant.

"Expressing our Faith": Interview with Rosemary Shumski About the Festivals

Rosemary Shumski is the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Christian Education. As a part of her duties, she serves as the Departmental Assistant for the Creative Festivals and is responsible for coordinating the Festivals on the Archdiocesan level. Rosemary has also served as the Photography Coordinator for the Eastern Dioceses since 2002. 

Rosemary is a graduate of Bloomsburg University and was previously employed in business management. Married to Dn. John Shumski and the mother of three grown children, Rosemary is active at St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in York, PA, where she has taught Sunday School for seventeen years. Recently, asked her to tell us more about our Archdiocese's unique and successful Creative Festivals program.

Tell us about this year's theme for the Festivals: why was it chosen, and what is its significance for the Church today?

The 2016 Creative Festivals theme is “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:15) This is the first theme chosen by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph.

Theophany of Our Lord + January 6

Tone 4

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.

Tone 1

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.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ

“When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.” 

+The Apolytikion of the Feast of the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ

We greet you with love and joy on this holy Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Apolytikion of the feast which is quoted above transmits to us the essence of this feast.  Our Lord and God Jesus Christ deigns to be baptized at the hands of John the Baptist, not because he is in need of cleansing of sin, for He is without sin, but so that He might reveal  to us His true identity and at the same time, honor and affirm the new life that comes through baptism.

St. Basil the Great & The Circumcision of the Lord + January 1

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

Many years to His Grace Bishop Basil of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America on his Namesday!
Read Fr. Thomas Hopko's reflection on today's commemorations
The Tradition of the Vasilopita
Read "Message for the New Year" by Fr. George Shalhoub

Online Liturgical Guide Adds January Texts

St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, commemorated on January 24St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, commemorated on January 24The first day of the civil new year begins with the celebration of an important act of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, which leads to another celebration of one of His great feasts. The liturgical texts for the month of January, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

On January 1, eight days after His nativity, our Lord consented to be circumcised in the flesh in order to become the only human to fulfill the Law of Moses. This act of humility and servitude shows that our Lord identifies with the low estate of His people to deliver them from sin and death by introducing God's grace that supersedes the ancient Law.

On this same day, we commemorate St. Basil the Great, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, who reposed peacefully on January 1, 379.

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Nativity Liturgy

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph celebrated the Nativity Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. View a gallery of photos from the Nativity service.

Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity

Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdeth 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!

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ

This is our festival, this is the feast we celebrate today, in which God comes to live with human beings, that we may journey toward God, or return—for to speak thus is more exact—that laying aside the old human being we may be clothed with the new, and that as in Adam we have died so we may live in Christ, born with Christ and crucified with Him, buried with Him, and rising with Him. For it is necessary for me to undergo the good turnaround, and as painful things came from more pleasant things, so out of painful things more pleasant things must return. "For where sin abounded, grace superabounded," and if the taste of forbidden fruit condemned, how much more does the Passion of Christ justify? Therefore we celebrate the feast not like a pagan festival but in a godly manner, not in a worldly way but in a manner above the world. We celebrate not our own concerns but the One who is ours, or rather what concerns our Master, things pertaining not to sickness but to healing, not to the first shaping, but to the reshaping.  (+St. Gregory the Theologian – from the Festal Oration 38 on the Nativity of the Lord)

As we celebrate the Birth in the Flesh of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, the profound words of St. Gregory the Theologian which are quoted above stir in us feelings of great joy and hope because of the great condescension which God has deigned to show toward His children.

2015 Nativity Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

December 20, 2015
By the mercy of God
Patriarch John X, The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
(Read the Arabic version)

To my brother pastors of the Antiochian Holy Church, and my children throughout the Holy See                                                                   

I behold a strange, most glorious mystery: heaven—the cave, the cherubic throne—the Virgin, the manger—the place where Christ lay. The uncontained God whom we magnify in song.

In a manger of love our Jesus was born, and in a cave He chose to visit our humanity.

By His descending, the Lord experienced all our weaknesses except for the sin. He did not chose the scepters or the sofas of the rich in order to preach the salvation, but the womb of a Virgin. He put us on so that we could put Him on. He dwelt in a cave so we may become citizens of Heaven.

St. Ignatius of Antioch + December 20

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

Because December 20th falls on the Sunday before Nativity, the Antiochian Archdiocese celebrates the Feast of St. Ignatius on Saturday, December 19th in 2015.

Read more about St. Ignatius the God-Bearer
Learn about the Order of St. Ignatius
December is Order of St. Ignatius Month
Resources for the Nativity Season

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Interviewed About Syrian Crisis

During his pastoral visit to Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Christian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah on December 12–14, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph sat down with Antiochian journalist Peter Samore to discuss the Syrian civil war and the millions of refugees it has produced. Sayidna Joseph proposed solutions for ending the bloodshed and for safely welcoming the displaced into the United States. Over the same weekend, His Eminence also ordained Fr. John Mahfouz to the holy priesthood.

In addition to serving as a consultant to the Department of Internet Ministry, Peter reports for KSL Radio, KSL Television, and the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, where his stories with His Eminence appeared this week. 

Read and view stories:
ISIS killers don't represent people of Syria, Archbishop says
Ordination of new assistant pastor is reflection of church's growth

Letter From His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph for Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday: December 13, 2015

"O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!" Psalm 95:1-2

Beloved in Christ,

Each year in the month of December we remember our choirs and chanters. This sacred ministry of the Church is essential to the beauty of our divine services. Oftentimes, a person's first experience of our Holy Orthodox Church is witnessing one of our beautiful services. This experience can either be enhanced by a beautiful and well-prepared choir, or diminished by an unprepared one. We are grateful to all of our choir directors, chanters and singers for their dedication, effort and commitment to making the divine services in their respective parishes beautiful to both God and the faithful.