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Palm Sunday + The Entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ Into Jerusalem

O Christ God, when before thy voluntary sufferings Thou didst explain to all the confirmation of universal resurrection; Thou didst raise Lazarus in Bethany by thine exalted might, after he had been dead for four days. And to the blind Thou didst give sight; for Thou art the Giver of light, O Savior. Thou didst also enter the city with thy Disciples, sitting on an ass, fulfilling the preaching of the Prophets, as though riding upon the cherubim, and the Hebrew youths received Thee with palms and branches. Wherefore, we also carry olive branches and palms, crying out to Thee in gratitude, Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he that cometh In the Name of the Lord.

- Orthros of the Feast

For more Holy Week reflections and resources, see our section here. And for more material dedicated to the pinnacle of the liturgical year, visit our Pascha section.

The Raising of Lazarus

The Raising of Lazarus (Mount Sinai, 12th c.)The Raising of Lazarus (Mount Sinai, 12th c.)"Though I lie in bonds, O Savior," Lazarus cried from below to Thee his Deliverer, "yet shall I not remain forever in the depth of Hell, if Thou wilt only call to me, ‘Lazarus, come out;’ for Thou art my Light and my Life."

"I implore thee, Lazarus," said Hell, "Rise up, depart quickly from my bonds and be gone. It is better for me to lament bitterly for the loss of one, rather than of all those whom I swallowed in my hunger."

Shaking the gates and iron bars, Thou hast made Hell tremble at Thy voice. Hell and Death were filled with fear, O Savior, seeing Lazarus their prisoner brought to life by Thy word and rising from the tomb.

-from the Canon of the Raising of Lazarus, Tone 1

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Triumphant Entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem

Palm Sunday – April 5, 2015

Sitting on Your throne in heaven, Carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God! Accept the praise of angels and the songs of children who sing: Blessed is He that comes to recall Adam! (Kontakion for Palm Sunday)

We greet you with love and joy on this Palm Sunday which celebrates the Triumphant Entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

The Kontakion for the feast which is quoted above expresses with great eloquence the worship and praise which are due to our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ by His children. Today He enters Jerusalem not majestically as an earthly king, but as a humble servant. He who is the mightiest King of all deigns to sit on the back of a lowly beast so that He might teach us humility.

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

Metropolitan Joseph Presides at One Year Memorial for Metropolitan Philip

View the photo gallery of the one year memorial

Thursday, March 19, 2015, marked the one year anniversary of the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory. On Sunday, March 22, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph celebrated the Divine Liturgy and one year memorial for Metropolitan Philip at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn. In his eulogy, Metropolitan Joseph spoke about the many accomplishments of Sayidna Philip over 48 years, but in the end reminded the faithful that ultimately his desire to build up the Archdiocese and its institutions was driven by his desire to bring people closer to Christ so that the Orthodox faith could manifest itself on this continent.

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America also attended and, after concelebrating the memorial, gave a wonderful homily recalling his many years of working with our late Metropolitan in both SCOBA and the Assembly of Bishops. He remembered both his strong convictions and beliefs as well as his love and ability to cooperate.

Feast of the Annunciation + March 25

Verily, Gabriel did come to thee, disclosing the purpose which was before the ages, hailing thee and saying, Rejoice O unseeded land! Rejoice, O unburning bush! Rejoice, O depth inaccessible to vision! Rejoice, O bridge leading to the heavens! Rejoice, O lofty ladder whom Jacob did behold! Rejoice, O jar of divine manna! Rejoice, O dissolution of the curse! Rejoice, O recall of Adam! The Lord is with thee.
- Vespers of the Feast, Tone 6

Metropolitan Joseph's 2015 Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Annunciation
Click here to read more about the Feast of the Annunciation
Homily on the Annunciation by St. Gregory the Wonderworker
Old Testament Women at the Annunciation: Gleanings from the Western Rite Lectionary by Lynette A. Smith
God's Free Gift, by Fr. Steven Rogers

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

March 25, 2015

Behold, our restoration is now made manifest; God is ineffably joined to man.  At the words of the Archangel, error has vanished. The Virgin has received the joyful news, and the things of earth have become those of heaven.  The world is released from the ancestral curse.  Let the whole creation rejoice, singing a hymn of praise, Lord our creator and deliverer, Glory to You!   ~From the Vesperal Aposticha for the Feast of the Annunciation

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

The reading above transmits to us the essence of this feast, which is the action of a loving God which initiates the events by which humankind is saved from the ancestral error of Adam and Eve.  The Archangel announces to the woman who will become the Most Holy Theotokos that she has been chosen to be the vessel through which God Himself will take human flesh, become a Man, and dwell among his creation.

Fourth Sunday in Lent: St. John of the Ladder

Let us honor John, that pride of ascetics, that angel on earth, that man of God in heaven, that adornment of the world, and that bliss of virtues and good deeds; for, planted in the house of God, he flourished with justice; and, like a cedar tree in the wilderness, he caused the flock of Christ to grow, those sheep endowed with speech, in righteousness and justice.

-Vespers of the Feast

On the fourth Sunday in Lent we commemorate St. John, the great seventh-Century ascetic and author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent. As we continue the Lenten fast, we recall St. John's account of the labors necessary to approach God, and we take comfort in the Lord's words: "he who endures to the end will be saved" (Mt 24:13).

Read the life of St. John of the Ladder
Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko on St. John of the Ladder

Liturgical Texts Now Available for the Fifth Week of Great Lent

The Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos, depicted on the apse of Holy Trinity Antiochian Orthodox Church of Santa Fe, New Mexico

The fifth week of Great Lent serves as a preview of sorts for Great and Holy Week in the Orthodox Church, for it also offers a multitude of beautiful, spiritually transforming divine services. The liturgical texts for them, blessed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

Usually, on the Wednesday night of the Fifth Week of Great Lent, the Orthodox Church offers Little Compline and recites "The Life of St. Mary of Egypt" by St. Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem along with the Great Canon of Repentance by St. Andrew, Archbishop of Crete. However, in a rare occurrence this year, this day coincides with the great feast of the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos, March 25.

Rather than try to celebrate these divine services all in one day, the Typikon ("rule book") directs the Church to reschedule some of them so that worshippers can celebrate all of them fully and properly, so that the theology contained in them can permeate their souls.

Third Sunday in Lent: Adoration of the Holy Cross

Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross, O bright paradise of the Church, O Tree of incorruption, thou who didst bring forth for us the enjoyment of glory everlasting, through whom the hosts of devils are driven out, the ranks of angels rejoice together, and the congregations of believers celebrate, O unconquerable weapon and impregnable foundation, the triumph of kings and the pride of Priests, grant us to apprehend the Passion of Christ and his Resurrection.

--Vespers of the Feast

His Eminence Archbishop Joseph on the Sunday of the Holy Cross
Alexander Schmemann on the Sunday of the Holy Cross
Psychological Barriers on the Way to the Cross, by Fr. George Morelli
The Cross: Central Theme of Our Christian Religion, by Fr. Michael Baroudy
Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko discuss the Sunday of the Holy Cross on Ancient Faith Radio
Read more about this Sunday's feast on our Lenten Calendar page.
Visit our full section on Great Lent.

 

The Great Lent: Message From Patriarch John X

By God's mercy
John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all East
Brethren, Pastors of the Holy Church of Antioch;
Beloved children in all dioceses in this apostolic see

Brethren and dearest spiritual children,
whose strength and anticipation in God, strengthen ours;

Entering this redemptive period which leads us to the Cross (of Christ) and the dawn of His and thus our resurrection, these days bring to us the anticipation to Jesus and His divine consolation for His beloved humans; for whom He descended from His highest, incarnated in the Virgin, submitting Himself to the human law, willingly walking the path of the Cross, in order to rise from the dead, becoming the first fruit for our resurrection from our earthly misery and tribulation.

First Annual NAC Teen SOYO Day of Service

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, chairman of the Archdiocese's Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, announces:

On Saturday, March 21, 2015, the first Annual NAC Teen SOYO Day of Service will be hosted by SOYO chapters across the United States and Canada.

In reverence to the fundamental virtue of love, NAC Teen SOYO has asked that its chapters across the country dedicate this common day to the service of their local communities. SOYO members are being encouraged to organize an event on this date that will enable you to show Christ-like charity to your neighbors. 

View the flyer for more details

Second Sunday in Lent: St. Gregory Palamas

Planting the doctrines of Orthodoxy, uprooting the thistles of wicked opinion, O blessed one, and growing well the plant of faith with the rain of thy sayings, thou didst offer to God, like a good farmer, ears a hundred fold.

+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 1

On the second Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas, who upheld the Orthodox doctrine that humans can know God not only through the intellect but through experience of His uncreated energies. 

... every day we should stand in awe of Him, as He is with us, and do what is pleasing before Him. If we are unable now to perceive Him with our physical eyes, we can, if we are watchful, see Him continuously with the eyes of our understanding, and not just see Him, but reap great benefits from Him. This vision destroys all sin, demolishes all evil, and drives away everything bad. It gives birth to purity and dispassion, and bestows eternal life.   + St. Gregory Palamas

"What is This Victory?" Metropolitan Joseph on the Sunday of Orthodoxy

On March 1, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of Orthodoxy at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, with host The Very Reverend Thomas Zain. Other hierarchs present were The Right Reverend Michael, bishop of New York and New Jersey (Orthodox Church in America); The Right Reverend Bishop Nicholas, auxiliary of Brooklyn and resident assistant to the Metropolitan; and His Grace John, bishop of Naro-Fominsk and administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.

For the evening's Vespers, Metropolitan Joseph joined Bishop Michael, Bishop Nicholas, area clergy, Antiochian seminarians, and the faithful who braved the snowy weather, at St. John the Baptist (OCA) in Passaic, NJ. He offered the following reflections on the significance of the day. (View the photo gallery on Facebook.)

Nurturing the Seeds of Orthodoxy: March is Antiochian Women's Month

March is Antiochian Women's Month across our Archdiocese. In the article that follows, you will find an important prepatory letter from Dianne O'Regan, Vice President/Project Coordinator for the North American Board of the Antiochian Women, who has outlined this year's observance, and the focus of the 2014-2015 Project.

In his letter attached below, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

"The Antiochian Women never tire of doing good works. And so for 2015, I have given them two new Projects—two new visions for the Antiochian Archdiocese: Monastic Communities and Regional Camping and Learning Centers."

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Today hath appeared, a day full of joy, because the splendor of true doctrine shineth forth brilliantly, and the Church of Christ now sparkleth, adorned by the elevation of the Icons of the saints and their illustrating pictures, and believers attain there a unity rewarded of God.

+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 4

On the first Sunday in Lent, we commemorate the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 A.D. upholding the use of holy icons in Orthodox worship. We also commemorate today the unity of Orthodox belief and the oneness of our Faith throughout our various jurisdictions, nations and languages and across the continents and the centuries.

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Founder's Day with Florida Community

Photo: Naples Daily NewsPhoto: Naples Daily NewsSt. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Naples, Florida's celebration of its 18th annual Founder's Day over the weekend of February 21 and 22 included a dinner, group talks, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy graced by the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. The Metropolitan was joined by His Grace Bishop Antoun and their host, Archpriest Joseph Shaheen.

Several hundred people filled the church for Sunday's Liturgy, with dignitaries in attendance from around the United States. In his remarks to the Florida community, Metropolitan Joseph said Christians must refuse the path of violence, instead choosing the harder road of forgiveness.

"We will not be hostages, and we will not be puppets for anyone, and we stand for peace. ... We do not condone violence. We want open dialogue and peaceful resolution to any issues."

Anniversary of the Repose of Metropolitan Philip

Metropolitan Philip of Thrice-Blessed Memory Celebrates Pascha in 2013Metropolitan Philip of Thrice-Blessed Memory Celebrates Pascha in 2013His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings to you and your families as we begin our season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. I pray you are having a blessed beginning of the Fast.

March 19 will mark the one-year anniversary of the falling-asleep of our beloved Metropolitan PHILIP of thrice-blessed memory. It is hard to believe a whole year has already passed since our father and chief-shepherd of more than 48 years reposed. His life and legacy will continue to be with us and inspire us for many years to come. May God rest his soul with the saints and may his memory be eternal!

So that we might commemorate this anniversary in a unified way, I am directing all of our hierarchs and clergy to hold Trisagion Prayers of Mercy in their respective parishes throughout the entire archdiocese on Sunday, March 22 (the Fourth Sunday of the Fast) at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.

I will preside over the official memorial at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY on that Sunday along with several guest hierarchs from our sister jurisdictions.

Cheesefare Sunday (Forgiveness Sunday)

O Lord, we were estranged before from paradise, because of eating from the tree. Therefore, lead us into it again by Thy Cross and by Thy Passion, my Savior and my God. Fortify us therein that we may fulfill our fast with becoming purity, and worship Thy divine Resurrection and Passover of salvation, by the intercessions of Thy Mother.

-- from Orthros, Tone 2

For those observing the Lenten Fast, Cheese-Fare Sunday is the last day on which eggs and dairy are eaten before Pascha.

On Cheese-Fare Sunday, we also commemorate the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, entering into the Lenten fast in remembrance of mankind's separation from God through disobeying his commandment to fast from the fruit of the tree.

Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2015

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant. Yea O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages, Amen.
(Prayer of St. Ephraim The Syrian)

We greet you with anticipation as we draw near to the beginning of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The beautiful prayer above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we struggle to draw nearer to God.