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Metropolitan PHILIP Celebrates Nativity Liturgy

Metropolitan PHILIP Celebrates Nativity Liturgy in Brooklyn, NY While His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP travels extensively throughout this vast Archdiocese every year, his Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn, NY is always honored to have him preside on two occasions each year, Great and Holy Pascha and the Feast of our Lord's Nativity in the Flesh. This year was no exception. May God grant him many years!

2008 Patriarchal Nativity Encyclical

Dear to God:

Christmas is the great event that reconciles Heaven and Earth.

In this event God has joined us, and has become the catalyst that unifies, and that eliminates all polarities between God and the world, God and man.

The Birth of Christ represents the living example that God has claimed His creation fully. This is so because man is the symbol of creation, and God’s progenitor on earth. Man has thus regained the image that was intended for him, and has restored creation to the Divine purpose for which it was intended.

Is it too much for us to hope for a modicum of justice and to thus restrain the immoral aggressor, and to help instead the homeless refugee to return to his family and his home?

Is it too much for us to expect the world to look at us as ends in ourselves, not as means in the hands of powers that recognize nothing short of force and violence?  Is it too much for us, people of the East, the people of love and brotherhood, to have our voice heard throughout the world?

We pray the Lord of Heaven and Earth that He may infuse His Spirit in our world, that we may be sanctified by it.

We ask the Child in the Manger to confer His grace upon you, and render your Holidays occasions of continuing joy and success. May the Lord protect you and give you everlasting peace.

+ I G N A T I U S   IV
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos

Synaxis of the Most Holy TheotokosHe who is before the morning star
Was begotten of the Father without a mother,
Is made flesh on earth today without a father form you.
A star announces the glad tidings to the wise men,
While angels and shepherds sing the praises of your child-bearing without corruption,
You who are full of grace!

--Kontakion of the second day of the Nativity, by St. Romanos the Hymnographer

Metropolitan Philip's Christmas Meditation


The Nativity of Our LordWhat shall I offer you on your birthday in return for your infinite love?
I have neither gold nor silver, neither myrrh nor frankincense.
My house is without a roof. I have no room for you; not even a manger.
My soul is even darker than the clouds of my passion.
My eyes are too dim to look beyond the horizon of myself.
Help me behold your bright star; "For in thy light we shall see light."

St. Ignatius of Antioch

by Virginia Nieuwsma

St. Ignatius of Antioch "We have not only to be called Christians,
but to be Christians."

-St. Ignatius of Antioch-

Of all of the saints particularly loved by Antiochian Orthodox, St. Ignatius ranks somewhere near the top of the list. Of Syrian origin, St. Ignatius, otherwise known as Theophorus, which in Greek means "God-Bearer," led the Christian Church during a critical period of her history. Pious tradition has always maintained that he was the little child that Christ held on His lap when he uttered the immortal words, “Let the children come unto me.” What is known for certain is that he grew up to be a disciple of the Apostles, St. Peter personally ordained him a Bishop, and his name is mentioned in the book of Romans.

Not much is known about St. Ignatius’ life until he began his famous last journey—on foot—to Rome, where he was thrown to the lions as portrayed in his icons. On his way to his death, many churches sent representatives to him, and fortunately for future Christians, he sent letters back to the churches. Thanks to St. Polycarp, seven of these letters survived; in them, we find some of the earliest teachings about the organization, practices, and beliefs of the Church. He emphasized the importance of loyalty and obedience to the bishop, as well as the salvific power of the Eucharist, "the flesh of Christ," "the gift of God," "the medicine of immortality." On December 20, 107, during the reign of Emperor Trajan, St. Ignatius ended his life in a Roman arena, torn to bits by beasts. Rather than discouraging the fledgling faith of Christianity as the Romans had hoped, his noble death ignited and strengthened the faith of many.

Many Years to His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV!

God grant him many years!Many years to His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV on his name's day, the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch!

Click here to read about His Beatitude's U.S. visit this fall.

Christmas Broadcasts on Ancient Faith Radio

Ancient Faith Radio

Bethlehem has opened Eden: come, let us see!
We have found delight in secret.
Come let us receive the joys of Paradise within the cave.
There the unwatered root whose blossom is forgiveness has appeared;
There has been found the undug well from which David once longed to drink.
There a Virgin has born a babe and has quenched at once Adam's and David's thirst.
For this, let us hasten to this place
Where there has been born a little child:
God before the ages.

Don't miss this rich and inspiring encore reading by Frederica Mathewes-Green of the entire Nativity Kontakion of St. Romanos the Melodist.

The promise of the Old Covenant was understood only vaguely. But with the coming of the Lord, God's purpose was made clear. Therefore, joyously proclaim His birth.

Fr. George Morelli explores the promises of the Old Testament in the light of our understanding of Christ.

Fr. Thomas Hopko speaks about our commemoration of the Holy Forefathers on the two Sundays before Christmas.

Plus several Christmas episodes of the Orthodixie podcast by Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of St. George Church in Houston, Texas!

Metropolitan PHILIP Hosts Metropolitan JONAH at the Archdiocese Headquarters

Left to right: Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Very Rev. Joseph Allen, Mr. Charles Ajalat, Metropolitan PHILIP, Metropolitan JONAH, Bishop ANTOUN, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Very Rev. Ellias Bitar, Very Rev. Michael Ellias.

On the evening of December 10th, 2008, the newly elected primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH was hosted for dinner by Metropolitan PHILIP at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey. This was the first visit for His Beatitude since his election as the First Hierarch of the OCA. He was accompanied by the OCA Chancellor, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs.

All of the following people attended the dinner: Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Very Rev. Joseph Allen, Mr. Charles Ajalat, Metropolitan PHILIP, Metropolitan JONAH, Bishop ANTOUN, Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Very Rev. Ellias Bitar, Very Rev. Michael Ellias.

The two Metropolitans engaged in lively and serious discussion, and shared many common visions for the future of the Orthodox Church in North America.

It is our prayer that this was only the first of such gatherings to discuss and address issues that are critical to the Orthodox Church on this continent.

Patriarch ALEXY II of Moscow + Memory Eternal

His Holiness Patriarch ALEXY II + Memory Eternal!From the web site of the Moscow Patriarchate:

His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, 79, died on 5 December 2008.

Session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will take place on December 6 to elect Patriarchal Locum Tenens who will chair the Memorial Commission.

The Holy Synod will announce the time of the funeral of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy.

Click here to view video coverage of the Patriarch's funeral from Russia Today.




Metropolitan PHILIP writes to the U.S. Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S.:

Beloved Brother in Christ:

I greet you in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life of all who repose in him.

It is with great sadness that I awoke this morning to the shocking news of the passing into eternal life of His Holiness ALEXY II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The loss of this great man is not only a loss for the Church of Russia, but for the entire Orthodox world. I recall with great fondness the two occasions I had to be in his presence, once on his visit to the United States in the early 1990s when we hosted him at our Archdiocese Chancery and the second when I accepted his kind invitation to visit Russia in 1997. It was during this trip in 1997 that I came to realize the greatness of his leadership and vision for the Church of Russia and the Orthodox world at large. Having met with him at the Danielov Monastery and having served with him in the historic Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin and again at the dedication of the awe-inspiring Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow (that he was instrumental in rebuilding as a symbol of the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church after more than 70 years of oppression), I felt assured that the Church would continue to thrive under his leadership.

December 2008 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The December 2008 issue contains the following articles:

A Pentecost of Love: The Patriarch, The Metropolitan and Balamand, pg. 4
by the Very Rev. Antony Gabriel

"One of Us": Praising Christ with Hymns of the Nativity, pg. 12
by Bogdan Gabriel Bucur

...and more!

Many Years to the Newly-Elected Metropolitan JONAH

His Beatitude Met. JONAH The faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese offers our congratulations and prayers to His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH!

His Grace Bishop JONAH of Fort Worth was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15 All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America on November 12, 2008.

For more information, please visit the OCA's web site. You can also listen to speeches by Metropolitan JONAH and a variety of commentary on his election at Ancient Faith Radio.

Metropolitan PHILIP Hosts Antiochian Seminarians for Annual Dinner

On the evening of Thursday, November 13th, 2008, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP hosted the Antiochian Seminarians and their spouses for the annual Seminarian Dinner, which is held at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey. This year, we are blessed to have 32 seminarians (20 of whom are married) in attendance at three Orthodox seminaries: St. Vladimir in Crestwood, NY; St. Tikhon in South Canaan, PA; and Holy Cross in Brookline, MA. More than 60 people attended the Dinner.

The evening began with the Vesper service for St. PHILIP The Apostle (the patron saint of His Eminence). After vespers, everyone proceeded to the large dining room for a wonderful dinner, and dessert. His Eminence addressed the seminarians and their spouses, especially on matters of pastoral care for the faithful. He emphasized the need to remain true to Orthodox traditions while being mindful of the culture that we live in. He emphasized also that our faith must touch the lives of people in a positive way, and that the wives of our priests also have an important ministry.

Click here to see more pictures.

Patriarch IGNATIUS IV in Boston

From October 28 to November 2, 2008, His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV met with Metropolitan PHILIP and the Archdiocese synod of Bishops in Boston, Massachusetts. Please click on the following picture to see more photos of each respective event.

Luncheon in Honor of His Beatitude Board of Trustees Meeting
A luncheon was held in honor of His Beatitude on October 28th. The Archdiocese Board of Trustees held a meeting on October 31st and November 1st.
Banquet for the University of Balamand Patriarchal Divine Liturgy
On November 1st, His Beatitude presided over a banquet celebrating the 20th anniversary of the founding of the University of Balamand in Lebanon. His Beatitude, together with Metropolitan PHILIP and the Bishops in attendance, celebrated Patriarchal Divine Liturgy on Sunday, November 2nd.

Upcoming Broadcasts on the Orthodox Christian Network

This week on the Orthodox Christian Network:

On this week's episode of Come Receive the Light, Fr. Alexander Goussetis, author of "Encountering World Religions: An Orthodox Christian Perspective," talks with Fr. Chris about Buddhism.

Also, Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, a professor at Boston University, answers questions about Orthodoxy sent in from listeners around the country.

"Special Moments in Orthodoxy" continues its adult Bible study of the Book of Acts with Fr. Harry Pappas.

"Turning to the Fathers" with Fr. John McGuckin looks at the spiritual teachings of St. John of Damascus.

Also new this week: "Get Wisdom," the Bible study program for teens and young adults, and "Just Thinking," where Fr. Chris and Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News discuss current events and social trends.

Archdiocese Synod of Bishops Meets in Boston, MA

His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East presided over a meeting of the Archdiocese Synod of Bishops on Friday, October 31st, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts.

From left to right: Bishop MARK, Bishop THOMAS, Bishop JOSEPH, Metropolitan PHILIP, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV, Bishop ANTOUN, Bishop LUKA (Patriarchal Auxiliary Bishop), Bishop ALEXANDER.

Bishop BASIL could not attend due to a previous commitment in Houston, Texas.

His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV

Patriarch IGNATIUS IV Arrives in America

His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV arrived in Newark, New Jersey on the evening of October 28th, 2008. He was greeted at the airport by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, Bishop ANTOUN, Bishop THOMAS and area clergy. His Beatitude will stay at the Archdiocese Headquarters until Thursday October 30th when he will depart for Boston, MA, where he will preside over a celebration banquet for the University of Balamand (click here for more information).

IOCC in Georgia: Displaced Families Facing Harsh Winter

October 24, 2008

Tskvarichamia, Georgia -- The leaves have already changed in Tskvarichamia, a mountain hamlet about 15 miles above Tbilisi. For the 16 families taking shelter in a modest building, this is not a herald of the harvest, but rather, an ominous reminder that winter is coming and they are not prepared.

At dusk, two mothers, their children and an elderly couple sit on the front porch and explain to an aid worker that the rest of the families have gone to the authorities to protest their living conditions and to demand that they be moved to Tbilisi. “We feel cut off up here,” says Nanna, carrying her small son on her lap. “It is cold and we cannot properly care for our children.” She and her husband were farmers in the village of Kemerti in South Ossetia, and like many who were displaced by this summer’s fighting between Russian and Georgian forces, they fled with little more than the clothes on their backs.

The group that had gone to Tbilisi return, and seeing the visitor immediately launch into a litany of complaints. They have no kitchen utensils. Blankets were delivered but the mattresses are no good. Above all, the building was formerly used as a summer camp for children and there is not enough insulation from the cold.  “We may be blocked up here from other areas in the winter and our children have to go to school, ” says one woman. 

IOCC Assists American Red Cross in Houston/Galveston Hurricane Clean-Up Effort

October 17, 2008

Baltimore, Maryland — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) lent a hand recently to the American Red Cross in its effort to bring relief and recovery to communities in Houston and Galveston that were devastated by Hurricane Ike. IOCC delivered $140,000 worth of medical and hygiene supplies to the American Red Cross Auchan shelter in Houston. The supplies include such items as baby wipes, gloves, hygiene and toiletry kits, antibacterial soap and medical items.

The supplies, which were donated by IOCC partner Globus Relief, will be divided among Auchan and three other shelters in the Houston area benefitting more than 2,000 individuals.

Since early September, IOCC has also been sending a team of Orthodox clergy known as the Frontline to American Red Cross shelters in Houston and Galveston. The Frontline volunteers are trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), a form of trauma counseling and evaluation. Shelters are filled to capacity, according to American Red Cross officials who invited IOCC’s assistance.

Several Orthodox churches in the Houston area, as well as outside Texas, have provided IOCC with valuable logistical assistance, supplies and counsel throughout this effort.

Upcoming Broadcasts on Come Receive the Light

Upcoming features on Orthodox Christian Network's Come Receive the Light broadcast:

Current Feature: Orthodoxy and Ecumenism
with Fr. John McGuckin.

Fr. John McGuckin, noted scholar and host of an OCN podcast series called "Turning to the Fathers," discusses important points of distinction between Orthodox Christianity and other Christian confessions, including the idea of "sola scriptura," the role of tradition, the communion of the saints and more.

October 17th: Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922
with Giles Milton.

Giles Milton, an international best-selling author, talks about his newest book, "Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922." Giles tells the largely unknown story of the destruction of Smyrna, an extraordinary, heterogeneous and tolerant city with a large Orthodox Christian population — a disaster that would prefigure the coming clash of civilizations between East and West.

October 24th: Time Management
with Dr. Albert Rossi.

Dr. Albert Rossi of St. Vladimir's Seminary offers some practical steps to help us set aside more time for family, relationships and meaningful spiritual growth in a busy world.

October 2008 Issue of The Word Magazine Now Available Online

Click cover to download: 

The October 2008 issue includes the following articles:

Christians and Jews Under Islam, pg. 4
by Najib Saliba, Ph.D.

Preaching Christ Crucified at the Transfiguration, pg. 12
by Fr. Steven C. Salaris, M.Div., Ph.D.

A Son's Journey to the Priesthood, pg. 14

Special Olympics Training Camp at the Antiochian Village: A Little Taste of Heaven, pg. 17

I Am a Consumer, by Fr. Daniel Daly, pg. 30

...and more!