By Fr. James Coles, St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, Mesa, AZ
A new, and lively, cohort of doctoral students gathered May 19-24, 2013 at the Antiochian Village to begin a three-year journey toward, as St. Gregory The Theologian put it, "hieratiki syneithesis" (priestly consciousness) in the D. Min. program through the Antiochian House of Studies. Under the tutelage of Director The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Allen, and with the wonderful opportunity of the participation of The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn as a fellow student, we spent five days delving deep into the knowledge and love of God the Father.
Calling all parents! June is just around the corner, and for schoolchildren, the long awaited season of summer is about to begin. Throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese, the counselors, cooks, and clergy of our church camps are preparing for another busy season. You are urged to sign up your child now since some of the camps fill up quickly, and Antiochian Village sessions are nearly full. If sending a child off to camp is new to you, refer to these Resources for Parents from Antiochian Village's website. More details are also available from the Department of Camping.
In the midst of this Feast, O Savior, give Thou my thirsty soul to drink of the waters of true worship; for Thou didst call out to all, saying: Whosoever is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Wherefore, O Christ our God, Fountain of life, glory to Thee.
+ Apolytikion of the Feast, Tone 8
On the Wednesday of the Paralytic, we celebrate the Feast of Mid-Pentecost.
Standing in the midst of the teachers, Christ the Messiah teacheth at Mid-Feast.
Mid-Pentecost is the midpoint of the fifty days between the Feasts of Pascha and Pentecost. In the Divine Liturgy Gospel passage, we read that “in the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the Temple, and taught” (John 7:14).
With spring in full bloom at the close of Great Lent, 2013, the solemn Holy Week services commenced and then gave way to joyful Paschal celebrations over the weekend of May 4 - 5. In fledgling small town mission parishes and established communities in the heart of big cities, the faithful participated in daily services leading up to the climactic days of Holy Saturday and Pascha. Visit our photo gallery of services and celebrations from Alaska to New York! If your parish isn't represented in our photo gallery yet, send us your photos and we can add your church to the gallery.
Christ is Risen!
Indeed, He is Risen!
O Thou Who holdest the ends of the earth in the palm of Thy hand, O Jesus our God, Who art co-beginningless with the Father, and Who, together with the Holy Spirit dost rule over all things: Thou didst appear in the flesh, healing infirmities, driving away passions, and giving sight to the blind. And, by a divine word, Thou didst raise up the paralytic, commanding him to walk straightway and to take up upon his shoulders his bed, which had carried him. Wherefore, together with him we all praise Thee and cry: O Compassionate Christ, glory to Thy dominion and might.
--Oikos of the Feast
On this, the fourth Sunday of Pascha, we make commemoration of the Paralytic and, as is meet, we celebrate the miracle wrought for him.
The word of Christ was strength for the paralytic;
And thus this word alone was his healing.
On Monday, April 15, 2013, leaders of member churches and organizations of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. (CCT) gathered in Birmingham, AL to attend a symposium on racism. The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn represented the Antiochian Archdiocese, and was joined by other Orthodox dignitaries, including His Beatitude The Most Blessed Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
The meeting date coincided with the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic Letter from Birmingham Jail. Dr. King’s letter was written in 1963 in response to eight Alabama clergyman who cautioned restraint regarding the civil rights demonstrations.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has announced Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday:
Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me...only Luke is with me. 2 Timothy 4:9-11
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Laity of the Orthodox Churches in North and Central America:
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Christ is Risen!
We greet you in the surpassing joy of the Risen Christ. By the grace of God, we are blessed to observe the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, which this year falls on June 9, as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday. We embrace the diakonia of prison ministry in keeping with the example of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Physician of our souls, who did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; who ate in the houses of thieves and forgave the sins of harlots; and who said that, when we visit those in prison, we are in truth visiting Him, the Lord of Glory.
Hear the voice of gladness, O women; for I have trodden down rebellious Hades, and raised the world from corruption. Wherefore, hasten ye and proclaim the glad tidings to My beloved; for I desire that joy shall break forth thence upon My creation, whence first came forth sorrow.
--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 2
On this day, the third Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the holy Myrrh-bearing women. And we also make commemoration of Joseph of Arimathea, who was a secret disciple, and Nicodemus, who was a disciple by night.
The women disciples bring myrrh unto Christ;
And I bring a hymn as it were myrrh unto them.
Charles Ajalat writes on May 13:
The following needs just a minute or two of your time to help obtain the release of the two bishops who were kidnapped three weeks ago in Syria while on a humanitarian mission. One of the bishops is Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi), brother of our Antiochian Patriarch, John X. The other is the Syriac Archbishop Youhanna (Ibrahim). Six prominent members of Congress are already spearheading this effort, and yesterday sent a Dear Colleague letter to their remaining 429 colleagues to join as co-signers of the letter they are sending to the Secretary of State later this week (with a copy to Ambassador Ford), asking the Representatives to commit to their signing by this Friday noon. I have been working with the Congressional Representatives and they have asked me to contact you for needed help.
For the first time since his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America in November 2012, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was the guest of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip at the offices of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in Englewood, New Jersey on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Metropolitan Tikhon was accompanied by Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations; and Subdeacon Roman Ostash. Joining Metropolitan Philip in welcoming the OCA delegation was His Grace Bishop Nicholas, Auxiliary-Brooklyn and Resident Assistant to Metropolitan Philip; Archpriest Thomas Zain, AOCA Vicar General; and Archpriest George Kevorkian, AOCA Assistant to the Metropolitan. A warm atmosphere provided the context for substantive conversations about the current plight of Christians in the Middle East and specifically the situation of the two Syrian hierarchs who remain in captivity as well as the OCA’s recent history, the ongoing work of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, and hope for a united autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America.
Today the fragrance of spring is shed forth, and the new creation shall rejoice. Today the locks shall be lifted from the doors with the faithlessness of the beloved Thomas, as he shouteth out, Thou art my Lord and my God.
-Orthros of the Feast
On the second Sunday of Pascha, we inaugurate the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, and the occasion whereon the Holy Apostle Thomas touched the Savior’s side.
If the seals of the Virgin’s womb and of the grave did not hinder Thee,
How could the seals of the doors hinder Thy might, O Savior?
This day is called New Sunday, Thomas Sunday or Anti-Pascha. The last term means “in place of Pascha”, because Thomas did not hear of Christ’s Resurrection and disbelieved it. We remember his doubt but do not repeat it. After this Sunday, the Church dedicates Sunday to the Resurrection.
Republished May 10: The Archdiocese encourages all of her members to show their continuing support for kidnapped archbishops Paul and John of Aleppo, first and foremost through heartfelt prayer. We also encourage people to sign and promote the online petition available here at the website of the White House, calling for United States government action on behalf of the abducted metropolitans. Please use the petition at this link.
Support and attention for Archbishop Paul and Archbishop John continues to grow. The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has published their joint letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry here. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has published Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's call for the release of the archbishops. The Russian Orthodox Church has published several statements, including the patriarchal message from Patriarch Kirill to Patriarch John X available here, along with the list of documents available below. Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church prayed for the release of the metropolitans, as announced here. The Archdiocese is grateful for these and all other ongoing efforts for the sake of Archbishop Paul and Archbishop John, and all our brothers and sisters suffering in the region.
"Christ is Risen!" "Indeed He is Risen!" This joyous refrain could be heard in St. Nicholas Cathedral in the early morning hours of May 5. After waiting for spring in the Northeast this year, the dark and short days of the season have given way to "the day that knows no night" and the celebration of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. Once again, our father in Christ, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, returned home to celebrate the Feast of Feasts and the season of seasons in his cathedral, the mother church of the North American Archdiocese.
Listen as the chanters of St. Nicholas, led by Protopsaltis Rasem El Massih, sing "Today is the Day of Resurrection."
The Patriarchate of Antioch has released the following Paschal Letter in a range of languages. Please see the attached PDF files at the end of the letter for the greeting in other languages. Christ is risen!
Paschal Letter 2013
With the Mercy of God John Xth Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
To all our beloved in the Lord the children of the Antiochian See, clergy and laypersons,
On the great day of Resurrection, on which Christ rose and raised us with Him, it pleases me to remember with you the meanings of Resurrection and to explain some of its aspects.
The resurrection of the Lord is the resurrection of each one of us. In the resurrection the power of the devil, our enemy, was brought to naught. Although death terrifies human beings, yet the Lord Jesus has defeated it with his life-giving resurrection. He descended in His death to the abode of death, that is, to Hades, and exploded it from within, abolishing its effects. It is true that death is still there, however it has become a mere passage to true life, a complete liberation from temporal things and a way to eternity. Resurrection gave us grace instead of sin, immortality instead of corruption, life instead of death. The rule of the evil one is gone and the kingdom of God has appeared. Darkness gives way to light.
Blessed Feast Day to our many St. George parishes!
As the deliverer of captives and the protector of the poor, as the physician of the feeble and combatant of kings, holy champion and great martyr George, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls. + Troparion of St. George, Tone 4
Thou wast cultivated by God and didst become a most wonderful cultivator of piety, and didst harvest for thyself the sheaves of virtue, for having sown in tears thou didst reap in joy and having withstood to death thou art garnered for Christ. By thy intercessions, O Saint, thou dost obtain for us all remission of our sins. + Kontakion of St. George, Tone 4
Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!
It is the day of the Resurrection, be illumined, people, Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha. From death unto life, from the earth to heaven has Christ Our God led us singing the song of victory.
Today hell groans and cries aloud: "My power has been destroyed. I accepted a mortal man as one of the dead; yet I cannot keep Him prisoner, and with Him I shall lose all those over whom I ruled. I held in my power the dead from all the ages; but see, He is raising them all." Glory to Thy Cross, O Lord, and to Thy Resurrection.
On Great and Holy Friday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the sufferings of Christ: the mockery, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nails, the thirst, the vinegar and gall, the cry of desolation, and all the Savior endured on the Cross. "Today He Who hung the earth on the waters is hung on the tree," sing the solemn worshippers. Beginning with the Orthros of Holy Friday on Thursday evening, and ending with Vespers on Friday afternoon, the day is one of solemn observation and strict fasting. The richness of the liturgical actions and hymnography on this day, are unsurpassed.
We worship Your passion and Your burial,
for by them, You have saved us from death!
The May 2013 issue includes the following articles:
What Language is This?, pg. 4
by R. Leo Olson
How to Think About Evil, Until You Can't, pg. 8
by Christopher Humphrey, Ph.D.
The Role of Women in the Orthodox Church, pg. 16
by Bishop Nicholas
Strengthening the Voice of Young Arab-Americans, pg. 20
by Laila Mokhiber
Interview with Father George Shalhoub, pg. 24
by Elizabeth Ajluni
The following Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Patriarch John X was released in a range of languages by the Patriarchate of Antioch on Lazarus Saturday via their Facebook page. The original letter is available in PDF format, here for English and here for Arabic.
With God’s mercy
JOHN X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
To my brethren, the Shepherds of the Holy Church of Antioch, And my children throughout the Holy and Apostolic See
I address you today, at the end of Great Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, and at a time when we are being surrounded by much pain and suffering. Throughout our Antiochian lands, dangers threaten our homes, and political conflicts storm our countries. As a result, man’s livelihood, dwelling, and even life are at risk. We are tried every day by death or abduction, and our latest plight is the recent kidnapping of our beloved brothers, Bishop Paul Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Iskenderun and dependencies, and Bishop John Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, and the killing of the Deacon who was accompanying them.