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Save the Date: Orthodox Institute 2015

Antiochian Village + Nov. 5-8, 2015
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Educate the adults and you won't need church schools!"

Join us for the Orthodox Institute November 5-8! Hear from Kevin Allen, Fr. Josiah Trenham, Gerry Clonaris, Dr. Anton Vrame, Robert Snyder, Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, Fr. Stephen Freeman, Fr. Sergius Halvorsen, Fr. John Oliver, Anestis Jorganaglue, Vasiliki Oldziey and the staff of OCEC and the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education!

"Total Parish Education & Faithtree Ministries"

Total Parish Education is the goal of the pastoral ministry at St. Michael Church in Van Nuys, California. The success we have had with the youth educational program at St. Michael's is due in no small measure to the parents, grandparents, Godparents, and professionals within the community of our parish. Given the opportunity to engage with the students as the persons they are, and to learn with them, they recognized that education revitalizes their own faith. Fr. Timothy Baclig, Pastor of St. Michael Church will summarize his successes and failures in his attempt to revitalize the participation of his parishioners in the liturgical and family life of the church.

Interview with Kh. Gigi Shadid: Teaching Service Through HUGS

Khouria Gigi Shadid, wife of Fr. James Shadid of St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, TX, is a mother of three, a school teacher, and former youth director. Her passion is teaching with music, and she has produced five educational music CDs to date. Several years ago, she developed the Matthew 25 HUGS program, or Hands Used for God's Service, in cooperation with the Archdiocese's Department of Christian Education. The goal of the program is to nurture generous spirits in the children of our church schools, with targeted activities and lessons at every grade level until children graduate from high school. asked her to explain further.

Where did the idea for the HUGS program come from, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

My cousin, Georgina, is known for giving great hugs. One day, we were talking and she began telling me about how much she wishes she could go to the NICU at a hospital and just hug on the little babies there. I told her that her loving hugs are one of the gifts that God has given her and that she should share those hugs with as many people as she can. As we talked, Georgina expressed a desire to do more with that gift... but what?

Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women

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.

Feast of the Holy Great-Martyr George is April 23

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

Read the life of St. George

Access liturgical resources for the Feast of St. George

(If April 23 falls on or before Great and Holy Pascha, the Feast of St. George is translated to Bright Monday.)


Joint Statement on the Second Anniversary of the Kidnapping of Archbishops Paul and John

A Joint Statement Issued by the two Patriarchates of Antioch and of All the East: The Greek (Roum) Orthodox Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church

On the occasion of the second anniversary of kidnapping the two Metropolitans of Aleppo: His Eminence Paul (Yazigi) and His Eminence John (Abraham) on April 22, 2013

Damascus April 22, 2015

"It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial." (Acts 23:6)

Paul and John are on trial; the Christian persecution for Evangelization of the first century has now returned to this land. Such persecution is not common in the East or in modern times. The consequences of this trial are not only earthly but heavenly. In this struggle, the Great Judge will prevail, for His judgement is both the case of True Man and True God.

Maybe this trial is unfair, most probably because the kidnapped are not able to plead their case. But their testimony resounds ceaselessly by their spirit and life, and echoes in the wilderness of this world.

O brethren of the Word, you are our children in Aleppo; in you and among you we planted the seeds of the true word, the word of witnessing and of ministry. Behold, the plant is growing! We see this growth in you and we are proud of its fruit. We are astounded by your perseverance, which strengthens our perseverance. We exalt your steadfastness which sustains us. We esteem your patience, which recompenses our patience. How not? You are the crown of our glory and pride (1 Thess 2.19,20) in this trial against evangelization.

Photos Capture the Beauty of Holy Week and Pascha, 2015

St. Michael Orthodox Church, Louisville, KYSt. Michael Orthodox Church, Louisville, KYChrist is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! ~Paschal Troparion

As the Antiochian Archdiocese's first Great Lent under the leadership of Metropolitan Joseph concluded, parishes around the United States and Canada commenced the services for Holy Week and Pascha. Throughout the solemn week, the faithful gathered frequently in worship and prayer, finishing the week with the joyous celebration of Pascha on April 12, 2015. Our photo gallery presents a colorful summary of this apex of the Church year.

If your parish isn't represented yet, it's not too late! Send your photos to, and we'll include your community in the gallery.

View the photo gallery of images from parishes across the Archdiocese
See the photo gallery of Metropolitan Joseph's first Pascha at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY

Thomas Sunday

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.

On April 22, 2015, Metropolitan Paul and Archbishop Youhanna will complete their second year in captivity. Therefore, His Beatitude Patriarch John X and His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph have dedicated St.Thomas Sunday as a day of prayers for them. All clergy are requested to print the attached statement from His Beatitude Patriarch John X and distribute it to all parishioners.

Statement of Patriarch John X (English)
Statement of Patriarch John X (Arabic)

View our Paschal resources section

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for Great and Holy Pascha

Pastoral Message for Great and Holy Pascha
April 12, 2015

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, as is meet; and let the whole world, visible and invisible, feast; for Christ hath risen to everlasting joy.
(from the 1st Ode of the Paschal Canon)

Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

We greet you with great joy and love as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. We are reminded by the hymn quoted above that the entire universe rejoices in this singular event which brings new life to all creation. Even the current state of violence and hatred which plagues this world is shattered to pieces by the Lord's descent into Hades and his resurrection from the dead. We ask all of the faithful to continue to pray for the two abducted bishops, Metropolitan Paul, and Archbishop Youhanna, and the victims of violence around the world, especially in Syria and in the entire region. The victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over the powers of death, and the hope of new life are indeed our only consolation during these troubled times. The triumph of this Paschal season strengthens our faith and renews our hope. Let us therefore rejoice with the heavens and celebrate with the entire universe on this, the Feast of Feasts!

Great and Holy Friday

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!

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

Online Liturgical Texts for April Now Available

Fr. Justin Havens of Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Salt Lake City, Utah baptizes new Orthodox Christians on Holy Saturday, 2014.Fr. Justin Havens of Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Salt Lake City, Utah baptizes new Orthodox Christians on Holy Saturday, 2014.The liturgical texts for April, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

By now, Orthodox Christians have completed their Lenten journeys by entering into the festive, albeit brief, period of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. When our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ raised his friend Lazarus from the dead after four days, He confirmed "the universal Resurrection." That is, our Lord shows us that He will raise all of those who believe that He is Life. Then, on Palm Sunday, we commemorate our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem where the people cried out "Hosanna!" (or, "save us now!) and waved palms as symbols of victory. Antiochian parishes around the world festively celebrate this day as a second Pascha, bearing candles and palms in large outdoor processions.

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.