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Meatfare Sunday (Sunday of the Last Judgment)

The trumpets shall blow, and the graves shall be empty, and all mankind shall rise trembling. They who have done good shall rejoice with joy, expecting their reward; and those who have done evil shall tremble greatly, moaning and shaking, as they are sent to suffering, separated from the elect. Wherefore, O Lord of glory, be compassionate toward us, and make us worthy to be of those who love thee; for thou art good.

- from Vespers, Tone 6

For those observing the Lenten Fast, Meatfare Sunday is the last day on which meat and poultry are eaten before Pascha.

To learn more about the season of pre-Lenten preparation, please visit our Great Lent section.

Catechesis by St. Theodore the Studite on Meatfare Sunday

Read more about Meatfare Sunday, in an excerpt from Great Lent by Alexander Schmemann.

Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko's reflections on the Sunday of the Last Judgment on Ancient Faith Radio.

Visit our full section on Great Lent.

 

The Enthronement of Metropolitan Joseph: Celebrations of East and West

Imagine the spiritual renewal, excitement, festivities and joyful reunion of the clergy and laity at a Parish Life Conference or an Archdiocesan Convention – in the middle of winter.

Antiochian Orthodox Christians on this continent did not have to wait until summertime for such large gatherings. We had great cause for celebration before then – the enthronement of a new metropolitan, the first that the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America had celebrated in 48 years.

The Archdiocese came together twice this winter – first in Brooklyn, and then in Los Angeles – to celebrate the beginning of the leadership of its new father and chief shepherd: His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph. Inaugurating the first celebration was none other than his roommate in the late 1970s at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece, who is now the successor to the throne of the Apostles Peter and Paul: His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East. (View photo galleries, video, and press releases in Antiochian.org's special Enthronement section)

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

When I disobey in ignorance thy fatherly glory, I wasted in iniquities the riches that thou gavest me. Wherefore, I cry to thee with the voice of the prodigal son, saying, I have sinned before thee, O compassionate Father, receive me repentant, and make me as one of thy hired servants.

- Kontakion, Tone 3

I have been entrusted with a verdant and faultless region, but I planted evil in its soil and reaped its cares with the scythe of laziness. And I gathered my deeds into sheaves but placed them not on the threshing-floor of repentance. Wherefore, I ask thee, O divine Husbandman, to winnow the straw of my deeds with the breeze of thy compassionate love; and fill my soul with the wheat of forgiveness. Store me in thy heavenly garners and save me.

- from Vespers, Tone 1

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Milestones with Chicago Community

Metropolitan Joseph elevates Fr. MousaMetropolitan Joseph elevates Fr. MousaView the photos by Toni Milak and Sami Studio.

Between January 15– 18, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph made his first visit to Chicago as Metropolitan, to St. Mary Orthodox Church of Palos Heights, IL, to join Fr. Mousa Haddad, Fr. Malek Rihani, and their parishioners. Throughout the weekend, His Eminence and the St. Mary community celebrated the tremendous growth the church has experienced since starting as a mission only eleven years ago, and looked forward in anticipation of the expansion and renovation of their recently purchased building.

On Thursday January 15 His Eminence, accompanied by His Grace Bishop Nicholas, were welcomed at Chicago's O'Hare airport by a large delegation led by Fr. Mousa and Mr. Luai Sweiss, the Chairman of St. Mary's Parish Council. This delegation included the Antiochian clergy of the Chicagoland area, local members of the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees, and parish community leaders. After the arrival of His Eminence, the group was treated to a wonderful lunch hosted by Board of Trustees member Constantin Kari.

Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple + February 2

Adorn thy chamber, O Zion, and receive Christ the King. Welcome Mary the heavenly gate; for she hath appeared as a cherubic throne; she carrieth the King of glory. Verily, the Virgin is a cloud of light carrying in her body the Son Who is before the morning star, Whom Simeon carrying in his arms proclaimed to the nations as the Lord of life and death, and the Savior of our souls.
-Vespers of the Feast, Tone 7

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous old man, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.
-Apolytikion of the Feast, Tone 1

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

O Lord, Thou didst reproach the Pharisee when he justified himself, boasting of his deeds; and justified the Publican when he approached humbly, seeking forgiveness with sighs; for Thou dost not draw near to arrogant thoughts, nor turn away contrite hearts. Wherefore, we also kneel before Thee meekly, O Thou Who didst suffer for our sakes. Grant us forgiveness and the Great Mercy.

+ Doxasticon from Orthros, Tone 8

When the Pharisee went down with empty glory, and the publican bowed himself in repentance, they came to Thee alone, O Master. But the one through boasting lost his reward, and the other by his silence deserved gifts. Wherefore, by those sighs confirm me, O Christ God, since Thou art the Lover of mankind.

+ from the Praises at Orthros, Tone 1

February Liturgical Texts are Now Available

St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral of Los Angeles, CA, celebrates the Ceremony of the Presentation of BoysSt. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral of Los Angeles, CA, celebrates the Ceremony of the Presentation of BoysThe 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. This month, the Orthodox Church finishes the forty-day celebration of Christmas right as it begins its journey into Great Lent.

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.

Bishop Nicholas to Speak on St. Raphael at Schmemann Lecture

His Grace Nicholas (Ozone), auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and resident assistant to Metropolitan Joseph, will speak at the 32nd Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture, Friday, January 30, at 7 p.m., on "The Life and Ministry of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn." In 2015, the Antiochian Archdiocese will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of St. Raphael with many commemorations related to the Centennial Jubilee.

The free lecture will take place in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, 575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, NY 10707, and a public reception will follow. (Listen to an interview about the Lecture on Ancient Faith Radio.)

Saint Raphael was born Raphael Hawaweeny in Beirut, Lebanon of Damascene Syrian parents of Greek Orthodox Antiochite-Byzantine origin. Father Raphael was sent to New York City in 1895 by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to administer the local Orthodox Christian community, which included both Russians and people of the Levant. In 1904 Archbishop (Saint) Tikhon of Moscow and Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) consecrated him as Bishop of Brooklyn, a position he held until his death.

Bishop Raphael was glorified by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in its March 2000 session. He is commemorated by the Antiochian Orthodox Church on the first Saturday of November. Originally buried in New York, Bishop Raphael's body was translated in August 1989 to the Antiochian Village Camp in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Share the Light Sunday Highlights the Ministry of OCN

From the Orthodox Christian Network website:

Do you benefit from Orthodox Christian Network's ministry? Do you believe in creating a powerful media outreach for Orthodox Christianity? Then please stand with us at OCN as we seek to share our timeless Orthodox Christian Faith with the world!

On January 18th, OCN begins its Share the Light Sunday Campaign for 2015. You and your parish can support OCN in a number of ways:

  • Read the 2015 Encyclical and pass a tray on a Sunday morning.
  • Share with everyone OCN's 10 cent a day campaign. With 100% of donations going to mission, not overhead, you can help us expand and bring comfort, inspiration, and information to Orthodox Christians and seekers worldwide.
  • Add OCN as a line item into your annual parish budget.

Jubilee Year of the Repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn

Letter regarding the Jubilee Year of the repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn, to be read from the pulpit, published in church bulletins and newsletters, and posted on parish websites:

January, 2015

Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Parish Councils, Department Chairs and Beloved Faithful:

Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you all enjoyed a blessed feast of Theophany.

2015 is an historic year in the life of our God-protected archdiocese. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the falling-asleep of St. Raphael of Brooklyn as well as the 120th anniversary of our Mother Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn and, therefore, our Antiochian presence on these blessed shores.

Our father in Christ, Patriarch JOHN X, inaugurated this jubilee year during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn on December 7th. Throughout 2015, we will mark this anniversary at various places and locations, including, but not limited to, the Antiochian Village, St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, the archdiocese convention in Boston and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. Likewise, the theme of our convention and parish life conferences, as well as the various festivals and contests is centered on, and will reflect on the life of this "good shepherd of the lost sheep in America."

2015 Archdiocese Mid-Winter Meetings

UPDATE JANUARY 8: REGISTRATION LINK BELOW HAS BEEN CORRECTED.

Register online here
Download the tentative schedule

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, the 2015 Archdiocese Mid-Winter Meetings will be held at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA, February 6-8, 2015. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, 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 if you have any questions.

Homily of Patriarch John X for the New Year

On January 1, 2015, His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, offered a homily at Maryamiyya Cathedral for the start of the new year. (Arabic original here.)

Brother hierarchs and beloved clergy,

"We are at the threshold of a new year. The newness does not lie in the year. The newness lies in our determination to transform time in favor of the truth, to give time a meaning other than the meaning that we know, for time to be an expression of the holiness of our life and our existence, for us to breathe into it the spirit of God's grace that is within us, so that its eternity will return to it and it will reach the shores of our holiness. The newness does not lie in the year, but in our resolve to shape our being anew... Shaping our being means opening our arms to the poor and the vulnerable in the world, for us to be a force for ending their weakness and liberating them from their humiliation. Shaping our being makes us cream to sate the hungry, a coat to clothe the naked, a right hand to take the lame and guide them to good pastures." —The Homily of Patriarch Elias IV for the New Year, 1971

"'For this the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' This is the beginning of the preaching career of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is His program and His plan... These words are two thousand years old. These words are ancient but they ring in our ears as though they were spoken today. Christ spoke them two thousand years ago, recalling the wretched, the poor and the broken-hearted." —The Homily of Patriarch Ignatius IV for the New Year, 1997

On this day the hearts of the faithful orient themselves to the Lord, the Creator, that He might grant peace to the world, the whole world.

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.

Online Liturgical Guide Adds January Texts

St. Andrew Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of Pensacola, Florida offers the Outdoor Great Sanctification of Water and “Cross Dive” at Theophany celebrations in 2014.St. Andrew Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of Pensacola, Florida offers the Outdoor Great Sanctification of Water and “Cross Dive” at Theophany celebrations in 2014.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.

"For in the preceding feast we have beheld Thee a babe, and in this present feast we behold Thee perfect man, O our perfect God, appearing from the Perfect."

With these words from the Service of the Great Sanctification of Water, the Orthodox Church transitions from the Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ (Christmas) to His Epiphany, or Theophany. In this great feast, we celebrate the revelation of our Lord as God. Theophany is also known as the "Feast of Lights" in that Jesus, by His baptism in the River Jordan, enlightened the world. Christ's baptism also marks the renewal of humanity: our Lord is cleansed and He shows us how we must be cleansed of sin by drowning it in the waters which He blessed by entering them.

January 2015 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The January 2015 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:

The Speech of His Beatitude Patriarch John X at the Enthronement of His Eminence Joseph (Zehlaoui)

The Address of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph

All Power Belongs to God
by His Grace Bishop John

The Cost of Freedom
by His Grace Bishop John

Personhood and an Aging Mind and Body
by Peter A. Kavanaugh

Is Orthodox Christianity Conservative or Liberal?
by Fr. Ignatius Valentine

...and more!

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 name's day!

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

Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity

Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdest 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!

2014 Nativity Pastoral Message of His Eminence Joseph, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America

“Come, O God-inspired faithful, arise and behold the descent of God from on high! He manifests Himself to us in Bethlehem. Let us cleanse our minds and offer Him a life of virtue instead of myrrh. Let us prepare with faith to celebrate His Nativity, storing up spiritual treasure and crying out: Glory in the highest to God in Trinity! His good pleasure is now revealed to men. In his love for mankind He sets Adam free from the ancestral curse”. (Idiomelon for the Sixth Hour of the Nativity)

We greet you with joy as we draw near to the glorious feast of the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ!

The beautiful hymn above embodies the true spirit of Christmas as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. God comes down to us from on high, and chooses to be born as a babe in the most humble of settings, the cave in Bethlehem. We strive to respond to this outpouring of love from God by cleansing our minds from all carnal thoughts and passions. Whereas the Kings of the East offered Him myrrh, our appropriate offering is a life of virtue, free from all of the sinfulness that would separate us from our God.

2014 Nativity Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

By the mercy of God

Patriarch John X, The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

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

"Heaven and Earth are made one today, for Christ is born. Today God is come upon the earth, and man is gone up into the Heavens. Today He Who by nature is invisible, for man's sake is seen in the flesh. For this cause, let us also give glory and cry out to Him: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, which Thy coming hath bestowed upon us; O our Savior, glory be to Thee."

This is what our church chants on this glorious day, the day of the Creator's presence in the flesh: the Nativity of Jesus Christ. 

His presence glows with peace. O Christ, how much we need Thy peaceful presence on earth, from which Thy glad tidings have gone forth unto the whole universe! O Treasure of Mercy, O Sun of Righteousness, how greatly do we need Thy presence, in a land which has grown weary of the drums of war, of dismemberment, and of abduction! The land that welcomed the apostles two thousand years ago lies wounded and hemorrhages!

Historic Boston Convention: "Something for Everyone"

North American Chair of the Order of St. Ignatius and Boston attorney, Mary Winstanley-O'Connor, will have an eventful year in 2015. Along with co-chair Raymond Sayeg, she is serving as co-chair of the committee responsible for the 52nd Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, which will be hosted by her home parish, St. Mary Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA with The Very Rev. Antony Hughes. Antiochian.org asked her about the plans for the Archdiocese's "family reunion," which will be held in history-rich Boston, and will be led by Metropolitan Joseph for the first time.

Tell us about your hometown of Boston, and what conference-goers can look forward to this summer?

Boston is the cradle of democracy, rich in the history of the founding of our country, and home of the site of the Boston Tea Party. People are able to walk the Freedom Trail, visit the Old North Church from which the lanterns were hung to warn the troops as to whether the British were coming by land or by sea, and to visit the Paul Revere House.