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Statement of the Secretariat of the Antiochian Holy Synod

Statement of the Secretariat of the Antiochian Holy Synod
Balamand, on the 6th of June 2016

Decision

In the sequence of its seventh exceptional session still open since the 25th of May 2016, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch held a meeting on the 6th of June 2016 presided by His Beatitude Patriarch John X and in the presence of Their Eminencies the Bishops, to study the positions of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches related to the Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Council (mentioned hereafter as ”The Great Council”) and the issues listed in its agenda, and in order to take the appropriate Antiochian position in this respect, taking into consideration the decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of 31st May 2016 about “the formation of a committee of representatives of the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as responsible for the coordination, which would meet immediately after the Great and Holy Synod”, to working on a solution to the violation of the Church of Jerusalem of the canonical jurisdictional boundaries of the church of Antioch in the Emirate of Qatar.

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

As the angels, O Savior, wondered at Thy strange elevation, and the Disciples were amazed at Thy dread rising, Thou didst ascend in glory, being God, and the gates were lifted up for Thee. Wherefore, the heavenly powers were surprised, shouting, Glory to Thy condescension, O Savior; glory to Thy reign; glory to Thine Ascension, O Thou Who alone art the Lover of mankind.

--Orthros of the Feast

On the fortieth day after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He was taken up into the heavens in a cloud. 

"The cloud which today envelopes Jesus and ascends with him to heaven represents the smoke of the sacrifice rising from the altar to God. The sacrifice is accepted, and the victim is admitted to God's presence where it will continue to be offered in an eternal and heavenly manner. The work of our salvation has been accomplished and is blessed."

June 2016 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The June 2016 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:

Bringing Orthodox Leaders Together to Do God's Work
by His Grace Bishop John

Desiring Him Who Is Hidden
by Fr. Stephen Freeman

A Joint Statement: Three Years after the Abduction of Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna

Will the Cradle of Christianity Be without Christians?
by Dr. Najib E. Saliba

The Priesthood: Biblical, Crucible, Miracle
by Fr. John Oliver

We Know Him in Our Relationships
by Erin Kimmett

...and more!

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

O almighty Savior, Who didst pour forth water for the Hebrews from a solid rock, Thou didst come to the land of Samaria, and addressed a woman, seeking of her water to drink, whom Thou didst attract to faith in Thee, and who hath now attained life in the heavens everlastingly.

--Exaposteilarion of the Feast, Tone 2

On this day, the fifth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the Samaritan Woman.              
When thou camest to obtain corruptible water, O woman,

Thou didst draw forth living water that washeth away the soul’s stains.

Sign up Now! Metropolitan Joseph's Archpastoral Directive Regarding the Sacred Music Institute

On March 9, 2016, Metropolitan Joseph issued this Archpastoral Directive. Please note that the early bird deadline is June 8: rooms are going fast so book soon!

Dear Reverend Pastors of this God-Protected Archdiocese,

Greetings and Blessings during this Holy Triodion Season!

The Department of Sacred Music has been charged to elevate the beauty of our liturgical music in our parishes and missions. The Sacred Music Institute (SMI) provides necessary instruction, education and tools to our choir directors, singers and chanters, without which we cannot properly glorify the Lord with our chanting and singing. With a history of over thirty years, the Sacred Music Institute has a proven track record of helping church musicians of all ages and levels progress in their ministry.

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.

Read a reflection by Fr. Joshua Makoul, "Keeping the Empty Tomb in our Hearts and Turning our Crosses into Victory"

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for Great and Holy Pascha

May 1, 2016

Christ is Risen! Indeed 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.  I wish to share with you this beautiful Paschal Oration by St. Gregory the Theologian as my pastoral message for Pascha:

Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him.  
Yesterday I died with Him; Today I am made alive with Him.
Yesterday I was buried with Him; today I am raised up with Him.
Let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us…ourselves, the possession most precious to God and most proper.
Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us.
Let us become divine for His sake, since for us He became man.
He assumed the worse that He might give us the better.
He became poor that by 
His poverty we might become rich.

Great and Holy Wednesday

The woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy divinity, O Lord, fulfilled the part of a myrrh-bearer; and with lamentations she brought sweet-smelling oil of myrrh to Thee before Thy burial. "Woe is me," she said, "for night surrounds me, dark and moonless, and stings my lustful passion with the love of sin. Accept the fountain of my tears, O Thou who drawest down from the clouds the waters of the sea. Incline ot the groanings of my heart, O Thou who in Thine inneffable self-emptying hast bowed down the heavens. I shall kiss Thy most pure feet and wipe them with the hairs of my head, those feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise, and hid herself for fear. Who can search out the multitude of my sins and the abyss of Thy judgements, O Savior of my soul? Despise me not, Thine handmaiden, for Thou hast mercy without measure."

Tone 8, by Kassiani the Nun

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.

A Joint Statement: Three Years on the Abduction of Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna

On April 21, 2016, a joint statement was issued by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, marking the three year anniversary of the abduction of Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna.
 
 
Balamand, 21 April, 2016
 
Beloved Spiritual Children, Our Compatriots, Brothers and Sisters in Humanity,
 
On this day, three years ago, the Bishops of Aleppo, Metropolitans Paul Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim were kidnapped near Aleppo. This incident occurred while they were in a humanitarian mission to help save others. Since then, we have not heard any official news about them. No governments, associations, or great or small powers have provided us with any information about them. Since three years, their case became a miniature of the great human suffering coming from terrorism: massacres, abductions, deracination, takfir, and explosions. This is done under the pretexts of slogans and clichés. All this was done with no empathy to tearful mothers from Syria and the whole world and the broken hearts of many people who have prayed and worked to end this great human tragedy that has been going on for the last five years under false pretexts.

Memory Eternal! +Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou)

+Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou), 1924 – 2016

It was with great sadness that we learned of the falling asleep in our Lord Jesus Christ of His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou) on Sunday April 17th, 2016.  I was personally blessed to know Metropolitan Constantine during my time in Damascus, and I can certainly testify to his holiness, and prayerfulness.  It can truly be said that he was a man of God. 

Metropolitan Constantine was born in 1924 in Damascus, Syria where he was educated in the city's parochial schools. Desirous of entering upon an ecclesiastical career, His Eminence was blessed to study in Greece before he was ordained to the holy priesthood in 1951 by Patriarch Alexander III (Tahan) of Antioch.  He then served as a priest in Damascus and its vicinity for eighteen years. During the late 1950s he was appointed as the director of the Balamand Clerical School in north Lebanon, and in 1964 was assigned by Patriarch Theodosios VI (Abourjaily) VI as abbot of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of the Great-martyr George al-Humayra in the "Valley of the Christians" in Syria.

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

Save the Date + Summer Sacred Music Institute and Youth Music Ministry

Sacred Music Institute Summer Sacred Music Institute and Youth Music Ministry
July 13-17, 2016
Antiochian Village
Theme: Liturgy – The Work of the People
Download Flyer (PDF)
Schedule Outline (PDF)
Registration Fact Sheet (PDF)

Sacred Music Institute Registration
Youth Music Ministry Application

Please book your rooms early, as the 2016 SMI is expected to sell out! The SMI begins Wednesday July 13th at 5PM and return flights on Sunday, July 17th should not depart before 4PM.

Join our Facebook page for up to date information.

Memory Eternal! + Rose Mousi Yazigi, Mother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His holy ones" (Psalm 116:5).

Memory Eternal! Rose Mousi Yazigi, the mother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, has reposed in the Lord. In a letter of condolence to His Beatitude, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph wrote: "It is with a sadness that we have learned of the falling asleep in Christ of your beloved mother, Rosa. On behalf of myself, my brother bishops, the clergy, the members of the Board of Trustees, the heads of the departments and organizations, and all of the faithful of this Archdiocese, we offer our prayers and condolences as you struggle with the departure of your beloved mother, especially at a time when so many events are weighing so heavily on your shoulders."

Service information will be published as it becomes available.

Read Metropolitan Joseph's Letter of Condolence

Letter of Condolence from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to His Beatitude Patriarch John X

April 8, 2016

His Beatitude John X
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Beloved Sayedna and Father in Christ:

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His holy ones” (Psalm 116:5)

It is with a sadness that we have learned of the falling asleep in Christ of your beloved mother, Rosa. On behalf of myself, my brother bishops, the clergy, the members of the Board of Trustees, the heads of the departments and organizations, and all of the faithful of this Archdiocese, we offer our prayers and condolences as you struggle with the departure of your beloved mother, especially at a time when so many events are weighing so heavily on your shoulders.

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

Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Annunciation

March 25, 2016

"Today is the beginning of our salvation, and the manifestation of the mystery from the ages; for the Son of God becometh the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaimeth grace. Wherefore, do we shout with him to the Theotokos: Rejoice, O full of grace! The Lord is with thee". (Apolytikion of the Annunciation)

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

The Apolytikion quoted above communicates to us the awesome nature of this holy feast, which is the action of a loving God which initiates the events by which humankind is redeemed from the sins of the past. The Archangel announces to the woman who will become the Most Holy Theotokos that she has been chosen to be the tabernacle which will hold the very Son of God.

Metropolitan Joseph Convenes Meeting of Archdiocese Department and Organization Leaders

Department and Organization Leaders Gather at Antiochian VillageDepartment and Organization Leaders Gather at Antiochian VillageMarch 22, 2016 - Antiochian Village

Beginning today, department and organization leaders from across the Archdiocese have gathered with His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph to review their collective work, pray and fellowship together, and build greater collaborations across our collective efforts.

Also in attendance in their roles as hierarchical overseers of departments and organizations are their Graces Bishop Thomas, Bishop John, and Bishop Anthony, as well as leaders from the Archdiocese financial team and the Board of Trustees. His Grace Bishop Nicholas was unable to attend.

In his invitation to this meeting, Metropolitan Joseph wrote in part: "It is critical that we have departments and organizations of this Archdiocese whose work is dynamic, timely, efficient and impactful on the mission of this Archdiocese. ... It is so seldom that this important group meets. I want to make sure that we allocate in the agenda enough time for thoughtful and productive discussion about how we can all work together for the future of our beloved Archdiocese."

Metropolitan Joseph Hosts Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn

On March 20, 2016, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph hosted His Eminence Archbishop Michael of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Diocese of New York and New Jersey, and more than forty priests and deacons, at Brooklyn's St. Nicholas Cathedral. Numerous faithful representing various jurisdictions from throughout the greater New York area attended the Sunday evening service. (View more photos on Facebook.)

A Byzantine choir let by Protopsaltis Rassem El Massih and the "Spirit of Orthodoxy" pan-Orthodox choir, shared in the responses to the Vespers service. Earlier in the day His Eminence and Archbishop Michael concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church (OCA) in South River, NJ. Metropolitan Joseph preached at the Divine Liturgy and Archbishop Michael preached at Vespers service at our Cathedral. After the morning liturgy, Fr. Thomas Zain, Archdiocese Vicar General, assisted His Eminence in giving a talk on the situation of Syrian refugees and the ongoing war in Syria. The group of religious and civic leaders from the South River community was brought together for this occasion by the rector of Ss. Peter and Paul, Fr. David Garretson. It was a day of witness and unity for the entire Orthodox community of the Tri-State area.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2016

Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2016 

“Thy grace hath risen, O Lord and the illumination of our souls hath shown forth.  Lo, now is the acceptable time; the season of repentance hath come.  Let us cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light, that we may pass the great tempest of fasting and reach the summit of the third day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.”  (from the Aposticha of the Vesper Service for the Evening of Cheese Fare)

We greet you with anticipation as we embark on the Holy Season of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The beautiful verse above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we begin our journey to draw nearer to God so that we may worthily rejoice in His Resurrection.  We are called to “cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light”.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for Forgiveness Sunday

Pastoral Message for Forgiveness Sunday

March 13, 2016

“If you forgive other people few things, few of your own will be forgiven.  If you forgive many things, many of your own will be forgiven.  If you forgive them with sincerity and with your whole heart, God will forgive yours in the same manner.  If after forgiving you make your enemy into your friend, thus will God also be disposed towards you”.

(St. John Chrysostom on Genuine Forgiveness)

We greet you on this holy day of Forgiveness Sunday as we stand on the threshold of the Great Fast and ask one another for forgiveness of our sins.

The beautiful quote above from St. John Chrysostom is a powerful reminder of the importance of forgiveness which helps us to understand why we recite in the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”