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
Common Statement by Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
On January 30, 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East concluded his five-day visit to Russia, and the following Common Statement with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia was released (translation provided by the Russian Orthodox Church):
At the invitation of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East John X paid his official visit to the Russian Orthodox Church from January 25 to 30, 2014. The Patriarchate of Antioch is going now through difficult times because of the violence committed in its homeland and its tragic consequences of the political crisis for its people. This visit has given the two sister Churches the opportunity to discuss several disturbing issues affecting their witness and ministry. The two Churches feel the need to state the following:
1. The important mission of a Church in a society is to bear witness in word and deed to God's love for each person, regardless of his or her religious belief or national identity. Following the words of Christ "Blessed are peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Mt. 5:9), we proclaim peace and respect for the human dignity and rights. Every human being is an object of Divine Compassion; it is because of God's love that the Incarnation took place and that the Holy Spirit continues to work in our midst. This basic principle inspires the two sister Churches in their actions, service and cooperation.
Let all who love their words come together and honor with hymns the three luminaries of the light-creating Trinity: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and renowned John of golden speech, who have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines, and are mellifluous rivers of wisdom who have watered all creation with streams of divine knowledge; they ever intercede with the Trinity for us.
-Troparion, Tone 1
Thou hast taken the sacred and divinely inspired heralds, the crown of Thy teachers, O Lord, for the enjoyment of Thy blessings and for repose. For Thou hast accepted their sufferings and labors above every burnt offering, O Thou Who alone dost glorify Thy Saints.
-Kontakion, Tone 2
His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East Visits His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
Meetings are underway in Russia between His Beatitude Patriarch John X and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. In addition to the general report below, a joint statement has been issued appealing for peace in Syria.
The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church reports:
On 25 January 2014, at the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in St Daniel's Monastery, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, who is currently visiting the Russian Orthodox Church.
The delegation accompanying His Beatitude Patriarch John X on his visit includes Metropolitan Basilyos of Akkar; Metropolitan Ephrem of Tripoli; Archbishop Niphon of Filippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; archimandrite Philip (Yazegi); archimandrite Parthenius (Allati); archdeacon Gerasimus (Kabbas); and a number of lay people.
Orthodox Christians from around the U.S. and Canada traveled to Washington D.C. on January 22, 2014 for the 41st March for Life, marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in all fifty states. His Grace Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England represented His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian Archdiocese at the March. After the peaceful march and rally, he wrote:
Only our fingers and toes were chilled; yet our hearts were warmed by the fervor of the crowds, which were not frightened away by the extreme cold and snow. It was an honor to stand and march for life with Orthodox hierarchs including Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Archbishop Nathaniel, and Bishops Michael, Melchisedek, and Mark, and Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. It was also a joy to walk with the banners and students from St. Vladimir's and St. Tikhon's Seminaries, and many Orthodox faithful who chanted hymns to the Theotokos as we marched.
Syria! The name itself inspires awe and wonder. Archaeologists have proven that Syria was the cradle of civilization, and where agriculture and trade routes appeared for the first time. Its capital – Damascus – is widely considered to be the world's oldest city. Antioch was also part of early Syria and was invaded by the Roman armies in 64 B.C., making it the third-largest city in the Roman empire. Syria continued to grow and become a major center of trade and industry in the ancient world.
After the ministry, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ, it was in Syria where a young man named Saul (who later took the name Paul) was converted on his way to Damascus. It was in Antioch where St. Paul set off on many of his journeys to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Antioch, "the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:26).
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, the 2014 Mid-Winter Meetings will be hosted by St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, and will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 7-9, 2014. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, the Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO will gather to conduct the business of our Archdiocese organizations. Please contact each individual organization's president for specific questions.
Travel, lodging, and registration information:
- Group rate of $129.00/night at the Holiday Inn Express Scottsdale North
- Conveniently located just 4 miles (10 minute drive) from the church
February 14-17, 2014
With Fr. Demetrios Makoul, dean of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Cathedral of St. George in Pittsburgh and licensed professional counselor
- Enjoy time with each other during this special weekend designed to give healthy married couples assistance in becoming "one"
- Attend to your marriage away from the distractions and "busy-ness" of daily life
Desire, Scripture, and Change: Reading the Bible in the Orthodox Tradition, pg. 4
by Fr. John Oliver
Love Your Enemies, pg. 10
by Fr. Andrew Harmon
World Council of Churches Statement, pg. 14
Reflecting on Reflections, pg. 19
by Fr. Joseph Allen, Th.D.
Help the Orphans of War in Syria, pg. 24
by Dianne O'Regan
On Faith, pg. 34
by G. Philip Sayegh
From Thursday evening, February 20 through Sunday February 23, St. Luke Orthodox Church in Garden Grove, CA will host the 2014 West Coast Sacred Music Institute. Twice each year, the Department of Sacred Music offers the Institute for church musicians to learn new pieces, and to sharpen their skills. The theme of the 2014 Institute is "The Passion of Christ: A Journey Through Holy Week."
The Institute is for all Church Singers, adults & teens, choir and chanters! What can be gained?
• An greater understanding of the theology and hymnography of Great Lent
• Learn new music, sharpen technique & vocal quality
• Enjoy worship and fellowship with Orthodox church musicians from across North America, all sharing the most important common thread
• Attend spellbinding presentations and sessions
• Participate in a concert showcasing the music learned for Holy Week during the Institute
View the schedule or download the registration form. For more information, contact Chris Farha at (316) 807-3286.
Memory Eternal! Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God Dr. George J. Farha of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS, immediate past Vice Chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board of Trustees and the Antiochian Heritage Foundation's "Man of the Year" for 2013. Dr. Farha quietly fell asleep in Christ surrounded by his family at his home, shortly before nine o'clock on January 7, 2013.
Condolences may be sent to his wife Brenda and their daughters Gayle (Mrs. Douglas) Malone, Joan (Mrs. David) Farha, Laura Farha, and Julie Farha and their families at:
1517 North Foliage Court
Wichita, KS 67206
The schedule of divine services, all to be served at St. George Cathedral, is as follows:
- Friday, January 10th Trisagion Prayers of Mercy at 7:00PM
- Saturday, January 11th Trisagion Prayers of Mercy and Funeral at 10:00AM followed by Interment and Meal of Mercy
A seasoned teacher and scholar, Dr. James Taylor is a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Topeka, Kansas. As founder of the St. Raphael Orthodox Online School, he has created a program of classical studies for elementary, middle, and high school students. In his career Dr. Taylor has taught in a variety of parochial schools and preparatory academies, including St. Marys Academy in Kansas, Wichita Collegiate School, and Topeka Collegiate School. For five years he was assistant then associate professor of the Education Department at Hillsdale College, Michigan, and later he served at the University of Tulsa, also in the department of education where his specialties were philosophy of education in the graduate school, and Children's Literature classes for elementary and middle school future teachers. Antiochian.org asked Dr. Taylor about his new enterprise and his thoughts on education in the context of his Orthodox faith.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to start this school.
While still in high school, I was drawn to the poetry of the past and the culture that informed the art, philosophy, religion and music of these eras, including the modern era. Once out of high school, I realized quite soon that to maintain these interests there was hardly any other place for me to fit in than as a high school or college teacher.
With the mercy of God Almighty
Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
My brothers, pastors of the Holy Antiochian Church
And my sons and daughters wherever they are in the parts of this Apostolic See
“As Thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, Thou hast sent unto us Thine Angel of great counsel, granting us peace. So are we guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, and watching by night we glorify Thee, O Lover of mankind”
With these words, beloved, the hymnographer described the great event of Nativity. With these words, Kosmas the Melodist, son of this east, surpassed ages and times to tell about what he might chant and ask concerning the Nativity of the Lord Christ, messenger of love and spring of peace.
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!
The Antiochian Archdiocese wishes a holy and blessed Great Feast of the Nativity to all!
Archpriest Thomas Zain writes on December 23, 2013:
Beloved in Christ: It is with great joy that we present to you our updated online liturgics guide containing the Service Texts of the weekend services for parish use. The new order for publishing Great Vespers, Litia-Artoklasia, Orthros and Divine Liturgy Variables commences January 5, 2014. Like before, the Antiochian Archdiocese will offer word-for-word compilations of these services, as well as "abbreviated rubrics." The Service Texts will be posted in Rich Text Format (RTF) that can be used in any word-processing software for making booklets, as well as the traditional Portable Document Format (PDF).
Last spring, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip appointed me to chair a new Committee on Liturgics to bring together the various people in the archdiocese who were doing this work in their respective dioceses so that we might pool our talents in order to present a unified set of liturgical notes for our one archdiocese.
In 1972, at the Archdiocese Convention in Los Angeles, California, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip stated, "We must realize once and for all that women have a definite ministry in the life of the Church. Very often we have the tendency to confine women's role to the kitchen. Both the Old and New Testaments testify beyond doubt to the important role which women played in the history of salvation. Time does not permit me to speak in detail about Ruth, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael, the Virgin Mary, the Ointment-Bearers, the Deaconesses and many others who ministered to the church and Christ. I propose, therefore, that a NATIONAL SISTERHOOD OF CHARITY be organized in the Archdiocese."
In an obscure corner of what is now Alaska, on an Aleutian island called Spruce, a monk labored from the late 1700’s until his repose in 1837. Braving subzero temperatures, plagues and storms, ill treatment from fellow Russians who resented and misunderstood him, St. Herman lived a life marked by astonishing ascetic labor that gave birth to a deep love and concern for all with whom he came in contact. Strangely, despite the miracles associated with him not only throughout his life but also, after his death, he was all but forgotten after he reposed.
"Thirty years will pass after my death, all those who live now on Spruce Island will be dead, you alone will remain alive, and you will be old and poor; then they will remember me," Father Herman said to his Aleut follower, Ignatius Aliaga. As with other prophecies of the saint, this one too was fulfilled, as in 1867, Bishop Peter of Alaska began a formal investigation into his life. It wasn’t until 1894 that his story became known to the outside world, and then his glorification waited another 76 years, until August 9, 1970.
December 7, 2013
The President and Mrs. Obama; The White House; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; Washington D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama,
Greetings and best wishes to you and to your two precious daughters in the spirit of this Holy Christmas season. I was honored to receive your invitation to attend a White House holiday reception on Friday, December 6th, 2013.
I remember fondly my attendance at the White House reception two years ago. The photograph which we took together on that auspicious occasion continues to adorn my office. Unfortunately Mr. President, I did not attend your holiday reception this year because while I do have the joy of Christmas, I do not have the peace of Christmas. This is the peace which the angels proclaimed on that Holy Night "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14). Although I am Lebanese by birth and a proud American citizen for the past fifty-seven years, I received my secondary education in the cities of Homs and Damascus, Syria.
The December 2013 issue includes the following articles:
St. Stephen's Course for the Residency Program, pg. 4
by Archdeacon Peter N. Boulukos
Antiochian Women Celebrate 40th Anniversary, pg. 8
by Violet K. Robbat, President
Bishop Anthony Addresses Priests at 9th Annual Synaxis, pg. 10
Metropolitan Philip Welcomes Seminarians to Dinner, pg. 12
The Missionary Character of Preaching in American Orthodoxy Today: An Interview with the Late Fr. Peter Gillquist, pg. 16
by Daniel Miles, Ph.D.
Special Olympics - Different Abilities, pg. 34
by Leilah A. Rodriguez-Anter
Anna besought the Lord in fervent prayer for a child. The voice of the angel proclaimed to her: God has granted you the desire of your prayer. Do not weep, for you shall be a fruitful vine, bearing the wondrous branch of the Virgin who will bring forth in the flesh the blossom Christ, Who grants great mercy to the world.
Today the great mystery of all eternity, whose depths angels and men cannot perceive, appears in the barren womb of Anna. Mary, the Maiden of God, is prepared to be the dwelling place of the eternal King Who will renew human nature. Let us entreat her with a pure heart and say: Intercede for us with your Son and God that our souls may be saved.
--Vespers of the Feast