"For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matthew 25:35-36
The faithful of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, PA have organized in an effort to identify and locate newcomers who are seeking refuge in the United States, reports the Very Rev. Anthony Sabbagh. "The largest Syrian community in the United States is here in the Allentown area," explains Fr. Anthony. "People in Syria are contacting their relatives to come to the United States in order to escape persecution and poverty; their homes are demolished, their jobs are gone. Their families here can apply for them to come since our government has opened the doors for Syrians, who are now coming to Allentown in numbers."
The Holy Antiochian Synod assembled between the 17th and 20th of June 2013 in the first ordinary session presided over by His Beatitude John X and attended by Their Eminences the Metropolitans George (Mount Lebanon and its dependencies), Elia (Hama and dependencies), Elias (Saida, Tyre and dependencies), Anthony (Mexico, Venezuela and dependencies), Sergios (Chile), Damaskinos (Brazil and dependencies), Saba (Hauran and Arabia), Boulos (Australia), George (Homs and dependencies), Silouan (Argentina), Basilios (Arkadias and dependencies), Efrem (Tripoli, Koura and dependencies).
Apologies for the absence were received from their Eminences Spiridon (Zahle and dependencies), Philip (New York and North America), Constantine (Bagdad, Kuwait and dependencies), Youhanna (Lattakia and dependencies), Elias (Beirut and dependencies) and Metroplitan Paul (Aleppo, Alexandretta and dependencies, who though absent on account of his captivity, attended in spirit through the prayers of the fathers of the Synod and their supplications.
Since the so-called Arab Spring began in Libya in 2011, we have seen the devastation and destruction of that Arab country by Libyan and NATO forces. This Arab Spring has since spread to Tunisia and Egypt, the most populated Arab country. This fire has burned relentlessly in Gaza and all of Palestine since 1948. It is spreading into Jordan, Bahrain, and Iraq and has caused the most devastation in Syria, where many of us have ancestral roots. Unfortunately, the American and European news outlets are not reporting such stories to the world, neither through the written word nor graphic photographs like the ones you see in this sad issue of The WORD magazine. The WORD has been able to obtain these pictures and information from reliable sources. Syria has been most victimized and experienced the most devastation by this seemingly endless war. The WORD believes that the only country that can bring peace to this most explosive region of the world is the United States of America, because America has leverage over Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Europe.
The Antiochian Heritage Museum welcomes two new exhibits this summer! Gracing the center wall of our museum is "Sacred Illuminations," a colorful exhibit inspired by Byzantine and Slavic manuscript design and the Bulgarian heritage of the artist, Tatiana Nikolova-Houston. Inspired by the elaborate and colorful designs of Slavic and Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, as well as the folk art of her native Bulgaria, Nikolova-Houston's artwork is rich in spiritual and cultural tradition. A scholar of religious studies and library science, Tatiana earned both a Master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband and daughter. After discovering little-known fourteenth-century manuscripts deteriorating under poor conditions in a monastery in Sophia, Bulgaria, and thanks to a generous grant from the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Tatiana was able to spend a year there, working to preserve these rare treasures.
The June 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Arab Spring or Tornado?, pg. 3
An editorial by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
Christianity: So Much More than Moral Code, pg. 12
by Daniel M. Manzuk
On Cotton Candy Christianity, pg. 14
by Daniel M. Manzuk
Antiochian Village Tornado Relief Project, pg. 18
by Dianne O'Regan
Praying for the Departed, pg. 36
by Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
One of the great things about watching a very good movie, and being on the edge of your seat for the whole two hours or more, is waiting for the sequel of that great movie to come out the following year, and be even better. Well, that's what we have with our Youth Music Ministry (YMM) Program. As Paul Jabara, our Sacred Music Institute (SMI) Coordinator, said to the potential YMMers this year, "Once again, and back by popular demand, the Sacred Music Institute will be hosting the second Youth Music Ministry Program at the Antiochian Village, being held from July 10–July 14, 2013. We have listened to your suggestions from last year and promise that this year will be even better, with more singing, more fellowship and more chanting!"
St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, is the mother cathedral and seat of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. It is also the first community established by St. Raphael of Brooklyn, North America's first consecrated bishop, founder of The Word magazine, and a great evangelist and teacher who planted twenty-nine parishes before his repose in 1915.
The history of the Archdiocese and of St. Nicholas Cathedral of Brooklyn are one and the same. St. Nicholas Cathedral is the oldest continuous church in the Archdiocese and its only Mother Cathedral. Its long and illustrious history unfolded through the love, devotion and sacrifices of a venerable hierarchy, greatly respected priests and deacons, and holy people of God who have served and continue to serve.
"We invite you to explore the beauty of our historic mother cathedral through this virtual tour (see below) as well as the photos on the Google Plus page," notes Cathedral Dean The Very Rev. Thomas Zain. "The tour and photos were all created by the same professional photographers. Our building dates back to the 1850s, and we have been worshipping there since 1920. Much of the iconography is recent, having been added in the past 15 years."
Your All Holiness and Beatitude, Patriarch of Constantinople - the New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, Most Beloved Brother in Christ our God and our Concelebrant, Kyrios Kyrios Bartholomew.
We embrace you with joy and address your All Holiness with brotherly love, together with the Metropolitans, Bishops and the respectful clergy and the people.
Christ is risen!
I come to you today from Antioch where the followers of our Lord were first called Christians; from Antioch which gathered under her wings men whose faith and stature were acknowledged by all Christians; from Antioch in which the chiefs of the apostles, Peter and Paul, preached, together with St. Ignatius of Antioch, the martyr who enriched the universal Church with his theology rooted in the Gospel of St. John; from Antioch where St. John Chrysostom started his mission and carried a spiritual heritage to Constantinople where some of his relics were brought back to this Church after they were taken away by the Franks; from Antioch in which flourished St. Ephrem and St. Isaac the Syrian who Christianised Syrian thought and left to the world the best of what could be written in spirituality and asceticism.
There is still time for you to register for your diocese's "family reunion" this summer, your regional Parish Life Conference (PLC)! The theme for this year, "The End of History...The Last Judgment," will be the focus of the Creative Festivals, a highlight of the conferences. Youth and organizational meetings, spiritually edifying speakers and services, and social events for kids and adults alike, all make the PLCs one of the Archdiocese's most established and popular traditions. Visit the Conventions and Conference Planning page for full information.
First up is the Diocese of Wichita PLC, kicking off on June 5 in Kansas City. St. Basil Orthodox Church hosts the PLC at the Westin Kansas City Hotel in downtown Kansas City, "one of America's Best downtowns" according to Forbes magazine.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.