Friday, January 20, 2017

Blessing of the Waters in Alaska

Chief of Staff: God put the hunger for freedom in our hearts

"We want to put the concept of religious freedom (our Patriarch, Constantinople, the recognition of the struggle of the Orthodox Church) front and center in this White House."

- Reince Priebus
White House Chief of Staff

(Greek Reporter) - White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Thursday praised the Greek Orthodox community and promised that the issue of religious freedom in Turkey will be a concern of the new U.S. administration.

Priebus spoke on the eve of the inauguration of the 45th U.S. president Donald Trump and accepted an award from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and Archbishop of America Demetrios for the recognition of his services, according to a report.

“The Greek community, the Orthodox community, starting with the Archdiocese, Father Alex, the Patriarchate Archons, my good friend, my uncle and second father John Catsimatides who put me under his wings and said “yes” every time I called him on the phone. This group of people in this room are family. You helped save the Republican Party. All of us here in this room are not here by chance but because God brought us together in this room. Nothing happens if it is not God’s will. Now we must take the opportunity that God has given us to achieve the goals of the new president to make this country great again,” Priebus said.

Referring to the issues of the Patriarchate and religious freedoms, Priebus said: “Religion, Constantinople and the recognition of the difficulties of the Orthodox Church will be a concern in the White House… You longed to see the day that the U.S. President will appear in church in Istanbul. There is only one symbol for the Orthodox Church, but also for people of faith around the world,” according to the report.

The new White House Chief of Staff praised the contribution of the Greek-American community to the victory of Donald Trump. “Some of you may not be Republicans but you helped save the Republican party, to build the Republican National Committee. To (contribute) to a system that elected a man who I believe will be an incredible president. Donald Trump will vow tomorrow not only to save the Republican party, but also to save the country and restore freedom.”

In closing, Priebus talked about his roots and favorite grandfather, Hercules. “I do not think I would be here if it was not for my grandfather. His name was Hercules, and from him I got my name. And he was a man whom I admired more than anyone else in my life. I do not know exactly how all this happened, but for you out there who remember your grandparents for any reason, [I admired him] for anything he did, his notes, papers, routines, I just wanted to be like him. As a child, the man whom I admired the most, my grandfather loved a place from which he came from, and this made me proud that I am an American. And I will never forget that.”

The event was attended by Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information Nikos Pappas and Minister of Defense Panos Kammenos. The two ministers were invited to the official dinner hosted by Archbishop of America Demetrios, on the occasion of the inauguration of the U.S. President.

Also present were Deputy Assistant to the President George Gigicos and Congressman Gus Bilirakis. On behalf of the Greek government, Kammenos donated to the Archbishop a Greek flag from the outpost of Ro and a Greek shield. Kammenos also handed Priebus a copy of the sword of Alexander the Great as a gift to President Trump.

Among the guests were Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and officials of the new Trump Administration, Maroussi Mayor and president of the Athens Medical Association George Patoulis, and prominent members of the Greek American community.

How the Copts see Catholicism

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Upcoming conference on "Psychology in the Service of God"

(SOC-WAD) - Rev. Fr. Vasileios Thermos, M.D., Ph.D. is a priest of the Church of Greece. Together with his priestly ministry in Athens, he is a practicing psychiatrist, and is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Psychology at the University Ecclesiastical Academy in Athens. The author of many books and articles, he has offers spiritually provocative and clinically informed programs and retreats in Greece, the United States, Albania, and Cyprus. His insights into the fields of theology and psychology are combined with a strong undercurrent in psychoanalytic thought.

The Registration Fee & Course Costs are $200 ($25 Registration, $175 Course Materials). All Clergy of the Western American Diocese are required to attend all four days of the Orthodox Institute, as it encompasses the mandatory Annual Lenten Clergy Retreat. The option to register for one or all days of the event will be available during the registration process, but we encourage participants to attend the entire event.

The Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, and the Clergy Brotherhood of the S.O.C., welcome and encourage all Clergy and Laity, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, to attend the Sts. Sebastian and Mardarije Orthodox Institute.

Upon successful completion, and full course participation, participants will receive a Certificate of Achievement from the Institute, recognizing their continuing education in Orthodox theory and practice.​

Blessing of the Waters

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Theophany in London at Holy Transfiguration Cathedral

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

St. Herman Conference sees children from across country

(ROCOR-Chicago) - The annual St. Herman Youth Conference of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America began December 27th, 2016, at a lakeside retreat center just north of Kalmazoo, Michigan. More than forty teenagers, seven clergymen and six chaperones assembled from across the diocese and beyond – from Texas north to Minnesota and from Oklahoma east to Maryland.

The conference set out to focus on “The Orthodox Witness in a Technological World” by examining this theme through a series of talks: Curating the Thoughts You Share (Mat. Ann Lardas), What is Friendship? (Fr. Michael Carney), Science and Orthodoxy (Fr. George Lardas), Cyber Bullying (Fr. Deacon Alexander Petrovsky) and On College, Keeping the Faith, and How I Almost Lost Mine (Misha Moibenko). Each speaker spoke with faith, passion and enthusiasm, along the way sharing a valuable pearl or two from their own experience with the audience. Engaging conversations followed both immediately after each talk and in more informal settings...
Complete article here.

Arc of New Martyrs to tour Russia

St. Petersburg, January 18 (Interfax) - The relics of new martyrs who died for faith after the revolution in Russia will be brought to the dioceses of the Moscow Patriarchate in a special arc.

"The arc will be brought to all dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church," Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga was quoted as saying by the local metropolia.

The arc is now being made, the metropolitan said. It will contain the relics of all new martyrs whose remains have been obtained. The event will be held to mark the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution.

The names of several dozens of people who died for faith in the years after the revolution are now known, and over 1,000 of them have been called new martyrs. Among them are Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna and their five children.

Extending the Liturgy: Redeeming the world

Get your anti-latrocinium picket signs ready

(ARCHONS) - With the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, a symposium is scheduled at the Assumption of the Theotokos Cathedral, Denver, CO, on Saturday, January 28, focusing on the historical, canonical and ecclesiastical significance of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which concluded in June 2016, including a review of the previous seven Ecumenical Councils.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Weeknd, Ge'ez, and the University of Toronto

What a great story.

(The Star) - A language that hasn’t been spoken for more than 1,000 years is being taught this semester at the University of Toronto, a step perhaps towards decoding rarely understood excerpts of history.

The ancient Ethiopic language of Ge’ez is written in a script that’s read left to right and has 26 letters. Letters have variations for the vowels that go with them, meaning students have to learn 26 characters in seven different ways.

The goal of the class, which meets twice a week, is to get students on their way to reading.

Milen Melles, a history major who said her parents immigrated to Canada from Eritrea — which became independent from Ethiopia in the early 1990s after three decades of war — is taking the class as an opportunity to connect with her roots. She one day hopes to study texts from the region at a graduate level.

“This is a huge step for western academia to be exploring African languages, ancient languages, because they usually only study Swahili,” Melles said, noting that African studies often get lumped together at universities, differently than other regions where specific areas or countries are studied independently of one another.

“They treat Africa like a monolith, if they were to have an Ethiopic studies program that would clearly change that whole model of the way that they look at Africa,” said Melles, noting that the Ge'ez language pre-dates Ethiopia as it exists today.

U of T’s Scarborough library is working on digitizing tens of thousands of pages of historical manuscripts written in Ge’ez that hardly anyone can understand.

In its first semester, five undergraduates and five graduate students are enrolled in Holmstedt’s class, with a handful more auditing. He said his students are taking the class for many different reasons, for some it’s a chance to connect with their heritage while for others it’s an effort to unlock ancient bits of history.

Funding for the class started with a $50,000 donation from U of T history professor Michael Gervers, who worked on digitizing manuscripts for the university from the Gunda Gunde monastery in Ethiopia.

Gerver’s donation was later matched by Scarborough’s Abel Tesfaye (better known as Grammy award-winner, the Weeknd) and by the university...
Complete article here.

On modern languages and Syriac in the Assyrian Church

I found this article, entitled "Modern Assyrian Hymns: The Introduction of the Vernacular in the Liturgical Services of the Church of the East," to be quite intriguing. The music and poetry of the Church is built in such a way that it fits hand-in-glove with the language it's written in. Playing on words, matching musical notation to phrases, etc. is hard to translate into another language. Every jurisdiction has its beloved music and some clunkers in English. Phrases in English get squished into the musical notation written for another language, things get moved around and don't make as much sense, and all other sorts of problems doggedly follow the musical translator. What's more, the first or second attempt which tried to make the transition gets seen to be the way to sing the song in English so that later improvements are maligned as playing with a sacred and time-honored bit of hymnography. No Church is immune and no two jurisdictions handle it the same way. Enjoy this bit of scholarly discussion on the topic.

Friday, January 13, 2017

March for Life. I'll be there. You?

Iraq Council of Churches proposed

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean (Catholic) Patriarchate, at the initiative of the Primate Mar Raphael Louis Sako, has launched a formal proposal to Iraq’s Christian Churches to set up an ‘Iraq Council of Churches’.

The proposal was made public today in an official statement released on the Patriarchate’s website and sent to AsiaNews.

“The Council,” the statement says, “is a religious body including Church families of Catholics, Assyrians, Orthodox and Evangelicals in Iraq,” to be headquartered in Baghdad.

The Iraq Council of Churches would “promote the spirit of unity among the different Churches in Iraq, to coordinate the educational and social activities”.

The press release goes on to say that the Council would also “organize prayers meetings, unify the position and its discourse toward national issues, such as social justice, equality and the rights of Christians”.

It would also “activate the dialogue with the Muslim and other religions in order to promote a culture of peace and coexistence.

The Council itself would include two bodies.

The first body would be an Executive Council that included the Chaldean patriarch, the patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, the patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, and the bishop at the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church. It would also include the bishops of the Syriac Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Latin, and Evangelical Churches, as well as representatives from the Coptic, Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches.

The second body would be a General Council, composed of all the heads of Churches and all the bishops of the various Christian Churches.

The statement by Chaldean Patriarchate notes that the “Executive Council meets every three months and the General council meets once a year.” Decisions would be reached on the basis of half+one votes.

Official letters by the Iraq Council of Churches would be signed by the Council president, or, in his absence, by his deputy.

The patriarch of the Chaldean Church would head the council. The patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, the patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, or one of the Churches with the greatest membership would serve as deputy. (This would be discussed in the meeting of the General Council.)

With the Council’s structure so outlined, the leaders of Chaldean Patriarchate are waiting for answers from the leaders of the country’s other Christian denominations.

When all of the Churches give their greenlight, a formal ratification would take place.

At that point, the Council and its status would be submitted for full approval to the Iraqi government, the Kurdistan Regional Government, as well as the international Churches and fora.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Syriac Orthodox working to build seminary in US

Whippany, NJ (SCOOCH) – For nearly a decade, H.E. Mor Titus Yeldho of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church in North America has been working tirelessly to establish a seminary on the premises of the Archdiocesan Headquarters for the education of his clergy and faithful. In the meantime, since 2010, the Archdiocese has convened an annual week-long Deacon’s Camp for the purpose of inculcating the ideals of Christian fraternity and fidelity to the Orthodox Faith and Orthodox practice among the young men who serve on the altars of its churches across the continent, from New York to California and from Saskatchewan to Texas.

In keeping with the vision of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches that each of the member jurisdictions participate regularly in one another’s ecclesiastical life, H.E. Mor Titus and the organizers of this year’s Deacons Camp – which ran from January 1 through January 7 – invited several speakers from the Coptic Orthodox Church to join their own priests and scholars in addressing the camp’s participants on theological and pastoral topics ranging from Making the Gospel Incarnate in North American Culture, to Discipleship & Leadership in Ministry & Spiritual Life to The History and Development of the Syriac Orthodox Liturgy. The participants were also trained in liturgical chant. In addition to H.E. Mor Titus, speakers included: Rev. Fr. Bijo Matthew, Rev. Fr. Joseph Varghese, Rev. Fr. John Rizkalla, Rev. Fr. Faustino Quintanilla, Rev. Fr. Varghese Paul, Rev. Fr. Michael Sorial, Rev. Dn. Shiryl Mathai, Professor Nicholas Siniari, and Dr. Sinu John.

His Eminence Archbishop Titus expressed his happiness that the Archdiocese could do its part “to provide a venue in which its young clergy could pray together, live together, and fellowship together as one body that shares the same values and interest in ordained ministry and the Syriac Orthodox Faith and Tradition”. The Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches strongly supports the idea of theological education by and for Oriental Orthodox Christians, and hopes and prays that it can serve to facilitate the cooperation of the member jurisdictions to this end in the future.