Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Violence meets Serbian pilgrims in Kosovo

BELGRADE (inSerbia) – Road blocks, savage orgies of Albanians, shouts of hatred and threats of burning, rocks, tear gas and an attack on the car of the deputy director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Dusan Kozarev – marked the attempts by Serbs in several towns in Kosovo and Metohija to mark the religious holiday of Assumption.

“Albanians’ insanity”, as some of the eye witnesses described the daylong outbursts of extremism, once again showed how volatile is the situation in Kosovo, where Serbs are unsafe and international community powerless, writes Serbian daily “Vecernje Novosti”.

Tensions that have been raised in the southern Serbian province since morning, at one point threatened to explode in a mass clash between Albanian protesters and police, who tried to protect the convoy of buses and cars with displaced Serbs from Musutiste, near Suva Reka.

At the entrance to the village the convoy was awaited by several hundred Albanians, who shouted slogans of KLA (UCK – Kosovo Liberation Army), cursed and threatened Serbs they will be burned together with their sanctities, and bikers sped through the streets carrying Albanian flags.

Among the protesters and policemen there were dozens injured, and after four hours of waiting to be allowed passage to the Church of the Virgin in Musutiste, Serbs went to the monastery near the village of Zociste.

Incidents also marked the attempt of displaced Serbs to attend the liturgy in the Church of Dorminition of the Virgin in Djakovica. Gathered Albanians stoned the vehicle of Kozarev, who said that in recent time in the region occur many extremist elements, who rattle weapons and want to return to the dark past.

“This a proven recipe for intimidating Serbs and prevention of a massive return of displaced and expelled Serbs to Kosovo and Metohija. But, Serbs will not give up,” said the minister for the return in Kosovo government Dalibor Jevtic.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The GOA Clergy-Laity 2016: Holy and Great Council

The tone and content of Dn. John Chryssavgis lecture on the fruits and difficulties of the Crete event (starting around 12:30) are not what I would call conciliatory. In fact he highlights divisions and often comes across as condescending of his detractors. This won't convince many people to his side and might well enrage more than a few people.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Serbian hierarch to be enthroned in Pittsburgh

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Progress in Egypt on battle to treat Christians fairly

(Christian Today) - Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church has reached agreement with the government over a draft law on building and restoring churches.

The Church had been at loggerheads with the government over the new legislation, which it had a hand in drafting but which the government had sought to amend. It wanted the final say on church construction to be held by the security services, which the Church said were biased against Christians. The Church feared that its priests would continue to face obstructions even to minor repairs of the kind they had endured for many years.

However, according to AhramOnline, following a meeting of 105 of its bishops yesterday and discussions with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismael, the Church says it now sees eye to eye with the government on the matter.

"Following amendments introduced recently and answers provided to [our] questions and inquires... the Holy Synod announces, in good faith, reaching a compromise formula [of the law] with government representatives," it said in a statement earlier today.

The law will got to the cabinet for approval and then be referred to the parliament for ratification.

Egypt's Coptic Christians make up more than 10 per cent of the country's 90 million population, but have suffered institutionalised discrimination and hostililty. Attacks by mobs on Coptic churches are common and it can take years to obtain permits to rebuild or repair them.

Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II had said that successive governments have adopted "crippling" conditions for church construction, but said he hopes the new law will streamline the process and cut bureaucracy.

Many churches were destroyed in riots following the 2013 uprising against Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. The government is restoring them at its own expense.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The heresy of the "Social Gospel"

Editorial Note: I want to thank everyone for chiming in on this article. I'm aware it's of controversial origins and content. What I had hoped to highlight was both the seemingly credible look of the website (well put together, official sounding name, etc.) and the material itself, which while not without its problems does bring up valid points. Please do continue to discuss the website's merits. It was not, until very recently, a website I was familiar with at all.

(Orthodox Australia) - This heresy was well captured and presented in the writings of Blessed Seraphim Rose and Herman Podmoshenski of Platina Monastery, the spiritual offspring of the Elders from Optina monastery. As some may know, but perhaps most have not learned yet, parts of the written work of these two saintly fathers were censored, books published were edited in later editions, paragraphs removed, not to mention the fierce battle to discredit them both, the suspicious death at only 47 years of Father Seraphim after a very short and sudden affliction, the slanderous accusations against Father Herman that were not proven in court etc. After all it is only to be expected that they had to suffer for the truth just like their predecessors, and i would like to mention here the numerous false accusations their spiritual Father Saint John Maximovic had to endure as well. After all, false accusations is what Christ had to endure Himself, and since the servant is never greater than the Master, all those in the truth must expect them.

One of the most important works of these two Fathers, and one of the least known for the obvious reasons was the “Orthodox Survival Course” which was only published in recent years on the above mentioned website.

For a number of years, in the 70s, during summer, many pilgrims would come from around the world to hear and see what the news of started to spread quickly. This course that was being held at the Platina Monastery was drawing in many pilgrims, and thousands converted to Orthodoxy just by understanding the truth being presented to them. Many were also ordained priests.

Based on this hidden treasure and some of the letters of these fathers that had also not been known to the world for the same reasons, the Orthodox mission Orthodox Australia tried to put together this spiritual heritage with recent events and developments in the social and political realms in the world in an attempt to bring to light a world view that would make sense in an Orthodox context .

I will try to outline some of the main ideas.

The heresy of “Social Gospel” is mainly based on the premise that the mission of the Church is not mainly to preach to the world the kingdom of God that is to come, but to become an active participant in the effort to make the world a “better place”, a place where all poverty, lawlessness, injustice, disease, suffering, etc are eradicated and the humanity can, finally, get to live in a world rid of all these afflictions, in other words the sort of “paradise on Earth”, achieving the very same goals of the utopic humanist ideologies and ideals...
Complete article here.

On punishing ignorance

St. Vlad's graduate Jesse Brandow pens Spanish prayer book

(SVOTS) - Looking for a Spanish prayer book? Jesse Brandow (SVOTS '13) recently finished one while working as a missionary in Guatemala. Available here (PDF).

Holy Virgin Protection Skete in NJ damaged by car collision

(Holy Virgin Protection Skete) - Dear brothers and sisters! In the Holy Virgin Protection Skete there had occurred a tragic accident. One car collided with another car on the road and as the result of the collision, the car flew and hit our church building. Dear brothers and sisters, the Holy Virgin Protection Skete needs your help! Please provide all possible assistance and participate in the repair of the Temple of God!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

On the recent innovation of the Theotokos Burial Service

(Melkite-Newton) - An increasing number of Byzantine churches are observing the Feast of the Dormition by conducting the Burial Service of the Theotokos. This observance comes to us from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the traditional site of her death and burial.

On the morning of August 14 a procession sets out from the Patriarchate, bearing the icon of the Dormition. They leave the Old City and cross the Kedron Valley, arriving at Gethsemane and the tomb of the Theotokos. There the people, passing beneath the icon, enter the church where the burial shroud of the Theotokos has been displayed for veneration. On the closing of the feast, August 23, another procession returns the icon and the shroud to the Patriarchate.


We do not know when the site of the Virgin’s tomb in Gethsemane, at the foot of Mount Olivet, became a place of Christian devotion. Some say that the first church there had been built by St Helena in the fourth century. There was clearly a church there in the fifth century. It is well documented that the first Patriarch of Jerusalem, St Juvenal, had taken the veil of the Theotokos from this shrine and sent it to the Empress Pulcheria who had asked him for the Virgin’s “relics” after the Council of Chalcedon (451). The patriarch replied, “Three days after her repose, the body of the Holy Virgin was raised up to heaven, and the Tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane bears only her Veil.” The patriarch then sent this relic to Constantinople where it was then enshrined in the church of the Theotokos at Blachernae, a district of Constantinople.

A church was built at the site of the virgin’s tomb in 582 by the Byzantine Emperor Maurice. Thus church was destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614 but rebuilt soon afterward. During the Crusades it was destroyed again, leaving only the crypt – the actual place of the tomb – and the steps descending to it. Today the crypt-church is served jointly by the Greek Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarchate. The church also contains chapels used by the Coptic and Syriac Orthodox.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

For all you incoming seminarians

For all you men headed to seminary. This sort of thing is a distinct classroom possibility. Good strength to you all!

Why Teachers Weep

Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and, gathering them around him, he taught them saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are you who thirst for justice. Blessed are you who are persecuted. Blessed are the peacemakers..."

Then Simon Peter said, “Do we have to write this down?"

And Philip said, "Will this be on the test?"

And John said, "Could you repeat everything you just said?"

And Andrew said, "But John the Baptist does not make his disciples learn all this stuff!"

And Matthew said, "Huh?"

And Judas said, "What does this have to do with real life?"

Then one of the Pharisees, who was an expert in the law, said, "I don't see any of this in your syllabus. Do you have a unit plan? Is there a summary? Where are the student hand-outs? Will there be any follow-up assignments? Is this thematic? How will you assess this?"

And Thomas, who had missed the sermon, came to Jesus privately said, "Did we do anything important yesterday?"

And Jesus wept.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts

(NPR) - Surrounded by shouting, he's completely silent.

The child is small, alone, covered in blood and dust, dropped in the back of an ambulance with his feet dangling off the edge of a too-big chair.

He doesn't cry or speak. His face is stunned and dazed, but not surprised. He wipes his hand over his wounded face, looks at the blood, wipes it off on the chair.

And he stares.

The world is staring back...
Complete article here.

++++++++++++ A Prayer for Peace in Syria ++++++++++++

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the King of Peace, I call for:

Archangel Michael, who is in charged with divine dispensation to run the affairs of mankind to act according to the mind of Christ. We ask you, Lord of angels, to focus your spiritual presence in Damascus, Marja Square and control the fate of Syria.

We ask you, Lord of angels: liberation of the prisoners, binding the snipers, expelling the strangers, disabling cars with bombs, and consume all corrupted men in the land. Bind and consume all forces of evil and all demonic forces of darkness that operate in Syria and undermine the innocent sons and daughters of God.

Archangel Michael, free by your power the Syrian people from the currents of fear, anger and despair, in order to be able to achieve a better future for them. Help them to accept that they can have the ability to govern and direct their fate according to the will of God. Destroy and burn all past records that refer to the misuse of power by the people, in order to embrace a better future of peace and do constructive works. Help them to take a free choice between the consciousness of death and consciousness of life.

Archangel Michael: Preserve the unity of Syria, or it will fall and be divided. (3 times)

O Mary, mother of Jesus: Send the Light of your Love to the hearts of all the Syrians, in order to love each other. (3 times)

Amen. Grant O Lord our prayers and supplications.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Old Ritualists in photos

The rise of ecumenism in our seminaries

New effort to stop throttling of church construction in Egypt

If you've followed this story (really the story of all of the Muslim countries that don't ban construction outright) you know that requests to build churches in Egypt often sit in local government offices for years. In frustration Christians will build churches or rent space for worship anyway only to have the buildings torn down or shuttered. This is a united Christian effort to demand a real timeline on government response to new church construction requests.

Cairo (All Africa) - Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical leaders have signed a bill approving church construction and restoration in the country.

Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Magdi al-Agati said August 11 that Egypt's Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical leaders signed the bill in front of Bishop Paula of Tanta, Head of the Coptic Orthodox Council for Marital Affairs.

"The law sets a four-month deadline for governors to respond to any request for a license to build a church," Agati said in a press statement.

He added that the bill would be discussed within the week during a cabinet meeting before it is submitted to the State Council and then to parliament for final approval.

The country follows the Islamic Law of Classical Islam back from the era of the Ottoman Empire in 1856 that made it difficult for Egyptian Christians to build their own church buildings.

Former Interior Minister Mohamed Ezaby Pasha also made the situation worse in 1934 by adding 10 more conditions in order to grant building permits for churches.

The signing of the law also came just after Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, the 63-year-old leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, met with members of parliament last month.

"We will not accept the control of a particular party over the construction of churches in Egypt, and the current law had been in force since the era of the Ottoman Empire," the Coptic Pope told the lawmakers.

Memory eternal Khalid Jabara!

(St. Anthony Tulsa) - Friday night, tragedy struck as Khalid Jabara, a member of St. Antony Orthodox Christian Church, was gunned down outside of his parents’ home in Tulsa.

As the news coverage continues about Khalid, those of us at St. Antony will always remember the young man who grew up in our parish. Khalid had a huge heart and loved his parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. He was kind, funny, bright and caring; everyone who knew him was truly the better for it.

The entire St. Antony family mourns with the Jabara family and feels the loss of Khalid. May the love and compassion of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ along with the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos and all the saints bring their family peace and comfort and may the memory of Khalid truly be eternal.
And also...
(Tulsa World) - Less than three months before a 37-year-old man was shot on his front porch Friday evening, Tulsa County prosecutors deemed the man suspected of killing him “a substantial risk to the public.”

Prosecutors had attempted to keep 61-year-old Stanley Vernon Majors in jail while he awaited trial on an assault charge alleging that he drove his vehicle into Haifa Jabara in September, but he was granted bond and released in May.

Court records show a history of conflict between Majors and the family of his next-door neighbor, Jabara, who was granted a protective order against him in November 2013 after telling a Tulsa County judge that he had harassed her and “is very racist towards foreigners and blacks.”

Majors was prohibited from going near Jabara or her home or possessing firearms for the next five years. But now, within three years, he is accused of fatally shooting her son, Khalid Jabara, at the family’s south Tulsa home.

Majors, who also uses his middle name, Vernon, as a first name, had been ordered to remain 300 yards away from Haifa Jabara and her home. He was prohibited from having any contact with her and from possessing firearms until November 2018.

Majors was charged with violating Haifa Jabara’s protective order in March 2015 after she told police he had yelled racial slurs at her in her driveway and threatened to kill her.

While arresting Majors, officers asked him multiple times to put down his beer, and he “chugged his beer before he put it down,” according to an arrest report.

Majors was charged with misdemeanor counts of violating the protective order and obstructing an officer, and he posted bond and was released from jail. His trial in that case is set for Oct. 3.

Last Sept. 12, prosecutors say Majors hit Haifa Jabara with a car in the 8700 block of East 95th Street and then left even though she had a broken shoulder and other injuries.

He was charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of a collision involving injury, violating a protective order and public intoxication.