Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Patriarch Kirill proposes receiving some relics from the Copts

MOSCOW, May 23 (TASS) - Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I has issued a proposal to the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II, to organize 'translation' (delivery) of the relics of Egyptian fathers of the Orthodox Church to Russia.

He made the proposal on Tuesday as he received Tawadros II in the official patriarchal residence in St Daniel's monastery in Moscow.

"An idea appeared upon the outcome of a trip to Egypt by a group of our monks to issue a request to you for authorizing delivery to Moscow of the relics the founding fathers of our shared monastic tradition," Kirill I said. "This would ignite huge spiritual enthusiasm in people and strengthen our bonds further. Nothing else unites people as tightly as common saints.

He invited Coptic Christians to visit the shrines of the Russian Orthodox Church. "We are looking forward to the arrival of your delegation and we'll show them our monasteries and our monastic life," he said. "On our part, two periods of time are the most accepable from June 16 through to June 22 and from August 20 through to August 26."
Tawadros II accepted the inviation from Moscow Patriarchate gladly.

"We're glad the Russian delegation has visited Egypt, and we'll send an Egyptian delegation to Russia next month," he said.

The two Patriarchs also discussed a range of pressing bilateral issues, including the struggle with terrorism. According to Kirill I, the root-cause of the problem is found in the renunciation of faith by contemporary Western society something that the preachers of Islamic fundamentalism make a ploy of.

Two ROCOR priests defrocked, accused of human trafficking

Sargodha, Pakistan (OCP) - His Beatitude Metropolitan Hilarion (First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Outside Russia) has defrocked two Priests in Pakistan for canonical violations and pastoral disobedience. The two Priests are Cyril Amer and Anthony Shamoon.

The two Priests are Cyril Amer and Anthony Shamaoon. They are involved in several criminal activities including human trafficking.

All believers are hereby advised not to engage with Cyril Amer or Anthony Shamoon in any manner. Believers are also advised not to fund any of their activities in Pakistan or elsewhere. Please be advised that Cyril Amer and his friends are still using the name of ROCOR to raise funds for their illegal activities. All faithful are advised to exercise high caution.
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fr. Gregory Hallam on the Manchester concert paedocide

From Manchester resident Fr. Gregory Hallam's blog Antioch Abouna, a post entitled "Rolling back the darkness."

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I must comment on those terrible events that unfolded last night in the great city of Manchester, when the terrorists struck again on our soil.

This time they targeted defenceless and innocent young people, some with friends and some in family groups, attending a pop concert in the Manchester Arena in the centre of the city. As I speak to you on the day after, there are currently 22 fatalities and 59 people injured, many of them critically. One of the children killed was merely eight years old. Our prayers go out to the grieving families of those who have lost loved ones and also to those who are suffering from grievous wounds in various hospitals around the city.

IS/Daesh has claimed responsibility for this despicable and cowardly action but that cult of death often tries to promote itself on the back of such attacks for propaganda purposes, so we must resist jumping to conclusions before the evidence is assembled and assessed. Nonetheless, the authorities have confirmed this was indeed a terrorist attack, an improvised explosive device being detonated by a suicide bomber in the foyer of the Arena; timed to inflict maximum casualties at the end of the concert when thousands of young people would be leaving. The police know the identity of this mass murderer but are not releasing it for the time being. This is in part due to the ongoing local and national investigation which looks likely to reveal co-conspirators and terrorist cells. The attack took place just 8 miles from the church that I serve in the suburbs. This morning, just 3 miles away from St Aidan’s, the police raided two houses and there was a controlled explosion at one of them. No further details are available as of this time, but this story is unfolding so rapidly, so by the time you hear this I am sure that much more will be known.

As an Orthodox Christian priest, and together with my parish community in this great city of Manchester, I am trying to think and pray through an appropriate and balanced Christian response to such a tragedy, including how we should handle such terrorist threats and realities into the future. First and in this regard, all of us here in Manchester have already been inspired by the flawless response of the emergency services and the spirit of Manchester people who have rallied round to support those directly affected by this terrorist outrage. The solidarity of the people of Manchester, and indeed of other communities similarly affected in Britain and elsewhere, is an outstanding inspiration and example to all those peoples of any religion and background who are threatened by this evil culture of death, right across the world.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump, first sitting president to visit Church of the Anastasis

(Haaretz) - Other American presidents have visited the Old City of Jerusalem, which was conquered by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, but not while they were serving in this capacity.

Breaking longstanding tradition, Donald Trump became the first sitting American president to ever visit the Old City of Jerusalem. Trump’s visit to the Holy Sepulchre preceded his visit the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

Trump visited two major religious sites in the Old City on Monday afternoon, during the first few hours of his visit to Israel. His first stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christianity’s holiest sites. The church, one of the most visited sites in in the country, is believed by Christians to be the place where Jesus was buried and then resurrected. In doing so, he became the first sitting president to visit a Christian holy site before a Jewish holy site while visiting Israel.

Trump and his wife Melania spent about an hour at the Old City church before making their way to the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites. The Western Wall is a remnant of the Second Jewish Temple built by King Herod. The U.S. administration denied a request that Trump be accompanied on his visit to the Western Wall by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Other American presidents have visited the Old City of Jerusalem, which was conquered by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, but not while they were serving in this capacity. Barack Obama, for example, visited while he was still a senator running for president but not during his two-term presidency.

Because the Old City was captured during the Six Day War, it is not considered by most of the world to be Israeli territory, which is why most sitting presidents until now have avoided visiting the area.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow envisions a united Christendom

Moscow, May 22 (Interfax) - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes Christians of different confessions will unite in the future.

"Today we are still divided as theological problems rooted in the ancient times don't give us a possibility to unite," the patriarch said on Sunday at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior after the service at the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker first time in history delivered from Italy.

The primate said that the Christians could unite "not thanks to their efforts or some church diplomatic steps or theological agreements, but only if the Holy Spirit again unites all who confess the name of Christ."

"We believe that St. Nicholas who listens to the prayers of Christians in the East and in the West stands before the Lord and among others requests asks Him to unite Churches together," he said.

"May the Lord save and help Christians of the West and of the East in going through difficult historic ways," the patriarch said.

The Great Schism of the Churches for the Roman Catholic with center in Rome and Orthodox in the East with center in Constantinople took place in 1054. The schism has not been overcome yet.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bishop Athanasius of Kismu continues trip through the US

If you've been following Bishop Athanasius (Akunda) of Kismu lately, you know he has been touring the US recently. Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu oversees approximately 300 parishes, with 115 priests, 1 medical clinic with three more to open, 5 high schools, 8 primary schools, a monastery dedicated to St. Anthony (under construction) and many other ministries. His Diocese encompasses a very large geographical area bordering Lake Victoria, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda and includes regions such as Turkana, where much missionary work is taking place. Here's a wonderful story from one of his visits to a parish along the way. The below from Christ the Savior Orthodox Church in Rockford, IL.

Nina Strapko speaking in Swahili with His Grace Bishop Athanasius. We have some parishioners who as children were forced to live in camps in Siberia during WWII. The Polish Army liberated their camp and they spent 5 or more years living in a colony in Africa where Nina once spoke Swahili fluently as a child. Lord have mercy, Christ is Risen!

St. Mardarije (Uskokovich) of Libertyville relics opened

(SOC-NASA) - With the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America, the relics of St. Mardarije, which have laid in the Church of St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois, since his internment in December 1935, were uncovered. The opening revealed St. Mardarije’s holy relics to be incorrupt.

On Thursday, May 4, 2017, His Grace Bishop Longin served Divine Liturgy at St. Sava Monastery with Sindjel Serafim (Milojkovic), Priest Nikolaj Kostur and Hierodeacon Nektarije (Tesanovic), in preparation for uncovering the relics. Following the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Longin and the other clergy served a Moleban with the Akathist written to St. Mardarije. Upon completion, the crew organized to remove the tombstone and flooring in order to exhume the relics arrived, under the guidance of Mr. Dusan Djordjevic of Sveta Gora Funeral Home in Chicago. After removal of the stone, it was revealed that the casket of St. Mardarije was in a cement vault. This caused the opening to be delayed one additional day in order to organize a team to open the vault.

On Friday morning, May 5, 2017, the workers broke the seal of the vault, while Priest Nikolaj Kostur and Heirodeacon Nektarije (Tesanovic) served a Moleban to St. Mardarije at the tomb in the presence of Bishop Longin and Hieromonk Serafim (Milojkovic). Throughout the entire process of exhumation, “Christ is Risen” and other Paschal hymns were sung, both in Serbian and Russian tones, knowing St. Mardarije’s deep love and dedication to both Slavic traditions.

Once the seal of the vault was broken, every effort was taken to lift the cover. During this process, the cover of the vault shifted and fell on the casket, breaking its cover. At this moment, a sweet smelling fragrance arose from the tomb, quickly dissipating. However, it became evident that the Saint was buried facing the west instead of east. This in and of itself is miraculous. It manifested the Providence of God. Had St. Mardarije been buried in the proper direction, the vault cover would have fallen on the side of the casket where his holy head rested. It was visible that his feet had decayed and were bones.

Frs. Serafim and Nikolaj lifted the relics out of the tomb during the singing of “Christ is Risen.” The relics were light in weight and easily placed in a temporary metal coffin. Hereupon the feet were examined, which at this point were the only visible part of the remains. The bones of the feet were goldish-yellow in color. Then, Fr. Nikolaj Kostur proceeded to examine the mid-section of the body. St. Mardarije's Holy hands were holding the cross which was firmly in place and immovable. As Fr. Nikolaj pulled back the sleeve of the saccos, it was revealed that the hands of St. Mardarije were completely intact. Clearly visible were his skin, fingernails and hair. At this point, it was evident that the relics were more than just bones.

Relics of St. Nicholas arrive in Russia

Leaving Italy

Arriving at airport

(Nikola 2017) - From 21 may to 28 July 2017 will be bringing in the Russia of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker stored in the Basilica of Bari (Italy). This is a unique event: for 930 years honest relics of St. Nicholas in Bari they have never left the city. Saint Nicholas is one of the most revered saints in all of Christendom. Every year hundreds of believers of the Moscow Patriarchate visited Bari to venerate the honourable relics of the great Saint of God. However, for the majority of Orthodox Russia pilgrimage are far too difficult.

The agreement on the transfer of part of the relics of St. Nicholas was reached at the historic meeting of Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill with Pope Francis February 12, 2016.
The press service of Church events is now accepting applications to cover the events related to the stay of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Moscow. The relic will be brought to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour to the beginning of the evening service on may 21, 2017, on the eve of day of memory of St. Nicholas.

Vigil and meeting of the relics on may 21 at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, headed by his Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill. The beginning of the worship service at 17.00.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Proposed Ukrainian bills prompt summons to Vatican

(Sputnik News) - In an unprecedented sign of inter-faith solidarity, Ukraine's Ambassador to the Vatican has been summoned by Pope Francis over a new bill by Ukrainian lawmakers which would impose discriminatory restrictions against the Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

On Thursday, Ukrainian lawmakers delayed voting on two bills which would impose severe restrictions on the Moscow Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a major religious organization accounting for half of Ukraine's total Eastern Orthodox parishes, churches and communities, with over 11,500 parishes and monasteries and representation in every region of the country.

Lawmakers' proposals included assigning a "special status" for religious organizations whose leadership was based in an "aggressor state," the term used by Kiev to describe Russia. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church's Moscow Patriarchate is the major target of the legislation.

The proposed bills see the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches under the Moscow Patriarchate as a possible threat to the country's 'national interests, sovereignty, and territorial integrity', and thus requiring special control by the government, including the power to approve church appointees, confiscate property, or even ban churches outright.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, appealed to foreign political and religious leaders, including Pope Francis, to convince Kiev not to go forward with the bills, which he said would be an unheard-of level of religious discrimination for modern-day Europe. Kirill warned that if the bills were approved, they would "threaten the constitutional rights of millions of Ukrainian believers" and "escalate intercommunal conflict in Ukraine."

The Vatican responded to Kirill's plea. Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, Cleric of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, confirmed that the Ukrainian Ambassador to the Vatican had been summoned in connection with the draft legislation.

"The Vatican is concerned about the possibility of adopting bills 4,128 and 4,511 [the bills proposing restrictions against the work of the Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church]. Our Ambassador to the Vatican has been summoned. The Vatican fully agrees with the position expressed by Roman Catholic Bishop Stanislav Shirokoradyuk on this subject," Danilevich explained in a post his Facebook page.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cardinal: consecrate Russia to "Immaculate Heart of Mary"

The whole idea is a little tone deaf. Besides the obvious impediment to such "Immaculate Heart" imagery, the Russian Church - I am sure - would not make Rome happy if it chose to dedicate Italy to Mark of Ephesus. This is the sort of stuff that has every step towards mutual understanding followed by two steps back in skepticism.

ROME, May 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke issued a call this morning for the Catholic faithful to “work for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Cardinal Burke, who is one of the four Cardinals who have asked Pope Francis for a clarification of Amoris Laetitia, made his appeal at the Rome Life Forum, in the month of the centenary of Our Lady of Fatima’s first apparition to the three shepherd children.

Burke is the former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and current Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

In a comprehensive address on “The Secret of Fatima and a New Evangelization,” Cardinal Burke, in the presence of fellow dubia Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, outspoken Kazakhstan Bishop Athanasius Schneider and over 100 life and family leaders from 20 nations, said that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart would mean much more than the ending of world wars, and the physical calamities that Our Lady of Fatima predicted.

“As horrible as are the physical chastisements associated with man’s disobedient rebellion before God, infinitely more horrible are the spiritual chastisements for they have to do with the fruit of grievous sin: eternal death,” he said.

He expressed agreement with one of the foremost Fatima scholars, Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, who said that the promised triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary undoubtedly refers firstly to “the victory of the Faith, which will put an end to the time of apostasy, and the great shortcomings of the Church’s pastors.”

Turning to the current situation in the Church in light of Our Lady of Fatima’s revelations, Burke said:

The teaching of the Faith in its integrity and with courage is the heart of the office of the Church’s pastors: the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with the See of Peter, and their principal co-workers, the priests. For that reason, the Third Secret is directed, with particular force, to those who exercise the pastoral office in the Church. Their failure to teach the faith, in fidelity to the Church’s constant teaching and practice, whether through a superficial, confused or even worldly approach, and their silence endangers mortally, in the deepest spiritual sense, the very souls for whom they have been consecrated to care spiritually. The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church’s pastors is seen in a manner of worship, of teaching and of moral discipline which is not in accord with Divine Law.

The call for the consecration of Russia is for some controversial, but Cardinal Burke addressed the reasons for his appeal simply and straightforwardly. “The requested consecration is at once a recognition of the importance which Russia continues to have in God’s plan for peace and a sign of profound love for our brothers and sisters in Russia,” he said.

“Certainly, Pope Saint John Paul II consecrated the world, including Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984,” said Cardinal Burke. “But, today, once again, we hear the call of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, in accord with her explicit instruction.”

The want for the ‘explicit’ mention of Russia in the consecration as requested by Our Lady was desired by Pope John Paul II, but not undertaken due to pressure from counselors. This fact was confirmed most recently by the official representative of Pope Francis at the Fatima anniversary celebration last week in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.

Speaking on May 13, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, former president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, recalled his conversation with Pope John Paul II after the 1984 consecration, or “entrustment," which took place March 25, when the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was in Rome.

“Obviously, for a long time [the pope] had dealt with that significant mission which the Mother of God had given to the seer children there,” Cordes said. “However, he held back to mention Russia explicitly, because the Vatican diplomats had urgently asked him not to mention this country because otherwise political conflicts might perhaps arise.”

For those who may still object to calling for the consecration of Russia, Cardinal Burke recalled the words of Pope St. John Paul II who in 1982 during his consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart noted: “Mary’s appeal is not for just once. Her appeal must be taken up by generation after generation, in accordance with the ever new ‘signs of the times’. It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew.”

Instructing the faithful, Cardinal Burke taught that Our Lady of Fatima "provides for us the means to go faithfully to her Divine Son and to seek from Him the wisdom and strength to bring His saving grace to a profoundly troubled world.”

Cardinal Burke outlined six means Our Lady gave at Fatima for the faithful take part in the restoration of peace in the world and in the Church:
  1. to pray the Rosary each day
  2. to wear the Brown Scapular;
  3. to make sacrifices for the sake of saving sinners;
  4. to make reparation for offenses to her Immaculate Heart by means of the First Saturday devotion; and
  5. to convert our own lives ever more to Christ.
  6. Lastly, she asks the Roman Pontiff, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
“By these means, she promises that her Immaculate Heart will triumph, bringing souls to Christ, her Son,” Cardinal Burke added. “Turning to Christ, they will make reparation for their sins. Christ, through the intercession of His Virgin Mother, will save them from Hell and bring peace to the whole world.”

A little levity

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Government closing down Orthodox orphanage in Guatemala

( - Mother Ines, abbess of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Amatitlan, Guatemala, and head of the Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala City, has announced on the Hogar Rafael Ayau Facebook page and the Friends Helping Rafal Ayau site that the children’s home is being forced to abandon its property in the capital city.

As previously reported, although the orphanage and property had been given to Mother Ines and the nuns of Holy Trinity in 1996 by former President Arzú for a span of fifty years, the Attorney General sent a letter on March 20 stating that the state was repossessing the property, needing it to take care of children with more immediate needs, and that the legal agreement between the government and orphanage was never properly registered and so not binding.

Mother Ines writes:

I am writing this to tell you with great sadness that we are going to leave the property donated for charity by my great-grandfather, Don Rafael Ayau, in 1856; and which in 1996 former President Arzú, asked us to accept in usufruct for 50 years. We received it abandoned, looted and ruined. We fixed it with the help of Guatemalans and it was rehabilitated.

Now, after 20 years, when it is still being done a daily extraordinary work in benefit of 400 youngsters in risk, President Morales is asking it back for the governmental institution of Social Welfare. In three occasions I have sought for a dialogue with the President, but it has not been possible.

The orphanage has been run by the nuns of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Monastery, under the care of abbess Mother Ines for more than twenty years, after the government handed the orphanage, founded in 1857, over to them for renovation and reopening. With the help of generous Guatemalans, they rebuilt the facilities and received a child in need of a home almost daily for the first ten years. They successfully completed over 500 adoptions, after which adoption laws in the nation changed, and the number of children at the orphanage began to dwindle. The orphanage and monastery have also hosted Orthodox guests from around the world.

Several peaceful protests were staged, national and international petitions were established, and legal steps were taken to protect the property, but as Mother Ines announced on May 15, their attempts were not successful.

“We should all agree and struggle to get the abandoned children of our country ahead. Our energy and work should be focused towards good deeds. But sadly it is not so,” she writes.

However, despite the seeming loss, Mother Ines also points to the blessings received from the situation: “This battle that we have fought together to keep the Home, this support received from 7.1 million Guatemalans and from all the media but one, has been an extraordinary demonstration of what Guatemalans consider is correct, noble, and worthy. It has been indeed a pleasure to experience it, and a blessing living it! We thank you for your support.”

The nuns intend, courts allowing, to continue raising the twelve adolescents currently under their care, who grew up in the orphanage, and whose adoptions the law never permitted.

The abbess closes her message with hope and prayer:

We will keep on working wherever we can, whenever we can, making alliances with persons we can count on, like you. We keep on counting on you for everything.

Thank very much. Let´s keep on building our beautiful country.

Let us live with the dignity of children of God our Father, being merciful as He is.

Let us keep the constant prayer that protects us: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

We remember you in our prayers all the time. Count on us as we do count on you. Thank you. Blessings for each one and a thousand thanks from us the Orthodox Catholic nuns of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity.

Blessed repose, Chris Cornell.

He was in no small way the soundtrack of my youth. Temple of the Dog is my favorite album and I think I still own almost every Soundgarden album from my teens. Blessed repose, Chris Cornell. Christ is risen!

Please, mother mercy
Take me from this place
And the long winded curses
I keep hearing in my head
Words never listen
And teachers never learn
Now I'm warm from the candle
But I feel too cold to burn
He came from an island
And he died from the street
He hurt so bad like a soul breaking
But he never said nothing to me
So say hello to heaven

New like a baby
Lost like a prayer
The sky was your playground
But the cold ground was your bed
Poor stargazer
She 's got no tears in her eyes
Smooth like whisper
She knows that love heals all wounds with time
Now it seems like too much love
Is never enough, you better seek out
Another road 'cause this one has
Ended abrupt, say hello to heaven

I never wanted
To write these words down for you
With the pages of phrases
Of things we 'll never do
So I blow out the candle, and
I put you to bed
Since you can 't say to me
Now how the dogs broke your bone
There 's just one thing left to be said
Say hello to heaven

- Temple of the Dog
Say Hello to Heaven

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mission, culture, and what is truly important

Upcoming talk on "Marriage to Non-Orthodox" scheduled

(COCC-Detriot) - The Very Rev. Radomir Obsenica of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, Monroe, will speak on the subject of "Marriage to Non-Orthodox"(PDF) on Monday, June 19 at 7 p.m. at St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, 21931 Evergreen Road, Southfield, 48075.

The presentation is sponsored by Orthodox Christian Women of Michigan (OCW).

The meeting is free of charge and open to all members of the public. Refreshments will be served after Father Obsenica's talk. For further information, contact OCW President Mary Ann Dadich at (586) 775-4799 or

OCW was founded in 1993 to provide spiritually enriching and educational presentations and activities, to promote Orthodox unity, to provide opportunities for Inter-Orthodox fellowship, and to perform charitable works. All women who are members of Orthodox Christian parishes in metropolitan Detroit are invited to become supporting members and participate in the organization's activities.