Where the "European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups" and Orthodox clergy converge. Not a few of these names will be known to the readers.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Where the "European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups" and Orthodox clergy converge. Not a few of these names will be known to the readers.
This won't be a long, scripture-strewn article. Instead a few words on a contemporary topic.
There is a lot of guilt and even more emails built up to inform us as to how to enjoy parties without enjoying them "too much." Really, though, we should celebrate when it is time to celebrate and mourn when it is time to do so. No one would recommend constantly checking work emails or getting on conference calls during a vacation in the Bahamas (nor would your spouse or children appreciate it). And when it is time for somberness, no one will think well of the man who cuts his sadness with some funny Youtube videos played on an iPhone or a deli sandwich eaten during a funeral while sitting in the pews.
We were not meant to live our lives in this constantly muted and self-recriminating way always taking careful steps across flat and monochromatic wastes. There should be climbs toward high peaks where we exult in the beauty of creation and careful descents into woods where the insularity of densely growing trees lead us to introspection. So, this holiday season and in those to come, the emails will roll in offering "tips" and "tricks" and "helpful pointers" on how to "escape the trap" of holiday eating. I say, "Rejoice in the Lord!" and do it with egg nog in hand.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
(St. Nicholas Center) - These hymns were composed for the Centenary of the Miracle of St Nicholas at the Darr Mine, December 19, 1907. Two to three hundred lives were spared, as faithful Carpatho-Rusyn men and boys were at Divine Liturgy on the Feast of St. Nicholas when the Darr Mine exploded. 239 lives were lost in the Pennsylvania's worst mining disaster.
Tropar (Tone 4)
Protected by your prayers, O Holy Father Nicholas* we children of those saved offer praise to you.* Beneath your holy omofor you covered your people* as they labored beneath the hills of a new land.* Cease not to intercede that our souls may be saved.
Kondak (Tone 3)
You were truly the protector of your people, O Holy Nicholas* for those who zealously celebrated your holy feast.* You preserved them from danger and death as they labored beneath the earth.* Therefore with one voice we ask you to continually pray for us* that we may obtain mercy from Christ our God.
Orthodox listeners will get a kick out of the first question asked by the show's host, Celeste Headlee, to the book's author, Adam English, about inarguably one of the most famous saints in Christendom.
What a search you have been on. It couldn't have been easy to find any documentation whatsoever into the life of St. Nicholas of Myra. Tell us a little bit about him and what you discovered that's actually true about this man.
(NPR) - If you celebrate Christmas, you may have found some presents under the tree, and you may believe those mysterious presents came from a jolly old man in a red suit.
He has a lot of names, including Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, Noel Baba, Popo Gigio — and of course — St. Nicholas. But believe it or not, St. Nicholas was a real man. He was a bishop, living in the 3rd century, in what's now modern-day Turkey.
Professor Adam English of Campbell University in North Carolina pieced together the life of St. Nicholas in his new book, The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra.
St. Nicholas oversaw a massive transition in the Christian faith, including participating in the Council of Nicaea — the first ecumenical council. Legend has it that he slapped a famous heretic with his sandal. English says the story isn't true, but his bones show that he had a broken nose.
"So perhaps he did have a violent past, or perhaps he did get into a scuffle or two in his lifetime," English tells NPR's Celeste Headlee. But there was one true story that somehow captured the imagination of Christians for centuries.
English says that as a young man, Nicholas had inherited a sum of money. Nicholas hears about a man in town with three daughters on the verge of destitution. So he bags up some gold, and in the middle of the night, anonymously tosses the bag through the window.
Nicholas repeats the act two more times so that the family could use the money as dowries for the daughters, English says. Later legend adds that the window was locked, so Nicholas drops the bag down the chimney, where it lands in a stocking waiting by the fire to dry.
From the blog A Reader's Guide to Orthodox Icons...
At the First Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) the anti-Trinitarian heresy spouted by Arius so angered Nicholas that he walked over to Arius in mid-speech and struck him in the face. The scene is shown in all its glory in this fresco.
See also: “Bishop Nicholas Loses His Cool,” from the St Nicholas Center.
(St. Nicholas Center) - When Nicholas visited Palestine he is believed to have lived for three to four years in a small cave in Beit Jala. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church is on the site of the cave. In Beit Jala today there are innumerable stories about Saint Nicholas.
Fr. George Shawan, Beit Jala's senior Orthodox priest says, "For us he is not Santa Claus but like our great great grandfather. We feel we know him personally. In the year 305, several monks from Anatolia in Asia Minor came here and established a small monastery with a church named in honor of the Great Martyr George. This was before St. Sava’s Monastery was founded in the desert east of Bethlehem on the Kidron Gorge near the Dead Sea. The monks in Beit Jala had a few caves and several houses. In the years 312-315, St. Nicholas was here. He came as a pilgrim to visit shrines in the Holy Land. A text written in his own hand is still in the care of the Patriarchate in Jerusalem. It was in his prayers that St. Nicholas heard the Holy Spirit call him back to Asia Minor, to Myra, where soon after his return—in 317—he was consecrated bishop."
Protector of Beit Jala
When raiding invaders surrounded Beit Jala, attacking it, the townsfolk bravely defended the city. Everytime the attackers tried to take the town an Old Man with a lance or spear stopped them in their tracks. It seemed as if even the olive tree branches were beating the invaders back. The raiders later told that the townspeople's bullets had little effect, it was the Old Man who never allowed them to move forward and take the town. An so it was Saint Nicholas who saved Beit Jala.
This protection was repeated again during World War I and II, when it is said that St. Nicholas stretched out over the village, protecting the people.
Locals also report that he was seen with hands outstretched, catching bombs aimed at Beit Jala following the State of Israel's 1948 declaration of independence. Many residents took refuge in the church and once again St. Nicholas was seen to block bombs from destroying the church, protecting the people. One resident says, "No bombs reached Beit Jala. Only the tower of the St. Nicholas Church was damaged. We know it was St. Nicholas that saved Beit Jala from any problems."
Gene Stoltzfus, founder of Christian Peacemaker Teams, reported, "I first really became aware of the power of Santa and St. Nicholas, during the 1990s when I regularly visited Palestine where Muslims, Jews and Christians alike used my appearance [he looked like Santa Claus] as a conversation starter. When the second intifada (uprising) broke out in 2000 there were violent exchanges between Israelis and Christian villages like Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. In Beit Jala I was seriously introduced to St. Nicholas, their patron saint who gave special protection to the villagers since the 4th century. The story is that St. Nicholas was a pilgrim to Beit Jala in the years 312-315 and he lived in buildings and caves built by monks a century earlier. The people of Beit Jala told me story after story about how St Nicholas had saved their village over the centuries up to and including modern intifadas."
Monday, December 5, 2016
How much do I dislike the RUPTLY banner on these videos? A lot.
(RT) - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has consecrated a new cathedral in central Paris, just yards away from the Eiffel Tower, with hundreds of worshippers attending the service he led there on Sunday.
Trinity Cathedral was opened as part of a Russian cultural and spiritual center on the banks of the Seine River in the French capital.
Around 500 Orthodox believers from the Russian community in Paris, including the offspring of Russia’s former princely houses, packed the church for the event.
Renowned French singer, Mireille Mathieu, and Russian super-model, Natalia Vodianova, were also attending.
The Patriarch called the new church a symbol of the close ties between the peoples and the cultures of Russia and France.
“It’s a monument to our close relations in the past and, certainly, a symbol of what awaits us in the future,” he said.
The Orthodox Church leader also thanked France for its hospitality to the Russian immigrants who arrived in the country after the 1917 revolution.
He urged Russians living abroad to “consider themselves members of the Church and to go to church… and by no means allow their children to lose their language and culture.”
“It’s your duty. You can live wherever you want, but you can’t break spiritual and cultural ties with your people,” Patriarch Kirill added, according to Russian news agencies.
Construction on Trinity Cathedral began last April on a plot of land purchased earlier by the Russian government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to attend the opening ceremony with his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, in October, but his visit was cancelled after the French side shortened the program for his trip amid increasing tensions between Russia and France over Moscow’s veto of a French UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria.
Patriarch Kirill will also travel to Zurich, Switzerland to take part in celebrations commemorating the 80th anniversary of the local Orthodox cathedral there during his five-day trip to Europe from December 3 to 7.
Saturday, December 3, 2016
NEW YORK, September 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – An Orthodox Christian woman has won the right to refuse a vaccine developed using aborted babies' tissue, based on her religious beliefs.
The vaccine is for measles/mumps/rubella and is required by New York City law for all schoolchildren. It was developed from fetal tissue procured from abortions, hence the moral dilemma for practicing Christians.
The woman, who remains anonymous, said her Christian beliefs against abortion compel her to have nothing to do with vaccines made using aborted fetal tissue.
"Abortion is clearly a mortal sin and is [an] abhorrent act to any Christian," the New York mom said in her petition for exemption, according to the New York Post. "The vaccine manufacturers' use of aborted fetal cells in its products and research means that I cannot associate with them or support them financially (by buying their products), for such support would make me complicit to their sin."
New York State Department of Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia concluded in the woman's favor, explaining, "The weight of the evidence supports petitioner's contentions that her opposition to the MMR vaccine stems from sincerely held religious beliefs."
(Middle East Monitor) - Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem has sacked Archbishop of Sebastia Attalla Hanna, a statement issued by the office of the Archbishop said yesterday.
“Patriarch Theophilos and his Holy Gathering decided today to stop the salary of Archbishop Attalla Hanna,” the statement said, noting that Hanna is the only Palestinian archbishop in the Greek Orthodox Church.
The statement cited “the latest stances” of the Archbishop Hanna and his “clear support” for many other issues, stressing that this measure aimed to “blackmail him and put pressure on him and all the Arab clergymen.”
Meanwhile, the statement noted that the salaries of other Arab clergymen were “arbitrarily stopped” by the Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox in Jerusalem.
In addition, the statement said that the Orthodox Church took several other “punitive” measures against Arab clergymen such as moving Archimandrite Christophoros from his monastery in Jordan to Jerusalem.
“We expected Theophilos to be wiser and more responsible, not to escalate the situation,” Hanna said in the statement, noting that he intended to sort out all issues peacefully. “We expected him to act as a spiritual pope and not to take revengeful decisions far from the spirituality of the church.”
He continued: “Currently, we are facing a new stage and new reality. It seems that we are being forced to take a stance that it is impossible to [view anything as] positive from Theophilos. But this will never affect our spiritual, humanitarian and patriotic message.”
The Archbishop said that Theophilos “should have punished those who call for recruitment in the occupation army or those who sell our endowments and are involved in conspiracies against the Christian existence in the region.”
“We received Theophilos’ message,” he concluded, “cutting salaries does not scare us or stop our mission and our message will reach him very soon.”
Friday, December 2, 2016
(Sofia Globe) - The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, has formally rejected the Pan-Orthodox Council and its conclusions, it emerged from an announcement in Sofia on November 29.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church declined to attend the council, held in Crete in June, after its call for the Pan-Orthodox Council to be postponed was not heeded.
It was among four autocephalous Orthodox churches that refused to attend, along with the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.
The event in Crete was “neither Great, nor Pan, nor Pan-Orthodox,” the Holy Synod said in its November 29 decision.
The decision noted that the Crete council had been attended by “representatives of the media and guests from heterodox religious groups (Roman Catholic, Anglican, etc)”.
It noted that 33 people from among the bishops who had participated in the council had not signed the document on “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”. Some of the bishops who had not signed included prominent Orthodox theologians, the Bulgarian church’s document said.
Bulgaria’s Holy Synod said that it had examined the documents from Crete after specialist translation by an authorised translator.
It said that it had noted that, in part, the documents that had been circulated before the Crete meeting had undergone some changes “but insignificant and insufficient” for ecumenical acceptance.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
(LA Copts) - The following is a summary of a study dealing with women receiving Holy Communion presented by the Medical Subcommittee of the Holy Synod, which convened at the Synod’s request in March 2016 at Logos Center.
The Christian Church clearly teaches that sin alone defiles a believer and that men and women are temples of the Holy Spirit, which only leaves a person in the case of death in sin. Thus, a woman is a pure dwelling place of the Holy Spirit every day of her life.
However, because of piety and the proper care concerning the Holy Mysteries of the Church, and for the preservation of the received traditions, it is fitting for both men and women to refrain from Holy Communion during periods of physical unpreparedness, which include all kinds of bodily secretions such as nocturnal emissions of semen for men (i.e., “wet dreams”), the menstrual cycle, the period of postpartum bleeding, and normal marital relations, except in special cases at the advice of the spiritual father of confession and for pastoral reasons.
We further assert that any woman in these states is not forbidden at any time from all other spiritual activities, including personal prayer, reading the Holy Scripture, serving, and attending the Divine services.
We also emphasize that a child (male or female) can be baptized on any day after his/her birth.
From the blog Byzantine Frontier, a post on liturgical colors. This isn't a big, complex article but instead presents things simply and and succinctly.
Before the fourteenth century no Christian church had assigned colors for seasons, fasts or feasts the way we understand them now. There was only a very broad guideline. In the Orthodox Church the colors are specified in what is called the Typikon, but in the Typikon there are only three colors called for: general, dark and bright. That’s as specific as it gets. General is taken to mean gold. Dark is often thought of a purple (but can be red, burgundy, or even black). Bright is white but historically could also simply mean one’s nicest or most beautiful set.
So where did all of these colors come from? In the early 1500s the Roman Church came upon a set pattern of colors and seasons. They used five colors: white, red, green, violet, and black — although Spain was allowed to use blue as well. The Orthodox Church saw the use of colors used in the West and adopted (and altered) that pattern. This is usually thought to have come through Russian and perhaps from Czar Peter the Great’s experience with the West. But the adoption in the Orthodox Church was not uniform and the old Typikon still stands. Even different areas of Russia have slightly different customs for liturgical colors...
Complete post here.