Listen below to Paschal Message of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios for 2013. Click below to listen.
By God's mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the plenitude of the Church
Grace, peace and mercy from Christ risen in glory
Beloved concelebrants and devout, god-loving children of the Church,
Christ is Risen!
The proclamation of the Resurrection by the myrrh-bearing women to the disciples of Christ was considered delirious. Yet, the word, formerly conceived as delirious, was confirmed as Truth. The risen Lord appeared to His disciples on several occasions.
In our time, the proclamation of the Resurrection is again considered delirious by rationalists. Nonetheless, we faithful not only believe in but also experience the Resurrection as a profoundly truthful fact. Indeed, if necessary, we seal our testimony with self-sacrifice because in the risen Christ we transcend death and are liberated from its fear. Our hearts are filled with joy when we repeat: The Lord has risen. Our saints, who have died according to the world, continue to live among us, responding to our petitions. The world that follows death is truer than the world that precedes death. Christ has risen and dwells among us. He has promised to be with us to the end of the world. And so He is – as our friend, brother, healer, who bestows all good things.
Blessed is our God, who has risen from the dead, granting eternal life to all people. O death, where is your sting? Christ has risen, revealing and ridiculing the one who formerly boasted without end to be a mockery. (See the Canon of St. John Damascene, 4th tone, 9th ode) Everything is filled with light and our hearts are replete with limitless joy.
And more than joy, they are filled with strength. For whoever believes in the Resurrection is unafraid of death; and whoever is unafraid of death is spiritually unyielding and unbending inasmuch as what may be the most terrible threat for the majority and for the disbelievers is of little significance to the Christian; for it is the entrance to life itself. The faithful Christian lives the Resurrection even prior to his or her natural death.
The consequence of experiencing the Resurrection is the transformation of the world. It inspires the soul. And an inspired soul also attracts other souls to its ways, when these souls are moved by the genuine joyous experience of immortality. Christ's Resurrection and our own resurrection are not simply an abstract truth. They are a dogma of faith. They are a tangible reality. They are a force that overcomes the world despite the extremely harsh persecutions waged against it. "This is the victory, which has conquered the world, namely our faith" (1 John 5.4) in His Resurrection. Through the Resurrection, humanity is called to divinity through grace. Through the victory of the light of Resurrection over the impure passions, divine eros and a strange love, which surpasses human boundaries, are established in our souls.
Therefore, Christ is Risen! Our hearts are filled with the light and joy of the Resurrection. We approach the Risen Lord with authenticity and simplicity. For, as the royal Prophet David says, our God, who supervises our hearts from above, "will not despise a broken and contrite heart." (Psalm 50.19)
The Resurrection is our strength, hope, joy, and delight. Through the Resurrection, we transcend pain and sorrow for all the evils of this natural, worldly life. The Resurrection is God's response to the helplessness of wounded humanity before the suffering of worldly humanity.
We do not surrender to the difficulties and challenges of the modern world. The gathering of the Lord's fearful disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem encourages us. We are not afraid because we love everyone, even as He loved us and gave His life for our sake. Mysteriously and invisibly, the Lord accompanies us. We only need to have – and we do have – love. For though love, we understand the power of the Mystery; we know the Mystery itself.
If others hesitate, "garnering their actions in thick sheaves" (Vespers of the Prodigal Son), yet we boast. And if we do not "winnow the chaff of our [sinful and passionate] actions with the wind of His loving-kindness or on the threshing floor of repentance," the Risen Lord is Love and disperses all forms of darkness and fear that surrounds us, entering our hearts and our world, even when the doors are closed. He "remains with us" permanently through the cross of love. His calling is peace, and He grants us His peace. The powerful of this world pledge and promise peace, but can never produce or realize it. Whereas the power of divine Love, Peace and Wisdom remains beyond all human panic. It is not found on the margins of reality or the surface of human convictions. Instead, it is the heart of humanity, the center of life, the lord of life and death. It is Truth.
The incontestable transcendence of Power invisibly controls the reigns and directs all things, especially at a time when "the minds of so many lie in darkness."
At this time of widespread dissolution throughout the world, the hope of all throughout the universe, the Wisdom of God, is the presence of the heavenly solution and harmony. At a time of collapse and anticipated death, we have the reality of Resurrection and the strength of our conviction in Christ.
The peace that derives from Him who trampled down death by death through his self-emptying, together with the joy of love, flow and heal our contemporary humanity that sighs and suffers as well as all of creation that groans and laments with us, who "await adoption and redemption" as well as "the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (Romans 8.20-23)
Truly the Lord is Risen, beloved fathers, brothers and sisters!
Holy Pascha 2013
† Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God
Orthodox Christian Network is encouraging everyone to keep Archbishop Paul and Archbishop John, and all the people in the region in their prayers. Below are confirmed reports and communiques on this developing situation. Please visit back as this page will be updated as news becomes available.
Fr. Chris' Interview with Charles Ajalat - http://www.myocn.net/index.php/201305174526/ocn-now/4526-update-on-kidnapped-syrian-bishops.html
Letter from the Assembly of Bishops of North and Central America to Secretary of State John Kerry http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/2013/secretary-of-state-syrian-bishops
April 29, 2013 Update from Antiochian.org http://www.antiochian.org/support-abducted-syrian-hierarchs
Patriarch John X of Antioch's Encyclical for Palm Sunday http://www.myocn.net/index.php/201304294497/orthodox-news/4497-pastoral-message-of-patriarch-of-antioch-for-palm-sunday.html
Two Archbishops Kidnapped in Syria http://www.myocn.net/index.php/201304294497/orthodox-news/4497-pastoral-message-of-patriarch-of-antioch-for-palm-sunday.html
With God's mercy
To my brethren, the Shepherds of the Holy Church of Antioch and my Children throughout the Holy and Apostolic See
I address you today, at the end of Great Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, and at a time when we are being surrounded by much pain and suffering. Throughout our Antiochian lands, dangers threaten our homes, and political Conflicts storm our countries. As a result, man's livelihood, dwelling, and even life are at risk. We are tried every day by death or abduction, and our latest plight is the recent kidnapping of our beloved brothers, Bishop Paul Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, lskenderun and dependencies, and Bishop lohn Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, and the killing of the Deacon who was accompanying them.
I share the pain felt by a large number of believers in our Church as a result of these difficult circumstances. I strive with my brothers, the members of the Holy Synod, to lessen the impact of these conditions on our faithful and all citizens. This is an essential part of our Christian Witness. We, however, refuse to accept what man is undergoing today. We are working in that our rejection of this situation reflects the tenets of our beliefs. We reject this situation and condemn it. Since we are the children of the Resurrection, we are not afraid of Whoever takes violence as a way to achieve his purpose. To be killed, or kidnapped, or to have our institutions destroyed, will not change our resolve to uphold our civil life and our co-existence; to cling to our homeland and to seek the reign of justice and rights in our homelands. Therefore, each and every one of us, whether in the Antiochian motherlands or abroad, is invited to express his concern and personal rejection of the recent course of events, aside from any political realignment. Humanity is the object of Christianity, for our Lord Was incarnated for our salvation.
I take this opportunity to extend, on your behalf, in the motherlands and abroad, an appeal to the international community, urging it to do everything it can toward the release of hostages whose absence affects us deeply. The speedy closure of this issue is extremely important in order to avert the risk of terrible consequences that would follow. Our appeal also includes an urgent call for action in order to find a quick solution to the situation in our beloved Syria; for the salvation of the people who are the descendants of an outstanding human Civilization of thousands of years,and in order to prevent the risky consequences that could affect the entire region.
As we are entering the time ocfthe Holy Passion and Resurrection of our Lord, I invite you to reveal the unity of our Church who fervently gathers Her flock in all that is right and just.
In this time, let us exceptionally intensify our prayers and supplications. lust as our Lord was not afraid to walk on the path 0f Calvary; in the same Way we are invited to walk with Him along this path, being fully aware that by the Cross we shall conquer, because the Lord is risen from the dead and He will raise us with Him. Let us intensify our petitions as a living testimony, asking God to remove all injustice, praying for the quick return of our abducted hierarchs to their beloved ones, for the comfort of the bereaved, and for the deterrence of those people with cruel hearts, so that they may be inspired to refrain from harming their fellow human beings.
Therefore, I call on everyone, faithful and clergy, to approach Palm Sunday with a new spirit, remembering the passion of our Lord and connecting it with what we are living in today. Let the Resurrection occur in every human heart, as the Lord has raised Lazarus from the dead. Let us work to have Christ triumphantly enter into the world's heart through our service and ministry, as He entered Victoriously to Jerusalem. Let our processions be this year with candles tied with black ribbons, chanting the hymn: "To Thee O Champion Leader...," instead of the hymn "Rejoice O Bethany ___," asking the Virgin Mary to keep our Church as a fortified city.
I urge you to pray throughout this Holy Week with a broken spirit, being aware that in our trials, we have God as our refuge. God will not overlook His little flock. May love, service, and courage be the gateway to the joy of the Resurrection, a joy that cannot be taken away.
Issued at our Patriarchal Residence in the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand, 0n April 27, 2013
Below are the official communique from the Patriarchal Office. Click on the language to download.
(Englewood, NJ) - His Eminence Metropolitan Philip is saddened to report that, in a telephone discussion that he had today with His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, it was learned that Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi), Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese Of Aleppo, and the brother of His Beatitude, as well as Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Archdiocese of Aleppo, were both abducted by terrorists in a suburb of Aleppo as they were returning from Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) to Aleppo.
The deacon who was driving their automobile was shot and killed in the attack. As you know, Syria has been suffering from these acts of terror for more than 2 years.
We ask all of you to remember Metropolitan Paul, and Archbishop Gregorios in your prayers, asking the Lord to deliver them safely from this ordeal. All official information will be released from the Archdiocese Headquarters through official communication channels.
Below are the official communique from the Patriarchal Office. Click on the language to download.
WASHINGTON BUREAU: Terry Mattingly's religion column for 4/10/13.
Every year or so, editors are asked to sit patiently while market researchers dissect thick reports about what consumers say they want to see in their newspapers.
That was already true back when Harry Moskos was editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel. But he immediately noticed something strange, when handed the executive summary of one late-1980s survey.
Two words near the top of the subjects valued by readers caught his attention -- "religion" and "family." Yet the professionals interpreting the data offered zero suggestions for improving coverage of those subjects.
"I remember saying, 'Look at that. ... Those words just jumped out at me, primarily because I knew people in Knoxville tend to see those subjects as connected," said Moskos, 76, in a telephone interview. He recently ended his 60-year journalism career, with most of that work in Albuquerque, N.M., and Knoxville, Tenn.
Of course, he admitted, the fact he noticed the words "religion" and "family" also "says something about the life I've lived and how I was raised" in a devout Greek Orthodox family. "I just knew we had to do something ... to respond to that interest among our readers," he said.
Thus, Moskos asked his team to create a section on faith and family life. As part of that effort, he asked -- at a meeting of Scripps Howard editors -- if the newspaper chain could start a national religion-news column.
That's how -- 25 years ago this week -- I began writing this "On Religion" column for the Scripps Howard News Service. At that time, I was the religion reporter for one of the chain's major newspapers and then I continued this work while teaching, first in a seminary, then in two liberal arts colleges and, now, as director of the Washington Journalism Center.
Through it all, I have been amazed that many people still think religion is a boring, unimportant subject that can be relegated to the periphery of news coverage. The late Associated Press religion writer George Cornell once noted that -- year after year -- at least half of the items in that wire service's global list of the top news events have obvious ties to religion.
And what about that journalistic mantra, "Follow the money"? When hundreds of thousands of sports fans -- spending millions of dollars -- head to stadiums or face their televisions, news organizations respond, big time. What happens when millions of religious believers -- spending billions -- do the same? Not so much.
"Usually, where people put their time and money, that's where their interests are," Cornell told me in 1982. "Newspapers' attention and space are supposed to be geared to people's interests. Right?"
The other big mystery, for me, is why professionals who lead newsrooms rarely seek out experienced, even trained, religion reporters. Discussions of this topic often reference a religion-beat opening Washington Post editors posted in 1994, noting that their "ideal candidate" was "not necessarily religious nor an expert in religion."
Please note the word "ideal." Try to imagine editors saying their "ideal" candidate to cover the U.S. Supreme Court would be someone who is not an expert in the law. How about similar notices for reporters covering politics, education, sports, science and film?
"The religion beat is too complicated today for this kind of approach to be taken seriously," said Russell Chandler, who covered religion for years at the Los Angeles Times. I interviewed him for "Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion," from Oxford Press.
"If you don't have experience you have to pay your dues and get some. Then you have to keep learning so that you get the facts right today and tomorrow and the day after that," he said. "I have never really understood what this argument is about. It's like saying that we want to sign up some people for our basketball team and we don't really care whether or not they can play basketball."
This logic also rings true for Moskos, who noted that he once interviewed five skilled sportswriters when seeking someone to cover the University of Tennessee football -- a quasi-religious subject for locals. Why not take that approach to religion news?
"If you send somebody out to cover the Oak Ridge National Laboratory," he concluded, "you'd better find yourself a journalist who knows something about science. ... If people are going to get the job done covering religion then they need to find some journalists who know a thing or two about religion."
Terry Mattingly (www.tmatt.net) directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.
Archbishop Demetrios member of Advisory Council
The two-day meetings took place at the Eisenhower Executive Building of the White House in Washington, D.C. The purpose was to submit the Council’s Final Report of Recommendations to the President concerning the building of partnerships between the government and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to eradicate modern-day slavery. Comprised by leaders from diverse religious and non-profit backgrounds, the task of the Council was to produce, in the course of several months, a report which addressed issues of human trafficking at home and abroad, that is, the exploitation of children, women and men for compelled labor or sexual exploitation through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
The Council worked in close cooperation with Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Office of Faith- Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and his successor in the same Office Melissa Rogers.
The report contains 10 recommendations which, in partnership with the government, will help to combat and eventually eradicate modern-day slavery and bring healing and dignity in the life of those who have been victimized by it. Among the recommendations are the raising of public awareness to the problem, the appropriate education of the public, the sharing of information, the increasing support from the public, and the collaboration with federal agencies and organizations to combat human trafficking.
President Obama met privately with the Council members in the West Wing, and thanked them for their dedication and input in the preparation of the report and its recommendations.
The final report was officially presented to the representative of the government, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, for further utilization and incorporation in the policies of the Administration, and it is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/advisory_council_humantrafficking_report.pdf.
3/17/2013 - In a historic development, it was announced that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople will attend Pope Francis' installation Mass in Rome, Tuesday, March 19, the first time such an event as taken place since the Great Schism in 1054.
The Ecumenical Patriarch will be accompanied by Ioannis Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon and co-president of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church, as well as Tarassios, Orthodox Metropolitan of Argentina, and Gennadios, Orthodox Metropolitan of Italy.
Relations between Catholics and Orthodox have been improving since the Second Vatican Council through mutual visits, acts of friendship and theological dialogue.
Under Benedict XVI, the dialogue picked up in earnest after a lull. In trying to promote it, the pope suggested ways to express the primacy of Peter's successor that could be acceptable to the Orthodox, finding his inspiration from the undivided Church of the first millennium.
Protocol 23/13 - March 18, 2013
Holy and Great Lent
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This prayerful and reflective season of the year, Holy and Great Lent, is a time when we are led to a deeper level of contemplation of our relationship with God as we engage with the great spiritual resources of our Orthodox faith. One of these resources is the witness of the Saints, which guides us in living in repentance, prayer, humility, and love. Through the cherished record of their holy lives and great deeds in the service of Christ, we are inspired by the Saints to draw near to God, to be filled with His power and presence, and to seek above all things, the fulfillment of His will.
Among the Saints are a group of holy people who were called by God to preach repentance, justice, and mercy--the Prophets. During this season of Great Lent, we encounter the message of the Prophets through readings and commemorations, and especially in their role of preaching the restoration and salvation that would come through the Incarnation and Passion of Christ. At the Vespers of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of Great Lent, we sing: “The divinely inspired Prophets preached You in word and honored You in works…. They renounced the whole world for the Gospel’s sake, and in their suffering they were conformed to Your Passion which they had foretold.”
When we examine the message of the Prophets in the context of Great Lent, we find several themes that guide us in examining our lives and our commitment to God. First is a persistent call to be faithful to God as He is faithful to His people. The Prophets were sent by God to the people of Israel to remind them of their covenant relationship with Him. They preached of all of the wondrous things God had done, and chided the people for their unfaithfulness. They condemned immorality and injustice, and called for a return to mercy and holiness.
Second, the message of the Prophets emphasizes our need for repentance and for God’s forgiveness. Over and over again, the Prophets exhorted the people to turn from their sinful ways and seek the forgiveness of God. Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity (Hosea 14:1). They warned of the consequences of forsaking Him, but spoke of the healing that would come through forgiveness. Isaiah proclaimed, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Third, the Prophets preached about the priority of justice in all relationships. Micah stated, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) These exhortations came at a time when kings and judges, religious leaders and the wealthy were ignoring the plight of those living in suffering, of the poor, the widows and orphans. The Prophets called everyone to turn from greed, selfishness, and the exploitation of the weak to relationships grounded in truth and marked by holiness and righteousness. Isaiah preached, “Learn to do good; Seek justice; Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless; Plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).
The final theme in the message of the Prophets is one of hope in the restoration of communion with God. Many of the Prophets foretold of great tragedies and struggle that would come because of the sins of the people. But messages of judgment were followed by words of hope. Speaking a promise from the Lord the Prophet Hosea said, “They shall return and dwell beneath My shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:7). Isaiah proclaimed, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).
In this holy season of Great Lent, these themes guide us in reflection on our lives and our relationship with God. This season of prayer is a time for us to return to God, to be faithful to Him as He has been to us, and to renew our commitment to follow His will. It is a time of repentance, as we examine our actions, attitudes, and priorities, and approach Him with genuine and contrite hearts, seeking His forgiveness. It is a time to reflect on all our relationships with others and on our responses to human need, and ensure that justice and mercy are shown. Finally, in the midst of serious contemplation, deep repentance, spiritual struggle, and earnest prayer, Great Lent is a time when we keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ. Through His life and Passion, through His presence and offering for our salvation, our hope will be renewed and our joy restored in the light and life of His glorious victory!
With paternal love in Christ,
By the Mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
Grace and Peace be with you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ together with our Prayer, Blessing and Forgiveness
Beloved brothers and sisters, children in the Lord,
The holy fathers, who arranged everything in an orderly manner, instituted a period of ascetic discipline and spiritual purification for forty days prior to the great feast of the Lord’s resurrection. This ascetic rule assumes the form of a limitation on foods through fasting, but especially an abstinence from evil. The saintly hymnographer characteristically emphasizes that a genuine and favorable form of fasting for God is the estrangement from wrongdoing, control of the tongue, alienation from anger, separation from evil desires, including gossip, deceit and swearing, restoration of justice, disengagement from passionate thoughts, fervent confession, cleansing of the conscience, “which there can be nothing more difficult,” refraining from “harmful passions, from envy and hatred, indeed from every wickedness,” shunning of “the mind’s perversion,” admission of transgressions. For “the Judge is close, at the door,” and he tries hearts and minds, since “He is everywhere present and fills all things.” (Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete)
The aim of bodily ascesis is the purification of the mind and its concentration on the love of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, as well as on the love of our fellow human beings, which constitutes the evidence that we are disciples of the One who loves them. This love must be tangible, resulting in some sacrifice for them on our part. For love without offering the necessary material and spiritual goods to those whom we love is but an empty word. This is particularly true in our age of great moral and financial crisis, when those of us who can are obliged to offer assistance to our fellow human beings with gladness, love and respect. Only then will our joy in the Lord’s resurrection be complete, when our support for the least of His brothers, our own brothers and sisters, is complete. According to the honorable words of St. Basil the Great, “the man who loves his neighbor as himself possesses no more than his neighbor…thus, as much as your wealth increases, so much does your love decrease” (Homily to the Rich, PG 31.281B).
Unfortunately, the world believes that joy comes from gaining and possessing wealth, glory, positions and other pleasures. “There is nothing worse than a person who does not know how to love.” And “when you see someone who needs physical or spiritual healing, do not say to yourself: I wonder why this person was not healed by anyone. Simply heal that person of his or her illness, and do not seek to lay blame on others. If you anoint that person with the word of your teaching, like the oil of healing, if you cure that person with your good nature, restoring that person’s health with your patience, then that person will become the cause of the greatest treasure for you.” (See St. John Chrysostom, Homily 27 on 2 Corinthians and Homily 8 Against the Jews, PG 61.586-587 and PG 48.932-933). The truth is that the joy and satisfaction from offering love and material goods to our fellow human beings is incomparably greater. The conventional social understanding, which the young generation is taught as the most advantageous way of life, is greed and avarice. However, when such notions prevail, they create social turmoil and ultimately harm even those who acquire excessive wealth at the expense of others. The inevitable social division must be alleviated voluntarily by the offering of those who have to those who do not have, as our Lord explicitly teaches: “Let the person who has two garments give to another who has none” (Luke 3:11). It is only when we perceive our unity with all our fellow human beings, and especially the weak, will we journey through the period of Holy and Great Lent in a godly manner and receive the blessing of Christ.
During this year, which we have declared as “The Year of Global Solidarity,” particularly in light of the serious financial crisis in our world, we must all demonstrate greater concern for the consolation of our brothers and sisters who are deprived of the most elementary resources.
In this way, we shall enter “the arena of virtues that lies before us” in a devout manner and with spiritual progress, we will “enjoy the small coin,” “we will accept the just payment” and we will celebrate with fullness of joy the Holy Resurrection of our Lord, through which “life is truly oriented.” May His Grace and rich Mercy be with you all.
Holy and Great Lent 2013
Your fervent supplicant to God
THIS WEEK FROM THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK
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