Friday, February 16, 2018

Romanian Synod holds working session

(Romanian Church) - The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church held this year’s first working session Thursday, February 15, at the Synodal Hall of the Patriarchal Residence, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel.

During the meeting, the members of the Holy Synod proceeded to the election of an assistant bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Italy and an assistant bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Spain and Portugal.

The Holy Synod elected by secret vote the Very Reverend Archimandrite Atanasie (Tudor) Rusnac as Assistant Bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Italy. The new assistant bishop will bear the title of His Grace Bishop Atanasie of Bogdania.

The Holy Synod also elected by secret vote the Very Reverend Archimandrite Teofil (Petru) Roman as Assistant Bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Spain and Portugal. The new Assistant Bishop will bear the title of His Grace Bishop Teofil of Iberia.

The following decisions were made during the same working session:

The commemorative themes of the year 2018, declared Solemn Year of the unity of faith and nation and Commemorative Year of the founders of the 1918 Great Union, were completed with a new chapter entitled Consequences of the Great Union. Centenary lights: heirs and developers of the Great Union for 100 years.

Thus, personalities who through their achievements have developed this great moment of the Romanian national history will be highlighted: founders of places of worship, promoters and defenders of Romanian Christian culture, spirituality and education.

Given the 2018 Centenary, the Holy Synod encourages the intensification of pastoral, cultural and spiritual programs promoting the unity of faith and nation in the Romanian Orthodox communities outside Romania, especially the use of the Romanian language during the divine worship, in activities with the youth and in family. This is a bit contrary to the lingua franca push of other jurisdictions.

Given the Church’s contribution to the promotion of education for national unity and dignity, the Holy Synod decided that the Diocesan centres should continue offering financial and material support to schools that need repair, renovation and equipment.

Since cultural, artistic activities performed inside the places of worship can cause tendencies of self-secularization of the sacred space of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod decides that cultural activities be organized in other parish spaces or in public spaces rented for this purpose.

Filming in places of worship will only be accepted with the approval of the Diocesan Centres and only in cases where it is desired to highlight the liturgical, architectural and historical heritage of the respective churches. Subsequently, broadcasting the divine services live on the Internet will be carried out only with the approval of the Diocesan centres, having the obligation to observe the liturgical norms and the Typikon (instructions).

The Holy Synod approved the inclusion of Saint Matrona of Moscow into the calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church beginning with 2019, being commemorated on May 2.

The Holy Synod also included into the calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church the Feast of the Syriac Icon of the Mother of God from Ghighiu Monastery to be commemorated on the Feast of the Life-giving Spring, beginning with 2019. The Holy Synod approved the Akathist and the Service of the Syriac Icon of the Mother of God.

The synodal fathers approved the Akathist and Service of Martyrs Claudius, Castorius, Sempronianus and Nicostratus (November 9), the Akathist and Service of the 26 Holy Martyrs in Gothia (March 26), the Akathist to St Luke the Evangelist (October 18), and the Akathist to the Holy Martyr Christopher (May 9).

Greek Metropolis of Hong Kong lauds canine good fortune

(OMHKSEA) - Message by His Eminence Metropolitan Nektarios of Hong Kong and South East Asia on the occasion of the Chinese New Year of the Dog

Dear brothers and sisters,

Dog is the eleventh in the 12-year cycle of Chinese Calendar.

The Chinese tradition regards dog as an auspicious animal. If a dog happens to come to a house, it symbolises the coming of fortune. Dog is man’s good friend who can understand the human’s spirit and obey its master. It is loyal, faithful and grateful.

The virtue of the dog is a great example for the spiritual life of every Christian. We ought to be loyal, faithful and grateful to our Master and Saviour Jesus Christ. He gave to us a life of meaning and purpose! A means of change and transformation! A wellspring of mercy and forgiveness! A worldview of divine love and unconquerable hope! This is what faith in Christ can mean to each one of us.

We ought to be vigilant and to safeguard the freedom given to us by our Saviour Jesus Christ, and not to go back to the life of captivity and to become slaves of sin and corruption once more. Christian is called to live in purity in an impure world. Because this world will pass away, we ought to be holy and godly, living as citizens of the Kingdom of God through evangelism, prayer, holy living, repentance and obedience.




恭喜發財 Kung Hei Fat Choi

With my best wishes and love in Christ

+ Metropolitan Nektarios of Hong Kong and South East Asia

OCA jumps into gun debate

February 15, 2018 (OCA-MW) - Message from Bishop Paul regarding recent school violence

To Our Youth and their Parents in the Midwest Diocese,

Once again we have heard about another tragic mass shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida earlier this week.

“Police say the 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people and wounded at least a dozen others in the rampage,” reports Yahoo News. “Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters that Cruz had been expelled from the school for ‘disciplinary reasons.’ Israel said that an AR-15-style weapon and ‘countless magazines’ were recovered at the scene. According to the Associated Press, Cruz purchased the weapon legally about a year ago.”

This AR-15 style weapon, according to Yahoo News, has no fully automatic mode, but it is still marketed as coming from a lineage of military-grade arms. It is modeled on the M-16 used by the US Army and Marine Corps and carried by thousands of troops around the world.

I begin this note with this information because the time has come to ban private citizens from purchasing military-grade and other kinds of semi-automatic weapons designed for use by the military for war. This would not deny a citizen’s right to purchase a simple firearm to protect his or her family and home from possible danger. But this need not include military style weapons.

Of course, the only true answer to this and the many similar tragedies that occur all too frequently is not a ban. Rather, there is a need for us to repent from acts of violence and turn to the Prince of Peace, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, to receive forgiveness and reconciliation. As we enter into Great Lent, we need to call upon the grace of the All-Holy Spirit to give us the grace to do what is not in our fallen sinful nature to do — to forgive the troubled perpetrator from the horrible acts he committed in Parkland, Florida; and to pray for those who were slain and their family members who are suffering.

Forgiving, however, does not necessarily mean forgetting. Why can’t we learn from these tragedies? We live in a fallen world in which people do not always do what they should do. The Orthodox Church sees abortion as an act of murder and many call upon and pray for the day that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. But these horrific mass killings in our schools are equally a Sanctity of Life issue. We need to advocate for laws to be passed to protect our students from these military style weapons. In my opinion, doing so would help significantly to make our schools safer places for our youth to attend and learn.

Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest

Dr. David Ford to give talk on marriage in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL (OCA-MW) — Dr. David Ford, Professor of Church History at Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA, will deliver a lecture titled “Wisdom on Marriage from the Saints through the Centuries” at Holy Trinity Cathedral, 1121 North Leavitt Street, Chicago on Saturday, March 3, 2018. His lecture and refreshments will begin at 3:00 p.m. Vigil will be celebrated at 5:00 p.m.

Dr. Ford holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Colgate University, Hamilton, NY; a Master of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK; and a Ph. D. from Drew University, Madison, NJ.

The public is invited. For additional information please contact Priest Alexander Koranda at

Chrysostom on Fasting

As is my annual custom, St. John Chrysostom "On Fasting."

Fasting is a medicine. But medicine, as beneficial as it is, becomes useless because of the inexperience of the user. He has to know the appropriate time that the medicine should be taken and the right amount of medicine and the condition of the body which is to take it, the weather conditions and the season of the year and the appropriate diet of the sick and many other things. If any of these things are overlooked, the medicine will do more harm than good. So, if one who is going to heal the body needs so much accuracy, when we care for the soul and are concerned about healing it from bad thoughts, it is necessary to examine and observe everything with every possible detail

Fasting is the change of every part of our life, because the sacrifice of the fast is not the abstinence but the distancing from sins. Therefore, whoever limits the fast to the deprivation of food, he is the one who, in reality, abhors and ridicules the fast. Are you fasting? Show me your fast with your works. Which works? If you see someone who is poor, show him mercy. If you see an enemy, reconcile with him. If you see a friend who is becoming successful, do not be jealous of him! If you see a beautiful woman on the street, pass her by.

In other words, not only should the mouth fast, but the eyes and the legs and the arms and all the other parts of the body should fast as well. Let the hands fast, remaining clean from stealing and greediness. Let the legs fast, avoiding roads which lead to sinful sights. Let the eyes fast by not fixing themselves on beautiful faces and by not observing the beauty of others. You are not eating meat, are you? You should not eat debauchery with your eyes as well. Let your hearing also fast. The fast of hearing is not to accept bad talk against others and sly defamations.

Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers? He who condemns and blasphemes is as if he has eaten brotherly meat, as if he has bitten into the flesh of his fellow man. It is because of this that Paul frightened us, saying: "If you chew up and consume one another be careful that you do not annihilate yourselves."

You did not thrust your teeth into the flesh (of your neighbor) but you thrusted bad talk in his soul; you wounded it by spreading disfame, causing unestimatable damage both to yourself, to him, and to many others.

If you cannot go without eating all day because of an ailment of the body, beloved one, no logical man will be able to criticize you for that. Besides, we have a Lord who is meek and loving (philanthropic) and who does not ask for anything beyond our power. Because he neither requires the abstinence from foods, neither that the fast take place for the simple sake of fasting, neither is its aim that we remain with empty stomachs, but that we fast to offer our entire selves to the dedication of spiritual things, having distanced ourselves from secular things. If we regulated our life with a sober mind and directed all of our interest toward spiritual things, and if we ate as much as we needed to satisfy our necessary needs and offered our entire lives to good works, we would not have any need of the help rendered by the fast. But because human nature is indifferent and gives itself over mostly to comforts and gratifications, for this reason the philanthropic Lord, like a loving and caring father, devised the therapy of the fast for us, so that our gratifications would be completely stopped and that our worldly cares be transferred to spiritual works. So, if there are some who have gathered here and who are hindered by somatic ailments and cannot remain without food, I advise them to nullify the somatic ailment and not to deprive themselves from this spiritual teaching, but to care for it even more.

For there exist, there really exist, ways which are even more important than abstinence from food which can open the gates which lead to God with boldness. He, therefore, who eats and cannot fast, let him display richer almsgiving, let him pray more, let him have a more intense desire to hear divine words. In this, our somatic illness is not a hindrance. Let him become reconciled with his enemies, let him distance from his soul every resentment. If he wants to accomplish these things, then he has done the true fast, which is what the Lord asks of us more than anything else. It is for this reason that he asks us to abstain from food, in order to place the flesh in subjection to the fulfillment of his commandments, whereby curbing its impetuousness. But if we are not about to offer to ourselves the help rendered by the fast because of bodily illness and at the same time display greater indifference, we will see ourselves in an unusual exaggerated way. For if the fast does not help us when all the aforementioned accomplishments are missing so much is the case when we display greater indifference because we cannot even use the medicine of fasting. Since you have learned these things from us, I pardon you, those who can, fast and you yourselves increase your acuteness and praiseworthy desire as much as possible.

To the brothers, though, who cannot fast because of bodily illness, encourage them not to abandon this spiritual word, teaching them and passing on to them all the things we say here, showing them that he who eats and drinks with moderation is not unworthy to hear these things but he who is indifferent and slack. You should tell them the bold and daring saying that "he who eats for the glory of the Lord eats and he who does not eat for the glory of the Lord does not eat and pleases God." For he who fasts pleases God because he has the strength to endure the fatigue of the fast and he that eats also pleases God because nothing of this sort can harm the salvation of his soul, as long as he does not want it to. Because our philanthropic God showed us so many ways by which we can, if we desire, take part in God's power that it is impossible to mention them all.

We have said enough about those who are missing, being that we want to eliminate them from the excuse of shame. For they should not be ashamed because food does not bring on shame but the act of some wrongdoing. Sin is a great shame. If we commit it not only should we feel ashamed but we should cover ourselves exactly the same way those who are wounded do. Even then we should not forsake ourselves but rush to confession and thanksgiving. We have such a Lord who asks nothing of us but to confess our sins, after the commitment of a sin which was due to our indifference, and to stop at that point and not to fall into the same one again. If we eat with moderation we should never be ashamed, because the Creator gave us such a body which cannot be supported in any other way except by receiving food. Let us only stop excessive food because that attributes a great deal to the health and well-being of the body.

Let us therefore in every way cast off every destructive madness so that we may gain the goods which have been promised to us in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pope of Rome, Melkite Patriarch concelebrate mass

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2018 / 06:55 am (CNA) - At Mass at Santa Marta Tuesday, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with the patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Youssef Absi, saying that offering the liturgy together is like an embrace between the two Churches.

“This is what the ceremony of today means: the embrace of the father of a Church with Peter. A rich Church, with its own theology within the Catholic theology, with its own wonderful liturgy, and with a people,” the Pope said Feb. 13.

Speaking in place of a homily, Francis noted how a great number of the people of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church are being “crucified, like Jesus.”

He also said that the Mass was being offered “for the people that suffer, for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, who give their lives, give their goods, their properties, because they are driven away. And we also offer Mass for the ministry of our brother Youssef.”

At the end of the Mass, Patriarch Youssef, who concelebrated, offered his own words to the Pope, saying that he was moved by “his fraternal charity, by the gestures of fraternity, of solidarity that he has shown to our Church during this Mass.”

“We promise to keep it always in our hearts, in the heart of all of us, clergy and faithful, and we will always remember this event, these historical moments, this moment that I cannot describe for how beautiful it is: this fraternity, this communion that binds all disciples of Christ.”

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite in full communion with Rome. It consists of some 1.5 million members and is based in Syria and Lebanon, with most of its eparchies in the Arab world. It also has structures to serve the Melkite diaspora in Australia, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.

On Feb. 12, Pope Francis met with bishops of the Greek-Melkite synod, assuring the patriarch and bishops of his closeness in prayer.

In his speech, the Pope remarked on the presence of their Church in the Middle East, in particular Syria, where their Church “is deeply rooted and performs a precious service for the good of the People of God.”

He also extended his prayer for all the people and priests of the Church throughout the world. “In this difficult historical period, many Christian communities in the Middle East are called to live their faith in the Lord Jesus in the midst of many trials,” he said.

“I sincerely hope that with their testimony of life, the Greek-Melkite bishops and priests can encourage the faithful to remain in the land where Divine Providence has wanted them to be born.”

Francis said that on Feb. 23 he has called for a special day of prayer and fasting for peace, and that on that occasion he would not fail to make special mention of Syria, which has been hit in recent years “by unspeakable suffering.”

Referencing the most recent assembly of the synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which took place in Lebanon earlier this month, he said that those meetings are both an important moment of communion and when important decisions are made for the faithful.

Among these decisions is the election of new bishops, which Francis said are called to be shepherds, accompanying their people and helping them to seek the things of Christ, not of the world.

“We need so many Pastors to embrace life with the breadth of God's heart, without settling on earthly satisfactions, without being content to carry forward what is already there, but always aiming high,” he said.

He also asked the bishops and the patriarch, when they return to their offices, to remind the faithful, and the men and women religious, that they are “in the heart and in the prayer of the Pope,” and gave his apostolic blessing.

The Historical and Orthodox Saint Valentine

Full disclosure: My wife is getting dinner and a movie tonight.

(GOARCH Blog) - Now a commercialized holiday celebrating modern Western courtship and romance, the ancient Christian origins of Saint Valentine’s Day are largely forgotten. The actual Orthodox liturgical Feast Days of Valentinos (Greek)/Valentinus (Latin) commemorate two Early Christian saints, Saint Valentine the Presbyter of Rome (July 6) and Hieromartyr Valentine the Bishop of Intermna (Terni), Italy (July 30). Although the historical records for these two saints are not complete, and what we do know about their lives has often been subjected to considerable confusion, their martyrdoms are well known to us. Because of their refusal to renounce their faith in Christ, both Valentines were imprisoned, tortured, and executed around 270, during the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor, Claudius II.

Because they shared the same name, were contemporaries, resided near each other in central Italy, and ultimately, shared similar fates, the two Valentines’ personal histories were intermingled and conflated over the centuries, producing inconsistencies and puzzlement in many accounts of their lives. What most sources indicate, however, is that Bishop Valentine was renowned during his lifetime as a healer of the sick and blind, while Valentine the Presbyter would become notable in the historical memory of Christians, originally both Eastern and Western, as a courageous steward of marriage. Indeed, because of his connection to the sacrament of marriage, it would be the latter Valentine, the Presbyter from Rome, who would serve as the inspiration for the Late Medieval Western literary foundations for what would by the nineteenth century evolve into today’s popular, secular Valentine’s Day.

According to the most common narrative, Presbyter Valentine, a priest in Rome, drew the ire of Emperor Claudius by ignoring the imperial ban against allowing men who had not fulfilled their military obligations to the Empire to marry. Remaining loyal to his moral commitment and beliefs as a Christian priest, Valentine refused to compromise the sanctity of marriage to the will of the state. In defiance of imperial edict, Valentine continued to unite and bless Christian couples, which were legally barred from marrying. This association with young Christian beloveds became the muse over several centuries for an increasingly fictionalized, romantic expropriation and reconstruction of Saint Valentine in the West, one that has led to the modern Saint Valentine’s Day. Indeed, the memory of Saint Valentine became so distorted and uncertain over the centuries, that the Roman Catholic Church ended its commemoration and veneration—traditionally associated with mid-February in the West—of him as a calendar saint in 1969, effectively surrendering the historical Valentine to his appropriation and exploitation by Western popular culture.

As in other matters of reverence and faith, the Orthodox Church’s veneration of Saint Valentine remains immutable. Secularization in the West accounts in large part for the Papacy’s move to discard the memory of Saint Valentine’s martyrdom in the face of commerce and frivolity, but Orthodoxy still honors Saint Valentine, the Presbyter from Rome, for his martyrdom—and as for all its saints, the Orthodox Church honors St. Valentine as a model of the life in Christ.

For Orthodox Christians, Saint Valentine’s Day is most fully understood as a celebration of romantic love and of God’s love. Indeed, Valentine was willing to sacrifice his life not for Eros but in order to sanctify and make whole the union of young couples through the blessing of God’s love. Demonstrating our love for God and reaching our fulfillment in Christ through our relationships with our spouses, families, and communities, is a way of life that is at the heart of Orthodoxy. By living a life in emulation of Christ, Saint Valentine shared this fundamental truth of Orthodox Christianity with the world, one that is more beautiful and lasts longer than flowers and cards—it is eternal.

Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou is Professor of History at Salem State University, where he teaches on the Balkans, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Copts dedicate church to 21 Martyrs of Libya

Minya, Egypt, Feb 13, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA) - The Coptic Orthodox Church will dedicate on Thursday a new church to the 21 Martyrs of Libya, who were beheaded by the Islamic State, three years after their deaths.

The church will be opened Feb. 15, according to Fides News Agency. It is located in the village of al-Our in Egypt’s Minya Governorate. The village was home to 13 of the martyred men.

“Any way that the Church of today can honor her martyrs is a blessing. The story of these 21 brave men is worth telling. In way too many places Christians are under siege from the dark forces of extreme hatred, and their freedom is conditioned by this hatred,” Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn told CNA.

The church may someday house the 21 martyrs’ remains, which were identified in a mass grave on the Libyan coast in September.

The Coptic Orthodox Church recognized the 21 Coptic Christians as martyrs to be commemorated every Feb. 15 within only a week of their murder in 2015 along the Libyan coast, which was filmed by the Islamic State and released in an internet video.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church, meaning it rejected the 451 Council of Chalcedon, and its followers had historically been considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, though they are not considered so any longer.

Although Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi authorized the building of the new church, its construction in a village that is 70 percent Muslim has faced resistance.

“Some of the villagers protested and threw stones when construction started on the church. Churches are a sensitive subject throughout Egypt, even though about 10 percent of the population is Christian. It's hard to get permits to build them,” Jane Arraf of NPR reported from al-Our.

Christians in Egypt face a constant threat of violence. Earlier this week, a man was found guilty of stabbing Coptic Orthodox priest, Samaan Shehata, to death last October.

On Palm Sunday last year, two Islamic State suicide bombings at Coptic churches in Egypt claimed the lives of 47 people.

“We pray for our Coptic brethren as they continue to witness to their beautiful faith and way of life in Christ Jesus. They live in the most terrifying of circumstances, never knowing the hour or the place of the next attack. May the prayers of the Mother of God be their comfort and strength,” said Bishop Mansour, who continued: “Egypt was the first place of refuge for the holy family and continues to be a place of refuge for God’s holy family, mystically present in his Coptic Christians.”

Armenian celebration of Lord’s Presentation to the Temple

(Armenian-Western Diocese) - On February 14, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation to the Temple. Tiarn’ndaraj, or Candlemas as it is known in the West, symbolizes the presentation of the 40 day-old Christ Child to the Temple in Jerusalem.

In accordance with the Law of Moses, the infant Christ was brought to the Temple by Mary and Joseph and presented to God. A man named Simeon was there, to whom it had been revealed that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord. Simeon held the infant in his arms, blessed God, and said, “Lord, let your servant now depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your Salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people. A Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of Your people, Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

In the tradition of the Church, Evening Services (Nakhatonak) are conducted on the night preceding the Feast Day. At the conclusion of the service, the priest lights a candle from the Holy Altar, and distributes the flame to all present. With great care, the faithful take the lit candles home to their families.

The morning of the Feast Day, Divine Liturgy is celebrated in Armenian Churches throughout the world. The hymn offered during the Liturgy commemorating Tiarn’ndaraj glorifies Simeon’s articulation of “a Light to lighten the Gentiles”. The hymn praising Simeon also lauds the Mystery of the Incarnation.

Many additional customs have been inherited from the past, including the blessing of the four corners of the world in the Andastan Service, the blessing of newlywed couples, as well as offering prayers for the crops and fertility of the fields.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Rejection of Universalism in the Triodion

Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's post entitled "The Rejection of Universalism in the Triodion" remains a timely article I'm sad to say. Closed communion and universal salvation doesn't track, people.

(Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy) - One of the big problems with an Orthodox Christian embracing universalism is that he has to reject a large portion of the liturgical tradition of the Church in order to do so. The eternality of the punishment of the wicked is ubiquitous in the services of the Church. This may be less apparent if one does not have access to frequent church services, but it really becomes apparent the more time you spend in church listening to what is being sung.

The Church doesn’t spend all its time talking about the eternality of Hell, but mainly focuses on encouraging sinners to repentance and to embrace the resurrection of Christ. But even though we are definitely running toward something, we are also very much running from something. And the Church does sing about it often.

To give some sense of this, I wanted to give some samples that speak of this (admittedly, hard) teaching of the Church from the most beloved time of the Church year—the Triodion, which includes the periods of Great Lent and Holy Week. I’ve highlighted some relevant phrases (in some cases, it’s the whole hymn that mentions this, so I didn’t highlight any specific phrases).

You will notice that the biggest selection of this material comes from the Sunday of the Last Judgment, the Sunday that directly addresses the question of the eternal destiny of mankind...
Complete article here.

Rare word #18: mlado-starchestvo

mlado-starchestvo - The phenomenon of young and inexperienced clergymen adopting the role of elder.

(ROCOR Studies) - "On Safety Techniques in Church" by Deacon Andrei Psarev.

Fr. Andrei, the question is, I would say it this way, of abuse in the church on the part of either priests or overly active parishioners. How can they be defended against? For example, there can be a tyrannical priest who imposes unattainable obediences upon his parishioners, totally without regard to the fact that people can have a family, or that these are elderly or sick people. So people simply cannot maintain this, and we often lose such parishioners.

The fact is that we cannot avoid responsible membership in the Church. And, of course, discernment, which is a supreme virtue that is only linked with humility, so it is quite difficult to make up any kind of directive here. Although, in fact, we do have a directive – our Synod adopted “Guidelines on Issues of Sexual Misconduct by Clergymen Under the Direct Authority of the Synod of Bishops” It is possible that similar recommendations could be given, seeing that the diocesan assembly of the Moscow Diocese adopted a similar directive regarding mladostarchestvo (The phenomenon of young and inexperienced clergymen adopting the role of elder). And, of course, the criterion is whether the clergyman is leading a person to Christ, whether he is trying, if not to help him, at least not to harm him. This is because each of us will be giving an answer for onself, and we have free will. In Confession, the Prayer of Absolution says that the priest is only a witness, but, of course he should engage very meticulously in pastoring souls and caring for them. It is precisely because of this that only specially ordained priests can hear Confessions in the Greek Church. In our case this is granted automatically to the overwhelming majority of ordained priests. And here I also come up with questions – how are they prepared for this delicate mission? A person totally opens himself up, it’s as if he’s in a doctor’s office, and he undresses, often in such a vulnerable state that he could be traumatized. So of course, what takes place in parishes should be a concern in preparation for pastors and for our leadership. And we ourselves should be circumspect, the same way as when we visit a doctor and decide whether this doctor helps us or doesn’t help us. And, perhaps, the same criterion can be applicable here. In other words, people should utilize definite safety techniques in their relationships, and if something is uncomfortable, if their conscience tells them that something is occurring that shouldn’t occur, they should direct their attention to it, but not do anything that goes against their Christian conscience.

Well, fine, but I understand that the only thing that a parishioner can do is to leave this priest, leave this parish. But the situation in ROCOR is that often the nearest church is too far, and there is no place to search for spiritual aid. But when people are really depressed and have serious problems with a priest and in a parish they require realistic help. So where can they turn to? And in general, how can we help in such a situation?

Well, thanks be to God, priests are different. They should turn to the one they trust. They should consult with someone and act with humility, of course, since it’s possible that they also misunderstand something. We should always remember that we might ourselves misunderstand something, or not understand it fully. And our Lord tells us to come if you have anything against him., find out, and ask your brother. And, of course, this also helps if we humbly pose questions, without any kind of self-confidence, without the idea that one knows answers to all question and is simply looking for some kind of confirmation. In other words, one should precisely pose questions and look into the situation, and if the priest will likewise speak calmly, then perhaps the situation will somehow be clarified, something will become understandable. But again, it is difficult to speak of some kinds of directives. If it is really a criminal problem, it should correspondingly be judged as all law violations are judged, if we’re speaking of sexual demands or something of the kind… But if we’re speaking simply of some sort of confrontation of different personalities, or if the priest, as you have said, demands obedience, perhaps one should turn to the dean, but starting with the priest himself, if at all possible. So such is the perpetual, so to speak, Christian directive.

And what about relations with overzealous parishioners who set down their own laws and rules?

I had one acquaintance who started coming to church, and she was literally terrorized by the sisterhood, since the ladies started phoning her regularly, telling her that they had such and such a menu and she had to buy this and that. So she simply stopped going to that parish, since she was taking her first steps into the church and was totally unprepared to become a cog in the sisterhood wheel, to put it bluntly. So once again, this should be managed by the individual, who should figure out how much strength he or she has and can simply say, “You know, this is too much for me, I simply cannot handle this.” As a consequence, it turned out that she stopped coming to that parish and kept bad memories of that church. So this leads to the conclusion that we need to be, speaking roughly, qualified users. We should understand that we are also responsible for what takes place and should manage relationships.

Fr. Steve Dalber brutally attacked in church parking lot

CHARLOTTE, NC (WSOC) - A priest is in stable condition after he was brutally attacked in the parking lot of his parish in south Charlotte Friday night.

Church officials said 67-year-old Fr. Steve Dalber, a priest at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church on Kuykendall Road, is recovering from a broken arm and injuries to his back.

“That was needless and senseless,” said Fr. John Wallace, one of Dalber's colleagues at St. Nektarios.

Officials said the attack unfolded when he was looking for his cellphone in the parking lot.

"My mind went to, 'Was this some sort of targeted attack?'” parishioner Elizabeth Kleto said.

William McCloskey, 17, is now facing charges for assault and hit-and-run.

"It just made me wonder what kind of people are out there that would attack a priest like that,” Kleto said.

Channel 9 learned that in the past month there has only been one incident, a car theft, reported within a half a mile of the parish.

"You think of a church as being one of the safest places and it's just a little bit unnerving when that comfort and safety is taken away,” Kleto said.

Church members are eager for their priest to return.

"Fr. Steve, we miss you. We love you,” Kleto said. “We thank you for everything you've done for our parish and we can't wait to have you back."

The church has created a security task force to discuss ways to make their campus more secure, such as installing cameras throughout the church property.

McCloskey is due in court Monday.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bp. Demetrios steps away from Chicago following election

Some people emailed asking about what Bp. Demetrios was going to do following the election of an Archimandrite to fill the empty see. Here's your answer.

(GOA-Chicago) - Dear Colleagues, Co-Ministers, and Friends,

As a new Metropolitan of Chicago has been elected and will soon be enthroned, I will be starting a one-year sabbatical beginning February 10, 2018. Throughout my ministry in the Holy Metropolis of Chicago, I have been blessed by working with so many gifted, talented and generous persons. To all with whom I have shared this time, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude as I embark on a new path and journey.
I pray that the Metropolitan-Elect of Chicago will come to enjoy his time with you as have I, and that you will continue to pray for me as I do for you.

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos

Thursday, February 8, 2018

7th Episcopal Assembly of Oceania met in Sydney

"Liturgy and Byzantinization in Jerusalem"