Friday, April 24, 2015

A message from the People of the Cross

Notes from Greek Archdiocesan Synod

New York (GOARCH) – The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America convened for its regular spring meeting at the Synodal Chamber of the Archdiocesan headquarters in New York on April 20th, 21st and 22nd, 2015. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America presided at the meeting with the participation of the Members of the Synod.

The Synod deliberated extensively on many matters including the following:

1) The Holy Synod discussed the progress of the publication of the text of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in Greek and English, which has been approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This publication will be available very soon and it will serve the liturgical needs of the parishes of the Archdiocese; it will be comprised of two volumes, one for clergy, which will include liturgical rubrics, and one for the faithful (pew edition).

2) The Holy Synod worked on the English translation of the Regulations for Spiritual Courts of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America which (Greek text) has been approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In addition the Synod deliberated and decided on disciplinary matters regarding clergy. Furthermore, the Synod discussed the problems faced by clergy families as well as the challenges of the clergy in their ministry and ways to address them.

3) The Synod discussed a variety of administrative subjects regarding parishes and Holy Monasteries of the Holy Archdiocese. Special discussion ensued on the needs of small parishes.

4) The Holy Synod approved to support a text prepared by Religious Leaders in America, for safeguarding the institution of Marriage. The Synod also discussed the noticeable increase of violence in our times worldwide, and especially the targeting and expulsion of Christians in traditionally Christian countries and elsewhere. Special emphasis was given to the kidnappings and murders in cold blood of Christians in areas of the Middle East and Africa. On this matter the Holy Synod issued a special statement.

5) There was a full briefing and discussion on the progress of the election of the new President for Hellenic College Holy Cross School of Theology. The Synod also deliberated on offering training opportunities to ministry leaders of the parishes of the Holy Archdiocese.

The three-day meeting of the Synod concluded in the afternoon of Wednesday, April 22.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On the lives of Ss. Sergius of Radonezh & Benedict of Nursia

At the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary Conference on St Sergius of Radonezh, John Martin (HTOS, 5th year) reflected in his paper on the similarities between St Sergius’ life and the life of the sixth century Western monastic founder, St Benedict of Nursia. He noted a number of thought-provoking parallels and showed how these similarities were rooted in a common monastic tradition.

Episcopal Assembly for UK and IE to meet again this week

(ROC-Sourozh) - Members of the Pan-Orthodox Episcopal Assembly for Great Britain and Ireland, who will be attending a regular meeting of the Assembly, will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy at the London Cathedral of the Dormition, Ennismore Gardens, on Saturday, April 25th at 9.30am by invitation of His Eminence Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh. The Chairman of the Assembly, His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, will preside.

This will be the second time the assembled hierarchs have celebrated the Liturgy together. The first celebration took place at the 3rd meeting of the Assembly in June, 2011.

All are welcome to pray at the Divine Liturgy for the 'peace of the whole world, for the steadfastness of the holy Churches of God and for the union of all'.

Catholicos speaks on canonization of Armenian martyrs

Photo from the Genocide Forum the previous day.
(Public Radio of Armenia) - Message of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians On The Occasion of the Canonization of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, April 23, 2015.

“If you are reviled for the name of Christ,
you are blessed, because…
the Spirit of God is resting on you.”
- 1 Peter 4:14

Dear and pious faithful brothers and sisters,

Under the gaze of biblical Ararat, in this cherished holy shrine of the Christ-built Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, today with unified prayer we offer glory up to our Omnipotent God for all of His gifts. We praise the Heavenly One, Who gave strength to our nation to overcome centuries of historical trials, to rise up from the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, and to create the victories and accomplishments of their new life. We glorify the Lord, that the witnesses martyred in the Genocide for faith and homeland, are crowned with sainthood, and through their intercession, His endless mercies flow into our lives

During the dire years of the Genocide of the Armenians, millions of our people were uprooted and massacred in a premeditated manner, passed through fire and sword, tasted the bitter fruits of torture and sorrow. Nevertheless, in the midst of horrid torments and facing death, remained strengthened by the love of Christ, bringing the witness of unshakeable faith, in accord with the apostolic words, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because… the Spirit of God is resting on you.” (1 Peter 4:14.)

Witnessing to Christ through martyrdom is intertwined with the life of our people. Manifold testimonies of holiness, virtue, and the joys of spiritual selflessness are recorded as well in the tragic annals of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian who was persecuted for his Christian faith traveled the path of martyrdom with prayer as his companion; while the one who persecuted him with unceasing atrocity assumed that he was finally cutting off the roots of the love for Christ from the life of the Armenian. The blood of the Armenian martyred for Christ, has placed the seal of unshakeable faith and patriotism on the sands of the desert, while the committer of genocide assumed that the Armenian was being lost forever in the gales of history. It is with that same spirit of devotion to Christ and love of patrimony that our people have re-created their spiritual and national life in all corners of the world, found rebirth in Eastern Armenia, under the canopy of their state which has risen from the ashes. Our people have created their path to ascent through sacrifice, struggle, efforts to voice their righteous case before the conscience and rights of humanity, and always remembering in prayer the countless witnesses of the Armenian Genocide.

The history of martyrdom is not merely a litany of facts or events; rather it is the truth of faith that appears before us, against which tortures and crimes, as well as political deceits and machinations are powerless. Martyrdom ties human life and history to a more powerful heavenly reality, which transcends time and propagates toward eternity, as per the Lord’s promise, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. …Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10.) Our martyrs who witnessed Christ direct the gaze of our souls upward from earthly realities to heavenly life, granting spiritual happiness to we who seek their intercession, and encouraging us to rely on the Lord, to not cower before trials, and to live the God-granted life through works of faith, hope and love. The martyrs of the Genocide today, in the luminous chambers of the kingdom of heaven, bearing the crowns of martyrdom, are the patron saints of justice, philanthropy and peace; whose intercession from heaven opens the source of God’s mercy and graces wherever justice is weakened, the tranquility and security of peace is disturbed, where human rights and the rights of people are trampled, threats arise against the welfare of societies, and persecutions against faith and identity are fanaticized.

Dear and pious faithful,

All of us today are witnesses to the spiritual transfiguration of our history, in which we participate both collectively and as individuals. The canonization of the martyrs of the Genocide brings life-giving new breath, grace and blessing to our national and ecclesiastical life. We believe that we are weaving the crown of a new spiritual rebirth for our people, by canonizing the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. The memory of our holy martyrs will heretofore not be a requiem prayer of victimhood and dormition, rather a victorious song of praise by incorporeal soldiers, triumphant and sanctified by the blood of martyrdom. Today the devout spirit of love ‘of faith and homeland’ of our holy martyrs extends from Der Zor to Holy Etchmiadzin and Tsitsernakaberd, from newly-independent Armenia to the reborn fields of Armenian life dispersed throughout the world, by strengthening us to live with unshakeable faith, the bright vision of the renaissance of our life, and the unquestionable will to defend our righteous cause.

Today, in all corners of the world, the prayers of our people are interwoven with the prayers of this sacred service we offer, to which the President of the Republic of Armenia and the First Lady; our spiritual brother, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; our beloved brothers in Christ – heads and representatives of our sister Churches; honored representatives of Armenian Catholic and Evangelical Churches; state officials of the Armenians and friendly nations; and representatives of diplomatic missions and international organizations, all bring their participation.

With the inaugural supplication for the intercession of our holy martyrs of the Genocide, we offer today our prayer up to God in heaven, asking,

To peacefully keep our people and all of mankind under His blessings,

To quench the thirst for justice in our people’s soul,

For the rays of justice and truth to shine over the world through divine mercy, and disperse the darkness of crimes and calamities that disrupt the life of humanity, and for mankind to create its prosperous and joyful life in brotherhood and harmony

Through the intercession of the holy martyrs, may the grace, love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with all, today and forever. Amen.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bulgarian schism drawing to a close

(Pravoslavie) - Reports from Sofia indicate that the hierarchy of the schismatic “Alternative Synod of the Bulgarian Church” has, following a long process of trial and error, returned to full unity with the canonically-recognized Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The schism came about when in 1992 the government-established Board of Religious Affairs announced that the 1971 election of Patriarch Maxim was illegal as he had been appointed by the then Communist government, which led to a group of three bishops calling for his resignation. The overthrow of the Bulgarian Communist regime was accomplished in 1989, and the new government sought to appear as acting against all Communist vestiges. Soon after the then War Minister gave the dissenting hierarchs permission to occupy the official Palace seat of the Bulgarian hierarchs, and in 1996 they elected their own independent Patriarch, although the 1998 Pan-Orthodox Council of the Bulgarian Church in Sofia of course recognized Maxim as the legitimate Patriarch.

The Ecumenical Patriarch His All-Holiness Bartholomew I played an important role in the reunification, as the RINSU (Religious News Service of Ukraine) noted in their April 2015 report on the UOC-KP/UAOC dialogues for unity: “Recently, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been an agent of reunification of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, although there were also two branches very aggressive against each other,” stated professor of Religious Studies Oleksandr Sagan.

The Bulgarian government also had a stake in the process and had been trying to heal the schism since 1998 when then-President Stoyanov called for the resignation of the Patriarch of both synods that a single successor might be elected to end the schism. This plan remained unexecuted and the Patriarch of the Alternative Synod reposed in 1999. His 2008-elected successor, Inokentii, called for a healing of the schism in 2010. A number of Alternative Synod bishops refused to reunite at that time but have one-by-one reconciled with the Bulgarian Patriarchate, thus bringing an end to the Bulgarian Patriarchate/Alternative Synod schism.

The world converges on Armenia to remember genocide

On April 20, at the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark and leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria; arrived at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin to attend the commemoration events for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
And also...
(OCA) - At the invitation of the His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and a delegation from the Orthodox Church in America, will arrive in Armenia on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, where they will participate in the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Accompanying Metropolitan Tikhon are Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, and Subdeacon Roman Ostash.

Metropolitan Tikhon will be among the heads and representatives of Churches and presidents, prime ministers, and others who will participate in the commemoration, as well as the glorification of Armenian Martyrs at the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

“Many states and governments have recognized the mass killings of 100 years ago as genocide, while other governments—among them the US—have not formally acknowledged the mass murders as such,” explained Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs. “Recently, Pope Francis spoke of and prayed eloquently about the Armenian Genocide at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, causing a harsh response from the government of Turkey.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pastoral Practice Committee's agenda "ambitious"

One of the complaints lodged against the assembly is that they collected all this data and haven't done anything with it. Even if you listen to the interviews with committee members a common thread weaves its way through them when asked what's next - "We have gathered the data. That is what we were told to do. We'll see what happens next." It looks like some of the committees are indeed now moving forward. I find the last section to be of unquestionable importance (both personally and pastorally).

(AOB) - Can Orthodox weddings be celebrated on Saturdays? Are group confessions permissible? How are catechumens prepared for reception into the Church?

The answers to these questions and others depend on which Orthodox jurisdiction you call home. While there are vast areas of agreement in the Orthodox Church, there are variations in practice across jurisdictions in the United States as pertain to baptism, marriage, confession, and other sacraments of the Church.

As the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strives to manifest the unity of Orthodoxy, it is necessary to develop a common understanding among its member bishops regarding pastoral practice.

Such is the goal of the Committee for Pastoral Practice (CPP), one of 14 Assembly committees. The CPP is responsible for identifying the differences and inconsistencies among the various jurisdictions in their exercise of sacramental and pastoral praxis and for proposing models for resolution consistent with canonical practice.

The Chairman of the committee is Metropolitan Joseph (AOCA). Its members are Bishop Sevastianos (GOA), Bishop Theodosy (ROCOR), and Bishop Mark (OCA). Seventeen consultants serve the committee as well as a facilitator and liaison.

"The work of this committee is very important,” said Metropolitan Joseph, “since it helps us to fulfill the command of St. Paul to the elders of the Church: 'Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood' (Acts 20:28) This is the spirit with which we pursue this task, for the building up of the Holy Orthodox Church in this land."

The first part of the committee’s task—identifying the practices currently in use and establishing comparative lists—has been completed. The committee began its work in 2011 by identifying 11 fields of pastoral practice to be surveyed. The committee requested, from each jurisdiction, the official written procedures for each of these fields. Analysis of the documents revealed that many jurisdictions have no centrally articulated, official, written policy for certain fields of pastoral practice.

With that information, the committee decided to focus on six areas where adequate documentary data could be gathered: baptism, chrismation and conversion; marriage; confession/communion; holy unction/anointing; funerals and memorials. A matrix of topics for each area of practice was developed and then a questionnaire sent to the chanceries of each member jurisdiction of the Assembly.

The questionnaire had two purposes: to give all jurisdictions the opportunity to verify the Committee’s findings, and to give each jurisdiction the opportunity to provide information that the Committee was not able to discover from the documents it had collected.

The committee now faces the final part of its assignment: where differences in practice do exist, to propose models for resolution that are consistent with canonical practice.

To prepare for this formidable task the committee held a meeting at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA, November 3-5, 2014. One of the outcomes was the formation of six subcommittees that correspond with the six areas of practice. The subcommittees—led by a hierarch and comprised of consultants—are now revisiting areas of consensus and divergence and developing recommendations. The subcommittees will share their recommendations at a meeting scheduled for May 2015, with the goal of producing a final report with recommendations.

The committee recognizes and desires that each subcommittee should be as broadly representative as possible – a microcosm of American Orthodoxy. With that in mind, the subcommittees will consult with others to ensure that all opinions are represented.

Members of the Subcommittee on Pregnancy and Infant Loss

One other outcome of the November meeting was the decision to simultaneously address the issue of infant loss (miscarriages) and infant death before baptism. In some churches, responses to these situations have been well developed, but universally accepted practices do not exist. A subcommittee on Pregnancy and Infant Loss met at Antiochian Village March 12-14, 2015 and is preparing a guide for clergy, addressing basic medical information, pastoral care, advocacy, and suggested prayers and services. The committee hopes to present the clergy guide to the full Assembly for review at its annual meeting in September 2015.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Armenian Orthodox and Catholic relations

Pope Francis is flanked by Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, Lebanon, left, and Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, as he leaves after celebrating an April 12 Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While Catholic and Armenian Orthodox theologians continue discussions aimed at full unity, Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, commemorated the already-achieved unity of Armenian Catholic and Orthodox martyrs in heaven.

Pope Francis concelebrated Mass April 12 with Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni in the presence of Catholicos Karekin and thousands of Armenian Catholic and Orthodox faithful.

Media attention focused on the diplomatic tensions created between the Vatican and Turkey when Pope Francis used the term “genocide” to describe the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman-Turkish empire in 1915-18.

While the Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the genocide, Pope Francis also used the occasion to encourage ecumenical relations and to declare St. Gregory of Narek a doctor of the church. The 10th-century Armenian monk is venerated by both Catholics and Orthodox.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis handed a message to Catholicos Karekin expressing his hopes that the centennial of the genocide would be “a time of deep prayer” for Catholics and Orthodox. “Through the redemptive power of Christ’s sacrifice, may the blood which has been shed bring about the miracle of the full unity of his disciples,” the pope wrote.

The fact that those who died in 1915-18 were Christians, both Orthodox and Catholic, is a sign of “the ecumenism of blood,” a unity that exists through common suffering, the pope said. Commemorating their deaths together, he said, “reflects on earth the perfect communion that exists between the blessed souls in heaven.”

Speaking at the Mass, Catholicos Karekin prayed that “the martyrs would unite us as children and servants of the one Lord Jesus Christ so that we would learn and commit ourselves to establishing love, justice and peace in the world.”

The Armenian Orthodox officially distanced themselves from Rome and Constantinople in the sixth century; the churches now commonly referred to as Catholic and Greek Orthodox differed with Armenian church leaders and other Oriental Orthodox bishops over theological explanations of Christ’s identity as both human and divine.

But throughout history contacts continued between members of the various Christian communities and, in fact, at the end of the 12th century Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders in Cilicia (now in southern Turkey) re-established full unity. But the agreement was not accepted by all Armenian Orthodox.

A new attempt was made at the Council of Florence in the 15th century and the foundation was laid for a formal structure for the Armenian Catholic Church, preserving the liturgical and spiritual heritage of Armenian Christianity. Pope Benedict XIV in 1742 named the first Armenian Catholic Catholicos for the community.

The Armenian Orthodox sent observers to the Second Vatican Council and were seen as early promoters of the modern ecumenical movement.

In 1996, the patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Pope John Paul II signed a joint declaration officially ending more than 1,500 years of doctrinal disagreement over the theological explanation that Christ is one person in two natures, undivided and unconfused. Through dialogue, the churches declared they profess the same faith in Christ and said the differences that drove the churches apart in the sixth century were semantic rather than doctrinal.

The Armenian Apostolic Church has more than 6 million members today. While based at Etchmiadzin, near Armenia’s capital, the devastation of the genocide, World War I and decades of Soviet domination led to widespread emigration. The church has dioceses around the world.

The Armenian Catholic patriarchate is based in Beirut, Lebanon; its more than 566,000 members are served by dioceses and other structures in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Jerusalem, Ukraine, Greece, Latin America and New York.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The problem with making Christian versions of everything

NEW YORK (RNS) If someone offered you the chance to live in a world designed to look and feel like the real one, but is actually a tidier, more ordered Stepford-ish facsimile, would you take it? For many Christians today, the answer appears to be yes.

Call it Newton’s Third Law of modern Christianity, but for every event, there appears to be an equal and opposite corresponding Christian event. There are Christian music festivals and book festivals; Christian versions of TED Talks; the upcoming International Christian Film Festival in Orlando, Fla.; and earlier this month, even a Christian Fashion Week.

While it might seem tempting for Christians to lock themselves away in anti-secular bubbles, where they could wear nothing but Christian clothing and eat nothing but Christian food (Chick-fil-A, I’m guessing?), the ramifications of doing so are polarizing at best, and deeply destructive at worst.

Just look at the recent spate of religious freedom laws being passed around the country. Regardless of whether you view the RFRAs as discriminatory or necessary, the nut of their existence essentially boils down to separateness. At their core, they are laws designed to keep one group of people from being forced to interact with another.

It doesn’t matter whether they are being sold as religious freedom, LGBT discrimination or Rick Santorum’s hypothetical of protecting gay T-shirt makers from Westboro Baptist Church, the fact of the matter is that RFRAs construct a legal wall between two potentially opposing camps. And while on the surface this may appear to have nothing to do with Christians’ creating their own versions of things, the truth is, they are much closer than you think...
Complete article here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

When to celebrate Pascha

Quartodecimanism, different cycle lengths, and many other factors make it so a "complete" article on dating Pascha every year will always be met with "This is wrong because it ignores these points..." Chances are, if you are going to make that point you don't need to read the below article.

(Greek Reporter) - As Catholics and most of the western world celebrate Easter today, we asked a Greek-Orthodox priest to explain why the Orthodox Church doesn’t celebrate Pascha (Easter) on the same day the Catholic church does! Here’s his well documented explanation.

By Fr. Jon Magoulias – As Greek-Orthodox Christians prepare to celebrate Easter on Sunday,April 12th, we would like to shed some light on the reasons why the Orthodox Christian Church celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ later than the Catholic one. While the issue is somewhat complicated, it may be summarized in the two factors at work that cause this conflict in dates:

1) The issue of the calendar; and
2) the adherence by the Orthodox to the early practices of the Christian Church.

The first factor, the calendar, has to do with the fact that the Christian Orthodox Church continues to follow the Julian calendar when calculating the date of Pascha (Easter). The rest of Christianity uses the Gregorian calendar. There is a thirteen-day difference between the two calendars, the Julian calendar being thirteen (13) days behind the Gregorian.

The other factor at work is that the Orthodox Church continues to adhere to the rule set forth by the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicea in 325 AD, that requires that Pascha must take place after the Jewish Passover in order to maintain the Biblical sequence of Christ’s Passion. The rest of Christianity ignores this requirement, which means that on occasion Western Easter takes place either before or during the Jewish Passover.

As a consequence of these two factors, the Orthodox Church usually celebrates Pascha later than the Western Churches – anywhere from one to five weeks later. While this year Catholic Easter is today the Orthodox Church will celebrate it next Sunday, April 12. Occasionally we do celebrate Pascha on the same day. The last time that occurred was in 2011.

The two dates coincide when the full moon following the equinox comes so late that it counts as the first full moon after 21 March in the Julian calendar as well as the Gregorian. This is not a regular occurrence, but it has happened more frequently in recent years – in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017, but, after that, not again until 2034.

For many people this is a confusing and frustrating issue. Especially those of us who have families that are not Orthodox wonder why we have to celebrate this important holiday at different times. In order to better understand why we do, we will take a closer look at how the date of Pascha is calculated and also examine the issue of the calendar.

How the Date of Pascha (Easter) is Determined

During the first three centuries of Christianity, there was no universal date for celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Churches in various parts of the world followed different traditions. Some Christians celebrated Pascha on the first Sunday after Jewish Passover and others celebrated the feast at the same time as Passover. In order to come up with one unified date for celebrating Pascha, the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD took up the issue. They devised a uniform formula for calculating the date of Pascha that was in line with the early traditions of the Church and the Biblical sequence of events. The formula is this: Pascha is to be celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, following the vernal equinox, but always after Jewish Passover. In order to ensure that there was no confusion as to when the vernal equinox occurred the date of the vernal equinox was set to be March 21 (April 3 on the Julian Calendar). This formula was universally accepted by all of Christianity, ensuring that Pascha was celebrated on the same day throughout the world. The Orthodox Church continues to follow this formula exactly as prescribed by the Council of Nicea.

However, in modern times, the Western Church has rejected the part of the Nicene formula that requires that Pascha “always follow the Jewish Passover.” Western theologians (and, unfortunately, a few misguided Orthodox Theologians as well) now claim that this provision was never a part of the council’s intention, saying that it is not necessary for Pascha to follow the Jewish Passover. This is hard to understand since, by rejecting this provision of the council, they ignore that the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection was celebrated at the same time from 325-1582, as well as the written witness of early Church historians and even earlier canons such as Canon VII of the Apostolic Canons which reads: “If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon celebrate the holy day of Pascha before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed.”

The Calendar Issue

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII instituted a reform of the traditional Julian calendar. This new calendar, called the Gregorian calendar, was more astronomically correct and is the calendar used by most of the world today. As mentioned above, there is a difference of 13 days between the Gregorian and the Julian calendars. Eventually, all of the Western Churches adopted this “New” calendar. The Orthodox Church, however, vigorously opposed the use of the Gregorian calendar. This resulted in the West and East celebrating all Church feast days on different dates, the Orthodox celebrations always falling thirteen days behind the Western.

In 1923, an inter-Orthodox congress was held in Constantinople attended by representatives of some, but not all, Orthodox churches. This congress made the very controversial decision to follow a revised calendar that was essentially the same as the Gregorian calendar, for all things except the celebration of Pascha, which continued to be calculated according to the original Julian calendar. Why this was a bad idea available here.

The result being that today we celebrate most feast days, like Christmas, Epiphany and the rest, at the same time as Western Christians and only Pascha and the feast days that are connected with it like Pentecost and the Ascension, are dated according to the Julian calendar and celebrated on different dates. For Orthodox, it is important to maintain the teachings and traditions of the Church intact and pure.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Palm Sunday in Australia
Saints Raphael, Nicholas & Irene Orthodox Church

Palm Sunday

O Thou Who ridest upon the cherubim, and Who art praised by the seraphim, Thou didst ride upon a colt, O holy, Davidic One. And the youths were praising Thee as befitteth God. And the Jews did blaspheme against Thee wickedly. Thy sitting on an ass foreshadowed the transformation of the bolting of the Gentiles from infidelity to faith. Glory to Thee, O Christ, Who alone art merciful and the Lover of mankind.

Hosanna in the highest!

From the blog Departing Horeb, a post entitled "Just What Does “Hosanna” Mean Anyway?" This breakdown of the word hosanna is the exact topic of the homily I gave today so this is quite fortuitous.

For all Christians celebrating Pascha on the Julian Calendar, this is, of course, Palm Sunday, a feast of remarkable theological depth beyond the basic biblical narrative.

The entire feast is set, as it were, within Psalm 118 (117 LXX), wherein we find the origins of the exclamation, “Hosanna!” But what exactly does this word mean anyway?

In verse 25 of the Hebrew text of the psalm, we find:

אנא יהוה הושיעה נא ˀānnā YHWH hōšīˁa-nnā
אנא יהוה הצליחה נא ˀānnā YHWH haṣlīḥa-nnā

This poetic couplet is rather difficult to translate due to two Hebrew particles, which have no direct equivalent in English. First, אנא ˀānnā is a word that interjects a great deal of precative emotion, such as “Oh, please!” though the English sense here connotes more politeness than the Hebrew. Second, a shortened form of אנא ˀānnā appears at the end of each line, tacked on to the end of each verb נא -nnā. This is a sort of verbal exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. The word הושיעה hōšīˁa is a causative stem verb from the root meaning “to save” or “rescue,” and it means something like, “cause salvation” or simply “save.” So, we might translate it...

Complete post here.

Friday, April 3, 2015

*Almost* time to buy discounted Easter egg candy