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Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
Great Lent 2017
All mortal life is but one day, so it is said, to those who labour with love. There are forty days in the Fast: let us keep them all with joy [Canticle IX of the Canon, Monday of the First Week].
To the Venerable Monastics, Reverend Clergy and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:
As the gates of repentance of Great Lent open to us and we take delight in the pleasures of the Fast, I ask your forgiveness for all the ways that I have offended or disappointed you, my brothers and sisters in Christ. The cross that each of us bears is one chosen especially for us according to our needs, but we recall the words of the Apostle, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (I Corinthians 10:13). I am grateful for your prayers, support and labors on behalf of the Orthodox Church in America and for your prayerful remembrance of her Primate and the Holy Synod.
During these days, I especially recall the blessings of this week at the Monastery of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk when the majority of the time, for both monastics and seminarians, was spent participating in the full and rich divine services offered. My hope is that each of you can find some time this week to preserve for yourselves some moments of spiritual rest and renewal, even as you attend to the necessary tasks of family life, work, school, and other responsibilities.
I have found the following passage from the Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas to be an encouraging reminder of how the transformative effects of our liturgical and spiritual disciplines can be found universally throughout history. This great saint offered the following words in his 6th homily for the Wednesday of the First Week of Great Lent:
For the last two weeks our city was given over to gluttony and lack of self-restraint, and straight away we had troubles, shouting, fights, disturbances, shameless songs and obscene laughter. But this week when the fast came it made everything more honourable. It took us away from frivolity’s expensive cares, stopped us toiling for the sake of our useless stomachs, set us instead to works of repentance and persuaded us not to labor for the food which perishes but for the food which endures to eternal life.
Where are now the slaughter of animals, the aroma of roasting meat, the variety of sauces and the cooks’ best endeavours? Where are the men who run around the streets and pollute the air with their impure voices? Where are those who beat the drum and make music around houses and tables, and their devotees who join in with applause and eat their fill of the food set before them to the accompaniment of kettledrums and flutes? Where are those who spend their days and nights at parties, who are always looking for places to drink, who keep each other company in drunkenness and the shameful acts that result from it? Once the fast was proclaimed all these evils went away and all things good took their place. Instead of disgusting songs, mouths now sing holy psalms. Instead of obscene laughter, there is salutary sorrow and tears. instead of undisciplined outings and wanderings, everyone takes one and the same way to Christ’s Holy Church. If unlimited eating produces a dense swarm of sins, fasting is the root of all virtues and the foundation of God’s commandments.
We may not live in Thessalonica in the 14th century, but I know that every Orthodox Christian has experienced the change that takes place during the First Week of Great Lent, both inwardly and outwardly. Though we are a small and humble Church on a very large continent, I pray that we all may continue to bear witness to Christ in this fallen world and that, by God’s grace, the transfiguration of our hearts, our communities and our society by the light of Christ and the resurrection, will continue for the life of the world and it’s salvation.
Please forgive me and pray for me, a sinner.
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
The historic St. Louis Union Station Hotel will be the site of the 19th AAC.
A variety of issues including possible themes and youth participation related to the Orthodox Church in America’s 19th All-American Council [AAC] topped the agenda of the Preconciliar Commission during its second meeting on Friday, February 24, 2017. See related story.
The 19th AAC is slated to convene July 23-27, 2018 at Saint Louis, MO’s landmark Union Station Hotel.
In his opening reflections, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon emphasized the importance of involving youth in the Council in a meaningful way. He also offered insights into proposed themes and the AAC’s general operations.
Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, reported that a proposed theme and logo will be presented for approval to the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops at their March 2017 Spring Session. He also reported that a contract had been signed for a dedicated AAC web site, slated to be launched this summer. Related AAC projects in process include a video on the Council theme, diocesan videos, possible workshops themes, and a host of functions including a breakfast for clergy wives and a breakfast for youth and the members of the Holy Synod. He further noted that the Sitka Icon of the Mother of God and the Myrrhstreaming Icon of Saint Anne will be present during the Council, as will the reproduction of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God recently enshrined in Chicago’s Holy Trinity Cathedral. AAC attendees also will have an opportunity to view artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA.
With regard to communications, daily video updates and live-streaming of AAC plenary sessions once again will be made available.
Deacon Peter Ilchuk reported on the finalization of additional contracts, coordination with the Local Committee, and other matters related to the planning process. Archpriest Timothy Sawchak and Robert Butchko, clergy and lay co-chairs respectively, noted that all local committee chairs have been filled and that the response for volunteers has been strong.
Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, reported on the current budget for the AAC. She related the recommended finance plan that involves billing each diocese for AAC assessments directly, rather than billing individual parishes as in years past. She stressed that parishes should budget appropriately for AAC expenses. Fees were set for AAC observers and other attendees, although retired clergy and widowed clergy wives will no longer have to pay a fee to attend.
Priest Benjamin Tucci outlined the proposed youth program. He will begin to recruit and vet volunteers in the months ahead. A database of youth delegates is being planned. Potential donors to offset the cost of the youth program are being explored. Becky Tesar shared plans for the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America’s annual convention, slated to be held concurrently with the AAC.
Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky related his conversations with some of the recommended AAC speakers, while a list of ecumenical and interchurch observers was reviewed.
Additional information will be made available after the Holy Synod of Bishops’ Spring Session.
A photo gallery highlighting Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrations and processions held on the first Sunday of Great Lent—March 5, 2017—will again be featured on the web site of the Orthodox Church in America in the near future.
Photos of regional, deanery and parish celebrations should be sent as jpeg attachments to email@example.com. No more than three photos from any given celebration should be submitted. Please do not send links to on-line galleries, Vimeo postings, etc. Only photos sent as attachments will be posted.
Please include the name and location of the host parish, the celebration’s sponsor [deanery, diocese, clergy association, etc.], the name of the hierarch[s] present, the name of the main celebrant, and the name of the guest preacher within the body of the e-mail to which the photos are attached. Brief captions, especially for parish celebrations, are acceptable as well.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 10, 2017.
The Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is inviting graduate and recent post-graduate students to apply for its fellowships at the United Nations. (show less)
Scout Sunday is an annual event among all faiths which recognize the good work that is done by Scouts in our religious communities. The observance of Scout Sunday tradition was started years ago to make people in the church aware of Scouting, and to allow Scouts to live out of what is pledged each week. (show less)
The Assembly of Bishops has designated January 15, 2017 as Orthodox Christian Network "Share the Light Sunday". Now more than ever, we need to focus on the next generation of Orthodox leaders. The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has decided to take this concern and address it in a real and impactful way. In addition to our strong media ministry presence on multiple platforms, we will spend 2017 focusing on identifying and highlighting thirty Orthodox individuals who exhibit strong leadership and mentor skills in their community and who are under the age of thirty. (show less)
A thirty-seven-year-old mother of two, Catherine, living in the northern part of Greece has reported a miracle attributed to a copy of Dochariou Monastery’s miraculous “She Who is Quick to Hear” Icon. A copy of the icon had been brought to the northwestern Greek village of Arta, where Catherine lives, and she often went to light a candle and pray before the icon, reports the site Ukrainian Orthodox Heritage on Mt. Athos.
For eleven years Catherine had no children, and she entreated the Mother of God “She Who is Quick to Hear” to help her conceive, promising that if the child would be a girl they would name her Maria. Her prayer was heard, but she bore a son, named after his grandfather, George. Nineteen months later a daughter was born, and while Catherine had not forgotten her promise, she called the child Vasiliki, in honor of her mother-in-law.
However, while the first child was delivered easily, Catherine had to have a C-section in a Thessaloniki hospital for her second child. The child was not well and was lying in the intensive care unit. Some of Catherine’s spiritual brothers contacted the Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Thassos and Dochariou on Mt. Athos, and they told her that she must immediately baptize the child herself.
She again turned to the Mother of God “She Who is Quick to Hear” for healing for her child, and baptized her thrice in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Trinity with the name Maria. As Catherine states, from that time everything changed. They returned home to Arta with a healthy baby girl after just one week, and now there are no health problems. Doctors admit that the case is a miracle.
Catherine expressed her deep gratitude to Abbot Gregory of Dochariou, who told her that the most important thing now is to have the child baptized by a priest with the name Maria, which they plan to do soon.
More than a hundred families of Egyptian Christians had left their houses in the town of Al Arish in Northern Sinai, fleeing from the extremists, Archpriest of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Ismailia Governorate Kirillus Ibrahim told Sputnik on Monday.
CAIRO (Sputnik) — Earlier this week, Egyptian media reported that at least 38 Christian families had fled Sinai due to increasing attacks by extremists. The families have been relocated to the neighboring Ismailia province and are being provided help by the Coptic church and the government.
“Some 100 families have left Al Arish now. They have left until the conditions in the town go back to normal. Then they will return home,” the clergyman said.
In January, the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the Prime Minister’s Office issued a travel warning recommending the country’s citizens to leave the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula over a high terror threat.
The jihadist insurgency in northern Sinai started in 2013, shortly after the Egyptian army led by current President Abdel Fattah Sisi has overthrown then-president Mohamed Morsi. Police and security forces have been the target of deadly attacks by Islamists in the area.
Sinai’s militants pledged allegiance to Daesh (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia) in November 2014, taking the name of Wilayat Sinai. Most of the attacks by the group were carried out in North Sinai, but it also claimed responsibility for attacks in other regions, including the country’s capital Cairo.
Hieromonk Seraphim Rose Pic – orthodoxchurchquotes.files.wordpress.com
Church of Serbia – 27/2/17
In answer to numerous requests from readers, the rule of fasting is given for each day of the year. Where no indication of fast is given, and during “fast-free weeks,” all foods may be eaten (except during Cheese-fare Week, when meat alone is forbidden every day). Where “fast day” is indicated alone, the fast is a strict one, with no meat, eggs, dairy products, fish, wine or oil to be eaten. Where, underneath “fast day,” is indicated “wine and oil allowed,” the fast is relaxed for the sake of a feast day or vigil, to allow eating of these foods. Where “fish, wine and oil allowed” is indicated, then all three of these foods may be eaten.
The rule of fasting, which is dependent on the Church’s cycle of feasts and fasts, is contained in the Church’s Typicon, chiefly in chapters 32 and 33, and is repeated in the appropriate places of the Divine service books, the Menaia and Triodion. In general, fast days for Orthodox Christians are all Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year (except for fast-free periods), the four canonical fast periods of Great Lent, Nativity Fast, Apostles’ Fast, and Dormition Fast, and a few special days: the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14th) and the Beheading of the Forerunner (August 29th)—which, even though they are feast days, are also fast days (with wine and oil allowed) for the sake of the events commemorated thereon.
There are some local variations in the allowances of wine and oil, and sometimes of fish, and so the indications in the present Calendar cannot be uniformly applied everywhere. In particular, on the celebrations of the patronal feast of a parish or monastery, fish is generally allowed, and when a saint is honored with a service of Sung Doxology or Polyeleos rank, wine and oil are allowed. In the Russian Church, on the feast days of the more renowned Russian saints, such as St. Sergius of Radonezh and St. Seraphim of Sarov, and of wonderworking Icons of the Mother of God such as the Kazan and Vladimir Icons, of course, wine and oil are allowed (except during Great Lent), although this is not mentioned in the present Calendar because the Typicon leaves this to local practice, indicating only the fasts and allowances that are of general application. The meaning of the Typicon in its allowances is simple: the more one labors for the glorification of a saint or feast day, the more consolation one is allowed in food. For one who has become accustomed to the Orthodox fast, the allowance of oil on food, or fried foods, together with a little wine, is indeed a consolation, as well as a source of physical strength. Where the Typicon itself indicates two variant practices (as for a few of the weekdays of Great Lent), the present Calendar follows the Typicon’s preferred practice.
While most Orthodox Christians are perhaps aware of the general rule of fasting for Great Lent and the Dormition Fast (wine and oil allowed only on Saturdays and Sundays, except for a few feast days and vigils), many are probably not familiar with the precise rule governing the less severe fast of the Nativity and Apostles’ Fast. Therefore, we shall quote this rule, from Chapter 33 of the Typicon:
“It should be noted that in the Fast of the Holy Apostles and of the Nativity of Christ, on Tuesday and Thursday we do not eat fish, but only oil and wine. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we eat neither oil nor wine… On Saturday and Sunday we eat fish. If there occurs on Tuesday or Thursday a saint who has a Doxology, we eat fish; if on Monday, the same; but if on Wednesday or Friday, we allow only oil and wine. If it be a saint who has a Vigil on Wednesday or Friday, or the saint whose temple it is, we allow oil and wine and fish… But from the 20th of December until the 25th, even if it be Saturday or Sunday, we do not allow fish.”
In these two fasts, the fast for laymen is the same as that of many Orthodox monasteries, where Monday throughout the year is kept as a fast day in honor of the fleshless ones, the Angels.
This rule of fasting, to be sure, is not intended to be a “straight-jacket” for Orthodox believers, nor a source of pharisaical pride for anyone who keeps the letter of the Church’s law. It is rather the rule, the standard, against which each is to measure his own practice, and towards which one must always strive, according to one’s strength and circumstances. Whenever, for sickness or any other reason, one falls short of the rule, he applies to himself the spiritual medicine of self-reproach and strives to enter more fully into the spirit and discipline of fasting, which is indeed of great spiritual benefit to those who sincerely strive to follow it.
With this light that shines in our hearts we will also offer a witness through our observance of Lent and through our lives. As we know and experience God’s grace, others will see His offering of forgiveness. They will see the power of grace to transform life and bring healing and restoration. They will find salvation in Christ as the grace of God works in and through us to show all His redeeming love. (show less)
This period is one of constant contrition before the mystery of God that daily unfolds before us, the mystery of our salvation. This is why the opportunity granted to us with the Sacred Fast has a special characteristic: the renewal and vigilance of the soul that is called for during this time filled with divine exhortation and sanctity to become aware of the ephemeral and material, while gradually being transferred to the eternal and spiritual. (show less)