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The Simplicity of Christmas

By Fr. George H. Shalhoub

It is truly a wonderful time of the year. As we approach the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the question on many minds, especially children is: what kind of gift am I getting for Christmas? And adults agonize over what kind of gifts are we giving? In between these questions, often asked with a sigh, we hear exhaustion from families as they pace the malls of America looking for the perfect gift to give. Gift giving with the right meaning and attitude is wonderful, but this message is often lost in the obligation of holiday, forgetting the “real reason for the season.”

The reality is still the same, Christmas has never changed. It is the birth of our Lord, and always will be. When we exchange gifts with one another, the gifts should be an expression of one’s own gratitude, to God first and then to our loved ones.

Winter 2017-2018 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Winter 2017–2018 issue of DIAKONIA, the newsletter of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, is now available online. This issue features the Diocese of New York, and the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic, and includes special messages from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH and His Grace Bishop THOMAS.

The issue also contains:

  • Introductions to the diocesan officers and coordinators
  • Numerous reports and photographs from parish chapters of Antiochian Women
  • Reflections on the spiritual life

And more! Download the PDF

Bishop Anthony's Pastoral Letter for Nativity, 2017

Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 2017

Dear beloved Clergy and Faithful of our Midwest Diocese,

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
ُ المسیح ُ وِلد!َ فمجدوه!

Home, family, friends, decorations that adorn both hearth and hearts, the texture, feel and color of love that, somehow, is renewed in us this time of year, is our greatest blessing. Christmas is composed of the rhythm, rhymes, and hymns that carry more of a presence than a present.

Jesus Christ comes into the world prepared for Him through the prayers of many generations of faithful people. His birth in a wilderness cave begins our rebirth in the wilderness of a world that has failed to find happiness, peace on earth, and goodwill toward men and women.

"Living Orthodoxy" Podcast Features Interview with Bishop Thomas

December 19, 2017

As a part of the "Faith Stories" series in the Living Orthodoxy podcast, His Grace Bishop Thomas (Joseph) of the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston and the Mid-Atlantic was interviewed in a recently posted podcast. Living Orthodoxy strives to provide "an invitation to a deeper life in Christ," and is hosted by St. Philip Orthodox Church in Souderton, PA.

The wide-ranging discussion with Bishop Thomas covers a variety of topics, including: a brief recap of his upbringing and background, his collaborative approach to ministry, his reflections on the history of the Antiochian Archdiocese, his observations about parish growth and ministry, and his advice to priests and parishioners.

Listen to Living Orthodoxy with Bishop Thomas.

 

Memory Eternal! + John George Burbules, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)

John George Burbules, COL USA (Ret.), 84, of Sellersburg, Indiana, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday morning, December 14, 2017 after a brief illness. He had a Christian ending to his life – painless, blameless and peaceful.

John’s life was simple. He served his God. He served his country. And he served his family and friends. Each with endless dedication and tremendous love. The rest of his story lives on with the thousands he’s touched.

A long-time member of St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky, he served in various offices on the Parish Council, and – for decades – taught Bible Study and Catechism classes. Those whose lives he touched remember his humility, grace and humor.

Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada Holds Annual Gala Event

Bishop Alexander with Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada membersBishop Alexander with Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada membersThe Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada held its annual gala event on November 4, 2017, at the Chateau Royal Reception Hall in Laval, Quebec, Canada. Presiding at the event was Bishop Alexander (Mufarrij), and he was joined by all the Montreal area clergy. Close to 500 people attended, among them dignitaries from all levels of government—federal, provincial, and municipal.

After Sayyidna Alexander blessed the food, Dr. Nadim Korban, President of the Antiochian Orthodox Union of Canada, spoke about the many accomplishments of the Union. Among them: helping the local Orthodox Scouts chapter, sending kids from all Montreal churches to attend the Camp Transfiguration summer camp, helping the elderly, aiding students in need in the community, and helping the newcomers from Syria.

Statement by Metropolitan JOSEPH on the Recent Announcement by President Trump Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Englewood, NJ/The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Statement by His Eminence, Archbishop Metropolitan JOSEPH, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of North America on the Recent Announcement by President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”. Luke 2:14

We in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church stand with religious and world leaders in expressing concern over the recent announcement by President Trump in which the United States officially recognizes the city of Jersusalem as the capital of Israel and will therefore be moving the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Our main concern is that this is a unilateral decision being made from outside of the framework of the Middle East peace process and that this will serve to undermine an already complex and difficult situation.

Youth Worker Conference to Feature the Theme of Gratitude

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, chairman of SOYO and the Department of Youth, encourages all parish and Archdiocese-wide youth leaders to attend the pan-Orthodox Youth Worker Conference in early 2018. Themed "The Place of Gratitude in Youth Ministry," the Conference is slated for February 1–3, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. More information is available here.

The Orthodox Youth Worker & Camping Conference is sponsored by the Jurisdictional Youth Departments of the Assembly of Bishops. The Youth and Camping Departments of the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA will host the 2018 conference.

 

Antiochian Village Summer Camp Registration Opens Monday, December 11

The Antiochian Village Summer Camp Program serves young people ages 9–17 who come to attend one of four two-week sessions. A primary goal of the Village camp program is to present to young people a living experience of the Holy Orthodox Faith in their relationship with God and other campers in a natural environment.

Registrations are now open for the 2018 summer camp season. The sessions run June 17 through August 10; two special sessions are Byzantine Chant Camp held from June 17 – June 29, and Iconography Camp, which runs from July 15 – July 23.  Slots fill up very quickly for this incredibly popular program, so act now! Additionally, it's not too early to think about sending your child to your local diocesan camp; visit The Department of Camping for more information.

ANTIOCHIAN VILLAGE CAMP REGISTRATION LINK

Message From the Department of Sacred Music for Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday

On this second Sunday in December, the Antiochian Archdiocese recognizes the contributions of all of our church singers and their vital role in communicating the teachings of the Church through melody and maintaining the beauty and dignity of our divine services.

It is through the work of hundreds of musicians across the Archdiocese that our experience in holy worship finds its voice.

Today the Department of Sacred Music joins with His Eminence and the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese to say "thank you" for all the time and love that so many are giving.

Metropolitan JOSEPH'S Letter for Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday

(To be read from the pulpit and printed in the bulletin)

Beloved Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, and Christ-loving Faithful of Our God-protected Archdiocese:

Blessings and greetings to all of you in the Name of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ!

One of the hallmarks of our Orthodox Christian faith is the beauty of our worship. Our ecclesiastical music, when done with prayer and skill, can elucidate the rich theology of our hymnography in such a way that worshippers can exclaim – as did the emissaries sent by Saint Vladimir – "we know not whether we are in heaven or on earth!"

Because we owe such a tremendous amount of gratitude to our choirs and our chanters, we set aside the second Sunday of December to honor them for the key role they play in our liturgical life.

December 2017 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

The Presence of Mary - The New Eve

While yet in Eden – the Garden of Paradise – our first Eve, in the innocent curiosity of a child, turned away from the wisdom and warning of the Word. This brought clarity to Moses as to the absolute need of our being clothed, by our Father, in the mortality of His flesh. And this clothing was a blessing unto salvation – a chastisement of His love for us.

Yet in His time, our Lord and Father, became Incarnate to fulfill His prophecies – of His coming to His children with a face and a voice. Yet in this, he asked the help of a young virgin, a handmaiden of the House of David, and a child of promise to Joachim and Anna – as was Isaac the son of Abraham. In gratitude and rejoicing, they gifted Mary to the Temple.

See the attached PDF files for this month's full teaching and to order the study booklets.

Assembly of Bishops Releases Study on Young Adults and Ministering to Them

Akron, OH young adult leaders with Bishop ANTHONYAkron, OH young adult leaders with Bishop ANTHONYThe study "Young Adults and Young Adult Ministries in American Orthodox Christian Parishes" has been released by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA. Download the study report here:

Executive Summary (PDF)
Full Report (PDF)

The subject of young Orthodox Church members was a major topic on the agenda of the recent Annual General Assembly Meeting (October 3–5, Garfield, NJ). This report was prepared in order to help the Assembly address our common concern about the engagement of youth and young adults in the lives of American Orthodox parishes. Examples of what the readers will find in the report include:

Which programs and activities are most crucial for attracting young adult church members?

Memory Eternal! + The Very Rev. Emile Hanna

The Very Reverend Father Emile Hanna, 84, fell asleep in the Lord on November 29, 2017. His wife of 55 years Claudette (Bourada), son David (Lisa Seaton), daughter Nadine (Jim Potts), and granddaughters Emily, Madeline, Ella, Grace and Lilly, were with him during his final peaceful moments. He was predeceased by his brothers Fayez, Samir, and George, and sisters Sadie and Yvette.

Father Emile was born in Aitha el Fakhar, Lebanon and immigrated to the United States in 1956. Within the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, Fr. Emile faithfully served parishes in Louisville, Kentucky; Montreal, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario; and Orinda, California. He will be remembered by all of his parishioners for his moving, beautiful liturgical voice.

The Trisagion prayers will be served on Monday, December 4, at 7 p.m., and the funeral service will be held on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, 501 Moraga Way, Orinda, CA, 94563. He will be laid to rest at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Lafayette. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made to the St. John Building Fund.

Memory Eternal! + Khouria Lynn Wilson

Khouria Lynn Wilson, wife of The Very Rev. Wayne Wilson of St. Barnabas Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa, CA, fell asleep in the Lord November 30, 2017. She had bravely fought cancer since March 2017 and has been an inspiration to all who witnessed her battle against this disease.

Khouria Lynn Diane Wilson was born September 21, 1950 in Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, where she lived until the age of 8 when her family, Frank, Barbara and sister Vicki moved to Orange County, California.

During her life, both before and during this time of trial, she has been a woman of faith, grace, generosity, hospitality and overall kindness to all.  She is survived by husband, Fr. Wayne, son Peter, daughter-in-law Alexandra, sister Vicki Oswald, sister-in-law Mary Salazar, and the extended family.

The service schedule will be as follows:

New Resource for Small Church Schools: The Mustard Seed @ Blogspot

 

 

 

 

 

 


Small church schools have unique needs. The Mustard Seed website was created several years ago as a way for the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education (AODCE) to support these needs. Through the vision and dedication of Catherine Sullivan, an Associate of the Department, materials and curriculum suitable for small church schools were selected and organized on The Mustard Seed website, with regular additions and updates.

Recent Ordinations and Elevations + September-October, 2017

From the November 2017 issue of The Word:

Ordained

REALE, Jeffrey (James), to the holy diaconate by Metropolitan JOSEPH and Bishop ANTHONY on September 10, 2015, at St. George Church, Akron, Ohio. He is assigned to the parish.

SHUMACK, Sub-deacon John, to the holy diaconate by Bishop BASIL on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at Holy Trinity Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is assigned to the parish.

SOLOF, Archdeacon Seraphim, to the holy priesthood by Bishop JOHN on October 22, 2017 at St. George Cathedral, Worcester, Massachusetts. He is assigned as assistant pastor of the Cathedral.

Elevated

AL-ASSAF, Father Youhanna, was elevated to the rank and dignity of Archpriest by Metropolitan JOSEPH and Bishop ANTHONY on September 10, 2017, at St. George Church, Akron, Ohio.

LeMASTERS, Priest Philip, was elevated to the rank and dignity of Archpriest by Bishop BASIL on Sunday, October 8, 2017, at St. Luke Church, Abilene, Texas.

Ordo 2018, Western Rite Liturgical Guide, Available for Purchase

Ordo 2018 (the liturgical guide for Western Rite parishes) is now available for purchase through Lulu. There is a 40% discount on all Lulu products (except eBooks) which expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on November 30, 2017.

The Ordo contains the rubrics for praying the Benedictine office, the Mass (Divine Liturgy), and the daily lectionary for the English Office according to the use and calendar of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate.

Use this code when ordering to get the discount: CYBER40.

Order now

On Orthodox Christian Principles of Child Rearing: Principle 5: Teach the Joy of Obedience

Note: This series of blog posts will focus on principles important to Orthodox Christians who are raising children. The series will feature a closer look at Dr. Philip Mamalakis’ book, Parenting Toward the Kingdom: Orthodox Christian Principles of Child Rearing. Each week we will take a closer look at one section of the book, which is divided into 6 basic principles of child rearing. Find an overview blog post about the book here. We thank Dr. Mamalakis and Ancient Faith Publishing for giving us permission to share his wisdom with you in this way. Purchase your own copy of his book here.

Principle 5: Teach the Joy of Obedience

Dr. Mamalakis encourages his readers to teach their children the joy of obedience in chapters 14 and 15 of his book Parenting Toward the Kingdom. Chapter 14 focuses on the joy of obedience, and ch. 15 encourages parents to nurture a culture of listening. Parents need to be attuned to both to successfully teach their children the joy of obedience.

He begins the chapter about the joy of obedience by acknowledging that it is difficult to get our children to listen to us and to obey. He states that while obedience is important, it is not the end goal.

Concluding a Busy Training Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Department of Christian Education has had a busy 2017 training season. Eight churches hosted training sessions throughout the United States and Canada and included other area parishes.

St. Paul Orthodox Church, Brier, Washington hosted a Teacher Training II workshop on September 9 with Departmental Associates Sandy Mitchell and Anne Beach. Twelve elementary teachers and eight middle school/high school teachers profited from the one-day workshop.

St. Elias Cathedral, Ottawa, Ontario also hosted a Teacher Training II workshop on Saturday, September 23. Diocesan Coordinators Fr. Christopher Rigden-Briscall and Robert Snyder had 16 elementary teachers and 12 middle school/high school teachers in attendance. Fr. Christopher, the Diocesan Coordinator for Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York, also hosted a training at his home parish, Christ the Saviour in Waterloo, Ontario for five of his new teachers.

2017 Nativity Letter From Bishop Basil

The interior of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (built in AD 327 by St Helen)The interior of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (built in AD 327 by St Helen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


To the Christ-loving Priests, Deacons, Monastics and Lay Folk
of this God-protected Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss and the joyous festal proclamation:
          Christ is born – ولد ألمسيـح
          Χριστὸς Γεννᾶται – Христос рождается
          Hristos se rodi – Hristos se naşte

May God the All-holy Trinity grant you and your households the happiest of Feasts and a New Year filled with His abundant and rich blessings. With assurance of my continued love, prayers and blessings, I remain

In Christ the Incarnate Word of God,
+Bishop Basil

Metropolitan JOSEPH and Bishop NICHOLAS Preside at St. John's 30th Anniversary Weekend

View the photo gallery by Trent Terry

On the weekend of November 17–19, 2017, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH and His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS made their first visits to St. John Orthodox Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The occasion was the celebration of the parish's 30th anniversary as well as the blessing of the new St. Raphael Hall which was completed in November.

The joyous weekend included a visit to St. Jude Children's Hospital, a wonderful presentation explaining the vestments of the bishop to the children of the Church, and a banquet on Saturday evening in the brand new parish hall.

2017 Nativity Message from Bishop Thomas

NATIVITY OF CHRIST 2017

Thus all magic was dissolved and every bond of wickedness vanished; ignorance was abolished and the old kingdom was destroyed, since God was becoming manifest in human form for the newness of eternal life; what had been prepared by God had its beginning. Hence everything was shaken together, for the abolition of death was being planned.

– St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 19:3

At this great feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, these words from St. Ignatius the God-bearer of Antioch focus us powerfully on the purpose of the advent of the Savior Jesus. As we read in the Scripture, there was a proclamation to God's glory of "peace on earth, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14). But why? Why would the coming of Jesus mean peace and good will toward men? There does not seem to have been peace in the centuries that have passed since, and in our own time we certainly see no lack of ill will toward mankind from his fellow men.

Nativity Fast, 2017: Pastoral Letter of His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH

I behold a strange and wonderful mystery: the cave a heaven, the Virgin a cherubic throne, and the manger a noble place in which hath laid Christ the uncontained God. Let us, therefore, praise and magnify Him. †Hiermos of the 9th Ode of the First Canon of Christ's Nativity

Beloved Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, and Christ-loving Faithful of our God-protected Archdiocese,

I greet you with love and joy as we begin this season of preparation for the Nativity in the Flesh of Our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Today, the Holy Church calls us to prepare for the feast by fasting, prayer, and repentance. The surrounding culture calls us to prepare as well – but by decorating, shopping, and hosting parties. One of the most common questions our clergy receive during this time of year is: Why are we in a period of repentance when the rest of the world is celebrating?

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