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The Role of the Priest as Spiritual Father in the Orthodox Spiritual Life

By Bishop Thomas Joseph and Peter Schweitzer

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As a way of life rather than a religion, Orthodoxy presumes and presupposes a particular worldview that is unique and Christ-centered.  It is a way of being in the world, a way of interacting with our brothers and sisters as well as the entire cosmos.  It is in this context that I would like to share a few thoughts about the priest’s spiritual fatherhood and the mode of its expression in the Church. 

The notion of spiritual fatherhood has a long and venerable tradition within the holy Orthodox Church.  We find Saint Paul reminding the people of Corinth of his spiritual fatherhood and paternal care for the people of Corinth. “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in   Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me."  In reminding the Corinthians of his spiritual fatherhood, Saint Paul affirms the generative nature of the role.  The fruit of their paternal guidance is healthy Christians who are freed from the passions and illnesses associated with sin.

Book Review: Removing Barriers

Removing Barriers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Making Your Parish More Disability Friendly (a Faithtree Resource)

By Anna-Sarah Farha

Take time to purposefully consider whether or not your parish is disability-friendly…Once you have given thought to the subject, you’ll likely be aware that there are many areas of parish life to evaluate when determining whether any barriers are present which could prevent full participation for a person or family living with a disability. Barriers can be physical, attitudinal, or even programmatic. (Programmatic Barrier: “any program that cannot be accessed by persons with disability has a barrier that must be considered and intentionally removed.” page 47) So, after completing the analysis of where your parish lands on the disability-friendliness scale, now begins the task of removing existing barriers through education and physical changes. The book Removing Barriers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Making Your Parish More Disability Friendly (a Faithtree Resource), is available to guide your efforts from an Orthodox Christian perspective.

April 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Story of Lazarus: "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall not die." 

In preparation for Jesus re-entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and His call to meet Him at His lifegiving Cross – His Banquet Feast Table – the Lord offers the eye-opening events surrounding Lazarus, who became sick unto death. The one Jesus called from his tomb, after four days dead.

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, Jesus – the promised Christ and Word Who became Incarnate – makes it clear to those with ears that have heard, to now gain the eyes to grasp that Jesus – in His Being – is Light, Life, and author of Resurrection. Note in John 11:3-4, He says, "This sickness is not for death , but for the glory of God , that the Son of God might be glorified through it." May His Incarnational Wisdom become our Instruction and pathway to salvation.

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

2018 Paschal Letter to the Diocese from His Grace Bishop BASIL

Beloved and Christ-loving Clergy, Monastics and Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and MidAmerica:

I embrace and greet you with a holy kiss in the Name of the Resurrected Theanthropos Jesus Christ, and, together with you and Orthodox Christians throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim that Christ is risen! Christós anésti! Al-masíh qaam! Christós voskrésse! Hristós a înviát! Crísto ha resucitádo!

As we delight in the brilliance of the Resurrection, the dawn of the New and Eighth Day, I offer for your consideration the following words of the late Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, the Most Reverend ANTHONY Bloom (1914-2003):

For the Apostles, Great Friday was the last day of the week and the last day of life as they had known it; on the following day, the day which preceded the Resurrection, the darkness was as dense, as obscure, as impenetrable as it had been on Great Friday, and if the Resurrection had not happened, all days of the year and all the days of their life would have been days of total darkness, days when God was dead, when God had been conquered, when God had been definitely and radically exiled from the community of men.

On the Liturgical Year for Teachers: Pascha and Pentecost

This series of blog posts will offer basic information and resources regarding the liturgical year. It is our hope that Sunday Church School teachers will find this series helpful as they live the liturgical year with their students. The series will follow the church year in sections, as divided in the book The Year of Grace of the Lord: a Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church by a monk of the Eastern Church. May God bless His Church throughout this year!


The time of Easter and Pentecost is a season of great rejoicing in the Orthodox Christian Church. In this part of the liturgical year, we celebrate Our Lord’s glorious resurrection, His ascension, and preparing our hearts for His sending of the Holy Spirit to us at Pentecost. Each of these events has a feast of its own in our liturgical year, because of their great importance.

Easter (as it is called by the monk who wrote The Year of Grace of the Lord, though many of us refer to this feast as Pascha) is a feast in its own category: it is the Feast of Feasts, and is too important to be included with the other twelve feasts of the liturgical year. And rightly so, for it celebrates a victory like no other!

Paschal Greeting 2018, His Grace Bishop THOMAS

GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA 2018

Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics,
and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

The bright glory of Christ's resurrection dawns upon all humanity and all of creation is renewed and redeemed. Through our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, we become heirs to His kingdom and capable of union with the Almighty and thrice-holy God. This is the culmination and purpose of our spiritual struggle during Great Lent. We began the period of the Fast with the words of the Psalmist, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." (Psalm 136) To the extent we engaged in the ascetical struggle of Great Lent, we bear within us the joy that comes from our return to our true home-union with God.

In his Paschal Orations, Saint Gregory the Theologian reminds us that our spiritual efforts continue and intensify in the glow of Paschal joy.

Spring 2018 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Spring 2018 issue of DIAKONIA, the newsletter of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, is now available online. This issue highlights the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, and includes a special message from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH.

The issue also contains:

  • Introductions to the diocesan officers and coordinators
  • Numerous reports and photographs from parish chapters of Antiochian Women
  • News from the NAB

And more! Download the PDF

Announcing the 2018 Western Rite Vicariate Conference

The biennial conference of the Western Rite Vicariate will be held Tuesday, August 7 through Friday, August 10, 2018, at St. Peter Orthodox Church in Fort Worth, Texas.

Metropolitan JOSEPH will preside at all liturgical services and will be the keynote speaker.

Under the theme “Celebrating our Western Orthodox Culture,” the conference will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the Western Rite Vicariate by Patriarch ALEXANDER III and Metropolitan ANTONY. Particular attention will be drawn to the constituting Edict from Metropolitan ANTONY (of thrice-blessed memory) at the Archdiocese Convention in 1958.

Metropolitan Joseph will be joined by Bishop JOHN, the Auxiliary Bishop for the Western Rite, and the Very Reverend Edward Hughes, Vicar General for the Western Rite.

Elinor Bourjaily College Scholarship Application

Gail Malaniak of St. Matthew the Evangelist Orthodox Church writes:

In 2018, the Elinor Bourjaily College Scholarship Application is being sent digitally to all parishes, and then forwarded to individual college students in each parish.

Due to our church fire, it would be best for the students to submit their completed applications digitally as well. However, a P.O. Box is included on the forms if they prefer to send them through the U.S. Postal service. All information for submitting the applications is on the enclosed forms.

Thank you for your help and I pray you have a Blessed Lenten Season. Please keep our parish in your prayers. May Elinor's memory be eternal!

 

2018-2019 Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships Available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Applications for two scholarships administered by the Department of Philanthropy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are now available to students from Orthodox Churches affiliated with the Assembly of Bishops. The Malta Scholarship is for undergraduate studies, and the Paleologos Scholarship is awarded for graduate work of a non-theological nature. Each of these scholarships was established through generous gifts from dedicated Greek Orthodox Christians who wanted to provide financial assistance towards the education of young people from the Orthodox Christian community.

Applications can be downloaded from the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at www.goarch.org (on the spotlight section on the home page). For more information, please email scholarships@goarch.org or call 212-774-0283. The deadline for submitting an application for these scholarships is May 4, 2018.

2018 Pastoral Greeting From Bishop THOMAS on the Feast of the Annunciation

March 25, 2018

Feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

"Be it done unto me according to thy word." These are words of the Most Holy Theotokos in response to the angel Gabriel's announcement. These are the nine words that erased the disobedience of our forefathers in the Garden of Eden and ushered in the advent of our salvation. Our holy father John Chrysostom remarks, "An angel speaks with a virgin, because a woman
spoke to a serpent."

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker proclaims: "But in the holy Virgin alone is the fall of that (first mother) repaired" (First Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary). It is in her obedience to the will of God that the age of salvation is announced and proclaimed to all the world. Holy obedience to the will of God is a foretaste of the promise of the blessed life of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Diocese of Miami and the Southeast Winter Retreat

DMC DOMSE Winter Retreat 2018 Committee MembersDMC DOMSE Winter Retreat 2018 Committee Members

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an effort to continually improve, the DMC DOMSE Winter Retreat Committee wanted to get your feedback about the event that was held on January 25 - 28 @ St. Elias Orthodox Church (Atlanta, GA). Survey will be open from March 15–April 15, 2018. 

Please access the survey here: https://www.research.net/r/WinterRetreat2018

The Diocese of Miami and the Southeast has had a year of change. In Ecclesiastes we are reminded that there is “[a] time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” In 2017 our diocese experienced this verse firsthand: we said a heartfelt goodbye to our beloved Sayedna ANTOUN, our first diocesan bishop – for many of us the only bishop we’ve ever known; we also ushered in a new era by welcoming Sayedna NICHOLAS back to the southeast as our new diocesan bishop. As with all changes, this transition has been seasoned with both tears and joy.

Our first mission as a diocese with our new bishop was to craft a Winter Delegates Meeting, so our work began.

20th Annual Midwest Diocese Basketball Tournament is a Slam Dunk

On January 19-21, 2018, St. George Church of Canton, Ohio hosted the 20th Annual Midwest Diocese Basketball Tournament. Twenty years ago, Canton's Teen SOYO initiated this tournament and it has grown over the years to become a mini-convention drawing youth from around the diocese. His Grace Bishop ANTHONY presided over the weekend, ordaining Deacon Anthony Westerman of Louisville, KY during Sunday's Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Bishop ANTHONY also presented the Archdiocese Meritorious Service Award to Mrs. Sadie Kannam of Canton on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH.

Deacon Anthony presented a retreat on Friday evening titled "The Armor of God," tying in his own personal experience as a U.S. Marine who is now looking forward to become a future chaplain in the U.S. Navy. On Saturday, basketball games were held among three divisions with much excitement amid cheers and encouragement. Following Great Vespers on Saturday evening, Canton SOYO President Mareena Michael welcomed everyone to the Awards Banquet and Hafli that topped off a beautiful day of great sportsmanship and fellowship.

Gleanings From a Book: Everything Tells Us About God by Katherine Bolger Hyde

From the first glance, this beautiful book invites engagement. The cover sets the tone for the book: it creates an expectation for beauty, variety, and a joyful reveling in God’s generosity with His people. When the reader opens the book, the end paper catches their eye. It is a golden, nearly-completed puzzle. But why is that one piece missing? And what does this have to do with the title? Without reading a word, the reader is already curious and determined to know more!

The book begins by telling the reader that the world is like a giant puzzle. God made this puzzle to tell us about Himself. He designed each piece - each part of the world - to help us learn some of His secrets. When we really look at the pieces, we can learn about Him through them!

March 2018 Newsletter

Dear friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Call to Great Lent: a call home to Him and His wisdom 

As we enter the heart of the Great Lent, the faithful of the Church are called to the remembrance of the Old Testament words, works, and teachings. They are of extreme importance if we seek to grow in our understanding of the Word Who became Incarnate. For He is the "I AM, the I AM" revealed to Moses in Exodus 3 – the divine Person named Jesus and called the Christ.

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

Women's Month Message from NAB President Dianne O'Regan

Greetings from the Antiochian Women, and Welcome to Antiochian Women Month!

The North American Board (“NAB”) of the Antiochian Women has an exciting array of information to share with you, both on the newly rolled-out Archdiocesan website and in your individual churches. 

Check out our webpage with just a few of our activities:

  • •Materials for our 2018 NAB Project, “Strengthening the Ministries of our Church – Vocations,” including a letter from His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, our Project poster (in various sizes/formats), and a message to be read by a woman to your congregation.
  • •The NAB Scholarship Coordinator’s Cover Letter and Grant Application.

FOCUS on Love: Feeding Hungry Children

January 23, 2018

Dear Esteemed Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is in our midst!

I am writing to update you on the Antiochian Women's Common "Act of Mercy" for 2018.
Since last year's Act of Mercy was such a great success, we will continue our partnership with FOCUS North America once again. As a reminder, our Act of Mercy is entitled, "FOCUS ON LOVE, Feeding Hungry Children," which provides food for undernourished children in the United States. FOCUS has created a link as well as additional information to help with its efforts. There is a direct link for the Antiochian Women on the FOCUS website. There, you will find an informational video about where our efforts are going and the children we are helping.

I have also attached a pamphlet on how FOCUS serves impoverished children; a small, printable postcard about the Act of Mercy; and, lastly, a page with instructions on how to make a donation. Donations may be made online at the link provided above or via a check mailed directly to FOCUS. Local chapters are also encouraged to hold a fundraiser to promote our Act of Mercy. I would also ask each Diocesan Humanitarian Coordinator to compile a report of the contributions from each church in her respective Diocese, and forward it to me no later than June 30 so that we may present the final figures at our NAB Summer Meeting.

I would respectfully ask that you distribute this information to all of your local chapters as soon as possible.

Summer Program for Young Orthodox Scholars

St. Basil Center for Orthodox Thought and Culture at Eastern University invites juniors and seniors in high school to apply for The Summer Program for Young Orthodox Scholars (SPYOS). SPYOS provides promising high school and transfer students the opportunity to earn college credit while challenging themselves intellectually and spiritually. Program dates are July 6-14, 2018. For more information or to apply visit the website.

Confronting Dragons: Christian Hope in Tolkien and Fantasy Literature

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth appears at once breathtakingly beautiful yet violently marred. The sublime emerges from Tolkien’s world having been created by a beauty-loving God; the scar from the rebellion of the angelic ranks against God. This rebellion is played out among the peoples of Middle-earth—Elves, Dwarves, and Men—who languish in a twilight world enduring, in Tolkien’s words, “a long defeat.” Despite this, Tolkien did not create a world destined for a tragic end, but rather one filled with hope. Christians likewise confront dragons in many forms and at many turns. What do the elves, dwarves, and men and women of Middle-earth teach us about the life of faith and virtue? How can we as Christians profit from reading fantastic and mythic literature? And should Christians mimic Tolkien by creating their own worlds that are both unreal but also thoroughly Christian? These questions (and many more) will be the focus of "Confronting Dragons: Christian Hope in Tolkien and Fantasy Literature.”

St. Paul Church Welcomes Bishop NICHOLAS to Naples

By Fr. Paul Girgis and Dr. Elias Hebeka

During the weekend of February 10, 2018, the St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church community in Naples, FL was infused with a tremendous energy through the visitation of their shepherd in Christ, His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS. This episcopal visit was Sayidna’s first to St. Paul as Diocesan Bishop, making it a fitting time to officially welcome him, while commemorating the founding of our lovely parish twenty-one years ago.

On Saturday, immediately upon his arrival, Sayidna spent several hours meeting with parishioners, our Antiochian Women, and the Parish council. The St. Paul community then gathered for a prayerful Great Vespers service and closed the day with a very enjoyable dinner together.

Antiochian.org Launches New Design, Mobile-Friendly Resources

Beloved clergy and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese:

Greetings in the Name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. We pray this letter finds you well at the start of our Lenten journey. Wednesday, February 28, 2018 will mark a new beginning, a relaunch, for the Archdiocesan website: www.antiochian.org. It will have a much cleaner look and feel, and it is now friendlier for mobile devices for faster access to its wealth of materials, news and resources.

Without doubt, the most-accessed resource on the website is the Online Liturgical Guide, which provides weekly – and sometimes daily – word-for-word texts for the divine services, along with imbedded hyperlinks to corresponding sheet music. The OLG is now part of something bigger and better: a liturgical calendar that also features daily readings and listings of saints, as well as fasting guidelines and the popular spiritual “Thought for the Day” from the Church Fathers and our own Metropolitan JOSEPH. The Daily Liturgical Texts of the OLG now appear, as available, on the liturgical calendar. Accessing all of these resources takes just a few simple steps.

Invitation From The Very Rev. Paul D. O’Callaghan, St. George Cathedral Dean

The St. George Cathedral parish community is celebrating its Centennial in 2018. Although the community had its beginning with the arrival of Orthodox Lebanese to Wichita in 1895, it was 1918 before the community would have a church home. On April 5 of that year, several trustees of the newly forming parish concluded the purchase of a small clapboard church at 218 Handley St. from the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. St. George Church was born!

Throughout this Centennial Year, our community is commemorating the history of our parish and the people who have been a part of it. As we do so, we are not only looking to the past, but to our future – the next 100 years!

The highlight of this auspicious year will be our Centennial Celebration on the weekend of May 5-6. Metropolitan JOSEPH plans to join us, and he and Bishop BASIL will serve the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, May 6. The Celebration will conclude with a festal banquet that evening. Please see the enclosed flyer.

St. George Cathedral belongs not only to its congregation, but to all of us in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. Thus it is our pleasure to invite you to join us for this joyous occasion. Please publicize the event to your congregation; reservation information will be forthcoming. Plan now to celebrate with us!

Archdiocese Policy on Receiving People into the Church

Englewood, NJ • His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH • February 22, 2018

In response to questions that have been raised recently, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH reaffirms the long-standing policy of the Antiochian Archdiocese, which is in accordance with the practice of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, regarding the reception of converts to the Faith. To be clear, Holy Baptism in the Name of the Holy Trinity, followed by Holy Chrismation, is the normative means by which one is initiated into the Holy Church. When receiving those coming into Holy Orthodoxy from religious confessions who profess a belief in the Holy Trinity and baptize with water in the Name of Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Church from ancient times has done so through means of Holy Chrismation or a profession of the Faith – depending on the circumstances.

In other words, when baptism is necessary, there is a baptism. When Chrismation is necessary there is a Chrismation. When a profession of the Faith is necessary, there is a profession of the Faith. When questions arise requiring discernment as to how a person is to be received into the Church, a priest must consult with the local bishop.

Metropolitan JOSEPH to Lead Young Adult Pilgrimage

In the summer of 2018, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH will be leading a pilgrimage to Orthodox Thessaloniki, Kosovo, and Serbia. Titled "Spiritual Awakening," the trip is slated for June 14–26, 2018, with a registration deadline of March 15. Traveling through holy lands with a hierarch at the head of the trip often opens "the pearly gates" through unplanned and grace-filled opportunities unique to this type of adventure.

The pilgrimage has been especially created for young adults and professionals aged 21–35. The trip will be limited to 30 people and will include a few clergy. Baptized Orthodox Christians of any jurisdiction may participate, especially those who are interested in exploring Orthodox history, art, architecture, and music, all within the fellowship of the Church. Young adults who enjoy networking with peers abroad and have an interest in humanitarian opportunities will enjoy this life-changing opportunity. Pilgrims will enjoy all that these holy lands have to offer in an intense schedule of touring that will also still leave time for fun. The itinerary includes time for services, prayer, exploration, relaxation, and building bonds with other Orthodox professionals. Register today to receive a detailed itinerary!

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