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Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement Meets at St. Vladimir's Seminary

Leaders of the various OISM groups gather around an icon of St. John [ST. VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY / YONKERS, N.Y.] From November 21–22, 2008, members of the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement (OISM) met on the campus St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS) in Yonkers, NY, for their semi-annual meeting. Since the 1960s OSIM has provided a forum for Orthodox Christian seminarians of various jurisdictions to enjoy fellowship and prayer, and to form bonds that will extend into their future ministries. It is run entirely by students from the participating seminaries, with support from each seminary’s respective faculty and administration.

Thirty students—from St. Vladimir’s Seminary; St. Herman's Seminary of Kodiak, AK; Holy Cross Seminary/Hellenic College of Brookline, MA; Holy Trinity Seminary of Jordanville, NY; and St. Tikhon's Seminary of South Canaan, PA— gathered in fellowship on the SVS campus and studied the life of St. John of Kronstadt, which provided the theme for the weekend meeting. The seminarians celebrated an Akathist to the saint in the seminary chapel and attended a related lecture delivered by Hierodeacon Ioaseph of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville.

Bishop THOMAS Visits Holy Ascension + Frazer, PA

Bp. THOMAS ordains Jason Flowers to Sub-Deaconate Georgianne Zouzoulas writes:

Our visit with His Grace, Bishop THOMAS over the weekend of November 14 to 16th was a wonderful way to begin the Nativity fast.  Our weekend began with Paraklesis prayers on Friday evening and the welcome of a new catechumen to our parish.  Vespers on Saturday night was followed by a dinner hosted by our Sisterhood of Saint Thekla.  On Sunday, we celebrated Orthros and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.   We were all present to celebrate the ordination of Jason Flowers to the sub deaconate by Bishop THOMAS.  The weekend concluded with a special presentation and gift by our children with a theme of "Shepherd and Sheep".  Our children's choir sung our Troparion to the Ascension, Let My Prayer Arise and O Give Thanks unto the Lord.

Care at the End of Life: What Orthodox Christianity has to Teach

by the Rt. Rev. Thomas Joseph, Bishop of Charleston West Virginia

2 December 2008

I. End-of-Life Decision-Making in a Post-Traditional Culture: Finding One’s Way to God

Orthodox Christianity offers orientation in the cosmos. More precisely, it leads us away from our passions and purifies our hearts so that we can be illumined by the uncreated energies of God and come into union with Him.[i] Contemporary man finds himself bereft of such orientation. Both his life and his death tend to be trivialized by being reduced to what can make sense without any recognition, much less experience, of transcendent meaning, purpose, and obligation. As a consequence, much reflection on end-of-life decision-making gives priority if not exclusive attention to comfort care, death with dignity, and preservation of personal autonomy until death. All of this is done without ever asking the foundational question, What was life really all about, much less the foundational spiritual question of how I should and can repent from a life that was poorly lived so as finally to turn in repentance to God. Properly directed care at the end of life is care that focuses on repentance. To talk about end-of-life decision-making and not to place centrally the urgent issue of repentance is to miss the target completely. Care at the end of life should offer a final opportunity to the dying person to find orientation. That is, end-of-life care must bring the dying person to repentance through a recognition of how the holy, indeed God, defines the meaning of the right, the good, and the virtuous. Good end-of-life care cannot be the product of a secular or philosophical bioethics. It must be the proclamation of a living theology. Orthodox Christianity teaches how to become oriented in life and to achieve a good death. What is important to be said cannot adequately be stated in secular terms.

The Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Chrismation

Download Word Document 

The Service of Baptism and Chrismation, which allows for the clerical, baptismal and sponsors names to be inserted, with special attention to rubrics for the clergy of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest.





The Tetrapodion is placed near the Baptismal Font (if movable). Upon it are placed the Gospel Book, the Icon of Theophany, the hand cross, two lit candles, Holy Chrism, olive oil, sponge, scissors, two candles for the sponsors, a Baptismal cross for the newly baptized(brought by family or sponsors). The censer should be nearby and the Font filled with warm water. The priest should vest in his exorasson and epitrachelion (some traditions the phelonion). If the deacon is present, he should vest in his exorasson and orarion (some traditions with sticharion). The child’s clothing removed, he/she should be wrapped in a large white towel. It is customary that the Prayers at the reception of the Catechumens be done at the entrance to the Church sanctuary and after reciting the creed proceeding towards the baptismal font. At least one of the godparents (the sponsor) should be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. The child’s head should be resting on the right arm of the sponsor and facing east.



The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

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The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

According to the Rite of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

The Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America




As the Bride enters the Church, a hymn to the Theotokos may be sung.

The following is from the Ninth Ode of the Paschal Canon which may be chanted in English and Arabic:

Chanter: The angel cried to the lady full of grace, rejoice, rejoice, O pure Virgin, again, I say rejoice; Thy Son is risen from the His three days in the tomb with himself He hath raised all the dead rejoice, rejoice O ye people.

Shine, Shine, Shine O new Jerusalem; the glory of the Lord hath shone on thee. Exalt thou, exalt and be glad O Zion, be radiant, O pure one, Theotokos, in the Resurrection, the Resurrection of thy Son.

The following hymn is the Ninth Ode of the Pentecost Canon for weddings outside the Paschal Season.

December 3, 2008 + The Fruit of Barrenness

by Very Rev. Stephen Rogers

from The Word, December 1999

In December, the landscape here around the church becomes stark, barren and seemingly lifeless. The lushness of the verdant countryside, vibrant in the summer with flowers, fruit and life, now lies dormant, appearing to be devoid of life.  Looking at the barren landscape, it is hard to imagine that it was recently teeming with life, and that, soon, it will again.

That scene outside the church window reflects our inner life as Christians as well. As we travel through life as Christians there are times of lush, spiritual fruit. There are periods of spiritual growth when our relationship with God sprouts forth blossoms of joy in a spiritual springtime.

There are also those times of barrenness. Times when, like the December landscape, our inner life seems to be barren, bearing neither fruit nor life. In these times of barrenness, when no life seems to dwell within us, we cry out longing for that spiritual fruit to blossom once again. We plead that God would rescue us from a state of being barren without spiritual fruit. We see barrenness as a state from which we must escape.

On the ninth day of this month, we hear such a cry from Anna, she who on this day becomes the mother of the Mother of God. On this day, the church celebrates the Conception of the holy Theotokos by the Righteous Anna, the mother of the Mother of God.

Thanksgiving: Our National Holy Day

Chaplain's Corner

by Fr. George Morelli

For all practical purposes, Thanksgiving Day is the closest we come to a national holy day in the United States. Historically, it has been celebrated with everything from religious thankfulness, food, frolic and of course modern commercialism. Despite this, it is still a time for many Americans to ‘count their blessings’ and get together with family and/or friends.

Sometimes our approach to life stops us from ‘counting our blessings and giving thanksgiving to God. Psychologists call this pessimism.

2009 DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat


The 37th Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat

February 3-6, 2009

The Spiritual Life Center – 7100 East 45th Street, North – Wichita, Kansas – (316) 744-0167

"All Scripture is Given by Inspiration of God"

BishopMARKThe Right Reverend Bishop MARK of Toledo and the Diocese of the Midwest has graciously accepted the invitation to be the featured speaker at the 37th Annual DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood Retreat, which will be hosted at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, KS, Tuesday through Friday, February 3rd through 6th, 2009.  The theme of the retreat is "All Scripture is Given by Inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16a).

Download a detailed schedule (PDF format)

Smart Parenting XV. When Your School Age Child Brings up a Conflict Between Church and Science

by Fr. George Morelli

The measure of all things is Christ.

Problem: While on Christmas vacation from college, my daughter told me that one of her professors said that sex outside marriage was not against the "natural law." In fact, there was no "natural law" - but "anything goes." I have tried to bring up my children to be good Orthodox Christians. What am I to do?

The Hypnotic Mall

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

The first thing we saw was a blinking sign warning us not to park on the interstate, and then a helicopter circling overhead. As we took the exit, signs assured us that all lanes led to parking, and every block or so a guy in security uniform was windmilling his arms, coaxing the herd of cars to creep forward. All the parking lots were full, their entrances blocked off by police cars. We followed the herd off the road to a vast field of gravel and hardened mud, and finally shut off the engine. Far in the distance we could see it, glowing like the Emerald City of Oz: Arundel Mills Mall.

Discovering Medieval Monasticism in Georgia: A Guided Tour

12th century royal cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, Mtskheta regionMonastary Tour 2009

Seeking: World travelers, medievalists, musicians, self-educators, spiritual pilgrims, and adventurers of all varieties for an immersion experience at the crossroads of Europe and Asia: welcome to Caucasus Georgia!

In its fourth season, join an exploration of Georgia's oldest monasteries, founded in the sixth century by Christian ascetics from Syria. Be among the first westerners to rediscover the ancient architecture, frescoes, and acoustics of these remarkable monuments, set amidst rolling vineyards, towering peaks, and the desert vistas of the Caspian basin. Led by chant team Luarsab Togonidze, John A. Graham, and Aurelia Shrenker, this unique tour seeks to investigate the sounds and wonders of medieval Georgia, while presenting the world-famous hospitality and charm of modern Georgia.

Tour Dates: June 25th – July 5th, 2009

For more information, please visit the Georgian Chant web site.

Many Years to our Brother and Concelebrant His Beatitude JONAH

His Beatitude Met. JONAH Bishop MARK writes:

As an honored guest of the OCA Hierarchs I was blessed to be with my brother Hierarchs of the OCA and witness the Lord moving in their midst!  Thank God our brother and sisters in Christ have remained unified through their struggles and emerged, strong, steadfast and full of hope.  May our Lord grant unto His Beatitude JONAH, Many, Many, Many Years.  May He also grant unto each of their beloved Hierarchs many years! 

November 26, 2008 + Come and See

by Very Rev. Stephen Rogers

from The Word, November 2000

On the final day of November, the Church celebrates the feast of the “All-praised and First-called Apostle Andrew.” Andrew, a disciple of St. John the forerunner and Baptist, was with St. John along with another disciple (probably John the Evangelist) when Jesus passed by. Upon seeing Jesus, the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36).

We are told that Andrew and the other disciples followed Jesus and were asked by Him, “What do you seek?” The disciples inquired of Jesus where He was staying and He said to them, “Come and see.” What was it they were to come and see? Andrew discovered the answer to that question and reported it to his brother Simon Peter: “We have found the Messiah!” (John 1:41).

From this invitation almost 2000 years ago until today, Jesus Christ continues to beckon with the words, “Come and see.”

Even as He called Andrew to the place where He dwelled, so too are we invited to that same place today. Where is that dwelling place? Paul gives us the answer in his epistle to the Ephesians: “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Addendum to the June Secretary's Minutes

On August 23, 2008 the Executive Board of the Diocese of Worcester and New England held a special e-mail meeting to discuss an appropriate response for the Memory Eternal of V. Rev. Nifon Abraham, who was a past Spiritual Advisor. It was decided a donation in the amount of $50.00 was to be made to the ”George Abraham Memorial Fund”. A message of condolence to Kh. Effie and the family was sent by V. President Delores George, since President Nora Walker was away. Representatives from The Antiochian Women attended the wake and funeral on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Ghantous, Secretary


Click here to read the original June Secretary's Minutes.

Foreshadowing the Nativity of Christ

The Entrance of the Theotokos

Today the young maidens come forth joyfully, carrying their lamps before the super-sensuous torch, and in a noble manner take her into the Holy of Holies, going before and foretelling the ineffable Ray which shall shine forth from her, lighting in the spirit those who sit in the darkness of folly.

--Vespers of the Feast

As we celebrate the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, we offer a hymn of praise to her who became a living temple of God. But this feast is also a prelude to the Feast of the Nativity. It is here that we are ushered fully into the Nativity season. As the Troparion of the Feast proclaims, "Today is the prelude of God's goodwill". It is now, during Orthros for the Feast of the Entrance, that we first hear the joyous words of the Nativity Canon: "Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ is come from heaven, receive ye him. Christ is on earth, be ye elevated."

The Essence of Orthodox Mission

by Fr. Michael Oleksa


What is it that we Orthodox Christians—as the faith community of the first millennium, upholding the beliefs, doctrines, traditions, liturgy, spirituality, piety, and morality of the thousand years of the predenominational Church—have to offer America, and for that matter, the inhabited Earth, in the 21st century? What can we claim is not only our own unique identity, but our contribution to the society in which we live?

The paradigm our Lord provided us for mission is most clearly stated in the parable of the Sower and the Seed. Some seed produces a harvest, but the harvests vary: thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold, depending, it seems, on climatic and soil conditions. If the ground is not prepared, if there are weeds, rocks, or too many birds, there's not much chance for the seeds to germinate. We need to prepare the ground—or look to areas where others have already cleared it.

I would submit that the other Christian traditions in this country have plowed the field. We are not, in America, entering an illiterate or pagan culture, where the Church needs to educate, to introduce the written or published word, nor even philosophy or theology. All these arrived long before Orthodoxy. Most citizens also identify themselves as Christian. None of the original disciples enjoyed such advantages. The soil is ready, receptive, and fertile, and while there are still rocks and weeds, the potential for a great harvest lies before us.

The seed is the same seed the Church has always scattered, nurtured, and brought to maturity: the fullness of the Gospel of Christ as the Church has always believed, preached, proclaimed, and celebrated it. What is different from all previous eras is the sowers themselves.

Circling the Airport

by Dylan Jenkins


Jaroslav Pelikan, renowned Yale professor of history and religion, converted to Orthodoxy in the latter years of his life. Dr. Pelikan described his lifelong journey into the Church as “circling the airport.” This description fits the experience my wife Meg and I had in approaching Orthodoxy as well: initial discovery, questioning, learning, circling, and finally safely landing upon our conversion.

Unwitting Passengers

Our flight from Protestantism to Orthodoxy began in June 1996, when I was introduced to John Oliver. Two years earlier, John had converted to the Orthodox faith after a transformative visit to Russia to help restore the Valaam Monastery (documented in his book, Touching Heaven). When we first met John, he was diligently working out his faith and contemplating joining the priesthood. We clicked, and thus spent several late nights drilling into many subjects, including church doctrine and practice.

The evening before we departed, John and I locked horns in a civil but spirited discussion about the Bible, church history, and the legitimacy of the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura. Toward the end of our debate, John punctuated his thoughts (and mine) with, “Dylan, I’m sure that if you continue to seek the truth, you will come to embrace Orthodoxy.”

Initially, my ego was wounded and the emotional high of making a new friendship was sobered. But in our short time together, John’s confident and gentle humility had captured my respect. I soon reconsidered his counsel as an older brother’s wisdom; and in hindsight, this moment marked the beginning of our journey to Orthodoxy.

Turbulence in the “Primitive Church”

2008 Fall Meeting Photos

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  • Winter Camp St. Raphael

    Winter Camp St. Raphael Winter Camp St. Raphael, hosted by DOWAMA SOYO, will be held at Camp St. Raphael in Wagoner, OK, January 16th-19th, 2009.  This first-ever weekend event is open to teens who are in 7th-12th grades.  For more information and registration materials, please contact CSR Director Fr. James Shadid at or DOWAMA Youth Director Camille Baba at

    Click here to download the Winter Camp St. Raphael application and flyer (Adobe PDF format).

    Akathist of Thanksgiving: "Glory to God for All Things!"

    “Glory to God for All Things”
    An Akathist of Thanksgiving

    Priest:              Blessed is our God always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

    Choir:              Amen.

    Priest:              Glory to Thee, O God, glory to Thee.
                              O heavenly King, the Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art in all places,
                              and fillest all things, Treasury of good things, and Giver of life,
                              come, and dwell in us,
                              and cleanse us from every stain; and save our souls, O good One.

    Bishop THOMAS Visits St. Michael's in Monessen, PA

    St. Michael Day 2008 Fr. Fred Pfeil of St. Michael's writes:

    We were blessed to have our father in Christ, Bishop THOMAS, with us for our patronal feast of St. Michael the Archangel this year, November 8-9. We began the festivities with Great Vespers on Saturday evening, followed by a dinner at Rego’s Italian Restaurant in Charleroi, directly across the river from Monessen. The Parish Council with spouses, the Ladies’ Society officers, our Choir Director and Sunday School teachers shared the meal with His Grace and Fr. Fred.

    Sunday morning began with Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Deacon Glenn McIntyre of St. Ellien, Brownsville and Subdeacon James Purdy of St. George Cathedral Oakland, served with us. We sang the Trisagion Prayers for the Departed for the V. Rev. Archimandrite John Namie and Beverly Elias.

    Prayers and Music for the Nativity Season

    Prayers and Music for the Nativity Season
    Quick links to material for prayer at home and in church

    For liturgical use, you should always check with the Archdiocese Department of and the Diocese of Los Angeles Liturgics page are also helpful resources.

    Appropriate services during the Nativity Fast are:

    For services on Thanksgiving Day, visit the Online Liturgical Guide.

    Many parishes and individuals celebrate Thanksgiving with the Akathist of Thanksgiving. The Antiochian Women of the East have also provided a printable version of the Akathist organized for devotional reading throughout the Nativity Fast.

    The Department of Sacred Music provides musical settings in PDF format for the major feasts of the Nativity season:

    Many Years to the Newly-Elected Metropolitan JONAH

    His Beatitude Met. JONAH The faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese offers our congratulations and prayers to His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH!

    His Grace Bishop JONAH of Fort Worth was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15 All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America on November 12, 2008.

    For more information, please visit the OCA's web site. You can also listen to speeches by Metropolitan JONAH and a variety of commentary on his election at Ancient Faith Radio.

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