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St. Elizabeth, Mother of St. John the Baptist

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Commemorated on September 5

The Righteous Elizabeth was the mother of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John. She was descended from the lineage of Aaron, and was the sister of St. Anna, the mother of the Most Holy Theotokos. The righteous spouses, “walking in all the commandments of the Lord” (Luke 1:6), suffered barrenness, which in those days was considered a punishment from God. When Elizabeth gave birth to a son, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, she announced that his name was John, although no one in their family had this name. When Elizabeth’s husband, Zachariah (who had been rendered mute), was asked what the child’s name was, he wrote “John” on a tablet. Immediately, the gift of speech returned to him, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, he began to prophesy about his son as the Forerunner of the Lord.

St. Hermione the Daughter of St. Philip the Deacon

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Commemorated on September 4

The Holy Martyr Hermione was a daughter of St Philip the Deacon (October 11). Wishing to see the holy Apostle John the Theologian, Hermione with her sister went to Asia Minor in search of the saint. During their journey, they learned St. John had died. Continuing on, the sisters met a disciple of St. Paul named Petronius, and imitating him in everything, they became his disciples. St Hermione, having mastered the healing arts, rendered help to many Christians and healed the sick by the power of Christ.

During this period, Emperor Trajan (98-117) waged war against the Persians and his army invaded the village where St. Hermione lived. When they discovered that she was a Christian, Trajan gave orders that she brought before him. At first the emperor, with casual admonitions, sought to persuade the saint to renounce Christ. When this did not succeed, he commanded that she should be struck on the face for several hours, but she joyfully endured this suffering. Moreover, she was comforted by a vision of the Lord, in the form of Petronius, sitting upon the throne of judgment. Convincing himself that she was steadfast in her faith, Trajan sent her away. Hermione later built a hospice in which she took in the sick, treating their infirmities both of body and soul.

St. Domna of Nicomedia

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Commemorated on September 3

Saint Domna was one of those who suffered with the Hieromartyr Anthimus of Nicomedia during the persecution against Christians under the Emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311). The persecution became particularly intense after a fire at the imperial court at Nicomedia. The pagans accused the Christians of setting the fire and reacted against them with terrible ferocity.

In Nicomedia alone, on the day of the Nativity of Christ, as many as 20,000 Christians were burned inside a church. However, this monstrous inhumanity did not frighten the Christians, who firmly confessed their faith and endured martyrdom for Christ.

The Holy Virgin Martyr Domna, a former pagan priestess, perished at the hands of the pagans, as did St. Euthymius, when they expressed their concerns that the bodies of the holy martyrs should be buried.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Mianus (Ammianus) of Nicomedia

Commemorated on September 4

The Holy Martyrs Julian, Theodore, Mianus, and Kion lived during the reign of Maximian (284-305)and were from the village of Quandababa (near Nicomedia). For confessing their faith in Christ, they were arrested and given over to torture.

At first their bodies were torn with sharp iron hooks, and then they were placed in a hot and flooded bathhouse. The doors were locked and sealed with the imperial signet ring so that they would not escape. However, an angel of the Lord freed them.

Soldiers arrested the martyrs again and led them outside the city for execution. The saints requested and were given time for prayer, and then surrendered their souls to the Lord. Their bodies were hacked into pieces and thrown into a fire.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

Icon of the Mother of God of Kiev-Bratsk

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Commemorated on September 6

The Kiev-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God was originally located in the Church of Ss. Boris and Gleb in the city of Vyshgorod (Kiev). In 1662, during Russia’s war with Poland (1659-1667), the city was dealt heavy losses by the Crimean Tatars fighting on the side of the Poles. The Temple of the Holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb was destroyed and defiled. However, the Providence of God preserved the holy wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, which was taken out of the church beforehand and set off along the River Dnieper.

The Dnieper carried the icon to the Podol section of Kiev, where it was joyfully taken up by the Orthodox and with due reverence transferred to the Bratsk (Brotherhood) Monastery. The icon is described in the records of church property of the Kiev-Bratsk monastery written in 1807.

There existed a “Song about the Wonderworking Kiev-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God,” compiled soon after the year 1692. The Kiev-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated four times during the year: September 6, May 10, June 2, and on Saturday of the Fifth Week of Great Lent. All these days are dedicated to the miraculous appearance of the holy icon in 1654. Unfortunately, the original icon has not been preserved. The copy that now exists was painted from it “measure for measure,” and is presently located in the Kiev monastery of the Protection of the Mother of God.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Basilissa of Nicomedia

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Commemorated on September 3

The Martyr Basilissa of Nicomedia suffered for her faith in Christ under the Emperor Diocletian. The Nicomedia Governor Alexander gave orders to arrest the nine-year-old Basilissa and force her to renounce Christ. The young maiden displayed unshakable firmness in fidelity to her Lord, and was subjected to protracted and intense torture.

Through the grace of God, Basilissa remained alive and unharmed. This was evident to all those present as a manifestation of the power of God. It so upset Governor Alexander that he came to believe in Christ and confessed himself a Christian.

St. Basilissa fell asleep in the Lord several years later. Her death was peaceful and accompanied by miraculous signs of God's mercy.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Bebaia

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Commemorated on September 5

The Martyrs Bebaia and her brother, Thiphael, suffered for their bold and effective preaching of Christianity among the pagans. St. Bebaia was killed when a spear was thrust into her neck.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Phoebe the Deaconess at Cenchreae near Corinth

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Commemorated on September 3

Saint Phoebe the Deaconess is mentioned by the holy Apostle Paul (Romans 16:1-2):

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.”

Troparion (Tone 3) –

Enlightened by grace
And taught the Faith by the chosen vessel of Christ,
You were found worthy of the diaconate;
And you carried Paul’s words to Rome.
O Deaconess Phoebe, pray to Christ God that his Spirit may enlighten our souls!

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

40 Women Martyrs at Heraclea, in Thrace

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Commemorated on September 1

The 40 Holy Virgins and St. Ammoun the Deacon were from Adrianopolis in Macedonia. Deacon Ammoun was their guide in Christian faith. They were captured by Baudos, the pagan governor, and were tortured because they would not offer sacrifice to idols.

The holy martyrs endured many cruel torments, which were intended to force them to renounce Christ and worship the pagan gods. Later, they were sent to Heraklea in Thrace to appear before the tyrant Licinius. However, the valiant martyrs remained unshakeable.

St. Ammoun and eight of the virgins were beheaded, ten virgins were burned, six of them died after heated metal balls were put into their mouths, six were stabbed with knives, and the rest were struck in the mouth and stabbed in the heart with swords.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Rufina of Caesarea

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Commemorated on September 2

The holy martyrs Theodotus and Rufina were the parents of St. Mamas. They came from patrician families, and were honored by all for their Christian piety. Alexander, the magistrate of the city of Gangra, summoned them because they refused to obey the imperial decree requiring all citizens to worship the pagan gods. Those who disobeyed would be tortured and put to death.

Since Theodotus refused to comply with this order, Alexander sent him to Governor Faustus in Caesarea of Cappadocia. Alexander could not torture or kill Theodotus because of his noble rank. Faustus, however, had no such scruples, and threw Theodotus into prison as soon as he arrived.

Even though she was pregnant at the time, Rufina followed her husband. She stayed in the prison with Theodotus, where they both suffered for Christ. Fearing that he would not be able to withstand the cruel tortures, Theodotus asked God to take his soul. The Lord heard his prayer and sent him a blessed repose, establishing his soul in the heavenly mansions.

St. Rufina endured privations and sufferings in prison, and experienced great sorrow at the death of her husband. Because of these things, she gave birth to her child before the proper time. She prayed that God would permit her to follow her husband in death, and that He would also protect her child. Her prayers were granted, and she gave her virtuous soul into God’s hands.

Their child, St. Mamas, was raised by a pious woman named Ammia (or Matrona) who became a second mother to him.

November 8 is the Synaxis of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and All Heavenly Hosts

imageStanding as thou dost before the throne of the tri-luminary Trinity, O Gabriel, leader of hosts, and shining with the abundance of divine illumination emanating ceaselessly therefrom, deliver thou from the stark darkness of passion those who joyfully stand in ranks on earth extolling thee. Delight them by illumination, O intercessor for our souls.

Demolish, O Gabriel, leader of hosts the attacks of heretics, rising constantly against thy fold. Heal the division of thy Church; still the tempest of countless temptations, and deliver from hardships and calamities those who eagerly celebrate thy memory, who hasten to the shadow of thy protection, O intercessor for our souls. . . .

Rejoice with us, all ye princes of the ranks of angels; for your leader and our great champion, the great prince of hosts, is today seen sanctified in a strange manner in his noble temple. Wherefore, it is right and meet that we laud him, crying, Protect us by the shadow of thy wings, O Michael the great Archangel. . . .

Come, ye who hold in the world an angelic celebration, let us raise our voices in praise unto God sitting on the throne of glory, Holy the heavenly Father! Holy the coeternal Word! Holy the most Holy Spirit! . . .

O ye foremost of the heavenly hosts, we who are unworthy, beseech you that by your petitions ye encompass us with the shadow of your immaterial glory, preserving us who kneel and cry ceaselessly, Deliver us from oppression, since ye are the princes of the ranks of dominions on high.

St. Theodora of Alexandria

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Commemorated on September 11

St. Theodora and her husband lived in Alexandria. Love and harmony ruled in their family. A certain rich man was captivated by the youthful beauty of Theodora and attempted to lead her into adultery, but was initially unsuccessful. He then bribed a woman of loose morals, who led the unassuming Theodora astray by saying that a secret sin, which the sun does not see, is also unknown to God.

Theodora betrayed her husband, but soon came to her senses and realizing the seriousness of her fall, she became furious with herself, slapping herself on the face and tearing at her hair. Her conscience gave her no peace, and she went to a renowned abbess and confessed her transgression. Seeing the young woman’s repentance, the abbess spoke to her of God's forgiveness and reminded her of the sinful woman in the Gospel who washed the feet of Christ with her tears and received from Him forgiveness. In hope of the mercy of God, Theodora said: "I believe my God, and from now on, I shall not commit such a sin, and I will strive to atone for my deeds." St. Theodora resolved to go off to a monastery to purify herself by labor and by prayer. She left her home secretly, and dressing herself in men's clothes, she went to a men's monastery, since she feared that her husband would find her in a community of women.

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP Hosts Annual Seminarian Dinner

 

animatedOn Tuesday October 30, 2007, more than 35 Antiochian seminarians and spouses gathered at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey for the annual Seminarian dinner which is hosted by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP. The evening began with the celebration of Vespers in the Chapel of St. John Chrysostom. Following Vespers, everyone gathered in the main dining room for the group photo, which was followed by a wonderful dinner.

After dinner, His Eminence addressed the assembled group. He spoke to them about their future ministries, and the urgent need to preserve the unity of the Archdiocese in North America, as well as making real progress toward Orthodox unity in North America. At the end of the evening, His Eminence met privately with each of the third-year students who will graduate in 2008, and discussed matters which are important to their future. This year, the Antiochian Archdiocese has more than 25 students studying at the three
Orthodox seminaries: St. Vladimir in Crestwood, New York; St. Tikhon in South Canaan, Pennsylvania; and Holy Cross in Brookline, Massachusetts. Eight of these seminarians are scheduled to graduate in 2008.

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP hosts a dinner to recognize the Outstanding Contributions of the Noursat Satellite

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP hosts a dinner to recognize the Outstanding Contributions of the Noursat Satellite network in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ

On October 24, 2007, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP hosted a dinner in honor of His Excellency Archbishop Rolan Abojaoudy, the Vicar General for the Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfier. Also attending were Noursat Executives and honored guests as follows:

Mr. Jack Kilasi – President of Noursat

Mr. Adib Kassis – President of Middle East Aitlines

Fr. Charbel Maroun – Executive Director of Noursat U.S. & Canada

Mr. Raymond Nader – Executive Producer of Noursat

Rt. Rev. Bishop ANTOUN – Diocese of Miami and The Southeast

Mr. Salim Abboud – Vice President of InterAudi Bank

Very Rev. Joseph Allen – Pastor, St. Anthony Antiochian Orthodox Church – Bergenfield, NJ

The dinner was held in appreciation of the outstanding efforts that Noursat has made in proclaiming the Christian message of the Gospel of Christ. Noursat staff were present at the Archdiocese Convention in Montreal this past July, where they did extensive filming of the events, and interviews of key people, such as Metropolitan PHILIP. The U.S. and Canadian broadcasts have been airing during the time period from October 19 through October 28. The Noursat mission to proclaim the true Christian message is all the more important in a day and age where we receive many false messages through a wide variety of media outlets. We pray that many people will subscribe to Noursat in order to support this important effort.

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2007 Clergy Seminar and Fall Gathering

Hosted by St. George Cathedral in Toledo, the 2007 Fall Gathering will focus on the vision of our North American Saints.

All required forms are available below.

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP visits Oklahoma City to honor V. Rev. Fr. Constantine Nasr, Economos, on 25th Anniversary

V. Rev. Fr. Constantine Nasr, Economos, on his 25th Anniversary as the pastor of St. Elijah

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These photos were taken during His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP's visitation to Oklahoma City to honor V. Rev. Fr. Constantine Nasr, Economos, on his 25th Anniversary as the pastor of St. Elijah.  His Eminence met with the Sunday School, the Youth, the Ladies Aid, the Ladies Guild, the Adult Fellowship, as well as the Board of Trustees and the Order of St. Ignatius with a private visitation to Benny and Delores Homsey. Vespers and Divine Liturgy were celebrated and 25 members were inducted into the Order of St. Ignatius. Over 430 guests attended the banquet with a slide presentation of Fr. Constantine Nasr's ministry and a gift to Father and Khouriya Sharon.

Thanks to Jeff Massad, chairman of the Board, Mickey Homsey, chairman of the banquet, the members of the Board, all church organizations, and the faithful for their kindness and hospitality

Listen to Audio from the Missions and Evangelism Conference

We now have audio available from the just concluded Missions and Evangelism conference on Labor Day weekend at Antiochian Village.

 

The Tragedy of the Vatican's Recent Declaration on the Roman Church

By Fr. George Morelli

July 13, 2007

(The) kingdom (of God), is characterized, as we have shown, by humility and gentleness of heart. It is the combination of these two qualities that constitutes the perfection of the person created according to Christ. For every humble person is invariably gentle and every gentle person is invariably humble (St. Maximus the Confessor, "On the Lord's Prayer," Philokalia II).

With a stroke of the pen and with the full approval of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Levada, the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church late last month effectively abrogated the spirit of Pope John Paul II Apostolic Letter on the Eastern Churches Orientale Lumen (Light of the East) of May, 1995. The Vatican released Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church that expressed concepts of Roman supremacy in language not heard for years. A spirit of loving dialogue and mutual healing cultivated over the last half century and especially in the last decade is being sorely tested.

From the outset, let me be clear that I am no expert in canon law, church history, dogmatic theology, or patristics. By God's grace I am a clinical psychologist, I coordinate the Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Department of my Archdiocese, and I help pastor an Orthodox parish. My focus is pastoral theology (Morelli, 2006d). Having said that, I hold to the words of St. Irenaeus of Lyon:

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