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June 11, 2008 + Working of the Holy Spirit

clip_image002by Rev. Father John Chromiak

The revelation of the mission and ministry of the Paraclete waited for Christ’s Incarnation to be fully taught, and for His Ascension to be fully explained and understood, when the Spirit was poured out in a glorious baptism of divine energy, a Pentecost of power. We find in our Lord’s teaching, regarding the Person and work of the Spirit, in the single discourse immediate preceding His crucifixion, preserved for us in the Holy Gospel according to St. John. Here the Spirit of God is first known by the “Comforter” or “Paraclete.” Jesus now speaks of the descent of the Spirit as a new and special gift:

“I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter;” John 14:16; “the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26; “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, And ye shall see me no more; Of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged.” “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: For He shall not speak from Himself;” “And He shall show you things to come. He shall glorify me: For He shall receive of Mine, And shall show it unto you.” (John 16:7-14).

Memory Eternal! Yaser Jacob

Yaser Jacob of Detroit, MI, the father of Kh. Diane Dahdal of St George Church of Cicero, IL, fell asleep in Christ this past weekend.  Condolences may be sent to Kh. Diane and her husband Fr. Nicholas at frdahdal@gmail.com  May Mr. Jacob's memory be eternal.

The Great Feast of Pentecost

imageJune 15 is the Great Feast of Pentecost. "Lo, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the presence of the Spirit, the fulfillment of the promise and the completion of the hope. How wonderful is this mystery. ... Thou hast renewed for thy Disciples, O Christ, a different kind of tongues, that they might therewith proclaim that thou art the immortal Word and God who granteth our souls the Great Mercy. The Holy Spirit provideth all; overfloweth with prophecy; fulfilleth the Priesthood; and hath taught wisdom to the illiterate. He hath revealed the fishermen as theologians. He bringeth together all the laws of the Church." (The Pentecostarion)

 

Click here to listen to Fr. Patrick Reardon's homily on Pentecost at Ancient Faith Radio. Children will enjoy listening to Archdiocese Featured Author Chrissi Hart read from a Conciliar children's book about the Feast. The audio can be found here.  Finally, here's a good introduction to Pentecost prepared by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Changes at Antiochian.org

image We're rolling out some changes to Antiochian.org that have been in the works for awhile. We apologize in advance for any problems as we iron out the remaining wrinkles in the new design. Now that we've completed our basic reorganization of the website's homepage and menus, we'll be turning our attention to the pages for each diocese, department and organization in the Archdiocese.

We've started redesigning the page for the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. Please take a look, and learn more about the flock of Bishop MARK. And as always, drop us an email at editor@antiochian.org any time you have a comment or question.

We've also added our new Featured Authors of the Archdiocese section at the bottom of our homepage, where we'll be continuing to bring you the latest from Fr. Patrick Reardon, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Fr. George Morelli and more. Within the next couple of weeks we'll be offering daily Scripture readings and Saints, with more features coming over the course of the summer. Thanks again for your patience. If you'd like to read more about our vision for Antiochian.org, check out this article, or this article, by our editor, Douglas Cramer.

Lenten Reading from Our Featured Authors

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The Real Scandal: That Only God Can Forgive Sin

A Lenten homily.

"Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Is there any doubt that the Cross of Jesus Christ is a scandal, a shame and embarrassment to anyone who chooses not to respond to God's grace? Look at Jesus from a Jewish perspective in the time of Christ. They were awaiting a messiah, the anointed one of God — a deliverer who would reign in glory with the power and adornment of a king.

The Sunday after the Ascension

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

There are two stories in Holy Scripture that end with an unanswered proposition: the Book of Jonah and the parable of the Prodigal Son. The drama in both these stories builds to the propositions with which they end. That is to say, it is the point of the stories themselves. In each case, moreover, this proposition, which is directly put to a character in the story, is implicitly addressed to the reader as well.

Printing and the Church

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

I often wonder if Christians have adequately come to grips with the invention of moveable type. It seems obvious to me that the Christian life has never been quite the same since Gutenberg’s publication of the Mazarin Bible at Mainz in 1456. Prior to that date, a person joined the Church and found the Bible there; the Church was the Bible’s normal context. More recently, however, it has been just as usual for someone to read the Bible and then, just maybe, find the Church.

Perhaps no one at the time fully realized what far-reaching consequences would come of the world’s first experiment with the printing press. Surely no one felt threatened, right away, by the mere printing of a Latin Bible. Indeed, no one even now would dispute that the printing of the Bible was a singular blessing.

Within a short time there would be biblical translations into all the languages of Europe, making Holy Scripture directly available to others besides the clergy and those with a university education. Gradually the Bible would become part of each family’s cherished possessions, in all lands from Ireland to Egypt, and within a half-century of Gutenberg’s experiment it would arrive in the New World on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. What an awesome blessing!

Was this, however, an unmixed blessing? The question can honestly be argued, because the evidence from Church history seems to render the answer ambiguous at best. To begin with, the printing of the Bible produced, as one of its first direct results, a certain purely physical separation of the Scriptures from the parish church. From that point on, the Scriptures could just as easily be found in a person’s home. A man did not need to go to church in order to read them.

Theophany

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

In the Christian East, the Baptism of our Lord is honored in the Church’s annual celebration of Theophany (commonly called Epiphany in the West) on January 6. This feast is celebrated, moreover, as the manifestation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This emphasis is clear in the troparion of the day: “When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truth of His word. Wherefore, O Christ, who didst appear and enlighten the world, glory to Thee.”

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not part of the Church’s proclamation to the world. On the contrary, it is a mystery shared only within the Body of the Church. And it is revealed in the mystery of Baptism.

The Trinitarian revelation at our Lord’s Baptism at the beginning of His ministry (Matthew 3:16–17) is paralleled at the close of His ministry by a corresponding command to baptize all nations “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Church, said Origen in the third century, is “full of the Holy Trinity.”

The dogma of the Holy Trinity affirms that God has revealed to the world His eternal inner life in two missions, two “sendings forth”: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son . . . God sent forth the Spirit of His Son” (Galatians 4:4–6). The Father revealed Himself in His Son as a visible Man in the external, categorical, documentable order of human history, and likewise He has revealed Himself by the Holy Spirit in the internal, transcendent order of transformed human consciousness. This is the revelation that the Church celebrates in the Feast of the Theophany.

The One Mediator

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

All seven of the Church’s Ecumenical Councils have been concerned with a single question: “Who is Jesus?” Indeed, according to the Gospels,  Jesus Himself posed this question several times in various forms: "But who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29). "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" (Matthew 22:42).

The reason this question is important has to do with certain claims of Jesus, which indicate that the answer touches on the nature of God. When Jesus declares, for instance, that He and the Father are one (John 10:30), when He affirms that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (14:6), when He claims that those who see Him see the Father (14:9)—in all such assertions, Jesus of Nazareth forces Himself on the conscience of every human being who has ever lived.

The radical nature of these claims implies that their validity concerns the very Being of God and, hence, the meaning of human existence. If these assertions are true, then there really is no God except the God revealed as the Father of this Palestinian carpenter. This is extremely important, because it implies that all other religions are intrinsically idolatrous. The others are but thieves and robbers (10:8). Every other religion is idol worship.

What, after all, is idolatry but the worship of a false divinity? If the true God is known only in Jesus, then only Jesus can save mankind from bondage to false gods. Truly, if Jesus of Nazareth is who He says He is, then He is history’s onlysafeguard against idolatry. It is either Jesus or the idols. There is no other choice. Hence, the Apostle John, at the end of his brief treatise on the theme of Jesus’ identity, abruptly sums up the alternative: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

Man's Fall and Redemption

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

In Luke 10:25–37, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, which many Christians have seen as a parable of man’s fall and redemption. Such an interpretation is usually elaborated in three steps.

First, there is the story of the fall, concerning which we are told, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” This man started in Jerusalem, in the garden place of God’s presence. But he did not stay there. He made a deliberate decision to go down on a journey. No one told him to go. He made the decision on his own, as an assertion of his independence. “Man, though in honor, does not remain,” says the psalmist; “He is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:12).

These robbers did not kill the fallen man completely. They left him half dead. Even fallen, he did not suffer total depravity. There was still some chance for him, though he had no way of saving himself from his terrible predicament. By this man’s disobedience, in fact, sin entered the world, and by sin death. Indeed, death reigned already in his mortal flesh. How shall we describe this poor man’s plight except that he was “alien from the commonwealth of Israel and a stranger from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12)? He had been left half dead, and there was no help for him in this world.

The Structure of Redemption

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

The classical and ancient theology of the Christian Church regards as redemptive the entire "event" of Jesus Christ, beginning with His personal and permanent assumption of our flesh. Everything about Jesus Christ is soteriological.

The Incarnation itself, according to the reasoning pursued at the Council of Nicaea, was integral to our redemption. That is to say, we would not be saved unless Jesus Christ were truly both divine and human. This was a point made repeatedly by the most persuasive voice at that council, St. Athanasius of Alexandria.

In accord with this principle, Eastern Christians for a long time have commonly spoken of a triadic structure in the redemption of the human race, a structure corresponding to man's threefold alienation from God.

First, man is alien to God by reason of Creation itself, inasmuch as man has a nature different from God's. This initial alienation, however, has been redeemed by God's taking on our human nature in the Incarnation. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14; cf. Colossians 2:9). Thus, the Incarnation is soteriological.

The Word's sharing of our human nature, moreover, becomes the medium of our participation in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). As this truth was boldly expressed by Irenaeus of Lyons and many other Church Fathers, but most notably by Athanasius himself, "God became man so that man might become god." This transformation by divine grace is the goal of human existence and man's sole reason for being in this world at all.

Second, man is alien to God by reason of sin, a legacy to which all human beings are heirs, because "by one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Romans 5:19). To overcome this alienation from God by sin, Jesus died on the cross, thereby reconciling us to our Creator.

The Poverty of Love

The May 2008 issue of Christianity Today features their Christian Vision Project, with prominent writers and thinkers responding to the question, "Is our Gospel too small?" Antiochian Archdiocese author Brad Nassif contributed this response.


by Bradley Nassif, Ph.D.

The last few decades, more and more evangelicals have been mining the treasures of Eastern Orthodoxy. One reason for their openness is the work of people like Bradley Nassif, professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University in Chicago. For years he has been, as one editor put it, “a courageous and enthusiastic pioneer of Orthodox-evangelical dialogue around the world.” While Nassif was exposed to evangelical faith in his youth, which he says gave his faith vitality, he has remained a faithful member of the Orthodox Church. But while championing the Orthodox cause, he’s never been blind to its spiritual needs. As he put it in one article, “The most urgent need in the Orthodox world today is an aggressive ‘internal mission’ of (re)converting our people to Jesus Christ.” In this Christian Vision Project article, Nassif suggests how one element of the Orthodox heritage might help reconvert all of us to the person and mission of Jesus Christ.

"IS OUR GOSPEL TOO SMALL?” Shouldn’t the answer be obvious? As an Eastern Orthodox theologian, my first impulse was to point out that a small gospel has never been our problem. The name of the great 7th-century saint Maximus the Confessor symbolizes the maximal gospel proclaimed by him and all the Orthodox—one with cosmic implications that embraces the whole of creation. Proclaiming that kind of gospel has always been the Orthodox way. But then I came down to earth. Though Orthodoxy has a grand vision in principle, it often doesn’t make a lot of difference in practice.

OCMC Seeking Mission Team Members

St. Augustine, FL - Through work, witness, and worship, Orthodox Mission Teams become a visible expression of Christian love, unity, and support.

The remaining fifteen 2008 Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Mission Teams will serve in ten countries around the world. Several of these teams still need volunteers, and you could be the missing team member that Christ will send. Let your love for the Gospel and for others speak and work--share in a journey of faith!

Since 1994, the OCMC has sent Teams to Western Tanzania to encourage the growth of Orthodoxy. The Tanzania Construction Team will help build a church in the newly elevated Metropolis of Mwanza. The Team will also visit, witness to, and encourage surrounding communities within the Metropolis. Dates are July 3 – 25, 2008.

The India Teaching Team will offer catechism and outreach in Kolkata.

Orthodox clergy and theologians are needed to preach, teach, baptize, and assist in the evangelical efforts of the Church in Kolkata. This small team will also offer a retreat for the local clergy of the area.

This project will take place September 3-25, 2008.

The Alaska Teaching Team to the Kenai Deanery will encourage and offer a living witness to different communities of the Kenai Peninsula, including Cordova, Valdez and Tatitlek. The Team will offer seminars, Vacation Bible Schools, retreats, counseling, evangelism, adult catechism, and bible studies in each of these communities. The dates are October 14 – 29, 2008.

The Kenya Youth Team will join the youth of the Orthodox Church of Kenya to offer an annual youth retreat, which will draw participants from the Nyeri and Kasenge regions. Catechism and Orthodox renewal will take place during this event, which will reflect the transformation and joy that knowing Christ has meant to the youth of that region. The dates are December 28, 2008 – January 10, 2009.

Blessed Feast Day! The Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

imageOn the fortieth day after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He was taken up into the heavens in a cloud.

Read The Ascension: An Excerpt from The Year of the Grace of the Lord

Read From the Heart: Resting in the Ascension

Listen to the children's Under the Grapevine podcast about the Ascension 

Listen to Fr. Pat Reardon's All Saints homily podcast on the Ascension

Read a reflection for teens about the Ascension

The Ascension: An Excerpt from The Year of the Grace of the Lord

By A Monk of the Eastern Church

Published by SVS Press

The Wednesday which follows the fifth Sunday after Easter is the day when, in liturgical terminology, we ‘take leave’ of the Easter feast. We commemorate the last day of the physical presence of the risen Christ amongst his disciples; and to honour this presence, to honour the Resurrection once more, the church on this Wednesday repeats the service for Easter Sunday in its entirety. And now we have come to the fortieth day after Easter, the Thursday on which the Church celebrates the feast of the Ascension.

Three lessons from the Old Testament are read at vespers for the Ascension, on the Wednesday evening. The first lesson (Isa. 2:2-3) speaks of a mountain: ‘It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains…and all nations shall flow until it…. Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord’. This alludes to the Mount of Olives, from which Jesus ascended to his Father. The second lesson (Isa. 62:10-63; 3, 7-9) was chosen because of the following words: ‘Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people…. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them…’. Jesus, ascending to heaven, opens the gates to his people, he prepares a way for them, he carries them and raises them up with him. The third lesson (Zech. 14:1, 4, 8-11) also speaks of the mountain which was the scene of Jesus’s final triumph: ‘Behold the day of the Lord cometh…. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east…. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem.’

The chants at matins for the Ascension are already filled with allusions to the Spirit, the Comforter, whom Jesus will send. Ascension is the prelude to Pentecost.

Memory Eternal! Metropolitan PAUL (Bandaly), Archbishop of Akkar

image The Most Reverend Metropolitan PAUL (Bandaly), Archbishop of Akkar, has fallen asleep in Christ. His Eminence's Archdiocese encompasses the northernmost region of Lebanon and the southern portion of coastal Syria (including the port city of Tartous and the mountainous area to the east known as the "Valley of the Christians"). He was born in 1929. May His Eminence's memory be eternal!

A tribute has been published in Arabic in the Annahar newspaper and is available online at www.annaharonline.com.

Pastoral Reflections on Suicide in the Military

V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli, Ph.D., A.B.P.N.

Among the military, suicide ranks as the “fourth leading manner of death for soldiers, exceeded only by hostile fire, accidents and illnesses,” according to figures released May 29, 2008 by the Department of Defense. And compared to previous estimates, “10 to 20 times as many soldiers have thought to harm themselves of attempted suicide.” (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24874573/)

Notes for First-Time Participants

(In great detail)

Suggestion: read through this material, and then come back to click on the links. The section will cover Background, Culmination, Resources, Factors to Consider in Scheduling, and Planning and Implementation.

Background

The Creative Festivals were instituted by His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP in ___ as a way for the Church School students to express their faith. He gave it to the Fellowship of St. John the Divine to implement. His Eminence chooses the theme for each year. As noted earlier, as of this year, the Department of Christian Education is coordinating the festivals, while the Fellowship of St. John the Divine continues to implement the festivals by supplying a Diocesan Festival Chairperson, who in turn appoints Coordinators for each of the categories (such as Art), who in turn provide judges, those who display the work, and the prizes.

Culmination

Provision is made to display entries at each Diocesan Parish Life Conference. They are judged beforehand, and prizes are awarded by category, and age level. Dioceses vary on how they judge, display, and award prizes. You may refer to the Administration section for information on the variations.

Resources

Several items are available to assist you as you introduce the theme.

· Lesson Plans: The plans are available for download from this site. They are for one 40-minute class, and written at four levels: Preschool and Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, 4-5, Middle School and High School. [See doc page 14]

· Theme Song: Gigi Shadid has composed a theme song for the festivals, available as an MP3 download. Consider playing it in the background as the children do their projects. [See doc page 14]

· Posters: Four posters are available for download. [See doc page 14]

Creative Festivals 2009 Information

SUBMISSIONS

If you need ONLY submission information, including forms, click on your diocese. Diocese of . . .

· Los Angeles and the West [See document p3]

& Eagle River and the Northwest [See document p3]

· Wichita and Mid-America [See document p4]

· Toledo and the Midwest [See document p5]

· Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic [See document p6]

& New York and Washington DC [See document p6]

· Miami and the Southeast [See document p7]

· Worcester and New England [See document p8]

· Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York [See document p9]

Hello to Church School Directors, Teachers, and Festival Coordinators:

In 2005, the Fellowship of St. John the Divine agreed to work together with the Department of Christian Education to coordinate the Creative Festivals, since the Church Schools staff works with the children to provide the entries. The Fellowship will continue to provide festival coordinators, displays, and awards. Please note that none of the rules or rubrics have been changed; however, we are studying the feasibility of standardizing rules, rubrics and due dates for the entire Archdiocese. Please note that the Bible Bowl, and the Oratorical Festival are still being coordinated by the Youth Department. [link]

The Orthodox Christian Opportunity

By Bradley Nassif, Ph.D.

This article originally appeared in AGAIN Vol. 29 No. 1, published in March 2007. Since then, Brad's article in Christianity Today has been published online. Click here to read it in full.

Last December, Christianity Today magazine graciously provided a forum for me to answer a question I posed in the title of my article: “Will the twenty-first be the Orthodox century?” I answered, “Yes. The twenty-first will likely be a century that witnesses a theological rebirth of the Orthodox vision within Protestantism, regardless of whether or not the Orthodox Church itself grows numerically.” I explained the ways in which mainline and evangelical Christians are retrieving the Great Tradition of our Church as a resource for reconstruction and renewal. I documented evidence for the rise of a new kind of ecumenism that is basing itself on a revival of the ancient approach to worship and theological decision-making.

However, there was one very important question to which I could only allude in that article: “Will the twenty-first be the Orthodox century for the Orthodox?” Here is my answer to this question: The extent to which the Orthodox Church can acquire and keep its converts will depend in large measure on how clear and how central we make the Gospel to those who are our own. In this article I’d like to address some of what I think the Orthodox message to evangelicals should be, and what Orthodoxy’s mission to its own members requires.

Memory Eternal! Fr. George Sayaf

Fr. George Sayaf fell asleep in the Lord, Tuesday, May 20, 2008 in Cincinnati,Ohio. He was born on November 23, 1939 in Damascus Syria.

He was pre-deceased by his parents: Yousef and Nazira Sayaf, brothers Zaki and Saleem Sayaf and sister in law Kawkab Sayaf .

He is survived by his loving wife of 40 years Eleftheria; His son Dr. Konstantine Sayaf (Anita); His daughter Nazira Sayaf Waldo (Ashley); Grand children Christen George Waldo, Anthony Robin Waldo and Kalista Marie Sayaf. His brothers: Bishara Sayaf (Liala), Tony Sayaf (Riyam), Rev. Fr. Sami Sayaf (Seham) and sisters, The Rev. Mother Pelajia Sayaf, Liala Sayaf, and Nawal Sayaf. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and nephews.

Fr George lived a life of humanity and served many communities in Lebanon, Brazil, and the United States.

Services were held on Sunday May 25,2008, at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 6300 Bowden Road, Jacksonville, Florida.

Divine liturgy was held on Monday May 26, 2008, followed by funeral services at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church.

The Archdiocese Synod of Bishops Meets

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The Synod of Bishops of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America met at Antiochian Village on May 30, 2008.

The hierarchs discussed many items that are of paramount importance to this God-protected Archdiocese.

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