I Am an Antiochian Woman
Yes, I am an Antiochian woman. We (we women, that is) are all Antiochian Women. You may be saying to yourself, “Is she referring to me?”; “I don’t belong to our women’s chapter organization – I sing in the choir”; “I teach Sunday School”; “I belong to the Fellowship of St. John the Divine”; “I make altar cloths and help clean the church.” My dear sisters in Christ, by virtue of your baptism and chrismation into the Antiochian Orthodox Church, you are an Antiochian woman.
As mothers, daughters , grandmothers, we are by nature nurturers, caregivers, and comforters of the sick and infirm. Whether we help cook for the church, fundraise for worthwhile church projects, make altar cloths, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or support battered women and their families, we are all serving God. In doing so, we are following in the footsteps of many pious, humble and faithful women who served the Lord with their whole beings, women such as the Virgin Mary, the ointment-bearers, the deaconesses who served Christ and the church, Martha who prepared and served Jesus a meal, and her sister, Mary, who, “took a very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair” (John 12:3). Each of these women with their many gifts cared for the Lord in her own way.
Our Antiochian Women’s Prayer encapsulates their role, and ours, in serving Christ and the Church. It reads as follows:
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: O Christ our God, we are all pledged to serve Thee with our whole being. Help us to continue to work for Thee through our Church without seeking praise, without seeking personal gain, without judging others, without a feeling that we have worked hard enough and now must allow ourselves rest. Give us strength to do what is right and help us to go on striving and to remember that activities are not the main thing in life. The most important thing is to have our hearts directed and attuned to Thee. Amen.
I am sure that, in reading this prayer, each of us sees herself and the various roles we take on as a member of our church, diocese and archdiocese. However large or small this role, what is important for an Antiochian woman is that we are focused on our faith and His church.
On March 3, 2013, the first Sunday of the month, a letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip will be read from the pulpit, declaring March to be “Women’s Month.” Every Antiochian woman throughout this blessed Archdiocese will be handed a blue and white sticker to wear as she enters the church. The sticker will read, “I AM AN ANTIOCHIAN WOMAN.”
In July, 2013, at the Archdiocese Convention in Houston, Texas, the Antiochian Women will be celebrating a wonderful milestone, their Fortieth Anniversary. Do not question for another minute whether you are an Antiochian woman. The time has come for us all to stand together and show our solidarity as “Sisters in Christ,” and to declare with one voice, “I Am an Antiochian Woman.”
Violet K. Robbat, President
Antiochian Women, North American Board