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Feast of the Holy, Glorious Apostles Peter and Paul + June 29

Verily, the all-solemn Feast of the two Apostles hath arrived, bringing us salvation. Wherefore, let us mystically exult, crying unto them: Rejoice, O ye who have become luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the Sun! Rejoice, O Peter and Paul, adamant pillars of the divine doctrines, ye friends of Christ and two honored vessels! Be ye present among us in an invisible manner, and grant immaterial gifts to those who extol your feast with songs.

--Doxasticon of the Feast, Tone 6

Our prayers for all of the parishes and faithful who celebrate their namesday with this Feast, the Patronal Feast of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

Sheet music for this Feast is available here courtesy of the Department of Sacred Music. Download "The Akathist Hymn to the Holy Apostles" here.

Apostles' Fast Begins

From the second Monday after Pentecost until the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on June 29th, Orthodox Christians celebrate the Apostles' Fast. This year, the fast commences on Monday, June 27, 2016.

To learn more about the Orthodox approach to fasting, visit the Feasts and Fasts page of Our Discover Orthodox Christianity section.

Read "Fast of the Holy Apostles" by Archpriest Ayman Kfouf 

Akathist to Saints Peter and Paul

Read a reflection about the two saints from The Word

Nativity of the Forerunner St. John the Baptist + June 24

O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, we honour thee lovingly but cannot extol thee worthily; for by thy birth thy mother's barrenness and thy father's dumbness were unloosed; and the Incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world.
-Troparion, Tone 4

View a festal page dedicated to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Read Fr. Joseph Huneycutt's thoughts on the importance of the feast
Listen to Fr. Patrick Reardon's homily

The Great Feast of Pentecost

The spring of the Spirit hath come to those on earth, dividing noetically into fire-bearing rivers, moistening the Apostles and illuminating them. The fire hath become to them a dewy cloud, lighting, and raining flames upon them, from whom we received grace by the fire and the water. Verily the fire of the Comforter hath come and lighted the world.
+ Orthros of the Feast  

Read Fr. Ayman Kfouf's reflection (PDF) on the significance of the Pentecost icon.

Read Fr. Stephen Freeman's Pentecost reflections
 Pentecost and Creation
 The Fire of Pentecost in Orthodoxy

Children will enjoy listening to Chrissi Hart read from an Ancient Faith Publishing children's book about the Feast.

Statement of the Secretariat of the Antiochian Holy Synod

Statement of the Secretariat of the Antiochian Holy Synod
Balamand, on the 6th of June 2016

Decision

In the sequence of its seventh exceptional session still open since the 25th of May 2016, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch held a meeting on the 6th of June 2016 presided by His Beatitude Patriarch John X and in the presence of Their Eminencies the Bishops, to study the positions of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches related to the Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Council (mentioned hereafter as ”The Great Council”) and the issues listed in its agenda, and in order to take the appropriate Antiochian position in this respect, taking into consideration the decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of 31st May 2016 about “the formation of a committee of representatives of the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as responsible for the coordination, which would meet immediately after the Great and Holy Synod”, to working on a solution to the violation of the Church of Jerusalem of the canonical jurisdictional boundaries of the church of Antioch in the Emirate of Qatar.

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

As the angels, O Savior, wondered at Thy strange elevation, and the Disciples were amazed at Thy dread rising, Thou didst ascend in glory, being God, and the gates were lifted up for Thee. Wherefore, the heavenly powers were surprised, shouting, Glory to Thy condescension, O Savior; glory to Thy reign; glory to Thine Ascension, O Thou Who alone art the Lover of mankind.

--Orthros of the Feast

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

"The cloud which today envelopes Jesus and ascends with him to heaven represents the smoke of the sacrifice rising from the altar to God. The sacrifice is accepted, and the victim is admitted to God's presence where it will continue to be offered in an eternal and heavenly manner. The work of our salvation has been accomplished and is blessed."

June 2016 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

The June 2016 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:

Bringing Orthodox Leaders Together to Do God's Work
by His Grace Bishop John

Desiring Him Who Is Hidden
by Fr. Stephen Freeman

A Joint Statement: Three Years after the Abduction of Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna

Will the Cradle of Christianity Be without Christians?
by Dr. Najib E. Saliba

The Priesthood: Biblical, Crucible, Miracle
by Fr. John Oliver

We Know Him in Our Relationships
by Erin Kimmett

...and more!

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

O almighty Savior, Who didst pour forth water for the Hebrews from a solid rock, Thou didst come to the land of Samaria, and addressed a woman, seeking of her water to drink, whom Thou didst attract to faith in Thee, and who hath now attained life in the heavens everlastingly.

--Exaposteilarion of the Feast, Tone 2

On this day, the fifth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the Samaritan Woman.              
When thou camest to obtain corruptible water, O woman,

Thou didst draw forth living water that washeth away the soul’s stains.

Mid-Pentecost

In the midst of this Feast, O Savior, give Thou my thirsty soul to drink of the waters of true worship; for Thou didst call out to all, saying: Whosoever is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Wherefore, O Christ our God, Fountain of life, glory to Thee. (Apolytikion of the Feast, Tone 8)

On the Wednesday of the Paralytic, we celebrate the Feast of Mid-Pentecost.

Standing in the midst of the teachers, Christ the Messiah teacheth at Mid-Feast.

Mid-Pentecost is the midpoint of the fifty days between the Feasts of Pascha and Pentecost. In the Divine Liturgy Gospel passage, we read that “in the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the Temple, and taught” (John 7:14).

Summer's Almost Here: Sign Up Your Kids for Camp!

Calling all parents! June is just around the corner, and for schoolchildren, the long awaited season of summer is about to begin. Throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese, the counselors, cooks, and clergy of our church camps are preparing for another busy season. You are urged to sign up your child now since some of the camps fill up quickly. (Antiochian Village sessions are all full.) If sending a child off to camp is new to you, refer to these Resources for Parents from Antiochian Village's website. More details are also available from the Department of Camping.

Sign up Now! Metropolitan Joseph's Archpastoral Directive Regarding the Sacred Music Institute

On March 9, 2016, Metropolitan Joseph issued this Archpastoral Directive. Please note that the early bird deadline is June 8: rooms are going fast so book soon!

Dear Reverend Pastors of this God-Protected Archdiocese,

Greetings and Blessings during this Holy Triodion Season!

The Department of Sacred Music has been charged to elevate the beauty of our liturgical music in our parishes and missions. The Sacred Music Institute (SMI) provides necessary instruction, education and tools to our choir directors, singers and chanters, without which we cannot properly glorify the Lord with our chanting and singing. With a history of over thirty years, the Sacred Music Institute has a proven track record of helping church musicians of all ages and levels progress in their ministry.

Thomas Sunday

Today the fragrance of spring is shed forth, and the new creation shall rejoice. Today the locks shall be lifted from the doors with the faithlessness of the beloved Thomas, as he shouteth out, Thou art my Lord and my God.

-Orthros of the Feast

On the second Sunday of Pascha, we inaugurate the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, and the occasion whereon the Holy Apostle Thomas touched the Savior’s side.

View our Paschal resources section

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for Great and Holy Pascha

May 1, 2016

Christ is Risen! Indeed he is Risen!

We greet you with great joy and love as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.  I wish to share with you this beautiful Paschal Oration by St. Gregory the Theologian as my pastoral message for Pascha:

Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him.  
Yesterday I died with Him; Today I am made alive with Him.
Yesterday I was buried with Him; today I am raised up with Him.
Let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us…ourselves, the possession most precious to God and most proper.
Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us.
Let us become divine for His sake, since for us He became man.
He assumed the worse that He might give us the better.
He became poor that by 
His poverty we might become rich.

Great and Holy Friday

On Great and Holy Friday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the sufferings of Christ: the mockery, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nails, the thirst, the vinegar and gall, the cry of desolation, and all the Savior endured on the Cross. "Today He Who hung the earth on the waters is hung on the tree," sing the solemn worshippers. Beginning with the Orthros of Holy Friday on Thursday evening, and ending with Vespers on Friday afternoon, the day is one of solemn observation and strict fasting. The richness of the liturgical actions and hymnography on this day, are unsurpassed.

We worship Your passion and Your burial,
for by them, You have saved us from death!

For more reflections and resources, please visit our Holy Week section. And for more material dedicated to the pinnacle of the liturgical year, visit Antiochian.org/Pascha.

Great and Holy Wednesday

The woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy divinity, O Lord, fulfilled the part of a myrrh-bearer; and with lamentations she brought sweet-smelling oil of myrrh to Thee before Thy burial. "Woe is me," she said, "for night surrounds me, dark and moonless, and stings my lustful passion with the love of sin. Accept the fountain of my tears, O Thou who drawest down from the clouds the waters of the sea. Incline ot the groanings of my heart, O Thou who in Thine inneffable self-emptying hast bowed down the heavens. I shall kiss Thy most pure feet and wipe them with the hairs of my head, those feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise, and hid herself for fear. Who can search out the multitude of my sins and the abyss of Thy judgements, O Savior of my soul? Despise me not, Thine handmaiden, for Thou hast mercy without measure."

Tone 8, by Kassiani the Nun

Holy Tuesday: The Hymn of St. Kassiane

At Bridegroom Orthros on Great and Holy Tuesday, the Church sings the following hymn by St. Kassiane:

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy divinity, fulfilled the part of a myrrh-bearer; and with lamentations she brought sweet-smelling oil of myrrh to Thee before Thy burial. 'Woe is me,' she said, 'for night surrounds me, dark and moonless, and stings my lustful passion with the love of sin. Accept the fountain of my tears, O Thou who drawest down from the clouds the waters of the sea. Incline to the groanings of my heart, O Thou who in Thine ineffable self-emptying hast bowed down the heavens. I shall kiss Thy most pure feet and wipe them with the hairs of my heads, those feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise and hid herself for fear. Who can search out the multitude of my sins and the abyss of Thy judgments, O Saviour of my soul? Despise me not, Thine handmaiden, for Thou hast mercy without measure.

Listen to the Hymn chanted by the St. Romanos Choir of Beirut
Hymn of St. Kassiani sung by Grace Atherholt, Holy Week 2015 + St. John Chrysostom Church, York, PA

Palm Sunday + The Entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ Into Jerusalem

O Christ God, when before thy voluntary sufferings Thou didst explain to all the confirmation of universal resurrection; Thou didst raise Lazarus in Bethany by thine exalted might, after he had been dead for four days. And to the blind Thou didst give sight; for Thou art the Giver of light, O Savior. Thou didst also enter the city with thy Disciples, sitting on an ass, fulfilling the preaching of the Prophets, as though riding upon the cherubim, and the Hebrew youths received Thee with palms and branches. Wherefore, we also carry olive branches and palms, crying out to Thee in gratitude, Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he that cometh In the Name of the Lord.

- Orthros of the Feast

For more Holy Week reflections and resources, see our section here. And for more material dedicated to the pinnacle of the liturgical year, visit our Pascha section.

A Joint Statement: Three Years on the Abduction of Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna

On April 21, 2016, a joint statement was issued by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, marking the three year anniversary of the abduction of Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna.
 
 
Balamand, 21 April, 2016
 
Beloved Spiritual Children, Our Compatriots, Brothers and Sisters in Humanity,
 
On this day, three years ago, the Bishops of Aleppo, Metropolitans Paul Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim were kidnapped near Aleppo. This incident occurred while they were in a humanitarian mission to help save others. Since then, we have not heard any official news about them. No governments, associations, or great or small powers have provided us with any information about them. Since three years, their case became a miniature of the great human suffering coming from terrorism: massacres, abductions, deracination, takfir, and explosions. This is done under the pretexts of slogans and clichés. All this was done with no empathy to tearful mothers from Syria and the whole world and the broken hearts of many people who have prayed and worked to end this great human tragedy that has been going on for the last five years under false pretexts.

Memory Eternal! +Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou)

+Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou), 1924 – 2016

It was with great sadness that we learned of the falling asleep in our Lord Jesus Christ of His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephanou) on Sunday April 17th, 2016.  I was personally blessed to know Metropolitan Constantine during my time in Damascus, and I can certainly testify to his holiness, and prayerfulness.  It can truly be said that he was a man of God. 

Metropolitan Constantine was born in 1924 in Damascus, Syria where he was educated in the city's parochial schools. Desirous of entering upon an ecclesiastical career, His Eminence was blessed to study in Greece before he was ordained to the holy priesthood in 1951 by Patriarch Alexander III (Tahan) of Antioch.  He then served as a priest in Damascus and its vicinity for eighteen years. During the late 1950s he was appointed as the director of the Balamand Clerical School in north Lebanon, and in 1964 was assigned by Patriarch Theodosios VI (Abourjaily) VI as abbot of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of the Great-martyr George al-Humayra in the "Valley of the Christians" in Syria.

Fifth Sunday in Lent + St. Mary of Egypt

Thou didst sever with the sword of abstinence the snares of the soul and the passion of the body, O righteous one. And by the silence of asceticism thou didst choke the sins of thought. And by the stream of thy tears thou didst water the whole wilderness, bringing forth for us the fruits of repentance. Wherefore, we celebrate thy memory.

-Vespers of the Feast

On the fifth Sunday of Lent, we commemorate St. Mary of Egypt. By her example, we are reminded of the extraordinary power of repentance and God's mercy, by which even the greatest sinner may be transformed and sanctified.

Read about the life of St. Mary of Egypt
Read a reflection on St. Mary's life by Fr. Patrick Tutella
Visit our full section on Great Lent