The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America has completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla, a female monastic community. The property is located in Glenville, Pennsylvania and consists of 51 acres of land which includes a four-bedroom “move-in-ready” house, a two-story barn, and a three-car garage with an attached workshop. The property also has a pond, and includes 30 acres of farmland and seven acres of woodland.
The original plan for the Convent called for it to be built on a parcel of land which is on the main property of Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of doing this would be too high, especially given that it would have required that all the infrastructure (road, water, electricity, and sewage) be made available at the site. There was also the risk that environmental concerns (such as the discovery of endangered plant life or animals) could have seriously impacted the building plans. The purchase was funded by a combination of the money that had been raised by the Antiochian Women through their multi-year fundraising effort, an endowment fund that had been set aside many years ago for this purpose, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.
The April 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Curriculum Vitae of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, pg. 4
A Response to the Encyclical of H.B. Patriarch Youhanna X, pg. 11
by Economos Antony Gabriel
The Funeral Service: Lecture 5 - Christian Burial, Graves and Cemetaries, pg. 12
by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
Orthodox Spirituality in an Ungodly Age, pg. 17
by Kevin Allen
Planting the doctrines of Orthodoxy, uprooting the thistles of wicked opinion, O blessed one, and growing well the plant of faith with the rain of thy sayings, thou didst offer to God, like a good farmer, ears a hundred fold.
+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 1
On the second Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the triumph of the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas, who upheld the Orthodox doctrine that humans can know God not through the intellect alone, but through experience of God's uncreated energies. The Council of Blachernae in 1351 which upheld St. Gregory's teachings was considered a second Triumph of Orthodoxy.
A Man Fully Alive: A Homily for St. Gregory Palamas Sunday by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick
New relationships and unity among Orthodox Christian youth workers are the result of diligent efforts by the Committee for Youth, one of the very active committees of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
The committee’s members are Bishop Thomas (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese), Metropolitan Alexios (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) and Bishop Irineu (Orthodox Church in America). As with all of the Assembly’s committees, clergy and lay consultants support the work of the committee. The Committee for Youth has more than sixty consultants with extensive experience and knowledge of Orthodox youth and youth programs.
One of the fruits of the committee’s efforts has been new relationships and increased collaboration among jurisdictional youth directors. “Prior to the committee’s formation, a handful of jurisdictional youth directors would meet occasionally,” says His Grace Bishop Thomas, the chairman of the committee. “Now there are 17 who meet in person and by phone, representing every jurisdiction in the Assembly.
Verily, Gabriel did come to thee, disclosing the purpose which was before the ages, hailing thee and saying, Rejoice O unseeded land! Rejoice, O unburning bush! Rejoice, O depth inaccessible to vision! Rejoice, O bridge leading to the heavens! Rejoice, O lofty ladder whom Jacob did behold! Rejoice, O jar of divine manna! Rejoice, O dissolution of the curse! Rejoice, O recall of Adam! The Lord is with thee.
Vespers of the Feast, Tone 6
Homily on the Annunciation by St. Gregory the Wonderworker
God's Free Gift, by Fr. Steven Rogers
The Boy Who Died and The Boy Who Lived: Reflections on the Annunciation, by Douglas Cramer
Today hath appeared, a day full of joy, because the splendor of true doctrine shineth forth brilliantly, and the Church of Christ now sparkleth, adorned by the elevation of the Icons of the saints and their illustrating pictures, and believers attain there a unity rewarded of God.
+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 4
On the first Sunday in Lent, we commemorate the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 A.D. upholding the use of holy icons in Orthodox worship. We also commemorate today the unity of Orthodox belief and the oneness of our Faith throughout our various jurisdictions, nations and languages and across the continents and the centuries.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip addresses the faithful at the start of Great Lent:
Beloved in the Lord,
Greetings and blessings to you as we enter this most holy season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
During this time of the Great Fast, we once again turn our attention to the Food for Hungry People Program of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine. For almost 40 years this campaign has had a tremendous impact throughout the world to help alleviate hunger and the numberless tragedies caused by poverty. With several tragic events that continue plaguing our world including, but not limited to, the recent war in Syria, the natural disasters that wreak havoc on our own continent like Hurricane Sandy and others, we depend on your support to help the victims of these man-made and natural tragedies.
From the March 2013 issue of The Word
Eight years ago, David DeJonge came to St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids to photograph the wedding of Jamie Abraham, a parishioner of St. Nicholas. David is a very well-known photographer, having completed portraits of many notable Americans (including President Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, John McCain, Antony Scalia, Newt Gingrich, Jesse Jackson). Being keenly aware of images, David was struck by the icons recently painted by iconographer, Fr. Theodore Koufos. This first encounter with Orthodox icons was the beginning of a spiritual journey that led to his chrismation in the Holy Orthodox Church. David was again engaged to return to St. Nicholas several times to photograph the installation of other icons with the intent of producing a historical picture-book for the parish. It was through his labor and the icons that David discovered the saints who lived from apostolic times down into the twentieth century.
As the faithful celebrate the high point of the Church year—Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha—the Department of Internet Ministry has launched a rebuilt section of resources and reading for the season. Great Lent Resources & Readings is a topical library of links and reflections that presents the meaning and practice of the forty days of prayer and worship in an engaging and accessible format. The goal is that this will be a useful tool for teaching about Lent, for both newcomers to the Orthodox Christian Faith as well as for those who are rediscovering the spiritual benefits of the Lenten journey.
Visitors to Great Lent Resources & Readings will find three distinct subsections, each with its own theme:
- All Revered Days: the Lenten Calendar is a library of information broken into the weeks of Lent from the Pre-Lenten Sundays through Holy Week,
- Bright Sadness: Entering into the Lenten Spring contains wise counsel about making the most of the forty days, and
- Holy Week: Journey to the Empty Tomb offers an overview of Holy Week as well as reflections on some of its specific days, such as Holy Friday.
Though they are too many to name, we'd like to extend thanks to all the various sources who have allowed us to repurpose their material, and we encourage those maintaining Orthodox websites of their own to link to this section.
O Lord, we were estranged before from paradise, because of eating from the tree. Therefore, lead us into it again by Thy Cross and by Thy Passion, my Savior and my God. Fortify us therein that we may fulfill our fast with becoming purity, and worship Thy divine Resurrection and Passover of salvation, by the intercessions of Thy Mother.
-- from Orthros, Tone 2
For those observing the Lenten Fast, Cheese-Fare Sunday is the last day on which eggs and dairy are eaten before Pascha. Click here to read more about the Lenten Fast.
On Cheese-Fare Sunday, we also commemorate the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, entering into the Lenten fast in remembrance of mankind's separation from God through disobeying his commandment to fast from the fruit of the tree.
The Holy Synod of Antioch has issued the attached statement in English and Arabic. It begins:
March 13, 2013
The Fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch held a meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. The meeting was chaired by His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X. The Fathers discussed the situation arising from the election of Archimandrite Makarios by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as the “Archbishop of Qatar”, on March 4, 2013. This election is against the Ecclesiastical Canons of the Orthodox Catholic Church. After deliberations and the approval of the Holy Synod Fathers in the Mother lands and abroad, the following statement was issued to be distributed to all the faithful and to all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
Read the full statement below (PDF format).
(Adapted from The Word, March 2013)
Last fall, the Antiochian parish of St. Mary in Chambersburg, PA, began its fourth year of service to the surrounding community through the St. Seraphim Orthodox Center (SS OC). Affiliated with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS), the ministry serves lunch to some 35 to 45 guests on Thursdays and Saturdays, complimenting the lunch schedule of the local Salvation Army.
During his August 2012 visit to St. Mary Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Thomas repeatedly stressed the importance of the parish’s work at the Center in the downtown area, and urged parishioners to continue and extend this ministry to the wider community.
The trumpets shall blow, and the graves shall be empty, and all mankind shall rise trembling. They who have done good shall rejoice with joy, expecting their reward; and those who have done evil shall tremble greatly, moaning and shaking, as they are sent to suffering, separated from the elect. Wherefore, O Lord of glory, be compassionate toward us, and make us worthy to be of those who love thee; for thou art good.
-from Vespers, Tone 6
For those observing the Lenten Fast, Meatfare Sunday is the last day on which meat and poultry are eaten before Pascha. Click here to read more about the Lenten Fast.
To learn more about the season of pre-Lenten preparation, please visit our Great Lent section.
Read more about Meatfare Sunday, in an excerpt from Great Lent by Alexander Schmemann.
Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko's reflections on the Sunday of the Last Judgment on Ancient Faith Radio.
His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, has prepared an extensive pastoral letter for his flock. It includes sections on Preaching, A Responsible Priesthood, Love and Pastoral Work, The Dialogue of Religions, and much more. The letter opens:
It is a pleasure to address you through this message, hoping that it conveys to you some of my concerns as to what our Church needs today and what is demanded of each of us. I would like to resort to these words:
"In grace we grow, in service we transcend, and in love the structure is strengthened", as a motto for my Patriarchate, as God has willed that I will be watching over the Antiochian Church and embracing its children with the help of my brothers the bishops. The Church is the Church of all of us. God has willed that we are in it as brethren, in order to work as one body.
The March 2013 issue includes the following articles:
I Am an Antiochian Woman, pg. 4
by Violet K. Robbat
Enthronement Speech of H.B. Patriarch John X, pg. 6
David DeJonge: Beyond the Image, pg. 11
The Funeral Service: Lecture 4, pg. 16
by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
So What's the Big Deal with Great Lent?, pg. 30
by Fr. Joseph Allen
When I disobey in ignorance thy fatherly glory, I wasted in iniquities the riches that thou gavest me. Wherefore, I cry to thee with the voice of the prodigal son, saying, I have sinned before thee, O compassionate Father, receive me repentant, and make me as one of thy hired servants.
- Kontakion, Tone 3
I have been entrusted with a verdant and faultless region, but I planted evil in its soil and reaped its cares with the scythe of laziness. And I gathered my deeds into sheaves but placed them not on the threshing-floor of repentance. Wherefore, I ask thee, O divine Husbandman, to winnow the straw of my deeds with the breeze of thy compassionate love; and fill my soul with the wheat of forgiveness. Store me in thy heavenly garners and save me.
- from Vespers, Tone 1
The month of March, designated as Antiochian Women’s Month by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, is a time when the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women encourage their sisters in Christ to participate in the Liturgy and minister in their parishes and their communities. Notes President Violet Robbat, "...however large or small our roles, what is important for an Antiochian Woman is that we are focused on our faith and His church."
Resources for Women's Month:
- A brochure about the 2013 project and scholarship (PDF)
- Metropolitan Philip's letter about Women's Month (PDF)
- A sermonette introducing the 2013 Project (PDF)
- Vice–President Dianne O'Regan's Women's Month letter (PDF)
- Read an article by His Grace Bishop Nicholas, "The Role of Women in the Orthodox Church" (PDF)
- Read President Violet Robbat's reflection, "I am an Antiochian Woman"
- Visit Orthodox Women Saints, a complete year of saints' lives
Learn more about Antiochian Women.
On February 27, we commemorate the repose of our beloved father among the saints, St. Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn.
Today is the day we honor the holy hierarch Raphael! Who can describe his many sorrows and his many labors? Who can describe his many pains? He journeyed on land and on the sea, searching for his lost sheep, in weariness and in poverty, in sleeplessness, thirst and hunger. He became the good shepherd of the lost sheep in America, so let us cry out unto to him: O our Father, intercede for the salvation of our souls!
+ Praises at Orthros
Learn more about St. Raphael of North America via this excellent online resource that includes pictures from his glorification, the story of his life, hymns and more.
The Hidden Garden: a story of the heart, by Antiochian children’s book author and editor Jane Meyer, is a parable that employs the imagery of the garden to teach children about the inner heart and the need to cultivate peace and beauty there. "I have long wanted to write a book for children that touches on the idea of the nous—that place within us that searches and longs for and knows God—where the heart and the mind are integrated and work as one with holy intentions and for holy purposes," explains Mrs. Meyer. "Children have an incredible capacity for touching and knowing God....But do they know that they can nurture and protect and tend that place within them where God resides?
Meditations for Great Lent is written by notable author Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou.
O Lord, Thou didst reproach the Pharisee when he justified himself, boasting of his deeds; and justified the Publican when he approached humbly, seeking forgiveness with sighs; for Thou dost not draw near to arrogant thoughts, nor turn away contrite hearts. Wherefore, we also kneel before Thee meekly, O Thou Who didst suffer for our sakes. Grant us forgiveness and the Great Mercy.
--Doxasticon from Orthros, Tone 8
When the Pharisee went down with empty glory, and the publican bowed himself in repentance, they came to Thee alone, O Master. But the one through boasting lost his reward, and the other by his silence deserved gifts. Wherefore, by those sighs confirm me, O Christ God, since Thou art the Lover of mankind.
--from the Praises at Orthros, Tone 1
Read more about the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, in an excerpt from Great Lent by Alexander Schmemann.
Listen to a podcast about the Sunday by Fr. Josiah Trenham, The Doors of Repentance.