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Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2016

Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2016 

“Thy grace hath risen, O Lord and the illumination of our souls hath shown forth.  Lo, now is the acceptable time; the season of repentance hath come.  Let us cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light, that we may pass the great tempest of fasting and reach the summit of the third day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.”  (from the Aposticha of the Vesper Service for the Evening of Cheese Fare)

We greet you with anticipation as we embark on the Holy Season of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The beautiful verse above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we begin our journey to draw nearer to God so that we may worthily rejoice in His Resurrection.  We are called to “cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light”.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for Forgiveness Sunday

Pastoral Message for Forgiveness Sunday

March 13, 2016

“If you forgive other people few things, few of your own will be forgiven.  If you forgive many things, many of your own will be forgiven.  If you forgive them with sincerity and with your whole heart, God will forgive yours in the same manner.  If after forgiving you make your enemy into your friend, thus will God also be disposed towards you”.

(St. John Chrysostom on Genuine Forgiveness)

We greet you on this holy day of Forgiveness Sunday as we stand on the threshold of the Great Fast and ask one another for forgiveness of our sins.

The beautiful quote above from St. John Chrysostom is a powerful reminder of the importance of forgiveness which helps us to understand why we recite in the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Meatfare Sunday (Sunday of the Last Judgment)

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.

To learn more about the season of pre-Lenten preparation, please visit our Great Lent section.

Catechesis by St. Theodore the Studite on Meatfare Sunday

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.

Visit our full section on Great Lent.

March 2016 Edition of The Word Now Available

Click cover to download: 

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

Vocations Are Gifts from God
by His Grace Bishop John

The Pursuit: Towards Christian Manhood

Staying in Balance in the Pastoral Life
by His Grace Bishop John

Seeing Christ in the Saints
by Fr. Joshua Burnett

The Holy Practice of Iconography: Why Start Young?
by Randi Maria Sider-Rose, M.Div.

He Is Love: Teamwork in Indonesia
by Presbytera Renee Ritsi

...and more!

Metropolitan Joseph Presides at Cathedral Liturgy and Institute Gathering

Above all else, prayer leads Orthodox Christians to repentance, forgiveness, piety, and every virtue inspired by Great Lent. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph preached this lesson at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Los Angeles on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the day that ushers in the Church's preparation for the Great Fast.

Sayidna Joseph said that the Pharisee, a religious leader perceived to be pious, offered a "judgmental prayer" to God by saying he was not like others, "extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector" (Luke 18:11). "This is not a prayer at all," His Eminence said. "But the Publican offers a holy prayer — 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' (Luke 18:13) — this is what God wants to hear from us.He is ready to visit us through this type of prayer because we are ready for Him."

His Eminence likened the Pharisee's prayer to superstition, thinking he could justify his faith by tithing and fasting twice a week (Luke 18:12). "This is just like thinking it's enough to light candles, socialize, and then fight one another in the Church," Sayidna said. He pointed the faithful to the prayerful humility of the Publican. "When we humble ourselves, we lose nothing but pride and anger and gain Christ. He moves closer to us and we move closer to Him."

March is Antiochian Women Month

The month of March, designated as Antiochian Women’s Month by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, is a time when the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America encourage their sisters in Christ to participate in the Liturgy and minister in their parishes and their communities. 

Learn more about Antiochian Women and download the resources below.

Mid-Winter Meetings to be held in Garden Grove, CA: March 4-6, 2016

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, the 2016 Mid-Winter Meetings will be hosted by St. Luke Orthodox Church in Garden Grove, CA, on March 4-6, 2016. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine/Young Adult Ministry, and Teen SOYO will gather for their annual mid-winter meetings to conduct the business of our Archdiocese organizations. Travel, lodging, and registration information is below. Please contact your NAC/NAB President with any questions.

Lest We Forget: The Legacy of Metropolitan Antony Bashir

by Fr. Antony Gabriel, first published in The Word Magazine, February 1998

"Orthodoxy is a freedom-loving, democratic faith it is at its best in our free America. Our people are part and parcel of America, gladly giving their treasure and the blood of their sons to safeguard its free institutions which are the reflection of the freedom they find in their faith. If the best of Byzantium has survived, it is in the United States, and if there is an Orthodox political ideal, it is enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

"Thus, while we must still minister to many who remember the ways and customs of another land, it is our policy to make our Church in the United States, an American Church. In my own archdiocese, under my administration, we have pioneered in the introduction of English in our Services and sermons. From the beginning of my ministry, I began the printing of English service books, and the training of English-speaking priests. We are tied to no sacred language; we recognize all tongues as the creation of God, and employ them in His worship. We have no desire to perpetuate anything but the Gospel of Christ, and that we can do as effectively in English as in any other tongue."

Remembering Metropolitan Antony Bashir on the 50th Anniversary of His Repose

By Peter Samore

As time passes, fewer and fewer people—even within the Antiochian Archdiocese—are still with us, who can vividly recall Metropolitan Antony Bashir, the man whom the late Fr. Alexander Schmemann called a “founding father of the American Church.” A half-century has passed since his repose on February 15, 1966, and now the Metropolitan endures mostly in black and white photographs and humorous anecdotes. Many of the clergy he ordained and many of the laity he inspired have already passed from this life, too.

Yet that does not diminish the legacy of Metropolitan Antony, who guided Antiochians in North America through the Great Depression, World War II, and so many other conflicts during his 30 years of leadership. The Antiochian Archdiocese owes much to his efforts, and is commemorating the 50th anniversary of his repose this weekend.

Fortunately, the Very Reverend Economos Constantine Nasr has served as Sayidna Antony’s biographer to ensure that his life was recorded for posterity. Since Fr. Constantine knew the metropolitan well in his later years, he has continued to aggregate the stories, historical documents, photos, and personal interviews All of Fr. Constantine's efforts culminated in the publication of a biography of the Metropolitan's life, Antony Bashir: Metropolitan and Missionary.

Becoming Truly Human: the Spirit of Orthodox Christian Evangelism

by Sdn. Adam Lowell Roberts

Many of you may be familiar with the new Antiochian Archdiocese program Becoming Truly Human. Becoming Truly Human is a new evangelism program available to every parish in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and the ministry has been blessed to be shared with other jurisdictions.

While some may be weary of programs, this program has proven to be different. More than several priests and lay people have admitted they were wrong about their initial concerns. Others recognized right away that this program captures and shares the spirit of Orthodox evangelism. They applauded the Archdiocese for having a program which is effective, loving, Orthodox in spirit and nature, and above all helping our North American churches reconnect with our history of evangelism. We even have some overseas churches wanting to run the program.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

February 2, 2016

“Say, O Simeon, Whom carriest thou in the Temple in thine arms with rejoicing? Towards Whom dost thou cry, shouting, Now I have been let to depart; for I have beheld my Savior. This is He born of the Virgin. This is the Word, God of God, Who wast incarnate for our sakes, and saved man. Him let us worship.”

(From the Stichera of Great Vespers for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord)

We greet you with love and joy on this Holy Feast of the Presentation of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ into the Temple.  The verse from the Great Vespers of the holy feast which is quoted above transmits to us the essence of this holy feast.

February Liturgical Texts are Now Available

Metropolitan Joseph at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA, during the “Ceremony of the Presentation of the Boys” in 2015Metropolitan Joseph at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA, during the “Ceremony of the Presentation of the Boys” in 2015In February, the Orthodox Church finishes the forty-day celebration of Christmas and begins its journey into Great Lent. The liturgical texts for the month of February, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

February 2 marks the Great Feast of the Meeting (Presentation) of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ into the ancient Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-40). This was not some random meeting. This feast celebrates our forty-day-old incarnate Lord's first official encounter and manifestation with His people in the person of Simeon. In one of many acts of extreme humility, the divine Word thus lowers Himself and submits to the law in order to fulfill it and save mankind. In honor of this, churches offer the Ceremony of the Presentation of Boys, where our young men receive an extra blessing on this day.

Metropolitan Joseph Attends 50th Anniversary of the Episcopacy of Metropolitan Antonio

From January 14-19, 2016, Metropolitan Joseph visited the faithful in Mexico and participated in the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the episcopacy of Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan Antonio (Chedraoui) of Mexico, Central America and Venezuela. January 17 was Sayedna Antonio's 84th birthday and also, his namesday. The memorable Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was presided over by their Eminences the Archbishops and Bishops of the Patriarchate, and distinguished guests.

View a photo gallery of the visit
View photos on the Archdiocese of Mexico's website
Read about the consecration of the Antiochian Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul in 2011

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Hosts His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios

On Monday, January 11, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph hosted a visit by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, at the Antiochian Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey.

Also attending from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese were His Grace Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, and Rev. Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos.

Also attending from the Antiochian Archdiocese were His Grace Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England, Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Vicar General, and Very Rev. George Kevorkian, Hierarchical Assistant.

"Expressing our Faith": Interview with Rosemary Shumski About the Festivals

Rosemary Shumski is the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Christian Education. As a part of her duties, she serves as the Departmental Assistant for the Creative Festivals and is responsible for coordinating the Festivals on the Archdiocesan level. Rosemary has also served as the Photography Coordinator for the Eastern Dioceses since 2002. 

Rosemary is a graduate of Bloomsburg University and was previously employed in business management. Married to Dn. John Shumski and the mother of three grown children, Rosemary is active at St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in York, PA, where she has taught Sunday School for seventeen years. Recently, Antiochian.org asked her to tell us more about our Archdiocese's unique and successful Creative Festivals program.

Tell us about this year's theme for the Festivals: why was it chosen, and what is its significance for the Church today?

The 2016 Creative Festivals theme is “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:15) This is the first theme chosen by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph.

Theophany of Our Lord + January 6

Tone 4

O Jordan River, why wast thou astonished at beholding the Invisible naked? And he answereth, saying, I beheld Him and trembled; for how shall I not tremble and fear, when the angels trembled at sight of Him, heaven was astounded, earth was encompassed by trepidation, and the sea was bashful, with all things visible and invisible; for Christ hath appeared in the Jordan to bless the waters.

Tone 1

He that encompasseth the heavens with clouds putteth on today the courses of the Jordan; and He that lifteth the sin of the world, cleanseth and purifieth me. Yea, the Spirit hath testified of Him from on high that He is the only Son of the Father on high. Let us, therefore, shout to Him, crying, O Thou Who didst appear and save us, glory to Thee.

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ

“When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast 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. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.” 

+The Apolytikion of the Feast of the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ

We greet you with love and joy on this holy Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Apolytikion of the feast which is quoted above transmits to us the essence of this feast.  Our Lord and God Jesus Christ deigns to be baptized at the hands of John the Baptist, not because he is in need of cleansing of sin, for He is without sin, but so that He might reveal  to us His true identity and at the same time, honor and affirm the new life that comes through baptism.

St. Basil the Great & The Circumcision of the Lord + January 1

In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.

+Apolytikion of St. Basil, Tone 1

When the Savior condescended for the sake of mankind, He was willing to be wrapped in swaddling clothes, and He Who was eight days old on the side of His Mother, and eternal on the side of His Father did not disdain the circumcision of the flesh. Wherefore, let us cry to Him, O believers, Thou art our God; have mercy upon us.

+Doxasticon of the Feast, Tone 8

Many years to His Grace Bishop Basil of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America on his Namesday!
Read Fr. Thomas Hopko's reflection on today's commemorations
The Tradition of the Vasilopita
Read "Message for the New Year" by Fr. George Shalhoub

Online Liturgical Guide Adds January Texts

St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, commemorated on January 24St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, commemorated on January 24The first day of the civil new year begins with the celebration of an important act of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, which leads to another celebration of one of His great feasts. The liturgical texts for the month of January, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

On January 1, eight days after His nativity, our Lord consented to be circumcised in the flesh in order to become the only human to fulfill the Law of Moses. This act of humility and servitude shows that our Lord identifies with the low estate of His people to deliver them from sin and death by introducing God's grace that supersedes the ancient Law.

On this same day, we commemorate St. Basil the Great, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, who reposed peacefully on January 1, 379.

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates Nativity Liturgy

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph celebrated the Nativity Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. View a gallery of photos from the Nativity service.