Tskvarichamia, Georgia -- The leaves have already changed in Tskvarichamia, a mountain hamlet about 15 miles above Tbilisi. For the 16 families taking shelter in a modest building, this is not a herald of the harvest, but rather, an ominous reminder that winter is coming and they are not prepared.
At dusk, two mothers, their children and an elderly couple sit on the front porch and explain to an aid worker that the rest of the families have gone to the authorities to protest their living conditions and to demand that they be moved to Tbilisi. “We feel cut off up here,” says Nanna, carrying her small son on her lap. “It is cold and we cannot properly care for our children.” She and her husband were farmers in the village of Kemerti in South Ossetia, and like many who were displaced by this summer’s fighting between Russian and Georgian forces, they fled with little more than the clothes on their backs.
The group that had gone to Tbilisi return, and seeing the visitor immediately launch into a litany of complaints. They have no kitchen utensils. Blankets were delivered but the mattresses are no good. Above all, the building was formerly used as a summer camp for children and there is not enough insulation from the cold. “We may be blocked up here from other areas in the winter and our children have to go to school, ” says one woman.
Baltimore, Maryland — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) lent a hand recently to the American Red Cross in its effort to bring relief and recovery to communities in Houston and Galveston that were devastated by Hurricane Ike. IOCC delivered $140,000 worth of medical and hygiene supplies to the American Red Cross Auchan shelter in Houston. The supplies include such items as baby wipes, gloves, hygiene and toiletry kits, antibacterial soap and medical items.
The supplies, which were donated by IOCC partner Globus Relief, will be divided among Auchan and three other shelters in the Houston area benefitting more than 2,000 individuals.
Since early September, IOCC has also been sending a team of Orthodox clergy known as the Frontline to American Red Cross shelters in Houston and Galveston. The Frontline volunteers are trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), a form of trauma counseling and evaluation. Shelters are filled to capacity, according to American Red Cross officials who invited IOCC’s assistance.
Several Orthodox churches in the Houston area, as well as outside Texas, have provided IOCC with valuable logistical assistance, supplies and counsel throughout this effort.
Antiochian Village Senior Accountant
Company: Antiochian Village, Ligonier, PA
Status: Full Time Employee
Education Level: College graduate
Responsible to the Antiochian Village Conference Center Executive Director and the Antiochian Village Camp Director
About the Village: The Antiochian Village Camp and Conference Center was founded in 1978 initially as a camp for young people. The Conference Center was added in 1985 as a full service Conference and Retreat Center that includes 100 hotel-style lodging rooms, a full array of meeting rooms, a chapel, a Library specializing in Orthodox Theology and Middle Eastern Studies, a full-service Dining Hall and so much more. In 2004, the Heritage Museum was added to the Antiochian Village as well.
Current Feature: Orthodoxy and Ecumenism
with Fr. John McGuckin.
Fr. John McGuckin, noted scholar and host of an OCN podcast series called "Turning to the Fathers," discusses important points of distinction between Orthodox Christianity and other Christian confessions, including the idea of "sola scriptura," the role of tradition, the communion of the saints and more.
October 17th: Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922
with Giles Milton.
Giles Milton, an international best-selling author, talks about his newest book, "Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922." Giles tells the largely unknown story of the destruction of Smyrna, an extraordinary, heterogeneous and tolerant city with a large Orthodox Christian population — a disaster that would prefigure the coming clash of civilizations between East and West.
October 24th: Time Management
with Dr. Albert Rossi.
Dr. Albert Rossi of St. Vladimir's Seminary offers some practical steps to help us set aside more time for family, relationships and meaningful spiritual growth in a busy world.
The October 2008 issue includes the following articles:
Christians and Jews Under Islam, pg. 4
by Najib Saliba, Ph.D.
Preaching Christ Crucified at the Transfiguration, pg. 12
by Fr. Steven C. Salaris, M.Div., Ph.D.
A Son's Journey to the Priesthood, pg. 14
Special Olympics Training Camp at the Antiochian Village: A Little Taste of Heaven, pg. 17
I Am a Consumer, by Fr. Daniel Daly, pg. 30
BRUSSELS, Belgium – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew delivered a major address to the Plenary Assembly of the European Parliament during the formal sitting of the assembly in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, September 24, 2008. His All Holiness was introduced by Mr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament. The Press Release of the European Parliament highlighting His All Holiness’ address is given in full below, as well as a link to the address in its entirety.
"We are all brothers and sisters", Ecumenical Patriarch tells MEPs
Addressing a formal sitting of the House as part of European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I, spoke of the value of the European project in promoting peace and tolerance, the importance of accepting minorities and the need for the EU to accept Turkey as a member. He also underlined his church's efforts to encourage respect for the environment.
Introducing the Ecumenical Patriarch, EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering stressed that "The European Union is a community based on values, the most fundamental of which is human dignity. In this respect religious freedom is central to human dignity". He linked this to the separation of church and state, as anchored in the Lisbon Treaty.
Mr Pöttering described the Patriarch as "a beacon to your followers in the Orthodox world" and pointed out that recent EU enlargements had brought in the Orthodox countries of Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania. He added "The late Pope John Paul II used the metaphor of Europe breathing again with its two lungs after the downfall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. We could also use this metaphor to refer to the richness in the enlarged EU brought through the different perspectives of Western and Eastern Christianity".
Here are some updates from Bishop BASIL on the parishes in the path of Hurricane Ike. From the reports that have come in so far, all clergy and their families are safe, and their homes are mostly unharmed, with only minor damage (at least, as can be determined now). Several priests have not been able to travel to their churches or contact their parishioners, so please continue your prayers for our Orthodox brethren as they clean and rebuild.
"Let all the trees of the wood, planted from the beginning of time, rejoice; for their nature hath been sanctified by the stretching of Christ on the Tree. Wherefore, now, we worship Him, lifted up, and magnify Him."
-- Canon of the Feast, Ninth Ode, Tone 8
"By the mere planting of thy Cross, O Christ, the foundation of death did shake; for him whom Hades did swallow eagerly, it delivered up with trembling; for verily, thou didst reveal to us thy salvation, O holy One. Wherefore, do we glorify thee, O Son of God. Have mercy upon us."
-- Second Kathisma, Orthros of the Feast, Tone 6
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. Two events connected to the Honorable Cross of our Lord are commemorated this day: first, the finding of the Cross by the Empress Helena in the Holy Land; and second, the return of the Cross from Persia to Jerusalem in the year 628.
Hymnography of the Feast from the Department of Liturgics and Translations.
Listen to Frederica Mathewes-Green discuss the Feast on OCN's Icons in Sound broadcast.
From Bishop BASIL:
O almighty and everlasting Father, King of kings and Lord of lords, Thou Who art the unfailing Protection of the faithful and the sure Hope of all who trust in Thee: As we mourn the sudden violence and deaths occasioned by the evil and barbarous attacks on our nation of September 11th, 2001 and celebrate the selfless heroism of the first-responders, we humbly beseech Thee to reveal unto us the immense power of Thine own goodness. Come swiftly to our aid, and have mercy upon all who call upon Thee. In Thy boundless compassion do Thou comfort those who mourn this day, bestow healing of body and soul to the survivors, and grant blessed repose in the bosom of Abraham to the souls of those departed this life. Vouchsafe unto us that peace which passeth all understanding that we may ascribe glory and thanksgiving unto Thee, together with Thine only-begotten Son and Thine all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, September 11, 2001
Join us for "An Evening of Celebration" in Boston!
His Beatitude, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV, will visit the Antiochian Archdiocese in the United States from October 28-November 2, 2008. His Beatitude will arrive at Newark airport and will be staying in Boston, Massachusetts. During his stay, he will a preside over a banquet on Saturday evening, Nov. 1, 2008, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the University of Balamand in Lebanon. His Beatitude will be celebrating Divine Liturgy on Sunday, Nov. 2 at a place to be determined within the Diocese of New England.
Hotel arrangements can be made at the Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116 or by calling 800/937-8461. The rooms are reserved in the name of the University of Balamand/Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. The rate is $199.00 per night and you must make your reservations before October 17, 2008 to get this special rate.
In honor of His Beatitude's visit, Metropolitan PHILIP is suggesting that parishes in the Archdiocese make a donation to University of Balamand Scholarship Fund that benefits needy and worth students. For more information on the Scholarship Fund, and how to make a donation, please see Metropolitan PHILIP's letter here.
The summer 2008 issue of The Handmaiden explores the mystery of today’s miracles, some that we encounter close to home, and others that we purposefully travel to as pilgrims, looking for deeper personal insight and inspiration. The issue includes the features "Finding a Miracle" by Paul D. Sidebottom; "My Encounter with Saint Xenia" by Jill Wallerstedt; "Our Lady of Cicero: Two Young Priests Share their Experience with a Weeping Icon" by Heather Zydek; and "A Pilgrimage of a Lifetime" by Archpriest John Bethancourt.
Readers can sample the latest issue with the article Keeping Students Connected to the Church by Fr. Kevin Scherer.
The Orthodox Christian Network's Come Receive the Light recently interviewed Fr. Theodore Pulcini, the author of Face to Face: A Guide for Orthodox Christians Encountering Muslims. Fr. Theodore discusses not only differences between the Orthodox Christian and Muslim religions, but also common ground between the faiths. The interview explores topics such as the oneness of God, understanding original sin, ideas of religious community and fundamentalism. Listen to the show here.
Fr. Theodore is the pastor of St. Mary Church in Chambersburg, Pennnsylvania, and is Assistant Professor of Religion at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. His articles have appeared in Diakonia, The Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Church Divinity, Commonweal, and St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly.
Thy nativity, O Theotokos, hath proclaimed joy to the whole universe; for from thee did shine forth the Sun of justice, Christ our God, annulling the curse, and bestowing the blessing, abolishing death and granting us life everlasting.
- Troparion of the Feast, Tone 4
Today the Church celebrates the Birth of the Most-holy Theotokos, the first Great Feast of the Church Year. Here is a meditation on the Feast by Fr. Steven Rogers, from The Word Magazine. Listen here to hymns and discussion of the feast on the Orthodox Christian Network's Icons in Sound.
On Friday, September 12, 2008 at 7:30 pm, the Belgrade Theological Student Choir will present a free public concert on the campus of St. Vladimir's Seminary, in Yonkers/Crestwood, NY. Hailing from Belgrade, Serbia, the choir will offer a program featuring multi-part Russian Orthodox liturgical hymns in Slavonic and traditional Byzantine chant following the typikon of Mount Athos.
Students in the choir will be staying on the seminary campus from September 12-19, as "performers in residence," cultivating cultural and academic fellowship between seminarians in the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at the University of Belgrade, and those at St. Vladimir's.
In particular need of our prayers at this time are our fellow Christians of the Orthodox Christian Patriarchate of Georgia, led by His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II.
His Grace, Bp. BASIL has sent out this prayer:
PRAYER FOR PEACE IN THE CAUCASUS: "O Master Who lovest mankind, King of the ages and Bestower of good things, Who hast destroyed enmity and givest peace to the human race: Grant peace even now unto all Thy servants who dwell in the lands of the Caucasus. Establish among our nations love one for another; quell every uprising; and allay all dissent and temptations. Grant unto them, O Lord, health and oneness of mind, protect them from all tribulations, afflictions and sudden death; bring an end to all enmity and malice which ariseth through the activity of the devil. Plant peace, O Lord, through the intercessions of the holy Theotokos, of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-called, of the first hierarchs of Moscow, of the holy Nino, Equal-to-the-Apostles, and of the Great Martyr George the Victorious. For Thou art our Peace, and we send up glory unto Thee—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."
Constantine Triantafilou, Executive Director and CEO of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) - a ministry supported by the Antiochian Archdiocese via the collective work of the bishops of SCOBA - sends word of the following blessed development:
"I am very pleased to announce that IOCC has secured a major grant that will provide food and emergency supplies to vulnerable families living in Sadr City, one of the poorest and most densely populated districts of Baghdad. The nearly $400,000 grant, awarded to IOCC by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will assist about 2,400 vulnerable families in this predominantly Shiite area, which has been the site of continuous conflict. This program follows a very successful delivery by IOCC of food and hygiene kits to 3,000 families in Baghdad and Mosul. I commend our IOCC Iraqi staff who deliver these life-sustaining supplies while braving Iraq’s hardships."
On August 7, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America released instructions for the clergy and faithful of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America regarding the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America's creation of a "Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA." Our Archpastor's message begins:
"On August 5th, 2008, The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America issued a press release which established a vicariate with the name "Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA". The membership of this vicariate will consist of those communities in the USA which were originally a part of the Patriarchate of Antioch, but most recently (since 1993) were uncanonically claimed by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. From an historical perspective, it has been clear since the disintegration of Orthodox unity which existed in North America until 1917, that the Arabic-speaking Orthodox people in North America have been exclusively under the pastoral care of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Similarly, the Greek-speaking Orthodox people (e.g. Cypriot, Greek, Egyptian, Turkish, etc.) have always been under the pastoral care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. What reaction would occur if the Antiochian Archdiocese were to establish a vicariate for Greek communities which separate themselves from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese?!"
Bishop Demetri’s book, Saints and Martyrs from the Holy Land, is a great contribution to our Orthodox religious library and all those who are interested in the lives of the saints. Bishop Demetri was fortunate to be born not far from the gates of the holy city of Jerusalem. He walked where Jesus walked and breathed the same air which Jesus breathed. He spent his childhood in the shadow of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Mount Tabor, Calvary and the empty tomb. Palestine is a land of prophets, apostles, saints, martyrs and church fathers. We commend Bishop Demetri for writing this volume and we recommend it to all readers, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.
You can learn more about Bishop Demetri at his website, www.almoutran.com. And you can order A Cloud of Witnesses online here!
On August 5, 2008, the eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration, Bishop ALEXANDER visited Camp Transfiguration, in its new location about an hour and 20 minutes from Montreal. It is nestled in the Laurentian mountains on the banks of a lake, and His Grace has provided the pictures below to share the beauty of this uplifting visit. By the grace of God, the direction of Alex Younes and Khalil Samara and the spiritual guidance of Fr. Michael Shaheen the camp has 108 participants, a good number of counselors and volunteers. The kitchen is headed by Salome Tannis, whose family donated the food. The campers are having a good time praying, fishing, sailing, playing ball and doing arts and crafts. Endless thanks go to every one who made this camp happen.
Inshallah next year we can increase the numbers and build more fellowship among our young ones. Pictures follow below.
"Let us crown the Church with songs on the falling asleep of the ark of God; for today doth heaven open its bosom to receive her who gave birth to the One whom all cannot contain. And earth doth adorn itself in blessing and splendour, restoring the fount of life." + Vesperal Litiya of the Feast, Fifth Tone
The Great Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is August 15. In honor of the Holy Virgin Mary, we are making available online this powerful meditation by Bishop BASIL originally published in The Handmaiden, the magazine for Orthodox Christian women from Conciliar Press: Mary, Our Cause for Rejoicing.