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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.

Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity

Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdeth all creation in the hollow of His hand.
He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe.
The God Who from of old established the heavens lieth in a manger.
He Who showered the people with manna in the wilderness feedeth on milk from the breasts.
And the bridegroom of the Church calleth the Magi, and the Son of the Virgin accepteth gifts from them.
We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.
Show us also Thy divine Theophany!

Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ

This is our festival, this is the feast we celebrate today, in which God comes to live with human beings, that we may journey toward God, or return—for to speak thus is more exact—that laying aside the old human being we may be clothed with the new, and that as in Adam we have died so we may live in Christ, born with Christ and crucified with Him, buried with Him, and rising with Him. For it is necessary for me to undergo the good turnaround, and as painful things came from more pleasant things, so out of painful things more pleasant things must return. "For where sin abounded, grace superabounded," and if the taste of forbidden fruit condemned, how much more does the Passion of Christ justify? Therefore we celebrate the feast not like a pagan festival but in a godly manner, not in a worldly way but in a manner above the world. We celebrate not our own concerns but the One who is ours, or rather what concerns our Master, things pertaining not to sickness but to healing, not to the first shaping, but to the reshaping.  (+St. Gregory the Theologian – from the Festal Oration 38 on the Nativity of the Lord)

As we celebrate the Birth in the Flesh of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, the profound words of St. Gregory the Theologian which are quoted above stir in us feelings of great joy and hope because of the great condescension which God has deigned to show toward His children.

2015 Nativity Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

December 20, 2015
By the mercy of God
Patriarch John X, The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
(Read the Arabic version)

To my brother pastors of the Antiochian Holy Church, and my children throughout the Holy See                                                                   

I behold a strange, most glorious mystery: heaven—the cave, the cherubic throne—the Virgin, the manger—the place where Christ lay. The uncontained God whom we magnify in song.

In a manger of love our Jesus was born, and in a cave He chose to visit our humanity.

By His descending, the Lord experienced all our weaknesses except for the sin. He did not chose the scepters or the sofas of the rich in order to preach the salvation, but the womb of a Virgin. He put us on so that we could put Him on. He dwelt in a cave so we may become citizens of Heaven.

St. Ignatius of Antioch + December 20

Like a living monument and an animate image, thy yearly feast is come, O God-bearing Ignatius, proclaiming thy mystic teachings and thy heroic exploits, thy resistance for the Faith even unto blood, and those blessed and celebrated words of thine, which said: I am the wheat of God, and in the teeth of beasts shall I be ground up. Wherefore, as an imitator of the Passion of Christ, intercede that our souls be saved.

+Orthros of the Feast, Tone 1

Because December 20th falls on the Sunday before Nativity, the Antiochian Archdiocese celebrates the Feast of St. Ignatius on Saturday, December 19th in 2015.

Read more about St. Ignatius the God-Bearer
Learn about the Order of St. Ignatius
December is Order of St. Ignatius Month
Resources for the Nativity Season

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Interviewed About Syrian Crisis

During his pastoral visit to Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Christian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah on December 12–14, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph sat down with Antiochian journalist Peter Samore to discuss the Syrian civil war and the millions of refugees it has produced. Sayidna Joseph proposed solutions for ending the bloodshed and for safely welcoming the displaced into the United States. Over the same weekend, His Eminence also ordained Fr. John Mahfouz to the holy priesthood.

In addition to serving as a consultant to the Department of Internet Ministry, Peter reports for KSL Radio, KSL Television, and the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, where his stories with His Eminence appeared this week. 

Read and view stories:
ISIS killers don't represent people of Syria, Archbishop says
Ordination of new assistant pastor is reflection of church's growth

Letter From His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph for Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday: December 13, 2015

"O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!" Psalm 95:1-2

Beloved in Christ,

Each year in the month of December we remember our choirs and chanters. This sacred ministry of the Church is essential to the beauty of our divine services. Oftentimes, a person's first experience of our Holy Orthodox Church is witnessing one of our beautiful services. This experience can either be enhanced by a beautiful and well-prepared choir, or diminished by an unprepared one. We are grateful to all of our choir directors, chanters and singers for their dedication, effort and commitment to making the divine services in their respective parishes beautiful to both God and the faithful.

A Call to Reject all Hateful Speech and Actions Against our Muslim Friends and Neighbors

The Hospitality of Abraham icon depicts unity, and the welcoming of strangersThe Hospitality of Abraham icon depicts unity, and the welcoming of strangersFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Englewood, New Jersey

As Orthodox Christians, we take to heart the commandments of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, especially the commandment that He has told us is the greatest, that is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

We have watched with dismay as several public figures have played on the fear which they assume has swept over this country. Specifically, a recent news release from the Trump campaign has called for “a total and complete shutdown of all Muslims entering the United States”. We reject in the strongest possible terms both this specific call, and all speech and actions which would encourage hate and persecution against any group of people. We call on all leaders, in the political arena and in the faith community, to also reject this call, and to remember that such an action would bring dishonor to all of the brave men and women of all backgrounds who have given their lives to uphold the core values of freedom and dignity which we enjoy.

We have seen an alarming rise in recent days in the number of hateful and violent actions which have been perpetrated against Muslims, or those who are presumed to be Muslims. There is no doubt that such hateful rhetoric encourages those who may be inclined to violence to act out this violence. We condemn in the strongest possible terms any act of violence against any human being, and we are reminded that all human beings bear the image of God, and are to be respected as children of God. We also unconditionally condemn all acts of terror, such as the recent one in San Bernardino, California which brought pain to so many people.

Metropolitan Joseph Celebrates the Patronal Feast Day of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, California

He had only arrived in Los Angeles late the night before, but he was full of energy. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph celebrated the feast day of St. Nicholas with his "family" at what has been his west coast cathedral and home for twenty years. Sayidna Joseph had just returned from the other side of the globe, visiting the Antiochian Orthodox Christian communities of St. George in London (which Sayidna founded as a priest in the 1980s), and St. Nicholas in Abu Dhabi. The latter community pleaded with him to stay for St. Nicholas Day, but he told them he had a promise to keep in Los Angeles.

At the conclusion of Orthros, Sayidna Joseph and the clergy offered Trisagion Prayers for his Father-in-Christ and mentor, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV, upon the three-year anniversary of his repose; and for Mr. Joseph Chammaa (six months), a longtime member of St. Nicholas.

The Conception of the Theotokos + December 9

Anna besought the Lord in fervent prayer for a child. The voice of the angel proclaimed to her: God has granted you the desire of your prayer. Do not weep, for you shall be a fruitful vine, bearing the wondrous branch of the Virgin who will bring forth in the flesh the blossom Christ, Who grants great mercy to the world.

Today the great mystery of all eternity, whose depths angels and men cannot perceive, appears in the barren womb of Anna. Mary, the Maiden of God, is prepared to be the dwelling place of the eternal King Who will renew human nature. Let us entreat her with a pure heart and say: Intercede for us with your Son and God that our souls may be saved.

+Vespers of the Feast

Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Conception of Mary

December Liturgical Texts Now Available

His Beatitude Patriarch John X blesses the loaves during Great Vespers at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn, NY, in honor of its patronal feast on Dec. 5, 2014.His Beatitude Patriarch John X blesses the loaves during Great Vespers at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn, NY, in honor of its patronal feast on Dec. 5, 2014.One of the most beloved saints in all of Christendom, plus two others with a strong devotion in the Patriarchate of Antioch, as well as the prophets and ancestors of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ Himself, are celebrated in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Liturgical Texts for December, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

On December 6, we celebrate St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the fourth-century archbishop of Myra in Lycia. None of his writings is extant, but his examples of Christian generosity, virtue and love endure to this day. St. Nicholas is the living embodiment of the words “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). He is also the patron and protector of two cathedrals – Brooklyn and Los Angeles – in our Archdiocese.

Annual Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education Hosts 14th Annual Conference

Participants in the course, "Basic Principles of Adult Education"Participants in the course, "Basic Principles of Adult Education"The 2015 Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education in the Faith hosted its 14th Annual Conference from November 5–8 at Antiochian Village. This year’s theme, “Adult Education: Building on the Foundation of Faith” attracted more than ninety participants - both clergy and laity. Participants explored the necessary and sometimes challenging need for adult education in the parish.

Kevin Allen, Christian education and popular Ancient Faith Radio host, opened the Institute with the Keynote Address: “Adult Education is Crucial to the Parish.” He convincingly made his point with statistics, quotations and personal experience. “Why does the Orthodox Church need continuing adult education ministries across our pan-Orthodox landscape?” he began.

St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle + November 30

Let us acclaim Andrew, the preacher of the Faith and servant of the Word. For he fisheth men out of the deep, holding in his hands the Rood instead of a rod; letting down its power like a fishing line, he draweth up souls from the error of the enemy, and offereth them as a wellpleasing gift unto God. O ye faithful let us ever extol him with the choir of Christ’s disciples, that he might intercede with Him to be gracious unto us in the Day of Judgment.

+Doxasticon, Tone 8

Let us praise the divine leader and namesake of courage, first-called disciple and Peter's kinsman. For as of old Christ called to him so he now calls to us: Come, we have found the Desired One.

+Kontakion, Tone 2

On November 30 in the Holy Orthodox Church we commemorate the holy, glorious, and all-laudable Apostle Andrew the First-Called.

Statement on the Reception of Refugees in the United States

Syrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word MagazineSyrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word MagazineStatement from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on the Reception of Refugees in the United States in Light of Recent Terrorist Actions around the World

Since the tragic terrorist actions in Paris, Beirut, Mali and elsewhere in the past two weeks, there have been polarized reactions to the reception of refugees, mainly of Syrian nationality, worldwide: an understandable reaction of concern on the one hand, but a sad overreaction of fear on the other. We are all concerned first and foremost for the safety of the citizens of the United States which must be continually addressed and assessed. At the same time, the humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Syria to which the U.S. government has contributed by calling for the removal of the established Syrian leadership – as it did in Egypt, Iraq and Libya – requires a moral response from the people and government of our great country. Misguided U.S. foreign policy helped create the so-called "Arab Spring" which has been a "tornado" that has destroyed Arab countries, leaving power vacuums that have fostered the soaring, vicious activity of terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Nusra, and others in the Middle East and around the world. All of this has resulted in an unprecedented number of deaths of innocent people and lack of basic services like healthcare and sanitation, healthy food and drinking water, safe and dignified housing, and so forth.

We must us not be guided by fear or bigotry, but rather let us work to heal the wounds of the injured, clothing the naked and feeding the poor as our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ has taught us (Matthew 25:35-36).