Beloved in the Lord:
Greetings and blessings to you as we enter this most holy season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
It is with the greatest joy that I write to you today to inaugurate the 2014 Food for Hungry People campaign. This year marks the 40th anniversary of this charitable drive. When reﬂecting on the past 40 years, I call to mind the countless charitable organizations and individuals that we have helped because of this fund. Through the efforts of our dedicated and long-standing chairlady, Miss Robin Nicholas, and by your generosity on the parish level, this drive has grown into a strong witness of our Holy Orthodox faith on this continent and throughout the world.
This year holds special signiﬁcance as we continue to raise funds through various means to help those affected by the war in Syria. Through your contributions to FFHP over the years, we have helped many of the orphanages and other charitable organizations within Syria and throughout our Patriarchate and the entire the Middle East, in addition to our domestic charitable contributions. As we continue to witness the horrors of the war in Syria, please make a special effort this year to use FFHP to raise funds and awareness to the tragedy there so we can help those in need even more.
We urge you, during this season of prayer, self-discipline and fasting, to be very generous in your contribution to this campaign. As we practice the virtues which cleanse our souls, let us not forget or refrain from what St. John Chrysostom calls the “greatest of the virtues," giving to the poor. As important as prayer and fasting are, they are of no avail to us if we fail to give to those in need.
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.
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.
As the faithful prepare to celebrate the high point of the Church year—Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha—the Archdiocese highlights our 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 of 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 subsections:
- 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 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.
We are grateful 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.
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
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.
Visit the Archdiocese section, Great Lent Resources and Readings.
Katrina Bitar is the North America Program Director for YES, or Youth Equipped to Serve. A ministry of FOCUS North America, YES provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service in urban environments across the U.S. and Canada. A lifetime member of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Katrina began working with youth during her college years and eventually was tapped to head the YES program after graduating from St. Vladimir's Seminary in 2009. A look at her busy calendar for the first half of 2014 reveals that she will be involved with outreach efforts in Philadelphia, Montreal, Oklahoma City, Grand Rapids, Houston, Austin, and St. Louis. Antiochian.org asked her to introduce the work of YES and explain the impact it is having on the Church's youth.
What is your background, and how did you first get involved with YES?
I was born in Burbank, California, but spent most of my life in Little Falls, NJ. I discovered my youth ministry gifts while serving at the Antiochian Village as a counselor during my college years. In 2001, I took a job as a youth director for a parish in Phoenix, AZ that began my full-time youth ministry work. It was through my work as a parish youth director that I was introduced to the YES Program.
Do We Need to Rethink the Parish Council?, pg. 3
by His Grace Bishop John Abdalah
Christ and the Children, pg. 5
by Fr. Joseph Antypas
Metropolitan Philip's Letter Regarding the Nuns of St. Thekla Convent, pg. 8
New England Parish Council Seminar, pg. 10
Mother Macrina Addresses Women's Retreat, pg. 14
by Dianne Julianna Storheim-Hill
St. Athanasios and His Relevance Today, pg. 17
by Fr. Athanasios Papagiannis
The 12th Annual Orthodox Christian Camp and Youth Workers Conference took place at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA from January 23-25, 2014. Over 80 youth workers from across the United States and Canada gathered together for this year's conference, sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Camps Association and youth departments from different jurisdictions. This year's conference was co-hosted by the Youth and Camping Ministries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A. The theme of the Conference was "Writing Icons of the Kingdom: Understanding our Youth as Icons we are Helping to Write."
Ruling Hierarch of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese His Grace Bishop Gregory of Nyssa was the keynote speaker. In his first address, Bishop Gregory spoke about the unity required of us in youth ministry in order to effectively "write" icons for the kingdom. For his second address His Grace stepped aside for a very special presenter, Protopresbyter Mark Leasure, his priest from St. George Church in Taylor, PA, who brought the myrrh-streaming icons of the Mother of God that reside in his parish.
Adorn thy chamber, O Zion, and receive Christ the King. Welcome Mary the heavenly gate; for she hath appeared as a cherubic throne; she carrieth the King of glory. Verily, the Virgin is a cloud of light carrying in her body the Son Who is before the morning star, Whom Simeon carrying in his arms proclaimed to the nations as the Lord of life and death, and the Savior of our souls.
-Vespers of the Feast, Tone 7
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous old man, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.
-Apolytikion of the Feast, Tone 1
Common Statement by Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
On January 30, 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East concluded his five-day visit to Russia, and the following Common Statement with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia was released (translation provided by the Russian Orthodox Church):
At the invitation of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East John X paid his official visit to the Russian Orthodox Church from January 25 to 30, 2014. The Patriarchate of Antioch is going now through difficult times because of the violence committed in its homeland and its tragic consequences of the political crisis for its people. This visit has given the two sister Churches the opportunity to discuss several disturbing issues affecting their witness and ministry. The two Churches feel the need to state the following:
1. The important mission of a Church in a society is to bear witness in word and deed to God's love for each person, regardless of his or her religious belief or national identity. Following the words of Christ "Blessed are peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Mt. 5:9), we proclaim peace and respect for the human dignity and rights. Every human being is an object of Divine Compassion; it is because of God's love that the Incarnation took place and that the Holy Spirit continues to work in our midst. This basic principle inspires the two sister Churches in their actions, service and cooperation.
Let all who love their words come together and honor with hymns the three luminaries of the light-creating Trinity: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and renowned John of golden speech, who have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines, and are mellifluous rivers of wisdom who have watered all creation with streams of divine knowledge; they ever intercede with the Trinity for us.
-Troparion, Tone 1
Thou hast taken the sacred and divinely inspired heralds, the crown of Thy teachers, O Lord, for the enjoyment of Thy blessings and for repose. For Thou hast accepted their sufferings and labors above every burnt offering, O Thou Who alone dost glorify Thy Saints.
-Kontakion, Tone 2
His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East Visits His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
Meetings are underway in Russia between His Beatitude Patriarch John X and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. In addition to the general report below, a joint statement has been issued appealing for peace in Syria.
The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church reports:
On 25 January 2014, at the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in St Daniel's Monastery, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, who is currently visiting the Russian Orthodox Church.
The delegation accompanying His Beatitude Patriarch John X on his visit includes Metropolitan Basilyos of Akkar; Metropolitan Ephrem of Tripoli; Archbishop Niphon of Filippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; archimandrite Philip (Yazegi); archimandrite Parthenius (Allati); archdeacon Gerasimus (Kabbas); and a number of lay people.
Orthodox Christians from around the U.S. and Canada traveled to Washington D.C. on January 22, 2014 for the 41st March for Life, marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in all fifty states. His Grace Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England represented His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian Archdiocese at the March. After the peaceful march and rally, he wrote:
Only our fingers and toes were chilled; yet our hearts were warmed by the fervor of the crowds, which were not frightened away by the extreme cold and snow. It was an honor to stand and march for life with Orthodox hierarchs including Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Archbishop Nathaniel, and Bishops Michael, Melchisedek, and Mark, and Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. It was also a joy to walk with the banners and students from St. Vladimir's and St. Tikhon's Seminaries, and many Orthodox faithful who chanted hymns to the Theotokos as we marched.
Syria! The name itself inspires awe and wonder. Archaeologists have proven that Syria was the cradle of civilization, and where agriculture and trade routes appeared for the first time. Its capital – Damascus – is widely considered to be the world's oldest city. Antioch was also part of early Syria and was invaded by the Roman armies in 64 B.C., making it the third-largest city in the Roman empire. Syria continued to grow and become a major center of trade and industry in the ancient world.
After the ministry, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ, it was in Syria where a young man named Saul (who later took the name Paul) was converted on his way to Damascus. It was in Antioch where St. Paul set off on many of his journeys to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Antioch, "the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:26).
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, the 2014 Mid-Winter Meetings will be hosted by St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, and will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 7-9, 2014. The Archdiocese and Diocese officers of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America, the Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO will gather to conduct the business of our Archdiocese organizations. Please contact each individual organization's president for specific questions.
Travel, lodging, and registration information:
- Group rate of $129.00/night at the Holiday Inn Express Scottsdale North
- Conveniently located just 4 miles (10 minute drive) from the church
February 14-17, 2014
With Fr. Demetrios Makoul, dean of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Cathedral of St. George in Pittsburgh and licensed professional counselor
- Enjoy time with each other during this special weekend designed to give healthy married couples assistance in becoming "one"
- Attend to your marriage away from the distractions and "busy-ness" of daily life
Desire, Scripture, and Change: Reading the Bible in the Orthodox Tradition, pg. 4
by Fr. John Oliver
Love Your Enemies, pg. 10
by Fr. Andrew Harmon
World Council of Churches Statement, pg. 14
Reflecting on Reflections, pg. 19
by Fr. Joseph Allen, Th.D.
Help the Orphans of War in Syria, pg. 24
by Dianne O'Regan
On Faith, pg. 34
by G. Philip Sayegh
From Thursday evening, February 20 through Sunday February 23, St. Luke Orthodox Church in Garden Grove, CA will host the 2014 West Coast Sacred Music Institute. Twice each year, the Department of Sacred Music offers the Institute for church musicians to learn new pieces, and to sharpen their skills. The theme of the 2014 Institute is "The Passion of Christ: A Journey Through Holy Week."
The Institute is for all Church Singers, adults & teens, choir and chanters! What can be gained?
• An greater understanding of the theology and hymnography of Great Lent
• Learn new music, sharpen technique & vocal quality
• Enjoy worship and fellowship with Orthodox church musicians from across North America, all sharing the most important common thread
• Attend spellbinding presentations and sessions
• Participate in a concert showcasing the music learned for Holy Week during the Institute
View the schedule or download the registration form. For more information, contact Chris Farha at (316) 807-3286.
Memory Eternal! Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God Dr. George J. Farha of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS, immediate past Vice Chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board of Trustees and the Antiochian Heritage Foundation's "Man of the Year" for 2013. Dr. Farha quietly fell asleep in Christ surrounded by his family at his home, shortly before nine o'clock on January 7, 2013.
Condolences may be sent to his wife Brenda and their daughters Gayle (Mrs. Douglas) Malone, Joan (Mrs. David) Farha, Laura Farha, and Julie Farha and their families at:
1517 North Foliage Court
Wichita, KS 67206
The schedule of divine services, all to be served at St. George Cathedral, is as follows:
- Friday, January 10th Trisagion Prayers of Mercy at 7:00PM
- Saturday, January 11th Trisagion Prayers of Mercy and Funeral at 10:00AM followed by Interment and Meal of Mercy
A seasoned teacher and scholar, Dr. James Taylor is a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Topeka, Kansas. As founder of the St. Raphael Orthodox Online School, he has created a program of classical studies for elementary, middle, and high school students. In his career Dr. Taylor has taught in a variety of parochial schools and preparatory academies, including St. Marys Academy in Kansas, Wichita Collegiate School, and Topeka Collegiate School. For five years he was assistant then associate professor of the Education Department at Hillsdale College, Michigan, and later he served at the University of Tulsa, also in the department of education where his specialties were philosophy of education in the graduate school, and Children's Literature classes for elementary and middle school future teachers. Antiochian.org asked Dr. Taylor about his new enterprise and his thoughts on education in the context of his Orthodox faith.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to start this school.
While still in high school, I was drawn to the poetry of the past and the culture that informed the art, philosophy, religion and music of these eras, including the modern era. Once out of high school, I realized quite soon that to maintain these interests there was hardly any other place for me to fit in than as a high school or college teacher.