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 Lentby 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 Life of Our Father among the Saints Raphael Hawaweeny by His Grace Bishop Basil, published in the May 2000 issue of The Word following St. Raphael's glorification
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.
Report on Syrian Aid and Needs from Patriarchate of Antioch Dept. of Ecumenical Relations and Development
Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released the latest report on ongoing relief work in Syria, and asks for continued prayers for all Syrian people.
The full report is available in PDF format. The report opens:
"The humanitarian situation within Syria continues to deteriorate as the violence spreads and displacement continues. According to SARC estimates, some 2.5 – 3 million people are in need of support, of which children represent a substantial proportion. By the end of September, the Syrian Government officially reported that the number of displaced persons was then more than 3 million. In response to meet the increasing needs at different levels DERD continues its historic and strategic partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Through this tight partnership and direct assistance and support of IOCC, DERD has been able to assist thousands of displaced Syrians, as well as those affected by the crisis."
In time for the 2013-2014 academic year, the Scholarships page on Antiochian.org has been updated to include all archdiocesan forms and deadlines, as well as information from other institutions offering scholarships to Antiochian students at both the college or graduate school level.
Students can browse through various options, including a scholarship for a student in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, a scholarship from Antiochian Women, several scholarships from the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, scholarships available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and scholarships for former Scouts. By way of reminder, camp scholarships are also available through the Order of St. Ignatius.
We thank the Lord our God who allowed us, in the two previous months, to celebrate His appearance in the flesh as man and His manifestation as God coming to save us. After Jesus has fulfilled His plan of salvation by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, and after He ascended in the flesh to heaven from whence He had descended, sitting on the right hand of the Father, He prayed the Father to send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of each of us. Everyone who desires this and wants the Spirit to dwell in him does this so that Jesus may appear to him, and also that he might be reminded of the Lord’s sayings and teachings. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus Christ, at first in the Church, which is His Body and which He wanted to be “a glorious church, with neither stains, wrinkles, nor any such thing” (Eph. 5: 27). It also makes Him present in the Church through the word of His Gospel, in the Body and Blood of His Eucharist, in His meeting with His brothers who gathered in His Name, as well as in every human being - especially in the poor, the homeless and the broken hearted, in whom He accepted to dwell. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus wherever it dawns, making Him present yet veiled in all religions and all cultures.
Jesus, Emmanuel, is always present here and everywhere, present among us. He is always with us, ready to meet us. He rejoices in our joys, He revels in our holiness, and He weeps with us when we are troubled and sorrowed. He also cries when, as shepherds and flock, we neglect to live according to His teachings, and whenever our sins mar His bleeding, yet glorious face, and thus veil the world from seeing Him in His Church, and through us.
The West Coast Sacred Music Institute will be held from February 21-24, 2013, and will take place at St. Mark Orthodox Church in Irvine, California. The Theme will be "The Hymnography of Great Lent: A Path to Holiness" and will focus on Great Compline, Akathist, the Presanctified Liturgy, Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Click here for the Agenda (PDF) and Registration Form (Word). Once you open the Registration Form, you can fill it out electronically, save it and email that form to reserve your spot. Please mail your payment, with a copy of the form, to the Conference Administrator, Maryfaith Woods, using her contact info provided on the form. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Sacred Music.
The Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has brought online a special website dedicated to the enthronement of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, which will take place this Sunday, February 10. The site is available in English, Spanish and Arabic.
On June 1, 2012, a tornado traveled eight miles down Highway 711 through the townships of Ligonier and Bolivar in Western Pennsylvania. At 5:20 p.m., the tornado stuck the Antiochian Village with winds of 110 miles per hour. In a matter of seconds, the tornado damaged or destroyed 50 acres at the Village, including 22 buildings and hundreds of trees. Of these buildings, six were girls’ cabins which were completely destroyed. The remaining buildings have required varying degrees of repair – from new roofs to collapsed walls.
The appraisers have determined the monetary cost of the damage to the Antiochian Village at well over one million dollars. While insurance paid for a portion, the Archdiocese has been required to cover the remainder. There were also many areas that were not covered by insurance, including the removal of downed trees and replacement of these trees for privacy purposes that surround the girls’ cabins.
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
The February 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Message from Patriarch John X, pg. 4
Change of Mind Equals Change of Heart, pg. 9
by Amy Ansara
On the First Week of St. Stephen's Program, pg. 22
by Cindy George
Works of the Order in Action: Department of Missions and Evangelism, pg. 24
by V. Rev. John Finley
The Role of the Patriarch in the Orthodox Church, pg. 26
by Fr. Joseph Antypas