Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon on the Beginning of Great Lent 2014
Source: The Tablet.
Russia’s Catholic archbishop has said he believes long-running Orthodox complaints about the Church’s activities in the country have now been settled for good, thanks to improved ecumenical relations.
In an interview with the Kommersant daily, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, head of the Moscow-based Mother of God Archdiocese since 2007, said Russia’s million-strong Catholic Church still faced problems in cities such as Ryazan, Kirov and Vologda, where its Soviet-seized places of worship had still not been returned.
However, he added that questions raised by the Russian Orthodox Church about Catholic activities, including complaints of encroachment in the former Soviet Union, had now been “answered”, adding that he believed there was now nothing to prevent direct talks between Kirill I and Pope Francis.
Your Graces the archpastors, all-honourable fathers, dear brothers and sisters!
Syria has been suffering from ongoing hostilities for nearly two years. Tens of thousands of people have died, many of them were civilians – old people, women and children.
Our brothers in faith constitute a considerable part of the Syrian people: the centre of an oldest Orthodox Patriarchate, Patriarchate of Antioch, is located in the city of Damascus. At present human blood is being shed in the streets of this city which remembers St Paul and heroic deeds and labours of ancient saints. Orthodox Christians and Muslims used to live side by side in peace in this Biblical land where the shrines are being desecrated, churches are being profaned, and Christians are being driven out of their houses, persecuted and often tortured and killed.
Houses are ruined, infrastructure is destroyed, people lack for food and medicaments; and many are homeless. Some people have gone to their relatives, others have found shelter at special centres, still others had to flee to neighbouring countries with nobody to welcome them there.
Our people endured similar hardships not long ago. Thousands of our compatriots, many bishops, priests, monks and laypeople among them, were killed in the years of revolution, civil war and persecutions against the Church. We venerate the exploit of the Russian new martyrs and confessors, and we must not be indifferent when we see innocent blood being shed.
We cannot stop this war, but we can pray zealously for its soonest cessation and help the suffering people, including our Christian brothers.
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place. Such was the man, who had suffered at the hands of robbers, for the Good Samaritan.
I ask you to respond to Christ’s appeal and help our neighbours, who are now in particular need of support and sympathy.
For this purpose, I give my blessing to organize a fund-raising on the next Sunday in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church to help the needy in Syria. Money should be transferred to accounts of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service which is charged to coordinate this good initiative. The money collected will be transferred to the Patriarchate of Antioch.
I am praying for the end of bloodshed and for peace in the land of Syria. I hope that our offerings will be pleasing to God.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
June 25, 2013
h/t: Fr Peter Preble
To the Venerable Pastors, God-loving Monastics and Devout Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America
“We celebrate the death of death and the overthrow of hell, the beginning of another life which is eternal; and in exultation, we sing the praises of its source. He alone is blessed and most glorious, the God of our Fathers.”
(Paschal Canon, Ode 7)
Dearly Beloved in the Lord:
The central mystery of the Christian Faith is the glorious Resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, through which mankind is offered the gift of another life, which is eternal. This miracle of divine and everlasting life was wrought for us in a most remarkable way, for our Lord accomplished it by voluntarily suffering His Passion, being nailed to the Cross and descending into the tomb and into hell.
To the world, suffering is understood as something to be avoided at all costs. The Cross is perceived as foolishness, while the reality of death is ignored as often as possible. But Christ takes the very things the world fears and uses them, not only to reveal His glory and His power, but to share that power and glory with us. He voluntarily endures suffering to free us from our suffering. He ascends the Cross to bring joy to a world that is so often shrouded in war, destruction and hatred. And He willingly endures death so that He might trample it down and reveal that, in the risen Lord, it has no power over us.
Throughout our beautiful Paschal services, we sing of the great paradox of eternal life, revealed and accomplished through death: of mortality, clothed in the robe of immortality; of the Sun of Righteousness shining forth from the tomb; of death being trampled down by death. Christ, Who is Life itself, dies for us, so that we who are dead might live. We no longer fear those things that the world fears, for they no longer have power over us. As Saint John Chrysostom reminds us in his magnificent Paschal homily, “Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He who was prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into hell, He made hell captive.”
Let us, therefore, rejoice in the Risen Lord and be strengthened to face our own struggles with courage and hope, knowing that the Lord is ever with us. As we celebrate the bright and joyous day of His Resurrection, let us exclaim with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is thy sting? O hell, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). And let us all partake of the Banquet of Immortality, the Feast of Faith, with joy and thanksgiving.
With love in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Source: AOI Observer.
By Cal Oren
On Saturday, March 9, 2013 a crowd of Muslim Pakistanis attached a small Christian neighborhood known as the St. Joseph Colony in the city of Lahore, Pakistan. This was shortly after an incident earlier in the week, when one Muslim resident had accused another Christian resident of blasphemy against Muhammed after the two had engaged in a dispute. The police arrested the Christian accused of blasphemy on Friday, and the mob action took place the next day.
The secular press (including the New York Times) reported this incident, using Pakistani government supplied figures of 178 houses, 18 shops, and 2 churches damaged by the fires that the mob started. Some news reports carried estimates of the mob size as approximately 2,000 to 3,000. What they failed to report – obviously because the government did not supply these figures – is much more disturbing.
Fr. John Tanveer, a native of Lahore, is an Eastern Orthodox priest who lives in Lahore. While he does not live in the St. Joseph Colony, a few of
his parishioners do, and they lost their houses. He visited the area the next day, and has been returning almost daily to try to bring some comfort and aid to those affected. His reports are based on his own personal observation, as well as many interviews with the residents of the Colony about what they experienced. Here are some of the facts that he has reported. Continue reading
Source: Society of St John Chrysostom.
On 1 March 2013 at 1900, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow sent the following Message to honour His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus.
In these exceptional days for you, I would like to express the feelings of brotherly love in Christ and respect.
The decision to leave the position of Bishop of Rome, which you, with humility and simplicity, announced on February 11 this year, has found a ready response in the hearts of millions of Catholics.
We have always been close to your consistent ministry, marked by uncompromisingness in matters of faith and unswerving adherence to the living Tradition of the Church. At a time when the ideology of permissiveness and moral relativism tries to dislodge the moral values of life, you boldly raised your voice in defence of the ideals of the Gospel, the high dignity of man and his vocation to freedom from sin.
I have warm memories of our meeting when you were elected to the Roman See. During your ministry we received a positive impetus in the relations between our Churches, responding to the modern world as a witness to Christ crucified and risen. I sincerely hope what developed during your active participation, a good trusting relationship between the Orthodox and the Catholics, will continue to grow with your successor.
Please accept my sincere wishes for good health, long life and help from above in prayer and in your theological writings.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace” (Romans 15:13).
With love in the Lord,
+ Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
I wanted to get this up earlier but here it is, a bit late but still relevant.
(Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America) Forty years ago the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision, known as Roe v. Wade, granting a “right” for women of the United States to terminate the lives of their children in the womb. This decision has resulted in some 54 million children’s lives ending almost before they began.
The Holy Orthodox Christian Faith is unabashedly pro-life. The Lord Jesus Christ was recognized and worshipped in His mother’s womb while yet unborn by the Holy Forerunner who was also still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44); St. Basil the Great (4th Century), one of the universal teachers of the faith, dared to call murderers those who terminate the life of the fetus. The Church has consistently held that children developing in the womb should be afforded every protection given to those outside the womb. There is no moral, religious or scientific rationale which can justify making a distinction between the humanity of the newly-conceived and that of the newly-born.
Abortion on demand not only ends the life of a child, but also injures the mother of that child, often resulting in spiritual, psychological and physical harm. Christians should bring the comfort of the Gospel to women who have had abortions, that our loving God may heal them. The Orthodox Church calls on her children, and indeed all of society, to provide help to pregnant mothers who need assistance brining their children safely into the world and providing these children loving homes.
On the occasion of this sorrowful anniversary, and as we mourn the violence we all too often visit upon one another, as exemplified by the recent mass killings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, we pray for an end to the violence of abortion. Surely the many ways in which we as a people diminish the reverence and respect for human life underlie much of this violence. The disrespect for human life in the womb is no small part of this. Let us offer to Almighty God our repentance for the evil of abortion on demand and extend our hearts and hands to embrace life.
On the occasion of this 40th Anniversary of “Roe v. Wade,” we republish the following “Agreed Statement” issued in 1974 by the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation in the United States (composed of representatives from the former SCOBA and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) a statement as timely now as it was then:
An Agreed Statement on Respect for Life
We, the members of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation in the United States, after extensive discussions on the sanctity of marriage, feel compelled to make a statement concerning the inviolability of human life in all its forms.
We recognize that human life is a gift of God entrusted to mankind and so feel the necessity of expressing our shared conviction about its sacred character in concrete and active ways. It is true that the Christian community’s concern has recently seemed to be selective and disproportionate in this regard, e.g., in the anti-abortion campaign. Too often human life has been threatened or even destroyed, especially during times of war, internal strife, and violence, with little or no protestation from the Christian leadership. Unfortunately, the impression has frequently been given that churchmen are more concerned with establishing the legitimacy of war or capital punishment than with the preservation of human life. We know that this has been a scandal for many, both believers and unbelievers.
We feel constrained at this point in history to affirm that the “right to life” implies a right to a decent life and to full human development, not merely to a marginal existence.
We affirm that the furthering of this goal for the unborn, the mentally handicapped, the aging, and the underprivileged is our duty on a global as well as a domestic scale.
We deplore in particular the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision failing to recognize the rights of the unborn–a decision which has led to widespread indiscriminate early abortion.
We affirm our common Christian tradition with regard to the right of the unborn to life.
We acknowledge our responsibility to mediate the love of Christ, especially to the troubled expectant mother, and thus make possible the transmission and nurturing of new life and its fully human development.
We urge our churches and all believers to take a concrete stand on this matter at this time and to exemplify this evangelical imperative in their personal lives and professional decisions.