Metropolitan Jonah tenders resignation

(OCA) In a letter addressed to the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops dated Friday, July 6, 2012, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah tendered his resignation as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. His Beatitude composed and signed the letter at his residence in Washington, DC, in the presence of Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor. On Saturday, July 7, the letter was presented to the Holy Synod in the course of a conference call in which all of the hierarchs participated, except His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo of Mexico City. The text of His Beatitude’s letter reads as follows.

“To the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, “Brothers, “As per your unanimous request, as conveyed to me by Chancellor Fr. John Jillions, I hereby tender my resignation as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and humbly request another Episcopal assignment. “I had come to the realization long ago that that I have neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate, a position I never sought nor desired. “It is my hope that due consideration will be made for my financial situation, both in any interim and in consideration for any future position. I am the main financial support for both my parents and my sister, beyond my own needs. “I will appreciate your consideration in this, and beg forgiveness for however I have offended you, and for whatever difficulties have arisen from my own inadequacies and mistakes in judgment. “Asking your prayers, I remain faithfully yours, “Metropolitan Jonah, Archbishop of Washington”

The hierarchs again will meet via conference call on Monday, July 9, after which additional information will be made available.

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Metropolitan Jonah addresses ACNA

RIDGECREST, NC [OCA]

At the invitation of Archbishop Duncan, presiding Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA], His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, addressed the ACNA Assembly here June 7 and 8, 2012.

The event marked the second time since ACNA’s founding conference in 2009 that Metropolitan Jonah as addressed ACNA faithful and representatives.

Metropolitan Jonah spoke of the growing friendship between the Orthodox Church in America and ACNA, offering support for the latter’s efforts in striving to maintain Nicene Christianity and challenging them to return fully to Orthodox Christianity.

Over the past three years, there have been a variety of meetings  some local, for example among parishes of the OCA Dioceses of the South and Western Pennsylvania and their neighboring ACNA dioceses, and some broader  as follow-ups to the Metropolitan’s initial words and challenge set forth in 2009. Other efforts have included the reconvening of the Fellowship of Saints Alban and Sergius in the United States and several conferences on historic Anglican-Orthodox relations. Continue reading

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Metropolitan Jonah attends meeting of the Friends of Mount Athos in UK

(OCA) On Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, 2012, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah will travel to Oxford, England to participate as a member of the society in the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Mount Athos. Under the presidency of His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware] of Diokleia, the Friends of Mount Athos is a charitable and education society dedicated to supporting the well-being of monasteries of Mount Athos and aiding those undertaking pilgrimages to the Holy Mountain. Metropolitan Jonah will deliver a talk titled “Monasticism in an American Context.” Other presentations during the annual meeting will include “The Monk and the Maiden: Theophanes the Cretan and the Athonite Iconography of the Annunciation”, by Father Maximos of Simonopetra Monastery, and “Georgia on My Mind: An Illustrated Presentation on Monasteries in Georgia”, by Mr. Peter Lea. During the weekend, with the blessing of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Metropolitan Jonah also will visit the well-known Patriarchal Stavropegial Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, England, founded in 1959 by Archimandrite Sophrony, the disciple of Saint Silouan the Athonite. Metropolitan Jonah will spend a few days in retreat at the monastery.

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Archpastoral Letter of His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah for the Great Feast of Pentecost

(OCA.org)To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of

Icon of the Pentecost

the Orthodox Church in America:

The Great Feast of Pentecost is a celebration of humility. It is the humble acceptance of a gift – the gift of life – which we receive by bending our knees before the One Who is Life Itself.

On the Great and Holy Day of Pentecost, we truly marvel at God’s divine reversal of Babel. In days of old, He scattered the people of the earth by confusing their tongues, since they wanted only to make a name for themselves. But on the day of Pentecost, He sends the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, so that the whole world would hear and understand the Good News of the risen Christ. Having emptied Himself by taking on our human nature, Christ reunites the world with Himself – in His Name – through the proclamation of the Gospel in all the languages of the world. Is this not why, with inexpressible joy, we shouted, “Christ is Risen!” in many languages during the 40 days of Pascha? Is this not why with boldness we announced in many tongues the Prologue of the Gospel according to Saint John – “In the beginning was the Word…?”

We are blessed in the Orthodox Church in America to continue the inspired practice of reaching those to whom we are sent in their own languages – from Alutiq in Alaska to new translations into Otomi, a regional, ancient (but living) language of native Mexicans; to English, Spanish, French, Romanian, and Russian. We seek in our services and our educational materials, our prayers and our preaching, to make disciples by teaching the unchangeable words of the Unchangeable Word by means of intelligible words.

As much a feast of tongues, Holy Pentecost is a feast of humility. It is a return to what the late Father Alexander Schmemann called “the routine drudgery of everyday existence.” Having enjoyed the presence of the Bridegroom for 40 days, having awaited the promised Comforter with those gathered in the Upper Room for ten days, we now bend the knees of our hearts, asking God to strengthen us for “usual” life – and recalling that the strength to do so comes from Him.

But we still always have a choice. For us, the great Hymn to the Holy Spirit – “O Heavenly King…come and abide in us…” – can become rote petition, when it should be a daily call to live as the Apostles lived after they received the fiery tongues.  Let it always bring to mind that the Holy Spirit is ever present with us, every active and filling us with His Grace, and bringing us to awareness of God.

The life experienced by the apostles is offered to us as well. Will we stick with “rote religion,” or accept the powerful life God gives us through His Most Holy Spirit? Will we accept the Holy Spirit into our lives mindlessly, or will we boldly reclaim and delight in the life the Spirit rightfully and generously gives us, the life in which the Name of the Lord is proclaimed and souls are converted to New Life?

Pope Shenouda, the recently-departed head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, once urged Christians not to seek the “powerful” gifts of the Spirit – tongues, healings, etc. “These” he said, “can lead one to pride. Rather, seek the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. These,” he added, “lead to holiness.” Against these, says Saint Paul by contrast to the works of the flesh, there is no law.

And so, having seen the True Light, having received the Heavenly Spirit, having found the true faith, and emboldened with humility, may God grant us the ability to ‘transform the smallest, seemingly most insignificant detail of the routine drudgery of every day life in this fallen world into paradise by means of His great gift of grace. And may He continue to send us into the world to share His saving Gospel with all who would receive it in anticipation of the life of the world to come, yet to be fully revealed, but already fully present in the life of the Church.

With love in our Christ,

SIGNATURE
+JONAH
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and God-fearing Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

The new year arrives at the great meeting point of the Old and New Covenants. Throughout December, the Church bade us remember the righteous and prophets of the Old Covenant, beginning with Nahum, Habbakuk, and Zephaniah, continuing with Haggai, Daniel, and the Three Youths, and culminating with the two Sundays before the Nativity, the memory of that long and great ancestry of our Savior according to the flesh.

That for which the prophets kept vigil was experienced and proclaimed by the fathers and monks celebrated throughout January: beginning today with St. Basil, throughout this month we remember a throng of holy theologians and monastics: Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, Athanasius and Cyril, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor, Mark of Ephesus, and Ephrem the Syrian, as well as Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, Theophan the Recluse, Paul of Thebes, Theodosius and Euthymius, Anthony and Macarius, and Isaac the Syrian.

Thus, December brought us the Prophets as an icon of mankind awaiting redemption, while January presents to us the holy Fathers and venerable Monastics as an icon of mankind responding to the redemption wrought through the Flesh of the eternal Word of God.

Christ has come in the flesh! This requires of us also a categorical response. The saints show us what this response must look like.

The prophets who awaited His coming are our models of watchfulness: they were ready at any time for the visitation of the grace of God. The fathers who expressed this mystery in carefully chosen words give us an example of intellectual honesty: nothing could induce them to waver from the truth that God revealed to them. The monastics who abandoned everything in pursuit of Christ show us an image of detachment: no one but the Lord could occupy the throne of their heart. Continue reading

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Holy Synod of Bishops expresses solidarity with Coptic Church

SYOSSET, NY [OCA]

The witness and mission of the Coptic Church in Egypt have their origin in apostolic times.  Today, the Coptic Church of Egypt is the largest Christian Church in the Middle East.  Under the leadership of His Holiness, Pope Shenouda, the Coptic Church is a dynamic and active Church, with significant and effective work in education, youth work, and social work.

While the Coptic Church has experienced limitations to its work in the context of the Muslim majority of Egypt, the present time presents special challenges.  In the midst of the changes in Egyptian political life during the last months, some of which are positive, there are aspects of current developments which make the Coptic Church vulnerable to discrimination and even violence.

For this reason, the Lesser Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, has issued a Statement of Support for the Coptic Church of Egypt.  This statement will be sent to the Embassy of Egypt in Washington, DC, to the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations, and to government authorities in Egypt.  In addition, the statement will be shared with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The text of the statement reads as follows. Continue reading

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Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah: Nativity of Christ, 2011

Nativity Icon

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America.

Dearly beloved in the Lord,

Christ is Born!

I greet you with the love, joy and hope that is so graciously granted to us with the Incarnation of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today, we celebrate the “Winter Pascha,” proclaiming that God is indeed with us! Today, the only-begotten Son of God takes on our human nature, enabling us to become partakers of His divine nature. Today, the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled as, in the “fullness of time,” the long-awaited Messiah ushers in that peace which is beyond all understanding!

And today, we celebrate that for which we have prepared during the Nativity Fast. Our fasting, intensified prayer, and almsgiving find their meaning and fulfillment in the Mystery of the Incarnation: All that we have is a gift from God, given to us as faithful stewards, that we might proclaim God’s very presence in our midst. Our calling is to “incarnate” the Incarnate Word into our lives, our actions, our very being, at all times, and in everything we do. This, to be sure, is not easy. The world will challenge those who embrace “The Way” at every turn. Yet, it is the world that, in its self-proclaimed emptiness, precisely reveals its thirst for “something more,” a “sign” or “reality” that gives meaning to life beyond the superficial trappings of the “holiday season.”

In rendering thanks to God for His manifest love for His People, and in strengthening ourselves to proclaim the Incarnation in our lives, it is crucial for every member of the Church to discern his or her gifts and to employ them for the building up of the Body of Christ. How? One of the Nativity hymns gives us a clue.

What shall we offer Thee, O Christ, Who for our sake has appeared on earth as man?Every creature which Thou hast made offers thanks.The angels offer Thee a song. The heavens, their star. The wise men, their gifts. The shepherds, their wonder.The earth, its cave. The wilderness, the manger.And we offer Thee a Virgin Mother!

It is the Mother of God, the Theotokos, who is the very model of stewardship, of discernment, of embracing all that the heavenly Father called her to do. Where the first Eve said “no” to God, she responded positively. And in so doing, she embraced all that her Son accomplished by His birth in time and space, becoming an example for us.

As we continue our celebration, let not our faith be “shelved” with our ornaments and seasonal decorations. Let not the flame of our commitment wax cold. Let not our devotion to serving the Incarnate Word, even as His Mother served Him. May the grace and peace from above, so abundantly given by our all-merciful Savior, remain with us throughout this most glorious feast, and be strengthened within us in the days, weeks and months beyond!

Let us glorify Him!
Faithfully yours in Christ,

SIGNATURE
+JONAH
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Source: OCA

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