General

Statement Regarding Reception of Converts to the Orthodox Christian Faith

Antiochian Archdiocese - Tue, 2018/02/20 - 1:03pm

Englewood, NJ • February 20, 2018

In response to numerous unnamed sources spreading confusion over the internet, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH reaffirms the long-standing policy of the Antiochian Archdiocese, which is in accordance with the practice of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, regarding the reception of converts to the Faith. To be clear, Holy Baptism in the Name of the Holy Trinity, followed by Holy Chrismation, is the normative means by which one is initiated into the Holy Church. When receiving those coming into Holy Orthodoxy from religious confessions who profess a belief in the Holy Trinity and baptize with water in the Name of Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Church from ancient times has done so through means of Holy Chrismation or a profession of the Faith – depending on the circumstances. When questions arise requiring discernment as to how a person is to be received into the Church, a priest must consult with his local bishop.

His Eminence reaffirmed this practice recently during a clergy seminar for the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, where he has continued to be the local bishop since his election as Metropolitan. In this capacity, His Eminence made clear that he is the point of reference for such questions for the clergy in attendance.

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Great Lent

Antiochian Archdiocese - Thu, 2018/02/15 - 2:00pm

 

 

 

Great Lent: The Journey to the Empty Tomb

As the sharp edge of winter cuts across February with its long shadows and long cold nights, Orthodox Christians know that this time of year is the herald of Great Lent, that solemn but beautiful 40-day journey to the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With anticipation we look forward to that Lenten journey and what awaits us at the end of our spiritual travels: the Feast of Feasts, that great day of Pascha in which we proclaim, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death."

-Archpriest Stephen Rogers

     

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Western Rite Vicariate Launches Website

Antiochian Archdiocese - Mon, 2018/02/12 - 1:38pm

The Western Rite Vicariate has gathered many materials to help Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike learn more about the Western Rite in the Orthodox Church. Our Archdiocese has a rich heritage of reaching out to people of all backgrounds and in various ways responding to Christ's command to bring the Gospel to all nations. These materials, which include a documentary film about the Western Rite, blogs, and other resources, are available at The Orthodox West.

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Metropolitan JOSEPH Presides Over St. George's 90th Anniversary Celebration

Antiochian Archdiocese - Fri, 2018/02/09 - 1:51pm

Metropolitan Joseph with St. George ordinands and their familiesView the photo album

The faithful of Houston, Texas were blessed to receive His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH during the week of January 24–31, 2018, to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of St. George Orthodox Christian Church.

Deanery clergy welcomed Sayyidna JOSEPH and Deacon John El Massih at the airport. Then on Thursday evening, His Eminence had dinner and spent the evening with the St. George parish council. At the dinner, attendees were blessed to hear Sayyidna's visions and inspired by his words of wisdom. The community was delighted that Archdiocese Vice-Chairman Fawaz El Khoury and CFO Salim Abboud accompanied Sayyidna as well.

On Friday morning, Sayyidna made his first visit to the St. Constantine School, an Orthodox classical school which opened its doors to students in August 2016. The School offers pre-K through 12th grade classes and has college courses as well. The St. Constantine School currently has over 130 students and continues to grow. His Eminence was greeted by the whole school with the singing of the Troparion of St. Constantine. Sayyidna addressed all the students, toured the facilities and had a lunch meeting with the school board. Later in the day, His Eminence prayed Great Vespers at St. Joseph Church. Following vespers and dinner, he met in the sanctuary with area teens.

On Saturday, Sayyidna met with the St. George's church school students and their families. He allowed to children to ask questions and offer their thoughts. After being served a delicious brunch by the St. George Ladies Altar Society, His Eminence addressed the ladies, the men's philanthropic group, and the church school. Saturday evening, Great Vespers was prayed at St. George. After prayers, over 450 attendees came together for the joyful St. George 90th Anniversary Gala. In a highlights of the evening, $25,000 was presented to the St. Constantine School by St. George. His Eminence also presented the St. George Ladies Altar Society with the Silver Order of St. Raphael for their continuous labor and efforts for the Church.

At the Gala His Eminence addressed the attendees with inspiring and heartfelt words. The St. George Dabke Troupe performed, and the night continued with live entertainment.

On Sunday morning the faithful poured into St. George to pray Orthros and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. His Eminence ordained Parish Council President Dr. James Anton as a subdeacon, and St. George son and Youth Director George Katrib to the Holy Diaconate.

On Monday, His Eminence prayed the Paraklesis to the Theotokos in the chapel at St. George with the Deanery clergy. After addressing the clergy, the group were treated to lunch at the Cleburne Cafeteria. Sayyidna continued his visit to St. George by visiting parishioners in their homes. He also visited St. Paul Church in Katy,TX and celebrated the Feast of the Three Hierarchs at St. Anthony in Spring, TX.

The faithful of Houston were truly blessed to receive this week-long visit from His Eminence and look forward to welcoming him back soon. Many years, Master!

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Bishop NICHOLAS Leads Pilgrimage to Mt. Athos

Antiochian Archdiocese - Wed, 2018/02/07 - 1:42pm
View the photo album

Yazen Ziad Fakhouri, a second-year seminarian at St. Tikhon's Seminary in South Canaan, PA, joined five other seminarians on a pilgrimage to Mt. Athos led by His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS from December 2017 to January 2018. Yazen's hometown is suburban Detroit, Michigan, and his home parish is St. George Orthodox Church, with The Very Reverend Joseph Antypas. Yazen's report describes this life-changing experience.

Ring finger meets thumb while index, middle, and pinky are elevated in imperfect symmetry. A single hand with fingers positioned to represent the Holy Trinity and the dual natures of Christ move north to south, west to east conferring a millennia old blessing consistent with Holy Tradition. The recipient of this blessing was a stray dog weaving between an interminable sea of people queuing to board a ship to the holiest of mountains.

To the monks on Mount Athos, all of God's creation is sacred and worthy of His blessing. When Christ boldly proclaimed to Peter, "Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hades shall never prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18), it's inconceivable that Mt. Athos was not envisaged. The prayers uttered and the angelic voices of chant that proceed from this rocky peninsula have persisted for millennia in the face of relentless attack and innumerable attempts to subjugate it. It is the grace of God and the intercession of His blessed mother that have preserved Mt. Athos in the face of successive empires which have attempted to pillage and destroy the Holy Mountain and force its capitulation.

Setting out from the port of Ouranopouli with His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS of Miami and the Southeast and accompanied by five other Antiochian seminarians, God's preserving grace was palpable. Mindful of the somberness and sobriety with which these unwaveringly devout monks work out their salvation and aspire towards sanctification, I could not wipe the smile off my face. Accompanying God's grace was our collective hope for the restoration of a humanity plagued by discord and an increasingly visceral disdain for the name Jesus Christ. It became abundantly clear that the vision our beloved Metropolitan JOSEPH has for his Archdiocese manifests in his desire to reinvigorate a spiritual appreciation for monasticism is providentially, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Arriving at the Monastery of Xenophontos, I was overcome by the immediate serenity and hospitality we encountered. Father Zosimas, a former Antiochian seminarian born in Florida who has resided on the Holy Mountain since 1996, met us at the port. Experiencing the warmth of Father Zosimas amongst the backdrop of the aesthetic beauty of the Holy Mountain with its mountainous terrain cascading over ornate iconography that litters the monastery, I couldn't help but be reminded of the words of our Lord when He says in the Gospel of John, "I have given them your word...for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world" (John 15:19; 17:14-15). These are holy men that are simultaneously in the world and outside of it. The pleasantly sensible stimulation that characterizes time on the Holy Mountain belies the arduous spiritual struggle that defines it.

The Holy Mountain is, in the same moment, an encounter with bliss and exasperation. Ears hear the rhythmic tapping of the semantron summoning the monks to prayer followed shortly by the euphoric beauty of transiently resounding Byzantine chant. The illumination of the Catholicon with its dazzling display of candles radiates throughout the physical structure of the Chapel and, indeed through the very hearts of men, accompanied by the fragrantly effervescent smell of incense that simulates the experience of Heaven. The delectable taste of monastery grown coffee and vibrant fruit amidst a cacophony of other pastries and foods offered to inhabitant and visitor alike feels tepid and slightly incongruent with the simplicity and restraint demonstrated by the monks of Mount Athos. At moments it feels like heaven on earth only to inevitably be reminded by its inhabitants that heaven remains afar and, that we must devote ourselves to realizing it.

The unquantifiable import of the Holy Mountain was perfectly characterized in our meeting with Geronda (Elder), Abbot of Xenophontos. With a sagacity and perspicacity that befits a man of intense prayer and relentless salvific pursuit, Geronda proclaimed with piercing eyes, a plush white beard, and a deep billowing voice that, "the problems that plague humanity are precipitated by our own movement away from God and towards ourselves. We believe we have the answers and try to impose our own vision and will upon the world. We must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him. We must above all else, seek the kingdom of Heaven." For the prayers bellowed from the mountainous peninsula of Mount Athos are intended to unify all of mankind in the midst of disparity, division, and dystopia.

The apex arrived when, Geronda, growing visibly emotional as his voice cracked, perhaps cognizant of the precariousness of his own salvation, recounted a story pertinent to all who seek the salvation of their souls and the kingdom of God. A monk was approaching the twelfth hour. He had devoted his life to Christ through prayer and obedience. The devil came to him in the night and appeared to surrender proclaiming to the monk that his obedience to God proved unshakable and that he, the devil, was resigned to defeat. The monk, realizing the evil machination of the devil and recognizing the devil's last effort to get him to let his guard down by appealing to his ego that he may fall, fell of his own volition to his knees and began to pray intensely.

Sitting in the presence of Geronda, a man who has heeded the words of Christ as literally as one can, who has eschewed a world characterized by consumption and self indulgence, it occurred to me that monasticism is not an antiquated, archaic, or anachronistic practice ill equipped to confront the problems that afflict the contemporary world, but is indeed the remedy, the very antidote to the virulent virus of egotism that characterizes our time. The importance of Mount Athos is not merely in its beauty and history, in its icons or relics, in its chant or services, but in its prayerful example to a world looking for answers. As Geronda says, "all this spiritual awareness, the prescription for mankind, God's economy and His desire to reveal Himself in the heart of man comes not through a scholastic approach to Christianity, but through prayer, through that which the monks on Mount Athos endeavor to realize, not only for the salvation of each of their respective souls, but for the collective salvation of mankind. The Monks of Mount Athos and indeed monasticism teach us how. It remains indispensible to Orthodoxy and to our hope for salvation.

We remain indebted to our beloved Metropolitan for his recognition that if Orthodoxy is to persist in the face of insurmountable odds, monasticism must remain indispensible. And to His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS, for being the embodiment of this monastic resurgence in the Antiochian Archdiocese through his passion for monasticism, manifested through his yearly trips to the Holy Mountain. For the monks of Mount Athos are on the front lines of an existential spiritual war for the souls of mankind and the survival of the Holy Orthodox Church. Let us thank God that our beloved Metropolitan JOSEPH, through the grace afforded to him by God, remains steadfast, resilient, and courageous, ever ready to preserve the sanctity and tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church and to do what is necessary to ensure its spiritual health and well-being.

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February 2018 Edition of The Word Now Available

Antiochian Archdiocese - Thu, 2018/02/01 - 5:38pm
Click cover to download:  february_2018_word_for_archdiocese.pdf Magazine Date:  02/2018

The February 2018 issue of The Word is now available and contains the following articles:

I Got It All Wrong
by Bishop John

Reflections on Spiritual Formation in Youth Ministry
by Fr. Daniel Bethancourt

The Good News in Others' Words
by Fr. Joseph Huneycutt

St. John Chrysostom and Marriage
by Fr. Daniel Daly

Updates and Resources from Christian Education, Communities in Action reports, and much more!

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Orthodox Christian Churches in 21st Century America: A Parish Life Study

Antiochian Archdiocese - Wed, 2018/01/31 - 1:20pm

The report "Orthodox Christian Churches in 21st Century America: a Parish Life Study" has been released by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA.

The report provides a comprehensive picture of today's lives of American Orthodox parishes, including such aspects as membership, worship, programs, religious education, youth, usage of electronic technologies, and much more. Of particular interest are subjects that have never been examined previously, such as:

  • The Vision of Parish Clergy for Orthodox Church Unity in America
  • Similarities and differences between American Orthodox parishes and Protestant congregations
  • The Use of Electronic Technologies in U.S. Orthodox Parishes

580 Orthodox parishes (about 30% of all U.S. Orthodox parishes) participated in this unique study. Five Orthodox jurisdictions had a significant number of participating parishes: the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The study report discusses the similarities and differences among the parishes of these five jurisdictions.

The study "Orthodox Christian Churches in 21st Century America" was part of a much larger national study of American religious congregations titled "Faith Communities Today" (FACT). One chapter of the report provides a glimpse into what are the most remarkable differences between Orthodox Christian parishes and the Mainline and Evangelical Protestant congregations.

The report was prepared by Alexei Krindatch, the Assembly's Research Coordinator.

Read the announcement on the Assembly's website.
Download the reports:
Executive Summary (PDF)
Full Report (PDF)

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