Monday, November 23, 2009

Concerning the Patriarchate and the Papacy

"It is not a question of honor, of privileges, of concessions. The patriarchal institution is a specific entity unique in Eastern ecclesiology. With all respect due to the Petrine ministry, the Patriarchal ministry is equal to it, "servatis servandis", in Eastern ecclesiology. Until this is taken into consideration by the Roman ecclesiology, no progress will be made in ecumenical dialogue. Furthermore, the Patriarchal ministry is not a Roman creation, it is not the fruit of privileges, conceded or granted by Rome."- His Beatitude Gregory III, Patriarch of Antioch for the Greek-Melkites

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some websites

Some great sites A bunch of texts in Latin, from the classical age to the modern. A great resource for Greek and Latin Church fathers in the original language. A new blog by one of my room mates.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interesting quote

"For if Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus, and yet Jesus says to His mother, "Behold you have this son [John] also," then He virtually said to her "Lo, this is Jesys, who thou didst bear." Is it not the case that every one who is perfect lives himself no longer, but Christ lives in him; and if Christ lives in him, then it is said of him to Mary, "Behold they son Christ." " -Orgien's Commentary on John Book 1 chapter 6

Out of all the great things written on Mary, this is in my opinion one of the most beautiful. Origen, in this simple statement, out classes all the over the top poetry of Louis de Montfort and those who follow in his tradition.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Emperor Charles of Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, etc

I have forgotten that yesterday was the feast of Blessed Karl, the last Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Emperor and King Karl of the House of Austria: A Saint for Our Day

by Cristoph Cardinal Schönborn, O.P., D.D., Archbishop of Vienna
L’Osservatore Romano
October 3, 2004

English Translation by Br. Nathan Cochran, O.S.B.

Can a politician possible live a modestly holy life? Is it conceivable and meaningful for a man who held a responsible leadership position during World War I to be named a blessed? These
questions are constantly posed concerning the beatification of Karl of the House of Austria.

Every person – wherever God has placed him – is destined for and called to holiness. People in
positions of responsibility and decision makers, such as politicians and business leaders, as well as bishops, are challenged by special circumstances but are by no means exempt from this call to holiness.

The upright personality of Emperor Karl of Austria has become distorted in the eyes of the public through propaganda and slander, like few others of his time. The extremely careful work of scholarly historical investigations – done in connection with the beatification process – has been able to uncover and correct these manipulated distortions.

Uniquely among the responsible leaders on all sides of the First World War, Karl had frontline
experience. After assuming power he strove to alleviate the horrors of war he saw, and took
concrete steps to bring about peace. As emperor he understood peace to be his absolute, kingly duty. In his ascension manifesto, therefore, he named peace as his central goal. Only Karl took up the peace proposal of Pope Benedict XV, incorporating its principles in a set of proposed peace accords (which historians have evaluated as thoroughly realistic and having had great potential). All of these efforts failed in the long run because of the peace-through-victory delusion decided by his German ally policy-makers (Hindenburg, Ludendorff) and because of the anti-peace party of the Entente. Karl was ready to make considerable sacrifices for peace and, even after his removal from power, he wholly strove to arrange for the peace and stability of his peoples and all nations of Europe. His attempts to return to power in Hungary were undertaken at the request of the pope who was concerned with the stability and liberty there (his concerns were justified!). The emperor saw his fatal suffering as a sacrificial offering for peace and unity in Central Europe.

Although Emperor Karl did not succeed in leading the Danube monarchy in peace, due to superior counter forces, he could however (against determined German-Austrian plans) retain the independence of Austria and, through the establishment of national assemblies, cause a peaceful transition from the monarchy to various succession countries.

Not only in the sense of individual charity, as a child Karl took upon himself the needs of people in need whom he encountered. As emperor, he created a comprehensive social program. He created the first social ministry in the world, which was commissioned with overseeing rent control, child and youth protection, family rights and social insurance, industrial law and employee welfare, thereby adding new dimensions to social politics. The basic structures of these reforms are still in place today.

Emperor Karl saw his office as a commission from God. This did not mean in any way an
authorization of the arbitrary execution of power, but rather the absolute duty to follow and
imitate the example of Christ in His exalted position of being the one true King. Because of this, Karl made no important decision without prayer. An ardent reverence for the Eucharist and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (both symbols and expressions of the love of God) gave both purpose and direction to the emperor. Emperor Karl, therefore, could not simply put his commission aside. An abdication could have secured for him wealth and comfort (like Emperor Wilhelm II). Karl accepted misery, hardship and impending death (although he himself was certainly little concerned with wealth) upon himself in order to remain faithful to the duty of service to the people of Christ entrusted to him.

Karl and Zita had an exemplary marriage. In openness and confidence the emperor discussed all important affairs with his wife, who was fully respectful of his responsibility and authority. The passionate out-going nature of the empress and the quiet introspective personality of the emperor complemented each other in a mutually appreciative and affectionate way. In eleven years of marriage eight children were given to the couple. The beatification procedures were extremely careful in investigating Emperor Karl’s family life, and behavior as a husband, and proved his behavior to be completely upright and faultless. His last words, which Karl addressed to his wife, were: "I love you endlessly." Emperor Karl strove personally to ensure that his children received religious education, and he guided them in the truths of the faith and taught them their prayers.

Karl lived a lively practice of prayer. His fundamental attitude was one of prayer: consciously
standing before God, Whose Will he sought and in Whom he trusted.

From childhood and throughout his life, Karl joined his prayers with those of others. Since his
death members of the League of Prayers, in a similar way, join their prayers with his intercession for peace among peoples.

Karl's modesty, kindness and spirit of reconciliation have been held against him – particularly by cynics in power – as weakness, even stupidity. This attack is directed against the "foolishness" of the Christian, who follows the commandments of God and the example of Christ who relied upon God.

From the very beginning Karl was thrust into situations of discord (into the tensions between his parents, the tensions between Emperor Franz Joseph and the Heir Apparent Archduke Franz
Ferdinand, and into the middle of the 1st World War), that he had not created, and yet he strove to create peace – both as emperor and as a child. Could anyone have solved these problems? That question has relatively few answers, perhaps the issue should be to consider how the emperor prevented much worse things from happening.

Whether a life before God – and concomitantly before the definitive end of history – succeeds,
does not depend on immediate earthly success. (Otherwise Christ could not be our model.)
Whoever attempts to conform to the Will of God, despite all adverse circumstances and in light of his limitations, has a life that has become holy and beneficial to others.

As Christians, we all are overtaxed. To follow the example of Christ – the adversities of this world certainly exceeds human capabilities only. But we are not solely dependent upon our own strength, rather, we are invited to accept the help of God and trust that He will provide the necessary strength.

A feeling of resignation threatens to spread itself, in view of the discord and the cynical use of
power in our world. Do we have a sense to fight against it? Do not the wicked triumph
nevertheless, as already the psalmist complains? Is peace in the world generally possible? Can
the peoples of Europe ever live together in freedom and respect? Can we also simply have peace in the circle of our families?

The life of Emperor Karl is an encouraging example of faith. His beatification gives
encouragement to all who feel overtaxed by their duty – and it invites us to use his inherent
qualities (yet also limited) for the pursuit of peace, freedom and loving responsibility.

After a “wasted century” of destruction by the godless ideologies of National Socialism and
Bolshevism the peoples of Europe have again the opportunity to seek these aims together. Now it must be considered that the soul of Europe can be revived and inspired anew for this task in the spirit of Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Resistant forces who oppose us requires that we do not despair, but rather asks that we seek yet more earnestly the Will of God and to act in confidence on it. Karl of the House of Austria, who lived out this spirit and gave his life for the betterment and unity of his people, is for us therefore an encouraging example and guardian-patron.

The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the world. Reliance upon this helps us to live.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Tomorrow is the day in which the Holy Cross of Christ is celebrated in the Byzantine Churches. This is an interesting feast for me, as a hobby byzantine historian, because not only does it celebrate St. Helen's achievements in finding it, but it also celebrates the Emperor Heraclios' great victory over the Persian Empire. The recovery of the eastern provinces from the Persians and the recovery of the Holy Cross which was taken by the Persians when they captured Jerusalem. The triumphant entry of the Cross in Constantinople, a mixture of a classic Roman triumph and a Christian procession. Celebrating the the Cross by which we are set free from sin. I can not help but think of today's reading

"But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and m...ercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body." Gal 6:14-17

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Roanoke Orthodox Christian Examiner

My Orthodox catechumenate friend has been posting articles about Orthodoxy on this site. Check em out if your interested.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer = bleh

Summers are pretty bad, at least for me. I think I just require much more discipline then I can enforce upon myself to be able to have productive days over the summer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Blog added to the list

Check out

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata

Monastère de Chevetogne

This is a monastery in Belgium that has both a Byzantine-slav community and a Latin Benedictine community all in the same house under one Abbot. Sadly only the Latin monks are eligible to be Abbot I think, but its still a very interesting monastery. Hopefully I can see it one day.

Christ is Risen!

Since it has now been both Old Calender Pascha and Gregorian Pascha, I think its appropriate to say the greeting on my blog! Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! Christos Voskrese!, Voistinu Voskrese!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“Miracles of Padre Pio”

With the blessing of Reverend Bishop Volodymyr (Viytyshyn), Eparch of Ivano-Frankivs’k, for the first time a relic of St. [Padre] Pio has been brought to Ukraine. Presently the relic is at the Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So reports the Ivano-Frankivs’k Eparchy.

At this time many people from all corners of Ukraine are traveling to Ivano-Frankivs’k to venerate the relics of the saint and ask for different graces. However, many people do not know about this saint.

It is possible to become closer acquainted with one of the greatest Catholic saints, Padre Pio, by reading a book of the Svichado [Beacon] publishing house, “Miracles of Padre Pio.” Padre Pio for more than half a century had on his body stigmata, bloody wounds, as signs of the suffering and death of Christ, which not a single doctor could heal. Padre Pio was often accompanied with a tender floral smell which spread from his clothes; he was a wonderful confessor, could read the secret thoughts of people he never met, and performed miraculous healings. Hardened atheists were converted by his life. But, in addition to this, his life was full of ordeals and lack of acceptance.

The author of book, Renzo Allegri, used in this work very rare documents never before seen by any other biographer. He mentions facts and reliable testimonies of people who knew the priest personally, and also those who thank Padre Pio for their conversions, healing, and many others graces obtained.[tt_news]=837

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monarchist Saints?

I think I am going to attempt to compile a list of those saints that were monarchs of their countries


King David

Latin Catholic

Bl. Charlemagne
Bl. Karl I of Austria
St. Louis of France
St. Edward the Confessor

Byzantine (Catholic and Orthodox)
St. Justinian
St. Theodosios
Great King, St. Constantine
Great King, St. Voldomyr and his mother Olha of Kyiv
Bl. Constantine XI
St. Nicholas, last Tsar and Passion-bearer

Protestant Churches (Anglican)
Charles I Stuart, King of England, Scotland, France, etc.

More to come, the list will be updated each time I think of more.If ye know any (like Armenians, Ethiopians, etc) that I missed then leaving a comment would be great. Plus there are many kyivan princes in the Ukrainian calender that I have missed that will require some time to go through and get them all. A fact I always find interesting is that St. Nicholas of Russia and Bl. Karl of Austria were both the last two sovereigns of empires that claimed succession from the Roman Empire, and both fought on opposing sides in WWI.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Philosophy Blog

As a byzantine, I realize that Philosophy and Theology have not always gotten along together (Palamas v. Barlaam),and this has opened my mind to accept the possibility that theology does not need a philosophical system to operate (see Aquinas,neothomism,scholastics, etc)and has given me a fresh outlook on Philosophy since I find that theology is best left to be done in a way akin to the Church Fathers. This also is partly a result of constantly having to argue with several people at my school who believe that the Truths of Divine Revelation are accessible to Reason and that Philosophy and Theology are married in some inseparable way. I reject this notion as false. The Truths of Faith are not accessible to Reason, other wise Aristotle and Plato would have believed in a Triune God. I applaud Tertullian when he says "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem" and I answer him by saying that Athens only brings to the Theology terminology necessary to better define a teaching, but that this teaching exists independently of Philosophic thought. The Real Presence of Christ was true before the Scholastic theologians called it Transubstantiation.
Anyways, what's my point. The point is that I am entering into a secondary endeavor, to have a philosophy blog. Obviously there are many situations where there is serious overlap, and I won't shy away from the overlap when its necessary, but this blog is not the place to discuss how exactly causation works or the nature of time because such things are not part of Divine Revelation and there is no exact answer to them. Rather they are better left for philosophical discussion and inquiry. The blog will cover a wide variety of philosophical schools and hopefully represented as well by two of my friends whom are both Philosophy/Theology double majors like myself in order to provide and excellent overview and reflection on the topics at hand. Epistemology, metaphysics, and logic. Never fear though, this blog will not be abandoned in favor of this new blog.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

American genocide

"The democratic president has brought American science back to extensive development. It is not inconceivable that the world will hold another Nuremberg Trial to condemn the destruction of human lives at the embryonic stage of development. But even Obama is unable to escape Heaven, and Heaven holds Judgment,"- Fr. Dimitry, Chairman of the Committee for Biomedical Ethics and Medical Law of the All-Russian Orthodox Youth Movement

This is a sad situation in this country indeed.... when the most vulnerable people in society are tossed aside like nothing and used as tools to make our lives more comfortable. I am glad to see the Russian Orthodox standing with us against such a monstrous action.

His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Catechetical Homily for Lent

+ B A R T H O L O M E W

By God's Grace Archbishop of Constantinople,
New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church,

Grace and Peace from our Savior Jesus Christ
And Prayers, Blessings and Forgiveness from Us

"Come, all peoples, let us today welcome

The gift of fasting

The period of repentance granted to us by God"
(Monday, First Week of Fasting)

Brethren and beloved children in the Lord,

The fast proposed to us by our Holy Church is not any deprivation, but a charisma. And the repentance to which it calls us is not any punishment, but a divine gift.

When the Church urges us, through the words of Scripture, not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth "where most and rust consume" but instead to store up treasures in heaven, where there is no danger of corruption, it is telling us the truth. For the Church is not of this world, even though it lives in this world and knows it. It knows humanity: our real need and distress. It knows our time well: the time of great development and speed, the plethora of information and confusion, the time of maqny fears, threats and collapses.

This is why – with calmness and steadiness – the Church invites everyone to repentance. This is why it discourages its children from taking the wrong path by treasuring their labors and basing their hopes on unstable foundations. Rather, it encourages them to store up treasure in heaven; for where our treasure lies, there also our heart is.

The treasure that cannot be corrupted and the hope that does not shame is precisely God's love, the divine force that binds all things together. It is the incarnate Word of God, who stays with us forever.

He is the sanctification of our souls and bodies. For, He did not come to judge but to save the world. He did not come to criticize but to heal. "He wounds with compassion and demonstrates compassion with fervor."

He abolished he one who held the power of death, namely the devil. He annihilated the sorrow of death, namely the joyless form and dark presence of death, which darkens and poisons all of our life and joy.

This is why, when our heart and love are directed toward the divine-human Lord, who has authority over the living and the dead, then everything is illumined and transformed.

Indeed, when the Apostle exhorts us "not to set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Tim. 6.17), he is assuring us that the true enjoyment of life is exactly what God offers us, while we simply receive it with gratitude and thanksgiving. Then, the little becomes abundant, because it is blessed; and the fleeting and momentary shine with the light of eternity.

Then, not only do the joys of life contain something eternal; but the troubles and sufferings become occasions of divine comfort.

The divine economy of salvation is certain. For, God is "the one who provides everything with depth of wisdom and loving-kindness." And the deposit of our labors is secure, for "we surrender all of our life and hope" to the incarnate Word.

So when the Gospel refers us to heaven, it is speaking literally. It brings us down to the reality of the earth, which has become heaven.

This is the certainty experienced and confessed by the Church.

Through your Cross, O Christ, there is one flock and one church of angels and human beings. Heaven and earth rejoice together. Lord, glory to you."

The Church grants us the opportunity to experience this miracle of earth-become-heaven. Our roots lie in heaven. Without the Church, we are uprooted and homeless.

For the Church is our home. So long as we return to the Church, we are returning home; we come to ourselves. So long as we are estranged from the Church, we are lost and meaningless.

So long as we approach the Church, we perceive the authenticity of what is true. We behold the heavenly Father awaiting us outside the house.

We are convinced by the sense of goodness and beauty; we sense the presence of God's powerful love, which overcomes death; we no longer sense the corruption and doubt, which mock the world.

Therefore, let us heed the divine invitation to enter the ocean of fasting in order to reach the harbor of light and resurrection with all the saints.

Holy and Great Lent 2009

Your fervent supplicant before God,

+ BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"33 Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews?
34 Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me?
35 Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done?
36 Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence.
37 Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith to him: What is truth? And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews, and saith to them: I find no cause in him." - John 18

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

I would also like to congratulate the Patriarch-Elect, + Kiril for his election to the Patriarchial throne of Moscow. God grant him many years!

While on the subject of Moscow. Many Ukrainian Catholics hold the Muscovite church in a very low opinion, and to be honest they pretty much deserve the criticisms they receive in their behavior following our freedom from the Soviet oppression. I, though, welcome the day when the Patriarch of Moscow and the Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych can embrace one another as brothers in Christ and in a mission to preach East-Roman Orthodox faith to all the Rus' people whom have been lost to the faith because of Communism. A true union of course, not one like which was imposed upon us by the Soviets. I believe +Kiril will be a vital step to bringing this about some time in the future (most likely not in my lifetime admittedly). Just my two cents.

Mar Ephrem and Mar Isaac

January 28

St. Ephraim of Syria


Saint Ephraim was born in Nisibis of Mesopotamia some time about the year 306, and in his youth was the disciple of Saint James, Bishop of Nisibis, one of the 318 Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council. Ephraim lived in Nisibis, practicing a severe ascetical life and increasing in holiness, until 363, the year in which Julian the Apostate was slain in his war against the Persians, and his successor Jovian surrendered Nisibis to them. Ephraim then made his dwelling in Edessa, where he found many heresies to do battle with. He waged an especial war against Bardaisan; this gnostic had written many hymns propagating his errors, which by their sweet melodies became popular and enticed souls away from the truth. Saint Ephraim, having received from God a singular gift of eloquence, turned Bardaisan's own weapon against him, and wrote a multitude of hymns to be chanted by choirs of women, which set forth the true doctrines, refuted heretical error, and praised the contests of the Martyrs.

Of the multitude of sermons, commentaries, and hymns that Saint Ephraim wrote, many were translated into Greek in his own lifetime. Sozomen says that Ephraim "Surpassed the most approved writers of Greece," observing that the Greek writings, when translated into other tongues, lose most of their original beauty, but Ephraim's works "are no less admired when read in Greek than when read in Syriac" (Eccl. Hist., Book 111, 16). Saint Ephraim was ordained deacon, some say by Saint Basil the Great, whom Sozomen said "was a great admirer of Ephraim, and was astonished at his erudition." Saint Ephraim was the first to make the poetic expression of hymnody and song a vehicle of Orthodox theological teachings, constituting it an integral part of the Church's worship; he may rightly be called the first and greatest hymnographer of the Church, who set the pattern for these who followed him, especially Saint Romanos the Melodist. Because of this he is called the "Harp of the Holy Spirit." Jerome says that his writings were read in some churches after the reading of the Scriptures, and adds that once he read a Greek translation of one of Ephraim's works, "and recognized, even in translation, the incisive power of his lofty genius" (De vir. ill., ch. CXV).

Shortly before the end of his life, a famine broke out in Edessa, and Saint Ephraim left his cell to rebuke the rich for not sharing their goods with the poor. The rich answered that they knew no one to whom they could entrust their goods. Ephraim asked them, "What do you think of me?" When they confessed their reverence for him, he offered to distribute their alms, to which they agreed. He himself cared with his own hands for many of the sick from the famine, and so crowned his life with mercy and love for neighbor. Saint Ephraim reposed in peace, according to some in the year 373, according to others, 379.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Ephraim, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone

At all times didst thou foresee the hour of reckoning, and pricked in thy heart, thou ever didst lament with tears; and, O righteous Ephraim, thou wast a mighty teacher in works and deeds. Hence, O Father for all the world, thou didst rouse the slothful unto change of heart.

Mar Isaac the Syrian

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone

He that thundered on Sinai with saving laws for man hath also given thy writings as guides in prayer unto monks, O revealer of unfathomable mysteries; for having gone up in the mount of the vision of the Lord, thou wast shown the many mansions. Wherefore, O God-bearing Isaac, entreat the Saviour for all praising thee.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

As an ascetic and God-bearer great in righteousness and an instructor of monastics do we honour thee, thou revealer of things sacred, and our protector. But, O Isaac, since thou hast great boldness with the Lord, intercede with Him for all of us who sing thy praise and who cry to thee: Rejoice, O Father most wise in God.
Readings courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery

"A small but always persistent discipline is a great force; for a soft drop falling persistently, hollows out hard rock."- Mar Isaac of Syria

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Joyful news

The SSPX's excommunications have been lifted after 21 years of dispute between the Apostolic see and them. This is great to hear for me since I was once one of their supporters but also because it demonstrates the fraternal charity that should guide the actions of the Pope, even when he is acting as Latin Patriarch as was the case here. Hopefully Benedict XVI, +Fellay and the other three Bishops can work together to resolve the crisis in the Latin Church.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Proclamation to the faithful of the UGCC on the year of God 2009, the Year of Christian Vocation, with special emphasis on the priestly vocation

Most Reverend and highly honored Clergy
Honored Monks and Nuns,
Dearly beloved in Christ Lay Sisters and Brothers:
God’s blessing and peace in the Lord!

Dearly beloved in Christ!

The main spiritual theme of the past year 2008, according to the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of 2007, was Christian vocation. We hope sincerely that during the year which is running to an end we all – clergy or laity, older or younger – indeed were enriched by realizing that everybody who is born in the world in addition to the gift of life and holy faith obtains from the Creator a special task in life, which is a vocation. We hope also that every faithful person tried to recognize more intently his or her own vocation, to cherish and very conscientiously carry it out for the divine glory, for the good of one’s neighbor, and, most importantly, for understanding the meaning of one’s own life. We prayed sincerely for this, singing during the Divine Liturgy in the litany: «Again we pray for all people that they accept with interest the vocation given them by the Lord, that they thank God for it sincerely, and conscientiously and persistently carry it out and serve by it God and people gladly.»

The Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which took place on September of this year, decreed to continue in the following year, 2009, the theme of Christian vocation with an accent on the priestly vocation, and instead of the above-mentioned petition, to sing in the litany: «Again we pray for our priests, deacons, seminarians, and for their holy vocation.»

In this letter to you, dearly beloved in Christ, I want to explain in more detail this main theme of 2009 A.D. For our pastors and seminarians will be published another, special appeal.

Foremost I want to turn your attention to the fact that in our prayers and reflections we have to continue the theme of Christian vocation in general, and, even more, to try yet deeper, with more detail, to understand it, and most of all to carry it out in our daily life. During 2008 you, probably, listened to sermons, read books, and participated actively in various events on this theme. Such events in particular were organized by eparchies and inter-eparchial commissions, each in the special area (families, youth, laity, and others). Each of us in the future should ask him- or herself how deservingly and pleasing to God they execute the vocation given to him or her and how sincerely they try to help children and youth recognize and carry out their vocations. In addition to this task, the Synod of Bishops calls all of us in 2009 to pay special attention to the priestly vocation. Why? Because for the development and growth of our Church good spiritual leaders are needed, and first of all pastors are accordingly prepared and appointed for this. The bishops invite all members of the Church to consider the sacred character and importance of the priestly vocation and what we, the greater Church community, can do so that our priests be exemplary pastors to God’s glory and for the general good of all the Church and their native nation. We want to offer you a few ideas in relation to this aspect of next year’s spiritual theme.

When we talk about vocation and, in particular, when we call for prayers for priestly vocations, we think usually that our main and unique task is to ask the Lord God to call a sufficient number of candidates to the priestly order or, humanly speaking, to fill our seminaries. Entering the seminary is certainly a very important element, because the realization of the priestly vocation begins with this. However this does not reach the depth of the vocation to the priestly order. First of all, it is necessary to say that study in the seminary is preceded by other stages in this vocation. A good pastor often preaches about vocations and intently looks closely to the members of society, trying to recognize at least its embryo in concrete persons and, if such will notice, to take care to cherish it. A good parish is fruitful soil which bears the beautiful fruits of priestly vocations. One of our parishes in the USA can be an example, in the state of Pennsylvania, which in the 1920s and 1930s gave 37 lasting priestly and monastic vocations. The priests, monks and nuns who came from this community unanimously consider the merit of this in the pastor. A good Christian family, which is like a cradle or hothouse of new spiritual vocations, assists even more in the awakening and growing of a spiritual vocation. In a family of believing people the attitude to the priesthood is honor. Even if an unworthy priest is spoken about, this is said with pain but not with spite. And if there are boys in a family, this vocation is examined as the best possible one.

Not less than the work of father-pastors and the zealous prayer of the Church community, the example of heroes of the faith leads to an awakening of priestly vocations. In connection with this we remember the words of Pope John Paul II of holy memory during the Divine Liturgy in Lviv on June 27, 2001, A.D. Proclaiming 27 members of our Church blessed martyrs, the Holy Father appealed to the priests present at the Liturgy with the words: “If God blesses your land with many vocations and if the seminaries are full – and this is a source of hope for your Church – that is surely one of the fruits of their sacrifice. But it is a great responsibility for you.”

There should be no doubt that the Lord God, as a good Father and Master, calls a sufficient number of workers for the harvest (see Luke 10:2). If there are not enough deserving candidates, however, often we people are guilty, in particular through the decline of spiritual life in our families, through a lack of proper sermons and encouragement, and also through a lack of honor for the priestly status. There is no hope in gaining priestly vocations in families in which the greatest value is money or in which parents’ major care is family relations. It is necessary to remember here the negative influence which the modern mass media has, which quite often becomes the transmitter of anti-Christian ideas and visions. And already quite shattering is the bad life example of some priest, especially the local pastor.

These obstacles are very large, but they are not insuperable. Recently we have more than once heard criticism addressed at priests because of their unworthy conduct or superficial implementation of pastors’ duties. Let us ask ourselves: Did we pray for the correction of such priests, people who fell into a great spiritual crisis? How much did we help them get out of such a tragic state? In fact the priest is not a single island among the wide sea of humanity. He especially needs support from the people who are around him, because he is visible and his every step is well known. Here one should also not underestimate the attacks of the enemy of Church, who operates according to the well-known principle: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed.” (see Zech. 13:7; Mt. 26:31)

Among the means of support which the whole church community should use for its priests, the first place is occupied by prayer. The priest exists and operates with the help of the strength of prayer, not only his own, but also the prayer of the community which he serves. Therefore the Synod of Bishops calls all the members of the Church to pray for priests and deacons – not only for the intention that they be in sufficient quantity, but also first of all that those who enter this holy status in accord with the divine will live out their vocation and fulfill it in a holy way.

Believing people help their priest. For great requirements stand before him: as a person, a pastor, an administrator, a teacher, a citizen, and if he is married – a husband and father. A priest’s life is not covered with a path of roses, except for in those cases when he wants to be a lying prophet and satisfy the whims of the people, instead of leading them to the Heavenly Kingdom. If he tries indeed to be godly, his life is rather a thorny path. Against this background we will understand better who we want to be: the Pharisees who mocked Jesus Christ, or the one from Cyrene who helped Him carry the cross.

Dearly beloved in Christ! We begin 2009, the Year of Christian Vocation with a special accent on the priestly vocation. Let us think about ourselves, about our vocation. Let us reflect on the vocation to the priesthood, because all of us want to see our priests as God’s exemplary servants, the content of whose life is to lead the souls entrusted to them to the Heavenly Father. Together with Jesus Christ, the High Priest, let us pray for and support our priests and deacons.

May the Lord’s blessing be on you!


Issued in Kyiv, at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, December 31, 2008

Prayer of the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky
for good Ukrainian clergy,
for which we entrust all the faithful of our Church to pray

Lord, O Lord, look down from heaven and visit the vineyard which was planted by Your hand.

May Your all-powerful hand be always on this people which You have loved. Give it, Eternal God, in every generation, until the end of the world, holy bishops and priests, filled with Your Spirit — pastors and teachers of Your law, who would be able unchanging to keep the truth of Your holy incarnation and with love to teach and to lead this great people.

Grant to the Ukrainian clergy the grace to be never afraid of sacrifice, where the only matter is Your glory and the good of this people.

Set on fire in the hearts of Ukrainian priests the spirit of zealousness for the salvation of souls. Open before their eyes the wisdom of Your revelation and give them high feeling for the holiness of those things to which you called them. Bless their work and their intentions. Protect them from every misfortune. And unite them with Your blessings, so that in love they be one – as you, Father with Your Son and the Son with You. Amen.

Former Copic Catholic Patriarch falls asleep in the Lord.

Vatican City/Cairo, 21 January 2009 (KAP/KI) - Egyptian Cardinal and former Coptic Catholic Patriarch (1986-2006) Stéphanos II Ghattas, C.M., died Tuesday January 20, 2009, in Cairo, four days after his 89th birthday. He governed his Church, which is in full communion with Rome, from June 9, 1986, to March 30, 2006. Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) created him a Cardinal in 2001. Following his death the College of Cardinal counts 189 members, of whom 116 are under eighty and have the right to vote in a papal conclave.

Andraos Ghattas was born on January 16, 1920, in Cheikh Zein-el-Dine near Tahta, currently in the Eparchy of Sohag in Egypt. He entered the junior seminary in Cairo in August 1929 and continued his studies at the Jesuit College of the Holy Family, graduating in June 1938. The same year he entered the College of Propaganda Fide in Rome, and in 1944 he earned licenciates in philosophy and theology.

He was ordained Priest on March 25, 1944, in Rome. Han ble presteviet den 25. mars 1944 i Roma. On his return to Egypt, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy and Dogmatic Theology at the Major Seminary of Tahta, then of Tanta. In 1952 he entered the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists/Vincentians) and completed his noviciate in Paris. After six years of missionary work in Lebanon he was appointed bursar and then superior of the Lazarist community in Alexandria in Egypt.

On May 8, 1967, he was elected Bishop of Thebes-Luxor by the Coptic Catholic Synod. He was ordained Bishop on June 9, 1967, in the Lazarist Church in Alexandria by Cardinal Stéphanos I Sidarouss, C.M., Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, and was enthroned in the Cathedral of Tahta on June 16. On February 24, 1984, he was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Patriarchate during the illness of Patriarch Stéphanos I Sidarouss. Following the resignation of His Beatitude Stéphanos I Sidarouss, the Coptic Catholic Synod convened at the Patriarchal Residence at Koubbeh, and on June 9, 1986, Bishop Andraos Ghattas was unanimously elected the new Patriarch of Alexandria, taking the name of Stephanos II in honour of his predecessor and as a sign of continuity. He received ecclesiastical communion from Pope John Paul II on June 23, 1986. He traveled several times to Canada, Australia and the United States, where he founded the first Coptic Catholic parish.

On February 21, 2001, he was created a Cardinal Bishop by Pope John Paul II. He took part in the funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005. On March 30, 2006, at the age of 86, he resigned. The Coptic Catholic Synod of Bishops elected as his successor the current Patriarch Antonios I Naguib.


May his memory be eternal!

New Syriac Catholic Patriarch

(Kaldaya) - A few days ago the Synod of the Syriac Catholic Church, that last year failed to elect a new patriarch to replace Mar Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel-Ahad who in January had resigned, after its meeting in Rome came in a short time (3 days) at a decision. The new patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church is, since yesterday January 20, the bishop of the Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance for the United States and Canada, Mar Ephrem Joseph Younan who will take the name of Mar Ignatius Joseph III Younan. On Friday 23, the new patriarch will meet the Holy Father, and in mid-February there will be an official ceremony at the patriarchal headquarters in Lebanon.

H.E. Ephrem Joseph Younan

Bishop of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark, Apostolic Visitator for the Catholic Syriacs in Central America and Venezuela.

H.E. Ephrem Joseph F. Younan born to Farjo & Khatoun (Khabot) Younan on November 15, 1944 in Hassakeh, Syria and baptized on December 8th at Assumption Parish. He is the middle child of nine children, having four brothers and four sisters.

Bishop Joseph Younan attended Assumption Parochial School and after graduation went on to study at Our Lady of Deliverance Seminary in Charfet, Lebanon. He continued to pursue his priestly formation and career at "Propaganda Fide" and earned a double Licentiate (Masters) in philosophy and theology from Urbaniana University in Rome.

Bishop Joseph was ordained to the priesthood on September 12, 1971. After ordination he was appointed as teacher in the Seminary in Charfet where he was director of the major Seminary for two years. He returned to his home Diocese of Hassakeh where he functioned as Diocesan Director of Cathechesis. He remained in this position as director for seven years. He was then appointed pastor of the Church of the Annunciation in Beirut in 1980, where he remained until 1986.

In March of 1986 he was assigned to the United States where he was to establish a mission in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area to gather Syriac Rite Catholics. Soon after his arrival, with the guidance and assistance of The Most Reverend Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick (Archbishop of Newark) he established the first mission of Our Lady of Deliverance. In 1988, he was further appointed by the Sacred Congregation for Eastern Rite Churches as coordinator among his colleague missionary priests in the United States and Canada. And in 1991, he was officially appointed "Apostolic Delegate" by the same Congregation to represent the Congregation and the Syriac Rite to the Catholic hierarchy of North America.

In June of 1991, Father Younan was elevated to the rank of "Corbishop" by the Patriarch, Mar Ignatius Antoun II Hayek. The ceremony took place at Our Lady of Deliverance Mission in Newark, New Jersey.

Since this time, Corbishop Younan traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast (California) on a monthly basis to help establish another mission. Soon after his initial visits, the mission of The Sacred Heart was established in North Hollywood in 1991. Three years after, he reached out again to establish a further mission Church in San Diego called Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

On November 6, 1995, Pope John Paul II appointed him first Bishop (Eparch) of the newly established Diocese (Eparchy) Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese for Syriac Catholics in the United States and Canada. He was consecrated Bishop on January 7, 1996 at Saint Peter and Paul's Church in Kamishly, Syria by His Beatitude, the Patriarch Hayek.

Currently, Bishop Younan resides in Union City, New Jersey.

He fluently speaks Arabic, French, Aramaic, Italian, German and English.
Many years to His Beatitude!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Double post!

Sorry I didn't get around to this yesterday, but I wanted to commemorate St. Mark of Ephesus , whose feast was yesterday.

Kontakion in the Third Tone

Clad, O godly-minded one, with an invincible armor, thou didst dash to pieces the pride of the Western rebellion; thou wast brought forth as the champion of Orthodoxy, as the Comforter's own instrument and pure vessel. For this cause, to thee we cry out: Rejoice, O Mark, thou boast of the Orthodox flock.

"We seek and we pray for our return to that time when, being united, we spoke the same things and there was no schism between us." - St.Mark of Ephesus.

St. Mark was the only Orthodox Bishop who did not sign the decrees of Florence and most likely because he realized that it was not a true reunion, but a false one. Nothing was resolved and when he refused to sign the Pope himself cried out that nothing had been resolved (not exact quote). Today we Byzantine Catholics pave the path for eventual reunion between the two sides and perhaps St. Mark would not be the most pleased at our own situation during his life, but our union is different then that of Florence.

Also, I would like to remember the trial of King Charles I of England and Scotland. A king whom was betrayed by his own people. May his memory be eternal!

Monday, January 19, 2009


This is a video of the priestly ordination of Father Jason of St. Volodomyr and Olha parish in Garner,NC. He comes to Charlotte, NC to offer Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian once a month.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cyprianic vs. Augustinian?

Please do not take this as a scholarly piece in the least bit. Just a little of my own personal reflections. Many times there is considered a vast difference between the Sacramental theology of the Byzantine east vs. the theology of the Latin west. This, from my own observations, is root in a perceived difference in the teachings of St. Augustine and St. Cyprian. Supposedly at least. Its interesting because St. Cyprian and St. Augustine were both north Africans, and consequently both Latin culturally. They both even wrote in Latin as far as I know. So why the difference? To give a break down in the Augustinian(and later thomist view) a Sacrament needs several things
1. proper form
2. Proper matter
3. Intention to do what the Church does

Say for instance, the Eucharist. In the west, a priest who has valid orders can consecrete the Eucharist irrelevant of his faith in it or in the Church. Because intention is assumed if he is performing with proper matter and form.

In the Byzantine Orthodox east, there is no distinction between illicit and invalid. They need
1. Proper matter
2. Proper form
3. the Faith of the Church

So when a priest does proper form and matter in the Orthodox church, if he is not Orthodox then its irrelevant as he no longer posses the ability to celebrate the Mysteries at all! This is why some Orthodox rebaptize Catholics.

So if we look at these, perhaps there is a compromise that keeps both traditions intact fully. The intention to do as the Church does, and the faith of the Church really should be considered one in the same thing. I beleive, in my opinion, that the west has erred in some regard to this. Such as in the case of vagrant bishops who receive their orders from Old Catholics. Can such people so far from the Church structure really be intending to do as the Church intends? This automatic assumption on the part of the west of intention is ill founded. Likewise though, with the Orthodox. In the case of say , Catholic Sacraments. While there are serious disagreements between latins and the Orthodox on the role of the papacy, does that constitute a complete abandonment of the necessities of Orthodox faith for the celebration of the Mysteries? Just some thoughts I had.

(Excuse me my Orthodox readers if I have any, for talking of the mysteries in this very legalistic manner. I only am hoping to enlighten those unfamiliar with them. )

Friday, January 2, 2009

St. Seraphim of Sarov

January 2


Saint Seraphim was born in the town of Kursk in 1759. From tender childhood he was under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, who, when he was nine years old, appeared to him in a vision, and through her icon of Kursk, healed him from a grave sickness from which he had not been expected to recover. At the age of nineteen he entered the monastery of Sarov, where he amazed all with his obedience, his lofty asceticism, and his great humility. In 1780 the Saint was stricken with a sickness which he manfully endured for three years, until our Lady the Theotokos healed him, appearing to him with the Apostles Peter and John. He was tonsured a monk in 1786, being named for the holy Hieromartyr Seraphim, Bishop of Phanarion (Dec. 4), and was ordained deacon a year later. In his unquenchable love for God, he continually added labours to labours, increasing in virtue and prayer with titan strides. Once, during the Divine Liturgy of Holy and Great Thursday, he was counted worthy of a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who appeared encompassed by the heavenly hosts. After this dread vision, he gave himself over to greater labours.

In 1794, Saint Seraphim took up the solitary life in a cell in the forest. This period of extreme asceticism lasted some fifteen years, until 1810. It was at this time that he took upon himself one of the greatest feats of his life. Assailed with despondency and a storm of contrary thoughts raised by the enemy of our salvation, the Saint passed a thousand nights on a rock, continuing in prayer until God gave him complete victory over the enemy. On another occasion, he was assaulted by robbers, who broke his chest and his head with their blows, leaving him almost dead. Here again, he began to recover after an appearance of the most holy Theotokos, who came to him with the Apostles Peter and John, and pointing to Saint Seraphim, uttered those awesome words, "This is one of my kind."

In 1810, at the age of fifty; weakened with his more than human struggles, Saint Seraphim returned to the monastery for the third part of his ascetical labours, in which he lived as a recluse until 1825. For the first five years of his reclusion, he spoke to no one at all, and little is known of this period. After five years, he began receiving visitors little by little, giving counsel and consolation to ailing souls. In 1825, the most holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint and revealed to him that it was pleasing to God that he fully end his seclusion; from this time the number of people who came to see him grew daily. It was also at the command of the holy Virgin that he undertook the spiritual direction of the Diveyevo Convent. He healed bodily ailments, foretold things to come, brought hardened sinners to repentance, and saw clearly the secrets of the heart of those who came to him. Through his utter humility and childlike simplicity, his unrivalled ascetical travails, and his angel-like love for God, he ascended to the holiness and greatness of the ancient God-bearing Fathers and became like Anthony for Egypt, the physician for the whole Russian land. In all, the most holy Theotokos appeared to him twelve times in his life. The last was on Annunciation, 1831, to announce to him that he would soon, enter into his rest. She appeared to him accompanied by twelve virgins-martyrs and monastic saints-with Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian. With a body ailing and broken from innumerable hardships, and an unspotted soul shining with the light of Heaven, the Saint lived less than two years after this, falling asleep in peace on January 2, 1833, chanting Paschal hymns. On the night of his repose, the righteous Philaret of the Glinsk Hermitage beheld his soul ascending to Heaven in light. Because of the universal testimony to the singular holiness of his life, and the seas of miracles that he performed both in life and after death, his veneration quickly spread beyond the boundaries of the Russian Empire to every corner of the earth. See also July 19.

Kontakion in the Second Tone

Having left the beauty of the world and what is corrupt therein, O Saint, thou didst settle in the Monastery of Sarov. And having lived there an angelic life, thou wast for many the way unto salvation. Wherefore, Christ hath glorified thee, O Father Seraphim, and hath enriched thee with the gift of healing and miracles. And so we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Seraphim, our holy Father.

Blessed Constantine XI

Blessed Constantine XI

Mar Isaac of Syria

Mar Isaac of Syria

St. Gregory Palamas

St. Gregory Palamas