Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Christ is Risen!: Pascha at St. Vladimir's Seminary


Photo: Leanne Parrott Photography

Our mailing address is:
575 Scarsdale Road
Yonkers NY 10707 USA
www.svots.edu
(914) 961 8313

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences

Statement on the One-Year Anniversary of the Bishops Abducted in Syria from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America


1. We, the Hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, representing millions of Orthodox Christians, express our grave concern over the escalation of unrest and ongoing violence in countries throughout the Middle East, especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

2. Our Assembly denounces any and all attacks—whether by means of violence, kidnapping, torture or killing—on all fellow human beings, irrespective of their race, ethnic origin, and religion. Moreover, we deplore the destruction of all places of worship or their forced conversion from their original intent.

3. We are especially disheartened at the inexcusable indifference and unjustifiable inaction of local and national governments, which have failed to protect the Christian population in these regions. We are also gravely troubled that representatives of the ancient Christian communities in Syria are not included in the peace and reconciliation process. Christians in Iraq, Egypt, and Syria have peacefully coexisted with people of all faiths in the region for two thousand years. As such, they must be respected and included in all decisions toward social and political justice.

4. One year ago, on April 22, 2013, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi (brother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch) and the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, Syria were kidnapped by Islamist extremists during a joint philanthropic mission in the region. With sorrowful hearts we recognize a growing lack of interest on the part of civil authorities to assist in the recovery of the two Christian leaders. We encourage all people of good conscience to communicate with their elected officials and ask
them to assist in the effort to find and retrieve the two bishops. We implore the Holy Great-Martyr Saint George, the patron of Christians of 
the Middle East and upon the eve of whose Feast the Hierarchs were kidnapped, to intercede for their salvation and safe return.

Moreover, we appeal to the world’s 2.2 billion Christians, as well as to all people of faith and good will, and ask them to keep the two bishops in their daily thoughts and prayers. We also ask the Orthodox Christian faithful of our Assembly’s region to offer a special petition during the Great Litany of all divine services during this 40-day Season of Pascha. Before the petition commemorating the Most Holy
Mother of God, we ask that the following petition be included:

For the safety of Metropolitan Paul and Archbishop John and for their return to their communities, let us pray to the Lord.


The Members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America



--
Chrysanthe Loizos
Communications Officer
Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America


St. Vladimir's Receives Approval for D.Min. Distance Learning Program: Applications Being Accepted


22 April 2014 • D.Min. Hybrid Program • Deborah (Malacky) Belonick  
Dr. Gayle WoloschakDr. Gayle WoloschakFr. Nick SolakFr. Nick SolakSt. Vladimir's Seminary is now accepting applications from priests, chaplains, and other professionals in ministry who want to earn an accredited Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree, through a new hybrid program that combines online coursework with on-campus intensive training. In the coming months the seminary administration will begin reviewing applications to admit 15 students into the first cohort of the new program, set to commence fall semester 2014. There also will be an on-campus orientation this summer.
The Association for Theological School (ATS) approved the hybrid D.Min. program in fall 2012, and more recently, on March 21, 2014, the State of New York's Office of College and University Evaluation also granted its approval. Additionally, The Danilchick Family Endowment for Pastoral Studies, a fund set up by The Rev. Protodeacon Peter M. Danilchick and his wife, Tanya, will help support qualified D.Min. students with their tuition, through need-based scholarships.
Fr. John JillionsFr. John JillionsDr. Daniel HinshawDr. Daniel HinshawThe Very Rev. Dr. J. Sergius Halvorsen, assistant professor of Homiletics and Rhetoric at St. Vladimir's and the program's director, observed, "Receiving authorization for the D.Min. from New York State is a great accomplishment for everyone at St. Vladimir's Seminary, and I'm extremely happy to complete this stage of initial planning and authorization. Now our world class D.Min. faculty can begin the essential work of strengthening the ministry of priests, chaplains, and others involved in institutional and professional ministry."
The D.Min. Program will integrate doctoral level academic work with applied pastoral practice, and members of the St. Vladimir's faculty, along with Orthodox Christian scholars from other institutions, will teach the eight core courses:
The Very Rev. J. Sergius Halvorsen, Ph.D., Advanced Preaching and Communications
Gayle E. Woloschak, Ph.D., Bioethics for Ministry
The Very Rev. Nicholas Solak, D.Min., Counseling in the ParishFr. Eugen PentiucFr. Eugen Pentiuc
The Very Rev. John A. Jillions, Ph.D., Ministry in a Secular Age
Daniel B. Hinshaw, M.D., Ministry to the Sick and Dying
The Rev. Gregory Edwards, Ph.D., Missiology
The Rev. Eugen J. Pentiuc, Ph.D., Scripture: Exegesis for Preaching
The Very Rev. Joseph F. Purpura, D.Min., Youth Ministry
A project that combines research at the doctoral level with the intentional application of pastoral theory in pastoral ministry will comprise the final phase of the program.
"Pastors today face immense challenges," emphasized Fr. Sergius. "The depth and intensity of suffering and spiritual darkness in the lives of the people Fr. Gregory EdwardsFr. Gregory Edwardswe serve is startling. Fr. Joseph PurpuraFr. Joseph PurpuraFacing such serious challenges, there has never been a greater need for excellence in pastoral ministry."
Program applicants must have at least three years experience in ministry subsequent to their first theological degree; be currently serving in a position of ministry; and be capable of doing doctoral level academic work.
Anyone interested in learning more about the program may contact Fr. Sergius at shalvorsen@svots.edu or (914) 961-8313, x367. Read more about the D.Min. Program, including technology requirements. 
 http://www.svots.edu/headlines/st-vladimirs-receives-approval-dmin-distance-learning-program-applications-being-accepted

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Christ is Risen!: The Paschal Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom


Icon
Pascha

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

About St. John Chrysostom:

St. John Chrysostom ("The Golden Tongue") was born at Antioch in about the year 347 into the family of a military-commander, spent his early years studying under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians and was ordained a deacon in the year 381 by the bishop of Antioch Saint Meletios. In 386 St. John was ordained a priest by the bishop of Antioch, Flavian.
Over time, his fame as a holy preacher grew, and in the year 397 with the demise of Archbishop Nektarios of Constantinople—successor to Sainted Gregory the Theologian—Saint John Chrysostom was summoned from Antioch for to be the new Archbishop of Constantinople.
Exiled in 404 and after a long illness because of the exile, he was transferred to Pitius in Abkhazia where he received the Holy Eucharist, and said, "Glory to God for everything!", falling asleep in the Lord on 14 September 407.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy fire ceremony draws tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians for Jerusalem ritual

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/04/19/holy-fire-ceremony-draws-tens-thousands-orthodox-christians-for-jerusalem/


  • Christian pilgrims hold candles at the church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, during the ceremony of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, April 19, 2014. The "holy fire" was passed among worshippers outside the Church and then taken to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where tradition holds Jesus was born, and from there to other Christian communities in Israel and the West Bank. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The dark hall inside Christianity's holiest shrine was illuminated with the flames from thousands of candles on Saturday as worshippers participated in the holy fire ceremony, a momentous spiritual event in Orthodox Easter rites.
Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected at the site where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands in the Old City of Jerusalem. While the source of the holy fire is a closely guarded secret, believers say the flame appears spontaneously from his tomb on the day before Easter to show Jesus has not forgotten his followers.
The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years.
Thousands of Christians waited outside the church for it to open Saturday morning. Custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is shared by a number of denominations that jealously guard their responsibilities under a fragile network of agreements hammered out over the last millennia. In accordance with tradition, the church's doors were unlocked by a member of a Muslim family, who for centuries has been the keeper of the ancient key that is passed on within the family from generation to generation.
Once inside, clergymen from the various Orthodox denominations in robes and hoods jostled for space with local worshippers and pilgrims from around the world.
Top Orthodox clergymen descended into the small chamber marking the site of Jesus' tomb as worshippers eagerly waited in the dim church clutching bundles of unlit candles and torches.
After a while, candles emerged lit with "holy fire" — said to have been lit by a miracle as a message to the faithful from heaven.
Bells rang as worshippers rushed to use the flames to ignite their own candles.
In mere seconds, the bursts of light spread throughout the cavernous church as flames jumped from one candle to another. Clouds of smoke wafted through the crammed hall as flashes from cameras and mobile phones documented what is for many, the spiritual event of a lifetime.
Some held light from the "holy fire" to their faces to bask in the glow while others dripped wax on their bodies.Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said tens of thousands of worshippers participated in the ceremony.
Many couldn't fit inside the church and the narrow winding streets of the Old City were lined with pilgrims.
The "holy fire" was passed among worshippers outside the Church and then taken to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where tradition holds Jesus was born, and from there to other Christian communities in Israel and the West Bank.
Later it is taken aboard special flights to Athens and other cities, linking many of the 200 million Orthodox worldwide.

Receiving the Holy Fire Once Again By Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

We have just celebrated the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Taybeh in a most magnificent way at the outskirts of our village approximately  5:30 pm local time on this Great and Holy Saturday while waiting all afternoon when this great miracle occurred once again in Jerusalem.  
 “O Gladsome Light, of the Holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly Holy, blessed Jesus Christ!” (Holy Saturday Morning Prayers)
The local priests, Fr. Daoud, Fr. Jack and Fr. Aziz, of all three churches and Fr. Peter who came  from Jerusalem with the choir chanting, and the Taybeh Scouts beating the drums marched again this year to meet our cousin Ibrahim with his son Philip, who went to the city of Ramallah, where the faithful brought the flame from Jerusalem for the Palestinian Christian s who cannot reach the Holy City due to lack of permits. Many residents of Taybeh, were in the streets for the ecumenical procession which was simply glorious although a bit cloudy with a sprinkle of rain.
The solemn and beautiful procession in our village ended at St. George Church, where Fr. Daoud placed the flame  on the altar to await the faithful for the Resurrection service of Holy Pascha:  “Come ye and receive light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who arose from the dead.”
In the last few years during Great and Holy Saturday, I have delivered the same message from the Holy Land.  But it has been a great spiritual joy to keep reminding friends about the miracle that appeared for the first time during the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Luke 24:4; Matthew 28:1-4)  This magnificent miracle is at the core of our Christian presence in the Holy Land  The Miracle of the Holy Fire received today by His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem was broadcasted live on Palestine TV.  
The brilliant ceremony is considered a miracle because there is no explanation for the way the Holy Fire appears from the Holy Life Giving Tomb of Christ actually coming down from Heaven. Many personal accounts have called the miracle “incredible” and similar to lighting. The Holy Fire at the moment is in flight to many surrounding countries that have less than three hour flights by private transportation including Cyprus, Greece, Russia, Romania.
The Christian community in the Holy Land witnessed the True Light of Christ by receiving the Holy Fire today so that all who are not living in the land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection can believe that Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). 
It is so difficult this year to wish everyone a blessed and glorious holy Pascha knowing in Syria the new rules from fanatics is that it is forbidden to wear or display the cross in public.  It is forbidden to ring the church bells in public.  Also, Christians are asked to pay a tax or convert to Islam; how sad that the new Middle East that America wishes to develop has really gone back one thousand years in history.  May our Risen Lord who has had victory over death have mercy on those suffering in different places of the world! May the peace of Christ and the knowledge that our Lord offers everlasting life continue to bring us joy and give us hope.  Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen! Please accept my humble wishes for a glorious Holy Pascha from the Land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection!
For my first time witness on the Miracle of the Holy Fire view:
http://www.saintgeorgetaybeh.org/maria_khourys_page/maria_khourys_archive/mk_article_0005.html

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pascha 2014 Pastoral Letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan


How to resurrect with Christ
"If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1)
Beloved in Christ
Hierarchs, clergy and faithful,
Of this God-protected Archdiocese
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
Christ defeated death! We are no longer subject to it; rather we are Christ's, who gave us "the right to be God's children" (John 1:12) and to be His "friends" (John 15:15)! What great news! What a great gift! What a great reality! An eternal bond is granted to whoever believes in Christ as Savior from death - divine adoption in Christ's name!
From now on, the Lord commissioned us to be victorious not only over death "from outside," but also over death "from within," that is, over our own selfishness. He also commanded us to be messengers of the Good News and heralds of His victory - and ours, too - over any kind of death. He asked us, as Christians, to abide by love rather than by hate, by hope rather than by despair, by faith rather than by logic, by justice rather than by injustice, by forgiveness rather than by resentment, by humility rather than by vanity and arrogance, and by sacrifice rather than by self-interest.
Christ defeated death in our lives! He set us free from fear: from fearing death, from fearing evil, from fearing illness and calamities, from fearing each other, from fearing the uncertainty of the future, from fearing insecurity and unemployment, from fearing violence and terrorism, and from fearing persecution and sufferings for His sake. Instead, He gave us the power and the means to seek the true freedom. The freedom to love each other even though we differ in character, education and profession. The freedom to forgive each other even though we have suffered. The freedom to ask forgiveness from each other even though we have badly hurt each other. The freedom to serve each other even though we differ in origin, background and culture. The freedom to work together even though we differ in thinking, worldview, ability and capacity. The freedom to abide by the truth and raise our children to seek Him. The freedom to defend the unjust and the needy and restore them their rights. The freedom to be at the Lord's hand, obedient, prayerful and faithful.
Christ defeated death in our reality! He gave us the gift to start anew, to renew our heart, to purify our mind, and to reaffirm our commitment of faith at His service. He restored in us the dignity of our person, the beauty of our nature, and the bounty in our personality.
Christ defeated death in our relationships! Christ is the only mediator between God and man. However, He made us "bridges" of salvation to reach others. As Antiochian Orthodox Christians in North America, we are bequeathed an apostolic "lineage:" tradition, inheritance and mission. In this regard, the image of the "bridge" summarizes the Antiochian witness that emerges out of the past, prompts the present and prepares the future of the Antiochian Orthodox Church on the eve of the election of a new Metropolitan to succeed to His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip of eternal memory.
Christ´s victory over death is a responsibility when it is handed over to us. "I am the Way," (John 14:6) the Lord said. "We are the bridge," we would respond to Him. Indeed, the Lord means for us to be His co-workers in this most unprecedented cooperation between heaven and earth. Antiochian Orthodox, among others, are leading the work of building a bridge between East and West, between our Patriarchate and the Archdiocese, among their brothers and sisters of other Orthodox Churches in North America, among their brethren whom they invited to share this apostolic faith, toward those are in need. If Christ is the "bridge" from heaven to earth and from earth to the netherworld, saving in this way the entire creation, then you understand that being a "bridge" means to follow Christ in His openness to humanity, in bringing humanity to unity, in serving your brethren to the extent of your ability and capacity.
I am glad for your witness – a bridge that unites both ends and that is open for people to come across in both directions, and for Christ to work the salvation of each one. I am sure that, as we are celebrating our Lord's resurrection from the dead, you will treasure this divine gift of being a bridge. Indeed, I am certain that you will not spare any means to serve the Divine Providence toward humanity.
May our Lord guide all of us by His eternal light shown forth from the empty tomb!
+ Silouan
Metropolitan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina & Patriarchal Vicar of New York and all North America
 http://www.antiochian.org/pascha-2014-pastoral-letter-his-eminence-metropolitan-silouan