Sunday, August 20, 2017

Does this honor the priesthood or trivialize it?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The blessing of honey at Jordanville

(Jordanville) - In the Greek Chasoslov (Orologion) of 1897 is explained thus the derivation of this feast: "By reason of the sicknesses, often everywhere occurring in August, from of old customarily it was done at Constantinople to carry out the Venerable Wood of the Cross along the roads and streets for the sanctifying of places and for the driving away of sicknesses. On the eve (31 July), carrying it out from the imperial treasury, they placed it upon the holy table of the Great Church (in honour of Saint Sophia – the Wisdom of God). From this feastday up to the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, making litia throughout all the city, they then placed it forth for all the people to venerate. This also is the Issuing-forth of the Venerable Cross".

In the Russian Church this feast is combined also with a remembrance of the Baptism of Rus', on 1 August 988. In the "Account about the making of services in the holy catholic and apostolic great church of the Uspenie-Dormition", compiled in 1627 by order of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' Philaret, there is provided suchlike an explanation of the feast: "And on the day of the procession of the Venerable Cross there occurs a church-procession for the sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all the towns and places".

Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus' was preserved in the Chronicles of the XVI Century: "The Baptism of Great-prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus' was on August 1".

In the practice now of the Russian Church, the service of the Lesser Sanctification of Water on 1 August is done either before or after Liturgy. Together with the Blessing of Waters, there is made a Blessing of Honey (i.e. first-honey for the Saviour: "Saviour of the Water", "Saviour Moisture" [apparently in place of the vinegar and gall offered Him on the Cross?]). And from this day the newly harvested honey is blessed and tasted.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Help seminarians at the Seminary of St. Andrew the Apostle!

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Liturgy in Belgrade... 日本語で。

( - With the blessing of Serbian Patriarch Irinej and Metropolitan Daniel of Tokyo and All Japan, Bishop Antonije of Moravica, Vicar Bishop of the Serbian Patriarch, celebrated the Holy Hierachal Liturgy with the concelebration of a guest from the Japanese Orthodox Church, priest Gregory Mizuno from Yokohama, in the Cathedral church in Belgrade on Sunday, 6 August 207, on the feast of the Holy Martyrs of Prebilovci and Lower Herzegovina.

Father Gregory pronounced prayers and exclamations in Japanese, which was, actually, the first time in history that in the Belgrade's Cathedral church the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy was served in this language as well.

Some clergymen of the Cathedral concelebrated. This is Fr. Gregory's third visit to Serbia. He came with his wife Elizabeth, and expressed a wish to concelebrate, for the first time, in Belgrade.

After the Liturgy, a solemn lunch was prepared for Bishop Antonije, Fr. Gregory and Cathedral clergy. Priest Gregory Mizuno stayed in Serbia from August 4-7 and during that period of time he visited Topola town in Sumadia and the Oplenac royal museum church with its world know mosaics.

The Japanese Orthodox Church has been autonomous since 1970 and belongs to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow. It counts 40.000 Orthodox believers, more than 30 parish priests and 150 parishes. Father Gregory serves at the church of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God in Yokohama.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Contentious movie on Tsar Nicholas II gets Russian release

(ABC News) - A historical film about the last Russian czar's affair with a ballerina has been cleared for release, the Culture Ministry said Thursday, a decision that follows months of disputes and angry calls for its ban.

"Matilda," which describes Nicholas II's relationship with Matilda Kshesinskaya, has drawn virulent criticism from some Orthodox believers and hard-line nationalists, who see it as blasphemy against the emperor, glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The controversy around the film, unparalleled in Russia's post-Soviet history, has reflected the church's rising influence and the increasing assertiveness of radical religious activists.

Russian lawmaker Natalya Poklonskaya, who previously had served as the chief regional prosecutor in Crimea following its 2014 annexation by Moscow, spearheaded the campaign for banning the film.

A devout Orthodox believer, Poklonskaya even asked the Prosecutor General's office to carry out an inquiry into "Matilda," which is set to be released on the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

The lavish production, filmed in historic imperial palaces and featuring sumptuous costumes, loosely follows the story of Nicholas II's infatuation with Kshesinskaya that began when he was heir-apparent and ended at his marriage in 1894.

The czar and his family were executed by a Bolshevik firing squad in July 1918. The Russian Orthodox Church made them saints in 2000.

Director Alexei Uchitel has rejected the accusations and prominent Russian filmmakers have come to his defense. The film's critics and its defenders both have appealed to the Kremlin, but it has refrained from publicly entering the fray.

On Thursday, the Russian Culture Ministry finally announced that the film has received official clearance for viewers over 16.

Vyasheslav Telnov, the head of the ministry's film department, said it checked "Matilda" and found it in full compliance with legal norms.

"No state organ or non-government organization can ban production or release of a feature film for political or ideological motives," Telnov said.

"Matilda" opponents have gathered signatures against the film, and earlier this month several hundred people gathered to pray outside a Moscow church for the movie to be banned.

Russia's growing conservative streak has worried many in the country's artistic community. A Moscow art gallery recently shut down an exhibition of nude photos by an American photographer after a raid by vigilantes, and a theater in the Siberian city of Omsk canceled a performance of the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" following a petition by devout Orthodox believers.

Matilda's critics were recently joined by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed regional leader of Chechnya, and authorities in the neighboring province of Dagestan, who argued that "Matilda" should be barred from theaters in the mostly Muslim regions in Russia's North Caucasus.

Kadyrov, who has encouraged strict observance of Islamic rules in Chechnya, criticized the ministry's decision and denounced the movie as "immoral" on Instagram. He added that people in Chechnya wouldn't "waste time" on watching the movie, a statement that sounds like an order in the region tightly controlled by Kadyrov's feared security forces.

In Ingushetia, another predominantly Muslim province next to Chechnya, the head of the only theater in the region said he won't show "Matilda."

Asked to comment on statements from North Caucasus regions, Telnov said that the film has been cleared for release nationwide, but the law allows regional authorities to make their own decisions.

Hard-line lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who comes from St. Petersburg, urged the city authorities to bar Matilda from theaters. In remarks carried by RIA Novosti news agency, Milonov described the film as "an attempt to sow devilish seeds of revolutionary fermentation, an attempt to revive Bolshevik lies about the last Russian emperor."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The floral orletz

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Procession of the Precious Cross & the blessing of new honey

(OCA) - The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: In the Greek Horologion of 1897 the derivation of this Feast is explained: “Because of the illnesses that occur in August, it was customary, in former times, to carry the Venerable Wood of the Cross through the streets and squares of Constantinople for the sanctification of the city, and for relief from sickness. On the eve (July 31), it was taken out of the imperial treasury, and laid upon the altar of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia (the Wisdom of God). From this Feast until the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, they carried the Cross throughout the city in procession, offering it to the people to venerate. This also is the Procession of the Venerable Cross.”

In the Russian Church this Feast is combined also with the remembrance of the Baptism of Rus, on August 1, 988. In the “Account of the Order of Services in the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Great Church of the Dormition,” compiled in 1627 by order of Patriarch Philaret of Moscow and All Rus, there is the following explanation of the Feast: “On the day of the Procession of the Venerable Cross there is a church procession for the sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all the towns and places.”

Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus was preserved in the Chronicles of the sixteenth century: “The Baptism of the Great Prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus was on August 1.”

In the present practice of the Russian Church, the Lesser Sanctification of Water on August 1 is done either before or after Liturgy. Because of the Blessing of Water, this first Feast of the Savior in August is sometimes called ‘Savior of the Water.” There may also be a Blessing of New Honey today, which is why the Feast is also called “Savior of the Honey.” From this day the newly gathered honey is blessed and tasted.

The Seminary of St. Andrew the Apostle in Guatemala

Today we began a new seminary program in Aguacate, Guatemala. It is a two-year series of courses for people in Guatemala who hope to serve as deacons, priests, or in other capacities in the Church. It is being taught both by missionaries on-site in Guatemala and via Skype by Spanish-speakers in the USA. Currently we have 5 students in the program--young men who live in Aguacate and are exploring the possibility of ordained ministry. Please pray for all of us in the Seminary of St. Andrew!

The "bivocational" priesthood

From the blog Ortho Cuban, a post entitled "The (challenge of) the care of bivocational ministers."

Bivocational ministry is on the increase. There are many people who see this as a positive thing. And, many of those people are not pastors. Bivocational ministry raises many challenges to those who are involved in it. On the one hand, it sounds great. What is not to love about bivocational ministry, particularly if you are a small church that is trying to maintain itself, or a mission that is trying to grow? There are various books written about bivocational ministry, such as the one above. However, equally, there are articles written that warn about the perils of bivocational ministry. Frankly, the church is not sure what to do about bivocational ministry. On the one hand, it points to the example of Saint Paul, who worked as a tentmaker. On the other hand, most jurisdictional and denominational structures are set up to support the full-time minister and have little to say or little with which to support the bivocational minister.

So, what are some of the challenges with the bivocational minister? Well, there is something called margin. At least one author speaks of margin as being the space between living comfortably with yourself and reaching a burnout of epic proportions. This can occur in various areas of one’s life. However, for the bivocational minister, time is one of the largest areas in which margin is lost. Most bivocational ministers work the standard 40-50 hours a week, plus are expected to put in an additional 10-20 hours a week into the ministry. They are left with no time margin should anything come up which requires extra time from them. But, more than this loss of time margin is happening.

A modern minister is expected to be well-trained. Almost every congregation, regardless of its size, expects that its minister will have that appropriate Master’s degree from seminary. The modern pastor is expected to not only know theology, but some psychology, and some significant theory of group dynamics and church management. But, I have never heard of any church that felt any responsibility to help that minister out in repaying any loans that they may have outstanding. Nor, do I hear that from any jurisdictional or denominational structure. This, perhaps, would not be unexpected, after all physicians, lawyers, and other professionals are expected to pay for their own degree. However, when that is coupled with what is a regular desire by congregations to low-ball any reimbursement toward a minister, then this leads to a situation in which a congregation expects a highly trained bivocational ministry for the price of a fast-food worker. That the bivocational minister may be struggling with how to pay off their loan while working full-time along with a pittance from the church is not their problem.

ROCOR's new monastery devoted to Dionysios the Areopagite

With the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, Archimandrite Maximos (Weimar), abbot of the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, presently located in East Setauket, NY, announced that the Brotherhood will be leaving its current location to establish the Brotherhood of the Holy Hieromartyr Dionysios the Areopagite.

Until 2010, the monastery was under the omophorion of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, and is now under the canonical authority of Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. Recently, the Brotherhood faced a difficult decision; by choosing to remain within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, a change of residence is now necessary.

The present Brotherhood consists of ten monks and is led by Fr. Maximos.In addition, there is a thriving Orthodox Christian lay community, including many Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Romanians, and American converts, which has grown up around the monastery, and services are well-attended. Services are mainly in English, with exclamations in Church Slavonic, Greek, and Romanian.

With the changes awaiting the monastery, Fr. Maximos spoke to the Diocesan Media Office about the current situation at the monastery, and answered our questions.

–Father, would you kindly tell us about the monastery where you have spent more than ten years of your life?

– The monastery in Long Island began in the 1970s in the Bulgarian Church. It was originally St. John of Rila Monastery. The church was built in the late 1800s as a Catholic church in the village. Then, sometime in the middle of 1970s, it was acquired by an Orthodox priest and turned into monastery.

In the 1990s the priest, Fr. Paul Ischi, sold the monastery to the Jerusalem Patriarchate. For about ten years they held no services, and it was kept shut. In the 2000s, Jerusalem sent a bishop here, Archbishop Damascinos, who renamed it Holy Cross Monastery, and in 2003 he appointed me to be its abbot.

We started with just one other monk and me, and over the period of several years we built the place up to about ten monks.

The brotherhood we have now is a mix of people who started in this monastery, who have come from the Glorious Ascension Monastery in Resaca, GA, from Mercy House in New York City, and other monasteries.

I myself started as a novice in the monastery in Resaca in 1995, and was there from 1995 to 2004.

A good percentage of my monks are clergy – hieromonks and hierodeacons. They have a lot of pastoral duties. Hieromonk Silouan (Justiniano) is also a very good iconographer. He is a priest, and he divides his time between doing most of the daily services, serving our community, the lay people, and painting icons.

One of our brothers, Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis), serves for the English community in St. Sergius Chapel at the Synodal Headquarters in New York City, and in the monastery he serves, sings, and cooks.

We produce handmade beeswax candles to sell around the area. Two of the monks are dealing primarily with that: shipping, etc. We have one of the monks deal with book publishing – Fr. Sergio (Justiniano), Fr. Silouan’s brother.

We serve Liturgy on Saturday and Sunday, and we have about three Liturgies per week, in addition to other services.

In 2010, the Brotherhood returned to the jurisdiction of ROCOR, but the status of the monastery buildings was not clear. We just continued to operate under the omophorion of the Russian Church Abroad. About two years ago, the Jerusalem Church informed us that, if we wanted to stay on the property, we would have to return under the Jerusalem Patriarchate. But the brethren wanted to stay with ROCOR. We told them that, and now they want the property for their own purposes.

We have been looking for a new home for the monastery, relatively close for the place where we are now, for about a year. We wanted to stay in Long Island to serve our people, because we have a good community there.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Wait. Only one of these actually clicks.

Bp. John of Naro-Fominsk - Internet activity: For & Against

(ROC-USA) - On Tuesday, July 25, the weekly meeting of Orthodox Youth was held in the refectory of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City. The speaker for the evening’s meeting was the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, His Grace John, Bishop of Naro-Fominsk. His Grace proposed speaking with the youth about his thoughts on the role of the internet in the life of an Orthodox Christian.

To begin, Bishop John briefly shared some of his own observations. He believes that active participation in internet discussions (when time spent on social media prevails over live communication), the notion of the “here and now” – something extremely important for a Christian – is threatened.

Bishop John drew the attention of the young people [to the fact] that the life of the Church was founded on the basis of the parish community. People would gather together to pray, commune from one common Chalice, and then interact with one another during fellowship. It would seem that a more individualized model of communication, where one could meet with a so-called “priest-psychoanalyst,” would be more effective. One would be able to make an appointment and be able to resolve spiritual and moral problems one-on-one. Why, then, would it be necessary to gather and pray together?

Vladyka reminded [his audience] that the first Christian churches (much like the modern parish) were established on the basis that the Church is a hospital where all can come to recover. Thus, those who came to the Church were all united in their desire to be healed. We are not saints, but rather a group of penitent sinners. This is why when we come to a hospital and our leg hurts, we do not desire to point with our fingers at someone who is deaf or blind sitting near us with a more serious illness than ourselves. This is something that doesn’t concern us.

“I was recently at a meeting for Alcoholics Anonymous and witnessed the many takeaways from the Church,” said Vladyka John. “A person comes and exclaims that ‘I am an alcoholic.’ He is not proud of this, but upon recognizing his own weaknesses, he begins the path to recovery. Moreover, those who participate in these meetings do not identify themselves as healed until the end, once they understand the need for God’s help, as well as the daily struggle to better oneself.”

At the same time, internet communication offers “too broad of a forum.” Someone on the internet can feel the desire to “save the world,” while at the same losing sight of his own illness and the needs of his mother, friend, neighbor, the homeless – who are all near at hand. There are times where we read about problems or conflicts in churches on the other end of the Earth and get so consumed by the ensuing internet discussion that we do not notice those suffering next to us.

Ideally, there should be live interaction in the parish. Members of the parish community are called to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2). It may very well be that a person may be uncomfortable sharing his problems with others. However, this depends on the rector and the atmosphere he creates within the parish. And so, if a person feels disconnected in their own parish, this is well within their right, but it also means that something in the system is not working.

A blessing of crosses


Upcoming Orthodox young adults conference in the ATL

(OCA) - Young adults from across North America will gather this coming October 6-8, here for a new conference being organized by Orthodox churches in the Atlanta area.

The CONNECT Conference is a new event for Orthodox Christian young adults (ages 20 – 39). According to Callie Corley, one of the organizers, “This conference offers an opportunity for young adults to retreat, recharge, and reconnect with Christ, the Church, and other Orthodox Christians.”

Speakers at the conference include His Grace, Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A., along with clergy and Orthodox laity who will speak on the theme of “Finding Christ in Every Day Life.”

“Many young Orthodox Christians lose their connection to the Church after high school,” Callie noted. “This pan-Orthodox initiative is intended to help young adults stay connected to their Faith and maintain their devotion to Christ.”

Registration is now open and questions may be direct to Callie Corley at