The Diocese of the South, Orthodox Church in America
Operating as usual
Beloved in Christ, we see all of this as well. The Church does not look away from pain, suffering, and death — not our own, not that of our neighbor. But while those around us may see suffering and death as evidence of meaninglessness and chaos, we acknowledge this pain as an inescapable element of our broken world. The brokenness of the natural world, of our minds and hearts, of our relationships, and of our societies — all of this stems from the rebellion of human beings against God. Our attempts to live without Him have separated us and our world from the loving wholeness of life in the Holy Trinity.
It is precisely when we attempt to live without God, when we either forget Him or deliberately reject Him, that the world and its brokenness overwhelm us. Without God, we have everything to fear. We fear every possible loss, because we have no power to restore that which we lose. We fear pain, because we have no power to escape it, and we know it leads to our death. We fear not only imminent threats, but also those that we imagine, because we become unable to distinguish the difference between the two. God warns Israel of the consequences of rebellion, that for them, “the sound of a shaking leaf shall chase them. Then they shall flee as though fleeing from a battle, and shall fall when no one pursues” (Lev 26:36). Fear confuses and bewilders us, and it also further divides and isolates us: “Brother shall disregard brother as in warfare, though no one is in pursuit” (Lev 26:37). We turn on each other, in fact, as the Midianite army destroyed itself at the shouting of the men with Gideon (Judg 7:22).
Brothers and sisters, such fear has manifested itself even amongst the faithful. Can any of us claim to have surrendered all our fears to God? In the midst of our fears concerning the pandemic, in particular, we have at times succumbed to divisive criticism and polemic, to doubts and inner panic leading to anxiety, despondency, and despair. The temptation of fear has been all the greater because we have witnessed changes to our liturgical life that none of us before imagined possible. In our fear, we may have asked ourselves and one another whether the Church itself has succumbed to the pandemic, whether its leaders have capitulated to the demands of the world, whether we have become paralyzed or lost our way.
oca.org To the Venerable Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, cherished members of the Body of Christ, called to be saints in…
oca.org Archpriest Ernesto Rios 79, fell asleep in the Lord on December 15, 2020 after contracting COVID-19. He was born in San Juan Puerto Rico on January…
It takes a lot to become a priest—dedication, sacrifice, humility, perseverance, and more. But it also takes YOU. Without you, educating and training servants for the Orthodox Church simply isn’t possible.
This Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020, will you help cover the cost to educate just TWO seminarians each year, $125,000? Click HERE to donate.
Why does it cost so much to educate one seminarian?
Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) is not funded by any church institution or by the government, so we rely on the generosity of donors each year to raise funds to operate the Seminary and train seminarians. It takes approximately $62,775 to train one seminarian each year—and SVOTS pays around 82% of that cost itself to make outstanding seminary education and formation available to all who are called to serve Christ and his Church. That’s where you come in! Seminarians and their families have left careers, homes, and more to follow Christ to Seminary, even in these uncertain and trying times. Will you ensure their education is paid for?
And, when you give to St. Vladimir's, you give twice! This year, the Seminary will tithe 10% of the funds raised on Giving Tuesday to Reconciliation Services in Kansas City, MO, led by St. Vladimir’s Alumnus Fr. Justin Mathews (Class of ’07).
How to Donate?
Support St. Vladimir’s with a gift of any size!
Give online anytime between 12 a.m and 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1, 2020
Give over the phone – we’ll be here at 914-961-8313 x317 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST (send an email to [email protected] after 10 p.m. EST)
Mail us your check dated December 1, 2020, to 575 Scarsdale Rd, Yonkers, NY, 10707 (it would help us if you write “#GivingTuesday” on the memo!)
How Can You Minister with Us?
Of course, you may donate any amount now ... but you may also encourage others to give by sharing why you gave. Follow us on social media for updates on our progress and “like” or share our #GivingTuesday posts.
svots.edu It takes a lot to become a priest—dedication, sacrifice, humility, perseverance, and more. But it also takes YOU. Without you, educating and training servants for the Orthodox Church simply isn’t possible.
Dear Friends who love St Tikhon's,
The Lord bless us all!
Today is Giving Tuesday, a day on which we hope to raise money to the spiritual formation and theological education of our Seminarians. In addition to one-time dollars, we also hope to increase our number of Sustainers--those who make monthly gifts to St Tikhon's through our online giving.
How can you help?
1. Say a prayer right now: Lord watch over us, and grant us all we need for our salvation.
2. Watch, share, like, forward, etc. THIS VIDEO.
3. Encourage those close to you to visit www.stots.edu/donate tonight or tomorrow--to join us in a sustaining way.
Many thanks for all you do for St Tikhon's.
Yours in Christ,
PS Sunday Night: 7-9PM LIVESTREAM for St Nicholas Day.
Fr John Parker
St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary
PO Box 130
South Canaan, PA 18459
stots.edu An institution of professional Orthodox Christian theological education, chartered by the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and affiliated with the Orthodox Church in America
Memory eternal, Vladyka!
oca.org On November 27, 2020, His Eminence, the Most Reverend David (Mahaffey), Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska, fell asleep in the Lord after a grave illness. …
"Both the New Testament and the writings of early Saints seem unconcerned with the power of the persecutors. They understood that God is also the Lord of history, and that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church (Matt 16:18). In spite of the hatred often fulminated against Christians, they continued to love and pray for society and its leaders. They continued to feed the poor, take in orphans, and minister to the sick. This is because they understood two realties. First, they believed that our true enemy is not our fellowman, but the devil and his horde of demons. St Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (6:12). The real conspiracy at play is the evil one’s plot to affect our eternal condemnation.
Second, they believed that humans (unlike demons) are always dynamic characters in the narrative of salvation. Every person can be redeemed, and therefore he or she cannot truly be our enemy. Others may unwittingly serve evil, being duped by Satan, but the power of Christ is ever able to convert them if they would just give Him an in-road. Thus our Lord commands us to love them, even if they act as our adversaries at the present moment.
Once we recognize that the fallen angels are really the ones out to get us, we begin to realize that the real “red pill” we need to swallow is that of waking up to this demonic plot. The New Testament writers all refer to the current epoch as the “last days” (beginning with the Resurrection of Christ and culminating with His coming again). We are not told when our Lord will actually return to judge the living and the dead; but until then, we are instructed to be vigilant and watch: “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:12)."
blogs.ancientfaith.com The origin of the American fixation with conspiracy theories is hard to trace through history. Perhaps the very fact that our nation emerged from a revolution against its motherland has something to do with this proclivity. Some historians point to the role of secret societies like the Freemasons in...
oca.org On Monday morning, October 19, 2020, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), former Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All-America and Canada, fell asleep in the Lord in…
We should strain forward and perceive this mystery further, because it helps us further understand our pilgrimage. And the mystery revealed to us is this: Christ is the Lord of all, he commands the waves and the sea and the winds, but, even more, as Lord of all, he has compassion. He has love. When Peter, in a moment when his faith waivered, called upon the Lord to save him, our Lord saved him out of his compassion, goodness, and love. This revelation, that Christ is the Lord of all and he loves us, allows the disciples and us to perceive more profoundly who Christ is, “truly,” they say, “Thou art the Son of God.”
oca.org On Sunday, August 9, the Feast Day of Saint Herman of Alaska, and the 50th anniversary of his glorification, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Monastery…
Memory eternal! One of Archbishop Alexander's great teachers and mentors, as well as to many clergy of the Orthodox Church in America and beyond.
oca.org Wednesday, July 22, 2020 marks the 28th anniversary of the repose of Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, a leading 20th century Orthodox Christian theologian and Dean of Saint Vladimir’s…
“If her baptism was a strange sight to a visitor, baby Alexa had no qualms. She even quietly accepted three quick scissor clips of her silky hair, known as the tonsure, given up symbolically as first fruits to God. In her family baptismal portrait, Alexa is surrounded by a sea of masks. But her expression radiates peace.”
naplesnews.com Baptisms at St. Demetrius Orthodox Church have adapted to the limitations of coronavirus, limiting the number of attendees and requiring them to wear masks.
oca.org On Sunday, July 12, 2020 the Office of Pastoral Life is holding a conference for the wives of parish priests, and widowers. The two-hour conference will begin at 7:00PM EDT, and will be held…
“We categorically reject racism in any form. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), and was created to exist (Wisdom of Solomon 1:14). We are all, each of us, “one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).” As such, there should be no hatred, no enmity, no hostility between us, but reconciliation.
oca.org The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America today issued the following statement on the recent tragic events in Minneapolis, MN. The full statement follows…
This is a great resource for those who cannot attend Paschal services!
artefactinstitute.com FREE DOWNLOAD - LIMITED TIME Bring the beauty and splendor of the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection into your home, even if you can’t make it to church! Included in this download is a ritual order with prayers, scripture readings, hymns, and carols for celebrating a Paschal Feast. The beautiful Kon...
This momentous event in the life of the church in North America, one that Father Alexander Schemann described as the “starting point in the liberation of the Orthodox ecclesiastical consciousness from political, national and ethnic “reductions”, was very much the natural progression of a Church, established in 1794, that had grown into a spiritually and administratively mature and independent Church, providing a missionary witness, and ministering and preaching the Gospel to immigrants and North Americans alike.
oca.org On this day fifty years ago, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, under the Presidency of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I, granted autocephaly to the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic…
For those who haven't yet celebrated the akathist.
oca.org On the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent, the Saturday of the Akathist, we commemorate the “Laudation of the Virgin” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. The Laudation of the Virgin was…
This is excellent.
"Yet, in this time of pandemic, God who is always providing opportunities for us to more fully experience the life of Christ, who is always guiding His Church, allows us in this Great Lent, Passion Week, and Pascha to participate in a very deep way in the foolish wisdom and salvific power of the Cross. By instructing us through our hierarchs to temporarily and selflessly stay outside the church for the benefit of others, so that not one may perish, He gives us a unique opportunity, an otherwise impossible chance, to sacrifice our normal church life, and the best of it in Great Lent and Pascha. We are challenged to once again go “outside the camp”, to experience even for a short time “isolation” from God Himself, and to do so in obedience, even unto death, the death of our own will.
St. John of the Ladder tells us that “Obedience is the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility.” Now we know well that obedience by definition is only possible when we have to do something that we don’t want to do or when we have to give up something we don’t want to give up; otherwise it is just meeting of the minds. This is why the measure of one’s obedience can be properly gauged only by the extent of one’s desire to resist what is commanded."
oca.org By Father John Parsells True leadership brings people where they need to be but don’t want to go. No Christian worth their salt believes Christ went to His crucifixion subservient to the Jewish leaders and Roman state. Even though the Jewish high priest, Caiaphas, gave voice to the common plot to ...
Assembly of Bishops USA Announces COVID-19 Resource Center for Orthodox Christians
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA announces a resource center for clergy and faithful during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Resource Center includes updated news from the various jurisdictions as well as practical guidelines and resources for families, ministry leaders, parish leadership, and everyone.
assemblyofbishops.org The Website of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America
On Wednesday, March 25, the feast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, at 3:30pm EST we will be hosting our first online all OCA Church School. We have assembled a team of teachers from across the OCA who will lead classes for the following sections: grades 3-5; grades 6-8; grades 9-12. To join us on Wednesday at 3:30pm EST click on this link to be taken to the on-line Zoom classroom. Registration is not necessary. For more information please contact Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak at [email protected]
oca.org We are all experiencing and dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak in our own ways. Some of us were able to attend services in person this weekend. Some of us were not. Many of our clergy have…
oca.org On Monday, March 16, 2020, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon convened a special meeting of the Holy Synod. Following a day of meetings with health-care experts, Metropolitan Tikhon led the…
Please see the Synod's latest statement on the COVID-19 Pandemic linked below.
Here is the further amplification of this from Archbishop Alexander:
COVID-19 Guidance for the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the South
12 March 2020
The Second Week of Great Lent
From the Life of St. Mary of Egypt: On the Sunday which customarily gives its name to the first week of Lent, the divine liturgy was performed as usual, with each monk participating in the undefiled and life-giving sacraments; and then, according to custom, they partook of a small portion of food. Afterwards they all gathered in the chapel and, after long prayers and many genuflections, the monks kissed each other and each one embraced the father superior. Then they made obeisance and asked for his blessing, so that they would have it with them as an experienced fellow combatant in their forthcoming spiritual struggle. After these proceedings, the gate of the monastery was opened and all the monks came out singing in unison, “The Lord is my light and my Savior, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?,”33 and the rest of the psalm. Often they left one or two monks behind to guard the monastery, not to guard what was stored inside (for there was nothing that could be taken away easily by thieves), but so that the chapel might not be left without ministry.
Beloved, along with diocesan administration, I have been closely monitoring the developing status of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past 48 hours it has become clear that if we do not slow the rate of infection through social distancing (i.e., self-imposed isolation) our healthcare system is likely to be overwhelmed by the number of cases. As we can see from the situation in Italy, this will result in a significantly greater number of deaths, due to lack of treatment, or rather the inability to effectively treat so great a number of those infected. Further, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests COVID-19 is an airborne contagion that cannot be contained simply by the reasonable hygienic measures with which we are all familiar (handwashing, disinfecting of surfaces, and the like).
In light of this, I am asking all parishes and missions in the Diocese of the South, in addition to the directives from the Statement of the Holy Synod, to respond in the following manner:
• All parish and mission events and activities, including coffee fellowship, church school, and the rest, and all services other than the Sunday Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the Vesperal Liturgy of the Great Feast of Annunciation, and the Presanctified Liturgies, are cancelled through March 29, beginning from today. At which point we will adjust this as the situation warrants.
• Everyone in the parish or mission, other than the priest (and deacon), a reader, a server, and no more than two (2) chanters or singers (all of whom are physically strong and at low risk for COVID-19), should remain at home, even at the time of the Divine Liturgy. The holy body and precious blood of our Lord can never be a source of disease, it is after all for the healing of soul and body, but the COVID-19 virus can still be passed through the congregation. Out of love for our neighbor, we must do everything we can to protect the vulnerable by slowing the rate of infection not only in our parishes, but in the greater community, and thereby allowing the hospitals and medical community to more adequately care for those most at risk. All who are “at risk” – the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, any who are actively sick or exhibiting signs of illness – should absolutely absent themselves from the services.
• Priests are instructed to commemorate all of the faithful on the diskos at the proskomedia (as I presume is your practice, regardless).
• If possible, the service should be webcast on the internet so that the faithful may participate in the prayers, which are themselves a source of grace and consolation. Every effort should be made to provide the faithful with the service texts.
• The clergy are to either:
1. Include the OCA’s petition or prayer in your services, or add into the Great and Augmented Litanies the special petitions from the Molieben in Times of Pestilence (GB of N, vol. IV, pg. 93-94, and111-112 respectively). In our prayers we should especially remember health-care workers. They are going the bear a heavy burden during this time of trial.
2. Offer the Molieben entirely following the Divine Liturgy.
• Clergy are reminded that they have the primary responsibility of visiting the sick, but should take care not to expose the faithful and others to the virus.
This is not the season of Great Lent we anticipated, but it is nonetheless a fitting Lenten effort: focus on the greater good of our neighbors, recognizing that this initial response to this pandemic will work for the greater good of our faithful and our neighbors. Use this time of “social distancing” for prayer and to keep vigil “in one’s cell.”
Please continue to work through your dean and diocesan leadership to address any particular concerns not covered here, and I will let you know of further directives.
Wishing you strength for the weeks ahead, and assuring you of my prayers,
Bishop of Dallas and the South
oca.org Following from their Wednesday, March 11, 2020, extraordinary meeting, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America have…
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Grow in faith and service with historic St. Paul United Methodist Church, The Soul of the Arts District. Rev. Dr. Lucretia Facen, Senior Pastor.
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