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…
Guiding the Church During the Pandemic: A Conversation with Metropolitan Tikhon: 1:00 PM Central, 2:00 PM Eastern. Join Fr. Tom Soroka with Metropolitan Tikhon
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…
17.03.20 Father Zacharias’s Word of Consolation for the Pandemic
Many people are in confusion and others panic because of the threat of the Coronavirus epidemic that spread in the whole world. I think, however, that this should not happen, for whatever God does with us, He does it out of love. The God of Christians is a good God, a God of mercy and lovingkindness, ‘Who loveth mankind’. God created us out of His goodness in order to share His life and even His glory with us. When we fell into sin, He allowed death to enter our life again out of goodness, so that we may not become immortal in our wickedness, but to seek for a way of salvation. Although we have fallen, God has never stopped to provide for us, not only material goods in order to sustain our race, but He also sent prophets and righteous, preparing His way so that He might come and solve our tragedy, and bring eternal salvation through the Cross and Resurrection of His inconceivable love. He came and took upon Himself the curse of sin, and He showed His love to the end: ‘Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end’ (John 13:1). All the things that God did when He created us, when He provided goods in order to sustain the world, when He prepared His way for Him to come on earth, when He came Himself in person and wrought our salvation in such an awesome way, all these things He did out of goodness. His goodness is boundless. He saves us and is so longsuffering towards us, waiting until we ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4) and bring true repentance, so that we may be with Him for all eternity. Thus, at every stage of His relationship with man, our God shows only His goodness and mercy, ‘which is better than life’ (Ps. 63:3); goodness is His Nature and He does all things for the benefit and salvation of man.
Consequently, when He shall come again to judge the world, will a different God judge it? Will it not be the same good God, the God of mercy and lovingkindness, Who loves mankind? Let us be certain that we shall not appear before any other God than Him Who created us and saved us. And so, it is again with the same mercy and love that He will judge us. For this reason, we should neither panic nor waver, for it will be the same God that will receive us in the other life and will judge us with the same kindness and compassion. Some fear that the hour of their end has come. This plague of Coronavirus has also a positive aspect, because we have a few weeks from the moment it will assail us until our end. Therefore, we can dedicate this time to prepare ourselves for our meeting with God, so that our departure may not occur unexpectedly and without preparation, but after we have run through our whole life each time we stand in prayer before God, at times with thanksgiving unto the end for all the things God has done for us and at other times with repentance, seeking the forgiveness of our transgressions. Nothing can harm us with such a God, Who allows all things out of His goodness. We must simply keep thanksgiving unto the end and the humble prayer of repentance for the forgiveness of our sins.
As for myself, this plague is helping me. I longed to find again the prayer I had before, with which I can run through my whole life from my birth until now, thanking God for all His benefits ‘whereof I know and whereof I know not’; and also, with which I can run through my whole life repenting for all my sins and transgressions. It is wonderful to be able to run through your life praying, bringing all things before God with persistence in prayer. Then you feel that your life is redeemed. This is why this situation is truly helping me. I am not panicking but ‘I will be sorry for my sin’ (Ps. 38:18).
We must see the goodness of God in all the things that are happening now. The Holy Fathers did see His lovingkindness. A similar epidemic occurred in the 4th century in the Egyptian desert, which harvested more than a third of the monks, and the Fathers were saying with great inspiration that, ‘God is harvesting souls of saints for His Kingdom,’ and they did not waver. The Lord Himself speaks in the Gospel about the last days, about the trials and afflictions which the world will go through before His Second Coming. However, we discern neither morbid sadness nor despair in His words. The Lord Who prayed in the garden of Gethsemane with a sweat of blood for the salvation of the whole world, says that when we see the terrible things that precede His Second Coming, we should lift up our heads with inspiration, for our redemption draws nigh (cf. Luke 21:28). Some tell me, ‘May God extend His helping hand.’ But this is precisely the hand of God. He desires and works our salvation ‘at sundry times and in divers manners’ (Heb. 1:1): ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work’ (John 5:17). This virus may be a means that God uses in order to bring many to themselves and to repentance, and to harvest many ready souls for His eternal Kingdom. Therefore, for those who surrender and entrust themselves to the Providence of God all will contribute for their good: ‘All things work together for good to them that love God’ (Rom. 8:28).
Thus, there is no room for morbid dismay. Neither should we resist the measures that the government is taking in order to diminish the spreading of the afflictions we see in the lives of so many people. It is wrong to go against the authorities. We should do whatever the Government says, because they are not asking for us to deny our faith, they are only asking us to take a few measures for the common wellfare of all people, so that this trial may pass, and this is not at all unreasonable. Some people take it too confessionally, they raise flags and play the martyrs and the confessors. For us there is no doubt: we shall show pure submission to the orders of the Government. It is unfair to disobey the Government since, when we fall ill, it is to their hospitals that we run and they are the ones who undertake all the expenses and our care. Why not listen to
This is the ethos of Christ that God showed in His life on earth and this is the apostolic commandment that we have received: ‘...be subject to principalities and powers, obey magistrates, be ready to every good work, speak evil of no man, be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men’ (cf. Tit. 3: 1-2); and ‘Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme...’ (see 1 Pet. 2:13-17). If we do not obey our governors who are not asking much, how will we obey God, Who gives us a divine law, which is far more sublime than any human law? If we keep the law of God we are above human laws, as the apologists of the 2nd century said during the Roman Empire which was persecuting the Christians. It is surprising to see in the country where we live, in the United Kingdom, that the footballers show such understanding and discernment so as to be the first to withdraw from their activities with docility towards the indications of the Government to take prophylactic measures. It would be sad for us, people of faith, to fail reaching the measure of the footballers and showing the same docility towards the authorities for which our Church prays.
If they ask us to stop our Church services, let us simply surrender and bless the Providence of God. Besides, this reminds us of an old tradition that the Fathers had in Palestine: in Great Lent, on the Sunday of Cheese fare, after the mutual forgiveness, they would go out in the desert for forty days without Liturgy; they would only continue in fasting and prayer so as to prepare and return on Palm Sunday to celebrate in a godly way the Passion and the Resurrection of the Lord. And so, our present circumstances force us to live again that which existed of old in the bosom of the Church. That is to say, they force us to live a more hesychastic life, with more prayer, which will however make up for the lack of the Divine Liturgy and will prepare us to celebrate with greater desire and inspiration the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Thus, we will turn this plague into a triumph of hesychasm. In any case, whatever God allows in our life is out of His goodness for the well-being of man, for He never wants His creature to be harmed in any way.
Certainly, if we will be deprived of the Divine Liturgy for a longer period of time, we can endure it. What do we receive in the Liturgy? We partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, which are filled with His grace. This is a great honour and benefit for us, but we also receive the grace of God in many other ways. When we practice hesychastic prayer, we abide in the Presence of God with the mind in the heart calling upon the holy Name of Christ. The Divine Name brings us the grace of Christ because it is inseparable from His Person and leads us into His Presence. This Presence of Christ which is purifying, cleanses us from our transgressions and sins, it renews and illumines our heart so that the image of God our Saviour, Christ, may be formed therein.
If we shall not have Easter in the Church, let us remember that every contact with Christ is Easter. We receive grace in the Divine Liturgy because the Lord Jesus is present in it, He performs the sacrament and He is the One imparted to the faithful. However, when we invoke His Name, we enter the same Presence of Christ and receive the same grace. Therefore, if we are deprived of the Liturgy, we always have His Name, we are not deprived of the Lord. Moreover, we also have His word, especially His Gospel. If His word dwells continually in our heart, if we study it and pray it, if it becomes our language with which we speak to God as He spoke to us, then we shall have again the grace of the Lord. For His words are words of eternal life (John 6:68), and the same mystery is performed, we receive His grace and are sanctified.
Furthermore, each time we show kindness to our brethren the Lord is well-pleased, He considers that we did it in His Name and He rewards us. We show kindness to our brethren and the Lord rewards us with His grace. This is another way in which we can live in the Presence of the Lord. We can have the grace of the Lord through fasting, alms giving and every good deed. So, if we are forced to avoid gathering in Church, we can also be united in spirit in these holy virtues which are known within the Body of Christ, the holy Church, and which preserve the unity of the faithful with Christ and with the other members of His Body. All the things we do for God is a Liturgy, for they minister unto our salvation. The Liturgy is the great event of the life of the Church, wherein the faithful have the possibility to exchange their little life with the boundless life of God. However, the power of this event depends on the preparation we perform before, through all the things we have mentioned, through prayer, good deeds, fasting, love for neighbour, repentance.
Therefore, my dear brethren, it is not necessary to make heroic confessions against the Government for the prophylactic measures that it takes for the good of all people. Neither should we despair, but only wisely machinate ways so as not to lose our living communication with the Person of Christ. Nothing can harm us, we must simply be patient for a certain period of time and God will see our patience, take away every obstacle, every temptation and we shall again see the dawn of joyful days, and we shall celebrate our common hope and love that we have in Christ Jesus.
From St. Tikhon's Monastery. Pictured Abbot Sergius, Metropolitan Tikhon, and Archimandrite Zacharias
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