July 24, 2014

What a beautiful Church!

Tbilisi Cathedral

A friend sent a photo of the Holy Trinity Cathedral recently built in the Republic of Georgia. It is beautiful. I had no idea it even existed. Flickr has some great shots. … [Read more...]

Patriarchal flag to fly over GOA churches?

Byzantine Flag

Word on the street is that Met. Methodios of Boston (GOA) told his priests yesterday that each parish must start flying the patriarchal flag. The Archons are donating the flag pole. … [Read more...]

Some random Holy Week thoughts

Extreme Humility

Lent is usually a struggle, Holy Week, while laborious, is the reward. For many priests, the final Anastasi (resurrection service) is not Saturday night, but the Agape Service on Sunday, maybe because you can finally relax. The gift of Holy Week however, is the text -- the stichoi or verses that recount with penetrating clarity the causes and consequences of the crucifixion of Christ. I study them as the services progress and I always receive insights to develop throughout the year. Here are some from this week. Envy is often the root of murder. The nature of betrayal is such that a betrayer cuts himself off from his own humanity. Judas' suicide has a strong nihilistic dimension (to cast it in modern terms). He could not find repentance. From the other direction, the antidote to nihilism is love. God is love and Judas could have found forgiveness, but betrayal exacts a tremendous penalty; it rents the soul. As, and if, culture becomes increasingly hostile towards … [Read more...]

Christian faith: Calvinism is back

Capital Hill Baptist Church

Calvinism has always struck me as, well, psychologically austere given Calvin's definition of predestination where man, in the end, has no real freedom. Nevertheless, for Protestants raised on the consumer Christianity that has afflicted the Protestant world the last few decades, it's probably a bracing antidote to the search for good feelings reaches almost pathological dimensions. No Starbucks in a Calvinist church lobby I'll bet. ++++++++++ In America's Christian faith, a surprising comeback of rock-ribbed Calvinism is challenging the Jesus-is-your-buddy gospel of modern evangelism. Snow falls resolutely on a Saturday morning in Washington, but the festively lit basement of a church near the US Capitol is packed. Some 200 female members have invited an equal number of women for tea, cookies, conversation – and 16th-century evangelism. What newcomers at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) hear is hardly "Christianity for Dummies." Nor is it "Extreme Makeover: Born-Again … [Read more...]

Attn: New Yorkers. Book party for Wesley J. Smith

Attention New York readers: Wesley J. Smith, author and occassional commentator on the AOI Blog will be in New York on Thursday, March 4 to sign his new book. From First Things: First Things and Encounter Books Invite You To An Evening With Wesley J. Smith To celebrate the publication of A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement Date: Thursday, March 4, 2010 Time: 6:00 PM Location: First Things Editorial Offices 35 East 21st Street, Sixth Floor New York City 10010 Contact: Please RSVP by February 26th to Lauren Miklos lmiklos@encounterbooks.com or call 212.871.5741 Wesley J. Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute, is the author of the prizewinning Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America, as well as Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World and Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and the New Duty to Die. He blogs regularly at Secondhand Smoke, a First Things blog. He … [Read more...]

Relics, icons, and crosses onboard International Space Station

Icon and Cross floating in space station

HT: Byzantine TX Moscow, Russia, Jan 20, 2010 / 12:11 am (CNA) - The Gospels, four icons, crosses and a relic of the True Cross have been taken aboard the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), a Russian cosmonaut has reported. A photo taken by the station crew shows an icon and a crucifix floating in zero gravity in the ISS. Writing on his blog at the website of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Cosmonaut Maksim Suraev responded to readers’ questions about religious symbols on the space station. “We have four holy icons on the Russia segment. We also have the Gospels and a big cross,” he said, according to a blog entry translated by Russia Today in November 2009. Russia Today reported that the Lord’s Divine Cross was given to A.N. Merminov, the head of Roscosmos, by the late Patriarch of Moscow Aleksy II. The cross was delivered to the station in 2006 by the crew of Soyuz TMA-8. … [Read more...]

SCOBA: Sunday of Orthodoxy Encyclical

The Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy - February 21, 2010 (Encyclical here) Now to Him Who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we can ask or think, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21). The Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas To all the Clergy and the Laity of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We, the Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, greet you on the Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy with words of the Holy Apostle Paul that were selected by the Primates of the worldwide Orthodox Church to close their Message proclaimed on October 12, 2008. Indeed, we glory in our God whose love for us exceeds every thought or imagining that could enter our minds or hearts. As the Apostle Paul says in another place: Eye has … [Read more...]

Church of England to push ahead with plan for women bishops

Undoing Henry VIII?

The (liberal) Anglicans won't quit until their Church becomes completely unrecognizable. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Women bishops could be in place by 2012 The Church of England is to go ahead with the plan to create women bishops without giving in to demands from traditionalists for a separate structure of bishops and archbishops untainted by the hands of a woman. Traditionalists oppose women bishops because they argue that Jesus had no women disciples and that the apostolic succession of bishops, passed down by the laying of hands at ordination, should therefore be male. Traditionalists warned last night that the decision, to be announced at the General Synod today, will trigger an exodus from the Church of England of many thousands of priests and lay people. The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, will tell the synod at Church House, Westminster, London, that the revision process he is leading is not finished yet, and as a result the debate … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill: Russian Church, Pope agree on many contemporary issues

Interfax Moscow, February 2, Interfax - When it comes to fighting today's challenges, the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church stand side-by-side on a number of issues, said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. "We [together with the Roman Catholic Church] have similar positions on many problems facing Christians in the modern world. They include aggressive secularization, globalization, and the erosion of the traditional moral principles. It should be noted that on these issues Pope Benedict XVI has taken a stance close to the Orthodox one," the Patriarch said at the Bishops' Meeting in Moscow on Tuesday. There are growing differences with Protestant denominations, he said. Over the recent years, "the Russian Church has seen less protestant communities cooperating in the cause of preserving the Christian legacy" due to "the relentless liberalization of the Protestant world," the Patriarch said. "Alas, not only have they failed to conduct a real propagation … [Read more...]

March for Life – 2010

Metropolitan Jonah addresses the marchers at a prayer vigil the night before the march

Early reports indicate that the Orthodox had a good showing at the March for Life in Washington DC today. Orthodox leadership was represented by Met. Jonah (OCA) who was a featured speaker at the event. Peter and Helen Evans, participants in the march and editors of the website PeterandHelenEvans.com (check out their interviews with signers of the Manhattan Declaration) sent along some pictures you can see on the top right sidebar. Any marchers reading this, send us your pictures. We will build a gallery of the march. … [Read more...]

Antiochian Church defends life

sacred-gift-of-life-600x120

Of the Big 3, the OCA and Antiochian jurisdictions stand solidly within the moral tradition and are clear on its teaching. The GOA, by its silence, equivocates. January 17, 2010, is the Sunday that precedes the 35th anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court Decision of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. This Supreme Court decision overturned all moral and logical reasoning that most citizens of our society held and practiced. Since 1973, over 43 million lives have been aborted. Approximately 93% of the women who have had abortions cited they did so for social reasons (i.e. unready for responsibility, can’t afford the baby, concern over how baby would change her life, etc) as opposed to issues regarding the mother’s health, the baby’s health, rape or incest. These few facts are very alarming for us as Orthodox Christians who hold all life as sacred and holy. The teens of our archdiocese are very concerned about this issue and desire to do whatever is in … [Read more...]

A Hierarch that pierces through the fog of political correctness

In this brief statement on environmental care, Abp. Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church correctly challenges two axioms of the environmentalist agenda: 1) stewardship and exploitation of the earth are synonymous, and 2) calls for population control are not to be challenged. Archbishop Hilarion: Human beings initiate ecological problems unless they see in environment a sphere of their responsibility Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, speaking in the Church and World program of the national Vesti TV network on December 26, said that man causes ecological problems ‘unless he sees in the environment a sphere of his responsibility’ and as long as he uses it for his own ends. ‘One should begin with oneself and only after that complain about the powers that be, about factories and plants. Certainly, the responsibility of leaders of large enterprises for the environment is great, though. And here … [Read more...]