Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 8th July, 4pm

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.


Saturday, 26 September 2009

Middle East Synod - Pre-Synodal Council

The Melkite Patriarchal Secretariat announces:

Two days of meetings were held, 20-21 September 2009, in the Headquarters of the Bishops’ Synod in Rome to prepare the Synod for the Middle East previously announced (on 19 September) by the Holy Father, to be held in Rome between 10-24 October, 2010. These meetings presented an opportunity to make a brief but comprehensive review of the socio-politico-religious situation in the Middle East, in order to prepare the main topics (Lineamenta) to be dealt with in the coming Synod. An Audience with the Holy Father was on the agenda for the morning of Monday 21 September.

Participating in the first meeting of the Presynodal Council were:
  1. H. B. Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites
  2. H. B. Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans
  3. H. E. Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples
  4. H. E. Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
  5. H. E. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
  6. H. E. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
  7. H. B. Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts
  8. H. B. Gregorios III Laham B.S., Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkite Greeks
  9. H. B. Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians
  10. H. B. Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins
  11. H. Ex. Mgr. Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil, Archbishop of Takrit of the Syrians, Procurator and Apostolic Visitor for Western Europe
  12. H. Ex. Mgr. Ramzi Garmou, Archbishop of Teheran of the Chaldeans, President of the Episcopal Conference of Iran
  13. H. Ex. Mgr. Luigi Padovese O.F.M. cap., Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, Titular Bishop of Monteverde, President of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey
Observer: Rev. Mgr. Alberto Ortega Martín, Counsellor of Nunciature of Second Class, Second Section, Secretary of State

Expert: Rev. Dr. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.

Members of the Presynodal Council for the Middle East for the whole year are the following:
  1. H. B. Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites
  2. H. B. Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans
  3. H. E. Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples
  4. H. E. Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
  5. H. E. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
  6. H. E. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
  7. H. B. Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts
  8. H. B. Ignatius Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians
  9. H. B. Gregorios III Laham B.S., Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkite Greeks
  10. H. B. Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians
  11. H. B. Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins
  12. H. Ex. Mgr. Ramzi Garmou, Archbishop of Teheran of the Chaldeans, President of the Episcopal Conference of Iran
  13. H. Ex. Mgr. Luigi Padovese O.F.M. cap., Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, Titular Bishop of Monteverde, President of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey
NB: H. B. Ignatius Youssif III Younan has designated H.Ex. Mgr. Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil, Archbishop of Takrit, Procurator and Apostolic Visitor for Western Europe to be his substitute.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Melkite Patriarch celebrates the Divine Liturgy in Rome

On Sunday, 20 September, His Beatitude took the opportunity to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Taking part were Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, resident in Rome, Archimandrite Mtanios Haddad, Rector of the church and Patriarchal Apocrisary of His Beatitude to the Holy See, Archimandrite Sleiman Abouzeid, former Superior General of the Salvatorian Order and Procurator of the Order in Rome and some Melkite student priests in Rome. From the Congregation for Eastern Churches, there participated also Mgr. Malvestiti, Undersecretary and Fr. Max Cappabianca O.P., Minuting Secretary to the Congregation.

Some one hundred faithful were present, including Melkite parishioners and people sympathetic to the Melkite Church. Afterwards, all clergy and some guests were invited to a convivial lunch in Queen Zenobia restaurant.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Meeting of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and Major Archbishops with Pope Benedict XVI

The Pope and some of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and Major Archbishops at the Twelfth Episcopal Synod in Rome in October 2008

The Melkite Patriarchal Secretariat reports, 19 September 2009:

On 18 September, there was a preparatory meeting held in the Vatican Palace between the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of Ukraine, Romania and India (of Malankar and Malabar.) Present also were Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., Secretary of the Congregation, and Mgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, Undersecretary of the Congregation. The meeting lasted two hours: an opportunity for the Patriarchs and Archbishops to speak (for seven minutes each) about the problems and issues of their Churches and for them to hear the comments from both Cardinals.

Saturday, 19 the above-mentioned Cardinals, Patriarchs and Major Archbishops went by coach to Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence. At 11:15a.m. His Holiness opened the meeting with a short prayer from the Syriac Liturgy, followed by a brief address of greeting. He said, “You have asked several times for a meeting, as a sign of collegiality of the Holy Father with you. You are always in my mind and prayers. In this beautiful, brotherly meeting, I am happy to announce officially my decision to hold a Synod for the Middle East from 10-24 October 2010.” The Cardinals each spoke in an introductory way and there was then an opportunity for each of the participants to make a seven-minute presentation to the Holy Father.

It was interesting to see how broad and varied were the issues mentioned by the different Churches and how all of them nevertheless shared certain features: especially in the field of ecclesiology, the jurisdictional question of the diaspora and the Eastern Catholic Churches’ relationship with the Holy See and with their sister Orthodox Churches; the emigration problem, relations with Islam and the rise of fundamentalism and the need for peace in the Middle East.

The meeting closed with a short response from the Holy Father: he first emphasised the relationship between people and territory in order to solve the problem of patriarchal jurisdiction in the diaspora. Secondly, he emphasised that though Churches have different rites, their communion with Rome should not require them to lose their identity and rights. Thirdly, ecumenical work encounters real difficulties, especially when baptism is repeated in mixed marriages of Greek Catholics with Orthodox. Fourthly, there are difficulties in dialogue with Islam and Hinduism, but Eastern Churches play an important role in that respect. Fifthly, on the subject of peace in the Holy Land, Pope Benedict stressed how important it is for Europe and the United States to exert real pressure on Israel to make peace.

The meeting closed with prayers, after which Pope Benedict greeted all the participants and received different gifts from them and had his photograph taken with the whole group. The participants were then guests of His Holiness for lunch in the Swiss Hall of the Apostolic Palace. H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III offered sweets from Damascus to His Holiness. All participants then received a commemorative medallion of His Holiness.

Friday, 18 September 2009

ANNUAL CHRISTOPHER MORRIS LECTURE

This will be held on 1st October 2009 at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile, Duke Street, Mayfair, London, W1. The entrance to Duke Street is opposite Selfridges in Oxford Street.

The Divine Liturgy is at 6.15 pm

The Annual General Meeting of the Society follows in the Cathedral Hall, which is entered from Binney Street behind the Cathedral, not long after 7 p.m

The CHRISTOPHER MORRIS LECTURE follows. This year the speaker is The Very Reverend Father EPHREM LASH, Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne, on Englishing Byzantium.

There will be refreshments afterwards and all are welcome.

See Father Ephrem's remarkable and rich website dedicated to translation of the Byzantine Liturgy and the Fathers into English here.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Symeon the New Theologian: Divine Love opens us to others

The Vatican Information Service reports, 16 September 2009:

In today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope focused his attention on Symeon the New Theologian, "an Eastern monk from Asia Minor whose writings exercised an important influence on theology and spirituality in the East, especially as regards the experience of mystical union with God".

The Holy Father explained how Symeon was born in Galatai, Asia Minor. He began a civilian career in the imperial service but abandoned it in order "to follow the path of union with God" under the guidance of Symeon the Pious in a monastery in Constantinople. He died in the year 1022. "Symeon focused his reflections on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the baptised and on the awareness they must have of this spiritual truth. Christian life, he insists, is intimate and personal communion with God. ... True knowledge of God ... stems from a journey of inner purification". This journey must pass through "profound penitence and sincere suffering for ones sins in order to achieve union with Christ, the source of joy and peace".

"This saintly Oriental monk reminds everyone to pay great attention to spiritual life. If, in fact, we are rightly concerned with tending to our physical, human and intellectual development, it is even more important not to overlook our inner development which consists in knowledge of God and communion with Him, so as to experience His help at all times and in all circumstances".

Symeon the New Theologian "had certain proof that the source of Christ's presence and action in a person's soul is love", said Benedict XVI. "The love of God grows within us if we remain united to Him through prayer and listening to His Word. Only divine love makes us open our hearts to others and renders us sensitive to their needs, bringing us to consider everyone as our brothers and sisters and inviting us to respond to hatred with love and to offence with forgiveness".

Recalling then how, as a young man, Symeon "found a spiritual director who helped him greatly and for whom he always maintained great respect", the Pope told his audience: "This remains valid even today, as everyone - priests, consecrated persons, lay people and especially the young - is invited to seek the counsel of a good spiritual father, one capable of accompanying each individual in a profound knowledge of self and leading him or her to intimate union with the Lord, that their lives may be increasingly moulded to the Gospel". "To advance towards the Lord we always have need of a guide, of some form of dialogue; we cannot do it just with our own reflections. And finding this guide is part of the ecclesial nature of our faith".

Here is the full text.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

First Visit to Rome of Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk

The Vatican Information Service reports, 15 September 2009:

Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, is due to visit Rome from 15 to 20 September at the invitation of Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, according to a communique released by the council.

This will be Archbishop Hilarion's first visit to Rome since he was appointed as president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow to substitute Metropolitan Kirill following the latter's election as Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

The archbishop will be received by the Holy Father and will meet, among others, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Cardinal Walter Kasper; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

"In the wake of the many meetings and conversations with the Patriarch in the past", says the communique, "this visit will confirm the ties of friendship between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, on the solid basis of mutual understanding and respect, with a view to closer collaboration and to favour the presence of the Church in the lives of the peoples of Europe and the world".

Monday, 14 September 2009

Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue Kraków, September 6–8, 2009

Valerie Chamberlain write:

More than five hundred leaders of the world’s great religions, together with political leaders and scholars gathered in Kraków from September 6 to 8 at the invitation of the Community of Sant’Egidio and Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz to revive the “spirit of Assisi” in the late Pope John Paul II’s native city.

Spirit of Assisi
The religious leaders agreed to meet at a crossroads of European history, paving the way for a pilgrimage, unprecedented in size and representation, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, as a token of reconciliation and peace and a symbol of a radical rejection of violence and war as a way of solving international conflicts. John Paul II inaugurated the historic World Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in Assisi on October 27, 1986: an appeal to the God of all religions to grant peace to his world.

Seventy years on from the start of the Second World War and twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Eastern Europe’s communist regimes, Stanisław Dziwisz, former secretary of John Paul II, Cardinal Archbishop of Kraków and the Community of Sant’Egidio decided to revive the spirit of Assisi, to spread from Kraków to the rest of the world.

In these hard times of economic crisis and regional conflicts, it is hoped that religions will garner, through dialogue, the spiritual energy needed to restore a vision for the future.

The Participants
Some ten cardinals were present: with Cardinal Dziwisz, were Cardinals Rylko, Etchegaray, Sepe, Sistach, Poupard, Glemp, Macharski, Shirayanagi and McCarrick.

His Beatitude, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Antioch and All the East, Gregorios III (Laham) was also there to speak in two panels, one of which he also chaired. From other ancient Eastern and Orthodox Churches, there were Albanian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Cypriot, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Syrian representatives.

Participation from different parts of the world was ample and dynamic with representatives of International Christian Communions, of international Christian organizations and of other great world religions, including an appreciable Muslim presence, from Indonesia, India, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon, Ivory Coast and Qatar as well as noteworthy representatives of Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. And finally there were many international authorities and heads of state: including representatives from Albania, Costa Rica, Cyprus, East Timor, Poland and Uganda, another important sign of a multi-polar world.

The Opening Eucharist and Addresses
The conference opened with a Eucharistic celebration in the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy. Cardinal Dziwisz and Metropolitan Serafim of the Romanian Orthodox Church each gave a homily on the importance of seeking together peace for the world in the spirit of Assisi. At noon, the conference was linked to the Angelus in the Vatican and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI greeted the congress:

..We are compelled to remember the tragic events that sparked one of the most terrible conflicts in history, which caused tens of millions of dead and so much sufferance to the beloved people of Poland; a conflict that unleashed the tragedy of the holocaust and the extermination of scores of other innocent people. May the memory of these events drive us to pray for the victims and for those who still bear wounds in their bodies and in their hearts. May it also stand as an admonishment to all, not to replicate such barbarity but rather to intensify efforts in building long-lasting peace in our times marked by conflict and contraposition, conveying, especially to younger generations, a culture and lifestyle full of love, solidarity and esteem for the other. In this perspective the contribution Religions can and must give is particularly important for promoting forgiveness and reconciliation, opposing violence, racism, totalitarianism and extremism, which debase the image of the Creator in man, removing the vision of God, and ultimately leading to despise for man himself…

Some of the themes of His Holiness’ address were echoed in the inaugural address by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, speaking later that afternoon. His vision of hope for the future of Europe in the twenty-first century, despite, or perhaps because of past conflicts, was that Europe

…can become a champion of the values of peace, freedom and solidarity and give our positive contribution. This is the kind of Europe I believe in. A Europe that puts people at the heart of its project. A Europe that puts its values at the heart of the relations with the rest of the world. A Europe which promotes human development in the fullest possible sense. A Europe which promotes the development of "the whole man and of all men."


The Panel Discussions
Monday saw the participants devote both morning and afternoon to discussions led by panels. In the course of the day, twenty-two such sessions were held. His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios was a contributor to the morning’s discussion as member of the panel: Dialogue of Faith and Culture (click here to read). In the afternoon, His Beatitude both chaired a panel and contributed to the discussion on: The Scriptures in Monotheistic Faiths (click here to read).


Memorial Ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau
Tuesday found the participants walking along the railway tracks to the notorious former death camp at Auschwitz. At the monument to the victims of Nazi Fascism, they were greeted by the Bishop of Bielsko-Zywiec and listened to the testimony of a Jewish witness and a gypsy survivor of the camp.

Appeal for Peace 2009
Later that evening, the various religions and denominations met at various locations for prayers in the old city of Kraków, before walking out together for the Final Ceremony in the Market Square. Cardinal Dziwisz and a representative of the Saint Egidio community addressed the assembled gathering. They were followed by other speakers from different faiths and different communities across the world. Then there was a minute’s silence to remember all victims of war, terrorism and violence before an Appeal for Peace 2009, when children of various nationalities gave, on behalf of young people everywhere, an Appeal for Peace to ambassadors and government officials present. After a short address from Cardinal Sistach of Barcelona, the Appeal for Peace was signed and candelabras were lit by the conference participants before the sign of peace was exchanged.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem’s talk on the plight of Christians in the Holy Land

Speaking in Westminster Cathedral Hall on September 8th 2009, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal addressed these words to a meeting of Aid to the Church in Need:

"Dear brothers and sisters,

Pope Benedict XVI visited the Church of the Holy Land in May 2009.

The Holy Father underlined the unique vocation of Christians in the region, encouraging them to continue bearing witness to the love of Christ in the land of Christ despite the myriad difficulties that face them.

It might be helpful in speaking to you about the Christians in the Holy Land and especially in Jerusalem to describe briefly the reality the Holy Father found on his visit.

A small community – the demography of the Christians

A constant theme in the life of the Christians in the Holy Land is the fact that we are a very small community, about two percent of the general population whether in the Palestinian Territories or in Israel.

In Israel, Christians live as part of the Arab minority in a state that is overwhelmingly Jewish. In the Palestinian Territories, Christians live within a population that is overwhelmingly Muslim.

The vast majority of Christians are Arabs, although there are also important communities of Hebrew-speaking Christians and of Christian foreign workers.

Christian demography, illustrates in a dramatic way, the situation of the Christians in the Holy Land.

Whereas Christians constituted between six and ten percent of the general population in 1948, this has dropped to about two percent today.

The major reason for this radical change is the enormous waves of Jewish immigration before and after 1948, as well as the consequent dislocation of a large proportion of the Palestinian Arab population, especially during the 1948 War.

Not only has the relative proportion of Christians dropped radically, but Christians often find themselves marginalised in both Palestinian and Israeli society.

Minorities might have the tendency to close in on themselves, but the Holy Father reminded Christians that they are called to go out and build relationships.

At Mass in Jerusalem on 12th May 2009, he called on Christians to be pillars of faith and harmony: "Precisely because of your deep roots in this land, your ancient and strong Christian culture, and your unwavering trust in God's promises, you, the Christians of the Holy Land, are called to serve not only as a beacon of faith to the universal Church, but also as a leaven of harmony, wisdom and equilibrium in the life of a society which has traditionally been, and continues to be, pluralistic, multiethnic and multi-religious”

A precarious community – the difficult political situation

The biggest obstacle in our lives as faithful in the Holy Land is the lack of peace and stability, the glaring absence of justice and the concomitant difficulties in all aspects of life.

We cannot emphasise strongly enough the necessity of finding a solution to the issues that have sparked violence, conflict and war over the past decades.

The 1948 War, which led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel, also created the enormous problem of Palestinian refugees, as hundreds of thousands were driven from their ancestral homes in a few months – among them many Christians.

The State of Israel was set up on almost 78 percent of the land that had been the Palestine Mandate. Within the State of Israel, the Christians are a part of an Arab minority within a state defined as Jewish.

Although Arabs have citizenship, they are discriminated against in many basic services and this is particularly evident in education, health care, urban development and agricultural allocations.

The 1967 War led to the military occupation of the remaining 22 percent of the land and whereas this time the majority of the population stayed in their homes, a harsh military occupation was put into place.

The occupiers seem obsessed with security, whereas the occupied seek to throw off the occupation, sometimes using violent means.

A continued policy of building Jewish settlements in these Occupied Territories, has led to a concomitant policy of discrimination, land confiscation, house demolition and other infringements of basic human rights.

A section of the security wall around Bethlehem with a cross painted on it. Photo: Aid to the Church in Need

Most recently, we have seen the construction of a separation wall (above), supposedly a defence against terrorism.

It has enclosed many Palestinians in ghetto-like areas where access to work, medical care, schooling and other basic services has been badly affected. In addition, freedom of movement is severely hampered.

Despite the international community's attempts to kick-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the situation on the ground seems to be getting worse.

In the first half of the 1990s, the American administration mediated the establishment of a Palestinian Authority, in certain areas of the Occupied Territories.

However, these pockets of Palestinian autonomy are completely at the mercy of the Israeli military, and at present the Gaza Strip is living under an Israeli imposed siege that has created a drastic humanitarian crisis.

The erection of the separation wall has imposed a new situation of injustice that penetrates daily life, with hours of waiting to pass from one area to another.

This is particularly true for the Christians of Jerusalem, the Bethlehem area to the south and the Ramallah area to the north. They constitute one community, now separated.

Husbands and wives cannot live together, parents are sometimes separated from children, many are without work and without access to basic services.

We have a new generation of Christians who cannot visit the Holy Places of their faith that are only a few kilometres from their place of residence.

Many do not believe that the Israelis want to end the occupation, and the Palestinians are dramatically divided in how to resist the occupation, between those who use violence and those who seek diplomatic resolutions.

Islamic fundamentalism that has sprung up as a response to the hopelessness of our general situation pushes Christians even further into the margins and alienates many of our young people.

Most Christians live this harsh reality as a part of the Palestinian people.

Pope Benedict XVI meets Holy Land families. Photo © Peter Dammann www.childrens-relief-bethlehem.org

Words of comfort from the Holy Father

The Holy Father comforted us by directly addressing our situation, saying: “Standing before you today, I wish to acknowledge the difficulties, the frustration, and the pain and suffering which so many of you have endured as a result of the conflicts which have afflicted these lands, and the bitter experiences of displacement which so many of your families have known and – God forbid – may yet know”.

Here he fulfilled the words he had spoken in planning the visit: that he sought to come to support, console and encourage the Christians of the Holy Land.

“I hope my presence here is a sign that you are not forgotten, that your persevering presence and witness are indeed precious in God's eyes and integral to the future of these lands,” said the Holy Father at Mass in Jerusalem on 12th May 2009.

The Pope encouraged us to be at the forefront of seeking ways to bring this difficult situation to an end by means that are coherent with our Christian identity – ways that reject violence, but that insist on liberty.

In Bethlehem, in the heart of the Palestinian Autonomy, at the Mass in the square alongside Jesus’s birthplace, the Holy Father dwelt upon the Christian call to be witnesses to vitality rather than to death, to be evangelists of life.

“Above all, be witnesses to the power of life, the new life brought by the Risen Christ, the life that can illumine and transform even the darkest and most hopeless of human situations.

“Your homeland needs not only new economic and community structures, but most importantly, we might say, a new ‘spiritual’ infrastructure, capable of galvanising the energies of all men and women of good will in the service of education, development and the promotion of the common good.

“You have the human resources to build the culture of peace and mutual respect which will guarantee a better future for your children. This noble enterprise awaits you. Do not be afraid!”

I must add though that we are cautiously optimistic at present, due to the change in tone of the American administration led by President Obama.

He seems much more aware than his predecessors of the fundamental errors of the administration in their attitude to the conflict.

A reduced community – the problem of emigration

The issue of being a small community in a precarious situation is exacerbated by the fact that since the end of the 19th century Christians in the Holy Land in particular, and Christians throughout the Middle East, have been tempted to emigrate, seeking a more prosperous and promising future for their children elsewhere.

One of our greatest challenges is to persuade our faithful to stay and build their future in a land where many of them feel hopeless, marginalised and even threatened.

Although emigration did not begin in 1948, it was in that year that huge numbers of Christians left the country, fleeing the war alongside their Muslim compatriots, and most were not allowed to return.

Many Christians continue to dream of a future elsewhere, in a place where they can guarantee their families jobs, housing, education, decent living conditions, equal rights and socio-political stability.

Israeli policies – continued occupation in the Palestinian Territories and ongoing discrimination within Israel – threaten Christians and Muslims alike.

From limiting movement and ignoring housing needs, to financial taxation burdens and infringing on residency rights, Palestinian Christians do not know where to turn.

The number of Jerusalem Christians, for example, is expected to fall from 10,000 to 5,300 in the coming seven years, if these policies are carried out at the same pace.

Our young people, and the best among them, often cannot resist the temptation to leave and make their future elsewhere.

They often do so with heavy hearts, but when they see no brighter future ahead, and no possibility to raise families in security, they emigrate and very seldom return.

Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem (centre right) and Bishop Micahel Evans of East Anglia (centre left) with clergy at Westminster Cathedral. Photo: Aid to the Church in Need

Patriarch Fouad (left) and Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, with clergy after the Mass of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Westminster Cathedral, September 8th 2009

A community of ‘living stones’ – the Mother Church of the Holy Land

However, despite the obstacles, we have a great treasury to sustain us. God chose this land, and this community, in which to establish his Church.

We are a community of ‘living stones’ that has a rich treasury of ‘monumental stones’ that commemorate the major events of our salvation history.

We are a Church called to be custodian of the Holy Places of our Christian memory, but we are also called to be custodians of life.

Our Churches are vibrant centres that sponsor a vast array of projects, that touch every aspect of daily routine.

Our schools are among the best in the region, our hospitals among the most advanced, our housing projects are being constantly built, our clinics, our social welfare agencies and so on…

In the directory of the Catholic Church of the Holy Land, it is mentioned that the different Churches together run 170 parishes, 118 schools serving 64,000 students from different religions, 15 homes for children and disabled, 12 hospitals, seven homes for elderly people and 15 charitable and humanitarian organisations.

We are determined to continue, despite the many difficulties that also impinge on the life of the Church: our clergy have difficulties getting resident permits, can not always circulate freely and our church institutions are menaced by draconian financial and administrative measures from the State.

Despite all the challenges we face, we are a living Church, proclaiming the message of a Resurrected Lord: death will not be victorious!

In Nazareth, the Pope encouraged the Christian institutions to be prophetic places of peace education, calling on Christians to be preachers of the Kingdom.

The vocation is “to break down walls and to be a seedbed of encounter, dialogue, reconciliation and solidarity”.

Furthermore, he encouraged the Christians “to persevere in bearing witness to the Gospel, to be confident in the triumph of goodness and truth, and to trust that God will give growth to every initiative which aims at the extension of his Kingdom of holiness, solidarity, justice and peace” (at Mass in Nazareth, 14th May 2009).

Seek out the living stones of faith

It is this community of living stones that welcomes Christians from all over the world who come to the Holy Land, to drink from the sources of our common faith.

We ask you to come and to pray at the Holy Places, but do not be satisfied with the monumental stones alone.

Seek out the living stones, our Christian faithful. Pray with them, comfort them, strengthen them, and you too will be enriched by their testimony to the Living Lord, in the land that is His own.

A community of witnesses – Christian hope

We are called to be Christian and that means we must have hope, hope in a God of surprises: a God who brings life out of the tomb, a child out of a virgin womb, a created world out of the nothingness of chaos.

It was in the Vespers service in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth that the Holy Father offered his most powerful image for the Christians of the Holy Land, comparing them to the Virgin Mary, whose Nativity we celebrate today:

“In the State of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Christians form a minority of the population. Perhaps at times you feel that your voice counts for little. Many of your fellow Christians have emigrated, in the hope of finding greater security and better prospects elsewhere.

“Your situation calls to mind that of the young virgin Mary, who led a hidden life in Nazareth, with little by way of worldly wealth or influence.

“Yet to quote Mary’s words in her great hymn of praise, the Magnificat, God has looked upon his servant in her lowliness, he has filled the hungry with good things.

“Draw strength from Mary's canticle, have the confidence to be faithful to Christ, and to remain here in the land that he sanctified with his own presence!

“Like Mary, you have a part to play in God’s plan for salvation, by bringing Christ forth into the world, by bearing witness to him, and spreading his message of peace and unity.”

We know that we do not and cannot live this hope alone, isolated from our brothers and sisters in faith throughout the world.

We depend on your prayers, on your support and solidarity, on your advocacy for our rights, on your lobbying for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine.

We are reassured when we know that you are with us in our struggle to survive and live as a community of witnesses to the Resurrected Lord in the land that was his earthly home.

Please do not leave us alone in this mission. God bless you all."

Chrysostom: Assumptiontide Newsletter

Chrysostom, the Society's newsletter, New Series Volume Nine, is now available. To subscribe and receive your copy, please contact the Chairman, Fr John Salter at 1 St James Close, Bishop Street, London N1 8PH. Membership subscription forms are available here.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Greek Deacon of the Papal Rite of Mass


Father Athanasius McVay, our Rome correspondent and a priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has recently published an essay on the Eastern rite deacon at the Papal rite of Mass in the summer edition of our newsletter, Chrysostom. It is also available to read here, on Father Athanasius' blog, Annales Ecclesiae Ucrainae.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Patriarch Fouad of Jerusalem of the Latins: in London to appeal for support to the Christians of the Holy Land

His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, will celebrate the Sung Mass at 5-30pm on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Westminster Cathedral, 8th September 2009. The Society will be represented by Fr Mark Woodruff.

Independent Catholic News reports:

Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, is in the UK this September, to speak about the plight of Christians in the Holy Land. The Patriarch was invited by Aid to the Church in Need as part of its work raising awareness of the challenges facing Christians in the region.

After Mass, the Patriarch will talk about the plight of Christians in the Holy Land in the Cathedral Hall.

In an interview with ACN in Rome, Patriarch Twal said: “I look forward very much to my visit to London. It will be an opportunity to share with so many friends the sufferings and joys that we experience in the land of Christ.”

He said the visit would build on the success of Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land in which the Pontiff pleaded with Christians not to emigrate.

Thanking ACN for its commitment to support suffering faithful in the Middle East, Patriarch Twal stressed the problems of poverty and discrimination facing Christians.

He added: “If only the faithful are given the chance to lead a normal life, they will stay in the Holy Land. As long as they cannot lead a normal life, they will be tempted to leave.”

Christians in the Holy Land have plummeted from 20 percent of the population to less than 1.5 percent in the last 40 years.

The event in September will be followed six weeks later by a visit to the UK by Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, Pakistan, who will be the keynote speaker at ACN’s annual Westminster Event on Saturday, 17th October. He will celebrate the 10.30am Mass in the Cathedral and will give the keynote address in the hall afterwards. Tickets for the talk are £5 each.

The event will begin with a brief address by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

In a message to ACN, Bishop Coutts said he was delighted to be visiting the UK and thanked the charity for its ongoing support for the Church amid continuing hardship suffered by Christians and other minorities.

ACN UK director Neville Kyrke-Smith said: “It is critical that we get the message out there about what Christians are enduring for their faith today in the Middle East and Pakistan and we are so glad that Patriarch Twal and Bishop Coutts can give us their first-hand testimonies.”

UGCC is a Source for Unity for the Ukrainian Community: Apostolic Administrator in Great Britain

The Religious Information Service of Ukraine reports from Lviv, Friday, 04 September 2009:

In an interview with RISU, Bishop Hlib (Lonchyna), apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Exarchate in Great Britain, explained the role of the UGCC and its patriarchal mode. RISU’s Ukrainian-language webpage posted this story on August 28, 2009.

When asked about the patriarchate of the UGCC, Bishop Hlib said that, “we would certainly like for it to be acknowledged as soon as possible. However, we need to build up our patriarchate, live with it, and support it. The acknowledgment will come eventually. Patriarch Joseph said that if one Pope does not acknowledge it, another one will. We have to work on this, to assert ourselves and to embody the teachings of the eastern Catholic Church.”

Bishop Hlib sees the mission of the UGCC as one of reconciliation and unity for the Ukrainian community. He believes we must strive for mutual respect and dissuade animosity between the confessions. According to the hierarch, there is also a need to heal the wounded human spirit. The communist system destroyed humans. Now there exists the need to cure, to build up a sense of dignity, which according to Bishop Hlib is one of the highest priorities of the church.

Additionally, the hierarch believes that the church should serve as a unifying force. “We are eastern Catholics, connected to the Apostolic See. Thus, we are an example of the church maintaining its traditions while at the same time being part of the church’s unity, because there is no church unity without a relationship with the Apostolic See. Christ founded the church on a ‘rock’ – on Saint Peter. We trust that Christ’s church is an incarnate of the universal church. But the universal – Catholic – Church does not mean solely Latin! Despite there being many more Latin rite Catholics, the Catholic Church does not equate to the Latin rite. And that is why we keep our rite, our national church, alongside the Roman Apostolic See, as these churches unite to form one,” explained the bishop during the interview.

According to the bishop, the most valued aspect of the UGCC is its communion with the Apostolic See. However, Bishop Hlib asserts that there are many difficulties within the relationship of eastern Catholic churches (not only UGCC) and the Apostolic See. However, the hierarch says that these obstacles need to be overcome, but the relations can not be destroyed.

Friday, 4 September 2009

St Augustine in Eastern and Western Tradition

The Vatican Information Service reports, 4th September 2009:


Made public yesterday afternoon was a Message from Benedict XVI to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and participants in an inter-Christian symposium on St. Augustine being held in Rome from 3 to 5 September.

The symposium has been promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at Rome's Antonianum Pontifical Athenaeum, and by the Orthodox Theological Faculty of the University of Aristotle in Salonika, Greece.

In his Message the Pope notes how the theme chosen for the meeting - "St. Augustine in Western and Eastern Tradition" which is being examined in co-operation with the Augustinianum Patristic Institute in Rome - is of "great interest" and may "promote more profound study of Christian theology and spirituality in East and West".

"The saint of Hippo, a great Father of the Latin Church, is of fundamental importance for the theology and for the very culture of the West", writes the Holy Father, noting how "the reception of his ideas in Orthodox theology has proved to be somewhat problematic. Hence, it is indispensable to understand - with historical objectivity and fraternal cordiality - the doctrinal and spiritual wealth that form the heritage of the Christian East and West, not only to evaluate them better, but also to promote greater mutual appreciation among all Christians".

Benedict XVI concludes his Message by expressing the hope that the symposium may prove fruitful in "discovering common doctrinal and spiritual ground which may help to build the City of God where His children can live in peace and fraternal charity".

Message of His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on the Day of the Protection of the Environment, 1st September 2009

+ B A R T H O L O M E W
BY THE MERCY OF GOD ARCHBISHOP
OF CONSTANTINOPLE, NEW ROME
AND
ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH

GRACE AND PEACE

FROM THE CREATOR OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE
OUR LORD, GOD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST


As we come again to the changing of the Church year, we reflect once more on the state of God’s creation. We think about the past and repent for all that we have done or failed to do for the earth’s care; we look to the future and pray for wisdom to guide us in all that we think or do.

These last twelve months have been a time of great uncertainty for the whole world. The financial systems that so many people trusted to bring them the good things of life, have brought instead fear, uncertainty and poverty. Our globalised economy has meant that everyone - even the poorest who are far removed from the dealings of big business - has been affected.

The present crisis offers an opportunity for us to deal with the problems in a different way, because the methods that created these problems cannot provide their best solution. We need to bring love into all our dealings, the love that inspires courage and compassion. Human progress is not just the accumulation of wealth and the thoughtless consumption of the earth’s resources. The way that the present crisis has been dealt with has revealed the values of the few who are shaping the destiny of our society; of those who can find vast sums of money to support the financial system that has betrayed them, but are not willing to allot even the least portion of that money to remedy the piteous state the creation has been reduced to because of these very values, or for feeding the hungry of the world, or for securing safe drinking water for the thirsty, who are also victims of those values. On the face of every hungry child is written a question for us, and we must not turn away to avoid the answer. Why has this happened? Is it a problem of human inability or of human will?

We have rendered the Market the centre of our interest, our activities and, finally, of our life, forgetting that this choice of ours will affect the lives of future generations, limiting the number of their choices that would probably be more oriented towards the well-being of man as well as the creation. Our human economy, which has made us consumers, is failing. The divine economy, which has made us in the image of the loving Creator, calls us to love and care for all creation. The image we have of ourselves is reflected in the way we treat the creation. If we believe that we are no more than consumers, then we shall seek fulfilment in consuming the whole earth; but if we believe we are made in the image of God, we shall act with care and compassion, striving to become what we are created to be.

Let us pray for God’s blessing on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, so that the industrially developed countries may co-operate with developing countries in reducing harmful polluting emissions, that there may exist the will to raise and manage wisely the funds required for the necessary measures, and that all may work together to ensure that our children enjoy the goods of the earth that we leave behind for them. There must be justice and love in all aspects of economic activity; profit – and especially short-term profit – cannot and should not be the sole motive of our actions.

Let us all renew our commitment to work together and bring about the changes we pray for, to reject everything that is harming the creation, to alter the way we think and thus drastically to alter the way we live.

September 1st, 2009 A.D.

Your beloved brother in Christ and
fervent supplicant before God,

+ BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople

Prot. No. 862

Heavenly Birth of Archimandrite Symeon of Tolleshunt Knights

Archimandrite Symeon on his Golden Jubilee in Monastic Life

Archimandrite Symeon died in the very early hours of Friday 21 August at the monastery of St John the Baptist where he lived at Tolleshunt Knights, near Maldon in Essex, as a result of lymphoma. He was fully conscious to the last and died in great peace.

His funeral was celebrated at 3pm on the Friday in the monastery church, where the brothers and sisters of the community were joined by a congregatino of nearly 500 who had come from all over Britain, various countries in Europe and Russia. The body of Father Symeon will rest from now on in the crypt of the monastery, beside that of Father Sophrony (Sakharov), of whom he has been one of the oldest disciples.

Born in 1928 in the canton of Vaux in Switzerland, René Jean Bruschweiler studied law at university and began to practise as an advocate, until he encountered the Orthodox Church, and then the monastic life, through close contact with Archimandrite Sophrony. Father Sophrony had come back from Mount Athos because of health problems and settled at the castle at Sainte Geneviève des Bois. Symeon then followed his spiritual father when he left in 1959, with five other monks who had come and enlarged the community, to found a monastery in south-east England.

Father Symeon translated the works of Archimandrite Sophrony from Russian into French, the most famous being Saint Silouan, Monk of Mount Athos, as well as several important works by Saint Ignatius Briantchaninov.


Quiet, humble, gentle, pure-hearted and good, Archimandrite Symeon attracted a great number of spiritual children, monastic and lay, after Archimandrite Sophrony died. He regularly visited France for the annual congress of the Association of Saint Silouan, of which he was president and other conferences, and was assiduous in his visits to monasteries with which he had a particular association and concern, especially as a much loved and deeply revered confessor.

May he rest in peace and may his memory be eternal.

'Encounter with God' A conference in memory of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Saturday, November 14, 2009

No one can turn toward eternity if hehas not seen in the eyes or on the face of at least one person the shining of eternal life.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Venue

Church Hall,
Serbian Orthodox Church of St Sava,
89-91 Lancaster Road, London W11 1QQ.


Programme


9:00 am - Coffee and Registration

9:45 am - Morning Talks
  • I. Encountering God in Liturgical Prayer - The Rev’d Canon Hugh Wybrew, Former Vicar of St Mary Magdalen, Oxford
  • II. A Living Diocese to Serve a Living God - Costa Carras, Athens
  • III. Metropolitan Anthony: A Gift From God - The Rev’d Canon Donald Allchin, Former Vicar of Canterbury Cathedral
12:30 pm - Lunch

1:30 pm - Afternoon Talks
  • IV. Metropolitan Anthony: My Memories in Paris - Veronique Lossky, Professor emeritus of the Sorbonne, Paris
  • V. ‘What Is Man, That Thou Art Mindful of Him?’ - Father John Lee, St. Andrew Holborn, London
3:15 pm - Coffee and Refreshments

3:45 pm - Round Table:‘Encounter With God’ - How did Metropolitan Anthony’s own encounter with God affect his encounter with others? What can we learn from this?

Chair: Karin Greenhead
Panel: Archdeacon Peter Scorer, Gillian Crow, Costa Carras, Veronique Lossky

5:30 pm - Film: ‘On the Threshold’

6:00 pm - Panikhida (prayers for the departed)

For further details and booking (£10) - go to the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Foundation here.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

St Odo: Change of Lifestyle Based on Humility and Austerity

The Vatican Information Service reports, 2nd September 2009:

In this morning's general audience, held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope resumed his series of catecheses on the great writers of the mediaeval Church in East and West. Focusing his remarks on St. Odo, Benedict XVI explained how the saint was born around the year 880, eventually becoming the second abbot of the famous abbey of Cluny. "From that centre of spiritual life, he was able to exercise a vast influence on the monasteries of the continent", fomenting a lifestyle and a spirituality inspired by the Rule of St. Benedict. He died in 942. The Pope mentioned some of the saint's virtues, highlighting his "patience, ... detachment from the world, zeal for souls, commitment to peace, ... observance of the commandments, concern for the poor, education of the young and respect for the elderly".

"One aspect that merits particular attention is the devotion to the Body and Blood of Christ which Odo - in the face of a widespread negligence that he vigorously deplored -cultivated with conviction. He was, in fact, firmly convinced of the real presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord under the Eucharistic species, by virtue of the 'substantial' conversion of the bread and wine". St. Odo said that "only those who are spiritually united to Christ can worthily receive His Eucharistic Body; in any other case, eating His flesh and drinking His blood would not be beneficial, but harmful".

The Holy Father highlighted how "St. Odo was a true spiritual guide, both for the monks and for the faithful of his time. Faced with the 'immensity of vices' spread throughout society, the remedy he proposed ... was that of a radical change of lifestyle founded upon humility, austerity, detachment from the ephemeral and adherence to the eternal". With "the profound goodness of his soul, Odo diffused around him the joy with which he himself was filled. ... Through his resolute activities he nourished in the monks, and in the lay faithful of his time, a desire to proceed rapidly along the path of Christian perfection".

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by expressing the hope that "the goodness of St. Odo, the joy that derives from faith, ... may touch our hearts and that we too may discover the source of happiness that comes from the goodness of God".

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Light of the East - SSJC US Western Region - Summer 2009

Here is Light of the East, the Summer  (July-September) 2009 Newsletter of the Western Region of SSJC in the US.