Eastern Church: September 2010 Archives

Eleuterio Fortino.jpgOn 22 September 2010, a giant in the world of ecumenism and Eastern Christianity died after living with illness. No one can doubt the sentiment expressed by the Pope saying that Monsignor Fortino had a "generous commitment with intelligence and passion at the service of unity." The Pope last saw Monsignor Fortino on June 28 with the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. A telegram was sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, honoring the life of the undersecretary (third in charge) of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who focused particularly on relations with the Orthodox Churches.
In May, the announcement of a new rector was made that the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, a Jesuit work for the universal Church, Jesuit Father James McCann. The new rector is a member of the Chicago Province of Jesuits, is 61 years old and was ordained a priest in 1979.

The PIO was founded in 1917 and entrusted to the Society of Jesus in 1922.

Check the website noted above for the new norms governing studies.

Watch a brief interview with Father McCann.

Conception of Saint the Baptist

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Rejoice, O barren one, who had not given birth; for the behold you have conceived clearly the one who is the dawn of eh Sun Who was about illuminate the whole universe, blighted with sightlessness. Shout in joy, O Zachary, crying in favor, truly, the one to be born is a Prophet of the High. (Troparion, 4th tone)

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On the Byzantine liturgical calendar, today is the feast of the Conception of Saint John the Baptist. The Eastern Church, at least the Churches with a Greek origin, keeps three conception feasts:  Our Lord (March 25), Our Lady (December 9) and the Baptist (September 23). The Latin Church only keeps two. 

Calendar study will tell you that only the Savior has a perfect 9-month gestation period; Our Lady is a day under (September 8) and the Baptist, a day under (June 24). The liturgical calendar of the Latin Church places the conception of Mary on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The theology for today's feast is rooted in the biblical narrative of Zachary and Elizabeth, a couple who had no children and therefore in the eyes of the world plagued by divine disfavor. All of their lives Zachary and Elizabeth begged God to send them a son.  Providence heard their prayer and in His plan and mercy for all, ordained that the dawn of salvation would be effected by the birth of John through the agency of the barren Elizabeth. The Church calls John the Prophet and Forerunner of Jesus, the Savior of the world.

Other significant divinely merciful births to barren women who are a significant part of the Divine Plan of Salvation are  Isaac son of Sarah and Samson born to the wife of Manoah (Samson's mother is not named in Scripture).

Archbishop Zayek & Bishop Shaheen.jpgWith great sadness word was received today of the passing to the Lord of His Excellency, Archbishop Francis Mansour Zayek, 90, emeritus archbishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, on the 14 September 2010, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Archbishop Zayek is pictured on the left with Bishop Robert Shaheen.

Archbishop Zayek was a dear friend for many years and I recommend him to your Masses and Prayers. He was really a beautiful person always attuned with the Lord and His Church.

Bishop Gregory Mansour's letter regarding the death of Archbishop Zayek gives testimony to this great man. Read: Letter on + Francis Zayek RIP.pdf

UPDATED: The October 2010 issue of the Maronite Voice is dedicated to the Archbishop.
The hard work of collaborating and witnessing to Jesus Christ for 14 million Eastern Christians is indeed a difficult task, but one that is only sustained by prayer, mutuality and study.

During his trip to Cyprus Pope Benedict released what he things is a reasonable agenda for the forthcoming Synod of Bishops for Christians in the Middle East. But don't be fooled in thinking that this Synod is merely for those in funny hats doing the Liturgy in a different manner. On the contrary, this Synod, as all Synods, have a direct impact on our Christian lives here in the USA for those living outside of the Middle East. What happens to our brothers and sisters in the East impacts the life of the Church across the world whether we realize it or not. So often, we neglect our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world because there seems to be little identifiable connections between what and how they live there, and what and how we live here. Remember, Christ our Lord and Savior lived, died and resurrected in the Middle East. Why wouldn't we be concerned with the Christians in the Holy Land and neighboring countries? You and I don't have to be Melkite, Maronite, Coptic, Syriac or Hebrew Catholics to care for the other. Let's not wait to later to do this caring, let's do it now.

The Lineamenta (the agenda for the Synod of Bishops) is built under the title of "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness." Acts 4:32 sets the framework: "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul."

The heads (and assistants) of Eastern Churches in the Middle East have been preparing for the Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome 10-24 October 2010.

An H2O News interview explores some themes.

The Holy Father in consultation with the bishops and many experts speaks of the point of the Synod in this manner, which sets the bar pretty high in my opinion:

1. to confirm and strengthen Christians in their identity through the Word of God and the sacraments;

2. to deepen ecclesial communion among the particular Churches, so that they can bear witness to the Christian life in an authentic, joyful and winsome manner.

In the Pope's mind these 2 goals are only possible through an ecumenical approach "if Christian witness is to be genuine and credible." For Pope Benedict, and I pray for all the bishops and religious orders and secular institutes in the Middle East, and for this blog dedicated to communion theology, that communion among Christians will lead to a unified Christian mind and heart which will in turn revitalize Christian life together. That is, that one day full, visible communion among the Churches and ecclesial communities will be a fact.

I urge you to read the working document (the lineamenta) noted above. Beg the Holy Spirit to guide your reading. Take the questions posed in the document with a degree of seriousness to see what can be done from your context to build a deeper bond of communion with Christians in the Middle East and with those who have immigrated to the West.

Let us all be united in prayer to the Holy Spirit and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, to assist the bishops and the experts in dealin with the critical issues being faced by Eastern Christians at this time.
Happy New Liturgical Year for the Byzantine Church! Have a blessed 7519!!! The Byzantine Church understands this date to be the years since the creation of the world. A new liturgical year, a new beginning to give God glory, honor and praise!!!!

We bless God's holy name with the singing of the Great Doxology

Vision of the Thorne of the Lord.jpg
Glory to God in the highest, and to people on earth peace and good will.
We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we thank you for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King, Father almighty; Lord, only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit!

Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. You take away the sin of the world, hear our prayer. You are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are holy; you alone are the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

I will bless you day after day, and praise your name forever. Make us worthy, O Lord, to be kept sinless this morning. Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our Fathers, and praiseworthy and glorious is your name forever. Amen.

May your mercy, O Lord, be upon us who have placed our hope in you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Master; make me understand your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Holy One; enlighten me with your commandments.
O Lord, you have been our refuge for one generation to the next.
I said: Lord have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.
O Lord, I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will, for you, O Lord, are my God.
In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.
Extend your mercy to those who know you!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Eastern Church category from September 2010.

Eastern Church: July 2010 is the previous archive.

Eastern Church: October 2010 is the next archive.

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