Eastern Church: November 2012 Archives

I love the Syriac tradition of liturgical theology. Often I find it a far more satisfying liturgical tradition than the Latin church craziness I face. It is Semitic, very biblical and rich in humanity. I recommend that you immerse yourself in the poetry of Saint Ephrem, deacon and Doctor of the Church.

The Maronite Church is one of whose heritage is West Syrian theologically; historically it's rooted in the mountains of Lebanon. Their Advent Season has already begun with what is called the Season of Announcements (follow this link for more info on the season). This past Sunday was the Announcement to Mary. This coming weekend the Maronites will celebrate the Visitation of Elizabeth.

Father Steven Bonian, SJ, writes frequently on the sacred Liturgy of the West Syrian Church, the Maronites. See how he connects the Creator, creation and the Liturgy; the image of the Garden is key here for us Christians who are seeking salvation, that is, to dwell again in the Garden of Eden. 

Father Bonian said about the Sunday of Mary's Announcement:

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Today, the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians (3:15-22), reminds us of how the promise made to Abraham is now being fulfilled through those who believe; those who live by the Law and the Torah of the heart through righteousness. To such as these --like Mary-- is the gift of God and his promise handed down through his angels. The Gospel of Luke makes it clear that Mary is the righteous one who has gained the favor of God, and thus, inherited this Gift (Christ) and the Promise (Salvation).

In the Gospel-Icon of Mary and the Angel drawn for us by Saint Luke, and framed for us in this Sunday's prayers --in the context of the relationship of the creator with his creation --the mountains, the earth, the sea, and the waves are rejoicing in God's Word! Mary herself has become the New Earth (as Saint Ephrem would teach us) and true representative for all of God's creation. The Son of God comes to dwell in her, and through her God has returned to live --as in Paradise-- in the midst of his creation. Now in Mary, the new covenant, and God's plan of salvation is being fulfilled. She has become the Cloud, the Pure Womb, the Fountain of Life and Blessings!

Saint Josaphat Kuncevyc

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St. Josaphat, Ukrainian bp.jpgToday, with the feast of Saint Josaphat (c. 1580-1623), we ought to mourn the sad division of the Church that exists between East and West.

The Church prays,

Stir up in your Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat as he laid down his life for the sheep, so that through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not be afraid to lay down our life for others.

Notice that the prayer calls to our attention that we too, are called to be witnesses to the work of unity, even to the point of laying down our lives for others. Here the use of the word 'witness' is used in two ways: giving testimony by word and deed and dying, if need be, with our own lives. Here's the dual meaning of the martyr (witness).
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Being really Catholic opens one's point of view to a great richness of the entire Church, East and West; being Catholic as John Paul II reminded us, is to breath with both lungs to invigorate the whole body. Most often Latin Catholics are too skeptical, too closed-minded to look beyond their parochial understanding of God and Church.

Each Sunday Jesuit Father Steve Bonian, a Maronite Catholic American priest reflects on the liturgical theology of his church. If you done a little reading in the liturgical history of the Church you will recall with joy that the Maronites have an incredibly rich liturgical tradition that ought to be appreciated more. For one thing the Maronite Liturgy is wonderfully Semitic in its pattern of prayer.

The Maronite Church, the majority of Catholics from Lebanon, celebrated yesterday the Sunday of the Consecration of the Church. The Roman Church does not have an equivalent liturgical observance, unless you make a connection with the Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of the Roman Church's year.  The Maronite liturgical theology for the Sunday of the Consecration of the Church you note that "the Bride-Church re-consecrates herself and her children, the faithful, to Christ."

Father Bonian writes,


The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that the Temple in Jerusalem and it's rituals was only a temporal preparation for the "new order" that would be established between Christ and his Church and her children.

From now on the Children of God would worship him in Spirit and Truth on earth as in the Heavenly Jerusalem. For it is not God's will to dwell among stones, but in the caring hearts of his faithful people, and among them to establish his Kingdom. Our Church Community is this New Temple!

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boy and acting pope.jpegThe electors, nearly 2,406 people, in the Coptic Orthodox Church selected the 118th successor to Saint Mark, Tawadros II. The new pope is the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa. Until now, Tawadros has been an auxiliary bishop to the Archbishop Pachomius who's been serving as the acting pope. Tawadros studied pharmaceutical sciences and was ordained a bishop in 1997. 

Bishop Tawadros received 1623 votes, or about 25% of the votes.

Each of the electors, asking God to provide for them a good shepherd, were blindfold in casting their ballot for three of five previously vetted candidates. The three names were placed in a ceremonial box, then the Divine Liturgy was celebrated before a blindfolded child selected one of the three names to be the next pope. The new pope succeeds Pope Shenounda III who died at the age of 88 in March, after serving since 1971.

Pope Tawadros II, 60, will be installed on November 18.

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Christians in Egypt number about 10% of the 83 million population. The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Christian Church in Egypt.

So far, the key Muslim groups have offered their hands in friendship upon Pope Tawadros announcement.

Vatican Radio has an informative piece to read and to listen.

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 November 2012.

Eastern Church: August 2012 is the previous archive.

Eastern Church: December 2012 is the next archive.

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