Category Archives: Eastern Church

Conception of Saint the Baptist

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)


Birth of John the Baptist, TINTORETTO,jpg.jpg

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 Francis Mansour Zayek, RIP

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 fate of Eastern Christianity to be discussed in October; but what about now?

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.

Liturgical New Year for the Byzantine Church

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!

Fr Robert Taft advocates ecumenical scholarship & theology as a new approach to restore communion among the churches of East and West

taft.jpgThe
Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should own up to their
past misdeeds and work to restore communion, according to Archimandrite Robert F.
Taft, SJ.

Fr. Taft, a Jesuit priest of the New England Province and professor emeritus of the history of Byzantine Liturgy at the Pontifical
Oriental Institute in Rome, said that the rift between the churches was
sustained primarily by offensive actions–not theological differences.
He delivered “Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations
Today,” on June 28 at Fordham University.

“The main problem that we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical
dialogue is not doctrine but behavior,” Fr. Taft said. “The issue is
not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and
live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way. The problem is
that we do not know how to act.”

He
pointed to Catholic “uniatism”–aggression against another church–as a
major problem blocking fruitful dialogue between the religions. He
added that although the Orthodox faith has been victimized, it also
refuses to admit its own misdeeds.

Fr. Taft advocated a system of “ecumenical scholarship and theology”–a
new way to study Christian tradition that seeks to reconcile and unite,
rather than to confute and dominate. To accomplish this, the Catholic
and Orthodox churches must recognize one another as historic apostolic
sister churches, he said.

The
point of this new ecumenical theology is not that Catholics and
Orthodox never disagree. “What it does mean, is that at the official
level, disagreements can be discussed truthfully and courteously,
without invective, rudeness, and slander,” Fr. Taft said. [Fordham
University]

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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