Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Basil M. Schott, OFM, Ruthenian metropolitan archbishop RIP

BM Schott.jpgAfter struggling with Leukemia Metropolitan Basil Myron Schott, OFM, died this morning. He was 71. I have fond memories of meeting the archbishop and always found him to be a kind and holy man.

Since 2002, Archbishop Basil was the head of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church in the USA.

May his memory be eternal.
The funeral arrangements for His Eminence, Metropolitan Basil, Schott funeral arrangements.pdf.
A glimpse into the Metropolitan’s life here and here.
A Pittsburgh Tribune Obit is posted here.

Saint Ephrem the Syrian

saint-ephrem2.gifIt is indeed fitting to honor the blessed deacon of
Edessa for his desire that the preaching of the divine word and the training of
his disciples rest on the purity of Sacred Scripture. He also acquired honor as
a Christian musician and poet. He was so accomplished in both arts that he was
called the “lyre of the Holy Spirit.” From this, Venerable Brothers,
you can learn what arts promote the knowledge of sacred things. Ephrem lived
among people whose nature was attracted by the sweetness of poetry and music.
The heretics of the second century after Christ used these same allurements to
skillfully disseminate their errors. Therefore Ephrem, like youthful David
killing the giant Goliath with his own sword, opposed art with art and clothed
Catholic doctrine in melody and rhythm. These he diligently taught to boys and
girls, so that eventually all the people learned them. In this fashion he not
only renewed the education of the faithful in Christian doctrine and supported
their piety with the spirit of the sacred liturgy, but also happily kept
creeping heresy at bay.


The artistry introduced by Blessed Ephrem added dignity
to sacred matters as Theodoretus stresses. The metric rhythm, which our saint
popularized, was widely propagated both among the Greeks and the Latins. Indeed
does it seem probable that the liturgical antiphonary with its songs and
processions, introduced at Constantinople in the works of Chrysostom and at
Milan by Ambrose (whence it spread throughout all of Italy), was the work of
some other author? For the “custom of Eastern rhythm” deeply moved
the catechumen Augustine in northern Italy; Gregory the Great improved it and
we use it in a more advanced form. Critics acknowledge that that “same
Eastern rhythm” had it origins in Ephrem’s Syrian antiphonary.

It is no
wonder then that many of the Fathers of the Church stress the authority of St.
Ephrem. Nyssenus says of his writings, “Studying the Old and New
Scriptures most thoroughly, he interpreted them accurately, word for word; and
what was hidden and concealed, from the very creation of the world to the last
book of grace, he illumined with commentaries, using the light of the
Spirit.” And Chrysostom: “The great Ephrem is scourge of the
slothful, consoler of the afflicted, educator, instructor and exhorter of
youth, mirror of monks, leader of penitents, goad and sting of heretics,
reservoir of virtues, and the home and lodging of the Holy Spirit.” Certainly
nothing greater can be said in praise of a man who, however, seemed so small in
his own eyes that he claimed to be the least of all and a most vile sinner”
(12-14).

Pope Benedict XV

Principi
Apostolorum Pet
ro (On St. Ephrem the Syrian), 5 October 1920

Fr Ragheed Aziz Ganni: 3rd anniversary of death

ragheed.jpgJune 3rd is quickly becoming a date that most Christians will not forget too easily: 1) the liturgical memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga, 19th century African martyrs; 2) the death of Blessed Pope John XXIII; 3) the murder of Father Ragheed and his companions; and now 3) the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, OFM Cap.

Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni’s death with the three subdeacons is still a rather moving memory for me, not just on the anniversary but throughout the year when thinking of the plight of the Eastern churches. But why? Because he could’ve gone the other way, avoided the situation of his people and saved his life. Instead he confronted evil head-on with courage. Like other things one remembers, the deaths of people who unknowingly become incredible, beautiful witnesses to the Presence of Christ right now (not some time ago).
Father Ragheed was a Catholic priest of the Chaldean Church in the Diocese of Mosul. Ganni was ordained a priest October 13, 2001. He was 35 years old, a young priest, and a collaborator in Truth for the Kingdom of God. He was convinced in the beauty of God’s Word and His enduring Presence in the world and that we ought not to be scared away.
More on Father Ragheed can be read here.

Pontifical Oriental Institute gets new rector: James M. McCann

Jesuit Father James McCann has been named Rector of the
Pontifical Oriental Institute by Pope Benedict XVI. Father McCann will assume
his duties in Rome in September of 2010. His academic and ecclesial
administration coupled with his expertise in Eastern churches and society (the
focus of the Pontifical Oriental Institute) makes this appointment easy to
understand why he’s a good choice. He’ll be fresh air to the Oriental Institute
like his immediate predecessor did prior to be named an archbishop-secretary
for the Vatican office for Eastern churches last year.

The Pontifical Oriental Institute was founded by Pope Benedict XV in 1917 as a center for higher studies in Eastern Christianity.

Read Father McCann’s bio here: New PIO Rector.pdf

Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík dead at 91

Tomáš Špidlík.jpgThe staff of the Centro Aletti with faith in the life-giving power of the Lord’s Resurrection announced the death of Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík Friday, 16 April 2010 at 9 pm.


The In making their announcement the staff of the Centro Aletti expressed their gratitude to God for the Cardinal’s many years through his gift of paternity and wisdom. They ask that all of us to be united in prayer to accompany the Cardinal’s soul to his ultimate and definitive passage to eternal life.

The Cardinal’s wake will be at the Centro Aletti until Monday, April 19. On Tuesday, April 20 the Mass of Christian Burial will take place at the Vatican Basilica at 11:30 am celebrated by Angelo Cardinal Sodano with the Holy Father concluding the Liturgy with a homily and the prayers of final commendation.

Tomáš Špidlík arms.jpg

Let us pray.

By Thy resurrection from the dead, O Christ, death no longer has dominion over those who die in holiness. So, we beseech Thee, give rest to Thy servant Tomáš in Thy sanctuary and in Abraham’s bosom. Grant it to those, who from Adam until now have adored Thee with purity, to our fathers and mothers, to our kinsmen and friends, to all men who have lived by faith and passed on their road to Thee, by a thousand ways, and in all conditions, and make them worthy of the heavenly kingdom.

The Holy Father’s telegram to the superior general of the Society Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, reads:

“The pious demise of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, distinguished Jesuit and zealous servant of the Gospel, has aroused deep commotion in my heart. It is with profound gratitude that I recall his solid faith, his paternal affability and his intense cultural and ecclesial labours, especially as an authoritative expert on Eastern Christian spirituality. I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that, by the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and St. Ignatius of Loyola, He may give the deceased cardinal the eternal prize promised to His faithful disciples. And to you, to the Society of Jesus, and to everyone who knew him and appreciated his gifts of mind and heart, I send a heartfelt and comforting apostolic blessing.

We give thanks to the Lord for blessing us with this wise and holy priest and cardinal!

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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