Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Saint Sharbel Makhlouf

St Sharbel.jpgEvery one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.

God our Father in Saint Sharbel Makhluf, You gave a light to Your faithful people. You made him a pastor of the Church to feed Your sheep with his word and to teach them by his example. Help us by his prayers to keep the faith he taught and follow the way of life he showed us.


Saint Sharbel Makhlouf (1828-1898) was born in a small Lebanese mountain village who became, at 23 years old, a monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order and later ordained a priest in 1859. He is known for his intense devotion to lectio divina, the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sensing a deeper call in 1875, he began a solitary life (as a hermit) which he lived for twenty-three years of his life. Sharbel’s witness taught us about the virtues of poverty, self-sacrifice, and prayer in world dominated by an attraction to money, power and fame. Since July 24, 2004 Saint Sharbel has been introduced the liturgical observance in the sacred Liturgy.

Archbishop Francis M. Zayek said of Saint Sharbel:

“Reading about the holy hermits of the desert, we used to consider many reported facts as mere fables. In the life of Blessed Sharbel, however, we notice that these facts are authentic and true. Blessed Sharbel is another Saint Anthony of the Desert, or Saint Pachomius, or Saint Paul the Anchorite. It is marvelous to observe how you, Maronites, have preserved the same spirituality of the fathers of the desert throughout the centuries, and at the end of the nineteenth century, 1500 years later, produced a Sharbel for the Church.”

(The icon was painted by iconographer Christine Habib el DayĆ©. Other pieces of the artist’s work can be seen here and she can also be found on Facebook.)

Patriarchs meet: Moscow visits Constantinople

Kyrill & Bartholomew.jpgWonderful news: Moscow’s Patriarch Kyril visited Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. This is Kyril’s first foreign trip since being elected Patriarch of Moscow in January 2009.

Why is this event important? Past tensions and subsequent lack of cooperation between the two Sees have stunted the fruitful proclamation of the Gospel. Unity suffered. Also, as the Asia News headline indicates, the gesture of the two patriarchs’ meeting opens the possibility significant dialogue with the See of Rome.
The homilies of each patriarch was a stunning example of grace at work. Content could not be out done but the promise of the Halki’s school of theology on the part of the Turkish government is impressive. I pray that it comes about.
The story of the historic visit is reported by Asia News.

Cyril Vasil: the new secretary for the Congregation of Eastern Churches

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Great News! Today, the Holy Father nominated Reverend Father
Cyril Vasil, SJ, until now the rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, as
the Secretary to the Congregation for Eastern Churches, raising him to the
dignity of archbishop.

Archbishop-elect Cyril Vasil was born in 1965 (in Slovakia),
ordained a priest in 1987, entered the Society of Jesus in 1990 taking solemn
vows in 2001. In 1994 he earned a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical
Oriental Institute. He has a working knowledge of 11 languages.

In 2002, Cyril Vasil was elected dean of the faculty of
Oriental Canon Law and in 2007 he was named rector of the Pontifical Oriental
Institute. He is the first rector of the PIO to be of the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Among his responsibilities for the Church he is a consultor
for the Congregations of Eastern Churches, Doctrine of the Faith and Pastoral
Care of Migrants. Moreover, he was an expert for the 2005 Synod of Bishops on
the Eucharist. And he’s been active in the International Union of Scouts of
Europe being named a spiritual advisor in 2003.

I can say that this is an excellent choice for the Church: he’s
affable and competent. With Archbishop Vasil’s appointment there are now two Jesuits in prominent positions in the Roman Curia, both are archbishop secretaries. It is also interesting to note that the new archbishop is the first in history working as a Vatican official to be the son of a married Catholic priest of Slovak Greek-Catholic Church, the vast majority of whose clergy are married family men in accord with the age-old (and fully salutary) tradition in the Byzantine East, Catholic and Orthodox. His father, Michael, was ordained by Blessed Vasil Hopko.

Orthodox Pascha 2009

Communion Tuzla, Boznia.jpgHappy Easter to our Eastern brothers and sisters! May the risen Lord lead all of us to greater freedom through His mercy.

Thumbnail image for Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos III.jpg

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Ignace Joseph III enthroned as new Syrian Catholic Patriarch

The new Syrian Patriarch, Ignace Joseph III Younan, elected on January 22nd was  enthroned on February 15th in Beirut. The story of the event is here and here. It is interesting to note the theological and liturgical differences between Western & Eastern Catholics. The Patriarch was enthroned, not installed. The proper term is enthroned; one installs computer software and a new dishwasher, not a bishop. To enthrone a bishop means that he is led to his chair and seated. Of course there’s more to the rite but that’s it essentially. Worldwide the Syrian Catholics number about 200, 000.

Lori Cathedra.jpgThe point of this note isn’t the size of a bishop’s chair as it was to draw attention to a new Eastern Catholic Patriarch. That said, for some, parsing the difference between enthronement vs. installation may be overly picky. The liturgical theology of the Church says that bishops sit on cathedras (substantial looking chairs), not thrones even if some look more like thrones than mere a big chair. That some bishops may look like plenipotentiaries, even act like them, they’re not. But to say that a bishop is led to a choir stall, like an abbot is upon his election, is not quiet correct either. How long has the word “installation” been used to denote the act of inaugurating a bishop’s ministry? I think some people who claim to be liturgists tend to force a new agenda on the Church using inaccurate jargon. But I defer to a great authority.

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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