Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Miriam Teresa Demjanovich –an American blessed

Miriam TeresaToday, the Catholic Church in America witnessed the beatification of a woman Sr. Miriam Teresa –the fourth American-born woman to be beatified. This is the first time a beatification ceremony happened in the USA. The Mass and rite was offered by Cardinal Angelo Amato in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ.

Interesting, our new blessed was a member of the Eastern Catholic Church in the United States. She was a member, however, of a religious order of the Latin Church, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth. Her feast day is May 8. The Blessed’s book, Greater Perfection, published after her death remains germane to those interested in the spiritual life.

The Vatican Radio interview with Bishop Kurt Burnette (eparchial bishop of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passaic) notes very well the importance of Blessed Miriam Teresa for us: her understanding of the sacrament of Baptism, her teaching on prayer, her desire to be of complete service to the Triune God. As the bishop says, Americans are known for their activism; and the other American blesseds and saints are known for their activity in building up the Mystical Body of Christ –the Church, but her God has chosen to raise up for us a model of holiness who is a contemplative.

“Bishop Burnette reflected on the impact of her legacy on Eastern and Western spirituality.

“One of the remarkable things about her writings, I believe, is that she brings an Eastern Christian spirit of unity into the Western analysis. The Western theology tends to be analytical. For example, when she talks about prayer, in the West they had divided prayer up into three stages. What they called the purgative, the illuminative and the unitive. But Sr. Miriam Teresa claims that prayer always includes all three parts.”

Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Sr. Miriam Therese when a young boy who lost his eyesight due to macular degeneration was cured after prayers through her intercession. For Bishop Burnette, this miracle along with her profound humility, spirituality and insight are clear signs of God’s confirmation of her sanctity. “I don’t believe we really choose who is going to be canonized, God does,” he concluded.

Is the Church confused?

The title of this blog post is a very broad and provocative question. But what do I mean by it? Well, when we think of the universal Church, her catholicity in the widest sense possible, you will experience division, feel a lack of cohesion and yet we profess faith in one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, even share in fact that we have a valid priesthood and the sacraments (mysteries, as Eastern Christianity calls them) but truly unity lacks –and I am only indicating a local context for the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Andrew Stephen Damick, an Orthodox priest, wrote a superb article for First Things online, titled, “Are you Greek?  He writes as having not been raised as cradle Orthodox person but as a convert and as a priest struggling with the question of Christian unity from within his own ecclesial context. I highly recommend the article because he raises the identity question in a way that makes sense. We want a less confused, a more united Church where discipleship is not the object of human manipulation.

 

Vigil for Persecuted Christians at Quinnipiac

Hvizdak --the ZinnsHere is a photo essay for Persecuted Christians at Quinnipiac University that happened last evening (17 September 2014).

A friend sung Psalm 129 in Gregorian notation as the candles were lit; other liturgical pieces were sung in Greek, Arabic, and Aramaic chants. Likewise, the Gospel (“Blessed are the peacemakers…”) was sung and proclaimed in the various languages. Dominican Father Jordan Lenaghan, Catholic Chaplain, organized Christians in prayer from various Churches with the presence of the University Rabbi and other officials, for our brothers and sisters facing persecution in the Middle East. About 100 people attended. A large turn-out of students and concerned Christians attended.

Patriarchs Gregory and John meet

Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchs 2014The annual Synod of Bishops of the Melkite Church just finished meeting. The Melkite bishops from around the world meet together each year for some time in prayer, discussions on theology, liturgy, canonical process and the election of bishops. This year the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, John X, met with Melkite Patriarch Gregory III –a historic meeting.

The Melkites in the USA are governed by Bishop Nicholas J. Samra (of the Eparchy of Newton) and the Antiochian Orthodox Church is awaiting a new head of church since their Metropolitan Philip Saliba died not long ago. The new metropolitan is expected to be announced late next week.

Melkite Synod 2014 meeting with Patriarch JohnSaint Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.

Francis meets Aram

Francis and AramIn these days approaching Pentecost Sunday, we ought to set our eyes on the coming of the Holy Spirit. I find it striking in these days leading up to the great feast of the Pentecost that there have been many meetings between the Bishop of Rome and those bishops of Eastern Christianity. These meetings happen but so many so close together…and today is no different.

In Rome, Pope Francis met with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia. Aram is well-known among the various Christian bodies who work in the World Council of Churches but also in the Middle East Council of Churches. Few of the patriarchs have as personally as Aram have made lasting contributions  in the ongoing work of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Remember, the Oriental Churches are those who historically didn’t share the accepted Chalcedonian Christology (Coptic, Armenian, Church of the East, etc.)

Aram blessing with relicIn the Vatican press we read that Pope Francis noted how he –and the Church of Rome– considers the Armenian Church and the Catholicos Aram I as “a part of the Christian world that is irrevocably marked by a history of trials and sufferings courageously accepted for the love of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people; it has experienced in a singular way what it means to journey towards the Kingdom of God. The history of emigration, persecutions and the martyrdom experienced by so many of the faithful has inflicted deep wounds on the hearts of all Armenians. We must see and venerate these as wounds inflicted on the very body of Christ, and for this very reason a cause for unfailing hope and trust in the provident mercy of the Father”.

Philippa Hitchen and Aram“In these days before Pentecost … in faith, let us invoke the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, that he may renew the face of the earth, be a source of healing for our wounded world, and reconcile the hearts of all men and women with God the Creator. May He, the Paraclete, inspire our journey towards unity. May He teach us to strengthen the fraternal bonds which even now unite us in the one baptism and in the one faith.”

Here is Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Aram. 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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