Tag Archives: Orthodox Church

The saint and his bear: Saint Seraphim of Sarov

St Seraphim of Sarov.jpg

Several years ago I was introduced to the figure of Saint Seraphim of Sarov ((1759-1833). He was a monk, priest, hermit and ascetic. He was known for his wisdom and humanity. In the Orthodox church he held the title of “startsy,” that is, a charismatic elder (in the strict sense of the word) “anointed” by the Holy Spirit with the gifts of prophesy, healing, discernment of God’s will. Saint Seraphim, you might say, was a spiritual father.

There is a story about Saint Seraphim that gives an interesting side to the man. It reads something to this effect,

“Two nuns from a
certain convent once came to visit Saint Seraphim. Suddenly a bear lumbered
unexpectedly out of the woods and frightened the visitors with his appearance.
“Misha,” – said the saint, – “why do you frighten the poor orphans! Go back and
bring us a treat, otherwise I have nothing to offer to my guests.” Hearing
these words, the bear went back into the woods, and two hours later he tumbled
into the holy elder’s cell and gave him something covered with leaves. It was a
fresh honeycomb of purest honey. Father Seraphim took a piece of bread from his
bag, gave it to the bear, pointed to the door – and the bear left immediately.”

I wonder if Saint Seraphim is invoked by those who have troubled bears? I am sure his guidance would be helpful.

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New Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch elected

John Yaziji.jpgThe Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch elected a new patriarch, His Eminence, Metropolitan Archbishop of Europe, John Yazigi, 57. He will be known as John X.

The special synod of 18 bishops gathered for the election following the death of Patriarch Ignatius IV who died on December 5; the synod met at the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Patriarch John was born in 1955 to a Syrian father and Lebanese mother in family of six children. His brother Paul is the Metropolitan of Allepo and his sister is a nun.
Patriarch John X is an Athonite monk ordained a deacon in 1979, a priest in 1983 and a bishop in 1995. In 2008, he was elected to pastoral service in Europe. His education includes degrees in civil engineering, theology, liturgy and music. His skill as an administrator can be seen in his work as Dean of the School of Theology at Balamand twice. John is known to be an exceptional pastor with competencies in the sacred Liturgy and Music; he’s a published author and popular speaker.
Blessings on Patriarch John!

Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim, 91, RIP

Ignatius IV Hazim .jpgGreek Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim, 91, died today, Wednesday, at a Beirut hospital after suffering a stroke a day earlier.


Born in the village of Mhardey near Hama in Syria in 1921, Habib Hazim was the son of an Arab Greek Orthodox family and was attracted to ecclesial ministry early in life. After finishing school in Hama, Hazim moved to Beirut where he studied literature and started serving the Orthodox Church in Lebanon.


 Hazim helped found the global Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations and he became a bishop in 1961 and in 1970 he was elected Orthodox Metropolitan of the Syrian city of Latakia, a coastal city. Hazim was elected Greek Orthodox
Patriarch of  Antioch and all the East in 1979, succeeding Patriarch Elias IV. The Patriarch of Antioch is the third most important See after the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria.


Eternal Memory.

Remembering the Future…John Zizioulas’ new book

A new book is available from the eminent theologian and bishop, John Zizioulas, Remembering the Future: An Eschatological Ontology (T&T Clark International, Continuum, 2013). I very much enjoy the thinking and the challenge of Zizioulas.

From the publisher…

Remembering the Future An Eschatological Ontology Zizioulas.jpgThe predominating concept in theological ontology is
that of a protological ontology which defines being itself as being defined by
the past. The future of things in this perspective is defined by its origins
and the “given” or the “factum”. In this major new book
John Zizioulas shows that eschatology can have important implications for
ontology, i.e. for being itself. The world was created with a purpose and the
end which would be greater than the beginning. This is the view of the Fathers,
such as Irenaeus and Maximus, who made the end the “cause of all
being”. The implications of such an idea are revolutionary, both
historically and experientially. It represents a reversal of the ancient
philosophical idea of causality as well as of our common sense rationality,
according to which the cause precedes chronologically as well as logically. It
is the opposite of protological ontology, which makes the past decisive for the
future. Eschatological ontology, therefore, is about the liberation of being
from necessity, it is about the formation of being. Man and the world are no
longer imprisoned in their past, in sin, decay and death. The past is
ontologically affirmed only in so far as it contributes to the end, to the
coming of the kingdom. The eschaton will ‘judge’ history with this criterion
alone. The last judgment as part of the eschaton represents an ontological, not
a moral event. Zizioulas shows how this eschatological ontology permeates
Christian doctrine, particularly that of creation and ecclesiology. He also
points out some of its ethical implications.


John Zizioulas, Metro.jpg

John D. Zizioulas, 81,
Metropolitan of Pergamon, was Professor of Systematic Theology at the
University of Glasgow and Visiting Professor at King’s College, London. His
thinking is widely respected across confessional lines. The key points of his
thinking, I believe, are freedom (human and divine), ontology and otherness (personhood),
communion theology, one and the many, and the contours of Christian unity.
Zizioulas is the author at least 8 books and numerous articles. He is the
Orthodox voice in ecumenical discussions especially between Rome and
Constantinople. Since 1986 John Zizioulas has been a bishop.
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More Pentecost to celebrate

pentecost feast.jpg

The Roman Church celebrated Pentecost last weekend thus concluding the Easter season. This weekend the same Church observes the feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

Also this weekend, our Orthodox sisters and brothers are celebrating the Coming of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-4).

Let us beg for the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

You may read more about the Spirit’s feast here.

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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