Friday, July 30, 2010

Miracles Among Us: Are There Christians

There is so much division, so much animosity among the faithful each proclaim rights, entitlements and grievances. With so much back biting and double-mindedness it is unbelievable we should find any stability. We have no blessed assurance, certainly not. We have blame for every charge we can make; name-calling, creating new categories and subcategories finding new ways to demean one another. There are the canonical anomolies, immoral behavior of other groups, the ethical decline of anothers and the calls to arms of novices. We are one church united in Christ where people who were riddled with death rise and we are bickering which amounts to the reduction and debasing of ourselves merely hosing down the floor with testosterone. Let's all pray for proper communication, let's be charitable to one another and keep our peace: shaking the dust from our shoes.
For all you runners: the latenight treadmill run was great I got a tempo run in. What was a stumbling block yesterday turned to a stepping stone today. Week two pre-season is almost through good work. Spend more time praying for those who have no one to love them for captives and their salvation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fuel for the Run:subversive agenda

I am more determined then ever. There is a real subversive agenda of paramount significance brewing beneath the veil of integration, assimilation and unity. There is an acculturation a revisionist understanding of history and of interpretation of orthodox Christians in the United States. It is as if there is some parallel universe where we all wake up and find the Reformed Baptists are the keepers of the faith. The qualified acceptance of the autocephaly of the OCA is a precursor to the ridiculous notion of an American Patriarchate. Those crafting such agendas are biding their time, indoctrinating converts and our children; until such time as the provisional status somehow will cease to matter. It is of consequence. These progressive American Orthodox Christians  put American before Orthodox. They somehow irrationally seek to discredit or diminish the role of the EP therfore unknowingly cut off any hope for legitimacy. Here's a Biblical reference for all you Bible belching heterics or niave converts: Paul dismissed, rebuked and discounted those who he deemed disloyal or unworthy. Was he a papist? You can't back currency by burying the gold; you back the currency with the gold standard. You must keep a watchful eye for these borderline heretical postures. Why does the Ecumenical Patriarchate ignite such frenzied anger. What has the that man or the office done to harm you?  When has he stamped out your civil liberty or liturgical expression?  In orthodoxy there are no 'beside the points'; jurisdiction is relevant, highly relevant. Established through holy order: a manner of procedure and the non-negotiable apostolic succession. We will not allow modern theologists, theologians, iconologists, professors, modern-day missionaries or iconographers trample the tradition or protocol. If you want full diptych representation then bend your pride and yield your will to the Holy See. FYI we get the distinction between pope and Ecumenical Patriarch if you fail to it is because of your misunderstanding and residual resentment of religious orders.

Gus Bilirakis, Shelley Berkley Turkey on U.S Watch List

Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) focused on the lack of religious freedom in Turkey stating, “The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom has listed Turkey on its watch list the last two years. In its April 2010 report that documented the persecution of minority religions in Turkey.” Rep. Bilirakis went on to note that “both the Greek and Armenian churches are not allowed train clergy, I think as you know, in Turkey.” He then asked: “When will religious tolerance become a reality in Turkey, in your opinion?” Panel responses were varied, with Dr. Rubin stating, tersely, “Shortly before Saudi Arabia gets religious freedom.”
Rep. Shelley Berkley shared a long array of concerns beginning with Turkey’s relationship with Israel and Iran. “Add that to the refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, the continuous and ever more lethal incursions into neighboring Kurdistan, the treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the extraordinary gall for criticizing Israel when they themselves have occupied Cyprus for 36 years, it’s become increasingly evident to me that we need to take a hard look at our relationship with Turkey, reassess whether it is in our continuing national interest to continue it, whether they, in fact, have our interests in mind and whether they can continue to be thought of as truly reliable allies.”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Forest is Running: Go Gump Go

I set my course for the open road despite the insane heat and humidity. Essential to convey the setting for Gump's (my) adventure you seem to sweat for only the first half a mile then you are just covered in wet. You even sweat between your fingers and the tips seem to prune. I decided against the air conditioning and convenience of my treadmill because going the distance becomes challenging. I required a more deliberate action. When you hit the pavement and go out you are committed. On the road distractions abound as does inspiration. The cloud coverage was amazing. Florida may be flat but we have mountains of clouds: cumulus nimbus upon a strata of yet more tie-died colored  'landscape'.  Xena took the run with me. The 3 foot lead connected to my belt is the best way to keep her controlled and safe;  while keeping my gait as natural as possible, as my hands-free set-up allows. Every time I lace up she begs to go out; when I run on the treadmill she lays beside it dejected and seeminngly jilted.

facebook, friends, poachers, penpals Oh My

I think facebook can be a complete waste of time, where most adults behave like adolescent teens. It can also be an extreme danger for young people who fail to distinguish between reality and the virtual world. They don't yet understand the long term consequences for indiscretion and obvious predator dangers.
However if weeded through the jungle of junk it is a valuable tool. I have connected with strangers or people once unknown to me and now we are in fact having a genuine exchange which is fully authentic. It is the modern pen pal scenerio.  I am afforded the ability to connect with individuals who are worlds away, where the realistic logistics of communication would be virtually impossible; especially noting my spiritual fathers and brothers in Constantinople and across the United States and Europe.
As for the online discussions broaching anything scholarly is hardly visible. What is painfully obvious is the hostility and what people are knowingly willing to inject into a discussion and how real their intentions are shown. For many who visit extreme blogs or websites which profess deeper understanding and are experienced in slander and character assassination, facebook can be a great equalizer giving many a voice and preview.
Too often on dedicated websites like AOI or OCL they become like a mob of over zealous and easily roused simple-minded radicals. I prefer to serve on plenaries but they are far-in-between. Too often topics are narrowly defined and preferential treatment is given to clergy and insiders. Additionally, symposiums can be hosted by many who serve their own ends. Someone outspoken and less politically correct as I am  generally not invited. An advantage to social networks is time to research, fact search  and consult before responding to the sometimes outlandish and other times nuanced positions.
Outreach or the appearance of the lack thereof, has been a pitfall or indictment of the GOA and the EP and orthodoxy in general; social networking forums permit those who choose, who may be seeking and who are practicing christians to have access 'a backstage pass' if you will, to clergy, bishops, iconographers, social workers, writers, activists etc. a cross section of the church.
Remember to check and recheck your sources there are wolves pretending to be sheppards, there are heretics poaching the faithful and of course there are true gems to be found.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rebuking the Wrong Mentality

Week Two Pre-season run was less then enthusiastic. I ran on the treadmill around 9.30 p.m. I delayed the inevitable. Yes I could have put off the run until today but that would be feeding the wrong mentality. Sometimes the best time to run is when you don't want to. In doing so, training the mind and bending the will rather then the body. It is during these times good character is formed. The battle most often is with one's determination not ability. So last night that is where I found myself struggling psychologically to just "git er dun". I watched Hannity anything to get my mind off the run itself. I slowed my pace way down to 9.50 min/mile pace so I could run comfortably in recovery mode. Then the conflict of interest quickly surfaced the decision pick up the pace and get to the magical three mile marker or reduce the discomfort and just slow down and go thirty min. I couldn't decide and I continued without resolution altering my pace throughout the run. I ran just 3.20 miles but that is just fine during this portion of strength training and pre-season. I did not to feed resistence preventing a run and resolved to complete the run despite the tempation. That is very useful indeed. The measure of real success is not in the watch it's in the mindset. Reframing "rational emotive therapy" a useful tool.

Monday, July 26, 2010


If you have friended Aocc Vocations on facebook reconsider and remove your link. They are a pack of wolves selling a pack of lies!!!!!!!!!
This is a taste of the poison from their info page. "Greetings and Blessings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for stopping by The American Orthodox Christian Communion's Facebook Vocations page!!! The American Orthodox Christian Communion is seeking to identify men and women who sense a divine Call from our Lord to serve in the ministry of His Church. We are particularly interested to hear from potential postulants in the United States, to serve in the Communion's jurisdiction in the USA, The American Orthodox Christian Communion. Our postulants for Holy Orders span from men and women in mid-career or nearing retirement to younger individuals who have received their "epiclesis" (diving call from the Lord) at an earlier age. Many people have experienced a divine Call to the ministry from their childhood but have been unable to respond until now. Others have been applicants in other, larger, "main-line" churches, but have been rejected due to their orthodox views and convictions. Others have been ordained, but have become orphaned by their bishops. Still others are Protestant ministers seeking Holy Orders in an Orthodox body. If you are interested in exploring the opportunities to serve the Lord in our Archdiocese your first step is to contact our Vocations Director who will gladly assist you. Send him a message right here on Facebook. We truly look forward to hearing from you!"

Team 34220 Pre-season Week In Review

This was the last run of Week One of Pre-season training. I spent time reconsidering my indoor workout environment and reconfigured the space yesterday. I finished organizing the shelves and decided that I would face south, looking out the window, into my wonderful yard; then facing east, to only see a wall of my outdated training photos. I forwent listening to music and decided to watch the Sunday morning news repeats.

The run was not great but it was deliberate. I don’t know if that makes sense to most not runners, but running deliberately gets you started and through many training session. I hope that members of Team 34220 who have embarked on this adventure in the uncharted waters are not overwhelmed with the prospect and those who are well conditioned are not taking too much for granted by skipping sessions. Now is the time we all must build up our cardio endurance and skeleto-muscular strength.

Training is a series of marathons broken up into segments over months to stress the individual mind body and spirit in effect rebuilding the person stronger more determined and driven by the accomplishment. A marathon is a delicate balance of confidence in the process, a willingness to just get it done and not assuming too much. Respect the distance the process. It can rebuild us or tear into every fiber of our being.

It can be a daunting task but approaching each one run at a time recalling the good runs and putting the more difficult runs aside for later use. Later in the training and ultimately later in the course of race day you will use those more challenging moments to pull you through yet again. What is unknown becomes familiar and more manageable and less startling.

I love training because the formula is stupid easy not because it is effortless. I love what it does for my cognition, my focus, my self esteem and the joy which comes from doing what is extraordinary despite personally being unremarkable. It is encouraging to actualize what the human drive can overcome and how a super peak challenge can rewrite a history of failure and uncertainty.
If you don’t run then Start and if you do them join us you will find you are better organized, more productive and energized, You will make healthier food choices and relate to your body as a gift and vehicle for growth. Your spirit will soar as you have hours a week to contemplate in a exhilarating purposeful solitude of prayer. You will approach stress and daily challenges with an outlet and renewed confidence.

Your blood will circulate more efficiently and you will come to understand what you are made of. The distance of the marathon is a challenge for all and it is the place where I found myself my limits and how they actually exceeded my expectations. Glass ceilings we artificially set through family folklore which tell us we can’t is challenged and smashed to smithereens. Parents with one great race you will raise the standard and greatly expand what is possible for your children by your actions through your behavior. They are watching.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fighting Spiritual Cancer 34220 Phanar District

Today was a great spectacular run. There is a tropical storm brewing which meant I actually got to run at 3:00. It was totally overcast and there was a warm, light, zephyr wind that mixed periodically with a cool breeze. People seemed to rush about trying to beat the rain clouds. I relished running in the light rain. My only concern was not killing another ipod with water damage. There was no lightening which made the run completely exhilarating. The anticipatory anxiety has been fading, withdrawing and my apprehension has lost its grip.

Once again I found myself lost to the run it was amazing. The more I run the more I feel the pressure and anxiety of another marathon leave me. I could actually feel the strength in my spirit returning the will to accomplish something difficult. For a few months now the vacillating between approach and avoidant postures about running which has been gut wrenching.
I suppose I had to find out, to know that my personhood, my sense of personal direction and fortitude, was not and is not dependant, on a mile's run. It sure does help shape me up fast it gets honest real quick. You can't fake a run and certainly not training or completing a marathon.  My mind, body and soul sync. I, as do all individuals,  required that self reflective, quiet, introspective down time. I allowed the ebb and flow of training to guide me back and then I had to 'just take the bull by the horns' and do it. Now that I have a cause greater then my own girth, I am driven to do my best. To put my best foot forward as it were.
Now I am spear heading Team 34220, the team-in-training, comprised currently of committed newbie runners and I don't want to let them down.
What makes this endeavor so wonderful is that I get to assist them in discovering their inner strength and personal reslove while banishing their inner demons. I am the most unlikely person to accomplish such a great undertaking. I am so far removed from a gifted athlete or inspiring individual. My only real strength is my determination or obstinence. I essentially lack good sense and despite this I press forward. I am authentically interested in the betterment of the Orthodox community and my loyalty is genuine. The proof is in the pudding. The sheer distance of the marathon (being the great equalizer) can't rightly be marginalized and demonstrates a perserverence and vested interested.  Qualifying times are off the table and completion the only real determination for success.
This testimony not some fained attempt at modesty but to let everyone know the marathon is doable and accessible to most everyone. I am so ordinary it's ridiculous. The only determining for completing training and running race day is your commitment to do so. I have set my course and I will continue my activism by speaking-out in action. I don't want to let my church down.
This is about more then running another marathon, or my private tribute to His All-Holiness as I've done twice before. It's not about setting a PR (personal record). Rather it has everything to do with telling the world: we are out here, we are dedicated and we are relentless. We will not go quietly into the night and submit to oppression or become despondent.
We are united with one spirit, within one group, beneath the banner '34220' (the zip code of the Phanar). Each of us a small point of light, illuminating the nation, with every step, through each training session and on race day.
We are bold and will stay the course, committing to running a marathon, the gold standard for athletic accomplishment. We are perhaps over extending ourselves, in doing so, stepping out in faith to do what we can to raise awareness for the persecuted church. Our Lord is perfected in our weakness. We are in effect proclaiming our devotion to Christian ideals of liberty and truth by telling our neighbors, our families, our politicians, our running groups and our grocers that we too have a cause.
We are fighting a spiritual cancer of indifference.
We are effecting a personal change and challenging others to get involved and become engaged. Let's tell our parish priests and our parish councils to educate fellow believers about the historic martyric see of our Patriarch, the Ecumencial Patriarch.

Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of Turkey

Testimony of Francis J. Ricciardone
Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of Turkey
July 20, 2010
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

“There could be no more powerful modern testimony to Turkey’s historic legacy of religious tolerance than reopening the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Halki Seminary. As Secretary Clinton has said, we have repeatedly and publicly called for the reopening of Halki Seminary and protecting the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and will continue to do so until this is
addressed. If confirmed, I look forward to paying my respects to His All Holiness Bartholomew, more than 10 years since I last had that honor.”
Complete Testimony here:,%20Jr.,%20Hon.%20Francis%20Joseph1.pdf

Kerry, Feingold, Ricciardone, Ecumencial Patriachate

Turning to Turkey, Kerry emphasized Turkey’s “dynamic economy [and] vibrant civil society in a region where, quite frankly, those assets are rare.” He observed that the country has begun asserting its interests in the Middle East and remarked on the importance of the Turkish-Israeli relationship.
Sen. Feingold indicated his concern over actions taken by the Turkish government that threaten the 2000-year-old Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, asking what Ricciardone would do as ambassador to address this problem. Ricciardone indicated that he would visit with the Ecumenical Patriarch, “make representations at the highest levels of the Turkish government, [and] work with the officials and with civil society” on this issue, “as on all other human rights issues.” He stated that he would also engage with other religious minorities in Turkey and “continue to report honestly on the state of that issue and other religious freedom issues.”

Complete coverage at

"Let it Be" Dog Gets Communion Anglican Church!!!!!!!

July 23, 2010

A dog has received communion at an Anglican parish in Toronto. Pets are permitted in the church. “The minister welcomed me and said come up and take communion, and Trapper [the dog] came up with me and the minister gave him communion as well,” said Donald Keith,... the dog’s owner. “Then he bent his head and said a little prayer.”
“I thought it was a nice way to welcome me into the church,” said Mr. Keith, a new member. “99.9% of the people in the church love Trapper, and the kids play with him.”
Following a parishioner’s complaint, the local Anglican bishop decided that Trapper would not receive communion again, though he will continue to be welcome at church.
Peggy Needham, the deputy people’s warden at the parish, told the Toronto Sun that the parish supported Mr. Keith. “The backlash is from just one person. Something happened that won’t happen again. Something our interim priest did spontaneously,” she said. “This person went to the top and e-mailed our bishop to make a fuss and change things,” she added. “But he misjudged our congregation.”See More

Thursday, July 22, 2010

1st Step to Advocating Learn Current Events & Historical Context

REPRINT Reuters 21/7/2010
Turkey has offered citizenship to foreign archbishops to help the next election of the ecumenical patriarch, officials said.
Turkey has offered citizenship to foreign archbishops to help the next election of the ecumenical patriarch, spiritual leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox faithful, officials said.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has quietly led the gesture to the Orthodox, who face a shortage of candidates to succeed Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 70, and serve on the Holy Synod, which administers patriarchate affairs.
Turkish law requires the patriarch to be a citizen. But the Orthodox community in Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim country, has fallen to some 3,000 from 120,000 a half-century ago, drastically shrinking the pool of potential future patriarchs.
“The specific call Erdogan made to give citizenship to those who will take up an official position at the patriarchate came in response to the problems they have,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s chief foreign-policy adviser, said in an interview.
Kalin said the government’s gesture should demonstrate Turkey’s commitment to conform with norms on human rights in its bid to join the European Union.
“This is in line with Turkey’s EU membership goals. But we believe that it’s in our own interest to provide all rights and privileges to non-Muslim minorities who are Turkish citizens.”
Istanbul, the Byzantine capital Constantinople until the 15th-century Ottoman conquest, remains the centre of Orthodox faith. As Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, a Turkish citizen of Greek heritage who is in good health, is spiritual leader for Christianity’s second-largest group of churches.
There are 14 Greek Orthodox archbishops, including Bartholomew, who are Turkish citizens.
Seventeen metropolitans from countries including Austria, France, the United States and Greece have applied for passports, said Rev. Dositheos Anagnostopulous, the patriarchate spokesman.
Another six may still apply, and the See hopes the first archbishops will receive their papers by Christmas, he said.
Diplomats said the offer of citizenship could provide a lifeline for the 2,000-year-old faith in its ancient homeland.
“At this point, it’s just a matter of time before the institution dies out,” said a European diplomat on condition of anonymity. “With this step, you have a much larger pool of clerics, making the Church’s survival possible.”
Erdogan, himself a devout Muslim, personally proposed to Bartholomew during a meeting last year that foreign prelates apply for citizenship, both Kalin and Anagnostopulous said.
Still, Turkey does not recognise Bartholomew’s ecumenical, or universal, title, arguing he only leads Turkey’s Orthodox.
Granting citizenship to bishops would resolve a legal anomaly in the Holy Synod. Members are required to be citizens, but Bartholomew appointed foreigners in 2004 for the first time since the Turkish Republic was formed in 1923.
“It’s not legal or legitimate for these six foreign nationals to serve on the synod but there are not enough Turkish metropolitans,” a Turkish official said, declining to be named.
Metropolitan Nikitas, a U.S.-born member of the synod and director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute in Berkeley, Calif., applied for citizenship earlier this year.
“I chose to pursue this course of action, believing that it is one way I can assist the ecumenical patriarchate,” Nikitas, 55, told Reuters. “I also feel that it may be a ‘good will’ expression on the Turkish side.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

team 34220 pre-season registration & training protest religous freedom abuses

Marathon training isn't about doing what's easy but what is worth while.  I'm asking that if you are registered to run the Disney Marathon please consider joining Team 34220. It will not effect your registration or your individual training work but you will be another voice speaking truth to power; yet another American another Christian running the good race protesting the religious freedom abuses in Turkey.

I'm already designing the gear (clothes, wristbands, shoes laces, water bottles, etc) and have secured the domain which will officially host all team-in-training information. I hope this grows into a well integrated social network of believers, athletes, and religious freedom advocates. There is something for everyone.

What greater joy could there be then to integrate health and wellness with fellowship and service. In case you missed it more information can currently be found at   refer to 34220 tabs.

I'm glad to report that my second run pre-season run is behind me and that my team has grown by 75%. I even added the Disney Half-Marathon for teens!! The heat it pretty exhausting but I have to admit there were some fluid moments.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2011 Walt Disney Marathon and The Ecumenical Patriarchate

My pre-training for the 2011 Walt Disney Marathon has begun. This was my first outing since the humidity rose above 80%. Although I wouldn't be modest by telling it wasn't beautiful or graceful it was the beginning and I will only increase in strength, stamina and improve my form for better efficiency. Thank God that anticipatory anxiety is gone by the waist-side.

As some already are aware I am forming a free of charge, nation-wide, team-in-training. Its purpose is to create a presence of Orthodox Christians in the running community by networking through the Internet nationally and assist local communities begin smaller running groups to bridge the distance and address our individual need for koinonia.

As the team leader I will provide a four day a week beginner training schedule to everyone who is interested to assist beginners to run their first marathon, while inviting veterans to share their experiences. The main function of this forum will be to share Orthodoxy with fellow runners to create a real sense of community and to ultimately raise awareness of the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Well, after this evenings short run (operative word) I just may require a movement to see this through. Please spread the word. For more info or to sign up please visit:  See 34220. The name is not yet 'official' and I am particularly open to suggestions at this juncture. The name has already changed from EPAC (Ecumenical Patriarch Athletic Community) to simply 34220. Those in the know, will know. It is a good conversation starter, without too many words. Afterall we will be running when we tell everyone about our training group/club/organization. For those of you who don't yet know it is the zip code for the Phanar District.

Marathon, 34220 team-in-training: Membership Drive

The marathon is the gold standard for athletic merit or excellence and we will use it to demonstrate our commitment to our church. We will train together in our own cities serving as a witness (martyria).
Through our joint effort our communion (koinonia) we will testify our fatih and commitment to the Mother Church. Simply invite friends and family to take this challenge and experience the spiritual, physical and psychological transformation!
With only few hours a week you can devote yourself to a life changing experience and raise awareness of the orthodox faith. By following your weekly training schedule and journaling your progress and sharing your struggle you will grow in unforseen ways.
By choosing this peak life eperience, the training and completion of a marathon (26.2 miles) you act in faith and rejecting doubt and dispense with folkore which tells you its not possible.
Training workshops like these would cost in the hundreds but this is a free program. 34220 Training Program, an Off The Beaten Path Experience is provided by Ortho Praxis Consultant Angela Damianakis. This high end services has been brought to your door invite me in, tell your friends don't keep this a secret.
Angela is currenlty seeking regional facilitators who can assist participants in your local areas with long runs. If you are interested please notify Ortho Praxis Consulting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Orthopraxis Consulting 34220 team-in-training

Orthopraxis Consulting now providing an athletic team in training. We cross geographical boundaries by offering web support and race day support. Angela takes her bold, no excuse approach to the road. Join her in training FREE. By following her training plan you will get to race day! You will apply what you learn to your daily living. This training group 34220 an Ecumenical Patriarch Athletic Community hopes to raise awareness for the Ecumenical Patriarch to further its cause for religious freedom.

Angela does not profit in any way from this training group. It is an expression of her loyalty and dedication to the Mother Church and to human rights. There will be a full line of running gear for members to order and of course I hope everyone will show up race day sporting their team gear. A full line will be featured soon as logo design, style and colors are currently being designed. Our first event will be the Disney Marathon 2011. This is a great venue and is very family friendly. Official training begins September. Training schedule will be provided for all fitness levels. Make the commitment to yourself, your church your Patriarch.

Please contact me for more information and details about training groups in your local area.

Additional races distances and locations can be added based on interest.
Without challenge there can be little meaningful and intelligent change. Challenge yourself by embarking on this journey. Let's raise awareness about Orthodoxy and the current oppression of the Mother Church. All journeys begin with a single step. This grassroots effort begins with you making the first simple and practical steps. 34220 services are available to all Orthodox Christians.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shout Out: Happy Birthday to Euphemia's Nouno!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God grant you many years,
God grant you many years,
God grant you many, many, many years!!!!!

Finding Time For God and Pray: Ascribed to St Pachomius

With minimal effort and a basic desire these short prayers are easily put to memory. Find ten minutes at least once a day and SEE. Do we really put God first?

In the name of the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (Three times)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name's sake.

Lord have mercy. (Three times)

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.

Lord, Have mercy. (Twelve times)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O come, let us worship God our King.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.

Psalm 50
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee only have I sinned and done this evil before Thee, that Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, and prevail when Thou art judged. For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me. For behold, Thou hast loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom hast Thou made manifest unto me. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones that be humbled, they shall rejoice. Turn Thy face away from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy governing Spirit establish me. I shall teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto Thee. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; my tongue shall rejoice in Thy righteousness. O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise. For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole-burnt offerings Thou shalt not be pleased. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise. Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure unto Zion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be builded. Then shalt Thou be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings. Then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.

The Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life; Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets. In One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the age to come. Amen.

The Jesus Prayer:
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (100 times)

It is truly meet to bless thee, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most blameless, and Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify. (Three times)

Virgin Theotokos, rejoice! Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb; for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls. (Three times)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Lord, have mercy. (Three times)

O Lord, Bless.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Thy most pure Mother, of our holy and God-bearing fathers, and all the saints, have mercy on us and save us, for Thou art good and the Lover of mankind. Amen.

OCA Parish Planting Flies In The Face of Multi-jurisdictional Concerns

This was the end on my last entry:
"What is more noteworthy for this forum is the discussion on the "Develop and pursue a pro-active strategy and approach to parish planting". While the OCA wishes to rant about jurisdictional anomalies and canonicity concerned they continue to intentionally plant mission outposts which satellite thriving Greek Orthodox parishes. Rather then seek out the unchurched or under-served they poach membership. More to my point my intentionally overarching other jurisdictions and interweaving OCA parishes amongst GOA parishes there is at least for the moment a suspension within the OCA of conscience for canonical concerns."
The overwhelming majority of clerics and hierarchy of the the OCA stake their claim on nullifying Canon 28 hiding behind the apron strings of Mother Russia while banishing her to the retirement village. They struggle with perceived infractions by the Greek Orthodox Church as their primary target. Notably their only redeeming quality is their likeness through the faith with 'the Greeks'. The author and primary contributor to every successful outreach and philanthropic endeavor to be forged in this New Land.
The claims of racism and bigotry made against a nation whose primary national income is tourism hailing them as hospitable and welcoming. The nation of Greece continues the great commandment of hospitality. When they ask why don't visitors attend their own families' churches it's because of the value of the family for the Greeks. Greeks view themselves always within the context of their family nuclear, extended and ethno-community. It is not because of prejudice. It is a foreign idea and inconceivable to the Greek mindset to abandon one's family and church.
The OCA's notions about autocephalous standing are precarious at best, forcing the hand of Mother Russia to tolerate the 'entitlements' of an impetuous child. Now in true self serving terms with all the brandish  gusto of a shortsighted adolescent they abandon any semblance of good form by attempting to push their ambition and self-serving agenda of leading the Orthodox Church in the New Land. In reality, as they attempt to justify the means by an 'end' they trample pan orthodox relations. They push every weakness trying to split the house. Their fundamental plan to parish plant and revitalize dying communities is based on poaching disgruntled members from other jurisdictions and undermining the efforts of thriving communities.
Review the glaring commentary and Internet think tanks of the disenfranchised instead of pioneering for a cause they trash defame and slander the only semblance of hope.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

OCA Strategic Plan for Review

Piety has been blamed for the most pompous positions. Some thoughts for the day...
The "Working Draft of a Strategic Plan for the Orthodox Church in America," is quite a piece of work. For anyone who actually took the time to read the 20 page draft it has some hidden treasures. There is lovely language which seemingly invokes the reader as a quasi participant  of future drafting. There is a large CAUTION in the into in caps, for readers who are warned not to pass this along because they consider it a living document and very much a work in progress "it should not be further copied, cited or distributed without explicit approval of the Strategic Planning Committee".  Of course it is available to whom ever has Internet access and I am free to review the document.

Just following the gag order, a bulk of the introduction sets the tone for the loving embrace of the OCA this mass undertaking to survey need and future agendas. On the section “Structure and Governance of the Church.” it does quite well explain the set up of the institution and organization of the OCA.
The following section "Who We Are"  declares its Creed and concludes with the choke hold (loving embrace). "Within this Eucharistic context the OCA strives to be both hierarchical, with authority rooted in mutual love, and conciliar, with clergy and laity working together for the life of the world and its salvation."  It then makes references to 1794 and missions (omitting and canonical 28 concerns). It completes the picture with establishing without question the autocephalous status of the OCA and connection to Mother Russia. "This conciliatory is part of the heritage the OCA received from its mother, the Russian Orthodox Church and the church council of 1917-1918." of course omitting 'provisional status' which would serve as an honest accounting of the anomaly.  It then quickly shifts gears to "Where we are going" and the finally bullet reads  "Actively cooperating and participating in the formation and establishment of a fully united territorial and autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America, embracing all Orthodox Christians, with one Synod of Bishops".  While recovering from the whip lash there is the invoking Holy Spirit  with additional (new) petitions the formation of single jurisdiction in America. Wink and nod.

As the body of Christ with its shield and its open-door format the reader drinks the elixir and several statements of faith and values are stated. Next sections deal with parish life, Dioceses, deaneries, Diocesan Assembly, Diocesan Council, Diocesan Bishop, the Holy Synod, All-American Council and the Metropolitan Council. Now this is clearly stated, easily understood and very informative. All good without controversy now this is were you need to pay attention.

The next section is where the education is to be had, there is a lesson to be learned here. It deals directly with the office of Metropolitan. It provides this seemingly uncontroversial, very matter of fact statement about procedure: "The Metropolitan, as one of the Diocesan Bishops, is nominated by the delegates of the All-American Council and elected by his peers on the Holy Synod to be the first among equals. As Primate of the Orthodox Church, he is accountable in love to the bishops and they are to him and to one another. He bears a unique responsibility and accountability to maintain the unity in love and obedience with the Synod; as well as unity with the rest of the Orthodox Churches worldwide."

What's odd to this Pharanite? Simply put this sounds a lot like the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch. What makes this more interesting is the OCA's consistent posture that the EP is somehow misguided and disconnected. Canon 34 is referenced, cherry picked, and without reference to future concern about addressing Canon  28 irregularities, the Golden Tomos or the provisional status of the OCA's autocephalous status according to their own charter or its absence in most diptychs.
At the halfway mark it affirms the status of the All-American Council, the Metropolitan Council and then explores quite honestly their OCA's weaknesses and strengths; opportunities and threats. The draft continues at length and then comes to the encouraging the faithful to tell to proclaim their church history. "Tell, and re-tell, the STORY of your parish and of the Orthodox Church in America". Just don't tell the whole story. This reeducating the revisionist history would be told without the necessary footnotes without acknowledging other immigrant churches who also have their place here in this new land. With Yet another bait and switch they ignore the last 20-30 years of corruptions with their reference to conciliar cooperation between clerics and laity "which it inherited from the efforts of the All Russian Council of 1917". 
There is much discussion on outreach to youth and various ministry guidelines. It is then that the real party-line rhetoric begins by the call to action of lay people a 'grassroots' uprising to support the OCA's efforts on all levels. "Establish Personal Working Relations with Other Orthodox Churches: the move to Orthodox unity in North America involves both ‘grass roots’, informal efforts as well as the recent top-level Episcopal Assembly process defined by the Patriarchs." There is much more contained in the last 4-5 pages dealing with contemporary moral issues the education of clergy and reaching out to those with specializations to help facilitate growth.

What is more noteworthy for this forum is the discussion on the "Develop and pursue a pro-active strategy and approach to parish planting". While the OCA wishes to rant about jurisdictional anomalies and canonicity concerned they continue to intentionally plant mission outposts which satellite thriving Greek Orthodox parishes. Rather then seek out the unchurched or under-served they poach membership. More to my point my intentionally overarching other jurisdictions and interweaving OCA parishes amongst GOA parishes there is at least for the moment a suspension within the OCA of conscience for canonical concerns.

CLC Archon Religious Resolution


WHEREAS, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has been suffering as a result of the oppressive policies and actions of the Turkish government and its agencies; and
WHEREAS, by reason of such policies and actions, the worldwide ministry of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is hindered, and as a result our own rights as Orthodox Christians in America are violated,
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the officers and delegates of the 40th Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, an Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, hereby unanimously
RESOLVE and call upon the Government and Congress of the United States of America, as well as upon the Governors and Legislatures of all 50 States to:
Demand that the Turkish government comply with its obligations to provide religious freedom to its minorities and further respect its commitments pursuant to the Turkish Constitution, the Treaty of Lausanne and the several human rights conventions it has signed and ratified; and we
FURTHER RESOLVE, that the Government of the United States of America intensify its efforts and strongly urge the government of the Republic of Turkey to:
(a)            Refrain from interfering with the governance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
(b)            Recognize and acknowledge that the Ecumenical Patriarchate exists and functions as a legal entity and maintains its own legal personality;
(c)            Acknowledge the Ecumenical status of His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew;
(d)            Take all necessary steps to allow the prompt and orderly re-opening of the Theological School of Halki;
(e)            Immediately refrain from any further seizures of Church-owned properties and return or otherwise provide fair compensation for all properties previously confiscated since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and to
(f)            Implement and respect the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights with respect to minority property rights in Turkey.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The deputy Prime Minister of Turkey supported the reopening of the Halki Theological school

(Thanks for the article Elias)
The Greek Reporter
Posted on 12 July 2010 by Anny Tzotzadini
“The case of the reopening of the Halki Theological school has to be solved before the European Court of Human rights examines the issue” Bulent Aric, the deputy Prime Minister of Turkey stated on Saturday in an interview for a broadcast of Channel 24.

Mr. Aric asked about the Halki Theological School said that «in Turkey, there are citizens with different faiths» and he also added: «Our state has to fulfil these requirements. We have to say yes to these fair demands of our citizens having different faiths, approaching them as fundamental rights. Because we are not only the government of the muslims. If they have deficiencies in learning and following their religion, if they have such requirements, then the government has to fulfil these requirements».

“I personally believe that the Halki Theological School has to reoperate as a school that will educate clerics” Aric said underlining that «we have to give this permission in any case. But althouth this is a very simple case, the biggest obstacle is the resolution that the Constitutional Court of Tureky received in the past».

Aric said that this problem has to be solved before there is an appeal to the European Court and he added: “We make some preparations. Maybe in the interior of the coutry we will be critisized. Some political parties will use it against us, but there is no point. The right thing is to do the right. We have to offer to our citizens a mechanism that will cover in the interior of Turkey the needs of the clerics».

In 1971, the Constitutional Court of Turkey has cancelled articles of the law on private schools, resulting in the prohibition of the operation of the private schools. In addition, the Ministry for Education of Turkey embraced the Theological school in the same framework of these private schools and prohibited its operation. The judicial effort that had started by the Patriarchate against this resolution of the Ministry for Education had no result.

But the legal framework that the Constitutional Court took into consideration in 1971, the Constitution in other words, the law on private schools and the legal framework for the superior schools do not have force. The new legal framework permits the private superior schools. Moreover, apart from the Treaty of Lausanne that Provided libery in religion and education, the main legal framework is that relating to the European Agreement for human rights.

The ecumenical patriarch Vartholomeos has stated that in case of the School not reoperating by 2011, there will be an appeal to the European Court.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Christians continued targets in turkey

This is written by Roman Catholic who makes, sadly, no explicit reference to the Orthodox Christian Church and the conditions under which the Ecumenical Patriarchate struggles to carry out its ministries and mission. Nonetheless, it's worth your attention.

Turkey: Christians in Danger
John Cullinan
July 8, 2010

Bishop Luigi Padovese, stabbed to death last month, is the latest victim of Turkey’s growing hostility to Christians.

For all the attention Turkey has gotten lately, very few Americans are aware that the Roman Catholic bishop serving as apostolic vicar of Anatolia was stabbed to death and decapitated last month by an assailant shouting, “Allahu Akbar! I have killed the great Satan!”

There are fewer than 60 Catholic priests in all of Turkey, and yet Bishop Luigi Padovese was the fifth of them to be shot or stabbed in the last four years, starting with the murder of Fr. Andrea Santoro in 2006, also by an assailant shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” (An Armenian journalist and three Protestants working at a Christian publishing house — one of them German, the other two Turkish converts — were also killed during this period.)

What’s going on? Why has traditionally secularist Turkey, with its minuscule Christian community (less than 0.2 percent of the population), lately become nearly as dangerous for Christians as neighboring Iraq? And why has this disturbing pattern of events so far escaped notice in the West?

In a nutshell, all these violent acts reflect a popular culture increasingly shaped by Turkish media accounts deliberately promoting hatred of Christians and Jews.

As it happens, Bishop Padovese was murdered on the same day (June 3) that the Wall Street Journal published an eye-opening report on how Turkey’s press and film industry have increasingly blurred the distinction between fact and fantasy, especially since the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) took power in 2002.

“To follow Turkish discourse in recent years has been to follow a national decline into madness.” That’s how Robert L. Pollock, editorial-features editor of the Journal, summed up the trajectory of the daily fare that shapes Turks’ attitudes toward the outside world — and toward non-Muslims in their midst. Indeed, much of what passes for fact in Turkish public discourse would be comical if not for the deadly consequences.

Take, for instance, the wildly popular 2006 film Valley of the Wolves, later serialized for television. An earlier Journal piece summing up the plot as “a cross between American Psycho in uniform and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” hardly does it justice. The plot turns on blood-crazed American soldiers committing war crimes for fun and profit in Iraq. These include the harvesting of body parts from murdered Iraqi civilians on an industrial scale (overseen by a Jewish doctor, of course) for shipment in crates clearly labeled New York and Tel Aviv.

Valley of the Wolves is the most expensive and most commercially successful Turkish feature film ever. Worse yet, it comes with the endorsement of leading AKP figures, such as the speaker of the parliament (“absolutely magnificent”) and the mayor of Istanbul (“a great screenplay”). Mr. Pollock’s judgment? “It is no exaggeration to say that such anti-Semitic fare had not been played to mass audiences in Europe since the Third Reich.”

Unfortunately, this film — with its poisonous blood libel against Christians and Jews — falls well within what is now mainstream Turkish public discourse.

Consider only some of the wilder rumors given credence by the Turkish press — for example, how the United States intends to colonize the Middle East because of an impending asteroid strike on North America, or how the 2004 Asian tsunami was really caused by secret U.S. nuclear testing. The latter claim was so prevalent in the Turkish media that the U.S. ambassador at the time, Eric Edelman, actually organized a conference call with Turkish journalists to refute the calumny.

This is the overall context in which incendiary published accusations are made that Catholic priests, sometimes identified by name, are engaging in proselytism — that is, seeking to convert Muslims, often with cash payments. I happen to know just how implausible these claims are, based on my own experience as a Catholic seminarian living and working in the Middle East a decade ago. I found that pastors of the historic Middle Eastern churches almost always go out of their way to discourage prospective converts, rightly fearing agents provocateurs from the security services or Islamist groups. In the rare case where a conversion does occur, the person is generally baptized outside his home country, in a place where apostasy is not criminalized or barred by powerful social norms, such as preservation of family honor.

What local Christian clergy actually do is to tend shrinking flocks without seeking to add to their numbers. (These little congregations increasingly include migrants like the Filipina nurses and domestic workers who are ubiquitous throughout the Middle East.) Some also provide public goods such as education and health care for Muslims and Christians alike on a non-sectarian basis. Others serve the pastoral needs of pilgrims visiting places (like Turkey) where Christianity once flourished. Nearly all see themselves as silent witnesses for Gospel values in places where prudence now bars the Gospel’s open proclamation.

There are vanishingly few Christians and Jews in Turkey. So the numbers of non-Muslims in the country cannot begin to explain the mounting popular hostility — not simply toward Americans, Europeans, and Israelis, but toward Christians and Jews as such. Turkey’s population (roughly 77 million) is more than 99.8 percent Muslim, with its tiny Jewish and Christian populations (perhaps 25,000 and 150,000, respectively) looking like a rounding error. Yet more than two-thirds of all Turks (68 percent) expressed a negative view of Christians in the 2009 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, as opposed to the results in nearby Muslim-majority states with much larger Christian minorities, like Jordan (44 percent negative) and Egypt (49 percent). Hostility toward Jews, moreover, has spiked recently, with those self-identified as “very unfavorable” jumping from 32 percent in 2004 to 73 percent in 2009.

The short answer to the question why Christians keep getting attacked in Turkey is that ideas have consequences, with bad ones often leading to deadly consequences. In the current issue of Commentary, Michael Rubin offers a masterly step-by-step analysis of the way in which Turkey’s current Islamist rulers have systematically undermined and dismantled Atatürk’s secular legacy and have put in place an embryonic Islamist state. Ideas once expressed on the fringes of Turkish society have now become mainstream and respectable.

It is precisely this darkening climate of public opinion that provides the essential context for the spate of attacks against Catholic priests. Here it’s worth noting that, historically, Catholics were not regarded as enemies of modern Turkey in the way that Greeks and Armenians were. The Holy See was one of the first states to exchange ambassadors with the newly formed Turkish Republic in 1923; and one of its first ambassadors (from 1933 to 1944), still fondly remembered, was Angelo Roncalli, better known today as Blessed John XXIII.

So too is it a fact that Catholic clergy serving in trouble spots like Turkey have sometimes (though not always) enjoyed a certain immunity from violence or arbitrary arrest. That’s because the Vatican is widely perceived as a powerful entity that can command diplomatic and media attention (especially as compared to Christian evangelicals, who lack similar institutional support). That several Catholic priests have now been attacked in Turkey is a troubling new development that may reflect political Islam’s implacable hostility toward Pope Benedict XVI. Recall that what angered Islamists most about Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg lecture was not an injudicious quotation from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor. It was Benedict’s observation that while reason without faith leads to nihilism (Europe’s problem), faith without reason leads to fanaticism and violence (Islam’s problem).

But it’s also a fact that the killing of Catholic clerics in Muslim-majority states tends nowadays in the West to be passed over in silence or treated as business as usual. Imagine for a moment what would happen if — God forbid! — a very senior, foreign-born Muslim cleric were murdered in the U.S. in circumstances amounting to a hate crime. It is not difficult to imagine the likely aftermath: wall-to-wall media coverage, repeated international condemnations, and multiple presidential apologies.

In the case of Bishop Padovese, one close observer makes explicit the connection between pervasive media vilification and violence against Catholic clergy. Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, whose Asia News broke the story of the true facts surrounding the bishop’s murder, maintains that “there’s a campaign against Christian priests in Turkey. The government says it’s not true, the Turks say they don’t believe it, but it’s quite enough to watch television or read the newspapers to realize that indeed it is true.”

These facts — and their necessary implications — are a long way from the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace happy talk peddled by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Little wonder that there’s practically no understanding in the U.S. that Turkey’s beleaguered religious minorities — and their co-religionists elsewhere in the region — serve as canaries in the coal mine, bellwethers for major policy shifts that our foreign-policy establishment is slow to grasp. Or indeed that the plight of these minorities mirrors, at least roughly, the state of U.S. interests and ideals in the region.

It wasn’t always the case that Americans paid no attention to the plight of Middle Eastern Christians. In the wake of World War I, the New York Times could safely assume a lively interest (and some Biblical literacy) among readers when editorializing in 1922 about the mass expulsion of ethnic Greek Christians from the new Turkish state: “Is this to be the end of the Christian minorities in Asia Minor — that land where, 13 centuries and more before the Turk came to rule, Paul had journeyed as a missionary through its length and breadth, and where the first ‘seven churches that are in Asia’ stood, to which the messages written in the Book of Revelation were sent?”

But that was then; and this is now.

—John F. Cullinan, a regular NRO contributor, writes frequently on international religious freedom and Middle Eastern Christianity.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who's Your Bishop?

Recently I've was asked "Who's your bishop?" Orthodox tradition teaches my bishop is the local bishop therefore the bishop of my local church 'is my bishop'.

In the anomalous society we live in 'who is my bishop' may not be so obvious. 

Unequivocally it is Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta as I am Greek Orthodox (baptised, confirmed, christmated and married in the Greek Orthodox Church); I remain within the jurisdiction Apostolically tied to the Ecumenical Patriarich of Constantinople.

Presumably though when I attend an OCA church in the south its locum tenens of Dallas [His Beatitude Met. Jonah]  is commemorated during those liturgies so for a few hours he becomes my bishop. Following this thought, reflecting on the local church in America, I find comfort in the American Archpastor (and Senior Bishop of World Orthodoxy) His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the head of the Episcopal Assembly of Bishops. It is assuring to know he is his defacto the chief pastor of America as submitted by ALL the bishops in America including the provisional so-called autocephalous churches.

Eis pola eti despota!
Chief Orthodox Archpastor of America and the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

America's Archpastor:Archpastoral Reflections - February 2010 GOARCH

Archpastoral Reflections - February 2010

Feb 24, 2010
In our previous reflections, we have focused on the theme “Gather My People to My Home,” as it relates to our calling to reach out to all people and invite them to come and see the power and beauty of faith and experience the love of God within our communities. As we have examined, this calling is to reach out to those who have become disassociated from their Orthodox faith, to the unchurched, and to others who are struggling to find answers to the questions of life. Another group of people that we need to engage with the truth and love of the Gospel consists of those who openly profess that they do not believe in God. An initial response to people in this group may be to avoid them altogether or to dismiss their claims. In either case, however, we are facing a real challenge. How do we meet this challenge and provide a faithful and loving witness to those who deny the existence of God?
First, we have to ask if such a position can be a firm one. The goal here is not to enter into great philosophical disputes over the existence of God. While this has its place in applying intellectual principles to the question, such exercises are often far removed from the realities of our human condition and needs. Our approach in gathering people to the Church should be from our own experience of the divine, the transforming presence of Christ in our lives, and the strength, joy and peace we find in communion with Him and one another. We also need to recognize that statements of disbelief often mask deep struggles and insecurities, tremendous questions about the purpose and meaning of life, or even challenging experiences of the past.
When we have this awareness of the underlying issues that may have led someone to express disbelief in God, we can equip ourselves for a ministry of compassion that is a witness of God’s love. Souls in this state probably will not find Christ through arguments over truth and faith. The proof of God’s existence will be love. This is the love that our Lord revealed and taught. This love, Christ’s love that is in us, is revealed when we are ready and willing to reach out to anyone in need. For a brother or sister in Christ, we may act with no hesitation. Our challenge and our calling is to give to and love those who deny the existence of God. This represents true faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring truth and grace into the life of any person.
Second, in our ministry of compassion and witness of faith to those who do not believe in God, we need to be confident in our own faith and relationship with Him. In the face of adversity this can be challenging. But we have to be strong, even bold. This is not a boldness that is directed at another person in hostility, but it is the characteristic fruits of the Holy Spirit, i.e., love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the attributes that should also characterize our relationships with those who do not believe in God. Through our bold and constant witness of faith and love in friendship and in response to crisis or needs, the souls of those who deny the existence of God may be illumined with the light of truth.
A third aspect of our calling to gather unbelievers into God’s home is that this is a ministry of prayer and patience. Regular prayer for those who deny the existence of God is necessary as we seek His guidance and as we keep our hearts and minds prepared for every opportunity to show His love. He will hear our petitions for the soul of another and will ensure that a witness of His presence and love will be revealed. Our life of prayer will also nurture patience. Souls filled with disbelief are not always brought to faith through miraculous events. For many it is the careful nurturing through our witness that will lead a person to abandon his or her denial and open their heart to the mercy and blessings of God.
Our efforts to bring unbelievers to God are decisively facilitated by the display of our unity as believers and as community. Our Lord prayed that the believers may all be one, even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me (John 17:21). We are bound together in Christ, brothers and sisters of faith, gathering to God’s home, to worship Him, receive His grace, and proclaim the Gospel of salvation. All of this unites us in a beautiful and blessed way. In our witness to all, and especially to unbelievers, it is our unity of love and mission that will affirm the presence and power of God. As parishes of love and faith, we live and serve in this world as the embodiment of true communities that reveal the peace and unity of the kingdom of God.
May our good and gracious God make us worthy to be strong witnesses to unbelievers, and lovingly lead them to Him and to the ineffable joy of life and truth granted by Him.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fr. Barnabas Powell revisited

"Angela, thank you for your insights and your support of the EP. I will add there is some value to hearing the words of Jesus when He said "Agree quickly with your enemy while you are in the way, lest he take you before the magistrate and the magistrate turn you over to the jailer."
"At the same time, I don't want anyone to accuse me of glossing ... See Moreover historical weaknesses of the Patriarchate. This is just as unreal as the notions that some have held that the EP is a mason and the source of all evil in the world. Reality is always the friend of Orthodoxy."
"I am an ardent supporter of the EP, especially in his ministry of assisting the other Churches in witnessing to the unity of our faith."
"I know you would never suggest that by simply the virtue of a bloodline someone is a faithful Orthodox Christian. His All Holiness emphatically stated that the EP is a Pan-Orthodox and multi-ethnic institution that is committed to fighting any notion of phyletism. While I have no confidence in the fly by night novelty of the world I was raised in, I also reject the notion that simply because something is old, it is true."
"Finally, it is usually a waste of time to attribute all criticism to the devil's work. This is simply a rhetorical tool meant to shut down discussion. And, it is rarely true that all criticism is the devil's work."
"There will be a day when the Orthodox in the West will experience the proper Orthodox ecclessiolgy based not on ethnicity but geography, and that day will be a wonderful day of the fullness of Orthodoxy for seeking people everywhere. that day will come in a more healthy way with the Ecumenical Patriarch guiding and leading the process."
"Thank you again for your insights."

Thank you for your charitable comments something which alludes me at times. there is a patriarch for America the church has already provided. the idea that a [seperate] patriarchate is the inevitable end result for all countries is silly. you are well aware that the GOA is hardly 'ethnic' for example Met. Isaiah, Met. Methodios, Met. Nikitas (to name just a few) etc. Some of the other Met. have been in the Americas for decades and are barraged for their accents. the difficulties in America stem from the false assertions of the OCA and its irregular and provisional autocephaly, the distorting of canon 28 to somehow not apply to the Americas or to Russian expansionism. there is more effort expended to discredit or religate the Phanar to the past then to encourage or build up relations. this tension and conflict is unique to the U.S why? because of greeks? no because of irregularies, illegitimacies and a proactive internet pentarchy who fancy their own ramblings to church position.

Excerpts Fr. Barnabas Powell SO SAD

"No wonder so many feel the way they do about the Phanar. As a convert, I am always amazed at the ignorant rejection of us by those who can ill afford to make more enemies! It seems that it is the height of arrogance to shun those of us who really want to be on their side. As I asked a congregation several months ago "Would Halki still be closed if 20% of Americans were Orthodox?" A group that so desperately needs friends comes across as unworthy of existence when they throw rocks at people who would be their allies if only they were open to the possibility."
"I do confess to a weariness of soul over the sick system of indirect communication and "byzantine" intrigue that all too often plagues some aspects of leadership in our Church. This legacy of the slave mentality is debilitating and weak and it is quite off-putting to those of us who prize strong and honest leaders who lead by example rather than intrigue and manipulation. I have seen enough of the latter to last a lifetime already."
"Still, I have hope. I have hope and confidence that even if motivated by self-preservation, the Ecumenical Patriarch is not motivated "just" by this. To be sure, he, as all great leaders have, may have those around him who have agendas that are petty and small-minded, but I simply do not believe this is the case for the Ecumenical Patriarch."
"Perhaps it is because I want to believe that a man who lives under such persecution and strain cannot help but see that "fire" burn away those shallow and shortsighted motivations and agendas of the past failed policies. Perhaps I am too naive."
"...the simple litmus test of my mother: Will this or that action help my mom see the beauty and wisdom of Orthodoxy and convert or will these actions perpetuate the "wall" that keeps her convinced that Orthodoxy is simply an exotic religion that has no room for her."
"I am counting on the "weakness" of the Patriarchate to protect him and us from the time-bound temptations of temporary power, and to call the world of Orthodoxy to that missionary genesis that saw this faith "turn the world upside down." This faith that created such beauty and the legacy of eternity I saw, albeit in "ruined" form, in city after city in Greece and Turkey and even in Rome."
"I choose to commit myself to the ecclesiology, the hierarchy, and the theology of the Church that calls on bishops to be authentic icons of Jesus Christ, not petty "princes" of ecclesial provinces where they rule as despots, but Chief Servants of the Chief Servant Who "made Himself nothing, and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross." I believe these men exist in our Church. I have met them. I am honored to serve such a bishop. This gives me hope."
"We will "trust but verify," but we will go one step further: we will pray and honor those authentic leaders among us and we will support them with our love and prayers and our gifts and encouragements. They will know from our actions that there is a flock ready to be more than the circled wagons of fear-motivated persons only bent on "preserving" the last vestiges of an imagined past. We are a flock ready to be the Church here, in this place and at this time".

It would appear that loyalty to the Phanar doesn't come hand in hand with statements that appear to be stating that the See provokes those who it seeks assistance from.  It guides, it doesn't comprise on tradition. To also use terms like despot in such a discussion lays seed which can wrongly take root in the hearts and minds of the people. Cultural expression is the offshoot of the orthodox faith for the Greek people. Greeks have been orthodox for two thousand years not two minutes ,not two years, not twenty, or two hundred. I'm sure other juristictions couldn't better serve the faithful or unchurch with their complete insensitivity or misunderstanding of cultural diversity and ignorance of the international climate. It's amazing that claims are made that a Russian on the Ecumenical Throne is the solution. The Ecumenical Patriarch is well versed in many cultures. He is tested and has been found worthy, resilient and chosen.  Stop trying to empathize with the malicious opposition. If another patriarchate is somehow being advocated then I will then vote for patriarchs for Cuba, Canada, Mexico, Texas, South Africa, Fiji, etc. there are many preachers but only a few fathers.There were many strong opinions about Jesus too but it said nothing of Jesus only of the unbelievers doing the devils work.

AT THE REQUEST OF FATHER BARANABAS I WILL POST HIS COMPLETE STATEMENT BELOW: His abbreviated comments above were intended to give a synopsis not to remove statements from context.
Below is a response I made to another poster who suggested that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not able to lead in the drive toward a unified witness of we Orthodox in this country because he is too beholden to "ethnic" pressures and has exalted ethnicity above Christ.
I respectfully disagree, but I also understand that when there are such strong opinions against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we have to ask what level of responsibility does the EP have for such strong feelings against its ministry of "first among equals" in our Orthodox Church.
Here is my response. As always, I would enjoy and appreciate your critiques and insights:
You have not been incoherent at all. In fact, reading your note and the scars you carry from the sad comments and actions of those connected to the Phanar puts me in mind of a story C.S. Lewis told about his struggle with some of the Psalms as they asked God to "destroy" enemies by "bashing" their children's heads against the stones, and other imprecatory words.
He struggled that such language would be in Holy Scripture and that such language would come from the lips of a follower of God. Finally, he came to the conclusion that these psalms were included in Scripture to show us just what we do to a man that we mistreat. We cause that man to wish the death of our children in as violent a manner as possible.
No wonder so many feel the way they do about the Phanar. As a convert, I am always amazed at the ignorant rejection of us by those who can ill afford to make more enemies! It seems that it is the height of arrogance to shun those of us who really want to be on their side. As I asked a congregation several months ago "Would Halki still be closed if 20% of Americans were Orthodox?" A group that so desperately needs friends comes across as unworthy of existence when they throw rocks at people who would be their allies if only they were open to the possibility.
Of course if traditional Orthodox countries were deeply Orthodox in truth as well as because of the happy accident of their births, these traditional centers of Orthodoxy would also benefit. But that reality will only occur when the Faith is believed deeply rather than seen as merely some cultural decoration.
I see this happening. I have spoken in several so-called "ethnic" parishes here in America and I am never disappointed by these dear faithful. Invariably someone comes up to me after my talk and says that they hunger for a more vibrant expression of their faith. I am convinced the rank and file Orthodox in this country and abroad are waiting for the leadership to call them to an actualized faith. I believe the leadership is preparing to do just that.
Chalk up my optimism to my naive convert status. Perhaps that is true. I do confess to a weariness of soul over the sick system of indirect communication and "byzantine" intrigue that all too often plagues some aspects of leadership in our Church. This legacy of the slave mentality is debilitating and weak and it is quite off-putting to those of us who prize strong and honest leaders who lead by example rather than intrigue and manipulation. I have seen enough of the latter to last a lifetime already.
Still, I have hope. I have hope and confidence that even if motivated by self-preservation, the Ecumenical Patriarch is not motivated "just" by this. To be sure, he, as all great leaders have, may have those around him who have agendas that are petty and small-minded, but I simply do not believe this is the case for the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Maybe this is because I watched him play with my little daughter and shower love and attention on her while all the "adults" discussed "weightier" issues. Perhaps it is because I want to believe that a man who lives under such persecution and strain cannot help but see that "fire" burn away those shallow and shortsighted motivations and agendas of the past failed policies. Perhaps I am too naive.
At the same time, I have no illusions that we are simply to cede all actions on behalf of the faithful here to those over there. I have come to gauge all actions and motivations from those in leadership with the simple litmus test of my mother: Will this or that action help my mom see the beauty and wisdom of Orthodoxy and convert or will these actions perpetuate the "wall" that keeps her convinced that Orthodoxy is simply an exotic religion that has no room for her.
I am counting on the "weakness" of the Patriarchate to protect him and us from the time-bound temptations of temporary power, and to call the world of Orthodoxy to that missionary genesis that saw this faith "turn the world upside down." This faith that created such beauty and the legacy of eternity I saw, albeit in "ruined" form, in city after city in Greece and Turkey and even in Rome.
Finally, please forgive the diatribe. I want so desperately to believe this obvious decline in Orthodoxy in this country is a necessary "pruning" ahead of resurgent growth and vitality. I believe this so strongly I have committed myself and my family to service as a Greek Orthodox priest in this country fully committed to the Hellenism that made Orthodoxy universal and equally committed to leaving behind the short-sighted nationalism that has kept Her imprisoned in a slave mentality that will be Her tomb if allowed to continue to dominate Her life.
I am an Orthodox Christian. My conversion, which may be discounted and derided by some, is lifelong. I am committed to the Church and to Christ, the Head of the Church, for the rest of my life. I choose to commit myself to the ecclesiology, the hierarchy, and the theology of the Church that calls on bishops to be authentic icons of Jesus Christ, not petty "princes" of ecclesial provinces where they rule as despots, but Chief Servants of the Chief Servant Who "made Himself nothing, and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross." I believe these men exist in our Church. I have met them. I am honored to serve such a bishop. This gives me hope.
In the end, we will see. Are there men among us? Are there men of courage that will lead or will our weak faith be judged by having weak men who are no more than "hirelings" to "lead" us; men who expend all their energies maintaining the "status quo" to protect privileges and perquisites. I believe we have true leaders among us and these men are now at work to bring our house in order.
We will "trust but verify," but we will go one step further: we will pray and honor those authentic leaders among us and we will support them with our love and prayers and our gifts and encouragements. They will know from our actions that there is a flock ready to be more than the circled wagons of fear-motivated persons only bent on "preserving" the last vestiges of an imagined past. We are a flock ready to be the Church here, in this place and at this time. We must be this Dean! My mother's salvation is depending on it. I love my mother, Dean, and so does Christ. This will be the motivation that moves the Church toward the authentic Orthodox ecclesiology we need to witness the faith to the whole world: we love our neighbor more than ourselves.