Conference on Married Priests in Rome — November 13th

November 6, 2012

Since I have often blogged on issues relating to the Eastern tradition of a married priesthood and how that has sometimes been a cause of tension between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, I thought readers here would be interested in this very interesting conference to be held in Rome next week, involving Eastern Catholic scholars and an Orthodox priest:


November 1, 2012


Married Priests: Optional celibacy in the

Eastern Catholic Churches, past and present


ROME — The tradition and vocation of the married priesthood in the Eastern Catholic Church will be discussed at an international seminar in Rome this month.

Five Eastern Catholic scholars from Australia, Canada, Italy and the United States will speak on different themes related to the married priesthood, including its history in the Eastern Church, how the spousal mystery is understood, and the divisions in the Eastern Church on the issue of mandatory celibacy.

This half-day event will be held Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Domus Australia, Via Cernaia, 14. It is co-sponsored by the Australian Catholic University and The Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at Saint Paul University, Canada.

Presentations will be in English and Italian. Admission is free. See the attached poster for the list of speakers and the titles of their lectures.

The universal Catholic Church consists of the Western Church, more commonly referred to as the Roman Catholic or Latin rite, and 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. All are gathered under the leadership of the pope in Rome. While the Western Church insists on the celibate priesthood, the different and ancient traditions of the Eastern Church, including the married priesthood, are accepted and honoured.

For more detailed information or interviews, contact:

For further reading:

Can East & West Co-Exist with Married Priests?


Church Jackers: Nominal Orthodoxy

November 6, 2012

By Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou

I don’t remember how old I was, but some of my earliest memories are of being held in my grandmother’s arms in a Greek Orthodox church in London. I remember the shiny gold paint reflecting off the impressive icons, the many candles, the smell of incense, the chanting and the arcane language I could not comprehend, the ornately garbed bearded priest feeding me with a spoon and the taste of the Communion wine. My lasting impression was that this place, this worship, was joyfully disconnected from the world outside. Though the language was Greek, it was not the Greek my grandmother or parents spoke. In short, even though I would not even have been there were I not of a Greek Cypriot family, this Liturgy for me had nothing to do with nationality. It was certainly no reflection of the country that my family had left many years before. Even as an infant, though I had no words to articulate my impressions, this place was heavenly. This is the impression I had also as a young adult, and, though I have bad days when my heart and mind are not where they should be in worship, on the whole this impression remains with me to this day whenever I celebrate the Divine Liturgy.

But for some of my fellow Orthodox Greeks, the Greek Orthodox Church is all about nationality. People’s private sentiments can often slip my attention unnoticed, and they do not often trouble me until there is a conflict about the Church’s role and mission in the world to “make disciples of all nations”, or when it comes to ministering to young Greeks from the U.K. who are made to feel like outsiders due to things like language and age difference. But what does really trouble me is when the Liturgy’s invitation for all to “lay aside every care of this life” that they may enter into the presence of Christ and His Kingdom, is overshadowed by celebrations of Greek national holidays. When someone comes into a church and sees Greek and Cypriot flags and hears the Greek national anthem, there is clearly something very worldly indeed about the church. Far from being joyfully disconnected from the world, being the heavenly Kingdom on earth (not only symbolically, but really), it becomes a reflection of an earthly nation, an expression of ethnic pride, a tool for a national agenda.

Nothing can be more contrary to the meaning and purpose of Orthodox worship than using it for something very much of this world. Furthermore, it seems that the main criterion for being a member of and participant in the life of the Church is not baptism, but national heritage, not faith but ethnicity. One can happily go to church, even work for the Church in the field of administration or education, without being a believer! At the Divine Liturgy, before the Entrance of the Holy Gifts, the Deacon proclaims, “As many as are believers…” The Church is about the Gospel, the Faith of our Fathers, the Holy Nation and Royal Priesthood of Christ. In short, it is not for nominal Orthodox whose baptism remains nothing more than an accident; it is for those who believe and who practice their faith. While it is not surprising that State Churches such as Greece and Cyprus have for a long time been hijacked by national agendas and the interests of the State, here in the United Kingdom, under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (which is not and has never been a State Church), there is no excuse for this sort of hypocritical nonsense. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, whether we choose to respond or not, the Orthodox Church in these lands is a missionary church.

Every time we say the Creed, we claim to believe in “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”. ‘Apostle’ means one who is sent. The Orthodox Church, being apostolic, is sent into the world. And if we are sent into the world, then we are not of the world. As St John Chrysostom writes: “If you are a Christian, then no earthly city is yours…We are enrolled in heaven. Our citizenship is there!”

May we begin to take our role as ambassadors of God’s Kingdom a lot more seriously!

Crowning in Marriage

August 27, 2012

A beautifully done short video giving an overview of an Orthodox marriage “Crowning” — filmed this past June at a Romanian Orthodox parish in Ghent, Belgium:

For further reading:

Crowned With Glory and Honor: Guidelines for Orthodox Marriage Preparation

Orthodox Easter in Cameroon

August 18, 2012

A very interesting new video just posted to You Tube shows Pascha (Easter) in some Orthodox parishes in Cameroon in Central Africa. The video begins with Good Friday services and Baptisms in Yaounde (the capital) with snippets from the Midnight Pascha liturgy starting at 11:08 minutes.

Of particular note are some of the parish celebrations in small cities away from the capital. For example, Liturgy in the small city of Datcheka in Northern Cameroun is shown starting about 32:00 minutes. Another to watch is the visit to the parish in Touilale starting at 1:00:28 minutes. While recognizable in many respects, one can also see some inculturation. Liturgy is in the local language, the Bishop gives his sermon in French (official language of the country) and it’s translated into the local tongue.

This is part of the mission work of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria which also includes the operation of schools for children in that country.


Orthodox Church in Ukraine Disciplines Two Priests & Forces Them to Apologize for Leading a Riot & Attacking Adventists

August 10, 2012

Last June, two Orthodox priests in Ukraine were videoed in leading a riot against a group of Seventh-day Adventists operating a book table near Sevastopol, Ukraine — a video that quickly went viral — an attack I called “shameful.”

According to the Religion in Ukraine news service, the Crimean Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has disciplined these two priests and made them apologize for their actions. A rough translation of the news item (from Google):

In Simferopol and Crimean Diocese of the UOC taken against the two
priests Sevastopol Deanery whose actions sparked riots in the village
of Eagle, said, “Religion in Ukraine” with reference to Kafanews.

Recall alleged incident occurred on Sunday, June 24, in the village of
Eagle Balaklava near Sevastopol area. Clergymen held a procession to
the tent with the words “TV” Nadiya “. Christian Literature,” in which
representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church spread its
literature. The abbot of the local church. Vladimir Lomakin said
Adventists, that all religious activities in this area need to agree
with him. After that he personally turned over the table with books,
and who was next to a young man at the command of the priest
overturned palatkui rasshvyryal Christian literature, among which, as
the website of the Christian view, there were books of the Gospel.

Videography defeat of the tent came the Internet, gathering to date,
almost 250 000

Center St. apologetic. John Chrysostom, established in 2011 at the
initiative of Archimandrite (now Bishop) Jonah (Cherepanov), Chairman
of the Synodal Department for Youth Affairs UPC, tried to justify the
actions of priests struggle against “sectarian,” but in the Crimean
diocese of the UOC thought otherwise.

There was a church court, following which it was decided to deprive
the rector of the parish church. Eagle’s Sevastopol Deanery Priest
Vladimir Lomakin right to wear a pectoral cross, and his partner John
Priest Lucina – the right to wear kamilavka.

Also, these individuals were obliged to apologize to the victim.


After I had originally posted about this attack on the Adventists I received several comments defending what these priests had done. I refuse to allow such hate to appear on this blog and I would not approve their comments.  I am very heartened that the Church has disciplined these priests and made them apologize for their actions.


A Sunday in the Life of a Pharisee

August 2, 2012

By Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou

 “This church is full of hypocrites. Look at these people! They don’t care about religion. Slackers! Nationalists! Oh look! Here’s another late comer. Why can’t they get their children to shut up? This is a place of prayer! I didn’t come to hear screaming babies! Look at that priest! His heart isn’t in this at all! And that chanter – what a show off! And that man in the corner with the prayer rope constantly crossing himself is really annoying me – showing off his piety. Pharisee! Love that Gospel Reading! Really sums up Pharisaic Christians, like that man in the corner. Weren’t you listening to any of that? It was about you! Thank God I’m not like that! Now look! A woman in a mini-skirt taking Communion – I bet she had breakfast! Too young to be married, but I bet she has sex. Does she have her spiritual father’s permission to take Communion? Bet she doesn’t know what a spiritual father is! Have any of these people gone to Confession or said the prayers before Communion like I have? I’m definitely going to go to a monastery next Sunday. Somewhere where I’ll find real Christians and pious priests and no screaming babies – somewhere where other so-called Christians won’t disturb my prayer”.

This is how Pharisees think. How do I know? Because there is a Pharisee in me too. There is a Pharisee in all of us.

Rite of Consecration of Holy Chrism Video

August 2, 2012

St. Tikhon’s Monastery has just put up a video of the consecration of Holy Chrism held there earlier this year.  This is a rite rarely witnessed by the faithful and it’s a treat to see this preparation done in English. The choir is also magnificent. The video description:

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah celebrated the preparatory rites for the Consecration of Holy Chrism on the morning of Great and Holy Monday, April 9, 2012, at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery. The Rite will conclude with the actual consecration of the sacred oil during the Vesperal Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Great and Holy Thursday, April 12.

The blessing of the ingredients took place before the celebration of the Hours and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

The consecration of Holy Chrism is reserved to autocephalous churches. Parishes receive Holy Chrism for local use from the Primate of their respective autocephalous Church. As such, the distribution of Holy Chrism to parish communities offers a visible sign of unity within the Church.

A more detailed explanation from Orthodoxwiki:

Chrism (Greek χρίσμα, meaning “ointment”) is consecrated oil used during the administration of certain mysteries, particularly those of baptism and anointing of the sick (unction), and other rites of the Orthodox Church. Chrism is sometime referred to as myrrh (from the Greek μύρων), holy oil, or consecrated oil.

The use of an oil in Christian ceremonies is mentioned in many early Christian documents including writings by Theophilus and Tertullian. Cyril of Jerusalem details the practices of using oil or ointment that is “symbolically applied to the forehead, and other organs of sense.” He further notes that the “ointment is the seal of the covenants” of baptism and God’s promises to the believer. He taught that being “anointed with the oil of God” was a sign of a Christian (Christos meaning “anointed”), and a physical representation of receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Orthodox Christianity, chrism is a prominent part of the baptismal rite in which, under normal circumstances, the newly enlightened (including infants) is anointed with chrism in the mystery of chrismation. Chrism is used also during the consecration of churches in which the altar table and walls are anointed.

Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and aromatic essences following the pattern of the preparation of anointing oil described in Exodus 30:22-33. Chrism is prepared when needed during Holy Week. The preparation rite begins on Holy Monday and ends with the Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday when the new chrism is carried in during the Great Entrance and placed upon the altar table. The chrism is prepared by the ruling bishop of each autocephalous church, assisted by members of the Holy Synod. After its preparation the chrism is distributed to the bishops, who in turn pass it to the parishes where it is needed.

In the Patriarchate of Constantinople, for example, Chrism is manufactured roughly every ten years. It is produced from 57 ingredients, including the ash from burnt icons.