Saturday, December 10, 2011

Church Ascription Upon Conversion

Fr. George Gallaro is one of my heroes. In case you don't remember who he is, you can read his impressive credentials on this previous post. I've written him twice asking him to share his wisdom with all of us through this blog. Twice he has written me back almost immediately with a wealth of wisdom to share.

This is a topic I've received several requests to cover and have seen a lot of confusion over. I'm grateful that Father George shared it here with us and think it will be referenced frequently. I'm also grateful that he took the time to put it into text because I suspect these words will be searched on a regular basis. He gives the canonical low-down on joining a church sui juris when converting.

Fr. George Gallaro

The Second Vatican Council declares in its Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) that, when those who have been validly baptized in non-Catholic Churches or Ecclesial Communities spontaneously ask to enter full communion with the Catholic Church, either as individuals or as groups, “it is necessary to impose no burden beyond what is essential.” (UR 18)

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (i.e. CCEO) in its canon 897 affirms that: “A member of the Christian faithful of an Eastern non-Catholic Church is to be received into the Catholic Church with only the profession of the Catholic faith, after a doctrinal and spiritual preparation that is suited to that person’s condition.” Since this constitutes a very delicate act, it is advisable to ascertain the weighty reasons why one asks for admission into the Catholic Church.

The competent ecclesiastical authority to receive one into full communion is specified in the CCEO in the canons 898-899.

The same Code in canon 35, following the Decree on the Eastern Churches (Orientalium ecclesiarum), declares that: “Baptized non-Catholics coming into full communion with the Catholic Church should retain and practice their own rite and should observe it everywhere in the world as much as humanly possible.” In the case of Orthodox, the new Church of ascription shall be one of the autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches, the closest in its ritual approach.

Protestants who enter into the full Catholic communion are to be ascribed to the Latin Church, since their Ecclesial Communities sprang from the Western/Latin tradition.

The rationale of this norm is mainly ecclesiological: full communion with the apostolic Church of Rome does not imply alienation or loss of the rite, understood as liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony. Canon 35 was written with an ecumenical perspective in mind: to establish and to preserve communion one must “lay no greater burden than necessary” (Acts 15: 28).

The Eastern Orthodox who joins the equivalent Eastern Catholic Church finds the surroundings in keeping with his/her Christian history and identity. That does not mean that he/she cannot continue to attend the Latin Church, even though it is desirable that he/she should be helped to uphold his/her own Church tradition.

Since the text of canon 35 does not explicitly specify if the norm is for validity or for lawfulness, one may infer that this is not an irritating law.

Canon 32 §1, dealing with Catholics who desire to transfer validly to another autonomous Catholic Church, requires the consent of the Holy See. Furthermore, insofar as legitimate ascription to another autonomous Catholic Church constitutes the basis for the validity or lawfulness of certain juridical act (e.g., the validity of a marriage or the lawful admission to a religious institute of another autonomous Catholic Church) one may conclude that canon 35 has a binding force, after all.

Sometimes, a baptized member of an Eastern non-Catholic Church who enters in full communion with the Catholic Church wants to be ascribed into the Latin Church. If so, one must, with the prior approval of the local Latin bishop, seek an indult (i.e. permission) from the Holy See. The canonical reason for such a petition must be serious, e.g., the spiritual wellbeing of the petitioner or the unity of the family when the petitioner is married to a Latin spouse.

The Year in Review

I did this experiment of trying to blog in 2011 while waiting for opportunities to return to video. I thought it was worth trying because I could do more from home, since I needed to be home more this last year, and could provide the same quality information. It didn't work out so well.

One major hurdle I had was in getting responses to interview requests. No one likes cold callers. I didn't know if my emails weren't going through or if the person on the other end was not interested. I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew so I'd wait on one person before asking the next and the lack of response slowed this process down considerably. Another major hurdle I faced was that those who responded favorably were often impressed with my questions and too busy to respond to them in text. Text is more formal, more detailed, more scrutinized, and more involved. After spending the time writing and editing the few interviews which were completed, I would send the final work for approval and it wasn't uncommon to not hear back. Dozens of hours of work sit ready and unpublished, much of which is no longer of particular interest because it was concerning current (at the time) events. People who have wisdom to share are, as an obvious correlative effect, very busy people. I need to be able to have 15 minutes or 30 minutes or 60 minutes or whatever it is that they're available for and then they need to be done, but I didn't accomplish that with the text model.

On a personal front, I am able to write the best questions when I talk with a person and learn what is important and of interest to him or her. I'm also most motivated to work when I have personal connections. Working on my own at home with a computer screen and text was a personal challenge which I did not always conquer.

All of this combined to an end product others were happy to see, but I didn't get requests for more of it. On the other hand, I continue to receive regular requests for my video interviews. This affirmation that the content is what people are interested in and the video medium is where it is best conveyed has brought me back to video interviews. It is obvious that my talents are best used in service to the church there.

God willing, I will be taking videos in the coming weeks and I will be posting video interviews regularly throughout 2012. I've heard you loud and clear and I'm responding to your call! Please pray for me that I continue to seek God's will and that I conform to it so that whatever I do brings glory to Him.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Interview with His Beatitude Sviatoslav of the UGCC

I am in the process of re-focusing on original video content, but this interview with the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was too huge not to post.
Culture experts say there is no question more difficult than the question of identity. Greek Catholics hear many definitions of their church, for example, that we are Eastern rite Catholics, or Eastern Catholics, or Orthodox in communion with Rome, or maybe even other formulations. Which wording do you think is the most accurate? 
Read the patriarch's response to that and numerous other questions Mariana Karapinka & Anatolii Babynskyi asked him in their article "His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk): 'I Will Continue to Build the Patriarchate'"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

By singing praise to your maternity, we exalt you as a spiritual temple, Theotokos. For the One Who dwelt within your womb, the Lord who holds all things in his hands, sanctified you, glorified you, and taught all to sing to you...

Step-mothers, single mothers, biological mothers, adoptive mothers, estranged mothers, birth mothers, natural mothers, first mothers, religious mothers, spiritual mothers, foster mothers, grand-mothers, godmothers, mothers whose children died in miscarriage or abortion, mothers who placed their children for adoption, mothers whose children live with others, mothers whose children live at home, mothers who made poor decisions, mothers who were not able or allowed to parent, mothers who have sacrificed greatly, mothers whose children are still growing in their wombs or are waiting for them around the world, mothers whose children are grown and gone, mothers whose sons and daughters are in harm's way as they protect and defend others, mothers who visit their children's graves, mothers whose children have no graves at which they can sit and grieve...

However you came to be a mother and wherever your children now are, I pray today as the English world celebrates Mother's Day that our Lord shower you with graces just as He did for His own mother and that the Theotokos--she who bore and gave birth to God and who stood at the foot of the cross as He died upon it--will pray for the salvation of you and your children.

O never failing protectress of Christians and their ever-present intercessor before the Creator; despise not the petitions or sinners who have recourse to you, by your goodness extend your help to us to call upon you with confidence. Hasten, O Mother of God, to intercede for us, for you have always protected those who honor you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Melkite patriarch tells West not to encourage Arab revolutions

Damascus, Syria, May 5, 2011 / 07:47 pm (CNA).- Patriarch Gregorios III, the Syria-based head of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, is warning Western leaders not to encourage the revolutions currently shaking up the Middle East.
Read about it here...

When Easterners live in Western Territories - Part 3 of 3

Here is Part 3 of 3 from Fr. George Gallaro's discussion of canonical integration of Eastern faithful in Latin dioceses.

Obligations of Latin Diocesan Bishops
Let us examine now can. 383 § 2 of the Latin Code which regards the obligations of the diocesan bishops in assisting the Eastern faithful residing in their dioceses.

Through priests ... of the same rite
The first and simplest way for the pastoral care of the Eastern faithful in the safeguard of their rite is the ministerial service of priests of the same rite as the Christian faithful. As an alternative the bishop can even entrust the pastoral care of these faithful to priests of other ecclesiastical jurisdiction and ritual tradition, provided they are qualified to give such a spiritual assistance. The norms for the pastoral care of the people on the move – Erga migrantes (May 3, 2004) – could also be helpful in this matter.

… Or through parishes of the same rite
A further step along with the designation of priests of the same rite as the faithful is the erection of parishes of that same rite. As mentioned, the Eastern faithful acquire with their domicile or quasi-domicile not only their own hierarch but also their parish priest.

If an eparchy covers a vast territory, it is difficult to establish several parishes. They will necessarily be established in places with greater concentrations of faithful. And in this case the priests will have difficulty in maintaining regular contacts with their faithful. The Eastern Code, in order to assure the pastoral care for all faithful, suggests to the eparchial bishop to designate the pastor of another autonomous Church, with the consent of the eparchial bishop of the pastor to be designated. Should the proper bishop of some faithful be lacking and already been duly entrusted to a bishop of another autonomous Church, even a Latin bishop, he is to take care of these Eastern faithful through priests of their same rite.

... Or through an episcopal vicar
This is the third proposal by the Latin Code which corresponds to the decree Christus Dominus (23,3): “… or through an episcopal vicar endowed with the necessary faculties.” If the groups of Eastern faithful of one or more autonomous Churches residing in a Latin diocese are numerous and well organized, the diocesan bishop is urged to appoint an episcopal vicar for them. Thus the diocesan bishop, through the person of his episcopal vicar, will guide the various groups, study their problems, care for their spiritual needs and coordinate their pastoral activity.

Rights and Duties of a Patriarch and a Major Archbishop

In compliance with the Eastern Code the authority/jurisdiction of a Catholic Patriarch and Major Archbishop is limited to the territory of the respective patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church. There are however cases in which they can intervene outside their territory for the pastoral good of the faithful of their autonomous Church, including those who live in Latin dioceses.

As for the nomination of a priest, a pastor or an episcopal vicar
In these cases, as mentioned above, one deals with internal norms of the receiving diocese, and therefore the choice of the candidates is exclusively up to the local bishop (CIC cc. 477, 515, 523). A previous consultation with the hierarchy of the autonomous Church of the faithful in question would be commendable, especially in dealing with a patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church. It also would be highly desirable that the designation of more suitable candidates could come from the patriarch or major archbishop.

The Eastern Code is more demanding in this matter. In fact, its can. 193 § 3 requires that the local diocesan bishop for the faithful of a patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church acts in agreement with its respective superior authority. However, can. 193 regards only Eastern eparchial bishops. The Papal Commission for the review of the Eastern norms proposed in 1988 to include “also the Latin bishops,” but in 1990 the supreme legislator did not want to bind by this norm the Latin bishops. However, since the more frequent cases regard the Eastern faithful present in Latin dioceses, it could be said that said omission has made useless the content of the norm.

Since one deals here with a norm of papal law, the patriarchs and major archbishops could equally demand the observance of this norm which gives them an important faculty/power. The Latin bishops, on the other hand, could make a stand against this presumed “intrusion” of other hierarchs in the internal affairs of their dioceses, since the norm in question is present only in the Eastern Code. Then what? It is desirable that the good common sense and ecclesial spirit of these hierarchs incite them to willingly cooperate for the well-being of the faithful, to quickly resolve eventual conflicts, and to avoid all opposing trends.

Seeking Information on Eastern Faithful
The Eastern Code foresees another right of the patriarch and major archbishop which could create conflicts with the Latin bishops. “It is the right and the obligation of the patriarch (and major archbishop) to seek appropriate information concerning the Christian faithful who reside outside the territorial boundaries of the Church over which he presides, even through a visitor sent by himself with the assent of the Holy See.” (c. 148).

The patriarchs and major archbishops visiting their faithful are generally well received by the Latin bishops. But how would these Latin bishops react if the said patriarchs or major archbishops were to criticize the way in which the pastoral care is carried on in their dioceses? Once again, the Latin Code does not say much on the matter!


The Christian faithful of the Eastern Churches have the right and duty not only to preserve the traditions of their own Church and to worship God according to the their liturgical customs in their historical territories or in other regions of the world, but also, insofar as possible, when they live under the jurisdiction of bishops of a different autonomous Church.

We have just considered the case of Latin bishops, and seen as they are invited to meet the pastoral care of the Eastern faithful through qualified clergy and convenient facilities in order to preserve their traditions. This is not only a right of the faithful but also a pastoral requirement since their separation from the original milieu could cause doctrinal and moral confusion.

Vatican II and the Latin Code offer to the Catholic bishops some trusty guidelines, while the Eastern Code gives to the patriarchs and major archbishops the faculty to assess the state of their faithful in the so-called diaspora either personally or through appointed visitors. Also the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, follows these faithful and, when necessary, proposes to the Roman Pontiff the practical norms to solve the various issues.

The Christian faithful of the so-called diaspora are not neglected by their particular Church nor by the Universal Church. The successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, also continues to promote the progress of the faithful custody and diligent observance of all the Eastern Ritual Churches.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

When Easterners live in Western Territories - Part 2 of 3

Here is Part 2 of 3 from Fr. George Gallaro's discussion of canonical integration of Eastern faithful in Latin dioceses.

Duty of the Faithful to Observe Their Own Rite

The Vatican II decree On the Bishop’s Pastoral Office in the Church, Christus Dominus, states: “...Where there are faithful of a different rite, the diocesan bishop should provide for their spiritual needs either through priests or parishes of that rite or through an episcopal vicar endowed with the necessary faculties. Wherever it is fitting, the latter should also have episcopal rank …” This passage is confirmed by both current codes: CIC cc. 372 § 2, 383 § 2 & 518; CCEO cc. 193 & 280 § 1.

I would like to raise here two questions: Do Eastern faithful in the so-called diaspora have the right to this pastoral care or are they persons which arouse the generous solicitude of the Council Fathers? Furthermore, does not the implementation of this norm upset the internal equilibrium of the diocese and endanger the unity of the diocesan community?

The Latin Code answers to the first questions. In dealing with the obligations and rights of all the Christian faithful, its can. 214 states, “The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church.” Although the first part of the canon seems to simply refer to the external ritual aspect of liturgical prayer, the second part, with its reference “to follow their form of spiritual life of the faithful,” opens new horizons.

The Latin Code uses here the term “rite” (ritus) as in Christus Dominus (CD 23,3) and Orientalium Ecclesiarum (passim), that is, as the synonym of a particular Church. The Latin Code thus underlines the inner element of rite, considered in its wider and fuller meaning, as indicatory of the face of each Church.

The Eastern Code, instead, stresses the extrinsic element of the individuality of the Eastern Churches by the supreme authority (there can be in fact several different Churches having in common the same liturgical tradition and spirituality). By using more precise terms, canon 17 of the Eastern Code eliminates every ambiguity: “The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescriptions of their own autonomous Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life in accord with the teachings of the Church.” This twofold right is so important - dealing with the spiritual life of the faithful - as to be part of the category “of the proper original elements of the ecclesiological and spiritual fabric of Vatican II,” or still as “an articulation of divine law.” In order to attain this specific right, the faithful enjoy another right, that of addressing their needs to their shepherds who in turn have the obligation to assist them.

Plurality of “Rites” in a Latin Diocese
The other question derives from the difficulty of some Latin bishops to meet the needs of their Eastern faithful for fear of throwing out of balance the unity of their diocese. To justify that, they call on can. 225 of the Latin Code which deals with the “general obligation and the right of individuals to work so that the divine message of salvation is made known” under the guidance of the ecclesiastical authority.

One cannot exclude that the carrying out of the right of the faithful to observe their own rite may sometimes encounter serious difficulties, as, for example, the small number of faithful of a particular rite scattered throughout a vast territory. On the whole, the fact that within a diocese there are ritual differences should not create any problem, as for the presence of different languages. On the contrary, the ritual differences enrich a local Church as a witness of the universality of the Christian message and the wealth of the Catholic Church. However, the Fathers of Vatican II clearly affirmed that the “variety of rites within the Church in no way harms her unity, but rather manifests it.” This text regards not only the Universal Church but also the Particular (Ritual) Churches.

The diocesan bishop, in his ministerial service, has to take care of all the faithful entrusted to him, including those who find themselves in singular circumstances. Vatican II and the two Codes, the Latin and the Eastern, clearly underline the bishop’s obligation towards the faithful of different ritual traditions, for whom he must, among other things, guarantee the right of fidelity to their ritual tradition.

The Eastern Code, more sensitive to this issue, dedicates one full canon (c. 193) to the bishop’s obligation towards the faithful of other autonomous Churches. In the first paragraph, “the eparchial bishop is bound by the serious obligation of providing everything so that these Christian faithful retain the rite of their respective Church ... and to ensure that they foster relations with the superior authority of their Church.” The next paragraph corresponds to the Council’s text and the mentioned Latin Code’s canon, while the third paragraph imposes to the eparchial bishop “to draw up a plan in consultation with the respective patriarchs (or major archbishops) for the care of these faithful.”

Tune in tomorrow to read part 3 where Fr. George explains what remedies and solutions are available to those issues raised by easterners in western territories...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When Easterners live in Western Territories

Fr. George Gallaro is a professor of canon law and ecumenism at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, among many other distinguished positions he's held in these fields over the almost four decades he's been a priest, such as being a judicial vicar and a staff member for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He holds a licentiate in ecumenical theology and a certificate in liturgical theology as well as a doctorate in Eastern canon law.

I asked Fr. George about the Italian Episcopal Conference's leaked decision to forbid married Romanian Catholic priests from serving their faithful in Italy. Below is part one of three in which he presents the issues that occur when easterners live in western territories.

Canonical Integration of Eastern Faithful in Latin Dioceses
Fr. George Gallaro

In compliance with the Church common law, every faithful acquires a domicile or quasi-domicile in a diocese or parish from the place where he/she resides. In order to understand the obligation of a Latin bishop towards these faithful present in his diocese, it is necessary to see when Eastern Catholics “enter” into a Latin diocese and are therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the local bishop.

The 1917 Latin Code of Canon Law (cc. 215-217) underlined the territorial aspect of the diocese, and the jurisdiction of its bishop extended on all faithful residing within its borders. As a consequence, the faithful subject to another personal jurisdiction had to be explicitly indicated, as free from the jurisdiction of the bishop “of the place,” who normally was a Latin.

A precise determination on Eastern faithful without their own Church Shepherd goes back to Pope Leo XIII - in the Apostolic Letter On the Eastern Churches, Orientalium Dignitas, November 30, 1894. In its directive part of the document, Leo XIII solved the issue of the faithful residing outside the territory of their own ritual patriarchate (or equivalent) and lacking their own clergy, by establishing the norm that these Eastern faithful were subject to the jurisdiction of the local Latin bishop. By the same apostolic L\letter Leo XIII extended the jurisdiction of the Greek Melkite Patriarch to all the territory of the Ottoman Empire (later on, all the other Patriarchates followed this norm).

In 1949 these directives were still in force, even though outdated, as it appeared more and more clearly that each jurisdiction was and is at the same time territorial and personal. These groups of Eastern faithful were ritually different but subject to the local Latin bishop. These norms which considered the Latin diocesan bishop as the only bishop “of the place” were out-of-date with the promulgation of the canons On Marriage in the Eastern Church, Craebrae Allatae (1950). This motu proprio in fact recognized the co-existence of more jurisdictions in the same territory. The canons clearly indicated who, in case of a plurality of bishops or pastors, is competent in single cases to assure the validity of marriages celebrated by Eastern faithful residing outside their own territory.

The norm relating to domicile or quasi-domicile on the part of Eastern faithful lacking their own ritual authority was extracted from the canons On Persons, Cleri Sanctitati (1957) - not yet promulgated. It became then unequivocally clear the link between the single Eastern faithful and the bishop and pastor endowed with the faculty to validly assist and bless their marriages, although they were of “different rite.”

In those territories where there was more than one ritual bishop, the local Latin bishop was not automatically in charge of the Eastern faithful residing in his territory. These faithful were subject to Latin jurisdiction only when explicitly designated by the Holy See or, in specific cases, by their patriarch.

Finally, the Second Vatican Council underlined the community aspect within a diocese. Indeed, Vatican II describes a diocese prescinding from its territorial limits: “a diocese/eparchy is a portion of the people of God that is entrusted to a bishop and gathered in the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist.”

The 1983 Latin Code (c. 372) also states that “a diocese is limited to a definite territory” so that it includes all the faithful living in the territory. But it adds that “where in the judgment of the supreme authority of the Church it seems advantageous after the conference of bishops concerned have been heard, particular churches distinguished by the rite of the faithful or some other similar reason can be erected in the same territory.”

The erection of an ecclesiastical province or region, even in the case of a patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church (but “outside of their territory”) is in fact of exclusive competence of the Holy See. Such an erection is indicated by the decree on the Eastern Churches, Orientalium Ecclesiarum ( N. 4), as a provision to be adopted when it’s necessary. The norm is resumed by the decree On the Bishops Pastoral Office in the Church, Christus Dominus (N. 23, 3) which quotes the aforesaid paragraph of Orientalium Ecclesiarum, but only as a last resort. The Latin Code limits further this provision as it imposes on the supreme authority of the Church ( = the Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council) to hear the Episcopal Conference concerned.

The pre-Vatican II Eastern norms – On Marriage (1949) and On Persons (1957) - is now incorporated, with due updating, in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (1990). Can. 916 § 4: “If there is no pastor for the Christian faithful of a certain autonomous Church, the eparchial/diocesan bishop for those same faithful is to designate the pastor of another autonomous Church, who is to assume their care as their proper pastor.” § 5: “In places where not even an exarchy has been erected for the Christian faithful of a certain autonomous Church, the local hierarch of another autonomous Church, even the Latin Church, is to be considered as the proper hierarch of these faithful. If, however, there are several local hierarchs, that one whom the Holy See has designated is to be considered as their proper hierarch or, if it concern the Christian faithful of a certain patriarchal (or major archiepiscopal Church), the one whom the patriarch (or major archbishop) has designated with the assent of the Holy See.”

I leave to others the answer to the question that could be raised by the term “as their proper pastor” (tamquam parochus proprius) used in the canon, and other canonical directives mentioned in cc. 148 & 193 of the Eastern Code. It could be in fact raised the doubt if the designated bishop and parish priest are truly (de iure) the bishop and parish priest of those faithful, or only temporary carers or simple substitutes.

Looking at the issue from the faithful’s side, one could ask if they are full-fledged members of those dioceses and parishes of acceptance, and have thus double membership, their own autonomous Church and the diocese or parish of their domicile, or if, as “entrusted” faithful, they are in a sense only “guests/visitors.”

Tune in tomorrow to read part 2 where Fr. George discusses the canons that come into play when easterners live in western territories...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pope Addresses Iraqi Christians

I am looking for the full video of the Q&A session that Pope Benedict televised live today. He chose 7 questions on suffering to respond to on Good Friday. One of the questions was from Iraqi Christians. Here's an overview:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Untouchable Converts

In India, the Hindu caste system is one of numerous sources of interreligious tension and persecution, especially as those from the lowest castes convert to Christianity. They often take their caste designation with them, being considered Dalit Christians, or converts from the Islamic or Hindu untouchables caste.

In 2008, these Christians in India were systemically targeted by Hindu fundamentalist mobs who blamed Christians for the murder of a Hindu leader. Police exonerated the Christian community, which has been in India since the earliest days of Christianity, but their houses were still burned, many brutally murdered, and thousands driven from their homes. Here's a newscast from the time:

Wednesday's Wages are a series of posts which highlight past and present struggles faced by Eastern and Oriental Catholics including the topics of bioethics and persecution. Do you know of a homily, lecture, interview or biography which you think should be featured here? Leave a comment to let me know.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Armenian Rite

The Armenian Catholic website has a short history on the development of the Armenian rite, explaining how it originally copied the Church of Jerusalem and then developed into its own rite in the following centuries.
The neighboring peoples' churches had already organized their adoration rules until Armenia became officially a Christian country in 301 due to The Illuminator and the Armenian church was constructed. The apostles Tatyos and Partoghomios did not let any trace of rite in our literature in Armenia. Before The Illuminator, when Christianity entered Armenia, due to the preachers of the Greek and Syriac churches, they brought with them to Armenia the adoration invented by their churches with the preaching of the Christian religion. This could not be different, because the Armenian Christianity and the Armenian church were going to be organized after three centuries from the Syriac and the Greek ones, while these two churches were going to have time to be organized before us, to progress, to have exceptional patriarchs and saints, who due to their help those churches improved and progressed, while we were still suffering from the paganism.
Read the rest here.

Theological Thursdays brings you homilies, lectures, interviews, and biographies on diverse topics including history, theology, spirituality, and philosophy as they pertain to the Eastern and Oriental Catholic Churches. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Father Paul Luniw of St. Michael's Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Terryville, Connecticut demonstrates the art of making pysanky.

Talented Tuesdays is a feature which focuses on art, architecture, music, culture, food, and the running of the domestic church. User submitted questions and solutions are welcomed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Frescoes at Mar Musa Monastery

The Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian (Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi, دير مار موسى الحبشي) is a Syriac Catholic monastic community of monks and nuns that is situated near the town of Nabk, Syria. The monastery is focused on religious dialogue particularly between Muslims and Christians. It's also the home to some beautiful medieval frescoes. The monastery's website can be found here.
From archaeological and historical evidence, we know that the monastery of St. Moses existed from the middle of the 6th century and belonged to the Syrian Antiochian Rite. The present monastic church was built in the Islamic year 450 (1058 AD), according to Arabic inscriptions on the walls, which begin with the words: "In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate".
The frescoes in the church date from the 11th and 12th centuries.
In the 15th century the monastery was partially rebuilt and enlarged. The monastery was abandoned in the first half of the 19th century and slowly fell into ruin. Nevertheless, it remained in the ownership of the Syrian Catholic Diocese of Homs, Hama and Nabk. The inhabitants of Nabk continued to visit the monastery with devotion and the local parish struggled to maintain it.
In 1984, restoration work began through a common initiative of the Syrian State, the local Church and a group of Arab and European volunteers. The restoration of the monastery building was completed in 1994 thanks to co-operation between the Italian and Syrian States. This Italian and Syrian school for restoration of frescoes was created at Deir Mar Musa in 1989 and will complete the restoration of the frescoes in the context of Syrian European co-operation. 
Read more about the church's frescoes as well as their architectural, agricultural, and interreligious dialog efforts here.

Talented Tuesdays is a feature which focuses on art, architecture, music, culture, food, and the running of the domestic church. User submitted questions and solutions are welcomed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Holy Cross in Placentia, CA

Monday's Map: We're traveling with the angels! 

Today we're flying over to Placentia, California, USA where you'll find the Melkite Greek-Catholic  parish of Holy Cross.
New Church Buildings
Current Exterior
Current Iconostasis

Holy Cross parish serves all of Orange County and also draws from Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties with its full liturgical cycle, Eastern Christian Formation program, and active parish organizations. They are planning the construction of a new temple, office facilities, and a meeting center with classrooms to serve the parish's growing needs. Their youth group is active and their Lady's Society is the largest of its kind in any church in the United States. 

Their priest, Fr. James Babcock, works with the Society of St. John Chrysostom and was recently interviewed on The Illumined Heart. The host, Kevin Allen, is an Orthodox Christian whose program airs on Ancient Faith Radio, an Internet-based Orthodox radio station. They discussed "the similarities and differences between Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church." You can listen to their interview here, then you can visit Holy Cross on the web and in person.

Liturgy schedule: 
  • Great Vespers is celebrated each Saturday at 6 p.m. 
  • Orthros (Matins & Lauds) is celebrated each Sunday at 10 a.m. 
  • The Holy and Divine Liturgy is celebrated each Sunday at 11 a.m. 
  • Holy Days and Weekdays as announced 
  • Eastern Christian Formation Program (Grades 1-8) Sunday after Liturgy
The parish is currently served by the following:
  • The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite James Babcock, Pastor
  • The Reverend Deacon Edward Faulk, Pastoral Associate
  • The Reverend Deacon Elias Kashou
Monday's Map highlights Eastern and Oriental Catholic institutions as well as those who run and serve them.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"We want our church to be alive"

Newly elected and enthroned Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) gave his first press-conference to Ukrainian journalists in Kyiv before his trip to Holy See and audience of Pope Benedict XVI.
He answers the questions "What awaits us, where are we going, where are we headed?" concerning the topics of unity of the Ukrainian Churches, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church strategy, the issue of patriarchal status for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, relations with the Orthodox world, Catholic education, and missions in eastern Ukraine.

Theological Thursdays brings you homilies, lectures, interviews, and biographies on diverse topics including history, theology, spirituality, and philosophy as they pertain to the Eastern and Oriental Catholic Churches. 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ukraine: A Forgotten Generation

Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Pope, made the below video to discuss the plight of Ukrainian children following the fall of Communism. It specifically addresses how the Communist Persecution affected the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church's ability to provide social and educational care to the poor.

Wednesday's Wages are a series of posts which highlight past and present struggles faced by Eastern and Oriental Catholics including the topics of bioethics and persecution. Do you know of a homily, lecture, interview or biography which you think should be featured here? Leave a comment to let me know.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adoration of the Holy Cross

The Byzantine Churches celebrate the mid-point to Golgotha today with the Feast of the Adoration of the Holy Cross. Here's a glimpse into the Melkite celebration. Click the link to read the bishop's entire homily.

"God's Love Sign"
Homily for the Sunday of the Holy Cross
By Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros
What meaning can the cross have in our daily lives? The first meaning is God’s forgiveness. When we are burdened and cast down by an overwhelming sense of guilt, feeling that we can never be forgiven, that we can never again look God or men in the face, the Cross brings us the great plus of God’s forgiveness. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34), that was the most precious prayer ever addressed to God by a man in favor of his murderers; and it was Jesus’ prayer on the Cross.

Saintly Sundays highlight saints, feasts, and liturgical seasons in the Eastern and Oriental Catholic Churches.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chaldean Memorial of the Faithful Deceased

Subdeacon Anthony gave me permission to post the full content of his below post, which he wrote for his church's newsletter. Please visit his blog and thank him!

The Memorial of the Faithful Deceased
By aboriente
O Christ King, give rest to your servants’ spirits in peace among all your saints, where suffering does not reign, nor grief or distress, but the promised eternal life. – Mawtwa
On Friday, March 4th, the last Friday of the Season of the Epiphany, St. Mary’s parish celebrated the Memorial of the Faithful Deceased.  This commemoration is the Chaldean equivalent to that of All Soul’s in the Roman liturgical calendar, or the Saturday of the Dead in the Byzantine liturgical calendars.  In these Eastern rites, the date is the eight Sunday before Easter, and two before Lent, but on that day, the members of those churches traditionally began to abstain from meat.  But in our Chaldean (Church of the East) practice, this date marks the last Friday before entry into Lent itself.
This day is a day that our people recognize by tradition.  The names of dead friends and relatives are presented to the priest and are then read aloud during the service.  This is due to the apostolic {and Old Testament} belief that prayers for the dead avail them.  In his Mystagogical Orations, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a doctor of the Catholic Church whose writings are greatly appreciated by our rite, talks of petitions “[on behalf also of all] who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.”
Apologists will readily recognize that quote as one used to defend the doctrine of Purgatory, which explains theologically what the Church has practiced and believed from Her beginning.  We pray that they may be forgiven their sins, and that their oblation may be accepted with that of the saints.  We pray that at the resurrection they will be able to stand before Him and sing His glory with the hosts above.
The timing of this feast, at the gates of the onset of Lent, is not an accident.  We remember, in the season of Epiphany, that Christ revealed to us Truth, the Trinity, and hence enlightened our minds that we may be saved from the darkness of ignorance.   As we get ready to enter into contest with Evil with the ascetic labor, we remember those who have finished their struggles and race in this life.  We pray to Christ that when He reveals Himself again in glory, in His mercy He will forgive them.
Let us enter into Lent hopeful, remembering also of the communion of saints, knowing that we pray for those who have gone on before us, just as they will pray for us before the throne of the Compassionate One, our Lord and King, our God.  Let us now labor, awaiting His second dawning.
From the silence his day dawns, and his saints are all awake, and all those who labored, wearied and prepared are lighting their lamps.
 – Morning Hymn of Mar Ephrem 
Social Saturdays bring you homilies, lectures, interviews, and biographies related to funerals, memorials, and prayers for the dead. Do you have a prayer request you'd like to add? Please put it in the comment box any time this week so we can pray with you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

History of Voluntary or Mandatory Clerical Celibacy

Below is a very small excerpt from a work by A. G. Bell III which covers the author's well-cited research on the history of celibacy and marriage among clergy in the Catholic Church. The link has the full article.

Ordination of Married Man in the Eastern Church
In the previous year, 1971, the Holy Synod of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church at its annual meeting in Ain-Traz, Lebanon, attempted to clarify the relationship between the priesthood and celibacy and marriage. The Synod stated in point 9 of its “Official Teaching”: “As regards the question concerning the connection between celibacy and the priesthood, the experience of our Church confirms, as we have already stated, that there is no intrinsic connection between celibacy and the priesthood; the two are distinct charisms. Celibacy, together with the priesthood, is a special way of bearing witness in the Church.” The Synod took great pains in its “Official Teaching” to show the advantages of both married and celibate priests and the need for both in today's Melkite Church.
In Europe today, the Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia has been ordaining married men to the priesthood as has been its custom since its origins. This discipline was never voided, even though there was at times a strong tendency to latinization in that region when some Latin hierarchs or strongly latinized Byzantines wanted to impose celibacy in the Greek Catholic Church. 
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on the territory of Ukraine ordains to the priesthood candidates who are married, and has never stopped, even during the underground period from 1946 to 1989.  There had been an attempt to change the traditional discipline for a short period after World War I in Galicia (Western Ukraine). The three bishops there-Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky of Lviv, Bishop Josaphat Kotsylovski of Peremyshl and Bishop Gregory Khomyshyn of Stanislaviv-decided to admit to seminaries only candidates who were willing to accept ordination as celibates. However, due to a shortage of suitable candidates, Metropolitan Andrew soon reversed his decision and began to accept candidates who would marry before ordination. The eparchies of Peremyshl and Stanislaviv also could not attract a sufficient number of celibate seminarians. Later, Metropolitan Andrew's successor, Metropolitan Joseph Slipy preferred ordaining celibate candidates. Towards the end of World War II some of the older, married Galician priests fled with their families from the Communists and went to Western Europe and eventually to North America. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Social Saturdays (3/12/11)

It's Saturday! That means we're chatting with the living and praying for the dead.
Prayer Requests:
  • For the souls of the reposed, especially for Metropolitan Nicholas and for D. 
  • For those suffering because of the recent earthquake and tsunami and their aftereffects, particularly those missing or hurt and their families.
  • For A, that he be restored to peace and health.
  • For Eden and Selah as they face surgery tomorrow.
  • For C, that all making decisions on his behalf bring glory to God.
  • For Christians in Ethiopia, Europe, Egypt, Somalia, China, the Middle East, and around the world who are persecuted for their faith. 
Continuing Prayer Requests:
  • For the souls of the reposed, especially Kaye, Tim L., Mother Nadia Baranik, Fr. Constantine Brown, Elaine Dorko, Helen Boytim, and George Michael Ritchey. 
  • For an abused woman and mother, A, who is in desperate straits and in need of many prayers, especially this Tuesday
  • For Kat's family, including their current and future children, that they be restored to health and guided in discernment and finances in their next adoption. (Kat has other prayer requests at the link.) 
  • For Francisco and his mother who are surrounded by violence that the Lord protect them and give them hope and peace as well as guide them to jobs that allow them to provide for their needs and glorify Him. 
  • For all of our clergy, religious, and monastics that they be directed in strength, courage, patience, and fortitude to radically live God's will for their lives. 
  • For mothers, that they not abort their offspring; for infants in danger of being put to death in the womb; for a change of heart of providers of abortions and of their collaborators; for human victims of stem cell research, genetic manipulation, cloning, and euthanasia; and for all entrusted with the government of peoples, that they may promote the "Culture of Life" so as to put an end to the "culture of death." 
  • For Your Word From The Wise and all who are connected to it, that it may bring glory to God. 
  • For the intentions of those who are praying. 
Do you have a prayer request you'd like to add? Please put it in the comment box any time this week so we can pray with you.

What's going on at Your Word From The Wise?
  • I followed up on the interviews that are out. 
  • I sent out an interview request.
  • I coordinated and conducted a new interview. It will hopefully be posted soon!
  • I added the Link Within widget to the blog which automatically pulls 5 related posts and places links to them at the bottom of every post. It says the recommendations it makes will get better with time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

St. Ephrem's Hymn on Fasting

Picture by John Sheppard and courtesy of
Over four hundred hymns composed by Ephrem still exist. Granted that some have been lost, Ephrem's productivity is not in doubt. The church historian Sozomen credits Ephrem with having written over three million lines. Ephrem combines in his writing a threefold heritage: he draws on the models and methods of early Rabbinic Judaism, he engages skillfully with Greek science and philosophy, and he delights in the Mesopotamian/Persian tradition of mystery symbolism.

The most important of his works are his lyric, teaching hymns (madrāšê). These hymns are full of rich, poetic imagery drawn from biblical sources, folk tradition, and other religions and philosophies. The madrāšê are written in stanzas of syllabic verse, and employ over fifty different metrical schemes. Each madrāšâ had its qālâ, a traditional tune identified by its opening line. All of these qālê are now lost. It seems that Bardaisan and Mani composed madrāšê, and Ephrem felt that the medium was a suitable tool to use against their claims. The madrāšê are gathered into various hymn cycles. Each group has a title — Carmina Nisibena, On Faith, On Paradise ... Against Heresies — but some of these titles do not do justice to the entirety of the collection (for instance, only the first half of the Carmina Nisibena is about Nisibis). Each madrāšâ usually had a refrain (‘ûnîṯâ), which was repeated after each stanza. Later writers have suggested that the madrāšê were sung by all women choirs with an accompanying lyre.

Particularly influential were his Hymns Against Heresies. Ephrem used these to warn his flock of the heresies which threatened to divide the early church. He lamented that the faithful were "tossed to and fro and carried around with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness and deceitful wiles." He devised hymns laden with doctrinal details to inoculate right-thinking Christians against heresies such as docetism. The Hymns Against Heresies employ colourful metaphors to describe the Incarnation of Christ as a fully human and divine. Ephrem asserts that Christ's unity of humanity and divinity represents peace, perfection and salvation; in contrast, docetism and other heresies sought to divide or reduce Christ's nature, and in doing so would rend and devalue Christ's followers with their false teachings.

Ephrem also wrote verse homilies (mêmrê). These sermons in poetry are far fewer in number than the madrāšê. The mêmrê are written in a heptosyllabic couplets (pairs of lines of seven syllables each).

The third category of Ephrem's writings is his prose work. He wrote biblical commentaries on the Diatessaron (the single gospel harmony of the early Syriac church), on Genesis and Exodus, and on the Acts of the Apostles and Pauline Epistles. He also wrote refutations against Bardaisan, Mani, Marcion and others.

Ephrem wrote exclusively in the Syriac language, but translations of his writings exist in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek and other languages. Some of his works are only extant in translation (particularly in Armenian). Syriac churches still use many of Ephrem's hymns as part of the annual cycle of worship. However, most of these liturgical hymns are edited and conflated versions of the originals.

The most complete, critical text of authentic Ephrem was compiled between 1955 and 1979 by Dom Edmund Beck OSB as part of the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium.

Source: Wikipedia's article on Ephrem the Syrian/Writings

1.1 Christ Adam and the Fast
The is the fast of the First Born, the first of his victories.
Let us rejoice in his coming; for in fasting he has overcome.
Though he could have overcome by any means,
He revealed for us the strength hidden in fasting, Overcomer of All.
For by means of it a man can overcome that one who with fruit overcame Adam;
He became greedy and gobbled it. Blessed is the First-Born who encompassed
Our weakness with the wall of his great fasting.

Blessed is the King who adorned the Holy Church with Fasting, Prayer and Vigil.

1.2 The Fast Purifies the Eye of the Soul to See God
This is the fast which exalts; which appeared from the First Born
So as to extol the younger ones. There is occasion for delight for the discerning ones in fasting;
When one sees how much he has grown. Fasting secretly purifies the soul
So it can gaze on God and grow by the vision of Him.
For the weight that is from the earth, bends it back to the earth.
Blessed is he who gave us fasts,
The sheer wings by which we fly to him.

Fasting is bright and beautiful for any who bright enough
To gaze on God. The Turbid One, stirred up by anything
Cannot fix the eye on that Clear One. He who possesses a clear eye
He can gaze upon him; as much as it is given to him to gaze.
Instead of the clarifying wine, let us clarify our thought
So that we will be able to see the Clear One
Who overcame the Evil Oneby means of fasting, that Disturber of All.

1.4 The Fast and the Temptation of the Lord
This is the fast through which greed escapes
The peoples at the top of the mountain ; clothed in fasting he overcame the Greedy One.
Who had clothed himself with the food of Adam's house.
The Lord of Victories gave us his weapon, he ascended on high to be an observer.
Who would not run to the weapon by which God overcame
It is a shameful thing, my brothers, to be bested by the weapon
Which overcomes and causes to overcome all creation.

1.5 The Fast Lets One See the Invisible Enemy
Because the enemy is not visible, let us purge our thinking so that he sees that we see him.
He is able to steal some of those whom he sees
That they have not noticed him.
When a soul undertakes a fast,
The the fast bears it and gives it back to its counterpart.
Amid the volleys of sharpened arrows, hiddren from view, the hidden eye
Is polished to see from whence they come.

1.6 The True Fast and the Scriptures
This is the instructive fast, it teaches the athlete the ways of the contest.
Draw near to it, study, learn to struggle shrewdly.
Behold he instructed us to fast with our mouths and hearts,
Let us not fast from bread and think thoughts
In which the hidden poison of death is hidden.
Let us confess on the fast day the First Born
Who gave us the word of life to meditate on.

Let the scriptures be for us like a mirror, let us see in them our fast
For the Bible descriminates between fasts and prayer.
It chooses one type of fast and rejects another
Some fasters appease God and others anger him.
There is a prayer which is sinful, and another which is the medicine of life
O Lord let us rejoice in our fast
As he rejoiced, my brothers, in his own fast.

1.8 The Fast of Christ
The fast is not defiling for the Holy One, for through it he descended and shone
Another mixing made the fast defiled, though itself is pure.
Examine nature! Are not desirable fruit
Polluted by loathsome fruit?
Our thoughts are repelled by them though they be washed many times.
Blessed is the Pure One who receives those fruits
Which all the penitent having purified them give to him.

1.9 The Effort of the Enemy to Make the Fast of No Use
The Troubler mixes filth with our Clarity,
So as to make the first-fruits of our prayer and fasting hateful.
It is possible by his jealousy, that our gift be rebuked.
Take away your deceits from your fasts, remove mockery from your praise.
May your voices wash your mouths from lies.
Allow us, O First Born in your mercy
To uproot hidden weeds from our thoughts

Do not be hindered O Simple Ones regarding that Deceiver who robs Fasters.
For when he sees someone abstaining from bread,
He is filled with anger. When he sees someone standing to pray
He fills his mind with one distraction after another.
He steals from his heart the prayer of his mouth,
O Lord of ours give us an eye to see,
How he steals the truth in deceit.

Come be gathered, my brothers, on this fast day let us sit and marvel at how evil is the Evil One
When he makes a transaction (gives and takes), he impoverishes us by what is his.
And does he become wealthy through what is ours; the truth that he steals suits him not.
The deceit he gives to us does not avail.
It is similar to the whore his companion, who is neither ours nor his.
Judge O Lord, between us and him,
For it is through you that Solomon judged the unclean women.

1.12 The False Fast of the Jews
Let us seek the trace of truth on the fast day; Let us go forth by it to the place of abodes
For the Blind People run, on a fast day with pride and wandering
Though there is a fast in their mouth, yet an idol is in the heart;
Prayer is on their lips, but divination in their heart
Their stomach is devoid of bread, but full of lies;
Though they wash their hands all day,
Hidden blood still screams against them.

1.13 Ephrem's Lament
Blessed is he who endured and sustained and his head is crowned in exaltation.
With a bold voice, as one who deserves a payment, he demands his wage
He is not like me, who is too weak to fast, too lowly for the vigil
The first to be overcome. My enemy possesses skill
When he overcomes me, he lets me rise that he might again cast me low.
O Sea of mercies give me a handful of mercies

Source: Saint Ephrem's Hymns on Fasting: An Annotated Translation and Concordance by Gary A. Anderson, Sidney Griffith, and Robin Darling Young

Theological Thursdays brings you homilies, lectures, interviews, and biographies on diverse topics including history, theology, spirituality, and philosophy as they pertain to the Eastern and Oriental Catholic Churches. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Minnesota Blizzard Makes His Way to Modern Italy

Recalling that it was for only 30 silver shekels that Judas betrayed the Lord 

Romanian Catholic priests who were legitimately married before their valid ordinations may not serve their own faithful in Italy, according to a leaked document from the Italian Catholic Episcopal Conference:
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
Archbishop of Genoa, Italy
and president of the
Italian Episcopal Conference
(The Romanian Catholic Church follows the Byzantine liturgical rite and retains many customs — such as a married priesthood — similar to Eastern Orthodoxy, from which it broke away in 1698 when it entered union with Rome. It is estimated there are more than half a million Romanian Catholics in Italy.) 
The letter from the Bishops’ Conference cited the importance of “protecting ecclesiastical celibacy” and the need to “prevent confusion among the faithful.” At issue is the concept that the free exercise of the right of Eastern Catholic Churches to ordain married priests is limited to their “canonical territory” or traditional homelands. Outside of their traditional territories, this right is seen as subject to regulation by the Pope.  
Click here to see the the full article on the website of St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

Wednesday's Wages are a series of posts which highlight past and present struggles faced by Eastern and Oriental Catholics including the topics of bioethics and persecution. Do you know of a homily, lecture, interview or biography which you think should be featured here? Leave a comment to let me know.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We have a winner!

Your Word From The Wise brought you three opportunities to be entered into a drawing for this beautiful Deisis icon. The entries are in and the winner is... 
Dennis O'Donovan!

Disappointed that you didn't win this time?
Watch this space for another freebie contest which will be coming up soon!
I'll be contacting Dennis today to coordinate shipping. Congratulations!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Greek Catholics in the USSR

Recalling that it was for only 30 silver shekels that Judas betrayed the Lord

A brief excerpt from's page on Carpatho-Russian Religion:
Greek Catholic Bishop
Theodore Romzha -
Killed by the NKVD
(KGB) in 1947 

"In 1946, all the Greek Catholic bishops and the majority of priests were sent to concentration camps in Siberia." -Anna, niece of Aleksander Simkovich

Conversely, it was Greek Catholics of the Carpathians who suffered in the 1940s. The Soviet government annulled the Union of Uzhgorod in 1946, and the Greek Catholic Church was liquidated. Priests who refused to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church were sent to the Siberian and Arctic labor camps, where most died. Others were simply murdered in their home villages. To add salt to the wound, in 1971 the Russian Orthodox Synod of Zagorsk, U.S.S.R. indirectly justified this violence by officially ratifying the annulment.

Wednesday's Wages are a series of posts which highlight past and present struggles faced by Eastern and Oriental Catholics including the topics of bioethics and persecution. Do you know of a homily, lecture, interview or biography which you think should be featured here? Leave a comment to let me know.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nathan Hicks' Pilgrim Iconography

I recently interviewed iconographer Nathan Hicks about where his interest in iconography started, his apprenticeship, and the opening of his own icon studio.

Nathan: You have an icon studio called Pilgrim Iconography. I'd like to talk with you about how you became an iconographer. Were you always interested in art?
Art has always been a passion of mine, so yes. I've been drawing ever since I could remember, and started trying to draw comics around the age of eight. I was a huge fan of Spider-Man, and my parents probably saved all my old comics that I'd made. I was a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, as well as Star Wars. At eight I'd decided to become a comic book artist.
When were you first introduced to iconography and how did that affect your vocational aspirations?
I've been around iconography in some way, shape, or form for my entire life. My father has an icon of Saint Nicholas that's been hanging on our wall since before I was born. It was that I was so caught up in what I was doing that I didn't really take the time to look. It wasn't until I was fifteen and saw Father Tom's iconography that I realized the potential for beauty and truth that iconography had. Right then I decided that iconography was what I wanted to do, and the rest, as they say, is history (well, history that I'm going to relate to you anyway).
Father Tom being Father Thomas Loya of Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen, Illinois?

How did you come to see his iconography and what was it that made such a profound impression upon you?

Yes, Father Tom of Annunciation. He's a great man, and I can only hope to be half the man that he is. I started going to his church at fifteen, and the reaction that I had to those walls... someone had to yank me out of the church cause they saw I was about to start shouting in excitement.
One of the central tenets of iconography is that beauty and truth are connected on a profound level. This was something that I'd known long before I'd learned it from iconography. I honestly think it was the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes that first introduced the idea to me. There are so many moments in that comic that are hilarious, beautiful, and true, that I couldn't help but notice on some intuitive level that they seemed to be connected. When I saw Father Tom's work it was the most beautiful art I'd seen in my entire life, and therefore the most true. There was something in the way that Father used the color white that was amazing, and I found myself wanting to imitate that. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

St. Joseph the Betrothed UGCC of Chicago, Illinois

I will post more information tonight on the parish, but I want to get this out there right now. St. Joseph the Betrothed UGCC is live streaming Vespers for the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple right... about... now.

(It was live streaming and had not yet started a couple minutes ago, but at the moment of posting it was saying the channel had gone offline. Hopefully it comes back quickly.)

Go see it here:

Then come back tonight to read more about their parish!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Win a free icon! Read more here...

Your Word From The Wise is bringing you three opportunities to be entered into a drawing for this beautiful Deisis icon! 

With a gold and silver background, the 6 ¾" x 8 ¼" icon on wood depicts Christ Pantocrator--Christ in His majesty--with the Mother of God and John the Baptist flanking him, their heads bowed and arms raised in prayerful supplication to Christ on the behalf of mankind. It's approximately a $30 USD value, which one Your Word From The Wise reader will receive free of charge directly from The Byzantine Seminary Press!

  • Publicly "follow" Your Word From The Wise and you'll be entered once. 
  • "Like" the Your Word From The Wise Facebook page and you'll be entered once. 
  • Share this link with at least 10 other people through e-mail, your Facebook wall, YouTube, your website, and/or another online venue and let me know that you've done so and you'll be entered once. 

How to enter up to three times:
  1. To be entered for following the blog, click the "Follow" button near the top of the right hand column of the blog (under "Be a Lover of Truth") and follow the instructions. All those who show as public followers on March 1, 2011 will be entered into the drawing once. (
  2. To be entered for liking the Facebook page, click the thumbs-up "like" button at the top of the Your Word From The Wise facebook page. All those who show as fans on March 1, 2011 will be entered into the drawing once. (
  3. To be entered for sharing the drawing with others, first share this page about the drawing with at least 10 others online and then contact me one time through a PM, post or comment on Facebook, by commenting to this blog post, or by emailing me. Tell me that you shared this page and would like to be entered in the drawing. I will respond with a confirmation that it was received. If you don't receive a timely response, please write me once more and note that it is a second correspondence. All those whom I send a confirmation to by March 1, 2011 will be entered into the drawing once. (
That's it! Three easy ways to have this magnificent icon in your home by Easter!

**Edited to clarify** If you're already following the blog or Facebook page, you do not need to unsubscribe and resubscribe. You will be entered as long as you show up in the list of fans/followers on March 1; it doesn't matter when you signed up. If you do not want to be entered, you can write me an email or you can forego the icon should you win.

Coptic Midnight Praises (Tasbeha)

Because I quite possibly have the coolest husband in the world, our alarm clock is set to play the tasbeha hymns as we awake. Unfortunately, I can't find a Coptic Catholic audio or video source for them on the Internet. If you know any Coptic Catholics, please let them know that there is a desire to have them online!
Arise, O children of the light, let us praise the Lord of hosts
That He may grant us the salvation of our souls.
Whenever we stand before You in the flesh
Cast away from our minds the slumber of sleep.
Grant us sobriety O Lord, that we may know how to stand before You at times of prayer.
And ascribe unto You, the befitting glorification, and win the forgiveness of our many sins. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Behold bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
You who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
By night, lift up your hands, O you saints and bless the Lord. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
The Lord bless you from Zion, who made heaven and earth. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind
Let my cry come before You, O Lord. Give me understanding according to Your word. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Let my supplication come before You, deliver me according to Your word. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
My lips shall utter praise, for You teach me your statutes. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
My tongue shall speak of Your words, for all Your commandments are righteousness. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Let Your hand become my help, for I have chosen Your precepts. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
I longed for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your Law is my delight. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Let my soul live and it shall praise You, and let Your judgments help me. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
I have gone astray, like a lost sheep, seek Your servant for I do not forget Your commandments. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Glory be to the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Now and forever, and unto the age of all ages amen. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Glory be to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto all ages, amen. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind..
Glory be to You, O Good One, the Lover of Mankind. Glory be to Your Mother the Virgin, and all Your saints. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Glory be to You O only-begotten One, O holy Trinity, have mercy upon us. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
Let God arise, and let all His enemies be scattered, and let all that hate His holy name, flee from before His face. Glory be to You, O Lover of Mankind.
As for Your people, let them be blessed, a thousand thousand fold, and ten thousand ten thousand fold, doing Your will.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
Friday's Fast features homilies, lectures, interviews, and biographies on topics such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and repentance. For in the cross of Christ crucified lies both the power of God and the wisdom of God for those being saved (I Corinthians 1:24).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Union of Brest

The Union of Brest was the 1595-1596 decision of the majority of Orthodox bishops in the region of what is modern Ukraine, Poland and Belarus to depart from the Orthodox Church and to seek reunion with the Pope of Rome. They and Rome agreed to the below 33 conditions of union and, from that union, the Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church and Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church emerged.
Brief History of the Union of Brest (1595) 
[These articles were accepted by the hierarchy of the Church in Kiev in three languages: Ukrainian, Polish, and Latin. It is on this basis that the Church of Kiev is in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
The articles frequently refer to the King of Poland. The function of the King of Poland vis-à-vis the Greek-Catholic Church were assumed by the Austrian Emperor. As there is no longer a King or Emperor, and the Greek-Catholic Church is certainly not state-supported in Ukraine, these functions revert to the synod or lapse entirely.]
We require prior guarantees of these articles from the Romans before we enter into union with the Roman Church.
1.—Since there is a quarrel between the Romans and Greeks about the procession of the Holy Spirit, which greatly impede unity really for no other reason than that we do not wish to understand one another—we ask that we should not be compelled to any other creed but that we should remain with that which was handed down to us in the Holy Scriptures, in the Gospel, and in the writings of the holy Greek Doctors, that is, that the Holy Spirit proceeds, not from two sources and not by a double procession, but from one origin, from the Father through the Son.
2.—That the divine worship and all prayers and services of Orthros, Vespers, and the night services shall remain intact (without any change at all) for us according to the ancient custom of the Eastern Church, namely: the Holy Liturgies of which there are three, that of Saint Basil, that of Saint Chrysostom, and that of Epiphanius which is served during the Great Lent with Presanctified Gifts, and all other ceremonies and services of our Church, as we have had them until now, for in Rome these same services are kept within the obedience of the Supreme Pontiff, and that these services should be in our own language.
3.—That the Mysteries of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ should be retained entirely as we have been accustomed until now, under the species of bread and wine; that this should remain among us eternally the same and unchangeable.
4.—That the Mystery of Holy Baptism and its form should remain among us unchanged as we have served it until now, without any addition.
5.—We shall not debate about purgatory, but we entrust ourselves to the teaching of the Holy Church.
6.—We will accept the new calendar, if the old one cannot be, but without any violation of the Paschalia [the Easter cycle] and our other feasts as they were in the time of unity, because we have some special feasts which the Romans do not have; on the sixth of January we celebrate the memory of the Baptism of the Lord Christ and the first revelation of the One God in Trinity. We call this feast Theophany, and on this day we have a special service of the Blessing of Waters.
7.—That we should not be compelled to take part in processions on the day of Corpus Christi—that we should not have to make such processions with our Mysteries inasmuch as our use of the Mysteries is different.
8.—Likewise that we should not be compelled to have the blessing of fire, the use of wooden clappers, and similar ceremonies before Easter, for we have not had such ceremonies in our Church until now, but that we should maintain our ceremonies according to the rubrics and the Typicon of our Church.
9.—That the marriages of priests remain intact, except for bigamists.
10.—That the metropolitanate, the episcopate, and other ecclesiastical dignities shall be conferred on no one except the Rus' people or Greeks, who must be of our religion. And since our Canons require that the Metropolitain, the Bishops, and so on, first elected by the clergy, must be worthy people, we ask the King's Grace that the election be free, leaving intact the authority of the King's Grace to appoint the one whom he pleases. This means that as soon as someone has died we should elect four candidates, and the King's Grace will freely chose whom he wishes from among the four. This is necessary, especially so that the persons named to such positions will be worthy and educated, for the King's Grace, who is not of the same religion, cannot know who is worthy of this, and thus it has happened that such uninstructed people were appointed that they were scarcely literate. If the King's Grace should wish to appoint a layman to these spiritual posts, the appointee must receive Holy Orders within no more than three months under pain of losing appointment, according to the Constitution of the Parliament of Grondo and the Articles of King Sigmund Augustus of blessed memory, approved by the present King's Grace, for at the moment there are some who hold certain spiritual appointments in their hands but do not receive Holy Orders even for years, justifying themselves with some sort of royal "exemptions". We ask that in future this should not be.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Armenian Genocide

Recalling that it was for only 30 silver shekels that Judas betrayed the Lord 

An excerpt from
"Armenian History"
by Levon Zekiyan

Persians ruled Eastern Armenia until 1828, when it was annexed by Russia. However, it was the Ottoman Turks who governed most of the Armenian land and population (Western Armenia). During the 19th century, Armenians under Turkish rule suffered from discrimination, heavy taxation and armed attacks.

As Christians, Armenians lacked legal recourse for injustices. They were taxed beyond their means, forbidden to bear arms in a country where murdering a non-Muslim often went unpunished, and were without the right to testify in court on their own behalf. During the late l9th century, the increasingly reactionary politics of the declining Ottoman Empire and the awakening of the Armenians culminated in a series of Turkish massacres throughout the Armenian provinces in 1894-96. Any illusion the Armenians had cherished to the effect that the acquisition of power in 1908 by the Young Turks might bring better days was soon dispelled. For in the spring of 1909, yet another orgy of bloodshed took place in Adana, where 30,000 Armenians lost their lives after a desperate resistance. World War I offered a good opportunity for Turks to "solve the issue." In 1915, a secret military directive ordered the arrest and prompt execution of Armenian community leaders.

Armenian males serving in the Ottoman army were separated from the rest and slaughtered. The Istanbul government decided to deport the entire Armenian population. Armenians in towns and villages were marched into deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia. During the "relocation" many were flogged to death, bayoneted, buried alive in pits, drowned in rivers, beheaded, raped or abducted into harems. Many simply expired from heat exhaustion and starvation. 1.5 million people perished in this first genocide of the 20th century. Another wave of massacres occurred in Baku (1918), Shushi (1920) and elsewhere.

The defeat of the Ottoman Turks in World War I and the disintegration of the Russian Empire gave the Armenians a chance to declare their independence. On May 28, 1918, the independent Republic of Armenia was established, after the Armenians forced the Turkish troops to withdraw in the battles of Sardarapat, Karakilisse and Bashabaran. Overwhelming difficulties confronted the infant republic, but amid these conditions the Armenians devoted all their energies to the pressing task of reconstructing their country. But due to pressure exerted simultaneously by the Turks and Communists, the republic collapsed in 1920. Finally, the Soviet Red Army moved into the territory (Eastern Armenia) and on November 29, 1920, declared it a Soviet republic. Armenia was made part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic in 1922, and in 1936, it became one of the Soviet Union's constituent republics.

The tumultuous changes occurring throughout the Soviet Union beginning in the 1980's inevitably had repercussions in Armenia. In 1988, a movement of support began in Armenia for the constitutional struggle of Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) Armenians to exercise their right to self-determination. (This predominantly Armenian populated autonomous region had been placed under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan by an arbitrary decision of Stalin in 1923.)

That same year, in 1988, Armenia was rocked by severe earthquakes that killed thousands, and supplies from both the Soviet Union and the West were blocked by the Azerbaijani Government fighting the Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh. Both of these issues have dominated Armenia's political arena since the first democratic election held in Armenia during the Soviet era. In 1990, the Armenian National Movement won a majority of seats in the parliament and formed a government. On September 21, 1991, the Armenian people overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence in a national referendum, and an independent Armenia came into being.

Wednesday's Wages are a series of posts which highlight past and present struggles faced by Eastern and Oriental Catholics including the topics of bioethics and persecution. Do you know of a homily, lecture, interview or biography which you think should be featured here? Leave a comment to let me know.
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