Monday, April 21, 2014

Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen!

Last year, 2013, I was not able to post this greeting on the blog because most Orthodox Christians celebrated Pascha (Easter) five weeks after Western Christians - according to the old calendar. I am very grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the Paschal Mysteries with in union with all Christians this year. This is a blessing; let us pray for a permanent solution to this problem.

The irony of the situation is that the first canon of the First Ecumenical Council in A.D. 325, sought to reconcile the reckoning of Pascha for Christians throughout the world who were celebrating Our Lord's Resurrection on different days. 

For several decades a viable solution has been suggested which deserves consideration by all Christians. In 2010 the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation reiterated this resolution in a joint statement entitled, “Celebrating Easter/Pascha Together.” 

These advocates of Christian unity have proposed a very simple way of adhering to the A.D. 325 Council of Nicaea:
-         by continuing to celebrate the Paschal Feast on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, and 

-         by determining the Equinox from the meridian of Jerusalem (Longitude 35° 13'47.1) using the most accurate scientific instruments and astronomical data available.

That is it - no Julian supremacy issues or Jewish Passover debates– just obedience to the Nicene Council code and an accurate cosmological reckoning.
Christos Anesti!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Birthplace of the New Evangelization

For John Paul II, the faith and struggle of his countrymen in Nowa Huta heralded a new springtime for Christianity
by Krzysztof Mazur

When Blessed John Paul II is declared a saint April 27, the date will be meaningful for several reasons. First of all, it is the Second Sunday of Easter, which has been recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday since the Jubilee Year 2000. 

Cardinal Wojtyła lays a stone from the tomb of St. Peter
in the new Church at Nowa Huta in 1969.
In his homily for the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, apostle of the message of Divine Mercy and the first saint of the new millennium, Pope John Paul II encouraged his listeners to make St. Faustina’s prayer their own:“Jezu ufam tobie!” (“Jesus, I trust in you!”).

When Blessed John Paul II is declared a saint April 27, the date will be meaningful for several reasons. First of all, it is the Second Sunday of Easter, which has been recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday since the Jubilee Year 2000. 

In his homily for the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, apostle of the message of Divine Mercy and the first saint of the new millennium, Pope John Paul II encouraged his listeners to make St. Faustina’s prayer their own:“Jezu ufam tobie!” (“Jesus, I trust in you!”).

When, after a long period of suffering, the Holy Father finally entrusted his soul to the Lord in 2005, it was the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. The significance of this feast for John Paul II is no doubt part of the reason why Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his beatification on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011.

In 1982, on the first anniversary of the assassination attempt against him, John Paul II famously said, “In the designs of providence there are no mere coincidences.” The same could easily be said about the date of his canonization, for April 27 was also a date of great importance for John Paul II and the Church in Poland. On this date in 1960, a pivotal incident took place in the city of Nowa Huta as Karol Wojtyła, then a young auxiliary bishop, served in nearby Kraków. For the future pope, the events of this day and those that followed would come to symbolize the beginning of the new evangelization.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Retaining Young People in the Orthodox Church

Greek Orthodox youth playing "Retrieve the Cross" at the beach

A recent article on the challenge of interfaith marriage in Greek Orthodoxy has been circulating widely on Facebook.[1] One reason for the article’s popularity is its startling claim that 90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Orthodox Church.
Similarly dismal statistics are likely true for most Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, but the article in question concerns only the Greek Archdiocese.

The article assumes (but does not show) that the reason for this mass apostasy is two-fold: (1) the inevitable rise of interfaith marriages in America’s multicultural, religiously pluralistic, and secular society; and (2) the Greek Orthodox Church’s failure to respond to the “critical and immediate need for a broad religious outreach; to make room for interfaith families,” and thereby follow St. Paul’s example in extending “Christianity’s outreach to all nations.”

The article is vague when it comes to solutions for the obvious crisis of mass apostasy, so I may have misunderstood its argument, but it appears to suggest that if the Church were more sensitive, accepting of religious difference, and in tune with modern sensibilities, she would have a shot at retaining interfaith families in a secular age—and thereby find a means to stem the tide of apostasy.[2]

Such a conclusion is contrary to all evidence I am aware of, both from the sociology of American religion and from the Orthodox Church’s own experience throughout the ages.