Memory Eternal! + Dr. George J. Farha

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Source: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America MEMORY ETERNAL! Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God Dr. George J. Farha of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS, immediate past Vice Chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board of Trustees and the Antiochian Heritage Foundation's "Man of the Year" for 2013. Dr. Farha quietly fell asleep in Christ surrounded by his family at his home, shortly before nine o'clock on January … [Read more...]

Number of Christians killed for their faith doubled in 2013

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Source: The Globe and Mail by TOM HENEGHAN [LONDON — Reuters] Reported cases of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013 from the year before, with Syria accounting for more than the whole global total in 2012, according to an annual survey. Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, said on Wednesday it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last … [Read more...]

Patriarchs arrive in Bethlehem for Orthodox Christmas

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Source: Ma'an News Agency BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Orthodox, Assyrian, Coptic, and Ethiopian patriarchs arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to commence the celebration of Eastern Orthodox Christmas, which takes place on Tuesday. The Assyrian patriarch was first to arrive, followed by the Coptic Patriarch and Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, while the Ethiopian patriarch is expected to arrive later. Most Eastern Orthodox Christian denominations celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on … [Read more...]

Pope Francis to travel to Holy Land in May aims to boost Orthodox Christian relations

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Source: ABC News January 5, 2014 (Associated Press - VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Francis says his upcoming trip to the Holy Land aims to boost relations with Orthodox Christians. But the three-day visit in May also underscores Francis' close ties to the Jewish community, his outreach to Muslims and the Vatican's longstanding call for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The announcement was made Sunday just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up three days of talks with Israeli … [Read more...]

Middle East Christians seek prayers for peace

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In Egypt, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, survival is greatest gift they can hope for this Christmas Source: Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly by Judith Sudilovsky In years past, Christmas was a time of festive decorations, warm family gatherings and traditional worship services, but now, the only hope for many Christians in the Middle East this season is that they may be remembered in the Christmas prayers of Christians around the world; that they pray for peace and an end to the violence that … [Read more...]

Archbishop Nathaniel’s Nativity Pastoral Letter 2013

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Source: The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America PASTORAL LETTER 2013 NATIVITY OF OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST Dearly Beloved Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Faithful of our God-protected Episcopate: Christ is born! Let us glorify Him! By God’s grace, we have come to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks be to him! Christmas is an invitation to us to come to the manger wherein rests the infant Messiah and to make ourselves to be like little … [Read more...]

Fasting for Non-Monastics

Fr Sergei Sveshnikov

Source: Blog of Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov ST. HERMAN’S ORTHODOX YOUTH CONFERENCE, MULINO, OR 22-26 DECEMBER 2013  INTRODUCTION A curious phenomenon can be observed in the interactions between pastors and their parishioners at the beginning of each major fast of the Church. Pastors attempt to call their parishioners’ pious attention to the spiritual heights of fasting: the fighting against sin, the conquering of passions, the taming of the tongue, the cultivation of virtues. In turn, … [Read more...]

Orthodox Christian belief rises among Russians – poll

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Source: RIA Novostil MOSCOW, December 24 (RIA Novosti) – The proportion of Russians who consider themselves Orthodox Christians has risen four-fold in the past 24 years, according to a new survey. Two out of three Russians now regard themselves as Orthodox Christians compared to just one in six in 1989, when the Soviet Union was nearing dissolution. The poll of 1,603 people by the independent Levada Center found that 68 percent described themselves as Orthodox Christian now, up from 17 … [Read more...]

Russian Orthodox Church Seeks to Heal Centuries-Old Schism

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Source: RIA Novosti MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s dominant Orthodox Church said Friday it would discuss a draft document that will “heal” a schism with some of the smaller Russian Christian denominations known collectively as Old Believers. An expert on religions in Russia hailed the document as a “timely” effort by the increasingly powerful Russian Orthodox Church, but some of the Old Believers rejected the initiative, claiming it will not redeem centuries of … [Read more...]

Religious tensions set aside to renovate Church of the Nativity; cooperation viewed as ‘a miracle’

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Source: Religion News Service / Staten Island Real Time News BETHLEHEM, West Bank -- Two weeks before Christmas, one of the most powerful storms to hit the Middle East in a century dumped several inches of snow on the hills of Bethlehem. In addition to shuttering schools and businesses, the storm caused runoff to trickle down the walls of the Church of the Nativity, built above the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Fortunately, the water damage was relatively minor, church officials say, … [Read more...]