Second Translation

Below is another, more literal translation from the original Greek of the previous document regarding marriage outside the church.  Many thanks to Paul Badavas, who previously translated the original Sts. Anargyroi church charter that is on the history page of the parish website, and Nicholas Paschalides, our Greek School director and assistant chanter.  Both submitted translations of the document at my request (my hyper-katharevousa is poor) in a speedy and thorough fashion (should I have said in an alacritous fashion to use just one adjective? : ).

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA

10 EAST 79TH STREET

NEW YORK 21, N. Y.

DECEMBER 22, 1950

 

In correspondence to the most Pious Supreme Priests and the Honourable Governing Councils of the Orthodox Greek communities under the jurisdiction of the Holy Archdiocese of America both North and South.

Beloved

During our travels to the American Orthodox Greek communities as well as our frequent letter correspondence with the Holy Archdiocese, we realized that exist a great number (of genetic) Greeks who have already married in other Churches, non-Orthodox, a fact that greatly impedes/embarrasses such Greeks and their relationships with the communities they reside in.

The Holy Archdiocese regards with great empathy the circumstance of these Orthodox brethren and affectionately wishes to facilitate and extract those from the predicament that are found in.

Such as, led by this empathy and concern, knowing full well with extreme ecclesiastic leniency and consent to help those, we order that the weddings that took place in non-Orthodox churches up until the end of the year 1940 to be recognised, and those concerned, to be able to have and to exercise freely all community privileges and responsibilities, as the rest (of the genetically-alike) Greeks.

 

However, for those who got married only under the civil authorities, the above reconciliation is not valid.   The civil wedding ceremony alone is not enough for the Orthodox Church.  Those under such union cannot have any community and religious privileges, unless they bless their marriage in an Orthodox Church. For this reason we comment the Curators of our Communities, to approach them with affection and convince them, that it is easy to rectify their situation by making their wedding holy (blessed).

In addition, we wish wholeheartedly that you encounter the joyful days of the Dodekaemeron (12-day-period) in health under the Lord’s ever-blessing, as for the New Year may be for you always happy and blessed by God.

With much love in Christ

Fervent blessings of the Lord

The Archbishop

Of America Michael

 

The Seal of the Greek Archdiocese

Of North and South America

 Go to post page

November 30th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Church Weddings/No Orthodox Church

Below is a letter from Archbishop Michael (his biography is here) from December 22, 1950 in the original Greek with a working English translation.  There were many instances at the time of Greeks coming to the midwest and mountain states and marrying Americans in non-Orthodox churches since in most places there were no Orthodox churches at that time (I wonder if, for example, the parents of the Andrews Sisters were married in this sort of environment in Minnesota over a hundred years ago).  In the letter Archbishop Michael addresses the situation and says that out of oikonomia marriages in non-Orthodox Christian churches before the end of 1940 would be recognized as church marriages although purely civil weddings would not be.  Here is the English with the original Greek below.  Our friends at the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA) may also be doing something with this so make sure to keep up with their site.

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA 10 EAST 79TH STREET NEW YORK 21, N. Y.

DECEMBER 22, 1950

To the most devout Presiding Priests and the Governing Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities of the Sacred Archdiocese of North and South America.

Beloved,

During our visits to the Greek Orthodox Communities of America and from the regular correspondence of the Sacred Archdiocese, we have ascertained, that there are a great number of Greek Americans, who were married in other churches, not Orthodox, which makes it very difficult for them in their relationship with the community where they live.

The Sacred Archdiocese looks with sympathy for those Orthodox brothers of ours and with affection desires to liberate them from the situation they find themselves in. For this and pushed by such sympathy, we tend toward leniency and condescension to help them, and we authorize, that the weddings that took place in non-Orthodox churches until the end of the year 1940, be recognised, and those concerned to be able to have and to exercise freely all community privileges and responsibilities, as the other Greek American members.

For those who were married in a civil ceremony only the above recognition does not apply. The civil ceremony alone is not enough for the Orthodox Church. Those married in a civil ceremony only are not able to have community and religious privileges, unless they also marry in an Orthodox Church.

For this reason we ask the Priests of our Communities, to approach them with affection and convince them, that it is easy to rectify their situation and to arrange for their wedding In addition, we wish with all our heart that you pass the joyful days of the Dodekaemeron with health and the Lord’s every blessing, as far as the new year is concerned, it is for us always prosperous and blessed by God, we end.

With much agape Fervent blessings of the Lord The Archbishop Of America Michael

The Seal of the Greek Archdiocese Of North and South America

 Go to post page

November 29th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

The Redemption Of The Serpent

Below is a repost of an article from last year – a version of it will be up on the church site and I thought I would share it again on the blog:

One of the most colorful parts of any nativity scene is the three Wise Men or Magi.  They are usually depicted in colorful robes and bear the traditional gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Often they will be accompanied by the camels or, more rarely but more correctly, the horses on which they rode.  Interestingly, in their appearance in the Gospel of Matthew the Wise Men are not enumerated; the number three is associated with them due to the three gifts.

 

As interesting and colorful as the Magi appear, what is their purpose in the story?  The key to understanding this is in the origin of the term magi, which is from a Greek root meaning magician or one who engages in augury.  This activity is strictly forbidden in scripture as being blasphemous, but the word magi in the Hellenistic era meant a follower of Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion now extinct in Iran but still followed by the exiled Parsi community.  The Magi are, in this sense, the ultimate Gentiles; magi is a term like “crowd”, “dogs”, and others that in the New Testament denotes a Gentile who accepts the good news of the gospel just as the chief priests and scribes struggle with it.

 

There is another shade of meaning to the Magi story, and it connects the episode to, of all things, the serpent in the Adam and Eve story.  The serpent famously tempts Eve, which is the beginning of their disobedience to God.  The Church Fathers, following a reference in the Book of Revelation, connect the serpent with Satan, but in the story this identity is never made explicit – it is inferred based on the activity of the serpent as a trickster and divider.  Serpent in Hebrew is naHash, which is from a root related to augury.  Here, the “one who engages in augury” has a very different role than the Magi.  In this sense, the placing of the Magi in the nativity story represents a redemption of the serpent.  Rather than being tempters or dividers, the Magi actively engage in doing God’s will.  The transition from serpent to Magi is not as stark as it seems.  In Numbers Moses uses a serpent as a staff of healing; the former agent of deception again becomes an instrument of God’s will.  In the Gospel of John Jesus brings the idea full-circle by comparing the raising of Moses’s brass serpent with the raising up of the Son of Man.

 

The Bible consistently uses unlikely characters – Nebuchadnezzar, a serpent, Zoroastrians, Roman soldiers – as agents of God’s will.  Those who are outside of the scriptural community are often shown as being more obedient to God than the insiders.  The connection of the serpent with the Magi is a representational redemption of the serpent.  As we enter the Advent season, we can see in this story a representation of the redemptive power of God’s love and mercy.

 Go to post page

November 20th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Menstruation And Holy Communion

Metropolitan Methodios distributed the writing below to us at our monthly clergy brotherhood meeting this morning.  It is from St. Gregory the Great to St. Augustine of Canterbury and is the last word on the “issue” of women receiving communion while menstruating.  Some of his language reflects the time in which this was written (6th century) but the bottom line is that a woman’s period should not keep her from receiving communion (no matter what Yiayia may say about it : ).

A WOMAN SHOULD NOT BE FORBIDDEN to enter the Church during the times of her monthly period; for the workings of nature cannot be considered sinful, and it is not right that she should be refused admittance since her condition is beyond her control. We know that the woman who suffered an issue of blood, humbly approaching behind our Lord, touched the hem of his robe and was at once healed of her sickness. If, therefore, the woman was right to touch our Lord’s robe, why may one who endures the workings of nature not be permitted to enter the church of God? And if it is objected that the woman in the Gospels was compelled by disease while these latter are bound by custom, then remember, my brother, that everything that we endure in this mortal body through the infirmity of its nature is justly ordained by God since the fall of man. For hunger, thirst, heat, cold and weariness originate in this infirmity of our nature; and our search for food against hunger, drink against thirst, coolness against heat, clothing against cold, and rest against weariness is only our attempt to obtain some remedy in our weakness. In this sense the menstrual flow in the woman is an illness. So if it was a laudable presumption of the woman who, in her disease, touched our Lord’s robe, why may not the same concession be granted to all women who endure the weakness of their nature?

A woman, therefore, should not be forbidden to receive the Mystery of Communion at these times. If any, out of a deep sense of reverence, do not presume to do so, this is commendable. But if they do so, they do nothing blameworthy. Sincere people often acknowledge their faults even when there is no actual fault, because a blameless action may often spring from a fault. For instance, eating when we are hungry is no fault, yet being hungry (in our present way) originates in Adam’s sin. Similarly, the monthly courses of women are no fault. They are caused by nature. But the defilement of our nature is apparent even when we have no deliberate intention to do evil, and this defilement springs from sin. So may we recognize the judgment which our sin brings upon us. And so may people who sinned willingly bear the punishment of their sin unwillingly.

Therefore when women, after due consideration, do not presume to approach the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord during their monthly period, they are to be commended. But if they are moved by devout love of this Holy Mystery to receive it as pious practice suggests that they do, they are not to be discouraged. For while the Old Testament makes outward observances important, the New Testament does not regard these things as highly as the inward disposition, which is the sole criterion for allotting punishment. For instance, the Law forbids the eating of many things as unclean, but in the Gospel the Lord says: “Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a person, but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” He also said, “Out of the mouth proceed evil thoughts” (See Mark 7:18-20). Here Almighty God shows clearly that evil actions spring from the root of evil thoughts. Similarly the apostle Paul says: “To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. And later he indicates the cause of their corruption, adding, “For their very minds and consciences are defiled” (Titus 1:15). If, therefore, no food is unclean to one of a pure mind, how can a woman who endures the laws of nature with a pure mind be considered impure?

 Go to post page

November 20th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Taking Back Sunday

Below is a note from Metropolitan Methodios and a joint statement from the recent Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation:

 

Sadly, Sunday has lost its significance in our society, becoming less of a day of worship of almighty God and more like any ordinary work day.  This especially affects our young people who are obligated to attend sports events on Sunday mornings rather than attend the Divine Liturgy.  At my request, this sad reality and its ramifications were discussed at the recent meeting of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation.  After lengthy discussion, the following joint statement was issued.  I ask you to read it carefully and approach civic, business and school authorities in your community to schedule sports events after 12 noon so that our young people may worship together with their families on Sunday mornings.

 

The Importance of Sunday

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation

Saint Paul’s College, Washington, DC
October 27, 2012

Recovering the theological significance of Sunday is fundamental to rebalancing our lives. As Orthodox and Catholics, we share a theological view of Sunday and so our purpose in this statement is four-fold: to offer a caring response to what is not just a human, but also a theological question; to add a little more volume to the growing chorus of Christian voices trying to be heard in the din of our non-stop worklife; to offer brief reflections in hopes of drawing attention to the fuller expositions elsewhere; and to reinforce the ecumenical consensus by speaking as Orthodox and Catholics with one voice.

For Christians, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is a special day consecrated to the service and worship of God.  It is a unique Christian festival.  It is “the day the Lord has made” (Ps. 117 (118):24). Its nature is holy and joyful. Sunday is the day on which we believe God acted decisively to liberate the world from the tyranny of sin, death, and corruption through the Holy Resurrection of Jesus.

The primacy of Sunday is affirmed by the liturgical practice of the early church. St. Justin the Martyr writing around 150 AD notes that “it is on Sunday that we assemble because Sunday is the first day, the day on which God transformed darkness and matter and created the world and the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead (First Apology, 67).” Sunday has always had a privileged position in the life of the church as a day of worship and celebration. On Sunday the Church assembles to realize her eschatological fullness in the Eucharist by which the Kingdom and the endless Day of the Lord are revealed in time.  It is the perpetual first day of the new creation, a day of rejoicing.  It is a day for community, feasting and family gatherings.

As we look at our fellow Christians and our society, we observe that everyone is short of time and stressed. One reason is that many of us have forgotten the meaning of Sunday, and with it the practices that regularly renewed our relationships and lives.  More and more Christian leaders see the effects of a 24/7 worklife and ask “Where is the time of rest?”  As members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, gathered October 25-27, 2012, we add our combined voice to their call.

Our purpose here is not to replace or replicate their message; it is to underscore and point to it.  Anyone who looks at the 1998 Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (The Lord’s Day) of Pope John Paul II and its cascade of patristic quotations will see there is already a feast of food for thought on the meaning of Sunday.  Anyone who reads the recent book Sunday, Sabbath, and the Weekend (2010, Edward O’Flaherty, ed.) will see there is also strong ecumenical consensus on the need to recover the meaning of Sunday– not just for our souls, but for our bodies, our hearts, and our minds as well.

Sadly Sunday has become less of a day of worship and family and more like an ordinary work day. Shopping, sports, and work squeeze out the chance for a day of worship or rest in the Christian sense.  By abandoning Sunday worship we lose out on the regenerative powers that flow out of the liturgical assembly.  And when Sunday becomes detached from its theological significance, it becomes just part of a weekend and people can lose the chance to see transcendent meaning for themselves and their lives (The Lord’s Day, 4).

Sunday is more than just the first day of the week.  In our faith we see how it is the ultimate day of new beginnings: “It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of “the new creation” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world’s first day and looks forward in active hope to “the last day”, when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5. The Lord’s Day, 1).”

Sunday even unlocks the mystery of time itself, for “…in commemorating the day of Christ’s Resurrection not just once a year but every Sunday, the Church seeks to indicate to every generation the true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world’s origin and its final destiny leads (The Lord’s Day, 2).”  The Lord’s Day is the day after the last day of the week and so it symbolizes eternity as well: what St. Augustine calls “a peace with no evening (Confessions 13:50).”  St. Basil the Great in his Treatise on the Holy Spirit writes, “Sunday seems to be an image of the age to come… This day foreshadows the state which is to follow the present age: a day without sunset, nightfall or successor, an age which does not grow old or come to an end (On the Holy Spirit 26:77).”

The apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II calls it a day of joy, rest, and solidarity.  Joy there is, because the disciples are always glad to see the Master. God scripturally established a day of rest as a gift to us, and rest there must be for every human person. Rest is built into our nature and also withdraws us “…from the sometimes excessively demanding cycle of earthly tasks in order to renew [our] awareness that everything is the work of God. There is a risk that the prodigious power over creation which God gives to man can lead him to forget that God is the Creator upon whom everything depends. It is all the more urgent to recognize this dependence in our own time, when science and technology have so incredibly increased the power which man exercises through his work. Finally, it should not be forgotten that even in our own day work is very oppressive for many people, either because of miserable working conditions and long hours — especially in the poorer regions of the world — or because of the persistence in economically more developed societies of too many cases of injustice and exploitation of man by man (The Lord’s Day, 65,66).”

As members of the Consultation, we strongly urge both clergy and laity to work cooperatively within their communities to stress the importance of Sunday for worship and family.  Foremost we call for all to render thanks to God and render love towards one another – and be willing to reserve time to do both — and avail ourselves of the riches of the Lord’s Day.  Appropriate authorities can be approached to schedule sports activities after 12 noon in order to give young athletes and their family the opportunity to worship on Sunday morning.  We call for our children to live in a timescape that respects the God-given rhythm of the week.

“Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction. He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us “his day” as an ever new gift of his love. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human (The Lord’s Day, 7).”

 Go to post page

November 17th, 2012 by Fr. Greg