Rebuilding of St Nicholas Church at Ground Zero

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On behalf of the members of the Holy Eparchial Synod of our Holy Archdiocese, I am writing to you concerning the progress in the rebuilding of the Saint Nicholas Church at Ground Zero in New York City.  As you have heard and read, construction is proceeding on the beautiful Naos that will be a national shrine and a place of prayer, remembrance, and hope.  From the ashes of destruction is rising an edifice for the communion of God and humanity.  From the remnants of a violent act of hatred comes a holy place that affirms the power of love and faith.

This is the witness that will be offered by our Saint Nicholas National Shrine.  Centrally located, it will be a beacon to all who visit Ground Zero.  The light that will shine from this place will not only be by architectural design, but a light that will illuminate the path to God.  Saint Nicholas and the ministry offered there will shine forth the truth of the Gospel and grace that comes through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The National Shrine will also be a vibrant and beautiful witness of Orthodox Christianity and our Hellenic heritage.  Inspired by the architecture of Hagia Sophia and the Church of our Savior in Chora, built with marble from the same vein in Greece used for the Parthenon, and incorporating very modern elements and features, the Shrine will engage the attention of the millions of visitors to Ground Zero.  The church will invite all of their senses to encounter a faith and tradition that connects human and divine, celebrates life and goodness, and shows the path to salvation and eternal peace.

The Saint Nicholas National Shrine will also be a witness to this nation and to the world of the power of faith and love in response to great tragedy and loss.  In the aftermath of a horrific and evil act, Ground Zero became a place of sacrifice and compassion.  It has become a place symbolizing resilience and strength.  It is a place of remembrance and hope.  The completion of the Shrine will accentuate the essential role of faith in our lives and our nation.  Built upon a rock of truth, it will affirm the foundation of love for our creation, our purpose, and our shared humanity.  It will represent to the world the bonds that unite the many into one people who cherish liberty for all.

To complete this sacred task for the glory of God and this powerful witness, your support is needed.  On this Sunday, November 8, we are beginning an initiative to raise the remaining resources needed to complete the Saint Nicholas National Shrine.  We give thanks to Almighty God for the many benefactors who have contributed generously and for the gifts both large and small that have been offered in faith and love.  Our hope through additional offerings and pledges is to announce on the feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6, that all of the resources have been committed to complete this Shrine.  Between now and the feast of the Shrine’s patron saint, we ask you to consider prayerfully what you can give to finish a church and a ministry that will be known throughout the world for generations to come.

As you give prayerfully and for His glory, may we follow the example of our Holy Father among the Saints, Nicholas the Wonderworker, who gave everything for the spiritual riches and blessings from above, gifts of God that will last for eternity.

With paternal love in Christ,


Archbishop of America

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Science Studies the Jesus Prayer

Can seven words—Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me—change lives?

It may seem a lot of effort over just seven words: Finding 110 Eastern Orthodox Christians, giving them a battery of tests ranging from psychology to theology to behavioral medicine, and then repeating the tests 30 days later. But the seven words—”Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (a.k.a. the Jesus Prayer)—are among the most enduring in history. What Boston University psychologist George Stavros, Ph.D., wanted to find out was whether repeating the Jesus Prayer for ten minutes each day over the 30 days would affect these people’s relationship with God, their relationships with others, their faith maturity, and their “self-cohesion” (levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity). In short, Stavros was asking whether the Jesus Prayer can play a special role in a person’s “journey to the heart.”

The answer—at least on all the scales that showed any significant effect compared to the control group—turned out to be a resounding yes. Repeating the contemplative prayer deepened the commitment of these Christians to a relationship with a transcendent reality. Not only that, it reduced depression, anxiety, hostility, and feelings of inferiority to others. So powerful were the psychological effects of the prayer that Stavros urges his colleagues to keep it in mind as a healing intervention for clients. He recommends that the prayer be used along with communal practices so that one’s relationship with God and others is “subtly and continuously tutored.” In other words, going inside to find God does not mean going it alone.

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Worshiping as a Family

Worshiping as a Family

October 20, 2015 by Fr. Theodore Dorrance

Recently, a concern was voiced by some parents of young children regarding the difficulty of having their youngsters sit through our “long worship services.” Having been a parent of young children for many years with a wife who basically functioned as a single parent every Sunday and feast day, I am aware of how difficult it is to a young Orthodox Christian family. I realize that each Divine Liturgy is a struggle, trying to keep our children attentive and involved, wondering whether they and we are benefitting from the time and effort. This work is further compounded by the fact that many of us have not grown up ourselves in Orthodox worship. Standing for long periods of time, working hard to stay present and cut off intrusive thoughts, and entering into a rhythm and atmosphere so different from our everyday experience is even hard for us adults.

The Church has some very definite things to say about the presence of young children in the church services as full participants. Ever since the establishment of the Levitical priesthood, infants on the fortieth day of life have been brought to the Temple (church) to be blessed, dedicated and officially welcomed into the corporate worship life of the church community. From New Testament times until the present day, children have been baptized and chrismated as infants. From the day of the their baptism, they have been made full members and communicants of the holy mysteries of the Church. If young children are not expected to be in church, why does the Church bless both the mother and her child on the fortieth day and baptize and confirm them soon thereafter?! Of course, we know that they are clothed in Christ and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they can be totally immersed in the life of the Church. The wisest of all men, King Solomon, affirms this truth: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov.22:6)

The Church is the Body of Christ, and it is also one big spiritual family. As members of the same Body, we are called to come together to congregate, to meet God and one another and to exercise love and work out our salvation in common as one. This inevitably means that from time to time there is going to be a little noise, a little movement, because we have little ones in our midst. They do not yet have the same attention span to stay focused as long as adults. These little ones are in training. This is why we have a “Young Family Room,” which is an extension of the Nave. It is NOT a “Cry Room,” where chaos and running around are encouraged, but it is a place for our young ones to be when they are not quiet enough to be in the Nave. It is their place of transition as they learn how to worship and participate in the Divine Services in a way that is respectful and fitting to the other members of their spiritual family.

I repeat here the words of Solomon: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Believe me, and I speak from experience, if we persevere in this struggle to bring our young children to the worship services while they are young, they will soon learn to love worship. It will become a part of them, and they will feel at home in the Church. Experts have long said that the bulk of our personality and our sense of our “self ” is formed in the first five years of life. Along with the grace of baptism and chrismation, the foundational experience of our young ones in Orthodox worship will be deeply imprinted on their souls; it will become a part of their spiritual DNA.

Allow me to interject two brief examples. A priest had regularly brought his children to church from their fortieth day. One day when one of his children was only two, he took her with him on a house blessing. While preparing for the service, his child was in another room playing and seemingly inattentive. Once the priest started the house blessing, however, from the other room this young child began chanting the responses. You can imagine how amazed and thrilled the priest was to see how much his child had absorbed just by being present at the various services. He said nothing, but throughout the rest of the service, he was accompanied by a two year old chanter.

A second example comes from my own experience. When our oldest was only 3 or 4, we had to be somewhere on a Saturday that prevented us from celebrating Vespers at our church. Presvytera and I decided we would do as much of the Vespers from heart while driving home that evening. We started, but quickly forgot how Psalm 103 continued after the opening line. Suddenly, from the back seat our young daughter proceeded to recite the entire Psalm from memory. We were astonished and learned a powerful lesson about the importance of bringing our children to church even when we are not sure they are even paying attention. It is during these formative early years that our children are like sponges, picking up and retaining all the sights, sounds and smells of Orthodox worship.

We should never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit in our children’s lives or the powerful effect the Orthodox Church’s rich, sensorial worship services can have on young children who do not seem to be paying attention. If they see that God and the Church are important to us, it will become important to them. Our commitment to the worship life of the Church will communicate this same priority to them. Once in the church, they will see the Kingdom of Heaven all around them through the architecture, the icons, the vestments, the candles, the incense, the chanting, etc. They will hear the prayers, the petitions, the hymns and the preaching. They will taste and see that the Lord is good. All of these sensory stimuli will create an indelible mark upon their whole person that will draw them closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let us all rise above our doubts as to whether this is of benefit to ourselves and our children. Let us ignore the insidious thoughts that are sent to us by the evil one and heed the words of our Lord: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt.19:14) If we as parents live our faith at all times and teach it to our children in both word and deed, namely bringing them to the Divine Services of the Church, they will grow up close to our Lord. My dear parents, hang in there and have patience. This season of bearing and raising children is brief. Your efforts will bear fruit before you even realize it. I have seen it happen to countless children whose parents were faithful. Not only will the holy and blessed worship life of the Church form and transfigure our children, but your loving and sacrificial efforts will also positively change your lives as well.

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Be the Bee

Check out the latest episode of Be the Bee, “Pray Simply, Pray Always”

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Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Exalted today, the Cross sanctifies the ends of the earth, and the Church is renewed in the Resurrection.

(Hymn of Vespers)

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross is a blessed day and celebration of the tremendous power of the Cross of our Lord.  Through the Cross the power and wisdom of God have been revealed.  By the Cross we are reconciled to Him, and we can find true and enduring peace.  It is the Cross that directs us to Christ and to the way of salvation and eternal life.

As the Apostle Paul recognized in his first Epistle to the Corinthians some see this as foolishness or contrary to the wisdom of the age (I Corinthians 1:17-23). How can wisdom be found in great humility, suffering, and sacrifice?  Where is peace and reconciliation through an instrument of torture and punishment?  How can this cruel means of death show us the way to life?

First, our Exaltation of the Cross affirms that God has revealed His great might and wisdom  through what is low and despised in the world (1:28) and what is foolish and weak (1:27).  He did this so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1:29).  He chose a means for our redemption that did not conform to worldly standards of wisdom and power, showing that our source of life, our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification (1:30) are found in Jesus Christ alone.

Second, as we exalt the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, we commemorate the tremendous offering of our Lord.  We acknowledge that He alone was able to reconcile us to God by His death, ending our estrangement due to the power of evil.  By making peace through the blood of His Cross and through our faith in Him, we can be presented before God as holy, blameless, and irreproachable.  (Colossians 1:19-23)

Finally, we proclaim the power of the Cross on this Feast, for through it Christ has shown us the way to life.  Through the Cross and His humility and obedience unto death, He has been exalted so that every tongue should confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:11).   By emptying himself, taking the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of humankind (Philippians 2:7), Jesus has received a name above every name.  Christ has shown that through the His Cross He is leading us to overcoming sin and evil and death and to reach eternal life.

As we celebrate the Cross and its transforming power for our lives and for all the created order, we also offer our support for our beloved Holy Cross School of Theology.  In the life of our Schole, this feast always marks the beginning of a new academic year.  It also is the beginning and continuation of the journey of our students who are preparing for service to God and His Church.  During this time at Holy Cross they are strengthened and nurtured for a lifetime of ministry, and through the Cross they will be connected to the wisdom of God, will guide others to reconciliation and peace, and will show the way to salvation and eternal life through Christ.  May we offer our prayers and gifts of support for our seminarians and our beloved Holy Cross.

Through our worship and celebration let us call all people to come to the Cross of our Lord so that they might know His grace and compassion.  Certainly, the power of the Cross will change their lives forever!

With paternal love in Christ,



Archbishop of America


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Encyclical for Indiction 2015

Beloved in the Lord,

The above verse is taken from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, and I hope it will inspire each of you and the ministries of our Metropolis in this new Ecclesiastical year. As the Lord teaches, this light, this brilliance, is not meant to be covered under a bushel, but placed high for all to see and to illumine a path for all to come to Him. Now that our parish programs and ministries resume their normal routines after the summer months, let the light of our faith and life as Orthodox Christians shine bright.

As you read this letter, I am enjoying the hospitality of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, at the Phanar, for the Synaxis of the Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne. The Phanar is so named because of the lighthouse that once sat in this area on the Golden Horn. Today the lighthouse is gone, but our Patriarchate serves as the lighthouse for our Orthodox faith, being a shining example of leadership and care for the Orthodox Church and the people of the world.

In the Synaxis, Archbishops, Metropolitans, and Bishops from the eparchies and dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate around the globe are gathered in council under the leadership of our His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to discuss the issues facing our Church and the world today. Throughout the Synaxis our focus will be on finding new ways for our Faith and Church to shine the light of Christ with greater intensity. There are many issues to discuss from the forthcoming Great and Holy Council to be held in 2016, to the tragic situation of the Church under persecution in the Middle East. We must act as one Church to continually shine light on these issues.

Another area of common concern for the Church and the world is the environment. September 1 has been designated as the day of the Protection of the Environment. Our Ecumenical Patriarch began shining light on this issue long before other religious leaders. His All Holiness has called us to pray for the protection of the environment and to ask for forgiveness for our complicity in its destruction. With the raging forest fires, years of drought, and the recent toxic accident in a river, we can see why we must turn to God and ask Him to enlighten us with environmental wisdom, for we need His help and guidance more than ever.

Let me conclude by returning to our work as the Metropolis of San Francisco. Our task in this coming Ecclesiastical year is to magnify and radiate the light of Christ through the life of our parishes and people. We, the Body of Christ, are called to continue Christ’s mission in the world, to see all people as Christ saw them: children of their loving God and Father. This coming year as we continue to implement our Strategic Plan, let us spread the light of the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Orthodox Church throughout our Metropolis. The programs and ministries we are building can shine the love and the light of Christ on all people. Some people today criticize Christianity because they believe it is not living up to the Gospel that it preaches. Let this not be so among our parishes and Metropolis. Let our love for our neighbor be as meaningful as the words we preach!

May the love of God the Father shine in your hearts and radiate among the lives of all you encounter in your parish, in your work, and in your family. Beseeching our God to bring this New Ecclesiastical Year all His blessings, I remain,
With Love in Christ,


+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco


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Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the New Ecclesiastical Year and the Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment – September 1, 2015

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this Feast of the Indiction which marks the beginning of the New Ecclesiastical Year, we are led by our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate in observing the Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment.  The relationship of our commemoration and observance is significant due to the changing of the seasons, our agrarian heritage in relation to marking time, and the strong foundations of our worship and theology in the relationship of our Creator to His creation.  We affirm this in the hymns of this day as we sing, “In wisdom You have wrought all things and have established proper times and seasons for our lives” (Praises of Orthros), and “Author and head of all creation, under whose power lie all times and seasons, O compassionate Lord: crown the cycle of this year with Your generous blessings” (Exapostilarion of Orthros).

It is in the divine act of our creation that our relationship to the created order is revealed.  Through the power and grace of the Creator bringing all things into existence and in His creation of humankind in His image, we see our unique role as stewards of all that God has made.  As Adam and Eve were created and placed in the garden to “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15), we have the responsibility to care for and protect His creation.  As man and woman were directed by God to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28), we have the authority to manage the created order prayerfully and respectfully to sustain life and to address human and environmental needs.  We must also affirm in our relationship with God that through His wisdom and our creative potential, we are able to sustain and protect the natural environment while addressing the environmental challenges and stresses of technological innovation, economic forces, population growth, and natural disasters.

Created in God’s image as stewards of the natural order, we are witnesses of the goodness of creation.  He saw that all He created was very good (Genesis 1:31), and He established and sanctified time through the order and process of creation (Genesis  2:3).  Our awareness of this inherent goodness in all that God has made is known first in our relationship with Him.  We also marvel at the beauty, complexity, and function of creation, recognizing divine origin, purpose, and goodness.   We proclaim the Gospel, guiding all to the revelation of God’s grace through Christ.  We offer a ministry of hope and transformation, as we help others find healing, assurance, and salvation in Him.  Through the prayers and liturgical life of the Church, we journey through each day, each week, the full cycle of the year and our lives toward the glorious fulfillment of time and eternal life in communion with God.

As we commemorate this Feast may we commit our time to the feasts and observances of the Church, to a daily life of prayer and communion with God, and to sustaining our spiritual lives through the disciplines of our faith.  May we also affirm that we are created and called as stewards of the created order.  From our relationship and communion with God, may we offer a witness of the goodness of His creation and the sanctity of life.

With paternal love in Christ,


Archbishop of America

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Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

August 15, 2015

Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We commemorate today, on this blessed Feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary, the holy repose of the Mother of our Lord and seek her intercessions for deliverance, refuge, and salvation in Christ.  From her resting place among the Saints she continues to radiate the grace of God offering solace and strength to those in need.  Through her repose and her constant ministry on our behalf, the Theotokos shows the power of faith and the promise of life beyond death.

For this reason this is a Feast of celebration and joy.  It is also a Feast of hope and assurance.  In the Kontakion of this day we sing, “Neither the tomb nor death had power over the Theotokos, who is ever watchful in her prayers and in whose intercession lies unfailing hope.”  First, we are filled with hope on this day as we look to the beautiful example of a life dedicated to the will and love of God.  She has shown us the path to communion with Him.  Through her witness of complete faith and unwavering obedience the Virgin Mary guides us in trusting in the divine will and committing all of our ways unto the Lord.

Second, through her life and repose we see the miraculous power of God and the blessings of a life long relationship with Him.  This power made her the dwelling of the Son of God.  It is the divine power that sustained her throughout the life and ministry of our Lord and made her a paragon of virtue and a pillar of strength.  The power of God transformed her repose into a witness of holiness and a feast of joy for a life that draws all humanity to the Savior.

Our services for this Feast are a prayerful and much needed reminder of the hope that we find in the Theotokos.  In times of distress and need we find comfort and strength in the intercessions of one who knows our struggles and embodies the compassion of our Lord.  We also seek the intercessions, deliverance, and comfort of the Theotokos for all who are in need and struggling through tragedy, want, and despair.  For many of our brothers and sisters in Greece, this has and continues to be a time of hardship and uncertainty.  Too many are lacking basic necessities or face the possibility of great need in the months and years ahead.  On this day, a very special Feast for Orthodox Christians, we seek the intercessions of our Most Holy Lady.  In this time her comfort is needed.  Her aid is sought so that hope may be nurtured in the hearts of those seeking deliverance.

On this day as we commemorate her repose, may we ask for the intercessions of the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary for those in great need, especially the people of Greece.  May we follow her example of service to God and humankind.  And may our worship be a faithful witness of the power and life that she has shown through her life.

With paternal love in Christ,


Archbishop of America

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Why a Fast for the Dormition?

It would be a gross understatement to say that much has been written about the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Yet very little has been written about the fast that precedes it. Every Orthodox Christian is aware and generally knows the reason behind the fasts for Pascha and Christmas. But while they may know of the Dormition Fast, it is notable that some do not observe the fast, and more than a few question why it is there, not understanding its purpose. Given the pervasive misunderstanding of the purpose of fasting itself, a refresher on its purpose is always a good idea. There is a perception that we should fast when we want something, as though the act of fasting somehow appeases God, and seeing us “suffer” gets Him to grant our request. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Fasting Pleases God?

It is not our fasting that pleases God, it is the fruits of our fast (provided we fast in the proper mind set, with alms and prayer, and do not merely diet) that please Him.

1) We fast, not to get what we want, but to prepare ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.

2) The purpose of fasting is to bring us more in line with another Mary, the sister of Lazarus, and away from their sister Martha, who in the famous passage was “anxious and troubled about many things.”

3) Fasting is intended to bring us to the realization of “the one thing needful.” It is to help us put God first and our own desires second, if not last. As such it serves to prepare us to be instruments of God’s will, as with Moses in his flight from Egypt and on Mt. Sinai, as well as our Lord’s fast in the wilderness. Fasting turns us away from ourselves and toward God.

4) Fasting during the Dormition Fast helps us become like the Theotokos, an obedient servant of God, who heard His word and kept it better than anyone else has or could.

So why do we fast before Dormition?

In a close-knit family, word that its matriarch is on her deathbed brings normal life to a halt. Otherwise important things (parties, TV, luxuries, personal desires) become unimportant; life comes to revolve around the dying matriarch. It is the same with the Orthodox family; word that our matriarch is on her deathbed, could not (or at least should not) have any different effect than the one just mentioned.

The Church, through the Paraklesis Service, gives us the opportunity to come to that deathbed and eulogize and entreat the woman who bore God, the vessel of our salvation and our chief advocate at His divine throne.

The Paraclesis Service

The Service of the Paraclesis to the Theotokos consists of hymns of supplication to obtain consolation and courage. It should be recited in times of temptation, discouragement or sickness. It is used more particularly during the two weeks before the Dormition, or Assumption, of the Theotokos, from August 1 to August 14. The theme of these Paraclesis Services centers around the petition. . “Most Holy Mother of God, save us”.

If you have a problem or if something is burdening your soul, if you feel spiritually uneasy and if you are not at peace with yourself and with those around you, then, you should come to the Church during the first fifteen days of August and ask for the intercessions of the Mother of God. Even if you are fortunate enough to be one of those very few who are at peace with themselves and with God, then those blessed ones should come to these services and thank God and His Blessed Mother for the blessings that they have bestowed upon you and your family.

Since these Paraclesis Services to the Theotokos are primarily petition for the welfare of the living, let the whole Church pray for you during the first fifteen days of August and especially on the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15th. Don’t let your laziness and your apathy cause you to miss this great blessing and inspiration that the Church can bestow upon you. Let the peace and holiness that only the Mother of God can give you enter into your life. “Let us lay aside all earthly cares,” and let us truly, during these fifteen days, participate in the fasting and prayer life of the Church so that we can “taste and see that the Lord is good” and so that we may fully experience the spiritual blessings that the Church offers to us at this holy time. “Blessed is he whom He shall find watching.” Come and pray to the Theotokos with us and with the Church and by her prayers and intercessions, may our souls be saved!

Observe the Dormition Fast

Fasting, in its full sense (abstaining from food ,evil thoughts, actions and desires) accomplishes this. Less time in leisure or other pursuits leaves more time for prayer and reflection on she who gave us Christ, and became the first and greatest Christian. In reflecting on her and her incomparable life, we see a model Christian life, embodying Christ’s retort to the woman who stated that Mary was blessed because she bore Him: blessed rather are those who hear His word and keep it. Mary did this better than anyone.

Fr. Thomas Hopko has noted, she heard the word of God and kept it so well, that she of all women in history was chosen not only to hear His Word but give birth to Him. So while we fast in contemplation of her life, we are simultaneously preparing ourselves to live a life in imitation of her. That is the purpose of the Dormition Fast.

When the assumption of thine undefiled body was being prepared, the Apostles gazed on thy bed, viewing thee with trembling. Some contemplated thy body and were dazzled, but Peter cried out to thee in tears, saying, I see thee clearly, O Virgin, stretched out, O life of all, and I am astonished. O thou undefiled one, in whom the bliss of future life dwelt, beseech thy Son and God to preserve thy people unimpaired.

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NEW YORK – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, responding to the Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges issued today the following release:

Response of to Obergefell v Hodges

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strongly disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry, and imposes upon all States the responsibility to license and recognize such “marriages.”

The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.

As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from its inception, is the lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman. We call upon all Orthodox Christians in our nation to remain firm in their Orthodox faith, and to renew their deep reverence for and commitment to marriage as taught by the Church. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and uphold the deeply-rooted beliefs of millions of Americans.