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Orthodox Women’s Talk: Hymns of Holy Week. This is a recording of a talk I hosted over Skype with a group of Canadian Orthodox Christian women spread out across several Canadian provinces during Great Lent of 2015.

*CORRECTION: You will notice that I continually refer to St. Joseph the All-Comely (the son of Patriarch Jacob) as St. Joseph the Betrothed (who was espoused to the Theotokos). Please forgive my mistake; I didn’t realize this until I heard the recording.

 

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Out of the African Lands: The Story of Saint Perpetua and Her Companions

by Constantina R. Palmer

Description:

In the African provinces of the Roman Empire conversion to the Christian faith is punishable by death. This does not stop Perpetua and her companions, however, from seeking entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven even if living for Christ means having to die for Him.

Out of the African Lands is a historical fiction novelette and chronicles the arrest, imprisonment and death of Perpetua and her five companions Felicity, Saturus, Saturnius, Revocatus and Secundulus. Receiving freedom from their sins through baptism while imprisoned, the martyrs shine with the light of Christ, instructing us in word and deed how a person not only lives as a Christian by dies as one.

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About the  Cover:

The cover features a portion of a painting by artist Xenia Kathryn and beautifully captures the grace and bravery of St. Perpetua, author of one of the earliest and most notable Christian texts known today by the title The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas.

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The Light Guardian - Beginnings coverThe Light Guardian: Beginnings

By Fr. Matthew Penney

Description:

Moisi, a troubled man with a troubled past, seeks desolate places for self-imposed punishment … and revenge. What he discovers in his rocky exile is not only the enemy he is pursuing , but a deeper darkness that seeks to consume him. The only question is … will he choose to fight?

In this mature Young Adult fantasy novelette, the world of the spiritual warfare–normally invisible to us–is brought vividly to life. In Moisi’s world the struggle against the passions and the presence of the dark forces of evil can be all too real. But there is the opportunity to discover, along with Moisi, where the path to victory truly lies.

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Out of the African Lands: The Story of Saint Perpetua and Her Companions & The Light Guardian: Beginnings are published by Lumination Press and set to be released on Pascha, 2016!

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Lumination Press: Infusing light into the fiction genre

Lumination Press publishes works of fiction which reflect the mystery and miracle of a world filled with the light of Orthodoxy: a world in which passions rage, miracles abound, blood is shed and kingdoms are won. Such a world comes alive in Lumination Press stories not to distract us from the cruel reality of this world but rather to reveal the spiritual reality that is all around us, if only we have the eyes to see it.

Acknowledging the notable scarcity of Orthodox fiction, Lumination Press hopes to fill that need with quality works. With a focus on youth and the youthful at heart, Lumination Press will offer a variety of stories of spiritual struggle and victory for the whole family.

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blessed makrinaAbout a month ago I received an email stating I would be sent a copy of The Blessed Makrina Project: Echoes from the Heart, a short documentary film about Abbess Makrina of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Odigitria (Directress) in Portaria, Greece. As it was sent from Washington state I knew it would be a while before it arrived in Newfoundland. Three days of very high winds on this island meant that the two ferries that cross the Atlantic to get here, and a number of airplanes, couldn’t reach us, and thus mail was delayed. I was so excited when I finally got the little envelope with the DVD inside two days ago. I couldn’t wait to watch it.

It was worth the wait. The documentary begins with a recording of Gerontissa Makrina offering spiritual counsel. Having never heard her voice before this alone was enough to move me. “We must be attentive to how we live,” you hear her say as a photograph of her with a gentle smile and downcast eyes comes into view, “…To how we behave towards our brother… Do you see your brother? You see the Lord. This is why the Holy Fathers had so much love and compassion.”

This 27 minute documentary, while short in comparison to Gerontissa’s spiritual greatness, offers a number of inspiring testimonies concerning the holy abbess. Through a modern medium the documentary communicates the eternal Christian virtue acquired by a contemporary Mother of the Church. It accomplishes this by offering an intimate look into the lives of those impacted by the fruits of her ascetic struggle. The beautiful cinematography compliments the God-inspired words spoken about Gerontissa and you come away with an overall feeling of inspiration and zeal to imitate the Christ-centered life of the abbess.

My favourite parts are when Gerontissa Makrina’s monastic disciples describe her in their own words. “Everything I have I owe to her. Everything I have, everything I am, and the fact that we are here, is because of her,” Abbess Thekla of Quebec says. You witness this devotion to the holy abbess throughout the documentary; you see that she truly is a saint of the Church, a pillar of light guiding those in darkness.

The bonus feature of extended interviews is much appreciated since I found myself wanting to hear so much more, not because the documentary was in any way insufficient, but because Gerontissa Makrina is the kind of person you are indescribably attracted to and you feel as though you can’t hear enough about her.

I wish I could give every person in the world this documentary, I wish I could say, ‘Come and hear about a second St. Irene Chrysovalantou, a  mother like St. Mary of Egypt, who changed the world and those around her by acquiring the grace of God!’

Copies of this praise-worthy documentary are sold through St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery in Goldendale, WA.

While waiting for your copy to arrive you can hear about more about Gerontissa Makrina here.

 

A friend sent me a link to this video and I’ve watched it at least a half a dozen times already. I love St. John and think it’s amazing that we can watch a video of him. Imagine the same man you see bless the people is the same man whose body is not only incorrupt, but who heals all manner of diseases. A very holy man indeed! May we have his blessing!

186719.pANOTHER HIERARCH APPEALS TO THE HOLY SYNOD CONCERNING THE PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL

Met. Seraphim of Piraeus has sent a letter to the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church concerning the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council. The main propositions of the document were published on the site Agionoros.ru.

Vladyka styled the decision that every Local Church shall be represented by twenty-four hierarchs at the council “a never-before-seen innovation,” without precedent in two thousand years of Church history.

He noted that at every Ecumenical Council “as many bishops as possible” took part. In practice Churches did sometimes sent representatives, but only in the event that the bishop could not arrive to the Council for one reason or another.

“In accordance with Orthodox ecclesiology, every bishop, governing even the smallest diocese, represents his flock and is a living member of the Universal Church,” wrote the metropolitan in his letter. To not invite every bishop to the Pan-Orthodox Council, in his opinion, denies the opportunity for the fullness of the Church to express its opinion, “which, it seems, the organizers of the Council want.”

Vladyka recalls that in the sessions of the Ecumenical Councils heretofore taking part were representatives of the lower clergy, monastics, and laity. “It wouldn’t be an overstatement to call the impending council a Pan-Orthodox Council without the Orthodox. It is obvious that by the decision on representation at the council, running contrary to Tradition, the likelihood of some bishops speaking out against the decisions of the Council, should they represent a revision of Tradition, was avoided.”

“Completely unfounded,” Metropolitan Seraphim calls “the assertion of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, by which the Orthodox Church can designate the upcoming council only ‘Pan-Orthodox,’ and not ‘Ecumenical,’ because the Roman Catholic ‘Church’ will not be taking part. The falling away of heretics from the Church in no way minimizes her universal character.”

Metropolitan Seraphim expresses his disagreement with the principle of “one Local Church—one vote.” In his opinion, every bishop taking part in the work of the Council should have the right to vote.

The metropolitan of Piraeus exposes the draft document of the Pan-Orthodox Council, “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world,” adopted at the Fifth Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Meeting in Chambesy, October 10-17, 2015, to detailed analysis and critique.

“In this text nothing is said of heresies and delusions, as if they stopped appearing in the history of the Church after the eighth century.” As the Ecumenical Councils of that time were occupied with analysis of and conciliar condemnation of various fallacies, the Pan-Orthodox Council is not taking up a similar principle, writes the bishop in his message.

The twenty-second paragraph of the document also undergoes Metropolitan Seraphim’s critique:The Orthodox Church considers that any effort to divide the unity of the Church, undertaken by individuals and groups under the pretense of preservation or protection of the truth of Orthodoxy, is subject to condemnation. As evidenced by the entire life of the Orthodox Church, preserving the true Orthodox faith is possible thanks only to the conciliar structure, which from ancient times has represented for the Church the competent and supreme criterion in questions of faith.

In the bishop’s opinion, the given provision creates the impression that the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Council seeks “to predetermine the infallibility of its resolutions.” The statement that “preserving the true Orthodox faith is possible thanks only to the conciliar structure, which from ancient times has represented for the Church the competent and supreme criterion in questions of faith,” is not mindful of the historical fact that in the Orthodox Church the final criterion of faith is the dogmatic self-consciousness of the members of the Church. That is precisely why some councils, undertaken to be ecumenical, were recognized to be robber councils and illegitimate.

Metropolitan Seraphim expresses his disagreement with the decision of the primates to invite to the Pan-Orthodox Council Catholic, Monophysite, and Protestant observers: “In the 2,000-year history of the Church there have never been non-Orthodox ‘observers’ at Local and Ecumenical Councils.” This practice occurred only at the First and Second Vatican Councils of the Catholic church, said Metroplitan Seraphim, specifiying. “Is it permissible for a Pan-Orthodox Council to take papal practices as its model?” asks Vladyka.

Metropolitan Seraphim recalls that in the past heretics were invited to Ecumenical Councils not as “observers,” but as defendants, to bring them to repentance. If they continued to persist in their delusions, they were excommunicated from the Church and driven out of the Council’s sessions. In his opinion, the attendance of non-Orthodox at the Pan-Orthodox Council “legitimizes delusions and heresy, and practically undermines the authority of the Council.”

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