Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 8th July, 4pm

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pope Benedict's Address to German Orthodox Church Leaders

This is the address Benedict XVI delivered 24 September 2011, upon meeting with representatives of Orthodox Churches at the seminary of the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau.

Dear Cardinals, Brother Bishops, Distinguished Representatives of Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches!

It is a great joy for me that we have come together here today. From my heart I thank all of you for coming and for the possibility of this friendly exchange. I offer a particular word of thanks to you, dear Metropolitan Augoustinos for your profound words. I was especially moved by what you said about the Mother of God and about the saints who encompass and unite all the centuries. And I willingly repeat in this setting what I have said elsewhere: among Christian Churches and communities, it is undoubtedly the Orthodox who are theologically closest to us; Catholics and Orthodox have maintained the same basic structure inherited from the ancient Church; in this sense we are all the early Church that is still present and new. And so we dare to hope, even if humanly speaking constantly new difficulties arise, that the day may still be not too far away when we may once again celebrate the Eucharist together (cf. "Light of the World. A Conversation with Peter Seewald," p. 86).

With interest and sympathy the Catholic Church -- and I personally -- follow the development of Orthodox communities in Western Europe, which in recent decades have grown remarkably. In Germany today, as I have learned, there are approximately 1.6 million Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians. They have become a constitutive part of society that helps bring alive the treasury of the Christian cultures and the Christian faith of Europe. I welcome the increase of pan-Orthodox cooperation, which has made significant progress in recent years. The founding of Orthodox Episcopal Conferences in places where the Orthodox Churches exist in the Diaspora -- of which you spoke to us -- is an expression of the consolidation of intra-Orthodox relations. I am pleased that this step has been taken in Germany in the past year. May the work of these Episcopal Conferences strengthen the bond between the Orthodox Churches and hasten the progress of efforts to establish a pan-Orthodox coun cil.

Since the time when I was a professor in Bonn and especially while I was Archbishop of Munich and Freising, I have come to know and love Orthodoxy more and more through my personal friendships with representatives of the Orthodox Churches. At that time the Joint Commission of the German Bishops' Conference and the Orthodox Church also began its work. Since then, through its texts on pastoral and practical questions, it has furthered mutual understanding and contributed to the consolidation and further development of Catholic-Orthodox relations in Germany.

Equally important is the ongoing work to clarify theological differences, because the resolution of these questions is indispensable for restoration of the full unity that we hope and pray for. We know that above all it is the question of primacy that we must continue patiently and humbly struggling to understand aright. In this regard, I think that the ideas put forward by Pope John Paul II in the Encyclical "Ut Unum Sint" (No. 95) on the distinction between the nature and form of the exercise of primacy can yield further fruitful discussion points.

I also express my appreciation of the work of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. I am glad, distinguished Eminences and Delegates of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, that you are here representing the Churches that are taking part in this dialogue. The results so far obtained allow us to grow in mutual understanding and to draw closer to one another.

In the present climate, in which many would like, as it were, to "liberate" public life from God, the Christian Churches in Germany -- including Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians -- are walking side by side along the path of peaceful witness for understanding and solidarity among peoples, on the basis of their faith in the one God and Father of all. At the same time they continue to place the miracle of God's incarnation at the center of their proclamation. Realizing that on this mystery all human dignity depends, they speak up jointly for the protection of human life from conception to natural death. Faith in God, the Creator of life, and unconditional adherence to the dignity of every human being strengthen faithful Christians to oppose vigorously every manipulative and selective intervention in the area of human life. Knowing too the value of marriage and the family, we as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marria ge between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation. Here the common engagement of Christians, including Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, makes a valuable contribution to building up a society equipped for the future, in which the human person is given the respect which is his due.

Finally, I would like to direct our gaze towards Mary -- you presented her to us as the Panagia -- and she is also the Hodegetria, the "Guide along the Way," who is also venerated in the West under the title "Our Lady of the Way." The Most Holy Trinity has given the Virgin Mother Mary to mankind, that she might guide us through history with her intercession and point out to us the way towards fulfillment. To her we entrust ourselves and our prayer that we may become a community ever more intimately united in Christ, to the praise and glory of his name. May God bless you all! Thank you.



© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Catholics & Orthodox unite at Relic-Shrine of St Timothy

Relic Intended for Travel to Russia for Lent 2012

TERMOLI, Italy, SEPT. 14, 2011 thanks to Zenit.org


Paul's beloved disciple was a source of unity for Catholics and Russian Orthodox last Friday, as representatives from both Churches gathered around St. Timothy's relics in Termoli, Italy. The Orthodox delegation included Archbishop Zosimo of Elista and Bishop Aristarh of Kemerovo.
The papal nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, also attended the event, recalling his long tenure as the nuncio in Russia. The local bishop, Gianfranco De Luca, welcomed the group.

The delegations are developing a plan for Bishop De Luca to take the saint's skull to Russia for Orthodox Lent, while an Orthodox bishop will lead the delegation that will return the relic to Termoli. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow will finalize the plan. Bishop De Luca gave the Orthodox bishops two small relics of St. Timothy, while his Orthodox guests presented him with an icon and a relic of St. Seraphim.

St. Timothy's relics were discovered in 1945 during restoration to the Basilica Cathedral of Termoli. For many years, the relics had been concealed to keep them safe, so much so that awareness of the saint's resting place was forgotten, even by local residents. The small niche was discovered with a marble tile, reading "Here rests Blessed Timothy disciple of the Apostle Paul." His skull had always been kept in a private chapel apart.

A 1977 book on the Diocese of Termoli relates that Timothy's relics were taken to the city by a count returning from the crusades. This information is not corroborated in historical texts, but what is known is that the relics were hidden in 1239 about three feet from the cathedral floor. There are no documents that attest explicitly to the translation of the relics from the East to the Adriatic city, but it has not been disputed. In 1947, this account was upheld by the Historical Commission of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.



Tuesday, 13 September 2011

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

4 October 2011

Tales from the Orthodox diaspora by Revd Deacon Alban Coombs
Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, SW1

6-30 pm

Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius London Branch

Friday, 9 September 2011

Benedict XVI to 19th Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2011 thanks to Zenit.org


Benedict XVI is expressing his hopes for a "renewed commitment to spiritual communion and evangelical witness" as the fruit of the 19th International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox spirituality. The five-day conference began Wednesday at the Monastery of Bose, in Italy. This year's theme is "The Word of God in the Spiritual Life."

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, expressed the Holy Father's good wishes in a telegram sent to the conference in his name. The telegram speaks of the participants "drawing from the richness of sacred Scripture, loved both in the East and in the West."

The event gathered leading biblical scholars and some of the most authoritative exponents of the various Orthodox Churches. Its theme concentrates on an "essential unity of sacred Scripture and exegesis in the Spirit, the Word of God and spiritual life, in forms and ways different in East and West, but converging on the pneumatic reality of Scripture," a statement from the monastery explained. It will cover three principal points: biblical hermeneutics in the Church fathers; the ecclesial dimension of the Word of God; and the reality of Scripture in the life of the faithful, including in monasticism.

In addition to the papal message, various representatives of the Orthodox Churches sent greetings to the conference. Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople reflected: "When we consider the spiritual struggle of the Christian faithful, we normally think about the difficult feats of fasting and prayer; or else we imagine the seemingly inaccessible virtues and passionately aggressive vices. Yet, none of these spiritual principles and elements makes sense or produce results without the fundamental principles espoused by and expounded in the Holy Scriptures. "The Church Fathers and desert hermits were certainly aware of this truth and were careful to include and incorporate the Word of God in every aspect of their spiritual discipline and daily life. Their influential writings, just as the spiritual and liturgical literature of the early Church, are solidly based on the Bible. Even when the Bible is not explicitly mentioned, it is definitely taken for granted -- like the air that all the saints and ascetics breathe."

For his part, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kyrill I, reminded that the Church "lives and breathes from the Word of God not only because the reading of the Old and New Testaments are essential elements of liturgical celebration, but also because ecclesial prayer itself is bathed by the divine Word, which instructs for salvation, which is obtained through faith in Christ Jesus." Kryill I added that "only in the power of the Holy Spirit does Scripture open our minds to understanding of the heavenly laws, medicate the soul and renew man's heart."


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Pope Benedict's Letter to Catholic-Orthodox Symposium

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 2, 2011 thanks to Zenit.org

Here is a translation of the Aug. 6 letter Benedict XVI sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, on the occasion of the 12th Inter-Christian Symposium. The symposium, with the theme "The Witness of the Church in the Modern World," concluded today in Thessaloniki (Salonika), Greece.
To the Venerable Brother, Lord Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity,

On the occasion of the 12th Inter-Christian Symposium, with the theme "The Witness of the Church in the Modern World," which is being held in Salonika from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, 2011, I wish to manifest through you, Venerable Brother, my great appreciation for this laudable initiative, promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum and by the Department of Theology of the Orthodox Theological Faculty of the Aristotle University of Salonika.

2. The topic that will be discussed at the symposium is of great current importance and is at the center of my concern and prayers, as I already affirmed in the apostolic letter "Ubicumque et Semper," with which I instituted the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. In the course of the centuries the Church has not failed to proclaim the salvific mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but this same proclamation today needs a renewed vigor in many of the regions that were the first to receive the light and that are experiencing the effects of a secularization capable of impoverishing man in his deepest dimension. In reality, we are witnessing in the contemporary world contradictory phenomena: On one hand there is a generalized distraction and also an insensitivity in regard to transcendence; on the other, there are numerous signs that attest to an ongoing profound nostalgia for God in many hearts, which manifests itself in many diffe rent ways and which brings many men and women to an attitude of sincere searching.

3. The present cultural, social and economic backdrop poses the same challenges to Catholics and Orthodox. The reflection that will take place in the symposium will have an important ecumenical consequence. The interventions will make it possible to draw a clear picture of the common problems and the presentation of the particularities of the different points of view, favoring an exchange of reflections and experiences in a climate of fraternal charity. The mutual knowledge of our traditions and sincere friendship represent, in themselves, a contribution to the cause of Christian unity. I wish to recall here the words of my Venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, when, in regard to evangelization, he affirmed: "As evangelizers, we must offer Christ's faithful not the image of people divided and separated by unedifying quarrels, but the image of people who are mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting-point beyond the real tensions, thanks to a shared, sin cere and disinterested search for truth. Yes, the destiny of evangelization is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church. This is a source of responsibility and also of comfort" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, No. 77).

4. Certainly contributing to the good outcome of this work will be the intercession of St. Paul, whose memory is alive in the city of Salonika, where the Apostle preached the Gospel in the first place -- a city to which he remained linked by a special bond of affection. It is necessary that you be animated by the same apostolic zeal that Paul had for a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world.

5. To all those who contributed to the realization of the symposium, to the illustrious speakers and to all the participants, I address my cordial greeting with the hope that the initiative will be a success. I support the works with prayer and with my Apostolic Blessing.



From Castel Gandolfo, August 6, 2011



BENEDICTUS XVI



[Translation by ZENIT]

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Light of the East, September-October 2011, Youngstown SSJC

Light of the East, September-October 2011, Newsletter of the Youngstown-Warren Chapter of SSJC is now available here.

Martorana: Palermo’s Byzantine Jewel

by OCP on February 20, 2011

Examples of Greek Orthodox culture can still be found in Palermo, Sicily at the Santo Maria dell’Ammriaglio, (Santa Maria of the Admiral), the Martorana, which features the only Byzantine mosaic outside of Constantinople showing the imperial blessing of a monarch by the Pantocrator (Jesus Christ).


The Christian Middle East has produced great leaders who shaped western history. In the wake of the 22 Coptic Christians who died at a January 6 massacre in the Church of Saints Mark and the current Egyptian uprising, it is time to reexamine a time of glorious achievement of a Greek commander. Admiral George of Antioch, in the service of Roger II, King of Sicily, was a Greek Orthodox Christian. He came from a Greek-speaking urban community. The Middle East’s universal language, before the Arab conquest, for centuries was Greek, due to the conquests of Alexander the Great. The influence of the Greek language and culture was incorporated into the cultures of the areas controlled by Alexander the Great.


The concept of Sicily as a center of Hellenism may be inconceivable to some although it is an island of Ancient Greek monuments. The Sicilian people must be commended for protecting their antiquities, in light of the Egyptian Museum attack and destruction of Mesopotamian relics in Baghdad. Her majestic cathedrals, chapels and monasteries of Byzantine art show it was once the seat of a world empire.


After two visits under the supervision of Dr. Gaetano Cipolla of the Arba Sicula Society, I discovered a different Sicily of Byzantine culture and of Greek Orthodoxy. When we were in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, our Arba Sicula guide told us "you are going to have a unique tour of a church that is rarely open to the public by the nuns. Santo Maria dell’Ammriaglio, (Santa Maria of the Admiral), the Martorana, has the only Byzantine mosaic outside of Constantinople showing the imperial blessing of a monarch by the Pantocrator (Jesus Christ).


Little did I know at the time that we were visiting the only church in Sicily specifically built as Greek Orthodox.


The Martorana is in the heart of the historical center. Palermo in the 12th century was the capital of the cosmopolitan state of the Hautevilles, who adopted Byzantine clothes, ceremonies and art. George of Antioch born in the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire: Antioch. George was a devout Greek Orthodox Christian in command of Sicily’s navy and mercantile fleet. Unfortunately for the Byzantine Empire, his power and wealth came from plundering Greece. The church was built in the mid-12th century to thank the Theotokos (Mother of God or Virgin Mary) for her protection during his political and maritime career. The foundation’s charter is in Greek and Arabic. It is kept in the Tabulary of the Palatine Chapel in Palermo. The church was built next to George of Antioch’s palace from 1143-1146. Before his death, Admiral George founded a small convent of Greek nuns in the wing of his palace near the chapel. A parchment in Greek dated 1143 has George entrusting the Martorana to the Greek clergy with a financial endowment. The 12th century original church had a Greek cross plan inscribed in a square, covered by a dome supported by columns. Today, it is a monument that reflects different styles and historical periods from the 12 to 18th centuries.


As one enters the church, one sees the Byzantine mosaic of George of Antioch kneeling at the feet of the Theotokos, to whom the church is dedicated. Greek inscriptions are present. He is declaring his devotion to the Theotokos, as was customary among Eastern Orthodox Christians. His prostrating, humble position is requesting protection and forgiveness for an adventurous life of piracy and other actions. The Theotokos is holding a scroll in Medieval Greek saying "He who built this house of mine from its very foundations, George, first among the first of all princes, o Son (Jesus Christ), protect him and his people from harm and forgive him for his sins; for you are empowered to do so as the one and only God, o Word."


The mosaic panel on the right shows King Roger II being crowned by Christ. This follows the iconographic model that was the special right of the Byzantine emperor. The 12th century mosaic is called "the Coronation of King Roger II by Jesus Christ." Roger is standing wearing the ornate ceremonial robes of an emperor of Byzantium. He is the only sovereign, apart from the emperors of Constantinople, allowed to be portrayed in a similar scene. The presence of this portrait in the private chapel of the Grand Admiral of the Kingdom suggests that George of Antioch created it. He shaped the ideology of Sicily under the Hauteville family as being an imperial family who aimed to gain the imperial throne in Constantinople. The two Martorana mosaics reflect religious, ethical and political ideas for all to see.


Another mosaic, "St. Nicholas Enthroned", located in the right apse, is a 15th century icon from the Cretan School. This icon survived the WWII bombing of San Nicolo Dei Greci Church. Who were the mosaic creators? Historians believe the master craftsmen were from Constantinople and Mystra, Peloponnese. They practiced their art in Crete, fusing Western and Byzantine styles to create a Post Byzantine renaissance. El Greco is the most famous artist of the Cretan school. St. Nicholas of Myra, whose relics are now in Bari, is the patron saint of the Byzantine community of Italy. Martorana with St. Demetrio are the two Cathedrals of the Byzantine Rite [Catholics] of Palermo.


Martorana was the first Byzantine Orthodox Church of its kind created in Palermo, Sicily. For the first time in Sicily, the figures of Christ, Theotokos, Saints, Prophets and Archangels were portrayed in the icongraphic tradition of the Christian East. George in his unique Byzantine jewel, the Santo Maria dell’Ammriaglio (Martorana) inspired a strong Byzantine iconographic style in Sicily’s Palatine chapel, Duomo of Cefalu, Monreal and other churches. All the mosaics are the finest examples of Byzantine art found in the finest Eastern Orthodox Churches. When the liturgy is performed on Feast days, the spiritual and mysticism of the Byzantine world is experienced by all in the Martorana.