Melkite Greek Catholic Church

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Original letter (PDF, 3 pages, 114K) [Please click Donate above to use a credit card.]

Oct. 4, 2020

My Dear Melkites Across America,

In today’s Gospel Jesus is telling us what he told us in the Sermon on the Mount: love conquers all: Our enemies, those who hate us, revile us, persecute us, speak evil against us and there is only one way to conquer them. Love them! And that is not impossible because each person gives what he/she has and since we have Christ within us, then we give his love, his care and his forgiveness.

Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful! These words of the Gospel are not impossible to live because the power of God overshadows us and we, having Christ in us, we too can be merciful. Our love needs to spill out.

Today we begin our Annual Bishop’s or Eparchial Appeal and our love for God and the building and growth of his Body, the Church, must spill out of each one of us. The present and the future of our Church are in our hands - all of us together, bishop, priests, deacons, religious and laity. With all of our hands together we can accomplish great things.

You will be receiving a letter from me this week sharing some more information of the “vision” of our Church and your involvement in living this vision. My faith in God is strong and over the many years, 50 as priest and 31 as bishop, I see his guidance in my life, especially the last nine years as your eparchial bishop. I have witnessed your strong faith and commitment to your parish and to the Eparchy. Your involvement in the Body of Christ – the Church is truly a blessing and I thank you sincerely for sharing that blessing by your participation in parish life and your prayerful and financial assistance to the Eparchy. Your assistance is helping us grow our Church, support our seminarians for priesthood and diaconate, develop more resources for our Evangelization and Catechesis, especially on-line, YouTube and family faith celebrations. Your gifts provide us the opportunity to send you Sophia – an award-winning magazine. We have begun to properly develop our archives and digitizing all records along with preserving precious icons, books and memorabilia in an eparchial museum. Even our Annual Calendar that your parish gives you has a catechetical-education approach.

We all need to grow in Christ more and more and your gifts allows me to share this growth and make it possible. I decided to merge the Annual Appeal and the Order of St. Nicholas. At next year’s Convention in Atlanta we will have a luncheon meeting for the Order members – They are those who are able to give $1000 or more each year continuously. We will form a board of directors who will work with the bishop to develop the assistance for mission growth and insurance for the married clergy families. Each Order member will be inducted on the parish level and be given the Cross of St. Nicholas which they wear on special occasions and especially when the bishop makes a parish visitation.

The other donors to the Appeal will be supporting Sophia Magazine, priesthood and deacon formation, charity, religious education, archives, digitizing documents, etc. This year 10% of our Appeal will be sent to our Melkite Metropolitan George Bacouni in Beirut to assist the families hurt severely by the horrific explosion of the 4th of August.

St. Paul in today’s Epistle speaks to us about Giving – God loves the Cheerful Giver. So often people say “money talks.” In a sense it does. If someone glanced at your old checks, they could see the real you, what kind of person you are. They would know if you belonged to a church, how much you gave to God, how much you spent for personal luxuries – so yes, “money talks.” It tells what kind of people we are, what we value most in life, what we love and care for most.

St. Paul says: “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”

The important thing about Christian giving is not “how much” we give but rather “how much in comparison to what God gives us. God blesses us abundantly – so we give in proportion to his love, and we give this lovingly.

Paul says “the one who sows sparingly will reap sparingly” so let us not err but rather give generously – give abundantly and you will receive abundantly.

Let each family make 2 lists: column 1: “What are we living for? Column 2: What are we spending for.” When you realize what you are living for, give wisely and give gladly – be a cheerful giver.

Years ago I got hooked on “tithing” – 10% for God, 10 cents for every dollar I made. I have never felt a loss, in fact I found I could not win with God – He always out gave me. He gave to me physically, financially and in many other ways. He owns me and my income too, all of it. I learned that tithing is just a symbol of my trust in Him.

Proportionally, lovingly, generously, wisely, gladly – and finally give humbly. When we give a gift to God, we bow in deep humility even on our knees because we bring so little when we think of how much He gave for us on the Cross and still gives.

In giving to God to your parish and to this Annual Bishop’s Appeal and Order of St. Nicholas you are assured that God’s good work in us continues to grow in abundance. God promises, says Paul “to provide you with every blessing in abundance” so that you may share this abundance to build his Body on earth.

If our giving is abundant, God’s giving to us will be even more abundant.

I keep you all in my prayers especially during this COVID-19 crisis, asking God to keep you in good health. I ask also that He open your hearts to keep His good work alive in our Eparchy by a generous gift to the Annual Appeal.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Nicholas Samra

Eparchial Bishop of Newton

 

Original letter (PDF, 2 pages, 76K) [Please click Donate above to use a credit card.]

Rabweh, August 10, 2020

To the faithful and friends of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Dear all,

The fourth of August 2020 was a catastrophic day in Lebanon due to the criminal explosion that occurred in the port of Beirut, impacting and shocking the capital and the entire country, which we are all still trying to wake up from. The explosion left behind, as the whole world has witnessed, hundreds of victims and more than five thousand wounded, many of whom are in critical condition. The deadly blast destroyed a large number of buildings (70,000 homes estimated so far), leaving thousands of people in the city with a shattered house or no house at all. All of this came amidst an unprecedented and extreme political, economic and health crisis. On Saturday, the eighth of August, we visited our brother, Metropolitan George Baconi, and we inspected together the damage that affected our children and their properties, as well as the damage to the churches and institutions. We saw with our own eyes the horror of the disaster and heard with our own ears people's screams of pain.

Thanks to God Almighty, many individuals and institutions took the initiate to contact the Patriarchate or the Archdiocese of Beirut to express their solidarity and desire to provide moral and material support. From the first day, the Patriarchate, eparchies, and monastic orders placed all their institutions and monasteries at the service of those affected. But this is not enough. The people of Beirut are going through an extremely difficult period psychologically, physically an financially, and this requires us to offer them everything within our power. Thus, we appeal to all of you to take the initiative of extending helping hand in order to show, during these difficulty times, the unity and strength of our Church in the face of this calamity and to stand with the weak who were victims of the tragic explosion.

We ask that everyone who would like to contribute to contact the Chancellery of our Patriarch in Rabweh at this email Patriarcat@melkitepat.org or to call the following numbers: +96176658803; +96179194306.

We pray to the Lord Jesus that the victims may rest in His peace, and be welcomed into His kingdom. We ask that, by His mercy, He heals the wounded, calms hearts. and comforts all those who are sad with His everlasting joy. We also ask Him to reward everyone who gives of their time or their money a hundredfold in return.

With our prayers and love!

+ Youssef
Melkite Greek catholic Patriarch
Of Antioch and All the East

 
As we know, the Great Fast and the Great Week before Pascha are the most diligently observed fasts in the Church. After that, the most thoroughly kept fast is that before the Dormition, which in our Tradition lasts from August 1 through August 14. Like the Great Fast, the Dormition Fast has special services to set this time apart. In our Church an intercession service to the Mother of God, the Paraclisis, is held nightly. This Fast also includes the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ which is kept from August 6 to 13. This feast celebrates Christ as the radiant Light of the Father’s glory while in the Dormition we see Christ, who trampled down Death by His death, take His Mother into the light of His resurrection. This period is so rich in opportunities for prayer and worship that it has traditionally been called our “Summer Pascha.” From the Office of Educational Services: The Fast of the Theotokos in the Home (PDF, 736KB, 18 pages)
 

Many of our parishes "live-stream" the Divine Liturgy. Even if your parish does not, you can still see and hear the Divine Liturgy. You will find a list of Melkite services here.

Attending the services via live-streaming is an aid to sincere devotion. To get the most out of these services, behave exactly as if you were physically in the church and attending the service:

  • Dress as you normally dress to attend a church service.
  • Fast as you normally do prior to a church service.
  • Place the device you are using to view the church service in your icon corner, and disable all notifications on the device.
  • Silence all other devices, and attend to other personal needs before-hand — avoid unintended distractions.

  • Participate as you normally do in a church service: sing, stand, sit, make the sign of the cross and metanies, and so on.
  • Practice prayerful behavior as you normally do in a church service, e.g., no commentary (either online or out loud).

Many thanks to Live Liturgy for their website ministry. These practical tips were adopted from guidelines provided by the OCA Diocese of NY and NJ.

 

His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, sends you his YouTube message for

Pascha, courtesy of Father Hezekias and the Office of Evangelization

and Catechesis. Paschal Odes and Stichera (PDF, 6 pages, 64KB)

 

Paschal Message of H. B. Youssef
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
April 12, 2020

Christ is risen!

With a heavy heart we cry out the cry of victory - which we await from year to year - in empty churches! We miss you dearly, beloved sons and daughters, wherever you may be.

Christ is risen! It is with a heavy heart indeed that we shout out this exclamation of faith and victory, after fifty days of praying and fasting, without finding faithful in our churches to respond: He is truly risen! How can we sing Christ is risen, ‘Christos anesti’, without hearing your voices repeat it vibrantly and joyfully?

It is sad that you were not able to be anointed with the Oil of repentance, nor able to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in his Pascha, the commemoration of his Passion and Resurrection.

Our Paschal celebrations this year are marred by heartache, as the churches are empty: not only the faithful are missing, but also our cherished children. With their purity, innocence, and smiles, our children are a living sign of hope and joy. They remind us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them; the future too, a future which we hope will be more humane, with more solidarity, more compassion, and more mutual love; a future in which differences between people will diminish or even disappear, and a new world order will arise with justice, equality, peace and joy, for the Earth has enough room and resources for all peoples.

True, children are silent in this year’s paschal solemnities, but the stones will speak: the stones of our churches will echo their voices which are stored there year after year, proclaiming: He is truly risen!

This year we have especially captured the meaning of the Lords’ saving Cross and Resurrection and how they are intimately related. We entered the Holy Week of the Savior’s Passion with inner joy and peace, not with sadness nor fear, because the Divine Master, by his death on the cross and his Resurrection on the third day, conquered death and filled our hearts with faith and the hope that he would always triumph over pain and evil.

How much we need hope and faith in these difficult days as we experience the pain, anxiety and fear of the corona pandemic that sweeps the world?! We now remember Saint Paul’s words to the Romans: “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5). We also remember what he wrote to the Corinthians: “With the trial, God will also provide a way out” (1 Cor 10:13). We believe that God created the world beautiful and good; in no way would He have accepted it otherwise. It’s God’s world before being the world of man; and God loves His world; so how can He let it perish as Evangelist John says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (Jn 3:16-17).

As we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ from the dead, a solemnity so dear to our hearts, the whole world is desperately struggling with a pandemic that befell it, sowing death everywhere, oppressive as a horrible nightmare. People are left confused and helpless. As if for the first time, an enemy called death has suddenly appeared in their homes and invaded factories, schools, hospitals, stores and streets, chasing people from place to place and striking at random. They hurriedly marshalled all their scientific and technological capabilities to contain it for they realized it was a matter of life or death.

Death! People seem to have completely forgotten it in the midst of their preoccupations with the affairs of life, feverishly running after their livelihood, or blindly embracing atheism, materialism, agnosticism, and many other frivolous absurdities. They have closed every window that might let in some light from another world or simply remind them that there is another world.

In the year of the corona, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds us, his followers, that death is not an ordinary matter, nor a natural conclusion for human life followed by nothing. Death is not a futility unworthy of attention and concern, but the archenemy of humankind. Fortunately, Our Lord’s Resurrection comes at the right moment to remind us that by his Resurrection, Christ has totally and completely crushed the power of death which Saint Paul calls the last enemy: “(Christ) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:25-26).

Today’s feast reminds us that the last word is not for death but for life, because Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32). God did not tell man "be" to let him die, but to live forever. And death, no matter how strong is its thorn, is doomed forever: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” exclaims the Apostle Paul (1 Cor 15:54-55).

By his Resurrection, Our Lord rekindled hope in our hearts and gave us strength to fight death in its various threatening forms. The corona that strikes us these days is not the only, nor the most dangerous epidemic: There is death between individuals, family members, parishioners, societies and nations. Death has infiltrated human relations because they are fatally corrupted by selfishness, individualism, tribalism and hostility. We see in the corona crisis some typical examples: Countries that refrain from helping other countries that are in d+ire need because they disagree with their political line or don’t obey their directives or simply because they are considered without value. We see individuals who hoard vital articles as if other people have no right to life.

The Resurrection of Our Lord calls us to restore these perturbed relationships by building trust among people. The Resurrection invites us to view the other as a brother and friend, not an enemy or an adversary. The Resurrection invites us to love the world as the Divine Master loved it.

That is what distinguishes the children of God as St. Augustine says: “He who does not promote justice and does not love his brother is not from God. Therefore, love alone is the distinctive mark that can tell God’s children from the sons of Satan.” Today more than ever before, we need to restore the due respect to the family, to the school and to the parish. We need to recognize their utmost importance and the primary role they play in our societies. They are the most suitable places for promoting good relations among people.

There is death also in our relationship with God, or rather God’s death in our lives, the death of faith. We have eliminated God and everything that reminds us of him. We have excluded him from our lives, and consequently we have suppressed our spiritual and human dimensions. When the corona epidemic stealthily befell us, we were surprised to find ourselves spiritually unprepared to cope with the new situation. We immediately felt the need to pray and return to God. An invisible virus had disrupted our lives and instilled anxiety in our souls!

Nevertheless, with our Lord’s Resurrection we feel strong, despite all our weakness, and able to renew our faith in God and the power of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead.

However, there are people who question the Resurrection of the Lord; some even categorically deny it or consider it a myth. True, the Resurrection is such an awesome event that it appears too beautiful to be true. In fact, the first to doubt it were the Apostles themselves (Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:11), especially Thomas who declared his doubt and demanded concrete proofs.

The Evangelist Luke says the Apostles considered the story of the women who announced the Resurrection of Jesus to them as "nonsense" (Luke 24:11). Luke adds that “while they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.” (Luke 24:36-37)

Only after the Apostles had examined the empty tomb, and seen, heard, and touched their living Master did they believe. They were thus able to proclaim the Resurrection of the Lord with such a profound conviction that they gave their lives for him. If we are unable to perceive supreme beauty, this does not mean that it doesn’t exist. Rather, in order to see it, we need to have a special kind of eyes, the eyes of faith.

The ones who have received the Christian faith from the Apostles possess such eyes. That’s us. We are the ones about whom Jesus aid: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29).

We are the ones whom John meant in today’s gospel when he says “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God” (John 1:12- 13). These faithful to whom we belong have overturned the equation: Reflected in their evangelical life, their faith bears evidence to the Resurrection, not the opposite.

That’s the utmost beauty of the Resurrection which we celebrate today. It’s the faith of which the Apostle Paul spoke when he addressed those who questioned the Resurrection in his time: “If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith... If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:13-17).

It means that there is no Christ, no Christian faith, no Christian religion, and no salvation without the Lord’s Resurrection. The Resurrection is the pillar of the Christian faith and the seal of its integrity. It was the main subject of the Gospel preached by the Apostles. We may call it the “Big Bang” that projected Christian life into an endless space and time. That’s precisely what our liturgy of Pasha calls “The day that has no evening,” or also the “Kingdom,” which Our Lord promised the thief and actually inaugurated as he was still on the cross.

Today, the risen Jesus Christ comes to our cities, towns and neighborhoods, accompanying us in the heart of our lives and offering to save us from servitude, evil and sin; from hatred and oppression; from pride and vanity; from darkness and doubt. He can help us make life more humane, and open up to us divine horizons, with a new Earth and new Heavens.

Today, our lord Jesus comes to us, humble in his victory, carrying salvation within His Resurrection. Let’s open our homes to him and spread our hearts before him and cheer for him. Let’s make a place for him in every house so he can shine his Light upon us today and afterwards, whether the churches are closed or open.

But the churches will not remain closed for long, God willing. We will resume meeting in the church because God has chosen it as his dwelling. It’s the place where the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, meets his Bride, the Christian community. The common prayer in the church is a primal and venerable tradition. No other prayer can replace it or abrogate it. Countless sons of ours long to come back to church in these difficult days.

In this salvific season, we pray for each other. We pray that the corona pandemic will not be long; that the Good Lord may heal those who have been affected by it and receive its victims among the Angels and the Saints. We pray for all those who have volunteered to avert the imminent danger: the doctors, the nurses, the scientists, the officials, the technicians, the various governmental and non-governmental institutions, asking God to bless their endeavor for the sake of our country and for the whole world.

We pray God to enable the International Community to overcome the pandemic by setting up a coordinated plan that would be carried out wholeheartedly in a comprehensive act of love beyond all boundaries whatsoever.

We pray the Good Lord to inspire each one of us to do what we can in order to alleviate suffering.

We pray for safety, peace, stability and prosperity in our respective countries. May peace and justice prevail all over the world.

While we pray, we should also sincerely forgive each other. In the paschal service, the Church teaches us that forgiveness gushes from the Lord’s tomb. With the forgiveness coming from the Lord’s tomb, let’s bury our conflicts and differences, our difficulties and problems, our troubles and concerns, our bitterness and disappointments, our sins and weaknesses. Let’s bury death itself! Led by the Church, let’s all join in singing with hope and faith, with joy and exultation, with optimism and determination:

“Today is the day of the Resurrection! Let us glory in the Feast and embrace one another. Brethren, let us say: ‘Because of the Resurrection, we forgive all things to those who hate us.’ And let us all sing together: ‘Christ is risen from the dead and by his death he has trampled upon death and has given life to those who are in the tomb.’”

 
Join us at the Annunciation Cathredral to celebrate the services. The link below is to register. Once registered, you'll get an email with the link to the live-streaming!
Day Time Service Link to register
Wednesday 7:00PM Divine Liturgy Wednesday registration
Saturday 5:00PM Great Vespers Saturday and Sunday registration
Sunday 10:15AM Orthros
Sunday 11:00AM Divine Liturgy
If asked, the password is "Melkite". All times US/EDT.
 

His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, sends you his YouTube message for

Great and Holy Week, courtesy of Father Hezekias and the Office

of Evangelization and Catechesis.

 

Arabic translation (PDF, 2 pages, 76KB)

 

 

 

 

Pascha 2020

Dear Clergy and Faithful,

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

The Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus begins: “Today is the day of the resurrection! 0 nations, let us be joyful.” And yet there is not much joy this year in the nations of the world with the pandemic of COVID-19, a strain of the coronavirus attacking thousands and taking many lives. We are faced with a new style of war.

Great Lent and Holy Week were interrupted this year forcing us to keep distances with people, even to the point that most public services and Divine Liturgies became limited to “live streaming” on the internet. The very human need to share lives with others in personal ways is put on hold to protect ourselves and others. I do not need to get into much detail since the news media reports it, sometimes to the point of repetitive exaggeration. But we must heed all the warnings and accept the civil involvement to curb the spreading of this massive problem when it does not conflict with our Christian faith. When Jesus returned to his Father forty-days after his resurrection he left a promise with his disciples, “behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). This is our faith, Jesus says, “I am with you.”

After proclaiming the Resurrection Gospel outside the church, the priest, knocking on the closed doors, announces “The Lord who is strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle… He is the king of glory.” The Lord will be strong and mighty in the COVID-19 battle and we need to remain strong and mighty in our prayers, and with everyone's cooperation during this distressful time we will be victorious and rise with Christ.

We pray especially for our health care workers, doctors, nurses and all the medical staff, grateful for putting themselves in great danger for our protection. We also pray for those in civil service: fire and police departments, and all who are attempting to keep us safe.

We pray for those infected with the virus, asking God to bring them to full recovery in good health.

We pray for those who have died from COVID-19, asking the Lord to welcome them into eternal life. We are reassured in the words of St. John Chrysostom's resurrection homily, “let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free… 0 death, where is your sting? Where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished… for Christ has become the Leader and Reviver of those who have fallen asleep.”

So yes, amid all the difficulties and sorrows created by this pandemic, we who have faith and hope in Christ, can still proclaim “through the cross joy has come to the world… for by enduring for us the pain of the cross, He has crushed death by His death.” (Paschal Orthros). We suffer much pain at this time, but we are assured the Lord will triumph.

I keep you all in my prayers asking God to keep you safe. Even though we are limited in our public celebrations I still proclaim to you the joy of the resurrection. Pray that we may never see these limitations ever again.

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

 

Sincerely yours in Christ God,

✠ Most Rev. Nicholas Samra

Eparchial Bishop of Newton

 

 

 

 

Now that we have seen the resurrection of Christ,
let us adore the all-holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One.
We bow in worship before Your Cross, 0 Christ,
and we praise and glorify Your Resurrection,
for You are our God and we have no other, and we magnify Your name.
All yyou faithful, come: let us adore the holy Resurrection of Christ;
for behold, through the Cross joy has come to the world.
Let us always bless the Lord, let us sing His Resurrection,
for by enduring for us the pain of the Cross,
He has crushed death by His death.

 

Holy Week and Pascha without being able to go to church??? We are here to help give you ideas and resources for Holy Week and Pascha for your domestic church (the church of your home), because the Resurrection isn’t can- celled! We need to remember now more than ever the hope we have in Christ’s destruction of death and His gift of eternal life. This current crisis is an opportunity to revive our domestic churches and begin to pray (or pray more) as a family/couple and individually. And, when we pray, we must remember that the whole Body of Christ—the Church, is with us.

From the Office of Educational Services: Holy & Great Week in the Domestic Church for Melkites (PDF, 15MB, 11 pages)

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