Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 

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)

 
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.

 
PDF (2 pages, 676KB)

18 March 2020

Dear Clergy and Laity of the Eparchy of Newton

Christ is among us! He is and always will be!

This greeting at the Kiss of Peace in the Divine Liturgy affirms our strong belief that the Lord is with us always and everywhere; and yes, even during the Coronavirus pandemic. He remains with us, and we are urged to cooperate with our civil officials and the precautionary restrictions they are placing on us during this crisis. We offer our prayers for those who are affected with the virus: may Jesus Christ, the Healer of Soul and Body remain with them and bring them to full recovery. We pray also for those who have died, asking the Lord God to welcome them into the heavenly mansions and number them among the saints.

Since we are a national eparchy, we must be aware of the local restrictions of our government and also of the Roman dioceses in which our churches are located. There are challenges for us, and we need to remain calm and strong in faith and action. After the Boston Marathon bombing several years ago a new slogan appeared here: Boston Strong! So we now add to it Newton (USA) Strong!

Please observe the following guidelines:

  1. Take all precautionary measures according to the directives issued by medical and local authorities.
  2. All Faithful of the Eparchy are dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday and Holy Day Divine Liturgies.
  3. All Melkite churches must follow the restrictions of the local government and Latin dioceses in which they are located, i.e. if the local Latin diocese has cancelled Mass, then cancel Liturgy, at least until then end of March.
  4. Public Lenten Services and parish dinners are suspended.
  5. Funerals should be served only with the immediate family members of the deceased. A date can be chosen later for a public memorial service when the pandemic subsides.
  6. Each parish may celebrate a Sunday Divine Liturgy with two or three present and live stream it to the parish members. Or, tune into several other Melkite churches who are presently live streaming. Father Hezekias will send out links to our churches that are live streaming the Divine Liturgy.
  7. Lenten week day services (Presanctified, etc.) may also be celebrated in the church with two or three and live streamed.
  8. Parishioners should be sent via email a copy of the Typica Service (it is in the Horologion), and families should be encouraged to pray it at home daily and at least on Sunday.
  9. Churches may be open at designated times after the live streamed Liturgy for those who wish to receive the Eucharist.

These guidelines remain in effect until the end of March. At that time, we will assess what the government officials and other dioceses recommend.

Please, each and every one, be safe. Follow the necessary precautions and remain strong in prayer. With my best wishes and prayers, I remain.

Sincerely yours in Christ God,

The Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra

Bishop of Newton

 

Arabic translation (PDF, 2 pages, 156KB)

 

 

 

 

GREAT LENT 2020

Dear Clergy and Faithful,

A blessed Great Fast!

The season of Great Lent, also called the Great Fast, developed over the centuries. Historically, it was the last forty day of catechesis or religious education for the catechumens or those studying to be incorporated into the Body of Christ through Baptism at the celebration of the Lord's Resurrection at Pascha. During this time of education, they learned how a Christian lives his/her life. The focus was on the necessity of prayer, fasting, and good works.

As it developed and grew, the Church recognized that we fail many times in properly living our Christian life. So, as the catechumens were hearing what Christian life was all about, the existing Christians were asked to refocus and renew their own lives to be more in conformity with Christ.

Contrary to common thinking that Lent was gloomy or morbid, in reality it is a joyful time, a time of purification. Our liturgical prayers remind us: "Let us enter the season of the radiant Fast with joy…let us purify our spirit and cleanse our flesh…let us shine with the bright radiance of the holy commandments of Christ our God, with the brightness of love and the splendor of prayer, with the purity of holiness and the strength of good courage. Clothed in a garment of light, let us hasten to the holy third-day Resurrection that shines upon the world with the glory of eternal life" (Orthros, 1st Monday).

The Great Fast of forty days is a tithe, or one-tenth, of the year in which we return to God our good practice of our faith. In a sense, it is our annual retreat to recall our sins and through repentance "turn toward God and drawing near to Him" (Ode 9, Othros, 1st Monday).

Let us take this opportunity by our focus on the tripod of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Prayer is a dialogue with God--asking, thanking, and praising, a dialogue of silence in the quiet of our hearts. We lift up our mind and heart to God, walking in His presence. We have communion with God to enable us to do His will.

We fast from specific foods, but also "true fasting is to put off all evil, to control the tongue, to forbear from anger, to abstain from lust, slander, falsehood, and perjury" (Vespers, 1st Monday). What we save from our fasting is given to those who lack through The Shepherd's Care, our eparchial charity program.

Almsgiving or good works reminds us that other are important--all of us are made in the image and likeness of God. So we go out of ourselves more to focus on our brothers and sisters who are in need. Possibly choose a shut-in or someone in a hospital or nursing home who has no one around--visit and share Christ's love. And don't forget that everyone around us--we all need kind words and support.

Besides your private prayer life, join your parish community in prayer at the Presancitified Liturgy and Great Compline. The Akathist Hymn is also served in our parishes on Fridays honoring the Mother of God, as we prepare also for the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, falling most of the time during Great Lent.

Don't let this season speed by without notice, get involved. Refocus your Christian living; retreat to your baptismal promise to make Christ your King and God. See others with love and care. Open your Bibles and read God's word. Add more personal prayer to your day, and observe your personal rule of fasting.

I greet you all as we together journey towards Holy Week and the glorious Resurrection of Christ; and I pray for you and yours: be a radiant Christian!

May your observance of the Great Fast be abundantly blessed.

Yours in Christ God,

✠ Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra

Bishop of Newton

 

Arabic translation (PDF, 2 pages, 520KB)

 

 

 

 

The Holy Nativity of Christ 2019

My Dear Clergy and Laity across America,

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Since you are the God of Peace and the Father all-merciful, O Lover of mankind, you sent us the Messenger of Great Counsel to grant us your peace. Led to the light of your divine knowledge, we keep watch in the night before You, and we sing to you a hymn of glory, O Lover of mankind!
(Ode 5 Canon of Nativity)

Long before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; … and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6). When the prophesy came to pass and Jesus was born, the angels declared: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

Even before his resurrection Jesus renewed this promise, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27)

Looking at our world today we see the lack of peace in so many places. Wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and in many African countries and with the involvement of our own country in a number of these areas. A new lack of peace has now escalated in Lebanon with anti-government demonstrations as well as in Palestine and Israel and Iran. Christianity is deteriorating throughout the Middle East, the homeland of our Melkite Church. Our prayers are needed more and more for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Peace is at the heart of the Christian faith. We can not find it in the pleasure of our war-torn world. The source of perfect peace is only found in the One made flesh &emdash; God and man &emdash; Jesus Christ born in poverty in Bethlehem. He took on our humanity to share with us his divinity. We need to proclaim to our world: Peace comes from Jesus Christ.

St. Paul tells us: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). When I am at peace with God, I am at peace with myself. Peace is not the absence of problems &emph; rather, it is the harmony and peace we enjoy internally. Jesus is Emmanuel &endash; God with us. In turmoil an amid problems his presence brings a sense of peace. He guides, He forgives, He comforts and He grants us confidence to overcome adversities.

Like him we offer forgiveness, guidance and comfort to others. We may not be the ones to change the entire world but we can begin by being people of peace as St. Paul tells us “live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

I am grateful for my clergy: priests, deacons, sub-deacons, readers and to our two sisters for their continual service given so abundantly and peacefully as they assist me in my ministry. I am grateful for all those who extend themselves in each parish to serve in many parish ministries. I am grateful to all the laity &emdash; for your support of your local parish and for this blessed Eparchy uniting all Melkites. May the peace of Christ remain with all of us.

Our God is the God of peace! as fervently the God-man Jesus Christ, reborn daily in our lives, to look on his world and fill the hears and minds of all with his peace.

I greet you in joy an beg you all to be people of peace. I keep you in prayer and ask that the prince of Peace bless you.

With my love and prayers, I remain,

Sincerely in Christ God,

✠ Most Reverend Nicholas Samra

Eparchial Bishop of Newton

Apostolic Administrator of Melkites in Mexico

 

Arabic translation (PDF, 2 pages, 240KB)

Holy and Glorious Pascha 2019

My Dear Clergy and Faithful,

“Today is the day of Resurrection: let us glory in this feast and embrace one another. O 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 trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life.’

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

This Hymn is sung at the end of Orthros on Pascha and throughout the forty days thereafter. It is a stark reminder that there are still “those who hate us.” Sadly, our world is filled with hatred among nations, among politicians, among radical religious groups, and even among brothers and sisters in families, and between parents and children. Our Christian faith and beliefs are under attack, particularly regarding the life issues, as well as sexual morality.  So many people have not been touched by the resurrection of Jesus Christ who proclaims, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

Jesus came to “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). He came to remake life and add to it a quality it never had before.  The new life of Jesus is “eternal life”, not just life that lasts forever, but rather eternal life—a participation in the life which God lives. He invites us to enter into the very divine life of God Himself.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proclamation that eternal life exists. Being raised from the dead, Jesus assures us that whoever lives without God EXISTS, but does not truly LIVE.  For we do not know what real life is until we rise with Christ on this great feast and every day of our life.  As St. Paul says: “It is no long I who live, but Christ who LIVES in me” (Galatians 2:20).

The Resurrection of Jesus is not just His personal survival after death; it is that and much more.  His resurrection means the beginning of a new era for the human race. God entered history and acted to defeat and overcome the power of evil.  He healed the sick, released the possessed from bondage, and converted sinners. The Resurrection proclaims new hope for all of us: as Jesus served, we are to serve; as Jesus loved, we are to love; as Jesus forgave, we are to forgive, and, indeed, as the opening hymn says, “we forgive all things even to those who hate us.”

Christ destroys evil and death and is victorious. We too are victorious since He lives in us.  With St. Paul we shout out, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin… but thanks to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)!

Christ offers us victory over self.  For victory to have meaning we must begin with ourselves.  Many church-going Christians are not victorious but defeated – Christians in name only.  They have a form of religion but not its power.  For them life is self-centered, never making a total commitment to Christ.  The resurrection of Christ is our victory, our renewal, our rising from our sins to new life. Our faith in Christ’s resurrection is not an escape from reality, but rather victory. We do not run away from sinfulness, but we conquer it through Christ who said, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

As your bishop, I exhort you on this Feast of feasts to strengthen your Christian commitment in prayer, in service to each other, and to remain strong witnesses within your parish communities and in the Church in general.  Speak up for human rights from conception to natural death.  Oppose those who uphold evils contrary to our Christian faith.  Be a resurrection person committed to life.

I pray for all of you and most especially during this resurrection season. May you be at peace with each other, and may we all rise from sin and embrace one another in joy as we proclaim: Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,

✠ Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra

Eparchial Bishop of Newton

 
CLICK HERE TO READ IN ARABIC
The Holy Nativity of Christ 2018
Dear Clergy and Laity across America,
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
“O little Child lying in a manger, by means of a star, heaven has called and led to You the Magi, the first fruits of the Gentiles who were astounded to behold, not scepters and thrones, but extreme poverty. What indeed is lower than a cave? What is humbler than swaddling clothes – and yet the splendor of Your divinity shone forth in them resplendently. O Lord, glory to You!” (Hypacoi of the Nativity)
Scripture scholars tell us the Magi came from far away. They were filled with a desire to find someone for whom their restless hearts and minds yearned. “…the Magi came to Bethlehem, going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His Mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him” (Mt 2:11). They encountered Jesus. They were probably surprised because, instead of a palace, they encountered Jesus, the new-born King, in a poor house, maybe even the cave, enthroned in the arms of a young girl and not surrounded by regal attendants. Encounter with Jesus: isn’t this the meaning of Christmas? Isn’t this the meaning and reason of our life’s journey? To encounter Jesus more and more, to know Him better, to love Him more, to imitate His example, and to fulfill His will. Like the Magi we are always seeking Jesus. We find Him in the Church and within each other. God manifests Himself through the Mysteries of the Church – we especially encounter Him in the Eucharist and we become what we eat – the Body of Christ. We fall down like the Magi and worship Him. We become one with Him in adoration, peace, and love. I offer my prayer for you:
  • With faith, the Magi set out on their journey to seek Jesus. May all in the Church be guided by faith on their journey through life.
  • With courage, the Magi followed the star that pointed out Jesus. May those who labor for peace, justice, and an end to war and terrorism not lose courage in their efforts.
  • With patience, the Magi endured challenges and discomforts on their journey to Jesus. May the sick, the suffering, the grieving and lonely, the poor and the elderly, the marginalized, the addicted, and those out of work be patient and filled with hope in their trials.
  • With longing, the Magi left all to encounter Jesus. May priests and religious and those being called to these vocations be generous in leaving all to serve Him in His Church.
  • With hope, the Magi sought for Jesus. May families find Jesus in one another by their mutual love, understanding, and respect.
  • With awe, the Magi adored Jesus. May we find and worship Him in the manifestations of God in the flesh.
  • With humility, the Magi were blessed by Jesus. May He bless us this Christmas and Theophany with an answer to the needs and intentions we bring before Him.
  • Like the Magi may each and every one of us encounter Jesus as we celebrate His birth each day of our life. I offer my love, prayers, good wishes, and blessings, and my greetings for a blessed and healthy New Year 2019. Sincerely yours in Christ God,
    ✠ Nicholas The Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra Eparchial Bishop of Newton Apostolic Administrator of Melkites in Mexico
 
Christ is among us! He is and always will be! My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, “Even as you wish men to do to you, so also do you in return.” “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” In these two beautiful commandments of Our Lord in today's Gospel, Christ our God reveals to us the way He wants His disciples to live in this world; He sets out for us the Christian way of living. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and “be merciful, as your Father is merciful.” To be a follower of Jesus is to imitate our heavenly Father who is rich in mercy--to act even as God acts! Indeed, “Christianity,” in the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, “is an imitation of the Divine Nature.” When we received baptism and chrismation, we were renewed and anointed--we were Christened--made into to other “Christs”. We put off the “old man”, and we put on Christ. St. Gregory the Theologian said: “Be as God to the unfortunate, by imitating the mercy of God. For in nothing do we draw so close to God as in doing good to one another.” What a noble and lofty calling we are given in Holy Baptism. What does it mean to be a merciful person? St. Peter of Damascus offers us the following description: “The merciful man is he who gives to others what he has himself received from God—whether it be money, or food, or strength, a helpful word, a prayer, or anything else that he has through which he can express his compassion...” The merciful man is one who, in the words of today’s Gospel, does good without expecting a reward. In our secular culture today it is “every man for himself,” and our technology bombards us from morning till night with alluring messages that tell us we deserve the best of everything, that we should get all we can get before some else gets it, and that we constantly need more and better material things in order to be happy. Yet, in the midst of this materialism and consumerism, our Lord sets before us a clear choice: do we live the lifestyle of sinners according to the sensible standards and secular priorities of this world, or do we live according to the commandments of God? Do we love only those who love us; curse those who curse us; and lend only to those from whom we will receive a substantial return? Or, do we love our enemies; give to everyone who asks us; and bless those who curse us? But perhaps we think this standard is out of our reach or too difficult for us to attain. In today’s Epistle, the Lord reminds us that “My grace is sufficient for you, for strength is made perfect in weakness.” Christ became one of us, so that He could show us how to live a Godly life. He has become the standard by which He calls us to live, and He has sent us His Holy Spirit to become for us strength in our weakness. Jesus is the mercy of our heavenly Father, and He bids us to imitate Him. And so, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I come to you today, as we begin, once again, our annual Bishop’s Appeal, in the spirit of Jesus’ powerful words—“be merciful even as your Father is merciful”—to plead for your mercy. I appeal to you for your generous, financial support of our Melkite Greek Catholic Church in America. I come to you with gratitude for your past generosity. Last year so many of you responded to our appeal without hesitation and with increased generosity: you gave more than you had ever given before! Thank God, we received over $310,000 in donations to meet the needs of our Melkite Church in America, with only 1,456 of our nearly 12,000 parishioners participating. Moreover, my heart overflows with gratitude because, in addition to your donations to the Bishop’s Appeal last year, you also responded with generosity to our urgent appeal for aid to our brothers and sisters who are devastated by the civil war in Syria, and you gave almost $120,000 to our Patriarchate for Syrian relief. This is truly a testament to your fidelity to Jesus’ call to give without expecting any return. Now, as our brothers and sisters, especially in Syria and Egypt, continue to experience the ravages of war, hatred, and persecution, I come again with hand outstretched to ask for your support for the important works of our Church. Because of the grave needs of our people and in response to the call of His Beatitude, our Patriarch Gregorios III, I have decided to send a tithe, or ten percent, of all the funds raised in this year’s Bishop’s Appeal for the relief of the suffering Syrian people. And I ask you to look upon the needs of our Melkite brothers and sisters as your own needs and to respond again with a merciful and generous heart. Please know that your gifts are used very prudently to support the important works of our Eparchy and to assure its future growth. Last year, donations to the Bishop’s Appeal helped to subsidize the cost of the publication and mailing of SOPHIA magazine; to aid our mission churches in need; and to fund religious education, youth ministry, and deacon formation—all essential works for the future of our Church in America. In addition, because of your generous gifts, we were able to assist our elderly priests, and give assistance to struggling parishes and missions. My fellow Melkites, it is not an exaggeration to say that without your support of our annual Bishop’s Appeal our Melkite Eparchy would not be able to meet its financial commitments. That is why I appeal to you today, as the Father of our Melkite family in America: we need every member of our family to take financial responsibility for the works of our Eparchy. I ask you to make the support of our Church a priority in your charitable giving. Each year, we ask every Melkite household in America to consider it their duty to give at least $100 annually to the Bishop’s Appeal for the needs of our Church. To each of you, I say with Saint Paul: “give according to your means” (2 Corinthians 8:3), and “glorify God by the generosity of your contribution” (2 Corinthians 9:13). I am very much aware that these times can be economically challenging and that our economic future may seem uncertain. Yet, I am also very much aware that we, in this great country of ours, enjoy tremendous blessings especially in comparison to so many who suffer in the Middle East and around the world. And so, I humbly ask you not to act like sinners who give only when they are guaranteed a good return on their investment, but to live like Christ, who gives freely, abundantly, without counting the cost. After all, “what have we that we have not received?” What we possess is not ours—it is on loan from God. We are but stewards of God’s gifts. And so, dear friends in Christ, as you consider your response to my letter of appeal you will receive at home, I ask you to take a few moments in prayer to reflect upon the tremendous mercy our Father has shown to you and your family and to be merciful as He is merciful. Make your financial gift a heartfelt offering of love and mercy to God and to your Melkite brothers and sisters. And our Lord assures you that “your reward shall be great, and you shall be called children of the Most High.” May Christ our true God bless you and your loved ones, and may He bring peace to our beloved Syria and Egypt and all the peoples of the Middle East. With my heartfelt prayers and gratitude, I remain
Your devoted father and shepherd ✠ Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra Bishop of Newton

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