Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 
Join Bishop Nicholas and Fr. Hezekias for an unforgettable pilgrimage to the Holy Land in honor of the Eparchy's 50th anniversary: July 6-18, 2017.
 
To begin the Protecting God's Children training online, all participants must first register with VIRTUS Online. Once registered, an email will be sent with instructions to begin the training program. To do so, either click the link above, or follow the detailed registration instructions here. May the Holy and All-Pure Mother of God protect, guide and guard all our children and families.
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
At the request of His Grace, The Most Revered NICHOLAS J. Samra, Eparchial Bishop of Newton, His Holiness, Pope Francis, has named Saint Anne Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Los Angeles, California, as Co-Cathedral of the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton. The Divine Liturgy for the Solemn Inauguration of the Cathedral of Saint Anne will be celebrated by His Grace, Bishop NICHOLAS, on Saturday, 1 August 2015, at 4:00 P.M. His Eminence, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches in Rome, will preside at the Divine Liturgy and will read the decree of Pope Francis elevating the Church as a Cathedral for the Eparchy of Newton. A grand Banquet will follow the Divine Liturgy at the Hilton Hotel in Studio City, CA. Saint Anne Cathedral was founded in 1909 when Father Gerasimos Sawaya, the first Melkite missionary priest, traversed the west coast visiting and ministering to the Melkites in the Western United States. The present church building is 51 years old and is quite unique in the United States for its modern Byzantine architecture. The church is a jewel of iconography with mosaic and painted icons decorating the entire interior, featuring the Great Feasts of the Byzantine calendar and related accounts of the New Testament Gospel periscopes, as well as many saints. Its semi-circular exterior arcade features icon scenes from the Old Testament. St. Anne Cathedral was the Mother Church of the following Melkite communities founded from it: Holy Cross Church in Placentia, CA; Virgin Mary Mission in Temecula, CA; St. Jacob Mission in San Diego, CA; St. Philip Mission in San Bernardino, CA; St. Paul Mission in West Los Angeles, CA; and Annunciation Mission in Covina, CA. In addition, St. Anne Church was also involved with the foundation of the following communities: St. George Church in Sacramento, CA; St. Elias the Prophet Church in San Jose, CA; and St. John of the Desert Church in Phoenix, AZ; and St. Joseph Mission in Seattle, WA. The Eparchy of Newton has jurisdiction over all the Melkites in the entire United States. The seat of the Eparchy is in Boston (Newton) Massachusetts, where its Eparchial Cathedral of the Annunciation is located. Because of the vast extent of the Eparchy, Bishop NICHOLAS requested the naming of a Co-Cathedral on the West Coast in order to express to the Melkite faithful there the unity of the Church and the solicitude of it bishop. The Eparchy of Newton presently has 45 parishes and missions, sixty active and retired priests, and sixty-two deacons, with several priests and deacons on special assignment outside the Eparchy.
 
Now available from Sophia Press…
the long-awaited second edition of the
Publicans Prayer Book
The Publicans Prayer Book, 2nd Edition, contains everything in the 1st Edition… PLUS… 140 additional pages including:
  • Selections from the Horologion: Vespers, Orthros, and Typica
  • Prayers for the Dying and Departed: Canon for the Parting of the Soul from the Body, Trisagion Prayers (Memorial Service for the Departed), Canon for the Departed, Akathist Hymn for Those who have Fallen Asleep
  • Instructions for praying the Psalter including the Rule for the Weekly Recitation of the Psalter and the Twenty Kathismata of the Byzantine Psalterion
  • Instructions on the Jesus Prayer
  • Additional Selected Texts from the writings of the Holy Fathers
The Publicans Prayer Book is a valuable help for Eastern Christians who seek to sanctify their daily lives by responding to the Lord’s call to “pray at all times” (Luke 21:34). It also makes an especially meaningful gift for occasions such as: graduation, holidays, names day, birthday, first confession, anniversary, etc. for anyone who loves the Lord. Richly leather-bound with gold embossing, sewn binding, fine quality archival paper, gilt edges, silk ribbons, two-color printing throughout, in a practical 4.5x6.5 size, with lovely graphic reproductions from antique Byzantine liturgical books. On sale now from Sophia Press ($38.00). Easy online ordering!
 
Blason: Eparchy of Newton: Azure, a sun resplendent d’or charged with the Greek letters IC XC sable, in the nombril a crescent d’argent and in the base the Greek letters MR OU of the second; a chief paly of thirteen d’argent and gules.

ECCLESIASTICAL HERALDRY

Heraldry is often referred to as both art and science inasmuch as it involves the application of precise rules in addition to artistic methodology. In heraldry, what, is called the “achievement” consists of the escutcheon (coat-of-arms), a crest above the shield; it may also include supporters and a chosen motto. Ecclesiastical heraldry consists of both institutional and personal heraldry. Institutional heraldry includes that of eparchies and dioceses, parishes, monasteries, schools etc., while personal heraldry pertains to individuals: bishops, priests, deacons, and monastics. Those who exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the Church combine, in various precisely prescribed ways, their own personal arms and achievements together with the arms of the juridical entity over which they preside. Despite misconceptions that heraldry is western European, heraldry was commonly and widely used in the Byzantine Empire. The various Eastern patriarchates and jurisdictions have continuously used heraldry since at least the tenth century with even earlier antecedents dating to pre-Christian times. The most important element of the achievement is, of course, the escutcheon itself - ordinarily displayed on a shield or, sometimes a cartouche, lozenge or oval. In written and spoken formulation, heraldry makes use of an ancient form of French. In what is called a blason, the escutcheon (coat-of-arms) is precisely verbalized using as few words as possible. The blason for the Eparchy of Newton coat-of-arms reads: Azure, a sun resplendent d’or charged with the Greek letters IC XC sable, in the nombril a crescent d’argent and in the base the Greek letters MR OU of the second; a chief paly of thirteen d’argent and gules. This blazon allows the heraldic artist and reader to visualize the arms of the eparchy as being: “A blue shield with a golden sun upon which are written the Greek letters for Jesus Christ and under which is a silver crescent moon flanked by the Greek letters for ‘Mother of God,’ while the upper third of the shield is formed of thirteen vertical white and red stripes.” Heraldry makes use of tinctures (colors), metals, furs, and objects. In the blason for the eparchy’s escutcheon we find two colors and two metals. “Azure” is Old French for blue and “Gules” refers to the color red. Two metals are also found. “Argent” is French for silver and is used interchangeably for the color white, while “d’or” refers to gold and is used interchangeably for yellow. Contrary to popular belief, a coat-of-arms uniquely belongs to an individual or legally recognized entity or institution and not to a family. In fact, in the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Italy and other European nations as well, the misuse of a coat-of-arms by someone other than the proper individual bearer is illegal and can be the cause of a lawsuit and while heraldic law is not operative in the United States, coat-of-arms are often registered under federal copyright laws and their misuse is subject to copyright infringement.

Significance

Our eparchial coat-of-arms were first registered and granted at the establishment of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Exarchate for the United States in 1966. They remained unchanged in 1976, during the Bicentennial year of our nation’s independence, when the exarchate became the Melkite Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Newton. These same arms have been borne continuously by the Melkite Church in the United States except for a year or two in the late 1980’s when a variation of the same arms was used, but with the placement of the sun and moon at the top of the shield and stripes below. However, the arms reverted to its original granted form after a short period of time and has remained the same since. The field of a blue shield and thirteen alternating white and red stripes recalls the coat of arms of the United States and the original thirteen colonies. The Eparchy of Newton is headquartered in one of those thirteen colonies and close to the very birthplace of the American Revolution. The resplendent Sun is symbolic of the Christ who is lauded in the ancient vespers hymn “Phos Hilaron” – “O Joyful Light of the Father’s glory.” The sun is further charged with the Greek monogram for Jesus Christ - IC XC. Significantly, for an eparchy with its cathedral dedicated to the Annunciation, a crescent moon in the base is symbolic of the Holy Theotokos (Rev. 12:1) while the letters MR OU are the Greek monograms for the Mother of God. A heraldic crown surmounts the shield of a Melkite eparchy. Although somewhat reminiscent of the episcopal mitre, the heraldic crown above Melkite patriarchal and eparchial arms is actually more akin to a royal crown and is symbolic of both dignity and jurisdiction. Additionally, the eparchial arms may also be backed with a paterissa - the pastoral staff used by a bishop.
Blason and designs by: Archpriest Lawrence G. Gosselin, USAF (Ret)
 
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ is born! Glorify Him! My greetings on the glorious feast of Christ's birth in the flesh are intermingled below with texts from the beautiful Office for the Forefeast of the Nativity. The exquisite prayers from this Office of the Forefeast of Christ's Nativity reveal the profound meaning of this feast, why God allows His Son, Jesus Christ, to enter into our world: Bethlehem, make ready, for Eden has been opened for all. Ephrata, be alert, for the Tree of Life has blossomed forth from the Virgin in a cave. Her womb has become a spiritual Paradise wherein the divine Fruit was planted--and if we eat it, we shall live and not die like Adam. Christ is coming forth to bring back to life the likeness that had been lost in the beginning. By His own will, Christ comes to serve him whose form He now assumes. By his mercy in the richness of His divinity, He grants poor Adam a second birth, a wondrous restoration. Christ assumes our humanity to show us love, to love us, to share our nature so that once again we may share and live the divine life. We are fragile people; we fall into sin over and over again. But Christ draws near, bearing our flesh, and granting to all a divine rebirth through the Spirit. When we look to our world we still see so much brokenness, even the prospect for peace looks bleak. The Middle East, birthplace of Christ and our Church and many of our ancestors, is war-torn with people dying each day because of political struggles and insecurities. The good news of Christ in the flesh in each and every Christian needs to be proclaimed louder and clearer. We call all to the love of God who sent His Son to redeem us from the bondage of the enemy. He delivers us who were made subject to corruption. Jesus is our only hope! On earth form choirs worthy of God. Christ, the great and mighty Prince, is born: the King of heaven appears on earth! God is no longer far away from us: The inaccessible God has made Himself accessible to me in the compassion of his heart. In His good will, He draws near to be born in the flesh as a man from the young Virgin in the city of Bethlehem… Now God is near, and He lives in each one of us who believe. We are the Bethlehem where He needs to be born: Bethlehem is within us. We are the new Paradise, and we need more and more to manifest Christ to our world: our immediate family, our friends and acquaintances, our communities where we work and where we worship, and to the world at large. If each one of us could be more Christ-like the world would be a better place in which to live. Behold Christ is coming to overcome the Evil One, to bring light to the souls in darkness, and to break their bonds. Let us go out now to meet Him. As you meet Christ in this feast, extinguish your selfishness and provide a remedy…for abundant healing for all the world! Let the gifts of the Magi--gold, frankincense, and myrrh--be transformed in each of us to become gifts of faith, hope and love. During this year of faith, proclaimed by my Pope Benedict XVI, let us refocus our lives in conformity with the person of Jesus Christ. Let us strengthen our faith in this great mystery which the Father had determined from all ages…God becomes man, taking flesh from the Virgin. The uncreated One allows Himself to be created. He remains what He is; yet become what He was not: Christ the King of Israel is coming to the world. The wall of separation has been torn down. The powers of heaven are joined to mankind; the angels celebrate in the company of mortals. With a pure heart, let us approach the spotless One, contemplating the Virgin who has become the cherubic throne, holding the God whom no space can contain and carrying the One who is carried in awe by the Cherubim. He does this to grant us great mercy. Like the Virgin Theotokos we must all give flesh to Christ by the way we live and speak and act. Through Mary, the Son of God became man for us, so that through Him we might ourselves become divine, children of God the Father by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. I urge you to welcome Christ in each person you meet, to find Him in yourself and really feel His rebirth in your heart as you love and serve one another. My love, prayers, and blessings to my entire flock, the Church of Newton, as we celebrate God in the flesh, Emmanuel, for truly God is with us!
Sincerely Yours in Christ God, Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra Bishop of Newton
 
Christ is among us! He is and always will be!
My dear Melkite brothers and sisters in Christ, I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ whose love is beyond compare and whose mercy is without measure! In his first Epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul asks a rhetorical question that points to the essential truth about our lives: “What do you have that you have not received?” (1 Cor 4:7) Everything we have, all that we own and have worked for, every beautiful person and choice possession in our life are but the wonderful gifts of God who is the Lover of Mankind and the Benefactor of our souls. Our very lives and every breath we continue to breathe are given us by God. Indeed, as we pray in every Divine Liturgy, “every good gift and every perfect grace is from above, coming down from You, the Father of Lights, and to You we render glory, thanksgiving, and worship.” When we truly realize our indebtedness to God for every moment of our existence, our lives begin to change. The focus of our lives moves away from my needs, my desires, and my self, and turns to God, the Giver of all life and goodness. Rather then seeking to grasp more and more, and to acquire bigger and better—as if our lives depended on it—we begin to live in gratitude and thankfulness to God upon whom our lives truly depend. What we think we cannot live without, we come to realize that one day we will indeed live without and leave behind. And we become ever more grateful to our Father for the gift of His Son who gave His life for us and for the gift of His Holy Spirit which He pours out upon us. The words of St. Paul now become for us a way of life: “Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness;” “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God for you.” Yet, as we experience our complete indebtedness to God, we are at once stuck by our utter inability to render to Him an appropriate response. The words of the Psalmist well up in our hearts: “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me” (Psalm 116:12)? How is it possible to offer God a fitting gift for all He has given to us? Yet, even in this, our Father Himself provides what we need. In the Divine Liturgy, He allows us to make the offering of His own Son our very own offering of thanksgiving to Him. This is why for Christians the highest form of prayer is the Eucharist. Eucharistia in Greek means to give thanks. We come to the Divine Liturgy in order to offer up ourselves—all that we have and all that we are—in thanksgiving, uniting ourselves with the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus in one great thank-offering to the Father. The priest prays: “We offer You Your own, from what is Your own, in all and for the sake of all.” And in return for our thanksgiving, God gives us to partake of His very Body and Blood. In so doing, our lives are truly transformed into eucharistic lives—lives of thanksgiving. More and more, we are able to put aside our selfish self-seeking, and assume an “attitude of gratitude” in all things and for all things. Instead of grasping and tightening our grip on material things, we open our hands and our hearts in generosity to God and to our neighbor. This is meaning of Christian stewardship. St. Paul describes the life of Christian stewardship in this way: “Whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” A life of stewardship is a life of thankfulness—a eucharistic life. And so, it is as a fellow steward, that I come to you today. When I became a bishop some 23 years ago, I chose as my episcopal motto: Steward of the Mysteries, taken from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians wherein he writes: “Let a man so account us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” For the Priesthood of Christ is not a personal possession of the clergy that we are given for ourselves, nor is the High Priesthood of a bishop. Rather, Christ entrusts us, unworthy though we are, as merely stewards of the sacred Mysteries of the Church in order to dispense these gifts to Christ’s faithful people. And upon our stewardship we will be judged. My fellow Melkites, we are all stewards of God’s gifts, and we will all be called to give an account for how we have used our gifts. How have we used our time, our talents, and our treasures? What have I done for God and for His Church with the gifts He has given me? Do I use the time God gives me to grow closer to Him and to become a better person or do I waste my time on frivolous and vain things of little consequence which will pass away in an instant? Do I hide my talents under a bushel or do I use them to serve my Church and to make my world a better and holier place? And do I use my material wealth to support my Melkite Church according to the measure God has given me, or do I give as little as I possibly can? What kind of steward are you? In our Epistle reading today, St. Paul reminds us that it is not how much we receive or what we possess in this life that matters; rather, it is what we give that brings happiness, peace, and an eternal reward. When we give freely and cheerfully of ourselves and of our gifts, we open the floodgates of God’s grace and bounty in our lives. As St. Paul says: “He who sows bountifully…not grudgingly or from compulsion,” “will also reap bountifully… For God loves a cheerful giver.” But St. Paul also warns us: “Mark this: he who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly.” If we are selfish with the talents and treasures God has given us, clinging to them as if they are part of us, we leave no room for God and His grace in our lives. Let us learn God’s way of giving, and let us become “cheerful givers” in Christ. Today, I appeal to you to join me as God’s faithful stewards and to make a generous return to the Lord for all He has given you. Our Melkite Church needs your generous and continuous support; we have many needs, which are supported by your gifts to the annual Bishop’s Appeal. Please join me in meeting the present challenges our Eparchy faces: seeking and fostering vocations to the Priesthood and Diaconate, developing our religious education programs for youth and adults, publishing liturgical and educational books through Sophia Press and our education office, promoting spiritual renewal throughout our Church, caring for our aging and ailing clergy, providing continuing education for our clergy, and preparing our young people for future church leadership. All these require tremendous financial resources beyond your parish assessments. I am most grateful for the generosity of so many of you to last year’s appeal, and our gratitude is expressed in the honor roll of benefactors published in the current issue of SOPHIA magazine which, by the way, is also funded, in part, by your gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal. Thank God, last year, we saw an increase in the number of Melkites participating in the Appeal, and the second highest gift total in Appeal history. God willing, this trend will continue as we must have 100% of our Melkites taking responsibility for the financial support of their Church. In the days ahead, you will receive in the mail a personal letter from me asking you to make a sacrificial offering in thanksgiving to God to the annual Bishop’s Appeal. Whatever your particular financial situation may be, it is my firm conviction that we are only able to receive from God according to the measure in which we open our hearts and hands in generosity to Him. When you receive my letter, I ask you to reflect prayerfully and to “count your blessings” which the Lord has given you and your family. Then, decide what is a fitting return to Him. I am most grateful for this opportunity today to make my annual appeal for your generous financial support, and I have every confidence that you will respond to my call. May Christ the Good Shepherd, Who calls each of us by name, bless you and our Melkite Church with the bounty of His goodness. With my prayers and blessing, I am
Sincerely Yours in Christ our God, Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra Bishop of Newton
 
Widely used by Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christians since its publication in 1986, A Guide for the Domestic Church has been reissued in a full-color, updated version for another generation of Eastern Christian families. A kind of cookbook for Christian family life, A Guide for the Domestic Church is an easy-to-read presentation of the Eastern Churches’ vision for the Christian home along with specific directions for those wishing to incorporate Byzantine spirituality into their home lives through the Church year. This book contains step-by-step directions for family prayer, hints for keeping the fasts, setting up an icon corner, celebrating namedays and participating in the Church’s special moments of encounter with God (baptisms, marriages, funerals and memorial services). The second edition includes newly-available resources and recipes as well as links to online distributors and manufacturers of religious supplies. A Guide for the Domestic Church does a wonderful job of explaining both the whys and the hows of Eastern Christian family practice, telling you where to find icons, lamps, incense, and so forth, and what to do with them. A Guide for the Domestic Church Second Edition (116 pages, $15.00) is available by calling 877/484-1600 or online.

Table of Contents

Prefacev
Part One: Our Vision for Christian Living
What is an Eastern Church? 8
What Eastern Christians Believe11
Living in the Heavenly Realm14
Part Two: Daily Life in the Domestic Church
We are a Domestic Church18
The Icon Corner21
Prayer in the Domestic Church24
The Jesus Prayer28
Reading and Praying the Bible30
Giving Our Table to the Lord34
Almsgiving in the Christian Family38
Part Three: The Church and its Worship
Of Earthly and Heavenly Families42
Worship and the Domestic Church44
How to Keep the Lord's Day47
The Family and the Divine Liturgy50
Through the Year with the Domestic Church53
Celebrating Namedays77
Part Four: Special Moments of Encounter
Blessings: Moments of Encounter82
Entering the Spiritual Family85
The Image Restored88
Marriage: the Great Mystery90
Ministry in the Local Church94
To Sleep in the Lord97
Prayer for the Dead101
Foods at the Memorial Service103
Growing in the Christian Life107
Appendix
Resources for the Eastern Christian110
 
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For the first time, the Encounter conference is open to all the faithful of the Eastern Churches in the United States in Canada.
“This year's theme is Together in Christ: Spirituality of Discipleship — an invitation to seriously look at our baptismal commitment and explore how God is calling us to holiness by living the Gospel in our everyday life.”
This year's conference has three venues:
September 20-23Holiday Inn IndependenceIndepedence, Ohio
October 11-24St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church & CenterHillsborough, New Jersey
November 2-4Hacienda HotelEl Segundo, California
Bishop Nicholas will be speaking at each venue. Other speakers from the Melkite church include Father Damon (New Jersey), Father Justin (California), and Deacon Sabatino Roberto Carnazzo (Ohio and California) Please plan on attending to share fellowship with our brethren of the Armenian, Chaldean, Syro-Malankara, Syro-Malabar, Maronite, Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian, Syriac and Ukrainian Catholic churches! For more information, please visit the Encounter 2012 website.

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