Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 
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from.our.bishop


Eastern Catholicism in the Middle East
Fifty Year after Orientalium Ecclesiarum
Observation – Analysis – Evaluation
Turmoil, Divisions and Hopes For Unity in the Church of Antioch


Bishop Nicholas Samra, Eparchial Bishop of Newton
University of St. Michael’s College
In the University of Toronto
October 18, 2014

Introduction

My presentation on Eastern Catholicism in the Middle East fifty years after Vatican II’s document Oreintalium Ecclesiarum needs an introduction that begins long before Vatican II. It actually begins in the early Church centuries when the faith was being formulated in human languages, especially through the seven ecumenical councils as well as many other local councils. These early centuries witnessed great discussions as well as what have become known as many heresies.1

I speak mainly of the Church of Antioch, the major city of the Roman Empire in the East – in the area which was known as Greater Syria: present day Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, modern day Israel, and parts of Southern Turkey. It was the Patriarch of Antioch who had jurisdiction over this vast area. The designation of Jerusalem as a Patriarchate became more honorary to a very limited area.

Even though Greek was the major spoken language in the entire Roman Empire, local languages still existed, particularly in villages outside of populated cities. Aramaic and Syriac were predominant in the Christian villages and had a variety of dialects. Arabic was unknown in this area until the coming of Islam hundreds of years later and did not become the more commonly spoken language until the 17th century especially among Christians.

Without getting into dates and council declarations, very early on the Church of Antioch became very diverse. From its common core, numerous Churches developed. The main liturgical setting of the Church of Antioch was the Liturgy of St. James, however others developed. The East Syrian Church used the more ancient Anaphora of Addai and Mari, noted because it does not contain an announced institution narrative.

A large part of the Church of Antioch followed the Nestorian issues, although today we do not use that term as a designation. This Church of the East spread from what is modern day Iraq into the Persian Empire (Iran) and all the way east and south to China and India. At one point in history it was larger in numbers than the spread of the Roman Church in the West. A very evangelical Church, it almost went into extinction in many areas, but developed in others, particularly India.

The West Syrian Church developed into the Syriac Church, which through theological debates divided more. Parts of it followed the Nestorian heresy. After the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) the Syriac Church divided into Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian Churches. Those opposed to the Council dubbed those who accepted it “ the Melkites,” a word from Syriac (Malko) meaning the King or Emperor – or royalists since the emperor accepted the Chalcedonian doctrine that Jesus Christ was true God and true man. At that time “Melkite” was considered a derogatory term. The non-Chalcedonians had a different understanding in the unity of Christ – God and man. And I note that it was not until almost 1900 years later that it was recognized as a mainly semantic issue and not a theological misunderstanding.

Another part of the Chalcedonian Church, the Melkite, now divided again into what is known as Maronite and Melkite. The Maronites at first were not pure Chalcedonians. According to some historians (of course mainly non-Maronite) they were for a time Monothelites – another bad word today. But for the sake of starting a public controversy, I will not pursue the theological debate but just emphasize two more Churches, each distinct, were born.

The Church of Antioch spread into Asia Minor and gave its initial liturgical life to Constantinople – the seat of the empire, where it was more hellenized and stylized. John Chrysostom was Patriarch of Antioch before his election to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Byzantine Church developed, although much of the liturgical life of Palestine passed directly to Constantinople unaltered.

After the Muslim conquest in the 7th century and the Crusades which were initially meant to check its presence, more divisions developed. The Crusaders ousted the legitimate church leaders – Patriarch and bishops – in favor of Latin appointees. The Patriarch of Chalcedonian Antioch fled and took refuge in Constantinople where his Church was more hellenized. After several hundred years it lost its Syriac liturgical traditions to the more Hellenized traditions of Constantinople, sometimes called the Byzantine Church.

Jump ahead several hundred years and we see the Church of Rome, the Latins, sending missionaries to the Middle East beginning in the 1600’s. If it was considered to convert Muslims, it was not successful because Islam prohibited conversions to Christianity and protected itself with fear of death to any Muslim who even considered conversion. In actuality a tremendous proselytizing took place among the Orthodox faithful and new Churches were born of unions or communions with Rome – derogatorily called “uniates”, now Eastern Catholics. The Romans or Latins now opened their own churches and because of the financial support of the west, won converts to the Latin churches, a poor means of evangelizing.

To recap then in this long introduction, from the one Church of Antioch the following developed:

  • West Syrian:
    • Syriac Orthodox/Catholic
    • Maronite – all Catholic
    • Melkite Greek Catholic and Orthodox, known as Greek Orthodox in the East and Antiochian Orthodox in the West.
  • East Syrian:
    • Chaldean Catholic and Church of the East (the non-Catholic branch) which does not use the term Orthodox but rather Apostolic Catholic Church of the East.
    • Syro-Malabar Catholic and Orthodox in India – following the Chaldean tradition.
    • Syro-Malankara Church in India – Catholic and Orthodox following the west Syriac tradition.

Let me add to this unique Church of Antioch, now divided into different Churches, the Church of Armenia – a national Church, even older than the Church of the Empire. The Armenian tradition is a mixture of Syriac and Byzantine elements as it developed across Asia Minor. There are two Churches: Catholic and Orthodox, also called Apostolic Armenian.

So what developed were six Orthodox Churches and seven Catholic Churches all from the one Church of Antioch – not counting the proselytizing Latin churches.

I take another leap to the Ottoman Empire. In order to conquer and rule, the Ottomans who ruled in the Middle East, the Balkans and Greece 400 years, made each Church a “nation” or in Arabic a “Taifat,” in Turkish a “millet”. The patriarchs and bishops of each “nation” or community were civil heads over their individual churches. Ottomans interfered to collect head tax and when a Christian killed someone. All other issues were resolved by the Church heads. Christians were heavily taxed and even had to pay to have bishops and patriarchs recognized by the civil authorities. Thus many patriarchs and bishops were elected more for their civil know-how and not necessarily for their spirituality.

To save their own lives, many Christians learned the bad aspects of their rulers – cheating and lying in order to deal with the Ottomans. Many bishops, priests, patriarchs and laity died for their faith during Ottoman times. World War I – the Great War ended the Ottoman rule which had begun to crumble long before with the West’s involvement in the Middle East, yet Christians learned Turkish conniving and scheming.

Historical Evaluation of Divisions

This brings me to today and several issues or problems that I see were predominant. The Church of Antioch was greatly divided and very much competition took place. Jealousies abounded. Each particular Church developed strong individuality and each Church saw itself as the more legitimate heir of the See of Antioch. Three Catholic Patriarchs and two Orthodox Patriarchs claim the title of Patriarch of Antioch and all the East.

Competition and rivalries developed among the Churches, each group thinking itself more authentic than the others. With the existence of the Latin religious communities (Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, etc) each Church had to struggle to keep their own faithful because the Latins began to build churches and homes for the people – in a sense buying them to accept the Latin Church. In Jerusalem the Latin Church is still nicknamed the Church of the Bread Latins! because they became Latin for food and financial support.

Instead of all Christians working together for education and schools, each Church attempted to open their own schools in the cities as well as in small villages where several churches existed.

Enter the Protestant Churches who were financially supported by the West, particularly the United States. Again, money, homes, food, and support distracted Eastern Christians away from their proper roots and traditions.

Orthodox faithful were greatly disarmed and Eastern Catholics were born of divisions from their mother Churches and were greatly Latinized.

Insights to Vatican II Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum

In the Vatican II decree of which we are speaking, recognition of each particular Church was noted. It speaks of the “Rites of the Catholic Church” and not as the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, as if the Catholic Church was Latin. There is equal dignity among the Churches – none superior to the others – Latin included.2 But recognition of this fact would take years to develop, coming out of hundreds of years of oppression and a great loss of their faithful. The “unity of action and common endeavor to sustain common tasks; so as to safeguard more effectively the ordered way of life,” took many more years to expand and it is still not flourishing.3

Vatican II calls for the Eastern Catholic Churches to rule themselves. This is still delayed and impeded because of Roman interference. Here I mention one of the difficulties of Roman interference. When there is a head above the head – in other words the pope above the patriarch and synod, in the event a problem is not solved to the likings of the complainers, the “super head” is appealed to. We have a problem in Jordan where several priests did not agree with their proper Melkite bishop and were not satisfied with the Synod’s assessment. So they made an appeal, and Rome named a Latin Rite Auxiliary Bishop to the Melkite Archdiocese in Jordan with full power over the seated Archbishop.

The Vatican document calls the Churches “to preserve their legitimate liturgical rite and their established way of life.” This is still lacking due to excessive Latinization, theologically as well as liturgically. There is more to dressing up Eastern Catholics in Orthodox clothes and calling them legitimate to their proper traditions.

I cannot speak for all the Churches but I can speak for mine – the Greek Melkite. After Vatican II, our Synod returned in 1968 to the practice of communicating newly baptized and chrismated children, but you will still see First Communion ceremonies at age 7 throughout the Patriarchate. They may now call them “Solemn Communion” but let us not be fooled. Ask the laity what is celebrated! The identity has not totally been integrated. The U.S.A. Eparchy instituted this in 1970 with the coming of Archbishop Joseph Tawil and we took pains to reeducate our faithful in this matter. After Tawil the custom redeveloped in a few parishes with a few priests, and three years ago after I became Eparchial Bishop, I had to reissue this proper tradition via a Pastoral Letter,4 stronger than the first time around.

The feast of Corpus Christi, a distinct Latin feast was adopted by the Melkite Church soon after its communion with Rome in 1724. It was discussed at the Synod after Vatican II. The bishops concurred it was a Latinization but chose to keep it on the calendar – even as a 1st class feast with a pre-feast and after-feast. Their reasoning was still Latinized since the text was composed in a Byzantine fashion, but it boiled down to its social aspect in some eparchies, a religious procession enhanced with street fairs of food and dance and even carnival atmosphere.5

We still have issues with Rome’s involvement in the election of bishops within and outside of the traditional patriarchate which Rome seems to see as the lines of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1995 the Congregation for the Eastern Churches issued a document titled Instruction for the Application of the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.6 I will not get into all of the prescriptions but it is clear that pains should be taken to return to the legitimate customs of the Eastern Churches. This is one of the best documents from Rome on this subject. However, to date, the only one giving Communion to infants after baptism and chrismation is the Melkite Church. It appears as if the other Church synods haven’t even read the document, or if they have, just ignored it, refusing children to participate in the Lord’s Eucharistic table. And that’s just one of many prescriptions and traditions to reintroduce. I have repeatedly asked our Synod to discuss this document and to date nothing has happened. I comment no further.

The question of the date of Pascha still remains an issue. As you know Christians are laughed at and mocked by Islam because we generally have two Paschas. Islam considers this a scandal and sees our divisions, yet sometimes not seeing their own. Yet it remains a scandal that after so long we cannot agree on a date. The Vatican II decree states that the “patriarchs or supreme authorities of a place come to an agreement” but it adds “by unanimous consent and combined counsel of those affected to celebrate the feast of Easter on the same Sunday.”7

This has worked in Egypt and Jordan where all Churches celebrate Pascha with the Orthodox, but it was mainly the civil governments who got this to work. In the Holy Land, Melkites celebrate both dates according to the majority faithful although this may change in 2015 when hopefully all Catholic Christians will celebrate on the Orthodox Pascha date.

When Pope, now Saint John Paul II visited Syria after the year 2000, the common date of Pascha surfaced. There was an attempt for all Churches to be unified and celebrate with the Orthodox. Initially there was agreement, however the Armenian Catholics in Syria pulled back because their sister Orthodox Church had accepted to celebrate the western date internationally. Then the Syriac and Maronite Churches reneged because across the borders in Lebanon they would not be in line with their local churches there. The Melkite Patriarch remained committed but Rome recommended (or maybe imposed) that there should be unanimity among the Churches in one country. So we remain the laughing stock of Islam, crucifying and raising Christ twice.

Orientalium Ecclesiarum speaks about relations with the Orthodox Churches, and urges Eastern Catholics “to promote the unity of all Christians, especially Eastern Christians.”8 The means it offers are “Prayer… example of their lives, by religious fidelity to the ancient Eastern traditions, by a greater knowledge of each other, by collaboration and a brotherly regard for objects and feelings.”9

The document admits Orthodox to the Mysteries of Penance, Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick “if they ask of their own accord,” and if needed because of no Catholic priest, a Catholic may receive the same from an Orthodox priest – if the priest is so disposed to do so.10 At a recent ordination of a priest several weeks ago in Placentia, California, a visiting Syriac Orthodox priest approached the Eucharistic table along with my Melkite priests and deacons. The same happened at a Patriarchal Liturgy some years ago in Los Angeles when the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of the west coast approached the Eucharistic table to communicate from the Melkite Patriarch.

Ecumenical Observations

Two popes visited Syria and Lebanon in the past decades: Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Both called for a greater working relationship among the Churches – first among Catholics and also with Orthodox to give witness to the one Christian faith in prayer and practice. Both went beyond the Catholic communities to our Orthodox brothers and sisters in the faith – a communion that is tarnished but yet can be polished and relived in a united Church. All Eastern Catholics and Orthodox were urged to work together, use common facilities, have common mission and break down barriers of separation.

Here I note a great development in the past 10 years. In Aleppo, Syria and Damascus, Syria, the Melkite Catholics and Greek (Antiochian) Orthodox built common churches by a working relationship with Church officials. Both churches were consecrated jointly by Orthodox and Catholic patriarchs and times for Divine services were set. However, it is well known that Orthodox and Catholic faithful crisscross liturgies and receive communion.

This brings me to my last point in this presentation – ecumenism, called for by Vatican II in Orientalium Ecclesiarum and other documents as well.

In the past several decades the issues that I mention of diversity, competition and proselytizing have been greatly discussed and met head on through the formation and gatherings of the Patriarchs and Bishops. Conferences were formed and even Orthodox/Catholic meetings now take place among the hierarchs of all the Churches in the Middle East.11

Vatican II assisted the Eastern Catholic communities to a stronger working relationship for common issues such as religious education, social gatherings, conferences and service related programs particularly of charity. In education Catholic students study at the Orthodox Balamand University and Orthodox students at the Maronite University of Holy Spirit (Kaslik), Lebanon. A greater focus was placed on working together. This continues to escalate in the past few years especially with the internal strife within Islam, now overflowing severely to affect the Christian presence in the lands of its birth and growth. A new genocide is taking place.

Initially after the partial communions of some Orthodox Churches with Rome, there was great strife within each liturgical family. However the Catholic Churches slowly began to see that partial unions were not the most praiseworthy and a greater working relationship developed between the Orthodox and Catholics.

A great change took place within the Roman Church and it slowly filtered down into the Eastern Catholics. Papal concern began to grow particularly since St. John XXIII, Venerable Paul VI, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. Meetings went beyond just polite “hellos” and “nice words.” There has been a breakdown to understand how East and West were one and united for 1000 years. New studies developed. Divisions were recognized as more politically oriented than theologically motivated and new dialogues resumed.

I will speak specifically about my Church, the Greek Melkite Catholic and our goals for unity with the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, which is known in the West as the Antiochian Orthodox.

The Melkite Church took an important role in Vatican II as spelled out by Fr. John Erickson and Fr. Brian Daly SJ, earlier at this Conference. It acted as a synod of bishops in their preparations concerning all documents and as a united hierarchy at the Council under the leadership of Patriarch Maximos IV Sayegh.12 The preparation work, discourses and memoranda of the Patriarch and his hierarchs have now been published in English by Sophia Press of my Eparchy The Greek Melkite Church at the Council.13 I worked hours upon days to edit this great translation from French. Publication was this year in commemoration of Vatican II – 50 years later. Obtain from our website Melkite.org – books in Sophia Press, $30.00.

The “Zoghby Initiative”

In 1975 a prophetic voice arose in the Melkite Synod. Archbishop Elias Zoghby of Baalbek, Lebanon, was already known at Vatican II for his forward thinking about the Eastern Church’s concept of divorce and remarriage. He now proposed to his synod a project of double communion with Rome and Orthodoxy for his Melkite Church. It would allow the Greek Melkite Catholic Church to reunite with the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch while remaining in communion with Rome.

Initially the majority of synod fathers were not enthusiastic about the project. Rome too had objections. The Catholic and Orthodox synods formed a joint commission to study the project but the long disastrous Lebanese war hindered much progress.

In 1981, Zoghby published a small book: Tous Schimatiques published later in English as We Are All Schismatics.14 It was welcomed by ecumenists but frowned upon by Rome because it questioned the recognition of the infallibility of Vatican I. Zoghby quoted Pope Paul VI who qualified the Council of Lyons as the 6th of the General Synods of the West. Since Paul VI did so, Zoghby extended this thinking to Vatican I.

Twenty years passed and ecumenical ideas matured with Vatican II and the Popes St John XXIII, Venerable Paul VI and St. John Paul II. Zoghby renewed his project of double communion, now known as the “Zoghby Initiative” internationally. He wrote a short thirty one page booklet, Orthodox Uni? Qui! Uniate? Non! (United Orthodox? Yes! Uniate? No!)15

It contained a short profession of faith:

  1. I believe everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches.
  2. I am in communion with the Bishop of Rome in the limits recognized to the first among the bishops by the Holy Fathers of the East during the first millennium, before the separation.

An Orthodox theologian Metropolitan Archbishop George Khodr of Byblos and Batroun (Lebanon) was satisfied with this Profession of Faith. It was also accepted and ascribed to by another member of the Orthodox/Catholic Dialogue in Antioch, Archbishop Cyril Bustros of the Melkite Catholics.

Twenty five of twenty seven bishops at the Melkite Synod of 1995 signed the document which was done during coffee breaks after each bishop read it and not at a public session of the Synod. Patriarch Maximos V sent it to the Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV and was surprised with his enthusiastic response to proceed with study by his Synod. Then the Melkite Synod spent several days of its 1996 Synod to study more and it unanimously adopted the project and issued a document calling for an end to divisions of the two Churches.16

The Orthodox Synod reacted with a serious study and emphasized that Antiochian unity could not be separated from the restoration of communion with Rome and all of Orthodoxy.

I add a note here that one cannot deny that there was a double communion in Antioch in the 1600’s and 1700’s before the full communion with part of the Church of Antioch in 1724. Latin missionaries confessed and communicated Orthodox laity with the permission of their Orthodox hierarchs and even preached in the Orthodox Churches. Orthodox bishops entered into communion with Rome without being rejected by their confreres.

Ecumenists and many others saw the “Zoghby Initiative” as a door opener. Numerous articles appeared internationally.

In 1997 a letter to the Melkite Patriarch and Synod was presented by Joseph Cardinal Ratsinger, Achille Cardinal Silvestrini and Edward Cardinal Cassidy, representing the Pontifical Dicasteries of Doctrine of the Faith, Eastern Churches, and Council for Christian Unity respectively. Although many interpreted this letter as a rejection of the project, it gave in reality reflections to continue this dialogue “with caution.”17

Proof of this came on September 29, 1998 when Pope John Paul II met with the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and strongly encouraged them to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches. St. John Paul II asked them to seek with him the most suitable forms of Petrine ministry, engaging them and also Orthodox Patriarchs and theologians “in a patient and fraternal dialogue on the ways to exercise this ministry of united”. Basically he said and recognized that the Pope was the issue of disunity in sense – so let’s talk about how my ministry can be adapted and properly understood.18

Such an important dialogue has ups and downs – we see this also in the International Orthodox/Catholic Dialogue as well as its forerunner, the North American dialogue.

A damper arose once again over Antiochian Dialogue toward unity. But a new sign appeared just this year. The horrific war in Syria, the near extermination of Christianity in Iraq, the instability of all the countries of the Middle East, particularly in Egypt and Palestine, the severe rivalries among Sunni and Shiite Muslims, once again spilling over to Lebanon which had a majority of Christians until its disastrous war: all this now threatens the existence of Christianity and its faithful. These issues bring a new impetus for the need of walking together, working together and healing our age old problems and divisions.

The new Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, John X, met with Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III and asked to visit our Melkite Synod this past June. He also brought up: “we need to look at the Zoghby Initiative once again.” It was a great day on June 19, 2014 when Patriarch John X arrived to Ain Traz, Lebanon with three of his Metropolitans and secretary to meet and speak brotherly love with our Melkite Synod, and he spoke strongly for unity.19

Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III along with other Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch participated at a special conference on the Church of Antioch in July 2014 at Balamand University and Monastery. They were also welcomed to visit at the Greek Orthodox Synod days later.20

Another great ecumenist is the newly elected Moran Mor Ignatius Afram II, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. Now forty-eight years old, he served as Archbishop of the Eastern Diocese of his Church in the USA for eighteen years. He and I are members of CCT – Christian Churches Together, the largest ecumenical body in the USA.

Conclusion

Good days, bad days, ups and downs, rigidly and flexibility, enthusiasm and calmness – yet we are on a new road to unity within the ancient Church of Antioch which is now spread worldwide.

Orientalium Ecclesiarum of Vatican II is somewhat a weak document but it inaugurated a stronger belief for working Church relationships as well as the need of unity. Could we ask for more?

Thank you for your kind attention.

  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 
from.our.bishop

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

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
 
“Put out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch:” these words which Our Lord spoke to His apostles in today’s Gospel symbolize the mission He is to give them, namely to make them “fishers of men,” sending them out into the midst of the world to bring all people into the saving net of the Church. These words of our Lord are as relevant and necessary today, as they were in the time of Jesus. For our world is in great need of the saving message of the Gospel at this moment in history.
 
Our secular culture casts God aside with renewed vigor and seeks desperately after every kind of fleeting pleasure and self-indulgence; all the while forgetting the “one thing needful,” which is the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. In our own country, the very freedom of the Church to preach this Gospel of love, guaranteed by our Constitution, is under assault. In the Middle East, the violent persecution and systematic elimination of Christians from their ancient homelands shocks the conscience of the world. We receive, almost daily, reports of atrocities committed against innocent Christians in the very homelands of our Church, in a return to the barbarism of the 7th century where Christians are beheaded, crucified, and enslaved by a self-declared Islamic caliphate for no other reason than they believe the True Faith. Especially now, Christ our God speaks these bold words to His Church: “Put out into the deep and lower your nets.”
 
In such a troubled world and culture, in the face of such odds, we might well respond to the Lord’s command with the frustration and weariness of St. Peter in today’s Gospel: “Lord, we have been at this for so long and have caught nothing.” How long must Your Church labor in such a world? How can we preach the Gospel when it seems that everywhere we turn, the enemies of God are ready to attack?

But we, too, are called to the same faith and trust in the Lord, which St. Peter showed when he responded: “But Lord, if You say so, I will lower the net.” And when they had lowered their nets, as the Lord commanded, so great was the catch that their nets were filled to the breaking point. And, the Gospel tells us, “They were amazed!” Indeed, they were amazed at what could be accomplished when they put their trust in Christ and not in themselves.

Our Lord is teaching us an important lesson today. He did not simply make fish miraculously jump into their boat. Rather, Jesus required their effort; He required them to go out again and lower their nets, in order to show forth His Divine power. St. Peter’s personal sacrifice and willingness—reluctant perhaps—was the condition Jesus required to perform His miracle.

Truly, the Lord is calling His Church, you and me, to do the same today. To trust, not in our own power, but to rely upon the victory over evil and sin He has already accomplished for us upon the Cross. The Lord is calling us to unite our own personal sacrifice with His Divine power to “put out into the deep” of our stormy world. “Be not afraid” He tells Peter, and Peter left everything to follow Him. Such is the power of Christ’s call!
 
And so, my brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to bring the saving Gospel of Christ to the world in which you live. When all seems dark, when the Church’s efforts appear to be futile, it is precisely at this time that the saving truth and love of Christ is most needed. Especially at this time, we must let our light—the light of Christ—shine in the darkness.  

And so, I come to you in these troubled times to seek your generous financial assistance to bring the light of Christ to the people we serve. When we view the needs of our Church in America in light of those of our suffering brethren in the Middle East, we cannot but give thanks that the Lord has spared us the suffering they endure, and we cannot but be moved to support them in whatever way we are able. And so, again this year, we will tithe, or give ten percent of all the monies collected in the Bishop’s Appeal for the relief of our persecuted and suffering fellow Christians in the Middle East, as well as for charitable works in our own country. I am pleased to report that, from last year’s Bishop’s Appeal, our Melkite Eparchy in America has sent over $36,000 to His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III, bringing the total sent to the Middle East by our Eparchy for charitable and refugee assistance to $250,000! His Beatitude made special mention of his deep appreciation for this at the Synod of Bishops in Lebanon last June.

In addition, we are forming a Consolidated Melkite Charity Fund with a committee of several clergy and laity to oversee it: 60% of the charity funds will be distributed here in America to worthy causes, and 40% will be sent abroad to our Mother Church in need. This will also include Shepherd’s Care–your fasting savings during Great Lent.

And so, my beloved Melkite flock, your financial support is absolutely essential! Your gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal help us continue the work we have begun of revitalizing the adult religious education program of our Eparchy. I know many of you have already taken part in the new instructional programs offered around the Eparchy and on-line by our office of Educational Services. In addition, your gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal support the continued publication and distribution of SOPHIA magazine, which is an important means of unity in our Church, bringing to the homes of all our faithful enlightening articles and teachings about our Melkite faith and news from our parishes around the country. Your contributions to the Appeal also fund our deacon formation program and support our seminarians in their studies for the holy Priesthood. When there are needs in our struggling missions, your generous gifts provides for them, and they also support our elderly priests who have served our Church so faithfully for so many years.

When you receive my appeal letter at home, please do not delay. I ask you to be as generous as you possibly can in responding to the needs of our Church and our suffering brothers and sisters. Your sacrifice made with a loving heart is indeed a pleasing offering in the sight of God.

May our heavenly Father reward your generosity with His abundance. And may the Most Holy Theotokos, our “watchful Protectress and our unfailing Hope,” be close to all those who suffer for their faith in Christ, especially in the ancestral homelands of our Melkite Church. With my prayers and blessing, I remain

Your Father and Shepherd,

Your Father and Shepherd,
Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 
from.our.bishop

Beloved clergy, religious, and faithful of the Eparchy of Newton,

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

These joyful words announce the main proclamation of our Christian faith. These words form the heart of the Church’s preaching, worship, and spiritual life: “If Christ had not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

We celebrate the Passover of the Lord—the Christian Passover when Christ passes over from death to life, an event of victory and triumph. The early Church was so vividly aware of the eternal significance of Christ’s resurrection in God’s plan of salvation that this Feast became the greatest event of the Christian year—indeed, the Feast of Feasts! …And by His death He has trampled upon death—here trampling means Christ destroyed the power of death and to those in the tombs He granted life.

Great Lent was intense for some of us; Holy Week was even more so, but the three small words announcing the Resurrection—Christ is risen!—repeated again and again, produce ecstasy and overflowing mystical joy, for the ancient fear of death is banished. We need to make the next forty days more important by joyfully living and witnessing Christ in all our words and deeds. Great Lent was our time to reflect on renewing our Christian life received in holy Baptism; Pascha moves us from reflection to action: we must become the living Christ to all.

The resurrection of Jesus is not just the personal survival after death of Jesus. It is not a simple announcement of life after death; it is much more. It is a new era for all of us. As God has entered our history to defeat and overcome evil, the greatest witness to the Gospel is us—people whose lives have received new power and who recognize our gifts in His triumph.

We are filled with new power, new wisdom, new enthusiasm. We experience the living Christ in ourselves, and we recognize Him in each other. The Resurrection must make a great change in us—each and every one! We are the “good news” that Jesus is alive. Christ is risen—and me too!

St. Gregory the Theologian speaks loud and clear in his Paschal Oration:

Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us.
Let us become divine for His sake, since for us He became man.
He assumed the worse that He might give us the better.
He became poor that by His poverty we might become rich.
He came down that we might be lifted up.
He was tempted that we might conquer.
He was dishonored that He might glorify us.
He died that He might save us.
He ascended to lift us who had fallen.
Yesterday I died with Him; today, I am made alive!

My brothers and sisters, live your Paschal joy as children of God! May the joy of this Feast of Feasts fill you with overflowing life and joy, and may we be the icons of Christ to all.

With my prayers and blessings, I remain

Sincerely yours in the risen Christ,
Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 
from.our.bishop
The Nativity of Our Lord, God, and Savior
Jesus Christ, According to the Flesh
2013

Beloved clergy, religious, and faithful of the Eparchy of Newton,

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Throughout all of the liturgical hymns for the Offices of the Nativity of Christ and the Theophany—feasts of God’s manifestations to us—we hear again and again that the Son of God became man to reunite our humanity with His Divinity. In Great Compline we sing: Heaven and earth are united today, for Christ is born. Today God has come upon earth, and man has gone up to heaven. Today, for our sake He who by nature is invisible is seen in the flesh. We give glory and cry aloud to Him. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, which your coming has bestowed upon us, O Savior. Glory to You!

God makes a “breakthrough” in time and space by becoming a human being. He assumes our flesh so that we may share His divine life. God intervenes in our life…

    …a God who came not to call the righteous but the sinner;
    …a God who came to seek and save the lost;
    …a God who came not to be served but to serve;
    …a God who came to give us abundant life;
    …a God who came as light so that whoever believes in Him may not remain in darkness;
    …a God who came not to judge the world but to save it;
    …a God who is not impersonal but who is Emmanuel—God With Us;
    …a God who is a Person, Jesus-Savior;
    …a God who cares, who loves, who forgives.

As you meditate on this great mystery of God made flesh for us…

    …allow Jesus to outgrow swaddling clothes and wrap you in His love;
    …discover that you are part of the flock to whom the angels announce the good news;
    …rejoice knowing Christ’s tidings of great joy were for all people and that you are His messenger;
    …let His love and wisdom fill you to serve others as gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

God comes to us in Jesus wrapped, not in holiday paper, but in human flesh from His holy Mother, the Theotokos. He is one with us in the flesh. In the anaphora of the Divine Liturgy we chant: “He left nothing undone until He lifted us up to heaven and bestowed upon us the Kingdom to come.” Because He loves, God sends Jesus, not only to tell us, but also to show us, the height and the depth and the breadth and the length of His love. Only one thing is required: that is our acceptance of His love and our transformation into Godly people.

May the Christ our God, manifested in the flesh, bless each and every one of you in special ways during this glorious season. Be assured of my love, prayers, and blessings for each of you and for your families.

Sincerely in Christ God,
Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 
englishlogonodate

This year, Sunday, October 27, 2013

Priesthood Sunday is a special day set aside to honor Priesthood. It is a day to reflect upon and affirm the role of the Priesthood in the life of the Church as a central one. Traditionally scheduled for the fourth Sunday of October, this nationwide event is coordinated and sponsored by the USA Council of Serra International and endorsed by the Bishops of the various dioceses in the U.S.

What happens on Priesthood Sunday?

The deacons and lay faithful can develop their own special way of marking the day and honoring their parish priests both at Divine Liturgy and other parish events, such as coffee hour, social celebrations and Church School activities. Priesthood Sunday is designed to be an event led by the laity, but you may ask your parish priest to participate by talking about how he experienced and answered his own calling and about priests who have inspired him. Priesthood Sunday offers an opportunity for priests and their parishioners to build a stronger working relationship. Together, they can dialogue to take an honest look at the challenges of the future and how they can collaborate to meet those challenges as a united force.

What is the USA Council of Serra International?

The USA Council of Serra International is an organization of lay men and women of the Roman Catholic Church whose mission is to foster and affirm Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and vowed religious life in the USA. More than 10,000 Serrans in over 250 clubs nationwide collaborate with their bishops, parishes and vocation directors to fulfill this mission. Through this ministry, Serrans work to further their common Catholic faith. If interested, visit the USA Council at www.serraus.org Fostering and affirming vocations is everyone’s responsibility.

How are Melkites involved?

In 2012, our Vocation Office adopted this national event and notified pastors and lay leaders to plan events to honor their priests. Some participating parishes were highlighted in an issue of Sophia Journal.

The National Association of Melkite Women (NAMW), whose role is to raise funds in assisting our seminarians, is a Melkite Catholic organization of our Eparchy of Newton. This group works within our parishes around the country in encouraging events to build up the supplemental funding of the seminarian.

This year, we again contacted the pastors and requested the contact information for all lay leaders of their parish organizations. In turn, information was shared with those parish lay leaders of our Melkite parishes. Parish lay leaders were directed to go to www.PriesthoodSunday.org to gain ideas of what can be done in the parishes. Please check with your Parish Sunday Bulletin or your parish lay leaders for Priesthood Sunday events or plans that might be specific to your community. In addition to official parish activities, in which we recommend all to be involved initially, we also offer the following which can be done by individuals in honoring Melkite priests:

How can I also honor my priest(s) as an individual?

Additionally, you might find the following list of ideas helpful in honoring your priest(s):

  • Pray for your own priest and all priests serving in the Melkite Eparchy of Newton and elsewhere.
  • Light a candle for him in church periodically throughout the year
  • Pray for the Vocation programs of the Melkite Eparchy – and for more people to be open to a call to the priesthood and also the diaconate and religious life of monastics, male and female
  • Personally thank your priest on Priesthood Sunday, and any day thereafter throughout the year
  • Send a thank you note or letter to your priest
  • Demonstrate your appreciation in your own way for his ministry
  • Ask the Church School Teachers to invite their students to write or draw individual notes of appreciation for their priest
  • Send cards to priests of other Melkite parishes (your own parish/mission office can assist you with names & addresses)
  • Invite your priest for dinner with your family or friends throughout the year
  • Send a card or letter to a Melkite priest who used to serve at your parish (your own parish/mission office can assist you with names & addresses)
  • Send a card or letter to a retired Melkite priest (your parish/mission office can assist you with names & addresses)
  • Contact the Eparchial Vocation Director and ask how you, your talent and/or your business can assist his office
  • Ask your parish priest about the “I am the Vine, you are the branches” icon Vocations program
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite John Azar
Eparchy of Newton
Vocation Office
vocations@melkite.org
404-373-9522
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 
from.our.bishop

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

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

Having celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit and the completion of the manifestation of the Divine Trinity last Sunday on Pentecost, today the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints. This feast and its placement immediately after Pentecost is significant because the saints of the Church are those who make known the Holy Spirit in the world. Unlike the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has no Divine Person to reveal Him. While Christ our God makes the Father known: He who sees Me see the Father (John 14:9); and the Holy Spirit makes known the Son: the Spirit of Truth…He will bear witness to Me (John 15:27); it is the saints who, by their lives and actions, make the Holy Spirit known in the world.

We are all called to be saints: this is our divine vocation. In Baptism and Chrismation we were set on fire by the Divine Spirit and were sent to be apostles for Christ to our world! But has our fire for Christ grown cold? Is our precious gift of the fire of baptismal grace scarcely smoldering for lack of the fuel of prayer? Is it being suffocated by the corruption of the world and all its material temptations that threaten to snuff it out?

Let us fan the spark of this baptismal fire into the flame of zeal for Christ and His Church like the Apostles who, within a few short years, brought the saving truth of the Gospel to the ends of the earth! Traditionally, on the Monday following All Saints Sunday (27 May 2013), the Church begins a time of fasting and prayer to prepare us for the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on 29 June. Although the Melkite Synod has shortened the fasting period to ten days, beginning on 19 June, we may still observe the traditional fast beginning tomorrow. We are given this “Apostles Fast” in order to fan into flame the grace of the Holy Spirit within us and to reflect upon the hardships endured by the Apostles as they preached Divine grace and truth to the world.

This year, during the Apostles Fast, it is particularly appropriate that we remember our brothers and sisters who now suffer for their faith, in the lands of the Apostles, especially in Syria. I ask that during these coming days you consider fasting at least three days each week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) in solidarity with our suffering Christian brethren. In addition, I ask that you offer the money you save by fasting for relief of our brothers and sisters in dire need because of the war in Syria. These donations will be collected by your pastor on the weekend of 30 June and sent immediately to our finance office for transfer to the Patriarchate for Syrian relief. Even though you may have already given to this cause, please consider giving again as the suffering our fellow Christians endure continues to persist and increase.

May Christ God, through the intercession of the holy and glorious Apostles worthy of all praise, bless all those who suffer persecution for the sake of His name and bless you and your families abundantly.

With my prayers and blessing, I remain

Your father and shepherd,

Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 

Blazon: Party per pale Eparchy of Newton and Bishop Nicholas

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.

Bishop Nicholas of Newton: In a chief azure, a fortified city d’or with a portal gules on a mountain argent. In the base vert, a pale urdy of the first charged with a shepherd’s staff buff facing sinister, two palets urdy of the fourth. Overall, a bar of the third, the lower edge dancetty charged with three bezants.

Motto: “Steward of the Mysteries” – 1 Corinthians 4:1

Significance

An eparchial bishop is traditionally seen as being “married” to his eparchy and, as such, joins the arms of his diocese to his own. Thus, the right side of the shield (left side to the viewer) bears the arms of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Newton. The left hand side bears the personal arms borne by Bishop Nicholas.

We have previously explained the arms of the Eparchy. The personal arms of Bishop Nicholas reflect upon his own family, commitments, and history.

The golden citadel atop a white mountain is doubly significant. It is a reminder of the city of Aleppo, Syria, one of the most ancient cities on earth and the ancestral home of the Samra family. The name of the city comes from the Aramaic word for white and refers to the glistening marble hill upon which the city is built. The image of the city glistening on a hilltop is additionally found in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:14) and well reflects Bishop Nicholas’ love for the Melkite Church and his commitment to it as a shining example of vibrant Christian living.

In the base of the shield we find even further symbolism reflecting Bishop Nicholas’ origins and service. The green field is a reminder of New Jersey as the “Garden State” while the blue pale flanked by the undulating white “palets” is a reminder of the “great falls” of Paterson, the city of the bishop’s birth and early years. In the center of the “great falls” is seen a shepherd’s staff. At first glance, obviously symbolic of his pastoral commitment, the bishop’s family name was originally “Rai” meaning shepherd. At the same time, the buff color of the staff reflects the present family name “Samra” meaning “brunette.” Blue and buff, it should be noted, are also the state colors of New Jersey.

The red bar charged with three bezants reflects the bishop’s two patron saints – St. Nicholas of Myra and St. James the Brother of God and First Hierarch of Jerusalem. The bezants (Byzantine gold coins) are traditionally associated with St. Nicholas, while the color red and “dancetty” lower edge call to mind the death of St. James who, according to tradition, was martyred by being sawed to death. Additionally, Bishop Nicholas was ordained to both the presbyterate and episcopacy by our first eparchial bishop, Archbishop Joseph [Tawil] who had been himself, as titular Archbishop of Myra, a successor to Saint Nicholas

The form of shield used is one commonly found in the Byzantine Empire and is surrounded with the external ornaments denoting the hierarchical status of the bearer. Behind the shield is a “paterissa” or pastoral staff and a single traversed gold cross and denoting a bishop. The cross used is called “botonny” and is the form of the cross found on the dome of St. Ann Church, now in Woodland Park, New Jersey – the parish where Bishop Nicholas was both baptized and later served as pastor. The form of the paterissa calls to mind the brazen serpent raised up by the Prophet Moses in the desert. A crown and a red ermine lined robe of estate are the traditional heraldic symbols of hierarchical dignity in the Melkite Church.

Reflecting his commitment to evangelical stewardship. Bishop Nicholas chose as his episcopal motto from the Apostle Paul: “Steward of the Mysteries” (1 Corinthians 4:1).

Blason and designs by: Archpriest Lawrence G. Gosselin, USAF (Ret)
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 

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)
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  
 
from.our.bishop

Dear beloved Clergy and Laity,

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

These simple words of greeting which we use for the next forty days speak a celebration of life and an explosion of joy. When we first proclaim them at the Divine Liturgy and the liturgical offices of Pascha we are filled with a new joy, refreshed and renewed even though our bodies may be tired from the long week of the Lord’s passion. All you faithful come: let us adore the holy Resurrection of Christ; for behold, through the Cross, joy has come to the world.

Our simple Pascha greeting also has a tremendous meaning for us, for not only is Christ risen, but we are too! We die with Him in Baptism and live with Him in a new life. We die to our selfishness and sins in order to become more and more actual images of Christ as He raises us up from our fallen nature to make us beacons of His life and love. Let us glory in this feast and embrace one another. O brothers and sisters, let us all say: ‘Because of the Resurrection, we forgive all things to those who hate us.’

As new people we no longer fear death for as St. John Chrysostom says in his famous Resurrection homily: the death of our Savior has set us free…Christ is risen and life is freed.

No sooner do we hear these amazing words, take joy in them, and believe them, when we suddenly realize that this Paschal message has not reached millions of people throughout the world. I think of our fellow Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine where war and terror rage on. Surrounded by so much war and opposition, these people may be celebrating Pascha but not so radiantly as we would hope. The message of Christ–love unfailing–has not reached so many people. I can understand how these simple words: “He is truly risen” can seem to announce nothing or proclaim nothing.

Let us in a special way pray for our brothers and sisters under oppression, that God will strengthen their faith in this Paschal event. And let us pray also for the oppressors, “those who hate us,” that God will shine in their hearts a triumphal understanding that love and not hatred conquers all.

We have recently witnessed a great act of love for the Church as Pope Benedict XVI stepped down from his office because of age and frailty–he is truly a man who knows and loves Christ and recognizes his own humanity. And now we welcome His Holiness, Pope Francis, a continued sign of the vitality of the Church, and we rejoice at his enormous acceptance by the world. We offer our prayers for the Pope Emeritus and for our new Holy Father.

I offer to all of you my greetings and love on this glorious feast, and I remind you that you, too, are the witnesses of the Resurrection. As Jesus appeared after His resurrection to Mary Magdalene, to Peter and the other Apostles, to Thomas, and to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He continues to appear today in the hearts of each and every one of you, and He calls you to be the image of “Christ alive” in your surroundings.

He continues to show us the way. In our despair, He continues to be our hope; in our sinfulness, He continues to be our forgiveness; and in our death, He continues to be our life.

And you too, in His joyful image, be the same!

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

Sincerely yours in the living Christ,

Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton
  1. On this Introduction cf. Ignatios Dick, Melkites: Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem (Nicholas Samra, trans. and ed.), West Roxbury MA: Sophia Press 2004, Part 1, pp.13-54.  
  2. Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican _council/documents/vat-ii_decree1..., No. 3.  
  3. OE, No. 4.  
  4. Bishop Nicholas Samra, Pastoral Letter on Infant Communion and “First Communion” Ceremonies also called “Solemn Communion” or “Eucharistic Awareness, Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 42, No. 2, (Spring 2012), pp. 6-7.  
  5. Ignatios Dick, Melkites Op.Cit., p. 151.  
  6. Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1995.  
  7. OE, Op.Cit., No. 20.  
  8. OE, Ibid., No. 24.  
  9. OE, Ibid., # 24.  
  10. OE., Ibid., No. 27.  
  11. Elias Zoghby, (Nicholas Samra, trans.), “Triumph of Uniatism: The Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 93-95.  
  12. On Maximos IV Sayegh, cf. Gerasimos T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II, A Quest for Autonomy, West Newton MA: Sophia Press 2011; cf. also Thomas E. Bird, Patriarch Maximos IV Saygh, (Men Who Make the Council Series, M. Novak ed.) Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1964; cf. also George D. Gallaro, The Greek Melkite Church at the Council – The Melkites’ Day at the Second Vatican Council, unplublished English manuscript, Arabic translation publish in al-Masarat, Harissa Lebanon: Paulist Press.  
  13. Sophia Press, West Roxbury MA 2014.  
  14. Philip Khairallah (trans.), We Are All Schismatics, Educational Services Office of Eparchy of Newton, 1996.  
  15. Elias Zoghby, Jounieh Lebanon: Paulist Press 1995; English translation in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), Fairfax VA, pp. 11-14.  
  16. Bishop Nicholas Samra (trans.), Press Release and Synodal Text in Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1996), Fairfax VA, pp. 5-12.  
  17. French Original with Bishop Nicholas Samra.  
  18. Cf. “We extend our arms in brotherhood – Holy Father encourages Catholic Patriarchs to help restore full unity with Orthodox Churches,” L’Osservatore Romano, No. 40, 7 October 1998, Weekly Edition 7.  
  19. “Orthodox Patriarch John X Visits Melkite Synod,” Sophia – Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Fall 2014), p. 11.  
  20. “Patriarch Gregorios Addresses Antiochian Unity Conference in Lebanon,” Sophia, Ibid., p. 12.  

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