Movie: The life of Beshara Abou

May 19, 1853
Death: Feb. 22, 1930

The Servant Of God, Melkite Priest, Monk Béchara Abou Mrad BSO., was born Selim Jabbour Abou-Mourad at Zahleh in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, probably on May 19, 1853, and entered St. Savior’s Monastery on September 5, 1874. Receiving the habit, he entered the novitiate of the Salvatorian Basilian Order on September 19. Béchara (Good News) became his religious name.

Taking his vows on November 4, 1876, he was ordained deacon in the chapel of Holy Savior Seminary by Msgr. Basilios Hajjar, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bosra, Hauran and Syria, and Visitor Apostolic for the Order, on March 26, 1882.

Monk Béchara was ordained to the priesthood in the Church of Holy Savior Monastery by the named Msgr. Hajjar on December 26, 1883.

Director of Discipline and then confessor and spiritual director in the seminary of the Salvatorian Fathers for 31 years, between November 8, 1891, and December 4, 1922, he served as itinerant missionary in the district of Deir-el-Qammar, Mount Lebanon.

Successively he served as a tireless parish priest and confessor at Sidon Cathedral in South Lebanon from December 4, 1922 till February 1, 1927, when he returned to the Basilian Motherhouse, the Holy Savior Monastery, near Sidon, where he passed peacefully away on February 22, 1930 at 6.30 am. Funeral service and burial were celebrated at the Holy Savior Church.

On Saturday, December 11, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree, naming among others Monk Béchara as venerable.

Burial:
Holy Saviour Church, Sidon
Sidon
Al-Janub, Lebanon

 

 

 

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Catholic Armenia

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                                   Armenian Catholic Liturgy                                                                                .

The Armenian Rite is one of the more ancient liturgies of the Catholic Church. it has its origins from the ancient Syriac and Cappadocian Liturgical rites which are considered to be the father churches of the Armenian church.

Armenia was said to have been first evangelized by the Apostles Bartholomew and Jude Thaddeus who converted a few Armenians during the first century and established a small and persecuted Armenian church within an overwhelmingly pagan nation in Lesser Armenia which was comprised of Edessa. The apostles managed to convert king Abgar of Edessa who died a couple of years after his baptism and had his realm restored to paganism by his pagan son Ananias. Both apostles were later martyred for the faith in the vicinity of Armenia.

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The next chapter for the church in Armenia began with a son of a nobleman whose father was killed for being seen as a political enemy by the king and was taken by his caretakers to Cappadocia in the roman empire to be brought up as a devout Catholic by the priest Phirmilianos  who educated him in the Catholic faith. Legend has it that he ventured off to evangelize his homeland but was immediately imprisoned by the king for 12 years in a pit where he remained until king Tiridates went insane after suffering a major loss in a war with the roman empire. Gregory was released from his imprisonment in 297 and was brought forth to cure the king’s ailment, which he did accomplish immediately after baptizing Tiridates III. The King then made the Catholic faith the state religion and from then on Armenia became known as the first Catholic nation with Georgia and Ethiopia following suit.

 

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St. Mesrob creating Armenian alphabet. 

After the conversion of the state, Armenia became a nominally Catholic nation with the liturgical language of the church being Syriac and Greek. It would not be until 405 AD when St Mesrob, an ordained priest-monk(vardapet), created a writing system for the Armenian language when the mass was finally translated to the vernacular. Afterwards, the last vestiges of paganism were wiped out of the kingdom and the church produced many saints such as St. Sahag.

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Bishop Michael with Fr. Anthony before the Liturgy on Theophany.

 

 

 

 

Brace Yourselves! Great Lent is Coming!

In the Ruthenian Church, we begin our lead-up to Lent on the Sunday of Zacchaeus, which is 4 weeks before the beginning of the Great Fast. I always found it very interesting how the Church Fathers decided to prepare for Lent. Lent doesn’t just “happen.” We aren’t celebrating on Sunday as if it’s just another day and then *poof* time for Clean Monday and strict fasting. The transition to Great Lent is rather smooth, and a lot smoother than our Roman bretheren’s transition. When I refer to Rome, I, of course, am referring to the TRUE Roman Liturgy, which is the Traditional Latin Mass, which has its most current form in the Missal of 1962. According to their use, they have the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday, but it really isn’t much of a transition as much as a heads up.

This isn’t said to bash those on the Western side of our Holy Church, but rather for us to have a deeper appreciation for our rich liturgical tradition. So let’s dive into the PreLenten Season!

Sunday of Zacchaeus

The Sunday of Zacchaeus is what we consider to be the kickoff of the Pre-Lent season. Interestingly enough, not a lot changes. We don’t begin using the Triodion, the liturgical book for Lent, yet. The Sunday of Zacchaeus is just an ordinary Sunday after Pentecost. The resurrectional tones for the Troparia and Kontankia are used. From an outside perspective, the only difference is that the Sunday, instead of being named XXth Sunday after Pentecost, is called the Sunday of Zacchaeus, and we simply have a Gospel reading about him in the Sycamore tree. So, why is this day important? The theme we are to take away from this Sunday is that we should go out of our way to seek God. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, and because of his efforts, was able to repent.

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

On this Sunday, while we are still in the Sundays after Pentecost, the Triodion begins to be used. While the resurrectional troparion is still used, the Kontankion is taken from the Triodion. We have the theme this Sunday of pride and humility. The prideful pharisee had done everything right according to the law, and had no need for God. The god the pharisee was praying to was his own ego. Whereas the publican, after living a horrendously sinful life, beats his breast in compunction crying aloud “O God be merciful to me a sinner!” Sound familiar? That prayer is something we say on a daily basis. Because of his humility, he carried away the absolution of sins! So, now we have a continuation from last Sunday. First, we must go out of our way to seek God. Then, we must humble ourselves before him.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

The transition continues because this Sunday kicks off Meat-fare week. It is the end of the Sundays after Pentecost. After we walk out of church on this Sunday, we know that we only have one week left to eat hamburgers, pork-chops, bacon, etc. before Pascha. We can see the beginning of the starting line. The theme of the Prodigal Son is repentance. We turn back and run to the Father. Yet, at the same time, we are also called to be merciful like the Father. So after going out of our way to seek God, and after we humble ourselves before him, we then must repent to the Father of all our sins.

Meatfare Sunday

Enjoy your last steaks! On Meatfare Sunday, we give up meat until Pascha. That is a transition in itself! And the theme of this Sunday? Well, the past three Sundays, we see that we need to go out of our way to seek God, humble ourselves before him, and repent of our sins. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we see that if we do this, we will be judged to be in God’s good graces! That’s right! It’s judgement Sunday! We also see what awaits us if we do not follow the instructions given by the last Sundays. If we do not seek God, if we remain prideful, if we do not repent of our sins, we get to glance into the windows of what awaits us in the future – damnation. My parish priest actually expressed to me that this is the one Sunday where he is supposed to be fire and brimstone in his preaching with no holds barred. Salvation is serious business!

Cheesefare Sunday

As the name suggests, this is the last day to eat cheese and dairy products (including eggs) until Pascha. The theme of this Sunday? Forgiveness! It is Forgiveness Sunday! After being admonished to seek God, humble ourselves, and repent, and after being shown what awaits us in the future, we learn that the first step to the remission of our sins is us forgiving everyone else. By forgiving one another, we enable our hearts and souls to journey into the 40 days with full vigor and to receive the blessings of God.

In Conclusion…

We see a smooth transition, in the liturgical cycles, in our fasting disciplines, and in our mindset and journey towards the Great Fast. I liken the PreLent season to the Daytona 500 (which ironically, occurs on Cheesefare Sunday this year). In NASCAR, the race begins with the cars taking 3 warm-up laps around the track at about 50 or 60 mph. Then after the 3rd lap, once they hit the start line, the throttles open and they go full speed.

PreLent is sort of like the three laps of NASCAR. We begin warming our engines up to be able to endure a long, harsh fast. We don’t warm up by walking slowly, but by going at a fast pace. 5omph is not a slow speed, using normal cars as a standard. 50mph is considered highway speed. Fasting from meat and dairy for a day is like going around the track at 50mph. While we may struggle fasting every Wednesday and Friday, it’s manageable. However, going 56 days without meat and 49 days without dairy is not an easy feat. We need to warm up to that. And once we are warm, we can hit Clean Monday, opening full throttle to run the race of Great Lent.

Apologetics 1.9: EARLY CHURCH PAPACY

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“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Said our beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the Apostle Peter. It was from this very moment that Christ established not only his church, but the authoritative voice of his church. In modern times, there is this misconception of papal authority being an intrusive theology and practice to the Christian faith, this is no modern phenomenon. Starting from the creation of the church we’ve seen the authority of Saint Peter.

Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles as seen in all four gospels. It is Peter’s faith that guided his brothers (Luke 22:32) and Peter was given Christ’s flock to rule (John 21:16). He elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). It was to Peter that received revelation that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11).

Now we move into the post apostolic era of the church. It is standard fare in the theology of Protestants and Eastern Orthodox to assert that the doctrine of the primacy of the See of Rome was an invention of the Middle Ages. The false claim of this assertion is the belief that, in the patristic era, the bishops patriarchal sees all interacted as equals with no concept of a papal primacy until the early medieval era, or during the 7-9th centuries. Many are even Unaware of the Rock Solid Proof of papal authority not only in scriptures but also in church history, papal infallibility and supremacy being acted out on in early church, and the acknowledgement of the divine authority the office holds.

In the post apostolic era we see the Pope forcing Dionysius of Alexandria to explain his Trinitarian teachings, forced the patriarch of Antioch to not support Novationism, as Pope Clement did to force Corinth to reinstate its priests and bishops. It was the pope who overruled the Second Council of Ephesus and the Arian council of Rimini, even when a majority of bishops supported these heresies and much more.

Alluding to councils let’s say all bishops were equal, and orthodoxy was dependent on a “synodical democracy” that would mean the councils of: Antioch in 341, where about 100 Eastern bishops approved of straight Arianism, Sirmium in 351, where another 100 or so Eastern bishops espoused semi-Arianism, the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449-450 which declared Monophysitism to be orthodox doctrine, the numerous “councils” in Constantinople which included the patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, which declared Monophysitism to be orthodox) and the councils of Constantinople of 638 and 639 which approved of the Ecthesis, embracing Monothelitism. All these Councils would have been defined historically as “Ecumenical,” if it were not for Rome’s refusal to cooperate with them.

Which also leads what makes a council ecumenical, this also plays into the part of Papal infallibility. After each councils, the sessions would be recorded and the canons and decrees listed then, the bishops would sign it and then the Emperor proceeding. Subsequently, if the council maintained Orthodoxy then he’d accept it and elevated it to ecumenical status. In the words of St. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (758-828) :


“Without whom (the Romans presiding in the seventh Council) a doctrine
brought forward in the Church could not, even though confirmed by
canonical decrees and by ecclesiastical usage
, ever obtain full approval
or currency. For it is they (the Popes of Rome) who have had assigned
to them the rule in sacred things, and who have received into their
hands the dignity of Headship among the Apostles.” (Nicephorus,
Niceph. Cpl. pro. s. imag. c 25 [Mai N. Bibl. pp. ii. 30]).

Interesting isn’t it? Countless church fathers and councils understood the authority of the pope having not only jurisdictional authority when abuses were being committed but also in deciding orthodoxy using his papal infallibility.

In the council of Chalcedon, the bishops gathered begged the Pope to accept their decrees as the head, and that they needed to be in agreement with him:

Knowing that every success of the children rebounds to the parents, we therefore beg you to honor our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded agreement to the Head in noble things, so may the Head also fulfill what is fitting for the children. — Chalcedon to Pope Leo, Ep 98

Then came the concern of canon 28 and even with the ratification of the 28th canon it was never accepted by the Pope. Pope Leo refused to aceept this canon and putting a “line of veto,” ordered it off from the Council documents. In this, Bishop Anatolius of Constantinople writes to Pope Leo, apologizing and explaining how the canon came to be, saying …

As for those things which the universal Council of Chalcedon recently ordained in favor of the church of Constantinople, let Your Holiness be sure that there was no fault in me, who from my youth have always loved peace and quiet, keeping myself in humility. It was the most reverend clergy of the church of Constantinople who were eager about it, and they were equally supported by the most reverend priests of those parts, who agreed about it.

Even so, the whole force of confirmation of the acts was reserved for the authority of Your Blessedness. Therefore, let Your Holiness know for certain that I did nothing to further the matter, knowing always that I held myself bound to avoid the lusts of pride and covetousness. — Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople to Pope Leo, Ep 132 (on the subject of canon 28 of Chalcedon).

So, the matter was settled and, for the next 6 centuries all Eastern churches speak of only 27 canons of Chalcedon the 28th Canon being rendered null and void by Rome’s “line item veto.” This is supported by all the Greek historians, such as Theodore the Lector, John Skolastikas, Dionysius, etc.

 St. Theodore the Studite of Constantinople (759-826) says, writing to Pope
Leo III:


Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd
after entrusting him with the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or
his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church
be referred.”
 (Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23)


…and ….


“Let him (Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople) assemble a synod of
those with whom he has been at variance, if it is impossible that
representatives of the other patriarchs should be present, a thing which
might certainly be if the Emperor should wish the Western Patriarch (the
Roman Pope) to be present, to whom is given authority over an
ecumenical synod
; but let him make peace and union by sending his
synodical letters to the prelate of the First See.” (Theodore the Studite,
Patr. Graec. 99, 1420)

Also, during Photius’ own time, his Byzantine contempory St. Methodius, the brother of
St. Cyril and Apostle to the Slavs (865), clearly testifies to the belief that the authority
of an Ecumenical Council depends on the authority of Rome:
“Because of his primacy, the Pontiff of Rome is not required to attend an
Ecumenical Council; but without his participation, manifested by
sending some subordinates, every Ecumenical Council is as nonexistent,
for it is he who presides over the Council.
” (Methodius, in N.
Brianchaninov, The Russian Church (1931), 46; cited by Butler, Church
and Infallibility, 210) (Upon This Rock (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999), p.
177).

It is clearly Rome’s teaching authority the very thing “Saint” Photius denied so as to foster Byzantine primacy through an untraditional bid to make the Patriarch of Constantinople “Ecumenical Patriarch” But, getting back to my point, the Orthodox have bought into a non-Ecclesial, very imperial notion of what determines orthodoxy via magisterium. Their idea that “all bishops are equal” is really rooted in the Imperial idea of polling bishops so as to see what is taught everywhere.

However, while this is sometimes a useful tool it is no replacement for a magisterium. The very non-representational Greek Democracy in other words, it doesn’t work. If it did, we would not have had all those illicit “ecumenical councils” I referred to above. And in this, we see a simple rule for defining orthodoxy:

With Rome = Legitimate Ecumenical Council

Without Rome = Illicit, Heretical Council.

Blog Repost: Dintinguishing the differences between Heresy, Schismatic, and a Parasynagogue

In a letter to his spiritual child Amphilochios of Iconium written c. 373 A.D, St. Basil the Great distinguishes three ways in which there can take place a separation of a baptised person from the communion of the Catholic Church. These three ways affecting Christian unity were said to be heresy, schism and parasynagogue, depending on whether a disagreement fell on actual faith in God, on church discipline or on ecclesiastical rulings.

(1) Heresy. From the writings of St.Basil we find that from antiquity heretics were considered to be people

“who were altogether broken off [παντελώς απερρηγμένους] and alienated [απηλλοτριωμένους] in matters relating to faith.”
Heresy is a disagreement (διαφορά), a discrepancy on vital issues of faith and culminates in the negation of the unity of God and the Church. As causes of separation (χωρισμός; αλλοτρίωσις) St. Basil mentions pride and arrogance (μεγαλοφροσύνη) originating in the human faculty of free choice (προαίρεσις).

Because it was an act of deliberate choice, heresy was not tolerated in the church. Its authors were cautioned first; then if they refused to obey, they were excommunicated from the church.

(2) Schism. The Fathers of the Church defined schism (σχίσμα) as a disagreement (διαφορά) among church members concerning ecclesiastical questions capable of mutual solution. Often (but not always) these disagreements were not of such a serious nature as to warrant a lasting feud among members of church communities.

(3) Parasynagogue. “Rival” or “counter-assemblies” were called “gatherings set up by insubordinate priests or bishops and by uninstructed people”. On this St. Basil says:

“If someone (deacon, priest or bishop) has been found in error (πταίσματι: ‘fault,’ ‘sin’)and has been asked to cease from liturgical functions but has not submitted to the canons of the Church but instead has granted to himself priestly functions and some persons abandon the Church and join him, this is parasynagogue”.

In describing the impropriety of those who originate rival assemblies St. Basil uses the term ανυπότακτος, the opposite of ευταξία, the good order and discipline of the church. Each parasynagogue or constitution of a rival assembly implies the breach of ecclesiastical unity resulting in exclusion from the Eucharistic Communion of the Church. (i.e One cuts themselves off from the communion of the Church).

Canon 5 of the Council of Nicaea (324A.D) speaks of breaches of church unity caused by unruly clergy. According to the canon the end result for the unruly clergy is ακοινώνητος γίνομαι, “to become excommunicated”. The cleric becomes excommunicated, not necessarily in the juridical term, but in the sense that unless he repents he can no longer receive Holy Communion in the Church in which alone abides the Holy Spirit.

 

Chaldean Fast: Feast of Nineveh

Fast of Nineveh (‫ܒܥܘܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܝ̈ܐ‬‎ – Bā’ūṯā d-Nīnwāyē) also called Petition of the Ninevites, Fast of Jonah, etc. is a three-day fast that commemorates the three days Prophet Jonah spent inside the fish (stories and prayers will be in the next posts) and the repentance of the Ninevites at the hands of prophet Jonah according to the Holy Bible. This fast is held by Chaldean Catholics, and Oriental Orthodox. Patriarchs of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Other Churches also called for extra fasts in an effort to alleviate the suffering and affliction of those persecuted by ISIS in the region of Nineveh and the rest of the Middle East. The faithful traditionally refrain from food and drink from early Morning to 12pm and refrain from meat and diary products for three consecutive days, from Monday till Wednesday (to make it more clear, we Fast from early morning to 12pm eating and drinking nothing and then after 12pm we can eat and drink anything except for meat and diary products). For 3 days, people go to church at morning 10 am for prayers and mass at 11:30 am and end the refrain from food and drinks by receiving the Holy Eucharist at 12 pm. Would be great if you would like to join us and fast! Let me know in the comments! Let us pray together for God to have mercy on us and save us just like He saved the Ninevites!

ܒܵܥܘܼܬܼܵܐ ܡܒ݂ܘܼܵܪܚܿܬܵܐ! ♱

(Blessed Bautha) (Bautha is the name of the Fast, which means Petitions of people)

ܡܵܪܸܢ ܐܲܬܼܪܵܚܡܲܥܠܲܝܼܢ ♱ ܡܵܪܢ ܩܲܒܸܠ ܒܵܥܘܼܬܼܲܢ ♱

(Lord have Mercy on us ♱ Lord accept our petitions ♱)

The Feast of St. Stephen in the Chaldean Church

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” -St Stephen

ܡܵܪܝ ܐ̄ܣܛܲܦܵܢܘܿܣ (Mar Istapanos- St Stephen)

Today, the Chaldean Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of St Stephen

St Stephen, the first Martyr and First Deacon, pray for us!

Today was a great day! All Deacons attended mass and our parish considers us altar servers deacons as well, because not only we serve the altar but also do things that deacons do. We held a great celebration and some other things we did other than serving the altar is chanted with the deacons and instead of the priest reading the Bible the deacons read the Bible during mass in many different languages including Classical Aramaic, Modern Aramaic, French, German, Kurdish, Arabic and many more languages, representing Evangelization! After mass we had breakfast with deacons. It was a great morning! ___________________________

“Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

-Acts 7:54-60

Happy Feast Day!