The Maronites: who are they and what is their origin?

                               lebanese-holy-saints

(Image of the three 3 Lebanese Maronite Holy Saints: St. Rafqa, St. Charbel, St. Al Hardini. The bottom man is Lebanese Maronite Beatified and soon to be Saint, Blessed Estephan Nehme)

The Maronites are essentially Eastern Rite Catholics, whom since their origin have professed the One True Apostolic Catholic Faith of Pope St. Peter the Prince of the Apostles, have celebrated the same Sacred Mysteries and retained the same Holy Sacraments as the universal Catholic Church, the One True Church of Jesus, all the while maintaining diversity through their own distinct Code of Canon Law and Divine Liturgy. The one true thrice-fold goal of all Maronite Clergy and Laity is the Love of The Lord, the salvation of souls and loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff who gives their diversity meaning and canonical status.

The origin of the Maronites was in the fertile crescent, which is an area modernly comprised of Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, which all spoke the common language of Aramaic, receiving it’s sacredness for being one of the primary languages Our Divine Master Jesus spoke while at the last supper and with the Holy Apostles. Because of this, the Maronites chant hymns in Aramaic, learn this language thoroughly in seminaries and sing the opening prayers, the most Sacred Consecration and the Our Father of the Divine Liturgy all in Aramaic.

A certain Holy Saint by the name of St. Maroun or Maron, who was born in around 350 AD in a town near Antioch named Cyrrhus, and after having grown into a young man, left to live a hermitic and penitential life of asceticism on a hill. It was recorded that this hill was home to thousands of pagan worshipers, to which St. Maron responded with prayer and penance which saw thousands of pagans convert to the True Holy Mother Church and Her invisible head: Jesus our Beloved. St. Maron attracted many followers through His acts of extreme charity, Miraculous physical and spiritual healings, Piety and Holiness, which attracted both laity and desert monks, to the extent where the revered and Pious St. John Chrysostom while in exile wrote a letter to St. Maroun, reading: “[Dear Maroun], we are bound to you by love and interior disposition, and see you here before us as if you were actually present. For such are the eyes of love; their vision is neither interrupted by distance nor dimmed by time… we address ourselves to your honour and assure you that we hold you constantly in our minds and carry you about in our souls wherever we may be… please pray for us.”

After St. Maron faithfully departed in 410 AD, many of the faithful Laity and Clergy that were followers inspired by St. Maron’s remarkable example of Sainthood, built numerous monasteries in His name, including one of the largest monasteries by the name of “Beit Maron” or “house of Maron.” One of the primary characteristics of Beit Maron and the Holy Maronites was their fervency for defending the fullness of truth and their loyalty to the princely throne of Our Holy Father St. Peter, to the extent where they upheld every Catholic Doctrine even under the pain of death, and because of this, came about the persecutions of the Maronites in 517 AD which saw 350 Maronite monks martyred for their loyalty to the Council of Chalcedon (451) which declared Jesus as “True Man and True God.” Even to this day, on the Holy Feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul, we pray during the Divine Liturgy; “O Lord, preserve your children from all error or deviation, grant us to live and die proclaiming: ‘Our Faith is the faith of Peter, the faith of Peter is our faith!’” This is arguably not only because of Our Lord’s words in the Holy Gospel deeming St. Peter as rock, but also because St. Peter fled to Antioch during the persecutions in Jerusalem and passed on the Faith to Antioch who were the first people to call the Holy Apostles Christians (Acts 11:26) and the Maronites are direct descendants of these people.

In the 7th century, the Maronites selected their first patriarch, another Holy man named St. John Maroun, who was approved by Holy Father Pope Sergius I which highlights the everlasting Maronite communion with Holy Rome, however years later another wave of persecutions hit the Maronites killing 500 and causing the Maronites from the fertile crescent and Israel to recede into the Lebanese Mountains, in which they flourished until about the 13th century. In the 13th Century during the crusades, Beit Maron was destroyed completely and Patriarch Daniel ELhadsheeti was martyred along with many of the northern villages of Lebanon being destroyed (the village of I, the author, being one of the many destroyed). In 1367, Patriarch Gabriel Hejola was burned alive at the stake, and the many persecutions that followed caused the Maronites to move temporarily to cyprus and the Patriarchate also moved to Wadi Qonnoubine.

Later in the 19th century, the ottoman empire took control and during their rule managed to completely destroy many villages, Holy Churches and martyred many Maronites, among whom were the Blessed Massabki Brothers, Francis, Abed and Raphael who were beatified by Holy Father Pope Pius XI. This then catalysed several waves of migration to the Americas and Australia, which has now made the Maronites internationally situated but nevertheless many remain in the original Lebanese mountains. Many of us, including I who am in Australia, uphold Maronite Catholic tradition to this day which is Sacred and represents the very birth of the Bride of Jesus in the middle east, by speaking the native tongue of Our Lord and remaining forever faithful to the Holy Father.

How can we be inspired by the Maronites of Holy Mother Church? the Faith of the Maronite people which is like an inextinguishable fire, reveals to us that Our Holy Lord and His Immaculate Mother Mary, the “OuhmAllah” or “Mother of God” call people of all nations and cultures to enter into a union with the Celestial Courts of Heaven and thus realise, through Humility which means to know yourself, that we are an abyss of Misery that can do nothing on our own but we find greatest fulfilment in union with the Life giving spirit of Jesus. The Martyrdom of the Maronites who remained faithful to the infallible teaching of the Living Magisterium and the Holy Father that Jesus is True Man and True God, through the hypostatic union of both His two natures, teaches us that the greatest act of Love is the baptism of Fire; to lay down one’s life for his Friends, or in other words, to give up oneself sacrificially and in toil for Holy Mother Church, all Her teachings, Her visible head the Supreme Pontiff, and of course, Our Best Friends Jesus and Mother Mary (St. John 15:13).

Most Rev. John Adel Elya, former eparch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Newton, hammers false ecumenism.

IMG_5903.JPG

As a Melkite Greek Catholic, it’s not uncommon to witness many traits of false ecumenism within our church. You may have come across many Melkites in whom are very pro – Eastern Orthodox to the point that they begin to reject Catholic doctrine and dogma: something in which is absolutely grave matter considering that Catholics are bound to accept everything the Church teaches.

The rejection of Catholic doctrine and dogma comes from false ecumenism in order to please those outside the Church. However, the Eastern Catholic code of canon law opposes this.

“In fulfilling ecumenical work especially through open and frank dialogue and common undertaking with other Christians, due prudence has to be kept avoiding the dangers of false irenicism, indifferentism, & immoderate zeal.” (Canon 905, Eastern Catholic Canon Law.)

To put it in simple terms, this canon is opposing the idea that there must not be a ultimate goal to promote union under the umbrella of the one true Church of Christ; that being the Catholic Church. With that being said, many have unfortunately rejected this mission and have given into error by refusing to recant their errors in order to promote false unity with our schismatic brothers and sisters in the orthodox communions.

Ironically, The Most Rev. John Adel Elya, former eparch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Newton, addresses a lot of claims of false ecumenism in which are commonly stated by clerics and laymen of our church. Within his Q&A sessions on the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, he addresses the following claims in which I have heard personally:

First claim: We are the Orthodox Church in communion with Rome!” 

Objection: “When the Patriarchate of Antioch was divided into two branches in 1724, one branch kept the name Orthodox and the other branch which sealed its union with the Holy See of Rome, kept the name Melkite given to it since the Sixth Century and called itself Catholic. It became known as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. In the Middle East, although both branches claim orthodoxy as well as catholicity, however being Catholic means not Orthodox and being Orthodox means not Catholic.

To be a Catholic Christian means that one accepts the primacy of the Pope of Rome, because he is the successor of St. Peter. To be an Orthodox Christian means that one does not recognize the primacy of the Pope of Rome, but considers him as “first among equals.”

According to the Catholic teaching, Christ did not create a church with five heads of equal importance. He established One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church whose invisible head is the Lord, but whose visible head is the Pope of Rome.

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches states it in these terms: “The bishop of the Church of Rome, in whom resides the office (munus) given in a special way by the Lord to Peter, first of the Apostles and to be transmitted to his successors, is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the entire Church on earth; therefore in virtue of his office (munus) he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise.” (Canon 43 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches) If an Orthodox subscribes to the Canon quoted above, he/she can be called Catholic and be considered “united to Rome” or in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

(source: https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/are-we-orthodox-united-with-rome)

 

Claim 2: The encyclicals from the Pope of Rome is not binding upon the Catholic East.

Objection: “When we declared our union with Rome – in consistency with Apostolic tradition interrupted somehow by historical circumstances – we accepted the Catholic faith in its entirety.

We do recognize the authority of the Pope of Rome, including universal jurisdiction and infallibility for whatever concerns faith and morals. It is true that the Western Theologians themselves have their own debates concerning these points; so we should not be “more papist that the Pope;”

but Catholic is Catholic and truth is truth. We cannot pose as “Orthodox united to Rome” only for what suits us. I do mean it when we pray every day, at the Divine Liturgy, for “unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit.”

There is no ‘Eastern truth’ vs ‘Western truth’. Truth is one. It may be articulated according to various cultural expressions, but truth is super-cultural. Truth should not be restricted by “party line” positions. We should accept or reject ideas for their worth and not for an artificial attachment to a given “identity.” The Church teaches truth. If something is true, it would be absurd to say “Oh, we don’t believe that in the East.”

This seems to be where we get short-circuited in ecumenical “dialogue.” All too frequently, such “dialogue” seems to presuppose a relativism where you speak “your truth” and I’ll speak “my truth” and we’ll just leave it at that. A sort of ecumenical schizophrenia.

Here are two relevant canons from OUR Eastern Catholic Church Law:
c. 597 CCEO: “The Roman Pontiff, in virtue of his office (munus), possesses infallible teaching authority if, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful who is to confirm his fellow believers in the faith, he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held.”

c. 599: :A religious obsequium of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching of faith and morals which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim with a definitive act.; therefore the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching.”

Source: https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/how-do-the-popes-encyclicals-and-teachings-impact-on-the-melkites

 

Claim 3 : “Melkites and Eastern Catholics can participate in the services of the separated Eastern Churches

Objection: “Vatican II urged all Catholics to become more familiar with Eastern Orthodox Christians, since there is so little that separates them. The present Holy Father is most eager to work toward a reunion of the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. For us as Melkites, the issue is even more pressing, since we have common family roots – many of our families are inter-related, and we have so much in common.

You probably notice that the music and services are so very similar. By all means attend the Offices with the Antiochian Orthodox and pray with them, as well as inviting them to services in our Melkite churches. However, we do not have full Communion re-established with them yet.

At present, we refrain from receiving Communion in each other’s churches, … not because we are better than they, nor they better than us … we refrain as a recognition that both sides have to work harder toward reunion so that one day we may all intercommunicate and enjoy that unity that Christ God prayed for so fervently at His Last Supper with the Apostles, when He gave us the Divine Liturgy as a celebration of full communion with the Father and each other through Him in the Holy Spirit.”

Claim 4:  Eastern Catholics don’t have to accept the Council of Trent and the councils after the 7th ecumenical council.

Objection: “Although the Council of Trent was convened in order to meet the challenges of the Reformation in the west, the recapitulation of dogma concerning the sacraments that came from the Council has been an enriching source for the Churches of both east and west.

Indeed, you will note that many Eastern theologians have reacted in various ways to the decrees of the Council of Trent. As Catholics, we are bound to all of the decrees of the councils that have been promulgated by the Holy Father. In some instances, the decrees of the Council have direct application to the discipline of the west only. Usually this can be discerned either by the decree itself or by its logical application to the discipline of the west.”

https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/what-is-the-melkite-view-of-the-council-of-trent

Second Objection: Patriarch Gregory II Youssef-Sayour occupied the Melkite throne of Antioch for thirty-three years (1864-1897). At Vatican I, the Patriarch gave an impassioned plea to the assembled bishops in defense of the prerogatives of the ancient patriarchs. He said: “The Eastern Church attributes the highest and most complete power to the Pope, but in such a way that the fullness of his power is in harmony with the rights of the other Patriarchal Sees. (Mansi 52,cols. 133-137).

Patriarch Gregory finally signed the document Pastor aeternus but only after adding the phrase made famous at the earlier Council of Florence that expressed his reservations. He added: “salvis omnibus iuribus et privilegiis patriarcharum”. {saving all of the rights and privileges of the patriarchs}.

While the first seven ecumenical councils enjoy a place of prominence, especially in the East, both the Churches of the East and West have experienced local councils and synods throughout their rich histories. The early ecumenical councils met to resolve and articulate important Christological doctrines. The Melkite Church participated fully in Vatican I and Patriarch Gregory spoke clearly to his affirmation of the fullness of power enjoyed by the Petrine Office.

The Patriarch was very concerned that the exercise of papal powers be “in harmony with the rights of the other Patriarchal Sees.” The second Vatican Council is seen to have completed the unfinished business of Vatican I with its special emphasis on ecclesiology, specifically on the nature of the Church.

Recent theological speculation has developed the concept of “communion of churches” with promising results for ecumenism and rapprochement with the Orthodox. It would be a simple rekindling of the old controversy of conciliarism to suggest that some councils are less ecumenical than others.

With the promulgation of the Holy Father, the doctrinal content of the various councils is a part of the sacred magisterial teaching of the Church to which Melkites in full communion with the See of Rome give wholehearted assent.”

https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-john/what-is-the-melkite-view-of-the-post-schism-ecumenical-councils

Claim 5: the Melkite Church doesn’t hold that the Pope is infallible.

Objection:”In all cases, if we are Catholic, then we have to accept all Catholic dogmas.You are right to think that ” we are one of many Eastern autonomous Churches (self-governing) as the Ukrainians, the Ruthenians and other self-governing (sui juris) Eastern Catholic Churches. We hold that the Pope of Rome is infallible in important matters of faith and morality, when he speaks “ex cathedra”, in his position as the visible head of the Catholic Church.

We may interpret these dogmas in “Eastern” terms; however, we are not allowed to deny their truth without breaking the bond of unity with the Pope of Rome, the successor of St. Peter the Rock.

You are right also that we commemorate the Pope of Rome only once, namely at the end of the Anaphora. However, the exact mandated translation is “FIRST, Lord, remember His Holiness N. Pope of Rome, His Beatitude … etc.” Regardless of linguistic or historic pretexts, “Among the first” translation has been repeatedly prohibited by me, as Melkite Eparch, and by my predecessors. I consider persisting in using “among the first…” in our Melkite churches in America as an open defiance to legitimate authority.
I wish you continued success in your endeavors. May our Lord direct your thoughts and words to His pleasure in truth and love.”

Peter: First among equals? An Eastern Catholic Perspective.

POPE LISTENS AS PATRIARCH GREGOIRE III SPEAKS DURING VISIT TO ST. PAUL'S BASILICA IN HARISSA, LEBANON

I would like to make it known that as a Catholic, I accept absolutely 100% of what Holy Mother Church upholds to. To quote Saint Theresa of Avila: “If, perchance, I say anything which does not exactly agree with what the Holy Catholic Church holds, it will be through ignorance, and not in malice.” (Interior Castle, Preface pg. 24)

With that in mind, I am willing to be corrected for any errors in which I may uphold to, for as a laymen in whom does not have any background in theological explanation nor canon law, my words are open to inaccurate conclusions. I acknowledge that as a laymen, my words are only fallible since I am not the magisterium of the Church nor am I the Roman Pontiff speaking via Ex Cathedra.

If I, through my own fault, mislead any of my readers, my sincerest apologies since it is not my intention. My only intention, as an Eastern Catholic, is to reconcile Eastern Christian thought in the context of what the Holy Catholic Church has always upheld to since the beginning of time.

To begin, if you have ever engaged in a dialogue with an Eastern Catholic; you may have heard that we uphold the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Saint Peter, to be First among equals. Being that this is an expression also used by our dear brethren in schism with the Church, such as the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, it can cause controversy being that they have a different understanding of the role of Peter within the Church than we do as Catholics.

To distinguish the differences between what we as Catholics uphold to in contrast to what our brethren in the Eastern schism believe, we as Catholics believe that the Roman Pontiff, being that he is the successor of Peter, has absolute authority over the other bishops considering that this was the role given to him by our Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:17-19 “Thou art Peter [Cepha, transliterated also Kipha] and upon this rock [Cepha] I will build my Church.” The churches in schism, on the other hand, believe that all the bishops and patriarchs are equal in authority over the church.

Considering that Peter was given this Primacy of Honor over the entire Church to be the mouth of the rest of the apostles, it explains why we as Catholics uphold this doctrine given that this was the faith of the early church. For instance:

“He saith to him, “Feed my sheep”. Why does He pass over the others and speak of the sheep to Peter? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the head of the choir. For this reason Paul went up to see him rather than the others.

And also to show him that he must have confidence now that his denial had been purged away. He entrusts him with the rule [prostasia] over the brethren. . . . If anyone should say “Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?”, I should reply that He made Peter the teacher not of that see but of the whole world. [St. John Chrysostom, Homily 88 on John, 1. ]

To quote what Holy Mother Church herself teaches:
“880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.”398Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.

The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.400 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.”401 This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”402 “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”403 (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Lumen Gentium 22: “But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church.

And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head.”

So what does it mean that the Pope is the “first among equals” in Eastern Catholic circles? From a Eastern Catholic perspective, the Pope is the “first among equals” in the context that he is a bishop just like all of the other bishops. Sacramentally, he was ordained a bishop just like any other bishop, making them equal in the sense that as a bishop, (again, not as the Pope), the pope has no more power than any other bishop since all bishops are equal in power.

“This power of the Supreme Pontiff by no means detracts from that ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles by appointment of the Holy Spirit, tend and govern individually the particular flocks which have been assigned to them. On the contrary, this power of theirs is asserted, supported and defended by the Supreme and Universal Pastor; for St. Gregory the Great says: “My honor is the honor of the whole Church. My honor is the steadfast strength of my brethren. Then do I receive true honor, when it is denied to none of those to whom honor is due.” (Vatican 1, Chapter 3 of Session 4)

However, as the very successor of Peter, he enjoys more authority than the other bishops of the Church. If you live in a state with lots of Roman Catholics, chances are you will probably have an archdiocese and several dioceses. The archbishop holds no additional power than the other bishops because they are all equally bishops. By virtue of his position of archbishop, however, he commands more authority in the Church. Thus, all bishops are of equal rank. But Peter is the eldest and the first because of the virtue of his office given by Christ Himself.

“To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal Church. All this is to be found in the acts of the ecumenical councils and the sacred canons.Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate.

Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith , the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one Supreme Shepherd This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.” (Vatican 1)

Thus, Peter is the leader of the disciples. “That Christ singles out Simon Peter has a twofold significance: (1) Peter was the leader among the disciples, and thus had to be the first to confess his love for the risen Lord.” (Orthodox Study Bible of Saint Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Footnote for John 21: 15-17)

Words from the Eastern Church Fathers:

” In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the paralytic in the name of Christ. (Patriarch St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 363 AD, Catech. xviii. n. 27)

“Peter, the Leader of the choir of Apostles, the Mouth of the disciples, the Pillar of the Church, the Buttress of the faith, the Foundation of the confession, the Fisherman of the universe. (St. John Chrysostom, T. iii Hom).

St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434), A disciple of St. John Chrysostom

“Peter, the coryphaeus of the disciples, and the one set over (or chief of) the Apostles. Art not thou he that didst say, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’? Thou Bar-Jonas (son of the dove) hast thou seen so many miracles, and art thou still but Simon (a hearer)? He appointed thee the key-bearer of Heaven, and has though not yet layed aside thy fisherman’s clothing?” (Proclus, Or. viii In Dom. Transfig. t. ix. Galland)
A disciple of St. John Chrysostom

Peter, Head of the choir of Apostles. (Nilus, Lib. ii Epistl.)

Peter, who was foremost in the choir of Apostles and always ruled amongst them. (Nilus, Tract. ad. Magnam.)
Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople (466-516)

Macedonius declared, when desired by the Emperor Anastasius to condemn the Council of Chalcedon, that ‘such a step without an Ecumenical Synod presided over by the Pope of Rome is impossible.’ (Macedonius, Patr. Graec. 108: 360a (Theophan. Chronogr. pp. 234-346 seq.)

 

 

Apologetics 1.8: Call no man ‘Father’?

IMG_4759.JPG

If you have ever come across a Protestant, one common argument that you may have heard is “The Bible says to not call anyone father.” The scripture passage that they are  referencing is Matthew 23:9 in where Jesus says to not call anybody on earth your father. However, this must be taken in its proper context from the understanding of that time period and from Jewish lenses. In that time period, the Roman kings would identify themselves as “Father God” to replace the True Creator. Considering that this is blasphemy and outright idolatrous, Christ warned to not identify anybody on earth as “Father” in the context of “Father God”, for such would be idolatrous.

If Christ implied to not use the term “father” within itself, then we’d have to conclude that He and the scriptures have contradicted itself. Since Christ is God and cannot do so, nor can scripture since its inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, that’s impossible. All throughout scripture, the term Father is used by God Himself or His disciples.
Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and yes, even his own life, he is not able to be my disciple.” Note, Christ clearly used the word father to refer to the earthly male parents of our life on earth. Christ is clearly not against the use of the term, for even the fourth commandment says to “honor your father and your mother.” Would this mean that God is contradicting Himself? Absolutely not. Again, context needs to be considered.

Later, in the book of Luke chapter 16:24, Jesus says the following when giving a parable: “And crying out, he said: ‘Father Abraham, take pity on me and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh my tongue. For I am tortured in this fire.’ ” This is also why in the book of Romans, Paul calls Abraham the “Father of us all.” (Romans 4:16-17)

Therefore, the reason we identify deacons and priests as ‘Father’ is because of their pastoral role as spiritual fathers in whom tend the flock, us as the spiritual children. This is the very continuation of how the ancient Jews identified the priests of their time period, thus St. Stephen the martyred deacon’s identification of the Jewish elders and priests as “fathers.” (See Acts 6:14)

 

Apologetics 1.7: Biblical evidence for the Holy Trinity

For those aware of Catholic teaching, the Catholic Church teaches that the Trinity alone is God. This means that we believe that God is one in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This does not mean that there is three gods, for that would be heresy. However, we believe in the “Holy Trinity, One being and Undivided” (Byzantine Rite).
There are many false religions that reject this very immaculate dogma; such as the Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, Hebrew Israelites, and many more. Considering that they uphold a neo Arian and Diocletian heresy, let us examine the scriptures and the Early Church fathers in regards to the Son and the Holy Spirit being Divine just like the Father.

Part 1. The Son is God!

Proof:

Titus 2, 13-15: “Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
Matthew 4, 7 – ““Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (When read in context, Jesus’ gives this response to Lucifer since he was tempting Jesus in His Humanity.)

John 1, 1 -14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (Jesus Christ is called the Word throughout scripture. This scripture speaks of Christ’s Incarnation.)

In John 3:5, Jesus makes it known that nobody can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are baptized. In Col 1:13, Saint. Paul the Apostle makes it clear that the Kingdom of God belongs to Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ were not God, wouldn’t this be a blasphemous suggestion? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit cannot error nor can He fail! For Jesus Christ is God!

Romans 9:5 “Whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever. Amen.”

Titus 3: 4-6 “But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared: Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost; Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior:”

Note: Savior is applied to God and Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ were not God, as the false religions insist, wouldn’t this be a blasphemous suggestion as well? Of course not, for as stated earlier, The Holy Spirit cannot error!

Jude 4: “For certain men are secretly entered in, (who were written of long ago unto this judgment,) ungodly men, turning the grace of our Lord God into riotousness, and denying the only sovereign Ruler, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

‭‭

In John 8:58, Jesus Christ our God states: “Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.” If Jesus Christ happened to not be God, suggesting Himself to be “I am” or “Yahweh” in Hebrew would be blasphemous and idolatrous; for He would, according to Jehovah witnesses logic, be putting Himself in the place of God.

This explains why the Jews were angry at Him for calling Himself “I am” and later threw stones at Him, for they were calling Him a blasphemer for giving Himself the same title as God the Father. See Exodus 3:14.

Luke 24, 52: “And they worshiped Him”

Note: Jehovah’s Witness translation, that being the poorly translated 2013 New World translation (I call it the NWO translation considering they’re Masonic), it states: “And they did obeisance to him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” The definition of obeisance is “A gesture expressing deferential respect, such as a bow or curtsy.” (Ref: Oxford Dictionary).

This explains why their footnotes for this scripture also suggests that this scripture also means “Or “bowed down.” Evidently, they try to shy away that this scripture Bares Witness to the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The irony is that the synonym for obeisance is “worship.” Considering that they believe, just like us Catholics, that bowing to false gods are idolatry and that bowing to anybody, for that matter, is idolatrous: wouldn’t this make the disciples of Christ in this passage idolaters since bowed to Him?

Again, NO! For the Holy Spirit cannot error nor contradict Himself.
Part 2. The Divinity of the Holy Spirit.

We Catholics, we believe that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Being that He is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, this makes Him the same substance as God the Father and the Son: One God, but Three Persons undivided and completely united as one Divine Being. Thus, the Holy Spirit is also God.

Proof from scripture:

Acts 5: 3-4 “But Peter said: Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart, that thou shouldst lie to the Holy Ghost, and by fraud keep part of the price of the land? Whilst it remained, did it not remain to thee? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thy heart? Thou hast not lied to men, but to God.” (Note: His Holiness Pope Peter 1 did not say that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit AND God, but to God Himself, the Holy Spirit.) He later stats in sentence 9 “Why have you agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold the feet of them who have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out.”

‭‭
Romans 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Note: What other Spirit raised up Jesus Christ’s Body besides God’s? In Gal 1:1, the book of Galatians speaks of Jesus Christ being raised by the spirit of God the Father!

“Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead,”
2 Cor 3:6 speaks more of the spirit of the Lord: ” “Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious; so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather in glory?

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory. For even that which was glorious in this part was not glorified, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is in glory. Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence: And not as Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void.

But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void). But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

1 Peter 1:2 “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.” In the book of 1 Paul to the Thessalonians, this same sanctification is from the “God of Peace” “And may the God of peace himself sanctify you in all things; that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Genesis 1:2 ““And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.”

Note: The same Spirit of God that sanctifies is the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead and created the world.

Hebrews 1: 5-13 ““For to which of the angels hath he said at any time, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the selfsame, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time: Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool?”

‭‭

(Note: This scripture refutes the heretical doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus Christ is allegedly Saint Michael the Archangel.)

A tribute to Father Hamel, Catholic Martyr of France. 


At that time, our Beloved Lord has saith: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” ‭‭St Matthew‬ ‭24:9‬ ‭

We here at HolySynergy are very saddened by the death of the beloved Father Jacques Hamel of Saint Étienne-du-Rouvray, France. By the hands of infidels in whom belonged to the cult of ISIS, he was be headed for the Holy Catholic Faith. Therefore, we pray the following prayers: 

Remember, O Lord, those that have departed this life, the Catholic kings and queens, princes and princesses, most holy universal supreme pontiffs and patriarchs, most reverent metropolitans, bishops and archbishops, those in priestly and clerical orders of the Church, those in priestly and clerical orders of the Church, and those that have served Thee in the monastic order, and grand them rest with the saints in Thine eternal tabernacles. (Sign of the Cross and bow) 

Remember, O Lord, the souls of Thy departed servant Father Father Jacques Hamel, and forgive him for his transgressions, both voluntarily and involuntarily, granting him the kingdom and a portion of Thine eternal good things, and delight of Thine endless and blessed life. (Sign of the Cross and bow) 

Remember, O Lord, also all our fathers and brethren, and sisters, and those that lie here, and all Catholic Christians that departed in the hope of the resurrection and life eternal, and settle them with Thy Saints, where the light of Thy countenance shall visit them, and have mercy on us, for Thou art good and the Lover of mankind. (Sign of the Cross and bow)

Grant, O Lord, remission of sins to all of our fathers, brethren, and sisters that have departed before us in the faith and hope of the resurrection, and make their memory to be eternal. (Sign of the cross and bow)

It is truly meet to bless thee, the Theotokos, and ever blessed and most blameless, and mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and far more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gave birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify. 

Glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever unto ages of ages. Amen. 

Love Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy! O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy most pure mother, and our holy and God bearing fathers and all the saints, have mercy on us. Amen. 

The forgotten Russian Orthodox converts to the Catholic Church

“For Faith is the beginning and the end is love, and God is the two of them brought into unity. After these comes whatever else makes up a Christian gentleman.” –St. Ignatius of Antioch

A close friend and brother of our blog has recently asked us if there were any converts to the Catholic Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. After taking a look at history, we have found a significant amount of converts. That being said, we can only name a few because of the high percentage of converts to the Catholic Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. Considering that one of our admins are Russian Catholic, we would like to dedicate this post to him.  Let’s take a look at the inspiring souls that have even risked being persecuted for the Church because of their conversion.

1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Abrikosov

Vladimir Abrikosov, following his wife a year later, converted to the Catholic Church in 1909 after leaving the Russian Orthodox Church. On May 29th of 1917, Vladimir Abrikosov had taken part in the council of the Russian Greek Catholic Church and was ordained a priest of the Church in the Byzantine Rite by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. 

Following his ordination, he was appointed as the rector of the local Moscow Greek Catholic parish and the head of the Dominicans within the area. In 1920 – 1922, Father Abrikosov has held a meeting in which has taken place between both Catholic and Russian Orthodox representatives within his home.

 By the grace of God and the influence of Father Vladimir, he has converted former Russian Orthodox Dmitriy Vladimirovich Kuz’min-Karavaev to the Catholic Church, causing Father Vladimir to be arrested and threatened with a sentence to death by the Russian government due to it being “counter revolutionary” on the 17th of August, 1922. 

After the punishment has been examined by the government officials, it was later terminated and Father Vladimir was instead sentenced with perpetual exile, causing him to be expelled from Russia, his native land. Even though he was expelled from the land of Russia, he has built contacts with Russian Catholic officials within Rome due to the persecution of Greek Catholics within the Soviet Union. In the name year, Father Vladimir has obtained an audience within the presence of His Holiness Pope Pius XI to discuss the situation of the Russian Catholic Church in regards to its persecution. 

Later, Father Vladimir was recognized as an official member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and procurator of the Russian Exarchate. However, he was unfortunately slandered by a Russian officer, that being Baron Igor von der Launitz, in whom was hostile towards Roman Catholic Bishop Michel d’Herbigny.

 After Launitz’s extradition from Italy, Abrikosov continued his work to abolish the Russian Exarchate when he left Rome to establish himself in Paris. from the contacts with Russian immigrants, Abrikosov remained in solitude. He died on 22 July 1966. 

2. Igor Akulov
Ignor Akulov was born to a family of Russian orthodox peasant farmers in the year of 1897 on April 13th. He graduated from a technical high school and later became a telephone clerk at the Moscow Saint Petersburg’s Railway. During the Russian Civil War, he served the Red Army as a non combative soldier. On July 2, 1921 he was tonsured as a Russian orthodox monk with the name of Brother Epiphany. After meeting with Exarch Leonid Fyodorov, and under his influence Brother Epiphany Akulov began attending Eastern Rite Catholic Liturgies, and in the summer of 1922 was received into the Russian Catholic Church. In 1921, he was ordained as an Eastern Catholic priest by Archbishop Jan Cieplak. After August 1922 he was the Pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Descent of the Holy Ghost in Petrograd. 

After the closings of the Catholic Churches within his area, he secretly served the church in his apartment. On November 23, he was arrested along with other priests, however, not within the same area. He was accused of the Catholic counter-revolutionary organization. 19 May 1924 was sentenced to 10 years in prison, was in political prison near the Irkutsk. In 1927 released early and sent into exile. In 1933 he was freed from exile, he served in various churches in St. Petersburg. Akulov was a good preacher, preached in Russian. 

In 1935, he was again arrested for a short time. On the 26th July, 1937 he was arrested, sentenced to death on August 25, 1937, and was later executed on August 27. He was buried at Levashovo Mass Grave in St. Petersburg.

3. Nikolai Alexandrov

Nikolai Alexandrov was born in 1884 in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow Technical School as an engineer-technologist. From 1912 he worked in Germany as an engineer in the company of Siemens-Schuckert. While in Germany Alexandrov converted to Catholicism from Russian Orthodoxy, his religion by birth. 

Since July 1913, after his return to Moscow he worked in city government, with the 1914 charge tramway workshops, with 1917 worked as an engineer. Nikolai Abrikosov joined to the Greek Catholic community, helped the abbot came to his father, Vladimir Abrikosov. In 1918 he was arrested “in the case of the White Guard organization”, but was released on December 27. After that he became a monk taken the name Peter.

 In August 1921, on the recommendation of Vladimir Abrikosov, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Jan Cieplak,[1] and was later appointed deputy by Exarch Leonid Fyodorov in the event of his arrest. Since September 1922 after his father, Vladimir Abrikosov was sent abroad, headed the Moscow community of Greek-Catholics.

 He was arrested in Moscow in the night from 12 to 13 November 1923 for grouping business of Russian Catholics. On May 19, 1924 he was sentenced under articles 61 and 66 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to 10 years in prison. Sent to Solovki prison camp, first on the island of Conde, in the summer of 1925 Abrikosov was transferred to the central island. 

In the spring of 1929, together with Leonid Fyodorov made Easter liturgy, which led to his transfer to the Anzer island. Soon he was sent to Belbaltlag the station Bear Mountain. In 1934 he was released but the ban stay in 6 major cities and border areas within 3 years. Settled in Dmitrov, Moscow region, Abrikosov worked as an engineer, however performed secret services in his apartment. In 1935 he was arrested in Dmitrov, and on December 29 was sentenced to 5 years in labor camps. Sent to the Solovki prison camp, Father Nikolai Abrikosov died here on 29 May 1936.

For more information on Russian orthodox converts to Catholicism: http://rumkatkilise.org/necplus.htm