Monday, July 29, 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Phoenix, AZ

Parish Background

Saint Peter and Paul Eastern Orthodox Church is a parish of The Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America (OCA). This Church is the successor of the North American mission of the Church of Russia and traces its beginnings to the first missionaries sent to Alaska in 1794. The OCA received its "autocephaly" or independence in 1970.

On Christmas Day, January 1949, Russian Eastern Orthodox Church services were held in Phoenix, AZ for the first time--served by Fr. Nicholas Hubiak from New Jersey. On November 25, 1951, the Saint Peter and Paul Russian Eastern Orthodox Greek Catholic Church was formed with the appointment of Archimandrite Peter Zaychenko, formerly of Chicago, IL, by Archbishop John of San Francisco and the Western United States.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian

St Ephraim the Syrian (Commemorated January 28)

St Ephraim was born in Nisibis of Mesopotamia some time about the year 306 AD, and in his youth was the disciple of St James, Bishop of Nisibis, one of the 318 Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council. Learn more

The Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian
By Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann 

Of all lenten hymns and prayers, one short prayer can be termed the lenten prayer. Tradition ascribes it to one of the great teachers of spiritual life - St. Ephrem the Syrian. Here is its text: 

O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen 

This prayer is read twice at the end of each lenten service Monday through Friday (not on Saturdays and Sundays for, as we shall see later, the services of these days do not follow the lenten pattern). At the first reading, a prostration follows each petition. Then we all bow twelve times saying: "O God, cleanse me a sinner." The entire prayer is repeated with one final prostration at the end.

Why does this short and simple prayer occupy such an important position in the entire lenten worship? Because it enumerates in a unique way all the "negative" and "positive" elements of repentance and constitutes, so to speak, a "check list" for our individual lenten effort. This effort is aimed first at our liberation from some fundamental spiritual diseases which shape our life and make it virtually impossible for us even to start turning ourselves to God. 

The basic disease is sloth. It is that strange laziness and passivity of our entire being which always pushes us "down" rather than "up" -- which constantly convinces us that no change is possible and therefore desirable. It is in fact a deeply rooted cynicism which to every spiritual challenge responds "what for?" and makes our life one tremendous spiritual waste. It is the root of all sin because it poisons the spiritual energy at its very source. Learn more

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Church Of The Nativity, Bethlehem, Israel

Star marking the traditional site on which Jesus was born in the Grotto of the Nativity.

Exterior of the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, from Manger Square.

Exterior of the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.

Entrance to the Church of the Nativity is via the small Entry of Humility. The outline of the original large square door and the pointed arch of the smaller Crusader entrance can be seen above the current doorway. The door was reduced to its present small size (which requires adults to stoop upon entering) in the Ottoman period to prevent horses and carts being driven through for the purposes of looting.

The Entry of Humility, the entrance to the Church of the Nativity. The door was reduced to its present small size (which requires adults to stoop upon entering) in the Ottoman period, to prevent horses and carts being driven through for the purposes of looting. As the name indicates, many believe this to be appropriate to the sacred site, as no one can enter it standing tall.

Interior of the Church of the Nativity, looking east towards the altar and the entrance to the Grotto.

Interior of the Church of the Nativity, looking west down the nave. The trapdoors in the floor reveal 4th-century floor mosaics from the Constantinian church.

Greek Orthodox Christmas celebrations in the Church of the Nativity.

Entrance to the Grotto of the Nativity.

Inside the Grotto of the Nativity, looking back towards the entrance.

The Grotto of the Nativity.

Pilgrims reflect at the place of Jesus' birth in the Grotto of the Nativity.

Icon of the Virgin and Child in the Grotto of the Nativity (closer look).

The traditional birthplace of Jesus, marked by a star.

In the Bible

The birth of Jesus is narrated in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew gives the impression that Mary and Joseph were from Bethlehem and later moved to Nazareth because of Herod's decree, while Luke indicates that Mary and Joseph were from Nazareth, and Jesus was born in Bethlehem while they were in town for a special census. Scholars tend to see these two stories as irreconcilable and believe Matthew to be more reliable because of historical problems with Luke's version.
But both accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. According to Luke 2:7 (in the traditional translation), Mary "laid him in amanger because there was no room for them in the inn." But the Greek can also be rendered, "she laid him in a manger because they had no space in the room" — we should perhaps imagine Jesus being born in a quiet back room of an overflowing one-room house.
The gospel accounts don't mention a cave, but less than a century later, both Justin Martyr and the Protoevangelium of James say Jesus was born in a cave. This is reasonable, as many houses in the area are still built in front of a cave. The cave part would have been used for stabling and storage - thus the manger.


The first evidence of a cave in Bethlehem being venerated as Christ's birthplace is in the writings of Justin Martyr around 160 AD. The tradition is also attested by Origen and Eusebius in the 3rd century.
In 326, Constantine and his mother St. Helena commisioned a church to be built over the cave. This first church, dedicated on May 31, 339, had an octagonal floor plan and was placed directly above the cave. In the center, a 4-meter-wide hole surrounded by a railing provided a view of the cave. Portions of the floor mosaic survive from this period. St. Jerome lived and worked in Bethlehem from 384 AD, and he was buried in a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity.
The Constantinian church was destroyed by Justinian in 530 AD, who built the much larger church that remains today. The Persians spared it during their invasion in 614 AD because, according to legend, they were impressed by a representation of the Magi — fellow Persians — that decorated the building. This was quoted at a 9th-century synod in Jerusalem to show the utility of religious images.
Muslims prevented the application of Hakim's decree (1009) ordering the destruction of Christian monuments because, since the time of Omar (639), they had been permitted to use the south transept for worship.
The Crusaders took Jerusalem on 6 June 1009. Baldwin I and II were crowned there, and in an impressive display of tolerance the Franks and Byzantines cooperated in fully redecorating the interior (1165-69). A Greek inscription in the north transept records this event.
The Church of the Nativity was much neglected in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, but not destroyed. Much of the church's marble was looted by the Ottomans and now adorns the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. An earthquake in 1834 and a fire in 1869 destroyed the furnishings of the cave, but the church again survived.
In 1847, the theft of the silver star marking the exact site of the Nativity was an ostensible factor in the international crisis over the Holy Places that ultimately led to the Crimean War (1854–56).
In 1852, shared custody of the church was granted to the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches. The Greeks care for the Grotto of the Nativity.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Abbey of Saint-Benoit-du-Lac designed by Romanian architect Daniel S. Hanganu Montreal, Canada

Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, Qué, Municipality, pop 47 (2001c), 53 (1996c), 57 (1991c), inc 1939, area 2.38 km2, is located on the shores of Lac Memphrémagog, 40 km southwest of SHERBROOKE. Its sole inhabitants are monks of the Congregation of St-Pierre de Solesme (France).

The community was founded by Dom Paul Vannier in 1912 when he acquired a farm at Point Gibraltar, a peninsula sloping down towards the lake. He and 3 other monks began farming and providing religious services. The sudden death of their founder in 1914 and the outbreak of WWI broke the links with their community in Europe. This nearly meant the collapse of the new foundation. Elevated to the rank of abbey in 1952, the community grew until 1955, when it numbered 79 members.

In 1939 the abbey began the construction of a more monumental monastery than the farmhouse they had occupied. The new monastery was designed by the well-known French Benedictine architect Dom Paul Bellot, and a hostelry designed by Dom Claude-Marie Côté was added in 1955. In 1994 a monumental new church, designed by the Montréal architect Daniel S. HANGANU, was inaugurated.

In addition to spending a large part of their time in meditation and prayer, and conducting elaborate liturgical services accompanied by Gregorian chant, the monks perform intellectual and manual labour. They also welcome visitors wishing to spend some time in a peaceful environment. Source

Church Interior



Architect Dan Hanganu

Dan Hanganu, CM (born 27 January 1939) is a Romanian-born Canadian architect. Based in Montreal, Quebec, he has designed a number of prominent Quebec buildings, including the new wing of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, the HEC Montréal building, the concert Hall of Rimouski, the UQAM design school and several other mixed-use, commercial, residential and cultural buildings in Montreal, Europe and Asia. Hanganu has an impressive list of awards and publications to his credit including the Order of Canada, the Governor General's award and was also awarded the RAIC gold medal in 2008 for lifetime achievement.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in its announcement that the recipient of the 2008 RAIC Gold Medal is Dan S. Hanganu, FIRAC stated that in choosing Mr. Hanganu, the Gold Medal Selection Committee noted:
"Dan successfully transcends the professional and academic worlds as well as having an extensive body of internationally published articles and project reviews. He understands the impact that architecture can have on people; his work successfully balances function and feeling in a very strong “straight-forward” way."
Mr. Hanganu completed a degree in architecture at the University of Bucharest in 1961, and arrived in Canada in 1970. He leads a diversified practice with projects ranging in scale from single-family houses to entire city blocks. Completed works include numerous housing projects of varying size and complexity, office buildings, hotels and resorts, multi-use complexes, institutional buildings, and several theatres. His wife Anca Hanganu is also an architect practising in Montreal.