Archive for the ‘Orthodox Christian’ Category

Lord, have mercy: The most misunderstood prayer in the Christian West
By Amelia Bacic-Tulevski


A really excellent commentary by an Orthodox woman with deep understanding of Orthodox history, theology, and spirituality. Check out her other posts and her books while you are on her website.

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“If the Humility of Christ becomes the way of our life, any place may, and will, become a place of Resurrection.” ~ Gerontissa Gavriela

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{I may have entered this in the past, but this is now, and I’m entering it – again.}


A Child’s Lent Remembered:  Clean Monday

An excerpt from Ivan Shmelyov’s “Anno Domini”, a wistful recollection of Life in his pious, old-fashioned, well-to-do home in pre-Revolutionary Moscow. Translated from the Russian by Maria Belaeff and published in “Orthodox America”, v5, #7,  February 1985. Posted with permission of the editors.

Found here: https://web.archive.org/web/20110830083030/http://www.roca.org/OA/47/47g.htm


Clean Monday

I waken from harsh light in my room: a bare kind of light, cold dismal.  Yes, it’s Great Lent today.  The pink curtains, with their hunters and their ducks, have already been taken down while I slept, and that’s why it’s so bare and dismal in the room.  It’s Clean Monday today for us, and everything in our house is being scrubbed.

Greyish weather, the thaw.  The dripping beyond the window is like weeping. Our old carpenter – Gorkin, “the panel man” – said yesterday that when Lady Shrovetide leaves, she’ll weep.  And so she is – drip…drip…drip… There she goes!

I look at the paper flowers reduced to shreds, at the gold-glazed “Shrovetide” sweetcake – a toy, brought back from the baths yesterday; gone are the little bears, gone are the little hills – vanished, the joy. And a joyous something begins to fuss in my heart; now everything is new, different. Now it’ll be “the soul beginning” – Gorkin told me all about it yesterday.  “It’s time to ready the soul.” To prepare for Communion, to keep the fast, to make ready for the Bright Day.

“Send One-eye in to see me!” I hear Father’s angry shouting.

Father has not gone out on business; it’s a special day today, very strict.  Father rarely shouts.  Something important has happened.  But after all, he forgave the man for drinking; he cancelled all his sins; yesterday was the day of Forgiveness.  And Vasil-Vasillich forgave us all too, that’s exactly what he said in the dining room, kneeling: “I forgive you all!”  So why is father shouting then?

The door opens, Gorkin comes in with a gleaming copper basin. Oh, yes, to smoke out Lady Shrovetide! There’s a hot brick in the basin, and mint, and they pour vinegar over them.  My old nurse, Domnushka, follows Gorkin around and does the pouring; it hisses in the basin and a tart steam rises – a sacred steam.  I can smell it even now, across the distance of the years.  Sacred… that’s what Gorkin calls it. He goes to all the corners and gently swirls the basin.  And then he swirls it over me.

“Get up dearie, don’t pamper yourself,” he speaks lovingly to me, sliding the basin under the skirt of the bed.  “Where’s she hid herself in your room, fat old Lady Shrovetide… We’ll drive her out!  Lent has arrived… We’ll be going to the Lenten market, the choir from St. Basil’s will be singing  ‘My soul, my soul arise;’ you won’t be able to tear yourself away.”

That unforgettable, that sacred smell. The smell of Great Lent.  And Gorkin himself, completely special – as if he were kind of sacred too.  Way before light, he had already gone to the bath, steamed himself thoroughly, put on everything clean.  Clean Monday today!  Only the kazakin is old; today only the most workaday clothes may be worn, that’s “the law.”

And it’s a sin to laugh, and you have to rub a bit of oil on your head, like Gorkin.  He’ll be eating without oil now, but you have to oil the head, it’s the law, “for the prayer’s sake.”  There’s a glow about him, from his little grey beard, all silver really, from the neatly combed head.  I know for a fact that he’s a saint.  They’re like that, God’s people, that please Him.  And his face is pink, like a cherubim’s, from the cleanness.  I know that he’s dried himself bits of black bread with salt, and all Lent long he’ll take them with his tea, “instead of sugar.”

But why is Daddy angry… with Vasil-Vasillich, like that?

“Oh, sinfulness…” says Gorkin with a sigh.  “It’s hard to break habits, and now everything is strict, Lent.  And, well, they get angry.  But you hold fast now, think about your soul.  It’s the season, all the same as if the latter days were come… that’s the law!  You just recite, “O Lord and Master of my life…” and be cheerful.”

And I begin silently reciting the recently memorized Lenten prayer.

The rooms are quiet and deserted, full of that sacred smell. In the front room, before the reddish icon of the Crucifixion, a very old one, from our sainted great-grandmother who was an Old Believer; a “lenten” lampada of clear glass has been lit, and now it will burn unextinguished until Pascha.  When Father lights it – on Saturdays he lights all the lampadas himself – he always sings softly, in a pleasant-sad way: “Before Thy Cross, we bow down, O Master,” and I would sing softly after him, that wonderful refrain:

“And Thy ho-ly.. Re-sur-re-e-ec-tion, we glo-ri-fy!”

A joy-to-tears beats inside my soul, shining from these words. And I behold it, behind the long file of lenten days – the Holy Resurrection, in lights.  A joyful little prayer!  It casts a kindly beam of light upon these sad days of Lent.

I begin to imagine that now the old life is coming to an end, and it’s time to prepare for that other life, which will be… where?  Somewhere, in the heavens.  You have to cleanse the soul of all sinfulness, and that’s why everything around you is different. And something special is at our side, invisible and fearful. Gorkin told me that now, “it’s like when the soul is parting from the body.” THEY keep watch, to snatch away the soul, and all the while the soul trembles and wails: “Woe is me, I am cursed!”  They read about it in church now, at the Standings.

“Because they can sense that their end is coming near, that Christ will rise!  And that’s why we’re a-given Lent for, to keep close to church, to live to see the Bright Day.  And not to reflect, you understand.  About earthly things, do not reflect! And they’ll be ringing everywhere: ‘Think back!… Think back!…” He made the words boom inside him nicely.

Throughout the house the window vents are open, and you can hear the mournful cry and summons of the bells, ringing before the services: think-back.. think-back.  That’s the piteous bell, crying for the soul.  It’s called the Lenten peal.

They’ve taken the shutters down from the widows, and it’ll be that way, poor-looking, clear until Pascha.  In the drawing-room there are grey slip-covers on the furniture; the lamps are bundled up into cocoons, and even the one painting, “The Beauty at the Feast,” is draped over with a sheet.  That was the suggestion of His Eminence.  Shook his head sadly and said: “A sinful and tempting picture!”  But Father likes it a lot – such class!  Also draped is the engraving which Father for some reason calls “the sweetcake one”, it shows a little old man dancing, and an old woman hitting him with a broom.  That one His Eminence liked a great deal, even laughed.

All the housefolk are very serious, in workday clothes with patches, and I was told also to put on the jacket with the worn-through elbows.  The rugs have been taken out; it’s such a lark now to skate across the parquet.  Only it’s scary to try – Great Lent: skate hard and you’ll break a leg.  Not a crumb left over from Shrovetide, mustn’t be so much as a trace of it in the air.  Even the sturgeon in aspic was passed down to the kitchen yesterday. Only the very plainest dishes are left in the sideboard, the ones with the dun spots and the cracks… for Great Lent.

In the front room there are bowls of yellow pickles, little umbrellas of dill sticking out of them, and chopped cabbage, tart and thickly dusted with anise – a delight.  I grab pinches of it – how it crunches!  And I vow to myself to eat only lenten foods for the duration of the fast.  Why send my soul to perdition, since everything tastes so good anyway!  There’ll be stewed fruit, potato pancakes with prunes, “crosses” on the Week of the Cross… frozen cranberries with sugar, candied nuts…  And what about roast buckwheat kasha with onions, washed down with kvass!  And then lenten pasties with milk-mushrooms, and then buckwheat pancakes with onions on Saturdays… and the boiled wheat with marmalade on the first Saturday… and almond milk with white kissel, and the cranberry one with vanilla, and the grand kuliebiak on Annunciation…  Can it be that THERE, where everyone goes to from this life, there will be such lenten fare!

And why is everyone so dull-looking?  Why, everything is so… so different, and there is much, so much that is joyous.  Today they’ll bring the first ice and begin to line the cellars – the whole yard will be stacked with it.  We’ll go to the “Lenten Market,” where I’ve never been… I begin jumping up and down with joy, but they stop me: “It’s Lent, don’t dare!  Just wait and see, you’ll break your leg!”

Fear comes over me.  I look at the Crucifixion.  He suffers, the Son of God!  But how is it that God… How did He allow it?…

I have the sense that herein lies the great mystery itself – GOD.

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Orthodox Way of Life: Walking the Path to Theosis posted this:
10 Things Orthodox Christians Would Like You to Know

This is an excellent post.

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Reblogged from Fr. Stephen Freeman’s Blog Glory to God for All Things

Man is a musical composition, a wonderfully written hymn to powerful creative activity. – St. Gregory of Nyssa (PG 44, 441 B)

In St. Gregory’s thought,  man is not only a singer, but a song. We are not only song, but the song of God. Indeed within one theme of the fathers, all of creation is the song of God, spoken (or sung) into existence. “Let there be light,” is more than the voice of command: it is the uttering of a phrase that sets the universe as fugue. God sings. All of creation sings. The song of … [MORE]

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Eastern Orthodox icon depicting the First Coun...

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The Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils

Commemorated on the Sunday closest to July 16

In the Ninth Section of the Nicea-Constantinople Symbol-Creed of Faith – worked out by the holy fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, we confess our faith in “One, Holy, Catholico-Conciliar (“Sobornyi”) and Apostolic Church”. By virtue of the Catholico-Conciliar (“Sobornyi”) nature of the Church, the All-Churchly or Ecumenical Council is the Church’s supreme facility, and possessing the plenitude, to resolve the major questions of religious life. An Ecumenical Council is comprised of archpastors and pastors of the Church, and representatives of all the Local Churches, from every land of the “oikumene” (i.e. from all the whole inhabited world, the Ecumenical/ecumenical basis of the “Universality” (“Vselennost'”) of the Church is implied in the Greek word “kath’olon”, from whence the word “catholic”, which encompasses the evangelisation of the whole world).
[Trans. note: The Church Slavonic word “Sobornyi” – in English usually translated merely as “Catholic”, has actually a deeper and more profound meaning than commonly understood in the West, and it reflects linguistically the Greek word “katholikos” as interpreted by Holy Tradition for Saints Cyril and Methodios. The adjective form “Sobornyi” has its word-root in “Sobor” – meaning an “assembly” or “council”. The erudite might also recognise similarity with the word “Sobornost'” – a term emphasised in ecclesiology by the Russian religious-philosopher A. S. Khomyakov in the 1800’s. “Sobornost'” is translated sometimes as “Catholico-Conciliarity”, but often also as “Communality”. This latter nuance signifies the “Catholicity” of the Church, not as a formal external quality regarding the Church as worldly institution and outward authority, but rather existing as a spiritually inward and dynamic quality within each believer. It is the Gospel that defines the locus of the Church saying: “The Kingdom of God is within you”. This however does not mean the fragmenting individualism of belief often seen in Protestantism. The Church as “ekklesia” (assembly of believers) is “One” in Christ in the Apostolicity and Holiness of its faith in Christ – our own oneness is with the one authentic faith of the Holy Apostles in the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, preserved as Holy Tradition throughout all the generations of believers. The “Communality” or “Communion in Christ Jesus” is not merely with our fellow believers in the Church in the present time, but with all the generations of the “faithful” that have gone before us. All the Four Marks of the Church – One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic – are inter-connected. The Catholicity of the Church extends universally not merely through spatiality, but also back through time – it is the “Church Triumphant” as well as the “Church Militant”.]
The Orthodox Church acknowledges Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils: The First Ecumenical Council (Nicea I) (Comm. 29 May, and also movably, on 7th Sunday after Pascha) was convened in the year 325 against the heresy of Arius, in the city of Nicea in Bithynia under the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great.
The Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I) (Comm. 22 May) was convened in the year 381 against the heresy of Macedonias, by the emperor Theodosius the Great.
The Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus) (Comm. 9 September) – was convened in the year 431 against the heresy of Nestorius, in the city of Ephesus by the emperor Theodosius the Younger.
The Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon) (Comm. 16 July) – was convened in the year 451, against the Monophysite heresy, in the city of Chalcedon under the emperor Marcian.
The Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constnatinople II) (Comm. 25 July) – “Concerning the Three Chapters”, was convened in the year 553, under the emperor Justinian the Great.
The Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III) (Comm. 23 January) – during the years 680-681, was against the Monothelite heresy, under the emperor Constantine Pogonatos.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II) (Comm. as moveable feastday on Sunday nearest 11 October) – was convened just like the First Council, at Nicea, but in the year 787 against the Iconoclast heresy, under the emperor Constantine and his mother Irene. (Accounts about the Councils are likewise located under the days of commemoration).
The significance of a special Church veneration of the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils consists in this, that the Ecumenical Councils, and only they, are of themselves in entirety expressive of the faith, will and mind of the Ecumenical Catholic Church – of an Orthodox Plenitude, by virtue of the immutable promises of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and by the Apostolicity inhering in the hierarchy, – they possess the wherewithal to bring forth infallible and “of benefit to all” definitions in the areas of Christian faith and Church piety.
The dogmatic conciliar definitions – “orosoi” in Greek, are employed in the Orthodox Church as having an inalienable and constant authority, and such definitions always begin with the Apostolic formula: “It hath pleased the Holy Spirit and us” (Acts 15: 28).
The Ecumenical Councils were convened in the Church each time regarding a special need, in connection with the appearance of divergent opinions and heresies, so as to seek out the Orthodox Church teaching of faith and tradition. But the Holy Spirit has thus seen fit, that the dogmas – the truths of faith, immutable in their content and scope, constantly and consequently are revealed by the conciliar mind-set of the Church, and are given precision by the holy fathers within theological concepts and terms in exactly such measure, as is needed by the Church itself for its economy of salvation. The Church, in expounding its dogmas, is dealing with the concerns of a given historical moment, “not revealing everything in haste and thoughtlessly, nor indeed, ultimately hiding something” (Saint Gregory the Theologian).
A brief summary of the dogmatic theology of the First Six Ecumenical Councils is formulated and contained in the First Canon-rule of the Council of Trullo (also known as Quinisext), held in the year 692. The 318 Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council are spoken of in this Canon I of Trullo as having: “with one-mindedness of faith revealed and declared to us the oneness of essence in the three Hypstaseis-Persons of the God-original nature and, … instructing to be worshipped – with one worship – the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, they cast down and dispelled the false-teaching about unequal degrees of Divinity”. The 150 Holy Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council left their mark on the theology of the Church as regards the Holy Spirit, “repudiating the teaching of Macedonias, who wanted to chop apart the Undivided Unity, such that there should not perfectly be the mystery of our hope”. The 200 God-bearing Fathers of the Third Ecumenical Council expounded the teaching about “the One Christ, the Son of God Incarnate” and they confessed that “truly the God-begetter [Theotokos, Bogoroditsa, i.e. Mother of God] without seed hath given birth to Him, whilst being the Immaculate and Ever-Virgin”. The point of faith of the 630 God-chosen Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council promulgated “One Christ, the Son of God… glorified in two natures”. The 165 God-bearing Holy Fathers of the Fifth Ecumenical Council “collectively gave anathema and repudiated Theodore of Mopsuetia, the teacher of Nestorius, and Origen, and Didymas, and Euagrios, renovators of the Hellenic teaching about the transmigration of souls and the transmutation of bodies and the impieties raised against the resurrection of the dead”. The faith-confession of the 170 Holy Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council “explained, that we ought to confess two natural volitions, or two wills [trans. note: the one Divine, and the other human], and two natural operations (energies) in He That hath been incarnated for the sake of our salvation, our One Lord Jesus Christ, True God”.
In decisive moments of Church history, the holy Ecumenical Councils promulgated their dogmatic definitions, as trustworthy delimitations in the spiritual militancy for the purity of Orthodoxy, which will last until such time, as “all shalt come into the oneness of faith in the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4: 13). In the struggle with new heresies, the Church does not abandon its former dogmatic concepts nor replace them with some sort of new formulations. The dogmatic formulae of the Holy Ecumenical Councils need never to be superseded, they remain always contemporary to the living Tradition of the Church. Wherefore the Church proclaims:
“The faith of all in the Church of God hath been glorified by men, which were luminaries in the world, cleaving to the Word of Life, so that it be observed firmly, and that it dwell unshakably until the end of the ages, conjointly with their God-bestown writings and dogmas. We reject and we anathematise all, whom they have rejected and anathematised, as being enemies of Truth. And if anyone doth not cleave to nor admit the aforementioned pious dogmas, and doth not so think nor preach, let that one be anathema” (from Canon I of the Council of Trullo, ascribed to the Sixth Ecumenical Council).
Besides the dogmatic activity, the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils exerted great efforts towards the strengthening of churchly discipline. Local Councils promulgated their disciplinary canon-rules, as is obvious, according to the circumstances of the times and place, frequently differing among themselves in various particulars. The universal unity of the Orthodox Church required unity also in canonical practise, i.e. a conciliar deliberation and affirmation of the most important canonical norms by the fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. Thus, according to conciliar judgement, there have been accepted by the Church: 20 Canons from the First, 7 Canons from the Second, 8 Canons from the Third, and 30 Canons from the Forth, Ecumenical Councils. The Fifth and the Sixth Ecumenical Councils concerned themselves with the resolving of exclusively dogmatic questions and did not leave behind any disciplinary canon-rules. The need to establish in codified form in the Church of the customary practises over the years 451-680, and ultimately to affirm the aggregate of a canonical codex for the Orthodox Church, occasioned the convening of a special Council, the activity of which was wholly devoted to the general application of churchly rules. This was convened in the year 692. The Council “in the Imperial Palace” or “Under the Arches” (in Greek “en trullo”), came to be called the Trullo Council. They also called it the “Qunisext” [meaning the “fifth and sixth”], considering it to have completed in canonical matters the activities of the Fifth and Sixth Councils, or rather moreso – that it was simply of the Sixth Council itself, i.e. a direct continuation of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, separated by but a few years.
The Trullo Council, with its 102 Canon-rules (more than of all the Ecumenical Councils combined), had a tremendous significance in the history of the canonical theology of the Orthodox Church. It might be said, that by the fathers of this Council there was a complete compilation of the basic codex from the relevant sources for the Orthodox Church’s canons. Listing through in chronological order, and having been accepted by the Church – the Canons of the Holy Apostles, and the Canons of the Holy Ecumenical and the Local Councils and the holy fathers, the Trullo Council declared: “Let no one be permitted to alter or to annul the aforementioned canons, nor in place of these put forth, or to accept others, made of spurious inscription” (2nd Canon of Trullo Council, ascribed to the Sixth Ecumenical Council).
Church canons, sanctified by the authority of the first Six Ecumenical Councils (including the rules of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787, and likewise the Constantinople Councils of 861 and 879, which were added on later under holy Patriarch Photios), form the basis of the books of  “The Rudder” or “Kormchaya Kniga” (a law‑canon codex known as “Syntagma” or “Nomokanon” of 14 titles). In its repository of grace is expressed a canonical norm, a connection to every time-period for guidance in churchly practise for all the Local Orthodox Churches.
New historical conditions can lead to the change of this or that particular external aspect of the life of the Church, which causes for it the necessity of creative canonical activity in the conciliar reasoning of the Church, as regards the inclusion of external norms of churchly life in conformity with historical circumstances. The details of canonical regulation are not at all once fleshed out into life for the various eras of churchly organisation. But amidst every push to either forsake the literal-letter of a canon or fulfill and develope it, the Church again and again turns for reasoning and guidance to the eternal legacy of the Holy Ecumenical Councils – to the impoverishable treasury of dogmatic and canonical truths.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

Troparion of the Sunday, Tone VI —
The angelic powers were at Thy tomb; / the guards became as dead men. / Mary stood by Thy grave, / seeking Thy most pure Body. / Thou didst capture hell, / not being tempted by it. / Thou didst come to the Virgin, granting life. / O Lord, Who didst rise from the dead: glory to Thee!

Hymn to the Theotokos, Tone VI —
Thou Who didst call Thy mother blessed / came of Thine own will to the passion. / Shining on the cross, desiring to recall Adam, Thou didst say to the angels: / “Rejoice with Me, for the lost coin has been found.” / Thou Who hast ordered all things in wisdom, / O our God, glory to Thee! (1x) Blessed be the name of the Lord, henceforth and forever more.

Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone VI —
When Christ God, the Giver of Life, / raised all of the dead from the valleys of misery with His mighty hand, / He bestowed resurrection on the human race. / He is the Savior of all, the Resurrection, the Life, and the God of all.

Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the first six Ecumenical Councils, Troparion, in Tone VIII —
Most glorious art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast established our fathers upon the earth as beacons, and hast thereby guided us all to the true Faith! O greatly Compassionate One, glory be to Thee!

Kontakion, in Tone VIII, “As the first fruits…” —
The preaching of the apostles and the dog­mas of the fathers sealed the one Faith of the Church; and clad in the robe of truth woven of theology from on high, it setteth aright and glorifieth the great mystery of piety.

Holy Martyr Emilian, Troparion, in Tone IV —
In his suffering, O Lord,/ Thy martyr Emilian received an imperishable crown from Thee our God;/ for, possessed of Thy might,/ he set at nought the tormentors and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons.// By his supplications save Thou our souls.

Kontakion, Tone III, “Of the divine Faith…” —
Aflame with zeal divine, thou wast not afraid of the ministering fire,/ but, fearlessly ascending of thine own will,/ thou wast consumed by the kindled fire,/ and didst offer thyself to the Master as a sacrifice.// O glorious martyr Emilian, entreat Christ God, that He grant us great mercy.

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The Orthodox Christians of Japan ask for prayers The Orthodox Christians of Japan ask for prayersRight after the explosion at the nuclear power plant, a correspondent from the website, Pravoslavie i Mir contacted Priest Nicholai Katsiuban, rector of the metochion of the Russian Orthodox Church in Japan.

A Letter from the Orthodox Christians of Japan
From the Director of External Church Relations.

“Christ is …in our midst!

…This terrible earthquake hit the whole East Japan diocese and devastated the whole city of Sendai, where the episcopal throne of the diocese exists, and almost all the regional orthodox communities which exist along the Pacific coast.

Orthodox Cathedral at Sendai, Japan

By order of His Eminence Daniel, the Metropolitan Council has been trying to get information from the beginning of the incident but does not have enough exact information about the East Japan diocese, because the telephone and internet lines are not working properly. They are mostly destroyed and other lines are restricted by the national authorities for the emergency priority.
However, by now we confirmed that at least the clergy of Sendai orthodox church including Bishop Seraphim is safe. According to Bishop Seraphim, most of the church buildings in Tohoku parish along the Pacific coast are severely damaged.
There are 24 churches in Tohoku parish. These churches are ministered by 5 priests. Out of these 5, one priest is missing. We have no exact information about the safety of the parishioners.
Fortunately, the Holy Resurrection Cathedral of Tokyo and the building of the Metropolitan Council are totally saved by God’s grace.
His Eminence Daniel is praying fervently Christ our Savior have mercy upon Japanese orthodox faithful and Japanese nation, because the nuclear power plant in Tohoku parish is found in critical situation.
Please remember us Japanese orthodox christians in your fervent prayers.
We will provide further information as soon as the whole situation of the earthquake damage turns out clear.

With love in Christ

Fr Demitrios Tanaka
Director of External Church Relations
Metropolitan Council
Holy Autonomous Orthodox Church in Japan

= = = =

Lord, have mercy!!


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