"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Tuesday 28 February 2012


This is a monastic community of brothers and sisters who live by the Little Way of St Therese with the spirituality of St Francis, and it is a new foundation that began in Belgium.   After this introductory paragraph, all, including the photos, is taken from their website(click).  The impression they give from the photos on their website is that they have much in common with the Community of St Jean and the Community of Jerusalem; and there are similarities with the monastic family of Bethlehem
  •   All four have a monastic structure and orientation, with lectio divina, divine office and work in community in a spirit of silence;
  • All four wear habits, have a traditional hierarchy of authority and are generally traditional without being stuffy. They use the Novus Ordo and celebrate it with dignity and devotion.
  • All four put emphasis on adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and use icons as an intimate part of their spirituality, thus combining within themselves both East and West.  The brothers and sisters of Tiberiade have a devotion to St Francis of Assisi, Saint Therese, Saint Seraphim of Sarov and St Silouan the Athonite. 
  • All four have masculine and feminine branches.  As with St Jean and Jerusalem, in Tiberiade,  brothers and sisters work and pray together while living in separate communities.   
  • Finally, like the Community of St Jean and the monastic fraternity of Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters of Tiberiade have an apostolate..
for all photos and for the text below this point: "©Fraternité de Tibériade"

Story of the foundation

Beginnings - The roots
a small hut, now the Hermitage of St Bruno

At twelve years old, I discovered a small hidden hut. Over the years, I spent time alone and like a scout I worked with my hands, prayed and discovered the Church. Fifteen years later, I was ordained by the bishop of Namur. The hope wich burned my heart: to give to the Church a small fraternity, some brothers and sisters docile to the Holy Spirit, who would live in harmony and humility to answer the calls of the Church and our time, who would proclaim Jesus, would give witness of Him in unity and prayer and by humble work with their hands.

Twenty-seven years after this commitment, 24 brother sparrows and 5 little robins were given to me. The name of "sparrow" because we are like apostle monks, we often take flight to evangelize in the most direct way possible in every place. This religious life is fully penetrated by contemplation, fraternal life and mission. Our days are punctuated by prayer, welcoming people and we try to give priority to manual work. Manual work roots us to reality and opens us to the marvels of Creation. By study, we strive to receive a solid and spiritual formation to train versatile little brothers some of whom could become priests according to the call and the necessities of the mission.

The Church to be loved

From prayer and fraternal communion we try to overflow into mission. Our great joy is to announce Jesus and to love his Church by converting ourselves to the Gospel, by following the great example of Saint Francis and the little way of Saint Therese. The luminous example of Saint Francis and the little way of Saint Therese help us to live in abandon to Providence

Ardent disciples

We especially carry out this evangelization among young people and families so that the Spirit gives to the Church young saints, ardent disciples. Regularly we lives times of mission in villages, schools and parishes, where we are invited. We also visit families, this mission is very near to our heart to give to the Church holy families.

What characterizes us is:

-the choice of a simple life, a moderation that leaves space to Providence;

-attention to the quality of the fraternal life: place of conversion so that the love circulates like in the Trinity;

-to allow oneself to be simplified by the Gospel and trust;

-unity by charity, humility and  faithfullness create many possibilities. Humbly, we also want to serve the unity wherever the Lord sends us. What is important for us, is not to be of such or such tendency, but to live the Gospel and the love of the Church with courage, and not to waste time in useless quarrels, so that "the Love is loved".

The name "Fraternity of Tiberiade"

The story in the Gospel of Peter walking on the water guided me in the choice of this name. For me, to follow Christ is a call to walk in faith. Very often, I swallow salt water, but ceaselessly, the risen Christ pulls me from the depth of the sea.

By meditating the Gospel, I perceived how much this lake and its shores were rich in the presence of Jesus: the answer of the first followers to his call and the witness of the confidence of Jesus, who sleeps in the boat despite the storm and answers the distress of his brothers

Brother Marc

After living for at least six years of religious life, a brother of Tiberias can engage in perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to follow Christ in the Society. Ceremony of solemn vows of Brother Lionel May 1 2010 the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Music: "What I exult and rejoice" Taizé, 
Album "Christe Lux Mundi


Tiberijados Bendruomene

LT 32234 Baltriškes – Zarasu raj.
Téléphone – fax : 00 370 385 43 694
web : www.tiberiade.lt

History of the foundation.

At a distance of 30 km from Lavaux-Sainte-Anne, Benedictine monks pray for the unity of the Church. The Monastery of Chevetogne accommodates together monks of the Latin Church and Byzantine rites, beiing a sign and a cry for unity between the Churches. They made us discover two Eastern figures : Saint Seraphim of Sarov ( Russia ) and Saint Siluan of Mount Athos ( Greece ). So after the fall of the Berlin wall, we naturally turned towards the Eastern countries that were recovering their freedom of expression.

With this in mind, Brother Joseph was invited in march 1991 to a Congress in Paris, of which the theme was : " How to give a soul back to Europe ? " Contacts were made with a Ukranian priest, but because of visa problems, Brother Joseph turned towards Lithuania. J?rate Telerskaite took part in this event with a Lithuanian delegation. She tells of her first meeting with the Brothers of Tiberiade.

" I have had a strong experience of God in 1990 while in Taize. Returning to Lithuania, I rediscoverd a patronizing Church very far from the spirit of Vatican II. I visited many communities in France, I understood we needed help, we had need of a spiritual oasis. Quite quickly, this inner wish became reality. In March 1991, I met Brother Joseph of the Fraternity of Tiberiade. Our paths crossed : my wish was to invite missionaries to talk about God's love, and Brother Joseph wanted to go to the East to proclaim the Gospel. In the summer of 1991, Vytautas Toleikis, who took part in the Paris meeting, invited Brother Joseph to a " ateitininku " camp during the summer. It was a wonderful experience of prayer, joy and life with youg people. "
After this first contact, everything progressed quickly. The camp was organised for the young people of the Ateitis mouvement, by Vytautas Toleikis, o professor from Vilnius.

" I lived this first train-journey to Lithuania more like a pilgrimage on the earth of martyrs, than like a mission of evangelization", says Brother Joseph. " We were about 30 young people and we lived in Samogitie (Žemaitija ) by the Lake Plateliai. Every day, we met interesting people ( poets, writers, monks... ). We met Father Stanislovas of Paberž?, from Orvydas, we met Brother Astijus from Kretinga and many others."

A few weeks after this first stay in Lithuania, two young people ( Darius ans Daiva ) hitch-hiked to Belgium. They came to invite Brother Joseph to go back to Lithuania. On the 11th November 1991, Brother Marc, Brother Joseph and Brother Benoit left to spent two weeks in Lithuania. For Brother Marc, this mission was improbable as the Belgian foundation was growing very slowly : there were only three brothers. That stay in 1991 was a turnig point. A spirit of freedom was blowing and one could feel the spiritual thirst of the young.

The meeting with Cardinal Sladkevi?ius was promising, he asked the brothers to start a foundation, being very interested in their mission with the young people and the families. " Our visit continued with moments of prayer at the Mount of the Crosses, in Aušros vartai " recalls Brother Joseph. " We had meetings in schools, boarding schools, every day, we were asked to start a foundation. Everyday life is very simple, for example we had to go to 7 shops to gather 1 kg of potatoes. "

Tiberiade will be here, in Baltriškès.

Brother Joseph with other Brothers made 18 trips to Lithuania before the permanent foundation in April 2001. The choice of the village of Baltriškès was decided the following year. In June 92, after the second ateitis camp, Father Algirdas Dauknys welcomed the Brothers an made them visit the whole region : Rokyškis, Dusetos, Zarasai ans Salakas. He also proposed a spot for the community. " It was after the First Communion Mass in Deguiai ", continues Brother Joseph, " we were on our way back to Antaliept_ along country roads, when, all of a sudden, we saw a beautiful wooden church of the beginning of the century. We were in Baltrišks. The place moved us a lot : Tiberiade will be here ". Brother Marc visited the village in November 1992 and confirmed that the community would be established there. The welcome of the villagers helped us make this choice.
The first young camp took place in 1993. Romas Gurklys, who lived temporarily in the presbytery, welcomed ou pilgrim brothers. They also lived in the presbytery and the young people in the old village school. There were about 30 youngsters from Zarasai, Utena, Vilnius " There were no tables, no benches, so we ate sitting on the floor. After the camp, we visited the young in the schools, where some had started prayer-groups that met every week. Father Algirdas and Romas helped us with the administrative work, the phone connection, the papers to acquire the village school."

It was in 1995 that the community settled at the opposite side of the village. A house became vacant and an old kolkhoze nearly, were a good opportunity. An incredible number of young people helped us to transform the kolkhoze into a house open to all. Everything was done very gradualy : the roof and and the wooden walls had to be dismanteld – we had firewood for 5 years –, the mangers for the cows had to be destroyed... and then everything had tobe rebuild. Brothers François remembers : " I had just joined the Fraternity and as a novice, I went for the first time to Baltrišk?s. I was very impressed by the place. The Brothers lived in a permanent camp, without running wather in those days. The washing by hand of the clothes was a weekly event. Many young people and families came to visit us unexpectedly, always eager to pray and to find peace in their hearts. The inhabitants were full of admiration when we spoke a vord of lithuanian. In the beginning, we needed the help of youngsters or of a teacher of french from Antaliepte for the translations. And then we had to start learning the language. When I had to answer the phone, I did not understand much and confused, I always asked to call back...just as well my Brothers learned faster...

At the end of the sumer, like the storks, we flew back to Belgium. Antanas and Ona, our neighbours, were always sad to see us go. We had to hide everything, pretend the place was abandoned not to attract attention. We barricaded the windows with old planks, we packed hay on the car in the garage and we came back the following spring. Only in 2001, could the Fraternity send four Brothers to Baltrišk?s. This answered Brother Marc's promise to Cardinal Sladkevi?ius : " We will be able to send 4 Brothers to Lithuania when we will count 12 Brothers in Belgium. "

Like a dance

In spring 2001, Brother Joseph, Brother Bart, Brother Gilles and Brother François arrived finally in Baltrišk?s. Nature began to awaken, the seasons influenced life in the village. The inhabitants showed a lot of kindness, they helped the Brothers with their advice. They welcomed their prayer routines. The vegetable garden surprised them many times with new kinds of vegetables such as leeks or another king of potatoes. " I remember the day when Antanas showed us how to cut the hay, says Brother François. He showed us how to hold the sickel, he wanted each of us to experiment, he made the mouvements with the Brothers, it became like a dance, a waltz...

Like children, we awaited the winter impatiently. What a spectacle ! It was marvellous to see the frozen lake covered with snow, the trees white with frost. Mos impressive was the silence that drew us down into contemplation. It was so beautiful, but it was cold. One needed o lot of wood to keep oneself warm. Cutting the wood, splitting it, carrying it to the shelters became a regular activity when we welcomed the young people... Since Brother Michel joined us we organise weekends for children. They roughly follow our schedule with a big game during the afternoon. That livens up life in the village. The ordination of Brother Gilles in 2004 was important for our foundation in Baltrišk?s, for the parishioners, the young and the families we welcome. It's a blessing to celebrate the Eucharist every day, it is the high point of our day.

It's difficult to relate all we have experienced durign those firs years in Baltriškès. So many marvellous moments ! This is only possible thanks to the generosity of each Brother and of so many who helped us by their prayers or small services. We can testify than Baltrišk?s is a land of resurrection. We have seen young people and families discover hope, a meaning to their lives : they went from death to life. "

If you want to help the mission of evangelization of our Brothers in Lithuania and Latvia, your gifts will be welcomed on the bank number 068-2323806-04 ( for the international tranfers : codes IBAN : BE10 0682 3238 0604 and BIC : GKCCBEBB ) with the title " for Lithuania " Thank you.

Brotherhood of Tiberias
"The Portiuncula"
Ngulumzamba neighborhood, Kanzombi
Common Lukemi
Kikwit (DRC)
Email Address: Diocese of Kikwit, the Brothers of Tiberias, Portiuncula, BP 7245 KIN I (DRC) 
tel: 00243/80 729 81 22 
E-mail: tiberiadeafrique@yahoo.fr

Today we are four brothers in the fraternity of Tiberias in Kikwit: brothers Benedict, Joseph Cyril and Pascal. Our home is called "The Portiuncula" in reference to this small place where St. Francis in Assisi and his brothers first lived..

These six years of presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been for each of us the opportunity to both a revision of our values and a deep enrichment. The challenge to be faithful, especially to Christ's call to live a true poverty in a world so different from ours and with such great suffering. Enrichment because life here takes us back continually to Jesus and his gospel, down to its most radical demands: to be pruned, converted, pacified ... so that our hearts are opened to the dimensions of Christ's love.

Our life is modeled on that of our parent community in Belgium: prayer, manual labor, fraternal life and evangelization. Our Congolese brothers and sisters are sometimes surprised to see us return to the chapel so frequently (5 times a day), or continue this pace even when one of us is alone at home! It is because Jesus is the center of our lives and without this we really can not do anything.

As for work, it is not lacking in a foundation in the bush, 6 km from Kikwit, where everything has to be built. But with the help of many, the landscape is gradually beginning to reflect the simple beauty of God's presence. Beyond the construction work, there is the planting of fruit trees, rearing chickens and rabbits, and the vegetable garden ... and the thousand and one little things of everyday life such as preparing meals with the means at hand or washing up by hand!

Of course, we do not live with a view to "settle" but rather we are  building a small nest strong enough so that, like "sparrows", we can fly to the mission and then return back to find strength in the Lord in the joy of fraternal life.

This mission starts when we meet with our neighbors, with day laborers, especially with children. Children are the smile of the Congo! We started a small group of "Children of the Harvest" which meets every other Saturday to  learn to read and write, to play games, catechesis and prayer. The mission also spends some time with the youth; and we learn together to better know the Lord, to serve Him better and to love him.

But the mission is also compassion and sharing. We are able to help  widows materially when needed, to give food to children at risk and to make sure that the very poor are treated properly and with dignity in  medical centers.

There are so many urgent needs here! But the greatest need is love; as Bishop Mununu said to us when he greeted us into his diocese: "I entrust to you the people of Kikwit to love" . Thank you for praying for us to become more and more love, Christ's witnesses, balm on the wounds of our brothers.

San Damiano House
269#, Sampaguita Street
Greenland executive village
Phone :Nick ARAMBULO of Miss Gilda EREA
0063/ 91 94 85 60 25

During the World Youth days in the Philippines in 1995 we met kuya Nick, a young Filipino, who later committed himself to the community of Tiberiade as a lay missionary. Since then, has started growing A closer link with the Philippines and especially with Talim Island, where started the St. Damiano house. Nick, together with other St. Damiano group members, local residents, are working on several projects. They retain the dispensary, bamboo workshop, support poor students and do evangelization...

Families or young people who are friend of our community, contribute regularly to help in accordance with their existing talents. Since January 2009 Francois and Aude (from Belgium) with small Matthew (www.gossetbrochier.com) went there for 2 years. They help in the local projects 2 other families started before.

 Some brothers go annually to encourage Nick and all the St Damiano team in the Philippines.

If you want to help the mission of evangelization of our Brothers in Philipines, your gifts will be welcomed on the bank number 068-2323806-04 ( for the international tranfers : codes IBAN : BE10 0682 3238 0604 and BIC : GKCCBEBB ) with the title " for Philipines " Thank you.

Votre aide nous permettra de poursuivre les différents projets en cours et de soutenir notre mission auprès des familles et des jeunes. Merci et recevez déjà notre prière d'action de grâce.


Monday 27 February 2012


Yesterday, the world was busy in its pleasures, and the very children of God were taking a joyous farewell to mirth: but this morning, all is changed. The solemn announcement, spoken of by the prophet, has been proclaimed in Sion: the solemn fast of Lent, the season of expiation, the approach of the great anniversaries of our Redemption. Let us, then, rouse ourselves, and prepare for the spiritual combat.

But in this battling of the spirit against the flesh we need good armor. Our holy mother the Church knows how much we need it; and therefore does she summon us to enter into the house of God, that she may arm us for the holy contest. What this armor is we know from St. Paul, who thus describes it; 'Have your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice. And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. In all things, taking the shield and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The very prince of the apostles, too, addresses these solemn words to us: 'Christ having suffered in the flesh, be ye also armed with the same thought'. We are entering, today, upon a long campaign of the warfare spoken of by the apostles: forty days of battle, forty days of penance. We shall not turn cowards, if our souls can but be impressed with the conviction, that the battle and the penance must be gone through. Let us listen to the eloquence of the solemn rite which opens our Lent. Let us go whither our mother leads us, that is, to the scene of the fall.

The enemies we have to fight with, are of two kinds: internal, and external. The first are our passions; the second are the devils. Both were brought on us by pride, and man's pride began when he refused to obey his God. God forgave him his sin, but He punished him. The punishment was death, and this was the form of the divine sentence: 'Thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return'. Oh that we had remembered this! The recollection of what we are and what we are to be, would have checked that haughty rebellion, which has so often led us to break the law of God. And if, for the time to come, we would preserve in loyalty to Him, we must humble ourselves, accept the sentence, and look on this present life as a path to the grave. The path may be long or short; but to the tomb it must lead us. Remembering this, we shall see all things in their true light. We shall love that God, who has deigned to set His heart on us notwithstanding our being creatures of death: we shall hate, with deepest contrition, the insolence and ingratitude, wherewith we have spent so many of our few days of life, that is, in sinning against our heavenly Father: and we shall be not only willing, but eager, to go through these days of penance, which He so mercifully gives us for making reparation to His offended justice.

This was the motive the Church had in enriching her liturgy with the solemn rite, at which we are to assist this morning. When, upwards a thousand years ago, she decreed the anticipation of the lenten fast by the last four days of Quinquagesima week, she instituted this impressive ceremony of signing the forehead of her children with ashes, while saying to them those awful words, wherewith God sentenced us to death: 'Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return!' But the making use of ashes as a symbol of humiliation and penance, is of a much earlier date than the institution to which we allude. We find frequent mention of it in the Old Testament. Job, though a Gentile, sprinkled his flesh with ashes, that, thus humbled, he might propitiate the divine mercy and this was two thousand years before the coming of our Savior. The royal prophet tells us of himself, that he mingled ashes with his bread, because of the divine anger and indignation. Many such examples are to be met with in the sacred Scriptures; but so obvious is the analogy between the sinner who thus signifies his grief, and the object whereby he signifies it, that we read such instances without surprise. When fallen man would humble himself before the divine justice, which has sentenced his body to return to dust, how could he more aptly express his contrite acceptance of the sentence, than by sprinkling himself, or his food, with ashes, which is the dust of wood consumed by fire? This earnest acknowledgment of his being himself but dust and ashes, is an act of humility, and humility ever gives him confidence in that God, who resists the proud and pardons the humble.

-- Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year

Sunday 26 February 2012


Interview by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk to the UNIAN-Religion Ukrainian Agency

29.12.2011 · Analitics, DECR Chairman, Inter-Christian relations  
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, spoke of relations with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in his interview to the UNIAN-Religion.

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Archbishop Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) often speaks of the need for dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church and a possible meeting with Patriarch Kirill. Who is the initiator of this dialogue? Under what conditions is it possible and what would be its aims?

Immediately after the election of Archbishop Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) as the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church I sent a letter of congratulations to him and expressed the hope that relations between the Orthodox of the Moscow Patriarchate and Greek Catholics in Ukraine would improve. We were uplifted by certain optimism when Archbishop Sviatoslav responded with the desire to solve jointly the problems which exist between the Moscow Patriarchate and the UGCC.

At the same time we cannot but be concerned by the declaration of the new head of the UGCC that believers belonging to the ‘Kievan Patriarchate’ are the ‘main Orthodox brothers’ of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics. The close contacts and even concelebration of Archbishop Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) with representatives of this schismatic structure, not recognized by any of the other Orthodox Churches, unfortunately demonstrates a willingness to ignore the official position of the Moscow Patriarchate and disrespect for the canonical rules of the Orthodox Church.
I am deeply convinced that genuine mutual understanding and reconciliation between our Churches is impossible to achieve without mutual respect, including respect in the field of canonical order
We have recently received alarming reports of instances of proselytism by Greek Catholics among the Orthodox on the territories of Central and Eastern Ukraine. This type of thing can only make worse the problems that already exist in inter-church relations, while at the same time we would prefer words about the desire for dialogue to be in accord with real deeds.

The appearance of a representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the enthronement of the new head of the UGCC has been regarded as symbolic. In one of his comments His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted a ‘recent improvement in relations between the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches in Ukraine.’ What did he have in mind?

After the election of the new archbishop of the UGCC official contacts were instituted between the Greek Catholics and the Orthodox of the Moscow Patriarchate for practically the first time. You mentioned the presence of a representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the enthronement of Archbishop Sviatoslav (Shevchuk). There was then a meeting between His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine and the head of the UGCC. This meeting took place in an atmosphere of good will, and during it agreement was reached on co-operation between places of learning of the two Churches. It is these positive events that His Holiness had in mind when he spoke of an ‘improvement in relations between the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches in Ukraine’.

The Patriarch’s words, however, do not mean that all the problems in relations between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have now been regulated. There still remain unresolved questions concerning the building of Orthodox churches in Western Ukraine, and representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church express concern with regard to the mission of Greek Catholics in Eastern Ukraine.

The UGCC has a strategic goal in Ukraine – to obtain from the Vatican recognition of Patriarchal status for its organizational structure. In November and December of this year the UGCC created in Ukraine three new metropolias: Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk and Ternopil and Zboriv. Now the UGCC has seven metropolias, including the metropolia of Przemysl and Warsaw in Poland, the metropolia of Philadelphia in the USA and the metropolia of Winnipeg in Canada. Does the strengthening of the position of the UGCC on the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate influence the development of relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the UGCC?

The transformation of the Greek Catholic dioceses in Western Europe into metropolias is primarily the internal business of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. At the same time this administrative reform has been made with the aim of obtaining form the Vatican recognition for the UGCC the status of patriarchate, as the Greek Catholic bishops themselves openly admit. It is well known that not only the Moscow Patriarchate, but also the other Local Orthodox Churches view negatively the possibility that the UGCC may be recognized as a patriarchate. Such recognition would be an indirect affirmation of Archbishop Sviatoslav’s declaration that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the sole legitimate heir of the ancient Kievan Metropolia.

Moreover, the status of patriarchate would give to the UGCC the character of an all-Ukrainian Church. However, Central and Eastern Ukraine has always traditionally been Orthodox territory where there never have been any Greek Catholic structures. Of course, the Orthodox are alarmed at the UGCC’s aim to spread its mission to the East by creating new dioceses and exarchates there.

At the beginning of November in Kazan there was a joint procession of the cross between believers of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Educated Orthodox youth are attracted by Catholicism in other countries, while Catholic ecumenists come here. For example, to mark the New Year there will be a youth meeting of Taizé in Berlin attended by a large inter-confessional delegation from Ukraine. Is there not a danger for Orthodox Christians in this type of communion? What sort of communion is permitted and what is not?

Orthodox youth, including that of the Russian Church, for many years now has participated in youth meetings organized by the monastic community of Taizé in various European cities. I am glad that young Christians have the chance to meet and share their experience of life and ministry in the Church as this type of communion can lay the foundations for the building of a more just and human society.

Although between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church there is no unity in the faith and communion in the sacraments, nevertheless the Orthodox and Catholics hold positions close to each other on many questions of contemporary life, primarily in the social sphere and sphere of ethics. Orthodox-Catholic co-operation is developing today in various forms. This may be joint cultural projects, public acts, and active mutual engagement at the level of international organizations. Positive examples of such co-operation already exist, and youth meetings are one of them.

Spirit at work in Ukraine’s Ecumenical relations
SOURCE:  Christianity Today (click)
by John Newton, ACN

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is “optimistic” about possible unity with Orthodox Christians in his country – because faithful from across the ecumenical divide are demanding it. 

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck said that his Church, one of the Byzantine rites of the Catholic Church in full communion with Pope Benedict XVI, has “excellent” relations with all the Orthodox Churches in the country. 

He said calls from lay Orthodox and Catholics for unity were a driving force in ecumenical relations between the Churches in Ukraine.

Speaking in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Major Archbishop Shevchuck said “We are conscious that without Christian unity, the unity of our society is also impossible and there is an existential demand from our faithful – Orthodox and Catholic – for unity. 

“So our faithful, which according to Church tradition have sort of sensus fidelium [sense of the faithful – i.e. believers possessing an innate understanding of religious truth], are asking us hierarchs [bishops and other prelates] for that unity. 

“This is why I am so optimistic because I think this is some sort of inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the people of God.” 

His optimism comes despite a complicated ecumenical situation in Ukraine, caused by the existence of no less than three separate Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, including one in communion with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. 

Major Archbishop Shevchuck said: “As head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church always I am trying to establish normal, regular, friendly human contacts with the Orthodox Bishops but also with the heads of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches – especially the one in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate – and I would confess that we have excellent relationships.” 

The leader of the world’s Ukrainian Greek Catholics described how his installation ceremony last March was a sign of improving relationships between the different Churches. 

He told ACN: “Representatives of each Orthodox Church came for the liturgy of my enthronement for the first time in history, because they never would meet each other for a common service.” 

He described how one moment, which occurred after the sign of peace, was particularly symbolic. 

“I approached each of those representatives with my greeting ‘Christ is among us’ and each of them did respond to me ‘Yes and will be’. 

“For the Orthodox Christian the liturgical expression means a lot. It shows that there is at least a willingness for the unity of the faith.” 

Although the creation of new Catholic dioceses in Russia caused tensions with the Orthodox, Major Archbishop Shevchuck said no problems had occurred when the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church proclaimed three new metropolitan dioceses in western Ukraine at the end of 2011. 

He said: “Before the creation of that new Church structure I visited each of the Orthodox leaders, including His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate, and nobody expressed himself against the plans.” 

The Major Archbishop also paid tribute to the role of the Council of the Churches and Religious Organisations in Ukraine in resolving issues over Church property in the west of the country, which has been a controversial issue in post-communist Ukraine. 

He said: “That organisation is a very useful way how to build unity among different Christian denominations and confessions in Ukraine.” 

Aid to the Church in Need has helped support the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church with a number of catechetical resources, including a Ukrainian edition of the Child’s Bible with images based on traditional icons. 

Many of the Greek Catholic catechetical resources are also used by the Orthodox Church. 

The charity has also helped with the formation of the faithful by supporting the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv

Major Archbishop Shevchuck expressed his thanks to ACN, adding that the charity understood the needs of the Church in the Ukraine. 

Saturday 25 February 2012


Schiarchimandrite Sophrony Sakharov - St. John the Baptist Monastery, Essex, England 


On this past July 11, Archimandrite Sophrony, the spiritual elder of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist at Tolleshunt Knights, England, fell asleep in the Lord. Father Sophrony was well known throughout the Orthodox world as the compiler of the writings of St. Silouan and the author of his life. And to those who were privileged to be acquainted with him personally, he was known for the spiritual love and joy which his presence called forth and radiated from him. 

Life of Father Sophrony 

Archimandrite Sophrony was born on September 23, 1896, of Orthodox parents in Russia. He began a career as an artist, first in his homeland, and after the Revolution he went to Paris. Here the aspirations of his heart moved him to seek a life in Christ. He first enrolled in the newly-opened Paris Orthodox Theological Institute; the formal study of theology, however, did not satisfy his interior longing, and he soon set off for the Holy Mountain where men strive not for thirty-fold, or sixty-fold, but one hundred-fold—for the deification which is possible here and now. 

Father Sophrony came to the Holy Mountain in 1926, and it was there that he spent the next twenty-two years of his life; fifteen at the Monastery of St. Panteleimon (where he was a close disciple of St. Silouan the Athonite), and seven years in the desert area. Failing health compelled him to leave his cave, and it was at this time that the idea came to him to write a book about his teacher, Staretz Silouan. With this purpose in view, he returned to Paris, where having fallen ill, he underwent an operation in which most of his stomach was removed. Thus, it was not possible for him to return to the Holy Mountain. Without hope of living very long, he was given refuge in a Russian old-age home, where he assisted the priest who served at the resident chapel. 

It was here that a Swiss convert who had read the Way of the Pilgrim and had an interest in the Jesus Prayer, sought out as a teacher an Athonite monk of whom he had heard and who was living at this old-age home. Having met Father Sophrony, he decided to follow him as his guide in Christ, and soon afterward he was joined by another man of like aspirations. These two were allowed to live at the old-age home, and as food, ate what was left over from the patients. Soon a number of disciples gathered around Father Sophrony and they began holding services in which they repeated the Jesus Prayer out loud because of the lack of service books. When their manner of life began to produce a conflict with the functioning of the old-age home, they sought a place to establish a residence. A spiritual child in France donated a house with about ten acres of land that at one time had been a rectory for a nearby church which had not been in use for many years. A few nuns who also resided at the old-age home, along with several laymen, accompanied Father Sophrony in his move into this location at Tolleshunt Knights near London. This was in the mid-1950s, and at that time, Father Sophrony did not expect to live long. 

For many years, visitors from around the world have come to visit the Monastery of St. John the Baptist, as it came to be called. At first, it was primarily to see an Orthodox elder, Father Sophrony, but as time went on and the community grew, many came to visit the community as well. Out of the aforementioned small root, a rather unique monastic community has evolved consisting both of monks and nuns. It is a multi-ethnic community; there are members from twelve countries. They have a form of common service which is special and known only in their monastery — they say the Jesus Prayer together in their cycle of community services. 

With the death of Father Sophrony, the number of the community was twenty-five. But thirteen days after the death of Father Sophrony, the eldest nun. Mother Elizabeth, also passed away. She was a little older than Father Sophrony, and being sickly, she was confined to a wheelchair for many years. Knowing that death would soon overtake each of them. Father Sophrony said that he would go first and then she shortly afterwards. 

Last days and burial of Father Sophrony 

The burial service of Archimandrite Sophrony took place at 2:00 p.m., July 14, in the main church of the monastery, and he was interred in a crypt on the monastery grounds which was especially built for the burial of the members of the community. There were in attendance an estimated four hundred or more persons consisting of hierarchs and presbyters of the local Greek and Russian Churches, along with the local faithful. From overseas, there were monastics from the monasteries of Simonopetra and Gregoriou on Mount Athos, St. Arsenios in northern Greece, St. Silouan in France, and the convent of Karea in Athens. Also present was one of the fathers of our monastery of St. Tikhon in South Canaan — this was a fitting tribute as Father Sophrony shared a spiritual link with St. Tikhon's for many years, having been ordained to the diaconate in 1930 by the former rector of our seminary, St. Nicolai of Zicha. 

Serving for the burial were the clergy of the monastic brotherhood of St. John the Baptist, while the responses were sung by the sisters in English, Greek and Slavonic. Father Sophrony was not embalmed, and as is customary with priests and monastics, his face remained covered. Only his right hand was visible which remained soft and retained a healthy color. The burial service, including the last kiss and procession to the crypt (to which only Father Sophrony's monastics went), lasted a little more than four hours. It is of interest to note that the community had recently discovered from local authorities that the only legal way they could bury anyone on their grounds was to build an underground crypt. When plans were made for its construction, Father Sophrony said, "I will not go until it is ready." And when the work was well in progress, the workmen notified the Abbot that it would be ready for the first burial on July 12. When Father Sophrony was told, he replied, "I will be ready." And so on July 11, at approximately 8:00 a.m., during an early Liturgy held at the monastery, Father Sophrony reposed in the Lord. 

Grant rest in blessed repose, O Lord, to Thy servants the newly departed Archimandrite Sophrony and Mother Elizabeth, and make their memory to be eternal! 

Source: Hieromonk Gregory. Archimandrite Sophrony
Falls Asleep In The Lord //
Alive in Christ: The Magazine of the Diocese
of Eastern Pennsylvania, Orthodox Church in America.
1993. Vol. IX. N 2. P. 60-61.

"No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is given over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass."

"There are three things I cannot take in: nondogmatic faith, nonecclesiological Christianity and nonascetic Christianity. These three - the church, dogma, and asceticism - constitute one single life for me." - Letter to D. Balfour, August 21, 1945.

"If one rejects the Orthodox creed and the eastern ascetic experience of life in Christ, which has been acquired throughout the centuries, then Orthodox culture would be left with nothing but the Greek minor [key] and Russian tetraphony." - Letter to D. Balfour.

"There are known instances when Blessed Staretz Silouan in prayer beheld something remote as though it were happening close by; when he saw into someone's future, or when profound secrets of the human soul were revealed to him. There are many people still alive who can bear witness to this in their own case but he himself never aspired to it and never accorded much significance to it. His soul was totally engulfed in compassion for the world. He concentrated himself utterly on prayer for the world, and in his spiritual life prized this love above all else." -- St Silouan the Athonite, p. 228.

"In my young days ... I had been attracted to the idea of pure creativity, taking the form of abstract art. ... I derived ideas for my abstract studies from life around me. I would look at a man, a house, a plant, at intricate machinery, extravagant shadowscapes on walls or ceilings, at quivering bonfire flames, and would compose them into abstract pictures, creating in my imagination visions that were not like actual reality. ... Fortunately I soon realised that it was not given to me, a human being, to create from 'nothing', in the way only God can create. I realised that everything that I created was conditioned by what was already in existence. I could not invent a new colour or line that had never existed anywhere before. An abstract picture is like a string of words, beautiful and sonorous in themselves, perhaps, but never expressing a complete thought..." -- Preface to St Silouan the Athonite
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