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reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Upcoming Shows

5/01 - John Evans @ Blanco's
5/01 - D.R.U.M. @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
5/02 - Tower of Power @ Warehouse Live
5/02 - Texas Sapphires (in store) @ Cactus Music
5/02 - The Hudsons @ Dosey Doe Coffee House
5/03 - Brennen Leigh/Jesse Dayton/Marty Stuart @ the Crighton
5/03 - Front Porch Society @ the Corner Pub (Conroe)
5/03 - Doyle Bramhall @ the Mucky Duck
5/03 - Two High String Band @ Anderson Fair
5/04 - Roger Waters (w/0ut inflatable pig?) @ Woodlands Pavilion
5/06 - Jesse Dayton & Mike Ness @ Meridian
5/06 - Audrey Auld Mezera @ the Mucky Duck
5/07 - Shake Russell @ Puffabellys (Spring)
5/08 - Clandestine @ the Mucky Duck
5/08 - Two Tons of Steel @ Big Texas (Clear Lake)
5/08 - Clay Farmer @ Blanco's
5/09 - Greg Trooper @ the Mucky Duck
5/09 - Dale Watson @ Blanco's
5/09 - Max Stalling @ the Firehouse Saloon
5/10 - The Greencards @ the Mucky Duck
5/10 - Texas Sapphires @ the Corner Pub
5/11 - Loudon Wainwright III @ Bend Studio
5/11 - Apocalyptica @ Warehouse Live
5/15 - Old 97's (in store) @ Cactus Records
5/15 - Paul Thorn @ the Mucky Duck
5/16 - Corb Lund & Hayes Carll @ Dosey Doe's
5/16 - Adam Carroll @ the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe (Galveston)
5/16 - Reverend Horton Heat @ Meridian
5/16 - Jack Saunders @ the Mucky Duck
5/16 - Micky & the Motorcars @ the Firehouse Saloon
5/16 - Bob Livingston @ Anderson Fair
5/17 - Bruce Robison @ the Mucky Duck
5/20 - The Police & Elvis Costello @ the Woodlands Pavilion
5/23 - Carolyn Wonderland @ the Mucky Duck
5/23 - Bob Schneider @ Meridian
5/23 - Miss Leslie & her Juke Jointers @ Dosey Doe's
5/23 - Sean Reefer @ the Old Quarter
5/24 - Guy Forsyth @ the Mucky Duck
5/27 - Terri Hendrix @ Lloyd Maines @ Dosey Doe's
5/29 - Marshall Tucker Band @ the Meridian
5/30 - The Old 97's & Hayes Carll @ the Meridian
5/30 - The Mother Truckers @ the Continental Club
5/30 - Jimmy LaFave @ the Mucky Duck
5/30 - Adam Carroll @ Anderson Fair
5/30 - The Hudsons @ the Old Quarter
5/30 - Joe Ely/Joel Guzman/Sam Baker @ Dosey Doe's
5/31 - Randy Weeks (in store) @ Cactus Music
5/31 - Sisters Morales @ the Mucky Duck
5/31 - Shake Russell @ the Old Quarter
5/31 - Clay Farmer @ Dosey Doe's
5/31 - Mark Germino @ Anderson Fair


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cat Playing a Theremin

It's Bright Week and I'm in a pretty festive mood.

Here is a hilarious video of a cat playing a theremin (h/t The Fredosphere).

You have to watch it all the way to the end...which is priceless.

I understand that the cat in question is a Scottish Fold and it's actually playing a miniature theremin.

No cats (Scottish or otherwise) were harmed in the making of this video.

: )


Monday, April 28, 2008

Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Easter Epistle of Metropolitan Volodymyr to Archpastors, Pastors, Monkhood and All Faithful of Ukrainian Orthodox Church:

Christ is risen!

"Come all you faithful Let us venerate Christ's holy Resurrection"

From Orthodox Easter Service

With these inspiring words our Holy Mother Church calls those of us, who won through the way of the Great Lent by the grace of God, to taste the joy of the most luminous and joyous feast of Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

"Easter Sunday", as blessed Hesychius of Jerusalem said, "is a blessing of joy, since the Lord is risen... Today, due to the Resurrected Christ the paradise is open; man finds salvation and Christ is given worship, since He, having defied the death, ascended heavens as Victorious King, as Master of Glory...".

"But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world", said the Resurrected Saviour to His disciples (John 16: 33). Being moved by the greatest and infinite love to His creation, the Son of God descended to the Earth, became flesh, assumed the sins of the world, suffered death on the Cross for us and our sins, and "was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4: 25). The Lord Resurrected became the new ancestor of all people, the new Adam of the redeemed humanity.

Resurrection of Christ marked the triumph of life over death. Each of us has obtained a possibility of personal resurrection in Christ as the true God, Saviour and the Lord. That is the victory of Christ over death. In the light of the Resurrection of Christ the death of man is not the cessation of being, not the traceless disappearance from the world, it is transition to a different condition. This is the joyous certitude of the eternal life in Christ and with Christ that the Resurrection of Christ gives us (John 3: 16). The God-inspired words of the Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom sound especially powerful for us: "Is it possible that the one who fully adopts the idea of Resurrection is afraid of death, is frightened by anything else?"

Our task is to accept with all our hearts the One Who came to save us. Our vocation is to be worthy of the great merciful deed of our Lord - deliverance of the human race. Today we pray that our hearts open to receive the light of Gospel, the light of our Lord Jesus Christ Resurrected.

The lightsome feast of Resurrection of Christ is a feast of reconciliation and unification of all of us in our Lord and Saviour. The appeal of Apostle Paul is addressed to us: "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32). It is with sorrow and pain in our hearts that we raise our special prayers for our brothers and sisters staying outside the salutary church unity and therefore being unable to feel the fullness of the Easter joy, so that the grace of the Lord Resurrected who reconciled the Heavens and the earth becomes the source of peace, sincere mutual understanding, toleration, true brotherhood, creativity and unification. It is my strong conviction that our society and our God-loving nation need that all of us witness in unity and consent that Christ is risen indeed!

Dearly beloved! Let's not forget that attending the Orthodox temples in these Holy days, taking part in feasts and divine services, we bring to the Christ Resurrected our gift of love, bring our joy of resurrection and compassion to the Passions of Christ, we bring Him our worship as to our King and God. As it the divine service of the Holy Easter goes, "Yesterday, O Christ, I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee. Glorify me, O Saviour, with Thee in Thy Kingdom" (the Easter Vigil). But we must keep in mind that all our gifts will be worthless if we do not become everything to Christ. It means that we are to have a living faith in Him, in His resurrection, live in adherence to His doctrine, kept and taught by the Holy Orthodox Church, keep strictly to God's will, perform ardently our everyday duties, work selflessly for the benefit of our neighbours, bring the contribution of prayer and acts of mercy, carry one's cross, given by the Lord, with patience, humbleness and devotion to the God's Providence.

In our hard and responsible time there are plenty of possibilities for the Orthodox testimony - in hospitals, prisons, houses for aged and other places where our help is necessary. But the acts of mercy, made in the glory of God and for deliverance of people will be a success only when we fully represent the Disciples of Christ. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John13: 35).

Unfortunately, our Easter joy is saddened by the secular moods that enter the church life. The discord between clergy and people imposed from outside is not a normal phenomenon in the life of the Church. The distemper and distrust which they bring about fill our heart with sorrow. We plead you not to yield the influence of the non-Orthodox forces in order not to step on the slippery and invariably false slope. We are anxious to remind you of the great sin made by those introducing the spirit of dissent into the Church, which is the Body of Christ indivisible into parts - "Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1: 23). We remind you that in the Church of Christ "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teacher..." (1 Corinthians 12: 28). Not all are apostles, not all are prophets, not all are teachers. "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will", says Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 12: 11).

In these luminous days of Pascha we as "the children of resurrection" (Luke 20: 36) together with Apostle Paul witness that we know the One in Whom we believed - in "our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1: 10). Let the Lord in Whom we believe and to Whom we trust teach us what the Christians are obliged to do for the glory of His sacred name and what to abstain from in order that our mind gets enlighten with the Easter light of Resurrection.

Dearly beloved in Christ most reverend Archpastors, pastors, honourable monkhood, brothers and sisters! I heartily congratulate you on the great and luminous feast of Resurrection of Christ! Let our Lord Jesus Christ, having shined in three days from the Life-giving tomb, the source of life and immortality, bestow upon you His great and abundant mercies and let He consider you worthy to praise His glorious and salutary Resurrection from all your pure hearts. Amen.

Christ is risen!
Indeed Christ is risen!

Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine,
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Easter of Christ
year 2008


Paschal Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Protocol 35/08

April 27, 2008

Holy Pascha
The Feast of Feasts

For since death came through a human being, The resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. (I Corinthians 15:21-22)

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is Risen!

It is with love, joy, and gratitude to God that we greet one another in these days. With the triumphant hymn, “Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life” (Troparion of the Feast of Pascha), we declare the definitive victory over sin and death. As Orthodox Christians, we celebrate the Feast of Pascha each year with the belief and the knowledge that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ remains the most important event that has ever taken place in human history. Appropriately, our Orthodox Church refers to this event as the “Feast of Feasts.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ presents us with an awesome and wondrous demonstration of the great power and eternal love of God for humankind. It is simultaneously an historic event that unfolded once in a specific time and location, yet its ramifications exceed the boundaries of time and continue to hold far-reaching, indeed cosmic levels of significance. By His death on the Cross for our salvation, His descent into Hades, and His resurrection, Jesus Christ has freed all of humanity from the bonds of sin and death, providing us all with a foretaste of eternal life in Him.

In his First Epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Paul, having detected some wrong ideas about the resurrection among the Corinthians, wrote specifically to underscore the centrality of the resurrection of Christ to the Christian faith. Saint Paul observed that some in the community of Corinth who were calling themselves Christians did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. He told them that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ too did not rise from the dead. Then, he reminded them in a strong use of language that "if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (I Corinthians 15:14-17).

In many ways, our contemporary society resembles the society in which the Corinthians lived. It offers a wide array of religious teachings, theories, and alternative understandings to the question of life after death. Because God has given to the people the freedom of conscience, we do not cast judgment on the teachings of other religions nor upon those people who hold them. We do insist, however, that on this day of Holy Pascha we are invited to come to a closer understanding of the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Christian faith and its fundamental meaning for our lives as Orthodox Christians.

My beloved faithful,

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a miraculous event of the triumph of love, and it stands at the very center of our faith. It is at once an unrepeatable event and a constant reality that assures us of the victory of Jesus Christ over death, and of life with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom.

Christ is Risen! Truly the Lord is Risen! It is my fervent prayer that throughout this Paschal period the joy and eternal peace of the Risen Christ may abide with all of you in your hearts and homes, and that our joyous celebration of His resurrection may always reinforce within us the assurance that we will be made alive in Him forever.

With my warmest Paschal wishes
And love in the Risen Christ,
Archbishop of America


Paschal Message of Metropolitan Herman of the Orthodox Church in America

Archpastoral Message
of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman for Pascha:


Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America

Dearly Beloved in the Lord,

The Gospel of St. John tells of St. Mary Magdalene's encounter with the Risen Christ at the empty tomb. St. Mary weeps, believing that someone has taken the Lord's Body away. Christ approaches her and asks her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Not recognizing the Lord at first, she asks Him if He knows where the body of her Master has been taken. Jesus replies, "Mary!" and immediately she recognizes Him.

In this passage we witness a profound encounter between the Lord and His servant. Simply by saying her name, Christ transforms St. Mary Magdalene's lamentation into joy. What a difference even one word, spoken at a critical moment, can make in one's life.

Writing on this passage, St. Ambrose of Milan offers an important insight into the nature of faith. He states that by asking St. Mary, "Whom do you seek?" the Lord was in effect saying: "You are the cause of your own weeping; you are the author of your own lamentation, because you are disbelieving of Christ. Believe and you will see Him."

Looking at the world from the perspective of belief makes a profound difference in what we see. The homeless person that we pass on the street, through eyes of faith, is recognized as a living icon of the living God. The crying child in our arms, through eyes of faith, is embraced as a sacred trust that God has given us to raise according to His Way. The struggles and toils of daily life, through eyes of faith, are known to be the Cross which we are called to take up as disciples of the Lord.

For most in our society, "Easter" is long gone this year. For faithful Orthodox Christians, we have only just arrived at the celebration of Pascha. Our fasting, our prayer, our Lenten journey is only now fulfilled.

"Believe and you will see Him." The reality of the Resurrection, witnessed through eyes of faith, changes everything. No longer do we need to be subject to sorrow or fear. Christ is risen, and nothing can take His victorious gift of everlasting life away from us. The holy confessors and martyrs were well aware of this. This awareness gave them the courage to stay the course of their faith, under the greatest of hardships. Even facing the threat of death, through eyes of faith, they were acutely aware of the Victor of death strengthening and comforting them.

It is only through our belief that we behold the full splendor and beauty of Pascha. With eyes of faith, on Pascha we become witnesses to the complete and ultimate victory of life over death, of freedom over captivity, of God over the evil one. "Trampling down death by death," our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ grants new life to all who believe in Him as King and as God.

I greet all of you on this radiant feast. May we celebrate the most-holy day of Pascha "with faith and with love." May the triumphant brilliance of Christ's resurrection fill our lives with joy and peace. "Believe and we will see Him."

With love in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada


Paschal Epistle of the Serbian Orthodox Church

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The Paschal Epistle from Patriarch Pavle and the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church:

By the grace of GodOrthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, with the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church – to all the clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our Holy Church: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, with the joyous Paschal greeting:


“Today all is filled with light,heaven and earth and the lower regions;therefore, let all creation celebrate the resurrection of Christ,for in Him we are established.”

With these words of the great church hymnographer we congratulate you all on the Feast Day of Christ’s resurrection, and greet you, dear spiritual children, with the greeting,


After Great and Holy Friday, the greatest tragedy of mankind, but also the glory of God when man became a merciless judge of God’s Love, when man judged and killed the God-Man Christ, when a lie, deceit, and delusion triumphed over the crucified Christ, when heaven and earth and the lower regions became ashamed because of the evil act of mankind, and when the darkness enwrapped everything – behold the Day of the Passover of the God-Man Christ from death to life, from the darkness of the tomb into the light of the Day. Behold the Day above all days, the Time above all times, in which He has shattered the chains of sin, death, and the devil with which mankind and all of nature were imprisoned. Behold the day of our freedom and joy! With the Resurrection of Christ, everything and all is filled with a new light of life, a light in which we are established. Therefore, let us rejoice and be glad in the Lord’s Pascha, the Feast Day of freedom and life. Those imprisoned by darkness most of all rejoice in the freedom of light. With the Resurrection of Christ, the centuries old injustice brought upon man by sin and death has been conquered. The holy apostle Paul, overtaken by the resurrectional delight, victoriously asks: O death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory? They are no more! For the sting of death has been broken, and Hades has been emptied, and the prisoners of Hades have been freed.

The light of the world has shone forth from the tomb like the Sun, just as before the passion it had shone on Mount Tabor. Let all creation rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ, for through its might the weak and helpless become strong and powerful. In the Resurrection of Christ the entire universe has been changed. This is why the Resurrection is a new creation of the world and a new birth of man, this time from the very Life which the Resurrected Christ bestows upon the world and man. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” says the Lord of Himself.

The Resurrected Lord appeared to the myrrhbearing women and the frightened apostles, who out of fear of the Jews had run away. And gathering them again around Himself, He fortified their faith by saying to them: Do not fear, I have conquered the world! — the world which only a few days earlier had condemned Him and crucified Him on the Cross. In like manner, He today and always gathers all of us around Himself and says to us: do not be afraid, for I have conquered the world! Having seen and experienced the glory of Him resurrected, let us glorify Him and proclaim to the world: Christ is risen, O ye people! Christ is Risen, let us glorify Him! Christ is Risen, believe O ye people, for “we proclaim that which our eyes have seen, and our hands have touched” as the holy apostle and evangelist John the Theologian says, “so that you too believing may have eternal life”. Our faith is the faith of the cross-resurrection experience. We know, and this is why we believe. The knowledge obtained through experience is the greatest confirmation of faith.

Before his suffering, burial and resurrection, our Lord brought three of his disciples to the peak of a very high mountain. That was Mount Tabor. On this mountain, in the mystery of His transfiguration, He revealed to them the mystery of His divine nature within Him, the nature which they and the entire world would come to know through experience after His resurrection. The manifestation of the divine nature and glory was accompanied with the light of the uncreated grace which is in Christ and which the world has received through the Resurrection of Christ. The world without Christ is a world of darkness. The world with the resurrected Christ is a world of eternal light, the light which enlightens every part of our soul and our entire being. This is why we are children of the light. From Him Who is the Light of Life we have received light to shine forth in this world. This is why the Lord says to us: “May your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify our Father Who is in heaven”.

Only the resurrected Christ is the cornerstone of our faith and of our life. At the same time He is the cornerstone and divine-human head of our holy Church. Another stone has no one laid, nor can anyone lay. When the disciples asked St. John the Baptist whether the Christ was the One which was to come or whether they should wait for another one, he said to them: His sandal strap I am not worthy to loose! The holy prophet, forerunner, and baptizer of the Lord St. John said this — he who laid his hand upon the head of the Savior. If then he who is the greatest ever born of woman said this, how is it then that somebody can proclaim himself the visible head of the Church, infallible and vicar of the Son of God here on earth? God forbid! Our Holy Church with all her priests and the faithful people stands firmly in the Christ-Resurrected Faith of the holy prophets, apostles, martyrs and saints. At the same time, we are the Church to which God gives strength to be a Church of dialogue with all people and nations, calling all of them to the enlightenment of with the light of the Resurrected Christ. We do not withdraw within ourselves, nor do we shut in Christ within the narrow confines of our mind. On the contrary, we shine the light upon the world and witness the Truth to others, as did the holy apostles, saints, and martyrs. This is how the world recognizes that we are Christ’s, for the Holy Apostle Paul says: “I was everything to all in order to gain somebody for the Gospel of Christ…”

What is the resurrection of Christ for us who live 2000 years after it happened? Is it only a recollection or memory? Is it only a celebration, or is it something more and something deeper? The grace of Christ’s resurrection is the inexhaustible fountain of the salvation of man and of the world in every place and age. It is the absolute and complete change of man and of the world that the God-Man Christ has brought with his coming and resurrection. So then, Christ’s Resurrection has the same and equal strength and power for us today, 20 centuries later, as it did for His contemporaries. The Holy Apostle Paul assures us that we eternally live with Christ, for “…through one Man’s righteous act [that is, the resurrection] the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” (Romans 5:18) “…Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him…likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6: 9-11). The past, the present, and the future have been saved by the Resurrection.

In these days of Paschal joy, in this time of divine mercy toward all and everybody, we cannot but remember the human injustice and violence of the mighty of this world inflicted upon our Kosovo and Metohija, our Serbia and the entire Serbian nation. Kosovo and Metohija are an integral part of every Serb’s life, as every Serb is a part of Kosovo and Metohija. Knowing this, the creators of this historic injustice wanted to inflict the deepest possible wound, unbearable pain and suffering, the pain and suffering which directs us to the single, salvific suffering on Golgotha of our Lord.

Kosovo and Metohija is not only a question of Serbian territory. Above all it is a question of our spiritual beings, because we were born, grew, lived and matured with Kosovo and Metohija as individuals and as a nation. We have lived and died by the Kosovo testament: “The earthly kingdom is transient, while the heavenly kingdom is forever!” This is why the question of Kosovo and Metohija is so vitally, psychologically and anthropologically connected with every one of us. This is well known to the mighty of this world, and this is why they collectively wish to hurt and punish the Serbian Orthodox people; they wish to break and crush them in order to make out of us a defaced mass ready to fall down on our knees before them, surrendering to their will and manipulation. By submitting ourselves to Christ’s will and His teachings, we bring light upon their unlawful acts, their hypocrisy, similar in many ways to Pilate’s washing of hands in the blood of the Righteous One.

Having Kosovo and Metohija in our hearts and our unceasing care for our brothers and sisters and all those that suffer there, having a living Kosovo and Metohija within ourselves day and night, no one will take them away from us. The Homeland is the heart of man, says one poet. Within our hearts we have placed Kosovo and Metohija. We call upon all Orthodox Serbs to fulfill the Kosovo covenant in full, and that is the Holy Lazar’s testament. If we complete that covenant no one will take Kosovo and Metohija away from us, neither in this nor that age, just as no one could have taken Holy Jerusalem from the Jewish people. We call upon all of you, beginning with politicians and scholars down to the most humble and youngest sons and daughters of our Homeland, that with their work and honorable lives we be deserving of and preserve Kosovo and Metohija before God.

Let scholars with their scientific work defend Kosovo and Metohija; let artists with their creativeness express the beauty and the essence of our Kosovo and Metohija; let athletes vow their successes to Kosovo and Metohija; let every parent have Kosovo and Metohija be a first word to whisper in his newborn’s ears; let every farmer dedicate his first hour of labor to Kosovo and Metohija; let every worker dedicate his first hour of work to Kosovo and Metohija; let every politician dedicate his first political thought to Kosovo and Metohija, let every pastor offer his first prayer to God for Kosovo and Metohija!

This is the call to the unending battle that will be well pleasing to God, and our prayer will be heard by God, for we do not give the question of Kosovo and Metohija into the hands of deceiving people and their interests, but rather to God and His judgment. Just as the Psalmist of old sings of the unjustly taken and destroyed Jerusalem, we too must sing in the spirit of the Kosovo covenant: If we forget you Kosovo, if we forget you Metohija, let then the right hand of the Lord forget me! Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not put forward Kosovo and Metohija as the beginning of my joy.

Dear spiritual children, we live in a hard and critical time of globalization, in a time of the abolishing of basic human rights: the right of man to life; the right of a baby to be born; the right of parents to raise and guide their children; the right of a mother to be a loving and caring mother of her children and a wife to her husband, the right of man to be a man! A strange civilization of globalization is being created according to the measure of deformed moral values, that is, immorality, without the yeast which gives human life eternal meaning. Such a civilization which is in direct opposition to the Resurrected Christ and His Gospel cannot survive. Being mindful of this, let us be wise and cautious when we approach this strange table of worldly offers and delights. Let us choose wisely only that which is worthy of Christ; let us choose that which is worthy of our calling and dignity. Let us refuse all that is of pseudo-civilization, distorted and inhuman, just as Christ refused all the offers of the Devil: if you bow down to me all this that you see will be yours! We know the true answer: It is written: serve only God, and to Him only bow down!

We especially greet our brothers in the diaspora: in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Europe. We greet and call them to unite in our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, that they never again let others divide them and make them quarrel among themselves.

We also greet our brothers and sisters in the Republika Srpska and Bosna and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. We greet the entire Church of God spread throughout the world and among people of good will. We call all to peace, unity and a good witness before all those outside. Let us renew ourselves with the resurrected Christ, and let us shine with good and virtue in this world. Gathered at the Divine Liturgy, in good witnessing of the Truth, let brother embrace brother, let us greet one another, heaven, and earth, with the all-joyous greeting:

Christ Is Risen!
Indeed He Is Risen!

Given at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade at Pascha 2008.
Your prayerful intercessors before the Crucified and Resurrected Lord:
Archbishop of Pec,
Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
Serbian Patriarch PAVLE
Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana JOVAN
Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coastlands AMPHILOHIJE
Metropolitan of Midwestern America CHRISTOPHER
Metropolitan of Dabro-Bosna NIKOLAJ
Bishop of Sabac LAVRENTIJE
Bishop of Nis IRINEJ
Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla VASILIJE
Bishop of Srem VASILIJE
Bishop of Banja Luka JEFREM
Bishop of Budim LUKIJAN
Bishop of Canada GEORGIJE
Bishop of Banat NIKANOR
Bishop for America and Canada (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) LONGIN
Bishop of Eastern America MITROPHAN
Bishop of Zica CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Backa IRINEJ
Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia DOSITEJ
Bishop of Ras and Prizren ARTEMIJE
Retired Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina ATANASIJE
Bishop of Bihac and Petrovac CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Osijek and Baranja LUKIJAN
Bishop of Central Europe CONSTANTINE
Bishop of Western Europe LUKA
Bishop of Timok JUSTIN
Bishop of Vranje PAHOMIJE
Bishop of Sumadija JOVAN
Bishop of Slavonia SAVA
Bishop of Branicevo IGNATIJE
Bishop of Milesevo FILARET
Bishop of Dalmatia FOTIJE
Bishop of Budimlje and Niksic JOANIKIJE
Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina GRIGORIJE
Bishop of Valjevo MILUTIN
Bishop of Western America MAXIM
Bishop of Gornji Karlovci GERASIM
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand IRINEJ
Vicar Bishop of Hvostno ATANASIJE
Vicar Bishop of Jegar PORFIRIJE
Vicar Bishop of Lipljan TEODOSIJE
Vicar Bishop of Dioclea JOVAN
Vicar Bishop of Moravica ANTONIJE
Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje JOVAN
Bishop of Polos and Kumanovo JOAKIM
Bishop of Bregal MARKO


Paschal Encyclical Letter of THEODOROS II, Patriarch of Alexandria

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Encyclical Letter for Holy Pascha 2008 of THEODOROS II, Patriarch of Alexandria:

By the Grace of God, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, to the plenitude of our Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne, Grace and Mercy and Peace from our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.

Beloved and blessed children of the Lord,

Christ is risen!

The venerable Passion of our Lord and His world-saving Resurrection that our Church honours again and celebrates, is the only way toward the true redemption of man. The voluntary sacrifice of the Word of God, receives meaning in His resurrection from the dead. Death is defeated. The soul of man is redeemed and now has the potential of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the aim of man’s life on earth.

These Holy Days of Great Week elevate our souls and lead us to spiritual rebirth. The Lord’s path of martyrdom shows us that meekness, humility, patience, the possibility of forgiveness and love, lead man to God.

After His voluntary sacrifice, the Risen Lord appears first to His disciples. His greeting contains God’s great gift to man. It contains the most significant element of our soul – Peace. With His greeting “Peace to you”, Jesus appears to His troubled and frightened disciples.

It is not necessary for others to teach us about the importance of peace – whether this peace is among persons, families, in society, among nations, in humanity. No one of us willingly chooses to have trouble and disturbance, whether personal or in the home. Those of us, not fortunate enough to have peace in our hearts and in our families are able to comprehend this as the calamity it is.

Man, on his own, is not able to obtain the required peace. One of the reasons and purposes of Christ’s presence in the world is to make this peace possible to us through faith and love and moral fortitude. We, the faithful, attain this through His sacrifice.

Worldly peace is unstable, hypocritical, full of small, temporal interests and profits and a myriad of other evils. Peace is not possible merely through an absence of war, or through the absence of an external enemy. It is not possible when our souls are troubled, when our marriages and morals are shaken, when daily there are murders, thefts, infidelities, turmoil and ingratitude.

What is this peace of Christ that is offered by His Resurrection? It is man’s openness and goodwill towards God and man’s goodwill towards his fellow-man, through the mediation of the Peacemaker – Christ. It is from Christ and through Christ that we realize a life of repentance, love, righteousness and justice.

The Peace of Jesus fills our heart and mind. It is accompanied by righteousness and love. It creates solidarity among the faithful, the willingness to serve one another and assist one another in all life’s goals. It is followed by meekness and a temper that is slow to anger. The peace of Jesus in our souls is the sweetest companion in our lives, day and night.

The Lord’s Resurrection calls us to Church. On Holy Thursday evening, lifting our eyes towards the Crucified One, our souls feel calmness radiating from the Suffering Lord and seek a harbor of salvation. The Risen Lord shows us the way of salvation with the Resurrectional Greeting “Peace be to you”.

My beloved and blessed children in the Lord – Greeks, Arabs and Africans throughout the African Continent,

On these Holy Days I send you my love and I pray that the peace of the Risen Lord finds its home in the hearts of all.

The Lord is truly risen!

† Τ h e o d o r o s II
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria
Holy Pasha 2008


Paschal Epistle of Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW

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Protocol Number 477

+ B A R T H O L O M E W


Dearly beloved Brethren and Children in the Lord,

“Behold, the winter has passed!” (1) “Arisen is the spring” of salvation; “flowers appear across the land, the sound of the turtle-dove is heard, … the vines are in bloom and give forth their fragrance”. (2) A sacred Pascha -- great and holy -- has arisen; and it warms, lights and makes radiant the world. “Now all things are filled with light, both heaven and earth and the nethermost regions of the earth.” (3)


Our God, Who is beyond all suffering and is Immortal, Who is the comely Bridegroom of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Firstborn Brother and Dearest Friend -- “He is risen from the dead, having trampled down death by death” -- three days after He cried out from the crest of the Cross: “It is consummated!” (4) “Hades was embittered when it encountered” Him (5), because Christ destroyed his lordship. As God, He rightly emptied out his chambers of darkness, freely bestowing life on those He found in the tombs. But not only this; to all those who believe in Him from then until the consummation of the age -- indeed to all those who live in Him and hold fast their faith and confession in Him until the end, the Lord grants everlasting life and a sure resurrection. Christ, “Who has girded His loins with righteousness and clothed his sides with truth,” (6) is Risen from the Tomb. “As the One Who loves mankind, He has raised up Adam, the father of us all.” (7)

Behold then, dearly beloved brethren and children, the crown of our Great Feast and the atmosphere of springtime; in the midst of its first bloom the Church announces the Good News to the Universe. The heavy winter of death has passed away! The icy tyranny of the devil and his domination have been overcome. The frightful reign of darkness and perdition has been undone. “The Lord is King, He has girded Himself with majesty!” (8)

We behold Jesus Who, of His own free will, out of His unconditional love, suffered on the Cross, died and was buried for our sake and for our salvation. We have just now worshipped Him Risen from the dead, and together with the Apostles and the Myrrh-Bearers we have heard from His holy mouth the words: “Peace be unto you!” (9) and “Rejoice!” (10) -- and our hearts are filled with joy. Indeed, “no one will take our joy from us,” (11) because more than even our own, the personal death of every single human being has been mightily abolished. This is why we, who have crucified the carnal mindset of the old person “together with the passions and lusts,” (12) and “who have died with Christ: this is the reason we believe that we [shall] live with Him.” (13) For as “we have been buried” with Christ “through Baptism,” (14) we have become “planted with Him,” that is, we have become partakers of His Resurrection. (15)

St. Gregory the Theologian trumpets this truth with the highest rhetorical skill when he says: “Yesterday I was crucified with You, O Christ; today I abound with glory. Yesterday I died with You; today I am filled with life. Yesterday I was buried with You; today I arise with You.” (16) That which has plagued us from ages past has once and for all been resolved by the Risen Lord. Our agony is over. “Christ is Risen, and life can truly be lived!” (17) From now on, Life and our Resurrection are not things to be sought for – not dreams, neither a utopia. From here on, Life is, and the Resurrection is: concrete, tangible reality. A reality that has a specific face and name: “a name above every name” -- Jesus Christ-- before Whom “every knee shall bow – whether in Heaven or on earth or under the earth,” (18) and every tongue shall confess that He alone is Life-Giver and Lord. He is the One Who lives and reigns forever. He is the One Who by His ever-favorable will distributes His Kingdom, His glory and His inheritance from His Father, to all who share in His Cross, His death and His Resurrection, as “He is the Firstborn to many brethren.” (19)

Him do we beseech, from our Martyric Patriarchal and Ecumenical See, that He grace the world with peace; that He illumine the souls of men with truth and righteousness; that He bestow patience and encouragement on those who face adversity; and that He grant the taste of salvation and life eternal to all believers.

Unto Him, Who is the Conqueror of Death and the Prince of Life, be the glory, dominion, honor and worship, together with Father and the Holy Spirit, unto the ages. Amen.

Holy Pascha 2008

BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople

Your fervent intercessor
before the Risen Christ

To be read in the Churches during the Divine Liturgy of the Feast of Holy Pascha, immediately after the Holy Gospel.

1. Song of Songs 2:11
2. Song of Songs 2:12-13
3. Canon of Pascha
4. St. John 19:30
5. Isaiah 14:9
6. Isaiah 11:5
7. Service of the Resurrection
8. Psalm 92:1
9. St. John 20:20
10. St. Matthew 28:9
11. Cf. St. John16:22
12. Galatians 5:24
13. Romans 6:8
14. Romans 6:4
15. Romans 6:5
16. Homily on Holy Pascha
17. Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom
18. Philippians 2:9
19. Romans 8:29


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

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SYDNEY: April 25, 2008

The Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, Deputy of the President of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Most Reverend brother-archpastors, all-honorable fathers, beloved-in-the-Lord brothers, sisters and children,


With the overwhelming feeling of Paschal jubilation I greet all of you with the great and salvific feast of the Lord’s Pascha, which instills in us the firm conviction of our immortality and hope of future blessed resurrection!

In exchanging the Paschal kiss with you today, I prayerfully desire that the joy of the Risen Christ strengthen all of us, since we have been orphaned following the untimely repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, who in the morning of the Triumph of Orthodoxy pronounced in spirit together with the Apostle Paul: “My desire is to part and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). As written in the Holy Scriptures, death for a person is repose. Though we weep over the parting, our sorrow is now filled with faith, hope and the Paschal reality; we know that death is a temporary slumber, a slumber for the body which will arise on the last day of history, and a time of rejoicing for the liberated righteous soul.

Since we have the firm conviction that after this brief life comes another, eternal life, where God will bless us with heavenly joy and will comfort those who have patiently borne temporal sorrows and sufferings, no manner of death or misfortune which comes our way can be too burdensome. Death itself is not fearful to a person who has complete hope in blessed resurrection: death for him is the path to the longed-for union with Christ. Amidst the fiery temptations which assail an Orthodox Christian, the Christian rejoices in suffering with Christ, being steadfastly assured that in the appearance of Christ in His glory, he will rejoice and be triumphant. Remembrance of the future life and hope of blessed resurrection serve as strong incentives and sure means towards moral perfection and spiritual achievement. If we remember well that our homeland is in heaven, while here we are only temporary guests, we will cease living only for our bodily pleasure. We will cease observing the commandments only outwardly, being honest, truthful, or benevolent solely out of temporal calculations, but will fulfill our duty of serving God and neighbor unselfishly and without seeking recompense.

One of the ancient teachers of monasticism, Abba Evagrius, offers us the following admonition: “The Passover [Pascha] of the Lord is the passing from evil to good. Let us also bring Him some God-pleasing gift.” This gift can take the form of active love, active works of charity and self-sacrifice, when we dedicate our life to Christ, His Church and our neighbor, and gaining inspiration, maintaining constant zeal for the struggle to do good. In perfecting ourselves in virtue, we will be able to preserve in our hearts faithfulness to God, the Church and those around us, as well as dedication to the blessed memory of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, who gave us an example of love, humility and goodness.

Therefore, beloved-in-the-Lord fellow archpastors, reverend fathers, brothers, sisters and children, let us establish ourselves firmly on the radiant path of virtue, remembering the words of the Apostle Peter: “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4). Let us turn our minds and hearts to the heavenly Jerusalem, our heavenly homeland—and the thought of our high calling will enlighten the dark paths of our life, grant us consolation and peace amid the sorrows of this world and bring us joy and delight.

Once again I congratulate all of you with this “Feast of feasts,” and sincerely desire that the flock of the Russian Church Abroad, as well as our brothers and sisters in Russia and in all the world, enjoy these most wondrous days in good health and well-being, guarded by the victorious power of the Life, Righteousness, Holiness, Goodness and Divine Beauty radiating from the Life-giving Tomb of the Lord, the Enlightener of our souls!

With Paschal joy in the Risen Christ and the request for your holy prayers,

Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand
Christ’s Pascha 2008


The Paschal Message of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia

The Paschal Message of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics and All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

Come, O people, let us hymn the Saviour’s resurrection on the third day, through which we have been released from the indestructible bonds of hades and all received incorruption and life, crying aloud: O thou who wast crucified, buried and rose again, save us through thy resurrection, O thou alone who lovest mankind!
Stanza for Lord, I have cried… for Vespers of Tuesday of Bright Week

Beloved in the risen Christ Your Graces the archpastors, God-loving presbyters, deacons, honourable monks and nuns, pious Orthodox laymen and women – faithful children of the Church!

From the depths of my heart I congratulate all of you, my dear ones, on Christ’s bright resurrection – the most joyful feast for Orthodox Christians. Again our churches are replete with Paschal rejoicing. Again and again we relive the great mystery of the Redemption that has liberated those who follow Christ from the dominion of sin and death. As St Peter the Apostle says, our Lord and Saviour who himself ‘bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness’ (1 Pet 2:24).

How great is God’s love for us! He has not abandoned those who have abandoned him. By his suffering and death he has purified those who have deviated from him in choosing life according to their own desires. He has opened up the way of repentance and spiritual rebirth to those worn down by sin - the way to Life eternal. Let us give thanks to the Lord for his mercy and love for humanity. Let us give thanks as loving children who can take refuge from calamity and danger in the Father’s House.

Since ancient times Christians have understood Pascha to be a transition, a Passover. ‘The Passover, the Passover of the Lord! From death unto life, and from earth unto heaven hath Christ our God brought us over, singing a song of victory!’ the Holy Church sings today. According to our faith and our boldness, according to our love towards Christ and each other we are granted a transition from death to eternal being, from slavery to sin to the freedom of fulfillment of God’s will.

Whole nations spiritually sustained by our Holy Church accomplish this saving transition too. From the darkness of unbelief they are approaching the light of Christ in being spiritually reborn and renewed. There are in our homeland and beyond its borders in the great Russian diaspora more and more people who have in Christ ‘life… in abundance’ (Jn 10:10), which means genuinely happy people enjoying the truth of the fullness of life.

Yes, we still have to labour much in Christ’s vineyard. Yet your spreading of the Word and good deeds, my beloved ones, have brought forth fruit a hundredfold and many of you have worthily heard the Lord’s words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master’ (Mt 25:21)

The focal point of our faith, of our witness to the world, of our whole life is the good news of Christ’s resurrection. Paschal joy was the sole spiritual condition of our saints. St. Seraphim of Sarov greeted all those who approached him with the words: ‘My joy, Christ is risen!’ St. John of Kronstadt, the hundred and eightieth anniversary of whose birth and hundredth anniversary of whose blessed repose we celebrate this current year, was known by the people as the ‘Paschal Father.’ ‘I love to gaze upon,’ he wrote in his diary, ‘the image of the risen Giver of Life holding the cross banner, this symbol of victory over death and the one who has the power of death – the devil. O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory? How glorious is the Victor!’

Let us then tread yet more firmly the way of Christ, fulfilling the apostles’ commandment, ‘Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Pet 1:10-11). And no matter how difficult we find it along this path, let us not fall into despondency, ‘knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise up us also with Jesus and bring with you into his presence’ (2 Cor 4:14). This radiant hope will illumine the lives of our families, communities and peoples with a spiritual light, and both peace and happiness will reign in our homes, cities and towns.

Today, as my heart is full with this great joy, I congratulate all of you, my dear ones, on the feast of Holy Pascha, addressing you with the eternal words of the greeting from apostolic times, passed on from generation to generation:


I hasten to share the Paschal rejoicing with all Orthodox peoples of the world, with each person who calls upon the name of Christ in prayer. May our joy touch those who are but seeking saving faith and striving to live with Orthodox Christians in peace and goodneighbourliness.

May the risen Christ our Saviour grant to all of us peace, spiritual joy, health, salvation and furtherance in all good things.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia



Christ is Risen!

Photo Source

Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered!

A sacred Pascha today hath been shown unto us:
a Pascha new and holy,
a Pascha mystical,
a Pascha all venerable,
a Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer;
a Pascha immaculate, a great Pascha;
a Pascha of the faithful;
a Pascha that hath opened the gates of Paradise unto us;
a Pascha that doth sanctify all the faithful.

As smoke vanisheth so let them vanish!

Come from the vision, O ye women, bearers of good tidings, and say ye unto Sion: receive from us the good tidings of the Resurrection of Christ; adorn thyself,exult, and rejoice, O Jerusalem, for thou hast seen Christ the King come forth from the tomb like a bridegroom in procession.

So let sinners perish at the presence of God and let the righteous be glad!

The myrrh-bearing women in the deep dawn stood before the tomb of the Giver of life;they found an angel sitting upon the stone, and he, speaking to them, said thus: Why seek ye the living among the dead? Why mourn ye the incorruptible amid corruption? Go, proclaim unto His disciples.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad

Pascha the beautiful, Pascha, the Lord's Pascha, the Pascha all-venerable hath dawned upon us. Pascha, with joy let us embrace one another. O Pascha! Ransom from sorrow,for from the tomb today, as from a bridal chamber hath Christ shone forth, and hath filled the women with joy, saying: proclaim unto the apostles.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant for the feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us say: Brethren, even to them that hate us, let us forgive all things on the Resurrection, and thus let us cry out:

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, And on those in
the tombs bestowing life.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Byzantine Chant from Great and Holy Saturday

Here is a video featuring a Byzantine Chant setting of the hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh" which is sung as the Cherubic Hymn on Great and Holy Saturday.

An English translation of the Greek text is:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; ponder nothing earthly-minded, for the King of kings, the Lord of lords, will give to all the faithful His own self for heavenly food. Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way, the Principalities, the Authorities, the Cherubim with countless eyes, the six-winged Seraphim, veil their faces to the presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry: Alleluia

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Byzantine Chant from Great and Holy Friday

Here is a video of a beautifully chanted setting of "Simeron Kremate" which is sung on Great and Holy Friday.

This hymn is chanted by Haris Symeonidis at the Church of the Prophet Elias in Thessalonike, Greece.

An English translation of the Greek text is:

"Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the Cross. He who is King of the angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery. He who in Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon His face. The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ. Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection."

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fortieth Day Commemoration for Metropolitan Laurus

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Today is the fortieth day of the repose of Metropolitan Laurus of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The ROCOR website states that:

"Today is the fortieth day of the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, who departed to the Lord on the day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. This fortieth day falls on Great Thursday, the day our Lord Jesus Christ established the Mystery of the Eucharist, when the believer is in closest communion with God. On this day, He raised his Priestly prayers, during which the Lord commanded us: “That they all be as one.” The late Vladyka was a pious celebrant of the Divine Liturgy, and his life, his monastic podvig and many years of episcopal service were crowned by his direct participation in the great deed of the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church, and thereby manifested the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

In accordance with the rule of church services, which His Eminence Vladyka loved, the Synod of Bishops decided that today, His Eminence shall be commemorated at the Proskomedia and during the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy of Great Thursday, and a solemn pannikhida is to be served on the Day of Rejoicing [Radonitsa].

May the Lord keep his bright soul in repose in the abode of the righteous!" - Source


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Crawfish Festival

Last Friday night I dropped by the Texas Crawfish & Music Festival in Old Town Spring.

After a few detours while trying to find a parking space (the alternative parking advertised by the road signs is nearly impossible to find in the dark of night) I arrived at the Festival.

The main street through Old Town Spring was absolutely packed with people. It seemed like there were more people enjoying the sights outside the festival than there were inside.

Once inside the festival grounds I wandered over to the Texas stage to hear The Band of Heathens.

The guys were a few songs into their set when I arrived. The band played a number of new songs from their forthcoming cd which should be a good one.

They also played several songs from their earlier cds including: "Bumblebee", "Judas 'Scariot Blues", their version of the prison song "Ain't No More Cane", and "Blood in the Water".


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Replica of Ethiopian Orthodox Church at iFest

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While looking over the iFest Houston website I came across this interesting post.

A replica of one of the stone churches of Ethiopia will be on display at the Festival.

The replica will be of the Church of St. George in Lalibela. The post mentions that the replica will be 22 feet high and and the festival goers will be able to walk inside it. The replica will also include: "Ethiopian Christian murals painted on the inside with incense burning and traditional liturgical chants playing."

Sounds pretty cool to me!

The post also correctly makes note of the fact that "...Christianity was in Africa long before colonization...". This is an important detail that should not be forgotten when considering the history of Christianity in Africa.



It's that time of year again...festival time.

There are some great festivals going on over the next two weekends in the Houston area.

Starting tomorrow the Texas Crawfish and Music Festival kicks off in Old Town Spring.

For this weekend only the Stingaree Music Festival will be held at Crystal Beach.

The festival is the brainchild of Hayes Carll and the lineup features: Bonnie Bishop, Gurf Morlix, Corb Lund, the Sideshow Tramps, Wrecks Bell, Mando Saenz, Eliza Gilkyson, the dedringers, Will Kimbrough, and Terry Allen among others.

and finally iFest Houston kicks off this weekend in downtown Houston. This year the festival's theme is "Out of Africa". The music lineup features acts such as: The Neville Brothers, Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys, The Wailers, Buddy Guy, Sonny Boy Terry, Charlie Musselwhite, Red Stick Ramblers, the Jones Family Singers, and Sugar Bayou.


Monday, April 14, 2008

This Hard Land

Well I was not able to make tonight's Bruce Springsteen concert at the Toyota Center.

Hmmm...maybe I should sue over that. : )

Anyway, here is a video from 1995 of Bruce and the band performing "This Hard Land" which references the old Liberty Hall which used to be located just outside downtown Houston.


Couldn't Get Tickets to a Hannah Montana Concert?....Sue Her Fan Club

While researching this post I stumbled across this brilliant idea for a lawsuit.

That's right...if you were a member of the Hannah Montana fan club (now what adult is going to admit to that...seriously) and you couldn't get tickets to one of her concerts because it sold out...then you too can join a class-action lawsuit against her fan club.

Don't believe me...well you can read the complaint here.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Glory of Decani Monastery, Part Two

...and here is part two of the documentary on Visoki Decani Monastery in Kosovo.

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The Glory of Decani Monastery

Here is part one of a documentary on the remarkable Visoki Decani Monastery in Kosovo and its monastics.

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Former war crimes prosecutor alleges Kosovan army harvested organs from Serb prisoners

"Prisoners were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source pleaded, terrified, to be killed immediately,"

According to Del Ponte, a local Albanian prosecutor, who visited the house with the UN team, told her: "No Serbs are buried here. But if they did bring Serbs over the border from Kosovo and killed them, they did a good thing."

Article from The Guardian:

Former war crimes prosecutor alleges Kosovan army harvested organs from Serb prisoners

· 300 killed in 'house-clinic' in Albania, says Del Ponte
· Demands for investigation over claim in memoirs

Carla Del Ponte, the ex-chief prosecutor for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, has unleashed a storm of recrimination with allegations of a trade in human body parts in Kosovo and Albania after Nato bombed Serbia in 1999.

Del Ponte claims, based on what she describes as credible reports and witnesses, that Kosovan Albanian guerrillas transported hundreds of Serbian prisoners into northern Albania where they were killed, and their organs "harvested" and trafficked out of Tirana airport.

The Kosovan government, now headed by the former guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci, dismisses the claims as untrue, while Serbia and Russia are demanding a war crimes investigation into the allegations. Del Ponte, now a Swiss ambassador, has been ordered to keep silent by the Swiss government.

The allegations are aired in Del Ponte's just published memoirs of her eight years as chief prosecutor for the international war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia, based in The Hague.

The Hunt: Me and War Criminals, which is published in Italian and was launched last week, has triggered controversy and added to the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia two months after the Albanian-majority province declared independence from Serbia.

In the book, Del Ponte writes that her investigators visited a house in the remote mountainous region outside Burrel, Albania, which was allegedly being used as an impromptu clinic for the butchering of 300 young Serbs captured by the Kosovo Liberation Army and transported in lorries across the border from Kosovo to Albania.

According to witnesses - including one who said he had driven some of the organs to Tirana airport, and a team of unnamed journalists who investigated the allegations - the victims had their kidneys removed before being killed later and having other organs taken.

"Prisoners were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source pleaded, terrified, to be killed immediately," Del Ponte writes.

The "house-clinic" was visited by UN officials from Kosovo and tribunal investigators. "The team was shocked by what they saw," said Chuck Sudetic, a former tribunal official who is joint author of the book. "They found gauze and vials of medicines, including a muscle relaxer used during surgery."

Witness accounts, indirectly provided to Del Ponte, indicated that some of the victims were buried near the house and at a nearby cemetery. Forensic tests in the house revealed traces of blood, but investigators were unable to establish whether it was human blood. The victims were said to include Albanians and trafficked women from Russia and eastern Europe forced to work as prostitutes.

Del Ponte has long complained that the UN authorities in Kosovo blocked her attempts to investigate war crimes by Kosovan Albanians and she says that the authorities in Albania were also unhelpful. The most senior Kosovan Albanian to be tried for war crimes in The Hague, Ramush Haradinaj, a former prime minister of Kosovo and ex-guerrilla commander, was acquitted last week, sparking bitter protests in Serbia.

According to Del Ponte, a local Albanian prosecutor, who visited the house with the UN team, told her: "No Serbs are buried here. But if they did bring Serbs over the border from Kosovo and killed them, they did a good thing."

The alleged organ harvesting is said to have been uncovered by journalists who called in the UN in Kosovo and provided information to the tribunal.

"There were credible accounts of abductions and an organ harvesting operation provided to reputable journalists who have had many years of experience in the region," said Sudetic.

The journalists refused to identify their witnesses. Other sources claim the body parts were flown to Istanbul where they were transplanted into wealthy Arab patients.

Del Ponte's account is the first time such allegations have come from such an authoritative source. But officials and analysts are surprised that she should choose to air them now, five years after her investigators went to the alleged scene of the crime. Del Ponte writes that it proved impossible at the time to pursue a full investigation of the claims.

"I am surprised at the extraordinary serious allegations," said one senior tribunal official. "These allegations have formed no part of any investigation by the prosecution at the tribunal."

Mirko Klarin, an authority on the tribunal and Balkan war crimes at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, described Del Ponte's allegations as "irresponsible and appalling ... This is more journalistic than prosecutorial. She shouldn't put rumours in her book."

The Swiss foreign ministry barred Del Ponte, now its ambassador to Argentina, from attending her book launch and ordered her to keep quiet. Senior Swiss figures are calling for her resignation.

"All I know is that she was eager to talk about the book after its publication," said Sudetic.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which mediates confidential talks between Serbia and Kosovo to try to locate and identify those who vanished in the 1998-99 war, there are still 1,967 people missing. The majority are believed to be Kosovan Albanians. The 300 Serbs said to have been transported to Burrel would constitute a large part of the missing Serbs.
While there is widespread scepticism about the veracity of the claims, Human Rights Watch said Del Ponte had supplied "sufficiently grave evidence" to warrant an investigation by the Kosovo and Albanian authorities.

"Perhaps by bringing this story out now, the witnesses will step forward," said Sudetic. "Perhaps the persons who are responsible for the abductions will worry about the law catching up with them. Any persons who may have taken part in the alleged organ harvesting will sleep a little less soundly."

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fort Worth Blues

Here is another great song from the Austin City Limits tribute concert in memory of Townes Van Zandt.

Steve Earle sings his song "Fort Worth Blues" written about Townes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Attorney Says Dr. Harron Did Nothing Wrong

The attorney for Dr. Ray Harron, whose diagnoses of asbestosis and silicosis have come under scrutiny in recent years, says his client has done nothing wrong.

This claim comes out of a lawsuit involving CSX Transportation, Dr. Harron and a Pennsylvania plaintiffs law firm.

This article from the West Virginia State Journal has the details.

As the article states:

"Jerald Jones, an attorney with the law offices of West & Jones in Clarksburg, said his client, Dr. Ray Harron, never made diagnoses of the incurable lung ailments silicosis and asbestosis."

"He just said the reading is consistent with silicosis and asbestosis," Jones said, adding, "He didn't make a diagnosis of anything."

So he apparently got paid at the rate of $125 an X-ray not to make a diagnosis of anything.

Nice gig.

Since he did nothing wrong, one wonders why he agreed to surrender his medical license in Texas, or why some asbestos claims trust funds have barred use of his medical reports.

Earlier posts regarding Dr. Harron can be found here.

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