13 April 2012
In this image from 2001, Ruthenian Greek Catholics celebrate the paschal mystery in the village of Tichy Potok in Slovakia. (photo: Jacqueline Ruyuak)
Today is Good Friday for some Christians in the East and this Sunday, 15 April, marks Easter. We explored date discrepancy on the blog post earlier in the week. Holy Week celebrations not only occur on different dates, but the rituals may also be different, depending on the particular church and region. Despite these differences for these high holy days, the deep meaning remains universal.
In the March/April 2001 issue of the magazine, journalist Jacqueline Ruayk wrote about her Easter experience in the small village of Tichy Potok in Slovakia:
Despite the early morning chill and fog, the day turns bright and glorious. By late morning, one corner of the churchyard, crowded with baby carriages and parents, has become a nursery al fresco. All, even the babies, are dressed in their finest for the Easter Divine Liturgy.
After the liturgy, the parishioners file through the left arch of the iconostasis, where the priest uses myrrh to make the sign of the Cross on their foreheads. Then an altar boy places tiny cubes of blessed bread into their hands as they exit.
Our pew is last when Adriana invites us to join her in receiving a blessing from her priest husband. Outside parishioners mill about, exchanging Easter greetings – “Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!” – and bread, a token that all will meet again in heaven. There are Jozef, Lubomira and shy Slavko, Anna and Maria and the mayor’s secretary and other villagers whom we have met during the weekend.
There is more, though. Led by young men and women carrying banners and icons, everyone files through the village to the cemetery. There the priest, handsome in white silks, offers prayers at a central cross. Below, the village lies in sunshine, the river a glittering thread. Pastures, still empty, reach up the mountainsides just turning green with the spring. And just like that it is time to say good-bye to Tichy Potok and its generous people, who have made this a memorable Easter.
For more, read Easter by the Quiet Stream.
12 April 2012
Tags: Eastern Christianity Greece Easter Greek Catholic Church Ruthenians
Residents of Palai Girls’ Town in Kerala perform onstage. (photo: John E. Kozar)
During his trip to India last month, CNEWA president Msgr. John Kozar had the opportunity to visit CNEWA-supported institutions and projects, like Palai Girls’ Town in Kerala. Here’s what Msgr. Kozar experienced upon visiting the girls home:
Guess what kind of welcoming reception greeted us as we entered the rather large compound: A large, beautifully bedecked marching band made up of about 35 girls who live at this orphanage. They led us into a large and immaculately clean auditorium where we were given the ceremonial bouquet of flowers. A special treat of this visit was to meet the founder of the congregation, Father Abraham, and the sisters’ superior general, Mother Virmala. Father Abraham is 98 years old and is still sharp in mind, albeit limited in mobility. What an honor to be in his presence!
The girls also presented some absolutely professional-grade dancing entertainment. They were dressed in classical Indian garb, displaying intricate moves, and were well disciplined in their every move. The superior told me they have won a number of competitions. There are about 175 girls at this institution and CNEWA has been a major donor in support of the wonderful programs offered to the girls. In many of these “orphanages,” the girls are not necessarily orphans in the traditional sense, but are nonetheless in need of some type of support. Some have lost a parent; others have parents who cannot care for them. Some have been abandoned; others have parents too involved with caring for the ills of another family member.
For more of Msgr. Kozar’s impressions from his visit to India, check out all of his blog posts from his India visit.
11 April 2012
Tags: India CNEWA Kerala Msgr. John E. Kozar
Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud
1930 - 2012
(photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)
Pope Benedict sent condolences to the people of the Middle East following the death of Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud, who died on 7 April in a Rome hospital.
As CNS reports:
The 81-year-old cardinal was the retired prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and the former patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, led the Latin-rite funeral Mass April 10 in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Daoud’s body was to be flown to Beirut for a Syriac-rite burial with the other patriarchs of Antioch.
In his homily, Cardinal Sodano said he had visited the ailing patriarch a few days before he died. He said Cardinal Daoud told him he was “offering to the Lord his suffering for the good of the holy church and above all for the unity of all Christians.”
In a condolence message to Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of Antioch, Pope Benedict called the cardinal a “faithful pastor who devoted himself with faith and generosity to the service of the people of God.”
The pope also assured the patriarch that during “these days, when we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord,” he was offering special prayers “for the peoples of the region who are living through difficult times.”
Cardinal Daoud was born Basile Moussa Daoud in Meskene, Syria, Sept. 18, 1930, and had served as archbishop of Homs, one of the cities now being most deeply affected by violence as the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reacts to efforts to oust him.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1954, he earned a degree in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University. He was elected bishop of Cairo in 1977 and archbishop of Homs in 1994.
The synod of the Syriac Catholic Church, one of the Eastern churches in communion with Rome, elected him patriarch of Antioch in 1998 and, following Syriac tradition, he took the name Ignace in honor of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
You can read more here.
May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.
To learn more about the Syriac Catholic Church, check out this profile from the March 2009 issue of ONE.
11 April 2012
Tags: Syria Patriarchs Syriac Catholic Church
In this photo taken in 2009, Ethiopian women carry firewood up a hill in the Eparchy of Emdibir. (photo: Gabriel Delmonaco)
Throughout rural Ethiopia, women and girls carry out many of the domestic chores — which are almost always strenuous physically and very time consuming. It is not uncommon to see women, like the two pictured above, walking up hills and side roads with heavy buckets or baskets filled with food, water, or any other common necessity strapped to their bodies. Norma Intriago, a fundraiser in CNEWA’s development office, saw this first hand during a visit to Ethiopia in 2009:
“We saw women and girls working, fetching/collecting water, often walking miles to do so. [Some would] carry firewood (like the women in Gabriel’s photo) for cooking, transporting food & goods to sell at the market and caring for children. It was quite common to see a young toddler carrying her infant sibling on her back. I was stunned with all the responsibility that befalls women and girls in Ethiopia and [other parts of] the underdeveloped world, leaving little time, if any, for an education and healthcare.
CNEWA has worked with Catholic schools throughout Ethiopia for many years. To learn how you can help, visit our website.
10 April 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Women Ethiopian Catholic Church
In this photo taken in 2007, Georgian Orthodox Christians light candles during Easter celebrations at the Sioni Cathedral of the Dormition in Tbilisi, Georgia. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
This past Sunday, many Christians around the world celebrated Easter. The Orthodox churches in CNEWA’s world will celebrate Easter next Sunday, 15 April. Last November, our Education & Interreligious Affairs Officer Father Elias Mallon explored the reasons behind the two dates for Easter. You can read more about that here.
“Ultimately,” Father Elias concludes, “the most import issue is whether the common observance of Easter by all Christians would give significant witness to the world. If it would not, then the date or dates of Easter are immaterial.”
10 April 2012
Tags: Georgia Easter Georgian Orthodox Church Tbilisi
Sofika Zielyk poses for a portrait in her New York City apartment. She has spent the past 20 years perfecting the art of pysanky. (photo: Erin Edwards)
Journalist Marvin Anderson reports for the New York Times. His article on the Eastern European tradition of decorating eggs appears in the March issue of
I’ve made numerous attempts to retrace my family’s lineage.
I’ve used library records, online search services and followed multiple leads of information my family offered in futile efforts to stretch our history beyond the last 100 years. So while reporting this assignment
, I couldn’t help but marvel — with a bit of envy — at the rich Ukrainian Easter traditions.
I’m still in disbelief that eggs could be so fascinating.
I met with artist Sofika Zielyk in her Lower East Side apartment, in the part of Manhattan known as Little Ukraine, where she explained how the elaborate pagan and Christian symbols on these eggs were more like genetic imprints. Each egg tells a story, she said, and every family would use a particular pattern, depending sometimes on details like a family's occupation and the region in which they lived in Ukraine. It’s a continuing work of art, like a hereditary poem that stretches back to the beginning of time, for which each generation has the opportunity to write a stanza. Zielyk’s stories were music to my ears, having longed to hear something — anything — about my own heritage.
The eggs are a symbol of life, and written on them are the lives of individuals. Their prayers for a bounty of harvest, wishes for love and entertainment are all inscribed in symbols. When truly deciphering an individual’s egg, it’s as if one is given an opportunity to read a page from its artist’s private journal, written decades ago.
I later spoke with Natalia Honcharenko, the museum director at the Ukrainian Historical and Educational Center of New Jersey,
from whom I learned of pysanky’s role in the future and even more of its past. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Ukraine, considered the bread basket of Europe, and an extensive lesson on culture is difficult without a visit. “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it,” Rudyard Kipling wrote. But inside the storage rooms Honcharenko uses to maintain century-old artifacts, I felt as if I had a brief momentary aroma from the old country. It was filled with the songs of revolution against the oppressive Soviet Union, stories of escaping World War II and how the pysanky is a testament to how the Ukrainians survived it all with their culture intact.
5 April 2012
Syrian refugees who fled the violence in Syria sit in their temporary home in Mafraq, Jordan. (photo: CNS/Majed Jaber, Reuters)
Today, Christians around the world observe Holy Thursday, commemorating the last supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. Today’s liturgy begins the commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This period includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday and ends with Easter Sunday.
As was announced last week, Pope Benedict XVI has earmarked the Holy Thursday collection at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, for humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. Please keep all Syrians in your prayers as Holy Week comes to a close. To learn how you can help support Syrian Christians through CNEWA, visit our website.
The CNEWA family wishes you all a blessed Easter!
5 April 2012
Tags: Syria Refugees Pope Benedict XVI Easter
Christian pilgrims sing during the this year’s Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
Dr. Bernard Sabella is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a works with the Near East Council of Churches, a frequent partner of CNEWA. He sent the message below to a number of friends and associates, and we reproduce it with his permission. He writes from Jerusalem.
The act of crucifixion and resurrection is that of a relationship most personal and general, at the same time. On a personal level, each one of us sees in the crucifixion and resurrection a narrative that speaks to one’s situation, affiliations, afflictions and expectations; on a more general level, Easter summarizes relationships and their history with the divine, faith within the church and the city and ways in which we reciprocate with others. Essential in both the personal and general relationship is the sense of hope that Easter engenders. Jesus Christ’s transition from life to death to life again is not only symbolic, as it takes on practical consequences — one of which is how the resurrection brings people together in faith, community and the hope for the life beyond.
Easter is celebrated in early spring, when Jerusalem and its environs are alive with a rich assortment of wild flora on the hills and valleys that surround the city. After a winter that has seen more than average rainfall, a blessing in a land afflicted by draught for a number of years, celebrating Easter is even more of an act of faith that transcends the mundane. The association of spring with Easter is an old one that is discovered again and again by younger generations as they marvel at the beauty of the wild colors of the hills.
In the city of Jerusalem, Easter celebrations take on communal expression. The Palm Sunday procession, which winds down from Bethpage on the Mount of Olives to St. Anne Church, just inside St. Stephen’s Gate, is religious in its nature. But seeing Palestinian Christians in the procession from Jenin, Zababdeh, Nablus, Ramallah, Aboud, Ein Arik, Bir Zeit, Jifnah, Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala as they chant Arabic hymns of praise and carry placards with the name of their locality combined with the name of Palestine is also a reflection of the communal nature of the procession. This affirmation of Palestinian Christian presence highlights the fact that, in spite of the dwindling numbers of Palestinian Christians and of the dire political situation, we Palestinian Christians remain part of our society and of the Palestinian landscape. This affirmation adds variety, steadfastness and hope.
Good Friday is another celebration in which personal reflection and prayer is joined to the communal outpouring of emotions on this holiest of days. As the Palestinian Christian faithful carry the heavy wooden cross on the 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa on the road to Golgotha, they are commemorating not only the road taken by Jesus himself to Golgotha but also generations of local Christians who have carried the same cross successively year after year. Some of these Christians have left and they made Sydney, Chicago, La Calera, Santiago de Chile, San Pedro Sula, Montreal and other distant cities and towns their new homes.
And yet Easter Sunday restores both faith and hope. Whoever is in Jerusalem celebrates. The joy that shines forth in the egg hunt, in the special sweet delicacies of Ka’ek wa Ma’mul prepared and baked in family, in the new dresses and shoes worn by children and in the Easter Dinner that gathers the whole family is a sustaining joy. May this joy sustain also relationships between our Diaspora communities and those of us who remain steadfast in this land of the forefathers.
Blessed Easter — and as the Palestinian Christians greet each other: Christ has risen! Indeed he has! Al Masih Qam! Haqqan Qam!
4 April 2012
Tags: Palestine Unity Palestinians Easter
At the N.E.C.C. workshops in Gaza City, students learn to sew dresses. (photo: Eman Mohammed)
Since 2001 Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, preventing humanitarian aid and supplies from entering the territory. In 2010, Israel eased the blockade. But severe damage has already been done. Much of Gaza’s infrastructure still lies in ruins, the unemployment rate is astronomical and most residents rely on humanitarian agencies for the basics.
In the current issue of ONE, journalist Fares Akram profiles Christian-run social service institutions, such as the Near East Council of Churches (N.E.C.C.). The N.E.C.C operates several vocational training programs in Gaza including an 11-month course in dressmaking. Many of the women who participate in the program go on to find work in the field:
Among this year’s students is Umm Musbah. In 2006, the mother of five graduated from a college in Gaza with a diploma in elementary education. For five years, she hunted for a job in her field without success.
“I decided to join this program to help my husband, who is a tailor,” Mrs. Musbah explains, as she sews a mauve dress at a wooden table in one of the workshops. “My husband can bring me the wives of his clients so we can do business together, improve our lives and guarantee our children’s future.”
She cites the program’s low cost as another factor in her decision. “The fees are not high, only 350 Shekels [$100], and they can be paid throughout the course.”
For more, read Behind the Blockade.
4 April 2012
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel Palestinians Women
In the current issue of ONE, we explored how Ukrainians are keeping the ancient art of pysanky alive. Pysanky is traditionally decorated chicken and goose eggs. We spoke with well known pysanky artist, Sofika Zielyk and Ukrainian shop owner, Markian Surmach. Below are some extra images from the story.
Photos by Erin Edwards
Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Art Easter