6 July 2012
Mosques and churches dot the Soulimanya neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria.
(photo: Spencer Osberg)
At CNEWA, we throw around a lot of exotic words. Most can be looked up in a dictionary or style book. But a few require a little more digging. Here are five from the Middle East that required CNEWA’s resident biblical languages scholar, Atonement Friar Elias Mallon, to decipher.
al-quds — This word means, “The Holy,” in Arabic and is the Muslim name for Jerusalem, the city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jews and Christians refer to the city by its (very) ancient name, yɘrušalayim, from which the English word, Jerusalem, derives. Muslims give Jerusalem an honorific title, “the Holy,” much like Christians refer to Rome as “the eternal city.”
qurbana — This is the Syriac and Aramaic word for the Eucharist. The root meaning of the word is “to bring near (God); to offer.” Interestingly, the Aramaic word appears in Mark 7:11, where Jesus condemns it when an adult child does not support his parents because he declares his wealth as Corban, i.e. “offered to God.” In Matthew 15:6, in the same context, the evangelist uses “offered to God” in Greek rather than the Aramaic word.
‘īsā — The name of Jesus in the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, and the name used by Muslims, who revere Jesus as a great prophet and Mary as his virgin mother. Muslims do not believe Jesus is divine nor do they believe that Jesus was crucified (Qur’an 4:158); rather, they believe Jesus is in heaven waiting to return at the end of time.
yasu‘ — The name for Jesus used by Arabic-speaking Christians; the different names of Jesus used by Muslims and Christians are reminders that the two communities understand the person and role of Jesus very differently.
allah — The word used for God by Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians and Jews. The Syriac and Aramaic word for God is alah. Although Arabic-speaking Jews, Christians and Muslims use the same Arabic word for God, they use slightly different words in Syriac and Hebrew. Nevertheless, all three words come from the same root and are closely related.
6 July 2012
Tags: Middle East Muslim Islam Christian
Artist Andrei Arapov chose folklore and imperial authority as themes for this lacquered box.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
Some of the most striking works of art aren’t found hanging on a wall, but on the lid of a box — like the image above, from a story by Sean Sprague on the remarkable works being restored in one Russian village:
For centuries icon painting in Palekh was passed down by apprenticeship from father to son. In the 19th century the state supported Palekh artists, whose importance the monarchy recognized in reaffirming Russia’s spiritual and artistic symbols, and as a bastion against encroaching Western influences.
In 1814 there were said to be about 600 artists in Palekh, the same number as today. Icon ateliers dotted the village, with the most famous belonging to Nikita Safonov, who along with his son Mikhail undertook commissions across Russia. The reputation of Palekh grew so that by the end of the 19th century Palekh masters had established studios in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Nizny-Novgorod and Perm.
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, however, interrupted the tradition, with the Bolsheviks banning icon painting in their attempt to rid Russia of its religious heritage.
Palekh adjusted to the times. Rather than becoming unemployed, its artists switched to other forms of expression. They began decorating porcelain, glass, eggs and wooden toys with nonreligious themes.
The painting of black-lacquered boxes made from papier-mâché was the most successful alternative. Local artist Ivan Golikov is credited with introducing Palekh to the boxes, whose origins lay in the Far East, but which had gained popularity in the village of Fedoskino, near Moscow.
Read more about New Reality, Same Artistry in the March-April 2004 issue of ONE.
5 July 2012
Tags: Russia Village life Art Frescoes
Young Ukrainians travel on foot and on horseback for a pilgrimage from Lviv to Univ.
(photo: Petro Didula)
Last year, writer Mariya Tytarenko looked at how a new generation of priests is helping rejuvenate the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church — and in the process, they are also helping to make pilgrimage scenes like the one above more common:
Subdeacon Ostapyuk and Father Prokopets celebrate liturgies for the children and staff in chapels in or near the orphanage schools. If there is no chapel in the vicinity, they improvise. In the summer, they often celebrate the liturgy outdoors. In addition, they explain the meaning of the liturgy to the youngsters as well as teach them lessons from the Bible and about Christian values.
Each summer, the men also help run the Druzhba Camp for orphaned children and youth, some of whom have disabilities, in the village of Svirzh, 39 miles southeast of Lviv. For the rest of the day, they and a group of volunteers oversee a daily agenda of outdoor activities, crafts and games.
Read more about young Ukrainian men Answering the Call to the priesthood in the November 2011 issue of ONE.
3 July 2012
Tags: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Pilgrimage/pilgrims Eastern Europe Seminarians
Following the footsteps of St. Thomas, Indian pilgrims climb Mount Malayattur. Visitors of all faiths believe the trip can cure them of physical and mental disease. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Today marks the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle in the Latin Church (Eastern churches celebrate his feast day on 6 October). In Kerala, St. Thomas has had a major influence, and is known to have brought Christianity to the region:
“This main port opened to the seas well before the time of Christ, from 300 B.C. onward,” says Father Davis Chenginiyadan, executive director of the Kodungallur Research Academy for Mar Thoma Heritage.
The priest stands at the site of the ancient city of Muziris, located on a jetty at the mouth of the Periyar River, about 20 miles north of Cochin. This was once the main crossroads of India’s global spice trade and the landing spot of St. Thomas the Apostle, who brought Christianity to the region in the year 52.
To learn more about St. Thomas’s influence, take a look at Msgr. John Kozar’s blog series from his pastoral visit to India earlier this year, “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas.”
2 July 2012
Tags: India Kerala Thomas Christians Saints
Msgr. John E. Kozar, president of CNEWA; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches; and Pope Benedict XVI meet at the end of the ROACO general assembly in Rome. (photo: L'Osservatore Romano)
“Rome has a way of bringing it all into focus,” Monsignor John Kozar observes. It is the “universality” of the city that the CNEWA president credits with providing a unique sense of perspective on the matters at hand.
Two weeks ago, he visited Rome to meet with religious and civil leaders at several important events, including the 85th annual ROACO (Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Eastern Churches) and the meeting of the Bethlehem University board of regents. Now, back in his New York office, he recounts the details of his trip.
Convoked by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and hosted by the pope, ROACO gathers representatives from Catholic donor agencies serving the Eastern churches and church leaders to plan and coordinate aid.
“It’s exciting to know firsthand how many other agencies there are committed to reaching out to our brothers and sisters in the Eastern tradition,” Msgr. Kozar says enthusiastically. He adds that engaging with Eastern churches has been a source of growth for him. “It’s like learning to use my other lung.”
The proceedings gave Msgr. Kozar the opportunity to confer with members of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches — Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect; Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, secretary; and Msgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, undersecretary — as well as church leaders, such as Cardinal George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. Joining them were other important leaders, such as Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria; Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to the Holy Land; and Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., custos of the Holy Land (the leader of the Friars Minor in the Holy Land) and a “dear friend and great collaborator.”
With world-class translators working in four languages, they discussed the pressing issues facing the churches and regions they serve. “We all want to improve: to do good works better,” Msgr. Kozar says.
One of the most important subjects discussed was Christian emigration: Iraqi Christians migrating to Switzerland, Ukrainian Christians moving to Canada, and other such trends in the wake of political upheaval and strife. These trends, Msgr. Kozar notes, require not only attention, but also the ability to change some operations to accommodate geographically shifting needs.
At the event’s conclusion, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address to the assembly, discussing the challenges facing the churches of the East, insisting that “every effort should be made” to achieve peace in Syria. “May you always be eloquent signs of the charity that flows from the heart of Christ and presents the church to the world in her true mission and identity by placing her at the service of God who is love.” Following tradition, the pope then warmly received each participant.
“I had the opportunity to thank the Holy Father for the honor and privilege of doing this great work on his behalf,” reports Msgr. Kozar.
The work of sharing the light of charity and cooperation with the churches of the East is great, with much to be done the world over. However, those who attended the assembly left ready and eager to continue this work — armed with clear focus and two strong lungs.
2 July 2012
Tags: Unity Eastern Churches Msgr. John E. Kozar Rome Eastern Catholics
Sister Lisi leads evening prayer in the chapel of Grace Home, with 2-year-old Chakara.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)
Two years ago, we visited Grace Home in Kerala, where the Nirmala Dasi Sisters care for children with H.I.V./AIDS:
With the school-age children gone, a quiet falls upon the grounds of Grace Home — that is until a 2-year-old boy noisily pushes his pintsize tricycle across the facility’s marble floor. The tricycle plays an electronic version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Energetic and healthy — in fact, rather pudgy — the boy first came to Grace Home in 2009 covered in scabies and looking lean, says Sister Lisi, who calls him simply Chakara, or “sweetie” in the local Malayalam language.
“He would cry all day and all night,” she says. “Maybe he was thinking about his mother — she lost her mind and lived with Chakara in the Kuttippuram Railway Station, taking him here and there. Or maybe he feared he was going to be given away.
“He’s in good condition right now,” boasts Sister Lisi, adding that Chakara’s CD4 count is high, at more than 800. “He doesn’t need ARTs.”
Chakara’s attachment to Sister Lisi is unmistakable. He clutches her habit at the knees. She picks him up and puts him back down. He pushes the tricycle around some more and then into her feet. Sister Lisi ignores him. Chakara gets fussy and she picks him up again.
“At his age, he needs a mother’s concern and love,” says Sister Lisi. “I feel like I’ve been appointed his mother. Now he’s getting so much love. I don’t know how much love I have to give, but whatever I have I give.”
Read more about a home Full of Grace in the November 2010 issue of ONE.
Tags: India Children Sisters HIV/AIDS