Monday, November 23, 2009

Mor Yakoub Burdhono, the Sculptor of the Syrian Orthodox Church

by Ypdkno Dr.Paul Samuel

Syrian Orthodox Christians are really very proud to bear the nickname 'Jacobites' as the name lends to the most powerful and magnanimous figure in the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Each of its members is delighted to hear this name being called. The name Jacobites were given to us as a nickname because we were the followers of Mar Yakoub Burdhono. As we celebrate the 'dukhrono' of our church's most important and the most eminent Bishop on Nov.28, I would like to share you some facts about this name and other important incidents associated with the name Jacob and our Holy Church.

The Syrian Orthodox Church has three very important Jacobs, not withstanding the numerous others who have sacrificed their entire life to the Holy Church, which is the body of the Son of God.

The first one is Jacob, the Great, the man in the Old Testament, son of Isaac. When we think of Jacob, the Great in relation to church, we see that this Jacob symbolically showed the inception of Church and laid the baseline foundation of it. Jacob saw in his dream angels ascending and descending the ladder to Heaven. Upon awakening, he erected a stone, consecrated oil upon it and offered sacrifice to God. This way he symbolized the great sacrifice and inception of Holy Church. This Old Testament incident was not a miracle; rather it was the will of God.

The second most prominent character with the name Jacob who comes into picture is Jacob, the brother of Jesus Christ. He was not among the Apostles. He was blood related to Jesus and so he got the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Mass first. Our Lord himself taught him the liturgy, now called as Anaphora of Mar Yakoub. (St: John the Apostle who was the most pious and celibate man among the Apostles got only a second chance in celebrating the Holy Mass!).Jacob (Mar Yakoub) later said, "I have neither added nor omitted anything to it (the Anaphora)". This anaphora or the Divine Liturgy is still used by Syrian Christians without omitting or adding anything to it till now. And in fact we are the only Christians in the world who offer the Holy Mass as taught by our Lord Jesus Christ. In this way Jacob, the brother of Jesus revealed the real principle, which was only symbolized by Jacob, the Great. This incident was not
a miracle; rather it was the will of God.

The third and the last prominent character with the name of Jacob is Mor Yakoub Burdhono, who can be rightly called as the sculptor of the modern Syrian Orthodox Church .The church's base line was laid down by Jacob, the Great symbolically. Our Lord himself built it upon the great rock. St: Peter. St: Peter for us is a synonym for the true faith and upon the true faith church was built. Gates of hell can never overturn it. And this was shown by the coming of Mar Yakoub Burdhono to the forefront of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Because the Church had truth in it, the powers of hell couldn't defeat it and Mar Yakoub Burdhono was raised from Constantinople when Church was in severe trouble.

There was truth in the Son of God and that's why the Jews became envious and they insulted and persecuted our Lord. Because there was truth in our Church, it is being persecuted for various reasons all over the world. Because there is truth in our Church, we were insulted being called upon as Jacobites. But it was the will of God, to name it like that and we are proud now being called so. So great is the value of the name Jacob as we have seen above with regard to the various names in the Church history.

In my opinion, Mor Yakoub Burdhono should be called as the sculptor of modern Syrian Orthodox Church. The Church that was created by our Lord and served by Apostles was mutilated by persecutions under the influence of Satan. The mutilated church was given a new shining and powerful face by God through the hands of mar Yakoub Burdhono.

Let's pray to God to give us more efficient hands to protect the Holy Church form persecutors. Let's intercede to Mor Yakoub Burdhono to give power to our Holy Church's leaders.

Let's intercede to him to give strength and ability to our beloved HH Patriarch and HB Thomas I Catholicose to cruise the sea of turbulence. Let's pray for our Church.

Let's keep a vow that we will never allow anyone to mutilate the face of our Church that was nurtured and nourished by Holy Fathers and Saints

Mar Yakoub Burdhono pray for us

(Ref: "Jacobites" written by Late Lamented Sleeba Mor Osthathios Bava entombed at Kunnamkulam)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Syriac Christianity Saved the Protestant Reformation

by Fr. Dale A. Johnson

In 17th century Europe the protestant reformation began to lose it's fervor. It was weighed down by the intellectual weight of scholasticism, science, and the new socialism created by the wealth and power of nation/states who were discovering new lands and resources. Galileo and Newton were pioneering modern science. Descartes was forging modern philosophy. Hugo Grotius was promoting the idea of international law. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were forming modern political theory. In the same century strong centralized nation/states entered into worldwide competition for wealth and power by colonizing America and Asia.

The spiritual sons and daughters of Martin Luther were comfortable in their new world. Protestant theologians feared that Protestants had lost their way in theological legalism, secular science, and new social order.

German Pietism

Johnnes Arndt was a German Lutheran theologian born in 1555, the year Widmanstadt and Moses of Mardin published the Syriac New Testament in Vienna. He was attracted to the Syriac theology of Macarius, translated from Greek to Latin in 1559 in Paris. The Homilies of Macarius were available at the Lutheran University of Wittenburg in 1577 when he attended. It was these homilies that did more for the transmission of Syriac theology to Europe than all the Syriac New Testaments printed by Widmanstadt and his successors. Arndt wrote two famous devotional books, the Garden of Paradise and True Christianity. It is said that Arndt memorized all fifty homilies of Macarius. Whole passages of Macarius find their way into his writings and thus Syriac Christian ideas are passed into the revival of the Protestant Reformation.

The book True Christianity was read by Philipp Jacob Spener nearly a century later when he attended the University of Strassburg. The Syriac ideas of Macarius so deeply influenced him that he wrote a book that would become the foundation document of the pietistic movement: Pia desideria (Pious Desires,1675)

The Pia Desideria or “Heartfelt Desire for God-pleasing Reform” is the classic statement of Pietism. First published in 1675 by Philip Jacob Spener of Frankfurt on Main, it is both a devotional work and a textbook on church renewal.
The churches in Germany in the century following the Reformation were weakened by sacramentalism and confessionalism and endless theological disputes. Morality and spirituality among the laity and clergy were at a low ebb. The Protestant Reformation needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit of revival and personal piety.

Spener took advantage of a Frankfurt publisher’s invitation to write a preface for a new edition of Johann Arndt’s True Christianity. Spener discussed his assignment with his fellow ministers and submitted his manuscript in 1675. His remarks won immediate acclaim and within six months he published the preface separately under its own title, “Pious Desires.” In this seminal work, Spener responded to the spiritual conditions he observed with a sixfold program of church renewal. His principal concern was the “scandalous worldliness” of the churches and his hope for renewal was based on the conversion of Jews to Christianity in the first century churches. Thus Spener became known as the Father of Pietism.

Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism lasting from the late 17th century to the mid-18th century. It became influential among most Protestants and Anabaptists inspiring not only John Wesley and his Methodist Movement in England, but also the Brethren movement founded by Alexander Mack. The Pietist movement had an enormous impact on world history because of the Puritan influence in the development of the United States with its emphasis on individualism and Christian piety.

Spener offered six proposals for reform in Pia Desideria which became a short summary of pietism:

(1) There should be "a more extensive use of the Word of God among us." The Bible, Spener said, must be the chief means for reformation
(2) Spener called also for the priesthood of all believers citing Luther's example in urging all Christians to be active in the general work of Christian ministry.
(3) He appealed for the reality of Christian practice more than a matter of relying on simple knowledge.
(4) Spener then urged restraint and charity asking his readers to love and pray for unbelievers and sinners to adopt a moderate tone in disputes.
(5) Next he called for the need for training clergy in piety and devotion rather than academic subjects.
(6) Last he implored ministers to preach sermons people could understand.

The chief characteristic of Syriac Christianity is reflected in the six basic proposals. This is seen especially in the Homilies of Macarius. One can find the Homilies of Macarius online and by reading the titles of the fifty homilies it is easy to see the direct parallels to the principles of pietism. If there is one phrase to describe both Syriac Christianity and German pietism it is spirituality of the heart.

University of Halle

In 1694, after nearly 20 years of fame, Spener helped to found the University of Halle near Wittenburg under the charter of Leopold I and the patronage of Fredrick III, Elector of Brandenburg and Fredrick I of Prussia. He invited August Herman Frankce to become a professor at the new university.T his was no accident or a lightly considered offer. Spener specifically chose Frankce because of his passion for Syriac writers like Ephrem and Macarius. By making Syriac Christianity part of the core curriculum the spiritual principles would pass over to German pietism in the heart of its practice. The University of Halle perhaps did more for the transmission of Syriac theology more than any other institution, person, or event in the history of the West.

Francke lived his faith. He opened his own home as a school for poor children when he moved to Halle in 1692. Within a year he had to buy a building to house 100 orphans. He established a teacher training institute, and later he helped found a publishing house, and later a medical clinic.

Francke had experienced a dramatic conversion from cold theology to warm personal faith in 1687. Seven years later, under his leadership Halle became the center of Protestantism's biggest social enterprises and most ambitious missionary endeavors in 17th and 18th century Europe. The university established a center for Oriental languages including Syriac. The Homilies of Macarius became the core part of the curriculum. The Syriac ideas of Macarius shaped the four main features of Halle Pietism: individual piety, missionary zeal, compassion for the poor, and devotion to prayer and scripture.

Individual Piety

Syriac Christianity is a history of individual piety over legalistic corporate responses. The Syriac monk tended to be more alone, eccentric, and radical in his or her expression of prayer. We need only to picture the image of Simeon the Stylite bowing before his Creator a thousand times a day on top of his column. This is is contrast to the western image of the monk who lives in community and military like obedience to an abbot.

Missionary Zeal

Syriac Christianity is a history of missionary zeal having reached China a thousand years before the Jesuits. Desert monks from the Syriac east reached Gaul when Europe was still asleep. Syriac missionaries arrived in Ireland shortly after Sts Columban and Columba.

Compassion for the Poor

Syriac Christianity is a history of compassion for the poor as Syrianc Christians of every social class were studying in the university School of Nisibis a thousand years before the first university was built in Europe and Ephrem was operating a hospital and refugee centers in Edessa a thousand years before Galen and Hippocates was being read in Europe.

Devotion to the Word of God

Syriac Christianity is a history of devotion to the Word of God is music and prayer. Bar Daisan was composing music based on folk tunes and scripture more than a thousand years before Martin Luther was using the same technique.

All the features of Syriac Christianity mentioned above were made alive in the revival of the pietists in the 17th century through their rediscovery of Ephrem, Macarius, Jacob, and Isaac. The pietistic movement saved the Protestant Reformation.


Macarius is known to present day scholars as Pseudo Macarius and generally regarded as an anonymous Syriac writer of Mesopotamia, perhaps from the present day area of Tur Abdin. But for purposes of this article and because the pietists believed the Fifty Homilies to be from Macarius we shall refer to him as Macarius.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We need your help - Can you write a letter to help us?

We can make a difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors. We are
called by God to do so. You can help us make that difference. We just
sent a request to Comcast asking that they provide the community center
their services at no charge for the next 12 months. Their service provides
the Internet connection and telephone services.

Below is the letter and request sent to Comcast. It tells why we need the

We are asking that you also wrote Comcast and ask they to provide this
service to the center for the next 12 month without charge.

It does not matter where you live, Please write Comcast and make this

The Comcast Foundation
North Central Division
676 Island Pond Road
Manchester, NH 03109

Dear Director:

We can make a difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors. And we
are called to do so. This is the purpose of the Mor Gregorios Community
Center in Plymouth, Indiana. Comcast can help us make this difference.

We are not requesting funds. We are asking that you provide the cable
service at no charge for the next 12 months. All those we serve are within
Comcast¹s service area.

The center provides several public programs. One of those is the employment
program. The center provides help from trained volunteers for individuals to
file for their unemployment and to file their weekly reports. All of this
must be done online in Indiana. Help is also provided to do online job
searches, preparing resumes, learning and practicing interview skills, and
other employment related activities. The program serves those who are
unemployed and those who are under employed.

Indiana Workforce Development provided the training. Workforce Development
loaned some of the computers to the program. Ancilla College and others
within the community donated other computers and equipment to the program.
No funds are provided to cover any of the expenses of this program or any of
the other programs of the center. All workers at the center are volunteers.
None of the individuals working at the center are paid employers,
contractors, and none receive any compensation. All work for free. And
that includes me.

Because we receive no funds of any type, we need your help. You can make a
difference in the lives of those we serve. We are not asking for a financial
donation. We don¹t want money. Currently, the Internet connection at the
community center is through Comcast. I pay for it personally. That also
includes the telephone service and a cable connection. I do not know how
much longer I can continue to do so. Winter is approaching and the heating
bills are rising. We receive no funds for that either.

The Internet connection is needed to file individual reports each week, do
online job searches, and many other jog related activities. The telephone
is used to call possible employers, schedule interviews, and receive
employer¹s callbacks. Some of the participants are using the Internet
connection to complete online classes to improve their employment skills.

We are asking that Comcast provide this monthly service at no change for the
next 12 months.

If you need additional information about the Mor Gregorios Community Center,
please let me know. We are under an IRS 501 (c) (3) corporation. Since the
community center is based on an Orthodox Christian paradigm, all services
are provided to all, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, color,
class, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. All are served as
the Icon or image of God. We conduct all our affairs according to Orthodox
Christian social teachings with special emphasis on respect for the dignity
of the human person made in the image and likeness of God. Our vision is to
experience life together as a community, as a village where every human is
treated as if he or she were Christ Himself. All our programs are for all
people. Participants do not need to be Christians. The programs are for
those of faith and those of no faith. Everyone qualifies for the center¹s


Father Theodosius Walker
Executive Director

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Suffering

What is the sense of suffering in our lives? A talk with Anthony Bloom, Metropolitan of Sourozh.

Reading the Bible (2)

Archbishop Lazar continues his presentation on an Orthodox Christian approach to Scipture.

How we read the Bible(1)

How do Orthodox Christians read the Bible? Archbishop Lazar gives an introductory explanation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Open Mike Night

Biography of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle

Biography of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle

On December 1, 1990, the election of Bishop Pavle as the Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovac and Serbian Patriarch was met with great joy and expectation, both by clergy and laity.

The spiritual leader of the Serbian Orthodox people was born September 11, 1914 to Stefan and Ann Stojcevic, in the village of Kucani, in the county of Donji Miholjac, in Slavonija. His baptismal name was Gojko.

The Patriarch graduated with high honors from the Fourth Male Gymnasium (high school) in Belgrade. He did postgraduate studies at the Orthodox Theological Faculty at the University of Athens from 1955 to 1957. During his stay in Greece, he studied the New Testament and developed an expertise in liturgics, which resulted in the Patriarch becoming one of the most prolific liturgical writers in the Serbian Church. For his patient and prominent work in the field of theology, the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church awarded His Holiness an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity.

From 1944 to 1955, he was a monastic of Raca Monastery performing different disciplines. During the 1950/51 academic year, the then-Hierodeacon Pavle was appointed a lecturer at the Prizen Seminary, a position which he retained until his election to the Patriarchal Throne.

He was tonsured a monastic in 1948 and that same year he was ordained a hierodeacon. In 1954, he was ordained a hieromonk and elected to the rank of protosingelos. He was elevated to the rank of archimandrite in 1957 by Bishop Emilian of Slavonija. On May 29, 1957, the Holy Assembly of Bishops elected Archimandrite Pavle as Bishop of Raska-Prizen.

From that day to the present, he has faithfully shared in the plight of his suffering people. Bishop Pavle wrote and warned of the present exodus of Serbs from Kosovo, the attacks of the Albanians on Serbian monasteries, the rape of nuns, and terrorizing of pedestrians, the desecration of Serbian cemeteries and overall suffering of the Orthodox in Kosovo and in Metohija. In 1989, the then Bishop Pavle was personally beaten by several Albanian youths in Kosovo. The extent of his injuries required nearly 3 months of hospitalization. However, in the spirit of Christian forgiveness, he refused to press charges.

It is not without reason that Patriarch Pavle has been referred to as a "saint who walks." The simplicity of his lifestyle and his personal humility have found favor by all of those who are familiar with this virtuous man. All of the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church have an automobile, which they use to travel through their dioceses. The one exception has been Patriarch Pavle. When asked why he never obtained an automobile, he replies: "I will not purchase one until every Albanian and Serbian household in Kosovo and Metohija has an automobile."

His Holiness has published Devich, The Monastery of St. Joanikije of Devich (1989) and Questions and Answers to the Church Reader (1988). For the past 20 years, he has been responsible for the column in the Glasnik of the Serbian Patriarchate known as Questions and Answers, dealing with liturgical and sacramental questions. Through his efforts the Holy Synod published the new version of Srbljak in 1968. He also coordinated the reproduction of liturgical studies Christian Feasts by M. Skabalanovich, published originally in Kiev in 1915 in 6 volumes. The most monumental contribution of H. H. Patriarch Pavle was the translation of the New Testament published in 1984 under his supervision. This was the first official Serbian translation of the New Testament approved by the Serbian Orthodox Church. If all Bishop Pavle’s works were published, there would be thousands of pages and many volumes. Patriarch Pavle exemplifies simplicity in his lifestyle and is the embodiment of humility and personal holiness, a most worthy helmsman to guide the "Ship of the Church" in these troubled times.

Accompanying His Holiness Patriarch Pavle is his official delgation which consists of: His Eminence of Metropolitan Amphiliohije of Montenegro, His Grace Bishop Stefan of Zica, His Grace Bishop Iriney of Nis, the Very Reverend Mihajlo Arnaut and Hierodeacon Mark Momcilovic.

It is with great joy and gladness that we welcome His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle, the 44th successor to the Throne of St. Sava, to our midst. His Holiness Patriarch Pavle has come to visit all of us, his flock in the United States and Canada, bringing with him the message of peace, reconciliation and Orthodox unity.


Serbian Orthodox Patriarch dies

The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, has died in
Belgrade, the Church has announced.

The 95-year-old patriarch, who became leader of the Church in 1990, was
admitted to the city's military hospital two years ago.

He died on Sunday morning. Though he reportedly suffered from heart and lung
conditions, the Church did not specify the cause of death.

Most of Serbia's population of seven million people are Orthodox Christians.

Pavle was a respected theologian and linguist, known for personal humility
and modesty.

After the fall of communism and rise of Serb nationalism, the Church
regained a leading role during his rule.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

His Beatitude The Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Bava visit of st .mary's chappel ,

Tears found in the photo of St. Mary in Kattachira St. Mary's Chappel......Its really a miracle and His Beatitude The Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Bava visit of st .mary's chappel ,kattachira on 06.11.09

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Orthodox Series: Where do you come from?

Who is the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church? What is the history of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church? Watch and find out!

The Orthodox Series: Part 3a: Sacraments?! What are they?

What are Sacraments? Sacraments are means of grace instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. Through them the grace of God descends and indwells upon the Church and its members. Although, the Orthodox Church celebrates many Sacraments, we consider seven of them as the most important, so they are commonly known as Seven Sacraments. They are:
• Baptism
• Holy Myron (Chrism)
• Holy Eucharist (Qurbono)
• Confession
• Matrimony
• Ordination
• Anointing the Sick
Watch the video to learn more about the Seven Sacraments of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Series: Part 3b: Sacraments?! What are they? (cont.....)

What are Sacraments? Sacraments are means of grace instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. Through them the grace of God descends and indwells upon the Church and its members. Although, the Orthodox Church celebrates many Sacraments, we consider seven of them as the most important, so they are commonly known as Seven Sacraments. They are:
• Baptism
• Holy Myron (Chrism)
• Holy Eucharist (Qurbono)
• Confession
• Matrimony
• Ordination
• Anointing the Sick
Watch the video to learn more about the Seven Sacraments of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Series: Part 2- Life is Eternal with Christ

Based on the article by Rev. Fr. George Vayalibarambil, Vicar of St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church, Lidcombe, Australia.

The Orthodox Clergy Wife

An Orthodox Priest and his Wife

An Orthodox Priest and his Wife

by Matushka Valerie G. Zahirsky

What does it mean to have a wonderful title, and no real job description? The position of the wife of a priest is exactly this. The various languages or every Orthodox country have titles of honor for the priest’s wife. Some might literally be translated as ‘priestess’, while some mean ‘wife of the priest’, and in at least one language — Russian — the priest’s wife is ‘mother’ or ‘little mother’.

So it’s clear that our Orthodox cultures have always seen the position of priest’s wife as something special. Yet there really is no “job description” for what she should do or be. This might be seen as a reason for confusion and frustration, but I think it’s more true to the nature of Orthodoxy to see it as the Church’s loving freedom, given to her children. It leaves a woman free to regard her position as a ministry which can be carried out in whatever way is most suitable and comfortable for her own character and personality. If there is no job description, there is no blueprint, either, to which any woman should feel obliged to conform.

The late Jacqueline Onassis was asked early in her husband John F. Kennedy’s presidency what she though her most important role would be as First Lady. She answered that it would be to take care of the President so that he could do his job effectively. And despite the differences in “style” of various priest’s wives, they, too, have this as their first task. Like any wife, the priest’s wife must help her husband carry out the demanding tasks that are his, not by taking part directly in those tasks, but by seeing to his physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. If the family includes children, there are other things to be seen to. The priest’s family needs to be a healthy unit whose members’ needs are attended to. The members must also be allowed to grow through their mistakes and experimental “trying on” of various aspects of life. Most of all, there should be continual spiritual effort in the family, involving all its members.

We can say more about each of these points. First, seeing to a husband’s well-being: For a priest’s wife, this includes what it does for most wives — overseeing the diet, activities, and living conditions of her family. But it can also mean helping her husband feel confident in his ministry, encouraging him during rough times, and discerning what to tell him about the things she herself observes in the parish. Because so often there is little monetary or status-related reward for the priest’s work — as there is more likely to be in other professions — her support is particularly important.

The second point, the need for the priest’s family to be a place in which members’ needs are attended to, applies especially to the children. The demands of the priestly ministry can be — or can be allowed to become — so overwhelming that there is little time left for a busy priest to see to the needs of his own offspring. His wife is often the one who makes sure he carves out time to attend a son’s concert or a daughter’s game, and who encourages family conversation at the dinner table, as well as private talk between father and child at other times. There are many clergy wives who, while themselves holding down full-time jobs to meet material family needs, manage also to satisfy the family’s emotional needs in this way. Their heroic efforts will surely find a great reward in heaven!

The third point, that a priest’s family should be a unit whose members can make mistakes and experimentally “try on” aspects of life applies to children as well as to their parents. Green hair on the priest’s son or a little gold ring in his daughter’s naval, for example, should not scandalize the parish any more that they would if they appeared on other parish teens’ bodies. Priest’s wives need to work with their husbands to protect their children’s right to try things out, and not to let those outside the family put the children into a box of expected, impeccable, exemplary behavior — different from what is expected of any young, growing Christian. A clergy wife must also resist the temptation to impose a certain standard of behavior on her children for no other reason than “not to embarrass the family.” Good behavior should be encouraged because it will help the child have a satisfying and God-pleasing life, not because he or she is a PK (‘priest’s kid’), and therefore has a special responsibility to make the family look good. If the priest’s wife can calmly accept her and other children’s quirks and mistakes, she will by example help other parents to have the same flexibility and calmness. In fact, this will help them to be more accepting of people in general — a healthy trait for Christians to develop.

Finally, the fourth point: The clergy family must be a place in which there is constant spiritual effort. A clergy wife with small children knows the struggle of getting little ones dressed and ready for Liturgy on a wintry Sunday morning with no help from the husband, who left for the church some time ago to begin the preparation in the altar. She knows, too, that he won’t be standing with her during the services to hold a tired toddler or gently quite a baby’s outburst during the sermon — because he’ll be busy giving it!

Perhaps this is the place where the priest’s wife has the most important aspect of her ministry. If she can make the effort — not always successfully — to get to the services even under difficult circumstances, and if she can show that she wants to be there, she will do a great deal for the people around her. We can be tempted to see worship as a beautiful but inessential adjunct to the “real” parts of our lives: work, home, school. But the priest’s wife, a layperson like the others in the parish, has the same responsibilities and temptations that they do. When she makes the Church and its worship central to her life, other may see that they also can do so. They may even decide that they should do so!

If the priest’s wife can encourage even one person in this way, she will have done the work of the Lord and will truly be the partner to her husband that her Orthodox title of honor calls her to be.

A noted Orthodox speaker, Matushka Valerie Zahirsky and her family live in Steubenville, Ohio. Fr. Michael Zahirsky serves as rector of St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Mingo Junction.

Lots of Titles for the Priest’s Wife

Every “traditionally Orthodox” country has a special title in its language for the priest’s wife. In America, we tend to bring these terms into our parishes based on the ethnic background of the majority of the parishioners, as our own English language really has no “comfortable” equivalent. Here are a few:

Presbytera (pres vee TEAR a) — Greek, for ‘priestess’

Papadiya or Popadia (PO pa DEE ya) — Serbian/Balkan

Matushka (MA toosh ka) — Russian, for ‘mother’

Panimatushka (PA nyee MA toosh ka) or Panimatka — Ukrainian, for ‘little mother’

Pani (PA nyee) — a shortened form, common in the Carpatho-Russian tradition

Khouria (ho REE ya) — Syrian

The wife of a deacon has a title, too! In Greek, it’s Diakonissa (for ‘deaconess’). In the Slavic tradition, it’s the same as the title used for the priest’s wife!

by Nichola T. Krause


Monastery of the Holy Martyrs - Orthodox Monastery, Syriac Orthodox

 Have you stopped the monastery's new web site?  Come on by and visit, either on line or in person.  I love meeting new folks and make n...