God is good.

"God is good. He alone is truly and fully good. He is good without mixture of evil; in Him all evils disappears. From Him comes all good. All that is good not only comes from Him, but is also His presence. Where the good is, there God is present.''

Paulos Mar Gregorios



Prayer is a Relationship Word

Prayer is a relationship word; it can never be thought of in abstraction, isolated from others or from God. Unfortunately, we have reduced prayer to a private act, an occasion for selfish concern or complaint.  Yet prayer is never exclusive or divisive; it is inclusive and caring.  Authentic prayer is never self-serving or self-complacent; it involves a sense of compassion for all people and all creation.


The whole Orthodox understanding, discipline, and teaching about prayer may be condensed into the short formula commonly known as the “Jesus prayer.” […]


“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” This brief prayer is a simple prayer and not a complicated exercise. The Jesus Prayer can be used by everyone as a concise, arrow-prayer that leads directly from our heart to the heart of God via the heart of the world.  It is the realization – beyond the recitation of conventional prayers – of the power of silence.  For when prayer culminates in silence, we awaken to new awareness. Then, prayer becomes a way of noticing more clearly and responding more effectively to the world within us and around us. 




His Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

From the Foreword written by His Holiness

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer by Norris J. Chumley

2011 Harper Collins Publishers



Making a House for God in Our Hearts

What is the purpose of prayer? To make a link between prayer and mind, between mind and heart, between the power that thinks and the power that loves. So the mind that descends its awareness into the heart is not an activity of the human being, it is a work of God. What we are doing is that we pray to God for the unity of our own being, the whole being.  


When we pray, we are making a house for him (God) in our heart, and when God enters he brings sublime peace with him. Once united to God, we are never alone, and we need never fear anything again. God becomes our protector, the foundation for our whole life. 


In the Gospel we say that God is our Father. This is a God who loves us, a God who is himself love. When God himself settles into our being, he makes a house for himself in our heart. He’s hugging us.


Archimandrite Teofil of  Brancoveanu Monastery (Romanian Orthodox Church

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer by Norris J. Chumley

2011 Harper Collins Publishers




Holy St. Mary's Falling Asleep - Digest

From Malankara SOC Discussion Forum
9 Messages In This Digest

1. A portion of the Sermon about St. Mary's Dormition- Catholicose Aboo
Posted by: "SOCM Moderators" SOCM Moderators
A portion of the Sermon about St. Mary's Dormition - Catholicose Aboon Mor Basalious Thomas I

2. Prayers For St.Mary in Arabic and Aramaic- Jerusalem
Posted by: "SOCM Moderators" SOCM Moderators

Prayers For St.Mary in Arabic and Aramaic- Jerusalem By Archbishop Mor Sewerios Malki Murad Inside the Church Of tomb Mary Mother of God in Jerusalem

3. St. Mary in the Armenian Church
Posted by: "SOCM Moderators" SOCM Moderators Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:21 pm (PDT)
St. Mary in the Armenian Church

The feast of St. Mary's Assumption into heaven, Saturday 14 August 2010, Armenian Orthodox Church

4. St. Mary's Song in Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Posted by: "SOCM Moderators" SOCM Moderators

St. Mary's Song in Ethiopian Orthodox Church
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whYljJETe6w <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whYljJETe6w>

Experience the Feast Day of St. Mary in Axum, North Ethiopia

5. Coptic orthodox Church St Mary hymn Al Selam leki
Posted by: "SOCM Moderators" SOCM Moderators

Coptic orthodox Church St Mary hymn Al Selam leki http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsoY1__5BJ8

6a. The Feast of the Assumption (Shunoyo) of St. Mary
Posted by: "SOC Digest" SOC Digest
The Feast of the Assumption (Shunoyo) of St. Mary
by Fr. Mathai Varkey Puthukkunnathu

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your
offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Gen:

The Holy Syrian Orthodox Church observes the sacred Fast of the
Assumption of Saint Mary (Theotokos-Yoldas(th) Aaloho-God Bearer)
from the 10th of August for 5 days and concludes with the celebration of the Assumption Feast on the 15th. Saint Mary is the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was chosen by the Almighty, according to the divine commandment made at the Garden of Eden. Redemption from the aberration of sin is made possible by the blood of the unblemished Lamb. Saint Mary gave birth to that unblemished Son of God, the Virgin Eve Lamb, who crushed the head of the arch enemy, Satan. This made her to be the Theotokos, God Bearer, and the Second Eve. The first Eve brought disobedience and caused sin to overpower the creation, where as Saint Mary's absolute submission to the Will of God brought
forth eternal salvation to the world. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her". Luke 1:38. This unique obedience and unparallel forbearance to uphold the Divine Will has brought about the Redemption of the sinful humanity. It is worth mentioning here that the Holy Syrian Orthodox Church does not believe in the immaculate birth of Saint Mary. All humans are born with the original sin and one of the divine mercies that we receive through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is the grace that wipes away the blemishes/stain of the original sin. That is the reason why the Feast of the Assumption has been given more importance by the Holy Church than to the feast of the birth of Saint Mary.

Continue read @ http://www.socdigest.org/articles/06aug06.html

7. Dormition of the Theotokos - Daivamathavinte Vaangippu perunal
Posted by: "Mathew G M" Mathew G M


In Christ, Mathew G M

8. Assumption Versus Dormition,Departure
Posted by: "Zach George" Zach George

According to the Orthodox tradition, August 15 is celebrated as the Dormition/Departure of the Theotokos. The Catholic Church celebrates the day as the Assumption of Mary. Though, both the celebrations allude to the same event, the inner meaning and focus is very different. The orthodox view is that Mary died a natural death and her soul was received by Son and on the third day, after her death, her body was transported to heaven.

The Catholic Church's dogmatic definition is given by Pope Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus (in 1950).HH declared “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.Pope Pius XII deliberately left open the question of whether Mary died before her Assumption though the more common teaching of the early Fathers is that she did.

The Catholic Church gives more importance to the assumption, i.e., the acceptance of Mary into heaven. But the Orthodox Church focuses on the "Soonoyo". Soonoyo means departure (or Vangippu in Malayalam) and Dormition means falling asleep. Soonoyo is a common word connoting death. The assumption of Mary is not recorded in any of the texts used for service by the church, though some references are made in some of the songs used in the service. It is believed by some that Soonoyo is the earlier tradition than the Assumption. The Syrian Church while not denying the Assumption gives paramount importance to Soonoyo.

References :
H G Dr. Gabriel Mar Gregorios (1997).Kurishum Thejassum
Justice Benjamin Koshy (2010).Blessed Virgin Mary

Submitted by
Zach George Arapura

9. A Prayer used in the Syrian Orthodox Church Liturgy for the Interces
Posted by: "SOCM Moderators" SOCM Moderators

A Prayer used in the Syrian Orthodox Church Liturgy (Malayalam) for the Intercession of Mother Mary


Orthodox Peace Fellowship conference to focus on forgiveness

Orthodox Peace Fellowship conference to focus on forgiveness:

UW professor Robert D. Enright, Kim Phuc to be keynote speakers


The North American Conference of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship has chosen Madison as the location for its 2011 conference, to be held Friday, Sept. 16 to Sunday, Sept. 18. “Forgiveness: Finding Wholeness Again” is the conference theme.


Robert D. Enright Ph.D., professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be a keynote speaker. Enright is a founding member of the International Forgiveness Institute Inc., is the author of four books including “Forgiveness is a Choice.” He has appeared on “20/20” and “NBC Nightly News,” and his work has been featured in TIME, McCall’s Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times.


Some of the other speakers expected at the event:


  • Kim Phuc (the child depicted in the 1972 Pulitzer Prize winning photo, running naked after being burned in a South Vietnamese napalm attack);


  • Rev. George Morelli Ph.D. (chairman of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Department of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry);


  • Judith Toy (Buddhist cleric and author of “Murder as a Call to Love”);


  • Miroslav Volf (director of the Yale Center for faith and Culture and author of “Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace”);


  • Rev. John-Brian Paprock (pastor of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Madison, and author of “Neighbors, Strangers and Everyone Else”).



“‘Forgiveness’ is a topic that has much to do with ‘peace,” says Alexander Patico of the OPF. “Conflict between two individuals or two groups can cease, but often the seeds of future conflict are there, ready to germinate at the first opportunity.  Without forgiveness, we achieve only a surface calm, not a reconciliation that is the foundation of true peace.”


Without forgiveness, says Patico, “inner peace remains elusive, as well. There are, however, many different ways to think about forgiveness – what it means and what conditions must exist for it to happen. The conference will explore those different conceptions, so that forgiving might become more feasible for all who take part.”


Additional speakers are in the process of being confirmed. The conference will also include films, food and fellowship. Non-members and non-Orthodox are welcome to attend.


The event will be held at the Bishop O’Connor Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison. At the end of the conference, attendees can choose to attend Sunday services at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 11 North 7th St., Madison.


Information will be available about conference costs shortly; the organization plans to offer low-cost options for those with financial challenges or who are coming from greater distances.


Reservations must be received prior to Wednesday, Sept. 14. More information is available by contacting Patico at opfnorthamerica@gmail.com or Rev. Paprock at frjohnbrian@gmal.com or 608.242.4244


The Orthodox Peace Fellowship is an association of Orthodox Christians applying the principles of the Gospel to situations of division and conflict – in the home, the parish, the community, the work place, and within and between nations.



# # #

On the Fruit of Transfiguration

On the Fruit of Transfiguration

The day of the celebration of the festival day of the mission - Holy Transfiguration (Koodara or Maruroopa - Debre Tabor or Buhe) - this local congregation has a picnic with a procession and the blessing of fruit.

Fr John Brian summarizes the lessons of the last few weeks and talks about the Holy Transfiguration and the meaning, symbols and spiritual benefit of the blessing of grapes and other fruit at this feast day of Christ's Transfiguration on Mount Tabor

This sermon lesson uses the readings and services appointed from the Malankara Syrian lectionary and was given on Sunday, August 7, 2011 by Fr. John Brian Paprock at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.

"We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7.

PODCAST OR DOWNLOAD: http://feeds.feedburner.com/frjohnbrian or
Listen on-line here:


The Divine Image

The Divine Image
by William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
...Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God our Father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity, a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.
William Blake:
The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.


Power of Discernment

What is a man to do when the demon takes the form of an angel of light and tries to seduce him?
In this case a man needs great power of discernment to discriminate rightly between good and evil.  So in your heedlessness, do not be carried away too quickly by what you see, but be weighty (not easy to move) and, carefully testing everything, accept the good and reject the evil.  Always you must test and examine, and only afterwards believe.
Know that the actions of grace are manifest and the demon, in spite of his transformations, cannot produce them, namely, meekness, friendliness, humility, hatred of the world, cutting off passion and lust - which are the effects of grace.
Works of the demons are: arrogance, conceit, intimidation and all evil. By such actions you will be able to discern whether the light shining in your heart is of God or of Satan.
Lettuce looks like mustard, and vinegar in color like wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and defines the difference between each.  In the same way the soul, if it has discernment, can discriminate by mental taste the gifts of the Holy Spirit from the fantasies and illusions of the Deceiver Satan.
From the Instructions to Hesychasts of St. Gregory of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart
translated by E. Khadloubovsky and G. E. H. Palmer
Faber and Faber, 1951 (Tenth printing, 1983), London