Telling the Nativity story, with help of two foster boys

Night after night, Jesse and Kelly Cone led their children through some of the most familiar verses in all of Christianity.The goal was to use the quiet pre-Christmas season of Advent -- or Nativity Lent in their Eastern Orthodox parish in Santa Maria, Calif. -- to help their young sons grasp the meaning of Feast of the Nativity, which begins Dec. 25th and continues for 12 days. This isn't easy in a culture in which the powers that be roll out the Christmas bandwagon with the Halloween … [Read more...]

On the separation of church and history

On the night he was betrayed, the rabbi from Nazareth gave blunt, by mysterious, instructions about the rite that would forever be at the center of Christian life.The Gospel of St. Luke reports: "He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."These images mystified the faith's Roman … [Read more...]

From Texas Baptist to Orthodox saint?

Wherever bishops travel, churches plan lavish banquets and other solemn tributes to honor their hierarchs.Visitations by Archbishop Dmitri Royster of the Orthodox Church in America were different, since the faithful in the 14-state Diocese of the South knew that one memorable event would take care of itself. All they had to do was take their leader to a children's Sunday school class and let him answer questions.During a 1999 visit to Knoxville, Tenn., the lanky Texan folded down onto a … [Read more...]

An Orthodox question for 2010

The first Orthodox missionaries to reach Alaska traveled with the early Russian explorers and, in 1794, a party of monks established the Orthodox Christian Mission to America.When Orthodox believers venerate icons of the "Saints of North America," many of the images are of missionaries. One is St. Herman of Alaska, a pioneer monk, and another is St. Innocent, an early missionary bishop. Then there is St. Tikhon of Moscow, who envisioned one united Orthodox body in America, a church without … [Read more...]

Beyond Orthodox folk dancing

These were the sad, sobering conversations that priests have when no one else is listening.Father John Peck kept hearing other priests pour out their frustrations on the telephone. Some, like Peck, were part of the Orthodox Church in America, a church with Russian roots that has been rocked by years of high-level scandals. But others were active in churches with "old country" ties back to other Eastern Orthodox lands."These men really felt that their churches weren't getting anywhere," he said. … [Read more...]

One man comes home to Orthodoxy

When Peter Maris' father arrived from Greece the U.S. immigration officer couldn't understand his last name and "Margaris" became "Maris."When his mother's Jewish parents arrived from Poland they added "ski" to their name because they thought "Rafalski" sounded Catholic and, thus, would be safer.And when Kathleen Rafalski married Dennis Maris, she immediately joined the St. Demetrios Orthodox Church in Hammond, Ind."They were married in the Greek church," said Peter Maris, 42. "She learned to … [Read more...]

Sept. 11 — Dreams of St. Nicholas

The first thing police found at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was a piece of a wing and landing gear from American Flight 11.Then the World Trade Center's north tower fell on the humble, white-washed walls of the tiny sanctuary across the street. It took time for work crews to find much of anything after that.Eventually they found a paper icon of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos, but never found its frame or silver cover. They found an embroidered velvet cloth, but not the Bible it covered. They … [Read more...]


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