From our Church Family - A thought for the Week 


















































Peace to you all,

Hope you are all doing well.

Sending you my greetings and best wishes for this 3rd sunday of Easter.
In these trying times, please keep staying at home and be safe. We hear now that many young people are also having problems with the covid19 virus, from strokes to blood clotting, etc.

I want to also reassure you -contrary to some extremist evangelical preachers out there- that God is not an ally of misery and evil. 
The Pandemic has nothing to do with God's wrath for Humanity!

We have our free will, and morally speaking nature has a certain freedom as well, different from ours though.
God wants healing among us and to restore our existence with health, Love and Peace.

I want to share with you an excerpt from a sermon of a Franciscan Priest, Fr. Cantalamessa (the house chaplain of the Pope), it is a little long, but I hope you take the time to read it, it is very helpful to understand a little of what is going on right now with the pandemic:

"The cross is better understood by its effects than by its causes. And what were the effects of Christ’s death? Being justified through faith in him, being reconciled and at peace with God, and being filled with the hope of eternal life! (see Rom 53:1-5).

But there is one effect that the current situation can help us to grasp in particular. The cross of Christ has changed the meaning of pain and human suffering—of every kind of suffering, physical and moral. It is no longer punishment, a curse. It was redeemed at its root when the Son of God took it upon himself. What is the surest proof that the drink someone offers you is not poisoned? It is if that person drinks from the same cup before you do. This is what God has done: on the cross he drank, in front of the whole world, the cup of pain down to its dregs. This is how he showed us it is not poisoned, but that there is a pearl at the bottom of this chalice.

And not only the pain of those who have faith, but of every human pain. He died for all human beings: “And when I am lifted up from the earth,” he said, “I will draw everyone to myself” (Jn 12:32).

Everyone, not just some! St. John Paul II wrote from his hospital bed after his attempted assassination, “To suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ.” Thanks to the cross of Christ, suffering has also become in its own way a kind of “universal sacrament of salvation” for the human race.

What light does all of this shed on the dramatic situation that the world is going through now? Here too we need to look at the effects more than at the causes—not just the negative ones we hear about every day in heart-wrenching reports but also the positive ones that only a more careful observation can help us grasp.

The pandemic of Coronavirus has abruptly roused us from the greatest danger individuals and humanity have always been susceptible to: the delusion of omnipotence. 
A Jewish rabbi has written that we have the opportunity to celebrate a very special paschal exodus this year, that “from the exile of consciousness”. It took merely the smallest and most formless element of nature, a virus, to remind us that we are mortal, that military power and technology are not sufficient to save us. As a psalm says, “In his prime, man does not understand. He is like the beasts—they perish” (Ps 49:21). How true that is!
While he was painting frescoes in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the artist James Thornhill became so excited at a certain point about his fresco that he stepped back to see it better and was unaware he was about to fall over the edge of the scaffolding. A horrified assistant understood that crying out to him would have only hastened the disaster. Without thinking twice, he dipped a brush in paint and hurled it at the middle of the fresco. The master, appalled, sprang forward. His work was damaged, but he was saved.

God does this with us sometimes: he disrupts our projects and our calm to save us from the abyss we don’t see. But we need to be careful not to be deceived. God is not the one who hurled the brush at the sparkling fresco of our technological society. God is our ally, not the ally of the virus! He himself says in the Bible, “I have . . . plans for your welfare and not for woe” (Jer 29:11). If these scourges were punishments of God, it would not be explained why they strike equally good and bad, and why the poor usually bring the worst consequences of them. Are they more sinners than others?

No! The one who cried one day for Lazarus' death cries today for the scourge that has fallen on humanity. Yes, God "suffers", like every father and like every mother. When we will find out this one day, we will be ashamed of all the accusations we made against him in life. God participates in our pain to overcome it. "Being supremely good” - wrote St. Augustine - “God would not allow any evil in his works, unless in his omnipotence and goodness, he is able to bring forth good out of evil.”[4]

Did God the Father possibly desire the death of his Son in order to draw good out of it? No, he simply permitted human freedom to take its course, making it serve, however, his own purposes and not those of human beings. This is also the case for natural disasters like earthquakes and plagues. He does not bring them about. He has given nature a kind of freedom as well, qualitatively different of course than that of human beings, but still a form of freedom—freedom to evolve according to its own laws of development. He did not create a world as a programmed clock whose movements could all be anticipated. It is what some call “chance” but the Bible calls instead “the wisdom of God.”

The other positive fruit of the present health crisis is the feeling of solidarity. When, in human memory, have the people of all nations ever felt themselves so united, so equal, so less in conflict than at this moment of pain? Never so much as now have we experienced the truth of the words of a great Italian poet: “Peace, you peoples! Too deep is the mystery of the prostrate earth.” Giovanni Pascoli.

The virus knows no borders. In an instant it has broken down all the barriers and distinctions of race, nation, religion, wealth, and power. We should not revert to that prior time when this moment has passed. As the Holy Father has exhorted us, we should not waste this opportunity. Let us not allow so much pain, so many deaths, and so much heroic engagement on the part of health workers to have been in vain. Returning to the way things were is the “recession” of which we should have the most fear.

The word of God tells us the first thing we should do at times like these is to cry out to God. He himself is the one who puts on people’s lips the words to cry out to him, at times harsh words and almost of accusation: “Awake! Why do you sleep, O Lord? / Rise up! Do not reject us forever! . . . Rise up, help us! / Redeem us in your mercy” (Ps 44, 24, 27). “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38).

Does God perhaps like to be petitioned so that he can grant his benefits? Can our prayer perhaps make God change his plans? No, but there are things, St. Matthew explains, that God has decided to grant us as the fruit both of his grace and of our prayer, almost as though sharing with his creatures the credit for the benefit received. God is the one who prompts us to do it: “Seek and you will find,” Jesus said; “knock and the door will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7).

When the Israelites were bitten by poisonous serpents in the desert, God commanded Moses to lift up a serpent of bronze on a pole, and whoever looked at it would not die. Jesus appropriated this symbol to himself when he told Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15). We too at this moment have been bitten by an invisible, poisonous “serpent.” Let us gaze upon the one who was “lifted up” for us on the cross. Let us adore him on behalf of ourselves and of the whole human race. The one who looks on him with faith does not die. And if that person dies, it will be to enter eternal life.

"After three days I will rise", Jesus had foretold (cf. Mt 9:31). We too, after these days that we hope will be short, shall rise and come out of the tombs our homes have become. Not however to return to the former life like Lazarus, but to a new life, like Jesus. A more fraternal, more human, more Christian life!"

Be all blessed
+Karl








Easter , A. D. 2020

(Please share with all your people! Por favor compartir con toda su gente!)

Alleluja, Alleluja, Christus resurrexit vere. 

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The Peace of the Risen Christ be with you all, dear brothers and sisters in the service of the Lord, and all our beloved faithful around the World, 
wishing you all a blessed and joyous Easter!

    God has entered the world in His beloved Son, taking on and sharing our humanity while not leaving His Divinity. He walked among us as the living Word, preaching the Good News, suffering for us in unspeakable agony and humiliation, torture and cruel death in order to bring Salvation for us. He rose triumphantly from the dead, and sent us the Holy Spirit who groans within us in our earthly suffering as we joyful await His coming in Glory facing our own resurrection through Him.

    Easter is the feast that unites Heaven and Earth, the spiritual world and the earthly world. Easter is the moment that turns doubts into a manifestation of faith, showing that we cannot live by earthly evidence only, but by a spiritual awakening that shows that we are a New Creation in God. 
    Easter is the Feast of the New and Everlasting Covenant that God has given us. It can never be reversed as it is God's sworn promise, sealed with His Son's own blood. Therefore this once and for all given Sacrifice established the new and everlasting Priesthood that has replaced the old priestly order, and of a royal people that are freed from sin, sharing His Kingdom.
    Easter is our response in faith to a spiritual reality that seeks God first in all our  wanting and doing. 
    Easter is the beginning of a new life in this world reminding us that we are stuarts of God's creation and not dominators and destroyers of it. 
    The three pictures you see on top of the letter shall remind us that Jesus is always near in our suffering, and with the empty tomb we have the chance to rethink our ways of life, including our ways of how to see mother Nature, not to exploit it in our selfish, self absorbed and greed driven ways...We need to respect Creation more than ever, including the the dignity and respect to the animal world. 
    We have again reached a cross road for humanity as we face deadly deseases that affect the whole world. We keep wondering how to survive in all of this as we face the devastating consequences. We are compelled to see our life in a new way, to correct so many of our bad decisions...
    How important is it that we see in this Easter Message of the Risen Lord, "Peace be with you, my Peace I leave you, and My Peace I give you" a message that is based on Love, a call to a new world in which we care and serve each other in Love and Peace. 
    How devastating is it when we face daily lies that control our world! I mentioned in one of the bulletins for Lent that we live in a post-truth era: entire nations are being misled, misinformed, and betrayed by ideological forces that make us believe in an alternative reality causing more suffering, showing disregard for the environment, in the end leading to a self-destructive behavior of humanity. One of the causes: An egocentric and self absorbed person with a narcissistic behavior that is driven by a self-made truth and reality. This person will do everything to dominate and to suppress the sincere desire for a deeper truth. This person will attack the facts, deny the evidence, mislead, confuse entire people, a constant liar in order to support its self-serving purpose...Such behavior evidently has demonic and evil roots. Only by the Grace of God can we as faithful see through it, not to follow blindly such a selfish person. And yet, many follow such a person as proven over and over in the history of humanity. 
    The Resurrection of Christ with its divine presence among us encourages all people to face their demons, to awaken the Goodness within us, and to look towards new horizons in order to be a better human race that prays in the Holy Spirit to renew the Earth in a true Sisterhood and Brotherhood. 
    For many of us around the world this Easter is so different. For the first time in our lives we are confined to our rooms, and sometimes frightened of what will happen next...
    It reminds me on the disciples after the crucifixion hiding in a room out of fear for the forces that can kill them...(As we say there is light at the end of the dark tunnel). It needed the presence of the Lord to remind them that they shall not be afraid, and that they had a task to fulfill to preach the Gospel and to be witnesses of the resurrection. He is alive, was the new message! He is not among the dead, but the living. We shall rise with Him! Here on earth we shall rise once again for the sake of the Gospel of the risen Lord to find ways to walk in a new togetherness toward the Kingdom. The current confinements give us an opportunity to reflect and find better ways and means for a humanity that cares for all, where the rich share with the poor, where we see more clearer that we are all together in this, not just a few privileged, where we rethink our behavior towards God and His creation so that future Generations can still live the dream of a dignified and caring life. One of our elderly homeless to whom I brought food over the past weeks has inspired me in so many ways as he wrote me with such a sincere heart words of faith and encouragement. He found in our church a place that gave him dignity and respect, a place where he could live the remaining years of his life in a loving church community. 
    Easter is our Hope for our own resurrection. We share this hope with each other being assured in our faith that this current situation will pass, that our Life is not defined by death, but by God's enduring Love that has conquered death. 

I wish you all from the bottom of my heart a Blessed and Joyous Easter !
May you all have the courage of faith to live toward a better future and care for each other as Christ cared for us giving us the promise that we are not left behind like orphans, but that we are called to be followers of this New Covenant of a holy people reconciled with God.

 With my prayers and apostolic benedictions until we shall see us again,
Yours
+Karl
Ecumenical Primate

ECCC NEWS

Russia:
On March 11th, A. D. 2020, the day of Saints Fina of San Gimignano and Euthymius II of Novgorod, We signed the Tomos with The Apostolic Orthodox Church of Russia represented by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Moscow and Primate, His Grace, Vitaliy Kujevatov. We welcome wholeheartedly our brothers and sisters in to our worldwide Church Communion. I wanted to give special thanks to our Nuncio for Eastern and Northern Europe, H. E. Archbishop ++Hristo Pissarov for his tireless work to have made this happen by the Grace of God!
Over the past years, we have signed 2 Tomos and 2 Concordats of Full Union with Orthodox churches of the East: The Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, Ukraine, and two Russian Orthodox Churches. 
May God bless our work toward Unity in diversity. 

Hungary:
We welcome our new brother for the NOSF, Rev. Akos Konya, his wife and two sons into our Church. He serves as Hospital Chaplain in Hungary. May you all be blessed! 

India:
We welcome our new priests in India Fr. Philip Peter Lopez, Fr. Johnson Tomas!  Blessings to the ordination of Rev. Shinto. This brings the number of Priests for our beloved Church in India to 15. 
Thanks to our good archbishop and Nuncio for Asia, ++Dr. Sunny Alappat who works tirelessly.  

USA:
We welcome Fr. Frank Souza from the Orthodox Church who was referred to me by my good friend, H. E. Archbishop Mar Melchisedek.

Synod: Due to the Covid19 Pandemic, our Nuncio for Asia and I have decided to postpone the Synod to 2021. 
That means all other synods will follow a year later as well.