Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in the Hellenic provinces. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained and appointed to the service of assisting the poor in Jerusalem. For this, he is called the archdeacon. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked great miracles among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him, but they were always defeated by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit, Who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, accustomed to calumnies and slander, incited the people and the elders of the people against the innocent Stephen, slandering him as though he had blasphemed against God and against Moses. False witnesses were quickly found who confirmed this.
During the Angelus of the Epiphany Benedict XVI sends his greetings to Orthodox communities, thanks all those who are trying to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians and calls for the release of tens of children abducted in the DRC. He also talks about the "disarming meekness of love" and the world's hostility.
Christmas by Eastern Churches (which falls tomorrow), the violent armed clashes in the Gaza Strip and the abducted children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are some of the issues the Pope mentioned in today's Angelus as he spoke to the faithful in St Peter's Square.
Before greeting thousands of pilgrims in various languages, Benedict XVI sent his greetings to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches (especially that of Russia) who, "following the Julian calendar will celebrate Holy Christmas tomorrow. May the memory of the birth of the Saviour rekindle in their hearts more and more the joy of being loved by God."
An Interview of His Grace, Dr. Irinej, Bishop of Bačka with Mr. Milorad Vučelić, the main Editor-In-Chief of PEČAT. This interview was published in the 44th issue, p. 17-25, of December 26, 2008.
Interview of His Grace Dr. Irinej, Bishop of Backa may read in PDF.
The Eparchy of Raska and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church has reported that on the night between 7 and 8 January, the Orthodox church of St Gregory the Theologue, in Livadje, a village near Gracanina, in central Kosmet, was demolished. When this morning, on the second day of Christmas, we found the church opened and entered, we saw a horrible sight. The icons were scattered around and some money and church artefacts were missing, local priest Svetislav Trajkovic said. The case has been reported to the Kosovo Police in Lipljan, which made an inspection. At issue is yet another in a series of attacks on Serbian sanctities, which shows to what extent the religious and cultural heritage in Kosovo-Metohija is threatened, the Eparchy’s statement reads.
The teaching about Virgin Mary.
The whole dogmatic teaching about our Lady can be condensed into these two names of hers: the Mother of God (Theotokos) and the Ever-Virgin (aiparthenos). Both names have the formal authority of the Church Universal, an ecumenical authority indeed. The Virgin Birth is plainly attested in the New Testament and has been an integral part of the Catholic tradition ever since. "Incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary" (or "Born of the Virgin Mary") is a credal phrase. It is not merely a statement of the historical fact. It is precisely a credal statement, a solemn profession of faith. The term "Ever-Virgin" was formally endorsed by the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553). And Theotokos is more than a name or an honorific title. It is rather a doctrinal definition-in one word. It has been a touchstone of the true faith and a distinctive mark of Orthodoxy even before the Council of Ephesus (432).
On the Eve of Orthodox Christmas, interim head of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad congratulated Orthodox Christians.
"Today we recall how the Son of God came down to people so that each one of us could rejoin Him. But to allow this to happen, there must be a response on our part, response worthy of divine love - our own love, active and sacrificial," the Metropolitan said in his Christmas message to believers.