On Tuesday the 16th/29th of August 2013, the Spiritual Center of the Bethlehem Pilgrimage was officially inaugurated.
The Center is set up at a residence near the Basilica of the Nativity, and the Central Monastery of the Greek Orthodox located within. The residence was purchased and renovated by the Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, His Eminence Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan.
The Center is intended to include various teaching and educational departments for the youth of the Arab-speaking congregation in Bethlehem (Rum Orthodox), i.e. courses on the History of the Holy Land, the Church of Jerusalem, the Holy Sites, Byzantine Music, computer literacy, foreign languages etc.
On Wednesday the 15th/28th of August 2013, the feast of the Dormition of Theotokos was celebrated by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem at the Bier of the Mother of God.
Vespers was first held on the evening of the feast, led by the Most Reverend Joachim, Metropolitan of Zambia at the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The cantor of the Church of the Resurrection, Archimandrite f. Aristovoulos chanted the Vespers’ troparia in the Byzantine mode, especially so the Doxastikon “With a sign by the authority of God” within the eight modes (octoechos), whilst the faithful people piously observed, placing lit candles along the steps of the church.
Statement issued from the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, Balamand, on 30th August 2013
I raised my eyes to the mountains where I receive my help.
Our countries are passing through a difficult phase and challenging circumstances with their peoples being threatened by several dangers. This painful situation in which we find ourselves and in which the lives of many are threatened by killing, kidnapping, forced immigration and the use of weapons of mass destruction, violation of international law, bombs everywhere destroying the security of individuals and home countries and religion being used to implant division between compatriots, make us feel sad. The war continues to threaten our homelands and the possibilities for peace seem to be diminished. In the midst of all these circumstances our Church is well rooted in this land and we insist on certain common principles as the basis for her involvement in public affairs. She demands that international organizations adopt appropriate steps which would promote the protection of the inhabitants of these lands. She invites all interested states to abandon, directly or indirectly, all their private narrow interests in order to help prepare an appropriate context for Syria to arrive at the fundamentals of a political and peaceful solution through the logic of dialogue rather than that of deadly conflict.
"Dormition ... None born on earth are so glorified, so elevated, so exalted, as the Mother of Christ our God. When we have the great saints pray for intercession to God, we beseech them, "pray to God for us;" but when we look to her as Queen of the Almighty, we beseech her, "Most Holy Mother of God save us." And the Church, present in the great and glorious day of her triumph speaks of her as "Mother of God constant in prayer. . .” Therefore, no matter how sinful and unworthy we may be, we will gladly say that she is the Mother of the human race, and the Heavenly Mother of us all." Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky)
Last Wednesday, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Parish in Dandenong celebrated its Patronal Feast Day. On Tuesday, 27 August 2013, the Vigil Service was celebrated with the placing on the tomb of the shroud of the Mother of God. On Wednesday, 28 August 2013, a solemn service began with welcoming His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the festal Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Irinej. Concelebrating clergy came from Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney and Adelaide. Before the Divine Liturgy, the Lesser Blessing of Water took place, with the rite of the Patronal Procession solemnised following the Divine Liturgy. It was gratifying to note that in spite of the duration of the services, the church was filled with worshipers from all Orthodox traditions. There were many communicants, especially children.
This year in Moscow as part of the City Day celebrations, the Orthodox music festival "Forty forties" will take place once again. 20 Moscow parishes will take part in the festival: famous monasteries and churches of the historical part of the capital as well as the churches under construction in the “bedroom” communities of Moscow.
On specially installed stages, musical collectives of widely different genres will perform. These will include classical music orchestras, folk ensembles, famous folk-bands, and rock musicians. Theatre productions will also be held and master classes on traditional Russian crafts will be organized for all those who wish to participate.