As I was preparing the music for August 20, 2017—the After-Feast of the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos—I noticed that in the first stichera at “O Lord, I have cried” for Vespers, after it states how Christ translated His Mother out of this world, and brought His disciples together to give her proper burial, it says:”. . . Then the Apostles, seeing thee, O Virgin, were filled with grace, and with exceeding great reverence, they all then sacredly worshipped thee and cried out with firm faith: O rejoice, thou who hast brought forth Great Mercy for the world.”I was really struck by the words “sacredly worshipped thee” regarding the Virgin Mary. Unless we are doing daily services, we may not hear them on August 20th except when it happens to fall on a Sunday; or perhaps we are chanting them every year but using a different translation. This particular translation from Holy Transfiguration Monastery uses the word “worship.” I kept that in mind and continued on with the second Stichera, wherein the Virgin asks the disciples how they came to know of her departure from the body and she inquires about this most wondrous sight. The disciples respond:“. . . We suddenly were all lifted upon the clouds; and as thou seest, we are come unto thine abode, now to worship thee as a holy and fiery throne, and to see thy departure and divine emigration hence, . . . .”So, again, we are called upon to pray these words of “worshipping” to the Mother of God, this time as a holy and fiery throne. It was amazing for me to see these words set in the context of the word “worship.” Yet think about all of the various titles we give to the Virgin Mary from the Canon of the Akathist to the Theotokos, such as: O Immaculate One, thou living Book of Christ; Virgin Bride of God; O Dwelling-place of Light; the Ladder which raised all from earth to grace; Uplifter of mankind; Downfall of demons; Crown of chastity; Door of hallowed Mystery, to name only a few. Then we also attribute various types to her from Scripture: the Living Ark; the Burning Bush; the Jar of Manna; the Ladder to Heaven, to name only a few.We surely honor her in our services with great and glorious titles and affirmations, but we would never think of her as the fourth Person of the Holy Trinity. Truly, our ultimate worship would only go to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in Essence, and undivided. So then, how are we to understand these words, and their meaning and place in our Orthodox theology, doctrine, and practice, if we truly believe what we pray?Since these words come from the August Menaion published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA, I decided to write to Fr. Pachomius and ask him, as I have done so many times before. His wisdom, insight and humor are always needed in moments like this. This was his response:Dear Christopher,In answer to this e-mail and that following [I wrote him twice], I’ll see you and raise you one: On September 8th, the Nativity of the Theotokos, in the Ninth Ode of the second canon, third troparion, we chant: “We worship thy swaddling clothes, O Theotokos . . .”We also chant on Orthodoxy Sunday and August 16, for the Icon not made by Hands, “We worship Thine immaculate icon, O Christ our God . . .”A clue to the answer is in the Exapostilarion for November 4 and February 14: “With longing, faith, and godly fear, * I kiss and honour thy divine * and all-immaculate icon, * showing it relative worship.”The key word here is “relative.” Absolute worship as God is given only to God, the holy Trinity. But the central miracle of Christianity is that the Word became flesh; God became man, and made man God; He deified matter itself in assuming it, so that we worship the human nature of Christ that He took from the Virgin Mary together with His divine nature that He had from before eternity as God.In his defence of the holy icons, St John of Damascus writes, “I do not worship matter; I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter; who worked out my salvation through matter” (On the Divine Images, St. John of Damascus, p. 23, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980.)So if, as St Peter says, the object of our life is to become “partakers of the divine nature” [2 Peter 1:4], then all the Saints, but most of all the Mother of God, are partakers of the divine nature, and we worship God in them and through them.Another explanation, less theologically intense, is that “worship” can also mean “show reverence to,” but the problem with this as with all words is that in different contexts it can mean different things. The explanation I still prefer is that we offer God aloneabsolute worship; but we offer, in the words of the Exapostilarion quoted above, “relative worship” to all in whom God dwells. …In Christ,Father PachomiusI found his explanation quite helpful and informative, especially his references to other places in our services where we make the same type of claim in our prayers, of worshipping the swaddling clothes of the Theotokos or the immaculate icon of Christ. I do understand the concept that he presents here. But I also must admit that I still have a little trouble with the English language when we use the word “worship” for anyone or anything other than God alone. In “The Divine Prayers and Services” by Nassar, it says that we “adore thy swaddling clothes,” and in other translations of the Apolytikion of Orthodoxy Sunday, we say “We reverence [or venerate] thine immaculate icon, O Christ our God . . . .” We do use other words for these prayers in English, and could reserve the word “worship” for God alone.With this in mind, then, we are brought to another aspect of these words we pray. Since the word “worship” is used here in English, and Fr. Pachomius says that it is to be understood as relative worship, I wondered what the actual word was in the original Greek. What word is used for all of these phrases in the above texts? So with Bishop Basil’s help, and looking online for the Greek Menaion, I came to see that the words used in all the above texts are all verbal forms of the noun προσκύνησις, proskynesis, which means to kneel or bow down before, and to show reverence and honor. It is the word we use for the veneration we give to icons and the relics of the saints. It is also the word we use when we sing, “Come let us worship and fall down before Christ,” and “For unto thee are due all glory, honor, and worship…,” and also “Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship, Master.” It is not, however, the word we use when referring to our worship and adoration of God. That word is λατρεία, latreia, which means to adore. We find the word latreia in the Doxastikon of the Aposticha for the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. At the end of this hymn we pray: “Wherefore, following their divine doctrines and believing with assurance, we worship, in one Godhead, the Father, Son, and All-holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence.” Then, in the Apolytikion of the Nativity of Christ, we have the verbal forms of both proskynesis and latreia: “. . . for they that worshipped (latreia) the stars did learn therefrom to worship (proskynesis) thee, O Sun of justice. . . .” So, instead of giving all their adoration to the stars, the wise men now came to worship and fall down before Christ Himself, the Son of God, the Sun of justice.With this last example, we see that using the word “worship” in English for both proskynesis and latreia can surely make things a bit confusing, which is what brought about this whole dilemma.So, as we celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos, her falling asleep and translation to heaven, sacredly worshiping her as the holy and fiery throne, let us do so knowing that we are offering her this “worship” as proskynesis. We bow down before her in veneration, with all honor and reverence given to her as the Mother of God, in “relative worship,” as an outward form of our worship and piety. But we also realize that she is the one who brought forth “Great Mercy for the world,” who is Christ our Lord, the pre-eternal, uncreated, Incarnate Son of God, through the good will of our Father in heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is this God, the Trinity, one in Essence, whom we worship and offer our inward form of adoration as latreia. Thus we stay true to our words and teachings, knowing that what we pray is what we believe.

As I was preparing the music for August 20, 2017—the After-Feast of the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos—I noticed that in the first stichera at “O Lord, I have cried” for Vespers, after it states how Christ translated His Mother out of this world, and brought His disciples together to give her proper burial, it says:

“. . . Then the Apostles, seeing thee, O Virgin, were filled with grace, and with exceeding great reverence, they all then sacredly worshipped thee and cried out with firm faith: O rejoice, thou who hast brought forth Great Mercy for the world.”

I was really struck by the words “sacredly worshipped thee” regarding the Virgin Mary. Unless we are doing daily services, we may not hear them on August 20th except when it happens to fall on a Sunday; or perhaps we are chanting them every year but using a different translation. This particular translation from Holy Transfiguration Monastery uses the word “worship.” I kept that in mind and continued on with the second Stichera, wherein the Virgin asks the disciples how they came to know of her departure from the body and she inquires about this most wondrous sight. The disciples respond:

“. . . We suddenly were all lifted upon the clouds; and as thou seest, we are come unto thine abode, now to worship thee as a holy and fiery throne, and to see thy departure and divine emigration hence, . . . .”

So, again, we are called upon to pray these words of “worshipping” to the Mother of God, this time as a holy and fiery throne. It was amazing for me to see these words set in the context of the word “worship.” Yet think about all of the various titles we give to the Virgin Mary from the Canon of the Akathist to the Theotokos, such as: O Immaculate One, thou living Book of Christ; Virgin Bride of God; O Dwelling-place of Light; the Ladder which raised all from earth to grace; Uplifter of mankind; Downfall of demons; Crown of chastity; Door of hallowed Mystery, to name only a few. Then we also attribute various types to her from Scripture: the Living Ark; the Burning Bush; the Jar of Manna; the Ladder to Heaven,to name only a few. 

We surely honor her in our services with great and glorious titles and affirmations, but we would never think of her as the fourth Person of the Holy Trinity. Truly, our ultimate worship would only go to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in Essence, and undivided. So then, how are we to understand these words, and their meaning and place in our Orthodox theology, doctrine, and practice, if we truly believe what we pray?

Since these words come from the August Menaion published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA, I decided to write to Fr. Pachomius and ask him, as I have done so many times before. His wisdom, insight and humor are always needed in moments like this. This was his response:

Dear Christopher,
In answer to this e-mail and that following [I wrote him twice], I’ll see you and raise you one: On September 8th, the Nativity of the Theotokos, in the Ninth Ode of the second canon, third troparion, we chant: “We worship thy swaddling clothes, O Theotokos . . .”

We also chant on Orthodoxy Sunday and August 16, for the Icon not made by Hands, “We worship Thine immaculate icon, O Christ our God . . .”

A clue to the answer is in the Exapostilarion for November 4 and February 14: “With longing, faith, and godly fear, * I kiss and honour thy divine * and all-immaculate icon, * showing it relative worship.”

The key word here is “relative.” Absolute worship as God is given only to God, the holy Trinity. But the central miracle of Christianity is that the Word became flesh; God became man, and made man God; He deified matter itself in assuming it, so that we worship the human nature of Christ that He took from the Virgin Mary together with His divine nature that He had from before eternity as God.

In his defence of the holy icons, St John of Damascus writes, “I do not worship matter; I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter; who worked out my salvation through matter” (On the Divine Images, St. John of Damascus, p. 23, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980.)

So if, as St Peter says, the object of our life is to become “partakers of the divine nature” [2 Peter 1:4], then all the Saints, but most of all the Mother of God, are partakers of the divine nature, and we worship God in them and through them.

Another explanation, less theologically intense, is that “worship” can also mean “show reverence to,” but the problem with this as with all words is that in different contexts it can mean different things. The explanation I still prefer is that we offer God alone
absolute worship; but we offer, in the words of the Exapostilarion quoted above, “relative worship” to all in whom God dwells. …

In Christ,
Father Pachomius

I found his explanation quite helpful and informative, especially his references to other places in our services where we make the same type of claim in our prayers, of worshipping the swaddling clothes of the Theotokos or the immaculate icon of Christ. I do understand the concept that he presents here. But I also must admit that I still have a little trouble with the English language when we use the word “worship” for anyone or anything other than God alone. In “The Divine Prayers and Services” by Nassar, it says that we “adore thy swaddling clothes,” and in other translations of the Apolytikion of Orthodoxy Sunday, we say “We reverence [or venerate] thine immaculate icon, O Christ our God . . . .” We do use other words for these prayers in English, and could reserve the word “worship” for God alone.

With this in mind, then, we are brought to another aspect of these words we pray. Since the word “worship” is used here in English, and Fr. Pachomius says that it is to be understood as relative worship, I wondered what the actual word was in the original Greek. What word is used for all of these phrases in the above texts? So with Bishop Basil’s help, and looking online for the Greek Menaion, I came to see that the words used in all the above texts are all verbal forms of the noun προσκύνησις, proskynesis, which means to kneel or bow down before, and to show reverence and honor. It is the word we use for the veneration we give to icons and the relics of the saints. It is also the word we use when we sing, “Come let us worship and fall down before Christ,” and “For unto thee are due all glory, honor, and worship…,” and also “Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship, Master.” It is not, however, the word we use when referring to our worship and adoration of God. That word is λατρεία, latreia, which means to adore. We find the word latreia in the Doxastikon of the Aposticha for the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. At the end of this hymn we pray: “Wherefore, following their divine doctrines and believing with assurance, we worship, in one Godhead, the Father, Son, and All-holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence.” Then, in the Apolytikion of the Nativity of Christ, we have the verbal forms of both proskynesis and latreia: “. . . for they that worshipped (latreia) the stars did learn therefrom to worship (proskynesis) thee, O Sun of justice. . . .” So, instead of giving all their adoration to the stars, the wise men now came to worship and fall down before Christ Himself, the Son of God, the Sun of justice.

With this last example, we see that using the word “worship” in English for both proskynesis and latreia can surely make things a bit confusing, which is what brought about this whole dilemma.

So, as we celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos, her falling asleep and translation to heaven, sacredly worshiping her as the holy and fiery throne, let us do so knowing that we are offering her this “worship” as proskynesis. We bow down before her in veneration, with all honor and reverence given to her as the Mother of God, in “relative worship,” as an outward form of our worship and piety. But we also realize that she is the one who brought forth “Great Mercy for the world,” who is Christ our Lord, the pre-eternal, uncreated, Incarnate Son of God, through the good will of our Father in heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is this God, the Trinity, one in Essence, whom we worship and offer our inward form of adoration as latreia. Thus we stay true to our words and teachings, knowing that what we pray is what we believe.

Sinlessness of Our Lady

How exactly does the Orthodox Church view the sinlessness of Mary? In the Liturgy it is said, “One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the Glory of God the Father” and in other places that Jesus is the only sinless one. Also, in reference to 1 John 1:8 where it says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” How can these be reconciled? Is the Theotokos all-pure, all-holy, all-blameless because of her deification through her Son, so that she is those things because her Son is, as we are holy, pure, etc. through our union to Christ?

Also, how is it that she is referred to as the only refuge for sinners, and various phrases like this? Isn’t Christ our only refuge and the salvation of sinners?

This is the main stumbling block I have with Orthodoxy right now. There seems to be varying beliefs within the Orthodoxy on the Theotokos. Didn’t St John Chrysostom teach that Mary had sinned at least once? When I read the earliest Church Fathers there seems to be little focus on Mary apart from the Christological issue of whether she was the Mother of God, or only of Christ. Doesn’t the teaching that Mary was sinless from birth state the same general concept, that Mary is more than the rest of humanity, as the Immaculate Conception (apart from the idea of original sin) except that it moves the moment of the supernatural grace of God to birth from conception? 

I am not trying to answer my own questions, but am simply not understanding how these contradictions, at least seemingly, can be resolved.


Answer

While I would love to be able to fully answer your question, it is far beyond the scope of an email, especially because full understanding of the Orthodox position, based on the tenor of your question, on the Virgin Mary requires a thorough explanation of some of the secondary issues to which you refer, such as original sin, the Immaculate Conception, supernatural grace, etc. As such, I would highly recommend that you meet in person with the parish priest at the Orthodox Church you have been visiting—he will no doubt be glad to answer the question at some depth.

I can say, in short, that the Orthodox Church believes that Mary, as a human being, could indeed have sinned, but chose not to. In the Roman Catholic understanding, it seems that Mary, who according to Roman doctrine had been exempted from the guilt of original sin [the Orthodox do not accept that humans share the guilt of the first sin but, rather, only the consequences] before all eternity, and thus could not have sinned. This is where the complexity comes in on a number of levels and which puts your question beyond the scope of an email.

Jesus Christ is Mary’s Savior, as well as ours, as testified in her own statement in St Luke—the Magnificat—where she says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” If Mary had been “sin-proofed,” so to speak, from all eternity, the Orthodox would argue as to why she would need a Savior.

Mary is the “new Eve” who said “yes” to God where the first Eve said “no.” She did have a choice, and you may wish to ask your local parish priest to share with you the text of the Kanon from Matins for the Great Feast of the Annunciation, in which you will see a beautiful dialogue between Mary and the Archangel Gabriel in which she debates whether or not to accept the archangel’s news, only in the end accepting that which he announced.

While much that the Orthodox say of Mary “sounds” similar to that which is taught by Roman Catholicism, there are serious differences on many levels. You are correct in saying, however, that the Orthodox Church does not seem to have such a highly developed mariological tradition as the Christian West; it is, at least in my experience, only in recent times, with the growing interest in Orthodoxy especially among many evangelicals, that we have had to delve so deeply—and sometimes deeper than we should—into the role of Mary. Sometimes our answers seem somewhat lame, but in reality there is only so much one can say before one must acknowledge that, while there are certain things we simply cannot fully understand about this, reasoned faith, as defined in St James, becomes the only recourse.

Our patron the virgin Mary: Mother of the Lord

Standing center in Orthodox tradition concerning the Virgin Mary is a singular concept. She is the Theotokos, the woman who bore the life-giving God into human life. Any other title or characterization of this woman, who bore Christ, has to stand on this core truth.The major feasts of the Church, those which celebrate the events of Christ’s life, all have a Marian element. In the traditional liturgical year’s cycle of these events, there is always a “synaxis” on the day that follows an event of salvation history. For instance, the synaxisof the Feast of the Nativity celebrates the motherhood of Mary. Within the Divine Liturgy, Mary is always granted esteem because she is the Theotokos. Immediately following the Anaphora (lifting up of gifts) and the Consecration in the Divine Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, the famous hymn Axion Estin is always sung, recognizing Mary’s role in the miracle of the Eucharist:

It is truly right to bless you, Theotokos,
ever blessed, most pure, and mother of our God.
More honorable than the Cherubim,
and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,
without corruption you gave birth to God the Word.
We magnify you, the true Theotokos.3

Mary, a young Hebrew woman, is the one human being to be praised by the angels of Heaven, who is ever blessed (filled with joy), most pure (filled with God’s presence and holiness), and mother (one who bore, nourished with her breasts, and raised up the man Jesus.) What can the believer do but magnify her, which is to raise her in esteem above all the inhabitants of Heaven.

Other than the many icons which celebrate Mary’s involvement in the life and work of Christ, in particular the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, the Ascension, and Pentecost, there are a host of other icons that magnify her cooperation with God’s plan of redemption and exemplify her life as a promise to all the faithful of God’s goodness, in particular the icon of the Dormition. Tradition teaches that at her death, Mary’s tomb was found empty. Most believe that she was taken from her burial site by her son to be with Him in Heaven. Others believe that perhaps she, too, awaits the final days to experience resurrection, but this is often the minority opinion. In every icon, there is a fathomless depth to the mystery of God that can be experienced in prayer and through contemplation of the icon.

No one knows the actual appearance of the Theotokos, but there is a strong, legendary tradition that she was painted by St. Luke. Whether or not there is truth to this legend, most Byzantine iconography portrays her with a characteristic appearance which involves: a narrow Semitic face, a long and slender nose, and dark brown eyes. Look for these features in ancient Byzantine icons, mentioning for example “the Mother of God, Salus Romani,” an 8th century icon found at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.4

Orthodoxy does believe, as do western Christians, that miracles can occur in connection with an icon. To delve into the history of miraculous icons of the Theotokos, is to open a search into the mystery of God that stretches far back into history and includes literally hundreds of icons. An illuminating article on this subject is found in Mother of God, Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art, a publication of the Benaki Museum in 2000. Alexei Lidov described the inherent academic difficulty in studying miracle-working icons:

A study of the stories about miracle-working icons could become a special sphere of research requiring the joint efforts of historians, art historians and philologists. Promising research areas are the study of the structure of these stories and of the interrelationship between archetypal, legendary, literary and real historical motifs. One of the difficulties is that archetypal models are sometimes not invented by the author, but are an integral part of the actual event.5

Lidov does, however, point out the value in studying the miracle-working icons of many centuries: “We immediately discover the important fact that a great deal of valuable historical information often not to be found in other sources has accumulated around the miracle.”6

Two well-known feasts reporting a miraculous aspect in Mary’s work and which also are associated with important liturgical feasts in most Orthodox traditions (especially Greek and Russian) are interesting to the ecumenical discussion of Mary as Mediatrix. They represent spiritual gifts that come to the faithful through the Theotokos, demonstrating a tradition of supplication to the Virgin Mary long before church divisions. The first feast, Theotokos of the Life-Giving Fountain, recalls an event in the 4th century in the environs of Constantinople. A young man who was to become the Byzantine Emperor, Leo the Great, was out for a daily walk when he heard the cries of a blind man with a critical thirst for water. At first, not finding any water to help the blind man, the young man then heard the voice of a woman calling him to a place of water. The place became a place of healings. The tradition of the Theotokos who gives Life-giving water, or she who metaphorically is the “Source of the Source” — that is she who is the source of Christ’s healings as represented by water, became an important feast celebrated today on the Friday following the Great Pascha, Easter. The Friday after Easter in “Bright Week” in most Eastern Orthodox churches is a surprisingly joyful celebration of Christ providing life and sustenance, physically and spiritually, to all the faithful, through his mother. The Fountain shrine is still present today, just outside modern Istanbul, having been built, destroyed and then restored many times throughout the centuries. The feast of the Theotokos of the Fountain, like all other Marian feasts, signifies a significant theological truth, in this case how Christ is the well of life, and his mother is but the fountain.7

ICON: Theotokos of the Fountain – See how Virgin Mary represents a fountain within a fountain, a source flowing with the waters of life which in reality flow from from the Source, her Son.8

A beloved title for the Theotokos in the Orthodox tradition is that of “the Panagia.” This term theologically relates most closely to the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In the sense of this title, Mary is completely holy, truly blessed and pure. The difference in the theological concepts concerning mankind’s nature and the result of sin as they relate to Virgin Mary, “Panagia” for Orthodox theology and “Immaculate Conception” for Roman Catholic theology, rests mainly on two terms that are commonly used in the ecumenical discussion between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism – that of the theological understanding of “the Fall” for Orthodox theology and that of “Original Sin” for the Roman Catholic theology. Additionally, a further theological distinction has been discovered in the ecumenical exchange, that being that the Orthodox theologian prefers to speak of “the Fall” in terms of “justice or more specifically justification” and the Roman Catholic theologian tends to speak of the “juridical effects” of “original sin.” In over-simplistically stated terms, this means that the Orthodox view the salvific work of Christ more from a point of view of “justification,” where the Roman Catholic theologian views the salvific work of Christ as a satisfaction for the sin of mankind in a juridical way. In 1986, in an ecumenical discussion between Roman Catholic theologian Edward Yarnold SJ and Orthodox theologian Bishop Kallistos Ware, at an Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary meeting in Chichester, England, we find that these two theological positions may not be as untenable as we think. Bishop Kallistos agreed that he did not find himself “so very far apart from [Father Yarnold].”11 Father Yarnold described the human condition, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, to mean that humans come into the world with a “God shaped hole in their hearts,” that “the sin of the race causes each to come into this world with this God shaped hole unfilled, with this capability of receiving the Holy Spirit unrealized … an inherited spiritual defect.” However, “because of the work for which God destined Mary, that God shaped hole was never left unfilled, there was never in her a lack of original justice.”12 Bishop Kallistos stated he believed Virgin Mary was “from the very beginning of her existence … filled with grace for the task which she had to fulfill.” He responded affirmatively to Fr. Yarnold in saying: “Do I, as an Orthodox accept that, from the very beginning of her existence the Blessed Virgin Mary was filled with grace for the task which she had to fulfill? My answer is emphatically, Yes, I do believe that. But I also believe that she was given a fuller measure of grace at the Annunciation,”13 referring to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to Mary at the moment of her fiat.

Bishop Ware explained that the Christian East sees a “continuity of sacred history” throughout the ages, putting the Mother of God in a line of humans who were seeking God in a prophetic and holy way, in a kind of growing closer and closer to the coming of salvation for humanity. Mary was “involved in the total solidarity of the human race, in our mutual responsibility”14 for the Fall.

Simply said, Orthodox theology thinks of the young Hebrew woman Mary of Galilee as a human like any other human who was or has ever been born. Her all-holiness was not a privilege, but truly a free response to God’s call. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and answered a total “yes” to the call of God’s plan for salvation.

Orthodox theology considers that humanity “fell” from God in the sin in the Garden, but that humanity continues to be born in the “image of God, (GN 1:27)” throughout the subsequent ages with the same integrity of human nature as Adam and Eve before their disobedience. The world, however, in fact the cosmos, into which subsequent human beings are born, is broken. They are whole and made in the image and likeness of God but come into a world that is filled with sinfulness. The Theotokos came into the world embracing a beautiful “imago Dei,” and received a fullness of God’s grace at the Annunciation that prepared her for her task. The fullness of the Holy Spirit came upon her with her agreement and for the subsequent Incarnation (Lk 1:35): “And the angel said to her in reply, ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’” In yet another ecumenical paper, Bishop Kallistos wrote:

Mary is an icon of human freedom and liberation. Mary is chosen, but she herself also chooses. Luke’s narrative speaks not only of divine initiative but also of human response, setting before us the entire dialectic of grace and freedom. Mary was predestined to be Mother of God, but she was also free.15

Orthodox theologian Dr. George S. Gabriel, in his book about the Theotokos entitled Mary the Untrodden Portal of God, contrasts the concepts of the all-holiness of Mary and Mary as Immaculate Conception:

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception severs Mary from her ancestors, from the forefathers, and from the rest of mankind. It marginalizes the preparatory history and economy of the Old Testament as well as the true meaning and holiness of the Theotokos herself. By severing her from fallen mankind and any consequences of the fall, this legalistic mechanism makes her personal holiness and theosis nonessential in the economy of salvation and, for that matter, even in her own salvation. Moreover, “it places in doubt her unity of nature with the human race and, therefore, the genuineness of salvation and Christ’s flesh as representative of mankind. [Qutoing, A., Yevtich, TheTheotokos: Four Homilies on the Mother of God by St. John of Damascus, 3].”16

For many Catholics, this theological debate concerning “Immaculate Conception” versus “the Panagia” is upsetting. However, in the ecumenical world there are three steps that have been discovered for churches to move forward together: 1) all must repent, 2) all must listen, and 3) all must reflect. In the Orthodox mind, words can bind down the mystery of God and words of dogmas about the Virgin Mary can become a problematic division. Ultimately, it will be those theologians, both Orthodox and Catholic, who approach these theological questions in the spirit of repentance, who pray, and who listen intently to each other, who will enlighten us further and perhaps find a ground of union. The experience of the mystery of God in liturgy and iconography of the ancient eastern tradition may help to resolve this conflict.

On another theological issue, which Protestants often question, can we say that Mary, the mother of Christ, is to be called “ever Virgin”? Undeniably, it is the Patristic heritage that upholds this truth of faith in the affirmative. The title “ever a virgin,” aeiparthenos, dates probably in its terminology to the 4th century. Origen refers to this idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary, and St. Athanasius clearly upholds it. From patristic times, Joseph is considered to be a widower who took on the responsibility of young Mary, as chosen to do so by his temple community. The brothers and sisters of the Lord, as mentioned in the New Testament, are consequently considered, in Orthodox tradition, to be Joseph’s children.

There are two special liturgical prayers of significant length that are important in the Orthodox tradition – the Akathistos (translated as “not sitting”) and the Paraklesis(Supplications to the Virgin). Again, there is a strong connection between these liturgical prayers and an iconographic tradition. The Akathistos hymn which is, in itself, a service prayed weekly throughout Great Lent, centers on the mystery of the Incarnation. Authorship is attributed to 5th-6th century hymnist Romanos the Melodist, but scholars find that his sources for the magnificent chanted poetry may have actually derived from more ancient Syriac poetry. The hymn, probably popular for many years for supplication to the Virgin Mary, was sung at a moment of crisis in the 10th century when Constantinople was menaced by invading marauders, the Avars. The legend is told that the people stood and sang the hymn all night long and the city was subsequently saved, thereby giving the title to the hymn, “Not Sitting.” In the Akathistos, a deeply mystical response is sung to repeated greetings of joy regarding the Theotokos. The greeting is a paradoxical phrase repeated over and over in the Akathistos, showing Orthodox regard for the mother of Christ to be awe-filled and beyond any kind of absolute comprehension. It is a phrase that portrays Mary, the mother of Christ, as one who experienced a betrothal with God, a spousal relationship that represents God’s offer of love and hope for response that is actually deeply biblical. The hymn represents a series of salutations to Mary, such as “Rejoice, To You through whom joy shall shine forth. Rejoice! To You through whom the curse will vanish. Rejoice! The recalling of the fallen Adam. Rejoice! The redemption of Eve’s tears. Rejoice! O height beyond human logic. Rejoice! O depth invisible even to the eyes of Angels. … Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.” Each section ends with the remarkable, “Rejoice, bride unwedded (Chaire, nymphe anymphete).” In the paradox, lies a remarkable mystery of spousal love that God offers.

In the ancient centuries of the Eastern Church, icons were connected with the singing of the Akathistos hymn. Most often, long processions would wind through narrow streets from shrine to shrine, with faithful singing the many verses of the hymn while carrying an iconographic banner or icon on stands.

The Service of the Small Paraklesis to the Most Holy Theotokos, is a liturgical service sung in the two-week Lenten period before the Feast of the Dormition, (paraklesis refers to a kind of salutation and petitioning set of prayers.) It is one of the most popular of Marian hymns and obviously demonstrates, that from ancient times Mary, the mother, is considered the mediator of the love and care of Her Son. The concluding verse of the Small Paraklesis in itself demonstrates the importance of her mediation as well as the humility of her motherhood:

I have you as Mediator
Before God who loves mankind;
May He not question my action
Before the hosts of the Angels,
I ask of you, O Virgin
Hasten now quickly to my aid.

You are a tower adorned with gold,
A city surrounded by twelve walls,
A shining throne touched by the sun,
A royal seat for the King,
O unexplainable wonder,
How do you nurse the Master?17

To enter an Orthodox Church building is to enter into the tradition of an ages-old spiritual culture where the faithful can prayerfully encounter Mary and her Son in liturgical prayer and iconography. Such an experience is discovered in liturgical chant and icons. One lights a candle and brings his or her own living light into the place of prayer. Then, it is the custom that one regards the icon of the Theotokos, bends, kisses the Child in her arms thus revering the Mother who bore Him. One then enters the community and joins the voices of joy and petition that abound, offering a sacrifice of one’s heart and one’s hands. One can’t avoid the icon of the Platytera offering her Son from the holy altar. One receives the Body and the Blood of Christ as Mary, Christ’s mother, received the body and blood of God’s son. One prays for those departed to God’s hands. On leaving the church building, one sees the icon of the Dormition above the departure way. One reflects. It is time to live the rest of one’s life with hope that Mary’s Dormition is the promise, the promise of a life with Christ that will never end. This is the Orthodox way, living with Mary.


© Virginia Kimball, Adjunct Professor, Department of Theology, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA September, 2006


[1] John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham University Press, 1979), 8-9.
[2] These three icons, Hodegetria, Eleousa, and Deesis are found on Orthodox Photos, http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Icons_and_Frescoes/Icons/Mother_of_God/index.shtml
[3] “Online Chapel,” Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, http://www.goarch.org/en/Chapel/liturgical_texts/liturgy_hchc.asp (Accessed July 20, 2006.)
[4] Image found on website, http://www.iconsexplained.com/iec/00351.htm (Accessed July 20, 2006.)
[5] Alexei Lidov, “Miracle-working Icons of the Mother of God,” in Mother of God, Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art, edited by Maria Vassilaki (Skira Editore, Milan, Italy, and Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, 2000), 49.
[6] Lidov, 47.
[7] Virginia Kimball, Liturgical Illuminations: Discovering Received Tradition in the Eastern Orthros of Feasts of the Theotokos, Doctoral Dissertation, International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio, 2003.
[8] Icon Gallery, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, http://www.goarch.org/en/resources/clipart/icondetail.asp?i=95&c=Theotokos&r=lifegivingfountain
[9] Icon of the Theotokos of Protection, privately owned by author.
[10] Platytera icon, apse and iconostasion, St. George’s Antiochian Church, Lowell, MA, http://www.saintgeorgelowell.org/photo14.html
[11] Bishop Kallistos T. Ware and Edward Yarnold SJ, “The Immaculate Conception, A Search for Convergence,” Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ESBVM Congress, Chichester, England, 1986, 11.
[12] Ware and Yarnold.
[13] Ware and Yarnold.
[14] Ware and Yarnold, 6.
[15] Kallistos Ware, “Mary Theotokos in the Orthodox Tradition,” The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1997, 14.
[16] George S. Gabriel, Ph.D., Mary, the Untrodden Portal (Thessalonica and Ridgewood, NJ: Zephr, 2000), 68.
[17] The Service of the Small Paraklesis (Intercessory Prayer) to the Most Holy Theotokos, translated and set to meter by Demetri Kangelaris and Nicholas Kasemeotes (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1984), 37-38.

PLEASE NOTE: Our Church is in the process of merging with other independent Catholic jurisdictions and reorganizing and working to align itself with the Canons of Rome and the hierarchal organizational structure of the Roman Catholic Church (at least a close similarity within our Faith and doctrinal Belief structure). This is being done because our Church’s history is rooted in the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Churches, and the Old Catholic Church doctrine is founded on the Roman Catholic Doctrine (the Western Rite). Our work is not an abbreviation of the Roman Catholic Faith nor its Doctrinal Policies, Standing and Position. We believe in the seven Sacraments and in the Catholic Faith.Christ Catholic Church is one of many branches of Catholicism. We maintain our independence in a separate Jurisdiction of the Catholic Faith and still adhere to the Old Catholic Orthodox beliefs and faith as stated in our Statement and Confession of Faith, but will be more in-line with the Roman Catholic Church in our structure and most of the Roman Canon Law, with some identification an association with Catholic Orthodoxy.The below links take you to our History, Catechism, and Canon Law pages. These pages lists our Statement and Confession of Faith describing what we believe in, and the Canon Law page lists our General Canon Laws which are in force until our Church completes a merger with several other Catholic Jurisdictions coming under our Church Jurisdiction, which we will then post in this web site a comprehensive Canon Law. After the mergers are completed we will adopt a revised Statement and Confession of Faith and Canon Laws.Though we strive to align ourselves with Rome and currently follow and practice the Western Rite Mass (Roman Catholic Mass), and eventually our Church hierarchy and structure will be similar to the Roman Catholic Church, we are not and will not be under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church or the Roman Catholic Pope – we are, and will always remain, an independent Catholic Jurisdiction. However, we do follow the mandates of the Pope in the overall operation of the Catholic Church as a Universal whole Catholic Church. We will still allow our Clergy to marry, including our Bishops, and our Holy Communion Table and Sacraments will always be free, open, and available to all who wish to share with us in the Eucharist\Sacraments, among other beliefs we will still keep as the basic tenets of our faith.Our Church existence is of the Devine intervention of God, and our mission is spreading the Good News (The Gospel of Jesus Christ) winning souls for God, and to help the less fortunate of our global Christian community, even extending our help to others of different faiths and beliefs.In our efforts to merge with other independent Catholic Jurisdictions and also in working to bring our Church in-line with the Roman Catholic Church in many areas, we use various terms from the Roman Catholic hierarchy and structure (Western Rite) and some terms from the Orthodox Catholic Church (Eastern or Byzantine Rite).In the mean time, while the Church is defining its Church hierarchy and structure and completes it reorganization and mergers, the term “Pastor” and “Priest” shall mean a validly ordained Priest. The terms “Synod of Bishops”, “Holy Synod”, “House of Bishops”, “Curia”, and “College of Bishops” shall refer to and mean “Holy Synod” – they are all one-in-the-same. For the time being, we will refer to this body as “Holy Synod”. The Holy Synod is a group of Bishops that govern and administer the affairs of the Church under the Holy See of the Synod, the Hly Synod Archbishop.To read about our Church history, Catechism, and Canon Law, please click on the links below:

My church history

Introduction to Archbishop Alfred DeLeo

Archbishop DeLeo’s calling by God to the Christian Family in the mission field started at an early age, but he did not act upon it until the late 1970’s.  Starting in the late 1970’s, Archbishop DeLeo began a long, arduous and tumultuous journey with his relationship with God.

In an Independent Catholic Church, in April, 1981, Archbishop DeLeo was ordained a Deacon, and in May, 1984, ordained as a Priest.  In August, 2000, Archbishop DeLeo was consecrated as a Bishop.  Then in December, 2002, elevated to the position of Archbishop.

His zealousness for fighting against prejudices and discrimination, advocating for the less fortunate and poor, fighting for unpopular but necessary causes, challenging his government to improve the quality of life for its citizens, became the driving force of his desire for the Priesthood.

Archbishop DeLeo is currently residing in Europe and is serving in the Christian Mission field in Europe and Eastern Europe for his Church working to improve the quality of medical care in poor countries.

Archbishop DeLeo is in Good Standing with the The Saint Francis of Assisi Mission Church (of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church of Cluj-Napoca Synod Diocese); The Old Catholic Orthodox Bishops of the Western Rite; The Roman Catholic Church; The Eastern Orthodox Churches; The Christian Orthodox Catholic Church; The Old Catholic Orthodox Church, Cluj-Napoca Synod; Grace Church of Miami Shores; the Anglican Church; Independent Catholic Churches; and their affiliated Churches and Missions world-wide.

Archbishop DeLeo is currently the acting, Presiding Archbishop-Primate and Apostolic Administrator of The Old Catholic Orthodox Bishops of the Western Rite; The Christian Orthodox Catholic Church; and the The Old Catholic Orthodox Church, Cluj- Napoca Synod.

To work with the people on the local level, he takes time out of his busy schedule to devote time as the Parish Priest at The Saint Francis of Assisi Mission Church (of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church of Cluj-Napoca Synod Diocese) in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and when visiting his home in Florida, he assists as Parish Priest at Grace Church of Miami Shores.

As part of his primary duties, Archbishop DeLeo oversees all of the world-wide mission projects for the Church.  Archbishop DeLeo is the former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and India.

Archbishop DeLeo is consecrated “Sub Conditione”.  As such, under the Sub Conditione rule, Archbishop DeLeo’s Valid Order is in the Line of Succession of the Apostles (Apostolic Succession)

Though Archbishop DeLeo is the top-ranking Archbishop of his Church, and at present there is no Office of Cardinal in his Church, his equivalent rank-in-standing to other Catholic Church jusrisdictions is as follows: he is recognized as a Superior\Major (Cardinal) Archbishop in the Roman line under the Roman Catholic Church and the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church, and a Metropolitan or Patriarch under the Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine) line by the Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine) Catholic Churches, and all Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and Anglican Churches.

During the week of March 10 – 17, 2006, in his love for and dedication to God, Jesus Christ, and the Catholic Faith, Archbishop DeLeo re-committed his life to God and Jesus Christ and was re-confirmed, re-ordained, re-consecrated and sub conditioned as a Bishop, and again, elevated to Archbishop under Sub Conditione.

Sub Conditione consecration is a procedure in which two already consecrated bishops consecrate each other, thereby sharing their apostolic lines. In that way, each of their churches recognizes without question the apostolic succession of the other. This has been used, for example, to remove doubts about the validity of Anglican and Episcopalian successions by adding the universally recognized Old Catholic line.

During and after the Second World War, Mar Georgius I, Patriarch of Glastonbury and Catholicos of the West began unifying the various strands of Old Catholics and independent Catholics. By 1956, through sub conditione consecrations, he had accumulated all sixteen lines of Apostolic succession known to exist: Syrian-Antiochene, Syrian-Malabar, Syrian-Gallican, Syro-Chaldean, Chaldean-Uniate, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian-Uniate, Order of Corporate Reunion, Old Catholic, Mariavite, Nonjuring, Anglican, Russian Orthodox, Russo-Syrian Orthodox, Greek-Melkite, and Liberal Catholic.

Bishop William Donovan who consecrated Bishop Bowman on April 18, 1996 was in the direct line of Archbishops Wadle and Aneed.  The Principal Consecrator, Bishop Donovan, was, at that time, the Primate of the American Catholic Church. Bishop Orlando Lima y Aguirre,  in the Old Catholic line of Bishops Vilatte, Mathew, De Landas, and Carfora was a second consecrator.  Bishop Grant Cover, an independent Anglican bishop, was Bishop Bowman’s third consecrator

Later in 1996, Bishop Bowman was consecrated sub conditione by Archbishop Maurice McCormick.In 1998, Bishop Bowman was again consecrated  sub conditione by  Bishop John Reeves, the pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, and Bishop of the Catholic Church of The Americas, Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, who is in the Bishop Vilatte line and also has a succession from Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa of Brazil, a Roman Catholic bishop who broke with Rome.

In 2006, Archbishop Alfred DeLeo re-affirmed and re-dedicated his life to God.  He was re-confirmed in the Catholic Faith, re-ordained, and re-consecrated sub conditione by Bishop Robert Bowman, thus bringing him in line with true Apostolic Succession.  

[Go Up]Lines of Succession

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
&
BRAZILIAN CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH

1. Scipione Rebiba, Auxiliary Bishop of Chieti, Titular Patriarch of Constantinople, was elected Titular Bishop of Amicle and Auxiliary to  Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa, Archbishop of Chieti (who later became  Pope Paul IV) on March 16, 1541. Rebiba consecrated Guilio Antonio Santoro.

2. Guilio Antonio Santoro, Archbishop of Santa Severina, was consecrated on March 12, 1566 in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. His co-consecrator’s were Annibale Caracciolo, Bishop of Isola and Giacomo de`Giacomelli, Bishopemeritus of Belcastro.  Santoro consecrated Girolama Bernerio.

3.  Girolama Bernerio, O.P., Bishop of Ascoli Piceno, was consecrated on September 7, 1586 in the Basilicaof the Twelve Holy Apostles, Rome. His co-consecrator’s were Guilio Masetti, Bishop of Reggio Emilia and Ottaviano Paravicini, Bishop of Alessandria. Bernerio consecrated Galeazzo Sanvitale.

4. Galeazzo Sanvitale, Archbishop of Bari. He was consecrated April 4, 1604 in the Chapel of the Apostolic Sacristy, Rome. His co-consecrator`s were Claudio Rangoni, Bishop of Piacenza and Giovanni Ambrogio Caccia, Bishop of Castro di Toscana. Sanvitale consecrated Lodovico Ludovisi.

5. Lodovico Ludovisi, Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna, was consecrated on May 2, 1621 in the private chapel of  Sanvitale, near St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Assisting  Sanvitale were Cosmo de Torres, Titular Archbishop of Hadrianopolis and Ottavio Ridolfi, Bishop of Atiano.  Ludovisi consecrated Luigi Caetani.

6.  Luigi Caetani, Titular Patriarch of Antioch, was consecrated on June 12, 1622 in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome. Assisting Ludovisi were:  Galeazzo Sanvitale, Archbishop emeritus of Bari and  Vulpiano Volpi, Archbishop emeritus of Chieti.  Caetani consecrated Ulderico Carpegna.

7.  Ulderico Carpegna, Bishop of Gubbio was consecrated on October 7, 1630 in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace of the Quirinal, Rome. His co-consecrator’s were Antonio Ricciulli, Bishop emeritus of Belcastro and Vicegerent of Rome, and Benedetto Landi, Bishop of Fossombrone. Carpegna consecrated Paluzzo Cardinal Paluzzi Altieri Degli Albertoni.

8. Paluzzo Cardinal Paluzzi Altieri Degli Albertoni, was consecrated on May 2, 1666 Bishop of Montefiascone e Corneto, in the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, Rome. Assisting  Carpegna were Stefano Ugolini, Titular Archbishop of Corinth and Giovanni Tommaso Pinelli, Bishop of Albenga. Altieri consecratedPietro Francesco (Vincenzo Maria) Orsini de Gravina, O.P..

9. Pietro Francesco (Vincenzo Maria) Orsini de Gravina, O.P., Cardinal Archbishop of Manfredonia (who later became Pope  Benedict XIII), was consecrated on February 3, 1675 in the Church of SS. Domenico e Sisto, Rome. His co-consecrator’s were Stefano Brancaccio, Archbishop-Bishop of Viterbo e Tuscania and Costanzo Zani, O.S.B., Bishop of Imola. Orsini consecrated Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini.

10. Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, Titular Archbishop of Theodosia, who became Pope Benedict XIV in 1740, was consecrated on July 16, 1724 in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace of the Quirinal, Rome. Orsiniwas assisted by  Giovanni Francesco Nicolai, O.F.M.Ref., Titular Archbishop of Myra and  Nicola Maria Lercari, Titular Archbishop of Nazianzus. ( **Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini and those previous to him, are in the Episcopal Lineage of His Holiness,  John Paul II – Karl Wojtyla**). Lambertini consecrated Carlo della Torre Rezzonico.

11. Carlo della Torre Rezzonico, was consecrated on March 19, 1743 and became Pope Clement XIII in 1758. His co-consecrator’s were Archbishops Scopio Borghese and  Ignatius Reali. Pope Clement XIII (Rezzonico) consecrated Bernadinus Giraud.

12. Bernadinus Giraud, was consecrated on April 26, 1767 and became a Cardinal in 1771. Assisted by Archbishop  Marcus Antonius Conti and Bishop Iosefus Maria Carafa, Cardinal Giraud consecrated on February 23, 1777 Alexander Matthaeus.

13. Alexander Matthaeus, who became a Cardinal in 1779, was consecrated on February 23, 1777. Assisted by Bishops Geraldus Macioti and  Franciscus Albertini, Cardinal Matthaeus consecrated Pietro FrancescoCardinal Galeffi. 

14. Pietro Francesco Cardinal Galeffi, who became a Cardinal in 1803, was consecrated on September 12, 1819. Assisted by Archbishops Ioannes Franciscus Falzacappa and Iosephus della Porta Rondiana, Cardinal  Galeffi consecrated Giacomo Filippo Cardinal Fransoni.

15.  Giacomo Filippo Cardinal Fransoni was consecrated on December 8, 1822 and became a Cardinal in 1826. Assisted by Patriarch Joseph Valerga and Bishop  Rudensindus Salvado, Cardinal Fransoniconsecrated Carlo Cardinal Sacconi.

16. Carlo Cardinal Sacconi was consecrated on June 8, 1851 and became a Cardinal in 1861. Assisted by Archbishops Salvator Nobili Vitelleschi and Franciscus Xaverius Fredericus de Merode, Cardinal Sacconiconsecrated Edward Henry Cardinal Howard.

17. Edward Henry Cardinal Howard was consecrated on June 30, 1872 and became a Cardinal in 1877. Assisted by Archbishops Alessandro, Sanminiatelli, Zabarella and Bishop Guilio Lenti, Cardinal Howardconsecrated Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro.

18. Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro was consecrated on December 8, 1882 and became a Cardinal 1887. In Brazil, Cardinal  Rampolla del Tindaro consecrated Joaquim Cardinal Arcoverde de Albuquerque Cavalcanti.

19. Joaquim Cardinal Arcoverde de Albuquerque Cavalcanti was consecrated, for the Roman Catholic Church, on October 26, 1890 and became a Cardinal in 1905. Cardinal de Albuquerque Cavalcanticonsecrated Sebastião Leme Cardinal da Silveira Cintra.

20. Sebastião Leme Cardinal da Silveira Cintra, was consecrated on June 4, 1911 and became an Archbishop in 1921. Assisted by  Dom Alberto Jose Goncalves and Dom Benedito Paulo Alves de Souza, Archbishop de Silveira Cintra consecrated Carlos Duarte Costa.

21. Carlos Duarte Costa who had been ordained a Roman Catholic priest on April l, 1911. Costa was consecrated a Roman Catholic bishop on December 8, 1924 and remained such until he retired in 1945. Costa retired because Rome refused to take a stand against the relocation of War Criminals from the Nazi regime to his homeland of Brazil. He served as the Patriarch of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church from 1945 to 1961. Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa consecrated Milton Cunha

22.  Milton Cunha was consecrated on June 5, 1960.  Bishop Cunha consecrated  Propheta and Giuseppe Santo Eusebio Pace. 

23. Giuseppe Santo Eusebio Pace was consecrated on October 3, 1968. Bishop Pace consecrated Ignazio Antonio Teodosio Pietroburgo.

24.  Ignazio Antonio Teodosio Pietroburgo was consecrated on October 15, 1978. Bishop Pietroburgoconsecrated Donald Lawrence Jolly-Gabriel

25.  Donald Lawrence Jolly-Gabriel was consecrated on June 25,1980 and he consecrated Denis Martel

26. Denis Martel was consecrated on July 8, 1995. Bishop Martel consecrated John Robert Reeves

27. John Robert Reeves on September 29, 1996. Bishop Reeves consecrated:

28. Robert M. Bowman in 1998.

29. Alfred DeLeo was re-confirmed in the Catholic Faith, re-ordained, and re-consecrated between March 10 – 17, 2006, sub conditione by Bishop Robert Bowman, thus bringing him in line with true Apostolic Succession..

30. Jerry Stephenson was consecrated on March 27, 2009, sub conditione by Bishop Alfred DeLeo, thus bringing him in line with true Apostolic Succession.

[Go Up]

With great joy I announce my ordination

It took me about a year but I am finally an ordained priest. I’ve been

wanting to become a priest since I was 14 years old and I was thinking

this probably would not happen anymore until I learned about the

independent Catholic and Orthodox churches. I really wanted to be in a

mainline denomination I really felt home with the Episcopal Church

but that was not in the cards for me. I also tried with the Lutheran

ELCA it took me about a year but I am finally an ordained priest. I’ve

been wanting to become a priest since I was 14 years old and I was

thinking this probably would not happen anymore until I learned about

the independent Catholic and Orthodox churches. I really wanted to be

in a mainline denomination I really felt home with the Episcopal

Church but that was not in the cards for me. I also tried with the

Lutheran ELCA and United Methodist Church but they also have no

place for people with learning disabilities to be clergy. No I know I’m

not the smartest or the brightest but I know my passion for Christ is

very real and I am truly grateful to the Archbishop Alfred Deleo who

has given me this chance. I learned that he is Registered sex offender

and people said because of this my ordination was a ballot and no one

would do anything with my church because of that. Many in the

independent Catholic Church are very petty individuals who make it

very hard to become clergy and some of them will make it way too easy.

Many clergy do not even have a college education let alone a seminary

education. I have a seminary education and I am very proud of that

because I was told that I wasn’t smart enough or good enough to go to

college to let alone get my masters in divinity. I am also working on my

doctors of ministry which I hope to accomplish in the next two years.

So maybe I’m not good enough for the Episcopal Church or the

Lutheran Church or the Methodist Church I have found a home with

the independent Catholic Church. I cannot speak for others but I

promise you if you come to my church to worship and allow me to be a

pastor for you I will do my best to represent you and teach you about

the gospel. And I would never allow register sex offender to be alone

with children ever. I’d like to practice the Episcopal church policy

where you never meet with anybody alone and you only meet with

children with their parents there. There’s nothing more that show their

safety is paramount to the ministries. I sometimes will screw up with

my worthy because I like social Grace and I have dysgraphia but I

promise you I will give you the very best I can and I thank you for g

Giving me a chance. I will try not to let you down by also no I will not let you down.

Sunday 3 April 2022Lent 5Passiontide beginsYear C

Most merciful God,

who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ

delivered and saved the world:

grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross

we may triumph in the power of his victory;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

or

Gracious Father,

you gave up your Son

out of love for the world:

lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,

that we may know eternal peace

through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

Readings

Isaiah 43.16-21


16 Thus says the Lord,
   who makes a way in the sea,
   a path in the mighty waters, 
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
   army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
   they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 
18 Do not remember the former things,
   or consider the things of old. 
19 I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert. 
20 The wild animals will honour me,
   the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
   rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people, 
21   the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise. 

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Psalm 126

1  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, •
   then were we like those who dream.
2  Then was our mouth filled with laughter •
   and our tongue with songs of joy.
3  Then said they among the nations, •
   ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
4  The Lord has indeed done great things for us, •
   and therefore we rejoiced.
5  Restore again our fortunes, O Lord, •
   as the river beds of the desert.
6  Those who sow in tears •
   shall reap with songs of joy.
7  Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed, •
   will come back with shouts of joy,
      bearing their sheaves with them.

Philippians 3.4b-14

4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

AllGlory to you, O Lord.

John 12.1-8

12Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

AllPraise to you, O Christ.

Post Communion

Lord Jesus Christ,

you have taught us

that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters

we do also for you:

give us the will to be the servant of others

as you were the servant of all,

and gave up your life and died for us,

but are alive and reign, now and for ever.

Sunday 27 March 2022 Alternative 1 of 24th Sunday of LentYear C

Reading Notes: Mothering Sunday may be celebrated in preference to the provision for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.

Collect

Merciful Lord,

absolve your people from their offences,

that through your bountiful goodness

we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins

which by our frailty we have committed;

grant this, heavenly Father,

for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

or

Merciful Lord,

you know our struggle to serve you:

when sin spoils our lives

and overshadows our hearts,

come to our aid

and turn us back to you again;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Readings

Joshua 5.9-12

9The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.’ And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.

10 While the Israelites were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Psalm 32

1  Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven, •
   and whose sin is covered.
2  Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, •
   and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3  For I held my tongue; •
   my bones wasted away
      through my groaning all the day long.
4  Your hand was heavy upon me day and night; •
   my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer.
5  Then I acknowledged my sin to you •
   and my iniquity I did not hide.
6  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ •
   and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
7  Therefore let all the faithful make their prayers to you
      in time of trouble; •
   in the great water flood, it shall not reach them.
8  You are a place for me to hide in;
      you preserve me from trouble; •
   you surround me with songs of deliverance.
9  ‘I will instruct you and teach you
      in the way that you should go; •
   I will guide you with my eye.
10  ‘Be not like horse and mule which have no understanding; •
   whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle,
      or else they will not stay near you.’
11  Great tribulations remain for the wicked, •
   but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord.
12  Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; •
   shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

2 Corinthians 5.16-end

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

AllGlory to you, O Lord.

Luke 15.1-3,11b-end

15Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

3 So he told them this parable:

11 Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ ” 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”22But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.

25 ‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” 31Then the fathersaid to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” ’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

AllPraise to you, O Christ.

Post Communion

Lord God,

whose blessed Son our Saviour

gave his back to the smiters

and did not hide his face from shame:

give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time

with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.