July 19 – Sixteenth Sunday
From The Greek Orthodox Church in America
Please pray for our Orthodox brothers and sisters who lament the conversion of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), the ancient cathedral of the Patriarch of Constantinople, into a mosque.
The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, under the presidency of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, has called upon the faithful to observe a national day of mourning on July 24, the day when Hagia Sophia will be open for Muslim prayers.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America issued a special encyclical urging “every Church toll its bells in lamentation on this day. We call for every flag of every kind that is raised on the Church property be lowered to half-mast on this day. And we enjoin every Church in our Holy Archdiocese to chant the Akathist Hymn in the evening of this day, just as we chant it on the Fifth Friday of the Great and Holy Fast.”
The announcement comes almost a week after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed the decree allowing the operation of Hagia Sophia as a “functioning mosque”, according to which the country’s General Directorate of Religious Affairs would take control of the building.
Earlier this week, The Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, issued an encyclical regarding the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. “This egregious and unnecessary action has gravely wounded all Orthodox Christians, indeed all Christians around the world and all people of faith and good will,” the encyclical reads.
“It should be allowed to retain its status quo as a place of encounter for Christians and Muslims, and for all people who desire to behold how faith in God can transform the world,” it continues.
It is recalled that Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that Hagia Sophia will be open for prayer but also for tourists who want to visit it. They said that icons and mosaics will be covered with special technology and lighting.
The decision sparked criticism from around the world.
March 8 – Second Sunday of Lent
Fighting Human Trafficking in Massachusetts
Christ is the Light of the World and he brought hope to a world of darkness. We who are redeemed in him are called to follow in his ways and become crusaders for Christ against powers of darkness.
The Massachusetts Coalition to End Human Trafficking (MCEHT) is an umbrella organization of several grassroot groups that are fighting human exploitation in Massachusetts. As they say for themselves:
We are teachers, business leaders, direct care providers, policy changers, nurses, athletes, students, artists, musicians, lawyers, chefs, accountants, web designers, activists, people of faith, neighbors, mothers, fathers, kids, friends … we are residents of Massachusetts working together to end human trafficking. And we believe that everyone has skills that will help achieve this goal.
The website for MCEHT is mceht.org. It contains a wealth of
information and resources for understanding the trafficking crisis in Massachusetts and how everyone is able to help.
February 2 – The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple: The Evil of Human Trafficking
By Isabelle Maria, CKA®—Pastoral Associate
The Pope’s prayer intention for the month of February focuses on victims of criminal human trafficking. It is often thought that trafficking of human beings for others’ pleasure is something that happens in exotic foreign lands. The truth is that the majority of human trafficking happens in the United States. Being alert to this crisis and educated about it is important for all of us as we seek justice for the oppressed.
Human trafficking is the coercion of human beings for the purpose of involuntary labor, sexual exploitation, or both. Another area of terrible concern is the organ harvesting from human persons. The CIA estimates that approximately 17,500 persons are brought into the United States each year in some form of slavery. Of the cases of trafficking in the US 41% involve an American citizen as the victim. This could be happening in your neighborhood. This past September, 2019, nine men were indicted for allegedly running a trafficking ring in Boston. This crime is very close by. As the light of the world it is imperative that we learn more and be ready to recognize signs of possible trafficking. In coming weeks there will be more news and speakers on this topic.