7 December 2012
Ethiopian Orthodox deacons celebrate the feast of Mary of Zion in Aksum. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Several years ago, we looked at the changes confronting Ethiopian Orthodoxy —and how the role of the clergy, in particular, was evolving:
Traditionally, a priest’s primary duty is the celebration of the Qeddase — in Ethiopia, typically five priests concelebrate — and other liturgical rites, particularly burials. Liturgical festivals feature rhythmic dancing, the chanting of hymns and the recitation of religious poetry. They require the participation of numerous priests, deacons and scribes, or debtera, a class of learned men unique to the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox tradition. Knowledge of Ge’ez, the ancient liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox churches, is required of all clergy.
Monks and priests also function as nafs abbat (spiritual fathers), visiting families and serving as confessors and spiritual guides.
As a rule, parish priests marry and start families. When not attending to their liturgical and sacramental duties, they rear their children (of whom a few are expected to follow in their fathers’ footsteps) and till the soil as farmers. Parish priests survive on freewill offerings and fees for their liturgical duties, but subsist largely on their own earnings as tenant farmers.
Traditionally, Orthodox parents offer one or two sons — in rural Ethiopian families, five to six children are the norm — to the local parish priest for the priesthood or monastic life. The boy, called a kollo temari, or “grain student,” joins other boys (all of whom are between 10 and 12 years of age) who gather around a priest or scribe for daily instruction.
The boys are expected to memorize passages of Scripture, the works of the church fathers, liturgical texts and religious poetry: Some priests can recite entire books of the Bible. After a kollo temari masters his subject of study with one instructor, he tackles another field of enquiry with a new teacher, often in a different church or monastery.
This period of tutelage can last as many as 10 years, at which point the student will decide if he wants to commit himself to celibacy and enter a monastery or marry, seek ordination and join the ranks of the eparchial (diocesan) priesthood.
But as Ethiopia changes, the Orthodox laity, particularly among the urban population, are demanding more from their clergy. Long-held religious traditions are weakening. Days of abstinence from meat, fish and dairy products have long been a cornerstone of religious observance. But today, many young Ethiopian Orthodox Christians no longer observe these dietary restrictions.
Read more about Ethiopian Orthodoxy at a crossroads at a crossroads in the November 2007 issue of ONE.
6 December 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Orthodox
In the Christian village of Taybeh in Palestine, a child plays near Santa suits on the grounds of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. (photo: Miriam Sushman)
Last year, we profiled the village of Taybeh, a devoutly Christian enclave in Palestine that is facing a time of transition:
At most, 50,000 Christian Palestinians live in the West Bank — less than 2 percent of the population. Since 1967, the number of Christians in Gaza and the West Bank has dramatically declined; today, 35 percent fewer Christians reside in these territories. Intermittent war, Israeli blockades, the nearby separation barrier and the resulting economic stagnation have prompted Christians to leave en masse.
Though Taybeh’s residents remain entirely Christian, the village did not survive unscathed. Prior to 1967, more than 5,000 people called Taybeh home. But since then, most have emigrated to the Arabian Peninsula, South America, the United States and elsewhere in search of a better life. Those who stayed behind continue to struggle. Israeli occupation and tight restrictions on movement, particularly in and out of Jerusalem, have devastated the local job market. At present, Taybeh’s unemployment rate hovers at a whopping 40 percent.
“Villagers emigrate every year; the population of Taybeh now is what it was three or four thousand years ago,” says Mary Michael, Mofeed’s mother. An elementary school English teacher, Mrs. Michael also volunteers at the Taybeh Cooperative for Country Development, a women’s organization, where several times a week she coordinates events for senior citizens.
Read more about A Town Named ‘Good’ in the July 2011 issue of ONE.
5 December 2012
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine Palestinians Christian
Anticipating the feast of St. Nicholas on 6 December, a man dressed as the saint attends Pope Benedict XVI's general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. Read more about the papal audience here. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
4 December 2012
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Saints
Sister Jiji Puthuparambil, D.D.S., makes her nightly rounds in the female ward of Deivadan Center in Kerala, India. To learn more about the remarkable work she and other sisters are doing, check out Peter Lemieux’s story Fearless Grace in the July 2010 issue of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
3 December 2012
Tags: India Sisters Kerala Health Care Mental health/ mental illness
Pope Benedict XVI, who is known for his love of cats, greets one on Saturday, petting a lion cub during an audience with circus performers in Paul VI hall at the Vatican.
(photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring)
30 November 2012
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI embraces Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during a private audience at the Vatican in 2008. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Both the Latin and Orthodox churches celebrate the feast of St. Andrew today, 30 November. As Michael La Civita noted last year:
On this feast, the successor of St. Peter sends a delegation to the Turkish city of Istanbul — the former imperial city of Constantinople — where they honor the memory of Peter’s brother with the ecumenical patriarch, who according to tradition is the successor of St. Andrew.
The image above captures the fraternal closeness of the successor of St. Peter and the successor of St. Andrew.
29 November 2012
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Turkey Orthodox
While reporting on the restoration of a Russian cathedral in Moscow in 2003, journalist Sean Sprague encountered this local entrepreneur, preparing to sell apples. Read more about the impact of the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer in our July/August 2003 issue. (photo: Sean Sprague).
28 November 2012
Tags: Russia Eastern Churches Russian Orthodox Church Eastern Europe
In this 2011 image, Msgr. John Kozar captured a lovely moment at Our Lady of Peace Center outside Amman, Jordan, just before Christmas. The center offers programs for mentally and physically handicapped youths. When Msgr. Kozar visited, the people at the center were enjoying a Christmas show and visit from Santa Claus. Curious? Read more about the
2011 Journey to the Holy Land. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)
27 November 2012
Tags: Jordan Health Care Msgr. John E. Kozar Amman Mental health/ mental illness
The Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours in Trichur, India, is decorated in colorful lights on 25 November for the annual feast marking the consecration of the church. The Syro-Malabar minor basilica is located in the southern Indian state of Kerala. For more on the Syro-Malabar church, check out our profile in the January 2007 issue of ONE. You can also read Msgr. John Kozar’s recent exhortation to the Church, “Into the Deep.” (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)
26 November 2012
Tags: India Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Christians Indian Catholics
Last Monday, Monsignor John Kozar paid a visit to Sister Lily and the Holy Family Asha Niwas Social Welfare Center in New Delhi, India. He received a warm welcome from the
children and staff! (photo: CNEWA)