Friday, March 31, 2017


Never, never, never, let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox you must be Eastern. The West was fully Orthodox for a thousand years” - St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco.


A 1,500-year-old church in the city of Rome which was buried under debris from an earthquake for more than a millennium has reopened to the public after a painstaking restoration of some of the world’s earliest Christian art.

The sixth-century church of Santa Maria Antiqua is located in the ancient Roman Forum, at the bottom of the Palatine Hill, where Roman Emperors lived for centuries. It was buried under rubble by an earthquake in AD 847.

“This church is the Sistine Chapel of the early Middle Ages," Maria Andaloro, an art historian involved in the project, told Reuters. Being buried by the earthquake saved the church from being altered in later centuries, particularly during the Counter-Reformation, said Professor Andaloro.

The main frescoes, decorating the walls of the central nave and sanctuary, were painted under Pope Martin I, who was Bishop of Rome from AD 649 to 655. Further frescoes were ordered to be painted by Pope John VII (705 to 707).

The photos of the interior of this ancient Roman church are a MUST SEE. The interior of the church looks much like Holy Cross, only on a much, much grander scale. There are none of the paintings and statuary that we see in Roman Catholic churches (both  pre and post-Vatican II), because such artwork is not ancient at all, was never used in the “undivided” Church, and only dates back to the Renaissance and Counter Reformation. 

The iconography that you see on the walls of Holy Cross parish is not “Eastern,” but was used everywhere, both East and West, in the ancient Church, and remains unchanged in the Orthodox Church to this very day. You will see the same kind of iconography in this important ancient Roman church.

In the photos you will see a large icon of the Crucifixion over where the altar was. We too have an icon of the Crucifixion above our altar. In the photos of the church you will see icons of the Saints covering the walls, just as we have on our walls at Holy Cross parish, only the church of Santa Maria Antiqua has many, many more. 

This is what all Orthodox Catholic churches looked like. There were no life-like paintings and statuary like we see in the West today. Instead, the churches were adorned with iconography. Iconography is not “Eastern.” It is, Catholic, Universal. Iconography is not mere religious art. There is a big difference. Icons are “windows into heaven” through which we see the Saints as they are now, transfigured by the grace of God.

The sixth-century church of Santa Maria Antiqua located in the ancient Roman Forum in the city of Rome is an Orthodox church. Popes Martin I, and John VII, were Orthodox popes. The Patriarchate of Rome was an Orthodox Church until 1054, when it unilaterally changed the Nicene Creed and fell away into schism, setting the stage for the Protestant Revolution of the 16th century and what has been called “the French Revolution in the Church” in the wake of Vatican II. 

Today, the Western Rite has been restored in the Orthodox Catholic Church, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and it is again possible to be an Orthodox Catholic while preserving our Western cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony. We are the ancient, contemporary, and future Church. We are the unchanging Church established by Christ himself. “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.” The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone. Tell your friends!  

Here is the link to this eye-opening article about the sixth-century church of Santa Maria Antiqua from the London telegraph:


At the time of the Papal schism in 1054, the Church in the British Isles (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) remained Orthodox. This led to the Norman Invasion and Conquest in 1066, which was launched to bring Orthodox England under papal authority.

The ancient churches in England looked like Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome. Lot’s of iconography like we have at Holy Cross parish, but no pictures or statuary. 

St. Mary’s Chapel in the palace of Westminster is a Royal Peculiar and is the chapel for the members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This chapel dates from the 13th century and, although it is post-Norman Conquest, it was built in the ancient style. I am attaching for you a link to a photograph of St. Mary’s Chapel, along with a short article about it.

This 13th century undercroft chapel is, in a word, ornate. From the patterned tile floor to the stained glass windows, and from the elaborately painted, vaulted ceilings and roof bosses to the polished, hanging lanterns, it is a visual feast. The first thing that will gain your attention is the row of beautiful icons on the wall behind the altar. Icons, but no paintings or statues. Painting and statuary are not ancient at all. They are Renaissance and Counter Reformation. You will also notice that there are no pews. Chairs now fill the nave, but anciently the naves of churches were open, with benches or chairs along the walls.

Like Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome, St. Mary’s Chapel in the palace of Westminster is much more like Holy Cross than it is like modern Roman Catholic (pre or post Vatican II), Episcopal or Protestant churches. I hope that you will view the picture of St. Mary’s Chapel. Here is the link:


This week we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. “Didn’t we celebrate that day a couple of weeks ago?”, you may ask. St. Patrick lived his entire life on what is today commonly called the Old Calendar, as did all Christians everywhere until the late 16th century. Today, March 17th Old Style (March 30th on the New Calendar) is St. Patrick’s actual “heavenly birthday.”

In the secularized West where Santa has all but replaced the Christ-child, the Easter Bunny our Lord’s Resurrection, St. Valentine’s Day has lost all connection to the martyred priest St. Valentine, and St. Patrick’s Day is about green beer and leprechauns rather than the life and work of the Apostle to the Irish, we are truly blessed to be on the Old (actually the Original) Christian Calendar. We celebrate these holy days apart from the foolishness of the world.

All Christians everywhere used the same Calendar until the late 16th century when the pope of Rome made yet another change in the practice of his Church by imposing a New Calendar that further divided Christians. Great Britain and her American colonies continued to use the Old Calendar until the middle of the 18th century, and Anglicans were the last Western Christians to give it up.

For Orthodox Christians St.Patrick’s Day is a holy day, not a holiday. A day for thanksgiving, prayer and reflection. 

I am attaching for you a wonderful article about the early Irish Church. It is titled, "A Brief History of the Irish Orthodox Church." It will both enlighten your understanding and bless your soul. I hope you will read it. Here is the link:

Holy Cross parish is one of a rapidly growing number of Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities. As a Western Rite parish we have preserved the fullness of our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church.

But the Orthodox Church does not limit itself to restoring the English and Celtic spiritual tradition alone. While we use the historic English Liturgy, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, there are also those who use the historic Roman Rite, commonly called the Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great, and some who use the ancient French (Gallican) Rite of St. Germanus of Paris.

The Western Rite Communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is already larger than some dioceses, and continues to grow and grow. There are also Western Rite communities in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and in Europe in the Serbian and Romanian Churches.

Everyone is invited to return to the Faith and Order of what is commonly called the “undivided” Church of the first millennium. The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone — clergy and laity, individuals, congregations and religious communities. The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and the post-Christian West is beginning to be re-evangelized. This is the dawn of a New Springtime for the Church, and there is a place for everyone.

For more information please visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities:

You can find Western Rite liturgical resources here:

And you can read the latest issue of The Wonderworker, the official publication of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities here:

At Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Omaha, Nebraska we pray Sunday Matins at 9:15 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM, with fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall after the liturgy. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we love being Orthodox! Come and see why.

7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Friday, March 3, 2017


Former Anglican Bishop Samuel Seamans was ordained to the Orthodox priesthood last week by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch (primate) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), for service in the Western Rite Communities. Ordinations by Metropolitan Hilarion last week included three priests, two deacons, and a number of readers.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is part of the Patriarchate of Moscow. More than 160 million of the 300 million members of the Orthodox Church are under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Today there are Western Rite congregations and monastic communities in the Russian, Romanian, Serbian and Antiochian Churches.

Fr. Samuel Seamans had been a bishop in the Diocese of Mid-America, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He and his congregation, the parish of St. Thomas in Mountain Home, Arkansas had been received into the Orthodox Church together. Two deacons were ordained with Fr. Samuel for service at St. Thomas Orthodox Church. A third man is preparing for ordination to the diaconate. St. Thomas is a Western Rite Orthodox parish and is one of a rapidly growing number of Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities in America and the Western world.

Fr. Samuel Seamans is the second Anglican bishop that I have served with that has entered the Orthodox Church with his parish and is now serving as a Western Rite Orthodox priest. For more information on St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas you can visit their website:

Today Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church and are found in both the Eastern and Western rites. Archpriest Josiah Trenham, himself a former Anglican (REC) priest, writes, “It is my estimate that there is no heterodox body in America from which more Orthodox clergy have come than the Anglican Communion. The number of Orthodox priests in this country that were previously Episcopal clergy is certainly in the hundreds” (Rock and Sand, An Orthodox Appraisal of the Protestant Reformers and Their Teachings, by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Newrome Press, c. 2015, p.193).

Some Christians have the erroneous idea that the Orthodox Church does not evangelize or is not welcoming, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The Orthodox Church is growing rapidly and expanding throughout the world. In America alone, 23% of all Orthodox Christians are converts, as are 30% of all Orthodox clergy and 43% of seminarians. The percentage of foreign born Orthodox Christians in the United States is no higher than the percentage of foreign born in America as a whole. In ROCOR, three of our bishops are converts: two from Anglicanism and one from Roman Catholicism. Converts and convert clergy are everywhere, and have risen to the highest levels of the Church.

The ROCOR Western Rite Communities function much like a diocese with Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch, as our bishop. Our Dean, Fr. Mark Rowe, is a former Anglican Archdeacon and is providing inspired leadership. I have seldom known such a hard worker or more dedicated leader. We have our own Western Rite Advisory Board, Spiritual Court, and Administrative Council. Western Rite clergy meet every year in a Western Rite Clergy Conference that brings together clergy from America and abroad. 

Clergy, laity, congregations both small and large, and monastic communities seeking entrance into the Orthodox Church are welcomed with love and dignity. The Orthodox Church wants everyone to come home, and welcomes everyone. If anyone has any doubts about the welcome they will receive or the dignity with which they will be treated during the reception process, they need only contact me or Fr. Samuel Seamans. We have both gone through the process and can put your mind at ease. The door to the Church is wide open, the welcome mat is out and the lights are on. You will be received with open arms.

For more information I encourage you to visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities:

As a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia we have preserved the fullness of our English and Celtic cultural, liturgical and spiritual patrimony and heritage in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. We are treated no differently than an Eastern Rite congregation. At Holy Cross, we even had an Episcopal Visit from Metropolitan Hilarion  a man with world-wide responsibilities — in August of 2015.

Reunion with the Orthodox Church is no longer a dream or something to be worked toward. It is a reality. You can come home right now. To remain separate when unity is possible is to needlessly perpetuate schism and to set up altar against altar. As our Lord warned, “he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Luke 11:23). 

The one requirement is unity in the Faith. There is no comprehensiveness in Orthodoxy. The fullness of the Orthodox Catholic Faith must be accepted without addition or subtraction. As St. Mark of Ephesus has said, “There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.” For those who have been struggling against the assaults of liberal-modernism and the compromises of Western religious leaders this will be good news indeed!

The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and the post-Christian West re-evangelized. This is a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. Church history is being made, and you can have a part in it. The fields are ripe for the harvest, but the laborers are still too few. Come and join us. You will be glad you did!