Pictures of the Year

Honduran asylum-seeker Maria Meza and her daughters at the US-Mexico border. November 2018.

Would you like some milk of magnesia? asked the  grey-bobbed matriarch fresh from Standing Rock. Though I don’t think she meant any harm, she mom-shamed my sister, whose 2-month old slept swaddled to her chest. My niece was possibly the youngest marcher at the Women’s March 2017 in Washington DC. Other women would tell Abby, “You can tell her she was here some day,” but this mom told us that her son was back on the plains, recovering from a tear-gassing.

How did we end up there—sisters squeezing each other’s hands to reassure Abby, while letting her (im)possibility sink in? Would this new administration really use gas against women (and their children) on its land? Never. Surely?

We got there by metro, like the half-million other marchers that day. We got there with faith in civil rights and the laws of the land. When that mother’s story conjured fear in me, I comforted myself by mouthing from the First Amendment: “The right to petition the government peaceably for a redress of grievances.”

Most of us who marched should have been safe. Mostly, we felt safe, but only because of the tradition and the laws of the land. Something curdled under the milky surface of our democracy’s latest yield. Read More

GAY AND BI YOUTH AND SELF-HARM with a Personal Foreword by Giacomo Sanfilippo

Around 1993 or 1994, an Orthodox child of 12 or 13 attended a small mission parish where the priest conducted a weekly Bible study for that age group after the Divine Liturgy. The program was basic: they read Genesis together in sequence, week by week, with commentary by the priest and discussion by the young people.
There came the Sunday when they reached Genesis 19.
The priest gave a standard God-condemns-homosexuality explanation of the text: he spoke calmly, dispassionately, matter-of-factly—but God-condemns-homosexuality enough to wipe out a whole city.
The priest was the child’s own father. Me.
At almost 18 my beloved firstborn came out to me as gay, and told me in that same conversation that struggles with suicide began during that very Bible study. The shock when a child suddenly discovers—from one’s own father’s lips—that God had obliterated an entire city from the face of the earth over that child’s sexual orientation became almost too much for the child to live with.
The oceans of tears that I have shed from then till now, even as I write this foreword, do not compare to my child’s suffering.
This is the same child about which I wrote in “Transgenderism” Isn’t a Thing.
Pardon my language: there is no fucking “good news” in a “Gospel” that makes children want to kill themselves.
We as Church must get this right. Too many lives depend on it.
Giacomo Sanfilippo, Editor

New search has found that lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are four times more likely to self-harm than their straight peers. (Pexels) Read More



Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv

The Unification Council of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is scheduled to take place this Saturday, December 15, 2018, at which the new Primate of the Ukrainian Church will be elected. All canonical bishops of Ukraine—both those of the Moscow Patriarchate and those recently restored to communion by the Ecumenical Patriarchate—have been invited to attend as full participants eligible to be elected. 

Once the Primate of the Ukrainian Church is elected, the Tomos of Autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate will be delivered into his hands.

Wherever we stand on the question of Ukrainian autocephaly and the involvement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate—whether we are for, against, undecided, or confused—as brothers and sisters in the Orthodox faith around the world we have reached the point, now more than ever, where our only proper response is to pray: sincerely, earnestly, and most importantly, humbly, with love and forgiveness for all, and asking forgiveness of all. Only prayer such as this can arise as incense in the sight of the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-Creating, and Undivided Trinity: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Read More



By His All-Holiness
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

To the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 24)
(Poland, December 3-14, 2018)

Dear and distinguished friends,

We are pleased to send this brief greeting of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the members of the United Nations Conference of the Parties and to all people of good will assembling in Poland this year to reflect on the impact of climate change and the urgency of addressing its implications.

We also welcome this opportunity to engage with and endorse implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with a view to fostering collaborative and concerted action toward this purpose for all people and for the entire planet. We believe that it is the responsibility of faith communities to remind their respective governments of this mandate. Read More



Time flows differently during the Nativity Fast. The time until Christmas seems at once impossibly long and impossibly short. There is so much to do. And yet there is only one thing that we must do. We must wait.

We wait, while time, space, all that is and was and will be is turned inside out, because the uncontainable God is contained in a Virgin’s womb.

It was His choice, of course, to enter into space and time, to take on flesh, to become part of His own Creation. But not His choice alone. Because what He chose to do would alter all of humanity forever. So he asked permission. God asked, and waited.

And nothing happened until the young woman said yes.

She said it, not just for herself, but for all of us. Because she said yes, God took human flesh from her, as He’d taken human flesh from Adam. And just as Eve was bone of Adam’s bone, and flesh of his flesh, so the One conceived in Mary’s womb was bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh. Read More


mary-and-joseph-on-the-way-to-bethlehem_4ka_knleg__F0000 (2)

On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, my 12-year old granddaughter and I, accompanied by the mother-son team who joined us last year, will set forth on the streets of downtown Toronto to deliver cash into the hands of the homeless and the hungry whom we meet there. This will be our fourth year doing this, our second year sponsored by Orthodoxy in Dialogue.

Two-thirds of the way through the Nativity Fast, 48 very kind people have brought us to almost half of our goal of $5000. With your help, in whatever amount the Spirit moves you, we can reach our target.

Last year we collected enough to give $40 each to 50 people. We have set a higher goal this year in the hope of giving a larger amount to a larger number of people. The money you provide is not only all that stands between them and a hot meal or two (or three), but between them and a chance to come in from the cold.

Here’s a story from last year: 

Two men and one woman in their early to mid 20s sat shivering in the frigid air on the sidewalk at Yonge and Dundas, wrapped in thin blankets and leaning against the outside of the Eaton Centre. Well-dressed people scurried this way and that, perhaps on their way to do last minute shopping, or to meet friends at an elegant, candlelit restaurant, or even to attend an early Christmas Eve service at church. Everywhere, coloured lights and sparkling tinsel beckoned the moneyed to come in, spend, enjoy, feel welcome. Read More



Repent, change your mind, turn yourself around, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Follow Me.
Be poor in spirit.
Be meek.
Hunger and thirst for righteousness, not material possessions.
Be merciful.
Be pure in heart.
Be a peacemaker.
Be the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.
If you love those who love you, so what? Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Beware of practicing your piety before others.
Give alms. Pray. Fast. Read More