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Author Topic: A Blessed Great Lent to My Fellow Copts & Other Orthodox Brethren  (Read 1780 times) Average Rating: 0
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Severian
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« on: February 23, 2014, 10:26:39 PM »

My brethren, tomorrow our Holy Coptic Orthodox begins the fast of Holy and Great Lent, our sister Orthodox Churches will be starting shortly afterwards. I pray that you edify yourselves during this blessed season in commemoration of our Lord's passion and His glorious resurrection. I also humbly ask that you pray both for our beloved Church in this time of struggle and persecution and for my own wicked and abject self. Recent circumstances have stirred my spirit and have made it difficult for me to live a life acceptable to the Most-Holy Trinity. I hope to rectify this during this great fast. I am going to try and limit my time on the Internet so expect me to post less frequently.

--Your unworthy brother in Christ
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2014, 11:45:00 PM »

May you find healing and peace now to prepare you for the joy of pascha!
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 02:02:54 AM »

May you find healing and peace now to prepare you for the joy of pascha!
Thank you for your kind words. I am less than optimistic, however.
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2014, 02:10:43 AM »

Brother, remember the misery of the prodigal son, and the  joy with which his father received him as soon as he made just an effort at humility and a return home.
You are on my prayerlist now, not just for Great Lent but for all time.
Kyril
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 02:29:08 AM »

^You are too kind, I greatly appreciate it.
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2014, 02:39:10 AM »

Why is Coptic lent longer?
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2014, 02:41:57 AM »

Why is Coptic lent longer?
Well, a few years ago I asked a Reader in my Church this same question, and he gave me an excellent explanation...


















...Which I didn't pay a word of attention to. So hopefully someone else can help out.

Sorry.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 02:43:48 AM by Severian » Logged


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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2014, 10:40:53 AM »

In EO tradition the week before the Great Lent - so it's now - we start abstain from meat (and on Wednesday and Friday there is no Liturgy this week), and from the beginning of the Great Lent (the next Monday) from other things. So maybe some ages ago Copts just included this preparatory (as we say, Cheesfare) week into Great Lent?...
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2014, 11:31:27 AM »

In EO tradition the week before the Great Lent - so it's now - we start abstain from meat (and on Wednesday and Friday there is no Liturgy this week), and from the beginning of the Great Lent (the next Monday) from other things. So maybe some ages ago Copts just included this preparatory (as we say, Cheesfare) week into Great Lent?...

I've read somewhere - and now cannot find the source, of course :-/ - that the Fast of Heraclius, the week before Lent observed by the Byzantine and Coptic Orthodox Churches, was instituted by the Roman Emperor Heraclius in penitence for massacres of the Jews undertaken following the expulsion of the Persians from the Roman Empire. (The Jews in Palestine had risen in favor of the Persians apparently, and so were rather brutally dealt with when the Romans regained the area.)

If that's actually the case, then it would make sense for the week to be a strict, penitential fast instead of the dairy festival it is in places like Russia and Ukraine :-). (That being said, I'm very grateful to be celebrating Maslenitsa right now and not observing a Lenten regimen of fasting :-).)

A saving fast to all who keep it!
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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2014, 04:01:35 PM »

The Fast of Heraklius does not appear to have been adopted by the Byzantines but by the Egyptians and Syrians as a strict fast.
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2014, 04:09:20 PM »

The Fast of Heraklius does not appear to have been adopted by the Byzantines but by the Egyptians and Syrians as a strict fast.

Is this different from the fast of Nineveh?  India does not have a "Cheesefare Week" or an extra week of fasting as the Copts apparently have, and I presume, based on this, that the same is true in Syria.  But the fast of Nineveh is about as strict as they come. 
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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2014, 04:12:59 PM »

Wish the best of spiritual growth for all my Coptic and OO brethren, let us prepare together in prayer and love for Great lent.

Pray for me and forgive me, a sinner
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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2014, 04:35:11 PM »

Fast of Nineveh is two weeks before Lent and is a strict fast, as you know. This fast of Heraclius takes place this week and is another strict fast.
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2014, 05:20:05 PM »

there is more here:
http://www.suscopts.org/q&a/index.php?qid=1268&catid=147

i didn't know this!
maybe i wasn't paying attention either!
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2014, 05:34:10 PM »

Fast of Nineveh is two weeks before Lent and is a strict fast, as you know. This fast of Heraclius takes place this week and is another strict fast.

Interesting, Father.  As far as I can tell, we've never had the fast of Heraclius in India.  If it was practiced in Syria, it must not have survived into the seventeenth century.  Or is something else going on?
 
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2014, 07:14:13 PM »

I read somewhere-Marrou IIRC- that the Byzantines don't fast an extra week in order to spite the Armenians which they used to mock nby saying the fast that extra week bc of a pet dog one of their kings had lost. Which is funny and bizarre .
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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2014, 07:32:20 PM »

I read somewhere-Marrou IIRC- that the Byzantines don't fast an extra week in order to spite the Armenians which they used to mock nby saying the fast that extra week bc of a pet dog one of their kings had lost. Which is funny and bizarre .

I don't know if it's the same thing, but an EO priest once told me the "fast-free week" after the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is a "spite the Armenians" moment: that week, all the OO are fasting, so the EO instituted a fast free period.

My piety can beat up your piety.  Oh, and "your mama".  Wink
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2014, 10:46:48 PM »

Fr.  John Erickson mentions it here:

https://www.svots.edu/content/beyond-dialogue-quest-eastern-and-oriental-orthodox-unity-today

Quote
    One final example illustrates particularly vividly the ease with which a minor liturgical difference can be transformed into a symbol of division.  In the Coptic, Syrian and Armenian liturgical traditions, a week of strict fasting - variously called the Fast of Heraclius, the Fast of Ninevah or the Forefast (Arachavorats) - preceeds the “Forty-Day” Great Fast of Lent.  The same week in the Byzantine tradition calls only for abstinence from meat, not from dairy products.  The historical development of the fasting practices of these various liturgical traditions is complex, but the differences between them were not the result of any dogmatic differences. [14]   Yet in the context of church division, these differences came to be given a polemical explanation.  Here is the rubric given in the Byzantine Triodion for Cheesefare Sunday, which introduces the week in question:  “During this week the accursed Armenians fast from eggs and cheese, but we, to refute their damnable heresy, do eat both eggs and cheese for the entire week.”  What one side does is enough to prompt the other to do the opposite!  We see here the tragic way in which our sense of ecclesial identity has, in the context of division, been formed by opposition rather than by reference to a common faith.  The characteristics by which we identify ourselves and our churches as “orthodox” all too often have been simply those extrinsic elements which make us different from others.
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« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2014, 04:49:34 AM »

A dog?
 I thought they are unclean anyway?
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« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2014, 05:29:40 AM »

please forgive my childish remark in a serious topic.
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« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2014, 09:59:39 AM »

Quote
During this week the accursed Armenians fast from eggs and cheese, but we, to refute their damnable heresy, do eat both eggs and cheese for the entire week.

Quote
Nani nani boo boo, stick your head in doo doo!

This is so hilariously petty I almost spit out my Tang! (Yes, I still drink Tang.  It's not just for astronauts...)

I'm just picturing some gaunt, hollow-eyed Greek monk grimly locking eyes with an equally gaunt and hollow-eyed Armenian monk and slowly shoving hardboiled eggs and fistfuls of feta cheese into his mouth like "I'll show you, you M-word son-of-a...".  What a bunch of trifling, small-minded garbage!  Grin
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« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2014, 10:47:28 AM »

http://www.syrianorthodoxchurch.org/library/essays/fasting

Whoa, is this really the norm in the Syriac Orthodox Church? Even Lent is no longer really kept?
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« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2014, 09:30:02 PM »

Quote
During this week the accursed Armenians fast from eggs and cheese, but we, to refute their damnable heresy, do eat both eggs and cheese for the entire week.

Quote
Nani nani boo boo, stick your head in doo doo!

This is so hilariously petty I almost spit out my Tang! (Yes, I still drink Tang.  It's not just for astronauts...)

I'm just picturing some gaunt, hollow-eyed Greek monk grimly locking eyes with an equally gaunt and hollow-eyed Armenian monk and slowly shoving hardboiled eggs and fistfuls of feta cheese into his mouth like "I'll show you, you M-word son-of-a...".  What a bunch of trifling, small-minded garbage!  Grin

Welcome to Late Antiquity. 
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« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2014, 09:49:05 PM »

http://www.syrianorthodoxchurch.org/library/essays/fasting

Whoa, is this really the norm in the Syriac Orthodox Church? Even Lent is no longer really kept?

Do you have anything in particular in mind? 
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« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2014, 09:55:49 PM »

I'm just picturing some gaunt, hollow-eyed Greek monk grimly locking eyes with an equally gaunt and hollow-eyed Armenian monk and slowly shoving hardboiled eggs and fistfuls of feta cheese into his mouth like "I'll show you, you M-word son-of-a...".  What a bunch of trifling, small-minded garbage!  Grin

Welcome to Late Antiquity. 

Late antiquity?  This kind of stuff happens every time someone decides the Anastasis in Jerusalem needs to be swept.  Tongue

I'm aware of Fr Erickson's comments about Cheesefare Week, but I had in mind the specific conflict between the OO fast of Nineveh three weeks before Lent and the fast free week following the EO Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.  If anything, the fast free week should occur the following week in order to follow the pattern of gradually easing into abstinence, but it was bumped up to the week in which we are fasting strictly as a way of distinguishing their faith from ours.
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« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2014, 10:03:13 PM »

I partook of bacon with my eggs k today in order to further confound you Armenians.
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« Reply #26 on: February 25, 2014, 10:06:34 PM »

I partook of bacon with my eggs k today in order to further confound you Armenians.

We've been fast free for a week and a half.  Tongue
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« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2014, 10:12:00 PM »

I'm just picturing some gaunt, hollow-eyed Greek monk grimly locking eyes with an equally gaunt and hollow-eyed Armenian monk and slowly shoving hardboiled eggs and fistfuls of feta cheese into his mouth like "I'll show you, you M-word son-of-a...".  What a bunch of trifling, small-minded garbage!  Grin

Welcome to Late Antiquity. 

Late antiquity?  This kind of stuff happens every time someone decides the Anastasis in Jerusalem needs to be swept.  Tongue

I'm aware of Fr Erickson's comments about Cheesefare Week, but I had in mind the specific conflict between the OO fast of Nineveh three weeks before Lent and the fast free week following the EO Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.  If anything, the fast free week should occur the following week in order to follow the pattern of gradually easing into abstinence, but it was bumped up to the week in which we are fasting strictly as a way of distinguishing their faith from ours.

Yeah, I found the comments confusing.  The fast of Jonah already happened, and I am not aware of any special fasting this week, except for the usual Wed. and Fri. thing.  It could be our ancestors were stricter than we are now, or it could be some other confusion.  I don't know.
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« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2014, 10:23:46 PM »

Yeah, I found the comments confusing.  The fast of Jonah already happened, and I am not aware of any special fasting this week, except for the usual Wed. and Fri. thing.  It could be our ancestors were stricter than we are now, or it could be some other confusion.  I don't know.

It's also possible that "Armenian" doesn't mean "Salpy's people" but means "all Oriental Orthodox": EO books of a particular type and period seem to use "Armenian" as an umbrella term (you have to admit it's nicer than Monophysite or Eutychian Wink). 
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« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2014, 10:38:51 PM »

And in English it's easily confused with the Arminians which in turn, might soften some Calvinist hearts toward the Byzantines.
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« Reply #30 on: February 25, 2014, 10:41:40 PM »

^Good one.
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« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2014, 09:49:23 AM »

Welcome to Late Antiquity. 

oc.net c. 2004 is considered Late Antiquity now?  I'll inform Peter Brown.  Wink

It's also possible that "Armenian" doesn't mean "Salpy's people" but means "all Oriental Orthodox": EO books of a particular type and period seem to use "Armenian" as an umbrella term (you have to admit it's nicer than Monophysite or Eutychian Wink). 

The term "Copt" sometimes serves the same purpose for the same crew.
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« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2014, 10:52:19 AM »

Welcome to Late Antiquity. 

oc.net c. 2004 is considered Late Antiquity now?

Considering antiquated views espoused here somewhat frequently, pretty much.
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« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2014, 11:18:12 PM »

Aren't all Orthodox still stuck in late antiquity?  I mean, sure now and then we'll get really modern and do something from the tenth century or something, but don't we feel most comfortable in the sixth century?
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« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2014, 11:56:46 PM »

http://www.syrianorthodoxchurch.org/library/essays/fasting

Whoa, is this really the norm in the Syriac Orthodox Church? Even Lent is no longer really kept?

Do you have anything in particular in mind? 

There's the shortening of the Prophets' Fast before the Nativity, but this was also rather startling: "In addition to shortening the periods of other fasts for all the faithful in AD1946. Late Patriarch Yacoub III of Good Memory (+1980) permitted the Clergy and Laity to fast only in the first and last weeks of Lent in addition to Wednesdays and Fridays, permitting them to eat all sorts of food during the rest of Lent in 1966. He also permitted having festivities, weddings, baptism and liturgies and commemorations on all the days that fall between the two aforementioned weeks..."
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« Reply #35 on: February 27, 2014, 12:14:49 AM »

^This is indeed disheartening. IMHO, the Syrian Orthodox Church must recommit herself to fasting, especially in light of the tribulations she is currently suffering.
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« Reply #36 on: February 27, 2014, 05:42:52 AM »

I agree Severian, and believe that the Roman Catholics must also rediscover their tradition of fasting spirituality.

But surely in these difficult times we must all turn to prayer and fasting much more than we have done for our own salvation, for our churches and for the world.
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« Reply #37 on: February 27, 2014, 10:25:35 AM »

There's the shortening of the Prophets' Fast before the Nativity...

At least as far back as Bar Hebraeus, the Nativity Fast was of varying length in the Syriac Church.  In Hudoyo, he attests to the custom of the Orthodox West Syrians of keeping the fast for fifteen days and the custom of the Orthodox East Syrians of keeping the fast for twenty-five days, while ascetics kept the fast for the full forty days.  Even in other Orthodox traditions, the Nativity Fast is a rather fluid phenomenon: on the EO side, for example, Theodore Balsamon attests that the original fast was merely a week, and the various date-based allowances for fish, wine, etc. attest to this earlier practice.  So shortening this particular fast, IMO, is not without precedent and doesn't bother me so much on its own. 

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...but this was also rather startling: "In addition to shortening the periods of other fasts for all the faithful in AD1946. Late Patriarch Yacoub III of Good Memory (+1980) permitted the Clergy and Laity to fast only in the first and last weeks of Lent in addition to Wednesdays and Fridays, permitting them to eat all sorts of food during the rest of Lent in 1966. He also permitted having festivities, weddings, baptism and liturgies and commemorations on all the days that fall between the two aforementioned weeks..."

Yeah, you'll find that contemporary Syriac fasting requirements have been lessened in the last century.  I'm not exactly sure why that is.  Was it related to Seyfo?  Diaspora emigration?  Emulating Western Christian practice?  His Holiness' article gives a rather legalistic view of the matter: the fast was abbreviated so that it would be easier to follow, and in following it, the people would not be guilty of sin (whereas if they kept the original rule and people simply didn't follow it, they would've sinned).  The only other "apostolic" Church I've ever heard espouse such thinking is the RCC: compared to them, the Syrians are still OK, but the change is rather unsettling for me as well.  I don't want to judge it before I know more about what led to the change. 

Anyway, the Syrian Orthodox people I know keep the full fast even if the "obligation" is for much less, so I'm not sure if they are a reflection of what normal people do or if I just happen to know really holy people despite not being holy myself. 
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« Reply #38 on: February 28, 2014, 09:21:10 AM »

All of these answers, while interesting in themselves, seem to avoid the question of 'what is the purpose of fasting?'
By disciplining our bodies we focus on our weaknesses and our need for God.
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« Reply #39 on: February 28, 2014, 10:24:10 AM »

His Holiness' article gives a rather legalistic view of the matter: the fast was abbreviated so that it would be easier to follow, and in following it, the people would not be guilty of sin (whereas if they kept the original rule and people simply didn't follow it, they would've sinned).  The only other "apostolic" Church I've ever heard espouse such thinking is the RCC: compared to them, the Syrians are still OK, but the change is rather unsettling for me as well.

I've wondered about this issue some myself, especially as one who is not good at fasting. I have issues with the weekly and the prolonged fast. I know the fact that it's a struggle is normal and good, but I struggle with the idea of sin in this. My wise confessor, who I respect very much, gave me some words on this a few years ago. I asked if breaking a fast is a sin to be confessed, and he told me that, yes, it is. He explained that the weekly fasts go all the way to the apostles as testified in the Didache, so that fasting is a discipline that is based on the shared practice of the apostles and it is a regular part of Christian life. When we choose not to fast we violate the command of the apostles and "miss the mark" or the ideal for Christian life.

I don't tend to think about fasting in terms of categories like mortal and venial sin, but I do like the implicit notion in the current Latin approach that fasting should be wholly voluntary. That we should come not to avoid sin, but in a voluntary way which seeks transformation. But I'm not really sure the ideas are mutually exclusive. The unfortunate practical effect of this in the Latin rite, at least in my experience in my part of Midwestern America, is that almost nobody keeps any of old fasting practices anymore. For many Latins, the rule simply 'changed' and fasting was no longer required. I don't think that was the intention, but it was the practical effect.

I'm sure I'm just rambling at this point, but I felt like chiming in on a few things.
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« Reply #40 on: February 28, 2014, 03:04:55 PM »

The exceptions to fasting and the reduction in the number of days was granted by H.H Yakub III to just the Syriac Orthodox in India in response to a request from the Synod in India. Again at the request of the Synod in Inida, all these exceptions and reduction that was granted to the Syriac Orthodox in India has since been cancelled by H.H Zakka I by his Apostolic Encyclical No E209/09 dated 19-Dec-2009. So none of the exceptions are in place at this time.

To Mor's point the exceptions didnt change anything. Those who strictly observed the fast always did. Similarly the cancellation of the exceptions also didnt change anything; those who were not observing the fast still do not. The only difference being that those who donot observe the fast now are not doing so with the sanction of the church.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 03:06:46 PM by dhinuus » Logged

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« Reply #41 on: February 28, 2014, 05:11:59 PM »

The exceptions to fasting and the reduction in the number of days was granted by H.H Yakub III to just the Syriac Orthodox in India in response to a request from the Synod in India. Again at the request of the Synod in Inida, all these exceptions and reduction that was granted to the Syriac Orthodox in India has since been cancelled by H.H Zakka I by his Apostolic Encyclical No E209/09 dated 19-Dec-2009. So none of the exceptions are in place at this time.

This doesn't really address the reductions that, IIRC, remain in place for the Syrians outside India (based on the article cited above).  Or does another encyclical eliminate those?  It's a bit confusing.
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« Reply #42 on: February 28, 2014, 05:39:38 PM »

The exceptions to fasting and the reduction in the number of days was granted by H.H Yakub III to just the Syriac Orthodox in India in response to a request from the Synod in India. Again at the request of the Synod in Inida, all these exceptions and reduction that was granted to the Syriac Orthodox in India has since been cancelled by H.H Zakka I by his Apostolic Encyclical No E209/09 dated 19-Dec-2009. So none of the exceptions are in place at this time.

This doesn't really address the reductions that, IIRC, remain in place for the Syrians outside India (based on the article cited above).  Or does another encyclical eliminate those?  It's a bit confusing.
Encyclical No E209/09 was addressed only to the Malankara Syriac Orthodox faithful. I am not sure about the Syrians outside India.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 05:40:02 PM by dhinuus » Logged

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