THE NEW FACE OF MAYAN CHRISTIANITY
ORTHODOX HOLY WEEK & EASTER OF MAYANS IN GUATEMALA
Christianity among the Mayan Native Americans is undergoing a dramatic change in places like Guatemala and Southern Mexico. This shifting of religious identity is part of a larger trend that is enveloping much of Latin America.
According to the Pew Research Center report, published in November of 2014, “historical data suggests that for most of the 20th Century, from 1900 through the 1960′s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Roman Catholic.” Remarkably, however, in just one lifetime, the Pewsurvey indicates that only “69% of adults across the region identify as Roman Catholic.”
Up until recently, Orthodox Christianity did not play much of a role in this changing landscape. Most of our parishes consisted of immigrant colonies, established mainly to perpetuate the customs, languages and traditions of their respective ethnic cultures and mother churches in Europe.
The title of a recent article in the Huffington Post by Carol Kuruvilla, however, announces a major shift in this approach to the church’s mission: “The Greek Orthodox Church In Latin America Is Not Very Greek.” Embracing this change and adapting to this new reality, Archbishop Athenagoras, since his 1996 appointment by Patriarch Bartholomew to shepherd the Central American Church, has reached out to the indigenous people of this vast region, encompassing Mexico, Central America, Columbia, Venezuela, and the Caribbean Islands. Of his 52 active clergy, only 3 are of Greek descent.
The enthusiastic reception by His Eminence Athenagoras of many thousands of Mayan Christians into the Orthodox fold has transformed his church into a unity of diverse people, sharing one faith, but speaking many native dialects, as on the day of Pentecost. On a recent visit to the village of Aguacate, he was able to begin Holy Week with the Mayan faithful, who now comprise the vast majority of his growing flock in Central America.
Eastern Orthodox Church in Guatemala
Archbishop Athenagoras begins Holy Week with his Mayan flock
The Mayan faithful celebrate Palm Sunday with Palm Crosses in hand
Archbishop Athenagoras greets his Mayan flock in Aguacate
Native Americans (tag)
ORTHODOX EASTER CELEBRATION IN SEYCHELLES
Father Sergios Janosevic &
Deacon Father Simon-Petros Nellist
of Seychelles Islands
The Orthodox faithful in Seychelles celebrated the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday, 15th of April, in a service at the conference room in Berjaya Beau Vallon hotel.
The divine liturgy was celebrated by Seychelles’ first Orthodox priest, Father Sergios (Janosevic) and archdeacon Father Simon-Petros (Nellist), both of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.
This year for Easter Liturgy we had more faithful than ever, almost all received Holy Communion. Among many children we welcomed wit lit candle, one year old baby- girl Irina, who had her first Holy Communion.
The liturgy was attended by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Seychelles, Mikhail Kalinin as well as Seychellois, Russian, Ukrainian, Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Ethiopian and Egyptian faithful living in Seychelles, and a number of Russian tourists spending their Easter holiday in the islands.
“Let all of you then enter into the joy of our Lord. The first and second enjoy your reward….All of you enjoy the banquet of faith. All of you enjoy the richness of His goodness,” said Father Sergios during the Catechetical Homily of St John, the Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople.
The victory of the Resurrection of Christ was then proclaimed.
“Let no one grieve over sins for forgiveness has dawned from the tomb. Let no one fear death; for the Death of our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.”
Father Simon-Petros, who is British, and formerly worked for many years in Seychelles, was ordained an archdeacon in 2010. With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dimitrios of Tanzania and Seychelles, Father Simon-Petros came to assist in the Paschal celebration, and conveyed good wishes from His Eminence to the faithful in Seychelles. During the liturgy father read the Easter message from the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II, who spoke of the need for peace between religions, especially in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Christ is risen! The joyous announcement of the Resurrection of Our Lord finds the Middle East, the place where God as Creator communed with man, still struggling with great sacrifices to look for justice, the eye of God on Earth, said the message of Patriarch Theodoros II.
The Patriarch’s message also lamented the spread of religious fundamentalism and the violence that it spreads, together with the lack of tolerance between different religious groups in Africa.
It is time for everyone to realize that a multicultural society essentially means a multi-religious society. In this society, peace is not possible without peace between religions. And peace between religions cannot exist without dialogue between religions. If someone think that real peace of religions, as an essential factor for world peace, is an illusion, they have only to consider that they doubt the almighty will of Gog to reveal the human race in its genuine dimensions, to place the human race on its authentic pedestal; the almighty will of God which was factually certified by the incarnation and Resurection of the Son and Word of God so that the human race be redeemed from spiritual death; said the Patriarch.
After the Liturgy, the faithful joined together for festive celebrations at the Coral Strand Hotel that were sponsored by the establishment, with many traditional Russian specialties and refreshments served. All faithful stayed long hours together talking in joyous Easter mood.
Christ is Risen , indeed He is Risen !
Father Sergios Janosevic
Orthodox mission in tropical Africa
Icons and the Black Church: The Time Has Come (& Orthodoxy in Uganda - Black Orthodoxy)
Orthodoxy in the Heart of Africa - in the Ends of the Earth!
Introduction to Apostle to Zaire - The Life and Legacy of Blessed Father Cosmas of Grigoriou