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Archive for June, 2011

Just recently, I came across an article of news that was of interest. An acolyte by the name of Tigran Khachikyan became the first deaf person to be ordained a sub-deacon in the Armenian Orthodox Church this past Sunday. (A fuller account may be found here: http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/armenian-orthodox-ordain-first-deaf-sub-deacon/) God grant him many years!

Of course, I feel obliged to mention at least briefly the delicate subject of the long-standing split between the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox. For over a millennium and a half, there have been at least two major groups of Eastern Christians who have called themselves “Orthodox”, commonly referred to as the Eastern (or Chalcedonian) Orthodox and the Oriental (or non-Chalcedonian) Orthodox, respectively. (For the record, my parish belongs to the Antiochian Archdiocese, which is on the Eastern Orthodox side of the divide.) For many centuries, each of the two groups regarded itself as solely entitled to the designation of “Orthodox”, regarding the other side as heretical. However, recent ecumenical discussions have clarified the nature of the division, which seems to be due more linguistic and semantic misunderstandings, as well as cultural and political issues, than to underlying theology. Since then, there have been increasing contacts between the two sides with the hope of reestablishing communion at some unspecified date in the future. From an Eastern Orthodox point of view, there are a bewildering variety of rites, customs and traditions among the Oriental Orthodox (e.g. Coptic, Ethiopian, Syriac, Armenian, Malankara, etc.),  but the overall spirituality and ethos of Oriental Orthodoxy is very familiar and similar to that of the Greek/Byzantine and Slavonic traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy.

Also, I must confess that I am not well-informed concerning the Orthodox Christian deaf community. I have met deaf non-Orthodox Christians, and I have leaned a little bit about the subtle distinctions between Catholic and Protestant religious terminology in American Sign Language, but I know nothing of Orthodox Christian deaf culture. I did find out that “Orthodoxy has many deaf saints, Saint Mark the Deaf…the  patron saint of the deaf…St.  Cadoc (Cadfan) Llankarvansky (+580), St. Drogo (Drew) (+12th cent.),  St. Meriadoc (Meredith) (7th cent.), and St Owen Ruensky (Eugene)  (+684)” (http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/st-mark-the-deaf/). Needless to say, the subject of differing abilities in the life of the Church merits more research and education on my part.

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