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Consecration of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero

LizaSymonenko

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Did you all watch the consecration? It was really interesting... the processions, the placing of the relics in the Altar Table, etc... followed by the first Divine Liturgy... it went on for hours.

"“Ground Zero is now a sacred ground, a place of memory, a place of contemplation, forgiveness and love,” said His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America during his speech, emphasizing the special symbolism of St. Nicholas, located in an area that 21 years ago became the burial place of those lost on 9/11."


 

Jetavan

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Church destroyed during 9/11 attacks consecrated as national shrine

Calatrava’s designs for the church are based on notable Byzantine-era structures, including the church of Hagia Sophia, which today is a mosque in Istanbul, and the monastery church at Chora, also in Turkey.

St. Nicholas, which plans to run a full cycle of Orthodox Christian services, will also feature dedicated interfaith and nonsectarian spaces.

The aim, according to an official statement from the archbishop on Sunday, is “to rebuild as both the original Greek Orthodox Church, but also as a space where a diversity of beliefs and respect for other faith traditions can be celebrated, taught and enshrined for all people.”
 

RaphaCam

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I was very disappointed to find out it wasn't ready when I visited NYC back in 2017. However, the whole WTC is one of the most powerful sights I ever had, and just looking at the church's building site while standing by the fountains where the towers used to be touched me deeply. It will bear witness of the holiness of human life in Orthodoxy.

It's bad that it was designed for the promotion of pan-ecumenism, specially being such an important church, but maybe is not as bad as the secular-oriented publicity around it makes it sound.
 

LizaSymonenko

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I was very disappointed to find out it wasn't ready when I visited NYC back in 2017. However, the whole WTC is one of the most powerful sights I ever had, and just looking at the church's building site while standing by the fountains where the towers used to be touched me deeply. It will bear witness of the holiness of human life in Orthodoxy.

It's bad that it was designed for the promotion of pan-ecumenism, specially being such an important church, but maybe is not as bad as the secular-oriented publicity around it makes it sound.
Well… being in such a location… and not being “inviting” to the heterodox… would miss the opportunity to introduce them to Orthodoxy.

In other words, if it were named simply St Nicholas Orthodox Church… only the Orthodox would be compelled to enter it. As it is a “National Shrine”… anyone visiting Ground Zero will wish to have a peek inside.
Who knows… perhaps the icon of the Theotokos above the Altar will touch someone’s soul… and lead them to the Church.
 

RaphaCam

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Well… being in such a location… and not being “inviting” to the heterodox… would miss the opportunity to introduce them to Orthodoxy.

In other words, if it were named simply St Nicholas Orthodox Church… only the Orthodox would be compelled to enter it. As it is a “National Shrine”… anyone visiting Ground Zero will wish to have a peek inside.
Sure, it makes sense to do some adaptations to the whole context. My problem is that the official website advertises the ecumenical chapel as an "interfaith and non-sectarian space" and mentions "inter-religious educational programs" in the agenda. Whatever the latter expression means worries me, since the church will be a showcase of the Orthodox Church.

Who knows… perhaps the icon of the Theotokos above the Altar will touch someone’s soul… and lead them to the Church.
I'm sure it will!
 

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"....save those who love the beauty of Thy house..."

In time, that love may kindle a love for the Holy Orthodox Faith.

Ground Zero is very hallowed ground, and thus very fertile ground. We must not squander this opportunity.
 
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Ground Zero is very hallowed ground, and thus very fertile ground. We must not squander this opportunity.
Most Orthodox Christians in the US didn't know or even cared about St. Nicholas church before the events of 9/11/01. Much less non-orthodox Christians. 20+ years and financial scandals squandered the opportunity plenty. If people come and see and become Christians after all these shenanigans, glory to God!
 

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In addition to serving as a Greek Orthodox parish, St. Nicholas is officially planned as a "House of Prayer for all people" that will function as a national shrine and community center, incorporating a secular bereavement space, social hall, and various educational and interfaith programs.
Wait, an interfaith church and a "secular" hall? Not to mention one that looks like a dug-up bunker... How is any of this even remotely Orthodox?

Move over MP, the EP is after your "worst thing ever" award.
 

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This shrine/church does not sit well with me at all. It's like they're mixing worldly politics and ideals with God's holy house.

Rebuild the St. Nicholas church, yes. Build a memorial shrine for 9/11, yes. But combine them both in the same building! Are you kidding me?

Leave rebuilding the church to the Orthodox and the memorial to the work of the NY governing bodies. And put them in separate locations! Not some sort of Frankensteined politicoecumenical spiritual center.

With all do respect to the victims of the terrorist attacks, what business does the Orthodox church have with building a memorial shrine to 9/11? Let alone, building one inside God's holy house as some sort of combined mission?!

Read this following excerpts, from the St. Nicholas "Shrine" website. Oh, so much wrong here. (And mind you, no mention at all on the site about the life of the actual patron of the "Shrine Church", St. Nicholas):

-"Hence, the call for the entire national Church to become stakeholders in the new Saint Nicholas at the World Trade Center."

-"In order for this edifice to truly be the National Shrine it is called to be, it must be a National Shrine for everyone. Orthodox and non-Orthodox. Christian and non-Christian. Believer and non-believer.

This does not mean that as an Orthodox House of Worship
, it will look or feel and different from any other Naos."

-"But as transfiguring as the liturgy is for the community that worships and understands what it is saying (cf. Acts 8:30,31), there is a transformative role for Saint Nicholas to play for the Nation and indeed the world."

-"This a profound responsibility to be shared by every member of our Holy Archdiocese: to uphold the re-building and ministry of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center by prayer, by fasting, by feasting, by material support, by sharing resources, by donations, by telling the story from every housetop (cf. Luke 12:3), and writing a new history of human interaction and Divine love.

This is precisely why housed within the Saint Nicholas National Shrine will be a room of special purpose, a place of quiet non-sectarian reflection and meditation
."

-"It is the witness to the triumph of our Nation's values of freedom of conscience and mutual respect for all religious expression that does not violate the freedom of others. And is this not precisely what the terrorists of 9/11 did their worst against? Did they not rob our fellow citizens and fellow human beings of their most basic freedom – the freedom to live, by the horrific and madness-fueled murders? Our answer to such negative, hate-filled nihilism must be the affirmation of life, liberty and the pursuit of true happiness."

-"That is why the Saint Nicholas National Shrine will rise in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty."

-"The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine will glow at night, illuminating the light of Christ and will serve as a beacon of hope for people of all faiths."

-"It is being rebuilt as a National Shrine and place of pilgrimage for our Nation. And in accordance with the word of the Lord, it will be a House of Prayer for all people (Mark 11:17)."

-"The National Shrine will be an important place for the millions of people who visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, giving them a place to pray, reflect, and seek solace not only in the Church itself but in the non-denominational bereavement center as well."

-"The National Shrine is the daughter of Hagia Sophia (!) and will stand as witness not only to the vitality of Holy Orthodoxy, but for America’s commitment to religious freedom."

-"The National Shrine will be a powerful symbol of the Resurrection of the World Trade Center, New York City and the United States of America."

-"We are going to open the Saint Nicholas Church and National Shrine as a sign of love, not hate, a sign of reconciliation, not of prejudice, and a sign of the ideals that exist in this great American Nation, where one’s religious liberty and freedom of conscience never excludes, but only embraces."

-"The tradition of hospitality (?) that Saint Nicholas exemplified
throughout the twentieth century will continue at the new location."

-"There will be a Meditation/Bereavement space and a Community room, housed in the upper levels above the Narthex, to welcome visitors and faithful. "

-"The parish will continue to function as a parish of the Archdiocese, but will also be a National Shrine....it's doors will be open to all."

Only God knows the true intent behind this. Yes, there is some mention about witnessing Holy Orthodoxy to the public on the website, one small paragraph crammed into all the rest of the jibberjabber:

-"..because Saint Nicholas will be the most visited church in the United States, and perhaps the world, it will provide missionary witness to Holy Orthodoxy for the many non-Orthodox that will visit the Shrine."

However, it seems a very bad idea to house God's One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church together with any worldly agenda or memoriam, no matter how well meaning it is. Yes 9/11 is a tragedy and the lives lost should be remembered but the only deaths that should be honored within an Orthodox church and its buildings is that of the Lord Jesus Himself and His people.
 

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-
 
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RaphaCam

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This shrine/church does not sit well with me at all. It's like they're mixing worldly politics and ideals with God's holy house.
Here we agree.

Rebuild the St. Nicholas church, yes. Build a memorial shrine for 9/11, yes. But combine them both in the same building! Are you kidding me?

Leave rebuilding the church to the Orthodox and the memorial to the work of the NY governing bodies. And put them in separate locations! Not some sort of Frankensteined politicoecumenical spiritual center.

With all do respect to the victims of the terrorist attacks, what business does the Orthodox church have with building a memorial shrine to 9/11? Let alone, building one inside God's holy house as some sort of combined mission?!
Since the church was destroyed in 9/11, along with thousands of living icons of Christ, I think the idea is good. It was abused, but it's good.

the only deaths that should be honored within an Orthodox church and its buildings is that of the Lord Jesus Himself and His people.
Our services pray for people in hell at least once a year (in Pentecost), and for the living heterodox many times in every liturgy, in the litanies.
 

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This shrine/church does not sit well with me at all. It's like they're mixing worldly politics and ideals with God's holy house.

Rebuild the St. Nicholas church, yes. Build a memorial shrine for 9/11, yes. But combine them both in the same building! Are you kidding me?

Leave rebuilding the church to the Orthodox and the memorial to the work of the NY governing bodies. And put them in separate locations! Not some sort of Frankensteined politicoecumenical spiritual center.
This. The Orthodox Church should be above these modernist heresies that have destroyed the RCC and liberal protestant churches. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's.
 

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Orthodoxy is blessed to have a house of worship at Ground Zero; something to witness to the faith at one of the most culturally and spiritually significant sites in the United States. And instead of building something to appropriately facilitate that witness, they built a sanitized, modernist temple to secularism. What a wasted opportunity.
 

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Imagine building a miniature version of Hagia Sophia to shine as a beacon of Orthodox tradition in the midst of globalist monuments and memories of tragedy.

Instead, they built an interfaith bunker.
 

Dominika

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Imagine building a miniature version of Hagia Sophia to shine as a beacon of Orthodox tradition in the midst of globalist monuments and memories of tragedy.

Instead, they built an interfaith bunker.
It doesn't look so bad - you see clearly it's an Orthodox church, not Catholic or something else, and it's adapted to the surrondings.
 

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Wow, Four hours. That's a long day. Especially if you are not a fan of Byzantine chant.
 

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I think some are making hay of nothing. The majority of the (admittedly not large) building is the nave. The multi-story part is the Narthex (1st floor), "prayer space" (second floor), parish hall (3rd floor). Literally the "prayer space" is an open quiet room with a view of the 9/11 site - a place for people to sit in quiet. (Which was one of the key pieces of feedback from victims' families - needing a place to sit and see, but not be enveloped by the craziness of downtown NYC.)

The consecration itself was on an accelerated timeline to have it coincide with our national meetings (Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress). The iconography is all done, but most is not mounted yet since the walls were not fully prepped yet. The second deacon in the Vespers video is Fr. Loukas's (iconographer from the Holy Mountain) assistant. They're anticipating all the preparations (stasidia/seats, iconography, etc.) to be done by October.

The Church accomplished a lot of what it was intended to - a white building in that neighborhood sticks out, draws attention, and is the only bright/white thing there (everything else being either glass or dark). The park in front adds a nice ambiance to the space. It is at an elevation - so you look up to see it (an act repeated every time we raise the Cross on Sep 14 and on the 3rd Lenten Sunday and hear the story of the deliverance from the venomous snakes in Exodus).

I'm sure that lots of people will hate the aesthetic, and others will love it. That's usually the way things go with art & architecture. It maximally utilizes the space that was afforded us (which is 3x the old St. Nicholas's footprint, but still small by our standards), and gives people a chance to step away from the hub of (insert here: capitalism, mammon, culture, whatever) and engage in sacred activity (prayer) in a consecrated space.
 

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Is St. Nicholas parish meeting there now?
 

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Wow, Four hours. That's a long day. Especially if you are not a fan of Byzantine chant.
Per the Greek custom, you've got the Orthros/Matins, then the Consecration, then the Divine Liturgy. Each individual piece is 60-90 min, creating the grand total.
 

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Is St. Nicholas parish meeting there now?
Not yet. They still have to prep the walls and install the iconography, perform finishing touches all over the place, bring in the seating ("Byzantine-style" stasidia), etc. They're anticipating it being open for regular worship & activity in October.
 

Ainnir

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Wow, Four hours. That's a long day. Especially if you are not a fan of Byzantine chant.
A normal Sunday morning is 2 1/2 hours. 🤷‍♀️
 

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This shrine/church does not sit well with me at all. It's like they're mixing worldly politics and ideals with God's holy house.
I wouldn’t worry too much, like everything else the leadership of GOARCH/EP touches I’m sure it will self-destruct.

The entire patriarchate, and especially it’s American eparchy, are involved with scandal after scandal after scandal. Let’s not forget the recent baptism or the pan-Orthodox Assembly threatening to disband because of Archbishop Elpidophoros.

This building just symbolizes the continued secularizing of that entire patriarchate.
 

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A normal Sunday morning is 2 1/2 hours. 🤷‍♀️
Yeah. Orthros in a monastery of any jurisdiction will be 2-3hours (longer on Sunday), to say nothing of the Mesonytikon, First hour, etc. At least the liturgy is not elaborate outside major feasts, IME.
 

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Yeah. Orthros in a monastery of any jurisdiction will be 2-3hours (longer on Sunday), to say nothing of the Mesonytikon, First hour, etc. At least the liturgy is not elaborate outside major feasts, IME.
The Divine Liturgy can be served with integrity in just under one hour; and in fact must be served within that time frame on military bases with multi-denominational chapels sharing the same space.
 
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I suppose it could be done if all the responses were read, rather than sung.
 

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Just sing really fast, like chipmunks... ☺ (K, sorry. I'm done now.)
 

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umm, the norm for daily (i.e non Sunday) liturgy in each monastery I've visited (to include four on Mt. Athos, the number the average pilgrim can visit on a regular visa) was indeed about an hour. The litanies were very simple (something I wish existed in parish life), the other settings a bit less so. Also, the daily population was not generally that big so the folks behind the altar did not need a long time to prepare the Holy Eucharist. I think this was especially so because they'd already done 45 min of mesonytikon, 2.5-3 hours or orthros, half an hour of the hours.........

Sunday or Great Feat liturgy was a whole different story - inherently long (orthros: three kathisma of the psalter, the anastasimatarion, and 2-4 canons. Minimum three hours); at Stavronikita as typical for Sunday at most monasteries there you got up at 1am and were done by around 7-8.
 

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Sorry I dropped a thought and should have edited this down.

umm, the norm for daily (i.e non Sunday) liturgy in each monastery I've visited (to include four on Mt. Athos, the number the average pilgrim can visit on a regular visa) was indeed about an hour. The litanies were very simple (something I wish existed in parish life), the other parts a bit less so. Also, the average daily number of attendees was not that big, so the folks behind the altar did not need a long time to prepare the Holy Eucharist. I think they were not interested in dawdling because on your average weekday they'd already done 45 min of mesonytikon, 2.5-3 hours or orthros, half an hour of the hours.........

Sunday or Great Feat liturgy was a whole different story - all the services were inherently long (orthros: three kathisma of the psalter, the anastasimatarion, and 2-4 canons. Minimum three hours), and liturgy at the end might be the shortest but still was decent length. (at Stavronikita, as typical for Sunday at most monasteries on Mt Athos, services began got up at 1am and were done by around 7-8)
 

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In my parish, the Holy Thursday service could reach four and a half hours. Longer by far than Pascha itself.
 

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I have noticed the length of the service varies by local parish traditions, choirs, etc.

In my parish for example, after the Gospel Reading, the priest reads all the names submitted to be prayed for both the living and the dead. These same names were read during the Proskomedia, but, he reads them all again at the Altar table, while the choir sings "Lord have mercy". When the church is crowded... this alone will easily add 20 minutes to the service length. On a weekday service, with 5 people present, it lasts the blink of an eye.

Some choirs are quicker... with a quicker tempo... while others sing slower... and some take long seconds to give the tone to the choir members... "la.... La... Laaaa.... La... La..... ..... .... La.... La..... " and then a quick "Amen!" is sung... so the la la la took longer than what they were getting the tone for in the first place.

All these things add time... but, unless you are ill and suffering just to stay upright... it is all a blessing... to be there... in the presence of the Lord, surrounded by the faithful... and the saints and angels.... it is all good. What's the hurry?
 
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