Monday, December 7, 2009
"The only constant in nature is change." - Heraclitus
Before you consider anything, consider this:
A good documentary:
Facts and Myths:
A true moral issue:
The Religion of the Naturalists:
On Consensus Science:
The Corruption of the Evidence By Global Warming Advocates:
Climate Change and history:
Does Rapid Global Warming Infer a Human Agent?
Is there rapid global warming?
The alarmists make one false prediction after another, and puzzle to find an explanation. One example:
Ok, here's another...
There are so many false predictions, I'll give one more:
What does the father of climatology say:
What does the Weather Channel founder say:
Money spent to prevent global warming is better spent elsewhere:
A prediction that is becoming a reality:
A pretty good news source with other resources:
My science postings:
An Orthodox view:
"Our environmental crisis is a logical consequence of the fall, not the mechanism for the Apocalypse."
By Alex McFarland
Saul of Tarsus--a passionate persecutor of the church--became Paul the believer about AD 35. The book of Acts (written by Luke) records Paul's salvation experience in chapters 9, 22, and 26. In his own writings, Paul also explains his conversion to faith (I Corinthians 9:1, 15:3-8, and Galatians 1:11-18). From about AD 48 until his death around AD 68, Paul wrote at least 13 of the New Testament's books.
The fact that Paul had originally opposed and persecuted the church proves that he could not have "invented" Christianity. Paul's use of the words "received" and "passed on"--rabbinical terms for the handing down of teachings--is significant in I Corinthians 15:3-8. In relating these facts about Jesus' death and resurrection, Paul is saying that what he presents is existing truth that he himself had received. Scholars recognize that this passage contains an early church creed (or statement of belief) that was recited by believers in the days before the New Testament had been written down. Other Scriptures that preserve the early, verbal Christian creeds include I John 4:2, Philippians 2:6, II Timothy 2:8, and Romans 1:3-4. Another notable passage is I Timothy 3:16. Not only is this a confession of belief, it may have actually been part of a hymn that was sung by early believers.
The point is this: the key teachings of the Gospel (Jesus is the sinless Son of God; He died for our sins and rose again; we receive Him as Savior through repentance and faith) pre-date Paul. Paul taught these things, expounded on these things, and was used by God to write much of the New Testament. But the core of the Gospel was being widely spread even before Paul was a believer. In the final words I Corinthians 15:8, Paul seemed to acknowledge that he was late getting to the party!
Look at Peter's sermon at Pentecost, found in Acts 2:14-40. Peter presents the core facts of the Gospel, including Jesus' Deity, death, and resurrection. Peter preaches the same truths again in Acts 3:12-18. In Acts 5:29-33, Peter addressed Jewish leaders, and again gives the key facts of the Christian message. By Acts 5:42, we read, "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."
Two important conclusions emerge: first, the early church knew what they believed, and the teachings were effectively passed on and preserved among the people, and second, Paul could not have "invented" Christianity because he was not even a believer until about two years after Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and the subsequent events of Pentecost. The early church and the content of the Gospel are clearly shown to pre-date Paul.
Colleague of Murdered Orthodox Priest Beaten in Moscow
December 6, 2009
A colleague of Russian Orthodox priest Daniil Sysoyev who was recently murdered in Moscow has been beaten.
The attack occurred on Saturday as priest Vitaly Zubkov was on his way to the St. Thomas church. "Three men attacked me. They struck me down and kicked me. At first, they beat me on the head and legs," Zubkov said.
Kirill Frolov, a friend of Sysoyev, said the attack on Zubkov was hardly accidental "taking into account that Father Vitaly was a friend of murdered missionary Father Daniil Sysoyev and that there were no attempts to rob him."
Sysoyev, 34, was shot down in his St. Thomas church in southern Moscow by a masked gunman on November 19. He was known for his active missionary work in converting Muslims and people seeking to quit religious sects into Christianity.
The priest, who was married with three children, had received numerous death threats.
Sysoyev was laid to rest at a church cemetery in the Russian capital on November 23.
Patriarch Kirill, who leads the Russian Orthodox Church, said by the coffin: "Being unable to offer any wise arguments against a priest's words in their mind and heart, and going against God's word, they cover him with libel and even raise their hand at him."
The Service of All Night Vigil started the celebration of the feast of St Gregory (Peradze) in the Warsaw chapel of his name. It was also the feast day of St Nicholas.
During the service there were guests from Georgia who were also present, who came to Warsaw to participate in the feast and to take part in the Kartvelological Conference in the name of St Gregory (Peradze), which will start on December 7, at the University of Warsaw. There was also Archbishop Andria of Samtavisi and Gori from Georgia present on the feast.
The Service was celebrated in the Polish language, which is quite unusual, as most parishes in Poland use Slavonic as their liturgical language.
After the vigil all the guests were invited for dinner, prepared by the parishioners of the chapel.
On the feast day the Divine Liturgy was celebrated. There were more than 60 people present, which made it almost impossible to get inside the small chapel.
At 16.45, the hour of the death of St. Gregory (Peradze), a wreath was placed at the board, remembering professors of Warsaw University who died during World War II. This board is placed in the area of the university and there is a name of St Gregory Peradze – who was the professor on this university before the war. During this celebration, the choir of the chapel of St. Gregory sang. Archbishop Andria also participated.
St. Gregory (Peradze) was born in 1899 in Tbilisi (Georgia). He finished a theological seminary in Tbilisi. Then he began studies in Berlin (Germany). In 1927 he received a PhD in Philosophy.
After two years he organized a Georgian Orthodox parish in Paris. In 1931 he became a monk and was the first parish priest in this parish. In 1933 he came to Poland to be a lecturer on the faculty in the Orthodox Theology Section of Warsaw University. He worked there till the break of the war.
On May 5, 1942 St. Gregory was arrested by the Germans, who then occupied Poland. The reasons are not well known, but possibly he helped Jews and cooperated with the Polish Resistance Movement. After half a year he was moved to the concentration camp in Auchwitz (Oswiecim). He died there on December 6, 1942. The reasons for murdering him are not well known. A witness said that he had volunteered for the death instead of other man there. He stood barefoot on the snow, he was bitten by fierce dogs, and then he was poured on with fuel and set on fire. Till today it is not known what happened with saint’s body.
St Gregory was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 1995. He is also well known and worshipped in Poland, as he spent many years, made a lot of his work, and died there.
The chapel of St. Gregory (Peradze) was established by Metropolitan Sawa (the head of the Polish Orthodox Church) in 2006. Then regular Services in the Polish language started to be celebrated regularly. Now all the major feasts are celebrated there also in Polish. From September 2009 Sunday School started to operate for 10 children. About 60 people regularly attend Sunday services, and it is the maximum which are able to get into the small chapel.
The chapel belongs to the Polish-Catholic Church and is used by permission by the Orthodox community.
Saint Gregory became a patron of the community because he is very close to young people, who are the members of this community. He lived not long ago in Warsaw and was active in similar spheres as people from the community (like the sciences, conferences, university lectures etc.). This saint also attracts many Georgian people, who live in Warsaw or come there for different goals – they are often present on the services.
Life of Hieromartyr Gregory (Peradze) of Georgia
Archimandrite Gregory (Peradze) was born August 31, 1899, in the village of Bakurtsikhe, in the Sighnaghi district of Kakheti. His father, Roman Peradze, was a priest.
In 1918 Gregory completed his studies at the theological school and seminary in Tbilisi and enrolled in the philosophy department at Tbilisi University. Three years later, in 1921, he began to teach at the university, but theGeorgian Church soon sent him to Germany to study theology. From1922 to 1925Gregory studied theology and eastern languages at the University of Berlin, and in 1925 he transferred to the philosophy department at theUniversity of Bonn, where he received a doctoral degree in philosophy for his dissertation “The Monastic Life inGeorgia from ItsOrigins to 1064.”Gregory continued to attend lectures in theology at the University of Louvain until 1927.
In 1927 Gregory moved to England to continue his career in academia, and there he became acquainted with the old patristic manuscripts that were preserved in the library collections of the British Museum and Oxford University. In July of that year Gregory was named an associate professor at the University of Bonn, and he returned there to lecture on the history of Georgian and Armenian literature. In 1931 Gregory was tonsured a monk, ordained a priest, and appointed dean of the Georgian church in Paris. A year later he was invited to Oxford to lecture on Georgian history.
A new period in St. Gregory’s life began later in 1932, when the Metropolitan of all Poland, Dionysius Waledinsky, invited him to be a professor of Patrology and the chair of Orthodox Theology at Warsaw University. He often delivered lectures at academic conferences and in academic centers throughout Europe. He sought tirelessly for ancient Georgian manuscripts and historical documents on the Georgian Church. His searches took him to Syria, Palestine, Greece, Bulgaria, Austria, Romania, Italy and England. As a result of his labors, many long-lost Georgian manuscripts surfaced again.
Humility and industriousness characterized the Hieromartyr Gregory throughout his life. In difficult moments he often repeated the words of St. John Chrysostom: “Glory be to God for all things!”
In the 1920s, as the Red Army was securing its occupation of Georgia, the nation’s treasures were carried away to France for safekeeping. Later, in the 1940s, Georgian society was unaware that, due to St. Gregory’s efforts alone, many treasures of Georgian national culture were spared confiscation by the Nazis in Paris. Risking execution at the hands of a firing squad, St. Gregory wrote in the official documentation presented to the Nazis that these items were of no particular value but were precious to the Georgians as part of their national consciousness.
Nor did most of Georgian society know that, in Paris, Archimandrite Gregory had founded a Georgian church in honor of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino and a parish journal called Jvari Vazisa, or “The Cross of Vines.”
In May of 1942 St. Gregory was arrested by the Gestapo. The priceless Georgian manuscripts he had preserved and many sacred objects that had been crafted by ancient Georgian masters and collected by St. Gregory during his travels (in hopes of returning them to Georgia) disappeared after his apartment was searched.
Archimandrite Gregory was arrested for sheltering and aiding Jews and other victims of the fascist persecutions. He was incarcerated at Pawiak Prison in Warsaw, and deported to Auschwitz at the beginning of November.
In the camp an inmate killed a German officer. The guards drove everyone out of the barracks absolutely naked, forcing them to stay in the below-freezing temperatures until someone confessed. St. Gregory decided to take the blame for the murder, thus saving innocent prisoners from freezing to death. The guards let loose the dogs on the martyr, poured gasoline over him, and lit him on fire. Then they said, “Poles, go warm yourselves around him, your intercessor.”
According to the official German documentation, Gregory Peradze died on December 6, 1942 [November 23, old style], at 4:45 in the afternoon. (According to another account, the martyr entered the gas chamber in place of a Jewish man with a large family. This was reported by a former prisoner, who, after being liberated, visited Metropolitan Dionysius and gave him St. Gregory’s cross.) In the end, like Christ Himself, Archimandrite Gregory died for having taken upon himself the sin of another.
Source for Life
The voice should not be languid, nor feeble, nor womanish in its tone — such a tone of voice as many are in the habit of using, under the idea of seeming important. It should preserve a certain quality, and rhythm, and a manly vigour. For all to do what is best suited to their character and sex, that is to attain to beauty of life. This is the best order for movements, this the employment fitted for every action. But as I cannot approve of a soft or weak tone of voice, or an effeminate gesture of the body, so also I cannot approve of what is boorish and rustic. Let us follow nature. The imitation of her provides us with a principle of training, and gives us a pattern of virtue....
Men of the world give many further rules about the way to speak, which I think we may pass over; as, for instance, the way jesting [joking] should be conducted. For though at times jests may be proper and pleasant, yet they are unsuited to the clerical life. For how can we adopt those things which we do not find in the holy Scriptures?
We must also take care that in relating stories we do not alter the earnest purpose of the harder rule we have set before us. "Woe unto you that laugh, for you shall weep", (Luke 6:25) says the Lord. Do we seek for something to laugh at, that laughing here we may weep hereafter? I think we ought to avoid not only broad jokes, but all kinds of jests, unless perchance it is not unfitting at the time for our conversation to be agreeable and pleasant.
In speaking of the voice, I certainly think it ought to be plain and clear. That it should be musical is a gift of nature, and is not to be won by exertion. Let it be distinct in its pronunciation and full of a manly vigour, but let it be free from a rough and rustic twang. See, too, that it does not assume a theatrical accent, but rather keeps true to the inner meaning of the words it utters.
On the Duties of the Clergy, Book 1
Is not he unjust who gives the reward before the end of the contest? Therefore the Lord says in the Gospel: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). He said not: Blessed are the rich, but the poor. By the divine judgment blessedness begins there whence human misery is supposed to spring. "Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled; Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted; Blessed are the merciful, for God will have mercy on them; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you for righteousness' sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for plentiful is your reward in heaven." A reward in the future and not in the present — in heaven, not on earth — has He promised shall be given. What further do you expect? What further is due? Why do you demand the crown with so much haste, before thou dost conquer? Why do you desire to shake off the dust and to rest? Why do you long to sit at the feast before the course is finished? As yet the people are looking on, the athletes are in the arena, and thou— do you already look for ease?
Perhaps you say, Why are the wicked joyous? Why do they live in luxury? Why do they not toil with me? It is because they who have not put down their names to strive for the crown are not bound to undergo the labours of the contest. They who have not gone down into the race-course do not anoint themselves with oil nor get covered with dust. For those whom glory awaits trouble is at hand. The perfumed spectators are wont to look on, not to join in the struggle, nor to endure the sun, the heat, the dust, and the showers. Let the athletes say to them: Come, strive with us. The spectators will but answer: We sit here now to decide about you, but you, if you conquer, will gain the glory of the crown and we shall not.
They, then, who have devoted themselves to pleasures, luxury, robbery, gain, or honours are spectators rather than combatants. They have the profit of labour, but not the fruits of virtue. They love their ease; by cunning and wickedness they heap up riches; but they will pay the penalty of their iniquity, though it be late. Their rest will be in hell, yours in heaven; their home in the grave, yours in paradise. Whence Job said beautifully that they watch in the tomb, (Job 21:32) for they cannot have the calm of quiet rest which he enjoys who shall rise again.
Do not, therefore, understand, or speak, or think as a child; nor as a child claim those things now which belong to a future time. The crown belongs to the perfect. Wait till that which is perfect has come, when you may know — "not through a glass as in a riddle, but face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12) — the very form of truth made clear. Then will be made known why that person was rich who was wicked and a robber of other men's goods, why another was powerful, why a third had many children, and yet a fourth was loaded with honours.
On the Duties of the Clergy, Book 1
Yesterday, for the feast of Saint Nicholas, Archbishop Irenaios of Crete was in Flushing, New York celebrating the Divine Liturgy in Americas largest Orthodox parish of St. Nicholas. He is visiting the United States until December 11.
Archbishop Irenaios is one of Orthodoxy's most active and inspiring bishops. He has founded many parishes and revitalized monastic life in areas of Crete. The Archbishop is also noted for his charitable nature as well. He himself notably lives an ascetic life, living as a simple monastic, despite his status as an archbishop. He has been archbishop since September 24, 2006.
After the Liturgy the parish priest introduced the Archbishop and noted how Elder Paisios would tell Cretans coming to him for advice to go back to Crete and seek counsel from Archbishop Irenaios saying: "You have the great spiritual teacher, Irenaio of Crete, and you come here? Go to him."
After saying a few words about the life and works of Saint Nicholas, Archbishop Irenaios encouraged all to ponder their own lives and what the purpose of life is. Here are a few things he said:
"Let us entreat Saint Nicholas to give us the opportunity to understand what is life. What is its true purpose. Let us live like him. People today are enclosed within themselves. Let us not live enclosed within ourselves, but let us distribute our life with our brothers and sisters and then our life will receive its purpose. The people who are near to us are those who have been entrusted to us by God. Let us love them. This is what Saint Nicholas did. He did not live for himself. He did not say, 'I have my life and I will live for myself', but he disregards his own life and runs to the seas, the storms, the trials, and the temptations of mankind. Saint Nicholas does not say that which many say today, 'Me, Me, Me' but 'Us'."
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas is located just 1500 meters east of Spata, but has been so much associated with the village that it is commonly thought to be in Spata. To add to the confusion, in 1957 the village of Spata, in the district of Ileia, came to be known as "Agios Nikolaos" or "Saint Nicholas". It is in one of the most beautiful locations in the area.
The History of the Monastery
Very little is known about the history of the Monastery. It has been determined that a chapel was probably established in the early 19th century on the spot where the Monastery stands today. The purpose for the building of this chapel seems to have been the discovery of the miraculous icon of Saint Nicholas. In 1875 a larger church replaced this chapel with the assistance of the priest Liaros of Aigion. It became a monastery initially as a Metochion of the Holy Monastery of the Taxiarchon in Aigion. The popularity of this sacred shrine seems to have been the result of the many miracles attributed to the icon of St. Nicholas, which eventually lead to the building up of cells for monks and rooms of hospitality for pilgrims.
The Discovery of the Miraculous Icon of Saint Nicholas
As to how the miraculous icon of Saint Nicholas was found, no one today is exactly sure. According to the oral tradition of the various villagers surrounding the Monastery, two stories emerge.
First, it is believed that a shepherd saw his goat with a wet beard in the area, however there was no drinking water in the area for this to be true. He followed his goat the next day when it wandered off and eventually came upon a spring. Above the spring was also a cave in which the icon of Saint Nicholas was found, to the shepherds amazement. Excitedly he ran to the village of Spata and informed the villagers of his find, and they followed him to the spring. They took the icon back with them to the village, but each night it would disappear only to be found once again at the spring.
Second, another tradition relates that nearby the village of Spata is a mountain named Gariza. During the summer months in the early 19th century the villagers would leave their sheep to graze there - especially those of two families: the Paulopoulos' and the Stamatopoulos' (whose ancestors still are in Spata). One quiet summer night, as the shepherds were watching the sheepfold, suddenly the sheep became frightened and scattered. Thinking that a wolf or some other predator may have scared them off, they called their dogs and began to investigate. Instead they discovered a bright light in the sky like a star go from west to east. They followed with their eyes this strange light until it reached another mountain named Ailia (or Prophet Elias). The next morning they told the other villagers about this strange phenomenon, most of whom remained skeptical of the shepherds tale. That night, when others went to investigate, they also beheld the same phenomenon. Others again beheld the same thing the next night as well. Was it a star? a meteor? a natural phenomenon? They tried to make a rational explanation, but in vain. They decided to investigate by grabbing their tools and clearing a path through the thick forest to where they approximated the light to have burned out each night. Eventually they came upon a spring and a little further on they found a small house which was falling apart that was enough for one person to live in. Inside the house they found the icon of Saint Nicholas. They reasoned that this must have been the spot where the light came. They took the icon therefore to the village so that it not remain in the forest. However, each night the icon would disappear, and they would find it every day next to the spring.
As to why the icon was found in the forest, it is up for speculation. The icon itself is very old and possibly went through the terrible time of Iconoclasm. Possibly the icon was hidden in the forest during Iconoclasm and forgotten.
The Feasts of the Monastery
The Monastery of Saint Nicholas celebrates two feast days: December 6th and May 10th. The reason it is celebrated on May 10 is because it is believed that on that day the sacred relics of Saint Nicholas reached the western shores of Peloponnisos as they were being transferred from Myra in Asia Minor to Bari in Italy (it reached Bari on May 20; the Russian and Bulgarian Church celebrate this on May 9). The Monastery also especially celebrates the feast days of the Holy Trinity the day after Pentecost, the Holy Apostles on June 29 and 30, and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14. These latter three feasts draw less crowds, but on the two feasts of Saint Nicholas it is estimated approximately 15,000 people make their pilgrimage.
On these feasts one often sees many acts of piety. Some people come barefoot, even in the winter. Others come on their knees, bloody from the rocky ground. Most come having fasted in order to receive the Holy Mysteries. People bring offerings of oil, candles and other things as a vow to Saint Nicholas. It is not uncommon that as they approach the wonder-working icon of Saint Nicholas, tears fill their eyes and deep sighs are heard by the faithful seeking the aid of the Saint for whatever problem they have. The icon itself is near the right choir of the nave at about a little child's level, so it is necessary for most people to kneel when they venerate the icon of Saint Nicholas. It is on these feast days as well that dozens of baptisms take place.
Miracles of the Wonder-Working Icon of Saint Nicholas
Innumerable are the miracles of Saint Nicholas at this holy shrine. Hundreds of healings of all sorts are reported. There are also many reports of visions of Saint Nicholas to those who have venerated at this shrine, often as a matter to discipline these people towards repentance for a particular evil they did. This shrine has also become a well-known place to bring the demon possessed, for whom there are many reported healings. The paralyzed have walked, the blind have received their sight, life-threatening illnesses have been erased. There are also reports of Saint Nicholas saving the Monastery and surrounding villages from disaster, such as in 1961 during a great fire which threatened to burn them down but was reverted by a strong wind allowing it to change opposite direction before hitting the Monastery.
One of the more interesting and original wonders performed at this Monastery has to do with the fact that hundreds of witnesses have seen animals enter the church unguided, approach the miraculous icon of Saint Nicholas, kneel with their hind legs in front of it, and some even venerate it. This is something my own uncle, Nikos Sanidopoulos of Patras, has seen and he related this story to me. It made such an impression on him, that he took me to this Monastery to drink from the Holy Spring and venerate the Holy Icon. My uncle saw a horse enter the church unguided and venerate the icon unguided. He is not a very religious man, but whenever he spoke of this miracle he would say it with powerful reverence and conviction. Besides horses, others have also seen this with goats and calfs from reports I have read. For example, it often has been the case that poor shepherds would vow to Saint Nicholas a goat to the Monastery to receive healing. When the healing was received they would bring the goat, but the goat would go ahead and lead the way to the Monastery, into the church, and to the icon, in front of which the goat would offer its veneration.
Besides the miraculous icon, the Monastery of Saint Nicholas is also widely known for its Ecclesiastical Orphanage founded in 1948. It is a beautiful orphanage in a beautiful area where the children receive a very good elementary education. It is also intertwined with the Monastery, so they receive a Christian upbringing as well. Behind the orphanage is also an old age home. Both of these ministries are fully funded by the Monastery, to which donations can be made.
The spot where the wonder-working icon was discovered.
The spring with the stair leading up to the church.
The Wonder-Working Icon of Saint Nicholas
Global Warming Skepticism on Rise in U.S.
The Left's Climategate: A Scandal for Journalism, Too
NBC Nightly News Takes Up ClimateGate, But Frets It Could 'Delay Taking Action'
ABC, did you get the news on 'Climategate'?
Researcher: NASA Hiding Climate Data
Climategate Reveals 'The Most Influential Tree in the World'
'Climategate' Professor Phil Jones Awarded £13 million in Research Grants
The Canadians Who Changed the Climate Debate
Obama Ignores 'Climate-Gate' in Revising Copenhagen Plans
Palin says Obama Should Boycott Copenhagen Over Hacked E-mails
The Decline They Hid: the Deleted Portion of the Briffa Reconstruction
New Zealand Climate Scientists Faked Data, Too
Atlantic Monthly on Climate Science: "The Stink of Intellectual Corruption is Overpowering"
Commenter Nails the Central Issue in ClimateGate: the Rigging of Peer-Review
Climategate: Follow the Money
Continued from Part Two...
Mary As Prophetess
Another prophecy of Isaiah is:
"'And I went into the prophetess and she conceived and bore a son.' And the Lord said to me, 'Call His name: Spoil Quickly, Plunder Speedily. For before the child shall know His father or His mother, He shall take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria before the king of the Assyrians'" [8:3-4].
The Persian sage, monk and bishop, Aphraates (4th c.) speaks of Mary as a "prophetess", because of the Magnificat [Lk. 1:46-55] that she had uttered.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria says that "contemporaneously with the birth of Christ, the power of the devil was spoiled. The name 'Spoil Quickly, Plunder Speedily' or 'Maher-shalal-hash baz', refers to our Lord. The prophetess is the Holy Virgin; and the name given to the child suits not a man, but God; for, He says, call His name 'Spoil Quickly, Plunder Speedily'. For at His birth, the heavenly and supernatural infant, while yet in swaddling bands and on His Mother's bosom, because of His human nature, stripped forthwith Satan of his goods by His ineffable might as God; for the magi came from the East to worship Him...."
Saint Justin Martyr (135-c.165) writes that Isaiah's words, "He shall take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria", meant that the power of the wicked demon that dwelt in Damascus would be crushed by Christ at His birth. This is shown to have taken place. For the magi, held in servitude (as spoils) for the commission of every wicked deed through the power of that demon, by coming and worshipping Christ, openly revolted against the power that had held them captive; and this dominion Scripture [1 Kings 11:23-25; 15:16-22; 22:31-35; 2 Kings 13:3] has shown us to reside in Damascus. Moreover, that sinful and unjust power is termed well in the term, 'Samaria'. 'Damascus' was and is a part of the land of Arabia, although it now belongs to Syro-Phoenicia.
Saint Cosmas expounds upon this in his Matins hymn:
"You have shone forth from the tribe of Judah, and You have come forth to plunder the strength of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria, turning their error into faith beautiful to God."
Saint Cosmas also incorporates other prophecies of Isaiah into his inspired hymns:
"As You are the God of peace and Father of mercies, You have sent us to Your Angel of great counsel [Is. 9:6], granting us peace. So are we guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, and watching by night we glorify You, O Lover of mankind."
The Rod of the Root of Jesse
Here again, St. Cosmas composes hymns by weaving in Old Testament prophecies, showing the Virgin as the rod and the overshadowed mountain:
"Rod of the root of Jesse [Is. 11:1], and flower that blossomed from his stem, O Christ, You have sprung from the Virgin. From the mountain overshadowed by the forest You have come [Hab. 3:3], made flesh from her that knew not wedlock, O God, Who are not formed from matter."
Saint Andrew also speaks of the Virgin as the rod and Christ as the Flower:
"Let Jesse rejoice and let David dance, for behold, the Virgin, the rod planted by God, has blossomed forth the Flower, even the everlasting Christ."
Saint Ambrose (339-397), Bishop of Milan, concurs with this image, writing:
"The root is the household of the Jews, the rod is Mary, the Flower of Mary is Christ. She is rightly called a rod, for she is of the royal lineage, of the house and family of David. Her Flower is Christ, Who destroyed the stench of worldly pollution and poured out the fragrance of eternal life. As He Himself said, 'I am a flower of the plain, a lily of the valleys'" [Songs 2:1].
Saint Irenaeus (+ c.193) also speaks of Isaiah's prophecy concerning the rod of the Flower from the root of Jesse:
"Thereby the prophet says that it is of her, who is descended from David and from Abraham, that He is born. For Jesse was a descendant of Abraham, the father of David; the descendant who conceived Christ, the Virgin, is thus become the 'rod'. Moses too worked his miracles before Pharaoh with a rod; and among others too of mankind, the rod is a sign of empire. And the 'Flower' refers to His body, for it was made to bud forth by the Spirit."
From the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, we chant:
"Rejoice, O mystical rod which blossomed the unfading Flower."
"Rejoice, O Bride of God; you are the mystical rod from whom the unfading Rose blossomed and budded forth."
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Katherine Vlahou of Afandou, Rhodes was suffering from brain cancer. It came to the point where a physician was unable to heal her, so she put her hope in the Lord's power to heal. Fleeing to Kalymnos she sought the aid of Saint Savvas, having faith that Saint Savvas would heal her of her brain cancer. Having prayed before his icon and venerated his relics, she returned to Rhodes. A week passed and Katherine returned to the hospital for a check up and an x-ray. When the doctor came in to give her the results, two amazing miracles happened: the first was that all traces of the cancer were gone, and the second was what appears to be an image of Saint Savvas from the icon she had prayed in front of for her healing, and it appeared in the area where there was the cancer growth.
Friday, December 4, 2009
The Miraculous Icon of Saint Barbara in London, England
This is a miraculous icon of Saint Barbara which currently is in Harrow, London. It belongs to a Greek family from Egypt who has had it for generations. It was handed down to them while living in Alexandria, travelled with them during a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, and when they decided to move to England they now reside in London where this icon has become well-known among the Greeks and even non-Greeks.
On the feast of the Saint (December 4), many pious faithful are welcomed into the home of this family. A priest also comes to chant a Supplication Service. At the end of the Service, the priest anoints the faithful with oil from the vigil lamp that remains lit at all times in front of the miraculous icon.
This icon worked many miracles in Alexandria and continues to do so in London. It saved a sick child that was near death in Alexandria. It made cancer in a sick woman of London disappear. It even helped to heal a woman with cancer in the United States, and gave strength to a young girl in Greece after Saint Barbara herself appeared to her. It has given strength and healing to many throughout the world who venerated her icon with faith and reverence.
The Miraculous Icon of Saint Barbara in Nauplion (or Nafplion), Greece
In the Church of Saint Spyridon, within the nave of the church, on the left proskynitarion, stands the miraculous icon of Saint Barbara. It was painted by Anthony Barou in 1897, at the expense of the faithful women of St. Spyridon parish.
In 1928 a deadly plague swept through Nauplio. At that time, when all hope seemed to be lost and no medicine existed to heal the people, the faithful fled to the icon of Saint Barbara with tears and made a procession with the miraculous icon throughout Nauplion to stop the deadly epidemic. Saint Barbara heard their prayers and the deadly plague immediately ceased. In gratitude, every year on the feast of Saint Barbara, a procession is held with this same icon to commemorate this miracle following the Great Vespers on December 3.
The Miraculous Icon of Saint Barbara in Zakynthos, Greece
The island of Zakynthos holds a special reverence for Saint Barbara due to a miracle attributed to her by the faithful. Periodically throughout the 18th century residents of the island suffered through various small pox epidemics. On March 26, 1795 the Venetians gave the faithful Orthodox permission to process with the icon of Saint Barbara of Krokou in the suburb of Kipon. Immediately followig the procession, the small pox epidemic ceased. Following this miracle, many icons of Saint Barbara were sponsored by the faithful to be placed in various churches throughout the island, since she proved to be their protector and healer.
The Miracle of Saint Barbara in Drama, Greece
According to local tradition, in 1380, when the Ottomans took Drama, they destroyed a church dedicated to Saint Barbara next to a lake (named after St. Barbara) and desired in its stead to build there a mosque. On the feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, the region where the building of the mosque was taking place flooded. It flooded to the point where construction became impossible and the building of the mosque was abandoned through the miraculous intervention of Saint Barbara on her feast day. The ruins of the mosque can still be seen under the water. The chapel that exists today to St. Barbara is built on the lake and the bell tower is built where the old church is said to have existed.
On the feast day of St. Barbara, following the procession with the icon and Great Vespers, all the little girls of the area gather with lit candles on the eastern side of the lake where the old church used to be, and pray that St. Barbara protect them and give them health. Some place the candles on a plank of wood which they allow to float on the water, others place them in small boats. Following the festivites, which sometimes go through the night, families gather in their homes and eat a warm "barbara". This is a traditional food named after St. Barbara which is like a honey cake. According to tradition, the father of St. Barbara tainted all the bread with poison to extermintate the Christians, but St. Barbara notified them of this and told them to make bread with whatever they had in their homes. This is where the tradition of the "barbara" cake comes from. The next day the girls gather again at the lake and take some of this water as Holy Water and proceed to the Divine Liturgy. St. Barbara is a special protector of girls.
For a video of the lake, see here.
The Miracle of Saint Barbara in Rethymno, Crete
Where the current church of Saint Barbara stands today stood an older church dedicated to her from Roman times. Some time during the Turkish occupation the following miracle took place.
One day, suddenly, a plague broke out in Rethymno. The Christians immediately made a procession with the icon of Saint Barbara and for them the plague completely stopped. However, the Muslims were still suffering from the plague. When the Muslims saw the Christians no longer suffering from the plague following the procession, they began to donate oil and other valuables to St. Barbara. From that day forward the plague ceased for the Muslims as well.
In 1833 a rich Turk, Ali-Tsitsekaki, who resided in Rethymno, bought the church in order to destroy it to build stores and houses. The location of the church he specifically wanted to make into a large bath house. To this the christians protested and bought back the property for 500 golden franks. After this the church was built, decorated with icons, and renewed. The dedication of the church was officially made on December 14, 1885. The icon of St. Barbara in the proskynitarion was painted in 1894 by A. Vevelaki. In 1898 the dome was painted by Bishop Hieortheos Braouakis after he fasted for two weeks.
When the famous Massacre of Crete happened, the houses and stores of Rethymno were destroyed except the Church of Saint Barbara. Often Turks, when someone in the family was sick, would go to the homes of the Greeks asking for some oil from the Church of Saint Barbara to bring healing; they would gladly give it as a witness to the truth of their faith. Miracles still happen in the Church of Saint Barbara in Rethymno.
More can be read about the veneration of St. Barbara in Rethymno here, here, and here.
The Relics of Saint Barbara
In the sixth century the relics of the Holy Great-Martyr Barbara were transferred to Constantinople. Six hundred years later in the twelfth century, they were transferred to Kiev (July 11) by Barbara, the daughter of the Roman Emperor Alexios Komnenos, who married the Russian prince Michael Iziaslavych. Initially the relics of Saint Barbara rested in St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev where they were brought in 1108 by Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych's wife and kept in a silver reliquary donated by Hetman Ivan Mazepa. Starting from the late seventeenth century the apolytikion honoring St. Barbara was sung in the Cathedral of the Monastery on each Tuesday just before the Liturgy. In 1870, about 100,000 pilgrims paid tribute to St. Barbara at St. Michael's Monastery. Before the Russian Revolution in 1917, rings manufactured and blessed at St. Michael's Monastery, known as St. Barbara's rings, were very popular among the citizens of Kiev. They usually served as protectors and, according to popular beliefs, occasionally protected against witchcraft but were also effective against serious illnesses and sudden death. These beliefs reference the facts that the Monastery was not affected by the plague epidemics in 1710 and 1770 and cholera epidemics of the nineteenth century.
In the 1930s the relics of Saint Barbara were transferred to St. Vladimir's Cathedral in the same city. This was done before the destruction of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery by the Bolsheviks. Until World War II St. Vladimir's served as a museum of religion and atheism. After the war the cathedral was reopened and since remained continually open. It was then the main church of the Kiev Metropolitan See of the Ukrainian Exarchate. The cathedral was one of the few places in the USSR where tourists could openely visit a working Orthodox Church. It saw the revival of Orthodox religion in 1988 when the millennium celebration of the Baptism of Kiev marked a change in Soviet policy on religion. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, St Vladimir's Cathedral ownership became an issue of controversy between two denominations that both claim to represent the Ukrainian Orthodox Christianity - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a church with an autonomous status under the Moscow Patriarchy, and the newly established Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchy, which, ultimately, won the control over the cathderal.
An Akathist to the Saint is served each Tuesday before her holy relics.
For pictures of the feast of St. Barbara in Kiev, see here.
Other portions of her relics were distributed in various places from Constantinople. See here for example.
Many pious Orthodox Christians are in the habit of chanting the troparion of St. Barbara each day, recalling the Savior's promise to her that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from a sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Let us honor the holy Barbara for, with the aid of the Cross as her weapon, she crushed the snares of the enemy, and was rescued from them like a bird.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O noble Champion, following God who is reverently praised in Trinity, you abandoned the temples of idols. Struggling amid suffering, O Barbara, you were not overwhelmed by the threats of the tyrants, O brave One, even singing aloud, "I worship the Trinity, the one Godhead."
As of the 20th April 1949, under Law No.957, the holy shrine of St. Barbara in the Egaleo district of the St. Barbara Municipality is under the ownership, jurisdiction and administration of the Apostolic Diakonia of the Church of Greece. Proceeds from this holy shrine are always donated to various missionary and social needs.
THE PILGRIMAGE TEMPLE
The Temple as we see it today was built in 1904, and its architectural rhythm is that of a three-naved basilica. The central nave honors the name of Saint Barbara. The right-hand nave is dedicated to the Glorious, latter-day Martyr Fanourios, while the left-hand nave is dedicated to Saint Mavra. Both these chapels were consecrated by the late Metropolitan of Athens, Theokletos I.
The Holy Sanctuary of the Temple is also named "DISCOVERY", or "EVRESIS", as it denotes the exact spot where the miraculous icon of St. Barbara was discovered. We have no historical information on the year in which the first Temple was erected; it is said, that it was the remnant of an older Monastery that was dissolved and destroyed. The only authentic historical information that we have on the existence of a Temple is the year «1774» that is clearly inscribed on the mural icon of St Barbara, inside the Holy Sanctuary.
We have assumed the existence of a Temple prior to the year 1774, given that the hagiography of mural icons is not usually concurrent to the actual building of the edifice. Unwritten tradition that has been preserved by Christians to this day, maintains the existence of a Temple in this area for over 1000 years; this would make it almost as old as the neighbouring Monastery of Daphni.
The tiny church that existed in the location that the present Church now stands was practically lost, on account of its abandonment for so many years. It had been buried under 80 cm of earth and stones, and was being used as a sheep pen. This conclusion was reached, by observing the extent of the damages to the murals. This also explains the differing depth of the central nave of the present Temple.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE HOLY ICON
How and when was the icon of St. Barbara discovered? In a wondrous way. About 100 years ago, a shepherd had been using the little church as a pen for his sheep. One night, he saw a young woman in his dream, who said to him: «This place that you are using as shelter for your sheep is mine, and you must stop desecrating it». The shepherd paid no attention to the dream, and did nothing about it. After several days had gone by, he started to lose one sheep each day. The young woman then re-appeared in his dream, and said to him «Tomorrow, two people will come to this place. You will accost them, and ask them to dig the ground on the right-hand side of the entrance». Indeed, the next day two women - Marigo Koula and Angelica K. Tsambazi - came from Piraeus to that place to gather herbs. These were the women for whom was reserved the great blessing of discovering the miraculous icon of St. Barbara; an icon measuring 37 x 26 cm., which to this day is guarded within the Shrine and is acknowledged as a holy relic and a boast for every Christian.
News of this event spread throughout Greece, and from that day hence, the faithful swarm to this saint's grace, to pray and to ask for her embassies and her intervention.
A large volume would be hardly enough space, to record the miracles and signs that the pious faithful have preserved, during the 200 or so years of this Shrine, not to mention the innumerable dedications and offerings that are daily brought here by pilgrims, with faith, reverence and a thankful disposition.
HOW THE SHRINE RECEIVED THE RELIC OF SAINT BARBARA
The sacred remains of Saint Barbara were brought to Venice during the reign of the Doge Pietro II Orseolo (991 -1009). They were brought to Venice by Maria Argyropoula - considered by John the Deacon and Andrea Dandolo to be the daughter (or perhaps even the very sister) of the emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII - but, as surmised from the surname, was probably one of the future emperor Romanus III's sisters, who had been married to the Doge's son, John. Their marriage was officiated in the "imperial chapel" in Constantinople by the Patriarch, and the emperors themselves participated in the ceremony as "best men", carrying the bridal coronets.
John, who was accompanied by his brother Otto, received the title of "Patrician", while his spouse managed to secure from the monarch the privilege of taking with her the holy remains of the Great Martyr Barbara. Back in Venice, they were placed in the "chapel of the duke" ( i.e., Saint Mark's ).
John Orseolo's stay in the Bosporus was an extensive one, and it was there, that the only child was born to the royal couple, between the years 1002 and 1004.
John died of the plague in 1007. Later, in 1009, during the reign of the Doge Otto Orseolo, two more of Pietro Orseolo's children - Orso, Bishop of Torcello and Felicita, Mother Superior of the convent of Saint John the Evangelist in Torcello - managed to transfer the holy remains of the Great Martyr to the chapel of that same convent , where it continued to be witnessed in the 18 th century, by Corner.
During the times of Napoleonic destruction, the holy remains were translated to the temple of Saint Martin on the island of Murano, where they continue to be guarded, to this day.
On Sunday, the 1st of June 2003, a delegation of the Church of Greece's Apostoliki Diakonia arrived at the city of Venice, Italy, on a military aircraft assigned by the Greek Government, to receive a section of the sacred remains of the Holy Great Martyr Saint Barbara that are guarded there, pursuant to the courteous response of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Venice Mr. Angelo Scola to our Church's pious request.
The holy relic of the Great Martyr Saint Barbara will repose permanently in the Shrine of Saint Barbara, which belongs to the Apostoliki Diakonia and is situated in the Attica Municipality that bears her name, by His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, during the "door-opening" ceremony of the Holy Temple, to take place after completion of its overall renovation, in the month of October.
(From Apostoliki Diakonia website, which contains more information on this Holy Shrine)
The Miracle of Sophia Bella
A young girl named Sophia Bella from Athens suffered a severe sickness which left her right arm paralyzed. Her parents took her to many physicians, but nobody could help her.
On the night of February 14, 1899, young Sophia saw a young woman come into her bedroom saying: "Tomorrow morning get up and play the piano."
"But how shall I play?" she said. "Can't you see my hand, that it is paralyzed?"
"I am Saint Barbara!" said the young woman, who then disappeared.
On February 15 Sophia awoke with joy. Her hand was no longer stiff unable to move. It once again had warmth and movement. She ran immediately to the piano and began to play. Her parents in the next room heard the piano and went to go see who was playing. There they beheld the miracle! Their daughter Sophia was playing with both hands. This miracle became widely known throughout Athens immediately.
The parents of Sophia, in gratitude to Saint Barbara, had a golden hand made which they placed next to the miraculous icon of Saint Barbara in Athens as a testimony. In the Holy Shrine of Saint Barbara, this miracle is inscribed on the iconostasis, which says: "Sophia L. Bella. Having suffered from an incurrable condition, on February 14 1899 was healed by the Saint. The iconostasis, the oil lamps and the enclosure were piously offered."
By SARA STEWART
December 1, 2009
The New York Post
“IF you can’t say something good about someone,” a wise woman once said, “sit right here by me.”
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Teddy and notorious curmudgeon, would have been awfully lonely if she’d come up with that personal motto during the past decade.
America’s mania for “The Secret,” team-building exercises, Oprah, vision boards, life coaches, antidepressants and inspirational terminal-illness ribbons has all but outlawed any manner of negative thought.
According to this philosophy, if you’re not constantly generating positive brain waves, you’re dooming yourself to a life half-lived, and you deserve whatever hardships may come your way (obviously, as you’re the one who psychically invited them in).
But recently, there’s been an undercurrent of doubt. It seems a perkiness backlash may be brewing, fueled not by hopeful thoughts but by actual scientific research.
In his study “Think Negative!,” published this month in Australian Science, psychology professor Joseph Forgas says bad moods are actually useful for us.
“Mild negative mood and sadness have definite advantages when it comes to dealing with certain kinds of problems that require vigilance, concentration and careful attention to the world around us,” Forgas says via e-mail from the University of New South Wales.
“Our studies specifically suggest that those in a mild negative mood remember more details in their environment, have better eyewitness memories, are less prone to judgmental errors, are less gullible, and are better communicators and persuaders.”
The grouchy and therefore less gullible might also be less inclined to buy into the booming self-help industry, which Barbara Ehrenreich takes down in her new book “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.”
In her examination of the positive-psychology industry, which she dates back to Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 book “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Ehrenreich finds that it bears an alarming resemblance to brainwashing.
“We have seen the enemy,” she writes, “and it is ourselves, or at least our thoughts. Fortunately, though, thoughts can be monitored and corrected until .¤.¤. positive thoughts become ‘automatic’ and the individual becomes ‘fully conditioned.’¤”
But fully conditioned to accomplish what?
The millions of adherents of positive thinking have yet to experience a mass increase in wealth, health and happiness. Why haven’t they visualized us out of the current economic climate?
Maybe what we need instead is a little realistic thinking — hell, maybe even a little depression. Instead of hewing rigidly to the mantra “Yes we can!” perhaps we should at least consider what happens if, you know, we can’t.
In a recent article in Scientific American, evolutionary psychologist Paul W. Andrews argues that even full-blown depression isn’t necessarily the disorder it’s been made out to be. Rather, it’s a rational, evolved human response to adverse circumstances.
“Depression is actually an indicator of how much of your intellectual capacity you’re using,” he says.
“If you’re really depressed, you’re probably using your full intellectual resources on a problem.”
And intellect has been in short supply during the positive-psychology years, Ehrenreich points out. Books such as “The Secret” and mass-media preachers like Joel Osteen encourage their followers to think of the universe as a big mind-controlled ATM. Success in life is not predicated on educating oneself or learning to think things through — it’s simply a matter of wanting stuff hard enough.
“Anyone, anyone at all could be catapulted into wealth at any time simply by focusing their thoughts,” as Ehrenreich puts it.
In a similar vein, costly personal-enhancement seminars, such as those run by Landmark Corp., have been proliferating wildly. One recent event ended badly enough to have dealt a potentially lethal blow to the whole industry, when three attendees at a $9,000 “Spiritual Warrior” retreat died in an overheated sweat lodge.
Retreat leader James Arthur Ray is the author of the 2008 best seller “Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want” (the tenets of which are also included in “The Secret”). His tactics, as reported by participants, included encouraging people to push past their limits — even, it seemed, their need for oxygen.
But he’s only the most high-profile member of a massive industry, built on teaching people to stop thinking critically and start hoping. And it’s this kind of pernicious “positive thinking” that researchers like Forgas hope to combat with their findings.
“Vigilant realism is probably a better recipe for success in life than the unrelenting pursuit of positive thinking, which by definition produces a distortion of reality,” he says. “It’s rather strange that American culture has such a simple-minded commitment to positivity.”
1 December 2009
Istanbul’s Marmaray Project, which is to connect Asia and Europe through a tunnel under the Bosphorus, is held back as archaeologists excavate a fourth-century Byzantine port and other important remains.
“Archeologists are working around the clock on a huge swathe of land is being taken apart little by little,” a publication by the Voice of America News recently reported. “Eventually it will be the city's new transportation hub. But for now, it is a massive archaeological dig.”
On one side, there is one of the largest engineering ventures in the world of its type – the Marmaray Project, which includes the construction of a tunnel under Istanbul’s Bosphorus waterway. When complete, the tunnel will allow subway trains to run the length of the city carrying a million of people a day, thus significantly revitalizing the city’s transport system and easing its traffic problems.
On the other, there are the significant archaeological finds, including a Byzantine port, thousands of clay pots that were used for carrying cargo and at least 34 sunken ships, dating back more than 1,000 years.
The port was built in the fourth century and was used until the eleventh century. It was an international trading port of the time. So much of it is intact that it gives us an insight into the world, Zeynep Kiziltan, head of archeology museums in Istanbul, who is in charge of operations, told the publication.
As the boats and artefacts are being unearthed, they are sent to archaeological centres around the country to be preserved, leaving Turkey’s archaeological community faced with the wealth of the discoveries, the publication noted.
So far, the tunnel’s construction has been delayed by three years because of the archaeological excavations.
We do feel the pressure of time as the tunnel is a project of the state and it has big financial costs, archeologist Kan Ozdemir told VOA News. " So we have to work faster and in the best way we can. But archeology is not a job that you can rush, but we work hard. "
For now, according to Kiziltan, the government has promised they can have as much time as they need. But working side to side with the tunnel engineers can give rise to some tension. “We do have quite heated arguments from time to time, as the construction team frequently wants us to give up areas we are excavating before we've finished,” she said. “Massive construction machines are literally over our shoulder waiting for us to finish, which can be intimidating. So sure we do have conflicts. But for now we still have the final say, although I don't know long this will last.”
Synod of the Church of Greece Agreed to Increased Taxation on Church's Real Estate
Moscow, December 3, 2009
On December 1 the Synod of the Church of Greece, at a special meeting, agreed to the triple increase in tax of the Church's real property (from 1% to 3%). However, the agreement applies only to property of the metropolias, but not to temples, monasteries and other legal entities, and applies only to 2009, said REGIONS.RU.
For its part, the Greek Economy Minister George Papakonstantinu said that the government is ready to begin a dialogue with the Church on all the contentious economic issues, "from scratch" and without any preconditions. He asked that the Church to determine who on its behalf, will conduct this dialogue.
The Minister also confirmed that the tax increase is temporary and applies only to the current year; in 2010 the same year the rate will be discussed separately. The tax increase, he said, is due to budget constraints in the financial crisis. In addition, the tax increase does not apply to all real estate, but only to that which generates income.
In Greece, the relations between the Church and the new socialist government deteriorated almost immediately after the election, when the Government put forward amendments to the tax law, increasing the tax on Church property almost threefold. As noted by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, tax innovations in violation of the principle of equality, do not affect property belonging to ministries, public organizations, universities and other entities of a non-commercial nature. There was no tax increase on real estate which is used for commercial purposes.
The compromise reached in 2009, according to the Church, is motivated by a desire to begin negotiations with the state and the duty to help the Greek people in crisis -- although the tax increase will impede her charitable work. The Synod's decision stresses that the Church of Greece has 700 charitable institutions in the country, and its social spending amounts only to 100 million euros a year.
The Synod also agreed with the other requirements of the Ministry of the Economy - in particular, the requirement to limit the [horse] power (and therefore the cost) of the metropolitans' cars, but only in cases where the costs are borne by the State.
Jerry Coyne: "Atheists Have Been Humble for Centuries" -- If You Don't Count the Last Three
December 3, 2009
Sometimes Jerry Coyne makes me spray my coffee. This gem from a post of his on detente in the new atheist-theist wars:
"Atheists have been 'humble' for centuries (who was more humble than Spinoza?) and it hasn’t gotten us anywhere. It’s that crop of new atheist books that have finally created a climate in which atheists need not feel like pariahs..."
Humble? Atheism's first assumption of power at the level of the nation-state was in the French Revolution. "Humility" doesn't do justice to the carnage wrought by French atheism-in-power, nor to the Napoleonic wars and millions of dead that followed in the ensuing decades of "atheist humility."
In the 19th century "atheist humility" incubated in the minds of men like Marx, and again gained the reins of power in 1917. The 20th century was the century of atheism in power. Here is the death toll of its "humility" (from The Black Book of Communism):
65 million dead from Atheism in People's Republic of China
20 million dead from Atheism in Soviet Union
2 million dead from Atheism in Cambodia
2 million dead from Atheism in North Korea
1.7 million dead from Atheism in Africa
1.5 million dead from Atheism in Afghanistan
1 million dead from Atheism in the Communist states of Eastern Europe
1 million dead from Atheism in Vietnam
New Atheists like Coyne sell a toxic ideology; atheism's transparent nastiness in "humble" exile is nothing compared to its record of totalitarianism and atrocities on assumption of power. There's a lot more to atheism than "humble Spinoza." Atheism-in-power is mankind's deadliest ideology, bar none.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
The Holy and Miraculous Icon of the Panagia Gerontissa is found in the Holy Monastery Pantokratoros on Mount Athos and is the only traditional icon depicting her full-bodied and alone. The Monastery was founded about 1357 by Alexios the Stratopedarch and John the Primikerios, and completed in 1363. They are buried at the Monastery. Their Monastery was built on the ruins of the Monastery of Pantokratoros that had been plundered by pirates during the years of Frankish occupation after the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204.
Tradition says that the icon now known as Panagia Gerontissa was given to the Pantokratoros Monastery as a gift of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos in the 11th century. It is a copy of the famous icon of Panagia Gorgoepikoos originally found in the Holy Monastery of Pantokratoros in Constantinople, which was built by the same emperor.
According to the Monastery’s traditions, this icon was brought from Constantinople by the founders, Alexios and John, when they came to the Holy Mountain with the purpose of establishing a monastery. They put it in the place they had selected for building the monastery and work began. However, the next morning they found the icon at the place where the monastery stands today. They took it back to its initial location and resumed work. However, the next day the icon was again found at the present location of the monastery. After the miracle was repeated for a third time, the founders began to build on the site that Our Lady the Theotokos had selected. The initial position the founders had chosen is identified with that of the Chapel of St Athanasius the Great approximately 500 metres north-west of the Monastery.
Below is the "Narration of the Miracle-Working Icon of the Mother of God Named Gerontissa" taken verbatim from the book Anotera Episkiasis epi tou Atho (Athos: in the Shadow of Heaven) published in Constantinople in 1861:
This icon stands today inside the katholikon against the east column of the left choir. In earlier days it was placed inside the sanctuary.
In this monastery there once lived a virtuous old abbot who fell sick shortly before his repose, and who knew by revelation the time of it. As he ardently desired to be worthy of and receive the Holy and Life-Giving Communion, the flesh and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ before his departure to eternity, he asked the officiating priest-monk to hasten the end of the Service, but the priest would not respect his abbot’s request and continued to perform the Service at a slow pace. Suddenly he heard a threatening voice coming from this icon of the Mother of God standing in the sanctuary, ordering him to do as the abbot wished. Owing to this miracle the icon was given the symbolic name Gerontissa (‘the Elderess’ or 'the Abbess', since the miracle involved the abbot, or elder, of the Monastery).
In this silver-covered icon, which has been refurbished, the Theotokos is depicted full-length. The jar depicted in relief on the silver cover of the icon was added there in memory of another miracle. On a certain day and while the abbot was praying in front of the icon, the empty oil jars of the monastery were suddenly found filled with olive oil in a miraculous way.
At the time the Saracen pirates raided this Holy Monastery, they threw this sacred icon into a nearby well. At a later time it was found in there following the instructions of a relative of one of those Saracens who had been stricken blind for his impudence and folly. This reckless barbarian, being contemptuous of this sacred item of the Christians, had attempted to cut it into pieces so that he could light his pipe with one of its fragments, but at that same moment he lost his sight because of his audacity and so the icon remained in the well for more than eighty years.
Nevertheless this justly-punished barbarian, when he found himself at death’s door, being in agony and repenting for his impudence, and in the hope of receiving some relief and comfort from his afflictions in return for his repentance, ordered his servants that they must go to Mount Athos, even after his death, and recover there the icon he and his companions had thrown into the well. Therefore the relatives of the repenting barbarian, obedient to his will, came to Mount Athos, indicated the place where this sacred icon had been thrown, and recovered it in honour. This is the tradition maintained in the monastery about this miracle-working icon.
The silver covering of the icon was made in Moscow in 1874 and according to tradition it is a votive offering of a prominent lady from Constantinople in response to a demand from the Blessed Virgin Mary who asked her to offer it. The anthivolon (tracing of the icon) sent to Moscow in order for it to be made is still preserved.
Right beside the marble one on the south side, there is another icon stand where the icons of the saints celebrated each day are placed in turn. This icon stand, dedicated by Priest-monk Anthimos from Sifnos in 1716, is ornamented with inlaid ivory, mother of pearl and carapace, a classic example of the decorative arts of the Eastern Mediterranean at that time.
It should be noted that the presence of the Gerontissa on this large icon (1.96m x 0.76m) of the nave is indeed very commanding as the Theotokos is portrayed full-length, facing slightly to the right in the Hagiosoritissa posture.
The Feast Day for the icon of Panagia Gerontissa is celebrated on December 2 annually. This date commemorates a miracle which occurred on the night of December 1 in 1948 when the Monastery was saved from a fire through the miraculous intervention of the Panagia. Because of this the icon also came to be known as "Pyrosoteira" ("Rescuer from Fire"), which was celebrated the following day on December 2.
Countless miracles are attributed to the Panagia Gerontissa.