Friday, April 30, 2010

New Martyr Argyre of Proussa: Patron Saint of Marriage

Neomartyr Argyre of Prusa (Feast Day - April 5th and 30th)

ARGYRE, the golden Martyr of Christ, was from Proussa, and the daughter of pious parents. She possessed both a beautiful face and the fear of God.

In time the blessed maiden wed. But, the newlywed caught the covetous eyes of a certain Turk in the neighborhood who fell in love with her. He schemed to bring her over to fulfill his wicked intention. Since he was unable to persuade her he slandered her to the judge of Proussa, pretending that she declared a willingness to become a Muslim. The judge immediately imprisoned the Saint.

Argyre’s husband considered it more favorable to have the case transferred to the court at Constantinople. However the Saint’s accuser also appeared there and falsely charged her, maintaining the same allegations against the Martyr. Argyre affirmed that she had no knowledge of ever uttering a word denying the Faith, and stated she was a Christian and a Christian she would die.

Consequently, by the judge’s order, they beat the Saint and afterwards confined her to prison. Eventually they conducted a second examination, and again they smote, punished, and jailed Argyre. These events occurred repeatedly throughout the next seventeen years. O, her courageousness!

Even inside the prison the Saint met with constant troubles and insults from the Turkish women inmates who were in detention because of their criminal actions. The devil incited them to harass Argyre through excessive affliction and torments. Nevertheless, the ever-memorable one withstood everything magnanimously, by the love and yearning she possessed for her Bridegroom Christ.

Perhaps you wonder whether this was all? But in addition to this, she herself subjected her body to fasting, bore every trial and underwent hardships just as the other multitudes of Christian women who were also prisoners with the Saint in that very jail. The heart of blessed Argyre was filled with exceeding joy and such thankfulness, since she was imprisoned for Christ, that she thought discomforts were conveniences. Such was the case that when the pious Christian, Manolis Kiourtzibasis, the maker of fishing nets, succeeded in having the charge against her withdrawn so she could be at liberty, Argyre did not assent to the reprieve but regarded the prison to be the king’s palace, Thus, incarcerated and in bonds for Christ, she ended her life receiving the imperishable crown of martyrdom in the year 1725 (April 5).

Then the Christians took possession of her holy relics and buried her in a place called Haskoy. At the uncovering of her relics after three years her sacred body was discovered whole and intact, emitting an unspeakable fragrance. O, the wonder! The priests and Christians received it with great devotion and placed her within the Church of Saint Paraskevi by permission of the then most holy Patriarch Paisios. To this day, her hallowed relics exist and are venerated by patriarchs, archbishops, notable people, and all Orthodox Christians, to the glory of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The new chapel of St. Argyre the New Martyr in Panagiouda, Lesvos

In 1955 a riot ensued in Constantinople and thousands of Greeks were forced to flee from their homes by the Turks. Among the victims was St. Argyre whose relics suffered a second martyrdom by being burned after the church was damaged. The faithful salvaged the relics and brought them to Mytilene where they lie to this day. The transfer of her relics is what is celebrated every year on April 30. Her regular feast day is on April 5.

According to the author of the source site, when the people of Panagiouda were in the process of building the above chapel of the Saint, St. Argyre appeared in a dream to the priest, Fr. Theologos Sakales, and told him: "When you make my icon for my chapel, don't make it like this one here, but depict me holding the two stefana (crowns) of marriage." True to her guidance, the icon above depicts St. Argyre holding both the Holy Cross of a martyr and the marriage crowns as a defender and patron saint of marriage.

St Argyra's name comes from the Greek word for silver (argyre).

THE NEW MARTYR ARGYRA 1688-1721 by P. Philippidou (which also contains a Service to the saint) was published in Constantinople in 1912.

The Tomb of Saint Argyre in the garden of the church of St. Paraskevi, Chaskioi (or Haskoy) outside Constantinople


Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
You put to shame tyrants by your tortures, O pure one, and you were shown forth, O much-suffering one, as strong as a diamond. O glorious martyr of Christ, you showed forth in struggles for Christ the Savior, love and zeal and unquenchable longing, Who worthily glorified you, O Argyre.

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Behold, How a Righteous Man Dies!


A devout elder lay on his death bed. His friends gathered around him and mourned him. With that, the elder laughed three times. The monks asked him: "What are you laughing at?" The elder replied: "I laughed the first time, because all of you are afraid of death; the second time, for none of you are prepared for death; the third time, because I am going from labor to rest."

Behold, how a righteous man dies! He is not afraid of death. He is prepared for death. He sees, that through death, he passes from the difficult life to eternal rest.

When the nature of man imagines itself in its original state in Paradise, then death is unnatural, the same way that sin is unnatural. Death emanated from sin. Repented and cleansed from sin, man does not consider death annihilation, but the gate to life eternal.

If, at times, the righteous prayed to God to prolong their earthly life, that was not because of love for this life nor because of the fear of death but solely that they would gain more time for repentance and cleansing from sin in order that they may present themselves before God, more sinless and more pure. Even if they showed fear before death, that was not out of fear of death but the fear of God's judgment. What kind of fear then must the unrepentant sinner have before death?

- St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Philotimo: Greece's Most Valuable Commodity


[Written over a month ago, but still worth a read. - J.S.]

Christopher Tripoulas
March 20, 2010
The National Herald

Kudos to whoever wrote President Barack Obama's speech at the White House's Greek Independence Day celebration last week. (For video and text of his full remarks, see TNH's website). It was right on the money, so to speak, with the central theme revolving around the Greek virtue of "philotimo."

A time honored tradition, philotimo represents a unique characteristic of the Greek mindset. Many of the ills plaguing Greece and the Hellenic Diaspora today could arguably be attributed to a present day shortage of that all-important philotimo.

How else could can one explain the fact that there are so many rich Greeks living in such a fiscally impoverished country? How else does one explain the fact that Greece reportedly ranks second in Europe in imports of Porsches, or the fact that it recently okayed a deal with a German company to accept the submarine "Papanikolis," which it been blocking since 2006 on the grounds that it was defective; and that this decision came just days after German politicians and media began calling for Greece to start selling its islands to pay off debts to creditors! And what of the fact that there are so many wealthy Greeks in America - including at least six in Forbes magazine's latest list of America's richest 400 - but no official fund to support Greek schools and Greek language education? Is this altogether unrelated to the absence of philotimo among the community's leadership, or the rest of us who simply follow their lead? Or perhaps the fact that Leadership 100 routinely gives millions to the Archdiocese's Theological School in Brookline, but won't set any curriculum standards demanding of graduates even an elementary understanding of the Greek language. Even this newfound sensitivity to flus, germs, and other infectious diseases when receiving the sacrament of holy communion has put a dent in our Orthodox philotimo. It used to be that even the most unchurched Orthodox Christian could at least boast about the faith's adherence to the longstanding tradition of sharing the common cup - a practice that has withstood outbreaks and epidemics of tuberculosis, leprocy, plague, etc. for approximately two thousand years.

Sadly, our people's virtues (the richest language in the world, philotimo, group solidarity,...) seem much more susceptible to the corrosive effects of time than our shortcomings (civil strife, gossip, stubborness,...).

It is almost as if there is something incompatible with prosperity and philotimo. Most of the honorable accomplishments made by Greeks seem to be achieved during periods of dire economic hardship.

Consider an interesting story from the homeland, fitting for the coming celebration of Greek Independence. The particulars of the story vary from speaker to speaker, but the message is clear. Sometime during the Greek War of Independence - most likely 1826 - when the revolution was in great need of finances, Georgios Gennadios, a teacher of Greece, gave an extremely powerful and moving speech in the city of Nafplio. The speech affected the locals so much that even the poorest woman, known as "Psorokostaina," gave up her lone possessions - a silver ring and a coin - for the cause of the revolution. The villagers, moved by her enormous philotimo, all started contributing as well.

The word "Psorokostaina" (literally meaning the "mangy wife of Kostas") went on to become a synonym for the poor, small, fledgling nation that was Greece. Although the term came to have a derogatory meaning, its origins were altruistic. The real "Psorokostaina" - Panoria Aivalioti - despite her poverty, used to take in orphans, and later volunteer her services caring for them when an orphanage was built in her area.

Another version of her story goes that when Greece's first Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias saw her begging in the streets, he went to offer her some money. As soon as she realized who he was, she instead offered all the money that she had collected to him to aid Greece's troubled finances. (Yes, modern Greece has been in debt since its founding, sigh)

While destitute in material goods, Psorokostaina was rich in philotimo. And like her, Mother Greece, as well, was able to overcome all the hardships that history had in store for her, through philotimo. In fact, it seems that during the country's most challenging times, the people rise to the occasion and their philotimo leads them to do great and heroic things.

Only a few short years after the Asia Minor catastrophe in 1922, when destitute Greece had to take in over 1 million refugees, the famous 'generation of the 1930s' was about to provide Greece and its tattered people with a spiritual reawakening whose effects are still being felt today. Similarly, following the Nazi occupation that left the country in ruins, nobelists like Elytis and Seferis began to spring up.

Greece has known poverty all its life. If anything, the current financial crisis may purge some of the hubris and nouveaux riche decadence, and help the people remember that economic hardship is sometimes a springboard for spiritual profit.

It's not more loans or bailouts that we Greeks need, it's rediscovering our philotimo.

Noah’s Ark on Mars


April 28, 2010
Creation-Evolution Headlines

We apologize for this improbable headline to draw attention to two stories making the rounds: new claims about Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat, and new claims about life on Mars. Headlines on these topics show up periodically in the news. What do the subjects have in common? How do they differ? Do the most recent instances affirm tradition or break new ground?

Claims about Noah’s Ark are usually made – though not exclusively – by some Bible-believing Christians (also some Muslims and Jews), while claims about life on Mars are typically made (though again, not exclusively) by some evolutionists. There is nothing about the Biblical story of Noah that prevents an unbeliever from being interested in claims about a boat on Ararat, and there is nothing that prevents a Christian from accepting the possibility of life on Mars. Nevertheless, advocates are generally divided along those ideological lines, and critics equally divided along the opposing lines: evolutionists are often boisterous in their ridicule of “Arkeologists” (while some Christians are, too), while Bible-believers often ignore or sneer at claims about life in outer space (while some evolutionists do, too).

The latest Ark claim burst onto the scene April 25 with a press conference and a website (noahsarksearch.net) showing detailed pictures and video of a wood structure allegedly found inside a cave high on Mt. Ararat in Turkey. It seemed too good to be true. Instead of the usual vague shapes of rock that might resemble a ship from some angles, here was unmistakeable artificially-manipulated timber shaped into rooms and structures found above timberline. Unless the eyewitnesses were all liars, it seemed straightforward. One of them said he was 99.9% sure it was Noah’s Ark. Some creation organizations snatched up the tantalizing news with cautious optimism; others, having been burned in the past, seemed to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. CMI put out a short press release with daily updates, but expressed the “need for caution—in both directions....” The story made Fox News, ABC News and other leading news organizations. Skeptics like those at the James Randi Foundation were were quick to moan “not again!” with dismissive vituperation against what they perceive as Christian gullibility. Alan Boyle in his Cosmic Log at MSNBC positioned the claim in the tradition of reports that surface occasionally, remarking that “a boatload of skepticism is in order.” Then on April 27 a letter from Dr. Randall Price surfaced. He is a Biblical archaeologist and member of a rival search team. His letter, reproduced at Bible Places Blog, claims that the site is a cleverly-devised hoax. The timbers were hauled up there from the Black Sea, he claims, by Turks who misled the Chinese into thinking they were the remains of Noah’s boat. Nevertheless, that claim does not answer all the questions. Some diehards are questioning Price’s motives, because he lost money on the deal and may not be impartial because he has his own search going on. They also doubted his first-hand knowledge of details mentioned in the letter. Subsequent to Price’s hoax allegation, World Net Daily posted a lengthy article sharing some of the diversity of opinions about the claim, and so did the Christian Science Monitor. The rest of this story is TBD.


What’s lively on Mars? News about Martian microbes tends to come around more frequently than Noah’s Ark reports. This month has been no exception. In a way kind of mirroring the Chinese Ark story, there was a short-lived headline that NASA had new evidence of life on Mars posted by The Sun, a British tabloid, which NASA quickly denied as “positively false” according to Clara Moskowitz on Space.com. More serious sources kept hope alive, though. New Scientist updated notions with optimism: “Life on Mars, if it ever existed, may be easier to find than previously thought,” an article said, announcing that common Mars rocks can preserve life after all. “New research on terrestrial rocks suggests that a type of rock common on Mars can preserve fossilised microbial life, rather than erasing evidence of it as previously thought.” But that’s only a possibility, not a discovery. The possibilities for unique Martian life were dimmed somewhat by PhysOrg’s report from the American Society for Microbiology that “Earth microbes may contaminate the search for life on Mars.” This is another in the “too late” category: our landers may have already contaminated the Red Planet with our own germs. (In a sense, then, if Earth were destroyed, Mars could be a kind of Ark preserving at least some organisms; but that’s hardly a justification for the tabloid headline to this entry.) James Urquhard announced a headline on New Scientist sure to give fodder to cartoonists: “Look for Mars life with laughing gas.” Scientists at the University of Georgia think that nitrous oxide could provide an atmospheric biomarker for future missions hunting Martians: “This could be an easy way to ‘sniff’ around the surface of Mars looking for pockets of sub-surface brine that might be hotspots for extreme microbial life.” It goes without saying that the relatively new science of “astrobiology” has ambitions beyond Mars. Europa, Titan, and Enceladus are all hot targets, and the sky’s the limit: millions of dollars have been spent on missions like Kepler, the Space Interferometry Mission, Terrestrial Planet Finder and other stepping stones to the discovery of life among the stars. And then there’s SETI: privately funded, but just as eager to find an unseen, hoped-for reality.

Two hunting parties: Arkeologists and Astrobiologists. Both get excited over each tantalizing hint of success. Both have outspoken critics. Both have yet to find definitive proof of their reason for being. Both are convinced that proof would clobber their critics with the superiority of their theological or philosophical views. One can only wonder what would happen if Noah’s Ark and life on Mars were found simultaneously. At least it would be a good day for sociologists.

Humans and Chimps Not So Genetically Similar After All


April 29, 2010
Casey Luskin
Evolution News

Research published in Nature over the past few months is showing a much greater genetic distance between humans and chimps than previously thought, while revealing a closer one between humans and Neanderthals.

A Nature paper from January, 2010 titled, "Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content," found that Y chromosomes in humans and chimps “differ radically in sequence structure and gene content,” showing “extraordinary divergence” where “wholesale renovation is the paramount theme.” Of course, the paper attributes these dramatic genetic changes to “rapid evolution during the past 6 million years.”

One of the scientists behind the study was quoted in a Nature news article stating, "It looks like there's been a dramatic renovation or reinvention of the Y chromosome in the chimpanzee and human lineages." The news article states that “many of the stark changes between the chimp and human Y chromosomes are due to gene loss in the chimp and gene gain in the human” since “the chimp Y chromosome has only two-thirds as many distinct genes or gene families as the human Y chromosome and only 47% as many protein-coding elements as humans.” According to the news piece, “Even more striking than the gene loss is the rearrangement of large portions of the chromosome. More than 30% of the chimp Y chromosome lacks an alignable counterpart on the human Y chromosome, and vice versa, whereas this is true for less than 2% of the remainder of the genome.“

But not wishing to offend the “myth of 1%”, the Nature news article carefully adds, “The remainder of the chimp and human genomes are thought to differ in gene number by less than 1%.”

While this research takes us genetically further from apes, a more recent report in Nature news takes us genetically much closer to Neanderthals. Titled, “Neanderthals may have interbred with humans,” the article explains that “A genetic analysis of nearly 2,000 people from around the world indicates that such extinct species interbred with the ancestors of modern humans twice, leaving their genes within the DNA of people today.” According to this new article:

"[I]t may help explain the fate of the Neanderthals, who vanished from the fossil record about 30,000 years ago. 'It means Neanderthals didn't completely disappear,' says Jeffrey Long, a genetic anthropologist at the University of New Mexico, whose group conducted the analysis. There is a little bit of Neanderthal leftover in almost all humans, he says."

Given the high degree of skeletal similarity between humans and Neanderthals, the notion that we interbred is nothing new. They have been called a possible "race" of our own species, as studies have found their body shape is highly similar to that of modern human variation. Indeed, the discovery of "morphological mosaics" indicates that they likely interbred with modern humans. The finding of a modern-humanlike hyoid bone in a Neanderthal implies that they may have had language capabilities.

Textbooks often depict Neanderthals as primitive, bungling brutes with a vaguely human-like form (see above)—an attempt to instill the ape-to-human icon in students. But as Time Magazine reported in 1999, there’s increasing evidence showing that this evolutionary interpretation was wrong, and Neanderthals were essentially “all just people”:

"The real message, [a Washington University paleoanthropologist Erik] Trinkaus believes, is that to people living in the Stone Age, Neanderthals were just another tribe. 'They may have had heavier brows or broader noses or stockier builds, but behaviorally, socially and reproductively they were all just people.'" (Michael D. Lemonick, "A Bit of Neanderthal in Us All?," Time Magazine (April 25, 1999).)

Some ID proponents might disagree with me on this particular point, but it’s my view that Neanderthals were a race of human beings that ultimately went extinct. Either way, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Neanderthals do nothing to bolster the case that humans evolved from more primitive hominids.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

St. Basil of Ostrog and U.S. Senator Bill Barr

Saint Basil of Ostrog (Feast Day - April 29)

Amongst the Montenegrin people there are an innumerable amount of stories of miracles performed through the holy relics of Saint Basil of Ostrog. One of the most interesting stories is that of the United States Senator William (Bill) Barr.

His wife was Dr. Dojna Galic Barr, a prominent American psychiatrist with a Montenegrin heritage, who published a book named Blue Pigeon where she documented the visit of her husband to the Monastery of Saint Basil.

The Republican Senator from Illinois survived an assassination attack in 1970. Five sticks of dynamite were placed beneath his green Cadillac limousine and exploded when the driver turned the key to start the ignition. This occurred on June 2, 1970 and when it happened all news and radio stations were briefly cut off to broadcast the news of this assassination attempt. The Police Department immediately began an investigation and it was for a long time held up on file, but it was never discovered who was behind this heinous act and eventually investigations ceased. Police suspected that it involved someone who was bothered by this admired politician, who had led a group of five fellow senators in the investigation to allow blacks to live in an urban complex along with whites, which bothered many racist individuals.


Senator Barr was wounded and the doctors were not able to save his right leg. The remaining pain created much difficulty for him and the doctors were unable to help with the pain of the amputated leg or the constant fever and other related medical issues, such as the constant burning through his muscles. Doctors tried all possible methods to control the pain: hypnosis, acupuncture, drugs such as morphine and several operations. Nothing worked.

According to the Senator, one night he had an unusual dream in which he visited a small white church on the cliff of a mountain. The dream kept reappearing night after night, and an old man with white hair and beard and speaking in a language he did not understand walked him from room to room of this church while at the same time healing ill people in the church with his touch. He told his wife about the dream, but neither him nor her understood it.

While he was looking for medicine that could help him with his pains, the Senator was informed by a doctor of a maker of modern prosthetics whose heritage was from Yugoslavia and lived in Lansing, Michigan. Unfortunately he had died but was succeeded by his son named Jane. During a visit to the man's office he noticed a picture of a small white church and an icon of a white haired Saint Basil on the reception wall. He eventually received the prosthesis and was able to walk almost normal, but was still in severe pain.



Senator Bill decided to visit Jane again to find out more about Saint Basil, since he was haunted by this saintly figure. From Jane he found out everything about Ostrog and decided to visit the Monastery. Jane agreed to go with him with a group of prosthetic patients.

He made this trip in 1980 together with the group of other patience who lost limbs. In the days before the trip the Senator fasted in a strict Orthodox manner for forty days and learned the "Our Father" in the Serbian language with the help of his Orthodox wife, and he read about Saint Basil and his miracles. During his stay in Montenegro he walked up to the Upper Monastery daily with much pain because he was strangely attracted to the place. It should be noted that this walk lasts about an hour and is uphill. He stated that these visits could not compare to anything else in life and he neither cared how difficult it was nor how long. Every day the pains became less and less, especially as he kneeled in front of the relics of Saint Basil.

Later, he said: "I admit, I was a skeptic...I thought it may be just a superstition. But this is a phenomenon that is impossible outside the Church. I saw blind, deaf, dumb patients carried on stretchers, children and adults, all climb uphill to the Monastery either on foot or in a car. I believe in God's miracles, for I am a witness."

While in Ostrog, Senator Bill Barr was moved towards Orthodoxy through Saint Basil of Ostrog. He vowed to devote his life to helping people with amputated body parts all over the world, and spread the knowledge of the benefits of the new discoveries in modern prosthetics.



He returned home from his trip with no pain at all and with great faith in his heart and soul, and three icons - one for his wife, one for the house, and one that he kept always on his key chain.

As he had promised at the shrine of St. Basil, Bill Barr founded an Institute in which the best doctors and nurses in prosthetics worked. He also organized mobile clinics throughout America, Africa and the Middle East. He especially helped youth that were victims of terrorist attacks. In his humanitarian campaigns he would often fly as the pilot. From one mission however he was not to return home.

One day Dojna was informed by telephone from Washington that a helicopter carrying a clinic crashed and burst into flames. Among the victims were Senator Bill and Jane. Only portions of their body parts were recovered. Among the recovered items given to Dojna was the key chain with the icon of Saint Basil.



For more about Saint Basil and his Monastery, see here.



Above is a video of Dr. Dojna Galic Barr in which she talks about nostalgia towards Serbia, about her husband (she doesn't mention the story about St. Basil of Ostrog), her life in the States, and about the various recognition and rewards she has received for two of her novels. She also talks about French sculptor and graphic artist Camille Claudel, who, unfortunately has little recognition in the world for her beautiful artwork and was estranged from her family, which led to her mental illness and confinement in an asylum. Mrs. Galic-Barr also talks about her apolitical views, and hence mentions Barack Obama, the danger of terrorism, and the sin of black slavery in the history of the U.S. She states how she and her husband condemned the segregation of blacks in the USA and the pain it caused, and how her late husband Bill Barr, as a white man, protested for their rights and liberation while being a senator. (Many thanks to Sladjana Vukcevic for this translated summary)

Fr. Justin Popovich & Fr. Simeon of Dajbabe Glorified By Serbian Church


Serbian Church glorifies Father Justin Popovich, Father Simeon of Dajbabe

The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church has released this communique on April 29, 2010:

At its afternoon session on April 29 of this year, the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church unanimously adopted the recommendations of the responsible diocesan bishops and added to the diptychs of the saints of the Orthodox Church the names of Archimandrite Justin Popovich spiritual father of the Chelije Monastery near Valjevo of blessed memory (1894-1979), hereafter known as our Venerable Father Justin of Chelije, and Simeon Popovic, abbot of the Dajbabe Monastery near Podgorica (1854-1941), hereafter known as our Venerable Father Simeon of Dajbabe.


The liturgical commemoration of our Venerable Father Justin will be on June 1 on the Old Calendar (June 14 according to the New Calendar), and the commemoration of our Venerable Father Simeon will be celebrated on March 19 on the Old Calendar (April 1 on the New Calendar).

The festal glorification of these newly-canonized God-pleasing ones will take place at the Holy Hierarchical Liturgy of the Holy Assembly of Bishops next Sunday, May 2, at St. Sava Church on Vracar in Belgrade, beginning at 9:00 AM.

O our Venerable and God-bearing Fathers Justin and Simeon, pray to God for us!


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See pictures here.

Over 527,000 Guatemalans Received Into Orthodoxy


Message from Ecumenical Patriarch Secretariate in Mexico

In conformity with the canonical responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the diaspora, and sharing the vision of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW, the Holy Metropolis of Mexico is pleased to announce that, in an unceasing and continuing mission outreach ministry effectively being pursued by the Holy Metropolis of Mexico for these past twelve years, with active ministries in Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and following months of catechetical and pastoral preparation by the Mitered Archimandrite Andrew (Vujisić), Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Holy Metropolis, and upon the written request and petition of Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos, leaders of a religious community in Guatemala, the heretofore Orthodox Catholic Church of Guatemala (OCCG), has been canonically received into the Holy Metropolis of Mexico.

In announcing this exciting development, His Eminence Metropolitan ATHENAGORAS of Mexico expressed his great pleasure in welcoming the OCCG which was received in its entirety, including their former clergy, seminarians, lay ministers, catechists and affiliated membership into the canonical family of the Orthodox Church. Following their official reception, the leaders of OCCG, Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos traveled to Mexico City where on the weekend of March 19-21, they were ordained to the Holy Priesthood, receiving the title of Archimandrite.

The OCCG has an approximate membership of 527,000 faithful and catechumens, overwhelmingly indigenous, with 334 churches in Guatemala and southern Mexico, with 12 (formerly OCCG) clergymen and 14 seminarians, who are assisted in their pastoral ministry by 250 lay ministers and 380 catechists. The administrative offices of the OCCG are located on 280 acres of land, with a community college and 2 schools with 12 professors / teachers. Additionally, the OCCG has an established monastery located on 480 acres of land. Fourteen students from Guatemala, with full scholarship, are now enrolled in the St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Theological Institute Licentiate degree program. The seminary is fully accredited by the Holy Metropolis’ Department of Education.

The reception of the former OCCG into the canonical fold of the Orthodox Church, is in accord with the ministry of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico which, since 1996 has been answering the command of our Lord to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). By directive of Metropolitan ATHENAGORAS, Mitered Archimandrite Andrew (Vujisić) has now assumed the arduous task of preparing qualified men and women, indigenous to Guatemala and the Latin American culture and experience, for leadership roles in the Orthodox Church, thus advancing apostolic diakonia and outreach into the broader region, and creating an environment, that while fostering respect for indigenous cultures, will develop a proper knowledge and understanding of the Orthodox faith, leading our new Guatemalan family to a spiritual and sacramental life, an Orthodox phronema, and orthopraxia.

Mexico City, April 7th 2010

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE HOLY METROPOLIS

Telephone: (011) 52 55 5294 4460, Fax: 52 55 5294 2678
metropolimexico@yahoo.com.mx Love,

Fr. Deacon Daniel Williamson
http://www.orthodoxtheologicalinstitute.org/
Ecumenical Patriarchate

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Archb. Demetrios Responds to Resignation Rumors


Archbishop Demetrios Visits Ecumenical Patriarchate and Athens

Apr 29, 2010
GOA Press Release

NEW YORK – Archbishop Demetrios of America made a five-day trip to Constantinople and Athens. He arrived in Phanar on Friday, April 23 – the feast of the St. George the Trophybearer – in order for his visit to coincide with the visit of His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The next day, the Archbishop was present at the official welcome of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and his delegation of Hierarchs and clergy who had come from the Holy Land for the re-opening of the Jerusalem Patriarchal Metochion of St. George in Neochori. After the formal reception of His Beatitude, the Archbishop participated in a meeting with the two Patriarchs and other Hierarchs aiming at a final resolution of pending issues related to the Palestinian-Jordanian communities in the United States, which concluded successfully.

On Sunday, April 25, the Archbishop attended the Divine Liturgy with His All Holiness. The Liturgy was celebrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and his synodia in the Metochion of St. George. In the afternoon, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in a special meeting with the Archbishop reviewed the arrangements for the forthcoming Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America.

The next day, the Archbishop traveled to Athens. On Tuesday April 26, the Archbishop visited in succession His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitris Droutsas, and Foreign Affairs Chief of Protocol Ambassador Aikaterini Boura (formerly the Consul General in New York). In all the above cases the Archbishop had substantive discussions concerning Greece and the Omogeneia in the U.S. The Archbishop, during the same day, also had two meetings with the advance teams that prepare Ionian Village for the summer sessions.

Upon his arrival in New York yesterday, Archbishop Demetrios was informed about some false reports in the Media referring to information of a supposed resignation. His Eminence stated categorically that the reports were baseless and patently false. The Archbishop further added that there is no discussion about any resignation whatsoever. He said that he is looking forward in the coming years to the continuation of the sacred and vital mission and work of the Holy Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, with the same faith, zeal, methodical planning and love, especially in view of the difficulties confronting our contemporary world.

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Meet the Forger of "The Protocols of Zion": Mathieu Golovinski


Forging Protocols

Charles Paul Freund
From the February 2000 issue of Reason

The last mystery surrounding the infamous anti-Semitic pamphlet Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion--the identity of the 1904 hoax's author--finally has been solved. According to the Russian historian Mikhail Lepekhine, the Protocols were concocted by a Russian propagandist named Mathieu Golovinski as part of a monarchist scheme to persuade Czar Nicholas II that the capitalist modernization of Russia was really a Jewish plot to control the world. Golovinski's handiwork--24 subversive "protocols" that purport to be the minutes of a secret "Zionist" conclave--was to become a bulwark of anti-Semitic paranoia and an essential text of Nazism. The Protocols remain dear to credulous paranoids throughout the world.

Historian Lepekhine discovered Golovinski's authorship in Russia's long-closed archives and published his findings last November in the French newsweekly L'Express. Golovinski had been linked to the work before: The German writer Konrad Heiden identified him as an author of the Protocols in 1944.

The Protocols have been known to be a forgery since 1921, when The Times of London revealed that they had been largely copied from an 1864 political tract by a Frenchman, Maurice Joly. That work was a commentary on French politics and had nothing to do with Jews. Golovinski, working with such mystical anti-modernizers as the Holy Brotherhood, combined Joly's fantasy elements of world domination with earlier anti-Jewish and anti-Masonic material to produce "evidence" of an overarching Jewish-Masonic plot. Late-Imperial Russia was awash in documentary forgeries, domestic spying, and counterspying, with revolutionaries and the Czarist secret police often involved in complex duplicities. Golovinski himself changed sides after the 1917 revolution, becoming a Bolshevik propagandist.

Of course, a parallel universe of Protocol-believers has continued to claim that the Protocols are authentic, and that any evidence to the contrary is the real forgery. The leading proponent of this view was probably Nesta Webster, who wrote prolifically in the 1920s about purported Jewish conspiracies, and whose anti-revolutionary zeal may have stemmed from her belief that she had been guillotined by French revolutionaries in an earlier incarnation.

The Protocols remain widely sold in the Middle East, are readily available in Japan, and have lately become quite popular in the Balkans. In the U.S., reprints can be found in many Afrocentric bookstores. The Protocols were reprinted in their entirety in William Cooper's popular 1991 conspiracist work, Behold a Pale Horse, though Cooper instructed readers that "any reference to 'Jews' should be replaced with the word 'Illuminati.'"

Saint Nektary of Optina and the Uncreated Light


"That which is set in motion by the Holy Spirit becomes an eternal movement, living and holy; when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in a man, he who was previously only earth and dust receives the dignity of a prophet, an apostle and an angel of God." -St. Gregory Palamas

Professor Ivan M. Kontzevitch was one of the 20th century's greatest students of Orthodox sanctity, which was encapsulated in his excellent book The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit in Ancient Russia. His magnum opus, this book is a priceless sourcebook of all that he felt important to say about the prayer of the heart, communion with God, asceticism, and eldership. In it he combined careful honest scholarship with a first-hand knowledge of saints with whom he had been in contact while in Russia including the holy elders of Optina Monastery.

One particular elder whom Professor Kontzevitch came to know personally and was his spiritual father was the last elder of Optina Monastery before the 1917 revolution, Elder Nektary of Optina. In fact, Professor Kontzevitch's brother, Bishop Nektary of Seattle, was named after Elder Nektary and also had him as a spiritual father, and the mother of these two brothers, Nektaria, was a nun who had the Elder as a spiritual father as well. She witnessed the destruction of Optina Monastery and many other horrors of the Soviet system (her coffin was found above Elder Nektary's in Optina when his relics were discovered in 1992).

The book The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit in Ancient Russia is not only interesting for its contents, but is also a book which can be judged by its cover. It not only depicts many illumined fathers from whom the uncreated light emanates, but it is also in a peculiar color purple. We are told in the book by the author that this color was chosen with a purpose. He had seen Elder Nektary immersed in God's uncreated light, and this was the color that comes closest to it.

Saint Nektary of Optina and the Arts

Saint Nektary of Optina (Reposed on April 29, 1928)

In 1876, Nicholas [later named Nektary] arrived at the Optina forest with a bundle swung over his shoulder, containing nothing but a copy of the New Testament. Many years later, the holy father recalled his first impressions of Optina: "Lord! How beautiful it is with the sun flooding the area from sunrise, and the flowers! Just as though in Paradise!" Nicholas was received by none other than Elder Ambrose, and his initial dialogue with this great sagacious elder produced such a deep impression that he remained there for the rest of his life. Elders Ambrose and Anthony (Zertsalov) became his spiritual mentors.

When he in reclusion, Elder Nektary’s spiritual preceptors blessed him, after ten years of exclusive study of spiritual literature, to read secular authors and to study the secular sciences, obviously with the aim that he acquire that knowledge which would enable him to help lead the restless souls of the groping intelligentsia to salvation. He studied science, mathematics, history, geography and classical literature, both Russian and foreign. He spoke to his visitors about Pushkin and Shakespeare, Milton and Krilov, Spengler and Hegart, Blok, Dante, Gogol, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. In his only hour of rest after dinner he would ask to have read aloud Pushkin or some fairy tales—either Russian or the Brothers Grimm.

Starets Nektary became close to Constantine Leonti Bolotov, a scholar who became a monk living in Optina, and who used to read his original literary works to him. He studied painting under this academic and throughout his life maintained an interest by sketching icons and closely following new developments in trends and techniques. For example, his sketch of the Annunciation was made in the final year of his life at Optina.

Having a talent for painting, this art was especially close to Starets Nektary. He used to declare, "Currently, the art of painting is on the decline. Previously, before commencing a painting a painter used to prepare himself – both internally and externally. Before sitting down to the task, he would prepare all the necessary items: canvas, paints, brushes etc... and would then paint not only a few days, but years, and sometimes a whole lifetime, like painter Ivanov’s ‘Appearance of Christ to the People’. Great masterpieces were created in those days. Today, painters work hurriedly, without thought or feeling… For example, when painting a spiritual work, it is necessary for the light to emanate from an angel rather than it fall upon him."

The Starets badly wanted a painting to be done of Christ’s Birth. "It is necessary for the world to remember this enormous event. After all, it happened only once in the entire history!… The shepherds are dressed in short frayed clothing, facing the light with their backs to the viewer. And the light should not be white but slightly golden, be totally whole – not as rays or clusters – and only the far corner of the painting should be darkened, so as to remind us that it was night. In order to make it quite clear that this beauty was not human but heavenly and not of this world" added the elder with particular emphasis, "the light from the angels’ configurations must be soft, barely discernible." Another time the Starets mentioned to a girl: "Why were the shepherds worthy to see the angels that night? – Because they were vigilant."

Once the elder was shown an icon, depicting Christ’s Transfiguration, where the light from Mount Tabor contrasted with the dark ganglionic trees in the foreground. The Starets ordered their erasure, explaining that "where there is light from Tabor, there is no room for darkness… When there is this light, every nook and cranny is illuminated."

Regarding fine arts, the Starets had the following to say: "One can apply himself to the arts just as one would to any other activity, for example: carpentry or rearing cows. But everything has to be done as though in God’s view. There are major and minor arts. The minor one can be like this: there is sound and light. An artist is a person that is capable of comprehending these barely discernible colours, shades and inaudible sounds. He interprets his impressions onto canvas or paper. The results are painting, notes or poetry. Here, it is as though the sound and light are extinguished. Only colour remains from the light. The book, notes or painting are in their own way, crypts of light and sound. Along comes a reader or viewer, and if he is capable of creatively reading or viewing, then the resurrection of purpose occurs. Then the circle of the art is completed. In front of the viewer and reader’s soul, the light erupts and the sound becomes worthy of his hearing. Consequently, an artist or poet has nothing much to be proud of. He is only doing his part of the work. It is futile of him to think that he is the creator of his works – there is only one Creator, while people only destroy the word and images of the Creator and then, receiving His power, enliven them. However, there is a greater art – the word that is enlivening and inspirational (e.g. Psalms of David). The path to this art lies through the artist’s personal deeds – it is a path of sacrifice and only one from many achieve their aim… All the verses in the world are not worth a single line of a Psalm… Pushkin was a very intelligent man but was unable to live his life correctly."

These and other observations of Father Nektary were the fruits of his internal, spiritual experience. Having become Starets, he began to share with his visitors that which he acquired through reading and contemplation.

Starets loved to quote from "Hamlet": "There are many things on earth, friend Horatio, that our wise men have not even dreamt of." He was talking about how it is essential for a writer to ponder over every word: "Before beginning to write, dip your pen into the inkwell, seven times."

Recognizing the importance of the theatre as a source of influence on the community, Starets Nektary advised the artists to keep a sense of proportion in the game. He once refused to bless a young woman, aspiring to join the theatre. When asked about his refusal, he responded: "She will not be able to overcome the temptations and will become immoral… Modesty is of great worth; it is none other than a virtue of chastity. If a person safeguards his chastity (which is easily lost by the intellectuals) he safeguards everything."

Source

Holy Apostles Jason and Sosipater of Kerkyra

Sts. Jason and Sosipater the Apostles - Commemorated on April 29th (or in some places, April 28th); the two icons above are from their church in Kerkyra and are from the 1600's.

These Saints and Apostles of the first century, celebrated today, are especially interesting because of the archaeology that supports their history as enlighteners of the island of Kerkyra (known also as Corfu).

They arrived on the island of Kerkyra about 40 AD and we are told they are responsible for Christianizing the island, one of the first cities in all of Greece to be Christianized.

We are told they built a church dedicated to Saint Stephen the Protomartyr. If true this means that even the apostles built churches and dedicated them to martyrs and saints. Possible evidence for this lies in the fact that many streets and locations in the area are named after Saint Stephen (Agios Stephanos).

Furthermore, the church currently named after Saints Jason and Sosipater is the only church from the Roman Empire (built around 1000 AD) on the island and it is built on top of an older church built centuries earlier, probably from the first century according to archaeologists, that bear inscriptions with the names of the two Apostles. On top of that, the church claims to even contain the relics of the Saints inside the church [the heads of the Apostles are in Hosios Loukas Monastery near Thebes]. The current church was the katholikon of a monastery in Roman times. Katherine, wife of Thomas Palaiologos (brother of the last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI), sought refuge in this monastery when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453.

The Life and Ministry of the Holy Apostles Jason and Sosipater and the Virgin-Martyr Kerkyra

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The first two were among the Seventy Apostles, and the last was the daughter of the king of the island of Corfu. The Apostle Paul mentions Jason and Sosipater (Rom. 16:21), and calls them his kinsmen.

Jason was born in Tarsus, as was the Apostle Paul himself, and Sosipater in Achaea. The first was nominated by the Apostles as Bishop of Tarsus and the second as Bishop of Iconium.

Travelling and preaching the Gospel, these two apostles came to the island of Corfu, where they succeeded in building a church dedicated to St Stephen the Protomartyr and in bringing some unbelievers to the Church.

The king of the island [Kerkylinus] threw them into prison, where there were seven robbers already imprisoned: Satorninus, Jakischolus, Faustian, Januarius, Marsalus, Euphrasius and Mamminus. The apostles brought all seven of them to the Christian faith, making wolves into lambs. The king commanded that these seven be put to death in boiling pitch, and they thus received the wreath of martyrdom.

When, after this, the king was in process of questioning the apostles, his daughter Kerkyra, looking through a window, saw the torture of these men of God and, discovering the reason for it, proclaimed herself a Christian and gave all her jewels away to the poor. The king was filled with wrath against his daughter and shut her up in a separate prison, then, failing to turn her from Christ, ordered that the prison be burned down. The prison burned to the ground, but the maiden remained alive. Seeing this wonder, many of the people were baptized. The furious king ordered that his daughter be bound to a tree and killed with arrows.

Those who had come to believe in Christ fled from the terrible king to a nearby island and hid themselves. The king set off in a boat to arrest them, but his boat overturned in the sea and thus the unrighteous perished, as Pharaoh aforetime.

The new king accepted the Christian faith and was baptized, receiving the name Sebastian. Jason and Sosipater freely preached the Gospel and strengthened the Church of God in Corfu to great old age [some say Sosipater was martyred before the death of Jason by being burned to death], and there finished their earthly course and went to the courts of the Lord.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Being illuminated with the teachings of Paul, ye became luminaries unto the whole world, O thrice-blessed ones; for ye ever shine upon the world with miracles, O Jason, thou fountain of healings, and Sosipater, thou glory of the Martyrs of Christ. O God-bearing Apostles, ye protectors of them that be in need, entreat God that our souls be saved.


The Roman church of Saints Jason and Sosipater. The building dates roughly to the year 1000, but two recessed inscriptions on the two sides of the central entry tell us that it would have been constructed on the site of an older monument. The previous church may have possibly been destroyed during the Slavic invasions a few decades earlier.

The church of Sts. Jason and Sosipater on Kerkyra (supposedly the sole church of Roman architecture on the island). Here are preserved relics of Sts. Jason and Sosipater (their skulls are in the Monastery of Hosios Loukas in mainland Greece), and I believe also the tomb of the martyred prison guard, St. Anthony, honored as one of the first martyrs of the island.

On Wandering Thoughts During Church Services


Nothing can be kept secret from our Omniscient God. At every moment, to Him is known all that is being done in the world; both in the external as well as in the internal, spiritual world. Not one intention, not one desire, not one thought of his can man conceal from God. How can you hide from God that which you cannot hide from men; from holy men!

One day, Tsar Ivan the Terrible came to church to pray to God. In the church, Blessed Basil, "the fool for Christ," stood for prayer. It is true the Tsar was in church physically, but his thoughts were on the Hill of the Sparrow, a short distance from Moscow, upon which he had begun to construct a palace. Throughout the liturgical services the Tsar thought about how he could extend and complete his palace on that hill. After the services the Tsar noticed Basil and asked him: "Where have you been?" Basil replied: "In church." Basil then immediately asked the Tsar: "O Tsar and where were you?" "I, also, was in church," answered the Tsar. To that the discerning saint replied: "You are not speaking the truth Ivanushka for I perceived how, in your thoughts, you were pacing about on the Hill of the Sparrow and building a palace."

- St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Without...


Without family you cannot live,
Without country you don't know where you live,
Without God you don't know why you live.

1000 Ex-Scientology Church Members Speak Out



1000 Ex-Scientology Church Members Have Left And Spoken Out

Dawn Olsen
April 27, 2010
Technorati

Just in time for Scientology leader David Miscavige's 50th birthday (this Friday, April 30th, Happy Birthday Dickhead), internet activist group Anonymous has released a list of 1000 people who've left the Church — and spoken out against it.

While some of those who've left still follow the tenets of Scientology, all are now free of the oppressive, bankrupting, immoral, family separating, labor law breaking, government spying, member abusing, abortion-forcing cult. In a press release issued by Why We Protest, the details of this major milestone are highlighted.

"...The stories told by these ex-members are similar to the revelations made recently by former members speaking out against Scientology in highly visible stories in the New York Times, the St. Petersburg Times, and most recently, in a five-part series on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. According to the Church of Scientology, these former members are "liars" and "apostates" with an agenda to destroy the church. Anonymous wonders whether Scientology will also call all 1,000 of these former members liars."

I remember when the wave of criticism grew from a few outspoken critics, like Arnie Lerma, Mark Bunker and Gerry Armstrong, to a massive body of masked and unmasked individuals who decided it was time to take the Church of Scientology to task. Since then, a grassroots movement has helped add their voice to those who've been abused by this government sanctioned ponzi scheme/cult, that enjoys tax benefits no other religion gets, may have killed members, has driven members to suicide or bankruptcy and uses famous celebrities to create a facade of legitimacy built on bilking innocent people for millions upon millions of dollars.

In honor of this monumental occasion, I am posting the original video which inspired me to look deeper, closer and with greater scrutiny at a religion that most deem as simply kooky, but is much, much more sinister than you can imagine.

For those who've left, you have my respect. For those still stuck in their Scientology nightmare, there is hope...and help. Please, take the first step to free yourself and join your 1000+ brothers and sisters. Smell the fresh air of freedom that awaits you.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Elder Nikolai Gurianov and the Demon Possessed Woman

This is a video showing Elder Nikolai Gurianov blessing people while a demon possessed woman named Nadezhda is yelling. The demon calls Elder Nikolai "Kol'ka" which is a disrespectful form of his short name "Kol'ya". Apparently he had blessed this woman to go to the churches of Russia and confess the power of Orthodoxy.

In the first video she yells: ""I hate you, Orthodox. Orthodoxy is the most disgusting religion. All other religions will go to hell... We like when you cross yourself in a wrong way... You all think that Nad'ka (disrespectful form of "Nadezhda", which means "Faith" by the way) is crazy. But she is not. If any of you will offend her, you will answer before God for this. She is blessed. She is blessed and got a blessing to go to the churches to make you wiser... The whole country soon will know her... She (Nadezhda) will pray for those who drink and they will stop being alcoholics, those who she will sign with the cross will be healed..." and then at the 2:09 mark of the video she continues: "She was blessed for this, by this Kol'ka, who I hate!"

And then you see this woman falls and the words on the screen say: "Servant of God Nadezhda". And then she gets up and walks to the Elder and he blesses her with holy oil.



In the second video below, it opens with a scene of the grave of the elder, but then goes to normal. The voice of the evil spirit then says:

"She came here and brought these six fools with her also... I hate this Nad'ka... I curse her! (repeats it several times)... Why did she come here today? (crying) I don't want this! You all soon will bow before our master - Antichrist. Soon it will be his power. Soon you will bow before him! Repent, sinners!..." (Nadezhda crosses herself at times while it shouts out of her body).

At the 0:53 mark on the video, Nadezhda is looking at the Elder and the evil spirit says: "I don't want them to live! I don't want it!"

You can barely hear the voice of the Elder saying to another woman: "Don't be afraid. Let her shout." Then it looks like he is saying "Lord have mercy".

The demon continues to shout: "I hate when women wear scarves! It is better to wear hats in a demonic style! All women in hats, you all will go to hell... they put on men clothes and think they are beauties! You all will go to hell... you all will answer before God."

The video then stops and an old woman on the screen appears, apparently this was from a documentary about Elder Nikolai to make episodes only about this incident.



In the beginning of the third video below you can see a Russian newspaper and an article about Blessed Pelagia.

The demon shouts: "Those who don't believe in Blessed Pelagia, will go to hell... And those priests who don't bless people to read her (about her?... it says "her", but it is unclear if it means she had writings) they go to hell and take other people with them... Those who don't venerate Blessed Lyubushka (loving form of Lyubov which means "Love" - some other Saint of our times, I guess), will go to hell... Repent, sinners, repent! Who are you to judge them?"

Then you can see on the screen the words: "Servant of God Nadezhda", who is standing before the Elder and continues to shout: "I hate you Kol'ka! Why did you bless Nad'ka to open the eyes of the people? Why does she need to go to the temples? Let her work! I don't want to take anything from you! I hate those who love Nad'ka... and love those who hate her and laugh at her... (crying) I don't want... don't want... to sit in her! It would be better if I could come out!!! And entered into someone else... How could I know she is such a fool!!!"

It should be noted that Nadezhda was an Orthodox woman who went to go see the Elder when this happened to her, hence the way the demon speaks about its situation.



The fourth and last video in the series below shows Nadezhda standing before the Elder, saying: "Let them go to hell! Let them not know the truth! Let them be fooled! Let them watch TVs, play on the computers! Let them die! Let them go to Hell! Hell!"....



The last video below is from the same period as the first video.

In the beginning the evil spirit shouts: "I hate you, Orthodox. Orthodoxy is the most disgusting religion. All other religions will go to hell..."

When the Elder closes the door, that old woman who was reading the prayers says: "Did you hear? Our Orthodox faith is the only true faith. All other religions will go to hell..."

Demon: "Don't teach! I am tired of you Val'ka! (Val'ka is a disrespectful form of name Valentina)... She is disgusting! She teaches everybody, teaches! Let them go to hell! Let them not know the truth! Let them to be fooled! Let them watch TVs, play on the computers! Let them die! Let them go to hell, hell! All of them! To hell!"

Then you can see the door opens a little bit and the women see the Elder standing there... he was there during the whole time... then one woman says something to Val'ka and the demon starts shouting; "Why do you say Nad'ka (Nadezhda) is good! It is me who is good!"

The demon on the video is roaring, as he is very angry that he can't do any evil things now and he is suffering. Sometimes in the videos above after shouting he starts crying: "I don't want it! I don't want it!" It seems like he doesn't want to do what he is doing, because it works for good and opens the eyes of the people. This demon hates everybody, and talks to everybody or about anybody with no respect and in a very "village" style, in a style of simple uneducated Russian people, who live in villages or very small towns. It doesn't say any cuss words... at least they are not on the video.

St. Basil the Great on the Book of Psalms


Any part of the Scriptures you like to choose is inspired by God. The Holy Spirit composed the Scriptures so that in them, as in a pharmacy open to all souls, we might each of us be able to find the medicine suited to our own particular illness.

Thus, the teaching of the Prophets is one thing, and that of the Historical books is another. And, again, the Law has one meaning, and the advice we read in the Book of Proverbs has a different one.

But the Book of Psalms contains everything useful that the others have. It predicts the future, it recalls the past, it gives directions for living, it suggests the right behavior to adopt. It is, in short, a jewel case in which have been collected all the valid teachings in such a way that individuals find remedies just right for their cases.

It heals the old wounds of the soul and gives relief to recent ones. It cures the illnesses and preserves the health of the soul.

Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates profligacy.

Every Psalm preserves friendship and reconciles those who are separated. Who could actually regard as an enemy the person beside whom they have raised a song to the one God?

Every Psalm anticipates the anguish of the night and gives rest after the efforts of the day. It is safety for babes, beauty for the young, comfort for the aged, adornment for women.

Every Psalm is the voice of the Church.

- Commentary on Psalm 1, by Saint Basil the Great, 4th century.

Translation by Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, MI – Spencer, MA, 1994.

The Feast of Mid-Pentecost and the Pentecostarion


The fifty days following Pascha until the Feast of Pentecost are known as the period of the Pentecostarion in the Orthodox Church. At the mid-point between these great feasts of Pascha and Pentecost, on the twenty-fifth day which is always a Wedneday, is one of the most beloved feasts for the most devout Orthodox Christians known quit simply as Mid-Pentecost. Mid-Pentecost is to the Pentecostarion what the Third Sunday of Great Lent which honors the Holy Cross is to the period of Great Lent. It is a day which helps us focus on the central theme of the entire period. Whereas the mid-point of Great Lent reminds us to bear up the Cross of Christ bravely so that we may daily die with Christ in order to experience the Resurrection of our Lord, so also the mid-point of the Pentecostarion enlightens us regarding the theme of the fifty days following Pascha - which is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit poured out as a gift upon all the faithful who partake of the living water which is Christ Himself.

The central theme woven throughout the period of the Pentecostarion therefore is water. This becomes the central theme of the period because it is the central theme of the Gospel of John which we read in its entirety during the Pentecostarion and which naturally flows into the Acts of the Apostles which is also read during this period in its entirety. This theme appears for the first time on Pascha itself in the joyous Canon of the Feast of Feasts written by Saint John the Damascene when he invites us to "drink a new drink," not "brought forth from a barren rock," as in the Old Testament under Moses, but which rather "springeth forth from the grave of Christ." Then during the Paschal Divine Liturgy the priest processes with the Gospel and chants loudly from Psalm 67:27 saying: "In the congregations bless ye God, the Lord from the well-springs of Israel."

When Renewal or Bright Week is over the Church wisely sets up two Sundays in which to abolish all doubts concerning the Resurrection of Christ, that of the Sunday of Saint Thomas and the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women. This is done in order to ensure that we all partake of the living water that only the risen Lord can give. The following three Sundays, as we approach Pentecost, the theme of water becomes more and more central in the hymns of the Church. Thus we are found one Sunday at the Sheep's Pool with the Paralytic, then at the Well of Jacob with the Samaritan Woman, and finally at the Pool of Siloam with the Blind Man. During this festive period we hear concerning the "living water" which if one partakes of "he will never thirst". We are taught that it is our Savior Himself who is this living water, and we partake of Him through the baptismal waters and the Cup of Life which issued forth from His side at His crucifixion unto remission of sins and life everlasting. Then on Pentecost we have grace rained upon our parched souls and bodies so that we may be fruitful and have a great harvest as we hear from the holy Gospel on that day: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink". Finally the Pentecostarion concludes with the Feast of All Saints, that is those who partook of the "waters of piety", which is the harvest of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The Fathers teach us that the feast of Mid-Pentecost stands in the middle of the fifty-day period from Pascha to Pentecost as a mighty flowing river of divine grace which have these two great feasts as its source. Pascha and Pentecost are united in Mid-Pentecost. Without Pascha there is no Pentecost and without Pentecost there is no purpose to Pascha.

We read the following entry in
The Great Horologion that further explains the details of the feast:

"After the Saviour had miraculously healed the paralytic, the Jews, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, were moved to envy and persecuted Him, and sought to slay Him, using the excuse that He did not keep the Sabbath, since He worked miracles on that day. Jesus then departed to Galilee. About the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, He went up again to the Temple and taught. The Jews, marveling at the wisdom of His words, said, 'how knoweth this man letters, having never learned?' But Christ first reproached their unbelief and lawlessness, then proved to them by the Law that they sought to slay Him unjustly, supposedly as a despiser of the Law, since He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath.

"Therefore, since the things spoken of by Christ in the middle of the Feast of the Tabernacles are related to the Sunday of the Paralytic that is just passed, and since we have already reached the midpoint of the fifty days between Pascha and Pentecost, the Church has appointed this present feast as a bond between the two great Feasts, thereby uniting, as it were, the two into one, and partaking of the grace of them both. Therefore today’s feast is called Mid‐Pentecost, and the Gospel Reading, 'At Mid‐feast'—though it refers to the Feast of the Tabernacles—is used.

"It should be noted that there were three great Jewish feasts: the Passover, the Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover was celebrated on the 15th of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, which roughly coincides with our March. This feast commemorated that day on which the Hebrews were commanded to eat the lamb in the evening and anoint the doors of its houses with its blood. Then, having escaped bondage and death at the hands of the Egyptians, they passed through the Red Sea to come to the Promised Land. It is called 'the feast of Unleavened Bread,' because they ate unleavened bread for seven days. Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after Passover, first of all, because the Hebrew tribes had reached Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt, and there received the Law from God; secondly, it was celebrated to commemorate their entry into the Promised Land, where also they ate bread, after having been fed with manna forty years in the desert. Therefore, on this day they offered to God a sacrifice of bread prepared with new wheat. Finally, they also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 22nd of 'the seventh month,' which corresponds roughly to our September. During this time, they lived in booths made of branches in commemoration of the forty years they spent in the desert, living in tabernacles, that is, in tents (Ex. 12:10‐20; Lev. 23 LXX). "

The Feast of Mid-Pentecost is celebrated for an entire week until the following Wednesday, making it an eight day feast. During this entire time the hymns of Mid-Pentecost are joined with that of Pascha. Because of the theme of water, traditionally the Church celebrates the Lesser Blessing of the Waters on this day, preferably with a procession with the Holy Cross to a water spring.

The theme of the feast not only invokes water, but even more central to the Gospel chronology it honors Christ as Teacher and Wisdom as He reveals Himself between the stories of the Paralytic and that of the Blind Man. During this time we are told: "Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught...Jesus answered them, and said, 'My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself'" (John 7:14-30). The icon for this feast depicts the young Jesus teaching the elders in the Temple (Luke 2:46, 47) at which time Jesus first revealed Himself as a teacher or rabbi. Traditional Orthodox icons will depict Jesus as larger than the elders, showing his superior spiritual status.

Since the hymns of the Church invoke and praise our Lord as the Wisdom of God spoken of in the Book of Proverbs, it is traditional that all churches named after Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia celebrate their feast on this day. In fact, Greek scholar Constantine Kalokyre has written a study titled "The Churches of the Wisdom of God and the Date of their Celebration", which appeared in the periodical Saint Gregory Palamas, no. 71 (723) (1988), pp. 538-617. In this study he comes to the conclusion that the Great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople celebrated its feast day on Mid-Pentecost.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Midway in the feast, refresh my thirsty soul with the flowing waters of piety. For You cried out to all, O Savior, "Let him who thirsts come to me and drink." You, O Christ our God, are the Fountain of Life, glory to You.

Video of Patriarch Irenaios Under House Arrest

A video is being circulated of the former Patriarch of Jerusalem under house arrest. He has been under house arrest for the past two and a half years. Apparently, when he was asked if someone could come up and speak with him, he said "You can't, because I am locked in."



A website has been developed in support of Patriarch Irenaios, which give reasons why he is under house arrest. The website can be seen here: http://www.gopoj.org/. I would only encourage readers to remember that there are two sides to this story, the other side of which I know little about. Some background information can be found here.

Prayer of the Optina Elders


On Bearing Insults


During a certain uprising in Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Constantine, some embittered men broke off the nose and ears of the statue of the emperor in the city. Many adulators quickly came to the emperor and with great disgust relayed to the emperor how rebels broke the nose and ears from his statues and they asked the emperor to punish the transgressors with the most severe punishment. The great emperor felt his nose and ears with his hands and said to the flatterers: "I feel that my nose and ears are whole and undamaged!" The flatterers were ashamed and withdrew. With every royal generosity we all need to endure insults from others. Yet, with particular caution listen to accusations against other people, which our flatterers bring to us. We should always confess before God and before ourselves, that we, by our sins, deserved even greater insults than those which are perpetrated against us.

- St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue

The Islamic Ideology Known as "The Narrative"



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