Saturday, May 15, 2010
Saint Pachomius was born of pagan parents in the Upper Thebaid of Egypt. He was conscripted into the Roman army at an early age. While quartered with the other soldiers in the prison in Thebes, Pachomius was astonished at the kindness shown them by the local Christians, who relieved their distress by bringing them food and drink. Upon inquiring who they were, he believed in Christ and vowed that once delivered from the army, he would serve Him all the days of his life. Released from military service, about the year 313, he was baptized, and became a disciple of the hermit Palamon, under whose exacting guidance he increased in virtue and grace, and reached such a height of holiness that "because of the purity of his heart," says his biographer, "he was, as it were, seeing the invisible God as in a mirror." His renown spread far, and so many came to him to be his disciples that he founded nine monasteries in all, filled with many thousands of monks, to whom he gave a rule of life, which became the pattern for all communal monasticism after him. While Saint Anthony the Great is the father of hermits, Saint Pachomius is the founder of the cenobitic life in Egypt; because Pachomius had founded a way of monasticism accessible to so many, Anthony said that he "walks the way of the Apostles." Saint Pachomius fell asleep in the Lord before his contemporaries Anthony and Athanasius the Great, in the year 346. His name in Coptic, Pachom, means "eagle."
The Rule Of Saint Pachomios as revealed to him from an angel of the Lord:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, & Part 4
--The great Pachomios was asked once by a brother, ‘Why is it that before the demon comes to trouble us, we possess our mind’s understanding in a healthy state and we philosophize about temperance, humility, and the other virtues, but when the hour comes to display in deed what we have been philosophizing about, such as longsuffering in the time of anger, absence of vainglory when subjected to praise, and many other similar things, we are often defeated?’ In answer to this the Great Man said, ‘Because we do not pursue the active life perfectly—that is why we do not understand all the demons’ mind and versatility well enough to be able, when the Troubler manifests his presence, to repel swiftly the confusion of such thoughts which surrounds us by the contemplative power of the soul. Therefore,’ he said, ‘let us pour the fear of God like oil upon the contemplative part of the soul, every day and every hour. That fear, which accomplishes works and is a lamp for the contemplation of the things that concern us, makes our mind unshakable, not carried away by anger, wrath, rancor, and any of the other passions which lead us to wickedness. It makes it contemplative and raises it to that incorporeal region; it forces it to hold in contempt the things which are wrought by devils and prepares it to "tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and all the whole strength of the enemy"' (Luke 10:19).
--Once, while living in the desert, Pachomios learned that the city of Alexandria was being ravaged by famine and epidemic. He spent several days in tears, not even eating the meager ration of food which he allowed himself. His novices begged him to eat and restore his strength but St Pachomios replied, "How can I eat when my brethren do not have bread?" How far are even the best of us from such love and commiseration?
--Pachomios memorized the Holy Scriptures. When he started reciting God’s words by heart, he did not do it in the fashion of many other people, but he strove to comprehend it himself, each and every thing through humility, gentleness and truth, according to the Lord’s word, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart" (Matthew 11:29).
--Pachomios was…in the habit of stretching his arms out in prayer, without folding them soon again into a resting position, but rather keeping them stretched out, as if on a cross, in order to force the body to labor and stay awake in prayer.
--Pachomios believed that “it was not good to ask for office and glory” and, wary of ecclesiastical politics, felt that “a clerical office is the beginning of contemplation of the lust for power”.
--As the Vita Prima Graeca informs us, the few monks of the early days of the Pachomian community marveled at him exceedingly, because they saw him toiling…through his assumption of nearly all the care of the monastery. For he prepared the table for them at mealtime…he sowed and watered the vegetables…he answered the door every time someone would knock at it…if any one of them were sick, Pachomios himself took care of him and ministered to him during the night…he freed them of all care.
--One day Pachomios was weaving a rush mat in Tabennesis and a boy came to the weekly service in the monastery. When the boy saw him weaving, he told him, ‘Not so father! Do not turn the thread this way. Father Theodore showed us another style of weaving.’ Pachomios rose and said to the boy: ‘Yes, teach me this style.’ After the boy taught him, he sat to work gladly, having even in this matter anticipated the spirit of arrogance. If his way were the way of the flesh, he would not have cared but would even have reprimanded the child for having spoken out of turn.
--It was while Pachomios was in the desert alone, praying to be taught God’s perfect will, (that) an angel sent by the Lord appeared to him…and (said) ‘The Lord’s will is to minister to the race of men and to reconcile them to him.’ It was after he thought about the voice which he had heard and realized its meaning (that) he started to receive those who came to him.
--The wife of one of the area’s leading politicians was bleeding. And when she heard about the great Pachomios, she asked…Dionysios to summon him. After the Great Man was summoned, he sat inside the church…and she…coming near him…touched the cowl on his head and was immediately cured.
--Elder Pachomios would say: "He who in my view is a sinner is not to ask of God to see visions. For without God’s will, visions are misleading…hear now about a great vision: it is a great vision to see a pure and humble man. For what is greater…than to see the invisible God in the visible man who is his temple".
--Abba Psenthaisios, Abba Souros and Abba Psoios used to agree in saying this: “Whenever we listened to the words of our father, Abba Pachomios, we were greatly helped…(and) we saw how, even when he kept silence, he taught us by his actions. We were amazed by him and we used to say to each other: ‘We thought that all the saints were created as saints by God and never changed from their mother’s womb, not like other men. We thought that sinners could not live devoutly, because they had been so created. But now we see the goodness of our God manifested in our father: for see, he is of pagan origin and he has become devout; he has put on all the commandments of God. Thus even we also can follow him and become equal to the saints whom he himself has followed.’”
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Thou didst prove a chief pastor of the Chief Shepherd, Christ, guiding the flocks of monastics unto the heavenly fold, whence thou learntest of the habit and the way of life that doth befit ascetic ranks; having taught this to thy monks, thou now dancest and rejoicest with them in heavenly dwellings, O great Pachomius, our Father and guide.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Since thou hadst shown forth the life of the Angels while in a body, O God-bearing Pachomius, thou wast also counted worthy of their glory; and with them thou standest before the Lord's throne, interceding that divine forgiveness be granted unto all.
Below is an excerpt from Palladius' Lausiac History which speaks of the encounter between St. Pachomius the Great and St. Macarius of Alexandria:
Having heard that the monks of Tabennisi had a splendid rule of life, he [Macarius] changed his clothes and put on the secular garments of a workman, and went a fifteen days' journey to the Thebaid, traveling through the desert.
And having come to the Monastery of the Tabennesiots he asked for their archimandrite, Pachomius by name, a man of great reputation and possessing the gift of prophecy, though the story of Macarius had not been revealed to him.
So meeting him he said: "I pray you, receive me into your monastery that I may become a monk."
Pachomius said to him: "You have already reached old age, and you cannot be an ascetic. The brethren are ascetics and you cannot endure their labors. You will be offended and will depart, cursing them."
And he did not receive him either the first day or the second, till seven days had passed. But he persisted in waiting, fasting (all the time), and at last he said to him: "Receive me, father, and if I do not fast as they do and work, order me to be driven out." He persuaded the brethren to admit him; now the total number (of the occupants) of the first monastery was 1,400 men and remains so up to this day.
Well, he entered. When a little time had passed, Lent came on and he saw each man practicing different ways of asceticism, one eating in the evening only, another every two days, another every five, another again standing all night but sitting down by day. So having moistened palm leaves in large numbers, he stood in a corner and until the forty days were completed and Easter had come, ate no bread and drank no water, neither knelt down nor reclined, and apart from a few cabbage leaves took nothing, and them only on Sunday, that he might appear to eat. And if ever he went out in obedience to nature, he quickly came in again and took his stand, speaking to no one and not opening his mouth but standing in silence. And, apart from prayer in his heart and the palm leaves in his hands, he was doing nothing.
All the ascetics therefore, seeing this, raised a revolt against the superior, saying: "Where did you get this fleshless man from, to condemn us? Either drive him out, or know that we are all going." Pachomius, therefore, having heard the details of his observance, prayed to God that the identity of the stranger might be revealed to him.
And it was revealed; and he took him by the hand and led him to the house of prayer, where the altar was, and said to him, "Here, good old man, you are Macarius and you hid it from me. For many years I have been longing to see you. I thank you for letting my children feel your fist, lest they should be proud of their ascetic achievements. Now go away to your own place, for you have edified us sufficiently. And pray for us." Then he went away, as asked.
St. Macarius of Alexandria (Feast Day - January 19)
The Monastery of Panagia tis Spilias (Virgin Mary of The Cave) is located at Ano Argithea (Agrafa Mountains) in the Karditsa perfecture, near Koympoyriana village.
The Monastery was built at 880 meters high at the edge of a high rock. There are two churches in the Monastery. The first was built in 1604 by Parthenios and Athanasios, brothers from the village of Stefaniada. They built the first church after the miraculous finding of the Panagia Odigitria icon.
This Monastery was a very important place during the Greek War of Independence againt the Ottoman Empire in the 1820's, and the famous Greek warrior Georgios Karaiskakis used this place for war meetings between the local captains.
In this documentery they first travel to the Holy Land desert to St. Savvas the Sanctified Monastery, then move on to St. Savvas Monastery in Kalymnos.
by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow
When the time comes, and especially the time put aside for God and His temple, a feast day or the hour of Divine Services, hurry to tear yourself away from business and worldly cares and voluntarily and zealously offer yourself to God in His church. When you enter the church bring to mind the promise of the Lord to those that gather in His name: "there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20), and stand reverently in church, as before the very face of Christ, and pray to Him that He sanctify you by His holiness, animate you by His prayer, and enlighten you with the word of the Gospel and the Grace of the Mysteries. Take note of this, too: in the church, angels serve with us and guard the holiness dwelling there. Once, in the Lavra of Saint Theodosius near Jerusalem, Abba Leontius, coming one Sunday to church to receive the Holy Mysteries, saw an angel standing on the right side of the Holy Table, and when the elder, being afraid, turned to run to his cell, the voice of the angel called to him: "From the time this Holy Table was consecrated, I have been charged to stay by it." Remember this, beloved, and stand reverently. And, if you feel that only your body is standing in church, while your mind thinks of home, or the market, or a place of merriment, collect yourself. Hurry to bring back your mind that has strayed, join it to God in your heart, force it to strive towards God, Who looks upon you. When you hear the word of God, open up not only your bodily ears, but your spiritual ones as well, open your heart, receive this heavenly Bread and with it nourish not only your memory, but also your life and work.
When you are preparing to be a communicant of the Body and Blood of Christ, or are simply present at this Mystery, cleave in mind and heart to the Cross and the Tomb of the Lord, to the Body of Christ, suffering, dying, buried, risen, glorified and believe that your faith's touching Him will be more substantial than the touching of His garment by the woman with an issue of blood, and Christ's power [will] go out (Luke 8:46) to purify and elevate your powers of soul and body.
Friday, May 14, 2010
[Since Robin Hood is being released today, I thought it worthwhile to reflect on what Fr. John Romanides had to say about this interesting legend and the value it has for Orthodox Christians. Since the complete story of Robin Hood will no doubt be overlooked as it always is in film, as well as the historical backdrop which makes the story so fascinating, this brief historical reflection will no doubt be of some interest to movie-goers this weekend. The question to ponder is whether or not the Robin Hood legend is a historical parable of the Frankish takover of Roman Britain, initiated under the blessing of the new Frankish Pope?
I have kept the number of the footnotes from the original article which can be found linked under the source of the pericope for reference. The information presented can be examined alongside this website: http://www.robinhoodloxley.net/default.htm. - J.S.]
The Frankish Papacy of 1046 and Norman Britain of 1066
As we already noted, the population of France in 1789 included 2% nobility, 13% franchised middle class and 85% vilains and serfs. The latter 85% were enclosed within slave camps and guarded from escape by some 40,000 castles. These serfs and villains had been isolated from each other for so many centuries that they ended up speaking their own local patois of which some 35 are recorded and still spoken locally. This reality forced the 85% of the population to learn and adopt the language of their former oppressors. This clearly means that there had to have been a very serious reason why the Frankish military kept so much of the population isolated from each other. It seems that the best explanation of this phenomenon of so many slave camps up to 1789 is to be found in the Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals which appeared in 850. These tampered with and thus forged documents, supported a Church structure which put the Frankish bishops directly under the control of the Pope of Rome and his curia, both of which were still Roman nationals, and therefore under the rule of the Roman Empire and its Roman Emperor in Constantinople New Rome. At the time the Franks accepted these Decretals as genuine and argued that they were valid locally only within the Roman Empire, a difficult argument to maintain when a small number of Franks were ruling over a far superior number of Romans. So the Franks made their final decision to act decisively which resulted in their final takeover of the Papacy by putting on the Papal throne their own lackeys from 1012 to 1046 when they permanently got rid of Roman Popes and their curia and became themselves the Pope of Rome and his curia.
However, this New Frankish Papacy began consolidating power in the West by means of the Norman invasion of England 1066. While the Norman Franks were in process of expelling the Roman army from Southern Italy and of helping the Italo-Franks wrest the Papacy from the Franconian emperors, their Duke William of Normandy invaded England with Pope Alexander's blessing in 1066. He had his Lombard friend, the "Blessed Saint" Lanfranc, the pope's teacher, installed as the first non-Roman /Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, and together they replaced all native bishops with Franco-Latins. All Celtic and Saxon bishops and abbots were dismissed en masse and sentenced to prison to die premature deaths by torture and starvation. The new noblemen bishops from the Frankish Empire were in turn killed by the people whenever opportunity presented itself. Indeed the Saxons and Celts celebrated the death of Lanfranc in 1089 by launching their third and most severe revolt against the foreign intruders. The most famous of the Saxon revolutionary leaders against the Normans was Robin Hood. He had become ill and was taken by Little John to a nunnery where someone recognized him. The Norman nun who was curing him by bloodletting converted this cure into an assassination by letting him bleed to death. Little John and his men escaped to Ireland to continue their war against the Normans. That Robin Hood and his men were fighting against bad King John in favor of good King Richard is an interesting and clever fable indeed. In any case such Norman reforms by military might became crusades in both East and West. They ultimately provoked the Protestant Reformation and met with little success among the East Romans and some among the Slavs.
This tradition of killer bishops, clergy and monks was given its near final theological foundation by "Saint" Bernard of Clairvaux in his sermons "De Laude novae militiae ad milites Templi" in which he argues that the religious Knight Templer "who kills for religion commits no evil but rather does good, for his people and himself. If he dies in battle, he gains heaven; if he kills his opponents, he avenges Christ. Either way, God is pleased." Its final form was given by the Inquisition which condemned to death but usually turned executions over to laymen.
Robin Hood — Orthodox Martyr?
The most famous of the Saxon revolutionary leaders against the Normans was Robin Hood. He had become ill and was taken by Little John to a nunnery where someone recognized him. The Norman nun who was curing him by bloodletting converted this cure into an assassination by letting him bleed to death. Little John and his men escaped to Ireland to continue their war against the Normans.
So many Saxons made their way to Constantinople New Rome after the Norman conquest to join the Roman Emperor's Varangian army that they displaced the Scandinavians as the majority. One of the great generals of this Varangian army had been King Harald III Hadrada of Norway (1015-1066). This means that Norway was still Orthodox. He had become the head of the Varangian army under Emperor Zoe (1042-1056). General Harald led his Varangians "to frequent victory in Italy, Sicily and North Africa, also penetrating to Jerusalem. In Italy and Sicily he was fighting Franks and Normans at the time they were getting ready to rid themselves of the facade of Tusculan Roman Popes (1014-1056) in favor of real Franco-Latin Popes. It is very probable that his attention had been turned for some time to the beginnings of the penetration of the Carolingian heresy into Scandinavia which may explain his frequent attempts to subjugate Denmark. In 1064 he gave up this attempt and made peace with Denmark. His invasion of England in 1066 at Eburacum was evidently an attempt to defeat the Pro-Franco-Norman party which was trying to get the upper hand among the Saxons. Evidently it was not only at the instigation of the Pro-Roman Orthodox Saxon Earl of Tostig that he undertook the invasion of England since he also had Orthodox Scots, Irish and Ebor (Yorkshire in Norman) allies who supported his invasion of England.
There can be no doubt that the Orthodox Christians of England knew very well that their Roman Papacy had been struggling against a Frankish takeover in 983-984, in 996-999, in 999-1003 and finally in 1009-1046 when turncoat Tusculanum Romans were forced upon the Papacy by the German Emperors until it became finally Franco-Latin by 1046. It is within this context that the Norman invasion of England took place with the blessings of the Lombard Pope Alexander II (1061-1073).
In any case the Saxon King Harold of West Essex met the Norwegian army at Eburacum (the Norman York) and in the ensuing battle the King of Norway was killed. However, while celebrating his victory Saxon King Harold learned that an Norman army had just landed. Without waiting for his observers to get a good look at this Norman foe, King Harold rushed with his army, fresh from his victory over the Norwegians, to meet the Normans only to be confronted with the new type of heavily armored horse and men. A phenomenon which they had yet not heard of nor could imagine.
William landed on the shores of Britain carrying the papal banner at the head of what was essentially the army of the first Crusade. Francophile Harold was quite stunned when he learned that the Lombard Pope Alexander II had given his papal blessing to William's invasion. He took very little and very poor defensive action in the field at Hastings that day and he and his men were completely crushed.
Surely Norwegian Harald was never aware that he was fighting for a so-called "Greek" or "Byzantine" emperor. He had been living and working for the Roman Empire and its Roman Emperor Zoe knowing that she and her people were Romans. With the battle of Hastings it was the turn of the Saxon, Welsh, Irish and Scot Romans to become the slaves of the Franco-Latin noblemen who were now plundering their land. All these real "Roman Catholic" Christians of England had still been praying in their Churches for the Imperium Romanum whose Roman Emperor and capital were in Constantinople-New Rome which was also the headquarters of the Varangian Army in which their boys were serving.
The name "Greek" for the Eastern part of the Roman empire was inaugurated by Charlemagne in 794, as already noted. But the term "Byzantine" was established by Great Britain, France and Russia as part of their plans to break up and divide up the Ottoman Empire among them. The first plan was evidently drawn up during the meeting between Emperors Napoleon I and Alexander I floating on a raft in the river at Tilsit, Germany in 1806. The core of Napoleon's plan was the liberation of the ancient Hellenes, now called Romans, from both their Roman conquerors and from their Turkish conquerors with one cannon shot. In other words the Neo-Hellenes will end up being slaves from the time they were conquered by the Romans and liberated by the Turks. The very same plan would be multiplied to convert all Balkan peoples who called themselves Romans.
Part of this same plan was to convince Orthodox peasants that the ancient Romans did not speak Greek, like the Romans of Patriarchate of Constantinople, but Latin. Therefore the Church of New Rome cannot be Roman. So it is in reality a Greek Church and nation just like Great Father Charlemagne always said.
In this way the agents of Russia, Britain and France swarmed over the European part of the Ottoman Empire, called the "Land of the Romans" (the Balkans), telling all who for centuries have been calling themselves Romans and getting their education in Greek, that their ethnic enemies are those from the Phanar who also call themselves Romans, but are in reality a bunch of Greeks.
Milutin Tesla was born in Raduc, county Medak, Lika, on February 19 (OS), 1819. The Serbs came to Raduc from around Knin in the 1690s, having arrived there from western Serbia, via Hercegovina. The name Tesla denotes either a trade, as tesla is Serbian for adze - a small axe with a blade at right angles to the handle - or a physical characteristic, such as protruding teeth, prevalent in the Tesla family. The name Tesla is also found in Ukraine.
In Roman times, there was a place near Raduc, called Tesleum. Milutin's father, Nikola, was born in 1789, and during the Napoleonic wars, when Krajina was part of the newly-formed French Province of Illyricum, he was a sergeant in the French army. He married Ana Kalinic, from the family of Colonel Kalinic, who is mentioned in the Raduc military records for 1735 and 1754; sometime after 1815, and the return of the old Austrian order, he moved to Gospic.
Nikola and Ana had two sons: Milutin and Josif, and three daughters: Stanka, Janja, and one whose name has not been remembered. Milutin attended the German-language public school; then, together with his brother, went to the Military Officers' Training School; but the military profession, with its discipline and drills, did not suit him and, following a reprimand for not keeping his brass buttons bright enough, he left, and enrolled into the Orthodox Seminary in Plaski, completing his studies in 1845, as the foremost student in his class. In 1847, Milutin married Djuka Mandic, the 25-year old daughter of priest Nikola Mandic, from Gracac, and was ordained by Bishop Evgenije Jovanovic, who appointed him, first, to be in charge of the church in Stikad, and from there, on April 30, 1847, sent him to Senj on the Adriatic coast.
The young pastor was expected to strengthen the congregation of some forty households, and represent Serbs before the "foreign and Catholic persons." Milutin was paid 200 forints per year, and an additional 40 forints toward a lodging, but these sums were barely enough to make ends meet. Milutin was "a head taller" than his congregation, of pale, serious visage, high cheek bones, sparse beard, and a talented speaker and preacher. For his sermon "On Labour" he was awarded the Red Sash of the Bishop. He was a fine penman, and wrote many letters, some of which have been preserved.
On July 20, 1848, he wrote to the local military commander, Major Froschmeier von Scheibenoch, requesting that he allow Serb soldiers to attend the Orthodox Church services on Sundays: his request was transmitted to the Governor of Croatia in Zagreb for a final decision, and the Commander continued to send all soldiers to the obligatory Roman Catholic mass - "holding our clergy as nothing," noted Milutin Tesla.
Poor material circumstances were compounded by ill health. "It is impossible to preserve one's health here...", he writes to the Bishop. In mid-August 1850, he was so ill, that his brother-in-law, Toma Mandic, came to Senj, to perform his pastoral duties, and stayed for many months in the "stony church perched on a steep cliff."
On Easter Monday, 1852, Milutin responds on the back of the received letter, and adds a post script, "Forgive me, I have no paper." On July 31, of the same year, he writes, "Justice sits on the throne, and law courts are, God forbid, as if we were under the Ottoman Porte..." But, "By God! Nothing is as sacred to me as my church and my forefathers' law and custom, and nothing so precious as liberty, well-being and advancement of my people and my brothers, and for these two, the church and the people, wherever I am, I'll be ready to lay down my life."
In mid-September, 1852, after nearly five-and-a-half years in Senj, Milutin and Djuka put their three small children, and few possessions, in the ox-cart for the 75 kilometre trek over the Dinaric mountains, back to Lika, to their new destination - the pastorage of St. Peter and Paul in Smiljan - the place of sweet basils.
The white church, at the foot of the Bogdanic mountain, beside the Vaganac running brook, was built in 1765, on the foundations of an older church. Beside the church, there was a fine wooden house for the family. The great educator and writer, Dositej Obradovic, had stayed in it twice, and Vuk Karadzic once, in 1838. Smiljan was a large parish and congregation, the priest's plot of land plentiful and fertile, the Tesla and Mandic extended families were close. Milutin's health improved, he subscribed to publications, and began to write articles for the Serbian Diary of Novi Sad, Srbobran in Zagreb, Serbo-Dalmatian magazine in Zadar, signing his name, variously, as "T", "M.T.", "Milutin Tesla, Pastor of the Orthodox Diocese of the Upper Karlovac", "Pastor in Smiljan", and more rarely, under pseudonyms, said to be Rodoljub Srbic and Rodoljub Pravicic.
In 1855, in the Diary, he writes, "Lika is, according to its territory and populace, large, and is made up of only Serbs, or if you like, of Serbs and Croats, of Orthodox and Catholic faith. In Lika, there are more Serbs of Orthodox than of Roman Catholic faith." But he also notes, "Except for the clergy and merchants or tradesmen, here and there, hardly anyone knows how to sign his name in Serbian."
He wanted to build a Serbian-language school in Gospic. In the Diary of March 10, 1857, he writes, "Serbs in Croatia do not have High Schools, preparatory schools, or any other public places of learning. The sons of this poor people are not able to attend distant schools... without any stipends...." But all his efforts to improve the lot of the people were met by a wall of poverty, want of learning, and foreigner's political agenda.
A literate man was not reliable cannon fodder; and fodder was the role reserved for the Krajina Serbs. Milutin had a large library, consisting, not only of clerical books, but also of current belles-lettres in Serbian, Croat, German, Italian and French. He recited verses with ease, and liked to say, in good humour, that if such and such a classic were lost, he would recover it from memory!
His most prized book was the 236-page Sluzbenik, printed in Venice in 1517, by Bozidar Vukovic from Podgorica, a book printer of great craftsmanship. After Milutin's death, Djuka kept the book; after her death, Nikola took it with him to New York, and had it restored; and after Nikola, the book passed into the hands of his nephew, Sava Kosanovic who, in 1950, as Yugoslavia's Ambassador to the United States, presented it to President Truman. This rare "Book of the Serbian Liturgy" is now on display in the Harry Truman's Library in Independence, Missouri.
By 1859, there were five children in the Tesla family: Dane, born in 1848, Angelina in '50, Milka in '52, Nikola in '56 and Marica, born that year. "Our priest has children above all children," the Smiljan Serbs said. The first-born, Dane, in the words of his younger brother, was "gifted to an extraordinary degree."
The Tesla house was a busy place. There were endless visits by parishioners, relatives, passers-by, visiting both Milutin and Djuka, who was a spinner, seamstress and embroideress of renown; blind guslars came, and stayed for days, singing heroic ballads. These were the happy years. Djuka kept the house.
Milutin even indulged in some wit and yielded to small vanities. Nikola wrote the following: "Amongst the help there was a cross-eyed man called Mane... he was chopping wood one day. As he swung the axe, my father cautioned him, 'For God's sake, Mane, do not strike at what you are looking, but at what you intend to hit......'
"On another occasion he was taking out for a drive a friend who carelessly permitted his costly fur coat to rub on the carriage wheel. My father reminded him of it saying, 'Pull in your coat, you are ruining my tire.' He had the odd habit of talking to himself and would often carry on an animated conversation and indulge in heated argument, changing the tone of his voice. A casual listener might have sworn that several people were in the room." He once asked a shephardess, "Whose cows are these?" only to be told, "Father Tesla's."
Another time, Djuka was drying some newly-thrashed wheat, left it unattended, and a cow came and fed on it in part, and scattered the rest. She was upset at this waste of grain, but Milutin said, "Djuka, our cow ate our wheat."
For services Milutin had rendered some Muslims, they gave him an Arab stallion. Milutin rode it when visiting more distant families. The horse was suicidal and easily panicked. On one occasion, startled by wolves, the beast threw Milutin off, and galloped home, but was smart enough to retrace his steps and bring the rescue party to meet the abandoned rider. The 15-year old Dane was in charge of grooming the horse, and one summer day, in 1863, it cost him his life. This is how Nikola described it: "This horse was responsible for my brother's injuries from which he died. I witnessed the tragic scene and although fifty-six years have elapsed since, my visual impression of it has lost none of its force...." Dane was buried in the graveyard, only steps away from the church and the house, and the life of the Tesla family would never be the same. In the face of sudden-fallen hope, and to avoid looking at that fresh grave, the family moved to Gospic, on September 1 of that year, where Milutin would be the pastor of the onion-domed Church of Great Martyr George for the next sixteen years. The seven-year old Nikola served as a bell ringer, mourning the loss of his brother, and of the green pastures and forests of Smiljan.
Milutin looked after his parish work, taught the Orthodox religion in the local schools, wrote less and less, and at a relatively young age, came to be called Old Man Milovan. He was on exceptionally good terms with the local Catholic priest, Kostrencic, and not infrequently, the two pastors would attend each other's liturgy. But watching his now only son, in his timorous awkwardness, guilelessness, extraordinary sensitivity, and ambitions which looked beyond the known and the familiar and did not bode well for a rational or happy life, there was no dance in Milutin's voice. He wanted Nikola to follow a church calling, but Nikola was determined to be a professor, technician, or an electrical engineer. And there was nothing Milutin could do.
Milutin Tesla would not live to see Nikola find his calling and dazzle the world with his inventions. He did not live to see a single grandchild - and there would be ten children of his three daughters - amongst them an Archimandrite, an engineer, a medical doctor, a lawyer, and an Ambassador.
For in late March 1879, he fell ill from some unspecified illness, and died on April 17 (OS), aged 60 years. The next day, Milutin was given a "funeral liturgy fit for a saint", and was buried in the Jasikovac cemetery in Divoselo. When the moment of burial came, the sun came out over the leafless cemetery, as it would burst forth during the funeral service to his son, many years later. Djuka survived Milutin by thirteen years.
The following anecdote is worth repeating. Some time after Milutin's death, a certain priest, Pepo Milojevic, who had wooed Djuka when they were both young, said on meeting her, "Eh, Djuka, if you'd married me, you wouldn't now be a widow." To which Djuka responded, "I would rather be Milutin Tesla's widow than Pepo Milojevic's wife."
There are no surviving sermons of Milutin Tesla. His birth house in Raduc was burnt down in 1941. The Serbian villages in the "Medak pocket" were burnt down in 1993. The Church of St. George the Martyr in Gospic was demolished in 1992. The house and church in Smiljan, extensively renovated in the years after 1863, were burnt down in 1941; rebuilt in the 1980s; partially burnt down and vandalized in 1992; and now stand empty, subject to hate-filled political spinning. 590 Smiljan Serbs were massacred in 1941; and the remainder, said to be only eleven people, were ethnically cleansed in 1995. The little graveyard, where Dane was buried, is overgrown with weeds. The running brook dried up years ago. The closest living descendent of Milutin Tesla is his great-grandson, William Terbo, who is American-born.
For information on Djuka Mandic, see here.
For information on the restoration of Nikola Tesla's birth house and the church in Smiljan, Lika, Croatia, see here.
About the video:
August 08, 2007
The world knows Serb Nikola Tesla as a pioneer of electrical power. His birth-house in Smiljani village was destroyed by Croate tanks.
The crowning irony for war-battered Croatia is that hundreds of villages around Smiljan, his native town have no electricity.
"If Tesla rose from the dead, he wouldn't believe it," said Marija Batinic, 50, who lives near Smiljan and believes the heavily Serb region of central Croatia is being deprived of electricity because of ethnic discrimination.
Croatia's Serbian minority, about 12 percent of the population of 4.5 million before the war, is down to 3 percent, many of them in the villages around Smiljan in central Croatia.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
When northern Greece was taken over by Murad II in 1430, a large Turkish population moved from Asia Minor to Western Thrace. The majority of these Turks professed Bektashism, which is an Islamic Sufi order, considered to be a distinct branch of Twelver Shi'a Islam. It was founded in the 13th century by the Islamic saint Hajji Bektash Wali. In the Balkans the Bektashi order had a considerable impact on the Islamization of many areas, primarily Albania, Greece and Bulgaria, as well as parts of Macedonia. By the 18th century Bektashism began to gain a considerable hold over the population of southern Albania and northern Greece. After the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century, many Christians converted to Bektashism.
Unlike most Muslims who have Mosques, those who follow Bektashism had Tekke or Tekye (تكيه), a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood (tariqa). One such Tekke was the Chapel of the Holy Ascension, otherwise known as Tekke of the Forty (KIRKLAR TEKESSI), which was built in the 15th century. This chapel is located in Margariti (Μαργαρίτι), a settlement in the Xanthi prefecture of Greece. The Bektashi celebrated the feast of this Tekke forty days after the feast of St. George, which normally falls after Pascha and whom Muslims also honor.
When the exchange of populations took place between Greece and Turkey in August 1924, the Bektashi population went back to Turkey and Pontian Greeks slowly began to settle in the area. As the Bektashi were leaving, they informed the new settlers of their Tekke which they considered a holy shrine and told them of their customs and of how they celebrated its feast forty days after Pascha, which for Christians was the feast of the Holy Ascension. They were also told of the miracles that took place there from some holy water that flowed there, which it is thought dates back to a time before the Tekke when it must have been a Christian shrine. The Tekke was renamed and now bears the inscription ΘΑΥΜΑΤΟΥΡΓΟΣ ΝΑΟΣ ΑΝΑΛΗΨΙΣ ΤΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ (Miraculous Temple of the Ascension of the Savior).
Today people travel to this holy shrine and numerous healings are reported through the holy water which springs froth from the site. Because it is difficult to walk to the chapel, services today for the feast of the Holy Ascension are held in a church that was built 300 meters away to accomadate the elderly.
Clement of Alexandria tells of a horrible custom among the barbarians. He says that when they capture their enemy, they tie him alive to the corpse of a dead man, and leave them both alone that the living and dead decay together. If only it could be said: "Thank God, that this barbarian custom is past!" In essence, it has not passed, rather, it reigns today in full force. Everyone who ties their living spirit to the flesh deadened by barbarian passions is the same as the one who ties a living man to a corpse and leaves them both to decay.
- St. Nikolai Velimirovich
by V. Rev. George Florovsky, D.D.
"I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God, and Your God" (John 20:17).
In these words the Risen Christ described to Mary Magdalene the mystery of His Resurrection. She had to carry this mysterious message to His disciples, "as they mourned and wept" (Mark 16:10). The disciples listened to these glad tidings with fear and amazement, with doubt and mistrust. It was not Thomas alone who doubted among the Eleven. On the contrary, it appears that only one of the Eleven did not doubt - St John, the disciple "whom Jesus loved." He alone grasped the mystery of the empty tomb at once: "and he saw, and believed" (John 20:8). Even Peter left the sepulcher in amazement, "wondering at that which was come to pass" (Luke 24:12).
The disciples did not expect the Resurrection. The women did not, either. They were quite certain that Jesus was dead and rested in the grave, and they went to the place "where He was laid," with the spices they had prepared, "that they might come and anoint Him." They had but one thought: "Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulcher for us?" (Mark 16:1-3; Luke 24:1). And therefore, on not finding the body, Mary Magdalene was sorrowful and complained: "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him' (John 20:13). On hearing the good news from the angel, the women fled from the sepulchre in fear and trembling: "Neither said they anything to any man, for they were afraid" (Mark 16:8). And when they spoke no one believed them, in the same way as no one 'had believed Mary, who saw the Lord, or the disciples as they walked on their way into the country, (Mark 16:13), and who recognized Him in the breaking of bread. "And afterward He appeared unto the Eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them who had seen Him after He was risen' (Mark 16:1O-14).
From whence comes this "hardness of heart" and hesitation? Why were their eyes so "holden," why were the disciples so much afraid of the news, and why did the Easter joy so slowly, and with such difficulty, enter the Apostles' hearts? Did not they, who were with Him from the beginning, "from the baptism of John," see all the signs of power which He performed before the face of the whole people? The lame walked, the blind saw, the dead were raised, and all infirmities were healed. Did they not behold, only a week earlier, how He raised by His word Lazarus from the dead, who had already been in the grave for four days? Why then was it so strange to them that the Master had arisen Himself? How was it that they came to forget that which the Lord used to tell them on many occasions, that after suffering and death He would arise on the third day?
The mystery of the Apostles' "unbelief" is partly disclosed in the narrative of the Gospel: "But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel," with disillusionment and complaint said the two disciples to their mysterious Companion on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:21). They meant: He was betrayed, condemned to death and crucified. The news of the Resurrection brought by the women only "astonished" them. They still wait for an earthly triumph, for an external victory. The same temptation possesses their hearts, which first prevented them from accepting "the preaching of the Cross" and made them argue every time the Saviour tried to reveal His mystery to them. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" (Luke 24:26). It was still difficult to understand this.
He had the power to arise, why did He allow what that had happened to take place at all? Why did He take upon Himself disgrace, blasphemy and wounds? In the eyes of all Jerusalem, amidst the vast crowds assembled for the Great Feast, He was condemned and suffered a shameful death. And now He enters not into the Holy City, neither to the people which beheld His shame and death, nor to the High Priests and elders, nor to Pilate - so that He might make their crime obvious and smite their pride. Instead, He sends His disciples away to remote Galilee and appears to them there. Even much earlier the disciples wondered, "How is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" (John 14:22). Their wonder continues, and even on the day of His glorious Ascension the Apostles question the Lord, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). They still did not comprehend the meaning of His Resurrection, they did not understand what it meant that He was "ascending" to the Father. Their eyes were opened but later, when "the promise of the Father" had been fulfilled.
In the Ascension resides the meaning and the fullness of Christ's Resurrection.
The Lord did not rise in order to return again to the fleshly order of life, so as to live again and commune with the disciples and the multitudes by means of preaching and miracles. Now he does not even stay with them, but only "appears" to them during the forty days, from time to time, and always in a miraculous and mysterious manner. "He was not always with them now, as He was before the Resurrection," comments St John Chrysostom. "He came and again disappeared, thus leading them on to higher conceptions. He no longer permitted them to continue in their former relationship toward Him, but took effectual measures to secure these two objects: That the fact of His Resurrection should be believed, and that He Himself should be ever after apprehended to be greater than man." There was something new and unusual in His person (cf. John 21:1-14). As St John Chrysostom says, "It was not an open presence, but a certain testimony of the fact that He was present." That is why the disciples were confused and frightened. Christ arose not in the same way as those who were restored to life before Him. Theirs was a resurrection for a time, and they returned to life in the same body, which was subject to death and corruption - returned to the previous mode of life. But Christ arose for ever, unto eternity. He arose in a body of glory, immortal and incorruptible. He arose, never to die, for "He clothed the mortal in the splendor of incorruption." His glorified Body was already exempt from the fleshly order of existence. "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" (I Cor. 15:42-44). This mysterious transformation of human bodies, of which St Paul was speaking in the case of our Lord, had been accomplished in three days. Christ's work on earth was accomplished. He had suffered, was dead and buried, and now rose to a higher mode of existence. By His Resurrection He abolished and destroyed death, abolished the law of corruption, "and raised with Himself the whole race of Adam." Christ has risen, and now "no dead are left in the grave" (cf. The Easter Sermon of St John Chrysostom). And now He ascends to the Father, yet He does not "go away," but abides with the faithful for ever (cf. The Kontakion of Ascension). For He raises the very earth with Him to heaven, and even higher than any heaven. God's power, in the phrase of St John Chrysostom, "manifests itself not only in the Resurrection, but in something much stronger." For "He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19).
And with Christ, man's nature ascends also.
"We who seemed unworthy of the earth, are now raised to heaven," says St John Chrysostom. "We who were unworthy of earthly dominion have been raised to the Kingdom on high, have ascended higher than heaven, have came to occupy the King's throne, and the same nature from which the angels guarded Paradise, stopped not until it ascended to the throne of the Lord." By His Ascension the Lord not only opened to man the entrance to heaven, not only appeared before the face of God on our behalf and for our sake, but likewise "transferred man" to the high places. "He honored them He loved by putting them close to the Father." God quickened and raised us together with Christ, as St Paul says, "and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephes. 2:6). Heaven received the inhabitants of the earth. "The First fruits of them that slept" sits now on high, and in Him all creation is summed up and bound together. "The earth rejoices in mystery, and the heavens are filled with joy."
"The terrible ascent...." Terror-stricken and trembling stand the angelic hosts, contemplating the Ascension of Christ. And trembling they ask each other, "What is this vision? One who is man in appearance ascends in His body higher than the heavens, as God."
Thus the Office for the Feast of the Ascension depicts the mystery in a poetical language. As on the day of Christ's Nativity the earth was astonished on beholding God in the flesh, so now the Heavens do tremble and cry out. "The Lord of Hosts, Who reigns over all, Who is Himself the head 'Of all, Who is preeminent in all things, Who has reinstated creation in its former order - He is the King of Glory." And the heavenly doors are opened: "Open, Oh heavenly gates, and receive God in the flesh." It is an open allusion to Psalms 24:7-10, now prophetically interpreted. "Lift up your heads, Oh ye gates, and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty...." St Chrysostom says, "Now the angels have received that for which they have long waited, the archangels see that for which they have long thirsted. They have seen our nature shining on the King's throne, glistening with glory and eternal beauty.... Therefore they descend in order to see the unusual and marvelous vision: Man appearing in heaven."
The Ascension is the token of Pentecost, the sign of its coming, "The Lord has ascended to heaven and will send the Comforter to the world'
For the Holy Spirit was not yet in the world, until Jesus was glorified. And the Lord Himself told the disciples, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" (John 16:7). The gifts of the Spirit are "gifts of reconciliation," a seal of an accomplished salvation and of the ultimate reunion of the world with God. And this was accomplished only in the Ascension. "And one saw miracles follow miracles," says St John Chrysostom, "ten days prior to this our nature ascended to the King's throne, while today the Holy Ghost has descended on to our nature." The joy of the Ascension lies in the promise of the Spirit.' "Thou didst give joy to Thy disciples by a promise of the Holy Spirit." The victory of Christ is wrought in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
"On high is His body, here below with us is His Spirit. And so we have His token on high, that is His body, which He received from us, and here below we have His Spirit with us. Heaven received the Holy Body, and the earth accepted the Holy Spirit. Christ came and sent the Spirit. He ascended, and with Him our body ascended also" St John Chrysostom). The revelation of the Holy Trinity was completed. Now the Spirit Comforter is poured forth on all flesh. "Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, ,the being made God!" (St Basil, On the Holy Spirit, IX). Beginning with the Apostles, and through communion with them - by an unbroken succession - Grace is spread to all believers. Through renewal and glorification in the Ascended Christ, man's nature became receptive of the spirit. "And unto the world He gives quickening forces through His human body," says Bishop Theophanes. "He holds it completely in Himself and penetrates it with His strength, out of Himself; and He likewise draws the angels to Himself through the spirit of man, giving them space for action and thus making them blessed." All this is done through the Church, which is "the Body of Christ;" that is, His "fullness" (Ephesians 1:23). "The Church is the fulfillment of Christ," continues Bishop Theophanes, "perhaps in the same way as the tree is the fulfillment of the seed. That which is contained in the seed in a contracted form receives its development in the tree."
The very existence of the Church is the fruit of the Ascension. It is in the Church that man's nature is truly ascended to the Divine heights. "And gave Him to be Head over all things" (Ephesians 1:22). St John Chrysostom comments: "Amazing! Look again, whither He has raised the Church. As though He were lifting it up by some engine, He has raised it up to a vast height, and set it on yonder throne; for where the Head is, there is the body also. There is no interval of separation between the Head and the body; for were there a separation, then would the one no longer be a body, nor would the other any longer be a Head." The whole race of men is to follow Christ, even in His ultimate exaltation, "to follow in His train." Within the Church, through an acquisition of the Spirit in the fellowship of Sacraments, the Ascension continues still, and will continue until the measure is full. "Only then shall the Head be filled up, when the body is rendered perfect, when we are knit together and united," concludes St John Chrysostom.
The Ascension is a sign and token of the Second Coming. "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
The mystery of God's Providence will be accomplished in the Return of the Risen Lord. In the fulfillment of time, Christ's kingly power will be revealed and spread over the whole of faithful mankind. Christ bequeathes the Kingdom to the whole of the faithful. "And I appoint unto you a Kingdom as My Father has appointed unto me. That ye may eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30). Those who followed Him faithfully will sit with Him on their thrones on the day of His coming. "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). Salvation will be consummated in the Glory. "Conceive to yourself the throne, the royal throne, conceive the immensity of the privilege. This, at least if we chose, might more avail to startle us, yea, even than hell itself" (St John Chrysostom).
We should tremble more at the thought of that abundant Glory which is appointed unto the redeemed, than at the thought of the eternal darkness. "Think near Whom Thy Head is seated...." Or rather, Who is the Head. In very truth, "wondrous and terrible is Thy divine ascension from the mountain, 0 Giver of Life." A terrible and wondrous height is the King's throne. In face of this height all flesh stands silent, in awe and trembling. "He has Himself descended to the lowest depths of humiliation, and raised up man to the height of exaltation."
What then should we do? "If thou art the body of Christ, bear the Cross, for He bore it" (St John Chrysostom).
"With the power of Thy Cross, Oh Christ, establish my thoughts, so that I may sing and glorify Thy saving Ascension."
Originally published in St Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly, Vol. 2 # 3, 1954.
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
"Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, My servant" (Jeremiah 25:9).
Is not this a difficult saying? Who can be fed by it? The pagan king, the idolatrous king, the Lord call him His servant. If the servant of God is one who knows the True God and who adheres to the law of God, how then can one be a servant of God who does not know the True God and who does not adhere to the law of God? Truly, the true servant of God is he who knows the True God and who keeps the law of God but when he, to whom God has given the knowledge about Himself and His law, perverts knowing into unknowing and law into lawlessness, then God takes as His servant that ignorant one so as to punish the apostates. For an apostate from God is worse than a pagan, and an apostate from the law of God is lower than an idolater by birth.
Therefore, when Israel, as the ancient Church of God, alienated itself from God and the law of God, God chose Nebuchadrezzar for His servant to punish Israel, the Apostate.
Therefore, when the Christian peoples in Asia and Africa through numerous heresies alienated themselves from God, God took as His servant the Arabs to punish Christians in order to bring them to their senses.
And when the Christian peoples in the Balkans alienated themselves from God and God's law, God invited the Turks as His servants to punish the apostates that by punishment to bring them to their senses.
Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the faithful consciously and willingly turn away from God, so the unbelievers unconsciously and unwillingly become servants of God; the whip of God.
But God takes the unbelievers only temporarily in His service against the believers. For the land of Nebuchadrezzar, the same Lord says, He will visit it for its lawlessness and "make it perpetual desolations" (Jeremiah 25:12), then will a servant against a servant be found? For God did not take the Babylonians for a servant because of their goodness and faith, rather because of Israel's wickedness and unbelief.
O Righteous Lord, help us by Your Spirit Most-high, to always adhere to You, the One, True God and Your saving law.
Georgian monks began to settle on Mt. Athos in the middle of the 10th century, and a Georgian monastery, Iveron, was founded there not long after.
At that time foreign armies were constantly invading Mt. Athos. In the 13th century the Crusaders stormed through the region, and between 1259 and 1306 the pope’s private army devastated Mt. Athos several times. Monks of Zographou and Vatopedi monasteries and the Protaton were martyred for the Orthodox Faith, and the monks of the Iveron Monastery eventually met the same fate.
During this period Georgian and Greek ascetics labored together at the Iveron Monastery, and many young ascetics of the new generation began to arrive from Georgia.
The Crusaders demanded that the Iveron monks convert to Catholicism and acknowledge the primacy of the Roman pope. But the monks condemned their fallacies and anathematized the doctrine of the Catholics.
According to the Patericon of Athos, the Iveron monks were forcibly expelled from their monastery. Nearly two hundred elderly monks were goaded like animals onto a ship that was subsequently sunk in the depths of the sea. The younger, healthier monks were deported to Italy and sold as slaves to the Jews.
Some sources claim this tragedy took place in the year 1259, while others record that the Georgian monks of the Holy Mountain were subject to the Latin persecutions over the course of four years, from 1276 to 1280.
From the Description on Youtube:
Liquid Mountaineering is a new sport which is attempting to achieve what man has tried to do for centuries: walk on water. Or to be more precise: running on water. We are developing the sport from scratch. By accident we found out that with the right water repellent equipment you can run across bodies of water, just like a stone skimming the surface.
by Elder Paisios the Athonite
I remember an elderly monk at Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos, who was so simple, that he thought "Ascension" was the name of a women Saint. He prayed to her on his komboschoini, "Saint of God, intercede for us!" Once, he had to feed a sick Brother in the infirmary and had nothing to offer him. He immediately went down the stairs, opened a window overlooking the sea, stretched his arms out and said, "Ascension, my Saint, give me a little fish for the Brother." And right away, as if by miracle, a big fish jumped out of the sea and into his hands. The others who saw him were astonished, but he simply looked at them smiling, as if he were saying "What's so strange about what you've just seen?" And then look at us. We may know everything about the life and martyrdom of the Saints, or about when and how the Ascension took place and yet, we cannot even catch a tiny little fish! These are the strange and paradoxical things of the spiritual life, which the reasoning of those intellectuals that are centred on themselves and not on God, cannot explain, because their knowledge is of this world and sterile; their spirit is ill with secularism and their mind void of the Holy Spirit.
- Source: From Spiritual Counsels, Volume 1: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos (Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologion", 2006), p. 230
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Kalamata is known by the name Ypapanti tou Sotiros, or Presentation of the Savior. It is one of the largest Cathedrals of Messinia and was built in 1839 and consecrated in 1873. The layout is a traditional Byzantine style and it houses within the ancient and miraculous icon of the Panagia. It celebrates annually on February 2, which is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord into the Temple. It also celebrates on the Apodosis of Pascha, which is a moveable feast day celebrated the day prior to the Holy Ascension. It was on the Apodosis of Pascha that the wonderworking icon was discovered. The Panagia Ypapanti is the Protectress of the City of Kalamata.
The icon of the Theotokos, dated to 672 AD, was found in a stable of an Ottoman during the Turkish occupation, after a stable-man had a vision. Even though the back of the icon board was entirely burned, the front was perfectly intact. It bore the name "Ypapanti", and probably belonged to a Church of the Presentation of the Savior which had been in Kalamata centuries before the Turkish occupation. The church must have burned down, which is why the icon was burned in the back. The front must have been preserved by the protection of the Holy Virgin. On the land in which the icon was discovered, a small church was initially built to honor the Presentation of the Lord and to house this icon. It was figured also that the stable had been the church that had once burned, which is why they chose the same spot to rebuild the church. The Metropolitan Cathedral was not built until Greece became free of Ottoman domination, and on 19 August 1873 it was consecrated.
The icon of Panagia Ypapanti is not only venerated by the residents of Kalamata, but extends throughout all of Greece, and thousands flock to this Cathedral for its feast day and receive miraculous intervention through the Theotokos and her wonderworking icon. One example of its miraculous powers dates to 1841 when the entire population of Kalamata was saved from certain annihilation. In the initial months of Autumn that year, a mysterious illness befell what seemed the entire population of Kalamata. Even the doctors sent to treat the ill caught the disease. Death became such a regular vision in the city that the bells of the churches were ringing hourly informing everyone of the death of another victim. Daily there were burials as well, and sadness permeated throughout Kalamata. When all hope was lost, the people placed their hope in the Panagia and decided to hold a litany throughout the city lead by the Panagia Ypapanti icon. It was hoped that the Panagia would lift this plague from the people and save them from certain death. Those who oversaw the governance of the city then ordered all the residents to undertake a three-day fast, after which they were to attend a Paraklisi (Supplication) Service to the Panagia as well as the litany which was to follow. To the glory of God and the Holy Virgin, during the litany itself the plague began to lift from Kalamata and the city was saved from certain annihilation.
During the earthquakes of 1886 and 1986 the center dome of the church was destroyed, but reconstructed according to the original plans.
Pilgrims can visit the church during the day any day. Also, every evening the bells of the Cathedral ring calling everyone to the local cemetery to light the oil-lamps over the graves of their loved ones, leaving the cemetery bright throughout the night.
The Greek Synaxarion
Information On Various Litanies of the Icon in the 20th Century
The Visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Cathedral in Kalamata in 2010
Ancient Icons Bricked-Up By Soviets Discovered on Moscow Kremlin Towers
May 11, 2010
Ancient gate icons that were bricked-up in the Soviet era and considered lost, have been discovered on two of the towers of the Moscow Kremlin, the initiator of a campaign to unveil the icons said on Tuesday.
Historical documents and structural markings, which can be seen from the outside of the Spasskaya, Nikolskaya, Kutafia and Konstantino-Yeleninskaya towers, and from the inside of the Spaskaya, Troitskaya and Borovitskaya towers, prove the icons were once placed above the gates of the towers.
The campaign to unveil the icons, which was initiated by the St. Andrew the Apostle Fund and supported by then Russian president Vladimir Putin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, began in 2007.
Head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin, who heads the fund's board of trustees, said on Tuesday the icons had been discovered on the walls of the Spasskaya and the Nikolskaya towers.
"The main objective of our work is to ensure that the historic image of the Kremlin is restored and the pieces of the spiritual heritage of our people return to the Kremlin towers and to our lives," Yakunin said.
He said the work to unveil the icons had been carried out on the Spasskaya and the Nikolskaya towers first because experts believed it most likely the icons there would be preserved under a layer of plaster. He said there were no documents to suggest that the icons have been destroyed.
Yakunin said work to unveil the icons would begin later in May and expressed hope that it would be concluded by late August.
Historical documents say that a fresco that is expected to be uncovered on the wall of the Nikolskaya tower dates back to the late 15th to early 16th century.
Director of the Kremlin museums Yelena Gagarina said the icons could have been bricked-up in 1937, during celebrations dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Soviet state.
The Soviet authorities waged a fierce war against the practice of religion, destroying churches across the country and harshly repressing believers.
Walled-In Icons Discovered On the Kremlin Towers
Moscow, 12 May 2010, Interfax - Ancient icons were discovered on the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers of the Kremlin. They were walled in during Soviet times and have been deemed lost for a long time now.
"The fact is that the icons were discovered at least on two towers (of the Kremlin - IF). This is an epoch-making event as far as cultural discoveries are concerned," head of the Council of Trustees of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation Vladimir Yakunin said at a press conference held by Interfax.
He stated that the Foundation had initiated the reinstallation of icons over the gates of the Moscow Kremlin towers as far back as in 2007. The project received the government support and the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. In April 2010, experts of the Interregional Scientific and Restoration Office made probes of the icon-cases of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers. The research has confirmed the hypothesis that the icons were preserved under the layer of plaster.
According to him, the Fund's project "is not limited to these two towers only; the thing is that historians had more reasons to suggest that the icons of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers were preserved."
Head of the Kremlin supervisory service, deputy director of the Federal Guard Service Sergey Khlebnikov believes that the discovery of the icons on the Kremlin towers is "the event of overwhelming ethical impact."
According to him, the Kremlin commandant's office has received many proposals to restore the icons over the gates, but the Foundation's initiative "had a clear distinction of being specific."
According to the existing historical materials, the Spasskaya Tower houses the icon of the Savior depicted with St. Sergius and St. Varlaam falling down at His feet. The icon was painted to commemorate the rescue from the siege of Moscow by the army of Magmet Girey in 1521. The mural on the Nikolskaya Tower dates back to the late 15th - early 16th centuries. During the civil fights in October 1917, the icon of St. Nikolas of Mozhaysk was riddled with shots, but his face escaped unharmed which the Moscow believers considered a miracle.
Icons On the Kremlin Towers Concealed in USSR For Years Probably Saved Soviet Leaders From Numerous Misfortunes, a Priest Believes
Moscow, 12 May 2010, Interfax –The Russian Orthodox Church official believes it a true miracle that ancient icons were discovered on the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers of the Kremlin by efforts of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation.
"I admire heroism of people who managed to save these icons. The thing they did is a true man-made miracle," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion.
According to him, "holy icons walled-in from human eyes were present in Red Square" for decades of the Soviet rule, "Soviet leaders passed beneath them, parades and demonstrations took place in their presence."
"Who knows, perhaps only thanks to this, the Kremlin and Red Square workers were saved from numerous misfortunes and, above all, from madness ideology of that time could have easily led to," the priest said.
The most important work of St. Epiphanios is his Panarion. It treats 80 religious sects, either organized groups or philosophies, from the time of Adam to the latter part of the fourth century, detailing their histories, and rebutting their beliefs.
The number of sects covered in the work is based on Song of Songs 6:8-9, "There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and maidens without number. My dove, my undefiled, is but one." Epiphanios interpreted the fourscore (80) concubines as sects, who take the name of Christ without being truly matrimonial; the threescore queens as the generations from Adam to Jesus; the one dove as the true wife, the church; and the numberless virgins as all the philosophies unrelated to Christianity.
The first section of the first of the three books contains an account of 20 heretical sects before the time of Jesus; the remaining portion is occupied with the description of 60 sects of Christianity. However, the total number of sects is actually 77, because three of the first 20 are general names: Hellenism, Samaritanism, and Judaism. In the editions of the Panarion, each heresy is numbered in order; hence it is customary to quote the Panarion as follows: Epiphanius, Haer. N [the number of the heresy].
by Archbishop Irenaios of Crete (Delivered on Pascha 2010)
My beloved brethren, children of the Church, Pascha is today. Pascha is also this year. Our Bright day. The Resurrection. Our Feast Day. “The Pascha of the Greeks.” The true Pascha, the eternal one. The source of light, and splendor during difficult times for all the peoples of the earth and each of us individually as a person.
Today we celebrate the overcoming of evil, of unrighteousness, of hatred, of slavery to death. Today the darkness surrenders its place to the light and splendor of the human person. Today all the people have the capability to be illumined with the splendor of Pascha.
Today’s Paschal feast is an invitation and prompting for us to be illumined: the person, our life, the whole world, everyone, all peoples.
“It is the day of Resurrection, let us be illumined O people, Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha...”
My beloved brethren,
Today our Church, with this hymn we referred to, invites all the nations and all of us to be illumined. We should flee from the darkness and the gloom of our times, and we should go, we should enter into the Light of the Resurrection, the glory and splendor of mankind and the world. The Resurrected Christ our Lord shines and illumines everyone.
We have no other options, no other margins. Today, we do not have another option, another alternative.
How and where can we find today the joy and the splendor of the person, of our life? How can our face be illumined and brightened? Where can we be sustained? Towards where are we to go? There are so many dead ends, dilemmas, and problems of mankind today.
Many say, they propose and prefer to turn to money, wealth, gain, business ventures, the stock market and prosperity. They have undertaken them. This is the status quo today. The capital, money, is running, it is galloping. It goes everywhere with multinational Companies of contemporary “marketing”.
Notwithstanding, today’s world economic crisis affects everyone. It troubles, threatens and frightens everyone, even the wealthy, who live themselves with uncertainty and insecurity. And like the poor and unemployed of the world, who are threatened and suffer even more; they are brought to despair and find themselves in a difficult situation.
Others propose the easy-going life, comforts and fun times. The easy way. The easy life. All of us know that many people today travel along this path. Temporarily and for a period they are themselves content and see themselves as lucky.
However the boredom, the inactivity, the loneliness, the emptiness of life, the monotony, the illnesses, the daily monotony, the routine without creativity and effectiveness for life, it is an unbearable burden and weight; downright unfortunate.
There is also, besides the other things, contemporary technology. An important gift and valuable. Small and great are under the spell of the machine, the electronic medium, everything of a technological and mechanical nature. We have today a deification of machines. Dependence and enslavement are dangerous phenomena, a waste of humanity, and a change and an annulment of personal gifts and talents belonging to mankind.
These contemporary ways of life and trends of people today, they do not seem to be human ways. The are contemporary mediums of our own age, the features and characteristics of it. We revere them, but today’s man cannot expect illumination and personal joy from all these things.
My beloved brethren,
Our Church, which is not against our age and today’s achievements of mankind, invites us to other ways, another life. To the life of the illumination of the Resurrection, of blessed Resurrected life.
The living out of the Resurrection in our daily lives. A life of brilliant quality and humanity. A life without economic crisis', insecurities and uncertainties. A true life, everlasting!
Together with our Church, I personally invite you today to this brilliant, resurrection life of our Resurrected Christ.
The invitation of the Church and my own, is primarily aimed at our children, the smallest and the greatest. To all their families. To our schools, our teachers, to the spiritual people of our Land. To the people of the countryside and the city. To the healthy and strong, as well as to the sick and weak, everyone. Let us be illumined, let us move forward, let us become enlightened with the light and splendor of the Resurrection.