The video above is about Fr. Vasilios, a monk on Mount Athos who was once a championship wrestler. He wrestled for five years and won about a dozen medals before he abandoned all at the age of 24 in 1992 to become an ascetic on Mount Athos. When asked why he became an ascetic, he responds by saying: "First for the love of God, and after for the love of the Panagia." When asked if he found what he was looking for, he responds: "I found it and much more. I didn't realize I would find such things at such a high level. I had lower expectations."
He goes on to say that his father had passed away in 1987 and his mother accepted his decision. After a year and a half he was joined by his brother, Fr. Dorotheos. They reside in the Hesychastic Cell of the Birth of Christ in Katounakia.
When Fr. Vasilios' godmother gave him as a gift an engagement ring for him to one day give his bride, he decided to give it to the Panagia when he became a monastic. "It was better to give it to my Bridegroom Christ, and my mother the Panagia rather than a woman of the flesh", he said.
The commentary on the video is typical Greek secular sarcasm when confronted with these issues. For a video without the commentary, see below:
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Almost every special you see on TV regarding the history of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO's) inevitably cites Orthodox icons as proof that the Romans at least believed in UFO's or alien spacecraft. Of course, for everyone that knows the basic method of intepretating Orthodox icons, this is clearly not the case and is a total misrepresentation of the basic interpretation of Byzantine iconography.
For example, the icon shown in the video above from Decani Monastery of the Crucifixion of Christ does not depict alien spacecraft, but personifications of the sun and the moon. Ancient art, especially Greek and Roman, often personified such things as water, the sun, the moon, the earth, the planets, virtues, vices, and other such things. This is because in languages like Greek they take on either a feminine or masculine name. For example, the Greek word for sun is masculine and the word for earth is feminine; in iconography they would thus be depicted as male for the former and female for the latter. Regarding the icon of the Crucifixion, when the Gospels say the sun was darkened at the Crucifixion of Jesus, in Greek it thus reads as if the sun is a male person who hid its light, and in this way it is depicted.
Are there any traces of UFO's in Orthodox iconography? The answer is emphatically NO! Everything cited by paranormal "experts" as depictions of UFO's in icons is bogus and based on unwarranted ignorance. It goes back to the hugely successful book Chariots of the Gods written in 1968 by Erich von Däniken.
The image of Christ "in another form" is a fresco by Manuel Panselinos (late 13th century) in the apse of the Prothesis of the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos of Protaton "the mother of all athonite churches", in Karyes of Mount Athos.
The icon indeed bears an image quite different from other images of Christ in traditional Byzantine iconography. Despite signs of wear due to time, the image is very impressive. The head of the Lord is surrounded by a large halo-shaped Cross, His shoulders are broad, His hair lush and styled, and His eyes are piercing. Panselinos illumines the face with a bright red color to show a transforming in his form.
What is the source for such an image? Luke 24:13-33 relates the story of Christ's appearance to two men on the road to Emmaus. As the two men were talking about the events of Christ's crucifixion, we read: "As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him." And towards the end of the conversation, as they broke bread and Jesus handed them a piece, it says: "Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight."
This image therefore is the resurrected Christ as He appeared on the road to Emmaus, "in another form".
The purpose of these articles was to explain to our faithful, in a simple and easily-understood manner, some of the differences that exist between the Old Testament (Masoretic) text used by most of today’s Roman Catholics and Protestants and the Septuagint Old Testament used by Orthodox Christians since the time of Christ. All told, there are some 300 textual differences between the Masoretic and the Septuagint texts, some of them important and some of them insignificant. These articles will explain why Orthodox Christians prefer the Septuagint, despite some admittedly beautiful and eloquent passages found in the Masoretic text. The articles by Metropolitan Ephraim were originally published on the internet in the Spring of 2009, and they appear here in a slightly edited and augmented form.
1. HONOUR THE PHYSICIAN
In the Wisdom of Sirach, it says:
“Honour the physician with the honour due unto himfor the uses ye may have of him: for the Lord created him…The skill of the physician shall lift up his head, and inthe sight of great men he shall be in admiration. The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth, and he that is wise will not abhor them…And the Lord hath given men skill, that He might be honoured in His marvelous works. With such doth [the physician] heal men, and taketh away their pains. Of such doth the apothecary make a confection; and of his works there is no end; and from him is peace over allthe earth” (Wisdom of Sirach 38:1-8).
When I was a little boy of about seven or eight years of age back in California, one of my playmates [who was Protestant] asked me if I wanted to come over to his house that night for a Bible class. Since my mother often read me Bible stories, and I liked them, I was very much inclined to go to my friend’s house that evening. But first, I had to get Mom’s permission. Faster than it can be told, I ran home to get Mom’s okay. She listened as I recounted my buddy’s invitation, and she could see that I was obviously excited about it. Then she nodded her head in a negative way, and said, “No, I don’t think so. You see, son, they don’t use the same Bible we do.” “Awww, nuts! Come on, Ma! It’ll be okay!” I persisted. “No, I don’t think it will be okay. I’ll buy you a book with some Bible stories,” she concluded, firmly holding her ground.
I stomped out the back door, sulking and thinking to myself, “She only said that they don’t have the same Bible we do because she doesn’t want me to go to the Bible class.”
But Mom was right.
She was a simple woman. She had not had much of an education, but she was sharp as a tack [she had to be: she had given birth to seven male rapscallions, and it was only by expending desperate and superhuman efforts that she was able to prevent two of them, especially, from disrupting the entire neighborhood. She used to tell me, “If you had been a jackass when you were young, you would have died from the beatings you got!”] However, to return to the main thrust of our story.
She was right, of course, about the non-Orthodox having a different Bible. By the word “different,” she could have meant two things: 1] the actual books in the non-Orthodox Scriptures are different from those that we have in our Scriptures [true]; or 2] the Protestants and Roman Catholics interpret the books of the Holy Scripture differently than we do [also true]. The quotation that was used at the beginning of this article is a case in point. The Wisdom of Sirach [or Ecclesiasticus] is not found in the Protestant Bible, and the Roman Catholics call it “deuterocanonical,” [whatever that is]. The odd thing, however, is that, in our Saviour’s time, the Jewish people honored these texts as “Holy Scripture.” Proof of this are the many quotations from these holy books that can be found in the New Testament. Furthermore, if the Protestants had not rejected so many books of the Holy Scriptures, there might well have never arisen among them such strange nineteenth century sects as the so-called Christian Scientists, who, as we know, reject the use of human medicine — often with disastrous results.
After all, as clear as a bell, the Wisdom of Sirach teaches us:
“Honour the physician with the honour due unto him for the uses ye may have of him: for the Lord created him….”
There are other valuable teachings in these holy books, as well. For example, there is one prophetic text that, in less than fifty words, sums up the entire purpose of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In one sentence, in fact, it answers the question: why did God become man? This wonderful text is in the book, the Wisdom of Solomon, and in the clearest possible terms it tells us:
"While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her swift course, Thine almighty Word leaped out of Heaven out of Thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war, into the midst of a land of destruction." (Wisdom of Solomon, 18:14-15)
We do, indeed, have a very different Bible from our non-Orthodox Christian friends.
2. THE NEUTRALIZATION OF THE NETHERWORLD
"Isn't that what Adolph Hitler did to Holland in World War II?" This, indeed, is the sort of reaction you might expect to get if you were speaking to someone about the "neutralization of the Netherworld." He really wouldn't know what you were talking about. On the other hand, if you were to refer to it as the "Harrowing of Hell," people might or might not understand. Orthodox Christians know it as the "Descent into Hades." Most "Bible-believing" Americans nowadays, however ― even those living in the so-called Bible Belt ― would probably look at you quizzically if you were to mention it ―despite the fact that it is cited in the Holy Scriptures (I Peter 3:18-20).
Indeed, this is what happened on one occasion at our monastery in Boston. Perhaps thirty or so years ago, a Protestant minister and his wife were visiting the monastery and I was assigned to give them "the tour." We had seen the workshops, the refectory, the chapel and finally came to the area where the icons were on display, and I was telling the couple that the monastery was self-supporting. "One of the ways we support our monastery is by producing and selling these icons," I explained to them. They knew about the traditional use of the holy icons in the Orthodox Church, so they were somewhat familiar with what they were seeing. Since it was the Paschal season, the icon of the Descent into Hades was in a prominent place of honor on the analogion and, therefore, caught the eye of the minister's wife. "Oh, what is that icon?" she asked. "That depicts our Saviour's Descent into Hades," I responded.
"What's that all about?" she asked, incredulously.
Embarrassed by his wife's reaction, the minister glanced at me nervously, and then back at his wife, and said, "Why yes, dear. You know about that, of course. It's mentioned in one of the Epistles of Peter." Ah! if looks could kill, the minister would have been charged with homicide! Talk about awkward moments.
It became obvious that the teaching about our Saviour's descent to Sheol, the place of the dead, is not a prominent feature in Protestant Sunday schools.
Yet, as we mentioned above, it is clearly cited in the New Testament: "For Christ also hath once suffered for our sins. He, the just, suffered for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. In the body, He was put to death; in the spirit, He was brought to life. And in the spirit He went and preached to the spirits that were imprisoned, who formerly had not obeyed…." (I Peter 3:18-20)
Furthermore, this event is also clearly prophesied in the Old Testament. In the Church's services, one prominent element is the "Polyeleos" of Matins. One portion of the Polyeleos is a selection of verses from the Psalms of the Prophet David appropriate for each major feast. For the Feast of Thomas Sunday, the Resurrection of Christ is the major event being celebrated, of course, and these are some of the Psalmic verses that we hear in the Polyeleos:
"As for them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death. Fettered with beggary and iron. They cried unto the Lord in their affliction. And out of their distresses He saved them. And He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death. For He shattered the gates of brass. And brake the bars of iron. And He delivered them from their corruption. And their bonds He brake asunder. To hear the groaning of them that be in fetters. To loose the sons of the slain."
"He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death." All these Old Testament verses refer to our Saviour, "the fierce Man of war" spoken of in the Wisdom of Solomon, who "leaped out of Heaven" into a "land of destruction" to redeem mankind and lead the captive souls in Hades "out of darkness and the shadow of death."
In the Book of Job, God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind and asks him: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? tell me now, if thou hast knowledge, who set the measures of it, if thou knowest? Or who stretched a line upon it?....Or did I order the morning light in thy time?...Or didst thou take clay of the earth, and form a living creature, and set it with the power of speech upon the earth?...And do the gates of death open to thee for fear; and did the gate-keepers of Hades quake when they saw thee?" (Job 38:4-16) The text is vivid and striking.
But there is a problem here: this last portion of the quotation from the Book of Job is quite different in the Protestant text. In the Revised Standard Version, for example, it reads as follows: "Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?" Very different indeed, and not much of a "prophecy" of the actual event. One might say that, as a prophecy of our Saviour's descent into and destruction of Sheol, it has all the vigor and verve of an overcooked noodle.
In the article "Honour the Physician," I recounted how my mother would not allow me to attend my playmate's Protestant Bible class when I was a youngster in California. The reason she gave me for not allowing me to go was that "the Protestants had a different Bible" than we did. At the time, I thought she was just trying to find an excuse for not letting me go to the Bible class. But, as I wrote in that article, it turned out that she was right, and I came to understand this as I learned more about our Orthodox Christian faith. I wrote also in that article that there were two differences between our Holy Scriptures and the Scriptures that the Protestants use: 1) the books that we have in our Holy Scriptures are different, and 2) the interpretations that the Protestants give are different from the interpretations of the Church Fathers.
However, it turns out, there is also a third difference. Even within the books that we share in common with the non- Orthodox, the texts are different, as we can see, for example, in the abovementioned quotation from the Book of Job. One of the major reasons for these differences is that the Orthodox Church uses the Septuagint text of the Old Testament [see below], which was also the text used by the holy Apostles in the time of our Saviour.
The subject of the Descent into Hades ― the "neutralization of the Netherworld" ― is of vital importance. The implications of that event in Christ's work of salvation has been sorely underestimated in the West; but that is a subject that will require yet another article. So, stay tuned.
The Septuagint Text ― A Footnote ―
What many people do not realize is that, as long as we can determine, there have been variants in the Scriptural texts as they have come down to us. Our readers will note that we have pointed out that the texts of the Old Testament that the Protestants and Roman Catholics use today are different from the Septuagint text that the Orthodox Church has used since the time of our Saviour. Why?
Some history may be useful here. By royal decree, the Septuagint text was prepared in the third century before Christ in Alexandria Egypt by the best Jewish scholars of the day.* At the time, Alexandria was the greatest center of learning in the known world, and its library was famous for its completeness and the valuable manuscripts it contained. The Septuagint translation was an occasion of great celebration, and a special day was set aside to commemorate this event in the Jewish community, which, for the most part, no longer spoke Hebrew, especially in the diaspora. (In Palestine the Jews spoke only Aramaic.) Now, with the Septuagint translation, the rabbis could instruct their people again easily in a language most of them spoke (Greek), but, in addition, they could make their faith more readily accessible to the pagan world around them. Consequently, the Septuagint was held in great esteem, and in the time of our Saviour, it was in wide use in the Jewish community (as the many quotations from it in the New Testament testify). What is also noteworthy is that Philo, one of the greatest Jewish scholars of antiquity, was also one of the foremost apologists for the Jewish religion among the pagans. Through the many tracts he wrote (all of them based on the Septuagint text), he led many thousands of pagans to convert to the Jewish faith. Yet, Philo, a contemporary of our Saviour, could not speak Hebrew. He knew only Greek.
With the appearance of Christianity, however, things began to change. The many thousands of pagans who formerly had converted to Judaism now began turning to the Christian faith. In addition, thousands of Jews also converted to Christianity. Through the work of the holy Apostles, the evangélion, the "good news" of our Saviour and His triumph over mankind's last enemy ― death ― began spreading like wildfire throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond. Furthermore, the Apostles were armed with proofs: the Old Testament prophecies that foretold of our Saviour's coming. Thanks to the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, those prophecies were in a language almost everyone could understand. In the meantime, the whole Jewish world was shaken with a terrible catastrophe — the fall and complete destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70 by the Roman legions. This event, prophesied by our Saviour, caused utter consternation in the Jewish community, because, not only had the political center of the country vanished amidst inhuman atrocities and barbarity, but the Temple itself was gone! Literally, no stone was left upon a stone; the very center and heart of the Jewish faith had been ruthlessly cut out by the Romans, and even the Jewish priesthood was exterminated. The few shreds left of the city's population were banished and the Jews began a long exile. In an attempt to restore some order out of this total devastation, around A. D. 90 or 100 a prestigious school of rabbis in the city of Jamnia (or Jabneh), which is some thirteen miles south of Jaffa, constituted a new Sanhedrin and discussed and determined the canon of the Old Testament. In view of the fact that the Septuagint was being used so extensively (and effectively) by the "new faith" (Christianity) in winning many thousands of converts from paganism and from the Jewish people themselves, it was resolved by the rabbinical school to condemn the Septuagint text and forbid its use among the Jews. The day which had been formerly been set aside as a day of celebration commemorating the translation of the Septuagint was now declared a day of mourning. Philo's valuable tracts in defense of the Jewish faith were renounced as well, since they were based on the Septuagint translation.
The Old Testament text used today by non-Orthodox Christians is the Masoretic text, which was prepared by Jewish scholars in the centuries after Christ. When they picked among the many variant texts to prepare their own version of the Old Testament, these Jewish scholars, as might be readily understood, had an already decided bias against any Scriptural variant that might lend itself to a Christian interpretation. As the centuries passed, those variant texts not used by the rabbis fell by the wayside, or were usually destroyed, and thus, about a millennium after Christ, these scholars finally arrived at what is now known as the Masoretic text.
With the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in the middle of the twentieth century, however, the numerous ancient variants in the Hebrew sacred texts came to light again, and, in many cases, the Septuagint text proved to reflect the original Hebrew text better than the text that has come down to us in the later Masoretic version.
Also, many ancient Hebrew words cannot be understood or even pronounced any longer. They can be translated and understood only with the help of the Septuagint.
Thanks to the Dead Sea scrolls, the Septuagint text is now held in far greater esteem among non-Orthodox scholars than it was even a few years ago. The Septuagint text may have its own problems, but it represents an ancient and authentic Hebrew tradition. For centuries, it was beloved and celebrated by the Jewish people, and that is one of the reasons why it was, and still is, espoused and revered by the Christian Church.
*We say "by royal decree" because, initially, the Jews were opposed to havingtheir sacred texts "defiled" by having them translated into a Gentile language. So, it required a decree by Ptolemy to have this work accomplished. According to ancient sources, the text used for the work of translation was supplied by the High Priest in Jerusalem.
Carpus was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was a follower and companion of the Apostle Paul by whom he was appointed as bishop of Varna in Thrace. He also preached the Gospel in Crete where he received St. Dionysius the Areopagite in his home. St. Dionysius testifies that Carpus was a man with an exceptionally pure mind, meekness and innocence and that the Lord Jesus, with His angels, appeared to him in a vision, and that he never began the Divine Liturgy unless he did not had a heavenly vision beforehand. Enduring many assaults for the Name of Christ, he finally suffered at the hands of the unbelieving Jews and was killed and, with his soul, took up habitation in the kingdom of God to delight eternally gazing upon the Lord in glory.
- St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue for May 26
The Vision of Carpus (Letter VIII)
by St. Dionysius the Areopagite
When I was once in Crete, the holy Carpus [2 Tim. 4:13] entertained me, a man, of all others, most fitted, on account of great purity of mind, for Divine Vision. Now, he never undertook the holy celebration of the Mysteries, unless a propitious vision were first manifested to him during his preparatory devout prayers. He said then, when some one of the unbelievers had at one time grieved him (and his grief was, that he had led astray to ungodliness a certain member of the Church, whilst the days of rejoicing were still being celebrated for him); that he ought compassionately to have prayed on behalf of both, and taking God, the Savior, as his fellow-helper, to convert the one, and to overcome the other by goodness [Rom. 11:21], and not to have ceased warning them so long as he lived until this day; and thus to lead them to the knowledge of God, so that the things disputed by them might be clearly determined, and those, who were irrationally bold, might be compelled to be wiser by a judgment according to law.
Now, as he had never before experienced this, I do not know how he then went to bed with such a surfeit of ill-will and bitterness. In this evil condition he went to sleep, for it was evening, and at midnight (for he was accustomed at that appointed hour to rise, of his own accord, for the Divine melodies) he arose, not having enjoyed, undisturbed, his slumbers, which were many and continually broken; and, when he stood collected for the Divine Converse, he was guiltily vexed and displeased, saying that it was not just that godless men, who pervert the straight ways of the Lord, should live. And, whilst saying this, he besought Almighty God, by some stroke of lightning, suddenly, without mercy, to cut short the lives of them both.
But whilst saying this, he declared that he seemed to see suddenly the house in which he stood, first torn asunder, and from the roof divided into two in the midst, and a sort of gleaming fire before his eyes (for the place seemed now under the open sky) borne down from the heavenly region close to him; and the heaven itself giving way, and upon the back of the heaven, Jesus, with innumerable angels, in the form of men, standing around Him. This indeed he saw above, and himself marvelled; but below, when Carpus had bent down, he affirmed that he saw the very foundation ripped in two, to a sort of yawning and dark chasm, and those very men, upon whom he had invoked a curse, standing before his eyes, within the mouth of the chasm, trembling, pitiful, only just not yet carried down by the mere slipping of their feet; and from below the chasm, serpents, creeping up and gliding from underneath, around their feet, now contriving to drag them away, and weighing them down, and lifting them up, and again inflaming or irritating with their teeth or their tails, and all the time endeavouring to pull them down into the yawning gulf; and that certain men also were in the midst, co-operating with the serpents against these men, at once tearing and pushing and beating them down. And they seemed to be on the point of falling, partly against their will, partly by their will; almost overcome by the calamity, and at the same time resigned.
And Carpus said, that he himself was glad, whilst looking below, and that he was forgetful of the things above; further, that he was vexed and made light of it, because they had not already fallen, and that he often attempted to accomplish the fact, and that, when he did not succeed, he was both irritated and cursed.
And, when with difficulty he raised himself, he saw the heavens again, as he saw it before, and Jesus, moved with pity at what was taking place, standing up from His super-celestial throne, and descending to them, and stretching a helping hand, and the angels, co-operating with Him, taking hold of the two men, one from one place and the other from another, and the Lord Jesus said to Carpus, whilst His hand was yet extended, "Strike against Me in future, for I am ready, even again, to suffer for the salvation of men; and this is pleasing to Me, provided that other men do not commit sin. But see, whether it is well for thee to exchange the dwelling in the chasm, and with serpents, for that with God, and the good and philanthropic angels."
These are the things which I heard myself, and believe to be true.
Reflection of St. Nikolai Velimirovich
We should not desire the death of a sinner, but his repentance. Nothing grieves the Lord more, Who suffered on the Cross for sinners, then when we pray to Him for the death of a sinner and thereby to remove him from our path. It happened that the Apostle Carpus lost his patience and began to pray that God send down death upon two sinful men; one a pagan and the other an apostate from the Faith. Then the Lord Christ Himself appeared to Carpus and said: "Strike me; I am prepared to be crucified again for the salvation of mankind." St. Carpus related this event to St. Dionysius the Areopagite and he wrote it down and gave it to the Church as a lesson to all, that prayers are needed for sinners to be saved and not for them to be destroyed, "for the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostle Carpos, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Having thee, O ven'rable Apostle Carpus, as a bright and shining star, the Church is ever made to shine with thine innum'rable miracles. Save them that faithfully honour thy memory.
by NAT da Polis
Meeting a commission for minority rights, the Ecumenical Patriarch stresses that it is time to move from words to action, restoring the rights of minorities and in particular their schools. The pogrom against Christians in Imvros and Tenedos, now reduced to only 300 people. Perhaps Turkey's European dream is fading while the desire for neo-ottomanism grows.
Istanbul - At a recent meeting with the authorities in Ankara, Patriarch Bartholomew I reiterated the need to "right the wrongs suffered by the Christian minority in Istanbul, Imvros and Tenedos, over the years."
It is the first time that a such a large committee - 20 members – has visited the Phanar to review the progress of the Turkish administration on respect for minority rights.
The Ankara delegation to the May 20th meeting was headed by Ambassador Volkan Bozkir (from Kemalist circles), Secretary General of the President’s Council for European Affairs.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of Orthodox Christian minorities, thus starting a cycle of meetings that the Committee will also hold with other minorities in the future.
The intervention of the Ecumenical Patriarch has shown once again that he has in fact become a reference point for all those citizens who fight for civil liberties.
Some criticize his courageous stance, accusing the Phanar of becoming a source of intrigue against the integrity of the Turkish Republic. Bartholomew responded by noting that "the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in this land dates back 17 centuries and is the oldest institution in this historic city. Like it or not, the patriarchal seat is the centre of orthodoxy and contributes to the city’s appeal”.
The patriarch called for the return of three historic churches of the Galata district, confiscated by the state in the twenties and delivered to the so-called " Patriarch of Turkish Orthodox, Pope Eftim, a patriarchy invented by Kemal Ataturk in order to attract Turkish Orthodox. This patriarchate was practically reduced to a pantomime, and finally to an Erenerol family matter, direct heirs of Pope Eftim, whose last descent, daughter Sevgi Erenerol was arrested for involvement in the Egenekon affair.
Bartholomew underscored the issue of confiscated properties of religious foundations (mazbut), whose total return - according to recent information - is not encouraging, the upgrading of closed school buildings, now without pupils (the Orthodox minority has been reduced to 3,000 individuals), the reopening of the Halki Theological School.
Finally, the patriarch suggested the possibility of reopening an elementary school for the needs of the tiny minority on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos (300 people). These islands were inhabited exclusively by Christian populations (12,000) and according to the Lausanne Treaty were to enjoy full autonomy, which was never respected by the Turkish authorities.
The two islands were also the scene of several pogroms for ethnic cleansing, with the consequent confiscation of property. These historical facts were also recently reported by a group from the Turkish civil minority deeply involved in the review and historical reconstruction of this country, outside of institutional cliches. These pogroms led to the total alteration of the population of both islands. Current figures talk about 8,000 Muslims of Kurdish origin and 300 Christians.
Bartholomew’s statements have shaken diplomatic circles in Istanbul. During a meeting with Alkyol Taha, a journalist for Milliyet, the Patriarch said he believed in the government’s good will, but now expects their words to be followed by action.
Among the shaken diplomatic circles, there is a growing “infatuation” with Turkey’s intense activism. European enthusiasm is slowly withering – spurred on by the crisis currently rocking the Eurozone – and it is being replaced by the belief that Turkey can become a hub not only for energy sources but also for regional politics, dusting off a modern form of economic neo-ottomanesim, ideologically based on a "light" form of Islam, which in truth has always characterized the Turkish society.
According to some diplomats, this explains the lack of magnanimity of Turkish politics in the ability to give something away without abandoning its fatal concept of reciprocity, behind which hides a lack of civil growth. In short, in Turkey, there is only a paternalistic conception of civil rights.
May 26, 2010
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew today visited the Holy Monastery of the Holy Protection, where despite the heavy rains he was received by the people with flowers and roses.
The Ecumenical Patriarch went to the chapel in which are kept the relics of Saint Matrona the Blind and Wonderworker. Then the Abbess of the Monastery thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch, who despite his heavy schedule visited the monastery today. He also expressed gratitude to its staff, noting that "we ask for your prayers and supplications to God, for us to be worthy to bear the burden entrusted to us by God."
Finally, the Abbess gave the Primate of Orthodoxy an icon of Saint Matrona, while the chorus chanted "Many years".
Bartholomew noted to the others: "The unsettled weather did not prevent you from giving me a warm welcome and I thank you for everything."
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
An Interview With Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol Regarding the Visit of Pope Benedict to Cyprus
It should be stressed that the visit of the Pope to Cyprus in June is not for dialogue purposes and all fanatical presumptions should be avoided.
by Antigone Solomonidou Drousiotou
Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol has separated himself from the official position of the Church of Cyprus regarding the visit of Pope Benedict to Cyprus. He states clearly his opposition, on the grounds that Papism is a heresy and that the visit of the Pontiff of the Catholic Church will scandalize the souls of innocent pious Christians. At the same time he emphasizes that no impropriety should be done, no rudeness, no bad behavior. He however stated that he would not attend the event.
Why does the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the island scandalize the Church and its flock?
I think the Pope's visit to Cyprus will cause several problems in the conscience of many pious Christians. It would have been better for him not to come because I believe we will not benefit at all, in that I have not seen yet any positive intervention by the Vatican regarding our national issues. It has already caused great concern which we do not need at this time.
Are we in danger of something?
I'm not saying we are in danger with the coming of the Pope; we will not betray our Faith nor will the Orthodox Church collapse. It simply gives opportunity among various Old Calendarist groups who accuse us of being submissive, that we retreat from the principles of the Orthodox Faith and have created many issues to many people. Of course, the Pope was invited by the President of the Republic and the Archbishop gave his consent.
What did you discuss at the Holy Synod?
At the last Holy Synod the question arose whether or not we should be present at the events with the Pope. I refused to attend and said that we knew nothing of it. We learned of the coming of the Pope from the newspapers.
Do you usually learn the news from the newspapers?
The Archbishop of Cyprus has increased duties and we certainly do not want him to descend to our own level. We reserve our personal right, however, to say that we didn’t know that the Pope was coming and that if he had asked us, I would have personally stated my objection, because it would create a scandal in the minds of innocent pious Orthodox Christians, as we are now seeing happen.
Should there not be any communication between the Churches? After all, we live in the 21st century and we belong to the European Union.
We can hold a dialogue with anyone, even more so with heterodox people and people of other religions. It is one thing to have a dialogue and another to receive the Pope as a canonical bishop, who for us Orthodox is a heretic, estranged from the Church, and therefore not even a bishop.
Is this because of the Schism?
He has been estranged from the Church for ten centuries now; he is not a canonical bishop and has no relation with the reality of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. It is one thing to receive him as a canonical bishop and another thing to talk with him as a heterodox in order to reveal to him the truth of the Orthodox Faith and Tradition.
The Ecumenical Patriarch met with the Pope and initiated a dialogue between the Churches.
As I have stated, dialogue itself is not a bad thing when it takes place with the correct presuppositions; but it is wrong to tell these people that we recognize them as a Church, that we recognize the Pope as a bishop, as our brother in Christ in the priesthood and in Faith. I cannot accept this because it is a lie, since all the Holy Fathers teach exactly the opposite. Papism is a heresy and the source of many other heresies which trouble the entire world today. Saint Justin Popovich, a contemporary Saint, has said that there were three tragic falls in the history of the human race: that of the first-created Adam, that of the disciple of Christ Judas, and of the Pope, who as a first bishop of the Church, defaulted from the faith of the Apostles, detached himself from the canonical Church and dragged multitudes of people with him since then.
What does the Pope say about the Orthodox?
The Pope said that we are an incomplete Church.
God is One.
Yes, God is one and His Church is one. That’s why we say in the Symbol of Faith “in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”. This one Church is the Orthodox Church; there are not many Churches.
Isn’t it egotistical to assume that we are it?
It is not egotistical. When as an example you say that the Italians are not Greeks, which is the truth, you are not offending them. If I say to the other person: ‘It doesn’t matter that you are Catholic and that we all belong to the same Church’, I ridicule him, since all the Holy Fathers teach us that there is only one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.
Why is this Church ours and not that of the Pope?
Because the Orthodox Church preserves the Apostolic Faith and the experience of the Prophets unaltered to this day. The Papists, unfortunately, after they had been severed from the Church, have included many heretical dogmas in their beliefs; they changed the Symbol of Faith and most of all, they elevated the Pope to the position of the one and only representative of God on earth.
They say the Pope is infallible, and that whoever does not keep communion with the Pope does not have communion with God. They have officially declared these teachings in their synods.
When you have added things to the Symbol of Faith, which have not been written there by the Holy Fathers, as well as many other falsehoods, this constitutes heresy. This is the reality.
How does the Orthodox Church deal with heretics?
With much love. We love the Pope, we love the Papists as we love all people; we do not despise them, we do not reject them as people but we do not accept their heresy, we do not accept falsehoods, we do not accept deceptions. Because we love them, we must tell them the truth.
Of course everyone has his own truth.
That’s why we have a dialogue so that it is proven, through historical evidence of the sources, which Church has preserved the Apostolic Faith and the Apostolic experience of the Saints.
Do you believe that this dialogue will be successful?
It could, if it is done properly and took place under the correct presuppositions. But, unfortunately, as it is done today, it does not bear fruit. That’s the reason why it has been going on for so many years and nothing has been achieved.
Does each one of them speak only for himself?
They must talk, equipped with the Holy Scriptures, with humility and love, aiming to prove the truth of Christ. Then everything can happen easily.
Doesn’t this dialogue take place with humility and love?
I do not know. I do not participate in these dialogues, but I have not seen any tangible results deriving from their conclusions. Just because I disagree, it does not mean that I am out of order and outside the Church.
There is a movement which writes books against the Pope and is preparing protests.
I do not agree with all these. No nastiness must take place, no rudeness, no misconduct. But it is one thing to voice our opinion, alas, we live in a democracy, and another to misbehave. I clearly and publicly state my opposition to the Pope’s visit and declare with my whole soul that the Pope is a heretic, he is not a bishop, he is not an Orthodox Christian; these things are declared by the Holy Fathers.
If I am wrong I am ready for censure, but this must be done on the basis of the Holy Fathers and not on the basis of globalization. It does not mean that because I disagree, I am out of order and not part of the Church.
Don’t you think that your statements will ignite more scandal in the minds of those already scandalized?
We say what we have to say in all honesty and responsibility, we do not ignite any fires; I do not want to be presented as agreeing and that I consciously accept the Pope’s presence in Cyprus. During the meeting of the Holy Synod the Archbishop himself has dealt with our objections in a very democratic way.
Did you agree with the Archbishop’s visit to the Vatican?
We have not been asked and he was not obliged to ask us. We found out from reports in the newspapers.
What was the result of his visit to the Vatican?
I do not know.
Didn’t he brief you?
He did, but personally I didn’t show much interest. The Pope always speaks in a formal manner, as it is going to happen now when he comes to Cyprus, but he will do nothing substantial, because he is not a leader of the Church but a political person. He cannot enter into dispute with the political establishment and system.
When has the Pope defended the Orthodox Church? We had been under occupation so many times, when did he defend us? Not to mention that we fared very badly during the Frankish occupation, because of the various Popes and their decrees, with which they wanted to make us vanish. Tonight we commemorated the 13 Martyrs of Kantara, who had been murdered under the orders of the Vatican.
We lived through 400 years of tough Frankish occupation. It had been worse than the Turkish rule. But I do not want to go back to these things; I am voicing objections today for purely theological reasons. When we were ordained Bishops, we were given an oath to preserve the Orthodox Faith.
Will the priests who will welcome the Pope not preserve the Orthodox Faith?
Saint Paul said that he who does not consume sacrificial meat must not criticize those who do. I do not condemn those who will be present, but I also do not want to be condemned for not participating.
An encyclical was read in Church last Sunday issued by the Holy Synod in which the Bishops, who will participate, were named one by one, and it made an impression on people.
We had all decided to issue an encyclical to the people so that they stay united in the Church, and not be swayed by the Old Calendarists who want to separate them from the canonical Church. What has not been made clear in the encyclical, however, was that not all of us had been briefed regarding the invitation to the Pope and had agreed with it.
Why do you think the Pope is visiting Cyprus?
As you are aware, the Papists are going through a serious crisis with all the scandals which have broken out against the Catholic Church.
I do not want to name this, but the press is publishing disturbing things every day. I am not condemning, but the Pope regards himself as the first and only Vicar of Christ on earth and that’s the reason he goes on these journey's.
He mentioned that he wanted to make a pilgrimage to follow in the steps of Saint Paul.
Except that Saint Paul was not travelling in a bulletproof car worth 500,000 euros. I have read that the Cypriot government will purchase this car just for his two day visit. I was personally quite scandalized by this news and I said that a bulletproof car does not suit a Vicar of Christ, and that the public should not bear the burden of such cost in the present economic crisis.
The Pope’s representatives have announced that he is coming to Cyprus to promote humanitarian and Christian principles and values and that he wants to follow Saint Paul’s footsteps as well as meet with the representatives of the Orthodox Church in the spirit of brotherhood and with good intentions.
We do not dispute his good intention. I wish it is like this and that he resembles Saint Paul and gets acquainted with the treasures of the Orthodox Church. We wish he returns to the Orthodox Church and becomes an Orthodox Bishop again as he was before the Schism. This is the only proper reunion.
What do you think lies behind this visit?
The Vatican does nothing randomly or undertake unintentional moves. All of his trips aim to present him as a Christian world leader. At the moment he is neither a canonical bishop, nor Orthodox, and therefore he is in no position to want to present himself as the First Bishop.
Do you think there might be political interests behind this?
I do not know, but I believe that we are not going to derive a political advantage out of this visit; only incredible costs and great discord in the consciences of the faithful.
The Archbishop has said that those who oppose the visit will take themselves out of the Church.
I do not know the statements of His Eminence, but I do not think anyone who disagrees with the arrival of the Pope puts himself outside of the Church. I disagree and say it deliberately, and I am not outside of the Church.
The Church, as the Archbishop himself stresses, is a democratic institution. It is one thing to voice our objections in a mannerly way and another thing to misbehave. The Archbishop knows his limits very well.
Does the Holy Synod accept the different view?
The Archbishop is a democratic man and respects our views. He deals with us with a lot of love.
How could he be a democrat, when he has been elected as Archbishop in the way we all know? Formally he has been properly elected by the majority vote. In practice though, the way he was elected was not at all democratic.
I am not going to get into this. My position is very sensitive. I can say however, that inside the meetings of the Synod, the Archbishop behaves in a democratic way. I do not feel that he does not respect out views. He listens to us.
And he does what he wants in the end?
No. Often he upholds the decision of the Synod, even though he himself may hold a different view.
Was the new Charter of the Church written in a democratic way?
It was not written by the Archbishop but by a committee of the Synod and was presented for discussion during numerous conferences. The decisions are taken by majority.
People get the impression that the Charter was written in order to prevent you from ascending to the Archbishopric throne?
I wish that God will grant many years to the Archbishop and that we do not need new elections.
He himself had said that he was going to keep the throne only for five years. That is until the end of 2011.
The Holy Scriptures say that a thousand years are like one day! He must be the one to answer as to what he intends to do. I wish that we do not have to undergo the process of elections any time soon. Every Archbishop is elected through the will of God and not through any human intentions. If God wishes either A or B become Archbishop he will, even if we try to prevent him. The purpose of our lives is not to become Archbishop.
What is the purpose of your life?
To be saved, to be with God, to love God and our brothers.
Do you think the Archbishop is trying to give the Church a ‘leader of the nation’ role?
I do not think he has these tendencies. He has abolished the title of “the Ethnarch” for himself. He knows his limits very well, but he loves and cares for his country.
He has recently stated that there is an organized effort to attack the dignity and credibility of the Church, on the pretext of its unpaid bills to the State. He attributed political motives behind this campaign.
If he has spoken this way, this is a very serious allegation which everyone needs to consider very carefully.
Do you agree or disagree that the Church must repay its old unpaid bills to the State in the amount of 163 million?
I was not participating in the committee which had considered the issue. If, according to the law, the Church owes the State, then it must pay up. But if the law does not state this, then the Church must deal with the issue in a discreet manner and in accordance with the peoples’ needs in this present economic crisis. The Church must be very careful in its statements and deeds which may infringe on common sentiment. On the other hand, the state must be clear in its assertions and not mislead people by stating that the Church does not pay its taxes.
It is wrong to say that the Church does not pay taxes, because it does.
Does the Limassol Metropolis agree to the imposition of capital gains tax?
I am not acquainted with these financial terms. When we sell some property we pay up our duties. We are not in possession of companies which make profit, we do not own hotels and factories, we have no investments and that’s why our financial state is terrible.
Where does your income come from?
We own one property with some rental income; we also get donations from people who love the Church and from the sale of pieces of land.
Source: Cyrpiot Newspaper "Fileleftheros", 23 May 2010.
Translated by John Sanidopoulos
See also here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Some misguided men think more about the end of the world than the end of their lives even though it is obvious that for him to whom the end of his life comes the end of the world has come.
A brother standing before St. Seraphim of Sarov continually kept in his mind how he was going to ask the saint about the end of the world. St. Seraphim discerned his thought and said to him: "My joy! You think highly of the wretched Seraphim. How could I know when the end of the world will be and that great day when the Lord will judge the living and the dead and render to each one according to his deeds will be? No, no, this is impossible for me to know!"
And when the saints did not know how will the sinners know? Why should we know, that which the Savior Himself did not find beneficial to reveal to us? It is much better to think that our death will come sooner than the end of the world rather than the end of the world before our death.
- St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Cleric, Swiss Man ‘Traded’ Bones
May 25, 2010
A 24-year-old deacon from Sidirokastro in Serres, northern Greece, and a 43-year-old Swiss national faced a prosecutor yesterday for allegedly trafficking in human bones, which they had tried to pass off as religious relics.
Police arrested the Swiss man at Thessaloniki Airport after finding dozens of human bones, three skulls and a silver feretory, or relic receptacle, in his luggage. The bones and skulls had been doused with scent and labeled with the names of various saints. According to police, the Swiss man had been due to fly to Germany and deliver the bones to a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church there, pretending that they were the remains of Orthodox saints.
Later yesterday, police arrested the Swiss man’s suspected accomplice, a 24-year-old deacon from northern Greece, after finding more than 500 human bones and 15 skulls at his home. They also discovered a 19th-century religious icon, a Byzantine cross, two rings and several ancient coins. The suspects face charges of theft, trafficking and desecration.
How Church Shopping Is Polarizing the Country
The difference in viewpoints between traditionalists and modernists has dramatic effects on the culture wars, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn say.
May 24th, 2010
By Naomi Cahn and June Carbone
A report this month on who gets abortions showed some surprising results: Catholic women are about as likely as any other woman to terminate a pregnancy. Then again, the striking thing about American Catholics is that they look almost exactly like the average American.
According to the Pew Research Center, for example, Catholics supported Obama in the 2008 election by 1 percentage point more than the general public. Even when it comes to abortion, which the Catholic Church strongly opposes, American Catholics are only 2 percent more likely than the general public to favor making it illegal.
What explains the divergence between church teaching and political poll responses? A large part of it is the difference between those who check a religious box in a public opinion poll and those who show up at a church on Sunday. If we look at only white Catholics who attend church at least once a week, they favor making abortion illegal by 76 to 27 percent.
The figures underlie a striking change in the characteristics of American churches of all denominations: in the '60s, those showing up in church on Sunday might have represented a cross-section of American viewpoints; today, they are more likely to reflect traditionalist views, further driving modernists away from religion altogether - and intensifying what some have called the “devotional divide” in American politics.
The difference in viewpoints between traditionalists and modernists is profound - and has dramatic effects on today’s culture wars. David Campbell, a Notre Dame political scientist, explains that traditionalists believe in an eternal and transcendent authority that “tells us what is good, what is true, how we should live, and who we are."
Modernists, on the other hand, would redefine historic faiths according to the prevailing assumptions of contemporary life. They are less dogmatic, more tolerant, more open to change. Both might prefer that their 17-year-old daughters not sleep with their high school boyfriends. Modernists, however, would have an easier time saying, “But if you do, be sure you use a condom.”
In the era following World War II, both groups attended the same churches. They were likely to subscribe to their parents’ religion, to attend the church down the street, to include their children in community activities the church sponsored. Today, we are more likely to shop for churches that express our individual values, and traditionalists - those searching for “an eternal and transcendent authority” - are much more likely to attend church at all.
The result, according to journalist Bill Bishop, is the “collapse of the middle” in American church life. Mainline Protestant churches, which tended to be more moderate and inclusive, have been losing membership for decades. The churches that have shown the greatest growth have been the large-scale megachurches, where eight in 10 are traditionalist.
During the same period, Catholics have become more likely to choose parishes on the basis of something other than geography, and 72 percent said that “the traditional or conservative nature of the church” was an important or very important reason for choosing their parish.
In the meantime, modernists, who are less comfortable with churches dominated by traditionalists, have become less likely to attend church at all. During the '90s, the number of Americans reporting “no religion” doubled, and sociologists believe the shift reflected the desire of many Americans to distance themselves from the increasingly close association between organized religion and conservative politics.
That association is the result of a set of reinforcing factors. Traditionalists are much more likely to attend church. The Republican Party has adopted more traditionalist rhetoric and policies, locking in the political support of those most in search of fixed rules and uncompromising principles. The association between religion and conservative politics and policies alienate the modernists, who distance themselves from religion. This leaves church attendees talking to the converted - those who share both their religious and political beliefs.
Studies of group psychology show that when people with similar views talk to one another, they end up at even more extreme positions. The very ability to choose - neighborhoods, cable TV stations, websites, churches - increases the risk that we will hear only those with whom we already agree.
As a result, the middle may be dropping out of American politics the same way it did from Protestant churches. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that those who attend religious services more than once per week voted Republican more than those who never attend religious services at all.
Notre Dame’s Campbell adds that, in interpreting these results, traditionalism may matter even more than church attendance. In 2004, for example, only 24 percent of the top quartile of modernists voted for Bush, compared to 84 percent of the highest quartile of traditionalists. Campbell concludes that in explaining the devotional divide “it is clearly traditionalism that makes the difference.”
Catholics as a group may accordingly be quite capable of reaching consensus views. The traditionalists who dominate Sunday mass and the modernists who have become less likely to attend church at all, however, are increasingly unlikely to talk to each other.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of June Carbone and Naomi Cahn.
Monday, May 24, 2010
At the opening ceremony Patriarch Bartholomew gave the following speech stressing the value of culture and literature and its relationship to the mission of Sts. Cyril and Methodios.
The speech can be read here in Greek. See more here.
The Visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Russia is Intended to Strengthen Intra-Orthodox Ties
May 22, 2010
Voice of Russia
The official visit to the Patriarchate of Moscow and all the Russias by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis of Constantinople, traditionally, the first in honour amongst the Orthodox episcopate, will strengthen intra-Orthodox cooperation and, perhaps, advance the cause of a long-awaited Pan-Orthodox Synod, according to our source in the Moscow Patriarchate. On Saturday, the head of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate will arrive in Moscow at the invitation of Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, and will spend more than a week in Russia. He will visit the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, which is considered the spiritual centre of Russian Orthodoxy, Transfiguration Monastery in Valaam monastery, which is often called a “Northern Athos”, and religious sites in St Petersburg.
Cooperation and Prayer
“This is not the first visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to our Church in Russia. His first official visit as Ecumenical Patriarch occurred in 1993, it was lengthy and involved visits to Moscow, the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, and St Petersburg. However, much has changed in the life of our Church and country over the past 17 years”, said Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the deputy chairman of the Division of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, an expert in the field of intra-Orthodox relations, on the eve of Bartholomew’s visit. In his view, it will be interesting for the EP delegation to become familiar with the monastic life in the MP today, especially the restored monastery on Valaam. It will provide our distinguished guests with a “to have a special opportunity during his stay in Russia, to engage not only in formal meetings and negotiations, but also in quiet and focused prayer”. Fr Nikolai went on to say that Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Kirill “have a long-standing friendship”. While still young bishops, they often cooperated in solving problems that confronted former First Hierarchs of Constantinople and Moscow such as Patriarchs Dimitrios Papadopoulos, Pimen Izvekov, and Aleksei Rediger. In July 2009, the newly-elected Patriarch Kirill, following established Orthodox custom, paid first official visit to Patriarch Bartholomew. This meeting, according to the parties involved, opened a new page in relations between the two Local Churches. Fr Nikolai said, “Patriarch Kirill would like to recreate and deepen the atmosphere of fraternal cooperation and mutual understanding that prevailed during his first official visit to Constantinople (Istanbul) in 2009.
Fr Nikolai continued, “The Patriarch of Constantinople is the first of honour in the Orthodox world, whilst the Patriarch of Moscow heads the world’s largest Orthodox Church. The level of mutual understanding, confidence, and cooperation between these two men largely determines the larger issue of pan-Orthodox cooperation, and, in particular, the process of preparing any Pan-Orthodox Council”. He said that many had spoken of the need to undertake such a council “since the first decades of the 20th century”. Preparations for such a conclave began in the 1960s. At that time, Metropolitan Nikodim Rotov, who was then the head of the DECR, led the MP delegation to the Pan-Orthodox meetings convened to prepare for the council. Fr Nikolai said, “In the 1990s, the process of preparation for such a council, which was difficult enough previously (given the differences in the views of the Local Churches on various issues), stalled over the problem caused by the EP’s establishment of a parallel diocesan structure in Estonia, alongside that of the MP”. He said that it was only possible to clear this problem in the last year of Patriarch Aleksei’s life, with the active participation of the current Patriarch Kirill, who then headed the DECR. During the visit of Patriarch Aleksei to Istanbul in 2008 for a summit meeting of all the First Hierarchs and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, it was decided that, henceforth, Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Consultations would involve only autocephalous (fully independent and self-governing) Local Churches. Fr Nikolai said, “Thus, the problem with the status of the Orthodox Church in Estonia was withdrawn from the context of the Pre-Conciliar Consultations, so that we could continue a dialogue on the important issues of our time that require a collective response from the Orthodox Church as a whole”.
From the Programme of the Visit
On the Trinity feastday, which this year falls on Sunday 23 May, Patriarch Bartholomew shall serve liturgy at the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, the most renowned monastery in Russia, which was founded by St Sergius of Radonezh in Sergiev Posad near Moscow. Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kirill will concelebrate in the Cathedral of the Assumption at the Lavra. The next day, on 24 May, the two patriarchs will concelebrate liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. There are several festivities marked on this date, the Day the Holy Spirit, which is the day after Pentecost, the commemoration of the Enlighteners of the Slavs, the brothers Ss Kirill and Mefody, which is traditionally combined with the celebration of the Days of Slavic Written Language and Culture, and the name day of Patriarch Kirill. After completing a festal Divine Liturgy, the patriarchs will attend the opening ceremony of the Days of Slavonic Literature and Culture. In the evening, the EP delegation is scheduled to attend a concert at the State Kremlin Palace. On 25 May, Patriarch Bartholomew will venerate the relics held at the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin. In the afternoon, Patriarch Kirill and the EP delegation shall leave for the patriarch’s residence outside Moscow in Peredelkino. The next day, 26 May, Patriarch Bartholomew will meet with Mayor Yuri Luzhkov of Moscow, and with professors and graduate students from throughout the Church, speaking on Ss Kirill and Mefody. Later on in the day, the visitors will venerate relics in Moscow churches and monasteries, and they shall visit the St Dmitri Nursing School. In the evening, the EP delegation, which mainly comprises clerics of Greek origin, will visit the Greek Ambassador to Russia, Michalis Spinellis.
On the morning of 27 May, the EP delegation will meet with the Ambassador of Turkey in Russia, Halil Akıncı. Then, Patriarch Bartholomew’s entourage will depart for Transfiguration Monastery in Valaam, where he will stay until the morning of 29 May. At Valaam, the delegation will be the guests of the abbot of the monastery, Bishop Pankraty Zherdev. Patriarch Bartholomew shall arrive in Kronshtadt on 29 May, where he shall inspect the restoration work being done on the Naval Cathedral. Then, the EP delegation will visit the Hermitage, along with churches and monasteries in St Petersburg. That evening, the Metropolia of St Petersburg will hold a reception in honour of the guests from Istanbul. On the feastday of All Saints, 30 May, Patriarchs Kirill and Bartholomew will serve Divine Liturgy together at St Isaac Cathedral, and the members of the MP Holy Synod will concelebrate with them. Following this, Patriarch Bartholomew will examine the restored Holy Synod building. That evening, a reception in the honour of the EP delegation shall be held at the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo. Patriarch Bartholomew and his delegation will leave Russia and return to Istanbul on 31 May. Accompanying Patriarch Bartholomew on this trip to Russia are Metropolitans Michael Staikos of Vienna and Austria/Hungary, Irinaios Ioannidis of Myriophyton and Peristasis, Emmanuel Adamakis of Paris and all France, Secretary General of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Archimandrite Elpidofor, amongst others.
A Brief Biography of the Ecumenical Patriarch
The glory of Constantinople, which has existed since the first centuries of Christianity, is connected with the names of Ss Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, and other great teachers of the Church. After the separation (отделения) of the Western church in 1054, the Patriarch of Constantinople was considered “the first in honour” in the Orthodox Church. His actual jurisdiction extends over the Orthodox population in Turkey, northern Greece, and some Aegean islands, as well as the Greek diaspora in various countries.
According to the press service of the MP, His Holiness Bartholomew Archontonis, Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, was born in 1940 on the island of Imvros in Turkey. He became the First Hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1991. Earlier visits of Patriarch Bartholomew to the canonical territory of the MP were in 1993, when he went to Moscow and St Petersburg, in 1997, when he visited Odessa, in 2003, when he travelled to Baku, and he came twice in 2008, first, he went to Kiev, and then, he came to Moscow for the funeral of Patriarch Aleksei Rediger. Shortly before his death in 2008, Patriarch Aleksei went to Istanbul, where he participated in a meeting bringing together delegates from the autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches around the world. The official visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the newly-elected Patriarch Kirill in July 2009, according to expert analysts, strengthened the fraternal relations between the two Local Churches. The upcoming visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Russia, obviously, will serve to develop the unity of world Orthodoxy, experts think.
A Turkish actor by the name Attila Olgac admits publicly on Turkish TV having commited a crime of war. More specifically, he narrates how he was ordered to kill 10 unarmed prisoners of war during the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in 1974. Among the victims was a 19 year old youth, the first to be shot, who spat on his face a moment before dying.
The actor later claimed that his speaking in the first person about commiting a crime of war was a scenario of his on a movie he is working on.
Read more here.
by Saint Justin Popovich
What is Christ the God-Man? What in Him is God and what man? How is God known in the God-Man, and how is man? What has God given to us men in and with the God-Man? The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, tells us all the truth there is about Him, about God in Him and man in Him and all that is given us through Him. All this immeasurably transcends everything that the human eye has ever seen, the ear has ever heard, or has ever entered into the heart of man (I Cor. 2:9; cf. Jn 15:26; 16:13; I Cor. 2:4; Eph. 3:5).
Through His life in the flesh on earth, the God-Man founded His theanthropic Body, the Church, and in this way prepared the earthly world for the Holy Spirit’s coming into the world, and His life and activity in the Body of the Church as the Soul of that Body. On the holy Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven into the theanthropic Body of the Church and remains eternally in it as its life-giving Soul (Acts 2:1-47). This visible theanthropic Body of the Church was constituted by the holy apostles with their holy faith in the Theanthropos, the Lord Jesus, as the Savior of the world, as perfect God and perfect Man. The descent and activity of the Holy Spirit in the theanthropic Body of the Church is because of, and for the sake of, the Theanthropos (cf. Jn 16:7-13; 15:26; 14:26). “For His sake the Holy Spirit entered into the world.” Everything in the dispensation of salvation is brought about by the theanthropic Person of the Lord Christ, and everything comes about in the framework of theanthropy. This is also the case with the activity of the Holy Spirit. All His activity is of one essence with the theanthropic ascesis of the salvation of the world by the Lord Christ. Pentecost is, with all the immortal gifts of the Triune Godhead, of the Holy Spirit Himself, intended for the holy apostles; the holy apostolic Faith and Tradition, the hierarchy and everything that is apostolic and theanthropic.
The Day of the Holy Spirit, which began on the Day of Pentecost, is ever present in the Church in the inexpressible fullness of all the divine gifts and the life-giving powers (Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-16; 15:8-9; 19:6). Everything in the Church comes about through the Holy Spirit, from the least to the greatest. When the priest blesses the censer before censing, he prays to the Lord Christ to “send down the grace of the Holy Spirit.” The clearest testimony that the entire life of the Church comes from the Holy Spirit is at the consecration of a bishop, when God’s indescribable miracle, holy Pentecost, is repeated and the fullness of grace is given. There is no doubt that the Lord Christ is in the Church through the Holy Spirit, and that the Church is in the Lord Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Lord Christ is the Head and Body of the Church; the Holy Spirit is its Soul (cf. I Cor. 12:1-28). From the very beginning of the theanthropic dispensation of salvation, the Holy Spirit has made Himself a part of the foundation of the Church, the foundation of the Body of Christ, by “bringing about the incarnation of the Logos in the Virgin.”
In fact, every holy mystery and holy virtue is a little Pentecost; in them, the Holy Spirit descends upon us, into us. He descends in His energies, He, “the richness of the Godhead,” “the grace of the open seas,” “from Him come grace and life for every creature.”
The Lord dwells in us by the Holy Spirit, and we in Him. This is testified to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. We live by the Holy Spirit in Christ, and He in us. We know this “by the Spirit which He hath given us” (I Jn. 3:24). Through the Holy Spirit, our human spirit is brought to a true and a right knowledge of Christ. That which is in God, and in the God-Man, we know by the Holy Spirit that “He hath given us” (cf. I Jan 4:13; I Cor. 2:4-16).
To come to the knowledge of Christ the Theanthropos, one of the Holy and Divine Trinity, we need the help of the other Holy Two: God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 11:27, I Cor. 2:12). The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of wisdom” (Eph. 1:17); if we receive Him, we are filled with the wisdom of God. The Holy Spirit is also “the Spirit of revelation” (Eph. 1:17). By God’s wisdom, He reveals and proclaims the mystery of Jesus the Theanthropos in the heart of the believer, and thus the spirit-bearer acquires real knowledge of Christ. No human spirit can, by any imaginable effort, comprehend the mystery of Christ in its divine and saving perfection and completeness. This is revealed to the human spirit only by the Holy Spirit, and this is why He is referred to as “the Spirit of revelation” (Eph. 1:17; 3:6; I Cor. 2:10). The Apostle, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, therefore proclaims: “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 12:3). The Holy Spirit, “the spirit of truth” and “the Spirit of revelation,” leads us into all the truth of Christ’s Person and His theanthropic dispensation of salvation, and teaches us all that is Christ’s (Jn. 16:13 14:26; I Cor 2:6-16). This is the reason why the entire Gospel of Christ, with all its theanthropic realities, is called the Revelation. This is the reason why every office, labor, service, sacrament and act in church in performed with the invocation of the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.
The entire life of the Church, in its innumerable theanthropic realities and aspects, is led and guided by the Holy Spirit, who is ever the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Theanthropos. This is why it is said in Holy Scripture: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). Saint Basil, angelically immersed in the theanthropic mystery of the Church as the loveliest and greatest of God’s mysteries, proclaims the truest good tidings: “The Holy Spirit builds up the Church of God.”
From the book, “The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism”
Saint Symeon the Younger (521-595) spent his life on a 12-metres-high column in a cloister exactly between Antakya and Samandag on Wonderful Mountain. The monastery was built on a hill and a few kilometres before the mouth of the Orontes, and was initiated in 541 A.D. Till the 13th century it was a place of pilgrimage. The monastery site is preserved, but in ruins. A great view compensates for the ruins.
Saint Symeon, the "New Stylite," was born in Antioch; John his father was from Edessa, and Martha his mother was from Antioch. From his childhood he was under the special guidance of Saint John the Baptist and adopted an extremely ascetical way of life. He became a monk as a young man, and after living in the monastery for a while he ascended upon a pillar, and abode upon it for eighteen years. Then he came to Wondrous Mountain, and lived in a dry and rocky place, where after ten years he mounted another pillar, upon which he lived in great hardship for forty-five years, working many miracles and being counted worthy of divine revelations. He reposed in 595, at the age of eighty-five years, seventy-nine of which he had passed in asceticism.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thou becamest a pillar of patience and didst emulate the Forefathers, O righteous one: Job in his sufferings, Joseph in temptations, and the life of the bodiless while in the body, O Symeon, our righteous Father, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Desiring the heights, thou wast translated from the earth; thy pillar was made a second Heaven by thy toils; by it, thou didst shine with the splendour of great wonders, O righteous one. And thou ever prayest to Christ the God of all in behalf of all of us.