“I ought to tell you that what God did to me was amazing and incomprehensible…. My pursuing surgery completely satisfied the goal I always had to serve the poor and the suffering, to dispose all my strength for the comfort of their pains, and to help them in their needs.”
These are some of the introductory comments from the memoirs of Saint Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol that was kept by his secretary, E.P. Leikfeld. His words are not vainglorious but a commentary on how Gods plan was fulfilled through the life and example of Saint Luke.
Living in the Ukraine during the oppressive period of communism, St. Luke stood out among his fellow physicians both as a surgeon and as a Christian. Even the communists coveted his talents for healing the body.
Born with the name Valentine Felixovitch Voino-Yassentsky April 27, 1877 in Kerch (east Crimea), his family members were civil servants to Lithuanian and Polish Kings. The family was impoverished over time but Saint Luke remembers that he received his religious inheritance from his pious father. His first true understanding of the Christian faith came from the New Testament given to him at his high school graduation by his principal.
He had an outstanding secular training. Having exceptional drawing abilities, he graduated the Kiev Academy of Fine Arts. (When consecrated Bishop, he was given the name Luke after the Apostle, who in addition to being a physician and evangelist was a talented iconographer). He decided against pursuing art in favor of doing service in helping people who suffer and chose to be a physician. An extraordinary medical student, he excelled at anatomy. His superior knowledge of anatomy served him throughout his surgical career. Out of compassion to the blindness beggars were experiencing due to trachoma, Saint Luke studied ophthalmology at the Kiev ophthalmologic clinic. In a very short time he acquired a significant amount of ophthalmologic training. His knowledge of this subspecialty helped him treat not only his trachoma patients but many other serious eye conditions as well.
Another important event in Valentine’s life was the marriage to his wife Anna, a nurse. They had four children. The family was transferred frequently to various regional health care facilities and from the very beginning Valentine never requested funds from his patients, nor would he turn anyone away because of his ethnic background or personal beliefs. During his early career he published many scientific treatises and eventually became the head surgeon and professor of surgery at the hospital in Tashkent March 1917. In October, Lenin took over the government and civil war erupted in Tashkent in January 1919. To complicate matters his wife died. God in setting the path for Valentine’s Sainthood provided the family with Sofia Sergeevna who would be the joyful surrogate mother of his children during the harsh times ahead. Valentine never remarried.
Lenin’s government disfavored any religious witness. Valentine was under constant threat, especially when treating party members, but he refused to operate under any circumstances without the Icon of the Mother of God. His results were outstanding. Despite the dangers from the Lenin regime, he fearlessly attended theological discussions arranged by Archpriest Mikhail Andeev. At this time when clergymen and pious would prove their faith in blood, providence led the Archpriest to invite Valentine to the priesthood. For two years, this exceptional individual was active not only in his pastoral work but in public and scientific activity.
Eventually Fr. Valentine was arrested and put on trial, falsely accused of giving inappropriate surgical care to injured Red Army soldiers. At his trial in his characteristic fearless way, he denounced the prosecutors claims by explaining:
“I cut people to save them. You, Mr. Public Prosecutor, why do you cut their heads off?”
Certainly the charges were never proven, but since the Party had to be infallible Fr. Valentine was convicted to sixteen years imprisonment. Noting Fr. Valentine’s spiritual gifts, prior to his departure from Tashkent, Bishop Andrey Ufimsky administered monastic tonsure and facilitated his consecration as Bishop. Saint Luke realized that he would be cutting ties with family and friends for Greater Glory. “He who loves his father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son and daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).
Almost immediately Saint Luke was sent to the first of his three imprisonments. Due to his talent as a surgeon there would always be placement at a remote medical facility where the attending colleagues would be astounded that a professor with such impeccable academic credentials would be subservient to the whims of the local civil authorities. Despite the criticisms of lesser surgeons, Saint Luke would practice his medical skills. With the grace of God he amazed his colleagues with excellent medical outcomes in ophthalmologic and surgical cases that others deemed incurable. As a capable hierarch he strengthened the parishes and supported priests and church councils. As Saint Luke’s surgical and pastoral popularity would increase the communist authorities would transfer him. When blatant injustices would be committed against Christians and fellow political prisoners, he would initiate hunger strikes.
He was submitted to humiliation and tortures. In fact, on December 5, 1937, after being sleep deprived and interrogated for three weeks he broke down in a state of hallucination and signed a confession that he was a counter-revolutionary.
The people who met him during his ordeals bore witness to his true character. As a physician he was Unmercenary and never asked for money treating all his patients with immense love. He shared his patients’ pain and anguish for he saw each person as an image of God, unique and unrepeatable.
As a physician and professor he trained many students and colleagues in the art of surgery. As a scientist he found the time to publish many articles including his monograph “Essays on the Surgery of Pyogenic Infections” published in 1934. This monograph and the subsequent revisions was the “gold standard” reference for his colleagues at the time. In 1944 he received the “Stalin Award” for all his scientific publications.
As a Bishop he preached incessantly not only about the need to live Orthodoxy but against the perils of the “Living Church”. The latter was a defiled heretic sect propagated by the communist regime. He is credited with 1250 sermons over thirty-eight years of priesthood and episcopal service, of which 750 were preserved in twelve volumes. When he practiced surgery from this point on he wore his bishop's cassock in the operating room and refused to perform surgery without an icon.
As the Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev regime came and went, Saint Luke’s persecutions and frequent transfers only increased his popularity. Despite public slander he was known as an unselfish, loving physician and spiritual father. This posed a great propaganda threat to each regime and towards the end of his life Saint Luke was restricted in his travels and his medical responsibilities to remedial services. The latter was also in God’s plan as toward the end of his life Saint Luke lost his vision to glaucoma. He could now devote his time exclusively to matters of faith. He performed many healing miracles and had many spiritual children. Toward the end of his life he was worried if it would be permitted to chant “Holy God” at his funeral. He last liturgized on the feast of the Nativity of Christ in 1960 and his last sermon on Forgiveness Sunday. His repose was June 11, 1961, the day of commemoration for “All Saints who shone forth in the Land of Russia”.
The government made every effort to make Saint Luke’s funeral as inconspicuous as possible. Busses were provided to hurry the funeral procession along the side-streets to the gravesite so there would be little fanfare and recognition.
God had different plans for Saint Luke and a popular uprising occurred at the funeral. The faithful refused to be hurried. They boldly ignored, at peril to life and limb, the roadblocks to the central corridors. The mayor was angered from the roses spread on the roads and flung a basket away claiming that the roses were litter and trash on the streets. (He soon after had a very ugly death).
To the dismay of the government and to avoid an uprising, they conceded to allow the funeral to proceed for three and a half hours without interference. The roads were full and cars stopped everywhere. People had climbed on balconies, onto rooftops of houses. Such a funeral was a tribute of honor. The authorities wanted a silent event. It was witness to God’s Glory that throughout the walk there was a constant chant of “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us”. Saint Luke’s prayers to have Holy God chanted at his funeral during the atheistic times were answered!
In November of 1995 he was announced as a Saint by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and was officially glorified by the Patriarchate of Russia May 25, 1996. On March 17th 1996, St. Luke's remains were disinterred, with an estimated 40,000 people taking part. It is said that an indescribable aroma arose from his relics, while his heart was discovered incorrupt, a testament to the great love he bore towards Christ and his fellow men. Three days later on March 20th 1996, his relics were transferred to the Church of the Holy Trinity.
His relics are in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Simferopol, in Sagmata Monastery in Greece, and throughout the world continue to work countless miracles.
Last Words of Saint Luke
“My children, very much do I entreat you,
Arm yourselves with the armor that God gives, That you may withstand the devil's tricks.
You can't imagine how evil he is.
We don't have to fight with people but with rulers and powers, in effect the evil spirits.
It's no use to the devil for anyone to think and feel that he is close to him.
A hidden and unknown enemy is more dangerous than a visible enemy.
O how large and terrible is the army of the demons.
How numberless is their black horde!
Unchanged, untiring, day and night, seeking to push all of us who believe
in the name of Christ, to lure us on the road of unbelief, of evil and of impiety.
These unseen enemies of God have made their sole purpose, day and night to seek our destruction.
But do not be afraid, take power from the name of Jesus.”
Apolytikion in Tone One
O herald of the way of salvation, confessor and archpastor of the Crimean flock, faithful keeper of the traditions of the fathers, unshakeable pillar and teacher of Orthodoxy, pray unceasingly to Christ our Saviour to grant salvation and strong faith to Orthodox Christians, O holy hierarch Luke, physician wise in God.
Friday, June 11, 2010
“I ought to tell you that what God did to me was amazing and incomprehensible…. My pursuing surgery completely satisfied the goal I always had to serve the poor and the suffering, to dispose all my strength for the comfort of their pains, and to help them in their needs.”
The Monastery of Saint Bartholomew (Armenian: Սուրբ Բարթողոմէօս Վանք) was built in the fourth century at the site of the martyrdom of the Apostle Bartholomew. The burial site of the Apostle Bartholomew was inside of the Cathedral, which was an important pilgrimage place for Armenians before the genocide. It is located in what was then the Vaspurakan Province of Greater Armenia, now near the town of Başkale (Albayrak) in the Van Province of southeastern Turkey.
The monastery was built on the traditional site of the martyrdom of the Apostle Bartholomew who is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the first century. Along with Saint Thaddeus, Saint Bartholomew is considered the patron saint of the Armenian Church.
At an unknown date after the Armenian Genocide in the early 20th century, the monastery came under the control of the Turkish military and its entire site now lies within an army base. The dome of its church was still intact in the early 1960's, but the whole structure is now heavily ruined.
The monastery St. Bartholomew partly was destroyed by the Turkish army using explosives in the 1960s under the Turkish state-sponsored policy of cultural genocide of Armenian monuments. The main Cathedral currently is in ruins and it is turned into a military installation near the Turkish town Albayrak. It is also strictly prohibited to take photos of the monastery and come close to the standing ruins of the Armenian temple because of the regime of high security around the site.
Turkish armed forces still practices using the ruins or preserved constructions of the Armenian churches and temples as a military installations and stores.
1. "THE CONDITION OF THE ARMENIAN HISTORICAL MONUMENTS IN TURKEY". Research on Armenian Architecture. 2008-10-01.
One of the best-kept secrets in the Orthodox world has to be the existence of the Chinese Martyrs who celebrate their feast day on June 11th. Almost everyone was unaware of the fact that not even one hundred years ago [now a little less than one hundred years ago], a group of Chinese Orthodox Christians gave up their lives for Christ and His Church in the great city of Beijing.
It was the time of the Boxer Rebellion, which held foreigners responsible for every misfortune that took place. The first to suffer were the Christians, and in 1899 the first English missionary was killed. On the 10th of June, proclamations were posted on walls all over Beijing, calling on the Chinese to slaughter all Christians and threatening all those Christians who tried to hide with martyrdom.
On the 11th of June, China shone in glory as it would offer her share of martyrs for the Church. According to Dr. Piperakis of the University of Athens, the events are described as follows:
"The executioners' procession set off triumphantly with burning torches, as the idols of the traditional god of the Chinese were carried aloft. Censers were held so that the Christians could cense the idols, and thus deny their 'alien' faith. The pressure was unbearable, the martyrdoms most terrible. The fear was great. The Orthodox Christians' homes were surrounded. Threats and violence were used to force the Orthodox to sacrifice to false gods and deny Christ.
"Unfortunately, as with all oppression, many capitulated and burnt incense to the idols to save their lives, while others who were stronger in faith boldly confessed Christ. The latter, the confessors, were led out of the city to the Boxers' idol worshipping temples. Here, after indescribable torture, cutting them open and pulling out their entrails and the like, they were finally beheaded or burnt to death. The martyrs' houses suffered the same fate as their owners. Churches and Orthodox institutions were also given over to the flames. All the church buildings (with the exception of the one in Hankow), the Sino-Russian Library and the print shop with its 30,000 wood-carved Chinese characters were set alight and burnt to ashes. The Russian missionaries managed to flee to Chien-Chin and then to Shanghai. Of the 700 Orthodox Chinese believers, 300 were martyred for their faith. Taking into account its low numbers, the Orthodox Church of China gave up more martyrs than the more populous heterodox Churches."
Included in those who received the crown of martyrdom was the first Chinese heiromartyr, St. Mitrophan Chi-Sung:
"St. Mitrophan was the first Orthodox Chinese priest. He was ordained by St. Nicholas of Japan and served the Orthodox mission for fifteen years. He sat among the ruins of the burnt-out Orthodox Mission, enveloped by the men, women and children of his flock, then they started to hit his chest with fists. His Presbytera Tatiana and his 23-year-old son, Isaiah, were slaughtered before his very eyes, while they cut off the nose, ears and toes of his younger son, John. Not only did the child martyr refuse to complain of protest, but miraculously he felt no pain.
"The executioners taunted him, calling him a 'child of demons'. He answered saying, 'I am an Orthodox Christian and I believe in Christ, not in demons'. After Father Mitrophan's execution, his future daughter-in-law, 19 year old fiancée of now-martyred Isaiah, arrived at the priest's house. She wanted to die together with the family of her betrothed. When the Boxers surrounded the house, Maria helped many of the faithful jump over garden walls. She faced her executioners with courage and reproached them for the unjust murder of so many innocent souls, who were not tried by any court. The executioners pierced her feet and wounded her hands, encouraging her to leave and be saved. Brave Maria answered boldly, 'I was born here at the Church of the All-Holy Mother of God, I will die here, too.' Then the Boxers executed her."
Of the 1,000 people that were in the Beijing parish, 222 received the crown of martyrdom and constituted the glorious sacrificial beginning of the 20th century, which would soon turn purple by the river of blood that flowed out of the vast expanses of Russia.
However, the small Church of the Chinese people proclaim through their martyrdom that Orthodoxy has no borders and is above race, nations, and languages. The Orthodox Church is the Church of all nations, people, languages, and stands before God to offer praise and worship.
 "Of the 1,000 flock of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission about 300 have been lost. A few of them renounced the Faith, but most, numbered 222, became holy confessors and martyrs for Christ." (Pervye Christianskie Mucheniki iz Pravoslavnykh Kitaitsev. Za Tserkov, 19, 1936, p. 1-3)
This article is re-printed from "The Censer," the Monthly Newsletter of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, Volume 2, Issue 6 pp. 5-7.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Let us the flock of Christ with love and piety now glorify with hymns and truly joyous odes the faithful Martyrs of the truth who suffered for Christ in China. For having confessed the Faith, they all bravely went unto death as lambs which were sacrificed for our Shepherd and Master Christ. And therefore to the Martyrs we cry out: Remember us all, who sing your praises.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
The divine Metrophanes, the martyred shepherd, with his great and faithful flock, have hallowed China with their blood; wherefore we praise them with sacred hymns, for they were faithful to Christ even unto death.
The Axion Estin ("It is Truly Meet") Icon of the Mother of God is in the high place of the altar (synthronon) of the cathedral church of the Karyes monastery on Mount Athos.
During the reign of the emperors Basil and Constantine Porphyrogenitos, and the patriarchate of St Nicholas Chrysoberges (984-995), a certain Elder and his disciple lived near Karyes, the administrative center of the Holy Mountain.
One Saturday night the Elder went to Karyes for the all-night vigil. He left, instructing his disciple to remain behind and read the service in their cell. As it grew dark, the disciple heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door, he saw an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, and he invited him to come in. They stood before the icon of the Mother of God and read the service together with reverence and compunction.
During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, the disciple began to sing "My soul magnifies the Lord…" with the Irmos of St Cosmas the Hymnographer (October 14), "More honorable than the Cherubim…."
The stranger sang the next verse, "For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden…." Then he chanted something the disciple had never heard before, "It is truly meet to bless Thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God…" Then he continued with, "More honorable than the Cherubim.…"
While the hymn was being sung, the icon of the Theotokos shone with a heavenly light. The disciple was moved by the new version of the familiar hymn, and asked his guest to write the words down for him. When the stranger asked for paper and ink, the disciple said that they did not have any.
The stranger took a roof tile and wrote the words of the hymn on its surface with his finger. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. The angel said, "Sing in this manner, and all the Orthodox as well." Then he disappeared, and the icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward.
The Eleousa Icon of the Mother of God, before which the hymn "It Is Truly Meet" was first sung, was transferred to the katholikon at Karyes. The tile, with the hymn written on it by the Archangel Gabriel, was taken to Constantinople when St Nicholas Chrysoberges (December 16) was Patriarch.
Numerous copies of the "It Is Truly Meet" Icon are revered in Russian churches. At the Galerna Harbor of Peterburg a church with five cupolas was built in honor of the Merciful Mother of God, and into it they put a grace-bearing copy of the "It Is Truly Meet" icon sent from Athos.
According to the ancient synaxarion, this feast was originally held at the cell where the miracle took place.
The icon is commemorated by the Church on June 11 and July 13. The appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to a monk on Mt. Athos, and the revelation of the hymn "It Is Truly Meet..." is commemorated by the Church on June 11.
Read also: Miracles of the Icon of "Axion Estin"
A MONK AT PRAYER
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
A monk at night, alone in church
With a fervent prayer, dispels darkness from his soul,
All at once, a monk arrived, about him, nothing unusual,
And, as an experienced cantor, began to chant.
Then, the first monk began: "More Honorable"
Glorifying the Mother of God, Mother "More Glorious".
To him, the miraculous guest spoke about this hymn of praise:
"Among us," said he, "this hymn we sing differently,
As you began, we do not begin,
Rather with 'Truly it is Meet,' venerable father!"
And the entire hymn: "Truly it is Meet" he uttered,
And the monk tried, not a word to omit.
"Now I breathe easier, O my virtuous brother
Of your hymn, allow me to copy it!"
But pencil he has not and not even paper has he,
The church a place for prayer is and not for writing!
Then the guest at midnight traced the church with a cross
And on the stone with his finger he began to write.
As on soft wax, on the stone he wrote,
At this man, the monk was amazed.
Of the unusual guest, the monk inquired: "Who are you?"
"For you, may it be enough that my name is Gabriel."
At once he disappeared. The monk with horror
Recognized the Archangel in the monastic habit.
That which he wrote, no one erased
With heavenly fragrance, the church was filled.
The Holy Apostle Bartholomew was born at Cana of Galilee and was one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, it fell by lot to the holy Apostles Bartholomew and Philip (November 14) to preach the Gospel in Syria and Asia Minor. In their preaching they wandered through various cities, and then met up again. Accompanying the holy Apostle Philip was his sister, the holy virgin St Mariamnne.
Traversing the cities of Syria and Myzia, they underwent much hardship and tribulations, they were stoned and they were locked up in prison. In one of the villages they met up with the Apostle John the Theologian, and together they set off to Phrygia. In the city of Hieropolis by the power of their prayers they destroyed an enormous viper, which the pagans worshipped as a god. The holy Apostles Bartholomew and Philip with his sister confirmed their preaching with many miracles.
At Hieropolis there lived a man by the name of Stachys, who had been blind for 40 years. When he received healing, he then believed in Christ and was baptized. News of this spread throughout the city, and a multitude of the people thronged to the house where the apostles were staying. The sick and those beset by demons were released from their infirmities, and many were baptized. The city prefect gave orders to arrest the preachers and throw them in prison, and to burn down the house of Stachys. At the trial pagan priests came forth with the complaint that the strangers were turning people away from the worship of the ancestral gods.
Thinking that perhaps some sort of magic power was hidden away in the clothes of the apostles, the prefect gave orders to strip them. But St Mariamne became like a fiery torch before their eyes, and none dared touch her. They sentenced the saints to death. The Apostle Philip was crucified upside down. Suddenly there was an earthquake, and a fissure in the earth swallowed up the prefect of the city, together with the pagan priests and many of the people. Others took fright and rushed to take down the apostles from the crosses. Since the Apostle Bartholomew had not been suspended very high, they soon managed to take him down. The Apostle Philip, however, had died. After making Stachys Bishop of Hieropolis, the Apostle Bartholomew and St Mariamne left the city and moved on.
Preaching the word of God, Mariamne arrived in Lykaonia, where she peacefully died (February 17). The Apostle Bartholomew went to India, where he translated the Gospel of Matthew into their language, and he converted many pagans to Christ. He also visited Greater Armenia (the country between the River Kura and the upper stretches of the Tigrus and Euphrates Rivers), where he worked many miracles and healed the daughter of King Polymios from the demons afflicting her. In gratitude, the king sent gifts to the apostle, who refused to accept them, saying that he sought only the salvation of the souls of mankind.
Then Polymios together with his wife, daughter, and many of those close to them accepted Baptism. And people from more than ten cities of Greater Armenia followed their example. But through the intrigues of the pagan priests, the Apostle Bartholomew was seized by the king's brother Astiagus in the city of Alban (now the city of Baku), and crucified upside down. But even from the cross he did not cease to proclaim the good news about Christ the Savior. Finally, on orders from Astiagus, they flayed the skin from the Apostle Bartholomew and cut off his head. Believers placed his relics in a leaden coffin and buried him.
In about the year 508 the holy relics of the Apostle Bartholomew were transferred to Mesopotamia, to the city of Dara. When the Persians seized the city in 574, Christians took the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew with them when they fled to the shores of the Black Sea. But since the enemy overtook them there, they were compelled to leave the coffin behind, and the pagans threw it into the sea. By the power of God the coffin miraculously arrived on the island of Lipari. In the ninth century, after the taking of the island by the Arabs, the holy relics were transferred to the Neapolitan city of Beneventum in Italy, and in the tenth century part of the relics were transferred to Rome.
The holy Apostle Bartholomew is mentioned in the Life of St Joseph the Hymnographer (April 4). Having received from a certain man part of the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew, St Joseph conveyed them to his own monastery near Constantinople, and he built a church in the name of the Apostle Bartholomew, placing in it a portion of the relics. St Joseph ardently desired to compose hymns of praise in honor of the saint, and he fervently besought God to grant him the ability to do so.
On the Feast day in memory of the Apostle Bartholomew, St Joseph saw him at the altar. He beckoned to Joseph and took the holy Gospel from the altar table and pressed it to his bosom with the words, "May the Lord bless you, and may your song delight the whole world." And from that time St Joseph began to write hymns and canons to adorn not only the Feast day of the Apostle Bartholomew, but also the Feast days of many other saints, composing about 300 canons in all. Sts John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanius of Cyprus and certain other teachers of the Church regard the Apostle Bartholomew as being the same person as Nathanael (John 1:45-51, 21:2).
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
To the Church thou hast appeared as a great daystar; with thy teachings as thy rays and beams of awesome miracles, thou hast enlightened those praising thee, the Lord's Apostle, O sacred Bartholomew.
Holy Apostle Barnabas of the Seventy was born on the island of Cyprus into the family of the tribe of Levi, and he was named Joseph. He received his education at Jerusalem, being raised with his friend and fellow student Saul (the future Apostle Paul) under the renowned teacher of the Law, Gamaliel. Joseph was pious, he frequented the Temple, he strictly observed the fasts and avoided youthful distractions. During this time period our Lord Jesus Christ began His public ministry. Seeing the Lord and hearing His Divine Words, Joseph believed in Him as the Messiah. Filled with ardent love for the Savior, he followed Him. The Lord chose him to be one of His Seventy Apostles. The other Apostles called him Barnabas, which means "son of consolation." After the Ascension of the Lord to Heaven, Barnabas sold land belonging to him near Jerusalem and he brought the money to the feet of the Apostles, leaving nothing for himself (Acts 4:36-37).
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem after his conversion and sought to join the followers of Christ, everyone there was afraid of him since he had persecuted the Church only a short while before. Barnabas, however, came with him to the Apostles and reported how the Lord had appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:26-28).
Saint Barnabas went to Antioch to encourage the believers, "Having come and having seen the grace of God, he rejoiced and he urged all to cleave to the Lord with sincerity of heart" (Acts 11:23). Then he went to Tarsus, and brought the Apostle Paul to Antioch, where for about a year they taught the people. It was here that the disciples first began to be called Christians (Acts 11:26). With the onset of famine, and taking along generous alms, Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem. When King Herod killed St James the son of Zebedee, and had the Apostle Peter put under guard in prison to please the Jews, Sts Barnabas and Paul and Peter were led out of the prison by an angel of the Lord.
They hid out at the house of Barnabas' aunt Maria. Later, when the persecution had quieted down, they returned to Antioch, taking with them Maria's son John, surnamed Mark. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophets and teachers there imposed hands upon Barnabas and Paul, and sent them off to do the work to which the Lord had called them (Acts 13:2-3). Arriving in Seleucia, they sailed off to Cyprus and in the city of Salamis they preached the Word of God in the Jewish synagogues.
On Paphos they came across a sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was close with the proconsul Sergius. Wishing to hear the word of God, the proconsul invited the saints to come to him. The sorcerer attempted to sway the proconsul from the Faith, but the Apostle Paul denounced the sorcerer, who through his words suddenly fell blind. The proconsul believed in Christ (Acts 13:6-12).
From Paphos Barnabas and Paul set sail for Pergamum of Pamphylia, and then they preached to the Jews and the Gentiles at Pisidian Antioch and throughout all that region. The Jews rioted and expelled Paul and Barnabas. The saints arrived in Iconium, but learning that the Jews wanted to stone them, they withdrew to Lystra and Derben. There the Apostle Paul healed a man, crippled in the legs from birth. The people assumed them to be the gods Zeus and Hermes and wanted to offer them sacrifice. The saints just barely persuaded them not to do this (Acts 14:8-18).
When the question arose whether those converted from the Gentiles should accept circumcision, Barnabas and Paul went to Jerusalem. There they were warmly received by the Apostles and elders. The preachers related "what God had wrought with them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27).
After long deliberations the Apostles collectively resolved not to impose any sort of burden upon Gentile Christians except what was necessary: to refrain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:19-20). Letters were sent with Barnabas and Paul, and they again preached at Antioch, and after a certain while they decided to visit the other cities where they had visited earlier. St Barnabas wanted to take Mark along with him, but St Paul did not want to, since earlier he had left them. A quarrel arose, and they separated. Paul took Silas with him and went to Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).
Having multiplied the number of believers, St Barnabas traveled to Rome, where he was perhaps the first to preach Christ.
St Barnabas founded the episcopal see at Mediolanum (now Milan), and upon his return to Cyprus he continued to preach about Christ the Savior. Then the enraged Jews incited the pagans against Barnabas, and they led him out beyond the city and stoned him, and then built a fire to burn the body. Later on, having come upon this spot, Mark took up the unharmed body of St Barnabas and buried it in a cave, placing upon the saint's bosom, in accord with his final wishes, the Gospel of Matthew which he had copied in his own hand.
St Barnabas died in about the year 62, at age seventy-six. In time, the burial spot was forgotten, but numerous signs took place at this spot. In the year 448, during the time of the emperor Zeno, St Barnabas appeared three times in a dream to Archbishop Anthimus of Cyprus and indicated the place where his relics were buried. Starting to dig at the indicated spot, Christians found the incorrupt body of the saint, and upon his chest was the Holy Gospel.
It was during this time that the Church of Cyprus began to be regarded as Apostolic in origin, and received the right of choosing its head. Thus St Barnabas defended Cyprus against the pretensions of the opponent of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, the heretic surnamed Knapheios, who had usurped the patriarchal throne at Antioch and tried to gain dominion over the Church of Cyprus.
Read also: The Apostle Barnabas and the Church of Cyprus
A Reflection by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
A true friend prays to God for his friend. A true friend is concerned about the salvation of the soul of his friend. To dissuade a friend from false paths and to direct him on the path of truth, that is precious friendship. The saints of God are the best friends of mankind. Two youths, Barnabas and Paul, were friends while together they were attending the school of Gamaliel. When Barnabas became a Christian, he persistently and tearfully prayed to God that He would also enlighten the mind and turn the heart of Paul in order that he becomes a Christian. Barnabas often spoke to Paul about Christ the Lord but Paul ridiculed him and considered him as one led astray. However, the Good Lord did not leave the prayers of Barnabas without fruit. The Good Lord appeared to Paul and turned him from the path of falsehood to the path of truth. The converted Paul then fell before the feet of his friend and cried out: "O Barnabas, teacher of truth, I am now convinced that everything which you spoke to me about Christ is the truth!" Barnabas wept with joy and embraced his friend. Barnabas, the friend saved the soul of his friend by his fervent prayer. If Barnabas has succeeded to place Paul as the emperor of Rome, he would have done less for him than what he succeeded in doing with prayer to bring him to the truth.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
To thy Lord, O Barnabas, thou wast a genuine servant; and among the Seventy Apostles, thou wast the foremost; and with Paul, thou shonest brightly in thy wise preaching, making known unto all men Christ Jesus, the Saviour. For this cause, we celebrate thy divine memorial with hymns and spiritual songs.
In this interview Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, comments on the Latin dogma of the "Immaculate Conception".
The Catholic Church this year celebrates the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. How does the Eastern Christian and Byzantine Tradition celebrate the Conception of Mary and her full and immaculate holiness?
The Catholic Church found that it needed to institute a new dogma for Christendom about one thousand and eight hundred years after the appearance of the Christianity, because it had accepted a perception of original sin - a mistaken one for us Orthodox - according to which original sin passes on a moral stain or a legal responsibility to the descendants of Adam, instead of that recognized as correct by the Orthodox faith - according to which the sin transmitted through inheritance the corruption, caused by the separation of mankind from the uncreated grace of God, which makes him live spiritually and in the flesh. Mankind shaped in the image of God, with the possibility and destiny of being like to God, by freely choosing love towards Him and obedience to His commandments, can even after the fall of Adam and Eve become friend of God according to intention; then God sanctifies them, as He sanctified many of the progenitors before Christ, even if the accomplishment of their ransom from corruption, that is their salvation, was achieved after the incarnation of Christ and through Him.
In consequence, according to the Orthodox faith, Mary the All-Holy Mother of God was not conceived exempt from the corruption of original sin, but loved God above all things and obeyed his commandments, and thus was sanctified by God through Jesus Christ who incarnated Himself of her. She obeyed Him like one of the faithful, and addressed herself to Him with a Mother's trust. Her holiness and purity were not blemished by the corruption, handed on to her by original sin as to every man, precisely because she was reborn in Christ like all the saints, sanctified above every saint.
Her reinstatement in the condition prior to the Fall did not necessarily take place at the moment of her conception. We believe that it happened afterwards, as consequence of the progress in her of the action of the uncreated divine grace through the visit of the Holy Spirit, which brought about the conception of the Lord within her, purifying her from every stain.
As already said, original sin weighs on the descendants of Adam and of Eve as corruption, and not as legal responsibility or moral stain. The sin brought hereditary corruption and not a hereditary legal responsibility or a hereditary moral stain. In consequence the Panagia participated in the hereditary corruption, like all mankind, but with her love for God and her purity - understood as an imperturbable and unhesitating dedication of her love to God alone - she succeeded, through the grace of God, in sanctifying herself in Christ and making herself worthy of becoming the house of God, as God wants all us human beings to become. Therefore we in the Orthodox Church honor the All-Holy Mother of God above all the saints, albeit we don't accept the new dogma of her Immaculate Conception. The non-acceptance of this dogma in no way diminishes our love and veneration of the All-Holy Mother of God.
Source with the rest of the Interview
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
"The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him; but the desire of the righteous shall be granted" (Proverbs 10:24).
The wicked one fears imminent death, the thief fears the burglar, the murderer fears the sword, the proud one fears shame, the abductor fears hunger, the glutton fears sickness and the slanderer fears the judgment of truth. That which the wicked one fears is what will befall him.
The righteous one desires a pure conscience, good thoughts, peace, charity, love, truth, justice and meekness. God gives these to him even while he is here on earth. The righteous one desires the Kingdom of God, desires Paradise, desires the company of the angels and the saints and desires to reflect upon the face of God in life eternal. God gives all these to him when He calls him to Himself.
O how just is the Lord toward the wicked one and how All-benevolent He is toward the righteous one! That which the wicked one fears, the Lord permits to befall him and that which the righteous ones fears the Lord removes from him. Of what is the righteous one afraid? Only sin. God removes sin from the righteous one and directs his feet on the path to virtue; and God protects the righteous one from evil spirits, the sowers of sin and, by His grace, waters the seed of virtues in his heart.
O All-seeing Lord, protect us from the paths of the wicked, from the gain of the wicked and from the fear of the wicked! Help our wavering heart to become steadfast in the desire for that which is only pleasing to You. For that which is pleasing to You will, in the end, conquer and reign and everything else will be given over to decay and forgetfulness.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Fr. Themi: The Atheist Rocker Who Became an Orthodox Priest and Missionary In Africa
Orthodox Mission to Sierra Leone: The Wounded Lion
Support the Orthodox Mission to Sierra Leone
A letter from the mission below:
Over the past few months at our Waterloo "Mission for the Disabled", in Sierra Leone, hostility and problems have been brewing.
Even when Rev T was in Australia, simmering dissent was encouraged amongst the disabled.
The short story is, after building accommodation and helping hundreds of disabled, some of the persons demanded the properties reassigned into their names and for them to take control of the mission and its finances. (these persons were once rebel Leaders & Warlords during the War).
They were rallying and stirring the disabled population and causing mischief, even appealing to the local and international media.
Over the past few weeks, the committee members and I have advised Rev T to abandon the Waterloo Mission and leave it in the hands of the authorities.
But, the link below is a phone conversation (midnight his time) with Rev Themi where he describes that a miracle has happened.
This recording gives a rare insight of what type of man Rev T is; how he can laugh at all adversity, trust God with his life, walk by faith and it also gives us a glimpse of his great compassion for the poor and what he goes through in the natural course of his life as a missionary.
Listen online at pk4asl.VOX.com
After you listen to this, please consider joining our Ezi Donate monthly subscription;
-AUSTRALIA online donation page
-REST Of THE WORLD online donation page
This interview took place in May 2001. Elder Theoklitos remembers certain incidents and conversations he had with Elder Paisios, which took place during their 30 year friendship on Mount Athos.
First Video - His Impressions of the Character of Elder Paisios and Topics of Conversations.
Second Video - The Last Days of Elder Paisios and His Fearlessness; On the Future of Greece; On Contemporary Saints; On the Demonology of the Desert (1)
Third Video - On the Demonology of the Desert (2); On the Antichrist
Fourth Video - On Conforming to the Likeness of God and Sainthood
Soon after the Congress in Athens, Fr. Florovky’s magnum opus was published in Russian: Puti russkago bogoslaviia, and only recently published in English as Ways of Russian Theology.9 In this book Florovsky has presented a brilliant historical and theological analysis of Russian theology as it went through a long process of successive westernization that gradually brought about a schism in the Russian soul. Florovsky traces this process as having its beginning in the fifteenth century, well before the formal westernization policy of Peter the Great was put into effect in the eighteenth century. By the end of the fifteenth century, many in the Russian lands began to perceive the West as something more real than the destroyed and conquered Byzantium. Consequently it was understandable for Russia to begin developing and strengthening her links with the West. The Latin world itself drew nearer to Russia, through central Europe, Ukraine and Poland, while the world of Christian Hellenism seemed in time more and more remote and virtually forgotten after the deep inroads of militant Islam into the Balkans. As an original and creative thinker, Florovsky struggled with this historical problem: Russia had taken over Eastern Christianity and the whole of Byzantine culture, and yet Orthodox Christianity there had failed to develop naturally and creatively on the basis of her Orthodox presuppositions. Russia somehow opted rather to accept more or less uncritically the influences of the West, and therefore to be successively misled and distorted first by Latin scholasticism and later by Protestant pietism and idealism.
Ways of Russian Theology, expectedly, proved to be very controversial among the émigré community of Paris. Reactions were polarized between those who praised the book and those who damned it. Florovsky had made quite clear where his sympathies lay, and there was no middle ground. Obviously the book contained a stern and uncompromising critique of Russia’s religious past, and this cut all too deeply into the prevailing atmosphere of exultant religious nationalism in the circles of Russian emigration. Nor was the book to the taste of the liberal and socialist émigré press. Nevertheless, even the scorching criticism of a Nicholas Berdiaev could not conceal the enormous erudition, the broad and extensive scholarship of Florovsky’s magnum opus.
Even though Florovsky enjoyed a close personal and professional relationship with Nicholas Berdiaev, especially through the discussion groups founded and headed by Berdiaev himself, which provided Florovsky his initial ecumenical experiences, their friendship gradually became strained and alienated. Unable to shed the notion of his radical intelligentsia days that all priests were obscurantists and reactionaries, Berdiaev first reacted very negatively to Florovsky’s ordination to the priesthood in 1932. Then the publication of Ways of Russian Theology, with its severe assessment of the twentieth-century Russian religious renaissance in which Berdiaev had played a leading role, added to the rift. While Berdiaev remained in Paris promoting the resurgence of Orthodox religious philosophy, Florovsky was now spending much more time in England trying to build bridges between the Orthodox and the Anglicans. Moreover, when Berdiaev was increasingly drawn toward an intellectual accommodation with Soviet Russia, Florovsky was mainly occupied with the Ecumenical Movement and the creation of the World Council of Churches, which became his major concern in the years ahead. While the friendship between these two intellectual giants was strained and distant through all of these developments, it was never really broken. Looking back, Florovsky remembered fondly the early years with Berdiaev, but steadfastly insisted that his religious philosophy was at times outrageously off the mark.
At the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute there had developed what became known in Orthodox circles as “Parisian Theology.” There were two different types of theological approach. One type had its roots in the tradition of Russian religious and philosophical thought of the nineteenth century, and was itself an offspring of the Western tradition, especially German Idealism. This was referred to as the Russian school, whose representatives, regardless of any mutual disagreements, attributed primary importance to the problems and ideas of contemporary religious thinking. Chief representative of this group was Bulgakov. On the opposite side, standing virtually alone, was Florovsky, who had chosen the sacred Tradition of the Church as the cornerstone for the Orthodox theological revival. He, as noted above, called for a return to the Fathers of the Church, to the sacred Hellenism which had been baptized and purified as an eternal and perennial category of historical Christian Orthodoxy. In other words, Florovsky called for a reevaluation of the Russian achievement in the light of the inheritance of Christian Hellenism, rather than an attempt to reevaluate the ancient Tradition of the undivided Church in the light of the modern Russian experience.
Consequently a bitter theological controversy arose over the so-called Sophiological teaching of Father Sergius Bulgakov, the dean of St. Sergius Institute, and Florovsky. This experience was perhaps the most painful of Florovsky’s public life, especially in view of the mutual respect and affection the two men enjoyed ever since they met in Prague in 1923. In relating his understanding of this controversy, Florovsky would emphasize how men like Bulgakov, Berdiaev, and others belonged to the generation responsible for the religious renaissance of the twentieth century, and their personal story involved a return to the rank of believers by way of rediscovering the Church. “They could never forget this renaissance, for them it was basic and decisive. Whereas for me this had no meaning, for I never knew a period when I was dissatisfied with the Church as the foundation and pillar of truth. For me Christian truth had always been in the Church.”10 Bulgakov and others were interested in perpetuating and expanding the Russian religious renaissance of the twentieth century. Florovsky on the other hand could not see himself beginning with a recent event which had no existential meaning for him and which was merely an accident in the long history of the Christian Church. In the end, it was Florovsky who was fully vindicated in his theological approach and whose influence became the abiding legacy in modern Orthodox theology.
The Church and the Churches
Florovsky’s first big ecumenical meeting was in Edinburgh, Scotland, in August of 1937, when the Second Conference of Faith and Order met to discuss “The Church of Christ: Ministry and Sacrament.” As chairman on the section on Ministry, Florovsky worked diligently with many other prominent members of the conference. On the subject of ministry in particular, being the most thorny of all the subjects discussed, there was no agreement reached by the participants. When an apparent verbal agreement between the Lutherans and the Presbyterians emerged on the doctrine of Grace, Florovsky bluntly pointed out that there cannot be any real agreement on doctrinal matters as long as Lutheranism and Calvinism continue to exist as such. In fact, he insisted, it is important and necessary to disclose openly the real divergences among Christians and to acknowledge differences in thought that seem irreconcilable. He believed that this was the only proper way to advance genuine ecumenical dialogue. From Edinburgh on, this bold drawing attention to the real depths of the problem of the separation of the Churches from the Church would become the Florovskian hallmark at ecumenical encounters. From his earliest involvement in the Ecumenical Movement, Florovsky challenged theologians and ecumenists alike “to get beyond the modern theological disputes, to recover the true ‘catholic mind,’ which would embrace the whole of the historical experience of the Church in its pilgrimage through the ages.” He had no illusions regarding the present situation of Christendom. Even though unity and the union of people in Christ is the very purpose of the Church, “yet, Christians are divided, Christendom is divided. The Christian world is in schism.” The first step in overcoming this absolute schism is to acknowledge it courageously and then to work arduously toward a creative recovery of the catholic mind of the early undivided Church.
One of the significant outcomes of the Edinburgh Conference was the consideration and approval of an earlier recommendation to review the whole Ecumenical Movement and to form a World Council of Churches. Fourteen leading persons were appointed to plan for a constitution of the new body, and Florovsky was one of them—charged with the responsibility of organizing the World Council of Churches. With his election to the Committee of Fourteen, Florovsky had come to the pinnacle of the Ecumenical Movement, a place he would retain for the next twenty-five years, working indefatigably to promote and achieve essential Christian unity.
From the Lives and Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
A certain anchorite, primarily out of ignorance, did not want to accept that the Holy Bread which is received in the Holy Eucharist is the true Body of Christ. When the elders of the Skete learned this, they called him to teach him the correct teaching of the Church regarding the Holy Eucharist. He however insisted on his delusion, and the fathers left him, but prayed for him that God would enlighten him with the truth.
One Sunday the anchorite attended the Divine Liturgy from within the Holy Altar of the Church of the Skete. At the moment when the priest took in his hands the offering bread for the Proskomide, the deluded monk was stunned to see an infant laying on top of the holy altar table. And when the priest began to dissect the Bread, an angel appeared holding a knife in his hands.
As the priest was dissecting the Bread, at the same time the angel dismembered the infant and poured His blood in the Holy Chalice. The anchorite was shocked. A little while later, when he went to commune, something happened to him even more fearful. He looked into the Holy Chalice and saw human flesh in human blood.
Upon seeing this, the deluded monk wept and confessed his delusion, praying to the Lord to cover the Holy Gifts with His grace so that he may take courage and approach to receive. He looked into the Holy Chalice and this time saw bread and wine, and he thanked God after receiving the Holy Gifts.
New National Holiday Irks Non-Orthodox Faiths
08 June 2010
By Alexandra Odynova
Russia will celebrate a new holiday next month under a decision backed by the Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Church that is stirring up decidedly unholy feelings among non-Orthodox Russians.
Christianization of Rus Day on July 28 won't be counted as a day off work, but it will be recognized on calendars as the country's ninth so-called "memorial holiday," which also includes Cosmonauts Day on April 12 and Constitution Day on Dec. 12.
The new holiday commemorates the baptism in 988 of Vladimir the Great, who accepted Christianity together with his family and the people of his state, Kievan Rus, the predecessor to the Russian Empire and whose capital was Kiev.
Now Protestant Christians and Muslims want their own holidays, too.
Konstantin Bendas, a senior official with the Russian Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith, said Christianization of Rus Day has created tensions between the Orthodox church and others faiths, which believe that they also deserve memorial holidays.
"The Protestants have a plan to set their holiday on Oct. 31," Bendas said, referring to the day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of a Roman Catholic church and started the Reformation.
Lawmakers in predominantly Muslim Tatarstan are calling for Russia to celebrate the Day Islam Came to Russia on May 16, the date in 922 that Islam was officially approved as a state religion in the Middle Volga region.
Such a holiday would "contribute to an interfaith dialogue and strengthen the international authority of Russia," Tatarstan lawmakers said in a statement.
A spokesman for Tatarstan's parliament declined to comment on the initiative, saying it would be officially debated Wednesday.
Muslims comprise about 6 percent of the Russian population, while less than 1 percent is Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or Buddhist. In contrast, 60 percent to 70 percent of Russians consider themselves Orthodox, although few attend church regularly.
A senior Orthodox official said his church respected the other faiths but their holidays should not be recognized nationally like Christianization of Rus Day.
"Russia is an Orthodox state, and we should not be ashamed of declaring it," said Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for church and society affairs.
President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law establishing the new holiday on June 1, marking the latest manifestation of vibrant ties between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church and a chance for politicians to tout improved relations with Ukraine. The legislation was earlier approved by the State Duma and the Federation Council.
In Ukraine, the date was declared a state holiday in 2008, prompting the Russian Orthodox Church to seek a similar decision in Russia. The date is considered by the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches as the beginning of Christianity in the region.
Sergei Markov, deputy chairman of the State Duma's Social and Religious Organizations Committee, said the Duma backed the new holiday in recognition of warmer ties with Ukraine after the election of President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
"The main reason for the holiday is a vital improvement in relations with Ukraine. It's important now to have mutual dates," Markov told The Moscow Times.
"There are other mutual holidays already, like Victory Day, Women's Day and New Year's, but the more the better," he said.
An overwhelming 422 deputies approved the holiday in the 450-seat Duma in its third and final reading on May 21.
Chaplin, the Orthodox official, said the holiday promised to build closer ties between Russia and its predominantly Orthodox neighbors, Ukraine and Belarus. "Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have the same cultural roots that define people's lives," he said.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said the church welcomed Russia's decision to celebrate the holiday as "an important event that unites brothers."
The holiday also puts Russia at the center of the Orthodox faith, an idea pushed by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, noted Roman Lunkin, director of the Religion and Law Institute.
In the end, though, ordinary Russians are unlikely to be terribly impressed with the new holiday — one of dozens that are officially recognized by the state and already crowd their calendars.
The country already celebrates eight public holidays, which offer days off work, including International Women's Day on March 8, Victory Day on May 9 and this weekend's Russia Day on June 12. In addition, there are more than 70 professional holidays, like Paratroopers Day on Aug. 2 and Police Day on Nov. 10. One of them falls on the same date as the new Christianization of Rus Day: Public Relations Day.
Prince Charles Blames World’s Ills On ‘Soulless Consumerism’ and Galileo
June 9, 2010
Ruth Gledhill and Ben Webster
The Prince of Wales has blamed a lack of belief in the soul for the world’s environmental problems, and said that the planet cannot sustain a population expected to reach 9 billion in 40 years.
He said he found it “baffling” that so many scientists professed a faith in God yet this had little bearing on the “damaging” way science was used to exploit the natural world.
The Prince pinned part of the blame on Galileo. Criticising the profit imperative behind much scientific research, he said: “This imbalance, where mechanistic thinking is so predominant, goes back at least to Galileo’s assertion that there is nothing in nature but quantity and motion.
“This is the view that continues to frame the general perception of the way the world works, and how we fit within the scheme of things.
“As a result, Nature has been completely objectified — ‘She’ has become an ‘it’ — and we are persuaded to concentrate on the material aspect of reality that fits within Galileo’s scheme.” The Prince said that he believed “green technology” alone could not resolve the world’s environmental problems. Instead, the West must do something about its “deep, inner crisis of the soul”.
Speaking at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies to mark its 25th anniversary, the Prince — who is patron of the centre — said that the West had been been “de-souled” by consumerism.
He said that the present approach to the environment was contrary to the teachings of all of the world’s sacred traditions. The desire for financial profit ignored the spiritual teachings.
“Over the years, I have pointed out again and again that our environmental problems cannot be solved simply by applying yet more and more of our brilliant green technology — important though it is.
“It is no good just fixing the pump and not the well,” he said. Talk of an “environmental crisis” or of a “financial crisis” was actually describing “the outward consequences of a deep, inner crisis of the soul”.
Focusing on population growth, he warned of “monumental problems” as numbers rose. “It would certainly help if the acceleration slowed down, but it would also help if the world reduced its desire to consume,” he said.
The claim that population growth is one of the greatest environmental problems was challenged last year in a study by the International Institute for Environment and Development. The London-based think-tank claimed that a population explosion in poor countries would contribute little to climate change, and was a dangerous distraction from the “main problem” of over-consumption in rich nations.
The world’s population has risen from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 6.8 billion. It is growing by 75 million a year, and is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Nine of the ten countries with the highest growth rates up to 2050 are in Africa.
See also: 'Follow the Islamic way to save the world,' Prince Charles urges environmentalists
Today, there seem to be many vested interests in scientific consensus. Universities and science associations often make use of the concept when explaining the importance of science in society and in making pronouncements on issues of public significance. Consensus is relevant to funding agencies, who focus their awards on science that appears to be building on an existing knowledge base. It is a factor in peer review, for it is much harder to get unorthodox ideas past the journal review processes. It influences the media: who is regarded as an 'expert' and who should not get exposure because of their unorthodox ideas. How refreshing, then, to find the Royal Institute of Philosophy offering some cautionary words in an editorial:
"One of the most striking aspects of Karl Popper's philosophy of science is his insistence that scientific consensus is sleep inducing, intellectually speaking. He did not actually put it quite like that. What he pointed out was that the most successful scientific theory ever devised turned out to be false, even though it had been treated as scientifically practically unquestionable for nigh on two centuries. Popper was thinking of Newton's theory, whose refutation (as Popper saw it) in 1917 was a key moment in his own intellectual life."
Popper "called for a clear demarcation between good science, in which theories are constantly challenged, and what he called "pseudo sciences" which couldn't be tested. His debunking of such ideologies led some to describe him as the "murderer of Freud and Marx". [Some of us think the name of Darwin should be added to this list]." (Source here)
Even more welcome are the two examples selected of modern-day scientific consensus: "critics of the theory of evolution and of the reality of climate change". Although the public has been assured time after time that the "science is settled" on these issues, the guardians of these consensus positions will not be pleased by these cautionary words, nor by the judgment offered that the critiques "are not all or entirely without weight".
"Popper's lesson is little heeded today. Critics of the theory of evolution and of the reality of climate change are not so much argued with as vilified, excluded and marginalised in polite scientific and even political circles. It is what one might expect from a very powerful institution, like the medieval Church, but not perhaps from one ostensibly committed to critical rationality and the pursuit of falsification. The criticisms which are made of the theory of evolution and of climate change, as these things are currently and consensually understood, are not all or entirely without weight."
It appears to me that the philosophers are not making a judgment on the science, but on the quality of the debate. There are real issues to discuss - the philosophers can recognise that. Furthermore, they are not impressed by the way the defenders of scientific consensus are treating the critiques: ad hominem arguments, straw man arguments, much handwaving, smokescreens and even a refusal to engage with the real issues. Even saying there should be a proper debate can be dangerous:
"We hope that saying that will not bring a heap of opprobrium on our heads. But even if the criticisms were off the wall, those who take Popper seriously may still occasionally catch a whiff of the falsifying rat behind the painted and perfumed consensus."
A recent example of the lack of real debate can be found in the reception of What Darwin Got Wrong by Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. Here is Douglas Futuyma in Science (7 May 2010) in a review entitled: "Two critics without a clue".
"Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini show little familiarity with the vast literature on genetic variation, experimental analyses of natural selection, or other topics on which they philosophically expound. They are blithely agnostic about the causes of evolution and apparently uninterested in fostering any program of research. Because they are prominent in their own fields, some readers may suppose that they are authorities on evolution who have written a profound and important book. They aren't, and it isn't."
Another example is the ID prediction of functionality for Junk DNA, and the establishment Darwinists defence of Junk. An interesting report on some recent exchanges is by Jonathan Wells. This concludes:
"If one overlooks the nastiness, it is clear that there are some interesting issues in this debate. Conceptually, what does it mean to say that a segment of DNA has function? Empirically, what does the evidence show? One might think that professors Matheson, Hunt and Moran would address the conceptual issue calmly, rationally, and collegially. But they don't; instead, they stoop to misrepresentation and ridicule. And one might think that they would address the empirical issue by citing published scientific evidence. But they don't; instead, they simply proclaim themselves the only authorities on the subject."
What we are seeing is a warped science. Instead of championing empiricism and testing of hypotheses, the consensus scientists end up appealing to authority and treating the evidence lightly. They are making the same mistake as the Medieval Church.
Russia Church Wants End To Darwin School "Monopoly"
June 10, 2010
by Conor Humphries
The Russian Orthodox Church called Wednesday for an end to the "monopoly of Darwinism" in Russian schools, saying religious explanations of creation should be taught alongside evolution.
Liberals said they would fight efforts to include religious teaching in schools. Russia's dominant church has experienced a revival in recent years, worrying rights groups who say its power is undermining the country's secular constitution.
"The time has come for the monopoly of Darwinism and the deceptive idea that science in general contradicts religion. These ideas should be left in the past," senior Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion said at a lecture in Moscow.
"Darwin's theory remains a theory. This means it should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too."
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has proved divisive in the United States, where Protestant groups promote Creationism, the idea that God made the world as described in the Bible, and the "intelligent design" view positing an unnamed creator.
The atheist Soviet state, which collapsed in 1991, used Darwin to disprove religious teachings. The theory, which biologists say gives a verifiable explanation for how life forms develop through natural selection, now dominates in Russian schools as it does in science teaching in most countries.
Hilarion said the theory that one species could evolve into another had never been proved. Children "should know about the religious picture, the creation of the world, which is common to all the monotheistic religions," he said.
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran dissident, told Reuters Russian liberals would fight any attempt to introduce religious teaching into Russian classrooms, particularly in science.
"It's a dangerous idea and we will do all we can to stop it," she said. "We overcame Communism as the state ideology and certain forces want to replace it with Orthodox Christianity."
She said it was unlikely religious teaching would replace Darwin in the national curriculum, but it could find its way into some schools with enough pressure from the Church.
Hilarion heads the Church's external relations department. His lecture to Russian Foreign Ministry officials in Moscow was dedicated to fighting "fanatical secularism" of liberals hostile to religion, and called for dialogue with moderate secularists and cooperation with Catholics against common foes.
Orthodox Christianity is Russia's dominant religion and both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regularly attend Orthodox services.
Russia also boasts several large religious minorities -- including around 20 million Muslims in a population of 141 million -- which have at times expressed concern about what they say is the privileged place of the Orthodox Church.
Medvedev on June 1 signed a law making July 28 a national holiday to mark the Church's founding with the baptism of Prince Vladimir in Kiev in 988. Muslim lawmakers have since asked for a national holiday to mark the arrival of Islam in Russia.
Hilarion said other faiths should not be worried as the baptism holiday was dedicated to all citizens due to the role of Vladimir's baptism in the foundation of the Russian state.
"It is difficult to even imagine Russia -- if there would even be a Russia ... if that choice had not been made," he said.
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
It is not the same to eat your meal with a blessing and to eat it without a blessing. Every meal is the table of God, which God Himself has set for us. This is why it is necessary as a householder to thank God and to beg for His blessings.
Blessed food is more tasty and more satisfying while unblessed food is untasty, unsatisfying and unhealthy. On one occasion, Emperor Theodosius the Younger went for a walk in the surroundings of Constantinople and seeing the hut of a monk stopped and visited. The elder asked the emperor if he would desire something to eat? "I do," answered the emperor. The elder brought bread, oil, salt and water before the emperor. The emperor ate and drank and then asked the monk: "Do you know who I am?" "God knows who you are," replied the monk. "I am Emperor Theodosius." The monk bowed down before the emperor silently. The emperor said to him: "I am an emperor and am born of an emperor but, believe me, never in my life have I eaten so tastily as I have today with you." "And do you know why?" answered the elder. "Because," he continued, "we monks always prepare our food with prayer and blessing; it is from that, that bitter food for us is transformed into tasty; with you, however, food is prepared with much labor and you do not seek a blessing (from God) and because of that tasty food becomes tasteless."
On The Road: Traveling Back in Time
60 Minutes' Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson Reflects on Meeting The Patriarch
Dec. 20, 2009
Written by 60 Minutes Associate Producer Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson.
Last May I had the privilege of traveling to Istanbul, Turkey. We were heading there to profile the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I. I didn't know very much about him. For one, I always assumed the heart of the Orthodox Church was in Athens, Greece. Finding out it was in Istanbul, Turkey was the beginning of my history lesson.
My knowledge of Greco-Turk relations was also very thin and so learning about the fragile position the Orthodox Church finds itself in, in a country that is 99 percent Muslim was also an eye opener. As with all stories done on "60 Minutes" the first step is research; some stories require more than others and this one involved 17 centuries worth of research! I knew that I was going to see Istanbul; Cappadocia in Eastern Turkey, the Sinai in Egypt and our trip would end in Jerusalem. Overall our story was about the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church and the position of Christianity in the part of the world where it all began.
Seeing Istanbul for the first time is like walking into a giant museum; not only is it a beautiful city, but you somehow get a sense that things happened there a very long time ago. Turkey in general is a beautiful country with lovely people and such a rich culture. So I constantly had to remind myself that our story was about a controversial issue in Turkey which had to do with a minority of people - Turks of Greek ancestry - whose presence had gone from a population of nearly 2 million in the early 1920s to only 4,000 today. The story was ultimately about discrimination and the lack of religious freedom on the part of the Turkish government. Our profile of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was to be his first on a major American television network and his candor, calm and determination are qualities to be appreciated considering the risk he took in speaking with us.
A slight man in stature, his presence is that of greatness. My first encounter with him is one that I will never forget. I was filming some shots with my camera crew at the Phanar - the Church's headquarters in Istanbul - when someone from His All Holiness's office came to us stating that The Patriarch wanted to meet us right then and there. Because this meeting was not to happen until that evening, I didn’t feel I was appropriately dressed to meet him right then and there. We are so focused on people's perceptions of first impressions that I feared his first impression of me wouldn't have been so positive. I felt - and was - underdressed to meet such a person of his stature, but of course I couldn't exactly say 'no, I'd rather go back and change and meet him later.' So here I am feeling both nervous and shy, walking through these lovely corridors and through two doors.
I walk in and up from his desk Patriarch Bartholomew walks towards me, with his hand out to shake mine and as soon as I felt him, I simply begin to weep. Rarely have I felt someone exude so much goodness, and he just held my hand for what seemed to be a good, long while in the most reassuring way. I composed myself and was invited to sit down.
Someone brought in a treat called "Mastica" which was a sweet, white paste on a spoon in a glass of cold water. I watched as the others began licking their spoons, so I followed and as the Patriarch was licking his, I couldn't help but think that here we are, so relaxed and this man is fighting a battle of survival, the survival of his church. It was really quite surreal.
That evening we had dinner with His All Holiness and other members of The Church. He talked of his travels and his education at the Halki School of Theology, his family and his life. He spoke fondly of his parents and his siblings and growing up on his home island of Imvros. A lot of the conversation was also in French, a language he's more comfortable in than English. Bob Simon and I are lucky to speak it and that made The Patriarch feel more at ease.
After that dinner we were to catch a flight to Cappadocia in Eastern Turkey and His All Holiness was very keen to know what our experience would be there upon our return to Istanbul. He told us that seeing the small churches there would make us better understand why the heart of the Orthodox Church is in Turkey and despite what he feels are efforts on the part of Turkish officials to eventually squeeze the church out of Turkey, seeing Cappadocia would, to him, make us better understand why leaving that land is out of the question.
With barely enough time to rest after our arrival in Cappadocia, our adventure began at about 5:00 a.m. in a hot air balloon. It was my first time in one and my curiosity and excitement about what I was about to see completely overshadowed any fear I had of getting in a balloon. The landscape just took my breath away and yet I also felt as though I was on another planet, or on the set of a George Lucas film. Seeing these caves carved into the side of these stone mountains was something unimaginable. I wondered how the people who lived in these caves survived and yet the evidence is there that these places were lived in for what seemed to be a long time.
I was also surprised to see quite a number of pilgrims there, yet another eye opener that not everything only happens in The Holy Land. Hearing that most of the caves with were built in the late 4th to early 5th centuries and seeing these frescoes painted on their walls just simply rendered me speechless.
We headed back to Istanbul and thanks to our trip to Cappadocia we were better prepared for the formal interview with His All Holiness at the Halki School of Theology.
The Halki was shut down by the Turkish government back in 1971 according to a Turkish law that states that due to that country’s secular position, there can be no religious instruction. The Halki's closure is His All Holiness's greatest battle and he’s determined that in his lifetime the school will reopen because he feels that its closure threatens the future of his church. The school is on a lovely property located on an island called Heybeliada, part of the Princes Islands. We took a private boat to the island from Istanbul because I was told that when His All Holiness would take the regular ferry, many times he was ridiculed and even spat on by non-Christians. The school, built in 1844, is inhabited by about three monks who maintain the grounds with a handful of helpers. It is kept in immaculate condition, at the ready, in case the Turkish government gives permission to reopen its doors. Throughout our tour, His All Holiness showed us the empty dormitories, classrooms and library. By the time we sat down with him he summed up the Turkish government’s actions towards him and his church in one word: crucifixion. Aside from the sniffles heard in that room, one could hear a pin drop.
Following our stay in Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also sent us the Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai in Egypt. That was yet another trip back in time and yet so 21st century. Seeing Christian monks living side by side with Bedouins, in total harmony was also an eye opening experience. It was an issue of National Geographic coming to life! It was a very peaceful place and the monks were, for the most part distant, but some were also very friendly and excited to see other faces. Seeing the largest collection of icons, protected by these 25 men was just another mind-blowing experience. I couldn’t believe that I was sleeping in a place, at the foot of Mount Moses (its correct name, I’m told - NOT Mt. Sinai), where Moses came down with the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
The end of our trip took us to Jerusalem and I saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via Dolorosa… All of those Sundays of my life in (Catholic) Church all came to life during this trip; all the references to gospels and apostles were all now real in front of me and simply put, I felt like one of the luckiest people on Earth. What a privilege it was and I will never forget it.