Saturday, June 12, 2010
by James Le Fanu
The philosopher Thomas Nagel in a memorable phrase laments ‘the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life’ — where there is nothing too sensational, extraordinary or bizarre about the living world that cannot be accounted for as having evolved to be that way over billions of years by the same known materialistic process of natural selection acting on random genetic mutation.
This façade of knowing cannot last, of course, and 20 years or so hence historians and commentators will rightly wonder how science could conceivably have endorsed so simplistic a theory to explain the billion fold complexities of the living world — and for so long.
The impetus for that disillusionment can only come from within science itself, where it is probable that the current baffling perverse findings of genomic science will, in retrospect, be seen to have played the decisive role. To clarify.
For the best part of 60 years science has been seduced by the elegant simplicity of the Double Helix into supposing that the ‘secret of life’ might be knowable — were it possible to decode the genetic instructions strung out along its intertwined strands and understand the programme that makes an organism.
And from the mid 1970s onwards the massive onslaught of the techniques of modern genetics promised to do just that, culminating in 2001 in the ‘stunning achievement,’ as the journal Science described it, of spelling out the full sequence of human genes, the Human Genome Project, with its potential to ‘unlock the secrets of our genetic inheritance and our place alongside the other participants in the adventure of life’. Since then the techniques of gene sequencing have become faster and cheaper by orders of magnitude, ushering in the age of genomic science where the major research centres generating megabytes of basic biological data every week have sequenced hundreds of genomes encompassing the full range of the diversity of life; dozens of bacteria, fourteen types of fungi, nine different types of plant (soya bean, barley, cassava, rice and wheat); insects (mosquito, honey bee and fly); fish (fugu and zebrafish); several types of worm, the sea urchin and chicken and a whole menagerie of our fellow mammals — mice and rat, cat and dog, pig, sheep and cow and our closest cousin, the chimpanzee, with many more to come.
We should thus, by rights, as the journal Science anticipated a decade ago, be vastly more knowledgeable about those ‘secrets of genetic inheritance’ and particularly how the instructions encoded in those chemical genes strung out along the Double Helix give rise to that vast diversity of form and attributes that so readily distinguish bacteria from fungi, plants from fish, mice from chimps and from ourselves. Further, the opportunity to compare one genome with another should also have identified the myriad of small random genetic mutations that, as required by prevailing theory, provide the raw material for evolutionary transformation.
But that is not how it has turned out. Indeed perversely after a decade of genetic science we now know vastly less about such matters than might ever have seemed possible. And exponentially so, for every newly sequenced genome only compounds that ‘puzzling question’, as Steven Salzberg of the Institute of Genomic Research describes it, of the source of those ‘huge differences in physical and behavioural characteristics’ that so readily distinguish one form of life from another.
The most obvious of those ‘puzzling questions’ that he cites is the ‘gene number dilemma’ epitomized by the most astonishing revelation of the Human Genome Project — that we have roughly the same number of genes, a modest 20,000, as the millimeter long worm, C.elegans — that is fashioned from just 1,000 cells (compared to our 60 trillion) in all, has neither a circulatory system nor internal skeleton and a life expectancy of just two weeks. Since then every newly sequenced genome has added its own further twist to this surprising lack of any correspondence between gene numbers and organismic complexity — where flies and chickens, it emerges have a third fewer genes than the diminutive C.elegans while, at the other extreme, plants such as rice and soya bean have twice as many.
The further yet more ‘puzzling question’ is the revelation of the interchangeability of the master or homeotic genes across diverse species, where for example, the same gene that orchestrates the fly’s distinctive compound type eye does so for the very different mammalian camera type eye. That interchangeability across species reaches its apotheosis with the finding that we share 99% of our genes with a mouse. How so trivial a genetic difference can generate such diversity of form defies all explanation, other than to suppose it must be ‘something to do’ with gene regulation, ‘the turning on and off of genes at different times and places in the course of development’.
The implications are clear enough. Biologists could in theory sequence every living creature on the face of the planet, but this would only confirm they all share the same core set of genes that account for the nuts and bolts of the proteins and enzymes of the cell of which all living things are made. But beyond that the really interesting question — that of ‘form’ — what it is that so readily distinguishes the elephant from the octopus, fireflies from foxes would remain as elusive as ever.
The genetic instructions must be there of course because otherwise the tens of millions of our fellow species would not replicate themselves with such fidelity from generation to generation. But we are compelled in the light of these extraordinary findings of the recent past that we have no conception of why we should become so different from a worm or fly.
And the same applies though more significantly still to Darwin’s proposed mechanism of evolutionary transformation. There is, to be sure, persuasive evidence of a shared or common ancestry in the interchangeability of, for example, our genome with that of a mouse and our primate cousin — but beyond that the myriad of random genetic mutations that would provide a basis for the transformation of one form of life into another are nowhere to be found. “We cannot see in this why we are so different from chimpanzees”, observed Svante Paabo Chairman of the Chimpanzee Genome Project on its publication in 2005 — “part of the secret is hidden in there, but we don’t understand it”. Nothing has subsequently emerged to challenge that conclusion.
The standard scientific response to these anomalies and perplexities is to concede that ‘it’ has turned out to be much more complex than originally contemplated — which is certainly true. But nonetheless, the argument goes, the accumulation of yet more biological data, the sequencing of yet more genomes must eventually, like a bulldozer, drive a causeway through current perplexities. Perhaps, but more certainly, the reverse for the more that science progresses, the more genomes that are sequenced, the more striking the irresoluble discrepancy between the similarity of the genetic instructions and the diversity of the living world.
It might seem futile to enquire why this might be so, but the explanation must lie in that simple elegance of the Double Helix that for so long has held out the promise that the phenomena of life might be knowable. The simple elegance of its structure, on reflection, cannot be because it is simple but because it has to be simple — if it is to replicate the genetic instructions every time the cell divides.
And that obligation to be simple requires the Double Helix to condense within the one dimensional sequence of chemical genes strung out along its intertwined strands, those biological complexities that determine the unique three dimensional form and attributes that so readily distinguish flies from ourselves and the tens of millions of species living and long since extinct. The Double Helix's semblance of simplicity then becomes a measure of its inscrutable profundity or, as Phillip Gell, Professor of Genetics of the University of Birmingham anticipated so presciently 20 years ago, “the gap in our knowledge is not merely unbridged, but in principle unbridgeable, and our ignorance will remain ineluctable”.
There is in all this the powerful impression that science has been looking in the wrong place for explanations that somehow must lie outside its domain — some potent force that might conjure the richness of the living world from that monotonous sequence of chemical genes strung out along the Double Helix.
James Le Fanu's most recent book, Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves, is published by Vintage.
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Great and wonderful is the Mystery of Holy Communion. Even the anchorites [recluses] and hermits craved for nothing else as much as to be given the possibility to receive Holy Communion. St. Mary the Egyptian begged St. Zosimus to bring her the Holy Mystery on the Jordan and to communicate her. Returning from visiting St. Onouphrius, Venerable Paphnutius found a humble community of four young ascetics in the desert. When Paphnutius asked them whether and how do you receive Holy Communion, they replied that an angel of God visits them every Saturday and Sunday and administers them Holy Communion. Paphnutius remained until the first following Saturday and was personally convinced. When Saturday dawned, the entire community was filled with an indescribable wonderful fragrance and while they were at prayer, an angel of God in the form of a handsome young man, as bright as lightning, appeared with the All-Pure Mysteries. Paphnutius became frightened and out of fear fell to the ground. But they raised him up and brought him to the angel that he, along with them, receive Communion from the hand of the angel. According to his own testimony, St. Onouphrius received Holy Communion from the hand of an angel as did many other anchorites and hermits. Therefore, it is completely erroneous to think that solitaries and hermits did not receive Holy Communion. God Who provided for their bodily nourishment did not leave them without the Life-Giving nourishment of the Body and Blood of Christ the Lord.
Saint Peter of Athos, a Greek by birth, served as a soldier in the imperial armies and he lived at Constantinople. In the year 667, during a war with the Syrians, St Peter was taken captive and locked up in a fortress in the city of Samara on the Euphrates River.
For a long time he languished in prison and he pondered over which of his sins had brought God's chastisement upon him. St Peter remembered that once he had intended to leave the world and go to a monastery, but he had not done so. He began to observe a strict fast in the prison and to pray fervently, and he besought St Nicholas the Wonderworker to intercede before God for him.
St Nicholas appeared in a dream to Peter and advised him to call upon St Symeon the God-Receiver (Feb. 3) for help. St Nicholas appeared to him once more in a dream, encouraging the prisoner in patience and hope. The third time that he appeared it was not in a dream, but with St Symeon the God-Receiver. St Symeon touched his staff to the chains binding St Peter, and the chains melted away like wax. The doors of the prison opened, and St Peter was free.
St Symeon the God-Receiver became invisible, but St Nicholas conveyed St Peter to the borders of the Greek territory. Reminding him of his vow, St Nicholas became invisible. St Peter then journeyed to Rome to receive monastic tonsure at the tomb of the Apostle Peter. Even here St Nicholas did not leave him without his help. He appeared in a dream to the Pope of Rome and informed him of the circumstances of St Peter's liberation from captivity, and he commanded the Pope to tonsure the former prisoner into monasticism.
On the following day, in the midst of a throng of the people who had gathered for divine services, the Pope loudly exclaimed, "Peter, you who are from the Greek lands, and whom St Nicholas has freed from prison in Samara, come here to me." St Peter stood in front of the Pope, who tonsured him into monasticism at the tomb of the Apostle Peter. The Pope taught St Peter the rules of monastic life and kept the monk by him. Then with a blessing, he sent St Peter to where God had appointed him to journey.
St Peter boarded a ship sailing to the East. The shipowners, after going ashore, besought St Peter to come and pray at a certain house, where the owner and all the household lay sick. St Peter healed them through his prayer.
The Most Holy Theotokos appeared in a dream to St Peter and indicated the place where he should live till the very end of his days: Mount Athos. When the ship arrived at Athos, it then halted of its own accord. St Peter realized that this was the place he was meant to go, and so he went ashore. This was in the year 681. Peter then dwelt in the desolate places of the Holy Mountain, not seeing another person for fifty-three years. His clothing had become tattered, but his hair and beard had grown out and covered his body in place of clothes.
At first St Peter was repeatedly subjected to demonic assaults. Trying to force the saint to abandon his cave, the demons sometimes took on the form of armed soldiers, and at other times of fierce beasts and vipers that seemed ready to tear the hermit apart. St Peter overcame the demonic attacks through fervent prayer to God and His Holy Mother. Then the enemy resorted to trickery. Appearing under the guise of a lad sent to him from his native home, he besought the monk with tears to leave the wilderness and return to his own home. The saint wept, but without hesitation he answered, "Here have the Lord and the Most Holy Theotokos led me. I will not leave here without Her permission." Hearing the Name of the Mother of God, the demon vanished.
After seven years the devil came to St Peter in the guise of a radiant angel and said that God was commanding him to go into the world for the enlightenment and salvation of people in need of his guidance. The experienced ascetic again replied that without the permission of the Mother of God he would not forsake the wilderness. The devil disappeared and did not bother to come near the saint anymore. The Mother of God appeared to St Peter in a dream with St Nicholas and told the brave hermit that after he had fasted for forty days, an angel would bring him heavenly manna. St Peter fasted, and on the fortieth day he fortified himself with the heavenly manna, receiving the strength for another forty-day fast.
Once, a hunter chasing after a stag saw the naked man, covered with hair and girded about the loins with leaves. He was afraid and was about to flee, but St Peter stopped him and told him of his life. The hunter asked to remain with him, but the saint sent him home. St Peter gave the hunter a year for self-examination and forbade him to tell anyone about meeting him.
A year later the hunter returned with his brother, who was afflicted with a demon, and several other companions. When they entered the St Peter's cave, they saw that he had already reposed. The hunter, with bitter tears, told his companions of the life of St Peter. His brother, after merely touching the saint's body, received healing. St Peter died in the year 734. His holy relics were on Athos at the monastery of St Clement. During the Iconoclast period the relics were hidden away, and in the year 969 they were transferred to the Thracian village of Photokami.
St Peter once saw the Mother of God in a vision, and she spoke of Her earthly domain, Mount Athos: "I have chosen this mountain... and have received it from My Son and God as an inheritance, for those who wish to forsake worldly cares and strife.... Exceedingly do I love this place. I will aid those who come to dwell here and who labor for God... and keep His commandments.... I will lighten their afflictions and labors, and shall be an invincible ally for the monks, invisibly guiding and guarding them...."
Generations of Orthodox monks can attest to the truth of these words. The Mother of God is regarded as the Abbess of the Holy Mountain, not just in name, but in actual fact. For this reason, Mt. Athos is known as the "Garden of the Theotokos."
See also: St. Peter the Athonite and the Demons
Apolytikion in the First Tone
In the flesh you lived the life of the angels, you were citizens of the desert and treasuries of grace, O Onouphrios, adornment of Egypt, and Peter the light of Athos. Therefore we honor your struggles as we sing to you: Glory to him who has strengthened you! Glory to him who granted you a crown! Glory to him who through you grants healing to all!
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Having received the noetic and heavenly light in thy heart, O Peter, thou wast seen to be a most radiant vessel of the pure Trinity; and thou didst receive the grace to work miracles, and dost cry: Alleluia.
These miracles took place at Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos, whose gardens are patroned by Saint Onouphrios the Great.
1. A Miracle Performed To a Turkish Forester
This event was conveyed to me by Elder Christodoulos, when I was at the Saint Onouphrios Seat and was helping Father Hierotheos, who was a gardener, on June 12th, 1944. Father Christodoulos remembered this event, which took place during the Turkish occupation of Greece around 1910, and passed it on to honor the memory of Saint Onouphrios.
“During those days, when I was younger and while I was protecting the forest of the monastery, I met with a Turkish forester on my way up to Panagia. He was a government official. After we had been walking around the forest for hours and showing him the boundaries of the monastery, we finally settled here to rest and eat something. The Turk, who was of a strong build, had gotten very tired from our wandering and went down to the fountain to drink water. He was drinking so much, I do not even know how much he drank, and was very pleased. He was telling me: “A! Massialla, massialla, this is cold, this is good” and continued drinking. Not long after, he felt this strong pain and his belly bloated. The swelling was reaching up to his chest and he started crying and asking for help. But I did not know what to do. “I will burst, I will burst!!" he yelled.
Ah! What an ordeal! I turned and told Father Joachim the Cretan, you remember him, don’t you?
"Father he will die and we will be in trouble."
"E, so what! Do you feel sorry for the Turk? Let him die."
"But it is not like this. They will find us guilty, they will drag us to Thessaloniki and God knows how much the monastery will have to pay."
"Ok. What kind of medicine do we have here in the mountain? Do whatever you want. I do not want to get involved. Why did he drink so much, to burst?"
Then in my despair I remembered Saint Onouphrios. He is the only one who can save him if he wants to.
The Turk was lying down; was moaning, crying and was screaming for help. I went to the Saint’s icon and bowed down three times. "Saint Onouphrie, please help us, so that we do not get into trouble", I prayed.
I took the container with hagiasmos [holy water] and prayed in front of the icon with my knotted cord [prayer rope], asking faithfully for his help. I picked up the Turk, took him inside the church, placed him in front of the Saint’s icon and told him: “This Saint is the landlord of this house. Only if you ask him, with all your heart, he can save you from death. Bow to him three times, kiss his feet and drink from this holy water and you will be cured."
Whether he was scared or because of his need, he did as I told him willingly. He bowed three times, he kissed his legs and drunk from the holy water. Afterwards I told him: “Do not be scared. The Saint will cure you. Take a walk to the fountain and you will feel better." He was listening carefully and did as I told him showing perfect faith. And lo and behold, my brothers! The miracle was performed!
Fifteen minutes later, he came back totally healthy, while a few minutes ago he was half dead. He then happily and loudly thanked the Saint for the cure and bowed to him many times.
This is what Father Christodoulos told us and we marveled at how the Saint performed wonders even to the unbelievers when they devotedly ask for his help. That is the reason I thought I should recall this event to honor the memory of Saint Onouphrios the Egyptian.
2. Father Theodoulos Recalls a Miracle Performed by Saint Onouphrios
Father Theodoulos recalled an incredible miracle performed by Saint Onouphrios which took place two years ago, in August 1956:
I was planting onions at our farm devoted to Saint Onouphrios, with Anastasios, a laborer from Sykia Halkidikis. When the time came to leave, we loaded two big sacks of onions on the donkey and started on our way. I felt that something bad was going to happen to us. I told him to lead the donkey, walking in front of it until we reached the monastery because the road was rough and narrow. He didn’t pay attention to my words and said that the animal knew his way better than us. As soon as we passed the two benches and were heading towards the third, one of the sacks which were very heavy, hit the rock on the side of the narrow strip and pulled the donkey downwards towards the other bench. The donkey was trying to get up, but because it was carrying a very heavy load, did not manage and instead it fell into the void. He fell down more than 30-40 feet to the bottom of the river. Oh what a disaster! I thought the donkey had been killed. What was I going to say to the fathers at the monastery?
Then, I remembered the landlord of the farm and from the bottom of my heart I prayed: ”Saint Onouphrie, please help us; show us your love and perform a miracle so that the donkey is not killed." I continued praying with great grief and sorrow while we were very carefully descending towards the river bed. And what do I see? Glory be to my Lord for His astonishing wonders! Saint Onouphrios heard my prayers and appealed to the Lord Almighty and did not permit the animal to die. We found the animal well and healthy, standing on its feet while all the sacks had been thrown down.
When I saw this wonderful paradox I thanked Saint Onouphrios, who is the protector of this farm and who performs wonders to those who call for his help with love and devotion, for his intervention to our Lord. May also his appeal to the Lord help us secure eternal life and the happiness of the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen”.
Source: Λαζάρου Μοναχού Διονυσιάτου, Διονυσιάτικες Διηγήσεις, Έκδοσις Ιεράς Μονής Αγίου Διονυσίου Αγίου Όρους, β’ έκδοσις, 1988 (Monk Lazaros of Dionysiou, Stories of Dionysiou, Second Edition, Holy Monastery of Saint Dionysios, Holy Mount Athos).
First: Is there an extremist personality?
Second: Are there specific characteristics for the extremist personality?
Third: Can extremism in individuals be the result of genetic aptitude or of social and political circumstances?
This paper is not a comprehensive research but rather a journey to the different types of personalities to verify the researcher's proposition:
"Immoderation and extremism are not the inherent in certain personalities, for mere personalities cannot be extreme. Extremism is an intellectual ideology more than a psychological need. It is a separate idea which people choose and are attracted to mostly for social reasons."
Immoderation and Extremism
In this paper, we will discuss immoderation as a behavioral and religious concept which sticks to the highest lawful extreme. It is usually characterized by free thinking and sentimentality. It usually revolves around fear of slipping into error. The immoderate person often avoids those who do not share his attitude without attacking them.
Extremism is an intellectual deviation, as the religious principles are distorted and given an opposite value. Some people claim that killing, stealing and aggression are permissible when they serve the extremist purposes and ideas.
Extremism is a destructive behavioral deviation which holds the highest forms of ignoring the other without having an actual alternate plan for successfully applying change.
It is noticed that extremists all over the world come from different social classes and not from a specific group or class.
The extremist usually goes through a psychological remolding process where he is isolated from his inner self and community to be reshaped with the ideas and behavior of extremism.
What is the Personality?
It is an inherent behavior in the self which is transmitted through the genes and education, and it is unique in each one.
Each individual has a genetic aptitude to take up a certain way in life which agrees with the education received during childhood and adolescence. The result is an individual with unique traits (sensitive, suspicious, aggressive, narcissist, hesitant… etc).
The non-hereditary influence is not limited to the parental education but the personality is influenced by the ideas prevailing in the surrounding society and recently by the ideas of this vast world.
To prove the heredity influence, a study was conducted on identical twins (who developed from the same fertilized ovum) who were raised in the same environment but there were differences in personalities. This proves there is a difference in personality between one person and the other in spite of living in the same environment and having almost the same genes.
To show the influence of the environment, we say that if an American child is raised in a Saudi family in Saudi Arabia, he will be raised embracing Saudi ideas and behaviors, while his twin raised in America will have a different personality.
What is a Normal Human (the Normal Personality)?
There is no accurate definition or precise description in books of psychology and psychiatry for the normal personality. There are only traits of abnormal personalities. Whoever is not characterized by these traits is nearer to normality. One becomes closer to normality as much as these traits do not appear in his personality.
The statistical definition of the normal personality is the following: "It is the personality agreed upon by the community as having the most accepted behaviors, ideas and feelings." This reflects the influence of community in defining the normal personality. If a Jew feels superior to others, aggresses others to protect himself and exploits them even in unlawful ways, this person is considered to be normal according to the psychological definition of the personality. The community he belongs to agrees on certain characteristics and traits as being of the normal personality. The same applies to other communities.
What is personality disorder (the abnormal personality)?
It is an individual pattern of behavior and personal experiences which are different and abnormal from others in the same community. This is represented in:
1. Thinking strangely about himself, people and the events that surround him as in evaluating events and situations.
2. Having unbalanced feelings and reactions (feelings do not match the situation whether by over-reaction or under-reaction).
3. Having disorders in restraining oneself and in understanding his needs and duties versus the duties of others.
4. Having disorders while dealing with others due to some personality traits (such as intense suspicion, extreme pessimism, oversensitivity…etc).
Personality disorder is reflected in the functional, marital, social or educational productivity of the individual. The deterioration increases in highly disordered personalities.
Types of Abnormal Personalities
According to psychiatry, these are the types of abnormal personalities:
There are other less important types of personalities.
It is worth mentioning that these disordered personalities are found in 1-3% of humans. Their characteristics without the disorders are found in many people varying in degrees. The characteristics of more than one personality can be found in the same person.
We will review the characteristics of these personalities and try to search for characteristics of immoderation or extremism among them. Then we will ask:
- Are immoderation and extremism caused by a definite psychological disorder or an intellectual ideology stemming from dealing with political, economic and social variables?
Note that we are not studying the psychology of extremism as a behavior but we are studying the personality itself. I wished to clarify the goal from the start. That is why I have avoided talking about extremist groups, how they form and their characteristics.
The Schizoid Personality:
This personality is isolated, withdrawn and separated from reality. It lacks the interest of establishing close relations. It tends to individual activities and hobbies and is not affected by the criticism of others. It is also characterized by emotional coldness.
Due to the strong tendency towards isolation, owners of this personality have their own thinking methods. They derive their ideas from what they read and what is dictated to them more than from communicating with others, as their psychological structure refuses mingling and enjoys being isolated.
- It is not likely that this personality turns to extremism and immoderation. The lack of communication with others gives this personality the chance to reexamine its ideas and it may become immoderate, especially in the suitable circumstances.
The Schizotypal Personality:
This personality is characterized by odd behavior, disorder in perceiving reality and by having no definite pattern in life. It is the kind of personality which you cannot anticipate what it will do or how it thinks in new matters. The ideas of this personality are fanciful and have nothing to do with reality. Its behaviors are totally deviant from those living in the same circumstances. This individual's disorder is usually clear to others but he might embrace a certain idea and fight for it, no matter how strange it is.
- This personality may turn to extremism but the obvious disorder in its life aspects makes it clear to others that it is disordered, unless they lack the understanding or if the intellectual deviation concerns an originally correct idea.
The Paranoid Personality:
This personality suspects others without sufficient basis other than unreal suspicions. The paranoid is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates and with the level of trust given to them. He thinks others do not see the plots woven to ensnare him. He often avoids close relations because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him. Add to this that he bears grudges, is unforgiving of insults and tends to read hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into remarks or events in a way that annoys the people who deal with him. He draws suspicious links between events in a continuous quest to justify his doubts.
- This personality may turn to extremism due to excessive doubt inherent in it. His suspicions increase with the vagueness of social circumstances or political systems he is living under.
The Borderline Personality:
A borderline person has a one-dimensional character. He is an extremist in his ideas and concepts alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. He is an extremist in his relations wavering between excessive love and hatred just in few hours. He suffers from having no fixed self-image, impulsivity of his actions and emotional instability that precedes his ideas. He has feelings of emptiness, has no clear goals and is unable to control his anger fits.
- This personality is liable to extremism; rather it is extremity in itself. Due to its instability, it does not remain as an extremist but takes up the opposite course at the first emotional change with no need to be convinced.
The Narcissistic Personality:
It has a grandiose sense of self-importance and love. The narcissist believes that he is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people. He expects a special kind of respect to his own self and ideas from others. He is exploitive, extortionate and opportunist who takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends. He is envious, self-centered and can do anything to reach a position not to promote himself but to achieve his personal goals.
- This personality can turn to extremism not because of conviction but because of the worldly gains of embracing this idea. Soon he will abandon it if he finds his personal interests in another idea, regardless of the idea (He is centered on himself not on a notion). The leading extremists are of this type of personality more than the followers.
The Histrionic Personality:
It appears more frequently in women compared to men. These people feel uneasy when they are not the center of attention, and that is why they are excessively concerned with their physical appearance to attract others (for lack of a character). They seek admiration without being able to offer any profound thought or benefit. Their emotions are shallow and they are very much suggestible.
- This personality may turn to extremism but due to its emotional immaturity, its shallow mind and its impatience, it will be an extremist as long as others are interested in it. When people's attention decreases, it will seek another idea to fulfill its need of being the center of attention. The extremists of this personality are rare.
The Psychopathic Personality (antisocial):
This personality is characterized by an inability to conform to society's regulations and systems, lack of future planning and impulsivity. It is always violent, cunning, irresponsible and unable to learn from past experiences and lacks feelings of remorse. Most criminals who are merciless are of this personality. If some of them are intelligent, they may pretend to be pious or assume any other perfect trait in the society to achieve their mean goals.
- This personality may turn to extremism if the criminal behavior is going to fulfill its criminal desires such as stealing, plundering and killing. The level of extremity is determined according to the level of intelligence. What distinguishes the psychopathic from the extremist is that the first suffers from a disordered behavior from childhood and not from a sudden idea.
The Obsessive-Compulsive Personality:
This personality is characterized by preoccupation with details, inflexibility and rigidity in applying rules.
It is a perfectionist personality that shows excessive devotion to work on the expense of rest. It is characterized by an inability to depend on others for achieving tasks, rigidity and stubbornness. It usually adopts a miserly spending style, is over-conscientious and unable to discard worthless objects.
- This personality - like the previous one – may turn to extremism due to concentrating on minute things more than regarding the whole picture and due to the workmanship mentality instead of the reflective way of thinking.
The Dependant Personality:
A person with a dependant personality finds difficulty in making everyday decisions and carrying out activities without repeatedly referring back to others and seeking their advice. He has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of loss of support or approval. This person has difficulty initiating projects on his own because of a lack of self-confidence rather than a lack of energy. He feels uncomfortable when alone and urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends. He is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take decisions for himself.
- This personality may turn to extremism if people around it were due to lack of self-confidence and the inability to have independent views.
The Avoidant Personality:
A person with an avoidant personality avoids the functional jobs which require communication with others. That is why he avoids social interaction for fear of not being accepted. He always fears criticism in meetings and social gatherings and feels inept. As a result, he tends to keep silent while in company. It is a general feeling of inferiority.
- This personality does not usually turn to extremism because it cannot be disciplined or committed. If it turned to extremism, this will be for the same reasons as the Dependant Personality.
The Depressive Personality:
It refuses doing any action or activity due to its depression. It looks negatively to different aspects of life. These are the symptoms of depression embodied in a person all his life.
- This personality may turn to extremism due to its pessimism and missing the meaning of life.
The Passive-Aggressive Personality:
It tends to attack others in indirect and seemingly passive ways.
- This personality may turn to extremism if there is a personal gain or attack on others involved in extremism.
The Sadistic Personality:
It is the personality that derives its pleasure and joy from inflicting physical and psychological pain on others. That is why they seek the jobs that make harming others lawful.
- This personality may turn to extremism if it fulfills its desire to hurt others physically or psychologically.
The Masochistic Personality:
It is the personality that finds pleasure and joy when others inflict physical or psychological pain on it. That is why it seeks always to be harmed by others.
- This personality may turn to extremism if the desire for being hurt is fulfilled and if other members in the extremist group inflict pain on it.
It is now clear that immoderation and extremism are not the inherent in certain personalities, for mere personalities cannot be extreme. Extremism is an intellectual ideology more than a psychological need. It is a separate idea which people choose and are attracted to mostly for social reasons. An individual may become an extremist during some period of his life due to certain social circumstances that force him to behave in a certain way that he does not oppose. These behaviors may even draw him nearer to his country, group, tribe or religion. Social circumstances play an effective role if they were accompanied by feelings of injustice and marginalization.
We stress that extremism is not a religious trait. It can occur in any aspect of life provided that the suitable circumstances are present.
* This paper was presented to the Forum organized by King Abdul-Aziz Center for National Dialogue during the period 27-31/12/2003. More than 40 scholars and thinkers participated in the Forum.
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.”
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.
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.