Saint Triphyllios, Bishop of Leukosia [Nicosia], was likely born in Cyprus, and he received his education at Berit (Beirut, in Lebanon). He was very intelligent and eloquent. Being a time of persecution against Christians, it was also during this time he became a Christian. In spite of his excellent education, the Triphyllios returned to Cyprus and chose as his guide a man neither bookish nor learned, but one of conspicuous holiness and simplicity: St Spyridon of Tremithos (December 12).
Eventually Triphyllios was ordained deacon and followed Spyridon, who was Bishop of Tremithos. When St Spyridon travelled to Nicaea for the First Ecumenical Council in 325, Triphyllios accompanied him as his deacon. St Triphyllios was charmed by the beautiful palace, the majestic figure of the emperor, and the pomp of palace life. St Spyridon said, "Why are you astonished? Does all this make the emperor any more righteous? All of them, emperors and dignitaries alike, will die and stand together with the very poorest before the judgment seat of God. One should seek eternal blessings and heavenly glory."
Upon their return to Cyprus, the people of Leukosia requested that St Triphyllios become their bishop, thus becoming the first bishop of Leukosia. Their were still many idolaters in his diocese, so his preaching was very simple but filled with powerful conviction. His home was open to all day and night. He recieved the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the sick and gave them comfort. He served as a shepherd to his flock with much zeal and love, which was something he learned from his teacher and spiritual father, St Spyridon.
When Emperor Constantine II (337-340) fell grievously ill in Antioch, and receiving no help from the doctors, he turned to God. In a dream he saw an angel, directing him to a group of hierarchs. Pointing out two of them, the angel said that only through them could he receive healing.
Constantine issued an imperial edict, commanding the local bishops to assemble. St Spyridon also received this order, and went to the emperor with his disciple St Triphyllios. The sick one immediately recognized them as the healers indicated by the angel. He bowed to them and asked them to pray for his health. St Spyridon with a prayer touched the head of the emperor, and he became well.
St Triphyllios would often visit with St Spyridon while they both served as bishops. Once, they passed through an area of vineyards and gardens of special beauty and abundance, named Parimnos. St Triphyllios, attracted by the beauty of nature, considered how they might explore this land. St Spyridon discerned the thoughts of St Triphyllios and said, "Why do you always think about earthly and transitory blessings? Our habitation and riches are in Heaven, for which we ought to strive." Thus did St Spyridon lead his disciple toward spiritual perfection, which St Triphyllios attained through the prayers of his instructor. St Triphyllios had a charitable soul, a heart without malice, right faith and love towards all, and many other virtues.
Once, a Council of bishops assembled on Cyprus. The Fathers of the Council requested that St Triphyllios, known for his erudition and eloquence, address the people. Speaking about the healing of the paralytic by the Lord (Mark 2:11), in place of the word "bed" he used the word "folding-stool" [σκίμποδα*]. Impatient with the imprecise rendering of the Gospel text, St Spyridon said to St Triphyllios, "Are you better than He who said "bed", that you should be ashamed of His wording?" and abruptly he left the church.
In this way St Spyridon gave St Triphyllios a lesson in humility, so that he would not become proud of his own eloquence. St Triphyllios wisely shepherded his flock. From the inheritance left him by his mother, he built a monastery at Leukosia named Odygitria or Chrysodigitria together with a cemetary. Together with this male monastery he also built a convent for women where it said his mother served as a nun. It was at this convent that nuns travelling to the Holy Land would stop and receive hospitality both upon their going and their leaving. It is believed however that both of these monasteries were destroyed by Arabs centuries later, though some believe the present church named "Phaneromeni" is built over the Odigitria Monastery. The saint died in old age in about the year 370.
The Russian pilgrim Abbot Daniel saw the relics of St Triphyllios on Cyprus at the beginning of the twelfth century.
* A σκίμποδα (skimboda) was a sort of folding-stool or couch for travellers, invalids and sedentary persons. Socrates was known to possess such a stool or couch.
Apolytikion in Tone Four
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Triphyllios, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.
HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Triphyllios
by St. Nikoali Velimirovich
Saint Triphyllios while yet a deacon was he,
The Psalter and the Gospels he read;
And with a sweet voice, to the people he humbly read,
And Spyridon holy, attentively listened.
Once when in church, crowded with people
The chapter on the Paralytic he beautifully read,
How the gentle Lord, the sick one saw,
"Take up your folding-stool," said He and the sick one departed.
Triphyllios, the word "folding-stool", with the word "bed" substituted,
Then, said Spyridon: "My son, come to me!"
How, my dear deacon, do you change words,
The word which our gentle Savior uttered?
The word "bed" from His mouth came
And "folding-stool" you said, His word you omitted!
My son, this is a Book from on High inspired,
Therefore, everything as it is written in it, let us read.
Full of power, the Gospel words are
And weak and decayed human words are.
The "folding-stool" of man is not the same as a "beastly bed,"
Therefore, my son, say God forgive me!
Triphyllios the deacon, his error realized,
Bitterly repented and was much ashamed.
Triphyllios blessed, because of his spiritual father
Saint Spyridon, glorious miracle-worker.
Reflection of St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Meekness and kindness adorned our saints and it gave them strength and understanding not to return evil for evil. When Emperor Constantius, the son of the Emperor Constantine the Great, became ill in Antioch he summoned St. Spyridon to offer prayers for him. St. Spyridon, in the company of Triphyllios his deacon departed Cyprus and arrived at Antioch before the imperial palace. Spyridon was clad in poor clothing. He wore a simple woven cap on his head, in his hand a staff from a palm tree and draped over his chest he bore an earthen vessel which contained oil that was taken from in front of the Honorable Cross (which at that time was the custom of Christians in Jerusalem to carry). So dressed and in addition to that, exhausted by fasting and prayer and the long journey, in no way did the saint reflect his rank and dignity. When he wished to step foot into the imperial palace, one of the emperor's servants, thinking him to be an ordinary beggar, struck him with his fist on the cheek. The meek and kind saint turned the other cheek to him. When, with great difficulty, he succeeded to reach the emperor, Spyridon touched the head of the emperor and the emperor recovered.
** The above account is based on the Synaxarion of the Saint up until the 12th century, but a later manuscript from the 17th century reveals further details, which can be read here.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Saint Triphyllios, Bishop of Leukosia [Nicosia], was likely born in Cyprus, and he received his education at Berit (Beirut, in Lebanon). He was very intelligent and eloquent. Being a time of persecution against Christians, it was also during this time he became a Christian. In spite of his excellent education, the Triphyllios returned to Cyprus and chose as his guide a man neither bookish nor learned, but one of conspicuous holiness and simplicity: St Spyridon of Tremithos (December 12).
by Fr. Alexey Young
On May 29, 1453, the troops of the Moslem leader, Mohammed II , took the great city of Constantinople. For more than 1000 years Orthodox Christians had assumed that the Byzantine Christian Empire would stand until the Second Coming of Christ. They had always called their city the "God-protected City," and indeed, until now it had been protected by Heaven. But when their Emperor, Constantine XI, fell in battle, the holy city of Byzantium became the capital of a new empire, the Ottoman Empire, ruled by a pagan people, enemies of Christ and Christianity, the Moslems. It was a dark, dark time for Orthodox Christians in that part of the world.
In their violent hatred of Christianity, the Moslem Turks embarked on a course of persecution designed to effectively muzzle the flock of Christ. Their strategy was no less cruel than that of atheist communists in the Soviet Union today; the parallels are striking. Most of the churches of Constantinople (whose name was changed to Istanbul, just as years later Petersburg was changed to Leningrad) were converted to mosques. Their movable icons were destroyed and whole walls of inspiring and radiantly beautiful mosaics were covered with paint or plaster. Crosses were torn off domes and broken off the roofs of churches. The Moslems guaranteed Christians a definite place in Turkish society; but it was a place of guaranteed inferiority. Orthodox Christians were required to pay an annual head tax, like cattle. To the Turks they were unbelievers, and they had absolutely no rights of citizenship. They even had to wear distinctive dress. They could not marry Moslems, nor could they engage in missionary work of any kind; in fact, it was a crime, usually punishable by death, to convert a Moslem to the Christian Faith.
As if these measures were not enough, the Moslems actively undertook to control the Church itself. The Sultan ironically considered himself the "protector" of Orthodoxy, supposedly guaranteeing the existence of the Church, but actually keeping it in the vise of a terrible stranglehold. Under this system each Patriarch had to pay a stiff fee to the Sultan before he could be enthroned. Unable to raise the funds himself, the Patriarch was forced to exact a fee from each new bishop before installing him in his diocese, and this burden was eventually placed on the flocks. Taking advantage of this financially lucrative situation, the Turks forced re-elections of the Patriarch with undue rapidity. The majority of the Sultans themselves were sick, demon-ridden men, whose irrational rule and unbridled power only heightened the already demoralizing effect of Turkish rule on the Church. It is not without reason that an Englishman living in Istanbul in the 17th century wrote these words: "Every good Christian ought with sadness to consider and with compassion to behold this once glorious Church tearing and rending out her bowels and giving them as food to vultures and ravens."
The aim of Orthodoxy in the Ottoman Empire became, simply, one of survival. Little could they know, in 1453, that the heavy sword of Islam would weigh upon them not for a generation or two, but for five hundred years, five long centuries of darkness and difficulty. But even under such ruinous circumstances, God did not allow the light of Christianity to be extinguished. It was kept alive through the courageous confession of the New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke.
When speaking of New Martyrs today, one generally thinks of the recently glorified New Martyrs of Russia. But until just last year, the "New Martyrs" listed in the Orthodox calendar of saints referred to those men and women who suffered for the faith under the Turkish Yoke. Their lives are not very well known, and yet they are a rich catalogue of the diversity and generosity of the Holy Spirit acting in the lives of Orthodox believers in time of oppression and persecution. The following examples illustrate the image often used in their Lives which describes them "laboring like diligent bees, gathering the honey of virtue" as they moved through life towards martyrdom.
"Guard the deposit; keep safe what has been entrusted to you." (I Tim. 6:20)
St. Cyprian the New, for instance, was a pious monk from Mount Athos. After fortifying himself with Holy Communion, he went forth and found a Pasha (the ruler of a province). Straight way he witnessed to him that Mohammed was a false prophet and the enemy of God. The Pasha only laughed, thinking he was crazy; he ordered his guards to beat him and cast him out, which they did. St. Cyprian then went to Constantinople, to the Grand Vizier whose position was like that of a prime minister. There he attempted to witness to the Grand Vizier by sending him a written message about the Gospel of salvation. The Vizier thought the saint must be drunk, or mad. But when at last he realized that the saint was quite sober and quite sane, he ordered that he be beheaded and, as his Life says, as he was being led to the place of execution, "his face shone with joy; it was as though he hurried not to execution, but to a wedding banquet.”
St. Timothy of Esphigmenou is an example of a Christian who betrayed Christ and then returned to suffer martyrdom for his Lord. He was married, but his beautiful wife was abducted by a Moslem who added her to his harem after forcibly converting her to Islam. In order to get his wife back through the process of Islamic law, St. Timothy himself converted to Islam. His wife was indeed returned and they both secretly repented of having converted to Islam and returned to Christianity. Finally his wife withdrew to a convent and he to Mount Athos, where he became a monk and prepared for the day when he could descend back into the Turkish world, there to witness for Christ and accept martyrdom, which in fact he eventually did.
Sometimes the family of a martyr begged him to embrace Islam rather than die. In the life of St. Zlata, a pious virgin-martyr of the 13th century, for example, the parents and sisters of the saint implored her to convert to Islam, saying, "O sweetest daughter, have pity on yourself and on us your parents and your sisters.... Deny Christ just for the sake of appearances." But she turned and said to them, "You who incite me to deny Christ, the true God, are no longer my parents and sisters.... But in your place I have my Lord Jesus Christ as a father, my Lady the Theotokos as a mother, and the saints as my brothers and sisters." She suffered a particularly horrible form of torture and martyrdom, including thrusting a red-hot skewer through one ear and out the other, so that smoke came forth from her nose and mouth. The writer of her Life tells us that her sufferings were so terrible "that even the most stout-hearted of men would be humbled." This martyr, he says, "now dances and rejoices together with the prudent and prize-winning virgins in the heavenly bridal chambers, and stands at the right hand of her Bridegroom, Christ."
Another striking example of faithfulness to Christ and His Church is found in the Life of Martyred Monk James and his disciples. This Saint led a very pure life and was often vouchsafed to see angels during the Divine Liturgy. One day, while a guest in the home of a wealthy Turk, St. James declined the meat given at a banquet because it was the Apostles' Fast. This identified him immediately as a Christian. For such a holy one as this, the Moslems devised a particularly painful method of torture and death, which included wrapping bands of cloth around his head and twisting them gradually, crushing the skull.
There were many rewards given to those Christians who would convert to the Moslem religion. Sometimes these enticements worked and Orthodox believers gave up the struggle for the true Faith. St. John the Bulgarian was a young boy when he fell into the company of some Moslem youths and was led by peer pressure to renounce Christ and follow Mohammed. It was not long before he came to his senses and, overwhelmed with grief at having renounced Christ, he fled to Mt. Athos and gave himself up to a life of repentance. His conscience, however, would give him no rest until finally he set out for Constantinople in order to preach the Gospel. Dressing as a Turk - something forbidden to Christians - so as not to be detected, he entered a great mosque. There, in front of everyone, he made the sign of the cross and began to pray, witnessing to all that he had been a Christian and had fallen away, but that he had now been delivered from the error of Mohammed. Concluding with the ringing declaration, "Without Jesus Christ there is no salvation!", St. John was dragged out into the courtyard of the mosque and beheaded.
While many other Christians lived in daily fear and trembling, these noble warriors of Christ marched forth directly into the enemy's camp in order to boldly plant the cross of Christ like a battle banner. Penetrated by the very essence of Christianity, Christ Himself, they were able not only to endure the most frightful tortures - but also to be victorious. The victory of martyrs, however, is understood only from an otherworldly perspective, for they had deep in their hearts the words of Scripture:
"What will it profit a man if he win the whole world and lose his sou1? What can a man give in exchange for his sou1?"
To paraphrase the closing paragraph from the life of yet another confessor of the Turkish Yoke:
"Where are those Moslems who once saddened and despised the New Martyrs? Where are the mighty of the earth? Where is the Ottoman lord? Where the fearsome guards and Tartars who bound them and beat them and martyred them? Where are their pampered bodies? O! They are dispelled as a morning mist. The tombstone of forgetfulness has covered them. And in Jerusalem on high, in the dwelling where are found the blessed souls of the saints who lived in privation in this world so that they might pass through the narrow and afflicted way that leadeth unto life, there rejoices also with them the spirits of these much-suffering martyrs whom we remember today. They reposed in the Lord and received the reward of the labors and toils and pains which they endured for Christ, Whom they loved more than all the fleeting things of this world. And now, wearing crowns in heaven, they rejoice with the choirs of the saints and behold in glory the Prize-bestower, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. To Him be glory and dominion and worship unto the unending ages. Amen"
Source: The following article is condensed from a lecture delivered at the St. Herman Summer Pilgrimage, August, 1982.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ye who contended on earth for Christ's glory, and were shown forth as godly crown-bearing Martyrs, have been vouchsafed to dwell in Heaven joyously; for since ye brake all the snares of the enemy's cunning by your suff'rings and the blood of your tortures and woundings, ye ever send down freely from on high loosing of sins unto all them that honour you.
The present article is based on a variety of sources and principally on the biographies (vitae) of 172 Greek Orthodox Neo-Martyrs.
According to several accounts, from the conquest of Constantinople to the last phase of the Greek War of Independence, the Ottoman Turks condemned to death 11 Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople, nearly 100 bishops, and several thousands of priests, deacons and monks (Bompolines, 1952; Paparounis, no date; Perantones, 1972; Pouqueville, 1824; Vaporis, 2000). It is impossible to say with certainty how many men of the cloth were forced to apostatise. Nevertheless, many preferred martyrdom to apostasy, and of the above thousands, several have been canonized and raised to sainthood by the Greek Orthodox Church.
The 172 cases can be classified in 5 major categories of martyrdom. Some martyrs were accused of being political offenders and traitors to the Ottoman state; others were charged with being agitators because they had advocated a better treatment of Christians or because they had spoken on behalf of justice. For example, in the Metropolitan of Corinth, Ζacharias, executed in 1684, was accused of maintaining a correspondence with the Venetians. At his trial Zacharias insisted that he was innocent of the accusation but the Turks beat him cruelly. He was offered pardon on condition that he apostatise to Islam. When the Metropolitan refused, the judge condemned him to death by torture (Delahaye, p. 704). There are 15 more neo-martyrs in this category.
The second category includes martyrs who were native Ottomans and were brought up in the Islamic faith. For some reason, however, either on their own initiative or through the efforts of missionaries they became Christians. Α Muslim was forbidden to deny his faith on pain of death. The same rule applied to all Muslims whether by birth or by conversion. The Roman Catholic missionary Francis Lucas of Smyrna recorded the extraordinary martyrdom of 23 Muslim Turks who were put to death in the year 1649 at Thyatira, Asia Minor. In addition to the anonymous martyrs in this category, we know of five more. Some may have been of Christian ancestry.
The third class of martyrs includes zealous Christians who conducted missionary activity either among Christians trying to sustain them in their faith, or among Muslims and Jews. For example, the monk Makarios, prompted by missionary enthusiasm, decided to preach before a large crowd of Muslims in a market place in Thessalonica. He was apprehended by the Turkish authorities and was thrown into the prison. After several tortures, he was offered pardon on condition that he embraces Islam. When he refused to apostatise; he was beheaded in the year 1527 (Perantones, 1972, 3:325-526). Ιn addition to Makarios, 15 more were put to death because of missionary activity.
Closely related to the previous list, there were some idealistic men who aspired to earn the crown of martyrdom in imitation of the ancient Christian martyrs. The reading of martyrologies and lives of saints was popular in the Greek church under Ottoman captivity and it exerted an influence to the extent that some tried to imitate the early heroes of Christianity. For instance, Romanos, from central Greece, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. While a guest at the Monastery of St. Sabbas, he was inspired by listening to the Acts of the Martyrs, which was read during a meal in the monastery. He desired to become a martyr himself and his desire was fulfilled in 1694 (Delahaye, 1921, pp. 705-07; Perantones, 1972, 3:443-47). Four more belong to this category.
The fifth and most numerous category includes men and women who, for various reasons and at different stages of their life, apostatised from Greek Orthodox Christianity to Islam and later decided to return to their ancestral faith. Guilt not as an aspect of personality structure as psychological theory advocates, but a guilt, which arose from a precise kind of behaviour and from specific circumstances and events. Many of them, seeking atonement for having denied their faith, became martyrs. For example, Demetrios of Tripolis in the Peloponnesos as an orphan entered the service of a Muslim who converted him to Islam. Upon becoming an adult and reflecting on his apostasy, he left Tripolis and sought the advice of a spiritual father. He confessed his apostasy and was received in secret by the church. Nevertheless, he had nο peace of mind and felt the need to atone for his sin with martyrdom. He returned to Tripolis, where he presented himself to his old master as a Christian ready to wash away the stain of his apostasy with his blood. The outcome was that he was put to death on April 14, 1803 (Perantones, 1972, 1:163-65; Delahaye, p. 707). We know by name 52 more who sought atonement by martyrdom.
No less important are the 48 additional neo-martyrs who were condemned to death for diverse reasons. Some were accused of insulting the Muslim faith or of throwing something against the wall of a mosque. Others were accused of sexual advances toward a Turk; still others of making a public confession such as "Ι will become a Turk" without meaning it (Delahaye, 1921, p. 708; Perantones, 1972, 3:409, 421, 470). There are several more whose reasons for condemnation are not stated by the sources. Their names are mentioned but very little else.
The existence of neo-martyrs attests to a religious revival in the Greek Orthodox Church, which however did not take place in the seventeenth century, as a modem scholar suggests (Vitti, 1963), but in the eighteenth. Ιn fact most neo-martyrs were put to death in the eighteenth and in the first half οf the nineteenth centuries. Six became martyrs between 1453 and 1499; 22 between 1500 and 1599; 38 between 1600 and 1699; 51 between 1700 and 1799; and 55 between 1800 and 1867.
Most of the neo-martyrs came from the lower classes and from the provinces. Several professions were represented, including physicians, teachers, and of course, the clergy. But the majority was from various ranks: farmers, artisans, traders, secretaries, merchants, barbers, gardeners, grocers, sailors, household servants, travelling vendors, coffeehouse keepers, and more. The three tables added to this article illustrate the chronological period, geographical origins, and professional background of the neo-martyrs.
Thus, evidence unmistakably indicates that the Turks used both systematic and circumstantial measures to attract Christians to Islam. High political and socially prominent positions were granted to apostates in order to entice Christians to Islamic conversion. Exemption from heavy taxes, including the poll tax, was no less powerful of an enticement. To influence people from lower social strata, apostates from poor Christian families were given riches and honours by the Turks. For men there were some additional allurements to Islam, sexual hedonism, for example. Polygamy was forbidden by the Christian Church but allowed by Islam; concubinage was condemned by Church canons but it was a lifestyle for many Muslims.
TABLE 1: Chronological Distribution (1453-1867)
1. 1453-1499 = 6
2. 1500-1599 = 22
3. 1600-1699 = 38
4. 1700-1799 = 51
5. 1800-1867 = 56
TABLE 2: Geographical Distribution (Place of Birth)
[Ρlace of birth is not always mentioned.]
1. The Capital Constantinople = 14
2. Asia Minor = 24
3. Thrace = 13
4. Macedonia = 15
5. Epiros = 12
6. Thessaly = 6
7. Central Greece (Attica, etc.) = 11
8. Peloponnesos = 16
9. Aegean Islands = 19
10. Crete = 12
11. Cyprus = 3
12. Ιοnian Islands = 2
13. Non-Greek states: Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Rumania, Egypt Syria, Russia, Jerusalem) = 20
ΤΑΒLΕ 3: Distribution by Professions
A profession is not always mentioned. Only four were from wealthy and socially prominent families. Professions are listed as they occur in the alphabetical Arrangement of the neo-martyrs. Total number of professions represented is 35.
Artisans = 24
Clergymen = 34
Shopkeepers = 13
Civil Servants = 6
Physicians = 1
Merchants = 7
Ordinary labourers = 2
Servants = 11
Housewives = 5
Seamen = 5
Farmers = 12
Military men = 1
Apart from Turkish methods and means, there were historical events and religious trends that led Christians to embrace Islam. The progress of the Turks was perceived by some Christians as evidence that their God had abandoned them and was fighting on the side of the Turks. Religious syncretism was one of the most innocent seeming ways by which Christians were persuaded to change their religious creed. This trend was used extensively by dervishes in their religious mission. For example, Badral-Bin, Torlak, Hu-Kemal, and Burklud e Mustafa preached that there was harmony between Islam and Christianity (Vryonis, 1971, pp. 359-59; see also Delahaye 1921 for sources). Christians concluded that since there was a close affinity between the two, why not apostatise to Islam and enjoy worldly privileges as well?
Notwithstanding the material gains that Christians would have enjoyed by converting to Islam, the story of the neo-martyrs reveals that in the course of 400 years there were many who obeyed the dictates of conscience rather than the enticements of secular pleasures. The usual answer of the neo-martyrs to the courts, which offered them conversion as an alternative to death was: "Ι was born a Christian, Ι desire to die a Christian:" The story of the neo-martyrs indicates that there was no liberty of conscience in the Ottoman Empire and that religious persecution was never absent from that state. Justice was subject to the passions of judges as well as of the crowds, and it was applied with a double standard, lenient for Muslims harsh for Christians and others.
The view that the Ottoman Turks pursued a policy of religious toleration in order to promote a fusion of the Turks with the conquered populations (Bréhier, 1947; (Bruader, 1973, p. 769), is not sustained by the facts. Undoubtedly, many Christians, Jews, and members of other religious minorities converted to Islam voluntarily. But what alternative did they have if they wanted to improve their social status? These were those who did not want to be second-class citizens, rayahs or part of the subject class, and became Muslims in order to preserve their social status. That is, those people were not converted by the threat of the sword but by psychological and social constraints.
The relatively few neo-martyrs of the second half of the fifteenth century may be an indication of the rather tolerant attitude of Sultan Mohammed ΙI an attitude, however, determined much more by the horror, pillage, and the destruction which followed the capture of Constantinople. On the other hand, the small number of neo-martyrs between 1700 and 1760 reflects the better conditions and relative peace that prevailed in the Ottoman Empire.
Forced conversions, which also resulted in martyrdom, were often determined by the character and policies of individual Sultans, by internal problems, and by international events. For example, mass-forced conversions were recorded during the caliphates of Selim Ι (1512-1520), the madman's Selim II (1566-1574), and Murat III (1574-1595). On the occasion of some anniversary, such as the capture of a city, or national holiday, many rayahs were forced to apostatise. On the day of the circumcision of Mohammed ΙII great numbers of Christians (Albanians, Greeks, Slavs) were forced to convert to Islam (Finlay, 1877, p. 119). Of the 51 neo-martyrs of the eighteenth century, the overwhelming majority of them (39) were put to death between 1760 and 1796 that is during the Russo-Turkish wars. The great number of neo-martyrs of the nineteenth century is explained on the basis of international events, which affected the fate of the Ottoman Empire. The Greek revolt for independence provided additional ground and pretensions for persecution of Greek Christians. While at no time was toleration of Christians an established rule and it depended upon the arbitrary will of the Sultans and their subordinates, few judges and village rulers paid any attention to whatever privileges had been granted in theory to the rayahs.
Α few more observations. Α church, which was able to produce men and women with a living faith and a commitment to spiritual values and principles could not have been a moribund church, or a church involved only in ritual and concerned with barren tradition, as the Orthodox Church has been portrayed by Western Christendom in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was not solely an ecumenical brotherly gesture by the President of the Society of the Bolandists when he wrote: "The neomartyrs are the purest glory of the Greek Church, and before these generous witnesses to the faith which we hold in common every Christian should bow" (Delahaye, 1921, p. 712).
If it is true that the blood of the early Christian martyrs, under Roman persecution, became the seed of Christianity, as Tertullian remarked in second century, (Tertullian, 1931, 50), the blood of the neo-martyrs was not shed in vain, for it inspired and nourished Greek Orthodox Christianity under Turkish persecution.
(Excerpts taken from this study by Fr. Demetrios Constantelos)
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.