Friday, December 24, 2010
The Archbishop heartily thanked everyone and wished them all a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
December 24, 2010
The statements of Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus were deemed unacceptable in a statement made by the chairman of the Democratic Alliance, Dora Bakoyannis.
The entire statement of Ms. Bakoyannis:
"With astonishment I was informed of the unacceptable statements of Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, which are already doing their rounds around the world through the international media, which worked, more or less, the dire economic crisis plaguing our country into a Jewish conspiracy, and essentially denying the Holocaust both of the Jewish people and of our fellow Jews in particular, making further derogatory remarks of other crises'.
History is not rewritten on the basis of any bias. Therefore I appeal to the hierarchy of the Church of Greece to take up the matter immediately, because the statements of Metropolitan Seraphim not only puts himself outside the society of love which is the hallmark of Christians, especially Orthodox, but also tarnish the long and glorious history of tolerance for diversity and protection of all by the Orthodox Church.
Simultaneously, he brutally undermines the memory of great hierarchs, such as Damaskinos of Athens, who made every effort to rescue the Jews of Athens, and Chrysostomos of Zakynthos, who managed during the Second World War to save 275 Jews of the island.
In his statements, however, Seraphim of Piraeus, ignoring therefore that the Church is directly linked to the State, infringed the penal law of Greece, which strictly prohibits and punishes those who incite racial hatred and passions. But in this regard, Greek Justice has the power to rule."
Translated by John Sanidopoulos
December 24, 2010
"Racism and Anti-Semitism, from wherever and from whomsoever derived, can not express the faith and the consciousness of the Church. Especially in these days, Orthodox Christians do not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ was born a Jew, and nobody is entitled to insult the memory of 6,000,000 innocent victims of the Holocaust. From the manger of the God-man in Bethlehem where He was humbly born has dawned hope and light, not fear and connotations against anybody," said the Metropolitan of Dimitriados Mr. Ignatios in a statement in connection with the statements of Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus on Israel.
He also said that "The timeless conscience of the Church is expressed by the example of major prelates, including Archbishop Damaskinos, Chrysostomos of Zakynthos and our late predecessor Joachim, who each in their own way, and motivated by genuine Christian feeling, helped save thousands of Greek Jews. This is the tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church; follow this."
Translated by John Sanidopoulos
Some think this great saint was a Slav of Balkan ancestry. At the time of Emperor Nikephoros, Nicholas was a commander and had authority over a division of the army that went to war against the Bulgarians. Along the way, Nicholas spent the night in an inn, where he experienced a great temptation and had a strange dream. This dream fully came to pass in the war, where the Greeks were utterly defeated by the Bulgarians in the year 811. Nicholas was spared, and out of gratitude for God's providence he left his military rank and became a monk. He lived a long life of asceticism and became so perfect that he became a great clairvoyant and God-pleaser. He died peacefully in the ninth century and took up his habitation in the Blessed Kingdom of Christ the Lord.
A Reflection From His Life
Victory over temptation is victory over death. This is shown by a wondrous experience of St. Nicholas the Commander.
When this commander went off with King Nikephoros's army against the Bulgarians [Battle of Pliska], it happened that he spent the night in a wayside inn. The innkeeper had a daughter, a young girl, who, attracted by the imperial commander's outward beauty, began to entice him into sin. Nicholas refused her once, saying to her that this was enticing him into a satanic act. Nevertheless, the shameless girl came a second and a third time to the commander's room and again tempted him to an impure act. The commander refused both the second and third propositions even more decisively, counseling her to preserve her virginity and not to give her body and soul over to the devil. Finally, he said to her that he was a soldier and was going to war, and that it was unworthy and dangerous for a soldier to soil himself with such a misdeed, which would anger God and lead him to certain death. Thus, this God-loving man conquered temptation.
The following day, he moved farther on with the army. The next night, he saw the following vision: He was standing in a spacious field and saw near him a powerful man sitting with his right leg crossed over his left. Before them stood two armies in the field, one facing the other, the Greeks and the Bulgarians. This powerful man told him to watch carefully what was about to happen. Nicholas looked and saw the following: As long as the powerful man kept his right leg crossed over the left, the Greek army overcame the Bulgarian army, and when he changed his position and placed his left leg over the right leg, the Bulgarians charged and ferociously cut down the Greeks. Then this powerful man brought the commander closer to the slaughtered Greek army. The entire field was covered with corpses, body beside body. Only in the middle of these corpses was there an empty space, large enough for the body of a man. Then the man said to Nicholas: "This place was appointed for your body, but since you defeated the devil's temptations three times last night, you saved your body and soul from death."
That which Nicholas saw in his dream, he saw precisely in reality at the time of the battle. The entire Greek army perished on the battlefield, but Nicholas returned home alive, not to the barracks anymore, but to a monastery.
December 23, 2010
Two senior monks from the Vatopaidi Monastery, which has been implicated in an allegedly corrupt land-swap deal with the state, were yesterday given 10-month suspended jail sentences by an appeals court in Thrace for being moral accomplices to a breach of duty. Ephraim, the monastery’s former chief monk, and Arsenios, its ex-financial manager, were accused of colluding with Maria Psalti, the former judge of a first instance court in Rhodope, northern Greece, where tracts of land involved in the swap are located. Psalti also received a 10-month suspended sentence for delaying making public a ruling on the ownership of the land.
December 22, 2010
For fear of Islamic fundamentalism, textile workshops in Hebron and Jerusalem, produce and sell T-shirts and other items depicting the Church of the Nativity without the cross. Discrimination and economic crisis are forcing Christians to flee from the Palestinian territories and Israel. The risk is to see a future without Christians in the Holy Land. Interview with Samir Qumsieh, director of the Catholic television station Al-Mahed Nativity TV in Bethlehem.
This Christmas in Bethlehem, the cross has been banned from souvenirs for tourists and pilgrims in the Holy Land. Some textile workshops in Jerusalem and Hebron have begun to print and sell T-shirts depicting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem without the cross. Because of the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the Palestinian territories, the cross was also removed from t-shirts of football teams. Interviewed by AsiaNews, Samir Qumsieh, journalist and director of the Catholic television station Al-Mahed Nativity TV in Bethlehem, said: "I want to launch a campaign to urge people not to buy these products - he says - because the removal of the cross is an intimidation against Christians, it is like saying that Jesus was never crucified. "
Like every year, thousands including authorities, faithful and tourists from all over the world crowd, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem for midnight mass on the night of 24 December. It will be celebrated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and will be attended by the highest offices of the Palestinian Authority.
Qumsieh says that the population is living these days with joy, but the situation for Christians is still dramatic. According to the journalist, the dialogue of recent years between Muslims, Christians and Jews has not changed the situation.
"In the Holy Land - said Qumsieh - the emigration of Christians is growing, even if the authorities refuse to give precise numbers. Every day there are people who flee to other countries. As Christians, we live in a constant feeling of fear and uncertainty, and if you live in constant tension and pessimism you can not plan anything.
According to the journalist, "people leave because there is no work and movement is restricted under Israeli control." Other factors are the internal problems of Palestine, such as the clash between Hamas and Fatah, which has repercussions on the economic situation. Qumsieh points out that from 2002 to 2010 the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped from over 18 thousand to 11 thousand people. In Gaza, after Hamas came to power in 2006, Christians have fallen by about 3,200 units, from 5 thousand to less than 1800 in 2010. Only 15,400 Christians (2% of the population) live in Jerusalem, as reported in a study by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. They are 50% less than the 31 thousand registered residents in 1948, when Christians accounted for 20% of the population of the city.
The reporter says that if this exodus continues there will be no more Catholics in the Holy Land and that one day the Church of the Nativity could be turned into a museum. "If there are no more Christians in the Holy Land - he says – then there will no longer be Christians anywhere."
Meanwhile, on the occasion of the celebrations for Christmas, the Israeli military has ordered troops deployed in the occupied Palestinian territories to facilitate the passage of Christian pilgrims at checkpoints. The military has also distributed a brochure explaining the importance of Christmas for Christians and is urging soldiers to avoid unnecessary discussions and obstacles at the borders with the West Bank.
December 24, 2010
In a newly released Christmas guide, atheists recount stories of traditional Christmas celebrations despite secular leaders’ belief that non-believers should steer clear of the Dec. 25th holiday.
The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas features 42 celebrity freethinkers in the United States and Europe who open up and discuss a topic seldom associated to their ilk – celebrating Christmas.
The book, a compilation of several essays and short stories, reveals that atheists maintain traditions and fond memories linked to the holiday commonly associated with Christian beliefs.
Simon Le Bon, front man of pop band Duran Duran, states, “I love Christmas. I always have.”
Le Bon attended a Christian school as child and once considered himself a Christian. Although he’s now an atheist, he continues to celebrate Christmas in traditional ways, Le Bon shares.
“Despite having lost my faith, I still celebrate Christmas and I love church music. I go to church to listen to the music,” he wrote.
Jenny Colgan, an atheist and bestselling author in the Chic Lit genre, shares, “I’ve always been enthralled by Christmas.” Colgan, who was raised Catholic, describes attending mass with her children on Christmas.
“I take the boys to Christmas morning mass – where my mother is playing the organ – but they don’t know when to sit or stand or what to do, and I am unaccountably nostalgic for a life I never wanted,” she describes.
Robin Harvie, the book’s co-editor, explained that the book is not a “theological tract” but rather “a bit of fun to show how atheists and agnostics can take part [in Christmas] and enjoy themselves too.”
This seems to run contradictory to assertions by atheist group leaders who claim non-believers are closeted by the celebration of Christmas and recommend nonparticipation.
American Atheists President David Silverman has asserted that Christmas is forced on freethinkers, and they in turn, “Go along to get along.”
However, The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas underscores statistics that show many enjoy and celebrate Christmas despite religious and, or in this case non-religious, affiliations.
According to a Monday poll by Christian group LifeWay Research, over half of all atheists celebrate Christmas. Nearly 90 percent of all agnostics and 62 percent of individuals claiming other religions also choose to observe Christmas.
Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanists, expressed his displeasure in the numbers in The Washington Post’s On Faith column.
“I'm intensely conscious of how many of my fellow atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and freethinkers keep the Christian holiday in some form,” Flynn wrote. “I think they're all shooting themselves in the foot.”
He also asserted that celebrating the holiday will make non-believers disappear in the shadows. Non-Christians should “steer clear” of Christmas, he urged.
Yet atheists such as U.K. standup comic Ed Byrne admit, “I’ve always been a big Christmas mush, enjoying the sentimentality of the season.”
Perhaps the draw of Christmas to so many non-believers lies in its cultural roots. Spirituality blogger Frank Lockwood describes Christmas as a “smorgasbord” of Christianity, paganism and consumerism. Lockwood says the holiday is fueled by a belief in Jesus as well as beliefs in Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.
So it is no surprise then that some atheists in the book celebrate Christmas much like Christians: decorating a Christmas tree, exchanging gifts, caroling and attending church.
LifeWay Research Director Ed Stetzer acknowledged that Christmas has become a cultural holiday. “People participate in holidays or activities all the time without knowing [why],” he stated in an email. He conceded that the celebration of Christmas in modern times has nothing to do with faith.
The book’s featured atheists make it absolutely clear that they do not espouse religious beliefs. Despite frequenting church for church music, Le Bon clarifies, “I’m liberal; I’m just not religious.”
Colgan also describes how she tells her children, and how she herself believes, that Christ’s birth is simply a story people tell to justify winter celebration, no different from the pagan holiday Winter Solstice or the Persian god Mithras.
Also, many atheists do not celebrate Christmas in any form. In the book, BBC journalist Simon Singh describes his logic for celebrating the Big Bang theory on Christmas.
Still, Stetzer believes more people consider Christ this time of year, leaving an opening for Christians to share their faith. “Christians should be intentional about sharing Christ at Christmas,” declared Stetzer.
He insisted that Christians should also share the Christ message to staunch atheists who are rebelling against Christianity, not persuaded or simply do not have the faith to believe.
“As long as there is a fallen world, there will be atheists and Christians who take the message of Jesus to them,” Stetzer said.
By Fr. Geoffrey Korz
For Orthodox Christians in the western world, Christmas can create something of an identity crisis. While it is difficult enough to extricate a personal schedule from multiple pilgrimages to the shopping mall (a distinctly un-Christian aspect of modern Christmas), it is sometimes far more difficult to know what to make of Christmas carols and songs, and their appropriate place in the life of an Orthodox Christian.
None of us live in a vacuum. As such, the varied music of our culture almost inevitably finds its way into our lives, our memory, and our heart. Orthodox liturgical music represents the central place of music in the life of any faithful Orthodox Christian: it is music suited for the right worship of God, and comes to us through the life and experience of the countless holy ones that make up the communion of saints.
For this reason, Christmas carols and songs certainly do not have a place in the liturgical life of the Church: most are not dogmatically helpful or clear, and they have never formed a part of the hymnody used by the saints of the Church, as it has been given to the faithful.
The question for Orthodox Christians is, what is the place of Christmas music in life outside liturgical services? Since most people – including most Orthodox Christians – listen to, sing, or play some type of music beyond liturgical music, this becomes a question of which carols are appropriate.
Most of the Christmas carols that have come to us in the English language date from the 1700s and 1800s, and offer narratives of the Gospel accounts of the Nativity of Christ. While these usually use archaic English in a creative way, they are certainly faithful witnesses to the Gospel. We can think of favourites such as Angels We Have Heard on High, Away in a Manger, or God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, which raise little question in their suitability for an after-supper carol sing in an Orthodox home. Other traditional carols convey the story of events close to the Nativity of the Lord: the traditional Advent Latin melody O Come, O Come, Emmanuel dates to near pre-Schism times (the early 12th century, in this case), and can almost be described as a song from an Orthodox culture. The Coventry Carol tells the tragic tale of the massacre of the innocents described in the second chapter of Saint Matthew. The Twelve Days of Christmas provides a catechism of Roman Catholic origin that counters iconoclasm during the Protestant era in England. The symbolism of the carol is still useful today to teach Orthodox children (and adults) about the four "calling birds" of the Evangelists, and the three "golden rings" of the Holy Trinity.
Some carols offer poetic allusions to Gospel or other Scriptures. Songs such as Ding Dong Merrily on High, We Three Kings, Joy to the World, and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night, are artistic folk songs of their time, and warmly tell parts of the Nativity story. Although not written by an Orthodox Christian, The Holly and the Ivy offers a Christian understanding of pagan symbols that would be familiar to many Slavic Orthodox. Even the famous carol, Hark The Herald Angels Sing by the Protestant preacher Charles Wesley, provides poetry relating to the Gospel in a way that does not contradict an Orthodox understanding.
Historical fiction such as The Little Drummer Boy offers a creative expression of a simple encounter with Christ. Similarly, Christmastime tales of the life of an Orthodox saint like Good King Wenceslas (who died as a martyr at the hands of his pagan brother Boleslaus) provide a small sample of the lives of the saints which faithful Orthodox Christians should read each day.
Some carols have become popular because of a certain sentimentality they elicit, rather than their doctrinal helpfulness. Songs such as O Holy Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night, and "What Child Is This?" may not have much content that could be questioned by Orthodox Christians, yet their sentimental tone seems to lack something of an Orthodox spirit. The enjoyment of Christmas carols certainly must go beyond mere musical critique, however, carols like these were clearly born out a very emotional world quite foreign to the world of the Orthodox Church.
Some "carols" are actually openly heretical. The 19th century song, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, is a case in point. Written by a Unitarian minister, the song explicitly sets out to popularize the idea that one can celebrate Christmas without the reality that God took on human flesh, expunging any supernatural references, and making a "miracle" out of the birth of a "great man." The lesser known Seven Joys of Mary articulates a Roman Catholic teaching that includes the "crowning" of the Mother of God in Heaven, a teaching that emerged in the Latin west long after her departure from the Orthodox Church.
There are other, particular cases. The 1962 song, Do You Hear What I Hear?, was allegedly written as an appeal for the de-escalation of the Cuban Missile Crisis, using the imagery of the Nativity story being proclaimed by people of high and low estate. Secular wintertime folk songs, such as Deck the Halls and Jingle Bells, really cannot be called Christmas carols, since they are made up of pure Victorian nostalgia, and have no Christian content. Silly, modern secular songs such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree have little at all to do with Christmas, and even less to do with aspiring to emulate the best offerings of western civilization.
In his letter to the Philippians (4:8), Saint Paul tells us to hold to everything that is good. A wonderful variety of Christmas carols that affirm the truth of the Gospel, and the Nativity of Christ, have come down to us in the English language, and are entirely suitable for use in the homes of Orthodox Christians. At the same time, silly songs or those that teach false things, should not really be confused with Christmas, a feast that celebrates God’s great gift to the world, in the incarnation of His Son.
Apart from the Resurrection, this is the single greatest event in human history, and it gives us our very identity as Christians – and identity which solves any identity crisis we might ever face in our lives. We should celebrate it at every opportunity.
For other perspectives on this topic, read here.
December 24, 2010
The Istanbul City Hall is to restore the Bulgarian "St. Stefan" church, the Bulgarian news agency BTA reports Friday, citing Turkish media.
The works are to being as soon as possible while 60% of the funds will come from Turkey's Regions Directorate and the rest will be financed by the City Hall.
The Bulgarian "Saint Stephen" Church, also known as the Bulgarian Iron Church, is a Bulgarian Orthodox church in Istanbul, Turkey, famous for being made of cast iron. The parts were manufactured in Vienna and then transported via the Danube River to Bulgaria and through the Black Sea to Istanbul. The Church was inaugurated in 1898 by Exarch Joseph and marks the beginning of the Bulgarian exarchate.
According to a legend, Sultan Abdul Azis, was not inclined to let Bulgarians have their own church, but yielded to the pressure under one condition – for the church to be built only in a month. Bulgarians found the solution by making the church from cast iron.
In the last few years, the Bulgarian State and the Istanbul City Hall have made significant efforts to raise funds for the church's renovation and maintenance, but those funds are still insufficient. The 110th anniversary of the iron church was celebrated at the end of 2008.
I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.
The Angels sing!
The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!
The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!
The Seraphim exalt His glory!
All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of Justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged…
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.
And behold kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings, He might perfect praise;
children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
fisherman, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant; and that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.
Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of the pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ. For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing: Glory to God in the Highest; and with the shepherds, and on earth peace to men of good will.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
1. "A day wasted on others is not wasted on one's self."
2. "A loving heart is the truest wisdom."
3. "Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door."
4. "Credit is a system whereby a person who can not pay gets another person who can not pay to guarantee that he can pay."
5. "Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true."
6. "Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts."
7. "I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time."
8. "It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations."
9. "It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away."
10. "No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else."
11. "Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
12. "Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you've conquered human nature."
13. "There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart."
14. "Vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess!"
15. "Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers, and are fatuous preservers of youthful looks."
16. "'Tis love that makes the world go round, my baby."
17. "There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread."
18. "The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life."
19. "The American elite is almost beyond redemption. . . . Moral relativism has set in so deeply that the gilded classes have become incapable of discerning right from wrong. Everything can be explained away, especially by journalists. Life is one great moral mush--sophistry washed down with Chardonnay. The ordinary citizens, thank goodness, still adhere to absolutes. . . . It is they who have saved the republic from creeping degradation while their 'betters' were derelict."
20. "There is nothing good or evil save in the will."
21. "Minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled, ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort."
22. "We forge the chains we wear in life."
23. "Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!"
24. "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
25. "God bless us every one."
December 23, 2010
On the occasion of the concerns raised by the European Jewish Congress with regard to my interview with the MEGA television channel on the 20th of December, I have to say the following:
1. The things I said during my television appearance on the show "Society Hour Mega" are strictly my personal views and opinions of which I have repeatedly expressed my position verbally and in writing.
2. I respect, revere and love the Jewish people like any other people of our world according to the teaching of the incarnated Son of God and the true Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior and Redeemer, who was heralded by all the Prophets and was incarnated through the Jewish nation.
3. My public vehement opposition against International Zionism refers to the organ that is the successor of the "Sanhedrin" which altered the faith of the Patriarchs, the Prophets and the Righteous of the Jewish nation through the Talmud, the Rabbinical writings and the Kabbalah into Satanism, and always strives vigorously towards an economic empire set up throughout the world with headquarters in the great land beyond the Atlantic for the prevalence of world government and pan-religion.
4. I consider like any sane person on the planet the Nazi regime and the paranoid dictator Adolf Hitler as horrible criminals against humanity and take a stand with all honor and respect against the Jewish Holocaust and any other heinous genocide such as that of the Pontic Greek and Armenian people. Besides, the Greek nation mourns thousands of martyrs from the criminal Nazi atrocities.
+ The Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has publicly condemned such rhetoric also in a statment made today.
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE DECRIES ANTI-SEMITIC RHETORIC
NEW YORK – In response to the recent anti-Semitic rhetoric that has been unfortunately used publicly by a Hierarch of the Church of Greece, the Holy Archdiocese of America condemns any such language, and expresses its sadness that these hurtful words should have been spoken at all. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America considers the remarks to be gravely offensive and totally unacceptable.
As a leader in Interfaith Dialogue, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese affirms its longstanding and positive relations with the Jewish Community here and abroad, and grieves with them at this incident, which is not expressive of the feelings and attitude of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and worldwide, and the Greek Nation. In this Holy Season that celebrates peace and good will among all peoples, we pray that, with God’s grace and help, mutual respect, understanding and love will prevail.
Saints Theodulus, Saturninus, Euporus, Gelasius, Eunician, Zoticus, Pompius, Agathopus, Basilides and Evaristus suffered for Christ during the third century under the emperor Decius (249-251). The prefect of Crete, also named Decius, fiercely persecuted the Church, and arrested anyone who believed in Christ. Once, ten Christians were brought before him from various cities of Crete, who at the trial steadfastly confessed their faith in Christ and refused to worship idols.
For thirty days they were subjected to cruel tortures, and with the help of God they all persevered, glorifying God. Before their death they prayed that the Lord would enlighten their torturers with the light of the true Faith. Since pain did not influence them, the saints were beheaded.
St Paul of Constantinople (November 6) visited Crete about a hundred years later. He took the relics of the holy martyrs to Constantinople to serve as a protection for the city, and a source of blessings for the faithful.
The Miracle of 1898
In the south-west end of the village Holy Ten, in the location known as Alonia (the threshing floor), the residents of the village created a small lake which was fed by the nearby river "Litheos tis Keras". At this lake the villagers watered their animals. Because the waters of the lake were standing, most of the time they looked dark. As the time passed, the villagers noticed that the waters had therapeutic qualities. The story of the young shepherd in 1898 and the miracle which is associated with him confirm the above belief.
A young shepherd who used to take his flock to graze in the area where the ten martyrs were, at one time, got very sick. He was so sick and had such a high fever that he was unable even to walk. He had no one to help him and so he started praying to the Holy Ten to help him. And behold, the miracle happened. The Holy Ten appeared to him and advised him to go to the lake and drink from its water and he would be healed. The young shepherd obeyed the order of the Saints, went to the lake, drank from its water and his fever disappeared immediately. Very happy for his healing he went to the village and announced to the villagers his miraculous healing. Since that time the lake became a healing place. Many Cretans from all over Crete, as well as people from other areas went there and after they bathed in the lake they were healed. The elders of the village mentioned all the miracles that were associated with the lake to the Spiritual Father of the Monastery of Koudoumas. He, in turn, informed the local Bishop, Vassilios Markakis, who decided to go to the location in 1902 and after he studied the area he decided to dry the Holy Lake with the firm belief that under the lake there must have been a Holy Place. The intuition of the Bishop proved true. At the bottom of the lake the tombs of the Holy Ten were discovered. Immediately Bishop Vassilios built on the spot a small Byzantine Church dedicated to the memory of the Holy Ten. Since then that holy and blessed place is known as the " Holy Lake".
Read more about the Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete here.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Let us now honour Crete, that land most marvellous, which sprouted forth the ten flowers revered by all, those goodly pearls of Christ our God, those verdant boughs of the Martyrs; for although they were but ten, the most blessed men put to shame the ten thousand armoured host of the wicked demonic ranks. And hence, they have received crowns of glory as stout-hearted Martyrs of Christ Saviour.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Shining like a morning star, the Martyrs' contest, worthy of all reverence, hath shown beforehand unto us Him that was born in a lowly cave, and Whom the Virgin conceived without seed of man.
Let all the faithful honor with hymns and praise Crete's Ten Martyrs of Christ, who valiantly endured the tortures of the tyrants and shed their blood at the hands of the lawless.
December 21, 2010
Rustam Sarachev should have had a hangover the first time he set foot in the central mosque here. He had wanted to throw a raucous party the night before, a send-off for himself on his way to Islam. But the guys he was with had mocked him for even thinking about the mosque, and had gone off drinking on their own.
So here he was, regretfully clearheaded in the daylight, 500 rubles unspent on vodka and still in his pocket, heading up the steps of the big salmon-colored mosque that dominates one end of this minor oil city east of the Volga.
It was late September 2006, the beginning of Ramadan. As he looks back on it now, he remembers that he wasn't sure why he had decided to come, or what to expect. He was 17, at loose ends, a self-described hooligan, a troublemaker, starting to get hardened by a life that was heading for the verges of the law, yet still vulnerable to the insults and disdain that seek out young men with no future here.
When he walked through the great double door of the mosque, he was taking his first steps toward joining an intense Islamic revival here in the Muslim heartland of Russia that is drawing particular strength from its young people.
Sarachev was 2 years old when the Soviet Union collapsed, 5 when the first war in Chechnya broke out, 12 on 9/11. His whole life has been an era of cataclysms, of an old world being torn apart, of war against Muslims, at home and abroad. Old identities, old certainties, have proved empty. And now he was joining others here of his own generation who are finding, in religion, an alternate authority. They are joining a global community, and at a time when great passions are stirring that community.
They learn at the mosque that Allah is punishing Iraqis for their heresies. They learn that 9/11 was carried out by American agents, or maybe agents from somewhere else, to provoke a war against Muslims. But they learn, too, that those who want to go and join the fight in Afghanistan, or Pakistan - and young men who aimed to do precisely that have passed through Almetyevsk - are in error. This is not the time. Islam needs them here, in Russia.
Their faith, in any case, is not ignited by politics. If it were, the Russian authorities would have cracked down on the mosque long ago. Sarachev came up those steps, on that day four years ago, not out of anger but in search of a way out of the pointlessness of his own life.
Built in the 1990s with Saudi backing, the mosque makes a strong physical statement. Inside, it features intricate woodwork, handsome red and green carpets and painstakingly assembled blue tile mosaics. On holidays, believers pack its services. During afternoon prayers, as they face to the southwest, toward Mecca, a window to their right might give them glimpses of a glorious pearly pink sky, otherworldly almost, even as the setting sun glints off the five golden domes of the Orthodox church across the way.
"I was shocked," remembers Sarachev. "I couldn't understand where I was. There were only young people, all around. They treated me so well. I'd never been welcomed like that before."
He saw familiar faces. Almas Tikhonov, who had been a big partier and a roughneck, and then had dropped from sight, was there, praying. Sarachev was impressed by the way Almas looked; there was a compelling serenity about him.
In the days that followed, that picture lingered in Sarachev's mind. He decided to go back to the mosque, and then again, and again. He had to endure the jibes of his old friends, and that was hard - but maybe it stiffened his resolve, too. As he began to see them in a new light, it made it simpler to give up the drinking, the hanging out on street corners, the sneaking off to a village where they could party all night, away from parents' eyes. Sarachev eventually came to understand that the world is full of devils, and that the duty of a good Muslim is to overcome those devils.
And somewhere here, he knows, though he's still working it through in his own mind, lies the meaning of jihad. "It's a struggle against those who don't believe," he says. "It's not a test. Jihad is a war."
Read the rest here.
December 21, 2010
The Sydney Morning Herald
It was the ultimate post-modern attack, the crash of planes into one of New York's most recognisable landmarks, recorded in bursting colour by television on September 11, 2001.
The ideas underpinning the attacks could be explained by the tremendous force of conspiracy theory. In al-Qaeda's case, its belief that the trajectory of world affairs and modern history in general could, in part, be explained by the West's desire to dominate Muslims.
In the classification of conspiracy theories, the belief is not unlike that of Hitler and National Socialism, for it sought to explain economic and political problems in a specific group's perceived exploitation of another.
Advertisement: Story continues below The year is ending with WikiLeaks, the release of diplomatic cables which, for the most part, are rather bland and show US diplomats essentially doing their job. But perhaps the greater significance of the leaks will be to reinforce a view among many that the world's levers are pulled by a shadowy elite seeking to deceive or oppress the majority for their own ends.
To further bookend the arc of a decade through the lens of conspiracy, both WikiLeaks and the September 11 attacks are now being linked by some, albeit fringe, elements who see Julian Assange's arrest as part of a plot to ensure the truth about the World Trade Centre attacks is not exposed.
In the mid-1990s, the American sociologist Ted Goertzel surveyed thousands of residents across the United States to appraise their acceptance or rejection of popular conspiracy theories. Goertzel identified three traits that correlated with such beliefs.
They were the experience of anomia - the respondent stated that he or she felt alienated or disaffected by "the system", a tendency to distrust others and a feeling of insecurity regarding continued employment.
Goertzel concluded that conspiracy theories served to provide an enemy to blame for problems that otherwise appeared too abstract and impersonal. They also provided ready answers for the believer's unanswered questions and helped to resolve contradictions between known "facts" and an individual's belief system.
We live at a time where the factors that make people vulnerable to conspiracy theories are arguably at their peak. The notion of anomie could be measured by the massive uptake in psychological services and the growing proportion of people living alone. The decline in trust could be measured by our decades-long fall in joining civic groups, as outlined by the professor turned federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh in his book Disconnected. And modern work has shifted, perhaps permanently, to a more casual, liquid relationship between employer and employee, a trend exacerbated by the financial crisis.
This bodes poorly for the prospect of reason trumping emotion and fear in public debate. For all the pundits that decried the vacuity of debate surrounding our recent federal election, perhaps the politicians and their advisers were just acting sensibly. As the former premier Bob Carr told me recently, it is an enormous political risk these days for a political leader or party to really stand for something.
A closely related theory is that of cognitive dissonance, pioneered by a psychologist in the 1950s, who followed a housewife who was convinced the apocalypse was coming after she received messages from aliens. Leon Festinger followed the housewife and her many followers to see their reaction when the date of the apocalypse, December 21, arrived. On the night of December 20, they assembled in the housewife's home only to find there were no aliens.
While some of the group cried in disappointment, their trusty leader informed them that she just received a new telegram from outer space that the group's gathering and stubborn faith had flooded the world with such goodness that it prevented the apocalypse. The group became more emboldened in its beliefs thereafter.
In other words, the notion of dissonance is that we have a tendency to react to being proven wrong by becoming even more certain that we are right.
In our information age this problem is getting worse, for the internet can allow us to find "evidence" for almost any belief, promoting a Balkanisation of our society. This is already apparent in the fragmentation of media consumption.
There is no doubt WikiLeaks and Assange are worth celebrating. Their computing brilliance has resulted in some of the era's best journalism exposes. But the idea that there is some new transparency that is shifting the relationship between governments and the citizenry is far fetched. What is more likely is that a more fractured, tense engagement between opposing sides is now the new norm, promoted by rigid views on all sides reinforced by their equally blinkered media supporters. The psychological basis for this is a greater preponderance for conspiracy theory and its mental ally, cognitive dissonance. The information age is merely making the voice of reason more stifled and more relative.
If Tony Abbott believes he can be more polite and civilised next year in political debate, I wish him luck. History may not be on his side.
December 22, 2010
London Daily Telegraph
The mayor of a French village has threatened to call in the army to seal it off from an influx of New Age fanatics and UFO watchers who are convinced it is the only place on Earth that will be spared Armageddon in 2012.
Bugarach, population 189, is a peaceful, picturesque farming community in the Aude region of southwestern France and sits at the foot of the Pic de Bugarach, the highest mountain in the Corbieres wine-growing area.
But in the past few months, the quiet village has been inundated by groups of esoteric outsiders who believe the peak is an "alien garage."
According to them, extraterrestrials are quietly waiting in a large cavity beneath the rock for the world to end, at which point they will leave, taking, it is hoped, a lucky few humans with them.
Most believe Armageddon will take place on Dec. 21, 2012, the end date of the ancient Maya calendar, at which point they predict human civilization will come to an end.
Another favourite date mentioned is Dec. 12, 2012. They see Bugarach as one of perhaps several "sacred mountains" that will be sheltered from the cataclysm.
"This is no laughing matter," said Jean-Pierre Delord, the mayor.
"If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."
Delord said people had been coming to the village for the past 10 years or so in search of alien life after a post in an UFO review by a local man who has since died.
"He claimed he had seen aliens and heard the humming of their spacecraft under the mountain," he said.
The Internet abounds with tales of the late president Francois Mitterrand being heliported onto the peak and mysterious digs conducted by the Nazis and later Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
Recently, however, interest in the site has skyrocketed, said the mayor, with online UFO websites advising people to seek shelter in Bugarach as the countdown to Armageddon commences.
Sigrid Benard, who runs a local guest house, said UFO tourists were taking over.
"At first, my clientele was 72 per cent ramblers. Today, I have 68 per cent 'esoteric visitors,' " he said.
Several "Ufologists" have bought properties in the hamlet of Le Linas, in the mountain's shadow, for "extortionate" prices, and locals have complained they are being priced out of the market.
Strange sect-like courses are held for up to 800 euros ($1,066) a week.
"For this price, you are introduced to a guru, made to go on a procession, offered a christening and other rubbish, all payable in cash," said Delord.
Valerie Austin, who is originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, but settled in Bugarach 22 years ago, said the alien watchers were spoiling the village atmosphere.
"You can't go for a peaceful walk anymore.
"It's a beautiful area, but now you find people chanting and lying around meditating."
Read also: French Village Faces Influx of Apocalypse Believers
In Greece, there are many Christmas customs that are similar, yet slightly different from the West.
While other cultures have Christmas elves, the Greek equivalent is not so benign. They are called "Kallikantzaroi" and are monkey-like mischievous black almost invariably male creatures.
There are a number of beliefs connected with these spirits, which are supposed to be a species of goblins that appear only during the 12-day period from Christmas to the Epiphany (January 6). These creatures are believed to come from the center of the earth where they try to cut the tree that supports the earth with a hand-saw and to slip into people's house through the chimney at night. More mischievous than actually evil, the "Killikantzaroi" do things like extinguish fires, ride astride people's backs, braid horses' tails, and sour the milk. Descriptions of them vary, and in one area they are believed to wear wooden or iron boots, the better to kick people, while other areas insist that they are hooved, not booted. In folktales, the twelve days of their power figure in a "wicked stepmother" story where a young girl is forced to walk alone to a mill through the twelve days, because her stepmother is hoping that the "Kallikantzaroi" will snatch her away.
Some households keep fires burning through the twelve days, to keep the spirits from entering by the chimney. A "yule log" in this case used to be a massive log set on end in the chimney, is burning or at least smouldering for the entire period. Protective herbs such as hyssop, thistle, and asparagus were suspended by the fireplace, to keep the "Kallikantzaroi" away. Other households, perhaps less devout, leave the kitchen strainer out so the Kallikantzaroi will spend the whole night trying to count its holes or trying to bribe them, would put meat out for the them . On Epiphany, the ceremonial blessing of the waters by the local priest was believed to settle the nasty creatures until the next year. Some local festivals still include representations of these entities, which may be a survival from Dionysian festivals.
It is the custom on Christmas Eve for children to travel from house to house offering good wishes and singing 'kalanda', the equivalent of Christmas carols. The children accompany the songs using small metal triangles and little drums. Afterwards, the children are usually given sweets and money in appreciation.
In Greek Christmas, the feast itself becomes the main attraction by both adults and children alike. Pork, roasted, in the oven used to be the traditional meal but in the last decades especially in the cities they have turkey stuffed with minced meat, chestnuts, rice and pine-cone seeds and on every table are loaves of 'christopsomo' ('Christ bread'). This bread is usually made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts used to be engraved and decorated in some way that reflected the family's profession. Nowadays are decorated with the cross.
In Greek homes, Christmas trees were not commonly used in the past, but the last half of the century every house decorates a Christmas tree with a shining star on top in remembrance of the Bethlehem star and usually at the bottom there is a manger with Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus. Decorations with missletoe and colourful lights adorn the balconies and gardens .
On New Year’s Eve children go around the houses singing New Year’s carols "kalanda" using metal triangles and they are offered sweets and money.
At exactly midnight on December 31 the father or the older person in the household turns off the main power switch so "new light" will come with the New Year. Then a special kind of cake called "vassilopita" containing a coin is cut along the members of the family and friends. Every person and even the pets of the household are entitled to one piece. One piece is dedicated to Jesus and one to the house itself. Whoever finds the coin in his piece is considered to be lucky for the whole year. Gifts, are exchanged at that moment or on the following morning , St. Basil's Day (January 1).
The festive season ends on Epiphany day (January 6) when the Church celebrates the baptism of Jesus and the priests throw a cross in the sea, rivers, lakes or even water reservoirs. In the islands young men dive to retrieve the cross and the person, that catches, it is considered blessed. In the other areas the cross is tied on a ribbon and retrieved back by the priest.
Until recently, Christmas in Greece was a quiet family holiday. While that is still true in many places, more and more public celebrations, such as the Christmas in Athens events, are making it feel very familiar for expatriates in Greece for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Christmas in Greece offers an array of homecooked specialties, many of which are easy to make and a few of which have even become Christmas traditions in other countries. The nutty pale white cookie covered in powdered sugar? That's Greek.
Bigger cities and towns, such as Athens and Thessaloniki, will have many civic events for Christmas and New Year's. Athens provides a Christmas tree in Syntagma Square surrounded by a marketplace and child-friendly activity areas. On the islands, keep an eye out for decorated boats. Many villages will have a banner of lights stretching over the main road.
For more on Greek Christmas, see here.
Ukraine celebrates Christmas on January 7. A Christmas tree on Independence Square in Kiev doubles as a New Year's tree. While celebrating Christmas was not accepted during much of the 20th century, an increasing number of families celebrate Christmas in Ukraine.
The season of Christmas begins with advent (Pylypivka) - four weeks of fasting and preparing one's self for the birth of Christ. In preparation for Christmas, the house is cleaned from top to bottom and the outside of the house is whitewashed. A sheaf of wheat (didukh) is saved from the harvest. The didukh represents the family: the living, the dead and those unborn. Before Christmas Eve (Sviata Techera), the sheaf is decorated with ribbons, flowers and a small wreath of basil. It is put under an icon in a corner of the room on Christmas Eve. Those who are familiar with Ukrainian culture will understand the importance of grain to Ukraine – even the Ukrainian flag, with its blue and yellow colors, represents golden grain under a blue sky.
Ukraine's Santa Claus is called Did Moroz (Father Frost) or Svyatyy Mykolay (St. Nicholas). Ukraine has a special connection with St. Nicholas, and the figure of St. Nicholas and Did Moroz are closely associated. St. Nicholas Day on December 19th, not Christmas, is the usual gift-giving day in Ukraine, though today it is altered to Christmas day. On this day people invite guests in and sleighs would be ridden around the village to see if the snow was slippery [icy]. This is the holiday for young children, for they would receive gifts from St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children. "St. Nicholas" was often accompanied by "angels" and might have quizzed the children on their catechism. Father Frost rides a sleigh, which is carried by reindeers. Snowflake Girl, who dons a silver blue costume that is trimmed with white fur and a crown of snow, assists Father Frost in his journey.
Sviaty Vechir, or Holy Evening, is the Ukrainian Christmas Eve. Families celebrate with special food. Hay may be brought into the house to remind those gathered of the manger in which Christ was born. Families wait until the first star appears in the sky before beginning to eat and may attend church services late that night.
On the Christmas Eve, church services begin before midnight and continue till the next morning. The traditional Christmas greeting 'Khristos rodyvsya!' or 'Khristos razhdayetsya' (meaning "Christ is born!"), is recited by the head of the family. The other members of the family answer him by saying 'Slavite Yoho!' ("Let Us Glorify Him!"). The entire family sings Ukrainian Christmas carols or Kolyadky after supper. In some Ukrainian communities, the ancient tradition of caroling is still continued. Youngsters or members of church go from door to door and collect donations from celebrators. 'Boh predvichny' is the most popular Ukrainian carol. Ancient pagan songs converted into Christian carols are also sung.
The traditional Christmas customs in Ukraine used to be colorful and full of conviviality. However, the contemporary celebrations are more focused on the ‘Holy Supper’ and the religious services of the church.
The tradition of spider webs on the tree, which is a symbol of good luck, is based upon the following legend:
There once was a widow, who lived in a small hut. One day a pinecone dropped on the floor and it took root. Her children were excited that they would have a tree for Christmas. All summer long they made plans on how they would decorate the tree. They were very poor, so poor that they did not have anything to decorate the tree with. The widow went to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the tree would not be decorated. Early on Christmas morning, the woman was awakened by her children. "Mother, mother wake up and see the tree it is beautiful!" The mother arose and saw that during the night a spider had spun a web around the tree. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. As the shafts of the sun crept along the floor, it touched one of the threads of the spider web and instantly the web was changed into gold and silver. And from that day forward the widow never wanted for anything.
By Elder Paisios the Athonite
Every Christmas, the elder would get a herring for the joyous Twelve Days of Christmas, since there is a dispensation for fish for the feast. He did not, however, throw away the backbone of the fish, but hung it by thread on a nail. On feast days of the Lord or the Mother of God, he would boil a little water in a tin can, dip the fishbone two or three times in the water so that it took on a bit of a smell, and then throw in a little rice. In this way, he observed the dispensation for fish but also condemned himself for eating fish soup in the desert! Then, he would hang the backbone on the nail again for the next dispensation, until it became quite white and only then would he throw it away.
From Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters, p.33.
To understand this, it is helpful to see earlier forms of the expression, such as God be wy you, god b'w'y, godbwye, god buy' ye, and good-b'wy. The first word of the expression is now good and not God, for good replaced God by analogy with such expressions as good day, perhaps after people no longer had a clear idea of the original sense of the expression.
In a quote from 1659, we still have "god":
"But mum for that, his strength will scarce supply His Back to the Balcona, so God b' wy."
And then by 1694, we have transitioned to "good":
"He flings up his tail..and so bids us good-b'wy."
A letter of 1573 written by Gabriel Harvey contains the first recorded use of goodbye: "To requite your gallonde [gallon] of godbwyes, I regive you a pottle of howdyes," recalling another contraction that is still used. Shakespeare used "God be wy you".
The substitution of good for God seems to have been mainly due to the influence of such phrases as "good day" and "good night".
So next time you say "goodbye", remember the origin of the word is in fact a blessing.
God be with you!
Source 1 and 2
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
THE CHRISTMAS VISIT (1959)
Made in Russia, translated and dubbed in English.
The vintage animated story features a Russian boy named Koyla from Moscow. The boy tries to take his 'holiday' tree to his father, who's serving in Antarctica, since there are no trees there. Santa Claus loans the boy his magic jet to get there, and other speaking creatures help him on his way later. The cartoon was made during the rise of the cold war.
A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window.
December 23, 2010
A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.
The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.
On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop's 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.
Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days.
But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something.
"When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?" he asks.
According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, "as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country."
Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate.
There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday."I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday," he says.
Former adviser to the mayor on Christian affairs, Shmuel Evyatar, describes the situation as "a huge disgrace." He says most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain.
"I'm sure the phenomenon would end as soon as rabbis and well-known educators denounce it. In practice, rabbis of yeshivas ignore or even encourage it," he says.
Evyatar says he himself was spat at while walking with a Serbian bishop in the Jewish quarter, near his home. "A group of yeshiva students spat at us and their teacher just stood by and watched."
Jerusalem municipal officials said they are aware of the problem but it has to be dealt with by the police. Shmuel Ben-Ruby, the police spokesman, said they had only two complaints from Christians in the past two years. He said that, in both cases, the culprits were caught and punished.
He said the police deploy an inordinately high number of patrols and special technology in the Old City and its surroundings in an attempt to keep order.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
This glorious heroine of the Christian Faith was born in Rome into a wealthy senatorial family of a pagan father and a Christian mother. From her early youth, she clung in love to the Lord Jesus, guided in the teaching of Christ by a devout teacher, Chrysogonus.
Anastasia was forced by her father to enter into marriage with a pagan landowner, Publius. Excusing herself on the basis of a female illness, she in no way wished to enter into physical relations with him. For this, her husband tortured her harshly by confinement and starvation. He inflicted even more tortures upon her when he learned of her secret visits to the prisons of the Christian martyrs: bringing them provisions, ministering to them, bathing their wounds and loosening their bonds. But by God's providence she was freed from her wicked husband. Publius was sent to Persia by the emperor, and while sailing on the sea he was drowned. St. Anastasia then began to minister freely to the tortured Christian martyrs and to comfort the poor, giving them alms from her great inheritance.
At one time the Emperor Diocletian was in the town of Aquileia and ordered that Chrysogonus, the confessor of Christ, be brought to him. St. Anastasia accompanied him on the way. Holy Chrysogonus was beheaded by order of the emperor, and then three sisters - Agape, Chionia and Irene - also suffered (April 16): the first two were cast into fire and the third was shot through with arrows. St. Anastasia took their bodies, wrapped them in white linen, anointed them with many aromatic spices, and honorably buried them.
Following this, Anastasia went to Macedonia, where she helped the sufferers for Christ. There she became well known as a Christian, for which she was seized and brought before various judges for interrogation and torture. Desiring to die for her beloved Christ, Anastasia constantly longed for Him in her heart. A certain chief of the pagan priests, Ulpianus, lustfully tried to touch St. Anastasia's body, but he was suddenly blinded and breathed his last.
Condemned to death by starvation, St. Anastasia lingered in prison for thirty days without food, nourishing herself only on tears and prayer. Then she was placed in a boat with several other Christians to be drowned, but God delivered her even from this death. She was finally tied by the feet and hands to four wheels over a fire, and she gave up her holy soul to God. She suffered and took up her habitation in the Kingdom of Christ in the year 304 [or 290].
A Reflection From Her Life
The merciful God often sends comfort to those pleasing to Him on earth from the other world through his saints. St. Theodota suffered for Christ before St. Anastasia. Anastasia was then cast into a confined and dark prison to die of hunger, according to the judgment of the torturers. During the thirty days of her imprisonment, St. Theodota appeared to Anastasia every night from the other world and strengthened her in her suffering.
Anastasia spoke of many things with St. Theodota and asked numerous questions. One night she asked her how she was able to come to her after her death. Theodota replied that the souls of the martyrs are given special grace from God, so that after departing this world they may return to speak to whomever they desire for the imparting of instruction and comfort.
When thirty days had passed, the torturer brought St. Anastasia out of prison and was amazed to see her still alive. He then condemned her, along with several others, to be drowned in the sea. The Christians were put into a small boat by the soldiers, who set sail in another. When the Christians were brought out into the deep, the soldiers upset the boat, so that the water would enter and drown the condemned. Then a miraculous vision took place: St. Theodota appeared on the water and guided the boat to shore. Thus, all who were condemned to death were saved with Anastasia. Seeing this miracle of God, one hundred and twenty pagans immediately believed in Christ and were baptized.
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Great Martyr Anastasia, the Deliverer from Bonds
The holy maiden Anastasia serves God;
She shines before God by faith, hope and deeds.
The maiden leaves husband, honor and riches,
And gladly serves the captives, glorifying God.
She looses the bonds, and washes the wounds of the martyrs;
She looses their bonds, giving gifts and not fetters.
She seeks payment neither from men nor from the earth.
Christ God eases her soul and heart.
Her pains have passed, and Anastasia remains in glory;
She now rejoices with the angels in heaven.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Your lamb Anastasia, calls out to you, O Jesus, in a loud voice: "I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering. In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You. Accept me as a pure sacrifice,for I have offered myself in love." Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.
Apolytikion in the Fifth Tone
As a martyr you emulated the deeds of the martyrs, to whom you ministered, and, striving valiantly, you overcame the enemy. You are an abundant and overflowing source of grace for all who come to you, O godly-minded Anastasia!
Kontakion in the Second Tone
When they that are found in trials and adversities flee unto thy church O Anastasia, they receive the august and wondrous gifts of divine grace which doth abide in thee; for at all times, O Saint of God, thou pourest forth streams of healings for the world.
The Georgian Patriarchate announced the transfer of control over the Abkhaz Diocese to the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
"The Holy Synod has examined a very important issue and made a historical decision: that on the basis of historical documents and the current situation, control over the Tskhum-Abkhaz Diocese be handed over to Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia," the Patriarchate said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The territory controlled by the diocese covers Abkhazia and part of the Georgian region of Samegrelo.
Meanwhile, Abkhaz cleric Vissarion Aplia said on December 9 that recognition by the Georgian Patriarchate of the independence of the "Abkhaz Church" must be a pre-condition for their dialog.
The lack of such recognition today is "the main obstacle to visits to Abkhazia by Georgian clergymen," he said.
Decision by Holy Synod
Ιερά Σύνοδος της Γεωργιανής Εκκλησίας άλλαξε τον τίτλο του Πατριάρχη Ηλία
Metropolitan Seraphim has been instrumental as of late in spreading conspiracy theories and unfounded fears among Greeks. This year alone he has appealled to the Greek government for the dissolution of Freemasonry in Greece based on the accusation that they worship Satan, opposed the new Greek Citizen's Card because it is a forerunner to the Mark of the Antichrist, and supported the Artemian schism in Serbia. Below is his latest spread of misinformation, obviously infuenced by the discredited Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus says Hitler was just a Zionist instrument to convince the Jews to leave Europe to Israel and 'establish the new Empire', JTA reports.
December 22, 2010
A leading priest in Greece said that the world Jewry was to blame for the country's financial problems, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Wednesday.
While being interviewed on a morning show of Greece's largest television station, Mega TV, the Metropolite of Piraeus Seraphim said that international Zionism tries to destroy family values by promoting one-parent families and same-sex marriages, and said there is a Zionist conspiracy to enslave Greece and Christian Orthodoxy.
The Metropolite also said that Hitler was just a tool used by Zionists in order to ensure the establishment of Israel.
When the Greek host asked him, "Why do you disagree with Hitler's politics? If they are doing all this, wasn't he right in burning them?," the Metropolite answered, "Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire."
He went on to say that Jews such as "Rockefeller, Rotchschild and Soros control the international banking system that controls globalization."
The JTA quoted the president of the Athens Jewish community, Benjamin Albala, as saying: "Watching and listening to the program, I felt disgust hearing the Metropolite of Piraeus expressing himself like that against world Zionism, and shamelessly saying that Hitler with the help of Jewish bankers did what he did."
See also: A Greek Bishop’s Anti-Semitic Tirade
December 21, 2010
The Ecumenical Patriarch defends the choice of dialogue with Catholics, Jews and Muslims, despite criticisms from some sectors of Orthodox traditionalists.
On the eve of the holiday season, Bartholomew I delivered a major address before an highly qualified audience from the Orthodox world, defending the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s choice for inter-faith dialogue. "We will insist on dialogue, despite the criticism that we suffer," he said. "There is, unfortunately, a certain religious fundamentalism, a tragic phenomenon, which can be found among Orthodox and Catholics, among Muslims and Jews. These are people who think they alone have the right to exist on earth, almost as if they alone have the right to rule on this our planet according to the Old Testament. And they say there is no room for anyone else, and are therefore opposed to any dialogue. "
The Patriarch continued: "We are subject to criticism and attack because we maintain relations with the Pope (because we are strong supporters of the ecumenical dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics), with Islam and the Jewish world. But we will continue to move forward on our journey, according to the path laid by our predecessors, well aware of our actions, regardless of the criticisms of which we are object. These fringes, characterized by extreme positions, are everywhere. It is therefore natural that we suffer their criticisms, according to their ideological dictates, all of us who try to widen our horizons and have a theological view of things. Because we want the peaceful coexistence of all, based on the principles of charity and friendship. "
Bartholomew I added: "This is the credo of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and I want to remember that in 1920 the regent of the patriarchal see, along with the synod, had addressed to Catholics and Protestants an encyclical, called 'The community of churches', along the lines of the newly created 'society of nations'. That encyclical is considered today by the World Council of Churches as the 'Charter' of the ecumenical movement of our time. This is a well known fact to insiders, and it is good that it should be made as widely known to as many people as possible”.
Then Bartholomew I went on to highlight: "With regard to interreligious dialogue, it is our belief and our creed. Because we need to know each other better, to work together while respecting the religious beliefs of others, their cultural identity, without oppression. This is the only way to live in peace. For this reason, the Patriarchate, in addition to having a dialogue with other Churches and Christian denominations, has established over the past 25 years a dialogue with Islam and Judaism. We have had several successful meetings. With the Muslims and Jews, our brothers, we do not discuss purely theological issues as it would be difficult. But we talk about social issues, social issues that effect all people, all humanity, all over the world. "
Ecology has been one of the favorite themes of the Ecumenical Patriarchate since 1989. The Patriarch said: "Everything that we try to do, we do because we believe it is our duty, because the Church should be actively present in the contemporary world and be sensitive to people's problems, raise awareness and encourage them to love and protect nature like their own homes". He added: "The environment, nature, is God's creation and do not belong only to us who live today in 2010. They belong to all future generations. "
Bishop Dositheos, spokesman for the Patriarchate, commented on the Patriarch’s homily for AsiaNews, "a certain confusion prevails in some sectors of the Orthodox Christian world between the two terms, tradition and traditionalism. Tradition, to which those minorities often refer, is the ongoing search to interpret and understand the truth, while traditionalism which essentially belong to these minorities, is an intellectual sterility which often is identified with nationalism in the Orthodox world”.