By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
The memory of this illuminary of the Church is celebrated on November 13 and January 30 but, on this date, the Church celebrates the translation of his honorable relics from the Armenian village of Comana, where he died in exile, to Constantinople, where earlier he had governed the Church.
Thirty years after his death, Patriarch Proclus delivered a homily in memory of his spiritual father and teacher. He so enflamed the love of the people and Emperor Theodosius the Younger toward this great saint that all of them desired that Chrysostom's relics be translated to Constantinople.
It was said that the sarcophagus, containing the relics of St. John Chrysostom, did not allow itself to be moved from its resting place until the emperor wrote a letter to Chrysostom begging him for forgiveness (for Theodosius' mother, Eudoxia, was the culprit responsible for the banishment of this saint) and appealing to him to come to Constantinople, his former residence. When this letter of repentance was placed on the sarcophagus, its weight became extremely light. At the time of the translation of his relics, many who were ill and who touched the sarcophagus were healed.
When the relics arrived in the capital, then the emperor in the name of his mother as though she herself was speaking over the relics, again, prayed to the saint for forgiveness. "While I lived in this transient life, I did you malice and, now, when you live the immortal life, be beneficial to my soul. My glory passed away and it helped nothing. Help me, father; in your glory, help me before I am condemned at the Judgment of Christ!"
When the saint was brought into the Church of the Twelve Apostles and placed on the patriarchal throne, the masses of people heard the words from St. Chrysostom's mouth saying: "Peace be to you all."
The translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom was accomplished in the year 438 A.D.
Translation of the Relics of St. John Chrysostom
Video: The Return of the Relics of St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Theologian to Constantinople
Contemporary Miracles of St. John Chrysostom
The Sarcophagus of St. John Chrysostom in Komani, Georgia
HYMN OF PRAISE: SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Saint John, a trumpet forged of gold,
Heralded to mankind, the mercy of God,
Miraculous mercy, which even loves the sinners,
Wonderful mercy, that shines through the sun,
And with the moon, amazes the earth,
In the cradle of the stars, mercy, he is rocking,
The awesome mercy from bloody Golgatha,
Where God Crucified forgives the crime of the world,
Mercy of fear, forgiveness and glory,
Mercy which the angels sing,
Of which the whole of creation drinks,
Which only the saints glorify,
Mercy which is a balm to the ill,
Joy to the simple, foolishness to the scribes,
Antidote for the proud and a punishment for the vain;
The mercy of God, which all creation enjoys,
Which is poured out like a current of air,
Mercy that covers all sins -
Such mercy - unknown until Christ,
Eternal glow, from Christ radiated.
O Teacher of God's mercy,
Pray to God that He forgives our sins.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The grace of your words illuminated the universe like a shining beacon. It amassed treasures of munificence in the world. It demonstrated the greatness of humility, teaching us by your own words; therefore, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede to Christ the Logos for the salvation of our souls.
Kontakion in the First Tone
The holy and august Church is mystically gladdened today on the translation of thy holy relics. And though she had kept them hid in concealment like precious gold, by thine intercessions she unceasingly granteth, unto them that praise thee, the divine grace of healing, O Father John Chrysostom.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
By Margie Burns
Archbishop Damaskinos Papandreou was born Dimitrios Papandreou in Dorvitsa, Greece in 1890. He enlisted in the Greek army during the Balkan Wars. Ordained a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church in 1917, he was appointed archbishop of Athens in 1941.
During the Holocaust, Archbishop Damaskinos and Athens police chief Angelos Evert saved thousands of Greek Jews.
Although an estimated 87% of the nation’s Jewish population — 60,000 to 70,000 Greek Jews — perished during the Holocaust, 10,000 survived, largely due to the Greek people’s refusal to cooperate with German plans for deportations.
With the arrival of the Axis occupation, deportations from cities like the northern port of Thessaloniki proceeded at a rapid pace. Many Jews fleeing persecution in the north found a safe haven in Athens.
On September 20, 1943, Dieter Wisliceny — a deputy of Adolph Eichmann, the administrator of the Nazi Final Solution — arrived in Athens. Wisliceny ordered Chief Rabbi Elias Barzilai to appear before him, to provide accurate figures about the Jewish population in Athens and to create a Judernat. Made up of Jews who were coerced into joining, a Judernat made compliant Jews ”responsible” for keeping law and order in a Jewish community, and used them as a liaison between the German authorities and the Jewish population.
Wisliceny ordered Barzilai to provide the names and address of all members of Athens’ Jewish community, the names of all foreign Jews living in the area, the names of Italian Jews in Athens, and the names of those who had assisted Jews who had escaped to Palestine. He also commanded Barzilai to compile a list of individuals willing to serve on a new council — of which Barzilai was to be president — that would create a Jewish police force to carry out Nazi demands; and unveiled plans to create identity cards for all of Athens’ Jewish population.
Shaken by his encounter with the Nazi commander, the Rabbi contacted Archbishop Damaskinos and told him about the meeting.
Since Damaskinos knew what had taken place in the north, he suggested that the entire Jewish community should take flight, because it couldn’t be protected.
Rabbi Barzilai asked the Germans for more time to compose the requested lists, and then, after meeting with other leaders of the Jewish community, he destroyed the community records and advised the Jewish people to flee. A few days later, the Rabbi himself left the capital and joined the resistance.
The Church of Greece, under Damaskinos’ leadership, condemned Hitler’s plans for the country and instructed priests to announce its position in their sermons.
Jew had participated freely with other Greeks in all walks of life for 2,300 years, co-existing in harmony with their Orthodox countrymen, contributing good work in numerous fields. Jews had lived in Athens since the time of Alexander the Great, in the mid-fourth century, many having sought sanctuary in Greece after having been expelled from Spain in 1492. During the Holocaust, the Greek Jewish population was almost completely destroyed.
As they prepared to implement the deportation and mass murder of their Final Solution, the Nazis compiled intelligence reports about the Jewish population of Athens. They chose important Jewish holidays for their monstrous acts, beginning with an order on the eve of Yom Kippur, signed by the German military commander in Athens, S.S. General Jurgen Stroop, which organized the city’s Jewish community under Nazi supervision.
The Jewish population in Athens had increased since the outbreak of the war. Damaskinos’ and the Rabbi’s work had transformed the city in a safe refuge. Since many of the newly arrived Jews had no fixed place of residence, German intelligence about the Jewish population was often wrong.
Under the order issued by Stroop, Jews were commanded to appear at community offices within five days to declare their residences and register their names. Despite the threat of dire consequences for failing to appear, only 200 showed up.
In a similar instance, the German authorities announced that they were planning to bring a special flour to Athens for Passover, so the Jewish population could prepare matzoh — provided they were willing to reveal themselves and register with the authorities. Although the false act of kindness tempted some, many more Jews registered because they were afraid the Nazis would enact reprisals on their Christian neighbors, who had been shielding them from the persecution.
When the Germans started rounding up Jews, over 600 Greek Orthodox priests were arrested and deported because of their actions in helping Jews, and many Jews were saved by the Greek police, the clergy and the resistance. Damaskinos and Evert faced the threat of death for their efforts, and would surely been killed if the extent of their assistance had become known to the Germans.
There were several means of escape. Many left by boat from Oropos in Attica, where they were frequently force to pay enormous fees for a three week journey to Turkey. Some young men without families escaped to partisan camps in the mountains. False baptismal certificate and new identity papers from the Greek Orthodox Church could also help a desperate fleeing Jew.
Archbishop Damaskinos oversaw the creation of several thousand such certificates, and Athens police chief Evert provided more than 27,000 false identify papers to desperate Jews seeking protection from the Nazis.
The Archbishop also ordered monasteries and convents in Athens to shelter Jews, and urged his priests to ask their congregations to hide the Jews in their homes. As a result, more than 250 Jewish children were hidden by Orthodox clergy alone.
When all official appeals to stop the deportations failed, Archbishop Damaskinos spearheaded a direct appeal to the Germans, in the form of a letter composed by the famous Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos and signed by prominent Greek citizens, in a bold attempt to appeal to the hearts and minds of the occupying authorities, in defense of the Jews who were being persecuted.
The letter incited the rage of the Nazi general Stroop, who threatened the Archbishop with death by a firing squad. Damaskinos’ response was, ”Greek religious leaders are not shot, they are hanged. I request that you respect this custom.” The simple courage of the religious leader’s reply caught the Nazi commander off guard, and his life was spared.
The appeal of the Archbishop and his fellow Greeks is unique; there is no similar document of protest of the Nazis during World War II that has come to light in any other European country. It reads, in part:
”The Greek Orthodox Church and the Academic World of Greek People Protest against the Persecution… The Greek people were… deeply grieved to learn that the German Occupation Authorities have already started to put into effect a program of gradual deportation of the Greek Jewish community… and that the first groups of deportees are already on their way to Poland…”
”According to the terms of the armistice, all Greek citizens, without distinction of race or religion, were to be treated equally by the Occupation Authorities. The Greek Jews have proven themselves… valuable contributors to the economic growth of the country [and] law-abiding citizens who fully understand their duties as Greeks. They have made sacrifices for the Greek country, and were always on the front lines of the struggle of the Greek nation to defend its inalienable historical rights…”
”In our national consciousness, all the children of Mother Greece are an inseparable unity: they are equal members of the national body irrespective of religion… Our holy religion does not recognize superior or inferior qualities based on race or religion, as it is stated: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek’ and thus condemns any attempt to discriminate or create racial or religious differences. Our common fate both in days of glory and in periods of national misfortune forged inseparable bonds between all Greek citizens, without exemption, irrespective of race…”
”Today we are… deeply concerned with the fate of 60,000 of our fellow citizens who are Jews… we have lived together in both slavery and freedom, and we have come to appreciate their feelings, their brotherly attitude, their economic activity, and most important, their indefectible patriotism…”
During World War II, Greece lost 580,000 of its pre-war population of 6.5 million, and an additional 100,000 Greeks were wounded in the fighting. Ordinary Greeks put themselves in mortal danger, protesting against the occupation authorities. In the case of Athens’ Jewish population, assimilation and a strong resistance movement helped at least some Jewish Greeks to survive the Nazi onslaught.
Five thousand Jews remain in Athens, helping to rebuild Jewish life in post-war Greece. The Greek government sees Jewish heritage as part of the country’s national heritage, and has refurbished the Jewish Museum of Greece in Athens. An honored site among the nation’s many historic treasures, the oldest synagogue site in Greece is a ruin from the Fifth Century B.C.E., located in Athens’ ancient marketplace, the agora at the foot of the Acropolis.
After the war, Archbishop Damaskinos served as regent of Greece until King Georgios II returned from exile. When fighting broke out between pro-royalist Greek soldiers and communist partisans in 1945, the Archbishop was appointed Prime Minister. He called for peace and order in the country. He relinquished his leadership position when the king was formally recalled in 1946.
Archbishop Damaskinos died in Athens on May 20, 1949.
The Appeal of Archbishop Damaskinos To the German Nazi's
Letter by Archbishop Damaskinos to Prime Minister K. Logothetopoulos
- You should see what some people are making out of our language! I was reading a Modern Greek translation of the New Testament the other day. They were rendering "Out of Egypt I call My Son" as "From Egypt I have called My Boy". But that doesn't sound right! This way you cannot tell the sacred from the profane! Supposedly they write this way so that there is uniformity in the written and spoken language. Can you think of anyone, even someone from the most remote village, who would not understand "my Son"?
Once when I was at the Holy Mountain I heard a reading that used vernacular Greek: "The bread (psomi) and wine (krasi) which make up the Holy Communion...." It just doesn't sound right! Is there anyone who doesn't know what the New Testament words bread and wine (artos and oinos) mean? And will they benefit from the translation?
- There are some people who are trying to create a new language. But Greek is not just a language! It is a tongue shaped by the fiery Tongues of Holy Pentecost! It bears the "flame" of Pentecost. No other language can render adequately the dogma of our faith.
This is why the Good Lord even provided for the Old Testament to be translated into Greek by the Seventy (Septuagint), and for the New Testament to be first written in Greek. Anyone seeking to study the Christian doctrines without the knowledge of ancient Greek is very likely to fall into serious error.
And we have abolished the teaching of ancient Greek in our schools! Soon, we'll have Germans teaching ancient Greek in our universities. That's what it will probably take for some people to realize the value of this language. But I suppose someone will have to embarrass them first before they figure it out. And then you will hear them marvel: "See, how the Church has been preserving ancient Greek all along!"
- Today they load students with all kinds of useless subjects and they end up confusing them. They burden them with mere information without a spiritual counterbalance to it. The first thing children should learn at school is to have fear of God. You see these little kids, so young, and they start learning English, French, German - but no ancient Greek - music, you name it. When will they have time to learn all these things?
Excerpts from With Pain And Love For Contemporary Man (vol. 1), pp. 321-338.
By Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev
In this talk I propose to outline the history of atheism in Russia during the last hundred years. I will start by considering the kind of atheism present in Russia before the Revolution. Then I will say something about the development of atheism during the Soviet period. And finally I will conclude with some observations concerning the nature of Russian post-Soviet atheism.
I should like to begin with the following questions. How did it happen that the country known as 'Holy Russia', with such a long history of Orthodox Christianity, was in a very short period of time turned by the Bolsheviks into 'the first atheist state in the world'? How was it possible that the very same people who were taught religion in secondary schools in the 1910s with their own hands destroyed churches and burned holy icons in the 1920s? What is the explanation of the fact that the Orthodox Church, which was so powerful in the Russian Empire, was almost reduced to zero by its former members?
I should say at once that I cannot interpret what happened in Russia in 1917 as an accident, the seizure of power by a small group of villains. Rather I perceive in the Russian revolution the ultimate outcome of the processes which were going on within the pre-revolutionary society and so, to a considerable extent, within the Russian Church (as there was no separation between Church and society). I would claim that the Russian revolution was the offspring of both the Russian monarchy and the Church. The roots of the post-revolutionary atheism should be looked for in pre-revolutionary Russian society and in the Church.
It has been said that Russia was baptised but not enlightened. Indeed, as far as the 19th century is concerned, it is clear that enlightenment was very often in conflict with religion: the masses of illiterate peasants kept their traditional beliefs, but more and more educated people, even from a purely religious background, rejected faith and became atheists. Chernyshevsky and Dobroliubov are classic examples: both came from clerical families, both became atheists after studying in theological seminaries. For people like Dostoyevsky religion was something that had to be rediscovered, after having been lost as a result of his education. Tolstoy, on the other hand, came to a certain type of faith in God but remained alien to the Orthodox Church. It is clear, when one looks at the pre-revolutionary period, that there was a huge gap between the Church and the world of educated people, the so-called intelligentsia, and this gap was constantly growing.
But on the eve of the revolution it became more and more clear that atheism had also invaded the mass of ordinary people. Berdyaev wrote at that time that the simple Russian baba, who was supposed to be religious, was no longer a reality but a myth: she had become a nihilist and an atheist. I would like to quote some more from what this great Russian philosopher wrote in 1917, several months before the October revolution:
"The Russian nation always considered itself to be Christian. Many Russian thinkers and artists were even inclined to regard it as a nation which is Christian par excellence. The Slavophils thought that Russian people live by the Orthodox faith, which is the only true faith containing the entire truth... Dostoevsky preached that. The Russian nation is a bearer of God... But, it was here that revolution broke out, and it...revealed a spiritual emptiness in Russian people. This emptiness is a result of a slavery that lasted too long, of a process of degeneration of the old regime that went too far, of a paralysis of the Russian Church and moral degradation of the ecclesiastical authorities that lasted too long. Since long ago the sacred has been exterminated from the people's soul both from the left side and the right, which prepared this cynical attitude towards the sacred that is now being revealed in all its disgust."
Berdyaev blames the Tsarist regime and the Orthodox Church for what happened in 1917. Leaving aside the former, let us look at the role of the Church in the pre-revolutionary period. On the one hand, it was still the State Church, extremely powerful and influential, penetrating all levels of the life of society. There were still living saints within it, like John of Kronstadt, and spiritual life still flourished in at least some monasteries. On the other hand, the Church was governed by the civil authorities, or even by such odd figures as Rasputin, and it is true that it was paralyzed to a considerable extent.
I remember reading a book by Father Georgy Shavelsky, the Protopresbyter of the Russian Army and Navy under Nicholas II. Himself one of the senior members of the Holy Synod, he testified that the Synod was in fact very far from the life of people, that it did very little (if anything) to prevent atheist propaganda from spreading among ordinary people. To show how little remained of the people's traditional devotion to God, Shavelsky cites the following example: when attendance at the Liturgy became, by a special imperial decree, no longer obligatory for Russian soldiers, only ten percent of them continued to go to church.
Another testimony of the same kind is that of Metropolitan Veniamin (Fedchenkov), who became the Bishop of the White Army after the revolution. He writes that none of the students of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, where he had studied, ever went to see Father John of Kronstadt, and that some of the students were atheists. He describes the atmosphere of spiritual coolness inside the Orthodox Church, the lack of prophetic spirit. He claims that it was not by mere chance that there arose people like Rasputin: against the common background of indifference towards religion he appeared as a charismatic figure and was at first accepted as such by the ecclesiastical authorities, who then directed his steps to the imperial palace.
The third testimony which I would like to draw on here is of a more personal kind: it is that of Father Sergei Bulgakov. Himself the son of an Orthodox priest, after studying at a theological seminary, he became an atheist, following the steps of Chernyshevsky and Dobroliubov. In his autobiographical notes he asks himself how this happened, and answers: "It happened, somehow, almost at once and in an imperceptible manner, as something taken for granted, when the poetry of my childhood was replaced by the prose of the theological seminary... When I began to doubt, my critical thoughts were not satisfied with traditional apologetics, but rather found them scandalous... My revolt was strengthened by the compulsory devotion: these long services with akathists (and ritual devotion in general) did not give me satisfaction." Fr Bulgakov gave up his religion easily, without a fight, and neither his clerical origins nor his theological education helped him to resist the temptation of atheism and nihilism.
The picture which one gains when reading the memoirs of those living during the pre-revolutionary period is that of a deep decline in religious belief. Though Orthodox Christianity was still maintained as the official religion of the Russian monarchy, both society and the Church were fatally contaminated by unbelief, nihilism and atheism. Even the seminarists, future priests, balanced on the edge between religion and atheism. Many ordinary Christians, if not the majority, had no faith at all, and it was they who turned against the Church as soon as membership in it stopped being encouraged. The Church at once lost the great majority of its members and remained a small flock of those prepared to die for Christ.
We know what happened with those faithful to the Church: they were either executed or severely persecuted, and only very few of them survived.
There was a certain improvement in the situation of the Church during and after the Second World War, but the Church never regained the position within the Russian society which it occupied before the Revolution.
What sort of atheism was imposed on the Russian people by the Soviet regime? It was not in tact unbelief: it was, rather, a very strong belief in the non-existence of God, in a happy future in this life, in the infallibility of the Communist party and its materialist ideology. The god-like figure of Lenin (for many years together with Stalin, then alone) was dominant everywhere, in all places, in every room of every official building, whether kindergarten or university, shop or hospital. Lenin as god, the only Party as the only church, its leaders (the Politbureau) as an assembly of saints, the works of Lenin as the Bible, etc. The Soviet people were not given atheism, but a pseudo-religion, a religion of the Antichrist. Thus Berdyayev was quite right speaking of the religious character of Russian socialism and atheism. To what extent was this atheist ideology accepted by people, or rather, how many people accepted the ideology and what percentage were able to resist? In the 20s and 30s Russian atheism lived through its most militant stage: it was very active, aggressive and involved the 'masses' of the people. By the late 60s, however, it had certainly lost much of its earlier enthusiasm: it was just taken for granted by the majority, but no longer followed with fanaticism and zeal. So, in terms of the quality of Russian atheism, it is the 30s that should be regarded as its climax. But in terms of the quantity of atheists, I think many more would have been found in the 60s and 70s. During the 30s there were still the babushki, who secretly kept the faith which they inherited from Tsarist times. But by the end of the 70s the pre-revolutionary babushki had mostly died out (I mean those educated before the Revolution) and were replaced by those who had grown up under the atheist regime.
I can illustrate what I have said about the quality of Russian atheism by examples from my own family. All my grandparents were born before the Revolution, but were educated after it: none of them was a believer. Even in the 80s, when almost all the younger members of my family, one after another, came to the Church and were baptised, my grandparents remained outside this process. One of my grandmothers told me at that time: 'I feel like Robinson Crusoe on his uninhabited island: everybody around me goes to church, and I don't..' She was a member of the Communist Party for more than fifty years and, I presume, in the 20s she might well have been a militant atheist. But in the early 80s, when I remember her, she felt nothing against religion, though nothing for it either. Her atheism had become absolutely passive: it was taken for granted and not thought about.
My parents grew up in the atheist society of the 40s and 50s and never were militant atheists. Already in their youth they rejected Soviet ideology and searched for truth outside of it. But there was still tremendous pressure on them from the society in which they had to survive, and they were always afraid that their unbelief in ideology would be uncovered and they would be punished. My mother came to Christianity in the mid-70s, but could not practice her religion openly. To become openly religious then still meant to be expelled from atheist society and perhaps to lose one's job. It was in some secret house, not in church, that I was baptised.
I myself grew up in the late 70s and 80s, which was certainly a period of decline for Russian atheism. Yet it was still dangerous to practice religion openly: for example, I would have been expelled from my school, an elite music school, if they had known that I went to church. During the eleven years of my studies in the school I did not see any pupils who were openly religious. It was taken for granted that everyone was an atheist. At the same time many of my classmates did not share the official ideology and had very liberal views: they were far from the Church, but many of them did not believe in Communist ideas either. It was still difficult openly to believe in God, but it was at least quite possible openly not to believe in the ideology. The atmosphere in my school was quite tolerant, even though on the official level the Communist ideology was maintained.
Thus, though I grew up under the atheist regime, I never felt enough pressure not to be able to resist: I rather remember a total absence of fear and a wonderful feeling of freedom. I am therefore not surprised that it was mostly people of my generation who went on the streets of Moscow in August 1991 to say goodbye to the Communist regime. They were not afraid because they grew up during the period of decline and decomposition of Communist ideology.
One of the main reasons for the bankruptcy of Soviet atheist ideology was simply that people did not believe in it any longer. When atheism lost its religious character, it became empty and it lost its power long before it was officially abandoned. Now what, in brief, is the situation with atheism and religion in Russia now, after the collapse of the Soviet system?
It seems to me that, though the numbers of believers has immensely increased during the last years, Russia is still far from being a Christian country. To be baptised, to be Orthodox has become a fashion. I would not be surprised if the majority of people, when asked whether they are Orthodox, would now give a positive answer. This does not mean, though, that they all go to church. It only means that most of them have assumed a new outward identity to keep up with the ongoing 'religious revival'. I remember asking one teenager who came, together with her mother, to be baptised: 'Do you believe in God?' 'No,' was her answer. 'Why then do you want to be baptised?' I asked. 'Well, everybody gets baptised nowadays,' she said. This case, one of many, illustrates that many people take religion in a very superficial manner, sometimes without even believing in God. Remaining inwardly atheists, they become outwardly Orthodox.
The latest public opinion polls in Russia show that while there is a relatively small number of convinced atheists, practicing Christians are far from being a majority. Most people will say 'we believe in something'. We recognise that there exists something supernatural', but then admit that religious belief does not play an important role in their life. There is another paradox: not all people who claim to be Orthodox do believe in God. Some even take part in Orthodox organisations and movements without practising their religion.
To speak of a religious revival in contemporary Russia has become a commonplace. But people vary in their understanding of what this revival entails. Certainly there is an external revival: many churches, monasteries and theological schools are being reopened, the buildings are being restored. But it is too early to speak of the restoration of the Russian soul. There is no improvement in morality in contemporary Russia. On the contrary, one must admit that moral standards have become much lower than they used to be under the Soviets. Is this not an indication that there is no inward revival of Christian life, that people do not assume Christianity as a norm of living? Is it not striking evidence of the fact that the long-waited repentance, metanoia, as a change in mentality for the better, has not yet taken place in Russia?
Some ascribe this sudden, lowering of moral standards to Western influence: it is from the degenerate West that pornography, prostitution and all sorts of immorality come. This is our way out: to blame everybody except ourselves. But the reality is that, as Berdyaev put it in 1918, 'however bitter it is... the Russian people is now less religious than many peoples of the West... the religious culture of the soul in it is weaker.' This is true if religious culture is understood not as membership in some right-wing Orthodox organisation, but as first of all living according to the norms of Christian morality.
When 'perestroika' started, the Church was challenged by the very high expectations on the part of the society. Many believed the Church would be able to assume the leading role in the spiritual revival of the nation. One has to admit that this did not happen. The Church started to revive itself by rebuilding monastery walls (which is indeed an important and difficult task) but it did not respond adequately to the need for religious and moral enlightenment of the people. The Church's leaders gained access to the civil authorities, but thus far they have been unable (with some exceptions) to gain direct access to ordinary people, especially to those outside the Church. The Orthodox Church is still closed in upon itself; it is still more occupied with its own internal problems than with spiritual demands of modern society. It turned out that the Western Protestant sects took up the initiative of enlightenment of former atheists, and it is not surprising that, with their direct and somewhat insistent behavior, they are gaining the sympathy of more and more ordinary people.
Russian atheism may well one day die, but this will happen when the country has not only been baptized, but has been enlightened and born again.
The Orthodox Church should play a key role in this spiritual rebirth. But this can happen only after it has become a truly national Church: not the Church of the State (whatever the State is), but the Church, of the nation, of the people. To become such, the Church must come out of its shell, must learn to speak the language that the people speak, must face the demands of society and answer them adequately.
At the present time our Church is struggling to find its new identity in post-Communist and post-atheist Russia. There are, it seems to me, two main dangers. The first is that of a return to the pre-revolutionary situation, when there was a State Church which became less and less the Church of the nation. If, at some stage in the development of society, such a role would be offered to the Church by the State, it would be a huge mistake to accept it. In this case the Church will be again rejected by the majority of the nation, as it was rejected in 1917. The seventy years of Soviet persecution were an experience of fiery purgatory for the Russian Church, from which it should have come out entirely renewed. The most dangerous error would be not to learn from what happened and to return to the pre-revolutionary situation, as some members of the clergy wish to do nowadays.
The second danger is that of militant Orthodoxy, which would be a post-atheist counterpart of militant atheism. I mean an Orthodoxy that fights against Jews, against masons, against democracy, against Western culture, against enlightenment. This type of Orthodoxy is being preached even by some key members of the hierarchy, and it has many supporters within the Church. This kind of Orthodoxy, especially if it gains the support of the State, may force Russian atheism to withdraw temporarily to the catacombs. But Russian atheism, will not be vanquished until the transfiguration of the soul and the need to live according to the Gospel have become the
only message of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Never stand at the Synaxis having hatred toward anyone so as not to banish the Comforter.
On the day of the Synaxis do not judge, do not argue, but remain praying and reading in the church until the appointed hour in which you will accomplish the divine and sacred ceremonies; and thus stand with compunction and purity of heart in the holy sanctuary, not looking around here and there, but standing with shuddering and fear before the heavenly King.
Do not, because of human weakness, hasten through or cut short the prayers, neither try to please persons, but look only toward the King Who is present and the hosts of Angels that surround Him.
Make yourself worthy by the holy canons.
Do not concelebrate with whom it is forbidden.
See in Whose presence you stand, how you serve and to whom you dispense.
Do not ignore the Master's commandment and those of the holy Apostles, "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw pearls before swine."
See that you do not deliver the Son of God into the hands of the unworthy.
Do not feel ashamed before those who are glorious on earth, neither before him who happens to wear the crown at the time.
To those worthy of Communion dispense the Gifts freely, as you also have received.
Do not dispense unto him who does not observe the divine canons.
See that you do not let moth, nor mouse, nor any other thing touch the Divine Mysteries out of negligence, neither allow them to be exposed to dampness or smoke or to be contaminated by the unholy or the unworthy.
These things and such things preserve in order to save yourself and those who heed you.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
January 21, 2011
On Wednesday 19 January 2011 a presentation was held in the Union Book Gallery (Στοά του Βιβλίου) in Athens of a new two-volume work by His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou titled "Empirical Dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church According To The Oral Traditions of Father John Romanides".
The event/presentation was organized by the distributor, the Holy Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos and Pelagia of the Holy Metropolis of Thebes and Levadia.
As the Abbess Silouani said in the opening of the event: "Until now there has been no presentation in Greece of any books by His Eminence, but I found it necessary to have a presentation of this present work 'Empirical Dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church According To The Oral Traditions of Father John Romanides' in order to celebrate and honor the personality of the late Protopresbyter and University Professor, Fr. John, on the occasion of it being a decade from his repose" (+ 11/01/2001).
The event was attended by His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, Bishops (among whom was Metropolitan George of Thebes and Levadia in whose jurisdiction the Monastery belongs), University Professors, Priests, and laity who filled not only Union Book Gallery but also a second room to capacity.
It is worth noting the presence of certain persons, in addition to the speakers, particularly associated with Father John, such as his sister Mrs. Parthenia Romanides - Ott, who traveled from New Zealand to attend the event, and Mr. Athanasios Sakarellos, a student of Fr. John to whom, in his office, was given courses of theology and history before and after Fr. John's retirement, who saved several taped speeches of his, etc.
The speakers who presented the book and spoke about Fr. John Romanides were the Reverend Protopresbyter and Emeritus Professor of the Theological School of the University of Athens Fr. George Metallinos, the Reverend Protopresbyter and Secretary of the Synodal Commission on Inter-Orthodox Relations Fr. Stephanos Avramidis, and Professor of the Theological School of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki Mr. Lambros Siasos.
The event began with a short preface by the Abbess Silouani of the distributor Holy Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos, who spoke of her editorial work, since the Sisterhood "in parallel with other monastic tasks, engages also in editing, translation and distribution of literary works of our Spiritual Father, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Agios Vlasios Mr. Hierotheos. It is a service that resulted from his years of pastoral ministry, his involvement with the texts of the Fathers of the Church, and contributes to his missionary purposes and the preservation of our Monastery."
His Beatitude Mr. Ieronymos thanked as well Metropolitan George of Thebes and Levadia for his paternal protection and practical interest in the Monastery.
His Beatitude Mr. Ieronymos in his address expressed his excitement and joy at the event in which would be examined "a deep look into the issues of Father John Romanides, who possessed very strong hands and a strong mind." The thrill of it was attributed to four main reasons:
First, because of the long acquaintance and good cooperation with the then Clerical Preacher and now Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Mr. Hierotheos and with the Sisterhood of the Holy Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos which he leads and which lives and walks within the Orthodox monastic tradition of the Church. Second, for his personal joy in every new book of the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos. He mentioned that each time one is published, he asks: "How does he have time for all this stuff? How does he have time to be present everywhere at all the events, to give speeches on every issue, to respond to the press, and to leave us all in anticipated surprise, such as in this book?" Third, his personal acquaintance with Fr. John Romanides, with whom His Beatitude had many lengthy discussions. Lastly, because the presentation allowed teachers and clerics to discuss "fixed points which will be trampled" in our days, days of confusion.
He also said: "I believe that when we have such instructors, whether it be University Professors with this spirit, or revered Bishops of our Church, or scholars of these works and presenters, I think that these particular antibodies in our times will help us tackle the many diseases, and will help us find the path we need."
Finally, the Archbishop ended his speech with his gratitude and blessings: "Thank you very much Your Eminence, Holy One of Nafpaktos, and we pray in our hearts that God gives you much strength and enduring patience - not just patience -, so your work may be fruitful and may be for us a source of optimism, a hope for a difficult path."
Afterwords a few words were spoken by the sister of Fr. John, Mrs. Parthenia, who with the help of translator and presenter at the event Mrs. Efi Mavromichalis, spoke with evident emotion of her personal experiences with her late brother, with whom she had never lost contact; even though they lived literally on opposite sides of the earth.
She spoke of his many excellent skills and talents, his ability to navigate many types of aeroplanes, his music and athletics, she expressed the emotion for being able to attend the event of the presentation with colleagues and friends and people who loved and honored her brother, and expressed gratitude to the author: "Your Eminence Hierotheos, I knew of you very much before I met you. How unfortunate that the first time we met was at the funeral of my brother. I fervently thank you for your kindness because you uphold everything of my brother, and you were strongly loyal and faithful to him. My brother together with my mother are smiling and are very happy."
Fr. George Metallinos spoke next as coordinator of the event. Fr. George paralleled the "resurrection earthquake" which followed the passing of Fr. John in Modern Greek reality with the publication of the present volume, in which the author offers "the very essence of the theology of our new great dogmaticians", in a version that is exemplary and expressed appropriately for this purpose.
He said: "I believe that the Holy One of Nafpaktos was the most suitable for the synthesis of this monumental project and theologically is the best successor of Fr. John, and as an ecclesiastical hierarch even informally expresses to the Holy Synod of our Church constantly the empirical theology of Orthodoxy, the essence of our theology that is." He considers it a very important publication considering the reigning spiritual and theological crisis of our nation.
Briefly he went over his personal assessment of of the work of Fr. John, renewing the belief that we can speak about a pre- and post-Romanides epoch in theological matters in Greece.
Father John "upset all the needlessness, the pietism and magical vision we had for the Church and her mission in the world. He brought back to the surface the need for asceticism and a holy spiritual life, the need for uncreated divine grace and how to acquire it by means of synergy with our God. Above all, he separated us from intellectual theology, and rejoined dogma and worship and tied them with history, enlightened with the light of our tradition, and he saw this in a western academic environment."
Fr. George also spoke of the students of the late ever-memorable Fr. John, the hidden and known, as well as his enemies, which in the person of Fr. John they are at war with the patristic theological tradition.
He also noted the skill of the book by presenting the direct and natural personality of Fr. John Romanides. Finally he ended with words by the ever-memorable Fr. Theoklitos Dionysiatis about Fr. John.
The next talk was delivered by Fr. Stephanos Avramidis, who spoke of his old acquaintance with Fr. John in America, where he was professor at Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston, and how he enjoyed his "exhilarating teaching".
This is where Fr. John "opened their eyes" to theology, he taught them the theological foundations of different methods and lifestyles observed between Orthodox and Catholics and Protestants who dominated the population, giving Orthodox criteria to theologize and choose from and to cease using the heterodox theological counter-rhetoric. He taught them about Orthodox dogma as the experience of deification, introducing them to the scientific study of patristic theological thought on the one hand, and the philosophical background of the heterodox and heretics on the other hand in order to understand in depth the cause of the diversification of their theology. He cleared away concepts of scholastic and philosophical misconceptions from the Bible, etc.
Comparing this with presenting the new book, Fr. Stephanos highlighted three key theological criteria/thoughts of Father John:
A. The distinction between created and uncreated,
B. The lack of any similarity between them,
C. The distinction between essence and energy.
He also spoke of the criticism of the theology of Blessed Augustine and the dogmatic and symbolic works of the Orthodox Church.
As to the similarities which bound him to Fr. John, he emphasized the love of his lessons, their common origin, their common spiritual father Fr. George Florovsky, of whom he made extensive references, the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration in Boston which at one time gave hospitality to the mother of Fr. John, or "Grandma Romanides" (γιάγια-Ρωμανίδη) as the students called her.
Lastly he spoke of their reacquainting in Greece where they cooperated in their service to the Church and the Holy Synod. Fr. Stephanos finished by saying: "When he left us on 1 November 2001 to go near to Christ Whom he loved so much and served, to all of us who knew him and loved him, and by his personality and teachings made an indelible impression, he left a void within us, which even until now time has not been able to heal. May his memory be eternal."
Professor Lambros Siasos presented the book with a particular eloquence and rhetoric. He spoke of the critical method he read the book taught to him by Fr. John in order to judge the publication, observing even the title and cover, describing "the subtle hand embroidery, the love for beauty, the uncommon, the novel."
He spoke of the remarkable control of the vast material in the hands of the writer, who worked with the method and thought of Fr. John, since the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos was taught by Fr. John Romanides "and now it is something honorable, honoring his teacher."
He presented the original title of the book of two known terms of "empirical theology" and "dogmatic and symbolic theology". He went from the "phenomenon" of the book to the "noumenon", underlining that "the communion of the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ occurs with the synthesis of the Holy Mysteries and asceticism."
He presented the book as a cross, at the basis of which is the lamentation of a Bishop for all the changes which hurt the ecclesiastical body, which he does not list with his own words, but "puts the voice of an intractable Cappadocian to recount them".
While ostensibly the book follows the outline of a conventional dogmatics book, it is presented with the Doric form of the Symbol of Faith and "overturns the catering and support to the establishment", with a central axis that elaborates the empirical fact of God's self-manifestation to the purified Prophets, Apostles, and Saints, followed by the recording of the manifestation of that revelation with created words and meanings, with the highest form of theophany being Pentecost.
He described the feat of the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos as "using the teachings of Romanides he completed what Fr. John did not have time to", and introduced the hesychastic, ascetic, and empirical theology in all the chapters of theology, in this case dogmatics, and introduced it, or as the author of the introduction says, he "restored" it, within the ecclesiastical body, that is, within the Holy Mysteries. He stressed two key points concerning the entire work: a) the distinction between nous and logic or noetic energy and logical energy, and b) the distinction between ecclesiastical empirical theology and speculation.
He added that in accordance with St. Gregory Palamas there can be highlighted the distinction between the experience of divine theology and the experience of demonic "theology".
Lastly, he said that the success of the book is already given in terms of traffic, and on the spiritual side will manifest itself every time a person reaches the stage of perfection towards heaven and every time a priest will heal by the Grace of God a person.
Finally the writer His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos spoke, who thanked the presenters and presented the four "how's" which concern the publication of the project, that is, a) how he discovered Fr. John Romanides b) how he appreciated his writings c) how he worked to get done the two-volume work of "empirical dogmatics" and d) how he felt about Fr. John Romanides, particularly as he worked with his writings.
His Eminence stressed the unifying vision that was the theological work of Father John on the basis of the spiritual therapy of Christians, as well as the criticism issued to heretics and heterodox which formed this perspective, in that he saw the heresies and falsehoods as disruptive of the unity of Christians.
He announced that he was studying this particular aspect of the theological offerings of Father John and eventually will publish this study. Finally His Eminence thanked the organizers of the event who helped in editing the book.
In particularly he mentioned the distributor Holy Monastery, Mr. Athanasios Sakarello because in the office of Fr. John he was taught by him and he saved a large number of tapes, "His Eminence Metropolitan of Thebes and Levadia Mr. George, dear brother in Christ, who blessed this effort, which is the missionary work of the Monastery and the handiwork of the nuns," His Beatitude Mr. Ieronymos, "who as Bishop of Thebes and Levadia protected me and the Monastery and was the main cause of all this work, even the distribution." He prayed that "God may rest the soul of the blessed Fr. John Romanides, the Theologian and 'Prophet of Romaniosini' for the hard work he did to teach the 'empirical dogmatics' and, of course, the reminder that we have a duty to care for how dogma will become our food and life."
His Eminence concluded the speech with a quotation from Alexei Komiakov, according to which the leading figures are not leaders of their generation, because they go far ahead their generation that cannot comprehend them because they are not ready, but they lead the subsequent generations.
One such leader was, in accordance with His Eminence, Fr. John Romanides, who affected his generation, but will affect more future generations.
Father George Metallinos closing the whole event thanked His Eminence for everything, and announced the happy event of the translation of works by Fr. John in languages of the Eastern Orthodox, which was "blocked by an invisible hand."
The event ended with a video presentation and audiovisual material was heard with the voice of Father John.
We will close this brief report of the important event/presentation with the words of Fr. George Metallinos: "If the passing of the blessed Fr. John Romanides created a 'resurrection earthquake' in Greek reality, which delivered us from our theological-ecclesiastical babylonian captivity, the same applies to the two-volume work of His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Agios Vlasios Mr. Hierotheos concerning the theology of Father John."
Translated by John Sanidopoulos
“Hence, the Shepherds of the Church must not speak only about the Antichrist and his forerunners, but first and foremost they must help Christians to live in such a way that the Grace of Baptism and Chrismation is activated, by the keeping of Christ’s commandments and doctrines, by experiencing these in one’s life in an Orthodox manner, by repentance, and by inner noetic prayer of the heart; for in this way they will be able to distinguish between the energies of Christ and the energies of the Antichrist.”
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Navpaktos and Hagios Vlasios
From time to time, we hear talk about the coming of the Antichrist and what he will bring about among people and in the world. Indeed, there are those who would even determine the specific time period in which he would appear.
Many people ask us about this subject, but the answers are to be found in Holy Scriptures, and especially in the Epistles of St. John the Evangelist, the Apostle Paul, and the Revelation of St. John, and in all of the pastoral practice of the Church.
In what follows, I would simply like to make some suggestions, primarily on how one is to deal with this situation.
* * *
1. In his First Catholic Epistle, St. John the Evangelist speaks about the coming of the Antichrist, and also about the activity of antichrists; indeed, he writes to the Christians that the hour is at hand.
In particular, he writes:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that the antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (I John 2:18).
According to the interpretation of St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, who uses texts by ecclesiastical writers, apart from the Antichrist, who will appear towards the end of the world and near the Second Coming of Christ, there are also many antichrists, who are already implementing the work of the Antichrist, both in his age and in every age, and who “are forerunners and heralds of the one who is intrinsically, primarily, and truly called the Antichrist.”
Just as there were Prophets before the coming of Christ, so, also, before the coming of the Antichrist, his own forerunners, the false prophets, will appear.
Thus, according to the interpretation of many, antichrists are called “the impious heresiarchs,” who uphold and defend “the profane doctrines of the Antichrist.”
This is the reason why St. John the Evangelist, in the following verse, writes:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (I John 2:19).
These were those Christians who had learned revealed truth and the Angelic way of life, but, since they were enslaved to sensual pleasures, were unable to comprehend
“the majesty of the heavenly good things, the beauty of the noetic world, and the bliss and truly ineffable joy of the ages to come,” according to St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite.
They therefore returned to the life of apostasy, “and did not desire to become true devotees of the pure life in Christ.”
• Consequently, before the coming of the Antichrist, the forerunners of the Antichrist manifest themselves: that is, the various heretics, but also those Christians who, instead of living the life in Christ with purity of heart and true faith of mind, live with passions and weaknesses, without inner prayer or true faith in God.
2. St. John the Evangelist, however, does not confine himself to speaking about the Antichrist and his forerunners, but also speaks about how we must deal with the Antichrist and his forerunners. This is why, immediately following the previous lines, he writes: “But ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (I John 2:20).
In other words, Christians have received anointing from God and know how to distinguish between the energies of the Antichrist and antichrists and the energies of Christ. This does not come about by the reading of books, but by the anointing that exists in the heart and that teaches.
St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, once again explaining what this anointing is, writes:
“that is, you have received the Grace and energy of the Holy Spirit in your hearts from the Master Christ, the Holy of Holies.”
And further on, referring to how one receives the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he writes:
“Christians receive the Grace and energy of the Holy Spirit through Holy Baptism, and indeed through the anointing of the Holy Myron, and perhaps this is why the Grace of the Holy Spirit is called anointing and sealing, having the same name as the anointing and sealing of the Holy Myron; wherefore when the Priest anoints Christians with it, he concludes with these words: ‘the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
The anointing of the Holy Spirit is the seal of the Holy Spirit
that takes place during the Mystery of Chrismation through the Holy Myron, on the day of our Baptism.
In what follows, in the same chapter, St. John the Evangelist once again states that the holy anointing received by the Christian at Holy Baptism teaches him to distinguish between truth and falsehood.
“But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him” (I John 2:27).
According to the interpretation of St. Nikodemos, who uses texts by the Fathers and writers of the Church, the anointing that man has received is the Grace of the Holy Spirit, which abides in the hearts of Christians, and according to the words of St. John the Evangelist, Christians are exhorted “to abide unchanging and unalterable forever in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love and faith.”
And, as is his wont, St. Nikodemos writes: “how and in what manner” does man remain unchanging with regard to the gift of the Holy Spirit? This happens when man abides steadfastly in the doctrines of Theology and of the Incarnate OEconomy, not just rationally, but also existentially.
• Thus, whoever speaks about the Antichrist and his forerunners should make reference to all of the passages in St. John the Evangelist, and should specify primarily what St. John says about the manner in which we must confront the Antichrist and his forerunners.
Christians distinguish true prophets from false prophets and Christ from the Antichrist only by the activation of Chrismation, which they have received from God and which works in their hearts.
3. The Apostle Paul, also, speaks about the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which is also called a seal.
To be precise, in his [Second] Epistle to the Corinthians, he writes:
“Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Corinthians 1:21-22).
It is most clearly apparent, here, that God is the One Who gives confirmation to Christians. He is the One that anoints us. Anointing is identified with sealing, and this is done by God, Who gives us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
If one examines other similar passages from the Apostle Paul to discover the meaning of the earnest of the Spirit and what it means for one to sing hymns and spiritual songs in his heart, then he will understand that this anointing and seal is noetic prayer of the heart, which is an expression of the love that man feels for God.
The Name of Christ has been written on the person that has received the seal of the Holy Spirit.
St. John the Evangelist mentions this subject in his Revelation:
“And I saw another Angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four Angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:2-4).
It is unambiguous, here, that the Angel who had “the seal of the living God” sealed the servants of God on their foreheads.
A similar passage is found in another chapter of Revelation:
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Sion, and with Him a hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1).
In other words, the saved, who stood with the Lamb–Christ–, had the Name of Christ and His Father written on their foreheads.
And as the text then says, they sang a “new song” before the throne of God, the content of which they alone knew.
• Thus, the sealing of Christians with the Name of Christ and His Father is bound up with the “new song”; that is, noetic prayer, which is unknown to people who have no experience of this condition.
4. All of this means that, with the Mystery of Holy Chrismation, which is bound up with the Mystery of Holy Baptism, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, through the sealing of the parts of our body, when the Priest said: “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
This anointing in the heart acts as illumination of the mind: as inspiration, as love for God, as prayer, as hope in eternal life, and as the earnest of the Spirit.
The confession of the Martyrs and the martyrdom that follows is the activation of Holy Chrismation, by means of which the Martyr beholds God; this is why the martyrdom of the Saints is not a simple matter of a rational process, sentimental excitement, or an impetuous action, but it is the fruit of the vision of God and deification.
When we commit some sin, however, then the anointing in the depths of our hearts is activated through repentance. In other words, repentance that is expressed as an inclination to change one’s life, as love for God, and as prayer, is the activation of the Grace of Holy Chrismation. This anointing, moreover, is activated by noetic prayer of the heart, which is the “new song” that is sung by those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
When a person, however, denies Christ, departs from the Orthodox Church, and adopts heretical confessions and religions, he then loses this gift. And when he returns to the Orthodox Church, he must once again receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit through the Mystery of Chrismation.
• Hence, the Shepherds of the Church must not speak only about the Antichrist and his forerunners, but first and foremost they must help Christians to live in such a way that the Grace of Baptism and Chrismation is activated, by the keeping of Christ’s commandments and doctrines, by experiencing these in one’s life in an Orthodox manner, by repentance, and by inner noetic prayer of the heart, for in this way they will be able to distinguish between the energies of Christ and the energies of the Antichrist.
Otherwise, they will confuse uncreated with created energies and, what is worse, they will regard the energies of the Antichrist as the energies of Christ, and vice versa.
This discretion constitutes Orthodox pastoral care. And its essence is what is called the Hesychastic Tradition.
* * *
All of those who are vouchsafed the anointing of their hearts by the Holy Spirit—that is, the writing of the Name of the Lamb of the Revelation and of His Father in their hearts — will escape from being sealed by the Beast of the Apocalypse and his father, just as they will escape his forerunners.
This is the essence of Orthodox pastoral care, which is bound up with the Hesychastic Tradition of the Church.
This is why the preservation of Orthodox monasticism is of great importance. Every alteration to the Hesychastic spirit of Orthodox monasticism helps the forerunners of the Antichrist to do their job well and deceive the people.
Source: Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Παρέμβαση, Navpaktos, No. 122 (June 2006), pp. 1 and 8; Ὀρθόδοξος Τύπος, No. 1654 (4 August 2006), pp. 3 and 4.
DAVID IV, the greatest of the Georgian Kings, ascended the throne in 1088, at a time when Georgia had been utterly devastated by incursions of Seljuk Turks.
King David was exceedingly devout and God-fearing. He would arise before daybreak to pray, and would always finish his activities at midnight with the reading of his most cherished book, Holy Scripture, from which he would not separate himself even on the battlefield!
He waged constant and unrelenting battles against the enemies of, and conspirators against, his nation’s freedom: the Turks, Armenians, Persians, and others. He did not rely on his own powers, but rather on prayer and Divine help.
Once, during a battle against the Turks, the Patron Saint of Georgia, the Great Martyr George, appeared and drove away the barbarians.
Another time, a thunderbolt struck him. He was saved by a gilt Icon of the Archangel Michael that he wore on his chest.
His deeds of mercy and philanthropy were countless. In particular, he assisted in the restoration and rebuilding of Churches and monasteries, not only in Georgia, but also in the Holy Land, on Mt. Sinai, on the Holy Mountain (Mt. Athos), and in Cyprus.
In addition to endeavoring to regain freedom for his nation, he also took pains to normalize ecclesiastical life. He convened a great national Church Synod in 1103, which confirmed the Orthodox Faith and regulated ecclesiastical order.
The Orthodox Faith then experienced a significant blossoming — the beginning of the “Golden Age” of Orthodoxy in Georgia, in which the country experienced progress in all sectors, in literature, and in the the arts.
In 1122, the Saint wrested Tbilisi from the hands of the Turks. Rightly, then, was he dubbed “the Restorer.”
He composed a Canon of Repentance based on the model of the celebrated Canon by St. Andrew of Crete — an indication not only of his Godly learning, but also of his own profound and conscientious cultivation of this deifying virtue.
King David peacefully reposed, full of Grace, on January 26, 1125 (the day on which his memory is celebrated by the Georgian Church). As a model of humility, he ordered that he be buried at the entrance of the Monastery of Gelati — which he built, and which stands to this day — so that those entering therein would, of necessity, walk over his grave. This did, in fact, happen for centuries, until the Translation of his Holy Relics!
Through the intercessions of the Holy King David of Georgia, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen!
Read more here.
The Boeotian Saints have been honored since 26 January 2002, when on this day the right aisle of the Holy Church of Saint Nicholas the New was dedicated to them, and with the blessing of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece it operated the same year on the Second Sunday of Great Lent. Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Halkida blessed the silver-encased icon found in the church with Holy Myrrh in accordance with Ecclesiastical Order.
Dr. Haralambi Bousias, a hymnographer of the Church of Alexandria, was contacted by the Parish Council for an Apolytikion, Kontakion and Megalynarion to be written. The Service written by Fr. Gerasimos Mikragiannanitou (+ 2002) was published for parish use also. It was established that the Apolytikion be chanted every Sunday in the church and the entire Service be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Great Lent.
A wooden Proskynitarion with the icon of the Saints was placed in the nave of the church in the right aisle, painted by iconographer Mr. Elias Dimitrelou. It features the saints full-bodied and includes: first row - the Apostles Luke and Rufus surrounded by the hierarchs John and Regino; second row - Saints Clement, Germanos, and Seraphim; third row - Nikitas and Meletios; above them like a crown is Hosios Loukas.
See also: Οι Άγιοι της Βοιωτίας
Ἀπολυτίκιον Ἦχος πλ. α’. Τὸν Συνάναρχον Λόγον.
Βοιωτὼν τοὺς Ἐφόρους ἀνεφημήσωμεν, Λουκᾶν Ἀπόστολον, Ῥοῦφον, Στειρίου κλέος Λουκᾶν, Σεραφείμ, Νικήταν, Κλήμεντα, Μελέτιον, Ῥηγίνον καὶ σὺν Γερμανώ, Ἰωάννην τὸν σοφὸν Ἐπίσκοπον Καλοκτένην. Αὐτῶν λιτὰς τάς ἀόκνους πρὸς τὸν Σωτήρα ἐκδεχόμενοι.
Μεγαλυνάριον Ἦχος πλ. δ’. Τὴν Τιμιωτέραν.
Σεραφείμ, Νικήταν, Ροῦφον, Λουκάν, Κλήμεντα, Ρηγίνον, Καλοκτένην τε Γερμανόν, καί σύν Μελετίῳ, Λουκάν πνευματοφόρον ως Βοιωτῶν προστάτας ὕμνοις γεραίρομεν.
July 29, 2009
The Rector of the Yelokhovo Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow, Protopresbyter Matfey Stadnyuk, said that over 220 priests came out of his native village Zalistsi (Zalestsy) in the Ternopol Region, which has about a thousand houses.
In his interview to the Argumenty i Fakty weekly, Fr. Matfey told that two of his late brothers were priests too.
"Our village was special, people were very believing, enchurched. Every ordinary woman knew more about liturgical things than some modern priests," the Yelokhovo Rector said.
He believes the reason for this was the "great influence" of the Pochaev Lavra located ten kilometers from the village.
"The Lavra has always been a bastion of true Orthodox faith in our land, and the bastion of canonical unity of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine with the Moscow Patriarchate. This unity has been constantly attacked from various sides. However, no one has ever managed to break it," Fr. Matfey is convinced.
Each Family Brought Up a Priest In a Ukrainian Village
January 26, 2011
Each family has brought up a priest at the Ukrainian village of Zalistsi, which has 500 properties.
"Our people are pious, the crime situation is quiet. Not one of our residents will dare violate God's commandments," the secretary of the local council was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Argumenty i Fakty paper.
220 priests who are natives of Zalistsi work in the Orthodox churches of Ukraine, Russia and Germany. Villagers believe the reason they brought up so many priests is that in Soviet times they had a powerful spiritual guide - the rector of the local church Hieromonk Savva.
All the priests annually come to the Divine service of their village on August 2, feastday of the Prophet Elijah, when the local church celebrates its main feast.
See also this article in Ukrainian.
By St. Peter of Damascus
The passions are: harshness, trickery, malice, perversity, mindlessness, licentiousness, enticement, dullness, lack of understanding, idleness, sluggishness, stupidity, flattery, silliness, idiocy, madness, derangement, coarseness, rashness, cowardice, lethargy, dearth of good actions, moral errors, greed, over-frugality, ignorance, folly, spurious knowledge, forgetfulness, lack of discrimination, obduracy, injustice, evil intention, a conscienceless soul, slothfulness, idle chatter, breaking of faith, wrongdoing, sinfulness, lawlessness, criminality, passion, seduction, assent to evil, mindless coupling, demonic provocation, dallying, bodily comfort beyond what is required, vice, stumbling, sickness of soul, enervation, weakness of intellect, negligence, laziness, a reprehensible despondency, disdain of God, aberration, transgression, unbelief, lack of faith, wrong belief, poverty of faith, heresy, fellowship in heresy, polytheism, idolatry, ignorance of God, impiety, magic, astrology, divination, sorcery, denial of God, the love of idols, dissipation, profligacy, loquacity, indolence, self-love, inattentiveness, lack of progress, deceit, delusion, audacity, witchcraft, defilement, the eating of unclean food, soft living, dissoluteness, voracity, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem, pride, presumption, self-elation, boastfulness, infatuation, foulness, satiety, doltishness, torpor, sensuality, over-eating, gluttony, insatiability, secret eating, hoggishness, solitary eating, indifference, fickleness, self-will, thoughtlessness, self-satisfaction, love of popularity, ignorance of beauty, uncouthness, gaucherie, light-mindedness, boorishness, rudeness, contentiousness, quarrelsomeness, abusiveness, shouting, brawling, fighting, rage, mindless desire, gall, exasperation, giving offence, enmity, meddlesomeness, chicanery, asperity, slander, censure, calumny, condemnation, accusation, hatred, railing, insolence, dishonor, ferocity, frenzy, severity, aggressiveness, forswearing oneself, oathtaking, lack of compassion, hatred of one’s brothers, partiality, patricide, matricide, breaking fasts, laxity, acceptance of bribes, theft, rapine, jealousy, strife, envy, indecency, jesting, vilification, mockery, derision, exploitation, oppression, disdain of one’s neighbor, flogging, making sport of others, hanging, throttling, heartlessness, implacability, covenant-breaking, bewitchment, harshness, shamelessness, impudence, obfuscation of thoughts, obtuseness, mental blindness, attraction to what is fleeting, impassionedness, frivolity, disobedience, dullwittedness, drowsiness of soul, excessive sleep, fantasy, heavy drinking, drunkenness, uselessness, slackness, mindless enjoyment, self-indulgence, venery, using foul language, effeminacy, unbridled desire, burning lust, masturbation, pimping, adultery, sodomy, bestiality, defilement, wantonness, a stained soul, incest, uncleanliness, pollution, sordidness, feigned affection, laughter, jokes, immodest dancing, clapping, improper songs, revelry, fluteplaying, license of tongue, excessive love of order, insubordination, disorderliness, reprehensible collusion, conspiracy, warfare, killing, brigandry, sacrilege, illicit gains, usury, wiliness, grave-robbing, hardness of heart, obloquy, complaining, blasphemy, fault-finding, ingratitude, malevolence, contemptuousness, pettiness, confusion, lying, verbosity, empty words, mindless joy, daydreaming, mindless friendship, bad habits, nonsensicality, silly talk, garrulity, niggardliness, depravity, intolerance, irritability, affluence, rancor, misuse, ill-temper, clinging to life, ostentation, affectation, pusillanimity, satanic love, curiosity, contumely, lack of the fear of God, unteachability, senselessness, haughtiness, self-vaunting, self-inflation, scorn for one’s neighbor, mercilessness, insensitivity, hopelessness, spiritual paralysis, hatred of God, despair, suicide, a falling away from God in all things, utter destruction -- altogether 298 passions.
These, then, are the passions which are named in the Holy Scriptures. I have set them down in a single list, as I did at the beginning of my discourse with the various books I have used. I have not tried, and nor would I have been able, to arrange them all in order; this would have been beyond my powers, for the reason given by St. John Climacus: ‘If you seek understanding among wicked men, you will not find it.’ For all that the demons produce is disorderly. In common with the godless and the unjust, the demons have but one purpose: to destroy the souls of those who accept their evil counsel. Yet sometimes they actually help men to attain holiness. In such instances they are conquered by the patience and faith of those who put their trust in the Lord, and who through their good actions and resistance to evil thoughts counteract the demons and bring down curses upon them.
From The Philokalia: The Complete Text compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, Volume Three.
By Dinesh D'Souza
Many people have uncritically accepted the idea that there is a longstanding war between science and religion. We find this war advertised in many of the leading atheist tracts such as those by Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Every few months one of the leading newsweeklies does a story on this subject. Little do the peddlers of this paradigm realize that they are victims of nineteenth-century atheist propaganda.
About a hundred years ago, two anti-religious bigots named John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White wrote books promoting the idea of an irreconcilable conflict between science and God. The books were full of facts that have now been totally discredited by scholars. But the myths produced by Draper and Dickson continue to be recycled. They are believed by many who consider themselves educated, and they even find their way into the textbooks. In this article I expose several of these myths, focusing especially on the Galileo case, since Galileo is routinely portrayed as a victim of religious persecution and a martyr to the cause of science.
The Flat Earth Fallacy: According to the atheist narrative, the medieval Christians all believed that the earth was flat until the brilliant scientists showed up in the modern era to prove that it was round. In reality, educated people in the Middle Ages knew that the earth was round. In fact, the ancient Greeks in the fifth century B.C. knew the earth was a globe. They didn’t need modern science to point out the obvious. They could see that when a ship went over the horizon, the hull and the mast disappear at different times. Even more telling, during an eclipse they could see the earth’s shadow on the moon. Look fellas, it’s round!
Huxley’s Mythical Put-Down: We read in various books about the great debate between Darwin’s defender Thomas Henry Huxley and poor Bishop Wilberforce. As the story goes, Wilberforce inquired of Huxley whether he was descended from an ape on his father or mother’s side, and Huxley winningly responded that he would rather be descended from an ape than from an ignorant bishop who was misled people about the findings of science. A dramatic denouement, to be sure, but the only problem is that it never happened. There is no record of it in the proceedings of the society that held the debate, and Darwin’s friend Joseph Hooker who informed him about the debate said that Huxley made no rejoinder to Wilberforce’s arguments.
Darwin Against the Christians: As myth would have it, when Darwin’s published his Origin of Species, the scientists lined up on one side and the Christians lined up on the other side. In reality, there were good scientific arguments made both in favor of Darwin and against him. The British naturalist Richard Owen, the Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, and the renowned physicist Lord Kelvin all had serious reservations about Darwin’s theory. Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb points out that while some Christians found evolution inconsistent with the Bible, many Christians rallied to Darwin’s side. Typical was the influential Catholic journal Dublin Review which extravagantly praised Darwin’s book while registering only minor objections.
The Experiment Galileo Didn’t Do: We read in textbooks about how Galileo went to the Tower of Pisa and dropped light and heavy bodies to the ground. He discovered that they hit the ground at the same time, thus refuting centuries of idle medieval theorizing. Actually Galileo didn’t do any such experiments; one of his students did. The student discovered what we all can discover by doing similar experiments ourselves: the heavy bodies hit the ground first! As historian of science Thomas Kuhn points out, it is only in the absence of air resistance that all bodies hit the ground at the same time.
Galileo Was the First to Prove Heliocentrism: Actually, Copernicus advanced the heliocentric theory that the sun, not the earth, is at the center, and that the earth goes around the sun. He did this more than half a century before Galileo. But Copernicus had no direct evidence, and he admitted that there were serious obstacles from experience that told against his theory. For instance, if the earth is moving rapidly, why don’t objects thrown up into the air land a considerable distance away from their starting point? Galileo defended heliocentrism, but one of his most prominent arguments was wrong. Galileo argued that the earth’s regular motion sloshes around the water in the oceans and explains the tides. In reality, tides have more to do with the moon’s gravitational force acting upon the earth.
The Church Dogmatically Opposed the New Science: In reality, the Church was the leading sponsor of the new science and Galileo himself was funded by the church. The leading astronomers of the time were Jesuit priests. They were open to Galileo’s theory but told him the evidence for it was inconclusive. This was the view of the greatest astronomer of the age, Tyco Brahe. The Church’s view of heliocentrism was hardly a dogmatic one. When Cardinal Bellarmine met with Galileo he said, “While experience tells us plainly that the earth is standing still, if there were a real proof that the sun is in the center of the universe…and that the sun goes not go round the earth but the earth round the sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of scripture which appear to teach the contrary, and rather admit that we did not understand them than declare an opinion to be false which is proved to be true. But this is not a thing to be done in haste, and as for myself, I shall not believe that there are such proofs until they are shown to me.” Galileo had no such proofs.
Galileo Was A Victim of Torture and Abuse: This is perhaps the most recurring motif, and yet it is entirely untrue. Galileo was treated by the church as a celebrity. When summoned by the Inquisition, he was housed in the grand Medici Villa in Rome. He attended receptions with the Pope and leading cardinals. Even after he was found guilty, he was first housed in a magnificent Episcopal palace and then placed under “house arrest” although he was permitted to visit his daughters in a nearby convent and to continue publishing scientific papers.
The Church Was Wrong To Convict Galileo of Heresy: But Galileo was neither charged nor convicted of heresy. He was charged with teaching heliocentrism in specific contravention of his own pledge not to do so. This is a charge on which Galileo was guilty. He had assured Cardinal Bellarmine that given the sensitivity of the issue, he would not publicly promote heliocentrism. Yet when a new pope was named, Galileo decided on his own to go back on his word. Asked about this in court, he said his Dialogue on the Two World Systems did not advocate heliocentrism. This is a flat-out untruth as anyone who reads Galileo’s book can plainly see. Even Galileo’s supporters, and there were many, found it difficult to defend him at this point.
What can we conclude from all this? Galileo was right about heliocentrism, but we know that only in retrospect because of evidence that emerged after Galileo’s death. The Church should not have tried him at all, although Galileo’s reckless conduct contributed to his fate. Even so, his fate was not so terrible. Historian Gary Ferngren concludes that “the traditional picture of Galileo as a martyr to intellectual freedom and as a victim of the church’s opposition to science has been demonstrated to be little more than a caricature.” Remember this the next time you hear some half-educated atheist rambling on about “the war between religion and science.”
Read also: The Enduring Warfare Theses
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The works of Saint Gregory the Theologian include orations, letters, and poems. Everything he penned bears the mark of a polished rhetorician.
His forty-five orations were used as models in the schools of rhetoric. His five Theological Orations, which were preached in the Church of the Resurrection in Constantinople, wherein he explains the Nicaean doctrine of the Trinity, won him the title of "Theologian". The first oration is a preliminary discourse against the Eunomians. With the second oration he speaks of the existence, nature, being, and attributes of God, insofar as man's finite intellect may comprehend the Trinity. Both the third and fourth theological orations speak of the divinity of the Son. The fifth oration is on the Holy Spirit.
His most notable discourses and moral essays include a defense of his flight and treatises on his consecration to Sasima, on the plague of hail, on peace, on love of the poor, on the indissolubility of marriage, and on moderation in theological discussion, as well as a farewell discourse given at Constantinople.
He also authored sermons for feasts, two for Pascha, one for the Nativity of our Lord, one for Theophany, and one for Pentecost.
His panegyrics on saints include those to Saint Cyprian and Athanasius, and on the Maccabean brothers and their mother Solomonia.
He also wrote political pamphlets, the two Invectives Against Julian. These were delivered at Nazianzus after the slaying of Julian. The orations mention the emperor's attempt to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, and its failure, and his defeat in the Persian campaign. Saint Gregory illustrates the might of God's justice, and the consolation of His providence in our affairs.
The Patrologia Graeca of Migne contains 243 epistles. They are finely written with his customary scrupulous attention to the rules of style, and elaborate Byzantine politesse, with dashes of wit and irony.
His poems, written during the last ten years of his life, are filled with pertinent autobiographical data.
During his latter years, Saint Gregory also included a collection of Saint Basil's letters with his own, and gave his friend the first place. When asked the reason for this, Gregory explains: "I have always preferred the great Basil to myself, though he was of the contrary opinion; and so I do now, not less for truth's sake than for friendship's. This is the reason why I have given his letters the first place and my own the second. For I hope we two will always be coupled together; and also I would supply others with an example of modesty and submission" (Div. III, 8, Ep. liii, "To Nocobulus").
From The Great Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church (January), translated by Holy Apostles Convent, pp. 1044-1046.