Near Lake Kremaston in Evrytania, Greece is the old village of Halkiopoulo. 5 kilometers northeast of this village is the cave of Saint Andrew the Hermit. The route from the village to the cave is a passable dirt road and ends in a clearing. There, the pilgrim leaves the car and on foot takes the path, following a fantastic natural beauty path above Lake Kremaston. The hike takes 20 minutes.
When you enter the cave you come to the shrine of the Saint and its 14th century iconography. Behind the altar is the tomb of the Saint, though his relics are now kept in the new village of Halkiopoulo.
St. Andrew the Hermit and Wonderworker was an ascetic in Aetolia-Acarnania during the reign of Michael II Komnenos of Epiros (1237 -1271). He was born in Monodendri in Epiros. He later married and had children. At one point he left everything and became a hermit 5 kilometers northeast of Halkiopoulo. Here he found a cave and lived in suffering and trials for the rest of his life for the love of Christ. He died in old age, without being noticed by anyone.
However, God did not want this Saint to be unknown. As he was departing this life, bright lit lamps were shining in the heavens above him which could be seen from a great distance. These lamps came upon his holy relics. Villagers from the area came and found the Saint. Among those who came after being informed was St. Theodora the Queen of Arta (March 11), who had the Saint buried in the cave and built a chapel.
Every year on May 15th St. Andrew is celebrated in his cave by the multitudes.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Near Lake Kremaston in Evrytania, Greece is the old village of Halkiopoulo. 5 kilometers northeast of this village is the cave of Saint Andrew the Hermit. The route from the village to the cave is a passable dirt road and ends in a clearing. There, the pilgrim leaves the car and on foot takes the path, following a fantastic natural beauty path above Lake Kremaston. The hike takes 20 minutes.
The feast of All Saints of Euboea was established in 1971 by Metropolitan Nicholas Selentis of Halkida. A church dedicated to this feast was also erected in Exo Panagitsa of Halkida that celebrates annually on the Sunday of the Paralytic, which is the fourth Sunday after Pascha. On this feast many relics of the local Saints are brought out for veneration.
Among the Saints of Evia and the Northern Sporades islands are:
1. St. Paul the Apostle (June 29) who came through on his second apostolic journey.
2. St. Methodios of Olympus (June 20) who was martyred in Halkida.
3. St. Reginos of Skopelos (February 25)
4. St. Nikon the Preacher of Repentance (November 27)
5. St. Christodoulos of Patmos (March 16)
6. St. Nicholas Sikeliotis (August 23)
7. St. Gregory of Stroggyli (Feast Unknown)
8. St. Theophylact of Bulgaria (December 31)
9. St. Euthymios the Ascetic (Feast Unknown)
10. St. Daniel the Stylite (Feast Unknown)
11. St. Anthimos the Confessor (Feast Unknown)
12. St. Gerasimos of Sinai (December 7)
13. St. Joseph of Evia (Feast Unknown)
14. St. Savvas the New of Athos (Second Sunday of Matthew on Mount Athos)
15. St. Timothy, Metropolitan of Euripos (August 16)
16. St. Theophanes the Martys (April 19)
17. St. David of Evia (November 1)
18. St. Gerasimos the Martyr (Feast Unknown)
19. St. Symeon the Barefoot (April 19)
20. St. John the Russian (May 27)
21. St. Hierotheos of Kalamon (December 13)
22. St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite (July 14)
23. St. Kosmas Aitolos (August 23)
24. St. Niphon the New Coenobiarch (December 28)
25. St. Nektarios of Pentapoleos (November 9) who preached here when he served as preacher.
26. St. Neophytos Prosmonarios (January 29)
Read more here.
Saint Barbarus lived during the reign of Emperor Michael the Stammerer (820 - 829). A former robber from Arabia, he ventured with his band of pirates to Acarnania in Greece and for a long time he committed robberies, extortions and murders. The Acarnanians revolted against these pirates and killed them all, except Barbarus who escaped. But the Lord, Who does not desire the death of a sinner, turned him to repentance. Once, when Barbarus was sitting in a cave and gazing upon his stolen possessions, the grace of God touched his heart. He thought about the inevitability of death and pondered over the multitude of his wicked deeds. He was distressed in his heart and he decided to make a beginning of repentance, saying, "The Lord did not despise the prayer of the robber hanging beside Him. May He spare me through His ineffable mercy."
Barbarus left all his treasures behind in the cave and he went to the nearest church, which was dedicated to Saint George the Great Martyr in Nisa. During the Divine Liturgy, Barbarus saw angels serving with the priest named John Nikopolitou. Afterwards he asked the priest where were the men he was serving with, to which the priest replied that God had granted him a rare vision of the holy angels serving at the Divine Liturgy. Barbarus did not conceal his wicked deeds from the priest, and he asked to be accepted for repentance and catechism. The priest gave him a place in his own home, and St Barbarus followed him, going about on his hands and knees like a four-legged animal, since he considered himself unworthy to be called a man. In the household of the priest he lived with the cattle, eating with the animals and considering himself more wicked than any creature. Indeed, to recall his sins, he decided to remain for the rest of his life, tied at the neck, waist and legs with three chains just as he tied to his victims when he was a robber. The three chains were in honor of the Holy Trinity. Having received absolution from his sins from the priest, Barbarus went into the woods of Tryfo in Xiromero of the municipality of Aetolia-Acarnania and lived there for twelve years (or eighteen years depending on sources), naked and without clothing, suffering from the cold and heat. His body became dirty and blackened all over.
Finally, St Barbarus received a sign from on high that his sins were forgiven, and that he would die a martyr's death. Once, merchants came to the place where St Barbarus labored. In the deep grass before them they saw something moving. Thinking that this was an animal, they shot several arrows from their bows. Coming closer, they were terrified to see that they had mortally wounded a man. St Barbarus begged them not to grieve. He told them about himself and he asked that they relate what had happened to the priest at whose house he had once lived.
After this, St Barbarus yielded up his spirit to God. The priest, who had accepted the repentance of the former robber, found his body shining with a heavenly light. The priest buried the body of St Barbarus at the place where he was killed on June 23.
Afterwards, a curative myrrh began to issue forth from the grave of the saint, which healed various maladies. At his burial a woman blind for seven years was healed. From then on many miracles are recorded. Nearby the grave is a spring from which many faithful apply to various wounds for healing. Patriarch Kallistos of Constantinople in 1355 and Joseph Bryennios in 1400 tell us that Bulgarians were baptized in this spring. Constantine Akropolites says his daughter was healed of leprosy by Saint Barbarus.
In 1571 a Venetian soldier named Sklavounos, who took part in the Battle of Lepanto, became sick and was near death. He had a dream of Saint Barbarus who told him to visit his grave in order to be healed. When he arrived at the grave of the Saint he venerated his holy relics and immediately began to recover. Wanting to honor the Saint in his homeland, he decided to bring the relics of the Saint to Venice. On his way, he decided to stop his ship in Kerkyra in the village of Potamos. Here the relics of the Saint cured a paralytic child of the Souvlaki family. Sklavounos allowed many of the sick in this place to come venerate the Saint, and many were healed. To honor St. Barbarus, the locals renamed the church of their village from Life-Giving Spring to St. Barbarus in honor of this event, and celebrate annually the healing of the paralyzed boy on May 15th. He is also celebrated on June 23 in Kerkyra as St. Barbarus the Pentapoliti.
The Cave of the Saint can still be seen in Tryfo of Aetolia-Acarnania near his church. Sources say the relics of the Saint are in a small Italian village known as Villa Barbaro. The chains of the Saint were lost when the Ottomans invaded Xiromero.
The spring and church of St. Barbarus in Tryfo
The Church of St. Barbarus in Potamo, Kerkyra
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios has proclaimed May 15, 2011 as "AHEPA Sunday" in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
"The connection of the Sunday of the Paralytic and AHEPA Sunday is very appropriate, as it offers to us a substantive and spiritual focus on the service that is offered in our communities and around the world by the AHEPA family," the archbishop stated in the encyclical.
AHEPA was founded on July 26, 1922 in response to the evils of bigotry and racism that emerged in early 20th century American society. It also helped Greek immigrants assimilate into society.
Anti-Hellenism: prejudice against or hostility towards Greeks, often rooted in hatred of their religious, cultural or ethnic background, as well as jealously and envy towards the many accomplishments of Hellenism.
The concept of Anti-Hellenism is a fairly recent one although the term has been floating around for quite some time. What can be historically accepted is that racist attacks, persecutions, genocides, and other crimes have been committed against ethnic Greeks for numerous reasons.
Modern Opponents claim that Anti-Hellenism lacks a racial and cultural basis like anti-Semitism. Instead these critics say that it appears mostly as a mispercep-tion due to geopolitics and is not a true hate movement against ethnic Greeks. To date attempts to discredit anti-Hellenism have been successful partially due to the lack of serious scholarly research in documenting acts of Anti-Hellenism.
What critics fail to understand, however, is that hate crimes have been committed towards ethnic Greeks based on racial and cultural basis throughout history. There is no logical reason why these acts of hate, past and present, can not or should not be collectively labeled ‘anti-Hellenism’.
Critics of Anti-Hellenism like to claim that unlike other kinds of racial or ethnic preju-dice that anti-Hellenism lack an official ide-ology of hate, like Nazism for Jews. How-ever, what critics seem to forget is the exis-tence of such ideologies as Macedonism, Turkism and Kemalism. Ideologies that have preached hate towards ethnic Greeks and Hellenism, resulting in physical mani-festations of violence, individual and state sponsored, against ethnic Greeks.
Examples of Anti-Hellenic Speech
"Keep your girlfriends away from Greeks because they walk up with their dirty open shirts, their gold jewelry hanging out, they put their hairy arms around your girlfriends and grab their breasts . . . all Greeks are con artists . . . all Greeks are scummy bastards."
-- The Mancow20Show (Chicago Radio Pro-gram), 3/24/99
"White folks was in caves while we was building empires. We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it."
-- Rev. Al Sharpton, cited in Democrats Do the Dumbest Things (Renaissance Books)
Examples of Anti-Hellenic Persecutions Throughout History
Hellenic Genocide (1914-1923) perpetrated by the Young Turks and Kemalists throughout the Otto-man Empire, resulting in the extermination of 1.4 to 1.7 million ethnic Greeks. Ethnic Greeks like all Christians of the Ottoman Empire were referred to as ‘Giaours’, a derogatory word meaning ‘dog’ or ‘infidel’. The events of 1914 through 1923 are a prime example of a state-sponsored act of racist based on racial and cultural basis for ethnic Greeks.
Grecheskaya Operatsiya; Greek Operation (1937-1950) perpetrated by the Soviet Union under direct order of Joseph Stalin. It is the second worse state sponsored campaign of ethnic cleansing against ethnic Greeks.
Anti-Hellenic riots of Toronto (1918) perpetrated by a mob of 20,000 Canadians, led by returning World War 1 veterans resulting in 150 people wounded, 40 businesses destroyed and 100,000 dollars worth of damage, which today would be roughly 1.25 million. One of the largest anti-Hellenic riots in the world; Canadians attacked, looted and destroyed every Greek restaurant they could find.
Anti-Hellenic riots of Omaha (1909) perpetrated by 3,000 Americans resulting in the death of one young boy and the forced migration of the entire ethnic Greek population. The Omaha riots were a direct result of an ethnic prejudice against ethnic Greeks.
Greek America and the Ku Klux Klan
Like African-Americans, Greek-Americans would suffer personal and economic intimida-tion perpetrated against them by the Ku Klux Klan. A forgotten moment in American his-tory, these violent acts of discrimination against ethnic Greeks were widespread in the 1920s, as the KKK viewed ethnic Greeks as racially inferior. Attacks against ethnic Greeks occurred throughout the United States in places like Georgia, Nebraska, Utah, Florida, and Indiana.
Ethnic Greek-owned businesses were often boycotted by the Klan financially ruining many ethnic Greeks. These boycotts were of-ten supported with threats of violence against anyone entering or leaving Greek businesses. In one incident, an ethnic Greek was flogged in Palatka, Florida for dating a ‘white’ woman. Ethnic Greeks were often called, ‘Dirty Greeks’ and ‘unfit for citizenship’ by Americans. It is this belief of racial inferior that still persists today making many ignorantly believe that ethnic Greeks are not white, when they are.
Macedonism is an ideology of hate that seeks to de-Hellenize the history, culture, and identity of Macedonia into a separate Slavic inspired identity with warped illu-sions of an unbroken racial continuity between them and the ancient Macedonians.
Turkism / Pan-Turkism
Turkism / Pan-Turkism is the idea of a po-litical union of all Turkic-Speaking peo-ple. The ideology would be adopted by the Young Turk movement and become the official ideology of the Ottoman Em-pire. Its racist and chauvinistic principles would be a guiding force behind the plan-ning and execution of the Hellenic, Armenian, and Assyrian Genocides.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
By Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos
SUNDAY of THE PARALYTIC
On this day, the fourth Sunday of Pascha, we commemorate the Paralytic and, as is meet, we celebrate the miracle wrought for him.
The word of Christ was strength for the Paralytic,
And thus this word alone was his healing.
This event is placed here, because Christ worked this miracle at the time of the Hebrew Pentecost. For, having gone up to Jerusalem for the Feast, He went to the pool with five porches, which Solomon had built and which was called the Sheep’s Pool, because it was there that they used to wash the entrails of the sheep that had been slaughtered in the Temple for sacrifice; the first person to enter it, when the water was troubled by an Angel once a year, was made healthy. Christ found in that place a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years and who lay there, despairing of finding anyone to place him in the water; from this we learn how beneficial endurance and patience are; and that since He was going to grant us Baptism, which cleanses every sin, God provided that miracles should be wrought in the Old Testament through water, so that, when Baptism was bestowed, it might be accepted. Jesus came to this paralytic, who was called Jarus, and questioned him; he related his despair over finding someone to help him. Christ, knowing that he had been wasting away with this illness for so long a time, said: “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” At once, he became healthy, and, taking his bed upon his shoulders, lest the event should seem illusory, he walked to his house. Since it was the Sabbath, he was forbidden by the Jews to walk. He explained that the One Who had healed him had told him to walk on the Sabbath, though he did not know Who He was; for when a crowd had gathered in that place, the Gospel says, Jesus secretly departed.
After this, Jesus found him in the Temple and said to him: “Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” Some say—though incorrectly—that Jesus spoke these words, because this man would later smite Him when He stood before Caiaphas, the High Priest and would, as a result, be granted a worse trial than paralysis, that of being tormented in the eternal fire, not just for thirty-eight years, but for ever; rather, the Lord showed that the illness of paralysis befell him because of his sins. However, not all illness comes from sins, but in some cases it comes about from physical causes, from gluttony, indifference, and many other factors. The paralytic, knowing that it was Jesus Who had healed him, made this known to the Jews; they, goaded into defending themselves, sought to kill Christ, because He had supposedly broken the Sabbath. Christ said much to them about this, maintaining that it is right to do good on the Sabbath; and that it was He Who, being equal to the Father, had said that one should keep the Sabbath; and just as His Father had worked hitherto, so did He work.
It should be known that this paralytic is different from the paralytic in St. Matthew’s Gospel; for the healing of the latter took place in a house, with men assisting him, and he was told: “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” This man was healed at the Porches, and he had no man to help him, as the Holy Gospel says; but, like the other paralytic, he did take up his bed. It is celebrated now, because it occurred during the season of Pentecost, as did the wonders involving the Samaritan woman and the blind man. We celebrate St. Thomas and the Myrrh-Bearers in assurance of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead; but we celebrate the other wonders leading up to the Ascension, because they were done at different times in the season of the Hebrew Pentecost, and because St. John, whose Gospel is read during this period, is the only Evangelist to mention them.
By Thy boundless mercy, O Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
O Thou Who holdest the ends of the earth in the palm of Thy hand, O Jesus our God, Who art co-beginningless with the Father, and Who, together with the Holy Spirit dost rule over all things: Thou didst appear in the flesh, healing infirmities, driving away passions, and giving sight to the blind. And, by a divine word, Thou didst raise up the paralytic, commanding him to walk straightway and to take up upon his shoulders his bed, which had carried him. Wherefore, together with him we all praise Thee and cry: O Compassionate Christ, glory to Thy dominion and might.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
By Thy divine presence, O Lord, raise my soul which is terribly paralyzed by all kinds of sins and misguided actions, as of old Thou didst raise the paralytic, that saved I may cry to Thee: O Compassionate Christ, glory to Thy dominion and might.
A Roman officer in the navy, Isidore confessed himself as a Christian to the commander of the fleet, Numerian, while they were on the Aegean island of Chios. Because he was unwilling to repent and worship the gods of the state, he was tormented and beheaded.
His body was cast into a cistern. A young Christian woman, Myrope (December 2), with the help of a friend Ammonios (September 4), retrieved the body although it was guarded by soldiers. On learning that the soldiers would be put to death if they failed to find the body, Myrope went to Numerius and confessed that she had taken Isidore's body, but refused to say where it was then interred. Numerius had her publicly flogged, then thrown into prison.
Before she died, Myrope had a vision of Holy Isidore, who "encouraged her with the news that although she was about to die for what she had done it would not have been in vain because she would be giving her life for Jesus Christ and not for Isidore or their Christian friends." Later on Ammonios himself accepted a martyr's death in the city of Kyzikos.
Myrope body was interred beside Isidore's, and a chapel erected over the graves. Saint Marcian built another in the fifth century next to the Church of Saint Irene in Constantinople. In 1525, the relics of Isidore and Myrope were moved by the Latins to the Church of Saint Mark in Venice.
Basilica Monument of St. Isidore of Chios
The basilica monument of St. Isidore in Chios is an Orthodox monument, with the remains of an early Christian basilica partly covered by a small church with a low cement roof, located in Letsaina of Chios town in Chios. The first excavation research of this site begun by G. Soteriou in 1918 and continued by A. Orlandos, in 1928. Excavations were also conducted in the summer of 1981 and 1982, by the 3rd Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities.
In the basilica are preserved mosaic floors decorated with geometric patterns, and many relief architectural parts. Inside the church there is a subterranean vaulted crypt where the relics of St. Isidore and St. Myrope (who martyred in Chios during the Early Christian period) were once kept.
The Early Christian basilica of St. Isidore was built on the remains of an earlier, Roman structure. According to tradition, the church was built in the second half of the 7th century, during the reign of Constantine IV Pogonatos. In the course of its long history, it has undergone several repairs, probably during the Frankish occupation, in the late Byzantine period and in modern times. Five architectural phases - the earliest of which dates to the 5th century - have been distinguished in the building, which was finally ruined by the earthquake of 1881.
Read also: The Abbey of Dueñas and the Cult of St Isidore of Chios in the County of Castile (10th-11th Centuries)
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Enlisted by the King of the Ages, you spurned the earthly king and his army to boldly preach Christ our God. Therefore, you have completed your contest and shine forth as His glorious martyr. Entreat Him to save our souls, for we honor you, blest Isidore.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
In your combat with the dragon, you gained the victory, O martyr Isidore. As a radiant beacon from Egypt, you shone forth to illumine all under the sun, advancing towards Him who shone forth from the Virgin Mother of God, for whose sake you were slain, O Passion-Bearer, offering yourself as a fragrant sacrifice.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
In thy holy prayers to God, thou hast shone brightly, a great guide for all the world. Wherefore, we praise thee on this day, O Saint, thou Martyr of godly mind and boast of Chios, O glorious Isidore.
The Hieromartyr Therapon, Bishop of Cyprus, lived a life of asceticism in a monastery, and afterwards he served as a bishop on the island of Cyprus. At the time of the persecution under Diocletian (284-305), St Therapon bravely confessed the name of Christ and died a martyric death.
The relics of the hieromartyr were at first located on Cyprus and were glorified by numerous miracles. Later, in the year 806, they were transferred to Constantinople. The relics were moved because of a danger of invasion by the Saracens. As the ship sailed to Constantinople, myrrh began to flow from the relics, and travellers on the ship were miraculously saved during a storm by their prayers to St Therapon.
Upon arrival at Constantinople, the relics of the hieromartyr were placed in a temple built in honor of the Icon of the Mother of God of Eleousa or "the Merciful" (November 12).
In the year 806 the relics were again transferred into a temple built in honor of the Hieromartyr Therapon, myrrh flowed from them, and miracles took place. Through the prayers of St Therapon, those who are seriously ill are healed, and the dying restored to life.
Life - Miracles - Services (in Greek)
HYMN OF PRAISE: SAINT THERAPONTOS
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Blessed Therapontos, for Christ suffered,
Two heavenly wreaths, for that he received:
As a hierarch of the Church and courageous martyr;
Still, as a flower unfaded, his body remained,
The sick to heal, and the world to aromatize,
The unfortunate to comfort, the faithful to rejoice.
That, the Lord glorified His glorifier,
Of his rational flock, wonderful shepherd.
And that, the Lord made, that it be known and voiced about,
That a forceful death, does not the saint kill,
But with a wreath crowned him and his name proclaimed
Eternally glorified in both churches.
God's glorifier, Therapontos holy,
And wonderful martyr for Holy Faith,
Help us also for the love of God
By your prayers, before the throne most high!
May 13, 2011
The Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Administration for Foreign Institutions, Archbishop Mark of Yegoryevsk, consecrated yesterday the foundation stone of the first Orthodox church in Iceland.
Addressing the audience, State Duma Vice Speaker Lyubov Sliska said St. Nicholas was intentionally chosen as the patron saint of the Russian Orthodox community in Iceland. The holy patron of travellers and sailors is most popular in this country.
She expressed hope that the Russian business community supports the construction and the church put up by joint efforts of all people, and will unite the Russian community living in Iceland.
In his turn, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said consecration of the Russian church foundation would "open a new page in the history of relations between Iceland and Russia" and promised to give further assistance to the parish.
The Russian Orthodox community has thrice grown to become the fastest growing (in percentage) religious organization in Iceland. Today the parish unites about 400 immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Moldavia, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Greece and other countries, as well as native Icelanders.
The Reykjavik municipal administration decided to assign a section of land for the construction of the church free of charge in November 2004. Church services are currently conducted in temporary premises.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
"Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant" (Jeremiah 25:9).
Is not this a difficult saying? Who can be fed by it? The pagan king, the idolatrous king, the Lord call him His servant? If the servant of God is one who knows the True God and who adheres to the law of God, how then can one be a servant of God who does not know the True God and who does not adhere to the law of God? Truly, the true servant of God is he who knows the True God and who keeps the law of God but when he, to whom God has given the knowledge about Himself and His law, perverts knowing into unknowing and law into lawlessness, then God takes as His servant that ignorant one so as to punish the apostates. For, an apostate from god is worse than a pagan and an apostate from the law of God is lower than an idolater by birth.
Therefore, when Israel, as the ancient Church of God, alienated itself from God and the law of God, God chose Nebuchadnezzar for His servant to punish Israel, the Apostate.
Therefore, when the Christian peoples in Asia and Africa through numerous heresies alienated themselves from God, God took as His servant the Arabs to punish Christians in order to bring them to their senses.
And when the Christian peoples in the Balkans alienated themselves from God and God's law, God invited the Turks as His servants to punish the apostates that by punishment to bring them to their senses.
Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the faithful consciously and willingly turn away from God, so the unbelievers unconsciously and unwillingly become servants of God; the whip of God.
But God takes the unbelievers only temporarily in His service against the believers. For the land of Nebuchadnezzar, the same Lord says, He will visit it for its lawlessness and "make it perpetual desolations" (Jeremiah 25:12), then will a servant against a servant be found? For God did not take the Babylonians for a servant because of their goodness and faith, rather because of Israel's wickedness and unbelief.
O Righteous Lord, help us by Your Most-High Spirit to always adhere to You, the One True God, and Your saving law.
"And the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall burn with fire" (Jeremiah 43:13).
Who will burn them? Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon my servant, said the Lord. This prophecy came true. Nebuchadrezzar conquered Egypt and he destroyed the houses of the false gods by fire; the idols of the Egyptians. He burned them but he did not destroy them forever. For after that came the destruction of Babylon, again according to the prophecy of the holy Prophet Jeremiah and Babylon became and, even until today, remains "heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant" (Jeremiah 51:37). But, in a tradition which was recorded by St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, there remained the other prophecy of Jeremiah about the final destruction of the idols of Egypt: "All the idols will fall," says this prophecy, "and all that is made by hand will be destroyed at the time when the Virgin Mother comes here with the young Child born in a cave and placed in a manger." And this prophecy was preserved by the pagan priests themselves who, from the time of Jeremiah, introduced the custom of depicting the Virgin as she reclines on a bed and her young Child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
Nebuchadnezzar, the servant by God's permission, could only have mowed evil but not pluck it out by the roots. But mowed evil, like mowed grass, grows again. When the Lord came to earth, He plucked out evil by the roots. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, burned the temples and the idols but the temples were also rebuilt and new idols were made for they were not plucked out from the souls of men. When the Lord came and began His reign in the souls of the Egyptians, the temples and idols fell forever. So it is the same with the disobedient Jews who waged battle against God. Nebuchadnezzar, the servant, had taken them into bondage for seventy years and the offended Lord scattered them throughout the entire world where many of them find themselves in dispersion today even after two-thousand years. This scattering of the Jewish people throughout the entire world was clearly prophesied by Jeremiah. And so, time justified the prophet of God in all his words.
O All-seeing Lord, grant us that we adhere to the words of Your true prophet. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
May 13, 2011
During a funeral service in the city of Kavadarci in Skopje, security sent from the so-called "Macedonian Church of Skopje" tried to prevent the service from being performed. This order came from the schismatic metropolitan Agathangelos.
The funeral was for a 60 year old man who was the father of an Orthodox nun. The service was being performed by the Orthodox bishop Mark with Hieromonk Irenaeus who are under the Orthodox Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid.
It should be noted that cemeteries in Skopje are democratic, so that any citizen is allowed to be buried in them. "Church authorites" had no right to prevent the burial; an unprecedented event for a nation seeking westernization.
The canonical Archdiocese of Ochrid has submitted complaints against this macabre spectacle.
May 12, 2011
Nikolay, Metropolitan of the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, made an angry statement following the actions of far-right party Ataka (Attack) leader, Volen Siderov.
According to the statement, Siderov "has tried on two occasions to involve the Bulgarian church in scandals."
Nikolay described Siderov's political style as "cave nationalism" and stated he tries to use the church for his own political goals, which harms the national unity, according to the cleric.
The first scandal Metropolitan Nikolay is referring to is the accident in which Siderov took down by force the enclosures, surrounding the official seat of President, Georgi Parvanov, who is the former leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, during the recent solemn Easter Mass at the St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral in the capital Sofia.
After the clergy handed the very first candle with holy fire to Parvanov, Siderov had asked them if "they served the President-atheist or God".
The second accident took place on May 6, St George day, when Siderov visited the Bulgarian Saint George the Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece, and had an outburst provoked by the the fact the divine service was not only in Bulgarian.
In his statement, Metropolitan Nikolay pointed out the Bulgarian Orthodox church has always been the epitome of tolerance, which he put in contrast with Siderov's behavior.
May 12, 2011
Experts say there are as many as 700 sects in Russia attracting between 600,000 to 800,000 followers. The latest sect to make the headlines is an all-female group, which believes that Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, is a reincarnation of early Christian missionary Paul the apostle.
Here is a list of some of the other notable sects to emerge in Russia down the ages:
Grigory Rasputin, known as the 'mad monk,' was perhaps Russia's most infamous self-proclaimed healer and spiritualist. Rasputin wormed his way into the affections of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra by claiming to have the power to heal their son Alexei of haemophilia. Often accused of being part of a sect, he appears to have believed that salvation could only be achieved by at first sinning and then asking God's forgiveness, which is how he justified his famously debauched behaviour. He was murdered in a bizarre plot in 1916 by a group of Russian nobles who feared he had grown too powerful.
Grigory Grabovoi, a self-proclaimed psychic and healer, became notorious in Russia after the 2004 Beslan school siege that culminated in the death of more than 300 hostages, many of them children. Grabovoi, who controversially claims he has the power to abolish death and cure cancer and HIV, got into hot water with the authorities after allegedly promising the mothers of the dead children in Beslan that he could resurrect their loved ones. He charged followers cash to attend seminars in Moscow hotels where he promised to share some of his 'unique' knowledge. He was sentenced to eight years in jail for fraud but got out after only four years.
The Jesus of Siberia known to his followers as Vissarion. In the Siberian town of Abakan, thousands of Russians have abandoned their careers, families and homes to follow the teachings of Sergei Torop, a former traffic policeman who claims he is Jesus Christ. His more than 5,000 followers have built a rural community called Abode of Dawn out of a Siberian forest. Torop likes to don a velvet crimson robe and sports long brown hair. A strict moralist, he claims he has come back to save the world.
Piotr Kuznetsov, a divorced architect from Belarus with an unhealthy obsession for the Apocalypse. The founder of a sect called The True Orthodox Church, Kuznetsov was fascinated with the end of the world and convinced his followers to hole up in a rickety man-made cave to wait for judgment day. He predicted the world would end in May 2008. When it did not he was apparently so disappointed that he tried to commit suicide by hitting himself over the head repeatedly with a log. He did not let his followers watch TV, listen to the radio or handle money and was reported to sleep in a coffin.
By Hank Hanegraaff
In his book Jesus, Interrupted, Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, posed the following as the first of many errors and inconsistencies in the Bible:
The Gospel of Mark indicates that it was in the last week of his life that Jesus “cleansed the Temple” by overturning the tables of the money changers and saying, “This is to be a house of prayer…but you have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11), whereas according to John this happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2). Some readers have thought that Jesus must have cleansed the temple twice, once at the beginning of his ministry and once at the end. But that would mean that neither Mark nor John tells the ‘true’ story, since in both accounts he cleanses the temple only once. Moreover, is this reconciliation of the two accounts historically plausible? If Jesus made a disruption in the temple at the beginning of his ministry, why wasn’t he arrested by the authorities then?
Ehrman concludes by dogmatically asserting, “Historically speaking, then, the accounts are not reconcilable.”1
Is Ehrman right? Is this just one more in a litany of errors made by a pseudonymous gospel writer? Or is this just indicative of a professor gone wild?
First, it is not only uncharitable but unquestionably wrongheaded to suggest that neither Mark nor John (who Ehrman demeans as “illiterate”) could be telling the “true” story had the temple been cleansed twice. As is no doubt obvious to even the most unlettered of Ehrman’s students, neither gospel writer provides an exhaustive account of everything Jesus said or did. As the apostle John communicates in hyperbolic parlance (no doubt lost on a wooden literalist), “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25 NIV).
Furthermore, the gospel of John itself provides a more than historically plausible insight as to why Jesus might not have been arrested during an initial temple cleansing. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back leading to the arrest and trial of Jesus would quite logically have resulted from a late, not an early, temple cleansing. Not only so, but the Jewish leaders did not arrest Jesus in the early stages of His ministry for fear of the multitudes who were in awe of Christ’s teachings and miracles (Mark 12:12; John 7).
Finally, as even a cursory reading reveals, John not only kairologically (see below) orders his gospel by theme (e.g., seven signs, seven-day opening, seven-day account of the passion, etc.) but presents a more highly developed Christology than that offered in the Synoptics. As such, John says that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (1:14), which fulfills the Old Testament promise that God’s glory would again return to His temple (e.g., Malachi 3:1). Moreover, John reinterprets the meaning of Passover by revealing Jesus as the quintessential Passover lamb (John 1:29, 36). As such, it could be logically (and charitably) surmised that John might introduce his account of Christ’s temple cleansing early in his gospel narrative—and within a context in which Jesus is revealed as the substance that fulfills the types and shadows of temple, priest, and sacrifice. While such a notion does not set well with a fundamentalist reading of literature, it accords well with a nuanced and highly sophisticated reckoning of time particular to the ancients (i.e. a kairological interpretation, which reckons time not in terms of our familiar chronological ordering but in terms of a quality of purpose in which an event is said to occur at “just the right time” [cf. Genesis 1 and 2]). In other words, even if there was only one historical temple cleansing, one might logically assume that John communicates it kairologically as opposed to chronologically.
The very fact that a number of plausible resolutions have been forwarded precludes the charge that the gospel accounts are contradictory.
Friday, May 13, 2011
When he reached adolescence and perceived the insolvency of the Roman Catholic Faith, Isidor sought to move to an Orthodox Christian land.
Belonging to the wealthy merchant class, he willingly forswore his wealth, his parents, and his inheritance, and for Christ’s sake began to roam from place to place with his staff.
We do not know exactly when Isidor converted to Orthodoxy, nor when he arrived in Russia, but he ultimately settled in Rostov, north of Moscow.
He found a marshy area within the city and chose a site slightly above the water level. There, he built a small hut with bulrush. This hut afforded no protection from the heat or the cold, since it was not covered by anything; it only concealed his great asceticism from the eyes of the world.
THE SAINT spent his time in the customary manner of fools-for-Christ’s sake. At night, he prayed unceasingly, allowing himself only a brief sleep. His days were spent in the city streets or marketplaces with voluntary acts of foolishness. Occasionally, he would rest his weary body on a pile of waste or manure.
He instructed and taught those who desired spiritual guidance, condemned immorality, and led many souls to the path of salvation. At night, he would pray for all of those who had caused him offense and for those whom he saw wallowing in sin.
“Oh, Isidor!” he often said to himself, and cried out: “You must pass through many sorrows to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
THE SAINT’S love for the Lord was great, wherefore the Lord loved him and granted him the gift of working miracles and of prophecy.
• “On one occasion,” his biographer relates, “a Rostov merchant was with his comrades at sea during a terrible storm. The ship, probably having struck a reef, suddenly stopped and began to be broken up by the waves. The strong force of the sea threatened to destroy it.
“In their despair, all of those on board began to prepare for death. Then, in the midst of their misfortune, imitating the case of the Prophet Jonah, the voyagers decided to cast lots, supposing that the ship had stopped on account of a crime committed by one of the passengers. The lot fell on the Rostov merchant, who was also the owner of the ship. The crowd then threw the merchant into the sea together with a plank.
“Cast by the wrath of his companions into the raging sea, the hapless merchant began to surrender himself to death. Suddenly, the Blessed Isidor appeared before him, walking on the sea as if on dry land. The Saint took the merchant by the hand and asked him, ‘Do you know who I am?’ The unfortunate man, barely breathing, said: ‘Servant of God, Isidor, help me....’
“The Blessed Isidor pulled the merchant onto the piece of wood and, as if propelled by an unseen hand, the plank began to follow the ship that had already departed. When it came alongside the ship, the merchant suddenly found himself on the deck. When the other voyagers saw him in their midst, they were struck with terror and glorified the merciful God, because they understood that a miracle had taken place. The merchant kept silent, because the Saint had strictly forbidden him to tell exactly what had happened.
“When he returned to Rostov, the merchant would make a prostration to the Saint whenever he saw him from a distance; and the latter, passing nearby him, would remind him of his prohibition. Thus, the merchant would always say that God had saved him by an intervention of His Grace.”
• In another instance, two close friends of noble birth, Savva and Simeon, were comrades-in-arms in the battle with Vasili Shemyaka. A third comrade, Prince Simeon, had been wounded and was now bed-ridden. The two friends decided to visit him.
There, at his bedside, they met the relatives of the wounded soldier, including the family of his brother, Prince Vasili. Vasili’s daughter, Daria, was a very beautiful maiden with whom Savva fell in love. They eventually became engaged and, soon after, celebrated a wedding of unusual grandeur. On the day of the wedding feast, which took place at Simeon’s home, Saint Isidor suddenly entered at the house. The servants tried to drive him away, but he evaded them and noisily entered the feast hall. In his hands he held a cap woven of grass and wild flowers. Reaching the groom, he placed the cap on his head, saying: “Here! A Bishop’s cap for you!”
The mysterious gift and the strange words of the Saint confused Savva and his guests, but Saint Isidor quickly disappeared from the hall and was heard with the children on the streets.
The gift and prophetic words of the blessed Fool were not in vain, and were eventually understood later. Daria became pregnant, and while returning to Rostov, gave birth to a son. The birth was exceedingly difficult and brought about the mother’s death. The loss of his beloved wife so shook Savva that he left the world and became a monk at the Monastery of St. Therapont. At his tonsure, he was given the name Iosaph and later was Consecrated Bishop of Rostov (1481-1489).
IN GENERAL, the Saint rarely entered people’s houses, and when he did so, he was usually unceremoniously thrown out.
One such occasion, which took place shortly before his death, was as follows:
Prince Vladimir of Rostov once invited the local Archbishop Vassian to bless his family. That day, after the Liturgy, Saint Isidor hastened to the Prince’s house before the others. He entered and asked a servant for a drink, as if wishing to quench his thirst. In reality, however, the Saint did not want to drink, but rather he desired that the blessing of the Lord come upon the family of the pious prince, as the Lord said: “Whoever gives a cup of cold water in My Name will not lose his reward.”
The servant not only refused the Saint a drink, but even drove him away. The blessed Fool forgave him and left the house without a protest. But it was God’s good pleasure to glorify His Saint and strengthen the faith of the pious prince.
When the Archbishop arrived and those present had sat down at dinner, the time came to serve the wine, but the servants found all of the vessels empty. They anxiously went to inform the prince.
The latter was astonished and hurried to investigate what had happened. He asked his major-domo who had come during the day, and learned that Saint Isidor had visited the house before the meal, asking for a cup of water, but that the servants had driven him away without giving it to him. The prince understood that the miracle was a punishment for the rejection of a beggar by an unmerciful servant.
He immediately sent his servants to the Saint to beg him to return to his house. Saint Isidor, however, was nowhere to be found. The dinner was approaching its end and still there was no wine. The Prince looked about, confused and sorrowful.
Then, Isidor suddenly entered, holding a prosphora in his hand. He came up to the Archbishop and gave him the prosphora, saying that he had just received it from the Metropolitan in the Church of St. Sofia in Kiev.
In the meantime, the major-domo found the vessels full of wine. He informed the prince, and all of those present were amazed and glorified God, Who had worked such miracles through His hidden Saint.
THE BLESSED Isidor reposed on May 14, 1474.
He did not leave his hut at all during the last days of his earthly life, instead praying with tears until the hour of his righteous repose.
At the moment of his repose, an unusual fragrance spread throughout the entire city. Everyone marveled and began to seek its source. They soon discovered that the closer they approached the blessed Fool’s hut, the stronger the fragrance became. Someone ventured to look inside and saw the Saint lying on the ground, face upwards and his hands crossed upon his chest. He announced the death of the man of God to everyone. They buried the Saint in his hut, in the exact spot where he had reposed.
The merchant that had been saved from the sea was at the burial. Finally freed from his bond of silence, he began with sobs to relate to everyone the details of his miraculous rescue.
With the blessing of the Bishop, those who loved and revered Saint Isidor built a wooden chapel near his grave, in honor of the Ascension of the Lord, because the Saint had reposed on the eve of the Feast.
In 1566, by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, the wooden chapel was
replaced by a stone Church. A Priest tried to open the Saint’s tomb, but an invisible power pushed him back. A silver shrine was placed on the grave in 1815, from whence flowed a steady stream of miracles by the Saint.
The celebration of the commemoration of the Saint by the Faithful began on the very day of his repose. Thirteen years later, his name officially appeared on the Russian Church Calendar.
1. Archbishop Sergey (Spassky), Полный Месяцесловъ Востока, Vol. II (Vladimir: 1901, Moscow: 1997), p. 1426.
2. Nun Taisia, Житія русскихъ Святыхъ, 100 летъ русской святости, Vol. I (Jordanville, NY, USA: 1983), pp. 226-227.
3. Bishop Varlaam Novakshonoff, God’s Fools, The Lives of the Holy “Fools for Christ,” Synaxis Press, Dewdney, B.C., Canada, pp. 31-34.
4. Ἡμεῖς Μωροὶ διὰ Χριστὸν – Βίος καὶ πολιτεία Ὁσίων Σαλῶν (Ekdoseis: Kalyva of St. John the Theologian, New Skete, Mount Athos, 2005), pp. 40-46.
5. Website of the “Orthodox Church in America,” Feasts and Saints, May 14: www.oca.org.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Dear Mystagogy Readers and Friends,
Christ is risen!
I first of all would like to extend my appreciation to all who have thus far expressed their appreciation for my work by contributing financially to this website. Your generosity, no matter how small, has shown that this small labor of love here has not been in vain. Your contributions will ensure future upgrades to this site with easier usability, time for better quality posts and translations, and an overall better reading experience. Yet this is only a small portion of what I want this ministry to be, as more thorough time and research will be put into many studies, translations and publications, three of which I intend to publish by the end of the year if I am given the amount of time and contributions necessary to get this done. I am very excited about these projects and will be announcing them in the coming weeks and months.
I also want to make aware some user-friendly additions to this site which will be completed over the next couple of weeks. Above the Google Search bar (which allows readers to search for key words on my site) to the left are links that I have added according to the requests of many. The first is a HOME link which will always bring you to the main page no matter where you are navigating on the site. The second is my BOOKSTORE which I have started that contain little projects I worked on through the years and now making available to help with contributions for this ministry. The next link contains CONTACT information to get in touch with me with any questions, requests or comments. I often get personal questions from people about me and this site, so I have tried to answer those questions in a few words in the ABOUT section. The SAINTS AND FEASTS link has been my most requested feature, as many have informed me that my site contains one of the best resources on this subject in the entire web, yet until now was difficult to access or find conveniently. I have also included a link with the various RESOURCE pages that I have created, and will be creating in the future. Since I now have a SAINTS AND FEASTS link, I will no longer do the "Relevant Links For..." at the bottom of my page.
Also I will soon be updating my tabs under the TOPICS section to be more helpful in searching my site for various posts. Below is now a Greek Synaxarion page, since many Greek-speakers have requested that I add daily readings in Greek on my site as well. I will also allow for some advertising on my site soon to help financially with this ministry and will be posting more on Twitter as I do on my Facebook page. Some have requested that I look into making an app for iPhones, and since I have noticed that almost 2% of my readers read my page on their iPhones, I will look into it. A regular podcast may be in store also. Furthermore I will be going through the more than 4,000 posts on this site soon and deleting things that are no longer relevant, and updating individual posts where, for example, a video may no longer be available. Please email me for any other requests or suggestions. I have plans for more additions and enhancements; your continued gifts will help make them possible sooner.
I have received many orders for books and there has been a bit of a delay for many reasons getting them available, but they will be mailed out within the next few weeks as things are now coming together. I apologize for the delay.
Hundreds of people from all over the world access this site every day. I receive emails of appreciation and questions everyday from people of all nations and beliefs. Keep in mind that I am only a one man team with occasional and much-appreciated contributions here and there. This makes me feel a greater responsibility to put forward something better for everyone. Your future prayers and support are thus much requested and very appreciated, since by these you also are helping people all over the world. Thank you for your partnership!
With love in the risen Christ,
P.S. As a one man team, I often make grammatical errors in my posts and translations. Please forgive me and do not hesitate to point them out so that I may fix them as soon as possible. Thank you!
The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem met on Monday 9 May 2011 regarding the resolution of the anti-canonical actions of the Patriarchate of Romania, which has built a church and hostel in Jericho without their permission.
The Holy Synod of Jerusalem, after an in-depth investigation, regretably decided to sever communion with the Patriarchate of Romania and crossed Patriarch Daniel out of the dyptychs.
In the 1990's during the days of Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem and Teoctist of Romania a church and hostel was being built by Romanians in Jericho without permission from the Jerusalem Patriarchate. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem protested these actions, but the Romanian Church continued the unlicensed building project, and today the church is even functioning liturgically.
It should be noted that despite the interruption of ecclesiastical communion, Romanian pilgrims are welcomed to visit the Holy Land and the Monasteries of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
For more details, read the original source in Greek here.
May 9, 2011
Prince William and Kate Middleton got a heads up about the raid and thus postponed their honeymoon. Osama Bin Laden worked for the CIA. He is not dead; no, wait—he was already dead. Josh Dzieza on six crazy theories about what really went on with the al Qaeda mastermind.
Al Qaeda's confirmation of Osama bin Laden's death will likely damp the conspiracy theories that flared up after the announcement of his killing, even without the release of photographs of the terrorist leader's body. A vast majority of Americans agree with President Obama's decision not to release the photos, according to a recent CBS poll, an indication that the public does not require further proof.
But theories continue to burble on fringe blogs and message boards, and given the nature of conspiracy theories, they probably won't ever disappear entirely. In fact, many of the theories are simply updates to ones that have existed since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Daily Beast rounded up some of the most popular theories—and some of the strangest.
William and Kate Tipped on bin Laden Killing
Bin Laden's death bumped the birthers out of the news—it also bumped off the royal wedding. Could there be a connection between the two huge media stories? The Daily Mail thought so, and managed to track down a professor from the University of Buckingham who said he “would not be surprised” if Prince William and Kate Middleton had been forewarned about the top secret raid on bin Laden's compound. After all, the royal couple postponed their honeymoon just before bin Laden's death was announced. The Mail even asked a palace spokesman if there was a connection. He insisted there was none.
Bin Laden Worked for the CIA
Self-styled independent journalist James Corbett called the news of bin Laden's death a “retirement party for an old CIA asset, along the lines of Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.” Like the theory that bin Laden has long been dead, it's another story from the 9/11 Truth movement that's been updated for the news of bin Laden's killing: bin Laden was always just a scapegoat for the September 11 attacks, and now that he was no longer useful, the CIA decided to tie up the loose ends. “Whether he actually did die yesterday or he's been dead for years, or whatever the case may be, this is simply discarding a war on terror bogeyman who's no longer scaring the populace,” according to Corbett. Iranian security official Javad Jahangirzadeh took a similar view, saying that bin Laden had been part of an American plot to create a violent image of Islam, and now that his work is done, he's been killed.
One wag suggests bin Laden was part of an American plot to create a violent image of Islam, and now that his work is done, he's been killed.
The CIA faked the new videos
If there was ever a question about whether photographs of bin Laden's body would convince skeptics, look no further than the response to bin Laden's home videos. In a post titled “Hoax,” a writer at libertarian Alex Jones' site, Info Wars, says the videos, which were released “in a desperate effort to bolster its crumbling official narrative,” are a bit too similar to other videos release in 2007 by a “Pentagon front group.” The Pentagon has a history of passing off old bin Laden videos as new and creating its own, the Info Wars blogger writes. Another blogger points out differences in bin Laden’s beard between the new videos and older ones, and wonders whether the videos are “the smoking gun conspiracy theorists have been looking for.” The CIA actually has faked a bin Laden video before, as the Info Wars blogger points out, though it's not one you've ever seen played on the news. The Washington Post reported last year that the CIA made a propaganda video showing a fake bin Laden sitting around a campfire “swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys.”
Osama bin Laden is not dead
Surprisingly, this seems to be the less popular of two main conspiracy theories. For obvious reasons, this version is more popular among the Taliban than in the United States. But even in the U.S., some raised doubts about whether bin Laden had really been killed. Fox Business News host Andrew Napolitano asked guests “whether the government is telling us the truth or pulling a fast one to save Obama’s lousy presidency.” On Facebook, a little over 2,000 people somewhat ambiguously “liked” a page called “Osama bin Laden NOT DEAD.” The posters on the wall seem to mostly think it was a ploy to get Obama reelected.
Osama bin Laden was already dead
A more palatable theory for those who want to believe both that bin Laden is dead and that the U.S. government is perpetrating a vast fraud, this one actually has been around for years. The gist of it is that bin Laden died of kidney failure or was killed by U.S. troops in Tora Bora and that his body has been frozen for a decade, held as a trump card that two different administrations have been waiting to play. Different people give different reasons for why Obama would play the card now, 17 months before the election. Some say to bolster his flagging ratings, others to distract attention from his birth certificate issue. Urging everyone to buy gold, one blogger claims bin Laden's death was faked in order to distract the public while Obama stole everyone's pensions to pay for the national debt. Iran's intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi, also saying bin Laden had been dead for years, claimed that the terrorist’s killing was a hoax meant to distract people from an Islamic awakening.
No Women in the Situation Room
While not exactly a conspiracy theory, this at least qualifies as a bit of unexplained intrigue: One Hasidic Jewish newspaper appears to be boldly proposing that no women were with the president and other security chiefs in the Situation Room during the raid on bin Laden’s compound. Most people are familiar with the now-ubiquitous photograph, which rocketed to the top of flikr within days of being released, showing Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and other administration honchos in the Situation Room. Well, the Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper Der Zeitung Photoshopped Hillary Clinton and administration official Audrey Tomason out of the photo. The paper had no comment on its photo, but many conjectured that the picture was doctored either because of editors’ concerns about immodesty or desire not to show women in positions of power.
To such an extent did the others abhor her, that they did not eat with her; this is something that she, herself, had chosen. She moved about the kitchen doing every sort of chore, and was, as they say, the scrubbing-cloth of the monastery, while she put into practice the command: “Whosoever of you believes that he is wise by the measure of this world, may he become a fool, so as to become truly wise.”
She served the Convent with a rag wrapped around her head, while all of the others had their hair cropped short and wore koukoulia.
Not one of the four-hundred nuns had ever seen her eat normally so much as once in her life. She swept the Trapeza and washed the pots; the crumbs and leftovers were sufficient for her, because she never sat at table nor touched a piece of bread.
Never did she insult anyone, never was she resentful, and never did she utter a superfluous word, despite the fact that they buffeted her, insulted her, railed at her and spit at her.
An Angel appeared to St. Piteroum, a man confirmed in virtues who lived in asceticism on Mt. Porphyrite, and said to him:
“Why do you boast that you are pious by remaining in this place? Would you like to meet a woman who is more pious than you? Go to the Convent of those of Tabennesis, and there you will find a nun who wears a crown on her head. She is superior to you. She contends with such a multitude, and yet her heart has never distanced itself from God. As for you, you sit here, but your mind wanders through the cities."
Hence, he who had never before left his cell arose and besought the spiritual Fathers to allow him to visit the Convent. Since he was a renowned Elder, they gave him leave.
When he entered, he asked to see all of the nuns, but St. Isidora did not appear. Finally, he said to them: “Bring them all to me. One is missing.” They answered him: “There is one more in the kitchen who is a fool.” (So do they call those possessed by a demon.) He said to them: “Bring her to me also. Allow me to see her.” They went and called her, but she did not submit, either because she understood what was about to happen or because it had been revealed to her. So they dragged her by force, telling her: “The holy Piteroum wishes to see you” (he was, to be sure, well known).
When she had presented herself, the Saint noticed the rag on her forehead (her “crown”), fell down before her, and said: “Bless me.” In the same way, she also fell at his feet, saying: “You bless me, my lord.”
Astonished, they all told him: “Abba, do not debase yourself; she is a fool.” Piteroum silenced them with the words: “You are the fools; she is my and your Amma—thus are spiritual Mothers called—, and I pray that I might be found to be her equal on the Day of Judgment.”
Having heard these things, the nuns fell at his feet, and each one confessed the ways in which she had affronted the Saint. One said that she poured filthy dish water on her, another that she struck her with her fists, and yet another that she had smeared her nostrils with mustard. All of them confessed the outrages they had committed against her. St. Piteroum prayed for them and departed.
Several days having passed, the fool was not able to bear the glory and honors shown to her by her sisters and, having wearied of their apologies, she left the monastery in secret. No one ever learned where she went, where she hid herself, or how she died.
Source: Demetrios Tsasmes, Meterikon, Vol. I (Thessaloniki: 1990), pp. 130-135.
May 04, 2011
The National Herald
There are few opportunities like Holy Week to gain empirical knowledge and partake in the Philokalic (love of beauty) Hellenic tradition that masterfully comes to life each year in Greek Orthodox churches and homes all over the world. The Orthodox Christian mentality is expressed in our persistent focus on the Resurrection. While various creeds follow the Passion, and even honor it, they view it within the narrow prism of “The satisfaction of God's divine anger,” and their churches remain silent after Good Friday. In the Orthodox Church, the Holy Passion is venerated, because it illuminates what is to come; because the faithful know that after the Cross comes the Resurrection! This was and will remain the good news that Orthodoxy preaches to the world. It’s this very “good news” that Greek tradition has sought to identify itself with. Since ancient times, Hellenism has stood out for its ability to “organically digest” new elements and incorporate them into its existence. It is no surprise that it lends its full passion and grace and abilities towards glorifying the greatest of all such elements: the voluntary self-sacrifice of the Incarnate God and His subsequent Resurrection, to save mortals from death. Famous Greek author Alexandros Papadiamandis (widely known as the Dostoevsky of Greece) – whose 100-year memorial anniversary is being widely commemorated this year – describes Holy Week most eloquently in so many of his short stories and articles: “… the incense drifts in blue fragrant wreaths and forms a fleeting surround for the girls, in their embroidered aprons and white sleeveless jackets, come bearing armfuls of roses and violets and sheaves of rosemary and proceed to heap mountains of flowers on the humble Epitaphios, which needs no further embellishment.” In her blog This Side of Glory, the author Grace discusses this beautiful short story (A Village Easter), noting, “Who doesn’t know what he means? The liturgical worship we have looks so serious to our Protestant friends that they never guess how very human it can be — laughter and tears and all the rest that are forever tinged in my memory with the most sacred and eternal aspects of worship.”
In an article on Pascha, Papadiamandis compares the joy that the Church feels over the feast of Pascha to an inexplicable “inebriety” that a bride feels upon regaining her groom. “The Greek people feel this sublime drunkenness in their hearts more than any other people. No other Christian holiday holds that place that Pascha holds for them. The Westerners have Christmas. We have Pascha. It is the queen of all holidays and the feast of feasts.” He goes on to note that “the Greek nation’s Pascha rises and sets with the noisy dispersion and supreme exultation of the people, who still have drops of blood running in their veins from their wild and unbridled ancestors, who are lulled by the love of freedom.”
Papadiamandis notes that, “When the Greek people say the word Resurrection, a secret chord is struck in the depths of their heart, reminding them of the Resurrection of the nation as well, and Christ and Country meet together, equally suffering and equally divine. And when the Greek people say the word Love (Agape), they are speaking the sweetest of words, preeminently underscored in the Gospel and proclaimed in the teachings of St. Paul, which has remained in the Greek language as the quintessential passionate and heartfelt word, by which every affection, and every romantic feeling, and every devotion are expressed. Nothing is separated in the Greek tradition. That’s why the Crucifixion cannot be seen separately from the Resurrection. That’s why there’s no place for Puritanism in Orthodoxy. Pascha is a combination of sublime hymns, prayerful devotion, drama, as well as fireworks, dancing, celebrations, delicacies, and local traditions that vary from village to village and parish to parish. Pascha encompasses our lives – and for one week, it becomes our life, pointing to a more perfect way of living. Papadiamandis sums it up the best: “For my part, as long as I live and breathe and am of sound mind, I will never cease, especially during these resplendent days, to praise and adore Christ, to depict nature lovingly, and to represent with affection those customs which are authentically Greek.” Christos Anesti!
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord'" (Jeremiah 17:5).
When man alienates himself from God in his heart he usually trusts in men and in himself, for in who else can he otherwise trust when he untied his rowboat from God's boat? Since he has already untied his rowboat from God's boat, nothing else remains for him except to trust in his rowboat or in the rowboat of his neighbors. It is a weak trust, but there is no other for him! It is a weeping trust above the abyss of destruction, but there is no other!
But, O heaven and earth, why did man untie his rowboat from God's boat? What happened to man that he flees from his security? What kind of calculation did he calculate when he discovered it would be better for him alone on the tempestuous waves than in the household of God and near the hem of God! With whom did he make an alliance when he breached the alliance with God? Is it with someone stronger than God? Foolishness, foolishness, foolishness!
"Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings." This God spoke once and men have repeated this thousands of times. Being disappointed in their trust in men, men have cursed thousands of times those who have trusted in man. God has said only that which men experienced only too well and confirmed by their experience, i.e., how indeed cursed is the man who trusts in man!
Brethren, that is why we should have trust in God Who is the stable boat on the tempest and Who does not betray. Let us have trust only in Him for all other trust is a devilish illusion.
In You do we trust, O Lord, our fortress and refuge. Tie us along side You and do not allow us to untie ourselves, if we, by our foolishness and cursedness, attempt to untie ourselves from You. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.