Rejoice archetype of patience, pillar of abstinence, unassailable in virtues, O wall and treasury of love, Ypomoni, glorify the horn of pious rulers.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Rejoice archetype of patience, pillar of abstinence, unassailable in virtues, O wall and treasury of love, Ypomoni, glorify the horn of pious rulers.
According to the Turkish World Bulletin :
Turkey on Sunday marks the 558th Anniversary of Istanbul's Conquest when an old era had ended and a new era had started. The Byzantine capital Istanbul had been besieged several times before but could not be conquered, however it had been conquered by the Ottoman Army under the leadership of young Ottoman Sultan Fatih Sultan Mehmet. And Istanbul was to be the Ottoman capital until its downfall. A series of activities will be held in Istanbul to celebrate the anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul. The conquest of the city will be simulated, fire works will be displayed and a water show will be conducted.
Turks Mark 558th Anniversary of Constantinople's Conquest by Mohammad
Turkish Miniaturist Depicting Aura of Istanbul's Conquest
Just a glimpse of what the Turks are celebrating comes from the following testimony:
"Breaking down the doors with axes, the Turks entered the Church and dragged the fugitives off to slavery. Two by two, the men were tied together with cords, the women with belts, without consideration for age or station. Scenes of indescribable horror ensued. The icons of Saints were shorn of their jewels and smashed. The gold and silver Church vessels were seized, the altar cloths used for caparisons. Topped with a Janissary's cap, the crucifix was paraded in mockery. The conquerors used the altars as tables; when they themselves had finished eating on them, they turned them over to the horses for feed troughs or used them as beds on which to assault boys and girls."
- The Fall of the Byzantine Empire: A Chronicle by George Sphrantzes
Read also an eye-witness testimony of the atrocities here.
May 29, 2011
On the 29th of May we mark the 558th year since the fall of Constantinople, the Golden Apple. Still, many questions linger. Specifically, why did Mehmed II succeed in taking Constantinople when so many before him had failed? The end of the city has become a point of marked importance in Greek culture and signifies the beginning of a period of enslavement and poverty in the Greek psyche. Why did Constantinople fall?
The Siege of Constantinople was successful for several reasons. Some have their roots stemming hundreds of years, others more current and finite. Following the Fourth Crusade the Byzantine Empire had been in a weakened position. Since the recovery of the capital from Venetian rule, Constantinople was unable to regain its former importance. The Palaeologos dynasty would never bring the Byzantine Empire back to its former strength and was under constant pressure from several different groups in the Balkans and Asia Minor. The city itself was under populated and financially incapable of funding a prolonged struggle. The wealthiest districts of the city belonged to the Latin traders, whilst the Greek population was relatively poor. Relations between Constantinople and the West had been souring since the Fourth Crusade and had reached a low point prior to the siege of 1453. The Council of Florence organized to unite the Christian world, instead served to highlight distrust and misunderstanding between the Greeks and Latins. Venetian relations with the city remained strong, yet confronting the Turks without a united Christian force was undesirable. Equally, the advances and unique style of attack conducted by Mehmed demonstrated an evolution in Ottoman warfare with a combination of siege tactics utilized to pressure the defenders into capitulation. These factors combined at a crucial point in 1453 to signal the fall of Constantinople.
The account of Sylvester Syropoulos indicates the extent to which relations had soured between the Latin and Greek worlds prior to the siege. The pressure for Union between the Churches made many Greeks feel that it was being forced. Union with the Catholic Church became synonymous with aid in Byzantium’s bleak foreign affairs. This pressure aggravated many individuals within Constantinople. Syropoulos was an anti-unionist and writes an account in this light. Sylvester portrays an Emperor who was encouraging union with the Latin Church as a means of protecting The Orthodox Church. However Sylvester and the Patriarch were not of the same opinion regarding union. Anti-unionists ike himself viewed any union as the beginning of the end for Orthodoxy. They saw union of the Church as a submission to the pope. In Syropoulos’ account, the Despot of the Peloponnese requests to depart for Venice in the middle of a council formed to discuss union. the despot is clearly doing this as a form of protest. Before leaving for Venice the Despot made a speech to the council declaring that, if forced to disregard spiritual matters, the union would benefit Byzantium’s secular world. It is conceivable that historical as well as contemporary matters created a deep distrust and dislike of the Latin and Catholic world in Constantinople. Union would offer materialistic and political gains; anti-Unionists and the Despot feared the spiritual and cultural repercussions.
Arguably, an equal distrust existed in the Latin world towards the Greeks. The accounts of travelers to the Byzantine Empire by Latin officials display a similar dislike and misunderstanding. Bertrandon , a Frankish spy, arrived in Constantinople dressed as a Turk and was kindly received. Once discovered to be Catholic he was held up to pay a larger sum for his passage. He concieved that the Greek hatred for the Catholic faith was almost violent and openly wrote this particular passage as a warning to Catholic travelers to the City. Latin dislike and mistrust of the Greeks is evident in his account which takes place four years prior to the Council in Florence which sought to unify the Christian churches. Severe disputes with Constantinople’s traditional allies in the west left the Empire in a particularly fragile position. Furthermore, the inherent cultural differences since the schism between Christianity was magnified when in the context of a theological dispute.
The fragility of Constantinople however stemmed from the Fourth Crusade. The event had devastated the city. Economically, politically and culturally Constantinople was never capable of recovering that loss. Other travelers describe an under populated city in decay. Only the large Latin sectors of the city, established for trade purposes, flourished. The Greeks are described as populating several poor villages within the Theodosian walls, outside of the centre. Pero Tafur recounts the Emperors description of the devastation experienced by the Fourth Crusade, particularly due to the Venetians. He describes the theft of many great objects and relics shipped to Venice during their seventy-year control of the Golden Apple. Notably, the four great brass horses of St. Marks were removed from Constantinople and brought to their dominion as its crowning jewel. This pillaging of the cities riches and the general state of the city after the crusade indicates that Constantinople during this siege was but a shadow of its former glory. Consistent Ottoman attacks had also brought the city to its knees. The Turkish siege thirty years prior by Murad had ended with a humiliated treaty signed by the Emperor and insuring the vassalage of the City to the Turks. Most of the Emperors traditional subjects in mainland Greece and Asia minor were also mostly under Turkish or Latin control. The maneuverability of the Emperor at this point in Byzantine history was slight. All that remained of the Empire was its capital.
The cities population density was obviously and notably low. The Latin traveller Clavijo observes the vast size of the cities walls and the many hills within the city. Within the walls most is covered with farmland rather than an urban sprawling. The city had the impression of an under populated metropolis with many sectors of the city in ruin and disuse. Bertrandon also provides an accurate yet blunt description of Constantinople as made up of villages with more open then built up areas. Pero Tafur, a Spaniard ,describes the emperor’s palace within Constantinople as being in good condition where as the portions of the city surrounding it were modest and poor by comparison. This in general portrays a picture of Constantinople that is in decline rather than in a position to defend itself against a well financed, armed and organized Turkish force. Additionally, the Osman Turks were experiencing an economic and political ascent that the Theodosian walls would not withstand.
However, had the Venetian senate been earlier informed, The Byzantine Empire may have survived the struggle. According to Venetian senatorial records, a fleet was mobilized to come to the aid of Constantinople but didn’t organize in time to save the besieged City. The Venetians even began informing other Christian powers of their intention to help Constantinople and demanded their assistance. The preparations in Venice lagged behind the escalating situation in Constantinople. It was only after the 17th of April that the fleet could set sail for Constantinople. Distant communication between the cities facilitated the Sutan. Furthermore, Venice’s willingness to go to war was questionable. According to senatorial records Venice dispatched ambassadors to land in Greece and negotiate with the Sultan. The emphasis of the meetings was on Venice’s peaceful intentions and the state of Venetian trade in the emerging Ottoman Empire. Thus, the intentions of Venice towards Constantinople demonstrate that the republic was willing to help but was constrained by the speed to which Constantinople capitulated and the resources required to counter Mehmed’s forces.
The Ottoman story was one of a slow and consistent ascent. By 1350 Ottoman Turks formed the bulk of Asia Minors population and many Turks even remained within Byzantine territory. By 1387 the Ottomans had captured the crucial city of Thessaloniki in the Balkans and established themselves in mainland Greece. By the time of the siege of 1453, Constantinople was almost entirely encircled by the Turkish invaders. Still, this siege would demand a break from previous Ottoman attempts to take the city in order to succeed. The revolutionary changes in Ottoman warfare impemented by Mehmed II was to tip the scaled in favour of the Easterners. Mehmed’s use of artillery, mining, and naval force was devastating. Mehmed’s evolutionary tactics are apparent in Ottoman gunpowder technology. Mehmed focused on artillery more in this siege than any other Ottoman sultan and arguably believed it to be crucial to the capitulation of the City. Building one of the largest cannons in the world. Kritovoulos, a Greek historian under the service of the Sultan , describes all sorts of artillery machines of various sizes and of impressive engineering, commissioned by Mehmed. Though these artillery weapons were impressive and intimidating they were not the key element in defeat of the City. The cannons bombarded the walls with questionable effectiveness. The defenders quickly devised methods to counter these bombardments. Doukas recounts that the defenders mounted their own cannons to offset the Ottomans artillery and other histories highlight the ineffectiveness of Ottoman cannons. However, it is evident that Mehmed was serious and unique in his planning and preparation for this endeavor. Multiple siege tactics were simultaneous employed effectively.
Strategic mining under the Theodosian walls was a constant threat to the defenders of the City; counter mining was always in operation. Barbaro describes one Ottoman tunnel found near the Emperor’s palace in Calegaria. The mine was successfully collapsed by the efforts of the defenders, killing all but two attackers. Barbaro describes how these intruders were captured and tortured for information before being killed. The successes of Ottoman mining operations are questionable. Yet they do indicate that artillery was not the sole focus of Mehmed’s tactics. Mining was as important, if not ,more important than artillery warfare. Leonard of Chios states that although the Sultan was “battering the walls with his cannons; he paid even more attentions to stealing into the city through subterranean tunnels. He ordered the Chief miners whom he had brought from Novo Brod to be sent.” Tunneling was a prominent scenario of warfare in the siege of 1453 and one of the methods along with artillery used to slowly wear down the defenders both psychologically and physically.
Crucially, unlike other Ottoman sieges, naval superiority was clearly on the side of the Ottomans. The exact number of ships is uncertain, Barbaro gages the fleet at one hundred and forty five strong, comprising of several different types. The ships anchored north of the city at the Columns. The Turkish clearly overwhelmed and outnumbered the aging Byzantine ships docked in the Golden Horn. Any naval counter offensive was difficult at best. Barbaro, docked in the harbour during the siege, and other account do describe singular events where a Christian ship was able to escape or dock in the Golden horn. Yet, an effective naval counter offensive was out of the question.Ottoman naval superiority cut off Constantinople completely from its trade partners in the Black seas and from the possibility of relief or aid from the Latin West. The Golden Horn had historically been sealed by a long chain comprising of metal and Wood stretching across from Constantinople to Pera on the other side. Even the chain that sealed off the Golden Horn was surmounted by Ottoman cunning and engineering. The Ottomans hoisted their ships behind Pera and into the harbor with speed and organization, Barbaro suggest nearly seventy odd ships.
The final victory of the Turks does not occur due to one of the multitude of methods above, but due to the abandoning of its defensive posts. Gustiniani, a Genoese commander in charge of the land defenses, was either injured or merely abandoned his post on the Wall. Their leader in flight, the men at Gustiniani’s section of the wall defenses began to flee. This weakness in the walls was discovered by the Ottomans and is eventually overrun by the attackers. Leonard of Chios , a Greek chronicler, describes that Gustiniani is hit in the armpit by an arrow and had it not been for his forced retreat the city would not have been lost. This scenario creates the impression that the defenders simply could not handle the duration and degree of Ottoman pressure.
Mehmed successfully pressured every aspect of the city through these siege methods. Not one specific aspect of the siege ensured an Ottoman victory, but with the dwindling defenders and the constant pressure from all aspect of the siege, morale and numbers were the defenders worst enemy. The accounts of Barbaro and Leonard of Chios suggest a situation in which the submission of Gustiniani led to the eventual fall of the City. Every other attack Mehmed conceived of was either repelled or endured. The psychological impact and exhaustion experiences by the defenders under the constant bombardments, infantry charges, mining operations and lack of manpower brought the ancient city to its knees. The capability of Constantinople to repulse the Ottomans in its present state of affairs was impossible. Both domestically and abroad Byzantium was constricted. Hope relied on the possibility of a swift and concise Christian crusade. However the antagonistic nature of the Greek-Latin relationship evident in Syropoulos and the Travelers accounts demonstrates the distant nature of that appeal. This reality, combined with Mehmeds serious ambitions for taking the city at a time of Ottoman ascent, rendered it virtually incapable of repelling its eventual capitulation.
Read also: The Greek Who Served the Sultan
 Syropoulos, Sylvester, and V. Laurent. Les “Memoires” du Grand Ecclesiarique de l’Eglise de Constantinople Sylvestre Syropoulos sur le concile de Florence 1438-1439. ( Roma: Pontificium Inst. Orientalium Studiorum, 1971.)
 Brocquiere, Bertrandon, trans. Galen R. Kline. The Voyage d’Outremer. (New York: P. Lang, 1988.)
 Tafur, Pero, and Malcolm Henry Ikin Letts. Travels and Adventures 1435-1439. ( New York: Harper & Bros., 1926.)
 Magoulias, Harry J. Decline and fall of Byzantium to the Ottoman Turks. (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1975.)
 Clavijo, Ruy. Embassy to Tamerlane, 1403-1406. London: Routledge, 2006.
 F. Thiriet, trans, Regeste Des Deliberation du Senat de Venise Concernat la Romanie III,(Paris, Mouton & Co)182.
 Riggs, Charles T. History of Mehmed the Conqueror.( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954) 46.
 Magoulias, Harry J. Decline and fall of Byzantium to the Ottoman Turks. (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1975.) 83.
 Barbaro, NicoloÌo, and J. R. Jones. Diary of the siege of Constantinople, 1453. (New York: Exposition Press, 1969.)
 Jones, J. R. Melville. The Siege of Constantinople 1453: Seven Contemporary Accounts. Las Palmas: Hakkert, 1972.) 17.
 Barbaro, NicoloÌo, and J. R. Jones. Diary of the siege of Constantinople 1453. (New York: Exposition Press, 1969.)
 Jones, J. R. Melville. The Siege of Constantinople 1453: Seven Contemporary Accounts.(Las Palmas: Hakkert, 1972).
The Chalke Gate (Greek: Χαλκῆ Πύλη), was the main ceremonial entrance (vestibule) to the Great Palace of Constantinople in the Byzantine period. The name, which means "the Bronze Gate", was given to it either because of the bronze portals or from the gilded bronze tiles used in its roof. The interior was lavishly decorated with marble and mosaics, and the exterior façade featured a number of statues. Most prominent was an icon of Christ which became a major iconodule symbol during the Byzantine Iconoclasm, and a chapel dedicated to the Christ Chalkites was erected in the 10th century next to the gate. The gate itself seems to have been demolished in the 13th century, but the chapel survived until the early 19th century.
Above the main entrance of the Chalke, there stood an icon of Christ, the so-called Christ Chalkites ("Christ of the Chalke"). The origins of the icon are obscure: based on its mention in the Parastaseis, it may have existed by ca. 600, but it cannot be stated with any certainty. Its prominent display on the very entrance to the imperial palace made it one of the city's major religious symbols. Consequently, its removal, in 726 or 730, by Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (r. 717–741), was both a major political statement and a spark for violent rioting in the city, and marked the beginning of the official prohibition of icons in the Empire. The icon was restored a first time by Empress Irene in ca. 787, until it was again removed by Leo V the Armenian (r. 813–820) and replaced by a simple cross. After the definitive restoration of the veneration of icons in 843, a mosaic icon by the famed iconodule monk and artist Lazaros replaced it.
The exact appearance of the icon is unclear: although the early image has been interpreted as a bust of the Christ Pantocrator type, and late Byzantine references, such as coins by John III Vatatzes (r. 1221–1254) and the Deesis mosaic in the Chora Church, use the term for depictions of a standing Christ on a pedestal.
Read more here.
On January 19, 729, at the very beginning of the iconoclastic persecutions, Emperor Leo III the Isaurian ordered the removal of an image of Christ which stood over the Chalkē Gate, the main gate of the Great Palace of Constantinople. While an officer was executing the order, a group of women gathered to prevent the operation, and one of them, a nun named Theodosia, let him fall from the ladder. The man died, and Theodosia was captured and executed.
After the end of Iconoclasm, Theodosia was recognized as a martyr and saint, and her body was kept and venerated in the Church of Hagia Euphemia en tō Petriō, in the quarter named Dexiokratiana, after the houses owned here by one Dexiokrates. The church and adjoining monastery were erected by Emperor Basil I at the end of the ninth century. The monastery hosted his four daughters, who were all buried in the church. Hagia Euphemia lay near the Monastery of Christos Euergetēs, whose foundation date is unknown. It is only known that it was restored by protosebastos John Komnenos, son of Andronikos I Komnenos and brother of co-emperor John, who died fighting in the battle of Myriokephalon in 1176. On April 12, 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, the Latin fleet gathered in front of the Monastery of the Euergetes before attacking the city. During the Latin Empire, the navy had its anchorage in front of the monastery, and the naval port was kept there by Michael VIII Palaiologos also after the restoration of the Byzantine Empire. Many sacred relics kept in the church were looted by the Crusaders and many still exist in churches throughout western Europe.
The veneration of St. Theodosia grew with time until, after the 11th century, the church was named after her. Since the original feast day of the founding of the Church of Hagia Euphemia occurred on the 30th of May, and that of another Hagia Theodosia of Tyros occurred on the 29th of May, finally this day became the feast day of Hagia Theodosia hē Konstantinoupolitissa ("Saint Theodosia of Constantinople").
Saint Theodosia became one of the most venerated saints in Constantinople, being invoked particularly by the infirm. The fame of the saint was increased by the recovery of a deaf-mute in 1306. The church is often mentioned by the Russian pilgrims who visited the city in the fourteenth and early fifteenth century, but sometimes it is confounded with Christ Euergetēs, which, as already said, stood near it. Twice a week a procession took place in the nearby roads. In that occasion the relics hosted in the church were carried along, followed by a great crowd of sick people praying for their recovery.
The church is mentioned for the last time on May 28, 1453. On that day, which was the eve both of the Saint's feast and also of the end of the Byzantine Empire, the Emperor Constantine XI with the Patriarch went to pray in the church, which was adorned with garlands of roses. Afterward Constantine left for the last struggle. Many people remained all the night in the church, praying for the salvation of the city. On the morning the Ottoman troops, after entering the city, reached the building, still adorned with flowers, and captured all the people gathered inside, considering them as prisoners of war. The relics were thrown away and the body of Saint Theodosia was cast to the dogs.
Some years later (in 1490), the ruined church was repaired and converted into a mosque. A minaret was erected between 1566 and 1574, under Selim II, by Hassam Pasha, a supplier of the Ottoman navy. Afterwards the mosque was often named after him. Between 1573 and 1578, during his sojourn in Istanbul, the German preacher Stephan Gerlach visited the mosque, identifying it with the church of Hagia Theodosia.
Today it is known as Gül Mosque (Turkish: Gül Camii, meaning: "The Mosque of the Rose"). The building is located in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih, in the neighborhood of Ayakapı ("Gate of the Saint"), along Vakif Mektebi Sokak. It lies at the end of the valley which divides the fourth and the fifth hills of Constantinople, and from its imposing position it overlooks the Golden Horn.
On the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, which is the Sunday of the Blind Man, is celebrated all the saints associated with Aitolia-Acarnania. Among them are the following:
1. Saint Barbaros the Myrrh-Gusher (May 15 and June 23)
2. Saint Vlasios of Sebastia (February 11)
3. Saint Andrew the Hermit (May 15)
4. Righteous David (November 1)
5. The Holy brothers Symeon and Theodore, builders of the historic Monastery of Mega Spelaion (October 18)
6. Saint Eugenios Aitolos (August 5)
7. Saint John the New Martyr and Hagarene (September 23)
8. Saint Iakovos the New Martyr and his three disciples, Iakovos, Dionysios, and Theonas (November 1)
9. The Holy New Martyrs Lambros, Theodore and one who was anonymous
10. Hieromartyr Kosmas Aitolos (August 24)
Απολυτίκιον Ήχος γ’ (Την Ωραιότητα)
Την πολυθαύμαστον, ανευφημήσωμεν των Αιτωλών πιστοί και Ακαρνάνων γην, την εξανθήσασα Χριστού τα άνθη τα μυρίπνοα, Ιάκωβον, Ιάκωβον, Διονύσιον, Βάρβαρον, σοφόν Κοσμάν, Ανδρέαν τε, Ιωάννην, Ευγένιον, συν Λάμπρω, Θεοδώρω και άλλω, Βλάσιον, Θεωνάν και Δαυίδ τούς αρωγούς ημών.
On Saturday 28 May 2011, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Basilika of the Saint John the Theologian in Ephesus of Asia Minor. Built by Emperor Justinian in the sixth century over the grave of the Apostle John, the church is now in ruins though the grave is still preserved in the altar area.
SUNDAY of THE Blind Man
On this day, the sixth Sunday of Pascha, we commemorate the miracle wrought by our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ upon the man who was blind from his birth.
O Bestower of light, Who art Light coming forth from Light,
Thou givest eyes to the man blind from birth, O Word.
After saying this, Christ spat on the ground and made clay, wherewith He anointed the hollows of the man’s eyes; He then bade him go to the spring of Siloam and wash, in order to show that it was He Who in the beginning took dust from the earth and fashioned man. Since the eye is the principal part of the body, He fashioned that which was previously non-existent. He did not use water, but spittle, so that it might be made known that all the Grace came from the mouth of Him Who spat, and because He was going to send him to Siloam. He exhorted the man to wash, lest anyone should ascribe the healing to the earth and the clay. He sent him to Siloam, in order that he might have many witnesses of his healing; for, he would have encountered many people on his way to the spring, who would notice that his eyes had been anointed with clay. Some say that, after washing, he did not remove the clay formed by the spittle, but that the clay itself, by the application of moisture, was transformed in such a way as to fashion eyes for him.
“Siloam” is, by interpretation, “sent”; for this pool was outside the city of Jerusalem. During the reign of Hezekiah, when the enemy had laid siege to the city and had occupied Siloam, the water that came from there was held back. Before those inside the city had dug wells and reservoirs for the storage of water, if anyone was sent out at the bidding of the Prophet Isaiah, the water came forth all at once and he could draw from it; but if anyone went on his own initiative or if any of the enemy went, the water was prevented from flowing out. This is how it happened ever since that time. Therefore, in order that Christ might show that He Himself was from God, for this reason He sent the Blind man to Siloam and the restoration of his sight was the immediate consequence. Some think that Siloam is interpreted as “sent” because the Blind man was sent by Christ.
The Blind man was given eyes after washing by some ineffable power, and not even he who experienced it beheld the mystery. His neighbors and acquaintances, when they saw that he had suddenly regained his sight, were filled with doubt. At all events, he confessed that he was formerly blind. When asked how he had gained his sight, he declared that Christ had cured his ailment. When the Pharisees heard of this extraordinary miracle, they again blasphemed against the Savior for not observing the Sabbath, for the miracle wrought for the Blind man was, it seems, performed on the Sabbath. Accordingly, there was a division among the Jews: some said that Jesus was from God, on account of the miracles that had taken place, but others said that He was not from God, because He did not keep the Sabbath.
Those who had a good opinion about Him asked the Blind man: “What sayest thou of him?” He proclaimed that Jesus was a Prophet (St. John 9:17). This, among them, was something more honorable. But the others did not believe that Christ had bestowed healing upon a man who was blind. Indeed, they sent for his parents, perhaps because they did not believe his neighbors; hence, in wishing to keep the matter obscure, they made it more manifest. The testimony of his parents was entirely consonant with his, although, in order to avoid being expelled from the synagogue, they mentioned that their son was of age. The Jews said again to the Blind man, “Give God the glory” (John 9:24), on the ground that the cure came from Him, not from Christ, for “he is a sinner,” they said, in that He breaks the Sabbath. But he who was formerly blind, wishing to show that Christ was God by virtue of His deeds, said: “Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, it is through Him that I see” (John 9:25).
Again they said to him: “How opened he thine eyes?” (John 9:26). Being vexed, he did not speak in detail, but proved that, if He were not of God, He could not have worked such a miracle. At first, he was insulted by them for having confessed that he was a disciple of Jesus and because he said: “No one hath opened the eyes of a man born blind; others, indeed, have given sight to the blind, but no one hath given sight to a man blind from birth.” Mocking him, they cast him far away from the synagogue. After this, Jesus found him and said to him: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” (John 9:35). When the man learnt Who it was that was speaking to him and Whom he was seeing (for, being blind, he had not known Him previously), he worshipped Him and became a disciple of His, proclaiming the benefaction done to him.
This passage might be interpreted in anagogical terms. The Blind man represents the people of the Gentiles, whom Christ found when passing by, that is, while on earth and not in Heaven. Alternatively, He came for the sake of the Hebrew people, but passed them by and went to the Gentiles. Spitting on the ground and making clay, He anointed the Blind man, that is, He taught the Gentiles first; for, like a drop of water He came down to earth and was incarnate of the Holy Virgin. He then handed them over to Divine Baptism, that is, Siloam. Subsequently, the Christian people who came from the Gentiles confessed Christ before all, were persecuted and martyred, and were later extolled and glorified by Christ.
By Thine infinite mercy, O Christ our God, the Giver of light, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
I come to You, O Christ, as the man blind from birth. With the eyes of my soul blinded, I cry out to You in repentance, "You are the resplendent Light of those in darkness."
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Whatever physical darkness is for the eyes, so is sin for the human soul. The spiritual darkness so darkens and blinds the eyes of the soul, that the sinner walks like the blind: he doesn't know where the path leads him; he doesn't see before him the torment of an eternal death in which he might fall; he doesn't distinguish vice from virtue, evil from good, truth from lies, true good fortune from evil fortune, and, thus, seeing he does not see and acts by touching like the blind.
Does he live in good fortune? He becomes violent, as an untrained and unrestrained horse, and does not see that with this good fortune God draws him to Himself as a father of a little child draws an apple. Will misfortune visit him? He grumbles, is indignant and blames, that as if he told a lie; he makes complaints and says a malicious word: "Am I a liar? In what have I sinned? Am I really more sinful than others? Am I worthy of this? Does my work deserve this?" He justifies himself, being full of every kind of untruth; he cleanses himself, being all besmirched; he considers himself unworthy of temporal punishment, but worthy of the eternal; he praises his merits, which stand for nothing.
All of creation, the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and its fulfillment, as if by mouth "tells of the glory of God" (Psalm 16:2); but the blind sinner does not feel the majesty of His glory and does not tremble. God, both through creation and by His word, reveals Himself for everyone; but the sinner, like a deaf person, does not hear His word and does not recognize the Lord. He hears the name of God, but he does not recognize God: he hears the voice of the Lord only with carnal instead of spiritual ears, and therefore, "hearing he does not hear and seeing he does not see".
When God is preached by His holy word, then His sacred will is also preached; but the sinner doesn't know it and does not make it his own. His omnipotence and majesty is preached, before which the sinner is not humble. His righteousness is preached before which the sinner is not afraid and does not honor. His truth is preached before which the sinner does not believe. His omnipresence is preached, before which the sinner does not show reverence. He does not show it because does not recognize Him. His most wise reason is preached, in which the sinner does not discern. His highest holiness is preached which the sinner does not honor. His supreme authority is preached which the sinner does not obey. His awesome glory is preached which the sinner does not honor. His timeless goodness is preached, in which the sinner makes no effort to participate. His fearful judgment is preached before which the sinner does not tremble, and so forth. Thus, the sinner is like "the man out of his mind who cannot know, and the stupid who cannot understand" (LXX Psalm 91:7) God and the acts of God.
And not only in relation to God, but also in relation to his neighbor, i.e. to any human, the blind man is a carnal and unenlightened man. We see that a person does evil to his neighbor, which he himself does not want; and does not do good to him, which he himself wants. We see that he is indignant and angry at the one who offends him; he abuses, abases, blames, discredits, lies about him, steals, kidnaps, takes away that which is his, and does other offenses; but he himself does such evil, or repays evil with evil, and is not ashamed and does not sense this. On the other hand, he wants his neighbor to be merciful to him and not leave him in need, for example: to quench his thirst and to give him drink when he thirsts, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger into his home and to comfort the sick and visit those in prison and do other works of mercy for him. All of this he wants, this truth is indisputable, but he himself does not want to do the same for a neighbor. We see that this evil is self-love, an untruth and blindness in Christians, who either silently pass by his neighbors living in misery as if not seeing them, or is ashamed to ask: "what can I do for him?" Many have plentiful food and a magnificent table for themselves, but do not care about a hungry neighbor; others wear all kinds of expensive clothes, and do not care about their naked neighbor; others build rich, large and tall houses and decorate the rest of the building, but for their neighbor who does not have a place to lay his head and to rest they do not care; they have silver, gold and other riches, comfortable for soul and life, that is kept whole and is saved, but there is no care for their neighbor who is burdened with debt and it is torment or prison for him for his shortfalls or sitting debts and suffering. We see this self-love and untruth in Christians: for not only they do evil, but also they don't do good for their neighbors, there is the untruth.
But, what it is even worse, we see that many Christians are not ashamed and are not afraid to steal, to kidnap and to be cunning, to flatter, to lie, to deceive, to slander, to scandalize, to denounce, to abuse, to commit adultery and make other offenses against their neighbor that they themselves would not want. All this comes from blindness.
May 28, 2011
The Russian Orthodox Church has given the country's Airborne Troops a mobile chapel to accompany them on combat missions, a paratrooper spokesman said.
The chapel is built on the frame of a truck trailer and is equipped with a life-support module, an electric generator and multimedia equipment.
It is serviced on the field by a priest and a five-man support team.
The chapel will be tested during forthcoming airborne exercises.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said last year that Orthodox Church military chaplains will soon appear in the Russian army.
According to the Russian defence ministry, two thirds of the country's servicemen consider themselves religious. Some 83 percent of them are Orthodox Christians, about eight percent are Muslims, and nine percent represent other faiths.
Saint Mitros (or Demetrios) of Peloponnesos, originated from Theisoa and was raised in a devout and virtuous family. However, at about eleven years of age he was converted to Islam, very likely as part of the suppression of rebellion in the Peloponnese in 1769 by the Turks. His Christian name was Demetrios, but when he became a Muslim he was named Mustafa.
Gifted with intelligence and wisdom, he quickly became well known amongst the most eminent Turks of the Peloponnese and rose in office to the position of sub-prefect. His many contacts and productivity also resulted in his acquisition of many riches and servants. Despite these riches and glory he was deeply dissatisfied with his situation and his young gullibility into being deceived into Islam and he wished to return to the faith of his parents. He went to the town of Tripolis, sold all his possessions, returned to his relatives and was brought back to the Christian Church through confession, repentance and spiritual guidance. He also shaved off his beard, since at that time in Tripoli the Muslims wore beards, and it was forbidden for Christians. Dimitrios lived for another ten years as a devout Christian.
His Christian life became known to the Turks, and while he was at Mystra he was recognised, captured and taken to the pasha of Tripolis on charges of converting back to Christianity. The pasha pointed out the many benefits of office and wealth that he owed to the Turks and made many attempts to make him denounce his faith, however Demetrios remained steadfast, declaring that he would rather die for his faith. He was imprisoned and after a few days, following further futile attempts to convert him, he was charged as an offender against Islam and executed by beheading on 28 May 1794, which was Pentecost Sunday. His last words to his fellow Christians at his execution were the following: "I am one of you. Demetrios is my name. Therefore entreat the Lord on my behalf."
He was buried with honor and respect by the Christian community at the Church of St Demetrios the Great-Martyr in Tripolis, now named after Saint Mitros.
Select offspring of Theisoa, fragrant white-flower of courage which blossomed in Tripolis, of Demetrios let us sing praise.
Napoleon made some remarkable statements about Christ while he was imprisoned on Saint Helena. This one was made to General Bertrand:
”Such is the fate of great men ! So it was with Caesar and Alexander. And I, too, am forgotten. And the name of a conqueror and an emperor is a college theme! Our exploits are tasks given to pupils by their tutor, who sit in judgment upon us, awarding censure or praise. And mark what is soon to become of me! Assassinated by the English oligarchy, I die before my time ; and my dead body, too, must return to the earth, to become food for worms. Behold the destiny, near at hand, of him who has been called the great Napoleon! What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal reign of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is extending over all the earth! Is this to die? Is it not rather to live? The death of Christ! It is the death of God.”
For a moment the Emperor was silent. As General Bertrand made no reply, Napolean solemnly added, ”If you do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, very well, then I did wrong to make you a general.”
General Bertrand said,
”I can not conceive, sire, how a great man like you can believe that the Supreme Being ever exhibited himself to men under a human form, with a body, a face, mouth, and eyes. Let Jesus be whatever you please—the highest intelligence, the purest heart, the most profound legislator, and, in all respects, the most singular being who has ever existed—I grant it. Still he was simply a man, who taught his disciples, and deluded credulous people, as did Orpheus, Confucius, Brama. Jesus caused himself to be adored because his predecessors Isis and Osiris, Jupiter and Juno, had proudly made themselves objects of worship. The ascendancy of Jesus over his time was like the ascendancy of the gods and the heroes of fable. If Jesus has impassioned and attached to his chariot the multitude, if he has revolutionized the world, I see in that only the power of genius and the action of a commanding spirit, which vanquishes the world as so many conquerors have done — Alexander, Caesar, you, sire, and Mohammed — with a sword.”
Napoleon promptly replied,
”I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religion the distance of infinity.”
Read more here.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The following miracle occurred at Camp Nazareth in Mercer, Pennsylvania on July 22, 1988.
By Fr. John Chakos
Every year, for the past eight years, I spend one week of the summer as chaplain of the camp of our diocese. I work with children 13-18 years old together with other clergy, with the purpose of offering to the campers various spiritual opportunities: talks, advice, confession, group discussions, prayer and divine services.
The weekly camping period began on Sunday 17 July 1988, and children and leaders from various parts of the diocese of Pittsburgh gathered.
On Tuesday night we had the so-called "Night of Saints". On this night one child from every team spoke to all the campers about the life of a saint. As the night went on, most of the campers stood up and, in an atmosphere of emotion, spoke about miracles which they saw or heard about.
On Thursday evening we chanted the Supplication to the Panagia. Presiding were Fathers Terry Linos, Michael Varvarelis and myself. At the end I anointed all the children with tears from the miraculous tear-flowing icon of the Panagia of Chicago. This icon is found on the iconostasis of the Holy Church of Saint Nicholas, an Albanian Orthodox parish in Chicago. It began to tear on 6 December 1986 and stopped in July 1987, having done many and great miracles to Orthodox and heterodox.
At the end Fr. Terry Linos brought me a photograph of this icon framed that I may bless it. I gently applied the damp cotton ball on the glass making the sign of the Cross.
On Friday morning a talk was given at the general meeting place of the camp concerning what the Holy Spirit can work for us. Because of this talk, the girls of Saint Markella's Cabin, whose feast it was that day, united in prayer and asked from the Holy Spirit to show then a sign on that day in which their team celebrated its feast. One female camper in fact said the following: "Why can't we also see a miracle in our life?"
On Friday evening all the children were getting ready for the night's "Talent Show" and the ethnic dances. Two hundred visitors gathered in the camping area to attend the event, since it was a day for visitors.
At exactly the moment in which the skits were about to begin, one team leader, Efi Hages, came running close to me. She was very flustered. She took me to the side and explained with tears in her eyes that in Cabin 3 an icon of the Panagia was tearing. I ran there immediately and I saw leaning on a window sill the icon which I blessed the day before following the Supplication Service. It was the copy of the Panagia of Chicago. In front of Her were team leaders kneeling that were clearly moved.
Indeed, from the eyes of the Panagia small drops like tears were streaming down. I reverently kneeled and prayed together with the others. I added my tears also to the tears of the Panagia. After a short quandary I returned to the shed where the skits had begun. I related to the visitors the miracle and invited them to come and venerate.
As the Supplication Service was chanted in the place of the miracle, Fr. Terry anointed those who came forward with cotton balls dipped in oil and tears from the icon of the Panagia. A strong fragrance encompassed the atmosphere. For whoever was anointed it smelled even more distinct, because it came from the essence of that with which they were blessed. One camper from Lorain of Ohio brought his own icon to Fr. Terry to have it blessed.
An hour must have passed after the miraculous event when Efi Hages came to inform me of a second miracle which now was happening in Cabin 7. The icon of the child from Lorain was also weeping and gave off a strong fragrance. I also noticed small oily drops formed on the spot in which the icon was anointed by Fr. Terry. The quantity of liquid which appeared however, could not by any means have come from the touch of a piece of cotton.
We brought this second tear-flowing icon to the chapel, as we did also with the first, to which also many campers came for a vigil and prayer. The sweet fragrance which we noticed first in the cabins and on the icons, was very strong in the church. It was so strong that I could distinctly taste it in my mouth. Some could sense the smell even in the surrounding areas, as far even as the parking lot which was fifty meters from the chapel.
New visitors came continuously when they found out about the amazing news. Through the duration of the night campers brought various icons of paper, wood and canvas to be blessed. In some of these were manifested the same miraculous phenomenon: the tears and the fragrance.
Fr. Michael Rosko, the director of Camp Nazareth, distributed many pamphlets which had on its cover a photo of the tear-flowing icon of Chicago. Some of these, since they were blessed, displayed the same wondrous signs. One pamphlet is worth recalling: I saw on the cover tears like beads which formed by themselves at the eyes of the Panagia and the divine Child, at some distance from the spot on which was anointed with the sign of the Cross.
By the end of the vigil I had counted a total of nineteen icons which had reproduced the fragrant tears.
I understand that all these things are hard to believe. The witnesses of this miracle however are many, at least two hundred: campers, team leaders, visitors, eight priests and two bishops. All these recognize it as a miracle, which is tied to the miraculous icon of Chicago. Others do not agree, and neither are they at duty to do so. For us who believe however, the myrrh-scented tears are shed from the heart of a compassionate Mother, who intercedes for the healing of the sick from the sins of the world.
From the book Ἐμφανίσεις καὶ θαύματα τῆς Παναγίας (Appearances and Miracles of the Panagia) by the Holy Monastery of Paraklitou, 2nd edition, 1991, pp. 94-98. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Another 'Miracle' Of Tears Liquid Is Seen On Photo Of Icon
July 28, 1988
The Associated Press
It was just a matter of tradition.
At the evening service last Thursday at Camp Nazareth, a religious camp for teenagers of the Greek Orthodox faith outside Pittsburgh, the Rev. John Chakos dabbed a glass-covered reproduction of the "Weeping Icon of Chicago" with a piece of cotton that had absorbed "tears" from the original.
"I put a little bit of the cotton onto the icon and that was it, a kind of a traditional thing," said the priest, pastor of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Mount Lebanon, outside Pittsburgh.
"Then we just forgot about it."
The next night, said Chakos, a female camp counselor who had taken the reproduction of the Chicago painting of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus to her cabin for safekeeping observed "tears . . . slowly trickling down out of the eyes."
The counselor "thought she was seeing things," Chakos said. "She called a couple of others to check it out. They also saw it happening."
That was just the beginning, he said.
He said he and two other priests brushed off some of the liquid from the weeping reproduction and began dabbing it on "about a couple hundred" icons presented by youngsters, aged 13 to 18, and adult counselors at the camp.
"We counted about 19 total that reproduced the tears," he said. The thick moisture emitted a strong fragrance he described as "perfume-like."
All activities were canceled, and a prayer vigil began that didn't end until the next morning, Chakos said. By Saturday, all the "weeping" had ceased.
Bishop Maximos, head of the Greek Orthodox Pittsburgh diocese, called the incident a "true miracle."
The occurrence came after about 200 youngsters and visiting parents discussed their religious doubts at the church camp and Chakos ended the session with a prayer to Saint Markella of Chios, an 8th century martyr beheaded by her father after he attempted to sexually abuse her.
"The children had asked that if other miracles happen, why couldn't they have a miracle?" said Bishop Maximos, who came to the camp after learning of the happening.
Many of the youngsters, who come from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, had icons that had been given to them during a visit to a convent of Greek Orthodox nuns, Chakos said.
The Rev. Michael Rosco, camp administrator, also saw the tears, he said.
"There is no explanation for it," said Rosco. He added he expects lots of people to be skeptical about the story. "I know if I was reading it, I would raise an eyebrow, too," he said. "But we know what we saw."
Camp officials would not allow camp children to talk to reporters.
An icon is a painting (or its photographic reproduction) of the Madonna, a saint or some scriptural scene from the Old or New Testament, Chakos said. An icon is given, he said, as "a little remembrance, a little keepsake, a little blessing."
The bishop said he doubted the tears were created by condensation or a chemical reaction, because "you can find no way of justifying the multiplication of weeping."
"Really, a lot of what happened here at this camp ties in to what happened in Chicago," said Chakos, who visited the Midwest church where the Madonna icon was said to weep for more than seven months and ask the priest there "to give me some of the tears.
"He took a cotton ball, absorbed some of the tears."
Moisture began appearing in the area of the eyes of the Chicago icon at St. Nicholas Church, on Dec. 6, 1986, and ceased the following July. Thousands of visitors were drawn to the church from as far away as the Soviet Union and Sri Lanka.
Though many see tears as a sign of sadness, Chakos said, "the background of our church portrays the Virgin Mary as an intercessor.
"It is understood that her tears are a manifestation of her prayers to her son ... tears of supplication."
Below is a television news report on the miracle:
1. "The Saint Was Helping Me To Pray"
Aikaterina M. from Athens related the following miracle of St. John the Russian in 1995, about her first visit to the Church of Saint John the Russian in Evia:
The first time I came here with my friends, I barely knew who St. John was, nor did I know what to expect, as I had never seen incorrupt relics before. At first I was shocked - the saint's body was certainly there, as it should not have been if it had been subject to the normal processes of nature, but his skin looked dark and a little withered, and I was fearful of coming any closer to the glass coffin. I finally gathered my courage and went up to look. His face was covered with a gold cloth, out of reverence, but I could clearly see his hands and wrists. I knelt down beside the coffin to pray, feeling that even if it seemed strange to me, I should still try to be respectful. I asked the saint to help me understand what I was seeing, and to know him. When I finished praying, I went to sit in a chair off to the side while I waited for my friends. I thought that I should pray some more, but I didn't know any prayers to St. John so I took out my Akathist Hymn to the Panagia, which I always carry with me, and told St. John that it was for him also. I begged him to forgive me for not having a special prayer for him alone.
Probably like most people, I often don't pray very deeply unless someone I love is ill or in danger, and this time I began read the Akathist to the Panagia in my usual way, although I tried hard to concentrate on the words. Suddenly, I felt that someone had come up and was standing next to me. I looked around quickly, but the nearest person was kneeling at the relics with his back to me, about a dozen meters away. I went back to my prayers, and although I didn't actually hear anything spoken aloud, I had the distinct impression that someone was praying to the Panagia with me, with great strength and love. I suddenly found myself praying with a depth I have never felt before or since - as if I was somehow in the middle of the prayer, and it was alive. I could feel the prayer moving up to heaven, and I knew in my soul that it was St. John himself, praying with me.
I was filled with such awe and joy at the nearness of the saint who was helping me to pray even though I had been afraid of him. It felt like Pascha, and as if I had just received the Holy Mysteries. I come to him now as often as I can.
2. The Cane
For many years, pilgrims to the shrine of St. John the Russian saw a simple cane standing before the glass-enclosed sepulchre. It belonged to an old woman, Maria Spaik, who was bent over from osteoporosis and had been unable to stand upright for eighteen years. In August 1978, he relatives brought her to the Church of St. John and lifted her in their arms so that she could venerate the relics. When Maria saw the incorrupt body of the Saint, she began to cry, asking St. John to help her. As she prayed over the relics, she felt an invisible hand touch her back. The old woman drew herself up erect. Tears appeared in the eyes of all the onlookers. The bells were rung, and a Supplication Service was sung in thanksgiving. The cane was left at the shrine as a memorial of the miracle.
3. An Escape From Bandits
In 1878, Fr. Andrew, a monk from the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos, made a pilgrimage to Prokopion to pray before the relics of St. John. When he arrived he venerated the Saint with great joy, and remained in the village for some time. On his way to Constantinople he travelled with six coaches of Turkish merchants from Anatolia, also on their way to the capital. As they reached a rutted and desolate part of the road, the monk's coach and one other slowed down to avoid mishap, while the rest went on ahead. Suddenly, a young man on a red horse appeared on a low hill near Fr. Andrew's coach, waving his hand and shouting, "Turn back! Robbers have captured your companions!" As soon as he sounded the warning, he vanished from in front of their eyes.
The two coaches immediately turned back, and although pursued by the robbers, they escaped unharmed. Fr. Andrew hastened to the nearest village, where he continued his journey in the company of Turkish soldiers. At a country inn where they spent the night, he met his former merchant-companions, who told him that the thieves had not only taken their money, but even their clothes, and they were amazed that the last two coaches had escaped unharmed. Fr. Andrew related the appearance of the youth, and they all glorified God, understanding that it was the Saint himself who had saved the monk after his pilgrimage to Prokopion.
The following is of significant importance to Orthodox Christians in Australia.
Basically, the local council has re-zoned the area where the Pantanassa Monastery in NSW now stands and has changed the local law to say that no more places of worship can be built in the area, including the restriction of any extensions being built to their own building.
I humbly request my Australian readers to read below and fill in their details on the form which will be emailed directly to our local members of parliament and councillors of the local government.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We need your urgent assistance - action is needed prior to Tuesday 31 May 2011!
Please forward this page to as many people as possible!
After many years of hard work and fundraising, and with the support of all the Greek Orthodox Australian faithful of NSW and other States, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia has been developing two Monasteries on the Central Coast of NSW: Pantanassa Monastery at Mangrove Creek and Holy Cross Monastery at Mangrove Mountain. At the time of purchase of these lands, the construction of a monastery, including a church was permissible within the current zones, and on this basis the lands were purchased and the monasteries planned.
NOW, Gosford Council is proposing to eliminate "places of public worship" from the zones on which the Monasteries are located under its "Gosford Draft LEP 2009". This means that future development and expansion of the monasteries, including construction of new churches, is threatened and may not be permissible on monastery lands.
1. made detailed submissions to Council opposing the proposed change to the zoning - these have been rejected! and
2. asked Council to acknowledge the monasteries future development needs by placing the monasteries in the SP1 'Special Activities Zone' which would allow for development of the monasteries with Council consent based on merit considerations - this too was rejected!
On Monday 23 May 2011 we were informed that Council plans to consider the adoption of the "Gosford Draft LEP 2009" on Tuesday 31 May 2011!
How can you help?
You can help by sending one of the automated email letters we have prepared for you to all of the relevant Councillors and Ministers simply at the click of one button:
1. Select one of the letters below;
2. Fill in the form at the bottom of the letter with your full details - this is very important; and
3. Press the 'send email now' button.
We must act before TUESDAY 31 MAY 2011 and let Councillors and State Government Ministers know that we are very upset and disappointed with this whole matter! You may also write directly to the relevant Councillors and Ministers, see below for contact details. To find your local State MP CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE TO ACT NOW!
We thank you in advance for your support and pray that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ bless you and your families.
567 Mangrove Creek Rd, Mangrove Creek, NSW 2250
t: (02) 4374 1060 f: (02) 4374 1422 e: email@example.com
Holy Cross Monastery
Lot 1, Holy Cross Rd, Mangrove Mountain, NSW 2250
P.O. Box 1799, Gosford, N.S.W. 2250
t: (02) 4374 1657 f: (02) 4374 1750 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: (not available as yet)
To Send A Letter, Click Here
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The following was written by a student of Fr. George Florovsky:
Our seminary classes were just beginning as autumn was drawing nigh in Massachusetts. The students of the theological division were looking forward to their classes that year, especially because the eminent professor of theology, Father Georges Florovsky, would be teaching at our institution. Father John Romanides, another renowned instructor, was teaching there already, so there was a lot to look forward to.
Finally, the big day arrived, and Father Georges entered the lecture room. Out of reverence and in deference to him, the class stood as he walked through the door and came to the podium.
As we have mentioned on other occasions, Father Georges himself had never attended classes at any seminary or theological academy in his youth. As he often affirmed, he had gained all his theological knowledge by studying the service books of the Orthodox Church. Yet, in academic and church circles, he was one of the most famous voices and representatives of the Church, if not the most famous, throughout the whole world during the twentieth century.
As the lecture began, the students understood immediately that some adjustments and accommodations would have to be made, primarily because of Father Georges' accent in speaking English.
Anyone who tries to speak a foreign language knows that some sounds in that language are going to be tough, chiefly because that language may have sounds that ours does not. So often, what we come up with is an approximation.
For example, we know that the Chinese have no "r" in their language, so they will often replace it with an "l" sound when they are speaking English. Greek-speaking people, on their part, are completely bewildered with our innumerable English vowels and consonants, and so what they come up with is the subject of countless hilarious anecdotes in Greek-American homes, especially among the children, who, of course, grew up speaking English. Well, in the case of people who speak Russian, the "th" sound is the killer. For example, the Greek name "Theophilos" has become "Feofil" in Russian. "Theodore" has become "Fyodor" for the Russians.
With this in mind, let us return to our much anticipated, first lecture with Father Georges Florovsky.
As he was speaking, at one point he turned towards us and, with particular emphasis, declared: "I have zee most beautifool face in zee world."
Now, it must be said that Father Georges appeared to be, and, in fact, had the reputation for being, a very modest man. So, this astounding claim that had just escaped his lips seemed completely out of character.
Caught off guard by Father Georges' remark, I thought to myself, "Well, maybe his presbytera thinks so."
However, as the lecture continued, and we slowly became accustomed to his manner of speech, it finally dawned on us that Father Georges had not been bragging about his looks (which were sort of pleasant, to be sure). No, as a matter of fact, he was proclaiming his pride that he was an Orthodox Christian! It was his confession of faith in the depth and beauty of Orthodoxy.
What Father Georges had actually said to us, as it soon became abundantly clear, was:
"I have the most beautiful faith in the world!"
Phew! Thank God! Father George's modesty was still intact. And, by the way, so was his confession of faith.
Below is a supplement of patristic quotes to my post titled Was Jesus Ignorant of the Time of His Second Coming?.
- "If anyone does not say that the Son of God is true God just as [His] Father is true God [and] He is all-powerful and omniscient and equal to the Father, he is a heretic." — Council of Rome, Tome of Pope Damasus, Canon 12 (A.D. 382)
- “These things being so, come let us now examine into 'But of that day and that hour knows no man, neither the Angels of God, nor the Son ;'[Mark 13:32] for being in great ignorance as regards these words, and being stupefied about them, they think they have in them an important argument for their heresy. But I, when the heretics allege it and prepare themselves with it, see in them the giants again fighting against God. For the Lord of heaven and earth, by whom all things were made, has to litigate before them about day and hour; and the Word who knows all things is accused by them of ignorance about a day; and the Son who knows the Father is said to be ignorant of an hour of a day; now what can be spoken more contrary to sense, or what madness can be likened to this? Through the Word all things have been made, times and seasons and night and day and the whole creation; and is the Framer of all said to be ignorant of His work? And the very context of the lection shows that the Son of God knows that hour and that day, though the Arians fall headlong in their ignorance. For after saying, 'nor the Son,' He relates to the disciples what precedes the day, saying, 'This and that shall be, and then the end.' But He who speaks of what precedes the day, knows certainly the day also, which shall be manifested subsequently to the things foretold. But if He had not known the hour, He had not signified the events before it, as not knowing when it should be. And as any one, who, by way of pointing out a house or city to those who were ignorant of it, gave an account of what comes before the house or city, and having described all, said, 'Then immediately comes the city or the house,' would know of course where the house or the city was (for had he not known, he had not described what comes before lest from ignorance he should throw his hearers far out of the way, or in speaking he should unawares go beyond the object), so the Lord saying what precedes that day and that hour, knows exactly, nor is ignorant, when the hour and the day are at hand….Now why it was that, though He knew, He did not tell His disciples plainly at that time, no one may be curious where He has been silent; for 'Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor [Romans 11:34]?' but why, though He knew, He said, 'no, not the Son knows,' this I think none of the faithful is ignorant, viz. that He made this as those other declarations as man by reason of the flesh. For this as before is not the Word's deficiency , but of that human nature whose property it is to be ignorant....” — St Athanasius, Discourse 3 Against the Arians, Chapter 28
- "Certainly when He says in the Gospel concerning Himself in His human character, 'Father, the hour is come, glorify Your Son ,'[John 17:1] it is plain that He knows also the hour of the end of all things, as the Word, though as man He is ignorant of it, for ignorance is proper to man, and especially ignorance of these things. Moreover this is proper to the Savior's love of man; for since He was made man, He is not ashamed, because of the flesh which is ignorant , to say 'I know not,' that He may show that knowing as God, He is but ignorant according to the flesh . And therefore He said not, 'no, not the Son of God knows,' lest the Godhead should seem ignorant, but simply, 'no, not the Son,'[Mark 13:32] that the ignorance might be the Son's as born from among men." - St Athanasius, Discourse 3 Against the Arians, Chapter 43
- "No man save Him who for our salvation has designed to put on flesh has full knowledge and a complete grasp of the truth." - St Jerome, Letter to Pope Damacus in reply to Genesis 27:23
- "Their tenth objection is the objection, and the statement that of the last 'day and hour knows no man, not even the Son Himself, but the Father.'[Mark 13:32] And yet how can Wisdom be ignorant of anything? ...How then can you say that all things before that hour He knows accurately, and all things that are to happen about the time of the end, but the hour itself He is ignorant? For such a thing would be like a riddle, as if one were to say that he knew accurately all that was in front of the wall, but did not know the wall itself; or that, knowing the end of the day, he did not the beginning of night--where knowledge of the one neccessarily brings in the other. Thus everyone must see He knows as God, and knows not as man,--if one may separate visible from that which discerned by thought alone." - St Gregory Nazianzen, On the Holy Spirit, Chapter 30:15
- “For He, as the Only-begotten Son of the Father, and the Word, both was and is omnipotent, and there is nothing that is not easy to Him.” — St Cyril of Jerusalem Homilies On Luke, 47
- "We can now understand why He said that He knew not the day. If we believe Him to have been really ignorant, we contradict the Apostle, who says, "In Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden" [Colossians 2:3]. There is knowledge which is hidden in Him, and because it has to be hidden, it must sometimes for this purpose be professed as ignorance, for once declared, it will no longer be secret. In order, therefore, that the knowledge may remain hidden, He declares that He does not know. But if He does not know, in order that the knowledge may remain hidden, this ignorance is not due to His nature, which is omniscient, for He is ignorant solely in order that it may be hidden. Nor is it hard to see why the knowledge of the day is hidden." — St Hilary of Poiters, On the Trinity Book IX Chapter 67
- “The Son is ignorant, then, of nothing which the Father knows, nor does it follow because the Father alone knows, that the Son does not know. Father and Son abide in unity of nature, and the ignorance of the Son belongs to the divine Plan of silence, seeing that in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This the Lord Himself testified, when He answered the question of the Apostles concerning the times, “It is not yours to know times or moments, which the Father has set within His own authority” [Acts 1:7]. The knowledge is denied them, and not only that, but the anxiety to learn is forbidden, because it is not theirs to know these times. Yet now that He is risen, they ask again, though their question on the former occasion had been met with the reply, that not even the Son knew. They cannot possibly have understood literally that the Son did not know, for they ask Him again as though He did know. They perceived in the mystery of His ignorance a divine Plan of silence, and now, after His resurrection, they renew the question, thinking that the time has come to speak. And the Son no longer denies that He knows, but tells them that it is not theirs to know, because the Father has set it within His own authority. If then, the Apostles attributed it to the divine Plan, and not to weakness, that the Son did not know the day, shall we say that the Son knew not the day for the simple reason that He was not God? Remember, God the Father set the day within His authority, that it might not come to the knowledge of man, and the Son, when asked before, replied that He did not know, but now, no longer denying His knowledge, replies that it is theirs not to know, for the Father has set the times not in His own knowledge, but in His own authority. The day and the moment are included in the word 'times': can it be, then, that He, Who was to restore Israel to its kingdom, did not Himself know the day and the moment of that restoration? He instructs us to see an evidence of His birth in this exclusive prerogative of the Father, yet He does not deny that He knows: and while He proclaims that the possession of this knowledge is withheld from ourselves, He asserts that it belongs to the mystery of the Father's authority.
We must not therefore think, because He said He did not know the day and the moment, that the Son did not know. As man He wept, and slept, and sorrowed, but God is incapable of tears, or fear, or sleep. According to the weakness of His flesh He shed tears, slept, hungered, thirsted, was weary, and feared, yet without impairing the reality of His Only-begotten nature; equally so must we refer to His human nature, the words that He knew not the day or the hour [Mark 13:32].” — St Hilary of Poiters, On the Trinity, Book IX Chapter 74
- "Those, then, who say that He is a servant divide the one Christ into two, just as Nestorius did. But we declare Him to be Master and Lord of all creation, the one Christ, at once God and man, and all-knowing. 'For in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the hidden treasures'" [Col 2:3]. — St John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book III Chapter 21
- "Concerning that which has been written: That 'neither the Son, nor the angels know the day and the hour' [cf. Mark 13:32, Matt 24:36], indeed, your holiness has perceived rightly, that since it most certainly should be referred not to the same Son according to that which is the head, but according to His body which we are.... He [Augustine] also says ... that this can be understood of the same Son, because the omnipotent God sometimes speaks in a human way, as he said to Abraham: 'Now I know that thou fearest God' [Gen. 22:12], not because God then knew that He was feared, but because at that time He caused Abraham to know that he feared God. For, just as we say a day is happy not because the day itself is happy, but because it makes us happy, so the omnipotent Son says He does not know the day which He causes not to be known, not because He himself is ignorant of it, but because He does not permit it to be known at all. Thus also the Father alone is said to know, because the Son (being) consubstantial with Him, on account of His nature, by which He is above the angels, has knowledge of that, of which the angels are unaware. Thus, also, this can be the more precisely understood because the Only-begotten having been incarnate, and made perfect man for us, in His divine nature indeed did know the day and the hour of judgment, but nevertheless He did not know this from His human nature. Therefore, that which in (nature) itself He knew, He did not know from that very (nature), because God-made-man knew the day and hour of the judgment through the power of His Godhead.... Thus, the knowledge which He did not have on account of the nature of His humanity, by reason of which, like the angels, He was a creature this He denied that He, like the angels, who are creatures, had. Therefore (as) God and man He knows the day and the hour of judgment; but on this account, because God is man. But the fact is certainly manifest that whoever is not a Nestorian, can in no wise be an Agnoeta. For with what purpose can he, who confesses that the Wisdom itself of God is incarnate say that there is anything which the Wisdom of God does not know? It is written: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by Him' [John 1:1, 3]. If 'all', without doubt also the day of judgment and the hour. Who, therefore, is so foolish as to presume to assert that the Word of the Father made that which He does not know? It is written also: 'Jesus knowing, that the Father gave Him all things into his hands' [John 13:3]. If all things, surely both the day of judgment and the hour. Who, therefore, is so stupid as to say that the Son has received in His hands that of which He is unaware?" — St Gregory the Great, Letter to Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria