Friday, September 9, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Kyra Panagia (Greek: Κυρά Παναγιά; trans. Lady All-Holy) is a Greek island in the Sporades. It is administratively part of the municipality of Alonnisos in the Magnesia Prefecture. The island is also known by the name of Pelagos and rarely Pelagonisi. In Antiquity it was known as Ephthyros (Έφθυρος) and Polyaigos (Πολύαιγος). A bay in the south west of the island is named Agios Petros. Kyra Panagia has belonged to the Athonite monastery of Megisti Lavra (Great Lavra) since it was granted the island by the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros II Phokas in 963. There is a monastery, currently (2011) under restoration and inhabited by a single monk, on the east coast of the island. With an area of 25 square kilometres Kyra Panagia is the largest of the desert islands.
The story begins in 963 AD, when Saint Athanasios the Athonite bought the island from the Byzantine noblemen of Constantinople as a dependency of Mount Athos, which it supplied with food such as meat, honey, oil, and wheat. It is well-known that women may not enter Mount Athos, but many will not be aware that neither are female animals allowed, so Athos's requirements of meat are met by its dependencies. This is how goat-farming started on Kyra Panagia, and the system whereby the island is rented from the Great Lavra Monastery by goat-farmers to graze their flocks continues to the present day.
The island's monastery, built in 1100 AD, is situated on the southeastern side. Up until 1984 there was still a monk there. The monastery overlooks the sea from its height and resembles a small fortress, reminiscent of the times when pirates laid waste to the area. Its natural harbor is exposed to the elements and caïques can only approach in favourable conditions.
The monastery buildings, simple but impressive, were restored in 1992 with funds given by the Potamianos family, and is again ready to receive monks who might wish to go there. It is interesting to see the still-existing old oil-press and flour mill. From up here on clear days there is an excellent view of the island of Yioura opposite it, with the rocky islets Pappous and Grammiza in front of it, and further off the little island of Piperi. In good weather one can see the flat bulk of Psathoura jutting out of the sea in the distance.
There are many olive trees on the island, which in former times provided the monastic community with oil and olives. Nowadays no one looks after them and the harvest is meagre. Similarly, cultivation of the island's fertile plains has been abandoned. There are many springs on the island, so that in former times farm animals could be kept. The island's surface is covered chiefly with scrub-oak and other dry, low vegetation.
Traces of early settlement
Kyra Panagia has two large natural bays: Agios Petros in the West and Planitis in the East. When North winds blow caïques can shelter in the protected bay of Agios Petros. Here too the Byzantine sailors moored their ships, and one of them sank in the depths of the bay; the wreck has still not been investigated by archaeologists.
In ancient times Kyra Panagia was the centre of these desert islands, which were not then as deserted as today. Remains of neolithic dwellings have been found on the island, so Kyra Panagia is reckoned among the earliest of the Aegean islands to have been settled. (About 6,000 B.C.) Ancient ruins have been found opposite the islet of Melissa in Agios Petros bay. It is possible that an entire ancient city was established here, as witnessed by the ruined walls discovered on the coast of the bay. Certainly the finds have a story to tell to archaeologists who will study them. The island was inhabited continually up until the classical era, but became well-known during the dispute between Philippos and the Athenians. From the 5th century B.C. it belonged to Athens. In 351 B.C. Sostratos, a brigand from Peparithos (the present-day Skopelos) took over the island and made it his stronghold. Then a little before 346 B.C. Philippos took it over and chased Sostratos out. The Athenians however, to whom the island belonged, complained, and Philippos agreed to hand it back to them. In spite of this the Athenians remained unsatisfied and Igisippos made his speech ‘Concerning Alonnisos', of which only fragments survive. This speech was mistakenly attributed to Demosthenes, whose own work of the same title is lost.
In the southern part of the bay the plain of Agios Petros stretches down from the mountain, full of olive trees, and at its end there are remains of an old monastery.
The bay of Planitis in the East is one of the largest natural harbors in the Mediterranean. Its entrance is about 80 metres wide and then it divides into western and southern areas, each several hundred yards wide. Arriving in Planitis by caïque one wonders why, with such an ideal natural harbour, no settlement has developed. The fact that the island belongs to Mount Athos appears to be the reason there has been no settlement in recent history. This is fortunate for the natural environment, which has remained undamaged except for over-grazing, and for the present-day visitor who can enjoy the genuinely natural countryside of an Aegean island.
The katholikon of the Monastery of Kyra Panagia, celebrates its feast day on the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos on September 8th. In this courtyard early Christian relics of the 6th and 7th century AD were discovered and there is a pergola to offer shade to the visitors. The Monastery of Kyra Panagia has become very popular with tourists and it is fascinating to see the still-existing remains of the old olive oil press and flour-mill. The main festival at Kyra Panagia Monastery takes place on 15th of August every year.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
The Holy Virgin Mary was born of aged parents, Joachim and Anna. Her father was of the lineage of David, and her mother of the lineage of Aaron. Thus, she was of royal birth by her father, and of priestly birth by her mother. In this, she foreshadowed Him Who would be born of her as King and High Priest. Her parents were quite old and had no children. Because of this they were ashamed before men and humble before God. In their humility they prayed to God with tears, to bring them joy in their old age by giving them a child, as He had once given joy to the aged Abraham and his wife Sarah by giving them Isaac. The Almighty and All-seeing God rewarded them with a joy that surpassed all their expectations and all their most beautiful dreams. For He gave them not just a daughter, but the Mother of God. He illumined them not only with temporal joy, but with eternal joy as well. God gave them just one daughter, and she would later give them just one grandson-but what a daughter and what a Grandson! Mary, Full of grace, Blessed among women, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Altar of the Living God, the Table of the Heavenly Bread, the Ark of God's Holiness, the Tree of the Sweetest Fruit, the Glory of the race of man, the Praise of womanhood, the Fount of virginity and purity-this was the daughter given by God to Joachim and Anna. She was born in Nazareth, and at the age of three, was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem. In her young womanhood she returned again to Nazareth, and shortly thereafter heard the Annunciation of the Holy Archangel Gabriel concerning the birth of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, from her most-pure virgin body.
West of Struga in Macedonia, the Holy Mother of God manifested her power and mercy through numerous miracles. Many of the sick were miraculously healed, and thieves who thought to plunder or desecrate the monastery were severely punished by an invisible power. There is a miracle-working icon of the Holy Theotokos in the church there; nearby, there are two springs of healing water: that of St. Peter and that of St. Ananias. The Chapel of St. Athanasius is located in a cave not far from the main church.
St. Dionysius the Areopagite writes of the immeasurable joy, the outer and inner radiance, and the indescribable fragrance that he sensed in the presence of the Holy Theotokos when he visited her in Jerusalem. In his zeal, he says that if he had not known the One True God, he would have recognized her, the Holy Virgin Mary, as God. The Holy Virgin made such a powerful and unique impression on men during her earthly life-and she received an incomparably greater power and glory after her physical death when, by the will of God, she was exalted above the heavenly hosts. Her power comes from her ceaseless prayer for the faithful, for all those who turn to her for help. When St. John of Novgorod and his people prayed to her for help against a hostile army, he understood that she was simultaneously praying to the Lord with tears in their behalf, and Novgorod was miraculously saved. As she was compassionate toward her crucified Son, so the Holy Most-pure One is also compassionate toward all those in need, to, where, after the priest prayed over him before the icon of the Holy Theotokos, he received his sight. The first monk at Pochaev saw a fiery pillar extending from earth to heaven, and in that flaming pillar he saw the Holy Theotokos. She was standing on a rock. On the spot where she stood, a spring of healing water sprang forth: even today, it heals many of the sick.
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Nativity of the Most-holy Mother of God
O greatly desired and long awaited one,
O Virgin, thou hast been obtained from the Lord with tears!
A bodily temple of the Most-holy Spirit shalt thou become,
And shalt be called Mother of the Eternal Word.
The Burning Bush they called thee,
For thou wilt receive within thyself the divine fire:
Ablaze with fire but not consumed,
Thou shalt bear the Golden Fruit and offer it to the world.
Thou shalt be the Bearer of Him Who bears the heavens,
To Whom all of heaven offers up praise!
The Miracle of miracles shall come to pass within thee,
For thou shalt bear heaven, thou who art "more spacious than the heavens!''
Thou art more precious to us, O Virgin, than precious stones,
For thou art the source of salvation for mankind.
For this, may the entire universe glorify thee,
O Most-holy Virgin, O white Turtledove!
The King of Heaven shall desire to enter the world,
And shall pass through thee, O Beautiful Gate!
O Virgin, when thou dost become woman thou shalt bear Christ for us;
From thy body, the Sun shall blaze forth.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
By Richard Carriero
Disorienting flashes of light and dark, that's how Earnest Hemingway's "On the Quai at Smyrna" begins.
"The strange thing was, he said, how they screamed every night at midnight. I do not know why they screamed at that time. We were in the harbor and they were all on the pier and at midnight they started screaming. We used to turn the searchlight on them to quiet them. That always did the trick. We'd run the search light up and down over them two or three times and they stopped it."
On August 30th, 1922 after smashing the Greeks at Afyon, Mustafa Kemal ordered his troops to Smyrna. Before him the survivors of the disastrous Greek invasion poured onto ships in terror. Not everyone escaped. The invasion's chaotic conclusion would bring Hemingway to Istanbul and provide the subject matter for his first work as a war correspondent.
No one knows who burned the city (Ataturk gave orders that on pain of death no civilians were to be harmed). Hemmed in by fire and the Turkish army, Christians huddled on the pier. Old men died alongside women giving birth. In Our Time, Hemingway's first story collection, begins with these images, gleaned from refugees a scant three weeks later by the young American journalist for the Toronto Star.
Toward the end of September, Hemingway, a new arrival on the Paris literary scene, boarded a train to write about a war. As he crawled through the Balkans on the Orient Express, bound for, as he put it, "Constantinople and Scutari (Üsküdar), where a short bronze-faced, blond Turk with a seasoned army of 300,000 men and a united nation at his back dictates terms to the Allies," the situation had reached a critical mass.
Like a prize fighter who has floored his opponent and glares about for the next challenger, Turkish forces marched into the neutral zone decreed by the Treaty of Sevres. They were ordered by British General Harrington to desist. Mustafa Kemal refused-the British were in no position to give orders. The Italians and French armies fled and the Greek navy was ordered by the British to quit Istanbul. In a city where people remembered only too well what happened in Izmir everyone was on knife's edge as Ataturk met with the allies to discuss peace terms. It was into this pressurized environment that Hemingway arrived.
"Constantinople doesn't look like the movies. It does not look like the pictures, or the paintings, or anything. First your train comes winding like a snake down the sun-baked, tree-less, rolling plain to the sea. It rocks along the shore where kids are bathing and out across the blue water you see a big brown island and faintly beyond it bulks the brown coast of Asia."
From his arrival at Sirkeci to his procession across Galata Bridge, up the hill to the Buyuk Londres Hotel in Pera, Hemingway describes a brownish city of narrow streets, bad traffic and hillsides strewn with rubbish. Although a first time visitor, Hemingway adeptly conveyed Istanbul to his readers in a few compact brush strokes. "You get flashes of squatting, mushroom-like mosques always with their dirty white minarets rising from the corners. Everything white in Constantinople is dirty white."
Its hard not to marvel that he was only 23. He hadn't a single novel to his credit and had only published a handful of stories. However his experiences in World War I had already given his work its characteristic detachment. Most importantly, Hemingway had developed a knack for thrusting himself into the action.
"There is a tight-drawn, electric tension in Constantinople such as only people who live in a city that has never been invaded can imagine. Take the tension that comes when the pitcher steps into the box before the packed stands at the first game of the world series, multiply it by the tension that comes when the barrier snaps up, the gong clangs and they're off at the King's Plate at the Woodbine (Toronto racetrack), add to it the tension in your mind when walk the floor downstairs as you wait frightened and cold from someone you love while a doctor and a nurse are doing something in a room above you that you cannot help in any way..." Probably more hyperbolic than his masterworks, at the same time, however, Hemingway was writing as a journalist and thus, we get to see a different side-one concerned with deadlines and sensationalism.
Not that hyperbole was really necessary that autumn. Hemingway entered a city that did not know whether it would witness a second Izmir should the allies abandon the straits. The "upstairs operation" is an allusion to the Mudanya conference where Ataturk sat down with the allies to decide Istanbul's future. In an interview with Ataturk's representative in the city, Hamid Bey, Hemingway discusses the prospect of sectarian strife.
"Canada is anxious about the possibility of a massacre of Christians when Kemal enters Constantinople," I said.
"What have the Christians to fear?" he asked. "They are armed and the Turks have been disarmed. There will be no massacre. It is the Greek Christians who are massacring the Turks now in Thrace. That's why we must occupy Thrace to protect our people."
The settlement of eastern Thrace and the freedom of the straits were at issue in Mudanya but the press weren't invited. While awaiting the outcome of the conference, Hemingway had plenty of time to take in Istanbul. The Buyuk Londres Hotel in Pera, where he stayed, was one of the grand pensions built during the 1890's in anticipation of the Orient Express. Today it epitomizes 19th century European opulence; in the grotto-like bar one can imagine Hemingway going over proofs whilst smoking cigarettes and sipping martinis. From the Londres front steps looking out over the Golden Horn, you can imagine how he saw the city each day.
"In the morning when you wake and see a mist over the Golden Horn with the minarets rising out of it slim and clean toward the sun and the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer in a voice that soars and dips like an aria from a Russian Opera, you have the magic of the East. When you look from the window into the mirror and discover your face is covered with a mass of minute red speckles from the latest insect that discovered you last night, you have the East."
All of Hemingway's dispatches display the same ambivalence toward the city. In describing Turkish cuisine the author comments how "the fish are good" and yet in the same paragraph how his jaw muscles were beginning to "bulge like a bull dog" from eating tough Turkish beef.
Hemingway's October 28th, 1922 article, "Old Constan," makes many observations that any modern Istanbullu can relate to. About the weather he quips, "If it doesn't rain in Constan the dust is so thick that a dog trotting along the road that parallels the Pera Hillside kicks up a puff like a bullet striking every times his paws hit the ground...If it rains, this is all mud."
His descriptions of Beyoglu are priceless, "All night hot sausage, fried potato and roast chestnut stands run their charcoal braziers on the sidewalk to cater to the long lines of cabmen who stay up all night to solicit fares from the revelers."
His take on late night Beyoglu is eerily familiar, "Before the sun rises in the morning you can walk through the black, smooth-worn streets of Constan and rats will scuttle out of your way, a few stray dogs nose at the garbage in the gutters, and a bar of light comes through the rack in a shutter letting our a streak of light and the sound of drunken laughing. That drunken laughing is the contrast to the muezzin's beautiful, minor, soaring, swaying call to prayer and the black slippery, smelly, offal-strewn streets of Constantinople in the early morning are the reality of the Magic of the East."
Hemingway was in Istanbul long enough to conduct a few interviews, complain about a particularly officious Near East censor and describe his Greek landlord, who had armed himself to the teeth to defend his hotel in the event of rioting. The Mudanya conference, of course, would turn out to be a diplomatic triumph for Ataturk, who was gracious in victory. The Greeks were given time to peacefully withdraw beyond the Maritza River (the present-day border of Turkey) while the Turks waited patiently to take possession of their territory.
Hemingway moved on to Edirne to take in the Greek departure from Eastern Thrace. Once again witness to one of the many seismic movements that would mark a turbulent century (a movement reenacted by the Turks in Greece who were forcibly relocated to Anatolia), Hemingway pulled no punches.
"The main column crossing the Martiza River at Adrianople (Edirne) is twenty miles long. Twenty miles of carts drawn by cows, bullocks and muddy-flanked water buffalo, with exhausted, staggering men, women and children, blankets over their heads, walking blindly along in the rain beside their worldly goods."
Though Hemingway was in Turkey less than a month, his time here served as an important education in war correspondence. Throughout his career, Hemingway would recreate images of conflict in sharp declarative sentences. His World War I career led to Farewell to Arms; his time in the Spanish Civil War yielded For Whom the Bell Tolls. It was in Turkey, however, that Hemingway really cut his teeth. As for the man himself; he returned to his wife in Paris with a face criss-crossed by insect bites and a head so lousy from sleeping in a Thracian boarding house that he had to shave off his hair.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
We divide people into monks and married people, and life into monastic and married, with the result that we praise the monastic life, which we regard as better and more suited to keeping God's commandments, while we disparage married life as not suitable for the practice of God's will.
Indeed we know very well that the Church praises both ways of life, both the monastic life and the married life. But this does not mean that one is praised at the expense of the other. And at this point we must say that the interpretation of the Parable of the Talents applies, which we mentioned before.
It can be maintained that in the Church the people are not divided simply into unmarried and married, but into people who live in Christ and people who do not live in Christ. Thus on the one hand we have people who have the Holy Spirit and on the other hand people who do not have the Holy Spirit. Moreover, in the early Church, as it seems in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, all the Christians, unmarried and married, lived like monks, because even marriage has its asceticism. Therefore, if some monk criticises marriage in Christ, he shows that he has a problem with the monastic life, and if a married person criticises and looks askance at the monastic life, it means that he has a problem with the way in which he is living his life. A good monk never criticises what God praises and a good married person never criticises anything that God praises, such as the monastic life. It is characteristic that the best homily about Virginity is said to have been composed by St. Gregory of Nyssa, who was married: and a man who was unmarried, St. Amphilochios of Ikonium, wrote excellent things about the married life. Moreover let us not forget that St. Paphnoutios defended marriage for the Clergy in the First Ecumenical Council.
In his homily St. Amphilochios of Ikonium shows that the Christian is a catholic man, in other words, whole. He praises virginity and marriage. In speaking about virginity he says of marriage: "The worthy marriage towers above every earthly gift, such as a tree in fruit. . . as a root of virginity, as a cultivator of the rational and living branches". Then he says: "Remove the worthy marriage and you do not find the flower of virginity". Moreover, the comparison is between two worthy things, because St. Amphilochios says: "Saying these things, we are not introducing a fight between virginity and marriage; we admire both as mutually indebted". To conclude, he says characteristically: "For without devout knowledge of divine things neither is virginity modest nor marriage worthy".
And the holy Chrysostom teaches many things about this subject. He says: "For our married people have everything in common with the monks except marriage". All people should adapt themselves to Christ's commandments. Therefore the holy Father says characteristically: "If we are temperate neither marriage nor nourishment nor anything else will prevent us from being able to be well-pleasing to God". If marriage and raising children was going to hinder us on the path of virtue, the creator of all things would not have brought marriage into our life".
What Basil the Great says is also characteristic: "We people, monks and married, are all required to obey the Gospel."
Therefore we cannot justify our indolence by the particular way of life which we have chosen, nor can we criticise and dismiss another way of life which is not like our own. To be sure, there are degrees and spiritual ages.
By Elder Paisios the Athonite
The Pedalion [Rudder or Book of Canons] is called the Rudder, because it guides man towards salvation - sometimes in one way and other times in another way; as a captain of the ship turns the rudder to the left or to the right, in order to bring the ship to shore. If he were to navigate the ship in a straight line, without turning when needed, he would bring it upon rocks, sink it and everyone on board would drown. If the Spiritual Father uses Canons of the Church as if they were loose military cannons - and not with discernment, in accordance with each person's needs and the repentance demonstrated - then instead of healing souls, he'll be committing a crime.
Monday, September 5, 2011
This is the weakness of this generation: Christ is not in command. The whim of the individual is the absolute authority. How fragile our bonds of union must be when they are held together by arbitrariness and whim. Nothing but individual fancy is accepted as supreme. Reason itself has fallen by the wayside, not that it has been killed, it has merely died of atrophy! We have in modern times "no-fault" divorces, which means that no reason is needed to divide a family any more, only the caprice of our partner.
Is it not amazing, this culture we live in, with its "no-fault" divorces and "no-fault" automobile insurance, suggesting a do-as-you-please lifestyle that never requires an explanation? What shall we make of the petition in every Orthodox prayer service that implores from God "A good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ"? Term is obsolete, a vestige of another day when people feared for their place in heaven, assuming that the Sacred Scriptures are to be taken literally when they speak of heaven, hell, and a final judgment based on our deeds and misdeeds here on earth. What defense shall we give when called upon to account for our lives? Perhaps we ought to shop around for a faith that condones everything a person does, where worship is not so much praise to the Lord as a form of testimonial to good people who come together once a week to celebrate their goodness.
Maybe we might plead innocent by reason of insanity, basing our case on the evidence that the last decades of the twentieth century were dominated by the conviction that this generation believed itself exempt from the rules of right and wrong that had been the governing dynamic of every preceding generation. We might say that we were a people above laws and discipline, taught even in our schools that we can do as we please as long as we are "sincere" and "true to ourselves". Will that hold, I wonder, in the ultimate Supreme Court?
Not likely. From the evidence of the Gospels we must believe instead that on that day Christ Jesus, with all due tenderness and compassion, will listen carefully to such arguments, and then declare: "You know better than that. Surely you understand at the center of your heart that my love is more than merely self-love. My command was not to love yourself, but to 'love one another'. That you failed in your sufficient time on earth. Punish you? No, I have no intention of inflicting any punishment upon you ... It is enough punishment to leave you to the self you love so much. Go now. Love yourself for all eternity. That is the punishment and the 'reward' you have earned."
From The Gift of Love, pp. 177-178.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
There is no more difficult task than to explain spiritual things to men who think and judge only sensually. St. John Chrysostom says: "A soul which is given over to passions cannot achieve anything great and noble, for it suffers from a grievous blindness, like that of eyes darkened by the flow of pus." Usually the most sensual men inquire about the greatest divine mysteries. They do not inquire about that in order to know how they can be saved, but rather to confuse the faithful and to ridicule the Faith, and to justify their own sinful and passionate life. Unable to raise themselves to the first rung of the heavenly ladder, they fantasize about the last rung. Brethren, when such as these inquire about the profoundest mysteries of the regeneration of the soul and the Kingdom of Heaven, ask them, first of all, to fulfill the ten basic commandments of God. If they do this, then their souls will be opened to the understanding of the Divine Mysteries, inasmuch as that understanding is necessary for the cleansing of their sins and passions, and for eternal salvation.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
1. A Sign of the End Times
One day Elder Cleopas met a holy ascetic in the forest and asked him:
"Tell me, Father, when will the end of the world come?"
And the righteous hesychast told him:
"You know when the end of the world will come? When a road will not exist from one neighborhood to another."
That is to say, when love will not exist from one person to another.
2. Do Not Fear the Coming of Antichrist
A few years ago when people were disturbed that the Antichrist is coming, with wars and similar things, Fr. Cleopas would tell them in a loud voice:
"The Father is at the wheel! Take and read verses 10 and 11 of Psalm 32:
'The Lord scatters abroad the counsels of the nations, and He sets aside the reasoning of the peoples; and He rejects the counsels of rulers. The counsel of the Lord abides forever, the thoughts of His heart from generation to generation.'"
He would also encourage them saying:
"Be not disturbed nor afraid, because things will not come to pass as they want. Whatever they want, let them do it. You should not fear. Pray and make the sign of the cross with faith, and the demons shall flee."
3. Learn To Fast
Father Cleopas would say: "Learn to fast, because the time will come when you will eat one potato a week."
4. Spiritual Coldness
A father asked the Elder:
"What will happen, Elder, after your departure to the Lord?"
Elder Cleopa responded:
"There will come stronger cold and hard frost."
Here he of course means spiritual cold, where everyone will be overly involved with earthly things and there will be lack of interest in spiritual things along with a great subservience to the passions.
From The Life and Struggles of Elder Cleopa, Romanian Hesychast and Teacher by Archimandrite Ioanichie Balan. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
By Panagiotis Andriopoulos, theologian
In our earlier article titled "Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Dialogist", we demonstrated the great contribution of Patriarch Bartholomew to the cause of dialogue at all levels: with the sister Orthodox Churches, the Christian confessions, the monotheistic religions in the modern world and every human person. For who has met the Patriarch and did not enjoy real, not formal, contact, which consists in looking into the face of another and having a genuine interest for others. Even if it is a few minutes "off the cuff" meeting.
Dialogue, therefore, describes the Ecumenical Patriarch. And now, there is held in the Phanar a Synaxis of the Primates of the Patriarchates and the Archbishop of Cyprus, which convened at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and some are alarming that it will supposedly strike at the unity of the Orthodox ... from this selected Synaxis of the Primates of the East.
But if anyone considers recent Church history, notably the twenty year Patriarchal reign of Bartholomew, they will immediately realize that never in history has there been so many and so frequent Pan-Orthodox Assemblies. Of these Primates are all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and even representatives of the local Churches at the Pan-Orthodox Conferences, for various topics, and countless opportunities for informal meetings within and outside the Phanar with Primates and representatives of Orthodox Churches. This is because the goal of Patriarch Bartholomew is the unity of the Orthodox, despite the occasional problems that will always exist. Even his hometown, Imvros, and even Cappadocia, were made Inter-Orthodox by the Patriarch, inviting with him Primates and representatives of Churches.
Even in Soumela in Pontus last year and this year, he sent a public invitation to the Moscow Patriarch Kiril to concelebrate Liturgy side by side in mid-August in the historic monastery.
And now, some - maybe not that many - come to challenge the Synaxis of the Primates of the Patriarchates and the Archbishop of Cyprus, convened for a specific reason (the fate of the Christian peoples of the Middle East amid the turmoil in countries of the Arab world), and accuse the Ecumenical Patriarch of intentions that are totally unrealistic.
Someone put on the table once again the logic of numbers: the Primates represent only a small sheepfold compared to all the Orthodox. This ridiculous "argument" does not need to be refuted by anyone. Just think of the Archshepherd Christ, Who immediately ran for the one sheep, even though He had 99 with Him. And even so, those who make up these Churches no matter how few they are, they are the first priority of a responsible leader.
In short: Once again, the Ecumenical Patriarch heeds the messages and the developments of the times and acts accordingly. Any who are unhappy - though publicly no Orthodox Church took a stand against the Synaxis - let them stay with their self-pity and opportunism. Patriarch Bartholomew thankfully looks forward. Until the various primates return from this event, he would have made the next leap ... greater than the damage.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
We often make a watertight distinction between apophatic (negative) and cataphatic (positive) theology. We insist that apophatic theology is more perfect, while cataphatic is imperfect. Still the worst is when we see apophatic theology only in the existence of a few terms and expressions.
True, in the patristic teachings we encounter such a division. The expression of St. John the Damascene is characteristic: "The Divinity, then, is limitless and incomprehensible, and His limitlessness and incomprehensibility is all that can be understood about Him. All that we state affirmatively about God does not show His nature, but only what relates to His nature". But then again St. John the Damascene says: "Moreover, there are things that are stated affirmatively of God, but which have the force of extreme negation".
There is an interpenetration between apophatic and cataphatic theology. Theology is one, and it is experience, revelation. The saints attained deification and saw God. They saw that God is Light, they saw God's energy. Thus God is participated in with regard to His energy, but He is altogether unshared by man with regard to His essence. But when the saints wish to express this experience, they use negative figures. They say, for instance, that God is Light, but at the same time add "because of His surpassing brightness" in relation to the created light of knowledge it is also "darkness". Moreover, even the so-called affirmative expressions, such as that God is love, in reality are impossible for human reason to understand in the terms of human thought and employing representations.
We can say that the knowledge of God is experience. The way to knowledge of God is apophatic, which means that we concentrate our nous in our heart, following, according to St. Dionysios the Areopagite, the uniform concentration of the nous. The experience of God, of God's energy, is positive. But the expression of this experience is formulated also by negative expressions("invisible", "incomprehensible", "indescribable" etc. ), because of man's inability to express this experience.
The essence of Buddhist teaching is “to love without limit”, where the law of deeds (“karma”) is emphasized, in which all our deeds in this life will bear fruit in our next reincarnation. The love is not limited to only humans either, but in loving plants and animals too, since they could have formerly been human. When you die with a good karma you will be born in the next body in a high state of being. When you die with bad karma, you will be born either in a lower status of life in society, or even as an animal or in the demonic realm.
As I was about to start high school my cousin, Fr Alexios, came to my village and told me to go with him to Solo and to go to school there. He had been a Buddhist before becoming an Orthodox priest. I agreed. I felt that it was okay to be exposed to Christianity only for three years, because it would help to widen my horizon. I had always attended Church worship and gatherings, but I always sat at the back row since I felt guilty about being a Buddhist but praying as a Christian.
Finally, out of my confusion, I left Fr. Alexios’s house and returned back home for two weeks without even a leave of absence from school. During these two weeks, I lost all direction in my life and felt confused. I began to act in a mindless way. I started to do things that I have never done before to the surprise and embarrassment of my father since he is considered a pillar in society.
One day I felt as though someone whispered to me and commanded me to go back to Fr. Alexios in Solo, so I went back. After some days in Solo, I began to learn about Orthodoxy again. I felt the urge to be baptized, and Fr. Alexios agreed. I was surprised that even though I did not go to school for two weeks I was not even reprimanded or punished by the school, as would be expected. After I was baptized with the baptismal name of “Johanes” (John), I have been helping the ministry of Fr. Alexios. In the year 2006, I was elevated by Metropolitan Hilarion to “Reader.”
What I found liberating in Christianity is that Christ had defeated the power of death through His resurrection so that there are no more endless cycles of birth and death in reincarnation, and it is no longer the law of karma that has power over you, but the power of grace though Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil. The Buddhists are so frightened by karma, because they are frightened by the prospect of reincarnation into a lower realm, but there is no fear of God, since God does not exist. But in order to achieve good karma there are so many difficult regulations and requirements to be achieved; it is as if there was no grace of God.
Having understood the beauty of the teaching of Orthodoxy, I now have a very strong desire to serve Christ, either as a priest or as a layperson. I am preparing myself to go to seminary either in Russia or in the United States in order to realize this dream. I have been spending time with Fr. Daniel during his last visit, driving him across Java and up to Bali. Please pray for me. Thank you.
Friday, September 2, 2011
By Fr. George Florovsky
Chrysostom frequently spoke about poverty and wealth, themes which were set for him by life in the large, noisy city. For him, these and all other social themes had primarily a moral significance, and he dealt with them in relation to the rules of Christian behavior. He judged the life around him on the basis of its morality. Everywhere he saw injustice, cruelty, suffering, and misery, and he understood that this was caused by the spirit of greed and by social inequality. He warned against idle luxury and also against wealth as a source of temptation, since money threatens to corrupt the man who possesses it. Wealth by itself has no value but is only a theatrical mask which covers the true image of man. However, the wealthy man comes to value his riches. He begins to deceive himself and he becomes attached to something which is good in appearance only. In Chrysostom's opinion there is danger not only in wealth which has been acquired by dishonest means but in all forms of personal property. These are not harmful in themselves but they may stimulate the will to desire things which are perishable and transient. "The love for wealth is an unnatural passion," Chrysostom writes. "The desire for wealth is neither natural nor necessary. It is superfluous." This movement of the will is dangerous and riches are a dangerous burden. "Wealth is harmful for you not because it arms thieves against you, nor because it completely darkens your mind but because it makes you the captives of soulless possessions and distracts you from the service of God."
The possession of wealth involves an unavoidable contradiction. By the spirit of greed men are attached to material things, but God teaches us to despise things and to renounce them. "There is harm not only in trying to gain wealth but also in excessive concern with even the most necessary things," Chrysostom writes. "Christ has demonstrated what kind of harm can come from the passion for money but His commandment goes even beyond this. Not only does He order us to scorn wealth, but he forbids us to be concerned that the food we eat is the best we can possibly get: 'Do not worry your soul about what you eat'." This does not exhaust the subject. "It is not enough to despise wealth," Chrysostom writes, "but you must also feed the poor and, more importantly, you must follow Christ." Thus another contradiction is revealed: the worldly drive of greed and the desire for the accumulation and preservation of material goods is opposed to the command of the Gospels to "give all you have to the poor." Against this background we see with greater clarity the injustice of the social inequality in the world. In the face of poverty and misery, all wealth is an unjust and dead thing. It testifies to hard-heartedness and the absence of love.
It is from this point of view that Chrysostom disapproves of the magnificent decoration of churches. "A church is not a place in which to melt gold or forge silver," he writes. "It is a triumphant assembly of the angels. Therefore it is souls which we demand as an offering because it is for the sake of souls that God accepts our other offerings. It was not at a silver table and it was not from a golden vessel that Christ offered His blood to His disciples to drink but nevertheless everything there was precious and called forth reverence, for it was filled with the Spirit. Do you want to honor the body of Christ? Do not scorn to see Christ naked. What good does it do you if here you honor His silken coverlings while outside the Church you continue to tolerate the coldness and nakedness of others? What good does it do you if the altar of Christ is covered with golden vessels, while Christ Himself suffers hunger? You make a golden goblet but you offer no cooling water to go with ft. Christ as a homeless pilgrim wanders and asks for shelter, but you, instead of accepting Him, adorn your floors, your walls, and the tops of your pillars, and you put silver harnesses on your horses. But Christ remains bound in the dungeon and you do not even want to look at Him."
It seemed to Chrysostom that each thing that one man puts aside is taken away from someone else who needs it, for there cannot be a man who is rich without another man being poor because of it. "The source and root of wealth must definitely be hidden in some act of injustice," he writes. Chrysostom did not consider that poverty as such was a virtue. Poverty attracted his attention as a form of need and suffering, and he considered that Christ is present among the poor, since He comes to us in the image of a beggar and not in the guise of a wealthy man. Furthermore, when poverty is voluntarily chosen for the sake of God and accepted with joy, it can be a path to virtue. This is primarily because a man without possessions is freer than a wealthy man and has fewer attachments and worries. It is easier for him to live and to strive to perfect himself.
Chrysostom knew also that poverty could be a heavy burden not only in terms of external and material things, but internally, as a source of envy, spite, and despair. For this reason he tried to fight against poverty, but his attention was always occupied with its moral implications. In this respect he functioned as a spiritual pastor, not as a social reformer. Although it is true that he did have an ideal vision of society, this ideal was primarily moral. It was the ideal of equality because inequality makes true love impossible.
The basic premise of Chrysostom's thought is that strictly speaking there can be no such thing as "personal property" because everything belongs to God and to Him only. All things are given by Him as a gift in the form of a loan. Everything is God's, and all that man can claim as truly his own are his good works. Everything God gives is intended for common ownership. "If the good things we enjoy belong to the Master of all of us, then they all belong equally to our fellow slaves. That which belongs to the Master belongs to everyone in common. Do we not see a similar arrangement in great houses?"
"The possessions of the Emperor, the city, the squares, and the streets, belong to all men, and we all use them in an equal degree. Look at the economy that God has arranged. He has created some things that are for everyone, including the air, sun, water, earth, heaven, sea, light, and stars, and He has divided them equally among all men, as if they were brothers. This, if nothing else, should shame the human race. The Emperor has made other things common to all, including the baths, cities, squares, and streets. There is not the slightest disagreement over this common property but everything is accomplished peacefully. If someone tries to take something and claim it as his own personal possession, then quarrels arise. It is as if the very forces of natures were complaining, and as if at that time when God was gathering them from everywhere they were trying with all their might to separate among themselves, to isolate them selves from each other, and to distinguish their own individual property by coldly saying that 'this is yours but that is mine'. If this were true, quarrels and bitterness would arise, but where there is nothing of this sort neither quarrels nor disagreements occur. In this way we see that for us as well a common and not an individual ownership of things has been ordained, and that this is according to nature itself. Is not the reason that no one ever goes to court about the ownership of a public square the fact that this square belongs to all?"
It seems to Chrysostom that in this respect even the animals are better than men. "They hold everything in common, the earth, and springs, and pastures, and mountains, and forests, and not one of them has more than the others. But you, O man, the most gentle of animals, have become more fierce than the beasts. In a single one of your houses you store up enough to feed thousands and even many thousands of the poor. How can this be, when we have one common nature, and much else in common besides this? We share a common heaven, sun, moon, choir of stars, air, sea, fire, water, earth, life, death, youth, old age, sickness, health, and the need for food and clothing. Our spiritual goods are also common to all: our holy altar, the body of our Lord, His sacred blood, the promised Kingdom, the bath of renewal, the purification of sins, truth, sanctity, redemption, and ineffable bliss. Is it therefore not madness for those who share so much in common, their nature, grace, covenant, and laws, to have such a passion for wealth that it causes them to forget their equality and to exceed the savageness of beasts? This is all the worse since they must of necessity soon leave these things behind them."
Chrysostom sees the source of inequality in man's free will and desire for personal property. Free will determines how an individual will manage the gifts he had been given, and Chrysostom considers that this is the heart of the problem. He does not recommend poverty for all men and, although he denounces superfluous luxury, it is primarily inequality to which he is opposed. Chrysostom demands equality and justice. Material goods are given by God and for this reason there can be no cause to abominate them. However, they must not be used to the personal advantage of one man in such a way that another man suffers for lack of them. Chrysostom believes that the problem can be solved by love because "love seeks nothing for itself." It seems to him that this solution was realized by the earliest members of the Church in the manner described in the Acts of the Apostles. "They renounced property and rejoiced greatly because in this way they gained blessings that were even greater. The cold words 'mine and yours' did not exist, and there was joy at the altar . . . The expression 'mine and yours', which is so harsh and has caused so many wars in the world, was driven out of that holy Church, and men on earth lived like angels in heaven. The poor did not envy the rich, for there were no rich, and the rich did not despise the poor, for there were no poor. At that time things were not the way they are now. Now those who have property give to the poor, but at that time it was not so . . . All of them were equal and all wealth was shared among them." This example has been frequently cited by the supporters of communal monasticism who absolutely reject the right to personal property.
Chrysostom wanted to realize the example provided by monastic communities in the world, having in mind a comparatively small society in Antioch or Constantinople. In his homilies he tried to demonstrate how the voluntary renunciation of property and its equal distribution could provide for the needs of all. This is the way in which the property of the Church was organized at that time. It was held in common and was distributed by the bishop. Part of it was devoted to upkeep of churches and to the support of the clergy, but most of it was the "property of the poor." Chrysostom emphasized that such a socialization of property could be truly effective only if it was voluntary and if it was the expression of true self-renunciation and love.
All of this would presuppose a high degree of moral development and perfection. It would be the ultimate and ideal expression of Christian charity. However, Chrysostom was content to limit his demands to generous almsgiving and works of charity. His conception of charity was very broad, extending from material contributions to consolation and comfort. "Is it not also an act of great charity when a soul, which is overwhelmed by grief, threatened by extreme danger, and held in thrall by the flames (of passion), is freed by someone from this affliction?"
Source: The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Isaiah 61:1-11 (from the New King James Version - NKJV), which Jesus said He fulfilled by His incarnation in Luke 4:16-30.
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But you shall be named the priests of the LORD,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
8 For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Evagrius Scholasticus, in his Ecclesiastical History (I.13), wrote the following concernng St. Symeon the Stylite:
In these times [about 440 A.D.] there flourished and became illustrious, Symeon, of holy and famous memory, who originated the contrivance of stationing himself on the top of a column, thereby occupying a space of scarcely two cubits in circumference. This man, endeavoring to realize in the flesh the existence of the heavenly hosts, lifts himself above the concerns of earth, and overpowering the downward tendency of man's nature, is intent on things above. He was adored by all the countryside, wrought many miracles, and the Emperor Theodosius II listened to his advice and sought his benediction.
Symeon prolonged his endurance of this mode of life through fifty-six years; nine of which he spent in the first monastery where he was instructed in divine knowledge, and forty-seven in the "Mandra" as it was called; namely, ten in a certain nook; on shorter columns, seven; and thirty upon one of forty cubits. After his departure [from this life] his holy body was conveyed to Antioch, escorted by the garrison, and a great concourse guarding the venerable body, lest the inhabitants of the neighboring cities should gather and carry it off. In this manner it was conveyed to Antioch, and attended, during its progress, with extraordinary prodigies.
The body has been preserved nearly entire until my time [about 580 A.D.]; and in company with many priests, I enjoyed a sight of his sacred head, in the episcopate of the famous Gregory, when Philippicus had requested that precious relic of the saints might be sent him for the protection of the Eastern armies. The head was well preserved save for the teeth some of which had been violently removed by the hands of the pious [for relics].
According to another writer, Theodoret, in Symeon's lifetime, he was visited by pilgrims from near and far: Persia, Ethiopia, Spain, and even Britain. To these at times he delivered sermons. He wore on his body a heavy iron chain. In praying, "he bent his body so that his forehead almost touched his feet." A spectator once counted 1244 repetitions of this movement, and then gave up reckoning. Symeon took only one scanty meal per week, and fasted through the season of Lent. It is alleged that the devil having afflicted him with an ulcer in his thigh as reward for a little self-righteousness, Symeon, as penance, never touched the afflicted leg upon the pillar again, and stood for the remaining year of his life upon one leg.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
By Archimandrite Cherubim (Karambelas)
The Panagia is especially honored in Vatopaidi. Its katholikon is dedicated to the Annunciation, while its wonderworking icons (Vimatarissa, Esphagmeni, Antiphonitria, Paramithia, etc.) are laden with wonderful histories. The wonderworking Zoni (Belt or Sash) of the Theotokos is also kept there, which in former times was in Constantinople, "in her venerable house which is in Chalkoprateia," in Blachernae.
[Elder Daniel Katounakiotis] had hardly arrived [at the Monastery of Vatopaidi] before he suffered an acute attack of nephritis. His "thorn in the flesh" pricked him very grievously this time, and he was immobile in his bed for weeks.
The fathers of the Monastery nursed him with great love. Even greater love was shown him, however, by the great physician of the Holy Mountain, the Theotokos.
Fr. Daniel was especially devoted to the Lady Theotokos, with the same devotion, confidence and reverence that all the saints have nourished towards her. Therefore he implored her to visit him in his suffering, entreating her with tears and warmth of heart. He was sure of her answer, for he knew her promises. Was it possible for her not to fulfill them? And truly, on August 31, the day that the Monastery celebrated the feast of her Holy Zoni, the sick man was suddenly healed. The cure was complete; never again was he troubled by his terrible illness, which had tormented him for ten years. What worthy words could he find with which to thank and praise the All-Pure Mother of monks?
"Thou art the joy of those in sorrow, the deliverance of the weak, O Theotokos Virgin; save thy city and thy people, thou peace of the embattled and calm of the suffering, thou only Protectress of the faithful."
From Contemporary Ascetics of Mount Athos (vol. 1), pp. 237-239.
Read also: The Holy Belt (Zoni) of the Theotokos
Monday, August 29, 2011
By Hieromonk Maximos of Kavsokalyvia
In the days of Paisios, the hieromonk of Mytilene, there occurred in the Kalyva of St. John the Theologian the miracle of the entire splitting of the wine cup, to show the fathers present that before Christ both John the Forerunner and John the Theologian have the same boldness before God. The cup has been placed in a silver casing with metalic artistic decoration. The two pieces are of the same weight.
Alexandros Moraitides, in his short story With the Waves of the North, tells us:
Paisios returned to Kavsokalyvia to his old Kalyva, after receiving his regular ration from the Monastery of Xenophontos throughout his life.
During the feast of John the Theologian, where hospitality was given in the trapeza according to custom, and as the pilgrims gathered modestly to the glory of the Beloved Disciple, there was raised a long and curious debate among the elders: Who is the greateast, the Honorable Forerunner who baptized Jesus, or John the Theologian who leaned on His chest? Many reasons were exchanged during this pious rivalry and a solution was not reached. Suddenly a beautiful cup, full of wine in the middle of the table, broke in two pieces.
This event was considered very important. Hieromonk Paisios was then inspired to weigh the two pieces, and they were the exact same weight.
The Elders then rose up and praised God, Who through this sign gave the right solution to the discussion, showing that like the Holy Trinity is equal in honor, so the two saints should have the same honor, the Honorable Forerunner and the Beloved John the Theologian.
Source: Ascetical Personalities and Guidance From Athos. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
August 29, 2011
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has issued a decree pardoning 201 prisoners due to the Dormition of Virgin Mary, which Orthodox believers marked on Sunday.
A total of 171 of these prisoners walked free on Sunday and thirty had their prison time halved, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, Georgian minister for the enforcement of punishments, probation, and legal assistance, told a briefing.
Among the pardoned prisoners are ten women, three minors, and two foreigners.
Every year on August 29th thousands of faithful from all over Crete gather to celebrate the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner around a small chapel dedicated to this feast in Giona in the region of Rodopou Kissamos of Hania.
The feast begins the evening before, on August 28th, and goes on throughout the night and well into the next day. It is a tradition which actually goes back to pre-Christian times, when a Temple to Artemis stood here, but was later replaced with this shrine to St. John in Byzantine times. Over time this has become one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in all Crete.
In the olden days before there were roads, pilgrims would come by foot or with their animals, and today many people still come here by foot from Rodopou.
One of the unique characteristics of this shrine during this feast is the baptism of many children, roughly between 80-100 of them. Because the chapel is small, a baptismal font was established in the courtyard of the church to accommodate all these baptisms. It takes about 6-12 priests to baptize the children, usually in groups of 6 or 12.
An all-night vigil takes place for the feast, and the Divine Liturgy usually occurs around 2:00AM. Following the services there is also a traditional feast with Cretan music. Visitors can enjoy the traditional dishes in the outdoor taverns.
On August 29th the football club of Rodopou closes the two-day celebration with the organization of a fair in the village square. The good wine, plenty of dishes and Cretan Music from well-known artists call every visitor to enjoy themselves until the early morning hours.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saint Job of Pochaev was born about 1551 in southwest Galicia of a pious Orthodox family. In his tenth year the Saint departed for the Urgornitsky Monastery of our Saviour in the Carpathian Mountains. Tonsured after two years, he was ordained Hieromonk about 1580. Renowned for his meekness and humility, Job was invited by the great zealot for Holy Orthodoxy in Carpatho- Russia, Prince Constantine Ostroshky, to be Abbot of the Monastery of the Cross in Dubno. In his zeal for the preservation and propagation of the Orthodox Faith, and to counteract the propaganda of the Uniates, he printed and widely disseminated Orthodox spiritual and liturgical books. About 1600 he removed to the Mountain of Pochaev where at the insistance of the brethern, he became Abbot of the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, which he enlarged and made to flourish. Through his labours, a large printing works was founded at Pochaev and greatly assisted in the nurture of the Orthodox faithful in that region. His monastery became the center of the Orthodox Church in western Ukraine. The Saint reposed, having taken the schema with the name of John, in 1651, at the advanced age of one hundred.
Saint Job of Pochaev died on October 28, 1651, and his relics were transferred to the church of the Holy Trinity on August 28, 1659. A second uncovering of the relics took place on August 28, 1833. In the year 1902, the Holy Synod decreed that on this day, August 28, the holy relics of St. Job be carried around the Dormition Cathedral of the Pochaev Lavra after the Divine Liturgy.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Having acquired the patience of the long-suffering forefather, having resembled the Baptist in abstinence, and sharing the divine zeal of both, thou wast granted to receive their names, and wast a fearless preacher of the true Faith. In this way thou didst bring a multitude of monastics to Christ, and thou didst strengthen all the people in Orthodoxy, O Job, our holy Father. Pray that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou wast a pillar of the true Faith, a zealot of the commandments of the Gospel, a convicter of pride, an intercessor and teacher of the humble. Wherefore, ask that the forgiveness of sins be granted unto them that bless thee; and do thou keep thy community unharmed, O Job our Father, who dost resemble the much-suffering Patriarch.
The feast of All Evrytanian Saints was established by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece in 1971 to honor all those elect servants of God associated with this region of Evrytania (Eurytania). It is celebrated on the last Sunday of August.
These Saints are:
1. Saint Andrew the Hermit and Wonderworker (May 15)
2. Saint Michael the Mavroudis (Thursday of Bright Week)
3. Saint Damian the Monk (February 14)
4. Saint Seraphim the New Hieromartyr (December 4)
5. Saint Nicholas the Pantopolis, the New Martyr from Karpenisi (September 23)
6. Saint Cyprian the New Righteous-martyr (July 5)
7. Saint Akakios the New, the Kavsokalyvites (April 4)
8. Saint Gerasimos the New, the Karpenisiotis (July 3)
9. Saint Evgenios the Aitolos (August 5)
10. Saint Romanos the New Righteous-martyr (January 5 and February 16)
11. Saint Kosmas the Aitolos (August 24)
12. Saint John the New Martyr and Former Hagarene (September 23)
In one of the birthplaces of Christianity, worshippers continue to practice their religion side-by-side with their Muslim "brothers".
August 27, 2011
Southeast European Times
High above the modern Turkish city of Antakya (Antioch) lays a relic of a former age. The Church of St Peter, now a pilgrimage site with a clear trail marking the way, was once a hidden centre of early Christian worship.
Composed of just a one-room cave about 13 meters wide, this sanctuary was crucial to developments in the history of Near Eastern Christianity, and is old enough to be mentioned in the Bible itself. It is here, according to legend, that followers of the newly emerging religion first called themselves Christians.
Though the church now serves as a heritage site and museum operated by the Turkish state, a hike down the mountain and into the city below leads visitors to a number of churches that have active congregations and daily services.
Official studies of the population of Turkey estimate the number of non-Muslim citizens to be less than .02%. In this corner of the country, however, the religious and ethnic diversity is much higher and, significantly, religious conflict nearly absent.
"There are no problems here," the head priest of the Catholic Church of Antioch, Domineco Bertogli, explains. "We live openly, we worship openly."
Indeed, the Italian priest's church is located next-door to a large mosque, and prominent plaques point the way.
Adalet, a young woman who works in the church with Bertogli, grew up in Antakya and takes pride in the city's level of tolerance and multiculturalism. She points to a poster hanging on a bulletin board that also displays church announcements and service hours.
"Do you see that?" Adalet asks, smiling. "Antakya was chosen as one of UNESCO's cities of peace."
Also on display are pictures of Bertogli shaking hands with President Abdullah Gul and standing next to the Pope. Sent to Turkey initially in 1966, Bertogli spent years working in a church in Izmir before coming to Antakya. Over the course of the 45 years Bertogli has worked here, the priest has assimilated, learning the language fluently and, he says, being happy to serve the church.
The Catholic community of Antakya is not the largest Christian population in the region. Many more Orthodox Christians, whose traditions separated from those of Catholic Rome during centuries of Byzantine rule, live and worship here. The Orthodox Church of Antakya underscores the presence of this community, with its elaborate iron gates and large courtyard open to the public.
Antakya is the largest city in the province of Hatay, and, like many urban areas, has developed as a centre of diversity. Farther away from the city, however, active Christian communities still prosper.
Near the Syrian border in the Altinozu district, two almost exclusively Christian villages remain, Sarilar and Tokacli. Villagers are nearly all Orthodox, with perhaps a handful of Catholic families.
Emin Mizikacioglu, an Orthodox Christian who runs a small market in Sarilar, expresses a mixture of tolerance and pride regarding religious differences.
"We live together like brothers, all of us," he says, then breaking off his sentence to tease the Muslim bus driver about how slowly the vehicle is moving.
A few minutes later, when Sarilar becomes visible over a ridge in the hilly landscape, he softens his voice and says with some excitement, "This is my village. You won't find a single Muslim family here. Not even one."
This dual perspective -- that Muslims and Christians and Jews are all siblings, but that a Christian village is still something to be treasured -- may be part of what enables these varied communities to maintain their own identities while engaging peacefully and productively with other groups.
Bertogli, perhaps drawing on his experiences while working elsewhere in Turkey, emphasises that while Antakya and its environs may truly be cities of peace, they are not necessarily indicative of the situation elsewhere.
"There isn't just one Turkey," he says. "There are many Turkeys."
Saturday, August 27, 2011
August 27, 2011
A tribute to the Divine Liturgy which took place this year at Panagia Soumela in Trebizond is featured in the current issue of the newspaper "Άποψη" ("View").
The issue hosts statements by the president of the Federation of Greek Associations in Russia, Mr. Ivan Savvides.
Among other things, he said:
"We want here the heart of Pontian Hellenism to beat, as it beated at one time. Happy is not the man who has much money, but he who is satisfied with little. I myself have been blessed with a lot of money, but I have come to subsist on little. This means that I have the means with the rest of my money to make it available for the good of our people."
We Are Forgetting History
"The Greek government seems to have forgotten the history of our people as strange as this seems, and shows at this moment to not have the slightest need. But it should be understood that the salvation of the people and the state is in Moscow, not the European Union, not New York, nor Washington. Russia is ready to help Greece, but I don't know how much Greece wants something like this."
More than 600 Phanouropita were blessed at the Great Vespers service in the evening of August 26, 2011 at the Monastery of Saints Adrian and Natalia in Argos in the municipal district of Saint Adrian, as the priest read hundreds of names to pray for the health of friends and family of the offerers. The primary reason people present Phanouropita on the feast of St. Phanourios on August 27th is because of their great love for the Saint, and also to fulfill any vow they may have made after seeking the intercession of this Newly-Revealed Great Martyr.
Little is known of the Great Martyr Phanourios, except that which is depicted concerning his martyrdom on his holy icon, which was discovered in the year 1500 among the ruins of an ancient church on Rhodes, when the Muslims ruled there. Thus he is called "the Newly Revealed." The faithful pray to Saint Phanourius especially to help them recover things that have been lost, and because he has answered their prayers so often, the custom has arisen of baking a Phanouropita ("Phanourios Cake") as a thanks-offering.
As a patron for those who have lost something they are searching for, the source of this custom is etymological (Phanourios means "Revealed"). In other words, "the Revealed reveals!" (Ο Φανούριος φανερώνει!). The fact that his name has such an etymology and the nature of the discovery of the icon of this previously unknown Saint gave rise to the custom of the Phanouropita as a thanks-offering for helping the faithful find things.
The veneration of St. Phanourios originated in Rhodes, where his icon was discovered. From there it spread throughout Greece, especially to Crete where today there are three monasteries and dozens of churches named after him. In places like Cyprus and Crete it is a tradition for the young women to bake a Phanouropita in order for St. Phanourios to help them find a husband. In Skiathos a Phanouropita is baked by a woman who wants a husband revealed for her daughter. In Florina unmarried women receive a piece of Phanouropita after the Divine Liturgy and place it under their pillow, hoping to be revealed in their dreams something about their future husband.
Primarily the Phanouropita is a lenten cake which is a custom that has its source in being a gesture of reverence for the Saint. It is made with seven or nine ingredients. These are considered holy numbers and the choice of these numbers is not by accident.
Read more about St. Phanourios here.
The relocation project of the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Torniki of Grevena was reported in an earlier post titled "800 Year Old Macedonian Monastery To Be Moved". Here is a photo of the Monastery being moved. See more photos and read more here.