Fr. Pavlos is a monk from St. Katherine's Monastery in Sinai. He visited the United States recently and visited many cities and churches and spread the message of our Lord's selfless love. In this video he gives his message at Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Fr. Pavlos is a monk from St. Katherine's Monastery in Sinai. He visited the United States recently and visited many cities and churches and spread the message of our Lord's selfless love. In this video he gives his message at Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Cyprus is known as the "Island of Saints". From apostolic times till our present day we know of 240 Saints from Cyprus. Many many more are unknown to us. There are also many which are only known to the Cypriot people but are not annually commemorated. For this reason, on the first Sunday of October is commemorated all the Saints of the island of Cyprus, both known and unknown. In fact, Archbishop Makarios III counted 369 Saints of Cyprus up until St. Philoumenos who was martyred in 1979.
A list of the 240 Saints of Cyprus can be read at the following blog dedicated to the Saints and Shrines of Cyprus, here.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
By St. John Chrysostom
A certain monk, after much perspiration shed in asceticism while dwelling in the desert with only one fellow-ascetic and living an Angelic life, in his approaching old age, I know not how, but by some Satanic occurrence and slothfulness of soul, allowed a small opening to the Evil One and fell into the desire to have relations with a woman—he who had never seen a woman since devoting himself to the monastic life.
At first, he demanded that his companion give him meat and wine, threatening to go down to the market-place should he not receive them. He said these things, not because he desired to eat meat, but rather because he wished to find some occasion and pretext to go down to the city. Perplexed, his companion satisfied his desire by giving him what he asked, fearing lest a refusal drive him to a greater evil.
When, however, the Elder saw that his ploy had failed, he then openly demonstrated his shamelessness and revealed his sham, saying that he must without fail go down to the city. Since the other could not restrain him, he finally let him go, following him from a distance and observing the reason for which he was going down to the city.
Seeing him going into a house of ill repute and understanding that he had entered into relations with a prostitute, he waited outside. And when the Elder had gratified his improper desire and exited the place, his fellow-ascetic greeted him with open arms, throwing himself on his neck. Having warmly embraced him, without condemning him in any way for what he had done, he only besought him, now that he had fully gratified his desire, to return to his hermitage.
Ashamed by the great clemency of his brother, the Elder was wounded to the heart and, brought to contrition over his reckless act, followed him back to the mountain. When they arrived, he asked his brother to enclose him in a small cell and, when the doors had been shut, to give him bread and water at daily intervals. He also begged him to tell whoever sought him that he had died.
When he had told his companion these things and persuaded him to lock him in, he remained there permanently, with fasting, prayer, and tears cleansing his soul of the stain of his sin.
A short while later, when the neighboring country was being scourged by drought and all of its inhabitants were grieving, someone was exhorted in a dream to go beseech the recluse to pray and bring an end to the drought.
When this man arrived at that place, however, accompanied by others, he found only the recluse’s companion. Upon questioning him, they learned that the recluse had died.
Perceiving that they had been deceived, they began again to pray; and, by the same dream, they heard the same thing as before. And then, encircling the one who had, indeed, misled them, they begged him to reveal the man to him; for they firmly insisted that he had not died, but was alive. Hearing these things, and seeing that the secret had been revealed, he led them to the holy man.
After demolishing the wall—for he had blocked up this entrance as well—and all had entered, they fell at the Elder’s feet; and, recounting the events to him, they begged him to help them in the face of the famine.
He, however, at first resisted, claiming that he had no such boldness before God, since his sin was always in his mind’s eye as vividly as when he had committed it.
When they had told him everything that had come to pass, he was persuaded; and, after he prayed, he brought the drought to an end.
From "To Theodore After His Fall", Patrologia Græca, Vol . XLVII, col s. 304-305.
By Archpriest Valentin Sventsitsky (+1931).
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world, says the Holy Apostle John. When we think about it, these are powerful words indeed. They are not easy for us to digest for we hardly resemble victors over our lives! Look at the state of the Church today! There are many sins on the consciences of pastors; the faith is poorly presented; how to pray or even how to live our lives are poorly taught.
Today more than ever we feel our lack of spiritual education in Church life (Tserkovnost). Today there is an even greater attack by the enemy of our salvation. And how can someone who is unprepared not lose hope, for he has to make spiritual decisions for himself, based on his own conscience.
"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world". These words, in the first instance, pertain to the inner disposition of a person. A person must at the outset conquer the world. He must overcome those secular influences that have penetrated his soul and which he constantly encounters as he pursues the spiritual life. He must overcome within himself those things that are foreign and harmful to his inner spiritual disposition. He has to conquer the secular within.
What can he rely on in this struggle? He cannot rely on his own strength. He cannot rely on his own will since it is inclined to the pleasures of this life. He has to turn to the Church.
The Church is the only place that remains free from the principles of secular society. But it is not only in his inner life that someone should overcome the world. He should be victorious in everything; in all the conditions and circumstances that surround him. He needs to maintain literally every step on his spiritual path which leads to perfection. In this respect the secular world does not provide a single step in this direction. On the contrary, it obstructs him.
Mockery of Christ, disbelief and a thirst for secular power — all these impede the path to salvation. But nevertheless, the believer must overcome the world. He must not concede to the enemy of our salvation. He must have a firm resolve. And furthermore he must accept the consequences, which are unavoidable when one makes the true decision to lead a spiritual life.
Not peace, but a sword. The Lord brought division. Not division between believers but between the world of believers and that of non-believers. And we feel this division, this strife, as we journey along the spiritual path of life. We feel it everywhere. We must, however, unremittingly overcome obstacles and emerge as victors!
If this applies to our personal lives, it equally applies to the life of the Church. Here we have the repository of grace, the very source of a higher existence, which is able to overcome the world.
The victory of the Church over the world is conclusive to the degree that the Church is indeed the Church and never conforms or adapts to secular life. The Church lives according to different laws. It sees other goals before it; it has in its life another source. It contains the source of grace of the life-giving power of God and does not need to adapt to the whims of the world. It proceeds victoriously to a higher goal.
For the Church to be victorious over the world means for it to journey along its own path, neither at any time or any place adapting to this world. This is how we understand the victory which is spoken of by the Apostle John.
In these times each one of us should consciously be immersed in Church life. This should be the measure of what we do and what we are. We should be 'church-minded' and 'church-active'. Only by following such a firm resolve to lead a 'churched' life and hoping in God can we avoid being driven from the true path of the Church in these godless days.
Friday, September 30, 2011
On July 9th, the Armenian Church (Monophysites and Uniates) commemorates one of the three feast days dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator: the discovery of his relics. His principle feast by all Christians is celebrated on September 30th.
St. Gregory is considered to be the “Apostle of Armenia.” After years of evangelizing, St. Gregory sought solitude and an ascetic life. He chose a cave on Mount Sebouh as his dwelling place. It was here that Gregory died alone around 328 AD, some say after seven years of solitude. Shepherds found his body and without realizing who he was buried him under a pile of stones. Later a hermit, Garnik of Basen, who had been a disciple of St. Gregory, saw a vision and went to Mount Sebouh where he found the site of Gregory’s burial. He took the remains to the village of Thortan for burial, where King Drtad was buried. The discovery by Garnik is placed in the reign of Emperor Zeno (474-491), though this is contested by some scholars.
Moses of Khoren writes of the discovery:
"[Saint Gregory's relics] were hidden for many years by divine providence you might say, like Moses of old [cf. Deut. 34:6], lest they become the object of a cult to the halfconverted barbarian nations. But when the faith had become firmly established in these regions, after a long time Saint Gregory's relics were revealed to a certain ascetic called Garnik, who took them and buried them in the village of T'ordan."
A monastery was built near St. Gregory's grave. His relics were afterwards taken to Constantinople, but apparently brought back again to Armenia. Part of these relics are said to have been taken to Naples during the Iconoclast persecution.
The greatest relic of the Armenian Church is the Right Hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator. The relic is housed in a gold artwork depicting the sufferings of the saint. Relics from the right hand of St. Gregory are at the Holy Mother See of Etchmiadzin and the Holy See of Cilicia. It is brought out once every seven years by the Catholicos for the Blessing of the Holy Chrism (Muronorhnek), the anointing oil that Armenian Churches around the world use for the rites of baptism and other consecrations. The Armenian Church remembers the discovery of the relics of St. Gregory on July 9th (the videos below are from this feast).
For more on the right hand of St. Gregory and his relics, read here.
Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan is the symbol of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as a State Religion in Armenia and house for relics of Saint Gregory the Illuminator (Surp Grigor). The Holy Remains of St. Gregory were brought from Naples, Italy. Shortly after the consecration of the Cathedral Pope John Paul II paid a visit to the Cathedral. The Skull of St. Gregory remains in Naples.
For more on this Cathedral, read here.
For a bibliography on the relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator, see footnote here.
September 29, 2011
Increased tension between Islam and Christianity has resulted in the emigration of 100,000 Christians from Egypt since March 2011, which commentators are saying will detrimentally affect Egypt’s demographic diversity and economic stability.
The report documenting the emigration, compiled by the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations, contends that the main vein of conflict is between the Egyptian’s Muslim sect, the Salafists, and Egypt’s Christian sect, the Copts.
Christians are also fleeing other areas of the Middle East, including Iraq and Palestine. Lebanon’s Christian population has fallen from 75 percent to 32 percent.
Critics argue that such immense emigration is in large due to the Arab Spring uprisings beginning in December 2010. These protests gave the predominately Islamic nations a confidence boost.
Islam and Christianity have always had a frictional relationship. Politicos contend that because the Islamic world achieved so much political sway in the uprising, they now have more confidence to drive out a religion that they consider a foreign invader in a predominately Muslim land.
Also, many Salafists who were active in the uprising are now holding powerful political office.
According to director of the EUHRO, Naguib Gabriel, the Copts are not leaving voluntarily, but are rather being forced out by Salafist aggressive tactics.
In the report sent to the Egyptian Cabinet and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the EUHRO contended that, “Copts constitute a strong pillar in the economy. Copts who are leaving their homeland are not prompted by their need for work, as they are from the professional and business class, but from fear of the hard line Salafists."
Another force driving Christians out of these Middle Eastern countries is fear instilled by the Salafistas. According to the EUHRO press release, there have been multiple attacks since the January Spring which have contributed greatly to the emigration.
Recent attacks include the killing of nine Christians in the Mokatam Hills in early September, a Coptic church bombing in Alexandria on New Year’s Day, and cutting off the ear of an older Copt in Qena.
Copts have spoken out against the unfair, violent treatment. In May, Copts gathered in Martin Place, shouting “enough is enough,” to rebel the violence.
Many Copts attribute the removal of President Hosni Mubarak as the reason Christian intolerance has escalated.
The predominant area of new settlement is the United States, where the majority of Americans are Christian and the president himself is a Christian. California alone has seen 160,000 Copts settle there since March.
September 30, 2011
Serbia on Friday banned a gay pride parade planned to take place in central Belgrade on Sunday, saying that security in the capital had been jeopardized, state television station RTS reported.
The decision was made by the national security agency in an emergency meeting, amid concerns that extremist groups could spread violence across broad swaths of the capital.
TV B92 quoted security sources as saying that extremist groups had planned to attack foreign businesses and diplomatic offices.
It would have been the second such parade to take place in Belgrade. In 2010 the parade was marred by violence, while in 2009 it was scrapped amid an oppressive atmosphere similar to the present.
The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) had earlier on Friday called on authorities to ban the parade, branding it a "shame parade" and linking it to violence in Kosovo.
"Our city and our public have been shaken by the question over ... the so-called 'pride parade'," SPC Patriarch Irinej said. "With full justification I call this plague a 'shame parade' that smears human dignity and tramples the shrines of life and family."
"The planned parade in Belgrade, it is our impression, aims to overshadow and hide the plight of the Serbian people in Kosovo," Irinej continued in a statement published on the SPC website.
The organizers of the parade had come under pressure after threats of violence from extremist groups as well as a lack of support from authorities.
Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic on Friday said earlier Friday that police would ban the parade if the organizers themselves did not abandon it.
He and Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas had urged the organizers to cancel the parade because of the likely violence.
Before the ban was announced on Friday one of the parade's organizers, Goran Miletic, said the calls from officials to cancel the event shocked him because they were giving equal credibility to the attackers and their target.
A year ago, thousands of extremists clashed for hours with police securing the gays and their supporters. This year, extremist organizations had scheduled anti-gay rallies throughout the weekend, raising tensions and the prospect of violence.
According to local newspapers, police had planned to deploy more than 5,000 uniformed and plainclothes officers and riot police on Sunday.
"Whom will police shield and protect?" the SPC patriarch asked. "A minority group ... that wants to impose its fundamentally unnatural view upon the massive majority."
At the same time he urged those planning to "oppose the parade" to do so without violence. "You cannot defeat evil with evil, but with good," he said.
Politicians from President Boris Tadic's pro-European camp have been reluctant to support gay rights -- not a vote winner in traditionalist Serbia -- particularly since the European Union told Belgrade to stop meddling in Kosovo and Serbs clashed with NATO this week in their enclave in the former province.
Politicians have toned down their pro-European rhetoric as their hope for the recognition of Serbia as a EU membership candidate and the date for the start of accession talks continued to fade.
At the same, time, nationalist and conservative rhetoric, including anti-gay rhetoric has been on the rise.
The government itself "never considered this question, nor the question of those who want to protest," Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said Thursday, referring to the parade and the protests against it.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Father Adrian Fageteanu (known as Alexander in the world) was born on 16 November 1912 in the community of Deleni in Czernowitz. His father Michael was a priest. Alexander however followed another path. When he finished high school in 1931 he enrolled at the University of Czernowitz where he graduated with success, being actively involved in the political and social turmoils of the day. Upon completion of his studies he worked at the Interior Ministry until 1941, and for two years was director of national insurance. He was criticized by dictator Antonescu for "suspected rebellious activity" and was imprisoned. In June of 1941 Antonescu freed political prisoners on condition that they would fight in the front lines of the army. Alexander chose to fight and was seriously injured in Stalingrad. Having nearly escaped death, he returned to the path of faith and after his release he enrolled in the Theological School of Czernowitz and was tonsured a monk at Putna Monastery. From the summer of 1945 until the summer of 1946 he was imprisoned for his activities as a former officer of Interior Ministry.
In 1947 Fr. Adrian was in Bucharest where he attended the famous meeting of "The Burning Bush" (a spiritual movement which involved the elite of the theological intelligentsia, most of whom were hideously tortured and died in communist prisons). There he met the later martyr Sandu Tudor (later known as Fr. Daniil) who had a major influence on him. From 1952 to 1964 he passed through the harshest communist prisons.
After his release Fr. Adrian was received in Lainici Monastery by the great spiritual father Kalinik Karavan, though for years he was a monk at Antim Monastery in Bucharest. In 2003, at 91 years of age, he decided to live as an ascetic at Locurele Skete near Lainici Monastery, where he lived until 2011.
Elder Adrian Fageteanu reposed on September 27th of 2011 in a hospital in Bucharest. On November 16th he would have been 99 years old.
Read also: π.Αντριάν Φαγκατσεάνου-Ο γέροντας με τις επτά ζωές!
On Tuesday, 14/27 September 2011, a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy took place for the feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Honorable Cross, on the exact spot where the Honorable Cross was discovered by St. Helen in 326 AD, near the Church of the Resurrection and the Holy Sepulchre.
Thomas Young was one of those rare individuals with such awesome intellectual powers it makes one marvel at the potential in one human brain. And if one thinks intelligence leads to skepticism, Young would disagree. He maintained his childlike faith and moral uprightness throughout his all-to-brief life of 56 years. A good short biography of Thomas Young was written by Dan Graves in Scientists of Faith (Kregel, 1996).
Ready to marvel at Young’s mind? At age two he could read, and by age four he had read through the Bible twice. While a teen, he could read Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Persian, Syriac, and Chaldean. At 14 he was tutoring others on the classics. By age twenty he had also learned French, German, Spanish, Arabic and Italian.
While a teen he also taught himself calculus, studied the sciences, learned how to construct his own optical devices, and learned medicine. He also studied art and learned to play the flute. He was not a complete nerd, either; he could also ride horses, sing, and dance. Once he walked over 170 miles to see an art exhibition.
Young is remembered for a number of major discoveries and accomplishments as an adult scientist. He is considered the founder of physiological optics—the practice of relating optics to the biology of the eye. He postulated that astigmatism was due to defects in the cornea, for instance, and predicted that the retina responds to color with three types of sensors. He was the first to do a double-slit experiment in optics, demonstrating that light had the properties of a wave: the two beams interfere like waves, he found, producing a diffraction pattern on a screen.
In addition, Young began use of the term energy in a published work in 1807 in which he developed a physical concept of energy. He also developed a mathematical constant describing elastic energy, still known as Young’s Modulus (though it owes a debt to work by Leonhard Euler 80 years earlier). Basically, it allows engineers to calculate the strain on a material when a known stress is applied (or vice versa), independent of the geometry of the material. This revolutionized engineering strategies, according to Wikipedia.
Young's literary skills were brought to bear in an important task: the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone which had been discovered in 1799. He was the first to translate the complete text – adding Egyptian hieroglyphics to his phenomenal grasp of languages. In addition, he studied the tides, revised a nautical almanac, classified diseases, devised a way to estimate doses of medicine for children, studied the heart and arteries, developed a way to tune instruments, produced actuarial tables for insurance, and wrote over 60 articles for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Thomas Young was a true polymath – an expert at just about everything.
Graves describes Young as joyful, truthful, morally upright, happily married and focused. He attributed his success to the religious tenets he was taught as a child. Raised a Quaker, he later joined the Church of England, but remained somewhat private about his faith. Graves sums up his life by saying, “Thomas Young’s joyful pursuit of knowledge, his impeccable moral character, and his zest for living life to its fullest make him a scientist of faith well worth remembering.”
It wasn’t long ago that Carl Sagan preached his “theory of mediocrity,” that “we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star, lost in a galaxy, tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people” (Cosmos). A recent study indicates that Earth remains a rare bird in the celestial aviary.
Bulletin! Life found in Milky Way! Astrobio.Net reported the finding: “We know for certain that life exists in the Milky Way galaxy: that life is us.” OK, maybe that is not news, but the article did confirm the idea of a Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ) outside of which life is unlikely. Author Gemma Lavender reminded readers of other requirements “such as atmospheric composition, a carbon cycle and the existence of water” that must also be satisfied. Then she briefly revisited the debate between the Copernican Principle (championed by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake) and the “Rare Earth” hypothesis, advanced by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, who first proposed the Galactic Habitable Zone in their book Rare Earth. But how wide is the GHZ?
Lavender entertained a new model that proposes more habitability in the inner zones than Ward and Brownlee described, despite the increased danger of supernovae, because of higher concentrations of heavy elements there. A supernova can quickly sterilize a planet, the team led by Michael Gowanlock (NASA Astrobiology Institute) admitted, but life in the fast lane near the galactic nucleus also has benefits—more raw material for rocky planets. Other astrobiologists are not so sure. Regardless of who’s right, one item stood out in the study: “The team discovered that at some time in their lives, the majority of stars in our Galaxy will be bathed in the radiation from a nearby supernova, whereas around 30% of stars remain untouched or unsterilized.” Artwork of an unlucky planet getting sterilized by its star going boom served as a reminder that not every star in a galaxy can be counted on to provide a stable habitable zone.
From this admittedly optimistic study, it appears that 8% of 30% of stars in the GHZ remain candidates for having Earth-like planets where life can thrive. That’s 2.4% the stars, before considering all the other factors listed in The Privileged Planet, such as the right crustal composition, plate tectonics, an abundance of water, the right kind of star, the right kind of atmosphere – at least 20 requirements. In the film, a simple calculation using conservative estimates of 1 in 10 for each factor put the odds at a thousandth of a trillionth that a planet would have all the conditions necessary for life. Earth still appears the winner of a gigantic cosmic lottery.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
By Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra
Many times believers are scandalized by the happiness of the impious and faithless. Indeed, when we take a look around us, we see that God, according to human logic, very unfairly distributes His good things. Where He should be giving happiness He gives misfortunes. Where He should be giving riches He gives poverty, and where He should have given poverty He gives riches. When we await His blessings, then He gives us a heavy blow, while simultanously He maintains a perpetual smile on others. We are led to say, using a modern phrase, that God always discriminates. We are scandalized by this. Why?
Simply because our heart is directed towards all these things, is stuck on them, loves them, and longs for them. But the release from catastrophy should be sought elsewhere. We should not seek the removal of this apparent discrimination of apparent injustice. The change should occur within us. We must become total strangers towards everything human, towards human logic and human thought, and towards all good things. We must be indifferent towards everything. When estranged from everything, then God can be everything for us, for God alone to remain with us. This will give us the deep peace from within. Otherwise, even if there is something in our heart which is not of the other life but of this one, we should know that we will be continuously tormented.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
September 25, 2011
Summary of a report by Airat Shevaliev of NTV: 1037 was considered to be the year Kievan Rus' main cathedral was founded. Recently, however, Ukrainian scientists discovered graffiti on church walls pointing to a much earlier history. Nadezhda Nikitenko from the Dept. of scientific-historal investigations of St. Sophia Cathedral reports: "I came to believe that while the Holy Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich, Equal-to-the Apostles, founded the Cathedral, it was completed under his son, Yaroslav the Wise." The last 4 paragraphs of the transcribed report are paraphrased below:
Nadezhda Nikitenko:"There are 260 square meters of mosaics and 3,000 square meters of frescoes."
Literally in front of St. Sophia Cathedral is St. Michael's Monastery. It was blown up during the 1930s under Soviet rule and rebuilt anew only 15 years ago. The same fate befell St. Sophia. An ambitious government quarter was planned here. But, for various resons, there was no time then to come for Saint Sophia.
Also associated with Soviet times is a detective story of the monument's history. Recently, the museum staff opened the marble sarcophagus of Yaroslav the Wise. From the inside they retrieved a box containing the remains and three Soviet newspapers from 1964 - when the grave was last opened. When the skeleton was assembled, it proved to be that of a female -- possibly the prince's wife. An investigation revealed that, before the war, the remains of Yaroslav himself were removed from Kiev, taken abroad and are now in America.
Nadezhda Nikitenko: "We believe that the remains are in New York -- in Brooklyn, in Holy Trinity Church."
St. Sophia employees have been negotiating with the New York parish for over a year, but that, of course, is nothing compared with these walls' millennial history.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Saint Anthimos was born in Georgia, and his parents were called John and Mary. The child received the name Andrew in Baptism, and his parents raised him as an Orthodox Christian.
Andrew was captured by Turks who invaded Georgia when he was young, and he was one of many who were made slaves in Constantinople. There he learned to speak Greek, Arabic, and Turkish, and also became skilled in woodcarving, embroidery, and painting. After a few years as a slave, Andrew escaped and fled to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for refuge.
Around 1690, Andrew was invited to Wallachia by Prince Constantine Brancoveanu (August 16), who had heard of his talents. After a year or so, he became a monk and received the name Anthimos. Later, he was ordained to the holy priesthood. He was placed in charge of the royal print shop in Bucharest, and later set up a printing house in the Snagov Monastery. The monastery printed sixty-three books in Romanian, Greek, Arabic, and Georgian. St Anthimos was the author of thirty-eight of them. He was chosen to be the abbot of Snagov in 1696.
The saint was consecrated as Bishop of Rimnicu-Vilcea in 1705, and three years later he was made Metropolitan of Wallachia. As Metropolitan, he established schools for poor children, and built churches and monasteries. Since he was a woodcarver, he used his talent to beautify many churches.
St Anthimos was a zealous pastor who satisfied his flock's hunger for spiritual knowledge. Preaching in the Romanian language, he taught them the saving truths of Orthodoxy, and offered words of encouragement and consolation. His edifying books and sermons are part of the spiritual legacy of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Metropolitan Anthimos was arrested by the Turks in 1716 and sentenced to be exiled at St Katherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai, but he never arrived at his destination. On September 27, 1716, he was killed by the soldiers who were escorting him. They cut his body into little pieces and threw them into the Tungia River, south of the Danube. Thus, the faithful servant of Christ received the crown of martyrdom.
St Anthimos was a true shepherd of his flock, and a father to his clergy. He was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.
For various videos having to do with St. Anthimos, see here.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Metropolitan John of Lagada and Exarch of Central Macedonia has called 2011 "the year of Saint Kyranna", which was inaugurated on the feast of the Saint on 8 January 2011. The center of the festivities has been in the village of Ossa, near Thessaloniki, where the Saint lived and where a magnificent church exists in her honor. To read about the life and martyrdom of Saint Kyranna, see here.
Following the heroic and martyric death of the young Saint Kyranna on 28 February 1751, the faithful took her precious relics and had her buried outside the city of Thessaloniki. At the same time portions of her clothes were cut into pieces and given to the faithful as relics for a blessing. The people of the village of Ossa had a church built in the village in her honor a few decades after this event and Christoforos Prodromitis had a Service of Praise written to be chanted on the annual commemoration of her martyrdom. Her life was recorded by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite in his New Martyrology.
Because St. Kyranna was martyred during the time of Turkish occupation, the only thing that was known about the location of her relics was that they were buried "outside the walls" of Thessaloniki. 260 years later St. Kyranna allowed the location of her relics to be discovered to the people who have honored her memory all this time. This all began when Metropolitan John of Lagada inaugurated 2011 as the year of Saint Kyranna, and he began to research her life in various sources. Thus on 12 September 2011, with the help of a monk from Mount Athos and the assistance of specialists and forensic experts, they confirmed that in the Holy Altar of the Church of the Archangels in Ossa, where St. Kyranna herself attended the Divine Liturgy, beneath the floor slabs a large portion of her relics were discovered.
Any questions generated by the investigation of the remains of the Saint were quickly put aside when a beautiful fragrance filled the church when the relics of the Saint were uncovered. With her bones there were also the leather shoes of the Saint, and forensic experts were able to determine the height, sex, age and year of burial of the Saint. Following this great discovery, Metropolitan John notified Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, then proceeded to have the public informed through a formal statement.
On Friday 23 September 2011 in an atmosphere of emotion and piety, the faithful of Ossa and the surrounding area gathered in the Church of the Archangels to celebrate the first all-night vigil with the presence of the relics of their patron saint. Metropolitan John was the officiant together with Bishop Demetrios of Thermes and a large number of priests from the Metropolis. The celebration will continue until October 10th with daily Supplication Services and all-night vigils, and will culminate on October 11th when Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will visit the village and venerate the relics of St. Kyranna. At that time also the relics of St. Kyranna will be translated from the Church of the Archangels to the newer church dedicated to her honorable memory.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
September 24, 2011
"The number of Orthodox in the Czech Republic is increasing every day," said the Metropolitan Christopher of the Czech Republic and All Slovakia in an interview.
His Beatitude the Metropolitan of Czech spoke of increased faith compared to other denominations in the country, saying that "many people from the former Soviet Union come to live here. Many Czechs come to be baptized Orthodox; the Orthodox Church is a refuge for all."
Moreover, Metropolitan Christopher said that "all Orthodox churches are full, even on holidays the people fill the church even going outside of it. Meanwhile Catholic churches are empty."
Asked why this happening, since the Czech Republic is the most atheistic country in Europe, the Czech Metropolitan said: "About this I am asked very often. I answer that my much-suffering country, which received the baptism of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, for centuries was born with the persecution of the Popes and Cardinals."
"Catholicism was implanted by force, with almost the same methods as traditionally practiced by the Nazis and the communists. If you were disobedient they would take your property and send you into exile, and they may have even put an end to you," continued Mr. Christopher.
Then he added that "of the 150,000 rural families there are only 30,000 left. It seems clear that the Czechs do not like Catholicism. So Czechoslovakia soon became an independent country, with about one million people leaving the Catholic Church and the establishment of the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia."
Also the Metropolitan of the Czech Republic and Slovakia said: "More and more people today in the Czech Republic and Slovakia prefer the Orthodox Church. We now need to boost their morale, especially among young people, and teach them the truth that they did not know."
In closing, Metropolitan Christopher was asked what the biggest problems today in the Church of the Czech Republic are, and he stressed that "the biggest problem is lack of space. Have you seen what's going on inside the churches? Believers can hardly fit, and many sit on the street."
"I want to thank the Russian Church, Patriarch Kirill, Bishop Hilarion and the Head-priest Nicholas Balasof who helped me purchase our offices and Sunday School," added the Metropolitan of Czech.
Translated by John Sanidopoulos
September 20, 2011
An unusual phenomenon occurred in the village Rassivka in the Poltava region of Ukraine: the face of Christ and St. Nicholas appeared on planks after being moved from a burnt area to a home.
"Before the war, our farm belonged to the priest. The old house was bombed by the Germans, and we had to build a new home. About five years ago the shed of the priest was burned. When we started to dismantle the wreckage after the fire, we found two small planks with an image size 10 x 15. We were very surprised that it was not burned. My husband decided not to throw it away", said the 85-year-old Maria Nefortouna.
Now, her fellow villagers come to her home like they go to church to venerate the icons, according to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.
In turn, the husband of the housewife, Basil Bouchanenko said, "It was initially impossible to see something on the boards, it was blurry, and it had a yellowish color, and was hit hard by the beetles."
The icons were moved to the summer kitchen and forgotten about until the grandchildren found them and started playing with them.
"Seeing it, I took a board in my hands and was shocked! On it seemed the face a saint. I went to church, had it sanctified, and then placed it in the most prominent location of the house, next to family photos. There was no doubt that this was an icon. In a few months there appeared the face and the hands of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and even details of his clothing. Some details appeared in just one week ", said Basil Bouchanenko.
The head of the church in Rassivka, Father Bogdan, recounted that "the emergence of these icons" took place before his eyes.
"I remember well how dull was the icon of St. Nicholas, when we sanctified this board, and how clear it is now. It is simply lit up! I have no doubt this was a miracle. To wash or clean the old icons is impossible. These experiments do not go along with that. Whether it is renewed or not. God's will is in everything. A large role was played by the atmosphere in the home and the faith of the people who live there", said the priest.
Translated by John Sanidopoulos
By St. John Chrysostom
Inasmuch, then, as you have now shaken off despondency, we are desirous to recall you to the recollection of former matters; so that our discourse may be rendered the clearer to you. For what we said of the creation, that God not only made it beautiful, and wonderful, and vast, but also weak and corruptible; and moreover that He has established various proofs of this; ordering both these circumstances for our advantage; leading us on by its beauty to admiration of Him who framed it: and by its weakness leading us away from the worship of the creature; this we may see, take place also in the case of the body. For with respect to this too there are many among the enemies to the truth, as well as among those who belong to our own ranks, who make it a subject of enquiry, why it was created corruptible and frail? Many also of the Greeks and heretics affirm, that it was not even created by God. For they declare it to be unworthy of God's creative art, and enlarge upon its impurities, its sweat, its tears, its labours, and sufferings, and all the other incidents of the body. But, for my part, when such things are talked of, I would first make this reply. Tell me not of man, fallen, degraded and condemned. But if you would learn what manner of body God formed us with at the first, let us go to Paradise, and survey the Man that was created at the beginning. For that body was not thus corruptible and mortal; but like as some statue of gold just brought from the furnace, that shines splendidly, so that frame was free from all corruption. Labour did not trouble it, nor sweat deface it. Cares did not conspire against it; nor sorrows besiege it; nor was there any other affection of that kind to distress it. But when man did not bear his felicity with moderation, but threw contempt upon his Benefactor, and thought a deceiving demon more worthy of credit than God who cared for him, and who had raised him to honour, and when he expected to become himself a god, and conceived thoughts above his proper dignity, then—then indeed it was that God, to humble him by decisive acts, made him mortal, as well as corruptible; and fettered him with such varied necessities; not from hatred or aversion, but in care for him, and to repress at the very outset that evil and destructive pride; and instead of permitting it to proceed any further, He admonished Him by actual experience, that he was mortal and corruptible; thus to convince him that he must never again think or dream of such things as he had done. For the devil's suggestion, was, "You shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5). Desiring then utterly to eradicate this idea, God made the body subject to much suffering and disease; to instruct him by its very nature that he must never again entertain such a thought. And that this is true, is really most evident from what befell him; for after such an expectation, he was condemned to this punishment. Consider also with me the wisdom of God in this matter. He did not allow him to be the first to die, but permitted his Son to suffer this death; in order that seeing before his eyes the body corrupting and decaying, he might receive a striking lesson of wisdom from that spectacle; and learn what had come to pass, and be duly chastened before he departed hence.
But why do you marvel if this has happened in respect to the body, when even with respect to the soul it is plain, that a similar thing has taken place. For God made it not mortal, but permitted it to be immortal; He constituted it however subject to forgetfulness, to ignorance, to sadness, and to care; and this, lest regarding its own nobility of birth, it might take up a conceit too high for its proper dignity. For if, even while the case stands thus, some have dared to aver, that it is of the Divine essence; to what a pitch of frenzy would they not have reached, if it had been devoid of these imperfections? What, however, I affirmed respecting the creation, I affirm also respecting the body, that both these things alike excite my admiration of God; that He has made it corruptible; and that in its very corruptibility, He has manifested His own power and wisdom. For that He could have made it of some better material, He has evidenced from the celestial and the solar substance. For He that made those such as they are, could have made this also like them, had He thought proper to do so. But the cause of its imperfection is what I before adverted to. This circumstance by no means lowers the admiration due to the Creator's workmanship, but rather increases it; for the meanness of the substance, manifests the resource and adaptiveness of His art; since He has introduced such a harmony of parts in clay and ashes, and senses so various and manifold and capable of such spiritual wisdom.
In proportion, therefore, as you find fault with the meanness of the substance, be so much the more astonished at the greatness of the art displayed. For this reason also, I do not so much admire the statuary who forms a beautiful figure out of gold, as him who, by the resources of art, is able, even in crumbling clay, to exhibit a marvellous and inimitable mould of beauty. In the former case, the material gives some aid to the artist, but in the latter, there is a naked display of his art. Would you learn then, how great the wisdom of the Creator is, consider what it is that is made out of clay? What else is there but brick and tile? Nevertheless, God, the Supreme Artist, from the same material of which only the brick and tile is formed, has been able to make an eye so beautiful, as to astonish all who behold it, and to implant in it such power, that it can at once survey the high aerial expanse, and by the aid of a small pupil embrace the mountains, forests, hills, the ocean, yea, the heaven, by so small a thing! Tell me not then of tears and rheums, for these things are the fruit of your sin; but consider its beauty, and visual power; and how it is that while it ranges over such an expanse of air, it experiences no weariness or distress! The feet indeed become tired and weakened even after going but a small distance; but the eye, in traversing a space so lofty and so wide, is not sensible of any infirmity. For since this is the most necessary to us of all our members, He has not suffered it to be oppressed with fatigue; in order that the service it renders us might be free and unfettered.
But rather, I should say, what language is fully adequate to set forth the whole excellency of this member? And why do I speak of the pupil and the visual faculty? For if you were to investigate that which seems the meanest of all the members, I mean the eyelashes, you would behold even in these the manifold wisdom of God the Creator! For as it is with respect to the ears of grain; the beards, standing forth as a sort of spears, repel the birds, and do not suffer them to settle upon the fruits, and to break the stalk, which is too tender to bear them; so also is it with regard to the eyes. The hairs of the eyelids are ranged in front, and answer the purpose of beards and spears; keeping dust and light substances at a distance from the eyes, and any thing that might incommode the sight; and not permitting the eyelids to be annoyed. Another instance of wisdom, no less remarkable, is to be observed in eyebrows. Who can help being struck by their position? For they do not project to an immoderate degree, so as to obscure the sight; nor do they retire farther back than is fitting; but in the same manner as the eaves of a house, they stand out above, receiving the perspiration as it descends from the forehead, and not permitting it to annoy the eyes. For this purpose too there is a growth of hair upon them, which serves by its roughness to stay what descends from above, and affords the exact protection that is needed, and contributes also much appearance of beauty to the eyes. Nor is this the only matter of wonder! There is another thing also which is equally so. How is it, I ask, that the hairs of the head increase, and are cut off; but those of the eyebrows, not so? For not even this has happened undesignedly, or by chance, but in order that they might not darken the sight too much by becoming very long; an inconvenience from which those suffer who have arrived at extreme old age.
And who could possibly trace out all the wisdom which is manifested by means of the brain! For, in the first place, He made it soft, since it serves as a fountain to all the senses. Next, in order that it might not suffer injury owing to its peculiar nature, He fortified it on every side with bones. Further; that it might not suffer from friction, by the hardness of the bones, He interposed a middle membrane: and not only a single one, but also a second; the former being spread out on the under side of the skull, but the latter enveloping the upper substance of the brain, and the first being the harder of the two. And this was done, both for the cause that has been mentioned, and in order that the brain might not be the first to receive the blows inflicted upon the head; but that these membranes first encountering them, might free it from all injury, and preserve it unwounded. Moreover, that the bone which covers the brain is not a single and continuous one, but has many sutures on every side, is a circumstance which contributes much to its security. For a ventilation of the vapours that surround it may easily take place outward through these sutures, so as to prevent it from being suffocated; and if a blow should be inflicted upon it, on any particular point, the damage does not extend to the whole. For if the bone had been one and continuous, the stroke even when it fell upon one part, only, would have injured the whole; but now, by its being divided into many parts, this can never happen. For if one part should chance to be wounded, only the bone that is situated near that part receives injury, but all the rest remain unhurt; the continuity of the stroke being intercepted by the division of the bones, and being unable to extend itself to the adjacent parts. By reason of this God has constructed a covering for the brain of many bones; and just as when one builds a house, he lays on a roof, and tiles upon the upper part, so God has placed these bones above upon the head, and has provided that the hairs should shoot forth, and serve as a kind of cap for it.
The very same thing also He has done with regard to the heart. For inasmuch as the heart has preeminence over all the members in our body, and that the supreme power over our whole life is entrusted to it, and death happens when it receives but a slight blow; He has fenced it about on every side with stiff and hard bones, surrounding it by the protection of the breast-bone before, and the blade-bones behind. And what He did with respect to the membranes of the brain, He has done in this instance also. For in order that it might not be rubbed and pained in striking against the hard bones which encompass it, in the throbbing and quick pulsation to which it is subject in anger and similar affections, He both interposed many membranes there, and placed the lungs by the side of it to act the part of a soft bed to these pulsations, so that the heart may break its force on these without sustaining injury or distress.
But why do I speak of the heart, and of the brain, when if any one will investigate even the very nails, he will see the manifold wisdom of God displayed in these; as well by their form, as by their substance and position. I might also have mentioned why our fingers are not all equal, and many other particulars besides; but to those who are inclined to attend, the wisdom of God Who created us, will be sufficiently clear from what has been said. Wherefore, leaving this department to be investigated with diligence by those who are desirous of the task, I shall turn myself to another objection.
From Homily 11 of On the Statues.
By Gil Dodgen
Everyone has a religion, a raison d’être, and mine was once Dawkins’. I had the same disdain for people of faith that he does, only I could have put him to shame with the power and passion of my argumentation.
But something happened. As a result of my equally passionate love of science, logic, and reason, I realized that I had been conned. The creation story of my atheistic, materialistic religion suddenly made no sense.
This sent a shock wave through both my mind and my soul. Could it be that I’m not just the result of random errors filtered by natural selection? Am I just the product of the mindless, materialistic processes that “only legitimate scientists” all agree produced me? Does my life have any ultimate purpose or meaning? Am I just a meat-machine with no other purpose than to propagate my “selfish genes”?
Ever since I was a child I thought about such things, but I put my blind faith in the “scientists” who taught me that all my concerns were irrelevant, that science had explained, or would eventually explain, everything in purely materialistic terms.
But I’m a freethinker, a legitimate scientist. I follow the evidence wherever it leads. And the evidence suggests that the universe and living systems are the product of an astronomically powerful creative intelligence.
Read also: Are Those Without Formal Academic Training in Evolutionary Biology Justified in Challenging the “Experts”?
Friday, September 23, 2011
3.93 & 27: The clean nous sometimes God himself comes into and teaches, sometimes the holy angelic powers suggest the right things, sometimes the vision of the nature of things.... But to participate or not in His goodness and wisdom, depends to the will of the creatures who have reason.
3.79: Do not dishonor your conscience, perfectly instructing you always. Because she suggests you the divine and angelic opinion, she sets you free from the hidden infections of the heart and she gives you uprightness before God when you depart.
3.80: If you've known yourself, you will understand many, great and wonderful things. Because, thinking that you know doesn't let you progress in knowing.
1.95: The sun of righteousness, rising into the clean nous, reveals himself and the reasons of all that He created and will create.
4.61: Love defeats those three: self-deception, because she is not proud; interior envy, because she is not jealous; exterior envy, because she is generous and serene.
4.70: All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are inside our hearts hidden.
1.31: Faith without love does not act in the soul the illumination of the divine knowledge.
3.97: When the nous receives the ideas of things, by its nature is transformed according to each and every idea. If it sees the things spiritually, is transfigured in many ways according to each vision. But if the nous becomes in God, then it becomes totally shapeless and formless, because seeing Him who has one face it comes to have one face and then the whole mind becomes a face of light.
From On Love.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
By St. Gregory of Nyssa
But what means the uprightness of man's figure? And why is it that those powers which aid life do not naturally belong to his body? But man is brought into life bare of natural covering, an unarmed and poor being, destitute of all things useful, worthy, according to appearances, of pity rather than of admiration, not armed with prominent horns or sharp claws, nor with hoofs nor with teeth, nor possessing by nature any deadly venom in a sting, - things such as most animals have in their own power for defence against those who do them harm: his body is not protected with a covering of hair: and yet possibly it was to be expected that he who was promoted to rule over the rest of the creatures should be defended by nature with arms of his own so that he might not need assistance from others for his own security. Now, however, the lion, the boar, the tiger, the leopard, and all the like have natural power sufficient for their safety: and the bull has his horn, the hare his speed, the deer his leap and the certainty of his sight, and another beast has bulk, others a proboscis, the birds have their wings, and the bee her sting, and generally in all there is some protective power implanted by nature: but man alone of all is slower than the beasts that are swift of foot, smaller than those that are of great bulk, more defenceless than those that are protected by natural arms; and how, one will say, has such a being obtained the sovereignty over all things?
Well, I think it would not be at all hard to show that what seems to be a deficiency of our nature is a means for our obtaining dominion over the subject creatures. For if man had had such power as to be able to outrun the horse in swiftness, and to have a foot that, from its solidity, could not be worn out, but was strengthened by hoofs or claws of some kind, and to carry upon him horns and stings and claws, he would be, to begin with, a wild-looking and formidable creature, if such things grew with his body: and moreover he would have neglected his rule over the other creatures if he had no need of the co-operation of his subjects; whereas now, the needful services of our life are divided among the individual animals that are under our sway, for this reason to make our dominion over them necessary.
It was the slowness and difficult motion of our body that brought the horse to supply our need, and tamed him: it was the nakedness of our body that made necessary our management of sheep, which supplies the deficiency of our nature by its yearly produce of wool: it was the fact that we import from others the supplies for our living which subjected beasts of burden to such service: furthermore, it was the fact that we cannot eat grass like cattle which brought the ox to render service to our life, who makes our living easy for us by his own labour; and because we needed teeth and biting power to subdue some of the other animals by grip of teeth, the dog gave, together with his swiftness, his own jaw to supply our need, becoming like a live sword for man; and there has been discovered by men iron, stronger and more penetrating than prominent horns or sharp claws, not, as those things do with the beasts, always growing naturally with us, but entering into alliance with us for the time, and for the rest abiding by itself: and to compensate for the crocodile's scaly hide, one may make that very hide serve as armour, by putting it on his skin upon occasion: or, failing that, art fashions iron for this purpose too, which, when it has served him for a time for war, leaves the man-at-arms once more free from the burden in time of peace: and the wing of the birds, too, ministers to our life, so that by aid of contrivance we are not left behind even by the speed of wings: for some of them become tame and are of service to those who catch birds, and by their means others are by contrivance subdued to serve our needs:. moreover art contrives to make our arrows feathered, and by means of the bow gives us for our needs the speed of wings: while the fact that our feet are easily hurt and worn in travelling makes necessary the aid which is given by the subject animals: for hence it comes that we fit shoes to our feet.
From The Making of Man, Ch. 7:1.
By St. Basil the Great
Love for God can not be taught. No one taught us to enjoy the light nor to want life, nor anyone else taught us to love our parents or those who raised us.
Similarly or rather much more, knowledge of divine love does not come from outside. But in the same time when man was composed, a seminal reason was deposited in us, which has by itself the causes of appropriating love....
Only the good is properly beautiful and lovable. God is good. Everything loves good, therefore, everything loves God.... To be alienated and to depart from God is unbearable, even more than the fire of hell....
From The Long Rules, Rule 2.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
Perhaps it was this Saint [Eustathios] to whom is addressed the saying which the divine Chrysostom wrote: "None of the grievous things which are in this present life can fix their fangs upon that lofty soul, which is truly philosophic, neither enmity, nor accusations, nor slanders, nor dangers, nor plots. It flies for refuge as it were to a mighty fortress, securely defended there against all that attack it from this lower earth" (Homily 3 On Phillipians). He also says: "For this too is a thing in which it behooves the Christian to differ from the unbelievers, the bearing all things nobly; and through hope of the future, soaring above the attack of human evils" (Homily 2 On the Statues).
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
Read also: Holy and Great-Martyr Eustathios Plakidas With His Wife and Children of Rome
By Anna Kuksa
I once met a holy man in the Nyack church that I attended with my family. At the time, I was a little girl and did not realize it. Neither did a lot of people, not for another 30 years or so.
He was a Bishop and was visiting from San Francisco. After the liturgy, as customary, I kissed the cross and his hand. This in itself was a great blessing, a blessing that has been with me ever since. I distinctly remember the round, black glasses he wore and how his head tilted every so slightly to the right. He exuded an aura of peace and didn’t frighten me in the manner that most priests and bishops did.
Originally, the man’s name was Mikhail Maximovitch. He was born in Russia and moved to Belgrade after the Russian Revolution. Many Russians fled the Communist regime: some, as was the case of my family waited longer, others left sooner.
In Belgrade as a young man, Mikhail felt the pull to church life and he pursued and graduated with a degree in theology from the university. Soon after, he became a monk and took the name John. Eventually, he was transferred to China and assumed the role of the Bishop of Shanghai. Many Russian expatriates had fled to China and as a result, they needed a leader. In 1962, Bishop John came to America when he was assigned to San Francisco.
There was a lot of drama in church politics that I won’t mention, but suffice it to say that drama is a part of life.
Bishop John was a living saint, not eating or sleeping much, spending his time praying and doing good deeds. His fasting and prayer and worked miracles: there were many instances of healings by Bishop John while he was alive and even more miraculous events after his death. People witnessed how he appeared in two places at once, how he floated in the air and had a glowing light around his body, especially after Easter services.
By his own prediction, he died on July 2, 1966 and his body was entombed in a sepulcher in The Cathedral of the Theotokos, Joy of All Who Sorrow in San Francisco.
I visited this magnificent Russian cathedral on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco on a trip to California in 1988.
The tomb was underneath the church and even though it was below ground, the room was bright, lit by burning candles on the stands that stood around the sepulcher. The burning incense filled my lungs as I crossed myself and bent over to kiss the cold granite of his tomb. Silently, I said my prayer and asked the Bishop to intercede on my behalf with the Divine. My prayer was not for myself, and, I can assure you that to this day, it remains answered. Many other supplications were answered as well.
I was not the only one whose prayer was answered. Many Russian Orthodox persons, both here in America and abroad, petitioned the Russian Orthodox Church to consider sainthood for Bishop John. In 1994, after much study, the Church canonized him. His sepulcher was opened and it was discovered that his body was incorrupt, meaning that it had not decomposed despite the fact that the body had not been embalmed.
In 1994, I returned to San Francisco and witnessed the glorification along with hundreds of others. It was a glorious, once in a lifetime event. Although the services were long, I did not tire and afterwards, I paid my respects to wonderworker Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco. His body now rests in a glass tomb, in the Cathedral upstairs.
I realize that some don’t recognize saints and there are even fewer who are fortunate to meet one in their lifetime. All I can say is that some souls are more advanced than others in the spiritual sense and their life’s mission is devoted to prayer, helping and serving others. In serving others, they serve the Divine.
What you may not realize, either, is that all of us have the potential.
September 16, 2011
The new Very Short Introduction to Paganism (Oxford, £7.99) would be scarcely a pamphlet if it was confined to paganism lived as a religion in the modern world. Wicca, the most popular form, goes back as far as 1948.
In that year Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) turned his attentions from the magic of the Ordo Templi Orientis (represented by Aleister “The Beast” Crowley, pictured) and devoted himself to the witchcraft he claimed was the old religion of Europe.
He had, he said, been initiated into a witches’ coven in the New Forest one night in 1939. Details of their secret rituals were recorded in his manuscript copy of the Book of Shadows and published in his High Magic’s Aid (1949).
These witches, so Gardner said, kept alive the fertility religion described by Margaret Murray (1863-1963) in her Witch Cult in Western Europe. Margaret Murray was by training an Egyptologist, whose knowledge of the ancient language proved of value to the archaeologist she admired, Flinders Petrie. But it was her grand theory of the survival of witchcraft that proved popular.
Those tried for witchcraft in past centuries were indeed practitioners of a secret religion, she asserted. Even Joan of Arc and Thomas Becket had been sacrificed as part of a kingship ritual intended to ensure fertility. As Owen Davies, the author of the Very Short Introduction notes, “The fundamental flaws in Murray’s thesis and research methods were clearly evident to some at the time and are to any historian today, but The Witch-Cult in Western Europe was widely embraced for decades.”
No one embraced it closer than Gerald Gardner. He furnished the supposed religion with spells supplied by Aleister Crowley and by Samuel Liddell Mathers (1854-1918). Mathers was a founder in 1888 of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the first modern occult organisation dedicated to the practice of ritual magic in Britain. It established temples (dedicated to Horus in Bradford and Osiris in Weston-super-Mare). Aleister Crowley had joined the Isis-Urania temple in London and drove Mathers to distraction by pirating his magic text, the Lesser Key of Solomon in 1904.
“No matter the depth of Gardner’s deception and invention in creating Wicca,” writes Professor Davies, “he spawned the development of a vibrant new pagan religion that would, over the next few decades, generate numerous variants and pathways under the umbrella of 'witchcraft’.”
One might mention the internet’s role in propagating Wiccan notions of religious history. Professor Davies notes that television programmes such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch “normalised the idea of Wiccan magic for tens of millions of viewers, though without really portraying Wicca as a pagan religion as distinct from a mere source of spells”.
A more alarming role for resuscitated paganism in nationalist movements is exemplified by the building of a pagan altar in Vilnius for the historically fanciful Romuva movement. Worse, in Serbia was the belief that St Vitus was merely a Christianised version of the war god Vid. St Vitus Day, also that of the emblematic battle of Kosovo in 1389, became a national holiday in 1914 under the name Vidovdan. By 1996, a report submitted to the Serbian Orthodox synod spoke of “the brutal and uncompromising re-paganisation of Serbia”. It was not a myth helpful to peaceful coexistence.
The backwaters of cult mysticism remain to me a fascinating chaos of currents, from the occult philosophy of Hermes Tismegistus to Madam Blavatsky, from the druidic wicker man to the induction of Dr Rowan Williams into the Gorsedd of Bards. Their importance depends on the myths they convey and whether those myths embody truth.
Monday, September 19, 2011
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
The Fathers, speaking of the Transfiguration of Christ and the partaking of divine glory, speak of the personal ascent on the mount of the vision of God. It is the constant cry of the Church: "Make Thine everlasting light shine forth also upon us sinners." And in a related prayer in the first hour we feel the need to ask Christ: "O Christ, the true Light, which illumineth and sanctifieth every man who cometh in the world! Let the light of Thy countenance be shown upon us, that in it we may behold the light ineffable." Continual ascent and evolution are needed.
In the Church we speak of man's evolution, not from ape to man, but from man to God. And this "ecclesiastical theory" of evolution which the Church has, gives an understanding of life and satisfies all of man's inner and existential anxieties.
St. Maximus the Confessor teaches that Christ is not shown to all in the same way, but to beginners he is shown in the form of a servant, while to those who are ascending the mountain of the vision of God He is shown "in the form of God".
From The Twelve Feasts of the Lord, Ch. 7:17
Paul's beloved disciple was a source of unity for Catholics and Russian Orthodox last Friday, as representatives from both Churches gathered around St. Timothy's relics in Termoli, Italy.
The Orthodox delegation included Archbishop Zosimo of Elista and Bishop Aristarh of Kemerovo.
The papal nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, also attended the event, recalling his long tenure as the nuncio in Russia. The local bishop, Gianfranco De Luca, welcomed the group.
The delegations are developing a plan for Bishop De Luca to take the Saint's skull to Russia for Orthodox Lent, while an Orthodox bishop will lead the delegation that will return the relic to Termoli. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow will finalize the plan.
Bishop De Luca gave the Orthodox bishops two small relics of St. Timothy, while his Orthodox guests presented him with an icon and a relic of St. Seraphim.
St. Timothy's relics were discovered in 1945 during restoration to the Basilica Cathedral of Termoli.
For many years, the relics had been concealed to keep them safe, so much so that awareness of the saint's resting place was forgotten, even by local residents.
The small niche was discovered with a marble tile, reading "Here rests Blessed Timothy disciple of the Apostle Paul."
His skull had always been kept in a private chapel apart.
A 1977 book on the Diocese of Termoli relates that Timothy's relics were taken to the city by a count returning from the crusades. This information is not corroborated in historical texts, but what is known is that the relics were hidden in 1239 about three feet from the cathedral floor.
There are no documents that attest explicitly to the translation of the relics from the East to the Adriatic city, but it has not been disputed. In 1947, this account was upheld by the Historical Commission of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.