Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The Dormition of the Theotokos
On the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos
The Fast and Preparation for the Feast of the Dormition
Monk Moses: "The Mother of God's Fifteen Days of August Has Arrived"
The Relationship Between Saint John of Damascus and the Theotokos Together With a Sermon on Her Dormition
The Relationship Between Saint Gregory Palamas and the Theotokos Together With a Sermon on Her Dormition
The History of the Small Paraklesis (Supplication) Canon to the Theotokos
The History of the Great Paraklesis (Supplication) Canon to the Theotokos
The Thief Who Prayed Daily To the Theotokos
The Lamentations of the Dormition of the Theotokos
Video: Lamentations and Hymns of the Dormition of the Theotokos
The Lamentations of the Theotokos In Worship
Elder Paisios' Favorite Icon of the Panagia
Saint Methodios of Byzantium and His Long Beard
God Guides the Humble
Feast of the Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Cross From August 1 - 14
August 6 - Transfiguration of Christ
Synaxarion for the Feast of the Transfiguration
"Discourse on the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord" by St. Gregory Palamas
St. Maximus the Confessor: 18 Spiritual Interpretations of the Transfiguration (1)
St. Maximus the Confessor: 18 Spiritual Interpretations of the Transfiguration (2)
St. Maximus the Confessor: 18 Spiritual Interpretations of the Transfiguration (3)
St. Maximus the Confessor: 18 Spiritual Interpretations of the Transfiguration (4)
St. Maximus the Confessor: 18 Spiritual Interpretations of the Transfiguration (5)
St. Maximus the Confessor: 18 Spiritual Interpretations of the Transfiguration (6)
An Interpretation of the Icon of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Questions About the Transfiguration Answered
The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Savior
Significance of the Lord's Transfiguration
Why the Transfiguration is Celebrated on August 6
The Blessing of Fruits on August 6th
The Transfiguration Unites the Old and New Testaments
Why Peter, James and John Were Chosen Witnesses of the Transfiguration
The Miraculous Holy Cloud of Mount Tabor
An Account of the Annual Miracle on Mount Tabor on August 6th
Nun Aikaterini: A Witness of the Holy Cloud of Mt. Tabor
Meteorologists Cannot Explain the Miraculous Cloud of Mt. Tabor
Mount Tabor As the Location of Christ's Transfiguration
Video: The Monastery of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
The Chapel of the Transfiguration on the Peak of Mount Athos
The Feast of Transfiguration in Bulgaria
The Holy Mount of Grabarka in Poland
August 15th Celebrations In Greece
August 15th Customs and Traditions In Greece
August 15th Celebrations in Greece for the Virgin Mary
The Litany of Panagia of Tripolitsa in Tripoli
Finding of the Panagia Evangelistria Icon in Tinos
The Ecclesiastical Year and the People of Tinos
Video: 1947 Footage of Panagia of Tinos Feastday
Photos: Today's Last Paraklesis Service In Tinos
My Experience of the Feast of the Dormition in 1991
The Holy Snakes of the Virgin Mary in Kefallonia (1 of 2)
The Holy Snakes of the Virgin Mary in Kefallonia (2 of 2)
The Holy Snakes of Kefallonia and the Calendar Change of 1924
The Annual Appearance of the Snakes of the Panagia in Kefallonia
The Chapel of Panagia Krifti (The Hidden Panagia)
Panagia of Mikrokastrou and the Dormition Monastery
The Castle of the Panagia in Leros
The Chapel of Panagia Kavouradaina in Leros
Panagia Gourlomata of Leros
The Monastery of Panagia Panahrantos in Andros
Chapel of Panagia Thalassini in Andros
Panagia Thalassomahousa of Strofades Monastery
The Monastery of Panagia Chrysoleontissa in Aegina
The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani in Nisiros
The Chapel of Panagia Makrini in Samos
The Monastery of Panagia of "Toso Nero" In Sifnos
Synaxis of Panagia Ypseni in Rhodes
Worshipping Among Stylites!
Synaxis of All Saints of Lefkados
August 15th Celebrations On Mount Athos
Lecture: Monk Moses On Panagia Athonitissa (Greek)
The Athonite Island of Kyra Panagia
August 15th Celebrations In Cyprus
Synaxis of Panagia Trikoukiotissa in Cyprus
The Monastery of Panagia Trooditissa in Cyprus
August 15th Celebrations In Asia Minor
Panagia Soumela - Pontus and the Pontians
The Liturgies at Soumela and Akhtamar on August 15 and 19
88 Years Later, A Liturgy at Soumela Monastery
The Historic Divine Liturgy At Soumela in Pontus
Second Historic Divine Liturgy At Soumela Monastary
Ecumenical Patriarch Celebrates Paraklesis In the Ruins of Panagia Paramythia After 40 Years
Greeks Look To Revive Identity on Gökçeada (Imvros)
August 15th Celebrations In Israel
The Feast of the Dormition at the Tomb of Mary in Gethsemane
The Miraculous Panagia of Jerusalem Icon
August 15th Celebrations In Bulgaria
Bulgaria Honors Dormition of Mary
August 15th Celebrations In Romania
Romania Adds August 15 Among Free Days For Workers
August 15th Celebrations In Russia
12 Greeks Who Built the Dormition Cathedral in the Kiev Caves
August 15th Celebrations In Georgia
Georgian President Pardons 201 Prisoners For the Feast of the Dormition
August 23 - Apodosis of the Feast of the Dormition
The Annual Miracle of Panagia of Harou in Leipsi
History of Panagia Prousiotissa
The Miraculous Panagia Faneromeni of Nea Artaki in Evia
Video: Contemporary Miracles of Panagia Malevi (Greek)
Panagia Faneromeni of Nea Skioni in Halkidiki
The Monastery of Panagia Mavriotissa in Kastoria
The Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to St Sergius of Radonezh
August 31 - The Placement of the Holy Zoni of the Theotokos
The Holy Belt (Zoni) of the Theotokos
When Elder Daniel of Katounakia Was Healed By the Holy Zoni of the Theotokos
Monday, August 13, 2012
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Hagiou Vlasiou
These days there are references to theology in Greece during the decade of the 60's and this theology is presented as a new theology, either as a resetting of the teachings of the Church Fathers, or as a neo-patristic theology, that is, as a theology of the Church which is expressed in a new language.
There are many who argue that the theology that appeared in Greece during the 60's was an important event for our Church, but, as they say, several factors contributed to the disappearance of this significant prospect which this theology created.
It is the emergence of some young theologians, who wrote various scientific treatises or produced theological texts, who tried to see Orthodox teaching through another perspective, different from those prevailing at the time.
I would like to emphasize some points which, in my opinion, should be considered together, along with other studies made in this regard.
1. Theology in the 1960's
It is known that in Greece, both before and after the liberation from the Turkish yoke, a Western-style theology was introduced, which was associated either with the scholasticism of the papacy or with Protestant moralism. This is why the late Fr. George Florovsky spoke about the Babylonian captivity of Orthodox theology.
In turn, at some point certain Greek theologians came in contact with the texts of Russian émigré (refugees) in Paris, or other sensitive voices, and found a different way of expressing the problems and themes which occupied Western man. They were enthused by such texts and tried to transfer these views to the Greek Orthodox public.
At the same time, however, there was another movement by theologians, especially in Thessaloniki, to bring to light the works of Saint Gregory Palamas, who expressed an Orthodox hesychastic way of life. Within this perspective there were written studies, theses, and socio-theological texts.
All these trends are called "theology of the 1960's", and were seen as something new, because it treated philosophical, theological, anthropological, ecclesiological, and social issues through a new perspective and provided a new language, which touched more the new man. This surprised many, which both the left and critics have described this movement as "neo-orthodoxy".
2. The Causes For Which Appeared the Theology of the 1960's
Certainly this phenomenon must be studied to examine all of its parameters. For example, the causes for the emergence of this theology should be investigated, whether this theology has a foundation in timeless tradition or is it a seasonal phenomenon, and what ultimately caused its fertilization in our country and the Church.
Of course, all of these trends should be studied adequately and objectively, because the starting point and perspective of all theologians who fall into this theology are not the same, as already mentioned. Some of them began with the study of patristic texts within the hesychastic tradition of Mount Athos, others from contemporary philosophies such as Meyendorff, others by the study of the Russian theologians of the diaspora, and others were affected by the "political theology" of Latin America. Of course, all of these categories result in different conclusions.
Certainly theology in the 1960's should be studied without exaggeration and without devaluations and be payed its just praise or be judged. At the same time, we should not think that the same trends were abandoned in the decades of the twentieth century in the western world. Therefore, the influence of West German theology should be examined in shaping at least part of the so-called theology of the 60's in Greece.
I mean that in the western world, primarily in the German theology of the 1920's, after the horrific results of the First World War and the cooperation of the Christians with the imperialist powers of the time, there developed crisis and dialectical theology or neo-orthodoxy, which tried to see the relationship of God with the world through a new perspective. There appeared new Protestant theologians, such as Barth, Brunner, Bultmann, and Tillich, who met with philosophers of the time, such as Kierkegaard, Berdyaev, Heidegger, etc. respectively, and spoke of the Church in relation to the world in a different manner from older German theologians, such as Harnack.
In this German theology of the 1920's there were heard and discussed terms like neo-orthodoxy, secularism, ecclesiology, pneumatology, eschatology, universality, etc., which were terms used extensively by Greek theologians of the 1960's. Moreover, there was a great debate in Germany and in the West generally regarding the relationship of the Church with the world, faith and reason, philosophy and theology, history and eschatology, word and revelation, and of God.
Also, in the western world in the 1960's there developed various theological trends which spoke of eschatological theology, post-christian theology, the theology of the death of God, political theology, etc. And such terminology was brought to Greece in the 1960's and beyond. Professor Marios Begzos presented in a beautiful way the entire evolution of this theology to the Protestants.
Thus, the theology of the 1960's in Greece should certainly be studied from this perspective, that is in relation to parallel theological movements which were in the Protestant world, primarily in Germany, and the relationship between the Orthodox theologians of the 1960's and the Protestant theologians of the 1920's and 1960's should be investigated.
For example, during the student years of my generation, we would very often hear from our professors the views of the great German Protestant theologians, such as Barth, Brunner, Bultmann, etc. As an example I will mention that in my class on the history of dogmatics, among others, I had examined the issue of dialectical theology and the views of the above German theologians regarding the justification of man in relation to Orthodox theology as expressed by the Holy Fathers. Also, in the degree examinations for the class on Christian ethics I examined the book of Nikolai Berdyaev The Destiny of Man. This was occurring because some of the professors had studied in Germany and knew the whole movement of dialectical theology.
Our previous generation had been influenced too much by the German theologian Harnack, who preceded dialectical theology, because the professors of that time studied German theology through his views.
In any event, the so-called theology of the 1960's in Greece should be studied on the basis of the corresponding theology in Germany and the basis of the Russian theology of the diaspora.
3. The Theology of the Church
Beyond what has been reported I must add a view which should be explored, in order to move to safer conclusions on this issue.
In the 1960's I was a student of the Theological School of Thessaloniki, when I was taught by professors but also read texts of theologians who expressed this new perspective. At the same time however I was studying texts of the hesychastic tradition, the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Gregory Palamas, St. Symeon the New Theologian, and the philokalic Fathers.
On one of my visits then to Mount Athos I asked the late monk Theoklitos Dionysiatis, who then excelled even in a monastic state on Mount Athos and Greece as an exponent of Orthodox theology, about how he saw all of these theological problems in Greece. He replied correctly that he didn't see a problem in theology, but a problem with theologians!
With my subsequent studies I concluded that Orthodox theology is the voice of the Church. And just like the Church is timeless as the Body of Christ, so also does Orthodox theology have a timeless expression and experience that is not divided by decades. Of course, we can evaluate within history various theological trends which were expressed by theologians in their time or developed in various cities (Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc.), but we cannot talk about an Orthodox theology of the 1960's, the 1970's, the 1980's, the 1990's, etc.
In other words, the Orthodox theology of the Church is the theology of the Prophets, the Apostles and the Fathers through all the ages. Every new current which appears must be studied in relation to the theology of the Church which is expressed by the Prophets, the Apostles and the Fathers. These saints reached theosis, saw God within Light, and then expressed their experiences within the terms of their times.
When one studies the so-called theology of the 1960's through the perspective of the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Fathers, one will see a theology that was both influenced by the theology of the Russian diaspora and by Protestant dialectical theology, and is associated with elements of thinking, emotion and heredity. Thus, in some places it offers a new language, but essentially differs much methodologically from the patristic tradition, which in its depth is neptic/hesychastic and not philosophical/thoughtful. It is a theology that deals with aesthetics and not with asceticism, with the logical faculty and not the noetic faculty.
Also, the theologians who have been influenced by the "beauty" of the theology of the 1960's, remain clung to it, and do not see that there are subsequent theological studies both in the West and in the Orthodox East which have gone much further on these issues and have largely exceeded the so-called theology of the 1960's. But for a runner/athlete to judge negatively those who have overcome and run stronger than him, is not a correct understanding and criticism.
In May-June of 1997 Fr. John Romanides, Fr. George Metallinos and the author were asked to speak at a Seminar which was organized by the Orthodox Church of America (O.C.A.) near Atlanta. We were the only speakers and each of us in turn gave lectures, over two days, around the issue of Orthodoxy and therapeutic science. Fr. Romanides due to illness was unable to attend, but his introductory text was read. Fr. George Metallinos spoke on the topic of the historical and theological context of the Orthodox Church. And the author explained issues that related the Church with a hospital and the method by which man is healed.
The O.C.A. is a Church in which Fr. Alexander Schmemann, known to all, taught and played a significant role. The organizers of the Seminar wanted to know our views on these issues. We learned that the members of this Church, until then, considered the theologians of Greece influenced by the scholastic and Protestant theology of the West and that the Russian theologians of the diaspora expressed the true Orthodox theology of the so-called neo-patristics and neo-palamites, which of course is superior and outweighs the theology of the Fathers. Well-known are the views of Alexis Khomiakov that the scholastic theology of the West is higher than the theology of the Fathers, and that Russian theology surpassed both scholastic and even Greek patristic theology. But when they heard us repeatedly over two days at this Seminar analyze issues of Orthodox tradition, then one of those in attendance said: "This theology is higher than ours and the Russian diaspora. We were mistaken to have underestimated it."
4. The Case of Fr. John Romanides
Among the theologians of the 1960's many count the Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides, who really created a great surprise at that time and contributed to the restoration of theology in Greece towards the patristic tradition.
I think it is inappropriate to associate Fr. John Romanides with this trend of so-called neo-orthodoxy. And for many reasons.
The first is that Fr. John appeared in theological writings and studied theology in the 1950's, first with studies and later with his thesis, titled "The Ancestral Sin", which was indeed a milestone in the Theological School of Athens, where he created a great discussion, but also more generally in the theological world of Greece.
The second reason is because Fr. John was not affected by the Russian theologians of the diaspora nor by dialectical Protestant theology, but he did personal research on the Apostolic Fathers of the Church. Raised in the Protestant environment of America, he studied at a Papal Institute, where he learned and studied the theology of Thomas Aquinas, and in Protestant theological schools, such as Yale and Harvard, and came to know their mentality very well. Primarily because the Protestants teach that the Fathers of the Church changed apostolic tradition, he studied thoroughly the Apostolic Fathers (Irenaeus, Ignatius, Methodius, Justin, Polycarp, etc), who are the ring by which the Apostles and later Fathers are linked. Arising from this study was his thesis on ancestral sin, which, among other things, determined the difference between Orthodox and scholastic theology. Characteristic is the subtitle of his study on the ancestral sin, which identifies the book's contents: "Contributions to the examination and conditions of the Ancestral Sin, from the Ancient Church of St. Irenaeus in comparison to the entire inheritance of the Orthodox and the West until the theology of Thomas Aquinas."
The third reason, therefore, was that when he came to Greece in the 1950's he felt great surprise by the climate he met. After developing his thesis he studied deeper the issue and reached other conclusions, such as the theology of hesychasm and the life of Romiosini. This Romiosini however he saw more in light of the neptic and hesychastic tradition of the Church. I note here that whoever interprets the theory of Fr. John Romanides regarding Romiosini within nationalism and not within the neptic tradition of the Church, which is beyond all nationalism, misinterprets his views.
Therefore, the subsequent studies of Fr. John Romanides are not deprived of his initial studies, as some claim, but they are its positive evolution, that is, towards the pure patristic tradition. Furthermore, those who interpret his teachings within the trends of Monophysitism, Neo-Nestorianism and Origenism also do him injustice. For example, because some see Origenism in some of the views of Fr. John Romanides, I studied the doctrines of Origen which were condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council, as they appear in its surviving Acts, and I did not discern any similarity. If some views of Origen are Orthodox and passed through the Fathers of the Church (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, etc.) in its tradition, we cannot criticize Fr. John. Besides, Fr. John repeatedly in his writings refers to the erroneous views of Origen. I have in mind the transcript of a speech I have, in which he is sharply critical of the views of Origen.
The fourth reason is that Fr. John knew very well the theology of the Russian diaspora, as well as the causes and views of those who were propagating them. He also knew very well German idealism, dialecticalism, and the existentialism of the West, and judged it according to those who developed it or brought it to Greece.
In fact, he supported the view that when one suffers in the physical body by a bacterium or virus, you should find the cause of the infection, where the virus comes from. Similarly, when someone carried a "theological virus or microbe" to Greece, one should examine to find the person who was "infected". He supported the fact that such research in theological literature can demonstrate that a Greek theologian who studied in the West brought to Greece a similar "theological microbe" or "theological virus"!
The conclusion to my thoughts above is that the study of theology in the 1960's should be handled with care and through the perspective of the conditions found above, but it must be underlined with emphasis that Orthodox theology cannot be interpreted within decades, but through the timeless tradition of the Prophets, the Apostles and the Fathers. That is, in Orthodox theology there is no theology of the 1960's, but a theology of the God-seeing Saints, who are counter to the thinking of the philosophers.
From Paremvasis, January 2010. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
By John Sanidopoulos
Monks, firefighters and workers on Mount Athos, without hesitation, are talking about the intervention of the Theotokos in extinguishing the fire late yesterday, which raged ferociously and threatened Hilandari Monastery. Suddenly a cloud darkened the sky right over the area that was burning and a heavy rain fell. This was reported by the Greek news sources Agioritikovima and Romfea, who interviewed monks and firefighters.
It should be noted that the national meteorological service had not foreseen this storm. Because of this heavy rainfall the Monastery was saved from disaster.
Yesterday, at the starting point of the fire, the abbot of Hilandari Monastery did a Sanctification of the Waters service and brought the relics of the Monastery with a copy of the icon of the Panagia of the Three Hands. The miracle is thus seen as a miracle of the Panagia.
The fire continues in other parts of Mount Athos.
In the land of St. Paul's conversion, ancient Catholic and Orthodox communities are finding themselves on the wrong side of an increasingly sectarian conflict.
Bill Spindle and Sam Dagher
August 11, 2012
Near the Syrian city of Aleppo, the Church of St. Simeon the Stylite commemorates the 5th-century ascetic who became an ancient sensation by living atop a tall pedestal for decades to demonstrate his faith. Krak des Chevaliers, an awe-inspiring castle near Homs, was a fortress for the order of the Knights Hospitaller in their quest to defend a crusader kingdom. Seydnaya, a towering monastery in a town of the same name, was probably built in the time of Justinian.
A nun there spoke about Syria's current crisis from within a candlelit alcove this week, surrounded by thousand-year-old votive icons donated by Russian Orthodox churchgoers and silver pendants in the shape of body parts that supplicants have sought to heal—feet, heads, legs, arms, even a pair of lungs and a kidney.
"It's not a small thing we are facing," she said, speaking as much about the country as her faith. "We just want the killing to stop."
Few places are as central as Syria to the long history of Christianity. Saul of Tarsus made his conversion here, reputedly on the Street Called Straight, which still exists in Damascus. It was in these lands that he conducted his first missions to attract non-Jews to the nascent faith.
A century ago, the Levant supported a population that was perhaps 20% Christian. Now it is closer to 5%. Syria today hosts vibrant, if dwindling, communities of various ancient sects: Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics and Armenian Orthodox.
But Syria's Christian communities are being severely tested by the uprising that has racked the country for more than a year. They think back to 636, when the Christian Byzantine emperor Heraclius saw his army defeated by Muslim forces south of present-day Damascus. "Peace be with you Syria. What a beautiful land you will be for our enemies," he lamented before fleeing north to Antioch. In the 8th century, a famed Damascus church was razed to make way for the Umayyad Mosque—today one of Islam's holiest sites.
Not a few Christians in modern-day Syria worry that the current crisis could end the same way for them if Bashar al-Assad and his regime are defeated by the rebel insurgency.
In many ways, it is an odd concern. Christians and Muslims have lived side-by-side with minimal friction during the decades of Assad family rule. Historically, local Christian communities have sometimes even welcomed Muslim overlords when they freed them of heavy-handed rule from Constantinople or Rome. In many places the two groups continue to reach out to each other even now. Even rebel extremists say that they don't have anything against Christians, either.
Yet as the conflict inside the country takes on ever-stronger sectarian overtones, as Christians largely side with the regime or at least decline to actively oppose it, some of the oldest Christian communities on earth are feeling squeezed.
"We have been leading a life that has been the envy of many," says Isadore Battikha, who until 2010 served as the archbishop of Homs, Hama and Yabroud for the Melkite Greek Catholic church. "But today fear is a reality."
Father Battikha is among the many staunch supporters of President Assad in the Christian church hierarchy.
From the very start of the current conflict, history and religion have played a key role in fueling passions on both sides in Syria. And this has become more pronounced as the conflict dragged on, turning bloodier and more vicious.
One of the oft-repeated assertions made by the Syrian regime plays effectively on ancient rivalries. The conflict, it says, is an attempt by neo-Ottomans in Turkey and expansion-minded Muslim ultraconservatives from Saudi Arabia—known as Wahhabis—to gain a foothold in Syria.
This narrative, one of majority Sunni Muslims overwhelming and dominating minorities, is now a staple of nightly news bulletins on Syrian state television. The regime knows well how this message resonates with Christians and other minorities.
The Ottomans, Turks who ruled Syria from 1516 until World War I, relegated Christians to a second-class citizen status. They were allowed to practice their religion and govern themselves in matters that didn't concern the Muslims. But they were also required to pay special taxes, and there were plenty of restrictions on them when it came to interactions with Muslims. Wahhabism, the ascetic and harshly conservative form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, is even tougher on Christians.
Rebels have made it easy for the regime to play on fears such as these. In an effort to inspire their own fighters and curry favor with foreign backers—primarily Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the only other country where Wahhabism is the state religion—some frame the conflict as a struggle to restore the glories of the Islamic caliphates and redeem Syria from the rule of the infidels.
This clearly comes through in the names adopted for the brigades of the Free Syrian Army—the loosely linked grouping of local militias and army defectors. Many of the militias are named after figures revered by Sunni Muslims like the third Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, whose main title was al-Farouq, meaning "distinguisher between truth and falsehood," and the Islamic warrior and military commander Khalid ibn al-Walid.
It was Ibn al-Walid, fighting for the Caliph Umar, that defeated Emperor Heraclius in 636 during the first wave of Muslim conquest to come from the Arabian Peninsula in the years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
The main target of the most sectarian-minded rebels isn't Christians. It is the Alawites, the minority group to which the Assad family belongs. Alawites, who make up about 12% of Syria's population, about the same as Christians, are a heterodox sect that branched off from Islam. They are considered by Muslim extremists to be heretical, far worse than Christians.
Nonetheless, many Christians fear any government that replaces the Assad regime might be dominated by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that could relegate them back to second-class status. They also worry their communities could be devastated in the crossfire between Syria's largely Sunni Muslim insurgency and the well-armed Alawite regime, just as Christians in neighboring Iraq have suffered mightily in the sectarian wars there over the past decade.
The expansion of the conflict to Syria's two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, has amplified the fears of the Christians. They are under pressure from both the regime and rebels to take sides and make their allegiances known. Those who want to avoid taking sides are leaving.
For the time being many Christians, like Muslims and other refugees, have relocated to areas where they feel safer within Syria or in neighboring Lebanon. So far, the pattern in neighboring Iraq—where many Christians have left for good to Western countries—hasn't emerged.
The clearest examples of Christians taking the side of the regime have been in Homs. In the town of Qusayr, southwest of Homs, one Christian family helped aid the security forces by taking up arms and manning checkpoints. The result was a backlash against all Christians there, and the town has largely emptied of Christians since then.
In Wadi al-Nasara—the Valley of Christians, another enclave of some 30 villages west of the city of Homs—a family of pro-regime Christians has fought alongside Alawite loyalists, say residents who recently fled the area. Pro-regime Christians commandeered two palaces in the scenic valley that are owned by Gulf Arab diplomats, they said.
Nearby, Sunni fighters have made a base in the landmark 12th-century Crusader-era castle Krak des Chevaliers. "It is now impossible for a Muslim to come down to the valley," said a resident of the area.
Father Paulo Dall'Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest who lived in Syria for three decades but was expelled by the regime in June, says many members of the church have long-standing ties with the regime and intelligence services that have shaped their stance.
"Many Christians in Syria believe that there's no alternative to the Bashar Assad regime," says Father Dall'Oglio.
Some Christians, though, are striving to bridge that divide, attempting to reach out to the opposition and rebels, or at least cross the sectarian gulf that increasingly separates them.
Basilios Nassar, a Greek Orthodox priest from the central city of Hama, was shot and killed by government snipers in January while he was helping evacuate the wounded in clashes in one neighborhood, Christian activists say.
They say the snipers probably mistook him for an Islamist fighter because of his beard and black robes. His church said he was killed by "an armed terrorist group."
Caroline, a Christian activist who asked to be identified by only her first name, was arrested by security forces in April in Damascus while distributing chocolate Easter eggs to the children of Christian, Sunni and Alawite families displaced by the fighting in Homs.
Paper strips bearing passages from the Quran and the Bible were attached to the eggs. Caroline said this act was part of her attempts to chip away at the barriers now separating Syria's religious groups because of the conflict.
Previously she made it a point to assist the wives and children of men killed in fighting in the predominantly Sunni town of Douma outside Damascus, handing out food provisions and cash envelopes.
She had also sought meetings with church leaders to ask them "not to impose one position on all Christians." She said the majority either scolded her for being against the regime or refused to meet with her.
Father Nawras Sammour, a 44-year-old Jesuit from Aleppo, runs a nationwide relief program known as Jesuit Refugee Services. The group is currently providing assistance to 6,000 Syrian families across the country who are displaced by the violence—Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Druze, Alawite as well as Christian.
He believes only by reaching out across religious divides will Christians continue to be a vibrant presence in these ancient lands. He recognizes the challenges, and says he understands Christian concerns.
"Look at Iraq, look at Egypt," he says, listing neighboring countries where political upheaval and the replacement of an authoritarian ruler with an Islamist resurgence has pummeled long-standing Christian communities. "But despite this we have to build bridges. These are the principles of the gospel. We can't just pick a side and go with them."
Alexander Haddad, a 66-year-old resident of the mountain hamlet of Maalula, is concerned about the fate of his ancient Christian community, but he takes the long view. Like other residents of the town, he speaks a variant of Aramaic, the language used by Jesus himself.
"A lot of people have passed through this country—the Byzantines, the Muslims, Tamerlane, the Mongols, the Ottomans," said Mr. Haddad, seated in the shadow of the convent of St. Thekla, the feminine hero of the biblical legend, the Acts of Paul and Thekla.
"Jesus was from just to the south. St. Paul came to Maalula," he says. "Christianity is very strong here."
Saturday, August 11, 2012
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
How can we overcome the enmity of our enemies? By renunciation, meekness and prayer. Renunciation in everything, except in faith and purity of life, meekness and prayer, always and always. St. Ambrose writes: "This is the weapon of the righteous ones, that in retreating they conquer, just as the skillful archers have the custom that by fleeing, they shoot those stronger than themselves."
A brother was offended by his friend but, nevertheless, desiring peace with him, went to him to be reconciled. However, his friend did not even want to open the door for him and scolding him from within, chased him away from his house. The brother then complained to a spiritual father who said to him: "Going to your friend to be reconciled, all along the way, you condemned him in your thoughts and justified yourself. I counsel you, even though your friend sinned against you, establish the thought in yourself that you have sinned against him and, in this manner, go to him and in your thoughts justify him and condemn yourself." Thus, the brother proceeded. And what happened? Just as the brother approached the house of his friend, he opened wide the door, ran up to him and embraced the offended brother and made peace with him.
1. "Lord, Bless My Enemies": A Prayer
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.
Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.
Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.
They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.
They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.
They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.
They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.
Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.
Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.
Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.
Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.
Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.
Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:
so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;
so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;
so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;
so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;
so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;
ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.
Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.
Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.
A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.
But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
2. Prayer for Enemies
Lord Jesus Christ,
Who didst command us to love our enemies,
and those who defame and injure us,
and to pray for them and forgive them;
Who Thyself didst pray for Thine enemies,
who crucified Thee:
grant us, we pray,
the spirit of Christian reconciliation and meekness,
that we may heartily forgive every injury
and be reconciled with our enemies.
Grant us to overcome the malevolence and offences of people
with Christian meekness and true love of our neighbor.
We further beseech Thee,
O Lord, to grant to our enemies true peace and forgiveness of sins;
and do not allow them to leave this life without true faith and sincere conversion.
And help us repay evil with goodness,
and to remain safe from the temptations of the devil and from all the perils which threaten us,
in the form of visible and invisible enemies.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Interview with the Founder and President of the Orthodox Party in Lebanon, Rodrigue (Dimitri) El Khoury, by Antonia Patsidou
1) The Hellenic Orthodox community in Lebanon, lists over 3,000 Hellenes-Greeks. The Hellenic speaking regions of the country are mainly concentrated in the capital Beirut, and in Tripoli, at North Lebanon. Give us more details on the Hellenic community of Lebanon.
That the Hellenic Orthodox community in Lebanon lists over 3000 Hellenes living in Lebanon, is a wrong idea. The true number is about 300,000 and we are 7-8% of the population, and the fourth biggest community in Lebanon, after Sunnis, Shiits, and Maronites. The number 3000 represents those who have “Greek nationality” from the new Greek state, and those who came to Lebanon from Greece after 1920. But those who have “Hellenic roots”, those who once spoke Greek, those who are named “Rum”(in the Arabic language) are now more than 300,000.
When the Arabs occupied our land in 634 A.D, they called our land “the land of al-Rum” and the first Arab historian al-Wakidi from the 8th century noted that in every Syrian and Lebanese town, the Arab invaders were obliged to talk with our ancestors (al-Rum), in the “Greek language” (lougha Rumia). The same as the Turks after them, they called Greeks “Rum” and the Greek language “Romaic”. After 1400 years of Arab invasions, we are totally Arabized, but we keep our name, “Rum”, and we keep the Greek language in the liturgies. And you should know that the Greek Orthodox community, and the Greek Catholic community (Uniates) have the same roots, and the Greek Catholic community now are about 190,000 in Lebanon. And don’t forget that many Greek philosophers and saints are from Antioch (Saint John Chrysosotom, Saint John of Damascus, Saint Romanos the Melodist, etc.).
2) The Hellenes in Lebanon, although they speak Arabic, keep in their thoughts that they are Greeks, and are forced to accept the Arabism. But what about the propaganda that was made by the political parties trying to convince them that they are Orthodox Arabs or Syrians, but not Hellenes. What exactly happens with this issue?
We still call ourselves “Rum”. In the old Arab manuscripts the name “Rum” in our country means “Greek people”, and the term “lougha Rumia” means “Greek language”. And we are here, many centuries before the Arabs. Papadopoulos, in his book The History of the Antichian Church, says: “The majority of the Antiochian church was Greek” (page 51). And about the Arabization, he says in the same book, “The persecution has been intensified since 773 … The Calipha al-Mansur … prevents the teaching of the Greek language to children. Since that time, the Christians, especially the Orthodox Church, were obliged to translate books into Arabic … and this is what precipitated the Arabization of the Greek people” (page 570, 571). The propaganda of the political parties, influenced by the Muslims, nowadays say to all people that they are “Arabs", and the Christians are from the Arab tribes, which is not the truth. They teach this wrong idea in schools (Syria), and in Lebanon many of the people repeat this wrong idea without any historical references, and without searching the historical truth. The propaganda of the Maronite parties say to our “Orthodox youth” that we are all Christian “Syriacs”, not Hellenes, and the “Rums” were invaders, as the “Arabs”. And many members of the “Rum” population repeat this idea without any awareness, influenced by the strong Maronite media. The truth is: in this land there once existed many nations-communities. The Syriacs (Maronites), the Hellenes (Rum), and the Arabs (Muslims). We should accept the “plurality” of this area, because it is the “historically true one” not the “ideological one”.
3) The Greek Orthodox Youth of Lebanon are the descendants of the Greeks of Antioch, namely they are Greeks from the Hellenistic era. There is an effort on your part to found a political party for the Greek Orthodox community. What are the objectives of the party?
Only by insisting on this “plurality” can we save our community from being absorbed. The Lebanese regime is a sectarian regime. We have 128 deputees, 64 must be Muslims, and 64 must be Christians. 14 deputees is the quote of the Greek Orthodox community. The Vice Prime Minister also must be a Greek Orthodox. Every community in Lebanon has its own political party, that’s why they are strong in politics. The Maronites have their political parties (kataeb, the Lebanese forces, the fpm, and the marada), the Sunni community has the “future movement” and the Islamic organizations, the Shiits have the Hezbollah and Amal, the Druze have their parties. Even the Armenian community (1%) of the population is strong in political life and they can have their own representatives in the parliament and the government, because they have their own party. The Greek Orthodox community (7% of the population) has 14 deputees, none of them have “a Greek Orthodox” speech, no one of them come from “a Greek Orthodox” party. The leaders of the other communities elect OUR representatives, that’s why our Orthodox deputees speak of the interests of the other communities. To satisfy the “Maronites leaders” or the “Muslim leaders” to elect them another time in there electoral regulations. We have to organize ourselves in a political party to strengthen our political presence, not only in Lebanon, but in Syria too and in Jordan. We have to organize ourselves in a political party to save our historical identity, the “Byzantine-Hellenic” identity. In this way there will be no more absorbing our youth in the other’s political ideologies. That’s why we have to teach the Greek language to our youth, we have to make conferences about this historical identity, and this year we made the first “liturgy in the east” commemorating the fall of OUR City (Poli) Constantinople, to keep our historical identity alive. In our speech we said: "Hagia Sophia is ours”, and we made this liturgy with greetings from the Greek Orthodox of Antioch and all the East to our Ecumenical Patriarchate, saying: "Our Patriarch of Constantinople is an ecumenical authority, any violation to his rights is an offensive act against all the Orthodox people in the world”. And for the first time we talked to the Lebanese media about this cause and this historical event.
4) Since the civil war started in Syria, thousands of Christians have been killed by Muslim mujahideen guerrillas. Many of them are Greek Orthodox Christians, mostly Hellene Macedonians and Hellenes of the Byzantine period. What is your information on this issue?
Our Greek Orthodox community in Syria live in a dangerous situation. The Islamic fundamentalists nowadays, supported by western “stupid” politics, attack many old Christian monuments, especially in Homs Emesa, the town of the big Greek Saint Romanos the Melodist. Nowadays 130,000 Greek Orthodox are displaced from this town to the Alawite area or at Lebanon. They attack our brothers there, and threaten them, and the western media support these fundamentalists without asking the Greek Orthodox population of Syria if it will be better for them to restore an “Islamic fundamentalist regime”. I can say, even in Syria, only by creating a Greek Orthodox political party can we save our presence. Not to be used by the others conflicts - 13% of the Syrian population is Greek Orthodox, more than 1,200,000. By founding a political party for this big community, you can imagine what an influence we will have. We will be more strong and we can say: our party, our community will never be involved in your conflicts. We have our rights and we are here to take them by creating this party. We can make the convergence between all the communities. And we can defend OUR rights.
5) What message would you like to send in Greek to your brothers in Hellas?
We are proud of our Greek ancestry. Do not forget that here in the East, you have Greek brothers, and WE LOVE YOU. We are the Acritan temples [Acritans were the Byzantine border guards] and we will keep the flame in our hands, the flame of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.
Source: Edited by John Sanidopoulos
April 11, 2011
This question might immediately make most of my regular readers do somersaults. I nearly did the first time I encountered this argument, told to me by a friend. The argument deals with the faithful Centurion found both in Matthew's gospel and Luke, and deals mainly with Matthew's passage.
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it."
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment. [Matthew 8:5-13; NASB]
Those who read this passage may immediately be wondering, So...where is homosexuality in all of that? The key in the argument is the original Greek of verse 6:
καὶ λέγων κύριε ὁ παῖς μου βέβληται έν τῇ οἰκίᾳ παραλυτικός δεινῶς βασανιζόμενος
The centurion refers to his "servant" with ὁ παῖς (shown in bold). The argument is that the Greek word refers to a homosexual lover. To quote one presentation on this argument:
In the most common English translations, we read this passage and have no idea the context of this encounter between the Roman centurion and Jesus. The key word is "pais", which is often translated as "servant" or "boy". However, most scholars believe that the term pais in the ancient world was a well-known idiom referring to a male concubine (often younger) and an explicitly homosexual relationship.
Kenneth J. Dover, noted authority on ancient Greece, in his book, Greek Homosexuality, tells us the younger partner in a homosexual relationship is called pais or paidika.
Dr. Robert Gagnon, arguably the foremost anti-gay scholar of our day, writes that pais can refer to a partner in a homosexual relationship. He writes:
“boy” (pais) could be used of any junior partner in a homosexual relationship, even one who was fullgrown.” Dr. Robert Gagnon ("The Bible And Homosexual Practice", p. 163, footnote 6.)
In fact, the overwhelming historical evidence (and perhaps, the implication of Luke 7:2, which literally translates as "had much love for") is that the Centurion and his "pais" were likely involved in a homosexual relationship that was very common in the ancient world. It is worth noting that this kind of relationship is one that today, we would almost universally condemn since it was between and older man and a young pubescent boy. However, these relationships were very common. [source]
Let's review the problems with this argument in two parts...
1) The Lexical Game
The "lexical game" is what I refer to when a person takes the various definitions of a word, finds the one they like best, and essentially ignores the context or use of the word in the individual passage. While παῖς is indeed the word used here in Matthew's account of the faithful centurion, it is not the only time the word is used in the Gospels. Some other times the exact form of παῖς is found:
- In Matthew 12:38, in reference to Christ
- In Matthew 17:18, in reference to the young man whom Christ expelled a mute demon from for the boy's father
- In Luke 2:43, in which it talks of "the boy Jesus" staying behind in Jerusalem
- In Luke 8:54, in reference to the young girl whom Christ raises from the dead
- In John 4:51, in reference to the nobleman's child rising at Christ's command
As we can see here, there are at least five other references to παῖς outside of the faithful Centurion story, and none of them deal, within the context, of a young homosexual lover. Some of them are obviously not speaking of a sexual connotation (such as Matt 12:38 and Luke 2:43) while others are not speaking about sexual connotations given the context (such as Matt 17:18 or Luke 8:54).
Does the word even mean a "young homosexual lover"? I'm sure in some parts of ancient Greece it might have been written to refer to such a person, but the question is whether or not it could be understood here. Some comments from various concordances and lexicons regarding the word:
child, maiden, servant, young man. - Perhaps from paio; a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy), a girl, and (genitive case) a child; specially, a slave or servant (especially a minister to a king; and by eminence to God) -- child, maid(-en), (man) servant, son, young man. [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance]
Definition - a child, boy, youth [NAS Exhaustive Concordance]
Definition: (a) a male child, boy, (b) a male slave, servant; thus: a servant of God, especially as a title of the Messiah, (c) a female child, girl. [biblos.com]
The Greek term here is παῖς (pais), often used of a slave who was regarded with some degree of affection, possibly a personal servant... [from the NET notes on Matthew 8:6]
As we can see, most basic Biblical sources point to it referring to a young man or "boy." John Gill and A.T. Robertson likewise say that the word παῖς is used here in reference simply to a youth, with no sexual connotations.
2) Does Luke 7:2 mean anything?
The author of the quoted article states that there is "implication" in Luke 7:2, as it says the Centurion "had much love for" his παῖς. However, this is just one translation - in fact, I couldn't find a translation that bore those exact words. The closest translation that comes to it is the KJV with "who was dear unto him."
The Greek word used in Luke 7:2 which the author translates as "have much love for" is actually ἔντιμος, which means "to regard or value highly." Many translations - such as the NASB, NIV, NRSV and ESV - translate the word in Luke 7:2 in such a manner. Various cases of the word are used across the New Testament, including 1 Peter 2:4 and 6, Luke 14:8, and Philippians 2:29. A quick examination of the context of all these passages will show that it does not refer to the kind of eros love which the article's author is trying to promote. When the passage says that the Centurion had much ἔντιμος for his servant, it meant that the Centurion had much respect and care for those who worked under him - not that the Centurion had any kind of sexual interest in him.
One notable factor about Luke 7:2 that those who make the παῖς argument seem to miss is that Luke has the Centurion refer to the boy as δοῦλος. He then uses παῖς in verse 7 in reference to the same person. What does this mean? That δοῦλος and παῖς are being used interchangeably (as some Greek words often are), and therefore the true context of παῖς is a young male servant...not a young homosexual concubine.
All in all, there are no homosexual connotations in this passage. Anyone who argues so is either playing lexical games or reading too much into the text.
August 09, 2012
Pilgrims from across the world traveled here Wednesday to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the canonization of St. Herman of Alaska.
The annual pilgrimage drew around 100 people who arrived by boat to visit the holy site where Orthodox Christianity celebrates its roots in America.
Bells rang as the Orthodox ministers arrived and made their way up the path to the St. Herman's Chapel, followed by the crowd of pilgrims.
St. Herman was part of the Russian mission that came to Kodiak in 1794. He helped convert the Native population to Christianity, but eventually came into conflict with the Russians about their treatment of the Native people. As a sort of exile, he moved to Spruce Island where he lived a monastic life in the early 1800s.
"St. Herman who lived here on Spruce Island is a Saint who is known throughout the Orthodox world," Archbishop Benjamin Peterson of San Francisco and the West, and acting Diocese of Alaska, told the Kodiak Daily Mirror. "I think a lot of people feel connected to him because he's closer to our time. He's not really a remote figure."
St. Herman was canonized in 1970, and is buried in Kodiak. He was the first Orthodox saint in North America.
The divine liturgy lasted about two hours and included prayer, Scripture readings, a sermon and communion. Twelve members of the St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church in Kalskag led the choir services; it was the group's first time on the pilgrimage.
After the divine liturgy, some pilgrims paid tribute to St. Herman by visiting his original grave site located underneath the chapel.
Pilgrims also visited the St. Herman's spring to drink fresh holy water, and the homes and grave sites of Father Peter Kreta and Rev. Archimandrite Gerasim Schmaltz, the men who came after St. Herman and carried on his legacy.
Bishop Nikolai of Salavat and Kumertau, head of Bashkiryan Metropolia in Ufa, Russia, traveled from Russia with eight other pilgrims.
"This holiday is very important, not only for Alaska or for Kodiak, but for Christians from all over the world," he said. "You can see that today. It's amazing because it's a very small place."
People in attendance were from Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Mexico, Pennsylvania, Missouri, California, Alaska, and other places in the U.S.
Metropolitan Christopher, Archbishop of Prague and the head of the Orthodox Christian Church in the Czech Republic and Slovakia was supposed to be in attendance, but had to return home due to a death in the church.
After the divine liturgy, the pilgrims had a picnic on the beach before heading back to Kodiak.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Ksenia Dmitrievna Afanasyeva (b. September 13, 1991) is a Russian artistic gymnast. She is the 2011 World Champion on the floor exercise, and represented Russia at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
In the photo above, Ksenia Afanasyeva holds an icon of her patron Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg after her performance during the artistic gymnastics women's floor exercise final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday Aug. 7, 2012, in London. Afanasyeva placed the icon near the mat prior to her performance.
Prior to the Olympics, Ksenia Afanasyeva and her teammates Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina, lit candles at a Russian Orthodox Church on media day.
Read also: The Fervent Orthodox Faith of Greek Olympians
January 12, 2011
Science cannot explain a mystery of the cloud that descends on Mount Tabor each year. Mt. Tabor is where, according to the Bible, the Transfiguration of the Lord took place.
Komsomolskaya Pravda daily writes:
"Sergey Mirov, a participant in the research organized this summer by the working group on miraculous signs at the Synodal Theological Commission, said the investigation was conducted by Russian and Israeli meteorologists. According to him, summing up the results, the experts concluded that fog cannot be generated in such dry air and temperature."
Mirov stressed that the "descending of the blessed cloud" takes place only in a territory of the Orthodox monastery. He said that during a festival service a glaring sphere rushes over believers, then the cloud appears above the cross of the Transfiguration Church; it grows in dimensions and descends on believers, covering them and pouring life-giving moisture over them.
Interfax reports: "In his turn Pavel Florensky, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences academician and head of the working group on miraculous signs, said that his team examined the appearance of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Easter eve with the help of modern highly accurate equipment."
"The conclusion is simple: the appearance of fire is accompanied with powerful piezoelectrical phenomenon in the church and adjacent territories similar to those that take place during thunderstorms, but there was no thunderstorm... Thus, it means that this event can be considered miraculous," he believes.
The Monastery of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
Already in the 4th century the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Empress Helena built a temple in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor. At the end of the 11th century the Crusaders, having seized Palestine, have found a few temples and monasteries on Tabor and converted them to Roman Catholic. During the victory of the Saracens over Palestine at the end of the 12th century, the Taborite holy places were destroyed. For a long time the holy mount remained uninhabited and only on the day of Transfiguration the Orthodox and Catholics performed church services on the ruins of the former temples. In 1849 the Patriarch of Jerusalem Cyril II started to strive for permission from the Turkish government to construct a temple on Tabor. The decision was implemented only in 1860 when a temple was built on the ruins of an ancient Greek church. Above the door of the temple is an inscription in Greek: "On the ancient ruins on Mount Tabor a sacred temple of our Divine Lord and Savior of the Transfiguration is providentially constructed under the auspices of the Most Blessed Patriarch of Jerusalem Cyril II at the expense of the Brotherhood of the All-Holy Sepulcher".
In Russia there is also a memorial of the glorious Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor. In the Moscow All Sorrows Church and in the church in the village of Novospassky (Dedenevo, Moscow Province) where stones from Mount Tabor brought there a very long time ago are kept. There is a basis for thinking that these memorials on the sacred mount for Christians are not unique in our temples.
August 7, 2012
A historic monument of the medieval period, the Church of St. George, in the walled area of occupied Famagusta in Cyprus, is used as a receptor of uncleanness, according to a report in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havantis.
The newspaper writes that there are many historical monuments in the walled city that are crumbling from disrepair, and so do not attract visitors.
Apart from wild grasses in the courtyards of many churches, during the night, some people consume alcohol within the church, leaving their garbage and cause environmental pollution.
The Havantis writes that neglected are also the churches of St. Simeon, Holy Zoni and St. Nicholas.
August 8, 2012
A place known as a place of martyrdom in the northwestern province of Balıkesir’s Erdek district and visited on Victory Day each Aug. 30 for the last 30 years has been revealed to actually be a Byzantine cemetery thanks to an inspection by the district governorship and Garrison Command. The location has since been removed from this year’s Victory Day program.
A 10-person committee inspected the region and announced that it contained many Byzantine graves, Erdek District Governor İsmail Kaygısız said. The same region was found to also contain the graves of locals and foreigners, he said.
“When graves of martyrs were not found in the region in documents, the Garrison Command determined that the place was not one of martyrdom. This is why we have cancelled the visit to the place and removed it from the Victory Day program,” Kaygısız said.
Erdek Mayor Hüseyin Aysan said the Erdek Mufti had wanted to build in the region after developments but the demand was rejected by the High Council of Monuments because of the Byzantine graves.