Mittwoch, 7. August 2019

The Orthodox Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex has a new Abbot

The Old Rectory, Rectory Road, Tolleshunt Knights, By Maldon, Essex CM9 8EZ, United Kingdom
Tel.: (+44) (0) 1621 816 471

The Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist is a monastic community for both men and women, directly under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is located in Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England.
The community consists of men and women living the monastic tradition of a Christ-centered prayer life for the monastic members. Currently, the majority of the community are nuns (~15-20), with a smaller number of monks.
The Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist had its beginnings largely in the person of Elder Sophrony (Sakharov). After his departure from Mount Athos and his subsequent move to Paris, he was to live in a Russian old-age home, assisting the priest.
In 1958, Elder Sophrony had six people living around him, seeking the monastic life. Realising that such a situation could not continue, he went to Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex, England to inspect a property; in the spring of 1959, the new Community of St John the Baptist was formed at the same property, under the omophorion of Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh (Patriarchate of Moscow). The monastery, from its beginnings, had both monks and nuns, due to Elder Sophrony being unable to oversee two separate communities.
The Monastery of St John the Baptist moved under the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1965, becoming Patriarchal; later, the monastery would also be titled ‘Stavropegic’.

The new Abbot is hieromonk Petros (Vryzas), born in 1977 in Greece and since 2002 a monk in the monastery of JOhn the Baptist, a disciple o Elder Zacharias (Zacharou).
May God give him wisdom and  strength for every (spiritual) battle.

sources: ,

In San Giorgio dei Greci, Venezia

The monastery o Temptation - Το μοναστήρι των Πειρασμών.

The Monastery of the Temptation is a Greek Orthodox Monastery in Jericho, Palestine, constructed by the Byzantines in the 6th century, on the mountain on which Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40-day fast. 

Monk Jerasimos has passed away recently. 

With the Saints give rest O Christ, to the souls of thy servants.

Orthodox Church in Africa: August 6 & 7: The Light of Transfiguration of the Lord & the day of the 10.000 African Orthodox Saints!


August: the holy month of the Virgin Mary (with the "Easter of the Summer") in the Orthodox Church!...

"In giving birth you preserved your virginity,
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death".

 The feast of the Assumption of Mother of God (Theotokos), August 15, 2015, in the Orthodox Holy Metropolis of Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Georgios N. Manolis, Theologian: The Participation of Nature in Worship: the Blessing of the Fruits of the Vine

According to Saint Basil the Great, nothing exists without due cause, nothing’s fortuitous, everything has some secret and unexpressed wisdom. Thus, regarding plants and their fruits, apart from their ecological importance as producers of eco-systems they’re also schools for rational souls and colleges of the knowledge of God, which train the intellect and lead it from the visible and tangible to the contemplation of things invisible.
Plants form an important element in the worship of the Orthodox Church. During the Divine Liturgy, bread and wine are used, the products of grain and grape. During the service of the Blessing of the Loaves, grain, wine and oil are blessed. Besides, in accordance with liturgical practice the fruits of the earth, such as grapes and figs, are offered and blessed once they’re ripe. Indeed, in general, every action and task linked to the earth and its cultivation is accompanied either by thanksgiving to the Creator or by supplications that the tilling and harvesting should provide plenteous amounts of fine fruit.

There was always a tradition in the Church that, when the bread and wine were being offered at the Eucharist, other produce and fruits of the earth could also be offered and blessed. But to preserve the tradition of offering only bread and wine at the sacrament of the Divine Eucharist the Church forbade the custom of presenting non-Eucharistic produce during the actual celebration of the Eucharist.
All that was allowed by the Church was the offering of grain and grapes, with the explanation that this offering took place at the time when fruits ripened and this was to be a blessing of the first-fruits and was by way of an expression of thanks to God for the abundance and fertility of the earth. From as early as the third century we have prayers for the first-fruits, thanksgiving to God Who had given them for the gladdening and nourishment of people. The first-fruits were brought to church as a pleasing and grateful gesture to Him.
As regards the blessing of the fruit of the vine we can see that this is an ancient tradition of the Church, for which there are two ceremonies in the Service Book of the Church of Constantinople and imperial ritual. Therefore according to ancient custom, the Church always blessed the harvest and the grapes. Indeed, a canon was introduced establishing that grain and bread be blessed before they were eaten at the beginning of the harvest.

A continuation of this tradition is the blessing of the grapes at the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ the Saviour. We have a manuscript from the 10th century containing a prayer through which the Church thanks God Who was pleased to ensure that the fruit ripened, was harvested and brought gladness to people through its taste. Wine, a product of the grape, was also offered as a gift to be included in the celebration of the Divine Eucharist. There is also another, later, prayer which mentions the blessing of only the grapes, with a clear reference to the spiritual freedom guaranteed by Christ through the Eucharistic life.
It’s interesting that in certain liturgical rubrics, the blessing of the fruit of the vine takes place on the feast of Dormition of the Mother of God, after the Divine Liturgy. This was the case in Constantinople, where the Patriarch blessed the grapes on that day, in the church of Our Lady of Blachernae, in the presence of the Emperor. From other texts, it appears that the offering took pace at the feast of the Elevation of the Precious Cross. It is clear, then, that the time of the blessing of the fruit of the vine depended on the conditions prevailing in nature in each region and on the time at which they ripened.
If we wish to see the theological connection between the feast and the blessing of the fruit of the vine, our thoughts will inevitably turn to the parable of the vine, where Christ is presented as the true vine. With the blessing of the grapes, it is emphasized that people have a need of spiritual productivity and a transformational advancement towards sanctity, glorification by Grace, and communion with God. Moreover, Christ is the vine which has its roots in heaven and its branches on earth. The body- though not the root- was pruned and on the third day thereafter brought forth the fruit of the Resurrection.

It follows, then, that, with the Lord’s Transfiguration, at which His glory was revealed, the world is illumined and glorified. Consequently, creation responds with glorification and gratitude to this gift and the Church continues to bless the world and it first-fruits. This blessing of the fruits emphasizes the creation’s offering of praise and gratitude to the Creator. Besides, the grape is the fruit that gives us wine, which we offer together with bread so that they become the Body and Blood of Christ. By partaking of these, we become one in body and blood with Christ.
We, as people, received the world, blessed and sanctified, from God’s hands. Between us and our environment there was harmony and co-operation. The Fall also brought about the decay of creation, since thereafter it followed the same path as we did. After our disobedience and estrangement from God we began abusing and exploiting creation. Nature rebelled numerous times against us and opposed us, with the result that instead of functioning constructively and positively towards us, it often became negative and destructive. We feel it threatens us. The turmoil in our relations with God has brought about disruption in our relations with His creation, nature.
As Christians, however, we should not see nature as being de-sanctified but should view it as the creation and gift of God. We should feel that, in the world, we’re within the creative love of God. We Christians feel the need to respond to this love, to take elements from the material world and to offer them to God. We bring bread and wine, representative elements of the material world, in thanks to God and, after their sanctification, they’re offered back to us as the Body and Blood of Christ. In this way, we acquire a foretaste of the world as it will be transfigured in Christ in the end times.

source and thanks to:

Mittwoch, 17. Juli 2019


The Holy Victorious Martyr Marina

The Holy Victorious Martyr Marina – 17 July

Saint Marina was from a village in Pisidia, the daughter and only child of a certain Aidesios, a pagan priest, and lived in the reign of Emperor Claudius II. When she was twelve, her mother died and she was given into the charge of another woman and she asked of God to be granted the faith of the Christians, which was being taught in the village by some of them at that time. When she became fifteen, in 270, she had a desire to die as a martyr for the love of Christ. With one occasion, the governor Olymbrius sent people to arrest her and cast her into prison. After several days had passed, she was fetched from the prison and appeared in court before him. But when he saw her, he was astonished at her beauty.
He asked her name and her circumstances and she replied: “I’m called Marina; I was born and bred in Pisidia; and I call upon the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ”. Since she wouldn’t consent to deny Christ, the governor ordered that she be stretched out on the ground and beaten mercilessly with rods.

She was brought to a second examination and, because of her persistence in the Christian faith, was burned with lighted candles and placed head-down in a vat full of water. Since she remainesd unharmed, she attracted many unbelievers to faith in Christ who were beheaded and won crowns for their efforts. The governor then became angry and struck off the saint’s head. Her synaxis is held in the church of Saint Minas.
(Saint Nikodimos,  Συναξαριστής τ. ΣΤ΄-Ιούλιος, Αύγουστος, New Skete, Holy Mountain, pp. 80-2)

Finnish Church celebrates canonization of St. John of Sonkajanranta

 Sonkajanranta, Finland, July 15, 2019

 On November 29, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople announced its decision to glorify among the saints the holy Martyr and Confessor John of Sonkajanranta (1884-1918) at the proposal of the Finnish Orthodox Church, an autonomous body within the Patriarchate.
Johannes Vasilinpoika Karhapää was an Orthodox missionary who was killed by the White Guards during the Finnish civil war. Schema-Abbot John of Valaam was canonized on the same day, which was liturgically celebrated on June 1.
The liturgical proclamation of this glorification was celebrated on Saturday at the Church of the Holy Prophetess of God Anna in Sonkajanranta in southeastern Finland by His Eminence Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and All Finland, with the concelebration of several other hierarchs from the Finnish Church, reports the Finnish Church.
A large number of clergy and faithful from throughout Finland, including relatives of the newly-canonized saint, were present for the festal Divine Liturgy. The small church was filled to overflowing, with many faithful watching a broadcast of the service in the courtyard. 

Abp. Leo addressed the gathered faithful with a sermon about the labors of the holy Martyr John and Protodeacon Juha Pessie read out the life of the new saint. Following the Divine Liturgy, a solemn procession was held with the icon of the saint to a memorial cross erected in his honor in the 1980s, where a moleben was served.
Following the moleben to St. John, all the guests were treated to a festive lunch. The official celebrations then finished with the chanting of an akathist to St. John at the memorial cross. All present were blessed with the gift of a memorial icon of St. John. 

St. John was born in 1884 in the Sonkajanranta village in Ilomantsi. He married and had two children, and was married a second time after his wife died in 1910.
He developed a strong and active Orthodox faith in his childhood. In response to fervent Lutheran missionary work, St. John founded an Orthodox school and association as a subdivision of the Sts. Sergius and Herman Brotherhood that actively countered the Protestant propaganda.
St. John also worked as a traveling catechist in Ilomantsi, and in 1914, he was appointed as a teacher of religion for the entire Kuopio Province. His great activity also earned him a number of enemies who called him a henchman of the tsarist regime and even accused him of being a spy.
In 1915, the Church of St. Anna, where the glorification of St. John was celebrated, was built for the school he had founded. St. John received a number of distinctions for his zealous teaching and missionary work, though he was also hated as a propagator of the “Russian faith.” Accusations against him intensified following the Russian revolution in 1917 and he was also accused of being a Bolshevik. St. John never responded to any of the heinous accusations.
Eventually he was slandered among the Orthodox faithful as well, and it was demanded that he be removed from his Church positions. Having lost the support of the local archbishop as well, St. John was seen as a criminal in the turmoil of the Finnish civil war.
St. John and his brother were arrested in March 1918 after a small icon was found in his pocket. They were locked up in the basement of the Joensuu town hall with other prisoners. He was later shot by a group of rowdy White Guards. The exact date of his execution is unclear.
His wife was able to obtain his body only months later, and he was buried in Ilomantsi with a large group of Orthodox and Lutherans attending.
Troparion, Tone 2
Thy martyr John, O Lord / rejoices crowned as a saint in Heaven / as the first-begotten of our people, / for spurred on by Thee, he served for the good of the true faith even unto death. // By his prayers have mercy upon our souls.
Troparion, Tone 5
The faithful bow to thee today, John, / Instructor of the word of God, / for difficult was thy path, of fervent faith and Divine inspiration, / and as an innocent victim brutally murdered / thou dost abide in the joy of the Heavenly Kingdom. // Therefore we honor thee as a martyr. 

Source and thanks to:

Die Anatomie der heutigen Religiosität - Lambros Skontzos, Theologe

In der heutigen Zeit erfährt die Menschheit bekanntlich eine noch nie dagewesene spirituelle Verwirrung. Die radikalen Entwicklungen, Ende des letzten Jahrhunderts, läuteten den vollkommenen Zusammenfall und Konkurs der vorherrschenden Ideologien ein, des Marxismus, des Nihilismus und gottlosen Existentialismus.
Zweifellos resultierte aus dem Zusammenfall und Konkurs dieser atheistischen und materialistischen (philosophischen) Systeme unmittelbar, dass sich der heutige Mensch der Religion zuwendete. In Ländern, in denen Atheismus herrschte, und zwar aufgezwungener Atheismus, kann man ein unerwartetes Wiederaufblühen der Religiosität bemerken. Frühere Atheisten, insbesondere Marxisten, bekehrten sich zur Religiosität, nachdem sie zu „ideologisch Heimatlosen“ geworden waren, nur dass diese Religiosität in großem Maße kein „gesunder“, sondern vielmehr ein krankhafter seelischer und spiritueller Zustand ist, der von beispiellosem Mystizismus und Okkultismus durchwachsen ist. Denn für diese Menschen, denen die Dogmen des Atheismus und der Eudämonie jahrzehntelang eingetrichtert wurden, ist es sehr schwierig, eine gesunde Religiosität zu erleben, und noch viel mehr, des christlichen Glaubens teilhaftig zu werden, der an Konditionen und Beschränkungen geknüpft ist.
Mystizismus und Okkultismus sind ein Ersatz des Glaubens an Gott durch einen Glauben an „okkulte Kräfte“, die angeblich im inneren Menschen oder in der Natur existieren und angeblich eine vorherrschende Rolle im menschlichen Leben spielen sollen. Diejenigen, die den Okkultismus propagieren, lassen überdies verlauten, dass diese Wendung zum Glauben an diese „okkulten Kräfte“ eine vermeintliche „spirituelle Revolution“ darstelle, sowie „die Befreiung des Menschen aus dem unterdrückenden monotheistischen Joch der vergangenen zwei Jahrtausende“!
Diese „spirituelle Revolution“ wird von den Anführern des weltweiten Okkultismus „Neues Zeitalter“ („New Age“) genannt und mit sonderbaren, primitiven und irrationalen Kulten aus dem Spektrum der Astrologie vereint. Irgendwann, so behaupten sie, Ende des letzten Jahrhunderts, seien wir in das „Wassermannzeitalter eingetreten“. Denn die „Bahn unseres Sonnensystems wandere“, ihrer Paradoxologie zufolge, in ein anderes Sternzeichen des himmlischen Tierkreiszeichens „über“, sodass ein entsprechendes „Neues Zeitalter“ beginne. Das letzte „Zeitalter“ sei das Fischezeitalter“ gewesen, und damit das des Christentums, da das kryptographische (griechische) Wort und Geheimzeichen «ΙΧΘΥΣ» (Fisch), mit dem sich die ersten Christen während der Christenverfolgungen gegenseitig erkennen konnten, auch Christus symbolisiert. Das Wort «ΙΧΘΥΣ» bedeutet «ησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ» (Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn, Erlöser). Dank dieses heiligen christlichen Geheimzeichens „tauften“ die Okkultisten das christliche Zeitalter „Fischezeitalter“. Sie behaupten, dass wir Anfang des 3. Jahrtausends n. Chr. in das Sternbild des Wassermanns „gewechselt sind“, ins „Neue Wassermannzeitalter“ eintraten und für immer das christliche Zeitalter, das „Fischezeitalter“ und damit ebenso das Christentum, hinter uns ließen! Um Missverständnissen vorzubeugen möchte ich an dieser Stelle betonen, dass alldem keine wirklichen wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse zugrunde liegen und es sich um willkürliche Definitionen von Okkultisten handelt. Kein seriöser Wissenschaftler teilt diese haltlosen und kindhaft lächerlichen Theorien.
Das „Neue Wassermannzeitalter“ habe die Menschheit, den Worten der Okkultisten zufolge, in einen „neuen spirituellen Weg“ eingeführt. Es habe uns vorgeblich die „heiß ersehnte Freiheit“ beschert, nach welcher „der Mensch seit Jahrhunderten suchte“. „Ein versiegeltes Geheimnis“ soll gelüftet worden sein, dass nämlich „der Mensch ein Gott“ sei und in dieser „glorreichen Zeitperiode“ dazu aufgefordert werde, sich seines „Gottseins“ bewusst zu werden und es „zu seinem Glück zu nutzen“! Überdies offenbare sich ihm noch eine „verborgene Wahrheit“ (wobei es sich natürlich um eine vollkommene Lüge handelt), dass es „keinen personalen Gott“ gebe, sondern nur eine nebelhafte „unpersönliche Energie“, sodass der Mensch Angst und Sorge vor Strafe in der Welt und nach dem Tode abwerfen könne.
Zusätzlich gibt der Glaube in die Seelenwanderung Anlass zu Furchtlosigkeit vor möglichen Konsequenzen nach dem Tode, da der Mensch mit dem „weltlichen Karma“ verbunden bleibe, dass er mit weltlichen Mühen zu „erfüllen“ genötigt sei. Mit dem „personalen Gott“ sei außerdem jeder Sittenkodex „gestorben“, da das „Neue Zeitalter“ die Existenz von „Gut“ und „Böse“ abstreitet, und an deren Stelle die erfolgreiche oder -lose menschliche „Selbstverwirklichung“ setzt!
Ferner sei angeführt, dass diese Kulte in östlichen Religionen ihren Ursprung haben (Hinduismus, Buddhismus, Lamaismus, Taoismus etc.), die in die westliche Welt Einzug gehalten haben und von denen die westlichen Menschen, die nicht von (wahrer) Spiritualität kosten konnten, mit ihrer ganzen „Spiritualität“ und Praxis, ergriffen sind.
Den „unpersönlichen Gott“ haben im Okkultismus und Mystizismus die „mystischen Kräfte“ ersetzt, ob es sich um astrale (astrologischer Okkultismus), oder aber irdische (naturverehrender Okkultismus) handelt. Bemerkenswert dabei ist, dass im Okkultismus und die Esoterik des Neuen Zeitalters, wenngleich die personale Hypostase Gottes geleugnet wird, dennoch personale astrale und okkulte Kräfte akzeptiert werden, die angeblich eine entscheidende Rolle im Leben des Menschen spielen. Um sie zu „bändigen“ und sich diese „zunutze zu machen“, sei es notwendig, „okkulte Techniken“ zu verwenden, wie unter anderem Magie, Spiritismus, Hellseherei, Astrologie, Yoga, transzendentale Meditation und eine Reihe von alten und neuen Formen des Aberglaubens. Und all dies in Verbindung mit der Seelenwanderung, der grundlegenden „Metaphysik“ des „Neuen Zeitalters“. Selbstverständlich handelt es sich bei diesen Kräften für uns Christen um dämonische Kräfte, unreine Geister, deren ausschließliches Bestreben darin liegt, die Menschen vom Glauben an Gott und Seiner Gnade zu entfernen, und damit an ihrer Erlösung zu hindern!
In diesem Rahmen wird in den letzten Jahren ein Anstieg an „Okkultismus-Verwaltern“ beobachtet, die da sind: Magier, Spiritisten, Medien, Hellseher (in Tarotkarten lesen, Arithmomagie, Kaffeesatzlesen etc.), Astrologen, Pseudoheiler u.a., die allzeit und mit finanziellem Gewinn die Religiosität von tausenden von Menschen bestimmen und lenken. Es ist schon soweit, dass jede Nachbarschaft über einen Kaffeesatzleser, ein Medium, einen Astrologe und einen Hypnotiseur verfügt! Nicht selten nutzen sie sogar die Massenmedien, um für ihre Dienste zu werben, ohne sich vor dem Gesetz fürchten zu müssen, obwohl nebst der okkulten Praxis oftmals auch Betrug gegeben ist. Nicht wenige Fälle von Betrug und Ausbeutung naiver Opfer durch „Okkultismus-Verwalter“ haben das Licht der Öffentlichkeit gesehen und bestätigen die Krankhaftigkeit der heutigen Religiosität.
Unser christlicher Glaube stellt sich dieser heutigen falschen Religiosität entgegen, und zwar in ihrer authentischen Form, der Orthodoxie. Der selige amerikanische orthodoxe Archimandrit und zeitgenössische Heilige, Vt. Seraphim Rose, hatte bereits vor einem halben Jahrhundert diese unerwartete Erscheinung der falschen Religiosität vorausgesagt. Doch er sagte ebenfalls etwas Hoffnungsvolles voraus: Dass sich unsere Orthodoxie in den vorherrschenden Glauben des 21. Jahrhunderts entwickeln würde! In freudiger Erwartung, dass der Menschheit bewusst werde, dass sie einen falschen spirituellen Weg eingeschlagen hat und sich ihr das „wahre Licht der Welt“ (Joh 8,12) offenbare, unserem Herrn, Jesus Christus, dem einzigen Erlöser und Erretter der Welt, Dem man in Seiner Kirche begegnen und erleben kann, in der Orthodoxie, der Einen, Heiligen, Katholischen und Apostolischen Kirche, Seiner einzigen und wahren Kirche!
Übersetzung: Alexia Ghika- Kyriazi