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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Google Removes Content After Complaints By Hindus, Muslims and Christians

Google India 

NEW DELHI/BANGALORE, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Internet giants Google Inc and Facebook removed content from some Indian domain websites on Monday following a court directive warning them of a crackdown "like China" if they did not take steps to protect religious sensibilities.

The two are among 21 companies ordered to develop a mechanism to block material considered religiously offensive after private petitioners took them to court over images deemed offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Two cases have been brought by individuals against internet companies in India, stoking fears about censorship in the world's largest democracy.

"(Our) review team has looked at the content and disabled this content from the local domains of (Google) search, Youtube and Blogger," Google spokeswoman Paroma Roy Chowdhury said.

At the heart of the dispute is a law that India passed last year making companies responsible for user content posted on their websites, and giving them 36 hours to take down content if there is a complaint.

Last month, the companies said it was not possible for them to block content. Google's Roy Chowdhury declined to comment on what had since been removed, and a Facebook representative said only that the company would release a statement later.

A New Delhi lower court hearing one of the cases, a civil suit brought by an Islamic scholar, told the companies on Monday to put in writing the steps they had taken to block offensive content, and submit reports within 15 days.

"Microsoft has filed an application for rejection of the suit on the grounds that it disclosed no cause of action against Microsoft," a spokesperson for the company said. "The matter is sub judice and no further comments can be given."

That suit was brought by scholar, Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasm, who runs a website called that gives answers to moral questions.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and Microsoft have appealed in the Delhi High Court against a separate criminal case successfully brought by journalist Vinay Rai.

The High Court has yet to rule on their appeal, but the sitting judge warned in January they were responsible for content on their websites and said he could block sites "like China" if they did not get their house in order.

In the Rai case, the court ordered the companies to stand trial for offences relating to the distribution of obscene material to minors, after being shown images it said were offensive to Prophet Mohammed, Jesus and various Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as several political leaders.

"If the companies have actually removed some content, they should put in place a mechanism to do it regularly, instead of waiting for a court case every time," Rai told Reuters.

Fewer than one in 10 of India's 1.2 billion population has access to the Internet, but that still makes it the third-biggest Internet market after China and the United States. The number of Internet users in India is expected to almost triple to 300 million over the next three years.

Despite the new rules to block offensive content, India's Internet access is still largely uncensored, in contrast to the tight controls in neighbouring China. But like many other governments around the world, India has become increasingly nervous about the power of social media.

While civil rights groups have opposed the new laws, politicians say posting offensive images in a socially conservative country, which has a history of violence between religious groups, presents a danger to the public.

Muslim immigrants claimed to descend icon of Our Lady from the hospital

Muslim (illegal) immigrant recently moved his wife in hospital of Patras to give birth. We do not know if it was a public hospital or health center in the region of Patras (migrants tend to go and even health centers and rural surgeries and admit to their wives begin even unrelated disciplines doctors ophthalmologists! Enough to be considered extraordinary event not to pay anything at all) .
Just put his wife into the chamber to give birth, the Muslim noticed the image of the Virgin on the wall and immediately told the doctor responsible:

- This frame (he meant the icon) immediately put it down from there. Born just do not want my child to see this thing!

There was a bustle on, she was fastidious and not to worsen things, the management agreed to download the image of the Virgin (wrongly) to upload it immediately after.

The Muslim was left to wait in the waiting room when the baby will end.
After hours the doctor came out and announced:

- Your wife gave birth naturally. She is well.
But your child was born blind!
No single image of the Virgin will not see, nor anything else in the world!

ELDER PORPHYRIOS: There ye saints chasing evil

There ye saints chasing evil.  

Let the bad. Look to Christ and He will save you. Rather not stand outside the door and kicks the enemy, the scorned. It comes from seeing evil; Give yourself but gentle way from there. 

That challenge comes to your evil, you give your inner strength to good, to Christ. Pray: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." He knows how to have mercy on you, what manner. And when loading from the good, not anymore turns to evil. Ye yourselves, by the grace of God, good. Where to find the place you evil? Disappears! 

Catch you fear and frustration. Turn to Christ. Love simply, humbly, and without requiring you dispense Himself.



Wednesday, the 29th February 2012 11:20

Earthquake of magnitude 3.4 on the Richter scale occurred in the northern Aegean to 1:39 at night. Richter 3.4 earthquake south of Mount Athos The epicenter is located offshore in the area, 22 km south of Karyes and 100 km south of Kavala. 
The focal depth of vibration is determined to 2 km.

'Jesus Discovery:' Jerusalem Archeology Reveals Birth Of Christianity

The following is an excerpt by James D. Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici, authors of The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity

Jonah And The Whale Jesus Discovery
A composite representation of the ossuary image of Jonah and the big fish.
On the morning of Tuesday, June 29, 2010, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, we made an unprecedented archaeological discovery related to Jesus and early Christianity. This discovery adds significantly to our understanding of Jesus, his earliest followers, and the birth of Christianity. In this book we reveal reliable archaeological evidence that is directly connected to Jesus' first followers, those who knew him personally and to Jesus himself. The discovery provides the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, the first witness to a saying of Jesus that predates even the writing of our New Testament gospels, and the earliest example of Christian art, all found in a sealed tomb dated to the 1st century CE.
We refer to this tomb as the Patio tomb, since it is now located beneath an apartment patio, eight feet under the basement of a condominium complex. Such juxtapositions of modernity and antiquity are not unusual in Jerusalem, where construction must often be halted to rescue and excavate tombs from ancient times. The Patio tomb was first uncovered by construction work in 1981 in East Talpiot, a suburb of Jerusalem less than two miles south of the Old City.
Our discoveries also provide precious new evidence for evaluating the Jesus son of Joseph's tomb, discovered a year earlier, which made international headlines in 2007. We refer to this 1980 tomb as the Garden tomb, since it is now situated beneath a garden area in the same condominium complex. These two tombs, both dating to around the time of Jesus, are less than two hundred feet apart. Together with a third tomb nearby that was unfortunately destroyed by the construction blasts, these tombs formed a cluster and most likely belonged to the same clan or extended family. Any interpretation of one tomb has to be made in the light of the other. As a result we believe a compelling argument can be made that the Garden tomb is that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. We argue in this book that both tombs are most likely located on the rural estate of Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy member of the Sanhedrin who according to all four New Testament gospels took official charge of Jesus' burial.
Who was Joseph of Arimathea and how did he enter the historical picture? The Jesus Discovery explores the answers to this and a series of related questions. The recent discoveries in the Patio tomb put the controversy about the Jesus family tomb in new light. We now have new archaeological evidence, literally written in stone, that can guide us in properly understanding what Jesus' earliest followers meant by their faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, with his earthly remains, and those of his family, peacefully interred just yards away. This might sound like a contradiction, but only because certain theological traditions regarding the meaning of resurrection of the dead have clouded our understanding of what Jesus and his first followers truly believed. When we put together the texts of the gospels with this archaeological evidence, the results are strikingly consistent and stand up to rigorous standards of historical evidence.
Accessing the sealed Patio tomb was a tremendous challenge. The technological challenge alone was daunting. Our only access to this tomb was through a series of eight-inch drill holes in the basement floor of the condominium. We were not even positive these probes would open into the tomb. We literally had only inches to spare. Investigating the tomb required getting agreements from the owners of the building over the tomb; the Israel Antiquities Authority, which controls permission to carry out any archaeological work in Israel; the Jerusalem police, whose task is to keep the peace and avoid incitements to riot; and the Heredim, the ultra-Orthodox authorities whose mission is to protect all Jewish tombs, ancient or modern, from any kind of disturbance. None of these parties had any particular motivation to assist us and for various reasons they disagreed with one another about their own interests. Any one of them could have stopped us at any point along the way, and there were many anxious times when we thought the exploration would never happen. Ultimately we were able to persuade each group to support the excavation. That we succeeded at all is more than a minor miracle. At the same time we had no evidence that our exploration of this tomb, if it were possible, would yield anything of importance. But we both agreed it was a gamble worth taking.
At many points the entire operation seemed likely to collapse. We pushed on, however, not because we knew what was inside the tomb, but because we could not bear the thought of never knowing. Since that time we have begun to put the entire story together and a coherent picture is emerging that offers a new understanding of Jesus and his earliest followers in the first decades of the movement.
Archaeologists who work on the history of ancient Judaism and early Christianity disagree over whether there is any reliable archaeological evidence directly related to Jesus or his early followers. Most are convinced that nothing of this sort has survived, not a single site, inscription, artifact, drawing, or text mentioning Jesus or his followers, or witnessing to the beliefs of the earliest Jewish Christians either in Jerusalem or in Galilee. Jesus was born, lived, and died in the land of Israel. Most scholars agree he was born around 5 BCE and died around 30 CE. We have abundant archaeological evidence from this period related to Galilee, where he began his preaching and healing campaigns, and Jerusalem, where he was crucified. There is evidence related to Herod Antipas, the high priest Caiaphas, and even Pontius Pilate, who had him crucified, but nothing that would connect us to Jesus himself, or even to his earliest followers -- until now. Our hope is that these exciting new discoveries can become the catalyst for reconsidering other archaeological evidence that might well be related to the first Jewish-Christian believers.
The oldest copies of the New Testament gospels date to the early 4th century CE, well over two hundred years after Jesus' lifetime. There are a few papyri fragments of New Testament writings that scholars have dated to the 2nd century CE, but nothing so far in the 1st century. The earliest Christian art is found in the catacomb tombs in Rome, dating to the late 2nd or early 3rd centuries CE. Our discovery effectively pushes back the date on early Christian archaeological evidence by two hundred years. More significantly, it takes us back into the lifetime of Jesus himself.
This has been the most extraordinary adventure of our careers, and we are pleased to be able to share with readers the surprising and profound story of The Jesus Discovery.

Camera shot of the interior of the Patio tomb showing an ossuary in place.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Catechetical Homily of His All-Holiness for Holy and Great Lent

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

To the Plenitude of the Church:
Grace and Peace from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
And Prayers, Blessings and Forgiveness from Us 
“O faithful, let us joyfully welcome
the divinely-inspired announcement of fasting”

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

In recent times, we observe an elevated level of concern. Many challenges arise. The world is suffering and yearns for help. Indeed, we are going through a general test. Some people call it a financial decline; others refer to it as a political crisis. So far as we are concerned, it is a matter of spiritual perversion. And a solution exists. Many resolutions are proposed and numerous viewpoints are heard. Yet, the problems persist. People feel deserted and alone. Their deeper nature is ignored. They remain in the gloom of confusion and depression.

Irrespective of the direction or solution proposed, the various answers that are offered cannot redeem humanity. For, from the outset, they render it captive to corruption and death. The Church is the divine-human Lord, who alone can liberate our soul. Upon entering the space of the Church, we enter the atmosphere of divine consolation, of reconciliation between heaven and earth. We are at home. Our spirit is calm. We discover a heavenly beauty and a spiritual maturity, “a holy fragrance capable of reaching the ends of the world.” The Church knows all that we suffer. It speaks the whole truth. And it urges us to face reality as it is; to recognize that we are earth and dust.

The Great Canon of St. Andrew makes mention of repentant tears of and sorrowful mourning, namely the pain of our wounds. Nonetheless, what follows is the rest of the soul, the health of the spirit. We have our Creator and Savior. Through the abundance of His mercy, he has placed us at the intersection of incorruption and mortality. He has not forsaken us. He came to save us. Through His cross, He abolished death. He granted us incorruption of the flesh.

Since, therefore, we are planted with Christ, why are we troubled in vain? Why do we not run toward Him? The Church neither dwells on nor abandons us to corruption. It knows our deeper inclinations and comes to our support and salvation. We need nourishment. Yet, “man does not live by bread alone.” (Matt. 4.4) We also need spiritual understanding; however, we are not bodiless. In the Church, we discover the fullness of life and understanding as a divine-human balance. Away from God, we are perverted and corrupted. Wherever material goods are plentiful and waste is glorified, scandalous temptation and dark confusion prevail.

Wherever human beings live with reverence and receive all things with gratitude and thanksgiving, all things are sanctified. The little is considered blessing; the corrupt is dressed with the glory of incorruption. Human beings enjoy what is ephemeral as a gift from God, while at the same time being nourished from here and now by the pledge of the future life. Not only are problems solved, but even the suffering of trials are transformed into the power of life and a reason for giving glory. 

When this occurs with our soul, when we find peace and salvation by committing all things to Christ our God, then our mind is illumined. We come to know ourselves and the whole world. We have faith in the One who alone is powerful. This in itself strengthens the faithful. Then, by means of an invisible radiance, it is transmitted as support to all those who hunger and thirst for the truth.

The entire world needs salvation by its Creator and Maker. The entire world needs the presence of the faith and communion of the Saints. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God for all His benefits, as well as for the present period of Holy Lent.
Behold, this is a welcome time; behold, this is a time for repentance.

May we journey through this time of the great fast with contrition and confession so that we may reach the infinite joy of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom is due all glory, honor and worship to the ages of ages. Amen.

Holy and Great Lent 2012
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jefferson's Secret Bible (story and video)

What inspired Thomas Jefferson to compile his own text titled, "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth?"


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Relatively few people know that along with authoring the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson also compiled his own text, drawn carefully from passages extracted out of the New Testament, that he titled "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth." The book, which focused on the ethical teachings of Jesus, was a private undertaking for Jefferson and never made public in his lifetime. Now, experts at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History are meticulously conserving this fragile volume, page by brittle page. Along the way, they discover subtle hidden clues to Jefferson himself.  

The first presidential candidate to face attack for his religious beliefs was Thomas Jefferson, in the campaign against incumbent John Adams in 1800. Northern clerics branded Jefferson not only a deist, but an “atheist,” a “heretic” and a “Jacobin” of the French Revolution. “The election of any man avowing the principles of Mr. Jefferson would ... destroy religion, introduce immorality, and loosen all the bonds of society,” wrote one. Jefferson himself did little to push back against the rumors or contradict the inaccuracies. From his perspective, religion was purely a matter of personal concern, not the business of the public at large. After all, Americans had overthrown the institution of the monarchy, which proclaimed the head of state to be also the head of an established religion that all the king’s subjects were supposed to follow. By contrast, the American Presidency was a purely secular office. Why should the voters care -- or even know -- about a candidate’s private beliefs?

Today, historians try to piece together Jefferson’s religious beliefs from what little he wrote about it. Some of the best evidence lies in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in the small volume that is often called “Jefferson’s Bible.” It is a book that Jefferson made himself in the years 1819-1820, when he was retired from public life. Starting with multiple printed copies of the New Testament, Jefferson literally cut and pasted excerpts of the text onto blank pages to create what he called “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” He selected from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in order to compose a single biographical account of Jesus’s life. He included Jesus’s moral teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the many parables recounted in the Gospels. At the same time, Jefferson left parts of the Gospels out of his compilation. Influenced by the Enlightenment, he omitted anything that seemed to him contrary to “Reason,” which included anything miraculous (as the loaves and the fishes) or anything that suggested Jesus himself was divine (the Annunciation and the Resurrection). Jefferson believed that those parts of the New Testament represented misunderstandings or mistakes made by Jesus’s disciples, or inaccuracies added later by authorities of the Christian church.

Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson’s experience of public religious controversy was one reason that he kept his book a purely private project. He had no intention of publishing it or even, as far as we know, of showing it to friends or family members. He made it for himself. “I never go to bed without an hour, or half an hour’s previous reading of something moral,” he told one correspondent. His library included many books of philosophy, but the wear on the pages -- he dog-eared his favorites -- suggests that this book was often read.

After Jefferson’s death, the book stayed in the hands of his family. Late in the 19th century, the librarian of the Smithsonian Institution tracked it down and purchased it for the national museum. The book first went on exhibition at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition of 1895. A few years later, the U.S. Congress ordered facsimiles of the book and distributed them to the two chambers. (The Senate supply lasted up into the 1950s.) Meanwhile, the original volume stayed at the museum, but it gradually became more brittle. The museum’s paper and book conservators have now painstakingly rescued it from deterioration. The book is on exhibition, together with the English language Testaments from which Jefferson cut out his excerpts. It is the work of Jefferson’s own hands and the product of his remarkable mind -- a mind that helped to shape the early American republic.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Vatican Requests 1,500-Year-Old Bible Held In Turkey

By Laura Hibbard

Old Bible
The Bible of William Hannay of Tundergarth, Dumfriesshire. No Photos of the Turkish Bible are available at this time.
The Vatican has allegedly issued an official request to examine a 1,500-year-old Bible that has been held in Turkey for the past 12 years, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The Bible reportedly contains early teachings of Jesus Christ and is written in gold lettering on animal hide in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, which was the native tongue of Jesus.
According to a report by National Turk, the Bible was seized from a gang of smugglers in a Mediterranean-area operation. The report states the gang was charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations, and the possession of explosives.
Today's Zaman reports that the Bible is under high security and that a Turkish daily newspaper, the Star, claims the book could be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas -- a controversial text which some claim is an addition to the original gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- that was suppressed.
In it, Jesus is said to have predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad.
Due to its value as a cultural and religious artifact, even photocopies of the pages could be worth between 3 and 4 million Turkish Lira, or about 1,700,000 to 2,300,000 U.S. dollars. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the status of the Gospel of Barnabas in various religious traditions. Also, the exchange value of the Turkish lira was initially miscalculated.

Debate with Arch. Rowan Williams: Richard Dawkins a controversial Oxford University professor, Famous Atheist, Not Entirely Sure God Doesn't Exist VIDEO


Dismantled after surveys Subdivision Security Patron, a criminal group, systematically committing fraud against priests across the country.

So far, police investigations have exichniastei fifteen cases of fraud in Crete, Kilkis, Amfissa, Kozani, Florina, Boeotia, Elis, Serres, Pieria, Naxos, Pella and Thessaloniki.

Arrested two men aged 32 and 29 years ... against which the file was formed for participation in a criminal organization, committing fraud by occupation, habit and abetting. The same charges shall be borne by nationals and eight other accomplices, who sought by the police.

In particular the specific perpetrators had set up an organized criminal group, which is acting a certain way of action and different configurations, identified priests throughout the country in which it communicated through telephone connections.When communicating, actors pretend they were the same priests, who represented insurers or religious correspondents Fund Supplementary Security officials and giving false facts as true convince their victims - priests to testify to certain bank accounts of various amounts of money to settle alleged outstanding financial and insurance in the insurance funds.

The total illegal benefit to the perpetrators of the past four months, is the sum of 81,071 euros.The officers of the Security Sub Patras, utilizing appropriate proanakritiko material, synellexan in the methodical police investigation, in combination with information provided to them by the Police Department Sitia, managed to locate and arrest yesterday (21-2-2012) in the afternoon in Patras, the two members of the criminal group.

Investigations were carried out in the homes of those arrested in houses and accomplices sought.Those arrested were taken to the Misdemeanours Prosecutor of Patras and detained in order to drive the principal investigators for questioning. Research is ongoing to identify the perpetrators in other cases of cheating elderly.

The London School of Orthodox Christian Studies


London gets more bus ads favoring God

The vision of the London School of Orthodox Christian Studies is to offer a wide selection of courses for Orthodox Christians, and those who are interested in Orthodox Christianity, through distance learning programmes that allow students to study anywhere in the world, and at their own pace.
LSOCS is rooted in the Orthodox Tradition of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, that is, the Armenian, Coptic, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Indian and Syrian Orthodox Churches. Although much of the substance of this Orthodox Tradition is shared with members of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, nevertheless the Oriental Orthodox Churches have their own cultural and historical experience which requires an educational approach which takes this into account.
The LSOCS has been established to meet this need, and although based in the city of London, in the UK, it is producing high quality programmes of study that can be accessed by students from around the world.

Student Registration

The aim of the LSOCS is to provide distance learning courses which are accessible to as many interested students as possible. There is no formal educational requirement for participation, but prospective students should note that all materials will be provided in the English language, and that any assessments and essay requirements will also be in English. The level of study should be considered as comparable to a first year of UK university education.
Each course will require approximately 100 hours of study. This will include using audio lectures, study guide material, following a reading list, providing assessments in the form of short answer questions and one longer essay. Email support will be provided throughout the period of study, and an online learning platform will be accessible 24 hours a day to access reading materials and course notes.
To register for any available courses click here to register.
i. Is it all online? - Yes, the course will be delivered entirely online, with electronic submission of assignments and tests.

ii. Will the reading material be freely available? - Yes, the material being used for study will all be available online either on other sites to which links will be given, or as texts and media available for use and download on the lsocs course website.

iii. Will I be able to manage this course and other commitments? - Yes, the course can be paced exactly to suit your circumstances, and there is no need to rush or skip material due to pressures of time. A course could even be completed in a year, which would require only a couple of hours listening and reading each week, surely within the scope of almost everyone. One of the aims of this venture is to encourage people around the world to engage in serious study of their Orthodox Faith as a matter of course, and so we would suggest that it is better to follow a course slowly, than be always waiting until there is time, very often we are never able to find the time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Elder Paisios: "Come difficult year tests will have great...."

Coming difficult years.......

God allows to happen now a strong shaking. Coming difficult years. We will have big tests ... we take it seriously, to live spiritually. These circumstances compel us and force us to work spiritually. But it is good to do it cheerfully and voluntarily and not by sorrows, necessarily ...

Now go or Christ or the devil. It is  clean front. I was becoming a hero during the occupation because do not greeted a German. Now you become a hero because do not greeting the devil. However we will see terrible events. There will be spiritual battles. The Saints will be more sanctified and become dirty ryparoteroi (ρυπαρώτεροι - I do not know what that word means). I feel inside me a consolation. A storm is the race has value, because now we do not have enemy Ali Pasha or Hitler or Mousoulini, but the devil. So we will have a heavenly reward.

Let God use evil to good, as God is Good.


How to Protect Your Plants by Frost

We are the days when frost can make the appearance unexpectedly, causing enough damage
If you do not have time for some ice and your plants look burnt, listen to some helpful tips to minimize the damage from the ice:

  • If there is no good reason it is better to wait for the start of the new vegetation to prune broken branches from the snow, or burned by the ice. 
  • Prune those arms seem to have suffered from frost damage, reducing their length. Leave at least 3 cm from the first live eye that you find.
  • Avoid nitrogen fertilization in the fall. Cause tender new vegetation that is sensitive to frost. Especially if your site has frosts using slow release fertilizers or organic fertilizers.    

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PRAYER FOR THE MOTHER by Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi

For his mother please. Mine. And others. One is, itself, valuable, irreplaceable, unique mother. Our life. Our affection.Is our concern. The guardian angel us. Our joy. Recourse us. And baby. And child. And youthful. And in men. And in old age! Mother sweet always and forever! 

My heart and soul and mind and hands and feet and eyes and ears and all night and day for us. Holy and sacred person!Certainly, this is a man and make the effort. On upset or difficulty. On the chagrin bad thing in our head. On illness sickens us the poisons of death of children.So this beautiful existence, ideally, the blood donor of life and love, for this please. Add strength to strength.Lighting in children. 

Thanks to her grandchildren.Bless, O God, my mother, my, other, black, the red man, the Chinese, the peasant, the city, the illiterate,It's their scheduled, all mothers, rich and give to tech your grace and all good.And me increased appreciation, reputation, respect, love, understanding, obedience, sympathy, cooperation, thanks, gratitude for the mother.For the mother to please, this hour. Which the value of a mother. Same and like are each mother. Dear. Blessed. Pilgrim.


Homily on the Publican and the Pharisee By St. Cyril of Alexandria

You who love instruction, and are eager to listen, receive once again the sacred words: delight yourselves in the honey of wisdom; for so it is written, “Good words are honeycombs, and their sweetness is the healing of the soul.” For the labour of the bees is very sweet, and benefits in many ways the soul of man: but the divine and saving (honey) makes those in whom it dwells skilful in every good work, and teaches them the ways of (spiritual) improvement. Let us therefore, as I said, receive again in mind and heart the Saviour’s words. For He teaches us in what manner we ought to make our requests unto Him, in order that the act may not prove unrewarded to them who practise it; and that no one may anger God, the bestower of gifts from on high, by means of those very things by which he imagines that he shall gain some benefit. For it is written. “There is a righteous man, who perishes in his righteousness.”
For see, I pray, an instance of this clearly painted, so to speak, in the parable set before us. One who prayed is condemned because he did not offer his prayer wisely. “For two men, it says, went up unto the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.” And here we must admire the wise arrangement of Christ our common Saviour, in all things whatsoever He does and says. For by the parable previously read to us, He called us to diligence, and to the duty of offering prayer constantly: for the Evangelist said, “And He spoke unto them also a parable, to the intent that men ought always to pray, and must not grow weary.” Having then urged them to diligence in constant prayer, yet, as I said, lest by doing so sedulously but without discretion, we should enrage Him Whom we supplicate, He very excellently shows us in what way we ought to be diligent in prayer. “Two men then, He says, went up unto the temple to pray.” Observe here, I pray, the impartiality and entire fairness of the unerring Nature: for He calls those who were praying men, since He looks not so much at wealth or power; but regarding their natural equality, He considers all those who dwell upon earth as men, and as in no respect different from one another.
And what then was the manner of their prayer? “The Pharisee, it says, prayed thus to himself. God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of mankind, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or as this publican.” Many at once are the faults of the Pharisee: for first of all he is boastful, and without sense; for he praises himself, although the sacred Scripture cries aloud, “Let a neighbour praise you, and not your own mouth: a stranger and not your own lips.” But, O excellent sir, one may well say to him, Behold, those who live in the practice of good and holy actions, as any one may see, are not very ready to listen to the words of flatterers: yes, and even if men extol them, they often are covered with shame, and drop their eyes to the ground, and beg silence of those that praise them. But this shameless Pharisee praises and extols himself because he is better than extortioners, and the unjust, and adulterers. But how did it escape your notice, that a man’s being better than the bad does not necessarily and of course prove him to be worthy of admiration: but that to vie with those who habitually excel, is a noble and honourable thing, and admits a man into the number of those who are justly praised.
Our virtue therefore must not be contaminated with fault, but must be single-minded and blameless, and free from all that can bring reproach. For what profit is there in fasting twice in the week, if your so doing serve only as a pretext for ignorance and vanity, and make you supercilious and haughty, and selfish? You tithe your possessions, and make a boast thereof: but you in another way provoke God’s anger, by condemning men generally on this account, and accusing others; and you are yourself puffed up, though not crowned by the divine decree for righteousness, but heap, on the contrary, praises upon yourself. “For I am not, he says, as the rest of mankind.” Moderate yourself, O Pharisee: “put a door to your tongue, and a lock.” You speak to God Who knows all things. Await the decree of the Judge. None of those skilled in the practice of wrestling ever crowns himself: nor does any man receive the crown of himself, but awaits the summons of the arbiter. Lower your pride: for arrogance is both accursed and hated by God. Although therefore you fast with puffed up mind, your so doing will not avail you: your labour will be unrewarded; for you have mingled dung with your perfume. Even according to the law of Moses a sacrifice that had a blemish was not capable of being offered to God: for it was said unto him, “Of sheep, and ox, that is offered for sacrifice, there must be no blemish therein.” Since therefore your fasting is accompanied by pride, you must expect to hear God saying, “This is not the fast that I have chosen, says the Lord.” You offer tithes: but you wrong in another way Him Who is honoured by you, in that you condemn men generally. This is an act foreign to the mind that fears God: for Christ even said, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.” And one also of His disciples said, “There is one Lawgiver, and Judge: why then do you judge your neighbour?” No man because he is in health ridicules one who is sick for being laid up and bedridden: rather he is afraid, lest perchance he become himself the victim of similar sufferings. Nor does any man in battle, because another has fallen, praise himself for having escaped from misfortune. For the infirmity of others is not a fit subject for praise for those who are in health: nay, even if any one be found of more than usually vigorous health, even then scarcely does he gain glory thereby. Such then was the state of the self-loving Pharisee.
But what of the publican? He stood, it says, “afar off,” not even venturing, so to speak, to raise up his eyes on high. You see him abstaining from all boldness of speech, as having no right thereto, and smitten by the reproaches of conscience: for he was afraid of being even seen by God, as one who had been careless of His laws, and had led an unchaste and dissolute life. You see also that by his external manner, he accuses his own depravity. For the foolish Pharisee stood there bold and broad, lifting up his eyes without scruple, bearing witness of himself, and boastful. But the other feels shame at his conduct: he is afraid of his Judge, he smites upon his breast, he confesses his offences, he shows his malady as to the Physician, he prays that he may have mercy. And what is the result? Let us hear what the Judge says, “This man, He says, went down to his house justified rather than the other.”
Let us therefore “pray without ceasing,” according to the expression of the blessed Paul: but let us be careful to do so aright. The love of self is displeasing to God, and He rejects empty haughtiness and a proud look, puffed up often on account of that which is by no means excellent. And even if a man be good and sober, let him not on this account suffer himself to fall away into shameful pride: but rather let him remember Christ, Who says to the holy apostles, “When you have done all those things, those namely which have been commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do.” For we owe unto God over all, as from the yoke of necessity, the service of slaves, and ready obedience in all things. Yes, though you lead an excellent and elect life, don’t exact wages from the Lord; but rather ask of Him a gift. As being good, He will promise it you: as a loving Father, He will aid you. Restrain not yourself then from saying, “God be merciful to me the sinner.” Remember Him Who says by the voice of Isaiah, “Declare you your sins first, that you may be justified:” remember too that He rebukes those who will not do so, and says, “Behold, I have a judgment against you, because you say ‘I have not sinned’.” Examine the words of the saints: for one says, “The righteous is the accuser of himself in the beginning of his words.” And another again, “I said, I will confess against myself my transgression unto the Lord: and you forgave the iniquity of my heart.”
What answer then will those make to this, who embrace the new tenets of Novatus, and say of themselves that they are pure? Whose prayer do they praise? That of the Pharisee, who acquitted himself, or that of the Publican, who accused himself? If they say that of the Pharisee, they resist the divine sentence; for he was condemned as being boastful: but if that of the Publican, why do they refuse to acknowledge their own impurity? Certainly God justifies those who know well their transgressions, and are willing to confess them: but these men will have the portion of the Pharisee.
We then say, that in many things we “all of us offend,” and that no man is pure from uncleanness, even though his life upon earth be but one day. Let us ask then of God mercy; which if we do, Christ will justify us: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Icon of the Holy snakes of Theotokos

The Orthodox Christian miracle of the Holy snakes of Theotokos. It happens every year in Kefallonia, Greece, on August 15.
Most Holy Theotokos, pray for us sinners! Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.  

The Orthodox Christian miracle of the Holy snakes of Theotokos. It happens every year in Kefallonia, Greece, on August 15

The Elder Joseph - Danger of Spiritual Presumption and Diakrisis of the Divine will

Danger of Spiritual Presumption


Read, if you want, the Ecclesiastical History by Meletios of Athens, and see how many teachers Origen and thousands of others were at first great luminaries of the Church possessing extensive learning. But since they gave themselves over to the sea of knowledge before receiving in hesychia the purification of their senses and the peace and tranquility of the Spirit, they sank in the ocean of the Holy Scriptures. They thought that their scholarly learning was sufficient. Thousands were lost and anathematized by the Councils, of which they had previously been champions. Read and you will see.

Diakrisis of the Divine will

… diakrisis [discernment] of the Divine will is one of the most delicate and complex matters in our lives. Especially for those who try to discover it through prayer – even though this is required, according to the saying ‘knock, seek, ask and it will be given you’ (Mt. 7:7) – it must nevertheless be preceded by patient endurance, trials and tribulations and experience so as to remove the passions and the individual will, which the exceeding subtlety and sensitivity of divine grace abhors. Anyway, whether it is arduous or whether it requires patient endurance, the method of prayer remains a requirement as the only means whereby we communicate with God, and by which we shall also know His Divine will.


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