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Monday, April 30, 2012

Mark Knopfler - The Long Road (Mountains of the Basque, Spain) or story about nature

One of the greatest songs worldwide and this pictures are so beautiful, it touches my heart! 
Do not to believe in false and untrue stories of rich people about the ecology . There are only two places where life is possible one is called the planet Earth a second place called Heaven - both places created by God and what He created no one can destroy.
Take care about your soul and everything will be ok.
Xristos anesti ! Christ is risen !

Friday, April 27, 2012

Greek Orthodox Community Living in Only Christian Village in the Holy Land ( video )

Jesus Christ, the God of Christian Orthodox people, lived and died in the Holy Land. Today, thousands people visit Jerusalem and the surrounding area in order to ”experience” how their religious leader lived and was crucified. Someone would expect that many people living close to Jerusalem would be Christians, but Taybeh is the only Christian village left in the Holy Land. 

Statistics show a sharp fall in the number of Christians on the West Bank. Taybeh is a small village, with less than 1500 inhabitants, which are all Christians. There is no mosque in the village. Three Christian communities – Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics – live there. Taybeh has deep roots in history. Its biblical name is Ephraim, through which Jesus Christ passed before his crucifixion. John 11:54 states that, “Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.” 

The Roman Catholic priest of Taybeh says that there is a decrease in the number of visitors, but adds that he is never going to leave this place. “I will assure you that even if all the Christians of the Holy Land will leave, and I will remain alone, I will get married, we will start another new generation.”

Congressmen Nominate Compassionate Coptic Orthodox Missionary for Nobel Peace Prize

Mama Maggie - Mother of Cairo
Mama Maggie - Mother of Cairo

For over 100 years the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded annually to the individual who has supposedly “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Over the past century — and particularly during the past several decades — the prize has been overwhelmingly presented to individuals and groups who have embraced a globalist vision for “peace” — one that necessitates the stripping of personal liberties, national sovereignty, and economic stability.

Among the more notorious parties honored in the past few years for their efforts in the name of “peace” have been such international luminaries as Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Yasser Arafat, Henry Kissinger, the entire United Nations organization — and, perhaps most gallingly for the average American, Barack Obama, who not only continued George W. Bush's wars but instigated one of his own in Libya.
For certain, over the years the prize has also honored a handful of individuals who have legitimately contributed to genuine peace through their humble, selfless, and often lonely campaigns against poverty, disease, and injustice. Included among those worthy recipients have been Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (last year’s winner); Mother Teresa (1979); and Albert Schweitzer (1952).

Additionally, countless self-sacrificing individuals have been nominated for the prize by friends, associates, and supporters who have personally witnessed their commitment to meeting the needs of others. Among those individuals is Maggie Gobran, an Egyptian Coptic Christian missionary who has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by five U.S. Congressmen who were impressed with her compassionate service among children and families living in Cairo’s garbage slums.
In a letter to the Nobel Committee Council, the Congressmen — Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Joseph Pitts (R-Penn.), Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), and John Carter (R-Texas) — asked that the lady known by those she cares for as “Mama Maggie” be seriously considered for the award. “Ms. Gobran is a woman of the utmost integrity and her tireless work has served thousands of Egyptians, including countless children,” the Congressmen wrote. “She has given a voice to the poor.”

The letter continued: “It is through her deep religious and moral commitment that Mama Maggie has succeeded in creating an organization that serves the most poor, desperate, and vulnerable population of Egypt. Clothed entirely in white, Mama Maggie is almost an angelic presence in Egypt’s slums, embodying the virtues of generosity, gentleness, and charity.”
Gobran, whose work has been compared to that of Mother Teresa’s in the slums of India, is the founder of Stephen’s Children, an outreach in Cairo that helps individuals living in the city’s most desperately impoverished areas, providing assistance to both Christian and Muslim children and families. As reported by the Anglican Journal, Gobran is a true minister of mercy in these impoverished locales, “where about 70,000 zabbaleen (garbage people) scrounge for food and clothing in the sprawling dumps. With its 1,500 workers and volunteers, Stephen’s Children has provided services to more than 25,000 Egyptian families in Egypt through clinics, education, and vocational centers and camps. Named for the first Christian martyr, the charity’s mission is to emulate the saint’s compassion, service, and allegiance to God’s word.”
Gobran explained that she stumbled into her calling as a minister of Christ’s compassion while living and working next to — but worlds away from — Cairo’s poor and hurting. “I was teaching at American University in Cairo,” Gobran, a Coptic Orthodox believer with an evangelical fervor, told Matt Cresswell of the Church of England Newspaper. “I used to have the best elite students in the country as it was the college which gave the best education.”

But during a visit, made out of curiosity, to Cairo’s slums, Gobran was blown away by the poverty and misery she encountered for the first time in her life. She recalled that she was told many of the children she encountered were destined to perish before their fifth birthday. “I couldn’t believe that a human being could survive such conditions,” she recalled to Cresswell. “They had no water. Can you imagine a young baby surviving without clean water? There were also no schools, no churches, and no healthcare.”
The experience caused Gobran to question whether God had mercy and love as she had been taught. “I asked Him: ‘How can you see a human being living in such conditions?’” she recalled. “Then later, when I was reading the Bible and waiting for God to talk to me, I felt that he was saying that it was my turn to do something about it.”
For the past 23 years, with God’s help that is exactly what Gobran has been doing, fulfilling the spirit of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

Even as conditions in Egypt have deteriorated and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism has made the mission of Stephen’s Children more difficult, Gobran has insisted on fulfilling the call God has given her. “This is all I want to be,” she said of her mission: “a mother to all.” She added that “God has truly blessed and given us more than we have hoped or imagined: the wonderful opportunity to reach so many destitute children in such a closed part of the world.”
It is, of course, highly unlikely that Gobran’s nomination will receive more than a cursory glance from the Nobel selection committee. No doubt some deserving “peacemaker” from among the UN penthouse set will ultimately capture their hearts. Regardless, “Mama Maggie” will continue to lay up treasure for eternity, working tirelessly among Egypt’s poor in body and spirit.

During a Christian leadership conference last year at Willow Creek Church in Chicago, Gobran put her mission — and the prize she is seeking — in proper perspective (see video below). “You know, we don’t choose where to be born, but we do choose either to be sinners or saints,” she told the assembled church and ministry leaders. “To be nobody or heroes. If you want to be a hero, do what God wants you to do.”

British Library buys St. Cuthbert Gospel - the oldest European book for £9m ( about $14.3 million )

 The St Cuthbert Gospel is from 7th Century Britain.
The Book was found inside Saint's tomb over 900 years ago.

The oldest intact European book - the St Cuthbert Gospel - is to remain in the UK after the British Library raised £9m to buy it.
The acquisition of the 7th Century copy of the Gospel of St John follows the library's largest fundraising campaign.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund gave £4.5m but charitable foundations, trusts and the public also contributed.
The book was sold by the Society of Jesus (British Province) to raise money for education and restoration work.
The manuscript, produced in the north-east of England, was buried with the early English Christian leader on Lindisfarne in about 698.
It was rediscovered at Durham Cathedral in 1104 after the coffin had been moved to escape Viking raids.
The library has acquired the Gospel in partnership with Durham University and Durham Cathedral, and it will be displayed equally at the library and in the North East.
It had been on loan to the British Library since 1979 and the institution was given first option to buy it. 

Digitised version
"To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the Anglo-Saxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the 7th Century would have seen it," said the library's chief executive, Dame Lynne Brindley.
"The exquisite binding, the pages, even the sewing structure survive intact, offering us a direct connection with our forebears 1,300 years ago.

The Latin manuscript, known as the St Cuthbert Gospel, is the oldest European book to survive fully intact

"I would like to pay tribute to the donors who have made this acquisition possible.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure the Gospel for the nation and we were both grateful and touched that so many people felt moved to support our campaign," she added.
The library's director of scholarship and collections, Caroline Brazier, said the £9m cost of the book was worth it.
"We don't know what an item like this would have actually gone for on the open market, but... we feel that we've negotiated a very good price."
The St Cuthbert Gospel will be on display in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery at the British Library's main building in London's St Pancras.

The first display in Durham is expected to be in July 2013 in Durham University's Palace Green Library on the Unesco world heritage site.
The Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, said the book's acquisition was "the best possible news".
"For the people of Durham and north-east England, this is a most treasured book," he said. "Buried with Cuthbert and retrieved from his coffin, it held a place of great honour in Durham Cathedral Priory."

Orthodox Patriarch hits at "unacceptable" attacks on ecumenism

(ENInews). The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians has written to Greece's Orthodox state church, deploring anti-ecumenical statements by its leaders.

"Critical voices about ecumenism, long heard in the bosom of the church of Greece, have hitherto been limited in scope - but what has occurred recently has reached unacceptable levels," said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. "Such opinions evoke anguish and sorrow by running counter to the Orthodox ethos. They risk unforeseen consequences for church unity in general, and the unity of our holy Orthodox church in particular," he wrote. 
In a late March letter to Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All-Greece, the patriarch said he was especially concerned by a recent statement by Metropolitan Seraphim (Mentzelopoulos) of Piraeus, invoking an "anathema" against the pope, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and ecumenists. He added that the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate and church of Greece had traditionally supported each other as "ecumenical witnesses to Orthodoxy" in the World Council of Churches and other inter-denominational bodies. "I urge you to reject and act against these unjustified and dangerous statements," said Bartholomew. "They contradict the decisions taken jointly by Orthodox churches to participate in bilateral and multilateral theological dialogue with the heterodox," referring to those who are not Orthodox. 
Metropolitan Seraphim (Mentzelopoulos) of Piraeus
Religious minorities have often complained of marginalization in Greece, whose constitution recognizes Orthodoxy as the "dominant religion." In his statement on 4 March, Orthodoxy Sunday, Seraphim said he was anathematizing the "fallen arch-heretic," Pope Benedict XVI, "and those in communion with him," as well as "all heretical offshoots of the Reformation," "rabbis of Judaism and Islamists," and "those who preach and teach the pan-heresy of inter-Christian and inter-religious syncretistic ecumenism." 
His remarks were criticized by professors at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, who said in a letter to the Greek synod that they were "unable to discern or even speculate as to the spiritual and pastoral benefit of this unprovoked, violent attack by one bishop against people of a different religion."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

NYTimes: Artistry of churches on display in Ethiopia (a truly amazing)

Damon Winter/The New York Times
The St. George church in Lalibela, dedicated to Ethiopia’s patron saint, is one of 11 Ethiopian Orthodox churches that were carved out of the rock in the 13th century and are literally anchored in the earth.

ON the roads through Ethiopia’s highlands traffic raises a brick-red haze that coats your clothes, powders your skin and starts a creaking in your lungs. Despite the dust people wear white. Farmers wrap themselves in bleached cotton. Village funerals look like fields of snow. At churches and shrines white is the pilgrim’s color.
I wear it too, protectively: long-sleeved white shirt, tennis cap, Neutrogena sun block. A pilgrim? Why not?
I’m here for something I’ve longed to see, Ethiopia’s holy cities: Aksum, the spiritual home of this east African country’s Orthodox Christian faith and, especially, the mountain town of Lalibela, with its cluster of 13th-century churches some 200 miles to the south.
Lalibela was conceived as a paradise on earth. And its 11 churches, cut from living volcanic rock, are literally anchored in the earth. In scale, number, and variety of form there’s no architecture or sculpture quite like them anywhere. They’re on the global tourist route now, though barely. To Ethiopian devotees they’ve been spiritual lodestars for eight centuries, and continue to be.
Heaven seekers and art seekers are, in some ways, kindred souls, impelled to spend precious time and travel mad distances in search of places and things that will, somehow, fill them up, complete them. For the religious, pilgrimage is a dress rehearsal for salvation. For the art seeker, it can transform a wish list of experiences into a catalog of permanent, extended, relivable memories. But why do art seekers go to the particular places and things they do? This is a personal matter; complicated, with roots in the past.
As an American teenager in the early 1960s I sensed Africa all around me, secondhand. African independence was on the evening news; names like Lumumba, Nkrumah and Senghor chanted by jubilant crowds. “Civil rights” was turning into “black power,” with preachers in suits replaced by Huey Newton holding a spear in one hand, a shotgun in the other.
In college I took an anthropology course called “Primitive Art.” It met in an ethnological museum that had a collection of masks from West and Central Africa. I loved them instantly, these things made for dancing, healing, telling stories, changing identities. They looked old but felt new. I wanted to go to where they came from.
But not ready yet, I went that first college summer to Europe, where I dashed through countless museums in 15 countries before ending up in Istanbul. Again, love, immediate. One look at Byzantine art — the lifting-off dome of Hagia Sophia, the Buddha-calm saints of the Chora mosaics — confirmed what I had begun to suspect: my compass was not set westward.
At that point I didn’t yet know that Byzantium and sub-Saharan Africa had once fruitfully intersected. I later learned, and that intersection is what I’ve come to Ethiopia to see.
The history of Ethiopian culture is deep, going back — if the national epic, the “Kebra Negast” or “Glory of Kings,” can be believed — to at least the 10th century B.C., when an Ethiopian ruler, the biblical Queen of Sheba, traveled to Jerusalem in search of the wisdom of Solomon. The two monarchs met, bonded and had a son, Menelik, who would become Ethiopia’s first emperor.
Solomon, the story goes, wanted to name Menelik as his heir. But the young prince, with Africa on his mind, left Jerusalem behind. He did not, however, leave empty-handed. Secretly he took with him the Ark of the Covenant, which held the tablets given by God to Moses, and brought it to Ethiopia, in effect, establishing a new Israel there.
History, if that’s what this is, then fades out for stretch, until around 300 B.C., when a new empire coalesces in northern Ethiopia, with the city of Aksum as its capital and a still-existing group of immense stone stelae, carved with architectural features, as its grand monument. Another fade-out. By the fourth century A.D. Ethiopia has become officially Christian, and the Ark is in Aksum, enshrined in a cathedral named St. Mary of Zion, where it remains.
Its presence makes Aksum the country’s holiest city, and St. Mary of Zion its holiest shrine, though materially both have seen better days. The town is a sketchy, low-rise place perched on a still barely tapped archaeological site. The original cathedral was leveled by a Muslim army in the 16th century. Its modern replacement is a circular domed structure built by Ethiopia’s last emperor, Haile Selassie, in the early 1960s.
It’s a curious thing. Its wide, unbroken interior has the blank, functional ambience of a skating rink. And it doesn’t feel quite finished, as final touches of some kind were still needed. On a day I visited the church was closed to the public.
Benches were roughly lined up. Free-standing paintings of the Virgin and saints, in a melty neo-Romantic style, leaned against walls.
Two men on a scaffold were working on, or perhaps touching up, a mural.
A priest, in white, stood at a lectern and read aloud from an illuminated book as a European video crew fussed with sound checks, then asked him, please, to start again. To an outsider the general impression was confusing, disconcerting. Can this newish, nondescript, somewhat disheveled, in-progress space really be the physical and psychic center of one the world’s oldest versions of Christianity?
The priest at the lectern burst into song, a long, gorgeous melismatic chant that bloomed in the dome. Everyone stopped to listen, enraptured. There was the answer. Yes, it can.
The evidence was even stronger outside. I was in Aksum just before an important holy day dedicated to Mary, the object of acute devotional focus in Ethiopian Orthodoxy. Pilgrims from far and near were already gathering, camping out in the park around the cathedral, prostrating themselves on its steps. A day later the city would be a sea of white, and St. Mary of Zion would be open, full and finished. People were the completing ingredient.
By the 10th century A.D. the long-lived Aksumite empire, once a rival to Persia and Rome, was out of steam, and the city itself a backwater. New rulers, known now as the Zagwe dynasty, appeared. They retained the distinctively Judaic form of Ethiopian Christianity, with its Saturday Sabbath and practice of circumcision, and further promoted the concept of an African Zion by giving it physical manifestation in a new capital city to the south of Aksum.
The force behind the new city was the 13th-century Zagwe emperor Lalibela, for whom the new capital eventually came to be named. He is credited — and here we are again in a tangle of fact, fantasy and informed surmise — with planning and creating the extraordinary group of 11 churches there, all chiseled directly from sandstone cliffs and gorges, that exist at Lalibela today.
According to legend the emperor himself, spelled by angels on night shifts, did the work, wrapping the whole job up in 20-some years. Whether or not the results can justifiably be called, as they often are, the eighth wonder of the world, they are certainly wondrous. And sharing, as they do, in a tradition of sculptured architecture that extends from Turkey to China, they are indeed world-spanning.
They are also, however, a phenomenon apart. Although no confirming scholarly study of Lalibela has yet appeared, there is reason to think that the complex, which is divided into two groups of churches, was envisioned as a mystical model of the holy city of Jerusalem in both its earthly and heavenly forms, with each church filling a very specific symbolic role within that topography.
One church, dedicated to St. George, Ethiopia’s patron saint, stands apart from the others. Probably the latest of them, it is meticulously executed and gives a clear sense of the labor-intense strangeness of the whole endeavor.
Basically a monolithic, walk-in Greek cross, it’s free-standing but set in a deep, square pit, so that your first view is, angelically, from above looking down on a relief of three nested crosses cut into the church’s flat roof. To reach the entrance, you descend into the canyonlike excavation, into the earth. The church interior, dimly lighted by high windows, has an organic, hand-molded texture. It’s as if it were shaped from loam and you were a seed being planted.
Here too the impression of the interiors coming to life is especially strong when they’re crowded with people.

Full story: 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

1915-1922: 123 Armenian Genocide organized in Ottoman Turkey survivors live in Armenia



123 people, who survived the Armenian Genocide organized in Ottoman Turkey in 1915-1922, are currently living in Armenia, the head of social statistics and National Statistics Service of Armenia Nelly Baghdasaryan told Armenian

As of July 1, 2011, 123 survivors of the Armenian Genocide currently live in Armenia, while as of July 1, 2010, 156 genocide survivors were living in Armenia.

On May 5, 2011, the Armenian Government decided to pay a monthly allowance to those people who survived the Armenian Genocide. According to that decision, Armenians who were born before 1915 in Eastern Armenia or in other parts of the Ottoman Empire and survived the genocide will receive a monthly stipend of AMD 25 thousand ($70).
The world commemorates on April 24 the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century.

Commemoration actions are held in all states, people remember this monstrous crime against humanity as over one and a half million innocent Armenians were massacred in the Ottoman Empire, while hundreds of thousands were tortured and deported.

The fact of the Armenian Genocide is recognized by many states. It was first recognized in 1965 by Uruguay. In general, the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey has already been recognized by Russia, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, and 42 U.S. states.

Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III inaugurated the new wing of our Patriarchate’s school in Taybeh, Israel

Jerusalem Patriarchate
On Tuesday, the 21st of March / 3rd of April 2012, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III inaugurated the new wing of our Patriarchate’s school in Taybeh.

Taybeh is a suburb of Ramallah with 35.000 residents, three thousand of whom are Arab-speaking Orthodox belonging to the Patriarchate. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem operates its privately owned school, founded in 1875, the first to be established in the surrounding areas. The school has a Kindergarten, the Primary School, a Gymnasium and High School numbering 500 students from the local area and staffed with thirty five teachers and professors.A new wing was added to the school, financed by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and carried out by ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid). It will cover mostly the Kindergarten classes but it will also serve to the tutorial and laboratory needs of other Departments as well.
His Beatitude performed the ceremony of the Blessing of the Water and then by blessing the new premises inaugurated the school’s added wing.
At the inauguration present was the escort of His Beatitude from Jerusalem namely; His Eminence Hysihios Metropolitan of Capitolias and President of the Education Committee of the Patriarchate, the Elder Chief Secretary His Eminence Aristarchos Archbishop of Constantina, Reverend Fr. Issa Mousleh from the village of Beit -Sahour and member of the Education Committee, the superior of the Holy Monastery of Transfiguration and Patriarchal Representative in Ramallah Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Galaktion and Archdeacon Athanasios.
Present at the inauguration were also; the Prefect of the Ramallah and Bireh area representing the Palestinian Authority Mrs. Laila Ganam and other dignitaries of the Palestinian Authority, the representative of the American Government and USAID Mr. Basam Rifai, the Mayor of Taybeh Mr. Daoud Kanaan, representatives of other schools in the area and of the city’s Associations along with numerous residents.
Speakers at the ceremony were the School Mastress Mrs. Ambir Hourigie, the Prefect of the area of Ramallah and Bireh Mrs. Laila Ganam, the Mayor of Taybeh Mr. Daoud Kanaan, the representative of USAID Mr. Basam Rifai and student representatives. The school’s students presented a variety of folklore dancing on stage and received a warm applause followed by gifts.
The inauguration ceremony was completed by the address of His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III. (see the following link: School bestowed commemorative boards of gratitude to His Beatitude, to the representatives of USAID and ANERA, to Fr. Constantine Naser who aided financially and to other sponsors.

Chief Secretary’s Office. TOP10 on Tumblr!!! Woooohoooo !

This blog has just been elected one of the TOP10 best religious blogs on Tumblr !
Congratulations to my friend !

About Simply Orthodox:
"This is the blog of an Eastern Orthodox Christian girl from Greece. Welcome to my Orthodox Christian corner! :) Here you can find interesting texts and quotes about Orthodoxy. I made this blog because I want everyone to discover the Orthodox Christianity. This is the ultimate purpose of this blog: to share my faith! Feel free to send me any prayer requests or anything you want. God bless you all! May the Holy Spirit enlighten you always!" 

Listen to this beautiful hymn to our Panagia ( Most Holy Mother of God) - Chanted by the monks of Simonopetra

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women, and
Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners now,
And at the hour of death.  

Ecumenical hopes: Abp. of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams a visit to the Mount Athos

The news agency reported that Abp. of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams visiting the Holy MountainKeep in mind that this is an ecumenical visit to the pressure that the Holy Mountain as most powerful guardian the holy Orthodox faith and the Holy Tradition have to change. 

“One of the hardest yet most important lessons the different Christian communities today must learn is that they cannot live without each other: no single one of them in isolation possesses the entirety of the Gospel” of Christ. That was how the Anglican leader Dr Rowan Williams introduced his reflection on how the witness of monastic life can offer a key to overcoming the divisions between Christians today." - 14 MARCH 2012 ROWAN WILLIAM'S HOMILY IN ROME ON MONASTIC VIRTUE AND ECUMENICAL HOPE

The Holy Mountain welcomes the leader of the Anglican Church 

Four-day visit to Mount Athos will hold the ecclesiastical leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Kantavrygias, Doctor-Doctor, Rowan Williams, according to information 

The Archbishop will arrive at Mount Athos in the morning of next Thursday, and in order to visit the Monasteries, Xenophon, and Simonopetra where he will visit the Monastery of Pantokrator and possibly other monasteries of Mount Athos. he will meet with the political governor of Mount Athos, Mr. Aristos Kasmiroglou. 
Mr. Williams from the Mount Athos will depart on Monday, April 30. 

Please remember that, last month had submitted his resignation to Queen Elizabeth, since Queen carries the title of protector of the faith-and disagreed on the issue of ordination of women priests but also for gay marriage. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Olive oil, the very heart of the Greek Orthodoxy - Make your own aromatic oil

The sacred trait the olive tree enjoyed from antiquity was in the early Christian era, transferred to its product olive oil. Olive oil is mentioned both in the Old and New Testament. It became a mystical element. 

The most important of the sacraments, that of baptism, which seals the baptised as a servant of God, cannot be performed in the Greek Orthodox Church without olive oil. The infant is rubbed with olive oil from head to toe, immersed in water three times and then anointed with Holy Myrrh, which is a mixture of olive oil mixed and various other aromatic oils. Its preparation, most sacred, is the sole privilege of the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church. Colloquially, the unbaptised are often referred to as alathoti—unoiled, or unanointed.

Monasteries in Greece almost always include an olive grove. The olive crop secured the sustenance of the monks and the oil is necessary for the burning of lamps before the icons or for performing the sacraments. Today many monasteries bottle part of their olive oil and at times visitors can purchase some.
Greeks also make offerings of olive oil to churches and monasteries. To this day one still sees bottles of oil left in church by the faithful, used mainly to light the votives.

Virgin olive oil is also produced using mechanical means only, and has an acidity of up to 2 percent. 

Olive oil not marked “extra-virgin” or “virgin” is a blend of virgin and refined oil, the latter being produced at very high temperatures, causing it to lose many of its properties. Cold-pressed oil has been extracted in presses where the temperature is no higher than 27 Celsius, beyond which the oil loses some of its nutritional benefits.

Over 95 percent of olive oil consists of fatty acids, particularly monounsaturated fats that help prevent arteriosclerosis and heart disease. A diet rich in olive oil improves the health of those suffering from hypertension, gallstones, stomach ulcers and rheumatic diseases.Contrary to popular belief, the nutritional benefits of olive oil are fairly heat-resistant, but it is better to add it at the end of the cooking time and in moderation, as it is high in calorie content.

Make your own aromatic oil
Add your favorite herb, peppers, garlic cloves mushrooms, orange or lemon peel (unwaxed, organic), sun-dried tomatoes, capers, chilies, cumin or allspice pods to add spice to your salad oil, or use a combination of these.Choose good-quality oil with a smooth taste, such as that from Mytilene.The spices should be fresh and the herbs very clean and dried with their aroma intact.Use sterilized and well-dried bottles.Once filled and the spice or herb added, close tightly and store in a cool dark place, never in the sun. The full flavor will be acquired after at least two weeks.For a milder flavor, remove the solids after two weeks and transfer the oil to a clean bottle after filtering it through a piece of gauze or a coffee filter.If you leave the herb in the bottle, remove it once it protrudes above the surface of the oil or the flavor could spoil.

Most Beautiful Princess - The Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth.

'There will come a time when gifted poets will write verse in praise of the Grand Duchess, her noble soul, her radiant feats, not only ascetic feats but also feats of love and mercy. Her beautiful and noble deeds, her sacrifice, a sacrifice made on the altar of love, will never be erased from the memory of human nobility and mankind will bless her as great, for she was wedded to love'.
Abbot Seraphim, The Martyrs of Christian Duty, P.12, Beijing, 1920.

The future Grand Duchess and New Martyr Elizabeth was born in 1864, the second of seven children. She was the daughter of Ludwig IV, Grand-Duke of Hessen-Darmstadt, and Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. Since she was half English, Ella, as she was called, often visited Queen Victoria in England, becoming her favourite granddaughter. Here she stayed at Windsor Castle, Osborne House and also at Balmoral in Scotland. There survives an extensive correspondence in English with her beloved grandmother in 'dear England'. Educated in a traditional English way by an English governess, Ella's mother instilled in her a Christian spirit, according to the principle of 'love thy neighbour'. As her earliest biographer, Metropolitan Anastasy, wrote: 'An English imprint undoubtedly lay on all her tastes and habits; the English language was closer to her than her native German'. When Princess Alice tragically died of diptheria in 1878, aged only 35, her last will was that her coffin be draped with the Union Jack.
In 1884, aged nineteen, Elizabeth married the Grand Duke Sergei, the son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia in two ceremonies, one Orthodox, the other Protestant. Deeply in love with her husband, she began to study the Russian people and culture and above all the Orthodox Faith which had moulded them. She long hesitated to join the Orthodox Church, for fear of upsetting her immediate family who were Lutherans. Then after two years of intense study and prayer, of her own free will she finally decided to become an Orthodox Christian by conviction. She was duly received by chrismation into the Orthodox Church on the Saturday before Palm Sunday 1891. In this decision only her grandmother, Queen Victoria, wrote her a letter full of encouragement and support, for which Elizabeth replied thanking her for her goodness and motherly love. Elizabeth described this event in one of her many letters in English, dated 5 January 1891, to the future Emperor Nicholas II. Here she described how she had long 'continued in outward forms to be a Protestant when my soul already belonged to the Orthodox belief'.

Sergei and his wife

Also in 1891 her deeply religious husband was appointed Governor of Moscow by Emperor Alexander III. In 1894 her younger sister, Alexandra, married the future Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, with the ardent encouragement of Elizabeth. The Grand Duchess devoted herself to charitable work, continually caring for the well-being of the Russian Orthodox people, especially during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. However, on 4 February 1905, while she was leaving her home to do charitable work, she heard a terrible explosion. Hurrying towards where the explosion had come from, she saw a soldier stretching his greatcoat over some of the remains of her husband. He had just been been killed by a terrorist bomb and his body had literally been blown apart.
Profoundly shocked, Elizabeth, now a childless widow, still had the moral strength to visit the arrested assassin of her husband, a certain Kaliayev, in prison. She hoped to soften his heart through her example of forgiveness. The murderer told her that he had on several occasions wanted to kill her husband, but he had not been able to bring himself to touch him because she had been with him. The Grand Duchess gave a book of Gospels and an icon to the man, hoping against hope that he would repent before the end.
The shock of the murder brought about a great change to Elizabeth. She withdrew from social life and adopted a vegetarian diet. The wound in her soul was such that she raised her eyes to look at eternity. Closely following advice from bishops of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church, she devoted her life to the Orthodox way of life. She bought a house and a large piece of land in Moscow and established a community, devoted to St Martha and St Mary, carrying out the tasks of deaconesses, as in the early Orthodox Church. She intended this community to become like the home of St Lazarus, which had so often been visited by Christ. Several women from all classes joined the Grand Duchess to devote their lives to this foundation, tending the sick, helping the poor, taking care of the street children of Moscow. The Grand Duchess also established a rent-free hostel for young women workers and students, a hospital, a clinic, a school for nurses and a soup kitchen.
From what was to become in 1909 'The Convent of Mercy of St Martha and St Mary' the Grand Duchess and her helpers visited the poor, did housework, took care of children, bringing peace and happiness wherever they went. The Grand Duchess took part in all the work done, establishing a beautiful Convent garden, visiting even the poorest and most dangerous parts of Moscow. As she wrote in English to Tsar Nicholas in April 1909: 'I want to work for God and in God for suffering mankind'. She shone with the inner light of the soul at prayer and the crowds adored her. Her life was ascetic, all her personal fortune was devoted to good works and her only travels were pilgrimages to the holy places of Russia.
In 1910 she was made Abbess of the Convent, which then housed 45 sisters. Writing of this in a letter in English addressed to Tsar Nicholas, dated 26 March 1910, in which she warned of Rasputin who in her opinion had clearly fallen into spiritual illusion, she said: 'I am espousing Christ and His cause, I am giving all I can to Him and our neighbours, I am going deeper into our Orthodox Church'.
In the Convent she learned to practise the Jesus Prayer under strict obedience to the Convent's saintly spiritual father, Fr Mitrophan, of whom she had written in an English letter to Tsar Nicholas in April 1909: 'He is large, nothing of the narrow-minded bigot, all founded on God's boundless love and forgiveness - a true Orthodox priest keeping strictly to our Church'. The role of the Convent became particularly important during the First German War, when there were so many in hospital, so many to comfort.
When the Revolution came in 1917, Abbess Elizabeth continued to live as before, attending church services, nursing the sick, caring for the poor. She turned down the offer of a Swedish Cabinet Minister to leave the country, saying that she wished to share the destiny of her country and its people. At first ignored by the Bolshevik regime, on the third day of Easter 1918 Abbess Elizabeth was ordered to leave for the town of Perm in the Urals. She left together with two nuns, Catherine and Barbara, escorted by Latvian Guards. From here she was moved via Ekaterinburg, where the Imperial Family, including her sister, were held in confinement, to the town of Alapayevsk. She arrived here on 20 May 1918.
Abbess Elizabeth lived in captivity in Alapayevsk until the fateful night of 18 July 1918. It was the feast-day of St Sergius of Radonezh, her husband's namesday. On that night she, Sister Barbara, five members of the Imperial Family and a secretary, were taken to a mine and there martyred, first being blindfolded, beaten and then thrown alive into the mine-shaft. First to be thrown in was Abbess Elizabeth. As they seized her, she prayed, crossed herself and said: 'Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do'. The murderers then tossed in hand grenades, but hearing the hymn,' O Lord, save Thy people…', they panicked and soon left. It is recorded that two of the murderers became insane shortly after their horrible crime. A peasant eyewitness reported that for hours afterwards he heard Abbess Elizabeth, mortally wounded, singing the Cherubic Hymn, hymns from the funeral service and hymns giving thanks to God and glorifying Him. These hymns continued into the following day.
When in September the White Army liberated Alapayevsk and found the mine, they removed the bodies, including that of Abbess Elizabeth. They found her not at the bottom of the 200-foot deep mine-shaft, but on a ledge about fifty feet down. Only one body had been torn apart by the grenades. On the same ledge near the Grand Duchess' intact body there were two unexploded grenades and on her chest an icon of Christ. This was the icon of the Saviour Not-Made-By-Hands. This had been given to her, probably by the Emperor Alexander III, on the day of her reception into the Orthodox Church on 13 April 1891. (It is now kept in the Russian Orthodox Memorial Church in Brussels). She had been lying next to the Grand Duke John and it was found that she had attempted to dress his wounds before herself expiring.
By order of the White General Admiral Kolchak, the bodies were all removed to the Cathedral in the nearby town of Alapayevsk on 1 November 1918. In 1919, the White Army, then in retreat, took the coffins with the bodies to Siberia and then in 1920 to China. The body of Abbess Elizabeth remained incorrupt. On 3 April that year the coffins were placed in St Seraphim's church in Beijing. However, from here they were removed to Palestine, thanks in part to the efforts of Elizabeth's elder sister, Victoria, Marquess of Milford Haven. On 15/28 January 1921, the relics were solemnly met in Jerusalem by Patriarch Damian, Russian and Greek clergy, members of the British authorities and innumerable Orthodox faithful. Here Abbess Elizabeth was buried in the church of St Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane. In 1888, before ever becoming Orthodox, the Grand Duchess had already expressed the desire to be buried here. This had been at the consecration of that very church, where she had gone with her husband, who was President of the Russian Palestine Society.
'Like a beautiful apparition, she passed through the world, leaving behind her a radiant trail' So wrote Abbess Elizabeth's early biographer, Metropolitan Anastasy. 'Together with the others who suffered for their homeland, she is both the atonement of the former Russia and the foundation of the Russia to come, which will be built on the relics of the holy New Martyrs…Not in vain had the voice of the Russian people proclaimed her to be a saint while she was still alive. As if to reward her for her glorious deeds on earth, and especially for her love of Holy Russia, her martyred remains were destined to rest near the very place of the Sufferings and Resurrection of the Saviour'.
Abbess Elizabeth was canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1981, which canonisation was later recognised by the Church inside Russia when it became free to do so in the 1990's.

Holy New Martyr Elizabeth, pray to God for us!

Since 1998 we have been approached by a number of young girls both from England and the United States and also two professed nuns who have inquired about the possibility of establishing an English-language Orthodox Convent in Felixstowe.
Such a Convent would be faithful to the Russian Orthodox Tradition and Calendar, but expressed in the English language. It would be dedicated to the Holy New Martyr the Grand Duchess Elizabeth. Such a dedication would be most apt, given the Grand Duchess' Elizabeth's many visits to England and the many records and photographs of her visits here, which are kept in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle and Elizabeth's cousin's family visit to Felixstowe in July 1891.
Having spoken to Archbishop Mark about these inquiries, we were given the following advice. The Archbishop would not give his blessing to a new Convent without the initial presence of three nuns. Also, he is concerned that as a working priest, I would not be able to give the nuns the regular liturgical life, time and spiritual care which they would require.
I fully obey and agree with Archbishop Mark's advice. Moreover, despite the presence of an Orthodox church, priest and choir in Felixstowe and all the liturgical resources required, I cannot see how humanly any of this is possible, given our complete lack of financial resources. We would need hundreds of thousands of pounds in order to accommodate nuns, pay for the running costs of a Convent and provide daily liturgical services. However, it is also true that the need for an English-language Convent, faithful to the Russian Orthodox Tradition, is becoming more and more acute.
Therefore this is not an appeal for financial resources or donations. There is no episcopal blessing for such an appeal. This is an appeal for something even more precious, the prayers of our readers. Please pray that the need for such a Convent will somehow be met, either here or elsewhere, through the miracle of God's grace and according to His Will.
May you and Orthodox Christians everywhere, and all England, be blessed through the prayers of the Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth.

Fr Andrew Phillips Seekings House, Felixstowe,
Sunday of the Forefathers
16/29 December 2002


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