Σάββατο, 30 Ιουνίου 2018

THE SYNAXIS OF THE HOLY TWELVE APOSTLES (June 30)

 
Saint Andrew Orthodox Church
by Rev. Father George Mastrantonis   

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. O holy Apostles, and all Saints, Intercede for us To be delivered from dangers and sorrows; For we have You as fervent Intercessors In the present of the Savior.
Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
In your compassion we take refuge, O Theotokos, Do not overlook our requests and circumstances, But deliver us from dangers, For You are the only pure, the only Blessed.

Orthodox holy icon from here

The Chosen Originators

Jesus Christ endowed His Church with Himself and His divine Message. He handed it down to His disciples, who constituted His Church. Jesus Christ selected from among them Twelve Apostles to carry on with authority His Gospel, and He sent them to preach it and to baptize converts all over the world:
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (St. Matthew 28:19-20).
The Holy Apostles organized the converts into groups called Churches. To these Churches the Holy Apostles handed down the treasure of the new Gospel, their eyewitness account of the Logos (Word) as they actually saw it take place, preserving it forever through the Church. This is the Gospel-The Tradition in the broad sense of the word-which we cherish today. Taking the Truth from the Apostles, the Orthodox Church is an "Apostolic" Church; it has its roots in the Apostolic ministry and succession, the apostolic Faith and Creed, and the Apostolic word and Scriptures by which the Holy Apostles and their immediate successors defended the Orthodox Faith and kept it undefiled against heresies and persecutions.
But who are these blessed Apostles who were chosen to hand down the new Gospel and establish the Church to which we belong today? Who empowered them to preach the Gospel and disregard all the threats which endangered and, in the end, took their lives? Who are these mighty personalities who were the instrumental figures behind the worldwide movement which has changed the pace of life of men thereafter?

Sometimes the voice of the past is the clearest and most vivid guide for the minds and hearts of men of today, taking them out of the confused values of this life. Sometimes the lives and deeds of men of the past are unforgettable and stand as light posts to illuminate the road for a future achievement. They stand as unshakable rocks on which the waves of disappointment of life lose their force and disappear. 
The Holy Apostles of Christ are both the rocks and the light posts for our life. To them, our ancestors in the Christian heritage and faith, this pamphlet is humbly dedicated, that both the writer and the reader might imitate their devotion and work and appreciate their convictions in Christ, "in Whom they lived and moved and had their being" (Acts 17:28).
The Greek word "apostle" conveys to us the meaning of messenger, delegate, envoy or collector of tribute paid to the temple service. In the Gospels the Twelve were simply to be Christ's envoys. As Jesus was sent by His Father, so the Apostles were sent by Jesus. Jesus Christ used contemporary terms for "apostle" and gave it His own content and interpretation stressing the idea of being "sent," which means that an Apostle is a man with a mission throughout his entire life.
Jesus Christ Himself gave the title "Apostle" to the Twelve in St. Luke 6:13 and St. Mark 3:14, "Whom he also named apostles." The term "apostle" ("απόστολος" or apostolos" in Greek; a derivative from "apostellein", meaning "to send") signifies a special mission. An apostle is the commissioner of the person who sent him. Therefore, the term apostle is more definite than the term messenger (in Greek "angelos"). The apostle does not merely transmit a message, but he works to put it into practice among the recipients, both to let them understand it aright and to apply its contents in their faith and life.

 
 
Photos from the Orthodox Holy Monastery of 12 Apostles in Kolwezi, DRC (about here). About the Orthodox Church in Democratic Republic of the Congo, here.


Jesus "Called" His Apostles
 

The First Approach

Some of the Twelve Apostles were disciples of the Forerunner of Christ, Saint John the Baptist. They were acquainted with the Scripture and the expectations of their master. When Saint John the Baptist was "looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God" (St. John 1:36). Saint Andrew, one of Saint John's disciples, with another, "heard Him speak, and they followed Jesus" (v. 37). They followed Him without asking.
Thus the Apostolic Church began. It was through their own efforts to find out and discover the truth for themselves. They persisted, and "came and saw where He (Jesus) dwelt, and abode with Him that day" (v. 39).
They had a long audience with Jesus. What did they discuss? We do not know. What we do know is that they came out of this sanctuary with, a definite faith in Him. He was the One they were expecting. Saint Andrew felt the impulse to express his belief to others. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah", which means Christ, and "he brought him to Jesus" (v. 42). 
Saint Andrew's act stands as an example for every disciple and apostle thereafter. First, the pure desire to seek the Truth; second, acquaintance with revelation and obedience to it; third, acceptance and conviction of the Truth, and then a full confession and proclamation of the faith. These acts make the Church a growing and moving entity.
After Saints Andrew and Peter and John, "one of the two", Jesus found St. Philip in Galilee, and called him to His crew; St. Phillip not only followed Him, but stated his conviction to Nathaniel, we have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote...come and see" (St. John 1:45, 46), and Nathaniel saw Him and believed in Him: "You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel," he exclaimed in words to be echoed by millions in the generations to come.

One day passed and five promising people were His devoted companions. Christ was no longer alone-except at His agony, and on the Cross.
Walking along the shore of the "sea of Galilee", which actually is a lake, Jesus met again the two brothers, Simon and Andrew, who were casting their nets. He commanded them now to follow Him and become fishers of men. At the same time and place Jesus found James and his brother John, fishers at the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He called them to follow Him. All obeyed instantly (St. Mark 1:16-20). Jesus called Matthew, Levi, in the same way (St. Mark 2:16; St. Matthew 9:9) in Capernaum. He was a collector of taxes, probably of the customhouse of this city. Matthew left this position, bade farewell to his fellow officials and followed the Lord. What a challenge for us today-for the merchants and the while collar workers! They left work and home, pleasures and habits; they discarded the dreams of their youth and on the ruins built firmly a new fortress of defense and appeal. 

They demonstrated that an immutable conviction in the living God can move mountains.
What was the intention for calling these disciples? They were to capture men instead of fish, once they had passed through a period of training. He did not send them immediately on a special mission. The disciples were to take intensive training in divine attitudes, in the new interpretation of the Scriptures and in obedience to the Lord. They were invited to meet the new standards of moral life and to grow in courage to spread the Gospel and nourish its growth in mankind. The loyal Eleven have proven themselves worthy of the Mission. They have changed the orbit of the world in the Name of Jesus.
What was our Lord's aim in selecting His special group? Saint Mark states that the purpose was that they might be with Him so He might send them forth to proclaim the approach of the Kingdom of God, and so He could endow them with the power to heal and to exercise. Saint Mark (3:14, 15) records:
"He ordained twelve that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach and to have power to heal sickness and to cast out devils."
But the Lord's aim was more than that. It is described by Him on the eve of His death. He expected them to be His envoys on earth. Their supreme duty was to bear witness to Him; to teach the world how He lived, what He said, what He wrought. Jesus prayed for them: "As Thou have sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (St. John 17:18).

Icon (Luke 5:1-11) from here

Christ "Sent" His Apostles

The Apostles spent less than three years with their Master. He called them "that they might be with Him" (St. Mark 3:14) to be trained and educated, and them "that He might send them forth to preach" the Gospel and minister unto the people. Their work between these two stages is in agreement. It has been changed only in the stages of advancement. But what a change! From pupils they became teachers; from followers of Christ, they became leaders, bringing people to Christ. They started as disciples and in three years advanced as Apostles. They visible Guide, their Lord, became the invisible One, "The Spirit of Jesus" (Acts 1:6, 7), always present as He was before.
Jesus Christ selected them after devoting one night in prayer for their ministry. After their training, Jesus prayed for them and their future, even up to a few moments before the arrest. The prayer was recorded by one of His Apostles. He empowered them with the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost. The mighty Spirit as "tongues of fire" descended on the Apostles and transfigured their doubts and fears and attitudes in such a marvelous way that they became heralds of the new mission.
Their chief duty was to bear witness to the Savior Jesus Christ. His life, teaching, and atoning work, and especially to bear witness to Christ's Resurrection, "a witness to His Resurrection", "proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead." "And with great power the Apostles gave their testimony to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 1:22; 4:2, 23).
The ministry of the Holy Apostles was guided and blessed, and they were aware of this. They felt the presence of Christ and the companionship of the Holy Spirit in every step and turn of their work. Also, they were aware of their appointment. They were not presenting themselves, but were representing the Lord as Prophet, Priest, and King, with authority and effectiveness. They appointed their successors and thus established the special priesthood of the Church. In the Orthodox Church there is no ordination of deacon, priest and bishop without referring to the Holy Apostles through the lists of names of predecessors. Thus, the Apostolic Succession is very important not only for the teaching of the Church, but also for its sanctification. It is accepted in the Orthodox Church that the Bishops of the Church are the successors to the Apostles.
The Orthodox Church, upholds the Creed in which, for centuries, the beliefs of the Orthodox Christian Faith have been stated. In the ninth article of the Creed the Church is defined as "one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic". One for its unique Lord; Holy for its sanctification; catholic as preserving for all ("katholou") the whole truth, and Apostolic through its establishment by the Holy Apostles, whereby Scripture and Tradition refers to the Apostles and, through them, to Christ. The Church is the bulwark of the Truth because the Holy Apostles who established the Church trained and appointed its "Proestos" (religious leaders) and bequeathed to it the oral and written teachings. The Holy Apostles exercised in worship and prayer, in preaching and pastoral work, the New Testament of the Lord. By them and through them the believers of the Church, in the past and the present, rejoice in learning the atoning truth and will of the Living God.

The personal life of the Holy Apostles is not very well known. For some of them we know nothing except names. But their work remains for generations to come. It was their intention to carry on the Lord's work and will, rather than their own. From the fruits of their work we visualize their character and intentions.

Following is a biographical note in brief on each of the Holy Apostles. The names are taken from the list according to Saint Luke 6:12:

Simon, Peter. Born in Galilee, he was a fisherman and was named by Jesus Christ "Cephas" (in Greek, Peter), and called to be a fisher of men, an Apostle. He was present at the Transfiguration and at the Agony of Christ. When he professed his belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord promised that "Thou art Peter and on this rock will I build My Church", meaning on the rock of faith in the Savior. After the Ascension, St. Peter took the leadership of the Apostles. He spoke on the day of Pentecost and was the first to perform a miracle in the name of Jesus. Saint Peter is the founder of the Church of Antioch. He probably went to Rome and was crucified head downward during the reign of Nero (54-68 A.D.)

Andrew the First-Called. A disciple of Saint John the Baptist, Andrew heard him refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God. Andrew asked for an audience and saw Jesus for a day, then proclaimed, "We have found the Messiah." Eusebius the historian in his Church History states that Saint Andrew later went to Scythia. According to tradition he was martyred at Patras, Greece, crucified on an X-shaped cross, which since has become known as Saint Andrew's cross. He is regarded as being connected with the writing of Saint John's Gospel. According to tradition, he is the founder of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

James (the Greater). He was the son of Zebedee. He, with his elder brother John and with Peter, constituted the privileged group-the inner circle of the disciples. Saint James was present at the Transfiguration and the Agony in Gethsemane. His zeal was ardent and he and his brother were named by the Lord "Boanerges", which means "sons of thunder". Saint James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I in A.D. 44, the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom.

John. He was one of the inner circle with Saints Peter and James. The son of Zebedee and is the author of the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation and three Catholic Epistles. He was imprisoned with Saint Peter and later appeared in the Sanhedrin. Saint John was sent with Saint Peter to Samaria, where they prayed that the converts might receive the Holy Spirit. In Jerusalem, he was present at the Council of the Apostles. Saint John was "one of the two" with Saint Andrew who first had an audience with the Lord. He was the one "whom Jesus loved" and was reclined on his bosom at the Mystic Supper.
Jesus from His Cross entrusted His Holy Mother to Saint John at the foot of the Cross. He was the one who ran with St. Peter to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection, and who recognized the Risen Lord at the Sea of Tiberius, where our Lord spoke to him the words that he would not die (St. John 21:7). According to tradition, he went to Asia Minor and settled in Ephesus. Later he was exiled to the island of Patmos, Greece or the island of the Apocalypse.

Phillip. He is the Apostle from Bethsaida who obeyed the call of Jesus and led Nathanael to Christ. At the feeding of the 5,000 people, Jesus said to Phillip to buy bread, and Phillip answered Him, "Two hundred denarri would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." Phillip on another occasion asked Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father" and Jesus retorted, "Yet you do not know Me Phillip?" Saint Phillip the Apostle should not be confused with Phillip, one of the Seven Deacons. The Apostle Phillip preached the Gospel in Asia and suffered crucifixion, according to tradition.


Part II (here)

Bartholomew. His name is patronymic, meaning "son of Tolmai". Sometimes he is identified with Nathaneal whom Phillip led to Christ. According to the historian Eusebius, when Pantainus of Alexandria visited India between 150 and 200 A.D., he found there the Gospel according to Saint Matthew left behind by Saint Bartholomew one of the Holy Apostles. According to Tradition, Saint Bartholomew was flayed to death at Albanapolis in Armenia.

Matthew. He was the evangelist who was a Jew and a tax-collector referred to as Levi before he was called by Christ, Whom he followed. He is the author of the First Gospel (Evanggelion). In his genealogy of Jesus Christ, he emphasizes the Lord's human nature and origin. Therefore, in Christian symbolism, St. Matthew has been represented by the figure of man (cf. Rev. 4:7). The holy icon of St. Matthew in the Orthodox Church is to be found in one of the four triangles which are formed by the arches connected to the dome of the Church.

Thomas. He was called the Twin. On the way to Bethany he offered to die with Jesus. He interrupted the last discourse of Jesus with the questions "We know not whither Thou goest; how know we the way?" Saint Thomas doubted the Resurrection of Christ unless he were to touch the wounds of the Risen Lord, but later confessed his faith in Him: 'My Lord and my God'-the first to confess so explicitly the Lord's Divinity.
According to Tradition, Saint Thomas evangelized the Parthians. The Syrian Christians of Malabar [in India] called themselves "Christians of Saint Thomas" and claimed they were evangelized by the holy Apostle Thomas, who was martyred and buried at Mylapore near Madras.
"N": Please, see also: In the steps of the apostle Thomas - The Orthodox Church in West Bengal, India

James (the Lesser). He was the son of Alphaeus. Was he the Lord's relative? This is doubted. Was he James the younger (or the "lesser", St. Mark 15:40)? There are insufficient reasons to establish this either. Nothing is known of him.

Simon. He was called Cananaean and Zealot, two terms of the same Hebrew word. According to the Apocryphal "Passion of Simon and Jude", both of them preached and underwent martyrdom in Persia. In the New Testament, Simon of the brethren of the Lord, was identified with St. Simon the holy Apostle. There were many others bearing the same name in the New Testament.

Jude. He is the holy Apostle referred to in the Gospel as "Judas of James", "Judas not the Iscariot". He also is known as St. Thaddaeus or Lebbacus. St. Jude was the brother of James (or the son of James RV), the "brethren of the Lord"-the Lord's relative. Saint Jude is the author of the Epistle of St. Jude. The Apocryphal "Passion of Simon and Jude" depicted them in Persia where they preached and underwent martyrdom.

Judas Iscariot. A selected Apostle, one of the Twelve, he betrayed Christ to the Jewish Sanhedrin-the supreme council and highest court of justice in Jerusalem-and kissed the Lord at the time of the arrest. He later committed suicide. The title "Iscariot", meaning in the Hebrew "man of Kerioth", a place in South Palestine, implies that Judas was from Judea. He was the only one from there, whereas the other holy Apostles were from Galilee. After his suicide the holy Apostles elected Mathias to replace him as one of the Twelve Apostles.

APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION

Apostolic succession is the tracing of a direct line of Apostolic ordination, Orthodox doctrine, and full communion the Apostles to the current episcopacy of the Orthodox Church. All three elements are constitutive of Apostolic succession. 
It is through Apostolic succession that the Orthodox Christian Church is the spiritual successor to the original (authentic) body of believers in Christ that was composed of the Holy Apostles. This succession manifests itself through the unbroken succession of its bishops back to the Holy Apostles.
The unbrokenness of Apostolic succession is significant because of Jesus Christ's promise that the "gates of Hell" (St. Matthew 16:18) would not prevail against the Church, and His promise that He Himself would be with the Apostles to "the end of the age" (St. Matthew 28:20). According to this interpretation, a complete disruption or end of such Apostolic succession would mean that these promises were not kept as would an Apostolic succession which, while formally intact, completely abandoned the teachings of the Holy Apostles and their immediate successors; as, for example, if all the bishops of the world agreed to abrogate the Nicene Creed or repudiate the Holy Scripture.

St Paul and st Tite, the 1st bishop of Crete (icon from here)

Orthodox teachings today are the same as that of the first Apostles, though their mode of expression has adapted over the centuries to deal with heresies, changes in culture and so forth. This form of the doctrine was first formulated by Saint Irenaeus of Lyons in the second century, in response to certain Gnostics. These Gnostics claimed that Christ or the Apostles passed on some teachings secretly, or that there were some secret apostles, and that they (the Gnostics) were passing on these otherwise secret teachings. Saint Irenaeus responded that the identity of the original Apostles was well known, as was the main content of their teaching and the identity of the Apostles' successors. Therefore, anyone teaching something contrary to what was known to be apostolic teaching was not, in any sense, a successor to the holy Apostles or to Christ.
In addition to a line of historic transmission, Orthodox Christian Churches additionally require that a Hierarch maintain Orthodox Christian doctrine as well as full communion with other bishops. As such, the Orthodox do not recognize the existence of Apostolic succession outside the Orthodox Church, precisely because the episcopacy is a ministry within the "one, Holy, and Apostolic Church" of Christ.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES TO APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY

No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people (Acts 5:13). [Note: this shows that the early Christians had a reverence for them.]
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said (Acts 15:24).
As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey (Acts 16:4).
For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 2:17). [Note: this shows that the Office they hold is more than self-appointed authority].
Having been built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone (Ephesians 2:20). [Note: the word foundation is used to describe "the Apostles and Prophets", not just St. Peter].
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Episcopoi). Be shepherds of the Church of God, which He bought with His own Blood (Acts 20:28). [Note: this is a clear testimony that the Holy Spirit appointed the Twelve to be "overseers" and "shepherds of the Church."].
As you sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world (St. John 17:18). [Note: the Holy Bible compares the Ministry of Jesus to that of the Twelve).

TRANSFER OF APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY VIA THE HOLY MYSTERY OF ORDINATION

The divine communion of the apostles by Jesus Christ in the mystical dinner (symbolical orthodox holy icon)

Saints Paul and Barnabas appointed Elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in Whom they had put their trust (Acts 14:23).

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul (Paul), he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, Who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. (Acts 9:17-19). [Note: it is also possible that this is a reference to Chrismation.]

 
"Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stefanos (Stephen), a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochoros, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the Apostles; and after prayer, they laid their hands on them" (Acts 6:3-6).

 
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is the Judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His Kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and they will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come" (2 Timothy 4:1-6). [Saint Paul the holy Apostle hands down his ministry to Saint Timothy.]

 
"For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6). [Note: Saint Paul reminds Saint Timothy of the gift he received through laying of hands (ordination).]

 
"Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the Presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14). [Note: This shows that divine authority is bestowed unto someone using laying of hands.]. See also Acts 1:15-26.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE EARLY CHURCH

 
   
Bishop Innocentios of Burundi & Rwanda in the celebration 
of the holy Apostles in Marusi, Athens, Greece (from here, more here)
 
"Through countryside and city [the Apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier...Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the Office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men (not women) should succeed their ministry" [First Epistle of Clement Letter to the Corinthians 42:4-5, 44:1-3, 80 A.D.]
 
"When I had come to Rome, I [visited] Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus [died], Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In each succession and in each city there is a continuance of that which is proclaimed by the law, the prophets and the Lord" [Hegesippus, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:22] (180 A.D.)

"It is possible, then, for everyone in every Church, who may wish to know the Truth, to contemplate the Tradition of the holy Apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the Apostles and their successors down to our own times, men (not women) who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about" (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3,1) [189 A.D.]
 
"[The Apostles] founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the Tradition of the Faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves Apostolic, as being the offspring of Apostolic churches. Every sort of thing must necessarily revert to its original for its classification. Therefore the Churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive Church, [founded] by the Apostles, from which they all [spring] in this way, all are primitive, and all are Apostolic, while they are all proved to me in one unity" (Tertullian Demurrer, Against the Heretics) [200 A.D.]

Personal note: It is imperative that all Orthodox Christians know some basic theology and especially the history of the authentic Church of Christ.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George


AN EXTEMPORANEOUS PRAYER TO THE HOLY APOSTLES (from here)
 
Holy and glorious Apostles, disciples called by God, teachers of the ecumene, all-wise and Spirit heralds of the Logos, accept our prayer and intercede to the Lord on behalf of our souls.
Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, who were the mystics and revealers of true wisdom, intercede with the Light-Giving Lord to rekindle the Light of the Paraclete also in our own souls, so that we may shake off spiritual indolence and restore the soundness of our mind.
Holy John, eagle of Theology, beloved and visionary of the ineffable revelations and the divine mysteries, intercede to Christ, the Logos of God, that He may always manifest and reveal to us the Gospel of His Truth and His Holy Will.
Saints Andrew and James, You who wiped out the darkness of idolatry with Your inspired teaching, intercede to the Lord to dissolve also the darkness of contemporary idolatry, so that redeemed from error we may worship and glorify the All-Holy Trinity.
Divine disciples, Philip and Bartholomew, You who were clear-sounding trumpets of Christ, intercede to the Lord that we too may proclaim and preach the Commandments of the Savior Jesus Christ, without becoming disheartened by the difficulties of the world.
Saints Thomas and Matthew, You who became excellent servants of the Logos of God, Who appeared on earth, and of the faithful souls, intercede that we too may serve the Lord and our brothers and sisters in the spirit of true discipleship.
Rivers of the source of living water, Saints James and Thaddeus, You who irrigated with divine waters the desert land of God, irrigate again our souls that thirst for the Truth and for salvation.
Spiritual shepherds and lambs of the Arch-Shepherd Christ, holy Apostles Simon and Mathias, intercede to the Lord that He may send out workers into His vineyard and produce zealous priests and shepherds for His Church. Amen.

Synaxis of the Holy, Glorious and All-Praised Twelve Apostles

Orthodox Church in America
 
The Synaxis of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles of Christ appears to be an ancient Feast. The Church honors each of the Twelve Apostles on separate dates during the year, and has established a general commemoration for all of them on the day after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among the Apostles Peter and Paul.
The holy God-crowned Emperor Constantine the Great (May 21) built a church in Constantinople in honor of the Twelve Apostles. There are instructions for celebrating this Feast which date from the fourth century.
For lists of the Apostles’ names, see: Mt.10:2, Mark 3:14, Luke 6:12, Acts 1:13, 26. 


See also

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi - THE CHURCH WITHOUT THE MISSION IS A CHURCH WITHOUT A PURPOSE

The Synaxis (& the Feast) of the Twelve Apostles (June 30)
A Protestant missionary asked "Who brought you the Gospel?" 
The Authority of the Church, the Protestants & the African Initiated Churches
 
Apostle Paul, the Christian equivalent to Mohammed
The historical background of the monastery in Kolwezi, Congo (DRC)
In the Steps of the Apostle Thomas - The Orthodox Church in West Bengal, India 

Πέμπτη, 28 Ιουνίου 2018

L'Africa: un Paese martoriato dalla guerra


L'Africa è il continente in cui si combattono le guerre più spietate al mondo

La foto viene da qui

it.blastingnews.com

L'africa è un paese ricco di risorse naturali e ciò nonostante diventa sempre più povero. Ovviamente le Guerre contribuiscono maggiormente, dal punto di vista economico, a far sprofondare in crisi umanitarie perenni questo meraviglioso Paese. Il continente africano formato da 54 paesi, di cui più della metà sono coinvolti in sanguinose guerriglie umane, combattute tra milizie, gruppi separatisti e anarchici in azione.
L'Africa un paese martoriato dalla guerra - Da sempre nel Continente nero, le etnie e le tribù più disparate (con l'interferenza dell'Occidente), si contendono lo stesso territorio e le stesse risorse. Un Paese dalle grandi contraddizioni: così ricco di risorse minerarie, di potenzialità, di mete turistiche e allo stesso tempo simbolo del "Terzo Mondo".
Dove ogni anno muoiono milioni di persone per la fame e dove le popolazioni, nonostante si dichiarino stanche dei massacri, continuano a combattere tra di loro.

25 Stati coinvolti in guerre

Sicuramente uno dei paesi più colpiti dal conflitto civile è la Somalia. Governata da Siad Barre per 30 anni, grazie anche all'aiuto economico di USA e ex URSS e di una politica interna intollerante, fu spodestato nel 1991. Da più parti accusato di essere il colpevole per la suddivisione del paese in clan, sub-clan e sub-sub-clan. Dopo la sua deposizione Mogadiscio diventa terreno di scontro tra Ali Mahidi e il generale Aidid e il paese cade in una sanguinosa guerra civile che fino ad oggi è costata la vita a più di mezzo milioni di essere umani.
Un altro paese sempre in guerra è la Libia del post-Gheddafi.
Dopo la sua morte, il paese è in un caos totale. Alcune zone sono controllate da due Governi, altre fuori di ogni controllo statale e una parte controllata dall'ISIS. Ma la vera ragione del conflitto è l'egemonia totale sul petrolio non solo da parte dell'ISIS, ma anche da parte dell'Occidente.
La Nigeria di Buhari, Presidente dal 2015, sta attraversando uno dei momenti più significativi della sua storia. Nel silenzio generale dei media, gli indipendentisti della Repubblica di Biafra, stato secessionista nel sud-est della Nigeria, e i fondamentalisti di Boko Haram nel nord del paese, stanno attuando una repressione capillare, con aree rase al suolo, rapimento e stragi di donne.
Poi c'è il Mali, una delle perle del deserto del Sahara, che aveva iniziato il suo processo di democratizzazione, ma che nel 2012 ha assistito inerme, in primis, alla secessione dell'Asawad, terra natale dei Tuareg (tribù degli ultimi uomini liberi), da parte del Movimento di Liberazione Nazionale. Poi all'ascesa degli islamisti ed infine all'attacco militarizzato della Francia, che nonostante l'accordo di pace, tra Bamako e i ribelli, nel nord si registrano ancora scontri.

Sfruttamento di coltan, oro e diamanti

Guerre infinite per lo sfruttamento delle risorse minerarie, come il coltan (materiale utilizzato nell'industria elettronica), l'oro e i diamanti, nel Sud Sudan e nel Congo. Dove gli scontri avvengono anche tra bambini-soldati e "signori della guerra" senza scrupoli. [VIDEO]
Altri paesi interessati dagli scontri interni da parte dei ribelli sono: l'Egitto (instabilità successiva alla rivolta del 2011); la Tunisia, da dove è partita la primavera araba nel dicembre 2010; la Repubblica Centrafricana, uno dei paesi più poveri della Terra, dove è ancora in atto, nonostante l'accordo di pace, una guerra civile tra i miliziani animisti anti-balaka e i musulmani Seleka; il Kenya, dove al momento a creare apprensione è il gruppo jiadista Al-Shabaab.

Guarda anche 

Le guerre in Africa: dove e per cosa si uccide nel Continente nero 
Categoria:Guerre in Africa - Wikipedia 
L’Africa dei saccheggi e l’Africa della resistenza
 

Τρίτη, 26 Ιουνίου 2018

L’Africa dei saccheggi e l’Africa della resistenza



Il continente africano detiene un triste primato, che ormai da decenni lo vede come uno dei territori maggiormente soggetti a colonizzazione e sfruttamento da parte delle compagnie estere che si spartiscono le risorse di una Terra violentata dalla deforestazione e dalle guerre civili.
Guerre civili che spesso sono alimentate dalle stesse multinazionali giunte in Africa con intenzioni di conquista, come nel caso del mercato del coltan, minerale estratto in Congo utilizzato per nella fabbricazione di pc e cellulari, che le varie aziende ripagano in armi da distribuire alle milizie locali perché possano garantire loro il controllo sulle miniere, esattamente come capitò anni addietro nel caso dei diamanti insanguinati. Per non parlare delle estrazioni petrolifere condotte da Shell e Agip negli anni novanta, che hanno provocato l’inquinamento del Delta del Niger, azioni, queste, che non sono rimaste impunite grazie all’impegno e alla lotta del popolo Ogoni e del poeta attivista Ken Saro Wiwa che, insieme ad altr* otto attivist*, ha dato la vita per la libertà del suo popolo e delle terre abitate.
A 20 anni dal suo assassinio per mano di Shell, la multinazionale in questione non ha ancora provveduto alla bonifica dei bacini idrici inquinati, il cui inquinamento ogni giorno mette a rischio la sussistenza e sopravvivenza delle popolazioni locali.
Non manca poi il fenomeno del land-grabbing (accaparramento delle terre), una pratica condotta dalle multinazionali per ottenere vaste aree di territorio, spesso foreste vergini, per convertirle in monocolture industriali di cotone, mais e palme da olio, in particolare per la produzione di biocarburanti.
Queste operazioni provocano l’esproprio immediato delle popolazioni locali che, senza alcun preavviso, si trovano costrette ad abbandonare la propria casa dopo che il governo ha affittato interi territori alle multinazionali di turno, come accaduto recentemente in Etiopia.
La valle dell’Omo è il territorio colpito in questo caso, dove abitano numerose tribù come Bodi, Kwegu, Suri e Mursi, popoli che già sono stati sfrattati e trasferiti in campi di reinsediamento per far spazio appunto alle multinazionali. Qui all’orizzonte vi è il progetto della diga idroelettrica Gibe III, già in funzione, e che potrebbe essere ultimato entro il 2018.


Gibe III, costruita sulla parte bassa dell’Omo al costo di 1.8 miliardi di dollari, consiste in una diga di 797 piedi di altezza (circa 243 metri), un bacino che ha la capacità di conservare 14700 milioni di metri cubi d’acqua.
Il fiume Omo rifornisce per il 90% il lago Turkama, situato nel Kenya nord occidentale, e si stima che il progressivo riempimento del bacino idroelettrico indebolirà il suo flusso di circa 2/3 nel giro di tre anni, mettendo a rischio la sopravvivenza di circa 300 persone.
Questa volta a finanziare e condurre questo progetto non è un colosso straniero dal nome conosciuto e altisonante, ma una multinazionale tutta italiana, Salini-Impregilo, che ha fatto dello sfruttamento dei territori e dell’esproprio dei popoli il suo marchio di fabbrica.
Salini-Impregilo è una multinazionale ben nota in Italia, detentrice di vari appalti, tra cui la costruzione di alcune linee dell’alta velocità, come quella del Terzo Valico Genova-Tortona, i cui lavori hanno causato l’esproprio di numerose famiglie e l’avvelenamento di interi territori a causa dell’amianto estratto nel corso degli schiavi, e la linea Bologna-Firenze, un’opera da cinque miliardi e mezzo di euro che è costata la morte di 81 torrenti, 37 sorgenti idriche, 30 pozzi e 5 acquedotti, inquinando con sostanze tossiche 24 corsi d’acqua.
Queste sono solo alcune delle devastazioni di cui Salini-Impregilo è colpevole, ma può vantare anche l’interessamento nella costruzione dell’autostrada Salerno – Reggio Calabria, lo smaltimento dei rifiuti in Campania, e nella realizzazione della TEM (Tangenziale Est Esterna Milano) che ha causato l’esproprio di numerosi piccoli agricoltori e contadini.
La multinazionale italiana recentemente si è anche aggiudicata l’appalto per la realizzazione dell’area residenziale a Shamal, in Qatar, un’opera che rientra nei lavori necessari allo svolgimento del mondiale di calcio 2022, per il quale sono già deceduti oltre 1.300 lavoratori impiegati nei cantieri per la costruzione di stadi e infrastrutture.
Dove c’è Impregilo c’è sfruttamento, verrebbe da dire, lo slogan più adatto a un’azienda che sparge cemento in ogni parte del globo, senza alcun rispetto per la vita umana e la salute dei territori, ma solo per le proprie tasche.
Vogliamo dedicare questo articolo alla memoria di Ken Saro Wiwa che, a 20 anni dalla sua morte rimane indimenticato, esempio per chi lotta per la liberazione della Terra, per la difesa di valori che vanno ben oltre il mero guadagno.
A lui, a chi ha dato la vita per difendere la Terra e a chi ogni giorno dedica la propria vita a contrastare chi colonizza e devasta i territori nel nome del dio denaro vanno il nostro pensiero e la nostra ammirazione.

Πέμπτη, 21 Ιουνίου 2018

Three contemporary Orthodox Saints & the African peoples

  
l-r: sts Jacob, Paisios & Porpyrios (icon from here)

Saints Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia (an area, whose name means "the hut burner", on Holy Mount Athos), Paisios the Hagiorite and Jacob of Evia are three contemporary Saints of the Orthodox Church, who lived in Greece during the 20th century and "slept in the Lord" (=they departed from this life) after 1990.

All three of them were Orthodox Monks, who had lived since their childhood in the way of life that was taught by Jesus Christ, His Apostles, and the holy Fathers of the Church - a way of life that has been preserved and upheld for over 2000 years in the Orthodox Church.
They had dedicated themselves to God through monastic living - which is the perfect form of Christian life, and an attempt to emulate the angelic life, in accordance with the words of the Lord regarding the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 22:30:  "...for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven...", as well as other fundamental teachings of the Lord and the Apostles, as in Matthew 19:10-12 and 21 and 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, but also as observed in the last verse of chapter 1 of Luke's Gospel. They had reached such spiritual heights, that they were filled with Divine Grace and lived inside the divine light - the Uncreated Light. 


They had chosen to remain poor in money, but were wealthy in love, faith and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 3:6-7,  1 Cor. chapter 12,  Galatians chapter 5).  While still living here on earth God had bestowed them with overwhelming miracle-working and prophetic charismas - similar to those of the Apostles and the Prophets (as it has occurred and still occurs to innumerable other Orthodox Saints in every era) - thanks to which Saints, thousands of people from many lands had benefited from their wise counsels and had been blessed by their prayers.
Many miracles and appearances by them have taken place, even after their repose; after all, God "is not God of the deceased, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32).

We can see here several photos with Orthodox African Christians (from Cameroon), holding the icon of the three Saints, on the feast day of All Saints 2018, which is celebrated in the Orthodox Church one week after Pentecost Sunday and feast day of the Holy Spirit. 
These three Saints are naturally suited to the African peoples, just as they are suited to every person and every people who are more concerned about faith and love and are not greedy for money, who desire the peace and the freedom offered by Jesus, and  - albeit facing life's difficulties and the polymorphous evil that attacks and fights good people - first seek the Kingdom of Heaven where there are no racial or other discriminations.

Translation from Greek K.N.

Holy icon of sts David & Jacob of Evia, from the Orthodox Church of Theotokos Life-Giving Spring, st David of Evia & st Jacob (Iakobos) of Evia, in Nyamahana, Tanzania (more here)


Holy Liturgy in the Orthodox Church in Katanga (Democratic Republic of Congo) on the Feast Day of st Paisios, July 12 2018 (from here)

You can see

Saint Porfyrios the Kafsokalyvitis
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos (1924-1994), Feast day: July 12
Saint Paisios of Athos in the Youth Culture of Greece (photos + video)
Saint Jacob of Evia
LIVE, BEYOND THE LIMITS!

Great Saints on July 11 & 12 in the Orthodox Church!...

"We are called to holiness!" ― Two orthodox voices from Africa about the Sunday of All Saints

"That is the purpose of the Church, to make people holy" : Sunday of All Saints