Παρασκευή, 28 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

In the blood-stained countries of Rwanda & Burundi — Colonialism, War & Orthodox Church...

"Insurmountable difficulties"

Bishop Innocentios of Burundi and Rwanda
Orthodox Missionary Fraternity
 
With the help of God and the blessing of His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, one more missionary journey is coming to an end. Like all our journeys, this one had its difficulties as well. This is so because the populations of the “Black Continent” continue to suffer from the new form of economic, political and social uncertainty.
In the blood-stained countries of Central Africa, particularly in Burundi and Rwanda, the twenty-year civil war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes created millions of homeless people who, having lost their ancestral land, were pushed into the cities, where they formed  miserable suburbs, slum areas with cheap labor.


It was in these social strata that the comforting word of Christ found response. This happened around 1850, when we have the beginning of Christian missionary activity in Central and Eastern Africa. In 1876 the Protestants arrived first in Uganda, and two years later followed the Roman Catholics. Finally, Uganda, Rwanda-Urundi and the Eastern Congo were christianized by the Order of the White Fathers of French origin, while later we had the arrival of Belgian missionaries, who also undertook the education of these peoples. Naturally, the main historical problem of Africa is the setback it suffered, particularly in countries where civil (tribal) wars broke out: Major cities were totally destroyed, education, traditions and historical continuity were lost, while production relations were set back for centuries.
This created the need for African countries to be organized and, as part of that need, there were colonial policies organized on other bases, and waves of European colonists settled in Africa. At the same time, Confessions like the Dutch Reformed Church, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Anglicans, the Adventists, the Chiliasts and other Americans, the French Evangelical Mission, the Roman Catholics of the Order of the White Fathers, and many others, sent their missionaries to the interiors of the black continent.


In the case of Burundi and Rwanda, the Orthodox missionary penetration is relatively recent. My ministry in these countries dates back to 2002. My predecessor, Fr. Savvas, was transferred to another Metropolis, and I replaced him by the will of God and with the blessing of our Patriarch Theodoros II. The difficulties we encountered were, without exaggeration, insurmountable. Our main concern was and still is to help these people, to the extent possible, stand on their feet. However, moving from one country to another was very difficult indeed, and now it has become even harder after a road accident in which our car was completely destroyed. Now we are forced to use public transport, which means a terrible waste of time, while inland the bicycle is extremely useful for our journeys.
The country where we encounter many obstacles that are difficult to overcome is Rwanda. In particular, the government has stipulated that all religious confessions should own a large plot of land (at least five acres) and build a church in accordance with the European standards (water, parking, toilets for men and women, floor tiles, and many others…) and not conduct a divine liturgy in the countryside under the trees.


Ten out of the eighteen parish communities that we had have been closed due to the fact that we did not have the plots required and, in general, we did not meet the new standards. Naturally, we are very concerned about the souls we have baptized (5,000 catechumens and baptized + 2,500 on hold), since we cannot have them gathered. We do not want to be pessimistic, and we always believe that our brothers in Greece, despite all the difficulties they have to face, will help us, as they have done so many times in the past, so that we can buy some plots. These in Rwanda are very expensive indeed, especially the ones near a street (about €30,000-40,000). As for the construction of a small church, that varies from € 60,000-100,000.
The government also calls on us to support its social work for the help of orphans, widows, and multimember families through our own contribution. Our parishes in Rwanda are served by five priests, four deacons, two sub-deacons and fifteen readers, who, in the absence of a priest, read the typikon. We are also moving forward with the translation project: Translation of the Divine Liturgies of St. John the Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, the pre-sanctified liturgy as well as the services of all the Holy Sacraments.


In Burundi, things are a bit different. The government grants plots of land to us on the strict condition that we have finished the building construction within a fixed period of time. And since our conviction is that Education saves the man, we started building six rooms in Buramata region, where the “St. Paisios Middle School” will be housed— an oasis in the desert. We felt it was necessary since all the children who finished Primary School and considered Secondary School study had to walk at least ten kilometers on a daily basis. I will not abuse your love and your patience. I would just like to ask you to pray to God for us and for the success of the missionary work.
You are always in our prayers and in our hearts. Thank you for supporting us in our work. Without your moral and material assistance, none of these would have been achieved.

See also

Articles by bishop Innocentios
Burundi
Diocese of Burundi & Rwanda
Rwanda


In our blog
Orthodox Burundi 
Orthodox Rwanda
Two years of missionary ministry in Burundi & Rwanda 
1st July 2018: how was celebrated the Rwandan Independence Day in the Orthodox Church!...
The Wisdom of the Orthodox Church in Burundi: Victory Against Death - The Sadness and Joy of Holy Saturday!
Police officer was arrested in Bujumbura because he refused to use force against demonstrators (& here)
"Au Rwanda, les missionnaires orthodoxes auront comme principale tâche..."

Eight principal areas of convergence between African spirituality and Ancient Christianity   
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?  


Permanent African Art Exhibition in Thessaloniki, Greece, from the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity // Exposition d'art africain à Thessalonique, Grèce, par la Fraternité Missionnaire Orthodoxe

 
Photo from here / Foto d'ici
 
Τhe new “Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos” permanent African Art Exhibition, where one can see works of sculpture and painting, tools and musical instruments from the countries of Africa, was inaugurated on Friday, 18 May, in an ambience both celebratory and intimate. The inauguration was blessed by Father Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, who was proclaimed Honorary President of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity and deeply touched, he addressed our members and friends who had gathered (from here).

Dans une ambiance intimiste et de célébration à la fois, l’inauguration de la nouvelle Exposition d’Art Africain "Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos" a eu lieu le vendredi 18 mai, où des oeuvres de sculpture et de peinture, des outils et des instruments musicaux de pays africains sont exposés. L’inauguration a été célébrée par Théodore II, pape et patriarche d’Alexandrie et de toute l’Afrique et dans une ambiance particulière, teintée d’émotion il a salué nos membres et nos amis qui s’y sont rassemblés (d'ici).


Τρίτη, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

FUNCTIONS OF THE ARABIC-SPEAKING ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS IN CAIRO

 
 
 
There is a tradition that after the finding of the Precious Cross by St Helen, for Constantine the Great to be informed in Constantinople about this great event, from Jerusalem right to Constantinople they began to light signal fires in places. In this manner the joyful news arrived easily. Messengers at that time, with the transport available to them, needed a long time. Besides, there were many hazards from both land and sea that made travel particularly difficult.
In commemoration of this event, the Arabic-speaking Community of Cairo, every year on 14th September, organizes with the participation of the youth a wonderful function in the grounds of the Spiritual Centre. After the addresses and the awarding of honourable commendations and commemorative gifts to students who excelled in their schools, a young torchbearer enters the grounds and hands over the torch to His Eminence the Patriarchal Vicar of Cairo, who sets fire to a pile of wood. In the centre of the grounds where the function takes place, the Precious Cross has pride of place, in front of which a brief service takes place, at the end of which the Clergy present distribute the blessed basil, according to tradition. The function ends with the hosting of a traditional dinner for all present.
This function is dedicated to the youth, who participate in the worship of the Community, in Catechism gatherings and other activities of the two Parishes, the Dormition of the Theotokos is Heliopolis and the Holy Archangels in Daher and take place with the Venerable blessing and care of His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.
Present at this year’s ceremony were His Eminence Nikodimos, Metropolitan of Memphis and Patriarchal Vicar of Cairo, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Ermopolis Patriarchal Vicar for the Arabic speakers, the Clergy of Cairo, the Chairman of the Arabic-speaking Community of Cairo and others.
 
Archimandrite Stefanos Soulimiotis
مُقتطفات من كتاب "مِن أخبار وحِكَم الآباء النُسّاك " (الكنيسة الأرثوذكسية)

خدمة القداس الإلهي عربي - Orthodox Holy Liturgy in Arabic

arabic articles
saints
 


The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross
The Orthodox Church of Alexandria & the Patriarchate of Alexandria
"Out of Egypt Have I Called My Son"
REJOICE, FAITHFUL EGYPT; REJOICE, BLESSED LIBYA
Nitria: one of the earliest orthodox christian monastic sites in ancient Egypt

 

Δευτέρα, 24 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

مُقتطفات من كتاب "مِن أخبار وحِكَم الآباء النُسّاك " (الكنيسة الأرثوذكسية)



Saint Mary Greek Orthodox Church كنيسة سيدة البشارة للروم الأرثودوكس

بإسم الآب والابن والروح القدس الإله الواحد.آمين
مُقتطفات من كتاب "مِن أخبار وحِكَم الآباء النُسّاك "
نشرة رقم ( ٦٣)

في الإحتمال والصبر(٢/ ٦)
يقول لنا التقليد ان الرسول يعقوب، شقيق الإنجيلي يوحنا، بينما كان في طريقه إلى الاستشهاد، صادف الإنسان الذي كان قد افترى عليه. فتوقف وقبّله قائلاً: عش بسلام يا أخي. فلما رأى ذاك محبّة الرسول يعقوب، تعجب وصرخ قائلاً: أنا من الان مسيحي. بعد هذا، مضى الاثنان إلى الاستشهاد، وماتا بقطع الرأس.
دفع الأب زوسيما-( غير الذي نعرفه في قصة أمنا البارة مريم المصرية)- ببعض الكتب لأحد الكتبة كي ينسخها له. ولمّا انتهى ذاك من عمله، ارسل يدعو الاب زوسيما كي يأخذها. لكن إنساناً آخر انتحل اسم الاب زوسيما، مضى وأخذ الكتب. وبعد أيام ارسل الأب زوسيما احد ابنائه الروحيين كي يحضر الكتب، فادرك الناسخ انه قد خُدع، فقال: ألن يقع ذاك في قبضتي؟ سوف يرى ما سأفعل به. فلما بلغت هذه الكلمات إلى مسمع الأب زوسيما، قال للناسخ: يا أخي، نحن نقتني الكتب كي تعلمنا المحبة واحتمال الآخرين. لكن إذا كنا بسببها نتخاصم ونتشاجر، فخليقٌ بِنَا أن ننقطع عنها لأن عبدالله لا يخاصم(٢تيمو٢٤: ٢).
قال أحد الآباء القديسين الحكماء: ان من يُظلَم، ويسامح، يشبه يسوع المسيح. أما الذي لا يَظلم ولا يحب أن يُظلم، فهو بمثابة آدم. اما الظالم المفتري، فلا يختلف عن الشيطان البتة.

‏ ذات يوم اقتحم بعض اللصوص قلّاية ناسك شيخ وقالوا له: اتينا لنجرّدك مما هو لك. فأجابهم ببرودة قائلاً:، خذوا ما تريدون واذهبوا. فقاموا وافرغوا القلّاية وغادروها على عجل. إلَّا أنهم لم ينتبهوا إلى شيء كان معلقاً في السقف. فمدّ الاب يده وأخذه، وخرج يصيح في إثرهم ويقول: لقد نسيتم هذا يا اخوتي. فتعجب اللصوص من موقفه. وعادوا أدراجهم لا كي ياخذوا الغرض، بل كي يعيدوا 
له كل شيء سرقوه. ولما وصلوا سجدوا له وقالوا: في الحقيقة انت رجل الله.

من هنا

بإسم الآب والابن والروح القدس الإله الواحد.آمين
مُقتطفات من كتاب "مِن أخبار وحِكَم الآباء النُسّاك "
نشرة رقم ( ٦٩)

في الصدقة
عاش في القسطنطينية كاهن قدِّيس يُدعى مركيانوس. كان هذا كثير الفضائل وقد عُرِفَ عنه حبه للصدقة. لم يكن لهذا الكاهن شيء يخصه، ولا ثياب، او أثاث، او أي شيء آخر. فقد كان يتصدق بكل ما يصل إلى يديه. وفي صبيحة يوم أحد، بينما كان الاستعداد جارياً لتكريس كنيسة القيامة، وكانت هذه كنيسة رعيته. صادف هذا الكاهن، بينما كان في طريقه الى الكنيسة، إنساناً فقيراً معدماً عارياً يرتجف من شدة البرد راح يمد يده ليستعطي. فمد الكاهن يده إلى جيبه بحثاً عما يقدمه له، فلم يجد. لكن قلبه كان يتفطر حزناً عليه، فقرر التالي: سأعطيه ثيابي. قال هذا وهو يقول في نفسه: أعطيه ثيابي اليوم، وارتدي بدلاً منها ثياب الخدمة للمشاركة في القداس الإلهي. وهكذا فعل. دخل الكنيسة وخلع ثيابه، ولبس ثياب الخدمة. ثم خرج ودفع بثيابه إلى المتسوِّل الذي راح ينظر إليه مذهولاً من محبته. في هذه الأثناء وصل البطريرك الى الكنيسة يرافقه الكهنة والشمامسة. واستعد الجميع للبدء بالصلاة. لكن حصل في ذلك اليوم أمر غريب. فأثناء الخدمة كانت عينا الإمبراطور مسمّرتين على الكاهن مركيانوس. وكان الاستغراب بادياً على وجوه الكهنة أيضاً. وراح الجميع يهمسون ويقولون: من أتى مركيانوس بالمال كي يرتدي البذلة الكهنوتية المذهّبة؟ وفي نهاية القداس، خرج مركيانوس من الباب الملوكي لمناولة الشعب، فسرت بين الحضور موجة عارمة من الدهشة والذهول. في تلك الأثناء تقدّم احد الكهنة من البطريرك على عرشه، وقال له: ألا يجدر يا صاحب الغبطة ان تكون التي يرتديها الكاهن مركينيوس، لملك عظيم؟ فنظر البطريرك إلى الكاهن مركيانوس وشمأزت نفسَه من الأبهة التي كانت تلفّه. إِلَّا أنه في قرارته، كان يعرف تواضع الرجل. لذا قرّر أن يكلمه على حدة. وبعد انتهاء الخدمة، وخروج الناس من الكنيسة، استدعاه البطريرك وقال له: أين وجدت هذه الثياب يا مركيانوس؟ (طرح عليه السؤال بقسوة وخشونة) ثم أردف يقول: يخال للمرء إنك واحد من بطانة الملك. ولكن ألا ترى يا ‏مركيانوس أنه يجب على الكاهن أن يكون بسيطاً في لباسه لئلا يعثر الناس؟ فأجال الكاهن نظره في أرجاء الهيكل، فوقعت عيناه على ثيابه الكهنوتية الرثّة، ثم عاد ونظر إلى البطريرك وقال: وعن أيّة ثياب تتكلَّم يا صاحب الغبطة؟ أما إذا كنت تقصد هذه التي ارتديها الآن، فقد سبق لي أن أخذتها من يديك الطاهرتين عندما وضعت يدك على راسي قبل خمس وعشرين سنة لتجعلني بنعمة الله كاهناً.
فثار غضب البطريرك لظنه أن الكاهن مركيانوس كان يسخر به. وبغتة، لاحظ البطريرك أن مركيانوس كان عارياً، فقال له: وما الذي أراه الآن؟ فأطلعه الكاهن على ما جرى. فقام البطريرك وعانقه وقال: لو أن الجميع يحذون حذوك يا مركيانوس ولدي، لما كنّا بحاجة إلى وعاظ ومبشرين. أنتَ تعلّم الناس بمثالك وسيرتك.

من هنا

بإسم الآب والابن والروح القدس الإله الواحد.آمين
مُقتطفات من كتاب "مِن أخبار وحِكَم الآباء النُسّاك "
نشرة رقم ( ٦٨)

في نكران الذّات
ذات يوم، مرض احد شيوخ الإسقيط، واشتهى أن يأكل خبزة طازجة وساخنة. ولكن كيف له أن يحقق رغبته في تلك البرية القاحلة؟ فلما علم احد الرهبان الشباب برغبة الشيخ، وضع كل فتات الخبز المجفف في كيس، وانطلق شطر الإسكندرية التي تبعد مسيرة يومين عن الصحراء. ثم عاد بعد ذلك إلى البرية وهو يحمل رغيفين ساخنين رغبة منه في تحقيق أمنية الشيخ. فسأله الأخوة بإستغراب: من أين أتيت بالخبزتين؟ قال: من الإسكندرية. قال ‏هذه الكلمات بعفويه وبساطة. فلما سمع الشيخ المحتضر هذه الكلمات، لم يشأ أن يأكل، بل قال: كيف اتناول هذا الخبز؟ لقد بذل الاخ دمه في سبيل إحضاره. فدعاه الجميع إلى تناول خبزة واحدة فقط، وذلك كي لا تضيع تضحية الأخ سدى.
لقد عاث الفندال في أوروبا فساداً، ومع الوقت دمروا كل شيء. وكان لإيطاليا النصيب الأكبر من الدمار، فدمرت مدنها الجميلة، واقتيد سكانها عبيداً إلى أفريقيا. وفي تلك الأثناء، أنفق الأسقف بفلينوس كل أموال الكنيسة لإفتداء العبيد. ورغم ذلك، لم يستطع أن يربح الجميع ويرضيهم. وذات يوم، قابل امرأة أرملة وفقيرة كان قلبها قد تفطّر حزناً على وحيدها الذي وقع في الاسر. هذه طلبت منه أن يتدخل لاطلاق سراحه، فقد كان حزنها عظيماً لا يوصف. فأشفق عليها الأسقف بفلينوس وبكى معها. ثم قام يبحث في المطرانية عما يقدمه لها، فلم يجد. وفجأة التمعت في رأسه فكرة، فقال لها: أترين، لم يعد عندي ما أقدمه لأحد. ولكن لعلي استطيع أن افتدي ابنك وحيدك، بنفسي. فلما سمعت المسكينة هذه الكلمات، ضحكت، لظنِّها أنّ المطران يمازحها. ثم طلب منها أن تتبعه. توجّه الأسقف إلى الجماعة التي تحتجز الشاب، وعرض عليها صفقته، وهي أن يسلمهم نفسه مقابل إخلاء سبيل الشاب. وهكذا كان. اقتيد الأسقف بفلينوس مع أسرى كثيرين للعمل الشاق في مجاهل أفريقيا. وهناك، كان الأسقف يقوم بالعمل المطلوب منه بإخلاص وتفانٍ، فنال إعجاب سيده الذي توسّم فيه الحكمة والمحبة. ومع الوقت نمت بين الرجلين صداقة متينة. وأراد الله أن يكشف امر الأسقف القديس. وذات يوم، بينما كان الأسقف بفلينوس منطلقاً إلى عمله، استوقفه سيده وصديقه، وسأله عن أمره وماضيه. فلازم بفلينوس الصمت. ثم عاد وتكلم، دون أن يدخل في التفاصيل، بل اكتفى بالقول: أنا عبد لله الذي تمت مبادلته بإبن الأرملة الفقيرة قبل سنوات. لم يكتفِ سيده بالجواب، بل أراد أن يقف على الحقيقة كلها. فباح له الأسقف بكل شيء. فأعجب الرجل بمحبة الأسقف. وقام للحال وانطرح عند قدميه وقبلهما. ثم أمر الخدام فجاؤوا واعتنوا بأمره. بعد ذلك حمّله هدايا وتوصيات، وأخلى سبيله ليعود إلى بلاده. شكر الأسقف صديقه على صنيعه، وانطلق الموكب عائداً إلى الوطن.
في محبّة القريب
قال الاب أغاثون:
لم أذهب إلى فراشي يوماً، وفي قلبي شيء ضد أحد الأخوة. كذلك فإني لم أترك أخاً يذهب إلى فراشه حزيناً بسببي.

مضى الأب يوحنا مع بعض الإخوة لافتقاد ناسك يقيم في قلب الصحراء. ولما غابت الشمس، وأرخى الليل سدوله، ضلّ الاخ الدليل طريقه. فشعر الإخوة بقلقه واضطرابه. فسألوا الأب يوحنا، وقالوا له: وماذا عسانا نعمل الآن يا ابانا؟ إذا تابعنا سيرنا، فالظلام في الصحراء سيدهمنا. أمَّا إذا بَيَّنَّا أننا نعرف ما جرى، فهذا سيجعل الأخ يخجل ويكتئب، فقال الاب يوحنا: نفعل هكذا: أتظاهر أنني متعب ولا أقوى على السير. بهذا نظل حيث نحن حتى الصباح. وفي الحقيقة أنهم فعلوا ذلك، فقط كي لا يحزنوا الأخ الدليل.
قال القديس إسحق السرياني: إذا حدث أن تخاصم اثنان من الأخوة فيما بينهما، فإن مَن يطلب المسامحة أولاً، هو الذي يفوز بإكليل الظفر. فهو عندما لا يحتقر أخاه، بل يتنازل له، ويكبح جماح غضبه، إنما يجعل حياة الاثنين في سلام.

من هنا

بإسم الآب والابن والروح القدس الإله الواحد.آمين
مُقتطفات من كتاب "مِن أخبار وحِكَم الآباء النُسّاك "
نشرة رقم ( ٦٧)

في الإحتمال والصبر(٦/٦)
قال المغبوط مكاريوس: نبتعد عن الله، كلما فكّرنا بإساءة الأخوة لنا. لكن عندما ننسى الإساءة، لا تعود الشياطين قادرة ان تتجاسر على تجربتنا.
تشاجر أخ مع أحد الأخوة، فقام ومضى إلى الأب الروحي ليعترف له بخطيئته. ولمّا رَآه قال له: فلان من الناس يمرمرني يا أبت، وعقلي يعذبني، وأفكاري تحرضني على الانتقام. فقال له الشيخ القديس: اغلق على نفسك داخل قلّايتك، ولا تكف عن الصلاة من أجله ليلاً نهاراً. بهذا فقط، يمكنك أن تنعتق من الهوى الذي يجيش في داخلك. فعمل الأخ بما قاله له الشيخ. وبعد فترة، وجد هدوءه الداخلي.
قال أحد الشيوخ: إذا شُتمتَ، بارك. وإذا قُبِلتْ بركتك، فهذا حسن للاثنين معاً. أما إذا رُفضت البركة، فتنال انت البركة من الله. أما ذاك، فتبقى له الشتيمة واللعنة.
قال الأب مكاريوس: الكلمة الحسنة تقدر أن تحوّل الشرير إلى صالح. وذات يوم، بينما كان أحد تلاميذ الأب مكاريوس يسير في الطريق، صادف أحد كهنة الوثن، وكان يسرع الخطى إلى غايته. فقال له بزلّة لسان: لماذا تسرع يا شيطان؟ فغضب الكاهن وضربه بعصا كان يحملها، فانكسرت على ظهره. أما التلميذ فسقط إلى الأرض بين حيّ وميت. وبعد حين، أطلّ الأب مكاريوس يسير على الطريق، فلمح الكاهن الوثني، وبدى له مسرعاً كما لو أنه كان يحاول أن يختبئ. فناداه بمحبة وقال له: بركة الرب عليك يا إنسان. فتوقف ذاك وقال: وأيَ خير رأيتَ فيّ حتى كلمتني هكذا؟ فقال له الأب مكاريوس: إني أراك مسرعاً، وأخشى أنك لن تدرك مبتغاك، فعبثاً تتعب. قال له الكاهن: كلامك كالعسل في حلقي، وهذا علامة على إنك رجل الله. ثم تابع يقول: لقد صادفتُ قبل لحظات شاباً شريراً، بادرَ إلى شتمي بدون سبب، فكلت له الصاع صاعين. وأظنّه ميت الآن. ففهم الاب مكاريوس أن الشيخ كان يتكلم عن تلميذه. ولمّا قام يبحث عنه، وجده بين حي وميت. فطلب من الكاهن الوثني أن يحمله معه إلى قلّايته. ولما بلغا القلّاية، طلب الكاهن من الاب مكاريوس أن يسامحه لأنه أساء إلى تلميذه. ورجاه أن يقبله عنده، لانه يريد أن يصبح مسيحياً.

من هنا

بإسم الآب والابن والروح القدس الإله الواحد.آمين
مُقتطفات من كتاب "مِن أخبار وحِكَم الآباء النُسّاك "
نشرة رقم ( ٦٦)

في الإحتمال والصبر(٥/ ٦)
تلا الأب زوسيما على تلاميذه القصة التالية:
أقام أحد النساك قلايته بجوار دير، وكان جميع رهبان ذلك الدير يحبونه. وكان في الجوار ناسك آخر. ذات يوم اضطر الناسك إلى ترك قلايته لبضعة أيام. فاغتنم جاره فرصة غيابه، وانسلّ إلى داخل القلّاية وأخذ الكتب وكل ما فيها. فلما عاد الناسك بعد غياب، وجد القلاية فارغة من كل شيء. فقام ومضى إلى جاره وأطلعه على كل شيء. لكن لما أطلّ من باب القلّاية، لمح أغراضه المفقودة، إذ لم يكن السارق قد رتبها في مكانها. لازم هذا البار الصمت، ولم يقل شيئاً يجرح به شعور الأخ. ثم قفل بعد ذلك ذلك عائداً إلى قلايته كي يتيح للأخ الفرصة أن يرتب الأغراض في أماكنها. وبعد يومين، أو أكثر، عاد إليه من جديد ليحدثه عن أمور لا علاقة لها بالمسروقات. بيد إن الذين عرفوه عن كثب، علموا بحزنه وألمه، فقاموا يبحثون عن اللص في كل مكان حتى وجدوه، فسلموه إلى الشرطة، فطرح في السجن. كل هذا حصل، والناسك لم يكن يدري بشيء. لكن لما علم أن جاره في السجن، مضى إلى رئيس الدير وتضرّع إليه أن يعطيه بضعة خبزات، وقليلاً من البيض. فأعطاه الأب الرئيس ما أراد، لظنه أن عنده ضيوفاً، وعليه أن يقوم بواجب الضيافة. وضع الناسك الطعام في سلة، ومضى إلى المدينة ليزور جاره في السجن. هذا لمّا رَآه، انطرح عند قدميه وقال له: سامحني يا أخي، لقد سجنتُ بسبب الإساءة إليك. ثم أعطاه دليلاً بأن أراه أحد كتبه. فقال له الناسك: الله وحده يعرف يا أخي أنني لم آت إلى هنا لهذا الغرض. كذلك فإنني لم اكن أفكر إنك هنا بسببي. ولكن، من الآن، سأبذل ما بوسعي كي أخرجك. ثم قال له: على كل حال، قم وتناول مما احضرته لك. فناوله الخبز والبيض، وتوارى عنه سعياً لإخراجه. وبنعمة الله، وُفّق أخيراً إلى تحقيق ما أراد.

On the End of September in the Orthodox Church...


Click, please:

The miraculous icon of Panagia Myrtidiotissa ("of the Myrtle Tree"), Kythera, Greece (September 24)


St. Thekla the First Martyr & St. Silouan the Athonite (September 24)


Saint Euphrosyne of Alexandria (the monk Smaragdos), September 25
 
Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, the “Apostle of Love” & “Son of Thunder”, September 26
  
The Holy Martyr Callistratus, the Tunisian soldier, and the 49 holy soldiers who martyred with him (September 27)

Theosis, St. Silouan and Elder Sophrony

Orthodox Holy Liturgy in Burundi, from here
 
Father Tychon & The Holy Cell of the Precious Cross († September 23)

Orthodox Christians Saints in Africa on September 23



Books by Elder Sophrony

About Elder Sophrony, click here!  

 
 
Father Tychon

Τετάρτη, 19 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

A conversation with Ghana’s Fr. Joseph Kwame Labi

St Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary
St Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission
Pradeep Hatcher 

Alumnus Protopresbyter Joseph Kwame Ayete Labi (’80) was there when Ghana was “looking for the Orthodox Church” in the 1970s. After Fr. Kwame and a group of seekers met Fr. John Meyendorff and Fr. Thomas Hopko, among others, at the 1974 World Council of Churches in Ghana’s capital city of Accra, Fr. Kwame embarked on a journey from Africa to St. Vladimir’s Seminary and back that has seen him help to establish and strengthen the Orthodox Church in Ghana to the present day.
Fr. Joseph, now the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Accra, returned to St. Vladimir’s Seminary this summer and sat down to talk about challenges the Church in Ghana faces today, the Seminary’s St. Cyprian of Carthage Fund aimed at helping African seminarians, and what the Seminary's role could be in strengthening Orthodoxy in his home country in the years ahead.
Watch an extended conversation with Fr. Joseph below.


A conversation with Ghana’s Fr. Joseph Kwame Labi from St Vladimir's Seminary on Vimeo.

Click

Orthodox Ghana  (tag)

The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place
"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith

Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?

St. Justin Popovic: Whither does humanistic culture lead?
The Singular Goodness of God  
The Church as the Liberated Zone: "All we Christians are terrorist


Τρίτη, 18 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

Theocracy, anyone?

 
Khanya (Orthodox Christian blog from South Africa)

The icon of Christ "Extreme Humility" or "The King of the Glory", from here.
My brethren, really, this is our King in the Orthodox Church!

Someone pointed me to an interesting article on theocracy recently Of Course Christians Are Theocrats | Peter J. Leithart | First Things:
In the final analysis, “human affairs” and “things divine” won’t stay put in their neutral corners. This is why I prefer Stanley Hauerwas’s straightforward confession: “I often enjoy making liberal friends, particularly American liberal friends, nervous by acknowledging that I am of course a theocrat.” That “of course” is the kicker. For Hauerwas, it’s obvious that a Christian must be a theocrat. He’s right. “Theocracy” means “rule of God,” and the Christian gospel is, in a literal sense, a theocratic message: Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. Against the Roman conviction that “Caesar is lord,” Christians proclaim that “Jesus is Lord.”
I thought it was worth reading, and on the whole I agreed with the sentiments expressed.
I recalled the ending of the account of the Martyrdom of Polycarp;, which I have often quoted, where after listing all the secular rulers and authorities at the time, the author goes on to say “but the reigning monarch was Jesus Christ, who rules for ever and ever.”
That “but” is important.
Yes, it is theocracy in the sense in which Stanley Hauerwas and Peter J. Leithart speak of it, but it is not what most people mean by “theocracy” when they use the word today. The “but” makes a clear distinction between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of men, in a way that “theocracy”, in its current English usage, does not.
Now the blessed Polycarp was martyred on the second day of the first part of the month Xanthicus, on the seventh before the calends of March, on a great Sabbath, at the eighth hour. He was apprehended by Herodes, when Philip of Tralles was high priest, in the proconsulship of Statius Quadratus, but in the reign of the Eternal King Jesus Christ. To whom be the glory, honor, greatness, and eternal throne, from generation to generation. Amen.
One cannot determine the meaning of words in current usage solely by etymology, which the First Things article does, So my response to it is both Yes and No, and the No comes from C.S. Lewis, with whom I also agree:
I am a democrat… I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt.[1]
And it is also worth bearing in mind the Grand Inquisitor, from Dostoevsky.

Christ with Emperor Constantine VIII and Empress Zoe

In the days when Roman Emperors were pagan, there was less of a problem. There could be a clear distinction of church and state, between eternity and time. It was easy to be theocrats in the Hauerwas sense. But when Christian kings and emperors came along, a notion of Christian kingship.developed, which has never really worked out in practice.
We pray:
  • hallowed be thy name…  on earth as it is in heaven
  • thy kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven
  • thy will be done… on earth as it is in heaven
So Christian rulers have a responsibility to God and not for him. They are to make their rule an icon, an image, of the kingdom of God and God’s justice. It is when Christian rulers think that they have a responsibility for God, and not to him, that things go horribly wrong. All too often they fail. And it is the failure to recognise the failure that, as C.S. Lewis points out, is the greatest failure of all.
The Bolsheviks thought they recognised the failure, but were trapped by precisely the same thing. They thought they could build the kingdom of heaven on earth,  without God (ie astheistically), Call it, if you will, as Philip Pullman did, the Republic of Heaven. But they too failed to recognise their failure, and thought that anyone who pointed out the failure and failed to recognise the Bolshevik earthly paradise must be mad, so they locked dissidents away in lunatic asylums. Even an atheist theocracy remains a theocracy, subject to all the weaknesses C.S. Lewis points out.
Beware the politician who thinks he knows the will of God, or, in the absence of God, substitutes his own will.
On balance I think I agree with C.S. Lewis: theocracy is the worst form of government.




Notes & References

[1] Lewis, C.S. 1966. Of other worlds: essays and stories. London: Geoffrey Bles; p 81.
For more on this and related topics see also:
 
See also
 
Grace and “the Inverted Pyramid”
Weak, Sick, Poor, Tired: A Story for Losers
Why Orthodox Men Love Church
The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place
"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
St. Justin Popovic: Whither does humanistic culture lead?

The Singular Goodness of God
 
The Church as the Liberated Zone: "All we Christians are terrorists..." 

Giving Thanks for All Things – The Cruciform Life
An Atonement of Shame – Orthodoxy and the Cross
Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me"  

 

Δευτέρα, 17 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

An Orthodox Bishop in Guinea & Sierra Leone

Orthodox Missionary Fraternity


On Thursday June 7, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea, with the wishes and blessings of His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. arrived in Guinea through Mauritania. In the following days, he met with Orthodox Guineans, Russians and Ukrainians working in Guinea and visited real estate to find a suitable plot of land for the construction of a church in a suburb of the capital city, Conakry.
On Sunday, June 10, he performed the Divine Liturgy at the residence of a Greek-American woman. On Monday His Eminence visited the “Greek Square”, as it is called by the natives, inspected the progress of the construction works of the Holy Parthenios Church and of the “Friendship of Greece-Guinea” Academy and gave the necessary instructions for the immediate completion of the projects. The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity contributed decisively to the erection of both the church and the Academy.

On the afternoon of Thursday, June 14, he went to the Conakry port customs office and settled the customs clearance procedures for a humanitarian aid container, which arrived in Guinea a few days later and was sent to the children of Guinea by the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity. It was loaded by volunteers on May 6th and contains- among other things- religious items, 576 rice bags, 100 boxes of biscuits, 96 boxes of sugar, 83 boxes of flour, 55 boxes of candy, 52 boxes of sweetened condensed milk, 50 boxes of cooking oil, 40 boxes of salt, tomato paste, pasta, halva and 329 boxes of clothes, shoes, toys, books, and others. This aid will relieve hundreds of poor families in Guinea, where 47% of the population lives in abject conditions while 93% of them have no access to drinking water, and infant mortality is soaring.
Late Friday evening on June 15, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea arrived in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, where he was welcomed at the port by the Chancellor of the Metropolis Fr. Themistocles Adamopoulos.  On Saturday morning, he officiated at the Divine Liturgy and preached the Word of God at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, and during the D. Liturgy, he ordained Soterios Sesay to Deacon. His Eminence gave parental counsel to the new Deacon, stressing the responsibilities he assumed as a soldier of Christ, and then addressed to the young people, who comprised the majority of the congregation, saying among other things how important it is to take advantage of the opportunity given to them by the Orthodox Schools in Sierra Leone to train and study in model schools and colleges so as to be able to work in order to improve the living conditions in their country and help- each one in their own way-for its  growth and prosperity, always having the Lord Jesus Christ above all and the saints of the Church as  role models. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the youth presented an artistic program of Christian songs and traditional dances, and Sister Minais distributed knitted crosses to all the young people present.


In the afternoon His Eminence was briefed by Fr. Themistocles and his associates on the course of the works and thanked Fr. Themistocles, Maria Adams, teacher, and Dr. Eleni Athinodorou for the great work they have been doing in Sierra Leone, particularly in the field of education.
On Sunday 17 June, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea officiated at the Divine Liturgy and proclaimed the Divine Word at the Church of St. Moses the Black in Waterloo region of Sierra Leone and ordained Deacon Nektarios Kollie to Elder and the instructor Athanasios Sesay to Deacon. In his address, His Eminence referred to the Gospel of the day, gave admonitions to the new clergymen, and then spoke about the position of the woman in the Orthodox Church and the duties of the elders’ wives (presbyteres), who should be role models for all women in the parishes where their husbands serve as church priests. He went on to stress the importance of the work the teachers in Orthodox schools have to do, and also referred to the great destruction that the Ebola virus had caused, wishing it would stay in the past as a nightmare and urging everyone to be careful and strictly follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health for prevention of reccurrence of a deadly virus outbreak in the country.

After the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, the Eminence visited all the classes of the Kindergarten and the Primary School of the parish, and distributed to all the children candy, pencils and balloons, and to the outstanding pupils color palettes, courtesy of the congregation of the St. Athanasios Patriarchal glebe in Kypseli. Next he visited the clinic and the first building of the Orthodox Children’s Village for Orphaned Children, which will be inaugurated in November by His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria.
On Monday, June 18, His Eminence visited the largest slum in the center of the capital city of Sierra Leone, which has sheltered over 20,000 adults and children living under wretched conditions without water, electricity or any access to sanitation facilities. During the rainy season these people are at risk of being drowned by large water streams or being killed by landslides. There His Eminence and his entourage were met by a local councilor, who led them to the rudimentary school for the slum children. The pictures were horrible, yet, despite the miserable conditions and the hassle of the children, they were all very glad about our visit. His Eminence, on behalf of the Patriarchate, pledged to undertake the immediate refurbishment of the school and the rapid training of the teachers at the Sierra Leone Orthodox Pedagogical Academy. To all the children Sister Minais offered candy and stationery.

In the afternoon a gathering of priests took place in the presence of all the clergy and members of the ecclesiastical youth choir. Functional as well as other practical issues were discussed at the meeting. Finally, gifts were offered to all the priests and the young people present.
Prior to his departure from Sierra Leone, His Eminence publicly thanked the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for their continued support for twenty consecutive years now as well as for the humanitarian aid they sent through this container to Guinea and Sierra Leone.

George of Guinea
 
Click


News & articles from Orthodox Diocese of Guinea & Sierra Leone
 

In our blog

Orthodox Guinea 
Orthodox Sierra Leone
The Orthodox Archdiocese of Conakry and Guinea (the Orthodox Church in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, and Cape Verde)
 

Παρασκευή, 14 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross


Commemorated on September 14 

Greek Orthodox Holy Icon of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross (from here)

Troparion & Kontakion

Orthodox Church in America
 
 

The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: The pagan Roman emperors tried to completely eradicate from human memory the holy places where our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was resurrected for mankind. The Emperor Hadrian (117-138) gave orders to cover over the ground of Golgotha and the Sepulchre of the Lord, and to build a temple of the pagan goddess Venus and a statue of Jupiter.

Pagans gathered at this place and offered sacrifice to idols there. Eventually after 300 years, by Divine Providence, the great Christian sacred remains, the Sepulchre of the Lord and the Life-Creating Cross were again discovered and opened for veneration. This took place under the Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) after his victory in the year 312 over Maxentius, ruler of the Western part of the Roman empire, and over Licinius, ruler of its Eastern part. In the year 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire. 


September 14, 2018: Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu and all western Kenya celebrated the Feast of the elevation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross (from here)

In 313 he had issued the Edict of Milan, by which the Christian religion was legalized and the persecutions against Christians in the Western half of the empire were stopped. The ruler Licinius, although he had signed the Edict of Milan to oblige Constantine, still fanatically continued the persecutions against Christians. Only after his conclusive defeat did the 313 Edict of toleration extend also to the Eastern part of the empire. The Holy Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine, having gained victory over his enemies in three wars with God’s assistance, had seen in the heavens the Sign of the Cross, and written beneath: “By this you shall conquer.”

Ardently desiring to find the Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, Saint Constantine sent his mother, the pious Empress Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, providing her with a letter to Saint Macarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Although the holy empress Helen was already in her declining years, she set about completing the task with enthusiasm. The empress gave orders to destroy the pagan temple and the statues in Jerusalem. Searching for the Life-Creating Cross, she made inquiry of Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful.

Finally, they directed her to a certain elderly Hebrew by the name of Jude who stated that the Cross was buried where the temple of Venus stood. They demolished the pagan temple and, after praying, they began to excavate the ground. Soon the Tomb of the Lord was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body (March 6).

In order to discern on which of the three crosses the Savior was crucified, Patriarch Macarius alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched the dead one, he came to life. Having beheld the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-Creating Cross was found.

Christians came in a huge throng to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching Saint Macarius to elevate the Cross, so that even those far off might reverently contemplate it. Then the Patriarch and other spiritual leaders raised up the Holy Cross, and the people, saying “Lord have mercy,” reverently prostrated before the Venerable Wood. This solemn event occurred in the year 326. 

 

 
Feast of Elevation of the Holy Cross in Rwanda 2018 (from here)

During the discovery of the Life-Creating Cross another miracle took place: a grievously sick woman, beneath the shadow of the Holy Cross, was healed instantly. The elder Jude and other Jews there believed in Christ and accepted Holy Baptism. Jude received the name Cyriacus and afterwards was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem.

During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) he accepted a martyr’s death for Christ (see October 28). The holy empress Helen journeyed to the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior, building more than 80 churches, at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and where the Mother of God was buried after her death.

Saint Helen took part of the Life-Creating Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. The holy emperor Constantine gave orders to build at Jerusalem a majestic and spacious church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The temple was constructed in about ten years. Saint Helen did not survive until the dedication of the temple, she died in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross was established.

Another event connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its return to Jerusalem from Persia after a fourteen year captivity. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Phocas (602-610) the Persian emperor Khozroes II in a war against the Greeks defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem and captured both the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord and the Holy Patriarch Zachariah (609-633). 


"Love God and love your Neighbor as you love yourself' Believe in God Who is the Creator of all things. The greatest gift that God offered to His creation, with much love He offered His begotten Son!" (from here).
An African child (from Kenya) forms on his body the Holy Cross in the orthodox way, like the ancient Christians.

The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years and only under the emperor Heraclius (610-641), who with the help of God defeated Khozroes and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Cross of the Lord returned to the Christians.

With great solemnity the Life-creating Cross was transferred to Jerusalem. Emperor Heraclius in imperial crown and royal purple carried the Cross of Christ into the temple of the Resurrection. With the emperor went Patriarch Zacharios. At the gates by which they ascended Golgotha, the emperor suddenly stopped and was not able to proceed farther. The holy Patriarch explained to the emperor that an angel of the Lord was blocking his way. The emperor was told to remove his royal trappings and to walk barefoot, since He Who bore the Cross for the salvation of the world from sin had made His way to Golgotha in all humility. Then Heraclius donned plain garb, and without further hindrance, carried the Cross of Christ into the church.

In a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross, Saint Andrew of Crete (July 4) says: “The Cross is exalted, and everything true gathers together, the Cross is exalted, and the city makes solemn, and the people celebrate the feast”. 


Fr Timotheos Ntumba, Orthodox Church of Saint Nicolas, Bunia (DRC), with the Holy Cross on his breast (see here). 
 
See also

 
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14): the crossroads of history and the Tree of Life... (an article from the Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi)
Giving Thanks for All Things – The Cruciform Life
Jesus Christ and Nicodemus - A little of the theology of the Cross: The Sunday before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me"

 
Two miracles of the Holy Cross in Africa (Congo) 
An Atonement of Shame – Orthodoxy and the Cross
Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
Holy Cross Resource Page
Elevation of the Holy Cross
Kiss The Who's What?  

 
Του Τιμίου Σταυρού & άγιοι + μνήμες (& ένα βιβλίο) γύρω απ' αυτόν!...

Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu and fr John from Kenya 
with the Holy Cross on their breast (from here)