Δευτέρα 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2021

Venerable Karion (Cyrion) and his son, Venerable Zachariah, of Egypt

Commemorated on December 5

Icon from here (st Zachariah)

Saint Karion lived in Scetis in Egypt during the fourth century. He became a monk and left his wife and two children behind in the world. When a famine struck Egypt, Saint Karion’s wife brought the children to the monastery and complained of their poverty and difficulties. The saint took his son, Zachariah, and the daughter remained with the mother.

He raised his son at the skete, and everyone knew that Zachariah was his son. When the lad grew up, the brethren began to grumble. The father and his son then went into the Thebaid, but complaints about them arose there, too. Then Saint Zachariah went to Lake Nitria, immersing himself in the foul-smelling water up to his nostrils and he stayed there for an hour. His face and his body were covered with welts, and he looked like a leper. Even his own father hardly recognized him.

The next time Saint Zachariah came for Holy Communion, it was revealed to the Saint Isidore the Presbyter what Zachariah had done. The holy priest said to him, “Child, last Sunday you communed as a man, but now you receive as an angel.”

After the death of his father, Saint Zachariah began to struggle together with Saint Moses the Black (August 28). “What must I do, to be saved?” asked Saint Moses. Hearing this, Saint Zachariah fell to his knees and said: “Why do you ask this of me, Father?”

“Believe me, my child, Zachariah,” Saint Moses continued, “I saw the Holy Spirit come down upon you, and that is why I ask you.”

Saint Zachariah then took the koukoulion (cowl) from his head, trampling it under his feet. After putting it on again he said, “If a man is not willing to be treated this way, he cannot be a monk.”

Saint Moses asked Zachariah just before his death, “What do you see, brother?”

“Isn’t it better if I keep silent, Father?” Saint Zachariah replied.

“Yes, child, remain silent”, agreed Saint Moses.

When the soul of Saint Zachariah was leaving his body, Abba Isidore lifted his gaze toward the heavens and said, “Rejoice, Zachariah my child, for the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven are opened to you.”

Saint Zachariah died towards the end of the fourth century and was buried in Skete with the Fathers. 

You can see more here.

Troparion — Tone 8

By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, / and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. / By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! / O our holy fathers Karion and Zachariah, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!

Saint Crispina the Martyr from Thacora (Tagora) of Algeria

Commemorated on December 5

Icon (from here & here): Saint Crispina among the female martyrs in a 6th century mosaic.

Saint Crispina lived at Thacora (Tagora) in Africa, and was arrested for professing Christianity. The proconsul Annius Anullinus presided at her trial at Theveste (or Tebessa) in December of 304. [Thagora was a Carthaginian and Roman town at what is now Taoura, Algeria. The Punic form of its name was TGRN (𐤕‬𐤂‬𐤓𐤍). The Tabula Peutingeriana calls it Thacora.(en.wikipedia)]

Anullinus asked her if she was aware that she was required by law to offer sacrifice to the gods for the welfare of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian. She said that she did not know of this decree, and that her Christian faith would not allow her to offer sacrifice to false gods.

“Turn away from this superstition,” Anullinus said, “and submit to the sacred rites of the Roman gods.”

Saint Crispina replied that she knew no other god but the God worshiped by Christians. The proconsul threatened her with torture, and the saint said that she would gladly endure this for the sake of Christ.

Anullinus told her to stop being stubborn and to obey the edict. Crispina answered, “I will obey the edict given me by my Lord Jesus Christ.”

The proconsul repeated his threat of torture, saying that she would be forced to obey the edict. He also pointed out that the entire province of Africa had offered sacrifice, but Saint Crispina remained firm in her faith, saying that she would never offer sacrifice to demons.

Enraged that she would not accept the pagan gods, Anullinus said that she would be forced to bow before the idols and to offer incense. The courageous woman retorted that she would never do so as long as she lived.

Then the proconsul sought to persuade her that it would not be a sacrilege to offer sacrifice to the gods as required by law. She said, “May those gods, who have not made heaven and earth, perish.”

Anullinus urged Crispina to respect the Roman religion, but she said, “I have told you again and again that I am ready to endure any tortures rather than worship the idols which are the work of men’s hands.”

Anullinus told her that she spoke blasphemy and was not acting in a way which would ensure her safety. He then tried to humiliate her by ordering her head to be shaved. The holy martyr replied, “If I were not seeking my own well-being, I would not be on trial before you now. Let your gods speak, then I shall believe.”

The proconsul told her she could either live a long life, or die in agony before being beheaded. Saint Crispina told him, “I would thank my God if I obtained this. I would gladly lose my head for the Lord’s sake, for I refuse to offer sacrifice to those ridiculous deaf and dumb statues.”

Anullinus lost patience with her and ordered that the minutes of the trial be read back before he pronounced sentence. “Since Crispina persists in her superstition and refuses to offer sacrifice to the gods in accordance with our law, I order her to be executed by the sword.”

Saint Crispina said, “Thanks be to God, Who has deigned to free me from your hands.” She made the Sign of the Cross and stretched forth her neck to the executioner.

Saint Crispina was beheaded on December 5, 304 in accordance with the fourth edict of Diocletian. Saint Augustine mentions her in Sermons 286 and 354. 

Troparion — Tone 4

Your lamb Crispina calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice: / "I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering. / In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, / and I died so that I might live with You. / Accept me as a pure sacrifice, / for I have offered myself in love." / Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

Please, see also

The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place

"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
"We are called to holiness!" ― Two orthodox voices from Africa about the Sunday of All Saints (Sunday after Pentecost)
"That is the purpose of the Church, to make people holy" : Sunday of All Saints 


Greatmartyr Barbara and Martyr Juliana, at Heliopolis in Syria

 Holy icon of st Barbara from Rethymnon, Crete (Greece), 1894

The Holy Great Martyr Barbara lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Her father, the pagan Dioscorus, was a rich and illustrious man in the Syrian city of Heliopolis. After the death of his wife, he devoted himself to his only daughter.

Seeing Barbara’s extraordinary beauty, Dioscorus decided to hide her from the eyes of strangers. Therefore, he built a tower for Barbara, where only her pagan teachers were allowed to see her. From the tower there was a view of hills stretching into the distance. By day she was able to gaze upon the wooded hills, the swiftly flowing rivers, and the meadows covered with a mottled blanket of flowers; by night the harmonious and majestic vault of the heavens twinkled and provided a spectacle of inexpressible beauty. Soon the virgin began to ask herself questions about the First Cause and Creator of so harmonious and splendid a world.

Gradually, she became convinced that the souless idols were merely the work of human hands. Although her father and teachers offered them worship, she realized that the idols could not have made the surrounding world. The desire to know the true God so consumed her soul that Barbara decided to devote all her life to this goal, and to spend her life in virginity.

The fame of her beauty spread throughout the city, and many sought her hand in marriage. But despite the entreaties of her father, she refused all of them. Barbara warned her father that his persistence might end tragically and separate them forever. Dioscorus decided that the temperament of his daughter had been affected by her life of seclusion. He therefore permitted her to leave the tower and gave her full freedom in her choice of friends and acquaintances. Thus Barbara met young Christian maidens in the city, and they taught her about the Creator of the world, about the Trinity, and about the Divine Logos. Through the Providence of God, a priest arrived in Heliopolis from Alexandria disguised as a merchant. After instructing her in the mysteries of the Christian Faith, he baptized Barbara, then returned to his own country.

During this time a luxurious bathhouse was being built at the house of Dioscorus. By his orders the workers prepared to put two windows on the south side. But Barbara, taking advantage of her father’s absence, asked them to make a third window, thereby forming a Trinity of light. On one of the walls of the bath-house Barbara traced a cross with her finger. The cross was deeply etched into the marble, as if by an iron instrument. Later, her footprints were imprinted on the stone steps of the bathhouse. The water of the bathhouse had great healing power. Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9) compared the bathhouse to the stream of Jordan and the Pool of Siloam, because by God’s power, many miracles took place there.

When Dioscorus returned and expressed dissatisfaction about the change in his building plans, his daughter told him about how she had come to know the Triune God, about the saving power of the Son of God, and about the futility of worshipping idols. Dioscorus went into a rage, grabbed a sword and was on the point of striking her with it. The holy virgin fled from her father, and he rushed after her in pursuit. His way became blocked by a hill, which opened up and concealed the saint in a crevice. On the other side of the crevice was an entrance leading upwards. Saint Barbara managed then to conceal herself in a cave on the opposite slope of the hill. 

After a long and fruitless search for his daughter, Dioscorus saw two shepherds on the hill. One of them showed him the cave where the saint had hidden. Dioscorus beat his daughter terribly, and then placed her under guard and tried to wear her down with hunger. Finally he handed her over to the prefect of the city, named Martianus. They beat Saint Barbara fiercely: they struck her with rawhide, and rubbed her wounds with a hair cloth to increase her pain. By night Saint Barbara prayed fervently to her Heavenly Bridegroom, and the Savior Himself appeared and healed her wounds. Then they subjected the saint to new, and even more frightful torments.

In the crowd where the martyr was tortured was the virtuous Christian woman Juliana, an inhabitant of Heliopolis. Her heart was filled with sympathy for the voluntary martyrdom of the beautiful and illustrious maiden. Juliana also wanted to suffer for Christ. She began to denounce the torturers in a loud voice, and they seized her.

Both martyrs were tortured for a long time. Their bodies were raked and wounded with hooks, and then they were led naked through the city amidst derision and jeers. Through the prayers of Saint Barbara the Lord sent an angel who covered the nakedness of the holy martyrs with a splendid robe. Then the steadfast confessors of Christ, Saints Barbara and Juliana, were beheaded. Dioscorus himself executed Saint Barbara. The wrath of God was not slow to punish both torturers, Martianus and Dioscorus. They were killed after being struck by lightning.

In the sixth century the relics of the holy Great Martyr Barbara were transferred to Constantinople. Six hundred years later, they were transferred to Kiev (July 11) by Barbara, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenos, wife of the Russian prince Michael Izyaslavich. They rest even now at Kiev’s Saint Vladimir cathedral, where an Akathist to the saint is served each Tuesday.

Many pious Orthodox Christians are in the habit of chanting the Troparion of Saint Barbara each day, recalling the Savior’s promise to her that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from a sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. 

Icon from here

Troparion — Tone 8

Let us honor the holy martyr Barbara, / for as a bird she escaped the snares of the enemy, / and destroyed them through the help and defense of the Cross.

Kontakion — Tone 4

Singing the praises of the Trinity, / you followed God by enduring suffering; / you renounced the multitude of idols, / O holy martyr Barbara. / In your struggles, you were not frightened by the threats of your torturers, but cried out in a loud voice: / “I worship the Trinity in one God-head.”


Σάββατο 27 Νοεμβρίου 2021

St John the Compassionate, Patriarch of Alexandria (November 12)

In Communion 

St John was Patriarch of Alexandria in the seventh century. When he was elected Patriarch he immediately asked that a list be drawn up of “all my masters, down to the least of them.” When asked what he meant by this strange request, St John replied “The people whom you call poor and beggars are my masters and helpers, for it is only they who can really help us and bring us to the Kingdom of Heaven.” The list ended up contains 7000 names, and to each one St John allotted a daily allowance of money.

St John then issued decrees about commerce, imposing penalties for those who cheated others in the markets, and then built seven hospitals, each with forty beds. To women who came to give birth in these hospitals, he gave a ‘maternity benefit’ upon leaving. He also built homes for the aged and infirm, and houses of hospitality for strangers.

He cared particularly for Syrian refugees when, in 614 the Persians invaded Syria. Many came to Alexandria, where he provided generously for them. The Persians also sacked Jerusalem, leading the saint to send large amounts of money and food to the city, and ransomed captives there.

St John was also a peacemaker. Twice a week he would sit outside his cathedral and would settle disagreements and advocate for justice for the oppressed. At one point, St John was stopped by a woman who was seeking a mediator for a conflict with her son-in-law, and the other religious officials tried to dismiss her and hurry St John along, no doubt to do what they considered important ecclesial work. St John rebuked them and said “How can I expect God to listen to my prayers if I do not listen to what this woman wants?”

Icon from here

St John loved to get money from the wealthy to give to the poor. One time a certain wealthy person tried to ingratiate the saint by buying him a lavish gift. St John sold it and gave the money to the poor, so another gift was given. This kept happening and St. John said “We shall see who gets tired of this first!” He would also say “If in order to help the needy one is able, without ill-will, to strip the rich down to their shirts, one is not doing wrong, especially if they are heartless skinflints.”

St John's compassion, mercy, and peaceability made him immensely popular with his people. Before him, Christianity in Alexandria was remarkably conflicted and at times violent, but through his peaceful mercy he was reportedly able to increase the number of churches tenfold.

St John the Compassionate/Merciful: the Mission named after him in Toronto Canada (photo)

Τετάρτη 24 Νοεμβρίου 2021

Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria, Egypt (November 25), & her relics in the Holy Monastery of Sinai


Click here please.
Saint Catherine, Patron Saint of the Holy Monastery of Sinai

The Orthodox monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai

Saint Catherine was born in Alexandria towards the end of the third century, and was educated in philosophy, rhetoric, poetry, music, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. She was renowned for her beauty, her aristocratic birth, and her wide learning. Rejecting all offers of marriage, she was converted to Christianity through a Christian hermit who lived in the outlying deserts, and took Christ as the true Bridegroom of her soul. During the persecutions of Maxentius in the early fourth century, she confessed her faith in Christ and condemned the worship of idols. The emperor appointed fifty rhetoricians to argue with her, but her presentation of Christianity was so brilliant, and her condemnation of the pagan religion so devastating, that they were themselves converted to Christ. Saint Catherine resisted all the emperor’s promises, threatenings, and tortures, and was at last beheaded for her faith. Her memory is celebrated on November 25.

Following her martyrdom, angels bore her body to the peak of Mount Saint Catherine, where they rested until they were translated to the catholicon of the Holy Monastery of Sinai. Here they continue to emit a sweet fragrance, and many miracles are wrought to this day. The veneration of Saint Catherine spread throughout the West, especially after the translation of relics of Saint Catherine to Rouen by Symeon Pentaglosses, in the early eleventh century. The numerous pilgrims to the monastery from that time resulted in the gradual change of name from the Holy Monastery of Sinai to that of Saint Catherine’s Monastery.

The church on the peak of Saint Catherine, established on the rock where her body was found
Saint Catherine’s Reliquary

The marble chest containing the relics of Saint Catherine is located at the south side of the sanctuary in the catholicon of the holy monastery. It is the construction of Procopius the stonecutter, who took nine years to complete the shrine in honor of Saint Catherine. This shrine replaced the earlier marble chest, which is preserved today in the monastery’s treasury. Inside are to be found two precious reliquaries given by the Russian Empire for this purpose, the one enshrining the precious head of the martyr, and the other her left hand. The relics of Saint Catherine are brought out for the veneration of the faithful on special occasions, at which time each pilgrim is given a silver ring bearing the monogram of the saint, in honor of the ring that Saint Catherine received from Christ. These are preserved by pilgrims as a blessing from the saint.


An Orthodox Christian Voice from Zambia about the feast of the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the temple (November 21)


Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia

The feast of the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the temple is a marvelous model of our entry into the Heavenly Kingdom. The church itself symbolizes the Kingdom of God on earth. In church we see the altar table, which is like a throne on which the Lord God sits, just as He does on His heavenly throne. In church, through the partaking of holy communion, we become united with the Lord Himself. In church, as in heaven, we are surrounded by hosts of angels and saints. In church, by means of the divine services we glorify God, as do the angels and saints in heaven.
When the righteous Joachim and Anna brought the Holy Virgin to the temple, they offered to the Lord a gift that was most pure.

So should we, in order to enter the Heavenly Realm, be absolutely pure, because the Lord Himself said that nothing unclean can enter the Kingdom of God. But we can cleanse ourselves of our sins and all manner of spiritual impurity only through the sacrament of penitence, through confession and communion.

As the righteous parents of the Holy Virgin prepared to take Her to the temple, they first dressed Her in royal garments, adorned Her, and provided Her with an escort of maidens carrying lighted candles. So should we, in order to enter the Heavenly Realm, first clothe our souls in the garment of obedience to the Lord’s commandments, adorn our souls with virtues, and accompany them with the lighted candles of prayer and charity.

Upon arriving at the temple, the 3-year-old Infant Mary had to make an effort to ascend 15 high steps in order to enter the temple. So should we, in order to enter the Heavenly Realm, make the effort to ascend the ladder of virtues, to labor at fasting and prayer. The Holy Virgin went up the steps by Herself, without any help from others, but with the miraculous help of God. So should we, in our attempt to attain the Heavenly Realm, make the effort ourselves, but constantly asking God for help along the way.

Such is the lesson we receive from this wondrous holiday! The Holy Mother of God, by entering the temple, clearly shows us the Way, and through the earthly temple lies the way into the heavenly temple, the Kingdom of God. Let us follow the Holy Theotokos into the temple, into the church. Now is the time of the Nativity fast, a time for preparing oneself to greet the Saviour on earth, a time for purifying oneself through fasting, prayer and repentance, a time of increased church attendance. Let us not pass by this important period of time, for from this holiday, and throughout the entire Nativity fast, we will hear in church the joyous tidings of our coming salvation, we will hear the joyous appeal: “Christ is born – glorify Him!”

The Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the Temple is one of the twelve major church feasts and is numbered among those that affect our salvation. What takes place on this day? The three-year-old Child, the Most-holy Virgin Mary, is brought by Her parents to the temple of Jerusalem. She is placed on the temple steps and, moved by Divine revelation, the high priest Zacharias comes out to Her and leads Her into the Holy of Holies – the place where God Himself was mysteriously present, the place which no man could ever enter except the high priest, who, moreover, went in only once a year and not without sacrificial blood. And it is precisely this place, the Holy of Holies, which the Virgin Mary enters, invisibly carrying within Herself a new, living sacrifice – the forthcoming Christ, Saviour of the world, Who will sacrifice Himself in order to deliver all men from sin and death.

Photo: the reast of Theotokos in the holy diocese of Arusha, Tanzania (here)

This holiday is “wondrous,” as sings the Church, not finding words to express the inexpressible joy, hope and expectation which commence with today’s event.

From a mysterious and grace-filled seed there will grow up a new covenant between God and man. The Saviour’s most-pure, animate temple – the Most-holy Maiden, precious bridal chamber, sacred treasure of God’s glory – is led into the Lord’s temple. And She brings with Her the foreshadowing of God’s goodwill to all of mankind, the beginning of a new covenant between God and man, the end of the many centuries of man’s alienation from God, and the end of our bondage to sin. Only a brief time remains, only several more years, for the fulfillment of that which the entire humanity awaits – the appearance of God Himself in the flesh, by way of the Most-holy Virgin.

She will be brought up in God’s temple – a place of holiness, purity and the power of God. She will be nourished by Divine grace, in order to become capable of containing Divinity Itself, so that the mystery of God’s incarnation could take place through Her. She must become used to conversing with the angels, in order to harken to the Archangel Gabriel’s glad tidings. She must encompass God within Her heart, in order to truly become a new temple of God.

We are all familiar with the words of the Apostle Paul: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” This mystery is revealed to us because we are called upon to become the temples of God, and this is the reason for today’s celebration.

Today’s feast reminds us of the unique significance of man-made temples (i.e. churches). Let us ponder today: what is a church of God? When we come here today to celebrate the feast, we not only participate in wondrous hymn-singing, but we touch upon eternity, which is always present in a church of God. And nothing else in life makes sense except in the light of eternity. We should ponder this and repent of how often we remain deaf and blind to these great mysteries, and reject God’s gifts.

The Church cannot save us by itself. For our salvation we must actively participate in church life. The Lord calls upon us today to think of this, and to see the sinful condition in which each one of us lives. The Lord continues to await our repentance. He continues to patiently tolerate our detrimental lack of faith, and continuously wishes to enfold us within His grace, in order that we may be saved from the terrible misfortunes that are coming upon the world.

And we know that the Most-holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the suffering mankind that is being destroyed by its sins, will surely intercede for all those who appeal to Her with faith and love, and who offer their lives unto Her.

The feast of Theotokos in the holy diocese of Goma, DRC (here)

Let us thank God that our churches are still standing, and that the Lord and the Mother of God are present in them along with us. We magnify Thee, O Most-holy Virgin, God-chosen Maiden, and we honor Thine Entry into the Temple of the Lord.

The feast of the Entry of the Holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, into the temple is a feast of the Church itself. It is also a feast of all of us, because the Holy Virgin, ascending the steps of the temple of Jerusalem, presages not only Her future life, Her ascension into the Holy of Holies, but also presages the affiliation of mankind with Christ’s way of the cross and with His Resurrection. This feast tells us that the Mother of God, Who now enters the Holy of Holies, is even greater than the Holy of Holies. By the grace of God She is more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim. She is above all creation. And not only by the grace of God, but by the hope of all of mankind, which has rushed towards this light, towards this holy of holies, towards this focal point of life and the source of life itself – the Lord – through the darkness of ages, through all sorrows, through all the sins and horrors of history.

The entry of the Most-holy Mother of God into the Holy of Holies is revealed to us as the path each one of us must take. It has been said: “The virgins that follow Her shall be brought unto the king, Her companions shall be brought unto Thee” (Psalm 45:14). This has been said about every person and primarily about children. For this reason children participate in a special way in today’s feast along with us. This is always very joyful, because if everyone were to participate in what the Lord gives us, our entire being would be transformed. The salvation which the Lord grants us depends on our offering of our children and on our own lives. It also depends primarily on how we lead our children through life, for what we prepare them and to what we actually dedicate them. What Joachim and Anna did was a great labor of love. Having been barren their entire life, they gave up their sole daughter. They gave Her to God, dedicated Her to the Lord, as though they separated Her from themselves, in order that She belong entirely to God alone.

What Joachim and Anna have done, offering to God the fruit of their prayers, far exceeds any spiritual labors that we could set up as an example. But let us ponder the following: often we find ourselves in a situation similar to these people – Joachim and Anna, – when misfortune befalls us, when we are in need, when we are ready to promise the Lord everything, say all kinds of words of love, just so He would help us, would deliver us from such a state. And then sorrow passes, need passes. But when the time comes to fulfill our promise, we begin to vacillate. We begin to delay the fulfillment of our own words: “I will definitely do this, Lord, only I pray Thee, do such-and-such for me, what I ask of Thee…”. And for this reason our life turns out to be barren. It is barren not in terms of childlessness (although that may also be possible), but in a deeper and more significant sense.

Thinking about this, we should pray today to the Lord and the Mother of God that we may be granted the grace of understanding that we have a true life, that we may be aware that the event which the Church celebrates today is the entry of the holy 3-year-old maiden into the Holy of Holies and Her sanctification by the grace of God for Her future encompassing of God the Word. And all of this for the fulfillment of the sacrament of God’s incarnation and for our salvation, which is already coming to pass. For it is not in vain that we sing:“Christ is born – glorify Him, Christ descends from heaven – meet ye Him.”

Remember that our salvation has actually come to pass already, and it is not only a remembrance. Over and over again we are given the Lent and the approach to the Nativity of Christ in order for our life to become truly more profound, truly deepen with the knowledge of the one unique mystery – that God has become man, that He is present in the life and destiny of each one of us. He always hears our every prayer, because there is no longer that curse which used to hang over every person, there is no longer that inescapable and ineffaceable stamp of evil which tainted mankind before Christ’s incarnation. The way to heaven is open to every person. We must only desire and want genuine truth, genuine beauty, and the light which had once shone for us, the light which the Lord sometimes gives back to us, and without which everything becomes extinguished.

What can we bring to the Lord on this feast day? The parents of the Most-holy maiden Mary – Joachim and Anna – brought Him their own child, but what shall we give the Lord? Does the One to Whom belongs the entire earth and before Whom all the stars in heaven shine need the candles and the vigil lights which we offer to God? They are needed only to testify to the meaningfulness of our prayers and our standing before God. There are no other sacrifices which we can offer Him except one, of which He says: “Son, give Me thy heart,” because our heart is the only thing which does not yet fully belong to Him. He has given us His own heart and wishes us to give Him ours. He, Who loves us and gives all of Himself for us, is waiting for our love in return.Let us pray to God that we may learn this love. Every person understands what reciprocal love is, and how terrible is unrequited love. It is precisely love which each person needs, every human soul needs. And the Lord Himself needs us to love Him with all our heart, all our thoughts, all our strength, our entire life. And to love God means to keep His commandments, as He Himself has said. Only when we keep His commandments can we learn what this all means and of what kind of love Christ is speaking. Only then can we learn this love and be worthy of the Lord, be able to stand up for Christ’s honor in this world where childhood, purity, and sanctity are being defiled. And this we can accomplish only when we go to church and receive God’s grace there, which is always given as long as we are turned towards the Lord.

Let us entreat the Lord for this incorruptible wealth, which He bountifully grants to all of us by the prayers and intercession of the Holy Theotokos. Let us also entreat Him for the ability to respond to His immeasurable gifts with our love, our entire life, the offering of our children to Him. And most precious of all – the unity which we achieve through Him. Amen.

Photo from here

Τρίτη 23 Νοεμβρίου 2021

Ενώ ζούμε στον 21ο αιώνα, χιλιάδες παιδιά δυσκολεύονται να έχουν τα άκρως απαραίτητα!...


Στον Ορθόδοξο Αμπελώνα της Αφρικής

Ενώ ζούμε στον 21ο αιώνα, αιώνα όπου η τεχνολογία έχει εκτοξευθεί στα ύψη και καυχόμαστε για τον πολιτισμό μας, χιλιάδες παιδιά εδώ στο Κονγκό της Αφρικής αυτή τη στιγμή δυσκολεύονται να έχουν τα άκρως απαραίτητα. Ένα ποτήρι γάλα και μία φέτα ψωμί. Αυτό το διαπιστώνουμε, καθώς επισκεπτόμαστε χωριά της Μητροπολιτικής μας Περιφέρειας, η οποία σε έκταση ισοδυναμεί με δύο Ελλάδες. Συναντούμε περιπτώσεις πολυάριθμων οικογενειών που τρώνε κάθε δύο ημέρες. Προτιμούν οι γονείς να μην φάνε οι ίδιοι, για να χορτάσουν τα παιδιά τους με μπουκάρι (αλεύρι από καλαμπόκι).
Επίσης, στο Λουμπουμπάσι, που είναι η συμπρωτεύουσα του Κονγκό, ζούνε παιδιά παρατημένα από τους γονείς τους, απροστάτευτα, με κίνδυνο κάποιοι να τα εκμεταλλευτούν ποικιλοτρόπως και κάποια από αυτά να χαθούν ή να έχουν άσχημο τέλος. Σε σημεία της πόλης βλέπεις ομάδες παρατημένων παιδιών, να ζητάνε βοήθεια για να πάρουνε ένα (pistole) ένα μικρό ψωμάκι, για να ξεγελάσουν την πείνα τους και να περάσουν μόνο με αυτό.
Τέτοια περιστατικά και πολλά άλλα ενώνουν το πάζλ της εικόνας ενός πιάτου άδειου φαγητού. Όχι μόνο εδώ στην Λαϊκή Δημοκρατία του Κονγκό, αλλά και σε πάρα πολλές χώρες της Αφρικής συμβαίνει αυτό.
Πολλές φορές, οι άνθρωποι, συναισθηματικά, προσπαθούμε να κατανοήσουμε με το μυαλό την πείνα των παιδιών. Δυστυχώς, δεν γεμίζουμε τις κοιλιές των παιδιών μόνο με κατανόηση και συμπόνια. Χρειάζεται να γίνουμε ενεργοί. Με ποιο τρόπο; Να γίνουμε κι εμείς ένας κρίκος αυτής της αλυσίδας των αδειανών πιάτων των παιδιών της Αφρικής. Να ενώσουμε το δικό μας γεμάτο πιάτο με το δικό τους το άδειο πιάτο.
Εν κατακλείδι, η μεγάλη ήπειρος που λέγεται Αφρική, έχει τεράστιο γεωργικό πλούτο που μπορεί να θρέψει ολόκληρη τη γη. Όμως, η ίδια δεν μπορεί να θρέψει τα σπλάχνα της, τα παιδιά της. Ας γίνουμε αρωγοί σε αυτή την προσπάθεια που γίνεται για τα παιδιά της Αφρικής. Τουλάχιστον, κατά την ώρα της κρίσεως, όταν ανοίξουμε τα χέρια μας μπροστά στο Θεό, μπορεί να μην είναι καθαρά, αλλά να είναι γεμάτα από πράξεις αγάπης. 

Αρχιμανδρίτης Κοσμάς Θασίτης, Πρωτοσύγκελος της Ιεράς Μητροπόλεως Κατάνγκας

*Φωτογραφία από τα παιδιά του Γυμνασίου του Κολουέζι

Democratic Republic of Congo 
Orthodox Democratic Republic of Congo  

KANANGA, ταινία του Παύλου Τριποδάκη (πρεμιέρα 29 Μαρτίου 2018)