Σάββατο 28 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Mauritius: a new Deacon (& doctor) in the Orthodox Church

With the blessings of the Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodore II, the Very Reverend Metropolitan Ignatius of Madagascar ordained an Orthodox Christian Frenchman as Deacon. 
The new Deacon - a doctor by profession - Jean Cleper, will henceforth serve the Greek Orthodox Parish of Mauritius, in the exquisite Sacred Temple of the Transfiguration of the Saviour.
The Deacon and his wife, deaconess Sophia will be offering their services alongside the Head Presbyter, Fr. Mattey, who is of Swiss origin.
A new Orthodox presence will be shining even more from now on, in the Missionary land that is situated in the Indian Ocean and close to another, vibrant ecclesiastic nucleus - in the French-speaking island of Réunion.

Sources: Ορθόδοξη Ιεραποστολή – Orthodox Mission – Mission Οrthodoxe – Misión Ortodoxa – Missão Ortodoxa – Missione Ortodossa – православная миссия – Misiunea Ortodoxă – 东正教使命 – रूढ़िवादी मिशन
Translation from Greek by our sister A.N.


Map from here

Παρασκευή 27 Ιανουαρίου 2017

With Love to Mauritius, 2004

By Fr. Gregory Horton 

Fr. Gregory & Fr. Markos... Brotherhood Across Cultures
Mission to Mauritius

This is a brief account of the journey that I took with my dear wife, Khouria Cindy (Elizabeth) Horton, to the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean from August 23rd to September 1st, 2004.   We had already been away from home for nearly a month, having participated in an Orthodox Christian Mission trip to East Africa.  Home was very far away and growing farther with each passing airline mile from Nairobi, Kenya into the southern Indian Ocean.  Our four children had not seen us since July 29th and we were now beginning yet another adventure!

Fr. Gregory & Fr. Markos... Brotherhood Across Cultures 

I had wanted to visit the Island ever since reading about it four years before in a magazine published by the Orthodox Christian Mission Center in St. Augustine, Florida.  I had read that a new Orthodox Christian community had been formed by Bishop NEKTARIOS of Madagascar and that the new community was seeking a priest to serve there.  So it was a dream realized for me when I discovered that we could travel to the exotic island following our service on the team in Tanzania.  I wondered what surprises awaited us after having experienced the intense life of the dear people of East Africa.

We were greeted in the early morning hours at the airport by the president of the Orthodox Christian Society of Mauritius, Elena, a Russian émigré who had married a Mauritian man studying to become a doctor in the Soviet Union many years before.  She was accompanied by her husband, Dr. Vasile Badry, and another gentleman, Alex, who had also married a Mauritian native and moved from his native Austria (he is Serbian Orthodox).  We had arrived on �Paradise Island� and were taken directly to our new quarters�a rented house near the northwest corner of the island, just north of the capitol city, Port Louis.  The airport is located at the southeast corner of the island, so this initial drive gave us a pretty good idea of how far it is across the island on the main highway that crosses it diagonally.  The island is only about 50 miles by forty miles at its widest point, yet the population numbers about 1.2 million people.  So, needless to say, there is some congestion, traffic and always lots of people throughout the island.

Our itinerary was a splendid surprise arranged by our Orthodox Christian hosts.  It consisted of daily excursions to all of the far flung sections of the island with a different family from the Orthodox community each day.  We saw everything from gorgeous beaches filled with tourists from Europe and Australia to volcanic craters at the center of the island.  These were hidden in the highest mountains where one could gaze out and see great distances in all directions, beholding the sea far beyond the edge of the island�glorious!  We experienced the hustle bustle of the large city of Port Louis, with its tourist attractions as well as the humble city market that stretches up and down the streets at the city center.  We also drove almost the entire perimeter of the island on consecutive days, taking in a bit more territory each day.  We passed through many villages with exotic French names such as Flic-en-Flac and Curepipe.  The most interesting aspect of our trip was, however, (at least for me), the people and their unique culture.  Bits and pieces of this were shared by our many hosts until we could see the entire picture.

The map from here

The history of Mauritius is not very old because there were no people living on the island before the Europeans arrived.  First came the Dutch and the Portuguese�but both left in short order.  Next came the French and they remained and colonized the island.  They brought slaves from Madagascar and East Africa to work as laborers on the sugar plantations and elsewhere.  The slaves learned French in order to speak to their masters, but they also altered the language a bit in order to be able to speak among themselves without the French overlords understanding.  This was because they had been taken from so many different tribes and places and would not have been able to communicate otherwise.  This is the origin of the Creole language as spoken on Mauritius.  Together with French, it is spoken by the people on the island even today. 

The next to come were the British, who took control from the French and abolished slavery.  They also brought the English language to Mauritius.  English remains the official (but not preferred) language on the island today.  When slavery was abolished, the British imported many hired servants from their Indian colony.  This explains why 50% of the present population is Indian.  The majority of these people practice Hinduism and Hindu shrines and temples dot the countryside everywhere.  As for the rest of the population, about 30% are Roman Catholic Creoles, about 15% (and growing) practice Islam and the remaining 5% are primarily Buddhists from China.  There is a small percentage of Christians who are not Roman Catholic.  There is a tense balance between the various religious and ethnic groups and the government strives very hard to maintain this balance.

We next come to the peculiar caste systems on the island.  First, there is a similar caste system among the Hindu population as exists in India.  There are the Brahmans at the top and the untouchables at the bottom.  It is amazing that the system has been transplanted almost entirely wholesale from the Indian motherland.  The other type of caste system extends beyond the Indian community and was explained to us in terms of �color�.  Simply stated, the lighter a person�s skin, the higher up on the social ladder they are placed.  White Mauritians are the elite, both financially and politically.  There is a small group of white families that controls the majority of wealth on the island.  Foreigners are generally excluded from this caste system and disregarded as mere tourists, but for Mauritians, this color caste is very serious business.  One is strongly encouraged to marry a lighter or similar colored person.  However, there also seems to be a high level of intermarriage between races and religions.  Many people that I spoke with about this consider this practice normal and desirable for Mauritian society. 

The food on Mauritius is strongly influenced by Indian cuisine, although it has a local twist. North American fast food (McDonald�s, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. is also present on the island alongside street vendors of all sorts and Islamic cuisine (very hot�it made my wife pretty ill).

Another noticeable feature of life on Mauritius is the presence of dogs absolutely everywhere.  They bark all night and the residents consider this to be normal and acceptable.  In fact, one night we were celebrating my wife�s birthday on the beach with several of our hosts, when all of a sudden an enormous canine fight broke out among two of their four dogs on the beach.  Our host proceeded to jump up, grabbed his son�s guitar (after the young man had just played an exquisite concert of varied works with the instrument), and smashed the guitar over the most aggressive dog�s back.  We were wondering if he had ever attended a Jimmy Hendrix concert!  Well, I for one was pretty excited about the festivities, but Khouria Cindy was simply in shock.

Divine Liturgy on the Island of Mauritius 

Orthodox church in Mauritius (from here)

Finally, Sunday arrived and it was time for the Divine Liturgy.  The Orthodox Christians do not gather for services because there is no one to lead them or to sing the services.  In fact, I was the first priest to ever serve in the church (Bishop NEKTARIOS had served several times but never before did a priest serve there).  The church building is a beautiful Byzantine structure financed from abroad through the efforts of Bishop NEKTARIOS.  The community consists of about 40-50 people of all national backgrounds, including several indigenous Mauritians.  We were told that there are several hundred Orthodox Christians (mostly Russians) who would come if a permanent priest is assigned to the island. Khouria Cindy led several singers in the responses during the Liturgy.  The Gospel was read in French and English and the Liturgy was celebrated in these and several other languages.  The atmosphere was festive and enthusiastic.  There is a sense of hope and looking forward to a bright future as the Orthodox community completes the building, matures and acquires a resident priest.  After refreshments, it was time to retire and begin planning for the journey home.

I told the people of the Orthodox Association that I would be submitting a full report to Bishop NEKTARIOS upon arriving home.  Little did any of us know that both the Patriarch (PETROS of Alexandria) and the Bishop (NEKTARIOS of Madagascar) that I commemorated on that Sunday in Mauritius would both leave this life in a helicopter crash a few short weeks later.  The faithful are now devastated and have asked me to recommend a prayer service for them to offer in honor and memory of their beloved founding Bishop.  Khouria and I are still processing the entire trip and seeking to discern how the many varied experiences will affect our lives.  One cannot simply �go for a visit� to these places�the images live within us and will be part of us for many years to come..  

Please, see also
Orthodox Church in Mauritius (official website)
Mauritius: the so called “paradises” and Paradise
L'Église orthodoxe de Maurice
Orthodox Mauritius

Orthodox Mission of Madagascar | Facebook
The Orthodox Christian Church in Madagascar
Orthodox Madagascar
L'Eglise Orthodoxe à Madagascar

Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?
Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa
African Initiated Churches in Search of Orthodoxy...

Πέμπτη 26 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Mission is the extension of the love of the Trinitarian God, for the transformation of the whole world.

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi

(Photos from Internet)

...The sowing of the Gospel speech in Metropolis Zambia and Malawi continues by the power of the Merciful God. But we just started…
The gospel message has the power to change lives, shine light into darkness, and deliver evil men from hell.

If you’d like to join us on a life-changing journey waiting to receive you with open arms and paternal love of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II and his Eminence Metropolitan of Zambia and Malawi Mr. Ioannis.
Follow Me, learn of Me, know and understand My mission and My message. Only then will you be able to be fishers of men. - Jesus’ message to Peter and Andrew –
In Gospel there is power in,no other message and no other “bait” can catch the fish of God.
As Christian humanists we have a duty to progress always further than the superficial, where human existences are formed into groups, so that we might discover the genuine human face, which is never predictable. In the discovery of the differences we need to rejoice in the surprise of the ability of finding a meeting point with another, who is different, on many levels, because in the spiritual world there is no monotony and boredom. And unity in Christ does not fear difference, but rather gives it meaning and enriches it. This inspiration is what contemporary man needs, and this is the best mission.
The church, "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church," is obliged to witness to those near and afar, and to show interest in the whole human being, both on a personal and a social level, for the progress of the whole world. Nothing relating to human existence is out of the scope of interest for Orthodox mission.

Orthodox Church of Saints Cosmas & Damianos the Unmercenaries, Nkhuwala Village, T/A Nkalo, Chradzulu (here)

See also

Ioannis of Zambia and Malawi: "To set our eyes on changing the world around us"...
The Orthodox Church in Zambia & Malawi
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?
Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa

Σάββατο 21 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Saint Philothea Project, for Kenya (St. Philothea of Argesh: a girl who killed by her father because she helped the poor!)

"O man, for your sake was Christ born, and the Son of God came that He might make you to live; He became a babe, He became a child, and He became a man, being (at the same time) God in His Nature, and the Son of God."
The Paradise of The Holy Fathers (here).

Saint Philothea Project is in the final days of preparing to for Kenya Konnection 2017.
This means packing bags, How much can we squeeze into two bags and not go over the weight limit. Limiting personal item to the carry on bag only.
Thanks to the many people who have take the opportunity to use the service of Saint Philothea Project to send alms and gift to the orphans, widows and other poor under the care of Orthodox Priest in Kenya. Special thanks to the following who have entrusted us with their alms. By initials only to respect your privacy and anonymity.
SC-200 RH-50 JH-70 KO-25 SS-500
TG-70 SN-100 ID-20 LZ-150 MK-75
GP-50 CW-70 TB-75 TI-30 CW-50
HA-25 DC-275 AT-50 LC-25 RH-100
YA-5 CG-10 CF-20 MN-50 TS-40
OI-5 SR-70 EL-10 JF-50
Also extra thanks to DC for providing 300 Feminine Hygiene Towels for Girls and Young women.

"What shall the tribunal of the Judge be like, when the Nativity of an Infant, makes proud kings tremble? Let kings fear Him, now sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, Whom the impious king feared, while yet at His Mother’s breast".
St. Augustine of Hippo (here).

Please, see

St. Philothea, the Protectress of Romania (from here)

Commemorated on December 7.
Icon (& more) from here
St. Philothea (Filothea) of Argesh was born in Trnovo, the old capital of Bulgaria, around 1206. Her father was a farmer. Her mother died when Philothea was still a child, and her father remarried.
The child was often punished by her stepmother, who accused her of being disobedient, and of giving their possessions away to the poor. Her father chastised her for this, but Philothea continued to attend church and do good to others, just as her mother had taught her. As she grew older, she was adorned with the virtues of prayer, virginity, and almsgiving.
St. Philothea would bring food to her father, who was out working in the fields. However, not all of the food would reach him because she would give some of it to the poor children begging in the street. When he complained to his wife that she did not prepare enough food for him, she replied, “I send you plenty of food. Ask your daughter what she does with it.”
Becoming angry with Philothea, her father decided to spy on her to see what happened to the food. From a place of hiding, he saw her giving food to the poor children who came to her. In a violent rage, he took the axe from his belt and threw it at the twelve-year-old girl, hitting her in the leg. The wound was mortal, and she soon gave her pure soul into God’s hands.
Her father was filled with fear and remorse, and tried to lift his daughter’s body from the ground, but it became as heavy as a rock. He then ran to the Archbishop of Trnovo to confess his sin and explain what had happened. The Archbishop and his priests went with candles and incense to take up the martyr’s body and bring it to the cathedral, but they were also unable to lift it.
The Archbishop realized that St. Philothea did not wish to remain in her native land, so he began to name various monasteries, churches, and cathedrals to see where she wished to go. Not until he named the Monastery of Curtea de Argesh in Romania were they able to lift her holy relics and place them in a coffin. The Archbishop wrote to the Romanian Voievode Radu Negru, asking him to accept the saint’s relics. The Archbishop and his clergy carried the holy relics in procession as far as the Danube, where they were met by Romanian clergy, monastics, and the faithful. Her relics were then carried to the Curtea de Argesh Monastery.
Many people have been healed at the tomb of St. Philothea located in a small chapel in the belltower behind the monastery church. Those who entreat her intercession receive help from her. Each year on December 7 there is a festal pilgrimage to the Monastery, and people come from all over Romania. The relics of St. Philothea are carried around the courtyard in procession, and there are prayers for the sick. 

Πέμπτη 19 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Malawi, Hermitage of St Mark of Ephesus (Eugenikos = Courteous) : the saint who resisted to Western European imperialism in 15th century (January 19)

An Orthodox Monastery (Hermitage), dedicated to St. Mark of Ephesus, founded in Blantyre, Malawi. At this Hermitage settled the Orthodox monk fr. Anthony and belonging to the Holy Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi, in the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, namely in the ancient Christian Church founded by Jesus Christ and brought to Africa by Saint Apostle and Evangelist Mark.
Photos from the page of the Holy Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi in Facebook.

23 December 2016 (1)
23 December 2016 (2)

The life of st Mark Eugenikos (OrthodoxWiki)

Icon from here
Our father among the saints Mark Eugenikos (Greek: Μάρκος Ευγενικός), Archbishop of Ephesus, was famous for his courageous defense of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence (1439 A.D.) in spite of the Byzantine emperor John VIII Palaeologus and the pope of Rome Eugenius IV. He held Rome to be in schism and heresy for its acceptance of the Filioque clause added to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed and for the claims of the papacy to universal jurisdiction over the Church, and was thus the only Eastern bishop to refuse to sign the decrees of the council. Sometimes he is called "the conscience of Orthodoxy."
He died peacefully in the year 1444 A.D. On his deathbed, Mark implored Gregory, his disciple, and later Patriarch Gennadius II of Constantinople, to be careful of the snares of the West and to defend Orthodoxy.
For his efforts at the Council of Florence and his defense against: the addition of the Filioque, the primacy of the Pope, and purgatorial fire purification, the Orthodox Church considers him a saint, calling him a Pillar of Orthodoxy. His feast day is January 19.


"It is impossible to recall peace without dissolving the cause of the schism—the primacy of the Pope exalting himself equal to God." [1]
"The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics... we did not separate from them for any other reason other than the fact that they are heretics. This is precisely why we must not unite with them unless they dismiss the addition from the Creed filioque and confess the Creed as we do." [2]
"Our Head, Christ our God... does not tolerate that the bond of love be taken from us entirely." 
"We seek and we pray for our return to that time when, being united, we spoke the same things and there was no schism between us." 
"The Symbol of the Faith must be preserved inviolate, as at its origin. Since all the holy doctors of the Church, all the Councils and all the Scriptures put us on our guard against heterodoxy, how dare I, in spite of these authorities, follow those who urge us to unity in a deceitful semblance of union—those who have corrupted the holy and divine Symbol of Faith and brought in the Son as second cause of the Holy Spirit" (s.v. Jan 19th in The Synaxarion, ed. Hieromonk Makarios of Simonas Petra, and trans. Christopher Hookway; Ormylia: Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady, 2001).
"The souls of the departed can indeed benefit to their 'advancement,' and even the damned to a relative 'relief' of their lot, thanks to the prayers of the Church and through the infinite mercy of God; but the notion of a punishment prior to the Last Judgment and of a purification through a material fire is altogether foreign to the tradition of the Church" (ibid.).

Death, Miracle and Canonization

He died peacefully at the age of 52 on June 23, 1444, after an excruciating two-week battle with intestinal illness. On his death bed, Mark implored Georgios Scholarios, his former pupil, to be careful of the snares of the West and to defend Orthodoxy. According to his brother John, his last words were "Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, into Thy hands I commit my spirit." Mark was buried in the Mangana Monastery in Constantinople.
There is an account of a posthumous miracle performed by St. Mark of Ephesus. Doctors gave up on trying to save the life of the terminally ill sister of Demetrios Zourbaios, after their efforts had worsened her condition. After losing consciousness for three days she suddenly woke up to the delight of her brother, who asked her why she woke up drenched in water. She related that a bishop escorted her to a fountain and washed her and told her, "Return now; you no longer have any illness." She asked him who he was and he informed her, "I am the Metropolitan of Ephesus, Mark Eugenikos." After being miraculously healed, she made an icon of St. Mark and lived devoutly for another 15 years.
In 1734 the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople under Patriarch Seraphim I glorified Mark of Ephesus as a saint, stating:
"All of us of the holy Eastern Church of Christ acknowledge the holy Mark Evgenikos of Ephesus. We honor and receive this saintly, God-bearing and righteous man as a zealot of ardent piety, who was a champion of all our sacred dogmas and correct piety. He is an emulator and equal to the holy theologians, and those that adorned the Church of ancient times." (The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, p. 500, via)

Troparion (Tone 4)
By your profession of faith, O all-praised Mark
The Church has found you to be a zealot for truth.
You fought for the teaching of the Fathers;
You cast down the darkness of boastful pride.
Intercede with Christ God to grant forgiveness to those who honor you!
Kontakion (Tone 3)
Clothed with invincible armor, O blessed one,
You cast down rebellious pride,
You served as the instrument of the Comforter,
And shone forth as the champion of Orthodoxy.
Therefore we cry to you: "Rejoice, Mark, the boast of the Orthodox!"
External links

See also

St Macarius the Egyptian, the Great, January 19  
https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEjjW-1QQFMBm1znraPKTeapYzYfkGqHyP_Q5tEEUIJVxyFCiCDRJUgD6iNvbHdlCBZoCP1FOlovnZ-HVgjw58VC-z98L3LC_ThjJe5N321wOMF3jU31KzIzcKqTAylrp05cyreettFBmaVV/s1600/macarius+main.jpgA Greek saint, who went from village to village, compared the ancient wisdom of the Orthodox Christians with the culture of the West († 1861, January 18)...