Δευτέρα 31 Ιουλίου 2017

The Truth of the Soul ― "The “dots” that we see at a distance were created to become gods"

“Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving, forever?”
In the classic film, The Third Man, Harry Lime, a racketeer in post-War Vienna, quizzes his old friend, Holly Martins, about the value of an individual life. They are standing in the carriage of a Ferris wheel, looking down on the city scape. From Lime’s perspective, the distance provides a detachment that makes morality obsolete. “Have you ever seen one of your victims?” Martins asks him. His own experience has carried him through a children’s ward in a hospital where the victims of Lime’s scams are on view. He has also fallen in love with Lime’s girlfriend who has been callously betrayed to the Russians. It is a deep conflict regarding the nature of human life.

Who I am cannot be separated from what I am. If I am nothing more than a tiny “dot” in the distance, who I am is of little or no significance. It is also true, however, that the meaning of who I am asks questions of “what I am.” What is it about any of us that belongs to the category of “who I am.”
The same question is presented in graphic form in CS Lewis’ novel, The Great Divorce. There, a bus-load of people make a journey from the shadows of hell (the “grey town”) to the edge of heaven. They are allowed to stay, but every case involves some matter of change, or “loss.” Most of the changes involve strangely cherished habits or matters of identity. An Anglican bishop finds that his “theological” work will be of no use and balks. A mother whose identity seems bound to a child actually demands to have her son (now in heaven) returned to her so she can take him back with her. The injury (murder) of another person has established a grievance. However, the grievance needs to be given up. It has no place within heaven itself. Some things seem rather trivial – a woman’s grumbling, another woman’s sense of embarrassment. But every case poses the question of the truth of a person’s identity. What is it about us that continues into eternity?

A man enjoys a great academic career. Will it matter or be remembered? A woman struggles with a mental handicap. Will it follow her beyond the grave? What can we identify as the truth of our being?
The traditional word for this identity is the soul.
Parsing through the patristic definitions of the soul, its relationship to the body, the functioning of the nous and such things, we easily lose sight of the simple fact of the soul’s existence and its reality as the truth of our being. The soul is an answer to the “what” of my being, and we rightly ask, “What of me belongs to that answer?”
I find an intriguing suggestion in Lewis’ Great Divorce. He offers a character who is enthralled to a besetting sin. In the story, the sin is portrayed as a small lizard that sits on the man’s shoulder. To every suggestion offered by an angel to destroy the lizard, the lizard protests and whispers fearful pleas into the man’s ear. Anyone who has ever known the power of an addiction can relate to the pitiful scene Lewis describes. In the end, in exasperation, the man cries out that the angel can do what it wants. The lizard is seized and killed. And this is where the genius of Lewis comes in. The lizard collapses in a heap of ashes on the ground. However, within moments, something comes forth from the ground. What was once a hideous lizard is now a mighty steed. The newly liberated man mounts on its back and gallops into the greater, deeper realms of heaven. It is the only image of a completed transformation in Lewis’ collection of vignettes. It contains something important in the question of our identity.

Lewis does not treat the sin, or at least some aspect of the sin, as utterly external and extraneous to the soul of this man. He could have let the story end with the destruction of the lizard. I suspect that most of us would like our relationship with sins, particularly those that are most familiar and repeated, to end in such a manner. I frequently hear it said in confession, “I keep doing the same things.” I usually reply, “It’s what it means to have a personality.” Our “besetting sins” are very likely what they are because they belong to us in some particular way. But they are not whole or complete. They are distortions of the self, or, are rooted in distortions of the self.
Sin, like evil, is never a thing-in-itself. It is always a misuse, or disfigurement of something good. Everything created by God is good, only its misdirection and distortion makes it evil. Evil never creates anything. We generally do not and cannot see this about our own sin. The shame that it engenders blinds us to its deeper reality.
I think of the difference between person and personality. “Person” is a theological term that belongs to our completeness, “who we shall be in the fullness of all things.” “Personality” describes that set of tendencies, behaviors, quirks, habits and reactions that shadow us throughout our days. Personalities are largely a collection of neuroses, that set of things we often hope that others do not notice or remember. We long to be persons, only to find ourselves as personalities.
Of course, if everything we think of as personality were removed, many think (perhaps rightly) that what would remain would be unrecognizable – nothing short of a new identity. Lewis’ image is therefore very suggestive. He looks at a personality, complete with the struggle that marks its besetting sin. It has perhaps been dogged and shaped by that sin for years. Its resurrection (for that is how we must understand what takes place) represents not the destruction and loss of personality, but its glorified and radiant new existence. Weakness has become strength – perfected.

In the resurrected Christ the prints of the nails do not disappear: they are marks of His glory. The agony is gone, but He is forever united with those wounds. Christ is forever hailed in heaven as the “Lamb that was slain.”
This, I think, is one of the great difficulties of knowing the true self. St. Paul says that our life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). The daily struggle that marks our lives – the battle with the dogged details of personality – is accomplishing something within us that remains hidden. St. Paul offers this: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Cor. 4:17) That glory is revealed in the fullness of personhood, conformed to the image of Christ.
The “dots” that we see at a distance were created to become gods. Viewing them from a distance creates a delusional vision. By the same token, the weakness and shame that marks our sin, that burdens us with all the baggage of personality is also delusional to a degree. It bears within itself a struggle working an eternal weight of glory waiting to be revealed.
It is in such a light that we are frequently told in Scripture not to lose heart. Be patient – with others as well as with yourself.


Love the sinner, hate the sin
"We are called to holiness!" ― Two orthodox voices from Africa about the Sunday of All Saints
"That is the purpose of the Church, to make people holy"
The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place
And yet, the Orthodox Church have saints in South Africa & in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa...
The Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete - a dialog between a human and his soul

An Atonement of Shame – Orthodoxy and the Cross
Heaven & Hell in the Afterlife Acc. To The Bible
Salvation and atonement (& The significance of the “Antilytron”)
The Uncreated Light
"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Orthodoxy in South Africa before and after Apartheid
Justice and mercy

Σάββατο 29 Ιουλίου 2017

Love the sinner, hate the sin

Khanya e isoe ho Molimo holimo (Orthodox Christians in South Africa)
Photo from here.

I was once chatting with a couple of friends, two of us were Christians, and the third was a catechumen, exploring the Christian faith for the first time, and she had lots of questions. She had been told that Christians should give thanks to God for everything and in all circumstances, and that puzzled her.
“How can you give thanks to God for Mr Vorster?” she asked.
Without thinking, I replied, “You can thank God for giving you Mr Vorster to love.”
And immediately I wondered, where did that come from? Why did I say that? Did I really say that?
I thought perhaps it may have been the Holy Spirit, what St Paul calls “a word of wisdom” (λόγος σοφίας) in I Corinthians 12:8. It was directed to me as much as to my friend.
Back then, in 1965, Balthazar Johannes Vorster was the South African Minister of Justice, and he was responsible for the repressive legislation that was turning South Africa into a police state. He was responsible for a great deal of evil — how could one love him? And yet, in putting those words in my mouth, God was telling me that I must.

And the answer could be summed up in the aphorism, Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Judge not, and ye be not judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned” (Luke 6:37). Clearly, he was speaking there of judging and condemning people, not actions, for he also said “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgement” (John 7:24).
If we were to judge with righteous judgment, then Mr Vorster’s actions were undoubtedly evil, but it was not our task to judge Mr Vorster. “‘Vengeance is mine’ says the Lord, ‘I will repay'” (Rom 12:19), and St Paul urged “Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not” (Rom 12:14).
If we are to judge with righteous judgment, then the important question to ask is not who is wrong, but what is wrong. We are to love our enemies, even Mr Vorster.
And when I became Orthodox this was stressed even more strongly: before receiving holy communion, one must forgive everyone. We pray to our Lord Jesus Christ “who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first”. If we think that other people deserve condemnation for their sins, then we’ve missed the point: we need to begin with ourselves.
But then a friend referred to the following article. I normally try to avoid stuff on the Patheos web site, but this one, whose conclusion counters everything I’ve learned over the last 50 years and more, caught my attention.
Let’s Be Honest… “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner” is Really Just Hate
Ask anyone on the receiving end of being loved while their sin is hated. They will tell you it’s the same as being hated – for the exact reasons Gandhi wrote: because it’s virtually impossible to love someone but hate their sin.
We get caught up in judging them, and we feel self-righteous compared to them, we won’t just let the issue be, leave the issue between them and God, but continue to bring it up and try to change it… and so the poison of hatred spreads in the world – just as Gandhi said.
I read it, and it struck me that what it said was evil, very evil indeed. There is so much magnificent truth wrapped up in such appalling falsehoods that it smacks of perversity even to attack its perverseness.[1] And the conclusion is altogether evil.
If one takes that article at face value, then it means that:
  • One cannot love a corrupt politician without loving corruption too
  • One cannot love a police torturer without loving torture too
  • One cannot love a rapist without loving rape too
And going back to the 1960s and 1970s there were lots of people who argued in that way. When people spoke of the injustices done in the name of the government policy of apartheid, some said that yes, justice is important, but we must have reconciliation too. By this they often meant that those who supported apartheid and those who opposed it needed to be reconciled and therefore good and evil needed to be reconciled.


In 1965, when we had the discussion I referred to above, we were members of an Anglican church in Pietermaritzburg (where we were then students), and one of the priests (who eventually baptised my catechumen friend) used to read from a book, The will and the way by Harry Blamires, which he used to point out the errors of such behaviour. He pointed out that for many Christians the Christian God had been replaced by the god of twentieth-century sentimental theology:
Are we faced with evil whose roots reach down to the depths where angels and demons are locked in mortal combat? Don’t worry, a word of prayer to the god of sentimental theology and we shall be granted the dubious capacity to meet all comers, friend and foe, with the same inscrutably acquiescent grin.
No, saying that “‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ is really just hate” is thoroughly dishonest, and thoroughly evil.
It seems to belong in the same category of other weird American ideas that lack all logic and indicate a broken moral compass as those who say that saying “All lives matter” is evil and racist. But I’ve discussed that in another article here: How antiracism became racist: all lives matter.
No, if we are Christians we must love the sinner but hate the sin.
We must
  • Love the oppressor but hate oppression
  • Love the corrupt politician and businessman, but hate corruption
  • Love the warmonger but hate war
  • Love the exploiter but hate exploitation
If we hate the people, we will become like them. And if we love the deeds, we will also become like them.

Notes & References

[1] Blamires, Harry. 1957. The Will and the Way. London: SPCK.
About 30 years ago I lent my copy to someone who never returned it, so all quotations are from memory.
This also works the other way round.
When people say good things, it doesn’t really matter who said them, but what they say is more important. The saying “Live the sinner, hate the sin” has been attributed to St Augustine of Hippo and Mahatma Gandhi. That doesn’t matter so much — what’s said is more important than who said it, and it succinctly expresses an important aspect of Christian ethics.
The other quote, in the graphic is attributed to a guy called Phil Robertson. I know nothing about him, but I suspect that he may be a character in a US TV show where the characters look a bit like monks but aren’t. But even if he isn’t a monk, it’s the kind of thing a monk could have said.

"We are called to holiness!" ― Two orthodox voices from Africa about the Sunday of All Saints 
"That is the purpose of the Church, to make people holy"


Πέμπτη 27 Ιουλίου 2017

From Zambia & Malawi: Greatmartyr and Healer Panteleimon, “a lion in everything” & “all-merciful”

Commemorated on July 27

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi

"...This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means “a lion in everything”. His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means “all-merciful”, is manifest in the veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds.The holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayers for the Sick."

Icon from here
The Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother Saint Euboula (March 30) was a Christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. Pantoleon came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling.
The hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, survivors of the massacre of 20,000 Christians in 303 (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. Saint Hermolaus saw Pantoleon time and again when he came to the house where they were hiding. Once, the priest invited the youth to the house and spoke about the Christian Faith. After this Pantoleon visited Saint Hermolaus every day.

One day the saint found a dead child on the street. He had been bitten by a great snake, which was still beside the child’s body. Pantoleon began to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to revive the dead child and to destroy the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved that if his prayer were fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and receive Baptism. The child rose up alive, and the snake died before Pantoleon’s eyes.
After this miracle, Pantoleon was baptized by Saint Hermolaus with the name Panteleimon (meaning “all-merciful”). Speaking with Eustorgius, Saint Panteleimon prepared him to accept Christianity. When the father saw how his son healed a blind man by invoking Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptized by Saint Hermolaus together with the man whose sight was restored.
After the death of his father, Saint Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering, the sick, the unfortunate and the needy. He treated all those who turned to him without charge, healing them in the name of Jesus Christ. He visited those held captive in prison. These were usually Christians, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short time, reports of the charitable physician spread throughout the city. Forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to Saint Panteleimon.

The envious doctors told the emperor that Saint Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the saint to refute the charge by offering sacrifice to idols. Saint Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian, and suggested that a sick person, for whom the doctors held out no hope, should be brought before the emperor. Then the doctors could invoke their gods, and Panteleimon would pray to his God to heal the man. A man paralyzed for many years was brought in, and pagan priests who knew the art of medicine invoked their gods without success. Then, before the very eyes of the emperor, the saint healed the paralytic by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed man, and gave Saint Panteleimon over to fierce torture.
The Lord appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings. They suspended the Great Martyr Panteleimon from a tree and scraped him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched him on the rack, threw him into a cauldron of boiling tar, and cast him into the sea with a stone around his neck. Throughout these tortures the martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the emperor.
At this time the priests Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates were brought before the court of the pagans. All three confessed their faith in the Savior and were beheaded (July 26).
By order of the emperor they brought the Great Martyr Panteleimon to the circus to be devoured by wild beasts. The animals, however, came up to him and licked his feet. The spectators began to shout, “Great is the God of the Christians!” The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab with the sword anyone who glorified Christ, and to cut off the head of the Great Martyr Panteleimon.

They led the saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. While the martyr prayed, one of the soldiers struck him with a sword, but the sword became soft like wax and inflicted no wound. The saint completed his prayer, and a Voice was heard from Heaven, calling the passion-bearer by his new name and summoning him to the heavenly Kingdom.
Hearing the Voice, the soldiers fell down on their knees before the holy martyr and begged forgiveness. They refused to continue with the execution, but Saint Panteleimon told them to fulfill the emperor’s command, because otherwise they would have no share with him in the future life. The soldiers tearfully took their leave of the saint with a kiss.
When the saint was beheaded, the olive tree to which the saint was tied became covered with fruit. Many who were present at the execution believed in Christ. The saint’s body was thrown into a fire, but remained unharmed, and was buried by Christians. Saint Panteleimon’s servants Laurence, Bassos and Probus witnessed his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven. They recorded the life, the sufferings and death of the saint.
Portions of the holy relics of the Great Martyr Panteleimon were distributed throughout all the Christian world. His venerable head is now located at the Russian monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mt. Athos.

The veneration of the holy martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church was already known in the twelfth century. Prince Izyaslav (in Baptism, Panteleimon), the son of Saint Mstislav the Great, had an image of Saint Panteleimon on his helmet. Through the intercession of the saint he remained alive during a battle in the year 1151. On the Feast of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Russian forces won two naval victories over the Swedes (in 1714 near Hanhauze and in 1720 near Grenham).
Saint Panteleimon is venerated in the Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, and the protector of soldiers. This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means “a lion in everything”. His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means “all-merciful”, is manifest in the veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds.
The holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayers for the Sick.

See also

Anargyri: Holy Unmercenary Doctors
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
"Partakers of Divine Nature" - About Deification & Uncreated Light in Orthodox Church
The Uncreated Light

"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 

Orthodox Zambia
Orthodox Malawi
The Orthodox Church in Zambia & Malawi (Orthodox Archdiocese of Zambia and Malawi)

St. Irene Chrysovalantou the Wonder Worker

Icon from here
Saint Irene was the daughter of a wealthy family from Cappadocia, and was born in the ninth century.After the death of her husband Theophilus, the empress Theodora ruled the Byzantine Empire as regent for her young son Michael. Saint Theodora (February 11) helped to defeat the iconoclast heresy, and to restore the holy icons. We commemorate this Triumph of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Great Lent.
When Michael was twelve years of age, Saint Theodora sent messengers throughout the Empire to find a suitably virtuous and refined girl to be his wife. Saint Irene was chosen, and she agreed to the marriage. While passing Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor, Irene asked to stop so she could receive the blessing of Saint Joannicius (November 4), who lived on the mountain. The saint, who showed himself only to the most worthy pilgrims, foresaw the arrival of Saint Irene, and also her future life.
The holy ascetic welcomed her and told her to proceed to Constantinople, where the women’s monastery of Chrysovalantou had need of her. Amazed at his clairvoyance, Irene fell to the ground and asked Saint Joannicius for his blessing. After blessing her and giving her spiritual counsel, he sent her on her way.

When the party arrived in Constantinople, Irene’s relatives met her with great ceremony. Since “the steps of a man are rightly ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 36/37:23), God arranged for Michael to marry another girl a few days before, so that Irene might be free to become a bride of Christ. Far from being disappointed, Irene rejoiced at this turn of events.
Remembering the words of Saint Joannicius, Irene visited the Monastery of Chrysovalantou. She was so impressed by the nuns and their way of life that she freed her slaves and distributed her wealth to the poor. She exchanged her fine clothing for the simple garb of a nun, and served the sisters with great humility and obedience. The abbess was impressed with the way that Irene performed the most menial and disagreeable tasks without complaint.
Saint Irene often read the Lives of the Saints in her cell, imitating their virtues to the best of her ability. She often stood in prayer all night with her hands raised like Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 17:11-13). Saint Irene spent the next few years in spiritual struggles defeating the assaults of the demons, and bringing forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
When the abbess sensed the approach of death, she told the other nuns that they should not accept anyone but Irene as the new abbess. Irene was not told of the abbess’s instructions, and when she died the community sent representatives to go and seek the advice of the patriarch, Saint Methodius (June 14). He asked them whom they wanted as their superior. They replied that they believed he would be guided by the Holy Spirit. Without knowing of the late abbess’s instructions to the nuns, he asked if there was a humble nun by the name of Irene in their monastery. If so, he said, they should choose her. The nuns rejoiced and gave thanks to God. Saint Methodius elevated Irene to the rank of abbess and advised her how to guide those in her charge.

Returning to the monastery, Irene prayed that God would help her to care for those under her, and redoubled her own spiritual efforts. She displayed great wisdom in leading the nuns, and received many revelations from God to assist her in carrying out her duties. She also asked for the gift of clairvoyance so that she would know what trials awaited her nuns. Thus, she was in a better position to give them the proper advice. She never used this knowledge to embarrass others, but only to correct their confessions in a way which let them know that she possessed certain spiritual gifts.
Although Saint Irene performed many miracles during her life, let us mention only one. On great Feasts it was her habit to keep vigil in the monastery courtyard under the starry skies. Once, a nun who was unable to sleep left her cell and went into the courtyard. There she saw Abbess Irene levitating a few feet above the ground, completely absorbed in prayer. The astonished nun also noticed that two cypress trees had bowed their heads to the ground, as if in homage. When she finished praying, Irene blessed the trees and they returned to their upright position.
Afraid that this might be a temptation from the demons, the nun returned the next night to see if she had been mistaken. Again she saw Irene levitating as she prayed, and the cypress trees bowing down. The nun tied handkerchiefs to the tops of the two trees before they went back to their places. When the other sisters saw the handkerchiefs atop the trees, they began to wonder who had put them there. Then the nun who had witnessed these strange events revealed to the others what she had seen. When Saint Irene learned that the nun had witnessed the miracle and told the others, she was very upset. She warned them not to speak of it to anyone until after her death. 

Saint Irene observed the Feast of Saint Basil (January 1) with great devotion, since he also came from Cappadocia. One year, after celebrating the feast, Saint Irene heard a voice during the night telling her to welcome the sailor who would come to the door the next day. She was told to rejoice and eat the fruit which the sailor would bring her. During Matins, a sailor did come to the door and remained in church until after Liturgy. He told her that he had come from Patmos, where he boarded a ship. As the ship set sail, he noticed an old man on the shore calling for them to stop. In spite of a good wind, the ship came to a sudden halt. Then the old man walked across the water and entered the ship. He gave the sailor three apples which God was sending to the patriarch “from His beloved disciple John.” Then the old man gave the sailor three more apples for the abbess of Chrysovalantou. He told the sailor that if Irene ate the apples, all that her soul desired would be granted, “for this gift comes from John in Paradise.”

Saint Irene fasted for a week, giving thanks to God for this wonderful gift. For forty days, she ate small pieces of the first apple every day. During this time she had nothing else to eat or drink. On Holy Thursday, she told the nuns to receive the Holy Mysteries, then gave each one a piece of the second apple. They noticed an unusual sweetness, and felt as if their very souls were being nourished.
An angel informed Saint Irene that she would be called to the Lord on the day after Saint
Panteleimon’s feast. The monastery’s feast day fell on July 26, so Saint Irene prepared by fasting for a week beforehand. She took only a little water and small pieces of the third apple sent to her by Saint John. The whole monastery was filled with a heavenly fragrance, and all discord disappeared.
On July 28, Saint Irene called the nuns together in order to bid them farewell. She also told them to select Sister Mary as her successor, for she would keep them on the narrow way which leads to life (Matthew 7:14). After entreating God to protect her flock from the power of the devil, she smiled when she saw the angels who had been sent to receive her soul. Then she closed her eyes and surrendered her soul to God.
Saint Irene was more than 101 years old when she died, yet her face appeared young and beautiful. A great crowd of people came for her funeral, and many miracles took place at her tomb.
In some parishes it is customary to bless apples on the feast of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou.


Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
"Partakers of Divine Nature" - About Deification & Uncreated Light in Orthodox Church
The Uncreated Light
Male and Female Created He Them
Orthodox Women Saints
The African Woman & the role of Woman in Orthodox Church: she must become the light of the world

Σάββατο 22 Ιουλίου 2017

Mtakatifu Moses wa Ethiopia († 405) – 28 Agosti

Musa Mwafrika, maarufu pia kama Musa Mwizi (330–405), alikuwa mmonaki padri nchini Misri na mmojawapo kati ya mababu wa jangwani.
Sikukuu yake huadhimishwa tarehe 1 Julai na tarehe 28 Agosti.
Mzaliwa wa Ethiopia, Musa alikuwa mtumishi wa afisa wa serikali nchini Misri mpaka alipofukuzwa kwa thuhuma za kuiba na kuua.
Akiwa jitu, akawa bosi wa kundi la majambazi lililotisha watu wa bonde la Nile kwa ukatili.
Alipojaribu kukwepa waliokuwa wanamwinda, alifichama kwa wamonaki wa jangwani huko Wadi El Natrun (Sketes), karibu na Alexandria. Juhudi za kiroho, utulivu na furaha walivyokuwa navyo vilimuathiri kwa dhati. Muda mfupi baadaye aliacha mtindo wake wa kuishi, akabatizwa na kujiunga na monasteri ile.

Kwanza alipata shida sana kuzoea nidhamu ya jumuia ile. Alipovamiwa na wezi chumbani mwake, aliwazidi nguvu akawaburuza hadi katika kikanisa walimokuwemo wenzake wakisali ili aambiwe awafanyie nini wageni hao.
Musa alikuwa na ari katika yote aliyoyafanya, lakini alikata tamaa alipojitambua si mkamilifu kutosha. Hapo abati Isidori alimchukua alfajiri hadi juu ya paa ili kutazama miali ya kwanza ya jua. Halafu akamuambia, “Taratibu tu miali ya jua inaondoa usiku na kuleta mchana mpya, na vilevile taratibu tu mtu anakuwa mwanasala kamili.”
Baadaye Musa akawa mwenyewe kiongozi wa jumuia ya wakaapweke katika sehemu nyingine ya jangwa akapewa upadrisho.
Alipokuwa na umri wa miaka 75 hivi, ilisikika kwamba kundi la Waberber limepanga kushambulia monasteri yao. Wenzake walitaka kujihami, lakini Musa aliwazuia akawaambia ni afadhali wakimbie kuliko kushika silaha. Mwenyewe na wengine 7 walibaki hadi walipouawa tarehe 1 Julai.
Kwa sababu hiyo Musa Mwafrika anaheshimiwa leo kama mtetezi wa msimamo wa kukataa silaha katika kudai haki.

Source: Wikipedia

Icon of st Moses the Ethiopian 
by Julia Hayes, South Africa

Ona pia

Moses the Ethiopian, the Black Saint & Teacher (& other Ethiopian saints in the Orthodox Church)   
St MOÏSE L'ÉTHIOPIEN (ou "Le Noir" ou "Le Fort") et... Shawn "Thunder" Wallace
Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black

Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa 
The Orthodox Church of Alexandria & the Patriarchate of Alexandria  

The holy anarchists... in the Egyptian Desert 
"Oriental Orthodox"

St Moses the Ethiopian, 
Greek Orthodox holy icon

Die Heilige Gregorius Palamas († 1360)

Bedehuis Bethanië - AFRIKAANS ORTODOKS 
Coming Home Orthodoxy 
Die gedagtenis vandag van Sint Gregorius Palamas op die Tweede Sondag van die Groot Vastyd is deel van ‘n regstreekse voortsetting van die Sege van die Ortodoksie wat ons verlede week gevier het. Want deur die erkenning van die rol wat Sint Gregorius Palamas in die oorwinning van die ketterye van die veertiende eeu gespeel het, vier ons ‘n hernieude sege van die Ortodoksie oor ‘n groot bedreiding vir die geloof.
Sint Gregorius is in 1296 gebore. Na ‘n aanvanklik sekulêre opvoeding het hy die monnike-lewe op die Berg Athos, wat destyds ‘n florerende sentrum van die Ortodokse kloosterwese was, betree. Hoewel hy bekend is vir sy bydrae tot die teologie van die hesigasme, of stille gebed, was sy bydrae tot die Kerk veel wyer as dit, en het hy die integrasie van die privaatgebed van die monnik met die openbare aanbidding van die Kerk beklemtoon.
Na ongeveer twintig jaar as monnik het Sint Gregorius betrokke geraak by die verdediging van die tradisionele geloof van die Kerk teen ‘n sekere Barlaam wat deur die denke van die westerse Renaissance beïnvloed is. Barlaam het beweer dat ons God nie kan ken nie en dit het ‘n sterk reaksie by Sint Gregorius ontlok, wat aangevoer het dat hoewel God onkenbaar is, Hy Hom wel openbaar en dat Christus, deur die vleeswording, ons ‘n bonatuurlike kennis geskenk het. Bowendien het Sint Gregorius se verdediging van die hesigasme, wat kort daarna wyd deur die hele Kerk aanvaar is, ‘n teologiese fondament voorsien wat die teologiese gronde van die monnike-lewe duideliker gemaak het en dit by die liturgiese lewe van die Kerk geïntegreer het.
In 1347 is Sint Gregorius as aartsbiskop van Thessalonika gewy en was hy bekend vir sy goot pastorale toewyding, en sy preke uit hierdie tyd is merkwaardig wat betref die pastorale eenvoud daarvan en die fokus wat hulle geplaas het op die sentraliteit van Christus.

Vir hulle wat in die duister van die sonde woon, het U in hierdie tyd van onthouding lig gebring, o Christus.. Toon ons daarom die glorieryke dag van u Lyding sodat ons tot U mag roep: Staan op, o God, en ontferm U oor ons.
Uit die Mette vir Gregorius Palama

Uittreksel uit Evangelion. ‘n Bulletin van die Ortodoks-Christelike Geloof, 11 Maart 2012.

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