Τετάρτη 29 Απριλίου 2020

القديس مرقص الرسول مؤسس الكرسي الإسكندري المقدس، وشفيع بطريركية الإسكندرية وسائر أفريقيا

Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria said, “However many pandemics may come along, Saint George is the victor"!

Photos from here
The prayer, “May the true God deliver mankind from the bonds of the pandemic” was voiced by Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria, during the Service for Saint George in the imposing Greek Orthodox Temple in the Saint’s name, in old Cairo – which is also the only Rotonda in the Middle East. 
“However many pandemics may come along, Saint George is a trophy-bearer, he is a cavalry officer, he is a victor; and he will patrol all of mankind astride his sacred steed, dispersing the black clouds of the pandemic”, the Alexandrian Primate stressed characteristically.



Παρασκευή 24 Απριλίου 2020

Orthodox Church in Uganda, Easter 2020 & COVID-19...

Welcome to Uganda Orthodox Church 

Uganda is the first country below south of the Sahara on the African continent where the Orthodox faith germinated among the indigenous Africans in 1929. Gradually, the faith was echoed to many parts of the country from central Buganda to the East, North, West and beyond in Eastern Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The government of Uganda recognized the Orthodox faith in 1946.
Currently, the Orthodox faith in Uganda consists of Two (2) administrative structures which include the Holy Metropolis of Kampala and all Uganda headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga and the Holy Diocese of Gulu and Eastern Uganda headed by His Grace Bishop Silvester Kisitu. The headquarters of the Orthodox Church in Uganda is located at Namungoona a suburb of the capital city Kampala (6kms on Hoima road). The clergy consists of a team of 76 priests and 5 deacons. 
There are over 100 communities, 41 brick and mortars churches, 17 medical clinics and one Holy Cross Orthodox Hospital.

Uganda Orthodox Church

Easter Message (2020) to the Nation from Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga “Resurrection day under the cloud of COVID19”

Dear my beloved Children in Christ! We are celebrating the day of the Christian Passover, this year under the cloud ...

The unprecedented impact of digital media on evangelism in our COVID19 pandemic era! A call for involvement.

It is undoubtedly the most vexing period of mankind globally in reflection to our connection to our Lord and Savior ...

A deeper insight into the COVID-19 Pandemic and our quest for Good or Evil – By Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga

Due to the outbreak of this contiguous COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous numerous death, quarantines, closure of places of worship ...

(PDF DOWNLOAD) Divine Liturgy Service book in Digital Format in Luganda Version.

In our strategies to deal with the strict restrictions imposed by the government of Uganda involving the closure of all ...

Δευτέρα 20 Απριλίου 2020

Orthodox Easter Hymn "It is The Day of Resurrection: Let us forgive all things on the Resurrection" // Αναστάσεως ημέρα - اليوم يوم القيامة

Amjad Khalil

Doxastikon of Pascha plagal of first tone. Andraos Muaiqel (1890--1964), adapted by Basil Crow. You may use the following link to download the note with byzantine music notations:  

"It is the day of Resurrection let us be radiant for the festival and let us embrace one another. Let us say, O brethren even to those that hate us; Let us forgive all things on the Resurrection, and thus let us cry: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life."

In Greek from here.

 اليومَ يَومُ الِقيامةِ فسبيلُنا أنْ نَتَلألأَ بالموسِمِ و نُصافِحَ بعضُنَا بَعضَاَ, و لْنَقُلْ يا إخوةُ, ولنَصْفَحْ لِمُبْغِضِينَا عن كُلِّ شَيءٍ في القيامة, و لْنهتفْ هكذا قائلين: المسيحُ قامَ مِنْ بينِ الأمواتِ و وَطِئَ الموتَ بالموتِ و وَهَبَ الحياةَ لَّلذين في القُبور 
باليونانية هنا

«Αναστάσεως ημέρα και λαμπρυνθώμεν τη πανηγύρει και αλλήλους περιπτυξώμεθα. Είπωμεν αδελφοί και τοις μισούσιν ημάς, συγχωρήσωμεν πάντα τη Αναστάσει. Και ούτω βοήσωμεν. Χριστός ανέστη εκ νεκρών, θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας και τοις εν τοις μνήμασι ζωήν χαρισάμενος».

Παρασκευή 10 Απριλίου 2020

How an Atheist Cancer Patient Came to Believe in God...

By Antonios Tenedios (Skalohori, Mytilini, Greece)

Quite a few years ago the following real-life story took place. This story was told to me by my good friend, Fr. Demetrius, the parish priest of the St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church located at Sahtouri Street, Piraeus, Athens, Greece. I present this story to you just as it was narrated to me by Fr. Demetrius himself.

“One morning after the Divine Liturgy, I went to the Church office. A fifty year old man came in to talk to me. I did not know him neither had I ever seen him before in my Church. He spoke to me about a forty-two year old man who was admitted to the hospital in Piraeus, Athens, Greece. He was diagnosed with cancer. The disease had spread throughout his body and had metastasized into his brain. Following an examination, the doctors had told him that there nothing that could be done to save his life. He was taking large doses of medicine but they did not help him. This gentleman told me that the hospitalized man was a close relative of his. He requested that I go to the hospital as soon as possible in order to give him Holy Communion.

As requested, I went to the hospital to fulfill this obligation to administer Holy Communion to the sick man. As soon as I entered the patient’s room, it became apparent to me that he was in bad shape. It was further verified to me that the disease had spread to the brain and there was no chance of survival. His days were numbered. The patient was the only person in the room. The other bed was empty. At a certain point, the patient awakened from his coma and opened his eyes. He immediately saw me and with great difficulty told me the following story:

“My family admitted me to this hospital facility thirty-five days ago. An eighty year old man was already in the room that I was assigned to. This patient was suffering from bone cancer. He was suffering horrific pains. In spite of his pain, he would continuously pray: “Glory to you Oh God, Glory to you, Oh God” and this would be followed by a series of prayers. I was an atheist and I was hearing this for the first time in my life. I had never in my life stepped foot in a Church. This is why I became so startled when I observed that after saying his prayers he would calm down and sleep peacefully for two or three hours. But when he woke up again he would groan from unbearable pain. And then he continued to pray “Glory to You, Oh God!”

I was also groaning suffering from immense pain and yet he, in spite of his pain, continued to glorify God. But I, in my frustration from my pain blasphemed the name of Christ and His Holy Mother. The old man was actually thanking God for giving him cancer. Hearing him go on like this constantly and I, suffering my own pain, became upset with him. In addition to his constant praying, he would daily request to receive Holy Communion.

I, the filthy one, swore at him constantly. I would say to him “shut up, shut up finally! Can’t you see that the God that you glorify is torturing us severely with this cursed illness? What God? There is no God!” The old man would calmly hear me and reply: “He exists, my child, God does truly exist and He is a loving Father. Through the illness that He has given us, we are being cleansed of our many sins.” These replies of the old man made me angrier and I began once again to blaspheme both God and demons. I started yelling out and saying: “God does not exist! I don’t believe in anything; neither in God, His Heavenly Kingdom nor in the other world.”

Following this exchange between us, the old man would calmly reply: “Wait and you will see with your own eyes how the soul of a believing Christian is separated from his body. I am a sinner but the Grace of God will save me. Wait, you will see and believe!” He continued to glorify God and His Holy Mother. He would say a specific prayer that repeated the word “hail” for the Virgin Mary (taken from the Salutations of the Akathist Hymn). He also chanted the hymns “Oh Virgin, Birth-Giver of God” and “It is truly meet to bless you.”

At one point, he suddenly stopped praying and I heard him say: “Welcome, my guardian angel! I thank you for coming with such a resplendent party of angels to take my soul.” In great shock, I opened my eyes to see before me the heavenly host. The old man then made the sign of the Cross; crossed his arms on his chest and took his last breath. Suddenly the hospital room was filled with brilliant light that was brighter than ten suns. I, the unbeliever, the atheist, the materialist, saw this miracle with my own eyes. Then an extremely beautiful fragrance filled the room. I was dumbfounded by what I saw because I realized at that point that the old man was right all along.
I then called my parents and told them everything that I had witnessed and experienced. I angrily told them off because they had never spoken to me about the existence of God. I then invited my friends and relatives to come close to me and asked them to tell me everything about faith in God which I had never been taught by anyone. Dear Father, I now believe that God truly exists. This is why I am asking you to hear my confession and for you to give me Holy Communion.

Death is Unnatural
Death! Death! DEATH! (The Mystery and the Process of Death)

Σάββατο 4 Απριλίου 2020

Calling for immediate global ceasefire - UN chief on COVID-19 // Cameroon rebels declare coronavirus ceasefire

Calling for immediate global ceasefire - UN chief on COVID-19

Cameroon rebels declare coronavirus ceasefire

There are fears people who have fled their homes in the conflict will not be able to get medical help / Getty Images

A separatist militia in Cameroon is to down its weapons for a fortnight so people can be tested for coronavirus.
The Southern Cameroons Defence Forces (Socadef) said its ceasefire would come into effect from Sunday as "a gesture of goodwill".
It is so far the only armed group among many operating in Cameroon's English-speaking regions to have heeded the UN's call for a global ceasefire.
The fighters say they are marginalised in the majority French-speaking nation.
For the three years, they have been fighting government forces in the Anglophone regions with the aim of creating a breakaway state called "Ambazonia".
But there is no indication that one of the biggest rebel group - Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF) - is to follow suit and declare a ceasefire.
Chief mediator Alexandre Liebeskind, from the conflict resolution group Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, told the BBC that the ADF had refused to join the negotiations.
"They are the only group which refused to join the process,” he said.
But he added that he hoped other groups would follow Socadef's example.

The BBC's West Africa reporter Chi Chi Izundu says this move by one Anglophone separatist group will not bring the long and bloody conflict to an end, but could be a source of hope in otherwise dark times.
Fighting in the North-West and South-West regions has killed at least 3,000 people and forced more than 700,000 people from their homes, thousands fleeing across the border into Nigeria.
Many displaced people could be in danger of contracting coronavirus and not receiving treatment.
Cameroon's health ministry has so far has confirmed 75 cases of the virus - and recorded its first death earlier this week.

St. Mary of Egypt القديسة مريم المصرية (5th Sunday of Great Lent)

Παρασκευή 3 Απριλίου 2020

Coronavirus: "As we continue practicing social distancing... Let us remain praying unceasingly" Kenya

Neofitos Kong'ai

In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa

"As we continue practicing social distancing, self quarantine, 7 PM curfew hand washing and all manner of sanitation just but to name a few, let us also not forget that Christ is present and active. Let us keep our eyes set on him as we wade over this storm. I know we all miss being with our friends and families, we miss our church and church services particularly during this time of Great Lent, we miss the Eucharistic celebration, we miss school, we miss work, we feel deprived etc...but there is one thing that we need to know that; everything is being done for our own good and we need to show an act of responsibility, love, sacrifice, patience and humility knowing that there is one whom we cannot miss, the one who is in dwelling in us, our father in heaven who is full of mercy and compassion.

All these might be difficult to comprehend at this time, but we will come to realize at the fullness of time when he will reveal himself in totality.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has given us create insight to this that; “perhaps some of you feel that these drastic measures (that is closing of churches) undermine or harm our faith. However, that which is at stake is not our faith but the faithful, not Christ but the Christians, not the Divine-Man but the human being.”

Metropolitan Alexander of Nigeria my beloved brother in the lord also states; “ we are called to see the suspension of our participation in the liturgies as nothing else but as a pure act of responsibility, love and sacrifice for the safety of the other and the community which we live in. This is something new since we are not living in times of persecution.None of the Orthodox Christians believed or could ever believe and accept that the Holy Eucharist can become a source of transmission of a virus or disease. There inside the chalice is the total Christ, his body and His precious blood.”
I pray that we remain strong in Faith and be courageous with the hope and believe that we shall cross over the desert of despair and arrive in the promised land of hope and joy. We are pinned down but not crushed, We will resurrect again for Christ is fully present and active. Let us remain praying unceasingly." 

The Akathist Hymn (a very concrete spiritual preparation for the Holy Week and Easter Services five Fridays in the Great Lent)

"Unto you, O Theotokos, invincible General, your City, in thanksgiving ascribes the victory for the deliverance from sufferings. And having your might unassailable, free us from all dangers, so that we may cry unto you: Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin".
Icon from here

The Akathist Hymn (a very concrete spiritual preparation for the Holy Week and Easter Services five Fridays in the Great Lent)

The Hymn "Ti Ypermaho" ("To the Champion Leader") in Greek and Kiswahili

 Salutations of theotokos (Akathist), Kenya 2020 (from here)

2020 - Documentary on the Orthodox Church & Fr Themi in Sierra Leone

In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa

John Golfin is a Australian Greek who travels and records his adventures worlwide. Travelling around the West Coast of Africa in 2019, he was surprised to find other Australians working and living in Sierra Leone, so in a effort to capture this moment, he set about creating a 30min Documentary on the work of the Holy Orthodox Archdiocesan District of Sierra Leone Mission, Fr Themi and Deacones Mary.

2020 - Documentary on the Orthodox Church & Fr Themi in Sierra Leone from P4K Videos on Vimeo.
See also

Πέμπτη 2 Απριλίου 2020

What the Early Church Can Teach Us About the Coronavirus

the gospel coalition

Photo from here

The early church was no stranger to plagues, epidemics, and mass hysteria. In fact, according to both Christian and also non-Christian accounts, one of the main catalysts for the church’s explosive growth in its early years was how Christians navigated disease, suffering, and death. The church’s posture made such a strong impression on Roman society that even pagan Roman emperors complained to pagan priests about their declining numbers, telling them to step up their game. 
So what did Christians do differently that shook the Roman Empire? And what can the early church teach us in light of the coronavirus? 

Non-Christian Response to Epidemics

In AD 249 to 262, Western civilization was devastated by one of the deadliest pandemics in its history. Though the exact cause of the plague is uncertain, the city of Rome was said to have lost an estimated 5,000 people a day at the height of the outbreak. One eyewitness, Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria [image], wrote that although the plague did not discriminate between Christians and non-Christians, “Its full impact fell on [non-Christians].” Having noted the difference between Christian and non-Christian responses to the plague, he says of the non-Christians in Alexandria:
At the first onset of the disease, they pushed the sufferers away and fled from their dearest, throwing them into the roads before they were dead and treating unburied corpses as dirt, hoping thereby to avert the spread and contagion of the fatal disease; but do what they might, they found it difficult to escape.
Non-Christian accounts confirm this sentiment. A century later, the emperor Julian attempted to curb the growth of Christianity after the plague by leading a campaign to establish pagan charities that mirrored the work of Christians in his realm. In an AD 362 letter, Julian complained that the Hellenists needed to match the Christians in virtue, blaming the recent growth of Christianity on their
“benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead, and the pretended holiness of their lives.” 
Elsewhere he wrote, 
“For it is a disgrace that . . . the impious Galilaeans [Christians] support not only their own poor but ours as well.” 
Though Julian questioned the motives of Christians, his embarrassment over Hellenic charities confirms pagan efforts fell massively short of Christian standards of serving the sick and poor, especially during epidemics. According to Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity, this is because “for all that [Julian] urged pagan priests to match these Christian practices, there was little or no response because there were no doctrinal bases or traditional practices for them to build upon.”

Christian Response to Epidemics

If the non-Christian response to the plague was characterized by self-protection, self-preservation, and avoiding the sick at all costs, the Christian response was the opposite. According to Dionysius, the plague served as a “schooling and testing” for Christians. In a detailed description of how Christians responded to the plague in Alexandria, he writes of how “the best” among them honorably served the sick until they themselves caught the disease and died:
Most of our brother-Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of the danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbours and cheerfully accepting their pains.
Similarly, in Pontius’s biography of Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage [icon], he writes of how the bishop reminded believers to serve not only fellow Christians but also non-Christians during the plague:
There is nothing remarkable in cherishing merely our own people with the due attentions of love, but that one might become perfect who should do something more than heathen men or publicans, one who, overcoming evil with good, and practicing a merciful kindness like that of God, should love his enemies as well. . . . Thus the good was done to all men, not merely to the household of faith.
The impact of this service was twofold: (1) Christian sacrifice for their fellow believers stunned the unbelieving world as they witnessed communal love like they’d never seen (John 13:35), and (2) Christian sacrifice for non-Christians resulted in the early church experiencing exponential growth as non-Christian survivors, who benefited from the care of their Christian neighbors, converted to the faith en masse

Christian Response to Coronavirus

As we continue to wrestle with how to respond to the coronavirus, notice how non-Christians in the Roman Empire emphasized self preservation while the early church emphasized fearless, sacrificial service. Whereas non-Christians fled from epidemics and abandoned their sick loved ones as they feared the unknown, Christians marched into epidemics and served both Christians and also non-Christians, seeing their own suffering as an opportunity to spread the gospel and model Christlike love.
If the non-Christian response to the plague was characterized by self-protection, self-preservation, and avoiding the sick at all costs, the Christian response was the opposite.
How might we put that posture into practice in the face of COVID-19, setting ourselves apart from the world in how we respond to the growing epidemic? Perhaps we begin by resisting the fear that is leading to panic in various sectors of society—instead modeling peace and calm in the midst of rising anxiety all around us. Perhaps we choose to patronize local Asian American restaurants and businesses that other Americans are avoiding due to fear-based stereotyping. We might also seek to sacrificially serve our neighbors by prudently abiding by the advice of medical professionals to help slow the spread of the disease. Instead of just our own health we should prioritize the health of the wider community, especially the most vulnerable citizens, by exercising an abundance of caution without perpetuating fear, hysteria, or misinformation. This might mean costs for us—canceling travel or planned events, or even self-quarantine if we think we’ve been exposed—but we should accept these costs with joy.
“Other people would not think this a time for festival,” Dionysius said of the epidemic of his day. “[But] far from being a time of distress, it is a time of unimaginable joy.” To be clear, Dionysius was not celebrating the death and suffering that accompany epidemics. Rather, he was rejoicing in the opportunity such circumstances present for testing our faith––to go out of our way to love and serve our neighbors, spreading gospel hope, in both word and deed, in times of great fear. 

Notes of our blog