Posts Tagged ‘Baptism’

Nessebar – Ancient Christian city and a wonderful rest resort

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

nessebar-an-ancient-Christian-city-a-great-resort-place
Last Friday together with my best friend Mitko together with an old-school good friend Samuel and another friend Geоrgi travelled to Pomorie Monastery. The reasons to go there was to have a short pilgrimage journey and to baptize Samuil who had the good desire to receive Baptism. As always it is a God's blessing to spend time in monastery and this was time it was not different. We started the trip from Sofia to Pomorie in about 08:15 and with a few little breaks we reached theMonastery about 12:30. Before we start journey I call Pomorie Monastery's abbot father Ierotey to ask if he will bless our pilgrimage (for those who never was in monastery's everything  happens wtih a blessing and it is best before a monastic trip to ask a blessing). Once arrived the novice monk Milen met us and accomodated us in two of the monastic rooms.

On next day, there was the standard morning prayer service and the bells rung to wake us up, after the service we had a small talk with father Sergiy, met some of the brothers and with abbots blessing together with father Sergiy, we went for a few hours pilgrimage journey to Nessebar.

Nessebar (the town ancient name is Mesambria) is an ancient city situated 16 km from Pomorie (known in ancient times as Anchialo / Anchialo). Both Pomorie and Nesebar was a great historical Christian sites from very ancient times, a cities where first civilization started before Christ. Here according to excavation Christianity started somewhere in the early II-nd century and undergoes а bloom until the XI, XIII century. Here in those places according to some historic datas used to even have an archibiship seat. It is less known fact that Nessebar is one of the most ancient cities in all Europe and started its existence about 3200 years B.C.!
In ancient times before Christianity Mesambria used to be inhabited with Thracians.
On the road to Nesebar we passed through Aheloy (Achelous) – a town where occured the Battle of Achelous (y. 917) which is the biggest battle in medieval European history (120 000 troops participated in battle).

Bulgarians_defeat_the_Byzantines_at_Anchialos_battle_biggest-battle-of-10-th-century-medieval-times

Nesebar is a significant historical city and thus part of UNESCO's world heritage world site. It is divided in new and old city, whether new city's doesn't shiny with architecture, the old town architecture is preserved and absolutely unique. The fact that Nessebar used to be a important Christian center is still evident as even though the town area is situated in peninsula (consisting of only 850 meters width and 350 meters hight), it has 12 Churches !

Nesebar_Church-of-Christ-Pantokrator
Nessebar Church of Christ Pantokrator

Some of the ancient Churches in nessebar are dated from around VI to VIII century. Many of the Churches are in a style specific for Bulgarian empire build in analogy with the  Tarnovo capital of Bulgaria at that time architecture, such architecture is very common for Bulgaria and Byzantine empire in the XIII and XVI centuries. Churches dated from the XIII c. is St. Parascheva, (XIII c.) St. Theodor (XIV c.), St. Archangel Michael and Gabriel (XVI).
По това време са построени църквите “Св. Параскева (XIII в), “Св. Теодор” (XIV в), “Св. Архангели Михаил и Гавраил” (XIV в), имащи преки аналогии в столичната търновска архитектура.
 

ancient-church-in-Nessebar-1

Unfortunately though there are many Churches in Nessebar, many of them are just historical monuments nowadays and others are turned into Painting Galleries. In all ancient city only 1 Orthoox Church – The Dormition of Virgin Mary is functional with regular Holy Liturgies served. The Church has a miracle making of the Theotokos. Many people have found relief and cure or fast help from God after praying in front of the miraculous icon.

miracle-making-holy-icon-of-Virgin-Mary-Nessebar-Bulgaria
Nessebar Miracle Making Icon of Holy Theotokos

To give thanks to Mother Mary many people who received cure or whose prayers came true by praying in front of the miraculous icon deliberately left their gold earings, necklaces and even war medals.
In the Church there are holy relics of number of Christian saints – saint Cyprian and Justina, saint Tatyiana, st. mrtr. Marina, st. Vlasij, st. Macarious

Father Sergij walk us through the city telling a bit of history of each of the Churhes one of the Basilicas was much bigger the rest and fr. Sergius explained that this used to be a Church where a Metropolitan or a Bishop was serving.

We learned that in Nessebar was a very desired king region a place, a highly spiritual place with an overall of 40 Churches!
On the entrance of old nessebar there are remains of the old city fortress walls, the whole city houses and architecture is renessance with a lot of wooden houses.
fortifications_in_entrance_of_Nesebar
Nessebar city entry fortress remains

Nesebar_-_Wooden_Houses
Wooden Houses in Nesebar

Besides the beautiful Churches the sea side is breath taking and from sea shore you can in the distance another resort city Sunny Beach.

nessebar-hills picture
Nessebar winter sea coast view

In Nesebar there are plenty of souvenir shops, caffeterias, small ethnographic styled restaurants assuring a great time for every touries.Very neart to Nessebar is situated also a beautiful rest resort village Ravda.
About 13:00 we left Nessebar and headed back to Pomorie with fr. Sergij who told us a what of Christian faith stories rich in wisdom. On next day Sunday after the end of Holy Liturgy the Abbot of Pomorie Monastery (fr. Ierotey)  baptized Samuel and we had a lunch together with the brotherhood.In early afternoon we  headed back to Sofia. As always father archimandrit Ierotey and fr. Sergius presented us with Christian literature as a gift and a CDs with faith related movies.

Great and Holy Friday / Friday of the Crucifix (Remembrance of the holy saving sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Friday of the Crucifix of the Lord Christ

Today is the great and sad day for us Christians in which the Lord has been crucified.

It’s a day of a great spiritual sorrow for all the Orthodox Christian.
It’s also the day in which we do venerate the holy shroud (plashtenica) in which the Lord’s body has been wrapped, after it was removed from the life giving cross.

The priest takes the plashtenica and walks through the temple and afterwards we do venerate the holy plashtenica (The dead body of the saviour).

There is a local Orthodox Church tradition which I believe is very specific to the bulgarian orthodox Church.
The plashtenica is placed on a table, the holy gospel and the holy cross are placed by the priest over the plashtenica (the shroud), after which grouped in a line (first the children, then the man, followed by the woman) we the layman do kiss the holy gospel, the cross and the plashtenica showing evidently our love for Christ and his gospel and our respect for the Lord’s Great Cross sufferings. Further on the layman does crawl (under the table with the plashtenica).

child crawling under a table with plashtenica

plashtenica with the immaculate body of Christ

The crawling under the plashtenica in Bulgarian Orthodox Church is a very known tradition by bulgarian people.

The crawling under the table symbolically shows that we take participation in the Lord’s death.
As it’s written that we all who are in Christ are being death for the world after the Holy Baptism.

There are probably other reasons for which the Church has established the passing under of the holy plashtenica which I’m not aware of.

What is sad is that most people does not really understand the real symbolism behind the crossing below the plashtenica (crossing below the table).

Thus many people who know the feast of Great Friday do come to the church to cross below the plashtenica as an act of superstition, as they don’t really understand why they do it.
They simply interpret that crossing below the plashtenica would grant them “good health”, “a life success” or good fortune.

Many of those people who come to crawl under the table, are not a regular on other Church services (Holy Liturgies) and therefore completely miss even the basics of our Christian beliefs.

Many of those people who are not adept in faith, do come to the Church with the only goal “to crawl below the table” and leave the Church immediately after that …

It’s truly sad to see that especially when I know that we Bulgarians are Orthodox Christian nation.
An Orthodox Christian nation who is starting to forget Christianity …

Just to give you an idea on how people have left astray from Orthodox Christian faith I can tell you for sure that the regular Church goers who attend Holy Liturgies and have intermediate knowledge of Orthodox Christianity and Church order in Bulgaria are not more than 4% of all the Bulgarian population.

This means that probably no more than approximately 300 000 of Bulgarians are in a communion with our Bulgarian Orthodox Church and do regularly confess and take the sacraments.

Here is an Orthodox Singing of the core troparion for the day (in Greek):

Some of the most important Symbols for Orthodox Christians in The Eastern Orthodox Church – Symbols in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Faith (Eastern Orthodox Symbolism) and Christian Symbolism in the Roman Catholic Church (Symbolism in Western Catholicism)

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Some-of-the-most-important-symbols-for-orthodox-christiains-in-the-eastern-orthodox-church-symbols-in-eastern-orthodox-faith.

Yesterday, while browsing randomly I came across an interesting Roman Catholic webpage.
The website is created by Catholics with the idea to better explain the Catholic religion and Symbolism.
Though as an Orthodox Christian, my interest towards Roman Catholicism is only scientific, it's really interesting to see the common symbolism surrounding Roman Catholicism and compare with the Orthodox Christian symbolism. Many of the Roman Catholic Symbols are equal symbol with the one we nowadays used in the orthodox church.
I presume this common symbolism between Orthodox and Roman Catholic church,has stayed the same from the time before Roman Catholics split from the Only Holy Apostolic Church  to become the Church of the West Roman Empire, that's how the naming Roman Catholic came forward.

To find out more about Roman Catholic symbolism please see the following links I've mirrored the information from Fisheater's website which is btw is a great website targeting Roman Catholic layman. Everything on the website is explained in a simple everyday language without too much terminology which makes it a great resource for Roman Catholic Christians and people like me who who like to take a look in Roman Catholicism.

It's really a strange and intriguing fact let's call it a "co-incidence" that the inverted cross (upside-down) cross,also called "Peter's cross" on which saint Peter was crucified is also a symbol of Papacy .
It's a popular fact that nowadays Satanist use a similar inverted cross to the one said to be symbol of papacy for their "Black Masses" (Satanic Masses). Maybe some Roman Catholic priest or Cardinal has to explain, how comes that the Roman Catholics ended with such a significant symbol used nowdays in anti-christian satanic religion to be also a symbol of their beloved Pope??

I will skip forward to the heart of this article, which is to explain the Christian Symbolism which is important for us the Eastern Orthodox Christians. Many of the symbols might have in common, also with other Christian early Churches like the Coptic Oriental Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Churches and other Chruches which somehow are closer to the One Holy and Apostolic Church – the Orthodox Church but officially are not in communion with us the Orthodox Christians.

Here I'll share only the most notable Christian Symbolism which is also used in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Many of this symbolism was always bothering me while in Churches or Monasteries and was always pushing me to more and more questions without answers, thus I finally did some research on this symbols in get a better understanding on my Orthodox Christian faith.

Since I don't have a Theologian education and many of us the ordinary layman's in the church doesn't have such education I hope this orthodox Christian symbolism shared here and it's meanings will be of interest and will help you fortify your good faith in God and our Orthodox Christian faith.

Lamb of God Christian Symbol
Lamb

Lamb: symbol of Christ as the Paschal Lamb and also a symbol for Christians (as Christ is our Shepherd and Peter was told to feed His sheep).

This symbol is also presented in Bulgaria on the little yellow book they sell in our Bulgarian Orthodox Churches.
This tiny book contains the Divine Liturgy compiled by God's inspiration by st. John Chrysostom
If you're coming from an Catholic Background and you hold interest for Orthodox Christianity, as historically East Orthodox Christianity Symbol of Faith as well as basic doctrines were kept untouched, you might consider reading online here The Divine Liturgy by St. John Chrysostom
It's really important to say that the Divine Liturgy by St. John Chrysostom is the "backbone" of the church life, since it's the main and most served Liturgy in the eastern Orthodox Churches around the world.

Dove and Russian Patriarch
Dove: symbol of the The Holy Spirit and used especially in representations of our Lord's Baptism and the Pentecost. It is also used to recall Noe's dove, a harbinger of hope.

Chirchoao, Chi-Rho Sigla
"Chi-Rho" or "sigla": the letters "X" and "P," representing the first letters of the title "Christos," were eventually put together to form this symbol for Christ ("Chi" is pronounced "Kie"). It is this form of the Cross that the Emperor of Byzantia Constantine saw in his vision along with the Greek words, TOUTO NIKA, and which mean "in this sign thou shalt conquer.

Orthodox Tau Cross
"thau" or "tau": the T-shaped cross is mentioned in the Old Testament and is seen as a foreshadowing of the Cross of Christ.
Ezechiel 9:4:
"And the Lord said to him: Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem: and mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and
mourn for all the abominations that are committed in the midst thereof."
I've noticed that the tau_cross is often worn by Orthodox Monks as "a badge" on their clothes somewhere in the right of their chest

Greek Orthodox Cross
The Greek Orthodox Cross This symbol is one of the earliest Christian symbols which emerged right after Christ's resurrection.
The Greek Cross has all fours members the same shape and form (crux quadrata) and usually suggests the Christian church rather than a symbol of Christ's suffering.

Jerusalem Cross
Jerusalem Cross: also called the "Crusaders' Cross," it is made up of 5 Greek Crosses which are said to symbolize a) the 5 Wounds of Christ; and/or b) the 4 Gospels and the 4 corners of the earth (the 4 smaller crosses) and Christ Himself (the large Cross). This Cross was a common symbol used during the wars against Islamic aggression. (see less stylized version at right)

Baptismal Cross
Baptismal Cross: consisting of the Greek Cross with the Greek letter "X", the first initial of the title "Christ," this Cross is a symbol of regeneration, hence, its association with Baptism. Usually the Orthodox priest dress is decorated with a sign like this.

Red Orthodox Egg
The Scarlet red Egg:
Church tradition has it that St. Mary Magdalen went to Rome and met with the Emperor Tiberius to tell him about the Resurrection of Jesus. She held out an egg to him as a symbol of this, and he scoffed, saying that a man could no more rise from the dead than that egg that she held could turn scarlet. The egg turned deep red in her hands, and this is the origin of Easter eggs, and the reason why Mary Magdalen is often portrayed holding a scarlet egg.

Ichthus an early Christian Symbol
Ichtus (Ichthys) – The Fish:
Fish: the fish — ever-watchful with its unblinking eyes — was one of the most important symbols of Christ to the early Christians. In Greek, the phrase, "Jesus Christ, Son of God Savior," is "Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter." The first letters of each of these Greek words, when put together, spell "ichthys," the Greek word for "fish" (ICQUS ). This symbol can be seen in the Sacraments Chapel of the Catacombs of St. Callistus. Because of the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the fish symbolized, too, the Eucharist (see stylized fish symbol at right). Important note to make, here is that nowdays this sign's variations is not too often to be seen in Orthodox Churches. It's highly adopted by protestant Christians, seeing this sign on somebody's car or inside his home is a sure sign that probably he adhere's to Christian teachings different from orthodoxy.

Alpha Omega orthodox symbol
The Alpha-Omega symbol
Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, became a symbol for Christ due to His being called "the First and the Last." The roots of symbolizing these attributes of God go back further, all the way to the Old Testament where, in Exodus 34:6, God is said to be "full of Goodness and Truth." The Hebrew spelling of the word "Truth" consists of the 3 letters "Aleph," "Mem," and "Thaw" — and because "Aleph" and "Thaw" are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the ancients saw mystical relevance in God's being referred to as "Truth." At any rate, the Greek Alpha and Omega as a symbol for Christ has been found in the Catacombs, Christian signet rings, post-Constantine coins, and the frescoes and mosaics of ancient churches.

IC XC Nika Orthodox Symbol
The "IC XC Nika":
comes from Ancient Greek and was a widespread ancient Christian Symbol which is nowadays still present in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. IC XC Nika literally translated to english means "IC XC = Jesus Christ, NIKA = Glory to". In other words translated to modern english IC XC NIKA means Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Many Protestant Christians, nowdays falsely believe and claims this fish Christian symbol preceded the Crucifix as a symbol of veneration of Jesus and his Cross sufferings in the Church. This kind of belief is a falsely spread along many Protestant or "Evangelical" Christian denominations and Methodists. to be seen in many ancient Christian Church buildings is a Christian symbol. Today, some ancient Orthodox Churches still contain the "Christian fish" symbol. The reason why this symbol was used by early Christians is as a remembrance of the great miracle of Jesus to feed 5000 with 2 fishes and seven breads.

Holy Eucharist Cup, Bread and Wine

The Holy Eucharist vessels used by Orthodox Priests This is the cup of salvation as also called during the Divine Liturgy each time, the Wine and the Blood that the priest prepares in that Holy Cup is transformed by The Holy Spirit into a veracious flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Byzantine Coat of Arms
The byzantine coat of arms
is an ancient Christian symbol used in the early Byzantine Church, nowadays it can be observed only in the Orthodox Churches.
It symbolizes the power of the Byzantian empire under the guidance of the the Holy Lord and the Gospel Truths.

Orthodox Bishop Crown
The Orthodox Bishop Crown is only worn by Bishops in the Orthodox Church. This crown indicates the Bishop's Church and spiritual (rank) and dignity.

Byzantine Orthodox Cross
Byzantine Orthodox or Russian Orthodox Cross
Is used most often by Eastern Catholics and Russian Orthodox, this Cross is the Byzantine Cross with the footrest at a diagonal. This slant is said to represent one of a few things:
– the footrest wrenched loose from the Christ's writhing in intense physical suffering; lower side representing "down," the fate of sinners, while the elevated side represents Heaven;
– the lower side represents the bad thief (known to us as Gestas through the apocryphal "Acts of Pilate" ("Gospel of Nicodemus") while the elevated side to Christ's right represents the thief who would be with Him in Paradise (St. Dismas);
– the "X" shape of the slanted "footrest" against the post symbolizes the cross on which St. Andrew was crucified.

Megaloschema a dress of a schimonk
The Megaloschema is a dress worn by schimonks. This monk rank is actually the highest possible rank an orthodox Christian monk can achieve. The symbolism on the dress is a brief form of:

  • IC XC (IECOYC XPICTOC) "Jesus Christ"
  • IC XC NIKA ("IECOYC XPICTOC NIKA") meaning: "Jesus Christ is Victorious"

The letters below IC XC Nika has a meaning – The Light of Christ shines on all.

  • XX. X.X letters. – means "Christ bestows grace on Christians"
  • The 4 Thitha (called) signs are a symbol for: Vision of God Divine wonder

Then the

  • T. K. P. G – Means "The Place of the Skull becomes Paradise"
  • The text placed in the lowest translated to English is "AdamThe First Man" and also is a symbol for the Place of the Skull (Golgotha).
  • In the Orthodox Church and the Church fathers teaches us that Golgotha or the Place of the Skull is the Place where the first man (Adam) was buried, and by God's divine providence coincides with the place where our Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified.

Orthodox Bishop Dress
Orthodox Priest dress / robe
This dress is only worn by Orthodox Christian Bishops.

Bulgarian Orthodox cross with 4 lights
The Cross with four lights emitating near the center of the cross This cross is actually used in more modern times as a Christian Orthodox symbol, The four lights coming out of the cross are added,
as the gospels speak that Christ is the Sun of righteousness
I've had quite a long time trying to figure out why exactly this cross is made with this 4 lights. It was a real joy when one time a priesttold me the meaning.
It's interesting fact that most of the Roman Catholic's crosses nowdays have the four lights radiating from Christ's Crucifix or the Cross symbolizing the Crucifix.

This is all I will say for symbolism for now. I hope this Christian symbolism will shed some light on the matters of Symbolism in both the Orthodox and the Catholoic eastern Church. I'll be glad if somebody out there more literate on the subject comment on my post and correct me if I'm wrong with smething.