Posts Tagged ‘cave’

Trip to Ruen Monastery Saint John of Rila – The birthplace of a saint, a God piece of Heaven beauty on earth

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

ruenski_monastery-beautiful-mountain-view-near-birthplace-of-a-saint

Last Saturday me and my wife Svetlana together with a Christian friend family (Tsvetomir and Dimitrina with their < 2 years old boy – Boris) went to a small 1 day pilgrimage trip to Ruen Monastery – (Ruenski manastery). The holy cloister is situated very near Skrino village, the birth village of greatest Bulgarian saint saint John of Rila. The village is located about 90 km from Sofia and is very near to town of Boboshevo. To reach Ruen Monastery when coming from Sofia, the traveller has to move in direction of "Kulata / (The Tower)" and to pass the village of Djerman and Usoika. Then before entering the village of Skrino there is a 5 km steep car road leading to the monastery.

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Saint John of Rila lived in Skrino until his twenties and due to Christian tradition he accepted monkhood in the nearby monastery next to Skrino and a bit later started a hermit life dwelling himself in his first hermit cave situated near Skrino. The Cave of hermit dwelling of Saint John of Rila is now situated about 200 meters from Ruen Monastery and represents a tiny cave encraved in a rock. The rock is so small that maximum of 2 people can be in cave together. It is amazing how a man could live in such a small space.

hermit_cave_of_saint_John_of_Rila_near-his-birthplace
 

Current Ruen monastery Church is recently rebuild in 1995 and the rest of monastic buildings are completed in y. 2002, but according to history it is known a monastery was existent on same place known in medieval times under name "The Holy Father" in  XV century.

Veneration to Saint John of Rila was so high in mid centuries that obviously people recognized Saint John of Rila among the greatest saints.

The nature view near monastery is breath taking .. On the road to it there is Struma river the monastery itself is situated in Vlahina mountain from it there is a sightview of part of Rila mountain.

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Near the monastery buildings there are two paths one leading to the Cave of Hermitage of Saint John of Rila and another one leading to a place with a Cross visible from throughout the region.

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The monastery though being among the newest rebuilded ones in Bulgaria has already 3 saint holy relics, one of which is Holy relics from Saint George the Victorious. We had the blessings by God's grace to also meet RuenAbbot Father Ioan (John). We asked the father how many monks are inhabiting the monastery just to get the humorous answer that half of the inhabitants are present (meaning currently in the monastery there are only 2 monks). Fatehr John was evidently very young kindhearted  person  probably in his 30s. He was quite hospitable and invited us for tea and cookies in the small monastic dining room. We had quite a few spiritual talks and spoke on hardship of being a monk in nowadays confused world.

We were send with the Father's blessings and a gift – an icon of saint John of Rila and a book with the history of the monastery from ancient times to now – the book included also the Testament of Saint John of Rila

On our way back before entering Boboshevo we stopped to see and pray near an ancient Church from the 5th century consecrated under saint Theodor (Stratilat) – a Christian martyr saint from the 4th century who lived near Black Sea.

church-saint-Theodor-stratilat-church-5th-century

The Church is an unique Cultural monument as it contains wall patings probably dating back to at least 10th century or even earlier.

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Thanks God the weather was quite warm for the Winter season leaving impression Spring has come 🙂

20th of July St. Elijah (Elias) feast in Bulgarian Orthodox Church / st. prophet Elias short Living

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Saint Prophet Elijah Bulgarian Orthodox Christian icon

It’s again 20th of July and we in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, celebrate the Holy memory of st. Prophet Elijah (Elias

St. Elijah is among the greatest Old Testamental prophets. He lived before the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ in a time when apostacy from true faith was severe.

In Elias’s time (few centuries B.C.), there used to be also a severe hunger on the land.
Elias was among the little number of Jews who did continued to honour the True God creator of Heaven and of Earth instead of turning to false religious teachings inspired by demons, like it’s the Baal’s cult which was widely spread among Jews back in the time.

Because of his faith in the true God, st. Prophet Elijah was hunted by the king’s wife Jezabel and he was forced to escape from Bersheeba and went alone in the wilderness and sat down in despondency under a juniper tree.

As he slept, an angel touched him, and said unto him, “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” He arose and found a cake and a cruse of water. Having partaken of the provision, he went forward on his way for forty days to Horeb, where he took residence in a cave. Here God appeared to him and said, “What dost thou here, Elijah?” In answer to Elijah’s despondent words God manifests to him his glory, and then directs him to return to Damascus and anoint Hazael king over the Arameans (Syria), Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to be prophet in his room (1 Kings 19:13-21; compare 2 Kings 8:7-15; 9:1-10).

Some six years after this he prophecised and warned by God’s commandment Ahab and Jezebel of the violent deaths they would die (1 Kings 21:19-24; 22:38)

The reason for the great hunger at this times was the fact that no rain has fallen down to the land for two years, as Elias prayed to God that no rain will be given to the people of Israel until they turn back to their true God.

One of the most notable moments of st. Elias’s earhtly living was the great miracle he performed by God’s providence which proofed that only the God of Israel is the true God of heaven and earth.

This happened while he was still in desolation on mount Carmel, it came to pass that Elijah met Obadiah, one of king Ahab’s officers (the king at that time of Israel).
Obadiah was he sent out at this time to seek for pasturage for the cattle (as the hunger on the land was so severe that even pastures for animals was obscure).
Elias’s by God’s word bade him go and tell his master that Elijah was there. King Ahab came forth and met Elias and accused him to be the “Trouble of Israel” as, he thought that his lands troubles are because Elias did not turns to Baal as the the king himself and most of the Jews at that time.
It was then proposed by Elias, that sacrifices should be publicly offered (to determine whose God is in control of taking out the hunger – e.g. Elias’s God of Israel or Baal to whom has many falsely turned.
, for the purpose of determining whether Baal or the Israelite’s God is the one’s master of the Universe.
The competition was accepted by Ahab and many of the prophets of Baal gathered together to “beg” his God for a miracle.

Baal’s false manu prophets gathered around the sacrifice place and started Begging Baal to send fire and burn the sacrificial altar.
Nomatter how hard they screamed, nothing happened so eventually they started cutting their bodies pouring blood in a hope to catch baal’s attention and make him have mercy on them.

As long time passed on and no miracle happened Elias told baal’s worshippers to step back from the sacrificial calf on the built altar and ordered some of the king’s servants to spill water over the calf (three times).
The water brought was so much that the whole altar trench was over-filled with water.

Then saint Elias begged to God: “Oh Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, please hear me! Let oh God this people recognize that You Lord is God and please oh Lord turn the people’s hearts towards you.”, he was still praying when fire came down from heaven and burnt the stones, the water in and the trench itself.

When all the gathered people around saw this great miracle of God, they bowed down and confessed the One and only God.
By Elias’s order the Baal’s false priests has been killed.
After this great miracle, Elias said to Ahab to came back home, before the rain has followed him.
The saint prophet climbed to the mountain top and prayed for a very long time.

After the holy man of God completed his prayers a powerful wind started blowing and the sky has filled with big clouds and a pouring rain come down to the overdried earth.
The king’s wife Jezabel, still kept her stubborness and continued severely hunting for st. Elias and even gave a vow to kill him because all her prophets were killed.

But God again was with st. Elias and saved him by warning him to run away in the wilderness.

Elias was in a big sorrow, here because many of the people still continued to honour the false god baal even though all the great heavenly signs.

God however by a great miracles, has once again shown the prophet he should be of a good spirit always and always to trust in God as he even send his Angel to give Elijah food in the desert.

Elias was among the only 7000 of Israelish man who does rejected to venerate the false god Baal.

By God’s providence st. Elias had a pupil prophet called Elijah.
The time now drew near when he was to be taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12). He went down to Gilgal, where there was a school of prophets, and where his successor Elisha, whom he had anointed some years before, resided.
Elisha was distraught by the thought of his master’s leaving him, and refused to be parted from him. The two went on and came to Bethel and Jericho, and crossed the Jordan, the waters of which were “divided hither and thither” when smitten with Elijah’s mantle.
Upon arriving at the borders of Gilead, which Elijah had left many years before, it “came to pass as they still went on and talked” they were suddenly separated by a chariot and horses of fire; and “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven,” Elisha receiving his mantle, which fell from Elijah as he ascended.
Elijah’s chosen successor was the prophet Elisha; Elijah designated Elisha as such by leaving his mantle with him (2 Kings 2:13-15), so that his wish for “a double portion” of the older prophet’s spirit (2:9)

Later on in New Testamential time it was again st. prophet Elias, who appearance in glory on Mount Tabor and talked with our Saviour Christ at the Son of God’s Glorious Transfiguration.
An interesting fact is that Elias and Enoch are the only two people who according to the Holy writtings were taken by God straight to heaven. No other mortal man has been taken that way in flesh.

According to Orthodox Church’s tradition, Elias and Enoch will be brought back to earth again by God in the last days of the anti-christ, when they will again testify about our Lord Jesus Christ’s being the truth God and will also expose the anti-christ who will falsely pretend as being the true god of Israel and a true saviour of mankind.

Again according to this church history this two prophets at this last days, will be given an enormous power from God, even a power to stop the rain to come down to earth and the power to command the rivers to stop.

Oh Holy Prophet Elias, let God have mercy on us the sinners by your Holy prayers and save us, give us grace and always show us His great mercies.
Amen!

The Resurrection of Lazarus feast in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (The day of Lazarus / Lazarus Saturday)

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

The Resurrection of Lazarus Orthodox Icon Sinai

It’s one day before the the great feast of Palm Sunday . On this day in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church we do have a reading of the glorious miracle with the raising (resurrecting) of Lazarus, that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did in front of many Jewish people.

In the gospel readings, we hear that the Lord has went nearby the place where Lazarus has been buried.
The Jewish tradition of this time is that their dead be buried in a small cave, while the body is being wrapped up in a specific white clothe matter. This kind of burial ceremony is directly related to most of the ancient Jewish beliefs about the resurrection of the death which will take place.

In that time, Lazarus has been dead (or in grave) for already 4 days, even in the Gospel, we read that the rottening body has started to decay and hence the rotting flesh to smell badlhy …

The gospel also taught us, Lazarus has been a friend of our Lord Jesus Chirst, and Christ himself loved him. Very interesting fact concerning Lazarus earthly life is also that he has been a brother of the sisters Mary and Martha.
Mary is actually the same Mary which we read about in the Gospel of Luke, the same mary which bows and cries in front of Jesus’s feets, repenting and begging the saviour for a forgiveness of her sins.

Even though our Lord has been sent a word 4 days before he came, whether the overall journey to the place where Lazarus was at that point was only 2 days. The Lord has come on the 4th day to Bethany (a village near Jerusalem)

When the Lord came in Bethany he found that Lazarus is dead and has been in the tomb for 4 days. On his arrival he met Martha and Mary in turn.
Marta was loudly crying regretting that Christ haven’t arrived earlier otherwise he would have healed from the sickness and he would not die..

The Lord replied to Marta’s lamention with his majestic words: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me shall live, even if he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die”.
As the gospel reading continues, we’re told that Christ has been sorrowful in himself and the Lord Jesus further said the famous phrase: “Jesus wept!
In the presence of a crowd of mourners (obviously many people has loved Lazarus), the Lord did his glorious miracle of Lazarus Resurrection.

After on the heavy stone which was sealing the cave with Lazarus dead body was moved away by the order of the Lord.
The Lord entered in the cave prayed and said to Lazarus: “Lazarus come forth!”
Hearing the order of the son of God and our saviour Lazarus has risen up with the funeral clothes still wrapping his body. Jesus instructed some people from the crowd to remove the grave-cloths from Lazarus and let him walk.
As many people in the grave has saw the indescribable miracle the people witnessing the miracle “believed in him”.

The meaning of the Lord’s “Come forth!” is crucial, as with the the glorious miracle of Lazarus Raising the Lord has shown his authority over death and live.
Even the death was submissive to the Lord’s order! Even the death couldn’t go against his mighty word and silently obeys!

This story was given by our God the Holy Trinity to clearly show us that he is the one in charge over death and over life on earth and hence he is the one in charge of every human being still breathing on this earth.
On the other hand the raising of Lazarus was done to show to us who still doubt in our hearts and minds and disbelief about the promised Resurrection of the Death in the glorious day of the Lord.

Our Lord has even wept, clearly showing to us that he is not indifferent to our suffering, but on the contrary is suffering with our pain himself.

After Christ’s Crucifixion, death, Resurrection and Ascension, Lazarus has become a vigilant Christ disciple. He has further compelled to seek refuge away from Jerusalem to avoid the anger of high priests and the pharisees, who wanted to kill him.
Lazarus has leaved Judea to seek refuge in another country. He found his refuge in Kittium (today called Larnaca) and situated in Cyprus.
According to Orthodox Church tradtion Lazarus has been ordained to become the first Church bishop of Kitium.

Little is known about Lazarus after Our Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension except that during his thirty year he never smiled or joked except for one occasion. One day, he saw someone stealing a clay pot and he laughed saying, “the clay steals the clay”.

Another famous tradition connected to Lazarus is the discovery of Mount Athos in 52AD.
Lazarus was very close to the Virgin Mary and he was very grieved that he could not return to Jerusalem to visit her (he was still in fear of the Jews).
The Theotokos learned of his sorrow and sent him a letter to comfort him.
She asked that he might send a ship to her that she might visit him in Cyprus.
With great joy, Lazarus sent a ship to the Holy Lands to bring the Virgin Mary and John, the beloved disciple to Cyprus for a visit.
On their journey, a great storm blew them off course and carried them to the shores of Ephesus and then the ship to the shores of Athos, Greece.
Unaware that divine providence had brought her to this area, the Virgin Mary completely taken by the beauty of the area, prayed to her son that this could be her garden devoted to prayer to “fight the good fight of faith”.
Having converted, blessed and established a new christian community from the local idolaters they set sail for Cyprus and met with Lazarus.
The day of Lazarus as we call it in Bulgaria is one of the great Christian feasts in our Orthodox Church, even though it’s not among the 12 greatest Christian feasts it’s one of the major feats throughout the Church year.
The first tomb of Lazarus in Bethany remains as a site for pilgrims to this very day. The second tomb, on the island of Cyprus, was found in Kittium sometime in A.D. 890, with his relics inside and bearing the inscription “Lazarus, the Friend of Christ.”
The commemoration of the day the Lord Jesus has risen Lazarus from the death is one of the few feasts during the great Lent which are considered days of spiritual joy in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and all other national Orthodox Churches around the world.
The feast is also known under the name Lazarus Saturday is always commemorated in Orthodox Churches, one day before the Palm Sunday feast.
By the Holy prayers of Lazarus let our Lord Jesus be merciful to us the sinners! Amen.