Posts Tagged ‘lord jesus christ’

New Russian Saint canonized in Bulgaria Archibishop Seraphim (Sobolev) a true defender of true Christ given faith, the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Archibishop_Seraphim_Sobolev-Russian-Church-in-Bulgaria

 

It is my great joy to share with my dear readers, that Archibishop Saint Seraphim Sobolev (1881-1950), Archibishop of Bogochar has been canonized officially by the Russian Orthodox Church on yesterday 3rd of 2016 in their plenary meeting
held at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.

Saint Seraphim Sobolev, has long time has been considered a saint by many Bulgarians and Russians in Bulgaria, for his countless spiritual intercessions for those who venerate him
and ask for his prayer and spiritual guidance. St. Seraphim Sobolev crypt in the Russian Orthodox Chruch in Sofia Bulgaria in honor of Saint Nicolas.

Even my joy is greater his Eminence Metropolitan Ioan (John) of Varna and Veliki Preslav, who happens also the Bishop of my birth place Dobrich, Bulgaria was present On the official canonization.
Also it is not a coincidence that our Metropolitan Ioan was present at the canonization, since he happens to be a spiritual child of a direct disciple of st. Seraphim Sobolev.

Some other notable bishop presents at the canonization Church service was, His Grace Bishop Arseny of Znepolsk, Vicar of the Plovdiv Metropoliate, and Archimandrite Feoktist (Dimitrov), representative of the Bulgarian Patriarch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.  The overall count of Bishops, Archibishops and Metropolitans who took participation in the canonization was approximately 320, almost all the bishops of Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

The news that holy Seraphim Sobolev is considered for canonization has been sweeping the Bulgarian Church space for a long time. A nice priest lady has made even a notable movie, about the saint pointing the general turning points of his difficult life, last year and the movie was presented in the Russian Cultural Center in Sofia Bulgaria, below is the movie (unfortunately in Bulgaria and Russian), hopefully soon someone to translate it also to English:

full of a lot of sorrow and uncertainties, because of the harsh Soviet time in which the saint was serving the Church.
In order to caninize a saint, the process is quite long and usually in Russian Church it takes pretty longer sometimes from 20 to 50 years, however with St. Seraphim Soboev, already 66 years already passed since his peaceful passing to Christ on 26th February 1950. The head of the local Russian Church council was his Eminence Patriarch Kiril Bishop of Moscow and all Russia.

 The members of the Council unanimously voted for the glorification of Archbishop Seraphim, who has been venerated for many years in Bulgaria and Russia. Metropolitan Ilarion then read the Act of the Holy Council of Bishops announcing the canonization of Archbishop Seraphim among the host of saints. The Council members then sang the exaltation to the newly-glorified saint. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill then gave Metropolitan Ioann an icon of St Seraphim painted at St Petersburg Theological Academy as a gift to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.


The full canonization title given to st. Seraphim Sobolev (archibishop Bogocharski) from Sofia (The Wonder worker).

picture-of-saint-Seraphim-Sobolev

So who is Archibishop Seraphim Sobolev?

St. Nicolas Borisovich Sobolev is born on 1st of December 1881 in Russia, province of Rezan in the Russian Empire. After completion of seminary in 1904, he entered Saint Peterburg spiritual academy, which he completed in 1908 y. with the honour of candidate of Theological studies.
At that time he has been ordained for hieromonk. After a short pastoral service in a school in Jitomir, in 1909 fr. Seraphim become a helpng overseer in Kalujsk spiritual school in 1911 and was inspector in the seminary of Kostroma, in 1912 he become a rector of the spiritual seminary in Voronej.

While in Vironej he had experience the terrors of Red (Soviet) Revolution. In autumn of 1919 archimandrite Seraphim went to Ekaterinodar and from then transferred to Crimea. There in 14.10.1920, he was ordained in bishop Lubenski. The ordaining was God's plan for him and also happened perhaps, because of the need of bihops, because of mass inprisonment of bishops and archibishops by the red beasts of the communist party.

With the blessing of his spiritual elder bishop Seraphim has left Russia. From this day on his life is a life of an emigrant. For a while he has taught Theology in the spiritual school of Constantionople's patriarchy on the Island of Chalkidiki.
In 1921 he was assigned as a bishop of the Christian temple in the Russian Church in honour of Saint Nicolas the Wonderworker in Sofia which was made as a monument of The Bulgarian Liberation – the Russian-Turkish Liebaration war.
Same year with a decree of patriarch Tikhon, who now is also canonized – st. Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and all Russia he was assigned to govern the Russian parishes in Bulgaria with the archibishop title Bogucharski.
Until 1944, bishop Seraphim who in 1934, became archibishop was under the jurisdiction of Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia (ROCOR) from 1934.
In 1945 he has joined back to the Russian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy. In 1948 archibishop Seraphim took participation in the All-Orthodox gathering in  Moscow.
St. Seraphim Sobolev was a fervent fighter for holy and true orthodoxy and a great enemy of the movement of Ecumenism movement (a movement aiming to unite all Orthodox and then all Churches under the government of a protestant like body called World Council of Churches).
All his life just like Jesus Christ, st. Seraphim Sobolev has lived without possessing on own house. He paid for his one room apartment from his small money priest sallary which at that time was hardly enough to pay his rent and for some food. He lived all his life renting an apartment with his own money, (something which was absolutely unthinkable), for a bishop of all Russian eparchies of Bulgaria at that times.
Even during lifetime, he helped and turned a lot of people from the sinful ways leading to death, had a lot of spiritual children after him, he established a small nun monastery Kniajevo nearby Sofia.
He also was one a fervent fighter against the cult of Dynovism (Danovism), started by anti-christian posing christian, Peter Dynov.
St. Seraphim Sobolev was a fervent defender of Orthodoxy, freely showing up the delusions of Roman-Catholicism, Protestantism, Pentecostals, Baptism, Adventism and was strongly against the popular at that time united prayers between Orthodox and non-orthodox christian teachings. He is also an author of Theological literature who in details makes a comparison between Anglican Protestant Christianity and the Eastern Orthodoxy.

St Seraphim, denounced on a multiple occasions, the movement of ecumenism as being anti-christian and not in the spirit of the one Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, thus all his life and all his spiritual children were strongly trying to hold the Church teachings, was supporters of the celebration of Church feasts under the Julian calender, and was against the untroduction of the Gregorian Calendar – so called new Style calender in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

It has to be said that it is a bit of paradox that the canonization of st. Seraphim Sobolev was made by the Russian Church, as the Russian Orthodox Church, along with Romanian and Serbian and many other Orthodox Churches continues to be an active member in the Ecumenical Movement. Because of St. Seraphim Sobolev even to these days, there are a lot of Christians who continue to follow the old Julian Calendar feasts style, the so cold Old Calendarists.

The most notable work of st. Seraphim Sobolev in my humble opinion is the creation of Acathist of the Greatest Bulgarian Saint, Saint John of Rila.

Perhaps as a fervent fighter to keep the true teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church and his incessant labor for the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, God give him a blessed departure from earthly life to the saviour of mankind the Lord Jesus Christ on the Church feast day of Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

For the 66 years since his passing to Christ, each day on the grave of st. Seraphim Sobolev has been served a special service for co-memoration of the deceased and for forgiveness of his sins called in orthodox terminology Panihida, and the remembemrance of all the brothers and sisters in Christ who has departed from life.

http://pc-freak.net/images/saint_Seraphim_Sobolev-Russian_Orthodox-Church-Bulgaria-new-canonized-saint

There is plenty of things online already online about St. Seraphim Sobolev, one good link with a bit of short biography worthy to check is here. For those who live in Bulgaria and want to get a book on his living

The grave of Saint Seraphim Sobolev is situated in a small chapel (crypt) located in the center of Sofia, Bulgaria, Russian Orthodox Church, St. Nicolas. Even to this day people go daily on a big queues to ask the saint for help in hardships in life.
The accepted way that people turn for prayer intercession is by writting their beseeches, needs, problems on a piece of paper and then dropping the small letter in a box called (Iashtik)  Russian.
I myself have been there and prayed and a lot of the things, I've asked the saint for my personal life and well being already come true. I know also of other people who by the prayers of the saint has been saved from a impossible to escape situations and a lot of people received spiritual confort and peace as well as spiritual healing when turning to the saint.
Saint Seraphim Sobolev, pray the Lord Jesus Christ for us the sinful Bulgarians and all the suffering people around the world, for the refugees, for the sick for the hungry for the homeless and for all nations that we turn to repentance and come back to the way of salvation you Lord Jesus has shown to the nations.

 

A proof Islam is false religion not pleasable to God? 717 people died during Hajj in Mecca on Greatest Muslim feast Kurban Bayrami

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The frequent deaths in Mecca in Muslim Islamic Hajj a proof islam is a false religion

This year on 24 September, for one more time on the day of Greatest Muslim feast Eid-Al-Adha in turkey known as Kurban Bayrami (translated as Feast of Sacrifice) Saudi Arabia's Hajj (during the veneration of the greatest Muslim relic Kaaba (stone)  in Mecca (said to be the birth place of Muhammad), again at least  717 poor people were killed (crushed to death) and 863 injured during Hajj's common million muslim people's prayer gathering. |

Sadly Incidents like this for Muslim pilgrims are not news and they happen quite often sadly and if taken the statistics of death toll of pilgrims for the past years is shocking.

Here are some statistics on the latest 25 years of deaths of pilgrims on a Hajj travel or those who directly died in Mecca:

Mosquee_Masjid_el_Hara_a_Mecque
 

Some notable incidents during Hajj and Mecca pilgrimages in the last 25 years include:
 

  • July 2, 1990: A stampede inside a pedestrian tunnel (Al-Ma'aisim tunnel) leading out from Mecca towards Mina and the Plains of Arafat led to the deaths of 1,426 pilgrims, many of them of Malaysian, Indonesian and Pakistani origin.[2][3]
  • May 23, 1994: A stampede killed at least 270 pilgrims at the stoning of the Devil ritual.
  • April 9, 1998: at least 118 pilgrims were trampled to death and 180 injured in an incident on Jamarat Bridge.[4]
  • March 5, 2001: 35 pilgrims were trampled to death in a stampede during the stoning of the Devil ritual.[5]
  • February 11, 2003: The stoning of the Devil ritual claimed 14 pilgrims' lives.[6]
  • February 1, 2004: 251 pilgrims were killed and another 244 injured in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina.[7]
  • January 12, 2006: A stampede during the stoning of the Devil on the last day of the Hajj in Mina killed at least 346 pilgrims and injured at least 289 more. The incident occurred shortly after 13:00 local time, when a busload of travellers arrived together at the eastern access ramps to the Jamarat Bridge. This caused pilgrims to trip, rapidly resulting in a lethal stampede. An estimated two million people were performing the ritual at the time.
  • September 24, 2015: 717 pilgrims were killed and another 800 injured during a stampede in the 2015 Hajj


The Kabba stone is the central pilgrimage place for muslims and accoriding to Islam faith it is a stone which came from heaven, there are pleny of legends and superstitious speculations regarding this stone circulating among muslims and it is hard to say which is really true, however what is sure is Hajj on Mecca has been practiced by muslims since the early days of Islam even to this very day.

From a Christian staind point going to venerate a stone is simply a venerating an idol (as a stone is a creation) and not the creator and is very different from us Christians venerating the icons, as we venerate not the icon itself but the image of personality depicted on it The Lord Jesus Christ (Christ meaning Messiah), The Most holy Theotokos Virgin Mary, John the Baptist the Angels, Archangels and Saints who immitated Christ's life and who reached immerse holines even in this life being able to perform miracles.

Tomb-of-Islam-creator-Mohammad

One really strange thing which I guess no muslim could answer is why if Muhammad was the greatest and last prophet of Allah, he did not perform any miracles in lifetime or after death. Another thing is the veneration of the grave of Muhammad (At the Green Dome) practiced in Islam that is a really strange thing and contradicts the laws of the Qu'ran instructing not to venerate anything except Ala.

I would say the main proof against Islam as being the right faith in God is the fact Muhammad died like every normal person. The greatest venerated prophet for 1.5 billion muslims more venerated even than the Isa's Allah messanger (Isa is Jesus's name in Qu'ran) died like every normal person with a peaceful death without any super-natural indication he was a prophet after his death.

In Christianity we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of God (The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit) which we call The Holy Trinity (a undividable unity between the 3 hyposthasis.
The proof for us Christians that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of Mankind is the empty Tomb (Grave of Christ), because JESUS HAS RISEN AND WITH BODY IN HEAVEN!
 

It is interesting that these bright days for muslims often end up with immerse sorrow for some families which loose beloved husbands in accidents like this.

Interestingly on Christian Easter feast be it Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox there is no records of tragic incidents.
Even it can be considered a miracle that on Eastern feasts in Jerusalem's Church of Resurrection where the Lord Jesus Christ has been risen (resurrected) from the dead there are no crushing incidents even though the big crowds, neither there are any burned people even though the whole Holy Sepulchure (Resurrection) church is filled with people holding lighted up candles with the every year reoccuring of Miracle Holy Fire.

The_Ressurrection_of_Christ-orthodox-icon

The lack of incidents on The day of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eastern) in my humble opionion is a clear sign that this feast is a pleasing God.

Muslims believe and claim that it is the greatest joy of all to die for (God) Allah and those incidents are sent blessing from Allah for those who died in those incidents and in a sense dying for God is a blessing if you die for God's sake as a martyr while testifying faith in God but being killed while you're on a way to venerate God seems a bit illogical to me.
I have red the Holy Bible Old Testament as well as the Qu'ran sometimes ago two books which more or less are being regarded by muslims and in none of them I found not a story of someone on the way to pilgrim God or who have promised to pilgrim God who have been killed, so I guess this kind of thinking is an invention of Mullam / Imams who try to justify the event and make it look beneficial for islaam, a justification which I believe most of people looking for truth and non muslims would never justity.

Crucifixion_by_Theophanes_the_Cretan

From a my view point the crushment of people during a pilgrimage is a clear sign God's Grace and Holy Angels doesn't guard the place but the devil is let to often kill those poor people because of the rejection of muslims of the true Light the Lord Jesus Christ as a true Son of God and a saviour of the Lord who came to give his holy life on the cross not only for Christians who believed in him but for all People from all religions in the world from all ages including the direct descending from Muhammad (as I heard from some Kurdish muslim people) Muslim.

I pray our Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy on the  souls of all this Mecca pilgrimages who died yesterday and the in the past accidents through the years and to have mercy and open the spiirtual eyes of Muslim around the world and enlighten them with the truthful word of the Holy Gospel.

 

Sunday of the Blind in Orthodox Church, 6th week after Easter (Passover)

Monday, May 18th, 2015

 


Sunday-of-the-blind-6th-week-after-Passover-Easter

 

 

This Sunday I was to Church and part of our Gospel Reading that occurs on every Holy Liturgy in the Orthodox Church this time we had the following reading:

Gospel of John Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.
10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

The Pharisees Investigate

13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?
28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

Spiritual Sight and Blindness

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

As you read above the Lord Jesus Christ healed the blind-born person by which manifesting Himself as a True expectedMessiah The Saviour of the Lord a Prophet and a True and Only Begotten Son of God.

The words of God directly fought the great proudness of Jewish Pharsiee wise people (thinking that know the Law better than the Lord himself). Their selfishness and great self-conceit make their soul which was in a terrible state to suffer because their produness was insulted by the truthful words and they felt wounded. They rejected the Lords words with a question by which Jewish (people) and nowadays often non-believers and even christian manifested wrath, selfishness and even mockery with contempt.

John 9:40 Are we blind also?

Answering the Pharisee's questions, The Lord has depicted there spiritual state, which was the main reason for their question. 
 

41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.


The Pharisee's considered for spiritual seers,  in a highes level understandanding God, his laws covenant and respectively spiritual realm, so they did not need any further grown in God's knowledge, thus rejecting the true teaching which was taught by God himself.

False doctrines of this blind teachers are fruit of human proud and self-conceit. 
The proud understand himself as a independent, self-sufficient and not like a God dependent creation, the earthly life as something eternal and death and eternity for unexisting.

For this people God's plan was something not existing but God was understood as the Jewish law false teachers understanding of right and wrong in a way they have associated the eternal God with the scriptures, idolizing scriptures and inverting their meaning giving them a completely different meaning to fulfill their own passions.

This people who were to be the jewish intelligentia have recognized the human reason for a world ruler.
All the thoughts of the flesh crawl the land, the human understanding to this carnal men is completely sacrificed to the earth in which he wants to arrange his life to be all time pleasure of sin.
In this empty and unreachable goal was forced all the  fleshly and spiritual powers of both pharisees and sadukees. 

The Lord show them that the humbliness and remembrance of the dead should be the true lifely goal of man and it is  the humble-wisdom that gives an insight to eternity.

Achiving humble-Wisdom contradicts the wordly and strive for virtues and therefore it is not being considered worth for man and society material understanding of good and progress.
The one achiving spiritual knowledge understands himself as a tiny unimportant particle in a huge universe of things (generations, times, paste and future events of human history).

What the Lord Jesus Christ tried to point to this blind teachers is that only the Mind and heart of humble in contrasting to the proudness and high-minded people they were could accept God's Christian teaching and to all the time endeavor in achiving the christian virties.
The non-blind person sees and feels the great failure of (his mainly) and then all surrounding humanity fallen nature and because of this soul-pain and internal and desire for salvation and spiritual resurrection and restoration are ready to joyfully accept the Saviour Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us make from our heart a spiritual altar of God and there through our mind to sacrifice spiritual sacrifices of tenderness, repentance, confession, humble heartness (which God would not despise (Ps. 50:19) Amen 

Elder (Starets) Tadej Vitovishki explaining on the perpetual Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Lord’s prayer importance for daily Christian living

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Elder (Starets) Tadej Vitovishki explaining on the perpetual Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Lord's prayer importance for daily Christian living – http://s.pc-freak.net/url/323 Tateij Vitovnishki is among the few true spiritual enlightened people of our time who had achieved the gift of never ending prayer Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me the sinner. It is interesting that the Elder advises us to not worry about events in our life or what will happen as God will order averything in our life for our best. So the standard way of thinking we have that we need to work hard to buy apartments and cars and the never ending lust for money is something that will never give us rest or drive us closer to God, that's why the Elder says he doesn't worry about anything but just concentrates on prayer and believes God will provide him with everything needed. Amazing Elder, let him pray for us the sinners!

 

The feast of 26 Zographou Bulgarian Holy Mount Athos Martyrs – burned alive by the Roman Catholic Crusaders

Friday, October 24th, 2014

holy-26-martyrs-of-holy-mount-athos-Zographos-zographou-monastery-martyrs-from-the-roman-catholic-crusaders

On 23 October (10 of October in Julian Calendar every year in Zograph Monastery in Holy Mount Athos is celebrated the martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs who were martyed by Latin crusaders in October 10, 1280. The 26 martyrs were burned alive after refusal to accept Union with the Roman Catholic Church as ordered by Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos. The then wanting to secure his throne emperor gave allowance for Crusaders together with his mercenaries Tatars and and Turks to go and “convert” the Orthodox Slavs to accept the union with the pope who wanted a primacy in the Church.

Mt. Athos stood in firm opposition to the Union. The Athonite monks sent a letter to Michael pointing out that the primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, celebrating the Eucharist with unleavened bread, the insertion of the “filioque” [“and from the Son”] into the Creed, could not be accepted by Orthodox, and they asked the emperor to change his mind. “We clearly see,” the letter said, “that you are becoming a heretic, but we implore you to forsake all this and abide in the teachings that were handed down to you…. Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations, and additions to the Faith.”


Holy Theotokos – The Virgin Mary icon which spoke with a human voice to a Zographou monk

An icon spoke to an old monk warning that the “enemies of Christ” are coming. The monk went to forewarn the brothers (as he was living 30 minutes afar in a grave-yard), but for his surprise the Holy icon of the Theotokos which spoke to him was found on the monastic entrance.
The brother went and told the abbot (Igumen) Thomas who told to the brothers to either flew in the woods if they’re weak in spirit and to the strong he said to stay and cofess the Holy Orthodox faith. Abbot Thomas together with the 23 monks (24 monks including the abbot) toghet with 4 pilgrims decided to stay in the monastery and suffered martyrdom. The Crusaders who were returning from Jerusalem sent by the ungodly emperor tried to convince the 26 confessors to accept Roman Catholic doctrines such as “filioque” (The teaching that the Holy Spirit cames also from the Son) and to celebrate the eucharist with unleavened bread (like the Jewish) and wanted the confessors to accept the papal union accepted also by the emeror Michael. The 26 Martyrs rebuked these heresies and explained that the “filique” is against the decisions of the 7 Church Councils. Also they give the proof that the Holy Spirit doesn’t proceed from the Son by retelling how John The Baptist baptized Christ and how the Holy Spirit descent over the Lord Jesus Christ in form of a dove. This didn’t convince the papists and the truthful words of the Zographus monks rebuked their error the papists were angered and burned the tower with the holy Martyrs alive. One of the monks fall of the burning tower and the latin though he is dead left him behind however he survived more 30 days! – even though he was on a dying bed and later told what happened to the brothers which came from their hiding places to the monastery. The Holy Martyrs prayed from the fire their last prayer to God to save the Holy Mount Athos and every true Christian on earth from heresies. When they ended their prayer they heard a voice from heaven “Rejoice for great is your reward in heaven!”. The Roman Crusaders heard the voice and were scared howeveras their spiritual eyes were darkened by the lack of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, they kept in their heart tightening. The Martyrdom happened according to Greek chronicles on 10 of October 1280.

The names of the Martyrs for Christ were as follows:

Igumen Thomas, and the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michael, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sava, Jacob, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Menas, Joasaph, Joannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen.

The tower building where the holy martyrs were burned was partially kept even though the fire until 1874 however the tower was already too old and it was about to ruin – that’s why it hadto be destroyed. To preserve the memory about the martyrdom of 26 martyrs all brothers of the Zographou monastry decided in one spirit to build on its place a monument.

monument-26-Zographou-martyrs-from-the_Latins-Bulgarian-Zograph-monastery-holy-mount-Athos

This happened the same year 1873. The monument had to be sanctified on the day when the memory of the martyrs is celebrated at the eve after sunrise began a night vigil. The night was moonless and on the heaven one could see only few stars. All around was silence. During the vigil exactly in midnight, after beginning the living and martyrdom of the the holy Zographos martyrs”, above the church all 600 hundred people saw a fire column. Column lighted up the whole monastery and the whole region with such a bright light, that even the small objects in the monastery could be seen. This divine column stayed over the Church for 3-4 minutes and moved and stayed above the monument for 3-4 minutes more and after that started ascending above and formed a ring like a crown, crowning the place where the holy martyrs suffered.

burning-of-26-bulgarian-martyrs-on-holy-mount-athos-zographou-monastery-by-the-crusaders roman catholiclatins

This unusual event continued for about 15 minutes. An eyesights of the miracle were all the brotherhood, guests and hermits who came from nearby Sketes for the feast.

That’s how the Almight God has shown by this miracle omen showing in front of everybody how Godly was the martyrdom of this great confessors of the true faith and loyalty to the Holy Orthodox Church.

Holy 26 Martyrs and Cofessors of the true faith pray the Lord Jesus Christ to save our souls!

Gipsy (Romany) legends about the Crucifix of the Lord Jesus Christ

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Crucifixion_of_our_Lord_Jesus-Christ-the-gipsy-legends-about-the-nails-that-pierced-the-body-of-our-Lord-and-saviour

There are a couple of curious Gipsy legends regarding the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the legend claims that the gypsies which were present on the Lord’s crucifix, tried stealing the nails because of Love for the Lord to prevent crucifixion and for this deed of them some legends say the Mother of God the Holy Virgin Mary blessed them to steal from all nations, also the legend said this give the Gipsys permissions to steal without breaking one of the 10th commandments “Thou shalt not steal“. Of course this legends are mainly circulating in gipsis communities mainly in Europe and we should consider and as every legend its probably just a myth, however I decided to place the legend here on my blog because while living in the Netherlands for 2.5 years I have been helped and had the opportunity to live among Bulgarian gipsy community and I was fascinated on the strongness of gipsies family relations – which in this time of family break up and lack of respect is quite of a blessing. It was also evident for me gipsies know how to keep together and support each other, something becoming more and more rare in the “highly civilized” but less and less mental / spiritual western world which in its intellectual revolution forgot how to live simple and free life which was originally given to us by God Almighty.

There are other variants of the legend also, some say it was a gipsy blacksmith which was ordered to prepare the nails for Jesus’s crucifix, other probably more modern Gipsy legends claim that a gipsy stole one of the 4 nails for the Crucifix and this is why the Lord was crucified with 3 nails (1 nail piercing both of his legs as Roman Catholic cross does) – however this legend is untrue because in the ancient Christian tradition it was 4 nails with which the Lord Jesus Christ was pierced on the cross. Another of the legends (probably not originating from Gipsys says), it was a gipsy blacksmith who made the nails to crucify Jesus Christ, beacuse of that the (Gipsys) were condemned to wander the earth and never settle.

Another version does not condemn blacksmiths. It says that the blacksmith was addressed by God in a dream, where he was told to make four nails, but only hand over three, as the fourth was intended to pierce the heart of Jesus. In return God gave his descendants the right to wander the earth (rather than cursing them to it) and also the right to steal from non-Romanies, without breaking the commandment Thou shalt not steal.

Saint George’s day in an Elder – Spiritual father Georgi (91 years old Priest) in Jeglarci’s Village Bulgaria

Friday, May 9th, 2014

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This year on 6th of May – saint George's day Church feast and army celebration in Bulgaria I had the blessing to be in a small village with 868 citizens – Jiglarci (Jeglarci).
Jeglarci is situated about 40 km from Dobrich. Father Georgi from Jiglarci is a well known priest in Dobrich region. He is spiritual father of many priests, monks and nuns here in Bulgaria. This is the 3rd time I'm visiting Jiglarci one time I was on Great and Holy Friday – the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and one time I was a few months ago with some brothers and sisters from Holy Trinity Church in Dobrich. This time I had the blessing to go fr. Georgi with my wife Svetlana with Russian family from moscow Mihail and Mariana, and Denica (a sister from Church in Dobrich).

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The Church saint George in Jeglarci village

Each time I visit father Georgi I have the blessing to see and hear a living proof of God's existence. Father's Georgi from Jeglarci is famous all around Bulgaria for being one of the spiritual elders of Bulgaria. He is now 91 years old but even though his age  continues his service for God (serves Holy Liturgy every day during great Lent!), continue to preach and accept dozens of people almost daily looking for spiritual advice, spiritual help, confession, or questions on how to deal with life hardship situations.
Father Georgi is known in the world under the secular name Georgi Stoyanov Peev his life is full of miracles, interesting events and wondrous facts. In communism times of atheism and Orthodox Christian faith persecutions, father Georgi was one of the many priests who underwent tortures and persecutions for his faith in Christ. Because of his firm faith of zealous priest, the Lord endowed the fr. with great spiritual gifts. In short I will mention some facts about fr. Georgi From Jeglarci life as the father is an example of a living saint, very much like another Bulgarian Church Elder (Dijado) Dobri from Baylovo.

Father Georgi has been nurtured with Christian virtues since his childhood – his aunt (sister of his father) was a nun. By his own words, "Since a child, the joy of my life was in faith". Since his youth years his faith was strong and because of that God has helped him in numerous times. Fr. Georgi had 6 children 3 sons and 3 daughters. All of his sons choose the way of priesthood and are now priests in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. His nephew fr. Stoyan is also a priest in Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Dobrich. The father become priest while being 43 years old, by studying in seminary after feeing the call of God and need for firm believers and mass disbelieve in atheistic communist times. In seminary father Georgi studied together with his son. To be able to support himself and his family financially, he worked all kind of hard labour  (sand mining near his village). His all life was labor and prayer in all his free time during studing he learned the church services, readhing the living of saints and holy bible.

Thanks to the house whom he turned into a small chapel almost 20 people become priests later in Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In his priesthood fr. Georgi was among the minority which opposed the ungodly communistic regime, he rejected to comply with communist desires to close the Church in Jeglarci and as a responce to their closure opened as a Church his own house. He was questioned and asked for reports being increminated from local Communist authorities, threatened with death and called in police stations many times because of his refusal to stop his service in Church and preaching the Gospel.

Here is a story of fr. Georgi's youth:

"Our Lord as a Good Father, not only listens our prayers but also reads in the hearts. In 1953 my brother Atanas was a soldier. We received a letter, that soldiers will be dismissed in January next year, this was a very long time. It was st. Dimiter's feast and I wanted my brother to be home for Christmas. At night I prayed the Lord, simple and by all my heart: "Lord for you nothing is hard or impossible. I beg you – in one way or another make it possible, that my brother Atanas to come home earlier.

I had a strong faith in God. My faith in God was so strong that I was feeling like being able to fly. In 3 days later only, when I saw my brother Atanas on the front door, my legs started shaking and I sat down, started crying and in my thoughts started giving thanks to the Lord, "Lord, Lord I'm a big sinner and what you've done for me the sinner …
In a short while, my brother told me how in a human way everything ordered in a way that he was able to come home, 3 days after my prayer. When I received the letter on St. Dimiter's day I've prayed, the prayer was heard and God moved. The human mind is a spiritual substance connected with God. God orders things and we in a human way receive them. On the next day after st. Dimiter's feast the coy was gathered and the commander said, "Atanas Stoyanov Peichev, make 5 steps forward and start Marching!". Together with another man commander sent them in hospital, where a doctor had to inspect their health. The two soldiers took their luggate, foreseeing that they might be kept in hospital. The health check prooved they're healthy. There were 4 months until service completion but in hospital the doctor told them – "Come on go home. Your service is over". – Do you see how in a human way the things ordered. Disbelievers would say it was a coincidence but believers knows the Lord hears our prayers, when they're prayed by our whole being and with pure heart."

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Saint George Church in Jeglarci – Altar and Dveri

Another of his stories is connected with fasting:

"The fasting of the body is a big power. It does clean up the body and draws us near God. The fasting gives a big power. I was hindered in many ways, disbelieving authorities in the village has done me many attempts to do me evil but the Lord has saved me. Didn't allowed them nothing bad to happen to me. He grant me powers, spirit to speak the truth and to not resign from righteousness. But I leave fasting …

Fasting and Prayer are lights leading to God. I was warned 3 times by our Lord about fasting significance. When we were living in North Dobrudja, following thing happened to me: " I was 15 years old. Near our village Karamankyoij a river rich of fish was flowing. One day my bigger brother cought a lot of fish from the white one. My father and all of us was tempted, we wanted eating and it was during the Great Lent. My father said, "Okay prepare the fish and let us eat, God will forgive us?" Notice he said that in faith! apostol Paul writes, 'who eat eats for the Lord and who doesn't eat- also doesn't eat for the Lord'". We have done so as well, we were big family 7-8 children,  grandma, grandpa, my father, mother. Some eat others doesn't. I was in the group of those who ate. We ate and we went to bed. A sudden pain in stomach came … hard to explain. Nothing helps, a thought came to my mind: "Lord forgive me, I will no longer eat fish during fasting". The pain immediately disappeared I immediately got well.

But unfortunately I was weak. On the other day my brother prepared fish again and invited me.

– Genyo, come lets eat.
– I suffered yesterday – I don't want.
– Don't worry your pains was from something else not from the fish, come eat I beg you.

I was tempted and ate. We played until night time and all was well with me. In night, I fall asleep, but suddenly the pain come again, 3 times more painful. I thought I am dying, I was all sweating. My mother and grandma tried to heal me but nothing helped. Then I turned with a prayer to the Lord: "Please Lord forgive me this time also." And out of a sudden I hear a noise like from many waters coming like from heaven. Something went through me and took away the pain. There was a flash in front of my eyes. Do you see how merciful is the Lord!"

Among the many spiritual gifts of fr. Georgi is the gift of "foreseeing" (thoughts and deeds, and future). Many people who visited him later narrated the father told them things which helped them improve their spiritual life. During my first visit of the father I had the possibility to raise few questions on my spiritual life, his answers was a proove for myself that the fr. has truly the gift of sagacity.
Father Georgi had many dreams during his life and many of his dreams were prophetic about future events to come. By his own words often God spoke to him in "dreams and visions". A very notable gift he has is the gift of humility and pure Godly love. He speaks in his stories about everyone including of many who tried to do him evil with profound love and forgiveness.

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By prayers of father Georgi many miracles has happened, he openly speaks of this miracles, believing that through this the weak in faith are strengthened. The father says "Even if the whole earth is convincing me to deny what I saw and experienced with my spiritual eyes I will not forsake.

His humility is sincere, he says about himself: "I am just negligible mot and the miracle is not in human deed but in God's. God uses a lot simple people and through them creates miracle to edify "the smart", those which is of God is being remembered like it happened today.  Wondrous are God's deeds!"

fr-Georgi-Jeglarci-elder-of-Dobrich-Bulgaria-1
 

"The Spiritual deed is very hard. I have worked many kind of works, when you get tired you take a rest, and for the spirit there is no rest.
What to say, how to behave, how to determine the spiritual in you, to be vigilant for your food and for body pureness for pureness of your thoughts and your heart … And of course the Prayer! This is a hard labour. The devil is trying to hit us exactly there, because in all those is the direct relationship with God. Your thought is careless, you remember "important" things, you get tired to be concentrated … And it is most harder to collect your mind and feelings and enter the heart with pure infinite faith that the Lord is with you and he hears you and then pray from all your heart and soul … So is this all easy?! And there is no end and there is no station. But once you live like this there is delight and you can't live no longer in another way …"

 

 

Russians Celebrate Christmas / Why some Orthodox Christians celebrate Nativity ( Christmas ) on 7th of January

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

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Merry Christmas to all Eastern Orthodox Christians!

I wish to all my Russian blog readers Christ's blessings, Wisdom of the 3 Wise man following the star. Humility of Christ for being born in a Cave and love of Mother of God Virgin Mary and Joseph to the incarnated Lord in flesh, Joy of the universe for the Universe rejoiced seing the birth of the savior of us sinful humans!

On 7th of January, the day on which biggest part of Eastern Orthodox Church,- Russian Orthodox Church along with Ukrainian, Macedonian, Croation, Serbian Arabic and part of Greek orthodox Church and Holy Mount Athos celebrate the day of Christ's birth. The original place where the Lord Jesus Christ was born as we read in the Gospels is BethlehemAccording to Church tradition on top of the Cave (known as Grotto) where the savior was born a Church basilica was built around year 333 A.D..

church of nativity bethlehem nowadays palestine - Jesus Christ birth place

The first Church building on top of Nativity Cave begun by Saint Helena, the mother of saint Emperor Constantine.

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The Basilica was destroyed a couple of times throughout the 3th, 4th, 5th, 10-th , 14-th and 18-th centuries in attempt to wipe out memory for Christ's birth and futile attempt of early times Roman emperors to destroy christianity.
Today Bethlehem Church is situated on Palestinian territories and place for pilgrimage of both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians. Its
interior is a very interesting mixture of a classic Orthodox Christian and a Roman Catholic basillica.

Church of the Holy Nativity Christs birth place Bethlehem

There is plenty of confusion and misunderstanding on the topic why bigger part of Christians worldwide celebrate Christmas on 24th against 25th of December and why more than half of Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate on 6th against of 7th of January?

In fact it is interesting fact that in the early Christian one holy apostolic Church, Christmas and Eastern was celebrated many times as this two feasts since beginning of the Church are center of Christian faith. In later times, when Church was already formed as an Eastern and Western Church, there are Church canons on exact date to celebrate Christmas and Eastern following the Julian Calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC). In later times with development of Science it was found that this calendar was not so precise and another Church calendar was introduced in y. 1582 by Roman Catholic pope Gregory XVIII (Gregorian Calendar named after pope). I will not get into details but from modern science Astronomical point of view Gregorian calendar is more scientifically correct. The Gregorian calendar quickly become in secular life because of its mathematical precision. And by Western Roman Catholic church Influence and desire to be more scientifically correct parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church partly accepted use of the Gregorian Calendar for counting the Church feasts. Because of that many of the feasts in those Eastern Orthodox Churches moved in forward with 13 days like the Romanian and Bulgarian Orthodox Church. However due to Church canon part of the feasts in Eastern Church can't be celebrated according to the Gregorian Calendar dates. Most important feast dates is the Resurrection day (Eastern), which according to Orthodox Church rule has always to be one week after the Jewish Pascha. There are plenty of problems that emerged due to change of acceptance of reformed Church calendar in part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, however what is most important is that the difference doesn't separate Orthodox Christian it just gives us reason to celebrate feast twice 🙂

Testament of a great saint – Testament of Saint John of Rila – Spiritual guidance for people from last ages

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

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[1.] I, John, the humble and sinful, who has never done anything good on earth, when I came into this wilderness of Rila, I found no man over here, but only wild animals and impenetrable thickets. I settled alone in it among the wild animals, without food nor shelter, but the sky was my shelter and the earth my bed and the herbs my food. But the good Lord, for the love of whom I disregarded everything and endured hunger and thirst, frost, the heat of the sun, and corporal nakedness, did not abandon me, but like a merciful and child-loving father he lavishly satisfied all my needs. What shall I contribute to the Lord for all he has given me? Many are his benefactions to me, for he looked from his holy height at my humbleness (cf. Luke 1:48) and lent his support to me to go through everything—not I, but the might of Christ, which is in me—because every good gift and every perfect gift is from him (James 1:17).

[2.] Seeing you today gathered together in the Lord here, where, as I told you, no man has dwelled until now, but only wild animals, and foreseeing that the end of my life here is soon coming on, because of this I made up my mind, before my departure (II Tim. 4:6) from life here, to leave you the present fatherly testament of mine, just as carnal fathers leave their children an earthly inheritance of silver and gold and other property, so that when you commemorate your father in the Holy Spirit, you do not forget his testament.

[3.] I know, my beloved children in God, I know you very well, that you, being beginners, are not confirmed yet in the monk’s life, but fear not, for the Lord’s "power is made perfect in weakness" (II Cor. 12:9). Just because of this I made up my mind to write for you this rough and ignorant testament of mine, so that you will keep it always in your minds to become stronger in body and soul, in the Lord, and go forward through the virtues in fear of God. Because I believe in my God, whom I have served since my youth and to whom I submitted zealously, after my departure, this wilderness, which until now was terrible and uninhabited, will be inhabited by a multitude of desert-citizens. What was written about it will be fulfilled: "The desolate hath many more children than she which hath a husband" (Is. 54:1; Gal. 4:27).

Св. Йоан Рилски. Стенопис от XIV в. в църквата на Земенския манастир.[4.] Because of this I beg you, my children, whom I have gathered in the Lord, I beg of you, my flesh and blood, do not neglect your father’s admonition and together with the apostle I say: “I am in travail again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). I beg you and make you swear on the dread name of God not to violate or abandon anything after my death, but everything I have written let be carried out, as it is written and as you have promised before God. Whosoever oversteps or violates something of it, let him be damned and separated from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, to have no share with the saints, who were pleasing to God ages ago, but let his share be with those who had crucified the Lord of Glory (Acts 7:2) and with his betrayer Judas, to be erased from “the book of life” (Phil. 4:3) and not to be inscribed [in it] with the righteous.

[5.] First of all, I bequeath to you the obligation to preserve the holy faith immaculate and unaffected by any false teaching, just as we received it from the holy fathers, without "being led away with diverse and strange teachings" (Heb. 13:9). Hold fast and keep the traditions you have heard and seen from me. Do not deviate either to the right, or to the left, but walk along the royal road. Keep yourselves carefully away from worldly fascinations and always remember why you have come out of the world, and why you have despised it and worldly things.

[6.] Now again, keep yourselves away from the avaricious snake, “for the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Tim. 6:10), according to the apostle, who calls it a second idolatry. Because for the hermit wealth consists not in silver and gold,5 but in perfect poverty, in the denial of his personal will, and in lofty humbleness. I am not telling you this as my commandments, but [I am] recalling for you the commandments of Christ. For he told his holy disciples and through them everybody who had renounced the world: "Take no gold, nor silver, nor a bag, nor copper in your belts" (Matt. 10:9) and so on. For gold and silver are great enemies of the monk and bite those who have them like a snake.

holy relics of-one of greatest saints of all times Bulgarian saint John of Rila Rila mountain bulgaria

[7.] If we, however, have undoubted hope in God, he will not leave us deprived of anything, for he himself says: “A woman may forget her children, yet will I not forget thee” (Is. 49:15). Also in another place: “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matt. 6:33). For in the beginning, when I came to this wilderness, the sly enemy attempted to allure me, for the pious king sent to me a lot of gold.6 For the sake of God I refused to see him, for I understood that it was a perfidy of the devil. I did not accept it, but returned it to those who sent it, for I thought to myself: “If I wished to have gold and silver, and suchlike things, why came I into this terrible and impenetrable wilderness, where I found no man, but wild animals?” So I saved myself from the intrigues of the sly tempter, who endeavors to trip us up in those things, which we renounced willfully. That is why you are not to look for any of these things, “for your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matt. 6:32) before your prayer [is offered].
 

[8.] Nor look to be recognized and beloved by earthly kings and princes, nor put your hope in them, leaving the heavenly King, with whom you enlisted to be soldiers and "wrestle not against flesh and blood," but "against the ruler of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12). For the prophet Jeremiah also threatens us speaking so: "Cursed be the man that hopeth in man" and the rest. Enumerating the evils, he adds that "blessed is the man that hopeth in the Lord" (Jer. 17:5-8). Do not say: "What shall we eat, or drink, or in what shall we be dressed?" for the gentiles seek after these things. "Look at the birds of the air: for they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matt. 6:26). As soon as you have come out of the world, do not go back, neither with your body, nor with your mind, for, as it is said, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven" (Luke 9:62).

[9.] The Apostle [Paul] too, however, teaches us to "forget what lies behind and strain froward to what lies ahead" (Phil. 3:13). What does "forgetting those things which are behind" mean, my children? Nothing else except to deliver to oblivion all those things which, coming out of the world for God’s sake, we have left and despised, and to strive towards the feat which lies before us, to which we were called by our taskmaster, our most gracious God and Lord Jesus Christ, who has enabled us to endure his gentle yoke, "For his yoke is easy, and his burden is light" (Matt. 11:30).

[10.] As the grace of the Holy Spirit brought you together, so must you endeavor to live with one heart and one mind and one spirit, directing your eyes only towards the eternal reward, which God has prepared for those who have loved him. The communal life is in every way more useful for monks than the solitary one, for solitude is not suitable for the many, but only for a few who are perfect in all monastic virtues. The common life, on the other hand, is useful in general for everybody, about which the patristic books tell us and teach us sufficiently. The spirit-speaking prophet David glorified it saying: "See now what is so good and so pleasant as for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Ps. 133:1). In addition to this, one spirit-moved ecclesiastical hymn writes in this way: "Because in this the Lord promised eternal life." But also our good Master Lord God Jesus Christ, does he not say to us himself, by his immaculate lips: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them"? (Matt. 18:20). Our God-bearing fathers say for the solitary life: "Woe to him that is alone when he falls; and there is not a second to lift him up" (Eccl. 4:10).

[11.] That is why, children, as the Holy Spirit through the mouth of the prophet glorifies the communal life, do you not neglect it either, but on the contrary, confirm it and be like "one body in the Lord" (Rom. 12:5), which has different members. Some of them form, however, the head which governs, others the feet which toil and bear, so that there is formed from all a single spiritual body in the Lord, created with a single mind and logical spirit, and directed by spiritual reasoning, in no wise having divisions. When such a dwelling and life in God is arranged, then he himself will be in the midst of you, governing you invisibly.

[12.] Do not seek the first place and authority, but remember those who have said: "If one would be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all" (Mark 9:35). Elect for yourselves preceptors and appoint superiors, whom God will show you, that is, men "of good report" (Acts 10:22) among everybody in spiritual matters and surpassing everybody in intelligence and spiritual discernment, and able to pasture well and comfortably the flock entrusted to them down the meadows of piety and of the life-giving commands of Christ. For these men it is proper to seek confirmation more from God than from our opinion.

      7. According to Goshev, "Zavetât," pp. 449–61, this author’s Parainesis had been available in a Slavonic translation since the reign of Symeon (893–927).
 

[13.] If, as our great father and monastic preceptor, the reverend Ephraem Syrus says,7 all of you begin to desire authority and presidencies, and all of you to be abbots, and all of you preceptors, and interpreters, and teachers, and among you spring up rivalries, quarrels, disputes, zealousness, calumnies, haughtinesses, envy and other passions indecorous for monks, then certainly be aware that Christ is not among you, for Christ is not the teacher of discord and dissent, but of peace and unity. For he prays to God the father for his holy disciples to be united, that is, of one mind—they themselves and everybody who believes in him through them, and says as follows: "Holy Father, keep them in thy name that they may be one, as we are" (John 17:11). In another place: "I do not pray for them only but also for those who believe in me through their word that all may be one" (John 17:20–21). If you will be one, be at peace one with another. For he said to his disciples, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you." (John 14: 27) For such is this peace of Christ, children, that again he speaks, saying, "Not as the world gives, do I give to you" (John 14:27). But this peace of Christ surpasses every mind. This is the peace, about which the prophet talks: "And his peace has no bounds." But also the apostle teaches us saying: "Strive for peace with all men and for the holiness, without which no man shall see God" (Heb. 12:14). May you have such a peace, now, among you, and let you arrange everything for God with great unity of mind and heart, so as not to enrage your own God and master.

[14.] If somebody is found among you who sows weeds, discords and other temptations, you have to eliminate at once such a man from your assembly, so that this will not be transfigured into a devouring canker, according to the apostle, and not to spread the evil among the good ones, and “lest any root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble by it, and the many be defiled” (Heb. 12:5); and the wicked wolf not trouble the peaceful flock of Christ, because this sort [of men] will appear. For of them Christ prophesies saying: "For it is necessary that temptations come; but woe to the world for temptations to sin!" (Matt. 16:7). For this and you, children, keep away from these things and do not allow them to live among you, but divert them away from yourselves as the shepherd chases away the scabby sheep from the pure flock.

[15.] Living together for the Lord’s sake and bearing the burdens of one another, do not neglect those who live in solitude and "wandering over deserts and in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth, of whom the world was not worthy" (Heb. 11:38), but supply them as much as you can, in order to hold them as your petitioners before God, for the prayer of the pious may achieve much.

      8. For the translation of some of the late antique classics of ascetic literature into Slavonic, see Dujcev, "Réforme," p. 262.
 

[16.] Instruct yourselves in the Lord’s law day and night (Ps. 1:2). Read often the patristic books and try to be imitators of our holy fathers Antony, Theodosios and the others, who shone like lamps in the world with their good deeds.8 Hold firmly to the church rule, leaving or neglecting nothing of this, which is established by the holy fathers.

[17.] Manual labor must not be neglected by you, however, but work must be in your hands, and the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” must be permanently on your lips, as well as the memory of death in your mind. This was the practice of the ancient desert fathers. They did not eat their bread in vain, and they not only lived themselves by labor of their own hands, but they gave to the needy too, and so they were not disappointed in their hope. “For,” says the apostle [Paul], "it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace; not with foods which have not benefited their adherents" (Heb. 13:9). He says too: "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb. 13:1–2).

[18.] Establish the newly enlightened from your own race in the faith and instruct them to abandon the indecent pagan rites and the evil customs which they keep even after the acceptance of the holy faith. But they do this because of ignorance, and thus they need to be brought to their senses.

[19.] I had much more to say to you, my beloved children in the Lord, but it is impossible to write everything. I deliver you to him who is the source of all wisdom and reason, and the true Comforter— to the Holy and life-giving Spirit, in order that he himself gives you wisdom, to bring you to your senses, to enlighten you, to teach and instruct you in every good deed.

[20.] Now I leave you our beloved brother Gregory for instructor and superior in place of me, about whom all of you testify that he is able to govern you well and according to God, and you elect him by consensus as superior, even though he does not want it, but because of obedience and humility he acquiesces to your request. After him, [choose] whomever God will show you. As for myself, I wish henceforth to live in quiet and silence, to repent my sins and to beg mercy of God. Have mercy on me, your sinful father, always in your prayers that I may receive mercy on judgment day, for I have done nothing good on earth and fear that judgment and torment prepared for sinners like me. So may the blessing of God be with you all, guarding and protecting you from all evils. Amen.

I have written this in the year from the creation of the world 6449 ( = A.D. 941) on the twenty-fifth day of the month of March.

I, the humble and most sinful John, first inhabitant of the wilderness of Rila, sign with my own hand and confirm the above-written [testament].

© 2000 Dumbarton Oaks
Trustees for Harvard University
Washington, D.C.
Printed in the United States of America

Rila: Testament of John of Rila

Date: 941 Translator: Ilija Iliev

Here is also some more information of Rila Monastery for those who want to learn more what is consequence of a living of a great saint.

The monk John laid the foundations for what was to become the greatest monastery of medieval Bulgaria circa 930–31 in the mountains to the east of the Struma river valley in western Bulgaria.2 Born around 876–880, not much more than a dozen years after Boris-Michael (852–889), ruler of the Bulgars, had accepted Christianity in 865, John began his monastic career at the monastery of St. Dimiter near his birthplace, then lived for many years as a hermit. His final settlement was a site north of the Rila river, to the east of the present Rila monastery. Remains of the foundations of the first buildings are to be seen in the meadows south of the hermitage dedicated to St. Luke.3 Jealous of his independence, John refused to welcome the Bulgarian ruler Peter (927–969), who came to pay him homage. John’s Testament, translated below, was issued March 25, 941 to regulate the cenobitic community and is his only literary work. John then retired to his accustomed solitary life, and died on August 18, 946. He was a popular subject among hagiographers; seven lives in Bulgarian and two in Greek were composed between the twelfth and the nineteenth centuries.

 

B. Subsequent History of the Monastery in Medieval Times

Little is known about the Rila monastery during the Byzantine dominion over Bulgaria (1018– 1185). The earliest Slavonic life of John of Rila, the so-called "Popular Life," was composed in Bulgarian towards the end of this period, as was the first life in Greek, authored by George Skylitzes, an official on the staff of the Byzantine governor at Srédetz (modern Sofia) during the reign of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143–1180), that now survives only in a Slavonic translation.5 The monastery’s fortunes revived considerably later during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1186–1396). Rila and several other monasteries, richly endowed by the Bulgarian rulers with new lands and villages, seem to have enjoyed considerable prosperity in the fourteenth century.6 There is also a charter of 1378 preserved in the monastery of the last Bulgarian king, Ivan Shishman (1371– 1393), that confirms the tax exemptions of the monastery’s existing properties and awards new lands as well; it refers to similar charters now lost that earlier Bulgarian monarchs had awarded to the monastery dating back to the middle of the thirteenth century.

Earlier in the fourteenth century, Rila had benefited also from a local patron, the protosebast Hreljo, a local lord and sometime vassal of the Serbian tsar Stephen Dusan (1331–1355), who erected a new monastery on the site of the existing Rila monastery, to the west of John’s original foundation, which continued in operation as the "Old Hermitage." Hreljo built a 75-foot protective tower, still preserved, in 1335. It included living quarters for Hreljo and his family as well as a chapel on the top floor dedicated to the Transfiguration.7 A brick inscription records Hreljo’s erection of this structure. In 1343 he also built a stone church, which survived until 1834. There were similar towers built at this time for the monasteries on Mount Athos (see (51) Koutloumousi [A4]), and there is one still existing at the Hilandar monastery. Forced to become a monk at the order of Dusan, who distrusted his loyalty, Hreljo was strangled to death by hired assassins in his tower in 1343, probably also at Dusan’s instigation. Hreljo’s gravestone, broken into many pieces, is preserved in the monastery’s museum and speaks of his entry into the monastery and unnatural death.8

In 1385, Dometian, the monastery’s superior, had John’s Testament recopied while hiding away the original along with the foundation’s other valuables for fear of the Turks, who had taken Srédetz in 1382. At about this time too Evtimij, the last Bulgarian patriarch of Turnovo, wrote his widely popular version of the Life of John of Rila.

 

C. Rila under Ottoman Rule

The Turkish sultans Beyazid I (1389–1402) and Mehmet I (1413–1421) issued firmans confirming the privileges Rila had received earlier from Bulgarian monarchs, but this did not save the monastery from later depredations, with the result that it was abandoned by the middle of the fifteenth century.9 There was a revival, however, in the second half of the century. Around 1460, the three brothers David, Joasaf and Teofan, sons of a certain Jakov, bishop of Krupnik, worked to strengthen and repair the damaged buildings. Shortly thereafter, a pact was reached in 1466 with the Russian monastery of St. Panteleemon on Mount Athos obliging Rila and the former institution to assist one another as needed in the future. Permission was obtained from the Turkish authorities in 1469 to transport the relics of John of Rila from Turnovo, the old capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, where they had been since 1195. The translation considerably increased the Rila monastery’s prestige. A dependency (metoh) dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul was built to the southwest of the main monastery in 1478.

Firmans issued by sultans Beyazid II (1481–1512) in 1498, Selim I (1512–1520) in 1519, and Murad III (1574–1595) confirmed the monastery in the possession of its properties, but like the earlier series of firmans, these did not succeed in protecting the foundation from the depredations of various brigands.10 Beginning in 1558–59, the monks succeeded in establishing direct relations with Russia, whose rulers they hoped would be sympathetic to their complaints of oppression at the hands of their Ottoman masters.

Despite extremely difficult conditions, which continued well into the second half of the eighteenth century, including attacks by robbers in 1766 and 1779, the monastery not only managed to survive but served as a kind of center of Bulgarian culture. Additional churches were built as dependencies towards the end of the eighteenth century and in the early years of the nineteenth century, then a complete reconstruction of the main monastery was begun in 1816.11 A fire in 1833, however, destroyed all the buildings there except for Hreljo’s tower and his fourteenthcentury stone church. The monastery was rebuilt once again in 1834 while the church was torn down to make room for a larger structure; both the monastery and the nineteenth-century church still stand today, along with Hreljo’s tower, the only medieval structure preserved on the site. Analysis Experts have endorsed the essential authenticity of the document.12 It is an example of the testamentary genre of monastic foundation documents, whose author seems to have made some use of (3) Theodore Studites and even (4) Stoudios.13 There are indeed some resemblances to the former document, such as the statement of purpose [3], the prohibition of changes [4], and the admonition to preserve the faith [5]. The use of the wilderness topos in the brief foundation history [1] also has a close parallel in (29) Kosmosoteira [1], a twelfth-century document. On the whole, however, this is a distinct document with its own concerns for the ordering of monastic life at Rila.

 

A. Lives of the Monks

Like his Stoudite predecessors, John of Rila endorses [10] the cenobitic lifestyle, but also urges his monks to establish [15] relations with and support neighboring solitaries. This coexistence of cenobitic and eremitic lifestyles, prefigured in John’s own career, would be one of the notable characteristics of Byzantine monasticism. The author demonstrates an acquaintance with the ascetic tradition of late antiquity, quoting [13] Ephraem Syrus and recommending [16] the study of patristic literature, in particular the Lives of St. Antony, founder of anchoritic monasticism, Theodosios the Koinobiarch, “and others” as well as respecting canon law. John also invokes [17] patristic authority for the practice of manual labor.

 

B. Constitutional Matters

While there is genuine disciplinary content in this document, its chief purpose, as in most testaments, was to designate [20] a successor, here the monk Gregory. John then announces his intent to retire into seclusion as part of an arrangement for assuring an orderly succession to the superiorship that is similar to that proposed in the eleventh century in (22) Evergetis [13]. C. Financial Matters

Aside from the commitment to self-sufficiency that seems implicit in his endorsement of manual labor, there are no indications of how John expected the foundation to support itself financially. He proudly asserts [7] that he refused a royal donation, perhaps an annuity like the solemnia attested in Byzantium in the tenth century, and he advises [8] his community not to seek favors from “earthly kings and princes” [8]. This deliberate shunning of material support is unusual. Many later founders did not fear for the independence of their foundations when accepting imperial largess or tax exemptions (e.g., (13) Ath. Typikon [36] or (19) Attaleiates [22]), nor did Rila itself long after John’s death. As Dujcev ("Réforme," p. 263) surmised, John probably was concerned about Bulgarian monasticism being too submissive to secular authority, understandably given the prior history of Bulgarian monasticism under royal patronage.

 

Coptic Patriarch Preaching on Hope – We Christians should never loose hope! God is with us!

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

patriarch__Shenouda-of-coptic-oriental-orthodox-Church

Whoever believes in Christ he has an everlasting life, as Christ promised us. Faith, Hope and Love are the three essential things we should always keep in heart. I myself being a Christian often forget about importance of Hope. It is one of the spiritual weapons we Christians should hold firmly in our life. I've been in situation, where all around is failing and I'm miserable and powerless, in those moments I should remember more often the Holy Scripture advices that Hope should always be with us. Below preach is the words of Pope Shenouda the Coptic Oriental Church patriach, I believe we can only learn and astonish on his graceful words.


 

His Holiness Pope Shenouda Words on Hope – Hope Christians unfailing all time weapon

Let by this holy patriarch words, God bless Christians with a good hope. It is the beginning of the Great fasting in the Orthodox Church worldwide, so now we need hope more than ever! By the prayers of all saints oh Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us sinners …