Posts Tagged ‘orthodox churches’

Minsk Monastery trip to saint Elizabath’s Nun Convent – Spiritual realms of Belarus

Monday, April 7th, 2014

st_Elizabeth_Romanova-monastery-Church
If you happen to be in Belarus's capital Minsk and you're a Christian you would definitely will be interested to see the spiritual side of Belarus. I was in Minsk with my wife for a month and had the chance to go for a pilgrimage in st. Elisaberth's Orthodox Christian Convent.

In Belarus about 80% of population of population are Orthodox Christians with about 7% Catholics, some 4% protestants and 9% atheists. I'm Orthodox Christian myself so mostly I kept interest in exoeriencing Orthodox religion life there. The religious life in Belarus so deeply impressed me so I decided to even document it here.

I was in a couple of Orthodox Churches during the Great Lent first week attending afternoon (Great) Repentence services canon of St. Andrew of Crete. And was amazed how many people are religious in this God fearful country. All Churches where I was during the Great Canon or Holy Liturgy was so full of people that you cannot even enter the Church if you're late for the service. People attending were also very concentrated on the service and most of the people came to services bringing most of which holding a book with the Great Repentance Canon following the service and concentrated in praying and doing ground prostrations. One thing to note is Belarusian Orthodox Church is a sub-division of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), Belarusian doesn't have their own patriarch but are under the patriarchy of Russian and all Moscow patriarch – Kiril I.

Few weeks ago for Sunday of All Orthodoxy (Triumph of All orthodoxy) for Holy Liturgy service me and Svetlana with a close friend of her Tatyiana went to St. Elisabeth's Monastery. 
Monastery is named in honour of St. Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova – which is the last Russian Grand Princess of the Romanov family later executed with her husband and kids by Communists Bolsheviks, canonized by ROC in the 1990s.

Saint_Elizabeth_holy_orthodox_icon_monastery_Minskst_Elizabeth_Romanova-monastery-Church

The monastery as almost all Churches in Belarus is so full of people you cannot move (it seems in Russian Orthodox Church – there is an amazing spiritual awakening at the moment). I wanted to confess and even though I was in the Church building before beginning of the holy liturgy and there were two priests to confess the queue of people to confess was so long that confession lasted until the end of the Holy Liturgy. In order to able to confess I've waited on the "confession queue" for about 2 hours and a half. Even though Holy Liturgy completed confession continued and those who confessed after the Church service end was also offered the Holy Sacraments. Another stunning thing for me was the amount of young and obviously intelligent people who was in the Church – just to compare here in Bulgaria, seeing young people in most Churches and monasteries is a rare thing ..

Saint Elisabeth's Monastery is the only monastery situated in (very near 19 km away) from MINSK on Vigotskogo 6 str. We reached the monastery by taking bus from regular Minsktrans (state's bus company) city bus nr. 26, other bus and trolley riding there are – bus 18 and trolley 33, 38, 55.
Monastery was established in 1990 after dissolvement of USSR and is situatuated on a place where previously there was no church or a monastery. The SisterHood in monastery is enormous by size and consists nowadays of 7 Churches!!!

St_Elizabeth_Monastery_Monastery_Minsk-picture

The main Church of the Monastery has saint relics from all around the known Orthodox Walls, to venerate all the saint relics you will need at least 20 minutes!! The Holy Relics of the monastery are so much that they remind me very much of Monasteries I've seen on Holy Mounth Athos. The spiritual father of the monastery is father Andreya Lemoshonka.

father-Andreya-Lemeshonka-spiritual-father-of-st-Elizabeth-monastery-Minsk


From ruromrs the sisterhood in monastery consists of about 120 sisters (and even maybe more), some of them are Nuns and others are the so called "Sisters of Mercy" (something like the "White Sisters" moveing in the Roman Catholic Church) – woman who deliberately decided to help the monastery often walking the streets shops and metro stations collecting charity for poor, sick and people in need. Sisters of mercy are something exception and seeing a lady dressed in white robes on the street or metro with a prayer book at hand is something rare to see in today's crazy materialistic world. Some of this kind sisters of mercy are novice nuns in the monastery and others are just worldly woman with family whom the monastery employes on a small renumeration.

Minsk-sister-of-mercy-sestri-miloserdie-Belarus

The cloister is a unique place next to the majestic Church buildings, the monastery has a coffeteria where you can have a coffee / snacks or even a dinner after service, there is a Church shops full of icon and all kind of orthodox spiritual literature,a Christian games for kids (Orthodox Lotto, kids collapsible Churches from cardboards) as well as a food store with fasting and non-fasting food and even a shop for Christian clothing "Православная Одежда". 

orthodox-clothes-shop

Orthodox Clothes Shop near St. Elizabeth's monastery Minsk

st_Elizabeth-monastery_minsk-medovaja_lavka

A Honey Store – St. Elizabeth Monastery Belarus

st_elizabeth_monastery-food-store

Orthodox Foodstore near St. Elizabeth Monastery Misnk

In one of the Churches there is a 3 floor tiny shop first floor sell icons, books and faith related things, monastic souvenirs and on the second floor there is a herbal pharmacy  with healing herbs for almost all kind of physical and nervological disorders etc. Part of monastic life is the evening and morning service which occur everyday in the monastery. The spiritual father of a monastery Andreya Lemoshonka who is a married priest is also leading frequent lectures on faith and is often helping people coming to him for a spiritual advice, a problem or question related to faith. The Nuns are fasting each Monday, Wednesday and Friday – fasting also in Mondays even though this fasting day was only observed in ancient Church and in many Orthodox monasteries, Monday fastings (In veneration of Angels) is no longer observed – i.e. sisterhood life is very strict. Near the monastery is situated a Mental Hospital and one of the duties of nuns is to often visit the mentally sick there. The sisterhood helps orphanage homes and is bringing for Holy sacraments often a lot of sick children.

st_elizabeth-monastery-minsk1

Part of monastery service is sheltering the homeless, alcoholics and drug addicts offering them encouragement and work in the small monastic farm. The monastery has also workshops where people with disability work in making gloves, icons, decorations, souvenirs embroided by hand. Near the monastery there is a wooden shop where one can order all kind of custom crafted wooden wardrobes, chairs or anything wooden you like for your home.

What I saw there make my heart joyful. It seems Minsk Monastery achieved something which is rarely seen in Orthodox world a symbiosis between Faith, charity and a monetary funding model that works
The monastery very much reminded me to an Orthodox movie Forpost and to the Godly initiate in Bulgaria by father Ioan of Novi Khan who by his efforts, Gods help and the charity of hundreds of bulgarian takes care for about 150 homeless orphans in a monastery.

 

'Forpost' (Outpost) – What the Church Can Accomplish. 

As a closure word I want say Thanks and Glory be to the Holy Trinity The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit! for blessing me to the pilgrimage journet to St. Elizabeth's monastery!

19 January Epiphany – The Baptism of Christ Church hymn in Russian and Serbian Orthodox Church

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

On 19th of January each year, many of the Orthodox Churches who still follow the Old Church Calendar celebrate one of the 12 most important feasts in Church life.

On this date Russian Orthodox Church Serbs, Ukrainians, Molodovan and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem are celebrating.

In  Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Greek and Romanian, Croatia and other Eastern Orthodox who follow new calendar, The Day of Jordan (The day in which Jesus was baptized in Jordan) is celebrated on 6-th of January on the same date when Russian, Serbs, Ukrains and other Orthodox Churches using old calendar celebrate Nativity of Christ.

The feast of Baptism of Christ is one of the most ancient feasts in Church history.
Here is the Church troparion as sung on (Jordanov den – as we say in Bulgaria – St. John's Day).


 

Epiphany Troparion / Тропарь Крещения (Troparion The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in Russian)


 

Тропарь Крещения Господня (Troparion Kreshtenie Gospodne as sung in city of Luhovic Russia


 


 

Tropar Bogojavljenja – The Lord's Baptism in Serbian Orthodox Church

The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ hymn in Arabic

It is interesting fact to know that in Roman Catholic Church and most western countries the feast of Epiphany is known as the feast of Three Magi Kings (The Three Wise man who came to bring expensive gifts to venerate the birth of King of Kings the Lord Jesus Christ). Many of the traditions accepted in Western Countries for Epiphany are very similar to traditions practiced by countries where there is widespread Roman Catholicism influence. I've red about the feast as practiced in various countries in Western Europe and it appears many of the traditions are similar as paradigm to German and Dutch SinterKlaas (Saint Nicolas) feast. It is interesting fact that some of the traditions like the releasing of the Cross in Rivers by the Orthodox Priest and cross take out by the bravest man  in Bulgaria is also practiced in Greece, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and probably some Orthodox Christian regions of countries belonging to ex-YugoSlavia.

Nativity Orthodox Church Hymn songs for 6th against 7th January – in Russian, Ukrainian, Macedonian, Serbian, Arabic and Syriac language

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

 

Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ Mother mary bowing Christ orthdox icon

Today is third day of Nativity and as this year I'm celebrating Christmas feast with Serbian and Orthodox Church feast, it is also the 3rd day of Christ's birth for me too 🙂

On 6-th against 7-th January eve Nativity is celebrated in following nation wide Orthodox Church patriarchates:

 

 

  • Russian Orthodox Church
  • Serbian Orthodox Church
  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church
  • Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem (Patriarchate of Jerusalem)
  • Moldovan Orthodox Church

I'm eager to find as much as possible, about the Orthodox Church worldwide. So I took the time to collect the Church Hymns (Troparions and Kondaktions) which are sung in each of patriarchate Churches celebrating on 6th against 7th. Hopefully my little article will help other Orthodox Christians who want to know more how other nation-wide "sister" Orthodox Churches are celebrating Nativity's feast, as well as hear the identical Orthodox Church hymn performed in other languages.
 

Рождество Твое, Христе Боже наш (Rojdesto Tvoe Hriste Boje Nash – Russian Nativity Troparion)


 

Рождество Христово – Рождество Твое Христе Боже наш – Russian Christ Birth Troparion


 

Рождество Твое,Христе Боже наш…(хор Матфея) – Nativity troparion Ukraine (Ukrainian) hymn


 

РОЖДЕНСТВО ТВОЈЕ-Тропар Глас 4 – Serbian Chruch Christ's birth troparion


 

Дева Денес – Кондак на Рождество Христово * впнмј – Kondak Christ's birth Macedonian


 

An Arabic Christmas Carol (Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity) – Nativity Troparion in Syriac (Arabic)language

Byzantine Hymn for Nativity (in Arabic) ترتيل بيزنطي للميلاد المجيد

There are some other Christians part of the Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches  celebrating Christmas on 6-th against 7-th of January, those who I know of are;

  • Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
  • Armenian Apostolic Church
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Church (under the patriarchate of Coptic Church of Alexandria)

This two Churches areclose to Eastern Orthodox Church in teaching, but are not in official eucharistic communion. Probably there are also other Christian Churches celebrating on  6-th against 7-th of January and maybe I'm missing some Orthodox Church. I personally know a person from the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Lets hope by the prayers of the Holy Theotokos Virgin Mary and all saints, soon the Oriental Orthodox Churches will come back and recognize decisions taken by Holy Fathers on 7 Orthodox Church ecumenical councils and then we all joyful sing together united in the faith of the Holy Apostles our Lord Jesus Christ's Nativity hymn !
 

If you happen to be reading my post and you belong to another Orthodox Church patriarchate I forgot to mention or don't know about, please drop a comment to which Church you belong and put a link to your Church sung Troparion and Kontakion.
Let us together rejoice with the joy of Angels and the wise East Magis who came to venerate the birth of King of Kings with gifts and gold.
 

Troparion (Tone 4) Your Nativity, O Christ our God, Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshipped the stars, Were taught by a Star to adore You, The Sun of Righteousness, And to know You, the Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You!

Kontakion (Tone 3) Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!

6th against 7th Nativity / Budni Dan / Божић, ( Christmas ) in Serbian Orthodox Church Nijmegen

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Saint Savva Nijmegen Serbian Orthodox Church Bojic Badni dan Rojdestvo Hristovo Nativity

I'm in Holland and here the closest place to Arnhem where Orthodox Holy Liturgy is served is in Nijmegen. I go every Sunday on Church taking the train from Arnhem to Nijmegen – the whole trip takes 15 to 20 minutes .One Sunday, I go to Russian Orthodox Church, and one Sunday to Serbian Orthodox Church. As a rule of thumb for us Orthodox, if we attend Orthodox Church different from your nation wide (autocephalous) Orthodox Church, the person who takes part in prayer and Eucharist communion with the respective Church should celebrate the Church feasts according to the respective Orthodox Church calendar (in my case Russian and Serbian Orthodox Church) calendar. Both Russian and Serbian Church are following the so called Old Church Calendar, where in my national Church the Bulgarian Orthodox Church just like Greeks, we follow the "New  feasts Church Calendar". The difference between the two calendars is 13 days in some of the feasts, meaning Orthodox Churches which still observe the Old Church Calendar have some of the feasts like Nativity 13 days later.

Two years ago, I've celebrated Christmas with the Russian Orthodox Church on the 3rd day of Nativity (9th of January). This year by God's great mercy I had the chance to celebrate Рождество Христово with the Serbs.

Thus  this, year I celebrate Nativity (Рождество Христово – as we say in Bulgarian following the Old Church Calendar today on 6-th against 7-th January Eve.

In Nijmegen, there will be no midnight (полунощница) Holy Liturgy, but instead on Sunday Morning, there was a Holy Liturgy in which we celebrated the feast of Nativity of the Lord Lord Jesus Christ and at the end of Church service we greeted each other with the joyful salute Christ is born – Truly he is Born!

It was a joyful service leaded by the hieromonk priest father Dushan, who is in charge of Nijmegen's, Amsterdam and Breda Westen Europe Serbian eparchy .

The Serbian Church here in Holland are blessed to have for veneration holy relics of saints:

  • st. Zosima (Tumane)
  • saint Nektarios of Aegina
  • venerable Dena (ikoki)
  • saint Tsar Urosh
  • saint Paraskeva (the Bulgarian / of the Balkans)
  • saint Nikolaj Srbskij (Velimirovich)

Serbs are very good people and everytime I go to Serbian Church, I'm warmly accepted as true brother in Christ, this time it was no different.

It was a triple  feast for me as I both celebrated the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, received the Holy Sacraments and venerated the Holy relics of this Great Saints.

In Serbian Church have, the same pious tradition like in our Bulgarian Orthodox to great each other with the Nativity (Rojdenski) Church Greeting – Христос се Роди – Воистину се Роди / Christ is born – Truly he is Born!

In Serbian Christmas is called Bozec / Badni Dan (Yule-log tree day), very similar to the Bulgarian Бъдна Вечер / Badna Vecher  (Yule-log tree night).

As I'm a bit keen on learning Serbian, I've found a video in youtube re-telling the story around the miracles surrounding the birth of the King of Kings the Lord Jesus Christ:

Верски календар – Божић / Religious calendar – Christmas- The story of Christ birth as told in Serbian Language

Here is the Serbian Church Troparion for the day Rojdestvo tvoe:


 

Рождество Твое,Христе Боже наш…(хор Матфея) – Српски / Rojdestvo Tvoem Srpski

In Serbia Christmas is known as Bozic, often written in latin as Serbs tend to write nowadays mainly in Latin, Cyrillic however is still in wide use mainly in Serbian Church. Mentioning cyrillic I should say, Serbian is in maybe 60 / 70% similar or same in words as Bulgarian language as we are brother nations, and plus the Holy Liturgy service is in Church Slavonic so I understood about 80 to 90% of all the service with no problem. Also speaking with Serbians is very easy, if I speak a simplified version of Bulgarian and they speak simple Serbian – our languages are almost identical. A Situation with Serbian and Bulgarian is very much like here Holland with German language.

There were few things in the Church, which was new for me. A native Serbian Church tradition is they bring haystacks in the Church as a remembrance for Christ being born among the hay in the manger.

seno serbian church hay haystack, bundle of hay picture

Also one other local tradition which is not in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and not in Russian Orthodox Church is bringing the yule-log tree trunk in the Church.
In Bulgaria we also put Christmas, new year tree but not the cut trunk of it.

yule log tree budnik bydnik serbian church local tradition

It was very joyful, the whole Church was full of people from ex-Yugoslavia – Serbia, Bosnia & Hertzegovina and Macedonia. The biggest joy was the plenty of children and new-borns from age around 1 year to age 7 – 10 years. There were also plenty of teenagers and people in their 20 – 30s, something I've rarely seen in Bulgaria. The fact that the Church service was all attended by Emigrants and the fact serbians help each other so much while living abroad is something that makes me rejoice, the only thing I don't understand and (pray it change) is why we Bulgarians are united like this?

At the end of the Church service, there was something I liked very much too. The little kids in the Church were invited to come to the piles of hay on the ground sitting behind the icons, and told there are candies hidden in the hay 🙂 The kids started seeking through the straws finding chocolates in different forms joying. The idea of this entertainment "game" was great, as it makes children feel at home in the Church and by doing so Serbs teach their children to love the Holy Church and by this are little by little raising the next generation of devoted Serbian Orthodox Christians. I never saw in Bulgarian Orthodox Church, any activity in our Church like this, so I think maybe if our Church organizes something like this on Christmas it will be very good for both Bulgarian Orthodox parents and kids.

To make the Church joy complete, at the end of the Church service, all the layman were invited for a cup of coffee, tea and quick fasting meal. 6-th against 7-th of January is the last day of the Nativity fasting in the Church and since the fasting is over early on 7-th morning after the night vigil and morning holy liturgy all food in the little  kitchen of the Byzantine Building ( Chapel ) was fasting

People from Church has prepared a very taste food, many of which in type was very similar to the food we eat in Bulgaria during fasting and Nativity.

Other thing impressed me in Church, was the attitude of the woman, most of them were very concerned about man, and they leave nothing in the kitchen to be done by man, they served food etc. Somehow it seemed to me that Serbian ladies acted like true ladies, taking care for all the kitchen work, serving doing their best to make the man feel comfortable, something that is still evident in less developed economy nations like India, Pakistan etc. This kind of woman attitude is very hard to be seen nowadays in almost all around the world, including Bulgaria, so salutes for the good Serb woman 🙂

Just like us Bulgarians, Serbs also have Rakia as a traditional alcoholic beverage. This time they had a Serbian tea (as they call it) a mixture of hot tea and good quality rakia 🙂 – I rarely drink alcohol these days but this "Serbian tea" I liked very much. Among the food, there was the traditional wrapped rice in cabbage leaves, peppers filled with rise, own baked loaf (pitka), some very delicious meal combining something like boiled potatoes with mushrooms and some vegetables inside looking a bit like the Bulgarian Banica.

It is like a Church tradition, here in the West Orthodox Churches, to eat together after the end of Holy Liturgy. In the Holy Trinity Church in Dobrich, sometimes we do this as well but  not every time like here in West. Eating together with the brothers and sisters from the Church makes the Church experience complete and is a symbolic continuation of communion after the true communion receiving the Holy Blood and Holy Flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Eucharist.
 

Nativity of Christ (Christmas) in Orthodox Church 24-th against 25-th December and 6-th against 7-th January – Spreading good news of Christ birth twice

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Ancient icon of Nativity of Christ Mount Sinai 7-th 9-th-century Rojdestvo Hristovo pravoslavna ikona - celebrating feast twice double spreading the good news of Christ's birth

In Serbian and Russia and Jerusalem as well as Orthodox Church January 6th against 7th  eve is Nativity (The day in which we Orthodox Christians, celebrate The Incarnation (Birth) of Christ).

In the Orthodox Church, there are some Orthodox Churches who celebrate Nativity on 24th against 25-th December (Bulgaria, Greece, Romania etc.) and some who celebrate Nativity on 6-th against 7-th January (Russia, Jerusalem, Syria, Serbia, Ethiopia, Egypt  etc.) . The reason for this is some  autocephalous (nation wide) Orthodox Churches use the so called New dates Church calendar, and others are still using the Old Calendar. Nomatter that all Orthodox Churches are in eucharistic (sacramental) communion and celebrate Easter on one and same date. The feast of birth of Christ was known to be originally celebrated on 24-th against 25-th of December (but this was according to the previous dates calendar used in the world which was based on the moon phases). After whole the world accepted and use even till now the so called Gregorian Church calendar, which is said to be more mathematically precise some of the national Orthodox Churches, with the usual consent between all nation Orthodox Church Patriarchates decided to move the 24-th against 25-th December to be celebrated on 24 to 25-th eve to be more accurate with the world dates calendar used by all throughout the world. This same 24-th against 25-th of December according to the old world dates calendar which was used in most Christian countries before the Gregorian calendar become the de-facto standard for world calendar coincides with  6-th against 7-th December.

There was quite a talk going around between people who were for and against the 24-th and 25-th calendar, as in all Orthodox Churches until the 1950/60 Nativity of Christ was celebrated on 6-th against 7-th January. Now there are two camps of people in the one Holy Apostolic Orthodox Church, those for the new calendar and those against it.

Nativity of Christ Rojdesetvo hristovo Christmas 24-th against 25-th December and 6-th against 7th-January both correct and unifying the One Holy Apostolic Orthodox Church
Actually in practice following Christmas on both date is not incorrect, and it should be mentioned in very ancient times of the Church, Nativity of Christ was celebrated every-day as Church services were continuing 10 to 12 hours each day!!!! Thus in ancient Church, there was not a special day for a birthday of Christ, but it was known in the Church Christ for sure Christ was born in December, many saints (if not mistaken) including st. John of Chrysostom said 24-th eve is the correct date on which the most pure Mother of God Virgin Mary gave birth to our savior and Messiah (Christ).
 
No-matter about the date, even as situation now is where some Churches celebrate Christmas on 24th eve and some on 6th against 7th this should not be perceived as separation of the Church, but as point of unification and increasing of possibility of people to hear about the birth of the savior of us the sinful humanity. As the good news of Nativity is preached and heard by unbelievers and believers twice the year instead of just one, making the world remember twice about the moment in which we received the news for hope of redemption and salvation from the corruption of death that ruled over us before Christ's incarnation and salvation mission on earth.

 

The Living of Saint Peter and Saint Fevronia – a fascinating Russian cartoon retelling the saints story

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Saint Peter and Fevronia Orthodox Christian saints protector of happy family, love and blessed marriage

The anime Living Story of Saint Peter and Saint Fevronia is a modern story remake of an ancient Church living of two bright Russian saints.
The official movie genre is orthodox christian kids animation movie.
The 14 minutes cartoon re-tolds the living story of St. Peter and st, Fevronia in a playful and entertaining way like for kids or youngsters.
Nomatter the movie primary target audience is children, the cartoon is great to see for adults people as well :).
The movie genre is orthodox christian kids animation movie.
The plot is based on a true (historic record) story of two saints venerated each year across Orthodox Churches around the world.

The original story I watched was a Bulgarian translation from Russian. But since I found it to be so valuable, I look for a translated video and got one in youtube.Take 14 minutes break and watch it, I'm sure you will like it so much, that probably give it a second time glimpse alone or with your wife, children or girlfriend.

Unfortunately, the english title is mis-translated as it says "Tale" and not "Story" and there is difference in meaning between this two words.
It is not tale as tale is made up story and this is not a made story but a story based on the two saints who lived in the end of 12 and beginning of the thirteen century.
Here is in short the real Church living:
The two saints were living in Murom Russia. Peter was prince and Fevronia a poor maid a daughter of a beekeeper who made his family living by collecting wild honey in the forest.

Prince Peter was striken by a severe sickness and in a vision it was revealed to him, that the only one that can cure him is Fevronia (a village maid living in the village of Laskovo Russia. The prince went to her and since he saw she is a pious, good and wisdom rich maid promised her, if she manage to heal him to take her as a bride to his place.
By her warm prayers to God and herbs, Fevronia succeeded in healing the prince sickness. Being fully restored st.Peter changed his mind and wanted to break his promise to marry her, cause the young made not part of the aristocratic Russian society. He didn't yet reached his home and the sickness, came back. This time with a deep repentance, he came back to Fevronia and she cured him again. Then the prince merried her and made her a princess of Murom
 

St. Peter and Fevronia Orthodox Church saints protector of marriage

However there love in Christ had to went through high temptations. Once the couple married, the prince proud boyars requested the prince to leave his new bride, as they didn't wanted to accept a simple girl as Fevronia will be governing them. Being in uneasy situation prince Peter prefered to leave his governing power and castle but to stay with his life. Together by boat by the near river Oka they left the kingdom. Soon after Gods wrath came Murom because of people's rebellion and the people requested the chased prince family to be restored to power.
Pushed by the peasents, the boyars bringed back the couple to power. The two saints governed their kingdom with great wisdom, love and mercy to the people.

In their old age the decided to become monks in separate monasteries. St. Peter received his new monk name David and princess Fevronia took the nun name Evphrosia (Evfrosia). Even living a sepate monk / nun life the couple continued having a deep love to each other and asked God to take them from this earthly life on the same date. God answered their prayer granting them to depart this earth on the same day in the same hour!
Like in life even in death people tried to separate them.
Fevronia was put in a coffin in the nun monastery, where Peter was prepared for a monk funeral in the man monastery and they put them in separate graves.
In the morning the graves were empty and their bodies were found buried together in one grave. People realized it is Gods will they are buried together and left them buried together. Today the incorruptable bodies of the two saints can be seen and venerated in Holy Trinity's nun monastery in the town of Murom Russia. St. Peter and St. Fevronia are considered patron of the Christian marriage, couple's love and family happiness.
It is common that many young people are, asking for the two saints prayer intercession in front of God for getting a good spouse in life and good marriage.

Also the two saints are oftenly asked for prayer for improving a marriege bindings.
The two saints feast day is like the Orthodox Antipode of the Roman Catholic feast of couples in love – St. Valentine.

As you see, St. Peter and St. Fevronia living is full of wisdom and true spirituality, and there is plenty we the modern disbelieving people can learn from it.
Let God by the two saints holy prayers have mercy on us.

The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ feast in Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Ascension of Christ Orthodox Icon, Voznesenie Hristovo ikona, Vyznesenie Hristovo icona

On 2 of June this year 2011, our Bulgarian Orthodox Church has marked one more bright feast (one of the 12 chief (God’s) feasts).

The Spiritual Joy is great as our Saviour has Ascended to Heaven 40 days after his Glorious Resurrection in front of the amazed desciples, and crowd of people who were with them.

An Angel has also told the people testifing our Lord’s ascension that the Second Coming of our saviour will take place in the same manner as his Ascension.

Here is some passages from the Gospel of Luke 24:50-53

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
51 hile he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

It’s a tradition in some Orthodox Churches that the Paschal Greeting (Christ is Risen / Hristos Voskrese / Hristos Anesti etc.) is substituted with the greeting:
Christ has ascended by the person greeting, while the respondant confirms answering with Truly he has ascended

This Ascension greeting is not that deeply routed among Christians as the Pashcal greeting, though it’s very truthful and beautiful, to use it instead of the standard daily Hi greeting 😉

The whole following week after Ascension’s feast has been arranged by the Church to be a feast week commemorating our Lord Christ’s glorious Ascension (in his glorified body) to Heaven and sit in the right hand of God.

There is a local village hear in Bulgaria near a village called Spasovo – Saviour’s which has a Church called The Ascension of Christ

In this small village there is a spring which does start flowing only on the date of the Ascension (celebrated on a different date every single year)!!!
That’s amazing God miracle given to strengthen our faith as a confirmation that the Ascension of God’s Son and our saviour Christ is a real event that happened!

There is a false belief seriously accepted in many non-devoted Orthodox Christians who does not know well the Orthodox Christian faith, that on the date of The Ascension the so called Spasov Den (in Bulgarian) – Day of the Saviour , the dead who are in heaven and hell are allowed to get out of Heaven or Hell (for a temporary break) and be a bit closer to the living.
Many people who believe this insanity instead of visiting a Church and being joyful for the Ascension of Our saviour do go to the city graves and spends few hours, crying or remembering the dead …
This kind of believe is firmly non-orthodox and is taken from ancient paganism beliefs.

With all this said I find it important to say few words on why the Lord Jesus Christ has ascended?

The answer to this question gives Christ himself, as he says in the Gospel of John – Chapter 16

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth;
It is expedient for you that I go away:
for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you;
but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Here is a part of the Troparion for Ascension that is being sing in the Church:

When You fulfilled the dispensation for our sake,
and united earth to heaven:
You have Ascended in Glory, oh Christ our God
not being parted from those who love You,
but remaining with them and crying:
I am with you, and no one will be against you!

Christ has Ascended to all Orthodox Christians!

Merry Russian and Serbian Christmas – The Russian Church Service feast in Nijmegen!

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Orthodox Church Nijmegen Holy relics of Patriarch Tikhon of Russian and Moscow and relics from St. Seraphim Sarovski and 3 more other russian saints
It’s 9th and it’s the 3rd day of the Russian and Serbian Christmas as well as Christmas for all those Orthodox Churches and monasteries, who still observe the old orthodox calendar / (star stil)

I’m just coming back from the Orthodox Church service in Nijmegen .
The Church service was great, the Father there Father Sergius is a priest for almost 30 years and is a really gracious and gentle priest!

After the Church service it is common that the Church community gathers together in the kitchen room (a small room in the church), where we had a dinner, tea and coffee together.
I should say the Church community is really tight, mainly constituted of Russians and Ukrainians but there are also quite of Dutch people who by God’s grace found the true church of Christ and thus converted to Orthodox Christians.
It’s really amazing to see a western people with a profound interest and dedication in Orthodoxy and in Eastern Church life! This is definitely a miracle of God!

After the Church service, one of the choire members lady had organized a Russian like Children festival to celebrate Christmas and the Russian New Year.

There was some children games organized for the children. After some of the games in which children had to do some kid games. Snegurochka and Det Moroz had entered the Church as a great delight for the children.

It’s interesting to say that in Bulgaria we also have Snegurochka that we call Snezhanka and Det Moroz which in Bulgarian is Dqdo Mraz

This kind of children feast and a way to complete the 3 days Christmas festival in which we celebrate the unexplainable mystery of our Saviour Jesus’s Christ incarnation had added up to the great joy of the Church service as well as bring back some old memories of my youth where in the Kinder Garden when I was a kid we used to also await and receive the two dear guests, the old man Dqdo Mraz and his assistans Snehznka 🙂

After the children performed some singing dancing and children exercises as well as had some songs and dances together with Det Moroz and Snezhanka it was time for the end part of the feast which is the recital of children rhymes and christmas songs.
Since there were mostly Russian kids there, most of the children performances was in Russian, however there were few Dutch kids so there was some recitals and singing in Dutch and even in English! 🙂

As Det Moroz was very pleased with the great acting of the youngsters he brought in the two sacks packed up with kid presents and after each children performance, he gave a present to the kid.
The kids were completely shining as a result since they were rewarded for their parcipation in the feast and had some photos with Det Moroz and Snezhanka 🙂

After the whole celebrations were over, we the people who left in the Church went in the church kitchen and had a wonderful table full of delicious foods and drinks, some of which were traditional Christmas Russian meals including my favourite’s Russian Salad / Ruska Salata

I had some very nice chats with some of the church members in the mean time and after the great meal together we cleaned up the Church, asked Father Sergii for a blessing and each one of the church brothers and sisters headed back home.

As a matter of fact since I’ve started talking about the Russian Orthodox Church in Nijmegen, maybe it will be nice to mention that the Church Bulding is actually an Byzantine Chapel taken from Roman Catholics, so the Church didn’t really have a classical Orthodox Church architecture, however this is not a problem at all since everything within the Church icons, iconostasis, alter wall , icons etc. are Russian and serbian Orthodox icons.
The alter was also reconstructed in order to be suitable with the Church requirements for an Orthodox Church alter, it’s interesting fact that the man who sells candles and does a lot of the Russian Church minor maintenance is a Bulgarian just like me 🙂

Currently the Orthodox Russian Church in Nijmegen had church services every two weeks (9th January, 23 January, 6th February etc.)

Although I should say that in the Church building the Serbians had their Orthodox Church service every two weeks also, which means that the Serbs has their Orthodox Church services in the same Church in Nijmegen on (16,30 ,13 of January etc.)

Therefore there is an Orthodox Church service every week in Nijmegen by God’s mercy where services alternate with each other, one week is Russian Orthodox Church and one week is the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Hope this info is helpful to somebody!
Again Merry Russian and Serbian Christmas! Cheers!