Posts Tagged ‘priest’

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

Friday, May 9th, 2014

http://pc-freak.net/images/otec-father-Georgi-Jeglarci-village-spiritual-elder-in-Bulgaria

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).

Jiglarci-Cyrkva-Church-building-where-father-Georgi-from-Jiglarci-serves

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."

fr-Georgi-Jeglarci-elder-of-Dobrich-Bulgaria-3

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.

fr-Georgi-Jeglarci-elder-of-Dobrich-Bulgaria-2

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 …"

 

 

Saint Elijah Monastery a Nun monastery in the heart of Sofia suburb Mladost 2 (Dyrvenica)

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

sveti Eliah monastery Church in mladost 2 suburb monastery near heart of Sofia

Sofia (Bulgaria) is a notable city for those looking for spirituality. There are several monasteries situated inside the city. I'm living in Sofia since only 3 months and still I didn't found the time nor had a car to ride in them. So far I was only in one of the monasteries nun Monastery saint Elijah (svet Iliq) 3 years ago when I was guest of  a dear friend one Sunday evening he bring me there. St. Elijah monastery is situated in Mladost 2 city suburb (at the end of Dyrvenica suburb).
Today I rided to the monastery with my girlfriend Svetlana for the Night evening service. We was there about 17:00 but unfortunately the evening service was just over in this monastery evening service begins in 16:00. The serving priest was still there and we had a small chat with them, just to find out he used to be the old Abbot of Shipchenski Monastery. I was earlier in Shipchenki Monastery and I know personally current Abbot there father Ianuarij and was curious to know the priest just met is the spiritual father of fr. Ianuarij (name meaning January). The monastery is very little and I could see only one of the nuns who was very hospitable with us. Before approaching the monastery there is a tiny pine tree forest.

sveti Iliq monastery view to Altar Dyrvenica Mladost 2

St. Elijah Monastery started its existence during the old period when Bulgaria was under a turkish Slavery in year 1595 on a place where Turkish army slaughtered a number of Bulgarian Orthodox Christians refusing to accept Muslim faith.Slaughtered martyr Christians were thought to be part of the small revolt organized by Bulgarian revolutionaries trying to free Bulgarian land from the yoke of Turkish Empire. Short after on place of monastic Church a cross in remembrance of the martyrs was set. Since martyrdom of Bulgarian Christians the place was believed to be sacred and many people went there to pray to God to help them in the various troubles of their daily lives.

Saint prophet Alijah orthodox icon Mladost 2 / Monastery in Sofia

Later on a small chapel was built on place of martyrdom and other small buildings were build soon to become a fully functional monastery. Current Monastery Church and monk cells buildings were re-build next to the remains of the old monastery in y. 1924. In Sofia's st. Elijah monastery are kept many middle aged 15th century Church slavonic books, unique ancient icons present from Russia to Bulgaria at the end of Turkish-Russian Bulgarian liberation war.
Most valuable monastic sanctuary is a big tapestry – The Mother of God with the infant.
As of time of writting the Abbes is mother Matriona which by amazing Gods providence is also Russian.

How a monastery celebrates a brotherhood monk name day – the feast of (Saint Sergii from Radonezh) in Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Saint Sergii of Radonezh Orthodox icon

Now it is my 4th day being in Pomorie Monastery with Kimba. The monastic life is not so boring as I thought back in the days 🙂
Yesterday I was drived to the Kamenar pub, by one of the workers here in the monastery (with the monastic car an old Ford);
We went to the restaurant in Kamenar village with the blessing of the abbot has blessed that we go and enjoy ourselves for few hours there with a group of tourists staying for (1 or 2) weeks in the monastery.

The pub was quite a news for me as it was a nice looking place with a lounge and swimming pool, this seemed quite unusual for especially since it was located in a village with 200 or 300 hundred of people living 🙂
The village pub had even a billiard table, the coin price there was on the shocking 25 stotinki (0.13) euro cents! 🙂
In the pub came an orthodox priest dressed like a casual person and started singing some traditional old Bulgarian songs (typical for singing in the different regions in BG). The guy was really talented and his memory seem to be very strong, since he was able to sing by heart about 10 songs in a row !

Besides that the priest voice was very beautiful. When I later had a talk with the guy it appeared, he learned professional singing before he became an Orthodox priest some years ago.
What really shocked me when the priest started singing in Italian Luciano Pavaroti, he sang it so well so you can hardly find out if it is not really the real authentic Luciano voice 🙂

This priest and the overall people in the pub had a great fun, as the place and people in were quite spirited; Actually I felt in a while like being in Emil Kosturica's movie 🙂 🙂 🙂

Being over with yesterday I will say few words on my monastic experience today ….
The Church bell rang early in the morning to summit the monks for the early morning prayer followed by a Holy Liturgy served. The Holy Liturgy today served was a co-memoration of the feast of Saint Sergii of Radonezh.

Cause it is weekly day here there were not too many people in the monastic Church. The monastery monks were there,few other people and some Russian pilgrim woman. By the way I'm more and more being convinced that many of the Russian people are very pious oriented and have strong faith in God than us bulgarians. Sadly it appears (from my observations so far) Russians generally are richer in faith.
It is sad that Russian Orthodox Christianity is stronger than ours in Bulgarian, especially when we take the fact historically Russians have received the Orthodox Chrisitian faith and language from us Bulgarians …

One of the key figure (brothers) monks Father Sergii is having a name day here, so due to that and because it is not a fasting day today (Thursday), the traditional monastic dinner was bigger and more rich than usual. Some youghurt mixed with cucumbers (Tarator) as we call it in Bulgaria was served with a little salad a few pieces of Banica and even little meat balls (for people eating meat).
The Abbot of the monastery was not served meat as I heard from the cook lady he is completely abstaying from meat since about 10 years already; some of the monk brother didn't eat meat as well.
The dinner started about 12:20 in the usual dinner room. For another day the food in the monastery was tasting super-delicious.
It is rather interesting that the food here is more delicious than the food we usually eat at home; Probably the food is so delicious because large portion of the food on the table is monastic-grown and besides that a food blessing prayer is said everytime before eat time. Earlier times I've heard many others who visited and eat food in monasteries that the monastic food is tastier and more delicious than we ordinary people have on our tables, however I was sceptical until I experienced it myself, these days.
Cause the food is so tasteful, I consume here usually twice more food than I usually eat at home 🙂

I recommend anyone who didn't eat a meal in a monastery (yet) to try this at least once in a lifetime ;;;

Exaltation of the Holy Cross day in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church / Veneration of the Holy cross church feast

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Exaltation of the Holy Christ Cross icon, day in the Bulgarian Orthodox ChurchThe Universal Exaltation of the precious and life-giving Cross XVII century – icon from village of Belovo Trqvna region

he Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross (Elevation of the Cross)’s day is feted on 14th of September each year in accordance to the new calendar order, according to old church calendar, the Church celebrated it on 27th of September.

The day is marked by a strong fasting, for short we refer in Bulgarian to this big Church feast as (The day of the Cross / Krystov den).
The Holy Orthodox Christian Church does worship the cross 4 times a year on:

  • Third Sunday after the start of the Great Lent
  • Holy Friday (Good Friday)
  • 1st of August
  • and

  • 14th of September – The Exaltation of the Holy life giving Cross

On this day, we the orthodox christians go to the Church and admirationally bow and kiss the Holy Cross on which our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered for our salvation.Through his cross suffering our Lord has granted to all of us the Christians an unbeatable “weapon” against evil and sin.
Through cross Christ has been victorious over sin and death.

According to old Church tradition, on the day Christian people were asking for the priest to go to their homes and do vodosvet (sprinkle their houses with a blessed holy water).Vodosvet is one of the Orthodox Church mystics, there is a specific prayers begging God for forgiveness of sins, asking for good health and blessing. The prayers are being red over a vessel containing clean water. Finally he blesses the vessel with Water with the life Giving cross 3 times (as a symbol of the Holy Trinity). Then the priest uses a the cross and a tiny piece of twig to sprinkle all the people and objects in the house.

On the holy exaltation of the holy cross feast we also celebrate also the following 3 events:

1. The miraculous appearance of the Holy Cross to emper st. Constantine
2. The finding in Jerusalem of the Holy life-giving cross in Golgotha
3. The return of the Life-giving cross from persian captivity
On 14th of September, according to Church tradition saint John of John Chrysostom has give away his spirit and joined the assembly of saints of God, however because of the Exaltation great significance, the church holy fathers decided that this is celebrated on 13th of September.

The Antiphon for the Exaltation of the Cross feast is singed and translated from Slavonic its meaning goes like this:

Troparion voice 1

Save Oh Lord, your people and bless possession, grant us oh Lord a victory over our enemies and save your inheritance with your Cross

Troparion voice 2

You've been lifted willingly on the cross, grant you mercies to your inheritance oh Christ our Lord,
stregthen the spirits of the pious king and to your people,
grant us victory against our enemies,
Surround us with peace and with peace give us unbeatable victory

In the Glorification part of the Holy Liturgy feast service its singed:

We magnify you, oh Christ life giver,
and your Holy cross, because you have saved us from the enemy.

What does the Church tradition says about the finding of the holy cross of Christs sufferings?

After the Church crucifixion of Christ, according to the tradition of that times, the weapon for punishment from this kinds – the cross tree was buried in the ground on the same place, where the punishment was executed.
Following the tradition on Gologthas where Christ was crucified was buried the cross used for crucifixion.
In later times, emperor Adrian in his attempt to destroy christianity and the place of pilgrimage of Golgotha has issued an order to built a pagan shrine on the same place.
Later under the reign of Emperor st. Constantine the cross appeared in the sky in a miraculous way and again under his reign the Golgotha place which means literally translated( the place of the Skulls) was discovered.
Let witht he Holy miracle making power of our Saviour’s cross by the prayers of all the Saints and our Theotokos (Holy Virgin Merry) God grant to all of us christians victory of our enemies! Amen

40 Days since our beloved brother in Christ (ipodeacon Georgi Nedev) has presented himself in God

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Holy Mount Athos st. Georgi the Glory Bringer - Zographus Monastic main Church
Holy Mount Athos st. Georgi the Glory Bringer – Zographus Monastic main Church

I start this post with the St. George Zographus Monastery’s main Church as the Zographus Monastery on Holy Mount Athos was our brother Georgi last eartly place he wanted to spend the remaining of his eartly life.

Today it’s the 40th day since our brother in Christ (ipodeacon) Georgi Nedev has presented his humble soul to our Saviour Jesus.

ipodeacon Georgi Nedev on a Bishop Church service holding the metropolitan sceptre

This is the only picture I have of our brother Georgi

His living was as humble as his departure from this life and his passing I believe in the eternal life with God.
Georgi had the severe desire to become a monk in Holy Mount Athos and has multiple friends in there which loved him and often prayed for him.
Now on this 40 day in our Bulgarian monastery in Holy Mount Athos, Saint George – The GloryBringer (Zographus) monks will be serving a requiem service (Panihida – as we say in Slavonic)

His departure was striking and sudden for of us in the Church community here in Dobrich’s Holy Trinity Church, as well as not less shocking for the Holy Mount Athos Zographus monks Christian community who loved our brother sincerely.

Some short biographic facts about our brother ipodeacon Georgi Nedev are here
Unfortunately the bio-facts I know about Georgi are very little, as I only knew him for a couple of years. Even though the short time I used to know him, I can say I was blessed through him and I’m exteremely grateful to him, it was through him I’ve learned a bit more about Holy Mount Athos and our Bulgarian monk community that is in Zographus, as well as some very minor details concerning the spiritual Church life that I’ve never thought about.
It was thanks to him I was being encouraged on numerous times in terrible times of desparation and loss of faith and track in life.

Thanks to him I was being explained for a first time, how one can go for a pilgrimage journey to Holy Mount Athos and how one can get the pilgrim’s permit documentation related to going there called in greek diamontirium
He also told me about numerous miracles about Holy Mount Athos, and explained me one needs to pray to the Holy Theotokos Virgin Mary and ask her that is being allowed to enter this holy place.

This last lent, even though his sickness Georgi was regularly visiting the evening services in the Church and was dilegent in his spiritual life.

I remember him expressing his enormous joy the last time I saw him on a Holy Liturgy for he took the Holy Communion.
After the Church service, I asked him how is he, his answer was; I’m not feeling well, but praise be to God! for I was able to take the Holy Communion

Many times when I asked him what are his future plans, he used to answer I don’t know anything, it’s all in the God’s will (hands) for me.

You can see yourself how great his dedicated for God was by his own words.

As our priest, who used to be his confessor said, “Georgi was a righteous man and God took him early on”.

Let eternal be your Memory beloved brother Georgi now and Forver and Ever! Amen!

Why does Orthodox Christian priests and monks wears long beards and why Roman Catholics does not

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

A really Long bearded Orthodox Christian Priest

One might question why does Orthodox Christian priests wear beards? and why does the long beards of our Orthodox priests makes differences with the Roman Catholics?

Here are the few reasons:

1. Long beards wearing’s tradition among Orthodox Christian priests and monks comes after Christ

Christ himself had a beard as it was normal and considered proper for a man to wear long beard.

The fact that our Lord Jesus Christ had a long beard himself can clearly be observed on all our Orthodox Christian icons:
The Lord Jesus Christ Sinai monastery ancient icon Pantocrator from the 6th century

The Lord’s Pantecrator Icon (Pantocrator / Pantecrator ) from the 6th century

2. Long beards priest wearing comes as a natural tradition from the Old Testament’s times and the tradition of early Church

If one reads thoroughfully the old testament, he will find out that even from Moses and Aaron and onwards the tradition is the same.
All the Godly man and the priests had their long beards unshaved as a mark for their belongship and dedication to God.
To generalize the long beards wearing is according to ancient old testamential ancient tradition.
The long beards tradition as an ancient Jewish religion (Old testamental) tradition can still be clearly observed in Jewish rabbis (nowdays the jewish priests), who still wears their beards long, like for example you can see in the picture below:

Jewish Rabbi weiss picture
A modern day Jewish Rabbi notice the beard 🙂

The long beards tradition later was adopted by Muslims when Islam emerged as a religion and more specificly by the muslim priests the Hodjas:

Sait Muslim Hodja Picture

One very interesting historical source of information which proofs that the ancient Church’s priests had the tradition not to cut their beards is given by the historian Egezit who writes in his Chronicles that st. Apostle James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem, never cuts his hair.

A source of confirmation that the long hear and beards wearing was an established tradition that dates back to the old testament is found in the old testament in (Ezekiel 8:3)

Here is what exactly we read there:

He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head.
The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem,
to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood.

3. Long hair and beards wearing by the Monks

An interesting fact is why does the Monks and novice neophyte lay brothers also stick to the ancient tradition.
It appears long hair and beards wearing traces back to the holy life of the ascetics of the deserts (e.g. the hermits).

The reason why ascetics did not shaved their hairs or bears as a way to avoid vanity and therefore this old hermitage practice has also had a spiritual reason.

4. The Nazarite old testament tradition

In the old testament in Numbers 6:1-21, we read about the term nazarite which means consecrated / separated

Each boy or man who was to become a Nazarine has been devoted to God for a certain period of time or in some cases for his all life, one of the many conditions for one to be a nazarite is not to shave his beard or hair.
One can read about this in the old testament in Leviticus 21:5

Leviticus 21:5
"They shall not make baldness upon their head,
neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard nor make any cuttings in their flesh."

There are some other prohibitions relating to Nazarite’s one of the most notable ones is found in Numbers 6:4:

All the days of his Naziriteship shall he eat nothing that is made of the grape-vine,
from the pressed grapes even to the grapestone.

One example for people who gaves vow to become temporary Nazarites is found in 1 Maccabees 3:49 (this book is only available in the Orthodox Holy Bible).
One of the most important figure in Christianity that used to be Nazarite is Samson, his life can be read in the old testament in Judges 13 – 16

As we read in Judges , Samson’s great God given power consituted in a prohibition to shave his hair and not to drink wine.

5. Reason why Roman Catholic Priests and monks abandoned the ancient tradition of wearing long hairs and beards

In the early Roman Empire it was a customfor a men to shave. The “enlightened” Romans believed that only the barbarians did not shaved themselves, and as you can imagine Jewish people and early Christians were of course considered to be barbarians, e.g. being unshaved was a sign for a cultural inferiorness in according to Romans comprehension.

The long hairs and beards tradition in the Western Church has started disappearing and consequentially completely lost with the Tyranny of Charlemagne at the end of the eight century.
With his massive ‘barbarian’ inferiority complex, it was his desire in all things to imitate pagan classical Rome.
It was therefore under him that Western clergy were ordered to shave regularly.
For example at the Council of Aachen (816), it was stipulated that priests and monks were to shave every two weeks.

By the beginning of the 11th century the tradition of wearing long beards was already completely torned apart and almost all the Roman Catholic clergy was regularly shaving.

In the sixteenth century beardlessness for Roman Catholic clergy was enforced by further canons,
which appear to have been dropped since the Second Vatican Council.

6. Why does protestants does not wear beards

As we all know protestant Church denominations has emerged as schismatics from Roman Catholic church and therefore mostly the influence they had was from Roman Catholics which already had the tradition within their clergy to regularly shave, thus pastors shaving was completely out of question and never come to an established reality among the Protestant Church pastors.

7. Is the Orthodox Christian layman obliged to wear beards

Absolutely not! The layman within the Orthodox Church can choose for themselves, if they want to wear their hair and beard and through that possess an image physically similar to Christ.
In my view it’s more righteous for us the layman to wear our hairs and beards as I personally believe long hair and beards demonstrates mans dignity and God’s dedication, but this is my own private opinion.
At many cases wearing beards or long hairs is an obstacle for a good integration in nowdays society, so if wearing a beard or hair as laymans does become an obstacle for our normal daily lifes then I believe cutting a long beard or hair is perfectly acceptable.
Moreover even the Orthodox Christian priests are not enforced to wear beards and in some cases where the priest’s wife is against the beardness the Orthodox priest is allowed to shave himself, though as a matter of fact having a completely shaved priests in our Orthodox Churches is rare and less common today.

In conclusion wearing of beard and long hair by Orthodox Christna clergy, has come from the desire to physically resemble Christ.
This physical resemblance is a symbol of the spiritual resemblance of Christ’s humility, which is the ultimate aim of our life.

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

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Friday of the Crucifix of the Lord Christ

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

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

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

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

child crawling under a table with plashtenica

plashtenica with the immaculate body of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lamb of God Christian Symbol
Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Eucharist Cup, Bread and Wine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then the

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

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

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

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

My pleasent time back home in Bulgaria

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

I experienced mostly a great time in Bulgaria. Refreshing days went to Kavarna with Nomen to confess my sins in front of a priest. I purposely has selected Kavarna’s Church and father “Vasilii” because I liked him as a priest. I’ve been on a liturgy once during the summer in the church where he takes care for. After the Liturgy I drived Mitko’s Audi A3 towards Dobrich. I’m a new driver so I need to practice. I drived during this days few more times. We went several times for a coffees and pubs with Nomen and Alex. We also went out with Nicki Mitko’s brother a couple of times and we had a great time together coffee-ing. I also went to a dentist. It seems that I had caries and they had to fix my teeth. The caries was in the last stage that it could be so the dentist had to kill and remove my nerve and he did so, the nerve was killed (with arsenic fluid) and removed and the tooth was filled in. I also went out for a drink 3 times with Lily. I went to liturgy 2 times. I met a nice priest (Father Veliko). In Varna when I came back from the Netherlands I met Order and had a great time with him. A lot of other things that I can hardly remember. The Christmas this year. My whole family was there except my grandma who had to be in the hospital (however the Christmas was just perfect!) Thanks to God! I and my family gathered together and had a nice talk and dinner even we said the Lord’s prayer before we started eating it was so nice … The New Year eve was a nice one as well. Even my grandma was there. If we don’t count few minor downfalls like a small quarrel with my sis all went well. I was home with my family until 1.30 in the morning and afterwards went to Denica’s who is a close friend of Nomen, Pavlin was there as well he is an old friend from the metal days of my past. I drinked a couple of glasses of beer and wine. In the morning I had a little hang-over as as a consequence from the drinking. The 13 days I was in Bulgaria has passed so quickly. I shared with my grandma and mother that I feel bad physically, emotionally and mentally. During my stay I also have been aguest in my aunt a couple of times, so nice time there as well.The food in Bulgaria is so great I was very, very happy to eat the delicios food there. The food here in the Netherlands is completely terrible compared to the one at home! In short that was how my days passed there. And I’m so happy about them! I’m looking forward to go home as fast as possible I realize my place is not abroad. When I firstly came here I thoiught that maybe my place is somewhere in some of the developed countries like here in The Netherlands. Now I think differently. It’s quite interesting that after I went out of Bulgaria I became much more a patriot. When I was living there I always has praised the developed countries way of living and thinking. Now it’s a completely different story I sometimes even like the bad things in Bulgaria. I wonder if other people who went out of Bulgaria to work or study has experienced the same.Anyways thanks to the Lord I had a safe journey from Bulgaria to the Netherlands. And here I’m here in the dorm again. I’m gonna tell in short my experiences from the trip back from Bulgaria to the Netherlands in a different post in a minute.END—–