Why saint Andrew the Apostle is special for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Eastern Churches?
According to Church tradition saint Andrew the Apostle the First-called was the apostle from which wide areas of the Eastern lands was christianized, by his fervent preach of the Gospel and the good news of the Resurrection of Christ who suffered on the Cross for the salvation of mankind. The Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople and the Ancient Eastern Byzantium Church has received its apostleship in practice, exactly from st. Apostle Andrew. During his apostleship mission saint Andrew has preached the Gospel and gave the faith for a first time in the Ist century according to Church tradition, as he passed by the Black sea borders, today part of which are in Bulgaria, he went through Romania, where he has spent some time living as a hermit in a cave and then up to Kiev and Scythia, where he made a prophecy that the Christian faith will put its Roots and that soon the pagan tribes of Kiev lands will accept the faith and put the Cross high over their lands.
When Bulgaria was later Christianized by saint Boris-Michael, and the Holy Bulgarian church was established on this lands thanks to the missionary works of Saint Kiril and Methodius, Saint Kliment of Ohrid, saint Gorazd, Naum, Sava, Angelarius and whole pleade of saints and teachers, Bulgaria has received, also the gift of priesthood and apostleship (has received its own hierarchy of bishops governing the Bulgarian Orthodox Church), thus by spiritual line the Holy Spirit here in Bulgaria was received from Saint Andrew, later this enlightnements achievement, the Books in Church Slavonic, the services and most importantly the Cyrllic alphabet was transffered from Bulgaria and later Serbia to the endless steppes territories of capital Kiev that was a capital of the Rus at that time and in all Scythia today the territories of Russia. Thus all the Byzantine Eastern Churches and Bulgaria
After the end of the persecution of Christians, in the 4th century AD, Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine the Great began to erect numerous Christian temples.
Among them was the temple of the Holy Apostles in the new capital of the empire – Constantinople. After the death of St. Constantine in 337, his son, Constantius, ascended the throne. The new ruler, fulfilling the will of his father, decided to bring to the capital of the empire the holy relics of the Apostles Andrew, Luke, Timothy and lay them in the church of the Holy Apostles, where the Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor himself was buried.
Originally, the holy relics of Saint Andrew the First-Called rested at the place of his martyrdom, in Patras, in the Peloponnese, Greece. According to Western tradition, a few days before the relics were transferred to Constantinople, Regulus, who was guarding them, removed the lid of the sarcophagus in which the relics of the Apostle rested, separated from them one shoulder, three fingers of the right hand, part of the knee and a tooth.
Holy right hand of saint Andrew the First-Called
With these relics Regulus left Patras and set out to preach the Gospel among the pagans inhabiting Scotland. The inhabitants of the country welcomed the enlightener with great honor and together with their King accepted Holy Baptism. In Scotland, the first Christian church was built in the name of Saint Andrew, in which parts of his holy relics were laid. Which played the role for Scotlands patron saint protector to become Saint Andrew the Apostle.
The deposition of the holy relics of Saint Apostle Andrew the First-Called in Constantinople took place on May 3, 357 in the presence of the Patriarch of Constantinople Macedonius I and Emperor Constantius. In the 9th – 10th centuries, the Byzantine autocrats usually sent as a donation for the built monasteries and temples parts of the holy relics that rested in Constantinople, including the relics of the holy Apostles.
In the second half of the 9th century, following an urgent request and special intercession before the emperor, the honorable head of St. Apostle Andrew the First-Called was delivered to the St. Andrew's Church in the city of Patras, where it rested until the middle of the 15th century.
In 1460, to the walls of The army of the Ottoman Sultan Mohammed II was approaching the town of Patras. The Governor /Archon/ of the city of Patras, Thomas Paleologus (brother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI, who died during the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, father of Princess Sofia, the future wife of the Grand Duke John III of Moscow), losing all hope of preserving independence of the city, took the precious and holy treasure of the city from St. Andrew's Church and arrived in Rome with it to collect funds and forces for the liberation of the Orthodox Christian East from the yoke of the infidels.
The holy head of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle was in Rome until 1964, when, by the decision of Pope Paul VI, this shrine together with parts of the cross of St. Andrew was returned to the Greek Orthodox Church.
Now these relics are located in one of the largest cathedrals in the Balkans, Saint Andrew the First-Called in Patras, Greece, i.e. in this place where the first disciple of Christ preached and ended his martyr's earthly life.
X shaped cross of Saint Andrew according to medieval tradition
The honorable head of the Apostle rests on the throne in a silver coffin, and behind the throne – saint Andrew's cross-relic (according to middle-ages tradition to be X shaped cross) in which are embedded parts of the real cross of Saint Andrew, on which he was crucified.
Mount Athos received the hand of St. Andrew as a gift in the Great Lavra of Athos, founded by Saint Athanasius (the Great) at the request of his friend and companion and patron of the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros Phocas (963-969). Parts of the holy relics of holy Apostle are also kept in other monasteries on Mount Athos.
Foot Relic of Saint Andrew the Apostle
Likewise, part of the forehead bone is kept in the Saint Andrew's hermitage (scythe), in the scythe of saint Prohet Elijah is preserved the foot of the Apostle. This walking stick was given in 1806 by Hieromonk Dionysius/in Kyzikon (Kyzicheska) Diocese/, who left the eparchy with these relics from the monastery of Saint Marina, cause the monastery was looted and sacked by the Turks.
In the Russian monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Holy Mount Athos, the second foot of the First Called Disciple of Christ is preserved.
Part of the relics of Saint Andrew also rest in the nun's monastery dedicated to his name, which is located on the island of Catalonia in the village of Peratata.
Fragments of the honest relics of the Apostle are also found in the monastery ofSaint Nicholas on the island of Euboea.
Material written from sources according to information from the Holy Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, on the occasion of the stay from June 27 to 29, 2003 during which the the foot of St. Andrew the First-Called, was given for veneration from the monastery of saint Panteleimon, Mount Athos.
Transferring a part of the relics of Saint Andrew to the church dedicated to Saint Andrew in Sofia, Bulgaria
In 2001, the Metropolitan of Patras, Greece at that time Nicodemus, presented a piece of holy relics from the knee of Saint Andrew and a cross in which pieces of the cross on which St. Andrew the Apostle was crucified were placed. On November 29, 2001, on the occasion of the feast of St. Andrew the First-Called, the Reliquary was carried in a litany procession from the Bulgarian Church Synodal Palace to the capital church "Свети Андрей Първозвани / (Saint Andrew the First-called)".
A Holy Liturgy was served which was attended by Their Eminences the Metropolitans: Metropolitan Kiril of Varna and Great Preslav, metropolitan Joseph of America and Australia, metr. Gelasius of New York, metr. Grigoriy of Velikoturno, metr. Neophyte of Dorostol and Cherven (currently Patriarch of Bulgaria) , metr. Gavriil (Gabriel) of Lovchan eparchy, His Eminence Bishop Nikolai of Znepol (then) and now metropolitan of Plovdiv, Patriarchal Vicar, Archimandrite Boris, the secretary of Holy Synod, numerous priests, the graduates of the Sofia Theological Seminary "Saint Ivan Rilski" and many laymen.
When the litany reached its destination, the church "Stsaint Andrew the First-Called", the relics were welcomed, received and placed in the church for worship by Patriarch Maxim (Rest In Peace). Immediately after that, Great Vespers with five loaves of bread as the orthodox tradition is, was served by the Most Reverend (then) Bishop of Znepol, Nikolay, together with Archimandrite Boris and the temple clergy. The Most Holy Patriarch Maxim (already in his 90s) and some of the bishops attended the service in prayer. After the service, the relics remained exposed for worship in the House of God, which was also open at night. It should be noted that this was the only Orthodox church in Bulgaria dedicated to saint Ap. Andrei.
Also, the fact that for the first time the relics of St. Apostle Andrew are coming to our country is important. Part of the relics were transferred to the church on the island of Saint Anastasia near Burgas in the diocese of Sliven. The reason for the transferral of relics to st. Anastasia is that according to tradition, the Apostle Andrew himself passed through this island in his apostleship mission.
Every year on November 30 – Saint. Andrew's Day, in the church the holiday is celebrated with a solemn Holy Liturgy, celebrated by His Holiness the Bulgarian Patriarch and Metropolitan of Sofia (today Neofitos), and in his absence, by a bishop, visiting clergy and the church clergy.
From materials from Church newspaper (official newspaper of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church)
The New Martyr saint Onufrij ( Onuphrius )(1786 – 1818) was born in Gabrovo, Veliko Tarnovo Diocese, to pious and noble parents. (His father Decho later became a monk under the name of Daniel in the same Hilendar monastery on Mount Athos, where his son was then active). The child Onuphrius was given the name Matthew in Holy Baptism. When he grew up, he was sent to a one of scarce Bulgarian schools, where he studied well. When he was 17 years old, his parents once punished him for some childish thing unrest, and out of frivolous childishness, he declared in the presence of Turks that he would accept the Muslim faith.
In such cases, the Turks immediately seized the person who gave the promise to convert to islam and performed the rite of Mohammedan circumcision on him.
To prevent this, his parents hid him and perhaps sent him to the "fotress" of Christian Orthodox FaIth and keeper of Bulgarian spirit, the Troyan Monastery "Holy Mother of God". In Troyan Monastery, to this day there is a the mouth to mouth legend that the Venerable Martyr Onuphrius began his monastic feat and received his first monastic haircut here with the name Manasseah (Manasij).
He ascended diligently in spiritual life, but the voice of his conscience began to rebuke him more and more for his public denial of Christianity, even if only in words. Probably because of this he went to Holy Mount Athos, hoping that there, under the guidance of more experienced elders, he would repent enough and calm his conscience. Manasseah spent some time in the Hilendar Monastery (a monastery that at this time has been inhibited with many Bulgarian monks), where he was ordained a deacon.
But, as the holy fathers of the Church say, the more a Christian grows in virtue, the deeper he humbles himself and his small sins seem great., same happened with Hierodeacon Manasseah.
He was always impressed by the words of the Savior Christ:
"Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven; but whosoever denieth me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."(Matt. 10: 32-33).
And from the lives of the saints he was especially deeply moved by the example of the holy martyr Barlaam, who held his hand without trembling over the burning pagan altar until his hand burned completely, but did not drop incense on the altar, to protect the occusation that he has offered incense to the idols. His heart was inflamed with jealousy when the Venerable Euthymius, Ignatius and Acacius (Agathius), performed their martyrdom. Then Manasseah secretly left Hilendar and went to the Forerunner's Hermitage to the local clergyman (elder) Nicephorus with a request to prepare him for such a martyrdom.
For four months he worked hard on enormous spiritual and bodly feats under the guidance of this elder. Every day Manasseh made four thousand bows; his prayer was unceasing; his remorseful mood brought tears to his eyes.
During these four months of preparation he atetwo and a half kilograms of dried grapes, and in the strictest forty-day fast he ate 30 grams of bread every two or three days and drank water in moderation. After Elder Nicephorus thus prepared him for the impending martyrdom, he cut his hair in a great scheme receiving the great-schema name of Onufrij ( Onuphrius ) and sent him to the island of Chios with the same companion, Elder Gregory, whom he sent with the other martyrs анд вхере тхеир feat would take place there.
On Island Chios Saint Onuphrius lived one Sunday in fasting and prayer, while on Friday, the day of Christ's suffering, he appeared in Turkish robes before the local turkish judge, openly blasphemed Muhammad and threw the green turban on his head.
He was exhorted, thrown into prison, tortured, and sentenced to death the same day. On January 4, 1818, his head was cut off on the seashore and along with his blood his body was thrown into the sea, so that Christians could not take for granted his holiness any particle veneration of the Venerable Martyr.
Before his death, some asked him about his name and homeland. The Venerable Martyr replied that his name was Matthew and that he was from Veliko Tarnovo. In this way he wanted to save the Holy Mount Athos and his monastery from troubles by the Turks. Soon after his martyrdom, the Greeks from Mount Athos, soon canonized him and compiled a (living) biography and a service in his honor.
Many of us today in the world who are baptized and members of the Church or do at least accept the Christian principles deeply routed in most of the Civillized developed workd tend to excuse themselves for not being good and doing the righteous things, thinking it is hard to stand for the christian principles and norms in a general antichristian atmosphere pointing it as a reason to not follow the guidance recommendations of the Church.
However we should not excuse ourselvse with the circumstances or the Church clergy who seems to us to not follow properly the spiritual vows. We should not excuse with time we're living in as it is reflected in perfect examples in the spiritual life of the saints and the practice of monks, who always have the golden rule to not excuse themselves for anything in the world for not following Gods perfect will and predestination in the good.
Lets look at the first Christians who lived, did their life was easier or more favourable than today for confessing the faith ? Even materially if we think at the times back then most people were poor, they have attained everything they had with a hard labour and was busy 24/4 / 7 days a week, there was no medicine for almost nothing except few herbal treatments, there was no dentist, no electricity and no transport. The doctors who can help at times of sickness were few, in the beginning of Christianity, it was prohibited to be Christian and being a Christian was a sure sentence for death sooner or later, not to mention that emperors and the powerful of the day were requesting from people obedience in anything they say and slavery was popular and even many much more than today lived all their live in slavery both physical and spiritual (as most people did not have the chance to hear the Graceful words of the Holy Gospel). Priests were scarce, there was practiculally no education and there was no easy way to produce and keep information, paper was not there. Having a book was only possible for few of the richest people who were the top layer of society. The few knowledgable who can read or knew solution to the innumerable problems of man were considered nobles (Elders / wise men) had been often wanted and scarce as well as kept near the "top management" people who governed society society – kings, emperors, governors or amy man. This is rawly how the world looked back then. Even though that people both Christians and non Christians had been more stronger in spirit and had been unshakable in their decisions for confession their life credo.
Those old nobles have been divided generally speaking into two categories the fraudants: Wizards (whose wisdom was received by the demons)
Second truthful ones Servants of God the prophets the righteous, the Jewish priests who confessed truely the One True God, the saints and other gifted people by God.
The most likely location of holy relics of Prophet Daniel Tomb of Daniel at Susa, Iran
Among the truthful ones perhaps most significant for elevating the humanity from the worst to perfect are the prophets, who has the revelation from God directly from God, to be leaders and examples for perfection of the religion, moral and political life for the Old Testamental choosen people the Jews and respectively after Christ's crucifix the Christians who has held their place as the true choosen children of God and through them for the gentile.
Today we celebrate the memory of one of the supreme prophets who has lived in world for all ages – Saint Prophet Daniel his name is delivered from Jewish and means "God (El) is my judge".
Daniel and the Stone Slavonic Icon (Bulgarian ?)
Prophet Daniel is the biblical hero of the Book of Daniel who interprets dreams and receives apocalyptic visions. His book is one of the most notable prophetic book in which in a hidden way it is said what is expecting the world until the end of the times.
The Prophet Daniel appears in the Old Testament in the Book of Daniel as a captive carried away to Babylon by order of Nebuchadnezzar after the fall of the kingdom of Judah during the sixth century before Christ. His ministry as a prophet came late in his life. He is commemorated by the Church on the December 17.
While remaining loyal to his faith in the one God, Daniel attained a high position of the court of Nebuchadnezzar and was known for his skill in the interpretation of dreams (Daniel 1:17 and 2:14) and of mysterious handwritings on the wall. He is included in the Septuagint among the prophets and was referred to by Christ as a prophet in Mark 13:14 and in Matthew 24:15. The precise time and circumstances of Daniel's death are not recorded. By tradition his age at death was near 100 years. A number of places have claimed to be his place of burial, including Susa in present day Iran, Daniel's Tomb in Kirkuk in Iraq, as well as Babylon, Egypt, and Tarsus.
He is a descendant of Jude's knee, he was descending of noble rich family, presumably he might have descendent even from king's line an evidence for that is the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar II, after the conquest of Jerusalem in (year 607 B.C.) give an order to select the best and most educated and intelligent from the captured jews with the goal to learn the Chaldean language and receive education, and prepare for a government service.
These young man has been put into many temptations as the custom of the chaldean civillizations was pagan and contradicted the jewish. Four of the chosen ones were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (who as an attempt to change the mindset and are identity of the ones and distant them from their original jewish mindset, were renamed with the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah even though the babylonization attempts of their identity, have shown severe firmness and continued to follow the Jewish Law of Moses.
As they were part of the kings palace courtiers, they lived surrounded by luxurity, they did not forget God's law diligently they prayed and eat as food only bread and fruits, refusing any food given by the Kings table as this food has been consecrated to the pagan idols the babylonians were worshipping.
The good God seeing the perseverance in goodness of the youngsters and their fortitude in confession of truth and strict follow the Mishrah (the law of the jews) gifted them with amazing abilities to understand visions and dreams.
Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, late 3rd century/early 4th century.
At the beginning the four were not among the famous ones in the babylonian kingsdom, however they became famous as the king has called them to interpret a troubling dream he had – a dream the king immediately forgot. Noone among the wise mand and wizards couldn't neither tell the kings dream nor tell what it meant thus, by God's providence the 4 ones whose fame continuously grow in kingdom were summoned and Daniel could interpret the kings dream and the meaning of it. The king out of amazement decided for future to always council the the 4 God people, as he saw their wisdom exceeded the wisdom of the other liege in the kingdom. Daniel and his 3 friends were tested by the fire, as they have been thrown in fiery furnace fire, as a punishment for their rejection to obey a Golden pagan idol statue as god, breaking the king's decree.
Icon Source: Pinterest
In the burning enormous fire the king was amazed to see not 3 but 4 people (the fourth one was an Angel of God who was protecting them). The fire not only did not damaged them even though it was all throughout their body but did not even burn the clothes or the hairs on them.
Prayer of the Three Holy Youths known in Church as "The Song of Daniel"
The Prayer of the Three Holy Youths is a component of the biblical Book of Daniel. It is a segment of a larger component called The Prayer of Azariah and the Prayer of the Three Holy Youths which. although part of the Septuagint text, is considered by Protestants as part of the Apocrypha rather than a fully canonical part of Scripture, and so appears in most English-language bibles as a seperate section. If included within the larger text of Daniel, it would appear in the third chapter of between verses 23 and 24.
In Orthodox Christian worship, the prayer is the basis of the seventh and eighth biblical canticles sung at Orthros. Although the text of the canticles are generally not read in contemporary practice, the hymns sung as part of the canon reference the theme of the Three HolyYouths. At Vespers of Holy Saturday, the text of the prayer is heard as part of one of the fifteen Old Testament readings prescribed for that day. In Byzantine practice, the closing refrains to each verse "bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever" are chanted elaborately.
The song constitutes a hymn of thanksgiving to God for deliverence from the fiery furnace into which the three young men, Ananias, Azarias and Misael (also known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) had been cast by the Persian king Nebuchadnezzar. They were cast into the furnace for refusing to worship a golden idol that Nebuchadnezzar had created. However, an Angel of the Lord entered the furnace and protected the three young men. In liturgical practice, the event is seen to presage the Resurrection of Christ, thus its inclusion in the canon.
The Abingdon Bible Handbook (ISBN 0687001692) suggests that the Prayer was based on an earlier composition and was added to the existing text of Daniel sometime in the second or first century B.C.
The Song of the Three Holy Youths
Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: thy name is worthy to be praised and glorified for evermore: For thou art righteous in all the things that thou hast done to us: yea, true are all thy works, thy ways are right, and all thy judgments truth. In all the things that thou hast brought upon us, and upon the holy city of our fathers, even Jerusalem, thou hast executed true judgment: for according to truth and judgment didst thou bring all these things upon us because of our sins. For we have sinned and committed iniquity, departing from thee. In all things have we trespassed, and not obeyed thy commandments, nor kept them, neither done as thou hast commanded us, that it might go well with us. Wherefore all that thou hast brought upon us, and every thing that thou hast done to us, thou hast done in true judgment. And thou didst deliver us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful forsakers of God, and to an unjust king, and the most wicked in all the world. And now we cannot open our mouths, we are become a shame and reproach to thy servants; and to them that worship thee. Yet deliver us not up wholly, for thy name's sake, neither disannul thou thy covenant: And cause not thy mercy to depart from us, for thy beloved Abraham's sake, for thy servant Issac's sake, and for thy holy Israel's sake; To whom thou hast spoken and promised, that thou wouldest multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that lieth upon the seashore. For we, O Lord, are become less than any nation, and be kept under this day in all the world because of our sins. Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or leader, or burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place to sacrifice before thee, and to find mercy. Nevertheless in a contrite heart and an humble spirit let us be accepted. Like as in the burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, and like as in ten thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be in thy sight this day, and grant that we may wholly go after thee: for they shall not be confounded that put their trust in thee. And now we follow thee with all our heart, we fear thee, and seek thy face. Put us not to shame: but deal with us after thy lovingkindness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies. Deliver us also according to thy marvellous works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord: and let all them that do thy servants hurt be ashamed; And let them be confounded in all their power and might, and let their strength be broken; And let them know that thou art God, the only God, and glorious over the whole world. And the king's servants, that put them in, ceased not to make the oven hot with rosin, pitch, tow, and small wood; So that the flame streamed forth above the furnace forty and nine cubits. And it passed through, and burned those Chaldeans it found about the furnace. But the angel of the Lord came down into the oven together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the flame of the fire out of the oven; And made the midst of the furnace as it had been a moist whistling wind, so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them. Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed, God in the furnace, saying, Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever. And blessed is thy glorious and holy name: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever. Blessed art thou in the temple of thine holy glory: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever. Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever. Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever. Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and above ail to be praised and glorified for ever. O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever, O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O all ye waters that be above the heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O all ye powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O all ye winds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever, O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye winter and summer, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye dews and storms of snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye nights and days, bless ye the Lord: bless and exalt him above all for ever. O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye ice and cold, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye frost and snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O let the earth bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye mountains and little hills, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O all ye things that grow in the earth, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye mountains, bless ye the Lord: Praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye seas and rivers, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye children of men, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O Israel, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye priests of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye servants of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye spirits and souls of the righteous, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye holy and humble men of heart, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever: far he hath delivered us from hell, and saved us from the hand of death, and delivered us out of the midst of the furnace and burning flame: even out of the midst of the fire hath he delivered us. O give thanks unto the Lord, because he is gracious: for his mercy endureth for ever. O all ye that worship the Lord, bless the God of gods, praise him, and give him thanks: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Daniel and the Lions Den
Daniel was also thrown at another time in a Den hole with Hungry Lions (a typical fun for Romans usually the victim was a very dangerous criminal), however in adverse to the well known natural laws instead of cutting him into pieces eating him the Lions started licking the legs of Saint Prophet Daniel.
The Grace of God in Holy Prophet Daniel restoring the original Lions nature of grass-feeding animals as they were. The abundance of Grace of the Holy spirit of the Lions turned them to treat the prophet as Cats would their beloved master.
Daniel and the Lions (Book of Daniel 6:16-24)fresco of catacomb of Saint Marcellinus and Peter in Rome
Daniel and his friends, even though the paganism has followe their faith and establishment of the fathers, even though the hardship. How sad it is that today many of us are excusing with the time and the situation or encirclement as a reason to not follow the prescription spiritual cures of the Church (The holy mysteries, Confession, Repentance, Fasting and Holy Communion).
No ! We should not excuse ourselves with the situation and time of living. Are the first Christians lived in more benevolent world and did this stopped them from following Christ's teachings strictly and go for a martyrdom to them following the bright examples of the prophets ?
Church Troparion sung on Church service (Tone 2)
Great are the accomplishments of faith, for the Three Holy Youths rejoiced in the fountain of flames as though in the waters of rest; and the prophet Daniel appeared, a shepherd to the lions as though they were sheep. So by their prayers, O Christ God, save our souls!
Kontakion sung on Church service (Tone 6)
You did not worship the graven image, O thrice-blessed ones, but armed with the immaterial Essence of God, you were glorified in a trial by fire. From the midst of unbearable flames you called on God, crying: Hasten, O compassionate One! Speedily come to our aid, for You are merciful and able to do as You will.
Troparion of Saint Daniel and the three Jewish Youths Feast sung in Church (Church Slavonic)
Today 17 of December, we celebrate prophet Daniel and the the three Jewish youths Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were chosen to serve the worldly emperor, but they preferred ofthe One God and be God's choosen people than to choose the temporary world glory.
Let us also follow the example of saint Daniel and the three Youths, and follow the Gods revelations, the divine revelation moral law nevertheless of the environment and the circumstances, because God shows mercy to those who love him and his laws.
Let by the Holy Prophets Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah God have mercy on us all the sinners ! Amen!
Text Translated from Bulgarian from Father's Karamihailev Preach (A Priest in Bankia's Church Saint Cyric and Julita) with inclusions
Historical and other references used:
1. The Holy Bible also briefly mentions three other individuals of this name: The Book of Ezekiel (14:14, 14:20 and 28:3) refers to a legendary Daniel famed for wisdom and righteousness. In verse 14:14, Ezekiel says of the sinful land of Israel that "even if these three, Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness."
2. In chapter 28, Ezekiel taunts the king of Tyre, asking rhetorically, "art thou wiser than Daniel?" The author of the Book of Daniel appears to have taken this legendary figure, renowned for his wisdom, to serve as his central human character. 3. The Book of Ezra (8:2) mentions a priest named Daniel who went from Babylon to Jerusalem with Ezra. 4. The First Book of Chronicles (3:1) mentions a son of David called Daniel.
5. https://orthodoxwiki.org/Prophet_Daniel 6. https://orthodoxwiki.org/Prayer_of_the_Three_Holy_Children 7. Orthodox Church Service Liturgical Books (Chasoslov) 8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel 9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_(biblical_figure)
On 23 October (10 of October in Julian Calendar every year in Zograph Monastery in Holy Mount Athos is celebrated the martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs who were martyed by Latin crusaders in October 10, 1280. The 26 martyrs were burned alive after refusal to accept Union with the Roman Catholic Church as ordered by Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos. The then wanting to secure his throne emperor gave allowance for Crusaders together with his mercenaries Tatars and and Turks to go and “convert” the Orthodox Slavs to accept the union with the pope who wanted a primacy in the Church. Mt. Athos stood in firm opposition to the Union. The Athonite monks sent a letter to Michael pointing out that the primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, celebrating the Eucharist with unleavened bread, the insertion of the “filioque” [“and from the Son”] into the Creed, could not be accepted by Orthodox, and they asked the emperor to change his mind. “We clearly see,” the letter said, “that you are becoming a heretic, but we implore you to forsake all this and abide in the teachings that were handed down to you…. Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations, and additions to the Faith.”
Holy Theotokos – The Virgin Mary icon which spoke with a human voice to a Zographou monk
An icon spoke to an old monk warning that the “enemies of Christ” are coming. The monk went to forewarn the brothers (as he was living 30 minutes afar in a grave-yard), but for his surprise the Holy icon of the Theotokos which spoke to him was found on the monastic entrance. The brother went and told the abbot (Igumen) Thomas who told to the brothers to either flew in the woods if they’re weak in spirit and to the strong he said to stay and cofess the Holy Orthodox faith. Abbot Thomas together with the 23 monks (24 monks including the abbot) toghet with 4 pilgrims decided to stay in the monastery and suffered martyrdom. The Crusaders who were returning from Jerusalem sent by the ungodly emperor tried to convince the 26 confessors to accept Roman Catholic doctrines such as “filioque” (The teaching that the Holy Spirit cames also from the Son) and to celebrate the eucharist with unleavened bread (like the Jewish) and wanted the confessors to accept the papal union accepted also by the emeror Michael. The 26 Martyrs rebuked these heresies and explained that the “filique” is against the decisions of the 7 Church Councils. Also they give the proof that the Holy Spirit doesn’t proceed from the Son by retelling how John The Baptist baptized Christ and how the Holy Spirit descent over the Lord Jesus Christ in form of a dove. This didn’t convince the papists and the truthful words of the Zographus monks rebuked their error the papists were angered and burned the tower with the holy Martyrs alive. One of the monks fall of the burning tower and the latin though he is dead left him behind however he survived more 30 days! – even though he was on a dying bed and later told what happened to the brothers which came from their hiding places to the monastery. The Holy Martyrs prayed from the fire their last prayer to God to save the Holy Mount Athos and every true Christian on earth from heresies. When they ended their prayer they heard a voice from heaven “Rejoice for great is your reward in heaven!”. The Roman Crusaders heard the voice and were scared howeveras their spiritual eyes were darkened by the lack of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, they kept in their heart tightening. The Martyrdom happened according to Greek chronicles on 10 of October 1280.
The names of the Martyrs for Christ were as follows:
Igumen Thomas, and the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michael, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sava, Jacob, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Menas, Joasaph, Joannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen.
The tower building where the holy martyrs were burned was partially kept even though the fire until 1874 however the tower was already too old and it was about to ruin – that’s why it hadto be destroyed. To preserve the memory about the martyrdom of 26 martyrs all brothers of the Zographou monastry decided in one spirit to build on its place a monument.
This happened the same year 1873. The monument had to be sanctified on the day when the memory of the martyrs is celebrated at the eve after sunrise began a night vigil. The night was moonless and on the heaven one could see only few stars. All around was silence. During the vigil exactly in midnight, after beginning the living and martyrdom of the the holy Zographos martyrs”, above the church all 600 hundred people saw a fire column. Column lighted up the whole monastery and the whole region with such a bright light, that even the small objects in the monastery could be seen. This divine column stayed over the Church for 3-4 minutes and moved and stayed above the monument for 3-4 minutes more and after that started ascending above and formed a ring like a crown, crowning the place where the holy martyrs suffered.
This unusual event continued for about 15 minutes. An eyesights of the miracle were all the brotherhood, guests and hermits who came from nearby Sketes for the feast.
That’s how the Almight God has shown by this miracle omen showing in front of everybody how Godly was the martyrdom of this great confessors of the true faith and loyalty to the Holy Orthodox Church.
Holy 26 Martyrs and Cofessors of the true faith pray the Lord Jesus Christ to save our souls!
Below I post the only picture I have of this beloved brother in Christ ipodqkon Georgi You see our brother on the right side of the Metropolitan of Varna and Great Preslav Kiril. Georgi served as an ipodqkon in the Church Holy Trinity here in Dobrich and was well known and loved by the Church community there. He also was a really good loving and decent man completely devoted to our Orthodox faith, standing firm in the faith. He worked for many months in Holy mount Athos as a repair workers cook, where he cooked for about 70 people.
Before he worked in Holy Mount Athos, he used to be a restaurant chef in Sandanski. Since about 6 or 7 months time he become sick, his assumption for the sickness was that it might be of a bad sploit old food which was consumed by accident by him and the rest of the workers. He shared with me that all of the workers felt sick after eating it but all of them except him has vomited the food afterwards.
He gets poisoned and urgently transfered back in a hospital in Bulgaria. Consequently he went under a lot of examinations which failed to proof the exact type of sickness he was suffering from. He was prescribed to eat only fasting food (some bread, apples, oil and a few of other light meals). He was prescribed a lot of medications he tried but none of them really helped him and he on a numerous times has shared with me he is not feeling weel, though I was not really believing his health situation is so severe.
The exact state he was experiencing was infirmity, headaches, skin rushes, he could hardly stay on his foots for more than few hours, as lastly he shared with me. He also got rashes from most of the food he consumed. His life was a real tragedy as I remember I saw him just 3 weeks ago and he was about to go to Sofia for some examinations. Even though his hardships in life, he was not loosing faith and believed all that was happening was according to God’s will and did accepted his sickness with humility. During the about 7 months he spend in sickness he was many times being hospitalized in Hospitals in Dobrich, Varna and Sofia.
In each of the hospitals he spend a couple of weeks on injections and live sustaining medical systems. During this periods, when he was in his home here in Dobrich somewhere in Balik, he often chatted with me over Skype, giving me good spiritual advices. He also often called my landline phone to consult on various stuff concerning his problems with his notebook. As in the last days he could only lay and use the computer. The computer he had was one of the few possessions he had, in his last days he did not have money at all as all of his savings were spend for examinations and drugs…
I remember still one time when I walked with him towards the bus-station and I was in a terrible desperation, being faithless. He instructed me I should pray and told me not to despair and stop smoking as I was nervously smoking… He lived a life similar in many ways to the life of the saints. He had a strong love for monasticism and had the desire to either become a monk or priest. He told me many miraculous things he has seen and heard when he was in holy Mount Athos.
Last time I saw my beloved brother Georgi near the Church saint George (sveti Georgi) and for my grief I behaved partly as an asshole, and I repent I was not behaving better.
In this last time I saw him he shared for his great gratitude for God that he was allowed to visit the holy Lands (Jerusalem) The Holy Sepulchure church in Jerusalem. Even in this last days, obviously living in infirmity he had his strong dedication to the Church and come to the Church services for Resurrection / (Easter) and was mostly being present on holy liturgies in Sundays.
The last time I saw him in the Church he did the Gospel and red some psalms. He was always serious and looked for the spiritual in everything, very rare kind of person to meet today. Georgi blessed me with a couple of small icons (two copies of icons of Saint Georgi [Fanailska and Araviiska] miraculous icons from mount Athos as well as an icon picture of the Altar of Holy Sepulchure Jerusalem church), and I pray in front of them when I pray to God.
These are two of the icons brother Georgi give me as a gift and blessing from Holy Mount athos:
Saint Georgi Zographus Miracle making icon
My beloved brother in Christ Georgi (God Forgive him / Bog da prosti) has also blessed me with a wonderful digital movie about the Bulgarian monastery in Holy Mount Athos Zographus. The movie about Zographus is explaining thoroughfully the history of the holy cloister and showing the originals of the Holy miraculous icons and monks who spoke about today’s spirituality and what is it to be a monk on holy mount athos (one of the most holy places on earth today).
I know also that Georgi was a wonderful a really talanted cook (even a chief) as he was responsible to take an eye for 6 cooks during his work as chief in Sandanski. In the just recently passed away Resurrection day, he has cooked an Easter cakes and banica as well as some other meals using a holy mount athos recipee.
After the Resurrection early Holy liturgy was over we ate together with the brothers and sisters from Georgi’s delicious meals praising God and rejoicing for our Lord has Resurrected from the dead… I will really miss my namesake (adash) as I used to call him often. I just hope one day I would see him again if by God’s grace I’m allowed to enter Heaven. Just about 1 year ago his mother passed away, then some few years before his father has passed away and now not more than a year after his parents he is gone as well. When I look over this tragedy it’s really hard to understand it but using the Holy Scriptures, one can easily understand why it happened that way as,
His early departure from this life is according to the words in the Holy Bible in Isaiah 57:1:
The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.
I hope ipodqkon Georgi will find grace in front of God to pray for me the sinner and the rest of us who’re still living in ours sins on this sinful earth.
As the memory of the righteous lasts forever he will be forever remembered as I believe he was in the number of the rightous …
Please Orthodox Brothers and sisters pray for ipodqkon’s Georgi’s soul that our merciful God forgives him his trespasses and grants him an ever lasting joy with all the saints in the heavenly church, in paradise!
God forgive you our and my beloved brother Georgi! Let your memory last forever. Amen!
Today, a day before the suffering of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for our sins remission we do commemorate the day of the Last Supper or (The Supper of Mysteries) in the Orthdox Church.
According to our Church tradition today is the day on which the saviour has established the Church mystery of the Sacrements! (Eucharist)
Here are the exact passages from (Matthew 26:26-28), where by the word of the Lord the Eucharist was established:
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'” (Mt. 26:26-28)
The feast is celebrated with a morning Holy Liturgy among all Eastern Orthodox Churches around the world. It’s common that many layman do confess and take the sacraments on this date.
Before sacraments are received we the layman confess our unworthiness for Christ and beg for him to make us worthy to receive the communion with the prayer:
I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first (see 1 Tim 1:15).
I believe also that this is truly Thine own most pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own most precious Blood. Therefore I pray Thee: Have mercy upon me and forgive me my transgressions, committed in word and deed, whether consciously or unconsciously.
And make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, for the remission of sins and unto life everlasting.
Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant. For I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but like the thief will I confess Thee: “Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.”
May the communion of Thy Holy Mysteries be neither to my judgment, nor to my condemnation, 0 Lord, but to the healing of soul and body.
This prayer is actually said everytime before we do take the sacraments through the year, so it’s one of the most-important prayers in our Orthodox Church life.
The Holy Communion establishment is also an act of remembrance a of the Lord’s suffering for the remission of our sins according to his commandment.
One major difference between Orthodoxy and Protestanism concerning Eucharist is that we orthodox believe that by taking the sacraments, we do receive the Most-holy flesh and blood of Christ and through his blood and flesh, the damage sin has created in our hearts, minds and souls (which is forgiven by God in the the mystery of the confessment) is being recovered completjely.
I need harmony. I’m overwhelmed with work and thoughts about existence, you know it’s a terrible thing to think about the human existence all the time. The time passes slowly. Today I went throught a lot of stress. It seems that I did a mistake when modifying the server firewall in Friday when we moved pozvanete and connections about the aids were not possible thanksfully Vladi said it will be fixed. Bobb reported that efficiencylaboratory system does not send emails when I take a look I saw the qmail queue was broken ( something I see for a first time ). qmail-qstat reported empty queue while qmail-qread reported empty. I found this about fixing messed queues http://pyropus.ca/software/queue-repair/. After running it over the queue and restarting the mail server few times it seemed to work at the end. I experience terrible problem when trying to run jailkit on one Debian Sarge machine, I’m trying to figure out what is the reason few days ago with no luck a terrible thing even stracing the jk_socket does not provide with anything that could lead to a solution when I’m logging into the machine with the jailed user the auth.log indicates that login is successful and sftp-server is spawned while the sftp client closes the connection. I’ll be looking at this later again I really ran out of ideas aboud a possible solution.I’m very tired I need rest. Too often I despair sometimes I want to cry, there is so much unrightfulness in the world. On Saturday night me and Nomen decided to do a pretty Ñ€eckless thing we catched the train for Botevo and spend the night in a forest around a fire. This time we was equiped at least we had a torch. We baked bread and potatoes on the fire and made a sort of sandwiches with a salt and cucumbers. At least this time we went to the other forest and there were trees all around so it wasn’t necessary to search for them in the darkness. All the forecast said it would rain. But Praise the Lord it didn’t. (We even prayed a little to God not to rain cause we had not the proper equipment ). Thanksfully again God heard our prayers. The only bad side of our great adventure was that after 1:00 o’clock in the morning the temperature started falling and it was extremely cold. I was able to sleep just for 40 minutes or so. In the morning after 6:00 the birds started to awaken and sing, so beautiful voices all around, even flickers :]. In went to the Botevo’s railway station and in 8:40 take the train back to Dobrich. I went home and took a shower then went to bed. I was woken by a telephone call and it was the missionary which call me two days ago wanted to see me and speak about the faith, he call me to remind me of our meeting ( from the way he speaks I undestood he is a Mormon ). So I decided to rewrite the Orthodox Creed of Faith and show him and explain them what I believe. When we met they were very kind to me and after some time they supposed to go to their church to explain us about their faith. I went their and they started talking strange things they wanted to pray together ( I rejected ofcourse ). How can we pray a prayer I have no idea about.After a lot of discussion about the Gospel and the truth Church they got angry and chased me out of their sect/”church” ;]They tried to lie they tried to claim they’re orthodox Christians in the first cause I told them I’m orthodox. One of the Moroms tried to convince me he knows more about orthodox Christianity more than me. Other of the two cited me a some Writting in the Book of Jeremiah trying to convince me I have existed before my birth, I told him this is occult (this was my opinion ofcourse God knows best).END—–
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