Posts Tagged ‘feast’

The Dormition of Virgin Mary the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eastern Orthodox Church view and few words on feast origin

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Dormition-of-Mother-of-God-Koimesis_Greek_Mosaic_at_Chora_Church_Constantinople

Dormition of the Mother of God is a feast highly venerated in both Eastern Orthodox Churches as well as Oriental Orthodox Churches (The Coptic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church which venerated the feast not on a fixed date), whether the rest of Orthodox world do celebrate on 15 of August the Dormition of the Mother of God. The so called old calendar Churches do celebrate the feast on 28 of August as the old church calendar coincides with this date on the public national calendar the countries use nowadays, whether some of the Churches such as our Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church as well the Greek orthodox Church do celebarete on 15 of August.

Dormition_de_la_Vierge-stone-icon

 

The feast is one of the major Church feasts also in Western Roman Cathic church world known as the Assumption of Mary. The way the feast is venerated varyies, but it is important to say this feast is "The Summer Easter of the Church". In the ancient times the feast has been preceded in the Church by two fastings one for the Transfiguration of God Lord Jesus Christ that was venerated on 6th of August and one week fast preceding the Dormition or the Sleeping like death called in Church Slavonic Uspenie (falling asleep) that the Mother of God experineced before her righteous Soul passed to the Lord Jesus Christ. The painless death of the Mother of God has occured according to the Byzantine author Hypollitos of Thebes who lived in VIII centuryin 41 A.D., 11 years after Jesus's Crucifix and Glorious Resurrection.

Dormition_of_the_Mother_of_God_Bulgarian-icon-from_year-1893

Bulgarian icon from year 1893

The Dormition term expresses the Church belief that Virgin Mary on her death bed has been in a completely peaceful state of the Soul that and did not suffered the terrible pains of death and division of soul and body that each of us the sinners faces because of her extraordinary righteousness and as a blessing of Christ for the ever Virgin, because of her humility and life lived in service of God, and poor and every of her near sides and for her unceasing prayer for the world that she attained even during her earthly life time. The belief of Dormition is not a Bible found doctrine but a Church tradiiton and due to that protestant do not consider it as of a high value but we orthodox firmly believe this was not mention in the bible, because the Mother of God herself unwillingness for glory because she found unworthy compared to the great miracles life, suffering and salvationory plan Jesus completed. The dormition of Mother of God is found in many of Apocryphal writtings which never become official part of the Church canon.

In the language of the scripture, death is often called a "sleeping" or "falling asleep" (Greek κοίμησις; whence κοιμητήριον > coemetērium > cemetery, "a place of sleeping"). A prominent example of this is the name of this feast; another is the Dormition of Anna, Mary's mother.

The first Christian centuries may be silent, but "The Dormition/Assumption of Mary" appears in a Greek document (attributed to John the Theologian) edited by Tischendorf published in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, dated by Tischendorf as no later than the 4th century. Then there is the apocryphal literature such as the Protoevangelium of James, regarding the end of the Virgin Mary's life, though it is asserted, without surviving documentation, that the feast of the Dormition was being observed in Jerusalem shortly after the Council of Ephesus.

Gracanica_Monastery_Serbia-Dormition-of-The-Mother-of-God-Virgin_Mary

Dormition of the Mother of God, fresco from Gračanica, c. 1321. (See also:Palaiologian Renaissance)

Before the 4th-5th century Dormition was not celebrated among the Christians as a holy day and earlier it was perhaps not celebrated because the Church did not have time to celebrate too much of special feasts, as there was the era of heretics and gnostics from 1st –  2nd centuries which give birth to multiple heresies and the era of persecution that ended just about the 4th century. Only then the Church posessing freedom in the world could review its belief and clearly define the faith as earlier both Bishops (the apostle successors as the layman) was mostly busy with each one keeping their own faith instead of clearly documenting or giving separate feasts, until the 4th century many of the Church feasts of the martyr saints were still not recognized and known in the "Universal" Church around the world, because travelling was not so common as nowadays and each local established church by apostles strives to keep their faith in Christ and not clear up Church dogmas (this gave raise of course to the VII ecumenical councels who followed from 3rd to 8 centuries.).
 

Epiphanius of Salamis who become bishop of Salamis toda's Cypros (circa 310/20 – 403), a Jew by birth, born in Phoenicia, converted to Christianity in adulthood and lived as a monk for over 20 years in Palestine from 335–340 to 362, writes in "Panarion" (his book on Herisology) in "Contra antidicomarianitas" about the death of the Virgin Mary the following:

 

"If any think am mistaken, moreover, let them search through the scriptures any neither find Mary's death, nor whether or not she died, nor whether or not she was buried—even though John surely travelled throughout Asia. And yet, nowhere does he say that he took the holy Virgin with him. Scripture simply kept silence because of the overwhelming wonder, not to throw men's minds into consternation. For I dare not say—though I have my suspicions, I keep silent. Perhaps, just as her death is not to be found, so I may have found some traces of the holy and blessed Virgin. …The holy virgin may have died and been buried—her falling asleep was with honour, her death in purity, her crown in virginity. Or she may have been put to death—as the scripture says, 'And a sword shall pierce through her soul'—her fame is among the martyrs and her holy body, by which light rose on the world, [rests] amid blessings. Or she may have remained alive, for God is not incapable of doing whatever he wills. No one knows her end. But we must not honour the saints to excess; we must honour their Master. It is time for the error of those who have gone astray to cease."


Saint Ambrosius of Milan ( Mediolan ) in 4th century says:

"Neither the letter of Scripture nor Tradition does not teach us that Mary had left this life as a consequence of suffering from bodily ulcers." pointing to her sufferless sleep like death.

Holy_Mother-of-God-Arbanasi-Monastery-three-handed-Troeruchica-Miracle-Making-icon-Bulgaria-Great_Tarnovo

The famous icon Holy Mother of God Three-handed (Troeruchica) Arbanasi Monastery of the Dormition of Mother of God near medieval capital of Bulgaria Veliko Tarnovo

Our Orthodox Church specifically holds,teaching that Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrect on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, bodily only, into heaven when the apostles, miraculously transported from the ends of the earth, found her tomb to be empty. The specific belief of us Orthodox is expressed in their liturgical texts used at the feast of the Dormition.

Mount-Olives-Marys-burial-tomb-entrane-to-tombThe rock-cut Tomb of Virgin Mary and its entrance, its front side covered in icons; eastern apse of the crypt


The holy body that was taken in Heaven after the Virgin's resurrection 3 days after her Dormition has been originally placed after the burial procession in 41 A.D. in the Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary, also known as the Tomb of the Virgin Mary (Hebrew: קבר מרים‎; Greek: Τάφος της Παναγίας) it is located (identified) by historians in the Kidron Valley – at the foot of Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem.

The-stone-bench-on-which-Virgin-Marys-most-pure-body-was-laid-out-Jerusalem-mary-sarcophagusThe stone bench on which the most pure body of the Virgin Mary (Theotokos) has been laid out

 

Let by the Holy Prayers of The Virgin Mary Theotokos, we find grace and God grants mercy upon anyone in torture, in fear in bitterness and sorrows, in weakness and sickness, to all broken-hearted, to all the leppers and mind sick and who lay on the death beds be granted with a painless death similar to hers.

Let the Mother of God keep and protect the Holy Land of Bulgaria and All The Orthodox Lands and the rest of lands, villages, cities and all inhabitants on earth !!! AMEN

 

The names of the Twelve apostles of Christ – Feast of the Twelve Glorious and Primal Apostles in Eastern Orthodox Church (30th of June)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Roman_Domitilla-Katakomben_Fresko__Christus_und_die_12_Apostel__und_Christussymbol__Chi_Rho__1
Jesus and his Twelve Apostles, fresco with the Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome

One day after the June 29 the Feast of The Glorious and First among Apostles Peter and Paul  on 30th of June according to so called new calendar in the Eastern Orthodox Church comes, the remembrace of Feast of the gathering of 12 Glorious apostles (Σύναξη των Αγίων Δώδεκα Αποστόλων).

Simon_ushakov_last_supper_1685

The Secret Supper (Christ and the 12 Apostles iconographer Simon Ushakov y. 1685 (Jude the Iscariot the traitor without a halo)

"The names of the 12 Holy Apostles are: Simon (called Peter), Andrew his brother, Jacob the Zabedee and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Mathew (tax collectors), James, son of Alphaeus and Levi called (Thadeus), Simon The Canonite and Jude the Iscariot who has betrayed Christ"

(Gospel of Mathew 10:2-4)

 

13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

(Luke 6:13-16)

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, (Acts 1:15-26)

Synaxis_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_by_Constantinople_master_early_14th_circa_Pushkin_museum

The Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles. Russian, 14th century, Moscow Museum.

"Jesus had other desciples as well that were seventeen and other circles of desciples around each of the pupils, however they have alwasys been considered less venerable as they did not been so close to Christ and did not understand so well the mysterios of Christ's teaching and did not persevere as mcuh as the twelve and the seventeen of desciples. Those had been been distinguished among the King, those who have been the closest people to the Teacher" (Saint John Chrysostomos)

In Constantinople Saint King Constantine ( y. 274 – 337 ), has built a famous Church dedicated to the 12 Apostles. In historian documents there is data for a first time the feast is celebrated in the V-th century.

While the memory of each apostle has a separate day in the Church calendar yearly circle, they 12 apostles are sharing the same honor, because the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition glorifious their high efforts for building the Church on top of the corner stone that is Jesus Christ himsef and for their perseverance to accept martyrdom for Christ, thus to accent this they're is this special feast the Gathering of the 12 Glorious Apostles on 30th of June. As the Holy Scriptures says they're a friends of God (John 15:14), and when the Son of Man (Jesus) sits on the glory of his power, they all are to sit on 12 thrones, to judge the 12 Hebrew tribes (Mathew 19:28). 

In first centuries the Church has been feasting all the apostles together, Later she has included saint Apostle Paul, again the full list of names of the apostles are as follows:

1. Saint Apostle Peter the First Called (commemorated 29 June and 16 of January)

2. Saint apostle Andrew the First Called – as has been called by Christ together with Peter (30 November)

3.  Saint Jacob the Zebedee (30 April)

4. Saint Apostle John the Zebedee – the evangelist (26 September and 8 May)

5. Saint Apostle Philip (14 November)

6. Saint apostle Bartholomew or Nathanael (11 June and 25 August)

7. Saint apostle Thomas (6 October)

8. Saint apostle Mathew – evangelist (16 November)

9. Saint Apostle Jacob – son of Alpheus 9 October)

10. Saint Apostle Jude – fleshly brother of Christ (son of Joseph), called also Thadeus and Levi (19 June)

11. Saint Apostle Mathew (Mathias) (9 August)

12. Saint Apostle Paul  (Paul of Tarsus) (29 June)

The Church books define the feast day as the "Gathering of the Twelve", because this number of 12 apostles is initial and depics Christ essence of Completeness (as he is All in everything) Mathew (10:1-5)

 

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

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

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-Vyzdvizhenie-na-Svetiq-Kryst-Gospoden-Exalation-of-the-Cross-Church-slavonic

 

Troparion of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross voice 1 / Тропар на светия Кръст, глас 1

Спаси, Господи, люди Твоя и благослови достояние Твое, победы на сопротивныя даруя, и Твое сохраняя Крестом Твоим жительство.

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.

Third Sunday after start of the Great Lent – Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross

Today 03.04.2021 we the orthodox are in the blessed period of the Great Lent. It is no coincidence the Church has set this feast on exactly this date. It is set on 3rd week of the 43 days (7 Weeks) that lasts the fasting period on the Eastern Orthodox Christian church because this is a little bit less than the half of the lent period. We know by the experience of spiritual fathers that once we start the job the hardest periods are nearby in 40% once the work is done and in that times it is a desire of the person to leave and quit the job but if he perseveres suddenly when the set goal is progressing this is overcome but then again in the end of the period of the goal to complete we start desiring to quit the started job and loose all energy put together, as a plan of the evil which wants us to always loose energy (both spiritual and physical) and never gain anything. Thus the Church set the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross to give us a way to attain new energy for the cross to be able to goodly continue in the deed of the lent. By the cross and his glorious power hence the spirit of despondency is crashed down and we're strenghtened and rejoice for the great glory our God has given us.
The_Exaltation-of-the-Holy-Cross-of-Christ-bishop-Polikarp-Bulgarian-Orthodox-Church
 

The exaltation of the cross is also a feast of everyone celebrating his own cross. The victory over death and everything was once fulfilled by Christ on the Cross. The humanity is saved already but it is up to everyone's free will to accept this salvation or not. The path is set it is the path of the Cross of Christ, meaning acceptance (humility) of all the unpleasant life events and situations, accepting everydays unexpected changes believing that this is God's providence and cross for each one of us, accepting the pain and suffering that is part of the personal cross we hold, accepting that one day our beloved and friends will pass away from this life, accepting the fact we age and the aging guarantees sufferings of the body but the spirit is refreshed by the grace of God, accepting all and enduring everyhing for the sake of the cross … 

Sunday-of-the-Veneration-of-the-Holy-Cross-Bulgarian_Orthodox-Church

The cross is a holder of the Universe and there is no power that will ever overwhelm it as it is said in the Church singings The Cross is the Holder (binds together) the whole universe. It is by the Cross all the evil has been conquered and life eternal has been giving. The path of the cross is the suffering, this is hard for the modern man to accept as we have been set to believe the only measure for success is prosperity, personal well being, physical health, posessing things. On the contrary the Christian says the most blessed and best thing one can have is the cross meaning personal suffering for and with Christ. By the suffering of the Cross Christ has glorified the bodily flesh he was possessing while being on earth in the body. By the Cross Christ has become the one begotten of all the sons of God. By the cross saints has conquered all evils and has sanctified, by the cross we still continue to progress in the goodness. 
Let with the 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

 

The beheading of Saint John the Baptist feats in Eastern Orthodox Church – A short history of saint John Forerunners Holy Relics

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

Beheading_of_St_John_the_Baptist_Icon_IX-century

Saint John the Baptist (The Forerunner of Christ) is all known for being the baptizer of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jordan's river in Israel.

However as nowadays most people are away from the Church and from traditions, that many generations of our ancestors used to follow, little know the details of his beheading and the meaning of why he is venerated so much by so many generations in the last 2000 years.

Thus In this small article, I'll try to shed some light on the Saint John Beheading feast known in Church Slavonic world as Oseknovenie (Осекновение) = beheading and is considered a day of sorrow for the Church for the reason the biggest Old Testamental prophet, a hermit and a man of Gigantic spiritual significance Saint John the Baptist has been beheaded unfairly for having no fault at all but this happened so his righteousness raise up even more and be clear for the generations to come.

The feast of Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on 29 of August in Eastern Orthodox Church, where old Calendar Churches celebrate the feast (13 days) later on 11 of September – I'll not get into details about calendars as this is a long discussion for a separate article.

It should be said in the Church saint John the Baptist is considered the highest saint among all“the first among martyrs in grace”, venerated next in glory to Virgin Mary.

The Martyrdom of Saint John happened in the 32 years after the Nativity (The Birth) of Christ as this is said in the Gospel of Mathew 14:1-12 and Gospel of Mark (6:14-29) in New Testament.

Saint-John-The-Baptist-Orthodox-Bulgarian-icon

Many of the small details, we know about saint John and his earthly living are not given in the Gospel however, but are instead given in the Chuch Tradition (that is kept in the main books and the Living of the Saints, as well as all the books written by the officially canonized saints over the years that used for Eastern Orthodox Church services Singing for many centuries).

From there we know the beheading of Saint John happened short time before the Crucifixion of Christ. After the death of Herode the Great, Romans divided the territory of Province of Palestine in 4 parts and on top of each placed his governor.

Herodos Antipa received by Emperor Augustus Galilea as a territory of Governance. He had a law binded marriage, who was a daughter of king Arepha. Herod left her and cohabited (unlawfully) with Herodias who was his mistress and brother's wife.

As Herodos was a governer and recpetively example for all his subordinate in his Kingdom and was living unlawfully with that woman saint John who knew him personally rebuked him multiple times publicly advising him to leave that woman and live with his lawfully marriaged one as it was written in God's law – that such people are worthy for death just like moreover this was the unwritten law followed by all kind of peoples of his time from noble to smallest and poorest.

Herodoes did not listened and wanted to get rid of saint Johns somehow but he was scared to accuse him for some kind of kingdom lawlessness as the knew saint John was a true prophet of God and feared the people who recognized him as a true prophet  as well as feared he might be put off throne for his evil deed if he finds an excuse to kill the prophet of God.

As the critics on Herodoes living with a concubine while being in marriage, eventually not finding any other way to shut Saint John's mouth, king Herodoes put saint John in Prison with the excuse Saint John was a rebel and preaching things against established authority (About this event is said in Bible Gospel of Luke 3, 19-20).

For his birthday Herodoes prepared enormous banquet in which in front of the many invited guests danced (Salome / Salomia) – the daughter of Herod II and Herodias and her dancing was so much pleasing for the already drunk Herod and in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired up to half of his kingdom.
Salome was still young woman and as it was the tradition then not knowing what would be the best to ask for, she asked her Mother and the Mother being in unlawful relations with Herod in her hatred for the rebuking prophet saint John asked, the head of Saint John the Baptist on a platter.

The-Beheading-of-Saint-John-The-Baptist-Salomnia-dance-in-front-of-Herodos-Sv.-Ioan-Krastitel

The dance of Salome with Saint John's head on a Platter Orthodox icon

Even though Herod was appaled by this strange request, he had to reluctanly agree to keep his word as he was a ruler of a great power and for that time, not keeping a word publicly given would make him though weak, a fraudulant and eventually this will be reason for a rumors for his unseriousness to circulate the kingdom, thus unwillingly he agreed sent soldier to the prison to behead Saint John and the Head of the saint was brought to the perverted Solome and the harlot mother of hers Herodias.

Due to Church tradition when the Head of the 'Biggest in Spiritual Power' of Man born after Christ, as the Gospel speaks was brought to the lecherous feast, the Head even in the platter continued to rebuke, the unwalfullness of Herod.
 

The Jewish famous Historian Flavius Josiphus in his historical book Antiques of the Jews wrote, the reason for beheading of Saint John was:

"lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his [John’s] power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise), [so Herod] thought it best [to put] him to death."

Flavius also states that many of the Jews believed that the military disaster that fell upon Herod as his throne fall a by the hands of Aretas his (father-in-law) was God's immediate punishment for unrighteous behaviour.
There is no exact date when behading of Saint John occured but the historians place it somewhere in year 28 or 29 A. D. (Anno Dommini).

Execution_of_John_the_Baptist_orthodox-icon


The body of saint John was buried immediately (separately from the body) as Herodias for her hatred for the prophet ordered the body to be buried separately from the head, it was buried in the small Palestinian Village (Sebaste), while Herodias took his holy head and buried it in a dung heep. 
Later Joanna (canonized later by saint known as Saint Joanna) – a wife of Herods steward, secretly went to place took the head and buried in the Mount of Olives, where it remained hidden for many centuries.

But the wrath of God is never late soon after Salome was passing a frozen river and while walking on it the ice collapsed and her body up to the head fall hanging in the water, while her head was sitting still over the water.
Just as she used to kick her feet on the ground, she was now, like dancing, making helpless movements in icy water.
 

So Salome hung until the sharp ice cut through her neck. Her head, cut off with a sharp ice, then her head was brought to Herod and Herodias, as John the Baptist's head had once been brought to them, and her body had never been found. The king of Arif of Arabia, in revenge for the dishonor of his daughter – the wife of Herod the four-owner – moved his troops against the wicked king and defeated him. The Roman emperor Guy Julius Caesar Caligula (37-41) in anger sent Herod, together with Herodias, into captivity to Gaul, and then to  . There they were consumed by the sprawling earth.


By a divine revelation the head of Saint John has been found in the 4th century (Celebrated in the Church with a special feast known as The First Finding of Saint John's the Baptist head by a governing official of Eastern Roman empire district who eventually choose to become a monk (monk Inokentij / Innocent). The head of saint John has been found by both divine revelation and the testimony of an Old Jew who confirmed the Jewish oral tradition for the burial of John the Baptist head on that exact place .
Innocent decided to build a Church and a monastic Cell in glory of Saint John the Baptist as the place was holy and sanctified by the graceous head of St. John.
Fearful that holy relics of such a high importance, might be soon stolen and sold, mocked over by unbelievers or destroyed, he immediately hide (burid) the St. John on the very same place, where he found it in the same vessel it was orginally.
Unfortunately on monk Innocent dead the Church fell into ruin was abandoned due to its desert location and eventually as it always happened in that times with old buildings, people used its construction stones for fortifying their own near village houses.

The Second Finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist, happened some years later in 452 A.D. , during the days of Constantine the Great by two Christian monks who went for a Jerusalem for pilgrimage.who had God given revelation (Saint John himself appeared in a kind of a Vision to the two) and hsa indicated for the same hidden location where Innocent found it (laying under the Church ruins altar).
After digging on the place, the holy relic was found placed in a sack and brought with them to heir home land. On the way back they've met a potter not telling him what was inside the bag and asked him the bag to carry being lazy to do. Saint John the Baptist appeared the potter and told him to take his head and bring it away from this careless lazy monks immediately. The potter took Saint John's head home, and kept it there praying fervently to saint John the Baptist daily, soon before his death he put the head in a container and gave it to his sister.
The 1st and 2nd finding of saint Johns head is established as a feast celebrated yearly in Eastern Orthodox Church on 24 of February.

beheading-of-saint-John-icon

The feast of Beheading of Saint John in the Church is always observed in the Eastern Orthodox Churches Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Romanian, Georgian etc. with a strict fasting as a sign for the great sorrow we Christians have for the beheading of the Greatest of Prophets and Highest in sight of God born of man.

In some cultures, the pious will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat round or red food (such as tomatoes, watermelon, red peppers etc.) on this day.

A short time after a Hieromonk Eustathius (considered by Church historians) to be part of the Arian heretical division happen to have th chance to possess the holy head and he used it frequently to attract followers to the Heretical teachings of Arius (a Lybian heretic presbyter who was condemned in 325 A.D. on the First Council of Nicea convened by Saint Emperor Constantine The Great. Being in a hardships Eustathius buried the head in a cave near Emesa (circa 810 – 820) and soon after a monastery was built on that place by God's providence.

In the year 452, St. John the Baptist appeared to Archimandrite Marcellus of this monastery and indicated where his head was hidden in a water jar buried in the earth. The relic was brought into the city of Emesa and was later transferred to Constantinople.

Saint_John_Head_Holy-relics-Caput-Sti-Joannis-Baptistae-Praecurssoris-Domini-1

The current pressumable relics of head of Saint John the Baptist kept in San Silvestro in Capite Rome

The head of John Baptist disappeared once again after it was transferred from Comana of Cappadocia during a period of Muslim raids (about 820) and was again hidden in the ground during a period of iconoclastic persecusion.
After the veneration of icons was restored in year 850, A vision was revelead by God to patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople (ruling on patriarchial throne in 847 – 857) saw a vision revealing the place where the head of saint John was hidden around y. 850. The patriarch as the order was then communicated about his vision to emperor Michael III, who sent a delegation to Comana, where the head was found. Soon after the head was transferred to city of Nyc and here on 25 of May it was placed in a church in emperor court in Constantinople. The Church feast of the Third Finding of Saint John Baptist head is established for celebration in the Eastern Orthodox Church on 25 of May.

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Currently many small particles of Saint John Head are available for generation among many Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

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The head  is claimed to be in San Silvestro (Saint Silvester) in Capite in Rome or in Amiens Cathedral, said to have been brought from Constantinople by Wallon de Sarton as he was returning from the Fourth Crusade.
There are also some sources claiming that the real head of John the Baptist is buried in Turkish Antioch or Southern France.

Amiens_-_Cathedrale_Notre-Dame_France

Amiens Cathedrale Notre Dame France – one of most magnificent Gothic edifice in Europe.

During the French Revolution the kept Head in Amiens has been secretly hidden by the Amiens city Mayor in his own home to protect this sacred relic from the destruction (as many holy relics saints disappeared or have been destroyed) by the rebellious enraged crowds fighting for the rights of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" being the goals of the Masonic bortherhoods and many secret societies in France in that time.

Also a reliquary at the Residenz in Munich, Germany, is labeled as containing the skull of John the Baptist by Catholics. In history some sources claim the St. John used to be owned by Knight Templars
А piece of Saint John Baptist skull is held at the Eastern Orthodox Romanian skete Prodromos on Mount Athos.

Further on according to Church tradition saint Luke the Evangelist went to the city of Sebaste bringing with him the right hand of Saint John the Forerunner which was conducting numerous of miracles.

Some of the Relics of John the Baptist are said to be in the possession of the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Scetes, Egypt.
It is said John the Baptist's arm and a piece of his skull can be found at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

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It is said John the Baptist's arm and a piece of his skull can be found at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
At the time of Mehmed the Conqueror, the skull was held in Topkapı, while after his death, his stepmother Mara Branković, a Serbian princess, brought it to Serbia. It was then kept a while at the Dionisios monastery at Mount Athos, then the skull fragment was sent to a nearby island in order to prevent the outbreak of a plague; however, the Ottoman fleet seized it and delivered it to Hasan Pasha of Algeria, who held it in his home until his death. It was then returned to Topkapı. The skull is kept on a golden plate decorated with gold bands with gems and Old Serbian inscriptions. The plate itself is stored in a 16th-century rock crystal box.

The-Face-of-saint-John-the-Baptist-in-Cathedral-of-Our_Lady-in-Amiens-Holy-Relics

The face of St. John the Baptist, in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Amiens.

St. John's arm was brought from Antioch to Constantinople at the time of Constantine VII. It was kept in the Emperor's chapel in the 12th century, then in the Church of the Virgin of the Pharos, then in the Church of Peribleptos in the first half of the 15th century. Spanish envoy Clavijo reported that he saw two different arms in two different monasteries while on a visit to Constantinople in 1404. With the Fall of Constantinople, the Ottomans seized possession of it. In 1484, Bayezid II sent it the knights of Rhodes, while they held his brother Cem captive in return. In 1585, Murad III had the arms brought from Lefkosia castle to Constantinople (henceforth known as Istanbul). The arm is kept in a gold-embellished silver reliquary. There are several inscriptions on the arm: "The beloved of God" on the forefinger, "This is the hand of the Baptist" on the wrist, and "belongs to (monk) Dolin Monahu" on the band above the elbow.

In July 2010, a small reliquary was discovered under the ruins of a 5th-century monastery on St. Ivan Island, Bulgaria. Local archaeologists opened the reliquary in August and found bone fragments of a skull, a hand and a tooth, which they believe belong to st. John the Baptist, based on their interpretation of a Greek inscription on the reliquary.The remains have been carbon-dated to the 1st century. Currently The found relics are being placed for veneration in the sea resort town  of Sozopol, Bulgaria in the Church of saint saint Cyril and Methodius.

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Saint John the Baptist Holy Relics in Sozopol Bulgaria

 

Sozopol-Lithia-Lity-with-the-holy-relics-of-saint-John-the-Baptist
 A Lity (Orthodox Vespers) in front of Saint Cyril and Methodius Church in Sozopol resort Bulgaria

There is much to be said in Saint Johns beheading and many great Theology books have been written on the topic however I hope the goal of this article to give a very brief overview for the ordinary people to know our human history over the last 2000 which is highly entangled with Christian faith  succeeded to give a very brief overview on the history of the beheading of saint John the Baptist and the deep history across his holy relics veneration over the centuries.

As a closure for the Article I find worthly to share the sung troparion in the Church services glorifying of saint John the Forerunner in Old Bulgarian / Church Slavonic, Greek and English

TROPARION IN CHURCH SLAVONIC

Па́мять пра́веднаго с похвала́ми, тебе́ же довле́ет свиде́тельство Госпо́дне, Предте́че: показа́л бо ся еси́ вои́стинну и проро́ков честне́йший, я́ко и в струя́х крести́ти сподо́бился еси́ Пропове́даннаго. Те́мже за и́стину пострада́в, ра́дуяся, благовести́л еси́ и су́щим во а́де Бо́га, я́вльшагося пло́тию, взе́млющаго грех ми́ра и подаю́щаго нам ве́лию ми́лость.

TROPARION IN GREEK

Μνήμη Δικαίου μέτ' ἐγκωμίων, σοὶ δὲ ἀρκέσει ἡ μαρτυρία τοῦ Κυρίου Πρόδρομε· ἀνεδείχθης γὰρ ὄντως καὶ Προφητῶν σεβασμιώτερος, ὅτι καὶ ἐν ῥείθροις βαπτίσαι κατηξιώθης τὸν κηρυττόμενον. Ὅθεν τῆς ἀληθείας ὑπεραθλήσας, χαίρων εὐηγγελίσω καὶ τοῖς ἐν ᾍδῃ, Θεὸν φανερωθέντα ἐν σαρκί, τὸν αἴροντα τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ παρέχοντα ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.

TROPARION (TONE 4)
O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, in spite of our eagerness to render you due honor, we fall short when singing your praise. Your glorious birth saved your mother from the shame of barrenness, returned to your father the power of speech, and proclaimed to the world the Incarnation of the Son of God.

KONTAKION (TONE 3)
The woman who had been barren becomes fertile and gives birth today to the Forerunner of Christ. He is the greatest and last of the prophets, for standing in the waters of the Jordon River, he placed his hands on Christ whom all the prophets had announced, and in so doing he became a prophet himself, a preacher and a forerunner of the Word of God.

Saint King Boris feast and a Holy Liturgy in the Great Basilica of Pliska – 2nd of May 2018

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Pliska-Great-Basilica-air-view-biggest-medieval-church-Europe

Pliska is the first capital of Bulgaira and an ancient city that traces its roots back to the Baptizmal of Bulgaria by Saint King Boris (The Baptizer of Bulgarian lands and Slavonic People) the feast is of a great importance for Bulgaria to be pressent on the map of Europe over the last XV centuries since Bulgaria's establishment in 681 A.D. 

 

Pliska which is an enormous architectural complex dated from IX / X century hsa played a pivotal role for the Baptizmal process of Bulgarian nation as it was King Boris's palace at that time and the Christianization of Bulgarians and Slavonic (natioons) people started exactly in the newly built so called Great Basilica of Pliska  which was an archibishop seat and a central Monastery and Palace Church of Bulgaria, the building was completed approximately in 875 A.D. and was the biggest Cathedral church in Europe for about 1000 years onwards with the gigantic area of 2,920 square meters (31, 400 ft).

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska-walls-reconstruction

20 century reconsturction of the Church walls based on descriptions from history annals 

The Basillica was build on top of ruins of older Bulgar pagan temple and has martyrium (a place dedicated to a martyr who has been martyred there) as many of the ancient Churches had. It is believed that the martyrium may be Saint (Boyan) Enravota – the first Bulgarian saint (circa 833). The basillica has a form of a Cross shaped mausuleum.

 

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska-left-part-of-the-alter

Reconstruction of walls left part of the Altar


The archibishop residence was north and south of the basillica on the northern yard there was a residential building with a bath which included hypocaust (an ancient water warming system). Building south of the cathedral was used as school and scriptorium. Nearby the basillica are situated necropolis (most likely monk graves).

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska_Sarcophagus-near-altar

Pliska Sarcophagus near the Great Basillica Church altar

As with every basilica of that time there is a special allocated place of the Church for nobles. Yard northside was used as a kitchen and a dining room and accomodated other monsatic buildings.


The Old Basilica reconstruciton original model should have looked something similar to below picture which is found in the Museum (which holds a little part of the artefacts found) situated about 1.5 kilometer from the Basilica.

Old_Basilica_in_Pliska_Reconstruction-model

A presumable reconstruction model of the Old Basilica

On 2nd of May KIng Boris Feast in 2015 for a first time since many centuries in memoriam of 1150 years since Christianization of Bulgaria in the Great Basilica was served an Eastern Orthodox Christian (an open air) Holy Liturgy headed by the Bulgarian Patriarch Neofit with many Metropolitans guests from other Eastern Orthodox national Churches where the ex-president Rosen Plevneliev and the Living ancestor King Simeon the III-rd was present.

1150-years-baptismal-of-bulgaria-feast-patriarch-Neofit-Pliska-Great-Basilica

Patriarch Neofit Patriarch and head of Bulgarian Orthodox Church blessing in Great Basilica y. – 2018

The event in 2015 was continued with the idea to become an yearly event on the feast of Saint King Boris each 2nd of May yesterday in 2018 by the Metropolitan of Varna and Veliko Preslav his eminence Metropoltian Ioan (John).

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Orthodox Christian Believers in the Great Basilica Preslav 2018 (People gathered being transported by free of charge buses organized by the Eparchy from Dobrich, Varna, Shumen, Targovishte 

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Fr. Peter reading The Apostle readings

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Metropolitan Ioan (John) of Varna and Veliki Preslav Blessing in Holy Liturgy 2018

Holy-Sacraments-in_Great-Basilica-2018-metropolitan-Ioan-and-his-deacon

The Holy Altar with the Holy Sacraments in Pliska Basilica in 2018 (Metropolitan Ioan and his deacon)

The Church service was a big gathering for the region (if we take the fact that the current town Pliska has about 900 citizens and is in practice a village), the overall present people were perhaps about 200 to 250. More than 1/3 of the priests (38 priests) from the whole Eparchy served the service together with the Bishop. The weather before the service was rainy but just after the service and onwards, it came sunny again just like it was saint King Boris with all the Christian saints rejoiced to see so many Christians gather together just like the times when Christianity started to spread from this same place over the lands of Bulgaria country and later during the golden age throughout the territories of Bulgarian Empire and all the Slavonic borderlines such as nowadays Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia. 

The whole set of pictures from saint King Boris feast in Pliska can be seen on the official  website of Varna and Veliko Preslav eparchy here

Introduction of Holy Virgin Mary in Solomon’s temple feast in Orthodox Church – 21 November

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Presentation-of-Theotokos-st-Joachim-and-Anna-bringing-the-Virgin-Mary-to_Jerusalem_Temple_feast-of-introducition-of-Mother-of-God-into-temple
Presentation (Introduction) of the Holy Mother of God (Virgin Mary)
to the Solomon's temple (at that time of event the second temple) is celebrated on 21th November each year in the Orthodox Church (some Orthodox Churches like Russian / Serbian Orthodox celebrate the feast 13 days later because still celebrating the feast according to the Julian Calendar). Feast is celebrated also on November 21 in Roman Catholic Church but not celebrated in Protestant Church, because the feast is part of Church's tradition and its source of veneration is not the Holy Bible but the apocryphal book the Infancy Narrative of James (Gospel of James) also known as Protevangelion dated from (~ 147 A.D. – 170 AD

The feast is one of the Great feasts in the Church part of 12 Central Church Feasts;

September 8, the Nativity of the Theotokos
September 14, the Exaltation of the Cross
November 21, the Presentation of the Theotokos
December 25, the Nativity of Christ/Christmas
January 6, the Baptism of Christ – Theophany, also called Epiphany
February 2, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
March 25, the Annunciation
The Sunday before Pascha (Easter) – the Entry into Jerusalem or Flowery/Willow/Palm Sunday
Forty Days after Pascha (Easter) – the Ascension of Christ
Fifty Days after Pascha (Easter) – Pentecost
August 6, the Transfiguration
August 15, the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos

The feast commemorates the entrance of the Holy Theotokos for a first time into Jerusalem's temple which (for Jewish was the only temple where believed God lived in his full Glory). The Jewish even though gathering in Synagogues to read the Old Testament (Talmud) and pray, does not understand Synagogues in the sense we Christians understand Churches. According to Old Testament given revelation to the Jews, there was one temple holding the (The Ark of the Covenant) nowadays said to be kept in Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the city of Axun. In this temple people went for a special pilgrimage, thanksgiving to God and prayer. The Temple of Jerusalem was a religious site for pilgrimage which is similar to Mecca is for Muslim and  as Jerusalem's Tomb of Jesus (The Church of Sepulchre) is for us Christians. The temple was separted in 3 major parts:
Porch, Holy Place and Holy of Holies. In the Holy Place only priests and priest helpers could enter to service to God and in the Holy of Holies only the High Priest could enter once a year to sacrificy animal according to Jewish Custom. For us Orthodox Christian the High Priest nowdays is the Bishops, Arch-bishops, Metropolitans and Patriarchs). 

Virgin_Mary-outrunning-the-young-maidens-who-intruduced-her-to-Jerusalem-temple-choosing-Gods-chooseness-of-the_Theotokos

All believing members of the Jewish community B.C. had to be presented "officially" in front of God in the Holy Temple. When the Holy Virgin was born from the already aged (around 90 years old) St. Joachim and St. Anna. The parents out of thankfulnes to God for giving them a child dedicated their child Mary to God and when Virgin Mary turned 3 years old, st. Joachim and st. Anna decided the time to fulfill their promise and offer the Holy Theotokos to the Lord has come and after gathering other young neighbor girls (which were to introduce Mary) holding lighted torches walked in front of the young Mary.

Remarkably the Holy Theotokos walked straight without even looking back to their parents weeping (as most children does) or felt regret for being separated with parents. It was remarkable miracle showing she was choosen by God to become the Mother of the Saviour when her parents left her on the first high step (out of 15 big steps) leading to the temple, she could climb freely like a grown person without falling or showing any weakness a usual kid would do. As the young girls were singing from the Holy of Holies the High priest being told in advance by the Holy Spirit came out to receive the young kid which later become the Mother of our Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Entrance_Introduction_Presentation_of-the-Virgin-Mary-to-Jerusalem-Temple
The young Mary run in joy to the hands of the High Priest Zacharias who were waiting her at the gate of the temple with other elders outrunning the other maidens.

Zacharias blessed her saying, "It is in you that He has glorified your name in every generation. It is in you that He will reveal the Redemption that He has prepared for His people in the last days."
Then, Zacharias brought the child (being moved by the Holy spirit) into the Holy of Holies place where only the High Priest was permitted to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. He placed her on the steps of the altar, and the grace of the Lord descended upon her. The Holy Theotokos arose being overfilled by the unspoken joy that only the Spirit of Truth.

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple signifies her total dedication to God and her readiness for her future vocation as the Mother of the Incarnate Lord.  

HYMNS OF THE PRESENTATION OF THEOTKOS TO JERUSALEM TEMPLE

Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)
Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.

 

Origin of Halloween (All Hallows Eve) or the Day of All Saints is actually Christian

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

 

 

The-Christian_Original-of-Halloween-Cross_on-a-pumpkin

 

 

Many people would "celebrate" Halloween today, however many don't know or understand the true feast origin. It would probably news to many that halloween that is today so much associated with satanism, evil spirits and horror has christian origin! Here is what wikipedia States about Halloween quote:
 

The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening". It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). In Scots, the word "eve" is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) Eve(n) evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase "All Hallows'" is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, all saints mass-day), "All Hallows' Eve" is itself not seen until 1556.

 

All-Saints-day-Latin-Roman-Catholic-icon

Before Christianization of Western societies – e.g. Irish, Old English, Scots and the other Gaelic nations, in Ancient celtic traditions Samhain (celebrated at end of October) give the beginning of the Celtic New Year. Celts believed that the spirits of the dead over the previous year come to roam the world looking for living people to possess. As a mean of protect Celts put on their face animal skin and other objects in order to be as scare as possible to drive out spirits from themselves. The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids (priests / educated people) whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons. At the end of the year in northern Europe, people made preparations to ensure winter survival by harvesting the crops and culling the herds, slaughtering animals that wouldn't make it. Life slowed down as winter brought darkness (shortened days and longer nights), fallow ground, and death. The imagery of death, symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black, remains prominent in today's Halloween celebrations.

seasonal_activities_medieval_seasons_calendar

The "Samhain" season used to be a favourite times before Christianization and (even by some witches, later haunted by Inquisition) for occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought "divine" spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world's "blessings" on a couple's romance.

Interetingly in Eastern Europe countries, there is similar traditions in multiple countries – e.g. Romania, Moldova Serbia, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia even in my own Bulgarian culture we still have regions celebrating similar pagan feast, on whose feast KukeriKukers are called the dressed people in the form and masked as scary beasts with horns dance on the streets in hope to drive away with their awful looking outlook any "evil spirits". Kukeri traditionally appear still in Eastern Bulgaria, the feast has been known to have origin from Thracians.

kukeri in Bulgaria Shiroka Lyka

It is intriguing that since, even very ancient times people believed in immortality of the human spirit and this is not coincidence, because from ancient times people know "instinctively" the soul is importal and life continues on after physical dead of the body.

The modern version of Halloween celebrated mainly by kids wandering the homes of neighbors with the question "Trick or Treat?" started being marked in that way in England, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy at least as early as 15th century.
Traditionally groups of poor children would go to homes collecting the so called soul-cakes (special burned small breads) made as an aim of remembrance of the Christian relatives who passed away – it was a very widespread custom to give food to strangers as a mean of charity  just like it is still in Orthodox Christian countries, we give away food to strangers as an aim to remembrance of our departed (and forgiveness of sins) to our relatives.

Halloween-christian-tradition-soul-cake-with-Cross-on-it

In the Middle Ages, churches displayed the holy relics of martyred saints for veneration and those parishes that were too poor to have relics let parishioners dress up as the saints instead a practice that some Christians continue in Halloween celebrations today.

Cross_and_Halloween_origin-of-feast

Unfortunately the Christian root of Halloween tradition gradually mixed with some of the old still not completely forgotten beliefs of paganism in pre-christian times and with the gradual raise of materialism, the protestant reformation, the enlightenment, the french revolution, the world wars etc. this mostly Christian traditions loose their Christian ground and left mostly its pagan element.
After Christianization of Europe from the 9th century onwards the Church, pagan traditions continued to be practiced by many, probably because the Church "mass" language and preaching was in Latin, people doesn't have bibles and many even baptized doesn't really had a good knowledge / understanding on Christian faith.
It is not a coincidence the Church's decision to place the All Hallows Eve (The Day of All Saints) on "Halloween" feast on 1  November.

Pope_Gregory_III-icon-Catholic-Pope-who-fighted-iconoclasm-heresy

The feast of All Saints on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731–741) – (who was a defender of true Orthodox Christian faith  and openly against the heresy of Iconoclasm) who set this date to be  "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world", the feast was moved to 1 November from the prior feast from 13 May suppressed.

With the emigration of many Europeans to America the secular Halloween feast has been transferred to America and set itself as one of the United States citizens tradition in which reminded emigrants for their homeland europe making the feast popularity to boast. The bloom of TV advertisement and the decrease of faith in people, increase of occult mindset in society made the feast primordial understanding to invert associating Halloween with evil which is fun in the mass. This is quite strange as evin the ancient pagans, had not associated with evil but used the feast as a mean to protect from evil. That's another sign in what kind of tragic state currently society is … sadly the feast Americanization made it to the number of "International feasts". And now there is almost no country where Halloween is not celebrated in a secular way.

It is not a hidden fact that Halloween feast for its connection with magical powers, paganism and occult is often believed and said to be 'A feast day for Witches and magicians', its considered important feast in Anton Sandor Lavey's Church of Satan.

A lot of parents nowdays does encourage their children to celebrate the feast not understanding the real Christian roots of it and teaching children to enjoy evil often without even realizing the psychological damage this makes to a kid.
Some countries such as Russia has already legislation prohibiting the pupils in school to mask like monsters and celebrate publicly the feast.
roman_catholic_christian_halloween_pumpkin
If you're a parent it is always a good idea to tell your kid that the truth is Halloween feast is not connected to darkness as it is often publicly illustrated but on the contrary Halloween tradition is early Christian one.

Thomas Sunday – The day of Disbelievers

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Thomas-sunday-the-day-of-disbelieve-Thomas-reaching-to-Jesus-wounds

A week passed since we Christian celebrated Resurrection of Christ (Pascha). Each year on first Sunday after Easter in orthodox Church is celebrated the so called Thomas Sunday. So why is it called Thomas Sunday and why it is the day of disbelievers?
The root of this ancient Christian feast comes after commemoration of Christ desciple St. Thomas who disbelieved the testimony of ( 10 apostles ) and the Virgin Mary  that Jesus Christ is Risen from the Death.

The disbelieve of Thomas was logical and human cause even though Thomas was with the Apostles with Christ for 3 years, saw all Jesus miracles and shared the Secret Supper (Last Supper), and even knew in advance (heard by Jesus on Last supper) that Jesus will betrayed mocked, hanged on the Cross and Rise from the death on the third day, he disbelieved.

Thomas Sunday (Sundy of Thomas) is "the day of Disbelievers", because all are disbelievers in moments of their life not only those who believe God but all the humanity!  Even the most faithful Christian, be it a deacon, monk or priest has difficult moments in life where God's existence or providence for one's faith is seriously questioned.
The fallen nature of man is such that the initial belief in God given to man in Eden (Paradise garden) is broken, and only in Jesus's name through the Gift of Faith given by the Holy Spirit, believe in God is restored.

Thomas very much like unto everyone of us doubted the rumors of Christ resurrection and said he would only believe in Resurrected Christ only if he sees his hands nails print and put his fingers into Christ’s wounds to test he is not seeing a Ghost but Christ is alive in a body after his death.

Here is the Gospel reading re-telling the story in short:

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19)

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-26)

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

We Christians should be joyful for have not seen Christ in Flesh but have believed for we are blessed for his believe without seeing.

By same faith in God without seeing him even in old times the Jews were led by the Lord God in the desert have won wars by their believing without seeing God, prophets has prophecised, Simeon (The God receiver) hold The Savior (Christ) in his hands, by faith David won the battle with Goliath, by faith we understand the universe was formed at God’s command, by faith we know that the visible came out of the invisible.

o Kyrios mou kai o Theos mou (Greek) – My Lord and my God (Jn. 20:28) this declaration of faith clearly shows an unexpressable excitement of Thomas and his unexpectency to see Christ resurrected. Here it is interesting that here the son of God Jesus Christ is called by Thomas exactly how Jewish used to call God Yahweh (One and Only God) in the Old testament.

Today the evangical story is very accurate for our generation – a generation of disbelievers, even we who say we believe often doesn’t justify our believe with our deeds, we say we believe but we don’t keep God’s commandment “to love God and our neigbor like ourselves.” Often only difference between believers and disbelievers is on Sunday we believers visit Church and “play Christians”, but even but in daily life our deeds are same like unbelievers. Often many are disbelievers not because they reject God but because they never heard the Gospel or misheard it, also we disbelieve because we’re very much like st. Thomas, we often say “I will believe in God if I see him”, but even Thomas who saw God before the Crucifix and knew him disbelieved – a proof that often seing once could still leave space for doubt. The glorious event of Christ showing himself Alive to Thomas was made by Christ to establish the Church and strengthen faith of first Christians in resurrection. Nowadays there are plenty of people who question God’s existence saying that they will believe if they see but they’re not given to see the resurrected Christ because God knows that even if we see the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected we would try to rationally explain the phenomenon with holograms, modern technology or science.

Thomas Sunday is not only a day of Thomas disbelieve it is a day of disbelieve of all humanity. , St. Thomas should be an example even to all of us Christian disbelievers and non-believers that even if we disbelieve and doubt and strive to see God, He is powerful to come and appear Resurrected in His Glory to our souls.
Let us therefore have the Wisdom of the Holy Apostles and say together with them “Lord, Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

Christ is Risen! Truly he is Risen ! – Christ is Risen in many Languages Happy Easter ! :)

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Voskresenie_Hristovo_Resurrection_of_Christ

For one more year its the feast of feasts. Demons Fall, Angels sing in Heaven, People rejoice because Christ is Risen !  This is a day which God created for us to rejoice! Let nobody be sorrowful for the kingdom of Heaven is open for everyone! Let nobody cry for his sins because forgiveness has risen from the grave of the Savior !
Let nobody be afraid from Death cause Christ – Savior's death has released us from death!

"Peace be on you" – said Christ to his followers, conforting and strengthening their faith in the Resurrection.
The savior appears to every Christian in the same way to hear his  voice saying "Rejoice!" Let we keep in our souls the graceful joy of Easter and by the same grace and faith always triumpth over sorrowful times and hardships of earthly life.

In the spiritual fight we are not alone. Always until the end of ages the Resurrected Savior Jesus is with us according to his promise "I'm with you until the end of ages" (Mathew 28:20)

Christ is Risen Troparion in many languages (part 1)

Christ is Risen Troparion in many languages (part 2 )

 

 

"I am the resurrection and the Life whoever believes in me even he dies he will live" (John 11:25)
This is the eternal life given to us all Christians let us not be ashamed and loudly great all with

 

 

CHRIST IS RISEN!
 

24 of May National feast of Bulgarian Education Enlightenment and Culture

Friday, May 24th, 2013

saint Cyril and Methodius holding Cyrillic Glagolic manuscript 24th of May most light Bulgarian national feast

24-th of May is one of well known newest and most bright Bulgarian national feasts. 24th of May is officially one of the most light Bulgarian feasts and there is virtually no Bulgarian who doesn't connect this feast with Celebrations related to Bulgarian Cyrillic Alphabet and the Holy brothers st., st. CYRIL and METHODIUS as well as their 5 pupils , CLEMENT, NAHUM, GORAZD, ANGELARIUS, SAVVA – known here in Bulgaria as the 7-th Holy enlighteners of the Bulgarian lands. The alphabet invented by the 2 holy brothers was with the goal of translating the Holy Scriptures in understandable language to Slavonic tribes inhabiting (Great Moravia and Panonia) big part of Bulgarian lands as well as many other regions of Eastern Europe. Today the 2 holy brothers are righteously called "Apostles of the Slavs". The two brothers devised the most ancient form of a Cyrillic language (Glagolitic Alphabet / Glagolitsa –  glagoliti means "to speak"), whose modified version the Cyrillic used to this very day in Slavonic part of Orthodox Eastern Church, which in practice nowadays makes up near half of the Eastern Orthodox Church Christian people (about 200 000 000 members) – from Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Serbia,  Ukraine, Croatia, Poland, Kazakhstan, Czech, Slovakia, Slovenia

Codex Zographensis Bulgarian Christian Orthodox Zographus Monastery Holy mount Athos

Page of Codex Zographensis nowadays kept in Bulgarian Zograf Monastery St. gt. martyr George

Glagolic alphabet consisted of 41 letters. Many of the letters were devised based on Greek, where others were created based on Latin, Arabic / Coptic, Hebrew  and some other not still determined languages of the time.

According to some modern research 5 pupils of st. Cyril and Methodius – st. Clement,Nahum, Gorazd, Savva and Angelarius re-formed Glagolitsa and create Cyrillic alphabet used to these days among about 450 000 000 ppl around the world. Because Cyrillic was easier for writting with time last Glagolitic manuscripts started to disappear around the middle age XV-th century. 

Asemanievo Gospel from the end of X-th XI century Glagolic and cyrillic letters

St. King Boris – The Baptizer of Bulgarian lands accepted st. Cyril and Methodius pupils and created 2 early Spiritual / Enlightenment Schools in Preslav and Ohrid. In this two spiritual centers many Church books were copied / transcribed. Many of the translations of Holy Scriptures and Living of the saints made in Preslav and Ohrid are nowadays influenced Church life in Russia, Serbia and Romania. Some of the original manuscripts produced in there are nowadays kept mainly in Russia and Serbia.

Celebrating of 24-th of May as a national and Church feast of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Bulgarian Culture started as such  in the pre-liberation from Ottoman Turkish slavery period around y. 1852. According to some historical documents the feast was first celebrated on 22 of May in still "unliberated" Bulgarian Church (which at that time belongs to Greek Patriarchy). Initially the feast was celebrated on 11th of May as one feast both celebrated in Church and nation. Later after secularization period since 1969, two feasts developed one Church official in 11-th of May and one nationwide in 24-th of May. The feast 24-th of May is celebrated on this date since 1969. Today though Bulgarian Orthodox Church marks the remembrance of holy brothers st. Cyril and Methodius on 11-th of May. Every 24-th of May there is a Holy Liturgy served asking God to bless Bulgarian nation and grant us good nation health and success in all good knowledge. In relation to Bulgarian Liberation period, there was need for writing a secular Hymn for the feast. In City of Ruse in y. 1892 Stoyan Mihailovski then a teacher in High School writes a hymn which is well known and sign even by this day by Bulgarians – the infamous "Върви народе възродени" / "Walk straight, oh renewed nation".

ХОР"БОДРА СМЯНА" – ВЪРВИ, НАРОДЕ ВЪЗРОДЕНИ!