Posts Tagged ‘spiritual life’

19 October Saint John of Rila Тhe Wonderworker – A little known Hermit saint of Great importance and fervent prayer intercessor for humanity

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

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I've already blogged a number of times articles of Saint John of Rila as he is The Greatest venerated Bulgarian Saint as of today his birthplace nearby today's Ruen Monastery as well as my inspiration from the Night Vigil prayer gatherings in the Monastery in his Memoriam in German. But I'm pretty sure this spiritual giant  is under estimated and little known to the public not only the non-bulgarian English speakers but even to Bulgarian and the saint deserves much greater veneration and honour than it has received through the ages for the fact he has been among the greatest prayer intercessors for the world until the beginning of ages.

For his immerse hermit achievements in a similar way as Saint Anthony the Great he has been granted All the innumerous Gifts of The Holy Spirit.
The humble hermit even in his life time he has been defined as "Angel in flesh" and a "Citizen of heaven".
The life of Saint John has been a X-th century continuation of the life of Saint Simeon the Stylites and Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger attempted to be repeated as far as possible by more contemporary saints such as Saint Siluan the Athonite.
 

He has been a teacher (even though he ran away from people) all his life. He has been the major establisher of Monasticism in Bulgaria, 

In 18 of August year 946 Anno Dommini saint John has departed this world. Dying with a painless way called in Church language with the term Dormition or Assumption – (meeling he did not felt any kind of fleshly pain as normally one goes through when he ends his life unsanctified). His Dormition  in a similar way as The Mother of God (Theotokos), an end of life who has been granted throughout human history only to few other saints.

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Saint John who spend his hermit lifetime in Mountain of Rila was born circa y. 876 AD and passed away to Christ on August 18, 946 A.D.
Thirthy four years after his dormition, he appeared in a dream to his pupils and has commanded them to dig out his incorruptable body and move it to in Sredetz (today the city of Sofia capital of Bulgaria). In Sredetz the holy relics of the saint has been kept in honour for 200 years.

Saint John has been a contemporary to Saint King Boris I the Baptizer of Bulgaria, King Simeon the Great (Son of King Boris, who raised Bulgaria to Empire reaching to 3 Oceans, who has been one of the largest empires of All times) and King Petar (Peter) the First. His glory as a Wonderworker who has been desired to been seen by many to receive physical healing or spiritual advice has been mostly through the rule of King Petar I (927 – 969). In Medieval times the Glory of Saint John of Rila has been widely known throughout all the Christianized Lands (including Byzantine Empire) and the West in the Catholic Church. The implication of his importance as a medieval healer saint and a model for hermit life and saintship and image for truthful spiritual life is well seen as his Biography (Living) is seen as he has about 15 Known different livings saying varyious details about his lifetime written in different centuries in Old Bulgarian Language and in Middle centuries in the new transformed form of Old Bulgarian writting called Church Slavonic, where saint has been simply adressed by monk name Ioan (John).

According to his biography we found until the age of 25 Saint John has been a simple shepherd. Until the yough age in his heart John had the burning love in his heart and a desire to dedicate himself completely to God. When his parents has passed away, he gave away all his received inheritance to the poor and sick people and entered as a aprentice in the monastery of today Boboshevski Saint Dimitar under the Ruen Monastery in the Mountain of Vlahina.

There in he received a Theological education, studied the liturgical books, received a spiritual dignity and prepared himself for the great spiritual mission of hermitage and life long prayer for the world. Receiving the monks schima, he gave away completely to fasting and prayer, initially establishing himself in Vitosha Mountain (most likely in today Monastery of German Monastery St. John of Rila (convent of Mount Athos Monastery of Zograph) nearby Sofia

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St. John of Rila Wall Painting XIV century from the Church Zemen Monastery Saint John the Theologian

In German Monastery often times the ancient Christian tradition of Night Vigil is followed on hist feast Major Christian feasts even today.
Later he has been for a while in the small Village  "Dobarsko" near The Europe Famous Resort of Bansko.
A short after 20 km of Dobarsko he has established The Most Famous Monastery for the Balkans, the Rila Monastery, a pivotal place whose light has shined upon practically all parts of the land as it become a school for tens of thousands hundred monks throughout the last 20 centuries. Many manuscript works prepared in Rila Monastery has been later on transferred in Today Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Greece and even the Western Catholic lands.
There is no exact place in history when Saint John was officially canonized as in Medival Times, saints did not go through an official canonization but has been testified by the multitudes of peoples who has been cured by their wonder-working prayers. By the prayers of Saint John many has been able to conceive childs, leppers get cured and could walk, eye diseases were healed, full health has been restored or the gift of faith has been giving, not to mention the multitudes of people who came to Christian faith thanks to the prayers of St. John.

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King Petar I-st meets the Hermit Holy Father John of Rila (Wall Painting)

The story of the powerful medieval Bulgarian ruler Peter the First who travelled 450 Kilometers only to see the saint is well known. Travelling about 450 kilometers from the capital of Bulgaria Veliki Preslav to the Cave of Saint John of Rila only to meet him.

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The Cave of Saint John of Rila Cave exit

The monk however refused to meet him due to his immerse humility, where King Peter I-st was able to talk in a long distance via a valley with the saint, offering him gold and fruits. St. John refused to receive the king's gold, as he said he did not left the world and everyhing to it to attain gold or anything but to save his soul. He received the fruits not wanting to insult the king. Many people who deserved to learn a true monasticism and ascetism has quickly reached the saint and asked them to create a monastic brotherhood and wanting to be useful his poor brothers and having revelation of God that it is the will of God to establish the monsatery he accepted and become the first Abbot of Rila Monastery.

He passed to the Savior Christ about in year on 18 of August 946 AD being aged about 70 years old he has been buried in the Church porch in a stone tomb, preserved even today.

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Saint John Giving his Written Testament to his Monks (The Testament is Famous for the quote "I beg you children to mostly fear from the snake of avarice which is the root of all evils".


Until his death he has departed from the brotherhood in complete solitude and wrote his famous "Testament".  The Testament of Saint John of Rila he left for his pupils on 25 of March on the feast of the Annunciation in year 941. The text of the Saint John Testament is preserved in a copy manuscripts dated from the XVIII and XIX century and contains a multitude of quotes from The Scriptures of Old and New Testament

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The Living of Saint John of Rila


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A little known fact is that the Russian All Famous Saint Father John of Kronstadt (also a wonderworker) (Ivan Ilyich Sergiyev, born: 31 October [O.S. 19 October] 1829 + Passed to Christ: 2 January 1909 [O.S. 20 December 1908]) has received his Baptizmal name after Saint John of Rila as he has been born on his feast day and his parents following the Russian tradition to name the baby after the Saint honour in the Church Calendar gave the name John of St. John of Kronstadt. St. John of Kronstadt deeply venerated Saint John of Rila and asked his prayer intercession alway until his life time.
​In 1900, Father John established the women's monastery of Ioannovsky Convent, named for his name patron John of Rila, as a branch of the Sura Monastery of St. John the Theologian, where he was later also buried.

Recognition of Saint John of Rila Holiness shortly after his death


After his death in y. 946, st John has been buried nearby the established by him Holy Rila Convent, shortly after King Peter I-st ordered to be transferred to Sredetz (Sofia). Most likely this can be considered for original date of canonization of the saint. About y. 989 – 992 y. his holy relics has been transferred by King Samul and then Patriarch German-Gabvril (German-Gabriel) in Sredetz. This happened on 19 of October and since then on this date is venerated his bright memory.
Initially his holy relics has been kept for venerateion in the Church of "Saint Great Martyr Georgi the Glorybringer" and later on moved to Church of "Saint Apostle and Evangelist Luke". In the XII century in his honour the Church of "Saint Luka (Saint Luke)" was built near which a monastery has been established. The Byzantine writter Ioannis Skylitzes / John Skylitzes testifies that in Sredetz the Holy Relics of Saint John has miraculously cured emperor Manuel I Komnenos.

In 1183 during the consequential Hungarian-Byzantine war, the Hungarian King Bela III of Hungar conquered Sredetz and moved the holy relics of Saint John in his capitzal Estergom today the Komárom-Esztergom County. According to tradition the local Roman Catholic archibishop declared he has not been aware for the existence of a saint John of Rila and because of his words the saint has punished him with immediate numbness. Once he venerated the holy relics of the reliquary and begged for forgiveness, his speech was recovered. Amazed and worried about this miracle, in year 1187 hungarians transferred back the holy relics of the saint to Tarnovo? Bulgaria.

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The Return of the Holy Relics of St. John to Trnovo Bulgaria

On 1st of June the Church celebrates the return of the holy relics of saint John of Rila from Tarnovo to Rila monastery. In 1195 Bulgarian king Ivan Asen the First solemnly transferred the Holy relics once again to Tarnovo in the church still being built St. 40 Martyrs (dedicated to 40 Martyrs of Nikomidia). Until the church was completed the holy relics has been kept on Krastec Peak, now the place has a small chapel in honour of St. John of Rila The Wonderworker".

In 1469 year Bulgaria is already invaded by the Ottoman Turks, thus  after a permission from the Sultan, the monks of Rila convent brought the holy relics of the saint from Veliko Tarnovo to his established Rila Monastery, where holy relics are kept to this date and where anyone who needs a spiritual fortification, restorement of health, or suffering from unclean spirits (devils) could ask with faith and hope for healing for the saint and wait for the miracle.
I myself have had the chance to meet a man who has being to a Night Vigil to Rila monastery and testified that he and his life both being in his old age of fifties after not being able to have kids and trying out everything has asked the saint during a night vigil to pray for them to able to conceive a child and the saint heard their prayers and granted them a kid and she conceived right after that and brought to the earth after 9 months a very healthy and lively baby 🙂

Another modern miracle I'm personally aware of made by Saint John is the Gift of Faith in God which was granted to a Greek architect, I've personally met while being on a pilgrimage visit to Holy Mount Athos. The Greek shared that he had never been a believed in God and was a grown atheist, until he had a work duty to do some reconstruction restoration works in Bulgarian Rila monastery. Spending a few months as part of his business-trip duties, he has received the gift of faith. I've met the Greek (unfortunately no longer remember his name), nearby the monastery of Xenophontos.

 

The troparion of our rev. father John of Rila, tone 1

A foundation of the repentance, an example of the tenderness,
a model of the consolation and of the spiritual perfection,
oh Reverend Father, was your equal to the Angels life therefore
staying in prayers and fasts and in tears
pray to the Christ God for our souls.


Today the holy relics are miraculously still incorruptable and emit a specific nice odor  which is typical for many of other saints, a testify to the unbelievers for their saintship. The saints relics in a special reliquarium in the right corner behind the iconostasis icons. The right hand of the saint is kept in nun convent in Island of Tinos Greece and the story how it ended there is a worthy for a small pamphlet and I'll try to say few words on that in some of the next posts.

Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint John of Rila our Home Land Bulgaria and all Countries are granted more Peace, Love, Faith and Kindness and relief from the terrible diseases that are plaguing the world today !

Holy Father John of Rila Pray the mercyful Lord Jesus with All the Saints and The Most Holy Theotokos to save our Souls and grant mercies to us the sinners !

Saint Martyr Antepas of Pergamum mentioned in the Book of Revelation of saint John the Apostle – 4th Sunday of Great Lent saint John the Climacus

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

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Saint Antepas of Pergamum

Saint Martyr Antepas commemoration in the One Holy Eastern Orthodox Church is on 11 of April. The veneration of this saint in the past centuries was great in both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Church (The Roman Catholic Church), especially before the great schism in 1054. Saint Antepas was well known among people in the medieval times for being a saint invoked in troubles with a toothache and all kind of teech diseases which were a true plague in the prior ages as people did not have much knowledge on how to heal or recover teeths and usually in case when someone got a tooth ache the ultimate solution to remove the teeth. 

His Vitae (Living) is mostly interesting as he is a saint according to Orthodox Church tradition that was one of the spiritual titans in the first century, where the church was mainly troubled by persecusion by the jews who refused Christ as Messiah, by the pagan crowds and starting from second part of I-st century officially persecuted by the Roman Empire authorities. In this bloody century for the Church where martyrs lay down the foundation of the Church many saints become a victims of jewish fanatism and pagans atrocities. Saint Antepas is one of those saints who at that time was a bishop of the Church of Pergamum mentioned in the Prophetic boof The Book of Reveletaion (the last book) of the Holy Bible book cannon that is included in every (protestant, anglican, orthodox, catholic Holy Bible). Saint John the Apostle the author of Book Revalation has been exiled on mount Paphos (today Cyprus) at time of Martyrdom of Saint Antepas. St. John the Apostle while being in the cave exiled, received in a vision by Christ the revelation of the furute things to come before the end of the world and antichrists false messiah appearance. Before his revelation it is not known whether saint John knew physically his brethren in Christ antipas but this hypothesis is little likely as appearance the book of Revelation has been revealed to John in a single vision by The son of God Jesus Christ where in mystical vision in which the merits and the deficiency of the Church has been presented of the 7 Churches of Asia Minor present at the first century in the world. The Church of Pergamum was one of the Seven Churches of which the Revelation speaks which surrounded by all kind of uncleanness, idolatry and satanic deeds of the Pergamum people and this diseases partially started even plaguing members of the Church who with time had fallen away from faith due to their sinful deeds and undesire for repentance. The book of Revelation mentions the martyrdom of Antepas as a truthful witness of Christ who steadily kept the faith in the Risen Christ enduring martyrdom. "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.". Book of Revelations 2:13.
The spiritual State of the Church of Pergamum is described as follows,

"I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth." Rev. 2:13

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Saint Antepas was a missionary bishop who lived in time of Roman Emperor Domition II-nd, By the Revelations book we found out that in the 1st century the Pergamum Church Bishop has been a pious saintly man firm in his faith. The Church tradition's memory give us a little more details on the Martyrdom of Antepas. 

According to tradition and history. The citizens of Pergamum (Pergam) were fanatic admirers of their pagan idols and spend their life in all kind of wickedness. Those who observed their lives got the impression that among them really lives satan himself. Among such uncleanness Antepas has been a true headlight in the dark night or like a rose among prickles, showing path to salvation through the three Christian main viritues of Faith, Pope and Love. Even though Antepas witnessed people ungodliness, he did not embarass from the malice of pagans, but on the contrary good heartedly and with a diligence performed his Christian obligations of a shepherd and preacher, revealing deceptions of idolatries and advised them to turn better for their good to the Truthful one God the creator and Ruler of Universe who has send his Only Begotten son to Cross on Golgotha to suffer for the sins of man and return the fallen man to the Holy Trinity God the Father the Son and the Holy spirit and by his suffering showing us the narrow but straight way to heaven of the Suffering by accepting one's personal Cross uniting and nailing it to Christ's cross by handing over all one's life to Christ.

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St. Antepas preaching turned quickly many of the pagns to Christ's Church. The pagans lost many of their faithful admirers, worshippers of the idols decreased highly and the toll for the idols as well (monetary funds for the shamans) in Pagan temple decreases. Antipas was blamed for his missionary work and revealing the truth to the blind by envious and hard-hearted, greedy idolatries.

In the same time Domitian being loyal to the Roman gods also proclaimed a persecution announcing christians as enemies of the empire. Attaining bravery by that the pagan priests catched Antepas and brought him before the city ruler, blaming him that he become a reason for the gods to become angry and as a reason for the so-called idols (thought to be gods) to stop caring about Pergamon in which they no longer received the high honor for their service to the idols.

– Is that true? asked the ruler of Pergamon – that you have been not giving veneration to the gods, and you teach the others to despire the gods and not give them honour? 
This is why our city is suffering because the gods has been offended and no longer have mercy and take care about this place and our well being.
Leave out Christianity repent and give obbey our law. If you do not give honor to the idols and continue to despise the gods, we will torture you according to roman law.

Antipas replied:

– I AM CHRISTIAN ! And the unwise king's orded i cannot perform and to the false gods i will not obey.
To give you a concreate and clear answer I tell you, the so called gods are not gods and they have no power to protect the city.
Leave your delusions, repent for the wickedness and believe in Christ, who embodied from Heaven to save all humans.
He is the only true God and he is about to come again in the end of ages to Judge everyone according to their deeds – everyone will either receive a gift or punishment.

 

– What is that new teaching shouted enraged the city ruler. You do obey to some new invented by your own law and reject the ancient worships, given us by the fathers. Leave the new faith and stop venerating for God a man who was crucified shamefully as a villain in times of Pilates.
Obey the king order and live in peacefully. We'll help you everything, we'll love you as our sons, because your advanced age requires it – that we all love you and venerate you as a father.

Antepas replied:
– Nomatter what you tell me – I am not that reckless (foolish) for being lived until the old age and being near end of my earthly days, to leave the true faith and to retreat to the salvational faith. You will not deceive my mind because it is enlightened by the wisdom of the Divine books. If you do not repent and do not stop worshipping your idols and you do not believe in the True God you will perish (both physically and spiritually).

Maddened by raged, the pagans crow did not wanted to hear any more the words of the pious elder – bishop. They captured him and drag him to the pagan temple. There was an idol: a big bull, forged by copper. Heating him up till it become red and they throw in the Bishop Antipas. He did not feared but with joy made the Sigh of the Cross and reverently cry out in prayer:

– Oh God,m who have revealed the secret mystery of our our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for all the good deeds to me in my life. Thank you, you have granted me in that hour to be written in the list of the martyrs for your teaching. Receive my departering from temporary life my soul and engift it with your Grace.

Enduring peacefully and with firmness the terrible torturs, saint Antepas prayed for his enemies and for the whole world. Gradually his bodily powers weakened and he quitly passed to Christ. 
Christians with great honor and according to Church tradition buried the body of the saint martyr. 
His Holy relics were saved and God has engifted them with the healing power. 

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Fourth Sunday of The Great Lent Sunday of Saint John the Climacus.
Saint John Lestvichnik and his Book a Spiritual Ladder to Heaven (Lestvica)

 

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Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent – Saint John Lestvichnik / John the Climacus and his Ladder to Heaven

This year the second year of the "Coronavirus pandemy" 2021 the 4th Sunday of the Great Lent which every year commemorates the glorious Holy father and "a commander" of the Monks Saint John the Climacus / Saint John The Sinaites / John the Scholastic that lived in the 6th-7th century. He is mostly known in Bulgaria / Russia and the Slavonic Churches as Saint John Lestvichnik.  Saint John was ascetic monk on the mount of Sinai born circa 579 and passed away to Christ year. 649 A.D. He is revered a saint in both Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Roman Catholic Church and the rest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, though he is lesser known in the in the Western world .e.g in Roman Catholic Church. Saint John eagered for a higher spiritual life and thus has spend 20 years in the desert in hermitage, studying and practicing the writtings of the holy fathers to advance his spiritual life and attain spiritual perfection by overcoming all the main passions that are a stopper for a man to become fully spiritually enlightened and reach "in the flesh" the kingdom of heaven and become a victor against the evil passions.  

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A lot can be said about saint John Lestvichnik and his world famous book Lestvica (Ladder ) Κλῖμαξ known in Latin world as Scala Paradisi a ladder of divince ascent.

In Lestvica the later chosen Abbot of Raitha Monastery st. John Lesvichnik describes to brethren monks on how to overcome different temptations and the attached moving passions and is well known in his life time for being a light beam for good truthtful spiritual lifesaint John Lestvichnik. Even Pope Gregory the Great wrote to him recommend himself to his prayers, and sent him a sum of money for the hospital of Sinai, in which the pilgrims were wont to lodge.

In the Book Ladder that should be tabletop book for all Christians,we hear of the ascetic practice of carrying a small notebook to record the thoughts of the monk during contemplation. Some parts of the books sounds scary and completely strange for the modern readers as we're all sunken in comfort and excessness of things.
Κλῖμαξ is mostly known in the Eastern Orthodox Church and highly estimated by anyone who actiively practices orthodoxy for being the best guide for a person to check his current spiritual life.

 

The Ladder describes how to raise one's soul and body to God through the acquisition of ascetic virtues. Climacus uses the analogy of Jacob's Ladder as the framework for his spiritual teaching. Each chapter is referred to as a "step", and deals with a separate spiritual subject. There are thirty Steps of the ladder, which correspond to the age of Jesus at his baptism and the beginning of his earthly ministry. Within the general framework of a 'ladder', Climacus book falls into three sections. The first seven Steps concern general virtues necessary for the ascetic life, while the next nineteen (Steps 8–26) give instruction on overcoming vices and building their corresponding virtues. The final four Steps concern the higher virtues toward which the ascetic life aims. The final rung of the ladder – beyond prayer (προσευχή), stillness (ἡσυχία), and even dispassion (ἀπάθεια) – is love (ἀγάπη).

Let by the prayers of Saint Antepas, Saint John Lesvichnik and Saint John The Apostle, the All Merciful God to have mercy on our Souls and veliver us from temptations and all evils in present and coming and grant peace and relief to all suffering for the truth and enlighten man to turn back in repentance to Christ !
Amen

Sermon on Forgiveness and improving spiritual life – his holiness Pope Shenouda II

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

I'm seeking to improve my spiritual life, because I realize I'm so spiritually. I know Coptic Oriental Orthodox church stores multitude of spiritual rubby treasures thus I looked online to see if I can find sermons of recently passed away to Christ Coptic Church patriarch pope Shenouda II. I was blessed to find a Sermon of his on Forgiveness. In it this Holy man, gives instructions for layman on how to forgive and gives a list of 17 Spiritual advices on what to do and not do whenever in situation. I re-share it here with hope this will serve as blessing to other Christians like me who strive to improve their spiritual health

A Sermon on Forgiveness – his holiness pope Shenouda II

Let this holy man pray for  us spiritually poor Christians on earth …

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

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

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

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

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

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

This is the only picture I have of our brother Georgi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 9th, 2014

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

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The Church saint George in Jeglarci village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saint George Church in Jeglarci – Altar and Dveri

Another of his stories is connected with fasting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Ancient Christian Coptic Oriental Orthodox icons – The reason for asymmetric body members in early Christian iconography

Monday, July 30th, 2012

While checking some information on Coptic Eastern Oriental faith, I've stumbled upon a very beautiful (and unique) ancient Orthodox Christian icon depicting Saint Menas and our saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, below is the very beautiful icon

Saint Mena (Sv. Mina) and The Lord Jesus Christ icon from 6th century

Saint Mena (Sv. Mina) and The Lord Jesus Christ icon from 6th century

As you can see the iconography is very interesting, the images differ from modern day iconography the portraits are not looking so serious but looks like "childish". This childish forms and faces on the early Christian iconography is not accidental; it expresses the childish like pure faith our Christian devoted ancestors had. This early Christian faith and spiritual life icon is obviously in conjunction with our Saviour Jesus Christ words as red in the Gospel according to Matthew:
 

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

Matthew 18:1-5

This icon as well as the early Christian icons are very different from nowdays iconography probably for reason;
the images difference, the seriousness and the lack of brightness in the faces of nowdays iconography is a clear sign of the great decay of both Orthodox Christian as well as the down-fall of spiritual life worldly.
I've seen similar childish looking image icons in some Bulgarian ancient relics museums in my child years and always thought the depictions are so kiddish because iconographers of that time did not have the painting knowledge and skills to draw better ones.
Now as I know Christianity much better than then, I understand my previous assumption for the reason of the kiddish looking images is wrong.
Saint Mena (Sv. Mina) and The Lord Jesus Christ icon from 6th century

Very interesting in the early Christian iconography are the shapes. If you take a close look to above icon, you will notice the disparity of the two body members; the hands, head and eyes are unusually big. My guess for the lack of correspondence of body members is the attempt of early iconographers to put accent on most important members of our bodies;

– The head (holding the mind and thoughts of the saints)
– The hands through which the daily food is raised and the eyes through which the world is comprehended are much bigger than in a real person portrait.
– The mouth which is almost the size of the eyes; obvious reference that for early Christian contemplating was much more precious (important) thing, than speech.
This is also in accordance with the New Testament holy scriptures which says like so concerning the tongue:
 

8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs?
Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Notice also the Halos of the two saints, the size of the halos is almost one third of the whole body of the saints. The Gospel hold by our and all humanity Saviour Jesus Christ is also enormous sized; corresponding almost the height of the arm of Christ on the icon.
The size of the Gospel stresses out the importance of the Holy Bible writtings for early Christians. Nowdays the size of Gospels or Holy Bible especially among protestant Churches "tradition" is becoming smaller and smaller following the spirit of the time proclaiming mobility …

Today the iconography Orthodox Christian "school" has severely changed and the icon images are much more complicated than in ancient times.
The complication of images and elements on Orthodox Icons is a "mirror" of the internal complicated world of us modern-time Christians. This over-complication of our internal spiritual world, does separate us from God instead of uniting us as it is well known in Holy Orthodox Christian tradition God is best known through simplicity and pureness in life thoughts and actions.

The Coptic Oriental Orthodox Church is the only Church, where there is still iconographers drawing in the style of the ancient times childish looking icons. The reason Copts preserved this ancient iconography is that they have conservated big portion of the ancient faith rejecting the decisions of all 7 Orthodox Ecumenical Church Councils. Copts still accept only ecumenical council decisions up to the III-rd ecumenical council. This is also the reason why Eastern Oriental Orthodox Christians are considered not in official communion with the rest of Eastern Orthodox Churches. I had the opportunity by God's grace to meet an Coptic Orthodox Christian (a guy called Baky); From what I've seen and experienced within the few months with Baky my conclusion is Coptic Orthodox layman faith is much stronger than the one in most of other Orthodox Christians I know. The official standpoint of our Eastern Orthodox Church concerning the copts are that they're in heresy and not really orthodox. I'm not sure if this is really true, since I have spend few months with this Coptic Christian brother this autumn and winter and from what I've seen and heard as well as researched on coptic Orthodox it seems their overall Church teaching, Holy Liturgies and everything is very much orthodox (with very little service and faith differences). Here are few beautiful Coptic Orthodox Christian icons still being drawn in the spirit of early days Christianity.

Saint Abba Anthony the Great Coptic Oriental orthodox Icon

Abba (saint) Anthony the Great the father of Orthodox Christian Monastic Life

Coptic Orthodox Oriental Icon Abba Anthony and saint Paul

Coptic Orthodox Oriental Icon of Saint Anothony the Great – "the founder" of Monastic life

Coptic Oriental Orthodox Icon Tobias old testamential Book story

Tobias Old Testamential Story coptic icon

Holy Family Flight into Egypt Coptic Orthodox Icon

Holy Family – Flight into Egypt Coptic Orthodox oriental icon

Christ the Saviour Coptic Oriental Orthodox icon

Christ the Saviour – Coptic Oriental Orthodox icon

Holy Theotokos Coptic Oriental Orthodox icon

Holy Theotokos Coptic Oriental icon

Saint Athanasius defender of pure orthodoxy Oriental Orthodox icon

Saint Athnasius coptic orth icon

The Dormition of Holy Theotokos Mother Mary Coptic Orthodox Oriental Icon

The Dormition of Virgin Mary Coptic icon