Свети Михаил Saint Mihail (Michael) Voyn The Warrior is known to be Bulgarian by blood origin. He was born in the town of Potuk (it is assumed that this is today's Batak – the same region where just few years ago the Holy New Batak Martyrs about 1200 to 8000 people who suffered under the Ottoman Turks for Christ being collectively killed in the Church of Saint Nedely in Batak on the night of 2nd of May 1876 AD and were canonized in the Church just few years ago from now).
Holy Batak New Martyrs icon
He probably lived in the time of the pious Bulgarian king Saint Boris-Mihail (King Boris – Michael the Ist known as the the Baptizer of Bulgaria, thanks to whose decision to receive Christianit and mass baptize of the Bulgarian nation and territories of his large country and his active work and financement to support the pupils of Saint Cyril and Methodius such as Saint Kliment Ohridski, st. Naum, st. Gorazd, st. Savva, st. Angelarius and the other many uknown holy man the Old Bulgarian cyrillic church books was translated from Greek and shortly later other Slavonic nations could received the Church service Books in Old Bulgarian cyrillic whose slightly modified version in the 16th century become the famous Church slavonic language, which is used to these day in the Slavonic churches.
Saint Mahail the Warrior was the son of rich and noble parents, loved the pure life from childhood, had the fear of God, devoted himself to prayer and fasting, generously gave alms to the poor, which is why both his parents and strangers called him "the holy child".
When he was 25 years old, he was appointed the commander of a troppers unit in the Byzantine army. At that time of living, his birth region even though having people inhabited with Bulgarians, had not yet entered the borders of the Bulgarian state.
In a war of the Byzantine emperor Michael III (865) against the Agarians (later known as the Ottoman Turks), Saint Michael the Warrior was left by the frightened Greeks alone with his subordinate warrior mates who followed his heroism.
Invoking the name of God like the ancient saint all the while, he managed to drive away the enemies and together with the soldiers remained unharmed.
Returning home, he performed the heroic miracle same as of Saint Great Martyr George the Victorious:
He killed a huge dragon that came out of some lake, and thus saved a virgin from being eaten by it. But the dragon whose head he cut off struck him with its huge tail so hard that he fell down and lay unconscious for some time.
Soon after his return to his native place, he died and the Lord glorified him with incorruptible miracles.
During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, at the very beginning of the 13th century (in year 1206), the Bulgarian king Kaloyan solemnly brought his holy relics to his Capital Tarnovo and laid them in the Patriarchal Cathedral at that time dedicated to the "Holy Ascension".
After the fall of capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo under Ottoman rule in (year 1393), the traces of the saint holy relics were lost.
The great patriarch of Tarnov (Trnovo), St. Euthymius, compiled a biography of him, which has been preserved to this day and which is the main source for us to know about the saint.
Extract From: Lives of the Saints, Synodal Publishing House, Sofia, 1991, edited by Parthenius, Bishop of Levki, and Archimandrite Dr. Athanasius (Bonchev) with minor inclusions of the author of article Hip0
Author Notes: The story with Saint George Killing the Dragon, as being found mostly in medieval sources has been largely disputed by Theologians on its authenticity as the story originates from the 11th century A.D. with an oldest source for the tale being a Georgian Manuscript. In the 12th century saint George Killing the Dragon tradition has been already well known by the Western Christians. The theologians claim the story stems out of a living of saint Thedore Tiro ( Tiron ), who was very venerated and well known in Bulgaria. That would make some doubt in the authenticity of the story of both Saint George Killing the Dragon and might make them doubt that the story of Saint Mihail (Michael) The Bulgarian Warrior is being taken from the saint George popular legends of the 11th century. However as a source of the original living for saint Mikhael has been saint Patriarch Eutymous of Tarnov (one of the most educated man of his time), who has been also the last Bulgarian patriarch before the fallout of Bulgaria under the Ottoman Turks in the year 1396 and a spiritual father and teacher of Hesychasm and many of the Spiritual man such as Gregory Tsamblak and saint Cyprian Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia ( 1390 – 1407 ) and many other famous copyist and enlightened people who moved out the Church service books and spiritual treasures of the Bulgarian Church as well as many holy miracle making icons and Christian art far in today's lands of Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, it is very less likely that the living of saint Mihail the warrior was compiled, based on false legends, especially by considering the fact that saint Mihael the Warrior lived only 3 centuries away from the moment in which his official spoken living was written down by saint Patriarch Eutymuous. Perhaps there is a Greek sources we don't know who was also the basis of st. Patriarch Eutymuous biography of saint Michael. The story of dragons and beasts tormenting people and regions has been common in medieval times, sometimes their real meating is interpreted by todays Theologians to be just an allegory to demonstrate the spiritual fight a certain saint has led with the originator of evil satan who as said in the holy scripture constantly fights against christians the Church and everything that is good and pleasant with the goal to destroy and kill. Other sources however such as Holy Mount Athos even by today has manuscripts written by monks of that time about the existence of large snakes and dragons who has been tormenting people and regions. We all know the numerous stories with Princesses and Dragons, but it seems these stories are based on monks testimonies about the reality of these things and later perhaps improved by people's imagination and desire of man put some difference in his every day monotonic life. Thus some more conservative Theologians nowadays believe it is possible for such a large dragons and snakes to have existed and been conquered for real by saints, though we should keep in mind that some of the stories of the livings of medieval times has been including details, that were result of the personal imagionation of the author.
Let by the Holy Prayers of Saint Mihail The Warrior (Bulgarian) the world finds more love, peace and goodness ! Holy Father Mihail Warrior pray for us !
It is my great joy to share with my dear readers, that Archibishop Saint Seraphim Sobolev (1881-1950), Archibishop of Bogochar has been canonized officially by the Russian Orthodox Church on yesterday 3rd of 2016 in their plenary meeting held at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.
Saint Seraphim Sobolev, has long time has been considered a saint by many Bulgarians and Russians in Bulgaria, for his countless spiritual intercessions for those who venerate him and ask for his prayer and spiritual guidance. St. Seraphim Sobolev crypt in the Russian Orthodox Chruch in Sofia Bulgaria in honor of Saint Nicolas.
Even my joy is greater his Eminence Metropolitan Ioan (John) of Varna and Veliki Preslav, who happens also the Bishop of my birth place Dobrich, Bulgaria was present On the official canonization. Also it is not a coincidence that our Metropolitan Ioan was present at the canonization, since he happens to be a spiritual child of a direct disciple of st. Seraphim Sobolev.
Some other notable bishop presents at the canonization Church service was, His Grace Bishop Arseny of Znepolsk, Vicar of the Plovdiv Metropoliate, and Archimandrite Feoktist (Dimitrov), representative of the Bulgarian Patriarch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The overall count of Bishops, Archibishops and Metropolitans who took participation in the canonization was approximately 320, almost all the bishops of Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).
The news that holy Seraphim Sobolev is considered for canonization has been sweeping the Bulgarian Church space for a long time. A nice priest lady has made even a notable movie, about the saint pointing the general turning points of his difficult life, last year and the movie was presented in the Russian Cultural Center in Sofia Bulgaria, below is the movie (unfortunately in Bulgaria and Russian), hopefully soon someone to translate it also to English:
full of a lot of sorrow and uncertainties, because of the harsh Soviet time in which the saint was serving the Church. In order to caninize a saint, the process is quite long and usually in Russian Church it takes pretty longer sometimes from 20 to 50 years, however with St. Seraphim Soboev, already 66 years already passed since his peaceful passing to Christ on 26th February 1950. The head of the local Russian Church council was his Eminence Patriarch Kiril Bishop of Moscow and all Russia.
The members of the Council unanimously voted for the glorification of Archbishop Seraphim, who has been venerated for many years in Bulgaria and Russia. Metropolitan Ilarion then read the Act of the Holy Council of Bishops announcing the canonization of Archbishop Seraphim among the host of saints. The Council members then sang the exaltation to the newly-glorified saint. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill then gave Metropolitan Ioann an icon of St Seraphim painted at St Petersburg Theological Academy as a gift to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
The full canonization title given to st. Seraphim Sobolev (archibishop Bogocharski) from Sofia (The Wonder worker).
So who is Archibishop Seraphim Sobolev?
St. Nicolas Borisovich Sobolev is born on 1st of December 1881 in Russia, province of Rezan in the Russian Empire. After completion of seminary in 1904, he entered Saint Peterburg spiritual academy, which he completed in 1908 y. with the honour of candidate of Theological studies. At that time he has been ordained for hieromonk. After a short pastoral service in a school in Jitomir, in 1909 fr. Seraphim become a helpng overseer in Kalujsk spiritual school in 1911 and was inspector in the seminary of Kostroma, in 1912 he become a rector of the spiritual seminary in Voronej.
While in Vironej he had experience the terrors of Red (Soviet) Revolution. In autumn of 1919 archimandrite Seraphim went to Ekaterinodar and from then transferred to Crimea. There in 14.10.1920, he was ordained in bishop Lubenski. The ordaining was God's plan for him and also happened perhaps, because of the need of bihops, because of mass inprisonment of bishops and archibishops by the red beasts of the communist party.
With the blessing of his spiritual elder bishop Seraphim has left Russia. From this day on his life is a life of an emigrant. For a while he has taught Theology in the spiritual school of Constantionople's patriarchy on the Island of Chalkidiki. In 1921 he was assigned as a bishop of the Christian temple in the Russian Church in honour of Saint Nicolas the Wonderworker in Sofia which was made as a monument of The Bulgarian Liberation – the Russian-Turkish Liebaration war. Same year with a decree of patriarch Tikhon, who now is also canonized – st. Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and all Russia he was assigned to govern the Russian parishes in Bulgaria with the archibishop title Bogucharski. Until 1944, bishop Seraphim who in 1934, became archibishop was under the jurisdiction of Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia (ROCOR) from 1934. In 1945 he has joined back to the Russian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy. In 1948 archibishop Seraphim took participation in the All-Orthodox gathering in Moscow. St. Seraphim Sobolev was a fervent fighter for holy and true orthodoxy and a great enemy of the movement of Ecumenism movement (a movement aiming to unite all Orthodox and then all Churches under the government of a protestant like body called World Council of Churches). All his life just like Jesus Christ, st. Seraphim Sobolev has lived without possessing on own house. He paid for his one room apartment from his small money priest sallary which at that time was hardly enough to pay his rent and for some food. He lived all his life renting an apartment with his own money, (something which was absolutely unthinkable), for a bishop of all Russian eparchies of Bulgaria at that times. Even during lifetime, he helped and turned a lot of people from the sinful ways leading to death, had a lot of spiritual children after him, he established a small nun monastery Kniajevo nearby Sofia. He also was one a fervent fighter against the cult of Dynovism (Danovism), started by anti-christian posing christian, Peter Dynov. St. Seraphim Sobolev was a fervent defender of Orthodoxy, freely showing up the delusions of Roman-Catholicism, Protestantism, Pentecostals, Baptism, Adventism and was strongly against the popular at that time united prayers between Orthodox and non-orthodox christian teachings. He is also an author of Theological literature who in details makes a comparison between Anglican Protestant Christianity and the Eastern Orthodoxy.
St Seraphim, denounced on a multiple occasions, the movement of ecumenism as being anti-christian and not in the spirit of the one Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, thus all his life and all his spiritual children were strongly trying to hold the Church teachings, was supporters of the celebration of Church feasts under the Julian calender, and was against the untroduction of the Gregorian Calendar – so called new Style calender in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
It has to be said that it is a bit of paradox that the canonization of st. Seraphim Sobolev was made by the Russian Church, as the Russian Orthodox Church, along with Romanian and Serbian and many other Orthodox Churches continues to be an active member in the Ecumenical Movement. Because of St. Seraphim Sobolev even to these days, there are a lot of Christians who continue to follow the old Julian Calendar feasts style, the so cold Old Calendarists.
The most notable work of st. Seraphim Sobolev in my humble opinion is the creation of Acathist of the Greatest Bulgarian Saint, Saint John of Rila.
Perhaps as a fervent fighter to keep the true teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church and his incessant labor for the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, God give him a blessed departure from earthly life to the saviour of mankind the Lord Jesus Christ on the Church feast day of Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy.
For the 66 years since his passing to Christ, each day on the grave of st. Seraphim Sobolev has been served a special service for co-memoration of the deceased and for forgiveness of his sins called in orthodox terminology Panihida, and the remembemrance of all the brothers and sisters in Christ who has departed from life.
The grave of Saint Seraphim Sobolev is situated in a small chapel (crypt) located in the center of Sofia, Bulgaria, Russian Orthodox Church, St. Nicolas. Even to this day people go daily on a big queues to ask the saint for help in hardships in life. The accepted way that people turn for prayer intercession is by writting their beseeches, needs, problems on a piece of paper and then dropping the small letter in a box called (Iashtik) Russian. I myself have been there and prayed and a lot of the things, I've asked the saint for my personal life and well being already come true. I know also of other people who by the prayers of the saint has been saved from a impossible to escape situations and a lot of people received spiritual confort and peace as well as spiritual healing when turning to the saint. Saint Seraphim Sobolev, pray the Lord Jesus Christ for us the sinful Bulgarians and all the suffering people around the world, for the refugees, for the sick for the hungry for the homeless and for all nations that we turn to repentance and come back to the way of salvation you Lord Jesus has shown to the nations.
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 Christwas 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).
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."
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.
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!"
"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 …"
If you happen to be in Belarus's capital Minsk and you're a Christian you would definitely will be interested to see the spiritual side of Belarus. I was in Minsk with my wife for a month and had the chance to go for a pilgrimage in st. Elisaberth's Orthodox Christian Convent.
In Belarus about 80% of population of population are Orthodox Christians with about 7% Catholics, some 4% protestants and 9% atheists. I'm Orthodox Christian myself so mostly I kept interest in exoeriencing Orthodox religion life there. The religious life in Belarus so deeply impressed me so I decided to even document it here.
I was in a couple of Orthodox Churches during the Great Lent first week attending afternoon (Great) Repentence services canon of St. Andrew of Crete. And was amazed how many people are religious in this God fearful country. All Churches where I was during the Great Canon or Holy Liturgy was so full of people that you cannot even enter the Church if you're late for the service. People attending were also very concentrated on the service and most of the people came to services bringing most of which holding a book with the Great Repentance Canon following the service and concentrated in praying and doing ground prostrations. One thing to note is Belarusian Orthodox Church is a sub-division of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), Belarusian doesn't have their own patriarch but are under the patriarchy of Russian and all Moscow patriarch – Kiril I.
Few weeks ago for Sunday of All Orthodoxy (Triumph of All orthodoxy) for Holy Liturgy service me and Svetlana with a close friend of her Tatyiana went to St. Elisabeth's Monastery. Monastery is named in honour of St. Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova – which is the last Russian Grand Princess of the Romanov family later executed with her husband and kids by Communists Bolsheviks, canonized by ROC in the 1990s.
The monastery as almost all Churches in Belarus is so full of people you cannot move (it seems in Russian Orthodox Church – there is an amazing spiritual awakening at the moment). I wanted to confess and even though I was in the Church building before beginning of the holy liturgy and there were two priests to confess the queue of people to confess was so long that confession lasted until the end of the Holy Liturgy. In order to able to confess I've waited on the "confession queue" for about 2 hours and a half. Even though Holy Liturgy completed confession continued and those who confessed after the Church service end was also offered the Holy Sacraments. Another stunning thing for me was the amount of young and obviously intelligent people who was in the Church – just to compare here in Bulgaria, seeing young people in most Churches and monasteries is a rare thing ..
Saint Elisabeth's Monastery is the only monastery situated in (very near 19 km away) fromMINSK on Vigotskogo 6 str. We reached the monastery by taking bus from regular Minsktrans (state's bus company) city bus nr. 26, other bus and trolley riding there are – bus 18 and trolley 33, 38, 55. Monastery was established in 1990 after dissolvement of USSR and is situatuated on a place where previously there was no church or a monastery. The SisterHood in monastery is enormous by size and consists nowadays of 7 Churches!!!
The main Church of the Monastery has saint relics from all around the known Orthodox Walls, to venerate all the saint relics you will need at least 20 minutes!! The Holy Relics of the monastery are so much that they remind me very much of Monasteries I've seen on Holy Mounth Athos. The spiritual father of the monastery is father Andreya Lemoshonka.
From ruromrs the sisterhood in monastery consists of about 120 sisters (and even maybe more), some of them are Nuns and others are the so called "Sisters of Mercy" (something like the "White Sisters" moveing in the Roman Catholic Church) – woman who deliberately decided to help the monastery often walking the streets shops and metro stations collecting charity for poor, sick and people in need. Sisters of mercy are something exception and seeing a lady dressed in white robes on the street or metro with a prayer book at hand is something rare to see in today's crazy materialistic world. Some of this kind sisters of mercy are novice nuns in the monastery and others are just worldly woman with family whom the monastery employes on a small renumeration.
The cloister is a unique place next to the majestic Church buildings, the monastery has a coffeteria where you can have a coffee / snacks or even a dinner after service, there is a Church shops full of icon and all kind of orthodox spiritual literature,a Christian games for kids (Orthodox Lotto, kids collapsible Churches from cardboards) as well as a food store with fasting and non-fasting food and even a shop for Christian clothing "Православная Одежда".
Orthodox Clothes Shop near St. Elizabeth's monastery Minsk
A Honey Store – St. Elizabeth Monastery Belarus
Orthodox Foodstore near St. Elizabeth Monastery Misnk
In one of the Churches there is a 3 floor tiny shop first floor sell icons, books and faith related things, monastic souvenirs and on the second floor there is a herbal pharmacy with healing herbs for almost all kind of physical and nervological disorders etc. Part of monastic life is the evening and morning service which occur everyday in the monastery. The spiritual father of a monastery Andreya Lemoshonka who is a married priest is also leading frequent lectures on faith and is often helping people coming to him for a spiritual advice, a problem or question related to faith. The Nuns are fasting each Monday, Wednesday and Friday – fasting also in Mondays even though this fasting day was only observed in ancient Church and in many Orthodox monasteries, Monday fastings (In veneration of Angels) is no longer observed – i.e. sisterhood life is very strict. Near the monastery is situated a Mental Hospital and one of the duties of nuns is to often visit the mentally sick there. The sisterhood helps orphanage homes and is bringing for Holy sacraments often a lot of sick children.
Part of monastery service is sheltering the homeless, alcoholics and drug addicts offering them encouragement and work in the small monastic farm. The monastery has also workshops where people with disability work in making gloves, icons, decorations, souvenirs embroided by hand. Near the monastery there is a wooden shop where one can order all kind of custom crafted wooden wardrobes, chairs or anything wooden you like for your home.
What I saw there make my heart joyful. It seems Minsk Monastery achieved something which is rarely seen in Orthodox world a symbiosis between Faith, charity and a monetary funding model that works. The monastery very much reminded me to an Orthodox movie Forpost and to the Godly initiate inBulgaria by father Ioan of Novi Khan who by his efforts, Gods help and the charity of hundreds of bulgarian takes care for about 150 homeless orphans in a monastery.
'Forpost' (Outpost) – What the Church Can Accomplish.
As a closure word I want say Thanks and Glory be to the Holy Trinity The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit! for blessing me to the pilgrimage journet to St. Elizabeth's monastery!
Today 17 of January in Bulgarian, Greek and Romanian Orthodox Church and those Churches which are using the so called New Church Calendar, celebrate the feast of our Holy Venerate Father Saint Anthony the Great. I have a special love or better to say saint Anthony has a special love for me. Saint Anthony is a father of the fathers and one of the most desert hermit monks. Saint Anthony was illiterate and poor in worldly knowledge but abundant in the science of sciences the knowledge of God. Today most of the society is completely educated and still most of people even among the highly educated rich in worldly knowledge are complete spiritual beggars. I myself am one of them. We're all filled with worldly wisdom, read and stay uneducated about the truth as the Holy Apostle says. But we have our Holy Father Saint Anthony by whose prayers still God shows mercy to us. Let by his holy prayers, we the highly literate of worldly knowledges attain faith and spiritual knowledge.
Saint Anthony The Great Troparion in Arabic – The father of desert fathers
Oh Holy Hermit Father Anthony pray the Lord our souls be saved !
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
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.
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.
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.
Abba (saint) Anthony the Great the father of Orthodox Christian Monastic Life
Coptic Orthodox Oriental Icon of Saint Anothony the Great – "the founder" of Monastic life
Tobias Old Testamential Story coptic icon
Holy Family – Flight into Egypt Coptic Orthodox oriental icon
Christ the Saviour – Coptic Oriental Orthodox icon
I’ve been an old times Metal head. The moment I accepted Jesus Christ as a Lord and Saviour and been visited by the Lord’s Holy Ghost grace, my life changed severely. I found out most of the metal bands, I used to be regularly listening to is against Christ and anti-christian in essence, I still however hold my love for Metal as my teenage years were dominated by Metal Music. Happily I found there is plenty of nice Metal music a Metal head could enjoy that are written for glorification of Christ and hence did not have the negative spiritual anti-christian charge that is so typical for a lot of the bads in the metal music world. Recently I’m not listening to as much music as few years from now but still every now and then I like playing some of my old Christian metal loved bands. I was maintaining a small list of Christian metal nice bands I found and playlisted on youtube. If you’re a metal geek you might enjoy my old christian metal playlist here 🙂.
I will end up this post with 2 videos of one very favourite Ukrainian Christian Metal band – Angel 7;
Angel 7 – Jesus the Saviour
Angel 7 – The Last Day
There are probably plenty of other nice Christian Metal sites and resources on the net; surely I’m missing a lot here? if you know some other good Christian Rock / Metal resources please drop a comment.
I've been thinking for a lot of time analyzing my already years ongoing passion for Free Software, trying to answer the question "What really made me be a keen user and follower of the ideology of the free software movement"? I came to the conclusion it is the sharing part of free software that really made me a free software enthusiast. Let me explain ….
In our modern world sharing of personal goods (physical goods, love for fellows, money, resources etc.) has become critically low.The reason is probably the severely individualistic Western World modern culture model which seems to give good economic results. Though western society might be successful in economic sense in man plan it is a big failure. The high standard in social culture, the heavy social programming, high level of individualism and the collapsing spirituality in majority of people is probably the major key factors which influenced the modern society to turn into such a non-sharing culture that is almost ruling the whole world nations today.
If we go back a bit in time, one can easily see the idea and general philosophy of sharing is very ancient in nature. It was sharing that for years helped whole societies and culture grow and mature. Sharing is a fundamental part of Christian faith and many other religions as well and has been a people gathering point for centuries. However as modern man is more and more turning to the false fables of the materialistic origin of man (Darwininsm), sharing is started seeing as unnecessary . Perhaps the decreased desire in people to share is also the reason why in large number people started being self-interest oriented as most of us are nowadays.
As we share less and less of our physical and spiritual goods, our souls start being more and more empty day after day. Many people, especially in the western best developed societies; the masses attitude towards sharing is most evidently hostile. Another factor which probably decreased our natural human desire to share is technocracy and changing of communication from physical as it used to be until few dacades to digital today.
The huge shift of communication from physical to digital, changes the whole essence of basic life, hence I believe at least the distorted sharing should be encouraged on the Internet (file movies and programs sharing) should be considered normal and not illegal.. I believe Using Free Software instead of non-free (proprietary) one is another thing through which we can stimulate sharing. If we as society appreciate our freedom at all and care for our children future, it is my firm conviction, we should do best to keep sharing as much as we can in both physical and digital sense.
As I've pointed earlier there is plenty of "secretly" kept and less known by public research on how colors influence us daily. The biggest companies are heavily taking advantage of what is found and known for colors impact on our minds (psyche). Actually there is a whole branch in psychology which deals with impact of colors perception on us.Besides companies, many modern governments are well aware of the many facts on how citizens percept colors and use this in color 'installment' in government offices and government institutions.
There is no universal knowledge on how colors completely affect us as every human on earth is very unique and saying this or that color has this or that impact on indivirual or group is not 100% accurate. However there are general traits nowdays formed especially with globalization and unification of TV ads and big companies corporate image, a unification started on how different nationality people perceive colors.
Nowdays in developed countries there are more and more people who perceive certain colors in similar fashion. Therefore every serious top marketer should carefully study colors and their relation with ancient time people believes and understanding on what each of the 'rainbow' colors symbolize. Most likely because there is no completely unified understanding of colors between various individuals may companies like Google and Microsoft started using all the rainbow colors in their basic company logos and branding for more on this topic please check my previous blog post Color trick Microsoft and Google use to keep their users loyal
Another large industry area, where color programming is very heavy is Computer and Video Games. You certainly still remember large portions of the games like Sega’s Sonic the HendgeHog or Mario Super Bros. or even the old arcade machines with games like Punisher or Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Street Fighter etc. All this old arcade games have a big portion of Color programming embedded in and this is one of the main reasons we remember them for a long time and playing them evoked such a strong feelings in youth.
This trend of using colors to make up our minds is being observed for many other physical goods as well as is starting to get more and more heavy adoption by websites branding on the internet. Actually those with most succesful businesses on the internet have already integrated some kind of color programming scheme. An example for this would be the Internet top domain names seller GoDaddy. The have adopted a green scheme as a primary color combined with some other ones to create in the customer a feeling of ecology, naturality, peace and solitude.
The study of color programming is one major field to be known by anyone truly willing to understand why certain big store chainslike Carrefour, Lidl, Billa, MediaMarkt – in western europe or TechnoMarket, TechnoPolis (MediaMarkt copied tech equipment by shops here in Bulgaria) are decorated inside the way they are. I personally didn't like the concept of color programming since from Spiritual point of view it is a big evil. Trying to manipulate people perception to do something you would like to in general is very evil from spiritual point of view. A mixture of rainbow colors in a natural environment for example flowers in the wood or wild mountain place is one thing, but making it artificial and placing it in certain pre-desired order is totally another. Besides that the colors in the natural environment are natural and therefore the impact on us even if colorful is very much better than if it is done with a certain intention like in the big supermarkets stores, fast just food companies – McDonalds, Burger King etc.
The research on color mind influcence – Color mind programming is a controversial science. Nowdays many big businesses however use this as a granted science, even whole business sects with some mambo-jambo believes universities, children garden and schools in modern countries have employed the use of some type of color programming aiming to influence their pupils, students (organizational members – you call it). Color mind programming and heavy use on advertisements on the TV, the Internet, Stores and mostly everywhere are however starting to took their tolls. The high increase in mental problems and dumbness in developed and some undeveloped countries as well as the increased number of people who go insane because of too much color programming is reality. The believe that mental programming is one of the ultimate tools to influence somebody and push him to do things you want like consome more of a product or generally consume (buy) more goods creates another severe issue it makes people to constantly over-consume (eat more than the body needs) and this increases the number of over-consumption evoked diseases …
But color programming doesn't stop with just the material (physical) surrounding world it is a concept highly employed in online based marketing. Online business is seen on so many top used websites, social networks like take for instance (facebook). It is so spread that even the software primary vendors like Microsoft, search engines Google Inc. have already heavily employed the color programming as a basis of their products.
There is another reason why most vendors nowdays issue their physical or 'virtual' products so colorful using all the colors of the rainbow. The reason is the fact that as a kids through animation, cartoons, toys and surrounding environment we have been exposed already even from our very youth age to a kind of color programming through kids toys we've been given by our parents). Hence the young years color programming became a basis for a future time color programming. The colorfulness of our kids years are already sub-consciously stored in our minds, so almost naturally there is a feeling of joy to pop-up once we see something childishly colorful.
One more year, we are into the great Lent and we're given the Grace to hear the Good tidings (Good News) handed down by Archangel Gabriel to our Virgin Lady (The Mother of God). We hear the GOOD NEWS that our Lord Jesus Christ is conceived immaculately and is to be born from the Holy Theotokos most pure body:
Here is a little part of the Gospel New Testamention reading from Luke for the day:
28 The angel went to her and said, Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
34 How will this be, Mary asked the angel, since I am a virgin?
35 The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.
37 For no word from God will ever fail.
38 I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. May your word to me be fulfilled. Then the angel left her.
This year, today's feast also coincides with the comemmoration of one great Church Father – Saint John (monk) Lestvichnik .
St. John Lestvichnik is honoured as one of our great ascetic saints across all Orthodox Christian dome. Actually Lestvichnik word (comes from ancient Bulgarian / ancient Slavonic) and is a title. st. John received the Lestvichnik title as his spiritual life was so high and up to God, like climbing from earth to Gods heavens.
The meaning of Lestvichnik is "of the Ladder". After his title name Lestvichnik was named also his greatest life work Lestvica, which translated to english means Ladder
Lestvica is a very popular ancient monks living rule (guidance text); "a true instruction for those following after invariably, and as such would be a ladder of affirmation, which would lead those wishing it to the Heavenly gates…"
Lestvica was written by st. John Lestvichnik, after a 40 years ascetic seclusion in (speachless solitude The monks spiritual instructions rules and advices work "The Ladder" bears the title Ladder described by st. John like so:
"I have constructed a ladder of ascent...
from the earthly to the holy...
in the form of the thirty years of age for the Lord's maturity, symbolically I have constructed a ladder of 30 steps, by which, having attained the Lord's age, we find ourselves with the righteous and secure from falling down".
The purpose of this work, is to teach – that the reaching of salvation requires difficult self-denial and demanding ascetic deeds. "The Ladder" presupposes, first; 1. a cleansing from the impurity of sin – the eradication of vices and passions in the old man; second;
2. the restoration in man of the image of God. – Although the book was written for monks, any christian living in the world can receive from it the hope of guidance for ascent to God as well as get a support for better spiritual life. The Monks Theodore the Studite(Comm. 11 November and 26 January), Sergei of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September and 5 July), Joseph of Volokolamsk (Comm. 9 September and 18 October), and others – in their instructions relied on "The Ladder" as an important book for salvific guidance.
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