ΑΝ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ ΠΡΙΝ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ, ΔΕ ΘΑ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ ΟΤΑΝ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ

(ΠΑΡΟΙΜΙΑ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΩΝ ΜΟΝΑΧΩΝ)

Σάββατο, 27 Μαΐου 2017

Σαββατόβραδο, ας θυμιατίσουμε...


Φωτο από εδώ

Ένα κλικ αγάπης, παρακαλώ, στα:

Ο "καπνός" της Εκκλησίας και οι καπνοί του κόσμου!...


Γιατί θυμιατίζουμε στην Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία
 

Απλές προτάσεις για υγεία, ευεξία, αρμονία & αιώνια ζωή!
   
Λιβάνι από μια γυναίκα με μεγάλη ανάγκη...
 
Γιατί ανάβουμε κεριά και καντήλια στην Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία; 

''Να είμαι και άγιος, να είμαι και «μάγκας»''!
   
Η μυρωδιά του λιβανιού...

Το κελλί μας διανυκτερεύει - Ποιοι προσεύχονται για μας απόψε;


Έφηβοι 

Για αύριο, Κυριακή:

Η θεία λειτουργία, παρουσίαση, υπότιτλοι, ερμηνευτικά
 

Αρχιμανδρίτου Ζαχαρία του Essex, Η θεία λειτουργία ως υποστατική προσευχή...

Όλες οι Κυριακές δεν είναι ίδιες…

Ο κόσμος γίνεται διαφορετικός όταν...


Κυριακή μετά την Ανάληψη & πριν την Πεντηκοστή: των αγίων Πατέρων της Α΄ Οικουμενικής Συνόδου:

Τι είναι οι Πατέρες της Εκκλησίας

Αγίου Νεκταρίου, Η 1η Οικουμενική Σύνοδος

Ο ρόλος του Αυτοκράτορα στην Α΄ Οικουμενική Σύνοδο

Άγιος Ανδρέας ο διά Χριστόν σαλός (28 Μαΐου)

 

St. John the Russian, the Free & Wonderworker Slave (May 27)


The New Confessor of Prokopion and Euboia Island
 
 Icon of St. John the Russian, the New Confessor, whose the holy Relics (all the body) are treasured in New Prokopi, Euboia (Euboea), Greece - Commemorated on May 27 (Icon from here)
  
Για τον άγιο (και όλους τους αγίους στις 26 & 27 Μαΐου) ελληνικά εδώ.
 
"The Holy Confessor John the Russian was born in Little Russia around 1690, and was raised in piety and love for the Church of God. Upon attaining the age of maturity he was called to military service, and he served as a simple soldier in the army of Peter I and took part in the Russo-Turkish War. During the Prutsk Campaign of 1711 he and other soldiers were captured by the Tatars, who handed him over to the commander of the Turkish cavalry. He took his Russian captive home with him to Asia Minor, to the village of Prokopion.

The Turks tried to convert the Christian soldiers to the Moslem faith with threats and flattery, but those who resisted were beaten and tortured. Some, alas, denied Christ and became Moslems, hoping to improve their lot. St John was not swayed by the promise of earthly delights, and he bravely endured the humiliation and beatings.

His master tortured him often in the hope that his slave would accept Islam. St John resolutely resisted the will of his master saying, "You cannot turn me from my holy Faith by threats, nor with promises of riches and pleasures. I will obey your orders willingly, if you will leave me free to follow my religion. I would rather surrender my head to you than to change my faith. I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian." 
 
(here)
   
St John's bold words and firm faith, as well as his humility and meekness, finally softened the fierce heart of his master. He left John in peace, and no longer tried to make him renounce Christianity. The saint lived in the stable and took care of his master's animals, rejoicing because his bed was a manger such as the one in which the Savior was born.

From morning until late evening the saint served his Turkish master, fulfilling all his commands. He performed his duties in the winter cold and summer heat, half naked and barefoot. Other slaves frequently mocked him, seeing his zeal. St John never became angry with them, but on the contrary, he helped them when he could, and comforted them in their misfortune.

The saint's kindness and gentle nature had its effect on the souls of both the master and the slaves. The Agha and his wife came to love him, and offered him a small room near the hayloft. St John did not accept it, preferring to remain in the stable with the animals. Here he slept on the hay, covered only by an old coat. So the stable became his hermitage, where he prayed and chanted Psalms.
St John brought a blessing to his master simply by living in his household. The cavalry officer became rich, and was soon one of the most powerful men in Prokopion. He knew very well why his home had been blessed, and he did not hesitate to tell others.

Sometimes St John left the stable at night and went to the church of the Great Martyr George, where he kept vigil in the narthex. On Saturdays and Feast days, he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

During this time St John continued to serve his master as before, and despite his own poverty, he always helped the needy and the sick, and shared his meager food with them.
 
(here)

One day, the officer left Prokopion and went to Mecca on pilgrimage. A few days later, his wife gave a banquet and invited her husband's friends and relatives, asking them to pray for her husband's safe return. St John served at the table, and he put down a dish of pilaf, his master's favorite food. The hostess said, "How much pleasure your master would have if he could be here to eat this pilaf with us." St John asked for a dish of pilaf, saying that he would send it to his master in Mecca. The guests laughed when they heard his words. The mistress, however, ordered the cook to give him a dish of pilaf, thinking he would eat it himself, or give it to some poor family.

Taking the dish, St John went into the stable and prayed that God would send it to his master. He had no doubt that God would send the pilaf to his master in a supernatual manner. The plate disappeared before his eyes, and he went into the house to tell his mistress that he had sent the pilaf to his master. 
 
The copper plate which St. John miraculously sent to Mecca, still treasured by his church in Evia (source)
 
After some time, the master returned home with the copper plate which had held the pilaf. He told his household that on a certain day (the very day of the banquet), he returned from the mosque to the home where he was staying. Although the room was locked, he found a plate of steaming pilaf on the table. Unable to explain who had brought the food, or how anyone could enter the locked room, the officer examined the plate. To his amazement, he saw his own name engraved on the copper plate. In spite of his confusion, he ate the meal with great relish.

When the officer's family heard this story, they marveled. His wife told him of how John had asked for a plate of pilaf to send to his master in Mecca, and how they all laughed when John came back and said that it had been sent. Now they saw that what the saint had said was true (Compare the story of Habakkuk, who miraculously brought a dish of pottage to Daniel in the lions' den [Dan. 14:33-39], in the Septuagint). 
 
St. John the Russian receiving Holy Communion hidden in an apple (here)
   
Toward the end of his difficult life St John fell ill, and sensed the nearness of his end. He summoned the priest so that he could receive Holy Communion. The priest, fearing to go to the residence of the Turkish commander openly with the Holy Gifts, enclosed the life-giving Mysteries in an apple and brought them to St John.

St John glorified the Lord, received the Body and Blood of Christ, and then reposed. The holy Confessor John the Russian went to the Lord Whom he loved on May 27, 1730. When they reported to the master that his servant John had died, he summoned the priests and gave them the body of St John for Christian burial. Almost all the Christian inhabitants of Prokopion came to the funeral, and they accompanied the body of the saint to the Christian cemetery.

Icon of the Dormition of St. John the Russian (here)
     
Three and a half years later the priest was miraculously informed in a dream that the relics of St John had remained incorrupt. Soon the relics of the saint were transferred to the church of the holy Great Martyr George and placed in a special reliquary. The new saint of God began to be glorified by countless miracles of grace, accounts of which spread to the remote cities and villages. Christian believers from various places came to Prokopion to venerate the holy relics of St John the Russian and they received healing through his prayers. The new saint came to be venerated not only by Orthodox Christians, but also by Armenians, and even Turks, who prayed to the Russian saint, "Servant of God, in your mercy, do not disdain us." 
 
(here)

Once, the Turks had sacked the church with St. John's body while it was in in Asia Minor. They then proceeded to throw the Saint's body into the fire to burn it. However, they soon saw the Saint appear as if he were alive and arise and walk amidst the flames; the Turks then fled in fear. This is the reason that the Saint's body is darkened to this day from the smoke of the flames. However, it nonetheless remained utterly incorrupt and wonderworking. (here)

(here)
   
[In 1878, Fr. Andrew, a monk from the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos, made a pilgrimage to Prokopion to pray before the relics of St. John. When he arrived he venerated the Saint with great joy, and remained in the village for some time. On his way to Constantinople he travelled with six coaches of Turkish merchants from Anatolia, also on their way to the capital. As they reached a rutted and desolate part of the road, the monk's coach and one other slowed down to avoid mishap, while the rest went on ahead. Suddenly, a young man on a red horse appeared on a low hill near Fr. Andrew's coach, waving his hand and shouting, "Turn back! Robbers have captured your companions!" As soon as he sounded the warning, he vanished from in front of their eyes.
The two coaches immediately turned back, and although pursued by the robbers, they escaped unharmed. Fr. Andrew hastened to the nearest village, where he continued his journey in the company of Turkish soldiers. At a country inn where they spent the night, he met his former merchant-companions, who told him that the thieves had not only taken their money, but even their clothes, and they were amazed that the last two coaches had escaped unharmed. Fr. Andrew related the appearance of the youth, and they all glorified God, understanding that it was the Saint himself who had saved the monk after his pilgrimage to Prokopion. (here)]
  
In the year 1881 a portion of the relics of St John were transferred to the Russian monastery of the holy Great Martyr Panteleimon by the monks of Mount Athos, after they were miraculously saved by the saint during a dangerous journey.

[Another source mentions the that the Saint's "missing" right hand was transferred to the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos. One pious desire of St. John was to go to the Holy Mountain, but he was unable to do so in life. After his death he appeared to a priest from there, and told him to seek out his right hand, which was separated on its own, and to bring it to Mount Athos. Thus after death, a part of him could reside there. (amateur translation of text from here]
  
Construction of a new church was begun in 1886, through the contributions of the monastery and the inhabitants of Prokopion. This was necessary because the church of the holy Great Martyr George, where the relics of St John were enshrined, had fallen into disrepair.

On August 15, 1898 the new church dedicated to St John the Russian was consecrated by the Metropolitan John of Caesarea, with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch Constantine V.

In 1924, an exchange of the populations of Greece and Turkey took place. Many Moslems moved out of Greece, and many Christians moved out of Turkey. The inhabitants of Prokopion, when they moved to the island of Euboia, took with them part of the relics of St John the Russian.

For several decades the relics were in the church of Sts Constantine and Helen at New Prokopion on Euboia, and in 1951 they were transferred into a new church dedicated to St John the Russian. Thousands of pilgrims flocked here from all the corners of Greece, particularly on his Feast, May 27. St John the Russian is widely venerated on Mount Athos, particularly in the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon.

St John's help is sought by travelers, and by those transporting things." (taken from here)
  
Icon of St. John the Russian (Icon courtesy of here used with permission)
  
Wonderworker
"The Venerable Ivan shows a special love for children through the many miracles bestowed upon them by Christ. With visible intervention, many times he saved children from certain death during earthquakes when roofs fell on to children during school hours at Prokopi and in Athens at the Holy Umercenaries (Aghi Anargyri) some years ago. He also saved countless children from terrible diseases and other calamities.

Even his help and benefaction to adults is not limited! Whole streams of miracles have been bestowed upon them as well! Deaf and dumb are able to hear and speak! Paralysed are able to walk in good health! Blind see again! Cardiopathics return to their former strength! Cancer sufferers are healed! A certain woman from Cyprus bent over due to a spinal problem so that her head reached her knees, like the one in the Gospel, was healed a few years ago immediately she donned the belt of the Saint. This miracle was made known widely by the Press. A non-believer physician (who at one time, with great disrespect, had called the relics of the Saint a "mummy"), was healed from an incurable and terminal illness when the humble Saint appeared to him and said, "I am he whom you called the 'mummy', and I heal you by the Grace of my Lord Jesus Christ"! Demoniacs are freed from the demons that possess them! Saddened people are comforted! Disillusioned people find hope! Weakened people are supported! Disbelievers become believers! Pious people are strengthened in their piety! The name of God is constantly glorified because of the small-framed slave boy from Russia. This was the suffering stable-hand who lived as a slave without slavery, voluntarily poor, unimportant, dressed in ragged clothing, obedient, but firm though in his holy Orthodox Christian Faith, having the "Slava tebie Bozhie" (Glory to you God) constantly coming from his mouth!" (taken from here)
  
St. John the Russian, with scenes from his life (here)

"SOME MIRACLES OF SAINT JOHN
 
The Saint performed many wonders even after his blessed repose. A descendent of the Agha told many of the following miracle: "My children would not live except for a short time, and would die while yet infants. Their unfortunate mother, after she had lost hope in the wisdom of medicine, fled without my knowledge to the relics of the slave John, so that be might grant her a little child which would not die while yet young, so that we also might rejoice to see it as a young man or even a young girl .... In truth the righteous John heard the supplication of my wife. God granted us a strong little boy whom we called, as you know, Kole Guvan Oglu (that is, "Son of the Slave John"), and he lives through the power of God and the prayers of John even until today."

Several times St. John has appeared in dreams and visions warning of impending dangers. Once he warned some Greek school children that the roof was about to fall; they had time enough to jump underneath their desks and when the roof fell, its beams came down upon the desks without striking even one of the children.

More recently we have heard about the miraculous healings of two severe cases of meningitis – one a 19 year old shepherd boy in southern Greece and the other a 3-year old boy in London.

Today a part of the right hand of St. John is enshrined in a special silver reliquary in the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston [Old Calendar, HOCNA], where many people come to venerate it and to ask the prayers of this simple Confessor of the Christian faith, knowing that the Lord – Who resisteth the proud – hears speedily the prayers of the meek." (taken from here)
  
Many faithful walk 40 kilometers in the grace of the Saint
Holding a bottle of water and a towel to wipe the sweat, hundreds are the faithful who go by foot to Prokopi [Evia] to celebrate St. John the Russian. Here for two days, the center road from Chalkida to Prokopi is filled with the faithful who walk to go to the Righteous Saint. The distance is about 40 kilometers, and many walk this every year. The power of faith is great, as are the miracles of the Saint.
(here)
  
For more miracles of St. John the Russian, see: here and here.
  
For a video of the house and local church of the Saint in Prokopi, Asia Minor, see: here.
  
Deisis with Christ, the Theotokos and St. John the Russian (http://saintjohntherussian.blogspot.com/)
  
Elder Iakovos and St. John
"Elder Iakovos Tsalikis would regularly visit the Shrine of St. John the Russian in Evia.

He said: "Once, I saw the Saint alive inside of his reliquary. I asked him: "My Saint, how did you live in Asia Minor, what virtues and blessings did you have?

The Saint responded to me: "I slept in the cave in which was the stable and covered myself with straw to take cover in the winter so I wouldn't freeze. I had humility and faith."

In a short while he said to me: "Wait, Fr. Iakovos, because now two people have come to pray for a sick child. Wait until I go help him."

Immediately the reliquary appeared empty, because the Saint left. In a short while, he returned, though I didn't see how he did, but I saw him inside his reliquary like a [living] man!"
(amateur translation of text from here)
  
Icon of St. John the Russian (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

Apolytikion of St. John the Russian He that hath called thee from earth unto the heavenly abodes doth even after thy death keep thy body unharmed, O righteous one; for thou wast carried off as a prisoner into Asia wherein also, O John, thou didst win Christ as thy friend. Wherefore do thou beseech him that our souls be saved.

Kontakion The holy memory, O righteous father, of thine illustrious contests hath come today gladdening the souls of those who venerate thee with reverence and faith, O John.
(taken from: here)
 
   The full service to St. John the Russian (in Greek) is available here, with the Akathist here and the Engomia (Lamentations) here.
 
St. John the Russian, the New Confessor (here)
 
See also  
 

Ημερίδα: «Ταυτότητα φύλου - Μία διεπιστημονική προσέγγιση», Αθήνα, Κυριακή 28 Μαΐου 2017



Ο Τομέας Επιστημόνων του Συλλόγου «Ο Μέγας Βασίλειος»,
η Χριστιανική Ένωση Επιστημόνων, η Χριστιανική Ένωση Εκπαιδευτικών Λειτουργών, ο Σύλλογος «Απόστολος Παύλος »,
η Ανωτάτη Συνομοσπονδία Πολυτέκνων Ελλάδος και η Ενωμένη Ρωμηοσύνη
σας προσκαλούν
να τιμήσετε με την παρουσία σας την Ημερίδα με θέμα:
«Ταυτότητα φύλου - Μία διεπιστημονική προσέγγιση»
το οποίο θα πραγματοποιηθεί:
  στην Αθήνα
την Κυριακή 28 Μαΐου 2017,
στο Αμφιθέατρο του Πολεμικού Μουσείου Αθηνών,
οδός Βασ. Σοφίας και Ριζάρη 2 

 Μέσα από την Τράπεζα Ιδεών μπορείτε να παρακολουθήσετε τη ροή του Συνεδρίου (βιντεοσκοπήσεις, εισηγήσεις, ανακοινώσεις, πορίσματα κλπ).

"Ν": Τις θέσεις μας για την ομοφυλοφιλία μπορείτε να δείτε εδώ. Ενότητα στο blog μας εδώ. Επισκεφθείτε επίσης, παρακαλώ, το ιστολόγιο omofylofilia.gr.
Ευχαριστώ.

Παρασκευή, 26 Μαΐου 2017

Ιησούς Χριστός: πιο γλυκός από μέλι, πιο άφωνος από ψάρι...



Γιατί μετά την ανάστασή του ο Κύριος έφαγε μέλι και ψάρι ενώπιον των μαθητών Του;
Επειδή αυτά είχαν και Του τα πρόσφεραν, είναι η απλή και άμεση απάντηση. Όμως δίδεται και μια θεολογικότερη συμβολική σημασία, που περιλαμβάνεται στο άρθρο 10 ερωτήσεις για την Αναληψη και εδώ την αναδημοσιεύουμε από τον ιστότοπο της Ορθόδοξης Μητρόπολης Ζάμπιας και Μαλάουι, της Αφρικής.
Είναι γνωστό ότι τους ζήτησε φαγητό για να τους αποδείξει ότι είναι άνθρωπος με σάρκα και οστά και όχι μόνο πνεύμα. Για τη λεπτομέρεια των εδεσμάτων, διαβάζουμε:
41 ἔτι δὲ ἀπιστούντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς καὶ θαυμαζόντων εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἔχετέ τι βρώσιμον ἐνθάδε;
42 οἱ δὲ ἐπέδωκαν αὐτῷ ἰχθύος ὀπτοῦ μέρος καὶ ἀπὸ μελισσίου κηρίου,
43 καὶ λαβὼν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν ἔφαγεν. 


41 Επειδή, λοιπόν, αυτοί ακόμα απιστούσαν από τη χαρά τους και θαύμαζαν, τους είπε: «Έχετε κάτι φαγώσιμο εδώ;»
42 Εκείνοι του έδωσαν μέρος από ψάρι ψητό και κηρήθρα από μέλι.
43 Και αφού τα έλαβε μπροστά τους, τα έφαγε.
Στο σημερινό Ευαγγέλιον της Εορτής ακούμε ότι ζήτησε και έφαγε ο Χριστός «ιχθύος οπτού μέρος και από μελισσίου κηρίου», δηλ. ένα κομμάτι από ψητό ψάρι και από κηρύθρα με μέλι (Λουκ. 24:42). Γιατί αναφέρεται η λεπτομέρεια αυτή; Κατά την εκκλησιαστική παράδοση, η λεπτομέρεια αυτή είχε πολύ σπουδαία αλληγορική σημασία.
Όσον αφορά στο ψάρι, γνωρίζουμε ότι αν και ζει μέσα στην αλμυρή θάλασσα, το σώμα του δεν είναι αλμυρό, αλλά γλυκό. Κατά παρόμοιο τρόπο και ο Χριστός, που έζησε μέσα στην ‘αλμυρή θάλασσα της αμαρτίας’ του κόσμου τούτου, «αμαρτίαν ουκ εποίησε, ουδέ ευρέθη δόλος εν τω στόματι αυτού», δηλ. δεν έκανε καμιά αμαρτία, ούτε ξεστόμισε τίποτε το δόλιο (Ησ. 53:9).
Επίσης, ο Χριστός παρέμεινε πιο άφωνος και από το ψάρι όταν υπέστη το σωτήριο πάθος του και δέχτηκε τα ανήκουστα εκείνα βασανιστήρια και ακατανόμαστους υβρισμούς.

Όσον αφορά στο μέλι και στο κερί, γνωρίζουμε ότι το μέλι είναι γλυκό και το κερί φωτιστικό, γι’ αυτό και θεωρούνται σαν σύμβολα της πνευματικής ηδονής και του φωτισμού που μεταδίδει στους πιστούς ο Χριστός μετά την Ανάστασή του. Επίσης, συμβολίζουν, το μεν πρώτο την θεραπεία της μεγάλης πίκρας της αμαρτίας την οποία συμβολίζει η χολή που του δόθηκε στο πάθος του, το δε δεύτερο, την διάλυση του πηκτού σκοταδιού της αμαρτίας την οποία συμβολίζει το σκοτάδι που έγινε κατά την σταύρωσή του.

"Ν": Η εικ. με την κηρήρθα είναι από αυτό το άρθρο (θα το βάλουμε κι εμείς κάποια στιγμή) που δείχνει περιπτώσεις όπου οι μέλισσες άφησαν ακάλυπτα τα πρόσωπα των αγίων πλάθοντας κηρήθρες πάνω σε ιερές εικόνες.

Mad Max & Orthodox Christianity!


Click:

LIVE, BEYOND THE LIMITS!
The Way - An introduction to the Orthodox Faith  
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
 

Let no-one fear death!
Two Deaths
False Black: Gothic Orthodox? 
LOVERS OF TRUTH: THE LIFE OF HIEROMONK SERAPHIM ROSE
Lover of Truth: St John, The Wonderworker of San Francisco
Photo from here

Magazine "Death to the World", Punk & Orthodoxy in USA (site)
Travelers on the Way to the Light
The holy anarchists
Klaus Kenneth, the spiritual traveler

We and the spirits of the departed
Why’s the smile of elder Joseph of Vatopedi from eternity?
Death! Death! DEATH!
Death is Unnatural
A revelation on the torments of hell to St. Makarios the Great
Bones, Bodies and Belief

New martyrs 

The ancient Orthodox Christian faith, in the Land of the Southern Cross (Orthodoxy in Australia)
Aboriginal Parish in Australia
On Alan from Australia in India
The 'Death' of Anita Phillips from Australia

 
Photo from here (see here)

Πέμπτη, 25 Μαΐου 2017

Φτου, ξελευτερία ή "αυθαιρεσίες" στην Ανάληψη



Αφού είδε τους φίλους Του, αφού έδειξε τις πληγές Του -για να μην πουν πως όνειρο ήταν η Αγάπη που σταυρώθηκε- αφού η Μάνα Του αγαλλίασε την εγκατάλειψη του τάφου, αφού το Φως πλανήθηκε πάνω στα αξημέρωτα της γης και ειρήνεψε το μέσα των όντων στην ωριμασμένη ελπίδα της αυγής, μπήκε σε ένα σύννεφο και έφυγε για την οικία των ουρανών, για τον Πατέρα.
Τον έβλεπαν που ανέβαινε. Έμεινε όμως πίσω το Φως για να μην ξανασκοτεινιάσει ο κόσμος.
Θα Τον ξαναδούμε.
Θάρθει πάλι σε σύννεφο τυλιγμένος, με τους αγγέλους, να αναζητήσει αυτούς που δεν αρνήθηκαν το Φως, αλλά και όσους αυτομόλησαν στο σκοτάδι που έφτιαξαν οι άνθρωποι που μίσησαν το Φως.

Ο βασιλεύς της Δόξης είναι δικός μας πια... Οικείος, με παντοτινά τα σημάδια των καρφιών, τα σημάδια της αγάπης.
Όσοι κρυφτήκαμε στο σκοτάδι, ας κάνουμε ένα γρήγορο τρεχαλητό να προλάβουμε να καβαλήσουμε μιαν αχτίδα πριν έρθει Εκείνος, καθώς το Φως είναι ο μόνος προορισμός και μετά φτου ξελευτερία! (Τι και πώς)

Ένα κλικ αγάπης, παρακαλώ, στα:


Απόδοση του Πάσχα: Κάθε τι στη ζωή κρίνεται από την απόδοσή του

Απόδοση του Πάσχα: Κάθε τι στη ζωή κρίνεται από την απόδοσή του (+ βίντεο)

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Τετάρτη, 24 Μαΐου 2017

Utah Mormons, Protestants Finding New Spiritual Home in Ancient Orthodox Church

 


by Bob Mims
Journey to Orthodoxy
 
Utah Mormons and Protestants are rediscovering a reverence for God by converting to Orthodoxy.

It shook the fundamentalist Christian world to its roots: Hank Hanegraaff, the darling of evangelicals as host of the long-running, nationally syndicated “Bible Answer Man” broadcast, had joined the Greek Orthodox Church.
Hanegraaff, for nearly 30 years president of the Christian Research Institute, an evangelical apologetics ministry, also has written 20 books opposing purported cults and heresies and non-Christian faiths. If ever evangelicals had a doctrinal superhero, Hanegraaff was he.
But on Palm Sunday, in a video released via social media, there was the 67-year-old Hanegraaff kneeling for “Holy Chrismation” — a rite of anointing with oil accompanying baptism — inside St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church of Charlotte, N.C.
Within days, Bott Radio Network, a 107-station strong, evangelical broadcasting empire, severed its longstanding relationship with him; other critics proclaimed Hanegraaff had somehow betrayed true Christianity.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he countered in a broadcast shortly after he, his wife, Kathy, and two of their 12 children became Orthodox. “Nothing has changed in my faith. … I have fallen ever more in love with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
There are no authoritative statistics available, but anecdotally, at least, it appears Hanegraaff is hardly alone in finding a spiritual home in the world’s oldest — and Orthodox believers insist the first and most faithful — Christian fellowship.
That certainly is the case for Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Christian Church in downtown Salt Lake City. The Rev. Justin Havens says the church, located in a former Jewish synagogue at 355 S. 300 East, had fewer than 100 worshippers when he became its priest nine years ago.
“We have almost tripled in size since then,” Havens says. “I would say 60 percent or more of our parish is made up of converts. About half of those are former LDS [Mormons], and the rest are former Protestants and evangelicals, along with a few former Catholics and Episcopalians.”
Havens — himself a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, having been raised Presbyterian — says the congregational growth has left his tiny church “packed to the gills.”
On Easter Sunday, more than 500 worshippers stood for prayers, liturgical chants, the Eucharist and sermon.
Orthodox Christians traditionally stand throughout worship, but this was different: Parishioners were elbow to elbow, the crowd spilling out of the nave and down the stairs.
While maintaining their current home in Salt Lake City, the congregation hopes to build a larger church nearer to the line between Salt Lake and Utah counties, where many parishioners live. 

‘Stagnant in my faith’

Suzanne and Bruce Plympton, who drive in from West Jordan on Sundays, are among the former Mormons who found there way to Sts. Peter and Paul. Other converts have found solace in sister Greek, Russian, Serbian and other Orthodox churches in Utah.
“We were baptized [into Orthodoxy] nine years ago,” Suzanne says, noting her spiritual search first took her from Mormonism to an evangelical Christian church, where she served as a children’s minister and church secretary.
“I was stagnant in my faith. I had always believed in God, but it wasn’t changing my life; I wanted to grow closer to him,” the mother of four adult children recalls. “Ironically, my sister and her family had discovered Orthodoxy while preparing for a [Protestant] mission to Russia.”
Encouraged by her sister, Suzanne began visiting area Orthodox services. It was a cultural shock — in one case, the service was all in Greek, and the traditional liturgical worship was a far cry from the laid-back, contemporary-music-laced, nonliturgical evangelical atmosphere.
“At first, I didn’t understand a thing. But I kept studying it; I had always wanted to know the truth,” she says. “I realized the Orthodox Church had been around for 2,000 years, had carefully guarded their theology and had not allowed popular beliefs to change them.”
For five years, she and her husband visited and studied Orthodoxy before deciding on Sts. Peter and Paul.
“The church that Christ established, that I had been seeking, has always been here,” Suzanne says. “I’m part of the body of Christ, and it’s so deep your feet never hit the bottom; there’s so much to learn and experience.”
For Rick Scouler, baptism by Havens in 2012 came after several decades within the Pentecostal/charismatic movement.
“Over the years, I became less convinced in how [worship] was expressed. So much of it was based on emotion,” the 64-year-old real estate appraiser recalls. “Emotion’s not a bad thing . . . but it seemed Christ had become way too familiar. Instead of awe and reverence, to me, it seemed it was just too easygoing and relaxed.”
Then, during a visit with friends, Scouler and his wife, Marie, met “Father Justin.” They struck up a friendship that led to discussions over coffee and, eventually, a regimen of extensive reading about what the original New Testament church was like in beliefs and worship.
They began attending Sts. Peter and Paul.
Still, some aspects of Orthodox Christian worship can be overwhelming to newcomers. Along with the myriad icons and murals of saints, worshippers can seem constantly on the move amid the sweet smell of incense, singing psalms and praying a voluminous liturgy accompanied by frequent genuflection.
Then, there’s the idea of soliciting the prayers of saints, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. To Protestants and especially evangelicals and Pentecostals, the concept of “Holy Mary, Mother of God” is foreign, if not heretical.
“It seemed so ‘Catholic,’ you know? But then we understood it was not worshipping her, but giving her honor,” Scouler says. “One thing I like about Orthodox worship is [it emphasizes] God’s majesty. There is honor given that is, after all, quite fitting for God.
“It’s like I’m home, like I’ve got my faith back; the awe of it all is back,” he adds. “I’ve got that real desire to serve [God] and please him.”
Quest for truth

Cameron Davis, who now attends South Ogden’s Transfiguration (Greek) Orthodox Church, says studying Christian history was an important factor in his 2014 conversion.
The 30-year-old father of two, who holds philosophy and political science degrees from Utah State University, concedes that he is
“by nature skeptical, second-guessing, and slow to make decisions; so my conversion to Orthodoxy was a pretty sober development.”
While the richness of liturgy and worship in an Orthodox setting is often cited as spiritually fulfilling, Davis — while acknowledging such benefits — characterizes his conversion as more about “what is and isn’t true” about such things as the Trinity, the nature of God and other doctrines he found at odds with Mormonism.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in preaching that the prophet Joseph Smith “restored” the original Christianity, is one of a long, well-populated line of movements seeking to do the same since the Great Schism tore the faith’s Western and Eastern branches asunder in A.D. 1054.
Now, Davis believes that foundational first-century Christianity has never disappeared, and that its home is the
“Orthodox Christian spiritual tradition [he found] more beautiful and compelling in light of my reading of history and theology.”
The Great Schism not only ripped the Roman Catholic Church from Eastern Orthodoxy over such issues as papal authority, creedal changes and the nature of the afterlife, but it also led to further fracturing through the centuries. The 16th century’s Protestant Reformation split the Roman church, and then the reformers further divided into competing denominations. Today, the World Christian Database notes, the “body of Christ” has splintered into no less than 9,000 denominations — each, to varying degrees, purporting to restore the purer, ancient faith founded by the first generation of believers.
Havens understands the hunger for the truth and does not judge believers who continue their search elsewhere along the denominational continuum.
But the former special-education teacher, raising seven children with wife Seraphima, has found his peace — and purpose. It wasn’t always so. After leaving behind his Protestant upbringing, Havens says his search for spiritual truth was at times agonizing.
“I went through hell,” he recalls. “I was never an atheist, but I went through a time of confusion. There were so many denominations, often with diametrically opposed ideas.”
Through prolonged study and reflection, Havens discovered the Orthodox Church and sustaining traditions built by communities of “ancient Christians [who] were serious about their faith,” even to the point of a martyr’s death.
“You can’t do it on your own,” he says. “It’s an everyday thing, touching everything you do; it is living, breathing and alive.”

See also

Mormonism / "LDS" Church & Orthodox Church - The Orthodox Church in Utah 
Μορμονισμός & Ορθοδοξία  
Orthodox Reformed Bridge - Ορθόδοξη γέφυρα προς τον προτεσταντισμό 
Pentecostalism and charismatic movement in Africa
Travelers on the Way to the Light
The Way - An introduction to the Orthodox Faith  
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
LIVE, BEYOND THE LIMITS!


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