During 1950s to 1953 I was a spiritual father at Neamt Seminary, the only monastic seminary in the country. I had 35 deacon students under me. One day I served the Divine Liturgy with a deacon, the oldest among them.
Just as I was preaching to them – by rule we had to say a 10 minutes sermon, to talk about the Holy Sacraments, which can appear in the form of bread or in the form of flesh or as a babe – the deacon was consuming the Holy Mysteries and thought to himself: “Is it really just as the father says?” and suddenly his mouth was filled with blood and flesh instead of bread and wine. He dropped the chalice over the proscomidiar and felt to the ground. I thought that he was ill. I was standing half a meter away from the altar’s door. He doubted! You see my dear, he wasn’t living in faith! “Can it even be as the father says…?!” So then, why are you preparing yourself for the priesthood?
This had happened twice in my life. Once at Sihastria and now at Neamt. My dear, know that God created two most wondrous things! He created a distinguished woman who gave birth to Christ, and He created the priesthood, which brings God from heaven to be born on the Holy Table!
Do you realize what the priesthood is! Make no distinction between one priest or another. Any confessor is able to forgive sins. Is not his worthiness that absolve you, but the grace of God in him. God gave this gift to the priest to absolve us from sins, from our awful and great falls and to unbound us forever.
Do you realize what possibilities to be saved does man have! Regardless of sins, a confessor should know and be happy when heavy sins are been told to him, because he saving a man from deep waters. He no longer scolds him of why he is wet. But rejoices that he drew him out of the water.
(From “The words of Elder Arsenie (Papacioc), 2nd edition by Sihastria Monastery Press”, translated form the Romanian)
More about Anghel Papacioc – the Archimandrite Arsenie
Anghel Papacioc, Macedonian in origin, had chosen since his youth, the path of serving God and his nation. For this “guilt” he will be imprisoned under three regimes – Carol the II, Antonescu’s and the communist regimes. Thus, in 1938 he is taken for few months in the concentration camp at Miercurea Ciuc. in 1941 he was arrested again and imprisoned at Aiud, and released in 1946. After been freed from the prison, he entered the monastic life, having as his godfather of monasticism, Father Petroniu Tanase (later the Abbot of Prodromu skit in Mount Athos). Then, Father Arsenie becomes a skilled spiritual confessor at Slatina Monastery, where he struggled together with Elder Cleopas and other blessed elders. From Slatina Monastery, he was arrested again in 1958 and sent to Aiud, receiving a sentence of 40 years (!). He is freed again, following the general amnesty decree from 1964. Since then, he served God incessantly before His Holy altars, praying for the world in the Monastery of Techirghiol. Elder Arsenie was a father full of joy and inner light, a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit.
I’m ready to die!
During the re-education process at Aiud, I was called one day into the colonel’ office. I was “well known” in the prison since I was a priest, and a monk. As I was walking in my pinstripe prison uniform, humbled so to speak, or at least humble in form, the Colonel asked me to explain to him if God exists.
I said, “Yes, sir, He does! our existence, our breath, our intelligence and reason, prove it … They are made by a big Master. They are not the result of chaos. Or who else could had made them!?”… And I went on with my explanation: “There are so many signs, Christ was incarnate and He was risen. Why don’t you believe?” …
It was a great deal of me daring to ask him this question. But I had to defend the Truth!
He said: “The war that burst in Russia in the name of the Cross, convinced me that there is no God.”
I replied: “What erupted in the name of the Cross, sir ?! That madman Hitler who wanted to conquer Russia believing that the Russians will give in?! How about before this war, why didn’t you believe?”.
Then he asked me: “What is your last argument?”
I said: “I am ready to die, for Him, sir! When he saw that he wasn’t prevailing over me, he started yelling, “Take him away from here!”
(from an Interview with Elder Arsenie Papacioc)
More from the words of Elder Arsenie
“An institution, as well as a nation, lives by those who gush forth, who carry the cross without failure. A great love for God requires a constant sacrifice. This world is not fallen, we are the guilty as we do not know how to love, we do not know to cherish it! What have we done for this world, if we’re speaking in terms of salvation? What have we done for this world in order to change it?!
This is what it will be required of us!”
“He, who flees from persecution, flees from God!…”
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strongly disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry, and imposes upon all States the responsibility to license and recognize such “marriages.”
The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.
As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from its inception, is the lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman. We call upon all Orthodox Christians in our nation to remain firm in their Orthodox faith, and to renew their deep reverence for and commitment to marriage as taught by the Church. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and uphold the deeply-rooted beliefs of millions of Americans.
A sermon almost providential given 2 weeks ago
Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country
No, the sky is not falling — not yet, anyway — but with the Supreme Court ruling constitutionalizing same-sex marriage, the ground under our feet has shifted tectonically.
It is hard to overstate the significance of the Obergefell decision — and the seriousness of the challenges it presents to orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now.
Discerning the meaning of the present moment requires sobriety, precisely because its radicalism requires of conservatives a realistic sense of how weak our position is in post-Christian America.
Thousands of pilgrims to the tomb of our Savior Jesus Christ have witnessed and received the Holy Light in Jerusalem today, April 11th 2015. The Holy Fire came down at 14:15 local time. The Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos the III together with hierarchy, priests and faithful surrounded in procession thrice the Holy Sepulcher. While they chanted “Oh Joyful Light”, the Patriarch undressed of his vestments, and after allowing himself to be searched by the police to prove that he is not carrying any device that can light up any candle inside the Holy Tomb, he entered into the Holy Sepulchre, and keeled before the marble slab covering the tomb, where an unlit candle and a prayer booklet for the invocation of the Holy Fire were waiting for him.
The Patriarch came out of the Holy Sepulchre caring the Holy Light and sharing it with the priests and the faithful that were waiting outside the Holy Sepulcher.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
The Holy Light is not simply a miracle. It is the wonder of wonders
Patriarch Irenaeus the Ist was ordained a deacon in Jerusalem in 1969 and held the patriarchal seat between 2001 and 2005. In a discourse we had in June 2009, he described very clearly those moments he lived as a patriarh during the ceremony of the Holy Light. The most important part of the dialogue that we had, is as follows:
– Your Beatitude, does the miracle take place after you finish reading the special prayer (the prayer for the invocation of the Holy Light) or during the prayer?
– Sometimes while I’m still saying the prayer.
– What happens in that moment?
– Suddenly, the entire tomb is filled with light. It is a pale blue light. It is a very moving moment, you lose yourself… It is a blue flame that fly and fills the entire Tomb … It is not easy to express it in words.
– How do the candle bundles you hold in your hands lit up?
– The moment I extol the four bundles of 33 candles each, they immediately ignite from the blue flame that spreads through the air. After few minutes the blue flame becomes a ordinary yellow flame.
– It is true that in those moments the Holy Fire does not burn?
– Indeed!. The Holy Fire does not burn at all in those first moments. During the time I attended the ceremony as a patriarch, no hair from my beard was ever burned. Unfortunately, there are those who mock this wonder. Among them are some with cassocks. As the iconoclasts once existed, so today we have the aghiofotomahii (those that fight against the Holy Fire). May God grant them repentance to cease to blaspheme against it. The Holy Light is not simply a miracle. It is the wonder of wonders.
From Haralambos K. Skarlakidis, The Holy Light. The miracle of Holy Saturday at the Tomb of Christ
In the ancient times, it was customary for the hermit’ monks who during Great Lent withdrew in the desert to fully dedicate themselves to prayer, to meet again on Palm Sunday at their hermitage in the Church to celebrate together the Passion Week and the Resurrection of our Lord. In memory of this old tradition on the eve of Palm Sunday at Vespers it is sung: Today the grace of the Holy Spirit gathered us together, and taking Thy cross, we sing: “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest!’ The byzantine choir: ,,Tropos” sings the idiom ,,Today the Grace of the Holy Spirit”, melos by Pétros Filanthídis, in the 6th tone:
In the Middle East, the Islamic State is crucifying Christians and demolishing ancient churches. Why is this being met with silence from the halls of US Congress to Sunday sermons?
Last August, President Barack Obama signed off on legislation creating a special envoy charged with aiding the ancient Christian communities and other beleaguered religious minorities being targeted by the Islamic State.
The bill was a modest one — the new position was given a budget of just $1 million — and the White House quietly announced the signing in a late-afternoon press release that lumped it in with an array of other low-profile legislation. Neither Obama nor any prominent lawmakers made any explicit public reference to the bill.
Seven months later, the position remains unfilled — a small but concrete example of Washington’s passivity in the face of an ongoing wave of atrocities against the Assyrian, Chaldean, and other Christian communities of Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State has razed centuries-old churches and monasteries, beheaded and crucified Christians, and mounted a concerted campaign to drive Christians out of cities and towns they’ve lived in for thousands of years. The Iraqi city of Mosul had a Christian population of 35,000 when U.S. forces invaded the country in 2003; today, with the city in the hands of the Islamic State, the vast majority of them have fled.
Every holiday season, politicians in America take to the airwaves to rail against a so-called “war on Christmas” or “war on Easter,” pointing to things like major retailers wishing shoppers generic “happy holidays.” But on the subject of the Middle East, where an actual war on Christians is in full swing, those same voices are silent. A push to use American aircraft to shield the areas of Iraq where Christians have fled has gone nowhere. Legislation that would fast-track visa applications from Christians looking to leave for the United States never even came up for a vote. The White House, meanwhile, won’t say if or when it will fill the special envoy position.
About 14 million children – more than the populations of Washington State and Massachusetts combined – are living every day with extreme violence, the hardships of displacement, and the mental aggression of extremist ideology, according to UNICEF, the United Nations agency charged with promoting the welfare.
“As Syrian civil war enters fifth year, the situation of more than 5.6 million children remains desperate” according to UNICEF
Hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi children have been displaced, along with their families, and now live in camps in unfamiliar places – Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt. For many, schooling is an opportunity of the past, leaving as the only options menial labor and, for growing numbers of girls, childhood marriage.
For many who do stay put, schooling now means an education in the ideology of the self-described Islamic State (IS), with lessons in intolerance of non-Muslims.
According to UNICEF, almost 2 million Syrian children live in areas where the humanitarian aid does not reach, and approximately 2.6 million children are no longer attending school.
For the youngest children, the crisis in Syria is all that they known; for adolescents, the violence and suffering have not only marked their past but they are shaping their future. […]
The UNICEF statements joins a long list of reports and cries of alarm from humanitarian officials and international children’s rights groups marking the fourth anniversary of the Syrian civil war, which began in March 2011.
That sense of deep failure by world powers and the international community has carried across many of the statements marking the Syrian anniversary.
With no end in sight to the fighting, the ranks of the 14 million children affected by conflict in Syria and Iraq will only grow, UNICEF says.
Great Britain has betrayed one of the few fundamental ethical principles that the world seemed to retain as intangible: the genetic identity of the human being.
Following the vote of both houses of the British Parliament, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11432058/Three-parent-babies-House-of-Lords-approves-law-despite-fears-children-could-be-sterile.html with its last bill passed in February, in vitro fertility clinics will now be able to carry out a procedure called “mitochondrial donation”.
The children created through such IVF procedure would thus have genetic material derived from three biological parents: a mother, a father and a female donor. This is to prevent the mother to “pass on” to her child a mitochondrial disease, which is genetically transmitted via female line. The procedure involves using a donor egg of which nucleus will be replaced by the egg nucleus taken from the mother. The modified egg is then fertilized in vitro with father’s sperm as seeing below:
The procedure is invasive and very risky – and it is unclear what effect this mitochondrial transfer will have on the child thus created or the subsequent generations. It has therefore unpredictable consequences.
By this new legislation, Great Britain betrays the global consensus on the inviolability of the human genome. The fact that human beings will be created by using selected genetic material from different people, is the first and most important step towards creating “custom children”.
As is always the case with this type of technological advances, the IVF industry uses extreme examples to produce empathy in order to advance their agenda (just as the proponents of legalizing abortion pushed forth cases of children resulted from rape or incest).
It is clear that, once the public shock caused by this absolute novelty will pass, the uses of genetic manipulation will extend to other diseases and cases.
No one in their full mental faculties can believe that the IVF industry has invested years of effort, funds and an assiduous lobby just to help some people suffering from a rare genetic disorder. It is obvious that the situation of mitochondrial diseases is only the first attempt to the inviolability of the human genome. Once this will be accepted, all legal restrictions will be removed, one by one.
A world where some can play with the genetic heritage of others, is a world where the respect for human dignity is completely annihilated. Babies obtained by a certain recipe, at the desire of some parents (which brings back to the idea that despite popular belief, there is no ” human right” to have children, in the legal meaning of the term).
The acceptance of this new technology is similar or even worse than accepting slavery. If a slave can release himself form the oppressors, a “fabricated child” will never be able to escape the genetic identity imposed by others.