He Had to Bury His Own Son

 

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+DANIEL reposed on Sunday, June 11, 2017, while trying to swim across the Spree river near the Ebertbrücke, 10117 Berlin. He was on a college trip, studying abroad.

 

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“Until the resurrection, son.” His father, Father Seraphim Holland

May God hear his prayer and send comfort!

This beautiful young man, Daniel Holland, died tragically at the age of 20. Listen here  to the words of love, life, and hope, offered by his father, Priest Seraphim Holland, at his funeral service,where he had to bury his own son. These 20 minutes could turn out to be life-changing for you.

At the funeral for Daniel: about his deep heart and how and why we pray for the dead, and how to properly keep his memory.

http://www.orthodox.net/ser…/funeral_2017+daniel-holland.mp3

How and why Orthodox pray for the dead
The deep heart

SYNOPSIS:Remarks at the funeral of Daniel Holland (+Sunday of All Saints, 2017), from his

father. His deep heart, and how and why we pray for the dead, and how we should

remember him. It is with actions, not words.

 

In memory of +Daniel, our son/brother/uncle/friend and for those in need
 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fit5c573wxrpsh5/dyptichs-daniels-list.doc?dl=

 

 

 

 

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Auld Reekie Sailtír

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“Holiness in the Bible” Study Weekend: Highlights (II)

Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist

Orthodox Community of St Andrew the Apostle in Edinburgh

 

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What follows is a small antidoron (*) for all the blessings I tasted in this retreat! I have already made up my mind that I will be going back to this parish on the regular! Thanks for having us St Andrew’s parish! 

Friday 20/1/2017

6pm arrival and registration, though I did not make it on time, as the weather was unexpectedly fair and bright, and Edinburgh sightseeing was irresistible. Famous for its medieval skyline and whisky trails, this is a city with plenty to see and do, even for a little hermit 🙂 I tried to take in as much as I could the colorful views from atop Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat, enjoyed a crisp seaside stroll along Portobello Beach, wandered the historic Royal Mile, and dashed to the parish, as I was late 🙂  Sighteseeing photos at the end of the post (*)

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This delightful and diverse community is a Panorthodox haven, an icon of the catholicity and universality of Orthodoxy with many Greek, Cypriot, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian immigrant families, as well as British converts and American expats. It has for its church a small but cozy house at 2 Meadow Lane. This is located right next to the Meadows, a lovely series of parks and fields roughly analogous to New York City’s Central Park. (Orthodox in the District)

 

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Need exercise? Edinburgh is hillier than either Rome or San Francisco. Exploring the city even for half a day rehabilitated many long neglected muscles of mine!

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Friday 20/1/2017 Cont.

6:30pm Vespers. One immediately senses what a warm, close-knot Orthodox community this is.

7:30pm  Archimandrite  Fr. Raphael Pavouris, , a wonderful Greek hieromonk who spent time on Mount Athos, offers a homily on Holiness in the Bible, followed by dinner and evening prayers.

Margaret: This evening at the study weekend, after Vespers for St Maximos:
Fr Raphael gave us a talk on Holiness in the Bible. The Bible is holy in itself and was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but is also a call to holiness through examples (Elisha giving himself fully to the call), visions of holiness (Isaiah 6) and reminders that we are being sanctified through that call. 
We then shared an Agape meal, both visitors for the weekend and local parishioners. A wonderful start to the Fellowship’s first study weekend in Scotland, at the Parish of St Andrew in Edinburgh.

 

 

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Father Avraamy (Neyman), left, and Father Raphael (Pavouris), right. These exceptionally kind men are pillars of the Orthodox communities in Scotland.

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Saturday 21/1/2017
 

Matins was chanted in Russian style by Fr. Luke Jeffrey and his KhouriyaI also met in the church Fr. Michael Harry and his Khouriya, all four of them ‘converts’ and most humble and compassionate.

 

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Saturday Church Services with Presbyter Luke Jeffrey (Photo from Fr Luke’s Ordination)

Presbyter Luke  presbytera was very good with the chanting (Russian style) and Fr. Luke was most compassionate,  in encouraging us with his humility, kindness, meekness and gentleness to join him in the prayers. In a style quite unusual for a priest, Fr. Luke, during Matins, kept getting out of the altar to check on how we were doing. Were we dozing off ?  🙂 Were we distracted? Such kind eyes! Or were we paying attention to what was being chanted, pleading to God with fervour and joining our prayers to his to Heaven? For the Uncreated Church and for all mankind.  In truth, I have felt most grateful during these services , and ever since, for Christ’s compassion in instituting the Church and offering to us His priests for the Sacraments. And I realised too how much we must do to help all priests and pray for them. Indeed, Fotini is right. The Church is our Arc, “Κιβωτός”.

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Coffee and Refreshments followed

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Reminiscent of the early Christian house churches, the sanctuary itself comprised a large room in the front of the house, with dozens of icons covering the walls and a small iconostasis at the eastern end of the room. I will always remember the wonderful people I met while attending the divine services here. Deacon Luke and his very kind Khouriye, both converts to the faith, the English convert Stephen, a very kind student at the University, Mattheus, a Greek physical fitness instructor,  with his English wife and their two pious daughters chanting so beautifully at the kliros throughout the long services, Marian, a Romanian, always ready to offer coffee, tea, biscuits, and kindness and smiles, and so many of the other Romanian, Russian, British, Greek, you name them, parishioners, which have all made lasting impressions on me. One feels so immediately welcome here and wants to return! Such hospitality and love! St. Andrew’s is a pan-orthodox Church based in Edinburgh, a parish of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, which is in turn part of the Œcumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

 

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St. Andrew is an important Saint for both Constantinople, being its patron Saint, and Scotland, being again its patron with his cross the Saltire and her flag: sailtír, flagan tsailtír, bratach na hAlban.

St. Andrew’s have services and Liturgies daily (!), not only on Sundays, or on major feasts. I am not sure if there is any other parish at the UK like them, with the exception of course of Essex monastery. They worship primarily in English, but you will also hear Greek, Slavonic and Romanian. Their Father in Christ is Archimandrite John Maitland Moir (b. 18 June 1924-d. 17 April 2013), who founded the parish out of his home in George Square.

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Father John’s life had elements of  the popularised, practical and unconventional Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis, to  which he added layers of spirituality and asceticism .… In a world where genuine eccentricity or commitment is scarce, that Orthodox minister who put an eccentric spin on life, left a legacy of dedication. Memory Eternal!

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Maitland Moir established the Chapel of St Andrew in Edinburgh, first in his  living room with some 20 worshippers. This flock grew and in 2003 he sold his  house to buy a former school building but this also became too small.

Funds to  expand further were insufficient. On his deathbed, Maitland Moir gave thanks to God that his dream was  fulfilled. An anonymous benefactor had come forward to complete the purchase of  a £350,000  building for the community.

Alongside a full weekly program of services of worship, St. Andrews parish is blessed with a large and lively multicultural community. Among other activities, you will find here an active student society, a charitable fellowship and community meals.  The three priests of the parish are also in charge of the Archdiocese’s parishes scattered across eastern Scotland, Aberdeen, Dundee,  St. Andrews, the Highlands and Bamburgh in England.

The parish began its life as a chaplaincy mainly for Polish servicemen during World War II, whilst the liturgical language used in the beginning was Slavonic. However, as the years passed, it is evident that the ethnic composition of the parish has become a less important factor, altering towards a presence of the universal Orthodox Church in Scotland. This is, thus, an exception to the rule within the Orthodox Cosmos where ethnic background is a key factor within a community, nevertheless the Orthodox Church in Scotland seems to have transcended the boundaries of national identity.     

Currently English is widely used within the services, on the other hand Greek and Slavonic are retained in order to unite different traditions within Orthodoxy, due to the fact that the community comprises of English, Scottish, Greeks, Russians, Serbians, Romanians and people from other countries. 

Archbishop Grigorios, in a letter towards the community, explains: “The Community in Edinburgh represents, and is an ‘Icon’ of, the life of the Orthodox Church in the Scottish capital. An encouraging characteristic of this life is that it is multi-lingual and multi-cultural, respecting and encouraging the traditions of Orthodox Christians from outside Scotland who have found themselves part of the Scottish Orthodox Community, which itself looks back to the Orthodox heritage, of this part of Britain, and embracing all those Orthodox Christians who seek its protection”.  (Londinoupolis)
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About the Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist: The Fellowship brings together members of the several Orthodox Church traditions in the British Isles and Ireland through prayer, discussion and mutual friendship, to deepen our commitment to, and understanding of, the Orthodox Christian Faith. The Fellowship arranges or sponsors a series of annual events, including a summer conference and a youth festival in the spring, and a study weekend in the winter. This year the Fellowship visited Scotland for the first time.
For Highlights I, go here
And here are the Edinburgh sightseeing photos promised at the beginning:

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Cortosophe Hill

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The Royal Mile

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Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s most famous landmark

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Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey, the Queen’s official Edinburgh residence and has frequently been at the center of Scottish history

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Holyrood Park: Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags

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St Giles Cathedral

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Princes Street

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Art City: The National Galleries of Scotland

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Calton Hill and the Scottish National Monument

 

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National Library of Scotland

edin90Greyfriars Church and Greyfriars Bobby

edin90City Art Centre

edin92.jpgGrassmarket

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(*) last 9 by Zoella

Bless the Lord, my soul! What a retreat! How many blessings in store for us! God willing, I shall return here. If it were only Edinburgh, I would certainly not be the first one to fall in love with this city, but my heart was captivated by St. Andrews’ parish. Here is indeed something greater and rarer to find.

(*) Antidoron (from Greek, meaning “instead of the gifts”; in Arabic, qurban) is the remaining bread from a loaf of prosphora after the Lamb has been removed for the Holy Eucharist. In Byzantine practice, it is blessed during the megalynarion to the Theotokos immediately after the epiclesis in the Divine Liturgy and is given by the priest to the faithful after the service. Historically, it was distributed only to those who had not received ‘the Gifts’, Holy Communion so that they would receive a Blessing in place of Holy Communion but this practice has changed over time and all those present at the Divine Liturgy receive Antidoron as a blessing.

 

St. Cuthbert’s Eccentic Heir

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The simple grave of Maitland Moir, Dean Cemetery

Last weekend (Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd January 2017) I was invited to a Study Weekend: Holiness in the Bible, at the  Orthodox Community of St Andrew the Apostle, Edinburgh, by the Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist.

Highlights from this event will follow in the coming blog entries, however, the starting point has to be the late Renown Scottish Orthodox Priest, Fr. John Maitland Moir, whose legacy and spirit is so alive in this Orthodox Community. In the words of parishioners I met there, he now continues to live in their hearts. In his words:”I love you but God loves you more.”I had the rare blessing to meet this priest a number of times back in Greece, in my hometown Thessaloniki, on his way to Mount Athos. The last time we met, shortly before he reposed, his face was so radiant, transparent and otherwordly, words cannot describe.

The Life of Fr. John Maitland Moir

Below is his official obituary. Our prayers go to all who knew and loved him, and for the repose of his holy soul.

Fr John Maitland Moir 4Archimandrite John Maitland Moir (1924 – 2013)

Father John Maitland Moir, Priest of the Orthodox Church of St Andrew in Edinburgh, founder of many smaller Orthodox communities throughout Scotland and Orthodox Chaplain to the University of Edinburgh, died peacefully in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on the 17th April 2013.

Fr John Maitland Moir 1A man of profound holiness and bedazzling eccentricity, of boundless compassion and canny wisdom, utterly selfless and stubbornly self-willed, serenely prayerful and fiercely self-disciplined, Father John will surely earn a place as a unique and outstanding figure in the ecclesiastical annals of Scotland. He was born in 1924 in the village of Currie where his father was the local doctor; his fondness for his mother was always mingled with quiet pride in the fact that she was a member of the lesser aristocracy. The privileged but somewhat severe upbringing of an only child in this household together with a chronic weakness in his knees kept him apart from the hurly-burly of boyhood and directed him from an early age to more spiritual and intellectual pursuits. After his schooling at Edinburgh Academy, he went on to study Classics at Edinburgh University during the war years, his never robust health precluding any active military service. After the war, and a short spell as Classics Master at Cargilfield School in Perthshire, he moved to Oxford to continue classical studies at Christ Church and theological studies at Cuddesdon Theological College.

His interest in Eastern Christendom was awakened in Oxford and he eagerly seized the opportunity to study at the famous Halki Theological Academy in Istanbul in 1950-51. During this year he also travelled in the Holy Land and Middle East and forged friendships in the Eastern Churches which he maintained throughout his life. On his return to Scotland he was ordained in the Scottish Episcopalian Church, which he was to serve faithfully for the next thirty years. His first charge was as Curate at St Mary’s in Broughty Ferry, then for a period of six years he taught at St Chad’s College, Durham. He returned to Scotland in 1962 as Curate in Charge of the Edinburgh Parish of St Barnabas and as Honorary Chaplain at St Mary’s Cathedral, then in 1967 he moved north to the Diocese of Moray where he served as Chaplain to the Bishop of Moray and latterly as Canon of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Inverness. His devotion to his pastoral and liturgical duties as well as his personal holiness and prayerfulness inspired a sense of awe in his loyal parishoners. Only his habit of wearing the kilt beneath his cassock provoked a reprimand from his Bishop, who was more than somewhat bewildered by Father John’s fervent and unbending Scottish patriotism. The Scottish Episcopalian Church which Father John loved and served was, he believed, a Church with special affinities with the Eastern Churches: his eyes would light up when explaining how the Liturgy of Scottish Episcopalian Church, like those of the East, contained an epiclesis. With the passing of the years, however, he became convinced that the Scottish Episcopalian Church was moving ever further away in faith and in practice from that common ground with the Orthodox Church which he had also come to know and love and whose prayer he had made his own.

Fr John Maitland Moir 3In 1981, he resigned from his position in the Diocese of Moray and travelled to Mount Athos where he was received into the Orthodox Church at the Monastery of Simonopetra. He returned to Britain to serve now as an Orthodox Priest in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain with utter devotion for a further full thirty years.

After three years in Coventry, Father John returned to Scotland where he united the two small Orthodox communities in Edinburgh, one Slavonic and one Greek, into the single Orthodox Community of St Andrew. At the same time, he travelled tirelessly around the country by bus serving often tiny groups of Orthodox Christians in Aberdeen, Inverness, Perth, Dundee, St Andrews, Stirling and elsewhere. For Father John, the Orthodox Church was what his beloved C.S. Lewis would call ‘Mere Christianity’, transcending the bounds of nationality and language and embracing all who seek to live a Christian life – the scandal of the cross and the glory of the resurrection. It also embraced for him the most precious elements in the Christian history of Scotland, especially that vision of Christianity expressed in figures such as St Columba and St Cuthbert. An ascetic by nature, his interest was in a practical Christianity nourished by prayer and tradition, rather than in the aesthetic refinements and intellectual gymnastics that attract many Westerners to the Orthodox Church. Not without opposition from members of his flock, Father John introduced English as the common language of worship and succeeded in creating a truly international community reflecting the many nationalities of the Orthodox students studying at the Scottish Universities and of the Orthodox families living and working in Scotland. As the Orthodox Church in Scotland grew in numbers through migration from traditionally Orthodox countries, so did the proportion of Scottish members who found themselves at home in the Community.

His role as Chaplain to the University of Edinburgh was one he took very seriously. The Chapel of St Andrew, set up at first in his house in George Square and then transferred to the former Buccleuch Parish School by the Meadows, lay at the heart of the University complex; the daily services held there with unfailing regularity and its ever open door provided and continues to provide a firm point of reference for countless students. The Chapel of St Andrew, however, was also the base for his work at the other Edinburgh Universities and throughout Scotland – work now being continued with equal zeal and selflessness by two gifted Priests, Fr Avraamy and Fr Raphael.

Fr John Maitland MoreFather John subjected himself to an almost unbelievably austere ascetic regime of fasting and prayer, while at the same making himself available to everyone who sought his assistance, spiritual or material, at all times of day and night. His care for the down-and-out in Edinburgh provoked admiration and no little concern in many parishioners who would come to the Church, which was also his home, only to find him calmly serving coffee with aristocratic gentility to a bevy of homeless alcoholics or to find a tramp asleep on his sofa. He was tireless in his efforts to help the victims of torture and persecuted Christians throughout the world. Few days would pass without him writing a letter of support for someone in prison or in mortal danger. He had inherited a comfortable fortune, he died penniless, having dispersed all his worldly assets to the deserving and undeserving in equal measure.

His habits of life would have marked him as a caricature of Scottish parsimony had they not been joined to an extraordinary generosity of spirit. All his voluminous correspondence was meticulously hand-written on scraps of recycled paper and dispatched by second-class mail in reused envelopes, whether he was writing to Dukes and Prelates or to the indigent and distressed. For many years, he was a familiar sight on the streets of Edinburgh as he passed by on his vintage electric bicycle, his black cassock and long white beard furling in the wind.

As his physical strength ebbed away, he was comforted by the love and care of those who looked to him as their spiritual father and by the ministrations and devotion of his fellow clergy. He was also tended by the medical expertise of the Greek doctors of the Community towards whom he never ceased to express his gratitude.

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The last year of his remarkable life was perhaps the most remarkable of all. Completely bed-ridden, nearly blind and almost totally deaf, he devoted himself even more fully to prayer, especially to prayer for the continued unity, harmony, well-being and advancement of the Orthodox Communities in Scotland. On the day he died, an anonymous benefactor finally sealed the purchase of the former Buccleuch Parish Church for the Orthodox Community of St Andrew in Edinburgh thus securing a material basis for the realization of the spiritual vision that had inspired Fr John throughout his life.

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St. Andrew’s Church has acquired this property and is planning to move here in the future.

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Orthodox Easter St Andrews Church Edinburgh 2013; Father John’s seat.

Read also this ex-Scottish Episcopal priest,  who even then, in the 1960s,  looked like an Orthodox priest, with a wispy beard and a Sarum cassock, and always the  fervent patriot, he once earned an episcopal reprimand for wearing a kilt  beneath his cassock, and and who “became a “weel-kent” figure riding a heavy iron bicycle around Tollcross and the Meadows. …  Although he lived a quiet life, Father John hit the national headlines in 2001 when he helped shelter an eight-year-old girl from her father.

Defying a court order that the girl should not leave the country without her father’s consent, he helped Ashley-Maria Black and her mother Valerie set up a new life in Greece.

Despite angry visits from the girl’s father Keith Black to his offices he refused to reveal the girl’s whereabouts, despite a court order, claiming Mr Black was using the girl to “harass” her mother… in “Renown Scottish Orthodox Priest Dies Just Weeks After Completing His Life’s Work” here and here

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May his Memory be Eternal! 

 

Christmas Love Letter from God

Blessed f. Eusevios Mamakas in Love with Christ

Blessed Eusevios Mamakas, + 29-08-2011, Kalymnos, a priest in Love with Christ, is reading Christmas love ‘letter’ from God to us, as revealed to him in prayer. A translation of the Greek text follows, bold type added to indicate pappoulis’ moments of tearful pause. Though no translation is really required, since Pappoulis’ sobs are more eloquent than his words.  May we have his blessing!

 

My children,

Return back to me.

Even in your wretchedness, in your sinfulness.

I accept you as you are.

And I am telling you that I have already forgiven you.

My dear child, allow me to tell you that no person has bigger love for you than mine.

Raise your eyes to Me and see Who is pleading you.

I am Jesus, your Saviour (tearful pause)

Who is coming today to you,

Speaking through the mouth of the most lowly amongst you.

(God is no respecter of persons)

I come barefoot, like a beggar.

In order to ask for your love in return.

I am searching for your heart (tearful pause)

Do not deny it to me. (tearful pause)

Night and day I am stretching my hands to you.

When will you come back to me?

When will you give me your love in return?

Will I ever find any return to My Love in this wilderness, my child?

The whole Creation took place for your sake.

I am your Saint but your age has crucified me again.

I am the One who loves you so much

And yet, I am the One who receives merciless flogging

from this age’s indifference.

I am the Light of the World

Who comes in this dark age

To offer the Light of Life.

May peace be with you.

My children, I am offering you My Peace,

I am offering you the Gift of My Love.

Come to me as you are.

Do not wait to become Saints,

In order to come to Me.

Come to Me, as you are,

Without fear,

I am your Father who is full of Love.

How can some of you doubt my Love?

Come to me all of you who are wandering in this wilderness.

Come to me, pure and clean.

Allow me to rejoice inside you (tearful pause)

+

Ad Memoriam – A Blessed Priest in Love with Christ 

 

My Conversion To Orthodoxy

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Fr. Jonathan Hemmings (Orthodox Christian Parish of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross at Lancaster) talks about his conversion to Orthodoxy, his meeting Metropolitan Anthony of Sourouzh, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, and other Living Signposts God of the Faith, and his last book, Fountains in the Desert.

 

For a more detailed testimony of Fr. Jonathan’s Conversion go to Finding the Faith of Joseph of Arimathea

Source

Who Are Today’s Abbesses of Abbesses?

Gerondissa Akylina, Gerondissa Porphyria (Sipsa) and Gerondissa Makrina (Portaria)

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Friday, November 4, feast day of the Blessed Elder Georgios Karslidis of Pontos, warmed my heart with fond memories of nearly 3 decades of pilgrimages to beautiful, gem monasteries in Northern Greece!

“God cares for everyone. Despair is in effect a lack of faith.”

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Taxiarches and the Analipseos Monastery (Sipsa) in Greece is one of the Monasteries in Greece that holds a dear place in my heart. Together with that of St. Paisios in Souroti, they were the first monasteries I started visiting as a University student, before my graduate studies and work at the US. At that time Gerondissa Porphyria, a Living Signpost in my journey on The Way,  had not even become a monastic, and now she is a renowned Abbess, one of the few of her ‘calibre’ in contemporary women’s monasteries.

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

The Blessed Elder Georgios Karslidis of Pontos (1901-1959), latter day saint of the Saintly Orthodox Church in Greece,  glorified by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2008, was the first “resident” and founder of the monastery in the year 1930. He is one of few saints known to bear an imprint of the sign of the cross on his skull. There is a flourishing multitudinous sisterhood of nuns here today, who occupy themselves with the Iconography of handheld pictures, gold embroidery,knitting and waxwork.
Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina was the first Abbess. I had the rare blessing to meet her a number of times during the last years of her life. In the words of our late Elder Iosif Vatopaidinos, Gerondissa Akylina, together with Gerondissa Makrina in Portaria, were ‘Abbesses of Abbesses’:  examples of the monastic life and their monasteries models of coenobia, workshops of virtue and antechambers of Paradise.

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Akylina holding the Cross of St. Georgios Karslidis which was found intact after the translation of his relics. He is one of few saints known to bear an imprint of the sign of the cross on his skull.

Gerondissa Akylina, Porphyria, Sipsa Monastery and St. Georgios Karslidis

Gerondissa Porphyria has always been so full of love and humility, always ready to sacrifice her ease,  her rest and sleep, everything for her ‘neighbour! How many times has she consoled me in the trials and tribulations of my life! Always by my side, always! How many times has she offered a shoulder to cry on and precious, practical counsel! Her prayerful presence is intensely, intimately felt even thousands of miles away, here at the UK, and her smile warms my heart. Oh, just look at her smile in the photographs below with a pilgrim at the monastery and imagine the rays of the sun warming your shoulders after a rainy, cold day! How blessed am I to have such a spiritual mother by my side! Over the years I got better acquainted with the friendly and hospitable nuns there and the pilgrims and the faithful who regularly visit this monastery. St. Georgios’ holy presence is immediately felt upon entering the monastery gate, and there is always a queue at his tomb where his spiritual children kneel before their spiritual father, now in Heaven, to ask for his spiritual guidance and to seek comfort in life’s trials and tribulations.
For a closer insight at Elder Georgios Karslidis and his miracles, watch the following interview by Gerontissa Porphyria:

Allowed to See

The Bible: the center of Theology of Father Symeon Krayiopoulos

The Bible: Father Symeon’s Kragiopoulos Centre of Theology

His discourse was also theological. He never ignored dogma, never indulged in moralizing, empty verbiage or flights of fancy. He spoke well, was comprehensible, and used theology, not as a system of knowledge, but as the essence of life, which imbues the whole of human existence. The centre of his theology was the Bible, which he knew in depth. His sermons were, at bottom, Biblical and he recommended that his ‘children’ read the Scriptures, and, indeed, he set a chapter of the New Testament to be read every day, by all of them. He immersed himself in the Scriptures, engaging with the text and enjoying the interpretational footnotes, both Patristic and modern.

We would often speak at length on the telephone about one passage or a single word.

His theological discourse wasn’t superficial. He knew theology in depth, he was up-to-date with theological bibliography and followed developments in academic theology. He was usually present at conferences of the Greek Society for Biblical Studies and took part in the discussions, reminding people, through what he said, that theology isn’t merely knowledge, but also an experience, without which knowledge ‘is puffed up’. And all the days of the conferences, when Fr. Symeon circulated as an ordinary member, he emanated the fragrance of Christ with his words, his smile and his presence. At one such conference in Cyprus, during a break, a professor from Thessaloniki approached a group of a few young people who were talking to Fr. Symeon and said: ‘Do you know what a blessing this moment is for you. In Thessaloniki we get to enjoy Fr. Symeon’s presence in drips and drabs. You’ve got him here when and for as long as you want’.

 

‘If you’re a theologian, you’ll pray properly; and,

if you pray properly, you’re a theologian’ (On Prayer 61)

 

His theological discourse was also niptic. He enjoyed the niptic fathers and imitated them in word and deed. The saying attributed to Saint Neilos: ‘If you’re a theologian, you’ll pray properly; and if you pray properly, you’re a theologian’ (On Prayer 61) was a rule of life. The silent assemblies, of which we spoke above, are a small example of his desire to teach the method of the prayer of the heart. And even if these silent assemblies have not been generally adopted as his vigils have, they were of great benefit, because the idea spread of using a prayer-rope and saying the Jesus prayer. Until then, it had been unknown to the wider public, neglected or held to be something that was appropriate only for monastics.

I realized just how much Fr. Symeon was imbued with the spirit of the prayer of the heart, how much he was himself niptic, from a long discussion we had as we were returning from a conference of the Greek Society for Biblical Studies on Patmos, the first of a series, at the end of September, 1975.

As we were sitting in the stern of the ship, in the moonlight, returning from the island of the Revelation, he showed himself to be a great niptic father, a holy teacher of the prayer of the heart. He was taken up, speaking from another world, and I tried to follow him, drinking in his words. We parted past midnight, with the feeling that we weren’t done with the subject. How could we be when ‘perfection is never-ending’?

Fr. Symeon never advertised his work. He never challenged anyone in his homilies. You learned about him from other people. I recommended his talks to someone and he said to me afterwards: ‘You mean there’s somebody like him in Thessaloniki and you didn’t tell me earlier?’

*

“I thank you, my Lord, that you allowed me to see what I am”

 

The Bible: the center of Theology of Father Symeon Krayiopoulos

 

I thank you, my LordThe event of salvation is conscious. We should know this and not fear it at all. Further, we should beg God to reveal our true selves to us. Then God will see that we accept this not with words, but in practice. Therefore, when at some point, either we make a mistake or something else happens, and God allows all of our wickedness, and our whole diseased and bleak inner state to be revealed, we need to accept it. We need even to be thankful, saying: “My God, such a thing I had awithin me and I didn’t recognize it! I thank you, my Lord, that you allowed me to see what I am”. 

You must see this and embrace it. Not in the sense that you will hang onto it, but in the sense that you will acknowledge that you are the one that has this within you. You ought to acknowledge it without wanting to blame and pass the responsibility to someone else and without averting your eyes as though not wanting to see it. Some men and women who work at lowly jobs, whatever happens, they stoop and patiently do the work completely. On the contrary, a person may be fragile or delicate, and supposedly ashamed, supposedly disgusted and supposedly isn’t able to do such work. If he does this work though, it will be incomplete. Here, though, in our own case, it’s necessary that we see our sin. We must see this thing that we hold onto as if we want it, and within which our soul has been sunk for an entire life. We must see it, must feel it. We must see how difficult it is, nearly impossible, to escape from this state.  Therefore, someone is completely convinced, and thinks: “It’s over. I’m going to perish”. This is Hades. Namely, someone sees that he is in Hades.

However, we know that we have a Saviour, we know that Christ came to earth. Then we start to understand what it means that he came to save us, and we run to the Saviour. We run to the Lord with pain, with prayer, with a cry, with faith, with hope and a firm conviction that the Lord will accept us and will save us. The Lord wants us to approach things exactly like this. This is not our own daring or our own boldness.  He wants us act just like that, to entrust ourselves in this way, and for this reason he gave us promises. So someone does this work, and little by little the decay of his soul, that lies in the subconscious and the unconscious, emerges.

How long will this last for? A lifetime. Until the end of our life, this is the work we have to do. But grace is involved. It also happens every so often that when you enter within yourself or when you give yourself to God, the decay you have within emerges on its own, and you see it whether you want to or not.

It is a bleak state, a filthy state, but grace is involved since in exactly this way you are redeemed, once and for all, and are saved. And it is through this that you are delivered from this state.

 *

Is our disposition such that the Lord is able  to be moved to compassion for us?

 The Bible: the center of Theology of Father Symeon Krayiopoulos

“And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.”

Then – as the Gospel passage tells us – since the multitude had followed him into the desert for many hours and were hungry, the Lord with five loaves and two fish, having blessed and multiplied them, fed five thousand men with twelve additional baskets taken up.

The compassion of Christ is not simply some sentimentality, but is a manifestation of His love toward His creation. God always loves the world, He loves every individual person, but for Him to be moved to compassion and to show it, it is also necessary for a person to be appropriately receptive to it.

It’s not enough to simply do some good works (to pray, to go to church, to study). Whatever we do we are sinners and unworthy of God. Consequently, we are unacceptable. All the same, we need to do these things precisely to show our good disposition, to show that we want to be saved, that we choose God, we seek Him, we love Him. But is not enough for these things to be done only because of habit.

That’s why it is good, wherever we find ourselves, to ask ourselves night and day whether our disposition is such that the Lord is able to be moved to compassion for us. It is not necessary for you to journey along many and distant roads, climbing and descending, in order to achieve this. God is the one who covers the distance that exists between us and Him.

All a person needs to do is one little thing, but a little thing which is great and which is everything: to humble himself, to repent, to have the fear of God within him, to not be puffed up, self-inflated, and conceited.

And then – O, the wonder! – God will be found wherever we are. Then irrespectively of how things arise in our lives, we will feel the compassion of God and see how God will provide all that our souls and bodies need. It is not difficult for God – not difficult even for God to heal you from sickness or to put in order other problems and situations in your life. He can take care of everything. But we need to adopt that disposition that will elicit His compassion toward us. (August 3rd, 2014)

 

Transcribed talks by Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos

 From: Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.

Translated by fr. Matthew Penney

 

(To be continued …)

 

For Fr. Symeon Kragiopoulos: The Portrait of a Spiritual Father – I, The Theologian and the ‘Liturgical’ Being (his famous church services and vigils), go here

For Fr. Symeon Kragiopoulos: The Portrait of a Spiritual Father – IIThe ‘Silent’ Assemblies of Father Symeon Kragiopoulos, (his famous silent sessions of the Jesus prayer), go here

For Fr Symeon Krayiopoulos: The Portrait of a Spiritual Father – III, A Servant of the Holy Mystery of Confession, go here …