Felt truly blessed by Agape, the warmth of fellowship. Nunc dimittis
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple
Simeon’s Song of Praise by Aert de Gelder, painted around 1700–1710
But see how the Russian icon above emphasizes the meeting aspect. Pay attention to the way Jesus and Simeon are so face to face
Eucharist! The redemption of Man’s Chronos into Kairos. “The ultimate form of communication we can engage in as human beings … Our true communion of God’s icons as opposed to our reduction to fleeting, ephemeral, hollow images in a World of Social Networking (Oh the irony of this post for this blog, and for a poor little hermit …)
… If we think of one of the primary functions of the Divine Liturgy as a means to engage in a more meaningful experience that transcends the Chronos of everyday life, cyber social networking does the complete opposite. Kairos, a more personal and meaningful use of time is the Greek term used for the time spent at the Divine Liturgy. Cyber social networking then, has become the epitome of Chronos, the ordinary and the mundane use of time.
… Moreover, if we are all created in the Image of God, than how can we see this image in a person’s face, or hear it in his or her voice when communicating through texting or Facebook? The answer is simple. We can’t. If we are all icons, as the church fathers tell us, then the image of that icon remains unseen through a cyber connection. Can you imagine walking into an Orthodox Church with no icons? The soul of that church would seem quite empty.
Please read the whole article “The Image of God in a World of Social Networking” at Pemptousia, to see how we should meet in worship, in Church, and not in the social media … Let us let go of this virtual world and sink into the real one … Never before in mankind history probably was our presence in church services so indispensable.
*A thought-provoking talk by Dr. Fotini Hamplova on how women can be saved through child-bearing and especially child-rearing, including us all here, spiritual mothers, spiritual fathers and indeed all Orthodox Christians in this call to Holiness through asceticism, the cutting of our will, silence, podvig etc.
Fotini: “The Church is our Arc. This is where we are safe.”
Fr. Mark (Glasgow) on holiness in the 21st century
Fr. Mark: On Bearing Our Cross to become Holy
How can you bear it?
We cannot. But where else can we go?
The feeling of being nailed on a Cross.
See this to the end.
Proceed to a territory beyond our endurance–to Death.
God will never force us, push us beyond we want to go.
Danger: illusion of Peace.
Terrorism of the demons: assailed largely through thoughts, discouraging: very convincing.
The Evil One becomes powerful in our lives to the extent to which we will listen to him.
It takes great humility, courage and faith in order to allow God to smash us to pieces. Because He will in order to save us. If we allow Him, if we surrender to His Will.
How lovely to see Fr Michael Harry with his Khouriya, who are to ‘retire’ after Easter to the Hebrides!
A haggis lunch accompanied with with excellent Scottish folk music and Robert Burns poetry recitation while ceremoniously cutting the haggis.
The folk music was mesmerising and sounded something like that. Apologies for running out of battery…
And the Haggis ritual looked like that. Again apologies for my battery …
This poem was written by Burns to celebrate his appreciation of the Haggis. As a result Burns and Haggis have been forever linked. As I found out, this particular poem is always the first item on the programme of Burns’ suppers. The haggis is generally carried in on a silver salver at the start of the proceedings. As it is brought to the table a piper plays a suitable, rousing accompaniment. One of the invited artistes then recites the poem before the theatrical cutting of the haggis with the ceremonial knife: “But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer/ Gie her [Scotland] a Haggis”
Then, a scenic tour of Edinburgh
Arthur’s Seat is one of the Best Places with Scenic Views in Edinburgh.
View of Edinburgh from the Rest and Be Thankful, Corstorphine Hill.
View from Calton Hill Edinburgh
Yes, I know. A haggis lunch…..then a walk…..Orthodox have stamina 🙂
Edinburgh is traditionally said to have been built on seven hills. Walk round the town for an hour or so and you might wonder if they didn’t mean seven …
Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh Castle as seen from Princes Street …
While spending this long weekend in Edinburgh, I’ve caught a glimpse of the castle almost every day, whether I’m walking to or from the church, shopping, or wandering about town..
Our Sunday scenic tour culminated to St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh (Roman Catholic), where we venerated the relics of St Andrew the First-called. Here parishioners and visitors for the study weekend joined together as pilgrims.
It was such a lovely weekend; thank you to all who worked so hard and for all the kindness and fellowship!
Jonathan Jackson and The Seeds of “The Mystery of Art”
Whoever wants to become a Christian, must first become a poet. — Saint Porphyrios When I was young, they brought me to Babylon And the night hung over my head The smoke came into my dreams In the valley of dry bones
It was under the skies of Babylon Where my soul fell in love with God My eyes were seared and my blood was bruised But I was hidden within a song
All around were the sounds of Babylon But all I heard, were the hymns of heaven
It was under the skies of Babylon Where my soul fell in love with her I was barely coming clean and she had already seen A war on her innocence
I spoke of the Christ underneath the clouds And woke her from the sleep of death
She took my hand and walked me through the crowd Why, is anybody’s guess?
All around, was the gold of Babylon But all I saw, was an angel of heaven
You can shut me up but you cannot quiet The silence of the Mystic Church You can shut me up but you cannot quiet The silence of the Mystic Church
I would like to start with the journey of how this book, “The Mystery of Art” began. It was not an intellectual or abstract search. The questions and explorations on this subject were immediate and crucial for me growing up. I began working as a professional actor at the age of 11 on General Hospital. At The age of 12, by God’s grace I had a profound encounter with Christ. My father would give us cassette tapes of sermons to listen to and one night, I heard a sermon on “The holiness of God and the pride of the human heart.” I don’t know why and I don’t know how these things occur, but I was cut to the heart. I suddenly realized how far away from God I truly was. How prideful and full of selfishness and egoism I was. It scared me to be honest. And yet, paradoxically, in that very moment of feeling the weight of my sinfulness—how my supposed righteousness is like “filthy rags” before the holiness of God, as Isaiah says—a Divine Presence also overwhelmed me. I felt like a great sinner who was also mysteriously loved beyond comprehension.
Around the same time, I read C.S. Lewis’ chapter called “The Great Sin”, which is all about Pride. I read Matthew 25, the Last Judgment and Matthew 5 when Christ says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I knew I could never impress God with my self-righteousness, so I cried out for mercy, I cried out for grace. And the compassions of God washed over me.
This was a turning point in my life. Nothing was the same after this encounter. I began to hear and perceive my own thoughts with great clarity. This was frightening too because I was suddenly aware of all the judgments and horrible thoughts I had about people. But the Holy Spirit was so merciful in this process. He never made me feel condemned. Convicted, yes. But never condemned. He would always whisper, “I’m not showing you this to condemn you, I’m showing you this darkness, so you can be healed.”
I began to think about God all the time. Throughout the following years there were many struggles and trials but the mystery of God became the most beautiful, the most attractive, the most intriguing and important pursuit in my life.
Naturally and organically, I had a desire to incorporate the Holy Spirit into the work I was doing. I had studied a few different acting methods but for the most part, my own personal method was being birthed through experience. Working with Anthony Geary and Genie Francis and other incredible performers like Michelle Pfeiffer and Sir Ben Kingsley. It was very much like Orthodoxy in the sense that I was a sponge, soaking everything in through experience and not through theory.
Within a short period of time after this initial encounter of grace, I was given some very heavy storylines to portray. I was about 15 years old and my character Lucky Spencer finds a young girl in the woods, who has just been raped. It is winter and the poor girl is freezing out in the cold, left for dead. He rescues her and they develop a friendship. He spends months taking care of her and being by her side as she tries to heal from this horrific event.
On a Soap Opera, you are on TV almost every day; especially when your storyline in prominent. In a more direct way than most artistic mediums, you are living the day-to-day story of your character. I was portraying this storyline for months. It was during this time that I first remember bringing God into my preparation as an actor. I began to ask Him, “How could you allow this innocent creature to suffer in this way?” “How can anyone be healed from such a wound?”
They were questions my character could have been asking God and questions most of us have asked before. What it began to do for me, was nudge my work towards something inherently spiritual and although I would not have known it at the time, something sacramental.
Over the following years I portrayed a lot of dark and tragic roles: someone struggling with suicide, a heroine addict, a murderer among others. It was around this time when I began to ask God, “How can I portray these dark and troubled characters dynamically and truthfully, without being consumed by the darkness myself?” There are many tragic stories of young actors who become drug addicts after playing one in a film. The stories of drug overdoses and suicides among young actors and actresses are too many. I instinctively steered away from “Method Acting” and sought a different path, even though I didn’t know exactly what that would be.
It was around this time when I discovered Dostoevsky. It’s amazing to me now, being Orthodox that I wasn’t able to comprehend anything about the Orthodox Church as I read his books. It was like a veil, I suppose. But what I did discover was a kindred soul. Here was someone who was writing about very dark and tragic characters and themes but from a place of beauty—from a place of the Light of Christ. Prince Myshkin, from the “The Idiot”, changed my life. I clung to Dostoevsky in my heart as I approached portraying these dark characters and prayed, “Lord, please help me to portray the darkness of this world from a place of purity and light. Please, help me not to be overcome by the darkness, but to infiltrate the darkness with Your Light. Without you I can do nothing. I am nothing, I have nothing and I can do nothing without You, Lord. Amen.”
This is a snap shot so to speak, of the journey towards writing, “The Mystery Of Art”. These were the seeds, which by God’s grace, grew over time. There were so many important and profound spiritual realities that I wasn’t exposed to at the time, because I had not encountered the Holy Orthodox Church. I was grasping in the dark, looking for answers, feeling my way towards Christ, as best I could, but I always knew that something was missing; something significant and crucial to my relationship with God. There is a beautiful Scripture in the Gospel of John where Christ says,
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
I was one those lambs who was not of this fold. But through the grace of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd and your prayers, He found me and brought me home. My journey to the Orthodox Faith took many years and was paved with blood and heartache. I carried all of these artistic questions and experiences with me as my family and I came into the Church for salvation, deliverance and healing.
See photos from his visit to Mount Athos for the first time with his 11 year-old son Caleb (2015), where they stayed for five days visiting Simonopetra and Xenophontos monasteries, and spent most of his time at Vatopaidi Monastery (Friday till Tuesday) where he met the Abbot, Elder Ephraim, and attended an all-night vigil on Saturday night.
While at Vatopaidi Monastery, Jonathan also gave a testimony of how he converted to Orthodoxy for Pemptousia, which can be seen here.
To a person who had to choose between suicide and begging
St. Velimirovich letter
29 December 2016
You write that all your worldly goods were sold off to a third party. When you found yourself out on the street with nothing and nobody, you headed to the cemetery, bent on killing yourself. You had no doubts or second thoughts about this. Exhausted by the vexations, you lay down on your parents’ grave and fell asleep. Your mother appeared to you in your sleep and berated you, saying that in the Kingdom of God there were plenty of people who had been beggars, but not a single one of those who had done away with themselves. That dream saved you from suicide. Your beloved mother really did save you, by God’s providence. You began to beg and to live off begging. And you’re asking if, by doing so, you’re transgressing God’s law.
Take courage. God gave the commandment: ‘Don’t steal’. He didn’t give any commandment ‘Don’t beg’. Begging without any real need is stealing, but in your case it isn’t. The general and emperor Justinian was left blind in his old age, with no possessions or friends. He would sit, blind, outside the courtyard of the throne and beg for a little bread. As a Christian, he didn’t permit himself to consider suicide. Because, just as life’s better than death, so it’s better to be a beggar than a suicide.
You say that you’re overcome with shame and that your sorrow’s deep. You stand at night outside the coffee-shop that used to be yours and ask for money from those who go in and out. You remember that, until recently, you were the owner of the coffee-shop and now you don’t dare go in even as a customer. Your eyes are red from weeping and lamentation. Comfort yourself. God’s angels aren’t far from you. Why are you crying about the coffee-shop? Haven’t you heard of the coffee-shop at the other end of Belgrade where it says: ‘Someone’s it wasn’t; someone’s it won’t be’? Whoever wrote those words was a true philosopher. Because that’s true of all the coffee-shops, all houses all the castles and all the palaces in the world.
What have you lost? Something that you didn’t have when you were born and which isn’t yours now. You were the boss, now you’re poor. That’s not loss. Loss is when a person becomes a beast. But you were a person and have remained so. You signed some papers for certain of your prominent customers and now your coffee-shop’s in the hands of a stranger. Now you look through the window and see everybody laughing, just the way they used to, and you’re wandering the streets with tears in your eyes and covered in shame. Never fear, God’s just. They’ll all have to answer for their misdeeds. But when they attempt to commit suicide, who’s to say whether the merciful Lord will allow their mothers to appear to them from the other world in order to keep them from the crime? Don’t consider them successful even for a moment. Because you don’t know how they’ll end up. A wise man in ancient Greece said: ‘Never call anybody happy before the end’. It’s difficult to be a beggar? But aren’t we all? Don’t we all depend, every hour of every day, on the mercy of Him Who gives us a life to lead? Now you’ve got an important mission in the world: to engage people’s attention so that they remember God and their soul and to be charitable. Since you’re forced to live in silence, delve into your soul and talk to God through prayer. The life of a beggar’s more heroic than that of a boss. ‘For gold is tested in the fire and accepted people in the furnace of humility’ (Sir. 2, 5). But you’ve already demonstrated heroism by rejecting the black thought of suicide. This is a victory over the spirit of despondency. After this victory, all the others will be easy for you. The Lord will be at your side.
RTE: Can you tell us what it takes to be a long-term missionary? You’ve spoken of the beginning stages, how about later?
FR. LUKE: Archbishop Anastasios has good advice for people thinking of going into the mission field: “It’s always better to say you are going for one year and stay for ten, than to say, ‘I am going for ten years,’ and after the initial enthusiasm fades away, you realize you can’t handle it.” There is wisdom in this: go step-by-step, and God will give you grace and strength.
The goal of missions is to establish an authentic Eucharistic worshipping community in the people’s own language and culture
In my early 20’s, when I attended Pennsylvania State University, I contemplated entering the Peace Corps. When I learned more about it though, I was afraid, because I wasn’t sure I could handle the two-year commitment to leave my country and live in an impoverished third-world village. I turned down the opportunity, but God in His own way took me step-by step. He didn’t reveal to me, “In the future you will spend ten years in Albania.” No. First, I went on a short-term mission team for one month to Kenya. The following year I returned for a six-month commitment, and these six months turned into a year of service. After returning to Africa three times over the next four years, I began looking at Albania as a place where I could serve as a long-term missionary. I suggested to my wife, “Let’s make a three year commitment, and then see.” God took us through those three years and gave us the strength we needed. Those three years turned into five years, seven years, a decade. We might have been frightened, had we known at the beginning that we would serve in Albania for ten years, but God took us by the hand and led us.
Don’t frighten yourself by thinking, “How can I become a missionary and live in another culture for so many years?” Just go, make the sign of the cross, and start working. Be open and willing to stay for longer, but tell yourself, “I am going for one year or for two years, and see how it works.” But keep praying, “Lord, if You give me the grace, I will stay as long as You want me here.”
RTE: You mentioned the short-term mission teams of two or three weeks. I imagine that it’s helpful for people in a foreign country to feel that others appreciate them enough to come, but what are the real benefits of this short-term experience?
FR. LUKE: One has to be very clear about the purpose of missions. The goal of missions is to establish an authentic Eucharistic worshipping community in the people’s own language and culture. If one is going to serve in a place that isn’t yet Christian, this will take many years and involve great effort, sacrifice, and struggle. To achieve anything, the missionary must commit himself to living among the people long-term and learning the language and culture.
With the ease of travel and technology, a new phenomenon has arisen in the past thirty years in the mission field – “short-term mission teams” – which send people for a week or two, or a month, to a certain area. They often have a specific project: to build a church, run a catechetical program, etc.
There is value in these short-term projects, and the first and greatest value is for those who are going. It exposes them to a different culture, a different people. For westerners it is often the first time they’ve seen a third-world country up close, with of all its poverty and hardship. It’s an eye-opening experience. For many, this initial experience is an exciting adventure, and although these short-termers go with the intention of offering something, they receive much more than they can offer, and usually return to their home country full of enthusiasm. They often become ambassadors for the missionary movement; they speak in churches and theirenthusiasm is contagious. It’s great for them and for the church that sent them.
But what did they really offer for the week, or month, or two months they were in the mission field? They offered something. Perhaps they built a building – but I’m sure the indigenous people could have built the building themselves if they’d had the money. Perhaps they created some nice friendships, and that’s important to encourage people, but they have to realize that what they offered was very limited.
It is not going to transform, convert, and change people’s lives. At best it is going to complement the work that’s already being done by the long-term missionaries and the local Christians who live there. Some churches are now sending many short-term teams; you can get the people, they’re enthusiastic, it motivates people back home. But people are still afraid to go into long-term mission and this “short-term” trend can create a great danger for the future.
Short-term teams are not the goal of missions, but they can support the overall effort, and short-termers need to be challenged as to where they are going to take this experience when they return home. In any group of twenty short-term missionaries who go somewhere for a month, my goal would be that at least one or two of them seriously consider long-term mission work.
For others, hopefully, this incredible experience will help to transform them into more serious Christians. Lord willing, they will use this experience as a stepping stone in their own spiritual journey. Perhaps they won’t become long-term missionaries, but they will be more dedicated Christians in whatever they do. Hopefully, the majority of people who go will at least understand missions in a new way, and even if they never become long-term missionaries, they will become supporters and partners of those in long-term missions.
There are two results we don’t want from short-term missions. First, we don’t want these participants to think that they are missionaries who have fulfilled their responsibility in missions. They are not missionaries, but members of a missions team. They now have a responsibility to use the experience they’ve received for the glory of God and to spread the spirit of missions in the Church.
The second danger is that we don’t want short-term participants to return home and, after an initial month of excitement, put the experience away as a great adventure and go on with their life as they lived it before. We would consider both of these results as a failure in our short-term strategy.
I have participated on five short-term mission teams, four times as a leader. I have also received five short-term teams while being a long-term missionary. So I’ve been exposed to this concept of missions from a variety of angles. These short-term experiences radically changed the direction of my life, so I’m very grateful for the experience. They exposed me to the reality of missions work and led me to longer stays in Africa. Such trips filled me with enthusiasm and zeal for missions, and led me to eventually study theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, as well as to study missiology at Fuller Seminary’s School of World Missions.
When I was a long-term missionary receiving missions teams, I did all the prep work for the teams, and it took a month out of my schedule each time to accommodate them. In certain cases it was worth it. Some teams did great and really complemented the ministries we were already doing. But to be honest, other teams were very demanding and in the end, the benefit that they offered was minimal. In those instances, it became a very time-consuming project that didn’t have a lot of value for our overall mission. Short-termers need to be aware of this, and when they go, to be humble about it.
RTE: I imagine they are more like pilgrims than missionaries, guests of Orthodox missions who may be able to help out in a small way.
FR. LUKE: Yes, I always tell the short-termers that they shouldn’t call themselves missionaries. They aren’t missionaries. They should think of themselves as visitors to a mission field. Some don’t like to hear this. They would like to think, “I’m following the path of the great missionaries; I’m a missionary now.” That’s quite naive.
This summer has repeatedly ‘confused’ me as to where my home is. To begin with I was already confused here. Mikrokastro monastery feels so much more ‘home’ than my real home. Mikrokastro has tamed me, and this is why I always cry when I leave. “One runs the risk of crying a bit if one allows oneself to be tamed.” (1)
Moving to the UK after Easter and leaving everything behind hurt quite a lot. But what could I do? “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: … So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; … and Abram was seventy and five years old [!] when he departed out of Haran. (Gen 12:1,12:4)”
Even the idea of where home is can leave one feeling undone.
Adapting to my new culture, land and ‘home’ is still a difficult process. In hard times, I caught myself longing for the home I had left back in Greece. For the familiarity this home represented, the loved ones living there, and the comforts that seem to go hand in hand.
My home is in heaven. And until we get there, we are to live here, serving Him.
Flying back to Greece for my father’s funeral felt so strange. Even after less than a month at the UK, I no longer felt my home country as ‘home’.
“For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
More travelling, retreats and pilgrimages ensued … “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20/ Luke 9:58)
But both are home. As much as any home can be.
Soon, news from new friends in Romania, old friends from the UK reached me in Greece and I felt homesick! Tears again and broken heart!
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)
I missed so much my ‘family’, especially at the UK! What was I doing here, so far away from them, so far away from ‘home‘? I knew I had to stay here for certain urgent tasks to be accomplished, but still I longed to return back ‘home‘, to be with them.
The truth is, we are all foreigners, aliens passing through on our way home.
Home for a missionary is indeed a funny thing. Because to be honest, we have multiple homes, and even the idea of where home is can leave one feeling undone.
My home is where God leads.
‘Leafing through’ various missionary blogs I came across the following reflections by Mandy which moved me deeply:
Just the other day I was transported back to my home town, as I sat here in Nepal in the dentist office. For a brief moment as Toby Keith sang “Red, White and Blue,”over the speakers, I was taken back.
It’s a funny thing how music, smells, and even sounds can transport us to another time. When I smell Pumpkin bread, I’m transported back to when I was a child. When I hear certain songs, memories of days gone by come flooding back.
But yesterday was funny, in that I’m not a country music fan, but as I listened to this song, my heart became nostalgic for “home”.
Home for a missionary is a funny thing. Because to be honest, we have multiple homes, and even the idea of where home is can leave one feeling undone. Yet, hearing this song, shot me across the oceans quick to the other side of the world.
And I began to long for this other home. For the familiarity this home represents, the loved ones living there, and the comforts that seem to go hand in hand.
It is funny to listen to my kids talk about this other home. They seem to remember all things good and have forgotten all things bad. They remember things from a different standpoint than either myself or my husband, and they dream about the yummy foods, and fun things this “home” represents.
As the song ended, and we finished up our appointment, we gathered up our things to go to our home here. And I laughed as we walked to the main road in the rain, boarded the public bus, and watched as we passed multiple cows in the road.
Life here is quite different from life there. Though we do many of the same things we would do there, doing them takes more time and can often be far more complicated.
Home there means football games, fire works, family gatherings and bbq’s. Home here means rice and dhal, cows, temples, and load shedding.
I’ve learned over the years that home isn’t a place so much as home is the people you are with.My home is with my husband, with my children, and where God leads.
And my eternal “home” is Heaven. The truth is, we are all foreigners, aliens passing through on our way home.
Here in Nepal, I’m often asked, where is your home? My answer, your answer.. let it be…
My home is in heaven. And until we get there, we are to live here, serving Him.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.“If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . .” … So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near–
Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”
It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . .”
Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.
Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
Then it has done you no good at all!”
It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”
I may be on a pilgrimage in Romanian monasteries, but St Paisios’ the Athonite, my patron Saint‘s, presence is strongly felt all over Romania. Plenty of icons of his and books with his services and spiritual counsels in all monasteries and churches I have been so far! I truly regret having to leave this week of all weeks Greece, but thanks be to God, while this was going on inside Souroti monastery church on July 12, and this outside the church, near his tomb
Much longer queues than in 2013 … every year longer! The Lord is glorified in His saints!
the faithful all over in Romania were holding Vigils and praying Akathists and Supplication canons, asking for his prayers.
Wherever I go, the moment Romanians realise that I am Greek and my home town is near Souroti, they start asking for my telephone number and email, so that I can make arrangements and help them go and venerate his tomb.
Just in case you missed it, this is a beautiful documentary (in Russian with English subtitles) about the life of St. Paisios the Athonite and his years spent on Mount Sinai in Egypt.
And another one:
And yet another one by the Patriarchate of Moscow (a film documentary of six episodes with total duration of 5 hours on the holy life and work of Saint Paisius of Mount Athos):
The monastery of Pissiota, located in Poienarii Burchi, was built between 1928 and 1929 by Nicolae Pissiota (1860-1940), a great man of culture, and his wife, Zoe Pissiota (1868-1940), on the estate bought from the family of General Gheorghe Angelescu (1850-1923), an important name in the 1877 war.
The first record of the village of Poienarii Burchi dates back to 21st September 1594, on the former „Poeana” estate of Lady Stanca, the wife of Michael the Brave. The village was dedicated by Lady Stanca to the Simonopetra monastery of Mount Athos, in 1594. The original document is kept at the Archives of the State in Bucharest.
The engineer Nicolae Pissiota, of Macedonian origin, born in Greece and settled in Walachia, had a huge fortune that allowed him to build this place of worship. The church was designed by the architect Ioan Giurgea – a harmonious combination between Italian Renaissance style and the Byzantine elements that are specific to Romanian churches.
Famous names were called to decorate the church: Costin Petrescu (1877-1954), the one that painted the interior frescoes of the Romanian Athenaeum, or the Cathedral of Alba Iulia, and his apprentice, Gheorghe Eftimiu.
The portraits of the patrons and of the Patriarchs Miron Cristea and Justinian Marina were done by the painter Vasile Rudeanu (in 1956). The iconostasis is carved in rosewood and cherry wood, brought from Greece, creating a balance between sensitivity and detail, influenced by Italian art.
The furniture was carved of oak wood, with ethnic motifs, by the sculptor Anghel Dima, in 1928, the author of Mihai Eminescu’s sculpture in front of the Romanian Athenaeum. The floor is made of red Carrara marble; underneath the church lie the marble crypts where the patrons and their families are buried. Inside the church there are icons and silver icon lights, in Brancoveanu style, as well as triodyons, Pentecostarians and hymn books.
The defining religious element in the Holy Monastery of Pissiota is the Icon of the Holy Virgin with the Child – miracle-working icon. The icon is painted on oak wood, against a background of Byzantine brocade, signed by the famous painter Gheorghe Eftimiu, the apprentice of the great Costin Petrescu.
For two decades after the opening, between 1928 and 1948, the monastery was a monk monastery. In 1948, the Patriarch Justinian Marina transformed it into a monastery of nuns, and this is how it remained until 1962, when it was discontinued. In 1993, after 31 years in ruin, the monastery resumed its community life.
Currently, the monastery is inhabited by 23 nuns and a priest; prayer is in harmony with work, as there are tailoring workshops where priestly vestments and clothes are made, allowing people to add the little money they have for the restoration of the monastery.
People are so beautiful it hurts. We all have this beauty in us, this otherworldly potential to be so much more than what we settle for. At times, this awareness is the only thing that makes sense of this senseless existence, its very foundation, the star calling us forward, the purpose of this flesh. Most of the times, though, it makes life ever more painful, because it throws light upon the dark truths we have spent a lifetime learning to ignore.
Someone’s asked in an email from where I get the strength to keep going. The raw answer is: fear. Fear and desperation and the knife-like breath of death I see slowly and implacably eating me from the inside, consuming the beauty within myself, the beauty within you. I look in the mirror and I see a caged animal, waiting in line to be sacrificed. I live with the awareness that none of the breaths I’ve taken, none of the things I’ve felt and done have life within themselves.
The most painful thing I live with, the heaviest weight I carry is the total, perfect knowledge that there is no memory here to preserve even the slightest trace of our sparks of life.
I look in the mirror and I see nothing that will survive death. I stare at this nothingness and life becomes a desperate attempt to outrun death. At times, this turns into pure isolation, and no island can be far enough; no darkness thick enough to cover me. Other times, for very few and rare moments, this turns into white silence. A bright blanket of silence that covers my mind like rarefied air. Up there, in those rarefied clouds, floating high above death, there is Rest, there is Peacefulness.