Waiting For God

Amidst wars, violence, refugee crises, terrorism, upheavals and worldwide Christian persecution, Christmas 2015 is so similar in so many respects to the very first Christmas and to the dark, hostile, unfriendly world Christ was born!

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“This has been such a tough year – not only for so many of us, but for the world as a whole. Like never before, I long for Christ to come and turn this dust we are made of into Divine Flesh once again. The Nativity Fast never felt so difficult for me, I went through it with such a heavy heart. Everywhere you look, you see war and terror, bombings, torture, extremism of all sorts.

Now, Christmas is almost here. Christ will descend again upon the world, and the world will once again open up to His presence. Deep down, the earth changes. Deep down, we all change. I have never longed for Him as I do now. I have never felt as thirsty for His presence as I am now. The world itself never felt so dry and empty and lost without Him.”(*)

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For detailed data on how Christians clearly represent the most persecuted people on earth in the 21st century, go to 2015 World Watch List, Overview

And we are not talking here of a bit of ridicule or silly marginalisation. We are talking about men, women and children being singled out because of their Christian faith or identity and put to an unimaginably cruel death. Or being driven out of home, away from livelihood, deprived of identity and dignity. Or, for women and girls, being forced into sexual slavery and subjected to rape-at-will. … http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/thunderer/article4649135.ece

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(*) For Father Seraphim’s moving blog entry in full, go to http://www.mullmonastery.com/monastery-blog/waiting-for-christ/

 

 

 

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Paris Massacre’s “Act of War”

 

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In Memoriam  —  A Video, Liturgic Chant and Iconography Tribute and  Islam’s New Martyrs’ ‘Army’

In the darkness of the Paris tragedy,  May God give rest to all the victims! Comfort to their families! Mercy to the killers! Repentance for the assassins before they depart this earth! Saints Denis, Genevieve, and Maria of Paris, Irenaios of Lyons, Martin and Gregory of Tours, Prosper of Aquitaine, John Cassian the Roman, Caesarius of Arles, Hilary of Poitiers, and all the martyrs and saints of France, pray for the protection of the people of France and our world!

Litanie des saints de Paris

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRbtJi_U-BE&app=desktop

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A Letter from the People of the Cross to ISIS

The world is talking about you
Your apocalyptic dreams and spectacular sins
Are now awakening the middle east
In your holy war, come to holy ground
Come children of Abraham come
The people of the cross gathers at your gates with a message

Love is coming after you.
Like a rush of wind grazing over the pacific
From hills of the mount of olives to the desert winds of Jordan
From the cedars of lebanon to the silk roads of the East
An army comes. With no tanks or soldiers
But an army of martyrs faithful unto death
Carrying a message of life
The people of the cross  
Comes to die at your gates. 
If you wont hear our message with words
Then we will show you with our lives
Laid down.

For every throat you slit and every woman you rape
For every man you burn and every child you turn to dust
There is blood on your hands brother

But Come Brothers Come

Come with your bloodstained hands,
Come with your eyes full of murder for the people of the Cross,
Come lay your guns and your knives at the foot of the cross
A love that is overdue and overwhelming
Breathes through your cities

Though your sins are like scarlet
They can be washed white as snow
Though you call yourselves servants
He will make you into Sons
Where can you run from His love?
Even the darkness cannot hide you

Come Brothers Come
There is the sound of a rushing rain
To remove your sins and bind your wounds
You die for your god but our God died for us 
The King of Kings comes to be the sacrificial lamb
Slain on the altar where we should have been
Jesus Christ, Isa Al Masih
Walks through the Middle East

There is forgiveness tonight oh brother
There is healing for your sins oh brother
We are no different.
Apart from Christ, we are no better than the worst jihadist
Christ has been crucified once. and for All.
To make sinners like you and me into brothers
Even you.
Even now.

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Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? (A Letter from the People of the Cross)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSv4vBcFyvo

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Paris terror attacks: a night of carnage in France’s capital–Friday November 13

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” 

“It still remains unclear how the situation developed inside the concert hall. According to witnesses, the attackers stormed the venue as a California rock group ‘Eagles of Death Metal’ was performing on the stage. A Europe 1 journalist, who was inside the Bataclan, said the men were unmasked and carried what he recognized as Kalashnikov-type guns. “The assailants had time to reload at least three times. They were not masked, masters of themselves. They were very young,” the reporter Julian Pearce said, according to the Liberation newspaper. People who managed to flee the theater reported seeing between six and eight shooters inside were killing those who remained in the concert hall “one by one”. One of the gunmen at Bataclan reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” meaning, “God is [the] greatest” in Arabic.

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In 1714, just before Easter, Constantin Brancoveanu – the Christian ruler of the Romanian Kingdom for 26 years – was taken to Istanbul and imprisoned. His four sons were imprisoned with him. In a typical gesture, the Muslim rulers of the Ottoman Empire gave them the well-known choice: convert to Islam or die. Because they refused to deny Christ, on August 15th (the Dormition Feast), they were all decapitated – first the Christian king’s councillor was beheaded, then all his sons (Matthew, the youngest of them, was 11 years old). The King, his wife and daughters, were forced to witness the public executions. Western diplomats were present; the official representatives of France, England and Russia (among others) felt they could not refuse the Muslim ruler’s invitation. In the end, after the killing of all his sons, the King himself was publicly executed – it was his 60th birthday. Their heads were carried and displayed through Istanbul; their bodies were thrown in the Bosphorus. Today, they are all commemorated as Martyrs.

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The Glorification of 1241 New Martyrs of Naousa

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Central photograph of St. Philoumenos the New Righteous Hieromartyr, the Cypriot, at Jacob’s Well where Christ spoke with St. Photini. Surrounding are other pictures and icons of St. Philoumenos and associated scenes. He was martyred on November 16th/29th 1979

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St. Philoumenos the New Hieromartyr of Jacob’s Well

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Holy New-Martyrs of Jasenovac

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St. Jacob of Hamatoura

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Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia

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… Three centuries later; we see Muslim children carrying the heads of the people their fundamentalist parents have murdered. We hear these children calling for more executions. The only difference is that, this time, Western journalists are also killed.

The West may be in shock, but Eastern Europe isn’t. For us, this is just the return of a very recent nightmare. Less than a century ago, the Ottoman Empire was still present here, in our countries. Think about that!

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New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke

We all – West and East – have so much to learn from each other. The world needs to look at its past – its common past. The West needs to understand that what happens in other parts of the world will one day (very soon, it seems) happen at home, in its own back-yard.

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The 1241 New Martyrs of Naousa who were brutally massacred 

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 The 21 New Martyrs of Egypt & Libya

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Saint Ephraim the Newly-Revealed Wonderworker of Nea Makri

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Holy New Martyrs Emmanuel, Anezina, George and Maria, The Four Crypto-Christians New Martyrs

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The 100,000 Holy Martyrs of Tbilisi

When one visits the thousands of Orthodox monasteries in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, one must learn how to see beyond their exterior beauty and exoticism. All these places are built on harrowing pain and horror, yet they remain living prayers for the peace and salvation of the whole world; for centuries, they’ve held on to a holy stubbornness to not let go of hope, to not let go of love, to not allow hate to win and take over our hearts.

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New Martyrs Raphael, Nikolaos, Eirini

If that happened, if we let go of love and embraced the hatred, we’d be denying Christ; we’d be losing the real battle, the battle these old and new Christian martyrs died for.

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Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here: a quote from the first act of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Source:  http://www.mullmonastery.com/uncategorized/1714-2014-love-and-hate-not-much-has-changed/ . Read also http://myocn.net/an-orthodox-christian-response-to-beheading-by-muslims/

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“As the world reels from the horrors we have read and talked about since Thursday, our only recourse remains that which is the most powerful: prayer.” (Ryan Hunter)

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“The Muslim threat will not be neutralized, and Muslims will not come to see the falsehood of their own faith, – which, after all, must be our hope and the only real solution to the problem – until and unless the Christians stop appeasing them through their anti-Christian ecumenism and debauchery, demonstrating in their own lives what it is to be a real Christian. The present confrontation between Western ecumenism and Muslim terrorism is providential … a final appeal to the conscience of Western Christians to cast off their indifference and acquire zeal for the one true faith, which is Christianity.” http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/690/islamic-terrorism-western-ecumenism/

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Die Before you Die

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“If you die before you die, you will not die when you die” (Greek Orthodox monastery)

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“… This week, I noticed a pattern in popular music of our time that I had not noticed before. It was something I heard in song lyrics. I’ll quote some for you from a few different songs:

So cut me from the line / Dizzy, spinning endlessly / Somebody make me feel alive /
And shatter me. (Lindsey Stirling / Lzzy Hale, “Shatter Me”)

Don’t let me die here / There must be something more / Bring me to life (Evanescence, “Bring Me to Life”)

How can the only thing that’s killing me make me feel so alive? (Parachute, “She (For Liz)”)

I could lie, couldn’t I, couldn’t I? / Every thing that kills me makes me feel alive. (OneRepublic, “Counting Stars”)

Do whatever I’m yours / Do whatever I’m sure / Anything, anything, anything, anything to feel alive (Jhené Aiko, “Drinking and Driving”)

When everything feels like the movies /Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive (Goo Goo Dolls, “Iris”)

Those are from six different songs. I could quote lots more like this, but this sample should suffice. These are all popular songs from the radio.

So what is the pattern? There are two things here. First, there is a cry out to be made to “feel alive” or to “come alive.” I did a Google search on a large popular song lyrics website, and there were nearly 1,100 songs that mentioned wanting to “feel alive.” Almost 1,300 used the phrase “come alive.” 100 used the phrase “bring me to life.”

I started clicking around when I saw this pattern and looked at the full lyrics to a few dozen songs. And the second pattern I noticed was that this language of wanting to feel alive was often paired with language about death and/or violence. For many of these lyricists, the key to feeling “alive” was first to die, to feel the pain of violence or to commit violence.

… So what is the point of this little tour through pop music? This is just one way of taking the temperature of our culture, of getting a sense of where we are as a people. There is a sort of anesthetization of life these days. We’re always trying to feel better, to feel entertained, to feel alive. And our pop songs sing about violence—even self-violence. And the movies and TV get more graphically violent. And the consumption of pornography is nearly off the charts. And we watch wars in other countries on TV as a perverse form of entertainment. …

Compare all this violence with Apostle Paul’s words: “I bear in my body the brand-marks of the Lord Jesus.” …  Into our culture of virtual violence and screaming out for the feeling of life come these words of the Apostle Paul: “But God forbid that I should boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”

It’s not clear exactly what Paul means when he says that he bears in his body “the brand-marks of the Lord Jesus.” But he is probably speaking of his own suffering, that he has been physically wounded for his confession of faith. Paul is no stranger to violence. He feels pain. He is beaten. He is thrown into prison. He will be beheaded. Paul knows about violence. He knows about death.

… Paul embraces the death of the world! And he embraces his own death. But not because he just wants to feel alive. He embraces death because he knows that in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is life. He embraces death because he knows that he himself must be crucified with Christ so that his death can be joined with Christ’s death.

This is the paradox of our great hope as Christians—that we seek life, just like the pop songs! And we seek death and even violence, just like the pop songs! But it is not just any death or any violence that brings us life. It is the suffering and death of Jesus, to which we join our own suffering and death by repentance, by confession, by the sacraments, by love.

… The pop songs get it right, but not quite right. There is more to life than merely “feeling alive.” Life is not found in mere violence and death. Life is found in sacrifice and resurrection. Life is found in Jesus Christ, and in His Cross we therefore glory. Like Paul, we boast. Like Paul, we are crucified to the world, and the world is crucified to us. And death is slain. And we are made truly alive. And with Christ we will rise from the dead.”

Source: Road from Emmaus blog

By Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/roadsfromemmaus/2015/09/13/you-bleed-just-to-know-youre-alive/