The Butterfly Lesson

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“One day a tiny tear appeared on a cocoon. One man was watching the butterfly trying to push her body through the opening. The struggle lasted for hours. Then it looked as though every activity had ceased. It looked as though the butterfly had done all it could and could not move any further. The man took a pair of scissors and opened up the cocoon. The butterfly moved out easily yet her body and her wings looked withered.

The man continued watching. He was waiting for her to flap her wings, hoping they would slowly grow, strengthen and become able to lift the butterfly to the air.

Yet, the butterfly went through her entire life moving painfully and slowly, harboring a wasted body and withered wings. She never managed to fly away.

What this kind man could not understand was that the restricted space in the cocoon and the struggle the butterfly waged served to force the liquids in her body to move towards her wings, so that she would be able to fly away as soon as she would get out.

Sometimes we too need this kind of struggle.

If we go through life without facing any troubles, we will be wasting away. We would not be as strong as we could be. We would never be able to ‘fly away’.

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I have asked for strength…

I faced trouble so that I could become stronger

I have asked for wisdom…

I was given riddles to solve

I have asked for a good life…

I was given a brain and a healthy body so that I could work

I have asked for courage…

I was given obstacles to overcome

I have asked for love…

I met people in pain so that I could help them

I have asked for favours…

I was given opportunities

I did not receive what I have asked for…

But I did receive what I needed”.

Translated by Filothei

Source: synodoiporia.blogspot.gr/

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Carpe Diem and Christmas

 

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Carpe Diem:  Kairos Moments In Our Chronos

An Orthodox Theology of Time – III / V

Everything we do is marked by the steady march of time. Seconds lead to minutes to hours to days to weeks to years to decades to centuries.

The problem for all of us is that the clock is always running the wrong way, and we simply cannot stop its precipitous crawl toward the next tick. We lose moments to the past, out of our reach, never to be regained.

Where did all the years go?

The kids have grown and gone. We’re muddling along in a career, making a living, just existing out of habit more than anything.

Did I miss out on my chance to make a difference?

The Greek language has a couple of words that mean “time.” The first is most familiarchronos . It means the chronology of days, governed by the carefully calculated earths’ sweep around the sun. God himself ordained this measurement of days on the fourth day of Creation, spinning the heavenly lights “for seasons, and for days and years.”

Boy, do I know about time. The wrinkles etched on my face; the wrinkles etched on my heart are the visual reminders of chronos.

But another word for time is also used in the New Testament—kairos . This speaks more to specific, God-ordained times throughout history, sometimes called the “right time” or “appointed season” (Titus 1:3).  Kairos is God’s dimension—one not marked by the past, the present, or the future.

When Jesus came, it was a fulfillment of promises past, a cosmic collision of the sacred and secular. It was an intersection of the holy will of God and the stubborn ways of man.It was a perfect moment.  John the Baptist said in Mark 1:15 that “time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” 

This godly kairos pierced its way into creation at just the right time, slicing through chronos with a cry of a baby in a manger.

The cross was another kairos moment. Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Kairos moments then—and now—allow us to get a glimpse of the “other side.” We peek around the corner at eternity. We actually glimpse how God works.

As the omniscient, omnipresent Deity, God is not bound by the confines of space or time. That’s why He flows into our existence when we least expect Him. When we ask for something right away, it might not always come. Or when we don’t ask at all. But he shows up. It can be frustrating, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years.”  It can also be surprising “a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet 3:8).

We should always live our days looking for those moments, those inexplicable times when His will and his way intersect with our daily walks.

And they can happen anytime! A friend calls you out of the blue to give a good word. A child’s innocent joy pierces a long, hard day of struggle. A coworker takes a moment to lend a hand.

God is always surprising us with his perfect, kairos timing.
Am I ready, waiting, and watching for him to move in my life?

Source: Living a Kairos Life in a Chronos World, By DAVID RUPERT MAY 22, 2009 at http://www.thehighcalling.org/articles/essay/living-kairos-life-chronos-world

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Hebrews 3

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day

15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

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To Be Continued

For Part II go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/4441/

For Part IV go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/woundedness-the-sisyphus-myth/

A Wise Man or a Fool?

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An African fable (UGANDA)

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ONCE upon a time there was a potter and his wife who had one child, a little boy, and as he grew older they were grieved to see that he was different from all other children.

He never played with them, or laughed, or sang; he just sat alone by himself, he hardly ever spoke to his parents, and he never learnt the nice polite manners of the other children in the village. He sat and thought all day, and no one knew what he thought about, and his parents were very sad.

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The other women tried to comfort the potter’s wife. They said: “Perhaps you will have another baby, and it will be like other children.” But she said:

“I don’t want another baby; I want this one to be nice.” And the men of the village tried to cheer the potter. “Queer boys often become great men,” they said. And one old man said: “Leave the boy alone; we shall see whether he is a wise man or a fool.”

The potter went home and told his wife what the men had said, and the boy heard him, and it seemed to wake him up, and he thought it over for a few days, and at last one morning at dawn he took his stick in his hand and went into the forest to think there.

All day he wandered about, and at last he came to a little clearing on the side of a hill from which he could look down over the country. The Sun was setting over the distant blue hills, and everything was touched with a pink and golden light, and deep shadows lay on the banana gardens and forests in the distance, but the boy saw none of these things; he was footsore and weary and miserable, and he sat down on a fallen log, tired out with his long day.

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Suddenly a lion came out on to the clearing.

“What are you doing here all alone?” he said severely.

“I am very miserable,” said the boy, “and I have come into the forest to think, for I do not know whether I am a wise man or a fool.”

“Is that all you think about?” said the lion.

“Yes,” answered the boy, “I think about it night and day.”

“Then you are a fool,” said the lion decidedly. “Wise men think about things that benefit the country.” And he walked away.

Then an antelope came bounding out on the clearing and stopped to stare at the boy.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“I am very miserable,” answered the boy; “I don’t know whether I am a wise man or a fool.”

“Do you ever eat anything?” said the antelope.

“Yes,” said the boy, “my mother cooks twice a day, and I eat.”

“Do you ever thank her?” said the antelope.

“No, I have never thought of that,” answered the boy.

“Then you are a fool,” said the antelope. “Wise men are always grateful.” And he bounded off into the forest again.

AM I A WISE MAN OR A FOOL? ASKED THE POTTER'S SON

Then a leopard came up and looked suspiciously at him.

“What are you doing here?” he asked crossly.

“I am very miserable,” answered the boy; “I don’t know if I am a wise man or a fool.”

“Do they love you in your village?” asked the leopard.

“No, I don’t think they do,” said the boy. “I am not like other boys. I don’t know them very well.”

“Then you are a fool,” said the leopard. “All boys are nice; I often wish I were a boy; wise men mix with their fellows and earn their respect.” And he walked on sniffing.

Just then the big grey elephant came shuffling along the forest path, swinging his tail as he walked, and picking a twig here and a leaf there as he passed under the trees.

“What are you doing here all alone in the jungle when the Sun is setting?” he asked. “You should be at home in your village.”

“I am very miserable,” said the boy. “I don’t know if I am a wise man or a fool.”

“What work do you do?” asked the elephant.

“I don’t do any work,” said the boy.

“Then you are a fool,” said the elephant. “All wise men work.” And he swung away down the path which leads to the pool in the forest where the animals go to drink, and the boy put his head down in his hands and cried bitterly, as if his heart would break, for he did not know what to do.

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After a little while he heard a gentle voice by his side: “My little brother, do not cry so; tell me your trouble.” The boy raised his tear-stained face and saw a little hare standing by his side.

“I am very miserable,” he said. “I am not like other people, and nobody loves me. I came into the forest to find out whether I am a wise man or a fool, and all the animals tell me I am a fool.” And he put his head in his hands again and cried more bitterly than ever.

The hare let him cry on for a little while, and then he said: “My little brother, do not cry any more. What the animals have told you is true; they have told you to think great thoughts, to be grateful and kind to others, and, above all, to work. All these things are great and wise. The animals are never idle, and they marvel to see how men, with all their gifts, waste their lives. Think how surprised they are to see a boy like you, well and strong, doing nothing all day, for they know that the world is yours if you will make it so.”

The Sun had set behind the distant hills and the soft darkness was falling quickly over the forest, and the hare said: “Soon it will be chilly here; you are tired and hungry, and far from your village; come and spend the night in my home and we will talk of all these things.”

So they went into the forest again, and the hare brought the boy water in a gourd and wonderful nuts to eat, and made him a soft bed of dry leaves.

And they talked of many things till the boy said: “My father is a potter, and I think I should like to be a potter too.” “If you are, you must never be content with poor work,” said the hare. “Your pottery must be the best in the country; never rest until you can make really beautiful things; no man has any right to send imperfect work out into the world.” “Nobody will believe in me when I go home; they will think I am mad,” said the boy. And the little hare answered: “Man’s life is like a river, which flows always on and on; what is past is gone for ever, but there is clear water behind; no man can say it is too late, and you are only a boy with your life before you.”

“They will laugh at me,” said the boy.

“Wise men don’t mind that,” said the hare; “only fools are discouraged by laughter; you must prove to them that you are not a fool. I will teach you a song to sing at your work; it will encourage you:

“When the shadows have melted in silver dawn,
Farewell to my dreams of play.
The forest is full of a waking throng,
And the tree-tops ring with the birds’ new song,
And the flowers awake from their slumber long,
And the world is mine to-day.”My feet are sure and my hands are strong.
Let me labour and toil while I may.
When the Sun shall set in a sea of light,
And the shadows lengthen far into the night,
I shall take the rest which is mine by right,
For I’ll win the world to-day.”

… So the boy went back to his village, and he found his mother digging in the garden, and he knelt down and greeted her as all nice Baganda children do, and he saw how pleased she was. Then he went to his father, and said: “I want to be a potter; teach me your work and I will try to learn it.” And the potter was very much pleased to think that he would have a son to take on his trade after him, and all the people in the village heard and they rejoiced with the potter and his wife.

And the boy worked hard, and in after years he became a famous potter, and people came from all parts of the country to buy his pottery, for everyone knew that he never sold anything that was not beautiful and well made.

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Source:  THE KING OF THE SNAKES AND OTHER FOLK-LORE STORIES FROM UGANDA

http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/baskerville/king/king.html#XXVII

Simplicity, the Ultimate Sophistication

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Leonardo da Vinci. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
In Paulo Coelho’s brilliant little book, The Alchemist, the author tells of a young lad sent by his father to a wise man to discover the secret of happiness. The wise man lived in a magnificent, faraway castle complete with sweet music, beautiful artwork, delicious food, and sprawling gardens. It was a wonder of the world. After a long journey to the castle and waiting for hours to speak to the sage, the boy finally gained an audience. The wise man listened to the boy’s explanation for his visit, then answered, “I do not have time to reveal the secret of happiness to you.” Instead, he handed the boy a teaspoon with two tiny drops of oil in it, and instructed him to wander around the castle for two hours without spilling the oil.

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The lad did as instructed, carefully climbing the high stairwells and creeping down the long hallways of the palace, his eyes always fixed on the teaspoon. When he returned to the wise man, he was asked, “Did you see my Persian tapestries, my extravagant gardens, my parchments in the library?” Embarrassed, the boy replied that he had not. He had been focused solely on the drops of oil in the spoon. With this confession the boy was sent back to tour the castle, and this time he focused all his attention on the beauty that surrounded him. He returned to the wise man with excitement, thrilled at all he had seen. The wise man then asked, “And where are the two drops of oil I gave you?”

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The boy realized that he had spilt them along the way. The wise man then revealed his “secret” to happiness: “Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.” This parabolic story calls for a much needed balance: Joy is the product of being in tune with the world around us, while caring for the few precious things we have been given to carry on our journey. We cannot ignore the realities of our surroundings, and we cannot ignore our personal responsibilities.

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But the real brains of Coelho’s story is that the wise man gave the boy only two drops to carry in his spoon; not a quart of oil, not a five-gallon bucket full, and certainly not a heavy, back-breaking tank of the stuff. It was only a couple of drops, revealing that happiness is maintained by keeping our personal load as light as possible. Do you want to be happy? Lighten your load and simplify your life. The most deeply spiritual thing that some of us could do is have a garage sale. Purge our calendars. Resign from a few of our many activities. Our unhappiness isn’t related to a poor prayer life, the lack of reading the Scriptures, or going to church too little.

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We are carrying too much baggage. We are trying to manage too much stuff. We have too many possessions, too many obligations, and too many batons juggling in the air. This is an unqualified recipe for misery. Because all of these weights and concerns of life — most of which we have assumed (they haven’t been put upon us by anyone else) — are choking out any real chance at being happy, as we simply cannot carry our self-loaded burdens or lift our heads to see the beauty around us.

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None of us can live our lives, worship our God, enjoy our world, or take care of those who have been given to us to love (these are the few, priceless drops in the spoon by the way), if we are constantly looking at our own shoelaces, burdened with ourselves and our many concerns. Thus, when we simplify, we are doing much more than getting rid of physical possessions or conserving our precious time. We are sharpening our emotional focus; we are making spiritual space. We are choosing to be happy. Happiness, after all, is an intentional choice, and it is the wisest choice of all.

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“The Wisdom of Simplicity” by Ronnie McBrayer at http://www.wilsoncountynews.com/article.php?id=50850&n=keeping-faith-ronnie-mcbrayer-keeping-faith-wisdom-simplicity

Bending in the Archer’s Hand

Poetry, Theology, Videos: Orthodox Worship, Conception and the Personhood of the Unborn 

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Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahlil Gibran – The Prophet

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Jeremiah 1:5

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance” Psalm 139:16

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Orthodox Worship, Conception and the Personhood of the Unborn 

“If we turn to the Festal cycle, the consciousness of the personhood of the unborn is strikingly manifest especially in three important Feasts: The first is the Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist (September 23) in which we sing: “Rejoice, O barren one, who had not given birth; for behold you have clearly conceived the one who was about to illuminate the whole universe, blighted by blindness. Shout in joy, O Zacharias, crying in favor; truly the one to be born is a prophet of the High!” John the Baptist existed as a human being and a part of God’s plan of salvation from the moment of his conception.

The second is the Conception of the Theotokos (December 9). Here the vesperal hymn proclaims: “Behold the promises of the Prophets are realized for the  Holy Mountain is planted in the womb, the Divine Ladder is set up, the great Throne of the King is ready, the place for the passage of the Lord is prepared . . .” It is notable that both Elizabeth and Anna were advanced in years and barren. Thus they were considered “cursed” in the Jewish tradition where children were a sign of God’s blessing. (Consider that mind-set with our own of today and how God’s Plan is being affected by the hundreds of millions who will never participate in it.)

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The quintessential Feast illustrating the Church’s belief of the importance of human beings from the moment of conception is the Annunciation (March 25) which is so important that a Divine Liturgy must be served even when it falls on Great and Holy Friday! The Annunciation Troparion makes a most profound statement:

“Today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the eternal mystery! The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin as Gabriel announces the coming of grace…” 

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  This is a far cry from the “pro-choice” rhetoric of “Who knows when life begins?” or the degradation of the unborn by calling him a “blob of tissue” and a “product of conception.”

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Can any Christian seriously propose that Jesus Christ was ever a “blob” or an appendage of the Theotokos’s body?

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At the Great Compline the hymnography makes this astonishing claim: “…O marvel! God has come among men; He who cannot be contained in a womb; the timeless One enters time…For God empties Himself, takes flesh, and is fashioned as a creature, when the angel tells the pure Virgin of her conception…” This is not sung at the feast of our Lord’s Nativity but at His conception!!! Such concepts as “viability” and “quickening” are utterly withoutmeaning and irrelevant.

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Scripture and the Unborn 

In the New Testament, consciousness of the personhood of the unborn is clearly manifested. The same word – brephos – is used for the child in the womb as out of the womb unlike modern medical and scientific distinctions of “zygote,” “embryo,” “fetus“ etc. used to differentiate among the stages of pre-natal life. The Latin word “fetus” simply means “little one” and was never intended as a means of denying humanity to the child dwelling in his mother’s womb. A similar pattern of language occurs in the Old Testament as in the book of Job 3:16 in which he refers to: “Infants [gohlal] which never saw the light.” 

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In Luke 1:41 we find another astonishing image of the scriptural consciousness of the personhood of the unborn: “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb” Here, the unborn John the Baptist recognizes and rejoices at the unborn Messiah – a “fetus” greeting a “fetus.” This is not just a “literary device” as some would insist. It illustrates the narrator’s consciousness of the already existing personality – and Divine calling – of an unborn human being. We do celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, the Theotokos, and the Lord Jesus Himself, but we also celebrate their conception – their entry into time and the physical world – the “fulness of time” as it is called by St. Paul.

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A more profound point to this all is that these feasts, especially the Annunciation, point to the Incarnation. By Jesus Christ taking on our humanity from the moment of conception, existing in the pre-natal condition in the womb of the Theotokos, experiencing birth, living through infancy to adulthood, and finally physical death, God sanctified every moment of human existence – from conception to death.

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There is more to this – God also completely identifies with us in our fallen suffering nature, and by dying for us on the cross, He expresses His solidarity with us: whether we are a zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent, adult, or elderly: human existence is a continuum from conception, and – yes – beyond death to life eternal in the Lord! Read the rest of the article at “Abortion: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the Sanctity of Human Life” by Rev. Deacon John Protopapas at https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/abortion-an-orthodox-christian-perspective-on-the-sanctity-of-human-life/

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“Science Does TOO Know When “Human Life” Begins”. Read more at http://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism

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Watch a disturbing undercover investigative video by Live Action, “What is Human?”, which  probes America’s late-term abortion industry, and reveals chilling admissions from abortionists on the humanity of children in the womb, at https://www.lifesitenews.com/pulse/this-viral-video-is-changing-countless-minds-about-abortion

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Watch a very disturbing undercover video which catches planned parenthood selling “uterine contents” (ie. one unborn baby plus placenta and amniotic fluid –> aborted baby body parts), while casually sipping wine and eating salad at a ‘business’ lunch: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/80682.htm

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Watch a new, shocking video: Planned Parenthood abortionist–between sips- jokes about harvesting baby’s brains, getting ‘intact’ head at https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/tearing-off-a-babys-head-intact-is-something-to-strive-for-planned-parentho 

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“Hooverized” is a California High School Expression for an abortion

As for “Reproductive Justice”,  there is absolutely nothing ‘just’ about abortion!

Check more Pro-Choice Euphemisms at http://gerardnadal.com/2010/05/31/how-many-pro-choice-euphemisms-can-you-list/

OrthodoxWord

Abortion: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the Sanctity of Human Life 

 

Reflection:

Each human being is unique creation of God. Each one of us has never been before and will never be again – throughout all eternity each human being who is, has, and will be conceived is unique.

  

By Rev. Deacon John Protopapas, Executive Director,Orthodox Christians for Life 

 

Overview

  The Orthodox Church regards abortion as premeditated murder. As such, She strongly opposes it because God demands the protection of all innocent human life, including that of the unborn child. The humanity (personhood) of that child exists from conception, a scientific fact that has always been recognized and unquestioned in Orthodox theology from the very beginning. Indeed, conception and not birth is the moment of the union of soul and body.

  The Early Church – of which the Orthodox Church is a…

View original post 4,528 more words

Solomon, I have outdone thee!

An excellent documentary and a unique website featuring the grandest Byzantine church of them all, “Hagia Sophia”, Church of the Holy Wisdom in Istanbul, Turkey  

 

 

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Iconographer and Russian historian launches unique website featuring “Hagia Sophia,” Church of the Holy Wisdom

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Mosaïque de l'impératrice Zoé, Sainte-Sophie (Istanbul, Turquie)    Mosaïques de l'entrée sud-ouest de Sainte-Sophie (Istanbul, Turquie)

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An interesting new site illustrating the history of Constantinople’s Church of the Holy Wisdom  popularly known as “Hagia Sophia”  recently appeared on the internet.

A “must visit” for Orthodox Christians, especially those interested in Church history, iconography, mosaics, and ecclesiastical architecture, the site gives special attention to the magnificent “Deesis” mosaic in the church’s south gallery.  Depicting Christ flanked by the Theotokos and Saint John the Forerunner, the exquisite mosaic was uncovered in the 1930s.  It is one of the world’s most beloved images of Our Lord.

Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the early sixth century, Hagia Sophia replaced two earlier churches, the first built in 380 AD.

* In the time of Justinian, it had a thousand clergy and in Neara, Herakleion, there is a catalogue listing in the 7th century 600 people, consisting of “80 priests, 150 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 70 sub-deacons, 160 lectors, 25 cantors, and 75 door-keepers”.

http://pemptousia.com/2016/01/haghia-sophia-such-ecstasy-can-never-be-forgotten/

It is an engineering marvel, inasmuch as its massive freestanding central dome  the world’s largest of its kind  has withstood everything from earthquakes to invasions for 1500 years.  After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD, it became a mosque.  Its current status  that of a state museum  dates back to the early 1900s.

The site is the work of Bob Atchison, an iconographer and Russian historian from Seattle, WA who now lives in Austin, TX.  His interest in Hagia Sophia, and especially it’s Deesis mosaic, dates back to his childhood.

The site, which includes invaluable historical information, illustrations, maps and plans, and original photographs not readily found elsewhere, is of special interest to Orthodox Christians in general, and specifically to those desiring deeper insights into Orthodox Church history, iconography, liturgy, and ecclesiastical architecture.

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When Justinian had finished the construction he supposedly proclaimed, “Solomon, I have outdone thee!”

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The site may be accessed here : http://www.pallasweb.com/deesis

 

Source: http://oca.org/news/oca-news/iconographer-and-russian-historian-launches-unique-website-featuring-hagia