THE FEAST OF ST. CATHERINE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Sunday November 25/ December 8, 2019, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr and all-wise.

On this feast the Church commemorates St. Catherine, who was a very wise young lady from Alexandria, and with her faith in Christ and education, “with the Holy Spirit’s sword silenced brilliantly the clever among the godless” and suffered a martyr’s death for Christ performing wonders and miracles during the reign of Maxentius and Maximinus (305 A.D.).

The Patriarchate honoured the Great Martyr Catherine;

  1. With the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Ramallah, which was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, and the Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Archimandrite Kallistos, the Hegoumen of this Monastery Archimandrite Galaction, the ministering Priest of this parish Steward Fr. Jacob, Fr. Simeon and Archimandrite Seraphim from Nazareth, and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by the parish choir in Arabic and the service was attended by a large Rum-Orthodox Arab-speaking congregation of this town.

His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to this congregation;

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility” (Proverbs 15:33). [Reverence to God, the fear of God, turns the practical schooling into noble wisdom for the ones who receive the education. And the divine schooling is followed by reward and glory] the wise Solomon says.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Noble Christians

The sacred commemoration of the Holy Great Martyr Catherine has gathered us all today in this historic place, in the Church of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in order to honour in Eucharist the all-wise martyr of His love.

According to the historian Eusevius of Caesarea, St. Catherine was from Alexandria, the daughter of Konsta, a wonderful virgin, extremely wise in temperament, and glorious in wealth, family and education; with her fixed mindset, she defeated the passionate and evil soul of Maximus the tyrant from Alexandria. And with her eloquence she made speechless the orators and philosophers who initiated a debate with her. And because of her confession of Christ, she received the crown of martyrdom by our Saviour Jesus Christ, in the year 305 A.D. (Eccles. History 8:14).

Catherine the Great Martyr was distinguished among the women who martyred for Christ for her rare wisdom and education, which stemmed from the “divine fear”, namely the deep faith in the true God and the keeping of His commandments, as the psalmist says; “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them” (Psalm 103:17-18). “While the felt life is not ever-lasting, the mercy of the Lord is ever-lasting” Origen says. Commenting on the words; “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom” (Proverbs 15:33), St. Chrysostom says; “The fear of God perfects life both in its practical and theoretical aspect”.

In other words, my dear brothers and sisters, reverence of God, namely the fear of God is the foundation of the correct manner of living and of the human wisdom. For this, St. Paul says; “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23-24).

This very armor of the divine strength and wisdom of God Word the Christ did the all-lauded Catherine put on, hearkening to St. Paul’s advice; “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). 

Behold therefore why God’s glory comes along with the wisdom and education of God, as St. Peter preaches; “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4). The Great Martyr Catherine also received this “crown of glory that fadeth not away” as her hymn writer says; “Thou didst prove a voluntary Martyr, Catherine most glorious, when thou forcibly didst rebuke the tyrant, and didst convict the most grievous madness of polytheism, and by the light of grace divine and godly knowledge didst cast him to the ground. For which cause, Christ the Saviour of our souls, awarded the crown to thee as His witness in martyrdom and a virgin without reproach”.

And we wonder, what kind and of what shape is the crown of glory with which St. Catherine was crowned? This crown of the glory of our God and Saviour Christ is no other than the participation of the righteous in the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, during which His face shone like the sun, and His raiment turned white as the light (Matt. 17:2).

In other words, the all-lauded Catherine, as another disciple of Christ, was deemed worthy to the vision of the glory of God, therefore she “now rejoices with the angelic choirs, with whom thou dost unceasingly cry: Bless Christ, O ye priests; supremely exalt Him, O ye people, unto the ages” the hymn writer says. And in His prayer, Jesus Christ prays to God the Father for Himself, for His disciples the Apostles and for all who believe in Him saying: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

Interpreting the Lord’s words; “that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24), St. Cyril of Alexandria says: “it will be not possible neither for the profane and sinners nor for those who dishonor the Law to behold the glory of Christ, but [it will be possible] only for the righteous and the benign ones. And we know this from the prophet who says “Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord” (Isaiah 26:10). And also in the gospel preaching of our Saviour Christ; “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

This purity of heart made the Ever-Virgin Mary a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit, through which she became the Mother of God the Word and our Saviour Christ, Who was born of her pure blood in the cave of Bethlehem.

Our Holy Church is preparing us for this great and inconceivable event, the mystery of the Divine Providence of the incarnation of God the Word, in order to celebrate, paying heed to St. Paul’s preaching; “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).

Christ, my dear brothers and sisters, is the light of the world and the Sun of righteousness, therefore we, who bear His name, are called to put on the raiment of the light of the Sun of righteousness, which is Christ. Let us then prepare ourselves, so that the Sun of Righteousness and the light of knowledge may enter in the cave of our souls.

We are also called to this by today’s celebrated Holy Great Martyr Catherine, along with the Holy Great Martyr Mercurius, that we may imitate them, living a life in Christ in purity in all ways; and that we may say along with St. Paul; “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). Amen! Many happy returns and blessed Christmas!”

The Divine Liturgy was followed by the blessing of the water for the new halls of the parish, while the Hegoumen and the Council offered a meal to His Beatitude, who offered in turn a Cross to Archimandrite Galaction.

  1. At the Holy Monastery dedicated to St. Catherine in the Old City, a stone’s throw away from the Patriarchate, with Vespers in the afternoon and the Divine Liturgy on the morning of the feast, led by the Most Reverend Archbishop Demetrios of Lydda, with co-celebrants; Dragouman Archimandrite Mattheos and other Priests. The chanting was delivered by Monk Raphael and the services were attended by a noble congregation of local faithful and pilgrims.

After the Divine Liturgy the Hegoumen Archimandrite Stephen offered a reception.

  1. At the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, where her sacred relic is kept.

For this feast a delegation was sent from the Patriarchate, led by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis. The delegation arrived in the evening of the forefeast, participated in Vespers and at the Divine Liturgy in the All-night Vigil and returned to Jerusalem on Sunday evening.

From Secretariat-General




THE COMMEMORATION OF THE HOLY HIEROMARTYR PHILOUMENOS THE HAGIOTAPHITE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

The commemoration of the New Holy Hieromartyr Philoumenos was celebrated on Friday November 16/29, 2019 at Jacob’s well, the place of his martyrdom. When he suffered a martyr’s death he was the Hegoumen there and the current Hegoumen, Fr. Ioustinos has constructed a magnificent Church dedicated to St. Foteini the Samaritan Woman – as this is the place where she met the Lord.

St. Philoumenos’ martyrdom was validated by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem with its Synodical Act in the year 2009. In this Holy Church which is built above the chapel with the well, the Divine Liturgy on the day the Saint martyred, on 16/29 November 1979, was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, the Most Reverend Archbishops; Aristarchos of Constantina and Theophylactos of Jordan, His Eminence the Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks among who were; the Hegoumen of Beit Jala Archimandrite Ignatios, the Archimandrites; Makarios and Leontios, Fr. Kyriakos and Arab-speaking Priests. The chanting was delivered by Mr. Vasilios Gotsopoulos in Greek on the right and the Rafidia Community Choir in Arabic on the left, as the service was attended by a contrite congregation of local faithful and pilgrims from Greece, Romania, and Russia.

His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to this congregation;

“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles” (Psalm 43:3) the psalmist proclaims.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

The grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us all in this sacred place of Patriarch Jacob’s well, where our Lord Jesus Christ told the Samaritan Woman; “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), in order to honour in Eucharist the commemoration of the New Martyr of the Church of Jerusalem St. Philoumenos the Hagiotaphite.

Christ’s light and His truth guided and brought young Philoumenos from the island of Cyprus “on a holy mountain and in the dwelling places of God the Word” in the Holy City of Jerusalem, where he joined the Monastic Order of the Studious Ones, namely of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood which ministers the All-holy Shrines, which witness the martyrdom on the Cross of the “leader of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and “of [our] life” (Acts 3:15).

Hieromonk Philoumenos worked as a shepherd and with boldness for the gospel of Christ in all ministries appointed to him, in the Monastic centre of the Patriarchate and in the various villages and towns of its jurisdiction, hearkening to St. Paul’s advice; “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:7-10).

And indeed, our Holy Father Philoumenos was not ashamed of the martyrdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, during his ministry in this sacred Shrine, imitating St. Foteini, the Samaritan Woman, who became a martyr and equal to the apostles in the preaching of the gospel of Christ.

The fervent love towards God filled our Father Philoumenos with a spirit of power and love but also of wisdom, therefore he did not flinch preaching the witness and the preaching of the crucified Christ, “ unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:23) according to wise Paul.

The “revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25) of the incarnation of God the Word and our Saviour Jesus Christ, my dear Brothers and Sisters, is the one which the holy calling and Christ’s grace revealed to us, and abolished the death of corruption and sin. Moreover, it brought to light the life and incorruption with the preaching of the gospel, as St. Paul preached; “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10).

In other words, Christ revealed to us the death of eternal life, namely the death of incorruption, through His resurrection, as Theophylactos the interpreter says; “in His own body He [Christ] actively abolished death, making it [His body] incorrupt. For this reason His holy martyrs became communicants and participants of Christ’s death, namely of His eternal Kingdom. According to St. Chrysostom; “Christ lives and works in the souls of the martyrs”.

The genuine martyr of Christ’s blood is distinguished for his perfect love, as Clement of Alexandria says; “we call martyrdom an accomplishment, not because the man came to the end of his life, as the rest [of the people], but because he has accomplished the perfect work of love”. It is precisely this perfect work of love that today’s honoured martyr St. Philoumenos accomplished. And “his perfect work of love in Christ” was sealed with his confession to God that the Messiah is Christ. This confession was done in this Jacob’s well as witnessed by St. John the Evangelist; “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:25-26).

St. Philoumenos manifested again this “perfect work of love” though his martyr’s death, hearkening to the Lord’s words; “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8). This means that becoming one among the cloud of the martyrs of the Church, our Father Philoumenos did not find the confession of his Christian faith enough, but he was “planted together in the likeness of his death” (Romans 6:5), namely of Christ.

Today’s commemoration of Hieromartyr Philoumenos in this very place of his martyrdom proves that the Church of Christ is not a worldly institution but the God-man mystical body of Christ who was crucified and resurrected for us and said; “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24), “ I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25), “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

To follow Christ, my dear ones, means to be in communion of faith, as much as in communion of life and participation in His passion, in co-suffering with Him, according to the glorious example of our Holy Hieromartyr Philoumenos the Hagiotaphite.

Let us thank our Lord God Who glorified St. Philoumenos who glorified Him, who we now entreat, along with our Most Blessed Lady and Ever-Virgin Mary to intercede to our God and Saviour Christ for our souls. And along with the hymn writer let us say; “the law of the praises is being defeated by the magnitude of your feats; the Master Christ alone glorifies you with the divine splendour; fervently entreat Him for those who praise you in faith”. Amen! Many happy returns!”

After the Divine Liturgy the Hegoumen and renovator of the Monastery and founder of the new Church of St. Foteini offered a reception at the Hegoumeneion and later a meal at lunch time.

From Secretariat-General




THE 14TH ENTHRONEMENT ANNIVERSARY OF HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS

On Friday, November 9/22, 2019, a Doxology took place at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the 14th Election and Enthronement Anniversary of His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.

The Doxology was officiated by H.H.B. with co-celebrants the Hagiotaphite Archbishops and Hieromonks, Arab-speaking Priests, Deacons and Monks of all the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr. Christos Sophianopoulos and with the participation of a noble congregation from Jerusalem, other Communities of the Arab-speaking flock of the Patriarchate and pilgrims.

After the Doxology, bells tolling, the Patriarchal Entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters.

Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina addressed His Beatitude as follows;

 “Your Beatitude Father and Master,

The Mother of Churches is rejoicing today in gleefulness on the quite important and happy occasion of Your Beatitude’s Enthronement at the glorious Throne of St. James the Brother of God and First Hierarch of Jerusalem.

This was accomplished through the devoted endeavours of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood for the preservation of the Status Quo of the Holy Land and of course of the Old City of Jerusalem, which had been undermined by the illegal agreements of mortgaging its land property of incalculable value. With these endeavours, fourteen years ago, in 2005, the Brotherhood through its representative the Holy and Sacred Synod, unanimously and by normal voting “placed up on the lamppost” Your Beatitude as the worthy Shepherd and navigator of the Primeval Church of Jerusalem. The election of Your Beatitude and the subsequent Enthronement with the participation of all Orthodox Churches and with the recognition of all local governments, dispelled the vortex which severely shook but did not submerge the vessel of the Church of Jerusalem and tightened the joints of its mystical body in the bond of peace.

This event was celebrated today as it should, with the festive thanksgiving Doxology in full participation of Monks, clergy and laity at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And now, in this historic reception hall of the Patriarchate, we rend Your Beatitude the worthy praise for all the “pious, righteous and just things” You have accomplished for the All-holy Shrines, the Brotherhood and the flock.

First of all, as far as the Shrines are concerned, Your Beatitude at all times both in words and in actions and toward all directions has underlined that they are a special blessing, the special and characteristic feature and the irrefutable privilege of the Church of Jerusalem as places of the Divine appearance of Christ, and for this reason, the mission of the Brotherhood is to preserve and serve them as living litourgical places for the teaching and the sanctification of the many noble pilgrims who visit them. Considering the All-holy Shrines a heritage not only of the Brotherhood but of our nation, they have been renovated, as the Sacred Edicule, the roof of the Basilica of Bethlehem, the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist by the river Jordan, the current renovation of the God-receiving Cave, and our rights toward them have bravely been protected, such as the right of the presence of the second guard in the interior of the Edicule of the All-holy Tomb for the reception of the Coptic and Syrian Communities after the Divine Liturgy  on the Vigil of Easter and the right of the Elevation of the Holy Cross at the place of its finding, by the against the Status Quo treacherous manner of the Armenians.

The vivid interest of Your Beatitude for the Rum Orthodox Arab-speaking flock and the detailed watch over its related issues has been noted over this period, through the frequent significant funding of the Patriarchate for the completion of the Holy Church of the Nativity of Theotokos in the Community of Sahnin, through the offering of a wood-carved ikonostasion made in Cyprus as well as of the Holy Church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Koufr Smea in the district of Acre, of the recently consecrated Holy Church of St. Savvas the Sanctified in Yafat Nasra near Nazareth, and of the Holy Church of St. Moses the Ethiopian in Rafidia of Nablus, in Samaria.

Along with the other brotherly Orthodox Churches, Your Beatitude has made many efforts to keep the cooperation determined by the tradition of our Orthodox Church for the unity in Christ, projecting the dialogue in wisdom and mediocrity as the solution for the occasionally arising Inter-Orthodox issues. Appreciating this attitude of Yours, our Brotherly Church of Russia has offered You the prize Alexei II for the year 2018, “for outstanding activities in strengthening the unity of the Orthodox Christian nations and for upholding and promoting Christian values in the life of society”. This happened only yesterday in Your visit to Moscow, where You also met with His Excellency the President of Russia Mr. Putin and requested His support for the Christians of the Holy Land and of the Middle East.

Since the beginning of Your Patriarchal Office, the epicenter of the efforts and actions of Your Beatitude has undoubtedly been the by all means preservation of the Biblically established and internationally recognized Status Quo of the Old City of Jerusalem. This Status Quo is being violated and distorted in the case of the prevailing as legitimate of the long-term leases of the Jaffa Gate Hotels of the Patriarchate, which lack transparency and justice and are full of financial corruption. For the abolishment of these agreements, Your Beatitude has energetically worked toward the awareness and mobility of people and organizations, members of influence abroad, as well as within this country. Worth saying is the initiative of Your Beatitude last July this year, to organize a peaceful march of all the local Churches from our Patriarchate to Jaffa Gate in front of the Imperial and Petra hotels, and the subsequent prayer with the reading of a Message conveying internationally our request to preserve Jaffa Gate as the Gate for the entrance of the Heads of Churches of the Old City of Jerusalem to their Seats and as the natural access point of the Christian pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre, as it has been for centuries.

Encouraged with these accomplished things, Your Beatitude, and warmly congratulating You, the Hagiotaphite Fathers join You in the good fight for the success and the help of God for all initiatives You undertake, and the materialization of all Your aims for the good of our Brotherhood and of the Church of Holy Jerusalem.

Raising my glass in a toast, Your Beatitude, on behalf of the Holy and Sacred Synod and all Hagiotaphite Fathers, I wish You many happy returns, in health, gleefulness, peace and stability, full of Divine strength and enforcement, so that You may increase and enrich Your Patriarchal Office that has been entrusted to You by the Divine Providence, for the benefit and the praise of the blessed nation of the Rum Orthodox and for the Glory of our Trinitarian God.”

Likewise, the Consul General of Greece Mr. Christos Sophianopoulos and the representatives of the Orthodox Churches of the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Patriarchate of Romania addressed His Beatitude.

His Beatitude replied to all with the following words;      

 “Your Excellency Mr. Consul General of Greece,

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Christians,

Noble pilgrims

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

The appearing Church of the incarnate God Word in the place of His “provision” (Psalm 132:15) and “of habitation” (Psalm 132:13), our Holy Church of Jerusalem, rejoices today on the completion of the fourteen-year-old ministerial navigation of Our Mediocrity since the taking over of the lot of the ministry (Acts 1:25)] of the Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of St. James the Brother of God and First Hierarch of Jerusalem.

This sacred and ecclesiastical event possesses a special meaningful significance for the centuries-old expanding mystical body of Christ, the Church, on the one hand, and for its life in the world on the other. And it should be noted that according to St. Paul, the faithful members of the Church are called “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19) and that “they dwell on earth but actually live in heaven” according to the epistle to Diognitos(Vol. 2, p. 253).

Because of these, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, escorted by the Reverend members of our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, where we rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to our Holy Trinitarian God, Who has been glorified “through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11).

Today’s celebrated fourteen-year-old enthronement anniversary does not refer to Our unworthiness, but to the established institution of the Church which has been founded by the redeeming blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, on which foundation  “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11) as St. Paul preaches. And according to St. Ignatios of Antioch; “the apostolic” and “episcopal” throne of the Church encompasses a place of God; “Heads of the Bishops in the place of God, and of the Priests in the place of the synod of the apostles and of the deacons…who have been entrusted the ministry of Jesus Christ” (Epistle to Magnesians 6).

Our Patriarchal, monastic and Pastoral ministry so far, on the Hierarchic and Apostolic throne of St. James the Brother of God, of the Church of Jerusalem, has only one sole purpose, the preservation of the consignment of the healthy faith that has been handed over to Us by the Apostolic succession, and the upholding of the word of truth, and especially of the care of the Christian flock that has been entrusted to us, according to the teaching of St. Paul; “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). Moreover, the preservation of the All-holy Shrines as places of the logic worship and a source of healing, where pilgrims flock from all ends of the earth for their spiritual refreshment, hearkening to the psalmist saying; “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).

Needless to say that the privileges and sovereign rights of the noble and royal nation of the “Rum Orthodox” Christians on the All-holy Shrines, is a sacred duty in its “ab antiquo” mission in the Holy Land. Therefore, every effort is made to all directions, political and diplomatic, local and international governments to respect the existing multi-cultural and inter-religious Status Quo which has been established by international treaties, for both the biblical shrines and the Holy City of Jerusalem (which on itself is a universal pilgrimage).

Nevertheless, we submit to the advice of the God-inspired Paul; “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), we have not wasted any time working in all humility for the keeping of the unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church of ours, “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9).

And we say this because Jerusalem, and therefore the Church of Jerusalem, being the primeval and inexhaustible source of the blood of righteousness, of peace and of eternal life, namely of Christ, is the point of reference of reconciliation of all of us, as St. Paul preaches by saying: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).   

This fourteenth enthronement anniversary of our Mediocrity calls us not to the boast of the things of our own, but that we “may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God” (Romans 15:17). “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience” (2 Cor. 1:120. Calling upon this testimony of our conscience, we shall not cease to strive for the good fight in the vineyard of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, namely in His Church, hearkening to the Lord’s words: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Co-witnesses to this annunciation of the testimony of Christ’s light and of the glory of God the Father are our co-workers the reverend and dearest Hagiotaphite Fathers and Brothers, Archbishops, Hieromonks, Deacons and Monks, who are devoted body and soul to our sacred mission.

Let us therefore entreat God the Father of lights and of truth “to guide our steps to the working of His commandments” through the intercessions of our Most Blessed Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and through the intercessions of our Holy Father Nectarios of Pentapolis. May the Grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb of our Resurrected Saviour Christ fortify all of us who serve in the ministry of the All-holy shrines and in the pastoring of our Christian flock.

With all these, we call upon all who prayed along with us and honoured us with their presence in this festive enthronement anniversary, wishing them strength from on high, the grace of the All-holy Tomb, patience and every blessing from God, expressing our warm thanks to all who addressed us; Geronda Secretary-General, Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr. Christos Sophianopoulos, Reverend Archimandrite Dometianos, representative of our Holy Brotherly Church of Russia, who conveyed the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, Reverend Archimandrite Theophilos, representative of the Holy Church of Romania, who conveyed the wished of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Romania Daniel, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, the Most Reverend Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Joppa, Reverend Fr. Charalambos Bandour, who spoke on behalf of St. James Cathedral, Reverend Archimandrite Artemios and Fr. Alexander and Fr. Igor who spoke on behalf of the Russian-speaking Community in Ber-Sheba, the Most Reverend Archbishop Christophoros of Kyriakoypolis, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Jordan and on behalf of the Respected Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Mr. Ode Kawas, General Magager of the Education Committee in Palestine, Reverend Fr. Boulos, who spoke on behalf of the Community of Beit Jalla and our dearest Steward Fr. Savvas, who spoke on behalf of Beit Sahour, Mr. Abu Aeta and Mr. Yousef Nasser, and all participating in this festivity of the Enthronement anniversary.

To the health of all of you!”

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF ST. GEORGE THE GREAT MARTYR IN LYDDA

On Saturday, November 3/16, 2019, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of St. George the Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer at his holy Church in Lydda.

On this day the Church celebrates the translation of the relics of St. George from Rome where he suffered a martyr’s death, in 4th century A.D., to his hometown Lydda, and of the consecration of the Church by St. Helen.

In this Holy Church, which the Patriarchate preserves as a shrine, H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem officiated the Divine Liturgy with the preceding warm welcome by the clergy. Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were the Most Reverend Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, the Most Reverend Archbishop and Secretary-General Aristarchos of Constantina, and the Most Reverend Metropolitan Elias of Filomiliou, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by Mr. Vasilios Gotsopoulos in Greek on the right and by the Community Choir in Arabic on the left, as the service was attended by representatives of the Greek Embassy in Israel and the Ambassadors of Serbia, England, Russia and Georgia, as well as a large congregation venerating the Saint’s tomb.

His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to this congregation;

“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me” (John 16:2-3) Jesus Christ orders to those who believe in Him.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

The Sacred commemoration of the consecration of the Church of the Holy Great Martyr George the Trophy-bearer in your historic biblical town of Lydda, namely the translation of his sacred relics, has gathered us all in order to glorify in Eucharist our Lord God, Who has glorified the martyr of love, the true sun of righteousness, His Only Begotten Son and our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. George was established as one of the great martyrs of Christ’s love, having become participant of the cruciform and redeeming blood of Christ, as well as a communicant of the cloud of martyrs of the Church (Hebrews 12:1).

We refer to the Church because the mission of the Church in the world is the perfection of man in Christ. And this perfection in Christ is the aim and the expectation of Christ’s friends, and of course of His martyrs. And this is so, because Christ, God the Word, is the Afpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 21:6), namely the salvation of the people, as He “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

Having been the son of noble Christian parents, from a Cappadocian father and a Palestinian mother, George was brought up according to the law of divine reverence, of the faith in Christ, and on the one hand he reached for “the knowledge of truth”, while on the other, he desired the heavenly and eternal city, hearkening to St. Paul’s words; “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14). “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philip. 3:20-21).

Because of this, and having cleansed his mind with the light of the glorious gospel of God (2 Cor. 4:4), George who was known for his undefeated bravery as a grand commander of the Roman army, presented himself in the Roman Parliament before the cruel persecutor of the Christians Emperor Diocletian, and boldly stated himself to be a Christian and proclaimed Christ to be the God and the Son of God.

In other words, my dear ones, St. George denounced the fallacy of the false gods and of the idols, as well as the self-religion of the Roman Emperors who made themselves gods and sought to be worshiped by their subjects and citizens. In this case George proves himself to be a faithful witness of Christ’s truth but also of the freedom of the people from the demonic religion of the idols as prophet-king David says; “For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens” (Psalm 96:4-5).

Today’s honoured commemoration of St. George does not only refer to the historic place and time of his life and action, but also to our contemporary state of humanity and of the world, for which world, St. John the Evangelist says: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

 

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:19-20) and he concludes; “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21), which means from the idolatrous notions and fallacies concerning God.

The innate and impulsive faith of St. George to the crucified and resurrected Christ as well as his Godly zeal in favour of the teaching of Christ’s gospel, state that he became a witness and fighter for the divine righteousness in Christ, as St. Paul preaches; “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

The Trophy-bearer George gained this righteousness becoming an imitator of Christ in both words and actions, hearkening to St. Paul’s advice; “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).  As it is known, St. Paul completed his apostolic preaching mission in Rome, with the martyr’s blood of Christ’s love.

The Holy Martyrs of the Church of Christ are the most selective and exquisite chorea of its saints. And this is so because by their confession of Christ as the real God, they have exchanged the glory of this world (1 Cor. 7:31) with the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philip. 3:21).

Interpreting these words, St. Theodoritos says: “He said that our body has become of one accord with the body of His glory, not according to the measure of glory, but according to the quality. And this is also a luminous thing”. And in more detail; the transformation of the holy martyrs’ body underlines the change from the corrupt things to the incorrupt and from the lack of glory to glory itself” according to Zigavinos.

Behold therefore why the hymn writer of the Holy Great Martyr George says; “with the streams of thine own blood thou mightily didst quench the flame of delusion and error, destroying all the tyrants’ pride, hereby glorifying Christ. From the right hand of the Most High hast thou therefore been given the crowns of life everlasting and of divine incorruption”.

All of us who honour today the commemoration of George the brave Martyr, the preacher of truth, the defender of the poor and the healer of the sick, let us entreat him to intercede to our Lord God for the peace of our souls and the peace of our turbulent region.

Let us also beseech the Ever-Virgin Mary and Mother of God, the Most Blessed Theotokos to intercede to her Son and God and our Lord Jesus Christ, to guide our actions to a redeeming harbour and to the unwaning light which illumines the souls of the holy martyrs and of course of the Holy Great Martyr George the Trophy-bearer. Amen.”

After the Divine Liturgy, Hegoumen Archimandrite Nicodemus, who has worked on the preservation of the ikonostasion of the Church, offered a reception at the Community Club. 

From Secretariat-General




HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM ADDRESSES THE ANGLICAN MEETING “MAJMA” IN JORDAN

On Wednesday morning, October 24/ November 6, 2019, His Beatitude and our Father the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos addressed the Meeting “Majma” of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, which took place in Bristol Hotel in Amman, after the invitation and welcoming reception of the Most Reverend Bishop Suheil Dawani, with the following address in English;

 “Your Grace, Archbishop Suheil,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Dear Father Hosam,

Reverend Fathers,

Sisters and Brothers,

We greet you, dear Archbishop Suheil, and your clergy and people, as you gather for your annual synod. We join with you in welcoming your distinguished guests for the Anglican Community around the world.

We would like to take this opportunity first of all to underline the importance of the relationship that exists between the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Community, and especially between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Needless to say, this relationship has born much fruit over the years, and most especially recently, as we have stood together in the face of challenges to the freedom and the rights of the Church in our region.

We thank you, dear Archbishop Suheil, for your solidarity and strength of purpose, and we give thanks to Almighty God for the blessings we enjoy in our close collaboration.

We also pay tribute today to His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where we enjoy the freedom to gather from all over our region, and where His Majesty, the Custodian over Muslim and Christian Holy Sites in the Holy Land, ensures religious freedom and supports the historic rights of the Church and the guarantee of the Christian presence.

You have chosen as your theme “Becoming a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), and this is a timely subject for all of us who call the Holy Land and the Middle East, which is the cradle of Christianity, our home.

We cannot understand the meaning of sacrifice without first referring to our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. We see in this divine sacrifice the power of humility, and we understand humility through metanoia. Let us listen to the Lord’s words, “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). Humility and metanoia are the key to salvation, and without them nothing else is possible. The deeper we are shaped by humility and metanoia, the more available we are to God as those who can offer ourselves in sacrificial commitment and service to others.

As the Church Fathers teach us, sacrifice has many expressions. There is the sacrifice of self-giving service to others. There is the sacrifice that is the martyrdom of conscience. There is the sacrifice of costly commitment. Saint John Chrysostom says; “As we read in the words of Saint Paul, our sacrifice is a living one, holy and pleasing to God”. Chrysostom emphasizes that one should not think of sacrifice as the slaughtering of our bodies, but as following the commandments of the Lord, which lead to our salvation and deification.

Sacrifice can be personal, and it can be corporate, but it never means giving up our integrity, for our personal and corporate sacrificial acts are to be understood in and through Christ.

It must be borne in mind that the purpose of the Church is precisely a sacrificial vocation, and this is why the Church is, and should be, a sign and inspiration for political and civic leadership as we see conflicts all over our world, where disorder and confusion are so common a human experience. It is in this context that we consider our role and responsibility as spiritual leaders and priests. For the key to promoting the values of the Bible that are threatened, values like peace and justice, is precisely this kenotic tendency, and this kenosis must begin with ourselves. We do know that we cannot demand sacrifice from another; we can only live the sacrificial way of Christ ourselves, so that the Church may be a true beacon of light and hope. We must ourselves be a paradigm – as Saint Paul says, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

To be imitators of Christ is indeed itself a work of sacrifice, and Christians who face trouble and persecution on a daily basis should remain firm in this vocation, because “our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). As our Lord says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Mat. 10:28).

Thank you for the kind invitation to be with you. May God bless you, dear Archbishop Suheil, and all the good servants in the vineyard of the Lord, that is your clergy and people, as you seek to live more deeply the mystery of Christ’s sacrificial life in your own”.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES THE BROTHER OF GOD AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Tuesday, October 23/ November 5, 2019, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of St. James the Brother of God and first Hierarch of Jerusalem as his Throne feast.

St. James the Brother of God is known to the Church as the son of Joseph the betrothed of Theotokos and brother of the Lord, according to the law, and the one to whom the Lord Himself entrusted the shepherding of the Church of Jerusalem. According to the Acts of the Apostles he was the Chairman of the First Synod of the Church of Jerusalem in 49 A.D. He is the author of the epistle with his name in the New Testament, he confessed Jesus as the Son of God and Christ and was overthrown from Solomon’s Temple wing and is being honoured as a Hieromartyr.

 Honouring his work, the Church of Jerusalem celebrated his commemoration at his Holy Cathedral next to the Central Monastery with Vespers in the evening and the Divine Liturgy on the morning of the Feast, officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.

Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth and the Most Reverend Archbishops; Aristarchos of Constantina, Theodosios of Sebastia, and the Most Reverend Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, with first in rank Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios,  the Priests of the Cathedral; Fr. Farah/ Charalambos Bandour, and Fr. Hader/George Baramki, other Priests, Archdeacon Mark and Deacon Eulogios, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr. Christos Sophianopoulos and the participation in prayer of a large congregation from the Cathedral parish and pilgrims.

His Beatitude read the following Sermon to this congregation;

“The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.  The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment” (Psalm 37:29-30) the psalmist says.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

The sacred commemoration of the righteous Apostle James the Brother of God has gathered us today in the Holy Cathedral dedicated to him, in order to offer a sacrifice of praise and bloodless Eucharist to the Holy Trinitarian God Who has performed great and wondrous things to His saints and righteous men.

St. James was distinguished as a tool of the working of the Holy Spirit, and this was so because he became the first Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem having been ordained by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and was the first one to write the Divine Liturgy, having been taught by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as the synaxarist of the Church witnesses.

Paul, the Apostle of the nations, calls the righteous James a “pillar” (Gal. 2:9) of the Church, while his Catholic Epistle presents him as a teacher of a great standard among his readers. He received the name “Brother of God” because along with the other so thought brothers of Jesus Christ, he was a son of Joseph the betrothed to the Ever-Virgin Mary and Mother of God. Joseph had been married before with another woman. Because of his excessive ascesis, he had “his knees hardened just like  those of a camel” because he prayed on his knees continuously, “worshiping God and praying for the remission of the sins of the people”. For his excessive zeal of righteousness, namely of the faith in God and the good works, he was called “Righteous”. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14) he preaches in his catholic epistle, calling upon the connection between the man’s body and soul and saying: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).

In other words, faith without works is idle and dead, not only because it is empty from the manifestations that prove the existence of spiritual life to the one who believes, but because it is not able to work the salvation; it is impossible for the indifferent and idle faith to lead to the eternal life, as St. Cyril of Alexandria says: “Faith in Christ works righteousness and relieves from the stains of the previous sins. And if someone may be found to be idle and prone to fall into the passions of the world, it seems that in a way he has mortified the faith…regressing rather to the roughness and ruthlessness of his former life”.

St. James was called “Righteous” not only because he believed the foretold prophesies written by the Prophets of the Law of Moses regarding the Son and Word of God, but he also became a communicant of the Passion of Christ, and of His martyr’s blood, suffering a similar death to His, as St. Paul says: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss …that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).

Interpreting this sacred words, St. Chrysostom says that our Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness. “Righteousness is God; and it is a complete gift”. And St. James teaches, that God is the source of all good things given to us. “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:16-17).

Indeed, we should be sure that God, Who called us to become participants of the righteousness of His Son and our Lord Jesus Christ, is reliable, and keeps His promises, for this reason each one of us should trust Him without hesitation, as St. Paul says; “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).

And our faith to God is being tested through our actions, as St. John Damascene says; “Faith without works is dead”, likewise, works without faith are dead; for the true faith is being tested through works”. For this reason, St. James recommends long-suffering and patience, calling upon the example of the hardships of the prophets and Job’s patience. “Be patient therefore Brethren and grudge not one against another so that you may not be judged; behold the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:7-9). “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:10-11).

These apostolic words of St. James’ preaching urge us to consider our Christian faith on the one hand, and on the other, our joining to the mystical body of Christ, namely the Church, whose one and sole and ultimate purpose is for us to become, according to St. Paul, “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), namely holy and partakers of Christ’s life, having of course been relieved from the corruption of the world beforehand, which is created by the sinful desire. “Becoming one with God with the partaking of the divine illumination and without altering the divine essence” St. John Damascene explains.

In other words, my dear brothers and sisters, the believers of Jesus Christ as God and Saviour, according to St. John the Evangelist, “are born of God” (John 1:13), or “of the Spirit of God” (John 3:5, 8), and God becomes their Father (Eph. 2:18/ Rom.4; 12) and therefore they become heirs of the Kingdom of God. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17) St. Paul says.

Honouring today the sacred commemoration of “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1) the Apostle who preaches that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16), let us entreat along with the Mother of God and the hymn writer and say: “Distinguished among the Apostles as the brother and successor of Christ the Chief Shepherd, thou didst love death for His sake, and wast not ashamed of martyrdom, O glorious James. Entreat Him unceasingly that our souls be saved” and grant peace to our tested by war region. Amen.

After the Dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude, dressed in His Patriarchal vestments, and His Entourage returned to the Patriarchate Reception Hall, through the courtyard of Saint Constantine and the main gate of the Patriarchate. The Patriarchal Entourage and all faithful following them received the traditional small loaf of bread as a blessing from Abbess Seraphima.

At the Patriarchate Reception Hall, there was a special prayer by His Beatitude and His Entourage, the polychronion of His Beatitude was chanted and then a reception followed, where His Beatitude  delivered the following address;

“James who was His (Jesus’) brother appears that he was not distant from Him, nor foreign to the faith to Him, but on the contrary he was one of His most genuine disciples; so much so, that he was the first to be distinguished in the throne of the Church of Jerusalem” Eusevios of Caesarea mentions in his writings (Vol. 21, p. 380).

Your Excellency Consul General of Greece Mr. Christos Sophianopoulos,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Our Holy Church of Jerusalem honours and venerates today the sacred commemoration of its first Hierarch, Spiritual Father, teacher and distinguished Apostle James the Brother of God. Being one of the most genuine of Christ’s disciples, he was anointed by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself a minister of the spiritual sacraments, a High Priest, and was established the first Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem by the chorea of the Apostles, as his hymn writer says: “Thou has manifestly adorned the choir of the Apostles as the first high priest of Jerusalem, anointed by the very hand of the Word, as God’s brother and disciple, and a sacred preacher of great mysteries”.

St. James’ festal commemoration refers not only to the institution of the Church which is inseparable to the Apostolic succession, that of the Bishop and Patriarch of Jerusalem, but also to the safeguarding of the religious and sacred Status Quo of the Holy City of Jerusalem, namely of its Christian demographic character.

St. James, who was called “Righteous”sealed the Throne of the Church of Jerusalem with his martyr’s blood, becoming a co-martyr to Christ, Who is the mystical body and the head of the Church.

Our settlement by the mercy of God in the Bishop’s Throne of St. James as his successor, bears witness to the true words of the Lord in the Gospel: “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, namely of the Church (Matt. 16:18).

Therefore, all of us who live in Jerusalem (Luke 24:18) and witness “the Name above all names” (Phil. 2:9), the name of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, are called to pay heed to the words of St. James the Brother of God whom we celebrate today; “Have long patience, therefore Brethren and stablish your hearts unto the coming of the Lord” (James 5: 7-8). Amen.

From Secretariat-General




DOXOLOGY FOR THE NATIONAL ANNIVERSARY OF 28TH OCTOBER

The Doxology at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the National Anniversary of 28th October 1940 took place on Monday, October 15/28, 2019.

This Doxology was a thanksgiving to God for His aid in the liberation of our nation from the Italian threat and the German yoke of occupation in the years 1940-1944, and as a prayer for the repose of the souls of our fathers who fought, sacrificed themselves and gloriously fell in the battlefields.

The Doxology was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos with the participation in prayer of the Archbishops and Priests Hagiotaphite Fathers, at the chanting of the Novice Monk Constantinos Spyropoulos, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr. Christos Sophianopoulos and members of the Greek Consulate, as well as members of the Greek Community and the Arab-speaking flock of the Patriarchate.

After the Doxology, bells tolling, the Patriarchal Entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters, where there was a short reception with reciting of poems by the students of St. Demetrios School of the Patriarchate and the National Anthem, followed by His Beatitude address as below;

“Your Excellency Consul General of Greece Mr. Christos Sophianopoulos,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Today’s anniversary of 28th October 1940 is a remembrance of a great and wondrous action for humankind, and especially for the Greek nation, because the epic of “No” was crucial for the outcome, namely the defeat, of the moral and physical instigators of the devastating World War II.

The recognized by all heroic resistance of the Greek warriors against the marching of the enemy forces of Axis, proved that the nation of the Greeks is governed by native moral and spiritual principles, of both their cultural heritage and Orthodox Christian faith with the tradition of the Holy Fathers.

Faith in righteousness, love for the country, self-sacrifice and especially the dignity of man for the non-negotiable principles of freedom, justice and national independence prevailed over the insanity and wrathful aggressiveness of the Nazi atrocity in the sacred fight of the safeguarding of the national borders and the defense of the territorial integrity of the country.

The “No” of 28th October 1940 was not only the negative answer to the insulters and arrogant treacherous cosmocrats, but mainly to their morbid ideology, namely to the totalitarianism, to fascism and to Nazism.

The Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, honouring as it should the epic of 1940, and wholeheartedly participating in this victorious commemoration of freedom, after the crushing of the relentless occupation of Nazism, came down to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, for the thanksgiving Doxology to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Resurrected.

Moreover, we have prayed for the eternal repose of the souls and everlasting remembrance of our fathers and brothers who fought and gloriously fell in the fight for our faith, country and freedom. 

This very faith in the light of God the Word, Christ, has established the epic of 1940, and we are called to preserve it as a sacred consignment for the generations to come.

For all these, allow Us to raise our glass in a toast and cry out:

Long live 28th October 1940!

Long live the “NO”

Long live Greece!

Long live the noble nation of the Rum Orthodox!

Long live the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood!”

And the Consul General’s address as follows:

“Your Beatitude,

Most Reverend Archbishops,

Reverend Fathers,

Ladies and Gentlemen

We celebrate today a leading event of the modern Greek history. The unanimous rejection by Hellenism on 28th October 1940 of the ultimatum for the unconditional surrender of the Homeland and the concession of its national sovereignty. We celebrate the heroic and unequal struggle for the defense of Greece’s freedom and territorial integrity during World War II, which began with the epic of Pindos. Today is a day of honour and remembrance for all Greeks.

This historical NO demonstrated the moral stature, the love for freedom and the strong sense of justice of the Greeks. Thanks to this code of principles, they opposed overwhelmingly superior forces: the dark fiber forces of fascism and Nazism that sought to impose the bond of totalitarianism and racism on the peoples of Europe and beyond. The sense of justice shielded the Greeks, who, knowing that they fought in fair struggles for their freedom, achieved their first victory against the Axis, sending a message of hope to the other peoples of Europe and delaying the implementation of their more general strategic plan, contributing this way in the final victory of the Allies.

The “NO” showed in the clearest way the common, deep historical consciousness of the Greeks, that fueled and reinforced the patriotism, the vigor, the self-esteem and the great sense of responsibility with which the sacred and the holy were defended. The “No” was precisely the refusal of the Greek people to forget their history and live a petty and submissive life. Today, all Greeks, wherever we are, pay tribute to the fallen and the fighters in the battlefields of 1940-41 in Pindos, in the Macedonian forts, in our seas, in Crete and elsewhere. We honour those who participated in the National Resistance and those who continued to fight, on the side of the Allies, in the battlefields of World War II, the Middle East and Europe. Today we do not forget the hundreds of thousands innocent victims of the Occupation.

In the national heroic effort that began on October 28, 1940, as in any other national endeavor, the dynamic participation and valuable contribution of the Hellenism of the diaspora was crucial. Greece is very proud and grateful for the great contribution of the Greek community in the Middle East and especially of the Hellenism of Jerusalem, which is historically recorded.

Responding to the need to unite all the forces of the Nation, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Mother of Churches, was then and always remains, a key point of reference, the guardian of the moral authority and spiritual merit of our Orthodox faith and proof of unchanging survival potential of the Greek Orthodox tradition, which is a source of strength, inspiration and hope for the future for all of us.

The anniversary of October 28, 1940 has always been and is even more present today, especially for the new generation which needs to understand and embrace its lessons. In an international environment characterized by extensions, disputes and conflicts, often fueled from dark ideologies and distorted attitudes, as in the pre-war period, we, as Greeks, have the responsibility of preservation of our national unity and unanimity of soul, our commitment to the ideals of freedom and democracy, our inspiration from the moral and spiritual values of our Orthodox faith, and our alertness and determination to cope with all kinds of challenges.

Long live the 28th October 1940

Long live Greece!”

A festal reception followed.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE FEAST OF THE TRANSLATION OF THE RELICS OF ST. SAVVAS THE SANCTIFIED

On Saturday, October 13/26, 2019, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the translation of the relics of our Holy Father Savvas the Sanctified.

The translation of the relics took place on October 13/26, in the year 1965. At that time, one year after the meeting of the memorable Patriarch Athenagoras with Pope John Paul VI, after the lifting of the anathemas and the beginning of the theological dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem requested the return of the sacred relics of St. Savvas, which had been transported to Venice by the Crusaders.

The Roman Catholic Church granted this petition and the Saint’s relics was returned to be welcomed by the full congregation at Jaffa Gate, offered for veneration at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a week, and from there it was finally transported to the Lavra the Saint had founded, for the protection of the Fathers of the Lavra and of the pilgrims, as well as for their spiritual strengthening and sanctification.

For the celebration of this event, the All-night Vigil, with the Compline, Salutations, Matins and the Divine Liturgy were officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants the Most Reverend Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis and the Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, and Hieromonks from other Orthodox Churches, Arab-speaking Priests, and the Hierodeacons Mark and Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Choir leader of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Novice Monk Constantinos and the left choir singer of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Mr. Vasilios Gotsopoulos on the right in Greek, and by Archimandrite Philotheos on the left in Arabic, with the participation in prayer of the Spiritual Father of the Lavra Archimandrite Eudokimos, local faithful from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and pilgrims from Greece, Romania and Russia.

His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon before the Holy Communion;

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2) St. Paul preaches.

Beloved Fathers and Brothers in Christ,

Noble Christians and Pilgrims

Savvas the Sanctified “who has become a citizen of the heavenly metropolis” has gathered all of us in his holy Lavra, to celebrate the sacred commemoration of the translation of his holy relic from the Italian city of Venice.

The keeping of the commemoration of the translation of St. Savvas’ relic is a task both pleasing to God and a benevolence to us, who are subject to the corruption of death, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Hearkening to St. Paul’s advice, St. Savvas offered his body a living sacrifice, pleasing to God, offering at the same time a logical worship, namely the spiritual one, “which has nothing corporal, nothing fattening, nothing that can be felt” according to St. Chrysostom. This is confirmed by his biographer Cyril of Skythopolis by saying: “Predestined by God from his mother’s womb and foreseen before his body was formed, according to Prophet Jeremias, Savvas despised the things of this worldly life all together and offered himself in a monastery…where he was trained in the monastic life in precision he learned the Psalter and along with all the remaining coenobitic rules in no time”.

His desire for reverence, namely the life in Christ, led Savvas from the town Moutalaski of Cappadocia to the God-trodden places of Palestine, where he learned the monastic life by the great teachers of the desert, the Holy Fathers Theodosios the Cenobiarch and Euthymios, and became their true imitator.

Bearing in mind St. Paul’s wise advice; “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2), the citizen of this desert Savvas scouted the forms of this era, namely wealth, glory and every temporary and corruptible thing, and instead he was zealous to perform the perfect will of God. Therefore the hymn writer of the Church says; “through virtues thou didst live outside both of the world and the flesh, and through thy life and virtues, thou didst glorify on earth they very Lord of Glory, O Father most wise, and thou rightly art glorified, O Savvas chosen of God; for in Him thou art a divine spring welling forth with cures”.

 And indeed, my dear brothers, St. Savvas has become “a spring welling forth with cures”, a doctor for the sick and a healer of incurable diseases of both the soul and the body. A true witness of this is his incorrupt relic which lies before us, which gives a sacred fragrance and healing gifts, as St. Gregory Palamas says: “which word can worthily express God’s glory that is revealed by the relics of the saints, by their continuous emitted sacred fragrance, the relics which are a source of myrrh, of healing, full of workings of powers, in multiple and redeeming for us epiphanies”. [And in more detail; which words can clearly express God’s glory which is revealed by the corpses of the saints and the relics of the bones, a glory continuous throughout the ages, as well as the fragrance which is emitted from them, and the myrrh they gush out, the healing gifts and the workings of the powers and the many and redeeming healings that we experience through them?”]

Needless to say that the relics of the saints are a witness of the resurrection of the dead, “a commemoration of the righteous in praises” (Proverbs 10:7)., and “the souls of the righteous in the hand of God” (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1) according to the Holy Bible. And our Lord Jesus Christ says; “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:32).

This true witness of the “God of the living” on the one hand and of “the resurrection of the dead” on the other, is being preached and evangelized to us by our Holy Father Savvas the Sanctified, who loved his Lord God with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his mind (Matt. 22:3) according to the Lord’s command.

We are also called to this purpose, as we honour the commemoration of our Holy and God-bearing Father Savvas, so that we keep the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ and love His Church, because as St. John the Evangelist says: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true” (1 John 5:19-20).

And we say this, because according to the psalmist, many say they love Him (God), “Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues” (Ps. 78:36).

Let us entreat the great citizen of the desert Savvas the Sanctified, who has boldness toward Christ our God, that he may intercede along with our Most Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary for the light of our minds and peace of our souls. And along with the hymn writer let us say; “Thy very great and most honourable Lavra crieth out hymns of thanksgiving, bringing thee forward as its colonizer and founder and defender, O wise Savvas; and boasting int crieth out unto the Lord: Blessed is the God of our Fathers”. Amen. Many Happy Returns!”

After the Dismissal and the boiled wheat in the Narthex, His Beatitude joined the monastic meal at the refectory and blessing everybody, departed via the Holy Monastery of St. Theodosios the Cenobiarch, according to the custom.

From Secretariat-General

 




PRIEST’S ORDINATION AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Friday, October 12/25, 2019, the ordination to Priest of Deacon George Baramki was held during the Divine Liturgy on Horrendous Golgotha by the Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina.

Fr. George Baramki has been ministering at St. James the Brother of God Cathedral as a Deacon of the Arab-speaking Orthodox Community of Jerusalem, while he is also working as a teacher at the Russian Orthodox Church School of Mount of Olives and Gethsemane in Bethany.

Before the ordination, the Archbishop admonished the ordained as follows, while the latter also read a speech, expressing his fear before the sacrament, but also his hope, that the Comforter will fortify him in his current high ministry.

Address of Geronda Secretary-General Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina at the ordination to Priest of Deacon Hader/George Baramki

 “Reverend Deacon George,

It’s been only a little while since your ordination to Deacon at the Life-giving Tomb of the Lord. Since your ordination to Deacon, you have ministered in devotion, reverence and fear of God at the parish of St. James the Brother of God Cathedral, and in all other ministries appointed to you by the Patriarchate.

The Patriarchate, the Mother of all Churches, and your mother Church, has appreciated your ecclesiastical ministry and simultaneously your educational service at the School of the Russian Church in Bethany, and today, with the blessings of H.H. Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and of the Holy and Sacred Synod, you are called to receive the office of the Priesthood, to officiate as Priest the Sacraments of the Church and especially that of the Baptism and of the Holy Eucharist, to offer the bloodless sacrifice to the Lord and give His immaculate body and blood to the people of God for the remission of their sins and life everlasting.

In this ministry you will be established today and will always be guided by the Holy Spirit, Who will come down through the invocation and the touching of the hands of the Archbishop, in this place of Golgotha, the horrendous place of the sacrifice of the sinless One, the place where Christ, the Son of God and our Saviour became the propitiatory sacrifice for the remission of our sins.

It is a great blessing, a great honour, but also a great responsibility. Come forward though, and do not hesitate, Christ and the Church are calling you, and remain faithful until death, having as an example those who preceded in this ministry, Apostles, Confessors, Righteous Fathers and Teachers of the Church.

Be sure that from now on you will be accompanied by the prayers of the Hagiotaphite Fathers, the co-celebrant Priests, the commissioners and the congregation of St. James’ Cathedral, of your parents, your pious wife and all those who honour you with their presence, so that you may become worthy of your ministry.” His speech is below as it was read in Arabic;

السيامة الكهنوتية المقدسة لشماس رعية القدس
كاتدرائية القديس يعقوب أخو الرب
الأب الشماس جاورجيوس (خضر) برامكي
“وما من أحد يتولى بنفسه هذا المقام، بل من دعاه الله كما دعا هارون”
(بولس الرسول الإناء المختار في رسالة إلى العبرانيين 5: 4)
الجمعة 12/10/2019 شرقي 25/10/2019 غربي، تذكار القديسين الشّهداء بروبس وطراخوس وأندرونيكوس (مظفّر)
المجد لك يا رب المجد لك
بإسم الآب والإبن والروح القدس الإله الواحد آمين
وَاحِدَةً سَأَلْتُ مِنَ الرَّبِّ وَإِيَّاهَا أَلْتَمِسُ: أَنْ أَسْكُنَ فِي بَيْتِ الرَّبِّ كُلَّ أَيَّامِ حَيَاتِي، لِكَيْ أَعاين بهاء الرَّبِّ، وَأَتَبصر هَيْكَلِهِ.” (مز 26: 4)
قال الرب: اطلُبوا أَوَّلاً مَلَكوتَ الله وبِرَّه وكلُّ تلكَ الأشياءِ تُزادُ لَكُم” (لوقا ١٢: ٣١)
في مستهل كلمتي أود أن أتقدم بالشكر والتقدير لصاحب الغبطة بطريرك المدينة المقدسة أورشليم كيريوس كيريوس ثيوفيلوس الثالث وأعضاء المجمع المقدَّس الموقَّرين على الثقة التي اوكلوها لي للعمل في حقل الرب، ولك يا سيادة الوكيل البطريركي والسكرتير العام رئيس أساقفة قسطنطيني أرسيترخوس الجزيل الإحترام, السَّادة المطارنة الحاضرين، الآباء الكهنة الأجلاء والشمامسة المحبيّ المسيح، رعية القديس يعقوب أخو الرب، الشعب الواقف، إخوتي في الرب يسوع المسيح، جميعكم وجميعكنَّ.
اليوم يا ابي ومرشدي الحكيم والأمين أرسيترخوس على يدكَ سوف تحل نعمة الالهية التي في كل حين تشفي المرضى وتكمل الناقصين.
“أَنَا أَشْكُرُ الْمَسِيحَ يَسُوعَ رَبَّنَا الَّذِي قَوَّانِي، أَنَّهُ حَسِبَنِي أَمِينًا، إِذْ جَعَلَنِي لِلْخِدْمَةِ” (رسالة بولس الرسول الأولى إلى تيموثاوس 1: 12). وأخترني لكي أنال نصيب هذه الخدمة والرسالة المقدسة لأن الله وحده يعرف القلوب. فطلبت الرب فأعطني سؤال قلبي. (مزمور 36: 4) طلبت الرب بإجتهاد فاستجاب لي ومن جميع مخاوفي نجاني. عظموا الرب معي ولنرفع اسمه جميعنا.
أشتهيت أن أصبح خادماً للرب وكاهناً منذ الصغر كنت ارتل كلمات الكاهن في خدمة القداس الإلهي بالبيت وأفكر كيف علي أن انذر نفسي للرب حيث يقول الكاهن في طلبة السلامية لنودع أنفسنا وكل حياتنا للمسيح الاله. لكن فهمت ان الأمر ليس سهلاً أن استودع حياتي للرب للذلك نطلب معونة سيدتنا والدة الإله الدائمة البتولية مريم وجميع القديسين. وأيضاً كانت كلمات الكاهن تدخل الى اعماق قلبي عندما يقول القدسات للقديسين اي جسد المسيح المقدس ودمه الكريم هما القدسات التي ينبغي منحها لمناولة القديسين. أي جميعنا مدعون إلى القداسة لأنه مكتوبٌ «كُونُوا قِدِّيسِينَ لأَنِّي أَنَا قُدُّوسٌ».” (1 بط 1: 16) وعلي أن اجاهد في سبيل بلوغ الكمال. وتعلمتُ أن مَلَكُوتُ السَّمَاوَاتِ يُغْصَبُ، وَالْغَاصِبُونَ يَخْتَطِفُونَهُ.” (مت 11: 12) أي علينا ان نجاهد غير متهاونين مع انفسنا ونغصب ذواتنا على ترك الخطيئة والالتصاق بالله حتى يكون لنا ملكوت السموات.
بهذا اليوم المبارك واقفٌ امامكم إنطلاقاَ من دعوة الرب يسوع المسيح لتلاميذه بقوله “فَاذْهَبُوا وَتَلْمِذُوا جَمِيعَ الأُمَمِ معمدين إياهم بِاسْمِ الآب وَالابْنِ وَالرُّوحِ الْقُدُسِ, وَعَلِّمُوهُمْ أَنْ يَحْفَظُوا جَمِيعَ مَا أَوْصَيْتُكُمْ بِهِ. (متى 28: 19-20 )
من أجل حفظ الوصية وتكملة العمل الرسولي ومحبة الله اقدم نفسي للخدمة. هذه هي وصية الرب أن أُحِب الرَّبَّ إِلهَي مِنْ كُلِّ قَلْبِي، وَمِنْ كُلِّ نَفْسِي، وَمِنْ كُلِّ فِكْري (متى 22: 37) وقال الرب يسوع المسيح لسمعان بطرس: يا سمعان بن يونا، أتحبني أكثر من هؤلاء؟ قال له: نعم يا رب، أنت تعلم أني أحبك. قال له: إرع خرافي (يوحنا 21: 15) وايضاً قال إذهبوا إلى العالم أجمع وبَشِّروا بالإنجيل للخليقة كلِّها” (مرقس 16: 15). فَوَيْلٌ لِي إِنْ كُنْتُ لاَ أُبَشِّرُ.” (1 كو 9: 16)
أَنت يا رب الطَّرِيقُ وَالْحَقُّ وَالْحَيَاةُ. لَيْسَ أَحَدٌ يَأْتِي إِلَى الآبِ إِلاَّ بِكَ (يوحنا 14: 6) يا رب إلى من نذهب؟ وكلام الحياة الأبدية هو عندك” (يوحنا 68:6) أنت يا رب تنير سراجي أنت يا إلهي تضيء ظلمتي (مزمور 17: 28)
امام هذا الفرح الكبير بقبول سر الكهنوت أقف ملتمساً صلواتكم الحارة يا شعب المسيح، لكي أكون عبداً مستحقاً لسماع صوت الرب القائل “نِعِمَّا أَيُّهَا الْعَبْدُ الصَّالِحُ وَالأَمِينُ! كُنْتَ أَمِينًا فِي الْقَلِيلِ فَأُقِيمُكَ عَلَى الْكَثِيرِ. اُدْخُلْ إِلَى فَرَحِ سَيِّدِكَ”(متى21:25) قد حفظت الوديعة أيها الوكيل الأمين التي أوكلتها إليك, فصلوا معي ولأجلي.
ذوقوا وأنظروا ما أطيب الرب. فطوبى للرجل المتوكل عليه ( مزمور 33: 8) الأغنياء افتقروا وجاعوا أما الذين يتقون الرب فلا يعوزهم أي شيء من الخير.
(إنجيل متى 5: 19) ,وتعلمت منذ الضغر انه مَنْ عَمِلَ وَعَلَّمَ، فَهذَا يُدْعَى عَظِيمًا فِي مَلَكُوتِ السَّمَاوَاتِ. ومن أراد أن يكون عظيماً فيكم فليكن لكم خادماً (متى 26:20)
كهنتك يا رب يلبسون البر وأبرارك  يتهللون. رحم الله جميع الكهنة الأرثوذكسين ونخص بالذكر من عائلتي الأب ميخالاكي برامكي الذي تمت سيامته عام 1826 والاب يعقوب برامكي الذي قام بالخدمة 50 عاماً والاب قسطندي برامكي الذي انتقل الى السماوات عام 1918 وايضا الاب الياس يغنم الذي ادخلني الى الهيكل في عمر 40 يوماً والاب جبرا بدور والاب عيسى توما.
قال الرب مَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يَتْبَعَنِي، فَلْيَكْفُرْ بِنَفْسِهِ ويَحْمِلْ صَلِيْبَهُ ويَتْبَعْنِي وفي سيامتي للشموسية كان عيد زياح الصليب 14/8/2018 واليوم إرادة الرب ان تكون السيامة الكهنوتية في مكان صلب يسوع المسيح (الجلجثة المقدسة). فَإِنَّ كَلِمَةَ الصَّلِيبِ عِنْدَ الْهَالِكِينَ جَهَالَةٌ، وَأَمَّا عِنْدَنَا نَحْنُ الْمُخَلَّصِينَ فَهِيَ قُوَّةُ اللهِ”( الرسالة الاولى الى أهل كورنتس 1/18)
واشكر الله على محبته وأشكرك يا سيادة المطران على النعمة التي ستنسكب بواسطتك على هامتي أنا الخاطئ، ولكم أيها الآباء مشاركيي في الخدمة،ولكل من حضر ليشاركني هذه الفرحة من قريب ومن بعيد كل منكم باسمه. كما واتوجه بشكري الجزيل الى جمعية حاملات الطيب الأرثوذكسية والملجأ الارثوذكسي ونادي الإتحاد الأرثوذكسي العربي ووكلاء كاتدرائية القديس يعقوب اخو الرب وجميع اللجان وافراد الطائفة الكرام بالقدس والى زوجتي الحبيبة الخورية الجديدة (ماتوشكا ماريا)، أي “الأم الصغيرة“ على وقوفها بجانبي ولن أنسى أبني نيقولاوس سامي المشارك معنا بصلاة وأبني الثاني سابا الذي هو حاضرٌ داخل أحشاء امه هذه السيامة المقدسة. وأمي وأبي لهم مني أسمى آيات العرفان بالجميل.
اشكر كافةَ الآباء الكهنة الذين كابدوا مشقة الطريق لكي يفرحوا معي بهذا اليوم المباركِ، كما اخص بالذكر ابي قدس الأرشمندريت ميلاتيوس الذي كان لي السند القويم، والأب قدس الايكونومس فرح بدور, وابي قدس الأب ميخائيل من دير القديس سابا المتقدس الذي يصلي لعائلتي دائماً، والمرشد الحكيم لعائلتي الأرشمندريت رومان كروسوفكي رئيس البعثة الأرثوذكسية الروسية في أورشليم واشكرالأم اليزابيث رئيسة دير القديسة مريم المجدلية الروسي في القدس والام ماريا وال المديره الأعلى للمدرسة الأرثوذكسية الروسية في العيزرية على ثقتهم ومحبتهم.
فأعدك أيها الرب يسوع المسيح على الجلجثة في مكان صلبك المقدس ستفرح بإبنك لأنني سوف احمل الصليب واشهد لك في حياتي ومستعدٌ للإستشهاد حتى شهادة الدم من اجل كلمة الحق والإيمان المستقيم الأرثوذكسي وفي سبيل محبة يسوع المسيح. “لأَنَّ لِيَ الْحَيَاةَ هِيَ الْمَسِيحُ وَالْمَوْتُ هُوَ رِبْحٌ.” (فيلبي 1: 21). هذا هو اكليل الشهداء .
أيها الشهداء القديسون الذين جاهدتم حسناً وتكللتم تشفعوا الى الرب ان ترحم نفوسنا.
المجد لك أيها المسيح الاله فخر الرسل وبهجة الشهداء.
“اذكرني يا رب متى أتيت في ملكوتك”
قال الرب ولن يندم «أَنْتَ كَاهِنٌ إِلَى الأَبَدِ عَلَى رُتْبَةِ مَلْكِي صَادَقَ».

The ordained was honoured with the presence of co-celebrant Hagiotaphite Fathers and Arab-speaking Priests, friends of his and his wife, and members of the parish of St. James the Brother of God, where he is called to minister as a Priest; all present prayed for him and cried out the “Axios” along with the Archbishop when the newly ordained was being dressed with the priestly vestments.

After the end of the celebration of this Divine Liturgy, the ordained, along with the Episcopal entourage, went to the Patriarchate Reception Hall, and paid his respect and thanksgiving to His Beatitude, while the latter blessed him with the following words and offered him an icon of the Theotokos and of St. Philoumenos;

“Dear Father Hader/George,

The grace of the Holy Spirit has made you today a Steward and minister of the Divine and unspeakable Sacraments of the Church, namely of the mystical body of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Your ministry as a ministering Priest at the Holy Cathedral of St. James the Brother of God is quite honourable, but also quite responsible. And this is so because St. James’ Priests undertake the pastoral care of the precious Community of Jerusalem, especially at a time when the Christian presence is being tested in both the Holy Land and in Jerusalem.

The Holy Church of Jerusalem has called you to work in its Spiritual and geographical vineyard. The harvest is great, and the workers only a few, but what is impossible for the people is made possible by God. The grace and the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit established the uneducated fishermen as great enlighteners of the world, making them apostles and teachers.

Your obedience to your Spiritual Authority, namely the Patriarchate, and your humility, should become the armor of your new Priestly ministry. And your love with all your soul, heart and mind toward God and His Church should be the manner and way of your communication with the flock.

The study of the Holy Bible and the teachings of the Holy Apostles and Evangelists should be the source of your inspiration for the preaching of the Divine Word of the Gospel of Christ. And the study of the writings of the Holy and God-bearing Fathers of the Church should be the safe key for the interpretation and explanation of the Holy Scriptures.

With these Fatherly and Patriarchal words, we wish that the strengthening Grace of the Holy Spirit may establish you a worthy worker of the vineyard of the Lord and of His Church, through the intercessions of the Most Blessed and Ever-Virgin Mary. May you be Axios and secured at all times!”

From Secretariat-General




HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM CELEBRATES THE D. LITURGY AT THE CHURCH OF ST. MOSES THE ETHIOPIAN IN SAMARIA

On Sunday, October 7/20, 2019, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos led the Divine Liturgy at the old Church of St. Moses the Ethiopian, at the Community of Rafidia in Nablus of Samaria, not far from Jacob’s well, where the Lord spoke with the Samaritan woman.

St. Moses the Ethiopian is witnessed by the Synaxarion of the Church as having lived in Ethiopia in the 4th century A.D., a former chief robber, who became contrite by an unknown event, repented and was baptized, and received the monastic schema. He founded a Monastery and led many – some of whom used to be former fellow robbers of his – to life in Christ and in salvation. St. Moses died at the age of seventy.

The Divine Liturgy was celebrated on the renovation of this Church, by the funding of the Palestinian Autonomy, that is why representatives of the State were present, among whom Mr. Ramzi Chury, President of the Palestinian Church Committee of Christian Affairs, his Secretary Mrs. Hananiye Amire, representatives of the Mayor of the district, the Ambassador of the Palestinina Autonomy in the Vatican Mr. Issa Kassiye, and other Municipal and Governmental officials.

Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Geronda Secretary-General Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Hegoumen of Rafidia, Archimandrite Leontios, the Hegoumen of Jacob’s well, Archimandrite Ioustinos, Archimandrite Porfyrios, the representative of the Patriarchate in the Arab M.M. Fr. Issa Mousleh, other Priests and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by the Byzantine singer of the left choir of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Mr. Vasilios Gotsopoulos in Greek, and the Rafidia Community choir in Arabic, while the Community members participated in the service. His Beatitude offered an icon of the Theotokos for the Church and a Cross to Archimandrite Leontios.

His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to this congregation;

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), St. Peter preaches.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Noble Christians

Blessed is the Lord our God, who has brought us in your beautiful town of Rafidia, in order to celebrate the commemoration of our Holy Father among the Saints Moses of Ethiopia, in the old Church dedicated to him and has been recently renovated.

This blessed Moses came from Ethiopia and lived in the 4th century. Being a slave, he was banished by his lord for his infamous works and brutal personality. Ever since, he led a sinful and illegal life, became the leader of a gang of thieves and he was renowned for being a robber.

One day he repented unexpectedly and retreated to a Monastery in a deserted area of Arabia, as Bishop Palladios of Elenoupolis mentions in his history saying; “This robber, having become contrite by some reason, gave himself in a monastery  and was thus brought to the state of repentance.” In the monastery he was tested by harsh temptations, which he fought by multiplying fasting and prayer, vigils and the like manners of repentance. Many spiritual students of his, who used to be his companions in sin, followed him in the ascetic life of the desert. Saint Moses was killed by barbarians and slept in the Lord at the age of 75 in the end of the 4th century, in 400 A.D. And this was so in order to fulfil the word of our Master Christ; “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt. 26:52).

Our Holy Church honours his commemoration especially, because he hearkened to Christ’s words; “and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). And “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9:13). These words of the Lord in the Gospel denote that so great is the power of repentance that it can lead the penitent man to the light and the truth of our Lord, as the psalmist says: “send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God” (Psalm 43:3-4). Interpreting these words, Theodoritos Kyrou says: “He called the Church of God tabernacles of the Lord, Jerusalem a holy hill, and the redeeming epiphany of our Saviour Jesus Christ the light and the truth”.

Indeed, my dear brothers and sisters, our Holy Father among the Saints Moses, did not only repent and was led to the light and the truth of Christ, but he also became a Priest, ministering in the Holy Altar of God. This fact reveals the depth and width of repentance, which stems from the outmost philanthropy of God “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Behold therefore why St. Paul says: “God granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).

In other words, in His ineffable philanthropy, God does not only accept repentance, but He also makes it work within the repenting one through the workings of His grace. God transforms the hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He awakens the sleeping consciousness, crying out and saying: “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14). And it is God who stimulates the will of the sinner in order to seek His mercy. Repentance is a gift from God, which man should accept with his free will as St. John of the Ladder states in short; “Repentance is a treaty with God for a second life”, namely an agreement with God for a new life.

And this is what Saint Moses did, as St. Zosimas mentions in his notes: “Was Aba Moses not a chief robber initially, did he not do a million bad things? So that he was rejected by his Lord because of his recalcitrance? But because he entered [Christianity] bravely and with such fervent accord, we are all aware of the stature he reached so that he is counted among the chosen servants of God”.

Truly, the heart of our Father among the Saints Moses became a pure habitat of the Holy Spirit, as his hymn writer says: “Thy heart, made to shine by visions and labours, was shown to be a pure dwelling-place of the Spirit, O all-blessed Father”. Our Father Moses accomplished this with the Divine grace, and with his good accord, namely his free choice and decision.

Relatively, let us hear what the Great Father of the Church St. Gregory of Nyssa says regarding the meaning of “accord”; “accord is this, the non-enslaved and self-dominant property of something, which is placed in the freedom of the intellect”. This means that God cannot be held responsible for any malicious thing happening in any case, and therefore not of the personal sin of man. God does not tempt us, on the contrary He is the source of every good and perfect gift, as St. James the Brother of God teaches by saying: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:13-14).

Our Holy Father Moses is projected by the Church not only as an example of repentance but also as an example of the power of the accord, namely of the will for the overcoming of sins and the abstinence of our passions, through the weapons of fasting and prayer, as well as through the transposition of the intellect to things favourable for both mind (nous) and speech (logos).

Let us entreat our Father who is counted among the chorea of the saints, so that along with our Most Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, they may intercede to Christ our God to grant us the great mercy and the renewal of our souls and bodies. Amen.

And from the Holy Altar, we would like to express our warm wholehearted thanks to all those who worked for the renovation of the historic parish Church of St. Moses the Ethiopian, especially to the President of the Supreme Committee of Religious Affairs Mr. Ramzi Khury, who represents His Excellency the President of the Palestinian State Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, wishing him health and longevity and every governmental power through God. Many Happy Returns!”

During the meal offered at lunch time, by the Hegoumen and the Community Council, His Beatitude also said the following;

“I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews 2:12 / Psalm 22:23).

Your Excellency Mr. Ramzi Khoury, representative of His Excellency the President of the Palestinian State Mr. Mahmoud Abbas,

Honorable Members of the Church Council of the Rafidia Community,

Dear Fathers and Brothers, Noble Christians

Let us praise our Lord God, Who has deemed us worthy in this Eucharistic gathering to bless the recently renovated small, but historic Church of our Holy Father Moses the Ethiopian.

The renovation of this humble Church does not refer so much to its architectural value, as it does to the irrefutable witness of the centuries-old Christian and Apostolic legacy, and the ab-Antiquo presence of the primary Church of Christ, namely the Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The most beautiful and developing town of Rafidia has especial importance and this is so because it is incorporated within the historic and cultural frame of the wider district of the Biblical town of Nablus, with Jacob’s well as a reference point, which is the birth town of St. Foteini, the Samaritan woman.

The indicated interest of the Palestinian Government in favour of the renovation and preservation of monuments and houses of worship without any distinction among the religious communities and the Christian Doctrines is a solid proof of the love and the good co-existence and co-habitation of the religious communities and of their equal treatment.

The Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, remaining stable and faithful in its God-sent mission, continues its ministry, namely the ministry of the safe-guarding of the All-holy shrines, of the care of its flock, and especially of the protection of the religious and cultural Status Quo of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

We take this opportunity in order to again express from the depths of our hearts our thanks to the President of the Church Committee and its respected members, the Hegoumen of Jacob’s well, Reverend Archimandrite Ioustinos and your Spiritual Father, Reverend Archimandrite Leontios, and especially the representative of the President Mahmoud Abbas Dr. Ramzi Khoury, whose contribution is undoubtedly recognized above all.

We wish health and the success in God to the ongoing God-pleasing work of your community. Amen.”

His Beatitude offered Mr. Ramzi Chury an icon of the Theotokos and a painting of Jerusalem to the other Palestinian representatives. Finally, the President of the Community Mr. Psiara Chury spoke, expressing his thanksgiving.

From Secretariat-General