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THE FEAST OF THE MYRRH-BEARING WOMEN SUNDAY AT THE PATRIARCHATE

Sunday 25 April/ 8 May 2022 was celebrated by the Patriarchate as the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women according to the book of Pentecostarion.

On this Sunday the Church commemorates Saint Joseph of Arimathaea – present-day Ramle – who asked Pilate for the Lord’s body and buried Him along with the Myrrh-bearing Women.

This event was celebrated in Ramle, at the Holy Monastery of the Patriarchate, with the Divine Liturgy which was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences, the Archbishops, Aristarchos of Constantina, Damascene of Yaffo, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks and Arab-speaking Priests, with the attendance of a large congregation of the Orthodox faithful of this city.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre” (Mark 15,43-46) Mark the Evangelist testifies.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

Today the Holy Church of Christ honours and venerates the commemoration of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women and that of the secret disciple, Joseph from Arimathaea, the current city of Ramle. According to the witness of the Evangelists, the Myrrh-bearing Women were true witnesses of the Resurrection, while Joseph and Nicodemus of the burial of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as of His God-man nature of His.

“The Myrrh-bearing Women were the first people to see the Resurrection and they evangelised it to the disciples” according to the synaxarist. These women were the first witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him” (Mark 16,6). Joseph and Nicodemus were distinguished for their bravery and boldness as Mark the Evangelist says: “Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus” (Mark 15,43).

Christ’s resurrection, my dear ones, is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets, that is the revelation of the purpose of the mystery of the incarnation of God the Word through the pure flesh of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. In other words, the Myrrh-bearing Women and the Lord’s secret disciples Joseph and Nicodemus were given the grace of witness and speak about the One of whom “we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled” (John 1,1).

This graced of the Holy Spirit was given to the former blasphemer and persecutor and injurious (1 Tim. 1,13) Saint Paul, when he was called unto his Apostolic office. He says: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3,8-10).

We, my dear brethren, being members of the body of Christ, that is the Church, which He beautified with His own blood (ref. Acts 20,28), have become communicants of this incomprehensible richness of Christ and the enlightenment of the mystery which was hidden for centuries in God, as well as of the diverse wisdom of God.

Indeed, the Church of Christ is his empty tomb, where “we receive the experience” (ref. Hebrews 11,36) of our resurrection in the communion of the body and blood of Christ during the Divine Liturgy. “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6,54) the Lord says. Our Holy Church of Christ is the place of “the Lord’s Pascha”, namely the place, or rather the empty tomb from which Christ God transfers us from the death of corruption and sin (= infirmity) to life eternal and from the earth to heaven, as the hymnographer says: “We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of Hades, the beginning of everlasting life. And with leaps of joy we praise the cause thereof, the only blest and most glorious God of our Fathers” (Easter Sunday, Ode 7, Troparion 3).

Saint Paul scorns those who say “that there is no resurrection” (1 Cor. 15,12) saying that if Christ is not risen then the faith of us Christians is in vain. “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15,14).

Pointing out the power of faith the Holy Apostles and Evangelists advice thus; Saint Paul says, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 2,6-7). Judas, the brother of James the brother of God writes in his letter: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Judas 3). Saint John the Theologian preaches: “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5,4). No one can face our faith, which through works has gained the trophies for us, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says.

““We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of Hades, the beginning of everlasting life,” the hymnographer says, paying heed to Saint Paul’s preaching: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15,20). In other words, being perfect God and perfect man, Christ became the firstfruits of those who slept, because He was the first of men to tumble down death, just as our ancestor Adam entered the death of sin and became the firstfruits of the fallen, leading us to corruption, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says.

And according to Saint Gregory Palamas, “the Lord’s resurrection is the renewal of the human nature, it is the reviving and renewal and restoration of the first Adam to the eternal life, because he was devoured by death because of sin and through death he regressed to the earth by which he was created”.

Just like Eve was the first one to see Adam, likewise the first one to see the resurrected Christ was also a woman, Saint Gregory Palamas says. “First of all others was a woman that saw Him; the Theotokos received first the gospel of the resurrection, as it was befitting and righteous, and she saw Him resurrected before anyone else, and enjoyed His divine voice”.

Through His Resurrection our Lord and God Jesus Christ inaugurated the entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, therefore, we, my dear brethren, let us entreat the Most Blessed Theotokos, the Myrrh-bearing Women and Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, who buried the Lord, that by their intercessions we may be deemed worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen. Christ is risen! Many happy and peaceful returns!”

The feast was organised by the energetic Hegoumen Archimandrite Niphon, who addressed the Patriarch and hosted a meal along with the Community Council. At the meal His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:

“Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious” (Psalm 66,1-2), that Christ is risen!

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Respected President and honourable members of the Community Council,

Your Grace Archimandrite Niphon,

The grace of Christ’s secret disciple Joseph has led our footsteps to his hometown, the biblical Arimathaea, the current Ramle, to celebrate along with our Rum Orthodox flock living here the Lord’s Pascha, namely the three-day burial and the luminous Resurrection of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This event of our blessed Paschal gathering of both the clergy and the people shows the hypostatic power of the truth of our Christian faith, according to the true testimony of the Evangelist John who says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1,14).

This glory of “the only begotten of the Father” Who is immortal is preached and confessed boldly by the Holy Church of Christ and especially by the Mother of all Churches, namely the Church of Jerusalem, which is founded on this very place of Golgotha, the sanctified by the divine blood on the Cross, but also by the new and empty tomb, from which the true shone forth, the Light of the Resurrected Christ.

This unwaning light of the glory of the Resurrected Christ, namely the truth, peace, righteousness and love of His, as well as His infinite philanthropy, is served throughout the centuries in the Holy Land by the visible and invisible presence of the Church of Jerusalem, the Venerable Rum Orthodox Patriarchate, which always follows the Lord’s commands, “Fear not” (Matt. 10,31), “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16,33). “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5,4-5).

We say this because in our days the power of evil and lawlessness is active as Saint Paul preaches: “the mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thess. 2,7). However, we, my dear brethren, are fortified by the divine light and the hope of the resurrection and neither worry nor flinch, because as Saint Paul says, “God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2,13-14). Christ is risen! Many happy, blessed and peaceful returns!”

This feast was also celebrated at the chapel of the Myrrh-bearing Women within Saint James Cathedral, with the Divine Liturgy which was officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Theophanes of Gerassa. Co-celebrants to His Eminence were the ministering Priests of the Cathedral, Fr Farah Bandour and George Baramki. The chanting was delivered by Monk Joseph of Mount Athos and Fadi Abdelnour in Greek on the right, and by the Cathedral’s choir under Mr Rimon Kamar in Arabic on the left. The service was attended by the parish members of this Cathedral.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Myrrh-bearing Women’s association of the Cathedral’s community hosted a reception at the Ouzud restaurant.

From Secretariat-General




A GROUP OF GEORGIAN PILGRIMS VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE

On Saturday morning, 24 April/ 7 May 2022, a group of two hundred Georgian pilgrims led by Mr Lasa-George Zvania and accompanied by the Ambassador of Georgia in Israel visited the Patriarchate.

The group was received by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers and spoke to them about the mission of the Church of Jerusalem and its relation with the Patriarchate of Georgia and other Churches.

On this visit these pious pilgrims offered His Beatitude an icon and addressed Him as written below:

We glorify the distinguished Georgian Holy Fathers Prochoro, Luke and Nickolao the Holy Martyr. We beseech God for the protection of His Beatitude the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine Theophilos III, all the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, our father His Beatitude Catholic-Patriarch of all Georgia Elias II. May He protect our people from any irreverence and guide all to the path of truth.

We offer this icon of the three Georgian Fathers from Jerusalem in love and offer it for the protection of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

The commemoration of the Holy Fathers is on 25 (12) February.”

His Beatitude gave them souvenirs/blessings from Jerusalem.

Asking for His Beatitude’s blessings, the group left to venerate the Holy Sepulchre.

From Secretariat-General

 

 




VISIT OF AMERICAN SENATORS TO THE PATRIARCHATE

On the morning of Wednesday, April 21 / May 4, 2022, a group of US Senators led by Mr Andy Harris and Mr Jose Luis Correa visited the Patriarchate.

This group was received by His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers. His Beatitude said “Our joy, is to welcome you at this occasion of our Feast of Easter, along with the Jewish Passover and the feast of Ramadan in Jerusalem, the spiritual capital of the three monotheistic religions, a point of blessing but also a point of political controversy.

In this context, the Patriarchate holds a significant pastoral, religious but also a pacifying and conciliatory mission in Jerusalem and the wider Holy Land, since the first centuries of Christianity, but also since the 7th century with the agreement between Patriarch Sophronius and Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab.

Throughout the centuries the Patriarchate has preserved not only the Christian but also the Jewish holy places and keeps their functional role despite the war it faces from extremists. For this reason, despite being attacked by the extremists, the Patriarchate receives the respect and honour by many. The Holy Sepulchre is the heart of Jerusalem”.

Listening carefully to His Beatitude’s words, the American Senators expressed their honest interest to help the Patriarchate and the Christians of the Holy Land through their efficient actions toward the Israeli Government. Thankfully accepting the souvenirs/blessings of His Beatitude, among which a silver painting depicting Jerusalem, they left to venerate the Holy Sepulchre.

From Secretariat-General




DECORATION AWARDING BY THE PATRIARCHATE

On Monday, 19th of April / 2nd of May 2022, H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, in the presence of Mr. Joseph Nasser, his wife and son, as well as Hagiotaphite Fathers, honoured Mr Admon Faraj with the medal of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, for his quite important financial aid during the construction of the Holy Church of Saints Constantine and Helen at the Kufr Smea community in the Acre-Ptolemais district, of the Patriarchate’s jurisdiction. Asking His Beatitude’s blessing, Mr Admond Faraj and his companions left to venerate the Holy Sepulchre.  

From Secretariat-General




THOMAS’ SUNDAY AT THE PATRIARCHATE

The Sunday 18 April / 1 May 2022 was celebrated by the Patriarchate as the second Sunday after Easter and Thomas’ Sunday.

On this Sunday the Church commemorates that on the eighth day after His Resurrection, the Lord appeared to His Disciples in the upper room while the doors were closed when Thomas was also with them. The Lord urged Thomas to touch Him and when the latter did so, the Lord told him, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20, 24-31).

  1. This event was celebrated in Cana of Galilee, along with the celebration of the miracle of the wedding in Cana, that is, the turning of water into wine and the blessing of the wedding. This is celebrated on Thomas’ Sunday due to the gospel narrative about the wedding in Cana, which is read on the Monday after Thomas’ Sunday.

The feast in Cana was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, Hagiotaphite Hierodeacons and Arab-speaking Priests from the Galilee district.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him” (John 2,11).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

The divine grace of the resurrected Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour, has gathered us all in this holy place of Cana in Galilee where Christ’s feet stood, but also His mother’s the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, so that we may boldly confess the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this, is because as Saint Paul preaches, “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15,14).

Today and tomorrow’s gospel narrative refer to the signs Jesus worked before His disciples, so that both they and we, may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and by believing in Him we may have eternal life in His name (John 20,31).

In today’s gospel narrative according to the Evangelist John, we hear the Lord saying to Thomas: “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20,29), while in the other gospel narrative we hear that “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him” (John 2,11).

Saint John of Damascus refers to the need and power of faith for the comprehension of the mystery of the divine providence by saying: “the wonders are made manifest unto those who worship the mystery in faith” (Thursday of renewal week, Matins, praises, Troparion 1).

“And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” (John 20,26-28).

Interpreting these words, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says: “So we reasonably do the gatherings on the eighth day and if we need to say the most secret … although we close the doors, Christ comes and appears to all of us, both invisibly and visibly; invisibly as God, and visibly again in the body. He also allows them to give His holy flesh to hold. Because we approach by grace with the coming of God through a secret blessing, we accept Christ in our hands so that we too may believe that He truly resurrected Himself as a temple … So we abandon infidelity as destructive and after we touch Christ, we find ourselves to be very faithful and to have absolute confidence in our mind.”

In other words, my dear brethren, our participation in the sacrament of the mystical blessing, namely the communion of the sacred body and blood of our Saviour Christ, is the true confession and remembrance that the Lord died and was resurrected for us in order to save us.

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage” (John 2,1-2).

Commenting on Christ’s presence at the wedding in Cana, Zigavinos says: “The One who established marriage by law came to honour the wedding and sanctify it by His presence”. Saint Cyril of Alexandria references Saint Paul and says: “Being a friend of man, the Saviour honoured the wedding by His presence, as He is the joy and happiness of all so that He would distance the ancient curse of childbearing.” This is because the one who is in union with Christ is a new creation. The ancient curse which the Law of Moses had created and the sin have passed away. Behold, everything has become new. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5,17).

According to the witness of Saint John the Evangelist, speaking about Christ, Saint John the Baptist presents Him as the bridegroom and says: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom” (John 3,29). Interpreting this verse, Saint Cyril of Alexandria refers to the spiritual wedding between humanity and Christ, which is accomplished through the Holy Baptism. And according to Zigavinos, the bride is “the faithful people, namely the Church which is mystically attached to Christ through faith”.

“In the manner of a sunray did Christ’s glory shine”, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says, when “He did the beginning of the miracles in Cana of Galilee, in front of His Mother and Disciples” (ref. John 2,1-11). Among the many other signs Jesus did before His Disciples, is the touching of His side by the Apostle Thomas; His side which was pierced with the military spear.

Through His resurrection, my dear brethren, Christ conquered the death of corruption and sin and also dissolved the hatred between God and the people and granted us His peace “which passeth all understanding” (Philip. 4,7). “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2,14) according to Saint Paul.

Our Holy Church calls upon this peace of Christ, namely the peace of the Holy Spirit, in every place and time. The confused and turbulent world is in need of this peace of Christ like never before. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14,27). These are the words that our Lord and God Jesus Christ, Who is risen from the dead tells us. Amen. Christ is risen! Many happy returns, blessed and in peace!”

At noon the Hegoumen Archimandrite Chrysostom and the Ecclesiastical Council hosted a meal, where His Beatitude addressed all present as follows:

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118,24), the psalmist proclaims.

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Respected members of Churchwardens,

Reverend Archimandrite Chrysostom,

Dear brothers and sisters

The Holy Church of Christ rejoices today and is glad, especially the local Church of your city of Cana in Galilee, on this festal and Paschal day.

We thank our Triune God for the blessing He bestowed upon us, to gather in this place after the trial of the deadly covid disease.

The Passion on the Cross, the three-day burial and the Resurrection of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ are the fulfilment of the Divine Providence.

The living presence of the Christians in the Holy Land and in this holy shrine is a soundproof that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16,18), as the Lord said.

The preaching of the gospel of Christ is the preaching of righteousness, love, peace and divine philanthropy. “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9,13) the Lord says. This is confirmed by Saint Paul’s words: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6,12).

Behold again, why Christ’s resurrection is the fulfilment of the mystery of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15, 26), Saint Paul preaches, calling upon the prophet Isaiah, who says: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15,54-55 / Isaiah 25,8).

My dear brethren, who live and visit the city of Cana in Galilee, where our Lord Jesus Christ worked His first miracle and revealed His glory; We have come along with our honourable entourage from the place of the resurrected Christ, our Saviour, the Holy city of Jerusalem, to exclaim the victorious greeting against death, “Christ is risen”!

Needless to say, We consider Ourselves personally a citizen of Cana and a member of your blessed Christian Community. For this reason, we tell you through the mouth of wise Paul; “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5,17).

Christ is risen! Many happy returns, fruitful in Christ.”

  1. At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The feast was celebrated with Great Vespers on Saturday afternoon, with the veneration of the Deposition slate and the Holy Sepulchre, the incense offering, Great Entrance and the Blessing of Bread at the Catholicon, which was led by the Patriarchal Commissioner, His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, along with Hagiotaphite Hieromonks. The chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon and the Typikon Keeper of the monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen Archimandrite Alexios, as the service was attended by many local faithful Christians and numerous pilgrims.

On Sunday morning the Divine Liturgy was held as a ‘Small Parresia’ at the Holy Sepulchre, officiated again by His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, with the co-celebration of Hagiotaphite Hieromonks and Hierodeacons. The service was attended by local faithful Christians and numerous pilgrims and the chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon with the help of the Patriarchal School students.

After the feast, the Episcopal Entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters.

There, the Patriarchal Commissioner wished the faithful Christians present, the light and the power of the Resurrected Christ.

From Secretariat-General




A GREEK GROUP FROM AMERICA VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE

On Saturday of Renewal Week, 17/30 April 2022, a group of Orthodox Christian Greeks from America of AHEPA, led by Mr Jimmy Kokotas, Jimmy Kokotas, Supreme President, Mr Louis G. Atsaves, Supreme Vice President, and Mr James Lagos, visited the Patriarchate.

The group was received by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and spoke to them about Jerusalem as the centre of the world, due to Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre and about the Patriarchate, as the incarnation of the Sacred History of the Holy Bible, the Old and the New Testament.

Moreover, His Beatitude spoke about the pressure against the Patriarchate by extreme elements as it is a Christian institution that preaches the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ. Despite these adverse conditions, the Patriarchate carries out its pastoral, pacifying and conciliatory mission in modesty, truth and power.

Hearing His Beatitude’s words, the pilgrims from America expressed their faith and asked His blessing to venerate the Holy Sepulchre, promising their contribution from America in solving the Patriarchate’s problems.

They offered His Beatitude the emblem of AHEPA and of the AMERICAN HELLENIC INSTITUTION.

From Secretariat-General




A GROUP FROM THE RUSSIAN-SPEAKING FLOCK VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE

On Thursday, 15/28 April 2022, a group of the Russian-speaking flock with priests and laity, accompanied by His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth visited the Patriarchate for the feast of Pascha.

The pious group was received and blessed by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos. His Beatitude also spoke to them about our Saviour Jesus Christ Who was risen from the dead and co-resurrected us, and that the Lord is the cornerstone of the Church and the centre of our lives in the power of His light.

From Secretariat-General

 




GIRLS’ NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM OF GREECE VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE

On the morning of Thursday, 15th / 28th of April 2022, the girls’ National football team of Greece visited the Patriarchate accompanied by the representative of the Greek Consul General, Mrs Zaharioudaki Christina.

This group was accepted by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers. His Beatitude praised the team members for their athletic efforts, saying that the Church Fathers also set the athletes as an example for the exercise of both their bodies and mind, having continence as an example for the spiritual feats in the arena of virtue acquisition.

Moreover, He wished to these girls the power, the grace and the light of the Resurrected Christ to succeed in their profession and exercise, and characterized them as “a living hope and an example to imitate”, having Christ in the centre of their lives, Who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life”. “We are Christ’s nation, we are free”. We survive the unsettled situations of the Holy Land in the name of Christ. We are Christ’s nation. Globalization is the overturn of natural laws. Bear in mind “Iniohos” as the Fathers say, the horse which remained focused on its target without wearing blinkers.

For this visit, the representatives of the football team gave His Beatitude the t-shirt of their team and a vessel of ancient Greek art, while the latter gave them icons and His blessing for their visit to the Holy Sepulchre.

From Secretariat-General




THE VISIT OF THE CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM ON THE OCCASION OF OUR PASCHA

On Wednesday, 14/27 April 2022, Wednesday of the Bright Week, the Churches of Jerusalem visited the Patriarchate on the occasion of our Pascha.

The first to visit the Patriarchate was the Franciscan monks, the custody of the Holy Land, under their Abbot, Fr Francesco Patton, whom His Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos addressed as follows:

“Your Paternity, dear Father Francesco,

Beloved members of our respective Brotherhoods,

Dear Fathers

We welcome you warmly to our Patriarchate and we thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt Paschal greetings.

We are living at a time when the contrast between the darkness of Good Friday and the light of Easter have never been more apparent to us. On Good Friday we sang these words:

The whole creation was charged in fear,

When it saw you, O Christ,

Hanging on the Cross.

(Good Friday Vespers)

And now we can sing:

Your resurrection, O Christ our Saviour,

Has enlightened the whole world;

And you have restored your own creature.

(Paschal Vespers)

This experience of darkness and light in our liturgy mirrors the experience of darkness and light in our lives and in our world.

The common purpose and efforts in which our Brotherhoods have been engaged in recent years have borne real fruit. In the care of the Holy Places and in the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity, we have accomplished much of importance together. Our united voice and witness have brought to the attention of the world the increasing challenges and threats that we face, and we take the opportunity of this blessed feast to thank you once again for your steadfast commitment to this.

We are fully aware of the realities we are experiencing in this Holy City and our beloved Holy Land. These realities include the increased activity of well-known Israeli radical groups against Christian properties at Jaffa Gate and New Gate. They also include the authorities and many police obstacles that our worshippers have faced in coming to the Holy Fire ceremony. It is incumbent upon us, who have built such an effective partnership, to continue to do our best to encourage the other members of the Christian family here to be drawn into our cooperation. For our best future depends on our deepening cooperation and our clear united witness.

Day by day we must keep our presence in the Holy Land visible, locally, regionally, and internationally. At this time of the year the eyes of the world are on the Holy Land, and what they see when they look at us is crucial. They must understand our common mission as a Christian family here. Therefore, it is time to lay aside matters of pride and triviality for the sake of the greater good and for the sake of protecting the Christian presence in this region.

Pilgrims come here precisely to escape the darkness and difficulty of so much of life around the world. They come here to find comfort in times of fear, peace in times of unrest and violence; spiritual safety in times of worldly danger. They come here from the Good Friday of their daily lives even just for a brief glimpse of the light of the resurrection and the hope that this brings to them. In the Christian family here they must see this same comfort, this same peace, this same spiritual safety, this same light and hope.

As we keep this joyful Eastertide, let us recommit ourselves to this spiritual mission to which the Divine Providence has called us. Let us encourage our brothers and sisters in the Christian family and beyond to join us in this collective witness to the light of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us, as the Liturgy reminds us, lay aside every earthly care, that we may receive the King of all who is risen from the dead, and who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).

May God bless you, dear Father Francesco, and your Brotherhood during this glorious season of the Light that shines from the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb, and May God bless all those entrusted in your care.

Christ is risen!

Thank you.”

Then the other local churches visited the Patriarchate, the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem under the Latin Patriarch Pierre Battista Pizzaballa, the Coptic church, the Syriac, Ethiopian, Lutheran and others.

The Latin Patriarch and the other Heads of churches were addressed by His Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos as per below:

“Your Beatitude, dear Archbishop Pizzaballa,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Dear Fathers,

We welcome you gladly to our Patriarchate, and we thank you for your greetings as we celebrate this Easter feast. Our journey over these last few days has taken us from the darkness and fear of Good Friday to the triumph and joy of Easter Day.

With the Most Holy Mother of God on Good Friday we lamented:

Where, O my Son and God,

are the good tidings of the Annunciation

that Gabriel brought me?

He called you King and God and Son of the Most High;

And now, O my sweet Light,

I behold you naked, wounded, lifeless.

(Good Friday Vespers)

And yet, now we can sing with equal fervour:

Your resurrection, O Christ Saviour,

has enlightened the whole world.

(Paschal Vespers)

We celebrate this Paschal Feast, confident that light has overcome the darkness, and hope has banished fear. This is the heart of the message that the world longs to hear in these times of war and conflict, confusion and distress, instability and dread.

In this Holy City in our beloved Holy Land, we are celebrating this blessed season confronted by certain realities that we must face. These realities include the increased activity of well-known Israeli radical groups against Christian properties at Jaffa Gate and New Gate. They also include the authorities and many police obstacles that our worshippers have faced in coming to the Holy Fire ceremony. Therefore, this is a reminder that we must be ever vigilant in remaining united in our common purpose, if we are to present ourselves, and be seen by others locally, regionally, and internationally, to be a Christian family here. As Saint Paul says, who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35).

We rejoice in the strength and commitment of the mutual respect and understanding that exist between us, and we take this blessed opportunity, Your Beatitude, to express our gratitude for, and our recognition of, all that you have done and continue to do to ensure the best possible cooperation between our two communities.

We must continue to do all in our power to bring along the other members of our Christian family here into a closer fellowship of purpose and resolve. We must build on the foundation that we share, so that we may be stronger to meet the challenges and difficulties that we are all facing in the current climate. As we read in the First Epistle of Saint Peter, Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves, must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God MAY be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11).

A world wrapped in fear looks to Jerusalem in hope, especially this season. MAY we, in all that we do, embrace without reserve our common vocation to be a living witness to this hope. MAY we be those who live the light of the resurrection, so that all those who are bound by terror and despair MAY find here joy, renewal and encouragement.

MAY God bless you, Your Beatitude, your colleagues, and the communities that you serve, and MAY the light that shines from the All-holy Tomb and Life-giving Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ banish all fear and darkness from our minds and hearts.

Christ is risen!

Thank you.”

The Patriarchate returned this visit to the churches celebrating the Feast of Easter on the same date, the Syriacs, and Ethiopians, through His Eminence Archbishop Theodosios of Sebastia.

During the Bright Week also, the Communities of the Rum-Orthodox Arab-speaking flock of the Patriarchate visited His Beatitude, for the Feast of Easter.

From Secretariat-General




THE LITURGY OF PASCHA AT THE PATRIARCHATE

The joyful Feast of Pascha was celebrated by the Patriarchate with an all-night Vigil at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday night 11/24 April 2022. After the cathode from the Patriarchate at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at midnight (summertime) the Canon of Holy Saturday was chanted at the Catholicon while the Patriarch, the High Priests, Priests and Deacons put on their liturgical vestments.

After the Canon, there was a litany three times around the Sacred Edicule, which concluded with the reading of the Gospel narrative according to Saint Mark on the resurrection. This was followed by the chanting of “Christ is risen”.

Consequently, there Canon of Saint John of Damascus was read, the 9th Ode, the Praises, the Glory and with “Christ is risen” changed three times the Matins was completed.

The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom began at the Holy Sepulchre, officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, along with their Eminences, Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, and the Archbishops, Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Theodosios of Sebastia, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis and Archbishop Philoumenos of Pella. The service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and members of the Consulate General, and many faithful Christians who chanted joyfully and loudly the ‘Christ is risen’ in Greek, Arabic, Romanian, Russian and other languages.

Before the Holy Communion, the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod read His Beatitude’s Pascha message as per below:

“Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28, 5-6).

With these comforting words, the Myrrh-bearing Women were encouraged by “the angel that hath come down from heaven and moved the stone of the tomb”, where the crucified Jesus Christ the Nazarene had been buried. The Myrrh-bearing Women, who bore the myrrh in tears, were astounded by the vision of the empty tomb, for this reason, the angel encouraged them with his presence and with the words: “fear not ye”. Appearing “like lightning and white like snow”, he was sitting at the tomb and said to the women: “I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen”. And he was not ashamed to call Him crucified, for this was the good chapter”, according to Saint Chrysostom.

The bright like lightning angel announced something unheard of and impossible for the people. He announced what could happen only by the providence, the will and the power of God. That Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son and Word of God, and crucified in the flesh, having been buried, was risen from the dead and co-resurrected the human flesh He had received along with the whole Adam, by a mighty hand. Out of love for man, Saint Chrysostom explains, “having risen from the royal thrones, God entered the earth and even Hades, and the devil became an opponent not to a naked God but to a God hidden within the human nature” and we see “death being released by death and the curse annulling the curse, and through these, the tyranny of the devil in all things he prevailed is now abolished”. Indeed, through the Saviour’s death, the tyranny of death has been abolished. “Through the Cross, joy came unto the whole world”. Hades became bitter and therefore he was mocked, thinking that he received a common mortal. That is why, in the faith and power of Christ’s Resurrection, the Apostle of nations rephrases the prophesy: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15, 54-55).

The Myrrh-bearing women experienced the Resurrection not only from the vision of the empty Tomb and the Angel and the hearing of his words but also from the vision of the Resurrected Lord Himself. “Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28, 9-10). Indeed, for forty days the Lord appeared many times as the Apostle Paul testifies, “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15, 5-7), speaking to them, confirming His crucified and resurrected body, receiving food and eating before them. Finally, receiving the worship of the eleven in Galilee, the mountain where Jesus had appointed them, He ordered them to go and teach all nations (Matthew 28, 16-19).

Fulfilling this command, the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and preached unto the ends of the world “the one they had seen with their own eyes and touched with their own hands”, they enchanted the universe, becoming the twelve pillars of the body of the Church, while Christ is its cornerstone. The body of the Church that has been built by the Lord, for which He said “the gates of hell shall not overcome it” (Matthew 16,18), continues throughout the centuries His sanctifying and redeeming mission through His Disciples and their heirs, the Bishops and Priests. In its crucified-and-resurrected course in the world, the Church, vivified by the blood of the Cross, from which it was created, conveys power, hope and joy for the creation, maintenance, refreshment and restoration of man from the ruins and the ashes of wars, repeating the comforting invitation of Christ, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11,28).     

The Church of Jerusalem, appointed by the Resurrected Christ Himself to serve at the places of His appearance in the flesh, being under pressure, especially recently, by radical extremist and hostile to it elements, however, not crushed by them, fights bravely in one accord and unity for the rights of the Christian presence and its flock in the Holy Land and welcomes the pious pilgrims during their pilgrimage as its own flock and sends to them and its pious flock all over the world the Paschal greeting “Christ is risen from the dead, by death He hath tumbled down death and to those in the grave He hath given life!”         

In the Holy City of Jerusalem, Pascha 2022

Fervent supplicant for all before God,

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem

When the Priests received the Holy Communion inside the Edicule, the crowds of the people also received the Holy Communion around the Catholicon.

Before dismissal, the Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom was read.

Finally, bells tolling, the Patriarchal entourage returned to the Patriarchate, where Easter eggs and cheese were offered.

From Secretariat-General