THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM ADDRESSES THE VII CONGRESS OF THE LEADERS OF WORLD AND TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS
The two-day interreligious event kicked off this week in Kazakhstan’s capital of Nur-Sultan.Government officials and spiritual leaders from around the globe gathered this week in Kazakhstan for the 7th Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
The interreligious event themed ‘The Role of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the Spiritual and Social Development of Human Civilization in the Post-Pandemic Period’ included representatives of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and other religions, including His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, the Head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis, Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, among others.
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III gave the following speech:
Honoured Fellow Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We wish to express our gratitude to the leadership of this Congress for your invitation to address this distinguished gathering of religious leaders and scholars from all over the world. We are gathered here in a season, unprecedented in our lifetime, of widespread and deep conflict and war, economic instability, the displacement of populations, the ongoing consequences of pandemic, and profound political and social divisions in almost every corner of our world.
And we gather here primarily as those who are representatives of our several religious traditions. At the heart of all great historic religious traditions are the values of peace-making, justice, and reconciliation. All religious traditions have at their heart the supreme value of peace: peace between God and humanity, peace within the human family, and peace between humanity and creation.
An Orthodox Christian perspective on peace and peace-making begins with the peace that is at the heart of God himself. As we read in the New Testament, “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt. 5:9). Indeed, according to Saint Paul, from God comes perfect peace, the peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). Peace is the foundation of all divinely-ordered relationship.
We who come from Jerusalem – which means “the foundation of Peace” – understand the power of peace which gives birth to co-existence, mutual respect, and harmony. Peace is the mother of harmony, because if there is no peace in the human heart, where the spirit of God dwells, there can be no peace among fellow human beings or among the rest of creation. This yearning in our human nature for peace draws us, whatever our religious tradition, away from the pettiness of the self-interest that leads to violence and conflict to a new and radical restraint and to a concern for the other, the stranger, the one in need.
Peace is born of compassion, and to seek peace is an act of the will on the part of the believer. As it is said in the Holy Bible:
let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it. (1 Pet. 3:11)
And it is also written:
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other. (Ps. 84 :11)
Here we see the power of peace and peace-making that is a divine commandment, and therefore we are to take this into serious consideration and translate it into real action.
The reality on the ground is that we are confronted by indisputable challenges. The whole of humanity is under real threat. Therefore it is our moral mission and our moral obligation as religious leaders to do our utmost to help our civic and political leaders to take into account the importance of peace. For God is a “God not of disorder (which is ἀκαταστασία in Greek), but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33). Furthermore we should be reminded that we must “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Tim. 2:22) and that “peace and security” (1 Thess. 5:3) are at the heart of God’s will for the human family.
There is no denying that humanity throughout the ages has suffered from war and violence. War and violence are not from God, and this is why the great Prophet Isaiah is exhorting us to remind us of our responsibilities, and not to be idle, by telling us:
they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation;
neither shall they learn war any more. (Is. 2:4)
This is not just a poetic sentiment; this is a divine challenge to all who hold positions of authority. So the impossible becomes possible.
May Almighty God, the God of peace, from whom we learn the power of peace, enlighten our minds and guide our thoughts during this Congress, and may God give us the strength and the wisdom to return to our countries and communities renewed in our commitment to be messengers of God’s peace-building in our time.
Thank you again for hosting us.”
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH OF CYPRUS VISITS THE PATRIARCHΑΤΕ
On the evening of Sunday, August 29/September 11, 2022, the Minister of Health of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Michalis Hatzipandelas, visited the Patriarchate, accompanied by a group of his colleagues, Dr Christina Vassiliou Giannaki, Director General of the Ministry of Health, Mrs Theodora Konstantinidou, Ambassador of Cyprus to Israel, and Mr Konstantinos Athanasiou, Dr Konstantinos Fellas, Mrs Irene Trigidou, Mr Nikolaos Charalambous and Mrs Martha Charalambous.
The Minister and his associates were warmly welcomed by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers.
In the context of this meeting, there was a discussion about the cooperation between the Republic of Cyprus and Israel in matters of health, visits of patients from the Republic of Cyprus to Israel, one of which was the recent visit of the Archbishop of Cyprus His Beatitude Chrysostomos to the Hadassa Hospital of Ein Karem.
There were also discussions about the cooperation between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Church of Cyprus, as evidenced by the existence of the Exarchate of the Holy Sepulchre in Nicosia, continuing its work even after the Turkish illegal occupation.
On this visit, His Beatitude offered the Minister a silver painting of Jerusalem, an icon of the Mother of God of Jerusalem and the book of the blessed Archbishop Chrysostomos Papadopoulos on the History of the Church of Jerusalem and blessings from Jerusalem for his associates, while the Minister brought a symbolic ship model from his birthplace Salamis.
Grateful for the visit, the Minister asked for His Beatitude’s blessing for success in his mission.
OPENING OF A NEW KINDERGARTEN AND PRIMARY SCHOOL OF THE PATRIARCHATE IN KARAK, JORDAN
With the blessing of His Beatitude Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, the Most Reverend Archbishop Christophoros of Kyriakoupolis, inaugurated on Wednesday, August 18/31, 2022 the new Kindergarten and Primary School of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Karak, Jordan, in the presence of the Minister of Culture, Mr Haifa Al-Najjar, the Regional of Karak Mr Muhammad Al-Fayez, the regional deputies Mr Ayman Madanat and Mr Salem Al-Damour, the Hegoumen Archimandrite Saba Hourani, and some important officials of the city and priests.
After the recitation of the Royal Anthem, the ceremony began with a prayer by Father Youhanna Hamati and was followed by a video about the achievements of the Patriarchate’s schools in Jordan, and a group of students sang the school anthem.
The Most Reverend Archbishop Christoforos of Kyriakoupolis, welcomed those present, saying: “Today, a dream has come true for the residents of the region, to establish a model school, in which they will incorporate virtue together with learning and science, and to work for to create a competent and effective educational team, which will reflect the integrated vision of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the rebirth of our schools”.
The Most Reverend Archbishop of Kyriakoupolis also thanked the contributors for all the efforts that made this work possible and which are many, noting the collaboration with the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Foundation, and in particular, he thanked the former Minister Mr Samikos Halasa and his family for their generous donation to the project of establishing the new school and the supervision of the project.
At the end of the speech, a 50% discount was announced on the tuition fees of the registered students of the new school for the current year, with the cooperation of the Church, under the conditions of the difficult financial situation.
Mrs Lynn Madanat, General Director of the Patriarchate Schools in Jordan, said that: “you are in the place, which has its roots in the land which is ancient in its originality and special in its mission; and why not; it is the very land which parents have given to their children for education”, emphasizing how right thinking, right planning and hard work have led you to the present and blessed day.
And she added: All of us, the school administrators, together with the parents, are partners in this great trust and responsibility towards the children of our homeland, Jordan.
Mr Sami Halasa said in his address:
“I am in a happy position to be among you today and in this place, in the Al-Rawda area, from which I have fond childhood memories with my grandfather, Salama Al-Halasa, who created the first agricultural project in his northern district in Karak province in 1957, and he was one of the first to plant the blessed olive tree here. Twenty years ago, my blessed Father together with my uncle, to whom I wish many years, donated a five-acre plot of land, the plot containing the graves of my grandfather and great-grandmother, to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem for educational purposes, believing in the importance of education for society and future generations, in order to create a competent society, which will be based on respect and education”.
It should be noted that in the new school, the first three classes of the primary school were opened, apart from the kindergarten, and the project continues to implement the remaining classes up to secondary education.
THE NEW ARCHBISHOP OF THE SYRIAN CHURCH IN JERUSALEM VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE
On Tuesday, August 17/30, 2022, the new Archbishop of the Syriac Church in Jerusalem, His Eminence Jack Yacubvisited the Patriarchate, with a small escort of his clergy.
The new Archbishop Reverend Jack Yacub was welcomed by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos after the Geronda Chief Secretary His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina and other Hagiotaphite Fathers.
According to the Status Quo, the new Archbishop visited the first among the local Churches of Jerusalem, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, upon assuming his temporary duties as Archbishop of the Syrian Church.
In the context of this visit, he discussed with His Beatitude issues of the pilgrimage Status Quo and issues concerning the situation of Christians in Jerusalem, Jordan, Syria and Iraq and ways of helping and supporting them.
On this visit, His Beatitude offered the new Archbishop of Syria a silver painting of Jerusalem and an icon of the Mother of God and of the Sacred Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre.
THE FEAST OF THE DORMITION OF THE THEOTOKOS AT THE PATRIARCHATE
On Sunday, August 15/28, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, that is, of her Ascension into heaven by her Son, who from His right-hand remains in perpetuity for the sake of the Church and of all humanity, always reaching ” of all those who are in harsh circumstances, in sorrow and in need”.
This feat was celebrated in the Gethsemane Church of the Dormition and in the Theotokos Tomb with a Divine Liturgy.
This Liturgy was presided over by the H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with the co-celebration of their Eminences, Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, Metropolitan Timotheos of Bosra, the Archbishops, Aristarchos of Constantina and Makarios of Katar, the ministering Priests of the shrine, Archimandrites Meletios and Dionysios, Arabic-speaking Elders and priests of other Orthodox Churches, of the Patriarchate of Moscow and Romania. The chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon and a visiting Byzantine choir from Greece, under Mr Ioannis Plevritis. The Liturgy was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and a large congregation of faithful Christians, coming from the occupied territories and pilgrims from Greece, Cyprus, Romania and foreign countries.
Before the Holy Communion H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos delivered the following Sermon:
“The Most High hath hallowed His tabernacle” (Psalm 45,5). “The mountain of God is a butter mountain, a curdled mountain, this is the mountain wherein God is pleased to dwell”, (Psalm 67, 16-17), exclaims the praiser of the blessed Theotokos Saint John of Damascus, invoking the psalmist.
Beloved brothers in Christ,
Reverend Christians and pilgrims,
We, as the other Apostles, gathered here, in the village of Gethsemane, to honour the memory of the venerable metastasis of our most glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary, but also to venerate her Sacred Tomb.
“How the source of life is transferred to life, passing through death! How she who in her birth overcame the limits of nature now submits to its laws and submits to death the immortal body. For this [the body] must lay off mortality and put on incorruptibility, because the Lord [the sovereign] of nature did not refuse to submit to death. He perishes according to the flesh and with death He abolishes death and with corruption, He grants us incorruptibility and makes His death the source of the Resurrection”, St. John of Damascus exclaims with admiration.
Indeed, the Virgin Mary was shown to be the source, that is, the Mother of life, and Life, in this case, is Christ according to his word: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), “I give thee life eternal” (John 10:28). And according to the testimony of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, he who is united by faith to the Son of God and has Him as his own, has the true and eternal life. “He who has the Son has life” (John 5:12). How much more “has the life of the eternally gracious and blessed in women Mary (Lk. 1,25), from whose pure blood the Son of God became incarnate through the Holy Spirit and her Son.
Today the Holy Church of Christ solemnly celebrates a paradoxical miracle in Gethsemane where “the source of life”, according to the hymn, “is placed in a monument, and the tomb becomes a stairway to heaven”. Today the Theotokos and Mother of God, the exalted throne of the Most High moved from earth to heaven. “For through her the salvation of all mortals hath come. We have not the strength to look upon her, and it is not possible to render her worthy honour” (Glory of Vespers, grave tone). “Today she committeth her soul full of light, not the immaculate hands of Him that was incarnate of her without seed” (Entreaty, both now).
In other words, the Immaculate Virgin Mary is also the “living after death” and this is because her death was, on the one hand, a life-giving death, on the other hand, it introduced her to the glory and life indeed of her Only Begotten Son, ” He who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34), according to the divine Paul. That is why she saves through her Son,the faithful people of God, as her hymnographer SaintCosmas, says: “The bounds of nature are overcome in thee, O immaculate Virgin: for thy childbirth is virginal, and thy death is the espousal of life. O thou who after childbirth art virgin, and who after death art living, do thou, O Theotokos, ever save thine inheritance” (Katavasiae, Ode 9).
We, who honour her venerable Dormition, beseech the Ever-Virgin Mother of God, who has saved the human race torn from the ancestral decision [=sin], to intercede with her Son and God, the Lord and our Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our souls. Amen. Many Happy returns!”
Many of the faithful received Holy Communion.
After the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Hellenoupolis hosted a reception treat in the hegoumeneion with fruit and refreshments.
In honour of the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Divine Liturgies were held in the celebratory town of Abboud, by His Eminence Archbishop Theodosios of Sebasteia and in Ain Arik, by His Eminence Archbishop Philoumenos of Pella.
THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD AT THE PATRIARCHATE
On Friday, August 6 / 19, 2022, the Despotic feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord was celebrated at the Patriarchate. During this holiday, the Church remembers that our Lord Jesus Christ before His passion took three of the pre-qualified disciples, Peter and James and John, and they went up to Tabor, where He was transfigured before them.
There, He hid His human nature for a little while and revealed to the disciples His divine nature in its brilliance, shining more than the sun and His clothes were now white as snow and was seen with the prophets Moses and Elias, conversing with them about His passion, which would happen in Jerusalem in the near future. Then a bright cloud overshadowed them and yet the voice of the Father was heard “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am blessed, you are listening to Him” and Peter asked Him to build three tents for them to stay there, (Matt. 17, 1-5). The Lord revealed this vision, showing the glory of His Resurrection, to strengthen His disciples during the time of passion and to show the original beauty of man before the fall, the lost and able to be regained by men in Him. After this, the Lord took His disciples and came down from the Mount.
This event was celebrated on Mount Tabor with an outdoor All-night Vigil, presided over by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos. Concelebrating with Him were their Eminences, the Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Bishop Sergius of Estonia of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archimandrite Parthenios, Archimandrite Alexander from the Russian MISSIA in Jerusalem, many visiting Priests from the Patriarchates of Moscow and Romania, many Priests from the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Hegoumen of Acre Archimandrite Philotheos and the choir established by him as a large congregation of faithful Christians attended the service.
Before the Holy Communion, His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:
“Being perfect God, Thou becamest perfect mortal, mingling manhood with the entire Godhead in Thine own hypostasis, which Moses and Elias saw in its two natures on Mount Tabor”, Saint John Damascene proclaims (Minaion, Ode 3, Canon 2, Troparion 3).
Beloved brethren in Christ,
Noble Christians and pilgrims
Today the Holy Church of Christ most joyfully celebrates the commemoration of the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, that is why we also, both the clergy and the people came to this holy place of Mount Tabor, to exclaim along with the Apostles; thou art blessed the God of our Fathers.
“What a great and terrible spectacle is seen today! The visible sun shone down from the heaven, but from the earth, the incomparable spiritual Sun of Righteousness shone out like lightning upon Mount Tabor” (Minaion, Ode 6, Canon 2, Troparion 1), Saint John Damascene says, marvelling at the event of the Transfiguration of our Saviour Christ. Indeed, “now the unheard-of is heard; for the Son, Who without father came from the Virgin, is gloriously testified by the Father’s voice to be God and man, the same unto the ages” (Ode 7, Canon 2, Troparion 3).
Because Christ spoke many times to His Disciples about His Passion on the Cross, His death and the three-day burial, and about His glorious Resurrection, as well as about the martyrdom which His Disciples would face at the end of their lives; and because He wanted to show them what exactly is His future glory, Who is “the beloved Son of God the Father” (cf. Matt. 17:5), He took with Him “Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him…, and a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face and were sore afraid” (Matt. 17:1-6).
Interpreting these Gospel words, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says: “We say that the Transfiguration of Christ happened without casting off the human form of His body, but with the cladding of some luminous glory, which transformed the colour of the unworthy form of the flesh to an inner appearance, just like Saint Paul says: “It [the body] is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (1 Cor. 15:43). Therefore, the body is naked flesh, not completely covered neither with glory, nor with natural brilliance, but it has simplicity and lack of divine glory along with infirmity. At the time of the resurrection, there will be a complete change of glory according to the divine nature, and not a change of form. Because it is then that it will be luminous with the cloak of the divine glory: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).
Noteworthy of today’s feast is the fact that “He Who Is, today was transfigured upon Mount Tabor before the disciples, Having taken on the nature of man, He showed in Himself the original beauty of its image” according to the hymnographer (Great Vespers, Aposticha 1). In other words, our Saviour Jesus Christ revealed to His disciples the unspeakable greatness of His divinity, which is the uncreated light, as the Evangelists narrate: “And [Jesus] was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). Interpreting this phrase from the Gospel, the connoisseur of the divine illumination of the uncreated light, Saint Gregory Palamas, says: “But what is this cloud, and how did it overshadow them, while it was so luminous? Could it be the uncreated light, in which God dwells, the light that He is clothed upon like a garment? Because it is said: “He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies” (Psalm 18:11). And as the Apostle says, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:16). Therefore, here, both light and darkness are one and the same, the light that overshadows due to its extreme brilliance”.
Of this very divine luminous power of the working of the unapproachable and uncreated light of the Triune Divinity did the Prophets and Apostles who were present on Mount Tabor become communicants and seers, and along with them all the righteous and the Saints of the Church of Christ.
Let us pray then, my dear brethren, to our God and Saviour Christ, Who was transfigured on this Mount, that the light of His face may also shine upon us and we may be deemed worthy of the vision of His unapproachable glory. And let us say along with the hymnographer: “O changeless Light of the Light of Thine unbegotten Begetter, today, O Word, have we now seen in Thy Light’s manifestation the Father and Holy Spirit as Light on Tabor, guiding with light all creation” (Exapostilarion). Amen! Many Happy Returns!”
Likewise, a morning Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Nazareth Kyriakos in this holy Church, fully consecrated by the rector Archimandrite Hilarion, who also hosted a meal at lunchtime.
This event was also celebrated in the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ramallah, presided over by the Reverend Archbishop Philoumenos of Pella, under the hospitality of the active Hegoumen Archimandrite Galaktion and the participation of a large congregation who prayed in contrition.
It was also celebrated at the Tomb of the Theotokos in Gethsemane, presided over by His Eminence, Archbishop Theodosios Sebastia, under the hospitality of His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Hellenoupolis and attended by a large congregation of monks, nuns and pilgrims.
THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE OF CYPRUS VISITED THE PATRIARCHATE
At midday on Wednesday, July 28 / August 10, 2022, the Minister of Defence of Cyprus, Mr Charalambos Petridis, visited the Patriarchate, accompanied by the Ambassador of Cyprus to Israel, Mrs Theodora Konstantinidou, and by colleagues from his office, Andreas Iliadis, Andreas Markou, Konstantinos Konstantinou, Dim. Dimitriou, Michael Papastavrou.
The Minister was warmly received by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers, saying that he is particularly happy about the visit, that the Patriarchate is inextricably linked by close relations with Cyprus, which he considers an integral part of our nation, and that he follows the developments in Cyprus with lively interest. The Exarchy of the Holy Sepulchre in Cyprus is a testimony of these relations.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is a small Church, which is raised by the crown of Pilgrimages, the Holy Sepulchre, ensuring the unity of the Churches. The struggle of the Patriarchate is the preservation of the religious status of the city of Jerusalem. The Patriarchate carries out pilgrimage, pastoral and peacemaking work.
On this visit, the Minister offered His Beatitude the emblem of the Ministry of Defense, His Beatitude offered him an icon of Jerusalem in a silver plate, an icon of the Sacred Edicule and the book of the History of the Church of Jerusalem by Chrysostomos Papadopoulos.
After giving thanks, the Minister departed to venerate the Holy Sepulchre.
THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE NEW HOZEVITE
On Tuesday, July 28/August 10, 2022, the memory of Saint John the New Hozevite, from Romania, was celebrated in the Holy Monastery of his repentance, of Saint George and John the Hosevites.
Saint John was added to the Saints of the Church of Jerusalem by its Synodal decision and by a special canonization ceremony in the Holy Monastery of Hozeva on January 18th / 31st of the year 2016, designating July 28th as the day of his commemoration.
This year, the commemoration of Saint John was celebrated with an All-night Vigil, which was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with the co-celebration of His Eminence, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, the Archimandrites John and Abraham from the Patriarchate of Romania, the Hieromonk of the Monastery, Archimandrite Chrysogonos, and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by the Monks of the Brotherhood.
Before the Holy Communion, H.H.B. delivered the following Sermon:
“Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart” (Psalm 97:11), the psalmist proclaims.
Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,
The full of the divine grace memory of our Holy Father John the New Hozevite has gathered us all in this Holy Monastery, to glorify in Eucharist the One who has glorified His Saint, according to Saint Paul’s words: “whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans, 8:30). Inspired by the sacred desire for the desert life, our Father John left his homeland Romania and dwelt in the desert of the River Jordan, where the hermitages of the Monastery of Saint George the Hozevite are. “I”, Saint John says, “did not want high positions, nor did I desire wealth. I always had only the desire for the desert inside me like a flame”.
This unquenchable flame of his desire was kindled by David’s words: “Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:123-124). In other words, Saint John fled to the desert seeking his salvation, both through strict asceticism and through the study of God’s law, that is, the Holy Scriptures, invoking the Apostle Paul saying: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, 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” (Phil. 3:8-11).
Our holy John succeeded in his fierce desire, to win Christ, but also to know the power of His Resurrection. This fact is also demonstrated by his Holy and Incorruptible relic before our eyes, as well as by the medicinal fragrance emanating from this. In addition, this fact, namely, the incorruptibility and sanctity of the relics of our Holy Father John, is an answer to the prayer of the psalmist who says: “Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation” (Psalm 85:7).
The chosen servant of God John, through his ascetic struggle in the desert but also through his preaching in written word, emerged as the Holy Apostles, a sincere and perfect worker of the Gospel of Christ. We say this because our Divine Father through us men and specifically through Saint John manifests the fragrance of the power of his knowledge in every place, as the Divine Paul preaches saying: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).
Indeed, my beloved brothers, this holy place of Hozeva, which has revealed the illustrious multitude of holy and righteous ascetics and spirit-bearing Fathers, became a place, where the Son and Word of God and Son of the Ever-Virgin and most blessed Theotokos Mary, our Lord Jesus Christ reveals “the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).
Therefore, we who honour the commemoration of His Saint, cry aloud with Saint Paul: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).
Let us beseech God, who works all things for all” (Cf. 1 Cor. 12:6), so that our Lord Christ, the true God, Who is risen from the dead, through the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos and of the today celebrated Our Holy Father John the New Hozevite, may direct our hearts to the love of God and to the obedience of Christ (Cf. 2 Thess. 3,5) and to the communion of His glory. Amen. Many happy returns”.
Welcoming H.H.B., the Hegoumen and renovator of the Monastery, Archimandrite Constantinos addressed the Patriarch as follows:
“Your Beatitude, Father and Master, with Your Holy Entourage,
We celebrate once again the memory of Saint John the New Hozevite, whose incorrupt relic is treasured in the Holy Monastery of Hozeva, a refuge and comfort for all of us.
The times we live in are harsh and the need for inspiration and spiritual prototypes is imperative. Such a prototype is Saint John the New Hozevite, who, throughout his life was distinguished by the founding virtue of the Monks; the Humility that raises up high!
And while processing so many virtues, he never boasted about them, according to Chrysostom’s words: “This is humility, when one has the chance to boast, he brings himself down, and humbles himself, and finds balance” (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on Genesis, Vol. 92, p. 167,29).
Also, applying to himself the phrase, “let us not believe ourselves to be superior, but consider all people superior to us” (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on Genesis, Vol. 92, p.167,24), he found the precious Pearl, our Lord Jesus Christ!
The aforementioned facts are clearly displayed in the Saint’s letter of some Monk of Mount Athos in 1957, and reveal his character. He wrote among other things:
“I received your fraternal letter, but my situation did not allow me to answer you… I beg you to forgive me because, in addition to my illness, my carelessness contributed to this!… But I wonder how from the heights of the spiritual mountains you descended so low, as to my poverty, to benefit! I am poor and penniless, brother! I have spent my whole life in vain!… However, for the effort and willingness you have, I will write to you what I always say to myself… First, sell what you have, sacrifice whatever ability (you think you have) and erase everything you know except our holy Faith! And buy the field that has the treasure in it! The “field”, my brother, is the pure heart like a baby, the lack of malice and the simplicity of the Lord. Entrench it well and then dig there continuously with the Spirit Knife. If the soil is hard, wet it regularly with the water of tears and sweat so that it softens! And then the treasure will be seen. The prayer of the heart! Be careful not to bring it to the surface, because it disappears! May your mind only be nourished, brightened and secretly elevated where your soul desires!… Forgive me, brother, and help me with your holy prayer, because I am very weak, mentally and physically”.
Your Beatitude, Father and Master,
Pray that, through the intercessions of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos of Hozeva, and those of Saint John the New, whom we honour today, we may experience the humility that raises up high, and be deemed worthy of the endless joy of Paradise, always by the prayers of Your Beatitude, Amen!”
Fr. Konstantinos submitted to the website of the Patriarchate the following detailed biography of the Saint, supplementing the text of his canonization, and posted there for those interested to read it:
and benefit from it, which took place on January 18th / 31st of the year 2016:
“Biography of Saint John the New Hozevite
Elias Iakov (passport name) was born in the village of Horondistea, in Botosani county, Romania, in 1913 to Maximus and Ekaterini. Due to the fact that he was orphaned by both parents, he was raised until the age of 11 by his pious grandmother Maria, who instilled in the child’s soul the Divine Teachings. After she slept in the Lord, he passed into the guardianship of an uncle and lived a hard childhood in the midst of contempt and deprivation, but with hope firmly oriented to the Lord Jesus, Whom he actually saw with his own eyes on Easter 1927, when he was crying inconsolably at the grave of his parents. The Lord said to him in a sweet voice:
“Don’t cry my child and don’t be sad, because yes, I am with you. Christ is Risen!”
Studious and intelligent, after seven years of studies – in conditions of incredible poverty – in 1932 he graduated from the Lyceum with honours. Between the two options: continuing studies in Theology, or joining the Monastic order, the holy desire of Monasticism, following a Divine Prompting, prevailed. The Grace of God guided his steps in 1933 to Neamts Monastery, where he became a monk in 1936, and was given the name Ioannis. An ardent desire to worship the Holy and Life-giving Tomb, led him the same year to Jerusalem, where with the blessing of the blessed Patriarch of Jerusalem, Damianos, he served as a monk in the Lavra of Saint Savva for ten years. A model of a subordinate, he gave himself up to monastic striving and after a blessing, he lived for seven years (1947-1952) in the Romanian Hermitage of the Holy Forerunner in Jordan, under particularly adverse living conditions.
Based on his ordination letter preserved in the Archives of the Holy Monastery of Hozeva, his transfer to the river Jordan was preceded by his ordination as Deacon and Priest. Archimandrite Victorinos, head of the Romanian Representation in Jerusalem, had requested his ordination to the Romanian Patriarch Nikodimos. He, in turn, put the request to the Patriarch of Jerusalem Timotheus I, who accepted it. The first ordination was held on April 21, 1947, in the Holy and Life-giving Tomb of the Lord by His Eminence Archbishop Panteleimon of Naples and the second on April 28, 1947 by the His Eminence Archbishop Epiphanios of Philadelphia.
Expelled from the Romanian Monastery of the river Jordan, in 1952, as a nightingale that loves the desert, he settled with his co-ascetic Ioannikios (also of Romanian origin) in the Lavra of Hozeva for one year and six months. Then, seeking complete isolation to indulge in even higher spiritual struggles, he went alone to the hermitage of Saint Anne, which belongs to Hozeva. Only “the Lord saw” what he experienced and what experiences the Saint lived there, “alone with God only”. Every Sunday he went to the Coenobium to participate in the Divine Liturgy and to receive the absolutely necessary food, which the love of the Hozevite Fathers offered him. He himself diligently hid his ascetic struggles, choosing the way of life of the ancient Abbas, the “surreptitious living”. An excellent connoisseur of Greek, immersed in the Patristic texts, he translated a sufficient number of divinely inspired works into Romanian (they were published for the first time in 1968) and indeed the Salutations of the Most Holy Theotokos. Besides possessing a poetic talent, he left a rich collection of poems, of an exceptional height of meaning, the largest part of which has been translated into Greek.
On August 5, 1960, he slept in the Lord at the age of only 47 years, due to his failing health. His departure, which he had foreseen, was one befitting the righteous; Just a few minutes after the Holy Communion, as described by an eyewitness, the already blessed Father Basilios Vakras.
In October 1979, after miraculous signs, his relics was found incorrupt by the Hegoumen of the Hozeva Monastery, blessed Archimandrite Amfilochios. On the 28th of July 1980, with the holy Patriarchal blessing of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Benedictus, his incorrupt relics was transferred from the Skete to the Holy Monastery, where it is kept today in the Catholicon Church, as a precious treasure and the source of many miracles! Glory and wealth of the Hozevite Fathers, of the Hagiotaphite Fathers in general, but also of the entire Church in service!
On Sunday, January 18/31, 2016, his canonization was announced in a solemn Divine Liturgy, which was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.
His commemoration is celebrated on July 28th/August 10th, the day of the translation of his holy relics”.
The Divine Liturgy was followed by a monastic meal.
A GROUP OF THE GREEK NAVY VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE
At noon on Saturday, July 24 / August 6, 2022, a thirty-member group of the Greek Navy, i.e. the crew of the tanker “Ikaria”, visited the Patriarchate in the presence of the representative of the Greek Consulate General, Mrs Christina Zacharioudaki.
The leader of this group, Mr Georgios Manzouris, in the presence of the military entourage of the representatives of the Greek Embassy in Tel Aviv, addressed His Beatitude, saying that we have come from Tinos and Alexandria to Jerusalem, journeying in the Aegean sea and we are asking for Your prayers. We consider it a special honour that three of our family members are the Seminary School of Holy Zion students. We hope they will also join the members of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, whom we consider heroes.
His Beatitude welcomed this group saying that we welcome you with special joy, officers and students of the Greek Navy, future officers, and protectors of our homeland. Your presence is a strength for us, it strengthens our pilgrimage and pastoral work of witnessing Christ in the Holy Land, and we are grateful for this.
The Chief of the Hellenic Navy presented the emblem of the ship of the Navy with the islands of the Aegean and a scrapbook of the Navy with ships from the 2nd AD century, dedicated to the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The School of Officers offered His Beatitude the School’s album and the emblem of the School, while His Beatitude offered the Chief and the Officers and the members of this group the icon of the Theotokos of Jerusalem, the book of the History of the Church of Jerusalem by Chrysostom Papadopoulos and a Jerusalem blessing to all the members of this group.
DELEGATION OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX SCOUTS VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE
On the morning of Saturday, July 24 / August 6, 2022, a twenty-member group of representatives of the Greek Orthodox Scouts of the Joppa region and of all Israel visited the Patriarchate.
This delegation, under their leader Mr David Mansour, was warmly received by our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers, Fr Issa Mousleh. His Beatitude blessed their gymnastics, sports and social activities and underlined the importance of their connection with the Patriarchate.