METROPOLITAN PAUL OF VISHKOROND AND CHERNOBYL VISITS THE PATRIARCATE
On Tuesday, September 28/October 11, 2022, the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Vishkorod & Chernobyl and Professor of the Kyiv Lavra, Paul, accompanied by representatives of the Russian Mission to Jerusalem (MISSIA), visited the Patriarchate. This was accepted by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.
On this visit, His Eminence offered His Beatitude a set of Priestly gloves. His Beatitude honoured His Eminence with the medal of the Superior Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre for his love for the Holy Places and for his offering of gold for the gilding of the icon of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. He wished for the cessation of all hostilities and the reign of peace and recalled His visit to the Lavra of Kyiv and to the relics of its Saints and spoke about the position of the holy relics in the Orthodox Church as well as in drawing strength from the Life-giving Tomb of Christ and the Liturgy in it every day and especially from the period of the restoration of the Sacred Edicule, in 2017.
The Most Reverend Metropolitan Paul of Vishkorod & Chernobyl, thanked His Beatitude for the honour bestowed upon him and for His practical interest in the Church and the people of Ukraine.
NEW UPDATE ON THE MAINTENANCE WORKS AT THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE
On the morning of Thursday, October 6, 2022, a meeting was held in the monastery of the Franciscan Brotherhood-Custody of the Holy Land, of the representatives of the three Major Communities, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Franciscans and Armenians for the new information on the ongoing construction works in of the Rotunda and the Seven Arches of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Present from the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood were, H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, the Patriarchal Commissioner, His Eminence Metropolitan Isyhchios of Kapitolias, the Geronda Chief Secretary, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Geronda Sacristan, His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis, the Elder Dragoman Archimandrite Mattheos and the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon.
On behalf of the Franciscan Brotherhood, the Custos of the Holy Land Fr Frangiskos Paton and Fr Dobromiro and from the Armenian Brotherhood, His Eminence Sevan and the Abbot of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Archimandrite Samuel.
During this meeting, there was an update on the screen by the experts of the Sapientia University of Rome who are doing the work. The update focused on the following points:
In the situations found below the excavated ground, such as water leaks from the drainage system, in found cisterns, damage to the electrical system and the ways of repairing these damages by inserting new modern material components. The scientific and technical editing of the project was focused on the common and dedicated spaces, the places of worship and the residences within the Church. The drainage and electrical system have been completely repaired. The prospects being drawn for the future are the modernization of the electrical security system, the installation of WIFI and a modern fire-fighting security system, more accurate identification of people entering the Church for their safety, and more precise information about the pilgrims about the guided tours and worship times.
There was also talk about the moisture coming from the Coptic chapel. The technicians maintained that all these works are carried out with respect to the sanctity of the Church and the Status Quo, a fact for which the informed representatives of the Communities thanked and requested a new on-site inspection in the areas around the Rotunda and in the areas outside the Church and in consultation with the Municipality due to the possible leakage of water from the Christian Quarter into the Church.
CHAIRMAN OF THE DEMOCRATIC ALARM OF CYPRUS MR AVEROF NEOPHYTOS VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE
On the evening of Wednesday, September 15 / 29, 2022, the President of the Democratic Alert of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Averof Neophytou, visited the Patriarchate.
Mr Neophytou was warmly welcomed by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers.
In the context of this visit, there was an interesting discussion about the ancient ties of the Church of Cyprus after the Church of Jerusalem from the days of the Apostles and about the Cypriot pilgrims, who also arrived the previous day for the day of the feast of the Holy Cross, about Saint Philomenos and of the Cypriot Hagiotaphite Fathers, who have greatly contributed to the Patriarchate, regarding the property of the Patriarchate in Cyprus and regarding the Exarchate of the Holy Sepulchre in Cyprus.
His Beatitude underlined the role of the Church, as a connecting link of the unity of the Cypriot people, suffering year after year from the harsh conditions of invasions.
In particular, there was talk about the display and maintenance of the Library of the Monastery of the Holy Cross of the Patriarchate under Mr Stavros Andreou and about the friendly relations of the Patriarchate after His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus.
His Beatitude presented Mr Neophytos with a silver painting of the city of Jerusalem and an icon of the Theotokos of Jerusalem.
After giving thanks, Mr Neophytou departed to venerate the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
THE FEAST OF THE UNIVERSAL EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS AT THE PATRIARCHATE
On Tuesday, September 14/27, 2022, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was celebrated by the Patriarchate.
On this holiday, the Church has primarily the commemoration of the Lord Jesus Christ raised on the Cross for our salvation, but also the memory of the elevation of the wood of the cross, when it was found under Saint Helen and raised by the Archbishop of Jerusalem Makarios in sight and worship of the pilgrims and thousands of pilgrims for the Consecration ceremony of the Church of the Resurrection.
This world-historical event was celebrated with Vespers in the evening and with a Divine Liturgy on the morning of the feast in the Catholicon of the Church of the Resurrection.
Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy were officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos. Co-celebrants to His Beatitude for the Divine Liturgy were their Eminences; the Metropolitans Isychios of Kapitolias and Timotheos of Bosra, Panteleimon of Xanthi and Peritheorion – visiting from Greece –, Panteleimon of Maronia and Komotini, the Archbishops, Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Methodios of Tabor, Theodosios of Sebasteia, Demetrios of Lydda, Nectarios of Anthedona, Bishop Parthenios from the Church of Achrida, the Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, the ministering Priest of the Russian speaking Community of the Patriarchate in Ein Karem Archimandrite Nikolai and Ioannis from the Church of Romania and other priests from many Orthodox countries.
The chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Gotsopoulos with the Patriarchal School students. Both services were attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and a very large congregation of pilgrims.
The Divine Liturgy was followed by the exaltation of the Holy Cross according to the following formality:
From the Holy Gate of the Catholicon of the Church, His Beatitude blessed the Holy Entrance and the procession was led by H.H.B., with the participation of Archpriests, Priests and deacons, the people following in front of the Sacred Edicule on the right and through the Seven Arches it went to the chapel of Saint Helen. From there it went down to the Cave after the incense offering at the Altar of the Armenians and the Throne of Saint Helen. At the Cave of the Finding of the Sacred Wood, the exaltation of the Cross was held according to the Typikon of the Church and the apolytikion “God save thy people” was chanted three times before the placement of the Cross at the point of its finding and it was exalted at the four parts of the horizon. The Troparia of the feast were chanted and from there, the litany went out, passing through the Seven Arches, marching three times around the Holy Sepulchre, the Sacred Wood bearing on the heads of the High Priests, and concluded to the Horrendous Golgotha.
There, the Holy Cross was once again raised by His Beatitude to the four points of the horizon for the sanctification of the faithful and of the whole creation.
After the Exaltation ceremony was completed, the Holy Cross was placed on the Holy Table of Golgotha and the Bishops and the Consul General of Greece venerated it and the faithful received the flowers of the Holy Cross for their sanctification in thanksgiving and praise to God.
After the ceremony was over, the full congregation went to the Patriarchate Reception Hall, where a fasting feast was served, and His Beatitude spoke with the following address:
“The cross is a trophy for Christ; it was set on the ground once and for all and the devils are always driven away by its force. Where are the killings of idols and animals in vain? Where are the temples and the fire of unbelief? Everything was extinguished by holy blood and fell. And the cross is a powerful force, an invisible arrow, an immaterial medicine, a luscious wound, a dazzling glory” Saint John of Damascus says.
Your Excellency Consul General of Greece, Mr Evangelos Vlioras,
Dear Holy Fathers and Brothers,
Reverend Christians and pilgrims,
Today the new tabernacle, the holy Church, which our Lord Jesus Christ made “paradise intelligible” celebrates the universal exaltation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, through which the extinguishing and falling of the tree of knowledge were accomplished.
The truly universal and blessed event was celebrated by the holy Church of Jerusalem, the participation of High Priests and priests of the brother Orthodox Churches and the presence of pious pilgrims, in a thanksgiving gathering at this place, where Saint Helen found the Cross, as well as at the place where the wood of the Cross was solidified, that is, on the Horrendous Golgotha, where He was crucified.
“A trophy for Christ, the cross … was always extinguished by a holy blood and fell,” Saint John of Damascus preaches. And this, because the Son and Word of God, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name (Philip 2,6-9), according to Saint Paul.
Through His humiliation unto death, death and the cross, “Christ freed us from the law of sin and the death of corruption” (Cf. Rom. 8:2). So here is the omnipotent power, the weapon against the devil, the immaterial medicine and the astonishing glory but also the beauty of the Church, which is founded on the sacrificial and crucified blood of Christ. Because of this, the Cross of Christ is the inexhaustible source of the power of the Church.
On the Cross and through the Cross our Lord Jesus Christ defeated the devil and provided our souls with His Peace. He is “the God of love and peace” (2 Cor. 13:11). Through His blood on the Cross, Christ made peace on earth and in heaven (cf. Col. 1:20), the wise Paul preaches again.
The exaltation of the Holy and life-giving Cross, that is, of Christ, calls us, my beloved brothers, as faithful members of His body, to fight on the one hand against our personal passions and on the other hand for the restoration of the broken unity of the one Holy Catholic Church and of the Apostolic Orthodox Church, listening to the commandment of blessed Paul, “studying to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”, (Eph. 4,3)
After the hymn, we say: “Today the Cross is lifted up and all the world is sanctified. For Thou, while throned with the Father and with the All-holy Spirit, by stretching out Thy hands thereon, hast drawn the whole world to Thyself, that it might know Thee, O my Christ. Therefore, vouchsafe divine glory to them that trust Thy goodness” and grant peace in our region and in the whole world. (Matins, Exapostelaria). Many and peaceful returns. Amen.”
THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS IN SAHNEEN
On Wednesday, September 8/21, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the Nativity of our Most Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
On this feast, the Church commemorates that the Theotokos is a gift of God to her childless parents Joachim and Anna and to all humanity, because from her, the Redeemer of the world, Christ, was made flesh by the Holy Spirit.
This feast was celebrated in the Greek Orthodox Community of the city of Sahneen in Northern Israel, in the region of Acre – Ptolemais, in the magnificent and huge Holy Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos, erected by the Community with the significant financial contribution of the Patriarchate.
The feast was celebrated with a Divine Liturgy, the first in the Holy Church after the consecration ceremony, which was held by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with the co-celebration of their Eminences, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Metropolitan Hesychios of Capitolias, the Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nektarios, Archimandrites Artemios, Meletios and Marcellus, many Priests from the North Galilee district of the Patriarchate and from other regions, the Head of the Russian MISSIA in the Holy Land, Archimandrite Alexander, Fr Issa Musleh, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Dositheos. The chanting was delivered by the Acre Byzantine choir under Archimandrite Philotheos as the service was attended by the representatives of the local authorities, the Spiritual Father of Saint Savvas Lavra, Archimandrite Eudokimos, the honorary presence of Mr Samer Khouri, son of Mr Said Khouri, who have been great financial donors of the construction of this Church, the former Mayor of Bethlehem Mrs Baboon, Mr Caesar Marjieh, the religious leader of the Druze Mr Tarif, the Ambassador of Greece to Tel Aviv Mr Kyriakos Loukakis, the Ambassador of Russia, the Ambassador of Bela Russ, the Cypriot Mr Mihail who made the wooden ikonostasion, a group of pilgrims and many faithful Christians from Sahneen and other cities of Israel and Cana of Galilee.
On this very important occasion of the consecration, H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos delivered the following Sermon, which was read by Fr Issa Mousleh:
“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. (Ps. 84, 1-2).
Beloved brethren in Christ,
Reverend Christians and pilgrims,
We rend glory and thanks to the Holy Triune God, who deemed us worthy today, to celebrate the consecration of this magnificent Church in your beautiful city of Sahneen, in honour and commemoration of the Nativity of the Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, chanting along with Saint Andrew of Jerusalem: “In thee O Immaculate Maiden, is the mystery of the Trinity praised and glorified. For the Father was well pleased and the Word dwelt among us, and the Divine Spirit overshadowed thee” (Matins, Ode 6, 2nd canon, glory).
We begged this divine Spirit Who overshadowed the Virgin Mary, the living temple of God’s Word so that it would also overshadow this house of God.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), says the Lord. Nevertheless, “the place where thou standest is holy ground” (cf. Acts 7:33), namely the place of worship and gathering, where “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews 2:12, Ps. 22:23). And according to God-inspired Ezra: “”And now our God has chosen us to lead us to salvation and give us support in his sanctified place, enlighten our eyes and give life to children in the service of our passions”, (2 Esdr. 9,8). And according to our Lord Jesus Christ: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
During His incarnate Divine Providence, the Son and Word of God “hath filled all things with His light, and by His Holy Spirit, He hath renewed the whole world. For a house is founded to the Lord’s praise and glory, wherein Christ our God, for the salvation of mortals, doth consecrate and hallow the hearts of all His faithful flock” (Minaion Sept. 13, Kathisma 1 of Matins).
This glory of the Holy Triune God and the unity of faith in Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirit, let us bless and praise every day in this holy tabernacle of the glory of the Lord, of this newly built Church, established in honour of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, about whom the hymnographer Sergius of Jerusalem says: “Come all ye faithful, let us run to the Virgin. For behold, she is born who was foreordained before her conception to be the Mother of our God: the jewel of virginity, the rod of Aaron, that sprang from Jesse’s root, the preaching of the prophets, and the scion of righteous Joachim of Annal. She is born, and with her, the world is made new. She is brought forth, and the Church is arrayed with her proper majesty. She is the holy temple, the vessel of the Godhead, the virginal instrument, the royal bridechamber wherein was accomplished the wondrous mystery of the ineffable union of the natures that come together in Christ. As we worship Him, we praise the all-immaculate birth of the Virgin” (Great Vespers, Aposticha, Glory).
Behold the glory and richness of the God-human body of the Church, but also of its sanctification on earth, as the hymnographer says, “heaven is the Church, shining with many lights, appeared everywhere, illuminating the faithful; in which we cry out; establish this house, Lord.”
Indeed, the Church enlightens all believers by the power of the Holy Spirit, because as the Apostle Peter says; “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10). Moreover, in the house of God we are called to “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17) the psalmist says. And Saint Paul entreats us, “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” (Romans 12:1).
And this is so because the Church of God is a place of worship, that is, a place of a mystical converse between God and man, according to what is written in the Holy Bible, “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle” (Exodus 33:11). In other words, the house of God is a place of prayer, which according to Saint John of the Ladder, is in its quality a communion and union of man with God, and in its power, the conciliation of God, food of the soul, enlightenment of the mind, proof of hope and solution of sorrow.
On this solemn and historic day for the city of Sahneen and its inhabitants, on the occasion of receiving from the truly admirable and now consecrated house of God, erected on the initiative of the pious Rum Orthodox flock of ours, which enjoys a peaceful co-existence with its fellow-religious compatriots, we boast in Christ, and after Saint Paul: “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:2-4).
The Godly zeal and the reverence of the people of God for the Theotokos and Mother of God, through whom the earth and the heavens are joined and the natives were regenerated and from decay we were renewed and we became gods, built a temple as a house of prayer; where we receive invisibly the grace of the Holy Spirit.
We express our warm gratitude to everyone who in various ways cooperated and contributed to the achievement of this important project, especially to the local Council of the city of Sahneen and its honourable Presidents, to the blessed Mr Said Khoury and his beloved son, Samer Khoury, to our sister Church of Moscow and the charitable Russian foundations and finally to the tireless dentist Mr Magid and his family.
Let this work be for the glory of God and the praise of the city of Sahneen and its peace-loving people. “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). May it once again be the worshipful house of God, a symbol of faith, love, hope, peace, justice and security “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33), Saint Paul preaches.
Let us thank our Lord God, saying: “Christ the true light, the light that illuminates and sanctifies every man coming into the world, let the light of your face shine upon us, so that in it we may see the unattainable light; and direct our steps to the work of your commandments, by the prayers of our Most Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, whose nativity we celebrate and that of all the Saints”. Amen.
The Head of this Community, Archimandrite Fr Andrean Aleme, was awarded an honorary cross by His Beatitude.
At noon, the Community hosted a meal for His Beatitude and His entourage and many others, during which His Beatitude again spoke as follows:
“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Ps. 90:17).
Beloved brethren in Christ and Fathers,
Honourable Ladies and gentlemen,
Respected members of the Ecclesiastical Council,
Honourable Mayor and distinguished guests,
The city of Sahneen rejoices and is glad because the Lord God has enlightened the work of the hands of our pious Rum Orthodox Community. And we say this, because such works, like today’s magnificently consecrated Church, are on the one hand a jewel for the wider area of your city, on the other hand, they highlight the cultural progress of the religious communities living here peacefully and harmoniously. “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).
This magnificent Church, along with the other houses of prayer are a true testimony that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). The words emanating from God’s mouth are none other than divine love, peace, justice and mutual love and love for those who hate us, “love your enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us”, (Matthew 5:44), the Lord orders.
The Run Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the mother of the Churches but also the first religious and ecclesiastical institution, has not ceased throughout the centuries to preach and confess and promote the divine values and commands, which elevate the human being, the part that is made up of flesh and soul. The Lord says: “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16,26). For these reasons, we all greet all of you who honoured Us with your presence for this historical event of the Consecration of this house of prayer and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank the respected members of your Community for the Abrahamic hospitality they provided.
In addition, we pray that the Lord God through the prayers of the blessed Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary will overshadow and protect this city, its people and the Christian flock. Many happy returns, spiritual and fruitful. Amen”.
After the banquet, His Beatitude visited the City Hall of Sahneen.
The Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary was also celebrated in an Episcopal Divine Liturgy at the shrine of the Theotokos’ Tomb in Gethsemane, presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba under the chanting of the newly arrived students of the Patriarchal School of Zion, led by Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos.
After the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen, His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Hellenoupolis hosted a reception at the hegoumeneion.
THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS IN BEIT JALA
On Sunday, September 5th/18th 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of our Lady and Immaculate Mary in the Holy Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Beit Jala.
During this feast, the Church remembers that the Theotokos is a gift of God to her childless parents, Joachim and Anna, and to all humanity, because from her the Redeemer of the world, Christ, was made flesh by the Holy Spirit.
This feast was celebrated with a warm welcome of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos, under the abbot of Beit Jala Archimandrite Ignatios, the Priests, the Local Authorities and the Bodies of the Scouts of Beit Jala before the Divine Liturgy, which was officiated by His Beatitude. Co-celebrants of His Beatitude were their Eminences, Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias and Archbishop Methodios of Tabor, the Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, the Hegoumen of Saint George Al Khader, Archimandrite Porphyrios, the Community Priests, Fr Pavlos, Yusef and Issa. The chanting was delivered by the Community Byzantine Choir in the presence of the entire congregation of Beit Jala and the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras.
Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:
“May the Lord give you a sign; behold, the Virgin will bear and bear a son, and you shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14), exclaims the prophet Isaiah.
Beloved brethren in Christ,
The grace of the Holy Spirit brought us all to blessed by the Lord city of yours so that after the holy and righteous Godfathers Joachim and Anne we celebrate the beginning of our salvation, the only Theotokos and Mother of God.
Today we also celebrate the pure Virgin who sprang from the root of Jesse, the source of Life, that is, the Mother of the Son and Word of our Lord God, Jesus Christ, as the hymn of the Church says “Today God, Who resteth upon the noetic thrones, hath made ready for Himself a holy throne upon the earth. He that established the heavens in wisdom, hath prepared a living Heaven in His love for man. For from a barren root He hath made a life-bearing branch to spring froth for us, even His Mother: O God of wonders and hope of the hopeless, O Lord, glory to Thee” (Great Vespers, Sticheron 1).
The sign that Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would give you is none other than the holy throne, which God prepared for Himself on earth, the Virgin Mary. This is the sign by which the Lord made His Saviour known before the nations; He revealed His righteousness according to the psalmist. His Saviour is the incarnate One from the pure blood of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, God the Word our Lord Jesus Christ, whose saving work concerns the whole human race according to the testimony of the Evangelist Luke “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God “, (Luke 3,6/ Is. 40,5).
Through the birth of the Virgin Mary, the renewal of the world came with her. And this is because in this virgin Mary the regeneration of the old Adam and the recalling of Eve were born. This was the source of incorruption and the release of decay, through which we were made gods and redeemed from death according to the hymn. Through the Virgin, in other words, the lifting of the curse of the first-born and the giving of the blessing, as this is expressed by the hymn saying: “Thy Nativity O Theotokos, hath proclaimed joy to the whole world; for from thee hath dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, annulling the course and bestowing the blessing, abolishing death and granting us life everlasting” (Apolytikion).
Eternal life was given to us humans through the Theotokos, who, according to Saint John of Damascus, the Theotokos is the one who binds people tightly to God and the one with whom the heavens and the earth were united, returning the things of men to God and the things of God to man.
Today we celebrate a paradox, indeed a miracle, glorifying and praising God the Father, Who revealed to you a hidden mystery of eternal times, (Cf. Rom. 16:25), that is, the predestined Mother of God for our salvation. The paradox of this mystery is not understood “in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the evidence of the Spirit and power, so that your faith is not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2, 4-5), Saint Paul preaches. According to Saint John of Damascus: “By faith, we understand that all things have been made from nothing into being by the power of God; and all things divine and human we accomplish by faith. And faith is consent without much examination”. This means that the knowledge of God or the knowledge of divine things is not scientific knowledge, which is acquired through research and research methods; it is a gift and at the same time an experience and the fruit of faith. This is why the psalmist begs, saying: ” Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”(Ps. 51:12); interpreting David’s word, Hesychius says: “Right spirit is the Spirit of God and not the vital spirit in you. [Prophet David] wants this Spirit of God to be initiated in the most vital parts inside him. For Spirit is the true salvation, namely Christ. ” All creation blesses the virgin born of the barren Anne, and especially the holy Church of Christ because she (the virgin) fulfilled the promise given to the prophets (Acts 13:32) “Lord my God, I will praise you; I will praise your name because you have done wonderful things, an ancient true will”, (Isaiah 25,1), exclaims the prophet Isaiah.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria says that our Saviour wanted to give those who knew Him extraordinary grace, that is, the grace to be with Him and see His glory because He says ” for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17,24), thus showing that the power of the mystery concerning the Saviour is the most ancient, and the way of our salvation, which was accomplished through his mediation, was known in advance, [foreseen by God the Father]. Especially those who know themselves are granted the grace that the Saviour willed from his conscience and they see his glory: “loved He says before the foundation of the world”, its antiquity, however, shows the power of the mystery in itself, and that the way, accomplished through Christ’s mediation, remains foreknown to the God and Father of our salvation”.
Of this way, indeed of our salvation, accomplished through the mediation of Christ, a humble subject and accomplice was the Virgin, born of the righteous Joachim and Anna. For we too, after the hymn, cry out and say: “Thou art become a golden censer, for the Fire dwelt in thy womb, even the Word by the Holy Spirit; and He is seen in man’s form, O pure Birth-giver of God” (Ode 6, 2nd Canon, Both now). The one and only who introduced Christ into the world for the salvation of our souls”. Amen. Many happy returns”.
This was followed by a litany of the Holy Icon, a treat in the event hall of the Church and a meal for the Patriarchal Entourage under the Community, where once again His Beatitude spoke as follows:
“Thy Nativity O Theotokos, hath proclaimed joy to the whole world; for from thee hath dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, annulling the course and bestowing the blessing, abolishing death and granting us life everlasting” (Apolytikion).
Beloved brothers in Christ, Your Excellency Mr President and respected members of the Ecclesiastical Council and other holy institutions,
Today, we enjoyed the sacrament of the divine and bloodless sacrifice, that is, the Holy Eucharist the proclaimed joy to all the world by the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary.
The Theotokos and Mother of God the Word and of our Saviour Christ, but also Mother of the Church of Christ was destined and chosen by God the Father before the foundation of the world to give us this joy in the Holy Spirit.
Our holy Church of Christ, being the Body of Christ is the vine and we are its branches, as the Lord says: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned”(John 15,5-6).
Indeed, my beloved brothers, we who are clothed with Christ in holy baptism, those who receive the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, have become branches of the true vine, that is, of Christ. For we are called to abide in Him. The Lord says, ” He that abideth in me, and I in him ” (John 15:5).
We say this in order to emphasize that the Church of Christ, and especially the Church of Jerusalem, is the protection and safe haven of those who praise and magnify the Mother of God, by whom the Sun of righteousness rose, our Saviour Christ, but also the physician of souls and bodies; So along with Saint John of Damascus we say to the Virgin Mary:
“Rejoice thou who are full of grace the most joyous name and thing of all joy, from whom Christ was born into the world, unrepeatable joy, the hospital (=healer) of Adam’s sorrow. Many and blessed returns. Amen.
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.