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THE FEAST OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AT THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY OF THE RUSSIAN MISSIA

On Monday, May 31/ June 13 2022, the feast of the Holy Spirit was celebrated at the Church of the Holy Trinity of the Russian MISSIA of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is located in the New City of Jerusalem not far away from New Gate.

In this marvellous Church, the Divine Liturgy was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, along with their Eminences, the Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos, the Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, the Head of the Russian MISSIA Archimandrite Alexander, the Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by the Church choir of the Nuns who serve at this Church, in the presence of a noble congregation of Russian and Arab-speaking faithful Christians.

His Beatitude delivered the following sermon to this congregation:

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) the Lord said to His Disciples.

Your Grace, Archimandrite Alexander, Representative in Jerusalem of H.H. Beatitude to the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Cyril,

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The Grace of the Comforter Spirit has gathered us all in the Holy Church in Jerusalem of the Ecclesiastical MISSIA of the brotherly Church of Russia, to co-celebrate in Eucharist the All-holy and life-giving and Almighty Spirit, the One Person of the Triune God, Who is of one essence and glory with the Father and the Son.

According to Saint Gregory the Theologian, today “we celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit, and the time appointed for the promise and the fulfilment of hope. How great is the mystery! It is both exceeding great and most venerable” (Vespers, Sticheron 1).

Indeed, the fulfilment of the disciples by the Holy Spirit when they were gathered in the Upper Room is a great and most respected mystery (Acts 2:1-2). And this, on the one hand, because the Disciples “were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4), and on the other, because this Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who holds together the whole institution of the Church. According to the Lord’s word, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). And this “Holy Spirit hath ever been and is and shall be, neither beginning nor ending; but He is ever ranked and numbered together with the Father and the Son” Saint Gregory theologises (Sunday of Pentecost, Matins, Praises, Troparion 2).

According to Saint Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Referring to the various spiritual gifts, the wise Paul says: “All these [gifts] worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:11-13).

This one body in which we have been baptized, my dear brethren, is no other than the body of the Church, namely the body of Christ, in which we have been grafted through the gift and the communion of the Holy Spirit and we have put on the new man (ref. Col. 3:10). That is why Saint Cyril of Alexandria says regarding the Lord’s word “it is better for you that I may go” (ref. John): “it is necessary for us to become communicants and partakers of the divine nature of the Word, or rather, to leave our own life and be transformed into another in newness of life which will be pleasing to God. However, this was impossible for us in any other way, but with the communion and participation in the Holy Spirit. And the most appropriate time for the sending down of the Holy Spirit to us was the time after the departure of our Saviour Christ”.

The power of the Holy Spirit is the one which holds together the whole institution of the Church as the hymnographer says: “The Holy Spirit provideth all things; He gushed forth prophesy; He perfecteth the priesthood; he hath taught wisdom to the illiterate. He hath shown forth the fishermen as theologians. He holdeth together the whole institution of the Church” (Vespers, Sticheron 3).

Indeed, the Holy Spirit went down on the Apostles and made their hearts pure and installed in their deepest soul “a right spirit” which is the Holy Spirit, as Isychios interprets it. According to Origen, “at first the heart is made pure and immediately afterwards the Spirit is installed in the depths”. As the psalmist says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

This right spirit is no other than the Spirit in unity and peace in Christ. This is the Spirit that sustains the unity among the faithful and the body of the Church according to Saint Paul’s advice: “I, therefore, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:1-4). Likewise, Saint Ignatios the God-bearer urges the Christians of Philadelphia; “love unity, abstain from divisions; become imitators of Christ, as He became an imitator of His Father”.

It is noteworthy also, that by the power of the Holy Spirit the Apostles spoke of the marvels of God in tongues, the languages of all the nations that lived in Jerusalem on the great day of Pentecost (ref. Acts 2:1-11).

The local Churches are called to project these wonders of God, namely “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), as we live in a world of confusion and lawlessness and apostasy, paying heed to the hymnographer’s voice: “of old the tongues were confounded because of the audacity in the building of the tower, but now the tongues are made wise for the sake of the glory of Divine knowledge. There, God condemned the impious because of their offence; and here, Christ hath enlightened the fishermen by the Spirit. At that time the confusion of tongues was wrought for punishment, but now the concord of tongues hath been inaugurated for the salvation of our souls” (Pentecost Vespers, Aposticha, Glory).

Let us, my dear brethren, as “children of the Church, full of light”, entreat the Theotokos “who lent flesh to the Word”, that by her intercessions the Spirit of Truth may dwell in us. And let us say along with the hymnographer: “Draw nigh unto us, draw nigh, Thou Who art everywhere present, and even as Thou art ever with Thine Apostles, so do Thou also unite to Thyself us who long for Thee, O Compassionate One, that being united with Thee, we may praise and glorify Thine All-holy Spirit” (Oikos). Amen. Many happy returns”.

The Divine Liturgy was followed by a meal at the hotel Sergei near the MISSIA. His Beatitude delivered the following address there:

“Dear Father Alexander,

Mr Ambassador,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Beloved Monastics,

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Today we have been blessed to celebrate once again the Divine Liturgy on the Monday of the Holy Spirit in this great church dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

As we have sung joyfully today:

When the Most High came down and confounded tongues of men,

He divined the nations.

When he dispensed the tongues of fire, he called all to unity,

And with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.

(Kontakion of the Feast)

So we rejoice in the unity to which we have been called in our beloved Orthodox Church.

We come to this feast today with the words of the Psalmist in our hearts:

Create in me a clean heart O God,

And put a new and right spirit within me.

(Ps. 50[51]:10)

We are commanded to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, precisely because there is one body and one Spirit (Eph. 4:30.

As we gather here, we do so in the full realization of the challenges that we face in our world and in our Church. These challenges should come as no surprise to us because even in the scriptures we are given warnings.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke, we read that there will be on the earth distress among nations, violence, fear and distress of every kind (cf. Luke 20:20-28). Nor is the Church safe from such dangers, as Saint Paul warns that there should be no divisions (the Greek word is “schisms” ) within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25).

We know full well that the truth is also of what Saint Paul goes on to say: If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together (1 Cor. 12:26).

But on this joyous celebration of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded of the freedom that is the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Church: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17). This is the freedom that is the guarantee of our peace and our unity, a freedom that is not just for the Church, but for all mankind. As the hymnographer reminds us at Pentecost the Most High called all into unity.

In our world today, people of religious faith, and especially Christians, are in many places under pressure. Globalization threatens the uniqueness of cultures, societies, and religious traditions. The Church of Jerusalem, as the Mother of all the Churches, gives her life for the unity of the Church, and down the ages, the Patriarchate has been the guardian and the guarantee of the Christian values of the Scriptures and the Holy Tradition. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ longed to gather the children of Jerusalem together as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, so the Church of Jerusalem has gathered her children for protection and succour (cf. Matt. 23:37).

At the first Pentecost, the people heard the disciples speak to them of the great deeds of God (Acts 2:11). This is the role of the mission of the Church of Jerusalem, to be a witness of the great deeds of God, and to embody in our life the freedom and the unity that are God’s gifts to the Church and to the human family.

May God grant us all the Heavenly Comforter, the Spirit of truth, the treasury blessings which fill all things, so that we may reflect more clearly the freedom and unity to which we are called.

Thank you”.

From Secretariat-General

 




HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM CELEBRATES THE DIVINE LITURGY AT THE COMMUNITY TUR’AN OF GALILEE

On Sunday, May 23/ June 5, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the Feast of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in Nice, under the order of Constantine the Great, where they refuted Arius and established the doctrine of the One Essence of the Son with the Father as read in the Creed.

This feast was celebrated in all the Churches of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate and at the Holy Church of Saint George the Trophy Bearer in the Community Tur’an of Galilee, near the town of Cana. The Liturgy was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with the co-celebration of their Eminences, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Dean Priest of the Community Fr Spyridon, Fr Simeon and other Arab-speaking and Russian Priests. The chanting was delivered by Archimandrite Artemios, the Hegoumen of Haifa, in Greek and the parish choir in Arabic. The Liturgy was attended by the Orthodox congregation of this parish which the Hagiotaphite Archimandrites Timotheos and Hilarion served in the past.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon in Greek and in Arabic and offered an icon to be kept in the Church:

“Making careful inquiry, with the Divine Spirit’s guidance, and joining together all knowledge of things spiritual, as the scribes of God, the august Fathers wrote that most blessed Symbol, the august Creed of our holy faith, wherein they clearly teach that, with His Begetter, the Word of God is also co-beginningless and is consubstantial with Him in truth. For these godly-minded all-glorious, and truly blessed Saints openly followed with fervent faith all that the Apostles taught” (Matins, Troparion 1 of the Fathers, Praises) the hymnographer of the Church proclaims.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The Grace of the All-holy Spirit has guided our footsteps to your town Tur’an of Galilee, to co-celebrate today, on the seventh Sunday after Pascha the First Ecumenical Council of Nice, of the three-hundred and eighteen God-bearing Fathers in AD 325.

These God-bearing Fathers, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and through the hands of the Apostles, who bore the Spirit, became genuine descendants of Christ’s Disciples and Apostles and Shepherds and Teachers of the Church as the most genuine servants of Christ, and followers of the Apostle’s teachings, as the hymnographer says.

Today’s Gospel narrative according to the Evangelist John refers to the Episcopal prayer that the Lord prays to God the Father for His disciples, saying: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:11-13).

In His prayer, our Lord Jesus Christ asks God the Father that His disciples may remain united in Him as well as with each other in the bond of love according to the prototype of the union of Christ the Son and Word of God with His Father. On the other hand, He asks His Father that the Disciples may have in them the perfect joy that He feels, as He returns to God the Father. Interpreting the Lord’s word, “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13), Saint Cyril of Alexandria wonders: “what is that fulfilled joy? To know and believe not only that Christ was human for us, but that He was human in everything among us except sin, and that He is the true God”.

The Holy Church of Christ honours especially the God-bearing and Spirit-bearing Fathers because they fought like the Apostles of Christ for the unity of the faith, namely the steadfastness of the faith, and of course, for the unity of the Church, whose the whole institution is composed by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Fathers of the Church, my dear brethren, are those who set the doctrine of the one Triune God, one Trinity, of the same essence and divinity, and gave to the Church the mystery of Theology, which is the Holy Trinity, as the hymnographer of the Church says: “Let us acclaim today those mystical trumpets of the Spirit, namely the God-bearing Fathers, who, in the midst of the Church, sang a harmonious song of Theology, teaching that the Trinity is one, identical in essence and Godhead; they are the refuters of Arius and the foremost warriors of the Orthodox. And they ever intercede with the Lord that our souls find mercy” (Glory of Vespers).

The Fathers that convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nice in AD 325 refuted, as it is known, the heretic Arius, because along with those who had the same beliefs as him, he “erred concerning the truth” (ref. 2 Tim. 2:18). Therefore, we, my dear ones, are called to the same thing as the Holy Fathers, according to Saint Paul, so that we carefully follow his God-inspired words to his disciple: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker” (2 Tim. 2:15-17).

Indeed, my brethren, it is just like a canker that the irreverent messages of the “so-called” New Order are brought forth, the messages of the Globalization. The aim of the New Order is the denial of the principles and redeeming morals of the Gospel, namely the denial of Christ and His Name. “God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). However, we should not be afraid, because our Lord Jesus Christ promised His Disciples before departing from them and ascending into the heavens: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). I will not leave you alone, I will come in a short while to you through the other Comforter, namely the Spirit of Truth, which will abide in you and unite you with me as members of mine.

Behold, therefore, why the Lord asks God the Father “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). Christ is the joy of the Church and also the joy of those who love Him and commune with His precious Body and Blood. That is why He says, “enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:23). And according to Saint Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22). 

This joy of the Holy Spirit did the Most Blessed Mother of God enjoy when the Saviour fulfilled the mystery that had been hidden for centuries at His Ascension in the Heavens, as the hymnographer says: “for it was meet that she who, as should also partake of the surpassing joy of the glorification of Thy flesh, O Master, whereof we also have partaken through Thine Ascension to the Heavens, and we glorify Thy great mercy toward us” (Both Now, Aposticha Vespers). Moreover, “following the divine doctrines (of the Fathers) and believing with assurance, we worship, in one Godhead, the Father, Son and All-holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence” (Glory, Aposticha of Vespers). Amen! Many happy returns.”

At the meal His Beatitude again addressed all present as follows:

“Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 10: 2021), the Holy Bible writes.

Honourable President and Respected members of the Ecclesiastical Committee,

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Brethren,

Today’s celebration of the Holy Fathers who convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nice in AD 325, which was under the order of the pious Emperor of the Rum Orthodox Christians Constantine the Great, has special importance for us Christians who live in the Holy Land and for the wider Middle East.

We say this because indeed the historical and great event of the First Ecumenical Council of the Church signified the precision of the Orthodox faith on the one hand, and on the other, it shaped the cultural and national-religious identity of the faithful members of the Church.

The First Ecumenical Council in Nice is the one that handed over to the Orthodox Church the name “Roumiye” and to the citizens of the Empire the title “Rum”. And this is because the Church is the body of Christ and bears His name, “which is above all other name” (Phil. 2:9), and it had a super national character according to Saint Paul’s teaching: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-28).

This very unadulterated apostolic tradition of the faith which was kept by the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, as well as the spiritual grandeur of the cultural heritage of Romiosyni is carried out by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Church of Jerusalem, the Mother of all Churches.

The unceasing and living historical presence of the Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem throughout the centuries is the irrefutable witness of the Christian presence in the Holy Land and of the sacred institution of the Church which has been founded by the redeeming blood of Christ.

The God-bearing Fathers who gathered from all parts of the earth in Nice gave the doctrine of our Orthodox faith and Theology, namely the doctrine of the Holy Trinity through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and not through contemplative reasonings and philosophical inventions, as Saint Gregory the Theologian says: “we theologise with the simplicity of the fishermen’s faith”.

Our Holy Church of Jerusalem, my dear brethren, is not only the point of reference for us Christians, but also the guarantee of our existence according to the Lord’s word: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

Let our boast then be the God of our Fathers and the Church of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who was Ascended into the Heavens and has not been separated from us. Many happy and blessed returns. Amen!”

At noon the Community hosted a meal for His Beatitude and the members of His Entourage.

After the meal the couple Abu Rami and Im-Rami honoured at their house the Patriarchal Entourage with a variety of delicacies.

From Secretariat-General




THE COMMEMORATION OF THE GOD-CROWNED SOVEREIGNS AND EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES CONSTANTINE AND HELEN AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Friday, May 21/ June 3, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of the Holy glorious God-crowned and equal to the Apostles Constantine and Helen.

On this feast the Church celebrates that after Constantine the Great accepted the Holy Baptism, and received the sign that appeared in the sky for him with the Cross writing “be victorious with this” and made it an emblem for his army, he defeated the followers of Maxentius and recognized Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Country. His mother Helen came to Jerusalem and discovered the Holy Cross and the places of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, inaugurating Constantine’s Rum-Christian era from AD 326-336.

This feast was celebrated at the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen of the Brotherhood, with Great Vespers on Thursday afternoon and the Divine Liturgy on Friday morning, officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, along with the ministering Priests of the Church, with first in rank the Typikon Keeper Archimandrite Alexios. The service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras, representatives from the Patriarchates of Moscow and Romania, many pilgrims and local faithful.

After the Divine Liturgy, the Patriarchal Entourage headed to the Patriarchate Reception Hall via the Central Monastery gate and received the small loaves of bread that had been prepared by the baker Nun Seraphima.

There His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:

“Not from man did great Constantine with his blest mother Helen receive the royal sovereignty but by God’s grace from Heaven. For he beheld the divine Cross as a bright flashing trophy. With it he was victorious over all who opposed him and he destroyed the deceit and error of all the idols while making strong throughout the world Orthodox faith and practice” (Matins Exaposteilarion).

Your Excellency Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Noble Christians

Today the Holy Church of Christ, and especially the Church of Jerusalem most joyfully celebrates the sacred commemoration of the Holy glorious God-crowned and great sovereigns Constantine and Helen, who became equal to Christ’s Apostles and Fathers of Romiosyni, as well as founders of the beautiful Monasteries and magnificent Churches around the shrines of the Holy Land, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, among others.

Constantine the Great received the calling from the Lord and the knowledge from the Holy Spirit and significantly contributed to the recognition not only of the Christian faith as the official religion of the Empire but also the support of the institution of God’s Church.

Two primary events point out the contribution of Constantine the Great in his grandiose work for the Church; First, the invitation of the distinguished Church Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council of Nice in AD 325, which condiment the heresy of Arianism. Second, the pilgrimage of his mother Helen to the Holy Land and the greatest of her achievements, the discovery of the wood of the Precious Cross, along with the establishment of the Order of the Studious (“Spoudaioi” in Greek, referring to those who endeavoured in studying the teachings of Christ), namely of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood.

Let us hear at this point the words written in a letter by Constantine the Great to the Persian King Sepori about the care of the people of God: “By keeping the divine faith I earn the light of truth. Guided by the light of truth I gain consciousness of the divine faith” (Eusebius on Constantine the Great, Book 4, ch.9). And in another letter to the Bishop Makarios of Jerusalem about the construction of the Holy Sepulchre, he writes: “It is righteous to beautify the value of the most marvellous place in the world”.

Needless to say, the Christian character of the Holy Land and of Jerusalem is entirely attributed to the God-inspired initiative and actions of the Holy Sovereigns Constantine and Helen.

Honouring all these gratefully, our Holy Church of Jerusalem, for their commemoration held the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at the Monastic Church dedicated to them, rendering thus a thanksgiving Doxology to the Holy Triune God.

And let us say along with the hymnographer, Constantine most respected, along with your pious mother Helen, pray to Christ our God to grant remission of sins to those who celebrate your holy commemoration. Amen. Many Happy returns!

At noon there was a festal monastic meal.

From Secretariat-General




MEETING OF HIS BAETITUDE PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS III WITH A DELEGATION FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION

His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, along with Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Melkite Greek Catholic Bishop Yasser Ayyash, and Rev. Don Binder on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese, met on Wednesday evening, June 1, with a delegation from the European Union, and took turns discussing the reality of the hardships Christians endure on daily basis in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

During the meeting which was held at the Imperial Hotel in Jerusalem, and was followed by a dinner, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III delivered the following speech:

 

“Respected Members of the European Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Experts in the MENA Region,
Beloved Fellow Heads of the Churches,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We welcome you warmly to the Imperial Hotel and to the historic pilgrims’ gateway to the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy City of Jerusalem.
We are deeply encouraged by your visit, and we wish to commend you on your desire to consult with the Heads of the Churches and Christian Communities of the Holy Land, especially at this time when the integrity of this region and the future of the Christian presence here are uncertain as at no other period in our lifetime.
For centuries this Holy City and the Holy Land, and indeed the entire region of the Middle East has been the home to a great civilisation. This region of the divine-human encounter has woven a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious tapestry of peoples that is at the heart of our collective identity. This rich heritage, in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims have grown and lived side by side for generations, is being undermined by a fresh and destructive radicalism on the part of those who wish to see this great tapestry picked apart.
The challenges that we face are serious and pernicious, for they strike at the heart of our uniqueness. As is well known, we face the provocations of radical groups that seek to make this city and this region exclusively their own. We are meeting this evening in the great focal point of this conflict, which is the Imperial Hotel, which is next door to the Petra Hotels, which are the target of Israeli radical groups to make permanent changes in the Christian Quarter of this Quarter. Furthermore, another entrance to the Christian Quarter, the New Gate, which also leads to the Holy Sepulchre, is under the same pressure and condition. The consequences of their intention are incalculable and will change the character of this City forever, to the detriment of the Christian presence. Our mission is always to keep the Holy City open to all, without distinction or discrimination.
We face other challenges, including the consequences of the ongoing pandemic, the economic situation, the restrictions that Christians are facing from the political situation, and the lack of opportunity for our young people to aspire to a better future.
We have only one mission; to ensure the integrity of the Christian character of the Holy City of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and to do all that we can to enable the Christian presence in this region to remain here and flourish. We believe that our historic experience as those who have built this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society together with our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers who also understand the reality of our region, has the capacity to maintain this identity on which centuries of common life have been built.
This mission is not just for ourselves alone. This historic identity of the Holy Land is of enduring importance to our world. Here are the seeds of a genuine, stable, and strong diverse society that can be a model for others. And because of the religious significance of this region for the three Abrahamic traditions, which make up the majority of the religions of the world, the future of our world is directly related to the future of this region.
The Heads of the Churches have always been ready, and continue to stand ready, to work with the European Union and your respective governments, as well as with all sides of our society in this region, for lasting solutions to the challenges that we face, so that the unique witness of this land of the divine-human encounter, which brings hope to the countless millions of people every day, might be an example of encouragement to all.
Once again, we thank you for your visit to us, and with eagerness, we look forward to working in close collaboration with you.
Thank you”.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE VISIT OF THE PRIME MINISTER OF GEORGIA TO THE PATRIARCHATE

On Monday afternoon, May 17/30, 2022, the Prime Minister of Georgia Mr Irakli Garibashvili visited the Patriarchate, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Ilia Darchiashvili, the Head of the State Security Service Mr Grigol Liluasvili, the Head of Government Administration Mr Revaz Javelidze and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Mr Lasha Zhvania.

His Excellency the PM and his entourage were warmly received by His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and Hagiotaphite Fathers, among whom the Patriarchal Commissioner, His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Elder Dragoman Archimandrite Mattheos, His Eminence Archbishop Philoumenos of Pella, Archdeacon Mark and the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon.

During this visit His Beatitude addressed His Excellency the Prime Minister of Georgia as per below:

“Your Excellency, Mr Prime Minister,

Mr Garibashvili,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are very glad to welcome you and your distinguished delegation to our Patriarchate in this joyous Paschal season.

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem, that is to say, the Church of Jerusalem, is the Mother of all the Churches, for it was founded on the redeeming blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, and was raised from the dead in this Holy City.

Thanks to the great Roman Christian emperors Constantine and his mother Helen, who took care of the Holy Places in the Holy Land and established the well-known order of the Spoudaei, which became the current monastic community of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, the Brotherhood of the Holy Tomb.

It is precisely this monastic community of the Holy Tomb that has been instrumental in guarding, serving, and maintaining the Holy Places, our Churches, and our Monasteries down the ages as places of prayer and worship, and therefore as places that are accessible to pilgrims and visitors without distinction.

Needless to say, the Holy Places have been sustained by the sacrifices of blood and of money.   Many have given their lives to protect them, and many benefactors have given from their financial resources to support them.   For these sacrifices, we give thanks to Almighty God.

We welcome you, Your Excellency, as a leader and as a representative of an Orthodox country and a brotherly Orthodox Church.   This means that the Church of Jerusalem and the Church of Georgia and its faithful belong to the same Body of Christ and His Church.   This is why it is imperative, as Saint Paul commands, that we are always eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).

The challenges that we are facing here in the Holy City of Jerusalem are well known, for Jerusalem is the spiritual capital of the whole world and especially for the Orthodox Christian nations and peoples.

Our mission here is to promote the values of our Orthodox Christian tradition and heritage, which are no other than the values enshrined in the Holy Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testaments and in the Sacred Tradition of the Church.

The love of Christ and His peace, justice and reconciliation are the pillars of the Church of Jerusalem.

The Rum Orthodox Patriarchate, that is the Church of Jerusalem, as the Mother Church embraces everyone without distinction or discrimination.   This is why our Patriarchate enjoys the great respect of both the Israeli authorities and of course the Palestinian and Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan authorities as well, as you witnessed yesterday evening at our meeting in Amman.

Your Excellency, we take this opportunity to express our appreciation for your firmness and straightforward stand against globalization, which neglects Christian values.

We are therefore pleased to bestow upon you the Cross of the Holy Tomb of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may be protected and inspired always by the salvific message of the Cross of the Righteous One.

Christ is risen!

Thank you”.

The address was followed by the exchange of presents; the PM gave His Beatitude an icon of the Georgian Saint Ashot, while His Beatitude offered the Prime Minister a big icon of the renovated Sacred Edicule, icons of the Mother of God to the members of the Delegation and the Ambassador and finally Mr Garibashvili was awarded the honorary medal of the Grand Commander of the Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

Thanking for the warm reception of His Beatitude, the PM and the members of the Delegation left to venerate the Holy Sepulchre, where they were received by Geronda Sacristan, His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis. Before this visit, the Delegation had visited the Holy Monastery of the Holy Cross, where Georgian Monks throve in the past.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE FEAST OF THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Sunday, May 9/22, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the Sunday of the Samaritan woman according to the book of Pentecostarion.

On this feast, the whole Church and especially the Church of Jerusalem commemorates the event that has been handed over to us by Saint John the Evangelist (John 4, 5-42). According to this narrative, a woman from Samaria from town Sychar came to draw water from Jacob’s well and met the Lord there. He conversed with her and revealed to her that “He is the Messiah Christ” and that “God is spirit and those who worship Him shall do so in Spirit and in truth”. With His God-inspired words and because Christ told her the things she had done in her life, she believed and preached about Christ and finally suffered a martyr’s death along with members of her family, brothers, daughters and her son.

In honour of Saint Foteini, the Samaritan woman, twenty-five years ago, the Archimandrite Ioustinos Mamalos built a magnificent Church at the place of Jacob’s well, along with a chapel dedicated to the Holy Martyr Philoumenos the Hagiotaphite who suffered martyrdom at the well.

In this Church, the Divine Liturgy for the feast was officiated by His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos with co-celebrants their Eminences, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, and the Archbishops, Aristarchos of Constantina, Philoumenos of Pela, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, among whom the Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, and Archimandrite Ieronymos. The chanting was delivered by Archimandrite Leontios in Greek and the Community Choir in Arabic as the service was attended by many local faithful and pilgrims from various Orthodox Christian Churches, and faithful from the occupied territories of Samaria, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and Bethlehem.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“At the sixth hour, the Well-spring of miracles came to the well to capture the fruit of eve; for Eve at this same hour departed from Paradise through the deceit of the serpent. The Samaritan woman, then, approached to draw water, and the Saviour, upon seeing her, said to her: Give me water to drink, and I shall fill thee with living water. And running to the city, that prudent woman at once announced to the multitudes: Come, see Christ the Lord, the Saviour of our souls”, the hymnographer of the Church proclaims (Vespers, sticheron of the Samaritan woman 1).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

The grace of the Samaritan woman has gathered us all in this holy place of the Patriarch Jacob’s well, where Jesus met her, so that we may celebrate the great and wondrous doings of the Lord on earth so that we should gain the knowledge of His redeeming truth.

“There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink… Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw” (ref. John 4,7-15).

At the meeting and conversation of the Son and Word of God with the Samaritan woman, we have the revelation of the infinite philanthropy of the Saviour Christ, “Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2,4). The Lord Himself revealed that He is the fountain of eternal life when He told the Samaritan woman “but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4,14).

Interpreting these words of the Lord, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says: We must know that the Lord calls the grace of the Holy Spirit water, and if somebody becomes communicant of this grace, then he will have as supply the knowledge stemming from the Holy Scriptures, having thus no need for admonition by others.

In other words, my dear ones, the enlightening grace of the Holy Spirit “shines forth and is visible” not only to the souls of the illiterate and uneducated people, like the Samaritan woman but also to the souls of those who have faith in their hearts and long to know the most perfect mysteries, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says.

Precisely because the Samaritan woman showed zeal in learning the doctrines and the truth of the Lord, as well as the correct manner of worshipping God, Jesus revealed to her two things: first that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4,24). And secondly, that He is the Messiah Christ, as Saint John the Evangelist writes: “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:25-26).

It is noteworthy that after this revelation to her, the Samaritan woman “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4,28-29).

Interpreting this action of the Samaritan woman, Theophylactos says: “In this manner, the Samaritan woman preferred immediately Christ’s water to that of the Jacob’s spring”. While Saint Cyril of Alexandria says: “The woman that had many men, two or three days ago, now appears to be stronger and above the cares of the flesh. And the one who quite often became vulnerable to the shameful delights, now prevails over the needs of the flesh, that is the thirst and drinking; and she has transformed her needs anew for the love of Christ. That is why the hymnographer says: “O Lord, Who supportest Thy chambers in the waters, Thou, being the Water of Life, didst grant Thy worshipful springs unto the Samaritan woman who asked of Thee, when she had learned of Thy compassion” (Matins, Ode 1 of the Samaritan, Troparion 4).

Moreover, the Lord Himself says referring to the Scriptures: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7,38). And Jesus said this, referring to the Holy Spirit that those who believe in Him shall receive, according to Saint John (John 7,39).

The Samaritan woman, who was called Foteini, became a vessel of the Holy Spirit and a preacher and Apostle of the Gospel of Christ and sealed her mission with her martyrdom during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero, as her Synaxarist mentions.

We, my dear brethren, who honour the sacred memory of the Holy Equal to the Apostles and Great Martyr Foteini, the Samaritan woman, are called to imitate the simplicity of her faith to our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. And we say this, because the Samaritan woman preferred God’s wisdom to the earthly water, namely the denaturation of the Saviour, as the hymnographer of the Mother of God says: the invisible God the Word in nature, has become visible to men as a man through the pure Mother of God, recalling man to transform his nature to your Divinity. Amen! Christ is risen! Many happy returns, blessed and peaceful!”

After the Divine Liturgy, there was a procession around the Church under the chanting of Paschal hymns and a festal reception at the Hegoumeneion.

At noon the Hegoumen and owner and renovator of the Church, Archimandrite Ioustinos hosted a meal and offered His Beatitude a beautiful Cross, similar to the one placed on top of the Sacred Edicule after its renovation in 2017, so that He may use it at the processions according to the Typikon of the Church of Jerusalem.

From Secretariat-General




GRADUATION CEREMONY AT THE PATRIARCHATE’S SCHOOL IN RAMALLAH

On Saturday evening, May 8/21, 2022, the graduation ceremony of ‘Saint George’ School of the Patriarchate took place in Ramallah.

The ceremony was held at the reception hall in a town hotel with the honorary presence of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, who was accompanied by Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Priest Issa Mousleh, Archimandrite Galaktion, Priest Stephen from the Church of Greece, the President of the Palestinian State committee on Religious Affairs Mr Ramzi Chouri, the Manageress of his office Mrs Hane Amire, His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, the President of the West Bank Schools of  the Patriarchate Mr Ode Kaouas, the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras, representatives from the Ministry of Labour of the Palestinian Autonomy, the thirty three graduates along with their parents and others.

The ceremony began with the Palestinian National Anthem, followed by the Greek National Anthem, a hymn for the recently murdered Palestinian martyr Shireen Abu Akleh, His Beatitude’s welcome, the Gospel reading according to Saint Mathew “ you are the light of the world’  and a narrative from Saint Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, a reading from the Quran, the Schools hymn, and finally the baton’s handing over from the graduates of the School year 2021-2022 to the last class of 2000-2023.

Consequently the School Principle Mr Jelal Muhaison spoke, underlining the important educational mission of the School, which is proven by the number of the graduates who enter Universities and also mentioned the moral and material support of the Patriarchate in this mission.

The honorary calling of the students who excelled with grades 98,50/100 followed, the address of the students in the Arabic and English languages, Palestinian songs and traditional Palestinian dances and the hymn of the Palestinian martyr who were this school’s graduate in 2016, Tamara Abu Leyle.

The ceremony concluded with His Beatitude’s address, read by Fr Issa Mousleh, stressing that this year, the 18th of the School’s operation is dedicated to Shireen Abu Akleh. His Beatitude’s address follows below in Arabic:

والأردن في تخريج طلبة مدرستنا الرومية الأرثوذكسية سان جورج                                     21/5/2022

سيادة المتروبوليت يواكيم مساعدنا و معاوننا رئيس لجنة مدارس بطريركية الروم الأرثوذكس الجزيل الاحترام .

سيادة العين الدكتور عودة القواس الرئيس التنفيذي لمدارس بطريركية  الروم الأرثوذكس الجزيل الاحترام .

المربي الفاضل الأستاذ القدير جلال محيسن مدير المدرسة الجزيل الاحترام،

حضرات المعلمات والمعلمين وأولياء أمور الطلاب المحترمين،

الحضور الكرام مع حفظ الألقاب و الأسماء و الصفات الاعتبارية و الشخصية و الرسمية .

سلامُ المحبة لكمْ جميعاً

يسعدُنا  أنْ نُعبّرَ لكمْ عنْ وافرِ فرحتِنا وابتهاجِنا ونحنُ نقفُ بينكُم في هذا اليومِ الّذي نحتفلُ به سويّاً لنخرج مجموعة من بناتِنا وأبنائِنا الذين أنجزوا مرحلةً هامة مِن مراحلِ حياتِهم، وإنّنا بذلكَ نتقدّمُ بالكثيرِ مِنَ الامتنانِ والاحترامِ لأولياءِ الأمورِ والهيئتيْن الإداريّةِ والتدريسيّةِ على ما قدّموهُ منْ جهدٍ وعطاءٍ في سبيلِ الوصولِ بطلّابِنا إلى أعلى المراتبِ والدّرجاتِ ومساعدتهم للانطلاقِ نحوَ أولى خطواتِ مستقبلهم.

إن مِن أهمِّ الأمورِ الّتي علينا أن نعيها أنَّ التّعليمَ يُعتبرُ البنيةَ الأساسيّةَ الّتي يتكئ عليها المجتمع، لذلكَ علينا أن نتمسك بهِ وأن نعمل على تطويرهِ ومسايرةِ التّجدّدِ السّريعِ الحاصلِ في العالم، لكي تتمكّنَ الأجيالُ منْ مواكبةِ مجالاتِ الحياةِ لبناءِ الوطن و استقلال الذات .

إنَّ طالبَ العلمِ هو هدفُنا الذي نسعى من أجله ، لذلكَ فمنْ واجبِنا أنْ نوفّرَ لهُ كلِّ المقوّماتِ الّتي تتيحُ لهُ الاستمرارَ نحوَ الأفضل، كما أنَّ تهيئةَ الظّروفِ المناسبةِ هي منْ أهم حقوقِ المرءِ الوضعية الّتي منْ خلالِها سيقومُ بواجباتِه نحوَ أسرتهِ ومجتمعهِ ووطنهِ .

الحضور الكرام ،،

إنَّ النّظامَ التّعليميَّ في أيّة دولةٍ هو الأساسُ الراسخُ والدعامةُ الأولى ليكتملَ البناءُ ويَقوى و لتستمر الحياة ، فالتّعليمُ يصنعُ الأيادي المعطاءة  الّتي تعمّرُ وتبني وتُطوّر، ومنْ هذا المنطلقِ لا يسعُنا إلّا أنْ نقولَ كلمةَ حقٍّ في معلّماتِنا ومعلّمينا فهم من يبنون و يصنعون الأجيال ، فهاماتُهم تعانقُ المجدَ وأياديَهُم تغرسُ بذورَ الحبِّ والأمل، وبعطائهِم تستمرُّ المسيرة .

وقيل في التعليم : الزراعة تسد الجوع و الصناعة توفر الاحتياجات لكن التعليم يزرع و يصنع وطنا

و في هذا المقام لا ننسى أن نرسلُ تحيّةً منَ القلبِ إلى أسرةِ التّربيةِ والتّعليمِ الحاملةِ رايةَ هذه الرّسالة، فنحنُ نُثني على جهودِكم ونباركُ ثمرةَ إنجازاتِكم.

وحيثُ أنَّ بناءَ الإنسانِ هو قبلَ كلِّ شيء، فهذا ما يحتاجُه طلابُنا اليومَ، فإذا أردتَ أن تبنيَ حضارةَ فعليك ببناء الأسرة ثم عليك برعاية التعليم ثم عليك برفع القدواتِ والمرجعيات. فحتّى تبني الأسرةَ عليكَ برعايةِ دورِ الأمّ في تربيةِ أبنائِها والاهتمامِ بها لبناءِ جيلِ المستقبل، وكي ترعى التعليمَ عليكَ بالمعلّمِ اجعلْ لهُ أهمية في المجتمعِ وارفعْ من مكانتِه حتّى يقتدي بهِ طلّابُه، وكي ترفعَ القدواتِ عليكَ بالعلماءِ اجعلْهُم القدوةَ للجميعِ حتّى يعلو شأنُهم ولا تشكّكْ بقدراتِهم حتّى يُسمَعَ لهم.

وإنّنا نغتنمُ الفرصةَ مِن خلالِ هذهِ المناسبةِ الطّيبةِ على قلوبِنا جميعاً لنشيرَ إلى التّقدّمِ العلميِّ الّذي حصلَ في هذهِ المدرسةِ خلالَ الأعوامِ المنصرمةِ وعلى كافّةِ الأصعدةِ المتعلّقةِ بالعمليتيْن التّربويةِ والتّعليميّة، ممّا أتاحَ الفرصةَ لطلبتِنا الأعزاءِ أن يحصلوا على نتائجَ مشرّفة في الامتحاناتِ العامّة، على الرغم من جائحة كورونا التي اجتاحت العالم و حدّت من التقدم في الكثير من المجالات إلا أن الإدارة العليا لمدارس البطريركية و على رأسها سعادة العين الدكتور عودة القواس و بحكمته الرزينة استطاعت التغلب على هذا الفايروس بمعية مدير المدرسة الأستاذ جلال محيسن، كما لا ننسى الدور الريادي الذي يقوم به رئيس لجنة المدارس المتروبليت يواكيم الجزيل الاحترام برعايته و دعمه المعنوي و المادي لمدارس البطريركية.

الحضور الكرام :

إنّ هذا الصّرحَ الأكاديميَّ الثّقافيَّ العربيَّ الرّوميَّ بمعلميه و إدارته قدْ خرّجَ أشخاصاً لهمْ مراكز مرموقةٌ وعاليةٌ في مجتمعِنا الأصيلِ والّذينَ نفتخرُ ونعتزُّ بهِم  .

وفي الختامِ لا يسعُنا إلّا الدعاءَ لأبناءِ شعبِنا الفلسطينيِّ بأنْ تتحققَ آمالهم بالسّلامِ والحرّيّةِ والاستقرارِ وقدْ حقّقوا أهدافَهم الّتي يثابرونَ منْ أجلِها كشعبٍ يستحقُّ الحياةَ بإقامةِ دولتِهم الفلسطينيّةِ وعاصمتُها القدسُ الشّريفُ قدسُ الأقداسِ تحتّ ظلِّ القيادةِ الحكيمةِ لفخامةِ الرّئيسِ محمود عبّاس رئيس دولةِ فلسطينَ حفظهُ الله ُورعاه، وأنْ يعمَّ السّلامُ والحبُّ في جميعِ الأراضي المقدسة وفي منطقة الشرق الأوسط والعالم بأسره و نرجو لكم عاما خاليا من الوباء و البلاء و الغلاء وكل عام وأنتم بألف خير.

After the reading of the address, His Beatitude was offered a bouquet of flowers and He handed the titles to each of the graduates, wishing them all the best for success, career and higher education studies.

Finally there was honorary mention and giving of honorary board to those distinguished in teaching and especially to the parents of Shireen Abu Akleh, as well as a speech for her, which was delivered by the Al Jazeera representative, Fayez Abu Samir.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE SUNDAY OF THE PARALYTIC MAN AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Sunday, May 2/15, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the Sunday of the Paralytic Man, the 4th Sunday after Pascha according to the Book of Pentecostarion.

H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, after the welcoming reception by the Scouts, officiated the Divine Liturgy at the Community of Rhene, near the city of Nazareth.

Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were their Eminences, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, the Geronda Secretary-General, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, Archimandrite Artemios, the Dean Priest of this community Priest Simeon, Priest Stephen from the Church of Greece, other Priests, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios.

The chanting was delivered by the Byzantine Choir of the Community in Arabic, and many local faithful Christians attended the Service.

Before the Holy Communion, His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“At the sheep’s pool a man lay in sickness and when he saw Thee, O Lord, he cried: I have no man that when the water is troubled, he might put me threrein. And straightaway, taking compassion on him, the Saviour saith unto him; for thee I became man, for thee, I am clothed in flesh, and sayest thou: I have no man? Take up thy bed and walk” the hymnographer of the Church proclaims (Vespers, Entreaty, Glory).

Beloved brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

Marvellous is our God, who has gathered us today in the faithful community of Rheine, to celebrate the Pascha of the Lord in gleefulness and joy, as we commemorate the miracle of the healing of the paralytic man who had been ill for thirty-eight years at the Sheep’s pool (ref. John 5, 5-9).

During His presence on earth, the Lord worked many signs in order to reveal His glory so that they might believe in Him, and to show His healing power to anyone who asked for it, which stemmed from the obedience and faith in Him, the Son and Word of God.

“And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool” (John 5,5-7).

Interpreting this verse from the Gospel, the Holy Fathers of the Church wonder why our Saviour chose this certain paralytic man? Because he was suffering from an incurable disease; “For what reason did Jesus pass by all other (ill people) and came to this man? To show both the power and the philanthropy; the power, because the illness had become incurable and had seized the man; and the philanthropy because Christ and guardian and philanthropist saw this man before all others as he was indeed worthy of mercy and benevolence”, Saint Chrysostom says.

To Christ’s demanding question, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5,6) Saint Chrysostom says that as the healer of our bodies and souls, Christ referred to the double paralysis of both the sins and the body. In other words, when there is mention in the Holy Scriptures about sin, we should understand this as our infirmity of both the soul and the body, which resulted in the death of corruption as Saint Paul preaches, having the Old Adam in mind: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5,12).

And Saint John the Baptist calls upon the words of Prophet Isaiah and says: “he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53,4). Seeing “Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1,29). And the wise Paul says: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15,3).

Moreover, according to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, the Lord came on earth “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2,14), and “to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins”. Let us hear the Holy Father saying: “wherever there is Christ, there salvation lies. And if he sees a publican sitting at the cashier, He makes him an apostle and an evangelist; and if He is buried with the dead, He makes them rise. And He makes the blind to see, the deaf to hear; and He visits the pools, not to see the buildings, but seeking to heal the sick”.

It is noteworthy that the paralytic man was healed not by the water of the pool, but by the working of the power of the word of our Saviour Christ, as the hymnographer says: “O Lord, not the pool, but Thy word healed and renewed the paralytic; nor was he hindered by his sickness of many years; for the power of Thy voice proved to be more effectual. And he cast off the weight that was grievous to bear and carried the burden of his bed as a testimony to the multitude of Thy compassions. Glory be to Thee”(Matins, Glory of praises).

The paralytic man became healthy instantly when he heard the Lord’s words “Take up thy bed and walk” (John 5,8-9). And the swift healing power of the Lord’s voice is no other than the overshadowing of the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. And we say this, because the Church is the pool, namely the healing place of our souls and bodies, while the Holy Sacraments, which are being held by the power of the Holy Spirit are the medicine that lead to the cure. According to Saint Chrysostom, the manner of treatment is common and the medicine is available for all. However, healing is not common for all, but it is achieved by the goodwill of those who use it.

Celebrating the Lord’s Pascha, my dear brethren, let us hear the divine voice of the Resurrected Christ: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28,20).

And let us say along with the hymnographer; “Having risen from the dead, Thou didst raise us also from the passions by Thy Resurrection, O Lord: And Thou didst destroy all the might of death, O Saviour, for this cause we cry out in faith: Remember us also in Thy Kingdom” (Sunday of the Paralytic, at the Liturgy, Troparion 2).

Christ is risen! Many happy and blessed returns!”

At noon the Community hosted a meal and among the celebrating guests were the Mayor of the city and the Sheikh.

His Beatitude addressed all present at the meal as follows:

“The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down” (Psalm 145,14), the psalmist says.

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Your Excellency President and respected members of the Ecclesiastical Committee,

Noble Christians,

The light of the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ which has filled both the earth and the heavens, as well as the parts below the earth, has gathered us all here so that along with the hymnographer Saint John of Damascus we may say: “Willingly becoming poor with Adam’s poverty, O Christ God, Thou camest upon the earth, incarnate of a Virgin. And Thou didst accept the Cross that Thou mightiest free us from slavery to the enemy. O Lord, glory to Thee”(Wednesday after the Myrrh-bearing women, Matins, 1st Troparion of praises, of the Crucifixion).

And we wonder, who is the enemy of the slavery of man? The devil, namely the lord of this world (ref. Eph. 6,12) has put men under tyranny. Form this tyranny of the devil did Christ liberate us through His Resurrection, as Luke the Evangelist says in the Acts of the Apostles: “ye know… Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10,37-38).

Through the pure flesh of the Ever-Virgin and Theotokos Mary, in the Holy Spirit, the Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate and took the same form of us men, so that He may transform the body of our humility to become of the same form with the body of His glory (ref. Phil. 3,21), that is, the body of His Resurrection.

In other words, my dear brethren, Christ conquered the death of corruption and sin and in more detail, the death of the body and soul’s paralysis, through His own death. And this happened, according to Saint Athanasius the Great, “so that the conciliation of God toward man may also be freedom of the whole humankind through man in the form of the new image of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”.

We, my dear brethren, being members of the body of Christ, have the Holy Church of Christ as our “Sheep’s pool”, where the healer of our bodies and souls is always present, both visibly and invisibly. God has granted us this great and unique beneficial and philanthropic Providence.

This Divine Providence is no other than our Mother and natural feeder, the Church of Jerusalem, the Venerable Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which throughout the centuries has remained a beacon and steadfast keeper of the truth in Christ, the faith in Christ, a guardian of the fatherly morals and an enemy of every newly-appearing seemingly religion, such as the Globalization and the New Order.

Christ and only Christ and His Church is the pool of life and the harbour of our recourse. Let us not turn our eyes and attention anywhere else, but only toward Christ, Who is the leader and founder of the faith and makes us perfect in it, as Saint Paul preaches: “…Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12,2)

Christ is risen! Many happy returns, blessed in the freedom of Christ!”

From Secretariat-General




MEETING OF THE MAYOR OF JERUSALEM WITH THE HEADS OF CHURCHES

On Monday afternoon, 26 April/ 9 May 2022, the Mayor of Jerusalem Mr Moses Leon met with the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem at the Monastery of the Franciscans in Jerusalem – Custody of the Holy Land.

At this meeting the Abbot of the Franciscans Fr Francesco Patton addressed the Mayor, underlining that the Jewish Passover was celebrated recently, during which the Jews remember the freedom God gave them from the bondage of Egypt. The Christian Easter was celebrated as our transference from the bondage of sin to the freedom of the Resurrected Christ. Ramadan was also celebrated as a period of acquiring the virtues of fasting, abstinence and the help of the poor.

All these happened in Jerusalem, setting an example to remind us not only of the co-existence but also the brotherhood, the community of values ​​and principles of life. “Believing these, we wish you Mr Mayor, wisdom and power to work toward the prosperity of all citizens of Jerusalem regardless their religion or nationality”.

On this occasion, the Franciscan Brotherhood offered its emblem to the Mayor.

After the Custos, H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos addressed Mr Mayor as follows:  

“Mr Mayor,

Your Beatitudes,

 Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Ladies and Gentlemen

We thank you, Mr Mayor, for your kind invitation to this gathering in this festive season. This is a time of the year when the eyes of the world are turned toward Jerusalem, and when we are most aware of the importance of Jerusalem not just for those of us who live here, but for the whole of humanity.

As the focal point of the divine-human encounter, Jerusalem has a universal significance that transcends all human boundaries and divisions. We are all sons and daughters of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem is the spiritual home of all people of goodwill, regardless of their origin or creed. As we read in the Scriptures, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Luke 13,34).

This Paschal season makes visible the mission of the Church in maintaining this special character of Jerusalem and in upholding the multicultural and multifaith heritage that we share. As you are well aware, this unique identity of Jerusalem and its universal vocation are the serious peril from Israeli radical groups whose actions threaten the very fabric and foundation of this Holy City. So egregious is their activity, that it is catching the attention of religious and governmental leaders around the world, who recognise the dangers of such groups, and we cannot but express our deep concern to you.

The Churches are willing to work together with you for the common benefit and common good of all our people, but this work must rest upon mutual respect and the security of the historic rights and privileges of the communities that make up our society. We wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our fellow Heads of the Churches, especially His Paternity Father Francesco, who has been instrumental in building up our common witness.

We are living in challenging times, and the role of Jerusalem is of greater significance to the human family than ever before. We understand fully the complexities of the issues that we face, and we are committed to finding appropriate solutions that will contribute to the well being of all our people.

May God bless you, Mr Mayor, and your colleagues, in the work that you do on behalf of our Holy City and all who live here and come here on pilgrimage.

Thank you.  

From Secretariat-General

 




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