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THE FEAST OF THE DORMITION OF THEOTOKOS AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Friday, August 15/28, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. This Feast was celebrated at the Shrine of the Dormition in Gethsemane where the Tomb of Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary lies, which was built by St. Helen in 326 A.D. and from the Sovereigns Markianos and Poulcheria in 417 A.D.

Vespers was held at 5.00 o’clock in the afternoon, led by His Eminence Archbishop Theophanes of Gerassa, with the co-celebration of Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Arab-speaking Priests, Hierodeacon Sophronios and the participation of faithful who venerate the Most Holy Theotokos who was buried there and was translated into heavens by Her Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

On the morning of the Feast Day the Divine Liturgy was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences Archbishops Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Philoumenos of Pella, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Arab-speaking Priests and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon in Greek and the members of St. James Cathedral in Arabic, as the Service was attended by many local faithful Christians, despite the restrictive measures. However, pilgrims are still unable to travel.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“The bounds of nature are overcome in thee, O immaculate Virgin; for thy childbirth is virginal, and thy death is the espousal of life. O thou who after childbirth art virgin, and who after death art living, do thou, O Theotokos, ever save thine inheritance” the hymnographer of the Church proclaims (Minaion, August 15, Ode 9, heirmos).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians and pilgrims,

Indeed, the Only One who contained beyond logic and nature the Word of God, our Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, has gathered us in this sacred place of Her Tomb, to honour Her Dormition along with the Holy Apostles who are gathered here in spirit.

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God”(Psalm 87:3), Prophet David chants. For which are we going to consider the city of the invisible and indescribable God, Who has everything under His own power, St. John Damascene wonders, but the Only One who indescribably contained the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. What is more glorious than accepting “the ancient true will of God”, Prophet Isaiah says (Isaiah 25:1).

In Theotokos Mary all the bounds of nature were overcome, as St. Kosmas the hymnographer says: “The bounds of nature are overcome in thee O immaculate Virgin; for thy childbirth is virginal, and thy death is the espousal of life”(Ode nine, heirmos). Both the conception by the Holy Spirit and the incarnation of Christ, the Word of God, from the pure flesh of the Virgin Mary are an excess of the bounds of nature. “The Virgin [Mary] who bore [God the Word] beyond any human logic did not lose any of the signs of virginity” St. Maximus the Confessor says.

The same is said by St. Kosmas the hymnographer regarding the overcoming of the bounds of nature at the Dormition of Theotokos:

“The King, the God of all, granteth thee things beyond nature. For even as He preserved thee a virgin in childbrearing, so also in the grave He kept thy body incorrupt; and He glorified thee by a divine translation, giving thee honour as a Son to His Mother”(Ode six, troparion 2).

Being in awe before the mystery of the death of the fountain of life, of the Mother of God, St. John Damascene says: “What are we going to call this mystery of you? Death? But even if naturally your most sacred and blessed soul is separated from your most holy body and the body is given to the lawful burial, however it does not remain in the state of death, nor is it decomposed by corruption; for Her whose the virginity remained untouched through labour, Her body is also preserved incorrupt and is translated into a better and more divine tabernacle, which is not broken by death, but lives eternally throughout the ages”.

For this reason, according to St. John Damascene, the blessed Virgin is “the acropolis of the Churches” and also “the Mother of all the Churches of the world”. St. John also preaches that She “did not reach up to heaven like Prophet Elisha, She wasn’t taken up to the third heaven, like St. Paul, but reached and sat upon the very royal throne of Her Son, seeing Him face to face, and rejoicing along with the great boldness She has in Him”.

This reality, my dear brethren, that the Most Holy Theotokos is standing next to Her Son and God beholding Him face to face and having great boldness in Him, is what has made Her a refuge for all those who venerate and honour Her, as the hymnographer says: “Preserve and save, O Theotokos, thy servants from every danger; after God do all of us for refuge flee unto thee; a form rampart art thou and our protection” (Horologion from the Canon of Theotokos).

As we stand today in this sacred Tomb of Theotokos in Gethsemane, celebrating Her Feast, let us hear our God-bearer Holy Father John Damascene in the salutation he wrote for the Mother of God and say along with him: “Let us rejoice in spirit along with David, for the tabernacle of the Lord finds rest today. With Gabriel, the chief of the Angels let us exclaim: “Rejoice the ineffable ocean of joy, Rejoice thou who alone drives away all sorrow. Rejoice, thou who art the medicine that heals all the pains of the heart. Rejoice, thou through whom death has passed away, while life is brought back”. In Christ the Son of God and our God, to Whom belongs all glory and the might, along with the Father without beginning and the All-holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. Many happy returns”.

After the Divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen, Most Reverend Arcbhishop Dorotheos of Avela hosted a reception for the Patriarchal entourage at the Hegoumeneion.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Wednesday, August 6/19, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On this day the Church following the Gospel narratives (Matt. 17: 1-3, Luke 9: 28-36, Mark 9: 2-13) commemorates the event when a little while before His Passion on the Cross, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared in His divine glory and light, when His raiment became white and brighter than the light and the voice of God the Father was heard saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him”, before the chosen Disciples, Peter, James, and John, in order to show them and to us the former beauty that man lost, which those who believe in Him are able to restore being transfigured in Him and by Him.

This event was celebrated:

  1. At Mount Tabor, in the Holy Church of the Holy Transfiguration of the Lord, where His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos officiated the All-night Vigil, with co-celebrants their Eminences; Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, and Deacons, with the participation of only a few faithful Christians due to COVID-19. The chanting was delivered by Archimandrite Demetrios Kavathas on the right in Greek and by Archimandrite Philotheos on the left in Arabic.

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

“Christ took Peter, James, and John into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And there appeared Moses and Elias talking with Him. And a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said: This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him” (Matins, end, glory) the hymnographer of the Church proclaims, using the wording of the narrative according to St. Matthew (Matt. 17:1-5).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

Today the Saviour of our souls, “Who wast transfigured making the nature that was darkened in Adam to shine like lightning again” (Vespers aposticha Troparion 2) has gathered us in this Holy Mount of Tabor in order to mystically see through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Christ, shining with the divine rays and hear the voice of God the Father proclaiming Him His Beloved Son, Who has redeemed us from our human illness.

In this Holy high mountain, where Christ was transfigured before His disciples, and His face shone like the sun, and His raiment became white as light (Matt. 17:2), the irreproachable light of the glory of God the Father was foreshadowed. For this, the hymnographer says: “The darkness of the Law hath been superseded by the luminous cloud of the Transfiguration. Moses and Elias, being found therein and deemed worthy of the glory that transcendeth light, said unto God: Thou art our God, the King of ages”(Small Vespers glory, both now).

The only and absolute purpose of the mystery of the Divine Providence, namely of our faith to the incarnate Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is for us to be deemed worthy of the glory of the transcendeth light of God. And what is this glory of God? It is written: “And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire”(Exodus 24:17). And elsewhere, the Lord said to Elisha the Thesbite: “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by… but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire, a still small voice” and the Lord was there (3 Kings 19:11-12).

And according to the witness of St. John the Evangelist, the Lord is the light of the world: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”(John 8:12). And this light is no other than the glory of God, as St. Luke the Evangelist says, referring to the shepherds who kept watch at night: “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them”(Luke 2:9), and at Stephen’s stoning to death: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God”(Acts 7:55-56).

The event of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is the foreshadowing of His Resurrection, the preparation of the Disciples for it, who were going to be the eye-and-ear witnesses of the Passion, the death on the Cross, the three-day burial, and of course of the luminous Resurrection of Christ, as St. Matthew narrates: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day”(Matt. 16:21). This is also witnessed by the hymn-writer of the Church by saying: “Before Thy Cross, O Lord, a mountain became like unto Heaven, and a cloud spread out like a tabernacle. When Thou wast transfigured and the Father bare witness to Thee, Peter with James and John were present, for they also were to be with Thee at the time of Thy betrayal; so that having seen Thy wonders, they might not be afraid at Thy sufferings”… “to show them the splendour of the Resurrection”(Great Vespers troparia 1&2).

The theological depth, height, and width of the miracle of Christ’s Transfiguration is centered in two things: Firstly that Christ: “was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matt. 17:2) and secondly: “a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him”(Matt. 17:5).

And we say this because the experience of both the vision of the glow of the light of the Transfiguration and the hearing of the voice in the cloud is not solely directed towards the present Disciples, but also to every single faithful Christian who loves God with all his clean mind and heart. Let us therefore hear the words of the established Church Father Gregory Palamas in his approved teaching by the great God-bearing and Theologian Fathers before him: “The chosen ones among the Disciples, as you hear the Church chanting, …, saw the meaningful and eternal beauty of God in Tabor… the luminous brightness of the initial beauty, this divine beauty that has never been seen,, through which man becomes deified and deemed worthy of conversing with the Divine, this eternal and heirless Kingdom of God, this irreproachable light beyond comprehension, a boundless, timeless, eternal light, shining incorruptibility, God’s light to the deified…for the grace of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirit was one, which was not visible to the human eyes, but it pierced through them as if opening the eyes of blind men, and made them able to see, according to St. John Damascene, this uncreated light, which in the age to come will only be visible to the saints, as Saints Dionysios and Maximus say”.

This uncreated light of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ shone upon this Holy Mount of Tabor, and for this reason, it is also called the light of Tabor. The Saints and the Righteous of |God are worthy of this light as it is written: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”(Matt. 5:8). “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light”(Psalm 36:9) David chants.

As for us, my dear Brethren, let us entreat God the Word and God the Father of lights that by the intercessions of the Most Blessed Theotokos we also may praise  Him and say along with the Psalmist: “In the light of the glory of Thy face shall we walk unto the ages”(Psalm 88:15). Amen.”

After the Divine Liturgy, the renovator of the Monastery and Hegoumen Archimandrite Ilarion offered a fish meal.

  1. At Gethsemane and the Tomb of Theotokos, the Divine Liturgy was led by His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias with the co-celebration of Hagiotaphite Fathers. After the Divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen Archbishop Dorotheos of Avela offered a reception.
  2. In Ramallah, at the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Divine Liturgy was led by the Hegoumen Archimandrite Galaktion, with co-celebrant the Steward and Priest Yacub, with the participation of a few faithful only due to the virus pandemic.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF ST. IOANNIS THE NEW HOZEVITE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Monday, July 28/August 10, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of St. Ioannis the New Hozevite at the Holy Monastery of Hozeva, at the desert of brook Chorath, not far away from Jericho.

On this day the Church, and especially the Church of Jerusalem honours St. Ioannis from Romania, who came to the Holy Land and lived in strict fasting, silence and every virtue, becoming worthy of the gifts of clairvoyance and the working of miracles, as well as the incorrupt relics of his which is kept in this Holy Monastery.

He was canonized a Saint by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2016.

An All-night Vigil was held to his honour, officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos with co-celebrants, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Hegoumen of the Monastery Archimandrite Constantine, Archimandrite Isidoros, other Priests and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon and the Monastery Monks.

His Beatitude was welcomed by the Hegoumen Archimandrite Constantine. Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon;

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”(Matt. 11:28-29) the Lord says.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Our Holy Father Ioannis the New Hozevite, who became a vessel of the Holy Spirit and received by Him the working of miracles, has gathered us in the place of his ascesis to honour his sacred commemoration.

Our Holy Father Ioannis, toiling and burdened, retreated in the Holy Land and specifically in the river Jordan area, where our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by St. John the Baptist “and the Holy Spirit confirmed the word” seeking his rest in Christ according to the Lord’s words: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”(Matt. 11:28).

Interpreting these word of the Lord the God-bearing Fathers of the Church say; St. Chrysostom: “ But the righteous live forever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High takes care of them. Therefore they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord, because with his right hand he will cover them, and with his arm he will shield them”(Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-16).

In other words the rest of the righteous in Christ is no other than their entrance in the Kingdom of Heaven where “they reign along with the Lord…and Christ will crown those who believe in Him with unshakable Glory” St. Cyril of Alexandria says, commenting on Prophet Isaiah’s words: “In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people” (Isaiah 28:5). This is also said by St. Paul in his 2nd letter to Timothy: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”(2 Tim. 4:8). And Apostle Peter too: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away”(1 Peter 5:4).

Our Holy Father Ioannis received this crown of righteousness and of glory of God becoming a citizen of the heavenly city, the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22). And the crown of glory that fadeth not away and can be seen in St. Ioannis is his incorrupt fragrant relic, as St. Cyril of Alexandria says: “The good crown that fadeth not away is bestowed to the one who lives as he should; this blossom could not be contained by the earth.”

Indeed, my brethren, the land of Hozeva could not contain this fragrant flower that fadeth not away, the corpse of our Holy Father Ioannis, because it has been clad with the incorrupt rest in the Holy Spirit , the Spirit of God the Word and our Saviour Christ. Behold therefore, the glory of our holy Church, behold the wealth of the Kingdom of God.

St. Ioannis accomplished his completeness because he was taught by Christ Himself the meekness and humility of the heart. “learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart”(Matt.11:29) the Lord says.

This very meekness and humility of the heart we are also called to acquire, my dear Brethren, imitating our Holy Father Ioannis, as he became an imitator of Christ and managed his deification, becoming like the Holy great monastics George and Ioannis the Hozevites.

Along with the hymnographer let us say: “Thou, in taking the Lord’s Cross upon thyself, and in following after Him to the end, didst never return in mind to the world or the things thereof; and thou slowest the passions with labours and abstinence, so preparing thyself as a temple for Christ our Lord. Hence thou wast rewarded, O divinely-wise with grace to heal all ills and to drive unclean spirits out, O God-bearer divinely blest. Intercede with Christ our God that forgiveness of all their transgressions be granted to them that with longing keep thy holy memory”. Amen.

After the All-night Vigil a meal was offered.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE FEAST OF PROPHET ELIJAH AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Sunday, July 20/August 2, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of the Holy Prophet Elijah the Thesbite at his old holy Monastery which is located midway on the central road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

On this feast Prophet Elijah is alive in the memory of the Church as referred to his apolytikion : “the incarnate Angel and the Prophets’ summit and boast, the second forerunner of the coming of Christ our God, Elijah the glorious…he doth cast out sickness and doth also cleanse lepers; and unto all that honour him he poureth forth streams of cures”. He was born in Thesbes that’s why he is called Thesbite, he lived an ascetic simple life, dressed in a fleece, full of Godly zeal and was a fervent defender of the Name and rights of the only true God, “ he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit”(James 5:17-18).

With his prayer, Prophet Elijah made fire from heaven come down on mount Carmel and burnt down the wood of the altar and confounded the priests of shame whom he later slaughtered at brook Kishon (3 Kings ch. 18).

It is believed that the Prophet slept under a juniper tree at the place of this Monastery, and an angel left food for him and told him “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” Persecuted by Jezebel he retreated to brook Chorath where God sent a crow to bring him bread in the morning and meat in the evening (3 Kings 17-19:).

In this monastery Vespers was held in the afternoon by His Eminence Archbishop Theophylaktos of Jordan and Patriarchal Representative in Bethlehem. The Divine Liturgy in the morning was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos with co-celebrants their Eminences the Archbishops: Aristarchos of Constantine, Methodios of Tabor, and Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, only twelve Priests inside the Church with first in rank Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, and around twenty faithful outside according to the Police instructions due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Some more came in the end to honour the “second forerunner of the coming of Christ, Elijah the glorious”, under the chanting of His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba in Greek on the right and St. James Cathedral choir in Arabic on the left under the lead of Mr. Rimon Kamar.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude read the following Sermon:

“As a seer of God, the Thesbite with Moses beholdeth upon Tabor that which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, and which the heart of earthborn men hath not considered, even the Almighty Lord incarnate” the hymnographer of the Church proclaims (Minaion July 20, Matins, ode 9, troparion 3).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians,

The holy and reverend commemoration of the Holy glorious Prophet Elijah the Thesbite has gathered us today at his sacred Church, in order to honour his feast in Eucharist. The presence of Prophet Elijah and his active prophetic preaching take place at a crucial time, during which the people of God who follow the Law of Moses, which was given to them on Mount Sinai, have distanced themselves from the healthy faith and worship of the revealed “religion” of the moral monotheism, and have joined the fallacy of idolatry and syncretism. The gloomy picture of the deviation of the Old Testament people from the path of the knowledge of God and the pure worship is described by St. Chrysostom by saying: “For it was night, which had covered the whole Universe; a thick cloud had covered the whole world. Everybody advanced in the works of evil; it was a universal wreck, not because of waters but because of lewdness (P.G. Minge 50, 729).

The Holy Prophet Elijah righteously received the name “zealot” as St. Chrysostom also says: “he was getting drunk by the zeal”. Elijah acquired this excessive zeal for God paying heed to God’s commandments: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”(Deuteronomy 6:5), and by David’s words: “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour”(Psalm 15:1-3).

The self-willed and unconditional obedience of God-minded Elijah to God’s will made him “a man of God” and that is why he was appointed with the divine mission of the awakening and the repentance of both the people and their religious-political leaders.

And this mission through the prophetic actions of zealot Elijah aimed at the preservation of the promises of God to Abraham and of the Covenant which God made available to their Fathers (Acts 3:25). In other words, the mission of Elijah the Thesbite aimed at the reminding “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath”(Hebrews 6:17) according to St. Paul. And we must consider as “heirs of the promise” both the peoples of the Old and the New Testament, according to St. Paul’s words: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”(Galatians 3:29). And according to Zigavinos the interpreter; “heirs of the promise are the old people by nature, and the new by spirit; because those who are close by nation are the natural seed of Abraham, but those who become similar to him according to faith are close to him through spirit.”

It is made clear that the prominent character and the prophetic action of Elijah are owed to his words and actions as witnessed in both the Old and the New Testament.

And in the New Testament Elijah the Thesbite appears along with Prophet Moses next to Christ on His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, becoming His witness and conversing with Him: “And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him”(Matthew 17:3). Moreover, St. James the Brother of God while praising the prayer of the righteous says about Elijah: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months”(James 5:17).

While in the Old Testament, glorious Elijah is shown as a chosen vessel of God, equal to the Apostle of the Nations Paul. The action of the power of faith of his godly zeal and wondrous works are precisely described by the holy writer of wisdom of Sirach as follows;

“Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, and his word burned like a torch.  He brought a famine upon them, and by his zeal he made them few in number. By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, and also three times brought down fire.  How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast which you have? You who raised a corpse from death and from Hades, by the word of the Most High; who brought kings down to destruction,  and famous men from their beds; who heard rebuke at Sinai and judgments of vengeance at Horeb; who anointed kings to inflict retribution, and prophets to succeed you. You who were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire;  you who are ready[b] at the appointed time, it is written, to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury, to turn the heart of the father to the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob.  Blessed are those who saw you, and those who have been adorned[c] in love; for we also shall surely live”(Wisdom Sirach 48:1-11).

 

To this indeed befitting praise of prophet Elijah the Thesbite by the God-inspired Sirach, Father Joel Gianakopoulos says regarding the last sentence “for we also shall surely live”: “Here we should think about the righteous who will die during the last days of the world. Prepared by Elijah’s preaching, they will die peacefully and will be resurrected during the Judgment of the World which will take place at that time, and will live eternally”.

Today’s honoured God-seer Prophet Elijah the Thesbite had a peaceful death, he had the death of the righteous as the psalmist says: “God shall redeem my soul out of the hand of hades when he receiveth me”(Psalm 48:16) and “But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them”(Wisdom of Solomon 3:1).

My brethren, let us entreat Elijah who has great boldness to the Trinitarian God and along with the hymnographer say: “O Elijah, thou Prophet and herald of Christ, at no time art thou ever separated from the throne of majesty, yet thou art ever present at the side of every one in sickness; while ministering in the highest, thou dost bless the whole world and art every-where glorified. Ask thou forgiveness of our souls” (Vespers aposticha glory). Amen.”

After dismissal a simple reception was offered by the Hegoumen Archimandrite Paissios.

From Secretariat-General

 




HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM OFFICIATES THE DIVINE LITURGY AT THE HOLY MONASTERY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST BY THE RIVER JORDAN

On Sunday, July 13/26, 2020, Sunday of the Holy Fathers and of the Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel, as well as of the commemoration of St. Stephen of St. Savvas Lavra, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist at the West Bank of the River Jordan, conforming to the protective guidelines against COVID-19. This Monastery was half-destroyed during the six-day war in 1967, but it has been preserved, renovated and projected again as a marvellous shrine by the Patriarchate, with the funding of the memorable Hegoumen of Sarantarion Mount Archimandrite Gerasimos, under the supervision and intensive care of the Hegoumen and Master of Ceremonies Archimandrite Bartholomew.

In this first Patriarchal Liturgy at the Monastery, co-celebrants to His Beatitude were their Eminences; Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias and Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Archimandrite Meletios, Hieromonk Onuphrios, Hierodeacon Eulogios, while the Hegoumen of the H. Monastery of St. Gerasimos of the Jordan, Archimandrite Chrysostom also participated in the prayer. His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis delivered the chanting and the service was attended by some nuns of the desert and the Architect Mr. Theodosios Mitropoulos.

Before the Holy Communion there was a Memorial Service for the repose of the soul of the memorable Archimandrite Gerasimos and His Beatitude read the following Sermon;

The Lord said to His disciples: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matt. 5:14-15).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

Today the Holy Church of Christ honours and venerates the commemoration of the Holy six hundred and thirty Fathers of the Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon. Therefore, we too, have gathered in this holy shrine, the Holy historic Monastery of St. John the Baptist of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the river Jordan, in order to celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and glorify the great Name of the Holy Trinity.

Addressing His Disciples, the Lord calls them “the light of the world”. “Ye are the light of the world”(Matt. 5:14). This designation does not apply only to the Twelve Disciples, but also to their descendants, who are the Holy Hierarchs and God-bearing Fathers of the Church, those who strengthened the one unblemished faith of the Gospel as the hymnographer says: “The preaching of the Apostles and the doctrines of the Fathers confirmed the one Faith in the Church. And wearing the garment of truth, woven from the theology on high, she rightly divideth and glorifieth the great mystery of piety” (Minaion July 13 Kontakion of the Fathers).

The “great mystery of piety” is no other than the mystery of the Divine Providence, of the Incarnation of God the Word, our Saviour Christ, from the pure flesh of the Ever-Virgin Theotokos Mary, as it was foretold by the prophets: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth”(Isaiah 49:6). Apostle Paul refers to these prophetic words of Isaiah in order to confirm his mission to the nations (Acts 13:47). And according to the witness of St. John the Evangelist, “Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”(John 8:12).

Again, according to the witness of St. John the Evangelist, Christ “was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”(John 1:9). And according to St. Paul, though him, Jesus Christ became for the faithful, wisdom stemming from God with His teaching, and justification with His death and resurrection and sanctification with His ascension and with the sending down of the Holy Spirit, as well as a complete liberation with His glorious return in His Second Coming. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”(1 Cor. 1:30).

Being the God-human body of Jesus Christ and he “dwelling place of the Lord in Spirit”(Eph. 2:22), the Church is in itself the living torch, whose light, which is the light of Christ, shines upon all Christ’s friends. According to Zigavinos, Christ is the light which leads people from the darkness of fallacy to the truth, from sin to virtue, which illumines the mind of men. As it is written, “In him [Christ] was life; and the life was the light of men”(John 1:4).

God the Word, Christ, as the fountain of life “was life”(John 1:4) and is the One who creates and sustains every living thing. This truth was proclaimed by the Holy and God-bearing Fathers of the Church at the Ecumenical Synods, especially at the 4th Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon which we honour today, in which the blasphemous teaching of the Heretic Monk Eutyches was condemned. Moreover, this Synod condemned Monophycitisism and Nestorianism and formulated the eminent dogmatic term of Chalcedon, through which it established the Christological doctrine of the Orthodox Faith, accepting the two natures – divine and human – (two working powers and two wills) united unmistakably and indivisibly in the One Person, or the One Hypostasis of the Divine Word.

The great and undeniable significance of the holy Ecumenical Synods according to the established Professor Ioannis Karmiris is owed to the fact that they became the instrument that formulated the doctrines of the Church and permanently established around the world its common and uniform Tradition about the Faith and the manner of living, along with the combat of the various heresies and the guarding of the Ecclesiastical unity, which is mainly based on the dogmatic unity, of which the Ecumenical Synods were precisely both bearers and guarantors.

My dear Brethren, following unwaveringly the Apostolic Traditions and the Divine Doctrines that have been established at the Ecumenical Synods by the God-inspired Fathers and Teachers, we pay heed to St. Paul saying: “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself”(Titus 3:10-11). And let us say along with the hymnographer; “While celebrating on this day the holy Fathers’ memory, O all compassionate Saviour, we ask that by their entreaties Thou rescue us, Thy flock, O Lord, from all the harm of heresies, vouchsafing unto all of us to glorify God the Father, the Word, and All-holy Spirit” (Matins Exapostilarion). Amen.

After the Divine Liturgy Dismissal the Hegoumen Archimandrite Bartholomew hosted a reception.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF THE SYNAXIS OF THE HOLY TWELVE APOSTLES AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Monday, June 30/ July 13, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles.

Through this feast the Church gathers all faithful Christians in honour of the Holy Twelve Apostles who contributed greatly to the spreading of the preaching of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Who made the whole world marvel through them.

The Patriarchate celebrated this feast at the Holy Monastery dedicated to the Twelve Apostles downtown Tiberias city, at the north-west bank of the sea of Tiberias.

His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos officiated the Divine Liturgy, with co-celebrants their Eminences Metropolitans Kyriakos of Nazareth and Joachim of Helenoupolis, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Archdeacon Mark and Hieordeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon, as the service was attended by a limited number of faithful due to COVID-19. 

His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to this small congregation;

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples; the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matt. 9:36-38, 10:1). “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand”(Matt. 10:7).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The Holy and all-wise chorea of the Apostles of Christ has gathered us all today in their Monastery in this shrine, where Jesus appeared to His disciples by the sea of Tiberias (John 21:1), in order to celebrate their synaxis (gathering).

This synaxis refers to the Twelve Disciples to whom Jesus said: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest”(Matt. 9:37-38). Interpreting this verse, St. Chrysostom writes: “By saying “pray of the harvest” when they had not prayed nor asked for anything yet, Jesus directly ordains them, reminding them …that He is the farmer, the Lord of the harvest, as He also is the Master of the Prophets”. It is also clear, St. Chrysostom adds, that He did not send His disciples to harvest over some foreign labour, but to those which He sewed through His Prophets.

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matt.10:1). And all these they could do before they had been given the Holy Spirit. Because, as St. John the Evangelist says: “they had not yet received the Holy Spirit”. “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). How did they cast out the unclean spirits then, our Holy Father Chrysostom wonders. By the command and the authority of Jesus, St. Chrysostom answers to himself.

And the Day of Pentecost, when “they were all with one accord in one place… And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”(Acts 2:1-4) St. Luke the Evangelist mentions in the Acts of the Apostles.

Interpreting these words, Ecumenios says: “By the tongue the marvels of God are being declared”. And St. Gregory the Theologian says: “with tongues so that there is proximity to the words”. Tongues were seen, because we have the word of God from the Holy Spirit and Christ was going to speak to the world through the Holy Spirit, and He gave His Spirit to the Disciples in order to transmit to then not only the knowledge, but also the power, to preach and convey to the world the knowledge of truth, which they had received. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”(Matt. 28:19), the Lord asks of His Disciples.

“The Lord says, not simply that they should baptize, but to teach beforehand, …so that faith should become right through the teaching, and after the acquisition of faith, the baptism should be added to complete it” St. Athanasios explains. Indeed, the preaching of Christ’s Disciples, or rather their Apostolic teaching according to the Lord’s command; “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: (Matt. 28:20) is the primary source of the healthy teaching (2 Tim. 4:3) of the Holy Church of Christ.

Preaching the unifying strength of the Church between the Jews and the Gentiles, St. Paul says: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:19-20).

In other words, my dear brethren, the Holy Apostles became the foundation of the Church by Christ through the Holy Spirit, in establishing faith and the local churches all over the world, which were led by the Apostles themselves, or by the Bishops they ordained. That is why St. Paul advices the Bishops by saying: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood”(Acts 20:28).

The significance of the Apostolic succession is praised by St. Chrysostom: “The prophet is a lord…the shepherd and teacher is a spiritual lord; but above all those the apostolic succession is greater”. This means that the apostolic character stems from the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is of One essence with the Father and the Son, Who puts together the whole constitution of the Church, according to St. Gregory the Theologian. Moreover, the Catholic and Apostolic Church is especially stressed in The Creed.

Needless to say, that the Apostolic character of the Church is inseparable to the Apostolic succession of the Shepherds, namely of the Bishops of the Church, as well as of the Apostolic Tradition according to St. Paul’s teaching: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust”(1 Tim. 6:20), “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep”(2 Tim. 1:14), “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle”(2 Thess. 2:15).

“The Apostolic beginning” according to St. Chrysostom, which encompasses the Apostolic succession and the Apostolic Tradition, has its point of reference in the experience of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, when “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”(Acts 2:4).

Behold why our Holy Church especially honours the commemoration of the Holy Apostles. Let us therefore say along with the hymnographer: “O Good Saviour, Who by nature art the Friend of man and great in compassion, by the divine supplications of Thine all-hymned Virgin Mother, and the intercessions of Then Apostles Peter and Paul, and of the Twelve Apostles, send unto us from Heaven Thy mercies and succour” (Minaion June 30, ode 9, theotokion). Amen.

After the Divine Liturgy the good caretaker of the Monastery Hegoumen Archimandrite Parthenios offered a meal to the Patriarchal entourage.

From Secretariat-General

 

 




THE FEAST OF THE CHIEFS OF THE APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Sunday, June 29/July 12, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of the Holy Glorious and Chiefs of the Apostles Peter and Paul at the Monastery dedicated to them in the seaside deserted town of Capernaum at the north-west bank of the sea of Tiberias.

The Church of this Monastery was erected by the memorable Patriarch of Jerusalem Damianos in 1935, it was then maintained by the memorable Metropolitan Germanos of Petra and finally the Monastery was renovated and projected by the current caretaker Monk Eirinarchos, who also decorated it with Byzantine frescoes and icons.

On this feast the Church honours Apostle Peter, brother of Apostle Andrew, who was born in Bethesda of Galilee and followed the Lord from the beginning. Apostle Peter denied the Lord on the night of His Passion, but repented at the rooster’s crow and was again received by the Lord after the Resurrection with the words “Peter, lovest thou me?” He became an Apostle and witness and martyr of the Lord, preaching Him and His mission in places of Asia, Pontus, Cilicia and elsewhere.

The Church honours likewise Apostle Paul, as a former persecutor of the Church who was called by the Lord through a vision on his way to Damascus, and accepted the call, becoming a chosen vessel and preached Christ more than all other Apostles, in the Mediterranean, and as far as Rome, which is why he was distinguished as the Apostle of the nations.

In honour these Chiefs of the Apostles His Beatitude officiated the Divine Liturgy in the aforementioned Monastery with co-celebrants their Eminences Metropolitans Kyriakos of Nazareth and Joachim of Helenoupolis,  at the chanting of Monk Nickolaos, with the participation of only a few faithful due to the increase of the COVID-19 patients again.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“Let us all praise with sacred hymns Peter and Paul, the men of God, the foremost of the Apostles, and the bright lights of the whole world; the preachers of the holy Faith, the trumpets of theology, revealers of divine decrees, the pillars of the august Church, and the destroyers of error” the hymnographer of the Church proclaims (Minaion June 29, exapostilarion of praises).

The sacred feast of the holy couple of Apostles Peter and Paul has gathered us today in this holy shrine of Capernaum, in order to honour their commemoration in Eucharist and doxology.

Having been filled with the Holy Spirit and the Divine Grace, both of these chiefs of the Apostles were excelled among the other Apostles for their extreme godly zeal and for their redeeming theological interpretation of the incarnation of God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us hear the words of the hymnographer: “Nor by flesh neither by blood did God inspire thee to speak theologically about Christ being the true Son of God, Apostle Peter”. And for Paul: “Now is Christ no more seen by thee in a dark saying, neither in a glass, but face to face, discovering to thee the perfect knowledge of the God-head”(Ode 9, Canon of Paul,  troparion 3).

This event is witnessed by Matthew the Evangelist, where Christ says to Peter: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven”(Matt. 16:17-18). And in the Book of Acts the Lord says to Paul: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest…And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision… Go thy way: for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel”(Acts 9:4-15).

The spiritual and moral grandeur of “the rock of faith”, namely of Peter, and of “the chosen vessel” namely of Paul, is made obvious by two things. Firstly, these Holy Apostles became eye-and-ear-witnesses of the invisible mysteries of the glory of the Trinitarian God, Who has been revealed in the form of Jesus Christ. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” Peter says (2 Peter 1:16). Secondly: “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter”(2 Cor. 12:1-14, St. Paul confesses.

Moreover, the preaching of our Holy Apostles according to the Lord’s word: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”(Matt. 28:19) is inspired by Christ, and by Christ’s light, as this is stated by St. Paul: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ”(Gal. 3:27). This denotes that the Apostolic preaching is one of repentance, righteousness and holiness, in Christ crucified and resurrected. The holy Church of Christ honours especially the chiefs of the Apostles in gratitude as it should, because they significantly contributed to the foundation of the “Churches of nations”, namely to the peoples who did not know the moral Monotheistic religion which was revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Let us hear what Peter said to the Apostolic Synod in Jerusalem: “And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us” (Acts 15:7-8). As far as Paul is concerned, he was chosen by the Lord Himself, Who said: “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles”(Acts 9:15). Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans along with the greetings to his accomplices: “Greet my helpers in Christ Jesus… unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles”(Romans 16:3-4).

Ιn their letters both Peter and Paul  theologically develop that the God-human institution of the Church is a spiritual house, with Chris being the chief corner stone according to Peter (1 Peter 2:4-5), and as the body of Christ, with Christ being the head of this body according to Paul: “and gave him [Christ] to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all”(Eph. 1:22-23). “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. 3:10).

It is also noteworthy that the distinction of the holy chiefs of the Apostles should by no means be considered as spiritual superiority over the other Apostles, because the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given by the Resurrected Christ to his disciples and Apostles was given “when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled”(John 20:19), without any quantitative or qualitative discrimination. Interpreting the words of Jesus to His disciples: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”(John 20:22), St. Cyril of Alexandria says: “Christ did not give the Holy Spirit to some only, but to all the disciples”.

To these great luminaries, Peter the rock of faith and Paul the true teacher who revealed the mysteries of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, let us pray and say along with the hymn writer: “Apostles of Christ our God, entreat God for the remission of our sins, as we celebrate your holy commemoration”. Amen. Many happy returns in good health. “

After the Divine Liturgy the hardworking caretaker of the Monastery Monk Eirinarchos hosted a meal for His Beatitude and His entourage.

From Secretariat-General




HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM CELEBRATES THE D. LITURGY AT THE H. MONASTERY OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD ON MOUNT TABOR

On Sunday June 15/29, 2020, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos officiated the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor, where He read the following Sermon:

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”(Matt. 6:31-33) the Lord says.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

Preaching at the synagogues of Galilee (Luke 4:44) and healing the infirmities of the crowds following and asking Him not to depart from them (Luke 4:42), our Lord Jesus Christ said unto them: “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent”(Luke 4:43). These words of the Lord are revealing because they denote in all clarity and precision the purpose of the Divine Providence, namely the coming of Christ, the Son of God, into the world.

The ineffable philanthropy of God could not abandon His creature made according to His image and likeness, and leave man in the darkness of ignorance and of sin. Therefore, He sent His Only Begotten Son made man, in order to save man as St. Paul preaches to the Christians: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 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”(Phil. 2:5-8).

And Christ “became obedient, even unto the death of the cross”, because St. Paul preaches: “For therein [in Christ] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith”(Romans 1:17). And God’s righteousness is no other than the way and the gate which enter the Kingdom of Heaven, namely to the vision, or rather to the view of the absolute beauty of the glory of God, to Whom all the Angelic forces along with all the Saints cry out loud the hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Sabaoth…hosanna in the highest.

The matter that is of priority is the man’s soul, as the Lord says: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”(Matt. 16:26).”

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF PROPHET ELISHA AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Saturday, June 14/27, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of the Holy Prophet Elisha at the Holy Monastery dedicated to him in Jericho, next to the sycamore tree of Zacchaeus.

On this day the Church commemorates the Holy Prophet Elisha according to the testimony of the Old Testament, in the Books of Kings. He was called to the ministry of God by Prophet Elijah, and having been anointed a Prophet by God’s command, he followed Elijah for the rest of his life-time and  was deemed worthy by God of the gift to work miracles.

By the divine power given to him, he turned the bitter harmful waters by the foot of Sarantarion Mount “of Jericho into sweet and drinkable and worked many signs and marvels, finally gaining double the grace of Prophet Elijah, which was sent down to him from on high, when Elijah was lifted up in the fiery chariot. Elijah threw down his fleece to Elisha, and he received it along with the double grace, stepped on the fleece and walked on the waters of the river Jordan to cross to the other side”.

In this Monastery, the Divine Liturgy was officiated by His Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences; Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, the Hagiotaphite Hieromonks; the Hegoumen of Beit Jala Archimandrite Ignatios, , the Hegoumen of Hozeva Archimandrite Constantine,  Archimandrite Onuphrios of Sarantarion Mount, and the Hegoumen of Saint Gerasimos Archimandrite Chrysostomos. Participants in prayer were also the Hegoumen of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist Archimandrite Bartholomew, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacons Eulogios and Simeon. The service was attended by the members of the parish of Jericho.

His Beatitude read the following Sermon to those present:  

“Since great Elijah, in his divine foresight, knew thee to be his own disciple, O wise Elisha, he made thee a Prophet set all ablaze with the Spirit’s light. Hence, today we honour thine all-holy remembrance and with pious mind revere both thee and Elijah, O glorious man of God” the hymnographer of the Church proclaims (Minaion, Matins, Sessional Hymn after Ode 3).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

Prophet Elisha who received double the grace of the Holy Spirit and was a disciple of the great prophet Elijah of Thesbes, has gathered us all today in his Holy Monastery in the historic town of Jericho of Palestine, in order to festively celebrate his sacred commemoration and thank the Holy Trinitarian God who made him a “wondrous vessel” (Wisdom Sirach 43:2).

“And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus…and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room… So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah,… and ministered unto him”(3 Kings 19:15-21) we read in the Book of Kings.

The personality and the prophetic gift of Prophet Elisha are clearly depicted at the book “Wisdom Sirach”: “When Elijah was enveloped in the whirlwind, Elisha was filled with his spirit; He worked twice as many marvels, and every utterance of his mouth was wonderful. During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was anyone able to intimidate his will. Nothing was beyond his power; and from where he lay buried, his body prophesied. In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvellous deeds (Wisdom Sirach 48:12-14).

Our Lord Jesus Christ refers to Prophet Elisha on His teaching to the Pharisees: “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian”(Luke 4:27) according to the witness of Luke the Evangelist.

It is also noteworthy that Jesus does not refer only to the wondrous prophet Elisha, but to all the Prophets of the Law of Moses. And this is so because the Prophets foretold the earthly life of God the Word the Son of God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and prepared His way, according to the witness of the Lord who said to His disciples on the way to Emmaus: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory”(Luke 24: 13, 25-26). And elsewhere: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said,.. that Christ is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins”(Acts 10:34, 42-43).

And the Apostle of the Nations Paul in his preaching gives praise to the election and mission of both the holy Apostles and the Prophets, who are equally the foundation stone upon which the dwelling house of God has been built, with Christ being the chief corner stone: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone”(Eph. 2:19-20).

This is what distinguishes the true Prophets from the false ones, that they preach and foretell the workings of the Holy Spirit, the Nativity of Christ. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”(Isaiah 7:14), the Prophet Isaiah foretells. “Rejoice, O Elisha, who while on earth hast shown an example of a life-equal to the Angels’, and while in the flesh hast lived without a peer. Since thou didst preserve the eye of thy soul pure of all that is material, O Prophet, thou wast counted worthy to foresee things to come by the clear light of the Spirit” the hymnographer says (Matins, Ode 1, troparia 1-2).

In order to comfort and strengthen the Christians, Saint James the Brother of God says in his Letter: “ Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience”(James 5:10). This shows that both the Apostles and the Prophets, as chosen vessels of God, and acted according to the instruction of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1), namely the Spirit of Christ. The distinction of the prophetic and apostolic words is highlighted by St. Chrysostom, in his interpretation to the Lord’s words: “that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together”(John 4: 36). And the Holy Father wonders; “who is he that soweth, and who is he that reapeth? The prophets are the sowers; but they were not the ones who sowed, the Apostles did”.

In other words, the will of the Prophets was the coming of Christ to the people. This is the will of today’s honoured holy Prophet Elisha, that Christ may come and dwell in our hearts.

Let us therefore my brethren in Christ our God and Saviour, entreat the holy and wondrous Prophet Elisha along with the Fathers who are co-celebrated with him, Methodios Archbishop of Constantinople and Hieromartyr Cyril, Bishop of Gortyna of Crete, and say along with the hymnographer: “O Elisha, ask that they who sincerely sing thy praise may receive from God healing of their maladies and the cleansing of their sins”(Matins Ode 1, troparion 3). And release us and the whole world from the pandemic of the coronavirus plague, so that the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit may be glorified in thee. Amen”.

After the Divine Liturgy, the prayer for the grapes was read, and there was a reception at the Hegoumeneion.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF OUR HOLY FATHER ONUPHRIUS AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Thursday, June 12/25, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of our Holy Father Onuphrius the Egyptian at his Holy Monastery, which is located at the place of “the Potter’s field” which was bought by the Pharisees with the thirty silver coins Judas returned to them (Matt. 21:30), opposite Siloam’s pool.

In this Holy Church, which is mainly carved into a rock, dedicated to Saint Onuphrius, who lived in Egypt in the 4th century, in complete silence, prayer, fasting and strict ascesis, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos officiated the Divine Liturgy, with co-celebrants their Eminences Archbishops Aristarchos of Constantina and Aristovoulos of Madaba, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon, and the service was attended by faithful Christians, monks, nuns and pilgrims from our Greek-speaking and Arab-speaking flock.

His Beatitude read the following Sermon to his congregation:

“Ye sought to behold the delight of the Lord, O God-bearer, and with Him alone did ye long to converse alone. Wherefore, ye abandoned the world, fleeing afar off to dwell in the wilderness and in mountains and putting on Christ, ye took no raiment, for ye had trafficked for the garment of incorruption, wherewith ye entered into the heavenly bridechamber, where ye rejoice eternally, O Onuphrius” (Minaion June 12, Glory of praises) the Church melodist proclaims.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Noble Christians

The grace of the Holy Spirit which made our Holy Father Onuphrius a citizen of the desert, an Angel in the flesh and a wonderworker, has gathered us all in his Holy Monastery which is located at the “field of blood”(Matt. 27:8), in order to festively celebrate his commemoration.

Hearkening to David’s words, “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day”(Psalm 25:4-5), he departed the Coenobion where he lived as a monk, in Hermoupolis of Thebes in Egypt and retreated in the desert, where he lived for sixty years without setting eyes on any human being, having as prototypes to imitate Prophet Elijah and St. John the Baptist.

The ascetic life of St. Onuphrius in the desert made him a vessel of the Holy Spirit, as his hymnographer says: “As angel in the flesh who dwelt with the hosts incorporeal, ye lit the desert like stars flashing in the night with your ascetic pains and toils Onuphrius, crying out loud: Alleluia”(Kontakion).

Our Holy Father Onuphrius managed his dwelling with the Angels because he sought the truth, the righteousness and the true light since his childhood, virtues that have been revealed to men by the Father through His Only-Begotten Son and Word and the Holy Spirit: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”(John 8:12), “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”(Matt. 6:33), “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”(John 8:32) the Lord says.

In other words, the God-inspired words of both the Old and the New Testament, of the Gospel, became a manner of living and of ascesis for Saint Onuphrius, who considered the Lord the source of life, according to the psalmist: “in thy light shall we see light”(Psalm 36:9). “For Christ is both the source of life and the light of light” Saint Athanasios the Great says.

Through the ascetic striving, our Father Onuphrius managed the desirable and perfect thing, to become communicant of the uncreated actions of God, namely someone who beheld and put on himself the uncreated divine light, and became a co-heir of the glory of Christ, as the hymnographer says: “offering thy mind as a whole-burnt offering, thou worthily becamest a partaker and joint heir in His glory”(Minaion Ode 5, troparion 1). And elsewhere, “Glory-wise Father Onuphrius…mortifying thy members on the earth, thou didst attain to the life in Heaven’s heights, where with great joy, O Saint, thou within the bridal chamber dost behold thy Creator’s artless beauty, O most righteous one”(Vespers troparion 2).

The vision of the “artless beauty” was accomplished by Saint Onuphrius through the virtue of “the ineffable purity and chastity, which the corrupt men acquire after many hardships, striving and sweat” according to Saint John of the Ladder. “For conquering one’s nature is beyond hope. In any case where the nature was defeated, there the incorruption of the supernatural was revealed” Saint John says again, “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better”(Hebrews 7:7).

In other words, Saint Onuphrius is distinguished among the great ascetics of the desert in the Church, because he managed the perfect renewal of man in Christ, the perfect God and perfect man, and transformed his corrupt nature by mortifying his own will, subduing himself unto the will of Christ Who said: “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother”(Matt. 12:50). “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day”(John 6:40).

It is also noteworthy, that the renewal of man is impossible without Christ, because “without me ye can do nothing”(John 15:5) the Lord says. Because of this the hymnographer says: “the Word of God that came from God, seeking by His ineffable wisdom to renew Adam, who fell into corruption through food, and was incarnate in an unspeakable manner through the Holy Virgin for our sakes, let us all faithful magnify in praise” (Heirmos ode 9).

By the above, it is made clear that the spiritual struggle for the deification in Christ does not only refer to the human nature, namely the soul, but also to the body; and this is so, because “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”(John 1:14) according to the Scriptures.

The life in Christ of today’s honoured Saint Onuphrius who became an Angel in the flesh and a wonderworker, proves that our Lord Jesus Christ is the light of the redeeming truth. Let us thus say along with the hymnographer: “Blessed art thou, O Onuphrius, having worked for Christ and vanquished the power of the enemy, a co-citizen of the Angels, joint to the Righteous and Holy, with whom thou intercedeth to God to have mercy on our souls” (Minaion Glory of Vespers stichera). Amen.”

After the Dismissal there was a procession to the founders’ grave, the prayer of the fruit was read, and the Trisagion for Nun Seraphima who used to live in the monastery was also held.

Finally, the good keeper of the Monastery, Abbess Paissia hosted a reception for the Patriarchal entourage and all present at the courtyard of the Monastery and the Hegoumeneion.

From Secretariat-General