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H.B. ADDRESS TO THE CONFERENCE “THE CURRENT SITUATION OF CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST”.

Amman, Jordan-  4 September 2013

Your Royal Highness,

Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Reverend Fathers,

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We meet together at this conference in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at a crucial and delicate time in the history of the Holy Land and of the entire Middle East. Each day brings new risks and new opportunities, and there is laid upon our shoulders as the Heads of the Churches and Christian Communities a particular burden of leadership that we cannot and must not avoid.

We share a common humanity, and we share a common human destiny. The future will unfold with, or without, our co-operation and participation, and it is an imperative of both our religious and our cultural heritage that we are called to play our part in the shaping of our future.

Our focus is on the situation of the Christian Communities of the region, and we wish to emphasize three essential issues in the present crisis.

The first is the reality, which we constantly need to keep to the fore, that the Christian community of the Holy Land and of the Middle East is indigenous to this region and an essential part of the fabric of our society. We are not strangers or exiles here, and the native Christian community extends far beyond the strict confines of what we now designate the Holy Land. Indeed in parts of our region the Christian Church and its institutions are the oldest religious organizations in existence.  We have been a continuous witness to the sacred history of this land.

This reality gives us a special mission both in our present challenges and in any future make-up of the society of the Middle East. We have no intention of abandoning our history, our heritage, our fellow countrymen, or eventually our life, let alone the Holy Places of which, by God’s Providence, we are the guardians and servants.  This is our common home, and we shall continue to live here together.

Our second point concerns the value of genuine co-existence and respect. Whatever else the future brings, it will bring increasing inter-relationships. There will never be a time again when we shall have the possibility of living in our own little ghettos, cut off from those who differ from us either in culture, ethnicity, language, or religion. We shall all have to be able to share several “cultural languages.”

But we of all people know this here, for this co-existence and respect is of the essence of this region. Here Jews, Christians, Muslims and others have lived side-by-side, spoken each other’s languages, appreciated each other’s customs, and shared common human values.

The threat comes to us not from our diversity, which is in fact a blessing to us. The threat comes to us rather from violence and extremism, and from those, from whatever quarter, who seek to overturn our common human values of freedom of religion and worship, freedom of expression, and freedom to live into the fullness of our God-given life and human dignity.

And thirdly we should like to remind everyone of the essential importance of dialogue. The future of the human community cannot be decided by arms, by violence, and by coercion. As His Majesty King Abdullah II said recently during his trip to the Vatican, dialogue is our only option, and we must strive with all our power in any sphere of influence that is open to us to ensure that dialogue, and not war, lies at the heart of the resolution to the difficulties that face us. The forging of our human future here in the Middle East will happen when we engage in the hard work of encountering each other in a dialogue that has about it the same dynamism of reality and purpose that we who are Christians understand to exist in the perichoresis that is at the heart of the mystery of the Incarnation of God.

Our ongoing response, in a word, must be expressed through divine grace and wisdom. We who are religious and spiritual leaders must consider our rightful place alongside governmental and civic authorities both here in our region and around the world to find the solutions that will make for peace, stability, and that rightful co­existence that is at the heart of the strongest societies.

We take this opportunity to express our admiration and support of His Majesty King Abdullah II, who has given, and continues to give, his strongest efforts for freedom and peace not simply in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, but throughout the Middle East and beyond. As the Custodian of both the Christian and Muslim Holy Places, he has shown exemplary strength of purpose in ensuring the appropriate character of Jerusalem, the Holy Land, and our region, and he has made the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan a living paradigm of co-existence and mutual respect.

Finally we wish to repeat in the clearest possible terms the call to the international community that the Heads of Churches of the Holy Land made in our recent Statement concerning the situation in Egypt, and we need to broaden this concern now to include our neighboring Syria. Both these countries, which have lived the values of tolerance and respect for centuries, are now torn apart by extremism and seemingly uncontrollable factions. Every day innocent blood is being shed as innocent men, women, and children are being killed and terrorized, ancient communities are being obliterated, and precious and irreplaceable shrines and temples are being destroyed. Bishops, priests, monks, and nuns, and religious leaders of other traditions are being brutalized and martyred. Families are being torn apart, and many hundreds of thousands are now displaced.

This is not the way to any kind of future that is acceptable, and with every act of violence reconciliation becomes so much more distant. The international community has a moral role to play with us in this region in helping to end violence and to set the road to reconciliation and stability on a firm foundation. Those who have the peaceful means to make peace must use all such means at their disposal for the good of all. For “blessed are the peace-makers.” This would guarantee the stability and well-being of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Thank you.

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem




HIS BEATITUDE SPEECH AT THE BAPTISM SITE AT BETHANY.

The Baptism Site at Bethany-beyond-the Jordan, 3 September 2013

 

Your Excellencies, Your Eminences, Dear Friends,

 

We gather today at this Holy Site in the aftermath of an important conference organized by His Majesty King Abdullah II on the situation of Christians in the Middle East.

We are living in a delicate time of the history of the Holy Land and of our region. On this occasion we wish to emphasize the crucial importance of the much needed resolution to the conflicts in Syria, the delicate situation in Egypt and not in the least the renewed dialogue and peace process between Israel and Palestine. We know, as His Majesty the King has recently stated, that dialogue is the way to a secure and sustainable peace, and we must all wholehearted support all processes of reconciliation that are underway.

The way of dialogue is always complicated, and it requires of all participants a large measure of patience and sensitivity. But let us never forget what is at stake. For at stake is the very character of the our beloved Land, as well as the well-being of men, women and children, families and communities, and our rich and irreplaceable heritage.

We who are spiritual leaders and people of faith look to the future with hope, for we trust in the promises and the providence of God. This very Holy Land is a living witness to the God of our sacred history, who has made himself known here in a unique way. We proclaim our God to be the God of peace and reconciliation, and it is in this spirit that we support all efforts by people of good will to establish peace and reconciliation among all.

 “Blessed are the peace-makers”, says our Lord.   May God bless every good work that is done in the service of humanity.

 We welcome you in our humble monastery and may God enlighten all our hearts.

His Beatitude,

THEOPHILOS ΙΙΙ

Patriarch of Jerusalem




INAUGURATION OF “SPIRITUAL CENTER” AT BETHLEHEM PILIGRIMAGE SITE

On Tuesday the 16th/29th of August 2013, the Spiritual Center of the Bethlehem Pilgrimage was officially inaugurated.  

The Center is set up at a residence near the Basilica of the Nativity, and the Central Monastery of the Greek Orthodox located within. The residence was purchased and renovated by the Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, His Eminence Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan.

The Center is intended to include various teaching and educational departments for the youth of the Arab-speaking congregation in Bethlehem (Rum Orthodox), i.e. courses on the History of the Holy Land, the Church of Jerusalem, the Holy Sites, Byzantine Music, computer literacy, foreign languages etc.

By means of these courses and other events to be hosted at the Center, young people will have the opportunity to meet and communicate with one another, overcoming isolation and alienation caused by the unstable political situation and financial adversities facing both Bethlehem and its environs.

The administration of the Center shall be undertaken by His Eminence Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan, alongside selected associates from the Bethlehem congregation, i.e. theologian Mr Jandala Masri, and Mr Georgios Kharan with the blessing, approval and guidance of His Beatitude Theophilos and of the Holy and Sacred Synod.

The inauguration ceremony was preceded by a meeting of the heads of the three Communities – Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian – at the Bethlehem office of the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mr Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, with his representatives, focused on working together on the manner in which officials and pilgrims will be received at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Subsequently, the Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, Theophylaktos, hosted lunch for His Beatitude and retinue, as well as for high-ranked officials of the Palestinian Authority, Sheiks of the region, Mr George Bassus and to approximately two hundred members of our congregation in Bethlehem and other communities.

Lunch was followed by the Center’s opening ceremony and the blessing of the water by His Beatitude.

On this very significant event for the life of our Greek Orthodox Community and all towns in Bethlehem, His Beatitude made a speech in Arabic which may be read here https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/08/28/2662 wishing success of the Center’s objectives for the benefit of those partaking in its activities.

 At the conclusion of His speech, His Beatitude was given a letter by the Judicial Assembly of the Palestinian Authority addressed to President Abu Mazen, wherein His Beatitude is praised for His cooperation towards peace, inter-religious coexistence and contribution to the Palestinian people. The letter, in Arabic, may be read here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/08/28/2665

Upon leaving the Center, His Beatitude consecrated the Chapel of the Holy Innocents near the Basilica, recently renovated by Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan.

From the Secretariat-General




FEAST OF PROPHET ELIJAH THE THESBITE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

The feast of Prophet Elijah the Thesbite, celebrated on the 20th of July each year, was honoured by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Saturday the 21st of July/3rd of August 2013, due to pastoral reasons. The celebration took place at the Prophet’s Holy Monastery which lies next to the main road leading from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, in the proximity of the ruins of the ancient Monastery of the Seat of Theotokos.

On this site stands the Monastery since very ancient times, set on the tradition that, having escaped the anger of kings Ahab and Jezebel, the Prophet Elijah sought refuge in this area. First he brought down fire from God and heaven and burnt the altar on Mount Carmel and then he slept under a juniper tree until awoken by an angel of the Lord, telling him: Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you”. So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. (1 Kings 19 4-9)

In the church of this Monastery, renovated by the late Arkadios, Metropolitan of Askalon, who hailed from Cyprus, a vespers was held in the evening, the Most Reverend Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan and Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, officiating.

In the morning of the aforementioned day a panegyric divine Liturgy was held, led by His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the presence of co-officiating Prelates. The Liturgy was attended by a pious Greek-speaking, Arab-speaking and Russian-speaking congregation.

During the Koinonikon of the mass, His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem proclaimed God’s Word, which in Arab may be found here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/08/02/2609

At the end of the Liturgy, a reception was held at the Hegoumen’s quarters, followed by lunch offered by Hieromonk Paisios, head of renovation works at the Monastery.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/yAkGMRDEYMI

 

 




SEVENTH DAY OF CELEBRATIONS IN RUSSIA – JOINT SERVICE IN KIEV

On Sunday the 15th/28th of July 2013, a Joint Patriarchal, Primatial and Hieratic Service was held in the Square of the Kiev Caves Cathedrals of Lavra.

The exquisite Church of Lavra is dedicated to the Dormition of Theotokos. Its first founder was St Antony of Kiev, approximately in 1095. He was ordained monk in Mount Athos.

In these very deep and very large labyrinthine caverns, either carved or constructed, thousands of monks have lived in austere asceticism from the 11th century onwards. Holy relics are kept in the caves, some exuding myrrh and some imperishable, declaring the power of the grace of our Lord, the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ, as well as the sanctification of the body and its participation in theosis by grace.

The relics of several Russian saints are kept here, in the Cavern of Upper Lavra. The Cavern also includes many small chapels, such as those of St Theodosios, second founder of Lavra, and a chapel with 13th century mosaic icons on the iconostasis.

In the second Cave, known as the Near Caves, the holy relics of seventy three saints are kept. The Cave contains the chapels of St Theodosios, 12th century St Varlaam, hegoumen of Pecherskiy, the 13th century chapel of St Antony’s Tonsured Monks, and the altar wherein the holy relics are kept.

On the walls of the caverns, small curved conches, closed, attest to being openings of tombs of many unknown saints. The guide also pointed to a grave wherein are kept the bones of twelve architects who died in Lavra and were buried in its cemetery.

This work of architects is appreciated even more if one considers that the whole area of the Caves includes twenty-four ground Churches and six underground.

At the end of this holy and magnificent Pan-Orthodox Joint Service, His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, delivered an address on behalf of all Orthodox Churches. The English version of the address may be found here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2013/07/28/2713

After the divine Liturgy, an official lunch was held by Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All-Ukraine for all Prelates and Delegates of Local Orthodox Churches.

Subsequently, the Prelates and Delegates left from Kiev central train station at about 15:50, to arrive in Minsk, Belarus at 23:35 pm.

From the Secretariat-General

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ADDRESS OF THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM ON THE OCCASION OF THE 1025 ANNIVERSARY OF THE BAPTISM OF RUS.

Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, Sunday 28 July 2013.

“Your Holiness, my dear Βrother in Christ and

Concelebrant, Kyril,

Patriarch of Moscow and All  Russia, Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Venerable Fathers,

Beloved Monastics,

Esteemed Members of the Government and the Civil Service

Dear Sisters & Brothers, the precious children of the

Orthodox    Church,

 

Grace  to  you  and  peace  from  God our  Father  and  the

Lord Jesus  Christ!  (2 Cor.  1:2)

We greet  you with these words of Saint Paul as we celebrate with you all this great anniversary of the Baptism of “Rus”.We are  honoured to be here, and we thank you, Your Holiness, for the  invitation that you have extended to us to participate in this Patriarchal Divine Liturgy.

 We are reminded today of the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Sermon on the Mount:

 You are  the  light  of the  world… let your light so shine before   others   that  they  may  see  your  good  works  and give  glory   to your  Father  in heaven,  (Mt.   5: 14, 1 6)

 The  light   of which  Our  Lord  speaks is nothing  less than the  uncreated  light   of  the  Father that   has  been  before the   beginning  of  time.       This   is  the   same   light   that shone   from    Mount  Sinai  when   God  gave  the   Law  to Moses.   This  is the  same  light   that  shone  from   Mount Tabor   at  the  Transfiguration   when   Our  Lord  appeared to  the  disciples  with   Moses and  Elijah  and  they  heard the  Father say, “This  is my  Son, the  Beloved; with   him  I am well  pleased;  listen  to  him!”   (Mt.  17:5).

 This  light   shone  also  from   Golgotha, when  the  King  of Glory  was  lifted   up  on  the  cross,  and  made  manifest to the   whole   world    the   true   meaning  and  cost   of   love. This   light   shone  from   Mount Zion  on  Pentecost, when mysterious  tongues  of  flame   rested  on  the   heads   of the   Apostles   and   Our   Lord   bestowed  on   them    the Father’s gift  of the  Holy  Spirit.

This    wonderful,    divine    light    is  the   same   light    of   hope that          continues   to  shine,   even   in  our   own   day,  from   the Holy  Tomb    of  Our   Lord  Jesus    Christ.       It  was  this   light that    inspired   the   first    missionaries   to  these   lands,   and this is  this   same   light    that   continues   to  bring    hope   to people  all over     the  world.

 The   Church    of Jerusalem,   as  the   Scriptures   remind    us, is  the   Mother    of  all  the  Churches  (Gal.  4:26),   and  has  a special  care for  all  the  Orthodox   faithful   around  the World.           We   rejoice    today    especially   in   the   close relationship    that    has   always    existed     between   the Church   in  Russia  and  the   Ukraine  and  the  Church   of Jerusalem.

 In   a   time     of    extreme   need    in   these    lands,    our predecessors   of  blessed      memory,     the       Patriarchs Theophanes  III,  Paisios, and  Dositheos  II of Jerusalem, were   significant   spiritual   and   pastoral  guides   to   the Church     here.          And    so   the    Church    of   “Rus”  was engrafted   into   the   ancient    apostolic  tradition   of   the Church    of  Jerusalem,  and   this   intimacy   our   faithful people   have always  felt.

 For  centuries  pilgrims  from   these  vast  lands  that   have been  sanctified  by the  blood   of  the  martyrs of  the  love of  Christ    have  come   to  the   Holy   Land,   touching   the very   ground    of  our   sacred   history.        We  in  our   turn have  been  strengthened  by your  pilgrimages  to  us, and we  are  all  encouraged  by  the  deep  unity   of  faith   that we  have  in  our  remarkable  diversity  of  culture, history, language, and  ethnicity.

Jerusalem       is  the   home    of   all   humanity,    regardless   of our   origins.    For,  as  the  Scriptures   remind   us,  there   “is no  longer   Jew   or  Greek,   there   is  no  longer   slave  or  free, there    is no  longer    male  or  female,  for  all  of  you  are  one in  Christ   Jesus”,    (Gal.  3:28).

 Today    we   mark    one    of   the    great    events     in   human history   –  an  event   that   continues   to   have   the   deepest significance          for   the    Orthodox     Church      as   a  whole,     and for  the  peoples of  these  lands  in  particular.    For  here,  in   the    year    988,     Prince    Saint    Vladimir    accepted baptism, and  directed  that   the  entire   population   also be  baptized   in  the   waters    of   the   River  Dnieper  just below   this   square,  where   we  are  concelebrating   this Divine  Liturgy   this  morning.

 All   anniversaries  remind  us  both   of  our  origin   and  of our    purpose,   and   this   anniversary  is   no   exception. The   commemoration   of  the   Baptism  of  “Rus”  ties   the present-day  Church of  these  lands  directly  to  the  Rum Orthodox   civilization   of  Byzantium  and  to  the  Church of   New   Rome,   that   is,  the  Church  of  Constantinople, which   has  always been  privileged  with   the  seniority  of love  and  honour among us.

 Tradition   attests    that    it  was   the   Holy   Apostle  Saint Andrew,  a  witness  of  the   light   of  the   resurrection   in Jerusalem,  the   patron    saint   of   the   Great   Church  of Constanlinople,  who first brought the Christian faith to this part of the World. The seed of the Gospel were shown and grew up here and there for the next several centuries.

But   it  is  to   the   sons   of  Thessaloniki    in  the   Byzantine Empire,   Saint   Cyril    and   Saint   Methodios,    Equal-to-the­ Apostles,    that    the   enduring    work    of   enlightening   the Slavic  lands   is credited.

With       the   conversion   of  the   Empress  Saint   Olga,   Equal­ to-the-Apostles,     history    took   a decisive  turn.    She  was the  attentive    grandmother     and   mentor    to   Prince   Saint Vladimir,  also    called     Equal-to-the-Apostles,  who  was the  Constantine     the    Great    of   the    peoples   of    Rus. Saint    Vladimir      eventually      threw       off      his     former paganism     to  embrace  the  Triune    God,   and  the  story   of the   visit    of   his   emissaries   to   Constantinople     is  justly famous.

There,    in  the   celebration    of   the   Divine    Liturgy     in  the Church     of   Hagia    Sophia,   the   emissaries   encountered heaven    on   earth,    and   so   not   just    the   faith,     but   the bright    culture    and  the  mind   of  Byzantium   came  to  Rus’.   This   faith,    culture  and  mind    have   profoundly    shaped and   formed     the   Christian   civilization    of   these      Slavic lands,    even   to   our   own   time,    and   have   given    you    a unity   that   transcends   the   many   ethnic    differences   that the     Orthodox      Church      in   this     part     of    the     world embraces.

Central     to   the    Byzantine   culture     and   mind    that    you have   inherited    is  the   attitude     that   we  find    in  many   of  the   Church   Fathers,   and   especially   in   Saint  Basil   the Great,   that    as  the   missionaries    brought   the   Gospel    to   new   lands,    instead    of   eradicating    the   culture    and   the practices     they    found,    they    Christianised      them.       Thus they  enfolded  the  soul  of the  people  of  Rus’  whom  they converted  into  the  life  of the  Church.

This was the God given genius of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodios, as well as of Saint Olga and Saint Vladimir, and it lies at the heart of the enduring witness of the Orthodox faith in these lands.

 As    we   re-count  the   extraordinary   blessings  that   this noble  Byzantine tradition  has given  to  the  Church here, on  this   anniversary we  also  remember the  many  trials that  the  Church  and  the   peoples of  these   lands   have  endured over   the   centuries.      The   memory  of  these trials,    some   of  them   still   fresh   for   many   of  us,  must not  make  us  forget   or  abandon our  original  inheritance of faith  and  culture.

Quite    the   contrary:     such   trials    must   send   us  back always  to   our   roots,    to   the   life-giving   wells    of   the spiritual  riches  of  the  Gospel and Tradition  that  sustain the   life   of   the   Church  in  all   its  vigour,    and   to  God himself.     As  Saint  Paul  says,  we  know   “that   suffering produces   endurance,     and      endurance  produces character,   and   character   produces   hope,    and   hope does   not   disappoint     us,  because    God’s   love  has   been-­ poured  into  our  hearts  through  the  Holy  Spirit  that  has been  given  to  us”,  (Rom.  5:3-5).

In  this   way ,  we   shall   live   and   present  to   others  an Orthodoxy  that   is  not  simply   a gift  to  us,  but  a gift  for  the  life  of the  world.

Let  us  remember  the  words   of  Our   Lord  Jesus  Christ  with  which  we  began:

You are  the  light  of the  world.

This   Patriarchal  concelebration    with   the  representatives of  all    the     Local    Orthodox     Churches    is   a   blessed challenge  to  us  all.     We do  not  simply   look  to  the  past; we  must   look   to  the  future,   for   Our  God  is  the  One “who  is  and  who was  and who  is  to  come”,   (Rev. 1:8).

 In  the   face   of  all  the   challenges  of  the   present  age,  from    poverty,  to   war,   to   violence,  to   discrimination, and  all  forms   of  division  and  inhumanity,  the  Orthodox Church has  a God-given apostolic  mission and  a moral obligation    to   witness   to   love,  reconciliation,    peace, unity, and  communion.     We are  called  to  be  the  light of  the   world    in  a  time   when   advancing  globalization makes   new   demands  on   us  all.  We  must,   as  the  Scriptures  say,  keep  alert   and  stand   firm   in  our  faith, be courageous, be strong,  doing  all things   in love, (cf.  1 Cor.  16: 13).

We cannot   shrink   from   being  alert  to this  mission to  be the  light   of  the  world.   We must  make  our  united   voice as   a   Church,   as   it   will    be   expressed  in   the   Pan­ Orthodox   Synod   for   which    we   all   fervently   pray,   a reality   not  for  our  own  sake  only,   but  for  the  integrity of the  ministry  of  the  Gospel.    We must   learn  to  live afresh   the  glory   of  Christianity  in  all  its  expressions  as they  are embodied  in the  divinely-inspired   Canons of the  Church.

In  our   own  day   many   Saint   Olgas   and   many   Saint  Vladimirs    come    to    us   looking    for    the    life-giving message of  the  Gospel,  but  they  go  away  disappointed. They  come   searching  for  the  Incarnate Light,   but  they find  only  shadows.   They  come  to  drink  from  the  water of  life,  but  they  cannot   get  near to the  fountain.

We  must    be  honest    with    ourselves   that   this   is  all  too often  true,  and we   must  be   careful  not  to   be   like  the Pharisees   against     whom     Our    Lord    gave    a   stern warning:    “Woe to   you …  for   you lock  people  out  of   the kingdom  of  heaven.    For  you  do  not  go  in yourselves,  and  when  others  are  going  in,  you  stop  them” ,  (Mt. 23:13).

 The  Church   is given  by God for  the  salvation  of  all,  and it   is   our   responsibility    to   ensure   that   the   gates   of salvation  are  held  open  to  all who  seek  “the  true  light, which   enlightens  everyone.”  (ln.  1:9).

Today     we    re-commit    ourselves   to    this    God-given mission. We  gather   here  in  the  shadow  of  this   holy  place, which   has  given   to   the   Church    and   to   these lands    saints,     martyrs,    startsy,   holy    bishops,    and  humble   monks,    who   were   in  their    generations,   and continue  to- be today,  the  edification  and consolation of  the  faithful,    and  lights  to the world.

They     pass   this   joyful    burden    on  to   us,   so  that   the saving Gospel    of    Our    Lord   Jesus    Christ     may    be  preached  to   the   ends   of  the   earth.   We  remember,  as Saint  John     Chrysostom     tells     us,    that     we   venerate    the  martyrs     most   genuinely,  when  we  imitate   their   virtues. May we never  shrink   from  this  vocation.

May   God   strengthen    us  in  this    mission  to   respond  with boldness   to   the commandment    of   Our   Lord  Jesus Christ  to   be  “the   light    of   the   world.”      And   may   the  Most   Holy   Mother   of   God,  the    Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary, Salnt  Cyril  and   Saint Methodios,  Saint Olga  and Saint  Vladimir,   and  the  many  saints  who  rest  here  in this holy Lavra, pray for  us, that we may walk in their footsteps   as the faithful   heirs  of  the  true  prom ises of Our  Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen”.

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III,

Patriarch of Jerusalem.




THE FEAST OF THE GATHERING OF THE APOSTLES IN TIBERIAS

On Saturday, the 30th of June/13rd of July 2013, the feast of the Gathering of the Twelve Holy Apostles was celebrated at the Holy Monastery dedicated to them, near the western shore of the Tiberian sea, at the centre of the present-day city of Tiberias. This Monastery was discovered on the ruins of an older Monastery, dated to the years of St Helena. At the Church of this Monastery, His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem officiated the divine Liturgy with the Very Reverend Kyriakos, Metropolitan of Nazareth, the Most Reverend Aristarchos, Archbishop of Constantina, Hegoumens of Monasteries in the vicinity of Tiberias, e.g. the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, Archimandrite f. Ilarion, the Holy Monastery of Cana in Galilee, Archimandrite f. Chrysostomos, presbyters of parishes in the region of Galilee and priest-deacons, with the pious participation of Russian-speaking and Arab-speaking faithful, hailing from Galilee and Accra, and amidst chants from the Choir of Accra-Ptolemais under Hegoumen Archimandrite f. Philotheos.  

To the pious congregation, His Beatitude preached the Word of God in Greek. An excerpt of his speech is cited here below:

“…As is well known, this day’s feast is an extension of the great feast in memory of Peter and Paul, the Heads of the Apostles. And this because just as the Prophets in the Old Testament, so too the Holy Apostles in the New Testament make up the foundation stone of the Church of Christ, indeed the cornerstone mentioned in the teachings of the wise Paul: having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2, 20-21).

In Arab, the speech may be read here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/07/13/2552

After the Divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen of the Holy Monastery, Archimandrite f. Timotheos received the guests at the Hegoumen’s quarters. The reception was followed by lunch serving fish from the Tiberian sea.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/a3N6cv1Hrww

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THE FEAST OF STS PETER AND PAUL, GLORIOUS HEADS OF THE APOSTLES, IN CAPERNAUM

On Friday the 29th of June/12th of July 2013, the feast of the glorious saints, Apostles Peter and Paul, was celebrated at the Church dedicated to them in Capernaum. The church, which invites admiration both outside and inside, was built by the late Damianos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, in 1935, on an archeological site with ruins of ancient Capernaum on the west bank of the Tiberian sea.

As is well known, the Lord taught in Capernaum and there performed many of His miracles, after he had left His birthplace of Nazareth. Of them he said: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee…” (Matthew 11, 21-24).

In this holy Church, His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem led the Diving Liturgy. Co-officiating were the Most Reverend Kyriacos, Metropolitan of Nazareth, the Elder Chancellor Aristarchos, Archbishop of Constantina, the Elder Sacristan Isidoros, Archbishop of Ierapolis, and priest-monks of the Holy Sepulcher, as well as the Hegoumen of the Monastery of the Apostles in Tiberias f. Timotheos, of the Monastery of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, f. Ilarion, the Hegoumen in Fhes, Archimandrite f. Ieronymos, presbyters from the Patriarchal Community in the region of Galilee and Accra and many faithful from the Patriarchate’s Arab-speaking, Greek-speaking and English-speaking flock, mainly from its northern jurisdiction, participating in piousness and devoutness.

During the Koinonikon of the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude preached the word of God to the pious congregation, an excerpt of which is cited here:

A joyful feast shone today over this holy biblical land of Capernaum, the most sacred memory of Sts Peter and Paul, carriers of the spirit and heads of the apostles. They are the sources of pride the benevolent God, the Father, offered to His Church. And this, as Peter became the stone of faith, and Paul the orator of Christ’s Ecumenical Church. The apostolic preaching of these two leading luminaries of the Church had as its source and point of reference the cornerstone of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, God and Saviour of the World, as attested in their epistles. Peter says: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him”, come closer and closer to the Lord, who is a stone of life and gives life, and though he was rejected of men who crucified him, before God he is special and honoured (1, Peter: 2-4). And Paul avows that: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3: 10-11) for none other may place a different cornerstone over the one now lying immovable and unshakable on the foundation of the construction, and this cornerstone is Jesus Christ.  

In Arab, the speech may be read here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/07/13/2555

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy and the procession, the diligent renovator of the Monastery, Hegoumen f. Eirinarchos invited everyone to a fish lunch.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/a3N6cv1Hrww

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THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM CONFERS GRADUATION TITLES AT THE SCHOOL OF REMLI

On the evening of Saturday the 23rd of June/5th of July 2013, the graduation ceremony was held at the School of Remli of the Rum Orthodox Community.

The School was founded twenty five years ago by the Greek Orthodox Community of Remli in the days of the late Diodoros, Patriarch of Jerusalem, with the Patriarchate’s moral and financial support.

Gradually, the School evolved into a Nursery School, an Elementary, a Gymnasium and a Lyceum numbering today 714 students and 60 teachers. Indeed, it is considered today one of the best in the city, with its students performing very well and succeeding at the exams for the University.

At the ceremony, His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, accompanied by the Right Reverend Isychios, Metropolitan of Kapitolias, the Most Reverend Aristarchos, Archbishop of Constantina, the Hegoumen at the Holy Monastery of Myrophorae in Remli, Guardian of the Holy Sepulcher, Archimandrite f. Nephon, conferred the titles upon 61 graduates and went on to address them in Arab, see: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/07/06/2530/

Also attending the ceremony was the Mayor of Remli, Mr Yoel Levy and the President of the Community and one of the school’s founders, Mr Michel Ksur.

From the Secretariat-General

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THE FEAST OF THE PROPHET ELISEUS IN JERICHO

On Thursday the 14th/27th June 2013, the feast of Prophet Eliseus was celebrated by the Patriarchate in Jericho, at the Church dedicated to St Eliseus the Prophet. The existence here of this holy church in the name of St Eliseus is explained by the fact that he, hailing from the town of Meouli in the region of the valley of the river Jordan, was active in the city of Jericho, too. One of the many miracles he had performed in divine power and fortification, was the transformation of the waters of a living spring in Jericho from bitter and deadly to sweet, drinkable and wholesome, to this very day.

From Jericho, the prophet Eliseus departed with his teacher, the Prophet Elias, and on the river Jordan he beheld him being taken up in a fiery chariot, whereupon he requested and received his grace and mantle, with which he crossed the river Jordan. The Holy Monastery dedicated to his name lies on the spot where according to tradition stood Zacchaeus’ sycamore tree.

To this Monastery came His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem on the morning of the aforementioned day, and led the divine Liturgy. Co-officiating were the Most Reverend Aristarchos, Grand Chancellor and Archbishop of Constantina; the Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan; Archimandrite f. Ieronymos from the Archbishopric of the Church of Cyprus; the Hegoumen of the Monastery of St Gerasimos of Jordan, Archimandrite f. Chrysostomos; the Hegoumen of the Holy Monastery of Hozeva, Archimandrite f. Constantinos; Archdeacon f. Athanasios and deacon f. Makarios and other Guardians of the Holy Sepulcher. Members of the Greek Orthodox Arab-speaking Community of Jericho and pilgrims from Jerusalem and other cities participated devoutly.

To the pious congregation, His Beatitude preached God’s word, an excerpt of which is cited here:

 Today’s feast of St Eliseus the Prophet coincides with the post-festive period of the Sacred and Great feast of Pentecost, namely the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of fiery tongues upon the disciples and apostles of God, Our Saviour Jesus Christ. This fact truly has a great significance, as on the illustrious day of Pentecost, the Holy Church of Christ was perfected, according to the words of the Holy Chrysostom.  

And this spirit is the Spirit of promise, and the completion of hope, in other words the Paraclete about whom the Lord said to his disciples: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (Jn 14, 16-17). “He will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning” (Jn 15, 26-27).

[…] This means that all Prophets through whom the truth of the Holy Triadic God was revealed to the world, as well as the Holy Disciples, through whom was preached the Gospel of Salvation, namely Christ, the Incarnate Word, across the entire world, comprise together with the martyrs of Christ’s love, the cornerstones on which is build the visible and invisible house of God, namely, the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ within which the great and indeed paradoxic sacrament of man’s salvation is performed”. […]

After the Liturgy, His Beatitude read the prayer of the saint’s kollyva [boiled wheat], blessed fruit, figs and graves and was received at the hegoumen’s quarters by the hegoumen, Archimandrite f. Philoumenos, who subsequantly offered lunch to the Patriarchal retinue and the congregation.

From the Secretariat-General

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