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THE CUTTING OF THE NEW YEAR CAKE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Wednesday evening, 31 December 2020 /13 January 2021, which is New Year’s Eve according to the Julian calendar, the Cutting of the New Year Cake took place at the Patriarchate.

This ceremony is held by the Church, for the beginning of each New Year on 1st January, as we also commemorate Saint Basil, to whom we owe the custom of the New Year Cake, as he put in it a coin as a token of charity, respecting the dignity of the poor.

This ceremony on New Year’s 2021 Eve was led by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, who addressed those present with the following:

“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2), Saint Paul preaches.

The New Year’s dawn has shone unto us today, like the light of those under the shadow of death, due to the coronavirus plague; for this reason, our Holy Church of Christ has gathered us all in this holy place of our Venerable Patriarchate, in order to give glory and thank the Holy Trinitarian God, who has given times and seasons in His own power (Acts 1:7). On the commemoration of the circumcision according to the flesh of the Son of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ on the one hand, and on the other, on the co-celebration of the commemoration of our Holy Father among the Saints, Basil the Great, in whose honour we have this ceremony of the cutting of the New Year Cake which bears his name “Vasilopita”.

The change of the year is a fact that marks the course of the worldly history of man, and much more of the sacred history, which finds its peak at the mystery of the Divine Providence, namely the Incarnation of God the Word, our Saviour Jesus Christ, during the reign of Caesar Augustus and Cyrenius, the Governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-2). For this reason, our Holy Church, according to the Biblical words: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, … To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:18-19), does not only celebrate this event but also calls upon the blessing of God the Father “for the year of the Lord”, saying: “Thou who art One with the Holy Spirit, Word without beginning and Son, the co-creator of all things visible and invisible, bless the crown of this year, preserving the crowds of the Orthodox faithful in peace, by the intercessions of the Theotokos and of all Thy saints”. By the Lord’s blessing, the year within the Church is transformed into a time of salvation according to the saying: “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

It is precisely this Biblical, or better say, this redeeming change of the year that we celebrate today. “But though the righteous be prevented with death, yet shall he be in rest. For honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by a number of years” (Wisdom of Solomon 4:7-8).

In other words, the distinguishment of time into the present, past and future, on the one hand, and its counting in years, on the other, is made understood only in Christ our God, according to the witness of Saint John the Theologian: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). And the mental, or philosophical consideration of time, cannot be determined, that is why Saint Peter says: “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” (2 Peter 1:16).

This means that time, which becomes a season in the Church of Christ, was given to us, so that we may become through faith “watchers of His majesty”, namely to become seers of God’s glory in His heavenly Kingdom. And Saint Basil the Great says: “In order that one may not try to find the beginning of the world and of time by the use of human thoughts, in order that one may not be led astray from the truth, God has put His seal (in the Book of Genesis), to protect the soul of man; God has given His precious Name to protect from such teaching (fallacy), saying that the beginning of the world and of the time was made by God. The blessed nature, the abundant goodness, the beginning of all beings, the source of life, the much-desired beauty, that is beloved by all the logical beings, the water, the light, the incomprehensible wisdom, He (God) made heaven and earth from the beginning”.

These God-inspired words of the established Church Father, Basil the Great, call all those who love “the much-desired beauty, the source of life, the noetic light, and also the unapproachable wisdom”, during this time of the change of the year and with the ongoing deadly plague of coronavirus, to consider, each one of us to himself, to what thing(s) we have gone astray, thus imitating the prodigal son, of the Gospel parable, who having come back to his senses, he thought: “I will arise and go to my father and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son…” (Luke 15:18-21).

Having before us the repentance of the prodigal son and the viewing of time in Christ, who became incarnate through the pure flesh of the Ever-Virgin Mary the Theotokos, let us entreat the great Hierarch of Cappadocia, Saint Basil, who has decorated the customs of the people, to pray to our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who was circumcised in the flesh, for the salvation of our souls, for the peace of the world, and especially for the peace of the tested Middle East, for the cessation of the schisms and the restoration of the unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, and for the release of the humankind from the various mutations of the coronavirus plague.

And let us say along with the hymnographer: Saviour of all, and master, creator and sovereign of the whole creation, by the prayers of the one who gave birth to Thee, grant peace to Thy world, keeping the Church always united. Moreover, Lord, Thou, Who has under Your power the times and the seasons, bless the crown of this year of Your goodness, preserving in peace and health the Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, our reverend Christian flock, the Holy City of Jerusalem and the noble nation of the Rum Orthodox. Amen.

Have a happy, blessed and healthy New Year 2021.

Many Happy Returns!”

After His Beatitude’s address, the Apolytikia of the Feast were sung and then with the wish of “A blessed and Happy New Year”, His Beatitude cut the Cake and distributed the pieces to the Hagiotaphite Fathers and to the few guests present, due to the covid-19 measures.

Afterwards, the Patriarchal School’s Students sang the carols at the Patriarchate Hall and at the houses of the Hagiotaphite Fathers.

From Secretariat-General




THE ADDRESS OF THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM TO THE PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL FOR THE NEW YEAR

The decades-long established meeting of the President of the State of Israel Mr Reuven Rivlin with the Heads of the Churches and Religious Institutions in the State of Israel, for the New Civil Year, 2021, took place on Wednesday, 17/30 December 2020.

This year, the meeting was held according to the covid-19 restrictive measures. His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos addressed the President Mr Rivlin on behalf of the Christians in the State of Israel as per below:

Jerusalem 30 December 2020

 

“Your Excellency, Mr President,

Respected Governmental Officials,

Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We wish to extend to you, Mr President, our greetings and best wishes for this holiday season, in which the Abrahamic faith traditions keep festivals of light and life. In this difficult time of the pandemic, during which so many are suffering both in the Holy Land and around the world, it remains incumbent upon us all to remain focused on the hope that this holiday season promises.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you, Mr President, for your steadfast support of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious character of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Your commitment to the well-being and integrity of the Christian presence is a real encouragement, especially as we face the ongoing challenges from those who do not understand the true nature of the Holy Land.

We have deeply appreciated the personal concern that you have shown us by speaking individually to each of the Heads of the Churches during this pandemic.

In this festive season of peace and goodwill, we remain convinced that the best possible roadmap for the future of the well-being of all our peoples here, is the way of dialogue and mutual respect. We share your concern, Mr President, about the increasing incidents of radical activity in the Holy Land, most recently at the Church of the Agony in Gethsemane. Yet, we are confident, that the challenges that we face can be resolved by proper dialogue, and we cannot relax our vigilance against those who wish to subvert the integrity of our common life, in which the three Abrahamic traditions may be allowed to co-exist and to flourish.

Our beloved Holy Land has suffered terribly during the pandemic. Many thousands of pilgrims cannot be with us, especially during this holiday season, and this is both a spiritual and economic hardship for us. And yet, we do not lose heart, and we trust in Almighty God to sustain us during this time. For it is written:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” (Psalm 45[46]: 1-3).

We are all looking forward in the New Year to a time of recovery and new life, in which our regular patterns of life will be restored, and our local communities, as well as those who come here on pilgrimage, may experience a more normal life once again. We welcome the encouraging news of new COVID vaccine.

We would like to make a special mention of the Office for Christian Communities and Mr Sezar Marjieh and his colleagues for their crucial efforts and co-ordination.

As we look to the future in the hope of this holy season, we take this opportunity, Mr President, to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May God bless you in your work on behalf of all the peoples of our beloved Holy Land.

Thank you.”

His Beatitude Theophilos III

Patriarch of Jerusalem




THE FEAST OF THE HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW THE FIRST-CALLED AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Sunday, November 30/ December 13, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the commemoration of the Holy and Glorious Apostle Andrew the First-called, at the Holy Monastery of the Cross in West Jerusalem, where according to the tradition, Lot planted the three-composed wood (from pine, cedar and cypress) which became the Cross that our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified upon.

In this historic Monastery, which hosted the Higher Education Theological School from 1845 to 1909, and Byzantine and Georgian Frescoes are still preserved in its Church, the Divine Liturgy for the feast was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos. Saint Andrew was born in Bethsaida of Galilee, and was Peter’s brother. He was called “First-called” because he was the first Apostle to follow the Lord when he heard Saint John the Baptist saying “behold the lamb of God”.   Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were their Eminences, Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias and Archbishop Philoumenos of Pella, Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, as the service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and a few faithful Christians.

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

“Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus… One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” (John 1: 35-37, 40).

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The power of the Sacred and Life-giving Cross of Christ our Saviour, has gathered us all in this Holy Shrine of the Monastery of the Cross, in order to celebrate the commemoration of the preacher of our faith, and the servant of the Divine Word, the Holy Apostle Andrew who was called ‘the first-called’.

The Holy Apostle Andrew, along with his brother Simon Peter were disciples of Saint John the Baptist, as Saint John the Theologian writes in his Gospel (John 1:35-37). When John the Baptist recognized Jesus after His baptism in the River Jordan, he pointed at Jesus to the two disciples that were with him, Andrew and John the Evangelist, and said: “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36), and they followed Jesus. “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, we have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:40-41).

The result of this event was that after the arrest of Saint John the Baptist by Herod, Peter and Andrew were called by the Lord, while they were by the sea of Galilee “casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matt. 4:18-20).

Interpreting the impulsive behaviour and the willingness of Andrew the first-called, and of his brother Peter, Saint John Chrysostom says: “Pay attention to their faith and obedience. For while they were in the middle of their work when He called them they neither postponed following Him, nor did they say in hesitation, ‘let us go back and talk to our relatives’, but leaving everything at once, they followed him.”

Of course, this faith in the “Lamb of God” was imprinted in Saint Andrew’s heart by the great preacher of the desert, and teacher of repentance, Saint John the Baptist, as his hymnographer says: “Thou who wast formed by the light of the Forerunner: when the hypostatic and divine Effulgence of the Father’s Glory appeared on earth, as having counselled with His compassion to save the race of men, then, O Andrew, thou was first to hasten unto Him, being illumined in heart and mind with the most perfect and gleaming splendour of His Divinity; wherefore, O glorious one, thou art become an Apostle and preacher of Christ our God. Do thou, therefore, entreat Him to enlighten and to save our souls” (Minaion, Vespers, sticheron 1).

Moreover, the transformation of the Apostles’ minds through John the Baptist’s Light, upon their meeting with the Lord, is expressed in Saint Peter’s teaching with the words: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:22-25).

In other words, my dear brethren, “the word which by the gospel is preached unto us” by Saint Andrew the first-called and Saint Peter, Christ’s friend, is the living word of God, namely the incorrupt life in Christ of those who love Christ, as witnessed by the incorrupt relics and the sacred head of our Holy and Glorious Apostle Andrew, that have been preserved since his martyr’s death.

This Holy Apostle, who was the first called, sealed the Gospel that was preached in many countries and places of the world, through his martyr’s blood, imitating the Passion of Christ until death, as his hymnographer states: “As the first-called of all the disciples’ choir, and the servant of the eye-witness of the Word, O Andrew, we honour thee with laudations, as is thy due; for with love and unwavering longing and strong desire, thou didst follow the Lamb that doth take the world’s sins away. And thou, O Apostle, didst partake of the Passion of Him that had willingly suffered death in the flesh for us. Wherefore we cry aloud to thee: Intercede with Christ our God that forgiveness of all their transgressions be granted to them that with longing keep thy holy memory” (Matins, Sessional hymns after Ode 3, Troparion 1).

Indeed, with sacred desire do we celebrate today the commemoration of the Holy Glorious Apostle Andrew, whose immense beauty of soul was foreseen by our Lord Jesus Christ and called him in the Apostolic office, revealing to Andrew that He is the Prophet and Messiah preached in the Law of Moses, the Saviour of the world, who was born by the Virgin in a cave in Bethlehem and was worshipped by the Wise Men.

We, my dear ones, are called by the all-lauded Holy Apostle Andrew today, during this Eucharist, this bloodless sacrifice, “to worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 96:6-7). Let us also entreat “the Lord to direct our hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5). Many happy returns and Merry Christmas, without the covid plague! Amen.”

After the Divine Liturgy, the good caretaker of the Monastery, His Eminence Philoumenos of Pella offered a reception for all, and at noon, he hosted a meal for the Patriarchal Entourage and the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem, Mr Evangelos Vlioras.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF THE HOLY HIEROMARTYR PHILOUMENOS THE HAGIOTAPHITE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Sunday, November 16/29, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the Holy Hieromartyr Philoumenos at the Nablus shrine of Jacob’s well in Samaria.

On this feast, the Church of Jerusalem commemorates the Holy Apostle Matthew along with Saint Philoumenos the Hagiotaphite. Saint Philoumenos came from Cyprus and having served as a Hagiotaphite in various shrines and in Jacob’s well, where he suffered a martyr’s death by an irreverent man in November 1979, and was canonized a Saint by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2009 (Meeting 50/11-9-2009).

For this feast, the Divine Liturgy was officiated on Sunday morning by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences; Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, the Hagiotpaphite Archimandrites; Elder Kamarasis Nectarios, the Hegoumen of Beit Jala Ignatios, the Hegoumen of Saint Gerasimos Chrysostomos, Arab-speaking Priests, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Byzantine singers of the neighbouring to the shrine Arab-speaking communities, as the service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and people from the neighbouring areas, without any pilgrims due to covid-19.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles” (Psalm 43:3) the psalmist says.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The Holy New-martyr Philoumenos the Hagiotaphite’s martyrdom for the light and the truth of Christ, has gathered us all today in the very place of his martyr’s blood, the biblical shrine of Jacob’s well, which is also the spring of the natural and spiritual water of the Samaritan Woman; we are here to celebrate the commemoration of the Saint and be found worthy of the grace of our God and Saviour Christ.

Longing for Christ, who sacrificed His life for the life of the world, Hieromartyr Philoumenos arrived in the Holy City Jerusalem from his country Cyprus, according to the prayer of Prophet David: “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles” (Psalm 43:3).

His joining the Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood made our Father Philoumenos a faithful friend and earnest zealot of Christ’s love. His ministry, in both the holy shrines and in the communities of our pious Christian flock of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, was distinguished by his fear of God as well as for the divine zeal of the preservation of the healthy faith and the unadulterated apostolic tradition, following Saint Paul’s words to his disciple Timothy: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so-called” (1 Timothy 6:20). “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).

During his pastoral ministry, our Holy Father Philoumenos never ceased to preach and act according to the redeeming word of the Gospel of our Saviour Christ, for the spiritual development of the Church flock, applying the Lord’s words: “Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19). And it was his preaching for Christ the Son of God that provoked the hatred and rage of his murderers, during Vespers inside the chapel of Jacob’s well, where the signs of his violent martyr’s death are still vivid, witnessing the event.

The martyr’s death of Saint Philoumenos was, in essence, a death of confession of Christ’s Name, before those who refuse Him, the Son of God, the Messiah of the world “that God hath raised from the dead” (Romans 10:9). Therefore, Philoumenos’s spirit, who completed his life in righteousness and faith, is placed in the chorea of the Confessors who have their eternal repose in the Kingdom of Heaven. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15), Saint John the Theologian preaches.

The fact that righteous Philoumenos became a confessor of faith is made clear since his martyrdom took place while he was chanting in boldness David’s psalm: “In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:10-11).

Our faith, my dear brethren, is totally based on the true witness of Saint John the Evangelist, according to which: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him, that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6).

In other words, Christ is the incarnation of the divine love, which is the reason of our salvation, namely of our liberation from the bonds of sin out of unfaithfulness in Jesus Christ, Who says: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he has come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:7-11).

To our question, ‘who is the prince of this world’ Saint Paul replies in his letter to the Thessalonians: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:3-4).

We were saved from the ‘prince of this world’ by the One Who loves us, Jesus Christ, through His sacred redeeming and martyr’s blood, according to Saint John’s testimony: “Unto him, that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6). Our Holy Father Philoumenos, a Priest of God, became a participant and a communicant of the Kingdom of God, through his blood. “The Martyr’s death is a comfort for the faithful, boldness for the Churches, the composition of Christianity, abolition of death, proof of the resurrection, demon’s ridicule, devil’s accusation, the teaching of philosophy….and the root of every good work,” Saint Chrysostom says.

As for us, who honour the Hieromartyr Philoumenos, who has boldness before Christ our God, let us entreat him along with the Most Blessed Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and all his co-martyrs and Saints, that they may pray for our souls, and for the protection of the whole world from the covid-19 plague. Amen. Many happy returns and a blessed Christmas-fasting period.”

After the Divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen and owner of the magnificent Church of Saint Foteini the Samaritan Woman, Archimandrite Ioustinos offered a fasting meal.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF THE SYNAXIS OF THE ARCHANGELS AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Saturday, November 9/21, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel at the Holy Monastery dedicated to Archangel Michael which is located near the sea in the ancient town of Joppa /Yaffo.

On this feast, the Church gathers for the Synaxis of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel and commemorates the event that these Bodiless Hosts, the Chiefs of the Angels, fought against Lucifer when the latter opposed God, and prevented with God’s help the other Angels’ fall, by saying “Stand firm”. The Church holds the belief of the testimony in the Holy Bible, both in the Old and in the New Testament, by which the Archangels and all the Angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

According to the New Testament, Archangel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Angels sang on the Nativity of the Divine Infant “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace…”, Angels informed Joseph in his sleep to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s fury, and Angels summoned him back from Egypt to Nazareth so that the Lord would be called “Nazarene”.

This feast was celebrated in this Holy Monastery with the Divine Liturgy which was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences; Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, the Archbishops; Damascene of Joppa, Aristarchos of Constantina and Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, with first in rank Archimandrite Elder Kamarasis Nectarios, the Archimandrites; Niphon and Artemios, the ministering Priests of the Church from the Arab-speaking Community,  Priest Konstanti and the ministering Priests of the Russian-speaking and Romanian-speaking Community, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Community choir in Arabic, as the Service was attended by faithful Christians of the Arab-speaking Community, as well as Russians and Romanians, along with the Ambassador of Greece in Tel Aviv Mr Panayiotis Sarris and the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem, Mr Evangelos Vlioras.

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

“But to which of the angels said he at any time, sit on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14) Saint Paul preaches.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

Today the grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us in this Church of the Chiefs of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, in the historic and Biblical town of Joppa (Yaffo), in order to praise in Eucharist and Doxology the bodiless Angelic forces, who surround God’s immaculate throne, and cry out unceasingly to Him ‘Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou God Almighty’, as Prophet Isaiah says: “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain, he covered his face, and with twain, he covered his feet, and with twain, he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

And according to the Evangelist John’s testimony; “Jesus answered and said unto Nathanael, verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:51). “As the genuine Son of God, the Angels were ascending and descending upon Him, ministering Him,” Zigavinos says. Quite important is also the interpretation of Saint Cyril of Alexandria regarding the Angels’ liturgical ministry: “Upon the Son of man, serving and ministering Christ’s orders for the salvation of His future believers. For while He is Son of God, it is then [in the future] that He should be recognized as Son of God by nature”.

Very clear is also the Holy Evangelist Luke’s testimony regarding the Angels: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2-8-14).

Moreover, the Angels have as their mission the protection and help of the people, for the sake of their salvation, as Saint Paul preaches: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Interpreting these words, Saint John Damascene says: “see the boldness of the Angels, that the Lord sits high above and the Angels minister Him from down below”. And Saint John Chrysostom says: “The Angels’ ministry is to serve God for our (the people’s) salvation…They are servants of God and are sent to many places for our sake”. In other words, the Angels care for the salvation of each one of us.

In today’s Apostolic reading, Saint Paul underlines the diligence we faithful should display, in order to achieve our salvation: “For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him”(Hebrews 2:2-3). In more detail, if every disobedience of the Law, which God announced to Moses through the Angels was justly punished, how are we going to escape the punishment if we neglect such a great and significant salvation? This salvation was not spoken through the Angels like it was done in the case of the Law, but once it started being preached by the Lord, it was handed over to us, a certain and reliable testimony by the Apostles who had heard everything directly from Christ’s mouth.

And the temporary Bishop Joel of Pella is wondering: “what do we mean by the word ‘salvation’? We mean man’s rescue; the man who is made according to the likeness of God was tarnished, for this reason, it was necessary for Christ to come to earth, to wash clean the likeness and guide man towards his perfection. Salvation is the rescuing of man and his union with God. “Nothing is more sought after and more studied by God than the salvation of our souls”, Saint Chrysostom writes. Saint Peter also says this: “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).

Underlining man’s value and of course that of his soul, Saint Paul borrows the Psalmist’s words: “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands” (Hebrews 2:7/ Psalm 9:6).

Needless to say, that the Angels are superior to the humans, because they are not mortals, and they are not described as having a bodily form, Saint John Damascene says. “Because they are not mortals. They are noetic beings and are found in noetic places, they are not described as having a bodily form, but being and acting in a noetic manner…just as they have been ordained by the Creator, and in that form, they protect and help us; they are around God, working the Divine will and orders for our sake in all manners”.

Behold, therefore, why the Holy Church of Christ especially honours and venerates the Synaxis of the Angels, which is led by Michael, the Chief Brigadier of the bodiless hosts. Let us then say along with the hymnographer: “Angels and Archangels, Thrones, Authorities, and Dominions, Principalities and Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim, together with the Theotokos, make entreaty in the world’s behalf” (Minaion, Matins, 1st Canon of Ode 9, Troparion 2). Amen. Many happy returns!”

The Divine Liturgy was followed by a reception and then a meal, hosted by the renovator of the Monastery Most Reverend Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, who also re-constructed the Holy Church of Archangel Michael after it its destruction by fire in 1956.

The feast of the Archangels was also celebrated at their Holy Monastery, opposite the Patriarchate, on the south side.

Vespers in the afternoon and the Divine Liturgy in the morning were officiated by the renovator of the Holy Church Most Reverend Archbishop Demetrios of Lydda, with co-celebrants; Elder Dragoman Archimandrite Mattheos, Archimandrite Demetrios and Hierodeacon Simeon. The chanting was delivered by Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos and the Patriarchal School of Zion Students, with the help of the Choir Leader of the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen Archimandrite Eusevios.

After the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence offered a reception at the courtyard of the Church.

From Secretariat-General

 

 

 




THE FEAST OF THE HOLY GREAT MARTYR GEORGE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Monday, November 3/16, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the translation of the relics of the Great Martyr George the Trophy-bearer, at the Church dedicated to him in Lydda.

On this feast, the Church commemorates the translation of the sacred relics of Saint George, and its return from Rome, where he suffered a martyr’s death, to Lydda, his mother’s hometown.

On this day the Church also celebrates the inauguration of the Holy Church dedicated to Saint George in Lydda, which was built by Saint Helen during the decade of A.D. 326-336.

The Divine Liturgy at this Church was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants; Their Eminences Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis and Damascene of Joppa, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, among whom the Archimandrites Nectarios and Niphon, Arab-speaking Priests, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Byzantine music singers of the Community and the service was attended by quite a few faithful, despite the Covid-19 measures.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to the congregation:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”(Romans 8:38-39); “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”(Phil. 1:21), Saint Paul preaches.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The grace of the mystery of reverence, namely of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, has gathered us all in this holy place of the sensible worship, in order to celebrate the commemoration of the great martyr George the trophy-bearer and imitator of the Lord’s passion.

The faithful friend of the Lord, George, has a prominent place among the chorea of the martyrs of the Church, and this is because, according to Saint Andrew of Crete, he became a fruitful vine of the true vineyard, whose farmer is the heavenly Father, cultivating for us through Him the spiritual bliss, for the healing of our passions and the regeneration of our souls and bodies.

And which is the true vineyard? It is Christ who said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman” (John 15:1). Interpreting this verse, Saint Cyril of Alexandria says: “You may precisely understand that the Father feeds us to reverence through the Son in the Holy Spirit; He farms us again, namely He watches over and visits us and looks after our improvement making us worthy for it, through the Son in the Holy Spirit…so that no one may think that we only have the care of the Son, for He has God the Father as a co-worker, calling Himself the vineyard whose vines give life and the ability to bear fruit, while He calls God the Father a farmer”. And he adds: “Christ does not say that His flesh is the vineyard, but rather His divinity…neither does He say that the fruit of the holy ones is carnal, rather, it is spiritual”.

Indeed, the martyr George became a vine of Christ from Whom he received “life and the ability to bear fruit”. Since his early childhood, George paid heed to Saint Paul’s words: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). For this reason, Saint Theodore of the Studion says in his hymn: “Let us spiritually acclaim, O Brethren, the noetic adamant of patient endurance, the celebrated Martyr George, who was assayed by the fire for the sake of Christ, perils forged him, torments tempered him, and diverse tortures destroyed his body, which was corruptible by nature. For longing conquered nature, persuading the lover to pass through death to the Beloved, even Christ God, the Saviour of our souls” (Minaion April 23, Glory of Vespers Aposticha).

The son of a rich and noble family in Cappadocia, George served in the Roman army as a grand commander during Diocletian’s reign (A.D. 284-305). In the year 303 an imperial decree was issued and mercilessly executed by Diocletian and his colleague Caesar Galerius against the Christians. Many of the greatest martyrs of our Church were crowned during this last relentless persecution.

Saint George did not only boldly proclaim himself a Christian but also exposed the vanity of the idols and ridiculed the emperor and those who believed in the instruments of the demons, namely the idols.

The martyr of the love of Christ did this, paying heed on the one hand to the words of wise Solomon: “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee” (Proverbs 4:25), and on the other hand, to the words of Christ: “But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony” (Luke 21: 12-13).

The above words of the Lord refer to the Apostolic preaching of the Gospel, but also to those who suffered a martyr’s death shedding their blood for the sake of the Christian truth. According to the established interpreter Zigavinos, the phrase “for a testimony” means “for a way of testing, so that they may not say afterwards that they have not heard the preaching”. “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin” (John 15:22), the Lord says.

The blessed George, my dear brethren, belongs to the chorea of the great martyrs of the Church. And this is because with his martyr’s blood, the great Athlete George confirmed the resurrection of Christ and sealed the truth of the Christian faith. In other words, blessed George sacrificed himself preaching “the Son of Man” (Matt. 8:20), who inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven with His Passion on the Cross. This is precisely the contribution of Saint George, that he testified the testimony of Him, who “for this cause came into the world, that He should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).

George’s testimony through his blood for the sake of the truth in Christ made him a communicant of the passion and death of Christ, and for this reason, the Holy Great Martyr received the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8) and the completion of his sanctification (Hebrews 1:14). He became, according to Saint Paul, “planted together in the likeness of his [Christ’s] death” (Romans 6:3-5). “This man as a brave soldier bravely defied the tyrants and put them to shame, becoming an imitator of Christ the Saviour’s passion. Unto his own clay vessel, he showed no mercy, but cast it naked into the forge, transforming it by means of torments. Let us cry out to him: O prize-winner George, make entreaty that our souls be saved” (Minaion April 23, Glory of praises).

The Saints, and especially the Martyrs of Christ are given a great honour and relevant worship, because they managed the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in their mortal bodies, as Saint Paul teaches very clearly: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11). The Great Martyr George was also a vessel of the Holy Spirit and therefore he enjoys the “crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4) and intercedes to God for all those who pray to him.

Behold, therefore, once more, let us say along with the hymnographer: Great Athlete George, beseech God the Father to save our souls, and You, Mother of God, Most Blessed Theotokos, intercede to your Son and God for all of us. Amen. Many happy and blessed returns, free from COVID-19.”

After the Divine Liturgy, the good keeper of the Monastery Hegoumen Archimandrite Nicodemos hosted a reception and a meal for the Patriarchal Entourage, the caretakers of the Church and the choir members.

The commemoration of Saint George was also celebrated at the Holy Monastery of Saint George of the Hospital with the Divine Liturgy which was led by the Hegoumen of Saint George in Acre, Archimandrite Philotheos, under the hospitality of the good keeper of the Monastery, Nun Pansemni.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES THE BROTHER OF GOD AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Thursday, October 23 / November 5, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of the Holy Apostle James the Brother of God.

On this Feast, the whole Church, and especially the Church of Jerusalem commemorates Saint James, son of Joseph the Betrothed, and brother of the Lord according to the law (according to Matthew 13:55; “His brothers were James and Joses and Simeon and Jude”). Saint James was ordained by the Lord as the First Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem, as his Troparion also states, “The Word of God, the Father’s Only-begotten, came down and dwelt here in our midst in these last days. He then appointed thee as the first shepherd of all-holy Jerusalem, and He made thee her teacher and a faithful steward of lofty spiritual mysteries. (Kontakion of the Saint, Menaion).

The Church also commemorates him as the writer of the Epistle bearing his name in the New Testament, and as the Chairman of the First Apostolic Synod in Jerusalem in A.D. 49, with a significant role in its outcome, which was that the gentiles were henceforth accepted in the Church without circumcision, with no need to keep the Law of Moses, but their abstinence “from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood”(Acts 15:20).

According to Josephus’ witness, Saint James was thrown down from the pinnacle of the Temple of Solomon by the Jews, because he confessed that Jesus is the Christ.

Saint James’ commemoration was celebrated by the Patriarchate at his Holy Church which is located between the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with Vespers in the afternoon at the presence of His Beatitude. The Divine Liturgy in the morning of the Feast was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences; Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, the Archbishops Aristarchos of Constantina and Secretary-General, and Theodosios of Sebastia, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, as well as Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, the representative of the Russian MISSIA Archimandrite Dometianos, Archdeacon Mark, and the Cathedral ministering Priests, Fr. Farah/Charalambos Bandour and Fr. Hader/ George Baramki, and Priest Simeon from Nazareth.

The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos in Greek on the right and Mr Rimon Kamar in Arabic on the left. The Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded… Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:8-10) Saint James the Brother of God preaches.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us all in this Cathedral of Saint James, in order to glorify in Eucharist, the festive commemoration of the First Hierarch on the throne of Jerusalem, the Holy preacher of the Church who is called Just and Brother of God.

According to Apostle Paul’s witness, Saint James was considered “the pillar of the Church” (Gal. 2:9), and also a “Master” of great status, as revealed by his Epistle: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8), James advises us, obviously following the Lord’s words: “look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28); Take courage, for your salvation and full redemption from the suffering of the current life, is close.

Indeed, my dear Brethren, we live in times that demand the urgent exercise of the good works and actions in Christ, as Saint Paul says: “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:11-12).

Interpreting these words, Saint Chrysostom says: “cast off” means to renounce the phantasies, to set ourselves free from the dream-like state of the current life, cast off the deep state of sleep”. In other words, the works of sin are works of the darkness, because they come from the darkened state of ignorance and fallacy. And Zigavinos says: “Let us put on the works of light, those of the day, armouring ourselves with every virtue here on earth…, which will make us glad and luminous there”. In other words, Christ’s friends are soldiers among various and dangerous visible and invisible enemies. The Christians’ life is a life of struggle and fighting and for this reason, they should not be considered defenceless and naked, because they bear the armour of Christ’s light.

“Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:9). According to the interpreters, the heart is the seat of the motives and the predispositions. For this reason, our hearts should become straightforward and sincere, free from every hypocrisy, having as their only concern to be pleasing to God.

Interpreting the words: “purify your hearts, ye double minded”, Ecumenius writes: “[The Apostle] calls “double-minded” those who do not live according to a specific manner, but are influenced and led astray by the deceit of the people. They do not follow one way living in the house of the Lord”. And Saint Theophylaktos says: “But they are always led and influenced by the violence of the people”.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). Humble yourselves before God and He will lift you up in this present life through virtue and moral perfection, while in the future life, through His eternal glory and beatitude, Saint James teaches: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). This was said by Solomon, according to Saint Chrysostom, not to state that God is in need of engaging into a battle with the proud person, but “in order to show the intensity of His revulsion toward the proud”.

Indeed, God detests the proud because, according to Saint John of the Ladder, “pride is God’s denial, the forerunner of insanity and God’s rival”. And he adds: “I heard a respectable man saying: ‘Suppose the passions of dishonesty are twelve. If one of them, pride, is the one you will love with all your heart, it will replenish the place of the remaining eleven”.

This teaching of Saint James applies not only to the Christians but to all those who love God, “Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), according to Saint Paul. Behold therefore why the hymnographer praises Saint James by saying: “The Word of God, the Father’s Only-begotten, came down and dwelt here in our midst in these last days. He then appointed thee as the first shepherd of all-holy Jerusalem, and He made thee her teacher and a faithful steward of lofty spiritual mysteries. For this cause, as is meet, O wondrous James, O blest Apostle, we all praise and honour thee” (Kontakion of the Saint, Menaion).

The Church of Jerusalem rejoices and is glad on this festive commemoration of James the Brother of God, it’s First Hierarch and Patron Saint, because, having received the Apostolic ordination by the Lord Himself, he became the founder of the synodical and institutional character in the Holy Spirit of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. And he sealed the apostolic ministry, which was appointed to him in “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), with the blood of his martyr’s death.

Being a true, faithful and living witness of this sacred consignment of Saint James the Brother of God, the Christian flock in the Holy Land stands firm, along with its spiritual and ecclesiastical Authority, the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, which resolutely follows the advice of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), and you “should not depart from Jerusalem”(Acts 1:4), as well as Saint James’ prompt: “Be patient, therefore, brethren… stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:7-8). And let us say along with the hymnographer: “Thou wast the Lord’s blessed brother when He came in the flesh, and His divine disciple and the faithful eyewitness of His divine mysteries; and fleeing with Him into Egypt, thou ever wast with Jesus’ Mother and Joseph. Therefore, with them intercede thou that our souls be saved”. Amen. Many happy returns, free from the coronavirus plague!”

The Divine Liturgy was followed by the return to the Patriarchate Reception Hall, and the distribution of the small loaves of bread by the responsible for the Bakery, Abbess Seraphima. At the Hall, His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:

“Thee the son of Joseph and first Hierarch of Jerusalem, James, seer of God and brother of the Lord, we praise and bless” the hymnographer of the Church proclaims.

Your Excellency, Consul General of Greece, Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Christ’s Church and especially the Church of Jerusalem rejoices today on the commemoration of the Holy glorious Apostle and Martyr James the Brother of God, the first to honour the Episcopal Throne, namely its Seat of the Liturgical and Divine Eucharistic gathering.

Saint James, who was also called James the Just, was ordained a Bishop by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, thus becoming the first shepherd, Hierarch of Jerusalem, teacher and faithful servant of the spiritual sacraments. That is why he also received the Apostolic office.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 104), praising the institutional significance of the episcopal office for the Church, speaks about “a primate bishop in the place of God” and a point of unity. “Learn to do everything by the primate bishop who stands in the place of God…let there be nothing in you able to divide you; but be united in the bishop, obeying God through him in Christ” (to Magn. 6).

Moreover, David chants, “God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness” (Psalm 47:8). The Only-begotten Son and Word of God sits upon this holy throne in His Church, with the Holy Apostles sitting along with Him, who, together with the angelic forces unceasingly offer doxology to God, which is a prototype of the earthly doxology; that is why there is a specific order which composes everything in both the heavenly and the earthly Church.

James the Brother of God became a great minister of the ecclesiastical throne of the city of King Christ, and through his martyr’s blood, he sealed the apostolic succession throughout the ages for each one of the Primates of the Bishops and Patriarchs of the throne, at the place of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ, Who is the Head of the body of the Church (Col. 1:18).

Our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, following Saint Paul’s advice: “keep that which is committed to thy trust” (1 Tim. 6:20), went down to Saint James Cathedral, where we celebrated the Patriarchal Liturgy, for the glory of the Holy Trinitarian God and in honour of our Father among the Saints James the Brother of God, with the participation in prayer of the pious Christians and pilgrims in Jerusalem.

Let us then say along with the psalmist: “His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven” (Psalm 89: 36-37).

Saint James, Brother of God, the pillar of the Church, intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls, for the peace of our region and preserve this Patriarchal throne of Jerusalem unto the ages. Amen. Many happy returns!”

Concluding the reception, His Beatitude returned the keys of Saint James Cathedral to its Caretakers, according to the tradition.

From Secretariat-General

 




THE FEAST OF THE NATIONAL ANNIVERSARY OF OCTOBER 28, 1940 AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Wednesday, October 15 / 28, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the National Anniversary of October 28, 1940.

On this Feast the whole Church and that of Jerusalem commemorate our nation’s sufferings; persecutions, exile, group executions and starvation, caused by the German and Italian atrocities, during their occupation in our country, in World War II (1940-1944). The Church prays for the repose of the souls of the fighters who devoted their lives in the defence of their country, and thanks God and the Most Holy Theotokos for their help in our regaining the precious gift of freedom.

This event was celebrated at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with a Doxology led by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences the Archbishops of the Throne and Hagiotaphite Hieromonks. The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos, as the Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evaggelos Vlioras and members of the Greek Community.

The Service of Doxology was followed by the return at the Patriarchate Headquarters where His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:

“Your Excellency Consul General of Greece Mr Evaggelos Vlioras,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Brethren in Christ

The great epic of 1940 is portrayed on today’s anniversary of the “No” of 28th October, which was the answer to the provoking arrogance of the Fascist and Nazi forces of the German-Italian axis.

The 1940 “No” of Greece is a landmark of self-sacrifice for the defence of moral values, and love for the country, to safeguard the national independence and our territorial integrity. And this is so, because, undeniably, the heroic resistance against Hitler’s armed forces was the victory of the spirit over material things, of freedom over slavery, of right against the unrighteousness of the modern civilization, of the barbarity, and finally, of Christ’s light over the darkness of the devil, as Saint Paul wisely phrases: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

World War II and its consequences showed that the contemporary technologically advanced man “did not want to come to reason”, meaning that he did not try to set himself free from his primitive beastly behaviour.  “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

And we say this because the super-human fighting spirit of the Greeks against the axis was inspired by the faith in the Crucified and Resurrected Christ.  Rightly it was then said that the 28th October epic was the miracle of the faith in God.

Our venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, honouring, as it should, this historic event of “1940 No” and wholeheartedly participating in this victorious commemoration of freedom and of the steadfast resistance against the obnoxious occupational forces of Nazism, went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to the Trinitarian God, despite the restrictive measures of the Corona Virus plague.

Moreover, we prayed for the eternal repose of the souls of all our fathers and brothers who fought gloriously and suffered a martyr’s death for their faith and country and for freedom.

Our Holy Church of Jerusalem, replying to the various challenges of the world and of our tested region of the Middle East, projects October 28 as an example of inspiration and hope, as Saint Paul’s advice says: “ Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”(Galatians 5:1).

For all these, let us raise our glasses to a toast and exclaim:

Long live the 28th October 1940!

Long live the “NO”!

Long live Greece!

Long live the noble nation of the Rum Orthodox!

Long live our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood!”

His Beatitude’s address was followed by that of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evaggelos Vlioras, as per below:  

“Your Beatitude,

Most Reverend Archbishops,

Reverend Fathers,

Dear Children,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

National anniversaries are milestones, occasions for reflection, which in the course of time bring back to our minds the events that have forged the collective historical memory of Greeks everywhere.

In every historical period, there is a pole, a historical event that marks it, and it becomes a point of reference for all of us later. The struggle of 1940 is this landmark for the modern history of Hellenism, a central point of reference and a symbol for the whole Nation.

Therefore, at that time, as in any difficult time, there were many who surpassed themselves, “Or who came out of their skin”, to use the phrase of Iakovos Kampanellis, and showed heroism, beyond what we call “duty”. Ordinary, everyday people, who suddenly found themselves in the forefront of history, without asking to become heroes and yet received a “glorifying myrtle” responding, every single one of them, to the call, without fear, without hesitation, marking history and life in Greece and in Hellenism in general.

If life is measured more by the burning heart than by the duration, if the candle that shines brighter lasts the least, then we can all be proud of the mature life of those who sacrificed themselves in the icy mountains of Epirus, in the Fortresses of Macedonia, in the waters of the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, in the Middle East and throughout the resistance to the triple occupation of our country by the forces of darkness.

The Battle of Greece, which lasted a total of 216 days from the NO on October 28 until the fall of Crete on June 1, 1941, caused worldwide sensation and admiration, spreading hope and making the hearts of the peoples of occupied Europe, who lived the night of the occupation, to take courage. The magnitude of the sacrifice of the Greeks during World War II is easily understood if we consider that Greece lost almost 10% of its population of 7.5 million.

It is, therefore, a special honour for the Consul General of Greece to address the Hellenism of the Holy Land and especially the young people on this special day of remembrance and pride.

Eighty years after this historic day we remember and pay tribute to the heroic heirs of the Homeland, to all those who fought the relentless beast of fascism and Nazism, to all those who made the supreme sacrifice, on the battlefields or in front of the firing squad, so that we can live free today.

To all those who with feelings of patriotism and self-denial, according to the play writer, “pushed the time for good towards peace and freedom. A freedom that seemed so wide to them”.

We pay tribute to both the mothers and wives who endured while waiting, to the children who were orphaned or lost due to hunger and misery.

The Greek NO clearly and unequivocally demonstrated the deep historical conscience of the Greeks that dictated their refusal to forget their history and to live in compromise and submission.

In this national ordeal, the Sun of Righteousness did not forget Greece.

In this historical moment, as in any other nationally difficult circumstance, the dynamic participation of Hellenism anywhere in the world was valuable, for which Greece is proud and grateful.

The impact of the 1940 Struggle was shocking on Holy Land as well. More than 40 Greeks from Jerusalem voluntarily joined the Greek Armed Forces while two of them gave their lives for Greece.

The Sailor Electrician Anestis Zografos was lost in the sinking of the Katsoni Submarine in Skiathos on September 14, 1943, while the Sailor Engineer Emmanuel Mykonos was killed during the impact of a missile of the Adria Destroyer in Kalymnos on October 22, 1943. The bones of the latter as well as 20 of his other comrades-in-arms, which were buried in a makeshift grave in Turkey, were transported to Greece in 1947 and deposited in the ossuary of the Monument to the Fallen of our Navy.

Today, as then, the venerable Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, with their long and multifaceted contribution to the Holy Land and the highest pastoral work, remain, as a key point of reference, guardian of the moral and spiritual values ​​of our Orthodox faith.

Our Patriarchate of Jerusalem testifies to the timelessness of the dynamic presence of the Greek and Orthodox tradition in the Middle East. Its high mind and struggles, under adverse conditions, until today, are for all of us an invaluable national capital but also a source of inspiration and encouragement.

For all of us, the national anniversary messages are only useful if they guide our steps today.

Especially nowadays, Greece is called upon to face a series of challenges to our national integrity, sovereignty and sovereign rights from Evros to the ends of the Aegean, to our land and sea borders and to our sea zones. The Armed Forces give every day the answer that befits modern arrogance, on land, sea and air.

Let me assure you that the common meaning we all derive from the NO of October 28, 1940, strengthens the strong will of the Greeks to maintain the freedom, independence and integrity of the homeland, knowing full well that the price of freedom is always high, and that our country is blessed because there are always those who will willingly pay this price.

With these thoughts I call on all of us to exclaim:

Long live the 28th of October 1940!

Long live the Nation of the Greeks!”

This was followed by the Arabic translation of His Beatitude’s address, by the Patriarchate’s Representative in the Arabic M.M. Father Issa Mousleh, and finally, of the address of the Managing Director of the Patriarchal School of Zion, Elder Dragoman Archimandrite Mattheos, as per below:

“Today we celebrate and recall in our memory one of the most beautiful, most brilliant, and most glorious moments of the Greek Nation. The thought of all of us today turns with sacred emotion, justified pride and infinite admiration to the great day of October 28, 1940. On that day, 80 years ago, the cannon sounded in the mountains of Northern Epirus and the whole of Greece paid its duty to the Homeland, a debt that is not transferable and everyone repays it by himself alone.

The Greek nation did not kneel in fear at that time. But like every time in history, it stood upright on its saddle and proved in the best way its love for the Homeland, a love without limits, since it puts the universality of its existence in the service of the Homeland. A love that reaches the contempt of death and the emergence of heroism that the modern world had not seen until then. And for this reason, the world looked closely and expressed its admiration in amazement, watching the triumphs of a small nation against a great power. And this is because everyone knew and knows that war, wants courage, it wants chests and arms, hearts that can bear the pain and endure the calamity. War wants strong people, who can rebuild from the beginning, everything that it [war] tore down and ruined in front of them. War wants determination, on the part of the fighters, in order to turn it into a holocaust, so that they can sustain the liberty of all things they consider sacred and holy.

For as the poet says:

Here no one fears death but everyone longs to hear his name, riding on a horse, leaving on foot, here there is no place, neither for death nor for the fear of entering the tomb (Free translation, Poem by C. Palamas: The country that does not die).

October 28, 1940, is a new milestone in the history of our long-suffering Homeland, our thrice-glorious Greece. On that day, a new period of heroism and sacrifice of the Greek race began, for the preservation of its freedom and independence. With the protection of our Most Gracious Theotokos, the Greeks climbed like the eagles on the snow-covered, steep and inaccessible mountain peaks of northern Epirus, leaving friends and enemies open-mouthed.

Brilliant glory then crowned our Homeland, which despite the difficulties, continues to cover Greece with laurels.

Today, “the times are not waiting; we must take action”. Clouds are gathering over our Homeland and some, just like the beasts of the Book of Revelation, have opened their mouths and gnash their teeth, wanting to frighten this small country by showing their great power; but they forgot or did not understand, that the Greeks, with their wonderful achievements, proved that in the fight for freedom, for the defence of altars and hearths, it is not the irons and the numbers that win, but the heart and the courage.

And as the poet says about the indestructible sprout of the Greeks:

I shall not be lost in the depths of the earth, I only stop for a while, I come back to life and make the nations rise! (Free translation, Poem by C. Palamas, Digenis and Charon).

Let us turn our thoughts at this time to all those who fought then, and sacrificed their lives for the freedom and the benefit of the Homeland, and offer them, as a minimum tribute, our admiration and gratitude, and assure them, that in the difficult times of our Homeland, their example will guide us and strengthen our will, so that we may become worthy successors of the bright and glorious struggles of the children of 1940 “.

The celebration was sealed with patriotic songs and our National Anthem by the Patriarchal School of Zion Students.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF THE RETURN OF THE RELICS OF SAINT SAVVAS THE SANCTIFIED AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Monday, October 13/26, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of the return of the sacred relics of our Holy Father Savvas the Sanctified.

On this Feast the Church of Jerusalem commemorates the event of October 13/26, 1965, when it received the relics of Saint Savvas the Sanctified back from Venice, where the Crusaders had taken it.

The church of Jerusalem asked for the return of the Saint one year after the lifting of the ´anathemas´ of 1050, in the year 1964, and after the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and of Pope John Paul VI in the Holy Land. In order to escort the relics, a Delegation from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem went to Venice, members of which were the memorable Metropolitans Vasilios of Caesarea, and Germanos of Petra, the memorable Spiritual Father of the Monastery of Saint Savvas Archimandrite Seraphim, the memorable Hegoumen of the Monastery of Martha and Mary in Bethany, Archimandrite Theodosios, and the then Deacon – and at present – Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth.

The welcoming reception of the sacred relics was held at Jaffa Gate in much joy, gladness and thanksgiving, and from there, it was taken to the Catholicon of the All-Holy Church of the Resurrection for a week-long veneration, to conclude to his Holy Monastery founded by Saint Savvas himself, and where it is kept ever since, as a treasure of a fountain of power, and every kind of help.

For the commemoration of this event on the aforementioned date, an All-night Vigil was celebrated at the Saint’s Monastery, officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences; Geronda Secretary-General, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Patriarchal Representative in Bethlehem, Theophylactos of Jordan, Aristovoulos of Madaba (as the Archbishop in turn for this year), Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, among whom were the Archimandrites Ignatios, Mattheos and Niphon, Arab-speaking Priests from Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon in Greek, with the help of His Eminence Aristovoulos, and by the Acre choir under the lead of Archimandrite Philotheos in Arabic. The service was attended by members of our Arab-speaking flock from the neighbouring Bethlehem District.

His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to the Fathers and the congregation:

“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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30), the Lord says.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Our Holy Church of Jerusalem honours and venerates today the return to the sacred incorrupt relics of Saint Savvas the Sanctified back to his famous Lavra (on October 26, 1965), from Venice, paying heed to the Biblical words: “The memory of the just is blessed”(Proverbs 10:7), or in other words, the remembrance of the just is pleasant and eternal even after death.

Savvas from Cappadocia longed for the rest of his soul and like another deer retreated to the ascetic and spiritual fountains of the Judea desert in Palestine, where he was schooled by the desert Teachers, Theoctistos and Euthymius the Great.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). Interpreting these words of the Lord, Saint Gregory of Nyssa says: “by the word: ‘yoke’ [Christ] means the working of the commandments, let us then obey the commander, let us become the beast of burden, clothing ourselves with the yoke of love”. And commentator Zigavinos says: “He didn’t say only the word ‘humble’ (lowly), but ‘lowly in heart’, meaning humble in ones’ soul, by one’s free will”.

The approved Church Father, Gregory of Nyssa correctly interprets that we are called to clothe ourselves with the yoke of Christ’s love. And this is so, because according to Saint John of the Ladder, love, in its essence, is the source of faith. And according to Saint John Damascene, “Faith is to agree without much examining. Faith is to believe that everything was created by God from non-being into being; and every single thing, both divine and human, can be accomplished by faith”.

The fundamental importance of faith is phrased clearly by Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians: “For this, cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:14-17). Moreover, Saint John the Theologian preaches: “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Our Holy Father Savvas accomplished this very thing; meaning the dwelling of Christ in his heart through faith. For this reason, he would say along with the psalmist: “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15). And to make it clearer; I will work Your righteousness and with it, I shall behold Your Face [Lord], while my soul will be satisfied when I see the glory, the brightness of Your Face. Moreover, Saint Savvas followed Saint Paul’s order: “Put on the whole armour of God…having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6: 11, 14). For this reason, he lives eternally in the fragrant and incorrupt relics that we have before our eyes, as the Wisdom of Solomon says: “But the righteous live for ever, 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). And in more detail, the righteous live eternally, and their reward is in the hands of the Lord. For this reason, they will receive the glorious Kingdom of Heaven by the Lord.

Let us hear Saint Paul preaching in his Epistle to the Romans: “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19). In other words, just as you offered your body parts as servants to sin, which makes a man unclean and an offender, so as to commit the iniquity, likewise, you should now offer your bodies as servants to the virtuous manner of living, in order to advance in holiness. “[Paul means] as righteousness the virtuous manner of living…leading to sanctification, instead of being sanctified” Zigavinos explains.

According to Saint Basil the Great, “sanctification is to devote ones’ life to God completely”. And according to Saint Gregory of Nyssa: “For Christ is God’s righteousness, which is revealed by the Gospel, as the Apostle says (Romans 1:17) … and because the Son is the Father’s power, all the works of the Son are the Father’s works”.

It is made clear that the sanctification for us who confess Christ crucified and resurrected, presupposes God’s righteousness according to the Lord’s advice: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). In addition, this holds a prominent place in the Lord’s prayer: “After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10).

Let us, therefore, hear Saint Paul’s advice, which refers to all Christians, and especially to us who minister at the Life-giving sacraments of Christ, and to the Monks who live in spiritual ascesis in the desert and dry land: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).

Commenting on these words, Saint Gregory of Nyssa says: “Do not gaze upon the earthly things, but upon the heavenly ones, where Christ is … live also, in order to see God, not for the purpose of prolonging your life on earth, nor in order to have a beastly pleasure, but in order to accomplish the heavenly citizenship”.

To this cause we are also called, my dear Brethren, to bring to perfection our life in Christ, thus become citizens of the “ever-lasting” city of heaven and fellow citizens of the Saints of God and our Saviour Christ in heaven, because, as Saint Paul preaches: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come”(Hebrews 13:14). Amen. Many happy returns.”

After the All-night Vigil, there was a reception with boiled wheat, bread and sweet wine, followed by a common meal which His Beatitude blessed.

Blessing the Fathers, His Beatitude departed via the Holy Monastery of Saint Theodosios the Cenobiarch for veneration, according to the customary tradition.

From Secretariat-General

 

 




H.H.B. THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM CELEBRATES THE DIVINE LITURGY AT THE H. MONASTERY OF SAINT ONUPHRIUS

On Sunday, October 5/18, 2020, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos officiated the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Monastery of Saint Onuphrius, which is located opposite Siloam’s pool, where the man who was born blind was sent by the Lord to wash his eyes and recover his vision. It is built on the rocky area with the carved rocks at the Potter’s Field, which the Pharisees bought in order to bury the foreigners, with the thirty pieces of silver that Judas returned to them having regretted his betrayal.

The Patriarchate owns a Monastery there, dedicated to our Righteous Father Onuphrius the Egyptian.

Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, and the Archimandrites: Elder Dragoman Mattheos, Kallistos, the Hegoumen of the H. Monastery of Saint Charalambos, along with Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos and the Patriarchal School Students.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon to the few Nuns and faithful who attended the service due to the COVID-19 restrictive measures:

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35), the Lord says.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The grace of the All-holy Spirit which was sent to the Holy Martyr Charitini has gathered us all in the Holy place, in order to celebrate the Great Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on her commemoration.

The special characteristic of the Saints, and of course of the Martyrs of the Church is the Divine love, namely the love for Christ, which [love] made us sons and daughters of the Most-High.

“God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15) Saint John the Evangelist preaches.

Interpreting Saint John’s words, Saint Basil the Great says: “if God is love, it is absolutely necessary for hatred to belong to the devil. For as the one who has love has also God, likewise, the one who has hatred, feeds the devil in him”.

The infinite philanthropy of God, namely the infinite power of His love, was revealed in the mystery of the Divine Providence, with the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. And Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for our sins is “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).  Christ, Who, “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” Saint Paul preaches (Phil. 2:7-8).

In other words, God the Word was made human and suffered death on the Cross, in order to make powerless the one who had the power and the might of death, namely the devil, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14), Saint Paul says. The devil is the enemy of every righteousness (Acts 13:10), and therefore the Father of resentment and the primary enemy of God’s love. According to Saint John of the Ladder, resentment means among other things: hatred of righteousness, the poison of the soul, alienation of love, and a thorn pierced in the soul.

Behold therefore why the Lord commands: “But I say unto you which hear; love your enemies, do good to them which hate you” (Luke 6:27). Paying heed to the Lord’s words, Saint Paul composed the hymn of love, which he placed above all knowledge and every degree of faith. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).

Saint Paul, who was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2), praises the steadfast bond between love and truth by saying: “Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).

And to make it clearer, love does not rejoice in something unrighteous but rejoices when the truth prevails. In this case, “truth” is Christ, the Son and Word of God, Who proclaimed “I am the truth” (John 14:6). According to Saint John the Evangelist’s testimony, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

The love that was revealed in the mystery of the Divine Providence is, in itself, the mystery of God the Father. For this reason, love for others, and especially for our enemies, is not a virtue, but “the result of nature” as the interpreter Zigavinos says: “It is not a virtue for someone with love to love, but a result of nature”. And according to Saint Anthony the Great, “life and death are from our neighbour”, meaning that we will have life or death, depending on the way we behave towards our neighbour, our fellow man.

Christ’s love made today’s honoured Saint Charitini, an adornment of the Martyrs, as the melodist of the Church says: “Loving the gladness of the things of the spirit and spurning all things seen, since they are inconstant, O maid, thou didst secure thy mind with godly hopes. Hence, thou rannest froth with joy, to the contest, O Martyr, fighting in the stadium, where thou slew the serpent; and thou didst plait a most majestic crown, O Charitini, adornment of martyred Saints” (Matins, Sessional hymn tone four).

As for us, my dear Brethren, let us entreat the God of Love to make us steadfast in His Love, paying heed to Saint Paul’s advice: “Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour”(Eph. 5:1-2). Amen. Many happy returns”.

After the Divine Liturgy, the good keeper and renovator of the Monastery Reverend Abbess Paissia offered a hospitable reception.

From Secretariat-General