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THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS AT THE PATRIARCHATE

Sunday 6/19 June 2022, the last Sunday of the Pentecostarion period was celebrated by the Patriarchate as the Sunday of All Saints, namely of all the Holy Patriarchs of the Old Testament, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Preachers, Evangelists, Ascetics of the fruit of the Grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, which was sent down on the day of the Holy Pentecost.

This feast was celebrated at the chapel dedicated to All Saints in the Holy Monastery of Sayda Naya.

Great Vespers on Saturday afternoon and the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning were officiated by His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, with the co-celebration of the Archimandrites Klaudios and Ieronymos, Priest Nectarios and Hierodeacon Eulogios. The chanting was delivered by the Typikon keeper of the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen Archimandrite Alexios, and Hierodeacon Dositheos in Greek and by Mr Rimon Kamar in Arabic. The services were attended by a noble congregation of nuns and laity from Greece, Russia and Romania, and the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras.

During the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and His entourage visited the Monastery for veneration.

His Eminence delivered a sermon to the congregation which follows below:

“All Saints’ Day closes the mobile cycle of festivities that began on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. In the contrite Triodion and in the joyful Pentecostarion, the Church presented to us all the work of the divine Providence, centred on the great feast of Easter. We saw the fall of the firstborn and the resurrection of our generation through the resurrection of Christ. We greeted the coming of the Comforter to the world and we celebrated the birth of the new people of God, the inauguration and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit “on all flesh”. Today’s feast is in close connection with the feast of Pentecost, the seal and the end of the great festive period. It comes as proof of the work of the church of the energy of the Holy Spirit in the world. Because it shows us the fruits and the sowing of that harvest of the white countries that the Apostles were sent to reap. And as Nikiforos Xanthopoulos observes very nicely in the synaxarion of the day, the fathers instituted this feast after the descent of the Holy Spirit, to show that the presence of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles succeeded in sanctifying and rendering wise the people who formed the first Church and restoring people to the place of the angels through Jesus Christ either by offering their martyrdom or by their virtuous state and conduct. And a supernatural work is done. God descends, the Spirit and the made of earth man raises. The Word of God raises the deified flesh and attracts with it those who want to do works of conciliation with God. Those who were alienated from God before, are united with God and become His friends. The nations offer their beginning, the All Saints.

But also, a second reason caused the establishment of this collective feast. Many Saints are known and honoured with the feasts celebrated by the Church. The Holy Spirit also dwelled and sanctified many others. However, they remained unknown and invisible. Therefore, the Church honours its unknown saints today, those “who lived according to the teachings of Christ in India and Egypt and Arabia and Mesopotamia and Phrygia and over the Black Sea; moreover, those in Western Europe, up to the British Isles or to put it more simply in the east and in the west”.

However, initially, this feast did not have such a wide content. It was only a feast for all the martyrs. Already in the 4th century, we have a sermon of St. Chrysostom for this feast and the Typicon of Saint Sophia in Constantinople during the 10th century provides for a Gathering and a feast in the great Church and in the Church of the Holy Martyrs which was located near the Church of the Holy Apostles. The feast is entitled “All Saints” but the synaxarion of the day determines that we commemorate the Saints and the victorious Martyrs throughout the universe who martyred at various times for the name of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. If the information of Xanthopoulos is precise, the feast of All Saints was established during the reign of Leo the Wise when he built a Church and wanted it to be honoured by the name of his wife Theophanous, who “pleased God greatly”. He was advised, nevertheless, that it would not be wise to dedicate a Church to a woman, however holy, that died a while ago and the time has not yet given her the “honest and venerable”. The King was convinced and assigned the Church to the honour of “the Saints all over the earth saying… if Theophano is a Saint she will be counted with all of them”.

Regardless of the origin of the new feast with the general content, not only of the martyrs but also of all the Saints its expansion was very successful. Martyrs of Christ are not only those who shed their blood for the faith of Christ and thus gave the seal of faith and their testimony. Martyrs are all those who fought in the struggle of the Christian life and patiently bore the cross of Christ in this world. Those who martyred for Christ the daily martyrdom of conscience; the confessors who confessed the good confession before “nations and Kings”; Hierarchs who were God-pleasing shepherds of the flock of Christ and supported the right faith. The righteous and the ascetics who crucified the flesh along with the passions and desires; the people of the world who lived in the land of temptations and trials, but lived in a state as if they were already in heaven. And with them, the righteous prophets, the righteous and the forefathers of the Old Testament who lived by law and “became martyrs by faith”, waiting for the Promise; especially the Holiest of the Holy, the Blessed Virgin and mother of Christ the Theotokos Mary.

Through the present feast, we honour and highlight the Saints’ virtuous manner of living as an example, entreating them to intercede for us to God, Whose grace and infinite mercy may be with all of us. Amen”.

The Episcopal Entourage and the congregation were offered a generous reception by the renovator of the Church of the Monastery, reverend Abbess Seraphima.

From Secretariat-General




THE STUDENTS OF THE PATRIARCHAL SCHOOL OF ZION VISIT HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS

On Saturday, June 11, 2022, the graduates of the Patriarchal School of Zion visited the His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem at His office, on the occasion of the end of the School year.

On this visit the graduate novice Simeon Lianoudakis addressed His Beatitude on behalf of the students as follows:

Τό Σάββατο, 11 Ἰουνίου 2022, οἱ ἀπόφοιτοι καί τελειόφοιτοι τῆς Πατριαρχικῆς Σχολῆς Σιών ἐπισκέφθηκαν τό Γραφεῖο τοῦ Μακαριωτάτου Πατριάρχου Ἱεροσολύμων ἐπί τή λήξει τῶν μαθημάτων τῆς Σχολῆς.

Your Beatitude Father and Master,

Reverend Managing Director of the School,

At the end of the school year and our student cycle, in deep emotion, we would like to express from the bottom of our hearts our thanks for what you have offered us.

Since our arrival in the Holy Land, the Patriarchate and the Brotherhood welcomed us with paternal affection and love. They shaped our character and enriched us with spiritual goods and many unforgettable experiences that will accompany us for the rest of our lives.

First of all, we would like to thank You, Your Beatitude, for the interest You have shown as well as for the love You have expressed towards us in many ways. In addition, we would like to thank the Most Reverend Archbishop of Hierapolis, Isidoros, Chairman of the school board, who made sure that we never miss anything. Next, we want to thank the Managing Director, Father Mattheos, for the time he devoted, the effort and the sacrifices he made to always be by our side and to support us. Together with him, the people in charge who contributed to the work of the boarding school and the school for our education. Of course, we would like to thank the teachers, who also in their part, helped us to expand our knowledge and horizons.

Finally, we would like to thank You once again for the opportunity you have given us to live in the Holy Land, where our Lord Jesus Christ taught and lived. Also, for us, the visits to the Holy Pilgrimages of the Holy Land and to Constantinople were very important.

We venerate Your holy right hand”.

His Beatitude blessed them, wished them success in their exam results and safe return to Jerusalem after their summer vacations, by the blessing of the Resurrected Christ and the Holy Sepulchre, and success in any activity they chose to pursue in the future.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF THE APPEARANCE OF THE SIGN OF THE CROSS IN THE HEAVENS AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Friday, May 7/20, 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the appearance of the sign of the Precious Cross in the heavens.

On this feast, the Church, and especially the Church of Jerusalem celebrates the event that took place in AD 351, at the third hour, which is at nine o’clock in the morning, a brighter than the sunrays Cross appeared and was visible from Golgotha to the Mount of Olives. The Cross was seen by many inhabitants of Jerusalem who in awe glorified God, according to the description written by Cyril the Archbishop of Jerusalem to Emperor Constantius, son of Saint Constantine the Great.

For this event, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Horrendous Golgotha, by His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, with the co-celebration of Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Priests and Priests from other Orthodox Churches and Deacons, under the chanting of Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Gotsopoulos. The service was attended by Nuns and pious faithful Christians.

After the Divine Liturgy, there was a procession with the Hagiotaphite High Priests and Hieromonks from the Deposition Slate to the Holy Sepulchre, marching three times around the Sacred Edicule.

After the Procession, the officiating Metropolitan stood in front of the Sacred Edicule and read the Gospel narrative of Easter Sunday and Saint Cyril’s letter, with the description of the celebrating event in Greek, and His Eminence Archbishop Theodosios of Sebastia read the translation of this letter in Arabic. There was a supplication at the end of the readings.

Finally, bells tolling, the Episcopal entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters and paid its respect to His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos. His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios addressed His Beatitude as follows:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

Twenty centuries ago, the cross was an instrument of shameful punishment and horrible death. The Romans sentenced the greatest criminals to death by crucifixion.

Today the cross dominates the whole life of the faithful Christians, the whole life of our Church, as an instrument of sacrifice, salvation, joy, sanctification and grace. As Saint Chrysostom writes, “this accursed and abominable symbol of the worst punishment has now become coveted and lovable.” You see it everywhere: “In the Holy Table, in the ordinations of the priests, in the divine liturgy, in the houses. So much needed has this wonderful gift become to all, this inexpressible grace. ”

The Lord Himself, with supernatural facts and wonderful revelations, revealed on various occasions, in a glaring way, how the sign of the Cross is His symbol and the invincible trophy of the faithful.

  1. The well-known ecclesiastical historian Eusebius of Caesarea (+340), a contemporary of Saint Constantine the Great, describes vividly and unequivocally the well-known incident of the appearance of the light Cross on Constantine the Great with the inscription “be victorious with This”, and in fact at broad daylight, with witnesses all the men of his army.
  2. In addition to the above supernatural revelation of the sign of the Cross, there was another, again in front of innumerable eyewitnesses, when the king was Constantius, son of St. Constantine, and Saint Cyril was the Archbishop of Jerusalem. The miracle is narrated by Saint Cyril himself to the king in a letter, in which he states that on that day (May 7, 346 AD, the period of Pentecost), around the third hour (9 a.m.), the sign of the Holy Cross appeared in the sky, huge, bright, extending from Saint Golgotha ​​to the Mount of Olives. Not one or two saw it, but all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And it did not appear for a moment only, but for many hours it hung on the firmament. And it was so bright that it surpassed the rays of the sun in the Flash, so they could see it clearly at daylight, at noon. Seeing this miracle, the people of the city ran to the Church of the Resurrection.

If September 14 is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy and Life-giving Cross, a feast on which human hands, Patriarchal and Royal, raised the Holy Cross, projecting Him as the symbol of the Christian faith and the “lock of Paradise” because it is the point of our reference to the One who shed His holy blood on It, May 7th is another celebration of His Exaltation, not by human hands this time, but by the “hands” of God Himself. Because He wanted, when the Christian faith had already been accepted and expanded, to reveal the Cross in Heaven, as an extension, we would say, of His revelation on Constantine the Great, with the well-known “In this be victorious”. The hymnology of our Church highlights the event and pervades it in all its parameters: “Today the divine multitude of the faithful rejoices. Because the Cross appeared in Heaven to a great extent. The air shines from uncreated light. The air is illuminated and the face of the earth becomes beautiful. The Church of Christ sings divine songs. The Church shows its respect, honouring the divine and miraculous Cross that protects it from Heaven ” (free translation of a sticheron from Vespers).

The Venerable Patriarchate of Jerusalem, following the order and practice of the Orthodox Church, honours and celebrates the feasts, among which is the present feast, “of the appearance of the sign of the Precious Cross in the heavens”, which, although being a local feast, has an effect on Orthodoxy around the world.

Pray Your Beatitude, that Our Venerable Brotherhood continues this tradition for centuries to come”.

From Secretariat-General




THE EPITAPH SERVICE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

At 9.00 p.m. (summertime) on Good Friday evening, 9/22 April 2022, the Epitaph Service was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

On this feast, the chanting began with the Canon and Matins of Holy Saturday, at the Catholicon of the Church of the Resurrection.

During the chanting of the Canon His Beatitude, the Archbishops and the Priests were dressed in their mourning liturgical vestments.

Then the litany began from the Catholicon, marching on the right from the “touch me not” chapel, towards all the shrines outside the Catholicon, offering an entreaty at each of them.

At the Horrendous Golgotha, the Gospel narrative of the Crucifixion was read and the Archbishops received the silk corporal of the Epitaph from the Altar, which they placed on the Deposition Slate, below Golgotha, and the Gospel narrative was read.

Then there was a litany three times around the Sacred Edicule with the silk corporal being held by the Archbishops, which they placed on the Tomb and the 3 stasis of the Lamentations began.

The officiator of the Service, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos recited the 1st stasis, and the rest were read by the High Priests. 

Then Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina delivered the following Sermon:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

Respected chorea of Hierarchs,

Your Excellency, Consul General of Greece,

Reverend Fathers,

Noble pilgrims,

Great and sacred is this day of Holy Friday and Holy Saturday. It is the day of commemoration of the Cross and burial of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Church chants in joyful mourning; “Today, He who suspended the earth in the waters is suspended on a cross. The Bridegroom of the Church is fixed with nails to the cross. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear” and “You, O Life, were buried in a tomb, O my Christ, and angelic hosts were struck with astonishment, glorifying Your ineffable descent” and “The almighty Master is observed to be dead.  He is laid within a new, unused sepulchre, He who emptied many graves of those who died”.

About this event of Divine love, compassion and conciliation, Saint Chrysostom wonders in awe: “how, having risen from the royal thrones, God entered the earth and even Hades, and how the devil became an opponent not to a naked God but to a God hidden within the human nature and how death is released by death and the curse annuls curse, and through these, the tyranny of the devil in all things he prevailed is now abolished” (Homily 2 ch.1 on the Gospel according to Matthew).

This happened indeed, Christ our God went down to Hades, conquered its powers and released from it the centuries-long bound ones in fetters and slavery therein because He willingly accepted the Cross. We went down to Hades by the power of the humility of His Cross. Until the incarnate presence of His Son, God the Father granted righteousness and the salvation of people through His Law, which He wrote by His own hands, on mount Sinai and gave it to His servant Moses (Exodus 31,18). This Law was not abolished, because the Lord said “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil the law” (Matthew 5,17), and because Saint Paul says that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal. 3,17); however, it becomes insufficient since the “the fulness of the time was come” (Gal. 4,4), ever since “Christ our God is the fulfilment of the law and the prophets”, as Saint John the Baptist revealed in the River Jordan, He became “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1,29), and “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9,12). He sacrificed Himself (Hebrews 7,27) and with the red colour of His own blood, He signed the New Testament of Grace. Since then, as the Apostle of the nations says, “man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2,16). “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5,6), “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3,11).

This word of the Cross, the par excellence word of the Holy and Great Friday, became “foolishness” for the ancient Greek philosophy, it is a “scandal” for the rabbinic theology, however, for Saint Paul, the twelve Apostles and the Church, it is the “power of God leading to salvation”. Just as Christ entered Hades through the sign of His Cross, likewise, the Church, embracing the Cross, entered the world and enchanted it through the teaching of the Crucified Christ. Through the power of the sign of the Cross, the Church opposed the invisible evil forces and conquered them. It raised millions of martyrs, who considered death as nothing, thousands of ascetics and righteous, confessors Fathers, who lived like angels on earth and like heavenly people and illumined the minds of the people in the Holy Spirit through the decisions of Councils, to comprehend the Revelation in Christ and decorated their morals and created the Christian civilization. The Church honours and venerates the Holy Cross and projects it as a weapon against the devil in all the manifestations of its life. Through the Cross, it sanctifies the sacraments, such as the Baptism, the Holy Eucharists, the Unction, the Sanctification of the water, it sanctifies the whole creation and exorcises every evil action from it.

Non the less, even pious emperors vanquished great armies of their enemies by the Cross of Christ. First among them with the sign “conquer in this” of the Cross was the pious emperor Constantine the Great, who conquered the opposing armies of the irreverent Maxentius. Following this, he believed in Christ and was baptised, offered freedom in the Christian faith through the decree of Mediolams in AD 312 and became equal to the Apostles, inaugurating the reigning city as the capital of the Rum Orthodox tradition. He also projected this place of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord through the construction of this magnificent Church of the Resurrection, the beauty of which the hymnographer compares to that of the heavenly firmament. Until the end of times, this Church remains the most sacred, pan-orthodox and pan-Christian Shrine, shelter, shield and protection of the inhabitants but also of the pilgrims of the Holy Land in their religious life and its difficulties, and above all the boast of the Church of the Holy Zion. By the power of the Cross also, the pious emperor Herakleios conquered the Persians in their homeland and returned the captive Patriarch of Jerusalem Zacharias and exalted the Sacred Cross in its initial position in the Horrendous Golgotha. The Church of Jerusalem has kept like the pupil of the eye this place, which was sanctified once and for all with the divine blood of Christ, and is everyday sanctified through Christ’s blood in the Holy Eucharist. This is proven by the Sacred Edicule, the work of Kalfa Komninos from Mytilini, which was constructed over difficult times of bitter bondage by our noble nation, as written herein is “a possession and offering to Christ of the Rum Orthodox in 1810”. It was renovated and beautified in the year of our salvation 2017 by the initiative and care of the Primate of the Church of Jerusalem and officiator of this Epitaph Service, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

In the group of the peaceful tribes and peoples who accepted the crucified Christ as their leader, He included our Greek nation. When the Apostle of nations according to the vivid narrative of Saint Luke the Evangelist was called to speak at the Areopagus in Athens, the Athenians listened to him until the point of the resurrection of the dead. In a polite manner, they then said “we shall listen to you again”. However, there were those who believed and were baptised, such as “Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17,34). Along with Lydia the Philippian, they are the beginning of the dough of Christian Hellenism. They are its originator ancestors. Later on, Hellenism as a manner of thinking and life accepted the Revelation. It was named after the name of the Divinity of Jesus Christ. It lived up to its calling, which was petitioned when “the Greeks asked to see Jesus” (John 12,20-21). Then Jesus said, “the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (John 12,23). This phrase is an honour and blessing along with the calling of our nation. Its mission continues to be the glory of the Son of man through its manner of living, through the course of history. Our nation has carried out this mission throughout the centuries, not hiding the lamp below the stand, but placing the lamp and transmitting the light of Christ to the Slavonic people through Saints Cyril and Methodios and Photios, and to the ends of the world through the Orthodox mission.

Gratefully attributing its rebirth to God, our nation is the Lord’s “people, and inheritance and regime”, and it is again called by both the auspicious and ominous current circumstances “to keep the good things which it has been taught” the consignment of Christ, of faith, hope, freedom, equality, equity, righteousness, conciliation and peace-making, the care of the sick, refugees, and the needy, chanting in its Churches “Lord, Thou hast given us Thy Cross a weapon against the devil”, “Thy Cross we venerate, O Master and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify”. Deem us worthy, O Lord, to venerate Your Holy Resurrection in peace.”

During praises, the High Priests venerated the silk corporal with the immaculate Body of the Lord and received the blessed rose petals.

The service concluded with the procession of the Epitaph around the Altar of the Catholicon and its placement on the Altar.

From Secretariat-General




DOXOLOGY ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE NATIONAL FEAST OF 25TH MARCH 1821

On Thursday 11/24 March 2022 a Doxology was observed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the anniversary of the National feast of 25 March 1821.

The Doxology was observed primarily as an entreaty to God for the repose of the souls of the fighters of 1821, who fell fighting for the faith and country, and as thanks to God for His help to our nation, to be free from the Ottoman yoke and the establishment of the freedom in Christ.

The Doxology was officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, along with the Hagiotaphite High Priests, Hieromonks and Deacons. The chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon on the right and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos on the left, with the help of the Patriarchate School Students. The service was attended by the members of the Greek Community, the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and Consulate members.

After the Doxology all congregation returned to the Patriarchate Reception Hall where His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:

Come in zeal at this time, to make an oath on the Cross…lift up the Cross on the banners and strike the enemy like thunder and lightning”, Rigas Feraios exclaims at his revolutionary poem “Thurium”.

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

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today’s anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 25th March 1821 is a unique and unprecedented event in world history, and this is because the divine good of freedom is inextricably linked after Christ’s conscious awareness of the self-sacrifice of the pious race of the Roman Orthodox Christians and our Blessed Greek Nation.

The Metropolitan of Palaion Patron Germanos raised the Holy Banner of the Resurrection on March 25, 1821, the day of the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin, listening to your liberating sermon of wise Paul, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).

The view of the idea of ​​freedom that took shape in Christianity was the one that distinguished the Greek Revolution of ’21 from contemporary revolutions of other peoples. This is also denounced by the nationalist slogan of the Elder of MoriaTheodoros Kolokotronis: “now our fight is for the faith of Christ and the holy freedom of the country”. This is also testified by the call of Rigas Feraios to his revolutionary play “Thurium”: “Let us take the oath on the Cross”.

The Greeks, whose patriotism and freedom are the special features of their long and varied history, were not possible to be reconciled with the kind of slavery of the Ottoman yoke, who insulted their cultural, spiritual and ethnoreligious heritage, which contributed decisively to the elevation and decoration of the moral standards and also to the enlightenment of the minds of those people “that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79)

The greatness of the sacrifice of the revolutionary Greeks for freedom and the name of Christ is reflected so much in the slogan “freedom or death” as in the confession of the established new martyrs of the Church, “I was born a Christians and as a Christian shall I die!”

The heroes and new martyrs of the revolution of ’21 undoubtedly paid heed to the Gospel words: “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

And we say this because the contribution of the Church and the clergy to the national uprising of 1821 was indeed unparalleled and great. The Church as a spiritual institution became the primary leading force of the Roman people under the yoke. The Church is the one that represented the national and religious identity of the Greeks.

The feast of the national uprising of 1821 is not merely an even to historical memory but rather of a sacred consignment sealed with the heroic and martyr’s blood “of the freedom which stems from the sacred bones of the Greeks”. This sacred consignment we are called to preserve and hand over to the next generations.

The Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood of ours participates in the anniversary festivities of the sacred memory of the National Rebirth of the noble and royal nation of the Rum Orthodox and our Nation, and as it should it renders “tribute to whom tribute is due” (Romans 13:7), so we came down to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to offer thanksgiving praise and Doxology to our Lord Jesus Christ, who was Crucified and Resurrected from the dead for us. We also prayed for the eternal repose in the land of the living of the blessed souls of those who fell like martyrs while fighting for the faith and the country in the sacred battles of our nation.

For all these, let Us raise Our glass on a toast and as we should, cry out loud:

Long live 25th March 1821!

Long live the noble and royal nation of the Rum Orthodox!

Long live Hellas!

Long live our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood!”

 

After His Beatitude’s address, Mr Vlioras also said the following:

“Your Beatitude,

Your Eminences, High Priests,

Reverend Fathers,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Today, Ecumenical Hellenism proudly celebrates and honours the anniversary of the Revolution of 1821, the most glorious page in modern Greek history, a struggle for altars and hearths, a point of reference and a symbol for the Greek nation, which had as its happy ending the establishment of the modern Greek state and the rebirth of the Democracy in its cradle.

 In every historical period, there is a pole, a historical event that marks it, and becomes a point of reference for all of us later. March 25, 1821, is this milestone in the modern history of Hellenism, marking the turning point when the Greeks made the heroic decision to rise, alone against many, against the Ottoman tyranny and to claim freedom with their blood. It was spring even then, almost two centuries ago, when Hellenism took up arms against the sanctuary to claim its freedom. This ideal that our people adored in the insurmountable greatness of the sacrifice of illiterate, ragged and hungry men, armed men and thieves, priests, women and children.

Our National Uprising is the greatest proof that, above any interests, difficulties and obstacles, the soul and spirit of a people with a high mindset, worthy of its historical mission, excels.

So, in those times, as in any difficult time, there were many who surpassed themselves and showed heroism, beyond what we call a well-meaning duty. Prominent personalities but also ordinary, everyday people, who suddenly found themselves in the forefront of history, responded to one, to the call of the struggle, without hesitating, without bowing, indelibly marking the history and life of Hellenism.

In cruciform temples and poor chapels, the desire for freedom ignited in the souls of enslaved Greeks. With meagre or non-existent means, with the courage to make up for the lack of armaments, they pushed for good the course of our historical course towards justice and freedom. In this struggle, everyone served the idea of ​​freedom, with unique patriotism, self-sacrifice and self-denial. “And if we are few in the crowd of Braimis”, observes General Makrygiannis, “we are comforted in a way, that our luck always has the Greeks few. That beginning and end, past and present, all the beasts fight to eat us and cannot. They eat from us and yeast remains. And when the few decide to die, a few times they lose and many win.”

National anniversaries are useful for all of us when they are an opportunity to renew, with openness and determination, our commitment to the ideals for which the founders of our freedom fought and the realization that our justice, progress and prosperity are the result of our own effort and our own struggle, individual and collective. Let us listen to the words of General Makrygiannis, that “we all have this homeland together, and the wise and the ignorant, and the rich and the poor, and the politicians and the military, and the smallest people.”

The completion of 201 years of our National Rebirth, invites us to reflect on the successes and challenges of our National Life, but also the continuation of our collective course, since it is characteristic of our national identity to celebrate not the destination but the journey, full of discoveries, full of adventure, as Constantine Cavafy wrote, to try, to seek, to discover and not to give up as Tennyson wrote about Odysseus.

So let us stand with respect before the sacrifice of our ancestors, the heroes of ’21, and let us be exemplified by their patriotism and self-denial so that we can vigorously respond to the challenges of our troubled times.

Your Beatitude,

Your Eminences, High Priests,

Reverend Fathers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the Holy Land and our presence in it, the venerable Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, with its long and multifaceted offer and the highest pastoral work, is the guardian of the moral and spiritual values ​​of our Orthodox faith.

Our patriarchate of Jerusalem testifies to the time of the dynamic presence of the Greek and Orthodox tradition in the Middle East. Its high mindset and struggles, under adverse conditions, until today, are for all of us an invaluable national capital and a source of inspiration and empowerment.

For all of us, March 25, 1821, is an exceptional occasion to reflect on our responsibilities and to renew our commitment to the ideals that constitute the quintessence of our Greek and Orthodox tradition and for which the protagonists of our freedom fought, “…never out of debt do not move”. Ideals that nowadays we cannot take for granted and that we must preserve with our own struggle.

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

Long live the 25th of March 1821!

Long live Greece!”

From Secretariat-General




THE NAME DAY OF HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS III

On Sunday 9/20 March 2022, on the commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs of the lake of Sebastia in Pontus during the reign of Licinius in AD 320, the Name Day of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos was celebrated, as one of these Holy Martyrs was named Theophilos.

This feast was celebrated as a ‘Parresia’. On Saturday afternoon the Great Vespers was observed at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, presided by His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.

On Sunday morning the bloodless sacrifice was observed at the Catholicon, led by His Beatitude again, with the co-celebration of their Eminences the Metropolitans Kyriakos of Nazareth and Isychios of Kapitolias, the Archbishops Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Methodios of Tabor, Theodosios of Sebastia, Isidoros of Hierapolis, Nectarios of Anthedon, Philoumenos of Pella and Aristovoulos of Madaba, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks with first in rank the Dragoman Archimandrite Mattheos, at the chanting of Hierodeacon Simeon, Mr Gotsopoulos and the Patriarchal School students. The services were attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and the Consulate members, Monks, Nuns and local members of Jerusalem along with pilgrims.

The Divine Liturgy was followed by a Doxology and finally, the Patriarchal entourage and all congregation returned to the Patriarchate Reception Hall, where Geronda Secretary-General addressed His Beatitude as follows:

“Your Beatitude Father and Master,

As we ascend on the spiritual ladder of the Holy and Great Lent, awaiting the Holy Pascha, it is like the dew of Hermon that we receive from the Holy Church the comforting commemoration of the well-fought and crowned Holy Forty  Martyrs of the lake of Sebastia of Pontus during the reign of Licinius in AD 320.

Their fervent faith in Christ, their patience and endurance that defied and overcame the freezing cold, strengthen and encourage us greatly for the continuation of the fasting struggle, not only as the abstinence from food but mainly as the alienation from the passions and the conquering of Christ’s virtues, so that we may be glorified along with Him.

The Church of Jerusalem attributes special honour to those victorious  Martyrs who beautify the feasts of March because its Primate, Your Holy Beatitude bears the name of one of those, the Holy Martyr Theophilos. In honour of this martyr and Your Beatitude, we offered the bloodless sacrifice and the Doxology at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre according to the order of ‘Parresia’, with the attendance of the full body of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the pious flock.

Having liturgically prayed for the health, stability and longevity of Your Beatitude, now at this Hall of the Patriarchate we add those things that need to be remembered as worthy of praise and thanksgiving.

First of all, that Your Beatitude was willing to hear the petitions of the Rum-Orthodox Arab-speaking flock either for the financial support of its projects, especially through the support of the educational system operating in its schools, or for the Theological education of the youth, in order to serve as Priests, spiritual guides of the parishes of their Communities. At the same time, the Sunday journal “Nour Il Masih” that was founded by You, and its accompanying Ecclesiastical newspaper have been distributed free of charge, to serve in the educational spiritual training, to cultivate the preservation of the Rum Orthodox identity in the souls of the flock in their bond with the Patriarchate. An indication also of Your Beatitude’s vivid interest in the preservation, projection and utilization of the educational and cultural inheritance of the Patriarchate is the over two-year-long preservation of the old prints and journals of the Central Library, the Library of the Theological School of the Cross and the reorganization of the precious material of the Archives by the special preserver Mr Stavros Andreou from Cyprus.

As far as the pilgrimage is concerned, Your Beatitude has shown special sensitivity in the defence and preservation of the rights of our nation on the one hand, and on the other, for the leader’s role of the Patriarchate in its cooperation with the other Communities. Fruit of this spirit was the four years ago project of the National Technical University of Athens of the preservation and renovation of the Sacred Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre, and a continuation of this work is the project that began a few days ago by the University Sapienza of Rome, for the preservation of the tiles in the area of the north part of the rotunda floor, that of the seven arches, in front of the Sacred Edicule and the excavation of the floor beneath those to secure the building. These works that beautify the house of God project a message of conciliation, cooperation and peace from the Holy Sepulchre to humanity all over the world, which is tested in divisions and wars. The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem has likewise not been bereft from Your Beatitude’s interest and care, as it is obvious from the completion of the preservation of the iconostasion by the ARTIS company and the forthcoming renovation of the God-receiving Cave solely by us and the Franciscans according to the Status Quo.

Out of these, the most memorable is Your Beatitude’s initiative for the protection of the Christian presence in the Holy Land. Within this initiative, at the ceremony of the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Imperial Hotel, which is endangered by the illegal contracts, there was a condemnation of the Christians’ oppression by the radical elements. Should these elements prevail, as we surely not wish so, the centuries-long entrance of the Heads of the Christian Churches through Jaffa Gate is at risk, as well as the entrance of the pilgrims and their route toward the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In this initiative, Your Beatitude summoned and received as cooperatives the Heads of the Christian Churches in the Holy Land. Through Your interview at the newspaper ‘The Times’ of London, You have enticed the interest of the Archbishop of Canterbury Mr John Welby and of His Beatitude the Patriarch Cyril of Moscow, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel showed interest in the dialogue of this matter, and the solution of this problem by the Government and not by Court.

With these successful and problem-solving actions of Your Beatitude, we the Hagiotaphite Fathers receive an example and are encouraged to carry out our Hagiotaphite ministry in zeal, each one separately and in group work, and add our part in the completion of the structure of the Patriarchate’s body for its better projection to the world and richer contribution to the community.

In the spirit of joy of Your Name Day, Your Beatitude, and of the hope that stems from Your works, I raise my glass on a toast, on behalf of the Holy and Sacred Synod, and all the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and I wish You many happy returns, peaceful, joyful, stable, creative and fruitful, for the praise of our venerable Patriarchate and our blessed nation and for the glory of our Trinitarian God. So be it.”

Mr Vlioras as follows:

“Your Beatitude,

Your Eminences,

Reverend Fathers,

Ladies and Gentlemen

The participation in today’s celebration is a special honour and joy for all of us, as the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the pious Flock, among them those who serve at the Consulate General of Greece in Jerusalem, honour the Name Day of the Primate of the Church of Jerusalem, the Mother of Churches, His Holy Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

 On this occasion, Your Beatitude, we express on behalf of the Greek State, the respect and gratitude to You for your pastoral work, for the important work of preserving and promoting the Holy Places of our Faith in the Holy Land, for the defence of the righteous and the rights of our Patriarchate and for the preservation of the Greek and Rum-Orthodox presence in the Holy Land.

With your own initiatives, the restoration and elevation of the Holy Places are promoted, while you take care of the maintenance of the Status Quo in the Holy Land and for the spiritual guidance and prosperity of a flock that faces important and multifaceted challenges.

In an age plagued by conflict, reshuffle and the search for new balances, where fanaticism and intolerance grow stronger, your sincere disposition for communication, appeasement and reconciliation, both in relation to the other Doctrines and other religions in the particular environment of Jerusalem and of the Holy Land, as well as in the context of the wider effort for peace in this long-suffering area, highlights the prestige of the Holy See, making it a factor of moderation and stability.

On the occasion of your current Nomenclatures, I would like to assure once again both you and the members of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood that the support and assistance of the Greek State and our compatriots to our Patriarchate, to the Brotherhood and to You is and also remains steadfast and substantial, and to express to you our recognition and admiration for the multifaceted work you perform with unparalleled dedication, zeal and self-sacrifice.

On this occasion, allow us to express, from the bottom of our hearts, our gratitude for the unparalleled hospitality we have enjoyed, both myself and the staff of our Authority during our visits to the Holy Shrines, where we have the opportunity to see the particularly emotional toil of concern and caring for the Holy Places, especially in the conditions created by the current pandemic.

Your Beatitude,

The defence of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, of its rights, is a very important priority for our Homeland, as it is said at every opportunity, given the offer of the Church of Jerusalem to Orthodoxy and Hellenism, as a long-standing witness and custodian of a precious religious and historic consignment.

Allow me, on this festive day, to express our most sincere and heartfelt wishes for health, longevity, and support from the Lord, so that you can continue to accomplish Your high mission, for the benefit of the Patriarchate, the Brotherhood, the Rum-Orthodox flock of Yours and the continuous Orthodox witness in the Holy Land.”

The Representatives of the Patriarchates of Moscow and Romania and the Hagiotaphite Fathers.

His Beatitude thanked them all with the following address:

“How exceedingly radiant and majestic is the power of the Cross, O Christ, which plateth crowns for the Forty Martyrs by means of their adversaries! For having passed through fire and water, they cry out in incorruption: Blessed art Thou, the God of our Fathers”, the hymnographer of the Church proclaims (Matins, Ode 7, Troparion 5).

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

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

“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 reverend chorea of the Forty Martyrs in Sebastia cries out, whose annual commemoration we observe today.

These holy Forty Martyrs, “struggled on earth, were patient in the wind, were given over to the fire, the water welcomed them. Theirs is the voice “we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Psalm 66:12), Saint Basil the Great says. The holy Martyrs managed this, paying heed to Saint Paul’s words: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

According to Saint Gregory of Nice, “to those great fighters, not even the sun seemed to be sweet; but they distanced themselves even from the sun, not to be drifted away from the true light…for them, everything was of the enemy, everything was foreign. Only one thing was good, Christ. They refused everything, to gain Him”.

This is proven by the indeed great love of the Martyrs towards our God and Saviour Christ, “who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). These God-called Martyrs dared to die for the only “good”, namely the righteous Christ of God, as Saint Paul preaches: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die” (Romans 5:7).

The Holy chorea, who were equal in the fight, equal in their mind and they equally received the crowns, the full of God Forty Martyrs, just like other three children in the fiery furnace, in one mouth praised and glorified and blessed God (ref. Daniel 3:23, Prayer 27), saying: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection… Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him” (Romans 6:5,8,9).

Having their faith steadfast, that “if we be dead with Christ, we shall also live in Him”, the Holy Martyrs did not lose heart, nor were they afraid, but on the contrary, moved by the Holy Spirit, they sought the “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).

The annual feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs, and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos, whose the Holy Name Our Mediocrity bears, is “a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4). And this because the Holy Forty Martyrs who “made the earth a heaven and illumined everything” became the true witnesses and preachers all over the world about Christ’s passions and His resurrection, but also, according to Saint Gregory of Nice, – satellites of Christ and builders of His Churches. According to Saint Paul, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20).

The Holy Forty Martyrs became builders of the Church because according to Saint Basil the Great, they were “made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Cor. 4:9), “they raised up the fallen ones, secured those in doubt, increased twofold the desire of the pious”. And according to their hymnographer, “in the splendid firmament of the august Church, ye at all times brightly shine like unto great and lustrous stars and ye illuminate faithful men, O Forty Martyrs of Christ, sacred and divine” (Matins, Troparion1).

Our Holy Church of Jerusalem honours the commemoration of the Holy Forty  Martyrs who struggled for the love of Christ in gleefulness and joy, as well as of their co-martyr Theophilos, by celebrating the Great Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, officiated by Our Mediocrity and surrounded by the reverend members of our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, the High Priests, Priests and Hierodeacons, with the participation in prayer of the noble Christians from our flock, glorifying thus the “One who is wondrous in His saints”.

Moreover, we have rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to the Holy Trinitarian God on our Holy Name Day, owed to the Holy Martyr Theophilos. And we blessed, according to Saint Polykarpos of Smyrna, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls and governor of tour bodies and Shepherd of the Ecumenical Church around the world”.

Referring to the meaning of the honour we attribute to the Saints, Saint John Damascene calls upon the witness of Saint John the Evangelist and Theologian and of the wise Saint Paul, according to whom, the Saints in general, and the Martyrs in particular, are friends of Christ, children and heirs of God; “But as many as received him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:7).

And we say this because the feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos does not refer to our mediocrity only, but primarily to the Apostolic and Patriarchal institution of the Church, through which “we become able to participate in the lot of the Saints in the light…of the Son of His [God’s] love (rf. Col. 1:12-13). “And he is before all things, and by him, all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:17-18), “which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). The Holy Forty Martyrs became communicants of this blood of Christ.

Hearkening to Saint Paul’s preaching, “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” (Eph. 6:12), the Holy Martyrs who loved Christ, ignored the things of the temporary life in order to glorify God in their body parts”, Saint Basil the Great says. Therefore, their commemoration, of those Martyrs and friends of God projects like the lightning of the noetic illumination of Christ to a divine ray that guides all of us.

According to Clement of Alexandria: “completion of the martyrdom we call not the end of the life any man received like the others, but that he completed the work of love”. Precisely this “perfect, complete work of love”, which is the unity of the various Orthodox Churches is what the Holy Forty Martyrs call us to show, as Saint Basil the Great phrased the example of the Martyrs that we need to imitate with the words: “There was not one country for the saints, each of them came from a different part of the world…the human nation of each of them was different, but the spiritual was one for all. For their common Father was God, and they were all brethren, not born of a man and a woman, but from the adoption of the Spirit, becoming one in the unity of the love for each other”. In other words, Saint Paul’s words, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) has found its practice in these Martyrs.

We are also called to obey this order, namely the unity, peace, conciliation and love of the Gospel of God and our Saviour Christ, my dear brethren, especially during this blessed period of the fasting of the Holy and Great Lent, “that we might be fellow helpers to the truth” (3 John 8). And this because as Saint Paul says, this very God in Christ committed unto us the preaching of conciliation. “…and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19)

Having, therefore, companions and helpers the holy Forty Martyrs and their co-martyr and our protector Theophilos and the Most Blessed Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, let us entreat them to reach the luminous Resurrection of our God and Saviour of our souls in peace, humility and repentance.

For all these, we call upon all those who prayed with Us and honoured the festal commemoration of the Holy  Martyrs, wishing them strength from on high, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Grace of the Holy Sepulchre and every blessing coming from God, expressing our warmest thanks also to those who addressed Us.”

There was a monastic meal at noon.

From Secretariat-General




FEAST OF THE PARISH OF PATRIARCH ABRAHAM IN BEER SHEBA

On Friday 5/18 February 2022, H.H.B. the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and His Entourage went to Beer Sheba, the capital of Negev desert in Southern Israel and officiated the Divine Liturgy in a temporary Prayer House which serves the Liturgical needs of the parish until God allows the building of a Church dedicated to the Patriarch Abraham, Saint Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Holy Martyrs Maccabees. Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were their Eminences, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Hegoumen of the H. Monastery of the Shepherds Archimandrite Ignatios, the Hegoumen of Cana Archimandrite Chrysostom, the ministering Priest of Nazareth Archimandrite Seraphim, the Steward of Nazareth Priest Simeon, and the Ministering Priest of Beer Sheba Priest Alexander Yatsevich. The chanting was delivered by the whole congregation of the parish in Slavonic, Greek and Arabic, under the lead of their Hegoumen, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba.

It should be noted that this was the first Patriarchal liturgy in Beer Sheba in the last 70 years. Despite the presence of tombs in the old Orthodox Christian cemetery in the old city of Beer Sheba since the19th century, there is no testimony proving the celebration of a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy since the time of the blessed Patriarch Timotheos in 1947 when the remaining Orthodox Christians abandoned the city and moved elsewhere.

In the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude had prepared a Sermon which the ministering Priest of Beer Sheba read translated in Russian. After the Divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen of Beer Sheba Aristovoulos hosted a festal meal for His Beatitude and His Entourage. The Franciscan Fr. Roman from the Latin Parish was also a guest at the meal.

During the meal His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba delivered the following address:

“Your Beatitude Father and Master,

I feel chills running through me watching this historic moment, seeing Your Holy Beatitude among us to bless and support us in the struggle of establishing the parish of our Russian-speaking flock from nought, in a remote area far from the Holy City, where our presence as Orthodox Christians has not yet been entirely accepted by the local community. Especially today, Your Beatitude, amidst Your reverend Patriarchal Entourage, I wish to express my gratitude once more, as from the very first moment that I asked Your blessing, in December 2008 to come to Beer Sheba, You have supported, advised, consoled me in my difficult times, and when we found ourselves in the happy event of officially establishing the parish with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Pentecost of 2017, You very willingly funded the rent of the first house of prayer, and when the needs of the parish increased and the members of the parish exceeded the 70 families, You again supported us, funding the rent of the present house of prayer.

I raise my glass on a toast to the health of Your Beatitude, wishing from the depths of my heart that God will enable Your Beatitude to soon place the founding stone and later on officiate the consecration of the new Holy Church, which will be a bastion for our Patriarchate in the historic city of the Patriarch Abraham and a spiritual shelter for the Orthodox Christians living herein.”

From Secretariat-General

 




ORDINATION OF HAGIOTAPHITE PRIEST AT THE PATRIARCHATE

During the Night Vigil at the All-holy and Life-giving Sepulchre on 31 January/13 February 2022, Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Hagiotaphite Hieromonk Anastasios Kirmitsakis, who serves at the Holy Sepulchre was ordained a Priest.

The ordination was held by Geronda Sacristan His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis, preparing the ordained with the following Fatherly words:

“Most devout Hierodeacon Anastasios,

Blessed is the time that His Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos has chosen to promote you to the second degree of Priesthood. Your ordination to Priest coincides with the beginning of the most important period of our Church; the preparation for the luminous Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

There, then, “the arena of the virtues” is being opened before you. You are given the chance to renounce the works of darkness, which are the worldly cares, the confusion of this vein world and be clad in the weapons of light, that is, to be spiritually prepared in order to see the Holy Light of the Resurrection, which stems from the same Holy Place, the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb of our Lord, where in a short while, the Holy Spirit will come down to alter you once more and make you a vessel of His choice.

“Behold a well-anticipated time, behold, a time of repentance”. And my mediocrity will add: Behold the Most Holy Place, behold the centre of salvation. What honour did the Divine Grace reserve for you, after a long journey and wandering in the cosmic paths and after it has removed you from the “broad way, that leadeth to destruction” (Matt. 7:13), leading you to the “narrow way, which leadeth unto life” (Matt. 7:14).

God led your footsteps when you first came to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a pilgrim, and the spark of God’s love was kindled in you. You were not content with only the pilgrimage, which millions of pilgrims take for centuries.

The divine love altered your heart and put out the carnal love which you had as a father and husband for your worldly family. You discovered the divine Pearl and sold all your belongings to gain it. You realised that nothing in this world can be compared to the love of Christ. You remembered the words of our Lord to His Holy Disciples and Apostles: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37-38).

Like another Paul, the so-called ‘simple’, you left your wife and children behind and went away to save your life. And while in the case of Saint Paul the ‘simple’, his wife and daughters lived an irreverent life, and their father’s desire for the true life in Christ did not touch them, your family on the contrary, not only was benefited by your decision but also followed your example. A living example is standing by your side, your son in the flesh, who despite his young age was not impressed by the sirens of the world, but chose to follow you in the Holy Land.   

As, therefore, by God’s help you have escaped the traps set by the devil on your left, you stand before us today, waiting to enter the interior of the purple curtain.

          At this very point, I want to draw your attention, because the danger that awaits you is much greater and the temptations are much more indistinguishable, since the devil has now failed to throw you into the temptations from the left side, he is now preparing other temptations, which will come to you from the right side. You will be besieged by thoughts of Pride.

You will think that you are superior to other priests, who serve in other parts of the world. The honour and respect that will be given to you by the pious pilgrims can very easily deceive you and make you think that you have already reached the measures of holiness and that you are the centre of the world. The admiration and the flattering words, which are usually addressed by the various visitors to all the members of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, will always be in your ears.

To protect you from these dangerous thoughts I will remind you of what our Lord said to His chosen people, the Jews, whom He had destined to be an integral part of the Divine Providence. He called this same chosen people “generation of vipers”(Matt. 23:33), repeating the prophetic words of Saint John and Baptist when he urged his compatriots to “cultivate fruits worthy of repentance and not to think they will be saved because they have Abraham as their father, as God can even transform the stones and turn them into children of Abraham” (c.f. Luke 3:7).           

So do not think that only your physical presence in the Holy Sepulchre of our Lord is enough to open the way to salvation. No human being, as long as he breathes, can take his salvation for granted. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).

Besides, you should not think that we are the protectors and guardians of the Holy Sepulchre and the other Holy Shrines as if our Lord and God were weak and had the need to be protected by us.

Lest it also happens to us what we see happening to his chosen people, who were called by God and prepared for the incarnation of the Lord and the Word of God, nevertheless its Pharisaic pride blinded him and he did not recognize the Saviour.

For this, as we have heard today the troparia of the Vespers and Matins, I will personally address you with the same advice. Take care with all your might to maintain a humble mind. You will achieve this initially with obedience, which you will demonstrate in the uncomplaining performance of your ministry. If the Devil sows thoughts like weeds in you that from now on your ministry should be commensurate with your age, then immediately repeat the omnipotent words of our Lord in the Sarantarion Mount “Get thee hence, Satan” (Matt. 4:10) and drive away the evil thoughts at once.

In particular, when the toil of the day closes your eyelids and brings you thoughts of exhaustion, you will think of the eternal rest in the bosom of Abraham that will have those who have conquered their flesh and overcame their nature, just as we see at the mural of our Holy Father Savvas the Sanctified at the refectory of his Holy Lavra to remind us that: “the one who conquered the flesh has conquered his nature. And the one who has conquered his nature has become above nature in all things”.

You should be like the newly-appeared and popular Saint Nectarios in forbearance, as he suffered harsh persecutions not by people of different religion and nation but by his own brethren, High Priests and Hieromonks; nevertheless, he never grouched and moreover, he never complained against anyone and endured the inhuman slander in patience and forbearance.

In complete renunciation of the world, you should have in front of you a living example, Saint Maximus Kausokalyvitis, and you should always be ready just like all the Agiotaphites to leave the position, in which you were comfortable and rested and adapt to any new situation.

Above all, honour the divine gift of Priesthood, which you are about to receive in a little while inside the Holy and Life-giving Tomb. Perform the Divine and Holy Liturgy in the fear of God and love without thoughts of vengeance against your brothers. Have the courage to apologize to your brothers when you make a mistake and to forgive those who have unwillingly caused you grief.           

By keeping the above, you will not be far from that servant of the Gospel, who was deemed worthy to hear the Lord telling him: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21)

And now kneel and open your heart to receive the Divine Grace of the Holy and Ritual Spirit, Who will cure you of any spiritual illness and will make up for your deficiencies, to make you a worthy Minister, sanctifying us and being sanctified yourself. Amen.”

After the placing of the Archbishop’s hands on the head of the ordained, the invocation of the Divine Grace and the reading of the prayers, along with the giving of the liturgical vestments, the people exclaimed ‘Axios’ and the service was concluded with the phrase “this is the altering of the right hand of the Most High”.

The ordained and those who honoured him were offered a reception after the service by Geronda Sacristan at his office.  

According to the order, the ordained paid his respects and received His Beatitude’s blessing on Monday 1/14 February 2022.

His Beatitude also blessed the monastic cassock of novice George Kirmitsakis, the son of the newly ordained Priest.

From Secretariat-General

 

                   

 

         

         




THE FEAST OF THE HOLY MONASTERY OF HOZEVA AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Friday 8/21 January 2022, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of the Holy Monastery of Hozeva, which is the commemoration of its founders, Saints John and George the Hozevites.

Saint John was a pillar and beacon of the Monastery, having come from Caesarea of Palestine, while Saint George came from Cyprus and rebuilt the Monastery after the total destruction by the Persian raid in AD 614, thus drawing to it a great number of monks and a multitude of Christians.

For their commemoration, the current Hegoumen and renovator of the Monastery, who has also restored its function as a Coenobium, Archimandrite Constantine, received His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos with the following address:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

With Your reverend Entourage

The holy founders of the Hozeva Lavra, John and George lived in ascesis here, not at the same time but each according to his Fathers, in honesty, integrity, love and peace. To speak plainly, they lived in union and oneness. These are virtues for which Saint Makarios of Egypt notes:

“In this manner, a lot of unanimity and peace and concord in the bond of peace can sustain each other, and live with one another in integrity and simplicity and prosperity of God” (Saint Makarios of Egypt Vol.41, Hom. 3, 21,31, p.156).

And how much coveted such unity and solidarity and sympathy in our Holy Orthodox Church is becoming nowadays, Your Beatitude, Father and Master!

We wish that by the prayers of the Saints John and George and Your Beatitude’s this unity will prevail in the end. Amen!

As Your sons, we welcome Your Beatitude wishing you a Happy Feast!”

An All-night Vigil followed, officiated by His Beatitude, with the co-celebration of their Eminences, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina and Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, the Hieromonk of the Monastery Fr Chrysogonos, Archdeacon Mark and Hierodeacon Eulogios, as the chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon and Monks Clement and Daniel. The service was attended only by a few monks due to covid restrictions.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the Lord, and he answered them. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them” (Psalm 99:6-7) the Psalmist says.

Beloved Brethren in Christ,

Holy Fathers and brothers

The Holy Spirit who came down in the form of the dove in the river Jordan at the baptism of Jesus Christ and Son of God has gathered us in this holy Monastery of Hozeva to honour the sacred memory of our Holy Father George the Hozevite.

Joyful was the previous feast of Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, glorious is the present day of the Saints of God, and this because “God is marvellous in His saints” (Psalm 68:36) according to the psalmist.

Blessed George paid heed to the psalmist words: “I awaited Thy salvation, O Lord, and Thy commandments have I loved. My soul hath kept Thy testimonies and hath loved them exceedingly. I have kept Thy commandments and Thy testimonies, for all my ways are before Thee, O Lord” (Psalm 118: 166-168), and “I have longed for Thy salvation, O Lord, and Thy law is my meditation” (Psalm 118:174). He abandoned the place of his birth, Cyprus, and came to the place of the redeeming mystery of the divine providence; the place of the nativity, crucifixion and three-day burial and resurrection of our Saviour Christ, as his hymnographer says: “Sore didst thou desire to see and to worship the Tomb of Him Whoever is, O wise George; and coming thereto, thou didst deem it a holy thing to die through asceticism with Him that was slain for His compassion’s sake” (Matins, Ode 7 Troparion 3).

In other words, blessed George sought the “immaculate and painless” life of Christ’s friends, namely the continuing city of the Kingdom of Heaven (Hebrews 13:14). He sought to put on Christ, “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:16), that is why he came to the Jordan desert, to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, according to Saint Paul’s preaching: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).

In interpreting these words of Paul, Saint Photios says: “We put on Christ and the Holy Spirit, not as a garment that surrounds us exteriorly, but in a manner that we fill our heart and mind with light and grace”. The one who has filled his heart with the light and grace becomes a saint, according to the Holy One who has called us, and you have been born into holiness, because it is written: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16), Saint Peter preaches, referencing the book of Leviticus (Lev. 11:44) and the urging of our Lord Jesus Christ “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

It is noteworthy though, that the words “be ye holy and perfect” do not refer to the essence of God but to the good works and actions and to all virtues in general. “For we are not able to become similar to the essence of God, but we can only imitate God by improving in virtues”, Saint Athanasios the Great says. “To become strangers to every malice as much as it can be possible, in both words and actions and in thought, cleansing yourselves from the impurity of malice, this is a true imitation of the divine perfection”, Saint Gregory of Nyssa says.

Of this divine perfection and holiness did Saint George become an imitator through his ascetic striving, like another John the Baptist in the Jordan desert, in Hozeva, preaching by his own example the utmost humility of Christ and His perfect love. This is also testified by his hymnographer: “The Monastery of Hozeva hath found in thee a rule and most exact example for the pursuit of every form of virtuous works, O wise George, boast of the righteous. Therefore, those who have passed their lives in godliness leap for joy with thee unto the ages” (Matins, Ode 8, Troparion 3).

Indeed, my dear brethren, Saint George became the modest ornament of the monastics and his Monastery of Hozeva a place of sanctification and confession of his commemoration (Psalm 30:4) according to the psalmist, where the light and truth of Christ, Who was baptised in the Jordan led a multitude of righteous and saints, among whom is Saint John from Caesarea, who also lived in ascesis here, and Saint John the New from Romania, whose incorrupt and fragrant relic confesses the faith of the fishermen Apostles and testifies the luminous Resurrection of Christ; the victory of Christ’s death over the death of corruption and sin.

Let us pray to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so that we who celebrate the commemoration of Saint George, may gain the redeeming light of Christ’s glory. And let us say along with the hymnographer: “With one accord, let us faithful laud with hymns God the Word, Who came forth from God, and Who ineffably took on flesh from a pure Virgin for us and in wisdom past telling descended to make Adam new again, who by eating fell grievously down into corruption’s pits” (Matins, Ode9, Heirmos). Amen. Many happy returns!”

After dismissal, the Hegoumen Archimandrite Constantine hosted a monastic meal.

On Saturday 9/22 January 2022 the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Monastery of the recently discovered Cemetery of the Hozevite holy martyrs. The church was built in their memory by the current Hegoumen Archimandrite Constantine. The icon of the holy martyrs is posted below with the chapel on the background.

From Secretariat-General




THE HAGIOTAPHITE ARCHIMANDRITE EUSEVIOS DAGALAS HAS SLEPT IN THE LORD

On Saturday morning, 2/15 January 2022, the Hagiotaphite Archimandrite Eusevios Dagalas slept in the Lord. Our blessed brother was found dead in his cell by the Elder Dragoman Archimandrite Mattheos.

Prior to this morning, the departed had gone to the monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen and led the Byzantine chanting for the feast of the Apodosis of Christmas, and on Thursday night he was seen at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the Liturgy of the Lord’s Circumcision and of Saint Basil the Great.

His funeral service was held at 15:30 on Saturday afternoon at the chapel dedicated to Saint Thecla, by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and the co-celebration of all the Archbishops of the Patriarchate and many Hagiotaphite Fathers. The service was attended by the Nuns of the Patriarchate and laity from the Russian and Arab-speaking flocks and the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras.

The obituary was delivered by Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina as follows:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

Your Eminences Holy Archbishops,

Your Excellency Mr Consul General of Greece,

Dear Fathers and Brethren in Christ,

Having recently celebrated the Metropolis of the feasts, the feast of Christmas, in Bethlehem and in our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, and yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Lord’s circumcision and the commemoration of Saint Basil the Great, along with the beginning of the new civil year, it is with great sadness and sorrow of heart that today, Saturday, as we commemorate Saint Silvestros Pope of Rome and Saint Seraphim of Sarov, we found our brother, Archimandrite Eusevios to have suffered a sudden death in his cell. The last time we saw him, he was chanting at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen on the feast of the Apodosis of Christmas.

Our sadness on this sudden departure and separation can be comforted by our Lord Jesus Christ though, Who died as a man on the Cross and was risen from the dead. It is only in Him and His teaching that we find the healing of our broken hearts.

Thus encouraged, we offer our departed brother the established by the Church funeral service and the honour our Brotherhood attributes to him. Archimandrite Eusevios was born in Achladochori of Siniki in Serres by a pious family and came to the Patriarchal School at a very young age. After his graduation, he joined the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood as a Monk and diligently studied and excelled in the Greek language and the Byzantine Tradition of Music. After his ordination to Deacon and later to Priest, and having received the title of the Archimandrite, he was sent to study Theology at the Theological School of Leningrad in Russia, where he excelled in the Russian language.

When he returned to Jerusalem, he served with zeal and devotion in various ministries of the Brotherhood, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, at the Secretariat Office, the Holy Monastery of Capernaum, the Holy Monastery of Saint Charalambos, the Holy Monastery of the Holy Ancestors of God Joachim and Anna and at the Archives office.

He served as the left Byzantine singer at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and for many years as the leading Byzantine singer at the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen. Through his sweet voice and the precision of Byzantine music, he delivered the hymns in a manner that brought joy, contrition to our souls, and communion with God.

“But death came, and made all these disappear”. We will not hear him again rejoicing our hearing and softening our hearts in this time, but in the future to come, at the Resurrection of the dead.

In this faith and hope, we pray to the One Who has the power over life and death and of the remission of sins, to pardon him for any sins he committed as a man, voluntarily and involuntarily and receive him to praise Him in His heavenly dwellings, along with the righteous, where the Light of the One God in Three Persons shines abundantly and His perfect Love and unmeasurable and infinite compassion comforts and reigns.

Everlasting his remembrance!”

The funeral procession was led by His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, to conclude the service with the departed’s burial at the cemetery of the Patriarchate in Holy Zion.

Everlasting his remembrance!

From Secretariat-General