THE THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EPISCOPAL OFFICE OF METROPOLITAN KYRIAKOS OF NAZARETH
On Sunday, 11/24 October 2021, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Synod (AD 787), who restored the holy icons, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth celebrated the anniversary of thirty years of prosperous, fruitful and under good oath Episcopal Office in the Metropolis of Nazareth.
On this occasion, the Episcopal Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Shrine of the Holy Church of the Metropolis dedicated to the Annunciation of the Theotokos. The Liturgy was officiated by the celebrating Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth. His Holy Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos was represented by His Eminence Archbishop Methodios of Tabor, who came from Jerusalem, and co-celebrated at the Liturgy along with His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis. Co-celebrants also were, Elder Kamarasis Archimandrite Nectarios, the Hegoumen of Tiberias Archimandrite Parthenios and Hierodeacon Eulogios, the Hegoumens of the Holy Monasteries of Galilee, the Priests of the Shrine of Nazareth and other Priests from the neighbouring communities. The Service was attended by the President of the Nazareth Community, the caretakers of the Church, Mr Caesar Marjie and a large congregation.
During the service His Eminence Methodios read the address of His Beatitude as per below:
“To His Eminence, Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, brother in Christ and co-celebrant to Our Mediocrity, a holy greeting in Christ Jesus.
Through this Patriarchal writing, we joyfully participate in the gleeful day of your dearly beloved holiness, on the completion of a prosperous thirty-year ministry in the Holy Shrine of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, and your God-pleasing pastoral care in the God-redeemed Holy Metropolis of Nazareth of our Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, congratulating you with all Our heart.
It is indeed right that our reverend flock in Nazareth honours your holiness, for which you have given yourself in your Episcopal Office in this Metropolis, defending as a genuine Hagiotaphite Father the irrefutable privileges and rights of the Patriarchate in the Holy Land and this is in praise and benefit of our Holy Congregation and our Rum Orthodox Patriarchate.
Congratulating again your dearly beloved holiness, and wishing many happy returns in health and strength, for the benefit you the flock that has been entrusted to you, we offer you the holy osculation from the All-holy and Life-giving Sepulchre and remain.”
At noon, His Eminence Metropolitan of Nazareth offered a meal and thanked His Beatitude and all who honoured him as follows:
“Your Eminence, Archbishop Methodios of Tabor, Representative of His Holy Beatitude,
Your Eminence, Holy brother Joachim, Metropolitan of Helenoupolis,
Beloved Fathers and Brethren,
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the intercessions of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and all the Saints, especially of my patron Saint our Holy glorious Father Kyriakos the Anchorite, have deemed us worthy to be present today in the gathering of the Eucharistic Doxology, on the occasion of the completion of thirty years since that blessed day of my entrance in the Holy city of Nazareth as a Metropolitan.
I owe special whole-hearted thanksgiving to His Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch Theophilos, for His Patriarchal support and care about the needs and the difficulties we face in the course of our humble Episcopal ministry in Nazareth, as well as for His Patriarchal blessing today, which is expressed through the presence of two dear brother Bishops, His Eminence Archbishop Methodios of Tabor and His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis.
I also thank warmly the President and the members of the Community Council for their good cooperation and precious help in the mission of the Metropolis, and also the President and the members of the Committee of the High Council.
Especially and gratefully, I thank for their love my beloved Priests, who unceasingly day and night serve our communities without complaint, these special and blessed people of Nazareth, and in this manner, we walk down the same path, in prayer, patience and love, in our feeble strength, but nevertheless, amidst God’s Providence. To Him belongs all glory, honour and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
PRIEST’S ORDINATION FOR THE ARAB-SPEAKING FLOCK AT THE PATRIARCHATE
On Sunday morning, 10/23 October 2021, during the Divine Liturgy at the Horrendous Golgotha, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina officiated the ordination to Priest of Deacon Elias Spyridon Awad, who has been appointed to serve at the Arab-speaking flock of the Patriarchate in Zdeide, a town of the Acre-Ptolemais district in northern Israel.
Co-celebrants to His Eminence were, the Patriarchal Representative in Acre-Ptolemais Archimandrite Philotheos and Priests from Acre, the ministering Priests of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Archdeacon Mark. The chanting was delivered by Hierodeacon Simeon and the Service was attended by faithful Christians from Jerusalem and pilgrims, the wife and children of the newly ordained Priest, and members of the Zdeide Community.
Before the ordination His Eminence addressed Fr Elias as follows:
“Most devout Deacon Elias,
Beloved Brethren in Christ,
At the holiest place of the world, the Horrendous Golgotha, the place of the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and at the All-holy Sepulchre, the place of His Resurrection from the dead, do we observe at this hour the most Holy Sacrament of the Church, the Eucharist, and within it, the Sacrament of your ordination to Priest.
The Church of Jerusalem, the Mother of Churches, by the decision of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and the Holy and Sacred Synod, calls you today to receive the Grace of the Holy Spirit and be placed at the second degree of Priesthood.
It is a great honour that the Church gives you, but also great is the responsibility it places upon you because it has appreciated the simplicity and the humility of your manner of living as well as the stability of your repentance. From henceforth, the Church places its trust on you to officiate the Baptism, so that new people will become its members, the Holy Eucharist, to give the Body and Blood of Christ, the Unction, and all other Sacraments, so that the people will find healing in their bodies and souls and be sanctified and saved.
For the success of your Priestly ministry, you should apply the Lord’s words, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41), and “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life” (John 5:39). Study the Holy Bible and preach it to the faithful, like it is explained by the old God-bearing Fathers of the Church, such as Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian, and more recent ones, like Saint Nectarios.
The Church draws your attention so that you do not deviate either to the right or to the left, but to walk the straight path of Orthodoxy, keeping in fear and great attention the consignment that will be given to you in a few minutes.
At the hour of your ordination as well as during the full course of your priestly ministry, be sure that you will be accompanied by the prayers of H.H.B. the Patriarch of Jerusalem and of my mediocrity, of the Patriarchal Representative in Acre Archimandrite Philotheos and other co-celebrant Priests who are your brethren, of your blessed father Presbyter Spyridon, your wife and children, who you brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), the representatives of Zdeide Community, which has been appointed as the place of your ministry, and all who honour you with their presence.
In fear of God and trust, kneel and pray to receive the Grace of the Holy Spirit and become a chosen vessel of God, a new man and preacher of His wonders.”
After the Dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, the newly ordained Priest paid his respect to His Beatitude, while His Beatitude admonished him in fatherly and spiritual words for the encouragement of his ministry in the Zdeide community.
PASTORAL MEETING OF H.H.B. THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS WITH THE RAMALLAH DISTRICT PRIESTS
On Tuesday morning, 6/19 October 2021, the day of the commemoration of the Holy Glorious Apostle Thomas, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Holy Church of the Transfiguration of our Lord in Ramallah.
Co-celebrants and participants in prayer in this Liturgy were by the invitation and preparation of the Hegoumen of Ramallah Archimandrite Galaktion the Priests of the Ramallah District in the West Bank; Ramallah Priest Fr Iakovos, Jifna Priest Fr George Awad, Ein Arik Priest Fr Nickolaos, Taybe Priest Fr David, Zababde Priest Fr Athanasios, Hegoumen of Beit Jala and the Monastery of the Shepherds Archimandrite Ignatios, Beit Jala Priests Yuseph Hodali, Paul and Elias, Nazareth ministering Priest Simeon, Patriarchal Representative of Acre-Ptolemais Archimandrite Philotheos, Hegoumen of Haifa Archimandrite Artemios, Abelin Priest Fr Savvas, Hegoumen of Rafidia Archimandrite Leontios, Caretaker of Bourkin Monk Bissarion, Yaffo Priest Fr Constantin, Jifna former Priest Fr Andreas, Saint James Cathedral Priest George Baramki, Bethlehem Priests Spyridon, Issa Thaljie and George Jakaman.
H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos participated in the Liturgy, having arrived from Jerusalem with their Eminences, Geronda Secretary-General Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis and Archdeacon Mark.
His Beatitude addressed all present as follows:
“Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord” (Psalm 134:1), the psalmist sings.
Beloved Fathers and Brethren in Christ,
Let us bless our Holy Trinitarian God who deemed us, His ministers, worthy, to gather in the beautiful city of Ramallah under the wings of our Holy Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, to show our unity in Christ on the one hand, “for we are members one of another in Christ” (Eph. 4:25); and on the other, to show our identity in Christ, “as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18).
And the unity refers to the mission appointed by the Church of the ordained spiritual shepherd, according to Paul’s words: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).
While the identity refers to our unbreakable bond with the Name of Christ, Who, “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), according to Paul.
It is noteworthy that our identity in Christ does not refute, but on the contrary strengthens the love of the country, the love of the place we were born, according to the example set by our Lord Jesus, Who “when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue” (Matt. 13:54, Luke 4:16). Nevertheless, “here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
Our clergy meeting, which takes place at the occupied by Israel territory of the Palestinian State, has special importance for our reverend Christian flock as well as for the reverend Priests who serve in the various towns; their liturgical, namely the Eucharistic ministry and pastoral care is more necessary than ever.
And we say this, because the Deacon, namely the Priest of the Church is an abettor of our Chief Shepherd, Christ, and His “fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God” (Col. 4:11), according to the Chief of the Apostles Paul, Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria, and by the confirmation of the Cappadocians, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom and other God-bearing Fathers.
These Great and God-bearing Fathers of the Church became imitators of Saint Paul according to his command: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (1 Cor. 4:15-16).
Indeed, they became imitators of Saint Paul as per his advice to Timothy: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness…That thou keep this commandment without spot…O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so-called” (1 Timothy 6:11-20).
Our Holy Church and especially our Venerable Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, like another Arc and caring mother, never ceased its care for our tested flock, and not only, through the unceasing prayers at the All-holy and Life-giving Sepulchre of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the good works. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Concluding this Fatherly and Patriarchal greeting in our Lord we wish for the good outcome and increase in Christ during the proceedings of our meeting, always bearing in our minds and hearts the words of Saint Chrysostom: “The Priesthood is held on earth, however, it has the order of heavenly things”.
The Grace of our God and Saviour through the intercessions of the Most Blessed Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and all the Saints be we us all. Amen.”
His Beatitude and the clergy meeting were welcomed by the Mayor of Ramallah, Mr Farah Hadid.
DEACON’S ORDINATION FOR THE RUM ORTHODOX ARAB-SPEAKING FLOCK
On Saturday morning, 3/16 October 2021 at the Horrendous Golgotha His Eminence Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias officiated the ordination to Deacon of Elias Spyridon, son of the blessed Presbyter Spyridon from Abelin, a town in Northern Israel, the Acre-Ptolemais district.
Co-celebrants to His Eminence were, the Patriarchal Representative in Acre-Ptolemais district Archimandrite Philotheos and Arab-speaking Priests from northern Israel, along with the wife and children of the ordained and many faithful Christians.
According to the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod, the newly ordained Deacon will be ordained a Priest after the appointed time for his preparation, to serve at the community of Zdeide in northern Israel.
Before the ordination, His Eminence delivered the following pastoral words about the office of Priesthood:
كلمة متروبوليت كابيتولياس إيسيخيوس الجزيل الإحترام في رسامة الشماس الياس إسبيريدون عواد
يشرفني أن أكون حاضراً بينكم في هذا اليوم المميّز. فلقد شعرت بفرح عظيم عندما كلفني صاحب الغبطة كيريوس كيريوس ثيوفيلوس الثالث والمجمع المقدس بان أناب عنه في هذه الرسامة المقدسة. “وألا ما احسن وما أجمل أن يسكن الإخوة معاً”. فهذا فرح عظيم في السماء وعلى الأرض, حيث يُسام خادم جليلٌ للعلي.
إن العلي قد إختارك أيها الشماس لتخدم رعيته وتقود شعبه الى برّ الخلاص. فرسالتك عظيمة بما أن القدير ذاته قد إختارك. “فاحفظ الوديعة” التي سلمك إياها الرب الإله. إعرف جيداً أنك ستواجه الأخطار في هذا العالم, لكنك ستتخطاها وتحظى بالنصر الإلهي “لأن الله معنا”. إتخذ أباك المرحوم المغبوط إسبيريدون عواد قدوةً, فهو مثال للراعي الصالح الذي “يبذل نفسه عن الخراف”. ورغم هذه المهمة الصعبة لا تخف أبداً, “لأنه يوصي ملائكته بك ليحفظوك في جميع طرقك”, حيث سيهبك الرب الصبر والقوة على هذا الحمل الثقيل.
يبارك لك صاحب الغبطة كيريوس كيريوس ثيوفيلوس الثالث وكافة أعضاء المجمع المقدس هذه الرسامة الأولى. نبارك أيضاً لعائلتك ولذويك وللجليل الأعلى هذا الإبن البار, الذي “حمل الصليب كالنير وتبع المسيح عن أيمان”. لهم منا كل التقدير والإحترام. فليحفظك وليحفظهم الثالوث القدوس ولتحل بركته عليكم كافةً.
متروبوليت كابيتولياس إيسيخيوس
The ordained heard attentively these words and humbly kneeled to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, through the placing of the Metropolitan’s hands.
After the Liturgy, the new Deacon and the Episcopal entourage went to the Patriarchate Headquarters to thank His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos for this honour and His Beatitude admonished him as a Father and blessed him for the prosperity of his ministry.
The Deacon replied to His Beatitude’s words as follows:
بإسم الآب والإبن والروح القدس آمين
غبطة البطريرك كيريوس كيريوس ثيوفيلوس الثالث بطريرك المدينة المقدسة أورشليم وسائر فلسطين والأردن والسادة المطارنة الأجلاء وجميع أعضاء المجمع المقدس المُوقر.
يا صاحب الغبطة, بعد تقبيل أياديكم الطاهرة أتقدم لغبطتكم بالشكر والإحترام لقبولكم رجعتي الى أحضان طاعتكم والكنيسة الواحدة كالإبن الذي كان ضالاً ورجع الى أبيه تائباً. وعلى قراركم المقدس لمنحكم لي بركتكم وموافقتكم على سيامتي شماساً في هذا اليوم ومن ثم في الأسبوع القادم سيامتي كاهناً في مطرانية عكا. فأتوجه بطلب من غبطتكم طالباً صلواتكم وأدعيتكم المستجابة بأكن أكون عند حسن ظن غبطتكم وطاعتكم وأقوم بواجبي بكل محبة وصبر لخدمة الكنيسة والرعية على أتم وأحسن وجه, وأكون مطيعاً لقرارت غبطتكم والمجمع المقدس.
من خلال نعمة الروح القدس التي إنسكبت عليّ بوضع أيديكم الطاهرة في هذا اليوم أدعو لغبطتكم بدوام الصحة والعافية وأن يزيدكم الرب القوة والحكمة والقداسة, آمين.
وأتوجه بالشكر أيضاً لقدس الأرشمندريت فيلوثيوس الوكيل البطريركي في مطرانية بتوليماييس في مدينة عكا وجميع أخوتي الكهنة الذين رافقوني اليوم مع جميع الحضور الكريم. وأشكر أيضاً زوجتي وأولادي الذين رافقوني وسيرافقوني الى كل الأيام.
أشكركم جميعاً وأشكر الله بربنا يسوع المسيح أولاً وآخراً الذي رتّب لهذا اليوم المبارك. آمين
DEACON’S ORDINATION AT THE PATRIARCHATE
The ordination of the Monk Anastasios Kirmitzakis to Deacon was observed at the All-night Vigil at the Holy Sepulchre on 1st/14th October 2021.
He has been serving at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a novice monk and having been tested and proven worthy, the Holy and Sacred Synod approved his joining of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood through the Monk’s tonsure, and consequently his receiving the first degree of the Priesthood as a Deacon.
His ordination to Deacon was officiated by the Geronda Sacristan of the Holy Sepulchre, His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis.
Before the ordination, His Eminence delivered the following spiritual words regarding Priesthood:
“Most devout subdeacon Anastasios,
Our Holy Church, a little while ago, prayed through my hands to your head and begged the Holy Spirit to claim you with the following gifts:
First: To love the dignity of the house of God.
Second: to stand guard at the gates of the Temple and to light the lamp, that is, the candle on the tabernacle of the Glory of God,
and third: to settle down and take root within the Church and to be cultivated within it, like an olive tree, producing fruits of righteousness, until you are perfected by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and receive the reward that is due to those who please the Lord.
It is certain that you loved the dignity of the house of God because you already serve and take care of the universally unique Holy Temple, the All-holy Church of the Resurrection, which contains the All-holy and Life-giving Sepulchre of our Lord and the Horrendous Golgotha.
The grace of the Holy Spirit led your steps and took you on a journey from the city of Saint Demetrius, the Holy See, the capital of our Macedonia, Thessaloniki, and brought you to the Holy Land.
It made you worthy to stand at the gates of the Holy and Life-giving Tomb and to receive the pious Pilgrims, just as the Angel received the Myrrh-bearers and to announce to them the joyful message that Christ is Risen!
You have already remained vigilant and participated in chanting in the Divine and Holy Liturgy, leading the candle of the Holy Gifts at the Great Entrance, as the prophets preceded and prepared the coming of the Lord God and Word.
The obedience, which you showed, your patience in the difficult times of temptation, your meekness, your willingness to perform your ministry, the love with which you surround your brothers, did not pass unnoticed.
His Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch Theophilos III has been watching your course for a long time and having appreciated your spiritual progress, He decided together with the Holy and Sacred Synod to place you in the bosom of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood as a Monk, and promote you to the office of the Deacon soon afterwards.
From your new position of the Deacon, you are invited to enter the Holy Altar, to stand next to the Holy Table and to serve the Holy Sacraments.
In your ministry, you will have the living example of the First Deacon and First Martyr Saint Stephen. Just like him, you will find yourself in the midst of various temptations and you will be in danger. For this reason, we ask the Divine Grace to fill you with Faith and spiritual power, so that you may be able to overcome any temptation.
His Beatitude, our Father and Patriarch, the Holy and Sacred Synod and all the Hagiotaphite Fathers will support and help you in this new state, to stand firm in this spiritual struggle to the end with the help of God.
The grace of God will cover you and the Holy Light, which gushes through the Holy and Life-giving Tomb will enlighten you and dissolve the darkness of this world.
And now, bow down your knees and humbly accept the coming of the Holy and Ritual Spirit, Who will alter you and turn you into a vessel of His election.”
The Divine Liturgy and the ordination were attended by Hagiotaphite Fathers, Monks, Nuns and pilgrims, who exclaimed the “Axios” at the ordination.
After Dismissal, Geronda Sacristan, His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis offered a reception for the ordained and those who honoured him at the Sacristan’s Office.
In the morning, the newly ordained Deacon paid his respect to His Beatitude and asked for His blessing.
THE HAGIOTAPHITE ARCHIMANDRITE ANTHIMOS HAS SLEPT IN THE LORD
Before midnight on Thursday 20 August/ 2 September 2021, after an old age illness over the last few months, the elder Archimandrite Anthimos Theocharakis slept in the Lord at the age of 90. He was the Hegoumen of the Monastery of Men of Galilee on the Mount of Olives.
The Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, which the departed served so well according to his monastic vows, observed his funeral service under the lead of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos at the central Monastery in Saint Thecla’s chapel at 4:00 p.m. on Friday 21 August /3 September 2021. Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were the Hagiotaphite Archbishops, Hieromonks and Hierodeacons, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras and the participation in prayer of Monks, Nuns and representatives of the Arab-speaking flock from the Communities the departed served.
The eulogy was delivered by the Secretary-General His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina as follows:
“Your Beatitude Father and Master,
Reverend chorea of Hierarchs,
Mr Consul General of Greece,
Beloved Brethren in Christ,
In profound sorrow and contrition, we stand before the dead body of the yesterday-departed to the Lord, our elder brother, Hagiotaphite Archimandrite Anthimos. We stand wondering, how did this mystery happen? How have we become one with decay? How did we mingle with death? How was the harmonious bond between soul and body broken? How was the soul violently separated from the body? The answer to our human thoughts comes from the Church hymnographer’s words, ‘the taste of the wood of old in Eden became sorrow for Adam’; meaning that man was cut off from the union of the source of life by his own free will and brought death upon himself.
Out of His boundless mercy, God did not suffer to see His creature in decay and perdition and became man in Christ, was made incarnate and received death, so that He may save His creature this way. Our consolation in this dreadful time of death, by God’s Providence, is Christ our God, who assures us that “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Similarly, comforting is the assurance of the Church in its prayers that burying a dead body is not death to those who believe in Christ, but a translation from the temporary to the eternal life, from the earthly to the heavenly, from sorrow to gladness. It is the cherishing of the heavenly pastures not “through a glass, darkly; but face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12).
In the certainty of this faith, we surpass our human sorrow for the separation from our dear brother and accompany him to his last heavenly residence. We bring to our memory that he came to the Holy Land from Crete, where he was born, at a young age and devoted himself to our Holy Community. He joined our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and received the Monastic Schema, followed by the Office of Priesthood. Ever since, having love for his brethren, never judging anyone, being hopeful, condescending and pleasant, he served the Church of Jerusalem, the Mother of Churches and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood therein. He served in good faith, with zeal and Hagiotaphite, Pilgrimage and Pastoral devotion in various posts; as Hegoumen of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, at the Monastery of Praetorion, at the Tomb of the Theotokos in Gethsemane, at the Great Martyr George in Lydda, at the Sarantarion Mount, at the Monastery of Elisha in Jericho by the sycamore tree of Zacchaeus. For the last twenty years, he had been the Hegoumen of the Holy Monastery of Men of Galilee (Galili Viri) on the Mount of Olives, where he kept weekly Services, as he did at the chapel of the Dormition. He renovated the Monastery, building a new wing at his own expense.
Accompanying him at his departure today with these pleasant memories, we entreat our merciful God to count these good words of his and forsake his wrongdoings, whether voluntary or involuntary and place his soul in Paradise, among the holy and the righteous, granting him the joy of the light of His three-sun Divinity. So be it.
May his memory be everlasting!”
The departed Archimandrite to the eternal dwelling places of the Lord was buried at the Cemetery of the Holy Zion.
May his memory be everlasting.
HONORARY RECEPTION FOR THE SCHOOL OF ZION GRADUATES BY THE CONSUL GENERAL OF GREECE IN JERUSALEM
On Thursday afternoon on the Feast of the Ascension, 28 May/ 10 June 2021, the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras, continuing his ongoing interest in the Patriarchal School of Holy Zion, hosted a reception in honour of the Zion School Graduates at the Greek General Consulate which is also his house estate.
The reception was attended by the full group of students, the Managing Director of the School, Archimandrite Mattheos, the School Teachers, the Consul General’s wife and son, the Consul Mrs Christina Zaharioudaki and the Consulate staff members. Invited were also, H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the Chairman of the School Board, His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina and Geronda Secretary-General and Archdeacon Mark.
The students chanted the Apolytikion of the feast of the Ascension and the Consul General delivered the following address:
Our dearest children,
It is a special honour and pleasure for my colleagues and for me personally, to welcome you today to the Consulate General of Greece in Jerusalem, on the occasion of the end of this school year at the Patriarchal School of Zion.
I think it is a common finding that this school year included many and varied challenges, both in health and in education. In these circumstances, the Patriarchal School of Holy Zion, with its students, teachers and staff, managed to continue its operation smoothly, contributing to the work of our Patriarchate. The conscientiousness, the responsibility and the devotion of the worthy Managing School Directory and the staff of the School as well as the love for learning, the consistency and the discipline of its students contributed decisively to this success.
Allow me, on behalf of the Authority we serve, to express to the administration, the teaching staff, and the staff of the Patriarchal School of Holy Zion our appreciation and respect for the important and national work that is being done despite the difficulties.
Special thanks should be addressed to You, Your Beatitude, for the paternal love with which you surround the School’s work. Your devotion to the multidimensional work carried out at the School for the preservation and promotion of Greek and Orthodox education in the Holy Land, and Your tireless efforts to continue this work are recognized by all, both here in the Holy Land and in our Homeland. Thanks should also be extended to the Chairman of the School Board, His Eminence Archbishop of Hierapolis.
I would also like to assure you, the members of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the staff and students of the School that our support and assistance to the Patriarchal School of Zion, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood is and remains complete, and meaningful.
At this point, I take this opportunity to thank everyone for the unparalleled hospitality we have received since our arrival in Jerusalem.
We had the pleasure to meet you during the year in different opportunities and in different places. We have seen you serve with deep faith, reverence and obedience the liturgical work of the Church, to serve willingly where there was a need, to study consistently, with some breaks it is the truth, to achieve your learning goals, to defend vigorously and with determination the rights of the Holy Institution and especially, in times that imposed social isolation and distance, to maintain unity among yourself and to coexist, in the bond of the love of Christ.
We rejoiced in your friendship, we appreciated your kindness, and several Sundays, we shared with you the joy of the Resurrection.
We wish you heartfelt health and every blessing from God.
Consul General of Greece “.
His Beatitude thanked the Consul General for his interest in the School underlining His petition to the Students, to remain in Israel, if they wish, where they can study foreign languages funded by the Patriarchate.
THE EPITAPH SERVICE AT THE PATRIARCHATE
On Good Friday evening, 17/30 April 2021, the Epitaph Service was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
On this feast, which was led by our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos the chanting began with the Canon of Holy Saturday, until His Beatitude, the Archbishops and the Priests were dressed in their liturgical vestments. Then the Synaxarion of the day was read, about the Burial and the Cathode into Hades of our Lord Jesus Christ, followed by the Procession with a special prayer around each of the shrines. After the shrines on the ground floor, the Procession marched up to the Horrendous Golgotha, the Gospel narrative on the Crucifixion was read and the silk corporal, full of flowers, was removed from the Altar, to be placed at the Holy Deposition slate, before marching three times around the shrine, then around the Sacred Edicule and the silk corporal was placed on the Holy Tomb.
Then the chanting of the 3 Parts of the Lamentations began, to conclude with the Epitaph Sermon which was read by Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina. The Sermon is as per below:
“How shall I bury Thee, my God?
How shall I wrap Thee in a winding sheet?
How shall I touch Thy most pure body with my hands?
What song at Thy departure shall I sing to Thee,
O, compassionate Saviour?
I magnify Thy sufferings; I sing the praises of Thy burial
and Thy Resurrection crying: O Lord, Glory to Thee”
With these weeping words,
Your Beatitude Father and Master,
Reverend chorea of Hierarchs,
Your Excellency Mr Consul General of Greece,
Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took the Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ the Nazarene, down from the Wood and buried Him in a new tomb “wherein was never man yet laid” (John 19:41).
This event, the deposition from the Cross and the burial of the Divine Body of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ and His descent into Hades, is commemorated by the Church today. It is held at Matins before the dawn of the Holy and Great Saturday, during this modest contrite Epitaph Service on Holy and Great Friday evening.
Today the Church primarily commemorates the Cross. It gratefully remembers that for the salvation of the people, the Lord willingly accepted the Passion on the Cross, for which He was condemned unjustly and illegally.
It commemorates the Lord’s words: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18). The Cross was God’s Providence in order to heal the man, the great wound. This redeeming Providence of God does not make the crucifiers choice a necessity. They behaved according to their own free will. They crucified Jesus of Nazareth because they did not recognize the Son of God in Him. The healings He performed on the Sabbath days were considered a violation of God’s Law; the remission of sins and the revelation that He is “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (Mark 14:21). However, in His love, God turned the iniquity of men into their benevolence. He granted them remission of their sins by the Blood of the Incarnate Son of His; “by the emptying of Your divinely flowing blood, O Master Christ, from Your pure and life-giving side” (Octoechos, Sunday Matins, Ode 9, tone 5) as it is inscribed on the Holy Altar of the Horrendous Golgotha. “Springs of remission, life, salvation and eternal life” are gushing out from the Blood and Water that were shed from the Cross once and for all, and from the Blood that is shed in every Holy Eucharist “the Blood of the New Testament” (Luke 22:23).
The great Prophet Isaiah foretold centuries ago about this mystery of the Divine Philanthropy: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. Surely Ηe hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Ηim stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes, we are healed. All we, like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Reading of Isaiah, 6th Royal Hour of Good Friday).
Despite this foretelling by Isaiah and of the other Prophets’ words, despite the fact that the Incarnate Lord “Jesus of Nazareth spent” His life on earth “benefiting and healing people”(Acts 10:38), despite the signs and the miracles, despite that fact that “never man spake like this man” (John 7:46), “the preaching of the Cross” according to Saint Paul remains for “the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:23), but to those who believe in Him “it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
Christ’s Cross, “as God’s power and God’s wisdom” is believed and venerated by the Church, His Body, which has been gushed from His pierced side. The Church accepts and preaches Him to the world, as her Crucified Bridegroom and as the one who through the meekness of the Cross is “the King of Glory”, Who by the power of His sacrifice on the Cross and humility went down to Hades with Divine authority and His descent into Hades, as it is also depicted in the icon, is already His Resurrection for the Church, as He co-raises Adam and his long-ago bound descendants, and they return to Paradise; this is the event that we experience at this moment with the Cross. For this reason, the grateful Church sings thus: “We venerate Thy Cross Oh Master, and we magnify and glorify Thy Resurrection”.
The Church has also included our Roman Greek nation among those who accept the Cross of Christ as “God’s power and God’s wisdom”. This nation has been distinguished at all fields of science and left an incomparable beneficial – classical and scientific – heritage to all the nations; it also distinguished itself – what an irony! – at mythological imagination and ingenuity. However, it realised the non-existence of its mythology “at the appointed time” and accepted Christ and was transformed from a pagan nation to a Christian nation, a holy nation. The first fruits of this “little leaven which leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6), were those who believed in Apostle Paul’s preaching unto Areopagus, “among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17:34). Ever since, as Rum Orthodox, we gratefully accept the gift of “believing in Christ and suffering for Christ”, as grace and a blessing, and as a talent, we need to multiply, without boasting over “the good olive tree” (Romans 11:24), always remembering that we were a wild olive tree, and were “grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11;17) and pray for Christ’s crucifiers, just as Christ prayed for them from the Cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), and co-suffer with them, just as Paul said: “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren”, meaning that I could wish, if possible, to be separated for good from Christ for the sake of my brethren, “my kinsmen according to the flesh, which are the Jews” (Romans 9:3). We do not forget that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29), which means that the first-called Jews and all the unbeliever Gentiles are still awaited at the Cross of Christ. This was and shall be the mindset of our nation, that of Paul’s, that is, Jewish, Evangelical, not anti-Jewish or Anti-Semitic.
These marvels of God, of the salvation of the people in Christ Incarnate and Crucified, Who slept in the flesh and was Resurrected, the Church of Holy Sion, “which was the first to receive the remission of sins through the Resurrection”, holds like a gift and a consignment not only to experience physically but also to preach and proclaim them at the land where they were revealed. At this hour, surrounding the blessed and life-giving Tomb, in this contrite Epitaph Ceremony, which is blessed by its Holy Primate, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the Church of Jerusalem primarily prays for the rapid and complete cure of the tested humanity by the infectious pandemic, for the peace and good state of the whole world, for the stability and unity of the Holy Orthodox Churches of God and for the advancement and progress of our nation for the glory of our Trinitarian God. So be it.”
After the Sermon the changing by Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos continued with the Blessings, the Praises and the contrite Service finished. The Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and the Consulate staff, along with many faithful, due to the lifting of the covid-19 restrictions. However, there were no pilgrims, as they are still not allowed to travel to Israel.
At the end of the Service, the Patriarchal Entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters to prepare for the Service of the Holy Light the next morning.
THE NAMEDAY OF HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS III
On Saturday 14/27 March 2021, the Name Day of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III was celebrated by transference as “Parresia” (Boldness) according to the Status Quo at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In the afternoon of the previous day, after the reading of the ninth Hour at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, the Patriarchal Entourage marched in Procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Vespers was officiated in the Catholicon by His Beatitude, with Hagiotaphite Archbishops praying inside the Altar and the co-celebration of the Service was held by Hagiotaphite Hieromonks.
On Feast Day, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was officiated by His Beatitude at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were their Eminences; Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, the Archbishops; Damascene of Yaffo, Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Theodosios of Sebastia, Demetrios of Lydda, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis and Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Archdeacon Mark and other Deacons. The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon, the Patriarchal Representative in Acre-Ptolemais Reverend Archimandrite Philotheos and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, Monks, Nuns and members of the Greek Community of the Patriarchate’s flock.
After the Divine Liturgy, there was a Doxology for the commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and the event of the celebration of His Beatitude’s Name Day.
The Doxology was followed by the return to the Patriarchate Headquarters, where Geronda Secretary-General addressed His Beatitude as follows:
“Your Beatitude Father and Master,
The commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs, who confessed the Name of Christ and were brutally tortured, suffering martyrdom at the glacier of the lake Sabastia of Pontus during the reign of Liciniοus in AD 320, projects the 9th March as a bright station of spiritual supply of courage and hope for the faithful, in order to continue the fasting and every other virtue in their course towards the experience of the Holy Pascha.
These Μartyrs, who fought well and received the crown of victory are festively honoured by the whole Church today because they considered death as nought, and through death, they exchanged the earthly life with the unending eternal one. “They lost their souls, their lives for the sake of Christ and found it again in Him” (Matt. 10:39). They are more festively celebrated by the Mother of Churches and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood because Your Beatitude bears the name of one of them. Honouring these Saints today, and as a Martyr, the Church of Jerusalem offers its deep respect to Your Beatitude, the owned honour and the monastic and Hagiotaphite obedience in Christ. Following the Status Quo, we celebrated the Divine Eucharist with a Doxology at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Body and Blood of Christ were united, and by this power, there was intercession for the unity of faith and the communion in Christ in its bosom and among the Orthodox Churches of God. We firstly prayed for the health and stability of our Father and Shepherd. We asked God that He may “grant Your Beatitude to the holy Churches in peace, sound, righteous, healthy, in long life and keep the word of truth right”.
By the dwelling in us of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth from the divine Eucharist, we truly address Your Beatitude in this historic hall of the Patriarchate, remembering all things of good fame, zeal and tireless Pastoral care You have accomplished for our Patriarchate.
Initially, it is mentioned that Your Beatitude has made every effort so that the holy Shrines, which suffer unprecedented consequences in their long history due to the lack of pilgrims within the covid-19 pandemic, still function as places of worship with the keeping of all Liturgical Services according to the Status Quo, with few or more Monks, Nuns or local faithful Christians, after the agreement with the Health Authorities of each area of the Patriarchate’s jurisdiction.
The unavoidably influenced by the pandemic spiritual and administrative communication has been conducted through the internet with the well-known by now “zoom”, either for the resumption of the dialogue to strengthen the unity between the Orthodox Churches, or for the activation of issues of participation of the Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches or the Middle East Council of Churches, or for the meetings of the Heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem under the care of the Patriarchate, or for the operation of the Synodical institution, enabling thus the participation of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod who live in Greece and Jordan.
As far as the financial issue is concerned, yes, there have been delays in the payment of the monthly blessing of the Hagiotaphite Fathers, the clergy and teachers’ salaries, as well as of other employees of the Patriarchate, mainly due to the pandemic, resulting in difficulties of money transactions by the banks, however, there have not in any case been any pay cuts nor layoffs. Relevant to this, we should mention in gratitude that the granted financial aid to Monks and Clergy by the Greek General Consulate in Jerusalem, through a noble source a few months ago, came like the dew of Hermon in the existing financial draught.
For the needs of the Holy Churches of our Rum-Orthodox Arab-speaking flock, our Patriarchate responded through the aid of donors, as in the case of the iconostasis and the icons of the Holy Church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Kufr Smea and of the Holy Church of the Dormition in Sahnin Community of Acre-Ptolemais area in northern Israel.
The care and persistence You showed from the beginning for the securing of the real estate of the Patriarchate continued with the recent payment of City Hall tax, known as “arnona” of 2.000.000 Nis, for the securing of Petra hotel by Jaffa Gate, which has unjustly been involved in the opaque illegal and catastrophic for the finances of the Patriarchate agreement of 2003.
All these, Your Beatitude, are recalled, not for boasting and rest, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14), but in order to strengthen the mindset of hope and cooperation among us as members of the honoured venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, and our cooperation, the members, with our Spiritual Head of Yours, as our Hegoumen, so that we may find ourselves keeping the advice of Saint Basil the Great, “to have the love of one another in our nature” and “to prefer the social and united than the schismatic and peculiar”(Speech 8, EPE 4, p.328). Acting thus, behaving thus, living thus, we become worthy and continuators of our ancestors who spent their lives in fights, deprivations and sacrifices in order to sustain Orthodoxy and the inheritance of the nation of the Byzantine Romans in the Holy Land, who also contributed in the liberation of our nation from the bitter slavery of the four hundred years, of which we celebrate the 200th anniversary.
Raising my glass to toast, Your Beatitude Father and Master, I wish You on behalf of the Brotherhood and the Holy and Sacred Synod, many happy returns, in peace, joy, stability, in full governmental power of the Holy Spirit, in order to guide the vessel of the Church of Jerusalem and of the Brotherhood enlightened by the good works of the Gospel, to harbours of fair life and of salvation, for the praise of our blessed nation and the glory of our God in one Trinity. So be it.”
After His Eminence, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras addressed His Beatitude as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen
Today’s celebration has special importance for all of us, the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the pious flock, among them those serving in the Consulate General of Greece, as we 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.
It is a great pleasure for me to attend this celebration for the first time since taking office in Jerusalem.
Your Beatitude, on this occasion, allow me, on behalf of the Greek State, to express to you the respect, love and gratitude of Greece for Your great pastoral work, for the important and national work of preserving and promoting the Holy Shrines to the Holy Land and for the defence and promotion of the universal values of Orthodoxy in it.
Through a series of Your initiatives, You have been promoting the restoration and promotion of the Holy Shrines of Christianity, while taking care of the maintenance of the Status Quo in the Holy Land and the spiritual guidance and prosperity of a flock that is undergoing significant trials.
Your devotion to these sacred duties, Your dedication to this multidimensional work, Your tireless efforts, Your insight and integrity, with which You carry out Your high mission, are recognized by all, establishing the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as a leading factor of peace, reconciliation and moderation, in a troubled region that still faces great challenges and where many declare their desire for a peaceful future, but few work honestly and effectively to achieve it.
The sincere disposition of concert, reconciliation, and tranquillity that Υou display and systematically cultivate, not only in Your relations with other doctrines and other religions, in the particular environment of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, but also in the context of the wider effort of reconciliation and peace-making in this multi-tested area, steels the moral stature and prestige of our Patriarchate, making it a factor of moderation and stability, in an era of liquidity, instability and reorganization that seem to favour fanaticism, intolerance and controversy.
It is certain that the Holy Institution draws strength from the long history and tradition, from the unity, the deep faith and devotion of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and from its leadership, which with conscious knowledge and perception of the circumstances, with vigour and determination, cares for the present and its future.
Let me address to Υou our most sincere and heartfelt wishes for health, longevity and support from the Lord so that Υou can continue to carry out Your high mission.
I would also like to assure Υou and the members of the Brotherhood that our solidarity and support to our Patriarchate, to the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and to You personally is and remains complete and essential, and to express our recognition and admiration for the significant work performed here, as well as for the devotion of the Members of the Brotherhood for the protection, with zeal and self-denial, of the Holy Shrines, which we encounter in all our visits here and which is particularly moving, especially when it is encountered in the aftermath of the current infectious disease. On this occasion, let me express our gratitude for the unparalleled hospitality we have received during our visits here.
The great contribution of the Patriarchate and Υou personally to Orthodoxy and Hellenism, as a long-term custodian of a valuable religious and historical tradition, is widely known. Therefore, for Greece, the defence of the Institution of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, its rights and entitlements, is a very important priority, as recently emphasized by His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs of our country, Mr Nikolaos Dendias.
The Greek State and the Greek faithful surround with love and devotion Your work and the work of the Holy Fathers and we pray that Υou may have health, strength, and longevity for the good of the Patriarchate, the Brotherhood, Your Rum Orthodox Flock, the uninterrupted Orthodox Matyria (testimony) in the Holy Land and for the peace in the area.
Many happy and blessed returns!”
His Beatitude thanked all who addressed Him with the following:
“We are not going to admire only one, not even only two…but forty men, who have shown one soul in separate bodies, in one accord and unity of faith, one endurance in the sufferings and boldness for the truth,” Saint Basil says, praising the Forty Martyrs.
Your Excellency, Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras,
Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,
Noble Christians and pilgrims
“O Lord of hosts, who is like unto Thee? Mighty art Thou, O Lord, and Thy truth is round about Thee” (Psalm 88:8) the Holy Church of Christ cries out loud through the psalmist, on the sacred commemoration of the godly chorea of the Holy Forty Martyrs, who suffered their martyrdom in the city of Sebastia.
These Forty Martyrs, as if having one soul in separate bodies, “courageously entered the water of the lake, and while being contracted by the cold, sent up a song unto the Lord: Be not wroth with us in the rivers O Lord; be not wroth with us in the rivers O Friend of man. Lighten the burden and the bitterness of the air; for with our own blood have our feet been dyed, and Thou, O God, hast led us into Thine everlasting tabernacles, that the bosom of the Patriarch Abraham may warm us” (Minaion, March 9, Matins, Praises Troparion of 2nd Tone), their hymnographer exclaims.
The Holy Forty Martyrs said to the Lord as if having one mouth, “with our own blood have our feet been dyed”, following the true witness of Saint John the Theologian: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). In this faith in Christ did the holy Martyrs see the true light, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) and the “unspeakable joy” (1 Peter 1:8), for these, they zealously sought the cleansing of their sins through their martyrs’ blood.
Today’s celebrated commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos, as Our Mediocrity bears his name, is a blessed action by God. And this, because the Martyrs who turned the earth into heaven, became luminaries of the universe, namely preachers of the Passion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the Cross, and His Resurrection, saying along with Saint Paul: “in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20).
This distinctive characteristic is noted by Saint Basil the Great, by saying that the Holy Forty Martyrs “have shown one accord and unity of faith, one endurance in the sufferings and boldness for the truth”.
Our Holy Church of Jerusalem, as an eye-and-ear witness of the death on the Cross and the three-day burial and Resurrection of our Lord, honouring the sacred commemoration of the Holy athletes and Martyrs, and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos, held the “mystical blessing”, that is the great Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, officiated by Our Mediocrity, surrounded by the members of our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, Archbishops, Priests and Hierodeacons, with the participation in prayer of noble Christians of our flock, glorifying thus the One who has glorified His Saints.
Moreover, we offered a Doxology to the Holy God in one Trinity for Our name day, with the celebration of the Holy athlete and Martyr Theophilos. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20), Saint Paul orders.
The celebrated commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos in the liturgic time of the Church, does not only refer to Our Mediocrity, but especially and primarily to the Apostolic Patriarchal institution, through which it is shown that Christ “is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:17-18), “which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The Holy Forty Martyrs became communicants and shared this very blood, the blood of Christ.
Amidst the current test of humanity by the deadly Corona disease, the honoured Holy Forty Martyrs “speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3). And this, because according to Saint Basil, “they are common guardians of the humankind, benign, care participants, prayer accomplices, mighty strong ambassadors, stars of the universe, flowers of the Churches”. “Theirs is the voice; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Psalm 66:12).
The Holy Martyrs again talk to us about “the one mind and unity of the faith”, namely the unity of the local Orthodox Churches. “There was not one homeland for the Saints”, Saint Basil says, “for each one retreated to a different place… As for their human nation, it was different for each of them, while the spiritual [nation] was one for all. For their common Father is God, and all are brethren, not born from one man and one woman, but from the adoption of the Spirit they have been interlocked in the concord of love with one another”. In other words, theirs is the voice, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
To this calling of the testimony of unity, peace and the love of the Gospel of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ we are called, my dear brethren, especially during this blessed period of the Great Lent, having the Holy Forty Martyrs helpers, along with their co-martyr Theophilos, and the Most Blessed Mother of God, the Ever-Virgin Mary. Let us entreat them, that in peace, humility and repentance, we may be granted the luminous Resurrection of our God and Saviour of our souls.
For these, we call upon all who prayed along with Us, and honoured Us in this commemoration of the Saints, to have strength from on high, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb, patience, and every blessing from God, expressing also warm thanks to all who addressed Us; Geronda Secretary-General, Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, Reverend Archimandrite Alexander, representative of the Brotherly Church of Russia, who read the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Yaffo, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Yaffo, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, who spoke on behalf of the newly-established Beersheba Community, Reverend Father Farah Bandour, who spoke on behalf of Saint James’ Cathedral, Reverend Archimandrite Philotheos, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Acre-Ptolemais, Reverend Archimandrite Niphon, on behalf of the Community of Remla, and all who attended this celebration.
To the health of all of you!”
DOXOLOGY FOR THE NATIONAL ANNIVERSARY OF 25 MARCH 1821 AT THE PATRIARCHATE
On Thursday, 12/25 March 2021, the Patriarchate held a Doxology at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the 200th Anniversary of the 25 March 1821 Revolution.
The Doxology was offered as a thanksgiving to God for His strengthening of our Nation’s struggle to be liberated from the four hundred years of slavery to the Ottoman Empire.
After the Doxology, there was a supplication for the repose of the souls of those who fought and gave their lives in this sacred fight, Chieftains, Generals, simple soldiers and national martyrs.
The Doxology was led by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos with the co-celebration of Hagiotaphite Archbishops, Hieromonks and Hierodeacons, and the co-prayer of Monks and laity, members of the Church and the Greek Community, along with the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and members of the Consulate.
After the Doxology, at the Great Reception Hall of the Patriarchate, His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:
“You must guard your faith and consolidate it because when we took the arms, we said first in favour of faith and then in favour of the Homeland!” (From the speech of the Elder of Morias Theodoros Kolokotronis in Pnika, 13 November 1988).
Your Excellency Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras,
Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Today’s Anniversary of March 25 is of particular importance, because this year 2021, marks two hundred years since the pinnacle of modern Greek history, that is, the beginning of the Greek Revolution of 1821.
The Revolution of 1821 is undoubtedly a bright milestone not only for the Greek but also for world history. And this, because as Theodoros Kolokortonis says, “When we decided to start the Revolution, we did not think about how many we were, nor that we do not have arms … but the desire for our freedom fell on all of us like the rain, and our clergy and the leaders … we all agreed on this goal and made the Revolution”.
The “desire of freedom”, namely the reason for the existence of freedom which is imprinted in the hearts and minds of the Greeks, is no other than the reason for the existence of freedom in Christ. “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), Saint Paul preaches. This freedom in Christ was impossible to be kept under the power of darkness (Col. 1:13), the barbaric conquest and tyranny of the Ottomans.
We say this because the shaking off of the Ottoman yoke of slavery was not a simple act of heroism and self-sacrifice, but rather an act of imitation of the martyrs of the love of Christ. “Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Psalm 66:12).
The revolt of the fighters of Romiosyni was an act of primary motivation, that is, of class and commonwealth. This is also confirmed by the slogan of the national uprising phrased by the Elder of Morias, Theodoros Kolokotronis: “now our fight is for the holy faith of Christ and the freedom of the homeland”, as well as by the great contribution of the Church with both its upper and lower rank clergy. Hegoumens and simple Monks of many Monasteries became prototypes of a holocaust. They sacrificed themselves watering the tree of freedom with their sacred blood. “Freedom and Romiosyni are twin brothers”, the established poet Ioannis Ritsos says.
The Revolution of 1821 demonstrated the idiosyncrasy of the Greeks, which has been forged by the moral and spiritual values of the Greek-Christian frame of mind; a frame of mind that had endured insults and humiliation due to slavery for four centuries, and finally led to the libating blare of Rigas Feraios “freedom or death”. As for the Church, which is the incarnation of the Greek-Christian frame of mind, it became “the centre and constituent of national life … not as a power over the people and organization, but as an inner force and power, enlivening the national body, uniting its members through the common faith and coordinating its actions” according to the speech of memorable Metropolitan Dionysios of Kozani, on the contribution of the Church during the 1821 Revolution.
The 200th Anniversary of the National Rebirth, celebrated this year, should not be considered merely as a remarkable genealogical of historical memory, but rather as an inexhaustible source of enlightening power that illuminates the soul and mind of all who want to come to the knowledge of the truth, or according to Paul, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and We, according to Saint Paul’s words: “as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:9-10), “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11), went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were we rendered thanksgiving praise and Doxology, as we should, to the Holy Trinitarian God, on the commemoration of the Rebirth of our Noble Nation of the Rum Orthodox. We also prayed for the eternal repose in the land of the living of the souls of those who fought and gloriously fell for the country, in the sacred fights of the noble nation of the Rum Orthodox and suffered a martyr’s death.
For these, let us raise Our glass in a toast and rightfully exclaim:
Long live 25 March 1821!
Long live the noble and Royal nation of the Rum Orthodox!
Long live Hellas!
Long live the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood!”
The Consul General also delivered the following address:
Most Reverend Archbishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Today marks the 200th anniversary of the leading historical moment in the long course of our Nation, the proclamation of the Revolution of ’21, which had as its happy occasion the founding of the modern Greek State and the rebirth of 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 history of Hellenism, the Balkans, Europe, because the Greeks made the heroic decision to rise up, alone against many, against the Ottoman tyranny and to claim Freedom with their blood.
It is, therefore, a special honour for the Consul General of the Motherland to address the Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the Hellenism of the Holy Land, on the occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of the Revolution of 1821, a struggle for altars and hearths, a reference point and symbol for the Greek Nation.
It was spring even two centuries ago when Hellenism took up the sacred arms to claim its freedom. This unsurpassed grandeur of the Greeks’ ideal adored as a whole, the ordinary fighters and the Sailors, the Holy Clergy, the merchants and the scribes. “We all have this homeland together, both the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the politicians and the military and the smallest people,” wrote the voice of our collective conscience, General Makrygiannis.
The seeds of the Revolution first took root in areas far from present-day Greece, in Russia, and in the Balkans, where free Greeks were active. The course, however, was not easy. The martyrdom of Rigas and his collaborators from all parts of Hellenism: Ioannis Karatzas (31 years old, a scholar from Nicosia), Efstatios Argentis (31 years old, a merchant from Chios), Dimitrios Nikolidis (32 years old, a doctor from Ioannina), Antonios Koronios (27 years old, a merchant from Chios), Theocharis Georgios Tourountzias (22 years old, a merchant from Siatista), Ioannis Emmanouil (24 years old, a medical student from Kastoria) and Panagiotis Emmanouil (22 years old, Ioannis’brother), in the Neboisa Tower, a riverside fortress in Belgrade, [their martyrdom] inspired the founding of the Friendly Society in Odessa, which spread the seeds of the Revolution.
The vision and expectations of the pioneers of the Revolution, the known and unknown heroes who sacrificed their lives under conditions unimaginable to us today, inspired the enslaved Hellenism and all lovers of freedom around the world, creating the philhellenic movement which shocked Europe and America. It is worth mentioning the case of Haiti, which was the first country to officially recognize our Revolution, sending 100 volunteers and a shipment of 25 tons of coffee to Adamantios Korais to be sold in Paris and the profit to be used to buy weapons for the Revolution.
There are countless examples of heroism and sacrifice above duty during our National Uprising.
Let us consider indicatively the battle of the Hierolochites in the battle of Dragatsani, one of the most moving moments in Greek history, in February 1821, when the Hierolochites sacrificed themselves to one, always faithful to their oath. A valuable exhibit in the Historical Museum of Athens is the black uniform of a Hierolochitis of Dragatsani where the blood with which the fighter grafted the tree of our freedom has been imprinted.
So, we rightly repeat for them the lyrics of our great poet Andreas Kalvos:
“Ας μη βρέξει ποτέ το σύννεφον
και ο άνεμος σκληρός,
ας μην σκορπίσει
το χώμα το μακάριον
που σας σκεπάζει”
Most Reverend Archbishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The year 2021 revives our hopes for the decomposition of the current infectious disease. At the same time, for us Greeks everywhere, it is charged with an additional powerful historical symbolism.
The 200th anniversary of our National Rebirth invites us to reflect on the successes and challenges of our National life, and to arm ourselves with courage and perseverance to respond to modern challenges based on the legacy bequeathed to us by the struggle of heroic protagonists of our freedom.
Our National Anniversaries are not just an opportunity to celebrate the past, but they are key points that bring back to our minds the events that forged and shaped the collective historical memory of Greeks everywhere. The vision and values that inspired our freedom fighters can only inspire and guide our action today. Values that acquire an additional sense of timeliness for Hellenism, which is called today as then to defend its national dignity and survival.
For the Holy Land, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as an integral part of our Orthodox faith and Hellenism, has been and remains a point of reference, guardian of the moral and spiritual values of Greek and Orthodox witness (martyria) in the Holy Land as a source of life and hope.
Today’s anniversary underscores the unwavering willingness of Greeks everywhere to uphold our freedom, independence and national pride, 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 for this price.
With these thoughts, I invite everyone to exclaim;