නැගෙනහිර ඕර්තඩොක්ස් සභාව
නැගෙනහිර ඕර්තඩොක්ස් සභාව
HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY
Matthew 2 – New Testament
Sinhala Holy Bible (Sri Lanka)
1 හෙරොද් රජු දවස ජුදයේ බෙත්ලෙහෙමෙහි ජේසුස් වහන්සේ උපන් කල, පෙරදිගින් ශාස්ත්රවන්තයෝ ජෙරුසලමට අවුත්,
2 ”ජුදෙව්වරුන්ට රජ ව උපන් උතුමාණෝ කොතැන්හි ද? අපි එතුමාණන්ගේ තාරකාව පෙරදිග දී දැක, එතුමාණන්ට නමස්කාර කරන පිණිස ආවෙමු”යි කී හ.
3 එපවත් ඇසූ හෙරොද් රජ ද මුළු ජෙරුසලම් ජනතාව ද කැළඹුණාහ.
4 එකල ඔහු සෙනඟගේ සියලු නායක පූජකයන් ද විනයධරයන් ද රැස් කරවා, ”ක්රිස්තුන් වහන්සේ කොතැන්හි උපදින සේක් දැ”යි ඔවුන්ගෙන් විචාළේ ය.
5 ඔව්හු කතා කොට, ”ජුදයේ බෙත්ලෙහෙමෙහි ය; ඒ ගැන දිවැසිවරයා මෙසේ ලියා තිබේ;
6 ‘එම්බා, ජුදා දේශයේ බෙත්ලෙහෙම!
තී ජුදාගේ භූපතීන් අතර කිසි සේත් අල්ප නොවන්නී ය.
මාගේ ඉශ්රායෙල් සෙනඟ පාලනය කරන මූලිකයෙකු තී කෙරෙන් නික්මෙනු ඇතැ’ ”යි
ඔහුට කී හ.
7 එකල හෙරොද් ශාස්ත්රවන්තයන් රහසින් කැඳවා, තාරකාව පෙනුණු වේලාව ඔවුන්ගෙන් හොඳින් දැනගෙන,
8 ”ඔබ ගොස් ඒ ළදරුවා ගැන හරි ලෙස විමසන්න; ඔබ විමසා සොයාගත් පසු, මාත් ගොස් උන් වහන්සේට නමස්කාර කරනු පිණිස මටත් දන්වන්න” කියා, ඔවුන් බෙත්ලෙහෙමට යැවී ය.
9 රජුගේ බස් අසා ඔව්හු පිටත් ව ගියහ. පෙරදිග දී ඔවුන් දුටු තාරකාව, ළදරුවා සිටි තැනට අවුත් ඉහළින් නවතින තුරු, ඔවුන්ට පෙරටුවෙන් ගියේ ය.
10 තාරකාව දැක ඔව්හු අතිශයින් ප්රීති ප්රමෝද වූ හ.
11 ඔව්හු ගෙට පිවිස, ළදරුවා සිය මව වූ මරිය තුමී හා සමඟ සිටිනු දැක, පසඟ පිහිටුවා වැඳ, සිය කරඬු ඇර රන් ද, තුවරලා ද, ගන්ධරස ද යන පඬුරු උන් වහන්සේට පිදූ හ.
12 තවද, හෙරොද් වෙත ආපසු නොයන ලෙස සිහිනයකින් දන්වනු ලැබූ ඔව්හු අන් මඟකින් සිය රට බලා ගියහ.
13 ඔවුන් ගිය පසු සමිඳාණන් වහන්සේගේ දූතයෙක් සිහිනයකින් ජෝසෙප්ට දර්ශනය වී, ඔහු අමතා, ”නැඟිට ළදරුවා ද උන් වහන්සේගේ මෑණියන් ද රැගෙන මිසරයට ගොස්, මා දන්වන තුරු එහි නවතින්න. මන්ද, හෙරොද් රජ ළදරුවා මරාදැමීමට සොයති”යි කී ය.
14 ඔහු රාත්රියෙහි නැඟිට ළදරුවා ද උන් වහන්සේගේ මෑණියන් ද රැගෙන මිසරයට ගොස්,
15 හෙරොද්ගේ මරණය දක්වා එහි සිටියේ ය. මෙසේ වූයේ,
”මිසරයෙන් මාගේ පුත්රයා කැඳවාගතිමි”යි කියා සමිඳාණන් වහන්සේ විසින් දිවැසිවරයා කරණකොටගෙන කියන ලද කීම ඉටු වනු පිණිස ය.
16 එකල හෙරොද් තෙමේ ශාස්ත්රවන්තයන් විසින් තමා රවටනු ලැබූ බව දැක, අතිශයින් උදහස් විය. එවිට ඔහු ශාස්ත්රවන්තයන්ගෙන් විමසා, හරියාකාර දැනගත් කාලය අනුව, දෑවුරුදු වයස් වූ ද, ඊට බාල වූ ද, බෙත්ලෙහෙම හා ඒ අවට මුළු පෙදෙසෙහි සිටි සියලු පිරිමි දරුවන් මරාදැමීමට අණ කෙළේ ය.
17 එකල දිවැසිවර ජෙරමියා විසින් කියන ලද මේ කීම ඉටු විය:
18 ”හැඬීමේ ද දැඩි වැලපීමේ ද හඬක් රාමාහි ඇසිණි.
රාකෙල් ඇගේ දරුවන් ගැන අඬමින්, ඔවුන් නැති නිසා අස්වැසිල්ලක් ලැබීමට අකමැති වූවා ය.”
19 හෙරොද් මියගිය පසු, සමිඳාණන් වහන්සේගේ දූතයෙක් මිසරයේ දී සිහිනයකින් ජෝසෙප්ට දර්ශනය වී, ඔහු අමතා,
20 ”නැඟිට ළදරුවා ද ඔහුගේ මෑණියන් ද රැගෙන ඉශ්රායෙල් දේශයට යන්න; ළදරුවාගේ ජීවිතය නසන්න තැත් කළ අය මළහ”යි කී ය.
21 එවිට ඔහු නැඟිට ළදරුවා ද උන් වහන්සේගේ මෑණියන් ද රැගෙන ඉශ්රායෙල් දේශයට පැමිණියේ ය.
22 එහෙත්, අර්කෙලාවුස් සිය පිය වූ හෙරොද් වෙනුවට ජුදා දේශයේ රජකම් කරන බව අසා, ඔහු එහි යන්න බිය ව, සිහිනයකින් දන්වනු ලැබ ගලීලයේ පෙදෙස්වලට ගොස්,
23 එහි නාසරෙත් නුවර විසී ය. මෙසේ වූයේ,
”උන් වහන්සේ නාසරීයයෙකැ”යි
දිවැසිවරයන් විසින් කියන ලද කීම ඉටු වන පිණිස ය.
SRI LANKA OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
Fr. Maximus Regiz Urbanowicz, USA
Mission: Gospel To All Nations
Founder: Fr. Maximus Urbanowicz
Address: PO Box 4205
Tequesta, FL 33469
Denomination: Orthodox Church in America (OCA)
Home Church: St. James Orthodox
The Apostle Church,
Port St. Lucie, FL
Established: January 2000
Countries Served: 40 +
More about us: View Brochure
Fr. Maximus Regiz Urbanowicz:
The Incredible Story of a Renowned Orthodox Missionary…
The Missionary of Sri Lanka & other 38 Nations
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
Baptized Roman Catholic, later becoming an Episcopal priest and missionary (In the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church), and three years ago having been received with his family into the Holy Orthodox Church, he is a zealous Orthodox missionary and evangelist.
Maximus has been involved in various church ministries including Foundation Park –a ministry for the poor, Strike force –strength ministry for teens, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes . He served three years as head counselor at Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge , a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for teenagers. In addition, as part of his Masters degree at Regent University, he spent three dynamic summers ministering in Germany, the United Kingdom and Africa in connection with the evangelistic ministry of Christ for all Nations. After graduation in 1990, Maximus was invited to join the ministry of “Christ for all Nations,” (CfaN) as an associate evangelist. He moved to Kenya, East Africa, and eventually lived, traveled and ministered in nineteen African nations and eventually led evangelization efforts in various parts of the world including India, Philippines, Russia, and Madagascar.
In 1997, Maximus became part of the “Minus to Plus” evangelistic project in North America – a ministry of CfaN dedicated to placing an evangelistic booklet about the cross of Christ into every home in North America. He became Executive Director of the multi–million dollar project as well as Executive Director of the U.S. branch of the Christ for all Nations ministry, placing 10 million booklets into homes across North America, meeting and working with the top evangelical church leaders across North America.
After working with thousands of churches from various denominational backgrounds in the international evangelistic campaigns, Maximus eventually grew in his convictions about sacramental and liturgical traditions as he studied church history. The most helpful materials were the teachings and traditions of the Orthodox Church.
As a first step, Maximus took sacred vows as a deacon and later a priest in the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. Over time, as a result of his extensive ministry in Eastern Europe , it became increasingly clear that God was calling him and his family to become members of the Orthodox Church. Since then, Maximus, his wife Susanne, and four children have been received into the Orthodox Church in America and are active members of Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Washington D.C.
Today, Maximus is the president and founder of the evangelistic mission “Gospel to all Nations” (GTAN) – an evangelistic ministry in the process of fully coming under the auspices of the Orthodox Church. GTAN is grounded in the historic faith and church of the past, but striving into the future to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It fosters unity and cooperation between various church denominations while witnessing the richness and fullness of the apostolic faith of the Fathers, and is an equipping force for the saints in regards to evangelism and missions. Lastly, it hosts Gospel campaigns to non–Christians: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and general un–evangelized people and has a particular interest in reaching the least evangelized nations of the world.
Maximus has preached Gospel campaigns in 39 nations, face to face with millions of people. Meetings have ranged from five people, to five hundred thousand people in a single service, as in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Noteworthy, is the fact that multitudes of people from the Muslim faith have converted to Christianity in both North Africa and Central Asia as a result of these numerous campaigns, held from Mali to Kyrgyzstan.
Over the past few years, the ministry has hosted campaigns and conferences in various cities in Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Armenia, Pakistan and Cuba. One unique outreach was in historic Armenia, in the city of Sevan , where from a population of approximately 10,000 people, up to 7,000 people attended the largest service. In the evenings, multitudes of people, including all the local prostitutes , responded to Maximus’ words for repentance and church attendance, while during the day, a conference was hosted with up to six hundred people from local churches – attending daily teaching and discipleship.
In September 2006, Maximus completed an extremely fruitful mission trip to Sakhalin Island, preaching in churches, public meetings, orphanages, monasteries, by radio, TV, and newspaper interviews, working together with Bishop Danyyl of Sakhalin and also Archbishop Mark in the city of Khabarovsk, mainland Russia. Between the 24th of September and 2nd of October he did evangelistic work with Archbishop John, the bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in charge of missions and evangelism, and is teaching in their seminary and preaching in the city of Belgorod, Russia.
EX 2X2 LETTERS FROM GREECE
SRI LANKA OF MY HEART
Matthew 1 – New Testament
Sinhala Holy Bible (Sri Lanka)
1 ආබ්රහම්ගේ ද දාවිත්ගේ ද පුත්ර වූ ජේසුස් ක්රිස්තුන් වහන්සේගේ වංශාවලිය මෙසේ ය.
2 ආබ්රහම්ට දාව ඊසාක් ද, ඊසාක්ට දාව ජාකොබ් ද, ජාකොබ්ට දාව ජූදා සහ ඔහුගේ සහෝදරයෝ ද උපන්හ.
3 ජූදාට දාව තාමාර්ගෙන් පෙරෙශ් හා ශෙරා ද, පෙරෙශ්ට දාව හශේරොන් ද, හශේරොන්ට දාව ආරාම් ද,
4 ආරාම්ට දාව අමිනාදාබ් ද, අමිනාදාබ්ට දාව නාෂොන් ද, නාෂොන්ට දාව සල්මොන් ද,
5 සල්මොන්ට දාව රාහාබ්ගෙන් බෝවස් ද, බෝවස්ට දාව රූත්ගෙන් ඕබෙද් ද, ඕබෙද්ට දාව ජෙස්සේ ද,
6 ජෙස්සේට දාව දාවිත් රජ ද උපන්නෝ ය. දාවිත් රජුට දාව උරියාගේ භාර්යාව වී සිටි ස්ත්රියගෙන් සලමොන් ද,
7 සලමොන්ට දාව රෙහොබෝවම් ද, රෙහොබෝවම්ට දාව අබියා ද, අබියාට දාව ආසප් ද,
8 ආසප්ට දාව ජෙහොෂාපාත් ද, ජෙහොෂාපාත්ට දාව ජෝරාම් ද, ජෝරාම්ට දාව උශ්ශියා ද,
9 උශ්ශියාට දාව ජෝතාම් ද, ජෝතාම්ට දාව ආහස් ද, ආහස්ට දාව හෙසකියා ද,
10 හෙසකියාට දාව මනස්සේ ද, මනස්සේට දාව ආමොස් ද, ආමොස්ට දාව ජෝසියා ද,
11 බබිලෝනියට විප්රවාසගතවීම සිදුවූ මේ කාලයේ දී ජෝසියාට දාව ජෙකොනියා ද ඔහුගේ සහෝදරයෝ ද උපන්නෝ ය.
12 බබිලෝනියේ විප්රවාසයෙන් පසු ජෙකොනියාට දාව ෂෙයල්තියෙල් ද, ෂෙයල්තියෙල්ට දාව සෙරුබාබෙල් ද,
13 සෙරුබාබෙල්ට දාව අබියුද් ද, අබියුද්ට දාව එලියාකිම් ද, එලියාකිම්ට දාව ආශොර් ද,
14 ආශොර්ට දාව සාදොක් ද, සාදොක්ට දාව ආකීම් ද, ආකීම්ට දාව එලියුද් ද,
15 එලියුද්ට දාව එලෙයාසර් ද, එලෙයාසර්ට දාව මත්තාන් ද, මත්තාන්ට දාව ජාකොබ් ද,
16 ජාකොබ්ට දාව මරිය තුමීගේ පුරුෂයා වූ ජෝසෙප් ද උපන්නෝ ය; මරිය තුමීගෙන් ක්රිස්තුස් නම් වූ ජේසුස් වහන්සේ උපන් සේක.
17 මෙසේ ආබ්රහම් පටන් දාවිත් දක්වා පරම්පරා සියල්ල දස සතරකි; දාවිත් පටන් බබිලෝනියේ විප්රවාසගතවීම දක්වා පරම්පරා දස සතරකි; බබිලෝනියේ විප්රවාසගතවීමේ කාලයේ පටන් ක්රිස්තුන් වහන්සේ දක්වා පරම්පරා දස සතරකි.
18 ජේසුස් ක්රිස්තුන් වහන්සේගේ උපත සිදුවූයේ මෙසේ ය. උන් වහන්සේගේ මෑණියන් වූ මරිය තුමී ජෝසෙප් හා විවාහ ගිවිසගෙන සිටිය දී, ඔවුන් එක් වන්න පෙර, ශුද්ධාත්මයාණන් අනුහසින් ඈ ගැබ්ගෙන සිටින බව දැනගන්නා ලදී.
19 ඇගේ ස්වාමි පුරුෂයා වන ජෝසෙප්, සත් පුරුෂයෙකු වූ බැවින් ඇය ප්රසිද්ධියේ නින්දාවට නොපමුණුවන අදහසින්, රහසින් ඇය අත්හැරදමන්න සිතාගත්තේ ය.
20 එහෙත්, ඔහු මේ කාරණය ගැන කල්පනා කරමින් සිටිය දී, සමිඳාණන් වහන්සේගේ දූතයෙක් සිහිනයකින් ඔහුට දර්ශනය වී, ”දාවිත්ගේ පුත් ජෝසෙප්, ඔබේ බිරිඳ වන මරියා පාවාගන්නට බිය නොවන්න; මන්ද, ඈ ගැබ්ගෙන ඇත්තේ ශුද්ධාත්මයාණන් අනුහසින්.
21 ඈ පුතෙකු බිහි කරන්නී ය; උන් වහන්සේට ජේසුස් යන නාමය තැබිය යුතු ය; මන්ද, සිය සෙනඟ ඔවුන්ගේ පාපවලින් මුදාලන්නේ එතුමාණෝ ය”යි කී ය.
22 මේ සියල්ල සිදුවූයේ සමිඳාණන් වහන්සේ දිවැසිවරයා ලවා කියෙවූ කීම ඉටු වන පිණිස ය. එනම්:
23 ”මෙන්න, කන්යාවක් ගැබ්ගෙන පුතෙකු බිහි කරන්නී ය; උන් වහන්සේට එම්මානුවෙල් යන නාමය තබනු ඇත,” යනු ය. ඒ නාමයේ අර්ථය නම්, ”දෙවියන් වහන්සේ අප සමඟ ය” යනුයි.
24 ජෝසෙප් නින්දෙන් අවදි වූ විට සමිඳාණන් වහන්සේගේ දූතයා ඔහුට අණ කළ ලෙස, සිය බිරිඳ කැන්දාගෙන ගියේ ය.
25 එහෙත්, ඇයට පුත්රයා ලැබෙන තුරු ඔහු ඇය සමඟ එක් නො වී ය. ඔහු උන් වහන්සේට ජේසුස් යන නාමය තැබී ය.
SRI LANKA OF MY HEART
SAINTS OF MY HEART
Ο Άγιος της Σρι Λάνκα, της Ινδίας, της Κίνας & του Θιβέτ:
Ιερομάρτυς Νικόλαος Ντρομπιάζκιν (+1924)
Η Eυχή του Ιησού σταματάει ομαδικό δαιμονικό
όραμα ενός φακιρη στη Σρι Λάνκα
Ἅγιος Νικόλαος Ντρομπιάζγκιν, ἐφημέριος διάφορους Ναούς πρεσβειῶν καί ἡγούμενος μερικῶν Μονῶν καί Ἰσαπόστολος Ἰνδίας, Θιβέτ, Κίνας, Σρί Λάνκα κλπ. καί ἱερομάρτυρας στή Λαύρα τῶν Σπηλαίων τοῦ Κιέβου (+1924)
(Σύναξι 25/1 καί 19/10)
Ἦταν ἀντιπλοίαρχος τοῦ πολεμικοῦ ναυτικοῦ καί ἀποκρυφιστής. Σέ ναυάγιο σώθηκε θαυματουργικά ἀπ’ τόν Ἅγ. Σεραφείμ τοῦ Σάρωφ καί πῆγε γιά προσκύνημα στή Μονή τοῦ Σάρωφ. Ὕστερα ἔγινε ἱερέας καί ἱεραπόστολος στήν Ἰνδία, Κίνα, Θιβέτ καί Σρι Λάνκα. Μετά τό 1914 ἔζησε στή Μονή τῶν Σπηλαίων τοῦ Κιέβου καί ἔκανε συχνά ὁμιλίες κατά τοῦ ἀποκρυφισμοῦ. Τό φθινόπωρο τοῦ 1924 ἕνα μήνα μετά ἀπό ἐπίσκεψι κάποιου ἀποκρυφιστή βρέθηκε δολοφονημένος στό κελλί του μέ μαχαίρι πού γιά λαβή εἶχε ἀποκρηφιστικό σύμβολο.
<Πηγή: Ἀρχιμ. Ἰωάννου Κωστώφ, Ἐκκλησία καί Μαγεία, ἐκδ. Ἅγ. Ἰωάννης Δαμασκηνός, Ἀθήνα 2012, 14>
«Ὁ αὐτόπτης μάρτυρας καί ἀφηγητής τοῦ κατωτέρω περιστατικοῦ, ἀρχιμανδρίτης Νικόλαος Ντρομπιάζγκιν, εἶναι ἕνας ἀπό τούς πολλούς νεομάρτυρες κληρικούς τῆς ἐπαναστατικῆς περιόδου τῆς Ρωσίας. Στήν κοσμική του ζωή εἶχε μιά λαμπρή σταδιοδρομία σάν ἀντιπλοίαρχος τοῦ πολεμικοῦ ναυτικοῦ καί παράλληλα ἀναμίχθηκε βαθειά μέσα στον ἀποκρυφισμό ἐκδίδοντας τό ἀποκρυφιστικό περιοδικό Rebus. Μετά τή σωτηρία του ἀπό σχεδόν βέβαιο θάνατο στή θάλασσα διά θαύματος τοῦ ἁγίου Σεραφείμ τοῦ Σάρωφ πραγματοποίησε προσκύνημα στό Σάρωφ καί στή συνέχεια ἀπαρνήθηκε τήν κοσμική του καρριέρα καί τούς δεσμούς του μέ τόν ἀποκρυφισμό καί ἔγινε μοχαχός. Χειροτονήθηκε ἱερεύς καί ὑπηρέτησε ὡς ἱεραπόστολος στήν Κίνα, τήν Ἰνδία καί τό Θιβέτ, ὡς ἐφημέριος σέ διαφόρους ναούς πρεσβειῶν καί ὡς ἡγούμενος μερικῶν μονῶν. Μετά τό 1914 ἔζησε στή Λαύρα τῶν Σπηλαίων τοῦ Κιέβου. Στούς νέους πού τόν ἐπισκέπτονταν ἐκεῖ μιλοῦσε συνεχῶς γιά τήν ἐπίδρασι τοῦ ἀποκρυφισμοῦ στά διαδραματιζόμενα τότε στή πολιτική σκηνή τῆς Ρωσίας. Τό φθινόπωρο τοῦ 1924, ἕνα μῆνα ἀφοῦ δέχθηκε τήν ἐπίσκεψι κάποιου κυρίου ὀνόματι Τουχόλξ, συγγραφέως βιβλίου μέ τίτλο Μαύρη Μαγεία, δολοφονήθηκε στό κελλί του “ἀπό ἀγνώστους”, μέ τή φανερή ἀνοχή τῶν Μπολσεβίκων. Τό ὄργανο τοῦ ἐγκλήματος ἦταν ἕνα μαχαίρι μέ εἰδική λαβή σέ σχῆμα συμβόλου ἀποκρυφιστικῆς σημασίας. Τό περιστατικό τό ὁποῖο μᾶς ἀφηγεῖται ἐδῶ ὁ π. Νικόλαος ἀποκαλύπτει τήν πραγματική φύσι τῶν πνευματιστικῶν φαινομένων πού συναντᾶ κανείς στίς διάφορες ἀνατολικές θρησκεῖες. Ἔλαβε χώρα λίγο πρίν ἀπό τό 1900, κατεγράφη γύρω στό 1922 ἀπό τόν ἰατρό Δρα Ἀ. Π. Τιμοφέγιεβιτς καί δημοσιεύτηκε ἀπό τόν ἴδιο σέ ρωσικό περιοδικό τῆς διασπορᾶς (“Ὀρθόδοξος Ζωή”, 1956, ἀρ. 1)»(ΑΜ, τεῦχ. 5, 252).
Διηγεῖται ὁ σύγχρονος ἱεραπόστολος τῆς Κίνας, τοῦ Θιβέτ καί τῆς Σρί Λάνκα ἱερομάρτυρας Νικόλαος Ντρομπιάζγκιν:
«Εἶχε κιόλας βραδιάσει ὅταν ἀφήναμε πίσω μας τούς θορυβώδεις δρόμους τῆς πόλεως [Κολόμπο τῆς Κεϋλάνης, Σρί Λάνκα] καί παίρναμε ἕνα θαυμάσιο δρόμο πού διέσχιζε τή ζούγκλα. Δεξιά καί ἀριστερά παιχνίδιζαν οἱ λάμψεις ἑκατομμυρίων πυγολαμπίδων. Πρός τό τέλος του ὁ δρόμος φάρδαινε ἀπότομα. Βρεθήκαμε μπροστά σ᾽ ἕνα μικρό ξέφωτο περικυκλωμένο ἀπό ζούγκλα. Σέ μιά ἄκρη του κάτω ἀπο ἕνα μεγάλο δένδρο ὑπῆρχε κάτι σάν καλύβα καί δίπλα της σιγόκαιγε μιά μικρή φωτιά. Ἕνας λεπτός, ἀποστεωμένος γέρος μέ τουρμπάνι στό κεφάλι καθόταν σταυροπόδι μέ τό βλέμμα του ἀκίνητο καί στραμμένο πρός τή φωτιά. Παρά τόν θόρυβο τῆς ἀφίξεώς μας ὁ γέρος συνέχιζε νά κάθεται τελείως ἀκίνητος δίχως νά μᾶς δίνη τήν παραμικρή προσοχή. Κάπου μέσα ἀπό τό σκοτάδι ἐμφανίσθηκε ἕνας νεαρός καί πηγαίνοντας κοντά στόν συνταγματάρχη [πού τούς ὁδήγησε στό φακίρη] τόν ρώτησε κάτι χαμηλόφωνα. Σέ λίγο ἔβγαλε μερικά σκαμνιά καί ἡ ὁμάδα μας κάθησε σέ ἡμικύκλιο κοντά στή φωτιά… Ὅλοι σώπασαν ἄθελά τους καί περίμεναν νά δοῦν τί θά συμβῆ.
“Κοιτάξτε! Κοιτάξτε ἐκεῖ στό δένδρο!”, ψιθύρισε ταραγμένα ἡ δεσποινίς Μαίρη. Ὅλοι στρέψαμε τό κεφάλι πρός τήν κατεύθυνσι πού ἔδειξε. Καί πράγματι, ὁλόκληρη ἡ ἐπιφάνεια τῆς τεράστιας φυλλωσιᾶς τοῦ δένδρου πού κάτω του καθόταν ὁ φακίρης ἦταν σάν νά κυμάτιζε ἤρεμα μέσα στο ἁπαλό φεγγαρόφωτο, ἐνῶ τό ἴδιο τό δένδρο ἄρχισε βαθμιαῖα νά διαλύεται καί νά χάνη το περίγραμμά του. Κυριολεκτώντας θά ἔλεγα ὅτι κάποιο ἀόρατο χέρι εἶχε ρίξει πάνω του ἕνα ἀέρινο κάλυμμα, πού ἀπό στιγμή σέ στιγμή γινόταν ὅλο καί πυκνότερο. Πολύ σύντομα ἐμφανίσθηκε ὁλοκάθαρα μπροστά στό ἔκπληκτο βλέμμα μας ἡ κυματιστή ἐπιφάνεια τῆς θάλασσας. Μ᾽ ἕνα ἐλαφρό βουητό τό ἕνα κῦμα ἐρχόταν πίσω ἀπό τό ἄλλο σχηματίζοντας λευκούς ἀφρούς. Ἀνάλαφρα σύννεφα πετοῦσαν σ᾽ ἕναν οὐρανό πού εἶχει γίνει γαλανός. Θαμπωμένοι δέν μπορούσαμε νά ξεκολλήσουμε τό βλέμμα μας ἀπό αὐτή τήν καταπληκτική εἰκόνα.
Καί τότε φάνηκε μακρυά ἕνα ἄσπρο πλοῖο. Παχύς καπνός ξεχύνονταν ἀπό τίς δύο μεγάλες καμινάδες του. Μᾶς πλησίαζε γοργά σχίζοντας τά νερά. Μέ μεγάλη κατάπληξι ἀναγνωρίσαμε τό πλοῖο μας, αὐτό πού μᾶς ἔφερε στό Κολόμπο! Ἕνας ψίθυρος διαπέρασε ἀπ᾽ ἄκρη σ᾽ ἄκρη τό ὑπαίθριο θεωρεῖο μας, ὅταν διαβάσαμε στή πρύμνη μέ χρυσά ἀνάγλυφα γράμματα τό ὄνομα τοῦ πλοίου μας: Λουΐζα. Ἐκεῖνο, ὅμως, πού μᾶς κατέπληξε περισσότερο ἀπ᾽ ὅλα ἦταν αὐτό τό ὁποῖο εἴδαμε πάνω στό πλοῖο —ἐμᾶς τούς ἴδιους! Ἄς μή ξεχνᾶμε ὅτι τόν καιρό πού συνέβησαν ὅλα αὐτά ὁ κινηματογράφος δέν εἶχε κἄν ἐπινοηθῆ καί ἦταν ἀδύνατο ἀκόμη καί νά συλλάβη κανείς κάτι παρόμοιο. Ὁ καθένας ἀπό μᾶς ἔβλεπε τόν ἑαυτό του στό κατάστρωμα τοῦ πλοίου ἀνάμεσα σέ ἀνθρώπους πού γελοῦσαν καί συζητοῦσαν. Αὐτό ὅμως, πού ἦταν ἰδιαίτερα ἐκπληκτικό ἦταν τό ἑξῆς: Ἔβλεπα ὄχι μόνο τόν ἑαυτό μου, ἀλλά ταυτόχρονα καί ὅλο τό κατάστρωμα τοῦ πλοίου, μέχρι καί τίς μικρότερες λεπτομέρειες, σάν σέ μιά πανοραμική κάτοψι —κάτι πού φυσικά εἶναι ἀδύνατο στήν πραγματικότητα. Σέ μιά καί τήν αὐτή στιγμή ἔβλεπα τόν ἑαυτό μου ἀνάμεσα στούς ἐπιβάτες, τούς ναυτικούς πού ἐργάζονταν στήν ἄλλη ἄκρη τοῦ πλοίου καί τόν πλοίαρχο στήν καμπίνα του· ἀκόμη καί τόν πίθηκο Νέλλυ, τή συμπάθεια ὅλων μας, νά τρώη μπανάνες ἀνεβασμένη πάνω στόν κεντρικό ἱστό. Τήν ἴδια ὥρα ὅλοι οἱ σύντροφοί μου καί μέ διαφορετικό τρόπο ὁ καθένας ἦταν ἐξαιρετικά ἀναστατωμένοι μέ ὅσα ἔβλεπαν καί ἐξωτερίκευαν τά συναισθήματά τους μέ σιγανά ἐπιφωνήματα καί ἀναστατωμένους ψιθύρους.
Εἶχα τελείως ξεχάσει ὅτι ἤμουν ἱερομόναχος καί προφανῶς δέν εἶχα καμμία δουλειά νά συμμετέχω σ᾽ ἕνα τέτοιο θέαμα. Ἡ γοητεία ἦταν τόσο δυνατή, πού ὁ νοῦς καί ἡ καρδιά εἶχαν σωπάσει. Ἡ καρδιά μου ἄρχισε νά κτυπᾶ δυνατᾶ σέ συναγερμό. Ξαφνικά βρέθηκα ἐκτός ἑαυτοῦ. Ἕνας φόβος κατέλαβε ὅλη μου τή ὕπαρξι.
Τά χείλη μου ἄρχισαν νά κινοῦνται καί νά λένε: “Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τόν ἁμαρτωλόν!”. Ἀμέσως ἔνοιωσα ἀνακούφισι. Ἦταν σάν κάποιες μυστηριώδεις ἁλυσίδες νά πέφτουν ἀπο πάνω μου. Ἡ προσευχή γινόταν ὅλο καί πιό συγκεντρωμένη καί μαζί μ᾽ αὐτή ξαναγύριζε καί ἡ εἰρήνη τῆς ψυχῆς μου. Συνέχιζα νά κοιτάζω πρός τό δένδρο καί ξαφνικά, σάν νά τήν ἔδιωχνε κάποιος ἄνεμος, ἡ εἰκόνα θόλωσε καί διαλύθηκε. Δέν ἔβλεπα τίποτε πιά ἐκτός ἀπό τό μεγάλο δένδρο μέσα στό φεγγαρόφωτο καί τό φακίρη καθισμένο δίπλα στή φωτιά καί σιωπηλό. Οἱ σύντροφοί μου, ὅμως, συνέχιζαν νά ἐξωτερικεύουν αὐτά τά ὁποῖα αἰσθάνονταν, καθώς ἀτένιζαν στήν εἰκόνα, πού γι᾽ αὐτούς δέν εἶχε χαθῆ.
Τότε, ὅμως, πρέπει κάτι νά συνέβη καί στό φακίρη. Ἔχασε τήν ἰσορροπία του καί κύλησε στό πλάι. Ὁ νεαρός ἔτρεξε ἀλαφιασμένος. Ἡ πνευματιστική συγκέντρωσι διακόπηκε ἀπότομα.
Βαθειά ἐπηρεασμένοι ἀπό τήν ἐμπειρία τους οἱ θεατές σηκώθηκαν συζητώντας ζωηρά τίς ἐντυπώσεις τους καί χωρίς καθόλου νά καταλαβαίνουν γιά ποιό λόγο διακόπηκαν ὅλα τόσο ξαφνικά καί ἀναπάντεχα. Ὁ νεαρός τό ἀπέδωσε στήν ἐξάντλησι τοῦ φακίρη, ὁ ὁποῖος τώρα καθόταν ὅπως καί πρίν μέ τό κεφάλι χαμηλωμένο καί μή δίνοντας τήν παραμικρή προσοχή στούς παρισταμένους.
Ἡ ὁμάδα μας, ἀφοῦ μέσῳ τοῦ νεαροῦ ἀντάμειψε γενναιόδωρα τό φακίρη γιά τή δυνατότητα συμμετοχῆς σ᾽ ἕνα τόσο καταπληκτικό θέαμα, ἀνασυντάχθηκε γρήγορα γιά τήν ἐπιστροφή. Καθώς ξεκινούσαμε, ἄθελά μου γύρισα πάλι νά κοιτάξω, γιά νά ἐντυπώσω στή μνήμη μου τό ὅλο σκηνικό. Ξαφνικά ἀνατρίχιασα ἀπό μιά δυσάρεστη αἴσθησι. Τό βλέμμα μου συνάντησε τό βλέμμα τοῦ φακίρη, πού μέ κοίταζε γεμάτος ἀπό μίσος. Αὐτό κράτησε μόνο μιά στιγμή καί μετά ἐκεῖνος πῆρε πάλι ἀμέσως τή συνηθισμένη του στάσι. Ὅμως ἐκείνη ἡ ματιά ἄνοιξε μιά γιά πάντα τά μάτια τῆς ψυχῆς μου καί συνειδητοποίησα ἀμέσως τίνος δύναμι ἦταν αὐτή πού προκάλεσε ἐκεῖνο τό “θαῦμα”».
Ἀρχιμ. Ἰωάννου Κωστώφ
ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΜΑΓΕΙΑ
War to the worship of devil
ἐκδ. Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης Δαμασκηνός
SRI LANKA OF MY HEART
Christianity in Sri Lanka
Christianity was introduced to the island of Sri Lanka in first century, probably in AD 72. There is a claim that after Saint Thomas the Apostle’s visit in Kerala in AD 52, Christianity was introduced via India due to its close geographical and commercial ties. According to Christian traditions, the apostle Thomas preached the Gospel in Sri Lanka.
SAINTS OF MY HEART
Three Saints of India
Saints Joasaph, Barlaam & Abenner (+4th century)
August 28 & November 19
In the time of Constantine the Great (4th century) there lived in India a pagan king named Abenner, who had only one son, Joasaph (yo-sahf). Abenner was a wise administrator and fearless warrior, loyal to the Indian code of honor, courage and the hatred of Christians.
When the Prince was born, astrologers and wise men were called to prophesy the Prince’s destiny as king. All of them said the same: that he would be a wise and powerful king. But one dared to tell the truth: the Prince would become Christian and give up his throne. The King was furious. He ordered every Christian to be killed or banned from the kingdom, and he put the Prince in a private, guarded castle to shield him from any possible Christian influence.
For twenty years of his life–his entire childhood and youth–Joasaph was confined to the castle. During this time he was taught the skills of wisdom and warfare. The King visited his son often, and was pleased to find his boy qrowing into a fine, strong young man. Finally, convinced that the prophecy was false, Abenncr agreed to let the Prince see his future kingdom. The impression Joasaph received seemed mixed. The world was indeed a very beautiful place, but the sins, sorrows and eventual death of man dimmed its beauty in Joasaph’s eyes, and made him doubtful. No longer content with his luxuries in the palace, he strove to find a life that was soul-fulfilling, unlike what he felt succession to the throne would be.
At the same time, the holy monk Barlaam was told by God that he must bring the salvation of God’s word to the Prince over 1,000 miles away. In time Barlaam arrived and, disguised as a merchant with a “pearl of great price,” was able to get into the castle. Barlaam explained the Orthodox Christian faith to the young Prince, who in turn was immediately devoted and demanded to be baptized. In the months that followed the entire household was converted, including King Abenner who eventually became a hermit and a Saint of the Orthodox Christian Church.
Barlaam left, and Joasaph became king. But he was not content there and missed his spiritual father. Finally he gave his kingdom to relatives and went away to a desert monastery, doing many great things in his time.
(Compiled and illustrated by Martinian Prince, age 14: original Life in the writings of St. John Damascene)
ORTHODOXY IS LOVE
THE SMILE OF GOD IN YOUR HEART
Saint John Chrysostom Eastern Orthodox Church (ROCOR), India
When you reach Lingarajapuram using the google map below, look for this cross at the top of our church.Contact Fr. Silouan Benedict at +91990003530 or firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com for more details.
Father Silouan Benedict (Sunil)
No 1, 2nd Cross, Munithayappa Layout,
Opposite Banaswadi Railway Station,
St. Thomas Town Post,
Bangalore – 560084
THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA (ROCOR)
AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND DIOCESE
ORTHODOXY IS LOVE
2006: The first Russian Eastern Orthodox parish
of St Thomas in New Delhi, India
With an increasing number of Russians living in India,
the Russian Orthodox Church is looking to provide religious services in the country
On January 6-7, Russia marks Christmas, one of the most important holidays for followers of the Russian Orthodox faith. Recent polls have indicated that more than 70 percent of Russians consider themselves to be Orthodox Christians. India has a population of 24 million Christians, most of them Catholic, but there are many different church groups in the country. The Russian Orthodox Church, one of the largest among Eastern Orthodox churches in the world, has never had any noticeable presence in India. However with an increasing number of Russians living in India, the church is looking to provide religious services in the country.
The first Russian Orthodox Parish in Delhi named after the apostle Thomas was registered in 2006 when Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church (at that time serving as chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations), visited India.
It was then decided to build a church in the premises of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Delhi, however, till today such plans remain on paper. Archpriest Gennady Moroz who is in charge of St.Thomas Church in New Delhi and the head of Russian Orthodox parish in Pakistan and Nepal, told RIR the plans to construct the church in Delhi are still uncertain.
But then came the idea of establishing a permanent parish in Goa, where almost 10,000 Russians live for at least six months in a year. Russian priest Stanislav Rasputin, who is from the Petrozavodsk and Karelia Eparchy, while visiting Goa in September this year said: “I am happy that Russian people in Goa finally feel the need of the permanent parish here. During this mission I could see myself that this is very much required.”
Although the idea of a permanent parish in Goa is yet to be approved by Moscow Patriarchate, the initiative gained support from Russian consulate in Mumbai and the Honorary Consul of Russia in Goa Victor Albuquerque. “Starting a Russian orthodox parish here in Goa would be really good as Russian people need not only beach, sun and parties, but a place for spiritual activities. Though to establish a parish we really need to bring people around”, Albuquerque told RIR.
Preaching to the faithful
Several Russian Orthodox priests have visited India with official and semi-official missions recently. Deacon Georgy Maksimov, one of the first priests to visit India said the church’s main aim was to interact with Russian compatriots. “Not all of them were Orthodox believers, there were atheists and even those who considered themselves converted to Hinduism. We had quite interesting discussions,” he said.
Stanislav Rasputin visited India four times since 2011 and has found an interest in the Russian Orthodox faith from unexpected quarters. “Several years ago a group of almost 120 Christians from Chandrapur (Maharashtra) sent a request to convert them to Orthodoxy,” Rasputin says. “There was an Anglican bishop who studied the history of church in order to understand where the original church that formed 2000 years ago was. After studying sources he understood that Anglicanism that emerged in the 16th century was not at all complete as it did not have the continuity with the original church. He understood that the Eastern Orthodox Church was the one closest to the origins”. The ex-Anglican priest and his large congregation were converted by Stanislav Rasputin in 2012.
The services are conducted by the Russian priest not only in English but in Marathi, thanks to local church leaders who translated the Liturgy and some books on church history into local languages.
“I think it will be right to say that Russian Orthodox Church is not preaching the gospel in India,” insists Father Gennady Moroz. “And to face any critics in India the Russian Orthodox Church has firstly to be established there. The rare visits of orthodox priests that happen as the result of multiple requests from believers cannot be called missionary work.” He emphasizes that that Moscow Patriarchate can send a priests to India only after receiving repeatedly requests from people living here.
RUSSIA & INDIA REPORT
Photos by Alexandra Katz
ORTHODOXY IS LOVE
ORTHODOXY IN INDIA TODAY
The Mission: Synergy with God
It is well-known that the main goal of the Church is to bring to her fold all people for the salvation of their souls. This goal is achieved basically with mission in the broader sense of the word. Mission is our cooperation with the salvific work of God who died on the cross so that all may become one in Him. Therefore every Chrisitan who considers himself or herself an energetic member of the Church, is called to mission. That mission includes reaching out to those who are suffering, especially since Christ, whose footsteps we follow, died on the cross for them. The conclusion is that mission is not just one of the works of the Church, but it is her basic ministry for the renewal and transformation of the world, of all peoples and all nations, so that they can become the co-inheritors and co-participants of the kingdom of Jesus Christ through His gospel.
These thoughts, by dear brothers and sisters, guided my first steps, a few years ago, in order to journey to far lands where millions of people still live today in idol worshipping idols and false gods. Certainly, before us came many great and holy missionaries. The first missionary to India was Apostle Thomas, who preached the Gospel of Christ in South India, performed miracles, and finally martyred for His Lord in Moulapore, an ancient city near Madras. To our day, these areas are dominated by a vibrant Christian element, even though the local church has cut itself off from the Orthodox Patriarchates and is broken up to different denominations. Since the time of Apostle Thomas until the 20th century, there was no Orthodox Mission in India, even though there were many Greeks in West Bengal, who built a cemetary and a glorious church dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ. A systematic Orthodox Mission started in 1980 in the rural area of Arambah, in West Bengal, 150 km from Calcuta. Fr. Athanasios Anthides, a Greek priest-monk from Egypt, experienced in the missions in Africa, was the first to come to preach Chist crucified in India’s very unfavorable and almost hostile conditions. With simplicity and patience, self-denial and humility, Fr. Athanasios worked for teen years teaching and preaching the truth of Christ and quenching the thirst of our brothers and sisters in India. In the village of Arambah he built a small church dedicated to Apostle Thomas and a humble house for each priest. He progressed in the translations of the Divine Liturgy, the Service Book, and a tome of Orthodox Catechism into the local Bengali dialect. Despite his old age and continuous ailments, Fr. Athanasios journeyed on foot to the surrounding villages, thus forming 24 clusters of believers. He used to say that the mission has to start from the villages where the ground is fertile and unstained from all other heretical teachings. He was right. His preaching brought forth fruit. His spiritual children still talk about Fr. Athanasios with love and affection, knowing him as the man who braught them to the Truth. He fought alone, and his cries for help to Greece went unanswered. He left this life with pain in his heart. The Lord however, satisfied his most deep-felt desire which was to die and be buried in India. On November 28, 1990, the warm ground of West Bengal welcomed the body of the first Greek Orthodox Missionary to India, to give rest to blessed Fr. Athanasios Anthides. Living in the same country, under the same conditions, I too feel his pain and anguish, the battle and the endurance which his love for and faith in Christ gave him. He sacrificed himself on the altar of love and lit the candle of Orthodoxy in Arambah.
Succession – Regrouping
About one year after the falling asleep of Fr. Athansios, by God’s call and the consciense of a huge repsonsibility, and with the hope and grace of God, we came as a small team from Greece to Calcuta. The first few months were spent in repairs of the church building and of the adjacent house. The Church of the Transfiguration was built by the Greek merchants in Calcuta at Amratollah Street, in 1782 but in 1924,it was moved and is now located in an area called Kalighat, named after the goddess Kali whose greatest temple is less than 500 yards from the Church. The Church building is certainly impressive in its grandeur and in its doric style. The interior is decorated with silver liturgical objects, marble floors and altar table. The throne and ambon are carved from wood, with the back of the ambon bearing the inscription : “We preach Christ crucified”. The kouvouklion for the epitaphio and the iconstand are also wood-carvings, donated the faithful. For 250 years, hellenism was flourishing in India. After Indian independence from Great Britain, the Greeks left and the church remained closed for 18 years without any maintenance or repairs. After a few months of exhausting repairs came the time to start the organization of the philanthropic work in the name of the Orthodox Church. The essential part of the daily schedule were the daily services, in greek and bengali, thus witnessing to the fact that for the orthodox, worship holds the first and foremost place in life, and is the source of grace, strength and sanctification.
The difficulties of the Missionary activities
India is a Republic of 26 independent states. West Bengal is under a communist regime which by law forbids any kind of missionary actrivity. Therefore, our actions must always be discrete and cautious. There is always the danger of being expelled if the authorities ever wish to strictly enforce the letter of the law. This fact alone, along with the domination of hinduism in indian society, presents great difficulties for our baptized christians and our catechumens who face contempt from both freinds and family, and from the society as a whole. It is easilty understood, that these newly illumined are like small trees which have been freshly planted and are about to face great storms and winds. They have the need to be continously suported and nourished, so that they can further spread their roots and become strong. This great responsibility of nourishment falls on our shoulders. When the Church prays for the catechumens, they are given stength and the fullness of the faith, salvation from deciet and herecy, and the ability to become members of the Body of Christ. Every Christian has to personally feel the responsibility which is accorded to him, and to show with deeds his sincere interest for his brethren in Christ on this earth.
Journeys – Catechesis
Soon we realized the need to travel frequently to all the villages where there were Orthodox Christians who have minimum opportunity for spiritual nourishment. Our Indian brethren have been raised in an usually hinduistic environment, have heard the basic truths of the faith from the catechizer of their village, have read very few books if any, and have had some chances to attent the Divine Liturgy even though they have never seen a church building. This is all that makes up their knowledge of Orthodoxy. However, their limited knowledge does not stop the Holy Spirit from working in their hearts and from granting them the call to become members of the Body of Christ, to work with humility and patience in order to educate themselves in Christ. When they see us they consider it an honor and they imitate everything we do: how we stand in Church, how we cross our selves, how we talk, whatever we do carries great meaning because, like little children, they are forming their spiritual self by imitating us. Unavoidably there comes to our mind the gospel passage : “whoever scandalizes one of these little ones who believe in me, it is better for that man to tie a rock around his neck and drown himself”. This is how we try to the best of our abilities, to visit the villages in order to hold the Divine Litirgy, to catechize, to hold discussions of various questions, to provide help with food and medicine distribution, to visit schools, to give advice, and to fulfill their spiritual and material needs. The difficulties in this task are various and many. First of all, these travels are difficult. West Bengal is very much behind in technology and in infrastructure in comparison with other nations. Consequently, the roads are terible, motrovehicles are old, and the congestion is unberable as too many cars, buses, bicycles and even livestock exceed the capacity of the roads. In the city, the situation is even worse as noise, polution and the heat require great patience and endurance. A distance of 120-150km take about 4-5 hours. In case of a break-down or other problems, there is no road-side help or telephones. This is why, every time we set off, we cross ourselves, and pray to God that we come back safe.
Divine Liturgy in a hut
We depart around four o’clock in the morning so that we can arrive to our destination by morning, taking with us all the liturgical appointments needed for the Divine Liturgy. The faithful are awaiting us. In a small hut made out of mud, two small tables are set up. One is the altar and the other one is for the preparation of the Holy Gifts. There are no luxurious churches, great choirs, comfortable seats, or beautiful iconography. However, our Lord and God offers Himeself as a sacrifice to all of us for the forgiveness of sins and and life eternal. Slowly people keep coming. Some are not even Christian, but with fear and solemnity observe what is going on. Almost all of the Christians draw near the chalice of Life in order to quench their spiritual thirst. They are all enjoying their blessed day, but in the back of their minds they wonder when the next one is going to come. What is going to be their spiritual nourishment? Their battle is great and the human resources are few. In India, illeteracy is wide-spread, and thus it becomes very hard to find educated Christians that would comprise capable members of the Church and would carry on catechisms, pastoral care, and translations.
Seminars and Translations
For the education of preists and catechists, we have put in place a yealry seminar given by volunteers from the U.S. and Greece, who sacrifice their vacations in order to contribute to the mission. In the translation department there are many delays and difficulties. There have been a few books published, with both liturgical and spiritual content, and many are awaiting printing. The procedure for publishing a book is complicated beyond belief, beginning with the problem of finding a good translator. Translations are done from the english text since there is no greek-speaking Indian suited for Orthodox theological terminology. The printing press companies work at their own pace, and are often very slow and irresponsible. Continuously we run to the site to supervise the work so that it is done correctly and so that they do not cheat us in time and resources. Timeliness, trust, speed, organization and efficiency are words unknown to the life of Calcuta.
The same holds for the erecting of buildings. At the present time there are two churches being built, one youth center, and an orphanage with a church on the outskirts of Calcuta. The tools that the construction workers use are primitive; there are no machines, and they carry the building material in straw baskets on top of their heads. Everything is done at a slow pace. The building material is carried over a distance of 20 minutes by foot, on bicycles or rafts since there is no road for automobiles. Often, we have to travel to these villages for supervision of the work, since, unfortunately, there are no trustworthy people for this kind of work. As you can understand, my beloved christians, the mission is one of continuous exhaustion, stress, disappointments, and huge responsibility.
We would be ignorant and ungrateful if we did not confess the blessings which God grants us. Often we have more and more people come to the mystery of baptism, beginning a new life in Christ. It is a sacred moment when people willingly come to confess that they reject Satan and all his works, and join Christ and belieive in Him as King and God, and worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity one in essense and inseparable. It is a trememdous joy in heaven when the houses with the aweful idols of goddess Kali and the elephant formed Ganis, are replaced with the peaceful figures of Christ and His all-holy Mother. It is a great blessing to see people replace their violent and bloody sacrifices to idols and false gods, with their drawing near Christ Who is full love, peace, and compassion. We are truly blessed and grateful to be His humble co-workers in the salvation of men. We were overjoyed especially when multititudes of faithful came from the villages to participate in the services of Holy Week and Easter. Even though they heard little in their own language, their willingness to learn was beyond description, and the awe in which they attended the services was incredible. We felt inadequate and sad in the fact they could not sing and praise God in their language in the hymns of Holy Week with which our Orthodox tradition has enriched us. We hope that by next Easter the translations will be complete. We were also impressed with their willingness to come to the sacrament of Holy Confession and then to the Holy Eucharist. On the night of the Resurrection, their lips uttered the Christos Anesti with joy and strength. The work is difficult, but the joy of seeing our Indian brethren rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord, gives us rest and spiritual peace.
The Philanthropic work
India is third world country, poor and backwards in comparison with the western world. Especially West Bengal, maybe because of long years of colonization, and because of the communist goverment that took over after independence, is one of the poorest areas in the country. People who live in the industrial world, have no way of imagining the conditions of living in Calcuta. Nevertheless, we will try to sketch a few scenes from this life. Calcuta is a big city with population of 11 million people which features misery and poverty in every corner. Every buidling is very old, blackened by pollution and humidity, and poorly maintained. No matter how many years pass, the view of city life gives a sharp pain in our heart. Millions are homeless, living in the streets, with only some rags for their possessions. Like the poor Lazaros in the parable, so do these people live in poverty, hunger and disease, side by side with dogs and rats, unavoidably thinking about the injustices in the world: others travel in spaceships to outer space, and others fignt for surivival in the streets, forsaken by all. Isn’t this the greatest cross and burden which the modern man daily places on Jesus Christ Who by his sacrifice on the cross willed to give us the supreme example of love and philanthropy? How can we sleep in peace when we hear a baby across the street crying because of fever, or when the monsoon rain falls mercilessly on a homeless family that looks in vain for a shelter? Who can we rest in our cool room and comfortable bed when our brothers and sisters, creatures of God, are baking in the hot tropical sun in the streets and sidewalks for days, months, and years? Life for these people has no yesterday or tomorrow. There is only today. Are they going to survive today? Garbage which is plentiful everywhere, comprise a source of hope for people, animals, and crows. There they will find old scraps of paper which they will sell for a slice of bread. There they will discover something to burn in order to cook their rice so that they can fool their hunger. Wherevere one’s eyes turn, they witness indescribable despair and human degragation. How can we respond to this abyss of human suffering? Where do we start? Human efforts are limited, and we know that no matter what we do, it will be a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless, we are still responsible to try with all our strength, with the hope that our all-merciful Lord and the God-fearing faithful from all over the globe will be our supporters both materially and morally.
One of the firts programs we institued was the daily rationing of morning breakfast consisting of milk and biscuits for the poor children of the area. Very early in the morning they come and wait outside the gates, until the time when the gates open and quickly they come and sit in the courtyard and anxiously await for their morning meal which for many is the only meal of the day. Dirty, with hair uncombed, half-naked, these children beg us for one more biscuit and a little more milk. Often they show us their scars infected by disease and other health problems. When we walk on the street, as soon as they see us they yell: “Father, Father”, and they surround us. I once wondered, what are they were yelling for; Later I understood that all they want is some love and affection. One smile, one affectionate touch makes them happy. If we have some candy to give them, they are not going to forget it for days, whenever they see us. If we look to see where these children live, we will be beyond words. Most of them live in an abandoned muslim burial site. The dark graves are their homes, full of mud, garbage, rats and cockroaches. No one cares for these people. Therefore, we decided to help them as much as we could. We chose some of the most desperate and poor families, about 400 families by now, and gave them cards which they use every two weeks in order to collect a ration of basic substances like rice, sugar, beans, oil, soya, soap and matches. Every Monday, the courtyard fills with the blind and the lepers, paraplygics and skeletons who await for the distribution of food. A pair of crutches is a luxury item as most who are crippled are condemned to crawl on the ground, looking at us with sadness and supplication as their only hope of survival. One must wonder: Who is the one blessed in the eyes of God? Our conscience tests us every time we see this suffering. If these people who are not illumined by the light of Christ suffer this terrible life without protest, then how indebted are we to God for having given us so much. Sometimes one sees these people push each other in the lines, or forget to bring good bags for their ration? But what could one expect from such people who grew up in the streets, who never found out what is a home, a school, a family? Furthermore, our main purpose is not to give food or money to these people, but to provide them with an example of love, patience, meekness, and so by our example to witness Christ. If the material help does not contain this aspect, then the mission has lost its meaning.
Along with poverty and hunger, the health problems that people face are many and unsourmountable. There are very few hospitals which are in terrible condition. Doctors are too expensive, and so is medicine. Very few can afford either. That is the reason why one of our first concerns was the buidling of clinic with Indian physicians who would give free medical care. Today we have three such clinics, one in Calcuta, and the other two in distant villages of West Bengal. Along with the free medicine, we also provide bed-side care when needed. In cases where hospitalization is necessary, we cover the cost when the patient cannot afford it. There is no consideration of social status or religion when medical care is provided. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, and deserves our love and our help which is not measured against our budget but by the love of God. As a result, there have been many cases of long term support for patients who have required operations, and extended care.
Distribution of clothing
An additional philanthropic effort which is done thanks to the loving support of faithful in Greece and Australia is the distribution of clothing to the poor. These clothes become instant hits among the people. We often take them to the villages where we distribute them from a moving vehicle for fear of a mob disabling us from moving any further. For some people, these clothes are such a luxury, that they refrain from wearing them until a special occasion. Others will sell them so that they can buy some rice. Many times we will notice children who are suffering from a serious ailment, but instead of complaining about their illness, they are satisfied by a piece of clothing. It seems strange that the child does not care about its health as much as it cares for a peice of clothing that we consider to be useless. This alone is a witness to the misery and the suffering of these people.
The care of children, and especially of their education, comprises an integral part of our mission. For a child to attend school, money is needed for tuition, books, uniforms, etc. Many children, orphans or from poor families, cannot afford school. We try to cover some of their expenses so that they go to school. Our hapiness is to see these children clean, wearing their school uniform, full of hope for a better future for themselves and the Orthodox Church in India. Very soon, two schools will belong to the Church, one in the area of Katal, and one is Avamgal, where tuition will be free. Difficulties arise when religious fanatism, and political dispiutes get in the way of people seeing what is better for them. Many times we visit other schools and distribute notebooks, writing tools, and other supplies such as clothes, desks, seats, lamps, repair material etc.. We also have under our care an orphanage which houses 50 children, for which we provide food, clothing, schools supplies, toys, and whatever other need they have so that can live a human existence. Every time we visit them is for them a special day. We depart early in the morning before the traffic and the heat becomes intense. On the way we stop to buy some fish for their lunch. If we do not bring them that fish then their lunch would be the usual plate of rice with some yellow sause. For breakfast and dinner there is also rice. We wonder how these chidlren can grow just on rice. Nevertheless, this is the rule for the majority of people. After three hours we are there. On the side of the road some of the children are waiting for us and climb on the car. The rest of the children encircle us asking for a hug and to show us their love. After we unload our supplies, we give candy, school supplies, brushes, soap, and other things. The children, in an orderly fashiom, come and receive their small gifts and thank us from their heart. Afterwards, some go to play, others get a haircut from the barber we brought with us. Then lunch time comes, and after a short prayer, the rice is accompanied by a little bit of fish. In a little while comes time to depart. They surround us again, begging us to return soon. We promise them that we will, and as we are leaving, we glorify God for His great care, in that He did not let these children perish. It is a special blessing by God that the founder of this orphanage, a protestent Christian, let us know, from the time he met with us, that he wanted to baptized Orthodox along with his family and all the children of the orphanage. Therefore, after a systematic catechesis of the family and the chidlren, they were all baptized last fall. With amazement we recount the miracles of the Holy Spirit in the souls of men and exclaim: Which God is as great as our God; You are God, which does wonders.
The Building of the Orphanage
Moved by the same motivation to help as many people as possible, especially the orphan children which are abandoned in the garbage dumps of Calcuta, we decided to build our own Orthodox orphanage in the outskirts of Calcuta in order to accomodate about 100 children. The plans also see for a clinic, a school, workshops, and a chapel. The aim is that the education of the children will revolve around worship life and orthodox teachings. After many efforts, we managed to buy the necessary land, and having gone through the maze of bureaucracy, we built the wall around the lot. This work is tremendous and needs not only money but also a spirit of sacrifice and love that will mold the souls of these children in the mind of Christ.
Human needs never end. Other than the usual ways of philanthropic activity, there are countless opportunities to help those who continuously knock on the doors of the mission house. Where can one start? The repairs of homes damaged by storms, unpaid loans, the support of widows, orphans, handicapped people and other s present us with the opportunities to respond to the words of the Lord: “give to the one who asks and do not turn away from the one who wants something from you”, “and if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is it to you? for even sinners lend to sinners so that they receive the same.. Therefore be merciful just like your Father is merciful”. Certainly, in many occasions we have witnessed improprieties, but with the grace of God we have avoided them so that we can responsibly handle the least of the goods that God has entrusted us.
Words cannot contain what one will feel when he or she witnesses the misery and suffering of the people that surround the mission. What is important is that in every possible way the word of Christ is preached. We know our spiritual and material shortcomings, especially compared to the other Christian denominations who have missions across the globe, and tremendous resources both in personnel and materials. We do not consider our mission to be in competition with theirs. Something of that nature would come in direct opposition of Orthodox teaching which says that mission is first and foremost an act of the Paraclete and secondarily of a human being: “When the Paraklete comes… He will witness for me”. This does not mean that we should be restful. “We are co-workers with God”. God wills our active cooperation for the spreading of the gospel for the glory of His name and the salvation of our brethren. Let us ask ourselves: Are we responding to God’s will responsibly and honestly? The ways we can help are many. God presents us with plenty of opportunities when there is good will. Maybe not all can serve in the distant lands of mission, but they can all offer an equally valuable asset. Even if we pass the word to our fellow man about the mission, that is a valuable offering. The most needed offering one can make is heartfelt prayer for those who are serving missions around the world, and for those not in the Light, so that they too can become members of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This is the prayer I humbly ask of you, and in conclusion I want to thank you for your care and love for the work of God.
A Word on the Indigenous priests: Fr. Patapios has been a priest for 10 years, ordained at the time when Fr. Athanasios had come to Calcuta. He has two daughters who are married and a son in college. He serves eight different centers in a 40km zone. Each center has an average of 80-100 baptized Orthodox, who need to be continuously catechized in order to learn how to live an orthodox life. Fr. Jacob served in the area of Goshpur, with the faithful being scattered in four different villages. The Church is under construction but the 400-500 faithful try to accomodate the Divine Liturgy in different homes. Fr. Jacob has one son and one daughter and together with Fr. Patapios mainly occupies himself with catechism, visitations and the daily services. Fr. Demetrios used to be a security guard at the mission compound. He was interested in the faith and was very pious. He became a reader, and under the spiritual direction of Fr. Ignatios, he was ordained a deacon by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas. He assists Fr. Ignatios with the various tasks in the mission center as well as accompnies him to the surrounding villages for the Divine Liturgy. The above three priests converted from Hindiusm. Fr. Andrew used to be an Anglican, and worked for a group of people whose efforts were to prevent church building from being sold to private buyers. The Orthodox Church was about to be sold so he came to inquire. It was in 1991 when he kept on searching and became Orthodox. Fr. Andrew is married and has one daughter who just had a baby girl Irene. His wife Maria works at the clinic in the center. Even before converting, Fr. Andrew helped with the legal aspects of the Philanthropic society, and used to handle the accounting.
by Fr. Ignatios Sennis, trans. Tilemahos Alikakos)
SRI LANKA OF MY HEART
Orthodox Metropolitanate of Singapore and South Asia –
The Orthodox Metropolitanate of Singapore was founded with the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2008 after being detached from the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong.
Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Timor, Maldives islands, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Orthodox Metropolitanate.
The Mission of the Orthodox Church in South Asia, is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded” so that all people may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth:
To preach, in accordance with God’s will, the fullness of the gospel of the Kingdom to the peoples of South East Asia and to invite them to become members of the Orthodox Church.
To utilize for her mission the various languages of the peoples of this continent.
To be the body of Christ in South East Asia and to be faithful to the tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church.
To witness to the truth, and by God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, to reveal Christ’s way of sanctification and eternal salvation to all.
The address of the Offices of the Orthodox Metropolitanate in Singapore is the following:
Orthodox Metropolitanate of Singapore and South Asia
896 Dunearn Road,
04-08 Sime Darby Centre,
Fr. Seraphim Bell, Scotland & USA:
“I became Orthodox for one reason: Obedience to the Truth”
The Orthodox Faith
Origin of the Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church began at Pentecost. It was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, when after His Ascension, He sent down upon His Apostles the Holy Spirit who proceeds from God the Father as is written in the New Testament. The Orthodox Church of today can trace its history back to the New Testament Church in unbroken continuity. The Apostles, as per our Lord’s command, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and founded churches in Europe, Asia and Africa. Under the direction of the Apostles and their successors, whom they appointed to carry on their mission, the Orthodox Church began to thrive. At each city and town that the Apostles traveled they would appoint a bishop to continue to minister to the faithful, before leaving on their missionary journeys. As the Church grew, the bishops in turn had to appoint priests and deacons to help them with their flock.
The Orthodox Faith
Back to the First Church
Finding the New Testament Church
Written by Jon E. Braun, Edited by Bishop Alexander Mileant
THERE IS A PREDICTABLY RELIABLE WAY to tackle the problem of who is right. Rather than trying to decide which of the over 2,500 Christian groups in North America keeps the original faith best by studying what they are like right now, we can start from the beginning of the Church itself and work our way through history to the present.
The birthday of the Church was Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit descended on the twelve Apostles in the Upper Room. That day some 3,000 souls believed in Christ and were baptized. When the first Christian community began, “they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread (Communion), and in prayers” (Act 2:42).
From Jerusalem, the faith in Christ spread throughout Judea, to Samaria (Acts 8), to Antioch and the Gentiles (Acts 13), where we find new converts and new churches throughout Asia Minor and other countries of the Roman Empire.
From the pages of the Epistles and the book of Acts, we learn that the Church was not simply another organization in Roman society. The Lord Jesus Christ had given the promise of the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). That promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, when the Church was given birth as an divine institution far above all earthly organizations. In Ephesians (Eph. 2:21) St. Paul called it “a holy temple of the Lord.” The Church was a dynamic organism, the living Body of Jesus Christ. She made an indelible impact in the world, and those who became part of her were inwardly renewed.
But we also discover in the New Testament itself that the Church had her share of problems. All was not perfection. Individuals in the Church sought to lead her off the path the Apostles established, and they had to be dealt with along with the errors they invented. Even whole local communities lapsed on occasion and had to be called to repentance. The Church in Laodicea is a vivid example (Revelation ch. 3). Discipline was administered for the sake of purity in the Church. But there was growth and a maturing even as the Church was attacked from within and without. The same Spirit who gave her birth gave her power to correct and purify her members. The Church grew and became strong until she eventually covered the whole of the Roman Empire.
The Orthodox Faith series is intended to provide basic, comprehensive information on the faith and life of the Orthodox Church. It consists of four volumes and is available for purchase from SVS Press.
Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko (1939–2015) was professor of dogmatic theology and served as dean of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Alongside his numerous books and articles, Father Thomas was also renowned as a gifted speaker and homilist.
Volume 1 contains three sections: the sources of Christian Doctrine, the main doctrines of the Orthodox Church present by way of commentary on the Nicene Creed, and an explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
Volume 2 contains 5 sections
Volume 3 contains one section on the contents and interpretation of the Bible, and one section on the history of the Church, emphasizing the main theological, liturgical and spiritual development of each century.
Volume 4 deals with the main themes of Christian Life: prayer, fasting, repentance, the virtues, witness in the world, and communion with God.
ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
These Truths We Hold
The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings
ORTHODOXY IN AMERICA
The following articles on Orthodoxy are from the book, These Truths We Hold – The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings, published by and available from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary Press:
FROM WORKER SECT TO ORTHODOXY
Hi dear friends!
My name is Abel-Tasos Gkiouzelis (Abel-Anastasios Gkiouzelis) and I will tell you about my conversion from the Protestantism to Eastern Orthodox Church.
I was born in Athens, Greece, in 1981 in the Protestantism, in the small Protestant sect of “Workers”, in the Worker Sect which also called “Church Without Name”, “Two by Two Church”, “2×2’s”, “Friends & Workers”, “The Truth”, “Christians”, “The Non-Denominational Church”, “Christian Convention Church”, “The Christian Church”, “No-Name Church”, “The Faith Missioners”, “Nameless House Church”, “The Damnation Army”, “Dippers”, “Go Preachers”, “The Jesus-Way”, “The New Testament Church”, “Pilgrims”, “The Reidites”, “Tramp Preachers”, “The Testimony”, “The Way”, and with at least 20 still concrete names, who was founded in Ireland on 1897 by William Irvine, Edward Cooney and Jack Carroll, for this reason also the are known and as “Cooneyites”, “Irvinites” or “Carrollites”.
Until 1997, 16 years old, Ι went regularly to meetings of “Workers” believing that this is the Truth. At home but also in entire building in which I stayed, often hosted all over the world preachers who call themselves “brothers and sisters Workers” and teaches that it is the first successors of the Apostles. Unfortunately, I could not imagine that there were “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves apostles of Christ”(2 Corinthians 11:13 ), which in deed make and women in “Apostles”, which is not testified in the New Testament.
In 1997, 16 years old, Ι started to find the meetings of “Workers” boring and so stopped going to them. The months went I began to feel hate for this “Christianity” those whom I had known since birth. My dislike for Christianity gave the baton to a complete disregard for God and indifference for God led me to atheism. And my soul, however, was actually empty. I felt a void that I wanted to fill ti with something. And I tried to fill my void with the rock music. I tried to imitate the life of hippies of the 1960s. I had the hippies as model in dressing, music and ideas. I was believing that there is not sin and that all permits. So, when the “Workers ” visited our house, I put deliberately hard rock music. I wanted with this way to show them that I had break away from their team. From their “Christianity”.
Deep my soul, however, I wished the faith in the God. But now I hated, I felt a repulsion for the Christianity. So I began to read for the ancient Egyptian religion of Pharaoh, placing in my room several Egyptian idols.
I had changed. I was not henceforth the “Worker meeting young boy”. The “meetings old boy” had changed. I tried to make new friends who would not know the old “meetings boy”. After one year, in 1998, 17 years old, I Knew experienced some Christians Orthodox persons, aged 20-21 years old, students in University of Athens, which is in the neighbourhood, feeling very glad that I found this good friends company where one help and supports each other in difficult times. I was avoiding talk to them about God. I had enough discussions about God. The “Workers” occasionally asked me what I’m thinking about my future and jokingly, I replied that I want to be a hippie. And he tried to explain me what were the hippies and that this is not a good choice for the life of somebody.
Next year, in 7 September 1999 in Athens, where I lived, there was a great earthquake which was new to me. For several days were aftershocks and day by day more and accumulate within the fear of something worse leading evenings I could not, not to sleep, nor even to lie on the bed. One evening, while I was awake and the rest my family slept, thought to settle my library so as it turned from it all books and other things, deep in a shelf and powder I found in a small New Testament which he had given several years before.
I arranged the library and, as I had the whole evening in front of, I thought to read some New Testament, since not sleep nor did anything else. With that in spring in a random page and I began reading I was surprised. My heart was filled with calmness, courage and joy. All fright which I had accumulated in me from the first earthquake and repeated aftershocks disappeared immediately. Plus I do not feel fear of aftershocks. Immediately thought that God exists and that He just showed it to me!
The next morning I got happy phone my friends and I told them: “Do you know what to do to avoid fear the earthquakes? Still read the New Testament!”. They were surprised with what they hear. They never expected to hear something like that, because I never had left might appear my Christian side. So I began to believe again that God exists and Sunday for the first time after two years I went back to meetings of “Workers”. Everyone there was glad to see me and welcomed me with a warm “welcome”. So from then normally go again to meetings of “Workers” and particularly first of all.
One day I tried to talk to a girl person, called P., with whom were friends, about the meetings of “Workers” where I was going. I told her that every Sunday in the apartment building that I was living, we have some “meetings” where we read the Gospel and sung several Christian hymns suggesting her to come if she want it. P. with the thought that I found in some Christian sect that are now trying to muzzle proselytizing heresy, left shocked, turbulent, hurried, not knowing what to the fork and how to troubleshoot the call on heretical gatherings. And I could not understand why she left. I asked her the next day and received no answer.
One day P. asked me if I am baptized Eastern Orthodox Christian. I fell into embarrassment. I was afraid of saying the truth because I did not know how she felt. So I told her, “I don’t Know”. She replied me “You must Know if you are baptized Orthodox or not”. Cluttered and awkward again I said her that I would call in my house to ask about it… I asked my mother if I am baptized Christian Orthodox and she told me: “Don’t you know? What are you ask me? Of course you’re not”. I said to her, and she showed convulsed and embarrassed for once and formal learning that I’m not Orthodox Christian.
Next day my friends with a calm manner tried to talk to me, telling me that I was in the fallacy of heresy and the Eastern Orthodox Church is the Truth of Christ. Then I stopped being the calm “boy of meetings” and I filled rage. I forgot that I discuss with someone who really loves me, with my friends, with-full of rage I began to speak against the Orthodox Church, accusing it of not properly clergy, not knowing that there are reverent and proper clergy. My friends embarrassed about the behavior of me and they stopped the discussion and they tried to calm down me.
The next day on when I had calmed down, my friends company from TEI-University tried again to explain to me that I am in heresy. I answered them again filled rage, talking them with hate about the Eastern Orthodox Church, leading my friends company to grieve much for the bad behavior of me, for the bad behavior of their friend. I understand that I spoke badly but my ego will not let me admit it.
Next day, my friends again for other one time, with calm manner and love of Christ tried again to explain to me that I was in fallacy. But it was very difficult from them because they did not know the Holy Bible by heart. While they started with calmly about the Eastern Orthodox Church and while I still full of rage prepared to respond to them I though in myself:
“I know that these persons really love me and they have demonstrated it too many times to various problems and difficulties in University etc. Also never they have told me lies. Never they have derided me. Regarding the Eastern Orthodox Church about they are trying to talk to me at this moment… I know nothing about the Eastern Orthodox Church. How can I be sure how all that they say to my are wrong? First I must go to see what is the Eastern Orthodox Church and after I will can to have a conclusion…”.
So, instead of angrily replied, I replied them with calm and I assured my friends that I will go to looking for where is the Truth, going to see what is the Eastern Orthodox Church, too.
After few day, I decided to go alone in the Eastern Orthodox Church of my neighborhood and while I stund from a Picture-Icon of Christ and Virgin Mary I maked (I was doing) my Cross and I said to Christ:
“My Christ I don’t Know if the place, the Orthodox Church, in which I find this moment is correct. Also I don’t Know if the way with which this moment I pray, that I pray with Your Picture-Icon and that I make-doing my Cross, is correct. However, I Know that You say in the Holy Bible, “If someone knocks Me I will open him” give me an answer where is the Truth. Is it in the “Workers” or in the Christian Orthodox Church? And if You give me an answer I will not deny You! And before you see to me where is the Truth I will not discuss with any Christian Orthodox clergyman in order to explain to me what the Orthodox Church teaches or any “Worker” in order to explain to me what the “Workers” are believe. I will wait to see me where is the Truth. Please, answer me where is the Truth and I will not deny You! Amen”.
From that day my friends didn’t told me again about the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some day just told me that I will must make-doing my cross whenever I passed in front of a Church. And I accepted. And I started to go alone on a Sunday the Orthodox Liturgy prayed sincerely to see God ‘s Truth and one Sunday alternately I went in meetings of “Workers” praying again warmly to see me our God where is the Truth. Also, each night knelt to bed before lying down, praying again to God to see me the Truth. My friends did not tell me anything on this matter, but they knew from me that I was going to the Christian Orthodox Liturgy, too.
One day, early in 2000, offer my friends if I wanted to go one day excursion to Aegina Island (Greece) to visit the Monastery of St. Nectarios. And I answered “Yes, let’s go”, thinking that it had nothing waning.
Over the monastery of St. Nectarios I asked them to stay a little lonely. I took a walk and I went to the place where was the tomb of St. Nectarios. I saw some persons to kneel in front of the tomb of St. Nectarios and to prayed. It seemed strange to me, but I did impressions.
When empty the small chapel with the tomb of St. Nectarios and I stayed alone I knelt and said to the Saint: “St. Nectarios, if you are live in the heaven with God and hear me and if the Christian Orthodox Church is the Truth, help me and show me…”.
After a few minutes I got up and went to meet my friends who waited for me at the exit of the monastery. Just my friends saw me, they thinking that something awful happens to me. And with interest asked me, “Are you Ok? You somehow appear… Does you happens something good or something ugly?”. Full query, I ensured them that all it’s well, realising however that I felt a calm which rather it they had distinguished my friends who uneasy asked me if I am fine of not. I ensured them one more time that all it is a joy and that only that I done it was prayer as doing all there in the Monastery. The calm which I felt I didn’t interpreted and I didn’t reported it to my friends. Just I knew that I had felt it.
The next day when we came back in Athens I called P. to tell her my impressions from the monastery of St. Nectarios of Aegina Island. Before I called her I knew very well that the day before we had gone to St. Nectarios of Aegina. When, however, I called P. I said her that we had gone to Monastery of St. Andrew (Apostle Andrew) of Aigina! But there isn’t “St. Andrew of Aigine”. There is only St. Apostle Andrew. And there is not any Monastery with the name of St. Andrew in Aegina.
My friend P. thought that I was made (that I was doing) jokes and she was wondering how can I don’t remember where we had gone just the day before. I had completely forgotten the name of St. Nectarios and I insisted that we go to the St. Andrew of Aegina. When P. reminded me that we had gone to the St. Nectarios of Aegina and not to the St. Andew, immediately I remembered where we had gone and with amazement how could I forget I said her, “Oh, yes, I’m sorry”.
The months are going on and I was going one Sunday to the meetings of “Workers” and one Sunday alternately to the Liturgy of Orthodox Church, praying always hotly to the God to answer me where is Truth. All these months I and my friends from TEI-University did not have any discussion about where is the Truth. They did not wanted to pressure me. Simply they prayed for me knowing that no prayer does not go lost. Even smallest.
In the summer of 2000 my friends company of TEI-University, offer me if I wanted to going to Church of the Virgin Mary in Tinos Island, Greece. I accepted thinking again that it had nothing waning. In Tinos Island (Greece) stayed for two days because it was far away. The first day we visited the church-chapel of the Virgin Mary in Tinos Island that there is the miraculous Icon of Virgin Mary. I went front to the Icon of Virgin Mary where she has the Christ in her arms and with heartfelt prayer I said: “My Jesus Christ, show me where is the Truth and I will not deny You!”.
After, while we left from the church-chapel of Virgin Mary, my friends stopped in a bench outside from the Church that there sold small candles, Icons of Virgin Mary, books etc. and I was waitting them. Someone from my friends told me: “If you want buy a small Icon of Virgin Mary”. So I bought one small icon of Virgin Mary.
In the evening we went to our rooms at the hotel and I put the small icon into a sachets on the nightstand and light up a candle wax. I lied in bed and fell asleep without even noticing. In the middle of the night I woke suddenly startled and immediately I saw that the candle towards the bedside table had melted and the wooden nightstand catched fire (it was on fire). I got up quickly and awestruck with a cloth, put out the fire. Since then I looked at the sachets the small icon on the nightstand, I thought that possibly the Virgin Mary help me to wake up so suddenly and promptly anticipating the fire before it spread further.
The next day when we came back in Athens, I hung the small icon of Virgin Mary on a wall inside my room. I didn’t believe yet that the Christian Orthodox Church is the Truth Church of Christ, but something told me that Virgin Mary had helped me to woke up in time before to expand the fire. And for these reason I decided to put the small icon of Virgin Mary in my room. So I waited for with distress how would react my parents when they will see the small Orthodox Icon. After some hours at evening my parents were saw the small Icon and for first time they occupied that their son (me) relates himself with the Christian Orthodox Church. They told me with anger and neurously to throw out and I tried to explain them that I didn’t doing something wrong-bad and that I has every right to have in my room everything that I want. The troubles were continued on a daily basis. For the fear to they throw the small Icon of Virgin Mary when I was absent from the house was taking with me the small Icon and when I came back I was hanging it again.
One night my mother insisted that I throw the small icon. She said to me that “if the icon of Virgin Mary tomorrow morning it will here in your room I will throw it”. And, this time, I told her calmly “You can doing what ever the God illuminated you… “, thinking to myself that if God accepts Orthodoxy as Truth He illuminated her not to throw it. And if God accepts the “Workers” as Truth illuminated her to throw it. And so I understand what the Truth is.
When the next morning I woke up at 7:00 to go to University, I saw that my mother went to her job and she hadn’t throw away the small Icon of Virgin Mary. I felt very glad that she didn’t throw the small Icon but… I was not yet isconvinced about where is the Truth. So, I left from my home to go in University. I left the small Icon in the wall. The midday I came back in my house, and I realized astonished that the Icon was absent. My brother and my sisters came back at home and someone of them was hiding the Icon under a book. I fount it and I didn’t tell them something about the small Icon of Virgin Mary.
At 14:00 I was distressed because I could not unterstand where is it the Truth and I began to prepared in to meeting at 15:00 my friend P., in the centre of Athens, in Plaka, for a time-walk. But when I was absent my mother at 15:30 would returned from her job in the house. And I thought if it would be supposed to left the icon hung in my room or I would must be took it with me from the fear to throw my mother the Icon as to told me previous evening. So I decided to left the small Icon in the house and whether that will happened (if she throw the Icon or not) that will was a proof about where it is the Truth. With the hope that the God answer me where is the Truth, I maded my Cross, I kissed the small icon of Virgin Mary and I left it hung in the wall.
So I met in Plaka of Athens my friend P. and as we walked at some point P. said me that she did not feel well and that dizzy. She had indeed pale and I told her to sit down on a bench that was near there and I went to buy her an orange juice. As I put my hand in my pants pocket to pull out money to pay, knowing that in my pocket I had only money and keys, I thought it catch a shaped object “Q”, that is object with like crick. Over the agony, I paid with no attention, I paid the orange juice and gave it to P. and she drank it and she assembled.
They continued to walk in the Plaka of Athens, and after half an hour, whilst just walked in silence for something specific, I wondered to myself if it was my idea of what I looked it catch in my pocket half an hour ago shaped “Q”, like something with crick and spontaneously I put my hand in my pocket to municipalities if indeed caught something or was just my idea. Surprised to discover that in my pocket was the small icon of Virgin Mary, and “Q” which in shape was caught was the crick that the small icon has to hang!
Immediately I told to P. what happened but she did not believe me. She told me whether I took the small icon with me like other times and that I did not remember it. And I replied her that I took it this time with me and that even left the small icon at home as a criterion to where is the Truth. My friend P. didn’t believe me and she said to me: “Ok, when you come back at home, you hang the small icon again to see what your parents tell you”. So the afternoon as I came back home I was hang the small icon and when my parents saw it created a fuss. The evening before lying down to sleep, to corp the icon for fear my parents throw away.
The next morning I left for University and I took together the small icon and when I returned home in the evening I hang it again in the wall of my room.
When my mother saw it, made a great fuss and she said me with angry: “I told you that if you would hang the icon again I throw it. But you hung it and I take it and after you went and took it from me, inside my bathrobe”.
When I hear these words, I was surprised. I know that something supernatural had happened, but in any case I don’t expect that will confirm it and my mother. And I told her exactly what had happened, stressing that I didn’t took the icon from her bathrobe, but miraculously founded in my pocket. My mother quickly went to my room and corp the small icon by opening the windows to be discarded. I run anticipating before she throw it.
With all these I just believed that our God showed me that the Christian Orthodox Church is the Truth. So I decided to talk with an Christian Orthodox clergyman-priest. I went in the Orthodox Church of my neighborhood and I spoke with priest Father Andrew, narrating to him the whole story of how I believed to Cristian Orthodox Church. Father Andrew listened to me carefully and he said to me in the end: “You have every right to believe what you want but because you live with your parents in the same house, is better to you have the small icon with you together, not to sag it for not having troubles at home. And in the future, God first, in your home you will bore what you want”.
Since, I had the small icon with me together and I went every Sunday only to the Orthodox Church.
My father before married and maked family had become “Worker” with the result can be interpreted the Holy Bible in the Protestant way, ie misinterpreting and omitting several passages hagiography (verses). So he called me with a view to demonstrate how through Holy Bible proves that the Orthodox Church is not the Truth. I had hoped that I could be proved otherwise. But I knew nothing of anti-heretical hagiographic (verses from Holy Bible) argument.
My father began arguing that the holy icons are idolatry and I answered him that it is not idolatry because we don’t worship the wood or the pictured saints and the veneration that is honorable and not worship, something with which my father did not agree. Then my father began to show various hagiographic (verses) without which he argue was against holy confession, Priesthood, fasting and, as well, against the Saints and the Virgin Mary. Unfortunately, although I know that it is not right, I didn’t not know how to prove it hagiography (verses), preferring not to answer at all.
The days went by and every day my father asking me to show me and other hagiographic passages (verses) which, as mistakenly claimed, proves that the Eastern Orthodox Church is wrong. Sometimes I went to talk with him, because he insisted and sometimes not, because I know that my father misunderstand the Holy Bible and that I was not at a position to prove it because I didn’t knew about Holy Bible. One morning as I was leaving for TEI-University, I was stopped by my father to show me something in the Holy Bible. Began to bring me back argument against Orthodoxy and this time he managed to convince me that Orthodoxy is located in fallacy.
So I convinced that Orthodoxy is wrong heading into University thinking if I should made to the company that eventually became convinced from his father that the Eastern Orthodox Church is wrong. So, under punching my hand and thinking that I agree with my father that Orthodoxy is false, I decided that I will tell it to them.
In University I met my friend P. and I told her that I was convinced from my father that Orthodoxy is wrong. So P. without anger but with emphasis and tears in her eyes said to me: “Are you forget everything that Virgin Mary did to you? Are you forget everything?”.
When I listened these words severally mentally shaken and immediately I said to myself: “She has right. I asked Christ to show me where is the Truth and He showed me, knowing that I will be continuous war must remain solid and will come also the time during which learn and how through Holy Bible proves that the only Truth is the Christian Orthodox Church”. So when I returned at noon in my home, with these same words that I said to myself, I said to my father confessing that the Orthodox Church is the Truth regardless at the moment I do not know how to prove it by Holy Bible.
The days passed and I keeps going steadily every Sunday to the Orthodox Liturgy and I felt to grow up in more a leaf in favor of the Orthodox Church. So one day I said to Father Andrew that I would like to be baptized Christian Orthodox. Fr. Andrew answered me that “To be baptized Christian Orthodox you should really believe rather than at the barrel e.g whether to marry an Orthodox girl or for other reasons”. I assured him that I really believe that the Orthodox Church is the Truth and that the Orthodox Church is the Church that founded by Christ and I wants with my heart to come in His Church and I don’t doing it for other reasons”. So, Fr. Andrew said me that we should find a godfather.
Unfortunately, months went by, and we didn’t find a godfather. Father Andrew wanted to baptism me but he was told me that he wanted to find a trusted person for godfather and I answered him: “God will find someone”.
One morning in late March 2001, I passed outside a church-chapel near the neighborhood and thinking that it has ever been in this church decided to lit a small candle. The small church was dedicated to St. Apostle Andrew. As prayed into the small church the vicar priest of the church, Father Emmanuel asked me: “Who are you? Where are you from? Are you from this neighborhood? We haven’t seen again here”. I surprised, I took his blessing (I kissed him hand) and I told him that I’m a neighbor. After I told him my story, about how I believed and that I want to be baptized Orthodox. Fr. Emmanuel surprised looked the sacristan-woman who was also there and told her that if I desire they can indeed baptized me there. Then Fr. Emmanuel explained to the resurrection that I be baptized must truly believe and not barrel for any other reason. And I assured him that every day more and a leaf growing in favor of Orthodoxy.
So, by the Grace of God after two weeks of catechism, on 7 April 2001, Saturday of Lazarus I baptized Christian Orthodox, with godfather the son of Fr. Emmanuel, in this church of St. Apostle Andrew.
On the occasion that I was baptized in a chuch (chapel) of St. Apostle Andrew and “St. Andrew of Aegina” which I had said instead of “St. Nektarios”, I thought that maybe St. Nektarios had helped me to believe and be baptized, as I requested him. So, I bought a book of his life in order to ask more about his life. As I read surprised found that the folk name of St. Nectarios, before he became a monk was “Anastasios”. Like me. And after when the St. Nectarios became a monk named “Lazarus”. And I baptized “Saturday of Lazarus” (feast day of St. Lazarus). And that then St. Nectarios became a priest named “Nektarios”.
Almost immediately I remembered an incident from the time when I was at school, about 1993, 12 years old. In the time of Gymnastics I sat with peers who were discussing something and I heard them without myself taking part in the discussion. Suddenly, without myself to the will, inconsiderate, I switches them from the discussion by asking so spontaneously: “Hey Guys, how about we become when we will are 20 years old?”.
My classmates started laughing about this question and I realizing that I told something “wrong” by talking and I tried to fix it by saying “uh… e… I say how I am when I’m 20 years old”. Realizing, however, that I said something irrelevant to discussion I didn’t asked again.
Just now, after 8 years I found that those which I said at the time in high school was not an ordinary recklessness. Because on 31 March 2001 I was 20 years old (I was born 31/3/1981) and after one week, in April 7, 2001, I baptized Eastern Orthodox Christian.
I thought all of them can be simple coincidences and that really St. Nektarios had helped me to believe in the real Truth. In to the unbroken apostolic succession Orthodox Church. In the Church founded by Christ. And for which he said “I build my Church, and the gates of hades will not prevail against it”(Matthew 16:18 ). I remembered that one of the names of “Worker Sect” is “The Truth”. But the “Truth” of “Workers” is false. It’s a lying “Truth”.
With the Grace of God, I continued to damage the spiritual life in the Orthodox Church, in real Truth. However, the devil did not remain inactive and before spending two months from my baptism, the devil began to sow heretics thoughts against the embassy of the Saints. So I started thinking why would I pray to the Saints and not only pray directly to Christ. Although I know that these thoughts were heretical and wrong, I could not with anything to get it out of my mind. I kicked again and again. I felt clearly that the devil makes war of putting all these thoughts, but I could not doing nothing. So, I asked for help from God.
On the afternoon of 8 May 2001 while I was in the Church in the evening prayer of the feast of St. Christopher and continues all these heretical thoughts, when I saw the icon-image of St. Christopher started patiently enter thoughts against this particular Saint. The icon-picture of St. Christofer to pass a river, having at the back of Christ as a child. I could not understand how this is done, from the moment the St. Christopher lived in the 3rd century A.D..
At the end of the Vespers a lady gave to me an identical plasticized small icon of St. Christopher saying me that the St. Christopher is a patron of drivers. I was perplexed and asked her to learn about the life of St. Christofer. She told me that he was idolatry to originate cannibal tribe, but he was very good and virtuous. He was big with great physical strength and so very often help disability, elderly and children to cross a raging river much of the area where they lived. One time as he tried to lift a child to spend it on the opposite bank found surprised that despite his power, he could not lift it. After he was revealed that this child was the Christ, and appeared to congratulate him for a job well help and love which offers fellows. And then St. Christopher believed in Christ, was baptized and became worthy to Witness and now he is a Saint Martyr who killed for Christ.
I was glad for the life of St. Christopher. The heretical thoughts continued and I begged St. Christopher to help me to stop the bad thoughts. I did not like to bore thoughts against the Saints. I feel that someone else whispering bad thoughts constantly in my mind. And I realized that he was the devil. While the bad thoughts like “Why do you pray to the Saints and not only to Christ?”, continued, and I could not stop them, begging God to help me.
This time (2001) I went to University and I worked in McDonalds (2000-2002) of the centre of Athens, too.
So, in May 2001, after a few days, when I finished from my work-McDonalds at noon and I led for my home with my car, I realized that from fatigue sleepy and my eyes closed. As I tried to hold open unwisely thought the Avenue of Athens-Corinth from which I was going is a straight and that we would be able to keep my eyes open and while running at higher speed to be faster, I would arrive in a fourth at my home well. As I started to cross the avenue and increasing speed to reach home sooner, my eyes closed and hastily exposures. I opened the windows of car and the music radio.
I thought it was a quarter that should have patience and barrel would reach. As I began to drive in the bridge of Kifisos I heard a loud collision while I thought someone crashed while I opened my eyes, which I were not understood that it was closed and I saw broken panes. And then I saw that I had crashed myself. Immediately I came out and I was surprised when I saw where I was. Moving up the bridge of Kifisos without realizing I had fallen asleep and crossed the entire bridge asleep, and that part of the avenue after the bridge crashed in cars that were stopped In first traffic light after the bridge and causing pile. The frond of my car crashed very match but had not anything happening to myself.
So, straight my mind went to the St. Christopher and generally the embassies of the Saints. Immediately I realized that I had helped by St. Christopher and that Christ accepts our pray to the Saints, who after death is not in a stupor as they say the heretical, but also they live after death, they can hear, they can see, they can understand and help people. Like the Prophet Moses had died though (Deuteronomy 34:5) he appeared in the Transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:3-4 ) and as though Abraham who also died in about 1800 B.C., from heaven “saw it and was glad”(John 8:56) (he saw the Incarnation of Christ). And so by Grace and the help of God completely dissolved from my mind the heretical thoughts against the Saints.
After, I began to feel the desire to get to know other young persons that are conscious Orthodox Christians inside the Church and I began to pray to God to send me some persons. And God answered immediately with a reply which He had “preparation” many years ago. Our family dentist who had come in my baptism and has extended family, said me that her children go to a priest in the center of Athens, who engaged in anti-heretical and apologetic work of the Church and that every Sunday makes speeches on youth in style Q&A (questions and answers), where they were asking questions about faith and disbelief and he answered to them. And she offer to go there, me too. And she told me that I will have the chance to meet a lot of new young persons from the Orthodox Church and yet I can ask the priest various questions that I have been on the Orthodox Faith.
So, on June 2001 I went to meet the priest who called Father John. Father John asked me to tell him my story of how I believed and was baptized and happily I recounted his. When I finished my narration Fr. John said to me: “You believed in a miracle. But that the Eastern Orthodox Church is the only Truth is not only established through the wonders but also only from Holy Bible. Because and the devil can doing wonders. And Buddhists do wonders and many others with the power of the devil doing wonders. But God loves you and He maked a wonder in your life to believe Him”.
I surprised with what I heard and I asked Fr. John to explain me that reveals this up during the Holy Bible. Also wondered how my parents just read Holy Bible and being outside the Church and Fr. John replied that they misunderstand the Holy Bible.
Then he mentioned the words of Christ Himself who said of his Church that it will establish and will not be interrupted when your work forever and ever: “I will build my Church, and the gates of hades will not prevail against it”(Matthew 16:18). Roman Catholics were detached from the body of the Church in 1054 AD and the Protestants left from Roman Catholics on 1517 AD. And then as now established at least 33,000 different Protestant heresies where one does not accept the other and all claims that the Church had stopped Her work and its restarted when themselves founding the protestants sects. So the words of our Lord “build my Church, and the gates of hades will not prevail against it”(Matthew 16:18 ) match only the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ and His Apostles on 33 A.D.. Also, the Eastern Orthodox Church has the Apostolic Succession.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is also called Christian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Catholic Church, Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy. (But, be careful: Christian Orthodox Church is not same with Coptic Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Church of Armenia, Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Christianity, that they are also called Monophysites, Copts and Chalkedonians and they are heretical false sects because they left from Christian Orthodox Church in 451 A.D.)
In September 2001 I started going in speeches for young people which they have Fr. John in style Q&A. I asked many questions, quite benevolent wonder which I had on how all those who teach the Eastern Orthodox Church, having abolished the Protestants like Holy Icons, Virgin Mary, Priesthood, Confession etc., it turns up during the Holy Bible.
Fr. John answered to me many questions but because I had a lot of questions told me to come after speaking to his office to give me an anti-heretical book. And he gave me one that automatically negate the heretical protestants teachings with only hagiographies passages (verses) from Holy Bible. So I read the anti-heretical this book and God blessed me to believe the Christian Orthodox Church from the Holy Bible, too.
After a few months, on 2002, I learned that Fr. John want to build a monastery in Attica, Greece, which will deal divine confession and apology against heresies, atheists, buddhists etc. with anti-heretical books. And Ι said to Fr. John that I want abided by his monastery.
So, on 29 November 2002, the eve of St. Apostle Andrew, I came officially escorted of Fr. John, and I waiting and making daily prayer to God given us a place monastery.
In the summers of 2002 and 2003, I worked with my father as painters. These two summers I had gone with my father to Mykonos Island (Greece) to paint a new hotel. There I asked as to whether there is some local Saint and I learned about St. Manuel of Mykonos, who was married in Mykonos and he was martyred in Chios Island, Greece. The memory day of St. Manuel is on 15 March (+1792).
So, I asked Fr John to pray every day to St. Manuel of Mykonos and he said me: “Ok, pray to help us to find a place for our monastery”. So I prayed to Christ, to Virgin Mary and St. Manuel of Mykonos to help us to find a place to build monastery.
After 5 years, with God’s Grace we found a temporary place for Monastery and in November 25, 2007, I went to lived there. And to show me our God, for another one time, that the Saints of God helps us and that we must invoke them without any hesitation in March 15, 2008, the feast day of St. Manuel of Mykonos, I was tonsured a monk with the name “Abel” that gave me the Bishop of Piraeus in honor of St. Forefathers Abel (Adam’s son in Old Testament) noting surprised that in November 29 where I desided in 2002 to be a monk, is the feast day of another Saint who called St. Abel of Valaam, Russia (+1831).
After 6 years, on 2013, we find a place from monastery and now we will start to build it.
Every day and every night I pray for all the people to coming inside the House of Christ, to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
With love of Christ
Abel-Tasos Gkiouzelis (Abel-Anastasios Gkiouzelis)
Feel free to email me!
[ In greek language with video: