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Today’s Holocaust: Abortion The Indescribable Calamity!

October 24, 2009 1 comment

abort

By Bishop Joseph of Arianzos of Australia

An iconographer, Mr. Kostas Vrousgos from Thessaloniki, has painted a remarkable icon shown above, known as “The Abortion Icon”, with the blessing of Bishop Joseph of Arianzos. It has been published in thousands of copies. His Grace wrote the following text about abortion and the Icon, printed on the reverse side of the Icon.

The All-Holy God is the fountain of life. Life belongs to him. His love provides life to all living organisms and especially to man, whom He created in His own image and likeness. We live and exist because of the overflowing love of God. As in this sacred overflowing love of God which is life, every person has a right which cannot be taken away. The Son and Word of God became human, was crucified and was resurrected so that all “may have life and abundantly they may have” (John 10:10). God’s gift of life is inviolable and murder is forbidden by the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Tradition of the Church (Holy Fathers, Synods and Canons). He who takes away life opposes the work of the Life-giving Lord and joins with the devil, who “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).

Human life begins from the moment of conception and fertilization. The Church believes this, and so does contemporary medicine (Panhellenic Medical Conference 1985). Furthermore the science of embryology, with the assistance of ultrasound and of other admirable technological means which are available, proved that the unborn baby is “certainly a new human being, a new member of human society, inseparable from each and every one of us in any way” (Dr Bernard Nathanson). Therefore, from the moment of conception, the violation of life at whatever stage is murder! As much as the killing of an adult or an adolescent is murder, so much so is the killing of a fetus by abortion at any stage of pregnancy. It is the cowardly murder of an innocent and completely unprotected human being, which has no possibility whatsoever to defend or protect itself.

Despite all these, the various human passions and especially sensuality, hard-heartedness, superficiality and indifference, very often lead to abortion as a “solution” of some “unwanted” or otherwise problematic pregnancy! Nevertheless, this is no solution. It is a manifestation of rage of the above-mentioned fathomless passions, which characterize the souls which are found outside the life of the Church and the fear of God.

I believe that this most beautiful Icon by the talented Iconographer Mr Costas Vrousgos, very clearly expresses all the Church wants to say to Her children about the dreadful subject, the indescribable calamity of abortion, the contemporary baby-killer Herod. The Iconographer’s ability to blend colours, being led by the Spirit of Truth, presents the causes of evil, the murderers of innocent babes, the sadness of the Life-giving Christ, the solution and need for repentance of the mother, the equally responsible and unloving father and perjurer murderer-doctor, and to anyone else associated with the crime. The testimonial cross of the unmarried mother who prefers the cost of social shame rather than the killing of her child. The blessing of the Christian family. The eternal prototype of the Mother of God, the all-honoured person of the breast-feeding Mother of the Blessed One. No other comment is needed”.


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Categories: Art and Architecture

The three friends

September 20, 2009 2 comments

(a parable from a church Saint)


A certain man had three friends. Two of these friends he loved very much. He would sacrifice everything for their friendship. He would stay up all night just to please them. He literally worshiped them. For the first friend he worked day and night. He had such great love for him that many a time he did not even take time to eat. He was also crazy about his second friend. When he opened his wallet one could see the photographs of this friend. When he met this friend he was jumping for joy. He loved to spend time with him. Along with these two friends he also had a third one. This friend he did not love very much. Now and then he would remember to visit him. Very seldom would he do something nice for him. His company was-almost always-the first two friends.

One day he received some bad news. He panicked. This matter cost him sleep. He would lie awake night after night from the agony. What caused all this? One night while sleeping he was awakened by a loud knock on his door. He got up and found a constable at the door serving him a summons. What is this? The man asked in disbelief. This is a piece of paper,” said the nighttime visitor, inviting you to attend a court hearing. You are a suspect.” “Me a suspect? What did I do?” He asked, full of fear. I do not know. All I know is that you are being accused of a great crime. I have no more information. Just sign the summons, I can’t wait any longer. I must visit quite a few others like you to bring them to court. So long and take care.

So the constable left the summons and walked back into the night. The suspected man was left behind, petrified. He broke out into a cold sweat. What would happen to him? A suspect! He must find some character witnesses immediately to help him prove his innocence and avoid being sentenced. But how could he find these people? “I have two good friend” he thought. “I love them so much. If they don’t help me now that I’m in trouble, when would they help me, thus proving their friendship? I must go find them at one.” So, first thing in the morning he decided to visit his two great friends.

After a little while he was knocking at the door of his first friend. He will so happy to see me he thought, while knocking. “My friend” he says “you know how much I cared for you all these years. You know how Much I sacrificed for you. You know how many nights I labored for you. So now I beg of you, this is the first time that I am asking you for a favor. In the name of our friendship, please come to the courtroom to tell the judge that I’m not guilty. Tell him I’m innocent. Please help me. Don’t you feel sorry for me? While saying these things, he was crying bitterly. His tears got worse when he saw that his friend was totally indifferent. “Listen to me” the friend said. “I realize that you loved me and did everything for me, but at this time I can’t come to court. I must go away on business. But, since I see that your clothes are in bad shape and full of holes, take this suit of clothes so you will at least be well dressed when you appear before the judge. “ A suit of clothes my friend?” said the suspected man. “I don’t need clothes. I want you. I want you to come personally to be my witness. Can’t you come? Don’t you remember all the time we had together, our great friendship…” His friend was as cold as ice. He proceeded to show him that he was no longer welcomed at his house and that the conversation was officially over. So the poor man leaves, only to run and find the second friend. He just knew that his friend would help him, and stand by him in this difficult time. He comes to the house of his second friend and knocks on the door. “Who is it?” his friend asked in a heavy voice. “It is your good friend. Open quickly. I have to tell you something very serious.” His friend opens the door. He is surprised at the condition of his visitor, and asks him, What happened to you? Why are you troubled? Why are you pale and crying? “Oh my friend, I’m in deep trouble. They are accusing me. Tomorrow I must be in court. I’m accused of a crime and if found guilty they will surely sentence me to death.” “What did you say? You are kidding! You are such a good person and they are accusing you.“No, it is not truth, I’m in danger. So I came to ask you to come along with me. You know how much love I’ve had for you over the years, so please come with me to testify on my behalf and prove my innocence. My other friend has deserted me. Don’t send me away empty handed. Please come…” “When do you want me to come?” “Tomorrow. “Oh, that is too bad, tomorrow I can’t, I”m very busy. The only thing that I can do is walk along with you until we get to the door of the courthouse. After that I have to leave. I can’t stay. I’m so sorry to see you in this shape, and I will be sad if you are found guilty. But I don’t know what to tell you, I just can’t come.” “I’m not looking for company to walk me to the courthouse, “said the poor man. “I’m looking for witnesses to support my case.” “I understand,” said his second friend, “but I simply can’t.”

So he decides to go. He was rather nervous and kept talking to himself. “I wonder how he will receive me? “ When he reached the home of his third friend, he knocked on the door half-heartedly. “Who is it?” a rather pleasant voice inquired from inside. “It is I,” answered the unexpected visitor in a trembling voice. “Open the door for me please. I’m in big trouble..” With much joy and politeness his friend answered the door. Welcome! Please come in. How are you? How is everything? You seem upset. What’s happening to you? Maybe I can help.” “My friend,” said the visitor with much embarrassment, “I’m ashamed to look at you. I know that I didn’t love you as much as my other two friends.” He went on to explain his plight.” Can you help me! I know that I am not worthy of your love and I would understand if you would say no. But…” “Nonsense!” his friend interrupted him. “Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid. We will face this thing together. I will not leave you, and I’m certain that I can convince them of your innocence. So don’t worry. Let’s go. You will see what I will say in court on your behalf…”

We can all imagine the feelings of the man in the parable. Where he least expected it he found understanding and love. His third friend come to his aid and was instrumental in proving his innocence. Even though this is not one of Jesus’ parables, nevertheless it is full of wisdom characteristic of the fullness of spirit possessed by our church saints.

So let us see what is the meaning behind the different people and details of this parable. The man of our story is everyman. You and I , all of us. We all have three friends. The one friend that people love and get tired for is money. They work hard to have a lot of money. Many times they don’t go to church on Sundays to make more money. They work overtime, even at night. They steal, lie, and cheat to make money fast. The second friend that people love a lot are relatives. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sister, uncles, and acquaintances. The third friend we will reveal a little later. Everyman will one day hear a knock at the door of his soul. An unearthly visitor will come knocking and calling to bring a notice. This visitor is death. None of us will be able to escape death. He will come calling one day, unexpectedly. Maybe when we are young, maybe when we get older. One thing is for certain. Sooner or later death will be calling us to appear in God’s court as defendants. Who will the first friend do? He was giving the man a suit of clothing. This friend, as we said earlier is wealth. No matter what you have, you only take you a suit of clothes to be buried in. The second friend? He walked the defendant to the court and then left. This friend is our relative. No matter how much our relatives love us and vice versa, they will only follow us to the cemetery. They will leave there and they will return to their everyday lives and soon forget us. Let’s look at the third friend. Who is he? The good deeds. The good deeds that we did while alive. They will travel with us to the other life and the will come to our rescue at the Judgment seat of God.

Let’s not let a day go by without giving the opportunity to the angel to record some good deed in our book of Life.

Source: here

Categories: Homilies

The Virgin Mary’s parents

September 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Apolytikion in the Second Tone

As we celebrate the memory of Thy righteous ancestors, O Lord, through them we beseech Thee to save our souls.

St. Anna, the mother of the Theotokos, was the wife of St. Joachim and the daughter of Mattham, a Levi priest. Anna and Joachim were married and childless for about 50 years. This saddened them, and they vowed that should the Lord bless them with a child they would dedicate it to Him. Hoping their prayers would be answered, they brought gifts to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem on the yearly Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) and Feast of Lights (c.f. Macc 4:52-59; 2 Macc 10:5).

The priests, however, did not wish to accept them, since they were from a childless man, and Joachim was scorned (c.f. St. Romanos the Melodist, c.490-556). Publicly humiliated he soon remembered that Abraham whom God gave a son in his old age. He then retired to the wilderness to pray, were the Archangel Gabriel told him that his prayers have been heard, and that Anna will give birth to a daughter who shall be called Mary.

The Archangel also reminded Joachim that, “according to your vow, she (Mary) shall be devoted to the Lord from her infancy, and she shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from her mother’s womb. Mary shall not eat or drink anything unclean, nor shall her conversation or life be among the crowds of the people, but in the temple of the Lord, that it may not be possible to say, or so much as to suspect, any evil concerning her”.

Again, St. Romanos chants, “Joachim on the mountain prayed to receive fruit from the womb of Anna; and the prayer of the holy man was received”.

Anna, meanwhile, went home to her garden weeping bitterly. She sat under a laurel tree and prayed,O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as You opened the womb of Sarah and gave her a son Isaac”. She wept asking, “Alas, who begot me? And what womb did bear me, that I should be thus accursed before the children of Israel, and that they should reproach and deride me in the temple of my God? Woe is me, to what can I be compared? I am not like the fowls of the heaven, because even the fowls of the heaven are productive before You, O Lord. Alas! to what can I be compared? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth are fruitful before You, O Lord Woe is me, to what can I be compared? I am not comparable to the waves of the sea; for these, whether they are calm, or in motion, with the fishes which are in them, praise You, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like this earth because even the earth brings forth its fruit in season and blessed You, O Lord”.

The same Archangel appeared to Anna and told her, “I am the angel who has presented your prayers and alms before God; and now I have been sent to you to announce that you shall bring forth a daughter, who shall be called Mary, and who shall be blessed above all women. She shall be full of the favour of the Lord, even from her birth. She shall remain in her father’s house until she is weaned and, thereafter, she shall be delivered to the service of the Lord. She shall serve God, day and night, in fasting and prayers. She shall abstain from every unclean thing and shall not depart from the temple until she shall reach the years of discretion. She shall never know man, but alone and without precedent, as an immaculate and undefiled virgin, without intercourse with man, she shall bring forth a Son. She, His handmaiden, shall bring forth the Lord, both in grace, and in name, and in work, the Saviour of the world”.

Gabriel then said, “arise, therefore, and go up to Jerusalem; and when you arrive at the gate that, because it is plated with gold, is called ‘Golden’, there, for a sign, you shall meet your husband, for whose safety you have been anxious. When, therefore, you find these things accomplished, believe that all the rest which I have told you shall also undoubtedly be accomplished”.

On this occasion St. Romanos chants, “the prayer and groaning of Joachim and Anna at their barrenness and childlessness have proved acceptable, and have come unto the ears of the Lord; and they have put forth fruit that brings life to the world. The one offered his prayer in the mountain, the other bore her reproach in the garden. But with joy the barren bears the Theotokos who sustains our life”.

On the following day, Joachim brought his offerings into the temple, worshipped the Lord, and then returned home. There was great joy and celebration when it was heard that Anna conceived.

When Mary was three years old, her parents, after offering up their sacrifice, left her to be brought up with the other maidens in the apartments of the temple. For the next seven years, Anna and Joachim visited Mary often until they reposed, leaving her an orphan.

The Orthodox Church commemorates the Virgin Mary’s parents  on the 9th of September.

Elder Paisios on Sts. Joachim and Anna

“-Elder, tell us about St. Joachim and St. Anna, the Ancestors of God. At one point you started to tell us something.

-From a young age I had great reverence towards the Ancestors of God. Indeed, I had said to someone that, when they make me a monk, I would want them to give me the name Joachim. How much I am indebted to them! Sts. Joachim and Anna are the most dispassionate (in other words without corrupting passions) couple which ever existed. They did not have any carnal attitude.

This is how God made man and this is how he wanted men to be born, dispassionately. But after the fall passion entered the relationship between man and woman. As soon as a dispassionate couple was found, as God created man and as he wished men to be born, the Panagia was born, this pure creation, and then Christ became incarnate. My thoughts tell me that Christ would have descended earlier to earth, if there were a pure pair, such as were Sts. Joachim and Anna.

The Roman Catholics fall into error and believe, supposedly from piety, that Panagia was born without original sin. While Panagia was not free from original sin, she gave birth however as God wished to be born to men after creation. She was all-pure(1), because Her conception occurred without pleasure. The Holy Ancestors of God, after fervent prayer to God to grant them a child, conceived not by sexual lust, but by obedience to God. This fact I had experienced on Sinai. (2)

(1) The Theotokos was born according to a natural manner and not virginally. “She was all-pure”, because as St. John of Damascus writes in his homily “On the Birth of our Most-Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary”, she was conceived “chastely” but increased with her struggle the holiness given to her from her parents, warding off all unnecessary and soul-endangering thoughts before experiencing them.”

(2) The Elder lived in asceticism on Sinai, at Sts. Episteme and Galaction, from 1962 to 1964. This occurance he did not reveal to us.”

(Source: Elder Paisios the Athonite, Book IV: Family Life, Holy Hesychasterion of “St. John the Evangelist the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki 2007;)


Categories: Lives of Saints