Τετάρτη, 19 Οκτωβρίου 2016

The Holy Baptism and its effect on people who come to join the Orthodox Christian Church...

"Who is so great a god as our God?"
† PANTELEIMON of Brazzaville and Gabon

Before the beginning of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, that is to say, the integration of the new Church member into Her bosom, comes the service of catechesis with the reading of exorcisms, the renunciation and condemnation of Satan from the catechumen and the acceptance and confession of our Lord Jesus Christ as the One and Only God. Even from the early Christian years, as we can see in texts of the Holy Fathers, the catechumen had to leave behind his old erratic religion and renounce Satan consciously so that he could proceed to the Sacrament of Holy Baptism in Spirit and Truth.
Personally speaking, I had to come to the African equator, a place not purely Christian, in order to see things “in practice”. I had to go to places which either had never heard of Christ before, or if they had, they had heard, seen and lived everything through the prism of heresies and the schism. Now that the Church bells ring the Orthodox way, they give a warm and joyful welcome to the blessed Gospel seeds in this land, announcing the way that leads to Unity, the way that leads to the Truth of the One, Holy and Undivided Trinity.

Those who are out of Church belong to themselves. Those who are conscious members of Hers, belong to Christ. The Fathers say that the one who is in despair is under the power of Satan. So is the person who denies Christ and is not in communion with Him and His Holy Church except with himself. Here in Africa, those who cooperate with Satan through the relevant occult rituals, always move around their “ego”, always have speculations and ulterior motives, they only care about their own interest and always seek something for themselves whether that be wealth, social status or prestige, or whether they are driven by envy, jealousy or hatred for the other, his life or his progress. It is not accidental the fact that the sorcerers enjoy a lot of recognition in such societies, a recognition which has its roots in the inmost fear for the “powerful spirit” which only inflicts harm, even to those who are empowered to invoke it and are in virtual communion with it!

Orthodox Holy Liturgy in Mpaka, Pointe-Noire (from here)

Our brothers who come to Holy Baptism more or less know all these things that I mentioned before. They are well aware of the need for supremacy, the meaning of isolation or stepping on one another, or even cooperating with the devil. And this is so because a number of them, if not the majority, have had this sort of experiences without ever finding joy, hope or serenity in their life, as they themselves admit.  Therefore, the renunciation of Satan before Baptism becomes a decisive act for the life of the African catechumen which will be sealed in Christ with the Grace of the Most Holy Spirit during the baptismal service. As workers of the Lord who conduct the sacred mystery of Baptism in Africa, each one of us has had experiences to remember of demons trembling at the sign of the Cross! All of us have had experiences of newly-illumined brothers, who at the sight of the sanctified water of Baptism changed their behavior and were turned into wild animals only to calm down later on when immersing into the same sanctified water that a while ago made the demons tremble with fear.

I had such an experience myself a short time ago with a young woman who had had a smiling face until the part of catechesis was over but who started feeling uncomfortable from then on. And this turned into body convulsions, inarticulate screams and a fall to the ground at the sight of the sanctified water, before the triple immersion. Invoking wholeheartedly our Benevolent God and begging for His mercy and power, I insisted on the poor woman’s entering the holy baptistery. 
 “The servant of God … is baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. And it was then that the convulsions stopped and serenity returned to her face! When at the end of the holy mystery I asked that educated noblewoman to testify before everyone present what she had experienced a few minutes before, she boldly said that she had felt losing herself into utter darkness before immersing into the holy water, whereas when immersed into it, she felt “redemption from invisible ties”, as she mentioned word for word.
Satan rests where Christ is forgotten, where love is left aside. The societies that are ministered to by humble missionary laborers of the Gospel of Christ have had thousands of victims over the centuries, such as victims of witchcraft and sorcery, superstition, slavery, ignorance, illiteracy, war, the western civilization…In every case the victims suffered from those powers which are against anything God-driven, blessed or creative, anything that promotes spiritual development.  And it is indeed a miracle of the Triune God the sowing of the Word in a land barren of love over the centuries, a true love, which springs from the empty Holy Sepulcher of the Resurrected Jesus.
Lifting up my eyes to the Crucifix, the One who stretched out His holy arms on the Tree of Life and joined the unreconciled things of this world bringing unity, I pray that He leads our brothers of this ecclesiastical province into the common doxology of our Church “with one mouth and one heart”, so that joined in one faith and in true love with all the Orthodox Christians all over the world, they magnify His Most Holy Name and live within the everlasting Light of His Grace.

Please, see also

Orthodox Republic of Congo (tag)
Witchcraft (tag) 

Δευτέρα, 17 Οκτωβρίου 2016

The Patriarch of Alexandria & all-Africa in Mwanza, Tanzania: One journey has ended, one hope has risen!...

On 14th October, the seventh and final day of his journey to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, the Alexandrian Primate Theodoros II, had the joy of meeting with the clergy of the Holy Metropolis at a ...

Continuing the sixth day of his journey to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, on 13th October His Beatitude, accompanied by local Metropolitan Ieronymos, went to the city of RUBALE – KAGERA to ...

During his Pastoral visit to Tanzania, particularly to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, received a very pleasant ...

On 11th October, fourth day of the Pastoral visit by the Alexandrian Primate to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza, His Beatitude, accompanied by local Metropolitan Ieronymos and the Greek Parliamentarian ...



On the 10th October 2016, the third day of the Pastoral visit by the Alexandrian Primate to the Holy Metropolis of Mwanza,His Beatitude, accompanied by the local Metropolitan Ieronymos and the Greek ...

Please, see also:

Σάββατο, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2016

A Story to Make Your Day...

by Sara Staff (Posted 9/30/2016)

Earlier this year, His Grace Bishop Neofitos of Nyeri and Mount Kenya visited St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia. He had the opportunity to speak with the youth at St. Katherine’s about children in Kenya. He explained that many are very poor and do not even have shoes or a bed.
After hearing this story, Lena, age 5, and Mia, age 4, were inspired to raise money for this initiative. They decided to open a lemonade stand and donate all of the funds. They told everyone who came to the lemonade stand all about the children in Kenya and were able to raise $52.00!
What a sweet story about how the work of missions can be accomplished by anyone, even the smallest of God’s children. Thank you, Lena and Mia, for your service for missions, and thank you for sharing your story with OCMC!
May it remind us all to have a heart for missions and for the work of the Church.

Bishop Neofitos
See also 

Kanisa la Orthodox nchini Kenya, Kanisa ya kale ya Yesu Kristo
An Orthodox Christian parish in Turkana desert
Orthodox Christian dialogue with Banyore culture
Hope for the Kikuyu (Kenya) / "The caves along the Tana River became the refuge for freedom fighters..."

Orthodox Kenya (tag) 
African Orthodox Church of Kenya / Facebook

Πέμπτη, 13 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Evêques africains de l'Eglise orthodoxe

L'évêque de Neilopolis Christopher ainsi que d'autres grands missionnaires orthodoxes en Afrique sub-saharienne. Leurs noms ici.

En Afrique, il y a beaucoup de groupes chrétiens qui se disent "Eglises orthodoxes". La plupart sont âgés de quelques années ou quelques décennies. Mais, il a seulement une, véritable Eglise orthodoxe qui a été fondée par Jésus-Christ. C`est l'Eglise du Patriarcat d'Alexandrie, qui existe depuis 2000 ans sans interruption. Tous les anciens saints et martyrs chrétiens africains appartiennent à cette Eglise.
Certains chrétiens des africains "Eglises orthodoxes" la découvrent et se lient à elle, comme cela est arrivé en Ouganda, au Ghana et en Afrique du Sud.
Ici, nous allons parler de quelques évêques africains contemporains de l'Eglise orthodoxe du Patriarcat d'Alexandrie.
Voir plus ici et (en anglais) ici:

Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
Natives Africans bishops in the Orthodox Church


L'évêque de Neilopolis Christopher (Spartas Mukasa Reuben), le premier chrétien orthodoxe, chercheur de la vérité du Christ et grand missionnaire en Ouganda. Il a été emprisonné par le régime colonial en raison de la lutte pour le peuple de son pays natal.


L'évêque de l'Ouganda Theodore (Nankyama). Photo d'ici.

L'évêque de l'Ouganda Theodore (Nankyama), au numéro 6, avec quelques-uns des premiers chrétiens orthodoxes de l'Ouganda. Photographie et leurs noms ici.


George (Gathuna), du Kenya, évêque de Nitrie. Il a été emprisonné pendant 10 ans par le régime colonial au Kenya en raison de la son lutte pour l'indépendance de son pays. Voir plus ici.


Le archevêque Jonah (Lwanga) de l'Ouganda. Voir plus ici: The Orthodox Church in Uganda, an outgrowth of indigenous self discovery.


Le Métropolite de Mwanza (Tanzanie) Jerome. Orthodoxes chrétiens Mariages en Tanzanie.
Photo d'ici. Voir plus ici.

 Le Métropolite de Mwanza Jerome.



L'évêque Innocentios du Burundi et Rwanda. Photo d'ici et ici.


 L'évêque de la Nyeri et de l'Est de la Kenya Neophytos Kongai. Photo d'ici: How “White” is the Orthodox Church?.

L'évêque Neophytos. Photo d'ici.

L'évêque de Kisumu et de l'Ouest du Kenya Athanasius Akunda. La photo à partir d'ici.

L'évêque Athanasius. Photo d'ici.

Voir aussi: Eglise orthodoxe au Kenya: «Le message de l’orthodoxie est intemporel et dépasse les tribus et les langues»


Voir aussi: Métropolitain Narcissus du Ghana. Originaire de Jordanie. Photo d'ici (Soudan).

Voir aussi

Gregorios, Métropolite du Cameroun: «Dans deux ou trois siècles, le foi orthodoxe en Afrique aura sûrement sa propre identité», «Les tribus locales ont constaté que nous n’étions pas simplement une Église de colons»
Église orthodoxe et la culture africaine: belle vidéo du Cameroun
Eglise Orthodoxe
Église orthodoxe en Afrique

Héritage orthodoxe
Église orthodoxe Pères, la richesse et le capitalisme

Τετάρτη, 12 Οκτωβρίου 2016

A girl who was tortured for three months!

Holy Neomartyr Chryse as a Model for our Lives 

Holy New Martyr Chryse (Feast Day - October 13)
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

One of the brightest pages in the golden book of Martyrs was written by the Neomartyrs, who were martyred during the dark period of Ottoman rule, which they illuminated and brightened with the confession of their faith and their blood.

In the pages of the New Martyrology authored by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite we are presented with numerous Neomartyrs. Among them a prominent position is given to a young daughter from the area of central Macedonia, namely the village Chryse which is in the province of Almopia of the prefecture of Pella, whose name was Chryse. She was truly Golden (Chryse) in both her name and deeds. She was tested as "gold in a furnace" and found to be with faith that was twenty-four carat gold. Bathed in her martyric blood, she was cleansed and brightened to be accepted by the Giver of heavenly goods as a "whole burnt offering".

Her exterior life was simple, and she was also simple in her behavior and ways. She was a villager of little education, but wise according to God with a living faith, inner purity and amazing stability. Born to poor parents, they were honorable strugglers of life, and she was a hard worker together with her three sisters. Chryse was very beautiful on the outside, which at that time was an unfortunate thing for the enslaved Greeks, because beautiful girls were captured by the Agas for their harems, or they were pressured to change their faith to Islam to marry them. The latter happened to Saint Chryse. While gathering firewood on the mountain with her fellow villagers, a Turk was dazzled by her beauty. He captured her and then tried in every which way to convince her to change her faith and marry him. 
Seeing that it was unlikely he would achieve his purpose, he sent some trusted Turkish women to speak with her, since women know how to talk better to one another, in the hopes that they could change her mind. When he failed to change her mind in this manner, he was forced to threaten her parents and sisters to visit her and persuade her. With tears and lamentations they urged her to change her faith externally to save herself, while internally she could continue to remain a Christian. But the great soul of Chryse responded: "I have my Lord Jesus Christ as my father, the Lady Theotokos as my mother, and the Saints of our Church as my brothers and sisters", and then she sent them away. Before the stability of Chryse the Turks responded with horrible tortures. Finally on 13 October 1795, they cut her body into pieces with a knife and in this way the most worthy one received the crown of martyrdom from the Bridegroom Christ.

Perhaps her spiritual ripeness, wisdom, firm commitment to the faith of her Fathers and her refusal to marry someone of another faith, as well as her behavior towards her parents, which, as we shall see below, the great Hagiorite Saint Nikodemos comments on and praises, makes an impression. Let us analyze, then, these two things.

First, she refused to marry someone of another faith, when he asked of her to deny her faith and traditions with which she was nurtured and was raised. She was not enticed with riches and indulgence, nor daunted by intimidation, threats and inhuman torture. She was a young girl with a future and dreams in life. When forced to betray any honor she had, her holy faith, the living tradition, even her very life, she prefered martyrdom. It was impossible for her to live as if dead, which is why she died that she may live. This is because life is not a biological existence, but communion with the Creator and the Source of life, the Triune God. Whoever has come to know God within the limits of their personal life and tasted life-creating divine Grace, counts death as nothing. They consider death to be their separation from God. When the Grace of God encompasses the soul and body, then a person will not deny their faith for any reason and considers martyrdom as a God-sent gift. When, however, the soul has not tasted Grace, this "living water", then they are dominated by the passions and an evil spirit, which through the passions dominate the will of man. The greatest passions are those of sensuality, avarice and ambition, and on their altar are sacrificed, many times without even the slightest hesitation, every sacred and holy thing.

Second, the response she gave to her parents and siblings match the words of Christ, when He spoke of His mother and siblings, saying: "My friends and siblings are those who do the will of My heavenly Father." Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, commenting on the action of the martyr to dismiss her parents and siblings, as well as her wise words, says: "Bravo to her brave great soul! Bravo to her true love for God! Bravo to her wise intellect, which is worthy of heavenly praise! In truth, brethren, what the divine David said was fulfilled in this Saint: 'Father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord has received me' (Ps. 26:10), and that which the Lord said: "Think not that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword: to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and ones enemies will be found in their own household" (Matt. 10:34).

The inner freedom, stability in faith, and selfless and valiant spirit of the Virgin-Martyr in the evil days such as we are living in, in which hypocrisy, selfishness, fickleness, and spiritual enslavement to the dictatorship of the passions reigns, is for all of us a bright beacon and shining example for imitation.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Η ΝΕΟΜΑΡΤΥΣ ΧΡΥΣΗ", October 1999. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Women Saints Who Suffered Under Islam
Apostle Paul, the Christian equivalent to Mohammed
The Penalties for Apostasy in Islam  
Traditionalist View on Sex Slavery in Islam   

Early Muslim conquests & Rashidun Caliphate
About slavery in Mauritania today
The Orthodox Christian sentiment regarding the persecutions of Christians by Islamists
From Islam to Christianity: To our brethren who converted from Islam to Protestantism or Roman Catholicism
From Islam to Christianity: Saints in the Way to the Lihgt

St. Symeon the New Theologian's First Vision of Uncreated Glory

The vision of the young St. Symeon the New Theologian of God's uncreated light at the age of twenty is one of the most misunderstood Patristic passages that has been used to justify many false visions. Many times ordinary people have revealed to me stories of personal visions of light that anyone with even a small amount of discernment can recognize either as psychological or demonic in origin. I have also entered into debates and discussions with Orthodox theologians regarding visions of God's light received by non-Orthodox, such as the mystics of the West or Buddhists of the East. In almost all cases the vision of St. Symeon at the age of twenty is used to justify their emotion-filled arguments for the validity and divine origin of these visions. Their argument, though misinformed, is simple: Symeon saw God's uncreated light then fell into sin, so if Symeon can have such a vision then why can't anyone (including non-Orthodox)? They also argue against the need for purification and illumination to take place before such a vision can be granted. Are such interpretations justified?

It has become clear to me that of the many who have tried to use the above emotion-filled justifications have hardly or even never read the works of St. Symeon. The account in which he describes his vision at the age of twenty is described in his homily On Faith. The event St. Symeon describes is written in the third person in which he uses the pseudonym "George" to describe his actual experience. When he was fourteen he had approached his spiritual father Symeon the Elder to enter the monastic life, but considering the young Symeon immature at the time he rejected his entrance and told him to live a monastic sort of life in the world until he was mature enough - which didn't happen until he was twenty-seven. Thus seven years prior to his entering the monastic path did he have his vision.

From the age of fourteen until twenty St. Symeon strove to imitate that which he read in the writings of St. Mark the Ascetic. His day job was managing a patrician's household in Constantinople and engaged in the worldly affairs of the palace. But at night he would keep vigil and pray with tears and do as many prostrations as his conscience told him to do so that, at the advice of St. Mark, he never slept until his conscience was satisfied. He describes himself as regarding "all material things of life with indifference and even approached food and drink without taking pleasure in them or doing so with frequency." He says that he never observed long fasts beyond the prescribed fasts of the Church, he never slept on the ground, wear a hair shirt, or was tonsured a monk. Yet he had faith and actualized it in the world, as he says in his discourse: "By these deeds his faith received wings and reached heaven."

It was in this context that one night, while praying "God have mercy on me a sinner" with his mind, that "suddenly a flood of divine radiance appeared from above and filled all the room." He describes the vision as "nothing but light all around" him, to the point where he thought he was falling because even the ground was filled with light. "Oblivious of all the world he was filled with tears and ineffable joy and gladness." However St. Symeon goes on to describe that above him in the heavens there appeared another more clear light that was surrounding his spiritual father Symeon the Elder.

Following this vision, Symeon continued about his daily business affairs in the palace. This is something he would come to regret however. He writes:

"What we have related about this young man is amazing and unexpected, and we have never heard that anything like it has happened to anyone else. Even though it may have happened in some cases or will happen in the future, yet men should know that they will be deprived of so great a blessing unless they promptly withdraw from the world, or they will soon lose what they have received."

And by this Symeon reveals the reason for relating this story: that when one has been purified and illumined one must withdraw from the world completely to maintain the grace within. Symeon basically goes on to say that he received this vision of his spiritual father in uncreated glory because, through the prayer of Symeon the Elder, Christ was calling him to a monastic life and to the emulation of his elder. Young Symeon did not do this but remained in the world and Satan came out strongly against him to prevent his withdrawal to a monastery. He fell into despair as a result of his disobedience. It was only through the guidance and prayers of his spiritual father that he was able to free himself of his despair and recover. It was only until he completely renounced the world and repented with extreme ascetic feats after many years that he got a glimpse of what he had seen earlier, though Symeon is writing in the third person so we don't know how humble he was being at this point.

When we thus examine what St. Symeon says in his own words and in proper context, it is extremely far-reaching for Orthodox to use this example as a justification for the vision of uncreated glory of the non-Orthodox or even themselves outside of the context of purification and illumination within the Orthodox tradition. So when Symeon says that he lived a worldly life, he does not mean that he lived a sinful life in the world but that he maintained a busy occupation in the world while living faithful to God's commandments. And his post-vision despair is only the result of not being obedient to his monastic calling at the right time. This does not take away the fact that Symeon was living an ascetical life in the world, molding his faith by his works, and attaining a state of inner purification so as to be found worthy of the vision of divine glory. And it was not until after much effort for his disobedience to his heavenly calling that he was able to recover that which he lost. As St. Symeon
explains in the same homily following the description of his vision by quoting St. Gregory the Theologian:

"Gregory the Theologian said: 'It is written, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). For where there is fear there is the keeping of the commandments. Where there is the keeping of the commandments, there is the purification of the flesh, and from the cloud that besets the soul and prevents it from clearly seeing God's ray of light. Where there is purification there is illumination. Illumination is the fulfillment of those who desire either the greatest of all supremely great things, or even that which is above all greatness.' By this saying he showed that illumination of the Spirit is the goal of every virtue. He who attains to this illumination has arrived at the end and limit of all things that can be perceived and has found the beginning of the knowledge of spiritual things."

Interestingly this is all very similar to the vision of Saul on his way to Damascus before he was baptized Paul and made into an Apostle. Saul was a persecutor of the Church, yet beheld the resurrected Lord of glory. However, as a persecutor and being outside the Church, this vision was not the result of being found worthy due to his inner purification. Instead this vision of divine glory was like hell fire to him and it blinded him for his unworthiness. He was commanded to be baptized to receive his sight, and by baptism he was purified and illumined which he actualized by going into the desert for two years to study and pray. And by his obedience he progressed from glory to glory, whereas Symeon initially was disobedient and prevented from doing so until he repented.
Please, see also: