Posts Tagged ‘holy spirit’

Testament of a great saint – Testament of Saint John of Rila – Spiritual guidance for people from last ages

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Reading Time: 16minutes

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[1.] I, John, the humble and sinful, who has never done anything good on earth, when I came into this wilderness of Rila, I found no man over here, but only wild animals and impenetrable thickets. I settled alone in it among the wild animals, without food nor shelter, but the sky was my shelter and the earth my bed and the herbs my food. But the good Lord, for the love of whom I disregarded everything and endured hunger and thirst, frost, the heat of the sun, and corporal nakedness, did not abandon me, but like a merciful and child-loving father he lavishly satisfied all my needs. What shall I contribute to the Lord for all he has given me? Many are his benefactions to me, for he looked from his holy height at my humbleness (cf. Luke 1:48) and lent his support to me to go through everything—not I, but the might of Christ, which is in me—because every good gift and every perfect gift is from him (James 1:17).

[2.] Seeing you today gathered together in the Lord here, where, as I told you, no man has dwelled until now, but only wild animals, and foreseeing that the end of my life here is soon coming on, because of this I made up my mind, before my departure (II Tim. 4:6) from life here, to leave you the present fatherly testament of mine, just as carnal fathers leave their children an earthly inheritance of silver and gold and other property, so that when you commemorate your father in the Holy Spirit, you do not forget his testament.

[3.] I know, my beloved children in God, I know you very well, that you, being beginners, are not confirmed yet in the monk’s life, but fear not, for the Lord’s "power is made perfect in weakness" (II Cor. 12:9). Just because of this I made up my mind to write for you this rough and ignorant testament of mine, so that you will keep it always in your minds to become stronger in body and soul, in the Lord, and go forward through the virtues in fear of God. Because I believe in my God, whom I have served since my youth and to whom I submitted zealously, after my departure, this wilderness, which until now was terrible and uninhabited, will be inhabited by a multitude of desert-citizens. What was written about it will be fulfilled: "The desolate hath many more children than she which hath a husband" (Is. 54:1; Gal. 4:27).

Св. Йоан Рилски. Стенопис от XIV в. в църквата на Земенския манастир.[4.] Because of this I beg you, my children, whom I have gathered in the Lord, I beg of you, my flesh and blood, do not neglect your father’s admonition and together with the apostle I say: “I am in travail again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). I beg you and make you swear on the dread name of God not to violate or abandon anything after my death, but everything I have written let be carried out, as it is written and as you have promised before God. Whosoever oversteps or violates something of it, let him be damned and separated from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, to have no share with the saints, who were pleasing to God ages ago, but let his share be with those who had crucified the Lord of Glory (Acts 7:2) and with his betrayer Judas, to be erased from “the book of life” (Phil. 4:3) and not to be inscribed [in it] with the righteous.

[5.] First of all, I bequeath to you the obligation to preserve the holy faith immaculate and unaffected by any false teaching, just as we received it from the holy fathers, without "being led away with diverse and strange teachings" (Heb. 13:9). Hold fast and keep the traditions you have heard and seen from me. Do not deviate either to the right, or to the left, but walk along the royal road. Keep yourselves carefully away from worldly fascinations and always remember why you have come out of the world, and why you have despised it and worldly things.

[6.] Now again, keep yourselves away from the avaricious snake, “for the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Tim. 6:10), according to the apostle, who calls it a second idolatry. Because for the hermit wealth consists not in silver and gold,5 but in perfect poverty, in the denial of his personal will, and in lofty humbleness. I am not telling you this as my commandments, but [I am] recalling for you the commandments of Christ. For he told his holy disciples and through them everybody who had renounced the world: "Take no gold, nor silver, nor a bag, nor copper in your belts" (Matt. 10:9) and so on. For gold and silver are great enemies of the monk and bite those who have them like a snake.

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[7.] If we, however, have undoubted hope in God, he will not leave us deprived of anything, for he himself says: “A woman may forget her children, yet will I not forget thee” (Is. 49:15). Also in another place: “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matt. 6:33). For in the beginning, when I came to this wilderness, the sly enemy attempted to allure me, for the pious king sent to me a lot of gold.6 For the sake of God I refused to see him, for I understood that it was a perfidy of the devil. I did not accept it, but returned it to those who sent it, for I thought to myself: “If I wished to have gold and silver, and suchlike things, why came I into this terrible and impenetrable wilderness, where I found no man, but wild animals?” So I saved myself from the intrigues of the sly tempter, who endeavors to trip us up in those things, which we renounced willfully. That is why you are not to look for any of these things, “for your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matt. 6:32) before your prayer [is offered].
 

[8.] Nor look to be recognized and beloved by earthly kings and princes, nor put your hope in them, leaving the heavenly King, with whom you enlisted to be soldiers and "wrestle not against flesh and blood," but "against the ruler of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12). For the prophet Jeremiah also threatens us speaking so: "Cursed be the man that hopeth in man" and the rest. Enumerating the evils, he adds that "blessed is the man that hopeth in the Lord" (Jer. 17:5-8). Do not say: "What shall we eat, or drink, or in what shall we be dressed?" for the gentiles seek after these things. "Look at the birds of the air: for they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matt. 6:26). As soon as you have come out of the world, do not go back, neither with your body, nor with your mind, for, as it is said, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven" (Luke 9:62).

[9.] The Apostle [Paul] too, however, teaches us to "forget what lies behind and strain froward to what lies ahead" (Phil. 3:13). What does "forgetting those things which are behind" mean, my children? Nothing else except to deliver to oblivion all those things which, coming out of the world for God’s sake, we have left and despised, and to strive towards the feat which lies before us, to which we were called by our taskmaster, our most gracious God and Lord Jesus Christ, who has enabled us to endure his gentle yoke, "For his yoke is easy, and his burden is light" (Matt. 11:30).

[10.] As the grace of the Holy Spirit brought you together, so must you endeavor to live with one heart and one mind and one spirit, directing your eyes only towards the eternal reward, which God has prepared for those who have loved him. The communal life is in every way more useful for monks than the solitary one, for solitude is not suitable for the many, but only for a few who are perfect in all monastic virtues. The common life, on the other hand, is useful in general for everybody, about which the patristic books tell us and teach us sufficiently. The spirit-speaking prophet David glorified it saying: "See now what is so good and so pleasant as for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Ps. 133:1). In addition to this, one spirit-moved ecclesiastical hymn writes in this way: "Because in this the Lord promised eternal life." But also our good Master Lord God Jesus Christ, does he not say to us himself, by his immaculate lips: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them"? (Matt. 18:20). Our God-bearing fathers say for the solitary life: "Woe to him that is alone when he falls; and there is not a second to lift him up" (Eccl. 4:10).

[11.] That is why, children, as the Holy Spirit through the mouth of the prophet glorifies the communal life, do you not neglect it either, but on the contrary, confirm it and be like "one body in the Lord" (Rom. 12:5), which has different members. Some of them form, however, the head which governs, others the feet which toil and bear, so that there is formed from all a single spiritual body in the Lord, created with a single mind and logical spirit, and directed by spiritual reasoning, in no wise having divisions. When such a dwelling and life in God is arranged, then he himself will be in the midst of you, governing you invisibly.

[12.] Do not seek the first place and authority, but remember those who have said: "If one would be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all" (Mark 9:35). Elect for yourselves preceptors and appoint superiors, whom God will show you, that is, men "of good report" (Acts 10:22) among everybody in spiritual matters and surpassing everybody in intelligence and spiritual discernment, and able to pasture well and comfortably the flock entrusted to them down the meadows of piety and of the life-giving commands of Christ. For these men it is proper to seek confirmation more from God than from our opinion.

      7. According to Goshev, "Zavetât," pp. 449–61, this author’s Parainesis had been available in a Slavonic translation since the reign of Symeon (893–927).
 

[13.] If, as our great father and monastic preceptor, the reverend Ephraem Syrus says,7 all of you begin to desire authority and presidencies, and all of you to be abbots, and all of you preceptors, and interpreters, and teachers, and among you spring up rivalries, quarrels, disputes, zealousness, calumnies, haughtinesses, envy and other passions indecorous for monks, then certainly be aware that Christ is not among you, for Christ is not the teacher of discord and dissent, but of peace and unity. For he prays to God the father for his holy disciples to be united, that is, of one mind—they themselves and everybody who believes in him through them, and says as follows: "Holy Father, keep them in thy name that they may be one, as we are" (John 17:11). In another place: "I do not pray for them only but also for those who believe in me through their word that all may be one" (John 17:20–21). If you will be one, be at peace one with another. For he said to his disciples, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you." (John 14: 27) For such is this peace of Christ, children, that again he speaks, saying, "Not as the world gives, do I give to you" (John 14:27). But this peace of Christ surpasses every mind. This is the peace, about which the prophet talks: "And his peace has no bounds." But also the apostle teaches us saying: "Strive for peace with all men and for the holiness, without which no man shall see God" (Heb. 12:14). May you have such a peace, now, among you, and let you arrange everything for God with great unity of mind and heart, so as not to enrage your own God and master.

[14.] If somebody is found among you who sows weeds, discords and other temptations, you have to eliminate at once such a man from your assembly, so that this will not be transfigured into a devouring canker, according to the apostle, and not to spread the evil among the good ones, and “lest any root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble by it, and the many be defiled” (Heb. 12:5); and the wicked wolf not trouble the peaceful flock of Christ, because this sort [of men] will appear. For of them Christ prophesies saying: "For it is necessary that temptations come; but woe to the world for temptations to sin!" (Matt. 16:7). For this and you, children, keep away from these things and do not allow them to live among you, but divert them away from yourselves as the shepherd chases away the scabby sheep from the pure flock.

[15.] Living together for the Lord’s sake and bearing the burdens of one another, do not neglect those who live in solitude and "wandering over deserts and in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth, of whom the world was not worthy" (Heb. 11:38), but supply them as much as you can, in order to hold them as your petitioners before God, for the prayer of the pious may achieve much.

      8. For the translation of some of the late antique classics of ascetic literature into Slavonic, see Dujcev, "Réforme," p. 262.
 

[16.] Instruct yourselves in the Lord’s law day and night (Ps. 1:2). Read often the patristic books and try to be imitators of our holy fathers Antony, Theodosios and the others, who shone like lamps in the world with their good deeds.8 Hold firmly to the church rule, leaving or neglecting nothing of this, which is established by the holy fathers.

[17.] Manual labor must not be neglected by you, however, but work must be in your hands, and the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” must be permanently on your lips, as well as the memory of death in your mind. This was the practice of the ancient desert fathers. They did not eat their bread in vain, and they not only lived themselves by labor of their own hands, but they gave to the needy too, and so they were not disappointed in their hope. “For,” says the apostle [Paul], "it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace; not with foods which have not benefited their adherents" (Heb. 13:9). He says too: "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb. 13:1–2).

[18.] Establish the newly enlightened from your own race in the faith and instruct them to abandon the indecent pagan rites and the evil customs which they keep even after the acceptance of the holy faith. But they do this because of ignorance, and thus they need to be brought to their senses.

[19.] I had much more to say to you, my beloved children in the Lord, but it is impossible to write everything. I deliver you to him who is the source of all wisdom and reason, and the true Comforter— to the Holy and life-giving Spirit, in order that he himself gives you wisdom, to bring you to your senses, to enlighten you, to teach and instruct you in every good deed.

[20.] Now I leave you our beloved brother Gregory for instructor and superior in place of me, about whom all of you testify that he is able to govern you well and according to God, and you elect him by consensus as superior, even though he does not want it, but because of obedience and humility he acquiesces to your request. After him, [choose] whomever God will show you. As for myself, I wish henceforth to live in quiet and silence, to repent my sins and to beg mercy of God. Have mercy on me, your sinful father, always in your prayers that I may receive mercy on judgment day, for I have done nothing good on earth and fear that judgment and torment prepared for sinners like me. So may the blessing of God be with you all, guarding and protecting you from all evils. Amen.

I have written this in the year from the creation of the world 6449 ( = A.D. 941) on the twenty-fifth day of the month of March.

I, the humble and most sinful John, first inhabitant of the wilderness of Rila, sign with my own hand and confirm the above-written [testament].

© 2000 Dumbarton Oaks
Trustees for Harvard University
Washington, D.C.
Printed in the United States of America

Rila: Testament of John of Rila

Date: 941 Translator: Ilija Iliev

Here is also some more information of Rila Monastery for those who want to learn more what is consequence of a living of a great saint.

The monk John laid the foundations for what was to become the greatest monastery of medieval Bulgaria circa 930–31 in the mountains to the east of the Struma river valley in western Bulgaria.2 Born around 876–880, not much more than a dozen years after Boris-Michael (852–889), ruler of the Bulgars, had accepted Christianity in 865, John began his monastic career at the monastery of St. Dimiter near his birthplace, then lived for many years as a hermit. His final settlement was a site north of the Rila river, to the east of the present Rila monastery. Remains of the foundations of the first buildings are to be seen in the meadows south of the hermitage dedicated to St. Luke.3 Jealous of his independence, John refused to welcome the Bulgarian ruler Peter (927–969), who came to pay him homage. John’s Testament, translated below, was issued March 25, 941 to regulate the cenobitic community and is his only literary work. John then retired to his accustomed solitary life, and died on August 18, 946. He was a popular subject among hagiographers; seven lives in Bulgarian and two in Greek were composed between the twelfth and the nineteenth centuries.

 

B. Subsequent History of the Monastery in Medieval Times

Little is known about the Rila monastery during the Byzantine dominion over Bulgaria (1018– 1185). The earliest Slavonic life of John of Rila, the so-called "Popular Life," was composed in Bulgarian towards the end of this period, as was the first life in Greek, authored by George Skylitzes, an official on the staff of the Byzantine governor at Srédetz (modern Sofia) during the reign of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143–1180), that now survives only in a Slavonic translation.5 The monastery’s fortunes revived considerably later during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1186–1396). Rila and several other monasteries, richly endowed by the Bulgarian rulers with new lands and villages, seem to have enjoyed considerable prosperity in the fourteenth century.6 There is also a charter of 1378 preserved in the monastery of the last Bulgarian king, Ivan Shishman (1371– 1393), that confirms the tax exemptions of the monastery’s existing properties and awards new lands as well; it refers to similar charters now lost that earlier Bulgarian monarchs had awarded to the monastery dating back to the middle of the thirteenth century.

Earlier in the fourteenth century, Rila had benefited also from a local patron, the protosebast Hreljo, a local lord and sometime vassal of the Serbian tsar Stephen Dusan (1331–1355), who erected a new monastery on the site of the existing Rila monastery, to the west of John’s original foundation, which continued in operation as the "Old Hermitage." Hreljo built a 75-foot protective tower, still preserved, in 1335. It included living quarters for Hreljo and his family as well as a chapel on the top floor dedicated to the Transfiguration.7 A brick inscription records Hreljo’s erection of this structure. In 1343 he also built a stone church, which survived until 1834. There were similar towers built at this time for the monasteries on Mount Athos (see (51) Koutloumousi [A4]), and there is one still existing at the Hilandar monastery. Forced to become a monk at the order of Dusan, who distrusted his loyalty, Hreljo was strangled to death by hired assassins in his tower in 1343, probably also at Dusan’s instigation. Hreljo’s gravestone, broken into many pieces, is preserved in the monastery’s museum and speaks of his entry into the monastery and unnatural death.8

In 1385, Dometian, the monastery’s superior, had John’s Testament recopied while hiding away the original along with the foundation’s other valuables for fear of the Turks, who had taken Srédetz in 1382. At about this time too Evtimij, the last Bulgarian patriarch of Turnovo, wrote his widely popular version of the Life of John of Rila.

 

C. Rila under Ottoman Rule

The Turkish sultans Beyazid I (1389–1402) and Mehmet I (1413–1421) issued firmans confirming the privileges Rila had received earlier from Bulgarian monarchs, but this did not save the monastery from later depredations, with the result that it was abandoned by the middle of the fifteenth century.9 There was a revival, however, in the second half of the century. Around 1460, the three brothers David, Joasaf and Teofan, sons of a certain Jakov, bishop of Krupnik, worked to strengthen and repair the damaged buildings. Shortly thereafter, a pact was reached in 1466 with the Russian monastery of St. Panteleemon on Mount Athos obliging Rila and the former institution to assist one another as needed in the future. Permission was obtained from the Turkish authorities in 1469 to transport the relics of John of Rila from Turnovo, the old capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, where they had been since 1195. The translation considerably increased the Rila monastery’s prestige. A dependency (metoh) dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul was built to the southwest of the main monastery in 1478.

Firmans issued by sultans Beyazid II (1481–1512) in 1498, Selim I (1512–1520) in 1519, and Murad III (1574–1595) confirmed the monastery in the possession of its properties, but like the earlier series of firmans, these did not succeed in protecting the foundation from the depredations of various brigands.10 Beginning in 1558–59, the monks succeeded in establishing direct relations with Russia, whose rulers they hoped would be sympathetic to their complaints of oppression at the hands of their Ottoman masters.

Despite extremely difficult conditions, which continued well into the second half of the eighteenth century, including attacks by robbers in 1766 and 1779, the monastery not only managed to survive but served as a kind of center of Bulgarian culture. Additional churches were built as dependencies towards the end of the eighteenth century and in the early years of the nineteenth century, then a complete reconstruction of the main monastery was begun in 1816.11 A fire in 1833, however, destroyed all the buildings there except for Hreljo’s tower and his fourteenthcentury stone church. The monastery was rebuilt once again in 1834 while the church was torn down to make room for a larger structure; both the monastery and the nineteenth-century church still stand today, along with Hreljo’s tower, the only medieval structure preserved on the site. Analysis Experts have endorsed the essential authenticity of the document.12 It is an example of the testamentary genre of monastic foundation documents, whose author seems to have made some use of (3) Theodore Studites and even (4) Stoudios.13 There are indeed some resemblances to the former document, such as the statement of purpose [3], the prohibition of changes [4], and the admonition to preserve the faith [5]. The use of the wilderness topos in the brief foundation history [1] also has a close parallel in (29) Kosmosoteira [1], a twelfth-century document. On the whole, however, this is a distinct document with its own concerns for the ordering of monastic life at Rila.

 

A. Lives of the Monks

Like his Stoudite predecessors, John of Rila endorses [10] the cenobitic lifestyle, but also urges his monks to establish [15] relations with and support neighboring solitaries. This coexistence of cenobitic and eremitic lifestyles, prefigured in John’s own career, would be one of the notable characteristics of Byzantine monasticism. The author demonstrates an acquaintance with the ascetic tradition of late antiquity, quoting [13] Ephraem Syrus and recommending [16] the study of patristic literature, in particular the Lives of St. Antony, founder of anchoritic monasticism, Theodosios the Koinobiarch, “and others” as well as respecting canon law. John also invokes [17] patristic authority for the practice of manual labor.

 

B. Constitutional Matters

While there is genuine disciplinary content in this document, its chief purpose, as in most testaments, was to designate [20] a successor, here the monk Gregory. John then announces his intent to retire into seclusion as part of an arrangement for assuring an orderly succession to the superiorship that is similar to that proposed in the eleventh century in (22) Evergetis [13]. C. Financial Matters

Aside from the commitment to self-sufficiency that seems implicit in his endorsement of manual labor, there are no indications of how John expected the foundation to support itself financially. He proudly asserts [7] that he refused a royal donation, perhaps an annuity like the solemnia attested in Byzantium in the tenth century, and he advises [8] his community not to seek favors from “earthly kings and princes” [8]. This deliberate shunning of material support is unusual. Many later founders did not fear for the independence of their foundations when accepting imperial largess or tax exemptions (e.g., (13) Ath. Typikon [36] or (19) Attaleiates [22]), nor did Rila itself long after John’s death. As Dujcev ("Réforme," p. 263) surmised, John probably was concerned about Bulgarian monasticism being too submissive to secular authority, understandably given the prior history of Bulgarian monasticism under royal patronage.

 

Thomas Sunday – The day of Disbelievers

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Reading Time: 4minutes

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A week passed since we Christian celebrated Resurrection of Christ (Pascha). Each year on first Sunday after Easter in orthodox Church is celebrated the so called Thomas Sunday. So why is it called Thomas Sunday and why it is the day of disbelievers?
The root of this ancient Christian feast comes after commemoration of Christ desciple St. Thomas who disbelieved the testimony of ( 10 apostles ) and the Virgin Mary  that Jesus Christ is Risen from the Death.

The disbelieve of Thomas was logical and human cause even though Thomas was with the Apostleswith Christ for 3 years, saw all Jesus miracles and shared the Secret Supper (Last Supper), and even knew in advance (heard by Jesus on Last supper) that Jesus will betrayed mocked, hanged on the Cross and Rise from the death on the third day, he disbelieved.

Thomas Sunday (Sundy of Thomas) is "the day of Disbelievers", because all are disbelievers in moments of their life not only those who believe God but all the humanity!  Even the most faithful Christian, be it a deacon, monk or priest has difficult moments in life where God's existence or providence for one's faith is seriously questioned.
The fallen nature of man is such that the initial belief in God given to man in Eden (Paradise garden) is broken, and only in Jesus's name through the Gift of Faith given by the Holy Spirit, believe in God is restored.

Thomas very much like unto everyone of us doubted the rumors of Christ resurrection and said he would only believe in Resurrected Christ only if he sees his hands nails print and put his fingers into Christ’s wounds to test he is not seeing a Ghost but Christ is alive in a body after his death.

Here is the Gospel reading re-telling the story in short:

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19)

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-26)

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

We Christians should be joyful for have not seen Christ in Flesh but have believed for we are blessed for his believe without seeing.

By same faith in God without seeing him even in old times the Jews were led by the Lord God in the desert have won wars by their believing without seeing God, prophets has prophecised, Simeon (The God receiver) hold The Savior (Christ) in his hands, by faith David won the battle with Goliath, by faith we understand the universe was formed at God’s command, by faith we know that the visible came out of the invisible.

o Kyrios mou kai o Theos mou (Greek) – My Lord and my God (Jn. 20:28) this declaration of faith clearly shows an unexpressable excitement of Thomas and his unexpectency to see Christ resurrected. Here it is interesting that here the son of God Jesus Christ is called by Thomas exactly how Jewish used to call God Yahweh (One and Only God) in the Old testament.

Today the evangical story is very accurate for our generation – a generation of disbelievers, even we who say we believe often doesn’t justify our believe with our deeds, we say we believe but we don’t keep God’s commandment “to love God and our neigbor like ourselves.” Often only difference between believers and disbelievers is on Sunday we believers visit Church and “play Christians”, but even but in daily life our deeds are same like unbelievers. Often many are disbelievers not because they reject God but because they never heard the Gospel or misheard it, also we disbelieve because we’re very much like st. Thomas, we often say “I will believe in God if I see him”, but even Thomas who saw God before the Crucifix and knew him disbelieved – a proof that often seing once could still leave space for doubt. The glorious event of Christ showing himself Alive to Thomas was made by Christ to establish the Church and strengthen faith of first Christians in resurrection. Nowadays there are plenty of people who question God’s existence saying that they will believe if they see but they’re not given to see the resurrected Christ because God knows that even if we see the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected we would try to rationally explain the phenomenon with holograms, modern technology or science.

Thomas Sunday is not only a day of Thomas disbelieve it is a day of disbelieve of all humanity. , St. Thomas should be an example even to all of us Christian disbelievers and non-believers that even if we disbelieve and doubt and strive to see God, He is powerful to come and appear Resurrected in His Glory to our souls.
Let us therefore have the Wisdom of the Holy Apostles and say together with them “Lord, Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

The feast of 26 Zographou Bulgarian Holy Mount Athos Martyrs – burned alive by the Roman Catholic Crusaders

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Reading Time: 4minutes

holy-26-martyrs-of-holy-mount-athos-Zographos-zographou-monastery-martyrs-from-the-roman-catholic-crusaders

On 23 October (10 of October in Julian Calendar every year in Zograph Monastery in Holy Mount Athos is celebrated the martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs who were martyed by Latin crusaders in October 10, 1280. The 26 martyrs were burned alive after refusal to accept Union with the Roman Catholic Church as ordered by Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos. The then wanting to secure his throne emperor gave allowance for Crusaders together with his mercenaries Tatars and and Turks to go and “convert” the Orthodox Slavs to accept the union with the pope who wanted a primacy in the Church.

Mt. Athos stood in firm opposition to the Union. The Athonite monks sent a letter to Michael pointing out that the primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, celebrating the Eucharist with unleavened bread, the insertion of the “filioque” [“and from the Son”] into the Creed, could not be accepted by Orthodox, and they asked the emperor to change his mind. “We clearly see,” the letter said, “that you are becoming a heretic, but we implore you to forsake all this and abide in the teachings that were handed down to you…. Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations, and additions to the Faith.”


Holy Theotokos – The Virgin Mary icon which spoke with a human voice to a Zographou monk

An icon spoke to an old monk warning that the “enemies of Christ” are coming. The monk went to forewarn the brothers (as he was living 30 minutes afar in a grave-yard), but for his surprise the Holy icon of the Theotokos which spoke to him was found on the monastic entrance.
The brother went and told the abbot (Igumen) Thomas who told to the brothers to either flew in the woods if they’re weak in spirit and to the strong he said to stay and cofess the Holy Orthodox faith. Abbot Thomas together with the 23 monks (24 monks including the abbot) toghet with 4 pilgrims decided to stay in the monastery and suffered martyrdom. The Crusaders who were returning from Jerusalem sent by the ungodly emperor tried to convince the 26 confessors to accept Roman Catholic doctrines such as “filioque” (The teaching that the Holy Spirit cames also from the Son) and to celebrate the eucharist with unleavened bread (like the Jewish) and wanted the confessors to accept the papal union accepted also by the emeror Michael. The 26 Martyrs rebuked these heresies and explained that the “filique” is against the decisions of the 7 Church Councils. Also they give the proof that the Holy Spirit doesn’t proceed from the Son by retelling how John The Baptist baptized Christ and how the Holy Spirit descent over the Lord Jesus Christ in form of a dove. This didn’t convince the papists and the truthful words of the Zographus monks rebuked their error the papists were angered and burned the tower with the holy Martyrs alive. One of the monks fall of the burning tower and the latin though he is dead left him behind however he survived more 30 days! – even though he was on a dying bed and later told what happened to the brothers which came from their hiding places to the monastery. The Holy Martyrs prayed from the fire their last prayer to God to save the Holy Mount Athos and every true Christian on earth from heresies. When they ended their prayer they heard a voice from heaven “Rejoice for great is your reward in heaven!”. The Roman Crusaders heard the voice and were scared howeveras their spiritual eyes were darkened by the lack of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, they kept in their heart tightening. The Martyrdom happened according to Greek chronicles on 10 of October 1280.

The names of the Martyrs for Christ were as follows:

Igumen Thomas, and the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michael, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sava, Jacob, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Menas, Joasaph, Joannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen.

The tower building where the holy martyrs were burned was partially kept even though the fire until 1874 however the tower was already too old and it was about to ruin – that’s why it hadto be destroyed. To preserve the memory about the martyrdom of 26 martyrs all brothers of the Zographou monastry decided in one spirit to build on its place a monument.

monument-26-Zographou-martyrs-from-the_Latins-Bulgarian-Zograph-monastery-holy-mount-Athos

This happened the same year 1873. The monument had to be sanctified on the day when the memory of the martyrs is celebrated at the eve after sunrise began a night vigil. The night was moonless and on the heaven one could see only few stars. All around was silence. During the vigil exactly in midnight, after beginning the living and martyrdom of the the holy Zographos martyrs”, above the church all 600 hundred people saw a fire column. Column lighted up the whole monastery and the whole region with such a bright light, that even the small objects in the monastery could be seen. This divine column stayed over the Church for 3-4 minutes and moved and stayed above the monument for 3-4 minutes more and after that started ascending above and formed a ring like a crown, crowning the place where the holy martyrs suffered.

burning-of-26-bulgarian-martyrs-on-holy-mount-athos-zographou-monastery-by-the-crusaders roman catholiclatins

This unusual event continued for about 15 minutes. An eyesights of the miracle were all the brotherhood, guests and hermits who came from nearby Sketes for the feast.

That’s how the Almight God has shown by this miracle omen showing in front of everybody how Godly was the martyrdom of this great confessors of the true faith and loyalty to the Holy Orthodox Church.

Holy 26 Martyrs and Cofessors of the true faith pray the Lord Jesus Christ to save our souls!

Double Feast in our Bulgarian Orthodox Church – feast of Annunciation and comemmoration of St. John Lesstvichnik

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Reading Time: 3minutes

One more year, we are into the great Lent and we're given the Grace to hear the Good tidings (Good News) handed down by Archangel Gabriel to our Virgin Lady (The Mother of God). We hear the GOOD NEWS that our Lord Jesus Christ is conceived immaculately and is to be born from the Holy Theotokos most pure body:

Here is a little part of the Gospel New Testamention reading from Luke for the day:

28 The angel went to her and said, Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
34 How will this be, Mary asked the angel, since I am a virgin?
35 The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.
37 For no word from God will ever fail.
38 I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. May your word to me be fulfilled. Then the angel left her.

You can also read the feast troparion and some more information on this great Christian feast here

This year, today's feast also coincides with the comemmoration of one great Church Father – Saint John (monk) Lestvichnik .

st. john Lestvichnik Orthodox Christian icon

St. John Lestvichnik is honoured as one of our great ascetic saints across all Orthodox Christian dome.
Actually Lestvichnik word (comes from ancient Bulgarian / ancient Slavonic) and is a title. st. John received the Lestvichnik title as his spiritual life was so high and up to God, like climbing from earth to Gods heavens.

The meaning of Lestvichnik is "of the Ladder". After his title name Lestvichnik was named also his greatest life work Lestvica, which translated to english means Ladder

To read more about st. John Lestvichnik living a good Egnlish translation is here

Just in case to preserve, this great saints short living (english translation), I've made a mirror of st. John Lestvichnik (short) living here

St.John Lestvichnik (of the Ladder) 12th, 13 century icon

Lestvica is a very popular ancient monks living rule (guidance text);
"a true instruction for those following after invariably, and as such would be a ladder of affirmation, which would lead those wishing it to the Heavenly gates…"

Lestvica was written by st. John Lestvichnik, after a 40 years ascetic seclusion in (speachless solitude
The monks spiritual instructions rules and advices work "The Ladder" bears the title Ladder described by st. John like so:

"I have constructed a ladder of ascent...
from the earthly to the holy...
in the form of the thirty years of age for the Lord's maturity, symbolically I have constructed a ladder of 30 steps, by which, having attained the Lord's age, we find ourselves with the righteous and secure from falling down".
The purpose of this work, is to teach – that the reaching of salvation requires difficult self-denial and demanding ascetic deeds. "The Ladder" presupposes, first;
1. a cleansing from the impurity of sin – the eradication of vices and passions in the old man;
second;

2. the restoration in man of the image of God. – Although the book was written for monks, any christian living in the world can receive from it the hope of guidance for ascent to God as well as get a support for better spiritual life.
The Monks Theodore the Studite(Comm. 11 November and 26 January), Sergei of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September and 5 July), Joseph of Volokolamsk (Comm. 9 September and 18 October), and others – in their instructions relied on "The Ladder" as an important book for salvific guidance.

Glory be to God Almighty Now and Forever and Ever ! Amen !

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Reading Time: 3minutes
I have to boast with God again I prayed to the God the Father in the name of the Son Jesus Christ to help me takesuccesfully the writen exam for the driver license courses which I’m going through right now. God didn’t failed me again.In the morning before the exam I went to the orthodox Church and prayed and lighted a candle begging God for mercy forgivenesand help on the oncoming exam. I went to the Autoschool (Avtoshkola) which is located downstairs in the building of the polyclinic.I went early there so I spend some time waiting for the driving courses instructor I talked a bit with one of the girls who wason the same exam just before me and passed afterwards with another 18 years guy who was also present for the exam.Just before the beginning of the exam I was pretty nervous just like everybody else in the room. Just before beginning the examI prayed a little prayer again to God to help me. Because I was sure that without blessing and help I won’t be able to pass.The test was a hard one and I wasn’t 100% sure for let’s say at least 10 of all the 60 questions that the exam was constituted of.So I trusted my intuition and God’s help to show me the right answers. On the whole exam I received few smses and phone callsfrom the office because one of the Apache webservers was down. My cellphone vibrated a dozen of times so I got pretty nervous because of that. I ended the exam in the first 30 minutes or so. And waited patiently for the results praying and hoping God has heard my prayer and is goingto help me pass the exam. And Hooray! HalleluYah! The questor announced I have passed the exam with 0 mistakened answers! It’s a miracle and the owe and praise goes to God! Glory To the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit! Now and Forever and Ever! Amen!I’m sure my grandma has prayed for me which is pretty nice old lady and I owe her a lot for giving me good advices and support and help and praying for me in hard times in hard times for me. Also I asked another two friends to pray for my success. Thanksfully now I feel like a big burden came from my heart. It was going to big disappoinmtent if I had failed and have given all that money for that course for nothing. Thaknsfully I didn’t now the next Monday is the driving exam. I hope and trust in God to bless me and grant me to take the exam! :)Glory be to God the Creator of Heaven and of Earth! 😀 Just after I ended the exam it happened that one of the Apaches is down so I ran home as fast as I could to login unto the server and restart the service. Just after I fixed this and replied to few mails waiting for me in my mailbox Papi called and we went out for a coffee it was just on time after the succesfully taken exam. Praise the Lord! 🙂 We went to a coffee in which I haven’t been before and later Nomen and Hellpain a.k.a. (Vlado) joined us. We had a great time talking and drinking stuff. Now I’m working a bit examining what’s happenning on the servers and blogging this message at the same time. Again I should say Blessed, Blessed, Blessed is the Lord Sabbaoth the Earth and Heavens are full of his Glory ! 😀 HalleluYah! I’ll Glorify you God for you’re rightous and mercyful and you did good deed to me ! 🙂 END—–

Farting all the day

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Reading Time: 2minutes
Can’t stop farting terribly the whole day :] Yesterday I ate tons of food without thinking I’ll suffer in the morning.I woke up with terrible acids in the stomach. It’s like the sin. When you sin again and again you don’t realize sinleads consequences after him body suffering illness and death in the end both spiritual and physical. My daystarted terrifying. I was feeling cold most of the day. I have a bad blood movement so it’s very usual for me to feel cold.I hate this coldness! I went to the college for an hour it happened I have hour after 1 hour. I was almost ready to sleep walking.Today I’m terribly sleepy. On my home I met “Narf” a collegue in the college who is an IRC maniac and linux fan also :]. He proposedto drink coffee. So we spent an hour on a coffee. He explained me about the structure of the IRC in general it seems the backbone of the UniBG irc is debian.spnet.net. After an hour we went to the college but it seems like our English class was not after an hour but 2 hours, again the dumbs mismatched The Schedule. Nomen was infront of the college and we drunk coffee together on the fountain. I had Introduction to Management after the Business English. My classes ended in 15:45. I take Habib and we went home and discussed his plans about his future. He have plans to fly for UK if they approve him for Visa and make some money to be able to pay his taxes. After that Nomen come home we played MAMEs. A very commical situation was in the midday when I was with Nomen infront of a food kiosks, he was wayting for his snack, suddenly I farted terribly :]]. And we started laughing cause it smelled very brutally :]] I have peace almost the whole day. And I feel God’s love through his holy spirit. Thanks Lord Shabbaoth glory be to your Holy name Father!END—–

Quiet and Peaceful Day

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Reading Time: < 1minute
The day was Peaceful and Quiet. After I wake up Narf called and we see each other in front of the college, Nomen was ther elso we drink coffee on the fountain. Mitko told us experiences he had from Sofia, we laughed a lot. Then we go to the Chineese restaurant with Amridikon and Needless. I like the Rise with Vegetables there really awesome food :]. After that I bought “A Practical Teacher in C” and went home. Lily come home for 10 minutes, I read the Holy Bible for some time then I read The Living of the Martyr’s. Later Niki and Habib come home, and was my guests for some time. After that I take a shower chatted a little with Order and now I intend to go to bed. Thanks to God for taking care for my life and giving me peace and joy through his Holy Spirit. Thanks God!END—–

Thanks to God, yesterday I had a great day

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Reading Time: 2minutes
Yesterday was a good day in general. Ofcourse as ever thanks to God. The day before yesterday I was feelingbad and I prayed asking of God something to become happening in my life. Yesterday Pro-XeX called and we drinked a coffee on The Fountain coffee with him and Amridikon. I received only one call from the Office for the whole day and later Bino an old friend come home and was my guest for few hours, in the evening, we met with Nomen and we decided we would watch a film on the Cinema. The Film that was projected wascalled “The Pirates of Carribbean Sea“, the film was empty of meaning just a tale I wasn’t able to get mostof the conceptions of the film it was just things happening all around the film an action happenning with some elements of humour. After that I send Nomen to his home and went home. I prayed with the Evening Orthodox Prayers as usual and as usual after that prayed with my own prayer for people I wish that God would give a hand. Today I red about the living of a saint Seraphim Sarov who used to live in russia. His life story is quite interesting, His teaching of the purpose of a Christian was absolutely truthful,  what he said in his teaching was something I was all the time knowing. He said the Purpose of a Christian life is to be fulfilled and with the Holy Spirit staying in The Body of Christ Jesus, great truth, I read a documented conversation between the saint and an ordinary Russian citizen, st. Seraphim Sarov explained in this conversation how to recognize if we are fulfilled with the Holy Spirit and through this in Jesus Christ body. His explanation was something which I also know from experience so I know this saint is speaking of a Truth. When I was reading his documented with his speech I was feeling the presence of God so near. And was feeling exactly what st. Seraphim said a man feels in the Presence of The Holy Trinity!

Praise be to God Almighty!

God’s mercy

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Reading Time: 2minutes
Glory be to the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit! The Lord is very merciful. I’ve thinked a lot about my life.And I’ve realized that I’ve done many mistakes and that I don’t strive to hear his voice. Nor to follow his path formy life. So recently I’m praying for the Lord to guide me and teach me how to hear and understand his voice!As he said in the Holy Bible: “My sheeps hear my voice”. He have to teach me howto hear his voice.Also I’ve prayed few days ago about a sallary increase and Hallelujah! Today When I went to Varna I saw howthe lord heard my prayer I have a sallary increase. But I was increadibly happy because the Lord is hearing my prayers.Currently I think that God is healing my physical sickness. For which Glory be to Him The One Ever Living Lord and Our Lord Jesus Christ. Also I was very happy that a friend (Stoian) with which we discussed the topics of Our Faith the last Yeastern has received Christ as a Saviour. And is also going to the Orthodox Church. He has something I have lost a lot of days before the Fire in me the Lord has fired when I believed. Thanks Lord ! for every mercy and blessing you’re doing towards me.Mostly the last days I start realizing that we are so sinful and our minds are so deluded that we try to explain The Existence of God ( Something I tried to do for a very long time ), without actually seeking God but using our human knowledge and understanding. Let God not give me to do this anymore. Blessed, Blessed, Blessed are you Lord Shabbaoth Glory to your Heavenly Throne! I even smiled today looking at the sky :] God is merciful!!! END—–

What’s goin on recently

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Reading Time: 2minutes
At Saturday I had my first driving license. The instructor let me drive on the road for Balchik. Happily the driving went smoothly of course I made a lot of mistakes which is pretty normal for a first time driving. In the afternoon we went out for a walk with Niki. We just went out when Vlado (Hellpain) called, he came back to Dobrich for a day, we met for a coffee after which we stayed for 2 hours in the central park. Today as usual I attended the liturgy at the orthodox Church. Today it’s a big Christian Orthodox holiday, it’s the day in which the Our Lord Jesus Christ send the Holy Spirit to the early Church fathers (the apostles). The apostles heard a great noise and they see the Holy Spirit descending from heaven in a form of burning tongues, each tongue coming above the head of each of the apostles and the rest of the first believers in our Lord and Saviour Jesus. I’m still in doubt should I decide to go or not to the Netherlands. I applied for a room there through http://vivare.nl yesterday. But still haven’t received a confirmation for approval and I haven’t send a deposit for a room. I made research about the Arnhem Business School (ABS) and talked and I’m talking with a friend who went to study in Holland the last year. In the afternoon I watched an old russian movie which is marked as a SCI-FI genre (Kin Dza Dza), I got the title from the top 20 in IMDB. Yeah I can say that the movie was pretty freaky :). Vladi did call me again and said one of the servers in the office had crashed I spoke with of my colleagues with a request to go to the office and restart the box but it seems the box isn’t booting. Tomorrow I’ll catch an early bus for Varna and went to the office to see what’s wrong with the machine (hope it’s not a serious hardware problem). That’s most of it. To be honest although God grants me a lot of his divine grace I still feel a bit of lost and pathless and struggle to fight my lack of faith, and bad habits. I’m praying everyday for a physical healing but I still haven’t completely recovered from my sickness. I have sinned badly in my past and I deserve to have that sickness but still I honestly I’m repenting day after day for my bad life in the past and the near present … Another think I should say is that a friend of mine has died I saw his obituary hanging on a tree 🙁 , His name was Alexander (Sashe) known among us by the nickname (Saketo), he was a drug addict and that killed him I hope he is with God know peace be upon him. END—–