"With the Grace of God I am what I am" (Corinthians 15:10)
This year the Peter and Paul feast period in the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church was just 3 days (27,28,29), because it is a movable feast and depends on the Great Lent's longitude
Saint Apostles Peter and Paul are named Preeminent because they have laboured the most in setting the basis for the Holy Christ Church.
Saint Apostle Peter together with his brother Andrew were the first which was called by the Lord Jesus Christ which was destined by the Great providence of God to become his desciples and apostles.
Saint Peter's distinguishing soul character was his pure heart and the soul simplicity. Always when the Savior asked questions from his desciples to illustrate them the greater spiritual truths of the Eternal Heavenly life and God's greatness shown through all creation and to reveal them the divine truths about the Holy Trinity it was saint Peter who answered first speaking from the name of all desciples.
That's how one time when Christ asked the pupils "Who do you think I am?", st. ap. Peter immediately answered:
"You're Christ, the Son of the Living God". Then Jesus told him, "Blesssed are you Simon , son of Johna because no flesh and no blood has revealed this secret to you but my Father which is in heaven; and I tell you you're Peter (in Greek meaning stone), and on this stone I'll build my Church and the gates of hell would not prevail it." Mathew 16:14-18
This is the basis, this is the stone which the Lord used to establish his Church – the firmness of faith and the confession that Jesus is Christ (The Messiah), Son of the Living God. Since that moment apostle Peter started bearing also the name Simon-Peter.
By his age also saint apostle Peter was first among the apostles. After the Ascension of the Savior and the descent of the Holy Spirit over the Holy apostles he preached that firy sermon conquering the hearts and minds of the gathered many leading to the baptism of thousands.
He preached in many regions of the Roman Empire and many cities and wrote two letters which we find in today's Holy Bible, New Testament – First and Second Epistle of Peter also presented in the Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles named Peter 1 and Peter 2.
Being in persecution, various griefs and sufferings, the primus in honor among apostles has restlessly preached the Gospel. In 67 A.D. during the persecution against Christians in eperor Nero's time he was martyred.
His persecutors wanted to kill the apostle on the Cross because he was preaching the crucified Christ, but by his humble request to God for his unworthiness to die with the same death as the Divine Saviour Lord Jesus Christ his executors decided to crucify him with the cross upside down where nowadays we know the inverted cross as a symbol of the holy apostle crucifix. In later times the inverted upside-down cross started being paradoxically associated with antichrism and satanism but in reality few know that it is also a symbol left from ancient christian church.
Saint Apostle Paul before becoming the desciple and apostle of Christ was called Saulus. He was a very educated person for his time. However even though his high education he was a soul blind and unenlightened person. He was initially a fierce persecutor of Christians and even requested by authorities to grant him a special task to persecute and kill all members of the new Roman empire "superstitio" as Christianity was called at that time. On his way to Damascus a great miracle occured and he believed in the Risen Christ the Messiah (Saviour of the World)!
God blessed the repented persecutor with a glory. By a miraculous way the Lord Jesus Christ has appeared to him and he become from a fierest persecutor of Christians he become the most fervent preacher of the Saving Gospel and Love. He travelled many cities and has enlightened many nations. Often persecuted because of his preach and has been in chains was fought with sticks and received various tortures for the sake of Christ. St. Paul wrote many apistles which are red for edification and example for perfect Christian life and dedication during Holy Liturgy to this very day in the Church and his epistle.
Finally in the same year 67 during emperor Nero after being convicted to be a Christian and an enemy of the pagan state not wanting to sacrifice to the Roman idol gods he received martyrdom being beheaded because he was a Roman citizen.
This are the short biographies of the two most glorious among the apostles. So what is the moral and the lesson by this two great saints?
What is the common between the two originally contradictious characters / persons?
The first – simple fisherman, quick in speech and fearful in action who first has confessed the Lord Jesus Christ to be truly God and shortly after his ignition he has denied his Master and Christ thrice.
The other an educated but cruel man a persecuter and killer of Christians. These two very different man became the two central building blocks of the Church that has enlighted a whole meriad of nations and give them examle and tutoring them in the true way of salvation in the Holy Faith and Love.
By the Grace of God which always heals the sick and the frail, by these grace which unifies not only st. Peter and st. Paul but also all of us in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. In this Church and through this grace we vitalize and are saved.
Not because of our own merits, not because we've done something worthy but only and because of God's Grace as it is also said in the Holy Scriptures "By the Grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10) says apostle Paul. Let us overcome pride – the mother of all sins. Because pride is the reason not to give the owed to God's Grace and deceive ourselves that we with our own energies and powers have become what we're.
Everything we achieve by God's Grace but the condition to attain the Grace is to humile ourselves and hope on God's mercy, because God is an enemy of the proud and to the humile he sends his Grace.
Hence, let us live by the Laws of the Gospels, handed in by the Holy Apostles and let us leave completely ourselves to the power of God's Grace and Love, Now and Forever and Ever. Amen!
Translated (with translator cosmetic changes) from Bulgarian Orthodox Church – "Church Newsletter" nr. 26 – year 1995.
I had a small Skype chat today with my dear Indian friend of mine Happy. She is now in situation with uncertain outcome, where the Indian government has to approve her mother's application for Visa. As being uncertain she used the classical English saying: "fingers crossed – i cross the fingers". I was curious about the origin of Crossing the Fingers and thought for a second over how Cross-ing the fingers originated and how it visually looks like. It depicts a a X cross shape, also interestingly the X is the first letter of the Greek and Slavonic IC XC depicted on each and every icon of our Savior Jesus Christ. XC – stands forΧριστός (in Greek) and
in Slavonic, thus obviously crossing the fingers depicts also first letter ofΧριστός – Christ – Messiah (savior of the World). Having the insight I hurried to explain Happy, why I think people used to be crossing fingers when in situation with uncertain outcome.
Just out of curiosity I searched for Crossed_fingers and found it good explained in Wikipedia. After all, my assumption turned right, crossing the fingers is made not just out of old superstitious as many might thought, It was made on purpose by early times Christians. Crossing the fingers is an external expression of the Internal faith,hope,loveand unceasing prayer that early Christians possessed.
Crossing the fingers was very popular in times, when Christians use it as a sign to recognize each other in times of persecution. The reason for crossing the fingers is that it resembles the Sign of the Cross. It is believed even to this day in the One Holy Apostolic Church the Orthodox Church the sign of the Cross when being made invokes over one the protection and blessing of Christ. Sign of the Cross is being done in prayer in the Church in times of trouble in difficult life time events and when evil is faced. The crossed finger sign was also used as a secret way for Christians to tell each other to assemble for prayer and holy liturgy worship service. There is even symbolism in why people cross fingers with exactly those two fingers with which the gesture is done. In very ancient Church times Christians used to make the sign of the cross over their body using two fingers and not three.
4th-century icon of St. Paul the Apostle from Ephesus – Wall Painting
The sign of the cross when being depicted on one's body was done with the exact two fingers with which the crossed finger gesture is completed.
Today crossing the fingers is a popular "good luck" invocation automatic reaction, most people who do it as not being realized Christian don't know why they do it they just believe it will be a magical mantra like which will give them good outcome of problem or difficult situation. It is little sad that we the modern people who think we know a lot and are smart or educated, didn't know even the basics of what made us the nations we're which in the biggest part was Christian faith kept by our ancestors for centuries.
I've personally always hated super markets from the very early days I entered one. Here in Bulgaria we've been somehow partly lucky not to have supermarket due to the different philosophy of the communistic regime in which we lived until 1991. The philosophy of then governing communist back then was to distribute food in local middle size or small stores owned by the government. The food has to be approved by governmental body and heavily checked if it matches the governmental set standards. The variety of food we were offered in the stores was very little. Most of the small stores (which were owned by the government) only contained basic products like;;;
bread, youghurt, milk, meat, butter, lemonade, beer and few more,
This was done probably intentionally and was a result probably of our long years Orthodox Christian faith which (has saved us and preserved over the centuries). Orthodox Christianity has always teached for simplicity. Even though the communist party rejected the faith and even did severe persecution against the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The people on the top elite who were planning the communism had been a descent of an orthodox christian raised up living and therefore the philosophy of simplicity was inherited (even genetically) so the way the COM party behaved based on its leaders and the governing decisions about the nations belonging to communism (Russia, (Yugoslavia) – Serbia Koso , Bulgaria, Greece, Egypt etc.) were in a material expression in conjunction with the Christian tradition of simplicity (i say material because Orthodox Christian Church even visiting back then in the countries was usually prohibited and the Com. party did their best to ruin up the believe in Christ in people).
In communism the local suburb grocery stores, were the only "points" of distribution of food. Since buying and owning a car took at least few years of waiting and big money for it. Not more than 10 to 20% of families owned car and owning a car was considered to be granted mostly to people belonging to the then governing communistic elite or the Communist Party.
The public transportation was encouraged because according to communism so called "geometry" which was a main drive for how the systems in communistic countries should work it was estimated public transportation is cheaper and more environmental friendly than if a car is given to anyone, also public transportation (trains, bus-es) etc. did a good thing in the aim of the party to exersice higher control and surveilance over the population.
Because of that existence of big super-market was scarce and the culture to go and buy from a shop with your own family car was not existing.
The equivalent of nowdays mall shops (big retail stores) was usually located on the city center and the size of this shop was much smaller and the variety of products one can find there was only few. Hence the customer didn't have so much options to choose between, neither had to spend too much of time on choosing, the com party wanted the people to work more and buy less, so spending time in stores was not encouraged.
With the entrance of democracy and the moving up of large super-market food and good retails shops like Metro was among the first ones which entered the "freed" market. It was really a bizarre experience for us the ex U.S.S.R belonging people to enter such a large sized stores and to face such a big variety of choice.
Before that in communism we never saw such stores even on the TV, since the TV was governed by communistic party and only information which was useful for the establishment and protection of the regime was projected on the only available National TV channel.
Sorry to distract a bit from the major topic of this post, but I thought this is necessery to explain before continuing because it is important to understand that unintentinonally the communist gave us an advantage to have a different view on things than Western free world, a view which is in many things contrary and more correct (in terms of hard logic) than to Western Europe.
My first encounter with a super-market was only about 8 or 10 years ago and I believe many people who lived in the province of Bulgaria and other ex-communist countries did for a first time experience super-markets approximate 10y. ago. Though all looked so nice inside the shop and the shop emploees were so nice I always felt something very cold dead inside this big stores. Ptonsnlu my intuition (spirit) if you want has always pointed me out that there is something very wrong with this super markets.
With the increase of products on the market for us people who lived up to our 8 to 12 years (young age) in communism it was a great shock, since we were raised in a society based on some communist false ideology and suddenly the markets were opened and the products variety to choose between become extremely high. All previously said to be good and true in communism time was said to be anti-freedom and many people did their best to destroy as much as possible mostly everything somehow connected with previous communistic time. My homeland Bulgaria as a result of this become a very hard to live place and we were forced to adapt in fast paces and learn things on how we have to live like democrats for a very little short of time. One severe "damage" most of the growing people in Bulgaria in communism had was the hardness and inability to make choices. For many people between the age of 25 to 35 it is very hard to make choices even for small things. This was a direct consequence of a long years (45 years) of communist propaganda, and few generations who lived in a non-freedom respecting regime which conditioned and prepared a specific plan and place for every individual living in the country.
Seeing communism as the ultimate evil and manipulation to make us dependent we didn't know that in the free democratic world the manipulation and conditioning in society was heavy too.
"The Programming" of western society through institutions, stores and order in society was a fact and in a sense the only difference between the Democratic world and communistic world was one of the worlds seemed to have a larger frame in which the individual can work and live, whether the communistic regime seem to be more restrictive. One main thing used to condition people choices and buying behavior and make them over-consume to make the democratic economy constantly growth was big super-markets. Though they were privately owned and not like in communist country, the only drive behind each shop was PROFIT, PROFIT and agian PROFIT.
Higher profits would mean higher consumptions, higher consumptions means higher production and more work places opened as well as more expenses for working individuals would mean bigger necessity to work more and earn more, because though the sallaries incomes were high in the free world. The individual necessities there were even increasing too.
Since the about 1950s 1960s the super-markets started entering the "free" democrat countries world. As a result the small shops which were prior a main food and beverage distribution source started closing, because they couldn't be a concurrence to the big "brothers" super-markets which were able to buy higher quantities of goods in lesser price and therefore sell many of the goods in much lower prices than the little grocery stores.
The result with the years was a huge shift in people buying behavior from local groce and open markets to buy everything from the big super-markets. The big store chains had to be in a fight for customers all the time, so businesses involved started customer wars and tried their best to "steal" customers from each other. In this financial wars a main thing that most super-market chains and malls did was constant optimization of efficiency of both buying and reselling to the end customer. This is a 3 step business process actually.
1;;; They buy from the commodity producer 2;;; They prepare the food for the store (packaging, cleaning up whatever) 3;;; They put it in a certain way in the store and organize the store in a way to always sell more and more
As a result a huge number of tricks were employed by each and every super-market aiming to deceive the customer to ever buy more The deception of the client in store is very tricky and smart organized so it cannot really be called a lie but its rather a tricky smartness.
Since the super-markets entered in my country too and the tiny grocery stores are mostly closing unable to compete with the large super-market 'money making machines'. Even I am sometimes forced to buy stuff from super markets. Since here in Bulgaria the culture of purchasing from super-markets is not so strong yet. In order to be able to consume the little grocery stores. Many large super-markets started investing in making the little groceries their retail shops with their brand or (sometimes a new make up brand). By doing so the little grocery stores loose their authoritarity and independance and become dependant on the big super-market on the type of products they will sell, this obviously means this strategy of the big super-market in the long run will lead the little grocery stores we still have to ruin up. This is obvious because if the small grocery stores start selling the exact same products (brands) of the big super-markets, there will be nothing left to make the little grocery unique. Neither the variety of products choice inside or pricing will be any different from super-market. This will mean the tiny grocer will be no different from the big super-markets in terms of product and prices and therefore. The clients which now are loyal to small grocery stores like me will then have not such big motivation to buy from small super-markets, since everything inside is somehow similar (not to say) the same as with big supermarket the only difference would be the lesser variety which is obviously a good reason why the customer would definitely prefer to buy from the large supermarket …
On the videos you're about to see below, they explain some of the probably thousands of tricks nowdays existing the super-market chains employs to trick us to exponentiolly consume their goods.
Old Tricks of the SuperMarket Trade
As you can see the video is presenting a reality of the tricks which was used in the 1960 and now technology and knowledge in the field has largely increased and since they there are surely many new trick 'developments' which are working for the masses of customers daily. There is even a whole science centered on buying behaviour already existent called buyology!
Here is a short introduction to buyology to give you an idea what its purpose is:
Short introduction video on buyology – The Science of buying part 1 of 2
Short introduction video on buyology – The Science of buying part 2 of 2
Seeing all this is very precious information, since being informed one can escape the bad "tricks and traps" pawn in the markets.
All the information about the communistic regime and the 'shopping system' there was mentioned priorly because I wanted to explain a bit of the difference of then and now to point you to my opinion that the Western buying model and expectation to sell more based on the tricks are probably not working very well here in the ex-communistic countries, especially with the older generations and the one like me which somehow grow a small part of their youth in communism.
The reason is we have a different 'social programming' than westerners. Also the different spirituality (The orthodox Christian faith) plays another role. Also there is a difference in the type of buying behaviour. In Bulgaria there is no culture to buy once or twice per week. People have culture to buy daily, though this is starting to change slowly these days.
The topic is actually very huge and I'm sure what I'm saying is just the 'tip of the iceberg'. As I'm a firm opponent of big industries and large business I'm firmly against the buying from big stores any goods. The reason is that simply by doing so one makes the already RICH people even more RICHER. By increasing the richness of a certain small group of people daily, we as society are un-consciously somehow involuntarily letting them increase the financial control that is already there in some degree to the society. As democracy's main drive is money this means that by helping the large business-es marge and become even BIGGER, we're doing something against ourselves and our interests as society. I don't think that any ordinary citizen in the free world want to live in a fully controlled one World State (one world country), similar to the ex-communism I lived through, so I think people concerned about our freedoms should oppose the big businesses according to the society level they're in. Even if we're not in position to change things with money, we as society are in a position to change ourselves and our understanding of world, our desires and our behaviour. If we change our value system in a way, where money are not a top priority and the highest value the outcome will be positive in both spiritual terms and overall world state.
The modern day however wants us to falsely believe that we're divided, helpless and money dependent. This is a big delusion which we're constanty repeated. Just like with the super-market this big super-market company owners were able to convince us through time that super-market is better than the grocery stores, because of the less money spending advantage. Even if in the past there were possibility to spend less via supermarket nowdays spending less by using the supermarket instead of the small groce-store is a BIG LIE. Even if one spends less in super-market on certain products, the amount of related products he is cheated* to buy in store highly exceed the simply money one would spend on even higher priced products in the small groce. The outcome results from the super-market is also a big waste, as I lived in the west I've seen most of the households are buying more than they need, spending more than they need, cooking more food and more frequently than necessery and throughing large portions of food in the garbage (e.g. a huge amount of food waster).
If it was possible that people were aware they are buying all this non-sense food because of deception, they would have bought less, the super-markets would bought less and distribute less and the food (waster) remaining could be distributed to poor-er countries to help the starving kids and suffering people in Africa. Helping the suffering and starving, we would have helped each other as it is a nowdays well known that even on molecular level the whole world is connected, therefore helping our poorer brothers and sisters is actually helping ourselves ***
Today in the Orthodox Church, we commemorate the great miracle of our saviour Christ appearing to st. Apostle Thomas, who failed to believe to the rest of the holy apostles that they have seen our saviour alive.
Thomas wanted said that he won’t belief if he doesn’t touch and see the incorruptable risen body of our saviour Jesus.
Our Lord by his great mercy has appeared once again to the pupils dinnering with them. Thomas was with the teachers and the door was locked (as the fear of persecution for Christ’s testimonial was among the aposltes). Suddenly our Saviour entered the room where all the pupils were gathered through the locked door (a Glorious miracle inconceivable for our minds).
As the Lord knew about Thomas weak belief and his disbelief in his prophecised Resurrection in the third day, when Christ entered he has addressed Thomas and told him to come forth and see and touch his wounds and see that a spirit has no bones and flesh, (obviously Thomas erroneously thought that the resurrection from the death would be in spirit and no physical body will be present (this kind of belief today is also wide-spread inside many heretical christian groups)). The Lord continued on and told Thomas, “Thomas you have seen and believed, now blessed is those who haven’t seen me and believed”!
Here is part of the daily troparion:
Touch my rib with a hand, Thomas, speaks Christ, and come and touch (feel) the scars from the nails. With faith do test it, and be a believer and not a non-believer. Thomas has touched with a finger to the Master and loudly shouted: "You are my Lord and my God, most merciful Glory to you!"
This Sunday is also the day marking the end of the bright week of the Resurrection. Let we all the Orthodox Christians be a believers as Thomas and be blessed in accordance to our saviour’s word, as we haven’t seen the Lord’s Risen glorified body as Thomas and the rest of the holy apostles did.
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