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In light of the very tense political situation leading up to next Monday’s parliamentary elections, Patriarch Ilia arranged for a Consecration of the City of Tbilisi, held yesterday afternoon to coincide with the Celebration of Christ’s Ascension and the Elevation of the Cross.

Fears of violence and possible uprisings have been substantial.  Despite the Patriarch’s entreaties for Christians to treat each other as brothers regardless of political affiliation, interaction between rival political groups have not been civil in general.

The Patriarchate released this statement three days ago; “As it is known, today a procession with participation of the clergy will start from Vake (Saburtalo pantheon) from Vaja-Pshavela (St. Barbare’s Cathedral), from the cinema “Georgia” (St. Barbare’s Church) and also from the St. Barbare (lower) Church.

“From the three sides (Vake, Saburtalo, Didube) the place of gathering is Heroes’ Square, where people will be gathered at 16:00 and then will move towards Metekhi bridge, – to the torture place of One Hundred Thousand Georgians; the fourth group will join the group at 18:00 and the solemn prayer will be conducted. Everyone can participate in the consecration of the capital”

The assembly yesterday afternoon was attended by many tens of thousands of ordinary parishioners from Tbilisi and nearby towns, with their priests, deacons and sidesmen. Estimates of 50,000-100,000 attendants have been made for the solemn event.

The Patriarchate has now extended this ritual to the whole country. Today, the Patriarch’s Secretary, Archpriest Michael Botkoveli stated ” Every region, every town and village will be sanctified. The initiative has been assigned to the Diocesan Bishops of the Patriarchate. This idea was initiated by the Patriarch with regard to the escalated situation in the country in order for the coming elections to be held in a peaceful and fair environment”. All the Bishops of the country have been dispatched to their Dioceses today for this purpose and will remain in their Eparchies until tomorrow night.

In such a tense environment where so many people are fearful, to consecrate every town and village is a much-needed gesture, to calm the atmosphere and focus people’s attention on what is really important. Consecration means sanctification, or to make holy, and to dedicate a place to God’s service. By calmly exercising their civic duty to vote, and working peacefully to improve the country in the aftermath of the elections, the people of Georgia are doing God’s work in every town and village; it is to be hoped that nobody stands in the way of their obligation. We all pray that the people of Georgia can cast their votes freely, that those disappointed by the outcome can accept the setback calmly, that the elected authorities govern with wisdom and justice, and that the bitterness between people of opposing camps can be replaced by reconciliation and goodwill.

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Thirty-five thousand Persian soldiers marched toward Georgia in the year 1795. The Georgian king Erekle II (1762–1798) and his two thousand soldiers declared war on the invaders as they were approaching Tbilisi. The Georgians won the first skirmish, but many perished in the fighting. The enemy was shaken and was preparing to flee the battleground, when several traitors reported to Aqa Muhammed Khan that King Erekle had lost nearly his entire army. This betrayal decided the fate of the battle: the one hundred fifty soldiers who remained in the Georgian army barely succeeded in saving the life of King Erekle, who had willed to perish on the battlefield with his soldiers.

All of Tbilisi was engulfed in flames. The plunderers murdered the people, set fire to the libraries, destroyed the print shop, and vandalized the churches and the king’s palace. They slaughtered the clergy in an especially cruel manner.

Unfortunately, history has not preserved the names of all those martyrs who perished in this tragedy, but we do know that a certain Metropolitan Dositeos of Tbilisi was killed because he would not abandon his flock. While the invaders simply killed most of the clergymen, from St. Dositeos they demanded a renunciation of the Christian Faith. They commanded him to defile the True and Life-giving Cross of our Lord. But the holy hieromartyr Dositeos endured the greatest torments without yielding to the enemy, and he joyfully accepted death for Christ’s sake. The invaders slaughtered Christ’s devoted servant with their swords.

St. Dositeos was martyred on September 12 in the year 1795.

From “Lives of the Georgian Saints” by Archpriest Zacharia Machitadze

 

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In light of street protests and student unrest in the wake of Georgia’s prison abuse scandal, the Patriarch calls for restraint and for student protesters to disperse.

21.09.12 13:57

Patriarch Ilia II preaches restraint at Liturgy of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II calls on the nation to remain calm. His Holiness preached at the Holy Trinity Cathedral today and urged the worshippers not to `use the situation for humiliating Georgia and its people`. Patriarch said there are people who are trying to wield the unhealthy situation and cause instability in the country, which is entirely unacceptable.

His Holiness called on the nation to bring the situation to elections peacefully.

Patriarch has also addressed the students and asked them to abstain from the activities, which might cause disorder. Part of the students, who have been rallying during past few days, were also listening to Patriarch, who conducted holy service on the day of Virgin Mary.

via Patriarch calls on the nation to remain calm.

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Today we celebrate the Birth of the Virgin Mary, the Ghvtismshobeli. The event is of great importance to Orthodox Christians in general, but because the Virgin Mary is the Patron of the Georgian Nation, it has become a national holiday.

The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born at a time, when people had reached such limits of decay of moral values, that it seemed altogether impossible to restore them. The best minds of this era were aware and often said openly, that God must needs come down into the world, so as to restore faith and not tolerate the ruination of the race of mankind.

The Son of God chose for the salvation of mankind to take on human nature, and the All-Pure Virgin Mary, – alone worthy to contain in Herself and to incarnate the Source of purity and holiness, – He chose as His Mother.

The Birth of Our Most Holy Lady Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated by the Church as a day of universal joy. Within the context of the Old and the New Testaments, on this radiant day was born the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, – having been forechosen through the ages by Divine Providence to bring about the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God, and She is revealed as the Mother of the Saviour of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born in the small city of Galilee, Nazareth. Her parents were Righteous Joachim from the tribe of the King and Prophet David, and Anna from the tribe of the First-Priest Aaron. The couple was without child, since Saint Anna was barren. Having reached old age, Joakim and Anna did not lose hope on the mercy of God. They had strong faith that for God everything is possible, and that He would be able to solve the barrenness of Anna – even in her old age, as He had once solved the barrenness of Sarah, spouse of the Patriarch Abraham. Saints Joakim and Anna made a vow to dedicate the child which the Lord might bestow on them, into the service of God in the Temple.

Childlessness was considered among the Hebrew nation as a Divine punishment for sin, and therefore the righteous Saints Joakim and Anna had to endure abuse from their own countrymen. On one of the feastdays at the Temple in Jerusalem the elderly Joakim brought his sacrifice in offering to God, but the High Priest would not accept it, – considering him to be unworthy since he was childless. Saint Joakim in deep grief went into the wilderness and there he prayed with tears to the Lord for the granting of a child. Saint Anna, having learned about what had happened at the Jerusalem Temple, wept bitterly; never once did she complain against the Lord, but rather she prayed, asking God’s mercy on her family.

The Lord fulfilled her petitions when the pious spouses had attained to extreme old age and prepared themselves by virtuous life for a sublime calling – to be the parents of the MostHoly Virgin Mary, the future Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Archangel Gabriel brought Joakim and Anna the joyous message: their prayers were heard by God, and of them would be born a Most Blessed Daughter Mary, through Whom would come the Salvation of all the World. The Most Holy Virgin Mary of Herself in purity and virtue surpassed not only all mankind but also the Angels; – She was manifest as the Living Temple of God, such that the Church sings in its festal verses of song: “the Heavenly Gate, bringing Christ into the world for the salvation of our souls” (2nd Stikhera on “Lord, I have cried”, Tone 6).

The Birth of the Mother of God marks the change of the times, wherein the great and comforting promises of God begin to be fulfilled about the salvation of the human race from slavery to the devil. This event has brought nigh to earth the grace of the Kingdom of God, – a Kingdom of Truth, piety, virtue and life immortal. Our Mother First-Born of All Creation is revealed to all of us by grace as a merciful Intercessor and Mother, to Whom we steadfastly recourse with filial devotion.

Orthodox Liturgical Calendar of The St. John of Kronstadt Press

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A neat summary of the Church’s position on new claims of Christ’s supposed “marriage”. We went through all this a few years ago in the wake of “The Da Vinci Code” but here we go again….Academics’ scepticism of documentary authenticity reported here

Sep 20, 2012

Christ the Lifegiver An announcement about an ancient text in which Jesus is reported to have spoken about “my wife” has received extensive attention in the media.  The text comes from a small papyrus fragment about 1×3 inches in size, judged to be of the fourth century AD, which apparently had broken off from a larger page of a document presumed lost.  The text is still in the process of linguistic and chemical analysis to determine if it is actually a fragment from a fourth-century manuscript.  When the papyrus fragment was discovered, and under what circumstances it has passed from hand to hand until the public announcement, are presently unknown.

Written in ancient Sahidic Coptic script, the text is perhaps a translation of an earlier Greek document.  Because the lines on all four sides of the fragment are broken and incomplete, transcription of meaningful sentences is impossible.  But the names of Jesus and also Mary, presumably, Mary Magdalene, are reported to occur, and also certain phrases, including Jesus using the expression “my wife.”  Mary Magdalene has been portrayed as an intimate disciple of Jesus, but not a wife, in other ancient writings already known to the Fathers of the Church and designated as apocrypha and fraudulent.  These works were composed by small circles of heretical teachers concerned to disseminate their own and often bizarre teachings.  For example, a few years ago the discovery of “The Gospel of Judas” caused a stir in the media.  This document was known to St. Irenaeus in the late second century AD.  Among its strange teachings is that Judas was the only disciple who truly understood Jesus and that his treachery was a good thing in itself because it helped Jesus to be crucified; except that by that time the real Christ had (weirdly) departed from Jesus and that only Jesus the man was crucified!

Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School who made the announcement about the new text cautioned that its reference to Jesus’ wife is no historical proof that Jesus was actually married but only an indication that Christians in the fourth century debated the issues of marriage and celibacy.  The Gospels and most of the other books of the New Testament are extensive documents of the first century AD and provide no hint that Jesus was ever married.  There would be no reason to hide such a fact because marriage was viewed as a sacred covenant in Judaism and Christianity.  It should be noted that St. Peter the Apostle, as well as other apostles were married (Mark 1:30; 1 Cor 9:5).  The Bible and the Orthodox theology confirm that marriage is instituted by God, it is honorable and holy, one of the sacraments of the Church.  Just as the Church honors a celibate life dedicated to God, so also it celebrates marriage as a workshop of God’s kingdom–a journey to God.

 

From the Greek Orthodox Archiocese of America

 

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A neat summary of the importance of the Greek language to ancient and modern Christianity. Greek was the liturgical language of the Church in Georgia in the very early days.

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The renovation of the 11th century Bagrati Cathedral ( ბაგრატი; ბაგრატის ტაძარი, or Bagratis tadzari) has been controversial, as the government’s renovation plan was rejected by UNESCO. UNESCO had classified the ruins as a World Heritage site. That being said, UNESCO officials have little regard for whether a religious site can be restored to its intended use, and a temple has a functional role as well as an aesthetic one.  It needs to keep the rain off the heads of the worshippers, and a cathedral without a roof lacks this utility.

Reconstructed Bagrati Cathedral opens in Kutaisi

The Cathedral of the Dormition of the Ghvtismshobeli (as its formal title is) was commissioned in 1003 by King Bagrat III, the first King of a united Georgia. Prior to his reign, Georgia had been divided into two or more Kingdoms, typically divided East-West. Destroyed by the Ottoman troops in 1692, the cathedral has been in ruins ever since. The Diocese of Kutaisi and Gaenati now has a magnificent cathedral at its seat for the use of the people. As most temples in Georgia are overflowing on Sunday mornings, and extremely crowded on feast days, the new capacity will be very welcome.

Reconstructed Bagrati Cathedral opens in Kutaisi

14.09.12 20:48

President Mikheil Saakashvili called on all political forces of Georgia for consolidation and thanked all those who participated in restoration of Bagrati temple in his speech made in the yard of Bagrati temple of Kutaisi in Imereti region today.

“I want to thank all who participated in this grand construction – all workers, all constructors and all engineers. I want especially to thank Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia ll, whose blessing played a decisive role in this great job. However, today’s main hero is King Bagrati, who built the temple. He laid the foundation of the unity, which is vitally important for our national existence and success”, Saakashvili said, noting Georgia was always going forward when it was united.

He said, he is happy to represent the generation which restored the Bagrati temple.

“Restoration of a church is a greatest merit for any Georgian. I am happy to have a chance to make my modest contribution into the restoration. I am happy to represent the generation which restored the Bagrati temple”, Saakashvili said

via Reconstructed Bagrati Cathedral opens in Kutaisi.

 

 

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