Feeds:
Posts

Archive for October, 2012

Saint Luke is one of the most significant saints in the Church; his Feast is held today. As a Greek medical doctor from Antioch, schooled in Greek medicine, art and philosophy, his background was quite different from the many Jewish peasants and fisherman whom Christ called to serve. Saint Luke was a witness to Christ’s Resurrection on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24.13) , and became a constant companion to Saint Paul the Evangelist in his extensive travels. It is hard to imagine a more “odd couple” to work together as evangelists for so many years, one formerly a Pharisee, the other an affluent Greek physician, but obviously their talents were complementary and they were very effective at spreading the faith amongst both Jews and Gentiles throughout the Roman Empire.

He is attributed as being the first iconographer, painting under the direction of the Virgin Mary.

He is most widely known as the author of the Gospel of Saint Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Icons of the saint usually show him as a well-dressed professional gentleman in Greek garb, carrying a copy of the Holy Gospel.

11th Century Georgian Miniature of Saint Luke

The Holy Disciple and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a Disciple from amongst the Seventy, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil. 1: 24, 2 Tim. 4: 10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and here he fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself. Included amidst the number of the Seventy Disciples, Saint Luke was sent by the Lord with the others for the first preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven while yet during the earthly life of the Saviour (Lk. 10: 1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saints Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.

The Disciple Luke took part in the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul, and from that time they were inseparable. At a point when all his co-workers had left the Apostle Paul, the Disciple Luke stayed on with him to tackle all the toiling of pious deeds (2 Tim. 4: 10-11). After the martyr’s death of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint Luke left Rome to preach in Achaeia, Libya, Egypt and the Thebaid. In the city of Thebes he finished his life in martyrdom.

Tradition ascribes to him the writing of the first icons of the Mother of God. “Let the grace of He born of Me and My mercy be with these icons”, – said the All-Pure Virgin in beholding the icons. Saint Luke painted likewise icons of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul. His Gospel was written by Saint Luke in the years 62-63 at Rome, under the guidance of the Apostle Paul. Saint Luke in the preliminary verses (1: 3) spells out exactly the aim of his work: he recorded in greater detail the chronological course of events in the framework of everything known by Christians about Jesus Christ and His teachings, and by doing so he provided a firmer historical basis of Christian hope (1: 4). He carefully investigated the facts, and made generous use of the oral tradition of the Church and of what the All-Pure Virgin Mary Herself had told him (2: 19, 51).

In the theological content of the Gospel of Luke there stands out first of all the teaching about the universal salvation effected by the Lord Jesus Christ, and about the universal significance of the preaching of the Gospel [Lat. “evangelum” with Grk. root “eu-angelos” both mean “good-news”].

The holy disciple likewise wrote in the years 62-63 at Rome, the Book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles. The Acts, which is a continuation of the Four Gospels, speaks about the works and effects of the holy Apostles after the Ascension of the Saviour. At the centre of the narrative – is the Council of the holy Apostles at Jerusalem (year 51 A.D.), a Church event of great critical significance, with a dogmatic basis for the distancing of Christianity from Judaism and its independent dispersion into the world (Acts 15: 6-29). The theological objective of the Book of Acts is that of the Dispensation-Economy of the Holy Spirit, actualised in the Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, from the time of the Ascension and Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ.

From “Calender, Saint John of Kronstadt Press”

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion, a Roman soldier, saw service in Judea under the command of the procurator, Pontius Pilate. During the time of the execution of the Saviour it was the detachment of soldiers under the command of Longinus, which stood watch around Golgotha, at the very foot of the holy Cross. Longinus and his soldiers were eye-witnesses of the final moments of the earthly life of the Lord, and of the great and awesome portents that appeared at His death. These events jolted the soul of the soldier. Longinus believed then in Christ and before everyone confessed that, “in truth – this was the Son of God” (Mt. 27: 54). (according to Church tradition, Longinus was that soldier, who with a spear pierced the side of the Crucified Saviour, and from the outflowing of blood and water received healing from an eye affliction).

After the Crucifixion and Burial of the Saviour, Longinus with his company stood watch at the Sepulchre of the Lord. Here the soldiers were given to behold the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ. The Jews persuaded them with a bribe to bear false witness that His disciples had stolen away the Body of Christ, but Longinus and two of his comrades refused to be seduced by the Jewish gold.

Having believed in the Saviour, the soldiers accepted Baptism from the apostles and decided to forsake military service. Longinus quit Judea and set out preaching about Christ Jesus the Son of God in his native land, in Cappadocia. His two comrades also followed after him. The fiery words of actual participants of the great occurrences in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread about in the city and the surrounding villages.

Having learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to dispatch a company of soldiers to Cappadocia, to kill Longinus and his comrades. The dispatched company of soldiers arrived in the native village of Longinus; the former centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them to his home. After a meal, the soldiers told about the purpose of their arrival, not knowing – that the master of the house – was that very selfsame man, whom they were seeking. Then Longinus and his fellows identified themselves and asked the surprised soldiers, unperturbedly, to do their duty of military service. The soldiers wanted to set free the saints and advised them to flee, but the saints refused to do this, shewing firmness of will to accept suffering for Christ. The holy martyrs were beheaded, and their bodies were buried there where the saints made their final witness, and the cut-off heads were sent on to Pilate. Pilate gave orders to cast the martyrs on the trash-heap outside the city walls. After a certain while a certain blind woman arrived in Jerusalem to pray at the holy places. Saint Longinus appeared to her in a dream and said, that she should find his head and bury it. They led the blind woman to the rubbish heap. Having touched the head of the martyr, the woman was granted sight to her eyes. She reverently conveyed the venerable head to Cappadocia and there gave it burial.

From “Orthodox Liturgical Calendar of The St. John of Kronstadt Press,”

 

Read Full Post »

A concise and accurate summary of the Schism between the Eastern and Western Church in the Middle Ages.

Read Full Post »

As the Georgian regions of Tao-Klarjeti and Lazeti were under Ottoman occupation for many centuries, and are now part of the Republic of Turkey, much of the religious heritage and folklore of these regions has been lost. Nonetheless, the Church commemorates the memory of the evangelists, saints and martyrs of these regions, even though the population has since been converted to Islam.

Our Holy Father Grigol of Khandzta was raised in the court of the Kartlian ruler Nerse. His family was part of the Meskhetian aristocracy. He received an education befitting his family’s noble rank and displayed a special aptitude for the sciences and theology.

The youth chosen by God was extraordinarily dedicated to his studies. In a short time he memorized the Psalms and familiarized himself with the doctrines of the Church. He also learned several languages and knew many theological works by heart.

While Grigol was still young, his loved ones expressed a wish to see him enter the priesthood. The wise youth had aspired to the spiritual life from early on, but he considered himself unprepared to bear such an enormous responsibility. “My pride prevents me from fulfilling your desire,” he told them.

Finally he consented to be ordained a priest, but the local princes sought to consecrate him a bishop. Frightened at the prospect, Grigol secretly fled to southwestern Georgia with three like-minded companions: his cousin Saba (a future bishop and the reviver of Ishkhani Monastery), Theodore (the builder of Nedzvi [Akhaldaba] Monastery), and Christopher (the builder of the Dviri Monastery of St. Cyricus). The four brothers were unified by faith and love of God and bound by a single desire, as though they were one soul existing in four bodies.

The brothers arrived at the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Opiza and presented themselves before the abbot Giorgi. With his blessing they labored there for two years. Then St. Grigol visited the monk Khvedios, the righteous hermit of Khandzta. Prior to Grigol’s arrival, Khvedios had received a sign from God indicating that a monastery would be built in Khandzta by the hands of the priest Grigol. It was revealed to him that Fr. Grigol’s prayers were so holy that their sweet-smelling fragrance rose up before God like incense. The monk showed St. Grigol the environs, and he was so drawn to this area that he soon returned there with the other brothers and began to build a monastery.

The monks were forced to construct the monastery in difficult conditions, since the earth was rocky and mountainous and they were not equipped with the proper tools. First they built a wooden church, and later four cells and a dining hall.

A certain aristocrat by the name of Gabriel Dapanchuli lived nearby, and Grigol turned to him for help with construction of the monastery. With great joy he donated the stone, labor and food necessary for this worthy project to be realized. In such a way the first monastery church in Khandzta was established.

Gabriel informed Holy King Ashot Kuropalates about the brothers’ activity, and the king invited their leader, St. Grigol, to the palace.

There he received him with great honor, asked him to bless the royal family, and inquired in detail about the life and labors of the holy monks. Then he presented Grigol with a generous donation to the monastery and, having learned that the land in Khandzta could not be cultivated, bestowed upon the monastery a large plot of fertile land in Shatberdi. King Ashot’s sons, the princes Adarnerse, Bagrat, and Guaram, also donated generously to the monastery.

So, during the bloody Arab-Muslim period of rule, when the Georgian people had sunk into deep despair, the Klarjeti Wilderness was transformed into a life-giving oasis to which the greatest sons of the nation flocked.

The rules of the monastery were strict. In each monk’s cell was nothing but a short, stiff bed and a small pitcher for water. Neither fires nor candles were lit inside.

St. Grigol was known throughout all of Georgia. At the request of King Demetre II of Abkhazeti (837–872), Fr. Grigol built a monastery in the village of Ubisi in Imereti and appointed his disciple Ilarion of Jerusalem as abbot. He built this monastery on the border of western and eastern Georgia and in so doing foresaw the unification of the two kingdoms.

The Lord performed many miracles through St. Grigoly. Once the church bell-ringer was approaching the abbot’s cell and saw a light issuing forth from inside. He knew that St. Grigol had lit neither a fire nor his oil lamp, and he became frightened, believing that a fire might have started in the abbot’s cell. As it turned out, others had witnessed similar wonders: when the saint stood praying, he would light up like the sun, and beams of light would emanate from his body in the shape of a cross.

Venerable Grigol stood firmly in defense of morality, and he even confronted King Ashot Kuropalates when his conduct was at odds with the values of the Georgian people. Grigol had united his companions in their love of God, but among the roses there appeared a thorn. A certain Tskir, a protege of the Tbilisi emir Sahak, schemed to obtain the episocopal see of Anchi.

He forcibly took control of Anchi Cathedral and committed many blasphemies. The clergy, and venerable Grigol in particular, condemned his behavior, but Tskir was consumed by pride and hired a killer to eliminate St. Grigol. Like a prophet, St. Grigol foresaw the imminent danger but went out to meet it nevertheless. Approaching his victim, while still at a distance from him, the murderer saw a bright light enveloping the holy father. He froze in fear, and his hand immediately withered. Only the prayers of St. Grigol could heal him and permit him to return home.

The Church excommunicated Tskir, and he fled to the emir for refuge. With Sahak’s help he returned to the throne of Anchi and sent a military detachment to destroy Khandzta Monastery.

The monks of Khandzta and their abbot met the attackers in meekness and requested time to celebrate the Sunday Liturgy. The whole brotherhood prayed tearfully to the Lord to save the monastery.

The Liturgy had not yet been completed when a messenger arrived from Anchi to report that Tskir had died suddenly.

Near the end of his life St. Grigol spent most of his time at Shatberdi Monastery, which he himself had built. When he received a sign that his death was approaching, he distributed candles throughout all the monasteries in the Klarjeti Wilderness and requested that they be burned on the day of his death. He asked all to remember him and bade farewell to Khandzta.

On the day of his repose, holy fathers from all over Klarjeti gathered to receive a final blessing from their teacher. Grigol blessed them, admonished them for the last time, and gave up his soul to God. When he breathed his last, a voice was heard from heaven, calling him: “Do not be afraid to come, O Venerable Servant of Christ, for Christ, the King of heaven, has Himself anointed you an earthly angel and a heavenly man. Now come and approach thy Lord with great joy and prepare for exaltation, for you are blessed among the saints and your everlasting glory has been prepared!”

Abounding in blessings and perfect in wisdom, justly ruling the inhabitants of the wilderness, St. Grigol of Khandzta reposed on October 5, 861, at the age of 102. In accordance with his will, he was buried among his brothers at Khandzta Monastery.

From “Lives of the Georgian Saints” Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze

Read Full Post »

The Feast in Honour of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord and the Life-Giving Pillar is the temple feast of the Mtskheta patriarchal cathedral in honour of the Twelve Holy Apostles, named the Svetitskhoveli ((სვეტიცხოვლის, which in translation means “Life-Giving Pillar”). According to the tradition of the Georgian Church, the Chiton (Greek word, in Latin “Tunic”) of the Lord – the seamless garment of the Saviour (Jn. 19: 23) – came to the ancient capital city of Georgia, Mtskheta, in the following manner.


Elioz of Mtskheta acquiring the Robe of the Lord

Eleazar (or Elioz), rabbi of the Mtskheta community of Jews, had resettled to Georgia from Jerusalem already by the year 70 A.D. Having received news from the Jerusalem high-priest Annas about the impending execution of Christ, he hastened to Jerusalem in the company of Longinus Carsnitus [or “carsnifex”, the Latin meaning “executioner”]. They became eye-witnesses to the Passion of the Lord and the casting of lots for His garment (Jn. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 [22]: 18).

At the moment when the All-Pure Body of the Lord was nailed to the Cross, the mother of Elioz, situated in Mtskheta, sensed the blows of the hammer in her heart and shuddered out of great fright. Having related to her daughter Sidonia about the crucifixion sufferings of the Saviour, guiltlessly given over unto death, the mother of Elioz then died. Elioz then acquired the Chiton from the soldier who by lots had won it, and he took it with him to Mtskheta.

Sidonia, meeting her brother Elioz in tears, told him about the death of their mother and her words just before her death. Elioz confirmed the words of their mother and he showed his sister the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord. Taking hold the Chiton, Righteous Sidonia kissed it all over, pressed it to her bosom and herewith fell down lifeless. No one, not even the emperor Aderk (2 B.C.-55 A.D.) was able to open the grasp of Sidonia nor take from her the Chiton. Righteous Sidonia (Comm. 1 October) was secretly consigned to earth by her brother Elioz in the imperial garden at Mtskheta.


The miracle of the Life-giving Pillar

The holy Saint Nino, Equal-to-the-Apostle, stold about this to the Kartalin Hebrew highpriest Aviathar – a descendent of rabbi Elioz. He came to believe in Christ, having listened to the explanation by Saint Nino of the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah, and how these prophecies were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Georgian king Mirian (265-342) was also converted by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Nino, and he decided to build a Christian church on the spot whereupon the Chiton of the Lord was situated. A massive cedar tree had grown on the grave of Sidonia, which they sawed, and wanted to use its truck as a foundation pillar for supporting the main cupola of the church, but they were not able to raise it upright. Saint Nino prayed all night for Divine help. and visions were manifest to her, in which were revealed the historical courses of destiny of Georgia.

At dawn an Angel of the Lord approached the pillar and raised it in the air. The pillar, shining with a wondrous light, was elevated and then lowered in the air, until it was set over its base. From the stump of the cedar issued a fragrant myrh. Thus the Angel of the Lord indicated the place, where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord was concealed in the ground. This event, witnessed to by many of the inhabitants of Mtskheta, is depicted on the icon, “Glorification of the Georgian Church”. Afterwards at the place of the wooden church was erected the majestic stone cathedral of Svetitskhoveli. The Life-Giving Pillar, from which occurred many healings, has at present a stone four-cornered covering and is crowned by a light-loft, not touching the arch of the cathedral. The Pillar is positioned in the Sveti-Tskhoveli cathedral with a model alongside of the Church of the Sepulchre of the Lord at Jerusalem.

From “Lives of the Saints”, Saint John of Kronstadt Press

Read Full Post »

As is well known, the Georgian Church is a strong promoter of environmentally sound land use, and the Church has promoted Organic Farming techniques for many years. Presently, there is a trend in winemaking towards Biodynamic methodologies; while promoting itself as “More organic than Organic”, the occult roots of the practice are disturbing. Consumers should be aware of how their food and drink is made, and Christian vineyard operators should  resist pressure to engage in practices contrary to their beliefs.

Is Biodynamic Farming Vegan?

July 20, 2012

By

Only if you discount the ritual slaughter and incineration of animals.

Biodynamic farming is seen as the ‘more organic than organic’ method of sustainable farming.

It is not. Biodynamics is the method of farming proposed by occultist Rudolf Steiner, who created the crypto-religious movement of Anthroposophy based his clairvoyant visions and a racist view of human development, reincarnation, karma, astrology, homeopathy and gnomes.

People who want to get into  progressive farming these days are driven by concerns of health, taste, animal welfare and low environmental impact.

In contrast, the philosophy of Biodynamic farming is driven by concerns of working with the spirit world and life forces in order to produce food with good karma. If it has good environmental consequences then it is accidental.

Nonetheless, Biodynamics is presented by its marketing arm, the Demeter Association as ‘actively contributing toward the shaping of a future worth living for, creating healthy foods of distinctive tastes, truly “Foods with Character”‘

But just as with the educational and banking Anthroposophical wings, Biodynamics tends not to be upfront about its beliefs, aims and methods.

I have in front of me the 2012 Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar. It is not the sort of gardening book you might expect. It mostly consists of astrological tables, showing the positions of the Moon, stars and planets and telling me when it is allowable to plant and harvest various crops depending on these heavenly variables.

For those of us in the UK wondering about out awful rainy weather, we are told that August will have Mars and Saturn remaining in the ‘cold constellation of Virgo’, Mercury is supported by the watery influence of Uranus in Pisces, and that “Pluto in Sagittarius may bring some warmth”. And August is a good month ‘ash ants in houses’. That is, burn the little buggers to prevent more coming back.

A central feature of Biodynamics is the creation of various ‘dynamized’ manures. These are ritualised recipes, often using animal skulls, dung, and other ingredients buried for months, to create magical concoctions that capture the life forces needed for plants. My Almanac tells me in great detailhow to create ‘Barrel Preparation’ from cow manure, eggshells, sand and a wooden barrel. I have to dowse where to place my barrel so that it does not lie on a force field and make sure I mix it all up when the Moon is in Leo or Virgo. Ten litres of the resultant gunk can have magical properties on half an acre of land – as long as I stir within a cylindrical container with proportions of 2 to 3 in width and height and spray at dusk.

Naturally, this barmpottery has been embraced with gusto by Prince Charles at his Highgrove estate and Home Farm. Biodynamics was also embraced at Dachau during the Second World War. Indeed, the academic, Peter Staudenmaier, has written about how Steiner’s environmental beliefs were not some kind of humanist worldview, but were actually blatantly racist and  ”suitable only for a spiritually enlightened elite”.  Anthroposophy, according to  Staudenmaier, “had a powerful practical influence on the so-called “green wing” of German fascism”, and that the “mix of mysticism, romanticism, and pseudo-environmentalist concerns propagated by Steiner  brought anthroposophy into close ideological contact with a grouping that has been described as the green wing of National Socialism”.

Biodynamics only still carries the associations of being “progressive, tolerant, enlightened and ecological” because Anthroposophic philosophy is highly esoteric and its true origins and doctrines are only discussed within an inner initiated group. Outside of the blue card carrying “First Class” members of Anthroposophy, all such associations with its darker roots are systematically obfuscated.

So, to answer my question, is Biodynamics vegan? Although biodynamic farming covers both livestock and agricultural practice, use of animal products on plants happens in quite a bizarre way. Steiner was heavily influenced by that other barmpot, the German doctor who invented homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemnan. Homeopathy says that ‘like cures like’. A poison that can give you a headache, can cure a headache if given in micropscopic, or even non-existant, doses. Steiner adapted this to getting rid of ‘disease’ on the farm. By sacrificing and burning pests and then adding them to the fields, you can eliminate everything from slugs to mice.

 

So, what are we to make of Biodynamics? If you are interested in animal welfare, low-impact and progressive farming, and care that approaches should be basedon reason and evidence, then Biodynamics should not be for you. Its chief concerns are spiritual, religious and romantic. If its practices converge with progressive farm practices, then that is by accident. Most importantly, Biodynamics is based on the infallible clairvoyant revelations of Rudolf Steiner, and as such, is immutable to change as new ideas come along. That is the exact opposite of sustainability.

Organic farming practices share a common heritage with Biodynamics. Most absurd beliefs have been shed, although, most noticeably, a commitement to using homeopathy on animals still remains. That makes it unethical as far as I am concerned. But more insidiously, the romantic notion of being spiritually connected with nature and the rejection of science still haunts modern Organic farming.

As Monty Don,  President of the Soil Association, said to Simon Singh recently in response to some straightforward questions about yields from Organic farms and the justification for using homeopathy,

If that looks as though I am dodging your questions then so be it – and in a way I am because they are not sensible out of the context of the much bigger picture and I hate the idea of point scoring on something as important as this.

Having known you for nigh on 20 years – albeit with great gaps – I suspect that you are as temperamentally and intellectually suited to immersing yourself in organic, holistic agriculture as I am in particle physics. Your mind just doesnt work that way. That does not make you wrong or me right. Well,OK, I am just being polite but it doesn’t make you bad for being wrong…

His response carries the esotericism and elitism instilled by Steiner in his Biodynamic farmers. Somehow, if you want to understand the justifications for organic practices, you have to see ‘beyond science’. This is straight Steinerism and his “Occult Science” – the belief that science has to be extended through special elitist insights, available to the few, and unquestionable by the uninitiated.

From The Quackometer

Read Full Post »

From Alexis Trader’s very interesting blog on the interaction between Eastern Christian teachings and modern cognitive therapy. Given the stressful time many in Georgia have been through, and an uncertain year to come, this ancient remedy for despondency is worth reading.

Ancient Christian Wisdom

In the day-to-day struggle, it is easy to fall into a rut in which further effort seems pointless and the reasons for going through the motions become unclear to the person making them. The fathers knew full well that such an experience could take the life out of the struggler and leave the soul bored, despondent, and thoroughly unmotivated. At times like this, the soul needs to be shaken up or drenched in cold water: anything to wake herself up from such a malignant slumber. Saint Paisius Velichkovsky, the father so instrumental in rekindling hesychasm in the Slavic lands, offered an interesting approach that would be called by modern cognitive therapists an induced imagery technique. The contents, however, are quite different from contemporary techniques to get over a feared crisis. The aim is, in fact, to bring on a saving crisis through a fearless look at the reality of death…

View original post 684 more words

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: