May God grant you all peace, grace, love, mercy, and a sinless day. God Bless!
May God grant you all peace, grace, love, mercy, and a sinless day. God Bless!
“For Faith is the beginning and the end is love, and God is the two of them brought into unity. After these comes whatever else makes up a Christian gentleman.” –St. Ignatius of Antioch
A close friend and brother of our blog has recently asked us if there were any converts to the Catholic Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. After taking a look at history, we have found a significant amount of converts. That being said, we can only name a few because of the high percentage of converts to the Catholic Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. Considering that one of our admins are Russian Catholic, we would like to dedicate this post to him. Let’s take a look at the inspiring souls that have even risked being persecuted for the Church because of their conversion.
1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Abrikosov
Vladimir Abrikosov, following his wife a year later, converted to the Catholic Church in 1909 after leaving the Russian Orthodox Church. On May 29th of 1917, Vladimir Abrikosov had taken part in the council of the Russian Greek Catholic Church and was ordained a priest of the Church in the Byzantine Rite by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Following his ordination, he was appointed as the rector of the local Moscow Greek Catholic parish and the head of the Dominicans within the area. In 1920 – 1922, Father Abrikosov has held a meeting in which has taken place between both Catholic and Russian Orthodox representatives within his home.
By the grace of God and the influence of Father Vladimir, he has converted former Russian Orthodox Dmitriy Vladimirovich Kuz’min-Karavaev to the Catholic Church, causing Father Vladimir to be arrested and threatened with a sentence to death by the Russian government due to it being “counter revolutionary” on the 17th of August, 1922.
After the punishment has been examined by the government officials, it was later terminated and Father Vladimir was instead sentenced with perpetual exile, causing him to be expelled from Russia, his native land. Even though he was expelled from the land of Russia, he has built contacts with Russian Catholic officials within Rome due to the persecution of Greek Catholics within the Soviet Union. In the name year, Father Vladimir has obtained an audience within the presence of His Holiness Pope Pius XI to discuss the situation of the Russian Catholic Church in regards to its persecution.
Later, Father Vladimir was recognized as an official member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and procurator of the Russian Exarchate. However, he was unfortunately slandered by a Russian officer, that being Baron Igor von der Launitz, in whom was hostile towards Roman Catholic Bishop Michel d’Herbigny.
After Launitz’s extradition from Italy, Abrikosov continued his work to abolish the Russian Exarchate when he left Rome to establish himself in Paris. from the contacts with Russian immigrants, Abrikosov remained in solitude. He died on 22 July 1966.
2. Igor Akulov
Ignor Akulov was born to a family of Russian orthodox peasant farmers in the year of 1897 on April 13th. He graduated from a technical high school and later became a telephone clerk at the Moscow Saint Petersburg’s Railway. During the Russian Civil War, he served the Red Army as a non combative soldier. On July 2, 1921 he was tonsured as a Russian orthodox monk with the name of Brother Epiphany. After meeting with Exarch Leonid Fyodorov, and under his influence Brother Epiphany Akulov began attending Eastern Rite Catholic Liturgies, and in the summer of 1922 was received into the Russian Catholic Church. In 1921, he was ordained as an Eastern Catholic priest by Archbishop Jan Cieplak. After August 1922 he was the Pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Descent of the Holy Ghost in Petrograd.
After the closings of the Catholic Churches within his area, he secretly served the church in his apartment. On November 23, he was arrested along with other priests, however, not within the same area. He was accused of the Catholic counter-revolutionary organization. 19 May 1924 was sentenced to 10 years in prison, was in political prison near the Irkutsk. In 1927 released early and sent into exile. In 1933 he was freed from exile, he served in various churches in St. Petersburg. Akulov was a good preacher, preached in Russian.
In 1935, he was again arrested for a short time. On the 26th July, 1937 he was arrested, sentenced to death on August 25, 1937, and was later executed on August 27. He was buried at Levashovo Mass Grave in St. Petersburg.
3. Nikolai Alexandrov
Nikolai Alexandrov was born in 1884 in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow Technical School as an engineer-technologist. From 1912 he worked in Germany as an engineer in the company of Siemens-Schuckert. While in Germany Alexandrov converted to Catholicism from Russian Orthodoxy, his religion by birth.
Since July 1913, after his return to Moscow he worked in city government, with the 1914 charge tramway workshops, with 1917 worked as an engineer. Nikolai Abrikosov joined to the Greek Catholic community, helped the abbot came to his father, Vladimir Abrikosov. In 1918 he was arrested “in the case of the White Guard organization”, but was released on December 27. After that he became a monk taken the name Peter.
In August 1921, on the recommendation of Vladimir Abrikosov, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Jan Cieplak, and was later appointed deputy by Exarch Leonid Fyodorov in the event of his arrest. Since September 1922 after his father, Vladimir Abrikosov was sent abroad, headed the Moscow community of Greek-Catholics.
He was arrested in Moscow in the night from 12 to 13 November 1923 for grouping business of Russian Catholics. On May 19, 1924 he was sentenced under articles 61 and 66 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to 10 years in prison. Sent to Solovki prison camp, first on the island of Conde, in the summer of 1925 Abrikosov was transferred to the central island.
In the spring of 1929, together with Leonid Fyodorov made Easter liturgy, which led to his transfer to the Anzer island. Soon he was sent to Belbaltlag the station Bear Mountain. In 1934 he was released but the ban stay in 6 major cities and border areas within 3 years. Settled in Dmitrov, Moscow region, Abrikosov worked as an engineer, however performed secret services in his apartment. In 1935 he was arrested in Dmitrov, and on December 29 was sentenced to 5 years in labor camps. Sent to the Solovki prison camp, Father Nikolai Abrikosov died here on 29 May 1936.
For more information on Russian orthodox converts to Catholicism: http://rumkatkilise.org/necplus.htm
It is commonly argued by Protestants that the Catholic Church teaches to worship saints and images of them. Even though this is commonly claimed, what does the Catholic Church really teach in this regard?
1. The Church teaches that the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) alone is God.
The first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) in regards to the belief in God, the Trinity: I believe in one God, the Father almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary”
• Catechism of the Catholic Church (234) :
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”.56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.
• St. Ignatius of Antioch: “The prophets, who were men of God, lived according to Jesus Christ. For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by his grace to convince the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is his Word proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to him that sent him” (Letter to the Magnesians 8:1 [A.D. 110]).
• The ancient Creed of St Athanasius:
“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.”
• Irenaeus “For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).
What does the Catholic Church teach in regards to images of God, the Theotokos, and Mary?
The Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the worship of saints and images is blasphemy and heresy, for the Trinity alone is God.
• The Second Council of Nicaea (787) addressed the heresy of iconoclasm. This was the heresy that taught images of God and the saints must be smashed since they were allegedly worshiped by Catholics. (Which is false and would be blasphemy and heresy.)
“[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”
• The Catechism of the Council of Trent, page 227, teaches that idolatry is of the devil. In objection to the accusation that Catholics worship images, it states that this is committed when:
“As far as this Commandment is concerned, it is clear that there are two chief ways in which God’s majesty can be seriously outraged. The first way is by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scriptures frequently condemn.”
• The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in regards to idolatry: “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).
The Catholic Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside of her.
You may be wondering why the Church would teach this very truth since there are many other self professed Christian sects. However, the question remains; which Church did Jesus establish and where is it today; considering that all churches outside the Catholic Church were established by men?
These sects (which happen to be 35,000+) all disagree with each other upon doctrine because of their personal interpretation of scripture, something that is against scripture itself. (2 Peter 1:20). Scripture makes it clear that there is “one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) What other Church, besides the Catholic Church, has been united in faith ever since 33 A.D.? What other church upholds the ancient faith? None.
First things first, let it be advised that this does not mean that all you have to do is be a member of the Church and you are saved. It’s quite the contrary since we must work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) and always repent when we sin. (Lk 13:3)
It means that the Church is necessary for salvation since she: 1. Is the true church. (1 Cor 3:15) 2. Has access to the sacraments in which are necessary for salvation. (Baptism: Mk 16:16, Eucharist: Jn 6:54, Confession: John 20:21-23 & Lk 13:3) 3. Is founded by Christ (Matt 16:18) in where Jesus is the Head (Col 1:18) (note, the church doesn’t teach that the Pope is the head, but the visible head.) and is His very body. Romans 12:5 “In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.”
1 Corinthians 10:17 “Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”
Note what these scriptures say: One Body. If the Church is One Body united in One Lord, One Faith, & One Baptism, who’s to say there’s salvation outside of her since there isn’t salvation outside of Christ Himself? (Acts 4:12)
To say that there are many churches of God is to say that there are many bodies of Christ. This is unbiblical since there is only One Body, UNO! To say there are many bodies is to insist that Christ is not a singular being, a blasphemous heresy insisted by the Nestorians. It also suggests that there are many bodies of Christ, again, a blasphemous heresy.
One interesting thing to note is that the bible never speaks upon there being multiple churches, but a Church. That’s right. This Church alone has the truth, and it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) since Christ is the Truth (John 1:14,John 1:17, John 14:6); and Truth is found within His Church alone. ( 1 Tim 3:15)
With that in mind, He established a Singular Church upon Peter the Rock (Matt 16:18). The Catholic Church is the only Church that can claim this because of the fact that no other church has complete lineage to the apostles, where as other churches were founded by men that teach heresy. (While the schismatic orthodox have apostolic succession, their religion was also founded by men, that being Photious and Michael Celuarius.)
As a kid, you may have been told the story of Noah’s ark. This ark is the very prefigurement of the Church since there was no salvation outside of it. Those who were outside of it perished. This is why she is referred to as the “Ark of Salvation”.
Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader but Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.”
Saint Peter Canisius (died A.D. 1597): “Outside of this communion – as outside of the ark of Noah – there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having received it, corrupted it; neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members…for the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother.” (Catechismi Latini et Germanici)
Since the Catholic Church is referred to as a boat, let me ask you one question. 1. During a storm or in the midsts of the sea, let’s say in the middle of the Atlantic for example, would you jump ship all because you do not like the captain? No, right? Would you also jump ship all because you disagree with Church teaching? Or because of the many sinners that are in her? To do so is to put oneself in danger.
“Then the sailors tried to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.” (Acts 27:30-31)
Does this mean that non Catholics cannot be saved? No. The bible, Magisterium & early church fathers teach that those who are not aware that the Church is the true church, but try to obey God’s natural law and live a holy life, can possibly be saved.
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”(CCC 846)
Jesus’ own teaching about those who innocently reject him: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22).
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn 9:41). Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:
“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:14-15)
With head uncovered, approach the priest.
Facing the icon of Christ or, if one is not available, the Gospel book and the cross:
Cross yourself twice.
Kiss the Gospel book and the cross.
Cross yourself a third time.
Penitent: I, a sinner, confess to Almighty God, the Lord, One in the Holy Trinity; to the Immaculate Virgin, the Mother of God, to Saint N. my patron saint, to all the Saints, and to you, my spiritual father, all my sins:
Here list all your sins.
Penitent: For these sins, and for all my sins which I cannot remember, I am truly sorry because I have offended God who is good.
I sincerely repent and I promise, with the help of God, to better my way of life.
And so, I ask you, my spiritual father, for saving penance and absolution.
(If you are not already doing so, kneel.)
Prayer of Absolution
The priest may place his epitrachelion (stole) over your head and will make the sign of the cross on your head.
Priest: May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, by the grace and mercies of His love for us, pardon you, my child, N., all your faults, and I, an unworthy priest, by His authority given me, pardon and absolve you of all your sins, in the name of the ✚Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
After the priest has spoken to you and given absolution,
get up and cross yourself twice;
kiss the Gospel book and cross;
cross yourself a third time and bow.
Then turn toward the priest, bow to him, saying, “Thank you, Father,”
kiss the end of the epitrachelion (stole) which he is wearing,
and go to your place.
There, kneel down, say your penance, and thank God in your own words for His great mercy.
Then, go in peace.
Another Short Form of Confession in the Byzantine Churches
(For those who are familiar with the Roman Catholic rite)
Penitent: Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been [how long] since my last confession.
Here confess your sins.
Receive any counsel or penance offered.
Crossing yourself after each declaration, say:
Penitent: God, be merciful to me, a sinner. ✚
Penitent: God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. ✚
Penitent: I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord. ✚
The priest then says the prayer of absolution.
– Text adapted with appreciation from The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship by the Met. Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Ottawa, 2004).
While it is true that we are the bridge between the Catholic Church and the many divided churches of the East in whom sadly happen to be in schism with Rome; and while it is also true that we are Orthodox (because of our profession of the Catholic Faith); it must be brought to our attention that there is a Catholic identity problem within the East just as there is within the West.
This is because there is a misconception of who we as Eastern Catholics are; whether we be Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, Syro Malabar etc.
Among many beloved Eastern Catholics of good will, there happens to be an emotional attachment to the Eastern Orthodox Church because of its similarities in regards to theology and liturgical rites.
Having encountered many Eastern Catholics, it is not uncommon to hear that the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches are equivalent to the Catholic Church because of the validity of the 7 sacraments, the veneration of saints etc.
Even though these separated churches have valid sacraments and many similarities with the Church, it must be remembered that they are separated for a reason – that is – because of their bitter rejection of the deposit of faith in regards to submission to Peter, the Pope.
“You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all” (Optatus, The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).
With that in mind, we here at HolySynergy must note that many Eastern Catholics have died at the hands of schismatics and communists because of this very key doctrine. Being that they are our ancestors as martyrs and saints of the church; insisting that the Orthodox are the same Church as the Catholic Church, or at least equivalent, is a slap in the face to these very saints.
Not only is it a slap in the face to these saints, it is also a heresy to insist that the true Church of Christ can be found in any other communion besides the Catholic Church.Let’s take a look at these very brave, pious, reverent, and holy martyrs of the Catholic East.
1. The Pratulin Martyrs.
“The Pratulin Martyrs were a group of 13 Greek Catholic believers killed by the Imperial Russian Army on January 24, 1874, in the village of Pratulin, near Biała Podlaska. Following the secularization and de-legalization of the Eparchy of Chełm, the Russian authorities forcibly subdued all Belorussian Catholics and their churches to the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a protest against the Russification and confiscation of the church, the Greek Catholic community gathered in front of the church, but were fired upon by the Russian forces, killing 13 of the protesters. The Ruthenian Catholic Church has erected a shrine to their memory there.” (Wikipedia, The Pratulin Martyrs.)
These very soldiers of Christ were recognized by Pope John Paul II and beatified on October 6, 1996.
2. Bishop Hopko
Bishop Hopko was an eparch of the Greek Catholic Church. Since Czechoslovakia was taken over by the Communists, the Greek Catholic Church was persecuted and abolished.
As a result, the Russian Orthodox Church was granted permission to remain in existence within Czechoslovakia because of its previous affiliation with the Communist state.
Bishop Hopko was arrested on 28 April 1950 and kept on starvation rations and tortured for weeks. Eventually he was tried and sentenced to 15 years for the “subversive activity” of staying loyal to Rome.
He was repeatedly transferred from prison to prison. His health, both physical and emotional later failed.
In 1964, he was transferred to an old age home. Unfortunately, he never recovered his health. Hopko died in Presov at age 72 on 23 July 1976. On 14 September 2003 Pope John Paul II beatified him at a ceremony in Bratislava, Slovakia.
3. Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky
Born in the year 1884 of Western Ukraine, Blessed Nicholas was the eldest of 9 children. Ever since he was very young, he had a desire to be ordained to the priesthood. At 18, he was sent to study by his bishop to study at the Ukrainian college of Rome. Four years after ordination, he had a desire to live as a monastic after the Latin Rite Redemptorists established a mission in Ukraine . Being attracted to the life of the Redemptorists, he entered the religious order in 1919.
In 1934 the Soviet army began to invade western Ukraine, causing the Redemptorists to flee to Lviv. In 1944, the Soviets invaded a second time. The following year all the Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops were placed under arrest as part of the Soviet plan to suppress the Church and transfer its property to the state-sanctioned Orthodox Church.
During his time in prison Bishop Mykolay endured frequent violent interrogations. He was charged with collaborating with being an agent of a foreign power i.e. the Vatican; as a result he was sentenced to hard labour.
Even though he was released in 1956, his health was very poor. The prison authorities released him in order that he die elsewhere. While he later recovered, he has entered heaven in 1959. On his pastoral visit to Ukraine, Pope John Paul II beatified him on October 27, 2001.
4. Bishop Nykyta Budka
Bishop Budka was appointed appointed bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada and titular bishop of Patara on July 15, 1912 by Pope Pius XI, and was consecrated (ordained a bishop) on October 14 of that year.
Bishop Budka was the first Eastern Catholic bishop with full jurisdiction within the New World, considering that he was born in Ukraine. After returning to the now Polish controlled Galicia (which was then Soviet territory), he bravely opposed the communist government because of its requirement that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church must separate from communion with the Pope.
On April 11 1945, he was sentenced to prison with many other bishops of the Church. He was charged with teaching in an underground seminary, conducting a memorial service for the victims of the Soviet occupation of Galicia in 1939, and campaigning for the secession of Ukraine for the Soviet Union.
Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, he was sent to Kazakhstan to serve his sentence. He died in the Gulag on September 28, 1949 form what Soviet officials said was a heart attack. martyr on June 27, 2001, in a Byzatine rite ceremony by Pope John Paul II in Lviv.
5. Eparch Theodore Romzha
Bishop Romzha was a bishop of the Ruthentian Greek Catholic Church. Because of his opposition to convert to the Orthodox Church and refuse schism with the Pope of Rome, the Soviet Red Army has martyred him after beating him, which later caused him to be hospitalized, and poisoning him after hiring a nurse to inject him with curare because of his quick recovery. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on July 27, 2001.
6. His Eminent Beatitude Josyf Slipyj
Patriarch Slipyj was the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and a cardinal. Even though he was not a martyr, he along with the UGCC rejected to loose communion with the Pope regardless of what the communist party of Ukraine insisted. As a result, he was imprisoned with hard labour for eight years. The Soviets have later taken control of the UGCC within Lviv and later revoked the union breast with Rome and was forcibly “rejoined” to the schismatic Russian Orthodox Church.
7. Leonid Feodorov
Leonid Feodorov, a Catholic convert, was a Exarch (Patriarch) of the Russian Greek Catholic Church.
Although Leonid had originally promised to adopt the Latin Rite, while studying in the Jesuit seminary at Anagni, Leonid came to believe that it was his duty to remain faithful to the liturgy and customs of the Christian East. With the full permission and encouragement of Pope St. Pius X, Leonid transferred to the Russian Catholic Church.
Because of his pious submit to the Pope, the communist government has imprisoned him. On March 7, 1935, he died due to the rigorous of his imprisonment.
8. Pavel Peter Gojdič
Blessed Gohdič was a Basilian Monk and Bishop of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Prešov, Slovakia. Because of his rejection to submit Greek Catholics to the Russian Orthodox Church, as insisted by the Communist party, he was tortured. Later, the Communists have given him the infamous offer that if he were to leave the church, they would appoint him the patriarch of the a Orthodox Church of Slovakia.
He piously rejected to loose communion with the Pope and to convert to the schismatic church, causing him to suffer even more persecution. He died of terminal cancer in the prison hospital of Leopoldov Prison in 1960, on his 72nd birthday. He was beatified on 4 November 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
Let us close this post with a few quotes from the Popes.
“…for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.”
-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical “Mortalium Animos”
While many people are familiar with the Roman Catholic Rosary, not as many are aware of the Eastern Christian Chotki. It is a very ancient form of prayer that predates the rosary dating back to at least the 5th century. Monks of old said the prayer all day long in this manner…
“Lord, make haste to help me. Lord make speed to save me.”
The prayer rope, (Chotki/ Komboskini), consists of 25, 33, 50, 100 or 103 beads or knots and is used to focus one’s thoughts on the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart”. When not in use the chotki can be wrapped around the left wrist like a bracelet but never as a decoration, as a reminder to pray without ceasing.
In addition to private recitation, the Jesus Prayer may be said standing, with bows, or prostrations. The main focus is to pray without ceasing. When using the Chotki, it is customary to begin with making the sign of the cross.
The prayer ropes of 100 and 103 knots are carried with you. The idea of the Jesus Prayer comes from St. Paul’s admonition to … “pray always” or “pray without ceasing”. Many people who pray this prayer synchronize the phrases with their breathing and with practice; it becomes a constant prayer while awake.
The traditional prayer of the prayer beads is an adaptation of the prayer of the publican who cried out, “O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (LK 18: 9-14) The Lord said that this man went home from the Temple justified.
Early Christians made several variations of this prayer, which became known as the Jesus Prayer. It has come down to us in three forms:
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, by the prayers of Our Lady, have mercy on me.
The Jesus Prayer is said on each bead.
For special intentions, you substitute the name of another who is ill or in need of special prayers.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on … (the intention)
It is appropriate to add a prayer to the Mother of God while praying. (i.e., Through the Prayers of the Mother of God, O Saviour, save us; Mother of God, intercede for us.)
When this prayer becomes somewhat automatic, the next step is to move the prayer from the head to the heart. One does this by trying to focus the prayer on the heart. The prayer itself is an act of humility calling out for God’s merciful help.
The tassel at the end is to dry one’s tears.
Blessed and Holy Pentecost! The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and the Theotokos. In the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church, it is remembered through the lens of the final revelation of the dogma of the Trinity, to which most hymns of the holy office refer.
The Bible relates: “When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven… and something appeared to them like tongues of fire… They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and begun to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Pentecost is also known as the feast of the foundation of the Church, of the beginning of her mission to the world, and of Christian unity within the diversity of nations, languages, and cultures.
Todays Troparion (Tone 8) cries out to the Lord reciting:
Blessed are You, O Christ, our God, for you have given us wise fishermen, after sending them Your Holy Spirit, You caught all the world through them, O Loving Master, glory to You!
Todays Kondakion (Tone 8):
When once You confused the tongues, You divided the nations, O Mighty One. When You bestowed the tongues of fire, You called all to unity, therefore with one voice, we glorify the Holy Spirit!
1st Sidalen Hymn (Tone 4):
Come, O Faithful, let us celebrate the feast of the Fiftieth day; the day on which the pre-ordained promised is fulfilled! The day when the Comforter descends upon the earth in tongues of Fire; the day of the disciples’ enlightenment! They are revealed as initiated into the heavenly Mysteries, for truly the light of the Comforter has illumined the world.
– In the Second Sidalen, i.e. the Hymns following the 2nd Reading from the Book of Psalms, the Spirit’s descent is likened to a fountain whose waters gush down to the earth rather than up from the ground. The flames are compared with the Divine Wind (literally Spirit) that saved the three youths Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace of Nebudchadmezaar’s Babylon (see Book of Daniel, chapter 3.) The youths were condemned to death for worshipping the One True God rather than to idols such as the golden statue. It is the same Divine Wind which accompanied the appearance of the Son of God, through Whom the Spirit preserved from burning but brought a cool dew of life.
2nd Sidalen Hymn (Tone 4):
The fountain of the Spirit rushes down to earth, mystically divided into flaming streams, both refreshing and enlightening the Apostles; the fire became for them a cloud of dew, raining enlightenment upon them. From them we have received grace by fire and water, for truly the light of the Comforter has illumined the world. Extol, O my soul, extol the One God in Trinity of Persons!
– Fact: In Ukrainian, the feast is called “Zeleni Svyata” or “Green Holidays.” The Church and the homes of the faithful are decorated throughout with green branches and flowers, signifying the new life conferred upon us by the life-creating Spirit.
Due to the fall of the world as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s Commands, we live in a world in where God is challenged. Instead of faith by hearing, man rather have faith by sight. Man’s logic is sadly based upon a mindset that grasps materialism rather than the supernatural.
Unfortunately; those within the Church throughout the centuries began questioning the dogmas of the Church due to their lack of faith and not being able to physically see truth, therefore the rising of heresies. A good example of this is the common rejection of The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Even though fingers are commonly pointed at the Protestant congregations in regards to the denial of the real presence, we must go back to the 5th century in where the Eucharist was also challenged by even those within the Church, something that is sadly making a come back.
St Abbot Daniel the Pharanite stated: “Our Father Abba Arsenius told us of an inhabitant of Scetis, of notable life and of simple faith; through his naivete” he was deceived and said, “The bread which we receive is not really the body of Christ, but a symbol.”
Two old men having learnt that he had uttered this saying, knowing that he was outstanding in his way of life, knew that he had not spoken through malice, but through simplicity. So they came to find him and said, “Father, we have heard a proposition contrary to the faith on the part of someone who says that the bread which we receive is not really the body of Christ, but a symbol.”
The old man said, “It is I who have said that.” Then the old men exhorted him saying, “Do not hold this position, Father, but hold one in conformity with that which the catholic Church has given us. We believe, for our part, that the bread itself is the body of Christ and that the cup itself is his blood and this in all truth and not a symbol.
But as in the beginning, God formed man in his image, taking the dust of the earth, without anyone being able to say that it is not the image of God, even though it is not seen to be so; thus it is with the bread of which he said that it is his body; and so we believe that it is really the body of Christ.” The old man said to them, “As long as I have not been persuaded by the thing itself, I shall not be fully convinced.”
So they said, “Let us pray God about this mystery throughout the whole of this week and we believe that God will reveal it to us.” The old man received this saying with joy and he prayed in these words, “Lord, you know that it is not through malice that I do not believe and so that I may not err through ignorance, reveal this mystery to me, Lord Jesus Christ.” The old men returned to their cells and they also prayed God, saying,
“Lord Jesus Christ, reveal this mystery to the old man, that he may believe and not lose his reward.” God heard both the prayers. At the end of the week they came to church on Sunday and sat all three on the same mat, the old man in the middle. Then their eyes were opened and when the bread was placed on the holy table, there appeared as it were a little child to these three alone. And when the priest put out his hand to break the bread, behold an angel descended from heaven with a sword and poured the child’s blood into the chalice. When the priest cut the bread into small pieces, the angel also cut the child in pieces.
When they drew near to receive the sacred elements the old man alone received a morsel of bloody flesh. Seeing this he was afraid and cried out, “Lord, I believe that this bread is your flesh and this chalice your blood.” Immediately the flesh, which he held in his hand, became bread, according to the mystery and he took it, giving thanks to God. Then the old men said to him,
“God knows human nature and that man cannot eat raw flesh and that is why he has changed his body into bread and his blood into wine, for those who receive it in faith.” Then they gave thanks to God for the old man, because he had allowed him not to lose the reward of his labour. So all three returned with joy to their own cells.’