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To Be Black And Orthodox: Part Of My Story

Posted by addisethiopia on July 12, 2017

I have a friend who is considering becoming an Orthodox Christian. She is African-American and is concerned that by joining the Orthodox Church that she would be turning her back on black culture. While she likes everything about the ancient faith, she notices the lack of Negro spirituals and the preaching style of the church we grew up in. Also, except for me, I am the only native black American in the parish. While she is used to being the only black in some circles in her upbringing, that she would be a little more comfortable making the same plunge that I did if she saw more of us in the same pool. How is it possible to maintain a strong black identity in this white church?

As I have written in a previous article, the Orthodox Church is the white church that is not. Much of its spirituality comes from the teachings of the Desert Fathers of the Nile Valley. It is not uncommon for Eastern European monks and nuns to trace their ascetic practices back to St. Anthony of Egypt or St. Moses of Ethiopia. St. Athanasius, who was described by his rivals as a black dwarf, is the acknowledged hero of the First Ecumenical Council which underlined the true doctrine of the pre-existence of Jesus Christ. This saint would go on to be Bishop of Alexandria and all Africa and compile the books of the New Testament in 367 AD and the New Testament was officially canonized in a conference in Carthage 30 years later. Almost no White Anglo-Saxon Protestant church in this country would admit to such things. What saddens me is that very few, if any, African-American Protestant churches teach these things on a regular basis.

Also, the whites from Eastern Europe had nothing to do with the chattel slavery of our ancestors nor established the Jim Crow laws. Greeks and Serbs were slaves to the Ottoman Turks up until the early 1800’s. Russian monks defended the humanity and rights of Native Alaskans and helped push for the liberation of serfs (semi-slaves) in their own nation. Arabs, Lebanese, and Syrians do not consider themselves to be white. As for the Egyptians and Ethiopians, they certainly aren’t white. Thus, for a black American to become an Orthodox Christian is to join a universal body of believers that are not defined by Thomas Jefferson’s assumed white supremacy and Finis Dake’s Biblical misinterpretations of black “inferiority.”

Being an Orthodox Christian, I see myself as transcending America’s ignorant defining wall of race and embracing the ancient sense of being both black and Christian. In my icon corner, I have Cyprian of Carthage, Moses the Ethiopian, John the Dwarf and other heralded saints of Africa. As well, I have a dark skinned Theotokos and Christ that was written in the Slavic tradition and the Kursk-Root Icon of the Theotokos which is one of the holiest images of the Russian Orthodox Church. The pale skinned Christ Pantocrator at the top of my corner is the 6th century icon from Africa’s Sinai Peninsula. But, there is an Ethiopian icon of the Nativity beside it. I reject the American tradition of iconoclasm as it lends itself to white supremacy. I fully embrace the Orthodox tradition of iconography as ours is the faith of all peoples from the very beginning. Of course, my Baptist upbringing is against “graven images” on biblical grounds. But, Orthodoxy Christianity also uses the bible to support the use of these “windows into heaven.” And the very first Orthodox Church I attended, St. Cyprian of Carthage in Richmond, I saw full sized icons of black saints and saw “white” people going up to, bowing before, and kissing them. Who’s interpretation should I trust; that of the ones who defended legal segregation and still maintains it by custom? Or, the multi-racial church leaders who came together in the eighth century who defined the proper place and use of holy images in the life of the Christian who knew no reason for skin color prejudice?

Being Orthodox, I am opposing the American Protestantism which ignores the history and wisdom of the African saints. Why should I not pray the words of St. Macarius the Great when Serbian school children have them in their prayer books? Why should I not seek guidance in the wisdom of St. Pachomius when Russian monks in West Virginia embrace the very lifestyle he taught? Oh don’t get me wrong; I honor my mother and father, rely on the strength of Harriet Tubman and David Walker, enjoy traditional black spiritual music, and have nothing against the Black Lives Matter fight against police brutality. But, any faith that teaches me that the African Saints don’t matter is a faith that does not teach black people the fullness of who they are in the eyes of God. The Orthodox maintain this Christian fullness with that of other holy men and women from Europe and the Near East. Fathers Seraphim Rose and Alexander Schmemann (two pillars of the Orthodox Church in the United States) frequently referred back to desert fathers in the formation of Christian worship and spiritual discipline as well as the monks of Mt. Athos or Valaam Monastery. Even in those hallowed places of contemplation, the African saints are highly revered. I see no reason why I shouldn’t follow suit.

Do I miss the form and style of African-American preaching? Sometimes I do. But, style without substance and sincerity is wasted. You take Dr. CAW Clarke, one of the greatest black preachers from back in the day. That man could “whoop” a sermon from the invocation to the benediction. But, his style was born out of the intense suffering of our people during the Jim Crow era that he lived in. Clark didn’t just “whoop,” but gave a lot of spiritual truth to his listeners. Too many preachers try to imitate his style not because of shared suffering, but out of the idea giving people what they like to hear. The same is true with the delivery style of Gardner C. Taylor (my biggest preaching influence). His slow and deliberate rise to a rousing crescendo of a shout was a reflection of the pain we suffer in this world rising to the hope and victory in the life of Christ. He did this with a theological mind second to none. While racism is still alive and well in this country, most black Christians have little or no idea what it is to have suffered like our parents and grandparents. We have lost the sense of humble suffering and reliance on God that they had as we are often too quick to protest the very slightest insult against us. Thank God the days of Jim Crow are (well, mostly) gone. But, without the sense of humble suffering and reliance on God for deliverance from this world and personal sin, our best Clarke and Gardner styles are mere mockeries.

Sadder still is the fact that so many black preachers today aren’t even trying to emulate these classic ministers. Way too often, modern preaching is dictated by whatever seems popular on “Christian” television. The mannerisms and styles of whatever preacher is amassing a great number of followers and generating the largest income is the patter that is being pedaled as “anointed preaching.” There is a great reliance on “Christianized” secular slogans to excite people to a point that some of the same things heard in a Friday or Saturday night dance club can be heard in a Sunday Morning sermon. “Turn around three times and give a ‘high five’ to your neighbor.” “Ain’t no party like a Holy Ghost party ’cause a Holy Ghost party don’t stop.” If the old mothers of the Baptist church I grew up in could rise from the grave and hear this sort of preaching, a lot of ministers would be getting whippings!

The same is true for black religious music. Our slave ancestors didn’t have the luxury of pianos. They clapped, stomped, and perhaps played a drum. The songs they made came out of a faith born in struggle with both the outer demons that oppressed them and the inner demons of sin. During segregation, that same sense of music made in a faith born out of struggle carried over on pianos and in some cases, other instruments (at least one branch of black Pentecostalism had horns). Contemporary Gospel, like that in white American Christian circles, is nothing more than a Christian label thrown on the secular music forms. What is heard on a Rhythm & Blues radio station is no different than the Gospel station. Some of the “liturgical dance” performed even in the morning worship in some churches is the same as seen in dance clubs. Instead of the church being a thermostat of Godly change in the souls of black Christians, it is too often a thermometer going along with whatever is going on for the sake of being “relevant” and keeping young folk in the church. Sadly enough, one of the reasons why youth and young adults leave and aren’t very active in the church (black or white) is that secular music and dance is a lot more professionally done and done with more talent than the entertainment that is in church.

I recognize the best of my African-American Christian heritage. Among my treasured icons of the saints are photos of people who contributed greatly to my spiritual development. My cousin Oppielee, Deacon Louise Kersey, was known for her godly wisdom and love for others. Alex and Zechariah Jones were uncles I never knew but were known as no-nonsense deacons at St. John’s Baptist Church. Deacon H. L. Mays was my shop teacher and a well-loved example of Christian manhood. My mentor in ministry and grandfather in law, Rev. Carter Wicks, took my narrow behind under his wing when it came to being a preacher and pastor. I am ever mindful of the road they paved for and the legacy they left me as I pray before them and the other icons every morning and evening. I kept the name I was given at birth when I was Chrismated into the Church out of respect for the two men whose legacy I will carry unto death. My Uncle John R. Thompson was a United States Marine when blacks weren’t supposed to be good enough to be Marines. After serving our nation in WWII, Johnny was known as a giving man who extended a hand of friendship to anyone who needed one. My father, John Robert, Sr., quietly broke color barriers as his aptitude test scores for AT&T technical trainees were among the highest in his entry class. Today, he is one of the most respected deacons in King William County for his wisdom and community service. I wasn’t asked to change my upbringing to become an Orthodox Christian. I didn’t.

But, my father also taught me not to follow what everyone else was doing for the sake of being like everyone else. So, I stand on his shoulders and those of Uncle Johnny. I am rooted in the faith of Dr. Clarke and Deacon Oppeliee. But, I have taken my African-American identity to the table where Moses the Black speaks with John Chrysostom. I stand with Ephrem the Syrian and Cyprian of Carthage. I take from the chalice of Ireland’s Patrick and Egypt’s Mary. Just as Malcolm X urged black Americans to look beyond the struggle of national Civil Rights and bring our struggles into the realm of worldwide human rights, I have brought my faith to the older and broader Church. I pray my friend will see this and, in God’s time and way, come home to Orthodoxy. I pray others will do likewise.

Source

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Holy Spirit: The Most Precious Gift

Posted by addisethiopia on June 3, 2012


This Sunday marks the high point in the Church’s post-Paschal celebrations. After proclaiming the Resurrection of Christ for the past several weeks, the Church has called our attention to several post-Resurrection appearances to underscore the reality of the risen Lord for the life of the Church.

Today marks the highpoint of those celebrations. Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the twelve disciples in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost. Why is this so important? Historically, Pentecost was the Jewish feast which celebrated the first fruits of the harvest. Every Jewish home celebrated God’s good gifts to them by giving the Lord a portion of their grain harvest, in anticipation of the full crop to come. It is simply a thank-you gift.

On this day the Church celebrates God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Much of the service is devoted to two things: the Trinity and the coming of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. There is so much to say on a day like today, but there is one truth that especially stands out that I would like to emphasize. It comes from a phrase we find repeated several times in the special hymns for today, which reads, “Verily, the fire of the Comforter has come and lit the world.”

Verily, the fire of the Comforter has come and lit the world. Let’s look at this a little closer. The comforter is the Holy Spirit, described by Jesus in John 14 when he said, “I will pray to the Father and he will give you another Helper, or Comforter, that he may abide with you forever: the Spirit of truth.”

That’s what the Holy Spirit does for us. He is sent by the Father, through the Son, and abides in us through his Holy Spirit. That’s where the Church gets its emphasis on the Trinity today. But the other lesson focuses on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus said:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.

Why did Jesus focus on the power of the Spirit’s presence in the life of the disciples? Simply because they needed it. Up to now they were shaky and timid people, for the most part. They were following Jesus, but the Jesus they followed died and rose from the dead, and now they did not know what to do except to wait for the Spirit, as Jesus told them to do.

And then, it happened. We are told in Acts 2:

When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat on each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with tongues, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.

And then, shortly after that:

Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea, let this be known to you. This is what was spoken by the Prophet Joel.”

Power, power, power. That’s one of the most important truths we learn from Pentecost. Christ gave his Holy Spirit to his followers to take his place on earth, and to empower them for Christian service. That’s what Peter was doing when he preached. Why is the power of the Holy Spirit so important to have?

The power of the Holy Spirit is important because he enables us to fulfill Christ’s demands. It is as simple as that. We simply cannot fulfill the Lord’s commands apart from the inner strength to obey them.

Every once in a while I meet people who tell me, “I have tried and tried to live the Christian life, but just cannot do it. I have this hang-up, and I just cannot get over it. I have tried hard, and, well, I just cannot do it. I cannot live, and I cannot obey, Jesus’ teachings, even though I have tried with all my heart.”

Have you ever felt like that? Have you tried living the Christian life and felt like giving up because you do not have the power to live it? If so, I have good news for you today. You are absolutely right. You have just discovered one of the most important truths you could ever learn about the Christian life. That truth is the truth that will set you free from all self-help and all the self-reliance that has made you so discouraged.

And what is that truth? It is the truth that only the Holy Spirit can give you the power to live as Jesus wants you to live. You cannot live by the power of your own sweat. On the contrary, the inner power for living the Christian life is summed up on this Day of Pentecost, and it is given in the words of Jesus, who declared, “Without me you can do nothing.”

And that is the good news of the Gospel.

Source: AncientFaithRadio

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Losing My Religion – Reformation To Blame?

Posted by addisethiopia on April 21, 2012

 

Belief in God is slowly declining in most countries around the world, according to a new poll, but the truest of the true believers can still be found in developing countries, Orthodox and Catholic societies.

The “Beliefs about God Across Time and Countries” report, released 18 April 2012 by researchers at the University of Chicago, found the Philippines to be the country with the highest proportion of believers, where 94 per cent of Filipinos said they were strong believers who had always believed. At the opposite end, at just 13 per cent, was the former East Germany, Religion News Service reports.

“The Philippines is both developing and Catholic,” said Tom W. Smith, who directs the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. “Religion, which is mainly Catholic, is very emotionally strong there.”

The report covered data from 30 countries that participated in at least two surveys in 1991, 1998 or 2008. In 29 of the 30 countries surveyed in 2008, belief increased with age: Belief in God was highest for those ages 68 or older (43 per cent), compared to 23 per cent of those younger than 28.

While overall belief in God has decreased in most parts of the world, three countries — Israel, Russia and Slovenia — saw increases. The report said religious belief had “slowly eroded” since the 1950s in most countries of the world.

The percentage of believers in the former East Germany is lower than anywhere else. Although, the after effects of the communist society in East Germany are still being felt all over Eastern Germany more than 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the main culprit of religious illiteracy there could only be found in the Reformation of Martin Luther, and in the self-worshiping materialistic ethic of Bismarck’s Prussia.

The six states that make up former East Germany which have the highest percentage of atheists (52 percent of respondents), compared with Western part of Germany, have all originally Protestant background. In Western Germany, predominantly Catholic, only 10.3 percent of those who responded were atheists.

“Countries with high atheism (and low strong belief) tend to be ex-socialist states and countries in northwest Europe,” writes study author Tom W. Smith. “Countries with low atheism and high strong belief tend to be Catholic societies, especially in the developing world, plus the United States, Israel, and Orthodox Cyprus.”

Yet, unlike East Germany, former communist states like Russia, Slovenia or China do have a growing numbers of Christian believers. In fact, China will be the largest Christian nation of the World in a couple of years.

So, what do atheist regions like East Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark all have in common? Protestantism and Prussian way of life.

 

Download the full report here

 

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The Amazing Prophecies of Dimitry Tarabich

Posted by addisethiopia on June 22, 2011

Below are extracts from prophecies attributed to a righteous Serbian layman, Dimitry Tarabich. He was an illiterate, but clairvoyant layman who lived as a hermit in the 1850s. It appears that these prophecies were written down by his godfather, a priest called Fr Zacharias. Although we lack the sources to vouch 100% for their authenticity, they are surely of interest to the reader, who may wish to reflect on them and pray for the rest of the souls of those concerned. We thank Georgios Alexandrou for bringing them to our attention.

You see my godfather, when the world starts to live in peace and abundance after the Second Great War, it will all only be a bitter illusion, because many will forget God and worship only their own human intelligence. And do you know, my godfather, what human intelligence is, compared to God’s will and knowledge? Not even one drop in the ocean.

Men will build a box and there will be some kind of device with pictures inside it, but they will not be able to communicate with me who will already have died, even though this picture device will be as close to this world as hairs on the human head are to each other. With the help of this device, people will be able to see everything that is happening all over the world.

People will drill wells deep into the earth and dig out gold (another name for oil is ‘black gold’), which will give them light, speed and power. The earth will shed tears of sorrow, because there will be much more gold and light on its surface than in its interior. The earth will suffer because of these open wounds. Instead of working in the fields, people will dig everywhere, in good and bad places, but the real power will be all around them, not being able to tell them: ‘Come on, take me, don’t you see that I am here, all around you’. Only after many years will people remember this real power and then they will realise how foolish it was to dig all those holes. This power will also be present in people, but it will take them a long time to discover it and use it. Thus, people will live for a long, long time, unable to know themselves. There will be many learned men, who will think that they know and can do everything because of their books. They will stand in the way of this realization, but once men have this knowledge, they will see what kind of delusion they had been under from listening to their learned men. When that happens, people will much regret that they had not discovered that knowledge before, because it is so simple.

They will believe that their illusion is the truth, although there will be no truth in their heads. Here at home (in Serbia) it will be the same as all over the world. People will start to hate clean air, divine freshness and all divine beauty and will be concealed in rankness. Nobody will force them to do that, but they will do it of their own free will. Here in Kremna (in Serbia) many a field and home will be abandoned, but then those who have left will return to find healing by breathing fresh air.

In Serbia it will be impossible to tell men from women. Everybody will dress in the same way. This calamity will come to us from abroad, but it will stay with us the longest. A groom will take a bride, but nobody will know who is who. People will be lost and become more and more senseless day by day. Men will be born, not knowing who their grandfather and great-grandfather were. People will think that they know everything, but they will know nothing.

The whole world will be contaminated by a strange disease and nobody will be able to find a cure. Everybody will say I know, I know, because I am learned and intelligent, but nobody will know anything. People will think and think, but they will not be able to find the cure, which will be obtained only with God’s help, all around them and inside themselves.

People will travel to other worlds to find lifeless deserts, and still, God forgive them, they will think that they know better than God himself. There, except for the eternal peace of God, they will see nothing, but they will sense with their hearts and souls all of God’s beauty and power. People will drive in machines on the moon and the stars (planets). They will look for life, but life similar to ours will not be found. It will be there, but they will not be able to understand it and see that it is life.

One who goes there, God forgive him, not believing in God, as it is proper for an honourable and decent person to do, will say on his return: ‘Oh, you people, who mention God’s name with doubt, go there where I was, then you will see what God’s mind and power are.

The more people know, the less they will love and care for each other. Hatred will be so great between them that they will care more for their different devices than for their relatives. People will trust in their devices more than their closest neighbours.

Among people of a nation far to the north, there will appear a little man who will teach men about love and compassion, but there will be many Judases and hypocrites around him, so that he will have many difficulties. None of these hypocrites will want to know what real human grace is, but his wise books will remain, and all he says, and then people will see how self-deceived they were.

Those who read and write different books with numbers will think that they know the most. Those learned men will live by their calculations and they will do and live exactly as the numbers tell them. Among those learned men there will be good and evil men. The evil ones will do evil deeds. They will poison the air and the water and spread pestilence over the seas, rivers and the earth, and suddenly people will start to die of various illnesses. The good and wise will see that all this effort and hard work are worthless and that it leads to the destruction of the world, and instead of looking for wisdom in numbers, they will start to seek it in prayer.

World War III

When they start to pray more, they will be closer to God’s wisdom, but it will be too late, because the evil ones will already have ravaged the whole earth and men will start to die in great numbers. Then people will run away from the towns to the country and look for the mountains with three crosses, and there, inside, they will be able to breathe and drink water. Those who escape will save themselves and their families, but not for long, because a great famine will appear. There will be plenty of food in the towns and villages, but it will be poisoned. Many will eat it from hunger and die immediately. Those who fast to the end will survive, because the Holy Spirit will save them and they will be close to God.

The greatest and the angriest will strike the mightiest and the most furious. When that horrible war starts, woe to the armies that fly in the skies. Those who fight on the earth and the water will be better off.

Those who wage this war will have scientists who will invent different, strange cannonballs. We will not fight in this war, but others will do battle overhead. Burning people will fall from the sky over Pozega (in Serbia). Only one country at the end of the world, surrounded by great seas, as big as our Europe, will live in peace, without any trouble. Not a single cannonball will explode on it or over it. Those who run and hide in the mountains with three crosses will find shelter and be saved, but not for long, since a great famine will appear. Food will be everywhere in the towns and villages, but it all will be poisoned. In order to feed themselves, many will eat everything and will die immediately. Those who fast and have endured fasting will survive because the Holy Spirit will preserve them and they will be closer to God in the time of great famine and perdition.

At that time, far away in the Russian mountains, a young man named Mikhail will appear. He will have a bright face and his entire appearance will radiate mercy. He will go to the nearest monastery and ring all the monastery bells. To those who gather around him there, he will say; ‘You forgot who I am, that I did not die, but am alive’. Mikhail will go everywhere, but mostly he will live in Constantinople. Let him who has ears hear’’.

 

 

Additional reading…

 

 

 

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A History of Christianity

Posted by addisethiopia on March 6, 2011

 

A six-part BBC series

 

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Infertile Muslim Woman Gave Birth to Son After Prayer to St. Nicholas

Posted by addisethiopia on January 22, 2011


A Muslim woman in Russian Republic of Bashkiria, who was unsuccessfully treated for infertility for 14 years, gave birth to a son after praying before the icon of St. Nicholas in an Orthodox church.

“I’m a Muslim, but for some reason I believed that it (the icon – IF) will help me,” the happy mother is quoted as saying by Ufa edition of the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

Her friends advised her to go to the church: her marriage has almost failed and the diagnosis sounded as a death verdict to family happiness – it is impossible to give birth with such decease.

It was the first time the woman came to the church, she was a little bit scared and did not how to pray. Parishioners told her “sincerely, from the heart” ask St. Nicholas.

Then she invented a simple prayer: “Nicholas the Wonderworker help me, give us a son, please…” Finally, the woman took off her favorite golden chain and left it near the icon – there is a belief that such gifts make a prayer more effective.

She understood that she is pregnant a month after. Her son Tamerlan makes his parents happy: he is so cheerful and clever.


Source

 

 

 

 


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Russian Patriarch Who Saw End Of Communism, Dies

Posted by addisethiopia on December 6, 2008

alexei 

 

The Christian world has lost one of its principal advocates.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II, who revived the nation’s main religion after decades of Soviet atheism and healed an 80-year rift with a branch of the Russian Orthodox church in the West, died on Friday. He was 79.

Enthroned in 1990 a year before the Soviet Union’s collapse, Estonian-born Alexiy II was relieved of the state ideological control that weighed on his predecessor in the ancient chambers of Moscow’s Danilovsky Monastery.

In one of his biggest achievements, the patriarch signed a pact in May 2007 with Metropolitan Laurus, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ending an 80-year split begun by White Russians who fled Soviet Russia to set up a rival faction.
Alexiy II made the most of Russia’s spiritual vacuum after the long-held Communist beliefs crumbled.

But he was also criticized for supporting measures to restrict the freedom of other confessions, including Roman Catholics, to work in Russia.

He stood in the way of a visit to Russia by the Polish-born former leader of the Catholic church, Pope John Paul II.

And although he expressed similar views on same-sex marriage, euthanasia and abortion as Pope Benedict XVI, this never resulted in a meeting.

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe last year, Alexiy II denounced homosexuality as a sin, an illness and “a distortion of the human personality like kleptomania”. He also said European civilisation was threatened by a divorce of human rights from Christian ethics.

POLITICAL CIRCLES

Alexiy II moved the Orthodox Church closer to the centre of political power, despite repeatedly voicing support for Russia’s constitutional separation of church and state.
He was a frequent visitor to the Kremlin, and then Russian President Vladimir Putin was often seen at key church services held at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, demolished by Soviet ruler Josef Stalin and rebuilt in the 1990s.

Alexiy Mikhailovich Ridiger was born on Feb. 23, 1929, in the Estonian capital Tallinn, into the family of a Russian Orthodox priest.

He later said his family’s many pilgrimages to the then Soviet Union’s key religious sites were crucial to moulding his future path.

In 1953 he graduated from the St Petersburg Spiritual Academy as a priest. He served in Estonia and Russia before becoming a monk in 1961, taking the vow of chastity necessary for any orthodox clergyman seeking a top position in the church.

In 1961 he was appointed Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia and in 1986 was consecrated Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod.

In 1990 he became the 15th patriarch to lead the Orthodox Church since the position was established in 1589. The patriarchate was abolished between 1721 and 1917.

God Bless His Soul!

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Devil Tempting Orthodox Christians

Posted by addisethiopia on November 9, 2008

lalibelameskal

 

After the recent clash between the Ethiopian and Egyptian Orthodox Church Monks in Jerusalem, now it’s the turn of the Armenian and Greek Orthodox clergies to be tempted by devil, that they are forced to fight against each other. The Paradox here is: the Israeli police who tried to restore order consists of Ethiopian Jews.

And the enemies of Orthodox Christianity seat back, mock and laugh like monkeys.

Continue reading…

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Thoughts Of An Ethiopian Monk

Posted by addisethiopia on October 4, 2008

 

It has been said that at the end of your life the only things that really matter are the people you loved, the people who loved you, and what you did for God. The importance of our other accomplishments, however great, does not have the same significance. They even tend to fade into oblivion and be forgotten. How then do we discern what is truly important in our lives? How do we make our major decisions (what career to pursue, whom to marry, etc.)? Obviously, the way to a meaningful life is to follow Almighty God’s will for our lives. But to know God’s will for ourselves implies that we are attuned to Him, that we have a spirituality that allows us to listen to Him. Here are several principles to help young adults develop and maintain such spirituality.

 

(1) Pray the prayer “Thy will be done.”


Almighty God’s will is always for our benefit and always out of love for us, even though we may not understand it at first and it may be difficult to accept. We see that things turned out best only later. The Holy Trinity sees what we do not see in our own hearts and in the hearts of others. As we grow, we will see that God is watching us very closely and is always in control. We thereby learn to trust God and always be at peace.

 

St. Chrysostom said, “I always pray, ‘Lord, not what I will, nor what any other creature wills, but may Thy will be done.’” Christ Jesus Himself prayed the same prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, in His most difficult hour. We also should always finish our personal requests to God with the same prayer, “not my will, but Thy will be done.” This prayer will give us clarity of vision, free us from disappointment, protect us from trying to bring the wrong people into our lives, and deliver us from man-pleasing and flattery. It does not mean that we won’t make mistakes, but even in our mistakes God will not abandon us, and we ourselves will seek to re-align ourselves with Him.

 

(2) Develop a world of interiority


Everyday we should strive to do something for God which is known only to Him and not to any other human being. In this way, no one on earth can take it away from us. This is what Christ Jesus meant when He said, “Let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing” (
St. Matthew 6:3). This was a source of strength to Christians of the past in times of persecution. It will also protect us when the conditions of our life change and we do not find ourselves near an Orthodox Tewahedo Church that is providing for our needs, or near an Orthodox Church period.

 

(3) Stay inspired, or you’ll expire


The daily, patient reading of the Holy Scripture is the best means to keep our heart warm to Almighty God. At first it may seem difficult, but as we read more we realize how deeply it speaks to our lives. St. Chrysostom even speculated, “Without the daily sweetening of the soul with the words of Holy Scripture, it is impossible to be saved.”

 

Also important is to choose inspiring Christian friends, and to associate ourselves with inspiring people. Our habits, speech, interests, etc., are influenced by those with whom we spend time. Choose your friends carefully. Spend time with those who lift you up, help you achieve your goals, and make you want to be a better person.

 

Finally, absorb and pursue the truly beautiful things in life. St. Paul said, “Whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are holy, whatsoever things are lovely, think on these things” (Phil 4:8). The modern media seeks to choke us with materialism and the baser things in life. Rebel against this by seeking a higher culture. Listen to Tewahedo spiritual songs, which can be found by the dozens on YouTube.Com or if you are like me, listen to works by W.A. Mozart, to Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, etc. You will not be disappointed.

 

(4) Be persistent and consistent


The spiritual life is not always easy. We will still make mistakes in life. But when we fall, we must get up. We must always move forward and never quit. Christ Jesus said, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (
St. Matthew 10:22). If we have down days or times of loneliness, we must fill them with stronger prayer to God. An Orthodox Tewahedo Christian is not a person who never fails – he/she is a person who has the courage to return to God, to get back up and strive to improve.

 

 

(5) Give your heart to God


“My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs
23:26). This is what Almighty God requires of us, He wants our love freely given. He will not settle for second place. If there is a person or thing or ambition in our life that we may value above our relationship with God, it must be abandoned. This is what Christ Jesus meant when He said that whoever would come after Him must abandon all and follow Him. Yet He also added that whoever did this would receive a hundredfold in return. When we receive this hundredfold back, however, it no longer means as much to us. Christ Jesus is the main focus of our lives. Any other main focus can become a form of idolatry.

 

(6) Avoid negativity


“It’ll never work.” “Oh, what’s the use?” “Everyone else is doing it.” This sort of negativity can drag us down, and even become addictive. It will ruin our desire to be creative, courageous and energetic. It will encourage us to live by lower ideals and lower standards. Stamp out negativity from the start, don’t give it a chance, and don’t feed it.

 

(7) Keep a journal


It is a good practice and one followed by many Saints to keep a notebook in which we write down things that inspire us, things people say, things that happen in our lives that reveal Almighty God’s providence and care for us. In the future we can then look back and be edified again.

 

(8) Last and MOST IMPORTANT…Do not neglect the Sacraments


Last, but certainly not least, do not be absent from the Holy Eucharist – Qiddasie – Divine Liturgy, make every effort to attend Bible Studies, special prayers Services and Feast Days, and receive the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion – Qurban as often as you can. These Sacraments are a “forgotten medicine” today. They have a power not only to unshackle us, but to fill us with joy and strength. Holy Communion – Qurban especially, when taken with due preparation, can center and strengthen our whole life in Christ. It is where we are united with Christ, who said, “Without Me ye can do nothing” (
St. John 15:5).

 

Life is a great potential, a vast horizon of endless possibilities. Each one of us has a path, a calling, a purpose in Almighty God’s plan, and this purpose will bring us fulfillment and joy. But to follow this path takes struggle, work, and even sacrifice. It is a “narrow way” in the words of Christ Jesus. Follow Christ, and follow your path, the path Almighty God sets for you. Do not follow the path that the world sets for you, nor others who may not have your best interest in mind. As contemporary saying states, “Life is short, pray hard.” To be truly happy, to meet our goals, to spend our time on earth with those who would bring us the most joy and love, means that we are seeking to follow Christ Jesus with our whole heart and being. It is only Almighty God who gives every gift, and He does so without measure to those who love and follow Him.

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Spiritual Reflection

Posted by addisethiopia on October 4, 2008

From The Epistle of Barnabas

The way of light, then, is as follows. If any one desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following:

  • Thou shalt love Him that created thee: thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death.
  • Thou shalt be simple in heart, and rich in spirit.
  • Thou shalt not join thyself to those who walk in the way of death.
  • Thou shalt hate doing what is unpleasing to God: thou shalt hate all hypocrisy.
  • Thou shalt not forsake the commandments of the Lord.
  • Thou shalt not exalt thyself, but shalt be of a lowly mind.
  • Thou shalt not take glory to thyself.
  • Thou shalt not take evil counsel against thy neighbor.
  • Thou shalt not allow over-boldness to enter into thy soul.
  • Thou shalt not commit fornication: thou shalt not commit adultery: thou shalt not be a corrupter of youth.
  • Thou shalt not let the word of God issue from thy lips with any kind of impurity.
  • Thou shalt not accept persons when thou reprovest any one for transgression.
  • Thou shalt be meek: thou shalt be peaceable.
  • Thou shalt tremble at the words which thou hearest.
  • Thou shalt not be mindful of evil against thy brother.
  • Thou shalt not be of doubtful mind as to whether a thing shall be or not.
  • Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.
  • Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thine own soul.
  • Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born. Thou shalt not withdraw thy hand from thy son, or from thy daughter, but from their infancy thou shalt teach them the fear of the Lord.
  • Thou shalt not covet what is thy neighbor’s, nor shalt thou be avaricious.Thou shalt not be joined in soul with the haughty, but thou shalt be reckoned with the righteous and lowly.
  • Receive thou as good things the trials which come upon thee.
  • Thou shalt not be of double mind or of double tongue, for a double tongue is a snare of death.
  • Thou shalt be subject to the Lord, and to [other] masters as the image of God, with modesty and fear. Thou shalt not issue orders with bitterness to thy maidservant or thy man-servant, who trust in the same [God], lest thou shouldst not reverence that God who is above both; for He came to call men not according to their outward appearance, but according as the Spirit had prepared them.
  • Thou shalt communicate in all things with thy neighbor; thou shalt not call things thine own; for if ye are partakers in common of things which are incorruptible, how much more [should you be] of those things which are corruptible!
  • Thou shalt not be hasty with thy tongue, for the mouth is a snare of death.
  • As far as possible, thou shalt be pure in thy soul. Do not be ready to stretch forth thy hands to take, whilst thou contractest them to give.
  • Thou shalt love, as the apple of thine eye, every one that speaketh to thee the word of the Lord.
  • Thou shalt remember the day of judgment, night and day.
  • Thou shalt seek out every day the faces of the saints, either by word examining them, and going to exhort them, and meditating how to save a soul by the word, or by thy hands thou shalt labor for the redemption of thy sins.
  • Thou shalt not hesitate to give, nor murmur when thou givest. ‘Give to every one that asketh thee’, and thou shalt know who is the good Recompenser of the reward.
  • Thou shalt preserve what thou hast received, neither adding to it nor taking from it.
  • To the last thou shalt hate the wicked [one].
  • Thou shalt judge righteously.
  • Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify those that contend by bringing them together.
  • Thou shalt confess thy sins.
  • Thou shalt not go to prayer with an evil conscience.

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