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Posts Tagged ‘Tinsae’

Happy Easter

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 30, 2016


Posted in Ethiopia, Faith | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ethiopia: Holy Days And Highland Rock Churches

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 3, 2015


You see a society in which profound spiritual belief (Christianity came here in the fourth century) is interwoven into every aspect of life. Most people here have very little, but those you meet and talk to – and having a guide makes it easier to do that – seem rich in ways that many of us in the developed world have lost.

Christian belief is woven into every aspect of life in Ethiopia, as Anna Murphy discovers when she joins one of the country’s most important religious festivals

You know you are somewhere very special when even a drive to the airport is enrapturing. It was our last day in Ethiopia, and we were on our way to catch an internal flight from Lalibela to Addis Ababa, en route to London.

We had been to Lalibela – one of the most celebrated stops on the so-called northern circuit of the Ethiopian Highlands – to see its stone churches. And remarkable they were, carved into and out of the pink-hued rock between the 12th and 15th centuries, both delicate and monumental, and still very much alive – full of priests and monks and nuns and hermits and worshippers, all of them wrapped in white, as every good Ethiopian Christian is when he or she visits church.

Virtually every day of the year there will be a church somewhere in Ethiopia celebrating its saint’s day, but it’s best to time your visit to coincide with one of the great Orthodox Christian festivals, such as Easter. Known as Fasika, it usually occurs a week to two weeks after the Western Church’s Easter. It follows eight weeks of fasting from meat and dairy, and culminates in a church service on Easter eve lasting several hours and ending at 3am. Afterwards, worshippers break their fast and celebrate the risen Christ.

My own visit coincided with Timkat, in January, one of the most important festivals of the year. It’s a kind of mass baptism in which locals gather early in the morning by their church’s pool (each church has one) to be splashed and sprayed with holy water. It was such a joyous thing to witness, as everyone – from very young to very old – excitedly waited en masse for jugs of water to be thrown out over the crowd.

But it is that drive that sticks in my mind. It was market day in Lalibela and, as our charming and indefatigable guide Sammy Tilahun told us, people walked from more than 12 miles away to attend. At 8am the road was packed, not with vehicles – driving around this vast, beautiful, often mountainous country, you usually have the road to yourself – but with people and animals on the move. Many of the women and children were dressed in the traditional embroidered cotton dresses, the men wrapped in large swaths of cotton, or – on a couple of occasions – bath towels (evidently something of a step up). Some were herding goats, others cattle with enormous horns, others heavily loaded pack mules. Some – usually women – were carrying vast Byzantine bundles of twisted firewood on their backs, or unidentifiable bunches on their heads. For them it was a long walk, hard work, but it was also a social occasion – people were talking, smiling, hanging out, step by step, hour by hour.

Those 30 minutes from the window summed up much that is wonderful about Ethiopia. You see a life largely untouched by this century, and a couple of earlier ones. You see a society in which profound spiritual belief (Christianity came here in the fourth century) is interwoven into every aspect of life. Most people here have very little, but those you meet and talk to – and having a guide makes it easier to do that – seem rich in ways that many of us in the developed world have lost. Of course it is easy, and distasteful, to be dewy-eyed. Poverty is everywhere. But so too is a kind of peace, contentment. This is a country that makes even an atheist like me ponder organised religion as a force for good.

But there were other, much quieter experiences that also helped make my time in Ethiopia so remarkable. Here is a country with incredible cultural riches, including religious art that to me in its sublime colour and creativity matches the Byzantine churches of Ravenna and the Chora Church of Istanbul. And it allows you an intimacy with art that is an impossibility in the developed world. In the Nakuta La’ab monastery, for example, built into a cave in the cliffs near Lalibela, we were alone with the priest, who showed to us and only us the pages of a beautifully illuminated 700-year-old manuscript with wide-eyed Madonnas and horse-riding martyrs, all rendered in dazzling reds and blues.

Again, at the incredible Ura Kidane Mihret monastery, on the shores of Lake Tana, we were alone in what was, quite simply, one of the most remarkable places I’d ever been. A circular building, one of the two favoured structures in the Ethiopian Orthodox church, its interior walls are covered with… well, where to begin? With the Madonna again, or saint Mary as the Ethiopians call her; with assorted other saints; with the two archangels-cum-dudes complete with Afros (looking straight out of Earth, Wind and Fire); with martyrs (40 of them, their heads in a row in the sea); with leopards and lions; with the disembodied heads and wings of a choir of angels; with the three Kings. The paintings are between 100 and 250 years old, and were designed to be “read” by the illiterate worshippers. They tell stories we know from our own Bible, but also those from the additional 14 books in the Ethiopian bible. One of my favourites, and one of the most important to Ethiopians, is of the saint Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus. He is pictured with fur on his body, flanked by the lions and leopards that are his friends; beside one eye is a little bird who drinks from the tears he sheds whenever he prays.

I could go on. And indeed one day I hope to: Ethiopia is such a fascinating country that I am already planning to return. To be continued…



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አባ ማትያስ፡ “ኢትዮጵያ ሀገረ እግዚአብሔር ነች”

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 19, 2014

መልካም የትንሣኤ በዓል!


ብፁዕ ወቅዱስ አቡነ ማትያስ ቀዳማዊ ፓትርያርክ ርዕሰ ሊቃነ ጳጳሳት ዘኢትዮጵያ ሊቀጳጳስ ዘአክሱም ወእጨጌ ዘመንበረ ተክለ ሃይማኖት የ2006 .. የጌታችን መድኀኒታችን ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ የትንሣኤ በዓልን የእንኳን አደረሳችሁ የሚከተለውን መልእክት አስተላልፈዋል፦

ኢትዮጵያውያን አባቶቻችን በማናቸውም ጊዜ ከነውረ ኃጢአትና ከርኩሰት ሁሉ ርቀው፥ ሕገተፈጥሮንና ሕገእግዚአብሔርን ጠብቀው፣ እግዚአብሔር የሚለውን ብቻ አዳምጠውና አክብረው የሚኖሩ ቅዱሳን በመሆናቸውን ነው እንጂ፤ በአሁኑ ጊዜ በኢትዮጵያ ምድር ሊፈጸም ቀርቶ ሊወራ የማይገባውን ሰዶምንና ገሞራን በእሳት ያጋየ ግብረኃጢአት በኢትዮጵያ ምድር መሰማቱ እግዚአብሔር ለኢትዮጵያውያን የሰጠውን የቅድስና ክብር የሚያሳጣ ከመሆኑም ሌላ በሀገራችን ላይ ልማትና ዕድገት ሳይሆን መቅሰፍትና ውድቀት እንዳያስከትልብን ሁሉም ኢትዮጵያዊ ይህንን የሰዶም ግብረኃጢአትን በጽናት መመከት አለበት፤ በቅዱስ ባህልና ሥነምግባር እጅግ የበለጸገና የለማ ትውልድ ማፍራት የልማታችን አካል ማድረግ አለብን።


ኢትዮጵያ ሀገረ እግዚአብሔር መሆኗን ሩሲያዊው የ Independentጋዜጣ ባለቤትም እነሆ መስክሯል

The spirit of a pure Christianity: Exploring Ethiopia’s stunning subterranean churches

BeteGiyorgisWhen he ventured into the mysterious subterranean churches of Ethiopia, Evgeny Lebedev not only visited one of the world’s architectural marvels, he experienced a humble Orthodox Christianity which shames Russia’s own.
Nowhere in Lalibela is as impressive, however, as the building they finished last. That is the Bet Giyorgis, or the Church of St George, and it is there – it being St George’s saint’s day – that the crowds are gathered and from where the chanting comes.
Ethiopia was cut off for centuries from the wider Christian world by the Islamic conquests to its north. During that time, its church flourished in isolation, untouched by and ignorant of the theological disputes dividing Europe. That means its traditions provide insight into an older, perhaps purer and certainly more mystical form of Christianity – one that dates back 1,600 years and therefore, in its unaltered forms, bears witness to a liturgy practised only a relatively brief period after the time of Jesus Christ.
As a Russian, I come from a country that is part of the Orthodox tradition. Culturally, the Russian Orthodox Church is my church – although little I have seen ever enamoured it to me. One only has to consider its hounding of punk-rock protesters Pussy Riot, or its cosy relationship with the state, or the sense of avarice that seems to emit from it, to realise why. In recent years, reports have emerged that a car repair and tyre service was being run underneath Christ the Saviour, Moscow’s largest Orthodox cathedral, and that a brothel was being run on land rented by Sretensky Monastery. Archpriest Mikhail Grigoriev of Kazan was discovered to own a BMW jeep, a Mercedes jeep and a Mercedes saloon as well as three flats and a country house. He was secretly filmed boasting about his £12,000 mobile phone and love of Italian designer clothes. This year, there have been allegations of sexual assault by Russian Orthodox clergy, with students supposedly plied with alcohol before being abused.
The church’s head, Patriarch Kirill, a man who regularly criticises Western commercialism and publicly called feminism “very dangerous”, was even caught out by his own hypocrisy: two years ago, his press team issued a photograph of a meeting in Ukraine in which Kirill’s $30,000 Swiss Breguet watch was airbrushed out. Unfortunately for them, they had overlooked its reflection on a polished table top.
Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church appears very different. On the ground, the impression I get is overwhelmingly one of a clergy committed to personal humility. Again and again I meet priests living lives just as humble as their congregations. They are keeping true to the tenet of their faith that they must forgo almost all possessions and dedicate themselves totally to the spiritual life. This, I feel, gives them considerable moral authority.



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Happy Tinsae

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 5, 2010

A Reflection on The Feast of the Resurrection – Tinsae

The scene of Mary Magdalene, weeping before the Lord’s tomb that had been sealed by the order of Pontius Pilate, reminds us of the scene of the Apostle Saint John weeping before the Scroll that had been sealed with Seven Seals (Revelation 5:4); and no one was found worthy to open and read the Scroll or to look at it. All the Seven Seals had to be loosened before all the kingdoms could become the Lord’s Kingdom (Revelation 11:15).

The similarity between the reason for Mary Magdalene’s tears and that for St. John’s is prominent. Mary was weeping because “they have taken away the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him” (St. John 20:2). For her, the Lord Who was once the hope of Israel’s redemption was dead; and His tomb sealed through Pilate’s decree to ensure and proclaim His death to everybody. To Mary, there did not seem any more hope in redemption, salvation, or life. The Master was dead and so were she and all of Israel.

St. John the Apostle wept for the same reason. Humanity was delivered to the sentence of death (the sealed scroll) and no one was found worthy to open the scroll or loosen its seals (Revelation 5:3). Such were the consequences of our sins and the subsequent death sentence which reigned over us; whereby we were bound and sold as slaves. Both seals, the one before Mary’s eyes and the other before St. John’s send the same message: WE ARE HOPELESSLY DEAD!

But the Heavenly Hosts had SOME good news for both; Mary Magdalene and St. John the Apostle. At the tomb, the Angels said to Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” (St. John 20:13) and in the book of Revelations, one of the Elders said to St. John “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed” (Revelation 5:5).

Mary Magdalene turned around and saw the Risen Lord, but thought He was the gardener. In the same manner, St. John turned around expecting to see the Lion; but, to his surprise, he saw a Lamb as though it had been slain.

In a matter of few minutes, both of them came to a new realization. Mary Magdalene knew that the gardener is the Risen Lord, and St. John knew that the slain Lamb is the prevailing Lion.

Praise and worship have filled heaven and earth because of the glad tidings of the Resurrection of the Lord. On earth, St. Mary Magdalene spread the Goods News to the Disciples and the Disciples in turn to the rest of the world. Similarly, in heaven, praises and worship started among the Four living creatures and the Twenty Four Elders (Revelation 5:8) and then spread to the rest of the Angelic hosts numbered by thousands of thousands and ten thousands times ten thousands (Revelation 5:11). After that the praise and worship spread to include every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them (Revelation 5:13).

Today we rejoice because the slain Lamb has RISEN becoming the prevailing Lion. Let us call upon all the heavenly orders and earthly ranks to praise with us because the Lord has broken death seal; trampling upon it by His death granting us a new life in Him.

Praise the Lord, He is RISEN! The slain Lamb is alive. This means we are also alive in Him, by Him, and through Him. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed wiped away and cancelled our sins. Therefore, my brethren, with St. Paul’s words echoing in our ears that “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17); let our mouth be truly filled with joy and our tongue with gladness because the Lord Jesus Christ has Risen from the dead!

May all the blessings of the victorious Resurrection of our Lord fill your hearts with the heavenly and glorious joy!

Source: Ninesaintsethiopianorthodoxmonastery


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