10 December 2011

The Ethiopians living on the roof

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8931700/The-Ethiopians-living-on-th
e-roof.html

The Ethiopians living on the roof
Saturday 10 December 2011

Sacred mysteries: An ancient African monastery is perched above the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

I went to see the Ethiopians on the roof of the church of the Holy Sepulchre
in Jerusalem this week.

The way up is not easy for a stranger to find. Stone steps double back from
the Souk Khan el-Zeit in the Old City, where the jumble of goods for sale,
hanging from the low canopies – scarves, shoulder-bags, T-shirts,
full-length Muslim women's dresses, camel-tack, racks of postcards –
obscures the street plan.

From the steps, those who know where to look may see remnants of the first
church of the Holy Sepulchre, built by Constantine in the 330s. At the top
is a flat roof looking towards the great domes of the church.
Some green wooden doors in adjoining walls stand open, up rickety wooden
steps. At one side, a bulgy rectangular hut apparently made of whitewashed
adobe, is fitted with eaves of corrugated iron above the tiny windows.

Monks in black habits come and go, and keep an eye open for interlopers, for
even this Ethiopian church territory on the marginal exterior of the church
is subject to rival claims from Copts.
The stone surface of the roof slopes gently in this dry climate. In the
middle is a dome with windows fortified with ancient iron bars. This dome
(once the confusing maze of the interior of the church has been
mastered) turns out to be the roof the chapel of the Holy Cross discovered
by St Helena, Constantine's mother. The Ethiopians kept its feast devoutly
in September

One of the doors on the roof leads to the Ethiopian monks' chapel. This is
separated from a passageway by a green-painted railing, leaving just room
for four pairs of benches on each side of a Persian carpet-runner before a
simple screen of dark, silver-painted wood. In the centre, a horseshoe-arch
opens to the high altar, hung with white silk, beneath an icon of the Virgin
and Child.

Ethiopians speak the ancient Semitic language of Amharic. They worship in
the even more ancient dead language of Ge'ez. Their liturgy if full of
surprises. As well as Sunday, Saturday is a holy day, and in each church the
Ark of the Covenant is revered. Indeed Axum cathedral is said to house the
Ark once kept in the Holy of Holies of the Jewish Temple.

Evelyn Waugh tells of sitting next to an eminent professor at Haile
Selassie's coronation in 1930, who kept up a commentary on the ceremony:
"They are beginning the Mass now." "That was the offertory." "No, I was
wrong; it was the consecration." "No, I was wrong; I think it is the secret
Gospel." "How very curious; I don't believe it was the Mass at all."

No liturgy was in progress on the morning I visited, since the 4am worship
had long finished. At the back of the chapel, in front of a sort of shed, on
top of which lay a ladder and a green plastic bath, sat a monk in an old
armchair draped with a multi-coloured blanket. On an old brass dish he had
arranged two dollar bills crosswise, scattered artistically with some coins.
This was by way of ground bait, so that pilgrims passing through would know
where to bestow alms, which a little flock of Americans did. Their few
dollars were soon tidied away ready for the next group.

The Ethiopians are not well off. Once, they had a chapel inside the church
of the Holy Sepulchre. They lost that centuries ago during the long Ottoman
rule of Jerusalem, when political influence and payment of taxes counted for
much. It seems odd that the Copts later wrangled with them for their space,
for the Church in Ethiopia always took its chief bishop from Alexandria, the
Coptic see.

The Ethiopians hung on. In 1923 there were only 100 in Jerusalem, all told.
They are stronger today, although the Christians are far outnumbered by the
30,000 Ethiopian Jews flown in from peril in the 1990s. But that is another
story.

Christopher Howse's "A Pilgrim in Spain" is published by Continuum (£16.99).

23 November 2011

Thousands in line to view 'Mother of God's Belt'

http://www.dailyamericannews.com/topstories/x45853324/Thousands-in-line-to-v
iew-Mother-of-Gods-Belt

Thousands in line to view 'Mother of God's Belt'.
Daily American News
Posted Nov 20, 2011 @ 07:32 AM

MOSCOW — Thousands of Muscovites are lining up to worship one of the most
revered Orthodox Christian relics - The Mother of God's Belt – as it goes on
display at the Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

­The Orthodox Church believes in a legend that Mary, the Mother of Jesus,
wore a belt woven from camel wool, and, after her death and Assumption, it
came into the hands of the Apostle St Thomas.

The Christian relic, which came to Russia from Greece, is believed to have
divine powers to cure infertility and disease.

 In the first centuries of the Christian era, the Belt was held in
Jerusalem.

By the end of the 4th century, the relic was taken to Constantinople (now
Istanbul).

It had been repeatedly cut into parts throughout history. And only three
pieces remain.

One of them is kept in Georgia, the two others are in Prato, Italy, and at
Vatoped Monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. The latter is believed by
Orthodox Christians to be under protection of the God`s Mother.

The Belt has never been taken from Athos before, with an exception only made
for the month-long Russian tour across 14 cities this year.

The relic will be on display for more than a week.


video:
http://landing.newsinc.com/shared/video.html?freewheel=90108&sitesection=gat
ehouse&VID=23549418

01 November 2011

Jerusalem dig unearths Christian icon

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/jerusalem-dig-unearths-christian-icon/story-e6frg6so-1226181938178

Jerusalem dig unearths Christian icon

From: AP
November 01, 2011 12:00AM

A TINY, exquisitely made box found on an excavated street in Jerusalem
is a token of Christian faith from 1400 years ago, Israeli archeologists
say.

The box, carved from an animal bone, decorated with a cross on the lid
and measuring 2cm by 1.5cm, was probably carried by a Christian around
the end of the 6th century AD, according to Yana Tchekhanovets of the
Israel Antiquities Authority, one of the directors of the excavation
where the box was found.

When the lid is removed, the remains of two portraits are visible in
paint and gold leaf. A man and a woman, they are probably Christian
saints and possibly Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

The box was found outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City in the
remains of a Byzantine-era road. Uncovered two years ago, it was treated
by preservation experts and researched before it was unveiled at an
archeological conference last week. The box offers the first
archeological evidence that the use of icons in the Byzantine period was
not limited to church ceremonies.
Free trial

Part of a similar box was found in Jordan three decades ago, but this is
the only well-preserved whole example found so far. Similar icons are
carried today by some Christians, especially from the eastern Orthodox
churches.

The relic was found in the City of David excavation, named for the
biblical monarch thought to have ruled a Jewish kingdom from the site.

The politically sensitive dig is in the Palestinian area of Silwan, just
outside the Old City walls in east Jerusalem, the section of the city
captured by Israeli forces in 1967 and still claimed by Palestinians as
their capital.

03 October 2011

Spiritually Minded Cross Messages


Spiritually Minded Cross Messages

"To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and
peace." Romans 8:6

Fr John Brian uses the timing of Meskel, the Ethiopian festival of the
cross, to talk about the spirituality of the cross.

This sermon uses and refers to scripture readings appointed by the Syrian
Malankara calendar and was give on Sunday, October 02, 2011 by Fr. John
Brian Paprock at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission Chapel, Madison,
Wisconsin.

"We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the
power of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7.

PODCAST OR DOWNLOAD: http://feeds.feedburner.com/frjohnbrian or
http://frjohnbrian.hipcast.com/rss/spiritual_reflections_or_fr_john_brian.xml

Listen on-line here:
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/10/spiritually-minded-cross-messages.html

Last week:
Still Following Material Things?
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/still-following-material-things.html

Previously:
OPF Conference:
Fr. George: The Harvest of Forgiveness
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/fr-george-harvest-of-forgiveness.html
Fr John-Brian's Opening prayers for the conference:
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/opening-prayer-forgiveness-finding.html
A Reflection on Forgiveness by Fr John-Brian after the conference:
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/prose-reflective-prayer-on-forgiveness.html

Bring No More Vain Offerings (Isaiah Chapter 1)
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/bring-no-more-vain-offerings-isaiah.html

Letting Go - It All Gets Done
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/letting-go-it-all-gets-done.html

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/08/devil-and-deep-blue-sea.html

Knowing Spiritual Success
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/08/knowing-spiritual-success.html

Receive the Crown of Glory (1Peter5)
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/08/receive-crown-of-glory-1peter5.html

On the Fruit of Transfiguration
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/08/on-fruit-of-transfiguration.html

Recent Writings:
Good Night Hospital (reflection of a night chaplain)
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/good-night-hospital.html

Opening Prayer - Forgiveness: Finding Wholeness Again
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/09/opening-prayer-forgiveness-finding.html

ST. GEORGE : A CHRISTIAN HERO FOR THE MODERN WORLD
http://www.lightoflife.com/LOL_Article_AChristianHeroForTheModernWorld.htm

A Question About Confession
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2010/12/question-about-confession.html

An Assurance of God's Love
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2011/02/assurance-of-gods-love.html

Top FIVE sermons with some Honorable Mentions (November 2005 through May
2009)
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2009/05/top-five-audio-sermons-of-fr-john-brian.html

PODCAST OR DOWNLOAD all sermons: http://feeds.feedburner.com/frjohnbrian or
http://frjohnbrian.hipcast.com/rss/spiritual_reflections_or_fr_john_brian.xml
For more articles and sermons, visit http://www.frjohbrian.blogspot.com/

+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission Parish
621 N. Sherman Avenue, Suite B3
Madison, Wisconsin - Sundays 9:30am
608.242.4244 ~ transfiguration@usa.com
http://www.maruroopa.blogspot.com/
o HEALING LIFE o DEEPENING FAITH
o ENRICHING PRACTICE o REFRESHING SPIRIT
+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
FULLY ALIVE - a Pastoral Book by Fr John Brian, includes transcribed texts
of sermons. Read the introduction and see the table of contents:
http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2010/12/fully-alive-introduction.html
Other pastoral books: http://lulu.com/transfiguration

28 September 2011

Ethiopia: Christians Celebrate Discovery of Jesus Crucifix


Ethiopia: Christians Celebrate Discovery of Jesus Crucifix
Luc Van Kemenade
28 September 2011
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/201109281231.html
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tens of millions of people in Ethiopia celebrated their annual Meskel
eve on Tuesday, an Orthodox Christian festival that landmarks the
discovery of the "true cross" of Jesus Christ by Saint Helena and the
end of the rainy season.
In Addis Ababa the streets are strewn with fresh, yellow-coloured,
daisies, called Meskel flowers in Ethiopia's national language
Amharic, turning the capital city into a colourful bouquet.
On every corner people dressed in white, pile wood, grasses and daisy
flowers into pyramid-like bundles, called demera to make into bonfires
later.
Saint Helena
Ethiopians are honouring Saint Helena's discovery of Jesus' crucifix
in Israel in the fourth century. Helena, who was the first Christian
empress of Rome, is believed to have given the right wing of the cross
as a gift to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The flank is buried near a monastery in Wollo in Ethiopia's northern
highlands, says the church. Ethiopia has a population of over 80
million people, almost half of which are Orthodox Christians.
The heart of the celebration can be found Meskel Square in Addis
Ababa's town centre. Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians dressed in
elegant robes flock to the slopes of the square to attend a mass led
by the Ethiopian patriarch Abune Pawlos.
Parade
Priests and deacons clap, sing and parade to the sound of large drums.
Crowd members, often held back by policemen, sing, pray and hold up
their eucalyptus candles, turning the stairs into a carpet of light.
In the grand finale of the celebration, the patriarch sets fire to a
giant demera at the centre of the square, symbolising the way Saint
Helena was said to have found the cross that Jesus was crucified on.
According to the legend the smoke from a fire guided her in the right
direction.
Once the fire is lit, there is no way to hold back the frenzied crowd.
People storm into the square to dance around the bonfire and then
reach into the ash to draw small crosses on their foreheads.

23 September 2011

Two ancient churches discovered in Failaka Island of Kuwait

Two ancient churches discovered in Failaka Island of Kuwait

The Department of Antiquities and Museums in the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters discovered two churches on the island of Failaka reports Al Watan daily. The first consists of three large rooms and three entrances and a tomb of a monk with a cross on it, and the second consists of one room, daily reported.

Al Watan reported, quoting the Director of the department Shihab Abdulhamid Shihab, that a study is being conducted on the churches and other monuments that have been discovered on the island which backdate to the early Islamic era. Additionally, an Islamic village established on the island which includes a mosque, two Mihrab were also found besides and a large Islamic castle called Al-Zour Castle. He pointed out that there are monuments dating back to more than 2200 years BC.

Shihab said that the inhabitants of the Kuwaiti coast before Islam were Christian fishermen, who moved to the islands near Kuwait, including the island of Failaka after the spread of Islam. He added that there are also other ancient civilizations on the island including the Macedonian civilization led by Alexander the Great, who called the Island Icarus.


From: [SOCM-FORUM]

Source: http://indiansinkuwait.com/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=12772&SECTION=0#ixzz1YkBNVemX

__._,_.___

16 September 2011

4th century meditation on the cross

The tree of the cross is for me the tree of eternal salvation. It feeds me
and I feast upon it. With its roots am I rooted and with its branches I
stretch out my arms. It's sap cleanses me and its breeze, like a fragrant
wind, makes me fruitful. Beneath its shadow I have set up my tent and,
escaping the terrible heat, I find there a haven of coolness. It is with its
flowers that I myself blossom and with its fruit that I take my greatest
delight. Yes, those fruits were kept for me from the beginning and I enjoy
them without end... When I tremble before God, this tree gives me shelter;
when I waver, it is my stay. It is the price of my battles and the prize of
my victories; it is my narrow way, steep path, Jacob's ladder where angels
ascend and descend and at whose top the Lord is supported indeed (Mt 7,14;
Gn 28,12).

This tree of heavenly dimensions has been raised up from earth to sky; it is
an immortal plant, set between heaven and earth. Upholding all things,
bearing the universe, support of the inhabited world, it embraces the cosmos
and gathers together the diverse elements of human nature. For itself, it is
assembled of the invisible planks of the Spirit that it may not waver in its
conformity to the divine. Touching the heights of heaven with its top,
grounding the earth with its feet, and encircling with its great arms the
innumerable spaces of the atmosphere, it is wholly in all and around all...

It would have been of no account that the universe was blotted out, melted
with terror before the Passion, if our great Jesus had not infused the
divine Spirit in it when he said: "Father, into your hands I commend my
Spirit" (Lk 23,46)... Everything was shattered, yet when the divine Spirit
rose again the universe was re-animated, brought back to life and recovered
the firmness of its stability. God filled everything, everywhere, and the
crucifixion penetrated all things.

-- A Greek homily of the 4th century
On the holy Paschal mystery, 51, 63 ; PG 59, 743, SC 27 (inspired by a lost
sermon of Hippolytus)

14 July 2011

At the Center of Syriac Christianity is the Cross


In Syriac Christianity, however, the theology of symbols continued [sic] to play a leading role in the Church's life at whose center stands the cross. In the cross all elements of theology are present.  One can justly say that Syriac theology is truly a theology of the cross.

[...]

The cross is also a living reality to be reflected in our daily life. This is possible because we live in a liturgical time which makes the fruits of the cross present here and now. This presence, however, can be felt in two different ways. There is a positive one, through which we benefit from the blessings of the cross, as a protector, a builder of the Church, a teacher, and a sign of peace.  There is also a negative way in which we experience the narrow path which leads us to the cross which causes the fall of its enemies.

It is the eschatological dimension that makes the cross all the more important.  We will fully know and experience the cross in Paradise, where all symbols will find their fulfillment. The cross will open to us the way to the Father by opening the doors of Paradise, and will guard us in our journey towards eternal life. It will lead us to the kingdom of heaven, because it is the sign of that kingdom, and of the King who is going to come for the second time.  Only then, will the cross have fulfilled its mission by bringing us to the fullness of our salvation which we have acheived and lived in our earthly life. The cross thus becomes, as Ephrem says, everything in our life:
 
    The cross is our weapon and will,
     it is our life and light.
     The cross reconciles and renews everybody, 
     it consecrates and sanctifies everyone.
     The cross has become a breakthrough, by which
     the two sides which were angry, are reconciled. 
     (Hymni Dispersi XX,2) 


From:
Symbols of the Cross in the Writings of the Early Syriac Fathers
by Cyril Aphrem Karim (Archbishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, Syriac Orthodox Church)
2004, published by Gorgias Press http://www.gorgiaspress.com/

28 May 2011

The Victory of the Cross

The world has value only in so far as through it we see and receive the
revelations and the energies of the person of God who in Himself, in His
essence, cannot be described, but whose energies are already at work in all
creation and will be fully revealed in the transfigured world of the age to
come. Until the last day, God is at work in this world, leading it towards
its
resurrection, above all by means of the cross.

Dumitru St─âniloae
The Victory of the Cross

12 April 2011

Armenian Cross Stones Consecrated - April 2011

On Sunday, April 3, 2011, the Primate presided over the church service at the St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank. Rev. Fr. Zareh Mansuryan celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Archpriest Fr. Sipan Mekhsian, Cathedral Pastor Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan and Youth Director Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian participated in the service.

In his spiritual message, the Primate reflected on the parable of the Unjust Judge and stressed the importance of constant prayer through which we strengthen our relationship with God... 
Following the service, the clergy led the Primate in a procession to the southeast wall of the St. Leon Armenian Cathedral where the Primate, with the participation of the Choir, dedicated and consecrated the crosses carved on the wall. In his message to the faithful, the Primate reflected on the power and the importance of the Holy Cross in the life of an Armenian Christian. He extended his blessings to the donors who were treated to a reception at the Hampar Reception Room. The Primate's signed Certificates of Blessing and Commendation were gifted to the donors during the reception.  

[An "Image Gallery" is at Armenian Western Diocese news web site listed above.]

05 April 2011

Depictions of the Cross before 10th Century


"Christian art seldom shows Christ suffering on the cross before the Tenth Century... A cross without Christ was, however, acceptable..."

Charles Freeman
(from cutline on illustration page of photo of crucifixion detail of 5th Century door of Santa Sabina in Rome)
A New History of Early Christianity
Yale University Press - 2009

27 March 2011

The Sign of the Cross

The Sign of the Cross
Saturday, 26 March 2011 13:40
http://www.holytheotokosgreenville.org/pastoral-notes/36-pastoral-notes/128-
the-sign-of-the-cross

Dear Friends in Christ,

Positions of the Fingers While Making the Sign of the Cross, Licensed from

I'm writing this message the week before the Third Sunday of Lent, when we
commemorate the Holy Cross. The Holy Cross has such an important meaning to
us, that we celebrate it twice a year. Back in September's bulletin, I wrote
about the appearances of the Cross in history. Appearances of the Cross led
to such miracles as the conversion of the Emperor St. Constantine in AD 312.
Since we've so recently covered the appearances of the Cross, I would like
to take this opportunity to speak about a related subject, namely, the Sign
of the Cross.

Humans seem to have a natural desire to identify themselves as part of a
group. One of the ways that members of a group identify themselves to one
another, and cement their ties, is by the use of signs. A well-executed
performance elicits a thumbs-up, the peace sign became a symbol of a
generation opposed to war, and a certain obscene gesture can be used to
insult others. The handshake is used to greet and to seal a deal, and a
salute is used to show obedience to a superior.

Christians from the time of the Apostles have had their own unique sign as
well. This is the Sign of the Cross, which we should make many times a day.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (+ AD 386) writes:

Let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal,
made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in every thing; over the
bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in goings; before our
sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are traveling, and when
we are at rest.

In other words, making the Sign of the Cross should become second nature to
the Christian, because Christ should be Lord over all aspects of our life.

This Sign should be executed attentively, however; it should not be done out
of habit without reflecting on its action. Each of the many times that we
make the Sign, it should be done deliberately. Let us not fall into the trap
of thinking that by doing something often it will become rote; let us do it
often and with attention! Tertullian (+ AD 220) writes: "We Christians wear
out our foreheads with the Sign of the Cross."

We make the Sign of the Cross properly by taking the thumb, index finger,
and middle finger of our right hand, and joining them together. This
represents the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We then take the
ring finger and pinky finger of our right hand and close them into the palm
of our hand, representing the two natures of Jesus Christ: divine and human.
With our fingers in this formation, we move our hand to our forehead, to the
solar plexus (navel area), then to our right shoulder, then to our left
shoulder (it should be noted that Roman Catholics make the Sign from the
left to the right, but this is an innovation dating to the 13th century). We
should avoid what some call the "banjo" Sign of the Cross, where the Sign
appears to be more akin to a man strumming an instrument rapidly with no
discernable pattern!

The Sign of the Cross identifies us as Christians, and it wards off the
demons. In fact, in some lives of the saints, we see that when an "angel"
appeared to a monk, he would be naturally cautious and ask the "angel" to
make the Sign of the Cross. At this moment, in many cases, the "angel" would
reveal its true nature, that of a demon, and flee. Demons cannot make the
Sign of the Cross, because of the power of Jesus Christ that the Sign
communicates. In fact, we know that in the last times, some men will take
the Sign of the Beast, or the Devil, instead of the Sign of Christ, upon
themselves: ".that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or
the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:17). We
perhaps should not understand this mark to be literal in a physical sense,
but a figurative mark or sign that mimics in opposition the Cross of Christ
that Christians have made since the beginning of the Church. At the same
time, there is a spiritual reality that many of us cannot see because of our
sinfulness, such that the Sign we make with our hand may make a spiritual
impression that is visible to God and the Angels.

As a visible sign to other humans, making the Sign of the Cross marks us as
Christians. It is a mini- "confession of faith." We should never be ashamed
to make the Sign of the Cross in front of other people who are not
Christians (while of course keeping humility in mind). The Sign of the Cross
is seen by the patristic quotes above to be something that dates back to the
beginning of the Church, and should be performed by all Christians. Finally,
in the lives of the Saints, we see the power of the Cross. Many more
examples from the saints' lives could be elicited if there were space in
this column to include them. I encourage you all to do some research on the
topic!

Let us make the Sign of the Cross our own; let it adorn us in everything we
do. May it lead us to greater repentance, and to focus our lives even more
on Our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Fr. Anastasios

23 March 2011

Inward Sign of the Cross

Throughout its history the sign of the cross has been seen as a mark of Christian identity. From this perspective it is performed so that the sign may be seen by others.  This was the case especially in earlier Christian centuries, as well as during times when Christianity became threatened.

According to the sign's other meaning, which has become more prominent in the last twelve centuries, the gesture of the cross is also a self-blessing, a gesture that imitates and reflects the sacramental blessing of the priest.

As both interpretations suggest, it is not directed towards God - unlike the gesture of the outstretched arms. In the first case, as the mark of Christian identity, it is directed at someone else.  And in the second case, as a gesture of blessing, the sign is turned toward the self. In both cases, since it is traced over the body, its conceptual start is the most graspable sense of the self, which is the body. Where the gesture of the outstretched arms formed an invocation, the inward direction of the sign of the cross creates a gesture of profession of and acceptance of the faith.  Both the sign of the cross and the gesture of the outstretched arms signify prayer, but the direction, and therefore the meaning of the prayer formed by the gesture, is different in each case.

Lifting the hands is something we do when we address God in heaven. This form of address works similarly to the way we communicate among oursleves.  We speak, and our words are sent, offered toward and heard by the other person.  Tracing the sign of the cross over one's body is different.  We gesture the sign of the cross when we invite God to talk to us, to accept and clean our body and our entire being, so that our body becomes a temple for God to dwell in.  This kind of prayer is more contemplative in nature.  It starts with the self and is directed to God in heaven through an inward journey.


Andreas Andreopoulos
The Sign of the Cross: The Gesture, The Mystery, The History
Paraclete Press, 2006
pp 72-73

12 January 2011

Orthodox Church Celebrates 358th Anniversary of Bent Cross Oath

Orthodox Church Celebrates 358th Anniversary of Bent Cross Oath

Written By: on Jan 11th, 2011

 
MATTANCHERY: Orthodox Church celebrated the 358th anniversary of historical Bent Cross (Coonan Cross) Oath on Monday January 3, 2010 at the Mattanchery Church.

Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese Dr. Yakob Mar Irenaeus inaugurated the meeting. Fr. Geevarghese Kochuparambil Ramban delivered the keynote address. Fr. P.I. Varghese, Fr. Sunil Jacob, and Fr. Simon Joseph spoke on the occasion.

Special Holy Qurbana and prayers were conducted earlier to mark the remembrance of those fathers, who pledged 358 years back holding on to the rope tied upon the stone cross as a symbol of their renunciation of foreign dominance in faith.

The procession with 358 lighted candles donned a new experience of history to the faithful.

Fr. Geevarghese Thomas Panickasseril welcomed the gathering. Number of faithful from all neighboring parishes participated in the event.

http://www.orthodoxherald.com/2011/01/11/orthodox-church-celebrates-358th-anniversary-of-bent-cross-oath/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+orthodoxherald+%28Indian+Orthodox+Herald+-+Breaking+Church+News+And+Doctrinal+Information%29

03 January 2011

The Finding of the True Cross

+ The Finding of the True Cross +

According to Ethiopian Orthodoxy, after the ascension of Jesus, the
cross on which he was crucified began performing extraordinary
miracles. This raised the ire of the people who crucified Jesus, who
then ordered the cross to be removed and buried in the outskirts of
town. Residents living in the surrounding areas were commanded to dump
their garbage on the site, and for the next three centuries the area
turned into wasteland.

Three hundred years later, in the early fourth century, the Roman
Empire was being ruled by Constantine the Great. His mother, St.
Elleni (Helena), concerned about the plight of Christians, beseeched
her son to allow the free practice of Christendom in her son's empire.

The Emperor consented, and St. Elleni traveled from Constantinople to
Jerusalem to look for the buried Cross. Once in Jerusalem, however, no
one could tell her the exact spot where it lay. It is said that she
went into seclusion and prayed for God's guidance.

As a result of her prayer, St. Michael the Archangel appeared unto her
and gave her certain instructions. She ordered her soldiers and the
local residents to gather a pile of firewood. After a prayer, a fire
was set ablaze the wood. Clergymen doused incense on the flame and the
smoke of the incense rose up towards the sky then arched down to the
earth, pointing out the exact spot where the Holy Cross was buried.

Following this miraculous sign, digging began and commenced for six
months until the True Cross was discovered.

This has been the premise of the celebration of "Mesqel" in the
Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Since then, clergy and parishioners have
dressed in traditional, colorful clothing to sing ancient hymnals
dating back to the sixth century. A bonfire is lit up to memorialize
the finding of the True Cross.

http://www.ethiopianorthodoxchurch.info/CalanderFastsFeastsDays.html