Thursday, January 31, 2013

Archbishop Makarios' Tomb

Makarios III died unexpectedly, of a heart attack, on August 3, 1977. It has recently emerged that, in order to confirm the cause of death, Makarios' heart had been removed during an autopsy. The heart has since been preserved in his former bedroom in the Archbishopric. He is buried in a tomb on the mountain of Throni, a site he personally chose. The tomb is near Kykkos Monastery, where he served as a novice in the 1920s and 1930s.

At his funeral, held at St. John's Cathedral outside the Archbishopric in Nicosia, 182 dignitaries from 52 countries attended whilst an estimated 250,000 mourners—about half the Greek Cypriot population of the island—filed past the coffin.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Education and Globalization

On Tuesday 29th of January a Lecture was given in Greek by Professor Marios Begzos , Dean of the School of Theology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens at the Hellenic Centre, in the centre of London.. The topic was "Education and Globalization". This lecture was part of the celebrations for Christian and Greek Literature, organised by the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. The night began with a number of hymns by the Choir of the Archdiocese of Thyateira, followed by a brief introduction by Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Gregorios who introduced the speaker, commenting also on the them than globalization affects our society and our education. 

The Professor began by explaining the meaning of education. What we need is to promote happiness and not success. Every young person is looking for happiness. The ultimate objective is happiness, that can be achieved through success. There are two modes of happiness: 
a. possessiveness, which is promoted during the modern period, after the Renaissance epoch. This mode claims the idea, the more you have the better you are.
b. participation, which is promoted during the pre-modern period. This mode claims that happiness is evident through sacrifice and love for the other person. You, therefore, leave from the feeling of loneliness. 
It is evident that today the Western type of life is promoted, whereby prosperity in ones life is achieved via technology and individual freedom is achieved through politics, i.e. Human Rights, the government etc.Hence, people involved in technology and politics rule and will rule our modern epoch. However, these ideas can be argued and seem problematic. 

This relationship is understood as we comprehend the bad and the good, which do not exist but they coexist, just like the light and the shadow. We cannot separate them but we can distinguish them. The Professor quoted St. Makarios the Egyptian who stated what Hell is, which differs from the Western understanding of Hell. Hell is to not being able to see the other person, just like being in a queue where all you can see is the back of someones head. A modern paradigm would be being in a bar, where everyone has turned their back and all you can see are the objects in front of you. Therefore we understand that we need to leave aside our modern possessiveness and become participants in our modern world, between our fellow people. 
The second part of the talk was dedicated to the importance of Globalization. There is a positive and a negative part to it. 
The positives are that it comprises the best medicine for any division and isolation. It is the antidote to any isolation. It is the opportunity for any society to take and partake in the openness that it needs. How can a society be open without globalization?
The negative side, however, is that globalization is a new type of colonialism. Globalization means that the world becomes more westernised, following the American paradigm, i.e. one culture and one civilization imposes itself on other civilizations. This inevitably means that other cultures can disappear or become exhibitions in museums. America is a globalized country, due to its character and people, who are all immigrants. The same applies to the Diaspora, which is more globalized. 

The Diaspora was another topic of this talk, examining two examples - the Greeks and the Jews, how they progressed in their history and the importance of their respected Diasporas. Both these peoples are unique paradigms, since the current states of Greece and Israel are not the best depiction of their identity and culture, that they have to show. The states might be small, but the ethnoi are massive. 
What these two have promoted is Ecumenism and not Globalization. The first promotes respect for diversity whilst the second emphasises an imperialistic attitude to diversity; hence Globalization needs Ecumenism. Ecumenism can be promoted through the Greek identity and culture and through the Church, where the Greek language is performed. That is why the Greek language and literature is also identified as Christian. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why the Americans don’t own their London Embassy!

The Americans have embassies all around the world. In every case they buy the land first and then build their embassy. The Americans assumed that this would be possible in England; hence they asked the Duke of Westminster, who owned Grosvenor Square, how much they would have to pay to buy the freehold of the land.  However, what they did not know is that the Grosvenor family never sell. Their vast wealth is based precisely on this simple fact; they own their 300 acres of central London including most of Belgravia and Mayfair, not to mention land holdings all over the world. All the houses and offices on this land are leased; their freeholds are never sold.
When the Americans were told the news, they insisted that that was unacceptable, therefore petitioning to Parliament in order to force the Duke to sell. Nevertheless the Grosvenor family did not comply with any pressure.

The Duke then thought of a new compromise. He told the furious Americans whether they were prepared to return to the Grosvenor family all those lands in the USA that were stolen after the American War of Independence, then he would allow the Americans to buy their site on the west side of Grosvenor Square. However, the Americans knew that they were beaten, because the Grosvenor family was basically asking for most of Maine and New York, owned once by the family. They also were not prepared to merely hand over land that they had stolen from the Indians. Therefore, they backed down and the Duke of Westminster allowed them a 999 year lease.
That is why the American Embassy is considered one of the most bizarre and protracted processes of negotiation ever seen in London. It is the only American Embassy in the world which is not owned by the United States of America.

Monday, January 28, 2013

“The Armenian Christian Tradition: History Doctrine, Spirituality and Liturgy” at Heythrop College

The Centre for Eastern Christianity, Heythrop College, University of London will have a series of talks on “The Armenian Christian Tradition: History Doctrine, Spirituality and Liturgy”, given by Rev. Dr. Nerses Nersessian. It is interesting to identify how the Armenian Church has been in the centre of interest in ecclesiastical circles, such as the A.E.C.A. Here are the dates and themes of the coming talks, which will take place at Heythrop College, Kensington Square, London W8 5HN. There will be free admission and no registration is required.

30 January 2013, 4.30 pm – 6.00 pm in the Marie Eugenie Room.
The emergence of Armenia as a Christian state in the first half of the fourth century and the founding of the Armenian Church.
6 February 2013, 4.30 pm – 6.00 pm in the Marie Eugenie Room.
The Christology of the Armenian Church. The attitude of the Armenian Church to the first eight Ecumenical Councils. 
20February 2013, 4.30 pm – 6.00 pm in the Marie Eugenie Room.
Contacts and initiatives for reunion between the Armenian, Greek and Roman Churches. The ecumenical approaches of Nerses IV Klayetsi, called Shnorhali (1102-1173) and Nerses Lambronatsi (1152-1198).
27 February 2013, 4.30 pm – 6.00 pm in the Marie Eugenie Room.
The Armenian Church under the political authority of Ottoman Turkey, Tsarist Russia, and the Soviet Union.
6 March 2013, 4.30 pm – 5.30 pm in the Marie Eugenie Room.
The meaning of the Divine Liturgy for the Armenian Christians. Followed by a celebration of the Armenian Divine Liturgy in the Chapel of Maria Assumpta Convent by kind permission of the Sisters and reception hosted by the Centre for Eastern Christianity and the Armenian community. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. famous quotes

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.
Our scientific power as outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.
Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies –or else? The chain reaction of evil –hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.  
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “Of I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
The time is always right to do what is right.
At the centre of non-violence stands the principle of love. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

On Pilgrimages – St. Gregory of Nyssa

Many Christians go, at least once in their life, to a pilgrimage, whether it is to the Holy Land or to a monastery, Mount Athos, Meteora, or one of the Patriarchates. Every Christian should go to a pilgrimage in order to further his or her understanding of Christianity, come in contact with people who inspire the furtherance of faith. Nevertheless, St. Gregory of Nyssa speaks in regards to pilgrimages, discarding the belief that if one does not go to Jerusalem or the Holy Land he does not find the faith or that he is not a good Christian.

“Since, my friend, you ask me a question in your letter, I think that it is incumbent upon me to answer you in their proper order upon all the points connected with it. It is, then, my opinion that it is a good thing for those who have dedicated themselves once for all to the higher life to fix their attention continually upon the utterances in the Gospel, and, just as those who correct their work in any given material by a rule, and by means of the straightness of that rule bring the crookedness which their hands detect to straightness, so it is right that we should apply to these questions a strict and flawless measure as it were,-I mean, of course, the Gospel rule of life,-and in accordance with that, direct ourselves in the sight of God. Now there are some amongst those who have entered upon the monastic and hermit life, who have made it a part of their devotion to behold those spots at Jerusalem where the memorials of our Lord's life in the flesh are on view; it would be well, then, to look to this Rule, and if the finger of its precepts points to the observance of such things, to perform the work, as the actual injunction of our Lord; but if they lie quite outside the commandment of the Master, I do not see what there is to command anyone who has become a law of duty to himself to be zealous in performing any of them. When the Lord invites the blest to their inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, He does not include a pilgrimage to Jerusalem amongst their good deeds; when He announces the Beatitudes, He does not name amongst them that sort of devotion. But as to that which neither makes us blessed nor sets us in the path to the kingdom, for what reason it should be run after, let him that is wise consider. Even if there were some profit in what they do, yet even so, those who are perfect would do best not to be eager in practising it; but since this matter, when closely looked into, is found to inflict upon those who have begun to lead the stricter life a moral mischief, it is so far from being worth an earnest pursuit, that it actually requires the greatest caution to prevent him who has devoted himself to God from being penetrated by any of its hurtful influences. What is it, then, that is hurtful in it? The Holy Life is open to all, men and women alike. Of that contemplative Life the peculiar mark is Modesty. But Modesty is preserved in societies that live distinct and separate, so that there should be no meeting and mixing up of persons of opposite sex; men are not to rush to keep the rules of Modesty in the company of women, nor women to do so in the company of men. But the necessities of a journey are continually apt to reduce this scrupulousness to a very indifferent observance of such rules. For instance, it is impossible for a woman to accomplish so long a journey without a conductor; on account of her natural weakness she has to be put upon her horse and to be lifted down again; she has to be supported in difficult situations. Whichever we suppose, that she has an acquaintance to do this yeoman's service, or a hired attendant to perform it, either way the proceeding cannot escape being reprehensible; whether she leans on the help of a stranger, or on that of her own servant, she fails to keep the law of correct conduct; and as the inns and hostelries and cities of the East present many examples of licence and of indifference to vice, how will it be possible for one passing through such smoke to escape without smarting eyes? Where the ear and the eye is defiled, and the heart too, by receiving all those foulnesses through eye and ear, how will it be possible to thread without infection such seats of contagion? What advantage, moreover, is reaped by him who reaches those celebrated spots themselves? He cannot imagine that our Lord is living, in the body, there at the present day, but has gone away from us foreigners; or that the Holy Spirit is in abundance at Jerusalem, but unable to travel as far as us. Whereas, if it is really possible to infer God's presence from visible symbols, one might more justly consider that He dwelt in the Cappadocian nation than in any of the spots outside it. For how many Altars there are there, on which the name of our Lord is glorified! One could hardly count so many in all the rest of the world. Again, if the Divine grace was more abundant about Jerusalem than elsewhere, sin would not be so much the fashion amongst those that live there; but as it is, there is no form of uncleanness that is not perpetrated amongst them; rascality, adultery, theft, idolatry, poisoning, quarreling  murder, are rife; and the last kind of evil is so excessively prevalent, that nowhere in the world are people so ready to kill each other as there; where kinsmen attack each other like wild beasts, and spill each other's blood, merely for the sake of lifeless plunder. Well, in a place where such things go on, what proof, I ask, have you of the abundance of Divine grace? But I know what many will retort to all that I have said; they will say, "Why did you not lay down this rule for yourself as well? If there is no gain for the godly pilgrim in return for having been there, for what reason did you undergo the toil of so long a journey?" Let them hear from me my plea for this. By the necessities of that office in which I have been placed by the Dispenser of my life to live, it was my duty, for the purpose of the correction which the Holy Council had resolved upon, to visit the places where the Church in Arabia is; secondly, as Arabia is on the confines of the Jerusalem district, I had promised that I would confer also with the Heads of the Holy Jerusalem Churches, because matters with them were in confusion, and needed an arbiter; thirdly, our most religious Emperor had granted us facilities for the journey, by postal conveyance, so that we had to endure none of those inconveniences which in the case of others we have noticed; our waggon was, in fact, as good as a church or monastery to us, for all of us were singing psalms and fasting in the Lord during the whole journey. Let our own case therefore cause difficulty to none; rather let our advice be all the more listened to, because we are giving it upon matters which came actually before our eyes. We confessed that the Christ Who was manifested is very God, as much before as after our sojourn at Jerusalem; our faith in Him was not increased afterwards any more than it was diminished. Before we saw Bethlehem we knew His being made man by means of the Virgin; before we saw His Grave we believed in His Resurrection from the dead; apart from seeing the Mount of Olives, we confessed that His Ascension into heaven was real. We derived only thus much of profit from our travelling thither, namely that we came to know by being able to compare them, that our own places are far holier than those abroad. Wherefore, O ye who fear the Lord, praise Him in the places where ye now are. Change of place does not affect any drawing nearer unto God, but wherever thou may be, God will come to thee, if the chambers of thy soul be found of such a sort that He can dwell in thee and walk in thee. But if thou keep thine inner man full of wicked thoughts, even if thou was on Golgotha, even if thou was on the Mount of Olives, even if thou stood on the memorial-rock of the Resurrection, thou wilt be as far away from receiving Christ into thyself, as one who has not even begun to confess Him. Therefore, my beloved friend, counsel the brethren to be absent from the body to go to our Lord, rather than to be absent from Cappadocia to go to Palestine; and if anyone should adduce the command spoken by our Lord to His disciples that they should not quit Jerusalem, let him be made to understand its true meaning. Inasmuch as the gift and the distribution of the Holy Spirit had not yet passed upon the Apostles, our Lord commanded them to remain in the same place, until they should have been endued with power from on high. Now, if that which happened at the beginning, when the Holy Spirit was dispensing each of His gifts under the appearance of a flame, continued until now, it would be right for all to remain in that place where that dispensing took place; but if the Spirit "bloweth" where He "listeth," those, too, who have become believers here are made partakers of that gift; and that according to the proportion of their faith, not in consequence of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem”.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Signs of the Zodiac in a Church

Walking into Waltham Abbey, near London, the visitor is overwhelmed by the detailed ceiling. However, it contains a feature not often found in a Christian Church, i.e. the Signs of the Zodiac, which are often associated with fortune telling; nevertheless they do symbolise some aspects of the Christian faith.
The constellations have intrigued mankind since antiquity. The early astronomers noticed that 12 of the constellations seemed to form a band or zodiac round the sky, and that the sunrise appeared to follow that path, rising month by month in each of the 12 constellations in turn. It begins at the spring equinox in the constellation of Aries; hence each sign became a symbol of its month.   
The Christian Church used the symbols of the Zodiac, giving them a deeper theological and Christian meaning, in order to give good pictorial reminders to the masses. It is, of course, appropriate that the Zodiac is located in the ceiling of Waltham Abbey as, in the symbolism of church buildings, the ceiling represents Heaven.

The Waltham Abbey zodiac ceiling was designed by Williams Burges and executed in the 1860s as part of a pictorial scheme about Time. The pattern of the ceiling was based on the 13th century nave ceiling of Peterborough Cathedral; Burges made use of medieval Christian symbolism in his design.
The Zodiac signs, with their Christian meaning, are:
Aries the Ram represents the Creative Force, i.e. God himself. The accompanying labour is pruning, representing the cutting away of evil to bring new life to the soul.
Taurus the Bull represents the Creation of Heaven and Earth. It would be easy for people who live by farming to visualise a ram and a bull as symbols of creative energy. The Labour is spinning, a creative occupation, and also an old symbol of the tuning Universe.
Gemini the Twins symbolise Christ in His dual natures as God and man, one wearing green for eternal life and the other grey, symbolising death and resurrection. The Labour is picking flowers, symbolic of the flowering of God’s plan, and also of the Virgin, for the Sun enters Gemini at the end of May, i.e. her month.
Cancer the Crab symbolises the creation of the moon and sea-life. The Labour is weeding, removing evil from our lives and from the world.
Leo the Lion represents the creation of the sun and of life on the land. The Labour is harvesting, cutting the corn, a symbol of dying in order to be reborn, and gathering the ‘good seed’ to make the Bread which represents the body of Christ. 
Virgo the Virgin symbolises the creation of Mankind. As she is also the Mother of Christ (Theotokos), she reminds us of His humanity, holding the symbol of Justice, since she is our mediator. The labour is the grape harvest, from which comes wine, symbolising the Blood of Christ. 
Libra the Scales symbolises the essence of Mankind, balanced between good and evil, the natural and the spiritual and able to tip either way. The piper in the Labour represents mankind’s creative abilities.

Scorpio the Scorpion is symbolic of death and resurrection, since the creature habitually buries itself in the sand. It is also, according to mediaeval belief, the only creature other than Mankind which sometimes chooses to destroy itself, and so is a symbol of mankind’s freedom of choice between good and evil, life and death. The Labour drawing wine, reminds us of our hope of redemption through the shedding of Christ’s Blood.
Sagittarius the Archer represents the whole man with his animal and spiritual natures. The arrow symbolises his control over his own direction. The Labour of cutting wood is another symbol of dying to be born again.
Capricorn the Goat is half animal, half fish. It symbolises the nature of mankind, weighed down by sin, yet able to be redeemed, for the fish is a symbol of Christ. The Labour shows a man sitting by a fire, resting in the dead of winter, representing the dead awaiting resurrection. There is usually a loaf on the table in the depictions of the Labour, representing the Bread of the Eucharist.
Aquarius the Water-carrier shows the symbol of rebirth to a new life through baptism and the washing away of sin. The Labour is ploughing, preparing the soil to receive the seed of the Knowledge of God.
Pisces the Fishes. The fish is one of the oldest Christian symbols, representing Christ. The two fish remind us of his two natures. He is the way and the life, the successful conclusion of Mankind’s journey back to God, standing in the Zodiac at the end of the year and the beginning of another. The Labour is sowing, setting the seed that will bring the harvest.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Liturgy of St. Gregory celebrated in NW London

Yesterday night, 23rd January 2013 the Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory was celebrated at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Panteleimon and St. Paraskevi in Harrow, NW London. It was celebrated by a number of priests, a deacon, accompanied by a number of chanters, bringing therefore back to life a rarely celebrated Liturgy. 

This Liturgy was part of the celebrations for the nameday of St. Gregory and the current Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, Gregorios. Nevertheless, it is an annual event, celebrated by the same priests (who know the Liturgy), but in different locations. Last year it was celebrated at All Saints Greek Orthodox Cathedral, this year in Harrow and hopefully next year it will be celebrated at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Bayswater, central London.

Our hope is that one day this special and unique Liturgy will be published in order for everyone to follow the Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Exorcism within the Orthodox Tradition

Many films have puzzled everyone with their depiction of exorcisms and demon worship. However, it is interesting to identify what the Church believes. Here the Orthodox point of view will be given, but we first need to identify the source of this issue, i.e. the Devil.
The Devil was created by God as an angel, called Eosforos, being the brightest of the angles. However, due to his free will he chose to oppose God’s plans. Hence he and those who followed him became fallen angels, being not evil in nature but by will and action.  In the Bible they are referred to by various names, depending on the work they are assigned to, such as: devil, satan, serpent, deceiver, father of lies, tempter, Lucifer, murdered, chief of darkness, dragon, veelzevoul, veliar and eosforos. They wished to be independent from God, therefore a revolution took place among the angels, as expressed in Revelations 12:7-9,
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him”.
Satan has under his control and leadership legions and invisible powers; all of whom know and accept the existence of God, recognising therefore the true and devoted Christians. Their goal is to employ methods or deception in order to enslave man against God and the Heavenly Kingdom. Demons oppose the redemptive work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. They place obstacles in order to lead the faithful away from God. However, the Apocalypse (2:10) states: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life”.  This fight against good and evil will prevail until the end of days, until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, where the Devil will be destroyed.

The first to exorcise demons within the Christian tradition was Christ. In the New Testament he often expelled demons from the possessed (Mark 1:23-27, Luke 4:33-35, 9:43, Matthew 10:1, Mark 16:17, Matthew 7:22). However, the NT rejected popular uses of magic incantations and rites, as seen in all the Hollywood movies, due to the fact that they took advantage of superstitious religiosity (Acts 19:13).
Therefore we read in the New Testament that in the name of Christ, one is able to cast out demons and to destroy the evil powers, (Matthew 10:8). Church Fathers even refer to the issue of demons and exorcism, showing that this is a belief and a practice which is real for the Church. Orthodoxy accepts demonic possession of individuals and even of objects through the Sacrament of Baptism, where the satanic powers are exorcised.
To banish the demons, the Church instituted the service called exorcism. The word derives from the Greek word εξορκίζειν that means to deliver from evil spirits, to expel (an evil spirit). The exorcisms are prayers said by the priest in order to invoke God and expel evil spirits. The renunciation of the Devil during the Sacrament of Baptism shows the importance of this belief, introducing the newly baptised person into the communion with God, a soldier of Christ, fighting thus the ‘good war’ against the evil spirits.
The priest states:
“Drive out from him (her) every evil and unclean spirit, hiding and lurking in his (her) heart. The spirit of error, the spirit of evil, the spirit of idolatry and of all covetousness that works according to the teaching of the devil. Make him (her) a reason endowed sheep of the holy of Your Christ...”
Later on in the Sacrament a dialogue commences:
“Do you renounce Satan, and all his work, and all his worship, and all his angels, and all his pomp?
I do renounce him
Have you renounced Satan?
I have renounced him.
Then blow and spit on him.
Do you join Christ?
I do join Him...”
So we understand here that it is a requirement that the faithful have to oppose evil and take the side of God. However, there are other prayers written by Saints, such as Saint Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom. They are prayers for those who are afflicted by demons and sickness in general.  Other prayers were written by St. Modestos, Martyr Trifon, St. Hypatios (who wrote an exorcism prayer for afflicted men and animals), St. Mamas and many more.
These prayers were normally read in order to protect a person from affliction, rather than after some demonic influence. The service of exorcism (outside Baptism) is a simple service, where the priest merely reads out the prayers. This is the case because it was not to be used frequently by the Church, since the service of catechumens at the Service of Baptism was considered sufficient for the banishment of evil.
How does someone determine that one is possessed? It is a hard thing to accomplish, especially when one looks at past cases, mainly during the medieval era in the West. There should be a distinction, between psychological problems and possession; however, the exorcist has no certain criteria to determine whether or not a person is actually possessed. 
What we all need to achieve, in order to live a good and prosperous life, according to God’s will is to follow his commandments, his example and liv within a constant state of communion (koinonia) with Him. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”, (Rom. 12:21). 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Victor Emmanuel Monument, Rome

Victor Emmanuel Monument is known as Vittoriano. It began in 1885 and was inaugurated in 1911 in honour of King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, the first King of a unified Italy. The king is depicted in a gilt bronze equestrian statue, oversized –just like the monument.

The edifice also contains a museum of the Risorgimento, the events that led to unification. Built in white Brescian marble, the wedding cake, as it is also known, will never mellow into the ochre tones of surrounding buildings. It is widely held to be the epitome of self-important, insensitive architecture, though the views it offers are spectacular.

Vittorio Emanuelle II, the first born son of Charles Albert, was elevated to the Sardinian thrown following his father’s abdication in March 1849. In 1859 he fought alongside France in the war against Austria (the Second War of Independence), in the process winning Lombardy. In 1860, the Kingdom of Sardinia annexed the regions of Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and the Marches, followed by the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. On 14th March 1861, Vittorio Emanuele II took on the title King of Italy. After 20th September 1870 and the taking of Porta Pia, Rome became the Capital of Italy and the King transferred his residence to the Quirinal Palace. On the kings death bed (9th January 1878) his successor, Umberto I, agreed to entomb his father at the Pantheon. However, two years later, in 1880, the first competition was posted regarding the erection of a monument in Rome to Vittorio Emanuele II, which was eventually to become the Vittoriano at Piazza Venezia.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory the Theologian, 23rd January 2013

The Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory the Theologian will be celebrated on the 23rd of January 2013 at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Panteleimon and St. Paraskevi (660 Kenton Road, Harrow, Middx. HA3 9QN). The Liturgy is part of the framework of the annual celebrations for Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, Grgeorios.

This is a rare Liturgy, not celebrated by most Orthodox Churches, making it thus a unique case for many who would like to celebrate this ancient and magnificent Divine Liturgy. It will be celebrated by Priests and Deacons with the blessing of His Eminence Gregorios. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Walking around Bath and Bristol, I came across numerous windows that our modern world tries to preserve, in order to highlight the architectural beauty and genius of a past era; however, they remain forgotten and even exiled from the epochal architectural plans of an epoch which promotes simpler and even cheaper solutions. It makes one think, how today we marvel at past greatness, whilst reconciling for a simpler style. Nevertheless, we should remain grateful that past wars and city plans did not alter the beauty of the buildings and therefore the windows, which we can today be amazed with. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

MTh Orthodox Studies

In the last few years there has been an increase of interest in Orthodox Christian theology. Through ecumenical dialogue (there are commissions for dialogue between the Orthodox and the Anglican Church, as well as between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church) as well as through the high-profile writings of certain Orthodox theologians (such as Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, Anthony of Sourozh, Elder Sophrony, Fr. John Behr and Fr. Andrew Louth) Orthodox theology has been increasingly influential in theological circles in the UK. In addition, Orthodox Christianity is the only one among episcopal churches in the last few years whose membership is steadily increasing in the UK and North America – with a rate second only to the Pentecostal Church. For these reasons, there are a number of people who are interested in studying the theology, the tradition, the history and the culture of the Orthodox Christian Church.

The MTh in Orthodox Studies, which is taught at the University of Winchester, is a postgraduate programme that responds to those needs and is directed towards people who have already some theological formation and have received a taste of Orthodox theology before they decide to study it formally. This programme is not only addressed to members of the Orthodox Church. Instead, the structure of the programme makes it interesting equally to members of the Orthodox Church who would like to further the knowledge and understanding of their own tradition, and to non-Orthodox who would like to study Orthodox theology in a scholarly way.
The programme offers a wide-ranging study of Orthodox Christian tradition and practice, including theology, history, ecclesiology, tradition, liturgy and art. It draws on a variety of academic disciplines and discourses to enable students to reflect critically on the entirety of Orthodox faith, tradition and practice. Students with a background in Orthodox studies have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding at a higher academic level, while those of different backgrounds are enabled to approach Orthodox thought and tradition critically and connect, compare and contrast it with their own theological background.

Study enables students to research the Orthodox, early Christian and patristic tradition, and connect it to broader areas of human life and understanding in contemporary, multicultural societies. Students explore and reflect critically upon Orthodox experience, developing an informed awareness of the dynamic nature of the Orthodox Christian tradition and a facility in the theological task of subjecting this tradition to a process of testing and renewal.
The Modules for this Postgraduate course include: Introduction to Orthodox Theology, Orthodox Ascetic Mysticism, Dionysios the Aeropagite, Icons: Theology in Colours, The Experience of Orthodox Monasticism, Orthodoxy in the Modern World, Ancient Laws in a Modern World: an Introduction to Orthodox Canon Law, Non-Chalcedonian Christianity: Egypt and Ethiopia, Special Study: Byzantium and Beyond and many more.
The programme leader is Dr. Andreas Andreopoulos, who is Senior Lecturer in Orthodox Christianity. For more information you can visit the website of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at:  

Or email Dr. Andreopoulos on