Thursday, April 30, 2015

Living according to the image

‘Man is made in the image of God. When we see a saint we see a man who is not only an image of God but who has lived according to that image. A saint is a man in whom virtue and holiness exist, a man who is righteous and just. The Gospel did not win the world by fire or the sword, but through the way of holiness and goodness, “. . . that ye may be blameless and harmless, the children of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation” (Phil. 2:15).’[1]

[1] Vernezos, Ioannis, Life and Recent Miracles of Saint John the Russian, (Prokopi, 1999), p. 23.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Street Art, Mytilene

When one talks about the Greek islands, street art is not part of that picture. Nevertheless, in the capital city of Lesvos (the third largest Greek island), Mytilene, this is a reality. Street art is to be found all over this city, giving a colourful note to the city’s modern expression. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pilgrimage to Mount Athos – AECA

The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association is organising a pilgrimage (for men) to Mount Athos, Greece, 7-12 September 2015. Mount Athos or Agion Oros, as it is locally known, is one of the oldest surviving monastic communities in the world. For over a millennium unbroken spiritual activity has survived on this isolated peninsula, in a semi-autonomous monastic republic following the Julian calendar. Of the twenty monasteries, there are Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian communities. They possess holy relics, icons, frescoes, mosaics of great value and vast array of historical texts, rare documents and manuscripts – all historical heirlooms – are kept in their libraries.

We shall be visiting different monasteries, walking the quiet Athonite forest paths and marvel at the monastic architecture and art treasures and experience afresh the Orthodox way of life, prayer and worship. It is an experience you will not forget.
The approximate cost of the pilgrimage is £300 not including tips and donations. The administration fee for the AECA members is £25 and £40 for non-AECA members.
To express an interest please contact our Pilgrimage Secretary Fr Andrei Petrine:
Office: 01268 411190
Mobile: 07723026925
Facebook: Anglican and Eastern Churches Association

The association is under the co-Patronage of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. To become a member of the AECA, please visit our website. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen – Stockholm

Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen islets, in Stockholm, were once a secret to the world. Almost everything on the two islets were built during the era of the fleet. It began in the 1640s, when the isles became a naval base for warships of the Swedish fleet. The navy was vital to great-power Sweden, which had provinces around the Baltic Sea. There was an earlier naval base on nearby Blasieholmen Island, where the Royal and historic warship Vasa was built.

Military operations began to be phased out in the 1940s and in 1969 most operations were moved to Berga and Musko. Since then, more buildings have been converted into public amenities such as museums, theatres, restaurants and schools. Modern buildings have also been added, biggest of them being the building belonging to Modern Museet, and the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, complete in 1998.

One of the most prominent tourist attraction is, undoubtedly, the crown on the bridge between mainland Stockholm and Skeppsholmen, located right opposite the Royal Palace in the Old Town of the capital. 

The two islets form part of the Royal National City Park. The park was created in 1995 as the first of its kind in the world. The area has significant natural and cultural values, and comprises everything from royal palaces to former military installations. Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen are part of the heritage jointly owned by the people of Sweden through the state. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Church

“The existence of the Church can be compared to nothing else upon earth, for no earth there is no unity, but only separation. Only in heaven is there anything like it. The Church is a perfect, a new, a peculiar, a unique existence upon earth, a unicum, which cannot be closely defined by any conception taken from the life of the world.

The Church is the likeness of the existence of the Holy Trinity, a likeness in which many become one. Why is it that this existence, just as the existence of the Holy Trinity, is new for the old man and unfathomable for him? Because personality in its carnal consciousness is a self-imprisoned existence, radically contrasted with every other personality”[1]. “Thus the Christian must in the measure of his spiritual development set himself free, making a direct contrast between the ‘ego’ and the ‘non-ego’ he must radically modify the fundamental qualities o human self-consciousness”[2].

[1] Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky), The Moral Idea of the Dogma of the Church, Works, Vol. II, (St. Petersburg, 1911), pp. 17-18
[2] Ibid., The Moral Idea of the Dogma of the Holy Trinity, p. 65

Saturday, April 25, 2015

St Vitus Cathedral, Prague

St Vitus Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece, being importantly the spiritual symbol of Czech Republic. This Cathedral has a unique status in the Prague Archdiocese, being the capital church of the archbishop of Prague. The Cathedral is the main pilgrimage site of the Prague Archdiocese. Located in the Prague Castle complex, St Vitus is the one building which dominates the complex. The Cathedral is the third Church consecrated to the same saint on the identical site.

About the year 925 AD Prince Vaclav I founded a Romanesque rotunda here which after 1060 was converted into a basilica with three naves and two steeples. The significance of the Cathedral grew especially after the establishment of the Prague Bishopric (973) and the founding of the body of canons – the St Vitus chapter, which later became an important cultural and administrative institution.

The current Cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV, and construction began in 1344. This Church took almost six centuries to complete; the final phase of construction being in the period 1873-1929. This Cathedral has also overseen the coronation of Czech kings and queens. Here one finds many tombs and mausoleums of past kings, queens and saints of the country. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Letter from the People of the Cross to ISIS

The world is talking about you
Your apocalyptic dreams and spectacular sins
Are now awakening the middle east
In your holy war, come to holy ground
Come children of Abraham come
The people of the cross gathers at your gates with a message
Love is coming after you.
Like a rush of wind grazing over the pacific
From hills of the mount of olives to the desert winds of Jordan
From the cedars of lebanon to the silk roads of the East
An army comes. With no tanks or soldiers
But an army of martyrs faithful unto death
Carrying a message of life
The people of the cross 
Comes to die at your gates. 
If you wont hear our message with words
Then we will show you with our lives
Laid down.

For every throat you slit and every woman you rape
For every man you burn and every child you turn to dust
There is blood on your hands brother
But Come Brothers Come
Come with your bloodstained hands,
Come with your eyes full of murder for the people of the Cross,
Come lay your guns and your knives at the foot of the cross
A love that is overdue and overwhelming
Breathes through your cities
Though your sins are like scarlet
They can be washed white as snow
Though you call yourselves servants
He will make you into Sons
Where can you run from His love?
Even the darkness cannot hide you
Come Brothers Come
There is the sound of a rushing rain
To remove your sins and bind your wounds
You die for your god but our God died for us 
The King of Kings comes to be the sacrificial lamb
Slain on the altar where we should have been
Jesus Christ, Isa Al Masih
Walks through the Middle East
There is forgiveness tonight oh brother
There is healing for your sins oh brother
We are no different.
Apart from Christ, we are no better than the worst jihadist
Christ has been crucified once. and for All.
To make sinners like you and me into brothers
Even you.
Even now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

St George Orthodox Church, Kifisia – Athens

In the North Athens suburb of Kifisia lies St. George Orthodox Church, a beautiful church, with fantastic icon paintings. This church was built in the mid-1920’s maintaining the architectural style of that period, i.e. being somewhat influenced by the West. Nonetheless, it has a dome, reminding us of a Basilica with a dome, the combination adopted after the 5th and 6th century in Byzantium.

The icon paintings adorn the whole interior of the church, depicting a number of events from Christ’s life on earth. It is interesting to identify that the dome was icon-painted by one person, whilst the rest of the church by another icon-painter. The first follows the westernised tradition, whilst the latter the Byzantine. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The largest collection of Whisky in the world

The largest collection of whisky in the world is located in its birthplace, Scotland, and specifically in Edinburgh. Named after its collector, the Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection is a dominant part of the Scotch Whisky Experience one may have near the Edinburgh Castle.

In the 1970s Claive Vidiz, a whisky enthusiast and founder member of the Brazilian Association of Whisky Collectors, started to acquire Scotch whisky of varying type, cost and rarity. He amassed almost 3,400 bottles over 35 years. This collection he later donated to Scotland. Claive Vidiz had said “We have an expression in Brazil, ‘the good son returns home,’ and in my view the collection is back with its family now.” 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Church, according to St Paul

There are countless definitions of what the Church is, within the Orthodox World. Reading the Bible one finds an interesting definition of what the Church is, which also applies in our epoch too. St Paul describes the Church as the Body of the faithful, making it a personal issue, explaining that:

‘We are treated as imposters, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.’ (II Cor. 6:8-10).