Further thoughts of an Orthodox Brit

General collective thoughts and shares of a 28 year old British Orthodox Christian Full Deacon, under the Coptic Patriarchate. Expect to find: Orthodox News, Church Fathers Quotes, Book Reviews and the odd personal thought/post. Don't expect to find: Polemics, support for Theological divergence, support for Phyletism.

The Lord fasted to teach you the struggle and the victory. He drank vinegar and the bitterness to give sweetness to your soul.
Saint john Saba
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Go to hell, orthodox freak.
theorthodoxbritreturns theorthodoxbritreturns Said:

Have you not heard that the gates of Hell will never prevail over the Church of God?

You go to a Coptic Orthodox Church in England?
theorthodoxbritreturns theorthodoxbritreturns Said:

I serve as a deacon in the British Orthodox Church, a jurisdiction which is Canonically part of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.

Even if you do not possess a pure heart, at least let your speech be pure.
St Isaac of Nineveh

Two pics taken by congregation members yesterday during the hierarchical Liturgy in Cusworth.

1) Me censing the Gospel for His Eminence Abba Seraphim El-Souriani.

2) Picture of the Deacons, Priests and Metropolitan present.

After attacking Archbishop Anastasios, after attacking the people that work for the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, after spreading all sorts of slander and lies about the Orthodox canons and statutes, after defaming the history of faith, it is now the turn of our saints. Specifically, most recently the articles that have appeared in certain media, in which they speak evil for one of the most revered saints among the Albanians and beyond – St. Cosmas (martyred in 1779).

One of the false arguments used says that the honoring of this great martyr has not existed among the Albanian Orthodox Christians; even if it has begun, started after 1961, when with the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate he was placed on the list of the revered saints by all the Orthodox Churches. All of this is not true; the honoring of Saint Cosmas as a local saint began in the XVIII century, in all those areas where he made an extraordinary contribution to awaken the oppressed conscience of the Orthodox people from the long night of Ottoman rule, evidently halting the Islamization of these regions. This is proven by the consciousness of the Albanian Orthodox people, by the frescoes and icons, the ecclesiastical service for the saint, his monastery built with the care of Ali Pashë Tepelena (1814-1815) and above all, it is proven by the great honor accorded to him by all of the people, even those that are not Orthodox, wherever he preached.

Proof of this honor prior to 1961, which refutes that which is claimed by the anti-Orthodox people, among many others, is what was written and published by two of the greatest personalities of our Church: Bishop Theofan Noli and the first canonical Archbishop, His Beatitude Kristofor Kisi.

Bishop Theofan Noli in 1947, in Boston, published the book, “Kremtorja” (The Feasts) of the Orthodox Church. In his introduction he says: “The translation … we made from Greek, with the exception of the hymns of St. Cosmas of Berat, which we paraphrased from the Albanian version by His Beatitude, Kristofor Kisi, Archbishop of Albania”. And on pages 754-763 gives the Church service for this saint.

So, Bishop Theophan Noli, in 1947 (which is before 1961) calls him Saint Cosmas of Berat and the service of the saint is taken from a 1931 edition of Bishop Kristofor Kisi, who has written much about St. Cosmas.

So, for Bishop Theofan Noli and for His Beatitude, Kristofor Kisi, Saint Comas of Berat was not an anti-Albanian, nor “not a saint”, as the anti-Orthodox gentry has been trumpeting.

The following are three documentations that show the honor and the ancient tradition of the honoring of St. Cosmas among Albanians:

- Fragments from the book of the Bishop, Theophan Noli, “Kremtore e Kishës Orthodokse”, Boston, 1947 (the Liturgical Book that we use today in Orthodox Churches of Albania).

- The cover of book of His Beatitude Kristofor Kisi for St. Cosmas, “The Biography and Akoluthia of the New Martyr and Isapostulos Saint Cosmas”, Korçë 1931.

- The XIX century fresco of the saint in the monastery dedicated to him.

Fragments from the book of the Bishop, Theophan Noli, “Kremtore e Kishës Orthodokse”, Boston, 1947.

On 25-26 August 2014, the 9th meeting of the Joint Russian-Iranian Commission for Orthodoxy-Islam Dialogue took place in the capital of Iran. This year, the meeting was dedicated to the theme “Importance and Strengthening of Cooperation and Mutual Understanding between Islam and Orthodoxy.”

The delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church included Archbishop Feofilakt of Pyatigorsk and Cherkessk; archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, professor of the Moscow Theological Academy; Archimandrite Alexander (Zarkeshev), rector of St Nicholas Cathedral in Tehran; archpriest Sergiy Zvonarev, secretary for far abroad countries of the Department for External Church Relations; Rev. Dimitry Safonov, head of the DECR sector for interreligious contacts; Ms. Elena Dunaeva, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The session opened in a conference-hall of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of Iran. Its head, Dr. Abouzar Ebrahimi, warmly greeted the church delegation and delivered an opening address.

Archbishop Feofilakt read out His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s greeting to the participants in the meeting and delivered a report “On Witness of Faith and Subject-Matter of Interfaith Dialogue.”

Mr. Ali Younesi, adviser to the Iranian President on religious minorities, told those present about the policy of the Iranian state in regard to religious minorities.

In his address,Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri, who had stood at the origins of the Orthodoxy-Islam Dialogue, emphasized that combined efforts were needed to overcome extremism and violence.

At the conclusion of the first part of the forum, Archbishop Feofilakt thanked the Iranian side for the warm and cordial welcome and wished the sessions to continue in the same spirit of mutual understanding, characteristic of such meetings.

The first section was called “Religious Extremism and Ways to Oppose It.”

Opening the session, Hojat-ol-Islam Dr. Seyyed Javad Beheshti described the position of the Iranian theologists on the origins of extremism which uses religion as a cover.

In his address, Rev. Dimitry Safonov focused on the problem of extremism under religious slogans. He briefly introduced the participants in the session to addresses and official statements of the supreme authority of the Russian Orthodox Church on this issue and shared the results of the research on activities of extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Archbishop Feofilakt acted as a moderator of the section “Veneration of Martyrs in Islam and Christianity”. During the section, archpriest Vladislav Tsypin delivered a report “On Feat and Veneration of Martyrs in the Russian Orthodox Church.”

In his address, the former head of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of Iran, Mr. Mohammadi Iraqi, told about the veneration of martyrs for faith in Islam.

The next section summarized the results of eight previous rounds of the dialogue which began in 1997. Archimandrite Alexander (Zarkeshev) told those present about the history of Orthodoxy in Iran and made an evaluation of all eight meetings in which he had taken part. In her report “Orthodoxy-Islam – The Way to Strengthen Trust and Broaden Cooperation between Russia and Iran”, Ms. Elena Dunaeva spoke about the role of the Commission for the development of intercultural and interstate relations between the people of the two countries.

Mr. Mohammad Masjed Jamei, senior consultant at the University of Religions in Qom, told the participants in the meeting about the academic tradition of studying Orthodoxy at the Iranian theological schools.

On 25 August 2014, the church delegation met with representatives of Christian communities of Iran, invited to the forum. The meeting took place on the initiative of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church. Among its participants were Archbishop Mar Narsai Benyamin, head of the Diocese of Iran of the Assyrian Church of the East, as well as clergymen representing the Armenian Church (Catholicosate of Cilicia), the Assyrian Presbyterian Church and other Christian communities. During the meeting, Christians from Iran told about their life in that country. Archbishop Feofilakt warmly greeted them and told them about the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church to help Christians in the Middle East.

The section “Religious Minorities and Necessity of Peaceful Coexistence in the World” opened the second day of the forum. Rev. Dimitry Safonov acted as a moderator of that section.

During the section, archpriest Sergiy Zvonarev delivered a report on Modern Peacemaking Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Middle East.

Mr. Seyed Abolhasan Navvab, rector of the University of Religions and Denominations, presented his views on the topic of the section. Ayatollah Hadavi Tehrani delivered a report on extremism under religious slogans.

The participants in the section noted the similarity of their positions concerning the overcoming of extremism and decided to continue their joint work on this issue.

A final communiqué was adopted at the concluding session.

The forum aroused interest among the Iranian mass media. Attending the sessions were dozens of the Iranian scholars specializing in religious studies, as well as post-graduate students and students of the universities of Iran.

More than a decade ago, Amir Harrak spent three sweltering summers in his native Iraq, photographing inscriptions written in the Classical Syriac language. The University of Toronto researcher had set out to document the centuries-old engravings, knowing many would eventually be lost.

In July, his worries returned when Islamic State militants took over the Catholic monastery of Mar Behnam in northern Iraq and detonated explosives that destroyed the Mosque of the Prophet Younis (Jonah), near the city of Mosul.

“It is catastrophic,” said Mr. Harrak, a professor of Syriac and Aramaic languages at U of T, home to the world’s largest photograph collection of Syriac inscriptions from Iraq, including several from Mar Behnam Monastery. “These inscriptions are not only local — some talk about world events, wars, epidemics. They contain all kinds of information, in addition, of course, to this Christian heritage of Iraq that dates basically from the time of the Apostles,” he said.

A dialect of a 3,000-year-old Semitic language, Syriac became the language of Christianity in the Middle East. Syriac inscriptions, dating back to the first century AD, are often written in poetic meter and have been found in Lebanon and Syria, throughout Iraq and Iran, and as far east as India and China — proof of an Eastern Christian tradition before European missionaries ventured to Asia to spread Western ideas of Christianity.

Unlike manuscripts, inscriptions are unedited documents, etched into materials such as stone, wood and metal, that reveal key cultural and historical details often left out in works of literature.

“If we have an inscription dating to, let’s say the second century, that — as the saying goes — is ‘in stone,’” said Colin Clarke, director of the Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED). “That record is frozen in time, whereas works of literature get rewritten as time goes on.”

Last November, the CCED — which is located at U of T but operates as an independent institution — opened access to a database of Syriac inscriptions, drawing from Mr. Harrak’s collection of more than 600 photographs, picturing many inscriptions from Iraq that are now damaged or lost. To document them, Mr. Harrak had spent long days cleaning and transcribing the inscriptions by hand.

Recently, scholars learned that the explosion at the Mosque of Jonah unearthed Syriac inscriptions from a church beneath the shrine. Mr. Harrak has been in contact with researchers in hopes that the inscriptions will be preserved and that photographs will be added to the CCED’s online catalogue.

The centre, founded in 2010, doesn’t receive funding and is staffed entirely by volunteers — librarians, archivists and graduate students who dedicate many hours to preserving and digitizing extant copies of inscriptions.

“The actual nuts and bolts of what we’re doing is done by information professionals. No other epigraphy project does that,” Mr. Clarke said. “I think that we’ve done remarkably well for a project that’s really only been in public for six to eight months.”

On Wednesday 27 August, the Heads of Middle East Churches met at the Maronite Patriarchate in Bkerke (Lebanon). His Holiness Aram I joined the meeting, accompanied by Bishop Shahé Panossian and Rt. Rev. Housig Mardirossian, the ecumenical officer.

The participants met to further consider items they had discussed at the recent visit of the Patriarchs to Iraq and to prepare a public statement on the situation. After sharing their impressions on the plight of Christian refugees, the Patriarchs agreed to highlight the following points: Christians belong in the region and they will stay and defend their rights; the strategy and actions of the extremists do not reflect the teachings and values of Islam; Christians will join hands with moderate Muslims of the region; and the international community should assist local Christians in combatting conservative Islam.

At the end of their meeting, the Patriarchs received and shared their concerns with the UN representative in Lebanon and the ambassadors of the five UN Security Council member countries, the U.S.A, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, France and the representative of the Holy See. His Holiness Aram I warned the ambassadors that extremist Islam is not only a menace to Christians, but also to Islam and the whole world, and urged them to adopt a holistic strategy that would include political and economic issues along with the humanitarian aid and military considerations.

After thanking the patriarchs for the invitation and for sharing their thoughts with them, the ambassadors promised to take the matter to their respective governments.

75 year-old Najib and his wife Dalal (Delilah), 72, were too old and ill to leave their town Baghdede when it fell to ISIS on August 7, when the majority of the population fled the town of over 50,000 Christians, the largest Christian city in Iraq. But two days ago they were forced to leave by ISIS gunmen.Najib, an elderly and sickly man, had no strength to escape and would have preferred to stay in his hometown to his last days, but ISIS forced him to leave the town when he and his wife were brought across the river and left to manage on their own.

It was a long journey that lasted from 10:00 AM until midnight.

They walked for hours under the Iraqi sun, where the hot air dries the bone and temperatures often reache 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit). Najib was barely able to stand on his feet.

ISIS stole the couple’s ID cards and all their money. They did not even have any food or water for the long trek to Arbel. At the outset, Dalal barely managed to pull her ailing husband, trying to distance themselves from ISIS. They leaned on each other until Dalal passed out. A man, another Assyrian refugee, carried Najib on his back for a few hours, then a nun who was driving a primitive wagon carried Najib until they reached the Kurdish check point at which time he was transferred from there by an ambulance to Arbel.

Today I met the elderly couple and they were in the top floor of a vacant shopping center in the city of Arbel. Najib was sick and weak and could not do anything except lie down on the bed in one room with his wife, where they shared it with three other families. Najib could not even get up and go to the bathroom since he developed bruises and sores on his back and his legs after he was pulled on the road. These sores appear like gangrene in one foot, and he needs immediate medical care and medication.

One of the local Christians asked that this floor, empty of shops, be provided as the Mall for the refugees. He is one of the many local people who help the refugees as best they can. A lot of the refugees ask a lot of help from churches who are doing everything in their power to provide the basic necessities of food, water and medicine.

I came to Arbel yesterday afternoon and there were many tears on my face today, people are very worried and bewildered.

Leah Sorith is the envoy of Danmission, a Danish Foundation working to help and support the displaced people in northern Iraq through the Chaldean Church.

Translated by Rashwan Essam AlDakak. Edited by AINA. Original story on ankawa.com.