Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Athena Statue, Antwerp

When visiting a new place, visitors tend to explore in order to identify the culture, religion, history or this new place. It is interesting how many destinations around the world display Greek themes statues, inspired by Ancient Greek culture, religion, history, myths and legends. 

Such is the case with Antwerp, in Belgium, where one finds a statue of Goddess Athena, along the River Scheldt. Goddess Athena, being the patron of Athens, daughter of Zeus, Goddess of Wisdom, is a symbol found in many places, such as York (North England), as seen through a previous post on this blog.[1]

Monday, December 5, 2016

2017 Pocket Diary - Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain

The new pocket diary (2017) of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain is now out. This is one of two diaries that the Archdiocese publishes annually, the second being much larger, with many details for each parish in Great Britain and Ireland. Archbishop Gregorios’ Prologue, which is to be found in this pocket diary, follows:

‘With the help and grace of the Triune God, we have entered the New Year 2017. For this reason, I am extending my warm wishes and heart-felt season’s greetings to the Faithful and the Officers of this Biblical Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople. I wish that the Master of time who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End of this year, but also the joy and blissful hope of every Christian and of the whole of Humanity, grant us all with His rich earthly and heavenly gifts.
May our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the Peace, prevailing over every mind,” grant the world and the Church concord, cooperation, reconciliation and His love, so that we all chant for and praise Him in unison as the True God and the Father of us all in eternity. Amen.
Following its long tradition, our Archdiocese is publishing the small-size and large-size Diary for the year 2017, to enlighten and offer a spiritual gift to the Orthodox Christians who comprise its Flock under Christ. We are certain that you will all support our effort and offer your financial and moral support in deed to facilitate the publication and circulation of the Diary of the Archdiocese. Special thanks are due to all those who every year contribute their efforts to the publication of the large and small Diary, whose cost keeps increasing every year. Last year, a series of important events took place in the life of our Church and Christendom in general. Indicatively, I mention that last June, divine providence permitted the Orthodox Synod to take place in Crete, after many centuries. This Orthodox Synod in a spirit of brotherly love and peace, studied the various issues of the worldwide Orthodox Churches and declared compellingly and under God’s wisdom the Orthodox faith and Tradition and asserted its spiritual presence and its willingness to contribute, along with the other Churches and state organisations, to the preservation of world peace, the struggle against terrorism, religious fanaticism and bigotry, the protection of the environment and the respect towards the Creation and the reign of God across the World.
During the last year, the Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne was deprived of the scientific and clerical services of the educated, Greek-speaking Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne, the late Ephrem Lash. May the Lord accept him in the tents of the righteous and receive his translational and theological contributions as his offer of spiritual myrrh to the Throne of God.

Our last year has bequeathed us the decision of the British people to leave the European Union, whose member they have been since 1973. We hope and pray that the new government in charge of which is Her Excellency Mrs Teresa May, will act in wisdom, providence and prophetic insight to that they will secure stable and fruitful relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, because, as His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr Justin Welby has recently stated, “we may have left the European Union but we remain in Europe.” As it is well known, the Prime-minister is a religious person, a frequent church-goer and has been imbued with the Christian faith she has inherited from her late father, who was an Anglican priest. It cannot be overstressed that the concern and pursuit of the European Union is the protection of the peace, security, democracy, freedom, the priceless, existential gifts of the European civilisation and of that prophetic Organisation members of which the rest of the European states aspire to become.
We also note that this year, the Western Church and the rest of Christendom is celebrating the 500th anniversary (1517-2017) of the declaration of the religious Reformation by the German priest-monk and theologian Martin Luther. As it is known, that day constitutes a milestone in the division of Western Christianity, causing a split in the Roman Catholic Church after which Protestantism emerged as the polar opposite of the Western Roman Catholic Church. The advent of Reformation brought on great catastrophes and continuous wars in Europe. After five hundred years, Western Christianity has now been reconciled and despite its remaining various, including theological, differences, is preparing to celebrate the anniversary and recount the great contribution of Reformation to theology, the dissemination of the meaning of the Gospel and the translation of the Holy Bible in many languages and dialects that helped the missionary effort and Christianisation of the peoples in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
This holy Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne, which is active in the United Kingdom and Ireland, is continuing with the provision of services to its Flocks. And despite the difficulties of modern Society, the religious alienation of great numbers of European society and the pressures of modern life, the Orthodox Christians of the Country remain faithful to their Church. But we should mention, in a spirit of repentance and humility that the Lord’s Vineyard is in need of greater numbers of workers, Clergy and Laity, to achieve the return to the Gospel and the rejuvenation of the faith and age-old devotion of the faithful People. With continuous, unremitting prayer, frequent church-going, the Holy Communion, the divine Sermon, charity, the benefits accruing from the study of the Divine Word and the teachings of the Fathers and our undivided adherence to our Orthodox Christian tradition and worship of the Triune and worshiped true God, our Faith gets enriched, is being reborn and blossoms like the phoenix for the glory of our Saviour Jesus Christ and the salvation of our souls and reigning of the Kingdom of God in the whole World.
With these sacred thoughts and expectations, we are entering the New Year of the Lord. Full of humility and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, whose Divine Birth in Bethlehem of Judea we celebrated this past December, we extend our greetings with our deep love and honour to all Orthodox Christians of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain and wish from the depths of our heart that peace and the infinite mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon us, and remain with warm wishes and blessings in the Lord and honour.’ (pp.8-11).

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Templo Mayor – Mexico City

In the historic centre of Mexico City, near the imposing Catedral Metropolitana, we find Templo Mayor. In Aztec times the Templo Mayor stood in a sacred walled compound in the centre of Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City) before Cortes destroyed it. However, in 1978 a massive round carved stone was uncovered accidentally near Zocalo that led to a major archeological project, uncovering the ruins of the magnificent double pyramid complex.

The Great Temple, just as many constructions in the Sacred Precinct of Tenochtitlan, was expanded on numerous occasions. According to historical sources, it was rebuilt on par with the expansion of the Mexica Empire. In addition, the city suffered ongoing floods and earthquakes, and the subsoil of the island-city was constantly settling. This forced the Mexicas to raise the level of their constructions to prevent their buildings from sinking.

Seven different times, the temple was completely covered with construction fill composed of mud and stone. Each time the former structure was covered by a new building of larger dimensions and of better quality. On five additional occasions, only the main façade was expanded. During the inauguration of each new building, war captives from kingdoms conquered expressly for the event were sacrificed. Due to this construction method, the earliest stages were never seen by the Spaniards, nor by the last generations of the Mexicas.

The Great Temple was the Mexica sacred space par excellence. The most important rituals were enacted here, including those dedicated to their gods, the naming of their leaders, and the funerals of the nobility. The Mexica architects designed the Great Temple as the centre of their model of the universe, where the horizontal plane converged with the vertical plane. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Animals in War – London

Every city honours its heroes or people who have excelled in their fields, affecting other people with their findings and achievements. In London, on the edge of Hyde Park, interestingly enough, a monument is dedicated to animals which took part in wars. 

Specifically, it is a tribute to the animals which served, suffered and died during conflicts of the 20th century, alongside the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces. It is an impressive monument which endeavours to show that everyone is affected by the decisions of a few, in order to go to war. It is not only mankind who suffers during war, but the whole environment, the whole world. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Service for Receiving the Holy and Miraculous Relics of St Patapios

Relics play an important part in our faith and practice, as Orthodox Christians. When Holy and Miraculous relics visit our city (in this case London), it is a great occasion to venerate them, pray with others and the Saint who is present, verifying the significance of Saints and Sainthood in the Church.
The Holy and Miraculous Relics of St Patapios are visiting the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St Michael, Golders Green. The Programme is as follows: