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01 April 2007

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Ted Laskaris

Stavros,
Although I cannot claim your level of involvement with our Greek Orthodox faith -- I am, in many ways, a non-practicing Christian -- I cannot but put the emphasis on "hesychia," this inner quiet that rests at the core of our faith. I have known only one person in my life who had achieved that: my maternal grandfather, who could easily qualify for something close to sainthood. He was not only a deeply pious person, he would also spend much time reading the texts and perfecting his knowledge of Byzantine music. He was, like you, a Constantinopolitan. He often despaired at my rather heathen ways, but I have to admit my time with him in church still qualifies as the most peaceful time I ever clocked in my life. I wish he were around. His example and his practice of "hesychia" would have been of critical help in these trying, dark times.

Ted Laskaris

... and, yes, let me take this opportunity to wish you, too, a Holy Week filled with good thoughts and the conscious effort to cleanse our minds and souls in anticipation of Anastasis.

Stavros

Ted,

There are many Orthodox Christians out there who were baptized but have, for one reason or another, lost touch with the faith of our fathers and grandfathers. There was a time in my own life when I had done the same. It's been a hard and bumpy road back and I have a long ways to go. Orthodoxy is like a treasure chest full of beautiful things, one more dazzling than the other. The hard part is taking those first tenuous steps, whether we happen to be new to the Orthodox faith or just rediscovering what was handed to us by an accident of birth. My advice to you is to travel to Mt. Athos and spend so time at the monasteries there. You have some amazing gifts and one of them is an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Perhaps like the rest of us, you have been seeking for the answers in the wrong places.

May those before us light the way. Kali Anastasi, my friend.

Born-again Greek

Jesus said, "I am the truth, the way and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but my me."
John 14:6
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John3:3
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hat raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Go towww.greeksforchrist.org

It will be a blessing a guide for you.

Stavros

Born Again Greek,

Thanks for the link. Only God can be the final judge of whether we are "saved" or not. Running around professing we are saved doesn't make it so. We Orthodox Christians do not proselytize our fellow Christians, no matter how misguided. You have obviously lost touch with your religious roots. I would recommend that you read the following to understand the difference between Orthodoxy and the "Western" confessions.

http://www.stxenia.org/wayapart/index.html

Kali Anastasi

AntigoneSis

Ted-
It's interesting your comment about emphasis on hesychia in the Orthodox Faith. I've been a student of yoga (although not really any in-depth study) for a few years now. I was surprised to learn in an Orthodox study class about the hesychists and the continual reciting of the Jesus Prayer, fasting, etc and the similarities to the Buddhist tenants. My detour from Orthodoxy took me further East, but in the end enriched my knowledge and appreciation for the faith immensely.
Stavros -
I'm glad to read about your experiences with monastics. I've always been hesitant about them--I can understand the purpose as you have explained it, but it seems like it's also a position within the church that's a great target for abuse and excess. It's fascinating, but frankly a little scary because of that...

Stavros

AntingoneSis,

Monastics are struggling just like the rest of us. About twenty monastic communities in the US were established through the efforts of Elder Ephraim of Mt Athos.
http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/Map.htm

Like Church communities some monastery's are more successful than others. Don't confuse monasticism with Eldership. I have written about this subject in Orthodox previoulsy.
http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/Map.htm

Very few monastics are Elders. Believe me when I say you will know the real thing when you meet them and hear what they have to say.
Monastery's don't have locked gates or barbed wire around them. They are wide open and hospitality is an integral part of monastic life. I would recommend visiting one with a group or family that has been there before or possibly with your parish priest. You will find a joyful family atmosphere. My wife, mother and the kids visited the Panagia Paragoritissa Woman's Monastery in Quebec with a group from our community. It was an uplifting experience and even the kids loved it. My own experiences has been similar and I am planning a trip to the St Anthony's Monastery in Arizona (see link) soon.

I would recommend reading "Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives and Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece."

Another good starting place to learn more about the subject is Kyriacos Markides book Mountain of Silence and the sequel, Gifts of the Desert.

Take care and may you and your family have a blessed Holy Week. Kali Anastasi

demonax

Antigone
That’s a great ikon of St Mary of Egypt you’ve put up on your blog – wild mauve hair and half-naked! I prefer the saints – mostly female, it has to be said – who, in the first part of their lives, gave themselves up to ‘every kind of licentiousness’ and existed in ‘the depths of perdition’, rather than the ‘virgin martyr’ types – such as St Barbara and St Eudokia – who are a little pompous and irritating for my liking.
http://www.greekorthodox.net.au/pages/main.htm

Stavros
I notice in your ‘Newspapers I Read’ section, you mention the Cyprus Mail.
I too read the Cyprus Mail, even though it makes me sick. Just to be clear: the Cyprus Mail is a virulently anti-Hellenic and anti-Papadopoulos rag that is put together by Anglicised Cypriots, half-Cypriots, Turks, English expats and other assorted foreigners, and reflects the views of British Foreign Office, which probably funds it.
In no way should the Cyprus Mail be read as reflecting the views of the overwhelming majority of Cypriots, at whom the Anglophone paper is clearly not aimed in any case.

You also have on your list Ελληνικές Γραμμές, which is the complete antithesis of the Cyprus Mail. I read some of the Ελληνικές Γραμμές site, which is in Greek and (good) English.
The newspaper seems to be the mouthpiece for the Hellenic Front, which is linked to LA.OS. Even though I think the leader of LA.OS, Giorgios Karatzaferis, is a clown, I found myself agreeing with a considerable amount of what I read, and particularly liked the piece on ‘300’ by Christos Charitos, which begins:
‘When I read the review of “300” in [the leftist newspaper] Vima, which characterised the film as “militaristic” and “crypto-fascist”, I was sure the film was moving in the right direction.’
http://www.e-grammes.gr/article.php?id=2522

Unfortunately, I noticed that the Hellenic Front claims some sort of affinity with the British National Party, which is a party of low-life, sociopathic thugs, and even with the One Nation party in Australia, my impression of which is that it too appeals to the most moronic and abject elements in Australian society. Patriotic – and nationalist – Greeks shouldn’t have to align themselves with such contemptible elements.

Stavros

Demo,

Thanks for the heads up on the Cyprus Mail. Can you suggest any other Cypriot periodicals that can give us a clearer understanding of what is happening in Cyprus?

As for Ελληνικές Γραμμές, like you I find some of their articles agreeable and frankly refreshing, although I do not identify with their entire ideology anymore than I agree with everything I read in the New York Times. If Greek history teaches us anything it is that we need to avoid extremes of the Left and Right.

I haven't seen "300" yet, although I plan to watch it eventually. I will reserve judgment until then, nevertheless it seems to have struck a chord with many.

demonax

It’s a shame that Greeks in Greece and Cyprus have not yet understood the opportunities presented to them by the internet to make propaganda and influence international public opinion, as well as informing Greeks in the diaspora whose first language is English, and made the effort to establish a plethora of English-language publications.

The Turks, by contrast, are trying hard to get their message across in English, with the Turkish Daily News, Zaman, New Anatolian, the Cyprus Observer and so on. All we have is eKathimerini – which is limp – and the Cyprus Mail – which is a British propaganda sheet.

As for Cyprus publications, I suppose the Cyprus Weekly, owned by Armenians I think, is quite robust, but it is still a paper with British expats in mind.
http://www.cyprusweekly.com.cy/default.aspx

In Greek, there is the government-supporting Phileleftheros –
http://www.phileleftheros.com/main/main.asp?gid=0&tp=69

and then there’s Politis
http://www.politis-news.com/index.shtml

which is anti-Papadopoulos and pro-Annan, but is good on the missing persons issue and has good contacts in the occupied areas.

That’s about it really.

Stavros

Thanks for the links, I will check them out for awhile and see if I can detect any trends. I have to agree about this inability to communicate about the issues with the diaspora and the rest of the world. The internet has tremendous possibilities. I read The National Herald, a very old Greek-American newspaper printed in New York. Its coverage and analysis of what is happening in Greece is not as thorough as I would like. The English editions of Kathimerini and Athens News are both sketchy. Although I can read Greek fairly well, I find sometimes I will miss a key idea because my vocabulary is not as extensive as I would like. Unfortunately, I can't express myself in Greek as well as I can in English. I'm working on all of this but the point I'm trying to make is that there are many diasporan Greeks who want to know more but lack the language skills and the sources. Maybe things will change as more and more Greeks, in and outside of Greece, access the net.

Hermes

Who is this St Paul mentioned above? His name was Saul and he was a Jewish fanatic and then all of a sudden he was suffering fro dehydration on the way to Damascus and he became Paul and a follower of Christ. Then all of a sudden the Greeks, who have an enormous literature from which to draw inspiration from start using this man as guidance.

"St. John the Theologian, could write, "... the whole world lieth in wickedness" (I John 5:19), then how much more justified we are in speaking thus of our times."

Really? Despite some wickedness I also see extraordinary beauty in Nature and its greatest manifestation Man. Where did this fanaticism come from because no Greek ever spoke like this before Christianity. Not even the Orphics or Pythadoreans were so extreme in their denial of life.

"In life around us, in our environment, in our heterodox surroundings, everything is essentially a total denial of Christianity."

Laughable. Christianity is a denial of life in favour of a place that no one is sure is really there. Essentially, it is a nihilistic faith slightly worse than Buddhism in its denial of the past (the Hellenic past) and present.

"Living in such an inhospitable, not to mention fallen, world, how are we to find our way?"

Inhospitable? Fallen world? Where did all this guilt come from? This world is imperfect but it is definitely not that bad.

"Concentrate on the most important things for us as Orthodox Christians: cultivating an inner quiet (hesychia), prayer, especially repeating the Jesus Prayer, Fasting, Confession, recognizing, admitting and asking God's forgiveness for our sins"

Yes, that's right. Concentrate on being a drone. Inactive biological organ. Yes, this is exactly the sort of attitude the 100,000 monks practised as the Turks encroached on the City without offering to help the Greeks who were prepared to fight.

Let's think about what sort of man all this ascetism, guilt, sin-ridden creates? It creates the type of man most bloggers hate. Lazy, corrupt, inactive, docile and stupid.

Haire Haire Eleftheria!

AntigoneSis

Demonax,
Re St. Mary of Egypt - I like the part of the story where she kept getting physically pushed out of church when, as a prostitute, she chose to go one day. See the detail of the story on the comments of my blog.
Stavros,
Thanks for the explanation of the distinction between eldership and monasticism. The Markides book has been on my 'wish list' for several years, but I have not yet read it.
To you, your family and all your readers, Kali Anastasi!

Stavros

AntigoneSis,

I think you may enjoy reading this:

http://www.monachos.net/library/Mary_of_Egypt,_Complete_Life_by_Patriarch_Sophronius_of_Jerusalem

When you read Markides, Read "Mountain of Silence," first. If you like it, then read "Gifts of the Desert."

Kali Anastasi to you and yours also.

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