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Κυριακή, 31 Αυγούστου 2008

ΤΑ ΘΑΥΜΑΤΑ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑΣ ΤΗΣ ΤΡΟΟΔΙΤΙΣΣΑΣ - THE MIRACLES OF THE VIRGIN MARY OF TROODITISSA

Η Iερά Μονή της Παναγίας της Τροόδιτισσας είναι κτισμένη σε μια πευκόφυτη περιοχή του Τροόδους μεταξύ των χωριών Πλάτρες και Πρόδρομος. Η Μονή είναι υψηλότερη από κάθε άλλη Κυπριακή Μονή, αφού βρίσκεται 1.380 μέτρα πάνω από την επιφάνεια της θάλασσας. Η Παναγία του Τροόδος έχει ονομαστεί και Παναγία Ολυμπία, αφού γειτνιάζει με το Όρος Όλυμπος που είναι και το υψηλότερο βουνό της Κύπρου και θεωρείται η Βασίλισσα του Κυπριακού Ολύμπου. Όμως, η Μονή της Παναγίας της Τροόδιτισσας ονομάζεται και Μονή της Παναγίας της Αφροδίτισσας, αφού η Παναγία έχει διαδεχθεί την Ακραίαν Αφροδίτην, που ελατρεύετο στην κορυφή του Τροόδους, στο Όρος Όλυμπος, κατά την αρχαιότητα. Όπως και η Ακραία Αφροδίτη προγενέστερα, έτσι και η Παναγία η Τροόδιτισσα είναι σήμερα γνωστή ότι φέρνει τη γονιμότητα σε στείρες γυναίκες.
Η ιστορία της Μονής αρχίζει από τον 8 ον αιώνα μ.Χ. Κατά την περίοδο της εικονομαχίας, ένας εικονολάτρης μοναχός, μετέφερε στην Κύπρο από την Μικρά Ασία, μία από τις 70 εικόνες της Παναγίας που αποδίδονται στον Ευαγγελιστή Λουκά. Αφού ο εν λόγω μοναχός έζησε για 25 χρόνια στο Μοναστήρι του Αγίου Νικολάου των Γάτων, στην περιοχή της Λεμεσού, αναχώρησε για το εσωτερικό του νησιού και μετέφερε την ιστορική εικόνα στο "Σπήλαιο της Τροοδίτισσας", όπου εγκαταστάθηκε και ο ίδιος μαζί με έναν άλλο μοναχό. Εκεί έζησαν όλη τους τη ζωή, οι δύο ανώνυμοι ασκητές, εκεί και ετάφησαν.
Γύρω στα 200 χρόνια μετά, κατά το 990, το Ιερό Σπήλαιο αποκαλύφθηκε στους Χριστιανούς με την εκεί φυλαγμένη πανέμορφη ζωγραφιά της Παναγίας. Σύμφωνα με τη παράδοση, ένας βοσκός, έχασε τη κατσίκα του κατά τη διάρκεια της νύχτας, ξαφνιάστηκε όταν είδε ένα ελαφρύ φως να εμφανίζεται ανάμεσα στα βράχια ψηλά στο βουνό, και με δέος διηγήθηκε για αυτή την ανακάλυψη στους χωριανούς του. Για αρκετό καιρό το μυστηριώδες φως παρατηρήθηκε να λάμπει μέσα στη νύχτα, αλλά κανείς δεν τόλμησε να επιχειρήσει για την εξακρίβωση του. Με το καιρό,αποφάσισαν να ενημερώσουν τις Αρχές της Εκκλησίας, όπου απεφάνθη ότι ένας ιερέας θα έπρεπε να συνοδεύει την ομάδα που θα ερευνούσε αυτό το μυστήριο. Όταν έφθασαν κοντά στο φως, ανακάλυψαν το σπήλαιο μαζί με την εικόνα της Παναγίας αλλά κανένα ανθρώπινο ίχνος. Το ανεξιχνίαστο μυστήριο προκάλεσε μεγάλο ενθουσιασμό και ταραχή στη συνείδηση της Εκκλησιαστικής Αρχής, διαπιστώθηκε ότι, καθώς το φαινόμενο του φωτός ήταν θαυματουργό, αυτό βάρυνε τους ανθρώπους να κτίσουν ένα μοναστήρι πάνω από το τοπίο όπου έγινε η εμφάνιση του,και να τιμήσουν το πλέον ιερό σπήλαιο. Αόρατη όμως δύναμη εμπόδιζε τη μεταφορά του νερού που χρειαζόταν για τη κατασκευή της οικοδομής. Οι στάμνες γλιστρούσαν από τους ώμους των εργατών και έσπαζαν πάνω στους βράχους, ενώ ότι κτιζόταν τη μέρα, γκρεμιζόταν τη νύκτα. Κάποιο πρωί, μία στάμνα γεμάτη νερό ανακαλύφθηκε προς τα δυτικά του σπηλαίου, που ήταν πιο χαμηλά και σε ομαλό χώρο. Ήταν καταφανές ότι Άγγελος Κυρίου την είχε τοποθετήσει εκεί, για να φανερώσει το σημείο όπου ήταν κρυμμένη μια πηγή και υπήρχε θέση ευνοϊκή για το ιερό κτίσμα. Πράγματι, η πηγή ανακαλύφθηκε, και η Μονή κτίστηκε εκεί κοντά χωρίς κανένα εμπόδιο πλέον. Όταν τελείωσε το κτίσιμο της Μονής, η εικόνα της Παναγίας της Τροόδιτισσας που βρέθηκε στο σπήλαιο τοποθετήθηκε στο Ναό συνοδευόμενη από λαμπρή τελετή.
Τα χρόνια πέρασαν, και η φήμη της Μονής μεγάλωσε με την άφιξη ενός άτεκνου βουλευτή υψηλής θέσης με το όνομα Ιωάννη, που ήρθε από την Βηρυττό μαζί με τη σύζυγο του, για να προσκυνήσουν και να παρακαλέσουν τη Θεοτόκο να τους βοηθήσει να αποκτήσουν παιδί και σαν αντάλλαγμα υποσχέθηκαν να το αφιερώσουν στη Μονή. Μετά από τις θερμές τους ικεσίες η σύζυγος του συνέλαβε και γέννησε γιο, ο οποίος και βαπτίστηκε στο ναό της Τροοδίτισσας. Όταν το παιδί ενηλικιώθηκε, οι γονείς του το προσέφεραν στη Μονή κατά την υπόσχεση τους. Μετά από δέκα χρόνια επέστρεψαν στη Μονή για να το εξαγοράσουν. Οι πατέρες δεν επέτρεπαν την αναίρεση της υπόσχεσης που έδωσαν, όμως οι γονείς επέμεναν. Τότε συνέβηκε το εξής θαύμα: καθώς ευρίσκοντο στην εκκλησία, μία μεγάλη πέτρα έπεσε από τον τοίχο του ναού η οποία θα σκότωνε τον νεαρό που στεκόταν από κάτω εκείνη στη στιγμή. Αμέσως η θαυματουργή εικόνα της Παναγίας κινήθηκε από τη θέση της και σκέπασε το παιδί. Έτσι το έσωσε από βέβαιο θάνατο και δέχθηκε αυτή το κτύπημα της πέτρας η οποία μένει από τότε μέχρι σήμερα σφηνωμένη στη πίσω πλευρά της εικόνας. Το παιδί όταν είδε το θαύμα έμεινε στη Μονή, έγινε μοναχός, και έζησε εκεί μέχρι το τέλος της ζωής του. Από τότε η πέτρα αυτή θεραπεύει μικρά παιδιά τα οποία πάσχουν από τρίξιμο των δοντιών, αρκεί βεβαίως να τα πάρουν και να την ασπασθούν.
Ένα άλλο θαύμα της Παναγίας της Τροόδιτισσας που σχετίζεται με την γονιμότητα στις στείρες γυναίκες είναι το ακόλουθο: Μια μέρα κατά το 1864 κάποια κυρία που είχε μεγαλώσει πολύ και δεν μπορούσε πλέον να τεκνοποιήσει, επισκέφθηκε τη Μόνη και παρακάλεσε τη Παναγία της Τροόδιτισσας να της χαρίσει την ευτυχία να γίνει μητέρα. Η επιθυμία της γυναίκας εισακούστηκε από την Θεοτόκο που της εκπλήρωσε το επιθυμητό αποτέλεσμα. Σαν ευχαριστία η γυναίκα αυτή δώρισε στην Παναγία την όμορφη ασημένια ζώνη με τις μεγάλες πόρπες την οποία φορούσε κατά την εγκυμοσύνη της. Σήμερα περιζώνει την εικόνα της Παναγίας της Τροόδιτισσας και όποια γυναίκα δεν μπορεί να τεκνοποιήσει έρχεται στη Μονή και ο ιερoμόναχος την δένει γύρο από τη μέση της. Έτσι πιστεύεται ότι θα γίνει μητέρα.
Εκτός από το να δίνει γονιμότητα στις στείρες γυναίκες, η Παναγία της Τροόδιτισσας κάνει και άλλα πάμπολλα θαύματα. Αποτρέπει τη θεομηνία του χαλαζιού και καταπαύει την ανομβρία.

The Monastery of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) of Trooditissa is built at a pine covered area of Troodos between the villages of Platres and Prodromos. The Monastery is build higher than any other Monastery in Cyprus as it is situated 1,380 metres above sea level. The Virgin Mary of Troodos has also been named Virgin Mary the Olympian, a name given due to Mount Olympus, which is the highest mountain in Cyprus and for this reason she is considered to be the Queen of the Cypriot Olympus. However, the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Trooditissa is also called the Μonastery of the Virgin Mary of Aphroditissa since the Virgin Mary has succeeded Aphrodite Akraia (Aphrodite of the high mountain) who was worshiped on top of Troodos, on Mount Olympus, during antiquity. Like Aphrodite Akraia in earlier times, the Virgin Mary of Trooditissa is today known to bring fertility to sterile women.
The history of the Monastery goes back to the 8th century A.D. During the iconoclastic period an iconolatric monk, brought to Cyprus from Asia Minor, one of the 70 icons of the Virgin attributed to the Evangelist Luke. After living for 25 years at the Monastery of St. Nicholas of the Cats in the area of Lemasol, the monk left for the interior of the island and took the historic icon with him to the "Cave of Trooditissa" where he took refuge along with another monk. There, at this cave, the two anonymous hermits lived their lives, and there, they were also buried.
About 200 years later, in 990, the Holy Cave was revealed to the Christians along with the beautiful icon of the Virgin Mary. According to tradition, a shepherd lost his goat during the night, he was surprised when he saw a light appearing among the rocks high on the mountain, and with awe he told about his discovery to the other villagers. For some time the mysterious light was to be seen shining in the night, but nobody dared to attempt to find out what it was. One day, they decided to inform the authorities of the Cypriot Church, where it was decided that a priest should accompany the team that was to investigate this mystery. When they arrived near the light high on the mountain, they discovered the cave with the icon of the Virgin Mary, but there was no human presence there. The inexplicable mystery had caused great enthusiasm and excitement in the minds of the Ecclesiastical Authority, which came to the conclusion that as the phenomenon of light was a miracle, it was people's responsibility to build a Monastery on the spot where the light had appeared in order to honor the Holy Cave. However, an invisible power prevented the transfer of water needed for the construction of the monastery. The clay pots slid from the shoulders of workers and broke on the rocks, while what was build during the day, fell into ruins during the night. One morning, a pot full of water was discovered to the west of the cave which was at a lower and a leveled place. It was certain that an Angel of God had placed the pot there in order to reveal the place where a hidden spring was situated also indicate a much more suitable place for the Monastery to be build. And so it was, the spring was discovered and the Monastery was built near by without any more obstacles. When the building of the Monastery was finished, the icon of the Virgin Mary of Trooditissa which was found in the cave was enthroned in the church accompanied by a brilliant ceremony.
The years passed and the reputation of the Monastery grew with the arrival of a childless man of a high position, a Minister by the name of John, who came from Beirut along with his wife in order to kiss the icon and plea to the Virgin Mary to help them have a child and in exchange they promised to devote that child to the Monastery. After these heart braking pleas, his wife conceived a baby and gave birth to a son who was baptized at the church of Trooditissa. When the boy came of age his parents offered him to the Monastery as was their promise. However, after ten years had passed they returned to the Monastery to buy him back. The Fathers of the Monastery did not allow the negation of the given promise but the parents insisted. Then the following miracle happened: while they were in church, a huge rock fell from the wall of the building which was going to kill the young man who was standing beneath it during that time. The miraculous icon of the Virgin moved from its position and covered the boy right away. This way he was saved from sure death and the Virgin accepted to be hit by the stone instead. This stone remains from that time to the present day stuck at the back side of the icon. When the boy saw this miracle he stayed at the Monastery and he became a monk where he lived the rest of his life until his death. From then on, the stone which is stuck at the back side of the icon of the Virgin Mary of Trooditissa cures young children who suffer from teeth griding but they must be brought there and kiss it first.
Another miracle by the Virgin Mary of Trooditissa associated with fertility in sterile women is as follows: One day during the year of 1864, a lady who had grown too old and could no longer conceive children, visited the Monastery and asked the Virgin Mary of Trooditissa to give her the happiness of becoming a mother. The desire of the woman was heeded by the Virgin Mary who fulfilled the desired result. As a token of thanks, the woman gave to the Virgin Mary the beautiful silver belt with the large buckles which she was wearing during her pregnancy as a present. Today ,this belt is suspensed around the icon of the Virgin Mary of Trooditissa, and any woman who cannot conceive children comes to the Monastery and the Ieromomach (monk priest) fastens it round her waist. In doing so, it is believed that she will become a mother.
Apart from giving fertility to sterile women, the Virgin Mary the Trooditissa makes many other miracles. She prevents the disaster of hail and stops droughts.

8 σχόλια:

  1. Bravo NOCTOC for highlighting the rich monastic treasures of Cyprus. I loved these posts. Are you familiar with the works of Kyriacos Markides?

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  2. Thanks dear Stavros.
    Kyriakos Markidis,is a Greek Cypriot Sociologist,living in the U.K. and America I think.He wrote many books but I only read one of them called "Gifts of the Desert",which is basically an introduction of Orthodoxy to Westerners.As a native Orthodox,I found it somehow elementary,but for those who are not familiar with Orthodoxy,it is of great help,because Markidis is using Western mentality to put forth Orthodox tradition so it can be credible to their rational minds.At the same time,or because of that,he is killing Orthodoxy because there is an absence of a real Orthodox spirit in his writings, and for this reason I did not like his book.However for Western readers,I think it is a great book.I have no opinion for other books that he wrote, because I did not read them.I much rather read the Philokalia,and get the real thing.

    P.S.This Father Maximos that Markidis is refering to,is actually Elder Athanasios,the present Bishop of Lemassol,whom I know personaly.I used to visit him very often when he was Abbot at Machairas Monastery.

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  3. I agree he is only scratching the surface but he has done a great service by introducing Orthodoxy to the Western layman. I think there is a great thirst for what Orthodoxy offers in the West. I would say that about forty percent of the members of our parish, founded by Greek immigrants in 1909, are converts. BTW, monasticism in the US is growing by leaps and bounds thanks tp the efforts of Elder Ephraim, who has established over twenty monasteries here.

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  4. Yeah,you are right,but the problem is that many of these new converts,want to have an Orthodoxy which is within their own measures,and a great number of them end up becoming heretics and eventually leave the Orthodox Church altogether.I think that the Antiochian Patriarchate is largely to be blamed for this since it accepts anybody and his dog into the Orthodox Church without even giving them catechism first.What is amazing is that many of these new converts think that they know everything on the face of this earth and they have no respect for Orthodox tradition,they dislike Greeks and Greece,and they insult the Patriarch in Constantinople.All these problems derive because they still have a Protestant mentality,because people can change their religion,but they cannot change their way of thinking.As we say in Greek:Alaxe o Manolios kai evale ta rouxa tou allios.Which means that Manolios has changed his clothes by wearing them inside out.In others words,these people think like Protestants,and they will still think the same even if they have changed their religion to Orthodoxy.They are Protestant Orthodox:-)A new fruit in the block which smells of heresy.

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  5. I can only speak for those converts that I know personally. Your description does not match my personal reality. I find them to be on the whole, very dedicated to learning as much as they can about the Orthodox faith. They try very hard to live up to the tenets of our faith, sometimes too hard. I find that to be a rather endearing quality as long as they don't judge others. Most of them have come to Orthodoxy after a very long and arduous journey of discovery and in some cases have alienated those they love in order to become Orthodox Christians. I think that there are some who fit your description although I personally have not run into them. I agree wholeheartedly that Orthodox Christians need to be wary of those who seek to make the Church "modern" or get it in step with the world around us. That would be a huge mistake. We Orthodox don't need to prosleytize, we merely need to set a good example and sometimes we fall short.

    Converts aside. The future of the Church can be summed up in one word: PAIDEA. I see some bright prospects in this regard here in America as well as some big failures. It is an area however that needs much more emphasis. The Church in Greece seems to be losing the battle. What is your view from your vantage point?

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  6. agree with you Stavros,about those converts who actually had received catechism and that in many instances they are much more religious than we native Orthodox are.I was referring to the huge groups that were converted en mass by the Antiochian Patriarchate,after being refused by the Greek Orthodox Church.If you think that I am judging them,then I am sorry,but I don't like this "political correct" hypocrisy,and I always like to speak my mind even if I will be labeled as such and such.
    As for the Greek Orthodox Church,I feel that it has become very un-Orthodox and very secularized in many respects.Originally the Orthodox Church was non-dogmatic and had very open minded views in its Theology.They never had sermons in the Orthodox church and it was a faith of practice and not of words.Unfortunately,it became a victim in the Emperors hands during the Byzantine era and had fallen from its spiritual context and turned into a secular power.The biggest blow however,was when the Byzantine Empire itself was lost,and the great religious institutions which kept the Church hierarchy in check,were closed.Since then,the Orthodox Church turned to the West,(especially after the closure of the Theological School in Halki) in order to receive its Orthodox education.This is where most of the problems developed,because non Orthodox Theology and scopes of worship infiltrated into the Orthodox Church through all these people who went to study Orthodoxy in the West.We also know how Otho,the first German King of Greece,tried to have a Protestantized version of Orthodoxy,and how he set up the Theological Schools in Athens and Thessaloniki in order to fulfill this purpose.What we see today are theologians and priests who talk like Protestants,and have Protestant style sermon's which have dogmatized the Church and have alienated the faithful from it.What is amazing is that your average Orthodox person in Greece and Cyprus,who is not very religious per ce(like myself) actually knows what is Orthodox and what is non Orthodox because of the Orthodox tradition which is kept alive at home.I believe that if we have any kind of Orthodoxy today,it is thanks to this practice in our homes.Most people know that the Church no longer represents them,and most Greeks actually dislike priests who are in many cases very corrupted.At the same time,we must all remember that priests and other hierarchy are just people like us who come from the same society we come from,and their faults represent the faults of society itself.What is the problem here is our society,and the Church is just part of our Society.I personally respect priests because they are priests even if they are the most corrupted,and there are also some very good priests and Elders in the Church,and thanks to them,but also mostly thanks to the many people who care to lead a real Orthodox way of life,I keep my hopes up and I believe that things will get better.Looking at the past decade or so,things are actually getting better,so thats very positive.
    Ending,one thing which I don't understand about Father Ephreim in Saint Anthony's Monastery in Arizona,is why he is so zelious,and he doesn't allow women to inter his monasteries without head cover when in Greece and Cyprus,no monastery has this requirement and no monastery ever had in agree with you Stavros,about those converts who actually had received catechism and that in many instances they are much more religious than we native Orthodox are.I was referring to the huge groups that were converted en mass by the Antiochian Patriarchate,after being refused by the Greek Orthodox Church.If you think that I am judging them,then I am sorry,but I don't like this "political correct" hypocrisy,and I always like to speak my mind even if I will be labeled as such and such.
    As for the Greek Orthodox Church,I feel that it has become very un-Orthodox and very secularized in many respects.Originally the Orthodox Church was non-dogmatic and had very open minded views in its Theology.They never had sermons in the Orthodox church and it was a faith of practice and not of words.Unfortunately,it became a victim in the Emperors hands during the Byzantine era and had fallen from its spiritual context and turned into a secular power.The biggest blow however,was when the Byzantine Empire itself was lost,and the great religious institutions which kept the Church hierarchy in check,were closed.Since then,the Orthodox Church turned to the West,(especially after the closure of the Theological School in Halki) in order to receive its Orthodox education.This is where most of the problems developed,because non Orthodox Theology and scopes of worship infiltrated into the Orthodox Church through all these people who went to study Orthodoxy in the West.We also know how Otho,the first German King of Greece,tried to have a Protestantized version of Orthodoxy,and how he set up the Theological Schools in Athens and Thessaloniki in order to fulfill this purpose.What we see today are theologians and priests who talk like Protestants,and have Protestant style sermon's which have dogmatized the Church and have alienated the faithful from it.What is amazing is that your average Orthodox person in Greece and Cyprus,who is not very religious per ce(like myself) actually knows what is Orthodox and what is non Orthodox because of the Orthodox tradition which is kept alive at home.I believe that if we have any kind of Orthodoxy today,it is thanks to this practice in our homes.Most people know that the Church no longer represents them,and most Greeks actually dislike priests who are in many cases very corrupted.At the same time,we must all remember that priests and other hierarchy are just people like us who come from the same society we come from,and their faults represent the faults of society itself.What is the problem here is our society,and the Church is just part of our Society.I personally respect priests because they are priests even if they are the most corrupted,and there are also some very good priests and Elders in the Church,and thanks to them,but also mostly thanks to the many people who care to lead a real Orthodox way of life,I keep my hopes up and I believe that things will get better.Looking at the past decade or so,things are actually getting better,so thats very positive.
    Ending,one thing which I don't understand about Father Ephreim in Saint Anthony's Monastery in Arizona,is why he is so zelious,and he doesn't allow women to inter his monasteries without head cover when in Greece and Cyprus,no monastery has this requirement and no monastery ever had in agree with you Stavros,about those converts who actually had received catechism and that in many instances they are much more religious than we native Orthodox are.I was referring to the huge groups that were converted en mass by the Antiochian Patriarchate,after being refused by the Greek Orthodox Church.If you think that I am judging them,then I am sorry,but I don't like this "political correct" hypocrisy,and I always like to speak my mind even if I will be labeled as such and such.
    As for the Greek Orthodox Church,I feel that it has become very un-Orthodox and very secularized in many respects.Originally the Orthodox Church was non-dogmatic and had very open minded views in its Theology.They never had sermons in the Orthodox church and it was a faith of practice and not of words.Unfortunately,it became a victim in the Emperors hands during the Byzantine era and had fallen from its spiritual context and turned into a secular power.The biggest blow however,was when the Byzantine Empire itself was lost,and the great religious institutions which kept the Church hierarchy in check,were closed.Since then,the Orthodox Church turned to the West,(especially after the closure of the Theological School in Halki) in order to receive its Orthodox education.This is where most of the problems developed,because non Orthodox Theology and scopes of worship infiltrated into the Orthodox Church through all these people who went to study Orthodoxy in the West.We also know how Otho,the first German King of Greece,tried to have a Protestantized version of Orthodoxy,and how he set up the Theological Schools in Athens and Thessaloniki in order to fulfill this purpose.What we see today are theologians and priests who talk like Protestants,and have Protestant style sermon's which have dogmatized the Church and have alienated the faithful from it.What is amazing is that your average Orthodox person in Greece and Cyprus,who is not very religious per ce(like myself) actually knows what is Orthodox and what is non Orthodox because of the Orthodox tradition which is kept alive at home.I believe that if we have any kind of Orthodoxy today,it is thanks to this practice in our homes.Most people know that the Church no longer represents them,and most Greeks actually dislike priests who are in many cases very corrupted.At the same time,we must all remember that priests and other hierarchy are just people like us who come from the same society we come from,and their faults represent the faults of society itself.What is the problem here is our society,and the Church is just part of our Society.I personally respect priests because they are priests even if they are the most corrupted,and there are also some very good priests and Elders in the Church,and thanks to them,but also mostly thanks to the many people who care to lead a real Orthodox way of life,I keep my hopes up and I believe that things will get better.Looking at the past decade or so,things are actually getting better,so thats very positive.
    Ending,one thing which I don't understand about Father Ephreim in Saint Anthony's Monastery in Arizona,which belongs to the Greek Orthodox church,is why he is so zelious,and he doesn't allow women to inter his monasteries without head cover when in Greece and Cyprus,no monastery(unless they belong to the Old caladerist ex-communicated groups) has this requirement and no monastery ever had in the past.It is really strange to me.

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  7. Sorry for the delay in responding. I must confess that I am not familiar with the group you are referring to or what they may have done that is un-Orthodox. I do think some converts may have a holier than though attitude and look down on the rest of those of us that they may feel are wanting in some respect. I think they are in the minority. You are so very right however, to point out that within the body of the Church, many of us including clergy, fall victim to the world around us. I wonder if there is any better place for a sinner like me than within the Church which is a after all a hospital for sinners. Anyone who reads history will understand that the problems we face are no worse than those faced throughout the last two thousand years. Perhaps two things ensured the survival of the Church until now. People like St Gregory Palamas and monasticism itself.

    An Elder I met once counseled me not to worry so much on theology but rather to focus on prayer, fasting, love of others than myself. It sounds very much like what you are saying.

    BTW, I am enjoying your series on monasteries.

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  8. Our Orthodox faith is an instrument of praise and salvation,rather than a theater of human guilt and redemption.

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