Saturday, November 29, 2014

Spot-light on Organ Donation

                                            (From the weekly series "Dots on Letters")

   Believers have varied opinions with respect to organ donation. Perspectives differ and the subject is controversial. Every one tries to support his view through the Holy Scriptures. Some are enthusiastic about it, others are positive, others have reservations, whilst others totally reject the principle. Diversity of opinions, for the time being, may be enriching, though we cannot foresee an end to the debate in the near future as the issue is ambiguous.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

La Croix, notre vie.

En ce jour, advient le jugement de ce monde!!...
En ce jour, la main du Dieu le Père Créateur s’abaisse pour former une croix de la poussière de la terre et la présenter en cadeau pour Son Créateur le Dieu Fils consubstantiel au Père dès le début des temps!!.
En ce jour, Jésus le fils du Dieu Père crie son bien-aimé qui lui est égal dans l’assise: Tu es mon Père qui est plus grand que Moi, qui M’a oint pour que Je m’incarne crucifié du ventre de la femme, Marie la seule vierge, ainsi Il Me portera un amour sacrifié, sans l’aspect divin et rien pour plaire aux passants, crucifié après avoir été battu, et craché dessus, méprisé et percé d’une lance, blessé et saignant ses plaies, pour abreuver tout assoiffé qui Le trouvera hors de la cité de Jérusalem. Le Christ a visité cette cité, et l’a trouvée livrant tout son être pour les brigands, les riches, les chefs et les magistrats de ce monde, qui sont tous des menteurs qui ont livré à la mort, par envie, leur Seigneur et leur Dieu!!!...

The Holy Trinity Church Restoration

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life Eternal

                                            (From the weekly series "Dots on Letters")

     The subject of eternal life presupposes hard questions! What is the meaning of eternal life? What does it mean to have eternal life? Why is eternal life the greatest gift? Is it because death cuts off life on earth, that eternal life acquires meaning? Is eternity a matter of time? If death is life cut off, and death comes, often, after trials, so of what value is life extended, if, practically, it means trials continued?! For to him who suffers, physically or psychologically, death appears as mercy! In man’s experience, life is desirable if it is full of delights, but when it is soaked with bitterness, he would rather desire death. So if eternal life is a matter of time, it has, in itself, no value, whatsoever!

Question and Answer for Sunday 16 November 2014

   Dear Mother Mariam: Is it correct to say: “my Gosh” instead of “my God”. I thought this is what the atheist want us to do, which is not to mention the name of God. Yet I was told by the priest that we should say: “Gosh” instead. This point confuses me. Thank you... (Maria).

   Oh Lord God of all creation!!! How can we not cry out Your Name, when we are troubled in our souls, or have fallen down from our belief in error, if we are perplexed or tired?!.

   Oh God Lord… Oh Jesus Christ… Oh Heavenly King… Listen to my supplications!!... This is and was the cry of all prophets, saints and real believers!!.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Excerpts from the Books of Saint Silouan and Father Sophrony

Excerpts from the Book of Saint Silouan the Athonite: On Love.

   The Lord so loved His creature that He gave man the Holy Spirit and man knew his Creator and loves his Lord. The Holy Spirit is love and sweetness to the soul, the mind and the body. No Man of himself can know what God’s love is unless he be taught of the Holy Spirit; but God’s Love is known in our Church through the Holy Spirit, and so we speak of this love.
   The Lord’s love is such that He would have all men to be saved and abide eternally with Him in heaven and behold His glory.
   If you would know the Lord, humble yourself to the utmost, be obedient and sober in all things, love truth, and the Lord of a surety will give you to know Him through the Holy Spirit, and then you will know, by experience, just what love towards God is, and what is love towards man.
   Blessed is the soul that loves her brother, for our brother is our life. Blessed is the soul that loves her brother: the Spirit of the Lord lives manifest within her, affording peace and gladness, and she weeps for the whole world.

The story of Father Jacob Tsalikis and Saint Paraskevi

     This video is prepared by Saint John the Baptist Monastery for children to be acquainted with stories from the lives of Saints and Elders in the church of Christ. The stories are all in free translation form for educational purposes, with the preservation of the main message behind them. It is not to be used for commercial purposes in any form.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Holy Trinity Family


        The Holy Trinity Family in Douma, a village in the district of Batroun - Lebanon, is a monastic community founded with the blessing of Metropolitan Georges Khodr of the Antiochian Roum Orthodox Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon, and under the auspices of Father Sophrony Sakharov (+1993), of blessed memory, and the late Father Elias Morkos (Higoumene of St Georges Monastery Deir el Harf +2011).

The Community with His Eminence Metropolitan Georges Khodr.

The community follows the coenobitic rule of monastic life, and is formed of two monasteries: St. John the Baptist monastery for nuns and St. Silouan the Athonite monastery for monks. The family has one economos, Archimandrite Touma (Bitar), who is also the abbot of St. Silouan monastery. St. John the Baptist monastery is under the spiritual guidance of Higoumene (Abbess) Mother Mariam (Zakka). Both Father Touma and Mother Mariam were tonsured into the monastic order by Father Sophrony at the monastery he established in Essex, England.  While Mother Mariam knew Father Sophrony as of the year 1986, after visiting the monastery at Essex to take permission to translate his book "His Life is mine". She started translating all his books to Arabic and became his spiritual daughter.

Father Thomas and Mother Mariam with Father Sophrony in Essex
       It is on October 30th 1990 that the first members of this community set foot in the monastery. So it is in commemoration of this blessed day, that the Holy Trinity Family is launching this blog.

Father Thomas and Mother Mariam with Father Elias when the community was just starting

St John the Baptist Monastery
     St John the Baptist Monastery is an ancient monastery situated between Douma and Beit-Chlela villages in Lebanon.

Saint John the Baptist Monastery
     In the monasterys site, there was a pagan temple in the second century A.C., where a church or probably a monastery was built above its ruins in the 5th century. Remains were found in the area,  from the Byzantine and Crusaders Era. The oldest visible traces of history are the Byzantine crosses carved on the top and both sides of the northern entrance which is now closed, as well as a carved cross on the top of the western entrance. The same cross is found in the old churches and monasteries in the "Quannubin Valley" as well as on the buildings of the Martyrs in Northern Syria, or the cross of Saint Symeon the Stylite.

Saint John the Baptist Monastery

     The Oldest written reference about the monastery is found in a manuscript from the 16th century. In those former days, the monasterys abbot was named Isaiah. Most of the information collected about the monastery and its abbots goes back to the 18th century onwards. Following some changes both politically and militarily the monastery was reopened in 1760. A group of monks headed by father Aftimios Faysal came from the monastery of St Elias Shouwaya to revive the monastic life therein. The monastery remained open, with monks until the year 1942, when the last abbot died. His name was Archimandrite Bassilios El Aam. From then on the monastery was neglected until 1990, when the current monastic community of nuns came and settled in.

Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God

     In terms of Architecture, each wing of the monastery is built in a different period in time ranging from the second century until the twentieth century.

Church of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

   The monastery owns vast territory of land, some are cultivated and others are still forested. Main crops include: Olives and grapes, in addition to some fruits and few vegetables. Some new lands have been recently cultivated where more vineyard and olive trees are grown.

Church of the Holy Trinity

     The monastery relies financially on its agricultural production, hand crafts,  food products, publications, and the support of the monasterys friends.

Inside View of the Monastery

    The prayer rule set in the monastery consists of the personal prayers of its members in their respective cells and during their tasks, in addition to the communal prayers in church which are the midnight, matins, first, third, sixth and ninth hour services followed by vespers and small compline. At noon time, on Wednesdays the service of the Paraklisis to the Mother of God is chanted and on Friday the community members gather for a one hour Jesus Prayer. Commonly, Divine Liturgy is celebrated four times a week on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This prayer rule is amended depending on feast days and special occasions. Furthermore, the monastery holds night vigils around once per month depending on churchs feasts.

Who is Saint John the Baptist?!...

St John the Baptist is the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth who are mentioned in St Lukes Gospel (1:5). He is known as the Baptist because he baptized the Lord Jesus in the River Jordan. He is also known as the Forerunner because he preceded Him to prepare His people for His coming. And he did this by preaching to people that they turn away from their sins because the Kingdom of Heaven is near!.

St Silouan Monastery

Saint Silouan Monastery

     Saint Silouan Monastery was established with the coming of the current Family. It is a monastery for monks. The original building was small and the community enlarged it. It is now composed of two wings, one for monks and the other for guests.

Who is St Silouan the Athonite?.

    He is Russian by birth. He was born in 1866 as Simeon Ivanovich Antonov, to a peasant family. A simple person with a strong constitution. He indulged for some time in earthly pleasures, but once, Simeon saw in a dream that a snake had slid through his mouth inside him. He felt disgusted and awoke. At the same time he heard these words, "You swallowed a snake in your sleep and you are disgusted. That is how unpleasant it is for me to see your actions." There was no one in the room. He heard only a voice that spoke those words, a voice that was extraordinary in its kindness and beauty. In his life, Saint Silouan was deeply and undoubtedly convinced that this was the voice of the Mother of God. This call came not long before he joined the army, and had a decisive influence on his choice of life. So when he was released from military service, he joined St Panteleimon’s monastery in Mount Athos in the fall of 1892. Brother Simeon was patient, mild, and obedient; in the monastery he was held in high regard as a good worker of fine temperament. At night he prayed for long hours reciting the Jesus Prayer, and he fought demons which tried restlessly to hinder his ascent to God, and the Lord appeared to him in the Uncreated Light. Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, his spiritual son, has written his biography and gathered his sayings, and took care of revealing his sainthood. St Silouan’s life was unknown to many. In his sainthood protocol (in 1987) it is said that he excelled in virtue and reached a high level of spiritual maturity thus becoming a vessel of the Holy Spirit. Therefore God has endowed him with the gift of curing people illnesses and pains in addition to an extraordinary intuition. From his sayings: “to pray for all people is to shed blood for them” and “keep your mind in hell and despair not”, and “love of enemies is the greatest gift”. He fell asleep in the Lord peacefully on September 24, 1938 (His official feast day). He was glorified as a Saint in November 1987.

Saint Nicholas Church

The Overflow of Love