Serbian Home Blessings

vodica (800x723)

Still blessing homes. Winding down now, actually. It’s a very nice time of year, despite the cold and all.  I think it’s all these home visits, coupled with the feast-filled month of January – from Christmas to New Year’s to Theophany, then it’s sv. Jovan my personal Slava, then St. Sava – that makes winter go by much quicker.  It’s interesting how on the year’s coldest days the church gives us feasts which bring us the most warmth.

One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people like to get their homes blessed. Not sure if this applies to Greek Orthodox parishes, or if Russians or Romanians can relate, but it seems to be the case for us Serbs. At least that’s been my experience. I visit the homes of people I see every Sunday in church as well as those I never see on Sundays.  Yet, they all seem to have this one thing in common – they all want the newly blessed Theophany waters sprinkled in the rooms of their homes.

Seems natural for us to want God’s blessings in our homes.  We’re proud of them. We put a lot of our time and money in fixing and decorating and adding on to them. A man’s home is his castle. It used to be that generations would live in the same house. Times have changed and so, in most cases, our children not only move out of the house but they tend to move to different cities. Families nowadays tend to stretch from Boston to LA. But your home is your home. That’s why it’s difficult to leave a house you’ve lived in for years and years. To come back home for the holidays and sleep in the same bedroom you slept in as a kid. There’s no need for walls to talk, we hear them just fine as it is. Our homes are where we live our lives and we want God to enter into our lives and bless them.

When Christ saw Zachaeus in last Sunday’s gospel He told him to get off that sycamore tree for He needed to go to his house, “I must stay at your house,” He said.  This was no casual invitation. Then again Zacchaeus wasn’t someone who just happened to meet Jesus on the streets of Jericho, “Oh, hey how’s it goin’?” Zacchaeus had a burning desire to see Christ. He overcame his obstacles, found a sycamore tree to climb and when Christ saw him up there He knew that that was the man He needed to visit. Let’s face it, chances are Zacchaeus had a nice house with more room than the next guy. A place where there was more room for Jesus to be able to speak to a larger group of people. And it’s no secret that Zacchaeus wasn’t all that honest in his business. After all, he confesses it before Jesus and everyone when he says, “and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount…” (Luke 19:8).

That’s what this whole season of fasting we are slowly approaching is about, not only the desire to seek out God in our lives but to make a promise to change. We’re all cheaters. If we sin, we have cheated God.  It’s during this time – and not only during Lent – that we are to not only desire God to come into our homes, but for us to go to His home.  The Hebrew word barak means “to bless” but it can also mean “to kneel”.  God blesses us and we, in turn, are to go and bless,  to kneel before Him.

“Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me…” Psalm 103.

“Next year in Kosovo”

H/T: MINA, Macedonian International News Agency (here)

Tom Hanks: Kosovo is Serbia, Serbs will go back one day

The famous Hollywood star, a double Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks unexpectedly sided with the Serbs and in the show cable station “E” he said that that Kosovo has always been Serbia and will be again one day!

Talking about the beginning of the recent shooting of a Hollywood spectacle about History of the State of Israel, produced by Steven Spielberg where he will play a major role. He compared golgotha and the Jews with suffering of Kosovo Serbs.

During the World War II and Holocaust, Jews suffered a lot, not to mention what had happened to them hundreds of years earlier. In spite of all, they never lost faith and returned back to their country. They have an entire millennium where they greeted each other saying (see you) “Next year in Jerusalem.” Similar case we have today in Kosovo. It was inhabited by Serbs, who built monasteries and had their own kings and then they were expelled by Albanians. At the end of the 20th century there were NATO bombs falling on Serbs, but they still do not want to admit that Kosovo is an independent state and proudly say that “Kosovo is Serbia”, like the Jews who once eventually returned to their country, so maybe that is the case with the Serbs, said Hanks.

Tom Hanks is known in Hollywood for his interest in historical themes, so he had worked together with Spielberg in the historical documentary film about World War II and is considered one of the best ever educated Hollywood actors.

Fun facts about Serbs

Did you know

(borrowed from an online forum) –
1. During the 3rd and 4th century 18 Roman emperors were born on the territory of modern day Serbia. That’s a fifth of all the rulers of the Roman empire.
2. The patriarch of Constantinople was once a Serb. He was appointed by Mehmed II upon the request of his mother Mara Brankovic.
3. Vampire is the only Serbian word which was accepted worldwide.
4. Serbs lived in the land of the pharaohs.
5. The Serbian clock making industry is older than the Swiss. Serbs had their own clock 600 years earlier.
6.  Sava Vladislavljevic, a Serb, was considered to be the most notable figure of the Russia of his time. He made the border between Russia and China.
7. The most famous female Saint in the Balkans was Serbian. St. Petka.
8. One of the four official languages in the Ottoman empire was Serbian.
9. Only Serbia and Belgium took part in forming the new Europe, apart from the great powers.
10.  In Serbia there is a religious building that was turned into a mosque 10 times. (The old cathedral church in downtown Cacak.)
11. The first satellite video transmission between Europe and North America in 1963 was a picture of the Serbian fresco of the White Angel from Monastery Milesevo.
12. Statistically, Serbs are the most hospitable people in the world.

Pope and End Times

marcha1

H/T: Catholic Answers (here)

Q: Someone in my parish told me about the prophesies of St. Malachy, which he claims, prove that we are nearing the end of times. What are these prophesies? St. Malachy was an Irish bishop who lived in the 12th century. By far the more famous of his prophecies concerns the sequence of popes.

A: The prophecy consist of 112 short Latin descriptions of future popes; the prophecies were discovered in 1590 and attributed to Malachy. Each description indicates one identifying trait for each future pope, beginning with Celestine II, who was elected in 1130. In some instances, the descriptions hit home in an uncanny way; they have led to centuries of speculation that the prophecy might be a real one.

For instance, the description of the future John XXII (1316-1334) is “de sutore osseo”–“from the bony shoemaker.” This pope was the son of a shoemaker, and his family name was “Ossa,” which means bone. In another example, “lilium et rosa” was the phrase used to describe the pope who would be Urban VIII (1623-1644), whose family coat-of-arms was covered with “lilies and roses.”

Malachy’s prophecy has been cast into doubt by the fact that the descriptions become vague from the 16th century on–about the time the prophecy was “discovered” in the Roman Archives. But there have been a few good matches in modern times. The phrase “pastor et nauta,” meaning “shepherd and sailor,” was attributed to John XXIII. This pope hailed from Venice, historically a city of sailors, and on the day he took office he indicated the goal of his pontificate was to be “a good shepherd.”

There have been many more misses, though. Describing the popes to follow John XXIII are the phrases “flower of flowers” (Paul VI), “from a half-moon” (John Paul I), and “from the toil of the sun” (John Paul II), none of which is an obvious connection. After our current pope there are only two left in Malachy’s prophecy, “the glory of the olive”* and “Peter the Roman.” The latter will supposedly lead the Church through many tribulations, concluding with the last judgment.

Is “Malachy’s” prophecy legitimate? Probably not. The consensus among modern scholars is that it is a 16th-century forgery created for partisan political reasons.

*Joseph Ratzinger chose the name Benedict after St Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order. The order’s crest contains an olive branch. (Ed note; courtesy Wikipedia)

Neo-Ottoman Aspirations

H/T: Washington Times (here)

Turkish Parliament considers converting Hagia Sophia to mosque

Luke Montgomery

DALLAS February 5, 2013 – In a surpise move, a commission of the Turkish Parliament last week accepted a petition from a Turkish citizen to reopen the Hagia Sophia as a place of worship for Muslims.

The center of Orthodox worship in the Eastern Roman Empire for over a thousand years (360 – 1453), the Church of the Holy Wisdom, more commonly known by its Greek name Hagia Sophia, has been a museum since 1935 and draws millions of visitors every year. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, it became the first imperial mosque of the Ottoman Empire, and the call to prayer sounded from its minarets for almost 500 years.

The decision by Atatürk’s government to designate the building as a museum was an obvious attempt at reconciliation between the Turks and Greeks, who had been feuding for centuries.

The fact that the Turkish Parliament would consider opening the building for use as a mosque may reopen old wounds. The former church still prominently features six gigantic green medallions with the names of Allah, the Prophet, and Islam’s first four caliphs.

Conservative groups in Turkey, such as the Anatolia Youth Association, have been conducting campaigns to have the structure rededicated to Islamic worship. It’s conversion to a museum has long been viewed as a betrayal of the Ottoman Empire by Muslim groups.

One such group conducted a survey in the Turkish city of Kocaeli, just east of Istanbul, and found that 97.8% of the respondents supported reopening the Hagia Sophia as a mosque. This survey was also submitted to Parliament. In the following days, the Parliamentary Petition Commission received 15 more petitions asking that the structure be redesignated as a mosque.

The decision by the parliamentary commission caused an explosion on social media like Twitter. A twitter account called Islamic Brotherhood tweeted, “We want to do our prayers in the Hagia Sophia!” The tweet had a link to a picture of the building and a caption that read, “We don’t need a ticket to enter; our ritual washing should be enough to get us in.”

Another person said, “Oh Hagia Sophia, how You must miss the call to prayer and we miss performing our prayers inside You.”

These calls for the former church to be reopened as a mosque echo statements made last year by Bulent Arinc, the 22nd House Speaker of the Turkish Parliament, about a church in Trabzon that, like the Hagia Sophia, had served as a mosque before being converted to a museum.

“The Hagia Sophia Mosque in Trabzon has, unfortunately and for no good reason, been used as a museum until now. This sort of thing won’t happen as long as we are in power. Mosques are for worshipping Allah. No law can ever change its original purpose. If Allah is willing, we will all together reopen the Trabzon Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. If Allah is willing, we will go to Trabzon. We will line up for prayer and say ‘Allahu Ekber’ in the mosque of our ancestors.”

The neo-Ottoman aspirations of Islamist politicans like Arınç are no secret. Statements like the preceeding are standard fare in Turkey’s cultural war.