Pope and End Times


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.

The People that Time Forgot

H/T: Daily Mail (here)

The people that time forgot: Incredible story of Russian family cut off from all human contact for 40 years who didn’t know about WWII and had to eat leather shoes to survive

At first the helicopter pilot couldn’t believe his eyes and had to fly over the spot several times just to be sure.

But there was no doubt, the small clearing in the forest, the long dark furrows in the ground, they could only have been made by human hands.

But who could be living some 150 miles from the nearest settlement?

The Siberian taiga is one of the last remaining wildernesses on earth – thousands of square miles of dense pine forest, rugged mountain valleys, white water rivers and impenetrable bogs.

For years, scientists believed that this vast region was home to only the wolves, the odd wandering bear and whatever other animals capable of surviving the harsh climate.

No human beings could, or for that mater would want to, live in such a place. Or so they thought.

It was 1979 and the Russian helicopter pilot had been searching for a spot to land a team of geologists when he spotted the little clearing high up on a mountainside some 150 miles from the nearest human settlement.

Little did he know at the time but he had just discovered the home of the Lykovs – a family lost in time – somehow surviving in this brutal country without seeing another human being in over 40 years.

The Lykovs were Old Believers – members of a fundamentalist Russian orthodox sect which had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great in the early 18th century.

When the Bolsheviks swept into power following the Russian revolution of 1917, many Old Believer communities fled to Siberia to escape religious persecution.

Things were to get even worse during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s when Christianity and other religions were outlawed.

One day a young Karp Lykov was working in the fields when a communist patrol arrived and shot his brother dead.

It was then he made the decision to flee into the forest with his family.

So on a day in 1936, Karp, his wife Akulina, their nine-year-old son Savin and two-year-old daughter Natalia gathered their meagre possessions and a few seeds and headed off into the wilderness.

Over the years they retreated deeper into the forest, building themselves a series of wooden cabins until they found a secluded spot 6000ft up on a mountain side. It was there they made their home.

In 1940 son Dmitry was born, followed two years later by daughter Agafia. They would not see another human being for  40 years.

One can only imagine the shock they must have felt as the helicopter buzzed over their wooden shack.

And a few months later they would get an evening bigger surprise.

The geology team were being sent into the taiga to search for deposits of iron ore. They had been told about the helicopter pilot’s discovery and had decided to investigate.

Lead geolgist Galina Pismenskaya recalls the group ‘chose a fine day and put gifts in our packs for our prospective friends ‘.

As they climbed up the side of the mountain they began to notice signs of human activity.

Small paths beaten into the forest floor, a staff, a log laid across a stream and then a small wooden shed containing a few potatoes and containers fashioned from birch bark.

Pisemnskaya recalls the moment they came upon the Lykovs’ home.

She told The Smithsonian: ‘Beside a stream there was a dwelling. Blackened by time and rain, the hut was piled up on all sides with taiga rubbish—bark, poles, planks.

If it hadn’t been for a window the size of my backpack pocket, it would have been hard to believe that people lived there. But they did, no doubt about it…. Our arrival had been noticed, as we could see.

‘The low door creaked, and the figure of a very old man emerged into the light of day, straight out of a fairy tale. Barefoot.

‘Wearing a patched and repatched shirt made of sacking.

‘He wore trousers of the same material, also in patches, and had an uncombed beard. His hair was disheveled. He looked frightened and was very attentive…. We had to say something, so I began: ‘Greetings, grandfather! We’ve come to visit!’

‘The old man did not reply immediately…. Finally, we heard a soft, uncertain voice: ‘Well, since you have traveled this far, you might as well come in.’

As the geologists set foot inside the cabin it was if they had steeped back in time by 500 years.

It consisted of a single room lit by a tiny window, lumps of burnt wood scattered the filthy squalor of the floor.

Then out of the darkness and gloom they heard the sobs of two terrified women – Agafia Lukova and her older sister Natalia.

‘This is for our sins, our sins,’ they cried at which point the geologists realised they had to leave as quickly as possible.

The team waited outside the hut and after about half an hour Karp Lykov and his two daughters finally emerged, curiosity having overcome their fear.

The geologists offered them food – jam, tea and bread but the gift was firmly rejected.

When Pisemnskaya asked if they had evener eaten bread old Karp replied: ‘I have, but they have not. They had never seen it.’

The daughters themselves could not be understood, having never had conversations with anyone except members of their family before their language was distorted and blurred.

‘When the sisters talked to each other it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing,’ Pisemnskaya recalled.

Gradually the incredible story of the Lykovs’ survival began to emerge.

They had brought with them into the forest a small selection of possessions – a few pots and pans, a rudimentary spinning wheel and loom and their clothes and shoes.

But when after a few years these wore out. Their clothes were repaired using coarse cloth spun from hemp.

When their metal pots rusted into disrepair they were forced to live on a staple diet of potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds.

They were permanently hungry, foraging for whatever they could eat – roots, grasses and bark.

A particularly hard frost in 1961 killed everything in their garden and they were reduced to eating their leather shoes.

Tragically that year Akulina died. She had chosen to give food to her family and let herself starve.

Miraculously when the frost thawed, a single grain of rye sprouted on their pear patch – they guarded it day and night to keep mice and squirrels away. They managed to harvest a further 18 grains from which painstakingly they built up a rye crop.

Dmitry became an outdoorsman with skills beyond compare. As he reached manhood he became an expert at hunting and trapping animals.

He would spend days away from the hut trekking through the forest barefoot until he collapsed of exhaustion.

Then he would return home, with an animals slung across his shoulders, providing precious meat for his family.

Gradually the geologists began to forge the trust and friendship of the Lykovs.

They would be dazzled by the simplest of modern innovations. Karp, who was well into his 80s was fascinated by a pice of cellophane, declaring: ‘Lord, what have they thought up? It is glass but it crumples.’

At first the Lykovs did not want any thing to do with the modern world and would only accept a single gift – salt – something they admitted it had been a nightmare living without.

But they eventually began to accept a few items knives, forks and handles to help with their farming, some grain.

Television however proved irresistible and on their rare visits to the soviets’ camp Karl would watch it, transfixed, sitting directly in front of the screen. Afterwards he would offer a prayer for forgiveness for his sins.

Tragically in 1981, not long after they had been discovered three of the four Lykov children died.

Savin and Natalia suffered from kidney failure and then Dmitry died of pneumonia.

When Dmitry’s health began to fail the geologist offered to call in a helicopter but he refused to abandon his family saying: ‘We are not allowed that. A man lives for howsoever long God grants.’

It is quite likely that the deaths were a result of the family coming into contact with modern diseases for which they had no immunity.

The geologists attempted to convince the remaining Lykovs – Karp and Agafia – into leaving the forest and rejoining their relatives who had survived the persecutions of the purges all those years ago.

But there was never any question of them agreeing to leave their little homestead.

Old Karp Lykov finally died in his sleep on February 16, 1988, 27 years to the day after the death of his wife Akulina.

Incredibly Agafia, now well into her 70s, lives on her little family plot to this day.

On the Church Council

H/T: Russian Church Abroad (here)

On February 2, 2013, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church will convene in Moscow. His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe shares his thoughts on the event:

archbpmichaelI won’t discuss specific problems and topics which will be discussed at this Council. A Council is the moment when the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. The Council and its decisions are, for the Church, the very foundation of her life. Every member of the Council comes with his own troubles and concerns. But this fact does not play a role in its work.

Remember the reason for the convening of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea: Emperor Constantine requested that the bishops formulate the Church’s teaching of Christ. At this historic moment, Arius had been causing turmoil in Alexandria with his heresy. He declared that one cannot accept what the Church cannot say. For defining the nature of Christ, there was no corresponding word in the Greek language.

In Hellenic culture it was understood that what you cannot describe in words you cannot properly understand, or simply does not exist. If you have an object before you but you cannot name it, then it does not exist. Only that which can be described by words exists. In some ancient icons, one sometimes sees the depiction of a small person: the “hypostasis.” If he is not there, then nature has no meaning. If he is there, that means that this is some important element of the image.

And so they could not find a word to determine the nature of Christ, as Arius insisted. Arius was eloquent, handsome, cultured. He was supported by ninety percent of the bishops at the Council. St Nicholas, St Spyridon of Trymithous and St Alexander of Alexandria, however, affirmed that the Gospel states that Christ is the Son of God, which describes His nature as being Divine and human…

Deacon Athanasius was present at the Council, the future Patriarch of Alexandria. Observing these heated arguments, he suffered profoundly. Suddenly he asked for a word and said “There is such a word! Homousisos, ‘of one Essence!’” And the entire episcopate arose in joy that the needed word was found. This was a triumphant moment for the Church !

Arius rejected this decision. All the bishops had arrived sharing his point of view, but the Council concluded with a condemnation of him.

The very nature of a Church Council is the preservation of this power. When everyone arrived for the Pomestny [National] Council when Metropolitan Kirill was elected the new Patriarch, there were a great many opinions and preliminary statements made. But Metropolitan Kirill was elected almost unanimously. This is the nature of a Council’s decision.

I repeat clearly: the Church is not an organization, it is not an association or a conference. The Church is a living organism and behaves like an organism. Each part of it comprises the whole. Every part exists in its fullness and is indispensable to the Church. Not because as someone wrote, he is a member of the Church organism, for there is much in the life of the Church which we do not see.

Interviewed by Maria Senchukova