Sts. Peter and Paul in December or June?

IMG_1923H/T: Here

The Feast day of Saints Peter and Paul

On the 29th June (according to the New Style) of every year our Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul. So important is this celebration in the Orthodox Church that it is marked by a preparatory fasting period – called the fast of the apostles – beginning from the Monday after Pentecost and lasting until the eve of the feast day of Sts Peter and Paul. Following the practise of the early Church, where the first Christians would commemorate departed saints by celebrating the Divine Eucharist on top of their tombs, we too, nearly two thousand years later follow that same tradition. We too continue to this day to celebrate the feast days of saints by celebrating the Divine Liturgy over the altar of the Church of the particular saint to which the Church is dedicated. The reason for this is that the altar of every Church is said to be symbolic of saints’ tombs in that every consecrated Church has relics of saints within the altar.

One may quite justifiably ask why these two apostles in particular are celebrated on the same day. Peter was one of the twelve whereas Paul was not. From the Biblical evidence that we have we know that Peter’s ministerial outlook was very different from Paul’s. At the council of Jerusalem (48AD), great problems had arisen in the Church from a large influx of Gentile converts and these saints had different opinions as to how they should be received. Yet we find that not only are they celebrated on the same day, but even icons of Sts Peter and Paul portray these two major apostles embracing each other.

Historically the reason why the Church combined the feast day of the two apostles into one was that they were both martyred in Rome and on the same day. There is a very ancient tradition which claims that they were both executed during Nero’s persecution approximately in the year 68AD. For this reason, probably from the fourth century onwards the Church in Rome came to celebrate the feast day of these two apostles on the 29th June where they were martyred. By contrast, Constantinople celebrated this feast day several days after Christmas on the 28th December. However we see that it was the Roman custom that has prevailed in the Church today, but the evidence does not reveal to us precisely when this came to be.

Theologically speaking, the reason why the feast day of these two apostles was combined into one was to show that even though their ministerial vision was not the same yet both were necessary and even complemented each other. Even though the apostle Paul was not one of the twelve, he would claim, nevertheless that his ministry was considered equal if not superior to those ministers who had been appointed by Christ during His earthly ministry since he had suffered so much for Christ. During their lifetime, these two great apostles of our Church disagreed greatly as to how to receive new members into the newly established Christian faith. St Paul is said to have rebuked St Peter for duplicity in this matter. In Galatians 2.11, St Paul tells us of a disagreement he had with St Peter: “when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him in the face because he was to be blamed.”

Peter believed that new members firstly had to fulfil the requirements of the Jewish law by being circumcised before they could become Christians whereas Paul was totally opposed to this. What we can learn from this is that when the Church is ruled by the Holy Spirit tensions of this kind can be overcome.

In celebrating their feast day, let us glorify Him who glorified them and rejoice together with Sts Peter and Paul and sing:

“Rejoice o Peter the apostle, for you are the great friend of the Master, Christ our God. Rejoice well beloved Paul, preacher of the faith and doctor of the universe. Because of this, may you both intercede with Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.”

~Taken from Philip Kariatlis, Academic Secretary and Associate Lecturer, St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College, (Website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia: http://www.greekorthodox.org.au/general/resources/publications/articledetails.php?page=186&article_id=7).

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A prophecy?

IMG_1912I heard Mihailo walk in the church this morning. It was Monday morning and I was in the altar putting things in order after Sunday’s service. I heard his soft, slow footsteps. Feet lazily dragging.  “I want to show you something,” he said in a slow mumble in the altar.

I stopped what I’m doing and looked at him. “What is it?”

“The Serbian people had prophets.”

A pause. I don’t know if it’s a question or statement. “Tarabic?” I asked.

He nodded.  The so-called  Kremna Prophecies from the village of Kremna, in Serbia have been ascribed to illiterate peasants Miloš Tarabić  and his nephew Mitar Tarabić. Their village Serbian Orthodox priest, Zaharije Zaharić (1836-1918) is said to have recorded their predictions.

“They prophesied of the great war that befall the Serbian people. And then when they were asked if  there is any hope, they replied: If you take an apple and cut it across, you will find the answer. And every time I cut into an apple I cut it this way and every time I see the same thing – a five pointed star, the petokraka.”

“But this morning,” he continued, reaching into his pocket and pulling out an apple, “I found this.” He opened the already slit apple and showed the image of a cross inside.

Then he walked away.

The Light of God

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Just as the Lord suffered on the cross and was crucified, before Him, His Forerunner was beheaed through human injustices. The acts of darkness are those that want to kill the prophet of God and the Lord Himself. But the light that filled him and shown through him – is the eternal light in which he clothed himself from the mother’s womb.  She was victorious in the death of St. John the Forerunner and in the crucifixion of the Lord.

The light of God shines and continuously radiates this world and calls every being to be a carrier of the works of light, to be a receiver of that divine light through baptism. Our people have been baptized for centuries. But today there are more and more who rely on the works of darkness, human knowledge and power.

Like the yeast….

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From the moment of the expulsion of man from Paradise God has, in different ways, shown His care for man, that showing that He has not left him, but showed him His care through the prophets, saints, and when the time came through His Only Begotten Son. That is the great mystery of God’s humility, and again, that His Son did not come in glory but as a humble, lowly servant, being as one of us. Many did not recognize in Him divinity.

How then is it possible to destroy evil in this world and that evil be defeated when we are witnesses of there being more and more evil. Being witnesses that there is more evil how can that which is smaller be victorious over that which is greater? Christ gives us the answer to this when He tells us that the Heavenly Kingdom is like the yeast which which one makes bread, for, the yeast is incomparably smaller than the flour, but even so the yeast makes the dough change, that it become something better, that it become bread which feeds us.

Bishop Joanikije

 

Serbian Flag in DC

H/T: here

When Serbian flag flew above the White House

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On July 28th 1918, the 4th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, Serbian flag flew above the White House and all public buildings in American capital by the order of President Woodrow Wilson.

This unique event, a Serbian flag flying above the White House in Washington, took place over 9 decades ago but remained a memorable act of the US President Woodrow Wilson towards Serbia that submitted the ultimate sacrifice in “The Great War” – it lost 26% of its population and had a precedent in the war history when almost its entire population had to withdraw from their homeland.

Thanks to the great scientist Mihajlo Pupin, a friend of the American President, the work of the Serbian Mission in the States and Serbian representative in Washington, Ljubomir M. Mihailović, a series of manifestations took place in June and July, while the central event took place on July 28th, when the President Wilson gave the following message to the American people:

To the People of the United States:

On Sunday, 28th of this present month, will occur the fourth anniversary of the day when the gallant people of Serbia, rather than submit to the studied and ignoble exactions of a prearranged foe, were called upon by the war declaration of Austria-Hungary to defend their territory and their homes against an enemy bent on their destruction.

Nobly did they respond. So valiantly and courageously did they oppose the forces of a country ten times greater in population and resources that it was only after they had thrice driven the Austrians back and Germany and Bulgaria had come to the aid of Austria that they were compelled to retreat into Albania.

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken. Though overwhelmed by superior forces, their love of freedom remains unabated. Brutal force has left unaffected their firm determination to sacrifice everything for liberty and independence.

It is fitting that the people of the United States, dedicated to the self-evident truth that is the right of the people of all nations, small as well as great, to live their own lives and choose their own Government, and remembering that the principles for which Serbia has so nobly fought and suffered are those for which the United States is fighting, should on the occasion of this anniversary manifest in an appropriate manner their war sympathy with this oppressed people who have so heroically resisted the aims of the Germanic nations to master the world.

At the same time, we should not forget the kindred people of the Great Slavic race–the Poles, the Czechs and Yugo-Slavs, who, now dominated and oppressed by alien races yearn for independence and national unity.

Even though President Wilson wanted the US to stay neutral in the Great War, the declaration of war against Germany was passed by the American Congress on April 4th 1917, after dreadful events and “The Zimmermann Telegram”, a diplomatic proposal from the German Empire to Mexico to enter the War as its ally.

Although the US never directly took part in battles across the Balkans, it was well informed about the events taking place along this front. Therefore, when Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić suggested an official mission to be sent to the US with the aim to inform its government and the public about Serbia’s war missions, Washington soon replied that “the US Government will be pleased to welcome Serbian representatives as their guests”.

source: Serbia.com