Palestinian Arabic Orthodox Christian Prayer - Psalm 136 صلوات مسيحية أرثوذكسية - احمدوا الرب
Palestinian Arabic Orthodox Christian Prayer - Psalm 136 صلوات مسيحية أرثوذكسية - احمدوا الرب

sweetpollyolliver  asked:

Hey Van do you mind or like to talk about your faith on your blog? Because I was wondering how you perceived the bible - whether it's 100% word of God or many human interpretations of God's message and therefore flawed...? I was partly inspired to ask this because of your post on semiotics and religion and my recent discovery that there many books not included in the current copy of the bible including one, some people think, written by Mary Magdalene which I found super exciting.

Hey lovely :) I love these sorts of questions, so I don’t mind at all!!! I’m such a huge nerd when it comes to theology and love it when other people are curious, regardless of what perspective they’re coming from. I just wish more people cared haha. I find that not many really want to hear how I feel about this and discuss :)

I’ll start off by saying that my beliefs are heavily influenced by the fact I’m eastern orthodox, and that other denominations have looser views towards the Bible. 

I think that the Bible itself is God breathed and God inspired, and that it is ultimately the Truth. I don’t think that because humans were the tool used, it is flawed.

I actually think it’s incredibly dangerous for people to interpret the Bible at their own will, and not God’s Will. This is becoming increasingly trendy, mainly due to the spread of Protestantism. There are so many ways to interpret and understand the Bible, that it’s literally led to thousands of heresies, variant doctrines, schisms, and splits within Christianity. It is basically the source of disunity in the Church. 

A lot of people think that the Bible should be the basis of their faith, not realising that Scripture is supposed to be used in accordance to the Traditions of the Church. When Christianity was first formed, the Bible did not exist in one volume. The Bible existed as separate scrolls or collections. The only books that all Jews agreed on as Scripture was the Torah, and that’s just the first five books. So, the Bible as we know it, didn’t even exist for the early Church. They relied on the Apostolistic Traditions set up by Jesus himself and his disciples. (These are the Traditions the Eastern Orthodox Church still practice, in accordance to reading out the Gospel and various books eg. psalms and letters during our Liturgy). This is, of course, why St. Paul writes:

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

One Bible verse in particular that stresses this is 2 Peter 1:20-

First of all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Pet 1:20).

It isn’t a matter of “one’s own interpretation” because Scripture has been “moved by the Holy Spirit.” So, the Bible isn’t supposed to stand alone. One of the best ways I’ve seen it described is like this -

“There is no question that the Bible is authority, so if I gave the impression that the Bible is not authority in the Church, that’s certainly not true. It is authority, but it’s not over the Church, it’s not under the Church, it’s part of the Church. It does stand as part of the Tradition, part of apostolic Tradition. It’s just the written form of apostolic Tradition. To that extent, it’s not exclusive authority.”
—Dr. Jeannie Constantinou

I basically believe that the Bible itself is God-inspired. I don’t think there’s any flaw in it. I do recognise that people (being imperfect) will interpret passages differently and incorrectly when left without guidance. But that’s why we’re not left without guidance; we have been given the Living Traditions and Canons as a basis of our understanding, as a framework. And, as true, baptised believers, we also have the Holy Spirit to enlighten us. 

As for your question about Mary Magdalene. Man, awesome question. I have a huge girl crush on Mary Magdalene. I mean, a woman who had seven demons inside her yet was  transformed by grace into a woman equal to the apostles? She’s literally a badass. Not to mention the esteem she is given being first to meet Christ after his resurrection, and to be the one to give the good news! She’s seriously one of my faves.

Now, with the whole thing about her writing a gospel, we’re touching upon Canons. This is something we covered in Bible Study not long ago, but it’s complex, so I hope I do okay explaining. 

The Canonical Gospels are those that have been accepted into the Bible - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The first three have a striking similarity, and are even worded the same. It is only John that is written in a slightly different style. These Gospels are considered to be divinely inspired. 

In addition to the four canonical gospels, there have been several other gospels that were not accepted into the canon. These works were later compositions than the canonical gospels, and due to questions about the veracity of the documents, they were not considered ‘divinely inspired’ or even historically sound, and thus not included. These books have come to be known as “apocrypha”. This term suggests that the books were considered useful by the church, but not divinely inspired. The Gospel of Mary falls under this. 

I’m not really phased by it though; I honestly believe that God has given us access to as much information as we need when it comes to Scripture. I don’t think an additional account of Jesus’ life would do anything other than reiterate what Matthew, Mark and Luke do. Also, if you read how crazy ‘coincidental’ it was that the Bible even came together, and that these scrolls were found, and that koine Greek was even common back then for the NT to be written, you’d trust that a divine force was in play to make it happen. I doubt that God ran out of steam and forgot to add an integral piece of information. We have what we need. I don’t think an additional gospel would convince those people who’ve set their heart against Christianity to reconsider. 

I hope this wasn’t boring. And I know it’s probably really not what you expected to read, but I’m praying you (and any one else who reads it) lets down their guard to embrace it with an open mind and open heart :) It’s a topic I never get bored researching, so hopefully you’re inspired to read up a little and consolidate your own views :) Thanks for being super cool and asking :) :) I’ll just send a million smilies your way :) :) :) 

Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Sabbas - Alexandria, Egypt

The church was founded by Levantine Christian immigrants from Lebanon & Syria.

“St. Maximos the Confessor says that a person’s deliverance from pain and pleasure is the sign that he has passed the stage of purification; the sign that he has passed or is at the stage of illumination is his deliverance from ignorance and forgetfulness of God; and the sign that he has reached theosis is his liberation from fantasy and all images which the world of the senses brings to him.”

That passage alone is enough to chew on for a year.

The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition,
Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos.

Saint John the Baptist Church - Jordan River, Jordan

The church is located on the site believed by some to be where Jesus was baptised by Saint John.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptised by him” (Matthew 3:13)


Watched this gem for the first time in years. Realized that we definitely should have a “things single Orthodox Christians hear.” Here are some I’ve been told and others that I’m sure have been heard by some poor single soul at some point in history…

“Are there any young and single people in your parish?” *Asks a well meaning visitor, I responded by laughing (while ugly crying on the inside)*

“You know who wasn’t married?” *Insert the name of any of the THOUSANDS of unmarried saints*

“Have you prayed to Saint Xenia?”
- St. Phanourios?
- St. Xenophon?
- Sts. Joachim and Anna?

“So my nephew/niece, granddaughter/son, second cousin twice removed that lives in [insert foreign nation here] is single!”

“You should move near a seminary.”

“Quick hold this adorable baby it’ll make that orthodox man/woman swoon”

“What about that guy over there? (literally 20 years older then me), “ok how about that alter server? (points to his beautiful wife and children), “that one? (aspiring monastic), "fine him then” (he’s still in high school ya nasty). “I’ll pray for you.”

“I listened to this great podcast about singleness/marriage on Ancient Faith, I’ll send it to you.”

“Are you on the Orthodox & Single app?”

“Maybe someone will convert for you.”

*Sweet meddling old person at church sees that the only other single person didn’t receive the Eucharist at liturgy* “Psst give them some of the antidoron.” *wink wink*

“Maybe they can hear you reading/chanting.”

anonymous asked:

i'm a greek who's trying to get in touch with her roots by studying the classics but I also want to honor my old gods. I practice Greek orthodoxy but i also want to practice Hellenistic polytheism. do you have any suggestions or places for me to start? i'm thinking of weaving wreaths out of the olive branches from my groves and leaving them at temples near my village as offerings

Feel free to take a look at our FAQ and Guide Page for information that may interest you with how to start Hellenic polytheism.

Do remember that you cannot be a Christian and Hellenic polytheist at the same time, though. The Abrahamic God requires that He is put first and is the only God you worship, while Hellenic Gods require that they cannot be put lower than any other pantheon/deity. They contradict each other.

As for the weaving wreaths and leaving them near temples, be sure that it’s okay for you to do that. I don’t know the laws in Greece as both mods for this blog live in the USA, so I advise that you check with local authorities, the law, etc about doing that.

- Ronan

Palestinian Christians celebrate Palm Sunday at the Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza


The Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Panagia, meaning “All Holy” in Greek) at Melá Mountain  within the Pontic Mountains range.

The monastery was founded in 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 - 395), Legend has it that two priests undertook its creation after discovering a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain.

During its long history, the monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various emperors. During the 6th century, it was restored and enlarged by General Belisarius at the behest of Justinian.

It reached its present form in the 13th century after gaining prominence during the reign of Alexios III (1349 - 1390) of the Komnenian Empire of Trebizond, established in 1204. At that time, the monastery was granted an amount annually from imperial funds. During the time of Manuel III, son of Alexius III, and during the reigns of subsequent princes, Sumela gained further wealth from imperial grants. Following the conquest by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1461, it was granted the sultan’s protection and given rights and privileges that were renewed by following sultans. The monastery remained a popular destination for monks and travelers through the years.

In 1682 and for a few decades, the monastery housed the Phrontisterion of Trapezous, a well-known Greek educational institution of the region.

The monastery was seized by the Russian Empire during the 1916-18 occupation of Trabzon. The site was abandoned in 1923, following forced population exchanges between Greece and Turkey. The departing monks were not allowed to take any property with them, so they buried Sumela’s famous icon under the floor of the monastery’s St. Barbara chapel. In 1930, a monk secretly returned to Sumela and retrieved the icon, transferring it to the new Panagia Soumela Monastery, on the slopes of Mount Vermion, near the town of Naousa, in Macedonia, Greece.


World is silent over missing bishops

A Greek Orthodox patriarch has lamented global indifference towards the fate of two Syrian bishops kidnapped two years ago.

Speaking ahead of the anniversary of the abductions on April 22, 2013, Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch, the brother of one of the kidnap victims, said: “We hope that the bishops are alive, but unfortunately the world is silent and nobody has provided physical evidence.”

Patriarch John X of Antioch, speaking at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday at Our Lady of Balamand Monastery, near Tripoli in northern Lebanon, called for “the whole community and international organizations to mobilise” to search for the missing bishops.

Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazii, both of Aleppo, were kidnapped two years ago near to the city.

Patriarch John is the brother of Metropolitan Boulos, or Paul, and said: “We tried to negotiate with those who can help in this matter, but unfortunately there was total silence.”

Church of Saint Porphyrius - Gaza, Palestine

Named after the 5th century bishop of Gaza, Saint Porphyrius, it is the oldest active church in Gaza. The original church dated back to 425 CE however the current building dates back to 1150 CE.

Saint Porphyrius’s tomb is situated in the northeastern corner of the church. His feast day is celebrated on February 26 by both Christians & Muslims.