Δευτέρα 8 Απριλίου 2024

Passionately Drunk

Fr. Stephen Freeman

Glory to God For All Things

The Philokalia, that wonderful collection of writings by the fathers on prayer of the heart, has as its full title, The Philokalia of the Neptic Saints gathered from our Holy Theophoric Fathers, through which, by means of the philosophy of ascetic practice and contemplation, the intellect is purified, illumined, and made perfect. Little wonder it is known popularly as the Philokalia. That word, Philokalia, means “the love of beautiful things.” It is not a reference to expensive, decorative items, but to the things which are made beautiful by their union with God. All things are beautiful inasmuch as they are united to God, Who is Beauty itself.

Another important word in the title is the adjective, “Neptic” (νηπτικός). It has a variety of translations: sober, watchful, vigilant. It refers to those who, having their earthly senses purified, have become truly aware of God and dwell in Him. This title is especially used to describe the fathers of the Hesychast tradition in Orthodoxy, the tradition of ceaseless prayer and inner stillness associated with the monastic life.

To describe these fathers as “sober,” is very insightful. For our experience with the passions, the disordered desires of our body and soul, is often an experience of drunkenness.

For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him (1 Thess. 5:7-10).

The man who is drunk is famously unaware of his surroundings. He stumbles physically, mentally and spiritually, barely aware of his own imbalance. The passions have the same ability to blind us. In anger we are aware primarily of our own anger. What we see, we see through the haze of the energy that pulses through our mind and body.

All of the passions have this property. They consume us and become the primary lens through which we see the world and with which we react. Thus we are described as in “delusion.” Those who see the world through their passions do not see the truth of things. They see their own passions.

There is a social aspect to the passions – they are not restricted to an individual’s experience. Whole societies, or significant segments within it, can be drunk with the same passions. Thus a whole society can be drunk with the passion of fear or hatred.  Such a passion is reinforced by being repeatedly affirmed by those around us. Many aspects of culture are simply a communion of the passions.

We live in an age where the passions are carefully studied and used as the objects of marketing. Those things that are sold to us (even those that supposedly appeal to our intellect) are marketed to our passions. Apple computer famously researches the “feel” of its packaging, presenting a sensual experience that is associated with quality, precision and value. It is a successful strategy across the whole of our culture.

However, those who are “drunk” with the passions also yield themselves as victims to their intoxication. Political parties pour massive amounts of money into their campaigns simply to create and nurture the passions by which people vote. We are not governed by reason or informed decisions. Most of what you or I think about political subjects is a description of the passions to which we are enslaved. The political cynicism of many is, to a degree, a recognition of our disgust with the politics of passion.

By the same token, most of the opinions we nurture are equally the product of our passions. We think, we believe, we decide, we act largely in accord with the passions to which we are enthralled. Theological debates are generally arguments between one person’s passions and another’s. It is a conversation between drunks.

And so the Church values the holy, sober fathers. These are the men and women who have walked the narrow way of salvation, “putting to death the deeds of the body.” Inner stillness is the state of freedom from disordered passions. The neptic fathers do not cease to desire (they are not Buddhists). But their desires have been purified and healed – restored to proper order. Sobriety means desiring the right thing in the right way at the right time. Traditionally, this purification and healing come as a result of a life of repentance, fasting and prayer. It slays demons and heals the wounds of the soul. All things are brought into obedience to Christ.

It is the life that Scripture enjoins:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he my devour. Rsist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world (1 Peter 5:8-9).

There is a story in the Desert Fathers that illustrates such vigilance. A community of monks once heard a rumor that one of their number was harboring a woman in his cell. They went to the elder and complained. While they became yet more agitated, the elder slipped away to the cell of the erring monk. Finding the woman there, he hid her in a large earthen vessel. He placed the lid on the vessel and sat on it. Soon the angry monks arrived at the cell and began to search for the woman. Out of respect for the elder they overlooked the vessel on which he was sitting. Finding nothing, they apologized to the erring monk and left. The elder, rose from his seat and said to the monk, “Pay attention to yourself.”

It is a call to sobriety. The angry monks were drunk with their own self-righteousness. Their sin was at least as great as the erring monk. The elder alone was sober. His sobriety hid the sin of a man from those who would have harmed him, and revealed the sin to the one who needed to be healed. The word of healing was kind and without judgment. “Pay attention to yourself.” It is the simple word of St. Peter, “Be sober.”

For all of us, in every moment of the day with regard to all things and all people, it is good to pay proper attention to ourselves.

This prayer of St. Isaac of Syria, great among the neptic fathers, is one of my favorites:

I knock at the door of Thy compassion, Lord: send aid to my scattered impulses which are drunk with the multitude of the passions and the power of darkness.

Thou canst see my sores hidden within me: stir up contrition – though not corresponding to the weight of my sins, for if I receive full awareness of the extent of my sins, Lord, my soul would be consumed by the bitter pain from them.

Assist my feeble stirrings on the path to true repentance, and may I find relief from the vehemence of sins through the contrition that comes of Thy gift, for without the power of Thy grace I am quite unable to enter within myself, become aware of my stains, and so, at the sight of them, be able to be still from great distraction.


Σάββατο 30 Μαρτίου 2024

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Παρασκευή 1 Μαρτίου 2024

‘When they kill the priests, I will tell them not to kill Papa-Nicholas. And not only will I say it, but I will defend him...’: a short story form Athens about a simple priest, who spoke with saints, animals, and children...

'The Simple Shepherd'—St Nicholas Planas

Three photos of st Nicholas Planas, from here
  Today, 17 February on the Church’s calendar (March 2nd), we commemorate St Nicholas Planas, the simple priest of Athens who served the Divine Liturgy daily for 50 years. Although his parish began with only eight families, he inspired and attracted others to him with his childlike simplicity and faith and his zeal for the liturgical cycle of the Church, for as the publisher, Alexander Papademetriou, has written, ‘sanctity has never ceased to attract, to captivate, and to guide the Church’s faithful children in Her true path’ (‘Prologue of the Publishers of the Greek Edition’, Papa-Nicholas Planas (1851-1932): The Simple Shepherd of the Simple Sheep, by Nun Martha, trans. Holy Transfiguration Monastery [Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1981], p. xix). Indeed, in the case of St Nicholas, Papademetriou continues on the same page:
It can be said that, in our cold and ungrateful times, the service-loving synodia of vigil-keepers of Papa-Nicholas Planas—from Alexander Papadiamantis, Alexander Moraitides, and Father Philotheos Zervakos, to the women, who though little-educated, were yet pious and zealously dedicated to the traditions of the Church—were by the good will and blessing of God, a continuation of the Kollyvades.
In his ‘Foreword’ to the book, the ever-memorable Photios Kontoglou also refers to the beautiful relationship between St Nicholas and this synodia (p. xxviii):
He considered his synodia as his children, the sons and daughters of Christ, a blessed fellowship which had in its midst the innocent Elder as guide—the good shepherd, who guided his flock to the good and refreshing pastures of the Orthodox Faith. The entire care and concern of the Elder was the salvation of the flock. He felt pain for them, since he was not the hireling who abandons the flock and leaves (cf. John 10:13).
Anyway, I thought that rather than trying to give an overview of St Nicholas’s life, which would be rather an imposition upon the material in this book by Sr Martha, I would simply give my own favourite episode, which is number 42, ‘The tamed beast’, on p. 48:
At the family’s where Father often went, their space inside the courtyard had been rented by a certain cobbler who was a mainstay of the Communist party. The hatred which he felt toward all, and especially toward priests, knew no bounds. There, while he worked, he would talk to himself, raving about where his comrades would begin slaughtering the priests. And he would say, ‘First of all, we’ll slaughter the priests of the Life-giving Spring.’ And he would go on dealing in turn with the others also. As I said, he worked inside the court. Father, in his kindness went up to him and said, ‘Good evening, my child.’ Without lifting his head from his work, he mumbled something.

The next Saturday Father went again, ‘Good evening, my Luke.’ He answered, ‘Good evening,’ again without lifting his head.

On the third visit, Father said to him again, ‘Good evening, my Luke; how are you doing, my child?’ He deigned to say, ‘Well, Father.’

Father would visit him continuously there where he worked, until the ice was broken. He got up from his work, he kisssed his hand with reverence, and he told us, ‘When they kill the priests, I will tell them not to kill Papa-Nicholas. And not only will I say it, but I will defend him.’ Afterwards, whenever Father used to come, he would hasten to meet him and kiss his hand. Father neither knew his inclinations, nor did he have any conception of communism, nor did he notice his transformation—we supposed. Who knows how he saw with the clairvoyance of his soul? Well, no matter how many sermons that Communist might have heard, no matter how many admonitions they might have given him, none of these would have been able to have any influence on his hardened soul as the goodness of this white-haired little old man, who used to pay him a standing visit each time—indifferent as to whether he had been scorned at the beginning. With Father’s little greetings and good wishes he repented. And when a short time afterwards he fell ill from a disease (paralysis of the lower extremities of his legs) and died at the age of thirty years, he reposed as a good Christian and . . . without having killed anyone. Such was the influence that the personality of Father had on all who knew him. Because of this, he had no one as his enemy. Only Satan, but even him he would bring to nought with the grace of the Holy Spirit, who had come to dwell in his soul.
Icons from the life of St Nicholas Planas, from here

There was a good article on St Nicholas in "Orthodox America"; it is available here. But one really ought to read Sr Martha's book, for as Kontoglou writes, 'this book also is restful and peaceful, because it was written by a soul who, though simple, yet is full of that humble wisdom which is granted by God to those who love Him above all things' (p. xxii).

Παρασκευή 23 Φεβρουαρίου 2024

Χρύσανθος Μαρουλάκης (1926-1944) - Ὁ ἐθνομάρτυρας Ἡγούμενος τοῦ Πανορμίτη



Πρόκειται γιά τόν ἐθνομάρτυρα Ἡγούμενο τοῦ Πανορμίτη, πού ἐκτελέστηκε ἄγρια ἀπό τούς Ἰταλούς κατακτητές τόν Φεβρουάριο τοῦ 1944. Καταγόταν ἀπό τά Καλαβάρδα τῆς Ρόδου καί ὑπηρετοῦσε στήν Μονή ἀπό τά νεανικά του χρόνια. Ὑπῆρξε γενναιόφρων, διαπνεόμενος ἀπό ἁγνό πατριωτικό φρόνημα πού δέν ἐκάμπτετο οὐδέποτε. Πρωταγωνίστησε στήν ἐνδοξότερη θυσιαστική προσφορά τῆς Μονῆς, πού ἔλαβε χώρα τήν ἐποχή τοῦ Β΄ Παγκοσμίου πολέμου, ὅταν αὐτή κατέστη μέ τίς ἐπαναστατικές του ἐνέργειες, κέντρο τῆς συμμαχικῆς ἀντικατασκοπείας. Συγκεκριμένα ἀπό τό 1943 στούς χώρους της λειτουργοῦσε ἀσύρματος μέ τήν ἀμέριστη συμπαράστασή του. 

Τό ἀντίτιμο αὐτῆς τῆς ἐπαναστατικῆς δράσεως, ὅταν τούτη ἔγινε ἀντιληπτή στόν ἐχθρό, ἦταν ἡ ἐκτέλεση τοῦ ἰδίου τοῦ Ἡγουμένου, τοῦ Ἕλληνα στρατιώτη-ἀσυρματιστῆ Φλώρου Ζουγανέλη, καθώς ἐπίσης καί τοῦ οἰκονόμου τῆς Μονῆς Μιχαήλ Λάμπρου, τόν Φεβρουάριο τοῦ 1944.

Τά δραματικά ἐκεῖνα γεγονότα, κατεγράφησαν λεπτομερῶς ἀργότερα καί δημοσιεύθηκαν σέ συνέχειες στά «Συμαϊκά Νέα» τοῦ 1966. Ἀπό τίς μαρτυρίες τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐκείνων, πού ἔζησαν δίπλα στούς πρωταγωνιστές καί βίωσαν λεπτό πρός λεπτό τήν κορύφωση τοῦ δράματος, παραθέτουμε τήν ἔνδοξη καί ἡρωϊκή ἱστορία, πού σημάδεψε τήν νεότερη ἱστορία τῆς Μονῆς καί τῆς Σύμης:

Τό ὅλο σχέδιο εἶχε καταστρωθεῖ ἀπό τήν συμμαχική Ὑπηρεσία τῆς «Ἀπλοθήκας» (περιοχή τῆς Μ. Ἀσίας, ἀπέναντι ἀπό τήν Σύμη), ἡ ὁποία ὀργάνωσε στό Νησί κατασκοπευτική ὁμάδα, μέ 00122 ἀπώτερο σκοπό τήν ἐγκατάσταση στρατιωτικῆς Δυνάμεως, πού θά ἔκανε κρούσεις στούς κατακτητές. Στήν ὁμάδα αὐτή ἀνῆκαν οἱ δημοδιδάσκαλοι Ἀντώνιος Ἀγγελίδης, Ἀνδρέας Μοσχόβης, οἱ ὁποῖοι στήν συνέχεια ἐκτελέστηκαν, καθώς καί ὁ Ἡγούμενος Χρύσανθος Μαρουλάκης, ὁ Ἐργομηχανικός Γεώργιος Χατζησταυριός, μέ τόν Μιχαήλ Λάμπρου ὑπάλληλοι τοῦ Μοναστηριοῦ, καί ὁ ἀσυρματιστής Λοχίας τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ Στρατοῦ Φλῶρος Ζουγανέλης, ἀπό τήν Μύκονο. Ὁ Ζουγανέλης, ἦταν ἀνεψιός τοῦ Ἡγουμένου τῆς Παναγίας «Τουρλιανῆς» τῆς Μυκόνου, ὁ ὁποῖος ὑπῆρξε φλογερός Δάσκαλός του, πού τόν ἔμαθε νά ἀγαπᾶ τήν Ἑλλάδα καί νά πεθαίνει γι’ αὐτήν.

Στήν Ἀπλοθήκα ἦρθε μέ τήν 133η Δύναμη τό Μάϊο τοῦ 1943, ἀπό τήν Μέση Ἀνατολή, ὅπου ὑπηρετοῦσε ὡς χειριστής ἀσυρμάτου γιά εἰδικές ἐπιχειρήσεις σέ ἐχθρικό ἔδαφος. Στόν Πανορμίτη ἀποβιβάστηκε τήν 10η Ὀκτωβρίου ἐκείνου τοῦ ἔτους, καί ἐμφανίστηκε ὡς ἀνηψιός τοῦ Χρυσάνθου καί ὑποψήφιος Μοναχός, ταμένος ἀπ’ τήν Μάνα του στόν Ἀρχάγγελο τῆς Σύμης. Ἐκεῖ ἐγκατέστησε σταθμό ἀσυρμάτου γιά ἐπικοινωνία μέ τήν Ἀπλοθήκα καί τό Στρατηγεῖο τῆς Μέσης Ἀνατολῆς. Ὑπό τήν ἔμπειρη καθοδήγηση τοῦ Ζουγανέλη, ἡ Μονή μετετράπη σ’ ἕνα ἀξιόλογο κέντρο κατασκοπείας. Ὁ ἀσύρματος εἶχε τοποθετηθεῖ μέ τέχνη ἀπό τόν ἐργομηχανικό Γεώργιο Χατζησταυριό στόν Ἡγουμενικό ὀντᾶ, κάτω ἀπό τήν «ποδιά» τοῦ παραθύρου, πού βλέπει πρός τόν ὅρμο τῆς Φανερωμένης καί ἀπό ᾿κεῖ, λειτουργοῦσε ἐκ τοῦ ἀσφαλοῦς μέρα-νύκτα.

Ἀλλά καί ὁ Ἡγούμενος Χρύσανθος, προσέφερε μέ τόν δικό του τρόπο τίς πολύτιμες ὑπηρεσίες του. Οἱ φιλοφρονήσεις ἦταν σέ ἡμερήσια διάταξη καί τά τραπέζια μέ παρακαθήμενους πότε Ἰταλούς καί πότε Γερμανούς, ἔδιναν καί ἔπαιρναν. Πολλοί ἦταν βέβαια ἐκεῖνοι, πού ἀπερίσκεπτα παρεξηγοῦσαν αὐτές τίς κινήσεις του, μή μπορῶντας νά διανοηθοῦν τούς ἀπώτερους σκοπούς καί τά σχέδια τοῦ γενναίου καί φιλοπάτριδος ἱερωμένου. Ὑποτιθέμενος θεῖος καί ἀνεψιός, ἔπαιζαν καλά τόν ρόλο τους. Ἡ πρώτη ἐπιτυχία ἦρθε, ὅταν τό σκάφος τῆς Γερμανικῆς φρουρᾶς ἔφυγε ἀπ’ τόν ὅρμο τῆς Μονῆς στίς ἕξι τά χαράματα γιά περιπολία, καί μετά λίγα λεπτά τῆς ὥρας, ἐξουδετερώθηκε ἀπ’ τό Ἀγγλικό ὑποβρύχιο, πού εἶχε ἀξιοποιήσει στό ἔπακρο τίς σαφεῖς πληροφορίες τοῦ ἀσυρμάτου τοῦ Πανορμίτη. 

Μιά μέρα ξεκίνησε γιά τό Γιαλό κάτω ἀπό ἄκρα μυστικότητα μιά βάρκα ἑνός ἱταλικοῦ συνδέσμου καί βρέθηκε ἄθελά της καταδιωκόμενη, στά ἀπέναντι παράλια. Ἐν συνεχείᾳ ἡ Ἰταλική φρουρά τῆς Μονῆς, ἐναγωνίως ζητῶντας τήν λύση τοῦ μυστηρίου ἀκολούθησε τά ἴχνη, μέχρι πού ἀπροσανατολισμένη ἀποδεκατίστηκε ἀπό τούς Ἐγγλέζους κομμάντος, πού καραδοκοῦσαν

Τό περιστατικό αὐτό, ἔγινε ἡ αἰτία νά ὑποψιαστοῦν οἱ κατακτητές ὅτι κάτι συμβαίνει μέ τήν Μονή καί νά ἐνισχύσουν τήν φρουρά της μέ 35 περίπου ἄνδρες, ὑπό τήν ἐποπτεία τοῦ Γερμανοῦ Λοχαγοῦ Μπάγερ, στόν ὁποῖο στρατιωτικά εἶχε ἀνατεθεῖ ἡ Σύμη. Στήν συνέχεια, κατέστρωσαν μιά καλοστημένη παγίδα, γιά νά στοιχειοθετήσουν τίς ὑποψίες τους καί νά φανερωθεῖ ἡ ἀνάμειξη τοῦ Ἡγουμένου σ’ ὅλα τοῦτα. Παρουσιάστηκαν λοιπόν δύο Ἰταλοί φασίστες, ὁ Λοχίας Γιακομίνο καί ὁ στρατιώτης Πάολο, καί ἐπί ἡμέρες πολλές, ἱκέτευαν τόν Χρύσανθο νά τούς δώσει συστατική ἐπιστολή, ἀπευθυνόμενη σέ ἀνθρώπους του στήν Ἀπλοθήκα, προφασιζόμενοι ὅτι λιποτάκτησαν. Μετά ἀπό παρέμβαση κι ἄλλων παραγόντων, φαίνεται ὅτι ἡ ἄδολη καρδιά τοῦ ἱερωμένου κάμφθηκε καί τούς ἐφοδίασε μέ τό χαρτί πού ζητοῦσαν, πέφτοντας στήν παγίδα.

Οἱ δύο Ἰταλοί σκηνοθέτησαν ἀμέσως μιά νυκτερινή δραπέτευση μέ ψαροκάϊκο, ἡ ὁποία ὅμως ἀπέτυχε καί αὐτοί ὑποτίθεται συνελήφθησαν. Σκοπίμως διεδόθη, ὅτι κάποια γράμματα πού εἶχαν, πρίν συλληφθοῦν τά πέταξαν στή θάλασσα. Ὁ Ἡγούμενος πρός στιγμήν παραπλανήθηκε. Τό μεσημέρι τῆς 10ης Φεβρουαρίου 1944 κατά τήν συνήθειά του, καλεῖ τόν Γερμανό ὑποδιοικητῆ τῆς Ἀστυνομίας καί τόν Ἰταλό ἀνθυπολοχαγό Τσέτσι γιά φαγητό στήν Μονή, μέ ἀπώτερο σκοπό νά ἐνισχύσει τήν ἐμπιστοσύνη τους πρός τό πρόσωπό του καί νά συγκεντρώσει χρήσιμες πληροφορίες γιά τούς συμμάχους.

Ὁ Γερμανός ἀξιωματικός ἀνταποκρίνεται πρόθυμα στήν πρόσκληση, καί προσποιούμενος τόν βαθύτατα ὑποχρεωμένο στόν Χρύσανθο γιά τίς πάντοτε φιλόξενες διαθέσεις του, μετά τό φαγητό ρωτᾶ σέ τί θά μποροῦσε νά φανεῖ χρήσιμος στόν Γέροντα. Ἐκεῖνος ἔχοντας κατά νοῦ τήν ἀνέχεια καί τήν πεῖνα πού μαστίζει τούς ὑπόδουλους συμπατριῶτες του, καί μή ὑποπτευόμενος τήν παγίδα, σπεύδει νά ἐπωφεληθεῖ τῆς εὐκαιρίας, ζητῶντας 500 ὀκάδες σπόρο πατάτας ἀπό τήν Ρόδο.

Ὁ Γερμανός διοικητής τότε, ἀνασύρει μιά κάρτα ἀπό τήν τσέπη του καί τήν προτείνει μαζί μέ τόν στυλό του στόν Ἡγούμενο, γιά νά σημειώσει σ’ αὐτήν τήν ἐπιθυμία του, καθώς καί τό πρόσωπο πού θά μεριμνοῦσε γιά τήν παραλαβή τῆς πατάτας. Πραγματικά· ἐκεῖνος γράφει τά σχετικά μέ τήν παραγγελία, καθώς καί τό ὄνομα τοῦ Ἱερέως τῆς Κρεμαστῆς τῆς Ρόδου Παπά-Βασίλη Παπανικολάου, ὁ ὁποῖος ὡς πρόσωπο ἀπολύτου ἐμπιστοσύνης, θά φρόντιζε γιά τήν παραλαβή καί τήν ἀποστολή τοῦ σπόρου. Ὁ Γερμανός ἀξιωματικός μέ τόν Ἰταλό συνάδελφό του ἔφυγαν μέ προσποιητή χαρά καί πολλές εὐχαριστίες, κατέχοντας δυστυχῶς πλέον τό ἀδιάψευστο τεκμήριο τῆς ἐπιστολῆς, μέ τόν γραφικό χαρακτῆρα τοῦ Χρυσάνθου.

Οὔτε μιά ὥρα μετά, τρεῖς στρατιῶτες κατ’ ἐντολήν τους, συλλαμβάνουν τόν Ἡγούμενο, τόν Ζουγανέλη καί τόν Λάμπρου, τούς ὁποίους βρῆκαν νά συνομιλοῦν ἀκόμη στό «Ὑδραϊκό», ὅπου νωρίτερα εἶχαν συμφάγει. Ἀπό τήν πρόχειρη ἀνάκριση δέν προέκυψε κάποιο ἐπιπλέον στοιχεῖο, ἀπό τά ὑπάρχοντα, δηλαδή τίς δύο ἰδιόχειρες ἐπιστολές τοῦ Χρυσάνθου, ἐκ τῶν ὁποίων ἡ πρώτη μαρτυρᾶ τήν στενή σχέση πού διατηροῦσε μέ τούς Ἄγγλους τῆς μυστικῆς ὑπηρεσίας τῆς Ἀπλοθήκας, καί ἡ δεύτερη βεβαιώνει τήν αὐθεντικότητα τῆς πρώτης, ταυτίζοντας τόν γραφικό χαρακτῆρα τῶν δύο ἐπιστολῶν. Ὁ Μιχαήλ Λάμπρου μόλις 19 ἐτῶν, πιέζεται καί βασανίζεται γιά νά ὁμολογήσει. Εἶναι ὅμως ὁ μόνος πού δέν γνωρίζει ἀπολύτως τίποτα γιά τήν πραγματική ἰδιότητα τοῦ Ζουγανέλη, γιά τόν ὁποῖο πιστεύει ὅτι πράγματι εἶναι ἀνεψιός τοῦ Χρυσάνθου.


Τό πρωΐ τῆς ἑπομένης 11ης Φεβρουαρίου γύρω στίς 08:00, ὑπό συνοδεία 6 Ἰταλῶν στρατιωτῶν μέ ἐπικεφαλῆς τόν λοχία Τσερβίνι, οἱ τρεῖς συλληφθέντες ὁδηγοῦνται πεζῆ ἀπ’ τό ἀνηφορικό μονοπάτι πρός τήν πόλη τῆς Σύμης. Σ’ ὅλη τήν διάρκεια τῆς διαδρομῆς, ὁ Τσερβίνι εἰρωνεύεται τόν Ἡγούμενο καί τόν Ζουγανέλη καί παροτρύνει τούς στρατιῶτες νά τούς χλευάζουν καί νά τούς χτυποῦν μέ τούς ὑποκόπανους τῶν ὅπλων, δίδοντας πρῶτος τό παράδειγμα. 

Μετά τό ἐκκλησάκι τοῦ Προφήτη Ἠλία, ὁ Ζουγανέλης δέρεται ἀνηλεῶς καί τό πρόσωπό του γεμίζει αἵματα ἀπό τά χτυπήματα τοῦ Τσερβίνι. Στήν κορυφογραμμή τοῦ βουνοῦ στήν περιοχή τοῦ Κουρκουνιώτη, ὁ Ἡγούμενος Χρύσανθος κοντοστέκεται συγκινημένος καί κάνει τόν σταυρό του, ρίχνοντας μιά τελευταία ἀποχαιρετιστήρια ματιά στήν Μονή τῆς μετανοίας του, πρίν αὐτή χαθεῖ ὁριστικά ἀπ’ τά μάτια του. Ἡ σεβάσμια μορφή του οὔτε ἡ ἱερή τούτη στιγμή τῆς καρδιακῆς προσευχῆς του, συγκινοῦν τόν ἀπάνθρωπο φασίστα.

Πρίν τελειώσει τούτη τήν στερνή ἱκεσία στόν λατρευτό του Ἀρχάγγελο, ὁ Τσερβίνι μέ μιά ἀπότομη κίνηση τόν ἁρπάζει ἀπ’ τά πυκνά του γένια καί τόν σπρώχνει βάναυσα μπροστά, ξεστομίζοντας παράλληλα βρωμερές καί ἀνομολόγητες ὕβρεις. Ὁ Ζουγανέλης δαγκώνει τά χείλη του. Ὁ ἐξευτελισμός τοῦ Ἡγουμένου, τοῦ κοστίζει περισσότερο ἀπό τόν δικό του. Ἡ ψυχή του πλημμυρισμένη ἀπό ἀγανάκτηση καί μῖσος, ραγίζει ἀπό ἀνέκφραστο πόνο καί τά μάτια του βουρκώνουν. Εἶναι ἀδύνατο νά κρατηθεῖ περισσότερο. 

Ἡ κατάλληλη εὐκαιρία τοῦ δίνεται λίγα λεπτά μετά. Μόλις φτάνουν στήν Παναγία τήν «Στρατερή» καί καθίζουν γιά νά ξεκουραστοῦν, σέ μιά στιγμή πού ὁ Τσερβίνι προσπαθεῖ μέ τόν ἀναπτῆρα ἑνός στρατιώτη νά ἀνάψει τό τσιγάρο του, ὁ Ζουγανέλης ἐπωφελεῖται τῆς εὐκαιρίας καί μαζί μέ τόν Ἡγούμενο, ὁρμοῦν καταπάνω του μέ σκοπό νά τόν ἀφοπλίσουν. Ἀκολουθεῖ μιά ἡρωϊκή μά ἀπεγνωσμένη πάλη. Σέ μιά στιγμή ὁ Χρύσανθος κατορθώνει νά ἀποσπάσει τό αὐτόματο τοῦ Τσερβίνι, μά ἀλίμονο δέν γνωρίζει πῶς νά ἀπασφαλίσει τό ὅπλο, προκειμένου νά βάλλει ἐναντίον τῶν δεσμωτῶν τους. Ἡ ἄγνοιά του αὐτή, δίνει πολύτιμο χρόνο στούς Ἰταλούς νά καλυφθοῦν καί νά ρίξουν καταπάνω τους δύο χειροβομβίδες, μέ ἀποτέλεσμα τόν σοβαρό τραυματισμό τους. Ἀμέσως μετά ὁ Τσερβίνι, δίνει τό σύνθημα καί τά κορμιά τῶν τριῶν ἡρώων σωριάζονται καταγῆς χιλιοτρυπημένα ἀπό τά ἰταλικά πυροβόλα.

Στήν Ἀνατολική πλευρά τῆς Παναγίας τῆς «Στρατερῆς» δίπλα στό Ἱερό, τρεῖς ξύλινοι σταυροί ἔδειχναν ἀργότερα γιά χρόνια, τούς τάφους τῶν ἐθνομαρτύρων. Ἀρκετά χρόνια μετά, τά ὀστᾶ τῶν ἡρώων μεταφέρθηκαν στήν Μονή τοῦ Πανορμίτη, ὅπου τό Μοναστήρι γιά νά τιμήσει τήν ἱερή τους μνήμη, ἔχει ἀνεγείρει ἐπιβλητικό Ἡρῶο στήν προκυμαία του, τό ὁποῖο «μέ δωρική λιτότητα» ἀπεικονίζει σέ ἀνάγλυφο ὀρείχαλκο μεγάλων διαστάσεων, τήν στιγμή τῆς ἐκτελέσεως. Τό ἔργο τοῦτο, φιλοτεχνήθηκε ἀπό τόν σπουδαῖο Συμαῖο γλύπτη, Κώστα Βαλσάμη τό ἔτος 1974. 

Ἀκόμη, στό χῶρο πού στεγάζεται σήμερα τό Λαογραφικό Μουσεῖο τῆς Μονῆς, μιά μικρή κρύπτη ἀφιερωμένη στούς Τρεῖς ἐκτελεσθέντες, φιλοξενεῖ τόν ἀσύρματο καί ἄλλα ἀντικείμενα τῆς ἐποχῆς τοῦ Β΄ παγκοσμίου πολέμου, προκειμένου ὁ ἐπισκέπτης-προσκυνητής νά ἀποτίει ὕστατο φόρο τιμῆς σ’ αὐτούς πού ἔπεσαν ἀγωνιζόμενοι γιά τήν ἐπικράτηση τῶν εὐγενεστέρων ἰδανικῶν τῆς ἀνθρωπότητας, τοῦ Δικαίου καί τῆς Ἐλευθερίας.

Κατόπιν τά δραματικά τοῦτα γεγονότα, ἐπακολούθησαν γενικές ἔρευνες καί συλλήψεις στή Μονή, μετά τίς ὁποῖες ἀποκαλύφθηκαν πράγματα ἀδιανόητα γιά τόν κοινό νοῦ: Ἡ δεξαμενή τοῦ «Καβαλλάρη» κάτω ἀπ’ τήν μύτη κυριολεκτικά τῶν Ἰταλο-Γερμανῶν, ἔκρυβε ὁλόκληρη ἀποθήκη πυρομαχικῶν. Ὁ τάφος τοῦ Ἱερομονάχου Παϊσίου, ἀποτελοῦσε γιά πολύ καιρό τό χρηματοκιβώτιο τῆς Μονῆς, κρύβοντας μέσα ὁλόκληρη τήν περιουσία της σέ λίρες καί κοσμήματα. Αὐτά λεηλατήθηκαν ἀγρίως ἀπό τούς Ἰταλούς, πού γιά μέρες ἅρπαζαν, κατέστρεφαν καί λαφυραγωγοῦσαν. 

Τό ἀπαράμιλλο κάλλος τοῦ Πανορμίτη ἀμαυρώθηκε καί γιά κάποιο διάστημα ἔπαυσε νά λειτουργεῖται. Εὐτυχῶς διά τῆς φοβερᾶς προστασίας τοῦ Ταξιάρχου, ἀπεφεύχθησαν ἀνεπανόρθωτες καταστροφές εἰς τό Καθολικό καί τά κειμήλια. Ἡ διάσωσή τῶν κειμηλίων, ὀφείλεται στήν πρόνοια τῆς εὐλαβοῦς τότε Νεωκόρου τῆς Μονῆς Σταματούλας Παπανικολάου ἐκ Κρεμαστῆς Ρόδου, ἡ ὁποία μέ τήν Χάρη καί τό φωτισμό τοῦ Ἀρχαγγέλου, ἐγκαίρως προέβλεψε τά γινόμενα καί πρό τῆς συλλήψεως τῶν τριῶν ἐκτελεσθέντων ἡρώων, μερίμνησε γιά τήν μεταφορά καί φύλαξή τους σέ ἀσφαλῆ χῶρο.


Κυριακή 8 Οκτωβρίου 2023

Artificial Intelligence as Artificial Brilliance (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

To an English speaker without a knowledge of Greek, this article won't make a lot of sense, since the author is using two different ways of talking about Artificial Intelligence (Τεχνητή Νοημοσύνη and Τεχνητή Εὐφυΐα). 
The literal translation of *Εὐφυΐα* is the word "brilliance", though it really is another word for intelligence, but the other Greek word for intelligence, *Νοημοσύνη, *contains the word "nous" or "noetic", which in Orthodox theology is the highest faculty of the human being that has spiritual connotations. This article therefore is about replacing the Greek word *...

Πέμπτη 10 Αυγούστου 2023

Orthodox Saints in Crete Island (a tribute)


The famous island of Crete (like all of Greece), apart from its beautiful natural landscapes and open-hearted people, also has great spiritual treasures. One of them is the many saints who lived there. Some of them are ancient, while some others are people of our time.
We refer our dear visitors to a tribute to the saints of Crete, from the Mystagogy blog.

Saints of Crete



Παρασκευή 28 Ιουλίου 2023

The feast-day of St. Markella of Chios (July 22n) & a shocking message regarding child abuse

This article was written on the occasion of the feast of the holy Virgin Martyr Markella of Chios (the 'Chiopolitis' - a native of Chios), whose memory is commemorated on July 22nd.

Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries

Source: euxh.gr (Translation:  K.N.)

Saint Markella was murdered with unprecedented ferocity by her own father, who was obsessed with sexual lust for her! The girl resisted his wishes to the death – literally - but he finally chased her to the shore and slaughtered her when she became trapped among the rocks! The people of Chios confirm that every year, on the day of her memory, the waters at the site of her slaughter turn red by themselves, as if they too want to honour the pure, virgin blood that was so unjustly and tragically spilled there.

The saint is characterized as 'Virgin-Martyr', because 'virgin' in the ancient Greek language (parthenos) does not only mean a person who is sexually untouched and pure; it is also used when referring to a girl (a young woman, mainly a teenager - unmarried of course). A Christian girl who has not been married is taken for granted to be physically (sexually) unmolested, which is why the Greek terms for 'daughter' and 'virgin' have become synonymous. This is why young and unmarried women who had martyred for their faith in Christ and His teaching are called 'Virgin Martyrs'.  Examples of Virgin Martyrs are Saint Marina, Saint Kyriake, Saint Paraskeve, Saint Christina, Saint Barbara, Saint Ekaterina, e.a.. The first four mentioned here are commemorated in July.

The feast-day of St. Markella marks the commemoration of her exceptionally brutal martyrdom (by an abhorrent example of a father who had lost his senses with carnal lust for his daughter to such a degree that he finally hunted her down and slaughtered her far more viciously than the slaughtering of a lamb); a martyrdom that conveys through the centuries a profoundly shocking message regarding child abuse. The element underlying her story that has left a deep impression in people more than any other is precisely the shocking manner of her death and the natural perpetrator of her murder.


Location marking where the martyr was slaughtered and the water turns blood-red annually on her feast-day.

Shrine on the coast - facing the martyr's place of martyrdom

The Monastery of Saint Markella on Chios Island, Greece

The same is true for the feast day of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara (December 4th), where the predominant element of her life that has impressed people is the fact that her own father betrayed her to the Romans as a Christian, allowing her to be subjected to gruesome torture and finally, upon his personal insistence, to be decapitated by his own hand (only to be struck and killed by a bolt of lightning a few days later).  This detail is the reason Saint Barbara has been established in Greece as the patron saint of the Military Division of Heavy Artillery.

Saint Barbara being decapitated by her father

Two other (but less well-known) saints who were murdered by their father are the Great Martyr Christina, horrifically tortured for being a Christian (commemorated July 24th)


Saint Christina

and Saint Philothea of Arges, Romania, (commemorated December 7th). Orphaned on the mother’s side and with an abusive stepmother, the saint was mortally wounded by her father (possibly not intending to kill her) because she was giving away to the poor most of the food her stepmother would give her to take to her father working in the fields. She was only 12 years old!


Saint Philothea of Arges, Romania

We might also mention two married Christian women who were victims of domestic violence and are also honoured by the Church as martyrs: they are the Saints both named Thomais: Saint Thomais of Lesvos Islqnd, Greece (commemorated January 3rd) who was beaten to death by her husband, and Saint Thomais of Alexandria, Egypt (commemorated April 14th), who was murdered by her father-in-law for resisting his sexual desires!


Saint Thomais of Lesvos Island Greece          Saint Thomais of Alexandria Egypt

The conclusion one reaches from all the above instances is that domestic violence and child abuse was brought to light by Christians and openly denounced through the Christian Synaxarions (Books of Saints’ biographies) mentioning women victims of such violence who are commemorated annually by the Church as saints and martyrs.

It must be emphasized that a person is deified (recognized by the Church as a saint), through evidence of their unyielding faith and love for Christ. They have also been recognized as saints for steadfastly defending their moral Christian principles to their dying breath - and not merely because they happened to have fallen victims to a certain kind of criminal behaviour. The same applies to all the martyrs who had preferred torture and death rather than betray their faith and their moral principles. Most of them would have attained sainthood anyway, for having lived holy lives; although a holy life was also understood as an occasion for them to be tested unto death, even sacrificing their very lives and - according to Orthodox Christianity – anticipating they have earned Eternity.