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Khanya (Orthodox Christian blog from South Africa)

An old friend, Danie Steyn, died earlier this week, after a long and painful illness.

Danie Steyn in October 1998

We first got to know Danie when he started coming to our church, the Orthodox Church of St Nicholas of Japan, in the early 1990s. At that time we ran a bookstall at the church for a mission society, the Society of St Nicholas of Japan, which had actually started the parish as a mission parish. The bookstall was open on Sunday mornings after the Divine Liturgy, and Danie became one of its most regular customers.
Not only so, he also brought a lot of friends along, and urged them to buy Orthodox books from the bookstall. Many of those he brought were young Afrikaners from Potchefstroom University (now the University of the North-West). Danie became an evangelist for Orthodoxy, often with surprising results.
One of the people he brought to St Nicholas Church was Andrei Kashinski, a young Russian immigrant to South Africa. It was the time when the Soviet Union was disintegrating and Andrei, a member of Komsomol, the Communist Party youth organisation, was a factory manager. His wife left him, however, and like many other Russians at the time he got baptised, not knowing quite what he was doing. Because of his broken marriage he wanted to go far away, as far from Russia as possible. He looked at a map, and South Africa seemed to be far away. So he came to South Africa.

Andrei Kachinski

One day Andrei was sitting in a bar in Aliwal North, and mentioned that he had been baptised in the Orthodox Church. One of the people there said ” I know someone from your church,” and drove Danie to the other end of the Free State, to introduce him to Danie Steyn, who was then living in Parys. Danie brought Andrei to St Nicholas Church in Brixton, where Andrei discovered what he had let himself in for when he was baptised.
After 18 months Andrei returned to Russia, and helped with the restoration of the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. Now he is a priest in a village parish near Moscow, which he has been rebuilding after it was destroyed in the the Bolshevik era. Danie was able to visit him there, and was impressed with his simple lifestyle, and with his ministry in a small rural parish.
So Danie influenced the lives of many people. One day, quite soon after I had first met him, a former colleague of mine from the Missiology Department at Unisa, who had moved to the University of Pretoria, brought some theological students to St Nicholas Church in Brixton for the Divine Liturgy. At that time there were two faculties of Theology at the University of Pretoria, one for the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK) , and the other for the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk (NHK). Danie had studied theology with the latter, which was more theologically liberal, but more politically conservative than the NGK. So Danie spoke to the visiting students after the Liturgy, saying that Reformed Theology, especially that of the NHK, tended to be cold and intellectual and academic, and the experience of God in Orthodoxy was like dropping from head knowledge to heart knowledge.

Benjamin Elisa (Gustav) Prinsloo’s funeral at St Nicholas, Brixton, Danie Steyn made the cross.

One of those who came to Orthodoxy through Danie’s witness was Gustav Prinsloo, who was baptised on Holy Saturday 1997, which we think was the first Orthodox baptism in South Africa done in Afrikaans. Nine months later Gustav was in a car accident which claimed his life, and his funeral was held at St Nicholas Church in Brixton, and after the service most of the congregation drove in procession to Petrus Steyn, about 200 km away, where the burial took place.
Danie had organised the funeral, and leading the funeral service was virtually the first pastoral task of the new priest, Fr Bertrand Olechnowicz, who had been in the parish for less than a week. The funeral made quite an impression on many of Gustav and Danie’s friends who attended, and the following Easter 11 people were baptised, most of whom had been present at the funeral.

Fr Iakovos Olechnowicz at the funeral of 
Gustav Prinsloo in Petrus Steyn, January 1998. 
Danie Steyn in red shirt.

Twenty-one years later we gathered at the same place to bury Danie next to his friend Gustav and his stepfather Stowell Kessler, and now there are three Orthodox graves in the cemetery at Petrus Steyn.

Burial of Danie Steyn, next to his friend 
Benjamin Elisa (Gustav) Prinsloo, 27 Jun 2019.

I didn’t know Danie when he first became Orthodox, but I got the impression from talking to him in the early 1990s that he had an idea of an Afrikaner national Orthodox Church. I was reminded of a similar idea that had been held by George Alexander McGuire in the USA. McGuire was an Antiquan who went to the USA and became an Episcopalian (Anglican) priest, but wanted a black independent church. Being aware that the Orthodox Church had Russian, Greek, Bulgarian and similar national churches, he approached the Russian bishop in New York, but the bishop explained to him that it was not quite what he thought. There was no principle in Orthodoxy for establishing ethnically exclusive churches (this notion had been condemned some years earlier as “phyletism”). The Russian, Greek, Bulgarian etc Orthodox Churches were all in communion with each other and were not, as a matter of theological principle, ethnically exclusive. The Russian Revolution made it difficult to continue that conversation, and McGuire formed the African Orthodox Church, of which he became Primate, but since then several branches of the African Orthodox Church have joined the Orthodox Church, especially in East Africa.
About ten years after I first met him, Danie attended a training course for church leaders held at the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in Johannesburg, with people from many different ethnic backgrouds, English, Afrikaans, Greek, Ndebele, Romanian, Pedi, Zulu and more. As much as ever, Danie saw his ministry as evangelising Afrikaners who had become disillusioned and dropped out of the Calvinist Afrikaans-speaking churches, but saw it as bringing people into an inclusive Orthodox fellowship in which people of all ethnicities would be welcome, though each could worship in their own language.
In spite of what the Russian bishop had told George Alexander McGuire, though there was no theological basis for ethnic exclusivity, there is still sometimes in Orthodox Churches an attitude of ethnic exclusivity based on prejudice, which Danie himself had experienced when reading the Book of Acts in preparation for the Easter Vigil. He was reading in Afrikaans, and was treated very rudely by a member of that particular parish, as a result of which he, and most of the Afrikaans and Slavic members of that parish left and joined the new Russian parish which was being started in Midrand.
We will miss Danie. May his memory be eternal.

See also

The Orthodox Church in the Republic of South Africa  
Orthodox South Africa (tag)  

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Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou
Orthodox Missionary Fraternity

In Zomba, the old capital of the state, there is a church that was built in honor of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril.
Recently we had another marvelous event there, which strengthened our faith and made us love, honor and revere more the saints of God, who are always by our side, and help us in a scandalous way, as a holy man said.
The Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril is situated in a conspicuous position, on the main road, opposite a large hospital.
Indigenous Fr. George, both priest and pastor, spends many hours in the church dedicating them to prayer, so many passers-by find him on duty there, diligently performing his ministry, when they seek support and help from Heaven for anything that troubles them.
That morning a taxi brought a sick Malawian woman -accompanied by her good-hearted husband- from her village, to the city hospital due to a health problem that she had. Let’s say how things happened, though.

Devout Fr. George with his family

Mrs. Nefi, is a Malawian woman around the age of 40, married and mother- of -four. She and her husband are educated. She works in the hospital while her husband is a head teacher in a local school.
The woman was in her village and she was feeling very sick. The pain was acute and was coming down to her stomach and to other parts of her body.
Her condition was getting worse and worse, so she decided to go to hospital. However, she had the feeling that she could hear a voice that was telling her: «If you want to be saved, go to the Greek Orthodox Church, not to hospital.» She said that to her husband, but although he would always listen to her, that time he said, «No, we will go to hospital”. They took a taxi to go straight to hospital.» While the taxi was passing outside the Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril though, the woman heard the same voice say the same words: «If you want to be saved, go inside this church and do not go to hospital.» Once this happened, the woman lost her senses and collapsed. She seemed to be nearing death. Her husband had no other choice but to tell the taxi driver to stop at the Church. Without wasting time, he carried his almost half dead wife inside.
They got into the Church and found the indigenous priest Fr. George. The husband explained to the priest what they had lived at home and outside the Church and begged the Orthodox priest to pray for his slowly dying wife.

The priest’s first reaction was to say that the woman was not Orthodox, therefore, he could not possibly pray for her. The husband continued to beg him to pray in the name of the Orthodox Church. Then the priest, out of brotherly love for every human being that is suffering, yielded to his entreaties and said he would pray but he would not be wearing a stole, neither would he touch the woman with it since she was not Orthodox, and so he did.
The priest prayed wholeheartedly for long, and suddenly, the woman who was almost dead, stood up completely healed.
Their gratitude was indescribable! They left the Church praising and glorifying God, but on Sunday morning, they were both in the Church again. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, they confessed to everyone present there the miracle they had experienced and said: “From now on, we belong to the Orthodox Church, and when the priest decides to baptize us after our catechesis, we will be ready. We firmly believe that here is the only true Faith, and that the Triune God has called us personally to it, which makes us be eternally grateful to Him.”

When Fr. George told us all this, we marveled at the infinite love of God, Who works miraculously on His humble creatures and Who thus draws them close to Him and helps them become acquainted with His One, Holy, Apostolic Church.
We also marvel at the attentiveness of the native priest and his respect for the rules of our Church, which say that we must not pray with people of other faiths or other denominations, neither must we administer the Holy Sacraments or put the stole over people who have not entered the baptismal font of the Orthodox Church. Even if our brotherly love is big, we still do not betray our Faith, and as Fr. George has proven with his stance, especially in the hard and confusing times we live in, we are impressed by his zeal and enthusiasm to keep the Tradition of the Holy Fathers of our Church to the letter.
In our humble opinion, the attitude of the native priest, whose encounter with Orthodoxy took place just 8 years ago, is particularly noteworthy; and yet, he is humble in his work and sets a very good example to us who were born in Orthodoxy and who sometimes feel “over confident” about violating the rules established by the Holy Fathers, the Holy Tradition and the 7 Ecumenical Synods.

(Orthodox Mariagge

Equally remarkable is the virtue of the priest’s humility, which makes him attribute everything to the Triune God. He confesses everything to his spiritual father, and is thus covered by temptations on both the right and the left hand.
Among others, he narrated the following incident. An acquaintance of his, an orthodox parishioner, lost his cell phone and was deeply sad. Then he went to the priest and begged him to pray for his cell phone to be found. Indeed, Fr. George fell on his knees and prayed for this little matter, since love in God does not differentiate between small and big matters. God instructed us to always love and help our neighbor. What happened next made us marvel at God’s prompt responsiveness. A man very hurriedly went past the house from which the cell phone had been lost, and with quick moves he pulled the missing phone out of his pocket, threw it onto the porch and vanished. Someone forced him to do that. Prayers have a lot of power and can even defeat passions, make thieves return the things they stole, but the most amazing thing they can do is to make people believe in the Holy Orthodox faith. Such experiences are quite common here.
Dear brothers and sisters, our Orthodox Faith is alive, true and unique! Let us hold it as a treasure to be cherished, as a valuable gift from Heaven, and be steadfast in it.

Our Saints are scandalously generous with their assistance
The narration below is from the time prior to the ordination of Fr. George to Ρriest.
We are re-publishing it, from here (ORTHODOX MISSION ASSOCIATION "ST. KOSMAS THE AITOLIAN"). Translation from Greek A.N.

A wondrous event took place at the Parish of Saints Athanasios and Kyrillos in Zomba, the old capital of the State. In that Parish served an outstanding catechist named George, married with three children. George was sent by our Mission for theological studies to the Orthodox Ecclesiastic School of Kenya, and he returned full of knowledge on Orthodoxy, and a zeal to offer from the excess of his heart to his compatriots who thirsted to acquaint themselves to the truth.
George lives next to the Church, spending his day offering his services there. He had asked us to buy him a bicycle, so that he could go to nearby regions to painstakingly and sacrificially teach at the villages. In that way, the people who had shown interest - both in the city and in the surrounding villages - came to learn about Orthodoxy.

The first missionary steps took place in that region by George, and it was not long before he was ordained a Priest by the Grace of God, so that he could also minister to God's people from the Holy Altar. [Note: He has now been ordained, and serves in that Parish].  George's zeal in the matter of catechisms is immense, but equally immense is his love for the Services and the Prayers. He would often tell us that the prayers of the Orthodox would bring people to the Church, which is why we catechists and Priests must be very zealous during the Holy Services, so that the Holy Spirit can "draw" more faithful to the harbor of Salvation.
George therefore used to pray in the Church mornings and afternoons, serving Matins and Vespers and Evening Prayers, and at night fulfil his personal rule in a room of his house, which was next to the Church. Every night, between 12 and 2 after midnight he would wake up and fulfil his personal rule, with psalms, prostrations, prayer-rope etc..  It should be mentioned here that neither the Church nor his house had electricity.

A few days ago, a neighbour approached him, who had no knowledge of Orthodoxy nor was familiar with our Church until then.  He came up to George and with confidence and joy said: "Both myself and my family want to be baptized in this Church, because the Truth is here, and you have the true Faith."
Quite surprised, George asked him "How come, so suddenly?"  To which the man replied with the following :

"I am your neighbour and my job is to go on night patrols and check the watchmen that work in our company, to see if they are at their posts.  Every night, I begin work at 12 midnight, and I actually hear you praying just before I leave for work.   A company car with a driver comes and picks me up and drives me to the company.

"The other day around that time when you were praying, both the driver and myself noticed that the entire Church as well as your house were flooded in light!  It made a huge impression on us, so we stopped the car to take a better look, since we knew that those two buildings don't have electricity.  That light was so brilliant, so beautiful and natural!  The next evening the same sight was repeated, at exactly the same hour.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me before.  I want to become Orthodox, along with my family."

This miraculous event reminded us that several years ago, when that Church was still under construction, a certain "strange, crazy native" appeared among the unsuspecting workers; he went and stood in the center of the Church and began to shout out loud and announce to everyone that "this is where the Truth is - this is where Salvation is!"  He had also "announced" certain other, unfamiliar details that were to take place, such as: "Your Bishop will be coming tomorrow, but he won't visit you here this time", and other, similar "announcements".

With wondrous events like these, my brethren, but also with other, similar ones, the great Saints and Fathers of our Church reveal to us that they are by our side and they help us during the various problems that we encounter in this land.

Our Saints are scandalously generous with their assistance; that is, they hasten to solve our problems, they shelter us, they protect us, they are constantly by our side and they mediate to the Triune God for us, while simultaneously respecting our free will. That is why the only thing we need to do is to pray to them and ask for their mediations. We should entrust our children, our family, our homeland, our missions to them, in order to achieve escape from various impasses.  Wondrous events such as the aforementioned one will always come before us, to show us that through prayers, humilitation and our proper worship of God, we can attain whatever we need. 

With love in Christ
Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou

See more
 Malawi(in our blog)
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This is from the Introduction of forthcoming book:
“Holiness in the Hardship: Saints of Strength for Common Folks”
Orthodox Christianity
St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission
Some years back, there was a point in my life when I didn’t give a second thought to the Saints. I really didn’t see how they had any place within my faith. In Bible College and in Protestant seminary, I was fed the idea that saints were either a type of good luck charm to sell my house, a statue in your yard to attract birds, or they were individuals likened to magicians whose bones were exploited in medieval times. Fortunately, I had a life-changing experience that dispelled my incorrect notions about Saints and changed my whole paradigm in the way I view these holy servants. I now can’t imagine myself living my life without their guidance and assistance.

There was a time in my life where I was a director of a large Protestant homeless shelter in a major Northeastern city. In that director role, I was responsible for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of thirty-men that were recently released from prison or who had been homeless on the streets. One thing I noticed as I ministered to these men is that I kept hearing a similar story about the churches that they attended. They would go to churches where their charismatic preachers would tell them something like: “If you tithe to our church, God will bless you abundantly.” This is a common theological mark of the health and wealth/prosperity-movement within some Protestant circles. Many of these formerly homeless men would offer all the money they had to that pastor in order to receive the promised blessings. Sadly, those blessings of wealth, health, and all their desires never came to fruition for those men. Instead, the men’s lives would continue to cycle through immense poverty and hardship. 

I found myself wanting to prove to these spiritually manipulated men within our program that not all churches operated with this prosperity-gospel technique. I came up with the idea to take “fieldtrips” to local churches so that they could meet different church leaders and see different types of church traditions that differed from those over-promising pastors. On these church fieldtrips, the group of gentleman was able to see one of the first AME churches, Reformed churches, main-line churches, and hipster churches. The group of men asked plenty of inquiring questions and got to take wonderful church tours.

One of the last churches in the area that we visited was a large, Greek Orthodox Church. Up to that point, I myself had almost no familiarity with Orthodoxy and so as we ventured to this odd-looking church with Greek inscriptions on the outside of its church building, I had no idea what to expect.

The Orthodox Priest, dressed in his cassock, graciously welcomed our group at the door. As we entered into the narthex of the church, we were welcomed into the space by a beautiful picture resting on an ornate stand. Emblazoned in gold and jewels, the icon depicted a female saint. One of the men in our group blurted out at the sight of the icon, “why do you have graven images?” He clearly was leaning on his understanding of the Old Testament and saw this icon as a type of graven image and an offence to God.

Hearing this question, in a patient and kind way, the priest explained that on this particular day, the Orthodox Churches celebrates the Saint Agatha. The Priest then began to describe to our group Saint Agatha’s life. He stated that Saint Agatha lived in Italy in the third century and that she was a follower of Christ. Agatha was a beautiful young woman, whom many men wanted to marry. But Agatha, as a follower of Christ, wanted to retain her holiness and to live set apart for the sake of her Savior and chose to not marry. A wealthy pagan by the name of Quintianus, captivated by Agatha’s beauty, asked for her hand in marriage. Agatha denied Quintianus’ advancements and declared to him that she wanted to remain a virgin for the entirety of her life. Quintianus, enraged by Agatha’s rebuke, first proceeded to parade Agatha into the town center and with the townspeople watching, Quintianus had his servants cut-off Agatha’s breasts. Quintianus, again asked a final time for Agatha’s hand in marriage, as if the previous inhumane mutilation could compel someone toward marriage, and again Agatha rebuked him and pledged herself to Christ and to holiness. Again, fueled by rage, Quintianus as a last final act to exploit Agatha’s desire for purity, had her stripped bare in front of all of the town’s onlookers and then had her dragged to her death tied behind a horse-drawn carriage.

As the Priest told us this dramatic story, I noticed out of the side of my eye, one of the gentlemen in the group was acting a bit strange. He was sort of pacing around, clenching his fists, and mumbling under his breath. He looked as if he was teetering the line between anger and crying. I hadn’t really known this particular man, who we will call “Shawn,” as he was new to the group and to our program. Shawn was visually intimidating as he stood 6 foot 3 inches, had intense eyes, and tattoos all over his face. He looked similar to the giant man on the movie The Green Mile, but scarier.

My mind was racing as I began noticing this gigantic man become more and more frustrated. Bad scenarios played out in my head: Was he going to knockout this kind, old priest? Was he going to breakdown in tears? Heaven forbid—would he try to damage the icon of Saint Agatha? I decided, hesitantly, to go over and speak with Shawn to attempt to calm him down. Having not yet established trust with Shawn, I tried my best to be sympathetic to the large, pacing man.

I said to him, “Shawn, what’s going on man? I can tell you’re frustrated…is there anything I can do for you right now?”

Still pacing, clinching his fist and with tears in his eyes, he angrily said to me, “Why would they do this?”

“I don’t know Shawn, pictures aren’t a part of my tradition,” I answered him assuming he was talking about the icon.

He shrugged off my answer, “No, why would they make her a saint?”

Again, winging it: “I don’t know Shawn, I don’t fully understand the saint thing.”

He replied, crying at this point, “Why would they make her an example?”

“I don’t know, Shawn” is all that I could come up with. Shawn didn’t punch the priest or turnover the icon.

I met with Shawn the following day to debrief the situation, as I wanted to figure out what had happened the previous day. Shawn broke down that day in my office. He explained to me how his mom had been raped as a teenager and that her pregnancy with Shawn was the result of that rape. He described to me in graphic detail how almost everyday his mother reminded him that he was the result of rape and she routinely punished him for it. Shawn then described how as a result of all the pain he felt in his life, and all the mistreatment he had received, he too proceeded to hurt others throughout his life.

He then explained to me that in hearing Saint Agatha’s story it was unimaginable how someone like that, someone abused so harshly, could be an example for the Christian faith. It was even more puzzling to Shawn that someone like Agatha could be considered a saint. He was awestruck at how God and a Church could look at someone so damaged, so broken, and declare that someone like Agatha is holy.

Shawn saw himself in Saint Agatha’s life. He saw in her life a guide for his own. He saw in her hope for his own torture. He had found a Savior who did not deem him cursed or too broken for salvation. He had found a Church that gave him the opportunity, even with all of his shame and brokenness, to become something beyond his shortcomings. He began the process of recognizing that within Christ there was hope for him to become holy and to even to become an example of the faith for others. There was a place and purpose within his life and that all of the pain he experienced could be a part of his turning toward holiness. Shawn joined that Orthodox Church. Seeing a 6’3’’ African-American man with face-tattoos standing amongst Greek yia-yias at a Greek-festival laughing together and sharing jokes was like catching a small glimpse of heaven.

Saint Agatha is recognized as a Saint within the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican traditions. She is just one of thousands of shining beacons of holiness in the church’s history of raising up holy and set apart disciples of Christ. Saints aren’t vessels to help us find lost items as I had previously thought. Saints exist to be vessels for us as tangible witnesses that the places of loss within our own hearts do not define who we truly are. Rather, the fact that Christ sees all of us as bearing the image of God is the foundation for us to continue to pursue Christ and the holiness that stems from being within his fold.

Saint Augustine once wrote, “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” For people like Shawn, and myself, the saints show us by their examples that we are destined for greatness as even the most shameful moments we experience in our life are merely part of the journey of transformation within the theosis process as we are becoming holy like God is holy. Saints are alive in Christ, but they lived as holy humans when they were on earth. Because of their holiness, saints like Agatha fully understand the challenges and triumphs that we experience in our lives and because they know our hearts, we can look to them as guides and beacons for our own lives, and we can graciously ask for their prayers as they worship Christ in paradise.

Saint Agatha and all the Saints pray to God for us!
Please, see also

International Women's Day : Women in the Orthodox Church...
The Worst Place to Be a Woman!...

African Women (tag)
Orthodox Women Saints
Womens' Orthodox Blogs
Male and Female Created He Them... 
The Holy Martyr Thomais from Alexandria
St. Kyranna the New Martyr of Thessaloniki, Greece 
A family of slaves opposes an Empire: the Holy Martyrs Zoe & Hesperus, and their children sts Cyriacus & Theodulus

Father Turbo Qualls (photo from here)
How “White” is the Orthodox Church? 

Full Impact Faith: An Interview with Fr. Turbo Qualls
Father Turbo Qualls in South Carolina Facilitates Discussion on Race
Grace and “the Inverted Pyramid” 
The realities of slavery, hopes and dreams for the African-American community for a Black Orthodox Priest in America   
St. Simon of Cyrene & Black History Month (February 27th: St. Simon’s Day)  

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Священник Моисей Берри

Ирен Аркос
Перевел с английского Василий Томачинский
15 июня 2018 г.
In English: Father Moses Berry: From Hippie Bad-Boy Cool-Cat to Orthodox Priest

Вы бы не заподозрили, что жизнерадостный православный священник, с таким благоговением выносящий на амвон храма в честь иконы Пресвятой Богородицы «Нечаянная Радость» золотой потир, когда-то приторговывал наркотиками, был бродячим хиппи, содержал кофейню с собственной андеграундной музыкальной группой, да к тому же он – потомок Натаниеля Буна, сына легендарного американского героя Даниэля Буна. Отец Моисей Берри в свои 60 с лишним – все еще активный и энергичный человек, с бьющим через край спонтанным задором. Он перескакивает с одной истории на другую, когда идет по основанному им в его родном городе Эш Гров Озаркскому музею афроамериканского наследия. Это человек, распутавший клубок из хитросплетенных историй.
Жизнь отца Моисея корнями уходит глубоко в темную историю американского рабовладения. В музее три комнаты. Все здесь наполнено фамильными предметами, вещами, артефактами, принадлежавшими его семье. Два поблекших черно-белых снимка в овальных рамках – его прабабушка, Мария Бун, возлюбленная Натаниеля, со своей дочерью, Кэролин Бун Берри, его бабушкой. На них тяжелые платья со шнуровкой, в том же стиле – капоты, бывшие в моде в XIX веке. Моисей говорит, что ребенок любовницы-рабыни «рожден между ночью и днем, вырос в стране теней, не от мира сего». Существование подобных детей не признавалось обществом, и такое отсутствие их в американском сознании стало знаковым в их жизни.
Интимные факты жизни семьи создают беспристрастную страницу истории
Коллаж черно-белых фотографий, пожелтевших исторических документов, инструментов, предметов обихода вдоль стен личного музея отца Моисея становятся иллюстрацией того, как личные, почти интимные факты жизни семьи создают беспристрастную страницу истории. Он указывает на выцветшее фото молодой чернокожей девушки в белом платье: «Это Фанни Мюррей в 1866-м, в возрасте 13 лет. Она спасла жизнь молодого человека, в то время как занималась стиркой за 10 центов в неделю. Вот почему даже незначительные, на первый взгляд, поступки могут оказаться важными. Простое проявление любви и доброты, по-видимому, незначительный жест может иметь невообразимые последствия». Молодой человек столкнулся с серьезными трудностями, его семья отказалась от него, но благодаря Фанни он пережил этот кризис и впоследствии стал профессором истории.
Ниже – другое фото, на этот раз в цвете, пожилой женщины в розовом платье и широкополой цветастой шляпе. «Это мисс Оливия Мюррей, дочь Фанни, она умерла в возрасте 93 лет в 1991-м году. Она ходила по улице в длинном платье и капоте даже в 1960-е годы. Она была эдакой Тетей Джемаммой и несколько раздражала местную молодежь. “Посмотрите на нее!” – говорили они, тыкали пальцем, разглядывали, но я всегда убеждал их: нельзя отвергать людей из-за их внешности. Мы не знаем, что это за человек, что за душа».
После такого личного экскурса в историю своей семьи отец Моисей переходит к своей жизни.
Более 40 лет назад 15-летний чернокожий подросток Карл покинул родной дом, когда услышал, что в Калифорнии молодежь «стреляет цветами, а не пулями». «Как только я услышал о Калифорнии, – вспоминает он, - о ‟детях цветов” и как люди живут там в любви, я понял, что должен ехать туда». И он уехал автостопом на запад из родного городка Эш Гров в Миссури. В Калифорнии жил в коммуне, узнал, как делают гашиш и красят футболки. Вернувшись в Миссури, он поселился в Колумбии и занялся торговлей кожаными вещами марки Латиго из Лондона, держал небольшой магазин на углу 8-й улицы и Бродвея. По ночам Карл играл джаз-рок со своей группой «Honey Chile», одна их песня даже стала популярна среди местной молодежи. Также он участвовал в жизни коммуны Стоуни Брук, собиравшейся среди гранитных холмов в окрестностях города. Далее он открыл подпольный кофейный магазин под вывеской компании «Радужный хлеб». С виду это был кофейный магазин, обычный для того времени, в реальности большая часть выручки шла от продажи гашиша и марихуаны. Так бы и продолжался этот весьма прибыльный бизнес, если бы им не заинтересовалась колумбийская полиция. Они не стали получать ордер на обыск, а устроили рейд. После того как полиция вломилась в их лавочку, весь магазин был разгромлен, а Карл и его партнеры арестованы и заключены под стражу.
«Я опустился на колени и стал молиться впервые в жизни»
Безо всяких обвинений Карл был помещен в одиночку. «Это была комната буквально полтора метра на метр и 2 метра высотой. Без окон. В двери была щель, через которую бросали кусок черствого хлеба». Карл не мог сказать, как долго он был заключен в этом каземате. Он боялся худшего. По закону его заключение могло растянуться на 15 лет тюрьмы. «Я достиг дна. Это был конец». Вспоминая, отец Берри разрушает всю мрачную картину своим сочным, гортанным смехом, идущим будто из глубины души: «Я помню день накануне оглашения приговора. Я опустился на колени в темной, узкой ячейке и стал молиться впервые в жизни. Я молился и взывал к Богу, как никогда раньше. Я сказал: “Господи, выведи меня отсюда, и если так будет, я обещаю служить Тебе”».
На следующее утро Карл услышал, как ключ поворачивается в замке его двери. Он знал, что охранники периодически избивают заключенных и потом возвращают их обратно в камеру. Напуганный сценами жестоких избиений, свидетелем которых он был до того, как подвергся одиночному заключению, он не хотел выходить наружу. Охрана была вынуждена вытащить его вон с криками: «Тебя освободили, уходи!»
«Он раскаялся, – задумчиво говорит священник. – Полицейский, выдвигавший обвинения против меня, раскаялся. Он пришел в полицейский участок около полуночи и снял все обвинения. Он появился именно в то время, когда я молился». С этого дня жизнь Карла Берри совершенно изменилась. Его душа откликнулась на Божественный призыв.
Прошло несколько лет, прежде чем Карл пришел к Православию. После своего освобождения он поехал в Нью-Йорк, где стал учителем в Гарлеме. Там он встретил свою будущую жену, еврейскую учительницу либеральных взглядов. «Я помню, как мы шли по улицам Гарлема, держась за руки, и пели песни Битлз. Люди, должно быть, думали, что мы сумасшедшие», – вспоминает отец Моисей. Потом они жили в Атланте, штат Джорджия, и как-то спонтанно приняли приглашение друга приехать в гости в Ричмонд (Вирджиния). После восьмичасового пути они прибыли, было 6 вечера, и друг, пригласивший их (он был православным христианином), сказал: «Я только что узнал об одной церкви, находящейся в двух часах езды отсюда».
Тут была красота, и мир, и любовь
Преодолев сомнения и усталость, они все же поехали и нашли храм. Он располагался на втором этаже чьего-то дома в колониальном стиле. «Это была не отдельная церковь; мы попали в чью-то гостиную», – говорит отец Моисей. Они вошли. За службой пел простенький любительский хор из трех-четырех женщин, Карл никогда еще не слышал такого богослужения. «Я услышал: “Радуйся, Бане, омывающая совесть. Радуйся, Чаше, черплющая радость. Радуйся, Обоняние Христова благоухания. Радуйся, Животе тайного веселия!” – вот это была поэзия. Тут была красота, и мир, и любовь. Было благоухание. Было благоговение. Нигде я не слышал такой службы. Я увидел иконы Моисея Мурина, Киприана Карфагенского, святых китайских мучеников, Петра Алеута. И после этого я стал православным».
С этого момента Карл Берри приложил все усилия, чтобы жить так, как он обещал Богу. Он стал работать со сложными подростками, заключенными, наркоманами. Одним из его успешных проектов стала программа реабилитации из семи ступеней в Детройте, основанная на православном учении о спасении.
Два последние его дела – открытие храма и основание музея в Эш Гроув. Отец Моисей и его семья вернулись к своим корням. Они переехали из комфортабельного трехэтажного дома викторианской эпохи в пригороде Сент-Луиса в 150-летний неприметный фермерский дом, похожий на тот, в котором родилась его прапрабабушка. «Большинство чернокожих покинули Эш Гроув. Моя семья осталась. Когда люди слышали, что я собираюсь открыть музей, они говорили: будь осторожен, белые не любят подобное. Тем не менее музей стал местной достопримечательностью».
«Добрый поступок уходит с вами в вечность и, возможно, спасет вашу душу!»
Отец Моисей заканчивает еще одной историей, подчеркивающей важность взаимоотношений: они единственное, что может превозмочь безличность истории, существование рас, классовое неравенство. Недалеко от дома Бунов и Берри расположено семейное кладбище. Серые камни отмечают могилы, где покоятся рабы, не достигшие станции назначения на Подземной железной дороге[1]. Один из «кондукторов»-помощников Гарриет Табмэн похоронен здесь. Также здесь находятся могилы Марии Бун и Кэролин Бун-Берри. «Это было около трех месяцев спустя после того, как мы переехали в этот дом и не навели еще порядок. Я приехал из церкви и вдруг увидел красный “Корвет” с калифорнийскими номерами, припаркованный у ворот, перекрывший въезд на кладбище. Я увидел трех блондинов, одетых в черное. Я спросил их: “Что вы здесь делаете?” – “Извините, – ответили они очень вежливо. – Мы не знали, что здесь кто-то живет”. – Я ответил им несколько сердито: “Вот, я здесь живу, и вы сейчас на моем участке. Что вы здесь делаете?” – Оказалось, их воспитывала чернокожая няня, которая похоронена здесь. – “Мамочка воспитывала нас с семи лет, когда умерла наша собственная мать”, – сказали они. Оказалось, что ребята приезжали на ее могилу каждый год в день ее смерти, чтобы возложить цветы». Отец Моисей заканчивает эту историю почти как проповедь: «Простой добрый поступок уходит с вами в вечность и, возможно, спасет вашу душу!»
«Православие – это истина. Это единственный путь спасения, – говорит отец Моисей, – и когда вы поймете, что это такое, то не будете пытаться скрыться от истины. Для православных очень важно сохранять надежду».
«Нет другой надежды, как на нашего Господа Бога и Спасителя Иисуса Христа, – говорит он с улыбкой. – Я – живой пример неоскудевающей любви Божией к свои детям, даже тем, кто ушел в страну далече: пример безнадежности, обратившейся в надежду. Мы никогда не должны терять надежду».

[1] Подземная железная дорога (англ. The Underground Railroad) — обозначение тайной системы, применявшейся в США для организации побегов и переброски негров-рабов из рабовладельческих штатов Юга на Север. Действовала вплоть до начала Гражданской войны в США в 1861-м году. Различные маршруты, которыми пробирались группы беглецов, начинались от границ штатов Теннесси, Кентукки, Вирджинии, Джорджии, Мэриленда и вели в Северные штаты, а также в Канаду. «Подземная железная дорога» имела свою организацию: на ней были свои «кондукторы» (старшие-сопровождающие в группах), «станции» (жильё, предоставляемое сочувствующими для беглых в пути для отдыха и укрытия). Наибольшее участие в организации «Подпольной железной дороги» приняли активисты аболиционистского движения, свободные негры и мулаты, квакеры и баптисты. За период с 1830 по 1861 годы по этому пути удалось переправить на Север и дать свободу более чем 60 тысячам рабов. Наиболее отличились Леви Коффин, Томас Гарретт, оказавший помощь более чем 2 200 бежавшим рабам, и негритянка Гарриет Табмен, совершившая 19 «путешествий по дороге» и освободившая примерно 300 рабов.
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12 статей и видео о православной Виноградник Африки – Православная Церковь ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Russian
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Paroisse orthodoxe de la sainte Transfiguration
Numéro 44, juillet 2019

L’objet de la fête du dimanche des Pères du ou des conciles, est défini d’une façon un peu différente selon les livres liturgiques. Dans certains livres, en effet, ce dimanche est appelé « mémoire des saints Pères des six premiers conciles œcuméniques », un autre dimanche étant consacré au septième, celui qui a défini la légitimité et la nécessité de la vénération des saintes icônes. 
Dans d’autres livres liturgiques, ce dimanche est appelé simplement « mémoire des saints Pères du premier concile œcuménique », le concile de Nicée. C’est sans doute son appellation la plus ancienne. Cependant, certains textes de l’office font allusion à l’enseignement de la plupart des conciles œcuméniques de la sainte Église, parce que ces enseignements sont convergents. 
Les différents conciles se sont complétés, ont repris l’enseignement du précédent pour le préciser en fonction des erreurs et des problèmes nouveaux qui étaient apparus aux diverses époques.

Les conciles œcuméniques

Si l’Église nous invite ainsi à vénérer les Pères des saints conciles, c’est parce que la foi chrétienne, dont ils ont précisé les contours et la formulation, est le fondement de toute notre vie dans le Christ.
Dans notre vie chrétienne, tout repose en effet sur la foi. La foi, c’est d’abord une confiance et une adhésion sans partage envers la personne du Seigneur Jésus, envers la personne du Christ dont nous croyons qu’il est le Fils de Dieu, mort et ressuscité pour notre salut. C’est, par là-même, une adhésion à sa Parole, à ce qu’il nous a révélé au sujet de son Père, qui est aussi notre Père, dont nous sommes par le baptême les fils adoptifs. C’est aussi une adhésion à son enseignement sur l’Esprit saint qui, selon la parole même du Christ, doit nous introduire dans la vérité tout entière (voir Jean 16/13). C’est-à-dire que tout au long de l’histoire de l’Église, tout au long de notre vie personnelle, c’est le Saint-Esprit qui nous fait comprendre la parole de Dieu, c’est le Saint-Esprit qui illumine nos cœurs pour que nous comprenions, pour que nous entrions dans le mystère de ces vérités qui nous ont été annoncées, qui nous ont été proclamées par le Christ durant sa vie terrestre ; le Saint-Esprit nous fait comprendre aussi ce que l’on peut appeler le sens chrétien de l’Ancien Testament, et nous révèle comment toutes les écritures parlaient déjà du Christ.

Toute la vie chrétienne repose sur cette adhésion de notre cœur et de notre intelligence à ces vérités fondamentales. Les premiers conciles, ceux du quatrième siècle ont eu lieu dès que l’Église a pu réunir des évêques du monde entier, une fois la période des grandes persécutions terminée. Les deux premiers conciles ont eu lieu au début et dans la deuxième partie du quatrième siècle : le concile de Nicée en 325 et le premier concile de Constantinople en 381. Ils ont précisé le contenu notre foi dans la Sainte Trinité.
Ces deux premiers conciles ont en effet défini que, selon l’enseignement hérité des apôtres, Dieu est à la fois Un et Trine, qu’il est un en son essence et cependant en trois personnes. Trois personnes qui sont vraiment des personnes, qui ne sont pas simplement trois visages d’un Dieu unique, mais qui ont chacune leur consistance, leur personnalité, et qui cependant sont tellement unies, tellement transparentes les unes aux autres, unies dans une communion tellement profonde, que nous devons affirmer qu’à elles trois, elles sont, en toute rigueur d’expression, un seul Dieu.
Oui, le Père a engendré un Fils qui lui est semblable en essence, « consubstantiel », à qui Il communique tout ce qu’Il a et tout ce qu’Il est. Et il y a un Esprit saint qui procède de Lui, à qui Il communique aussi tout ce qu’il a et tout ce qu’il est, à qui est dû même honneur et même gloire qu’au Père et au Fils.
Les conciles du cinquième siècle, le concile d’Éphèse (431) et le concile de Chalcédoine (451) ont ensuite précisé que, selon l’enseignement des apôtres, il y a dans le Christ une seule personne et deux natures. C’est-à-dire que le Christ n’est pas une personne humaine en qui le Verbe de Dieu serait venu habiter. Il est vraiment Un, il est, en tant que personne, le Fils de Dieu lui-même, la seconde personne de la Trinité, mais il est à la fois Dieu et homme parce qu’Il a assumé notre nature humaine pour notre salut. Tout ce qu’il fait, tout ce qu’il a pu dire, vient de sa personne divine, cependant cette personne divine agit tantôt par sa nature humaine, tantôt par sa nature divine, sans que les deux ne soient jamais séparées.

Les conciles des cinquième (Constantinople 553) et sixième (Constantinople 680) siècles n’ont fait que préciser, en face de questions et d’erreurs nouvelles, cette doctrine du concile de Chalcédoine, cette doctrine de l’unité du Christ dans sa nature divine et sa nature humaine.
Quant au septième concile (Nicée 787) que j’évoquais tout à l’heure, c’est celui qui a affirmé la nécessité de la vénération des saintes icônes.
Toute notre vie chrétienne repose sur la foi en ces vérités fondamentales, parce que ni notre sensibilité ni notre intelligence ne peuvent y accéder par elle-même. Il n’est pas possible à l’homme de les découvrir par lui-même, quelle que soit sa sagesse, quelle que soit la profondeur de sa réflexion. Il fallait que Dieu intervienne dans l’histoire, que Dieu nous parle, d’abord par les prophètes et ensuite par son Fils, pour que du coup nous connaissions ces vérités, pour que nous sachions que Dieu est un Dieu unique en trois personnes, que le Fils de Dieu s’est incarné pour notre salut et nous a appelé à devenir nous-mêmes, unis à lui, des fils de Dieu par adoption, à être divinisés, à participer nous-mêmes à sa vie divine.
Cette destinée extraordinaire de l’homme, pour que nous la connaissions, il faut à la fois que nous croyions à la Parole de Dieu, et que nous accueillions la lumière intérieure qui nous vient du Saint-Esprit. Saint Silouane disait : « l’humilité est la lumière dans laquelle nous voyons la lumière » .
C’est-à-dire que dans la mesure où notre cœur est humble, où nous sommes dépouillés de tout attachement à notre jugement propre, à nos idées, nos opinions personnelles, nous sommes prêts à accueillir la parole de Dieu. C’est seulement à cette condition que la foi peut s’épanouir dans notre cœur.

D’après Père Placide Deseille, La couronne bénie de l’année chrétienne,
Volume 2, pages 220-224

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Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council (7th Sunday after Easter)
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Mother Katherine Weston (photo from our post 

Brotherhood of st Moses the Black

Race, Identity, and Reconciliation is for anyone who seeks to be part of the conversation on the shifting paradigms of our times. The chapters are expanded from talks presented at the 22nd and 23rd annual conferences of the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black.
Different regional views on human value, race, and faith are at the heart of an ongoing national struggle over the identity and direction of the U.S. What insights can the Orthodox Church contribute as an expression of Christianity that was not involved in African slave trade or economy?

Author: Nun Katherine Weston, MA, LMHC
Published: 2016
List price: $10.00. Available for purchase here.
Use code EC6XPD48 to save 15% as a friend of the Brotherhood.
Loneliness or Fruitful Longing

Loneliness or Fruitful Longing is for pastors, counselors, and people seeking hope for their own loneliness. It explores loneliness, its causes and its cures. It describes human vulnerability to loneliness from personal, social, and economic perspectives. It describes the impact of loneliness on physical and mental health, suicide, abortion. 
It looks social, economic, and personal strategies to combat loneliness. It visits the Orthodox Christian dialogue about loneliness in Serbia, Russia, and Greece. Finally the book proposes spiritual approaches to resolve loneliness. Loneliness or Fruitful Longing expands on a talk originally delivered at the 20th annual Ancient Christianity and Afro-American Conference, a ministry of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black. 
It is the first volume of the Transformative Wisdom Series, bringing the timeless wisdom of the Eastern Orthodox Church into dialogue with the cumulative wisdom of contemporary psychotherapies.

Author: Nun Katherine Weston, MA, LMHC
Published: 2014
List price: $6.75. Available for purchase here.
Use code GFWZMDVS to save 15% as a friend of the Brotherhood.

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