The heavens declare the glory of God…

 

August 2016                                                                κάνετε κλικ εδώ για το πρωτότυπο στα Ελληνικά

Pebbles

…and the skies proclaim the work of his hands

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge (Ps. 19, 2, 3).

The psalmist is referring to Creation’s beauty emphasizing the eloquence of the Creator’s works: even though they have not speech nor words “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 19, 4, 5).

Which is, then, their sound? Which is their voice?

Their sound and their voice is, simply, in their very existence! God’s glory is manifested in the beauty of the world, in the harmony and in the perfection with which all is made.

Man, intuitively, feels and recognizes God’s glory within the created world. He is humbly thankful that he is given the capacity to feel joy and to be moved by nature’s beauty and through it to seek his Creator.

However, because the human being is the “chief–work” of Creation and the summit of it, it follows that we must seek the summit of created beauty among the men and women. Where is it?

“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house; the king is enthralled by your beauty; honour him, for he is your Lord” (Ps. 45, 10, 11).

In these prophetic verses, the Church has, traditionally, seen the Virgin Mary, the All-Holy Mother of God.

The Most Holy Mother of God is the world’s purest, most beautiful, most humble, most obedient, most faithful and most full of the Holy Spirit created being.

She is the most fragrant blossom and the most perfect offering to God on behalf of humanity.

Mother of Christ, perfect God and perfect Man, she participates from the very first moment of her existence in God’s Mystery that saves by the renewal of the whole creation through the cross and the resurrection of His Son.

°

Heavenly Father,

All creation rightly praises you, for all life and all holiness come from you.  Madonna

In the plan of your wisdom, She, who bore the Christ in her womb,          was raised, body and soul, in  glory, to be with him in heaven. 

May we follow her example, reflecting your holiness and joining in her hymn of endless love and praise

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen

(From the liturgy of our Churc)h

 

 A historical flashback

The oldest known pictorial representation of the Bodily Assumption of the Mother of God is found on a sarcophagus of the 4th century A.D. in Zaragoza, Spain.

In the 6th c. in France, Gregory, bishop of Tours, preaches the Bodily Assumption, whereas the emperor Mavrikios, in 580 A.D., sets the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on 15th August,

Soon the feast is attested in Rome and much further to the west, as well as in Jerusalem in the East (8th c.).

Also, in the 8th c., Saint John of Damascus (Syria), as well as the bishop of Constantinople Germanus, strongly express their faith regarding the Bodily Assumption.

It is, indeed, a faith that becomes so widespread that by the 11th c. the theme of the Bodily Assumption is preoccupying the iconography, especially in the Orient.

In the 12 century, Pope Alexander expresses his sure faith in the Bodily Assumption of the Mother of God.

Already, at the 20th Ecumenical Council (Vatican I, 1869-1870), 204 bishops had requested the Bodily Assumption to be declared a certainty of faith of supernatural origin. With the coming of the 20th century a real “Assumptive” movement was formed.

Finally, on 1st November 1950, Pope Pius XII declares, as Peter’s successor, ”a divinely revealed dogma of faith, that the Immaculate Mother of God, when her earthly life came to an end, was assumed, body and soul, to the heavenly glory”.

(From the book  of f. Sot. Mavrophides, “The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament”, Athens 1989, §155 and 156, editor’s translation)

 

From the works of the 20th Ecumenical Synod 

Saint Peter's

Everyone, today, complains, because the authorities, whether worldly or spiritual, are not being respected. Every man of good will wishes that we take full and renewed responsibility for the defense of authority.

The world, though, is possessed by a generalized aversion towards any form of despotism, that has brought many ills to mankind.

Indeed, despotism corrupts and deforms man.

Declare, therefore, reverend fathers, declare to the whole world that the Church’s authority is the foundation of every other form of power.

Declare, though, at the same time, that power, under no circumstances, be arbitrary, overbearing or lawless….

Declare that in the Church there is but one and only Lord and absolute monarch, Jesus Christ, who redeemed Her through His venerable blood.

Only the one who takes into consideration these two truths goes ahead for the good of the Church and the authority of the Holy See.

……

The Roman pontiffs, according to the demands of the times, convoked ecumenical councils or evaluated the opinion of the Church all over the world through local assemblies and through other means the divine Providence offered them and they defined what must be accepted which, with God’s help, recognize to be in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition.

(From the book of Klaus Schatz, Der päpstichle Primat,  i..e. The primacy of the Pope,1990)

 

 Did you know…

Olympics

The first recorded Olympic Games seem to have taken place in the year 776 B.C.

They were organised every four years in ancient Olympia, in western Peloponnese, Greece.

Ancient Greeks dated their history based on the Olympiads (i.e. the Olympic Games).

When, in the 2nd century A.D., the Romans gave the Roman citizenship to all free men in the lands of their empire, athletes of non Greek origin could eventually participate in the Games.

In 393 A.D. the emperor Theodosius the Great banned the Olympic Games as being an idolatrous cult, especially because of the libations and religious sacrifices offered to Zeus during the beginning ceremonies.

Olympic Games

After a pause of fifteen hundred years the Olympic Games were revived in Athens (Greece), in 1896.  The French Baron de Coubertin played a decisive role in this.

The five circles symbolize the five Continents. The motto of the Olympic Games is Citius, Altius, Fortius, Latin for faster, higher, stronger.

 

 Rest and renewal

Family

The summer months are in a very special way a privileged time for personal and family rest and renewal.

The increased number of hours parents spend with their children and the- even brief- stay in the countryside or by the sea, in family or with friends and relatives, offer a unique opportunity to strengthen the bonds of the family members with each other.

There is more time available for shared activities and for dialogue. Walks on the mountains, swimming in the sea, ball games or other sports invigorate both the body and the spirit.

Physical exercise and rivalry, well-meant competitiveness and common aims may become, first and foremost, the kindling for a harmonious development of the personality of the children.

But, always and in everything, moderation and balance are necessary. The increased physical activity is wise to be accompanied by an increased care of our spiritual life.

So many times have we seen athletes, e.g. at football or at the Olympic Games, to reverentially bless themselves with the sign of the cross before they enter the stadium;  they actually recognize the primacy of the faith and the co-operation of divine grace in every human endeavour.

More free time means, also, an opportunity to read a good book, to approach the Church more and to renew and strengthen our Christian identity.

In this manner, fortified, we shall be in a position to eagerly confront with enthusiasm  our return to the routine of work and school, studies and home

 

From our Greek literature

Mole

Watercolour

At the mole that the summer heat exhausted, scorching vapours leap on the fiery sand and the small houses, stark and lime-washed, white brush-strokes form upon the sea.

The golden-green waters, transparent are immobile showing silver pebbles and snake-like twisted sea-weed and anchors rusting away and the purple shadows the ranged boats round them cast.

No life. A fisherman who  had been fishing at the mole, after he stretched out his arms and yawned leant on his side heavily upon the stones and slept and just a stray, black-haired dog, sitting on the big boat’s stern gazes sleepily at the dead beach.

 [Poem by Costas Ouranis, (1890-1953), editor’s translation).

The watercolours on the right, above and in the front page, are works by the Greek engraver and painter C. Grammatopoulos (1916-2003).

He is better known to the Greek public through his illustrations for the First Primary School class reading book (Alphabetarion), of 1955, which remained in use until 1974.

 

 A door, but which one?

Sports have the capacity to lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and of  others, as well as to direct our thirst for friendship and recognition.

It is a field within which we learn to explore the most significant questions of life, namely, Who am I? Which is my place in life?

Sports help because they offer a space where the participants must needs exert and excel themselves; they must open their minds and their hearts in order to do their best and achieve the better result.

Physical exertion, however, should be complemented by equal care for the spirit.

A healthy mind in a healthy body, used to say the Ancient Greeks.

With the same eagerness we display in going through the door of a gym, let us, also, go through the door of the Church.

The door of the Church is the door of Mercy

Οnce inside, we find out that each one of us is the beloved  child of the Heavenly Father; we occupy a special place in His heart and our life is particularly precious in His sight.

click here to read this post in the original Greek

 


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