28 August 2009

August 28, 2009
A Miracle in Washington D.C.

August 27, 2009
Washington D.C.: "Hawaiian" Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Mother of God visits St. John the Baptist Cathedral

By the Grace of God on August 22 & 23, 2009 the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was blessed by the presence of a new great Sacred Image – the “Hawaiian” Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Theotokos. This icon is a copy of the Montreal Iveron Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Mother of God which for 15 years was safeguarded by Brother Jose (Joseph) Munos-Cortes. Brother Jose suffered a martyric death in 1997 in Athens, Greece and his remains were found to be incorrupt during his burial 15 days later in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

The “Hawaiian” Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Theotokos is much smaller than the original Iveron icon. Made in Russia the Hawaiian icon is a 7” x 9” paper reproduction laminated on a board one inch thick. Fr. Anatole Levin, the rector of the ROCOR mission in Honolulu purchased this icon in a church bookstore in Toronto, Canada a few years ago and gave it as a gift to his parishioner Reader Nectarios Yangson.

In the fall of 2007 Nectarios’ Icon began to copiously stream myrrh. A more detailed account of this miracle can be found on the site of the ROCOR in Honolulu http://orthodoxhawaii.org/icons.html

On August 22, 2009 the parishioners of St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Washington DC, piously awaited the arrival of the Icon in time for the English Vigil service. However the flight from New York was delayed due to inclement weather, allowing time for the church to be filled up with the faithful from other parishes in Washington and the environs, all of whom were waiting patiently to see and pray before the icon.

Many faithful went to confession desiring to meet the Most Holy Image of the Mother of God with a cleaned conscience. The Holy Icon finally arrived during the reading of the Six Psalms during the Slavonic Vigil. Many of those who attended the English Vigil remained for the Slavonic service in order to get a chance to venerate the Icon and be anointed with its Holy Myrrh, which poured forth from many spots on the Icon throughout the service.

After the service Matushka and I spent hours conversing with Nectarios, inquiring about the Miracle, his life, about Orthodoxy in Hawaii and answered many of his questions about Brother Jose Munos-Cortes, with whom Nectarios was not acquainted personally, but whose memory he deeply honors. Nectarios is convinced that the new Iveron Icon is in some mysterious way associated with Brother Jose and his selfless service to the Mother of God and his guardianship of the Montreal Icon.

On Sunday, August 23rd the Icon was present at both liturgies in an overflowing church. At each liturgy we communed the faithful from two chalices, as is our usual practice, but on this day the number of communicants had swollen to fill the entire Church, it was reminiscent of Holy Pascha.

At the early English Liturgy, Fr. John Johnson in his homily outlined the foundations Orthodox veneration of the Theotokos. At the Slavonic liturgy Fr. Victor Potapov reminded the faithful the words of the martyred Br. Jose Munos-Cortes who always said that the “greatest miracle of the Myrrh-Streaming Icon is not so much the manifestation of the physical myrrh, so much as the grace that it gives people to change their lives for the better.”

After both Liturgies commemorative molebens were served and all those present were anointed with the Holy Myrrh and given a piece of cotton dipped in the heavenly oil.

Many of the faithful did not want to leave the church; others came to our cathedral after Divine services in their own parishes in order to glorify the Theotokos in their native languages, including a group of local Georgians who read the Akathist in the Georgian language. Despite the fact that we were behind schedule Fr. Alexander Resnikoff was able to take the Icon to visit a number of gravely ill parishioners in Maryland.

At 5:00 PM the faithful gathered at our Iveron Icon Chapel in Rock Creek Cemetery. Here we served a moleben and Akathist to the Mother of God in three languages: English, Slavonic and Greek. The prayer service ended with a solemn procession with the icon around the perimeter of the large Orthodox section of the cemetery.

After prayers at the cemetery Fr. John Johnson took the icon to Virginia to bring comfort to a number of seriously ill parishioners. On Monday, August 24 the new myrrh-streaming icon and its custodian Reader Nectarios Yangston departed for Hawaii via California.

A Miracle at a Distance

On Sunday, August 23rd, after the English liturgy, it occurred to me that there might not be enough myrrh-soaked cotton to distribute to the large number of people gathered in church. I called my Matushka and asked her to bring more cotton to put into the icon kiot to soak up the myrrh pouring from the icon. Matushka remembered that in our attic we had a large role of cotton which belonged to Brother Jose which he never had a chance to use. When she arrived in church, Matushka and Nectarios went into the ponomarka (the room at the side of the altar) to cut off a portion of the dry cotton with the intent of exchanging it with the soaked cotton. They put the new cotton on a silver tray and were about to approach the Icon in the center of the church. At this time the epistle was being read. They stopped on the right kliros to await the end of the Scriptural readings before continuing with their task. The tray with the dry cotton was placed on a small table on the right kliros. When the reading concluded they looked at the cotton which they were preparing to take to the icon and were awe stricken to see that the cotton was filled with Holy Myrrh!

Nectarios and Matushka looked at each other with pious amazement. They came back into the ponomarka and asked an acolyte to call me so that I too could witness to this wondrous sign which was wrought during the Divine Liturgy. In truth, the Mother of God reminded us in a very real and dramatic way that during the Eucharist She, the Heavenly Hosts and the entire Church Triumphant come together in prayer with us, members of the Church Militant to offer the Bloodless Sacrifice.

This large piece of cotton which filled with myrrh at a distance from the Miraculous Icon is now kept in our cathedral as sacred relic. In truth, Great art Thou o Lord, and marvelous art Thy works and there is no word which suffices to hymn Thy wonders!

Miraculous Healings

I was told of at least three healings in our parish which occurred after anointing with the Holy Myrrh from the “Hawaiian” Icon of the Theotokos. The names of all three persons who received these healings are known to me.

Acute eye pain that an elderly Serbian woman was experiencing for days went away after she was anointed with the myrrh. Another woman, a Georgian, was instantly relieved of a toothache.

A member of our Parish Council was experiencing acute pain as a result of kidney stones. The pain was so great that he had to miss the Sunday Divine Liturgy and was ready to call an ambulance. After church his wife brought him some myrrh-soaked cotton from the Icon and anointed him. The pain immediately subsided.

A New Riza for the Icon Parishioner Irina Pradhan-DelCastillo is presently working on the embellishment of our iconostasis with silver basma and produced in the same style a silver frame for the reliquary of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (the founder of our community in Washington, DC). Irina was asked by Reader Nectarios and a group of believers to make a silver riza for the Hawaiian Icon. As a personal gift to the Mother of God, Irina obliged and made a beautiful silver riza from the silver material, supplied by our cathedral and covered it with pearls and a number of semi-precious stones. She made the riza in Mexico, where she spends part of the year with her Mexican husband. When she heard that the Hawaiian Icon was coming to Washington DC she sent the riza to our Cathedral via UPS hoping that it would arrive in time to put it on the Icon. Unfortunately the riza arrived after Nectarios had left for home. The new riza will be blessed in our Cathedral on the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God and will be sent to Hawaii next week. *** Parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and other Orthodox Christians in Washington will remember the grace-filled days of August 22 and 23 for a long, long time. Glory and thanks be to God for all things! May the Holy Theotokos protect the servant of God Nectarios from all harm and grant him many years.

25 August 2009

Unfinished Business In Kosovo

Unfinished Business in the Balkans
Aug 12, 2009
By D. HUNTER HAYNES | For the past several years, the unresolved issues in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo have, in large part, been delegated to Europe, while the US busied itself with more pressing matters in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is about to change and the American people should be very concerned.

During his recent trip to Bosnia and Serbia, Vice-President Biden made it clear that the Obama administration is about to reclaim the leading role in the implementation of the Balkan’s European assimilation. The new guard in Washington is not pleased with the failure of Balkan integration into the Western political scene, so—once again—the US is about to delve into the inter-ethnic complexities of the Powder Keg of Europe.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, hands with Serbia's President Boris Tadic, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

According to Mr. Biden, the greatest obstacle to a secure and prosperous future in Bosnia and Kosovo appears to be the nationalistic tendencies of certain people. For some strange reason, they will not “forget the past and embrace the future.” Joe Biden has no tolerance for independent-minded holdouts—who he derisively labels “nationalists.”

According to the plan of liberals and neocons alike, those who refuse to consign themselves to the relativistic, multiculturalism of the West must be identified, marginalized, and eventually removed from the political process altogether. Simply stated, there is no room for patriotism, ethnic identity, culture, and traditional Christianity in today’s US-EU fraternity. Unfortunately for Washington and Brussels, not everyone in Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo has resigned himself to abject humanism and the betrayal of God and country.

Mr. Biden believes that Kosovo independence is irreversible and critically important to the region’s stability and progress. He is wrong on all counts. Kosovo independence is fully reversible and until that happens there will be no lasting stability or progress anywhere in the Balkans. The familiar saying, “It all began in Kosovo and it will end in Kosovo,” still holds true. By no means is the new, pseudo-state of Kosovo an end—it is only a temporary and unfortunate distraction on the path towards a lasting and just solution.

Kosovo is a land where local myth negates the historical facts and strategic plans of Western scholars and policy makers, and forms a higher reality for the people—a reality that creates heroes and martyrs, and propels a seemingly peaceful land into violence overnight. Only the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians can shape a new myth, a new “believable” history that will allow them to exist in the same country yet retain their own identities. Imposed cultural amalgamation and other outside manipulations will only end in resentment—first for the Serbs and later for the Albanians.

If this resentment leads to violence—and the winds are shifting in that direction—the US will not have the diplomatic, military or economic means to deal with the crisis. The 16,000 NATO troops in Kosovo, including 1,600 US military personnel, will find themselves bogged down in yet another drawn-out conflict, fraught with the explosive ingredients of ethnicity and faith, which have been needlessly and recklessly polarized by the West.

Our nation, the European Union, and other NATO member countries have made—and continue to make—grievous errors in Balkan policy. We are not, however, past the point of no return. It is possible to halt this decent into perdition and repair the damage done, but we must do so without the “excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another”—which, unfortunately, has defined our policy to date.

It is in the American interest to reconsider the matter of Kosovo independence and our foreign policy in the region. There is a tremendous opportunity before us as a nation to restore our diplomatic standing in the international community, repair damaged relations with the Russian Federation, and at the same time prove to our own citizenry that we have not completely abandoned the traditional values of our country.

D. Hunter Haynes is the Founder & President of the Orthodox Christian Advocacy Institute (OCAI). He served as a Police Commander in southern Serbia, as part of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo in 2001.

Tags: D. Hunter Haynes

13 August 2009

Believe With Faith and Express Faith in Your Life

Source: Diocese of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija

Bishop Artemije: "Yes, Lord, we believe!"

In distant times God heard the prayer of the prophet Elijah to punish his people for their idolatry. Today God still hears the prayers of His faithful servants and often brings punishment to our people. He does so not because He does not love us, nor because He wants to destroy us, or consume us, but because He wants us to return to His presence. The whole Serbian people, brothers and sisters, had gone astray and swerved from the real devotion. For more than fifty years, our people had been wandering about the desert of this world disregarding the practice of their Orthodox faith and the celebration of their Slava (a feast day) and gradually losing their previous honorability and heroism. Thus, God wanted to bring us back to His presence. For the last ten years or so we have experienced sufferings wherever we lived, primarily in Kosovo and Metohija. God did not make us suffer because He does not love us, but because He loves us very much and awaits our correction. Our Father wants us to follow St. Prophet Elijah in his strong faith and fervor, and be true sons of St. Sava and St. Knez Lazar. It is that kind of life that leads to Heavenly Kingdom, our heavenly homeland. It is important for us to understand the purpose of our generation’s suffering, so as to direct our ways to God. As once Elijah's people corrected their ways and God sent them rain from the sky, thus God can send us His mercy if we direct our ways to Him. He is willing to hear our prayers. For our Father knows what things we have need of before we ask Him. Yet, it is necessary that we should display our faith in God since Christ during His earth life-time did many miracles and healed all sorts of sicknesses and diseases among people, but He would always ask people: "Believe you that I am able to do this?" (Mt 9:28). Not until they confessed their faith did the miracles occur. God is asking us today, "Do you believe you may be set free in Kosovo and Metohija? Do you believe that Kosovo and Metohija will remain to be what it has been for centuries?" Our answer should be, "Yes, Lord, we do." But not mere tongue confession, rather life, faith and deed confession. At that very moment we will hear the Lord saying, "According to your faith be it to you." (Mt 9:29) As miracles occurred in the past they may reoccur today. Just have faith and trust in God and you will witness His miracles.

The address of His Grace (an extract)
St. prophet Elijah holiday in Leshak, 2009