The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos

nat-theotokos-2Today we celebrate the birth of the Mother of God, or Theotokos, one of the twelve Great Feasts of the Church. Most of the direct references to her birth come from one of the apocryphal gospels, the Protoevangelium of James, which have been taken up and further developed in the liturgical texts of the Church. However, although the Scriptures do not refer to the actual birth of the Mother of God, they are full of indirect references to it, for the whole history of the Old Testament is a preparation for the coming Christ into our world. And a key part of this preparation was the preparation of the one who was to give birth to the Son of God. In the words of Saint Andrew of Crete:

The radiant and bright coming-down of God for people ought to possess a joyous basis, opening to us the great gift of salvation. Such like also is the present feast day, having as its basis the Nativity of the Mother of God, and as its purposeful end the uniting of the Word with flesh, this most glorious of all miracles, unceasingly proclaimed, immeasurable and incomprehensible. The less comprehensible it is, the more it is revealed; and the more it is revealed, the less comprehensible it is. Wherefore the present God-graced day, the first of our feast days, showing forth the light of virginity and as it were the crown woven from the unfading blossoms of the spiritual garden of Scripture, doth proffer creatures a common joy. Be of good cheer it says, behold, this is the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin and of the renewal of the human race! The Virgin is born, she grows and is raised up and prepares herself to be the Mother of God All-Sovereign of the ages. All this, with the assistance of David, makes it for us an object of spiritual contemplation. The Mother of God manifests to us Her God-bestowed Birth, and David points to the blessedness of the human race and wondrous co-kinship of God with mankind.

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Sunday 4 September – Saint Mamas Day – Annual blessing of household pets – Archbishopric of Good Hope, Cape Town

Sunday 4 September

14184443_1838868329679389_3334594457799057652_nWith a woof woof here, and a miaow miaow there, a pony and kiddies everywhere, we celebrated our seventh annual St Mamas Pets Blessing Day on Sunday 4 September, in the grounds of the Metropolis in Rondebosch, at the invitation of His Eminence Archbishop Sergios and convened by Pepe Sofianos.

This year we had a grand turnout of dogs of all shades, shapes and sizes and despite a few raised hackles and some growls in the beginning, they calmed down, made friends and loved being praised and petted by everyone.

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Among  other very welcome guests were Deacon Father Nicholas Esterhuizen,  Mr Fotis Sousalis, Chairman of the Hellenic Community, Ariadne Parali, Headmistress of the Greek School and Mr Niko Kommatos, senior teacher at the school, who also brought their gorgeous dogs to be blessed.

The Greek Consul, Mr Thomas Matsoukas also attended with his awesome Husky called Zack, whose blue eyes enchanted everyone.

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We even had two pussycats who proudly showed off by walking around on their leashes!

14184518_10153961989818207_1305929698383954718_n14237731_1838869726345916_3062552380613386565_nHis Eminence Archbishop Sergios and Pater Nikolaos started the proceedings with a prayer for animals and their keepers.Then everyone lined up to have their pets blessed by Pater Nikolaos, including a special blessing for the little pony.

We were blessed with perfect weather so the rest of the afternoon flew by with lucky prize draws and lots of fun and games, high excitement and of course, pony rides, which was a huge hit with the little ones.

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Yummy eats were served for the kids and the adults and then it was time to wind down with the traditional bonfire and the kids toasted their marshmallows in the embers. That’s always a big favourite with them and something they really look forward to.

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Finally everyone went home hugging their pet goody bags and prizes that were kindly sponsored by Purina again. We are always very grateful for their generous and ongoing support which makes this day so enjoyable and memorable both for the children and their pets.

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Also grateful thanks to Evgenia Sofianos, Gabriel Athiros, Carol Vikos,Vailis Vikos, Crystal-Jade Lerios and Gerry Lancellas for their willing help and for all the great photographs.

The kids carried with them a goodwill message from Saint Mamas to treasure not only their own pets but also to respect and have compassion for all living creatures and the environment.

See you next year!

By  Pepe Sofianos.

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Feast Day of Saint Kosmas Aitolos – Cathedral of Saint George, Cape Town

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On Sunday 28 August an Artoclasia was held after the Service of the Holy Eucharist in honour of Saint Kosmas Aitolos, who is also the patron Saint of the Hellenic School in Cape Town. His Eminence Archbishop Sergios, Metropolitan of Good Hope officiated at the Service of the Artoclasia together with Father Nikolaos Giamouridis. Deacon Michael Simos and Deacon Father Nicholas Esterhuizen.

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In his address after the Service, His Eminence said that Saint Kosmas Aitolos, is not only well- known for many of his prophesies which are already being manifestedin the world today, he also walked almost all of Greece to establish more than two hundred schools. The Greek people were under Ottoman oppression and they were losing their mother tongue. Saint Kosmas was determined that they should not lose their rich Orthodox heritage and the Greek language which is the language of the church and of the written word of the Bible.

His Eminence said that it is unfortunate that so few of us read and write although some of us do still speak Greek. He commended the community and the teachers for their perseverance in keeping the Greek school going under often difficult circumstances and urged the parents to respond by taking their children as often as possible and participating in the school events. He also thanked the parents and grand-parents who make the effort to speak to the children in Greek and to support the Greek school.

Two children from the Greek school Nikola Augostatos and Michael Comitis spoke about the life of Saint Kosmas Aitolos in Greek and English respectively.

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Feast Day of the Dormition of the Mother of God – Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

13938591_1146268812101367_8493007176951051129_nOn Sunday 14 August, His Eminence Archbishop Sergios Metropolitan Bishop of Cape Town officiated at the Service of the Great Vespers in anticipaton of the Feast Day of the Dormition of the Mother of God. He was joined by parish priest Father George Giannakopoulos and Deacon father Yiannis Tyropoulos.

And on Monday morning 15 August at the Service of the Holy Eucharist which included an Artoclasia for the Feast Day.

 

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Service of the Holy Eucharist – Church of the Holy Archangels, George, Northern Cape

Sunday 14 August

The Hellenic Community of George have not had a priest for a while and on Sunday morning 14 August His Eminence Archbishop Sergios officiated at the Service of the Holy Eucharist which included an Artoclasia for the Feast Day of the Dormition of the Mother of God at the Church of the Holy Archangels.

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Forgiving from the Heart

JCLIFEGVToday, on the eleventh Sunday of Matthew, Jesus continues to teach us what life is like in the Kingdom of God. In a challenging parable on forgiveness, He tells us about a servant who was forgiven a large debt by a king. However, this same servant refused to forgive another servant a much smaller debt, which consequently angered the king who had him arrested again. In this way, Jesus warns us what will happen to us if we do not forgive those who wrong us. Continue reading

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A New Church Year

creation_iconToday marks the beginning of a new Church year. In the Roman Empire, the first of September was the day on which the emperor would announce a decree of taxation. But it was also the time (in the northern hemisphere) for harvesting the fruits of the earth and for beginning a new agricultural cycle as we also see in Jewish worship. The Church took over this calendar but gave it a deeper significance. Continue reading

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Faith as a Mustard Seed

healdemonicboyToday, on the tenth Sunday of Matthew, we hear the account of the healing of an epileptic boy. This incident occurs just after the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor, and is particularly concerned with the power of faith in our lives.

This boy is brought to Jesus by his father after the apostles had been unable to heal him. Jesus Christ rebukes them for their lack of faith and when they later ask Him why they had not been able to cast the demon out of the boy, He blames it on their lack of faith, declaring that, if we have faith like a mustard seed, we will be able to move mountains. Continue reading

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Lord, Save Me!

christ_walking_on_water (1)Today we hear Saint Matthew’s account of how Jesus Christ came to His disciples, walking across the water when they were caught in a storm while crossing the lake in a boat. Moreover, we see how the Apostle Peter asked to be allowed to come to Christ across the water. But he began to sink when he took fright at the wind. He called out to Christ, who rescued him and calmed the storm. Continue reading

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The Dormition of the Holy Theotokos

Dormition3Tomorrow, 15 August, we celebrate the great feast of the Dormition, or falling asleep, of the Most Holy Theotokos. At Vespers we sing: “The source of life is laid in the grave and her tomb becomes a ladder to heaven.”

The account of the Dormition of the Mother of God has been persevered in the tradition of the Church, with accounts of how the apostles gathered around her bed as she “passed over into heavenly joy,” and into the Kingdom of her Son. Continue reading

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