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||FIRST, THE NEWS:
PATRIARCH KIRILL AND PAROLIN: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX AND CATHOLICS UNITED FOR PEACE
(22 Aug.) Vatican Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin met Tuesday with the Russian Patriarch Kirill in Moscow, where, among other things, they discussed the difficult situations in the Middle East and Ukraine. Referring to the struggle in Ukraine, which pits Ukrainian forces against Russian-based separatists, Patriarch Kirill stated that the "Church cannot play any other role if not one of peacemaking when people are in conflict among each other.
"Conflicts do not last forever, and sooner or later they end," the patriarch added, and asked, "If all social forces are involved in the conflict, the who will pick up the stones?" The two representatives from the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches met at Danilovsky monastary, the seat of the Patriarchate of Moscow, on August 22.
Kirill stated that the Vatican is "close" to the patriarchate’s position concerning Ukraine, and expressed his satisfaction with the fact that during the course of the meeting the parties confirmed their agreement on how their churches should behave in the divided country. "We greatly appreciate the fact that even this time, we found a mutual understanding on the role that our churches must play concerning the reconciliation of the population in Ukraine," Kirill said.
The Vatican planted the seed of this spirit of camaraderie not only during an historic meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill in Havana, Cuba in 2016, but also this summer, when the relics of St. Nicholas were transported from their resting place in the Italian city of Bari to Moscow, and then St. Petersburg. [read more...]
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KAZAKHSTAN: MORE LEGAL RESTRICTIONS TO REACH PARLIAMENT
by Felix Corley: Forum 18 News Service
(18 Aug.) Legal amendments to 4 Codes and 13 Laws (including the already restrictive Religion Law) about to reach parliament seem set to impose further controls and punishments for non-state-approved religious teaching, confiscate religious literature which fails to pass the state censorship, and allow religious organisations to be banned.
Further controls on and punishments for non-state-approved religious teaching, further restrictions on sharing beliefs, confiscation of religious literature which does not pass the compulsory state censorship and the possibility to ban religious organisations permanently for violating the already-restrictive Religion Law are in proposed amendments to a wide range of laws. The long-announced amendments would also double some administrative fines for exercising freedom of religion or belief.
The amendments are likely to reach Parliament soon, probably in September. The Documentary Management Department of Parliament told Forum 18 on 18 August that no draft Law has yet reached Parliament and that it has not been informed about the draft Law. To justify at least some of the harsh new measures, the drafters of the amendments cite similar legal provisions violating human rights in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and elsewhere. [read more...]
(25 Jul.) As early as in 1968, the Profites family from France went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes separate from their parish community. Parishioners believed that a family with two sons with a disability do not fit into the common group of pilgrims. Local tenants were also not prepared to accept these special pilgrims. Although the premises for Luke and Tadea’s parents were successfully found, its owner warned that the family was to have lunch separate from all other visitors, so as not to embarrass them.
The trip to Lourdes for the Profites family became a painful experience, but Camille and Gerard were not going to put up with that reality. Three years later, together with Jean Vanier, founder of the international L'Arche movement, and Marie-Helen Mathieu, director of the Christian Disability Support Office, organized a pilgrimage to Lourdes for nearly four thousand families with children with disabilities. That year, the bishop of Lourdes welcomed the special pilgrims in the city. In this pilgrimage, the family did not pray for healing children, but for the transformation of their hearts.
So, in 1971, the international Christian movement "Faith and Light" started, which brings together families with children with disabilities, and volunteers who want to make friends with them. In 1992, the first community of "Faith and Light" appeared in Lviv. In 25 years of celebrating the birthday of the movement, already 36 communities from different parts of Ukraine have gathered. Celebration of the anniversary will last for a year, but it was decided to start it symbolically - the all-Ukrainian pilgrimage to the Unev monastery.
"It is good that our anniversary celebrations begin with a pilgrimage to the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in Unev," wrote Zenya Kushpeta, the founder of the Faith and Light movement in Ukraine. – "We thank Jesus and the Virgin Mary for the generous blessing of all our communities and the kindness we have received. The seeds that the Lord has sown during these 25 years in the hearts of friends with disabilities, their friends, parents and chaplains of communities, sprout and bring good fruits. We are not alone - we have friends, a community!" Members of the Faith and Light movement try not only to serve the poor, do something for them, but to stay beside them, to become friends for them. [read more...]
BULGARIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS HONOR ST. IVAN RILSKI
(18 Aug.) The Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates Friday, August 18, the assumption of Saint Ivan Rilski, honored as the patron of the Bulgarian people. St. Ivan Rilski was the first Bulgarian recluse. He was revered as a saint when he was still alive and the legend says wild animals were coming to him and birds were landing on his hands. His followers founded the Rila Monastery as well as many churches in his honor. One of these churches, "St Ivan Rilski" was inaugurated in 2008 in the city of Veliko Tarnovo.
St. Ivan Rilski is honored today as the patron of Bulgarian people and one of the most important saints of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. He died in 946 AD in the seclusion of the monastery, and was canonized right after his death. Remembered for his miracles, he is one of Bulgaria's most influential spiritual leaders.
Shortly after the saint's death, his remains, which were thought to have wonder-working powers, were transferred to Sofia during the reign of Peter I. After Hungarian King Bela III conquered Sofia in 1183, Saint Ivan Rilski's remains were sent to the Hungarian capital Esztergom and stayed there for 4 years before being returned to Sofia in 1187.
In 1194, Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen I ordered the remains to be moved to his capital, Veliko Tarnovo. Surviving the Turkish conquest of the city in 1393, they were returned to the RilaMonastery in 1469 with the permission of Sultan Murad II. [read more...]
RUSSIA PREPARES RUSSIAN SPIRITUAL HERITAGE ART EXHIBITION FOR VATICAN
(24 Aug.) Russia is willing to open an exhibition dedicated to Russian spiritual art titled "From Icon-painting to Avant-garde" in Vatican in 2018 in a reciprocal gesture to the exhibition of Vatican masterpieces in the Tretyakov Art Gallery, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"Russian Christians are particularly grateful for this to you and Pope Francis. And great thanks from all art connoisseurs for organization of a Vatican museum exhibition at the Tretyakov Art Gallery," Putin said at a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Russia is preparing a reciprocal action, that is, a Russian spiritual heritage art exhibition from icon-painting to avant-garde, the president said. "With your assistance, we are ready to hold it in 2018," the head of state said.
Russia and Vatican have various aspects of diplomacy from the political to the cultural, which allow for such events to be held, the Vatican secretary of state said [read more...]
ROMANIAN BISHOP INVOLVED IN SEX TAPE SCANDAL RESIGNS
from: Washington Post
(18 Aug.) A Romanian bishop who was seen on video engaging in sexual acts with a male student resigned Friday, the Romanian Orthodox Church said.
The patriarchy said the Bishop of Husi, Corneliu Barladeanu, 51, had decided to step down "for the peace and good of the church." He maintains his innocence and has not made any public comment. The statement was issued at the end of a two-day Holy Synod where a sex scandal was discussed for the first time in its 92-year history.
There has been public furor in Romania over Barladeanu and another scandal involving a priest who had sex with a male student as believers are demanding more accountability from the church. Outrage was heightened as the two cases involved homosexual acts. The church, however, insisted the bishop would have been similarly chastised if the alleged sexual misdemeanors involved a woman.
Barladeanu will no longer hold an official position, but he will remain a monk. Orthodox bishops are monks. The statement said the resignation was the best outcome, because an investigation would last months and would "prolong the situation of uncertainty of the bishopry of Husi" in northeast Romania. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
WHY DO PEOPLE GET MARRIED IN RUSSIA, APART FROM LOVE?
from Russia Beyond the Headlines
"INDEX OF FAITH": HOW MANY ORTHODOX ARE THERE REALLY IN RUSSIA?
from RIA Novosti
'SELF-LOATHING ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS' EMERGE AS FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH IN RUSSIA
from Eurasia Review
PUTIN SEES HUMANITARIAN VALUES AS BASIS FOR RUSSIA'S AND ITS CHURCH'S RELATIONS WITH VATICAN
CARDINAL PAROLIN PRESSES RUSSIA TO GIVE BACK CHURCHES TAKEN BY THE SOVIETS
UKRAINIAN MINISTRY OF JUSTICE SETS THE PASTORAL COUNCIL FOR RELIGIOUS CARE IN PENITENTIARIES
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
IN THE WOODS, CHILDREN LEARN ENGLISH AND HEAR THE GOSPEL
from Mission Network News
METROPOLITAN HILARION ON THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ORDINATION: I WOULD NOT CHANGE THIS MINISTRY FOR ANYTHING ELSE
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
ANASTASIA’S STORY: CALLED TO SERVE
from Mission Eurasia
MORE THAN 6 TONS OF FOOD, 3 TONS OF MEDICINE DELIVERED TO SYRIA BY RUSSIAN RELIGIOUS GROUP
RUSSIAN ANTI-ABORTION GROUP FIGHTS AND PRAYS FOR BAN
from Deutsche Welle
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Toward the end of our service in Moscow, my wife Cheryl and I were involved with the "Faith and Light" movement there, so it was very encouraging for me to discover that "Faith and Light" is operating in Ukraine too, as shown in our third news article "FAITH AND LIGHT" CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP.
(26 Aug.) Our first Other News Headline - WHY DO PEOPLE GET MARRIED IN RUSSIA, APART FROM LOVE? states that Russians are most conservative about marriage. And yet, an increasing percentage of couples live together in "civil partnerships" without marriage, and two-thirds of marriages in Russia end in divorce. An indication that most Russians hardly have a conservative view of marriage is that the article only lists as reason #3: "Religious Beliefs or Conservative Views."
The next Other News Headline - "INDEX OF FAITH": HOW MANY ORTHODOX ARE THERE REALLY IN RUSSIA? recounts the oft-repeated statistic that 80% of Russian citizens claim to be Orthodox... and yet, this percentage includes Muslims and atheists! The article states - "of the 80% of Orthodox, according to statistics, only two-thirds of them believe in God and only 4% observe fasts and attend church." If fully one-third of those claiming to be Orthodox don't even believe in God, it indicates that "when a person calls himself Orthodox, he is merely bearing witness that Orthodox civilization is a value that constitutes a part of his identity," a cultural or ideological position.
As depicted in our first news article - PATRIARCH KIRILL AND PAROLIN: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX AND CATHOLICS UNITED FOR PEACE - these religious leaders were dealing more with political issues than with theological ones. This is also indicated in our Other News Headlines PUTIN SEES HUMANITARIAN VALUES AS BASIS FOR RUSSIA'S AND ITS CHURCH'S RELATIONS WITH VATICAN and CARDINAL PAROLIN PRESSES RUSSIA TO GIVE BACK CHURCHES TAKEN BY THE SOVIETS. Are the ordinary people being primed and conditioned to accept a religious-political reconciliation between East and West led by Moscow and Rome?
Our last news article - ROMANIAN BISHOP INVOLVED IN SEX TAPE SCANDAL RESIGNS - tells the sad story of another cleric apparently falling into sexual sin. The only positive aspect that I can draw from it is that he was promptly removed from office. This and a similar headline in our last issue of Hosken-News indicates that the Orthodox Church acts quickly and decisively to keep the Church pure and holy, not "sweep it under the rug."
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Keep On Asking, Seeking, and Knocking!
The Lord Jesus Christ, in His "Sermon on the Mount," said - "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking, receives. Everyone who keeps on seeking, finds. And to everyone who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8). The more common English translation of "Ask.. seek... and knock" doesn't fully convey the continuing tense of these verbs, but the original Greek and the Russian versions indicate continual and repeated action.
Today a good friend posted this story on the Internet of how a young monk visited a very old monk to ask how and even why the older man had kept going through all his many years and as many trials.
In reply the older monk told this enigmatic story.
A dog saw a rabbit and began to chase it, and the rabbit ran. At the end of the street another dog joined in the chase and then a couple of strays joined the two. Before long nine or ten dogs were barking, yelping and running as fast as they could. By the time the streets turned into countryside most of the dogs in the town, of all sizes and colours, dozens in fact were in hot pursuit. Yet, after a couple of fields, three hedges and a stream and as the forest grew nearer, only the first dog was still running.
And that was the answer the old monk gave.
Silence followed until the young monk said he didn't understand, so the elder repeated the story word for word for a second and then for a third time. At this point, faced with perplexity on the face of youth he revealed the key to the riddle saying, "Only the first dog actually saw the rabbit." A few moments later both men smiled as light visibly dawned inside the younger man.
Have you "seen the rabbit?" Do you fervently hope and pray and expect to catch it some day? Or are you only "running with the pack?"
How easy it is to say - "I'll pray about it" ...but nothing happens. That's not what Christ told us to do. He said - "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for." You've doubtless watched a little child beg and beg and beg his mom or dad for something over and over again, right? Christ wants us to be persistent like that little child.
It doesn't stop there: "Keep on seeking, and you will find." Children aged zero through five are the most curious... then they go to school where they're taught to conform. The former brightest among them often become bored, lethargic, uninterested. I've noticed how often in our prayers the phrases "deliver us from lethargy" and "waken us from heavy sleep of indolence" appear.
It's so easy as we grow older to fall into the same old ruts, to go about each day on autopilot, almost half-asleep. Where's that childlike curiousity, seeking to understand the world around us and the meaning of life, asking "Why?" and not putting up with the "Just because!" or "It simply happened!" answers? "Seek and keep on seeking!" If you keep seeking, you might just rediscover that lost curiousity of your youth! Keep on looking for answers to the problems facing you. As Churchill said, "Never give up! Never, never, never give up!"
And lastly, "Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." I recently read about a young man who grew up poor, but by age 22 he deposited his first check for $100,000 in the bank. He had started a business repairing electric signs on other businesses by driving around at night looking for burned-out signs. He asked one company owner if he could repair his sign, and the man said that two other well-known repairmen had tried and given up.
But this young upstart gave it a try, checked all the switches, ballasts, and bulbs... nothing wrong. Then he happened to test a piece of wire that looked perfectly good - no kinks or broken insulation - and Presto! There was the bad circuit. The young fellow won a $250,000 contract to upgrade all the signeage for this multi-state business, then he went on to win another $250,000 contract from the same business.
Have you knocked at a few doors asking for a better job, and then given up, settling for that same-old, same-old boring job? As you might know, I'm in my 75th year of life, and I do volunteer work helping inner-city people set goals, write a cover letter, list of references, and a resume, then train them how to apply online for jobs. In the last few weeks I added an 8-hour/day temp job called "Get-A-Job" -- you can see it here on the middle of the page.
It's one sheet of paper printed on both sides. It has 20 blanks on each side showing date of contact, employer and phone, job application (y/n), resume (y/n), follow-up date, and result. I tell them, "Now you have an 8-hour/day temp job called 'Get-A-Job' - your job now is to apply online for 1 job every hour, 8 hours per day, and I can virtually guarantee that if you apply for 40 jobs in 5 days using this sheet of paper, you'll get a real, paying job in no time!"
I know it's scary, knocking on doors and being told "No!" time after time. I've had to do it many times before: I've had various sales jobs and learned that for about every 10 "No's" there will be a "Yes!" And I've been jobless too, with a family to feed: I applied for job after job, then finally got a job to support my family. The system works if you work the system!
Has the Lord Jesus Christ given you a vision to accomplish something seemingly impossible? If so, have you kept on seeking for ways to accomplish it? Have you kept on knocking on doors... openings... opportunities that will let you move ahead with that God-given vision? Or have you tried just a thing or two, then given up? Has your "get up and go" gotten up and went? Keep on knocking! Perhaps, just maybe, that next door will open with a "Yes!"
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking, receives. Everyone who keeps on seeking, finds. And to everyone who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened."
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Please remember to pray for Christians in Socialist countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. We have laws against murder, rape, theft, slavery and child molestation. Who says you can't legislate morality?