For all the photos, please open link!
As it is a Sunday, I have decided to attempt to reflect less on the horrors of the world and more on the beauty of Holy Orthodoxy.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
In case you didn’t know, this is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I can’t quite believe it, but I have been there myself. I took this photo in fact.
Church at the Top of Mount Tabor – The Transfiguration
This is from the Church on Mount Tabor.
The beauty of Holy Orthodoxy.
As I travelled around the Holy Land, in the blessed footsteps of our Lord, many feelings whirled around inside me. Some good, naturally, some discordant. Of course there is so much background chatter from my life in the world, the person that I have been there, the old man constantly trying to reassert himself even as God’s Grace helps me to put on the new.
One thing struck me over and over again, and that was simply the sublime beauty of the temples of God.
I thought of ‘traditional’ western tourism, of people flocking, like the pilgrims of old to various places. It was clear to me that the blueprint for that, as of course the blueprint for all good things in this world, is in Church life, and specifically, pilgrimages.
It is not for nothing that we still call them ‘holidays’ i.e. ‘holy days’.
Like so many things in the West, which is at present a stinking sepulchre full of dead men’s bones (spiritually speaking), at the root there is something Holy which has been defiled and is now almost forgotten.
I thought of my family and my upbringing, heading to the various secular sites of ‘worship’ – the Louvre, stately homes and castles, sites of natural beauty or wonders, old pagan ruins.
I could not shake the realisation that they were all but a shadow of this, this wondrous and holy pilgrimage that God had made me worthy to be present on.
There is no gallery in the world that can compare to the dizzying abundance of holy ‘art’ that I saw, sometimes in just one small Orthodox temple. I use inverted commas since the artwork of the Orthodox is not ‘art’ in the western sense, just as The Bible and the Lives of the Saints are not ‘literature’. Everything Orthodox is a class apart – the authentic original blueprint of its secular ‘equivalent’.
It was clear that all the works of man are brought to the most wondrous fruition, to their fullest and most beautiful expression in God’s Holy Church.
Let’s have another picture.
Church of St George Lydda
This is a decorated candelabra in the Church of the Great and Holy Martyr St George in Lydda.
What can we see in this picture? Metalwork, woodworking, stonework, masonry, architecture, painting, bas-relief, tapestry, needlework, weaving.
The most exquisite symphony of all the works of the hands of men.
To fully witness the beauty of Holy Orthodoxy is something given only to holy men, but God has provided all of these things so that we can see a glimpse, and that is more than enough. For me it was overwhelming.
Of course, the Church services themselves, with the beautiful vestments of the clergy…
Hang on I may have another picture, or four. 🙂
Some examples of historic and beautiful needlework
Not to mention the singing in the Church, and the collective aeons of study, prayer and contemplation that has gone into their composition.
Truly we can only pity and pray for those in darkness. The Glory of God becomes very quickly self-evident to those who seek Him with a pure heart.
People pay absurd sums of money to catch glimpses of super-famous works of art, or to own them, and of course there are some wonderful ones out there, but even the wonder of a Van Gogh or a Da Vinci is nothing next to the beauty of Holy Orthodoxy.
Okay so yes, we fast, and we fast a lot. We pray, and yes, we pray a lot.
We read The Bible, yes, a lot. We love to talk about Christ, a lot. We have all lost friends, or simply never made them on account of our love for the Lord and for His Holy Church.
Yes, okay, so we are a dying breed, for now at least. God can raise up children of Abraham from the very stones, so there’s still no need to worry. 🙂
We do belong to the most persecuted group of people in the world. Our Holy sites are destroyed or desecrated daily at this point and really that has been the way of things for a long time now. The devil is sifting us like wheat.
Guardians of the Tomb or TO – True Orthodox
If you go to Jerusalem, you will see this symbol everywhere.
Traditionally, it is the Tau-Phi standing for τάφου φύλακες – Guardians of the Tomb.
It is the symbol of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Okay, I’m going to have to mention the world orthodox and their abominable heresy. Please forgive me.
The ‘Patriarch of Jerusalem’ just blessed some ‘holy chrism’ (inverted commas since the sacraments of heretics are not what they claim to be), to be used in the anointing of the ‘king’ of England, Charles III, in a super ecumenism ceremony that you may have had the misfortune of witnessing. Lord have mercy!
I apologise for posting this on a Sunday. Please click the link on another day if you would rather keep your mind on the things of God on this blessed day and may God bless you and forgive me.
He’s no Patriarch, he’s a layman at best, a heresiarch at worst.
So, I would rather instead see in this symbol as TO – True Orthodox. We are still here.
There are some of us in the Holy Land, and they are the only true ‘Guardians of the Tomb’ in the Church Militant at least.
We didn’t and don’t accept ecumenism. We hold to the Creed, and particularly to the 9th article. We don’t believe you can be in communion with heretics and not be heretics.
“I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
There is only one Church, there will only ever be One Church. The body of Christ on earth can never be divided. The world orthodox and those in communion with them are outside of His Holy Church.
Painful as it is, there is no other explanation. The world orthodox have worldly ‘ownership’ of many lovely golden cupolas and pretty churches, but it is the spirit that gives life to these things, that makes them Holy Orthodoxy.
Perhaps this is the lesson for today then: the beauty of Holy Orthodoxy is in the Spirit, and the beautiful things made by the Orthodox faithful can be stolen and used to fool people, in fact, they often are. These beautiful things can raise our spirits up towards God, but they can also fool us and lead us into heresy if we are not careful.
I went to these blessed places with a group of True Orthodox, and we sang our hymns where we could and made prayers and obeisances where we could. Sometimes we were hustled out of the way by one of the dizzyingly numerous sects who outnumbered us. Sometimes, we had places to ourselves.
Our beloved Bishop was with us, and so the Church was exactly where we were. Glory to God for all things.
Sea of Galilee
Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
9th Sunday after Pentecost Holy Martyr Christina of Tyre