Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Turkey’s PM Erdoğan planning prayers with Islamic leaders in Hagia Sophia

See also my several posts on Hagia Sophia and Turkey's efforts to convert it into a mosque.

Originally posted on Jihad Watch, April 30, 2014:

Rapidly re-Islamizing Turkey has already converted two churches back into mosques. They were converted to mosques at the time of the jihad conquest of the Byzantine Empire, and then made museums by the secular Turkish government. The same thing happened to the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, once the foremost and grandest church in the entire Christian world. Its reconversion to use as a mosque would be the crowning hallmark of Turkey’s re-Islamization and re-Ottomanization.

PM Erdoğan planning prayers with Islamic leaders in Hagia Sophia
Hürriyet Daily News, April 30, 2014

The prayer at Hagia Sophia may be organized as part of the events held for the week marking Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottomans late May, according to Radikal. DAILY NEWS Photo
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planning to perform prayers at Istanbul’s historic Hagia Sophia, along with the leaders of other Islamic countries, according to daily Radikal.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is reportedly considering organizing a special prayer in Istanbul’s most illustrious architectural setting ahead of the upcoming presidential elections next August. The move will come amid a wider “reform package” that will contain important steps on several thorny issues, from the opening of the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary to giving legal status to Alevi cemevis as official places of worship.

The prayer at Hagia Sophia may be organized as part of the events held for the week marking Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottomans late May, according to Radikal. The government, however, remains concerned over the possible reactions that such an event could spark.

Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç publically expressed his hope to see the Hagia Sophia, currently a museum, be converted into a mosque at some point in the future day. The suggestion was strongly condemned by Greece, which described it as an “insult to the religious sensibilities of millions of Christians.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The widespread apostasy of Western Christianity is soon to claim its most visible victim. In place of the Cross, the Black Flag of Islam will unfurl atop former churches and cathedrals. But there are pockets of Orthodox England eager to reclaim and share the Ancient Faith. 

Related: Photos dramatize Collapse of Christianity and Rise of Islam in England

Pravoslavie — April 28, 2014

           Muslim Friday prayers in London.
Islam is rapidly forcing out Christianity in the UK, reports As Christian churches in the United Kingdom are quickly losing parishioners, the Muslim community is growing with unprecedented speed. And though the society sometimes sees a threat in Islam, British Muslims lay claim to an active role in the country's life. 

Analysis of results of the population census has shown that Islam may become the dominant religion in the country as early as in ten years. Over the last decade the number of British Muslims has doubled, and the name "Muhammad" has become the most popular name in London. 

The average age of a British Muslim is about 26 years old. The Muslim population in the UK is extremely young; it is full of energy, life and dynamics. Great Britain is an innovator in many areas. It will become the first non-Muslim country to introduce financial bonds, available for purchase by Muslim investors. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Blood-Spangled Banner of the Mahdi, Jabhat al-Nusra and Syria

Apocalyptic dreams motivate Syrian Jihadists

by Dr Timothy Furnish, MahdiWatch — April 27, 2014

The Lone Horseman of the Muslim Apocalypse does not come meekly, riding on a colt. 

My friend Charles Cameron, who blogs regularly on strategy and other high-brow issues at zenpundit, just recently pointed out that the major jihadist group in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, has yet again (on April 23, 2014) trumpeted its Islamic eschatological beliefs.  As per MEMRI:  

Jabhat al-Nusra cleric: “We are fighting the Safavid-Shiite alliance…and we are fighting the Zionist-Crusader alliance….Sami al-`Uraydi, senior JaN religious authority: “Thanks to Allah, the banner has been raised.  The first to raise the banner in this century was Sheikh Osama, may Allah accept him in Paradise. The banner passes from one lion to another, from one man to another, until it will reach Muhammad bin Abdullah, the Mahdi.  Allah willing, the banner will not be lost, until it has reached Muhammad bin Abdullah, the Mahdi. The age of great wars began with the 9/11 attacks” [emphasis added]. 

The Middle East Media Research Institute entitles this video clip translation “Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra Conquers Military Post in the Syrian Golan, Commemmorates Bin Laden.”  A far more accurate appraisal would be “Major Sunni Jihadist Group Adduces the Mahdi.”

Islam Headlines for the past week

with links to full stories -- We must not allow ourselves to become numb to these 'signs of the times'...

Gazing Into The Empty Tomb

by Fr. Steven Kostoff — Orthodox Christian Meditations
originally published April 24, 2012


Bearing life and more fruitful than paradise,
brighter than any royal chamber: 
Thy tomb, O Christ, is the fountain of our resurrection.
(Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)

The “empty tomb” has been a point of endless discussion and debate among biblical scholars for quite some time now.  The issue is not simply one of whether or not the tomb of Jesus was indeed empty when the myrrhbearing women discovered it on “the first day of the week.”  And, if it was empty, then why was it empty?  Those are theological or “faith” questions and claims that determine the difference between “believers” and “non-believers” based on how one may answer those questions. Rather, some biblical scholars who study the New Testament evidence concerning the resurrection of Christ challenge the very reliability of the empty tomb narratives in the canonical Gospels.  These very scholars  even going so far as to claim these narratives are basically imaginative reconstructions, for apologetic purposes, composed by the evangelists.  In other words, the empty tomb narratives are not conveying to us an actual record of events; but they are actually later inventions that are used to strengthen the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.  This is often called “historicized theology.”

In responding to these skeptical charges, many excellent biblical scholars have carefully demonstrated the reliability of these narratives with detailed and sophisticated arguments that skillfully and convincingly defend the solid historical nature of these narratives.  The haunting simplicity of these narratives; the fact that they are “unadorned” with claims of fulfilled biblical prophecy or theological embellishment; the discovery of the empty tomb by women disciples whose testimony was not binding in first century Judaism; the fact that living disciples of Christ could have refuted any invented stories; the integrity of the evangelists(!).  All of these combine to strongly support the historicity of the empty tomb narratives. As Gerald O’Collins summarizing in his book, Believing in the Resurrection:

The more we detect such a simplicity that derives from the origins of Christianity, the less plausible we find the theory that the discovery of the empty tomb was not an historical event but merely a later creation, a fictional scenario coming from the evangelist Mark.  (p. 83)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

KLA graffiti appear on gate of Serbian Orthodox monastery

GRAČANICA -- A graffiti reading "UCK" - Albanian for "KLA", the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army - appeared on the gate of the Visoki Dečani Monastery early on Friday.

Pravmir — April 27, 2014

This is according to a statement issued by the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC).

The 14th century Serbian monastery is located in western Kosovo and is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

“This is the latest in a series of similar provocations by Albanian extremists who previously wrote messages containing hate speech on the church wall in Đakovica, after which similar writings appeared on the facades of Serb houses in Orahovac,” the Eparchy said.

This time, extremists wrote on the very gate of the Visoki Dečani Monastery, only a dozen metres from the KFOR’s Italian checkpoint, according to the statement.

The Eparchy of Raška and Prizren noted that this act constitutes an open threat to the Visoki Dečani Monastery and its brotherhood.

Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops issues Statement on Anniversary of the Bishops Abducted in Syria

Misses Opportunity for Outreach to Muslims with the Orthodox Gospel.

This is a good statement, as far as it goes. But I consider it a missed opportunity and a failure to stand for truth, instruct the faithful, and preach the Gospel. Most significant is the nearly complete lack of any reference to Islam.

The only mention of Islam is in paragraph 4, where it states that Metropolitan Boulos and Archbishop Yoanna "were kidnapped by Islamist extremists."

Nine of the top 10 countries in which Christians are most heavily persecuted are Muslim. Over forty of the top fifty are Muslim. Muslim persecution of Christians is rooted in Islam's sacred texts and teachings.

With Muslim persecution of Christians — not only in the Middle East but throughout the entire Islamic world — being assessed by scholars, historians, human rights activists, and even by global political figures as "apocalyptic," "genocide," a "Christian Holocaust," and of "biblical proportions," to not mention the religious ideology behind this global persecution of Christians is weak and ineffectual.

Even more concerning: instead of condemning the murderous ideology of (radical) Islam, the Canonical Assembly inserted this misleading sentence:

Christians in Iraq, Egypt, and Syria have peacefully coexisted with people of all faiths in the region for two thousand years.

This is the position held by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who used almost the exact same words in reference to Islam in his book, Encountering the Mystery, on page 196. Yet any "peaceful coexistence" with Muslims has been forced on Christians by the sword for much of the past fourteen hundred years.

The Middle East War on Christians

Muslim-majority nations are doing to followers of Jesus what they did to the Jews.

By RON PROSOR — OpEd to the Wall Street Journal
April 16, 2014

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Christians are losing their lives, liberties, businesses and their houses of worship across the Middle East. It is little wonder that native Christians have sought refuge in neighboring countries—yet in many cases they find themselves equally unwelcome. Over the past 10 years, nearly two-thirds of Iraq's 1.5 million Christians have been driven from their homes. Many settled in Syria before once again becoming victims of unrelenting persecution. Syria's Christian population has dropped from 30% in the 1920s to less than 10% today.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Patriarchal Encyclical for Holy Pascha 2014

His All-Holiness comes close to openly naming and denouncing radical Islam and the global jihad, but it is painfully clear to anyone with eyes to see who are the ones who "serve the proliferation of death... the eradication of their fellow men."  

This is a luminous and noble pastoral message, shining with the Orthodox Christian Gospel and the joyous proclamation of the Truth of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of our hope for union with Jesus Christ and eternal life.

"We continue the work of the Apostles. We convey to the world the message of the resurrection. We preach knowingly that death must not have a place in our life for it offers no benefit to humanity. The ones who seek to improve social life by killing fellow humans do not offer good service to the living. They rather serve the proliferation of death and prepare their own devouring by death. 
"In our times, the drums of death and darkness beat frantically. Some fellow men believe that the eradication of other fellow men is a praiseworthy and beneficial act, but they are seriously mistaken. Unfortunately, the annihilation and suppression of the weakest by the strongest dominates..."

Patriarchal Encyclical for Holy Pascha 2014
Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch
Pravmir — April 22, 2014

Christ is Risen!

Come, brethren and children in the Lord, receive the light from the unwaning Light of the Phanar, the Holy Center of the Orthodox, and let us all together and jointly glorify “Christ, Who is risen from the dead.”

The emotional state of the Lord’s disciples was grim after His Crucifixion, because by the Lord’s death on the Cross the hopes of His disciples were dispersed that He and they would one day prevail as political power. They had perceived the triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, following the resurrection of Lazarus and the miraculous feeding of five thousand men, with additional women and children, by five loaves of bread and two fish, as a prelude of their conquering of secular authority. The mother of two of them moreover requested that her two sons sit by each side of the Lord, when He came to power. All these, however, dissipated as childish imaginations on account of the awful execution of Jesus Christ.

But, one Saturday morning, the Myrrh Bearers found the tomb empty and heard from an Angel that Jesus was risen from the dead. Shortly after, they saw Him in a different state not allowing the Myrrh Bearers to touch Him. This unexpected development of the situation caused the people close to Jesus to wonder about what was to happen next. They did not receive the answer right away. They were told to wait with patience and endurance until they received strength from above. Obeying the command, they waited until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down and revealed to them, in fullness, their new mission. This mission did not call for the liberation of one nation from its slavery bondages by another nation; instead it called for the liberation of all humanity from its enslavement by the master of evil and evil itself. This was another great mission and different from the one they had dreamt about.

The inconceivable commandment calling for the preaching of the message of man’s deliverance from the slavery of death took them by surprise; nevertheless they undertook it with zeal and preached the message everywhere and saved and continue to save many from death. There is the first among the dead, the risen Jesus, Who offers to all the gift of resurrection and eternal life, a life that is not subjected any longer to corruptibility, because man in the resurrected state is like an angel of God in heaven who no longer has a fleshly body but a spiritual one.

We experience already the foretaste of this blessed resurrected state when we carry our fleshly garment in a way by which we do not taste the substance of death, that is the distancing from God’s love, but feel that we transition from the natural death of our fleshly body to the higher life of our spiritual body through the loving knowledge of the Person of the Lord, a knowledge which equals towards eternal life.

Therefore, we are not simply in anticipation of the resurrection of the dead as an event that will take place in the distant future, but we partake in it now, and are jubilant and cry out along with Saint John Chrysostom: Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? We were resurrected alongside Jesus Christ and experience the end of times as present reality and present reality as the end of times. The resurrection permeates our being and fills us with joy. Exactly like the joy the disciples felt when they were saying that the Lord was risen.

We continue the work of the Apostles. We convey to the world the message of the resurrection. We preach knowingly that death must not have a place in our life for it offers no benefit to humanity. The ones who seek to improve social life by killing fellow humans do not offer good service to the living. They rather serve the proliferation of death and prepare their own devouring by death.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tony Blair: Fighting Islamism – A Defining Challenge of Our Time

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a landmark speech this week calling on the world to unite against Islamism. The speech is being compared to Winston Churchill's famous 1946 warning about the descent of the Iron Curtain. Key excerpt from Blair's speech:
"There is not a region of the world not adversely affected by Islamism and the ideology is growing..." 
See also: Tony Blair says West, Russia and China should fight “radicalized Islam”

Tony Blair: Fighting Islamism – A Defining Challenge of Our Time
The Clarion Project — April 24, 2014

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivering his keynote address at Bloomberg
Tony Blair, the Former British Prime Minister, delivered a keynote speech at Bloomberg HQ in London entitled 'Why the Middle East Still Matters.' In it he described radical Islam as the greatest threat facing the world today.

He argued "there are four reasons why the Middle East remains of central importance and cannot be relegated to the second order."

The first three: oil, proximity to Europe and Israel, whilst important, were not the focus of the speech. Blair rapidly moved on to the fourth and most important reason: Islamic extremism also known as Islamism.

He identifies the conflict in the Middle East as one between an open and tolerant viewpoint and a fundamentalist Islamist ideology. He said "wherever you look – from Iraq to Libya to Egypt to Yemen to Lebanon to Syria and then further afield to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan – this is the essential battle."

Addressing those who regard these conflicts as distinct he said "there is something frankly odd about the reluctance to accept what is so utterly plain: that they have in common a struggle around the issue of the rightful place of religion, and in particular Islam, in politics."

It is this central point that he hammered home again and again over the course of his 40 minute speech.

He argued that this struggle does not end at the borders of the region. Rather, "The reason this matters so much is that this ideology is exported around the world." 

In Easter Message, Patriarch John X (Yazigi) says Syria's Christians won't yield to extremists

Faith and Strength from the Orthodox Christian Patriarch of Antioch, "where the disciples were first called Christians." (Acts 11:26)

Fox News via Pravoslavie — April 22, 2014

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Syria says Christians in the war-ravaged country "will not submit and yield" to extremists who attack "our people and holy places."

In comments to mark Easter, Patriarch John Yazigi called on the warring sides to end the practice of "intimidation, displacement, extremism and takfiri mentality," a term for Islamic extremists. Such radicals have become increasingly influential among rebels, attacking Christians who they see as infidels and partly as punishment for what they consider Christians' support for President Bashar Assad.

Yazigi's message was carried by Syria's official news agency late Saturday. Christians represent about five per cent of Syria's population. Assad's forces and rebels trying to overthrow him are locked in a civil war in which more than 150,000 people have been killed. FOX News

© Pravoslavie.Ru

Temple Mount now central Israeli-Palestinian flashpoint

Jerusalem's importance grows as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks flounder.  Both Jewish and Muslim leaders call the situation a "war of religion." Apocalyptic clouds on the horizon?

by Ben Caspit, AL Monitor — April 22, 2014

The conflict around the Temple Mount is increasing as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks might be on the verge of collapse.

Israeli policemen run in front of the Dome of the Rock during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians after Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, Feb. 7, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

Assessments of the situation as well as in-depth intelligence reviews by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) regarding mounting tensions in the territories do not, for the time being, include warnings about a possible violent conflagration between the Palestinians and Israelis. For now, a third intifada is not featured among the working papers, forecasts or charts of plausible scenarios and expectations for the coming year. To extricate itself from its serious diplomatic and operational isolation and improve its standing among the Palestinian public, Hamas is trying to set the territories on fire. As a result, the number of terrorist attacks has risen steadily as has the number of disturbances.
The above notwithstanding, we are not talking about the orchestrated activity of organized cells, but more about what Israelis call “mood-based attacks.”

According to IDF and Shin Bet assessments, there is still no pent-up, popular energy just waiting for a volatile incident to turn it into a wave of violence. The Palestinian public has yet to forget the horrors of the previous intifada, which left some 4,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis dead. Israel’s greatest fear is a “diplomatic intifada” — called here the “South African intifada” — which will be inflicted on it in UN institutions and accompanied by a series of international boycotts and anti-Israeli measures.

On the other hand, a well-known adage in the Israeli air force goes, “The one that will shoot you down is the one you can’t see.” With or without intelligence assessments, tension in the territories is growing. Clashes on the Temple Mount — pitting Palestinian youths, Hamas militants and Salafist activists against thousands of Jews, mostly right-wingers attempting day after day to get to the Temple Mount to exercise their freedom of religion — have reached a new peak during this year's Passover holiday in April.

The Appearances of the Risen Jesus

by Fr Steven Kostoff, Orthodox Christian Meditations
Originally published April 20, 2012.


On this Bright Friday, I would again like to turn to and draw from a current book I am reading – Believing in the Resurrection – by the biblical scholar Gerald O’Collins, renowned for his tireless commitment over the years of studying the resurrection of Christ in a nearly exhaustive manner.

 The third chapter of this most recent and admirable study is entitled “The Appearances of the Risen Jesus.” This chapter is meant to explore the reliability and meaning of the many appearances of the Risen Christ to various of His disciples. O’Collins also lists and critiques the usual objections to these appearances of Christ.

 For the moment, I would simply like to share his carefully constructed list of these appearances “to groups and individuals:”

  • To “the twelve” (I COR. 15:3)
  • To “the eleven and those with them” (LK. 24:33-49)
  • To “those who came up with him [Jesus] from Galilee” (ACTS 13:31)
  • To “the disciples” (JN. 20:19-23; MK. 16:7)
  • To “all the apostles” (I COR. 15:7; obviously in Paul’s list a distinct and larger group than the Twelve)
  • To Simon Peter and six others (JN. 21:1-14)
  • To “more than five hundred brothers and sisters” (I COR. 15:6)
  • To Cleopas and his companion (LK. 24:13-35)
  • To Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (MATT. 28:9-10)
  • To Mary Magdalene (JN. 20:11-18; MK. 16:9-11)
  • To Cephas/Peter (I COR. 15:5; MK. 16:7; LK. 24:34)
  • To James (I COR. 15:7)
  • To Saul/Paul (for example, I COR. 9:1; 15:8; ACTS 9:1-9) (p. 61)

What is quite interesting, is that when O’Collins addresses the skeptical counter-theories that attempt to discredit the testimony of these appearance of the Risen Lord, he makes the telling point that these skeptical theories invariably do not address the multiplicity and variety of these appearances. In other words, the “hallucinations” theory hardly takes into account the various persons involved; the various settings; and even the chronological factor (Paul comes a few years later than the Twelve).

Bright Friday: The Life Giving Spring of the Mother of God

Today we commemorate the Life-Giving Spring of the Most Holy Theotokos. 

The church dedicated to this unique visitation and miracle of the Theotokos has been desecrated several times by Muslims — even as recently as 1955 — yet rebuilt each time, by the intercessions of our All-Holy Lady.

There once was a beautiful church in Constantinople dedicated to the Mother of God, which had been built in the fifth century by the holy Emperor Leo the Great (January 20) in the Seven Towers district.

Before becoming emperor, Leo was walking in a wooded area where he met a blind man who was thirsty and asked Leo to help him find water. Though he agreed to search for water, he was unable to find any. Suddenly, he heard a voice telling him that there was water nearby. He looked again, but still could not find the water. Then he heard the voice saying “Emperor Leo, go into the deepest part of the woods, and you will find water there. Take some of the cloudy water in your hands and give it to the blind man to drink.Then take the clay and put it on his eyes. Then you shall know who I am.” Leo obeyed these instructions, and the blind man regained his sight. Later, St Leo became emperor, just as the Theotokos had prophesied.

Leo built a church over the site at his own expense, and the water continued to work miraculous cures. Therefore, it was called “The Life-Giving Spring.”

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the church was torn down by the Moslems, and the stones were used to build a mosque. Only a small chapel remained at the site of the church. Twenty-five steps led down into the chapel, which had a window in the roof to let the light in. The holy Spring was still there, surrounded by a railing.

After the Greek Revolution in 1821, even this little chapel was destroyed and the Spring was buried under the rubble. Christians later obtained permission to rebuild the chapel, and work began in July of 1833. While workmen were clearing the ground, they uncovered the foundations of the earlier church. The Sultan allowed them to build not just a chapel, but a new and beautiful church on the foundations of the old one.

Construction began on September 14, 1833, and was completed on December 30, 1834. Patriarch Constantine II consecrated the church on February 2, 1835, dedicating it to the Most Holy Theotokos.

The Turks desecrated and destroyed the church again on September 6, 1955. A smaller church now stands on the site, and the waters of the Life-Giving Spring continue to work miracles.

There is also a Life-Giving Spring Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos which is commemorated on April 4.


O most favored by God, you confer on me the healing of your grace from your inexhaustible Spring. Therefore, since you gave birth incomprehensibly to the Word, I implore you to refresh me with the dew of your grace that I might cry to you: Hail, O Water of salvation.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Syria: Jihadists Crucify 2 Christian Youths Who Refuse to Convert to Islam

Google Translate from this Croatian Catholic site.
Originally posted in English by Atlas Shrugs, April 22, 2014

Islamists have been crucified and the other gruesome ways of killing Christians who refused to renounce faith.

In the occupied towns and villages , jihadists and extremist Muslim groups Christians offered Shahada ( a sentence that expresses the foundation of Islamic belief ) or death … They thought it was unacceptable to give up their faith and therefore suffered martyrdom , the nurse said Raghida , former head of the Christian school in Damascus Vatican Radio 

Islam or death ! - Choice of the front of which are in the height of the conflict in Syria found many Syrian Christians , and about the atrocities that affected the Christian population of the Middle Eastern country , once known for the harmonious coexistence of Muslims and Christians , spoke sister Raghida , former head of the Christian school in Damascus .

Hamas deal last straw for Congress on US aid to Palestinians

This important, bi-partisan development in US Congress could help firm up US resistance to radical Islam in general.

by Julian Pecquet, AL Monitor — April 23, 2014

Wednesday's announcement of a reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah triggered an instant call for retaliation on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the author of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, called for an immediate suspension of US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The 2006 law, passed after Hamas won that year's legislative elections, prohibits support for a "Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority."

"The Administration must halt aid to the Palestinian Authority and condition any future assistance as leverage to force Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] to abandon this reconciliation with Hamas and to implement real reforms within the PA," Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East, said in a statement. "U.S. law is clear on the prohibition of U.S. assistance to a unity Palestinian government that includes Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, and President [Barack] Obama must not allow one cent of American taxpayer money to help fund this terrorist group."

Her Democratic counterpart on the subcommittee, Ted Deutch of Florida, issued a similar warning.

"President Abbas now stands at a pivotal crossroad — does he want peace with Israel or reconciliation with Hamas?" Deutch said. "Be certain that the Palestinian Authority will face significant consequences if a unity government is formed that includes terrorist members of Hamas."

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, flatly said the move "jeopardizes US assistance."

Turkey Still Haunted By Genocide a Hundred Years Later

The author fails to understand that the Muslim Turks' early 20th century genocide against the Armenian Christians was fueled by Islamic scriptures, teaching and worldview. Islam is the cause of the Armenian Genocide, and the Turkish leaders' hysterical protests against it are consistent with all Muslim responses to historical proof of jihad and genocide committed by Muslims in the name of Islam and Allah in the fourteen centuries since Muhammad set the global jihad in motion.

Turkey Still Haunted By Genocide a Hundred Years Later
By Harut Sassounian, The California Courier
AINA — April 22, 2014

Still image from the documentary 'Ravished Armenia' about the Armenian Genocide.

Every time that the Armenian Genocide is mentioned anywhere in the world, Turkish officials protest hysterically like children caught with the hand in the cookie jar!

The Turkish leaders' psychotic behavior could be explained by their guilty conscience, despite public protestations of innocence, knowing full well that their ancestors did indeed commit one of the most heinous crimes in the annals of history -- genocide!

Last week, the world witnessed yet another manifestation of Turkish temper tantrums when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, despite heavy-handed pressure from the Ankara regime and its highly compensated lobbying firms, adopted Resolution 410 on the Armenian Genocide with a 12 to 5 vote. This is the first time in a quarter century that this body has approved such a Resolution.

Turkey ‘Aided Islamist Fighters’ in Attack on Syrian Christian Town

Rapidly re-Islamizing Turkey is openly complicit in the Syrian jihad and Muslim persecution of Syrian and Armenian Christians. In fact, it is a perpetuation of the Armenian Genocide of a century ago. 

OCP Media — April 15, 2014
By Ruth Sherlock
The Telegraph - 15/4/14

A severely damaged house in the Armenian Christian town of Kasab (Photo: REUTERS).

Turkey facilitated an attack carried out by Islamist fighters against the Armenian town of Kasab inside Syria, eyewitnesses have told the Telegraph.

In an operation that was months in the planning, Turkish authorities gave rebel groups the mandate they needed to attack, allowing them access through a heavily militarised Turkish border post, whose location was strategically vital to the success of the assault.

“Turkey did us a big favour,” said a Syrian activist with the rebel group, whose name the Telegraph knows but has been asked not to reveal. “They allowed our guys to enter from their border post.

“We needed to hit the regime from different sides and this was the only way from near the coast, so it was a big help.”

Kasab, the ancestral home of the Armenian [Christian] ethnic minority in Syria, which had remained relatively sheltered from the conflict in Syria.

Debate Continues over Construction of Mosque in Athens, Greece

For background on this story, see my posts here, here and here. The Turkish Muslims are holding the shuttered Halki Seminary hostage in order to extort Greece to capitulate and speed the building of mosques in Athens. Allowing a mosque in Athens would set a dire precedent, and would only bring strife and crime and open jihad to the already tumultuous Greek capitol.

The Greek Orthodox were conquered and enslaved by Muslims once already. Let's hope and pray they hold firm against this form of stealth jihad. For resources on resisting mosque expansions, see my post, Challenging Mosques: Tools for Education and Legal Resistance.

Mayoral candidate's proposal of city-wide referendum supported by Orthodox hierarchs, public presumed to be strongly against the mosque.
Pravoslavie — April 8, 2014

(Athens, April 4, 2014) The proposal of Athens mayoral candidate Aris Spiliotopoulos of submitting the issue of the construction of a mosque in the city to a referendum is supported by many hierarchs of the Church of Greece, reports Romfea. 

Aris Spiliotopoulos, an Athens mayoral candidate, has declared that if he is elected mayor, he will then hold a referendum at which the citizens must clearly express their opinion concerning the construction of a mosque in Athens, voting “for” or “against”.

“Athens citizens are those who will decide, and the holding of the referendum is the most democratic path which we must follow,” commented a metropolitan from Attica, who wished to remain anonymous, reports Romfea. 

“Ask the city-dwellers,” the metropolitan continued, “whether the taking of such a poll is even discussed among the people. Everybody is definitely against any idea of building of a mosque in Athens”.

© Pravoslavie.Ru

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

'Every Friday is a Day of Death' for Christians in Cairo

ICC Note: The situation in Egypt continues to deteriorate for the nation's Christians. As systematic kidnappings of Christians plagues the Minia region to its south, reports confirm the brutal murder of a Christian woman by Muslim Brotherhood radicals in Cairo. Viciously stabbed to death, Mary Sameh George was murdered for hanging a cross from her review mirror. The mob responsible for her death set fire to Mary's car shortly after taking her life, sending a message of repression and violence to Christians local to Ain Shams.

04/22/2014 Egypt (GlobalDispatch) - A shocking new report details an Islamic mob of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt attacking and murdering a Christian woman for having a cross hanging on her car mirror. The report on Monday chronciles eyewitness account of the beating, stabbing, and shooting death of Mary Sameh George in Cairo on March 28.

“Every Friday the supporters of Muslim Brotherhood organize a march after Friday prayer in Ain Shams,” the witness told the International Christian Concern (ICC). Identified only as Wahid, he says that “On this Friday afternoon, violent clashes took place between the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the security forces during their march.”

A Plea To Free Kidnapped Syrian Bishops

Marking the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Bishops John and Paul of Aleppo, Syria.

By Wolfgang Danspeckgruber
Huffington Post via OCP Media - April 22, 2014

It is now precisely a year, 365 days, since the kidnapping of the two Metropolitans of Aleppo, the Syriac-Orthodox Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi, which took place on the road between Aleppo and the Turkish border on April 22, 2013.

The kidnappers murdered the driver on the spot while a fourth person in the car managed to escape unharmed. While rumors abound, and we have endured a host of different reports and messages concerning life, injury, or death, to date there have been no verifiable signs of the two Metropolitans – neither of life nor of death. The Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox churches in Aleppo have been missing their leaders. In addition to pastoral work, the churches also operate schools and hospitals, and run humanitarian programs for all persons in need, regardless of their color or creed.

The location of the Metropolitans and their state of health, as well as the identity and aims of their kidnappers, is still unclear. According to multiple media reports, it is assumed that Abu al Banat and a jihadist Group of Chechen led the kidnapping. 

For Gregorios III, the destruction of Ma’aloula churches is a ‘war crime’

"It is an Apocalyptic spectacle... It is the mystery of iniquity that one sees at work." — Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch

by Fady Noun, Asia News — April 22, 2014

The patriarch visited the village of Ma'aloula after the army took it back from the Islamist al-Nusra Front. ""An apocalyptic spectacle presented itself," he said. The West is watching the destruction of Syria "with criminal indifference".

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Gregorios III Laham, Greek-Melkite Catholics patriarch of Antioch, described the destruction of Ma'aloula churches as "a war crime".

On Sunday, he was able to visit the historic Christian village, after the Syrian army retook it from the Islamist al-Nusra Front.

"It is the mystery of iniquity that one sees at work," he said, unable to find words strong enough to translate the feelings at the sight of desolation before him.

"It is the devastation of the Temple, the mystery of iniquity," he said in a telephone interview from Beirut, the night of his visit.

The Greek-Catholic patriarch travelled to the village with Greek-Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna Yazigi and representatives of the Syriac Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Syriac Catholic Patriarchates, accompanied by some journalists and security officers.

France: Muslim unfolds prayer carpet in church, reads Qur’anic verses during Easter mass

Comments by Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch — April 22, 2014

This is clearly a gesture of supremacism. Imagine the uproar if a Christian had entered a mosque and begun to read from the New Testament and pray Christian prayers. But no one will take any notice of this. Western authorities take Islamic supremacism for granted. They aren’t even aware of the fact that Islam claims all the Biblical prophets, and Jesus as well, as Muslim prophets, and have no knowledge of or interest in the implications of that fact. But those implications will eventually become quite clear to them.

“France: Muslim unfolds prayer carpet in church, reads Koranic verses during Easter mass,” Creeping Sharia, April 21 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

The worshippers present at the scene were dumbfounded. This Sunday morning, 
in a collegiate church full to bursting, a man wearing a djellaba and headgear came to pray. He laid a carpet to the left of the altar, while the Easter mass was underway.

The man, visibly disturbed, read verses from the Koran before writing some lines in Arabic in the parish register. After having caused disruption for the first time during the mass on Palm Sunday one week ago in la Bedugue then in the collegiate church, some worshippers had warned the police.

A team came to ask him to leave the premises, calmly. The deputy commissioner, who had been notified of this disruption to public order, insisted on specifying: “We don’t need to generalise. This inappropriate attitude comes from an individual who is clearly disturbed.”


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pascha in Afghanistan

Pravmir — April 22, 2014
Fr Sean Levine, OCA Wonder Blog

Thousands of miles away from the safe parishes of the United States, I sensed that I had been instrumental in bringing Pascha to exactly the place where it was the most “needed.”

Pascha takes place in the spring; the season of increasing light that comes as the world emerges from the darkness of winter. While the Feast of Nativity takes place at the darkest point of the year, the Feast of Feasts takes place within the context of increasing light after the long months of darkness. In both Feasts, we celebrate the emergence (or breaking through) of light in the midst of the dark. Nowhere have I experienced the profundity of this reality more poignantly than at Kandahar Airfield, Regional Command South, Afghanistan.

Fr Daniel Byantoro: Christ, Our True 'Qurban'

Pascha is the ideal time to post this powerful message from Fr Daniel, encapsulating the heart of the Gospel not only for Christians, but for Muslims whom the Lord is drawing to Himself:

"Holy Week and Pascha are when the mystery of the healing and restoration of our nature is manifested... Hence we are made near to God through the Sacrifice of Christ; Christ is our true Qurban."

by Fr Daniel Byantoro — Friends of Indonesia
Originally published January 13, 2012

In the Feast of Sacrifice pilgrimage, Muslims perform rituals at and around their holiest shrine, the Ka’ba, in Mecca. The ritual itself reminds them of what they believe to be the reenactment of Abraham’s near Sacrifice of his son (Ishmael not Isaac according to Muslims) which God replaced with an animal sacrifice. At the conclusion of their rituals, they slaughter animal sacrifices, called “Qurban,” to be distributed to the poor.

This word “Qurban” was also used by the Jews during the time of Christ to signify anything that is sacrificed to God, as it is said:” “But you say, `If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me [is] Corban” (that is, a gift to God) (Mark 7:11).

This word is also used by the Syriac Orthodox Christians for the Divine Liturgy/Holy Communion in the form of “Holy Qurbana,” and is also used by the Coptic Orthodox Christians for the “prosphora” bread, which they simply called it as “Qurban”.

In itself the word “Corban/Qurban” is derived from the word “Qarab/Qarib” which means “to be near/to be close”. Therefore a Qurban is a sacrifice that makes the sacrificer closer to God; it is a way to unite with God.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Russian people, like Noah, urged not to let the world finally sink in sin, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin believes

Fr Vsevolod is one of the more rare prophetic voices in the Orthodox world today, articulating a robust Christian-spiritual view of world events and history. 

Pravmir — April 17, 2014

Moscow, April 16, Interfax – Humanity deserves the new “Flood,” but Russia is called to be the Noah’s Ark, head of the Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin believes.

“If suddenly something like the Flood happens, it will be justified. If the Lord with human hands punishes big cities it will even more justified. But we still believe and hope that time for repentance will be prolonged and an example of spiritual resurrection and renovation of the whole nation will be shown in the history before the end of times, and thus sin will be condemned and people will be shown the way to another holy life,” the priest writes in his article published in Rus Derzhavnaya paper.

He believes that today Russian people has such a possibility.

Greek Cypriots in Landmark Easter Mass in Turkish-Held North

This report may indicate some cautious optimism.

Pravmir — April 18, 2014

Greek Cypriots have been authorized to hold a Good Friday mass at a church in the Turkish-held town of Famagusta on divided Cyprus for the first time in decades.

Famagusta mayor-in-exile Alexis Galanos said Friday’s landmark service at Saint George Exorinos church will send a message of reconciliation on one of the most important dates in the Greek Orthodox calendar.

It will be the Famagusta church’s first Easter service for almost 60 years, said Galanos who joined forces with Turkish Cypriot mayor Oktay Kayalp to organize the mass expected to draw about 4,000 worshipers.

Retired army general wants Egypt’s St. Catherine’s Monastery demolished

Pravmir — April 17, 2014

Ahmed Ragai Attiya says that the historic UNESCO site in South Sinai poses a threat to Egypt's national security, after the monks turned it into 'a place for foreigners'.

Sherry El-Gergawi, 13 Apr 2014 — Ahram Online

A retired army general says he has filed a court case pushing for Egypt’s historic Saint Catherine’s Monastery to be demolished and its Greek monks deported on the grounds that they pose a threat to national security.

In May 2012, Ahmed Ragai Attiya obtained 71 administrative orders regarding the demolition of the monastery’s multiple churches, monk cells, gardens and other places of interest on the grounds, which he claims were all built in 2006 and thus not historic, according to Ihab Ramzy, the monastery’s lawyer.

However, in an interview with private channel ONTV on Thursday, Attiya said that he has now used the 71 orders to file an official demolition suit with Ismailiya’s Administrative Court against the monastery and 10 of the Egyptian authorities concerned, including the president, ministers of tourism and antiquities and the governor of South Sinai, where Saint Catherine’s is located.

In the same ONTV interview, Attiya levelled a host of accusations against the monastery’s monks, alleging that they have changed the names of landmarks in the surrounding area and tried to hide an underground water source known as Moses’ Well (Oyun Moussa).

He also took issue with them supposedly raising the Greek flag on Egyptian land and turning the site into an area occupied by foreigners, both which he says are a breach of national security and Egyptian sovereignty.

Most of the Saint Catherine’s 37 monks are Greek.

Attiya, who in 1978 founded the Egyptian army’s special operations unit, made similar accusations regarding the monastery at the Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo in February.

Ramzy, the monastery’s lawyer, told Ahram Online that he denies all of Attiya’s claims against the monastery and its monks.

The abbot and monks at Saint Catherine’s are not authorised to even paint a wall without permission from Egypt’s antiquities ministry, let alone build new structures, Ramzy said, adding that the personnel on site are only there to guard the monastery.

The Historicity of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

Based on Fr Steven Kostoff's recommendation below, I purchased and have read the book he cites in this essay, and found it a real help. We must continually deepen our faith even while striving to acquire new approaches and modes of expression with which to share this faith with others. For, after all, this is the Faith which the Apostles spread throughout the known world following Christ's Ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is the Faith which has transformed the world!  CHRIST is RISEN!

The Historicity of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus
by Fr Steven Kostoff, Orthodox Christian Meditations
Originally published April 18, 2012


I always choose a good book or two about the Resurrection of Christ to read during the paschal season. The one that I have already started this week is by Gerald O’Collins, a Jesuit scholar, who has been carefully studying and writing about the resurrection for many years now. His newest book is entitled Believing in the Resurrection – The Meaning and Promise of the Risen Jesus. It promises to be an excellent book and a thorough study by a premiere biblical scholar. In addition to his own careful analysis of the biblical evidence, O’Collins also surveys and critiques the most significant works that have been published in the last ten years or so from scholars on the “resurrection question/debate” in the New Testament. The author has emerged over the years as one of the most renowned defenders of the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Christ. Any other conclusion for O’Collins is a betrayal of the evidence – and a betrayal of the Christian Gospel. As both a scholar and a man of Christian faith, he very steadily and thoroughly builds up an impressive case for that claim, and for the centrality and reliability of the New Testament data concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Yet, O’Collins goes beyond a defense of the historicity of the resurrection accounts, and wants to further elaborate on what the resurrection means for our own human destiny – a destiny that the New Testament reveals as the “resurrection of the dead” - and for the sacramental and ethical life of Christian believers. The risen Jesus is present, and this presence is confirmed and convincingly conveyed by the simultaneous presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the resurrection is first about Jesus; but then it is about us, His followers and disciples, and the relationship we create with Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, and the “life” that we have in His Name.

Hopefully, I will be able to share a few summaries of his rich biblical exegesis over the paschal season on these inter-related themes of such great importance for Christian faith. The Preface opens with an intriguing question:

Is Jesus merely a great but dead hero, or is he a risen, living presence? That troubling question of enormous significance has been around for two thousand years. (p. v)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Ultimate Source of Islamic Hate for Infidels

by Raymond Ibrahim — CBN News — April 15, 2014

Who is ultimately responsible for the ongoing attacks on Christians and their churches throughout the Islamic world?

Focusing on one of the most obvious nations where Christians are regularly targeted—Egypt’s Coptic Christians—one finds that the “mob” is the most visible and obvious culprit.  One Copt accused of some transgression against Muslim sensibilities—from having relations with a Muslim woman, to ruining a Muslim man’s shirt—is often enough to prompt Muslim mobs to destroy entire Christian villages and their churches.

Recently, for example, after her cross identified Mary Sameh George as a Christian, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood mob attacked, beat, and slaughtered her.

However, a recent Arabic op-ed titled “Find the True Killer of Mary” looks beyond the mob to identify the true persecutor of Christians in Egypt. According to it:

Those who killed the young and vulnerable Mary Sameh George, for hanging a cross in her car, are not criminals, but rather wretches who follow those who legalized for them murder, lynching, dismemberment, and the stripping bare of young Christian girls—without every saying “kill.”  [Islamic cleric] Yassir Burhami and his colleagues who announce their hate for Christians throughout satellite channels and in mosques—claiming that hatred of Christians is synonymous with love for God—they are the true killers who need to be tried and prosecuted…  The slayers of Mary Sameh are simply a wretched mob, with the body of a bull but the brain of a worm.  It’s not the puppets on the string who need punishing, but rather the mastermind who moves the puppets with his bloody fingers behind closed curtains that needs punishing.

One fact certainly validates this Arabic op-ed’s assertions: the overwhelming majority of attacks on Christians in Egypt and other Muslim nations—including the slaughter of Mary Sameh George—occur on Friday, the one day of the week that Muslims congregate in mosques for communal prayers and to hear sermons.

The significance of this fact can easily be understood by analogy: what if Christians were especially and consistently violent to non-Christian minorities on Sunday—right after they got out of church?  What would that say about what goes on in Christian churches?

What does it say about what goes on in Muslim mosques?

'You Will Know Why You Are Alive'

"Let no temptation overcome you, let no darkness cloud your path, and no trial come upon you in which you do not immediately turn to Christ our All-merciful God, Who has trampled upon death and abolished the power of the devil. Remain in Christ's grace and He will guide you all to salvation. 

"Remember the end of our life, the never-setting day of Christ's Kingdom, and you will know why you are alive and for what you are striving. 

"Christ is Risen!"

~ Fr. Seraphim Rose (†1982)



A Radiant and Joyous Pascha to all my readers and visitors! 

No matter how dark and terrifying the times, or the threats from the enemy, Christ has triumphed over the world, the grave and the devil.

He is the Way, leading us out from false and deceitful paths!
He is the Truth, dispelling all lies and falsehood!
He is the Life, raising us up from death and saving us from all our vain endeavors which do not save.
If we will but strive to follow Him, and obey Him, He rejoices to make us sharers in His Light, His Life, even His divinity.
His Light shines even unto the lowest hell, where He Himself descended to free the captives.
In Him we are established!

Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday - The Encounter with Death

by Fr Steven C, Kostoff, Orthodox Christian Meditations
Originally published May 8, 2013

I would like to share a particularly insightful passage from the writings of Fr. Alexander Schmemann from his over-all analysis of the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday (always served on Friday evening “in anticipation”).  This is one of the longest services of Holy Week, attended by many, and highlighted by our common vigil around the tomb of the crucified and buried Lord, and culminating in a procession that takes us outside and around the church. 

This procession with the Epitaphion (burial shroud) – actualizing the passage of Christ through the darkness of death and Hades – proclaims that nevertheless, Christ is the Holy Immortal One that death and Hades cannot hold in their respective grips.  There occurs here what Fr. Alexander calls “the encounter with death.”  And it is because of death that Fr. Alexander claims “the entire universe has become a cosmic cemetery … condemned to death and destruction.”  

Thus, this encounter between the Son of God and death has a truly cosmic and timeless meaning imparted to it. The “hour” of the Son of God has now arrived, and this “hour” is that of His death, actualized, commemorated and and made present through the liturgical services of the Church.

It is here that Fr. Schmemann has a wonderful paragraph that beautifully explains what happens when death must encounter the voluntary death of Christ:

“Now this hour has come and the Son of God enters into Death.  The Fathers usually describe this moment as a duel between Christ and Death, Christ and Satan.  For this death was to be either the last triumph of Satan, or his decisive defeat.  The duel develops in several stages.  At first, the forces of evil seem to triumph.  The Righteous One is crucified, abandoned by all, and endures a shameful death.  He also becomes the partaker of “Hades,” of this place of darkness and despair … but at this very moment, the real meaning of this death is revealed.  The One who dies on the Cross has Life in Himself, i.e., He has life not as a gift from outside, a gift which  therefore can be taken away from Him, but as His own essence.  For He is the Life and the Source of all life.  “In Him was Life and the Life was the light of man” (JN 1:4).  The man Jesus dies, but this Man is the Son of God.  As man, He can really die, but in Him, God Himself enters the realm of death, partakes of death. This is the unique, the incomparable meaning of Christ’s death.  In it, the man who dies is God, or to be more exact, the God-Man.  God is the Holy Immortal; and only in the unity “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation” of God and Man in Christ can human death be “assumed” by God and be overcome and destroyed from within, be “trampled down by death.”

This is the ultimate expression of the Church’s “Death of God” theology.  In the Person of the Son of God incarnate, God experiences death from within.  For the Son of God dies in the human nature that He has made His own once and for all.  This is more properly called the theopaschite formula; again, meaning that we can ascribe death to God – not in His divine nature for that nature remains eternally impassible - but in His human nature that suffers passion on our behalf.  There is therefore no human experience that Christ does not experience on our behalf – and that includes death itself.  Thus, in the “praises” we chant in front of the tomb of the Savior, we proclaim our faith in His life-giving death:

O Life, how canst Thou die?
How can Thou dwell in a tomb?
Yet by Thy death Thou hast destroyed
   the reign of death,
and raised all the dead from hell.

In a tomb they laid Thee,
O Christ the Life.
By Thy death Thou hast cast down the
  might of death
and become the font of life for all the world.

Holy Saturday is thus the “Blessed Sabbath” that “great Moses mystically foreshadowed” [as we sing in the great hymn on this day].  The Son of God “rests” in the tomb on this Sabbath, having completed His work of re-creation by dying and reigning on and from the Tree of Life – the wood of the Cross.  That is why Holy Saturday is imbued with a sense of profound expectation, in that we already know that the Lord will arise again, death having no dominion over Him.  Holy Saturday is the day of transition and transformation - from the Cross to the Empty Tomb.