BYZANTINE SPIRITUALITY WEB LINKS

Fresco of Sts Constantine and Helena, Haghia Triada Greek Catholic Cathedral, Athens, Greece

Byzantine Christians have a deep devotion to the Theotokos, and the following sites are witness to that fact both historically as well as today.

 An enlightening reflection on Mary, Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos, is provided by Bro. John Samaha.

Bro. John's principal points are well illustrated by praying the Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos, the text of which may be viewed here.

Empress Helena, pictured above, found the cave in Magdouche used by Our Lady to await Her Divine Son during His visit to Sidon; this is now a pilgrimage site dedicated to Our Lady al-Mantara, Our Lady "of the Awaiting".

To learn about how Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos is active in our churches today, read about the miraculous signs and occurrences involving Myrna in Soufanieh, Syria.  See our Links and Resources page for the link to the Our Lady of Zeitun site.

Some of the great holy men and women of whom Byzantine Christians venerate their memory as models of Christina behavior and seek their intercession with God in prayer have sites dedicated to them:

St. Gregory of Nyssa

St. Gregory Nazianzen

St. John Chrysostom

St. Maximos the Confessor on Deification

For a brief introduction to the life and writings of St. Athanasius

Archbishop Joseph Raya: Passage to Heaven  : on the late Archbishop Joseph, one of the great figures of the Byzantine Catholic churches in our times, see the Madonna House tribute.

Thoughts on the Resurrection from Evagrius Ponticus

Evagrius Ponticus - a major influence in the Byzantine tradition and a saint of the Armenian and Georgian Orthodox Churches, who share much of our Byzantine tradition.

The lovely icon and vita of a favorite saint of our Society, a New Martyr under the Turkish Yoke, St. Ahmet the Calligrapher had been removed from its old home.  We are now able to offer the following about St. Ahmed:

 

ST AHMED THE CALLIGRAPHER

The holy New Martyr Ahmed was born in the seventeenth century to a Muslim family in Constantinople. By profession he was a copyist in the Great Archives. In accordance with Ottoman law, since he did not have a wife, he had a slave instead, a Russian woman. Another captive from Russia lived together with her, an old woman, also a slave. Both these women were very pious.

On feast days the old woman would go to church. Taking the blessed bread or antidoron, she would give it to the young woman to eat. The old woman would also bring her holy water to drink. Whenever this occurred and Ahmed was close to her, he would smell a beautiful and indescribable fragrance coming out of her mouth. He would ask her what she was eating to make her mouth smell so fragrant. Not realizing what was happening, the slave would say that she was not eating anything. However, he persisted in asking. Eventually she told him that she was eating the bread which had been blessed by the priests, which the old woman brought her whenever she returned from church.

On hearing this, Ahmed was filled with longing to see the Orthodox church and how Orthodox received this blessed bread. Therefore he summoned a priest and told him to prepare a secret place for him, so that he could go when the Patriarch was serving the Liturgy. When the appointed day arrived, dressed as an Orthodox, he went to the Patriarchate and followed the Divine Liturgy. While he was in church, he saw the Patriarch shining with light and lifted off the floor, as he came out of the altar and through the holy doors to bless the people. As he blessed, rays of light came from his finger tips, but though the rays fell on the heads of all the Orthodox, they did not fall on Ahmed's head. This happened two or three times and each time Ahmed saw the same thing. Thus, Ahmed came to the faith. Without hesitation he sent for the priest, who gave him rebirth through baptism. Ahmed remained a secret Orthodox for some time, concealing his baptismal name, which is why it has not come down to us.

However, one day Ahmed and certain noblemen were eating together. Afterwards they sat talking and smoking, as is the Muslim custom. In the course of the conversation they began to discuss what the greatest thing in the world. Each gave his opinion. The first guest said that the greatest thing in the world was for a man to have wisdom. The second maintained that woman was the greatest thing in the world. And yet a third said that the greatest thing in the world, and by far the most delightful, was good food - for was this not the food of the righteous in paradise?

Then it was Ahmed's turn. They all turned to him, asking him for his opinion on this matter. Filled with holy zeal, Ahmed cried out that the greatest thing of all was the Faith of the Orthodox. And confessing himself to be a Christian, he boldly censured the falseness and deception of the Muslims. At first, on hearing this the Muslims were aghast. Then, filled with unspeakable rage, they fell on the holy martyr and dragged him to a judge, so that he could be sentenced to death. He was beheaded, receiving the crown of martyrdom on the orders of the ruler on 3 May 1682.

Holy Martyr Ahmed, pray to God for us!

Concerning the vexing question of the filioque, recently progress has been made, and a request has been sent by the USCCB to Rome for permission to implement the recommendations of this report , which contains the results of a joint study with SCOBA.



Haghia Triada Greek Catholic Cathedral, Athens, Greece

Historical & Cultural Background/Reference Sites

This site on "Romania", the Eastern Roman Empire, which also known as
the Byzantine Empire, may be useful for those who are unfamiliar with Byzantine
history.

French speakers interested in Byzantine studies, spiritual as well as secular,
will enjoy "Byzance".

Many sources and texts pertaining to various aspects of Byzantine spirituality,
history, and culture can be found on the Dumbarton Oaks site.

For the enduring Byzantine influence in Medieval Nubia see Faras Gallery.

Not just for mosaicists, The Forgotten Empire.

For those enchanted with our music, please visit the Byzantine Psalmody site which contains a vast amount of original text music, much also translated into English as well as  the MMB site. A new site not to be overlooked is Liturgica.com, which provides overviews of all the national musical variants that grew out of Byzantine chant.

For a detailed look at Byzantine Egypt, see the House of Ptolemy site on the Byzantine period, which contains many patristic texts and information about monasticism.

For those wishing to pursue the interrelationship between the Byzantines and the Ottomans, both before and after 1453, a German language site provides a comprehensive links page to sites in many languages covering various aspects of Byzantine and Ottoman history. 

Another view of Haghia Triada Greek Catholic Cathedral, Athens, Greece

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