Let’s bring our hearts closer to one another and let’s found a church!

  • Posted on: 5 October 2017
  • By: delia

Founding a church appears to be a simple action through which one man or a group of people decide to build a new place of prayer. But what does this mean, beyond the walls of such a place? Founding a church means choosing a piece of this beautiful earth (made once ‘extremely good’ by our God, but which man, due to the fall, defiled with much uncleanness and many sins), making it clean, adorning it as best as man can, blessing it and offering it back to God, as a meeting place with Him, with His brethren - that is your brethren, with the whole Church. A divine palace built up between the ruins of world on which the sun is setting. Heaven on earth.

Here we are, after six and a half years of service in the church of the Monastery ‘The Protection of the Mother of God’ in Vedrin, at whose foundation God appointed us to take part of. Now, the parish ‘All Saints’ is called to build a new meeting place, a new work to announce of the Kingdom of God, in Huldenberg, near the city of Leuven. If the Lord helps us and if we finish all the necessary works, with the blessing of our Metropolitan, Sunday October the 8th we will serve the first Divine Liturgy in our new church, at:

Sint-Jansbergsteenweg 44A 
3040 HULDENBERG (Loonbeek)

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‘My Parish is Essential to Me’ (I)

  • Posted on: 12 September 2017
  • By: delia

Article published in the magazine « The Orthodox Family » no. 97/February 2017

I read in one of Father Sophrony Sakharov’s books that, at a certain moment, a Russian woman living in France wrote to Saint Silouan. She asked him to pray for her so that she would not be forced to work in a city where she could not have a church. She confessed to Saint Silouan that she did not know what hell is, because she had not read much, but she imagined hell to be similar to modern life; full of comfort, only without prayers and without the Church. While reading these lines, I thought that our compatriots in the West live in the hell of faithlessness of those around them. Then I remembered the story that the same Father Sophrony told us often, that of the man who after his death arrived in hell and began to build a church. In the beginning the demons could not believe their eyes; afterwards, having understood that the man was indeed serious and wanted to carry through his plan, they held a meeting amongst themselves and threw him out of hell, sending him to Heaven.

 These things came to mind when my thoughts turned to our friends in Belgium who six years ago founded a monastery, but now they have to make one more time plans to build a new church: they truly desire Heaven! Hence, I called again Father Ciprian Gradinaru once again and we began to analyze their plans together...

- Father, since we have met, it seemed to me that one of your dearest topics for discussion is  the parish. Do you love talking about your parish?

Indeed. I like talking about the parish because, I could say, I love Christ’s church. I have understood that the fundamental reality of the Church is represented by the parish (or the monastic community, if we are referring to monks) of which I am part of, by the ‘local church’, how it is called – namely that community of Christians who gather in a certain place Sunday after Sunday, Liturgy after Liturgy, so that we might partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, uniting ourselves to Him, even becoming ourselves His body.

I cannot live the Church abstractly, I need to be well integrated in my parish, assuming it, understanding the importance of this belonging. When I truly belong to a certain parish, I truly am part of the Orthodox Church. My parish represents the essential expression of the Church and it is identical with all the other local Churches, due to the fact that my parish or my community confesses my Bishop’s faith, and my bishop finds himself in communion of faith with the other bishops of the other local Churches. Therefore, it is very important that the parish to which I belong is authentic.

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Encounters with God: from what I have lived and heard close to my Father and brothers and sisters in Christ (II)

  • Posted on: 8 June 2017
  • By: delia

When man knows himself and has acquired mastery over his own mind, he is like a skilled skier that knows how to elegantly pass through all the temptations that he meets on the way to his target - Christ. 

Notes on fasting  

Why does the Church establish fasting periods before all important feast days, before each important event of the liturgical year? Because that aim to which we all yearn has to be a joyful moment. We all know that happiness, even when it concerns earthly things, can only be obtained through labour. The greater the labour, the greater the joy is as well. All of us who have cheated on exams know that after we passed an exam by cheating we went for a drink in order to relax. Yet, not one of us was too happy. Something inside us was telling us that we were not well. Conversely, if you worked hard, studied hard, passing an exam would bring a great joy that filled your heart. Yet, this is only a pale image of what ought to be the labour that precedes joy in spiritual life. 

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Do you want to be a fellow-labourer of God?

  • Posted on: 6 January 2017
  • By: delia

Update 27 February 2017:

As we have been announcing over the past while, the Lord has gifted us with the chance to buy our own church.

Thanks to the love, the prayers, and the financial help you have offered, we have succeeded in raising the necessary sum to pay our taxes (to the state and to the notary) at the moment of purchase. Yet the road to converting the building into a church and school is arduous, for in addition to the credit that the parish needs to pay over the next ten years in order to become fully owner, there are important renovations, improvement, and safety works that are necessary in the building. We would rejoice if you would be able to participate in this “noble” founding of a church and school (for historically, only nobles and princes founded both churches and schools :-)), helping us according to your strength, and transmitting our request to others.

IBAN account: BE03 3631 2661 8584
BIC/SWIFT: BBRUBEBB
Beneficiary: PORTS asbl

****

In these seven years since the Lord has created a parish out of all of us – the “All Saints” parish –  we live and experience the Mystery of the Church together, which can make out of strangers, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our parish first began to take life in spirit, and then in body. From a few scattered meetings in the beginning, and then through thousands of confessions, hundreds of Liturgies and myriads of prayers, the Lord bound our hearts and slowly we became a family in Christ. In this family, we have welcomed all who have felt spiritually close to us, thus enlarging our hearts and expanding the “house” of our souls. Even if great distances, and even oceans, sometimes separate us, we are always close. Even if we see some of you only rarely, prayer for each other makes our hearts mysteriously and unceasingly closer.

Our parish needs to leave the church in Vedrin-Namur, and we have been looking for a church for about a year and a half. The Lord has heard our prayers and has recently granted us a great joy, on the eve of the great Feast of the Nativity of Christ: namely the occasion to purchase our own place. It is a rather spacious building in a village called Huldenberg, near the city of Leuven, where we would be able to continue our prayers and all the activities of parish life and of the Orthodox mission work in the West. Part of a former Catholic monastery, the building would permit the establishment of both the parish, as well as a school for our children. (As many of you already know, a few of the brothers and sisters from the parish created a foundation that inaugurated a private school this autumn. “Saint Silouan” school is based on Christian pedagogy, and desires to be for our children a Christian alternative to the official school system.)

We would rejoice and we would be very grateful if you would be able to help us. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Now is the time for founding for all those that wish it.

God works through people, and I would rejoice if this time, He works through you, our brother, our sister, that is reading these lines.

“To be charitable, we do not need money, but good will”, says Saint John Chrysostom, since the value of charity is not in the amount of what we give, but in the thought with which we give it. We thus assure you of our whole gratitude, promising commemoration in prayer, regardless of the amount of your gift.

The information necessary to make a bank transfer:

IBAN account: BE03 3631 2661 8584
BIC/SWIFT: BBRUBEBB
Beneficiary: PORTS asbl

 

We ask that you also add a short list of names to be commemorated (living and departed) for the future list of names commemorated as founders and benefactors of our church.

“May He remember every sacrifice of yours, may He give you according to your heart, may He fulfill all your counsel. We will greatly rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will be magnified. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. (Psalm 19)

Father Ciprian

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“Love is the seal of Truth”

  • Posted on: 18 April 2016
  • By: delia

Sermon by Fr. Ciprian Gradinaru to the “All Saints Parish”,
on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women, 26 April 2015,
one week after the dormition in Christ of our Spiritual Father Silouan Osseel

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

As the reading for today’s Divine Liturgy, the Church has chosen the part of Saint Mark's Gospel in which the Angel shows himself to the Myrrhbearing women, to bring them the news of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I will not talk to you about this today, but about another proof of the Resurrection. The Myrrhbearing women went to take care of a dead body and instead, they encountered the Resurrection. We have experienced the same thing a few days ago:we went to keep vigil and bid farewell to a beloved man, and came back reassuredof our own eternity, of the love of our Lord for us all, of the fact that love is as strong as the death (Song of Solomon 8:6),and that in Christ there is no separation. Reassured that in the Church, we can constantly livethat overwhelming moment recalled by today’s Gospel: that death has been beaten!

Last Sunday – the Sunday of St. Thomas – one of the greatest fathers of present timeswent to be with God: Father Silouan from Ghent, who was serving in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. I sayhe is a great Father because, although not much is known about Orthodoxy in the West, many people have heard about Father Silouan, both here, in Romania, and throughout the Orthodox world. This also because he was the disciple of Archimandrite Sophrony of Essex, the next in line on the list of proposals for sanctification proposed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Yet it is not so much these aspects which have made him so well known, but rather his entire life. That is why I would like to tell you some things about Father Silouan.

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Liturgical Programme 

  • Posted on: 26 February 2016
  • By: delia

Saturday 
18:00 Vespers 
19:00 Confessions 

Sunday 
8:30 Matins 
10:00 Divine Liturgy 
12:30 Lunch (please bring something to eat for your own family
13:30  
    for adults: "Sinaxa" - discussion on spiritual matters; "Philocalia" - presentation of a spiritual book 
    for children: Playing time for your heart 

For mi-week services, the announcements will be made at Church. 

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About us

  • Posted on: 16 September 2015
  • By: delia
English

Interview with our Father in Christ Ciprian, published by “The Orthodox Family Magazine”, no. 53 (June 2013).

“Christ is in our Midst!”

            Father, many people know that the first Romanian Monastery in the Benelux area (where several Romanian sisters have lived for more than a year now) has been founded through the sacrifice and the spiritual and material support of many God-loving people from around the world, but especially from a group of Christians that have gathered around you in a true community. Isn’t it a bit strange for such a lively parish to function around a “monastery church”? How did this start?

           This is a longer story, and, up to a point, a personal one. From my perspective, it started a long time ago. Ever since I can remember, I was given a gift: the conscience of the fact that invisible ties connect me with all people. I felt that something beyond appearances, relationships and words links me to them. Having lived my childhood in the countryside has probably played an important role in this regard, since the ties that link people there are stronger, more profound.  Furthermore, I had a passion for chess and I loved the motto of the International Chess Federation, “gens una sumus” (”We are one people”). In the same spirit, years afterwards, I had found joy in John Donne’s words, who was quoted by Hemmingway in the title of his book, “For Whom the Bell Tolls?”, as saying the same thing: “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.

However, I was feeling all of this on a superficial level, since at that time I was not a believer, and I could not imagine that living with “strangers” as with your own family could be ever achieved.

When God brought me in the Church, I started to read the New Testament and the writings of the Church Fathers in a different light. Among the many things that filled me with joy as I was reading them, I found the idea I mentioned before. This idea “floats” throughout the New Testament, but is very clearly expressed in our Saviour’s prayer from the Gospel of Saint John, “that all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us.” (John 17:21), or in the Acts of the Apostles: “the heart and soul of those who believed were one” (Acts, 4:32). And I said to myself: the Church is the place where I can fulfill my longing for many to live together as one single family, as one single man!

            I then started to search for how to live this. However, at the beginning, I do not know why, God kept away from me the places where Christians were striving to live this way. Although I visited many churches and monasteries throughout the country, I could not find, almost anywhere, not only such a state of being as I was looking for, but not even the effort of conveying or seeking one. And I did not mean that as a normality of church life, but as an ideal, at the very least. Maybe I was not looking in the right place, although I was travelling thousands of kilometers searching for that way of community living or feeling. Everywhere I went, I heard sermons and teachings about how to go to Church, how to fast, how to do good deeds, how to pray, etc; in other words, only personal, or individual, undertakings, of Christian life. I was full of sorrow and disappointment, and I felt that we were missing what was essential. What a difference in the spiritual state of the Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles and of those I was visiting. I recall that at some point, I even confessed my sadness to my spiritual father at the time. We were in a “serious monastery”, with good, ascetic rules and I felt that not even there could I find such a state, nor even a search for it among the brothers. My spiritual father’s answer to my inquiry was mind-blowing to me, something like, “don’t you have anything else to do?

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On the feast of St. John the Russian (+27 May), our protector

  • Posted on: 15 November 2016
  • By: delia

Starting from what we know from the life of Saint John the Russian and the special relationship our parish has with him, I would like to share with you a few thoughts about St. John.

1. First, I would like to recall Saint John’s gift to us, those who gather here [at the church in Namur], for all our services. Every year, on May 27th, we celebrate Saint John as one of our great protectors, as the one who, as it became obvious for us, granted us this place. And what he did for us is no small thing!

For those who do not know, I would like to recall the fact that, when we started to look for a church for our parish (around 2010), we took Saint John the Russian, Saint Nektarios, Saint Ephraim the Newly Revealed, and Saint Nicholas as companions in our search. And we prayed to them to help us find a church we could buy.

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