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Miracle of the Orthodox Church: "Holy Fire" Every Easter in Jerusalem

From : Sergey Romanov

Dear Ed, I noticed your discussion of the "Holy Fire" "miracle"

There is a site by one Russian skeptic who debunks the "miracle".

Unfortunately, it's in Russian, but it contains great analysis of ancient and modern sources, photos, videos.

E.g. this guy replicated the "bathing in fire".

He analyzes the wild claims made by pilgrims about "lightnings", "balls of fire", etc. - none supported by credible photo/video evidence (except the usual stuff, like particles of dust turned into "balls of fire" or photographical artefacts turned into "lightnings" - cf. - the usual stuff).

It turns out there is at least one Russian Orthodox source (bishop Pophyrius' diaries, XIX century) which shows that the clerics at the "Holy Sepulchre" knew that it was a fraud, not a miracle (and, by induction, they know it now). I posted this info in a Wikipedia article - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Fire#Criticism

All in all - a proven fraud.

With best regards, Sergey /sergeyhc AT gmail DOT com




Adam,


Have you studied the annual "Holy Fire" miracle that takes place in Jerusalem each year? It's a miracle that members of the Orthodox franchise appear particularly proud to defend and elucidate all the implications of--for the trustworthiness of their particular Christianity.


As the thread below should demonstrate, the art of communication is difficult enough without supernatural claims also flying back and forth between Christians of different franchises, or as I call them, "Christianities."


You asked me in previous emails for simple answers. But can you see below how complicated things soon get even concerning one miracle--its history and significance? Sheesh.


As for your study of Mormonism, what about Catholicism? It's the single largest Christian denomination--its totallity of membership being about equal to those of every Protestant denomination rolled together. And only Catholics claim their Mass is a miracle in which you get to take God in wafer form into your own body through your mouth. They also claim extra-revelations vouchsafed ex cathedra, at the highest levels of the church's revelation, declared so in the 1800s I believe, that Jesus's mother Mary was born without sin and her body was assumed into the sky. Who indeed can doubt that Catholicism is the one true faith and its Pope the one true leader of the entire Christian world? If you doubt such a thing, then you can argue with Dave Armstrong over at his Catholic apologetics blog, or visit Catholic.com and post on their forums which include 37,000 active members at any one time, and over a million members total. Or phone up Catholic Answers which is probably being broadcast right now from a radio station near you. There are also far more Catholics than any other group of Christians in the U.S. The Supreme Court in fact now has a majority of Catholics sitting on its bench. But who cares, really? Mormonism's your thing.


Anyway the line about "St. Zippo," below, makes reading all of the other stuff below, worth it.


Cheers,
Ed


P.S., Before proceeding futher:


Media Roundup. A survey reveals atheists have become the ultimate social outcasts. The National Association of Evangelicals refuses to take a stand on global warming. Vatican considers allowing married couples to use condoms-under special circumstances. And more in this week's roundup of the news.


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Associated Press
'Holy Fire' Ceremony Held in Jerusalem
By LAURA RESNICK , 04.22.2006, 11:25 PM


Pilgrims celebrated the Orthodox Easter "holy fire" rite Saturday as a flame believed by some to be miraculously ignited illuminated thousands of torches and candles at Christianity's holiest site. Security was tight as visitors from around the world flocked to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where tradition says Jesus was crucified and buried. Tempers flared as thousands of worshippers waited to pass through security barricades into Jerusalem's Old City. Some priests and pilgrims shoved and punched police. Inside the church, people scuffled with each other and with officers as they waited for the ceremony to begin.


The Greek and Armenian Orthodox patriarchs in the Holy Land descended into the church's underground tomb to bring out the flame. Worshippers clutching bundles of unlit tapers and torches waited in the darkened church for the church leaders to emerge. When they reappeared with lighted torches, church bells pealed. Worshippers cheered, shrieked "Christ, Christ," and ululated. The flames were passed around to the thousands of faithful and light and smoke filled the cavernous church within seconds. The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years. The precise details of the flame's source are a closely guarded secret, but some believe it appears spontaneously from Christ's burial area as a message from Jesus on the eve of the Orthodox Easter that he has not forgotten his followers.


"My connection to Jesus is stronger, my connection to Jerusalem is stronger now," said Jeanette Gennetian, 66, of Watertown, Mass, a member of the Armenian Apostolic church. Religious observations historically have touched off clashes over protocol among the different Orthodox denominations. Groups of people Saturday shouted, "Armenia, Armenia" in Armenian, and "Greece, Greece" in English. On Friday, screaming Coptic priests threw punches over where and how long different sects would stand during the Good Friday service.


The holy fire ceremony in Israel took place without serious incident despite talk that the ousted Greek Orthodox patriarch of the Holy Land, Irineos I, might put in an appearance in an attempt to challenge the authority of his successor, Theofilos III. Church officials deposed Irineos last year over accusations he leased prime church properties in east Jerusalem to Jews seeking to bolster Israel's claim to that largely Arab section of the city. Irineos has refused to recognize his dismissal and still commands a band of loyalists. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and the church's mostly Palestinian flock in the Holy Land denounced the leases as weakening the Arab presence in the disputed city. Israeli security was heightened last year because of showdowns over the land deal. This year, police said the heavy security was standard practice at large public events.


Dimitri Diliani, who leads a coalition of Palestinian Christians, said Israeli police blocked Palestinian Christians from entering the Old City, allowing in only foreign worshippers.




COMMENTS AT "CATHOLIC.COM" CONCERNING THE "MIRACLE OF THE HOLY FIRE" [A MIRACLE THAT IS ASSOCIATED PRIMARILY WITH THE ORTHODOX RELIGION, NOT THE CATHOLIC RELIGION]


Freeway4321: See video & photos of the Holy Fire
NOTE: If your computer cannot view the above videos, then it does not play avi files. You could however use DivX to view them. It's free...




Ghosty: In the videos of the "washing" of the Holy Fire, you'll see that they're doing exactly what I said to do in order to not get burned. In fact, they could hold their hands in the fire much, much longer if they wanted to, even assuming it was totally natural fire.


EDIT: The top video on the list is exactly what I do in similar flames. You'll see that he keeps his hand moving constantly as its in the flame. This will prevent a concentration of heat in a single area, and you can keep your hand "in" the flame for quite some time. Very fun at parties




A MORE RECENT THREAD REGARDING THE MIRACLE OF THE "HOLY FIRE" AT CATHOLIC.COM FORUMS


johnnykins: So the Armenian Patriarch was there too when the miracle of the Holy Fire appeared? HMMM. So the flame appears for schismatics? Heretics? Non-Chalcedonians? My, my my. I guess there is hope for ecumenism with Orthodoxy if God allows the Sacred Flame to arise in the presence of the head of the Armenian church.




orthodoc: The Armenian Patriarch was present. But it is the Orthodox Patriarch which receives the Holy Fire. One year the Armenians bribed the guards to lock the Orthodox out of the Church. The Orthodox Patriarch was forcedto stand outside the Church. On this occassion the flame shot through one of the columns at the entrance of the Church to light the candles of the Orthodox. This split column can still be seen today.


Excerpt:


"Once the Armenians (monophysites - ed.) paid the Turks, who then occupied the Holy Land, in order to obtain permission for their Patriarch to enter the Holy Sepulchre, the Orthodox Patriarch was standing sorrowfully with his flock at the exit of the church, near the left column, when the Holy Light split this column vertically and flashed near the Orthodox Patriarch. A Muslim Muezzin, called Tounom, who saw the miraculous event from an adjacent mosque, immediately abandoned the Muslim religion and became an Orthodox Christian. This event took place in 1579 under Sultan Mourad IV, when the Patriarch of Jerusalem was Sophrony IV.(The above mentioned split column still exists. It dates from the twelfth century. The Orthodox pilgrims embrace it at the "place of the split" as they enter the church).[2, date and name are corrected] Turkish warriors stood on the wall of a building close to the gate and lightning-struck column . When he saw this striking miracle he cried that Christ is truly God and leaped down from a height of about ten meters. But he was not killed-the stones under him became as soft as wax and his footprint was left upon them. The Turks tried to scrape away these prints but they could not destroy them; so they remain as witnesses [5]. He was burned by the Turks near the Church. His remains, gathered by the Greeks, lay in the monastery of Panagia until the 19th century shedding chrism.




GrzeszDeL: Interestingly enough, the reception of the flame has little to do with denomination and everything to do with ethnicity. It has always been the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem who receives the flame. Accounts of pilgrims to the Holy Land from before the various schisms record that it was always the Greek Patriarch who received the flame, even when senior clergy from other parts of the world were present in Jerusalem at Easter. In other words, even back when the Armenians, the Greeks and the Latins were all part of the same Church, it was only the Greek clergy who ever received the flame.




Fr_Ambrose: Hasn't the Armenian Patriarch been permitted to enter the Burial Chamber with the Orthodox Patriarch for only a few years past? What? Why?


Of one thing we can be sure - if the Patriarch of Jerusalem were guilty of any skulduggery (Karl Keating says he uses a lighter!) the Armenian Patriach would be delighted to shout about it to the whole world. So his presence is proof of the Holy Fire's miraculous origin.




Orthodoc: Re: Point #1: This is true Father. The video I have of it goes back about five years and the Armenian Patriarch is nowhere in site. But he is permitted only in the antechamber. Didn't a rucus occur last year when the Armenian patriarch tried to grab the lighted torch from the orthodox Patriarch as he exited from the tomb so he (the Armenian patriarch) could be the first out?


Re: Point #2: Good points Father!




johnnykins: It does seem to prove that the fire will come in the chamber even if one or more is deemed a heretic by the Greek Orthodox. As for Karl Keating's cigarette "lighter" suggestion, who knows. I tend to think that historically there was something more along the line of Greek Fire at work--though a lighter may be easier now. Or it may be a miracle. Personally I hope it is a miracle.




Originally Posted by GrzeszDeL
Interestingly enough, the reception of the flame has little to do with denomination and everything to do with ethnicity.


Fr_Ambrose: Or with whom the Lord recognises as the legitimate church authority in Jerusalem, the genuine successor of His brother James.




johnnykins: Or who knows what from ancient pyrotechnics, to modern lighters, to a manifestation of God.




Fr_Ambrose: But remember, johnnykins, that for hundreds of years when the Patriarch of Jerusalem was in communion with the Bishop of Rome (or subject to him in your view) the Holy Fire appeared. You cannot accuse the Orthodox of deceit without accusing your own Church. In fact the Pope says that those who doubt the Holy Fire are "bestial and senseless men."


Consider: the Holy Fire always descended in the days before the Schim which divided us into Orthodox and Roman Catholics (no Eastern Orthodox Churches in those days, just Roman Catholic, by your beliefs)


So it was coming down from heaven to people who were in the united Church of the first 1000 years of Christianity, prior to the Orthodox-Catholic division.


AFTER the Schism, the Holy Fire continued to descend, BUT NOW IT WAS ONLY for the Orthodox!


In a way it is a sign of God's indication which Church He favoured after the Schism.


Here is what Pope Urban said of the Holy Fire in 1096 when he was urging Western Christendom to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims:


"Of holy Jerusalem, brethren, we dare not speak, for we are exceedingly afraid and ashamed to speak of it. This very city, in which, as you all know, Christ Himself suffered for us, because our sins demanded it, has been reduced to the pollution of paganism and, I say it to our disgrace, withdrawn from the service of God. Such is the heap of reproach upon us who have so much deserved it! Who now serves the church of the Blessed Mary in the valley of Josaphat, in which church she herself was buried in body?


But why do we pass over the Temple of Solomon, nay of the Lord, in which the barbarous nations placed their idols contrary to law, human and divine? Of the Lord's Sepulchre we have refrained from speaking, since some of you with your own eyes have seen to what abominations it has been given over. The Turks violently took from it the offerings which you brought there for alms in such vast amounts, and, in addition, they scoffed much and often at Your religion. And yet in that place (I say only what you already know) rested the Lord; there He died for us; there He was buried.


"How precious would be the longed for, incomparable place of the Lord's burial, even if God failed there to perform the yearly miracle! For in the days of His Passion all the lights in the Sepulchre and round about in the church, which have been extinguished, are relighted by divine command. Whose heart is so stony, brethren, that it is not touched by so great a miracle? Believe me, that man is bestial and senseless whose heart such divinely manifest grace does not move to faith!


One wonders what Pope Urban would say today about the significance of this miracle?


Would he ponder on the fact that it does not occur for his Church and his Patriarchs in Jerusalem? Would his heart be touched by the fact that it is the Orthodox Patriarch to whom God sends the Fire?




twf: Father Ambrose, We can all produce our miracles. Lourdes and Fatima and scores of others are "proof miracles" for Catholicism.




In Orthodox thought we don't look at it that way. We do not say "We can all produce our miracles"


The miracles are not ours and we do not produce them. The miracles are Gods' and they come from above. "for every perfect gift is from God above coming down from the Father of lights." That's more or less the liturgical translation.


Ti yesi boh twohja chudasa


These expressions are limited and difficult when using Latin letters, but that's the best I can do.


To quote Matthew Steenberg below;


The light to be sat on a stand is that of Christ, not his miracles. Miracles are gifts given to aid our infirmity. They are like treasures, to be guarded and protected. They are meaningless apart from the life in Christ in which they are given.


To set a miracle 'on a lampstand', especially in the modern world, would only fuel the secular fascination with the 'magical' and 'supernatural.'


In Christ,


Matthew Panchisin




Amadeus: Has there been a recorded and verified picture or video of either the Greek Orthodox Patriarch (or the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch) showing how, when, and where the INITIAL candle is lit up?


All the pictures or videos thus far being shown are the light being passed from the Greek Orthodox Patriarch to the faithful waiting outside the tomb and to the others in and outside of the Church.


There is no verifiable record at all of the lighting of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch's candle!


I think this "gap" leads some people to believe in Karl Keating's observation and in this alleged "first person" account of the event.




Originally Posted by Amadeus
I think this "gap" leads some people to believe in Karl Keating's observation and in this alleged "first person" account of the event


Fr_Ambrose: It certaintly is NOT a "first person" account." It is one Armenian who says: "I heard this from my father and I think he knows the truth."


The Armenians have always been miffed that the fire will not appear for them and who knows what is behind this man's secondhand tale.


The above article was written by someone who obviously has never seen the event themselves.


"It's not a miracle. The Greek priests bring in a lamp - one that has been kept burning for 1,500 years - to produce the Holy Fire...I heard this from my father and I think he knew the truth."


Imagine a lamp that has been burning for 1,500 years.




johnnykins: This one's made the rounds before. Though it is interesting that it is an Armenian who makes the claim and the Armenian Patriarch is associated with the the Orthodox Patriarch in this matter.


Personally if the Greeks, or anyone, could keep the same fire lit for 1500 years - that too needs to be celebrated as a miracle.




Fr_Ambrose: As for the "I heard this from my father and I think he knows the truth"! Sorry, but I am falling about laughing. This is the only "evidence" which is produced by this newspaper article. I heard it from my father... and I think he knows the truth.....


"The priests parade around the tomb three times then go inside. After a tense wait.."


This is what makes me believe that Alan Philps of The Guardian (a UK newspaper known for its anti-religious articles) has no idea what he is talking about. In fact, not a single priest enters the tiny place where is the Lord's tomb. Only the Patriarch. So Philps has not even witnessed the event and is just making things up.




johnnykins: Father Ambrose, as I said, I certainly hope it is a miracle. I say that sincerely. I also have doubts that beyond the flame of faith it enkindles it is any sort of a physical miracle. However, if indeed it is a true physical manifestation of the power of God it could mean lots of things. Perhaps it is/was a needed sign to the Orthodox world so oppressed by the moslems for so many years. Perhaps its denial on the Latin Easter is not a matter of showing heresy, but of discipline for wrongs done by Catholics. Perhaps its Divine use is unclear at this point. I wouldn't be too quick to put on it a sign of the Divine approbation of the Orthodox when riots regularly occur. If it is not man made, we better look at it in awe - and tamp down the triumphalism. You know what Hubris is. And the Greeks (ancient, I know) tirelessly let us know that it invariably calls forth Nemesis. You do realize it is the sin you regularly point out of the Catholics - why take it as your own now?




Originally Posted by Amadeus
Has there been a recorded and verified picture or video of either the Greek Orthodox Patriarch (or the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch) showing how, when, and where the INITIAL candle is lit up?


johnnykins: I always thought no such pictures were allowed. Am I wrong?




Quote:
Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
Or with whom the Lord recognises as the legitimate church authority in Jerusalem, the genuine successor of His brother James.


GrzeszDel: I am afraid that I do not quite follow you, Father. The Jerusalem patriarchate does not extend back to James; rather it was a creation of a later council. The Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem has no more of a claim to be the successor of St. James than does the Latin Patriarch. This goes doubly so for the period of time when both were in communion with each other. Besides, it is not always the Patriarch to whom the flame comes. In previous years when the Patriarch could not, for whatever reason, preside at the Paschal liturgy, the flame came to whatever Greek archbishop was serving in the Patriarch's place. As such, there is nothing special about any so-called successor-of-St.-James status.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
So it was coming down from heaven to people who were in the united Church of the first 1000 years of Christianity, prior to the Orthodox-Catholic division.


AFTER the Schism, the Holy Fire continued to descend, BUT NOW IT WAS ONLY for the Orthodox!


In a way it is a sign of God's indication which Church He favoured after the Schism.


GrzeszDel: This is really rather a stretch, Father Ambrose. As I noted before, even prior to the Schism it was only the Greek bishops who received the fire. It is ethnicity, not denomination, which counts with this miracle. As such, if anything, it proves a Divine favor for Greeks, not Orthodox.




Originally Posted by GrzeszDeL
This is really rather a stretch, Father. As I noted before, even prior to the Schism it was only the Greek bishops who received the fire. It is ethnicity, not denomination, which counts with this miracle. As such, if anything, it proves a Divine favor for Greeks, not Orthodox.


Fr_Ambrose: No, Grz. I hate to disagree, but...


Before the Schism the Holy Fire descended from heaven for the legitimate successor who occupied the Chair of Saint James of Jerusalem and was in communion with his brother the Pope in Rome.. After the Schism it continues to descend for his legitimate successor and for no other.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
Before the Schism the Holy Fire descended from heaven for the legitimate successor who occupied the Chair of Saint James of Jerusalem and was in communion with his brother the Pope in Rome.. After the Schism it continues to descend for his legitimate successor and for no other.


GrzeszDeL: I have no idea what this "legitimate successor" terminology could mean. There is nothing to make the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem any more "legitimate" than any of the other Patriarchs of Jerusalem, nor was there any such factor back in (e.g.) 900 A.D. More to the point, the fire has not shown any particular reluctance to descend to those who plainly are not the sucessor St. James, legitimate or otherwise; as I mentioned earlier, even in years when the Patriarch did not preside, the fire still came to a Greek archbishop.


The plain fact remains that the one element whose necessity to the holy fire can be empirically demonstrated is Greek-ness (for lack of a better term). There is nothing about the data as we have them to indicate that Orthodoxy is or is not important.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
No, Grz. I hate to disagree, but...


johnnykins: Are you kidding - that's the thing you enjoy most. Off to confession with you now.




Palamite: I think some people are being thrown off by the "Greek" speak here.


There are, as many know, several people claiming to be the lawful "Patriarch of Jerusalem." Among these is one known as the "Greek Orthodox Patriarch" of Jerusalem. This designation simply exists because of the plurality of claimants, and reflects his historical relationship to the East-Roman Empire and the Orthodox Church. Thus identification of said Bishops as being the only ones to ever receive this miracle, has nothing to do with their personal ethnicity. Obviously, if an Arab, Negro, or Englishman (being Orthodox Christians) were to be elevated to the See of St.James in a lawful manner (being members of the "Greek" Patriarchate of Jerusalem), they too would receive this miracle. It has nothing to do with heretidity, and I'm surprised people who are aware of the multitude of claimants to the Chair of St.James would be so easily confused on this topic.




Originally Posted by Palamite
Thus identification of said Bishops as being the only ones to ever receive this miracle, has nothing to do with their personal ethnicity. Obviously, if an Arab, Negro, or Englishman (being Orthodox Christians) were to be elevated to the See of St.James in a lawful manner (being members of the "Greek" Patriarchate of Jerusalem), they too would receive this miracle.


GrzeszDeL: It might well be that if an Englishman was made "Greek" patriarch of Jerusalem, he would receive the fire. As it happens, however, there is little data to back up that assertion. We have no documented instance of a non-Greek receiving the holy fire. Meanwhile, my principle contention still stands - even when the Latins and the Greeks were part of the same Church, the Latin patriarch did not receive the fire and the Greek patriarch did. As such, it seems a stretch to regard the fire as an indication of confessional approbation on the part of God.




Originally Posted by GrzeszDeL
even when the Latins and the Greeks were part of the same Church, the Latin patriarch did not receive the fire and the Greek patriarch did. As such, it seems a stretch to regard the fire as an indication of confessional approbation on the part of God.


Fr_Ambrose: The only time when the Roman Church had any influence in Jerusalem was the brief period of the "Latin Kingdom." This was established by the Crusaders in 1099 after they massacred tens of thousands of Jews and Muslims and Orthodox.


The Latin Kingdom ( and the uncanonical intrusion of the Church of Rome into the territory of another ancient Patriarchate - the first assault by the Roman Catholic Church on another Church's canonical territory)) lasted for a brief 90 years until 1187 when the Muslims again conquered Jerusalem and brought all Roman authority to an end.


During this period of Roman Catholic rule the Patriarchs of Jerusalem took shelter in Constantinople while Rome installed Latin Patriarchs in Jerusalem. The Holy Fire never appeared for these Latins Patriarchs and from that time on the Roman Catholic clergy in the Holy Land, especially the Franciscans, began to disparage it.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
The Holy Fire never appeared for these Latins Patriarchs and from that time on the Roman Catholic clergy in the Holy Land, especially the Franciscans, began to disparage it.


Grolsch: The Latins forgot to pray to St. Zippo.


Matthew_P.: I must say I find nothing funny about such comments. My dear Grlosch, have you people no fear of God or respect for the sacred? Do you think it is just fine to make a mockery out of that which is Holy? I have been to Jerusalem and even those that are not Christians have something in them that recognizes that which is Holy. Could you tell us what Christ said to those in the Gospel accounts that made a mockery out of His miracles?


I mean what are you people doing here, you speak so strongly in support of Rome and the papacy and attack the Orthodox faith and that which is sacred with the recklessness of madmen.


Matthew 12:36
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.


Is it not better for the Latins to believe that the place of the ressurection of Christ the Son of God is Holy and not a place with events to mock? Do you think that such things a revealed so that they can be mocked?


In Christ,


Matthew Panchisin




Originally Posted by Matthew P.
Is it not better for the Latins to believe that the place of the ressurection of Christ the Son of God is Holy and not a place with events to mock? Do you think that such things a revealed so that they can be mocked?


WBB: Dearest Matthew P., I would venture to say that "the Latins" as you call us do believe that the place of the resurrection of Christ our God is Holy. Please do not judge all of us in the same light. I for one have never mocked the miracle of the Holy Fire. I believe it is a great gift not merely to the Orthodox but to all Christians. This is why I find it disgusting that it is accompanied by fighting amongst those present at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


Do not allow such comments to raise your temper during this holy time.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
The only time when the Roman Church had any influence in Jerusalem was the brief period of the "Latin Kingdom." This was established by the Crusaders in 1099 after they massacred tens of thousands of Jews and Muslims and Orthodox.


The Latin Kingdom ( and the uncanonical intrusion of the Church of Rome into the territory of another ancient Patriarchate - the first assault by the Roman Catholic Church on another Church's canonical territory)) lasted for a brief 90 years until 1187 when the Muslims again conquered Jerusalem and brought all Roman authority to an end.


During this period of Roman Catholic rule the Patriarchs of Jerusalem took shelter in Constantinople while Rome installed Latin Patriarchs in Jerusalem. The Holy Fire never appeared for these Latins Patriarchs and from that time on the Roman Catholic clergy in the Holy Land, especially the Franciscans, began to disparage it.


marlo: It has been discussed here before that Holy fire is only reserved to the Sucessor of the See of St. James and even the Ecumenical patriarch and other greek patriarch could not make the holy fire appear. It is only reserved to the see of St. James.




Originally Posted by marlo
It has been discussed here before that Holy fire is only reserved to the Sucessor of the See of St. James and even the Ecumenical patriarch and other greek patriarch could not make the holy fire appear. It is only reserved to the see of St. James.


Fr_Ambrose: I've never heard that. Do you have more information?




Originally Posted by marlo
It has been discussed here before that Holy fire is only reserved to the Sucessor of the See of St. James and even the Ecumenical patriarch and other greek patriarch could not make the holy fire appear. It is only reserved to the see of St. James.


prodromos: Ahem, only God makes the Holy Fire appear.




Originally Posted by GrzeszDeL
We have no documented instance of a non-Greek receiving the holy fire.


prodromos: Did you read the account given by the Russian monk Daniil (1106-1107)? He indicates that several lamps were placed in the tomb (including his own) and not just that of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem was found lit by the Holy Fire.


Quote from GrzeszDel: Meanwhile, my principle contention still stands - even when the Latins and the Greeks were part of the same Church, the Latin patriarch did not receive the fire and the Greek patriarch did. As such, it seems a stretch to regard the fire as an indication of confessional approbation on the part of God.


prodromos: Monk Daniil's testimony seems to indicate otherwise, since he states that the Franks also placed lamps in the tomb and that these lamps had not been miraculously lit as were the others.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
During this period of Roman Catholic rule the Patriarchs of Jerusalem took shelter in Constantinople while Rome installed Latin Patriarchs in Jerusalem. The Holy Fire never appeared for these Latins Patriarchs and from that time on the Roman Catholic clergy in the Holy Land, especially the Franciscans, began to disparage it.


GrzeszDel: Right. No doubt true, but irrelevant to the point I am making. The fact still remains that we have no good reason to suppose that the Fire has anything whatever to do with an expression of divine approbation for a particular denomination.




Originally Posted by prodromos
Did you read the account given by the Russian monk Daniil (1106-1107)? He indicates that several lamps were placed in the tomb (including his own) and not just that of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem was found lit by the Holy Fire.


GrzeszDel: Right, Daniil's lamp lit, but it was not Daniil who summoned the light; it was the Greek patriarch. That is the point I am making.


Quote from prodromos: Monk Daniil's testimony seems to indicate otherwise, since he states that the Franks also placed lamps in the tomb and that these lamps had not been miraculously lit as were the others.


GrzeszDel: Which stands as evidence to my contention, not counterevidence. At that point in time the patriarchates of Jerusalem and Rome were in communion with one another. As such, those Frankish priests were just as "Orthodox" as the Byzantines in Jerusalem.




Originally Posted by GrzeszDeL
Right, Daniil's lamp lit, but it was not Daniil who summoned the light; it was the Greek patriarch. That is the point I am making.


prodromos: Wrong. Nobody "summons" the Holy Fire.


Quote from GrzeszDel: Which stands as evidence to my contention, not counterevidence. At that point in time the patriarchates of Jerusalem and Rome were in communion with one another. As such, those Frankish priests were just as "Orthodox" as the Byzantines in Jerusalem.


prodromos: That is debateable. There was a breach in communion between Rome and Constantinople. Did the fact that Jerusalem was still in communion with both sees, and I'm not certain it was, somehow make the schism non existent?




Fr_Ambrose: A message I thought I would pass along, with a personal account of the Holy Fire...


Description of the event from Patriarch Diodoros. And you're right, the Armenians tried it on with Patriarch Irenaios and claimed that the custom was for them to enter with Diodoros. When Irenaios objected by pushing him out, the Armenians claimed that he was changing the tradition and got him a very bad press, but as can be seen from Diodoros' personal account before all this skullduggery, the tradition is that it belongs to the true Orthodox faith in the keeping of the Mother Church of Jerusalem in succession from St James.


My experience of it was seeing the whole of the Sepulchre bathed in a blue light on the outside, time and again and in no set pattern or direction, the light would suddenly appear and travel over it. By the oohs and aahs of others, whatever we were seeing, we saw it at the same time. Not a technobuff, but I can't think of anything that would give that effect with or without a visible source or that would have been available pre matches days.




Originally Posted by prodromos
Wrong. Nobody "summons" the Holy Fire.


marlo: whats in your mind? its obvious that somebody "summons" the holy fire. how did it get there in the first place, will God just put it there without "SOMEBODY" asking and praying for it? the point here is God makes a miracle, but he uses the people to this purpose, Thats why its a miracle, because it has divine works through people




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
AFTER the Schism, the Holy Fire continued to descend, BUT NOW IT WAS ONLY for the Orthodox!
In a way it is a sign of God's indication which Church He favoured after the Schism.


WBB:
Rubbish. That would be about as accurate as someone saying, "Well, it is obvious that God favors the Catholic Church because the Muslims overtook the Orthodox East in Turkey, Egypt, and Palestine and the Catholic west was spared." Why can't you simply let it be something wonderful and miraculous without attaching to it some politically motivated "God likes us better" rhetoric? How juvenile.


I find it exceptionally difficult to believe that something this wonderful is accompanied by fist fights. How disheartening.




Originally Posted by WBB
Why can't you simply let it be something wonderful and miraculous without attaching to it some politically motivated "God likes us better" rhetoric? How juvenile.


Fr_Ambrose:
It goes without saying that God does indeed love His Church more.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
It goes without saying that God does indeed love His Church more.


WBB:
On that we can both agree. He loves it more and more and more! [Except for those damned universalists, of course!--E.T.B.'s inserted comment]




Joe Monahan--MODERATOR
A caution gentlepersons. That God chooses to allow the Miracle of the Holy Fire is a blessing to all who are so wonderfully fortunate to be in the Holy Sepulcher on the occasion of His grant of this miracle to humankind.


Whether one chooses to accept the Miracle of the Holy Fire as such or not is a matter of personal choice and spirituality. While our Orthodox brethren think of the Holy Fire as "theirs", as the Copts do the apparition of the Theotokos at Zeitoun, as the Melkites and Antiochians do Our Lady of Soufanieh, and as the Latins do the Virgin of Guadalupe, all miracles are ultimately of and from God.


All the events which I mentioned and many others are deemed sacred manifestations by some among the Apostolic Churches (in fact, all of them transcend ecclesial bounds and are honored by faithful of Churches other than that to which they were "given"). Accordingly, I expect a level of respectfulness to be maintained as to any such occurrence which has been accorded approbation as authentic or holy by responsible hierarchs of any Apostolic Church.


One can disagree as to the meaning, disbelieve the occurrence, or decline to accept the validity of any purported miracle or apparition, but no one will denigrate or disparage the faith or belief of another in such.


Joe
Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most glorious, blessed Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, and all the Saints, let us devote ourselves, and one another, and our whole lives, to Christ our God




Georgess:
One can disagree as to the meaning, disbelieve the occurrence, or decline to accept the validity of any purported miracle or apparition, but no one will denigrate or disparage the faith or belief of another in such.


Joe


Hope one way Catholics too can find joy and meaning in this Miracle and not be perturbed as to any other meanings , could be if the following can be taken into considertaion -


1- the Miracle takes place on Holy Sat. when as per Scrpitures The Lord is with the souls awaiting redemption ... ( has the event ever been celebrated to coincide with the time of Resurretion - Sunday morning ?)


2-Have read that the Greek connection has to do with it being a gift/ sign of fidelity to the role of their ancestors in defending the Holy places .


3- The Holy Fire still descends , even when the keys to those holyplaces - the Holy Sepulchure Church are in the hands of nonbelievers ( Moslems) - ?a sign of the Mercy and fidelity of The Lord , a sign that might need to be partcularly demonstrated to
'those in need ' !


4 - the reported change in the nature /color of The Fire - reported to have been 'ruddy', in earlier accounts, now - 'of bluish tinge' ..


May all our faith be enkindled by the Fire of The Spirit !




Nullasalus:
I have to say, I never heard of this miracle before the thread. I'm extremely skeptical of miracles in general - this one does not have me utterly convinced. Without good witnesses, anything can happen. (Maybe the Armenians don't want to disprove a 'miracle' they may inherit in the future - I do not know.)


However, I have to say it's interesting, even impressive. Enough that I'd like to go there myself and feel this non-burning fire (I've seen the videos, but no one just keeps their hand in the flame for long - maybe it heats but doesn't harm?) I've looked into the usual skeptic sites, but they weren't ultimately convincing.




Ghosty:
I just want to point out that you can do the same with any similar fire if you like. I've done it many times to impress friends. In fact, I've kept my hand in fire much longer than those in the videos have. Just keep your hand moving, exposing different parts to the flame at every moment, and it will take quite some time for any actual burning to occur. I've done it for so long that my hands were blackened with soot, and it takes a while for that stuff to wash off let me tell you


I myself am completely skeptical of the Holy Fire, but I've hashed that out in other threads on this topic and I see no need to go into it here since this thread was intended as a celebration of it rather than a debate on its merits. I just wanted to throw in the bit about "fire dancing" because it's something I rather enjoy doing.


For those interested in discussing skepticism regarding the Holy Fire, here is a previous thread on the matter in which it was discussed at length.


The above long thread on the miracle of the Holy Fire begins with this question:
An Orthodox priest in our country once said (during their radio program every sunday) that the miracle of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem is a proof that the Orthodox Church is the true Church.. He said that the holy fire only manifests itself on faithful Orthodox members and NEVER to heterodox Christians such as "Roman Catholics"... Could anyone give me a "reason" why the miracle occurs? What is its "significance"? Is it really a "sign" from the Heavens telling us that Roman Catholicism is wrong?


Quote: Why all the doubts about and downplaying of the Orthodox church's Holy Fire miracle which began even before the Catholic and the Orthodox churches excommunicated each other? You have read the strong words of approval of the miracle by a Catholic Pope, have you not?


Ghosty:
There have also been condemnations of the miracle of the Holy Fire by Popes; neither matter much to me, honestly. Pope's personal opinions about such things do not pertain to the Faith. My doubts come from my own observations and understanding of the Holy Fire, and my belief in certain Eucharistic miracles, Catholic and Orthodox alike, comes from the same.


Regardless, my point was simply that Lanciano was no more an "Orthodox" miracle than a "non-Orthodox" miracle, since the Catholic Church considers the Patriarch of Constantinople during the 8th Century to be fully Catholic. Whatever title you use, it must be remembered that it's a miracle that is common between us. Incidently, I reject the Holy Fire on the same grounds. If the exact same thing I see in those videos were happening for a Catholic Patriarch, I would not believe it was necessarily miraculous either.


What I don't know is if the "miracle" of previous centuries is the same as what we see now. What we see in those videos certainly looks nothing like what was described in the centuries prior to our split, or even in the times soon afterwards. All I can say now is that what I'm seeing does not seem miraculous at all to me, and that's it. I'm not even convinced that, if the miracle did indeed occur in centuries past, that it is occuring now in the event every Pascha at the Holy Sepulcre. It certainly seems odd that a miracle that was apparently sporadic in the past is now a regular event.


The Holy Fire was a minor obsession of mine for a brief time, and I read every single account I possibly could. That is one of the reasons I'm having a hard time keeping track of what I've read and where.


The extreme changes in the description, from relatively consistant form of the miracle in early times (not to mention completely different from the modern portrayals, or even those described from about the 15th century onwards) to the radical differences from year to year in modern times, to say nothing of the obvious change in the manner of the ritual (from a general descent of flame on an empty sepulchre to light pre-set lamps, to the entrance of a lone Greek Patriarch in modern times who passes a lit lamp out a hole) bothers me quite a bit.


Again, it's not that I doubt the miracle out of hand, or write it off as a hoax, but there's enough to make me supicious of it. Hopefully I will someday see the event for myself, and be able to put all questions to rest. Indeed, it would be a wonderful thing to witness if it is real!


In the mean time I will continue to dig for the account of the Latins writing off the Holy Fire. The best I can remember right now is that it had something to do with a Latin attempt to experience it in the 13th or 14th century, and the subsequent disavowal of it by the Latin Church. The problem is that the account is likely from a polemical Eastern Orthodox source, as the vast majority of web sources on the matter fall into that category, and while I'm certain that I read that the Latin Church, including the Pope, wrote it off, I'm not certain of the integrity of the account itself. What is certain is that the Latin Church showed a definate disinterest in the Holy Fire by the end of the Crusades period.


It also seems that some resources are no longer available, as I'm getting broken link errors from old trusted sites, including the famous video from 1994 I'm hoping I saved it on my computer somewhere!


Many Latins, such as myself, simply have a different approach to miracles, and not just miracles that occur outside of the Catholic Church. While I consider the Holy Fire to be worthy of respect and veneration, I don't see it as plainly miraculous. My definate belief in its value in building faith does not carry over into belief in it being a miracle. For those that truly believe, my skepticism will do nothing to harm their faith


Also, before anyone thinks that myself or any Latins are being unfair in their assesment, remember that even the Latin stigmatic Padre Pio was subjected to rigorous doctor exams, and his miracles are still not affirmed by the Church. The typical Latin approach to miracles is different, but not less faithful in the long run, IMO.




Originally Posted by Fr Ambrose
As the Pope says, it is only "bestial and senseless men" whose hearts are not moved to faith by this miracle.


Ghosty:
That's fine, Fr. Ambrose. I've already said my piece in the other thread, and expressed my belief that the Holy Fire is not the same today as it was in the days the Pope said those words.


Again, there's no reason for this thread to be a debate over the Holy Fire. One thing we can all agree with is that the festival itself is a wonderful expression of Faith, regardless of the "reality" of the Miracle of the Holy Fire. I'm definately moved by that much, and deeply so.


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