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Author Topic: Small Relic - Great Weight!  (Read 2549 times) Average Rating: 0
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Those who ignore history tend to repeat it.


« on: August 09, 2005, 10:46:38 PM »

  2005.08.06 Sacramento Bee:
Modbee.com

Little Relic, Great Weight

By AMY WHITE
BEE STAFF WRITER

When Modesto native Christopher Flesoras returned from a trip to Greece
earlier this year, he brought back a unique memento. Wrapped in cotton and
placed in his pocket was a quarter-size piece of the skull of Jesus'
grandmother, Anna.
The bone fragment is known as a holy relic, part of the remains of a saint
or items that have come in contact with the sacred body of a saint.
Flesoras, a Greek Orthodox priest who leads St. Anna's Greek Orthodox
Church in Roseville, was given the yellowish-brown piece of skull by the
head of a monastery on Mount Athos in Greece.
"Carrying the relic back to America was overwhelming on many levels," said
Flesoras, 33, who was born and raised in Modesto. (He attended Modesto's
Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation and graduated from Davis High in
1989.)
"Spiritually, thinking we are carrying the grandmother of Christ is a bit
overwhelming," he said. "Physically, where do you keep this on your person?
It's not necessarily something you claim at customs. ... We were trying to
be very respectful and thoughtful."
The bone fragment is the first relic of St. Anna to reach American soil and
will transform the Roseville church into a shrine to its patron saint.
According to tradition, Anna and her husband, Joachim, were childless for
50 years but conceived by the grace of God at an advanced age. Anna bore a
daughter, Mary, who, after Anna's death, gave birth to Jesus.
Holy relics of St. Anna were collected and venerated by early Christians.
Her relics became the possession of the Church of Jerusalem and later were
given to the Christian Patriarch of Antioch and the Holy Monastery of
Kykkos on the island of Cyprus, an early Christian community.
Today, her relics are venerated in the Orthodox patriarchal centers of
Jerusalem and Antioch, the Skete of St. Anna, a Catholic church in Germany,
and now in Roseville.
The bone fragment at St. Anna's, encased in an ornate silver box, exudes
the scent of myrrh and beads with myrrh-scented moisture, priests say.
"There is almost a scent of roses," said the Rev. Jon Magoulias, priest at
Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Modesto. "This is not uncommon
with relics. We think of death and we think of the stench of death, the
corruption of the body. But for the saints and those sanctified by God, for
the Christian believer, death is not the end. ... For many of these relics,
there is a beautiful aroma that comes from them that reminds us of the
beauty of the life beyond the grave."
Hundreds of faithful and curious gathered at the Roseville church late last
month to attend services and view the relic. Believers and clerics came
from all over Northern California, and as far away as Texas, to see the
bone fragment.
"It's history," said 71-year-old Tina Karres of Folsom, who cried upon
seeing the relic. "If you really believe, it makes your hair stick up. It
gives you goose bumps."
Many described the experience as exciting, yet awe-inspiring and humbling.
Others felt tongue-tied and mesmerized.
"It was just an incredible feeling - something it's hard to describe," said
Dimitri Karnaookh, 44, of Rocklin. "It's something you really feel in your
heart if you understand the meaning behind it."
The veneration of saints plays an important role in the Greek Orthodox
faith. Believers honor them as examples of holiness and godliness, of the
way lives are meant to be led.
Flesoras brought the relic to Modesto in March so it could be venerated
during services at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, where he
was ordained a deacon in 1996, a year before he became a priest.
"To have (St. Anna's) relic here, the mother of the Virgin Mary, is
unique," Magoulias said. "It reminds us that the Virgin Mary was a real
person, that she gave herself to God and was obedient to his will and was
the vessel by which Christ was born."
Having the relic in Modesto was a special experience for his parish, which
is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Magoulias said. Local parishioners were
able to directly kiss and touch the relic.
"It reminds us of God's love and the continuation of his spirit working in
people," said Magoulias, who attended recent St. Anna's feast day services
in Roseville. The relic also visited parishes in Stockton, Sacramento and
Castro Valley - and Holy Cross church in Belmont, where Flesoras was
ordained a priest.
Now that the relic is back in Roseville, it is brought out for people to
show their respect and offer prayers during services, though it remains in
a box.
Flesoras has been deluged with phone calls and e-mails since he brought the
relic to the United States. More than 500 people attended one recent
service, and another attracted more than 200 people, most of them
Episcopalian and Catholic. His congregation has membership of 160 to 175
families.
"(The relic) is part of this whole plan of salvation that unfolded,"
Flesoras said. "You have a direct link to Christ, (his) maternal
grandmother. Anyone that really pays homage to Jesus and has respect for
his mother should have respect for his grandmother. ... It's a physical
link to the person of Jesus."

An incredible journey

Though thousands of people from around the world visit the Mount Athos
peninsula in Greece for spiritual edification, it is unusual to be given a
holy relic as a gift, Flesoras said.
"It was just heaven-sent, the way it came about," Flesoras said. "There was
a divine hand working in this somewhere."
Flesoras first inquired about obtaining a relic for his church in December,
when he met the Very Rev. Father Archimandrite Cheroubim Apostolou,
superintendent of the Skete of St. Anna of the Monastery of Great Lavra on
Mount Athos, at a funeral in San Francisco.
At first, his chances looked grim: Apostolou warned that getting religious
authorities on Mount Athos to agree can be difficult.
But after a few weeks of e-mailing, Flesoras received the happy news that
the monastic authorities had deemed his church a worthy recipient of St.
Anna's bone. There is no other Greek Orthodox church in the United States
dedicated to Jesus' grandmother.
"It was an exciting e-mail," Flesoras said. Apostolou formally gifted it to
St. Anna's during a service in Roseville on July 24.
Flesoras, his father, Modesto barber Dean Flesoras, and his father-in-law,
Jim Kyriazis of Anaheim Hills, traveled to Greece to pick up the relic in
February. They were dropped off by boat at the base of the Skete of St.
Anna, the oldest and largest skete (a cloister or small settlement
affiliated with a monastery) on Mount Athos. Mount Athos is home to more
than 20 monasteries, mostly Greek Orthodox.
The skete is about 1,650 feet up, on the cliffs above the Aegean Sea. The
men climbed 2,000 snow-dusted stairs to get to the skete's main courtyard.
They stayed at the monastery six days.
"It was magnificent," Christopher Flesoras said. "The services were
beautiful. The hospitality of the monks was very kind and genuine." The
skete is home to more than 120 monks. Its library also houses about 100
manuscript Scriptures, holy relics of various saints, icons and liturgical
items, as well as what is believed to be the left foot of St. Anna, the
skete's matron.
"Venerating this artifact of the mother of Mary, who was the mother of
Jesus, was spiritually, intellectually and emotionally overwhelming,"
Flesoras said.
Flesoras had been to the holy mountain once before. In 1995, he traveled to
the site on a pilgrimage with seminary schoolmates.
Returning to the "civilization" of Athens - and home - was an adjustment,
Flesoras said of the recent trip. "It was so incredibly peaceful and
tranquil," he said. "It was a quiet we are not normally used to."
While on the trip, the three men also visited a monastery built on the
place St. Paul preached to the Thessalonians, the Church of St. Demetrius,
which contains the relics of St. Demetrius, the patron saint of
Thessalonica, the cathedral in Athens and relatives.
Flesoras has a long family history tracing back to Greece. His mother was
born on the island of Crete. His paternal great-grandfather was the first
Greek Orthodox priest west of the Mississippi, serving at the cathedral in
San Francisco. His maternal grandfather, the Very Rev. Emmanuel Papageorge,
now 94, is pastor emeritus at Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation,
where he served from 1948 to 1964.
Flesoras often returns to Modesto, where his parents, Dean and Angie, live.
He hopes having the relic of St. Anna at his Roseville church will make it
a destination for faithful of all backgrounds. The trip to obtain the relic
and having it here was a spiritual and moving experience for all three men,
he said.
"Being entrusted with and gifted this relic was simply beyond belief,"
Flesoras said, "and most humbling."

Bee staff writer Amy White can be reached at 578-2318 or awhite@modbee.com.
Sacramento Bee staff writer Kim Minugh contributed to this report. She can
be reached at 916-773-7359 or kminugh@sacbee.com.

Posted on 08/06/05 00:00:00
http://www.modbee.com/life/faithvalues/story/11045154p-11804469c.html

===========

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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2005, 11:43:08 PM »

When Modesto native Christopher Flesoras returned from a trip to Greece
earlier this year, he brought back a unique memento. Wrapped in cotton and
placed in his pocket was a quarter-size piece of the skull of Jesus'
grandmother, Anna.

Oh, please!ÂÂ  Tongue

This kind of nonsense makes Orthodox Christians look like a bunch of wackos!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2005, 11:44:16 PM by TomS » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2005, 11:46:08 PM »

And wackos we be! The Lord is wondrous in His saints!
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2005, 11:55:53 PM »

And wackos we be! The Lord is wondrous in His saints!

LOL!
I'm afraid this may be a little too "earthy" and "real" for TomS- I don't think relics are "noetic" enough for his taste Wink

That a blessing for Roseville!
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2005, 12:14:24 AM »

Quote

And a blessing for all of us!

I never in my mind ever thought I would travel to California. Now, though, knowing that this is the only place in North America that my wife can venerate a relic of her patron....well, now this changes things.

And, yes, if this is the behavior of a wacko....then call me whacked!
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2005, 12:39:42 AM »

Oh, please!  Tongue

This kind of nonsense makes Orthodox Christians look like a bunch of wackos!

Then I'll gladly be a wacko!

St. Anna, pray for us!
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2005, 01:26:14 AM »

I don’t want to sidetrack the focus of this thread from the blessed St Anna; however I would like to stress the very general blessings that one receives from such holy relics by accounting for my family’s own personal experience — not with relics themselves (relics in terms of the actual body parts of the Saints), but simply the outer covers of these relics. My family has been very fortunate to receive the very covers that surrounded the relics of St Cosman and St Demian, St George the Prince of Martyrs, and many others. We were instructed by the nuns and monks who had given them to my father that these covers were not given to us for our own personal possession but rather to share around that Australia may be blessed by them.

I cannot tell you how many miracles have occurred through these covers; it's truly amazing… miracles with those who are Orthodox and others who were not even Christian. I recall one story my mother told me in relation to a miracle that occurred via the cover of Saints Cosman and Demian: My mother is a General Practitioner, and because her work is obviously quite risky, she feels more secure and confident in her job by taking the cover of Saints Cosman and Demian with her to work (especially since these Saints and Martyrs were themselves physicians). Around November last year, she was confronted by a 16 year old female drug addict who had been to my mother before in an attempt to acquire a prescription for the drugs she needed to satisfy her addiction (obviously by deceptively trying to make up some story about an illness she had). My mum was not going to fall for her act, and so she snapped at this young girl and told her to never come back again. The girl broke down in tears and was on her knees; she was lost and helpless, and she was begging my mum for any sort of help. My mum tried to counsel her for a bit; they spoke about her family and how they were the very cause of her problem in the first place — so no help there; her friends were all addicts as well. My mum suggested professional help, but at that point the girl had given up and refused all my mum’s suggestions and decided to just go. My mum feeling really sorry for her asked her to wait a bit; she asked her if she believed in God. The girl told my mum how she had this “supernatural experience” when she was younger, and explained how she was involved in a car accident with her sister, and that she saw a bright light, and felt “someone or something” pull her out of the burning wreckage of her sister’s car, however as she got up after being pulled out, she found no one around. My mum asked her if she believed in Jesus, and the girl didn’t know how to respond…she in fact responded “I don’t know”. My mum then made the very last suggestion…she asked her to pray to Christ, and she cut off a tiny piece of the cover of the relics of St Cosman and Demian and explained to her briefly what it was and how sacred it was, and who these Saints were, and asked her to keep it with her always.

One month later, she came back to my mum with a big box of chocolates and a huge wooden cross to put in her room. She explained that ever since she last saw my mum, she had been keeping that piece of the cover in her wallet, and had been praying, and that consequently she has not gone back to the drugs even ONCE, nor has she even felt the urge — in fact she explained how she had recently been overcome with this really strong feeling inside her that in fact repulsed her from ever wanting to take drugs ever again. She also told my mum this AMAZING story about how one of her friends was teasing her about her commitment to stop the drugs, and that her friend snuck a packet of the drugs in her jacket pocket. Later that night they were on the phone and her friend asked her how it felt getting high after so long without the stuff. The girl had no idea what she was talking about, for she had neither taken any drugs nor had she discovered the packet in her jacket pocket. Her friend laughed and told her that she’d find a nice surprise in her jacket pocket and at this point her heart froze because she knew that if she reached into her pocket and found those drugs that it’d be so hard for her to discard them. She got off the phone with her friend and started crying and praying…when she reached into her pocket to get out the packet…all she found was the piece of the cover of the relics of Saints Cosman and Demian…a piece which she NEVER put in her pockets, but always kept inside a section of her wallet which is always closed by a ZIPPER.

Let me remind you all…we’re talking about miracles that occurred through the mere COVERS of the relics. These covers aren’t even directly touching the relics! The relics are usually inside a glass tube, and it is that glass tube which is dressed with these covers. Glory be to God forever Amen.

Below is a photo of the cover of the relics of Saint Cosman and Demian that I took at our house. May their prayers and blessings be with you all (yep, including you TomS):



 
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2005, 08:05:54 AM »

Then I'll gladly be a wacko!

St. Anna, pray for us!

Amen!  Then count me as a wacko.  To venerate the relics of saints, for me is a blessing.  How many families have broken up over who gets what belonged to mom or dad?  Yet some people think it ghoulish to want something that belonged to a saint or, in fact, to venerate their relics.  I confess, I have difficulties touching for a final time the remains of a loved one, but to kiss the relics of saints, I never think twice or question it.
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2005, 09:03:53 AM »

EA,

MAN!!!  That is great; God be praised!  Blessed is God in His saints!  Not surprising that He would use the relics of Ss. Cosmos and Damian for that; they were physicians, after all... Grin
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2005, 12:58:04 PM »

Is it just me, or did Tom just call us all Holy Fools?

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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2005, 01:43:46 PM »

Quote
Is it just me, or did Tom just call us all Holy Fools?

No, it is more that Tom isn't getting enough attention so makes a few remarks he knows won't be recieved well to get the spotlight again. 
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2005, 02:35:05 PM »

Is it just me, or did Tom just call us all Holy Fools?

Well, in my case, the fool part's accurate at least.  I'm usually leading the pack of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. Cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2005, 02:41:42 PM »

Well, in my case, the fool part's accurate at least.ÂÂ  I'm usually leading the pack of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. Cheesy

And I'm leading it the rest of the time. Grin
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2005, 05:08:11 PM »

I too am a whacko  Cheesy  I have a relic of Saint Alexis Toth, COnfessor of Orthodoxy in America.
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2005, 06:34:23 PM »

No, it is more that Tom isn't getting enough attention so makes a few remarks he knows won't be recieved well to get the spotlight again.ÂÂ  

Think you have Tom figured out.  It's either that or he should be voted as Orthodoxy's biggest convert failure or the first Protestant Orthodox Uniate!

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« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2005, 10:40:12 AM »

Is it just me, or did Tom just call us all Holy Fools?

-Philip.

I remember a friend, when I first converted to Orthodoxy...she said there are 2 types of Fools For Christ's Sake, the 1st are simply Fools for Christ's Sake, and then she said most of the world falls in the second group:  fools...for Christ sake.  I confess, sadly I'm in the second group.  ;-[)>
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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2005, 03:26:30 PM »

My NorCal parish had the great privilege of venerating the Relic of St. Anna before it was formally presented to her namesake church in Roseville.  An incredible, moving experience, one this convert is still trying to process...

Fr. Christopher told us the interesting story of how St. Anna's came to receive the relic, much of which is recounted in the article above.  And yes, he did indeed carry the relic back from Mt. Athos in his pocket -- in cargo pants, no less.
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