Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Grand Junction, Colorado

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AD 73)
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (AD 1922)
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver (AD 1979)

METROPOLIS OF DENVER
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The First-Century Christian Church for 21st-Century America!
Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Reverend Luke Uhl, Presiding Priest
3585 North 12th Street
Grand Junction, Colorado 81506
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Parish phone: 970-242-9590
Father Luke e-mail: fr.luke@denver.goarch.org

The Holy Fire from the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem
arrives at
Saint Nicholas Parish in Grand Junction, Colorado

Χριστός Ἀνέστη! – Christ is Risen!

We were very blessed to have received the “Holy Fire” from Jerusalem at our beloved Saint Nicholas parish on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Ms. Anita Schlichting from the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) parish of Holy Theophany in Colorado Springs brought the Holy Fire to Saint Andrew parish in Delta on Friday evening, and then to Saint Nicholas on Saturday morning.

Earlier that week the Holy Fire was distributed to Front Range parishes in Colorado along Interstate 25. Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver received it at the Assumption Cathedral and at the Chapel of the Metropolis Center in Denver.


Kandíli (lamp) with the Holy Fire on side altar

What is the “Holy Fire”?

The Miracle of the Holy Fire occurs every single year at the tomb of Christ. The first occurrence was at the moment of the resurrection of Christ in AD 33 when an abundant light of incomparable brightness flooded the area.

Written testimonies describe the annual occurrence as happening during the Apostolic era.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa (+395) and Saint John of Damáscus (+749) both narrate how the Apostle Peter saw the Holy Light in the Holy Sepulcher after Christ’s resurrection.

Bishop Eusébius of Caesarea Marítima (+339), the famous Greek ecclesiastical historian of Christianity describes the event in his writings.

Numerous travel diaries of Holy Land pilgrims from the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries likewise attest to the Miracle of the Holy Fire occurring annually on Holy Saturday, the day before Pascha (Easter).

Not only Christian writers, but observers from other faiths have recorded the event throughout history. Following the Moslem conquest of Jerusalem in AD 637 there are many references to the Holy Fire in diaries, letters, and official reports of Moslem Caliphs, governors, and other civil officials.

From the earliest days, there has been a continuing practice of lighting a lamp, or lantern, from the Holy Fire on Great and Holy Saturday in Jerusalem, and carrying that fire to village churches in Palestine.

The village priest would then light the Paschal candle from this flame at the midnight Resurrection Service, proclaiming, “Come receive the Light!” – just as we sing every year here at our Saint Nicholas parish and at every Orthodox Church worldwide.

In more recent centuries, the Holy Fire was carried from Jerusalem through the Orthodox world. It was brought by steamer to Odessa on the Black Sea to light the icon lamps of Russia. It was carried on mules to Damascus following the steps of Saint Paul. It was carried by camel caravan to the churches of the Coptic Christians of Egypt and to the Ethiopian Christians.

Since the end of the Cold War, it has become common practice to fly the Holy Fire, carried in a lantern, to the capitols of Orthodox nations: Athens, Greece; e.g., Moscow, Russia; Bucharest, Romania, Sofia, Bulgaria; Kiev, Ukraine; and Belgrade, Serbia.

At the main cathedrals in the capitol cities the Archbishops and Patriarchs receive the Holy Fire, light their Paschal candles, and proclaim, “Come, receive the light!” In the parish churches of smaller cities, towns, and villages the Holy Fire is received from the capitol cities, and the same practice is followed.

This year, the Holy Fire was also flown here, to the United States. And, since we are in the internet age, there is a Facebook page dedicated to this effort and to assisting Orthodox parishes and individuals throughout the country to receive the Holy Fire: https://www.facebook.com/groups/447533648924556

It has long been a pious custom for Orthodox faithful to bring the “Paschal Fire” home with them, following the Resurrection Service and Liturgy. Whether on horseback, by sled, or on foot, a family member carefully guards the lighted candle or lantern and brings it into the house. As the family sings “Christ is risen!,” the candle is carried through the house, and a cross is traced on the doorpost of each room of the home. (It is typical to find these in Orthodox countries...but doorways with smudges and burned-in crosses are not too popular when we resell our houses here in America today!!)

How does the Miracle of the “Holy Fire” occur?

Following the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of the “First Resurrection” (or, “Resurrection from Hades”), at the Church of the Resurrection (or, Church of the Holy Sepulcher) in Jerusalem, the Orthodox Patriarch goes in procession to the “edicule,” a small chapel at the exact place where the Body of Jesus Christ was laid by Saint Joseph of Arimatheía and Saint Nikódimos.

Before entering the tomb, the Moslem family that has custody of the church and holds the keys to its door, have searched and cleansed the edicule of all flammable as well as incendiary substances, and have secured the tomb with a large beeswax seal. The Patriarch is then searched by Israeli soldiers and law enforcement officers before being allowed into the tomb with a handful of 33 candles.

Once the Patriarch is inside, the doors of the edicule-chapel are closed, sealed, and guarded by Moslem and Israeli security personnel. All the lights in the church are extinguished and the tens of thousands of faithful pilgrims wait for the Holy Fire to appear.

The Patriarch prays for the Orthodox Church and for the world as he also waits for the Holy Fire to spontaneously ignite the wicks on his bunch of 33 candles. Not only these, but the kandília (hanging oil lamps) and the candles of the faithful also ignite spontaneously. A bluish light is typically seen appearing at the top of the church, and jumping from lamp to lamp, candle to candle, as the miracles repeats itself, year after year, century after century.

Interestingly, for the first few minutes this “fire” is not hot at first, but is cool enough for people to put their hands, faces, hair, beards in it.

After those first minutes, it is like any other flame or fire: hot and burning.

Does the Miracle only occur for the Orthodox Christians?

Generally speaking, yes.

Moslem and Jewish officials have attested to the phenomenon throughout history, and in the present day.

It only occurs, however, when the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem enters the sealed and inspected edicule.

In AD 1549 the Armenian Orthodox bribed Jerusalem Sultan Moúrat to give them permission to go in the church of the Holy Sepulcher and perform the ceremony. The sultan did so and the Armenians entered the Temple and locked out the Orthodox. The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem simply stood outside the doors of the church, kneeled, and prayed. Suddenly the column next to the main was split by a kind of lightning, and the Patriarch’s candles were lit, along with those of the faithful Orthodox gathered with him.

Sultan Murat was watching all these events from a minaret across the street. When he saw what happened he cried out, “The faith of the Christians is great! One is the real God, the God of Christians! I believe in Christ the resurrected from the dead. I kneel to him as my God.” After this he jumped from the minaret to the street but was not hurt. Of course, for his apostasy from the Moslem faith, the sultan was seized and decapitated. His relics are kept to this day at the Monastery of the Great Virgin in Jerusalem.

Could this “Miracle” be a hoax?

Of course; it could be a hoax. As with anything else.

Many scientists and magicians have been able to artificially replicate the phenomenon in a variety of ways. Self-igniting candles are not hard to manufacture, and the methods have been known for millennia, using phosphorus or naphtha.

But, “Is it likely to be a hoax?” You and I must answer this for ourselves.

After 2,000 years, is it possible that such a hoax could be maintained and continued without anyone ever betraying the “secret” or finding out? Scientifically, we could conclude: “Possibly, but very unlikely.” Scientifically – logically – we must also state that:

(a) simply because it is possible to replicate the external aspects of a cool, bluish, fire,
(b) this fact alone does not mean that the “Holy Fire” on Holy Saturday in Jerusalem is produced by one of these artifices.

Is the “Holy Fire” something we are obligated to believe in?

We are not obligated to believe anything in the Orthodox Church, not even the dogmas and doctrines of the faith.

We are free to accept or reject whatever we wish. Free will is a prerequisite to love and to faith in a God Who is Love.

However...

One is identified as an Orthodox Christian:

(a) if one fully accepts the dogmas of the faith (summarized succinctly in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Symbol of the Faith), and
(b) if one lives their life according to doctrines, teachings, of the faith.

The tradition of the Miracle of the Holy Fire is something that pious Orthodox Christians have experienced for themselves, and attested to freely, over 2,000 years. It would be consistent with our Orthodox doctrines that we simply respect these experiences of our fellow Orthodox Christians, and accept that through them they have grown closer to Christ and become more God-like in their lives. That’s simply all.

Can I take “Holy Fire” to my house?

Of course. That is why it is here for the faithful Orthodox parishioners of our Saint Nicholas parish!

As with any fire, or lit candle be very careful not to cause anyone to burn themselves or to catch anything on fire in your home!

Where can I read more about this “Holy Fire”?

The best book is:
The Paschal Fire in Jerusalem: A Study of the Rite of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
by Bishop Auxentios of Photiki
ISBN10: 0963469207
ISBN13: 978096346920
Publisher: St.John Chrysostom Press, 1999, Paperback

Another excellent book is:
Holy Fire: The Miracle of Holy Saturday at the Tomb of Christ, 45 historical accounts (9th to16thc.)
by Skarlakidis, Haris
ISBN 10: 9609925545
ISBN 13: 9789609925549
Published by Elaia Editions, Athens, 2011

Click images to enlarge...

Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
with the Holy Fire, Denver

Holy Fire received at the
Metropolis Center, Denver

Holy Fire being received at
Assumption Cathedral, Denver

Holy Fire received at
Saint Nicholas parish,
Grand Junction, Colorado

Holy Fire received at
Saint Andrew parish,
Delta, Colorado

Holy Fire Received at
Holy Archangels Monastery,
Kendalia, Texas

For the first time Holy fire will be delivered to the USA

Source: http://www.pravmir.com/holy-fire-will-first-delivered-usa/

Moscow, April 14, Interfax

The Holy Fire which condescends each year on the eve of the Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem will be delivered to various places of Earth with the support of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation.

“For the first time ever, the shrine will be taken to the USA, we have already obtained a permission for taking it onboard the plane,” press service of the foundation told Interfax-Religion on Friday.

The Holy Fire will be brought to the USA on the initiative of parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.


Holy Fire at the Edicule in the
Church of the Resurrection, Jerusalem
The Holy Fire is brought to dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church and to the patriarchal Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in frames of the many-year program of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The important part of the program is a prayer for peace in the Holy Land lifted up by the Russian delegation and the patriarch of Jerusalem.

The Holy Fire condescends on the Great Saturday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during a special service. Russian monk Daniel described the event as he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in early 12th century.

The Fire condescends in a chapel erected in 1810 over the place of the burial of Christ. Not long before Easter, which Christians of the whole world celebrate on April 16 this year, the first for 200 years restoration of the Holy Sepulchre was completed.

Email: fr.luke@denver.goarch.org
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