April 2011Slovakia in “the zone of security and prosperity”
We need inner revolution
Floating Mill on the River Mura
Lazarus Saturday and His Knights
Citizenship for all Hungarians
Exemplary for Employers
Judges ask the European Association of Judges for Help
Do you believe that God will resurrect our bodies one day?
Medvedev pushes government to clean house
Lessons for Europe’s future economic governance
Emir Qatar Television
Outstanding representative of folk heroes
On the theatre stages and screens
Mladen Palić and his Medzimurje
Slovakia in “the zone of security and prosperity”
Slovakia has been a member of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for seven year. It became the member of the European Union based on the ratification process in the EU and a referendum in which tight majority of Slovak citizens took part (52,15%, 6% were against the integration) while it integrated into NATO based on the political decision of the second Dzurinda´s government which was approved by the Slovak parliament in March 2003. The Referendum concerning the membership of Slovakia in NATO was not announced, just in case, because not only Dzurinda´s government but also NATO was afraid of it. It was risky that as Slovaks who had always preferred neutrality of Slovakia, would have refused NATO in the referendum and thus another “enlargement of secure and prosperous space” would have been endangered in Central and South- East Europe. At the time, however, it was obvious that without membership in NATO, the membership in the European Union would not be possible either…
Let us think together at least about the results, which the memberships in the so- called common Euro- Atlantic civilization and democratic space have brought to Slovakia. “The membership in NATO enables division of work, specialization and cooperation. It guarantees that military forces of the state are modern and well- trained and moreover, each member state pays less money as if it had to care for security itself,” the propaganda used to claim. However, the reality is that for seven years, Slovakia has not paid 2% of GDP for defence but it as it is obliged to the Alliance only 1.5% - 1.08% and it has been decreasing direct costs on modernization of military forces and consequently it does not fulfil liabilities against NATO. The situation is rather serious and critical that for example the existence and fighting power of military air force and ground troops, majority of weapon systems is at the end of its technical durability and in many commodities prescribed stocks are not ensured. Slovakia is the only the country that has not bought any new air force or main technologies of ground troops and logistics! On the other hand, Slovak taxpayers finance the participation of Slovak soldiers in various so- called peacekeeping missions of the UN (Cyprus) and NATO (Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, so-called Kosovo Republic). A logical question, however, appears- why does Slovakia send its soldiers to the mission when we do not have enough money and how much within partial refunding; did it get back from the UN? From the historical point of view, it is interesting that respond to the participation of Slovak soldiers in Iraq and mainly its financial contribution to Slovakia and Slovak firms about which former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda used to talk so much… So far, however, Slovaks have not learned either how much the membership in the NATO and Slovak military mission cost a year.
“In the Alliance, each state, either big or small has equal position and equal vote. The Alliance decides based on consensus, it means that all the member states have to agree on the common procedure,” the propaganda about NATO says. In addition, we do not need to go back far to history, let us have a look at the military operation in Libya and attitude of Slovakia towards this war. Let us begin with a simple question: Does the NATO have a direct mandate of the SC UN for its operation Unified Protector in Libya? No, it does not. We know that NATO took over the command (unanimously) over fighting operations after the USA, Canada, France and Great Britain, regular members of the NATO that within so-called protection of civilians (participants of the uprising) and assurance of a non- flying zone bombed the positions of military air force defence and infrastructures of Gaddafi´s army. Sovereign governments but ambassadors of its member states did not make decision on this takeover after having been put pressure by Paris and London…
Mikuláš Dzurinda, current minister of foreign affairs who failed in explaining the attack of military air forces against former Yugoslavia (Serbia), proved his reputation of a chatter box also in case of NATO operations in Libya. He said in the Slovak Parliament: “Operations which are being carried out in Libya are of three kinds. At first, humanitarian help is more available in the east of this country than in the part that is occupied by Muammar Gaddafi. The second kind of operations is forcing military embargo and the third kind of operations is to assure non- flying zone.” However, the reality is rather different.
Daily news from Libya does not say anything about exact humanitarian help for civilians, about weapon embargo (but about new arming of insurgents) or the plan of NATO to assure non-flying zone but about regular war among armed insurgents (not civilians) and military air force attacks on military bases. However, what is the worst for the credibility of Radičová´s government and this “military defensive organization” is that neither the Slovak government nor the general secretary of NATO can explain to the citizens of Slovakia as well as the EU how and when Libya attacked and endangered the USA, Canada, France and Great Britain, or other members of NATO so that they applied the right of collective intervention in order to protect their citizens. In other words, according to which article of establishing Washington declaration, is the Alliance solving the future of Gaddafi´s regime and a sovereign state?
In case of Slovakia, it is paradoxically at least “ worth praising” that has no funds or air forces able to fight, or troops that would have been sent to Libya.
“The place, which is secure, creates basic conditions for prosperity. On the contrary, the country that is not secure cannot be prosperous. Security and prosperity are like two interconnected vessels,” points out the NATO and European integration propaganda. Is it really so? If Slovakia has no funds for its security and army, how can it be save and how can it be prosperous then? Nowadays, the truth is that it does not have financial sources to support the idea of European financial help for so- called rescue of Euro and Eurozone that is rather the issue of big banks and international corporations than small and medium entrepreneurs. Slovakia still belongs to the poorest members of the EU and its right- winged government has no real conception of reviving and development of economy, entrepreneurship, country, schools and education, health care and the national culture.
Nevertheless, the European Union or the European Commission does not have such a conception, either. They somehow forgot about security and prosperity of its “economic space”. They did not manage to protect member states from the economic crisis, which because of virtual economy came from the USA, i.e. its military protector, and affected Europe. If we have a closer look into the economic development of the countries away from the EU, we cannot notice that American crisis “avoided” other European states, Asia and Latin America.
We might be witnessing permanent political lies in the EU and in the USA. Words full of values, which the truth and justice belongs to are violated just by those, who speak about them most as they could tell lies and mislead convincingly. They can go so far that many media, let us praise some exceptions, the lies become the truth and vice versa.
It has been proved that Slovakia, unfortunately, is not strong enough to be an equal partner and member in NATO and the EU. We do not have funds as we have weak and instable economy, which is in hands of a several global companies. We have been a weak partner for seven years and we have changed into a new-era economic colony from which approximately 50% GDP just flows away. It is de facto under the control of influential foreign banks and investors who do not support our country itself but its global development itself.
It would be fair if the Slovak government told its citizens how much the membership in the EU costs every year and how much we get from Brussels. If we look into a few- year use of EU funds, we will find out that Slovakia has long- term problems with low use of Euro funds. The national budget is significantly deficit and nobody can say if it will be at least balanced or in surplus in a few years. And that is why the ideas of re-considering the membership of Slovakia in the EU are becoming more and more appropriate as the nation beneath the Tatras should know the truth about what it had to sacrifice and lose and what it has gained in order to integrate into the community which has been permanently changing and in which it still has been playing a negligible role. If the main goal of Slovakia was to integrate into somewhere where we had not been a part of and everyone was going there, it is a demonstration of poor confidence in our own power and ability to survive.
Robert Matejovic, editor in chief
We need inner revolution
“If you behave according to moral rules, you will sort out not only relationships but also your own life and achieve aims set up by God, “thinks Squire Milan Chautur, a Greek Catholic Eparchy.
Photo: the author
Europe including Slovakia has been going through strong moral and values crisis for a few years. People are disorientated and confused, quality of life declines, everything can be doubted or bought, almost everyone does not believe to anyone or anything, traditional Christian values of human life and acts are considered as ancient and something that slows down natural and modern development of a man and society. Virtual truth and relationships, virtual family, economy, culture and society based on the synthesis of various religious and secular (political) norms and rules are moving forward and forward. It seems that in the 21st century, globalism, integration, reformed capitalism and liberalism are much stronger and influential life philosophies that Christianity and belief in God.
Squire, do you think that this century will bring new spiritual revolution and renaissance of Christianity?
Generally, it is said that when once a crisis comes, all and everything has to fall down to the bottom otherwise, it will not work. When we experienced population crisis in Slovakia, once we got to the bottom. In addition, from the religious point of view, a man perceiving this world and refusing spiritual values, smashing them from the table, will fall down. However, there must be moment when the society will not be able to fall even deeper, when, simply said, a man will reach the level of animals. One has to fall so deep to realize that he needs an idea, which will take him off the bottom to realize that he is not an animal but a man. When he will realize that he does not need bread and salt only but also spiritual life. Evil must be always eliminated thoroughly; it must be demolished like each bad building. A new building can be erected only on the new and sacred basis.
Our 21 century has not shown us blooming in the spiritual sphere, we still lack a kind of something that we miss and we need. From each spiritual revolution like from each revolution, we feel a sort of politico. All the changes that have happened in our society have been of a political kind. In our case, we do not any military or political power; we just need a massive turnover in people’s thinking, mainly Christians that will shake us all. If we speak about Christianity, we will surely need inner revolution. It must be carried out in the thinking and acting of individuals who will attract the interest of wide masses. Neither at the times of early Christianity, there was anything stronger that an idea of love that can defeat hatred, the idea of truth that will defeat untruth, the idea of eternal life that will overcome death. At the time, those ideas coming from Jesus Christ helped to defeat pagan and Jewish worlds. One very famous statement comes from those times saying: “Look, how they (Christians) love one another.” At the times, many like people today, looked at each other, they just wanted to use and abuse one another, searching for their own benefit. When suddenly a group of Christians began changing the world and spread Christianity from Jewish Jerusalem to pagan Rome. They preferred love. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Compare Matthew 22:40).
What will help people to overcome spiritual crisis? Is it enough to say simple- the truth gives you freedom? Alternatively, is it just enough to change and leave all way of life and thinking?
I think that these changes will not help so much. A man really needs to be stricken by life to wake him up from the unreal dreaming in order to become aware that he prefers values that are not real values. On the contrary, they spoil their own private life. Moreover, how should this strike look like? Partially, it could consist of frustration of private life, relationship conflicts to international conflicts and war conflicts, economic crises or natural disasters. I think, however, that a man must be aware of the fact that he consists of a body and soul. A man cannot assure the existence of his body only, ignore his soul, and soak it in drugs, alcohol or entertainment. Let me allow mentioning the idea coming from St. Augustine who after all misfortunes of his life said: “My heart is restless until it rests in Thee, My God. “
I will ask in a different way: what does Christianity offer to a current modern man who is snowed under loads of information, declarations, truths and half- truths?
For first sight, nothing because Christians do not live in such Christianity as they profess by word. If we imagine an average or below the average Christian family, we see almost no difference among them. Many do not go to church; they are or are not Christians, and they automatically disappearing in material values worshipped by religious and non- religious people. Christianity, however, offers us all one very important thing- return to morality and moral values. They are just mostly devastated these days. It appears that there are no other institutions, apart from the Church, that would focus on morality. It is being put aside, they just want a result and what does morality mean to them? A kind of a social accordance in how people should behave. Moral law is oppressed, it is not a law of conscience but only a sort of collection of norms set up by for example, the European Parliament. The Church offers return to the essence of life- morality. If you behave more morally, you will solve not only relationships but also your life and goal set by God. In addition, this is in heaven in a direct contact with God. God created a man according to himself so that a man could see God and find his happiness in the direct communication with God.
One Russian philosopher once said: we are afraid of out danger (earthquake, nuclear bombs, and natural disasters) but we often forget that the greatest danger for a man is a man himself as he is able to destroy his essence. We perceive various catastrophes and their victims but we do not see millions of people dying for example in disordered relationships and marriages, of diseases as for example AIDS.
What does Christianity offer to a man who is searching for the truth and justice in life?
A man cannot find and reach the truth and justice on the earth in its absolute perception. If a man searches for the truth, someone will tell him a half- truth, he will be satisfied for a while but he feels that he has to search further. If he is looking for justice, he will find out that he will be stuck being surrounded by paragraphs so that things that seemed to be clear at the first sight become more dubious and doubtful. Let me set the example. There had been no orthodox parish in Ruský Hrabovec until 1951; there had always been a Greek- Catholic parish with a parsonage, a church a wood. Suddenly, Greek Catholics were told that they, in fact do not belong to Greek Catholic Church because they became orthodox according to the illegal measure by the government. Despite the fact that the state declare this measure as an illegal act in 1992. Although the Orthodox Church does not have a single evidence and document, the court passes the resolution that that the part of the possession of the Greek Catholic parish belongs to the Orthodox Church. If a man searched for the human truth and justice, he would finally resign, as he would find out that, he will never reach the truth and that it does not exist. Christianity, however, knows the answer and is able to say what is the truth and justice in life. God leaves a man on the earth to mature in both good and evil so that he decides on his own. Nevertheless, it is worth fighting on the earth for the truth and justice although we achieve it only partially because this attempt is our direction to God’s justice. Christianity offers him an idea that the absolute justice in case of his death, last judgement day. Christ is the truth and justice that has clear and unchangeable principles.
What does it offer to a man who does not believe in God and Jesus teaching? Is Christianity still an attractive spiritual philosophy and religion?
This question reminded me of my military service. At the time, I met a Czech friend who did not believe in God and has not even been baptised. Once he told me:” You are a happy man because you know why you live and you know where your life is heading. I cannot say it about me. Although I like Christian ideas, I do not have inner power to accept them.”
Yes, Christian ideas cannot be disliked, as they do not contain anything that would evoke antipathy. Lives of some Christians might be seen antipathic, as they do not push forward the truths that bring the status of stability of mind and answer to the question where we have to go. In the relationship between a religious and non- religious people, non –religious ones cannot be sure that there are other values, not only material ones with which he identifies and within which he is searching for an explanation. If a person who does not believe reaches at least the knowledge that there is spiritual world, some feelings or empathy to other people, it is a great positive thing. We, Christians, know that life cannot be built on hatred. In Christianity, there is no chance for the philosophy that only a stronger and vulturous individual will survive and succeed in life. Not everything is directed and managed by the principle of a stronger one. Someone pointed out that according to some calculations made; no lambs should still exist but only wolves, as they are stronger than sheep and lambs. Why? Because a she-wolf gives birth to five little wolves but a sheep just to one. Nevertheless, if the philosophy about stronger individuals surviving were valid, there would be no sheep or lambs. How come they are still alive and environmentalists are warning that the number of wolves is decreasing?
What should a present Christian be like?
Natural and spontaneous, able to respond to life and era which we are living in. He should not pretend something what is not inside him but he should show what he believes in. Apostle Jacob who focused on two faces of a man, said:” What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. However, someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (Jacob 2:14-18).
Should he isolate and avoid society or just show in public that he thinks and lives as a Christian?
I consider the biggest mistake of present Christians their decision to isolate themselves and lock themselves behind the church door. They thought in a very similar way during communism. This philosophy is wrong because it is still used by the enemies of the Church. They say they are not interested in the fact that we go to church, what or whom we believe to, they tell us to behave as they do when we are not at church. Moreover, they tell the priests: you are a priest just in the church and in front of the altar, in other situations you are just an ordinary person,
A Christian must be a part of all spheres of life, even politics, economy, culture and sport; he must be active everywhere where each ordinary man is because he is also only an ordinary man. As a Christian, however, he has to have some clear and obvious principles and goals in his life. If democracy is open to anyone, then it must be for Christians as well. As Christians, we might still be feeling a kind of a handicap coming from the era of communism when we felt as rejected and ridiculous due to anti- religious attitudes of the regime. We, however, have to feel a kind of, I mean it in a positive way, superiority above others,” as we have something what they do not have: we do not prove superficiality, a way of lower resistance in terms of principles, we do not approve severe justice without forgiveness, we prefer wider minds than rigid political or national ones and we offer the prospect of eternal goal.
How can Christians protect Christianity?
What makes me extremely sad is the fact that majority of Christians (80-90%) do not know their religion to such extend so that they could protect it. What a shame! If a nonconformist (a member of a sect) comes up with a quotation, A Christian just leaves it and moves back or tell him/ her: I have mine, you have yours. It is not right. Neither it is that he/ she is not critical to accepting other theses that are far away from a real life. He, as a Christian, has already heard of God’s truths, and is able to explain some of them, but he forgets that his has to know his Christian religion and teaching in order to transform known and understood truths into private and practical life. He cannot perceive them as lines that have to be memorized and repeated as if he was in the first year at primary school. Religions, which do not talk much about the faith but the live in it, are much more popular and win with present society.
What do you think are the main reasons that Christianity is not a leading power in developing a state (the EU) and society in Western Europe?
After the fall of communism, we asked western Christian world for help to erect and reconstruct churches. They helped us, however, stating: You like our money but you find our life too pagan in the west. This rebuke is for me a question: As they were willing to help us, why do we perceive them as too materialized and moving far away from Christianity? THE answers might be found when judging good and evil approach when organizing and managing the church life. If a man concentrates too much on raising money to put churches and church life in material order, he can forget about what is essential and why he is searching for all this money. Does he want to support church life and development of his religious people or just provide a parish with material things? Moreover, he did not even realize that he had become too materialistic and spiritually lost even though he did not refuse God inside.
Nowadays, when we are in the EU, in our so- called common state, we perceive the conflict between west and east mentality much more sensitively. In the west, spiritual life is perceived through providing material things, and on the other hand, we are still worried that our spiritual lives will be destroyed by practical materialism, liberalism, indulgence and individualism that are penetrating our society from the west. God’s Rules, however, cannot be cancelled and replaced by human measures. A spirit of indulgence and material assurance is so strong in the west that it neglects relationships and sacrifices and pays attention just to a man to feel good. And how does a spirit of individualism demonstrate itself? By simple egoism-, I have done my business, leave me, and I am not interested in other or others... Christianity, however, does not know the termination of activities on the earth, knows permanent sacrifice and modesty so that a man could grow and develop spiritually.
Is it possible and has it ever been to build up God State on the earth as Saint Augustine describes it in his work?
Jews attempted to establish God’s State and God’s Community when they tired to create theocratic state and refused human ruler. However, they found out that it was not possible that there had to be someone observing their behaviour and acting and then finally, they had to choose a king. It is possible to establish God’s State just based on our own inner world. “Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you,” said Jesus Christ (compare Luke 17:21). If our conscience and God’s laws manage us, if we build inside a kingdom of heart, love and truth, we create a kind of supernatural community without any borders; it is something inner that is possible to build. On the other hand, we have to have a sort of human organization as, naturally, a man needs an authority to manage and rule the state and the church. Even Christ, whose main aim was to establish a Kingdom in Heaven in Earth, through relationships, did not refuse human structure and put Peter and his followers in charge of it.
The number of practising Christians is decreasing in Slovakia- Roman- Catholics, Evangelics and others. The institutions of various Asian religions and spiritual sects, which are allegedly much more honest and fair that traditional Catholic (Greek- Catholic), Orthodox, Evangelic and Reformed Churches, are developing very fast. Non- practising Christians and atheists often say in disputes concerning Christianity: We like Christ’s teaching but we do not like the Church that just sponges off His Teaching. We accept Christ but not priests. What do you think of it?
I find it rather obvious that people do not like to involve the church as an institution in their lives. However, is there an institution in the contemporary world that post- modern man really liked? Why, nevertheless, is a man led so strictly against institutions? As each institution wants him to do something, “bothers him” by asking him to fill in a lot of forms and applications, paying fees… Thus, we consider all institutions including the Church as main people’s enemies. On the other hand, the church could deliberate from this viewing by getting rid of its institutional position, but how to do it? Priests and bishops will remain and will declare God’s truths and Christian dogmas, all aspects and parts of the Church life will remain the same- people in faith, parishes, churches, priests, deans and bishops… However, the problem is somewhere else and it is important so that a post- modern man understand that Christianity needs to have its institution, which will be responsible for order and following the rules and measures. The other side of system and order are chaos and anarchy. Christians and atheists should understand that Church regulations are necessary for their benefit so that they know how to exist in this order. It has always been valid: Serva ordinen at ordo servabit te (Keep an order and an order will keep you). If non- practising Christians understood that the Church is more than a sect and east streams as it has its stable order, they would not just leave the Church frivolously and they would not believe in modern, far- away- from- real- life esoteric philosophies, sects and religions. Only random teachers and theories that do not order people’s lives rule the place without a stable order, when there are no stable truths declared, but they manipulate with human sub-consciousness and physic and overall they become a destructive power destroying a human being.
Is it possible to be a Christian and not to be a member of the Christian Church?
From a long- termed point of view, it is not possible. Let me allow giving you a preacher’s example. A priest compared the relationship between Christianity and Church to the system of use of coals in the fireplace. If a little coal was taken of the flaming fire, it got black and extinguished. The others continue burning. If we help and support one other in the Church, in such community faith flourished and is lived in. If a Christians leave the Church in which there are people of many professions and natures, he sentences himself to extinction. One develops and grows in a church community and is not left alone.
Can Christianity separate from clergy and church?
How can an overcrowded bus travel without a driver? There must be someone who would drive it. I am not saying that clergy is always ideal and a good leader. However, it is not possible to separate clergy from religious people, as they need one other. Religious people need a spiritual authority that would leave them to salvation solving the problems. However, Jesus Christ was also surrounded by many people, chose twelve of them, and called them apostles. And gave them spiritual power. It was not a man’s decision but Jesus Christ’s will. Spiritual power differs from natural power as it manages conscience and inner side of a human being. If a man does not feel this power as a need, he lacks it. In other non- Catholic and non- orthodox churches I have come across an opinion and a kind of a rebuke: I do not have someone who would tell me: “I absolve you, I forgive you.”
Is it right if many, who criticize for example the Catholic Church, refuse Christianity and Church just because they perceive them through prism of Medieval Crusaders, burning “heretics and witches”, nundination, paedophilia and funding from the national budgets?
Christianity is not refused by those who experienced it in their childhood and in the early years of their life when, as children, they automatically absorbed many impulses and preserved them all their lives. Those who had gone through the experience coming from faith and life in faith perceive historical and current problems in the church as not real problems because they are able to separate them from faith. In addition, my parents and their vivid faith gave me such experience in the childhood. A great problem of present escape of non- practising Christians from the church are people who believe in God, parents who were baptised and claim they believe in God, however, they did not teach their children love and wonderful experience from faith. I do not mean intellectual Christian formation of a child but sub- conscious formation by which a child forms his or her inner world. If such Christian families returned to Christian life, took their children to the holy mass even if they cry and they do not want to go there do that they could absorb this beauty and smell of worshipping, to listen to God’s word, sermons and songs, later their relationship to the faith would not be influenced by mistakes or critical opinions concerning the church.
Are we supposed to live on the earth as if we were living in the Kingdom of Heaven? Why is there a permanent conflict between the life on the earth and life in Heaven? Should Christians be different until their death and different after it?
A Man was created in the image of God so that he was in touch with God, in a close relationship in order to see God face to face. A man with his attitude- sin went far away from God’s Laws and has to carry a burden of human guilt. That is why a man is like a small child, he or she does not choose his/ her mother. For example, when a child was born to a mother addicted to alcohol, he/ she has to carry her burden of alcoholism, her guilt. Natural life of a man will never be the same as it is in eternity. On the earth a man is burdened and committed by guilt, in heaven, he / she is in a direct contact with God, he sees him face to face. This reflected after Christ’s resurrection when his disciples were not hundred per cent sure who they could see in front of them as his body was not controlled by any rules of physics- he got through the closed door and on the other hand they could touch his wounds and he ate with them. (John 20: 19-31; John 21: 4-13). When Jesus called them their names, they calmed down and terrified disciples turned into heroes of faith. Jesus even today calls each of us using our names and we are given a chance to answer.
Who is Squire Milan Chautur, CSsR?
He was born on September 4, 1957 in Snina. He spent his childhood in the Ruthenian, at present not existing, village of Veľká Poľana in the east of Slovakia. During his studies at Secondary Grammar School in Humenné, he took his first religious vows in The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists). He is a graduate from Cyril and Metodius Roman Catholic Faculty of Theology at Comenius University in Bratislava. Križevac Eparchy Dr. Joachim Segedi ordained him on June 14, 1981 in Prešov. After his ordain, he managed the parish of Borov and Kalinov. During the basic military service in Strašice and Louny in the Czech Republic, he worked efficiently as a priest among soldier. After finishing military service, he worked at parishes in East Slovakia- in Medzilaborce, Šmogovec and Porúbka. On July 1, 1990, he was voted as a vice provincial of the Congregation of Redemptorists with the seat in Michalovce. On January 11, 1992, Pope John Paul II appointed him a titular bishop of Kresimensky and assistant bishop in Prešov. He was given bishop’s chirotonia on February 29, 1992 in the Town Hall in Prešov from the hands of a Prešov Residential Bishop Mons. Ján Hirka. At the time, he was the youngest bishop of the Catholic Church. As an assistant bishop, he worked mostly with youth and focused on their pastoration. Pope John Paul II appointed him an apostle exarchy for a newly created apostle exarchate of Catholics of Byzantine Rite in Košice on 21 January 1997. His pastoral activities are focused on the process of liturgical and spiritual renewal of the entire exarchate and for establishment of necessary parts of management structure of exarchate. He leads the Council for Family and Youth within the Conference of Bishops in Slovakia.
Floating Mill on the River Mura
Lazarus Saturday and His Knights
Knights ideal developed as a civilization opposite movement of crusaders. It was defined as a courtyard European culture of the medieval times. Saint Lazarus knights attempt to unify the Christians to follow the way of ecumenism cooperation, develop care for ill, love to fellows and well doing.
Photo: the author
This year, Lazarus Saturday, a traditional Christians of east Christian churches celebrated a week before Easter, was extraordinary in Slovakia. On April 16, 2011, 16 knights from Knight and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem Grand Bailiwick of the Slovak Republic met in the Greek- Catholic cathedral of Mary Virgin Birth in Košice not only to pass some appointing decrees signed by the 49th Great Master of the Order, i.e. by J.V. Don Carlos Gered de Borbón, a marquise from Almazan, but also for the blessing of their spiritual protector Squire Milan Chautur, a Greek- Catholic Eparchy in Košice.
“These decrees prove validity of membership and order ranking in the international organization the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. It was an important milestone for the life of our jurisdiction as we were recognized in the world and thus we got involved in the international structures of the order, “says Chevallier Ing. Zdenek Tomčík, KCJL, Grand bailiv of the Grand Council of Slovak Grand Bailiwick (the highest representative of the order in Slovakia).
The Oldest Knights ´ Order
The history of the international Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, whose spiritual protector is Gregor III Lahama, a Greek- Catholic Patriarch of Antiochia and the entire Orient, Alexandria and Jerusalem, is more than 910 years old. It is an ecumenical and oldest knights´ order in the world whose roots date back to the year 1098 and mainly to Bethany where Jesus Christ resurrected his friend Lazarus. Just that resurrection of Lazarus is celebrated as a promise of future resurrection of all people and it is a proof that Jesus Christ rules death…
At the place of Lazarus resurrection, a hospice for lepers and pilgrims was built in 530 A.D. Armenian monks, the members of Brotherhood of Saint Lazarus took care of it as of a hospice and their centre. This brotherhood also looked after other hospices that had been built in present Israel (in Akkon and Caesarea).
“Just Lazarus is a Bible predecessor of this brotherhood and later an order. Its symbolic spiritual value springs from the knowledge that Lazarus had died but Jesus Christ resurrected him and gave him a new chance for life. Lazarus’s brotherhood gave lepers the second chance. In addition, the Order of Saint Lazarus gave a new chance not only to lepers but also to all the people who were and are in need. The first written document proved the importance of the Brotherhood of Saint Lazarus and we can find it in the Bulla issued by Pope Benedict IX from the year 1043,” says Róbert Jáger, a specialist on the Bible and a Greek- Catholic Priest.
During crusades to Jerusalem, many leper and wounded knights got in the hospital of Saint Lazarus in Bethany (near Jerusalem). Those, who were still strong enough, took part in care for brothers and people. As “living dead bodies”, they struggled and fought especially when the hospice was in danger. “ Leper knights, who until the last moments of their conscious existence (physically they had already been dead) protected with arms in their hand those who had already been disabled, they were personification of attempts that have no parallel in any other past or still existing knights´ and crusade orders. Although these words might sound rather emotional, it is necessary to mention and think about them so that we could reach and understand the spiritual basis of our extraordinary order,” Zdenek Tomčík continues. As he continued, international ceremonial acceptance of new members of the order at presence of Patriarchy Gregory III Lahama will be held on 28 May 2011 in the St Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava.
The first written document concerning the existence of the Order of Saint Lazarus in the Hungarian Kingdom dates back to 1181, in which a town of Dorog was mentioned as a land of members of Saint Lazarus in
Komárno- Esztergom County. Dorog spread on the well- known Roman route, only a few kilometers from Esztergom, the Church centre of the Hungarian Kingdom.
It is supposed that knights of Saint Lazarus came to the Hungarian Kingdom based on the invitation issued by Gejza II who supported crusaders´ orders, he established the Order of the Cross of Saint Stephen and hospitals in Esztergom and Székesfehervár in Hungary (at present).
Civilization Oppositional Movement
The Knight’s ideal in the Order of Saint Lazarus developed as an oppositional movement against crusader’s attacks that had been led in a very cruel way not only in Orient but also in Europe. It was newly defined as the European courtyard culture in the Medieval Times. This definition was involved in the principles of the European Nobles who experienced incredible development between renaissance and the World War I. “Every sensitive man with perfect manners following and preserving traditions and continuity, it a suitable opposite to each support of brutality. People having these features, and it does not matter whether from their birth or they gained them later and enlarged them, have approach towards old noble society or unchangeable traditional knights´ orders. Knights joined into communities in order to influence the world around them, “explains Róbert Jáger. Goals set up by Lazarus Knights are actual even these days: hospitality, secure masses, fights against atheists, protection of the Holy Grave and pilgrims and spread of Christianity. However, knights had to live ascetic lives, think in an altruistic way (not being selfish and not taking quid pro quo approach) and act according to the principle- devoutly, sincerely and bravely.
Knights of the Order attempt to unify Christians through the way of ecumenical cooperation, they develop care for ill, love to fellows and well- doing. Their charity and hospital institutions for people who are in need operate in many east European countries, in Canada, the USA, Mexico, and South America, South Africa. Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.
A House on a Half Way
In Slovakia, they are mainly active in East Slovakia and in Košice where they cooperate with Greek- Catholic Charity of Košice Eparchy and they are building a House of Saint Lazarus- A house on a Half Way. This project focuses on children who have to leave orphanages and have no accommodation, job or any social background. In Slovakia, every year almost 1, 000 children leave orphanages. Most of them are not lucky and end up somewhere on the periphery of our society.
The City of Košice provided the Order of Saint Lazarus a house in the street Slovenskej Jednoty that is being repaired by knights. After finishing the reconstruction works, you will find there a temporary home for 20 boys who, in three- 5 years will learn to solve problems in relationship, live and manage the household individually. Knights will search for a job and re-qualification for these boys, knights spiritual care, a Greek Catholic priest and his wife, who have already adopted a few children, will provide them with spiritual care.
If you would like to support this project “House on a Half Way”, you can deposit or send your financial contribution to the account in Tatrabanka, a.s.: 262 222 41 98/1100. Note: Dom sv. Lazara.
Glorious Resurrection of Lazarus
Worshipping of this event dates back to the early years of Christianity. In the 4th century, Lazarus Saturday had already been a great feast in the east. In the 4th century, Pilgrim
Egeria gave a detailed description of celebrating Lazarus Saturday in Jerusalem when she mentioned special procession to the Lazarus House in Bethany two miles far away from Jerusalem. Local bishop, priests and religious people in the procession on their way visited a church at the place where Maria, Lazarus’s sister, met Lord and told him that her brother had died and then they went to his tomb.
According to the church tradition, fair Lazarus left Bethany after his resurrection because Jewish representatives wanted to kill him. He went to Cyprus where he was a bishop and he died there later, i.e. 3o years after his resurrection. His resurrection was an important miracle of many by Jesus Christ. In addition, for many people, he was a living evidence of Christ deity. This miracle is also a prediction of resurrection of all people.
Victory of a king falling apart
“Two Saint Lazarus Knights dressed the king in armour, they were the only two men willing to touch him and be closer to him. They take off bandages and cloths from this leper face. They tight his legs to armour stirrups. A high knight’s saddle holds his back. In addition, the handle of a sword is tightened to his palm with an armour glove. A shield covers him and he uses it as a kind of support.
Two Saint Lazarus Knights stand next to him, two back him up. In from of the king, two of the most brave and strongest Frank knights sit in the saddles of fighting horses, they will fight through the enemies troops like a hardened woodcutter’s wedge. The Army of the King of Jerusalem attacked Saladin’s troops as a hurricane. First, go experienced templars. Next, the King of Jerusalem controlling his leper body just by the strength of his soul. Saint Lazarus Knights lead their king to the war. They use white shields with an emerald cross but also their bodies in order to protect their king. He really became one of them – not only a protector and patron of the order. However, the miracle happened: a few hours before the king’s weak body had been shaking while having been carried in the bed sheet held by two metal bars along the horses, now; it is a knight fighting with his sword and hiding using his shield, riding his huge horse. Lazar was resurrected! The idea of the order has been embodied again. Knight burst in tears and their eye are glued by sand coming from the desert.
Saladin cannot believe what he sees. His brave and confident troops are oppressed by non- religious people led by a leper young man whom they call the king and who had been mercilessly killed in his Kurd’s family.
Balduin IV, the King of Jerusalem, is victoriously standing over the battlefield and he is losing the rest of his power. He is half- blind. Being helped by the brothers from the Order of Saint Lazarus is put to his saddle and carefully place onto the sheet prepared. They take off his armour together with pieces of his body and muscles. They cover the revealed body and bleeding face of the king. Bishop Aubert, a priest of Saint Lazarus, cries and prays next to his field bed. The kind- resurrected Lazarus- has played the most important role in glorious victory of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.”
(A story dating back to the year 1179 when the Knights of the Order of Saint Lazarus protected their king and won in the battle against Saladin. The king had only his right shoulder healthy.)
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