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The Pool of Siloam with the Blind Man. The Sixth and last Sunday of Holy Pascha is observed by the Orthodox Church as the Sunday of the Blind Man, commemorating the miracle of Christ healing the man who was blind from birth. The Disciples recalled that, when the Lord had healed the paralytic at the Sheep’s Pool, He had told him: “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee,” and they wondered, if sickness was caused by sin, what sin could cause being born without eyes. The Lord anointed the eyes of the blind man with damp clay and said to him: “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam.” Siloam (Σιλωάμ, sent) was a well-known Jerusalem spring that flowed into the large Pool of Siloam and the Saviour sent the blind man to this pool not because the water had healing powers, but so that the faith and obedience of the man might be made manifest. Jesus said: “For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” The Sunday of the Blind Man is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. On this Sunday and throughout the Paschal period until the 9 June Apodosis (leave-taking) of Pascha is celebrated on the day before the Feast of the Ascension on 10 June, the services begin with the chanting of the troparion of Pascha: “Christ is risen…”. This Sunday, the theme continues to be the acquisition of the Holy Spirit poured out as a gift upon all the faithful who partake of the living water that is Christ Himself, the previous 2 Sundays having been the 23 May Sheep’s Pool with the Paralytic and the 30 May Well of Jacob with the Samaritan Woman. Then, on Pentecost grace is rained on parched souls and bodies so that they may be fruitful: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink”. Finally, the 27 June Feast of All Saints is for those who partook of the waters of piety and harvested the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Image: lookandlearn.com.

Prayer We come to You, O Christ, as the man blind from birth. You said that for judgement You came into this world so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind. We know that there are none so blind as those who will not see and, with the eyes of our souls blinded, we cry out to You in repentance: “You are the resplendent Light of those in darkness. We pray that You may pour out on us the gift of all the faithful who partake of the living water that You are, O Christ.” Amen

St Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain (Ven Simeon the Stylite, St Simeon the Younger, Saint Siméon le Stylite) (521-96). Celebration of the life of the pious Antiochian who at 6 survived an earthquake, during his childhood had several visions of the Lord Jesus Christ and arrived at a monastery in Antioch where the ascetic Simeon the Elder (d459) had lived on a 50-foot pillar. A new pillar was raised by the brethren of the monastery and at 7 the boy was initiated into monasticism and placed on the pillar. The humble young ascetic, strengthened by the Lord, quickly grew spiritually and received from God the gift of healing. His fame spread and monks and laypeople came to him to hear his counsel and receive healing. At 11, Simeon decided to pursue asceticism on a higher pillar, the top of which was 40 feet from the ground, and he was ordained deacon to labour on that pillar for 8 years. Simeon read books and copied Holy Scripture from dawn to mid-afternoon and then prayed all night. By God’s dispensation, he settled at 19 on the Wonderful Mountain 11 miles west of Antioch, having become an experienced Elder to the monks in his monastery. The ascent to the Wonderful Mountain was marked by a vision of the Lord standing atop a column and Simeon continued his labours at the place where he saw the Lord, first on a stone and then on a pillar. He received visions of the future and established a monastery on the Wonderful Mountain, where the sick people he healed built a church in gratitude for the mercy shown them. Simeon prayed for a spring of water for the needs of the monastery and during a shortage of grain the granaries of the monastery were filled with wheat by his prayers. In 560, the holy ascetic was ordained to the priesthood and at 75 was warned by the Lord of his impending end. He summoned the brethren of the monastery, instructed them in a farewell talk and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on 24 May, having toiled as a stylite for 68 years. He was buried in the large Antioch monastery where Simeon the Elder rested and, after death, the saint worked miracles just as he had when alive and healed the blind, the lame and the leprous, saved many from wild beasts, cast out devils and raised the dead. Eastern Orthodox Church Feast Day 24 May. Image: catalogueofstelisabethconvent.blogspot.com.

Ini Kopuria, by Charles E. Fox (1946)

Ini Kopuria (d1945). Church of England commemoration of death of police officer born in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands who with the Bishop of Melanesia founded in 1925 the Melanesian Brotherhood, an Anglican religious community of men in simple vows, a band of brothers (Ira Reta Tasiu) taking the Gospel of Jesus to the pagans of Melanesia. They were responsible for the evangelisation of large areas of Guadalcanal, Malaita, Temotu and other areas in the Solomons, Big Bay and other places in Vanuatu, and the Popondetta area of Papua New Guinea. The baptism of new converts was in the deep, cold water of a mountain river with the converts coming from the heathen bank, being baptised and passing over to the Christian bank of the river, where the Bishop sat with the converted in white loincloths around him. Then there was a great procession to the church, led by the Cross and with the singing of hymns of joy. After training for 3 years, a novice takes vows for a renewable term of 5 years and is admitted as a brother, usually on the Sunday nearest the 28 October Feast of Sts Simon and Jude. The Head Brother is the leader of the whole Brotherhood and is based at The Mother House at Tabalia on northwest Guadalcanal. 3 regional Head Brothers assist him, supervising the 3 three regions of the Solomon Islands, including Papua New Guinea based at Popondetta and Tumsisiro on east Ambae, Vanuatu. The Brothers follow a sixfold cycle of daily office and Eucharist with First Office (Prime), Morning Prayer, Mass, Morning Office (Terce), Midday Office (Sext), Afternoon Office (None), Evening Prayer and Last Office (Compline). The text for Morning Prayer, the Eucharist and Evening Prayer are from the Melanesian English Prayer Book, or its authorised alternatives. The lesser hours are simple offices rather than monastic and the devotion of the Angelus (Regina Coeli) is prayed daily. The brothers follow the evangelical counsels under the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. The constitution of the Brotherhood permits some brothers to take life vows, but most serve for from 7 to 20 years before going back into the world, usually finding a wife and resuming life as a Christian layman in his village. Some brothers are ordained to the diaconate or the priesthood and several Filipinos and Europeans have joined the community. Ini Kopuria led the Brotherhood for its first 15 years and died in his village of Marovovo in Guadalcanal. During ethnic tension in the Solomon Islands at the turn of the last century, the Brotherhood participated in peace-making that led to a ceasefire, gathering weapons from the combatants and discarding them at sea. However, one rebel leader did not comply and 7 brothers were murdered, their bodies being interred at Tabalia in 2003. In 2008, they were honoured during the concluding Mass of the Lambeth Conference at Canterbury Cathedral and their icon stands at the Cathedral as a reminder of their witness to peace and of the multi-ethnic character of Global Anglicanism. Those Seven Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood are remembered in the Church of England with a commemoration on 24 April. Image: anglicanhistory.org.