To the Ends of the Earth

Orthodox Christian Missions

Fr. Cosmas, Enlightener of Zaire

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zair6Fr. Cosmas was a missionary to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), dying in 1989.  To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Fr. Cosmas’ death, the Greek missionary quarterley, St. Cosmas of Aitolia, has published  an edition on the life and fruit of Fr. Cosmas’ ministry.  As a bonus for us English speakers, they also published a mostly English edition, which can be found here.  The  issue contains a number of articles and reflections on Fr. Cosmas’ life and ministry, and also a short article in French.  In addition, Road to Emmaus has a short selection of his letters, found here.

The following are a couple of  selections.

From Road to Emmaus.

Monday, June 3, Feast of the Holy Spirit

. . . Late in the evening we arrive in Kolwezi. Here I found Christopher, one poor Christian, carrying his dead five-year-old son on his back in order to go to his village, which lies ten kilometers outside of Kolwezi. In the span of two weeks this man lost five children from an epidemic. I took him, his son and his wife in the car to the Mission Base. We put the poor little child in a coffin, covered him with a white sheet and, together with Father Gerasimos, took them to their village in order to bury him. Outside of their hut both Christians and idol-worshipers were waiting for them. The latter group started to mourn in their usual way, bent over and rolling on the ground, belting out inarticulate cries. We calmed them down and read the Service and spoke to them about death and the Resurrection. Father Gerasimos remained with many of the Christians in order to pass the night with chanting and prayer . . .

From St. Cosmas of Aitolia: Quarterley Journal of Greek Orthodox Mission

. . . A few months before his departure from this life, Father Cosmas visited the monastery of his repentance and spoke to the pilgrims there of this African nobility and their desire for authentic, ascetic Orthodoxy.  Biship Athanasios Yievtich, a close disciple of the great contemporary Church Father, Archimandrite Justin Popovich, was present and relates what Fr. Cosmas had to say:

They are people with great a sensitivity and awareness of the inner world.  Europeans usually underestimate them, but they are very mistaken.  The soul of the African inclines toward mysticism and for this reason Orthodoxy has something to say to them and something to offer, but only authentic Orthodoxy — monasticism, hagiorite Orthodoxy.  For among the brethren of Africa, witchcraft and magic holds great sway, a real demonocracy.  In Africa, I saw how true the Gospel of Christ is!  Everything that He said about the possession of men by the demons, I saw first hand.  However, the Living and True God is more powerful than Satan and all his servants.  Let it be understood, however, that true missionary-apostolic work cannot be carried out in Africa if one does not decide to leave his bones there.

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Written by Stephen

August 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Posted in Africa, Congo, Missionaries

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