Friday, October 9, 2015

A Cry of Anguish from the Orthodox Community of Syria

Even the priests are leaving the country - only 1,900 families are left.

Maria Antoniadou
October 3, 2015

Even priests are now leaving Syria in an effort to protect their children and grandchildren.

In the region of Aleppo, near the border with Turkey, in 2010 there were living 75,000 Orthodox Christian families. In 2013 their number was reduced by fifty thousand. Today, according to the most optimistic estimates, there are no more than 1,900 families. And of the 20 priests that shepherded the city and villages around Aleppo, today there remain only 2.

Saint Poplia the Confessor, Who Confronted Julian the Apostate With Spiritual Songs


Poplia was delivered from the delusions of this world,
As a sparrow that leaves its nest for the sky.

By Theodoret of Cyrus 
(Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 3, Ch. 14)

I will now include in my history the noble story of a right excellent woman, for even women, armed with divine zeal, despised the mad fury of Julian [the Apostate] (361-363).

In those days there was a woman named Poplia [or Publia], of high reputation, and illustrious for deeds of virtue. For a short time she bore the yoke of marriage, and had offered its most goodly fruit to God, for from this fair soil sprang John, who for a long time was chief presbyter at Antioch, and was often elected to the apostolic see, but from time to time declined the dignity.* She maintained a company of virgins vowed to virginity for life, and spent her time in praising God who had made and saved her.

Holy Apostle James, the Son of Alphaeus

St. James, Son of Alphaeus (Feast Day - October 9)


James was lifted up on the cross,
For it pleased You Savior to show him worthy.
On the ninth James was stretched out on the cross.

The holy Apostle James was the son of Alphaeus and brother of the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, who was formerly a publican. When our Lord Jesus Christ, abiding on earth in the flesh, chose simple and pious men for the dignity of the apostolate, to send them forth to preach the Gospel throughout the world, He also chose this James, and numbered him among the choir of the apostles as one worthy. James became one of the twelve apostles, an eyewitness and minister of Christ, the preacher of His mysteries and His follower.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

An Interview With Elder Sophrony About Saint Silouan the Athonite (4 of 4)

The Church of Saint Silouan the Athonite in Essex, England, built by Elder Sophrony.

Being confronted for years with a man like Saint Silouan, who brought within him "both God and humanity", as you said, must open uncommon perspectives. And some of the meetings with him must have been very enlightening.

Elder Sophrony: I had questions deep within me that turned into puzzlement and I presented them to him and he helped me more than anyone in answering them. Three times a day in the prayers of the Church we ask that God would grant "this day" or "this evening to be kept without sin". So I asked him:

"How, while living in this world, which is hopelessly dynamic and steeped in despair, can we live without sinning? How can we avoid sin?"

I also asked him other questions, like:

"How can we be sure that the spirit that acts in us is the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father?"

"What condition of the spirit shows us that we are truly the image of the Living God?"

Saint Philip of Gortyna

Church of Saint Titus in Gortyna, Crete

Saint Philip of Gortyna (+ 180) was Bishop of Gortyna on Crete, a successor of the Apostle Titus. Little is known about him except for his authorship of a now lost treatise against the Gnostics. An Early Christian Apologist, he wrote in the time of Marcus Aurelius against Marcion. He was mentioned with great praise by Dionysius of Corinth in one of his letters to the Christian Community in Gortyna. Though he is not mentioned in the synaxaria of the Church, the Church of Crete honors him October 8th, while others honor him on April 11th.

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