By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
The divine Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, 'Truly this was the Son of God'" (Matthew 27:54). That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who with two other of his soldiers came to believe in Jesus, the Son of God.
Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha, and was also the chief of the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of the Resurrection of Christ, they bribed the soldiers to spread the false news that Christ did not resurrect, but rather that His disciples stole His body. The Jews also tried to bribe Longinus, but he did not allow himself to be bribed. Then the Jews resorted to their usual strategy: they decided to kill Longinus. Learning of this, Longinus removed his military belt, was baptized with his two companions by an apostle, secretly left Jerusalem and moved to Cappadocia with his companions. There, he devoted himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of Christ's Resurrection, converted many pagans to the true Faith by his witness.
After that, he withdrew to a village on the estate of his father. Even there, however, the malice of the Jews did not leave him in peace. Due to the calumnies of the Jews, Pilate dispatched soldiers to behead Longinus. St. Longinus foresaw in the spirit the approach of his executioners and went out to meet them. He brought them to his home, not telling them who he was.
He was a good host to the soldiers, and soon they lay down to sleep. But St. Longinus stood up to pray, and prayed all night long, preparing himself for death. In the morning, he called his two companions to him, clothed himself in white burial clothes, and instructed the other members of his household to bury him on a particular small hill. He then went to the soldiers and told them that he was that Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were perplexed and ashamed, and could not even contemplate beheading Longinus, but he insisted that they fulfill the order of their superior.
Thus, Longinus and his two companions were beheaded. The soldiers took Longinus's head to Pilate, and he turned it over to the Jews. They threw it on a dung heap outside the city.
Two Appearances of St. Longinus
The first appearance of the Holy Martyr Longinus was as follows: Much time had passed since his martyrdom when it happened that a widow in Cappadocia became blind. The doctors were unable to do anything at all for her. Suddenly, the thought came to her to go to Jerusalem and venerate the holy places there, hoping that she might find help. She had an only son, a boy, who served as her guide, but as soon as they arrived in Jerusalem, her son died of an illness. Oh, how immeasurable was her sorrow! Having lost her eyes, she now lost her only son, whose eyes had guided her. But in her pain and sorrow, St. Longinus appeared to her and comforted her with the promise that he would restore her sight and reveal to her the heavenly glory in which her son now dwelt. Longinus told her everything about himself, and told her to go outside the city walls to the dung heap, and there to dig up his head, and that she herself would see what would happen next. The woman arose and, stumbling, somehow managed to get out of the city. She cried out for someone to lead her to the dung heap and to leave her there. When she was led to the dung heap, she bent down and began to dig with her hands, having a strong faith that she would find that for which the saint asked. As she was digging, she touched the holy martyr's buried head, and her eyes were opened, and she saw a man's head beneath her hands. Filled with gratitude to God and great joy, she took the head of St. Longinus, washed it, censed it, and placed it in her home as the most precious treasure on earth.
The second appearance of the Holy Martyr Longinus: When Longinus appeared to the blind widow whose son had died, he promised to restore her sight and to reveal her son in great glory. Finding the relics of the holy martyr and touching them with her hands, the widow immediately regained her sight, and thus, one promise was fulfilled. The following night, St. Longinus appeared to the widow in radiant attire, holding her son by the hand, who was also clothed resplendently. Caressing the child like a father, Longinus said: "Woman, behold your son for whom you weep so much! Look at the honor and glory given him; look and be comforted. God has numbered him among the heavenly ranks who live in His Kingdom. I have now brought him from the Savior, and he will never be parted from me. Take my head and your son's body, and bury them together in one coffin. Mourn your son no longer, and let not your heart be troubled, for great glory, joy, and endless rejoicing is given him from God." Seeing and hearing all this, the woman was filled with great joy, and she returned to her home, saying to herself: "I asked for bodily eyes and I found spiritual eyes. I was saddened at the death of my son, and now I have him in heaven, where he remains in glory with the prophets and rejoices with them unceasingly."
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Martyr Longinus
St. Longinus stood beneath the Cross
When, on the Cross, Christ breathed His last.
Longinus beheld the wrath of the mild sky,
Witnessed the earth as it shook,
And the bright sun as it lost its rays
And clothed the whole world in darkness.
The tombs of many were opened,
And many of the dead appeared alive.
Brave Longinus was filled with fear,
And exclaimed with a remorseful sigh:
"This Man was the Son of God!
Sinful men have crucified the Innocent One!"
Next to him, two other soldiers
Echoed the exclamation of their centurion.
Longinus was a witness of the Resurrection,
And he could attest to His humiliation as well.
An eyewitness, a true witness,
Longinus desired to not conceal the truth,
But proclaimed it everywhere he went,
And glorified the resurrected Christ God!
To his death he remained Christ's soldier;
And for Christ, Longinus gave his head.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr Longinus, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Longinus, you beheld the King of Glory who was nailed to the Cross, yet shone on those in darkness. You were enlightened by His rays and became a martyr and save those who cry: Glory to Him who gave you strength! Glory to Him who granted you a crown! Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
With great joy the Church of Christ today rejoiceth on the festive memory of blest Longinus, the all-famed and godly prizewinner. And she doth cry out: O Christ, my foundation and might art Thou.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
The Glinsk Hermitage came into being in the 16th century in Kursk Province (a territory which now is part of the Sumsk Region), on the site of the appearance of the miraculous icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos. It appeared in a pine tree. A solitary desert-dweller first settled there, and then others joined him. Later, the Glinsk Hermitage was attached to a succession of monasteries, but even after being granted independence, it was not known as a distinguished monastery until 1817, when Abbot Philaret (Danilevsky) of the St. Sophronius Hermitage was assigned there. Upon his arrival at the monastery, he found only a few ancient structures and 25 brethren. Inspired by the example and teachings of St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Abbot Philaret truly became the awakener and spiritual founder of the monastery which became renowned for its eldership and wide-ranging charitable undertakings. Already at the close of the 19th century, the Glinsk Hermitage encompassed 5 churches, 4 house churches, 15 buildings to house the residents, 8 hostels for the faithful, a refectory, a laundry, a hospital with a pharmacy, and many household buildings, including 4 waterwheel-powered mills. The monastery included a vocational school in which up to 50 boys, primarily orphans, were educated. Approximately 400 people lived at the monastery.
Almost everything of the external glory of the monastery was swept away by the revolutionary whirlwind. By 1942, when the warmth of monastic life was rekindled on the ruins of its former splendor, the Glinsk Hermitage included only one house church, in the building also housing the hospital and ”bishop's” building.
The most noteworthy aspect of the history of the monastery was the fact that its monastics were able to endure through all of the deprivations and trials of the awful decades, and to return to the monastery not the glory of its former magnificence, but rather the spirit of true asceticism, eldership, and service to the world. This permitted the Glinsk Hermitage to function for a short time – from 1942 to 1961, when it was once again shut down – as a manifestation of unusual spiritual strength, at whose center were the elders.
We were told a great deal about the elders of the Glinsk Hermitage by his Eminence, the Most Reverend Lazarus, during his visits to Washington, and by Schema-archimandrite Makary Bolotov, who was personally acquainted with several of the Glinsk elders during the final stage of the history of the monastery. They both believe that the time will come when the Church will include them in the host of Saints. [On August 21, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, canonized three Glinsk elders: Schema-Metropolitan Seraphim (Mazhugi), Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (Romantsov), and Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (Lukash) -Pravoslavie.ru]
Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (1885–1976)
He was able to make us feel that earthly life is only the podvig of temporary wandering on the path to eternal life.
After Glinsk monastery was closed in 1922, Fr. Juvenaly moved to the Drandsk Monastery of the Dormition (Sukhumi diocese, Abkhazia), where in 1926 he was ordained a hieromonk and tonsured into the great schema with the name Seraphim. However, the Drandsk Monastery was also soon closed. Until 1930, Fr. Seraphim lived near Alma Alta and worked as the guardian of an apiary. The armed forces did not arrest him, and did not send him to build the White Sea Canal. From 1934 to 1946, Fr. Seraphim lived in Kyrgyzstan. He celebrated Divine Service at night, confessing and communing the faithful during those services.
On December 30, 1947 Fr. Seraphim returned to Glinsk Hermitage (which had just reopened), and in 1948 Archimandrite Seraphim (Amelin), seeing his spiritual experience and perfection in monastic labors, appointed Hieroschemamonk Seraphim as father-confessor of the brothers.
The elder had a special spiritual gift for hearing confessions, for calling people to complete openness. He received with particular fatherly love those who were tormented by woes, sorrows, and despondency, and those who did not know what path to take in life. Fr. Seraphim was able to make people perceive that earthly life is only the podvig of temporary wandering on the path to eternal life; he called people to a life that is Christian, perfect, and lofty. People came to him from all ends of the Soviet Union.
The elder's own humility was remarkable. He never ascribed anything to his own gifts, or considered himself a man of special prayer. The elder's day began at 2:00 a.m., when he did his cell rule, and then attended the services from beginning to end, after which he gave himself over to service of his neighbor: he received pilgrims, assigned them places to live, confessed them. At night he answered letters. He copied excerpts from the holy fathers and blessed his spiritual children to do the same, and he would send the copies later to others. Love inspired him to selflessly care for every soul. He was a great God-pleaser and a true pastor. Not only monks and laypeople came to him for advice, but even bishops, who saw that he was not a man of the flesh, but of the spirit. After Glinsk Hermitage was again closed, Fr. Seraphim moved to Sukhumi, where he continued his labors as an elder in the capacity of father confessor of the Cathedral. Multitudes of the faithful came to him there. On January 1, 1976, the grace-filled elder peacefully gave up his spirit to God.
Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (1880–1974)
Having endured three arrests, exile, humiliation, and hunger, he was able to fulfill the commandment, "Love thine enemies"
Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (in the world Alexei Andreyevich Lukash), a venerable elder and great man of prayer, was born February 12, 1880 in the village of Lupa, in the Romen region of Poltava province, to a peasant family. In 1895 Alexei came to Glinsk Hermitage with the desire to dedicate his life to God.
In 1915 he was enlisted in the army. First he served in Perm, but was soon transferred to the front, where he was taken prisoner by the Austrians, and remained in Austria for three and a half years. The prisoners were hardly fed, and given the most difficult labor. Many prisoners died of hunger and labors beyond their strength. But Alexei prayed intensely and accepted all these afflictions as from the hand of God. In 1918 he returned to the monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure in 1921 with the name Andronik. After the monastery was closed, he worked at a mill in the town of Putivl. Monk Andronik's strict monastic life and unmurmuring obedience drew the attention of Bishop Pavlin (Kroshechnik), a vicar of Kursk, who received him as his cell attendant. But Fr. Andronik was arrested and exiled. When he was released on amnesty, he again became Bishop Pavlin's cell attendant. In July of 1930, Fr. Andronik was arrested in Kaluga and sentenced to five years of imprisonment. In exile, Fr. Andronik worked as a nursing aide in a prison hospital. He looked after the sick with sincere compassion and love, washing them himself. Everyone loved him; the Uzbek prisoners even called him "mama."
In 1939, Fr. Andronik was again sentenced and sent to Kolyma. First, they detained him for eleven months in the prison, where he was interrogated every night, being pressured to slander Bishop Pavlin, but the elder kept silence. In the prison cell, Fr. Andronik had a vision of a certain Lady, who consoled and encouraged him. At first, he thought that this was his mother, but only later understood that she was the Mother of God.
Having completed his prison term, in 1948 Fr. Andronik returned to Glinsk Hermitage and was appointed dean of the monastery. It was his duty to watch after everyone in the monastery, gather the brothers to cut hay, prepare firewood, and work in the garden; he was always the first to do these labors. Fr. Andronik's soul, purified by many sorrows, was filled with the gifts of grace. This bearing of the spirit attracted people to the elder. Having magnanimously endured all suffering, he fulfilled the commandment to love thine enemies in deed. Humility and meekness reigned inseparably in his soul; the elder even walked bowed in humility.
After the monastery was again closed in 1961, Fr. Andronik moved to Tbilisi under the direct care of the former abbot of Glinsk Monastery, Metropolitan Zenobius (Mazhugi) of Tetritskaroi, who greatly loved and respected the elder. Just as they did to Glinsk, now people came to Fr. Andronik in Georgia from all over the Soviet Union seeking salvation. His whole life was directed at one goal—the salvation of his soul and the souls of his neighbors. On March 21, 1978, having reached deep old age, he gave his spirit to God.
Schema-Metropolitan Seraphim (1896–1985)
He was able to unite the magnificence of a hierarch with the humility of a monk, and became a wise pastor to the faithful of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and the Ukraine.
In the person of the great elder, Metropolitan Zenobius of Tetritskaroi (in schema, Seraphim) was wondrously combined the sanctity of his personal life, love for people, and love of enlightenment. The future Metropolitan Seraphim (in the world, Zakharia Joachimovich Mazhuga) was born on September 14, 1896 in the town of Glukhov to a working class family. Having lost his father early in life, he was raised by his mother, and often went to Glinsk Hermitage. The grace-filled atmosphere of the monastery and the example of his God-loving mother instilled the love of God in him.
In 1914, he became a novice of the monastery, and in 1916, Zakharia Mazhuga was called to military duty. In the swamps of Pinsk he developed eczema and thrombophlebitis. But the young man's worst fear was killing someone. It was resolved by a miracle: through his fervent prayers, he was sent to the ranks of armed escorts, and did not participate in the battles.
After demobilization, Zakharia returned to the monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure with the name Zenobius. During the terrible period of civil war, Zinobius was entrusted with the dangerous obedience of gathering wheat from the monastery mill. While other monks who had this obedience where attacked, his loads of wheat were never robbed. In 1922, Glinsk Hermitage was closed. The young monk moved to the Caucasus, to the Drandsk Monastery of the Dormition near Sukhumi. Soon that monastery would also be closed; Fr. Zenobius moved with some other monks to the mountains of Abzhazia and started a small skete of desert dwellers.
The monks had no peace there either. There was one miraculous incident when Fr. Zenobius climbed into a bear's lair to hide from the authorities, and the bear did not touch him.
Fr. Zenobius moved to Rostov-on-the-Don, where he was arrested in 1930, and held for seven months without even receiving an accusation for his arrest. In imprisonment in the Urals, he performed the services and needs from memory. Everyone respected him for his generosity and fearlessness, and always called him "father." One day a miracle happened to him: he was returning to the camp in winter after work when he saw a bunch of grapes lying on the snow—something nearly impossible in January in the Urals. He gave a grape to each man in the brigade, and there was enough for everyone.
Having been in prison for four years and eight months, Fr. Zenobius left for Tbilisi. Later he was the rector of a church in Armenia, and then served in Batumi. After the restoration of ecclesiastical relations between the Georgian and Russian Churches, Fr. Zenobius was appointed dean of all the Russian parishes in Georgia and Armenia. From 1950 until his very death he was the rector of the St. Alexander Nevsky Church in Tbilisi.
Archimandrite Zenobius was consecrated a bishop in 1956, and in 1972 he was raised to the rank of metropolitan. All those around him treated him with great respect and gratefulness, amazed at the harmony in him of hierarchical magnificence with monastic humility. Having become an archpastor, Vladyka always maintained his connection with Glinsk Hermitage, providing shelter to many of its brothers after it was closed in 1961, among whom were elder Seraphim (Romanstov) and Andronik (Lukash). Vladyka departed to the Lord on March 8, 1985.
From the Official Site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Source: Translated by Pravoslavie.ru/OrthoChristian.com
"It had brought melancholy across his passions. Its mere memory had marred many moments of joy. It had been like conscience to him. Yes, it had been conscience. He would destroy it."
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ch. 20
Friday, October 15, 2010
By Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
Strictly speaking, there never was a ‘Bible’ in the Orthodox Church, at least not as we commonly think of the Bible as a single volume book we can hold in our hand. Since the beginning of the Church, from the start of our liturgical tradition, there has never been a single book in an Orthodox church we could point to as ‘the Bible’. Instead, the various ‘Books’ of the Bible are found scattered throughout several service books located either on the Holy Altar itself, or at the chanter's stand. The Gospels (or their pericopes) are complied into a single volume — usually bound in precious metal and richly decorated — placed on the Holy Altar.
The Epistles (or, again, their pericopes) are bound together in another book, called the Apostolos, which is normally found at the chanter's stand. Usually located next to the Apostolos on the chanter's shelf are the twelve volumes of the Menaion, as well as the books called the Triodion and Pentekostarion, containing various segments of the Old and the New Testaments.
The fact that there is no ‘Bible’ in the church should not surprise us, since our liturgical tradition is a continuation of the practices of the early Church, when the Gospels and the letters from the Apostles (the Epistles) had been freshly written and copied for distribution to the Christian communities. The ‘Hebrew Scriptures’ (what we now call the ‘Old Testament’, comprising the Law (the first five books) and the Prophets, were likewise written on various scrolls, just as they were found in the Jewish synagogues.
The Church is not based on the Bible. Rather, the Bible is a product of the Church. For the first few centuries of the Christian era, no one could have put his hands on a single volume called ‘The Bible’. In fact, there was no one put his hands on a single volume called ‘The Bible’. In fact, there was no agreement regarding which ‘books’ of Scripture were to be considered accurate and correct, or canonical. Looking back over history, there were various ‘lists’ of the canonical ‘books’ comprising the Bible:
•The Muratorian Canon (130 AD) cities all the books we considered as parts of the Bible today, except for Hebrews, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation/Apocalypse
•Canon 60 of the local Council of Laodicea (364 AD) cited Revelation/Apocalypse
•A festal Epistle by Saint Athanasius (369 AD) lists all of them.
Even so, there was no official, authoritative ‘canon’ listing all the books until the Sixth Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople in AD 680. Canon II of that Council ratifies the First through the Fifth Ecumenical Councils, as well as the local councils at Carthage (AD 255), Ancyra (AD 315), Neocaesaria (AD 315), Gangra (AD 340), Antioch (AD 341), Laodicea (AD 364), Sardica (AD 347), Constantinople (AD 394), and Carthage (AD 419). When the Council at Laodicea specified the content of the bible as we know it — 39 years after the First Ecumenical Council (AD 325) and 17 years before the second Ecumenical Council (AD 381) — the Liturgy was pretty much well-defined and established and had been ‘canonized’ by common usage — the reading from these books. It was not until the invention of the printing press in Western Europe, coinciding with the period of the Protestant Reformation of Western Christianity that ‘The Bible’ was widely disseminated as a single volume.
When Protestant Western Christians reviewed the canonical books of Scripture, they adopted the ‘Hebrew Canon’ accepted by the Jews since AD 100. [See The Books of the Old Testament]
The so-called Apocrypha, or Deuterocanonical, books were a problem for Jews living after the time of Christ, since they often very clearly prophesy concerning Our Lord, and indicate His divinity. Some of the books were also problematic for both the Jews and the Protestants because they make prophetically evident the special role of the Theotokos in the oikonomia of salvation. In fact, the Orthodox Fathers cite passages quite effectively to discuss the Church's understanding of the role of the Theotokos. Also, the only scriptural reference to praying for the dead is found in a Deuterocanonical book: viz., Maccabees. Not surprisingly, these Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books were rejected from the ‘canon’ of books indicated in the Jewish Scriptures. This canon was formally pronounced by a rabbinical council at Jamnia, which stated that all canonical Scripture had to have been written: in Palestine, in Hebrew (not Greek), and more then 400 years prior (300 BC) to that time.
In addition, the authorized Hebrew ‘translation’ was at variance with the accepted Septuagint Greek versions, which had been prepared by 72 translators working in Alexandria Egypt. This is significant, because the Apostles, who were the authors of the New Testament, as well as the early Church Fathers, frequently cite passages only found in the Septuagint (Greek) Old Testament that have significant differences in meaning from the Hebrew. Moreover, they frequently cite passages from the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament.
The Holy Scriptures were produced by the Orthodox Church. The Church's holy prophets and Apostles wrote the books contained in the Bible. The Church determined which books were authoritative and belonged in Holy Scripture. The Church preserved and passed on the texts of these Scriptural books. According to tradition, the seventy-two Jewish rabbis and scholars who gave us the Septuagint Greek Old Testament, produced seventy-two identical Greek translations working independently and in insolation from one another. Writing in Greek, the Holy Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude produced the books of the New Testament.
The Holy Scriptures were preserved by the Orthodox Church. These books and letters were studied, copied, collected, recopied, passed from group of early Christians to another, and read in the services of the Church. Testimony to the fidelity of reproduction in this milieu is the consistent agreement among the Church Fathers when they cite Scripture, and their common understanding of Scripture in their deliberations at the local and Ecumenical councils.
Over the centuries, alterations crept into some manuscripts. Sometimes the texts were altered by accident (e.g.., mistakes made in copying these books by hand). At other times intentional alterations were made, either by misguided but innocent copyists who thought they were correcting errors in the manuscripts they were working from, or by heretics who full intended to change the words of Scripture to suit their purposes. The Church, however, guided by the Holy Spirit, distinguished between authentic and inauthentic manuscripts, discarding or ignoring the latter, copying and handing on the former. Even today we see the authentic words of Scripture preserved. When a young priest or a chanter mispronounces a word in its original Greek, there will be a Bishop, an older priest — or even a venerable Orthodox ‘grandmother’ — who will be quick to point out the aberration from the way the text ‘has always been sung or read’!
The authentic Greek text of the Bible is preserved by the Orthodox Church. When translating the New Testament into English, there are many Greek manuscripts to choose from. To ask, ‘What does the original Greek say?’ is to beg the question, which Greek text? For Orthodox Christians this is a very easy question to answer. We simply use the Greek text handed down within the Orthodox Church which has been proven consistent by 2000 years of liturgical use and which the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has given us. To Scripture scholars there is a huge body of ancient Greek manuscripts, known as the Byzantine text-type, which embodies the Orthodox textual tradition. These old manuscripts and lectionaries differ very little from each other, and are indeed in overwhelming agreement with each other throughout the whole New Testament. Furthermore, they are great in number and comprise the vast majority of existing Greek manuscripts.
There is another, bogus, Greek text of the Bible. Besides the Byzantine text-type family of manusciprts, there is a minor collection of Greek Scripture texts which are very old, and sometimes predate the Byzantine texts by hundreds of years.
In the middle of the last century, ‘modern’ Scripture scholars, or critics, determined that newly-‘discovered’ ancient texts — such as the Codex Sinaiticus, the Alexandrian Codex, the Codex Ephraemi rescriptus — dating from the fourth through the sixth centuries, had determining authority in establishing the original text of the Gospels and the words of the Lord. Criticism was leveled against these critics by other scholars who maintained that the older manuscripts had been preserved through the ages precisely because they were set aside and unused since they were inferior copies — obvious from the ineptitude of the hands that wrote them and the many misspellings. They argued that it was hardly logical to prefer inferior texts from one text family over the received Byzantine texts were in agreement. Furthermore, they noted that the received text has even more ancient parallels — in second century Syriac and Latin versions — and is widely quoted in the Fathers. Even papyrus fragments from the first century bear out the veracity of the Byzantine text, and refute the validity of the older texts.
Amazingly — indeed, even unbelievably — most modern translators work from an ‘eclectic’ or ‘critical text’, which draws very heavily from the older Codices. This eclectic text is a patchwork of readings from the various manuscripts which differ from each other and from the Byzantine text.
Any Greek Orthodox Christian can take a copy of the Nestle-Aland critical (eclectic) text into church, and compare the Epistles with those in the Apostolos — they differ, often, radically, in hundreds of places, not only in words and word order, but also in tenses and meanings! The same comparison can be made between an English translation of the Psalms and the Greek version found in the Horologion — they differ in thousands of places. The English has often been translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text which was compiled by Jewish scholars during the first ten centuries after Christ. These scholars used inferior texts or edited them to delete or minimize the messianic prophecies or types which refer to Christ. Surprisingly, this Hebrew version of the Psalms is used even though the Greek Septuagint is often used to decipher the Masoretic text which is often unintelligible since the vowels are not indicated.
Most modern English Bible translations are based on bogus versions of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, no English translation of the Bible has been made using the Byzantine text-type manuscripts of the New Testament since the King James Version (KJV) in 1611. The others are all based on the eclectic Greek New Testament manuscripts and various Hebrew Old Testament texts. The bottom line is that manuscripts which the Orthodox Church did not use or copy have been elevated above those texts which the Church has preserved by modern and contemporary Scripture scholars and translators. Sadly, but perhaps significantly indicative, is the fact that the scholars who put together those eclectic critical texts decisively reject the Byzantine (that is to say, Orthodox) text-type, claiming that the Byzantine text was corrupted by Orthodox copyists eager to conform the text of Scripture to Orthodox theology as it developed over the first several centuries of the Church's life.
The Orthodox stand on the Critical Eclectic Texts. As Orthodox, we cannot believe that the text of Scripture is arbitrary and governed only by human considerations — especially those of modern scholars who decide what is and what is not ‘authentic’. We see the presence of God and His providence in our daily lives; how can they be denied to exist in the Church and in the canon and text of the Holy Scriptures? Otherwise everything in our liturgical worship is suspect and unreliable. The human element cannot be ignored or denied, but neither can the divine. Yet most biblical scholars and textual critics wish to disregard any form of divine intervention or revelation in order to make their study ‘scientific’. In fact, present-day biblical scholarship hides its fundamental unbelief from believers and even from itself. It ultimately results in such ludicrous claims that Jesus Christ never spoke any of the words recorded in the Bible — claims that make the front page of national news magazines and mislead millions of people.
Perhaps the best example of the modern ‘scholars’ bias is found in the first chapter, first verse of the Gospel of Mark: ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ The modernists drop the words ‘the Son of God’ because they are absent from the Codex Sinaiticus and papyrus miniscules 28 and 255. Yet they appear in all other copies and versions and in many quotations of the fathers!
Modern translations obscure the Divinity of Christ. In what can only be a return to the ancient heresy of Arius, even the much touted 1952 Revised Standard Version (RSV) translation of Scripture tends to minimize Christ's divine nature. Forty years ago the King James translation was widely impugned for being based on the Greek Byzantine texts which were called corrupt — an amazing accusation considering the pedigree of the eclectic critical texts. In the liberal theological milieu of that time, many Protestant theologians denied not only the virgin birth, but also the divinity of Christ and His resurrection. One curious feature of the RSV translation is its apparent mixture of old and new English; the older traditional second person singular pronoun, thou/thee/thy, is intermixed with the nondescript modern ye/you/you. While at first glance this seems chaotic, it actually serves as a hidden code. The traditional ‘thou’ usage is employed when God is addressed, but ‘you’ whenever anyone else is addressed. Note, for example, that the Our Father in the RSV retains the word ‘thy’ in referring to God's name, kingdom, and will. But note that in the RSV translation a leper addresses Jesus in Mark 1:40, Saying ‘If you will, you can make me clean’, and Peter says in Matthew 16:16, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ The only time in the RSV that Christ is addressed as ‘Thou’ is after He is no longer on earth, but even this is found mainly in Hebrews when Paul quotes from the Old Testament.
The clearly Protestant bias against the Theotokos, and her Orthodox definition as critical to preserving the divinity of Christ is also very evident in the RSV. Consider Matthew 1:25 (KJV): ‘(Joseph) knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called his name Jesus.’ But in the RSV: ‘(Joseph) knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.’ From the Byzantine, Orthodox, texts, the KJV tells us that Mary brought forth not a son, but her firstborn — precluding her having had previous children. Moreover, He is clearly her son; but not Joseph's. Note how the RSV is distinguished from the KJV in Luke 2:33; after Simeon returned Jesus to His mother, the narrative tells us (KJV): ‘Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.’ But the RSV: ‘And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.’ The RSV infers that Joseph is Jesus' father, presumably his biological father — a clear refutation of the dogma of virgin birth.
Or again, consider the following notable omission in John 3:13. KJV: ‘No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.’ But the RSV: ‘No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.’
The Byzantine text is clearly reflected in the KJV; the eclectic text by the RSV. Yet only a tiny handful of manuscripts omit the expression ‘which is in heaven’ while the vast majority of manuscripts include it, as do the quotations of Church fathers such as Saint Basil the Great, Saint Hilary, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Cyril. This particular Scripture text is the clearest witness to the Orthodox teaching that Christ is fully man while not being circumscribed in any way as God, since it indicates that Christ was simultaneously on earth in the body and in heaven with the Father. It also indicates, contrary to modern liberal theology, that our Lord knew very well just Who He was, where He came from, and what business He was about.
There are many more examples, but let us simply note one more, I Corinthians 15:47, which needs no further comment. KJV: ‘The first man is of the earth, earthly: the second man is the Lord from heaven.’ But the RSV: ‘The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.’
The Corruption of ‘Paraphrased’ Bibles. There is no need in this article to provide such critical analysis of the various other translations which followed the RSV (e.g, NIV, NAB); all are even more flawed. A comment should be made, however, of several very dangerous paraphrased ‘versions’ of the Bible, such as ‘Today's English Version’ and the volume sold as ‘The Book’. If the Scripture scholars can criticize the Byzantine copyists for corrupting the text to conform to Orthodox theology, what are we to say about the non-Orthodox paraphrases who have radically altered not only text, but the whole meaning of various passages? These ‘Bibles’ are to be totally and completely avoided by the Orthodox; they have no good purpose whatsoever because they are gross distortions of the truth, and serve only to infiltrate a completely corrupted theology into the minds of the faithful.
The Orthodox Witness. One very interesting question, never asked, is this: ‘If scholars are willing to assemble an eclectic text out of Scripture fragments from various sources — often of unknown doctrinal origin or authority — why haven't they ever considered the living archeological evidence of Scripture segments that have been repeated faithfully for ages in the Orthodox Liturgy?’ Why haven't serious modern scholars considered the incredible ‘coincidence’ that 72 Hebrew scholars could all translate the Old Testament in exactly the same manner into the Septuagint Greek? Why haven't they examined the translation of the Scriptures done a thousand years ago from Greek into Slavonic, which has preserved exactly, accurately, and precisely the meaning of the Greek original? And, more to the point, if errors have crept in and accumulated as texts were copied over the years, why aren't the existing copies of these Greek and Slavonic Scriptures divergent?
Non-Orthodox scholars cannot answer these questions because, to do so honestly and truthfully, they would have to admit that in fact the Orthodox Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has preserved intact and correctly the Holy Scriptures. And, moreover, this preservation is in part assured by the dogma and doctrine of the Church which both draw from the Scripture and provide evidence and support of its truth.
What Translation Should I Use? The answer is this: the King James Version (KJV) is the most reliable and faithful English translation. Unfortunately, it is written in an archaic, 500 year old style of English. Although not as incomprehensible as the 2000 year old Greek of the New Testament and Liturgy is to modern Greek speakers, it is still awkward and difficult for many to understand. The real question that begs — indeed pleads — for an answer, is this: ‘Why hasn't the Greek Orthodox Church sponsored an accurate translation into modern English from the Byzantine texts and extant fragments of Scripture found in the liturgy of the Church?’
Source: Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver Bulletin: March 1995, Volume 3, Number 3., pp. 14-17.
Several days before this event, a member of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, commented on what was about to happen. This commentary was published in ”Pechat” magazine.
Read the interview here.
- "To protect your soul from being disturbed, it is better to compromise on what does not contradict the commandments of God, and to be careful in watching yourself, lest you leave irritation, hatred, and offense in your soul."
- "Condemnation of one's neighbors is a spiritual weakness and not a paltry thing. The one who condemns shares responsibility with the sinner."
- The elder did not like to hear claims of someone's spiritual elevation, incidents of ”revelations,” or that someone ”had experiences.” He cautioned against too readily believing such people, lest this turn into the blind leading the blind.
- The elder persuaded people to hold to the golden mean, not falling into senseless joy or into excessive sorrow. Extremes have brought many to a bad end, even to suicide.
- "When it is painful to remember the past, it is better to simply repent of what had been bad, and think no more about it. In order not to despair or be enfeebled by it, remember the examples of God's great mercies to great sinners. The main thing: do not condemn, do not envy, know yourself and be with God.”
- "Do not pay particular heed to comforting dreams. It is better not to welcome an angel than to receive a demon in the form of an angel. We are proud, and can easily make a mistake in this regard."
On October 7th 2010, during the Solemn Vespers of the Feast of St. Symeon the God-Receiver, in the Sanctuary of St. Symeon in Zadar, Croatia, a particle of the relic of the Saint's preserved body was solemnly handed over to the representatives of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The mummified body of Symeon the God-Receiver or the Righteous, the temple priest who held the Lord Jesus in his hands at His presentation in the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 2, 25-35), has been kept and venerated in the city of Zadar for more than 800 years. It was first transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople and then in the year 1273 from there it was destined to be taken to Venice. Apparently a storm in the Adriatic sea, in the surroundings of Zadar, interrupted the transfer and the body remained in Zadar. It was first deposed in the church of St. Mary Major and later, in 1632, transferred to the Church of St. Stephen that until this day became the Sanctuary of St. Symeon the God-Receiver. In 1380 the Hungarian-Croatian Queen Elisabeth Kotromanić commissioned a silver and golden chest to be made for the Saint's body. It is a masterpiece of medieval art under protection of UNESCO, over 350 kilograms of weight, ornated with carvings commemorating historical and biblical events. St. Symeon is one of the patrons of Zadar, together with St. Anastasia and St. Chrysogon, and his feast is solemnly celebrated on October 8 every year.
The late Archbishop Ivan Prenđa of Zadar, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2007, met with His Beatitude Theophilus III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, who informed the Archbishop that there is a monastery of St. Symeon the God-Receiver in Jerusalem called "Katamon" where the empty tomb of the Saint is venerated. They agreed that the Archdiocese of Zadar would hand over a piece of the body of the Saint to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to be kept and venerated in the Church of the Katamon Monastery of St. Symeon. Arrangements were made with the Congregation of Divine Worship and Cult of Saints in Rome and a piece of the Saint's body was removed (5 x 2.50 cm) and put in a small silver reliquary to be handed over to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The reliquary contains the inscription: Ex corporis Sancti Simeoni Iusti Zadar 7. octobris 2010. The handing over was performed by Msgr. Prenđa's successor, the Archbishop of Zadar Msgr. Dr. Želimir Puljić, who handed over the relics to His Eminence Archbishop Theophylactos of Jordan and Archimandrite Macarios of Qatar, as representatives of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, during a solemn celebration of Vespers in the Saint's church in Zadar in the presence of the clergy and the faithful of Zadar. The document of authenticity was read in Latin and Croatian and presented to be seen by all those present. During Vespers, the short reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews was chanted in Greek by Archimandrite Macarios and also the Troparion and Kontakion to St. Symeon. At the beginning a sign of peace was exchanged by the Archbishops Puljić and Theophylactos.
Archbishop Želimir Puljić emphasized in his homily the great ecumenical importance of this occasion. "The Ecumenical Treaty signed in Strasbourg in 2001 states that Christians and Christian Churches should go towards each other, to act and pray together. Ecumenism lives by this mutual walk. Even so the painful fact that Christians still do not celebrate the Eucharist in communion remains, nevertheless different ecumenical services, praises and prayers, especially the 'Our Father', are a great sign of our mutual connection... Christians should never get tired of spreading love, tolerance and forgiveness. This is especially the call of Catholics and Orthodox because they are bound together by the same holy books and traditions, kerygma and liturgy, and the magisterium of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils."
Archbishop Theophylactos, at the end of Vespers, expressed the joy and gratitude of the church of Jerusalem on this historical occasion. He said: "This is a great and significant occasion that will be inscripted in the history of the Church of Jerusalem with golden letters. You can only imagine the joy of the Christians of the Holy Land and all the pilgrims that visit the holy places from all over the world." They exclaimed – "Eis polla eti despota!" (Many years, Master!) to Archbishop Želimir at the end of his speech and then carried the reliquary through the church. During his meeting with Archbishop Puljić, Archbishop Theophylactos announced that the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem invested the Archbishop of Zadar with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre as a sign of gratitude for the handing over of the relics to the Monastery Church of St. Symeon in Jerusalem.
Press Release of the Archdiocese of Zadar
Office of the Archbishop of Zadar
By Francis J. Beckwith
A few weeks ago, my wife and I were watching an episode of “The O’Reilly Factor” in which the host, Bill O’Reilly, was interviewing Bill Maher, a comedian and host of HBO’s “Real Time.” They were discussing religion, with the focus on Christianity. Neither one seemed to know much about the topic, though Mr. O’Reilly seemed slightly better informed. And this on the Fox News channel, which is supposed to be friendly to traditional religious faith.
Mr. Maher, if you did not know already, is particularly hostile to Christianity, saying things about Christians – their intellectual powers and the rationality of their beliefs – that would not be tolerated if it were one religious believer speaking about another. If Maher, for example, were a Fundamentalist Christian and said on national television that Islam is a false religion, he would be excoriated for being “Islamophobic.” But because Maher maintains that all religions are false, he is hailed as an edgy freethinker and a courageous comic willing to speak truth to power. You are a bigot, apparently, if you think one religion is true and all others false. But if you think no religion true and thus all of them false, you are a paragon of cultural sophistication.
To give you an idea of Mr. Maher’s intellectual acumen, consider this comment, from his 2008 documentary, “Religulous”: “The only attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt.” Yes, arrogance is bad, to be sure. It is a character flaw that each of us should avoid. But if “arrogant certitude” about the big questions is to be shunned, and the nature of man is a big question, then is it not arrogant certitude for Mr. Maher to claim that he offers to his audience the “only attitude for man to have about the big questions?”
Read the rest here.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Lucian was born of noble parents in the Syrian city of Samosata. In his youth, he acquired a very broad education, both secular and spiritual. He was a man distinguished in learning, as well as in the austerity of his ascetic life.
Having distributed his goods to the poor, Lucian supported himself by compiling instructive works, and thus fed himself by the work of his hands. He performed a great service to the Church in that he corrected many Hebrew texts of Holy Scripture (that heretics, in accordance with their own false teaching, had distorted). Because of his learning and spirituality, he was ordained a presbyter in Antioch.
During Maximian's persecution, when St. Anthimus of Nicomedia and St. Peter of Alexandria were tortured, St. Lucian was on the list of those the emperor wanted to kill. Lucian fled the city and hid, but an envious heretical priest, Pancratius, reported him.
The persecution was horrible and not even young children were spared. Two boys who did not want to eat food sacrificed to idols were thrown into a boiling bath, where in torments they gave up their holy souls to God. A disciple of Lucian named Pelagia (October 8) preserved her virginal purity from dissolute attackers by praying to God on her roof-top: she gave up her soul to Him, and her body fell from the roof.
Lucian was brought to Nicomedia before the emperor. Along the way, his counsels converted forty soldiers to the Christian Faith, and all died a martyr's death. Following interrogation and flogging, St. Lucian was cast into prison where he suffered starvation.
St. John Chrysostom writes of St. Lucian: "He scorned hunger: let us also scorn luxury and destroy the power of the stomach that we may, when the time that requires such courage comes for us, be prepared in advance by the help of a lesser ascesis, to show ourselves glorious at the time of battle."
He received Holy Communion in prison on the Feast of Theophany, and on the following day rendered his soul to God. St. Lucian suffered on January 7, 311.
The saints of God place great importance on receiving Holy Communion before their death. Even though they were sacrificing their lives for Christ the Lord and washing away all their sins by the blood of martyrdom, the martyrs longingly received the Holy Mysteries whenever it was possible.
St. Lucian was in prison with several of his disciples and other Christians. On the eve of Theophany, Lucian longed, on such a great Christian feast, to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, for he knew that his death was imminent. Seeing the sincere desire of His sufferer, God Almighty arranged that some Christians pass bread and wine into the prison.
When the Feast of Theophany dawned, Lucian called all the Christian prisoners to stand in a circle around him and said to them: "Surround me and be the Church." He had no table, chair, stone or wood in the prison upon which to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.
"Holy Father, where shall we place the bread and wine?" they asked Lucian.
He lay down in their midst and said: "Place them on my chest, let it be a living altar for the Living God!"
And thus the Liturgy was celebrated correctly and prayerfully on the chest of the martyr, and all received Holy Communion.
The next day, the emperor sent soldiers to bring Lucian out for torture. When the soldiers opened the door of the prison, St. Lucian cried out three times: "I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Christian!" and with that, he gave up his soul to his God.
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Martyr Lucian
Lucian the most wise ascetic and scribe
Boldly walked on the path of Christ.
Against heretics and idolatrous darkness
Lucian the victor waged a bitter struggle.
Planted firmly on the foundation of the Most-holy Trinity -
The Father without beginning, with the Spirit and the Son -
Lucian glorified God in word and deed,
And he confirmed this by his innocent blood.
Savage Rome collapsed, the heresies died;
Works immoral and shameful perished;
The Church raised martyrs up to heaven;
And the Church, great and glorious, outlived all.
This is the Kingdom of saints, the Kingdom without end
That Daniel foretold and Christ founded -
O desired Kingdom, of earthly origin,
With golden domes atop the heavenly roofs!
And holy Lucian, a builder of that Kingdom,
Labored much, and gave all for it.
He now gloriously reigns beside his Jesus,
Borne by God to the angelic flock.
Notes On the Feast and Iconography of St. Lucian
St Lucian was originally commemorated on January 7, the day of his death. Later, when the celebration of the Synaxis of St John the Baptist was appointed for this day, the feast of St Lucian was transferred to October 15. The October date may be associated with the dedication of a church which was built in Antioch by St Helen (May 21) over St Lucian's holy relics.
Although he was only a priest, sometimes St Lucian is depicted in the vestments of a bishop. The Stroganov Guide for Iconographers was published in Russia in 1869, based on a 1606 manuscript. There St Lucian is depicted wearing a phelonion and holding a Gospel. He does not wear the omophorion of a bishop, however. Another handbook, the Litsevoy Podlinnik, states that St Lucian is to be depicted with the omophorion.
It may be that the Russians thought of St Lucian as a bishop because of his importance to the Church, and so that is how they depicted him. Similarly, St Haralambos (February 10) is depicted as a priest in Greek icons, and as a bishop in Russian icons.
Read also: The Orthodoxy of Lucian of Antioch
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr Loukianos, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Radiant with the Spirit, You taught true knowledge of the true faith; A trainer of martyrs, O Loukianos, You were glorified in contest. Intercede with Christ our God that he may grant us great mercy!
Kontakion in the Second Tone
We all gloriously acclaim thee with hymns, O Loukianos, thou most brilliant luminary, who wast first illustrious in asceticism and then shonest forth in contest: Intercede unceasingly for us all.
October 15, 2010
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is in front of a big decision for indirect legal recognition of the Patriarchate from the Turkish state.
The General Assembly of the General Directorate of Vakoufia of our neighbour has decided to return to the Patriarchate the orphanage of the Prince's Islands.
Thus, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is expected to be recorded soon in the Turkish Land Registry as owner of the orphanage and Turkey will be forced to implicitly recognize its legal existence within the country, which was avoided for decades.
Bishops of the Phanar didn't hide yesterday their optimism and they pointed out that: "This decision allows the recognition of a legal status to the Patriarchate, which Turkey did not accept until today."
The Orphanage of the Prince's Islands has been given to the Patriarchate by the European Court of Human Rights and the Turkish government was then forced to implement this decision and, despite the thorny political issue, to comply to the European standards.
As reported in the newspaper Haber Turk, "Thus, because of the cases that have been won to the ECHR, for the first time a decision is made to transfer ownership to a religious community led by a religious official", namely the Patriarch.
The issue was examined by a Turkish court in front of which the General Directorate of Vakoufia abdicated from the claim. The court, as said, recognized the right of the Patriarchate and is expected soon to issue the decision and sent it to the Phanar.
The Ecumenical Patriarch expects, as reported by his colleagues, the court's decision to be issued and published in order to evaluate the newly created situation.
At the same time, the Turkish Ministry of Interior sent the documents giving Turkish citizenship to 14 Bishops who until now are Greek, American and other EU countries citizens.
This resolves the serious problem of the succession of the Ecumenical Patriarch, as the Turkish law requires that he must have Turkish nationality.
These are the bishops who were invited several months ago to submit applications. It must be noted that from the 15 bishops who had submitted their papers only one was excluded, Metropolitan Michael of Austria, for the exclusion of which the Turkish authorities invoke legal obstacles, probably because he has an Austrian diplomatic passport, although he is one of the most respected officials of the Orthodox Church.
Read also: European Court Gives Ownership Of Orphanage To Patriarchate
Thursday, October 14, 2010
St. Pachomios and the Monastery of the Holy Fathers on Chios served also as an inspiration to both St. Nektarios the Wonderworker (+1920) and St. Anthimos of Chios (+1960).
In 1866, at the age of 20, Anastasios (the future St. Nektarios) went to the island of Chios, where he was appointed a teacher. After 7 years, he entered into the Monastery of the Holy Fathers under the care of the venerable elder Pachomios. After 3 years as a novice Athanasios was tonsured a monk and given the name Lazarus. A year later he was ordained a Deacon and received the name Nektarios. Elder Pachomios and a wealthy local benefactor convinced the young monk to complete his high school studies in Athens.
In 1888, at the age of 19, Argyrios (the future St. Anthimos) visited the Monastery of the Holy Fathers. He received a blessing from Elder Pachomios to live a monastic life when he was to return home, since his poor parents and village required his aid. After a time he retired to the Monastery, and it was here that he became a monk and took the name Anthimos given by Elder Pachomios. He fell ill there and his abbot sent him home to his parents for the sake of his health. In 1909, at the age of forty, he received the Great Schema by the successor of Pachomios, Hieromonk Andronikos.
More on St. Pachomios can be read here.
Spiritual Counsels of St. Pachomios of Chios
- This alone, O Lord: Enlighten me to know Thy will, and grant me the strength to perform it. Woe is me, the foul and impure one.
- Christ accepts whatever good you do unto your brethren as if done on His behalf.
- Whoever hears someone speaking against a brother behind his back and then goes to make it known shall not be forgiven either in this life or the next.
- Always humble yourself and do not justify yourself; throw the blame upon yourself, and you will find peace.
- Do your prayer rule with great care.
- Live in simplicity: that is, if someone insults you, bear it; or if you are reviled
or humiliated, do not retaliate or bear malice.
- Be rounded [i.e. do not have rough edges to your character].
- Reveal your thoughts clearly. [This is for monastics who reveal their thoughts to their spiritual fathers.]
- I must beseech God with humility to protect me and I ought not believe my thoughts.
- Preserve the attention of your mind.
- Attention is called the keeping of the mind, guarding of the heart, vigilance, and noetic quietude.
- When you pray, comprehend what is being said.
- Exercise restraint, which is superior to silence. Restraint is not to laugh, and not to speak idly or ill of others.
- Nothing so helps one flee from sin as remembrance of death.
- Virtue without humility is not virtue.
- Whatever you do, if you do not have humility and, especially, love, it amounts to nothing.
- Humility is to have no rancor with anyone.
- We must always say the Jesus Prayer, wherever we may be.
- When you reproach yourself, have no fear of going astray.
- Not my own will, but that of my Lord.
- I must always be ready for death; I should live as if it were the last day of my life.
- I should say the Jesus Prayer humbly, as if into His ear.
- I must always give preference to my elders.
- I must cut off my will: when the thought occurs to me to look at something, I should not look, or when it tells me to say something, I should not say it.
- I should unceasingly reproach myself.
- When they praise you, do not believe them; for they are imprecating you.
- It is impossible for God not to show mercy on one who is genuinely striving to be saved.
Antonios N. Charokopos, Elder Pachomios: Founder of the Skete of the Holy
Fathers in Chios (Athens: 2003), pp. 189-194.
St. Athanasios of Paros records the following miracle of St. Paraskevi which took place in 1442 on the island of Chios which is annually commemorated on October 14th:
A hieromonk named Ambrose was celebrating Vespers in honor of Sts. Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsus in the Church of St Paraskevi on October 14th in Palaiokastro in the village of Halandra. No one else was in the church. At the end of the service, rain suddenly began to pour down in torrents with a great roar as if the sea was being emptied onto the island, and this continued all night. Ambrose was unable to leave the church and return to his cell. Thinking that the island would be completely flooded by the storm, he began to pray to God to save his homeland and soothe His righteous anger. [St. Athanasios interprets this storm as a consequence of the aftermath of what happened at the Council of Ferrara-Florence.]
The pious hieromonk Ambrose prayed for hours to the point where he grew tired and sat down at a stasidi. While sitting he fell asleep. He had a dream at dawn and saw the church roofless, and, in the heights, a cloud of light within which stood the form of a beautiful and modest woman in prayer to God with hands raised. After her prayer, she said to the Ambrose who was struck with fear: "Ambrose, don't be afraid; I am the Righteous Martyr Paraskevi; your homeland is saved." Ambrose immediately awoke and noticed the rain stopped at once. With joy he began to pray the Matins service.
People from the lower village came up and informed Fr. Ambrose that the waters from the sea rose up to their part of the village up to the Church of Panagia Eleimonitria. It was at that time that Fr. Ambrose revealed to them his vision of St. Paraskevi and her promise that the island was saved. Taking her icon he proceeded to the flooded area of the island and lead a litany. When this was done the waters receded back to the sea. For this the people glorified God for the miracle worked through the Virgin Martyr Paraskevi.
From that time, the island of Chios has celebrated St. Paraskevi's feast day with great solemnity, primarily on her feast day on July 26th, but also on October 14th to celebrate her great miracle. Till this day her holy icon works miracles for the people of Chios.
For the hymns on this feast, see here.
The text of St. Athanasios of Paros can be read below:
Saint Paraskeva the New was born into a pious family, living during the eleventh century in the village of Epivato, between Silistra and Constantinople. Her older brother Euthymius became a monk, and later he was consecrated as Bishop of Matidia. One day, while attending the divine services with her mother at the age of ten, the words of the Lord pierced her heart like an arrow, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself" (Mt. 16:24). From that time she began to distribute her clothing to the needy, for which reason she endured much grief from her family.
After the death of her parents Paraskeva went to Constantinople, a city full of churches with many relics and wonder-working icons. There she met some zealous ascetics who instructed her in the spiritual life. She settled at the church of the Most Holy Theotokos in Heraclea Pontica where she spent five years in concentrated prayer and fasting before making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she had long desired to venerate those places where our Saviour had lived and walked. She did not return to Constantinople but, yearning to withdraw still further from the world and its distractions, she crossed the River Jordan into the wilderness. There she lived the ascetic life until she reached the age of twenty-five. An angel of the Lord ordered her to return to her homeland, saying: "Leave the wilderness and return to your homeland; it is necessary that you render your body to the earth there, and your soul to the habitation of the Lord." St. Paraskeva obeyed, and returned to Epivato in the village of Katikratia where she lived for two years in ceaseless fasting and prayer.
St. Paraskeva departed to the Lord at the age of twenty-seven, and was buried near the sea. She was given a Christian burial, but as no one knew who she was or where she was from, she was buried in an unmarked grave. It pleased God, however, to reveal the glory of His saint. Years after her repose, the body of a dead sailor washed ashore. It had already begun to decay and give off a horrible stench before a stylite saint nearby detected it and asked the villagers to bury it. They unknowingly dug the grave right over the relics of St. Paraskeva. That night, one of the grave-diggers, a pious man by the name of George, had a dream. He saw a queen seated on a throne, surrounded by a glorious company of soldiers. One of them said to him, "George, why did you disdain the body of St. Paraskeva and bury a stinking corpse with it? Make haste and transfer the body of the Saint to a worthy place, for God desires to glorify His servant on earth." Then St. Paraskeva herself spoke: "George, dig up my relics at once. I can't bear the stench of that corpse." And she told him who she was and that she was originally from Epivato. That same night, a devout woman, Euphemia, had a similar dream.
On being told about these dreams the next morning, the villagers took lighted candles and went to the cemetery, where they dug down and discovered St. Paraskeva's relics, fragrant and incorrupt. The relics were taken to the church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, where, by the prayers of the holy ascetic, many people were healed of various diseases and the blind received their sight. She remained there for about 175 years.
St Paraskeva's relics were moved to Trnovo, Bulgaria in 1238 and placed in the cathedral. Patriarch Euthymius wrote her Life and established the day of her commemoration as October 14. The Turks occupied Bulgaria in 1391, and her relics were given to Mircea the Elder, Prince of the Romanian Land (one of the districts of Romania). In 1393 the relics were given to Princess Angelina of Serbia (July 30), who brought them to Belgrade in the Ružica Church. When Belgrade fell to Ottoman forces in 1521, the relics were translated to Constantinople and placed in the patriarchal cathedral.
In 1641, during the time of Patriarch Parthenius the Old of Constantinople (1639-1644) and of the Moldavian Prince Vasily Voevod, the Patriarchate of Constantinople found itself in great financial need. The Patriarch arranged with Prince Basil to give him the relics of St. Paraskeva in return for a sum of money. He lowered the holy relics over the fortified wall of Phanar and they were secretly transported to Jassy (Iasi).
On June 13, 1641, her incorrupt relics were transferred to the Monastery of the Three Hierarchs at Jassy in Romania, where many healings took place. On December 26, 1888, after being rescued from a fire, St. Paraskeva's relics were moved again. This time they were placed in the Metropolitan Cathedral at Jassy, where they remain until the present day.
Water from St. Paraskeva's spring in Belgrade has effected many cures for those who with faith call upon her intercession.
A severe drought in 1946-47 affected Moldavia, adding to the misery left by the war. Metropolitan Justinian Marina permitted the first procession featuring the coffin containing the relics of Saint Paraskeva, kept at Iaşi since then. The relics wended their way through the drought-deserted villages of Iaşi, Vaslui, Roman, Bacău, Putna, Neamţ, Baia and Botoşani Counties. The offerings collected on this occasion were distributed, based on Metropolitan Justinian's decisions, to orphans, widows, invalids, school cafeterias, churches under construction, and to monasteries in order to feed the sick, and old or feeble monks.
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Paraskeva-Petka
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
"The Lord desires a pure heart":
Thus says the Gospel.
A pure virgin you remained,
And you gave your pure heart to God-
O most wonderful saint,
Saint Paraskeva, our ideal!
The Lord seeks a most pure mind,
Without fancy and without falsehood;
And you presented Him your most pure mind,
Like that of an angel, of the same kind.
O most wonderful saint,
O Saint Paraskeva, hearken to our petitions!
The Lord seeks a pure soul,
As a heavenly shrine;
You perfected such a soul,
And now shine in heaven.
O most wonderful saint,
Paraskeva, help us!
By your prayers, help us
In the misfortunes of life.
Through the clouds of earthly sorrow
Bring us light, like a rainbow-
O chaste virgin, most wonderful,
Holy Mother Paraskeva!
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
You are worthy of praise, Paraskeva. You loved the ascetic and hesychast life. You ran with longing to your Bridegroom, Christ. You accepted His good yoke in your tender years, marking yourself with the sign of the Cross. You fought against impure thoughts; through fasting, prayer and the shedding of tears you quenched the burning coal of the passions. Now in the heavenly bridal chamber of Christ, as you stand together with the wise virgins intercede for us who honor your precious memory.
Kontakion in Plagal of the Second Tone
Let us all piously praise all-honorable Paraskeva, the intercessor for the afflicted. She gave up her earthly life, and received eternal incorruption. Therefore, she has been granted the grace to work wonders by the command of God.
Stephen Riehl is an independent filmmaker based in the Pacific Northwest who is currently working with Temo to develop a feature length documentary film based on his article. The working title is, The Stylite: A Matter Of Faith.
You can check out the official website at http://www.thestylite.com/.
Among the Lives of Saints which have come down to us from the dawn of Christianity, we are fortunate to have the story of the four martyrs: Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsus. Their holy memory is preserved not only by the Orthodox Church but also by pious Catholics in Milan where their relics are kept in the Basilica of St. Ambrose.
St. Nazarius was born in Rome. His father was a Jew and his mother, Perpetua, was a Christian who had been baptized by the Apostle Peter. No doubt it was thanks to her prayers that Nazarius, upon coming of age, chose to embrace the Christian faith, He was baptized by St. Linus who succeeded the Apostle as Bishop of Rome.
Nazarius showed himself to be desirous not only of his own salvation but also that of others. He was very generous in almsgiving and in leaving Rome for Milan he gave away his possessions to the poor and used his inheritance to ease the lot of those Christians suffering in prison as a result of Nero's persecutions.
Among those who benefited from Nazarius' devout conversations and material aid were the twin brothers Gervasius and Protasius who longed for a martyr's crown. Nazarius felt such love for these zealots that he regretted having to part from them and would have preferred to die in their place.
The regional governor, Anulinus, soon heard of Nazarius' activities among the prisoners and commanded that he be brought to trial. Learning that Nazarius was a Roman by birth, Anulinus tried to persuade him to respect his ancestors' idols which Romans from antiquity had honored with sacrifices and obeisances. Nazarius made bold to reproach the governor and ridicule the pagan religion, whereupon the governor ordered that he be beaten on the mouth. When Nazarius persisted in confessing the One True God, he was beaten still more and banished from the city in dishonor. St. Nazarius was grieved over his separation from his friends Gervasius and Protasius, but he rejoiced that he had been found worthy to suffer for Christ and found comfort in His words: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake" (Matt. 5:11).
The following night his mother appeared to him in a dream and told him to go to Gaul, and there to labor in spreading the Gospel. Nazarius willingly journeyed westward, preaching Christ and enlightening many with knowledge of the True God.
In the city of Melia he received from the hands of a certain noble and believing woman a three year-old boy by the name of Celsus. Nazarius had him baptized and educated him in piety. His efforts were crowned with success, for when the boy grew older he worked alongside his preceptor in preaching the Gospel. Their mutual zeal made them a vulnerable target. In Trier they were seized by idol-worshippers and taken to Nero himself who tried all manner of torture before finally having them thrown into the sea to drown. But the Almighty God was pleased to show favor towards His beloved confessors, and He caused them to walk upon the water as on a flat field. Seeing this miracle, the Emperor's servants believed Christ to be the true God and accepted baptism from St. Nazarius. They did not return to Nero's court but began to serve their new Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
St. Nazarius returned with his disciple to Milan where he resumed his preaching of the GospeI. On this account he was brought once again before the governor Anulinus who, on learning that Nazarius had been in the hands of Nero himself, marveled that he was still among the living, for he knew Nero's tyrannical cruelty. In vain did the governor try to force Nazarius and Celsus to worship the pagan gods. Thrown into prison, they were overjoyed to find themselves in the company of Gervasius and Protasius. In time, however, Nero learned of Nazarius' and Celsus' miraculous escape from the jaws of death; greatly angered, he sent a decree to Anulinus ordering their immediate execution, and the heads of these two martyrs were cut off with a sword.
A Christian living in the city environs secretly obtained their holy remains and brought them to his home. Upon his arrival, his ailing daughter rose up from her bed as though she had never been ill. The family rejoiced at this miracle and reverently buried the bodies of the martyrs in a fresh grave in their garden.
Shortly after the beheading of Nazarius and Celsus, there arrived in the city of Milan the military leader Astasius who was anxious for a victory in the war against Moravia to the north. The pagan priests suggested that to win the favor of the gods Astasius force Gervasius and Protasius to sacrifice to the idols. Gervasius died under the beatings, and Protasius was finally beheaded. And so they joined their beloved friends Nazarius and Celsus in the choir of martyrs. A Christian by the name of Philip took the martyrs' bodies and buried them at his home.
The relics of all four martyrs lay hidden in the earth until they were discovered late in the fourth century by St. Ambrose of Milan. The finding of the relics of St. Nazarius is described by the presbyter Paulinus in his Life of St. Ambrose:
"We saw in the grave...blood as though it had just flowed out of the body. The head with hair and beard was so preserved that it was as if it had just now been placed into the grave. The face was radiant..." The relics of the martyr Celsus were found nearby and the remains of both martyrs were solemnly transferred to the Cathedral of the Holy Apostles in Milan.
St. Ambrose himself describes the vision which led to the discovery of the relies of the holy martyrs Gervasius and Protasius.
One night, during a time of prayer and fasting, St. Ambrose fell into such a state that, he says, "although wanting to, I did not sleep, nor did I feel anything. I then saw two youths in white garments, raising their hands upwards and praying. Possessed with drowsiness, I was unable to speak with them, and when I came to myself they were no longer visible." Not knowing if this were a revelation from God or a delusion sent by the devil, St. Ambrose intensified his fast and begged God to make it clear to him. A second night the youths appeared to him as before. The third night they appeared again together with a man resembling the Apostle Paul as he is portrayed in his icons. Pointing to the youths, he said to St. Ambrose: "These are those who, hearing my words, despised the world and its riches, and followed our Lord Jesus Christ ... Their bodies you will discover lying in a tomb beneath the very place you are standing and praying. Remove them from the earth and build a church in their honor."
Summoning his brother bishops, St. Ambrose related to them his vision, and they began to dig. They found the bodies of the martyrs, which emitted a most wonderful fragrance. In the grave near their heads was a small book written by the slave of God Philip who had preserved for posterity the names of these martyrs and certain details from their life. Their parents, Vitaly and Valeria, both died as confessors of the Faith. The orphaned twins sold their belongings, freed their slaves, and for ten years gave themselves wholeheartedly to prayer, fasting and spiritual reading. In the eleventh year they were imprisoned by Anulinus and suffered the death of their bodies for the sake of eternal life with Jesus Christ.
When their holy relics were taken from the earth, the sick began to receive healing, demons were driven out of people, the blind received sight. Then the holy Ambrose remembered that in the city was a well-known blind man by the name of Severgnus; as soon as he touched the edge of the garments on the martyrs' relics, the darkness of the blind was scattered and he saw the light of day. [This particular miracle is mentioned also by St. Augustine in his book The City of God].
Through the prayers of Thy Saints, O Lord, enlighten our spiritual eyes that we may walk in the light of Thy Countenance and in Thy Name rejoice forever. Amen.
Read also: Ambrose of Milan's Letter 22: The Finding of SS. Gervasius and Protasius
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Let us praise the fourfold company of martyrs: Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsus. For they preached the Trinity to all and by their contest dispelled the worship of idols. Through their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us all.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
In shedding the light of miracles like shining lamps, O Martyrs of God, ye make the whole creation bright, at all times dispelling the deepest night of sickness and maladies and without cease pleading with Christ, the only God, that He grant His mercy to us.