Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis
Reading from the Synaxarion:
Saint Nectarius was born in Selyvria of Thrace on October 1, 1846. After putting himself through school in Constantinople with much hard labour, he became a monk on Chios in 1876, receiving the monastic name of Lazarus; because of his virtue, a year later he was ordained deacon, receiving the new name of Nectarius. Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, Nectarius went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronius ordained him priest on March 23, 1886 in the Cathedral of Saint Sabbas, and in August of the same year, in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, made him Archimandrite. Archimandrite Nectarius showed much zeal both for preaching the word of God, and for the beauty of God's house. He greatly beautified the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, and years later, when Nectarius was in Athens, Saint Nicholas appeared to him in a dream, embracing him and telling him he was going to exalt him very high.
On January 15, 1889, in the same Church of Saint Nicholas, Nectarius was consecrated Metropolitan of the Pentapolis in eastern Libya, which was under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Although Nectarius' swift ascent through the degrees of ecclesiastical office did not affect his modesty and childlike innocence, it aroused the envy of lesser men, who convinced the elderly Sophronius that Nectarius had it in his heart to become Patriarch. Since the people loved Nectarius, the Patriarch was troubled by the slanders. On May 3, 1890, Sophronius relieved Metropolitan Nectarius of his duties; in July of the same year, he commanded Nectarius to leave Egypt.
Without seeking to avenge or even to defend himself, the innocent Metropolitan left for Athens, where he found that accusations of immorality had arrived before him. Because his good name had been soiled, he was unable to find a position worthy of a bishop, and in February of 1891 accepted the position of provincial preacher in Euboia; then, in 1894, he was appointed dean of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens. Through his eloquent sermons his unwearying labours to educate fitting men for the priesthood, his generous alms deeds despite his own poverty, and the holiness, meekness, and fatherly love that were manifest in him, he became a shining light and a spiritual guide to many. At the request of certain pious women, in 1904 he began the building of his convent of the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina while yet dean of the Rizarios School; finding later that his presence there was needed, he took up his residence on Aegina in 1908, where he spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the direction of his convent and to very intense prayer; he was sometimes seen lifted above the ground while rapt in prayer. He became the protector of all Aegina, through his prayers delivering the island from drought, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Here also he endured wicked slanders with singular patience, forgiving his false accusers and not seeking to avenge himself. Although he had already worked wonders in life, an innumerable multitude of miracles have been wrought after his repose in 1920 through his holy relics, which for many years remained incorrupt. There is hardly a malady that has not been cured through his prayers; but Saint Nectarius is especially renowned for his healings of cancer for sufferers in all parts of the world.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
O faithful, let us honor Nectarios, divine servant of Christ, offspring of Silivria and guardian of Aegina, who in these latter years was manifested as the true friend of virtue. All manner of healing wells forth for those who in piety cry out, "Glory to Christ who glorified you; glory to Him who, through you, wrought wonders; glory to Him who, through you, works healing for all."
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
In joy, let our hearts praise the latest shining star of the Orthodox, the newly erected rampart of the Church. For, glorified by the work of the Spirit, he abundantly pours forth the grace of healing to those who cry out, "Hail, Father Nectarios".
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
On June 29, 1962, the Feast of the Chief Apostles Peter and Paul, I sent my family—my wife and two children: Nicholas, three years of age, and Olga, five—to Batolakkos, my wife’s native village, for the village’s celebration of the aforementioned Feast. After the celebration, according to my instructions, my family was to remain in the country for a certain number of days. On Monday, July 2, however, while everyone was resting at midday, my three-year-old son fell from the second-story window of my father-in-law’s house, from a height of six meters, and was left nearly dead.
Here is an account of the events in greater detail:
On the evening of Sunday, July 1, after work, I returned home alone to my house, ate something for supper, and lay down, while reading from the Gospel, as was my custom.
I fell asleep after midnight and had the following dream during this initial period of sleep. Holding my child in my arms, I was playing with him, just as I almost always did. He then momentarily fell from my arms and landed with a mortal blow on the cement ground. I hastened to pick him up (he was unconscious) and, greatly alarmed, put him into my bed. On account of my agitation, I woke up.
The dream had been so terrifying that I could not sleep the rest of the night and ultimately decided to go to Batolakkos the next morning to bring my family back home.
I got up very early the next morning and set off for the village by bicycle. I went as far as Kladiso—about two kilometers away—, but then, for some reason, changed my mind and thought it better to return to work, with the excuse that “it had only been a dream.”
All day long, I recounted my dream to my customers and received a variety of reassuring answers.
At one o’clock in the afternoon, I closed my café and went to eat and rest in my house. When I had begun eating, my wife’s brother, Constantine Spyrakes, arrived. He was taking my mortally wounded child to the clinic in the private car of Mr. Emmanuel Markoulakes. He told me: “Come with me, because the boy fell and was killed. We must take him to the clinic.” Frantic, I immediately directed him to the nearest clinic. I was not given immediate attention here, however, on account of the particular routine of the doctor: that he was not to be disturbed when resting. I was then obliged to rush my son to another clinic. Passing by the X-ray lab of Mr. N. Klonares, I had him admitted, and the doctor directly checked the results of the X-ray exam.
He at once confirmed the boy’s death; for, in my presence, aside from the X-ray results, as a doctor, he ascertained signs of death, such as an absence of heartbeat and pulse and the complete immobility of the boy’s open eyes, at the touch of which he could not detect the slightest motion. From there, I took him, in despair, to the clinic of Mr. John Alipherakes, who, upon receiving and examining him, ascertained the same thing: namely, the child’s death.
To my horror, I remembered that the child was un-Baptized! I immediately revealed this fact. After rebuking me, the doctor showed me the telephone, for me to do whatever “I knew best.” Having heard that Holy Baptism is effective even when death has already occurred a very short time before, I began, in a frenzy, to telephone those qualified to come and Baptize him.
I was ultimately referred to—and hastened to inconvenience—the very pious Priest attached to the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries, the Reverend Father Jason Bourliotes. He quickly arrived and Baptized the boy, prophetically telling me: “Do not be afraid, my child. Through Baptism, your boy will return to life for you in half an hour.”
We went, at his soothing exhortation, to the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries in order to take care of the details of the Baptism, but my mind remained riveted on my watch and the expectation of the revival of my child. I returned in ten minutes to the clinic, since Father Jason had repeated the same words to me while leaving the Church. There, in desperation, I kept looking at my child and my watch, ardently yearning and waiting to see the Priest’s words come true.
And O, the wonder! As he had told me, precisely half an hour after the Holy Baptism, I noticed the first, slightest movement of a toe on the right foot of my child, who was reckoned dead by all those present. “My child has come back to life!” I burst out in a shout. Out of pity for me, all of the others assured me that it had “appeared” so to me! But then, five minutes later, before everyone’s eyes, he lifted his whole leg from the bed and bent it. The resurrection from the dead had come about.
Dr. Alipherakes, who had been present the entire time, immediately ordered that ice be brought, which he placed on the child’s head. The news spread like lightning among the patients in the clinic, and even those who had undergone operations hastened to satisfy their justifiable curiosity. The doctor whom, at the Priest’s previous statement, I had distinctly heard murmuring that “the dead cannot be brought back to life,” now, believing more fully, said aloud to himself, “And to think that we do not believe,” while making the sign of the Cross!
Dr. Alipherakes then undertook to help the resurrected boy, ordering everything necessary for his recovery, which he had not done beforehand, believing the boy to be long dead! After these first hours had gone by, the boy came to, recognized me—his father—, and asked for his mother. In general, his condition seemed to have visibly improved.
Serving as Godfather at the saving Baptism of the child was our fellow villager, Emmanuel Markoulakes, who, having departed for Batolakkos, spread the happy news of the survival of the child following his Baptism. I did the same at seven o’clock in the evening, when I sent word to my despairing wife that the resurrected boy was already out of danger.
St. Nektarios, to whose miracle-working powers we had wholeheartedly entrusted the salvation of our son, did not disregard us. He is the closest Saint to our home, here, whose Church we always visit, and to whom, with religious awe, we send up prayers and doxologies, keeping abreast of, and reading about, the various miracles he has worked for our fellow men.
It was therefore wholly justifiable, in our unexpected misfortune, for my wife and I to reach out for help to him and repeatedly to call upon his name, as if having mutually agreed to do so.
Following this tragic accident, my wife remained lamenting in our village, entrusting our mortally wounded child—who had been rushed away—to St. Nektarios. Here are the words she uttered, when she had come to, in the hearing of all of her fellow villagers (many of whom, upon hearing the name of the new Saint, Nektarios, for the first time, asked and received information regarding this new wonderworking Saint).
With these words, then, did she continually call upon the aid of the wonder-working Saint:
“My dear Saint Nektarios, save me and heal my son.”
With her hands and eyes raised to Heaven, she repeated this invocation for over three hours, without neglecting also to seek the help of our Great Mother, who feels our pain, the Panagia, to whom she added: “My Panagia, be a mother to my son, as well.” May the All-Holy Name of our Savior and of the Triune God be thrice-blessed!
These constant, unceasing, persistent, and heartfelt invocations brought my inconsolable wife swift and auspicious results! After three or four hours, the mother, persistent in her prayers, perceived a shadow passing before her and a voice telling her:
“Do not cry, and your child will recover!”
After this reassurance, my wife felt such relief that she only then stopped weeping, turning her fervent prayer into one of thanksgiving, with the following words: “I thank you, Saint Nektarios, for healing my son. I thank you....” She continued to offer the same thanksgiving for hours, to the wonder of many around her. With the news that the boy was alive, everyone glorified with us the Almighty God and His Saint, Nektarios, who had answered our fervent prayers to him.
Our boy henceforth made steady recovery. On the third day, he was completely well. On account of the doctor’s apprehensions, however, he remained in the clinic for eight days, during which time X-rays showed that his hemorrhaging and the fractures to his skull had healed on their own! As we were leaving the clinic after the eighth day, my wife and I thanked Dr. Alipherakes, who unhesitatingly admitted to us:
“Mrs. Zourides, your son was clearly raised from the dead. You had a Saint helping you! Just be careful that you don’t let him fall again, because in the state he is in now, a new fall would be very dangerous!”
With great joy, day and night, we thank the Great Giver of Gifts, Who, through His Saint, Nektarios, brought about this healing, which was so unexpected, and miraculously drew our little angel from death unto life, granting him to us as an indisputable witness to the words of the Scriptures: “What God is great as our God? Thou art the God that alone doest wonders.”
May Thine All-Holy Name, O Lord, be thrice-blessed unto the ages. Amen.
“That is the Priest who came...”
The ever-beholden parents, Emmanuel and Maria Zourides, thenceforth showed their gratitude night and day to God and His Saint.
This year, in March of 1965, their Nikos (who had just turned six) caught a cold and, after feeling unwell for two days, fell into bed with a temperature of 42.2°C (108°F). Both his parents, as usual, turned to their regular, but fervent, prayer to their personal family physician. They then busied themselves with nursing their child with cupping glasses and liniments, and with getting him ready to go to sleep. When his mother had prepared him, she helped him to get up to say his prayers and to go to bed.
During this prayer, the boy’s attention was caught by an elderly Priest, who appeared and sprinkled the child with holy water, which the boy wiped off his forehead, saying: “Mama, an old Priest is sprinkling me (“me psekazei” — a word which the boy knew from the sprinkling of the vineyards in their village and their arbors in Chania). He is throwing water on me,” as he wiped his forehead and shielded his head with his hand. We both soothed the child, naturally attributing his vision to his fever, and my young daughter became frightened and also needed to be comforted.
But glory to God and St. Nektarios the Wonder-worker, who had truly appeared and healed the boy. The latter fell into a quiet sleep, looked much better, and allowed us to go to sleep also. In the morning, our son was completely well, ready to get up as usual. Only with difficulty could we keep him in his room with toys, so as to force him to remain housebound. After the meal, we gathered in his room to keep him there. Around one o’clock in the afternoon, our son, in full health, told us: “There he is again! The Priest is coming. He is smiling at me. Don’t you see him?” Indeed, he came to the door, approached the boy, and spoke to him. The boy answered him cheerfully and bashfully; and we, watching his expressions, laugh, motions, and, finally, hearing him say “yes,” came to the conclusion that he must have been asked how he was doing and if he was well.
Glory to his name! Putting his two visits together, we were firmly convinced both of his latest beneficence and of the disappearance of any trace of indisposition in our child, whom we then allowed to roam about freely inside and outside our house.
Ever since then, Nikos has shown us the photograph of the Saint, assuring us that “That is the Priest who came.”
We will be grateful to him as long as we live.
Source: Ἅγιος Kυπριανός, Nο. 237 (July-August 1990), pp. 206-207, and No. 238-239 (September-December 1990), pp. 247-248.
• This miracle by St. Nektarios is contained in the book The Life, Conduct, and Miracles of St. Nektarios of Aegina, 3rd ed., (Chania: 1965), beginning on p. 269. This book was kindly sent to us by Mr. Constantine A. Kostourakes, together with the photo we have printed of the resurrected boy (at the age of seven in 1966). In 1985, when these things were sent to us, the latter had already been released from military duty, and his father had reposed.
Holy Monastery of Longovarda, 27 March 1976
To my spiritual son in the Lord, Archimandrite Cyprian, joy and happiness.
Last November, on the Feast Day of St. Nektarios, I went to the Holy Monastery of the Panagia Myrtidiotissa, to the venerable Church of our Father among the Saints, Nektarios, spiritual Father to me in my youth, instructor in my spiritual life, and guide in my monastic life, and I celebrated his Feast Day, 9 November.
About forty days earlier, I had been given the blasphemous book by the proud, deranged, and demonized Abbess Magdalene. I was distressed and at a loss as to how a woman—and a nun, at that—could reach the point that she would crudely revile the most saintly of men, among the adulterous and perverse generation of our day, with invectives that even the worst and most malicious woman would spout only against the worst and vilest criminal.
I found the answer to my question when I remembered that our Lady and Theotokos Mary, on account of her utmost and immeasurable humility, became the dwelling-place of God. Abbess Magdalene, on account of her immeasurable pride, has become the dwelling-place of the prince of darkness, Beelzebub.
St. Nektarios, through his great humility, fervent faith, and wholehearted love, and through prayer, fasting, and vigils, was vouchsafed Heavenly gifts. Abbess Magdalene, through her great pride, received from the prince of darkness demonic gifts: envy, lies, slander, etc.
Seeing and hearing the miracles that St. Nektarios performed, and performs for all who call on him with faith and piety, even for the New Calendarists (though she is with the Old Calendar, which she has so struggled to honor, and this as if she were above all the Hierarchs and Patriarchs and Synods), she has professed that the Holy Spirit, Whom the New Calendarists call upon in all of their Mysteries, does not descend because of the absence of the Old Calendar, and, subsequently, their Mysteries are invalid; and the New Calendarists, when partaking of the Mystery of Holy Communion, do not eat the Body of Christ and do not drink the Blood of Christ, but common bread and wine. They eat straw-and grass.
Oh, what impiety and insanity! Alas, to what heights of impiety and insanity pride impels wretched man. It renders him like unto its father, the Devil. And it renders Magdalene higher than the Devil. For the Devil said, "I will be equal to the Most High." But Magdalene is higher than God.
And, as one mad, on the last page of her blasphemous and most impious book, the most audacious, most wretched, most irreverent, and most wicked one, as one enraged and demonized, having vomited forth abuse on St. Nektarios, also turns to Almighty God, the Creator and Maker of all things visible and invisible, and says to him: “Hearken, O Heaven, and give ear, O earth! May all who recognize Nektarios Kephalas as a Saint have the curse and anathema of the aforementioned Fathers and the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod. Amen!”
The First to recognize Nektarios as a Saint is God. God showed him to be a Saint. It is the will of God for all of us to become Saints: “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” And elsewhere He says: “I said ye are gods and all are sons of the Most High.” Elsewhere again, in the Gospel, He says: “Without me ye can do nothing.” He says these things so that we might always be humble and always have a humble attitude. For the Lord resists the proud, but to the humble He gives Grace.
God rendered St. Nektarios wondrous, as David chants: “In the Saints that are in His earth hath the Lord been wondrous.” Not so Magdalene, whom Satan corrupted! “Whosoever acknowledges St. Nektarios as a Saint, let him be accursed!” Truly, she knows not what she says. May God restore her to her right mind.
I was sick at heart in those days, fearing lest the fanatic Old Calendarists had deceived you into accepting their blasphemous and impious belief that the Mysteries of the New Calendarists are invalid because they do not follow the Old Calendar.
The Old Calendar is not God, nor the Holy Spirit. It is Tradition, which they ought not to have despised; they ought to have respected it. They did not entirely reject it, however, as the Iconoclasts rejected the Icons and burned them. They did not cast the Saints out of the Church, they did not burn the calendar, they did not deny God, the Mysteries, or the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Fathers, who prescribed that the Feast of Pascha be celebrated according to the Julian Calendar, did not tell us: “With that [the Julian Calendar] you will celebrate the Mysteries; with that you will be saved; if you have that you are able to commit all manner of sins, to cast aside love, to have enemies amongst yourselves, to insult one another, to accuse one another, to anathematize one another, to beat one another, even inside Churches—you are free. You can do all of this, just as long as you keep the Old Calendar.”
The Holy Fathers who prescribed the Old Calendar did not become Saints because they kept the Old Calendar. They became Saints because they kept the Orthodox Faith, love, humility, and the other virtues.
While I was in a sorrowful state and was considering writing to you to be careful to guard yourselves from the errors of various heretics, including the over-zealous and fanatic Old Calendarists, I was forestalled by the arrival of your religious periodical Agios Kyprianos, which you dedicated to proclaiming boldly the truth about St. Nektarios, severely criticized the blasphemous book of the most irreverent, demonized reviler of St. Nektarios, whom God glorified while he was alive and after death, on earth and in Heaven, to the disgrace of the visible and invisible enemies who hate him and to the rejoicing of the Faithful who honor, glorify, and celebrate him.
The joy, my spiritual child, which you gave me by your defense of the truth and of my holy spiritual Father, may the Lord also grant to you a thousandfold in the time of the just recompense, vouchsafing you and your little flock, through the intercessions of His All-Immaculate Mother, of Sts. Cyprian, Justina, Nectarios, and of all the Saints, the Heavenly Kingdom and the eternal good things, whereof may we all be counted worthy. Amen.
With paternal love and heartfelt wishes,
Archimandrite Philotheos Zervakos
Source: Agios Kyprianos, No. 323 (November-December 2004), pp. 114-116.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Symeon was a gifted Constantinopolitan. He had both a secular and spiritual education. He attained the rank of imperial logothete [chancellor] and was first among the nobles at the imperial court, yet he lived a pure and blameless life as a true ascetic. He distinguished himself by great military bravery and statesmanly wisdom. For these qualities, Emperor Leo the Wise greatly respected him and sent him to Crete to negotiate a peace with the Arabs who then occupied the island. Successfully completing his mission, he returned to Constantinople and soon thereafter withdrew from the world and worldly affairs. He wrote many lives of saints, compiling 122 new biographies and correcting 539 biographies. He entered into rest in about the year 960, and a fragrant and healing myrrh flowed from his relics.
HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Symeon Metaphrastes
St. Symeon was called Metaphrastes -
He dedicated his God-given talent to the Church.
He loved the saints, the friends of God,
And wondrously described their struggles:
Struggles in spirit, struggles in the flesh,
Struggles in thought, and struggles in deeds.
He was a true friend to the friends of God,
Who are dearest to God of all the men in the world.
He loved those whom God loves,
And through them he deepened his love for God.
Symeon shone with love for God,
And wrote his Lives like a brilliant tapestry,
For new generations in the four corners of the world,
To nourish their souls with true spiritual integrity,
By having vivid examples of saintly nobility,
By which to follow in the footsteps of patristic teachings.
Wondrous is our God in His saints;
Wondrous is the Lord, the Creator of angels.
Yesterday, Monday 8 November 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a bouquet of flowers to honor St. Nektarios on the Greek island of Aegina, reports Romfea.gr.
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Berea had met with Medvedev yesterday in Moscow, and since it was his name day according to the Old Calendar (St. Demetrios, October 26), the Russian President requested of the Metropolitan to bring the relics of St. Demetrios for veneration (they had been brought before to Russia in 2009). As the Metropolitan was leaving he had mentioned he was going to Aegina for the feast of St. Nektarios on November 9th. Since St. Nektarios is highly venerated in Russia, Preseident Medvedev gave orders to have a bouquet of flowers given to the Metropolitan to honor St. Nektarios.
Metropolitan Panteleimon arrived in Aegina yesterday evening for the Great Vespers service. He handed over the flowers to Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra with the greetings of President Medvedev, and he in turn placed the flowers before the icon of the Saint.
November 3, 2010
Omega TV (Rhodes, Greece)
- Your Eminence, I should first welcome you to Greece. It is very big honor for all of us that you are on Rhodes Island although it is not an official visit. What brings you here?
- Here, in Rhodes currently there is an Orthodox - Catholic Forum which brings together participants from all European Orthodox Churches as well as from various Churches and Organizations in Europe. The idea of the creation of this Forum initially belongs to Cardinal Erdo of Budapest and to me. The idea is that we should informally discuss various questions of common interest. The first Forum, which took place in Trento (Italy) two years ago, discussed family issues such as marriage, procreation, abortion, the value of human life and so on. This meeting is dedicated to the relations between the church and the state in various European countries.
- In Greece there are still problems in these relations. Certainly, things are different in your country. Do you think that a constructive relation is necessary for both sides to coexist?
- In Russia over the last 20 years we have developed very good and constructive relations between the church and the state. They are based on two principles. One is the mutual non-interference of either the church in state affairs or the state in internal church affairs. And another principle is collaboration in all fields in which such collaboration is necessary and welcome. And we believe that the harmonious application of these two principles will secure good relations between the church and the state and will help to solve many problems that exist currently.
- How do you think that this model of a good collaboration between the church and the state can work in European countries?
- I think collaboration between the church and the state is essential for the benefit of the people. But in every country there is a different situation -and also every country has a different history from the histories of other countries. And I think the legislation regarding the relationship between churches and states should be peculiar to every country. There can be no universal model because all models have to take into account history and also the percentage of the faithful of the particular church.
- Your Eminence, in Europe we are watching in recent years an 'attack' on the churches and the religious factor from the atheists. We saw that people wanted Christian symbols to be removed from public areas such as the courts or even schools. What is your opinion about it?
- I think it is a crime to remove Christian symbols from the public spheres in Europe. Europe has been and will remain a Christian continent. With all respect to all other faiths which exist and have existed for centuries in Europe, this continent is indeed a Christian continent where the majority of the population belong to various Christian churches. The removal of the Christian symbols from the public spheres is a great offence to Christianity and to each Christian in particular. We Christians do not mind when we come to a Muslim country where they have Muslim symbols exhibited in all public corners. And if we want to respect our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as representatives of other religions we have to do it on a mutual basis. When we speak about the building of the mosques in Europe for example, or minarets in Switzerland, we must also discuss such issues as the building of churches in Saudi Arabia or the situation of the Christian population in Iraq or in Afghanistan. We can not only go forward in further respecting Muslims in Europe without asking them to respect the rights of Christians in other parts of the world. Another thing is that when people say that because public spheres are open to anybody therefore there should be no symbols of any religion this should be regarded as a false argument because atheism is not a common eliminator of all religions. On the contrary, religions can coexist peacefully with one another as the experience of Russia shows for many centuries. We had a Muslim population for many centuries and we had no problems, no religious wars and Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists lived peacefully in one country. And nobody demanded from the others that they remove their religious symbols. For me a Muslim religious symbol present in social services is not an offence. And I believe that for Muslims or Jews or Buddhists, Christian symbols are not a matter of concern. They are only a matter of concern to atheists and agnostics. But they also have the wrong symbols and let them exhibit theses symbols if they wish in the public sphere. Christianity was not created only for private use. Christianity was created by Jesus Christ himself so that it can be felt in the public sphere. The Christian Church has a missionary imperative to go and teach the people and to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And for this mission it needs the public arena.
- But the atheists and the agnostics are still a minority in most of the European countries as well as countries like yours and mine where the official religion is the Orthodox Christianity. How will the churches and the faithful tolerate these 'minorities' who try to impose their will on the majority?
- We do not want to impose our religious world view on anybody. But we do not accept that atheism or the atheist approach should be imposed on religious people worldwide. We believe that the presence of religious symbols in the social services is an important feature of democracy and of the freedom of conscience. For example you are wearing a cross and you are free to do so in Greece. But if you come to Great Britain you might be asked to hide it. I remember the situation when in Soviet times school children were not allowed to wear crosses - even under a T-shirt. I don't think we should return to such situation in contemporary Europe. If we speak about the freedom of conscience, it also includes the freedom of publicly expressing faith. And the public expression of faith means that you may wear the cross if you wish and that you may put the cross in your school class if you are a school teacher and so on. And there should be no way to remove Christian symbols from the public schools or any other public spaces. This is part of the notion of tolerance.
- Let's talk about the relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate. We see that they have improved considerably in recent years. Do you find it essential not only for the relations between the Patriarchates but also for the Orthodox people - especially in Balkans?
- The relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate have improved quite considerably in recent years and even months. This was due to the efforts of both Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. They simply decided that we should move from a situation of competition and confrontation to a situation of trust and mutual collaboration. This does not mean that all the problems have been solved. We for example have not yet come to an agreement on the situation in Estonia which provoked a deep crisis between the two Patriarchates in 1996. But we are commonly working towards solving this problem. And I think in any event the collaboration between the first Orthodox Patriarchate and the largest Orthodox Patriarchate is essential for the benefit of the entire Orthodox Church. Therefore we are glad to note that there has been this considerable improvement in the situation and we are also glad to work together for the preparation of the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church which, following what Patriarch Bartholomew has said, will take place within two or three years.
- In Constantinople the Orthodox element is eliminated. What should the two Patriarchates do to protect the Orthodox flock? As we all know, Constantinople is not Christian anymore, it belongs to Turkey and the problems are still on for the minorities. What is your opinion?
- First of all I think we should express solidarity, and not only in words but also in deeds, with Christian minorities worldwide. And then particular with Orthodox minorities who live in the Middle East, who live in Turkey and who live in other places where historically they constitute the majority but for various reasons - including demographic reasons- they are becoming a minority. I was recently in Kosovo and I saw how difficult the situation is there for the remaining Christian population. Speaking about Turkey, we should be aware of the fact that apart from a rather tiny Greek minority there is also quite a large number of people from Russia and from other republics of the Soviet Union who belong to the Orthodox Church. All of them who are practicing believers are the new flock of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Therefore I think that measures should be taken to extend pastoral care to these people. And I know that they are already priests in the Ecumenical Patriarchate who speak Russian and who work pastorally with these people. So, I think the situation, though difficult, is not without hope. And the flock of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey is constantly growing. And this is a good sign and of course we are ready to assist the Ecumenical Patriarchate in every way in creating conditions for the pastoral care of all this Orthodox population regardless of their ethnic origin.
- Your Eminence, what do you think about the fact that there is still a problem to the succession of the Ecumenical Patriarch? What is the position of the Moscow Patriarchate about this? We still do not know what will be done 'the day after' for the succession of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
- I think that this is a problem which has to be discussed between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Turkish authorities. I understand that in recent years a sort of number of hierarchs living outside of Turkey have been given Turkish passports. And I think this will allow them to participate fully in the work of the Holy Synod. Of course with regards to the succession it is a very delicate issue and I don't think we can discuss it publicly but I can assure you that if the Russian Orthodox Church is asked to help in one way or another it will do so.
- We are watching you travelling a lot all around the world and we see that Russian Churches are being built in other continents too. Is it essential for your flock worldwide?
- There have been many waves of immigration from Russia and from other countries of the former Soviet Union and now millions of Russian-speaking people are living all over the world. We do not build churches on our own initiative. But usually groups of Russian Orthodox believers write to the Patriarch or they write to me asking that a parish should be established. And then we begin to work for the establishment of this parish. Usually it starts as a very modest group of people who rent a building from the Catholics or from the civil authorities. But then if the flock is growing and if the parish becomes larger they are able to build the church for themselves. And there have been many Russian Orthodox churches which have been built recently in Europe and in other parts of the world, including for example Rome where a Russian Orthodox Church is now standing on the hill opposite Saint Peter's Cathedral. We can also for example include Cuba where there is now a beautiful Russian Church in Havana and many other places.
- Your Eminence I would like to thank you for giving me this interview. What would you like to say to the Greek people who will watch your interview on TV and read it in internet?
- I would like to say that Greeks should keep, protect and cherish the Orthodox faith. If the Greeks go in the same direction like some other European countries by expelling Christianity from the public sphere and by being afraid to express their Orthodox faith because of so called tolerance or political correctness they will lose their country. Because it will no longer be Greece. Greece is unimaginable without Christianity. And I think every Greek person, whether is a strong believer or less strong believer, should do everything to protect Orthodox Christianity and to make sure that it is transmitted from the present generation to the future generation.
John is numbered among the greatest of the Egyptian ascetics. "Kolovos" means "dwarf", for he was of little stature. He came to Scetis with his brother Daniel and, with the greatest zeal, devoted himself to such asceticism that Daniel had to urge him to moderation.
John was a disciple of St. Pambo, and was later the teacher of St. Arsenius the Great. His fellow disciple under St. Pambo was St. Paisius the Great.
Once, when he and Paisius were discussing what kind of asceticism to undertake, an angel of God appeared to them and commanded John to stay where he was and instruct others, and Paisius to enter the wilderness and live as a hermit.
In order to test John's obedience, St. Pambo ordered him to water a dry stick planted in the ground until it turned green. Without hesitation or doubt, John watered this stick daily for three whole years until by the power of God, it grew green sprouts and brought forth fruit. Pambo then gathered the fruit from this tree, brought it to church and distributed it among the brethren saying: "Draw near and taste of the fruit of obedience!"
John the Dwarf had many disciples. Some of his wise sayings have been preserved. He entered into rest peacefully and took up his habitation in the joy of his Lord.
The Wisdom of St. John the Dwarf
- Once, St John told his elder brother that he did not want to be concerned about clothing and food, and that he wished to live like the angels in Paradise. Daniel allowed him to go to a deserted place, so that he would be afflicted. He removed his clothing, John went out from the cell. It was very cold at night, and after a week John became hungry.
One night John went back to the monastery and began to knock on the door of the cell. "Who is it?" Daniel asked.
"It is I, your brother John."
Daniel replied, "John has become an angel, and is no longer among men."
John continued to knock, but Daniel would not let him in until morning. Then he said, "You are a man and must work again if you want to eat." St John wept bitterly, asking for forgiveness.
- After a long separation from his companion Paisius, John the Dwarf visited him. Each asked the other what virtue he had attained in the time they were apart. Paisius said: "The sun has never seen me eat." John the Dwarf said: "And it has never seen me angry."
- Instructing the brethren in Scetis, John used this story of a repentant human soul: "In one town there lived a beautiful woman, a harlot who had many lovers. A certain prince told her that he would take her as his wife if she promised that she would live honorably and faithfully in marriage. She promised this and the prince took her to his court and married her. However, her former lovers decided to turn her back to her former ways, and reclaim her for themselves. They dared not face the prince, so they went around the back of the palace and began to whistle. The woman heard the whistling, recognized it, and quickly stopped her ears. She hid in an inner chamber of the palace and locked the door behind her. Thus, she was delivered from new temptations."
St. John explained this story in the following manner: "The harlot is the soul; her lovers are the passions; the prince is Christ; the inner chamber is the heavenly habitation; and the lovers who whistle and entice are the demons. If the soul would constantly turn from its passions and flee to God, then the passions and the demons would be frightened and flee from it."
- Abba John said: "I think it is best that a man should have a little bit of all the virtues. Therefore, get up early every day and acquire the beginning of every virtue and every commandment of God. Use great patience, with fear and long-suffering, in the love of God, with all the fervor of your soul and body. Exercise great humility, bear with interior distress; be vigilant and pray often with reverence, with purity of speech and control of your eyes. When you are despised do not get angry; be at peace, and do not render evil for evil. Do not pray attention to the faults of others, and do not try to compare yourself with others, knowing you are less than every created thing. Renounce everything material and that which is of the flesh. Live by the cross, in warfare, in poverty of spirit, in voluntary spiritual asceticism, in fasting, penitence and tears, in discernment, in purity of soul, taking hold of that which is good. Do your work in peace. Persevere in keeping vigil, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, and in sufferings. Shut yourself in a tomb as though you were already dead, so that at all times you will think death is near."
Read more here.
Monday, November 8, 2010
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
"By grace ye are saved" (Ephesians 2:5, 8).
Who can comprehend and acknowledge that we are saved by grace - that we are saved by God's grace, and not by our merits and works? Who can comprehend and acknowledge that? Only he who has comprehended and seen the bottomless pit of death and corruption in which man is engulfed by sin, and has also comprehended and seen the height of honor and glory to which man is raised in the Heavenly Kingdom, in the realm of immortality, in the house of the Living God - only such a one can comprehend and acknowledge that we are saved by grace.
A child was traveling by night. He stumbled and fell into hole after hole and pit after pit, until he finally fell into a very deep pit from which he could in no way escape by his own power. When the child gave himself over to the hands of fate and thought his end was near, there was suddenly someone standing over the pit, lowering a rope to him and telling him to grab the rope and hold firmly to it. This was the king's son, who then took the child home, bathed him, clothed him and brought him to his court and set him beside himself.
Was this child saved by his own deed? By no means. All he did was to grab the end of the rope, and hold on. By what, then, was the child saved? By the mercy of the king's son. In God's relationship with men, this mercy is called grace. By grace ye are saved. The Apostle Paul repeats these words twice in a short span, that the faithful might recognize and remember them.
Brethren, let us comprehend and remember that we are saved through grace by the Lord Jesus Christ. We were in the jaws of death, but have been given life in the courts of our God.
O Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, by Thee are we saved. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
Holy Panormitis Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Symi
The 2008 Panormiti Miracle of the Archangel Michael
When I was 11 years old I started a journal for some odd reason. My first entry was January 1, 1988. Not too many months later, after I had turned 12, I wrote a peculiar entry that records a dream I still remember quite vividly. With today being the Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Angelic Hosts, I thought it would be timely (or at least entertaining) to post it. Keep in mind two things when reading: first, I was just a 12-year-old punk kid when I wrote this, so it is not very eloquent; second, I never really payed attention to my dreams so this is not common of me.
October 27, 1988 Thursday (11:31 AM)
I woke up at 5:00 AM this morning because I had a suspicious dream. The dream was about an angel and I was a bad guy. The angel was outside my bedroom window and I was looking at him from behind with my sharp teeth. In the background was this music that went "hoooo"! It was scary. The angel's arm was half way up with his palm up looking in the sky and then the angel turned around. The angel had blonde hair and a white robe. It looked at me for a second and I woke up. I read my book report at 5:00 AM. Could it have been a sign from God? Don't know.
This was one of my first "spiritual" experiences that I'm grateful to have recorded, though in some parts I have no idea what I'm talking about. Basically, from what I remember, in the dream I was in my bed and saw a bright angel at my second-floor bedroom window almost as tall as my house looking at me, though I felt like a bad guy and had sharp teeth to show it. In the background was the most beautiful music I had ever heard and have still yet to hear, that sounded like an angelic choir. When the angel and I locked eyes, he swiftly backed away from the house, swiftly turned around, looked up into heaven, and ascended.
I hesitate to call this "spiritual", since it was just a dream to me and I tend to be very skeptical of my own experiences. It made a minor impression on me though at the time, and if I were ever to believe something divine about it, it would be that beautiful music which I have a hard time believing was created in my imagination. I didn't give it much thought until a few years later when I was speaking with my late pious grandmother in Greece, and she was lamenting the fact that she had have never been granted by God to hear in her lifetime the beautiful singing voices of angelic choirs. I don't think I ever told her about my experience due to my skepticism, but after she said that I began to wonder once again: "Could it have been a sign from God? Don't know."
It was 7 November 2008, the day before the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and all the Angelic Powers, on the island of Symi (Simi) at Panormitis Monastery, home of the miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael and one of his most popular shrines in the Orthodox world (read more here). During the Great Vespers service, as the crowd was celebrating the feast, it was noticed by all who venerated the holy image of the Archangel, that his face completely disappeared! This both amazed everyone and moved them to tears. As the Great Vespers service was near completion however, the face of the Archangel reappeared to the joy of all. According to the Metropolitan of Symi, who interrupted the service after the hymn "O Gladsome Light" to bring this to everyone's attention, the Archangel Michael was answering the prayers of the faithful.
Konstantinos Kappas captured this miracle on video, which was presented on the Greek television station "Tharri". Below that is the news report of the miracle.
By St. Dimitri Rostov
Tthe Holy Church, which rejects the impious worship of angels devised by idolaters and heretics of old, has received from the divinely inspired Fathers the tradition of celebrating with reverence the Synaxis of the Holy Angels. In the days of the Old Testament, the people of God, having fallen away from their Creator, began to worship that which the Lord created. They made idols after the likeness of things visible, of that which is in heaven above and earth beneath, the work of their own hands. At that time, when the people offered oblations unto the sun, the moon, and the stars as gods, imagining that these possessed living souls, they also began to worship angels. The Book of Kings makes mention of this, saying that they "burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and to all the host of heaven," that is, to the angels; for the host of heaven is comprised of the angels, as is said in the Gospel: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host."
This impious worship of the angels spread through many lands in the days of the holy apostles. The holy Apostle Paul sought to root it out when he wrote to the Colossians, saying, "Let no man beguile you in voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head," which is Christ; for there were at that time certain heretics who made a show of humility but proudly imagined that they were like the angels because of their abstinence and the purity of their lives. These men taught that angels were to be worshipped in the same manner as God. After this, there arose other heretics who taught that the angels were the makers of the visible creation and that they are more honorable and exalted than Christ, the Son of God, since they are bodiless.These heretics called the Archangel Michael the God of the Hebrews. Finally, still others appeared, who devoted themselves to sorcery and deceived the people, calling upon the demons whom they served under the name of angels. This heresy grew especially strong in Colossae, a city under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan see of Laodicea, where many secretly worshipped the angels in an impious manner akin to idolatry. The local council of the holy fathers that met at Laodicea denounced this heresy, but while it anathematized and rejected the heretical worship of angels, it decreed lawful the pious and proper veneration of the holy angels as God’s servants and the guardians of the race of man, establishing the celebration of the festival held in their honor on this day. Thus it was in Colossae, where the evil and heretical worship of the angels had once appeared in secret, that the Orthodox first began to celebrate the feast of the Synaxis of the Angels. Many splendid temples dedicated to the holy Archangel Michael were built there, such as the most glorious and wondrous church erected in Chonae over the wonder-working spring where the holy Chief Commander Michael appeared to Saint Archippus. The council decreed that the feast of the angels be celebrated in November, the ninth month counting from March, when the world was created, since there are nine orders of angels, according to Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, the disciple of the holy Apostle Paul. Saint Paul was taken up to the third heaven, where he saw how the holy angels are divided into ranks, and he told his disciple of this. These nine ranks are grouped in three hierarchies of three orders: the highest, the middle, and the lowest.
The highest hierarchy of angels, which is the nearest to the Most Holy Trinity, consists of the seraphim, the cherubim, and the thrones. Closest of all to the Creator and Fashioner stand the seraphim, beloved of God, of whom Isaiah said, "Seraphs stood round about Him: each one had six wings." They are like fire, because they stand nearest to Him of Whom it is written: "Our God is a consuming fire, and His throne is like a fiery flame, and The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire." Since they stand before such fiery glory, the seraphim are themselves fiery, as it is written: "He maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire." They burn with love for God and kindle the love of God in others, as their name itself reveals, for in the Hebrew tongue "seraphim" means "burning" or "consuming."
The divinely wise cherubim stand next after the seraphim in the presence of God the All-knowing, Who dwells in transcendent light. These angels, who abide in God’s ineffable light, themselves ever shine more brilliantly than the orders below them with the light of righteousness and the knowledge of God and His wisdom. They are themselves radiant and illumine others; therefore, they are called cherubim, which in Hebrew means "much wisdom," or "an effusion of wisdom." Through the cherubim wisdom is poured out, and through them the noetic eyes of others are illumined, enabling them to see the glory of God and to know Him.
The thrones stand after the cherubim before the exalted throne on high. They are called God-bearing by Saint Dionysius, since, according to the explanation offered by Saint Maximus the Confessor, God noetically rests upon them as upon noetic thrones. Saint Basil writes that they are called God-bearing not according to their essence but because of the grace vouchsafed them and the service entrusted to them. The flesh of Christ the Lord, however, is God-bearing by essence, hypostatically joined with God the Word Himself. Christ’s flesh bears God the Word in an undivided union and is called, and ever remains, His true and living flesh, but the thrones are called God-bearing because they bear God within themselves in an ineffable and inexpressible manner, not by nature but because of the grace and service entrusted to them. Seated upon them in a way that cannot be described, God ordains His judgments, as David said: "Thou hast sat upon a throne, 0 Thou that judgest righteousness." Therefore, it is through the thrones that God brings to pass His righteous judgments, for they are the ministers of His justice, imparting to the tribunals of magistrates here below, and to kings and lords, the ability to pass righteous judgment.
There are three ranks in the middle hierarchy of the holy angels as well: dominions, powers, and virtues. The dominions are so called because they rule over the angels subject to them, while they are themselves free, since, as Saint Dionysius says, they have set aside servile fear and ever serve the Lord willingly and gladly. They pour down upon the authorities ordained by God here below power to rule wisely and to exercise dominion judiciously, governing well the lands entrusted to them. They also teach us to rule over our senses, to subdue our disorderly lusts and passions, to subject the flesh to the spirit, to exercise authority over our will, and to prevail over every temptation.
The powers, full of divine might, serve the mighty and powerful will of the all-powerful and omnipotent Lord without hesitation or delay. They work exceedingly great marvels and impart the grace to perform similar miracles upon those of God’s favorites who have been deemed worthy to work wonders, to heal every illness, and to foretell the future. Likewise, the holy powers strengthen men as they labor and are heavy laden in bearing the yoke of their various burdens, strengthening them to fulfill the obligations of their station in life and helping the feeble in their weakness. They assist every man to be patient and not to weaken in trials, but to endure everything that comes to pass with nobility of soul and resolute courage, humbly giving thanks to God, Who orders all things for our benefit.
The virtues bear their name because they have authority over the devil. They subdue the power of the demons and ward off the temptations which the spirits of evil bring upon men, and they forbid the demons to harm men as they desire. The virtues confirm those who labor for virtue’s sake in their spiritual undertakings and struggles, protecting them, lest they be deprived of the spiritual kingdom. Those who war with their passions and desires the virtues’ help in the day of battle, assisting them in dispelling every wicked thought and the enemy’s calumny and in overcoming the devil.
The three orders in the lowest hierarchy are the principalities, archangels, and angels. The principalities are so called because they rule over the angels below them and direct them to fulfill God’s commands. It is they who watch over the world, protecting and guarding every kingdom and principality, every province and people, tribe and nation, for each of these has its own angel of this rank as guardian and governor. According to Saint Gregory, it is the duty of this order to teach men to render to all in authority the honor due their station. These angels usher worthy men into such positions as they merit and instruct them not to use their offices for their own gain or profit, nor to become vainglorious or full of conceit, but to honor God, to increase His glory and to spread word of it, for the benefit of all those under their authority.
The archangels are the great messengers of good, eminent, and wondrous tidings. According to the renowned Dionysius, it is they who deliver prophecies to men, enlightening them so that they may know and understand the will of God. They learn of God’s will from the higher ranks and entrust the secrets thereof to the angels below them, who in turn declare them to men. Saint Gregory the Dialogist says that they spread abroad the faith among men, illuminating their minds with the light of the knowledge of the Holy Gospel and revealing to them the mysteries of the Orthodox faith.
The angels occupy the lowest position in the hierarchy of heaven and are the closest of its ranks to men. They reveal the lesser mysteries of God and His intentions to men, whom they guide to live virtuously and righteously. Each of the faithful is entrusted to one of them. They support those of us who stand firm, and they raise up the fallen. Even if we sin, they do not forsake us but are always ready to help us, if only we desire it.
Nevertheless, the name angel is proper to the higher ranks of heaven, for even if each has its own place and position and its own name which accords with the manner of grace bestowed upon it, that is to say, seraphim, cherubim, throne, and so forth, they are still all called angels; for in this sense the name refers not to what they are in essence but to the manner of service they perform. All of them alike are angels, since they fulfill God’s commands, as it is written: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister?" Each order has its own ministry, and their ministrations differ, because the wise Creator does not reveal the mysteries of His divine will to each rank equally. He manifests His sacred will to the lower orders through the higher and through the latter commands the former to fulfill the dictates of His will, as may plainly be seen in the book of the Prophet Zechariah. This book tells how, after a certain angel had spoken with the prophet, that angel met another angel, who commanded him to return to the prophet and to reveal to him the future of Jerusalem. Thus it is written, "Behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man," (that is, to the prophet Zechariah) "saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as a town withoutwalls for the multitude of men and cattle therein, for I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about." Saint Gregory expounds, "When one angel says to the other, Run, speak to this young man, there can be no doubt that certain angels dispatch others here and there and that the lower ranks are sent while it is the higher orders that send them." Similarly, we find in the prophecy of Daniel that one angel tells another to explain to the prophet the vision which he saw. Therefore, it is clear that the lower ranks of angels learn of the will and intentions of the divine Creator from the higher orders and are sent by the latter to do His desire.
It is fitting that the Orthodox Church here below should celebrate the synaxis and seek the aid of all nine orders of the holy angels on the eighth day of this month of November, sending up fervent entreaty unto them; for on the fearful day of judgment, which the divine teachers of the Church call the eighth day, when He Who is the Son of Man and God, the righteous Judge, "shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him," as the Lord Himself prophesied in the Holy Gospel, all the ranks of angels shall be gathered together. "He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds" that is, from the east, the west, the north, and the south. May the Lord then summon us, who reverently celebrate the Synaxis of the Angels, into the choir of the chosen!
The holy Chief Commander Michael, the faithful servant of the Lord, was appointed by God as general and commander over the entire assembly of the nine angelic orders. When Satan exalted himself in pride, fell away from God into perdition, and was cast into the abyss, Michael called together all the ranks and hosts of angels and cried out with a mighty voice, "Let us attend! Stand aright before Him Who created us, and do not consider doing what is not pleasing to God. Behold what has befallen those created with us, who until now were communicants of the divine light! Behold how they were straightway exiled from light into darkness because of pride, cast from the heights into the abyss! Behold how the morning star, which lit up the dawn, has fallen to earth and been crushed!"
When Michael, who stood foremost among the seraphim, the cherubim, and all the ranks of heaven, said this to the entire assembly of the angels, they glorified the most holy and undivided Trinity, one in essence, the one God; and together they chanted the triumphal hymn: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory!"
It is this assembly of the holy angels that we venerate on the present feast of the Synaxis of the Angels; for they ever glorify the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit attentively and harmoniously, with one mind, heart, and voice. May we mortals also glorify Him unto the ages. Amen.
The local Council of Laodicea, which rejected the impious worship of angels in its thirty-fifth canon but decreed lawful the pious veneration of angels and established the feast of their synaxis, was held shortly before the first great ecumenical council which met in the city of Nicea. The Council of Laodicea was convened in the year 319 after the Nativity of Christ, or according to certain authorities, in the year 320 or 321, while Saint Silvester was Pope of Rome. Thirty-two bishops attended this council, over which the Metropolitan of Laodicea Nunechius presided. Some say that Theodotus was Metropolitan at that time, but it is more likely that it was Nunechius who presided at the council.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you, that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow before you crying: "Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the Powers on high! "
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Chief Commanders of God; ministers of divine glory; guides for men and leadership of the Incorporeal; as Chief Commanders of the Incorporeal, plead for our welfare and for great mercy.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
In 1961, Abbot Nikodemos and Hieromonk Iakovos decided to build a chapel in honor of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The abbot chose the spot, marked it off with pegs, and departed for Limni.
The same night, a tall, blonde, handsome officer with a golden sword appeared to Fr. Iakovos and told him: "Father, I am Archangel Michael. I don't want my temple to be built in the place where the pegs have been placed, but rather where I'll show you." He stooped down and carried the pegs farther. In the morning, Fr. Iakovos found the pegs moved over.
They planned to build the chapel with mud and straw, as there were no other means available. The next night, two officers with golden swords appeared to Fr. Iakovos and told him: "We are Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Tell your elder that we don't want our house to be built with mud and straw, but rather, with sand, lime, and wood. And on the roof we want tiles."
Such materials, though, did not exist up there in the mountain. There was much poverty and, in addition, there was no good road to transport them. When Fr. Iakovos asked the Archangels about this, they answered him: "Don't worry, Father, we'll take care of these things. It will rain at night and the stream will bring down a lot of sand. The rest of the materials will be provided by pious Christians." Everything turned out as it was foretold, in a wondrous manner.
Source: The Garden of the Holy Spirit (Elder Iakovos of Evia), By S.G. Papadopoulos, p. 86.