Saint Constantine of Hydra lived in the years of Ottoman rule. He was born and raised on the heroic island of Hydra. His parents were most pious Orthodox Christians and they nurtured him with the laws of faith and love towards Christ and his country.
The poverty and lack of work on the island forced him, despite the objections of his mother, to travel to Rhodes, to work towards securing the future and to help his home.
He was honest and hardworking, and because of this everyone loved him. Some friends introduced him to the Turkish governor of Rhodes, Hassan Kapitan, who gave him a job in his seraglio. He groomed Hasan Bey’s horse and did various other jobs always willingly.
At a great gathering Constantine got drunk and Hassan Kapitan asked the Hodjas to have a sounneti, in other words to circumcise him, and put on him the white turban, giving him the name of the governor, Hassan. When he woke up the next morning he realized what had happened, but it was difficult to react immediately. His concern grew when, having sent his mother money with someone, she heard that he had changed his faith, and in utter bitterness she threw away the money, locked her house and cried day and night, inconsolable for what happened to her child.
In Rhodes again all his friends distanced themselves from him and were sorry, because they saw him as a Janissary.
He went to Hydra to see his mother and as he approached his family home he asked for a drink of water from a woman of the neighborhood which she gave him, but as soon as she stepped away from him she broke the container that touched his lips. Arriving at the house he knocked on the door and to his mother’s question as to who it was he replied, “I am your son Hasan who has arrived from Rhodes." With a voice twisted in pain she replied: “I’m not opening to you. I don’t have any son Hassan. I only have a son Constantine.”
Only God knows the sorrow and pain of the young man from Hydra. Without losing time he returned to Rhodes and directly went to Rodini where in a cave an Elder lived in asceticism. Kneeling in front of his feet he confessed his sin and the Spiritual Father gave him forgiveness and the appropriate advice on what he should do thereafter.
He threw away the turban and Turkish clothes and taking a boat he first went to Crimea and then to Constantinople, where the Holy Ethnomartyr Patriarch Gregory V advised him to go to Mount Athos and stay there forever.
Having remained in the Monastery of the Iveron living with much repentance, prayer and ascesis, and having taken the monastic schema, with the permission of the abbot he returned to Rhodes with the firm decision to go to Hassan Capitan and tell him that he was a Christian and as a Christian he would die.
The blessed hour arrived. He went in front of his former boss, the terrible governor of Rhodes, Hassan. With faith and indescribable courage he said: "Hassan Bey I am your servant Constantine from Hydra who you fraudulently made a Muslim. I return you your false religion and tell you that I am a Christian and a Christian I will die.” Hassan was in a daze. Seeing Constantine throwing the Muslim turban to the flies he was incredibly angry and rushed at Constantine hitting him with fists and kicks. In the palace of the Knights was a dark basement which was called the prison of Zyntantou. Zintani in Turkish means darkness. There they began to terribly torture him day and night. In the end they tied him to a tree trunk putting his feet in two holes. He endured all with unceasing prayer. One night the jail shined with a heavenly light and his feet were freed from the locks. Turkish and Christian prisoners admired him.
After five months they brought him again before the Turkish commander and having the same faith and courage he again confessed the Christian faith and was returned to prison. On 14 November 1800, by order of the Sultan, Constantine suffered a martyr's death by hanging, which according to some took place at Kolona, and according to others at Mandraki. He kissed his small Cross and prayed, and when the executioner went to get Constantine he threw him on a plane tree, that he not fall into profane hands. Constantine was 30 years old when he was hung on the plane tree. Turks and Christians relate that on that night when Constantine was martyred a great bright Cross shone with its light on the plane tree. The next year a strong tornado tore down the plane tree and after a short time the commander Hassan Bey died from a bad illness.
The then Bishop of Rhodes Agapios and the clergy of Rhodes sought the holy relics of Constantine and buried it with great honors behind the Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos in Niochori. Later the marble plaque that was placed above the Saint’s grave by his fellow countryman Constantine Kafas was uncovered and today is in the wall of the same church:
"This is the tomb of the Holy Neomartyr Constantine Nydriotis, placed by Constantine Kafa of Hydra.”
This was written by the Saint’s fellow countryman on his grave. After three years the Saint’s mother came to Rhodes and took the relics of her son with her with a permission letter of the Metropolitan of Rhodes Agapios and transferred it to Hydra, placing it in the Monastery of Panagia where it remains to this day in a golden reliquary. The then Priest of Niochoriou Papagiannis kept the ulna of the arm of the Martyr which is preserved in a silver reliquary to this day in the altar of the Church. After a century the Ecumenical Patriarch officially ranked Constantine among the choirs of the Holy Neomartyrs, and ordered that his memory be celebrated on the 14th of November, the day he was hanged.
St. Constantine is celebrated both on the island of Rhodes (see here and here) and on the island Hydra (see here) with much joy and pride.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Constantine of Hydra, the most-precious shield, the boast of Neomartyrs, who contested on Rhodes, in hymns and spiritual odes, let us providently honor him O bretheren who suffered for Christ, and received death by hanging. Therefore he rules together with Christ, and he grants abundant healings greater in number than the sand to all who flee to him.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saint Constantine of Hydra lived in the years of Ottoman rule. He was born and raised on the heroic island of Hydra. His parents were most pious Orthodox Christians and they nurtured him with the laws of faith and love towards Christ and his country.
- Lars Brownworth, Lost to the West
November 08, 2010
Although he's known for his soft-spoken ways, Steelers' five-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu last week spoke out against National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell's crackdown on violent tackling and questioned whether the official had too much power. His comments came after Steelers linebacker James Harrison was fined $75,000 for what the league called illegal hits.
Mr. Polamalu is also known for his big hair and big plays and has attracted legions of fans who love to watch him fly around the field and see his hair balloon in those Head & Shoulders commercials. In fact, Lloyd's of London has insured his lush locks for $1 million.
Born in California of Samoan decent, he lived with his single mother until he was 9. After that he was raised by his aunt and uncle in Oregon. Now at 29, No. 43 is the father of two young sons and a devout convert to Eastern (Greek) Orthodox Christianity. He and his wife, Theodora, welcomed their second child, Ephraim, in September. He joined his 2-year-old brother Paisios. The family lives in Pittsburgh and California.
He spoke to Patricia Sheridan before he made his comments about the NFL's handling of the violent tackling issue.
How is everyone adjusting to the new baby?
Everybody is doing well, thank God. My wife is struggling. Obviously she isn't getting any sleep [chuckle]. But, she's got help around the house with her mother and grandmother.
Would you call yourself a superstitious guy? The camera often catches you crossing yourself and praying on the sidelines.
No, not at all, I would say most religions (me being Greek Orthodox) are the antithesis of what superstition is. I would say I'm more traditional than I am superstitious. I don't, for example, have to do things ritually before the game in order to feel comfortable going to the game. But I don't think I'm naturally a football player. I don't have that grit and that killer instinct. In fact, I see a lot of fear and a lot of traps, spiritually, for me in football -- as in any other part of my life. Whenever I do the sign of the cross, it always brings comfort in situations when you are faced with adversity and stress.
Do you use it as a way to concentrate or meditate?
I wouldn't call it meditation. People say prayer is a form of meditation. You can call it that, but no, it's just prayer.
Troy, how do you reconcile the Samoan warrior spirit you've talked about in other interviews, with your Christian, Greek Orthodox teachings?
Well, yeah that is a strange dichotomy. In one sense I do come from an ethnicity that is full of the warrior mentality. It is a struggle. But let's not separate what a physical warrior and a spiritual warrior can be. In one sense you can be a soldier. In another, you fight, as the Bible describes, bodiless powers. In one sense that's where my struggle is -- trying to be a valiant Christian warrior struggling against my own passions.
How did you come to Greek Orthodoxy? You and Theodora did it together, correct?
We did, yeah. I grew up as a kind of nondenominational Christian. I have two uncles who are Baptist ministers. I went to a Samoan church when I was younger. I went to a Catholic school, so I was actually able to experience a lot of different religions. Mormonism, as well. My father in-law, who I'm very close with, is a Muslim. I feel like that's been a huge gift. So I wasn't ignorant to a lot of other things that were out there. I went through a part of my spiritual journey, (my wife, I'm including in this) where I was like, there's just got to be one truth.
What triggered this? Was there something that happened?
There isn't, but if you want to talk about religion and one's existence, you can't really go into that gray area. You know? You can kind of try to be ignorant and say, "You know, I think God exists and I think I'm comfortable with where I'm at with God." But if you say you are a Christian and you really study what the Christian struggle is -- there is no gray area. There has to be the one truth and it has to be taken seriously. So I went in depth. What is Christianity? There are all these different religions -- where were they all founded? I wanted to get to the source, because if I saw there was a flaw in the source, then there's a flaw in the religion. I saw that Orthodoxy, without a shadow of a doubt, is a flawless religion.
Have you always been this focused and disciplined?
I guess in one sense I've kind of been obsessive compulsive. You know, if I fly fish, I want to be the best fly fisherman out there. I want to be able to get the best gear and do everything right. I've just never been a fan of just kind of dipping your toes into something and saying, "Ah, it's not for me." I've always tried to perfect everything I've been a part of. That's one thing that's beautiful about Orthodoxy, it's like an abyss of knowledge that just keeps getting deeper and deeper. It's endless.
Being a perfectionist, do you feel pressure from everyone's expectations?
I don't, because I never thought people could put higher expectations on me than I put on myself. Many times in my life people have said, "You had a good game." In my mind there are a lot of opportunities where, for example, I would say "I should have made this play and I didn't have the guts. I was too tentative. I was too scared to put myself out there and really make a play."
But it doesn't cause you stress?
No it doesn't. It humbles me more than anything.
You are often described as being humble and respectful. Was that something you learned growing up?
Honestly, I wouldn't say I'm very humble. If people could hear my thoughts ... [laughing] But I guess it's something I learned growing up, being raised by a lot of different family members, from aunts and uncles, to parents, to friends' families. It was just always to be respectful to your elders. It's just something that is within the Samoan tradition.
From what I read, Troy, your parents separated and you lived with your aunt and uncle.
My parents separated before I was 1 year old. I moved in with my aunt and uncle when I was in fourth grade. I was like 8 or 9 years old. I was getting in a lot of trouble when I was in Southern California. My older sisters were in gangs. My older brother was in gangs. My cousins were all in gangs. Well, not all my cousins. We actually went to visit my aunt and uncle in Oregon. I was always close with them. So, when I went up there and I saw sheep and cattle, trees, mountains, creeks, I was honestly in awe. I loved it. I asked my mom, "Can I just stay here? I don't want to leave." She let me stay for a couple more weeks. When she called for me to come back I cried. I said, "No, this is my home. I gotta stay here." I'm only in fourth grade. My aunt and uncle agreed. I stayed there and it was just so beautiful. You know when the sun is shining in Oregon there's no better place. But then it rains [laughing].
That changed the trajectory of your life. Was your mom OK with it?
Yeah, she was OK with it. It's nothing I could ever do with my children, I know that. By God's grace everything worked out. What's amazing about it is to see the opportunities and experiences I've had playing football at U.S.C. (University of Southern California) and playing football here and being part of successful teams and organizations. Meeting great football players and wondering what my life would be like had I not gone. You know? I might have been the complete opposite.
Polamalu is your mother's maiden name. Did you take it out of respect for that side of the family?
Yeah, it was out of respect for my aunt and uncle, Salu and Shelley Polamalu, who raised me. My father wasn't in my life that much. My mother obviously raised me from birth to third grade.
With all the news and new information about concussions does it make you think twice about letting your sons play football when the time comes?
I honestly don't care what they would want to do. I would like them to play athletics because there are a lot of lessons in athletics, and it's better to make mistakes in athletics than in real life. I continue to learn as a 29-year-old father in sports, that I don't have to go out in real life and make mistakes. I would just hope they would give everything they have to try to perfect whatever it is that they are in, whether it's music, sports, being a teacher, being a garbage man, whatever it is I would just hope that they would apply perfection to their job.
Speaking of that, I understand you're a big surfer. How does that skill translate onto the field?
Honestly, surfing is awesome. I'm not a very good surfer at all. I enjoy surfing and I try to surf a lot. It's awesome. To me it is great training. Just getting out there and having the inner struggle with Mother Nature. Football is different. You are playing against other people and that's even a greater challenge. People are way more dynamic. I just love being around the water and being around the ocean.
Now what about your hair? You just started growing it in college and never stopped? What would it take for you to cut it?
I don't know. I already know that I won't cut my children's hair. [laughing] So you are right it was just kind of college and going through a grungy stage. You know, you don't shave and you don't cut your hair. It started to just become a part of my identity.
It would be headline [pun intended] news if you cut it. It must be weird knowing your hair is so famous.
[Laughing] It is kind of weird. There's a lot of guys with long hair in the NFL.
Well, you kind of started that. Recently you were described as being as fast as a bolt of lightning. How does that feel and how do you keep your ego in check?
[Laughing] I think you have to put things in perspective. Like my first year here, I had a really horrible rookie year. I was scrutinized pretty heavily and I was called a draft bust and all these different things. I've never forgotten that. And I've never picked up a paper since. It helped me understand you can't really believe what everybody tells you whether it's good or bad. It's important not to pay any attention to any of that.
Speaking of that you've done some very funny commercials. Are you comfortable in that role?
I'm starting to get more comfortable. At first I was really uncomfortable. This last off-season we shot three commercials and the previous off-season we shot two with Head & Shoulders. I've had an opportunity with Nike and Coca-Cola to do some commercials. It gives me a whole new respect for what actors and actresses go through. For a 15-second commercial I'm there for eight hours. Yeah! [Laughing] With the hair, the wind, you know all that stuff. [laughing]. It's pretty fun. You are babied and treated like you are a superstar. You get your own trailer. Honestly being on the football field is something I feel has been natural to my path in life. But when I'm on the set, and I look at all these people running around like caterers and acting coaches that's when it hits me -- where in the world am I right now? That's kind of been more of a slap of reality to me than, you know, walking off the field holding the Super Bowl trophy.
A well-known idiom reads: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". The origin of the imagery of this proverb, most popularly attributed to St. John Chrysostom, has many forms which has come down to us, but the most popular version is: "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts." The fullest form seems to be: "The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path." Some even say that St. Athanasius wrote before this: "The floor of hell is covered with the skulls of bishops." The truth is, however, that no one can find the primary source for these quotes, as some even attribute it to later writers such as Alphonsus Ligouri, John Eudes, Teresa of Avila, and even Dante.
What is interesting is that all of these writers were critical of the clergy in their time. Yet for some reason, this is the quote that has been chosen to be attributed to them. The imagery certainly seems inspired by Dante, while the Early Fathers, with all their strong rhetoric, did not decorate language so strongly in their criticisms of the clergy so as to make such an over-generalized comment. The only thing we do find, which may also contribute to the origin of this quote, are certain tales in the Desert Fathers who provide frightful images of hell. There is even one saying which speaks of a lazy monk who died and was later seen in hell by a weeping Elder in a vision, to which the lazy monk comforted his Elder saying: “Abba, don’t be weeping like that, because I can tell you something really true that will cheer you up - I am standing on a bishop’s shoulders!” It should be noted, however, that some scholars do attribute this last tale to some time after the 6th or 7th century.
Since we can confidently say that St. John Chrysostom never said these words, we must look to other sources. What seems most probable to me is that the post-Dantian imagery coupled with the over-generalization of criticism of the clergy in the quote evokes something one would find in the writings of the Protestant Reformers. If we look at the issue textually, we do find in the writings of John Wesley the attribution of the following quote to St. John Chrysostom: "The road to hell is paved with the souls of priests" (see here). In the book The Works of John Wesley (v. 26 p. 237, OUP 1982) there is a footnote that the word 'souls', "... is almost certainly a misreading of Wesley's tremulous writing of 'sculls'...." The note goes on to say that various Victorian writers agree in referring this proverb to St. Chrysostom, "...but so far this has not been traced in his writings." Though I have not confirmed it, it would seem probable to me that the possible source for this quote attributed to Chrysostom would be a corpus of later writings known as Pseudo-Chrysostom that are falsely attributed to the real Chrysostom. Perhaps it was from this that John Wesley, who was a Reformer well-read in the Church Fathers, got this quote.
According to T.J. Buckton in Notes and Queries (ser.1.V.117, 1852, p.92) it is “probably quoted at second or third hand, and with rhetorical embellishments - certainly not from the original direct - an expression of St. Chrysostom, in his third homily on the Acts of the Apostles: 'I know not if there be many in the priesthood who are saved, but I know that many more perish.'" An actual translation of this passage from Chrysostom's third homily of Acts more accurately reads: "I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish." Chrysostom here is definitely talking about bishops, in context, and trying to deter men from corruptly obtaining high ecclesiastical office. We know that simony was a major issue in his time and he played a major role in making it cease.
I have posted before concerning the sin of rashly rebuking priests (here), but sometimes it is necessary. In the New Testament we have some provisions on how this is to be done:
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).
“Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning" (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
There are also examples, as in Galatians 2:11-14 where St. Paul writes:
"And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Kephas in front of all, 'If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?'”
It is always important when reading the Holy Fathers and Holy Scripture to first consider the context in which they are speaking before applying it to our own situation. For example, when Chrysostom said what he really said, it is well known that simony was a major issue. Furthermore, within his memory was the Arian controversy of the 4th century when it is said that approximately one third of the bishops in the Church became Arian (even more in the area of Constantinople), along with countless priests and entire dioceses. Even in St. John's time Christological heresies were still very much in vogue among the clergy and laity. Within this context, we can very much understand the need to preach such things to the simple people of Constantinople so they not go astray and follow a false gospel.
And we should always consider that Chrysostom's words of caution were not only spoken about bishops and priests, but about lay people as well. He is noted to have also said in one public homily: "Out of this great number of people, how many do you think will be saved? Among so many thousands of people, we would not find a hundred who are."
Saturday, November 13, 2010
St. John spent three years in exile, and reposed as an exile on the Feast of the Elevation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, September 14, 407, in the town of Komani in Georgia (Abkhazia). Before his repose, the Holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him, as did the Holy Martyr Basilisk (May 22) in whose church he received Communion for the last time. His last words were, "Glory be to God for all things," and with that, the soul of the golden-mouthed patriarch was taken into Paradise.
The Church of St. Basilisk still exists in Komani where St. John received his final Communion, as well as the sarcophagus in which the relics of St. John Chrysostom originally rested before being transferred to Constantinople. The Monastery of St. John Chrysostom is the place of St. John's exile and his repose.
In July 1993 it also became a place of conflict when 500 natives were slaughtered, as the video below shows. More photos of the monastery can be seen here.
Video: The Return of the Relics of St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Theologian to Constantinople
In 2004, responding to the request of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and recognizing the importance of St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Theologian to Orthodox Christians around the world, Pope John Paul II agreed to return the relics of these two great Fathers of the Church and Ecumenical Teachers to their original resting place in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This program (produced by GOTelecom and funded by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Order of St. Andrew) highlights the moving Ecumenical Service at the Vatican and the Service at the Ecumenical Patriarchate while informing the viewer of the historical significance of these saints.
Read more here.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
John was born in Antioch in the year 354. His father, Secundus, was an imperial commander and his mother's name was Anthusa. Studying Greek philosophy, John became disgusted with Hellenic paganism and adopted the Christian Faith as the one and all-embracing truth. Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch, baptized John, and his parents also subsequently received baptism.
Following his parents' repose, John was tonsured a monk and lived a strict life of asceticism. He then wrote a book, On the Priesthood, after which the Holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him, and prophesied that he would have a life of great service, great grace and great suffering. When he was to be ordained a priest, an angel of God appeared simultaneously to John and to Patriarch Flavian (Meletius's successor). While the patriarch was ordaining John, a shining white dove was seen hovering over John's head.
Glorified for his wisdom, asceticism and power of words, John was chosen as Patriarch of Constantinople at the behest of Emperor Arcadius. As patriarch, he governed the Church for six years with unequalled zeal and wisdom. He sent missionaries to the pagan Celts and Scythians and eradicated simony in the Church, deposing many bishops guilty of this vice. He extended the charitable works of the Church and wrote a special order of the Divine Liturgy. He shamed the heretics, denounced Empress Eudoxia, interpreted Holy Scripture with his golden mind and tongue, and bequeathed the Church many precious books of his homilies. The people glorified him, the envious loathed him, and the Empress, on two occasions, sent him into exile.
John spent three years in exile, and reposed as an exile on the Feast of the Elevation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, September 14, 407, in the town of Komani in Georgia. Before his repose, the Holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him again, as did the Holy Martyr Basilisk (May 22) in whose church he received Communion for the last time. His last words were, "Glory be to God for all things," and with that, the soul of the golden-mouthed patriarch was taken into Paradise. Chrysostom's head reposes in the Church of the Dormition in Moscow, and his body reposes in the Vatican in Rome.
Punishment and reward! Both of these are in the hands of God. But, as this earthly life is only a shadow of the true life in the heavens, so punishment and reward here on earth are only a shadow of true punishment and reward in eternity.
The principle persecutors of the saint of God Chrysostom were Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria and Empress Eudoxia. After Chrysostom's martyric death, bitter punishment befell them both. Theophilus went mad, and Eudoxia was banished from the imperial court by Emperor Arcadius. Eudoxia soon became ill with an incurable disease - wounds opened up all over her body, and worms came out of her wounds. Such was the stench that she gave off, that it was not easy for a person on the street to pass by her house. Physicians used all the most powerful perfumes and incense if only to overcome the stench from the wicked empress, but had little success. The empress finally died in corruption and agony. Even after death, the hand of God lay heavy on her. The coffin containing her body shook day and night for a full thirty-four years until Emperor Theodosius translated the relics of St. John Chrysostom to Constantinople.
But what happened to Chrysostom after his repose? Reward - such reward as only God can give. Adeltius, the Arabian bishop who received the exiled Chrysostom into his home in Cucusus, prayed to God after Chrysostom's repose that He reveal to him where John's soul was to be found. Adeltius then had a vision while at prayer. It was as though he were out of himself, and was led through the heavens by a radiant youth who showed him the hierarchs, pastors and teachers of the Church in order, calling each of them by name - but he did not see John. Then that angel of God led him to the passage out of Paradise, and Adeltius was downcast. When the angel asked him why he was sad, Adeltius replied that he was sorry that he had not seen his beloved teacher, John Chrysostom. The angel replied: "No man who is still in the flesh can see him, for he is at God's throne with the Cherubim and Seraphim."
HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint John Chrysostom
The Church glorifies St. John
The "Golden-mouth", blessed by God,
Christ's great soldier,
Who is the adornment and boast of the Church:
Profound of heart and mind,
And a golden-stringed harp of words.
He plumbed the depths of mysteries,
And found the pearl that shines as the stars.
Exalted in mind to heaven's height,
He expounded divine truth;
And his vision is true throughout history.
He gave all to the Son of God.
He revealed to us the horrors of sin,
And the virtues that adorn a man;
He showed us the most precious mysteries,
And all the sweet richness of Paradise.
Evangelist, interpreter of the Gospel
And bearer of spiritual joy,
Zealous for Christ like an apostle,
He would accept no injustice.
He was tormented like any martyr,
And received his torment as a pledge of salvation.
This servant of Christ showed himself true;
Therefore, the Church glorifies Chrysostom.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The grace of your words illuminated the universe like a shining beacon. It amassed treasures of munificence in the world. It demonstrated the greatness of humility, teaching us by your own words; therefore, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede to Christ the Logos for the salvation of our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
You received divine grace from Heaven, and by your own lips taught all to worship the One God in Trinity. All-blessed, venerable John Chrysostom, deservedly, we praise you for you are a teacher clearly revealing things divine.
A Note on the Feasts of St. John Chrysostom
The following feasts of St. John Chrysostom are celebrated by the Church:
November 13 - His repose (which was transferred from Sept. 14)
December 15 - His enthronement as Patriarch of Constantinople
January 27 - The transfer of his relics to Constantinople
January 30 - The feast of the Three Hierarchs
February 26 - His ordination as a priest
The disgraced Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije has demanded that he be reinstated as the Kosovo eparch, warning that he would otherwise start a "new church," the daily Blic said Friday.
The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) stripped Artemije of authority over the Kosovo eparchy in February over his "inability to govern" and shortcomings in fiscal and material accounting.
He was also banned from performing services amid concerns within SPC that he may split the church.
A group of radical monks from two monasteries in the Kosovo eparchy, which also covers a part of southern Serbia, rebelled against SPC after Artemije's ouster.
Now Artemije, "writing from exile in the Sisatovac monastery" in northern Serbia, is alleging that he was "sentenced without court and sentence," Blic quoting his letter to the SPC synod as saying.
Artemije spoke for himself and the rebellious monks, the newspaper said. The group represents the far-right wing within the church and may have support from some of the SPC bishops.
Artemije's threats come ahead of a meeting of the SPC assembly on November 17. The SPC, which traditionally aims to keep the public out of its affairs, did not immediately comment on Artemije's letter.
The mutiny could further strain already fragile relations between reformists and hardliners within the SPC leadership, who have been unable to agree on issues ranging from ties with renegade orthodox churches in Macedonia and Montenegro to the form of the liturgy.
Read also: Retired Bishop To Establish "New Church"?
St. Anthony's Orthodox Monastery in Arizona
A Greek Pilgrim Visits St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona
Friday, November 12, 2010
Concerning a certain water beast driven away by the power of the blessed man's prayer.
Also at another time, when the blessed man was for a number of days in the province of the Picts, he had to cross the river Nes [Ness]. When he reached its bank, he saw a poor fellow being buried by other inhabitants; and the buriers said that, while swimming not long before, he had been seized and most savagely bitten by a water beast. Some men, going to his rescue in a wooden boat, though too late, had put out hooks and caught hold of his wretched corpse. When the blessed man heard this, he ordered notwithstanding that one of his companions should swim out and bring back to him, by sailing, a boat that stood on the opposite bank. Hearing this order of the holy and memorable man, Lugne mocu‑Min obeyed without delay, and putting off his clothes, excepting his tunic, plunged into the water. But the monster, whose appetite had earlier been not so much sated as whetted for prey, lurked in the depth of the river. Feeling the water above disturbed by Lugne's swimming, it suddenly swam up to the surface, and with gaping mouth and with great roaring rushed towards the man swimming in the middle of the stream. While all that were there, barbarians and even the brothers, were struck down with extreme terror, the blessed man, who was watching, raised his holy hand and drew the saving sign of the Cross in the empty air; and then, invoking the name of God, he commanded the savage beast, and said: "You will go no further. Do not touch the man; turn back speedily". Then, hearing this command of the saint, the beast, as if pulled back with ropes, fled terrified in swift retreat; although it had before approached so close to Lugne as he swam that there was no more than the length of one short pole between man and beast. Then seeing that the beast had withdrawn and that their fellow-soldier Lugne had returned to them unharmed and safe, in the boat, the brothers with great amazement glorified God in the blessed man. And also the pagan barbarians who were there at the time, impelled by the magnitude of this miracle that they themselves had seen, magnified the God of the Christians.
Elder Epiphanios was asked:
"Many Christians maintain that psychiatric illnesses are due to demonic influence and, with this viewpoint, they reject the use of psychiatric medicines. What do you have to say about this position?"
"A certain percentage and, furthermore, a small percentage of 'psychiatric patients' are really possessed. The majority, however, of psychiatric patients are not possessed nor are the manifestations of their psychiatric illnesses due to demonic influence."
"And how can we tell that there is a possession, when it is such?"
"The Church diagnoses possession from the position of the sufferer as regards the Sacred Sacraments: Divine Communion, Confession, etc. Or as regards the Gospel, the Precious Cross, the sacred relics or the holy icons and, in general, sacred things."
Father --- tells me that at Saint Gerasimos of Kefallonia they used to place the Holy Scripture or some icon on the back of a possessed person lying face-down - that is, without them seeing in order to exclude the possibility of suggestion - and then the possessed person would tremble, a thing which would not occur when they would place other types of books or objects on him."
"Do we have any example of psychosis among the saints?"
"Certainly. I will off hand mention to you Saint Olympia the Deaconess. After the exile of Holy Chrysostom, her Spiritual Father, she suffered depression and this saint consoled her with his letters reminding her of the divine reward for those who are persecuted in the name of the Lord."
"Do epileptics have a demon?"
"Not all. In many of these, the brain simply is ailing and this has as a result the manifestation of seizures, deafness, etc. - manifestations similar to the ones of those possessed, as they appear in the Gospels."
"Why did the Lord do so many miracles with the possessed?"
"So that the superiority of the Lord's power over the demons would be made manifest and so that the people would believe in Him. These miracles seem a lot in number, because it is likely that God allowed the devil to bother people more at that time, without the possibility being excluded that the number of the possessed people might have been the same as the number of those of all ages."
From Counsels For Life: From the Life and Teachings of Father Epiphanios Theodoropoulos, pp. 204-205.
Construction on the church began in 1928 and was used for worship in 1931. Originally it was a private church, but at the instruction of the Archbishop of Athens it became a public parish in 1932. Because it was initially a small church, in 1956 the building was expanded and today it stands as one of the largest churches in the entire Metropolis of Piraeus.
For the life of St. Nilus, who is commemorated on November 12 and May 7, read also: Saint Nilus the Myrrh-Gusher and His Prophecies
By Archimandrite Nektarios Ziompolas
After Corfu's deliverance from a siege by the Turks, owing to the protection of St. Spyridon the Wonderworker, on 11 August 1716, Andrea Pisani, the governor and general of Corfu, wished to do something in order to thank the saint for his great benefaction concerning the aforementioned deliverance. He consulted a papal theologian, Francisco Frangipani, as to what he should do and what would be best and well-pleasing to the saint.
The theologian said that it would be a very good and holy deed to build a precious marble altar inside the Church of St. Spyridon, so that they could perform a Latin Mass inside. He said: "Your Excellency can hear the Mass in your own language when you are present there." The theologian's counsel pleased the governor, and he ordered that the materials be prepared at once.
However, before the materials were made ready, it seemed appropriate to him to call the priests of that church (where the relics of the divine Spyridon were housed) and find out in what way they could be of assistance. As soon as they heard the unexpected news, they told him bluntly that this was a dangerous innovation, and they wished in no way to help him with his plan. The governor replied angrily that even if they were not willing to help, as the supreme authority he would do as he wished and would command that the materials be gathered outside the saint's church without fail. So there was gathered together asbestos, plaster, marble, and a slab from select marble, superbly crafted for an altar.
That night in a dream, the governor saw a man in a monastic habit saying to him: "Why are you bothering me, and why are you upsetting my children (i.e., the priests)? Know that what you are intending to do is not in your interest." At daybreak he called the theologian into his room (that is, the one who gave him the idea) and related to him the dream in detail. The theologian said: "As Christians, we are obliged in no way to believe dreams, nor are we to accept them at all as real. You should certainly consider this, my lord, to be an obvious temptation of the devil, with which the adversary troubles the good, in order to amuse himself and impede such a most-pious deed." The governor calmed down, fully convinced by the theologian's words.
That night, the governor again saw the same monk in a dream threatening him harshly saying: "Know, most certainly, that if you bother my holy house, you will regret it, as it is of no profit." The ruler was terrified by this steadfast decree. He did not again wait for daybreak, but straightaway called for the theologian. He told him every detail about the vision, described his faint-heartedness and said that he was overcome by such fear, that he not dare go through with the task. Then the theologian speaking up and poising himself nobly, said: "My lord, know, that if you grow timid from doing this holy deed that you have decided upon, you will appear to people as not being of proper judgement, since you believe in dreams conjured up by the devil."
The governor was filled with courage by these words and as day came on, which was the 11th of November 1718, he went to the church of the saint so as to venerate. He was accompanied by those of his court (along with the city's engineer) in order to measure the area according to length, width, and height for the construction of the altar. At that time, the oldest of the priests, Marinos Voulgaris Sakellarios, and the priest in charge, Spyridon Voulgaris (the great protopresbyter), stood before the governor and with humble voices begged him not to go through with such a modification, as it might not seem best to the saint. When he heard them, however, he flew into a rage, threatening that if they did not do as he wished and become silent, he would send them to Venice in chains, to be thrown into prison, never again to see the light of day. "I am not intending to do some unlawful deed," he said, "but to set up an altar, a holy and God-pleasing work!" The priests were cast into despair and terror-stricken by his threats, and with the other Orthodox present - who were not few - they ran towards divine assistance. Opening the holy reliquary of our great father, they chanted a Paraklesis, shedding abundant tears, hoping to hinder the governor's bad intention.
At around midnight on November 12th, the day on which the craftsmen expected to start their work, there was lightening and thunder - thunderbolts, one after the other. It was then that the guard of the governor's residence saw a monk approaching him holding a lit torch in his hand. The guard, according to procedure, asked him once, and then twice: "Who are you? Where are you going?" And seeing as he did not receive an answer, he lifted his musket in order to kill the visitor. But then the monk answered: "I am Spyridon." As soon as he said this he grabbed the guard by the arm and threw him with great force out into Spianada Square in the city of Corfu, close to the Church of the Crucifixion. There the guard found himself standing upright on both feet holding his gun as he had been before. Immediately following this, the saint lit the store house of the castle on fire. The extreme heat caused the buildings that were inside the governor's palace and everything around it to collapse. The governor was killed inside, his neck having been crushed between two beams in such a way that it was as though they had been placed there for that purpose. The theologian was found outside the walls of the citadel in a ditch, into which all the squalor of the city sewer drained and flowed, holding his private parts in his hand. Many others were also killed, both men and women, some belonging to the court and others not, about nine-hundred souls. Around that time two other fearsome signs also took place.
First: That same night, a large silver oil lamp that the governor had hung before the saint's relics as an offering fell to the ground and its base broke into pieces, in spite of having been hung with a very strong chain. None of the numerous other oil lamps fell or suffered anything similar. And what happened to the oil lamp (or rather, the base) is apparent still today, because it was again hung up in the same manner it was found as evidence of the incident.
Second: At the exact same moment (as was confirmed later by those who looked into the matter) a flaming arrow - a thunderbolt of lightening to be precise - struck the picture of the governor in Venice and burnt it up, without anything else in the house suffering any harm. His brothers and relatives immediately interpreted this as a bad omen concerning the governor.
The rest of the Latin laymen and clergy, or rather the "Prevedore" as they were called, the Latin bishop, other officials and private citizens, as many as lived in the city of Corfu (for it was the home of the bishop's palace and many others), these are who I call the rest, gave the command that the aforementioned building materials be taken from the Saint's church. They made use of the materials elsewhere, save the marble slab which had been cut for the altar. This was reverently taken to their so-called "duomo," that is the cathedral of their own metropolis, into the great altar. It can still be seen there today resting low on its side.
The soldier, who had been the guard at the castle on that day, was roused and crying out in a loud voice, declared: "Saint Spyridon did these great and fearful things." And he would tell the whole story in great detail. Therefore, the Latins, not wanting to bear the shame, sent him away to Italy three days later.
This is the story of the frightful and monumental event that took place in the city of Corfu, owing to the most-divine Spyridon - quick to listen and patron of the city and of the whole Church. We must now consider carefully and in detail those circumstances, which prove the event undeniable, so that the enemies of the truth cannot blather, saying that the arson at the store house was a coincidence, from which the governor and those around him died.
Ἀπολυτίκιον Ήχος α'
Της Συνόδου της πρώτης, ώσπερ πάλαι υπέρμαχος, ούτω νυν υψών ανεφάνης την εκκλησίαν Χριστού και γαρ μακράν του Ναού σου εξωθείς, και άρδην εν πυρί κατέστρεψας, και εις το άσβεστον απέπεμψας σαφώς, Λατίνων γόνους, ως στρεβλούντας την θεολογίαν σου δόξα τω σε βραβεύσαντι ημίν` δόξα τω σε δοξάσαντι` δόξα το διά σου υψώσαντι ημάς Σπυρίδων μέγιστε.
Source: Ouranou Crisis (Judgement from Heaven), Athens, 2007.
Another thing the blessed man taught and insisted upon with all was never on any occasion whatsoever to associate with heretics and, above all, never to take Holy Communion with them, 'even if', the blessed man said, 'you remain without communicating all your life, if through stress of circumstances you cannot find a community of the Catholic Church. For if, having legally married a wife in this world of the flesh, we are forbidden by God and by the laws to desert her and be united to another woman, even though we have to spend a long time separated from her in a distant country, and shall incur punishment if we violate our vows, how then shall we, who have been Joined to God through the Orthodox faith and the Catholic Church - as the apostle says: "I espoused you to one husband that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ" [2 Cor 11:2] - how shall we escape from sharing in that punishment which in the world to come awaits heretics, if we defile the Orthodox and holy faith by adulterous communion with heretics?'
'For communion', he said, 'has been so called because he who has communion has things in common and agrees with those with whom he has communion. Therefore I implore you earnestly, children, never to go near the oratories of the heretics in order to communicate there.'
Thursday, November 11, 2010
A friend from Serbia sent me some very interesting photos of myrrh and blood streaming items from an Orthodox Christian household which include the following: various icons, a photo and icon of St. Theodore the Studite (Nov. 11), a statue of the Mother of God, a brass Cross, and a prayer rope which contains a holy relic of St. Theodore the Studite. They belong to a family who live in Zajecar of Serbia, and according to them, some of the icons started streaming myrrh and blood prior to the civil war in former Yugoslavia (1990), while the other items started recently in 2007. The prayer rope was given to Milan Dimitrijević (the owner of the home where this is taking place) while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Everything else was acquired in Serbia.
Of special interest is that the brass Cross streams blood from the area of the five wounds of Christ, the photograph of St. Theodore is a print that was taken of a fresco in a church, the statue also streams myrrh, and the prayer rope is kept in a jar to catch the myrrh which continuously flows (there is always an abundant supply for pilgrims who come to be anointed by the holy myrrh).
This holy myrrh has healing properties as well. For example, a young woman from Belgrade who had stage four cancer applied the holy myrrh on herself regularly for months. Upon examination, doctors were in awe to find that her cancer had gone into remission. (Interestingly, the young woman was initially in doubt over the authenticity of the divine origin of this miracle, and during this time of doubt her cancer would go into exacerbation.)
Some people see this miracle as a sign from above, others see it as divine grace visiting the faithful to aid in their spiritual and physical healing. It seems both are valid explanations.
There is also a link in Serbian here.
Elder Epiphanios was asked:
"Are Christians allowed to take psychiatric medicines? Because many maintain that anxiety, depression, melancholy and, in general, psychiatric disorders of the soul are healed only with spiritual life: that is, with prayer, going to church, confession, Holy Communion, etc."
"When necessary, the Christian must also take them."
"But what can these medications do to the soul of man?"
"We must clarify from the beginning that the so-called psychiatric medicines or tranquilizers - that is, these material substances - cannot in any way give man's soul the longed-for calmness, nor to bring consolation and hope to the soul of a mother, for example, whose son has died, nor even to deliver the conscience of a man from the guilt of the sins which he has committed. These gifts "come down only from above, from the Father of lights." And only the celebrants (the priests and, furthermore, the spiritual fathers) of the Church are able to heal these conditions of people."
"Then why did you say that psychiatric medications are necessary?"
"Listen, anxiety and depression in people are caused not only by such above-mentioned factors, or even from financial ruin or from repression of their personalities and loss of self-esteem, etc., but also from factors which originate in the nervous system (the brain) of man - in other words, from the disturbance of the higher functions of the brain, such as emotion, thought, will, etc. This type of anxiety or depression, etc. is improved or even healed with psychiatric medicines, medicines, that is, which act on the brain functions in such a way as to bring them back to their normal rhythm.
To put it more simply, many Christians focus their attention on the immaterial component of man - that is, the soul, attributing to her alone the manifestations of anxiety, melancholy, etc. and thus they reject the medicines given the fact that matter cannot affect the immaterial. They forget though, that man also has a body. And because the brain, through which the soul is expressed, is an instrument of the body, with material means (that is, with medicines or earlier on with insulin comas or electroshock) its disturbances must be dealt with."
"What do you mean when you say that soul expresses itself through the brain?"
"An image which we can use to describe the relationship of soul and brain is the violin with the violinist. Just as even the best musician cannot make good music if the the violin is broken or unstrung, in the same manner man's behavior will not be whole (see 2 Tim. 3:17) if his brain presents a certain disturbance, in which case the soul cannot be expressed correctly. It is precisely this disturbance of the brain that certain medicines help correct and so aid the soul in expressing itself correctly."
"Let me ask something else. Can intense sacramental life or fervent prayer heal these disturbances of the brain?"
"Of course, God can do a miracle for these sufferings. The question, however, which was posed to me in the beginning was something else. I was asked if Christians are allowed to use psychiatric medicines. And to this I respond undoubtedly: Yes!
Simultaneously, however, I also ask you: Why don't you ask the same questions about bronchial asthma, for example, or eczema or migraine headaches or glaucoma or intestinal ulcers, etc. etc.? Let us finally realize that anxiety or melancholy, etc. does not come only from the disturbance of the soul, but also from the disturbance of the brain or from a combination of the two. In the final case, psychological support is also needed (the solution of problems, selfless assistance, behavior salted with the salt of discernment, so that those who pose such problems do not feel difficulty from the manifestations of our love, examination from an educated, pious psychiatrist who will also enlighten them about the nature of the disturbances, the invocation of divine aid, the approaching to the Sacraments of the Church, etc.) and simultaneously a medical therapy."
|Fresco from the Holy Cell of St. Menas, Great Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos.|
In June 1942, during the North-Africa campaign that was decisive for the outcome of the Second World War, the German forces under the command of General Rommel were on their way to Alexandria, and happened to make a halt near a place which the Arabs call El Alamein (the place of Menas). An ancient ruined church nearby in Abu Mena was dedicated to Saint Menas; there some people say he is buried. Here the weaker Allied forces including some Greeks confronted the numerically and militarily superior German army, and the result of the coming battle of El Alamein seemed certain. During the first night of engagement, Saint Menas appeared in the midst of the German camp at the head of a caravan of camels, exactly as he was shown on the walls of the ruined church in one of the frescoes depicting his miracles. This astounding and terrifying apparition so undermined German morale that it contributed to the brilliant victory of the Allies.
Winston Churchill said of this victory: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." He also wrote: "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat."
The Egyptian Gazette refers to this miracle in its November 10, 1942 issue. On November 11, 1942 the Patriarch of Alexandria Christophoros II celebrated the feast of Saint Menas in the Church of Saint Savvas and gave thanks to God for this miracle. The Church of Saint Menas was restored by the Coptic Church on November 27, 1959. These events helped revive the celebration of Saint Menas.
Saint Menas the Great Martyr and Miracle Worker
First Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein