Monday, November 30, 2015

Synaxarion of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called


On the thirtieth day of the month [November], we commemorate the Holy glorious and all-praised Apostle Andrew the First-Called

Verses

Andrew bears crucifixion inverted,
Appearing truly and not as a shadow with feet upwards.
On the thirtieth Andrew the First-Called endured the cross.

Andrew was from the city of Bethsaida, the son of Jonah, and brother of Peter the Apostle. He was the first disciple of John the great Forerunner and Baptist. Later, when he heard his Teacher say, while pointing to Jesus Christ, "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world," he left the Forerunner and followed Christ. And to his brother the Pre-eminent Peter he said, "We have found the Messiah." With these words he drew Peter towards spiritual eros for Christ. And there are many other things that are found in the divinely-inspired Scriptures regarding this Apostle.

Saint Frumentius of Ethiopia as a Model for our Lives

St. Frumentius of Ethiopia (Feast Day - November 30)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Innumerable are the spiritual stars that shine in the noetic firmament of the Church, and with their brilliance they illuminate the ends of the world. Countless are the multitudes of saints, who like fragrant flowers intoxicate with their fragrance, namely their life and conduct, as well as their inspired words and "Christ-loving intellect". But many of our saints are completely unknown, although they offered much to society with their illumined personalities. Like signposts which lead in the right direction and along the correct path, they lead to illumination and the salvation of countless souls throughout the ages. To this category belongs the saint whose pious life we will recount.

St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle, the First to Find Christ (St. Proclus of Constantinople)


By St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople

When the Apostle Andrew felt deeply that he found the Christ that dominates the hearts of all, upon seeing the divine Teacher like a bright treasure, called out undeterred to his brother Peter: "We have found the Messiah." 

What great brotherly love! It also reverses the natural order of things. Andrew came to life second after Peter. He was first however, before Peter, to be called to be a wondrous fisherman for Christ and in the service of the gospel. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

An Appearance of the Holy New Martyr Philoumenos in a Hospital in England


By Protopresbyter Fr. Kosmas Pavlidis

Today, Monday the 23rd of November 2015, at 1:00 PM in England, as the Parish Priest of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition of Theotokos & Saint Andreas in Birmingham, where we host the sacred relics of Saint John the Forerunner and the priestly Stole of Saint Philoumenos, who was martyred at Jacob's Well in Jerusalem, together with Elder Nektarios Moulatsiotis, took the Stole of Saint Philoumenos, and we visited Queen Elizabeth Hospital to bless a patient named Kyriaki, who is my spiritual child.

Saint Philoumenos of Ancyra

St. Philoumenos of Ancyra (Feast Day - November 29)

Verses

The feet of Philoumenos were pierced with nails,
Loving Christ and being loved by God.

During the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275), the Holy Martyr Philoumenos, who was from Lycaonia and had as an occupation the delivery of wheat to Galatia, was brought before the governor of Ancyra, whose name was Felix. 

Having confessed that he was a Christian, they first hammered nails through his feet and tore at his flesh. Then they pierced him with a wooden blade, and placed him in a lit furnace. However, he remained unscathed by the power of Christ. 

Cats, Mice and Saint Paisios


The sister of Elder Paisios, Christina, related the following:

Once I went to Stomiou Monastery to see the Elder and I brought him two cats, because he had many mice, a sheer scourge.

"Father Paisios," I said, "I brought you the cats so you can settle down from the mice."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Fate of the Sixth Son of Roman Emperor Maurice


Emperor Maurice was murdered on November 27 (some say November 23), 602 at the order of Phocas, his successor. It is said that the deposed emperor was forced to watch his six sons executed before his eyes, before he was beheaded himself. Empress Constantina and her three daughters were spared and sent to a monastery.

Maurice's marriage produced ten known children:

- Theodosius (4 August 583 – 27 November 602). According to John of Ephesus, he was the first heir born to a reigning emperor since the reign of Theodosius II (408–450). He was appointed Caesar in 587 and co-emperor on 26 March 590.
- Tiberius (d. 27 November 602).
- Petrus (d. 27 November 602).
- Paulus (d. 27 November 602).
- Justin (d. 27 November 602).
- Justinian (d. 27 November 602).
- Anastasia (d. circa 605).
- Theoctista (d. circa 605).
- Cleopatra (d. circa 605).
- Miriam/Maria (b. ca 582), married to Khosrau II.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Tomb and Church of St. Athanasios Pentaschoinitis Brought to Light in Cyprus


Saint Athanasios Pentaschoinitis is an offspring of Cyprus born and raised on the island, in other words he is local saint. He came from the village of Pentaschoinos which no longer exists, but lies in ruins south of the village of Agios Theodoros in Larnaca. There, at this village, are also the ruins of a church dedicated to the Saint which was once beautiful and brilliant when it existed in its days of glory. On the floor of the church there are two holes leading to an underground tunnel, which lead to the sea and were used for escape in times of danger. The floor of the church is covered with the ruins of the church.

Saint Damaskinos the Studite, Bishop of Liti and Rendini (+ 1577)

St. Damaskinos the Studite (Feast Day - November 27)

Damaskinos, the Bishop of Liti and Rendini, was a prominent figure and holy hierarch not only of the 16th century, but throughout all the years of bondage under the Turks, and therefore is a spiritual lighthouse that illumined then the spiritual darkness of Orthodox Christians, glorifying as well the renowned Diocese of Liti and Rendini, which because of him became famous throughout the world.

He was born around the year 1520 in Thessaloniki where he received an excellent education. Damaskinos, known as Demetrios at this time, went to Constantinople as a young man, and prior to 1546 became a Monk in the Monastery of Stoudios, where he received the name Damaskinos and the nickname "the Studite". As a Deacon he studied at the famous Patriarchal Academy under Thomas (Theophanes) Eleavoulkos Notaras, and also became a renowned preacher in Constantinople, where he spread beneficial words like seeds, and these later became material for his popular book titled Thesauros (Treasure).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Holy New Martyr George of Chios (+ 1807)

St. George of Chios (Feast Day - November 26)

Verses

A dagger brought about your end George,
They also through this brought about your crown.
On the twenty-sixth George your neck was cut with metal.

George was born in Chios to Paraskeva and Agerou. When he was 18 months old his mother died, and he was brought up by his stepmother.

At ten years old, George was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker named Vessetzes, with whom he traveled to the island of Psara to build an iconostasis for the Church of Saint Nicholas. While in Psara, George became acquainted with some other young boys and left the island without notifying his master. The boys ended up in the city of Kavala where they attempted to steal some fruit from a garden, but were caught and handed over to the judge of the city. Frightened, young George embraced Islam, was circumcised and named Ahmed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving and Supplication Prayer for the Church and Clergy


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafapaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

We live in a time in which much is said and written about the Church, the Bishops and the Clergy in general. We forget, however, to do something better, which is to pray for the Church, especially for the Bishops. This is because, unfortunately, we are influenced by a secular spirit and we think that all issues are solved only with protest and anthropocentric actions.

I remember a certain pious lady who everyday would pray for the Patriarchs, Bishops, Priests, Monks and Missionaries that God would strengthen them in their work and mission. Indeed, those who work in the Lord's vineyard have much need, some to be strengthened in their struggles, others to endure slanders and persecutions, others to bring to repentance and shepherd their flock, in accordance with ecclesiastical tradition, etc.

Synaxarion of Saint Katherine the Great Martyr


On the 25th of this month (November), we commemorate the Holy and glorious Great Martyr of Christ Katherine

Verses

Katherine was wise and a virgin,
And a Martyr by the sword, O beautiful triad!
On the twenty-fifth the aid of orators was killed by the sword.

Bride of Christ, Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine is depicted with the symbols of her wisdom and martyrdom in this icon of the 17th century Cretan school on the imposing iconostasis of the Monastery basilica.

A graceful silver ring bearing the monogram of Saint Catherine of Alexandria betokens the most ancient of societies, its earliest membership predating Christianity itself. Presented to pilgrims at Mount Sinai by the monks of St. Catherine's Greek Orthodox Monastery, the ring signifies pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain – a custom whose preservation in the memory of local populations led the earliest ascetics to settle at the Burning Bush. Saint Helena visited in the fourth century, and others followed, enthusiastically noting the hospitality that rewarded arduous journey through the desert by camel caravan.

Saint Katherine of Alexandria Resource Page


Verses

Katherine was wise and a virgin,
And a Martyr by the sword, O beautiful triad!
On the twenty-fifth the aid of orators was killed by the sword.

Synaxarion of Saint Katherine the Great Martyr

Saint Katherine the Great Martyr and All-Wise

Saint Katherine of Alexandria as a Model for our Lives

Fifty Philosophers and Rhetoricians Who Converted to Christianity

The Holy Empress together with the Holy Martyr Porphyrios and the Two Hundred Soldiers with Him

The Column On Which St. Katherine Was Beheaded in Alexandria

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Preconditions for Participation in the Divine Eucharist (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

(As excerpted and transcribed from the video lecture below.)

We live in a time when there has developed a whole theology around ecclesiology, and at the basis of ecclesiology is eucharistology. Great value and importance is placed today on the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. And no one is opposed to this. The Divine Eucharist is the center of ecclesiastical life. All the Mysteries of the Church lead to the Divine Eucharist. After Baptism and Chrismation we receive the Divine Eucharist. There is the view that Christ was incarnated in order to establish the Divine Eucharist, by which we are deified and sanctified. For one to be united with God, it is not through the intellect, morals or contemplation, but it is a reality that takes place in the Church, by partaking of the divinized Body and Blood of Christ.

Saint Nikodemos the New of Beroia, the Fool for Christ (+ 1309)

St. Nikodemos the New (Feast Day - November 24)

Saint Nikodemos was born to a wealthy family in Beroia in the second half of the 13th century, during the reign of Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (1282-1328). He was distinguished from his youth by his good and pious character, which led him to dedicate his life to God as a monastic in Beroia, and later became an anchorite. After wandering for many years he ended up in Thessaloniki and settled in Philokalos Monastery.

While in Thessaloniki, Nikodemos became very concerned with the situation of women who had gone astray and his daily task was to lead them towards recovery. To do this he defied aspersion and put his reputation and life at risk to be able to have discussions with them and return them to a moral life.

Monday, November 23, 2015

An Update on the Campaign to Publish Orthodox Texts


Dear Readers:

First of all, I would like to greatly thank all those who have contributed so far to the campaign I announced a few weeks back (see here) to help me publish various Orthodox texts I have been privately working on for the past few years. The positive response has been encouraging and amazing. I know my readers extend throughout the world, but I did not expect the contributions to come from such diverse places. Below is a list of all the places from where contributions both great and small have come in thus far over the past few weeks to support this project:

Australia
Bulgaria
Canada
Cyprus
Denmark
Latvia
Norway
South Africa
Sweden
United Kingdom
United States

Going in to this campaign, I expected at least 90% of those interested in this project to have come from the United States, but it is more like 40% at this point. This highlights the fact that the interest in providing Orthodox texts in the English language is of worldwide interest outside of traditional Orthodox countries. And this only reflects the contributors. Imagine the interest from those who have not contributed! This website alone reaches over 100,000 readers a month from all continents, countries, cities, islands and towns.

There were a few inquiries I received that I wanted to answer in regards to this project:

1. Can past contributors receive access to your "secret" website?

Though this project is different from what I asked support for in the past, if a contribution of $50 or more has been made in the past year and another contribution cannot be made at this time, I will allow access only upon request via email.

2. When will you provide access information to your new website?

I wanted to scope out the interest in this campaign for a few weeks before I moved forward. Now that the interest has been confirmed, I will set about on working to get everything going. Those who have contributed at least $50 once or $10 monthly will receive an email from me within a couple of weeks with more information.

3. How long is the campaign for this project going to last?

This specific campaign is from now on a part of this ministry, so it is indefinite. Those who make any future financial gifts to this ministry of at least $50 once or commit to $10 monthly will receive access to my new private website.

For those who have not yet contributed, and would like to be a part of this mission, please considering doing so below.

Click on the DONATE button to make a one-time donation (a Paypal account is not needed to make a one-time donation):



Click on the SUBSCRIBE button, after choosing an amount from the drop box, to make regular monthly donations:





To send in your donation, please do so to the following address:

John Sanidopoulos
PO Box 320284
West Roxbury, MA 02132


Thank you for your help!

John Sanidopoulos
Administrator

The Aim of Asceticism is the Divine Eucharist


By Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon

Perhaps there is no more revealing point in the life of a Christian as to what holiness is, than when the priest pronounces when raising the Honorable Body soon before the Divine Communion: "The holy for the holy," that is, the Body of Christ and His Blood are holy and are offered to the "holy", who are the members of the Church about to commune. The response of the people is the shocking pronouncement: "One is holy, one is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father." Only one person is holy, Christ - we are all sinners - and His holiness, which we sinners are all called to participate in, aims at nothing other than God's glory. At that point the Church experiences sanctity at its peak. By confessing "one is holy", all our virtues and all or worth are eliminated before the holiness of the only Holy One. This does not mean we can approach Divine Communion without preparation and the struggle for our worthiness to make the approach. It means that no matter what preparation we make, we were not holy before we communed. Holiness does not precede eucharistic communion, but it follows it. If we are holy prior to communing, then what of Divine Communion? Only by sharing in the holiness of God are we sanctified, and this is what Divine Communion offers us. From this observation derives a set of truths related to our subject.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Silence of the Panagia


A homily delivered at the celebration of the feast of the Sacred Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos in Levadia during a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, presided over by His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, on November 21, 2010.

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Every feast of the Mother of God is a cause of joy for the entire Church, and we celebrate it brilliantly, with hymns and doxologies, with a Divine Liturgy and litany, with words and silence, with pure thoughts and prayer of the heart. And this is because the Panagia is a gift of humanity to God as well as a gift of God to humanity and the entire world. She is "god after God, second place to the Holy Trinity," as we chant in a hymn.

This joy we feel on this day also with the feast of the Entrance of our Panagia into the Holy of Holies, a feast that shows the dedication of the Panagia to the Temple, her deification by grace and her essential preparation for the incarnation of the Son and Word of God. The Holy of Holies proved to be for the Theotokos a place of spiritual regeneration, a blessed and paradisaical place in which Adam and Eve lived after their creation. And the amazing thing is that Adam and Eve with their death-bearing disobedience to the will of God left this blessed place, while the Panagia with her life-bearing obedience, entered this paradisaical place, living in the Holy of Holies, like the first-formed prior to their disobedience.

Synaxarion for the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple


On the 21st of this month [November], the Entrance of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

Verses

Within the temple, Gabriel feeds you, O Daughter,
And shortly he shall come and shall say to you: Rejoice.
On the twenty-first Mary entered the sacred temenos.

The Entrance of the Lady Theotokos into the Temple of the Law, is the cause of a wonderful and universal feast for Orthodox Christians. Also because this took place in a paradoxical manner, and it is an introduction to the majestic and awesome mystery of the incarnation of God the Word, Who through the Theotokos was destined to be born into the world. The starting point for this feast of the Entrance took place as follows. Anna, who is known to all, because she was barren nearly all her life and unable to have a child, after supplications to the Master of creation with her husband Joachim, was granted a child. And having been granted what they longed for, immediately they dedicated the child born to them to God. Therefore in a paradoxical way was born the one who would produce the salvation of the race of men, the cause of the refashioning of fallen Adam, and of his resurrection and theosis. We call her the Most Holy and Lady Theotokos Mary.

Saint Sozomenos the Wonderworker of Potamia

St. Sozomenos of Potamia (Feast Day - November 21)

There are two hermit saints who lived in Cyprus with the name Sozomenos. One lived in the Karpas peninsula and is celebrated on November 20th, and the other lived in the village of Potamia in Nicosia and is celebrated on November 21st. There is no biography existing about Saint Sozomenos of Potamia because in his handwritten divine service there are four absent pages, where it seems that the synaxari of the Saint was also to be found. What is presented here is the minimal information that we get from the Cypriot chronicler Leontos Machairas, some information from the Saint's handwritten divine service, and from some of his miracles from murals that are painted in his hermitage in the village of Potamia.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Difference Between a Spiritual Father and an Elder


By Archimandrite Paul Papadopoulos

Many times while talking about Christ we lose Christ, while we talk about the Cross we avoid our own personal cross, refusing to lift it and walk behind Christ. While we go to a spiritual father to reconcile with God through the Mystery of Confession we rather connect with the person of our spiritual father and we put the person of Christ on the margins of this relationship. This is wrong.

The work of the spiritual father is to lead the penitent to Christ, to the restoration of their relationship and not to make them a follower of theirs, which is something that is unfortunately observed. And often the spiritual father doesn't do it deliberately, but it may happen unwittingly.

Saint Sozomonos the Wonderworker of Karpasia

St. Sozomenos of Karpasia (Feast Day - November 20)

Saint Sozomenos lived as hermit in a cave on Mount Kompsa in the Karpas peninsula. The biographer of the Saint, Monk Akakios, who wrote his divine service mentions the following in his synaxarion about the Saint:

"The hermitage where this Saint Sozomenos lived as a hermit, in a cave on a mountain near the villages of Tavrou, Galatia, Livadi and other villages, in a plateau, is called Kompsa, and over there, his holy church is built, and inside it is the cave where he lived as an ascetic life. Some of the remains of the Saint still survive, and they issue forth a very pleasant scent, and the Christians venerate them, all those who go there for their illnesses to be cured. This holy Saint works so many miracles, as much as to the faithful Christians as to the Agarene [Muslim] unbelievers, who go with their wives and quickly get well, if they have faith and a longing for God and for the Saint.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Elder Sophrony: "The World Does Not Need a Political Church"


By Elder Sophrony Sakharov

Every international or class war is associated with violence: "Strike the enemies." But Christ commands: "Love your enemies" (Matt. 5:44). The latter does not deteriorate at all the Gospel at the level of the fratricidal division of material goods. When bishops, theologians and faithful Christians in general enter the ranks of militants, they consider those who avoid participation in these kinds of activities as petty and cowardly. The more dangerous the clash with the oppressors, the more this humanitarian mission is considered as "martyrdom" for Christ.

What Is Religious Fanaticism?


By Fr. Dimitri Dudko

Religious fanaticism is a narrowness of vision, a blind confidence that you're right, an unwillingness to listen to someone else's opinion, impatience with others. If we don't fight religious fanaticism, it will grow into such a defect that it becomes a delusion, and this is a terrible thing. At the base of delusion lies inordinate pride, and (as we know), God opposes those who are proud (Jam. 4:6). Deliverance from delusion requires means which not all people possess. We must fight religious fanaticism, and our battle will be successful only when we depend not only on our own powers, but turn to humility and to the help of God. This will put us on guard against delusion.

The 17th Century Icon of the Theotokos "Consolation in Grief and Sorrows"

The Theotokos "Consolation in Grief and Sorrows" (Feast Day - November 19)

The Icon of the Mother of God known as the “Consolation in Grief and Sorrows” Icon is a hinged or triptych icon dating to the 17th Century. According to tradition the Icon belonged to the Holy Patriarch Athanasios of Constantinople.

Saint Athanasios spent his entire life doing battle in defense of Orthodoxy, against the Turks and the Jesuits. Out of obedience, several times he took on the cross of serving as Patriarch of Constantinople. After being elected on the feast of the Annunciation to the Theotokos in 1634, he occupied the patriarchal throne for only forty days, and in 1652, for one half of one month. After the third departure, Saint Athanasios retired, living and working for Christ’s sake in Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1653 he went to Russia, where he was received with pomp by Tsar Alexei Michailovitch.

Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (+ 1867)

St. Philaret of Moscow (Feast Day - November 19)

One of the most outstanding hierarchs of the Russian Church in any century, he was born Basil Drozdov, the son of a priest. Although small in stature he stood out among his fellow students at the St Sergius-Holy Trinity Seminary by reason of his lively intelligence and genuine piety. His early talent for preaching brought him to the attention of Metropolitan Platon of Moscow, who said of him, "I give sermons like a man, but he speaks like an angel."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Purification, Illumination and Glorification Are EVERYTHING in Orthodoxy (3 of 3)


...continued from part two.

By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

Definition of Glorification

Man was created to be in a state of illumination or glorification. Glorification is an empirical state. It has nothing to do with metaphysics. The glorification of man means union with God, or theosis. It is divine theoria, divine vision. Man becomes god by grace during the vision of God, if he reaches this point. The aim of Holy Scripture is to lead man to divine vision, to glorification, that he might see Christ in glory.

When man is glorified it means he sees the glory in which he stands. Only someone who is within the uncreated Light sees the uncreated Light. One must be in God to see God. Man sees God through God.

Holy New Martyr Anastasios of Paramythia in Epirus (+ 1750) and Saint Daniel the Former Muslim

St. Anastasios of Paramythia (Feast Day - November 18)

Anastasios and his sister Maria were Greek peasants living in Paramythia, Epirus under Ottoman rule, who were orphaned from a young age. One day two Albanian Muslim soldiers of the local judge Ahmed Pasha, one of which was his son named Musa, came through their village as they were out with others gathering crops. Musa was struck by the beauty of Maria and tried to seize her in his lust, but Anastasios and his friends threw himself at the Albanians and fought them off long enough for his sister to escape. In revenge for this, Anastasios and his friends were arrested and brought before the judge who, impressed by his courage, attempted to convert him to Islam by many means: threats, beatings, and offers of worldly honor; but Anastasios held firm in his Orthodox Christian faith and was cast into prison. Meanwhile his friends were beaten and made to pay a heavy fine and released.

Saint Plato of Ancyra as a Model for our Lives

St. Platon of Ancyra (Feast Day - November 18)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Plato was from Ancyra (Ankara) and lived in the late third century. He was born and raised in a wealthy family, but he was frugal, ascetic and merciful. Also he was zealous and inflamed in his earnest work to spread the gospel, at a time when the Church was being persecuted and believers arrested, cruelly tortured and killed. For his actions he was denounced by the prefect Agrippinos, who arrested him and tried to persuade him to renounce his faith, at first with flattery and deceit. He suggested he marry his niece provided, of course, that he renounce his faith and sacrifice to idols. Plato, unsurprisingly, rejected the proposal, boldly confessed his faith in Christ, and did not flinch before his horrible and inhumane torture. He gave a good confession and then sealed it with the blood of martyrdom. After being mercilessly flogged they burned his flesh with lit torches, but because he remained alive they decapitated him and thus he received the unfading crown of martyrdom.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Purification, Illumination and Glorification Are EVERYTHING in Orthodoxy (2 of 3)


...continued from part one.

By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

Definition of Illumination

What is illumination? Essentially, illumination is not illumination of the rational faculty. Of course there is illumination of the rational faculty: one prays, goes to church, fasts. One orientates the rational faculty towards doing the right thing: liberating slaves, helping the poor, going voluntarily to give blood, all those sorts of things.

To the Fathers, illumination is not the enlightenment of the rational faculty, but of the heart. There is the purification of the heart, then the illumination of the heart, which is not a rational enlightenment but a spiritual enlightenment - this is illumination. This is the cure. The illness is when the nous is darkened and the cure is when the nous is illumined.

Saint Lazarus the Painter: An Iconographer During the Iconoclast Period

St. Lazarus the Iconographer (Feast Day - November 17)

Verses

Lazarus does not paint you now O Word,
But sees you alive without capturing you in the colors of paints.

Saint Lazarus the Zographos (which is translated as "the Painter", but is often known as "the Iconographer") became a monk at a young age and learned the art of painting. And together with discipline and self-control, he was also renowned for his almsgiving, so that he was chosen to receive the grace of the Priesthood. Having become a Priest, he battled against all the heresies. He endured so many afflictions, not only by the Nestorians and Eutychites and Dioscorites, but also by the Iconoclasts, that words cannot describe.

The Sayings of Abba Longinus

Venerable Longinus, Abbot of Enaton Monastery (Feast Day - November 17)

Verses

You have as a great athlete Longinus O Christ,
You also have Longinus as a great ascetic.

1. Abba Longinus said to Abba Acacias: “A woman knows she has conceived when she no longer loses any blood. So it is with the soul, she knows she has conceived the Holy Spirit when the passions stop coming out of her. But as long as one is held back in the passions, how can one dare to believe one is sinless? Give blood and receive the Spirit!”

2. "Fasting humbles the body, vigil purifies the nous and stillness leads to the affliction that baptizes man anew and cleanses him of all sin."

3. "A dead man judges no one, and it is just the same with the man who is humble."

4. Abba Longinus was ill once, and he said to himself, "Be ill then and die, but if you ask me for something to eat other than at mealtime, I will not even provide you with the daily ration."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Purification, Illumination and Glorification Are EVERYTHING in Orthodoxy (1 of 3)


By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

The basis of Orthodoxy is the same as the methodology used in the positive sciences, and this fact needs to be properly evaluated and accurately identified. It should become a focus of interest for Orthodox Christians, as it deserves to be.

Why do we have our liturgical tradition? The liturgical tradition is an expression of none other than the tradition of purification, illumination and glorification. Take all the services: Vespers, Matins, the Divine Liturgy, the services of Baptism and Chrismation, the service for blessing of the Chrism performed by the bishops on Holy Thursday, monastic profession, marriage - all are about purification, illumination and glorification.

Holy Apostle Matthew the Evangelist

St. Matthew the Apostle (Feast Day - November 16)

Verses

"You save, Jesus, even tax-collectors by Your grace,"
Cried out Matthew from the midst of the flames.
Without sense of toil Matthew was killed in the fire on the sixteenth.

The holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, the son of Alphaeus, otherwise known as Levi, lived in the Galilean city of Capernaum. He was a wealthy man who held the position of tax-collector, and was despised and shunned by the majority of the Jews. One day, as the Lord Jesus was passing through the city and Matthew was sitting in his customs booth, He said to him: "Come, follow Me!" Matthew not only physically heard these words, but they spoke to his heart as well, so the publican left his booth and followed after Christ, and forsaking all he was numbered among the Twelve Disciples. The Scribes and Pharisees were scandalized that Jesus did not shun sinners and publicans, but rather sat and ate with them, and when the Lord heard them murmuring such things, He said to them: "It is not the healthy that have need of a physician, but the sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

All Christians Are Called To Pray Without Ceasing


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart" (Luke 18:1).

Does the Lord's command about ceaseless prayer that men ought always to pray (Luke 18:1), apply only to monks or to all Christians in general?

If it applied only to monks, the Apostle Paul would not have written to the Christians in Thessalonica to "pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17). The Apostle repeats the Lord's command, word for word, and issues it to all Christians without distinction, whether monks or laymen.

St. Gregory Palamas lived a life of asceticism for some time as a young hieromonk in a monastery in Beroea. The elder Job, a well-known ascetic whom everyone respected, lived in that monastery. It happened that, in Elder Job's presence, St. Gregory quoted the Apostle's words, asserting that ceaseless prayer is the obligation of every Christian and not just for monks. However, Elder Job replied that ceaseless prayer is the obligation of the monk only, and not for every Christian. Gregory, as the younger of the two, yielded and withdrew in silence. When Job returned to his cell and stood at prayer, an angel in great heavenly glory appeared to him and said: "O Elder, do not doubt the truthfulness of Gregory's words; he spoke correctly and you should think likewise and pass it on to others." Thus, both the Apostle and the angel confirmed the commandment that all Christians must pray to God without ceasing.

Not only without ceasing in church, but also without ceasing in every place and at all times, and especially in your heart. For if God does not for a moment tire of giving us good things, how can we tire of thanking Him for these good things? When He thinks of us without ceasing, why do we not think of Him without ceasing?


"… that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye [may be] rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17).

With faith, Christ comes into the heart, and with Christ comes love. Thus man is rooted and grounded in love. First then, there is faith; then with faith comes Christ's presence in the heart; then with Christ's presence, the presence of love; and with love, all ineffable goodness.

In a few words, the Apostle delineates the whole ladder of perfection. The beginning is faith and the end is love; and faith and love are joined in a living, undivided unity by the Living Lord Jesus Christ's presence in the heart. By strengthening faith, we further abolish the distance between ourselves and the Lord Jesus Christ. The stronger one's faith, the closer one is to Christ.

Ultimately, one's heart is filled with Christ and cannot be separated from Christ, just as one's lung cannot be separated from the air. Then a man may, with tears of joy, communicate with Christ by the prayer of the heart - "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner" - and the heart is imperceptibly filled with light and ardent love.

In this way, love is united with faith and hope; and when they are united, the boundaries between them are lost, so that man cannot even think of determining of how far faith goes, and where hope and love begin.

When the living Christ dwells in a man, then he no longer perceives faith, hope or love in himself, nor does he name them. Instead, he sees only Christ and names only Him. This is just like a fruit-grower in autumn who considers the ripe fruit on the tree, and speaks no more of blossoms and leaves but of fruit, ripe fruit.

O Lord Jesus Christ, supreme height of all our endeavors and the destination of all our travels, draw near to us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Integrating the Sacred Forty Liturgies in the Nativity Fast


By Fr. Demetrios Bokou

A rock fell and crushed many workers in a quarry. The wife of one of them, Mrs. Argyros, considering her husband now dead, gave to a priest whatever she had, to have forty liturgies done for the repose of his soul. For this purpose, she gave him daily a prosphoron, a bottle of nama wine and a candle.

When the priest arrived at twenty liturgies, the devil envied the devotion of the woman. He appeared to her and said that the priest left for some urgent work, so it made no sense to bring him a prosphoron. She would rather bring it the next day. This took place three times throughout the duration of the forty liturgies.

Saint Paisius Velichkovsky: A Great Hesychast Father


Presented here is a lecture in eight parts on the great neptic and hesychast Saint Paisius Velichkovsky (1722-1794), by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.





Saturday, November 14, 2015

Holy Apostle Philip, One of the Twelve

St. Philip the Apostle (Feast Day - November 14)

Verses

Your feet were fastened on the cross O Philip,
Those feet that were washed by the Savior are avenged.
Philip on the fourteenth was lifted upside down.

Saint Philip was from Bethsaida of Galilee, where Peter and Andrew were from as well. Our Lord summoned Philip to follow Him and be one of His chosen twelve disciples, and believing with all his heart that our Lord Jesus was the Messiah, he followed Him through the course of His earthly ministry. Wanting his friend Nathaniel to also follow the promised Messiah, he announced to him: "We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!" Nathaniel doubted and responded: "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip did not respond, but merely invited him to "Come and see." And indeed upon Nathaniel meeting the Lord Jesus, he was convinced that he was the Messiah and followed the Lord as well (Jn. 1:44-49).

Saint Euphemianos the Wonderworker and his Church in Lysi of Cyprus

St. Euphemianos of Lysi (Feast Day - November 14)

According to the Cypriot chronicler Leontios Machairas, Saint Euphemianos lived as an ascetic near the village of Lefkoniko in the plain of Masaoria, and was one of three hundred Palestinian refugees who fled to Cyprus during the Arab persecutions against the Christians in the mid-12th century. These three hundred men were ordinary Orthodox Christian Greco-Roman men who were to fight in the Second Crusade that took place between 1147-1149, but when they arrived in Palestine the battle was over, so they went to Jerusalem and venerated the Holy Places. Then they decided to live the ascetic life in the wilderness of Jordan, but the Arab raids forced them to flee to Cyprus for refuge, where each individual went his own way to live by themselves in a remote location as ascetics. Perhaps during that time the village of Lysi and the other villages in the area were not yet founded, and this is why Machairas placed him in Lefkoniko. Lefkoniko is not very far from Lysi and maybe at that time the vicinity of the village reached as far as the area where Saint Euphemianos exercised a life of asceticism. Anyways, one way or another, after the Saint disembarked in Cyprus, he walked through many places, hills, mountains, valleys, ravines, and came to the place where the chapel dedicated to his name is now found. There, he lived as an ascetic in a cave, in a hole in the earth, and drank water from the river that was near. And after the Saint lived a life of prayer, fasting and vigils, divine grace overshadowed him, and he was given the gift to work many miracles that benefited Christians. His fame spread and many came to hear his words, receive his blessing and be comforted and strengthened in their own Christian journey. He died in old age, beloved by the people, and was buried where he lived. Later, around 1300, the faithful erected a picturesque Byzantine church in honor of the Saint, and decorated it with beautiful frescoes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Criterion for Whether or Not the Church is in a Good State


By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

Let us imagine that the Church ever since its foundation has been a clinic, a hospital, which people enter to be treated, and this treatment was purification of the nous, then illumination of the nous, then the glorification of man, so that he may reach a natural condition. Man's natural condition is to love without self-interest, to have the love that "does not seek its own" (1 Cor. 13:5).

The Church has diagnosis and treatment. You have to do this, that and the other to be cured. Why is treatment needed? Because you will see the glory of God, and if you have not undergone a change in your personality, so that selfish love is changed into unselfish love, if your heart is hardened, instead of seeing God as glory you will see Him as a consuming fire, outer darkness and so on.

We shall all see God, but one will see Him in one way and the other in another way. If you are not cured, you will see Him in this way, and the Day of Judgment dawns. What is repentance? Repentance (Gr. metanoia) means "changing the nous." The nous must change, must be cleansed.

On the Worthy and Unworthy Participation of the Divine Eucharist (St. John Chrysostom)


By St. John Chrysostom

How many now say, I would wish to see His form, the mark, His clothes, His shoes. Lo! You see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. And you indeed desire to see His clothes, but He gives Himself to you not to see only, but also to touch and eat and receive within you.

Let then no one approach It with indifference, no one faint-hearted, but all with burning hearts, all fervent, all desiring. For if Jews standing, and having on their shoes and their staves in their hands, ate with haste, much more ought you to be watchful. For they indeed were to go forth to Palestine, wherefore also they had the garb of pilgrims, but you are about to be brought unto Heaven.

Wherefore it is needful in all respects to be vigilant, for indeed no small punishment is appointed to them that partake unworthily.

Saint John Chrysostom Resource Page


Verses

The golden John having shut his mouth,
Has left to us another mouth: his books.
On the thirteenth the lips that were golden fell silent.

About

Synaxarion of Saint John Chrysostom

Saint John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (Nov. 13)

Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (Sergei V. Bulgakov)

Saint John Chrysostom as a Model for our Lives

The Golden Mouth of Saint John Chrysostom

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Who Can Receive Holy Communion Every Sunday?


By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

According to the Fathers, the one who takes Holy Communion is in the state of illumination. When it was ascertained that he was not in the state of illumination, he did not take Holy Communion. This was the criterion. In the phrase "those who communicate worthily," they did not mean by "worthily" those who avoided sin and were morally correct, but those who were in the state of illumination and so took Holy Communion. Of course this had moral foundations, but it was not identified with morals.

The Body of Christ comes into being through the descent of the Holy Spirit. The experience of theoria is also an experience of the human nature of Christ within man. For that reason the Fathers emphasize that anyone who does not sense Christ within him, does not have Christ within him. It is not a matter merely of saying that we are the Body of Christ. Someone who senses that he lacks this awareness, does not have it. The one who senses that he has this awareness within him, has the proof within him.

Holy New Martyr Savvas Samoladas of Nigdi (+ 1726)

St. Savvas the New Martyr from Nigdi (Feast Day - November 12)

Verses

You head was cut off Savvas the boast of Martyrs,
And you were joined with Christ the head of all.

Savvas Samoladas was from the village of Nigdi in Asia Minor. He was an Orthodox Christian who became wealthy as a merchant. His wealth, however, provoked the envy of some Muslims who wished to take it away from him and share it among themselves. They conspired, therefore, to apply pressure on Savvas to convert to Islam and abandon Orthodoxy, perhaps hoping that he would refuse and then his property could be legally confiscated.

Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria

St. John the Almsgiver (Feast Day - November 12)

Verses

John distributed and gave to the hungry,
Which was received by Christ who stood beside them!
The Merciful departed on the twelfth without anything.

John was born in Amathus of Cyprus c. 550 to the patrician Epiphanios, a governor of the island. He married and had children, but was a widower when he was called to become Patriarch of Alexandria on the recommendation of his friend, the city's imperial prefect Niketas. The Chalcedonian see of Alexandria had been vacant since the death in 609 of Theodore during the capture of the city by Niketas. In 611 John assumed the throne, becoming the fifth Chalcedonian bishop of Alexandria to bear that name.

Holy Prophet Ahijah the Shilonite

Holy Prophet Achia (Feast Day - November 12)

Verses

Jeroboam bore testimony, the son of Nebat,
Of the Prophet Ahijah, before he died.

Ahijah (Achia) the Shilonite was a Levite prophet from Shiloh in the days of Solomon and Jeroboam, as mentioned in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. Ahijah encouraged a revolt against Solomon "because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel" and foretold to Jeroboam that he would become king (I Kings 11:29).

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