Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Spiritual Counsels of Elder Daniel to Saint Arsenios of Paros

St. Arsenios of Paros (Feast Day - January 31 and August 18)

As a youth, St. Arsenios of Paros (1800-1877), who was known as Athanasios in the world, was introduced to his spiritual father, the renowned Elder Daniel of Zagora in Thessaly, while he was a student in Kydoniai of Asia Minor, when he had come to confess the students there. After their meeting, Athanasios never left the side of his spiritual father till he reposed.

When Elder Daniel took his fourteen year old disciple Athanasios to Mount Athos, he taught him the lessons, canons, laws and ways of true wisdom of the monastic and angelic mode of life, of true philosophy. According to Elder Philotheos Zervakos, the biographer of St. Arsenios, "Elder Daniel was a perfect teacher, in deed as well as in word. And his pupil, Athanasios, was extremely attentive and diligent in his efforts to master the queen of the arts and sciences, the true wisdom, the monastic way of life."

Before Elder Daniel clothed Athanasios in the great and angelic habit as a monk and renamed him Arsenios, he counseled him with the following words of authentic theology and spirituality:

Saint Tryphena the Martyr

St. Tryphena the Martyr (Feast Day - January 31)

Saint Tryphena, whose name means "delicate", came from Cyzicus on the Hellespont. The daughter of Anastasios, a Roman senator, she was brought up in the Christian faith by her mother. At a time of persecution, she courted martyrdom by ridiculing the sacrifices, which the pagans were offering to their idols, and by exhorting them to convert.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Three Hierarchs Resource Page


The three greatest beacons of the Three-sunned Godhead,
who illumined the whole inhabited world with the beams of their divine doctrines.



A Miracle on the Day of the Three Hierarchs in Communist Romania

Fr. Ilie Lacatusu

By Elder Justin Parvu († 2013)

We stayed with Fr. Ilie Lacatusu († 1983) four years in Periprava at the Danube Delta.

He was generally distinguished for his internal strength and silence. Rarely did you hear him speak, and when you did he had something important to say.

Frequently he exhorted us to pray when we were in a dangerous situation. This man I must say was truly humble. He never wanted to come to the surface, but always tried to remain unnoticed.

I remember a miraculous event that took place at the Danube Delta, in which Fr. Ilie played a significant role.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Earliest Known Image of the Three Hierarchs


The Theodore Psalter (London, British Library, Add. MS 19352) is a profusely illustrated Book of Psalms from 1066 and is possibly the most significant surviving manuscript illuminated in Constantinople. It was made at a time when the anti-image movement of the iconoclasts had relatively recently been beaten down, and representational art could again flourish. The name comes from the monk who illustrated the manuscript.

What a Muslim Saw that a Faithful Christian Did Not


The following translation is taken from Daniel J. Sahas, "What an Infidel Saw that a Faithful Did Not: Gregory Dekapolites (d. 842) and Islam", Greek Orthodox Theological Review 31 (1986), 47-67. It is based on the text at PG 100, cols. 1201-12. and is listed as a miracle of Saint George. It purports to describe how a "Saracen", i.e. a Muslim, noble was converted to Christianity following a vision he experienced in a church dedicated to St. George. Besides being a ninth century text of a Muslim convert to Christianity who became a martyr, whom some wrongly confuse with St. Anthony Ruwah, it is also perhaps the earliest reference to the Three Hierarchs (Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian) together.

A HISTORICAL SPEECH OF GREGORY DEKAPOLITES, VERY PROFITABLE AND MOST PLEASING IN MANY WAYS, ABOUT A VISION WHICH A SARACEN ONCE HAD, AND WHO, AS A RESULT OF THIS, BELIEVED AND BECAME A MARTYR FOR OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

Holy Martyrs Sarbelos and Bebaia of Edessa

Sts. Sarbelos and Bebaia (Feast Days - September 4th, October 15th and January 29th)

Verses for September 4th

Bebaia slain and Thathuel as well,
Both found a sure life rather than a false.

Verses for January 29th

Forsaking Sarbelos the abominable sacrifices,
With your sister you were brought as a sacrifice for Christ.

Verses to St. Barsimaios

Bound to the earth with burdensome flesh Barsimaios,
You were carried away where the burden is light.

Sarbelos was a pagan priest in the city of Edessa at the time of the Emperor Trajan (98 - 117). One day, as he was about to preside at a great idolatrous festivity wearing all his insignia of gold and precious stones, he was approached, not for the first time, by Saint Barsimaios, the holy bishop of the city whose ardent zeal for Christ led to the conversion of many of his fellow citizens, who once again warned him of the heavy account which he would have to render to God for having thus led so many souls to perdition. Sarbelos went through with the celebration but, touched by the grace of Christ, he sought out the bishop the next day and throwing himself at his feet, asked to receive Baptism with his sister Bebaia. At Baptism Sarbelos received the name Thathuel.*

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Report on Orthodox Monastic Communities in the United States


The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America has released a new research report: Orthodox Monastic Communities in the United States.

There are more than 70 Orthodox monastic communities in the United States today. There exists significant diversity among these communities, including in their size, liturgical practices, openness to outside visitors, and educational programs. The Assembly’s Committee for Monastic Communities is tasked with studying and comparing the different monastic communities and practices in the United States. Accordingly, this study was designed as a first step toward that goal.

Saint James the Ascetic, Who Was a Rapist and Murderer

St. James the Ascetic (Feast Day - January 28)

God sees His creatures, such as man, not from what can be observed, but from the heart. And by His choices, He gives a loud slap to our respectability and pietism. If such a man as Saint James lived today, journalists would completely destroy him. Yet this man was recognized by God, and God revealed him to be one of our saints.

When Panagiotis Nellas Was a Novice Under Saint Paisios


The following account was given by Loukas Eznepidis, the brother of Saint Paisios the Athonite, from when Saint Paisios was living as a monk at Stomiou Monastery in his native Konitsa.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Venerable Abba Peter the Egyptian

Venerable Peter the Egyptian (Feast Day - January 27)

Abba Peter was the disciple of Abba Lot, and lived for many years in the desert of the Cells. He reposed in peace in deep old age.

Below are some of the recorded Sayings of Abba Peter:

1. In the Cells they said of Abba Peter the Pionite that he did not drink wine. When he grew old, the brothers prepared a little wine diluted with water for him, and asked him to accept it. But he said, 'To me that is just as bad as spiced wine.' He was passing judgement on himself in his comment about this liquid.


Monday, January 26, 2015

The Spiritual Person is not Moral, but Loving


By Archimandrite Paul Papadopoulos

Many times we hear priests talking about spiritual advancement, saying: "Let us try to become spiritual people." But what does spiritual advancement mean? Have we misinterpreted it in our minds?

When the Church Fathers speak of spirituality they are not talking about morality. The Church, my brethren, offers us spiritual, not moral perfection. Certainly the spiritual person is moral, but moral does not mean spiritual. We can achieve moral goodness by ourselves, but it is not the goal, and it should not be an end in itself, nor is morality sufficient to attract the grace of God. For example, no matter how pure you are, or chaste, or blameless your life is, even if you live a life of virginity, and no matter how just, and if everyone considers you a very moral person, yet if you do not have humility you have achieved nothing, for God "gives grace to the humble".

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Holy New Martyr Auxentios of Bellas (+ 1720)

St. Auxentios of Bellas (Feast Day - January 25)

Saint Auxentios was born into a devout and poor family from Bellas in Epirus. As a young man, he traveled to Constantinople and entered the fur business, but grew dissatisfied with his prospects. Beguiled by the devil to hold more esteem for the pleasures and vain pursuits of the world rather than the things of God, he began to keep bad company and enlisted in the Ottoman navy. However, when his shipmates began, untruly, to claim that he had denied Christianity in order to become a Muslim, he regretted keeping company with such young men of ill will, and with the spark of Christ that always remained in his heart, he fled and returned to Constantinople, where he earned his living for a time as an oarsman, carrying people on a small vessel from one part of Constantinople to another. Then, seized with remorse for his past mistakes, his heart burned with the desire for martyrdom. This inspired him to pray for a spiritual father to guide him.

Saint Kastinos, Bishop of Byzantium

St. Kastinos of Byzantium (Feast Day - January 25)

By John Sanidopoulos

Saint Kastinos* was from Rome, and originally a pagan. He held the office of senator and was very rich. For many years Kastinos struggled with demonic oppression. This was allowed by God to cure him of idolatry. He tried to free himself by every human means, but he always came up empty and was on the verge of despair.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saint Xenia of Rome and her Two Maidservants

St. Xenia and her Two Maidservants (Feast Day - June 24)

Saint Xenia, the daughter of a Christian noble family of Rome, was born in the course of the fifth century and named Eusevia in holy Baptism. Although she had grown up with the desire of consecrating her virginity to the Lord Jesus Christ, her parents made preparations regardless for the marriage which they had arranged for her. So it was that, on her wedding night, she fled with two of her maidservants and embarked on a ship bound for Alexandria.

The "Greatest Church in the World" at Archeopark Island Museum in Erdek


Zeytinliada, an island in the Marmara Sea just southwest of Erdek, has remains of a Byzantine monastery of the 13th to 14th century and a church of the Virgin Mary, known in ancient sources as “the greatest church in the world”, that dates to the early Byzantine period. Nurettin Öztürk of Atatürk University, Erzurum, began excavations at the site in 2006.

Venerable Abba Zosimas


Abba Zosimas (24 January) lived during the final years of the fifth century and well into the sixth. His birthplace was the village of Sidon, close to Tyre of Phoenecia. Abba Zosimas began his ascetic life in a monastery of Tyre, and later moved to the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos beside the Jordan River. In his last years, he founded a monastery close to Caesarea of Palestine. The desert elder’s virtue reached such heights that he was indeed granted the grace of foreknowledge and prophecy. He predicted the earthquake which destroyed the city of Antioch on 29 November 528 although he was more than 400 miles away at the time. Beyond these sparse details little is known of Abba Zosimas’ life.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why St. Paisios the Athonite Was Not a Nationalist, a Homophobe or a Misogynist


By Kostas Nousis, 
Theologian-Philologist

A strong majority - if we speak with such terms of political relevance - of today's Neo-Greeks were made worthy to not only learn about, but to also know closely the newly-canonized Saint of our Church, Paisios the Athonite (+ 1994). Among them boasts the least of these, the author of this piece who was given the honor reserved by divine providence to often meet and talk with this huge and iconic figure of Orthodoxy in these latter days in which we live.

Saints Clement of Ancyra and His Disciple Agathangelos as Models for our Lives

Sts. Clement and Agathangelos (Feast Day - June 23)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Clement lived the era of persecution, specifically during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. His father was a pagan and his mother a Christian. Orphaned of his father at an early age, his upbringing was assumed entirely by his most pious mother. Therefore the Saint was brought up inside the temperate climate of piety and love for the true God, and from his youth his life flowed with prayer and philanthropy. He was a help and support for the poor and afflicted. When the fullness of time had come, Christ, through the Church, entrusted him with the blessed work of the pastoral care of His reasonable sheep. He was made Bishop of the Church of Ancyra and proved to be a good pastor. Later he was tested in the furnace of temptation and martyrdom "as gold in a furnace". He underwent horrific torture, which he endured with admirable patience and bravery, and finally sealed his confession of Christ with the blood of his martyrdom.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Priest Who Hung His Cassock on the Ray of the Sun


A Beneficial Tale of St. Paisios the Athonite

The humble man, even if he does miracles, still does not believe his thoughts.

In Jordan there was a very simple priest who worked miracles. He would read prayers over people and animals that had a certain illness and they became well.

The Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Canonization of Elder Paisios


NEWS 247 contacted Archimandrite Bartholomew Samaras in the Phanar, who is Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod and a member of the Canonical Commission, to address the issue of the canonization of Elder Paisios. Having knowledge of the Typikon, Father Bartholomew explained the process by which the Church decides to proclaim a monk, priest or a martyr a saint.

A Church Dedicated to St. Arsenios of Cappadocia and St. Paisios the Athonite in Cyprus


Following the Canonization of Elder Paisios the Athonite by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church of Saint Arsenios of Cappadocia and Saint Paisios the Athonite, located in an area of Ekali in Limassol, will be dedicated on Friday 23 January 2015. This will be done by Metropolitan Athansios of Limassol, among other hierarchs and clergy. Originally the church was solely dedicated to St. Arsenios, but with the canonization of Elder Paisios, he was included.

It is situated on the north side of the Nicosia-Limassol motorway, near Tsirion Stadium. The Church is of Βyzantine style with two domes and four chapels. Temporarily, the Liturgy takes place at the semi-underground site of the Church, where are two chapels. One of them is dedicated to Panagia Mahairiotissa, and includes an authentic copy of the miraculous icon of Panagia Mahairiotissa, exhibited for veneration. The second chapel is dedicated to St. David of Evia. The Third chapel is dedicated to Sts. Varachisios and Jonah, in commemoration of the church in which St. Arsenios celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Farasa of Cappadocia.


Every Monday afternoon at 6.30 p.m. there is a Holy Supplication Service, dedicated either to St Arsenios of Cappadocia, where the precious relics of the Saint are exhibited for veneration, or to Panagia Mahairiotissa, or to Panagia Elaiovrytissa (done before the icon of Panagia Elaiovrytissa, transferred from Vatopaidi Monastery of Mount Athos), or to St. David, or to St Mamas the Great Martyr. During the Supplication to St. Mamas, there is a part of the precious relics of the Saint exhibited for veneration, donated to the Church from the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra of Mount Athos. The Small Compline Service takes place every day, with the exception of August, at 6.30 p.m.

At the same place, you can find an ecclesiastical bookshop, an entertainment room for youth, a library and guest quarters. Covering an area of 1500 square metres in total, this is the largest church that has been built in the city of Limassol.

See more about this church here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How Saint Mark of Ephesus Behaved in the Dialogue With the Latins


By John Kardasis

The Synod of Ferrara-Florence took place 385 years after the Schism between Rome and Constantinople, and the heretical positions of the Latins was well known to Saint Mark. Nonetheless the Saint made a great effort to persuade the Latins, sometimes by overstepping the sacred Canons, which exclude any contact with heretics. He did this with the hope of their return (not for union). Thus:

Saint Euthymios the Great as a Model for our Lives

St. Euthymios the Great (Feast Day - January 20)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Euthymios the Great was the fruit of the prayers of his pious parents Paul and Dionysia. He was born in Melitene, Armenia in 377 A.D. and received the name Euthymios, because his birth caused cheer and joy to his parents [euthymia, or εὐθυμία, in Greek means "cheer"], but also because the angel of the Lord who announced the birth to his parents told them "be cheerful, be cheerful". That is, be happy, because God has heard your prayer and you will become parents. And Saint Euthymios, like another Samuel, was dedicated to God from the womb of his mother.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Saint Mark of Ephesus on the Latin Church


By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Saint Mark the Eugenikos, Metropolitan of Ephesus, was a fearless confessor of the faith at the Synod of Ferrara-Florence, since he did not succumb to papal pressure and blackmail and remained until the end a confessor of the faith. Not only did he demonstrate the fallacies of the Latins at this Synod, but he simultaneously proved that the Latins made fraudulent interpolations into the texts of the Church Fathers.

Release of Archbishop Jovan from Prison Put on Hold


On January 9th it was announced that Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid, who has been unjustly held in prison for three years in Skopje, was to be released on January 19th by court order (see here). Today it was announced by the Archdiocese of Ochrid that the release will not take place today and that it is on hold. Below are the details in the official announcement:

January 19, 2015

Announcement

The Council of the Court of First Instance Skopje I, on January 9, 2015, made the decision that Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje should be released from prison.

"Pseudo-Macarius" and the "Messalian Origin" of the Spiritual Homilies


In re­cent centuries heterodox scholars in the West (and those Orthodox scholars who have fallen under their influence) have shifted the center of interest in Patristic studies to an entirely secondary question, that of comparison of texts, establishment of authorship and "influences", and the like. In itself there is nothing reprehensible in such a study; as long as the meaning of the text itself remains primary, and the individual scholar knows enough to trust the judgment of Orthodox tradition over his own personal opinions and whims, and to place any "new discoveries" he may make into the context of that tradition. Alas, in our own times there are very few Patristic scholars of the maturity of Professor Kontzevitch, who, while being familiar with the science of textual criticism, knew how to subordinate it to the higher science of the meaning of Patristic texts.

The Dialogue Between Basil the Great and the Arian Prefect Modestus


Basil the Great became Bishop of Caesarea on June 14, 370 and, along with Gregory the Theologian, combated the Arian heresy that threatened to divide the Christians of Cappadocia. Yet his zeal for orthodoxy did not blind him to what was good in an opponent; and for the sake of peace and charity he was content to waive the use of orthodox terminology when it could be surrendered without a sacrifice of truth. The Emperor Valens, who was an adherent of the Arian philosophy, sent his prefect Modestus, a persecutor of the Orthodox Christians, to meet with Basil in 371 to at least agree to a compromise with the Arian faction.

Gregory the Theologian, in his Funeral Oration for Basil the Great, records the dialogue between Basil the Great and the Arian Modestus as follows:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Venerable Ascetic Elias Panagoulakis of Kalamata


By Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

He was born in Kalamata on July 14, 1873. He never learned letters. He could just barely read and write. Until he was 30 years old he was a band instrument player, and maintained a small tavern next to the Church of Saint Nicholas. All the town rascals gathered there; he was their leader and he was an imposing figure over them all. He was easily able to threaten and beat up someone for the slightest reason.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Perfect Love According to St. Maximus the Confessor


Selections from the Centuries on Love by St. Maximus the Confessor:

- Love is a holy state of soul, disposing it to value knowledge of God above all created things.

- Love of God loves always to give wings to the mind to speak of God and Divine things; and love of neighbor disposes it always to think well of him.

How a Sinner Came to Know Elder Paisios in Mount Athos


By Lambis Tagmatarchis

If someone wanted to somewhat characterize me, they could say anything ... except that I am a very religious man.

I am as much of the church as - I guess - you are. The church sees me on Pascha a little before the "Christ is Risen", and I went to a few weddings in the past, but now more often I go to funerals.

That's it.

The 38 Beneficial Sayings of Saint Anthony the Great


1. When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by accidie, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, "Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?" A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down again and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the angel saying to him, "Do this and you will be saved." At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

2. When the same Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, "Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need? He heard a voice answering him, "Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them."

3. Someone asked Abba Anthony, "What must one do in order to please God?" The old man replied, "Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved."

4. Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, "This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.

5. He also said, "Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." He even added, "Without temptations no one can be saved."

6. Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, "What ought I to do?" and the old man said to him, "Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach."

7. Abba Anthony said, "I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, 'What can get through from such snares?' Then I heard a voice saying to me, 'Humility.'"

8. He also said, "Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God."

9. He said also, "Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ."

10. He also said, "Just as fish die if they stay too long out of water, so the monks who loiter outside their cells or pass their time with men of the world lose the intensity of inner peace. So like a fish going towards the sea, we must hurry to reach our cell, for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness."

11. He said also, "He who wishes to live in solitude in the desert is delivered from three conflicts: hearing, speech, and sight; there is only one conflict for him and that is with fornication."

12. Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons. They had a donkey which died on the way. When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, "How was it that the little donkey died on the way here?" They said, "How do you know about that, Father?" And he told them, "The demons showed me what happened." So they said, "That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true." Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.

13. A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, "Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it." So he did. The old man then said, "Shoot another," and he did so. Then the old man said, "Shoot yet again," and the hunter replied: "If I bend my bow so much I will break it." Then the old man said to him, "It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs." When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

14. Abba Anthony heard of a very young monk who had performed a miracle on the road. Seeing the old man walking with difficulty along the road, he ordered the wild asses to come and carry them until they reached Abba Anthony. He said to them, "This monk seems to me to be a ship loaded with goods, but I do not know if he will reach harbor." After a while, Anthony suddenly began to weep, to tear his hair and lament. His disciples said to him, "Why are you weeping, Father?" and the old man replied, "A great pillar of the Church has just fallen (he meant the young monk), but go to him and see what has happened." So the disciples went and found the monk sitting on a mat and weeping for the sin he had committed. Seeing the disciples of the old man he said, "Tell the old man to pray that God will give me just ten days and I hope I will have made satisfaction." But in the space of five days he died.

15. The brothers praised a monk before Abba Anthony. When the monk came to see him, Anthony wanted to know how he would bear insults; and seeing that he could not bear them at all, he said to him, "You are like a village magnificently decorated on the outside, but destroyed from within by robbers."

16. A brother said to Abba Anthony, "Pray for me." The old man said to him, " I will have no mercy upon you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make an effort and if you do not pray to God.

17. One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph. Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each one the old man said, "You have not understood it." Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, "How would you explain this saying?" and he replied, "I do not know." Then Abba Anthony said, "Indeed, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he has said: 'I do not know.'"

18. Some brothers were coming from Scetis to see Abba Anthony. When they were getting into a boat to go there, they found an old man who also wanted to go there. The brothers did not know him. They sat in the boat, occupied by turns with the words of the Fathers, Scripture and their manual work. As for the old man, he remained silent. When they arrived on shore they found that the old man was going to the cell of Abba Anthony too. When they reached the place, Anthony said to them, "You found this old man a good companion for the journey?" Then he said to the old man, "You have brought many good brethren with you, father." The old man said, "No doubt they are good, but they do not have a door to their house and anyone who wishes can enter the stable and loose the ass." He meant that the brethren said whatever came into their mouths.

19. The brethren came to the Abba Anthony and said to him, "Speak a word; how are we to be saved?" The old man said to them, "You have heard the Scriptures. That should teach you how." But they said, "We want to hear from you too, Father." Then the old man said to them, "The Gospel says, 'If anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.'" (Matt. 5.39) They said, "We cannot do that." The old man said, "If you cannot offer the other cheek, at least allow one cheek to be struck." "We cannot do that either," they said. So he said, "If you are not able to do that, do not return evil for evil," and they said, "We cannot do that either." Then the old man said to his disciples, "Prepare a little brew of corn for these invalids. If you cannot do this, or that, what can I do for you? What you need is prayers."

20. A brother renounced the world and gave his goods to the poor, but he kept back a little for his personal expenses. He went to see Abba Anthony. When he told him this, the old man said to him, "If you want to be a monk, go into the village, buy some meat, cover your naked body with it and come here like that." The brother did so, and the dogs and birds tore at his flesh. When he came back the old man asked him whether he had followed his advice. He showed him his wounded body, and Saint Anthony said, "Those who renounce the world but want to keep something for themselves are torn in this way by the demons who make war on them."

21. It happened one day that one of the brethren in the monastery of Abba Elias was tempted. Cast out of the monastery, he went over the mountain to Abba Anthony. The brother lived near him for a while and then Anthony sent him back to the monastery from which he had been expelled. When the brothers saw him they cast him out yet again, and he went back to Abba Anthony saying, "My Father, they will not receive me." Then the old man sent them a message saying, "A boat was shipwrecked at sea and lost its cargo; with great difficulty it reached the shore; but you want to throw into the sea that which has found a safe harbor on the shore." When the brothers understood that it was Abba Anthony who had sent them this monk, they received him at once.

22. Abba Anthony said, "I believe that the body possesses a natural movement, to which it is adapted, but which it cannot follow without the consent of the soul; it only signifies in the body a movement without passion. There is another movement, which comes from the nourishment and warming of the body by eating and drinking, and this causes the heat of the blood to stir up the body to work. That is why the apostle said, 'Do not get drunk with win for that is debauchery.' (Ephes. 5.18) And in the Gospel the Lord also recommends this to his disciples: 'Take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness.' (Luke 21.34) But there is yet another movement which afflicts those who fight, and that comes from the wiles and jealousy of the demons. You must understand what these three bodily movements are: one is natural, one comes from too much to eat, the third is caused by the demons."

23. He also said, "God does not allow the same warfare and temptations to this generation as he did formerly, for men are weaker now and cannot bear so much."

24. It was revealed to Abba Anthony in his desert that there was one who was his equal in the city. He was a doctor by profession and whatever he had beyond his needs he gave to the poor, and every day he sang the Victory Hymn with the angels.

25. Abba Anthony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"

26. The brethren came to Abba Anthony and laid before him a passage from Leviticus. The old man went out into the desert, secretly followed by Abba Ammonas, who knew that this was his custom. Abba Anthony went a long way off and stood there praying, crying in a loud voice, "God, send Moses, to make me understand this saying." Then there came a voice speaking with him. Abba Ammonas said that although he heard the voice speaking with him, he could not understand what it said.

27. Three Fathers used to go and visit blessed Anthony every year and two of them used to discuss their thoughts and the salvation of their souls with him, but the third always remained silent and did not ask him anything. After a long time, Abba Anthony said to him, "You often come here to see me, but you never ask me anything," and the other replied, "It is enough for me to see you, Father."

28. They said that a certain old man asked God to let him see the Fathers and he saw them all except Abba Anthony. So he asked his guide, "Where is Abba Anthony?" He told him in reply that in the place where God is, there Anthony would be.

29. A brother in a monastery was falsely accused of fornication and he arose and went to Abba Anthony. The brethren also came from the monastery to correct him and bring him back. They set about proving that he had done this thing, but he defended himself and denied that he had done anything of the kind. Now Abba Paphnutius, who is called Cephalus, happened to be there, and he told them this parable: "I have seen a man on the bank of the river buried up to his knees in mud and some men came to give him a hand to help him out, but they pushed him further in up to his neck." Then Abba Anthony said this about Abba Paphnutius: "Here is a real man, who can care for souls and save them." All those present were pierced to the heart by the words of the old man and they asked forgiveness of the brother. So, admonished by the Fathers, they took the brother back to the monastery.

30. Some say of Saint Anthony that he was "Spirit-borne," that is, carried along by the Holy Spirit, but he would never speak of this to men. Such men see what is happening in the world, as well as knowing what is going to happen.

31. One day Abba Anthony received a letter from the Emperor Constantius, asking him to come to Constantinople, and he wondered whether he ought to go. So he said to Abba Paul, his disciple, "Ought I to go?" He replied, "If you go, you will be called Anthony; but if you stay here, you will be called Abba Anthony."

32. Abba Anthony said, "I no longer fear God, but I love Him. For love casts out fear." (John 4.18)

33. He also said, "Always have the fear of God before your eyes. Remember him who gives death and life. Hate the world and all that is in it. Hate all peace that comes from the flesh. Renounce this life, so that you may be alive to God. Remember what you have promised God, for it will be required of you on the day of judgment. Suffer hunger, thirst, nakedness, be watchful and sorrowful; weep, and groan in your heart; test yourselves, to see if you are worthy of God; despise the flesh, so that you may preserve your souls.

34. Abba Anthony once went to visit Abba Amoun in Mount Nitria and when they met, Abba Amoun said, "By your prayers, the number of the brethren increases, and some of them want to build more cells where they may live in peace. How far away from here do you think we should build the cells?" Abba Anthony said, "Let us eat at the ninth hour and then let us go out for a walk in the desert and explore the country." So they went out into the desert and they walked until sunset, and then Abba Anthony said, "Let us pray and plant the cross here, so that those who wish to do so may build here. Then when those who remain there want to visit those who have come here, they can take a little food at the ninth hour and then come. If they do this, they will be able to keep in touch with each other without distraction of mind." The distance is twelve miles.

35. Abba Anthony said, "Whoever hammers a lump of iron, first decides what he is going to make of it, a scythe, a sword, or an axe. Even so we ought to make up our minds what kind of virtue we want to forge or we labor in vain."

36. He also said, "Obedience with abstinence gives men power over wild beasts."

37. He also said, "Nine monks fell away after many labors and were obsessed with spiritual pride, for they put their trust in their own works and being deceived they did not give due heed to the commandment that says, 'Ask your father and he will tell you.'" (Deut. 32.7)

38. And he said this, "If he is able to, a monk ought to tell his elders confidently how many steps he takes and how many drops of water he drinks in his cell, in case he is in error about it."

From the book The Sayings of the Desert Fathers.
 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Saint Paisios and Contemporary "Paisioses"


By Archimandrite Paul Papadopoulos

Much has been written about the Holy Elder Paisios. People who knew him and did not known him have written about his words and his life. "The Elder told me this or that." Countless are the words and sayings of the Saint.

There have been many books written about the views of the Saint concerning the various issues he discussed with pilgrims that visited him. I did not have the blessing of knowing him, so I do not know anything about him from my own personal communication. What I know, I know from what I have read and heard.

Saint Danax the Reader

St. Danax the Reader (Feast Day - January 16)

Verses

Deprived of your head at the delta O Danax,
You were beheaded and seen to be a heavenly ruler and master.

The Holy Martyr Danax lived during the second century and came from Illyricum (i.e. Albania), from a place called Aulon (i.e. Vlore). He served there as a Reader of the Church.


During an invasion by pagans, the Saint took the church vessels and hid them in a remote place five miles from the city near the sea, in order that they not fall into the hands of the unbelievers. He was seized by soldiers, however, and was being forced to sacrifice to the god Dionysios. Refusing to sacrifice and worship their loathsome idols, he remained firm in his faith in Christ. For this he was beheaded, and his body was thrown into the sea. In this manner Saint Danax received the crown of martyrdom.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Saint Nektarios and the 15th of January


By Panagiotis S. Panagiotopoulos

Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker is connected with the date of January 15th. It is an influential date in the earthly life of the Saint.

First, on this date, the 15th of January 1847, he received in his homeland of Selybria in Eastern Thrace, the sacred Mystery of Baptism, taking the name "Anastasios", which was the name of his uncle, just three and a half months after his birth, which had taken place on 1 October 1846, in the same city.

Saint Prohor of Pcinja Monastery

St. Prohor of Pcinja (Feast Day - October 19 (Serbian) and January 15)

The venerable Prohor (or Prochoros) of Pcinja lived in the eleventh century. He lived a life of asceticism in the wilderness of Vranje on the Pcinja River in Serbia.

The Saint lived as a recluse in a cave for 32 years, never seeing a human being in this time, eating cabbage and grass roots once a week. He suffered much from evil spirits, but overcame them by the grace of God.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Annual Theophany Miracle - The Jordan Reverses Its Flow (videos)


"Today the nature of water is sanctified. The Jordan is parted and reverses its flow on seeing its Master being baptized." - Orthodox Hymn for Theophany  



The video above was recorded through a cell phone camera on the day before Theophany on January 5th (according to the Old Julian Calendar; on January 18 according to the Revised Julian Calendar) in 2006, during the blessing of the waters which takes place every year on the same day at the Jordan, in the very same area where Jesus Christ himself was baptized.

A Chapel in Patras is Dedicated to the Newly-Glorified Saint Paisios


In the courtyard of the Sacred Church of Saint Nicholas in Patras of the Peloponnese, a chapel built in honor of the newly-glorified Venerable Paisios the Athonite immediately honored him when it was announced that he was officially canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Sacred Services and Hymns for Saint Paisios the Athonite


The Sacred Services of the Venerable Paisios the Athonite were written by His Eminence Metropolitan Joel of Edessa, Pella and Almopia and is to be chanted on July 12th, the feast of Saint Paisios and the day of his repose.

On the day when Venerable Paisios was listed among the saints of the Church, Metropolitan Joel said the following:

"The venerable Paisios, with his superhuman struggles and unfailing love for God and people, proved that God did not cease to manifest saints within human history. That's why he left his mark in our time, having inspired and continue to inspire all those who come near him. He worked and continues to work like a lighthouse, showing the way to the confused people of our time and as a consolation to those in pain. May his holy intercessions cover all of us and the whole world."

It should be noted that the official Services to Saint Paisios may change until further notice by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but for now this is what we have. For this reason I will avoid translating anything other than what is below until we receive confirmation.

All the Services in Greek can be accessed in pdf formate here.

Below are some of the primary hymns in English which I translated:

(The Apolytikion below was revised by Metropolitan Joel in February 2015, together with other sections from the Service. Read the revision here.)

Apolytikion in the First Tone
The offspring of Farasa, and the adornment of Athos, and the imitator and equal in honor of the venerable ones from ages past; let us honor Paisios O faithful, the vessel full of graces, who hastens speedily to the pious faithful who cry out: Glory to Him Who gave you strength, Glory to Him Who crowned you, Glory to Him Who grants through you healings for all.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The most-famed ascetic of the Holy Mountain, and the newly-illumined luminary of the Church, let us praise him with hymns with all our heart, for he leads the faithful towards a life of excellence, filling them with rivers of gifts, therefore we cry out: Rejoice, Father Paisios.

Synaxarion
On the twelfth day of this month, the memory of our venerable Father Paisios the New the Athonite, who was perfected in peace in the year 1994.

Verses
Paisios, the tree of Mount Athos,
You were shown to be full of fruit, most-venerable one.
On the twelfth, Paisios reposed.

Megalynarion
Rejoice the communicant with the Venerable, the pride of Athos, the adornment of monastics; Rejoice the new teacher of the Church, godly-minded Paisios, our boast.

See also: Elder Paisios is Officially Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

What St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva and St. Paisios the Athonite Said About Each Other


By Hieromonk Christodoulos the Athonite

One morning in 1981, when I was a young monk, I went to see Elder Paisios, to ask him if there was another contemporary holy elder through whom Divine Grace was at work... His response was clear:

"There is Elder Porphyrios, who is in a great spiritual state and is a sanctified figure. You should go and visit him, when you can, because he is an old man and may repose."

Elder Paisios is Officially Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate



It was announced this morning that the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has officially numbered Elder Paisios the Athonite among the saints of the Church.

Below is the official press release of the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerning the canonization of Elder Paisios:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Unique Film of Mount Athos from 1953



St. Philaret the Confessor: Homily on the Theophany


By St. Philaret the Confessor

On the day of the feast of Theophany--the Baptism of the Lord--it is not out of place to remember another baptism: that baptism which was performed over each of us Orthodox Christians, that baptism at which each of us, by the mouth of our godparents, gave a promise to God that he would always renounce Satan and his works and would always unite himself, “join himself” with Christ.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Elder Paisios on the Rise of Islam in France


Elder Paisios said the following in November of 1988, and it is recorded in the book Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Spiritual Counsels I: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man. France currently has the highest population of Muslims in western Europe, many of whom are converts to Islam, estimated at around 100,000 converts alone.

In France, although it is a progressive country - it's not underdeveloped - lately eighty thousand became Muslims. Why? Because they made sin into a fashion.

Saint Markianos, Presbyter and Steward of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia

St. Markianos (Feast Day - January 10)

Saint Markianos lived in the fifth century. His wealthy ancestors came from Rome and settled in Constantinople. At some point he joined the Novatian heresy, but he repented and returned to his ancestral piety, spending his fortune in the reconstruction, repairing and decoration of churches and giving the rest to the poor and needy.

Archbishop Jovan To Be Released From Prison


Aimilios Polygenis
January 10, 2015

It took almost three and a half years of confinement in prison in Skopje to hear some good news in the case of Metropolitan Jovan (John) of Ochrid.

The judicial authorities decided, according to exclusive information from Romfea.gr, to release the Metropolitan on January 19th, having been imprisoned for three years and two months in the penal system of Skopje.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos Interviewed About Contemporary Issues of the Church and Society


The following timely and enlightening interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou was conducted by the journalist Alexander Kolliopoulos for the newspaper "Ecclesiology" out of Patras in December 2014.

1. Your Eminence, if you agree, we wanted to begin with a contemporary issue. Many people are worried that a union of the Orthodox Church with the Papal Church will take place without terms and conditions. Please clarify for us how and when is union possible with the Westerners? In the area of the Church are there "red lines" which, if violated, then we can speak about a betrayal of the faith?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Elder Paisios on Religion and Societal Problems


Elder Paisios the Athonite said the following in June of 1985, shortly before the fall of Balkan and Soviet communism:

They were going to abolish religion, because they thought religion creates problems. Now they slowly see that humans, when they don't have a faith, they don't have boundaries and they become beastly; they have nothing to stand on without ideals.

Interview with Patriarch Bartholomew on Religious Fanaticism, the Patriarchal Role, the Athonite Avaton, and the Future of Orthodoxy in Turkey, among other things


An Interview with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
by the Journalistic Team of the School of Bakogiannis 
on November 30, 2014

As part of a humanitarian education and the conveying of principles, values and ideals to young people in difficult times, the journalistic team of the School of Bakogiannis, with the coordination of Mr. Dastafridis Anastasios and members of the student body Theodora Antoniou, Constantine Efthymiadis, Vasilios Papoutsoglou, Helen Tsoutsis, Helen Chalitsiou and Georgia Harmani, it continues its work. In an effort to find answers to religious pursuits it came in contact with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who honoring their work gave the following interview.

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